ABC Reads: January Update

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Today is the first link-up for the ABC Reads challenge.  These are the books I read for the challenge during the month of January.  I will be reviewing all of them on the 9th for another link-up.

E: The Evolution of Mara Dyer (1/13/16)
G: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (1/28/16)
O: Of Poseidon by Anna Banks (1/29/16)
R: The Retribution of Mara Dyer (1/17/16)
W: The Wicked Will Rise by Danielle Paige (1/5/16)


Book Reviews: September 2015

Friday, January 29, 2016

September was a winning month for me as far as reading is concerned.  I read a lot of fabulous books and some of them have become favorites.

Seeing as how this was written by the author of The Book Thief, I had extremely high hopes for this book.  It wasn't as good as The Book Thief, but it was still a really good book.   I really enjoyed the mystery to this book, who is sending Ed these messages?  I also liked that throughout the book, your view on the main character is going to change.  You'll find yourself wanting to yell at him and then find yourself wanting to hug him.  The message of this book is also very clear and very beautiful.  I highly recommend this book to anyone.  Even if you didn't like The Book Thief, the books are so different; this one is definitely worth reading.
I gave this book a 4/5 on my GoodReads

To be honest, I was a bit hesitant about reading this book.  I loved the Selection series and really wasn't sure how I felt about another book being published - I liked it just how it was.   I must say, I was pleasantly surprised by this book and I didn't feel like it took anything away from the previous three books.  I actually really really enjoyed this new perspective and even though she can be a bit whiny, I really like Eadlyn's character.  I am pretty sure that boy wise, I can tell what's going to happen but I'm really interested to see if I'm right and I'm really looking forward to reading the next book.   I really want to say more about it but I really can't without giving too much away, but if you liked the Selection series, then I definitely recommend you read this book. 
I gave this book a 5/5 on my GoodReads

I talked about books in this format with Boy Next Door.  I liked this one better.  It was a cute story and I think it left a little less to the imagination than Boy Next Door, which was good. The story was cute, it dealt with some heavy issues and I think it was done well, and I really liked the main characters as well as the secondary characters.  Not my favorite Rainbow Rowell book, but definitely worth reading if you're a fan of hers.
I gave this book a 3/5 on my GoodReads

I absolutely loved this book!  World War 2 era historical fiction books are my favorite and this one just moved to the top of the list.  I was excited to read this because the other historical fiction book that she wrote, Winter Garden, is one of my all time favorites.  Kristin Hannah did not disappoint!  This is the first book I read about the French resistance and I really liked learning about it.  We focus so much on Germany during World War 2, we often overlook other countries.  I had no idea how much the people of France suffered during this time.  I found myself completely invested in each of the characters and had a hard time putting this book down.  Definitely keep a box of tissues nearby towards the end!
I gave this book a 5/5 on my GoodReads

Not my favorite Sarah Addison Allen book but still a decent read.  I really loved Devin, she is exactly how a kid should be - silly and imaginative.  I also really enjoyed reading both Lisette and Wes's backstories, especially Lisette's.   The overall plot of the book was cute enough and of course I always love that there is a little bit of subtle magic in all of her books, and this one was no different. It was cute and entertaining but not her best book.
I gave this book a 3/5 on my GoodReads.

This wasn't the best series I've ever read but it was entertaining enough. I thought the first book was really good and that the whole series had a lot of potential but it didn't live up to what I thought it would be.  So in short, the first book was great and I couldn't put it down - I love the premise of the book and I really liked Lena.   The second book was still good but not as good as the first one; I feel like the last half of the book was better and their was a good cliffhanger.  The third was eh.  I feel like there was so much potential but instead it just seemed rushed and lazy with a lot of lose ends.  Again, I seem to be in the minority with not liking the end of the series.  I still recommend these books to anyone who likes YA dystopian.
I gave the first book a 4/5 and the second and third a 3/5 on GoodReads.

Alyson Richman's books always get me right in the feels!  I loved The Lost Wife, so my hopes were high for this book.  Though I still like The Lost Wife more, this book was definitely fantastic and did live up to my expectations.  As I said before, I really love WW2 historical fiction and this book gives a glimpse of yet another country during this time, Italy.  I don't know what to say except that this was a beautiful story; Angelo and Elodie's stories intertwine beautifully.  I loved it and didn't want it to end.  The characters were amazing and the story line was, too! 
I gave this book a 4/5 on my GoodReads.

Book Reviews: October 2015

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

I don't remember why I only read 4 books in October.  It must have been one of those months where I just couldn't find something to read.  Who knows?  Here are the four that I managed to finish:

You can definitely tell that this book is aimed towards the younger end of "young adults".  With that being said, I still enjoyed reading this.  I will say that the plot twist was predictable, the story was a bit fluffy and cliche, and I really think Noah's age should have been closer to Penny's - he seemed way younger than 18But if you take the book for what it is, the story is enjoyable and it's an easy read.   I would only recommend this to those looking for something light and fluffy and who don't mind reading stories about high school aged kids. Otherwise, this book is probably not for you. 
I gave this book a 3/5 on my GoodReads

I have never not liked Miranda Kenneally's books.  They're definitely aimed more towards high school aged girls, but I always enjoy them.  I like that all of the characters, including the ones in this book, have been very likable and easy to relate to.  I also love that there is no unnecessary fluff or boring parts to the book.  And for a book being aimed at high-schoolers, the writing is very good.  So, if you are looking for a light, easy, and enjoyable read, I would definitely recommend this book.  Actually I would recommend you start with her first book and work to this one.  Although you don't need to read them in order, some of the characters show up in each others books (Maya's Brother is a main character in Catching Jordan). 
I gave this book a 4/5 on my GoodReads.

I must have really wanted to flash back to high school in October because this is yet another book aimed towards late high school/early college aged girls.  This book was just OK.  I feel like the main character actually got worse as the book went along.  She had this rage against her family and her best friend that I thought was a bit unfounded.  Character wise, I wasn't a big fan of this book.  I did relate to the fact them Emily felt a bit trapped in her hometown and wanted to get out and explore ... even if Philadelphia wasn't that far.  I was like that at her age too, I wanted nothing more than to leave.  Overall, I was a bit disappointed in this book since I loved her book "The List".
I gave this book a 3/5 on my GoodReads.

I managed to read one adult book this month, I found this book on the bargain shelf at B&N. I had a really mediocre reading month because this book was also just OK.  This was an easy read and there was nothing particularly wrong with it, I just didn't find it all that compelling, and I'd figured out the little twist pretty much right away.   What I did like is that the characters all felt very real, and their problems were very real problems.  I think this would be a decent beach read, but not something I'd go out of my way to recommend.
 I gave this book a 3/5 on my GoodReads.

I hate snow.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Anyone who has been watching the news knows that those of us on the east coast got murdered by snow this weekend (30 inches).  I mainly took these pictures for work to prove that I wasn't bullshitting when I said there's no way I can get off my street, but I figured I'd share all the fun with blogland.  Also, I experienced my first bit of fun as a new Army wife.  Shoveling snow completely by myself.  Also, having my garbage disposal break and start leaking right as it starts snowing.
The first three groups are Saturday and the last two are Sunday.

... so yeah.  Fuck snow.

Vegetarian Intro and Q&A

Friday, January 22, 2016

  As a vegetarian, I get asked a lot of questions after people learn that I choose not to eat meat.  I thought that I would provide a general answer to some of these questions before I do a few posts that go a bit more in depth about vegetarianism.

What do you eat?  Like will you eat seafood? 
This is a valid question because everyone is different.  I will eat some seafood such as crabs and shrimp and sometimes salmon.  I don't eat these thing very often though (crabs once a year, shrimp once a month, salmon if I go to a restaurant and can't find anything else I like).  I do not eat any land dwelling animals (chicken, pig, cow) at all and I only eat some animal byproducts.  For example, I will eat eggs but I use milk very sparingly.  I try to buy products that don't have milk in them.   Right now, I just consider myself vegetarian, but I am definitely making changes and heading towards a more vegan lifestyle.  I don't think I'll ever go 100% vegan but I am trying to eliminate many animal products.

If you don't eat meat then where do you get your protein?
 Every time I'm asked this question I struggle not to bang my head against a wall.  So here is my mini lesson in nutrition.  The reason that meats are considered the best source of protein is because they contain all essential amino acids where as plant sources don't.  However, it is not that hard to find two food sources that, when combined, have all essential amino acids.  If you have a bowl of rice and beans, you now have all essential amino acids.  There are so many good foods out there that are full of protein but people are so stuck on meat being the main source because that is what's advertised.  It's not, it's just the easiest.  My sources of protein?  Almonds, broccoli, almond butter, oatmeal, green beans, brown rice, pasta, and the list goes on.  I plan to do a whole post on protein sources.

Why don't you eat meat?
I have two reasons why I choose to live a vegetarian lifestyle.  1) because I love animals and I think it's a bit hypocritical of me to call myself an animal lover as I sit there and eat a cow.  2) for health reasons; meat has more negative affects on health than positive.  Stay tuned for a more in depth post about this.   This question is almost always asked in conjunction with the next question.

You know humans are omnivores right?  We're supposed to eat meat!
Actually, based on biology and anatomy, there are arguments that this is not true.  We are not built to kill and rip apart flesh with our bear teeth like obligate omnivores.   We can not do this because our teeth are not made for it, and it would make us very sick to not cook the meat.   So, we can eat meat but that doesn't mean we are supposed to eat meat.  

Book Reviews: November 2015

Thursday, January 21, 2016

In November I started reading the books I'd chosen for the SCWBC15.  It seems like for this month I read books that I really loved or really didn't love, there was no in between.  I'm super excited to share the books that I did love!

LOVE LOVE LOVE!!  I am seriously obsessed with this series!  The main character is one of my favorite book characters ever! The main character is a complete badass and I love her - I really love that she knows she's badass!  She's totally confident in herself and her abilities and I love that! There is a bit of a love triangle but this author did it right because honestly, I had no clue who would end up with who by the end of this book and the triangle was pretty subtle.  Just fantastic, I couldn't put this book down!
I gave this book a 5/5 on my GoodReads.

Meh.  I wasn't crazy about this book at all.  I think maybe if I had read it when I was younger I would have appreciated it a bit more but as an adult, it just didn't do it for me.  The book wasn't bad by any means and was easy to get through but I really just didn't connect well to the characters and I didn't feel compelled to read the rest of the series.  The premise is definitely interesting and if you're really into the whole dystopian thing, then I would recommend the book but I think it's a bit more suited for a younger audience.
This book was read as part of the SCWBC15.
I gave this book a 3/5 on my GoodReads

Once again, LOVED!  This story just keeps getting better and better!  After reading this book I like the main character even better than I did in the first one.  The characters keep evolving and I really like the multi-POV so that you can really tell how much each person is changing. There is also quite a few plot twists and though I could see some of them coming, I really loved them all!  I absolutely can not wait to read the rest of this series!  If you are a fan of fantasy, I would highly recommend starting this series, like now.
I gave this book a 5/5 on my GoodReads.

All the feels!  How can you read this book and not be pissed at the end.  I was pissed at the two people that kidnapped her, obviously, but also at the law enforcement officers that went to that house multiple times, and the media for being such piece of shit leaches.  In this book she is very open about what happened to her and the first half of the book is very disturbing.  It really makes you wonder how many other people are being held captive in plain sight.  I'm really interested in psychology and there were definitely some aspects of her psychology (like why she didn't reach out at some points) that were very interesting to me.  You can also tell that her education ended in 5th grade as the writing is pretty simple but in this case I really think it added to her story.  As disturbing and terrifying as this was to read, especially since it really happened, I am still glad that I read it - it gave me hope that truly good people can endure terrible things and still come out of that ordeal a good person.
I read this book as part of the SCWBC15.
I gave this book a 5/5 on my GoodReads

I'm not going to lie, I expected a bit more from this book.  It was a book about a girl who was stolen but also a bit of a love story and that really didn't sit well with me.  Yes, other than kidnapping her, Ty was very respectful of Gemma throughout the book, but still it's a little extreme even for Stockholm syndrome.  I did find myself feeling a bit bad for Ty as most of his issues were because of basically not being raised by anyone and he wasn't an awful person but still, that doesn't change that he kidnapped a human being.   I just feel like there was so much potential to this story but it just didn't live up.  It was slow paced and really nothing happened.  A lot of people really loved this book but it wasn't my cup of tea.
I read this book as part of the SCWBC15.
I gave this book a 2/5 on my GoodReads

This book had a lot of potential but was so hard to get through.  It's kind of a fictional spin off of the Amanda Knox case which I found interesting and followed through the trial.  This could have been a great story but I felt like it just really drug on and I didn't like the main characters at all.  I also didn't like the language, I feel like the author was just trying a bit too hard and it really took away from the book.  It was so slow and had no real conclusion (SPOILER: you never find out if she did it or not, though it seems like she didn't) and for a book, I was just not OK with that.  I understand why the author wrote it like this because I guess we'll never know if Amanda Knox is really guilty or innocent, but still.   This is not a book I'd recommend.
I read this book as part of the SCWBC15.
I gave this book a 2/5 on my GoodReads.

Loved!  My boss actually recommended this book and I really loved it.  It's definitely a dark twist on Oz but it's so good!  I really loved Amy and how much she changes from clueless girl to someone ready to fight.  I also love that the evil side of all of the Oz characters are kind of perfect - just take their actual personalities and put an evil twist on it, it totally makes sense.  This was such a fast and easy read and really enjoyable.
I read this book as part of the SCWBC15.
I gave this book a 4/5 on my GoodReads.

Liebster Award

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Thanks to Barb from Follow The Sun for nominating me for the Liebster Award! I'm supposed to answer Barb's questions and then make up 11 of my own and nominate people for the award.  I am only going to do the first half and answer Barb's questions.  And I nominate anyone who also wants to answer her questions!

What's your favorite place you visited in 2015?

This is a hard one!  I enjoyed every place that we visited on our cruise, but I'm going to pick Grand Cayman.  Josh and I went scuba diving for the first time and it was amazing!  Both of us loved it and can't wait to go again!  We also had a great time just hanging out at Margaritaville and relaxing.

What are your favorite souvenirs or collectibles to buy?

 I buy a magnet from every place I go.  I started this in 2009 when I went to Costa Rica so unfortunately I have none from Europe.  I don't like "stuff" and clutter, so magnets are perfect for me because they can be displayed and not take up a ton of space.  They're also fairly cheap and I've never been to a place where I haven't been able to find one.

Which is your favorite cuisine?

 Honestly, any thing with fruit or anything sweet.  I definitely try my hardest to eat healthy but I have a total sweet tooth!  I ate the crap out of some gelato in Italy!  I also love pizza and spaghetti ... I should be Italian.

Do you have a favorite travel movie?

I love Eat Pray Love (who doesn't?) and as cheesy as this movie is, I loved Monte Carlo.  I also really loved P.S. I Love You; I know that's not a travel movie technically, but I love the scenes from Ireland!  When I was a kid I loved the Mary-Kate and Ashley movies (you did too, just admit it) and I still watch them on occasion and I'm not the least bit sorry about it.

Have you been to eastern Europe? If so, what did you think about it?

I have not been to Eastern Europe but the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland are at the top of my list of eastern European countries to visit. 

What's the strangest thing you've eaten?

I guess that depends on your definition of strange, so I'll list a few that I would consider strange.  Keep in mind that I am not adventurous when it comes to foods and all of these were tried before I became a vegetarian.  Alligator, frog legs, buffalo, snails, mussels, and squid. 

What was the least favorite place you've been?

I've never not liked a country in it's entirety but there have been a few cities that I wasn't crazy about.  I really wasn't nuts about Pisa.  After the initial awe about actually seeing the leaning tower in person, I was over it pretty fast.  There just wasn't much to do there.  I also wasn't a fan of Madrid.  However, I think this was a situational thing (nothing was going right and it was the end of the trip), and I'd love to go back and give Madrid another try.

Do you prefer the beach or the mountains?

Mountains!  10000% mountains.  I've always loved the mountains but I was mesmerized when I went to Colorado and saw the Rockies for the first time.  Also, part of my reasoning for picking JMU for college was because it was in a valley surrounded by mountains.  I even worked at a ski resort. 

 Do you have a favorite book?

Is this even a question!?!  I have quite a few favorites, I could never just pick one!  A few favorites are: Room, PS I Love You, Harry Potter, all of Khaled Hosseini's books, Winter Garden, Garden Spells, The Book Thief, Orphan Train, The Help, The Lost Wife, and The Secret Garden.  Check out my favorites shelf on GoodReads

What's the hardest thing about blogging?

For me, two of the hardest things about blogging are finding the time and being able to put what I want to say in the right words.   I work a lot of overtime (especially with Josh away) and I am exhausted when I get home and the last thing I want to do is write a post.  Once our trainees are fully trained hopefully this wont be too much of a problem anymore.  The other thing is that I have a million ideas for posts but have a hard time getting my thoughts down in writing, in a way that makes any kind of sense to anyone besides me.  I've even contemplated doing Vlogs but I really don't like myself on camera.

What's your favorite travel accessories?

A book.  I can travel without a lot of things or pick things up along the way, but I always have to have a book.  You never know when there is going to be down time, and I'd never survive a flight without a good book. 

And so it begins ...

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

On Tuesday the 5th, I went with Josh to Fort Meade to send Josh off to Army Basic Training.  As with the rest of our Army journey so far, nothing went as planned. 

He got to Fort Jackson for reception week and was supposed to ship to basic on Monday the 11th.  Of course, that didn't happen because they decided he needed a medical waiver for a scar on his wrist.  So he got held in reception - the waiver came the next day.  Then they said he may ship out by Friday the 15th.  Nope. 

They finally shipped out to basic today, thank goodness! I'm ready to get this whole thing over with so I can see him again!  Adding on an additional week has really made me unhappy.  Welcome to Army life, I guess?

Luckily he was able to have his phone for the week that he was stuck at reception and he was able to send me some photos :)  and I'll also post some from Fort Meade.

Would You Rather? Travel Edition.

Monday, January 18, 2016

I fee like all of my post lately have been book or reading related.  Probably because reading has been what I've mostly been doing lately.  When I saw this "Would You Rather" post pop up on a few of my favorite blogs, I knew I wanted to participate. 

Sleep in a comfy place with a clean bed but in a dodgy neighborhood OR sleep in a bad room (soft bed with springs popping out and skuzzy shared shower with cold water) in an excellent, 24/7 safe location?

I'm going to go with comfy in a dodgy neighborhood.  I don't need a fancy hotel but I do need a decent bed.  I'm a bear when I don't get a good night sleep.  I can deal with the bad neighborhood just while we're sleeping.  We wouldn't be spending that much time at the hotel anyway.

Take a whirlwind trip around Europe with a full itinerary OR spend three months soaking up all that Asia has to offer?

This is a hard one.  At first I thought I'd say Europe because there are more places that I want to see in Europe than in Asia.  However, I would rather take a longer time to really explore Europe rather than go really fast through a bunch of places.  There may not be a lot of places that I want to see in Asia but I can take my time through the spots I want to go to (Bali, Ha Long Bay, Angkor Wat, Boracay, Taipei, ect.).  So, I'm going to surprise myself and everyone who knows me and pick three months in Asia.

 A chauffeur that drives you to and from wherever you want in a vehicle of your choice OR a 5-star personal chef who prepares you every meal of the day?

 Award for the easiest question ever!  I would totally want the chef.  First, because I hate cooking and I am a horrible cook.  Second, because I have control issues and I would rather drive myself.  It's rare that I even let my husband drive me.  Bring on the awesome food!!

Stay in an all inclusive resort where you are waited on hand and foot but can’t leave the vicinity OR embark on a 10-day cruise where you are able to island hop?

Another easy one!  I'd totally pick the cruise.  I'm cool with the whole relaxing thing for about a day and then I'm ready to go do something fun!  Resorts are not my ideal vacation spot.  I would rather wake up somewhere new each day and find new fun things to do than sit by a pool all day.

Take a trip with your significant other to a big party city like Ibiza OR with your best friends to a romantic destination such as Maldives?

This one took some thought but I'm going to go with Maldives with my girls.  Josh and I aren't huge partiers and I'm honestly not sure we could enjoy ourselves in a party town.  We may be able to find some things to do, but if Josh and I are going to go somewhere I'd rather do something we'll enjoy.  I do know that my girls and I would have a great time in the Maldives.  We've already done multiple girls beach trips, so I know we'd find something fun to do - or make up something fun. 

Be stuck for a week on a mountaintop with an amazing view OR on a deserted island with a beautiful beach?

MOUNTAINS!  This isn't even a question.  I like the beach just fine, but if we never went to a beach again, I'd be fine with that, too.  I could not live without being in or seeing the mountains again.  I feel at home in the mountains which is why I loved living at JMU and why I want to live in Colorado one day!

Lose all of your money OR all of the picture you have ever taken?

Lets be honest, losing all of my money wouldn't be much anyway.  Plus you can always make more money, but once pictures are gone, they're gone forever.  So obviously I'd rather lose all of my money. 

Experience an epic waterslide OR an epic zip line?

Again, this is an easy one!  ZIP-LINE!!  I've gone in 4 different countries and have loved it every single time!  It's so much fun!  I like waterslides just fine, but zip-lines are so much better!  The photo below was taken in Jamaica.

Call one place home for the rest of your life OR move somewhere new every year?

I'm going to go with calling one place home.  I like moving to new places and experiencing new things but I HATE the act of moving (packing, unpacking, finding an apartment)! That is one part of military life I am not looking forward to.  So, as long as I'm still allowed to travel - I'm cool with finding a place we really love to settle down.

P.S. Check out Macy and Ashley's answers!!

Book Review: December 2015 (pt. 2)

Friday, January 15, 2016

Yesterday, I reviewed the first 5 books that I read in December 2015.  Today, I have reviews for the last four books I read in December.

I read this book and the one below as part of the SCWBC (same title, different author).  Someone else posted these books and they sounded better than any of the other combos that I had seen.  I'm glad I went with them because I loved this book.  It was so cute and quirky and out there that I just couldn't bring myself to put it down - really, I read it in 3 hours.  This is such a great feel-good Christmas story for the holidays and I'm so glad I read it. It's no masterpiece, but it's just the kind of lighthearted story I needed at the time.
I gave this book a 4/5 on my GoodReads.

 I'm a little undecided about this book.  It was an easy read and it was cute and all but it wasn't really my taste.  When I read a mystery I like a real mystery.  I know it was supposed to be this way but the bad guys were a bit to quirky and the whole story was a bit out there.  I feel like it was a bit childish and the bad guys weren't really that scary.  Maybe I'm a snob but this book just wasn't for me.
I gave this book a 2/5 on my GoodReads.

This book was just OK. Nothing spectacular happens and the characters were just OK to me.  It was enjoyable to read but not really all that exciting or anything.  I did like that the characters and the events of this book are very realistic, and I liked the recipes she added.  The book was fine but I wouldn't go out of my way to recommend it.
I gave this book a 3/5 on my GoodReads.

If you look back at the books I've read, you'll see that I am a fan of Sarah Addison Allen.  I love how she mixes real life with a bit of subtle magic. This book was no different and may have weaseled it's way up to second favorite (Gardens Spells will always win).  I loved this story, I loved the main characters, and I loved one of the characters "magics"!  I would highly recommend this book to anyone but especially those who like southern literature!
I gave this book a 4/5 on my GoodReads.

Book Reviews: December 2015 (pt1)

Thursday, January 14, 2016

As much as I want to keep reviewing books individually, I will never catch up on book reviews if I continue to do it that way.  So, since Victoria announced a book link-up, I figured this was the perfect time to reformat my reviews.  I am going to start with the books I read in December and work backwards from there.

Here are the first half of the books I read in December 2015. 

I have a love/hate relationship with Lauren Oliver's books.  The story was great, the overall plot was great, and I loved the characters.  However, sometimes I feel like her books drag out a bit.  This one wasn't as bad as some of them, but it did have parts that seemed a bit fluffy.  Overall, I did enjoy this book and I would recommend it, especially if you're a Lauren Oliver fan.
I gave this book a 3/5 on my GoodReads.

I read Call Me Mrs. Miracle as part of the Popsugar challenge as my book that is set during Christmas.  I had actually seen the movie on the Hallmark channel so I pretty much knew what to expect.  This book was cute, cheesy, and fluffy.  It wasn't fantastic or anything but it was cute and took no time at all to read.  All the characters are likable and it will definitely put you in a good mood. (The book is better but I do recommend the movie, as well).
I gave this book a 3/5 on my Goodreads.

Going in, I wasn't really sure what to expect of the Mara Dyer series.  I had read mixed reviews and honestly, the description on the cover is not helpful.  I have officially joined the side of the people who love this series!  It's mystery, magic, paranormal, and looney all in one, and the characters are fantastic.  I absolutely could not put this book down!  (I'm currently reading the third book and my opinion still holds).  I would recommend this book to anyone who likes a little bit of, I guess a psychological/paranormal thriller.
I gave this book a 4/5 on my GoodReads.

I read We'll Always Have Paris as part of the SCWBC.   Cute is the best word I can think of to describe this book. I loved reading about Jennifer exposing her daughter to travel rather than giving her too many material things.  I wasn't a big fan of the flashbacks to her childhood - I understand why she included them, but I just wanted to read about the travel.  As far as reading about the trips she and her daughter took, I really enjoyed it.  I would definitely recommend this to parents who love travel.
I gave this book a 4/5 on my GoodReads

The Boy Next Door is another book that I read for the SCWBC.  This book is written in e-mail format which I was fine with; it leaves a bit to the imagination but in the case of this book I feel like there wasn't a lot of sustenance to the plot. I've read other books in this format and I feel like this one maybe left a bit too much to the imagination.  It was a light and fluffy, cute, cliche book that was easy to read.  I enjoyed it but I don't think I'd go out of my way to recommend it.
I gave this book a 3/5 on my GoodReads.

Hayley Larue Design