Review: Barely Breathing by Pamela Clare

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Hoo boy, this book. This is the story of Lexi Jewell who returns to her hometown to help her father try to win his wife back and keep her from divorcing him. She keeps telling herself that its temporary and that she’ll go back to Chicago in a few weeks when everything back home is settled. For better or worse, she has the freedom to make this extended trip back to Colorado because she’s recently resigned her post at a big accountancy firm following a scandal. Of course, things are complicated back home by many things. Her father and her step-mother are prideful, cantankerous coots. The local Mountain Search and Rescue organization is having some financial difficulties and need an accountant. Oh, and her ex-boyfriend Austin is a park ranger and a member of the volunteer Rocky Mountain Search and Rescue organization and is stupidly hot.

So, shenanigans and many sexy bits ensue. There’s a heart-warming ending. This is exactly what I was looking for. Its a lovely, little romance novel. It is a series and I might even read the next one, which is about the Park Ranger’s best friend, who is the fire chief!

Review: Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald

img_4946This book was really cute. It is the story of Sara, who comes to America, specifically to Broken Wheel, Iowa, to meet her pen pal only to find out that her pen pal has died. Sara and her pen pal Amy exchanged books and bonded over their mutual love of reading. Sara had worked for a bookstore in her home country of Sweden, but it has permanently closed its doors. So, she has the time to vacation and to decide what is next in her life.

Since Amy isn’t there to meet her, the town steps in. They set her up in Amy’s house (as Amy would have wanted) and get someone to drive her around (a couple of someones, actually, both of whom have their own little subplots). Everyone is so kind and generous to her that she decides she needs to find a way to pay everyone back. She finally lands on opening a bookstore in a store front conveniently owned by Amy and using Amy’s books. This, of course, changes the lives of many people in town. The book is quite long, but it has at least 4 sub-plots that are all resolved in the narrative and that takes time.

 

When I posted about this being my current listen, I said that I picked this book because it is set in Iowa and I was pretty sure it was written by someone not-from-Iowa. I thought that was a wonderful novelty. Having lived in Iowa many years, I’m always interested in hearing what people who haven’t had that experience think about the state. And, I have to say, I found it a little confusing.  First, I was pretty sure that the town was supposed to be in Southern Iowa, but then it mentioned that it could be a bedroom community for Cedar Rapids, which is not in Southern Iowa. (And, is the next town over from where I went to high school). Second, there’s a gay kid who comes to town to investigate the bookstore and then make friends with the gay guys that run the local tavern because he has no other outlet for meeting gay people. But…he has a car and lives near-ish to Cedar Rapids and can’t make it to Iowa City which isn’t that far beyond Cedar Rapids and has an actual gay bar (not just a bar owned and operated by a gay couple) and has had a gay bar since the ’90s? Also, while we’re talking about the bar owned and operated by a gay couple, this book was set around 2011 and there was at least one comment about that couple and marriage, but gay couples could get married in Iowa in 2011. That bothered me a little. I was also a little bothered by some of the representations of Iowans. Like, I love the Iowans I know, but we’re super nosy and will tell people what we think, so I don’t know how its possible that no one knew Sara was coming and that no one made it clear to Amy beforehand that she had to A. tell Sara she was dying and B. make specific arrangements for Sara, should she be dead by the time of her arrival. (I admit it. I am often that person telling someone exactly what I think after I’ve nosed around a little.)

The audio book is read by Fiona Hardingham and Lorelei King and it had me wondering the entire way through, do people outside the US have an understanding that American accents fall into two categories: typical American and Southern? Do people outside the US think that everyone in rural American speaks with a Southern accent? Because, that is not true. There are features of Iowa English that make it unique (as is true of every regional area) but those features don’t really overlap with Southern English. They’re probably closer to Minnesota English (and Canadian English), Wisconsin English, and Indiana, Illinois and Northern Ohio than the South. You’re more likely to hear someone say the word “milk” and have it sound like “melk” then you are to hear someone say “pin” and “pen” the same way.  Also, Iowans have all the r’s. This is something that interests me to no end and I may do a series on accents, language and representation in the things we’ve read here on this blog.

Anyway, it was cute. So, if you’re willing to go on a meandering little walk through a small town that’s allegedly Iowa (but that actual Iowans wouldn’t believe was Iowa) and you don’t mind a bunch of little divergences, then I recommend this. If that sounds irritating to you, then give this a pass.

 

 

Review: When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

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This book was so stinkin’ cute! This story follows Dimple, ready to concur her first year of Stanford and get going on her life as a app/web developer. But, she still has to wait for the summer to be over. She’d like to spend that time at Insomnia Con, a summer learning experience where she can learn to develop an app with a partner. If she wins the Con, she’ll get to meet her hero, Jenny Lindt, who will also partner with her to finish the app and get it out into the market. She’s so stoked when her parents agree that she should go. Really, though, she should have seen that they had an ulterior motive.

Rishi is excited to meet the woman that his parents want to arrange for him to marry. He assumes that this lady knows what’s up, so he goes to Insomnia Con, requests to work with her as her partner on the app and… is surprised to find out that not everyone has been as forthcoming as his parents were. Even though he couldn’t give a toss about web development, he’s still determined to make it work, even volunteering his art skills for Dimple’s app.

Will it work? Will it all end in a disastrous pile of flames? Will they win? Does Dimple meet her hero? You should read it and find out.  Or, listen to it, like I did. The book is narrated by Sneha Mathan and Vikas Adam and they did an excellent job. I recommend this, especially if you like light stories with well developed, complex characters. So good.

Unrelated, thanks to this book I feel like those four semesters of Hindi I took in college have finally found a use. Listening to the audio book, I was so happy to understand that bits and pieces of Hindi in the text. I still remember some words! Amazing! I was also pleased as punch to occasionally provide an explanation of something for my Mom, who was also listening to this with me. But, no worries if that isn’t something you have in your background. These small bits of text add to the story and they won’t create a stumbling block for you and your understanding. I don’t know what it’s like to grow up in a bilingual household, because I didn’t, so it is really neat to find fictional representations of what that might look like.

 

This is the second book I finished for the Asian Lit Bingo Challenge!

 

 

 

Quick Review: Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han

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**This Review contains some Spoilers**

This series was meant to only be a duology and I thought it worked pretty well as just To All the boys I’ve Loved Before and P.S. I Still Love You.  So I was a little hesitant but excited when I found out that Jenny Han had decided to write one more book.  On the one hand, I felt that Lara Jean’s story wrapped up nicely.  Yes, it had an open ended ending but there was a sense that Lara Jean had finally started to find her Identity.  And on the other hand, there was some unanswered questions, like were her and Peter really going to make it?  What about their senior year?  Would Kitty continue to be awesome?  The answer is to that last questions is of course.  Reading through this book and getting back to Lara Jean’s world of baking and arts and crafts, I was little disappointed to find that Lara Jean’s new found identity pretty much was all Peter.  Her new friends were all his friends.  Their plans mostly seemed to revolve around his schedule of Lacrosse games.  To be fair, she did build friendships on her own with Lucas and Pammy but she wouldn’t have if it wasn’t for Peter.  This became more apparent when they started to talk about college.  Peter had already been accepted into UVA on a Lacrosse scholarship and Lara Jean had always wanted to go there.  It’s a good school and only 15 minutes away so she could stay close to her family.  Well, when she doesn’t get into UVA, there is a panic because now they have to deal with a long distance relationship.  So she makes a plan to go to William and Mary for one year and transfer to UVA so they can be together.  Things get even more complicated when Lara Jean who gets accepted into UNC after originally being wait listed.  After a quick drive to Chapel Hill, Lara Jean is in love and it’s clear this is where she is meant to be.  Now she will be 3 and half hours away instead of only 2.  All this talk of college and what school would is the best, I can’t remember of any talk about what she wants to study.  We know that she loves to bake and loves to crafting but what else in her life?  Is she going to be an English major?  biology? French?  We have absolutely no idea who she is outside of her family and Peter but I could say the same thing about Peter too.  As frustrating as Lara Jean’s behavior I started to realize that Peter’s identity is just as dependent if not more so on Lara Jean’s.  He is very much the perfect boyfriend.  He’s polite and good looking, athletic and charming.  He organizes her father’s bachelor’s party to not only get on his good side but make her happy.  He is also afraid of losing Lara Jean. Thanks for a moment of true honesty they seem to have finally found each other and where they want to go.  They are going to try to make it work and I hope they do but where does it leave them.  I sort of feel like we are left in the same place as were with the last book.  They both are still growing and finding themselves as they should be at 18 and they are still together and going to fight to make their relationship work despite the distance but their future is still up and the air.  I think it’s a very good development for Lara Jean to spread her wings and live on her own for once.  Her life has always been about her family and then Peter.  Finally in college she will be able to truly find her identity without them around and I think it will only make her stronger.  It will make her relationships stronger and if her and Peter do work out them both stronger.   Now, I hope in a couple of years, we come back to Virginia for Kitty, the high school years because I think that would be the most amazing story of all time.

Series You Should Check Out: Unearthly Series by Cynthia Hand

unearthly I can’t believe that I haven’t written about this series yet.  It’s one of my favorite series to go back and read. In particular, it’s my go-to series when I’ve finished one book but the book I want to read next is coming in a couple of days.  (Like for instance, I’ve finished My Lady Jane but A Court of Wings and Ruin, The Dark Prophecy and Always and Forever, Lara Jean comes out of Tuesday) I usually don’t want to start a new book that I might not finish before they come out so Unearthly or one if it’s sequels, Hallowed or Boundless because I’ve read them so many times, I can skip over parts or not feel bad if I don’t finish.  It’s a romance, it’s a comedy. It has some action!  and it has one of the most swoon worthy love interest of any teen novel.  Unearthly is about Clara, a half human half angel, who moves with her family to Jackson Hole, Wyoming to fulfill her purpose.  All Angelbloods, as they are known, are put on this earth to carry out some divine purpose.  For Clara it starts when she starts having visions about meeting a boy her age in the woods during a forest fire and wouldn’t you know that guy is super dreamy too.  Christian is the guy in high school that every girl has a crush on and every boy wants to be.  However, he’s the guy that makes me swoon.  That title guys to the other love interest.  Tucker Avery.  Tucker Avery is a cowboy.  He wears cowboy boots and hat.  He rides in rodeos and is very outdoorsy.  He would be the perfect boyfriend.  They relationship starts off in the stereotypical bickering back and forth before they realize how much they love each other.  Aww.

hallowed I would say the real theme of the series is fate and destiny and how much control do we have over our future.  Clara is not your normal teenager.  She has Angel blood in her and because of that is she expected to carry out her purpose. At first she is all about it. If it means getting to know Christian, the hot boy is school, she is all for it but what does divine really want from her.  Is she only supposed to save Christian from the forest fire?  Are they supposed to be a couple?  Is God trying to set her up on a date?  She discovers that finding out her purpose in life is not that easy and only gets more complicated when a.) she starts to fall in love with Tucker and b.) she finds out that she has more in common with Christian then she thought.  How much about her future does she get the decide and how much of it has already been planned for her.  She is impulsively drawn to Christian but is that because she is supposed to because of her purpose or does she really have feelings for him and him for her?  And if she is supposed to be with Christian then why does she fall in love with Tucker. (because he’s perfect! but I digress)

boundless All the while she’s trying to find out why she was put on this earth and fighting evil Angels, she still has to dodge of the landmines of attending high school.  Taking test, finding new friends and keeping them.  Going to Prom.  It’s not easy but an Angelblood in high school.  Clara is able to navigate all of these things thanks to other awesome character, Angela, another Angelblood.  Together help each other to figure out each other purposes and the other mysteries of being half angel.  Their friendship is one of those great but sadly rare in fiction, solid friendships between two girls.  They truly love and support each other throughout the everything.  Yes, they have their disagreements but when it matters, they are there for each other.  They push each other to be better.  Challenge each other to learn and know more about who they are and what they are supposed to.  There really should be more relationships like this featured in YA novels.  Too often female friendships get pushed aside once the heroine starts a relationship. But then again, Angela is not someone who would ever let a boy become between her and her best friend.  So yes, go read this series.  It’s the perfect weekend getaway book.  Just don’t let the cheesy covers scare you away.

 

Review: The Art of Seducing a Naked Werewolf by Molly Harper

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First, I have to start with review by saying that these are fun books. They’re ridiculous books, but they are fun books. This is the second book in a series about a wolf pack in Alaska. Instead of centering on a woman who marries into the pack, it focuses on a woman in the pack, the love interest from the first book’s sister. There is a little drama. There is a little mystery. There’s an unbelievably hot scientist. There’s a happy ending. You know the drill. Amanda Ronconi who narrates the audiobook does a nice job. So, if you’re into fluffy, paranormal romance or if you’re looking for something light, I recommend you give this a go.

 

Potential Spoilers Ahead.

 

And now that I’ve said that, I need to talk about something that bothered me so much in this book. The werewolves are infertile with anyone but the partner they’ve bonded with. I can’t imagine that there is any evolutionary benefit to this. At all. It seems like the stupidest design feature of a creature ever invented and it also perfectly explains why werewolves as a species are dying out. I’d get it if werewolves were monogamous and pretty devoted (possibly to the point of being creepy) to their partners. I mean, I wouldn’t want it, but I’d get it. And, there’s evidence in the animal kingdom of some animals mating monogamously and/or for life (easier done when life is only a few months or years, I’d venture to guess.) But, being fertile with only one partner forever? Whu?? What kind of testing apparatus would the body have to have internally to be able to tell one partner from another? And, what about close genetic matches? I couldn’t stop either questioning how that worked or feeling completely flabbergasted that it happened at all.

 

Anyway, this featured heavily in the plot and it took me right out of the narrative because it was ridiculous. So, if you like fluffy paranormal romance but you also like at least a modicum of believable scientific accuracy, this book is not for you.

 

 

This book is my audio book selection for the Diverse Stacks, Diverse Lives Challenge.