Review: Return to Homecoming Ranch (Pine River #2) by Julia London

20140721-102854-37734530.jpg
Sigh. I wanted to love this book. I liked some of it, like the romance, the realistic struggles of Libby and Sam, and the changes happening at the ranch.

But Libby’s relationship with her mom and sisters needed more development. I would have preferred more of that subplot than about Libby’s ex-boyfriend and her stalker-ish behavior. Reading about Libby’s obsession and Ryan’s pathological lies was just depressing. I wanted to skip the downhearted ramblings. I know depression is real, as is alcoholism and PTSD… I just didn’t expect them all to be subplots in a romance novel!

If you loved Pine River #1, and you’re okay with real life struggles making up a big part of a romance novel, you really will enjoy Return to Homecoming Ranch. As for me, I like my happily ever afters preceded by predictable solutions to the small problems in life. :)

-Calliope

BUY Return to Homecoming Ranch (Pine River Book 2)

Confessions of a Book Hoarder

IMG_8494Okay, it’s time to get honest here. So many of you think you know the real me….many of you haven’t a clue about anything other than I go by Urania as you read a weekly review….So it’s time I come clean…..this is so hard to do…..

First…..have you ever watched that show, “Hoarders”? I’m not sure how many of these shows now exist in the USA, but in the UK there are a few different ones. But they are all about the same….I’m sure at some point you’ve thought they were dramatized to a certain degree so that it makes people feel better about themselves. You know….well, sure….I have too many shoes….maybe a few more purses than I *really* need, but that lady on the telly is insane! There’s no way I could get that out of control. At some point the person on the telly breaks down and everyone gives them a hug and tells them it will be okay….they will help them…..The person in need of help WANTS to change….they want their life back.

Now back to me….this is ABOUT ME after all!!!!!! Pssssfffttttttt……

I’ve reached that point. No, seriously…I need a hug…I usually spend a chunk of my time checking libraries every day….or book blogs (hey! if you’re looking for a really good book blog, you should sooo check out www.RandomBookMuses.com ….seriously, they are the best!!!)…..I add books to my wish list all the time….I manage my wish list weekly (yes, I really do! I try to locate the book from somewhere….netgalley, library, where ever I can to save a penny or pence now!)…I keep track of them on Goodreads (hallelujah, this site was made just for people like me!)….I follow friend’s reviews and keep track of what they are reading and adding to their lists (NO I AM NOT A STALKER….I do this out of love!)….I follow authors on there….I find a book I like and then I not only look at that book, I check out all the other books that the author has written….I go to amazon and look at the new releases that are due to come out soon….I go to factfiction and check out their release calendar as well….I also use Pinterest to track books…If I am in town I try to casually glance at any charity shops I might pass to see what books I might need….

Then at some point it happens…..

It’s time to pick my next read…

At this point I just loose it….I feel like bursting into tears….I mean, are you freaking kidding me? I look at my kindle (I am firm in my decision to only limit my kindle to around 300 titles)….I search my netgallery collection…I search my gifted books collection….I search my theSHORTlist collection….I turn off the kindle and look at the stacks of physical books I want to read in my home…Then I go to Goodreads and I look at these same items there….plus the other numerous bookshelves I have there….Then I turn on Calibre and check out my books there as well….just in case I’ve somehow skipped or overlooked one somehow….I mean, regardless of the thousands of books listed, what if that one perfect book is overlooked somehow? I MUST double check…

There is just too many….I am completely overwhelmed. I know this is my turning point….I know I need to face the fact that I have a problem…..

But seriously….I still want more…..I no longer think that the ‘hoarders’ on the telly are dramatized……THIS IS REAL….And I am one of them!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! But honestly, I don’t want to change…..I am happy in life….I am not putting my trust in inanimate objects….I’m not even overspending (not any longer, but that’s a whole different story! bwhahahahaha)…I probably spend less on that 3 quid a month on books….

But I confess, I am just so overwhelmed….I sometimes spend more time trying to pick out a book than I do reading that book….and I’m petrified that I made the wrong choice….that I should be reading something else instead….I am afraid that I will not live long enough to read all of the books I *really* want to read….yes, this thought REALLY does enters my head!

Okay….I’ve confessed….it’s okay….if you think I am a nutter, you can go on and just say it….if you have a suggestion, again, please don’t be afraid that I’ll be upset if you just come out with it…..trust me….I am much more afraid of being suffocated under a massive pile of unread books…..sobs….

Until next time….

Urania xx

Review: I’ll Be There by Holly Goldberg Sloan

20140707-124504-45904477.jpgI could not put this book down. Because it’s by Holly Goldberg Sloan. And she’s amazing.

This is the story of Sam and Emily. From the moment they meet, they realize they’re destined to be together. But there are problems. Sam and Emily don’t just come from different backgrounds. They come from entirely different worlds.

Sam and his little brother, Riddle, have been on the run with their thieving, murdering father since they were little. They haven’t seen their mom since the day they were loaded into the car and basically abducted by dear old dad. Traveling from town to town, they only stay long enough to exhaust the supply of people to victimize. Sam’s guarded and shy, and his only goal in life is to look out for Riddle who has been stuck in his own little world since he was a baby.

And then there’s Emily. She’s lovely beyond belief in both body and spirit. She comes from a good family, has plenty of friends, and doesn’t lack for male admirers. She has a happy, if somewhat uneventful, life. All that changes when fate intervenes and she sees Sam sitting in the back of the church as she sings one Sunday morning. And then everything changes. He becomes her everything, her reason for being. And he begins to live for someone other than his little brother.

But of course love is never easy, and in this story it’s downright dangerous. Sam keeps his family secrets close to his heart, although he finds it harder to do so as Emily’s family embraces both Sam and Riddle. They feed them, love them, and provide that emotional support that’s been missing in their lives. Just when we think that everyone might actually get their happily ever after, dear old dad decides they’ve been in one place for long enough. With nary a glance behind him, he once again uproots the boys and hits the road.

So this is is far as I’m going to go. To find out how the story ends, you’ll have to read the book. And read it you should. These are characters that you’ll find yourself pulling for, laughing with, and weeping inside over. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to read the sequel…

~Thalia

Buy It Now: I’ll Be There

Review: Perfected by Kate Jarvik Birch

20140703-182337-66217290.jpg

I absolutely loved this book. I love dystopian/apocalyptic stories and went through a phase when that’s all I would read. I’ve read almost every angle that’s been covered. Cyborgs, utopian societies, altered life forms, walled-off cities, rampant viruses, mutant beings, total environmental destruction…I’ve sampled them all. And then along comes this little gem that doesn’t fall into any of those categories and really isn’t very dystopian at all.

Meet Ella, or so she’s been named by her new owners. She’s one of a new breed, humans genetically engineered to be pets. These are the new status symbols for the rich and famous. And Ella comes from the best of the best, Greenwich Kennels, where young girls are taught how to walk, talk, smile, and perform on command for their wealthy owners. When Ella is purchased by Congressman Kimball and his family, she encounters a world she didn’t know existed. The family is both rich and powerful, and Ella is brought home to live in the lap of luxury. All she has to do is entertain young Ruby Kimball and smile prettily for the Congressman and his friends.

But her training didn’t teach her how to deal with her more human emotions. Emotions like sadness when hearing beautiful music, amazement when tasting candy for the first time, and passion when she falls for the Congressman’s son, Penn. She knows she’s been given a good life and lives in fear of being sent back to the kennel for doing something wrong. But beneath all the glamour lies an undercurrent of trouble. What happened to the family’s last pet and why was she returned to the kennel? And then there’s the Congressman’s creepy hands becoming ever more familiar day by day.

The correlations between human pets and animal pets are eerily accurate. Ella has her own special diet and isn’t allowed to eat with her owners. She’s told what to wear, what to do, and where to go. She has a “collar” with her name and address engraved on it. She’s even been microchipped in case she gets lost. And when she misbehaves, she’s put on a chain. She’s not expected to have an opinion, just to please the family.

This was one of those can’t-put-down books for me. Once I started it, I just had to find out what happens to Ella. She’s such a likable character, an innocent at the hands of people who just want a pretty plaything to show off. I loved her innocence and amazement at experiencing things for the first time-a banana split, a butterscotch candy, a midnight swim, a first kiss. Kate Jarvik Burch has crafted an amazingly engaging story that had me from the first page, the first line even. Grab this one, and be prepared for a marathon reading session!

~Thalia

Buy It Now: Perfected (Entangled Teen)

Review: Summer of Love by Sophie Pembroke

20140718-115224-42744694.jpg
The nice thing about most romance novels is there’s a happily-ever-after…predictable, but appreciation-worthy.

The nice thing about Summer of Love is the unpredictable happily-ever after. Lily and her boyfriend have ups and downs, believable and authentic. And by the second to the last chapter I still wasn’t sure what was to become of Lily’s love life. And even though it was unexpected, it was happy and quite satisfying.

Sophie Pembroke wrote a terrific friendship sub-plot between Lily and Cora. They interacted like true best friends: with exasperation and candor, assertiveness and love. I really enjoyed seeing them support each others’ dreams, and encourage each other to be honest with themselves.

The guys in the story were loveable and handsome Everymen. They treated women with respect as far as they knew how, and they were honest about their feelings without being far-fetched.

Summer of Love is a great beach read or relax-after-a-long-day read. I love my British chick lit, especially when it ends with true love and a big smooch.

-Calliope

buy SUMMER OF LOVE

Fangirl Friday: Signed books

You know I was never a reader, until I got my kindle three years ago. So I never had books on bookshelves, unless they were kids books. But having a kindle means that I never saw pretty covers. After a while I decided to start collecting only my favorites, in the hope of getting them signed eventually, whether by personally meeting the author or sending them the books to get signed. Then I was entering contests and going to book signings and this is the result.

5321_781542521885551_2620229647473949686_n

Not bad for the three years. Now to decide who gets these, in my will. Perhaps someone named Jennifer. ;)

~Melpomene

Review: The Bookshop on the Corner by Rebecca Raisin

20140714-202708-73628623.jpg Rebecca Raisin infused this book with total cliched cuteness. From the bookshop owner who wanted to read all day to the loud hairdresser in a nearby shop to the roving reporter who falls in love with a small town and considers staying… It’s all been done before. But it hasn’t been done like this: with complete honesty about the fact that the bookshop owner wanted her life to be like the lives of her romance heroines. Sarah wanted the perfect boyfriend, the perfect falling in love story, the happily ever after. So Rebecca Raisin has Sarah openly admit what some of us in real life won’t!

It’s all very meta… The whole time I was thinking YES/EXACTLY, followed by THAT’S SO TRITE, followed by BECAUSE IT’S SO TRUE. I felt like I WAS Sarah because I’m a book lover too. And aren’t we all pretty much reading characters we identify with in one way or another?

So yeah, it’s clichéd. But it’s also literary and layered and symbolic and entertaining and relatable. If you like books, that is. ;)

-Calliope

buy THE BOOKSHOP ON THE CORNER