Book: Ten Tiny Breaths by K.A. Tucker, Simon & Schuster Audio, May 14, 2013
Book Info: Contemporary Romance / NA, Audiobook received for review from Simon & Schuster Audio. Running time: 8 hrs, 58 mins. Read by: Elizabeth Louise. Also available in e-book format from Atria Books.
Rating: 4 / 5 Stars
Ten Tiny Breaths by K.A. Tucker is an emotional and addictive story about learning to breathe again when your world falls apart. I’ve read my share of angsty New Adult books so I could anticipate the twists and turns in TTB, but I still listened with rapt attention. I rooted for the physically and emotionally scarred main character to heal and to hopefully get her HEA.
Kacey is reeling from a traumatic car accident that turned her world upside down. All she has left is her sister Livie, and she’ll protect her with her last breath. The two sisters relocate from Grand Rapids to Miami to get out of a dangerous situation and try to make it on their own. Kacie has demons to overcome, and new friends and a handsome stranger are more than willing to help.
This New Adult book tackles the issue of PTSD. Kacey numbs her pain with one-night stands, kickboxing and alcohol. But now she has a chance at a fresh start and to find healthier coping methods. She has her fifteen-year-old sister relying on her so she gets a job to keep a roof over their head.
In the Melrose Place style apartment building, Kacey makes fast friends with Storm and Trent. Storm is the mother of a young daughter, and she gets Kacey a job bartending at the strip club she works at. Storm, aka Nora, is a sweet and supportive friend in Kacey’s corner and helps her to open up. Trent is the hot neighbor Kacey meets in the laundry room and they both have dirty laundry to air so to speak. Trent’s always around right when Kacey needs him, and literally and figuratively breaks down her door.
I liked the theme of healing and forgiveness and remembering to breathe in TTB. Each section of the book is titled with a stage in Kacey’s healing journey. Kacey’s progress is hard earned and realistic- nothing comes easy. The PTSD story is intriguing and handled well.
In Kacey we see a different New Adult character; Kacey’s not in college, but just trying to survive and provide a better life for her sister. Kacey is tough yet vulnerable and is a hard shell to crack. We see her at work, putting food on the table, and blowing off steam at the gym. Kacey’s sister Livie is a ray of sunshine and is working towards college. She also helps out with babysitting Storm’s daughter. It’s nice seeing the new family/friendship bonds that form for the sisters.
The romantic relationship in the story is an important part of Kacey’s journey, but it’s refreshing that the story is not entirely all about that. There are many issues that Kacey face on her own before tackling a relationship, and I like the way Tucker handles that aspect.
Elizabeth Louise reads the audiobook. I was pleasantly surprised to find I recognized this narrator’s voice. It took me a second to figure it out but she also narrates the Thoughtless series under the name Rebekkah Ross. If you’re an S.C. Stephens audiobook fan, you’ll be happy to hear Kellan and Kiera’s narrator again. Louise has an age appropriate sounding voice for New Adult age characters, and she captures the damaged voice of Kacey well. I really like Louise’s voice for the male characters too- they sound very natural. I got through this 12-hour audiobook in no time at all.
Ten Tiny Breaths is engaging with good, well-rounded supporting characters and relationships that take the story to another level. Tucker weaves a good story and I’m eager to read more about Livie in One Tiny Lie.
The author has an audiobook giveaway going on now if you’d like to give the Ten Tiny Breaths audiobook a try.
School’s out this week, it’s almost Memorial Day- how time flies! Hope your May is going great so far.
Looking for Me by Beth Hoffman from Penguin Audio
A Conspiracy of Faith by Jussi Adler-Olson from Penguin Audio
Dear Cassie by Lisa Burstein ordered from Grass Roots Books (signed!)
Winger by Andrew Smith purchase
Going Vintage by Lindsey Leavitt from the library
Dr. Bird’s Advice for Sad Poets by Evan Roskos from the library
Digital e-books and audiobooks:
Ten Tiny Breaths by K.A. Tucker audiobook for review from Simon & Schuster Audio
Wallbanger by Alice Clayton audiobook for review from Simon & Schuster Audio
The Sweet Dead Life by Joy Preble audiobook for review from Audiobook Jukebox and AudioGo
Leap of Faith by Jamie Blair for review from Simon & Schuster via Edelweiss
To Be Perfectly Honest by Sonya Sones for review from Simon & Schuster via Edelweiss
Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight – Purchased on my sister’s recommendation. She says this is a good Gone Girl type book and it does sound awesome.
The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shepherd – kindle daily deal for $1.99
Let the Sky Fall by Shannon Messenger – kindle deal for $2.99, still on sale
The Story of Us by Deb Caletti – kindle deal for $3.79
Where I Belong by Gwendolyn Heasley – kindle deal for $1.99, still on sale
Smart Girls Get What They Want by Sarah Strohmeyer – kindle deal for $1.99, still on sale
Let me know what you’re reading in the comments. Have a good week!
Book: The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey, Penguin Audio, May 7, 2013
Book Info: YA Sci-Fi/Dystopian, Audiobook received for review from Penguin Audio. Running time: 12 hrs, 41 mins. Read by: Phoebe Strole and Brandon Espinoza. Also available in HC, 457 pages (I bought it) from G.P. Putnam’s Sons.
Rating: 4 / 5 Stars
The 5th Wave is impossible to ignore right now, and arguably the hottest YA book of the summer. I don’t read a lot of science fiction so I was wary about an alien invasion book described as The Passage meets Ender’s Game. But, all the rave reviews and Hunger Games comparisons got to me and soon I had the 5th Wave fever. The 5th Wave is thrilling like a rollercoaster and fun like a summer popcorn movie. And I think it’s accessible enough for the casual sci-fi fan and very much a human story. It’s one I picked up in hardcover because I know it’s going to be a book I can loan out to a wide variety of readers.
In Rick Yancey’s The 5th Wave, civilization as we know it has been wiped out by alien invaders in four devastating waves. The aliens want to get rid of the humans but leave the earth in good shape for themselves. These aliens are smart and have done their homework on how to exterminate the human race. Cassie is a teen who miraculously survived the first four waves with most of her family intact. She gets separated from her younger brother Sammy though, and the goal to get him back is what’s keeping her alive. Meanwhile she’s dodging aliens (nicknamed “the Others”) and hoping there won’t be a fifth wave.
In addition to Cassie and her brother Sam, we meet a character referred to as “Zombie”, and the mysterious Evan Walker who gives shelter to Cassie when she’s on the run. The story kicks off with Cassie’s POV but changes setting and characters with Zombie’s perspective. I clicked more with Cassie’s story and preferred being in her head, but the dual POV does give the reader a wider view of all the happenings. One drawback for me is that with the change in perspective I felt a little detached from the characters. Ideally, I would prefer the book was only from Cassie’s POV even though I get it from a storytelling perspective.
The chapters are short and action packed. The story drew me in quickly and I could feel the hopelessness and desperation the characters faced. It’s a scary story; partly because it seemed so realistic I could buy into the terror of it all.
I mentioned there are two guys in the story, right? So, yes there is some romance and it’s not without its complications. I liked that the romance doesn’t take over the book but it is there to break up some of the tension of the alien attack. I wouldn’t call this an alien romance exactly in the vein of Jennifer L. Armentrout’s Lux series, but it is there and I’m curious to see where it goes.
I listened to the audiobook read by Phoebe Strole and Brandon Espinoza, both new-to-me narrators. I’m happy that I listened to the audiobook because it was easier to keep track of the different perspectives with different male and female narrators. Phoebe Strole’s voice reminds me of narrator Emma Galvin (Divergent) combined with Sarah Drew (Delirium). She sounds age appropriate for sixteen-year-old Cassie and conveys her toughness & sarcasm as well as her vulnerability. I liked her quite a lot. Brandon Espinoza also does a fine job with the male voices, and he in particular has to voice a variety of ages and personalities. Both read with a pace to my liking and increased the intensity as the story dictated. I’d recommend listening to the audiobook of this one to really let you escape into the story. I’m going to read it in print to get that experience as well.
I do think this book is a natural sell to Divergent and Hunger Games fans and has crossover appeal for any type of reader. The ending really makes me eager for the next book in the series, though we have a long wait on our hands. Bring on the movie!
Book: The Program by Suzanne Young, Simon & Schuster Audio, April 30, 2013
Book Info: YA Dystopia, Audiobook received for review from Simon & Schuster Audio. Running time: 10hrs, 56 mins. Read by: Joy Osmanski. Also available in HC, 416 pages from Simon Pulse
Rating: 4 / 5 Stars
The Program takes place in an alternate reality where suicide is a teen epidemic. If a teen aged 13-17 shows signs of depression they are sent to the Program for treatment, where doctors erase the suicidal thoughts with therapy and drugs. Once your memory is reset you are considered cured and can re-enter society. Sloane wants to avoid going into the Program at all costs, so she tries to avoid the attention of the watchful handlers and teachers. She lost a brother to suicide so her parents are especially attentive to Sloane’s moods. Her safe haven is with her boyfriend James, and with him she can be herself and not so controlled. But they are both feeling the weight of depression and it’s harder and harder to escape notice of the Program.
The future is pretty bleak in the Program. I was worried about how depressing this book would be to read, but it’s actually a really interesting premise. This book gave me food for thought about depression, therapy, and anti-depressants. It made me wonder, if I could, would I erase painful memories so I could live my life blissfully unaware of my psychological scars? I guess it’s tempting, but I wouldn’t want to have that decision forced on me like in the Program. It reminded me of the procedure in Delirium to cure the love disease, except this is more of a complete mind eraser/reprogramming.
There is a strong romantic side to this book, with an epic love story between James and Sloane. It’s pretty interesting and creative how we learn their backstory and how their relationship evolves over the course of the book. I was invested in their saga and wanted them to beat the odds.
A few side characters play a part in Sloane’s journey, most notably Realm. He’s someone a little sketchy who you’re never sure if you can trust. But mainly this is Sloane and James’ story, and they have plenty of obstacles to overcome all on their own.
Joy Osmanski read the audiobook. I listened to her narrate What the Spell prior to this book but I didn’t even recognize her voice this time around. Osmanski captures the essence of Sloane and her voice sounds like a teen. Her pace is good, and I had no trouble telling the characters apart. When I wasn’t listening to this audiobook I was thinking about it and wanting to get back to it. There is some trickiness in the storytelling with flashbacks and mind games and Osmanski handles that well and brings the reader along for the ride. So in terms of the unique nature of the book, the audio format enhances the reading experience, but I’m curious to see how it compares in print.
At the end of the audiobook there’s a bonus interview with Suzanne Young and she discusses how she came up with the story and teases the next book. There is one more book in the series, and I think it’s considered a companion book. The ending does make me excited to see what happens next, though the book works pretty well on its own too.
I think The Program will appeal to readers who like romantic dystopia like Delirium or Matched. For what it’s worth, I’m more into contemporary these days and I did get more of a contemporary vibe in this one than sci-fi/dystopia, and the author considers it to be alternate reality in fact. The Program is a book I wanted to talk about immediately after I finished it, so I think it would make for a good book club discussion. The book illustrates depression quite well, while not being depressing if that makes sense. It also strikes a hopeful note and I’m interested to see where Young takes it next.
Suzanne Young talks about The Program:
Book: The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer, Penguin Audio, April 9, 2013
Book Info: Fiction, Audiobook received for review from Penguin Audio. Running time: 15 hrs, 41 mins. Read by: Jen Tullock. Also available in hardcover from Riverhead Books.
Rating: 4 / 5 Stars
The Interestings is the first novel I’ve read/listened to by Meg Wolitzer. I went into the book with high expectations, after seeing all the book buzz and the “A” grade review in EW. I lived in New York for a short time, so I’m always happy to read books that are set there. Plus, I find the subject matter of watching creative kids grow up and the challenges and opportunities they face fascinating. Friendships and other relationships are explored as The Interestings navigate the adult world. Though the book started out a little less than interesting, I soon got lost in the story and couldn’t put it down.
The Interestings time frame starts out in the 1970s and spans four decades. The title refers to the name the group of creative friends dub themselves at an artsy summer camp in the Berkshires. The clique stays in touch over the years, some leave their art camp dreams behind, while others build on their talents.
We follow the lives of a group of friends in The Interestings. Jules and Ash have the acting bug; Ethan is the animator, Cathy, a dancer, Jonah, the musician, and Goodman, the architect. Ethan is the most famous of the group, and achieves a Matt Groening level of success. His fame is something that sets him apart from the other Interestings, though he tries to stay grounded and keep his old friends close by. It’s hard for the other friends to keep jealousy at bay, especially when they settle for careers so different than they hoped for.
Since the book covers 40 years, important topics of the day are touched upon, from trendy cuisine and technology to feminism, AIDS, terrorism, autism, depression, and abuse. But at the center of it all are the friendships and there is some juicy stuff going on that kept me riveted.
I listened to the audiobook, read by Jen Tullock, and it’s my first experience with her narration. (I don’t see any other books credited to her on Audible) Tullock “gets” the characters and gives them distinct personalities. She sounds age appropriate and talks like a New Yorker. I tend to like narrators that talk quickly and Tullock’s pace was just perfect for me. I think the narration enhanced the book, and I don’t think I missed anything by not reading the print version. Except- there were times when I didn’t have the audiobook handy that I wished I had the print version too so I could keep reading!
Meg Wolitzer made the book entertaining and thought provoking. She weaves a good story, and plays with time to tease out the events. Wolitzer makes insightful observations about her characters and made me care about them. I don’t read a lot of literary fiction, but I’d put this book up there with Gone Girl in terms of the enjoyment factor.
Add The Interestings to your summer reading list if you like reading books about life, friendships and relationships, and New York. It would certainly be a good book club choice too. Be sure to serve The Interestings favorite 70s cocktail, V&T (Vodka and Tang) to go with your book discussion.
Book: The Best Of Us by Sarah Pekkanen, Simon & Schuster Audio, April 9, 2013
Book Info: Fiction, Audiobook received for review from Simon & Schuster Audio. Running time: 11 hrs, 11 mins. Read by: Cassandra Campbell. Also available in PB, 352 pages
Rating: 4 / 5 Stars
The Best Of Us is the first novel I’ve read by Sarah Pekkanen. I’ve heard her name mentioned before though, and the relaxed island vibe of the cover got my attention. In The Best Of Us, a group of old college friends go to Jamaica together with their spouses to celebrate their wealthy friend’s 35th birthday. The friends have kids, marital problems and other secrets that they are eager to leave behind for a while to have fun. With a hurricane approaching, tensions run high on the island as all the issues bubble to the surface.
The Best Of Us follows four women on this trip to Jamaica. Tina is an overworked wife and mom. Her four kids are tiring her out, and she and her husband Gio are struggling to make ends meet. Tina’s BFF Allie is married to Ryan, and is hiding a secret about her health. Their friend Savannah reminded me of a Samantha/Sex & the City type. She loves to flirt and party, but her marriage is unraveling due to her husband’s infidelity. Pauline is the woman who organized the Jamaica trip as a gift to her husband Dwight. She is cool, calm and collected on the outside but she’s harboring a secret that’s tearing her apart.
I love the idea of an all-expense paid luxury group trip to Jamaica- so that part of the book was pure escapism. I’m sure many of us dream of leaving our home, work and family responsibilities behind for some R&R on the beach. But a lot of the book is also about the friends dealing with their real-life problems, which is more reality than I usually look for in my reading. I could probably relate to Tina the most – being dragged down by cooking, cleaning, etc. and wanting to have more time to herself and her husband. So, some of the real life stuff wasn’t really the escapist sort of read I usually gravitate to. But, I did like when the perfect vacation started to fall apart as the friends stopped being polite and started facing up to their issues. The friendships rang true, and sometimes you loved them and felt protective and sometimes you wanted nothing to do with them.
Veteran narrator Cassandra Campbell reads the audiobook. Campbell is one of the readers of the multi-voiced audiobook The Help, and many other audiobooks. Campbell is a good fit for this story, she sounds age-appropriate, and makes each character come alive. She sounds cool and detached for Pauline, and suggestive for Savannah. I had no trouble keeping track of each woman’s story, due in part to the narration. Campbell gets into character and takes her time with the pacing, matching the relaxed tone of the island. She also ramps up the tension when needed. It’s an audiobook I thought about when I wasn’t listening to it, eager to get back to the story.
The Best Of Us is a juicy read that’s perfect for a day at the beach. It’s easy to get lost in the drama of The Best of Us maybe you’ll come out of it a little wiser just like the friends in the book.
Hello and happy Friday! Let’s celebrate with a giveaway to start the weekend off right. This is your opportunity to try out a popular New Adult series and an audiobook all at the same time!
This is an audiobook giveaway, so if you’ve always wanted to try one now’s your chance. I have listened to both of these Jamie McGuire books via audio and the narration is excellent. The “Disaster” books are addictive, and if you like dysfunctional romance this is the series for you. (There’s even a Best Dysfunctional Romances list on Goodreads and Beautiful Disaster is #1)
Here’s a little background on the Disaster series, and audio samples:
Beautiful Disaster (my audiobook review) is about Abby Abernathy, a college student with a dark past, who gets involved with Travis “Mad Dog” Maddox, a tattooed womanizer who fights to pay his college tuition. The audiobook is read by Emma Galvin, and is 10 hours and 30 minutes.
Walking Disaster (my audiobook review) is the companion book to Beautiful Disaster and is the same story told in Travis’s POV. Colleen Hoover says, “Once you get inside Travis Maddox’s head, you won’t want to leave.” The audiobook is read by Dan Bittner, and is 11 hours and 26 minutes.
The giveaway has ended- Congrats to Amy!