Salvaged (Saints of Denver, #4) by Jay Crownover

I’m starting this review off by letting readers know that this is my first book I’ve read in the Saints of Denver series. Salvaged is book 4 and even though these characters had backstories in the previous books I had no problem following along with their current love story.

Wheeler has been dealt a crap hand. His fiancee has dumped him and she’s carrying his child. To find out he’ll be a dad and not be together with the mom isn’t how he saw his future. He was ready to be the family guy into a bombshell was dropped on him. Poppy comes from an equally crappy situation. Her now dead husband had kidnapped her and tortured her before taking his own life. She’s now trying to piece her life together after so much trauma. Both, Wheeler & Poppy, are hurting and lonely. Slowly and cautiously they begin to form a friendship over caring for a puppy. This homeless puppy has found his forever between these two who decide to share custody and take turns raising it. ”I was supposed to have my eyes locked on my future and doing whatever I could to salvage it.”

Watching these two salvage their lives which had been put through both an emotional and physical ringer was a beautiful process to witness. You couldn’t help but cheer these two on as they took the necessary steps to becoming a healthy functioning couple. Salvaged is the fourth book in the Saints of Denver series. While it’s part of an overall series it can be read as a standalone.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Find in catalogTHUG was one of the most hyped YA books I’ve seen this year. Before it was published there were different publishing houses vying for the rights to publish it. There’s a movie deal in the works right now. I can only imagine how amazing that must have felt for the debut author, Angie Thomas, to have so much acclaim around her first novel. Knowing all that about the book I wanted to read it to see if it was as incredible as the YA community was claiming.

The story was one that brought tears to my eyes, made me laugh, and most of all made me reevaluate my words and actions towards others. The Hate U Give is an interesting title and once you know where it comes from it makes more sense. It’s part of a longer title based off of Tupac’s tattoo: THUG LIFE. THUG LIFE is an acronym for The Hate U Give Little Infants F***s Everybody. “Meaning what society gives us as youth, it bites them in the ass when we wild out.” The story was inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement and Tupac’s THUG LIFE tattoo. The story explores what happens when an unarmed black male teenager is killed by a police officer when pulled over. Starr, our heroine, is the only witness and this is her journey to rise above her situation and be a voice for her friend who was murder. I really loved Starr’s family and her interactions with them felt authentic. Each character was flawed and how they handled the cards they were dealt was inspiring. No one had it easy but in each situation, they strived to be better and do better. Bravo to Angie Thomas on her debut novel and I can’t wait to see what she creates next.

Dating You/Hating You by Christina Lauren

Find in catalogDating You / Hating You is my first paperback read for the year. There’s something about holding a book that makes it feel extra special. And the pretty cover was the icing on the cake.

“Simply put, Evelyn Abbey is my former almost-girlfriend-turned-archnemesis-turned-tentative-ally whom I would now very much like to permanently seduce.” If I had to pick one sentence from the book to sum it up that one would be it. Carter and Evie (or as Carter likes to call her, Evil) were an amazing couple when they were together and fun to watch when they “battled” for the same position at work. These two were set up at a costume party by well-meaning friends. You know the saying about how all people in relationships want their single friends in a relationship too so they can do “couples” things together. This is one of those situations. Their mutual friends’ plan is working UNTIL Carter and Evie’s companies merge and now they’re vying for the same position. All bets are off and things turn into one big circus. “And it hit me. I hate it there. I love what I do – I love you – but I hate P&D. It’s like trying to work in the middle of a dodgeball game.”

Gah, the things out of Carter’s mouth could make me melt. Not to say, there weren’t times when I was thinking what are you doing, Carter? But then Carter would open his mouth and say something sweet and I’d be back on his team. Dating You / Hating You is standalone contemporary romance set in the workplace. Fans of the amazing writing duo, Christina Lauren, are in for an entertaining read with this story. Enjoy this laugh out loud book. MUST READ

Soul’s Fire (Northwomen Sagas, #3) by Susan Fanetti

SOUL’S FIRE is a story that won’t let you go. I’ve been thinking about it non-stop. Shortly after I finished I quickly googled Vikings the TV show on the History channel. I’ve never seen it but I did spend some time watching some clips on YouTube. Now, I’m wishing I could binge watch the show.

At the amount of feels I’m having since I finished Soul’s Fire I might transport myself back into the Viking Age and become a Shieldmaiden. Actually, that’s not true. Soul’s Fire had some pretty brutal and savage scenes. I know I’m not cut from the same cloth as a shieldmaiden to handle that kind of treatment.

One driving force in the beginning of Soul’s Fire is revenge. A loved one is wrongly killed and a war is waged to avenge that death. The king has come up with a savage plan to right a wrong against the Vikings. Astrid is stolen and made to pay the price for what her people did to the king’s family. Astrid is one strong shieldmaiden because what she endured is beyond comprehension. ” Did love always change a person so completely? Or had she been changed already, in the black place, and simply loved the man who’d saved her from it?” The king’s second son, Leofric, was not behind the treatment of the prisoner. He takes it upon himself to save her from that hell and use her for the good of the kingdom. His plan is to have her learn their ways and language and then have her give them inside info on how the Vikings world worked. What he didn’t expect while caring for her was to fall in love with her.

Soul’s Fire is set during the Viking Age. It’s the third book in Northwomen Sagas and the main characters in the previous books play a role in Soul’s Fire. To grasp the overall arc of this series it’s recommended you read them in sequential order.

The Queen and the Cure (The Bird and the Sword Chronicles, #2) by Amy Harmon

Every once in awhile a book comes along that knocks you off your feet and I found that with The Queen and the Cure. It’s an absolutely brilliant story between two conflicted souls.

“It isn’t about me. It’s about responsibility. The Gifts we are given are not given for our benefit but for the benefit of mankind.” Kjell just wants to simply be a captain in his brother’s army. Yet, his gift pushes him to help others even when he’d rather not. Sasha has the ability to intensify a gift. She never waivers in wanting to help others even those who have wronged her. “I fell in love with you in pieces. Layer by layer, day by day, inch by inch.” Their love story was one filled with longing, heartache and a deeper connection. Each trial they faced strengthened their bond and created an intense undeniable attachment.

I was 100% shipping this couple. Even though it’s been a week since I’ve read this story I’m still suffering from a book hangover. My heart is still with Sasha & Kjell. I loved this book.

The Queen and the Cure can be read as a standalone but is interconnected with The Bird and the Sword. Both books are part of the series for The Bird and the Sword Chronicles . These books are a fantasy lovers dream. A romance filled journey that transports you to a different world; one where the gifted (spinners, tellers, seers, changers & healer) live among ordinary people.

When it’s Real by Erin Watt

Find in catalogWhen It’s Real is teen drama amped up. Teen heartthrob & rockstar, Oakley, needs a new image and his PR team has decided dating an ordinary girl will do the trick. When Vaughan is offered the position she only agrees for the year long fake relationship because of her family’s dire financial situation. I really enjoyed the premise of this book because it made me think if I was a teen girl in Vaughan’s situation would I agree to this sham?! I think for the majority of teen girls they would take on the job of playing a fake girlfriend to a super hot rock star. But, as with anything in life, there are some obstacles that make their situation a little more difficult. It doesn’t help that Oakley is a major jerk when they first meet and the fact that he’s not really onboard with his PR teams idea of putting on this charade. “Half the time when you open your mouth, you say something that makes me want to punch you. But when you sing…you make it really hard to hate you.”

An enemy-to-friends-to-lovers tale where a fake relationship turns into something real with all the whistles and bells. I had fun reading this story because I transported myself back to my teen days and thought about what it would be like to have this opportunity to be paid to pretend to be the girlfriend of a teen rock star. HELL YEA!! I would have been all over that like a bee to honey. When It’s Real is a standalone young adult romance. Readers who love the misunderstood hero will enjoy this story. Also, readers who love when an ordinary person catches the attention of a famous person will be heaven too. If you’ve heard the hype about the author duo – Erin Watts but haven’t had a chance to read them yet … here’s your chance to try their work without committing to a series (like with their The Royals series). This author duo is top notch!

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Find in catalogFahrenheit 451 has been on my radar for years because my teens had to read this book in literature class. One of my daughters loved it and my other one didn’t … she thought it was boring. Can you tell which one is the book lover and the one who doesn’t like to read? *lol*

Even though I haven’t read this book, until now, I’ve been discussing Fahrenheit 451 for years with my teens. What is this book about? Basically, it’s about a society set in the future where the citizens have decided that reading books is worthless. The firemen’s job is to set any books they find on fire. They don’t put out fires they set them. They are BOOK BURNERS. You get caught with books and everything you love and cherish goes up in flames house included. As with any society, there are those who RESIST the movement. There is a small group of citizens who are against destroying books and to keep from being found out they memorize the books and then burn the books themselves. The stories and information live on through word of mouth.

Above is an elementary description of the story. Don’t let that fool you because there’s a lot that happens between the pages. The whole concept of this book is very thought provoking. Ironically this book used to be on the banned books list because “it contained an expletive they regarded as blasphemous.” The words “hell” and “damn” sparked the ban. It’s been said that the author wrote this book out of his fear of tv’s influence on our society. Television was invented in 1927 and Fahrenheit 451 was written in 1953. I wonder if Mr. Radbury could see how much technology has taken over what his commentary would be today? After discussing this book with my girls a couple years back I’ve often wondered which books I’d memorize to keep their stories alive. No doubt I’d have many books that I would want to live on. Fahrenheit 451 is a standalone dystopian set in future. If you’re a book lover then this is a thought provoking story that will spark your passion for books.

Before I Ever Met You by Karina Halle

Before I Ever Met You is a beautiful Hollywood-esque romance. In my mind, I was picturing a Lauren Bacall – Humphrey Bogart Hollywood romance. A May to December, love story to remember, had Bacall & Bogart lived in our day and age. “That’s not reality. Love just makes everything else in life easier to bare. It’s like having an army on your side. But it doesn’t make love easier. Most people have to fight for it, they fight to keep it. Love is a war and half the time you’re battling your own f***ing self.” ”…this is us” – Will and Jackie! A love story where their attraction skirts the boundaries of being a forbidden romance.

Will is 16 years older than Jackie, along with being her boss, her dad’s business partner, and she’s known him since she was a teenager. Even though it had those elements among other things working against them the overall feel of this story was low on angst and focused more on how to make their relationship work for all parties involved. I really loved these two together. I loved Will more than Jackie and that might be because he was so swoon-worthy. The readers were treated to dual POVs and that really helped the reader to get inside the hero/heroine heads and figure out what they were thinking and feeling. Before I Ever Met You is a standalone romance set in Canada. If you enjoy low angst with a swoon-worthy older male then this book is for you.

The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

Find in catalogI decided to read this book because I heard it was something that all people should read in their high school English class. It wasn’t required reading in high school for me but it was for my son. I can see why this book would make for a good discussion in a literature class.

The gist of the story is a salesman, Gregor, is basically supporting his mom, dad and sister. One day he wakes up and he’s turned into a bug. He can no longer support his family and now his family is forced to figure out how they can make ends meet. His family can’t communicate with Gregor because they no longer understand him. Along with isolating him, they are disgusted by his appearance. At this point, Gregor is basically abandoned by his family. Through this process, the reader hears Gregor’s internal turmoil over his new life. There’s a lot of theories that can be discussed from this story – is it about dehumanizing -or – about abandonment -or- about mundaneness -or- … actually, I’m sure there are more themes than that that could be discussed in a literature class on what the meaning behind this story is. Depending on the reader’s own life experiences each reader of this story could garner a different theme for this book. No matter what the reader thinks Mr. Kafka’s purpose was for writing this story it sure would make for a fun discussion to have in a high school English class.

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

Find in catalogTHREE POINT FIVE STARS

 

This is the story of Ove’s life. A life where his world was neatly compartmentalized with his work and his wife. And once his wife passed on he was only left with her memories. He longs to be with her because now the world no longer holds any meaning for him. When he looks at the world going by him he doesn’t recognize it anymore. Technology has taken over and common sense is a thing of the past; like him.

The book has a bunch of relatable mishaps that anyone with parents or grandparents can relate to. Ove doesn’t understand technology and most readers of this book have dealt with an older generation person who doesn’t get it either. The story starts out with Ove trying to buy an iPad but calling it an Opad. Ove’s insistent on thinking he knows what he’s talking about when really he doesn’t. He eventually wears the sales associate down to the point of the sales associate passing him off onto his coworker and saying, “I’m going to lunch.” I’m sure my kids feel like that with me when they try to explain SnapChat to me.

A MAN CALLED OVE was a written story. There were moments when it lulled for me. I’m sure that’s because this isn’t my normal genre. If you’re looking for a grumpy old man story this one shouldn’t be missed.

“Ove has been a grumpy old man since the first day of second grade”