Monday, March 2, 2015

Monday Book Review: AT LAST, by Barbara Bretton

 At Last, by Barbara Bretton
First Published 1992, republished 2011

About the Book (from Goodreads):
From the moment they met as children, there was something special between Noah Chase and Gracie Taylor, something that grew and matured right along with them. Despite Gracie's troubled family--and Noah's cold, distant one--they managed to make each other laugh, and keep each other's dreams alive...

But Noah's father already had plans for his golden boy's future--plans that did not include the likes of poor, ordinary Gracie Taylor. And when he succeeded in tearing them apart--on the night before their wedding--it seemed those childhood dreams and teenage passions had been crushed by more grown-up things, like sorrows and secrets and lies...

Now, Gracie has returned to Idle Point, Maine--and so has Noah. Over the years, they've wondered if those dreams were just delusions, or if a love like theirs could ever happen again. Maybe they'll find out at last...
My Take:

First let me say I enjoyed this book and found myself fascinated by the world and characters the author created. Her descriptions were detailed and loving as she described the coastal community and its inhabitants, and I was engrossed in the love story, rooting for the happily ever after.

But.

The writing style was old fashioned, or old school, or something early 90's... Different enough to keep pulling me out of the story to take a deep breath and say, well that's just her unique style. Parts sounded more like one of my mom's older romance novels (which I don't generally read or like), slow and too descriptive with too many adjectives bogging down the main point, while other scenes and dialogue were riveting, fast paced and on the money. I'm not sure what to think of it all, or the way the author blended past and present or circled around and got back to things, dipping into the backstory and swirling forward back to present day every once in a while.

All that said, I did get totally absorbed in the storyline and enjoyed this achingly sweet romance and was so glad to finally get tot the HEA.

Gracie Taylor and Noah Chase grew up together in the same small Maine town, but on opposite sides of the tracks. Gracie's mom dies when she was an infant and her father slipped into an alcoholic stupor for the next twenty years, leaving his elderly mother to take care of his daughter. Noah was the only son of the richest man in town, newspaper mogul Samuel Chase. The families inexplicably know and despise one another, for murky reasons that don't become clear to Gracie and Noah until much later.

They meet on the first day of kindergarten, when Noah takes Gracie under his wing and she falls in love with him, (a fact that is repeated and repeated.) After being best friends for a year or two, there is a confrontation between the fathers and Noah is sent away to boarding school, only home for short visits, growing up to be an overindulged, entitled jerk of a guy until he gets kicked out of boarding school one summer and reconnects with Gracie ...and their young love affair truly begins.

Despite the fact that they are kids and young adults for most of the book, this isn't YA or NA as the book starts with Gracie as an adult, running away from Noah and off to grad school in the prologue. Chapter One goes back to that first day of kindergarten and swirls forward from there in fits and starts. The points of view vary between many main characters, including Gracie and Noah's parents and others, seeing the same scenes through the kids' eyes as well as the adult perspective a few moments later. Trust me, this is not a fast read or you will get lost in perspectives.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Friday Feature: Mermaid Review! FLIPPING THE SCALES by Pete Tarsi

About the Book (from Goodreads):
Meredith and Marina’s lives have been flipped upside down.

When the translucent skirt that straight-A-student Meredith finds hidden on the beach gets wet, it transforms her legs into a mermaid tail. Despite the evidence in front of her, she insists that becoming a mythical creature isn’t scientifically possible.

Marina is allowed to experience one day per moon cycle among the humans. After hiding her tail on the beach that morning, she takes her first timid steps on land. When she returns at sunset to find it missing, she is left stranded and alone.

For the first time in her life, Meredith doesn’t have all the answers. As she searches for a way to return to normal before the next full moon, she makes waves among the school of mermaids. Meanwhile, Marina uncovers information about her past, and for the first time in her life, she must stand on her own two feet and take the lead on her own adventure.

As Meredith senses her human side slipping away, a forbidden way to change back entices her. But it comes with a consequence: Marina wouldn’t be able to return to the ocean.
MY TAKE:

Flipping the Scales is a switching places fantasy aimed at young adult readers. Although the characters are 17, the situations and language are very tame and suitable for ages 10 and up.

Meredith is a studious 17 year old, going into her senior year of high school and focused on getting into a good college. She doesn't spend a whole lot of time having fun, and packed mostly books in her suitcase for a two week summer vacation.  Her best friend Jill wants her to relax and have fun, to go with the flow at least for vacation at her cousin Hailey's house on a resort island.

Marina is also a 17 year old who is quiet and serious, with a best friend named Lorelei who tries to get her to lighten up and have fun on the same resort island. The difference is that Marina and Lorelei are mermaids, and their adventure entails transforming their tail into legs for one day during the full moon. Unfortunately, Meredith finds Marina's tail and mistakenly tries it on, transforming into a mermaid. Both are stuck impersonating the other until the next full moon when they can safely switch back.

Neither girl is familiar with the other's world, but with lots of help from their friends, this might just be the adventure of a lifetime.

It was fun to read another author's take on the mermaid world, and watch how his mermaids view the human world. Tarsi has fun with mermaid language, giving us teenage mer-slang as well as showing us there are still mean girl cliques under the sea, too.

Meredith is such a serious student that she describes things in textbook ways, or examines processes down at the scientific levels. Those parts made me chuckle as I know the author is a high school science teacher by day (mermaid author by night!)

My only critique would be the head hopping (a personal pet peeve), as the points of view are sometimes loose and interwoven. But all in all a solid debut from a new author with a fun new take on the mermaid world. I look forward to reading more books in this series, and totally recommend this for a fun, light read... and great for a beach read! 5 stars (in spite of the head hopping.)

Monday, February 23, 2015

Monday Book Review: NOW AND THEN, by Brenda Rothert


Now and Then, the Now series book 1
By Brenda  Rothert
Published 2013



About the Book (from Goodreads):
Now Emmaline Carson is a sharp, settled graphic designer who loves painting, cooking and girls’ night out with her older sister Layla. But then – in the years before she went to art school in Paris – she was a shy, awkward teenager with frizzy hair, a flat chest and a massive crush on the boy across the street, Cole Marlowe. Too bad her incredibly hot neighbor only had eyes for Layla.

Cole is now a confident, laid-back attorney who’s even hotter than he used to be. He’s planning to stay single while working his way up the corporate ladder – until he’s knocked off course by a chance run-in with Emma.

Everything is different between Cole and Emma now. He finally sees her in a way she only dreamed of, and their hot chemistry is fueled by a growing friendship. But Emma’s deception of her sister – who wants Cole for herself – and the secret Cole’s been keeping for more than a decade threaten to tear apart what’s only just begun. Because sometimes the only thing standing in the way of now is then.
 

My Take :

Emma Carson and Cole Marlowe were neighbors growing up. He was a few years older and dated her older sister once or twice, but Emma always harbored a secret crush for him. When they run into one another now, as adults, sparks fly between them. Can they overcome the secrets of their past to build a future together?

The idea of this book is that some of the chapters- the "now" - take place in the present and move chronologically forward from the first cute-meet. The other chapters- the "then"- take place in the past, from the first "then" where Cole's family moves into the house across the street from Emma and moving forward from there with relevant memories and glimpses into their shared past but told in a present tense way. Because the chapters are labeled now and then, it's not as confusing as it sounds, and works as a way to give tons of backstory without some sort of info dump. It works to explain complex motivations and painful memories for all the main characters by showing rather than telling.

We see both now and then chapters from both Emma and Cole's perspectives, although not every scene gets shown in multiple viewpoints. An engaging and interesting read, I enjoyed this light romance despite being annoyed by a few of the cardboard secondary characters, and Emma's unreasonable fear of and sublimation to her older sister.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Friday Feature: Cover Reveal and #Giveaway for THE DARK DREAMER, coming March 24 from Heather Topham Wood

So Here I am, a week late to the party, but I had to share this awesomely gorgeous new cover, coming next month from my writerly friend Heather Topham Wood. She writes dark paranormal romance, and I'm so excited to add her new book to my Need to Read list! (NTR instead of TBR? What do you think?)

The cover design is by Marisa at Cover Me, Darling.

Have you seen this yet? Ready?
About the Book:
For as long as she can remember, Rebekah Clayton’s life has been dictated by her dreams. As a dream interpreter, she has become privy to her clients’ deepest and darkest secrets. Affairs, financial ruin, even murder—nothing shocks her anymore. But Grant Raskin’s dreams are unlike any she has heard before.

If Rebekah’s interpretation is right, Grant has foreseen the end of the world. A plague is coming and everyone Rebekah cares about will succumb to the illness. And Grant can trace the origin of the disease back to two men: Dr. Mark Holman and his son Drew.

Grant enlists Rebekah to track down the Holmans and determine their connection to the viral outbreak. But uncovering Drew Holman’s secrets will lead her down a dangerous path—unearthing a deadly conspiracy she never could have predicted.

The first book in a two-part series from bestselling romance author Heather Topham Wood.

Publication Date: March 24, 2015

About the Author:
Heather Topham Wood’s obsession with novels began in childhood while growing up in a shore town in New Jersey. Writing since her teens, she recently returned to penning novels after a successful career as a freelance writer. She loves creating imaginary worlds where people behave exactly how she wants them to.

Heather graduated from the College of New Jersey in 2005 and holds a bachelor's degree in English. Her freelance work has appeared in publications such as USA Today, Livestrong.com, Outlook by the Bay and Step in Style magazine. She resides in Trenton, New Jersey with her husband and two sons. Besides writing, Heather is a pop culture fanatic and has an obsession with supernatural novels and TV shows.

Follow Heather on Facebook, Twitter and her blog to keep posted on her upcoming works:
https://twitter.com/woodtop255
http://authorheather.com
https://www.facebook.com/HeatherTophamWood

And there's a Giveaway for $25 Amazon Gift Card and The Dark Dreamer Swag Pack! Enter the Rafflecopter today!

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