Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Best Books You've Read in 2017 So Far

Welcome to Top Ten Tuesday hosted by The Broke and the Bookish!

Hard to believe we're at the half-way point of 2017! This year is really flying.

Here are the books that I'd say are the ten best I've read so far this year. It'll be interesting to see how this list changes by the end of the year.

1. The Names They Gave Us - Emery Lord

2. Who Thought This Was a Good Idea?: And Other Questions You Should Have Answers to When You Work in the White House - Alyssa Mastromonaco

3. Alex, Approximately - Jenn Bennett

4. Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis - J.D. Vance

5. All the Light We Cannot See - Anthony Doerr

6. The Hating Game - Sally Thorne

7. The Princess Diarist - Carrie Fisher

8. Talking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls, and Everything In Between

9. The Skeptics' Guide to the Mysteries of the Universe - Jessica Arden

10. All I Ask - Nicole McLaughlin

All images via Goodreads

Monday, June 26, 2017

Book Review - Along Came Us by Nicole McLaughlin

From Goodreads: He’s Mr. Wrong, she’s Miss Independent. When the two come together, sparks fly! Don’t miss Along Came Us, a sexy and heartwarming romance from Nicole McLaughlin.

National Guardsman Tyler Cavallo knows all too well what it feels like to be a volatile teenager. There was a time when it seemed like everyone—be it his father, a rival gang member, or his opponent in the MMA cage—was out to get him. These days he focuses that fight into his gym where he mentors at-risk youths. But one particular teen has Tyler more concerned than usual, and if he’s learned one thing in life, it’s to trust his instincts, and right now those instincts are telling him that this boy isn’t safe.

Lia Hanson is a woman on a mission. With bills to pay, and a younger brother to raise, and two full time jobs, she’s working her ass off and doing the best she can. But in a few months she will finally graduate from college and be able to put most of that behind her for good. Or so she thinks, until a certain overbearing and stupidly good looking gym owner acts like he knows what’s best for her brother. A man is the last thing she wants, and this man is certainly not who she pictured as a stable role model. Lia thought she had a plan, but Tyler’s support, strength and passion have her realizing that sometimes the best things in life come when they’re least expected.

My Thoughts: I received an advanced review copy of this book and was so excited to get my hands on this. This is the second book in McLaughlin's Man Enough series and I really liked the first one, All I Ask.

This story continues off of Reeve and Emily's story by focusing on one of Reeve's friends, Tyler, and the sister/caretaker of a student of Tyler's gym, Lia. Tyler and Lia are both great characters. They have flaws (stubbornness, self-doubt, moments of doing or saying the wrong thing) but they are both learning and growing and you can't help but root for them. 

McLaughlin has built such a great story with this series; the characters are all compelling, the settings come to life and make you really want to go there. I loved the references to the characters and storyline from All I Ask. It was a fun little game to catch all of these.

Overall I really recommend you pick this up when it comes out on 6/27/17, and definitely pick up All I Ask first if you haven't read that one yet.

Review copy provided by Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

Photo from Goodreads.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Book Review - The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord

From Goodreads: When it all falls apart, who can you believe in?

Everything is going right for Lucy Hansson, until her mom’s cancer reappears. Just like that, Lucy breaks with all the constants in her life: her do-good boyfriend, her steady faith, even her longtime summer church camp job.

Instead, Lucy lands at a camp for kids who have been through tough times. As a counselor, Lucy is in over her head and longs to be with her parents across the lake. But that’s before she gets to know her coworkers, who are as loving and unafraid as she so desperately wants to be.

It’s not just new friends that Lucy discovers at camp—more than one old secret is revealed along the way. In fact, maybe there’s much more to her family and her faith than Lucy ever realized.

My Thoughts: I read Lord's Open Road Summer a few years ago and she quickly moved onto my (very short) Authors I Will Always Pre-Order list. There is something about her writing that so perfectly captures the good and bad of life, people, places, everything that just really draws me in. I want to be Lord's friend and I want her to teach me how to be the kind of writer she is. And the thing is, the characters she creates are the kind of people you want to be friends with too.

This book made me laugh and made me practically sob. Look up the term emotional roller coaster and the definition should just be the cover of this book. Lucy is such a perfect character - she has flaws and she has so much to learn but you can't help but root for her, even if she's having a moment where you just want to shake her a little to get her to see what's really going on. All of the outside characters are amazing, from her family to the people at camp. You'll immediately start rooting for them all, even if you haven't quite figured out their whole story yet.

And that's another amazing thing about this book, just when you think you've got it all figured out there's suddenly a curve ball. And the best part is, the curve ball works. I never had a moment of thinking "what? That doesn't make sense." It was all perfect.

I cannot recommend this book enough. I honestly want to buy a copy for everyone I know and bring them a mug of hot chocolate when they're done. That's how amazing this book is.

Photo from Goodreads

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