November 29, 2013

The Friday Night Knitting Club {Series} by Kate Jacobs

Every knitter stitches with love, even when they're just starting, all red-faced and frustrated. Why else would we create? Especially in a world that doesn't need homemade anything. That's when we need homemade everything. It never matters if things don't end up just the way you planned. Every moment is a work in progress; every stitch is one stitch closer. There may be worse, but there's always better. When you wear something you've made with your own hands, you surround yourself with love, and all the love that came before you.
-from The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs
I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!! I want you to know that I am really, sincerely thankful that you're reading my blog. Whether it's your first time checking it out, or you're a faithful reader, thank you! I love to read and review, but it makes it a whole new and exciting experience to interact with other readers through blogging. At the end of this review is a special giveaway to express my gratitude!

I found Knit the Season around this time last year and planned on reading it but somehow the holidays interrupted my reading plans. It was actually a blessing in disguise because I learned it was the third book in a series and I wanted to read them all. When I found out my library had all three of these books on audio, it became the perfect thing to listen to while I knit and relaxed, immersing myself into the feeling of the holidays.

The Friday Night Knitting Club is the story of a group of eclectic women who meet up once a week at Walker and Daughter, a yarn shop in New York City. At the head of the group is Georgia Walker, single mother to twelve-year old Dakota, a strong and independent entrepreneur who became that way simply because she had to. Second in command, Anita Lowenstein, is Georgia's NYC mother-figure who gave her the loan to open her shop many years ago. Accompanying these women are a colorful cast of characters, including Peri, the law school drop out turned knit purse designer; Lucie, the quiet professional with a ticking biological clock; K.C., a no-nonsense professional looking to make a drastic career change; and Darwin, a feminist grad student who just wants to study the group for her thesis. Together these women meet once a week to help each other through the ups and downs of life. All of these novels read kind of like a soap opera with different relationships layered together and intertwined, following the lives of all the characters and their relationships with each other.

It may not sound glamorous to everyone, but the idea of a knitting club to me just makes me giddy! The idea of owning a yarn shop makes me melt! While I only loom knit, it was still incredible to listen to these women join together communally knitting together. This story was great to listen to while I knit and the narrator, Carrington MacDuffie, really brings the characters to life. I feel that reading the book might not have been as entertaining because there were so many characters to keep straight, but listening to the book was like a production and very easy to follow. Some of the storylines were predictable or too perfectly coincidental, but suspending my disbelief for a sweet story about female friendship was worth it in the end.

While any of these novels can be read as a stand alone, I recommend starting from the beginning to get a good feel for the characters and allow them to organically grow on you, especially your anticipated love for Georgia. It will also  help you keep all of the characters straight! The holiday edition is an extra special tribute, revisiting where the women have been and how far they have come in love and friendship.

Bottom Line: If you're looking for a light series about friendship and the strength of women, this is a must read! I especially recommend the audiobooks. I would probably rate these as 3.5 stars individually, but as a series I'm round up! 4/5 Stars

Do you want to get your hands on Knit the Season to put yourself in a festive holiday mood?! Well, you're in luck! I have 2 hardback copies that I want to give away as my Christmas gift to you PLUS a Knit Together by Love scarf! A great read for yourself or to give away to your closest girlfriend! :) All you have to do is leave me a comment telling me what you're most thankful for or how you're getting ready for the holidays! And a bonus entry if you follow The Book Barn on BlogLovin (or another blog reader)! TWO winners will be chosen next Thursday! 

Good luck and HAPPY HOLIDAYS! 

November 28, 2013

With a Grateful Heart

I'm grateful that this week my best friend (aka sister-from-another-[equally-douchey]-mister) gave birth to a beautiful, animated, healthy baby girl and I was able to be at the hospital when she came screaming into this crazy world.

I'm grateful that said best friend will tell me how birthing a child really is instead of, "Oh, it's not a big deal..." (you are passing an ideally 6 to 10lb human. It's a big freaking deal and I know it's painful, don't lie to me!).

I'm grateful for a job that I don't love because it's a solid job with solid people and a lot of flexibility.

I'm grateful that said job allowed for me to be at the hospital for said best friend's birthing, no matter when it occurred (ironically I still made it into work on Tuesday morning only 15 minutes late on 20 minutes of sleep from the waiting room. I'm grateful my job allowed for me go home at noon that day!).

I'm grateful that my mom went to the hospital with me in the middle of the night to wait for that beautiful baby girl. Even though we waited for a long-ass time. I'm grateful Mom didn't complain once, even though we were operating on 20-40 minutes of sleep on tiny chairs.

I'm grateful that my mom attempted to make me macarons last week because she knows they are my favorite, that I travel all over to find the best ones, that they're not cheap at bakeries, and that she thought they were as easy to whip up as chocolate chip cookies. They are not. (But Susie's Wackaroons were born).

I'm grateful for Tyler in so many ways, but namely this week that he came to the hospital, too. Both the day before and the day the baby was born. He's a great uncle already.

I'm grateful that I didn't fall asleep driving from the hospital to work during the most peak morning rush hour traffic, driving right through the heart of Los Angeles from top to bottom.

I'm grateful that there's still time before I have any babies. Ideally, a lot of time. That shit is crazy.

I'm grateful that the Catching Fire movie was so satisfying.

I'm grateful that I don't have a huge urge to Black Friday shop this year because I should be saving money anyway.

That said, I'm grateful that Target has a Nook on sale because I'm going to add to my e-reader collection.

I'm grateful that I'm not stressing as bad about planning a wedding or setting a date as I was a month ago.

I'm grateful that I kicked my Diet Coke addiction. 

I'm grateful for coffee, especially now that I've kicked my Diet Coke addiction.

I'm grateful for books.

I'm grateful for my newfound love of audiobooks. 

I'm grateful that I've found a creative outlet that involves reading through my book review blog.

I'm grateful that even though I haven't posted in far too long, you cared enough to read this far.

I'm grateful for my friends: old friends, new friends, blog friends, Instagram friends, online friends and everyone in between. 

I'm grateful for family.

I'm grateful for my car because it allows me to up and go when I need to get away.

I'm grateful that this weekend, said car is going to take me to a member of said family who lives out of state. That family member is cousin Wendy and if you've read this blog much, you know how excited I must be to spend a weekend with her.

I'm grateful that Wendy and I get a WHOLE WEEKEND together. Talking and fiber crafting and learning from each other and praying I don't get allergies from her cats and exploring the desert. I'm so jazzed, cats and all!

I'm grateful for Carson Daly and Perez Hilton's banter on the radio every morning as I drive to work. 

I'm grateful that Tyler has Christmas Eve off, even if he doesn't have many other holidays off. It's something and it's a big something.

I'm grateful that Homeland isn't sucking this season.

I'm grateful for my nieces and nephews and that nieces is now plural thanks to the baby mentioned at the beginning of this post.

I'm grateful for how long this list is because honestly, I haven't even scratched the surface.

I'm really grateful for too many things to count and I don't forget them, even though sometimes I get cranky. I hope you have an equally infinite number of things for which to be grateful this holiday season.

I'm sincerely grateful that you're reading this and hope you'll let me know what you're grateful for so I can celebrate your blessings with you! :)

Happy Thanksgiving!

November 25, 2013

Monday's Reading Recap

So did everyone see Catching Fire over the weekend? Did everyone love it as much as I did?! How about Thanksgiving? Are you ready for that? I'm just rolling with the punches, fortunately I don't have any major cooking to do. But one thing I do know: I'm super thankful that you're here reading my blog!! Thank you for your support, I love that we can connect through books! I wish everyone a very happy Thanksgiving!!

Last Week I Finished Reading Absolution by Karen McQuestion, Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (re-read) and You Better Not Cry by Augusten Burroughs. 

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This Week I'm Reading: I Run by E.L. Farris, Heartbreak Cake by Cindy Arora and If I Stay by Gayle Forman

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This Week I'm Sharing a Review For: The Friday Night Knitting Club Series by Kate Jacobs

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What are you reading this week? 

November 22, 2013

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Yes, my holding out the berries had been the spark, but I had no way to control the fire.

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I read The Hunger Games series before I had a book review blog, so I never wrote a formal review for any of the books while they were fresh in my mind. But this series, especially this book, affected me so much that I'm glad I had the opportunity to re-read it upon the release of the movie and share my review with you today (I literally finished this book an hour before we left to the midnight showing of the film, which is why this review is posting late today! P.S. I'm sleepy.).

The second book in Suzanne Collins' dystopian young adult series, Catching Fire takes place a few months after The Hunger Games ends, finding Katniss Everdeen back in District 12, this time living comfortably in The Victor's Village. Her relationship with fellow victor, Peeta Mellark, is strained at best and she's fighting feelings for her best friend Gale after he's kissed her, exposing something that's been building between them long before The Games. But choosing which boy with whom to invest her time is the least of this seventeen year-old girl's problems. When President Snow visits her and threatens the lives of everyone she loves if Katniss doesn't play along with the Capitol's agenda to sweep her act of defiance under the table, Katniss realizes that she'll be playing The Games her whole life and must decide if she's brave enough to stand up for the things she believes in.

When I began reading this book, I had no idea what to expect, but Collins delivered everything I could have anticipated and more. For one, I started this book completely Team Gale, but Collins did an excellent job of taking Katniss and Peeta and allowing them to organically grow together as friends and companions that I didn't know which guy to love more by the end of the book. Katniss, while obviously selfless in her decision to initially volunteer for her sister, has acquired a strong sense of survival which she tends to misconstrue (in my opinion) as selfishness. In comparison, Peeta is completely selfless, thinking only of Katniss, even when it means helping Gale. I love to see how Katniss grows by learning from Peeta. I think the only reason Katniss is ever identified as "selfish" (even if selfish means only thinking of her loved ones versus the whole country) is because this story is told from her point of view making her transparent; but I think she is better able to decipher her values because of her relationship with Peeta and his value system. This adds a new dynamic to their relationship and uncovers a lot of who Peeta is (and why we love him! ;)).

But as I mentioned in my synopsis, Katniss' boy dilemma is the least of her problems. Her struggle with her value system is what brings this supernatural story down to a human level. The inconceivable is processed by a teenage girl like a teenage girl. I hate complaints that Katniss is too whiny, too insensitive to everyone's feelings, too pre-occupied with herself; if I were in her shoes I would have eaten the berries on day one of the 74th Hunger Games! I think she's allowed to struggle and her struggle uncovers her heart and her drive.

To keep my book review blog spoiler-free (as is always my goal), I have to refrain from discussing some of my favorite parts of this book, especially regarding Katniss and Peeta's public relationship and the premise of the Quarter Quell. In short, I loved the way this book had so many powerful little punches that kept me on my toes and at the edge of my seat. The pacing is incredible, especially coupled with how much emotion is compacted into each forward-moving segment. There are so many details I had forgotten about in the 2 years since I first read Catching Fire, and I'm so glad I was able to refresh my brain before seeing the movie.

Speaking of the movie, like the book it was everything I expected and more! I think the Catching Fire movie is so much better than The Hunger Games, especially because it didn't try to be artsy (i.e. shaky cameras and super close ups!! Who else HATED that?!). It put out the story (cutting most of what I expected) but it didn't change much. My only complaint is that, similar to the first movie, Katniss and Peeta's relationship didn't translate to the screen as well as I had hoped for. I guess what can I expect in such a short time frame, but that was my only disappointment nonetheless. I mean, I didn't even believe they were romantic, why would the Panem public? They did make Peeta so much more of an alpha-male than he is in the book, which I loved!! Sometimes I question Josh Hutcherson as Peeta when I see him in the media, but then when I'm watching the movie I just love him. Also, bonus fact about the movie: I noticed in the credits that a guy my mom used to date before she was married was in the stunts! HOW COOL, RIGHT?! I am trying to convince my mom to get back in touch with him muahaha! ;)

Bottom Line: This series changed my reading life and if you haven't read it, my biggest recommendation on this blog is that you read it NOW. And then go see the movie! If you need a refresh before the movie, I highly suggest taking the time to re-read it because I think you'll appreciate the movie even more! 10 out of 5 stars lol.

Did you love Catching Fire as much as I did? What was your favorite book in The Hunger Games Trilogy? Did you or will you go see the movie this weekend?

November 19, 2013

Top Ten Books I'd Recommend to My Children

The possibilities were seemingly endless for this prompt: Top Ten Books You Recommend to X. But I'm always finding books and thinking, "I want my kids to read this. I think it's important"--for any number of reasons depending on the book. Here are 10 books I'd love for my children to read when age appropriate.


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I Love You, Stinky Face by Lisa McCourt - By far, my favorite children's book. I mean, I know there are countless classics, but this one just makes me melt. My niece and nephews love it, so hopefully my future little ones will, too!

Elementary School

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Charlotte's Web by E.B. White - A classic that I explicated in college and led me to change my major to English. A great story about friendship and teamwork, not to mention the implications of spiritual relationships and breaking free of expectations. This goes without saying for most of these books, but I hope my kids read the book before watching the movie.

The Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis - Another classic with a lot of great lessons and spiritual implications. I love teaching through entertainment and I know this series had a big impact on me when I was little.

The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling - I will be so sad if my kids don't like Harry Potter! Too many great things to list, but if you're reading a book review blog I think you already know why this made the list!

Middle School

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The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank and Upon the Head of a Goat by Aranka Siegal - One of the biggest ways I learned to think outside my self is through learning about the Holocaust. The best way for me to learn about this horrific piece of history, to this day, is through children's literature because of the way it delicately handles the subject. Both of these are first hand accounts of young girls and their different experiences and I think they are must reads for any kids middle school and up.

Wild Grace by Max Lucado - A great non-fiction book about God's grace that isn't too cheesy or serious. It's fun and doesn't speak down to kids. I think it's a great book to use to help instill faith in kids and generate conversations about spirituality.

High School

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Graceling (and companion novels) by Kristin Cashore - Let's face it, high school is when reading starts to become a chore. There are a zillion better things to do when your hormones are racing and the peer pressure is at its peak. But Graceling is sure to capture the attention of high schoolers with its fantasy world, action and romance. It's a perfect blend for any reader and there are great lessons about identity along the way.

The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins - Another attention-grabber, I think this book is important for high schoolers to read because of the lessons of right versus wrong, doing what's best for society, and being selfless with your talents. Most of all it teaches readers to be brave, which is something we could all learn in high school!

Anna and the French Kiss (and companion novels) by Stephanie Perkins - Obviously I won't push this on any of my sons, but this is a must read for any teenaged girl. With lessons of identity, realistically blurring the lines of right-and-wrong, and teaching readers to step outside their comfort zone, I really wish I had this book when I was 16.

I could probably really come up with 50 books I want my kids to read, but these make up the general consensus. If you have or plan to have kids, what books do you want them to read?

November 18, 2013

Monday's Reading Recap

I did it! I met my goal of reading 50 books this year! Ever since I began blogging about books I've made 50 books a standard goal for myself. Ultimately I want my goal to be to read more books this year than the previous year, but I'm sure eventually I'll max out on such an aspiration. Regardless, I increased my 2013 goal to 55 books this year since I have 6 weeks left and I think I can manage!

Did you make any reading related goals for 2013? What were they and did you meet them? Did you change them as the year progressed?

Last Week I Finished Reading Knit Two and Knit the Season by Kate Jacobs (audio books)
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This Week I'm Reading: Absolution by Karen McQuestion, Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (re-read) and I'll probably begin another audio book TBD. 

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This Week I'm Sharing a Review For: I'm still not sure! It will either be for Absolution or Wedding Feng Shui! Any preferences? ;)

What are you reading this week? 

November 15, 2013

Allegiant by Veronica Roth

I needed that word to tell me who I was when everything else was coming apart around me. But now I'm wondering if I need it anymore, if we ever really need these words, "Dauntless," "Erudite," "Divergent," "Allegiant," or if we can just be friends or lovers or siblings, defined instead by the choices we make and the love and loyalty that binds us.
-from Allegiant by Veronica Roth

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I think many people would agree that Allegiant has been the most anticipated YA release of 2013. The third and final installment of Veronica Roth's Divergent series picks up right where Insurgent left off: Tris Prior learns that her world of factions is just a small ecosystem in a much larger world, created to help defend the outside world with Divergent. With Evelyn Johnson abolishing factions and running the city like a tyrant, Tris and Tobias head outside the city limits to discover the world beyond.

I  have incredibly mixed feelings about Allegiant, but at the end of the day I enjoyed it, especially because of the ending which I will not spoil for you. Unfortunately the book started with a bad taste in my mouth because of all these Four novellas Roth is releasing to lead up to the Divergent movie release. I enjoyed Free Four to get me through the wait between books, but a whole series of Four novellas just to pump the movie? I think the series does better without them and all I see them as is a ploy for more money. It's money, I get it. But overall I think it chips away at the credibility of the Divergent trilogy and franchise. I find it's insulting to loyal readers, especially considering it would have made more sense to appease us in between the actual books. I think I would have been more receptive if it was one book from Four's perspective instead of four cheap teasers. I read The Transfer right before I read Allegiant, and, even though it was a sound novella, it left a bad taste in my mouth because of all the reasons above. I didn't trust Roth as an author anymore because now I feel she's just in it for the money. Not the best way to begin a new book!

Overall this novel seemed very aimless to me. I never felt like there was a distinct arc that I could follow and consequently found it difficult to gauge how far along with the book I had read. I suppose I could give Roth the benefit of the doubt that she wants the reader to feel as aimless as Tris, but given my previous rant, I was too disheartened to believe this. If not for the great ending, I would have been extremely disappointed in the book overall.

Another difficult part of this book to reconcile is the extreme change in scenery, which reminded me of Suzanne Collins' Mockingjay. The change of primary setting from the first two books took me out of my comfort zone as a reader. I never realize how a constant setting plays such an integral role in a series until it's taken away and the new setting takes some adjustment. This isn't a criticism of the writing because I understand it was necessary, but it might have played into why I felt this book was so aimless.

At the end of the day, though, Roth is still an incredible writer and she can't go wrong with the cast of characters she has created. The themes of identity and being capable of creating ones own future are strong in this book and there are a lot of important lessons Tris and Tobias learn together. I could go on about various parts of this book, but I don't want to imply any spoilers. Despite my complaints, I still enjoyed every ounce of Tris' adventure, especially her evolving ideas of right and wrong. She remains one of my favorite female protagonists and a reason why I'll always recommend this series to other readers.

Bottom Line: My feelings are so mixed, but overall I recommend this book and series, especially if you've already invested the time in the first two books in the series. 3.5/5 stars, but I'm rounding up for the ending.

November 11, 2013

Monday's Reading Recap

I may not have researched this enough, but is there no way to document re-reads on Goodreads other than altering the original reading dates? I re-"read" (via audiobook) Veronica Roth's Insurgent to refresh myself for Allegiant, but since I actually had read it earlier this year, I couldn't mark it on Goodreads twice. I guess it makes sense because who reads a book twice in one year? But I'm just curious if anyone has a solution to this. I plan on re-reading a lot of books next year and may just have to alter when I read them; I just hope it doesn't change my reading totals for previous years.

Wow, may all my problems in life be so small, right?! ;)

P.S. I'm so excited Absolution, the third book in Karen McQuestion's Edgewood series, came out last week!! I'm sneaking it in between Allegiant and my Catching Fire re-read making for an adventurous November! :)

Last Week I Finished ReadingThe Transfer and Allegiant by Veronica Roth and The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs (via audio book). 

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This Week I'm Reading: Absolution by Karen McQuestion, Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (re-read) and Knit Two by Kate Jacobs (audio book)

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This Week I'm Sharing a Review For: Allegiant by Veronica Roth

What are you reading this week? 

November 8, 2013

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

I liked Augustus Waters. I really, really, really liked him. I liked the way his story ended with someone else. I liked his voice, I liked that he took existentially fraught free throws. I liked that he was a tenured professor in the Department of Slightly Crooked Smiles with a dual appointment in the Department of Having a Voice That Made My Skin Feel More Like Skin. And I liked that he had two names, because you get to make up your mind what you call them: Gus or Augustus? Me, I was always just Hazel, univalent Hazel.
-from The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

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One of the best things that has happened to me since plugging into the book review blogging world is that I have been exposed to books and authors outside of the rock from under which I've been living. Case in point: John Green. Obviously I've seen his books around for years, but why I had never actually read one is beyond me. After reading The Fault in Our Stars, I plan on reading much more John Green in the future.

In this witty and emotionally insightful novel, 16-year old Hazel maneuvers through life with terminal cancer (and her ever-present oxygen tank). Keeping her social circle small so that her anticipated passing doesn't affect any more people than necessary, Hazel's world changes when she meets Augustus at a cancer support meeting. Though Augustus is in remission, their mutual experience living with cancer catalyzes their relationship and injects more life into the both of them than any medication can. Written with an emotional poignancy that few contemporary novels have come close to replicating on this subject, John Green's The Fault in Our Stars has more life in its pages than its subject matter may imply. 

There are many topics in literature that I wouldn't recommend an author tackle without sincere writing talent and acute caution; one, of course, is cancer. There are far too many sensitivities associated with this painful disease to gamble with writing something trite or insincere. All that said, I'm so pleased that John Green was successful in crafting a novel that handles the topic of cancer with the love, care and expertise it deserves and honors those affected by cancer in such a beautiful and honest way.

There are very little ways in which Hazel resembles a healthy teenager: she is extra sensitive to her interactions with her parents who she is well-aware will be left childless once she passes; she is no longer able to attend normal high school; even her appearance is unable to be masked as she is forced to tote around an oxygen tank and be subjected to stares. But despite her cancer-related trials, Green still presents a 16-year old girl who can become frustrated with her parents, who marathons America's Next Top Model, and who is expertly capable of falling for a cute boy.

Hazel and Augustus are both especially memorable characters because of their insight into life far advanced for their ages, most powerfully their selflessness. Instead of embarking on a romance with a boy who likes her, Hazel distances herself from Augustus because she doesn't want to hurt him when she passes away. While flirting via text she says, "I pictured him at my funeral, and that helped me text properly." Images such as these really helped me as a reader, who has virtually been unaffected by cancer, get straight into Hazel's mindset, anticipating the end of her short life at any time. Augustus especially struggles with leaving a mark on the world, a task highlighted by the ticking clock of cancer. The idea of leaving a mark on the world is universal; however, viewed amongst the backdrop of cancer, the mortality of every person is brought more clearly into view.

On the other end of the spectrum, John Green's writing is also hilarious and poignant that it makes up for the amount of tears you may cry while reading. One of my favorite lines in the novel is, "What a slut time is. She screws everybody". Similarly, Augustus beautifully tells Hazel, "You are so busy being you that you have no idea how utterly unprecedented you are." Without Green's emotionally affecting writing, I think this novel would have fallen flat; however, it's his carefully crafted words that allow readers to identify so strongly with Hazel and Augustus, no matter where they are or have been in relation to cancer.

Bottom Line: A must read for anybody, just keep a box of tissues nearby! 5/5 Stars.

P.S. I can't wait for the movie next year!!

November 1, 2013

Saltwater Kisses by Krista Lakes

His mouth covered mine, his lips soft and wet with the ocean. The salt water flavored his kisses, giving him a new taste that I could never hope to get enough of. I licked my lips, tasting his salt water kisses. This is what heaven was like. 
-from Saltwater Kisses by Krista Lakes

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{buy here}

I borrowed this book for free from the Kindle Lending Library through Amazon and I will admit that I chose it 100% based on the beautiful cover. With summer long over, this book looked like just the treat to end the season on a sweet note, even if the book was as predictable as the synopsis made it sound. 

Saltwater Kisses is the story of Emma LaRue, a fairly bland Iowa veterinary technician who never gets any special kind of luck in her life; that is, until she wins an all-expenses paid trip to an all-inclusive tropical resort. When her sister gets sick last minute, Emma must embark on this vacation alone. That is, until she meets Jack on the first day of her trip. Emma knows Jack is out of her league, but what she doesn't know is that he's America's most eligible billionaire bachelor and this is his last vacation before he inherits his father's company. When the vacation ends, Emma and Jack must figure out if it was just a whirlwind vacation romance or if they can fit each other into their different lives. 

There was nothing particularly life changing about this book, but it was definitely a sweet, easy read absolutely perfect for a day on the beach. Contemporary romances such as this are a dime a dozen; however, what did make this one slightly more impressive is that I didn't realize it was going to be such a Cinderella story until about halfway through. I assumed that the tropical island setting would be maintained throughout, but this book did take on multiple settings which was refreshing as the story progressed. The change in setting showed different sides to the characters that I wasn't expecting.

For the most part I enjoyed the characters, and while Emma irritated me at times, she was genuine but flawed enough that she didn't annoy me as much as some other female protagonists in this genre (that wasn't meant to sound like a left-handed compliment!). There was nothing spectacular about Emma or Jack's characterization, but they were likable enough that I wanted them both to ultimately get what they wanted. I enjoyed the supporting characters, but I would have liked to see more of Jack's parents and get to know their motivations and personalities more.

The most frustrating part of this book is the dialogue, namely how contractions are rarely used (or at least their usage comes in fleeting waves). For example, at one point while casually talking to Emma, Jack explains, "I am their oldest child, so it was made pretty clear that I would someday take over the company." The first part sounds awkward spoken aloud; maybe it wouldn't have if that was the only instance, but such dialogue is very prevalent and the characters sounded like robots. Similarly, there were some inconsistencies I found that irked me (although mentioning the one I can think of right now would potentially spoil you). I know that I'm kind of crazy when it comes to dialogue and details, but finding so many issues makes me think, "Oh, this is a self-published book, isn't it?" and I HATE thinking that way. I feel like there is a wealth of self-published books out there (and I'm not discounting this one from that group), but simple editing and proofreading makes a huge impact on OCD readers like me.

Bottom Line: A beautiful beach read (especially if you're on a tropical vacation alone!), I recommend this if you want to read something light, airy and emotional. Cute story that won't make you think to hard, which I think we all need a little bit sometime! 3/5 Stars.