Sunday, July 28, 2013

Best of 2013. . .So Far!

Turns out, I'm a slow reviewer. I like to read...savor...process...and let it all sink in before I actually put my thoughts to words. The reviews I write as soon as I close the book are typically rambling, in-cohesive messes....which is probably why I currently only have 7 reviews on Goodreads...and none of them are particularly glowing. The glowing ones are the hardest because I really want to express why I found the book so wonderful. I want to convince the world to love the story as much as I did & do my best not to spoil anything for them.

That being said, here are some of the best books I have read in the past year or so. In no particular order (other than the order that they popped into my head....which could mean that I love them most...or just encountered them recently!) If they made this list, then I highly recommend the book...the author...or anything else ever written by the author. Here is my author spotlight. Hopefully reviews will soon follow!

Tammara Webber

I have to start this list with Tammara. I thank her for piquing my interest in indie authors. I found her first book, Between The Lines, as a deal on Amazon soon after I bought my Kindle. I have worked in theatre & film, so the description of the book grabbed my attention. I read the book...loved it...and then looked to see what else she might have available. Luckily for me, the second book in the series was coming out soon. While I was waiting, I chatted with her a bit on Facebook & picked up a couple of books that she recommended. Soon, I found myself reading my way through her favorites list on Goodreads since it seemed that we had very similar tastes. I was thrilled to get to meet her (however briefly!) at a signing in Dallas earlier this year.

Most of the authors/books listed below are either from that list, or came from the rabbit trail of following each author that I read & liked on Facebook & picking up books they recommended.

1. Between The Lines - This is the first book of her series.  We meet Emma, Reid, Brook & Graham as they begin filming School Pride (aka Pride & Prejudice in high school).

2. Where Are You (Between the Lines #2) - This book picks up immediately where Between the Lines ended & we follow Emma, Graham, Reid & Brook through the media tour surrounding the opening of the film.

3. Good For You (Between the Lines #3) - This one is my favorite of all 4 of her books! It could be read as a stand-alone, but you really should read the first two to get Reid's full arc. I've never been one to fall for the bad-boy, but she reeled me in with his story!

4. Easy - Easy is a stand-alone story following a college girl as she struggles to find peace & reclaim her strength after an attack one nigh leaves her questioning herself & who she can trust.  It has a different tone than the Between The Lines series but is equally compelling.

Jessica Park

1. Flat-Out Love --I'm a re-reader, but my limited free time & my massive to-be-read list usually prevents me from re-visiting books very quickly. However, I bought FOL last September & have already read it once & listened to the audiobook twice.

After finishing Flat-Out Matt last night...I'm considering reading it again soon!

2. Flat-Out Matt -- (This is a companion novella to Flat-Out Love. Do yourself a favor & read Flat-Out Love before you even read the description of this one! Of course, if you haven't read Flat-Out Love, then you should. You won't be able to resist wanting more of these characters.)

3. Relatively Famous

4. Left Drowning  --  This one is very different than the other three.  They are PG where this one is R.  It took me a little while to fully connect with the characters, but I'm glad I stuck with them on their rocky journey!

Colleen Hoover

1. Slammed -- I read this one in one sitting....and then spent hours listening to & downloading Avett Brother's songs. If you haven't heard of this book, or this band, check them both out!

2. Point of Retreat (Slammed #2)

3. This Girl (Slammed #3)  -- Basically a retelling of Slammed through Will's point-of-view, but she does it in such a clever way that it feels like a new story.

3. Hopeless -- Colleen Hoover's characters don't live in a fairytale world.  Tragedy happens.  I knew this from reading Slammed but somehow this book (even with a title like Hopeless) surprised me.

4. Losing Hope (Companion Novel to Hopeless)  Holder's retelling of Hopeless.  It's a more traditional alternate-POV story than This Girl was, but it adds new insight to Holder and what happened to him to make him the way he is.

Katja Millay

1. The Sea of Tranquility -- Wow...That is all.

Jeri Smith-Ready

1. Shade -- Ghosts & a Cute Scottish boy. I first experienced this by audiobook....the accent won me over! After that, the story & legend intrigued me. I have always wanted to go to if I ever make it, I'll have to go to Newgrange. Few books send me to the internet for research, but she intrigued me enough I had to know more.

2. Shift (Shade #2)

3. Shine (Shade #3)

Tracey Garvis Graves

1. On The Island -- Don't read anything about this book...just read it. The summary almost turned me off, but this was one I gave a chance based on Tammara's recommendation. Never regretted it for a second.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

A Little About Me. . .

Welcome to my Hideaway! I am new to blogging & haven't really written anything in a while, but I decided to try my hand at both. I have been reading books practically non-stop since I discovered what words were. Growing up, my mother quickly learned that the most effective punishment for me was to take away my book (usually because I was reading instead of doing whatever she told me to do, but that's beside the point!)

As a teenager, I would often read books that were geared towards a much older audience. (But really, what 15 year old girl hasn't gotten their hands on a Harlequin novel & giggled with her girlfriends over the sex scenes?) However, as I actually grew into the target age range of those books, it became harder & harder for me to find a story that would take me away. It felt as if a lot of the "popular" adult fiction authors had gotten lazy. I was rarely surprised by a story and had almost gotten bored with reading...but I could never truly give up my first love! So, I kept searching...

Several years ago, I got my first desk job. I found that I worked best when I drowned out the background noise & office chatter. At first I tried music, but then, on a whim, I checked out an audiobook from the library. My life was changed! Now, I could work & read at the same time! The only catch was that I needed to find a story that interested me, but at the same time, was one I could follow with regular interruptions by co-workers or the phone. Thanks to the wonderful world of Harry Potter (which for the record is FANTASTICALLY narrated by Jim Dale), I drifted more into the Young Adult genre. I'll admit...I'm a girly girl when it comes to the books I read. So, I have always been drawn to books with some sort of a romantic story line. However, through YA Fantasy novels I was able to go on adventures. I could be a wizard, hang out with faeries, spend my summers at Camp Half-Blood, fall in love with were-wolves (sorry vampire lovers!), or just be 16 & fall in love for the first time again. As I started to feel a new excitement about reading, I began to wonder about the "target audiences" of books. Who decides that I am too old or too young to like a certain story? At first, I was embarrassed when I realized that the majority of my reading material was coming out of the kids section of the library, but then I just embraced it. I had found a group of authors that were actually being creative with their writing.

My life was changed once again when I finally gave in & bought a Kindle. I bought it solely for travel because I found that carrying 3 or 4 books with me wherever I went got heavy. However, now that I have it, I love it more than I could have imagined. It's so light & easy to hold! And holds hundreds of books! Now, I tend to miss it when I am reading a "real" book. I never thought I'd say that! Part of me still dreams of having a house some day with the perfect library: floor to ceiling bookshelves, a sliding ladder, a cozy couch & perfect lighting. Though, chances are, now those shelves would only contain the books that I LOVED & had to own for the art of displaying them (preferably signed by the author!), and I would be curled up on the couch with my Kindle!

Most recently, thanks to Kindle, I have stumbled upon the world of independently published authors. While I was skeptical at first of cheap & free ebooks (figuring that they couldn't be that good if they were just giving them away), I have been pleasantly surprised! I've found a lot of fantastic books that were being given away just to get the authors some recognition. It has been fun watching some of those authors go from giving digital copies away to being best sellers who now have physical copies of their books on the shelves at the local bookstore.

That's where this blog comes in. I am going to spotlight books that I loved & authors that shine. If I don't like a book, chances are I won't take the time to write about it.  So, leave your shoes at the door, grab a couch (or hammock!) and go on an adventure with me!  If you find a book here that you love as much as I do, let me know!  Feel free to send me recommendations as well...I'm always looking for a new book!