Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Sweet Spot by Stephanie Evanovich | Review & Giveaway

The Sweet Spot by Stephanie Evanovich
Published: July 8, 2014
Publisher: William Morrow
Pages: 272
For honest review from publisher via TLC Book Tours

The amazing Stephanie Evanovich returns with The Sweet Spot, the sizzling story of everyone’s favorite couple from her New York Times bestseller Big Girl Panties: hunky professional baseball player Chase Walker and his sassy wife Amanda

When pro baseball player Chase Walker first meets Amanda at her restaurant, it’s love at first sight. While Amanda can’t help noticing the superstar with the Greek-god-build, he doesn’t have a chance of getting to first—or any other—base with her. A successful entrepreneur who’s built her business from scratch, Amanda doesn’t need a Prince Charming to sweep her off her feet. And a curvy girl who likes to cook and eat isn’t interested in being around the catty, stick-thin herd of females chasing Chase and his teammates.

But Chase isn’t about to strike out. A man who isn’t interested in playing the field, he’s a monogamist who wants an independent woman like Amanda. His hopes rally when she discovers that squeaky-clean Chase has a few sexy and very secret pre-game rituals that turn the smart, headstrong businesswoman on—and into his number one fan.

Then a tabloid discovers the truth and turns their spanking good fun into a late- night punch-line. Is Amanda ready to let loose and swing for the fences? Or will the pressure of Chase’s stardom force them to call it quits?

This is a companion novel to Big Girl Panties. I loved the story of Logan and Holly, but when I found out there was a book about the secondary characters Chase and Amanda I knew that I was in for this ride. I loved them so much in BGP, because they added a little extra fun in some scenes. Plus, I already knew a bit about their little secret. So happy to have read how they got together as a couple.

Let it be known that I read a few reviews of this before diving into my copy and was worried I wouldn't enjoy it as much as BGP, because a few people didn't give it the glowing reviews I was expecting. I suspect that some of them hadn't read BGP to get a feel for the authors' writing style or the glimpse of the characters. Am I ever glad that I still read this for myself so that I could make up my own mind about it. 

In a nutshell we have a very independent woman who owns and runs a restaurant - she's a little sassy, stubborn and beautiful. And then we have the golden boy baseball player who everyone in America loves. He falls instantly in love with Amanda, but she won't let herself be pulled in by his status, his dreamy looks or his charm... at first. 

As Chase slowly tries to prove that he isn't looking for a one night stand and that he is truly interested in her, she slowly begins to wonder if he is the real deal. Amanda is determined that everyone has a fatal flaw and you have to find it in order to know if you can live with it or if it's a deal breaker and Chase has a very interesting a secret. After relenting and agreeing to a date, they begin quite a fun little courtship - lots of laughs, lots of steamy fun under the covers and smooth sailing. Then Chase finally shows her his secret, without so much as telling her about it, he just shows her and lets her decide whether she can accept this side of him or if she's ready to walk away.

I think deep down, Chase just met his match and let the hidden goddess out from behind Amanda's own layers. They are quite the sexual pair and as much as I've never really read books about this kind of dominant and submissive lifestyle, I like that it was a 'play by their own rules' kind of game. You kind of see how Amanda changes and begins to really understand his needs as well as her own that were hidden.

There is quite a bit of drama involved when secrets get out, scandals are leaked to the press and wedding bells seem to be put on hold. Obviously this couple makes it into BGP and are together, but it's quite the ride to get them there.You'll just have to read this summer read for yourself to see everything that they go through. Also, you'll get to read the wonderful writing style of Stephanie Evanovich - it's witty, charming and just plain fun. I have a feeling that people will want more from this book, but I have a feeling that if this one was written first you would see a little different development in the characters. I am okay with how things turned out as I already pretty much assumed it would focus on the hanky panky side of their story as that is the thing they are known for in BGP.

Check out the rest of the tour here.

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Author
Stephanie Evanovich is a full-fledged Jersey girl who attended New York Conservatory for the Dramatic Arts, performed with several improvisational troupes, and acted in a few small-budget movies, all in preparation for the greatest job she ever had: raising her two sons. Now a full-time writer, she’s an avid sports fan who holds a black belt in tae kwon do.

Connect with Stephanie on Facebook.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Save the Date by Mary Kay Andrews | Audiobook Review

Published: June 3, 2014
Publisher: MacMillan Audio
Received: from publisher for honest review
Read by: Kathleen McInerney

A Savannah florist is about to score the wedding of a lifetime—one that will solidify her career as the go-to-girl for society nuptials. Ironically, Cara Kryzik doesn't believe in love, even though she creates beautiful flower arrangements to celebrate them. But when the bride goes missing and the wedding is in jeopardy, Cara must find the bride and figure out what she believes in.  Maybe love really does exist outside of fairy tales after all.

Told with Mary Kay Andrews' trademark wit and keen eye for detail, mark your calendars for Save the Date!

I adored this book from the very beginning. There is something about Mary Kay's writing that just makes you wish you were right there in Savannah with all of these great characters. Not only do you get so much wonderful description, it's not overwhelming like some novels can be, but you actually feel like you can picture every little flower and feel the summer heat. 

Cara is my kind of girl - independent and stubborn though extremely determined, thoughtful and creative, yet flexible to accommodate change. After a terrible divorce, Cara does not believe in love nor does she want to fall in love. She just wants to grow her business as a florist and enjoy her work. Funny enough, she becomes on of the top sought after wedding florists in Savannah (how ironic is that?). She creates stunning arrangements that you can picture so vividly and you can see the care and thought that she puts into each order. 

After swearing off men forever, she accidentally meets Jack twice in one day and each time their meeting leaves the other thinking not so great things about the other. Dog-napping aside - they seem to click when they finally have a chance to let their guard down and spend time together. I love that Jack is emotionally wounded and has his guard up too. It gives the perfect recipe for the two to push each others' boundaries and figure out how to love again. 

The mix of Cara, the wedding florist with an old school charm, and Jack, the restorer of old buildings, gives me a nostalgic feeling. They seem to have the same values in what is important in life and this lovely southern easiness to them. They are such a wonderful couple and you root for them the entire time. I was angry when they came upon some issues that needed resolving, I just kept telling Cara to stop being so silly and for Jack to grow a pair and say what he really means. 

The secondary characters in the book are wonderful too - from the crazy brides needing Cara's services to her flamboyant assistant and from Jack's sentimental family to Cara's father - the Colonel, you just can't get a much better group of supporting characters. Definitely a Southern story filled with big personalities. 

I will definitely by reading more books by Mary Kay Andrews as this was a quick and satisfying read. Honestly, I loved the narrator - she was perfect for the tone of the book. And so ya'll know, I listened to this audiobook while driving my lawn tractor and cutting our huge lawn. It made the time go by so quickly because I was pulled into this book from start to finish. 

If you are looking for a fun summer read than you've found the perfect book. I've already loaned my copy out and have a waiting list. 

About the Author:
Mary Kay Andrews is the author of the New York Times bestselling The Fixer Upper, Savannah Breeze and Blue Christmas, as well as Deep Dish, Hissy Fit, Little Bitty Lies and Savannah Blues.

She also wrote ten critically acclaimed mysteries, including the Callahan Garrity mystery series, under her real name, Kathy Hogan Trocheck. Her mysteries have been nominated for the Edgar, Anthony, Agatha and Macavity Awards.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Book vs. Movie: The Fault In Our Stars by John Green

The Fault In Our Stars by John Green
Published: January 10, 2012
Publisher: Dutton Books

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel's story is about to be completely rewritten.

Here is the thing... I normally make it a practice to read a book before I see the movie because generally I do not enjoy the book as much as I already know what's supposed to happen. In this instance, I went to see the movie with my sister, brother and sister-in-law BEFORE I had the chance to read the book. They had all read it, so they were watching my reactions and we had an amazingly long chat about it in the lobby of the theatre. 

My siblings told me that the movie stayed true to the book, so I picked up my copy and finally let myself fall back into the world of Hazel and Augustus. 

How do I put into words how this book made me feel? It's so incredibly hard to find the right ones. So many emotions - sadness, happiness, and heart aching pain (that deserves to be felt). So much in such a short amount of time. Pretty much this quote from Augustus himself sums up the thoughts in my head: "My thought are stars I can't fathom into constellations."

Random thoughts about TFiOS:

1) It made me think about dying in a different way. Or perhaps about life in a different way. For example: Hazel knows she is terminal, so she lives every day knowing that there is definitely an end point for her, sooner than others, but someone like Augustus who is in remission and has an 80% survival rate looks at a life that will still exist until old age. How would it feel to go about life knowing that each day is possibly your last, not a metaphorical last day, but an actual last day because yours are numbered with less days than others?

2) I loved the way that Augustus and Hazel just seem to understand each other. They have an interesting sense of humour, they just get each other - like they were meant to come into each others lives and help the other through this life. 

3) Augustus has a way of being so utterly charming that you can't help but love him. 

4) No matter how much Hazel tries to NOT fall in love with Augustus (and she really does try), she ends up head over heels for him. She tries so hard to not let him get too attached to her as she calls herself a grenade ready to explode and crush those who love her and she wants to limit the destruction her death will cause. But funny enough, Augustus writes this about loving people (to an author he and Hazel both admired): "I love her. I am so luck to love her, Van Houten. You don't get to choose if you get hurt in this world, old man, but you do have some say in who hurts you. I like my choices. I hope she likes hers."

5) The book felt real. The characters come off as if a real person told you their story. You feel the emotions, you get the humour, you feel the pain of loss and you begin to understand this journey that Hazel and Gus are on. 

6) I had thoughts about what would happen in this book, but it surprised me with the loss. I didn't think I could be surprised knowing this was a story about cancer and dying, but it caught me nonetheless.

7) THE MOVIE. Seriously great job on keeping close to the book. Since I saw the movie first, I was concerned that I wouldn't enjoy the book. I'm happy to say that it destroyed me just as much as the movie did. I was surrounded by people crying in the theatre. Sniffles here and there. Me trying not to bawl like a baby and have snot running down my face. The actors and actresses did a great job in making you feel the emotions and understand the characters. And then there was me trying to remember quotes and moments that I'd love to keep forever. Like “As he read, I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.” or “Oh, I wouldn't mind, Hazel Grace. It would be a privilege to have my heart broken by you.” I WILL BUY THIS MOVIE ON DVD.

wish these were the real signatures, but this poster will do
8) You must read this book. You are missing out on an amazing book if you haven't. Seriously, go buy the book and some tissues. 

About the Author:
John Green’s book reviews have appeared in The New York Times Book Review and Booklist, a wonderful book review journal where he worked as a publishing assistant and production editor while writing Looking for Alaska. Green grew up in Orlando, Florida before attending Indian Springs School and then Kenyon College.

In 2007, John and his brother Hank were the hosts of a popular internet blog, "Brotherhood 2.0," where they discussed their lives, books and current events every day for a year except for weekends and holidays. They still keep a video blog, now called "The Vlog Brothers," which can be found on the Nerdfighters website, or a direct link here.

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