Thursday, May 28, 2015

Review: Point of Retreat by Colleen Hoover

Point of Retreat (Slammed, #2)

This is the second book in the Slammed series by Colleen Hoover.  If you haven't read Slammed, you REALLY need to read it prior to reading Point of Retreat.

Will and Lake's relationship is as solid as ever until Lake discovers his ex-girlfriend is in one of his classes and he failed to mention it.  Will wants absolutely nothing to do with his ex, but Lake begins to question their relationship.

We were introduced to a few new characters in this book.  Kiersten is a neighbor girl who becomes friends with Will and Lake's younger brothers, Caulder and Kel.  She has to be the most brilliant 11 year old I have ever met.  She is very blunt and gives some of the best advice I have heard in years.  Kiersten's mother, Sherry, is a great support system for Will and slowly becomes the mother figure Will and Lake have been missing since last September.

Eddie and Gavin, Will and Lake's best friends, have a large role in this story as well.  They have their own relationship issues to work through, but the four best friends stick together through good times and bad.  

After reading these books, I'm fascinated with this performing art form and plan on attending a slam in downtown Columbus next month.  I just hope it will live up to my expectations.  I loved all of the slams in this book, which were performed by several different characters.  We have come to expect exceptional slams from Will, but Colleen surprised us with a couple of additional performances I never would have anticipated.

Will and Lake have experienced more heartache in their short lives than anyone should have to endure in a lifetime.  I sincerely hope the third and final book in this series will start their lives off on a roller coaster ride that is only going steal a quote from Augustus Waters. 

This is an exceptional series that I would recommend to any YA/NA fan.  If for no other butterflying reason, you should read this book to discover the significance of the word butterfly.  While the new definition was humorous in certain situations, it becomes very significant by the end of this novel.  

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Review: All Fall Down by Ally Carter

All Fall Down (Embassy Row, #1)

All Fall Down is the first book in Ally Carter's new Embassy Row series.  We are introduced to Grace, who is the sixteen year old granddaughter of the U.S. Ambassador to Adria.  At the age of thirteen she witnessed her mother's murder and now she is determined to find the killer.  Her family insists it was an accident.  They want her to move on and take over the responsibilities of the lady of the house...A.K.A. that her grandmother and mother are no longer around.

While attending a formal event at the palace with her grandfather, Grace is positive she spots her mother's killer.  Her friends, several teens from some of the other embassies, volunteer to help with the investigation.  She needs to prove the "scarred man" killed her mother and stop him from killing again.

I loved seeing how all of the teens used their unique abilities and skills to work together regardless of their nationality.  Megan is a genius who can hack into just about any computer system.  Rosie is a former gymnast who is great on her feet and can tail just about anyone without being detected.  Noah has not only the resources of one embassy, but two.  His Mom is the ambassador for Israel and his father is the ambassador from Brazil.

By the end of the book we discover that appearances are often deceiving.  I don't want to give away any spoilers, but there was a surprise revelation at the end of the book that sets up an entirely new angle for the series.  I can see this turning into the next Gallagher Girls/ spy series with global issues at stake.  While the Russians and Americans may still walk a fine line politically, the children and grandchildren within their embassies see no problem in working together to protect their loved ones.

Ally is off to another great start with this series and I look forward to reading the next Embassy Row novel.  I just hope she will continue to write some additional Heist Society novels as well.  I love Kat and Hale and don't want to see their story end any time soon.  Perhaps they could even make an appearance on Embassy Row someday!  Hint...Hint... That would be an exciting twist for your fans, Ally.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Review: Sweet by Tammara Webber

Sweet (Contours of the Heart, #3)

I would like to thank Tammara for providing a review copy of Sweet in exchange for an honest review.  I have been a fan of hers since I had the pleasure of reading Easy a few years ago.  I have recommended her books to countless friends, but I should warn the younger readers that this is a New Adult series.  There is adult language and content that is not appropriate for all ages.

Sweet is the third book in the Contours of the Heart series, but each book can be enjoyed separately.  They are all stand-alone novels focusing on a different character.  For those of you who have read Easy and Breakable, Lucas and Jacqueline do make an appearance in this book, but it is very brief.  This is by no means a continuation of their story.

Tammara changed things up a little with this book and used dual narrative instead of just one character's point of view.  Boyce Wynn is Lucas's best friend from high school.  At the age of seven he saved the life of a younger girl who was drowning.  That girl was Pearl Frank, the step-daughter of a local surgeon.  He has been in love with her since the day he pulled her out of the ocean, but he never felt like he was good enough for her.  He grew up with an abusive father who owns the local auto repair shop.

Pearl has been attracted to Boyce since she awoke from her near death.  She went on to become her class valedictorian and was accepted into several medical schools, but she decides to return to her hometown to pursue a graduate degree in marine biology.  Boyce and Pearl have been close friends over the years, but neither of them believed the other was interested in a relationship.  They suppressed their feelings for over a decade, but unforeseen circumstances finally bring them together in this novel.

There are several flashbacks that provide the history of their individual lives as well as their relationship from the time of the accident.  Boyce comes off as a little rough around the edges compared to Lucas, who is personally more my style.  He didn't always make the best choices as a child/teen, but he has come a long way since then.  He is a very hard worker and is motivated to overcome his past.  

Tammara wove a couple of twists into the story that I never would have anticipated.  Both situations added a considerable amount of drama and even danger to what I thought was going to be a "sweet" love story.  I enjoyed seeing these characters grow throughout the book and I felt like the ending was perfect.  I just wish would could have had a little bit more of Lucas ;)

Monday, May 4, 2015

Marathon Monday: Capital City Half Marathon 2015

The Capital City Half Marathon was held this past Saturday May 2, 2015.  I couldn't have asked for a better day for my second half marathon.  When I arrived in downtown Columbus a little before 7:00 A.M. it was already 50 degrees and the sun was starting to come up.  The temperature during the race was in the 50's to mid 60's while I was on the course, which is perfect running weather for me.

The Columbus Blue Jackets national anthem singer, Leo Welsh, was at the starting line with the team's mascot, Stinger, to sing the anthem and send off the runners.

There were over 14,000 runners in the half marathon, quarter marathon, and the 5k combined.  Here is a picture from the start of the race that was shared on the Cap City Marathon's FB page.

Since I was coming off a foot injury I wasn't expecting a personal record for this race.  I simply wanted to finish in under 2 hours and 15 minutes while allowing myself to enjoy the race and event festivities. 

Time: 2:12:19
Overall Place: 3640 out of 7698
Female Place: 1602 out of 4468
Females 35 - 39: 264 out of 730

Here is a picture of Preston and I after the race with my finisher's medal.  He spends a lot of time riding his bike or scooter with me during my training runs, so it is only fitting that he gets an honorable mention on race day.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Movie Review: Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist

Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist is based upon the book written by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan.  If you have read the book, you are aware that they made A LOT of changes to the story when adapting it to the big screen.

To me, the book focused more on Nick and Norah's developing relationship.  We could hear their inner dialog as they worked through their feelings about their exes and began to realize there could be a future for the two of them.  The secondary characters were just that...SECONDARY.  The movie version gave their exes and friends a much larger part.

I found Nick's band mates to be very amusing in both the book and movie, but Norah's friend Caroline was beyond annoying in the movie.  Yes...she did get drunk at the beginning of the book and need a ride home, but that is pretty much where her story ended.  The movie drug her drunken antics out from start to finish.  It was funny once, but by the end I was over it.

I thought they did a great job on the casting with the exception of Norah's ex, Tal.  He came off as a total creeper to me.  He was a player in the book, but once again the issue could be the fact that he kept reappearing in the movie.  In the book, it was pretty much one scene and we were done with him.

Here is a link to the trailer.

Overall, I thought the movie was okay.  They used a lot of the dialog from the book, which I enjoyed, but I wish they could have kept the movie a little closer to Cohn and Levithan's version of the story.