Friday, September 6, 2013

The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn

Title:  The Kissing Hand

Author: Audrey Penn

My Rating: 5 Stars

Purchase: Amazon   Barnes &Noble

School is starting in the forest, but Chester Raccoon does not want to go. To help ease Chester's fears, Mrs. Raccoon shares a family secret called the Kissing Hand to give him the reassurance of her love any time his world feels a little scary. Since its first publication in 1993, this heartwarming book has become a children's classic that has touched the lives of millions of children and their parents, especially at times of separation, whether starting school, entering daycare, or going to camp. It is widely used by kindergarten teachers on the first day of school. Stickers at the back will help children and their parents keep their Kissing Hand alive.

My thoughts:

My last baby recently started Kindergarten. I have been through this twice before with his older brothers, however being the last one, his starting Kindergarten had a profound effect on me.

I read The Kissing Hand to him the weekend before school started. He has been going to daycare since he was 6 weeks old, so I think that this book was more for me than it was for him. By now, he seems to have no problem leaving me for the day.

The story is about a little raccoon that is going off to school but doesn't want to and how his mother shares a secret with him that will help him through the day each time he is missing her.

When the book was done and my son ran off to go play, I was left sitting there with huge crocodile tears in my eyes. I'm not sure how much the book did for helping my son through the day, but I can tell you that I am pressing my palm to my cheek right now and feeling just a little bit better.

I would recommend this book to anyone with children. Whether you have already sent them off to school or not. I wouldn't even consider it a requirement to read it to them however I also recommend you have some tissues handy.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Nocturne by Andrea Randall and Charles Sheehan-Miles

Title:  Nocturne

Author: Andrea Randall and Charles Sheehan-Miles

My Rating: 4 Stars

Purchase: Amazon Kindle   B&N Nook   Kobo

From the bestselling authors of In The Stillness and The Last Hour, a new story of forbidden love and second chances.
Savannah Marshall is a gifted flutist and daughter of musical royalty when she enrolls in the elite New England Conservatory of Music. Brilliant, eclectic and passionate, she lives music, but struggles with her plans for the future.

Gregory Fitzgerald is one of the most renowned cellists of his generation. A member of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and professor at the Conservatory, he is laser focused on his career to the exclusion of friends, family and especially romance.

When Gregory and Savannah's paths cross in the classroom, it threatens to challenge more than their wildly differing beliefs on music. Friendships, ethics, and careers are put on the line as Gregory and Savannah play a symphony of passion and heartbreak.

In the final movement, Gregory and Savannah are handed their greatest challenge, as the loss of absolutely everything they've held as truths hangs in the balance.

My thoughts:

I am a simple person.  I lead a simple life in a mid-sized Midwestern town.  I've never been to the opera or to a symphony or any classical arts performance for that matter.  However, after just finishing reading Nocturne by Andrea Randall and Charles Sheehan-Miles, I feel like I have just been on tour with The Big Five.

Nocturne is elegantly and beautifully written.  The novel clearly illustrates that the authors were well educated in the subject of symphony orchestras.  Either that, or they easily fooled me with big words like Rachmaninoff, arpeggios, and diminuendos.  (Thank you Kindle for your built-in dictionary.) And after I got over the deer-in-the-headlights look of a very unfamiliar subject to me, I was easily wrapped up in the story.

"I don't have time for this is not something you say to the love of your life."

Told from the dual viewpoint of the two main characters, Savannah and Gregory, Nocturne is a complex story of a taboo situation that pushes the boundaries of ethics.  While I can't agree with the choices that were made by the characters, the story was written in a way that I was able to understand why they made the choices they did.

I've read novels individually written by both Ms. Randall and Mr. Sheehan-Miles and they were both wonderful.  However, together they they have found a way to meld their voices into one incredibly written book.  The seamless way the book flowed together would not leave you guessing that the book was written by dual authors had you not seen their names on the cover.  

Nocturne is a book of forbidden love, heartbreak, bad decisions, emotions, and music.  Although I probably glossed over some of the more 'technical' music parts, it is a very satisfying and entertaining read. It is a standalone book with a happily-ever-after and I would recommend this book whether you are a fan of the classical arts or not.


As part of the blog tour, you are invited to enter the giveaway for a $100 Amazon gift card and ebook copies of books written by both Andrea Randall and Charles Sheehan-Miles.  Your entry can be completed in the Rafflecopter below.

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Monday, August 19, 2013

Losing Hope by Colleen Hoover

Title:  Losing Hope

Author: Colleen Hoover

My Rating: 4 Stars

Purchase: Amazon Kindle

Synopsis: In Hopeless, Sky left no secret unearthed, no feeling unshared, and no memory forgotten, but Holder’s past remained a mystery.

Still haunted by the little girl he let walk away, Holder has spent his entire life searching for her in an attempt to finally rid himself of the crushing guilt he has felt for years. But he could not have anticipated that the moment they reconnect, even greater remorse would overwhelm him…

Sometimes in life, if we wish to move forward, we must first dig deep into our past and make amends. In Losing Hope, bestselling author Colleen Hoover reveals what was going on inside Holder’s head during all those hopeless moments—and whether he can gain the peace he desperately needs

My thoughts:

Before I say anything about this book, I want to preface by saying THIS IS HOPELESS FROM HOLDER'S POINT OF VIEW. I have seen too many reviews complaining about this so in case you don't follow Colleen on any social networking sites or have been living under a rock, please realize this before reading it.

Now, just because this was Hopeless from Holder's POV, did not at all take away from the fact that Colleen is a brilliant writer and able to tell you the same story, from a different POV and make it almost seem like you were reading it for the first time. I have always wanted to have book amnesia and read some of my favorite books for the first time over again and I can honestly say that this is as close as I have gotten so far.

There were new details, new characters and new plot lines that you were not introduced to in Hopeless. And there was a whole new set of feelings while reading it. For me, it was almost as emotional as the first book and while I "lived" Dean Holder in the first book, I "LOVED" him in this book. But as with any rewrite, and as brilliant as even Colleen is, you just can't erase from my memory what happened in Hopeless so I don't feel that this book affected me as much.

To summarize my feelings...I loved Dean Holder...I loved hearing Les's story...I loved Daniel...I love LOSING HOPE...and I love Colleen. And although this book is not necessary to read if you've already read Hopeless because it was such a wonderful story with it's own HEA, I truly do recommend it as a way to fill in some of the pieces that you didn't know were even missing.

Uncharted: An On The Island Novella

Title:  Uncharted: An On The Island Novella

Author: Tracey Garvis Graves

My Rating: 4 Stars

Purchase: Amazon Kindle

Synopsis: Tracey Garvis Graves - and Anna and T.J. - return in this companion novella to the New York Times bestseller On the Island

When twenty-three-year-old dot-com millionaire Owen Sparks walked away from his charmed life, he had one goal in mind: get as far away as possible from the people who resented his success, or had their hand out for a piece of it. A remote uncharted island halfway around the world seemed like a perfectly logical place to get away from it all.

Calia Reed wasn't part of Owen's plans. The beautiful British girl - on holiday in the Maldives with her brother, James - made Owen wonder if getting away from it all might be a lot more enjoyable with a carefree girl who didn't know anything about the life he left behind.

But Owen had no idea how much his carefully detailed plans would go awry. Nor did he realize that a decision he made would have such a catastrophic effect on two passengers who boarded a plane in Chicago.

And when Owen shows up at Anna and T.J.'s door with an incredible story to tell, everyone involved will learn just how much their lives are intertwined.

My thoughts:

Uncharted is a Novella that takes place years AFTER On the Island and should be read only after you have already enjoyed OTI.

I LOVED On The Island by Tracey Garvis Graves.  I was really excited to get to read this novella and get the true story behind 'Bones.'  In all honesty, it wasn't what I expected though, which necessarily isn't a bad thing. I really expected this to be a depressing story...I mean...Bones was obviously dead, the outcome couldn't have been good.

Instead it ended up being a sweet love story with it's own HEA. I also really like getting a glimpse into what life is like for Anna and TJ.

I think the only thing keeping me from giving it 5 stars was that I didn't feel as connected to the characters in this story as I did in On The Island. Aside from that, this held the same beautiful writing as from Tracey as On The Island did and I cannot wait to read more from her.

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Game Changer by J. Sterling

Title:  The Game Changer

Author: J. Sterling

My Rating: 5 Stars

Purchase: Amazon Kindle (releases June 25, 2013)

Synopsis: Jack & Cassie's story continues in the follow up to the Best Selling book, The Perfect Game.

Thrust into the spotlight, Cassie must learn how to navigate the waters of this sometimes unforgiving and cruel world. It's a lifestyle that makes you question your happiness and sanity as the past is never truly far behind.

How do you stay together when the world's trying to tear you apart?

My thoughts:

I have some mad love for J. Sterling. Not only as an author but as a genuinely nice person that cares about and talks with her fans. That being said, I find myself extremely lucky to have had the chance to read "The Game Changer" prior to its release.

This book for me was a solid 4 stars throughout most of it. I have this little requirement for a book to earn that 5th has to evoke some sort of emotion in me, whether it be that it makes me cry, gives me goose bumps, turns me on, etc. The emotion has to reach out from the book and grab at my heart strings. Miss Sterling squeaked that out at the end for me and earned that 5th star.

First off, if you haven't read "The Perfect Game" by J. Sterling, you need to go read that first. After reading it, if you felt pissed off at either Jack or Cassie so much that you wanted to throw your Kindle/Nook/paperback against the wall, then you need to read this book. Heck, you just need to read this even if you didn't get pissed off.

The book starts off as flashbacks to different events that occurred in "The Perfect Game" giving you a look at what was going through Jack's mind as the story played out. Believe me, if you didn't love him before, your heart will reach out to him now. And don't worry; the story is not just a rewrite of "The Perfect Game" from Jack's perspective. Now that the drama from the past is behind them, they must learn (sometimes the hard way) how to handle life together with one of them being in the public eye and see if they have enough trust in each other to make it through as a couple.

Aside from Jack and Cassie, many of the same characters from the first book make a second appearance in "The Game Changer" - Melissa and Dean in particular are a favorite of mine - with the addition of some other important (and HOT) characters. Miss Sterling has a way with creating characters that you either love to hate, hate to love, or simply can't help falling for.

"The Game Changer" was a perfect continuation of the story started in "The Perfect Game." I was entertained, shocked, happy, sad, and utterly satisfied by the time I reached the end of the story. I would recommend this book to everyone that read "The Perfect Game" whether you loved it or hated it.