Blog Tour – Review: Unbreak My Heart by Nicole Jacquelyn

unbreakmyheartTitle: Unbreak My Heart
Author: Nicole Jacquelyn
Genre: Romance, New Adult

This review and blog tour stop was made possible for Corvisiero Literary Agency. Thanks for allowing me to participate!

Note: I received this book as an e-galley from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to NetGalley and Forever for allowing me to read this release.

Summary provided by Corvisiero Literary Agency for review purposes:

unbreakmyheartIf you’re Kate Evans, you keep your friend Rachel, bond with her kids, and bury your feelings for her husband. The fact that Shane’s in the military and away for long periods helps-but when tragedy strikes, everything changes.

After Rachel, pregnant with her fourth child, dies in a car accident and the baby miraculously survives, Kate upends her entire life to share parenting duties. Then on the first anniversary of Rachel’s death, Kate and Shane take comfort in each other in a night that they both soon regret.

Shane’s been angry for a year, and now he feels guilty too – for sleeping with his wife’s best friend and liking it . . . liking her. Kate’s ability to read him like a book may have once sent Shane running, but their lives are forever entwined and they are growing closer.

Now with Shane deployed for seven months, Kate is on her own and struggling with being a single parent. Shane is loving and supportive from thousands of miles away, but his homecoming brings a betrayal Kate never saw coming. So Kate’s only choice is to fight for the future she deserves – with or without Shane…

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Premise: 4/5

I went into this book loving the premise. Really, it’s what made me sign up to be a part of this blog tour. I could actually see myself in this situation – helping a friend with her children while her husband is away for months at a time. Then, add in the fact that she is in love with the friend’s husband? That could be interesting!

Plot Development: 3/5

In my mind, it fell through. After reading the book, I re-read the above summary and I realize that it’s all there. The summary matches the plot of the book, but not in the ways that I had imagined. Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy the book in general. It just didn’t amaze me.

The second paragraph in the above summary happened in the first couple of pages. While I do think it needed to happen early on in the book to allow the rest of the plot to unfold, I didn’t think it needed to be so quick. The accident, parenting duties, and 1-year anniversary were barely described with more than a passing glance.

Then there’s the “betrayal Kate never saw coming” – it happened very close to the end and I had a hard time of viewing it as a betrayal. I can’t delve too much into this because it would give away the majority of the book, but the betraying person didn’t have all the information and acted on instinct. It was impulsive and out of spite, but it was still instinct.

Characterization: 2/5

My issues described in the plot development stem from my dislike for the characters and their characterization in general.

Shane was unlikable. He was a hardened military guy who suddenly lost his wife; I get that. I thought he was unlikable before the wife died. He very quickly went from saying the perfect things, being the smiling, doting husband to an impulsive hothead who always seemed to have the most heinous insults waiting to be thrown at someone…and then right back again to the loving, cute guy. He did have some character growth throughout the book, but not enough to make him a suitable romance novel beau.

Kate was alright. I tried hard to empathize with her because she really was trying the best that she could in a terrible situation. However, she was also as capable of dangerously shifting personalities as Shane. The tension between them could go from sexual to murderous in an instant. It was actually kind of scary and I’m glad these are not real humans. Kate also had some of her background story revealed that helped clue the readers (and Shane) in on what’s going on, but it was done in two ways: an vague info-dump from Kate’s POV that read as “oh by the way you need to know this,” and a friend blindsiding Shane with the information to make him feel like an imbecile. I would have preferred a much vaguer foreshadowing early in the book and then the friend/Shane dialogue later so that the reader was feeling as much “OH CRAP” as Shane was at the time.

Rachel had a few lines of dialogue before dying. I really wish her character was fleshed out more, either in a longer beginning or through the use of flashbacks. I feel like it would have helped the readers understand why Shane was doing the crazy things he was doing, but we didn’t know her and he we didn’t truly know their relationship so Shane seemed like he was flying by the seat of his anger-fueled pants.

Writing Style: 3/5

The writing was okay. It got the job done. If the writing wasn’t okay, I don’t know if I’d have put up with the entire novel.

Readability: 3/5

I understand that in real life, in real tense and angry situations, people swear at each other. I get that. I do not, however, think it translated well in the book. It’s harder for me to read swearing than it is to hear it. A couple well placed curse words in a book drives the point home for me whereas this made me feel like I was watching reality television. It needed toned down.

I also understand that this romance subgenre is New Adult, and while it’s not going to be as steamy as an Erotica book, there are going to be some pretty graphic scenes. I guess I just expected them to be necessary to the plot rather than just…there. Some of the graphic scenes were a little creepy and not necessary at all. If I could trade those pages in for some more backstory at the beginning before killing off Rachel, I would in a heartbeat.

Total Score: 15/25, avg. 3/5

3 stars

Overall, it was alright. I didn’t hate it; I didn’t love it. I will most likely not read the next book in the series (unless I am asked to and provided a copy to read!).

About the Author

unbreakmyheartauthorNicole Jacquelyn is the mom of two little girls and a full time college student. She hasn’t watched television in well over a year, she still does things that drive her mother crazy, and she loves to read. At eight years old, when asked what she wanted to be when she grew up, she told people she wanted to be a mom.

When she was twelve her answer changed- to author. By the time she was eighteen, when people asked her what she wanted to do with her life, she told them she really wanted to be a writer- but the odds of that happening were so slim that she’d get her business degree “just to be safe”. Her dreams stayed constant. First she became a mom, then she went to college, and during her senior year- with one daughter in first grade and the other in preschool, she sat down and wrote a story.

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 As always, thanks for reading. I hope to see you soon!

kacie

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FebMarApr Wrap-Up and Challenge Update | 2016

Hello, everyone! I can’t believe it’s already May! This has been the fastest spring season I’ve ever experienced. Between standardized testing at school, field trips, and coaching high school softball, it has flown by.

In fact, I haven’t posted a wrap up since the end of January. Oops. To rectify the situation, here is my wrap-up of the last three months.

wrapup

In the months of February, March, and April, I read a total of eleven books. They haven’t been my best reading months, but I feel like I read a whole lot more. Maybe that’s because I’m not including my read alouds that I did with students including Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl.

Here’s what I read outside of the classroom, including the star ratings and date of which I finished each book:

feb

February Book Stats:

  • 5-Star Books:  None
  • 4-Star BooksThe Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan; Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
  • 3-Star BooksThe Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Other Book Facts:

I did not enjoy The Raven Boys as much as I thought I would. It was very slow and hard to read for me. I’ve heard that the next two books are better, but I’m not sure if I’m going to continue. I certainly won’t be purchasing any of them.

Book of the Month:

Of these three books, I enjoyed Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins. I liked the callbacks to Anna and the French Kiss and enjoyed the novel even though I wasn’t the biggest fan of Lola.

Book Reviews:

None.

mar

March Book Stats:

  • 5-Star Books:  The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner
  • 4-Star BooksA Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro
  • 1-Star BooksNever Mind My Thigh Gap by Sarah Newtwon

Other Book Facts:

I read A Study In Charlotte for a book group called “The Story Squad” on Goodreads/YouTube.

Never Mind My Thigh Gap was a review book, but I’m struggling writing the review for it because I disliked it a lot and don’t want to be too harsh. It’s coming.

Book of the Month:

I binge-read The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner. I received it in an OwlCrate and read it in one sitting.

Book Reviews:

A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro
The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

apr

April Book Stats:

  • 5-Star Books:  None
  • 4-Star BooksThe Good Girl by Mary Kubica; What We Saw by Aaron Hartzler; Flawed by Cecelia Ahern; Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
  • 3-Star BooksFangirl by Rainbow Rowell
  • 2Star Books: The Love That Split the World by Emily Henry

Other Book Facts:

I wanted to give The Love That Split the World a lower rating, but I liked the rating.

Book of the Month:

I had no 5-Star reads, but my favorite book I read this month was Flawed by Cecelia Ahern. I received it in an OwlCrate and read it in one day. Even though it wasn’t all that special and very similar to other dystopian novels, I enjoyed it from beginning to end.

I want Josh from Isla and the Happily Ever After, thankyouverymuch.

Book Reviews:

None….yet.

Six Squared Challenge Update

This year, I am working to complete the Six Squared Challenge created by bookstacksamber. To keep track of my progress, I have a word document that breaks down each category into tables.

debut


goodreads


start a series


complete


Challenge Stats:

  • New Releases (Debut Authors): 6/6 – 100%
  • New Releases (Loved Authors): 0/6 – 0%
  • Books to Start a Series: 4/6 – 66%
  • Books to Complete a Series: 1/6 – 17%
  • Book to Movie Adaptations: 1/6 – 17%
  • Goodreads Choice Winners/Nominees – 3/6 – 50%
  • Total: 15/36 – 42%

See you later!

kacie

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Book Review: The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

the serpent kingTitle: The Serpent King
Author: Jeff Zentner
Genre: Young Adult, Fiction, Contemporary

I received this book from Owlcrate, a YA themed book subscription box. For more information, please visit their website.

The Serpent King follows the lives of three teenagers in a small, rural high school in Tennessee over the course of their senior year. Dill, Travis, and Lydia are close friends with differing ideas of what is in store for their futures, partly due to their very different home lives.

Dill is the son of the preacher who is known for having his congregation handle poisonous snakes to test their faith. Unfortunately for Dill, his father is even more well-known for what landed him in prison, causing Dill to be trapped at home with his mother and his father’s debts.

Famous on the internet for her fashion sense, Lydia has a ticket out of this town. She has a family that loves her and connections that will take her far in life and away from the town and people that don’t fit in her blog’s aesthetic.

Travis doesn’t care what anyone thinks. While Lydia prepares for college and Dill avoids thinking about her leaving, Travis prepares himself for the next book in his favorite fantasy series, “Bloodfall” by dressing like the book’s characters and rereading the series.

As the three friends cope with the ending of high school and the beginning of what lies ahead, they learn much more about themselves and each other in the process.

 Premise: 4/5

While at first I thought the snakes were a little weird, I quickly became interested in the backstory of Dill and his family. It’s weird enough to make it different than other things that I have read. I was also a little leery at first about the novel following a group of outcast friends, simply because it’s not that original. However, I liked the way that the three diverse friends came together.

Plot Development: 5/5

The Serpent King is quickly paced from start to finish, but not overly so. The plots jumps between the three main characters and what is currently happening in their private lives as well as what’s going on with the entire group. The plot was developed evenly with next to no filler material. I was unable to put the book down.

Characterization: 5/5

Each of the main characters keep parts of their lives private from their friends. They each have their own struggles on top of the struggles of the group as a whole. The way they cope with these struggles changed over time as they matured. The characters were developed appropriately throughout the course of the novel.

Writing Style: 5/5

I highly enjoyed the writing style of this novel. It was one of the reasons I read it in one sitting. Time passed quickly while I was reading. Each of the characters had their own distinct voices reflected in the writing style.

Readability: 5/5

Like I said before, I read this book entirely in one sitting. It read extremely easily, even though some of the content wasn’t exactly easy to read about (don’t worry, I won’t spoil you!).

Total Score: 24/25, avg. 4.8/5

5 stars

The Serpent King is one of my favorite reads of 2016 and may even have topped the list. This book made me love my Owlcrate subscription even more because I hadn’t heard of this book before receiving it. I am sure glad I read it. It’s an obvious five stars from me!

I also read this book for the #sixsquaredchallenge hosted by bookstacksamber! – New Releases (Debut Authors)

Have you read The Serpent King? What did you think?

kacie

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Want to purchase a copy of The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner for yourself? Check it out on The Book Depository by clicking HERE.

Book Review: A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro

A Study in CharlotteTitle: A Study in Charlotte
Author: Brittany Cavallaro
Genre: Young Adult, Mystery

I had been anxious to read A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro since I’d first heard about its upcoming release. When the online book club in which I take part selected this novel as a possible upcoming read, I jumped on it. I voted on Twitter and in the Goodreads group for A Study in Charlotte to be our group read. It was selected as the March/April book and I bought it right away. The hardcover was even cheaper than the Amazon Kindle edition!

For more about this online book club, visit The Story Squad on Goodreads.

Trigger Warning for Book (not review): This book does contain references to sexual assault, but not an actual depiction of the assault in question.

Premise: 4/5

Alright…it’s a little cliché. I get that. The British great-great-great-grandchildren of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson just happen to attend an extremely small preparatory high school in Connecticut, USA. They meet, fall into their famous relatives’ roles, and work to solve a murder together. It sounds like it’s right out of the fanfiction community.

I was a sucker for it.

As I read about this book and then started reading it myself, I found myself wondering how the more well-known pieces of Sherlockian lore were going to be incorporated. What will Holmes’ vices be? Will the Moriartys come into play?

Plot Development: 4/5

With a cliché premise comes cliché plot development. That was okay! It was exactly what was expected, so I could not be disappointed. It was, at times, rather predictable, but it was so in a way that made me smile, thinking, “I knew that was going to happen this way!” If I was looking for a more difficultly pieced together sort of mystery, I would not be giving this a 4/5, but my expectations for this novel were satisfied.

Characterization: 4/5

Again, cliché, but expected. Holmes and Watson went through the exact character developments that were expected. Some characterization elements were even a little elevated. The only reason I am not scoring this a five is because I didn’t like some of Watson’s behavior. Some his character didn’t fit with the rest of him, like the author wanted to round him out a little, but came off as trying too hard.

Writing Style: 4/5

As with the rest of this review, I don’t have a lot to say about the writing style. It was a quick, easy read. Something that I adored was the change in writing style with the change of characters. Watson and Holmes truly had their own voices. In Watson’s point of view, Holmes’ voice shone through. In Holmes’ point of view, the writing style of the inner monologue completely changed to fit the character. This is pretty hard to do, so I’m impressed. If the writing stays the same, I’ll be sure to pick up the next book in the series.

Readability: 4/5

It was quick, easy, and cliché, and I loved it. It was quite refreshing to read from a male’s point of view. These days, male perspective YA is hard to find. If you’re looking for an easy, modern twist on a classic “whodunit,” this book is for you. If you’re looking for a more complicated mystery to keep you more on your toes, maybe look into some mysteries out of the adult literature section of your library or bookstore.

Obligatory teacher comment:  This book is intended for young adult audiences. Parents and teachers should note that it does contain drug references, mild language, and sex, including sexual assault. If your teen or student is reading this novel, be prepared to talk about these themes in a positive and educational way.

Total Score: 20/25, avg. 4/5

4 stars

Overall, I’d read this again, but definitely not for a few years. It didn’t wow me, but I enjoyed it enough to keep on my bookshelf.

I also read this book for the #sixsquaredchallenge hosted by bookstacksamber! – Books to Start a Series

Have you read A Study in Charlotte? What did you think?

kacie

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Want to purchase a copy of A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro for yourself? Check it out on The Book Depository by clicking HERE.

Friday Reads! February 5th

It’s the first Friday in February! I cannot believe it’s already been a month since the new year began. Time sure flies, doesn’t it?

Friday Reads

Here’s what I’m reading today and this weekend:

  1. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater – I’m about one hundred pages into this. It’s taking me awhile to really get into the story, but I’m getting there. I plan on finishing it this weekend.
  2. The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan – This is Book 2 in the Percy Jackson series and I’ve only read Book 1. Since I scored books 1-4 in the Heroes of Olympus series for FREE for my classroom, I decided to get the box set of Percy Jackson and the Olympians for my classroom as well. I want to marathon read these to get to the Heroes of Olympus books that my students think “will TAKE FOREVER TO READ, MISS ROBERTS, OH EM GEE.”

If I finish these, I might just keep going in the Percy Jackson series or I’ll pick something off my shelf I haven’t read yet. We’ll see.

What are you reading this weekend?

kacie

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Top 5 Wednesday #20: Biggest Badasses

Good afternoon!

Today is Wednesday. It’s already been quite the week for me at school, but I’m getting even more excited about reading because I’m competing in a reading challenge against my fourth graders! This was decided upon today, but I’m planning on doing a whole post about it in the future. I’m excited.

Because today is Wednesday, I’m about to countdown a list of five of my favorite books or literary characters.

t5wfamily


As always, Top 5 Wednesday was created by Lainey at gingerreadslainey. For a complete list of Wednesday-ers and topics, please visit the Goodreads group!


This week, we are focusing on the biggest literary badasses. This topic, as are they all, is subjective. Who’s to say which character excels in badassery more than the others?

Here are my favorite characters that can (more than) hold their own.

#5 – Arya Stark – A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin

I love Arya. She could sense that she was going to be in danger so she cut off all her hair and became a boy…not because boys are better than girls (because they’re not), but because she could hide that way. She became a a completely new person to survive and through this, has experienced an unbelievable amount of growing up. Go Arya!

#4 – Hannibal Lecter – The Hannibal Lecter series by Thomas Harris

Okay, guys. I had to include at least one villain on my list, right? If you know me at all, then you know that I love me a good villain. Hannibal Lecter is one of my favorites. He’s always speaking in riddles, often of literary origin, and even when things go extremely sour, he’s cool and collected. Actually, he’s extraordinarily calm. It’s creepy.

I love it.

#3 – Art3mis – Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Again, if you know me, you shouldn’t be surprised. I loved this book and want to reread it again and again. Part of that reason is my love of all the characters, but specifically Art3mis. She is an amazing video gamer and egg hunter (gunter) that she is leaps and bounds ahead of everyone…and she is a GIRL. Heck yes!

#2 – Mark Watney – The Martian by Andy Weir

Mark Watney was stranded on Mars with no possibility of rescue for years. That could get a man down, but not Mark Watney. He was pretty much doomed, but he kept going and trying to find a way to survive. He even kept a sense of humor about him, like it was no big deal.

#1 – Neville Longbottom – Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

I am putting Neville on this list more than that AMAZINGLY AWESOME SCENE IN THE SEVENTH BOOK/MOVIE WHEN NEVILLE KICKED SO MUCH NAGINI BUTT. *ahem*

Neville had a ton of character growth throughout the series. He started out that character that’s seemingly there just for humorous purposes, but then he evolves into so much more. I love Neville so much that I own his wand!


 

There’s my list, how about yours?

Which literary characters do you consider to be total badasses?

I’ll see you tomorrow, bookfriends!

kacie

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Book Review: The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

knifeofneverlettinggoTitle: The Knife of Never Letting Go
Author: Patrick Ness
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopia, Fantasy

I received The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness as a Christmas gift this year and it had been on my wish list for several months. I’d only read one Patrick Ness novel, but I had heard so many great things about the Chaos Walking trilogy that I needed to pick this one up.

Premise: 5/5

A boy named Todd is almost a man. He’ll be a man in about a month, actually. When a boy becomes a man in Prentisstown, something changes within them. Todd is the last boy in Prentisstown, meaning he has been left out of a lot by the men. That’s not the only thing odd about Prentisstown. There are no women. Oh, and everyone can hear your thoughts. All the time. In fact, you can hear every thought in town, coming together to form the Noise that is the world’s background. Unfortunately for Todd, that means that his thoughts are going to cause him to be caught and possibly worse, because Todd is running. But how can you hide from a world that can hear your secret plans?

Yes. Sold. This sounds AWESOME.

Plot Development: 4/5

The plot did wonderful justice to this premise. It was paced well and was everything that I expected it would be. I only have a slight issue with the believability of a certain character that I won’t talk about due to spoilers.

Characterization: 4/5

I enjoyed Ness’s characterization in this novel, even though I thought it could be better. Ultimately, Beginning-Todd is much different than End-Todd, which is pretty great. I also loved Manchee, Todd’s dog. I thought the Noise was pretty well done throughout the novel.

Writing Style: 3/5

This book took me a month to read. It was hard for me to be in the mood for it because of the writing style. It reminded me of The Maze Runner by James Dashner, which I did not like, in that it was really dramatic and withheld a lot of information from the reader. Every chapter ended in too much suspense, making me think “dun dun DUN” way too often. Overall, I was able to look past this because of the intriguing storyline.

Readability: 4/5

The overdramatic aspects of this novel, however, made this a true Young Adult novel. It definitely caters to the intended YA audience. Its language and content was appropriate for the audience as well. Sometimes, the Noise made the dialogue between characters really confusing, but other than that, it was pretty easy to read…when I was in the mood to do so.

Total Score: 20/25, avg. 4/5

4 stars

This is an obvious 4 stars. It took me a month to read because of some issues I had with it, but I liked it overall. It was an interesting read and I’ll more than likely continue the series.

I read this book for the #sixsquaredchallenge hosted by bookstacksamber! – Books to Start a Series

Have you read The Knife of Never Letting Go? What did you think?

kacie

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Want to purchase a copy of The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness for yourself? Check it out on The Book Depository by clicking HERE.