February 29, 2016

Little Women Read Along :: Discussion Post :: Chapters 34-47


And we're at the final discussion! Hard to believe that February is going to be over after today, but what a fun month of reading it's been. This last portion of Little Women was fun, I really do like the story as a whole, but I have to admit that I didn't love part two as much as I loved part one. I'm not entirely certain why, but there you go. I can say, once again, that I enjoyed the book though! :) It's a quiet story, yet full of adventures and happiness. With a little sadness and growing up in the middle.

But this isn't my review, so let's get to the questions! Oh, and also I want to mention Suey, Kami, and Jenni and say a huge thank you to those ladies for hosting this read-along. As always, our discussions are lively and full of fun! Y'all make reading ever so much more awesome. :)

{Check out Jenni's post for more details about this final discussion and the upcoming watch-along of the 1994 movie.}

What do you think about the girls now? Has your opinion of them changed since the beginning or even the middle of the story?

I think they all grew up very well! Each of them had rough spots that needed smoothing and as life threw a few hardships their way, they each were able to grow into calmer, steadier, more settled women. They learned, through experience, that Marmee really was as wise as they thought. :)

As for my opinion of them, I think it did change. While I enjoyed watching them grow into who they were meant to be, it was their younger selves that I loved reading about the most. Something about their adventures together as young girls just stuck in my heart more than their older years. I could have definitely spent more time in part one. That's the part of the story that I think would be more relatable to my nieces and nephews, as I imagine reading this aloud to them. I will say that I definitely liked Amy better as an adult though.

At the end of the book, which character do you relate to most? Is it a different character than at the beginning?

Crazy as this may sound, I think I could relate to Jo better at the end. Not so much with the choices she makes and where her life goes, but more with her thoughts. Especially as she deals with loneliness and finding her spot as the family dynamics change. She spends a great deal of time in her head and I can definitely relate to that!

Yes, this is different than in part one, because there Jo is so much more opinionated and decided in her thoughts. She doesn't mind being the center of attention in the least and writes and writes at all hours of day and night. Which is so not me.

Do you think Beth should’ve died when and in the way she did?

Should've? I'm not sure I'd say that she should have died in any way at all! (I'd have been perfectly okay if she hadn't.) It was definitely a sad chapter that talked about her goodbyes. :( But death is such a part of life, so it makes sense that the March family needed to be touched by this somehow. Plus as was noted before, Alcott wrote this around the time of the Civil War, so death was very much a part of the experience of the young girls reading this story back then. Perhaps seeing the way the March's handled it may have helped some of them? I don't know, but I'd like to imagine that being true. I really appreciated that Beth got those final months to make memories for her family and for them to be able to say goodbye. Especially Jo. Although I do feel quite awful that Amy couldn't be there!

How do you feel about Laurie’s romantic decisions? Did his relationship with Amy seem developed enough to be sincere?

You'll have to see my lengthy response to the question about Jo below for my thoughts on the first question. But for the way the story ended up going, I do think he and Amy seem to fit. We don't spend every moment with them, but their relationship had many months and many letters and time spent together. So I think they had plenty of time to fall in love and was satisfied by their ending.

(Although I will say that I didn't think much of Alcott's foreshadowing, by having Jo mention she thought Amy would be perfect for Laurie. "Amy is left for him, and they would suit excellently..." That phrase felt horned in to me, because not just a moment before, Jo thought Beth liked him! And prior to this, I never noticed anything about Jo's responses or reactions to make me think she thought that way. I'm okay with Jo being happy with the idea of those two together, but I just hadn't seen any such feeling in her prior to this moment. It simply seemed a bit pointed.....but perhaps I'm just reacting to the whole Jo/Laurie thing...)

How do you feel about Jo’s romantic decisions? Do you think they were consistent with her character?

I'm a bit undecided on this now that I've officially finished the novel. As I was reading her thought processes during this time of her life, I could see how she came by her logic and why it worked for her. So I guess I'd say her decisions were fairly consistent with her character. But! I honestly don't think that Alcott wrote her this way in part one. As I've thought over it, it truly feels like Alcott was setting Jo up for Laurie. The way they treated each other, they way they were so aware of each other, the way they just seem to fit. Oh, I don't think they were thinking romantically through most of part one, but the way Alcott writes them as friends just makes your mind wander that way. (I can easily see why so many of her readers wrote asking if that would happen. It fits with the romantic ideals so many of us ladies have, especially when we're young.)

That being said, I also acknowledge that I'm reading this story with modern eyes and with modern "romantic tropes" in mind. So if Alcott truly wrote them this way, perhaps unconsciously, without realizing what her readers would surmise, I can give her that. (I also have to acknowledge that I read this story with the knowledge that Alcott hated the idea that readers wanted Jo and Laurie together and so decided to thwart those hopes. Not maliciously, maybe, but she did actively choose to give Jo to someone else.)

So! What I'm ultimately left with, is that through 75% of the story, especially during the first half of part two, Jo (it seems to me anyway) is actively written as someone who will not marry. In fact, at one point I was truly wishing that her story wouldn't go the way I knew it would! I could easily picture her as the spinster aunt, helping with her nieces and nephews, yet somehow, whether through writing stories or however, finding her place in the world and creating her own life. Which she did, just in different way than I'd been wishing for at that particular moment.

Yet! I can also honestly say that as I sped through the final chapters, I was actually quite satisfied with the way Jo ended up! And I do think Marmee had a great point that Jo and Laurie were a bit too much alike in temperament, especially with the way Jo was written as an adult. See what I mean? I can't seem to marry the two separate feelings together. So what I'm ultimately left with is that it sort of feels like we get two different Jo's in the book. I like them both, but I can't seem to meld them together....

What do you think about the names the girls and their husbands gave to their children?

Not really a fan of Demijohn. At all. And Amy's Beth...that's just really sweet.

If this was your first time reading Little Women, what do you think? Did it meet your expectations? Would you read it again? If this was a reread, do you feel the same as you did when you read it the first time? Or, has your opinion changed?

It's a wonderful story! I think it would make a fantastic story to be read aloud to children. Especially part one! :) It definitely met my expectations and yes, I would read it again. It will be interesting to see if my opinion changes with a reread.

Do you have a favorite quote or passage from Little Women?

"Touched to the heart, Mrs. March could only stretch out her arms, as if to gather children and grandchildren to herself, and say, with face and voice full of motherly love, gratitude, and humility-
"Oh my girls, however long you may live, I never can wish you a greater happiness than this!"

Would you change anything about the story if you could? If so, what?

I'm not really sure I would. Much as I clearly have feelings on the Jo/Laurie situation, I'm undecided whether I wish I could change that or not. I do think I'd be perfectly happy if the book had ended at part one. I really loved it the best!

Even though the setting for Little Women is quite different from today’s world, do you think we can learn anything from this story? If so, what?

Yes! Remembering that as one grows up, what may have seemed an annoying trait can be softened and/or changed. Also the importance of family and how much siblings and parents can be there for each other. Oh! And the fact that what you learn as a child (what your parents teach you), you never forget. :)

Movie Quote Monday :: Leap Year

Declan: [slams Anna's suitcase on the ground] How does that work?
Anna: Can you be careful with that, it was a gift from my boyfriend!
Declan: He bought you a suitcase?
Anna: It's a Vuitton.
Declan: What?
Anna: A Louis Vuitton?
Declan: Come on. Ah, is it yourself Louis? Can I give you a hand getting into the car Louis? She named her suitcase, she's a crackpot.

In honor of Leap Day, I just had to post this today! Plus Amber and I just had a Twitter-watch-along of this movie on Saturday night. (Yes, we are awesome like that. :) It's one of my favorites! The music is fabulous, Amy Adams and Matthew Goode are too adorable together, and it's just all around a great movie. It makes me laugh and swoon and turn it off with a happy sigh at the end. What more could I ask for?

Happy Leap Year, my lovelies!

February 28, 2016

Review: Stitching Snow by R.C. Lewis

This is SUCH a fun story! I haven't seen much about it around the blogosphere and I cannot figure out why. (Maybe I'm just not looking in the right spots?) Because Ms. Lewis' skill with writing a scifi fairytale retelling is great! I loved that I could see the elements of Snow White, yet she created an entire new world and story of her own. It worked for me. Fabulously!

The characters are awesome. Y'all know how I love to gush about characters, and Essie and Dane are worth gushing over! Essie especially, as she starts out with so many secrets and it takes time for her to even trust the reader with sharing them. The more I got to know her, the more inside her head I got, the more I wanted to jump in the pages and make things better for her. She quickly grew in my heart and I couldn't wait for her happy ending to arrive because she so deserves happiness in her life! She acts all tough (and she is), but she's also got a tender heart. Her scars are many and it takes a bit for her to trust anyone.

Which Dane certainly didn't help! He blundered through his choices (for good reasons, but that doesn't exonerate him completely) and messes with Essie's safe (or is it?) little world. I admit to being a bit frustrated with him at first, just like Essie. (He, too, has a lot of secrets.) But it wasn't long until he endeared himself and watching his interactions with her thereafter was great fun. These two most certainly fit well together and we get to enjoy watching them figure this out. :)

I can't forget to mention Dimwit! And the other six drones as well, but Dimwit takes center stage. He made me laugh! I loved that there was more to his idiocy than first meets the eye. He ends up being pretty significant to the plot, surprising everyone!

The world-building is great, the mysteries and secrets that must be figured out are sufficiently intriguing, the romance is adorable, and I loved that it's a stand-alone. All in all, this a wonderful story! Ms. Lewis has officially been added to my favorite authors list! :)

"You did this, didn't you?" Dane shouted over the alarm.
"Of course I did! Set it down on Garam or we'll both die."
"With the thrusters misfiring like this? We'll never make it."
I glanced at the readout on his panel. He was right. I'd sabotaged myself right into a corner and had about five minutes to get both of us out of it .
"Where's my gear?"
He shot a glare over his shoulder. "How bent do you think I am?"
"Dane, I did this because I don't want to die! Where is my gear?"

Then we hit turbulence.
I really hoped Dane was as good a pilot as he was a liar. We both had to survive the landing. It was the only way I'd get a chance to kill him.

February 27, 2016

Little Women Read Along :: Discussion Post :: Chapters 18-33

Finally getting to part two! With my computer acting up this past week and my time on the internet limited, I am severely behind on this post. *sigh* If only life always went perfectly, right? But alas.... Here I am anyway!

I must say this story is quite a lot of fun. I may have mentioned that on the last discussion post, but it's true! These "little women" are so enjoyable to spend time with. :)

{Click over to Kami's post for further discussion and all the details!}

What would be your dream cast for the March sisters (Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy), Marmee, Laurie, and whoever else you'd like to cast?

Oh goodness, I have absolutely no idea! I'm never any good at these sorts of questions. Truthfully, as I've only seen the '94 movie version, I'm okay with the actors/actresses from that.

How do you feel about Meg and Mr. Brooke's relationship?

Oh, Meg. Such a confused state she's in at the beginning of it! I giggled at her indecisiveness, even as I felt for Mr. Brook. But once she comes to understand her feelings, I thought they were very sweet. Granted, they have a bit of a time of it, but I can imagine all newly married folks have some adjusting to do, some learning of how to work together and communicate and all that. So, I like them! They do fit each other very well, I believe. :)

How do you feel about Jo's reaction to Meg getting married?

Poor Jo! She just doesn't handle change very well. I don't think falling in love and getting married have really even entered her mind. It's not something that she's even considering as a possibility in her life at this point, or her sisters lives. Plus I can imagine the sadness she feels at the prospect that Meg will no longer be around on a daily basis. All of which is to say I think her reaction is understandable. We know she's impulsive and opinionated (and possibly a bit scared of growing up?), so it seems just like her. It made me laugh actually.

The girls are growing up and changing, do you feel differently towards them now than you did at the beginning?

I do, slightly. They are all as endearing as ever, but as their lives are changing, so are my opinions of them. Not in a bad way! It's more of a realization that they're all grown up and so I can no longer think of them as girls.

Two important men were introduced in these chapters. What are your impressions of Mr. March and Professor Bhaer?

We don't get a lot of time with either, but I do like them. They both have a kindness about them. It's nice to see Mr. March home and able to dispense wisdom along with Marmee. :) As for Professor Bhaer, he's growing on me. I know what happens, so I'm anxious to see how the book portrays the events. I do like how he seems to understand Jo, at least the writer-side of her.

Do you think it was fair that Amy got to go to Europe instead of Jo?

Yes, because Amy had spent the most time with Aunt March. Plus I'm not really sure that Jo would have loved the adventure as much as Amy. Jo is much more practical and a trip to Europe isn't really the epitome of practicality. :) It fits with Amy's personality more, I think.

What are your thoughts on the time period and setting of the book? Do you like it? Why do you think a very important historical event like the Civil War is hardly mentioned in the story?

I do like it! When this was mentioned in the twitter chat, this thought occurred to me. (I believe Courtney mentioned it first?) The fact that Alcott wrote this during the Civil War (or just after it or on the tail end of it, one of those) and that she was writing it to young women probably had some bearing on why the war itself barely gets a mention. I can only imagine how difficult living through that war must have been for those back then and most likely the younger generation (young ladies specifically) were in need of reminding of happy things. That life could go on beyond a war, and marriage, family, and happiness could come. Even in the midst of hard times! What better way to remind them than by creating a family that they could relate to, as well as adventures they may even want to try themselves (like starting their own Pickwick Club for instance).

Louisa May Alcott supposedly patterned the March sisters after herself and her own sisters. How accurate do you think she portrayed her family? Do you think a lot of the book is an idealized version of her and her sisters?

Possibly pretty accurately. They say that writers should write what they know, so clearly Alcott did. :) I think it probably is idealized. Most fictional stories are, plus if her goal was what I talked about above, she may have wanted it to be very idealized!

Why do you think Louisa May Alcott later added Part 2 to the book?

My guess is money. I think I read somewhere that she wrote part one as a way to help her family's finances. And since it was such a success, it makes sense she'd write more. (Although I will say I'd've been fine if she'd stopped with part one. I'm enjoying part two, just not quite as much as part one. This may partly be because they're all going their separate ways now. Which is only natural since they're adults! But I think I like them better when they're all together at home. :)

What is your favorite adaptation of Little Women and why?

As I've only watched the '94 movie version, I'll have to choose that one. But it's a really good one! It's been a bit since I've watched it, but so far I think the screenwriters stayed pretty faithful to the book. Which is always a plus! :D

February 25, 2016

Little Women Read Along :: Discussion Post :: Chapters 1-17

Bet y'all didn't realize that I've been participating in a read-along of Little Women by Louisa May Alcott this month, huh? Mainly because this is the first I've mentioned it here! I meant to post something at the end of January so I could invite some of you to join in, but...well.....obviously that didn't happen.
Still! I've been a little behind on the reading and WAY behind on the discussion posts. Yet here I am! Ready for part one. :)

{Click over to Suey's post to find out more!

What's your opinions so far about each of the girls? Do you identify more with one or the other of them? Do you like them, or do they get on your nerves in a way? Which one do you think would be your friend?

I like them! They each can be a bit annoying, but then so can we all, right? I'm not sure I really identify with any particular one of them. I mean, I tend to be quiet and shy, like Beth, but I have my loud and opinionated moments too, like Jo. I'm sure I've even had moments of envy, like Meg, and most definitely I've annoyed my older brothers, like Amy, by being the youngest and the only girl. So maybe I should say I identify with all of them? :) I think I'd be friends with Beth though, at least at first. Because Jo and Meg would intimidate me and Amy would perchance annoy me with her "airs".

What do you think of Mrs. March aka. Marmee? What's one of your favorite pieces of advice or lessons she's taught the girls so far?

I LOVE Marmee!! She's an amazing woman, keeping a household going with her husband being gone and keeping her girls in line. The latter of which I think is quite the job! I love that she can see the individual gifts and good that each girl has and seeks to draw it out of them. I do believe my favorite bit of advice (or in this case, lesson) that she gives the girls is when they have that week of no work. Especially that final day where she disappeared and they had to do everything themselves! I love that she doesn't force anything on them, she tends to let their own choices teach them. In fact, they most often have to learn the hard way, so to speak. Plus she leads by example. She "practices what she preaches".

Do you think that the characterization of these girls and this family is realistic? Explain.

It certainly feels so to me. I have no sisters, so I can't speak precisely, but I do have three brothers and life at home while I was growing up was busy and crazy. With boys hither and yon and me trying to tag along as much as I was able. The chaos of home life and the way Alcott describes it makes it feel incredibly realistic. I read (and heard some of the other ladies reading along with me say this) that Alcott based the girls on her own family. If that's true, then that leads me to believe she understood exactly what she was writing about. And I think it shows.

On the other hand, I also think she probably embellished a little. It is fiction, you know. :) And while real life has lots of happy moments, we're not guaranteed a perfect happiness nor a "Marmee" with good advice.

What's your favorite scene or incident so far? And why?

Hmmm. I think I have several favorites, to be honest. (Big surprise, right?) I like their post office idea and the fact that they continue to use it. I like the way Jo worried for Laurie and wanted to befriend him and how she went about it. I like the way old Mr. Lawrence drew Beth out of her shell and their subsequent sweet friendship! I also love the Pickwick Portfolio idea. So many sweet moments in this book! :)

If this is your second (or third etc.) time reading this story, what stands out to you this time?

This is my first time reading it actually. I thought maybe I'd read it sometime in my younger years, but nothing is feeling familiar, so I must not have. I am enjoying it though!

If this is your first time reading this story, is it meeting your expectations? Or is it different than expected? Explain.

I would definitely say it's meeting my expectation. I was expecting a quiet story (with no big dramatics) about four sisters and watching them grow up. Of course, it did help that I've seen the '94 movie prior to this.

How do you feel about Jo cutting off her hair? Was this incident surprising to you? Do you think it's symbolic of anything?

Like I mentioned above, I've seen the movie, so while I'd forgotten that bit, it came back to me upon reading it. She was willing to step out and do something, which is just like her. She can be quite impulsive, but always willing to do whatever she can to help her family!

What's your feeling about the inclusion of poems, letters, stories, plays and etc. into the story? 

I really like it! It's a fun addition to the story. And as the book feels like it may have been written to young women during Alcott's time, I can see where including the various things would have made it more enjoyable for them. Perhaps even given them the idea to do the same?

Any thoughts in particular on the male characters in this story?

I like Mr. Lawrence! Especially his friendship with Beth. And Laurie is quite endearing.

Are you liking this reading experience? If yes, why? If not, why?

I am indeed! I love that Suey, Kami, and Jenni have encouraged me to read some classics I may not have taken the time to pick up otherwise. And I do love the story! These sisters feel like a small part of my heart already. :)

February 14, 2016

In Honor of Valentine's Day...

I read several of the Top Ten Tuesday posts last week which featured your favorite couples from literature, favorite quotes, favorite romances, etc. And though I was unable to join in on Tuesday I was hoping I'd have time to do a post before Valentine's Day was over. So here I am! :)

I've listed a few of my favorite couples on here before {part 1} {part 2}, but as I keep reading more books, I keep finding more couples that I love! Hence I'm going to do another list. And perhaps introduce you to some wonderful characters and their love stories. These couples just made my heart *happy dance* and I grin every single time I read their stories again. Don't you just love when books do that for you?

Margaret Hale & John Thornton ~ North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

Come now, you knew I'd mention them someday, right? Because y'all know how much I love these two!! :D I love so very many things about them, but I think what I love the most is how they understand one another. Once they both get over their initial dislike and frustration, they are very equal in intelligence. Their minds are constantly whirring with ideas, and when those ideas come together, they create quite a powerhouse! They challenge and learn from one another, they change for one another, and once they start loving each other...well. But their journey to finding that connection and love is so wonderfully well done! Kudos to Ms. Gaskell. :)

Puck & Sean ~ The Scorpio Races by Maggie Steifvater

Oh how I fell for these two! Their story is quieter and their journey to find each other is expressed more in what they don't say than by what they do. Both carefully choose their next steps (well, Puck can be impulsive, but for good reasons! :) and watching them slowly dance their way around one another.....*swoon* Seriously, friends! Ms. Steifvater excels at letting the chemistry between these two fill the pages, almost without any talking between them at all! Oh, they talk, but they say so much more with just their awareness of each other. And how they care for one another. It's a delight to read!

Sasharia & Zathdar ~ Sasharia En Garde by Sherwood Smith

I don't know what to say about these two other than you really must meet them! Their chemistry is fantastic and their story....let's just say that this heroine refuses to take anything lying down. She's feisty, heroic, will fight her own battles thankyouverymuch, and her interactions with Zathdar are fraught with feelings. Which she may or may not appreciate, depending on the situation! ;) Let's just say that they both have a journey to take and we readers get the privilege of riding along and enjoying!

Essie & Dane ~ Stitching Snow by R.C. Lewis

Take two characters who don't trust each other, add a dash of scifi/space dramatics where lives hang in the balance, have one character kidnap the other against their will, and then have them fall for each other against the backdrop of a time of possible war. And there you have it! A fabulous, chemistry-filled, romance for your consumption! I loved the banter between these two and watching them very, very slowly come to trust one another.

26838423Ava & Keegan ~ While You're Awake by Amber Stokes

Keegan is the sweetest! He takes such good care of Ava and her fears. He's quite simply a nice guy. And I, for one, adore nice guys in literature! #NiceGuysFTW :D I loved these two enough that I wish this wasn't only a short story, but a full length novel so I could have more time with them.

Lucy & James ~ The Bronte Plot by Katherine Reay

This book is not a romance by any means, but the meet cute between these two had me at hello anyway! James, himself, doesn't get a lot of page time, but I still loved their interactions. For all that he spends a great deal of the story angry and frustrated with Lucy (and rightly so!), as she slowly came to understand herself and started to change her bad habits, so too their conversations began to change. Theirs is a slow journey and we end with them barely beginning, but something about their story just resonates with me.

Flossie & Reeve ~ Tiffany Girl by Deeanne Gist

I loved these two! I know I keep saying that, but it's true every time! The time period, coupled with the chemistry between the characters and the way they slowly came to understand one another, all adds together to make a wonderful journey. You really should get to know them! :)

Alice & Paul ~ The Pepper in the Gumbo by Mary Jane Hathaway

If you take a bookstore-owning heroine who dislikes technology and give her a technology-savvy hero determined to love her, you have this fabulous, chemistry-laden story! Alice and Paul's interactions practically sizzle with their awareness of each other. But it's so much more than just chemistry, they understand one another. And I love how Paul desires to help Alice in whatever ways he can. His heart is so good and who can withstand a nice guy? :)

Willa & Patrick ~ A Season to Love by Nicole Deese

Oh my heart, I love these two!! I love how Patrick understands Willa's fears and seeks to help her conquer them. He's another nice guy with such a good heart. When a good guy consistently showers you with care and concern, how is a girl to resist? Willa can't and as they come together...*happy sigh*. Their story makes me so happy, I'm grinning right now as I type this! :D

Catherine & David ~ The Thorn Keeper by Pepper D. Basham

I just finished reading about these two the other day and oh my goodness how I love them! Their story comes out in a couple weeks and you really need to meet them. I loved how David realized how special and awesome Catherine is, even when she didn't believe it herself. And Catherine! She's an amazing woman whose mind never stops working to solve all the myriad of problems that are constantly making themselves known. These two are SO good for each other! Put this book on your radar!

Happy Valentine's Day, my lovelies! I hope you're showered with love today.

February 13, 2016

Review: Sasharia En Garde by Sherwood Smith

Ms. Smith's Crown Duel remains one of my all time favorites, so when I found out that this book takes place in the same universe, just a different time period, I knew I wanted to read it! And am I ever glad I did. Because Sasha is awesome!! Add in swashbuckling pirates, magic, adventure, romance, mysterious princes, villainous kings, a little bit of modern day Los Angeles, and fabulous characters, and you have a whole lot of fun! :)

Characters will make or break a story for me and I'm happy to say that Sasha totally makes this story what it is. She's snarky and hilarious in her head. And when those thoughts get spoken aloud? You'd better be prepared to keep up or just get out of her way! Having grown up in modern day LA, but born in another world, her mother trained her well and it shows. Even when kidnapped through the World Gate and thrust into saving her father with no preparation, she's still been trained how to handle herself and shows it. Once she gets with the new program, grudgingly I might add, her adventures truly begin. Sasha is just one of those characters either you'll love or you won't, I suspect. She talks (and thinks!) a mile a minute, mixing pop culture-y things with old world knowledge. Her ability to sword fight is soon made apparent and she never hesitates to let everyone around her know that she won't be taken for granted. But she's got a kind heart and love of her family, so when she knows her father may be alive but hidden and her mother is in trouble, she jumps right in to do what she needs to.

Her mom, Sun, gets to tell bits of her own story and she's a fascinating woman. I enjoyed getting to see more of the whole picture of what was going on in the story, rather than just what Sasha was dealing with. But I still loved Sasha's parts best, so would skim the rest pretty quickly I admit. The romance is great fun as well. Sasha doesn't want to like him, but she can't help herself and that makes for a good deal of grinning and *happy dancing* on my part! :D

I love Ms. Sherwood's universe. Her world-building isn't grand and magnificent, yet the history and longevity of this world and it's characters is apparent. While we may not see every detail of what is happening, I could picture the different places without any trouble and could imagine the characters lives going on even while not on the page. Which is a sign of great writing in my book!

All in all, this book has now been added to my favorites list. And Sasha is a character not easily forgotten! I'm so glad to have her story on my shelf so I can reread all my favorite scenes again. Highly recommend for fantasy lovers!

"Zathdar," I repeated, wanting out of that argument before it started. My head hurt too much. I gave him a mock frown. "There wouldn't be any apostrophes in it, would there?"
"Apostrophes?" He pronounced the word in English. It hadn't translated out in Khani.
Seeing that Elva had stopped glaring and was curious, I reached for the smallest square of paper, dipped a quill into the ink and wrote Z'ath'd'ar in English.
"Flyspecks." The pirate turned the paper this way and that. "The letters seem clear, but the purpose of the flyspecks?"
"Well, in magic stories at home, heroes or villains have names that begin with Z," I said. "And a lot of apostrophes. Just checking. You know, if you're a hero--or a villain."

February 9, 2016

Review: The End of the World by Amy Matayo

Ouch. Oh my heart. This story is hard, friends. It's painful, it wounds, and it hurts. It is so far from easy and happy, and y'all know I love my happy, funny books! But what an incredible story it is. In spite of the hard, the emotions don't stop! Because I ended this book with so many FEELINGS. Ones that I'm struggling to put into words. It's not often a story will do that to me, but this one....Ms. Matayo, you are a superb writer! I have no other words for your skill with the pen and this story is the perfect proof of your ability. I'm in awe of these characters you've created! :)

It was clear from the very first page that this story was going to be different. I was a bit unsure of what I would think of it, to be honest, yet it didn't take long at all for me to get drawn into Shaye and Cameron's world and then the raw emotions began! Their lives are difficult to put it mildly. I wanted so badly to reach into the pages and wrap my arms around those two characters and just hug them as tight and as long as I could. Or as long as they'd let me anyway. Because their story is one that isn't easy to read about. (I still wanted to hold them tight at the end because they need more people to love them! And oh how I love them now.)

But! For all the pain involved (a fact which would make it seem like there's nothing happy about this story at all), the idea that these two broken souls could somehow find a glimmer of hope in their darkness.....well, that just makes it worth delving into. Because hope is there, my friends! The flame is small and hiding in the grime and dirt (it seems almost nonexistent really), but it's still there. And the fact that Shaye and Cameron were somehow able to find it and cling to it, despite all that life threw in their paths, that gave me hope that their story would somehow find a good ending. And I'm so glad I had the privilege to journey with them to that beautiful ending!

This book is not for the faint of heart because the issues involved are serious. But the characters are so very resilient and every single time you think they'll be unable to get through another moment, up they stand and forward they go! Shaye and Cameron are so worth getting to know. For as hard as their journey is, that makes their bits of happy shine ever so much brighter! And their story is amazing, just you read it and see! :)

**I received a complimentary copy from the author in exchange for my honest review.

Because abandonment is the worst feeling in the world. It's itchy, like a wool sweater in a summer heat wave. I know this firsthand. For years now, that sweater has clung to me like a second skin I'll never be able to remove.

"What would make you happy?" When her arm lands on my shoulder, I know I would willingly ask the question a thousand more times. "Knowing you've figured out how to live in the present. Because today is hard enough without having to relive yesterday over and over and over."

Happiness, I've found, is a precious thing once it comes to you. And when it arrives in your early twenties for the first time ever, you don't plan on letting it go. My grip might be fragile, but it's strong.

She's been quiet the entire drive, looking at her hands like they hold the secrets of the future. Like if she stares hard enough, answers will appear in the form of words in the lines on her skin and rise up to tell her a story.

February 3, 2016

Review: A Season to Love by Nicole Deese

Oh people, this story. It's SO GOOD. Seriously! Ms. Deese swept me away into Willa's life and there I happily stayed until the final page. I loved this story so, so much! I know I say that about a lot of books, but trust me, this one is truly special. It's not even so much the adorable romance between Willa and Patrick, although don't get me wrong, when those two get in close proximity to one another....wowzers! There ain't no denyin' they got chemistry, mmkay? ;)

Yet as much as I love them together, this story is really Willa's and I fell in love with her immediately. It's her fears I could so relate to and her doubts and questions that I understood. It didn't take long at all for me to feel extra protective of her! Even as I understood the reasons why her family and friends were worried for her (as was I!), I still spent every moment feeling her frustration as she struggled through her daily life all while dealing with people who always had the best of intentions but not the best of ways to fulfill said intentions (her brother in particular. I wanted to wring his neck a few times!). Maybe because I could see how hard she was struggling to get a grip on her life. She needed a major push, no doubt about it, but every time her hackles would rise, so would mine. And I was with her every single hard step out of her comfort zone and into a new courageous life.

A certain someone's help in learning to tame her fears certainly helped matters along quite nicely too. ;) Which is to say that I loved the quiet romance that slowly developed! While there's plenty of chemistry between the two, I particularly enjoyed how Patrick knew to give Willa her space. And that she needed a friend and a mentor of sorts on her road to fearlessness. His gentle pushing using an old mentor's travel journal was just the thing Willa needed.

Willa's journey moved me! I was swept into her life for a few hundred pages and loved every minute of watching her grow braver and stronger. She's a character that is still rattling around in my head days later and has become a part of my heart now. I highly recommend getting to know her! I really don't think you'll be disappointed. :)

**I received a complimentary copy from Waterfall Press via Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

"Sometimes it takes seeing the world through someone else's eyes to realize where you fit inside it, you know?"

Still I chose not to speak. Words are often the last thing a hurting person needs.

February 2, 2016

Bite-Sized Reviews :: Erynn Mangum Edition

Erynn Mangum has long been a favorite author of mine. Her books never fail to make me laugh! She's self-published several novellas that I'd been meaning to read for a few years now and finally over the Christmas holidays I did. Yay! So I thought I'd just group them together and shower you with Erynn Mangum fabulousness! Great idea, right? :) Let's get to it!

My Revised Christmas List
Love stories where the two people have an awesome friendship first have always been a favorite of mine. So watching Chloe and Landon's friendship turn into something more is just adorable! I loved how, with just a few short pages to tell their story, Ms. Mangum convinced me of their long-standing friendship and just how much these two understood each other. The reader can tell they're made for each other, but it takes the two of them a bit longer to realize it. Which makes for a short and sweet story with much cuteness and fun! :)

Return to Chocolate
I loved this story! I loved Jane the best. Mostly because I could relate to her. Moving back home after being away for several years is not easy. At all! But sometimes the hard things are the necessary things. Of course, my move may have been a lot easier if I'd had a chocolate shop to come home to like she does. Mmmmm. The descriptions of the chocolate in this story just made me crave it! :) And Sam. Oh how I loved Sam! His immediate sweetness to Jane, his understanding of her and how she feels about her family, his care once he knows who her family is, just his overall niceness. Their chemistry is wonderful! This is a sweet bit of cute that I will be rereading again and again.

Merry and Bright
Ms. Mangum really does excel at the friendship-turned-romance stories! Like a lot of her other protagonists, Joe and Kelly have an awesome rapport. They just get each other! Even Kelly's family can see it. Poor Kelly, on the other hand, requires a bit of time with Joe, with no distractions, before she can see what's right in front of her face. But that's the beauty of this story, we get to watch as proximity, due to a snow storm, causes feelings to erupt in all the sweetest of ways. I loved Kelly and Joe together, and with Kelly's family as their not so subtle matchmakers, their love story is meant to be! Definitely recommend!

Identical Differences
Just as sweet as her others! I admit it takes a bit to understand Alexia and her reasons for hating Justin. Especially when he's so nice to her when we meet him. But once I knew her story, I could see where things from our childhood can shape our opinions as adults, even if said opinions are wrong. And Alexia does come to realize how wrong she is thankfully. Because Justin is adorable! Watching these two together made me wish this story was full length because we only get a small glimpse of their beginning and I'd love to read more of their journey. :) My one small complaint is Rachel, Alexia's twin. She was a bit of a bridezilla at times and even though she and Alexia are great sisters, she still frustrated me a bit. I suppose I wished for a little more of an acknowledgement from her about too much focus on herself. But that's a very minor thing and overall I really enjoyed this book.

February 1, 2016

Bite-Sized Reviews :: Edition Seventeen

Well! Here I am again, cleaning out my to-be-reviewed list. I am sooo behind on my reviews! As always, I know, it seems I'm constantly saying that, doesn't it? I'm sorry. Every time I think I'll get caught up, life happens and I get way behind again. *heavy sigh* Perhaps that should be one of my 2016 goals! To keep on top of my book reviews. Yes! Now let's just hope I can, right? :)

Geek Girl by Holly Smale
This was so much fun! I absolutely loved Harriet. From her clumsy introduction to modeling and her own unexplainable fascination with it, to the cute (and frustrating) guy she has to work with, to the way she grows and learns who she is and what she wants, it all combines to make for a hilarious story! All great stories have awesome characters and Harriet is definitely one of those. Watching as she stumbles her way through figuring out what she wants to do with her life makes for such a fun ride. I laughed and cried with her and finished the final page with a grin on my face. "Popcorn entertainment" that I couldn't put down. What more could you ask for from a book? :)

Straight to You by Liwen Y. Ho
A great mix of sweet romance and real life. By which I mean, Ashlynn and Jeremy are all kinds of adorbs! But their romance isn't just about the falling in love part, it's also about the choosing to love part. Neither of them are perfect people and they have things in their pasts they each have to work through, separately and together. Their journey together takes compromise and choosing each other time and time again. It feels real! And it's not easy either, but watching them come together and become even better as a couple is so wonderful to see. So glad I read this one!

True to You by Liwen Y. Ho
This is another great romance from Ms. Ho! After meeting Ben and Melanie in Straight to You, I was happy to find out how they ended up together. :) Their story is full of chemistry and fun, but it's got the real life element as well. Because while there's an immediate connection, neither one of them was looking for it. In fact, Melanie is engaged to a very nice man already. I confess that love stories that begin with one of the protagonists engaged to someone else make me a little leery, but Ms. Ho handles this very well. I appreciated that Melvin was a genuinely nice guy and that their breakup wasn't full of dramatics (except maybe from Melanie's mother :). Because once Melanie meets Ben...well. You'll have to read it and find out for yourself! :D

Made You Up by Francesca Zappia
I haven't ever read a story with a main character who has schizophrenia before. But Ms. Zappia does a fabulous job of getting her readers to sympathize with and like Alex. She is an amazing character! And her story completely blew me away. I was sucked in and turning pages as fast as I could! Living with a daily question of whether anything or anyone she sees is real or imaginary would be tough. But Alex is one determined young lady and desires to live life on her own terms. Her journey is real and heart-wrenching, but filled with little bits of happy that help get her through. This is a very thought-provoking read with a twist I did not see coming at all! You should read it. I highly recommend!

Pairing Off by Elizabeth Harmon
I've loved watching figure skating for years, so when I saw this book had a romance between two skaters, I knew I'd want to try it. Am I ever glad I did! Carrie and Anton's lives aren't easy and when they come together it's explosive. In a good way! :) Their chemistry is sizzling. I loved all their interactions, especially on the ice. Ms. Harmon described the skating scenes so well it was as if I were out there skating with them. I loved that! There were a couple plot points that I was not expecting, but there were some predictable things as well. Overall, I absolutely loved this story and will look forward to more from Ms. Harmon. :)


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