Happenstance #2

Happenstance #2Title: Happenstance #2
Author: Jamie McGuire
Series: Happenstance #2
Also in this series: Happenstance, Happenstance #3
Genre(s): Contemporary Fiction, Love & Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 182
Published by Jamie McGuire LLC on 2014-09-7
ISBN: 978-1500852047
ASIN: B00NEOE1G8
Format: eBook
Source: personal purchase

FTC Disclosure: Regardless of how I received this book, this is an honest review based on my own opinions. Read my full disclosure here.

 
| Amazon | Kobo |
| Goodreads | BookLikes | Shelfari | LibraryThing |

divider

From the back cover...

Erin Easter was now Erin Alderman, because Erin Alderman was dead.

In the second installment of this USA Today bestselling series, follow protagonist Erin, a high school senior in tiny Blackwell, Oklahoma. After a terrible accident leaves two classmates dead, Erin learns that she was switched at birth. Shortly after, she moves into the home of her true parents, Sam and Julianne Alderman, transforming Erin over night from pariah of Blackwell High School, to the only child of one of the most affluent couples in town.

Also being pursued by her childhood crush, Weston Gates, the dream she once had is now reality. But when Erin stumbles upon secrets that gives her the answers she’s been searching for, she also finds a truth she never wanted to know.

My Review

The second Happenstance novella starts soon after the first one begins.  Erin’s life has turned upside down and this installment focuses on her new life and relationships wirh her parents.

Suddenly she is surrounded by love and affection, something she has never known before.  At times, it felt a little forced and that acceptance came too quickly, but in retrospect, it seems right.  It was an unusual circumstance, with everyone trying to do the right thing and not overstep.  And for Erin, it was a strange place to find herself after a lifetime of essentially raising herself.

In the first novella, Weston wasn’t always my favorite character.  As much as I understood him, I wanted him to be a little more upfront in his support of Erin.  No, she didn’t need a hero, but it seemed as if Weston wasn’t always as strong as he should be, even for himself.  But now that Erin’s truths have been revealed, it was somehow easier for him to be open about how he felt and to be more openly supportive of her and I am not sure I loved the social implications of that easier acceptance.  But the reality is, he had secrets, too.

And those secrets began to surface, shattering Erin’s tenuous hold on trust.  She learned the reasons behind the Erin’s suidden switch to mean girl bullying, and Weston’s part in that.  Initially, this definitely did not endear me to Weston, no matter how much I realized it was not something he wanted, but as the story unfolded and explanations were given, I came around!

Weirdly, I was happy that the bullying didn’t entirely stop.  If it had, the message would have been that money was all that mattered in social acceptance.  But her newfound familial wealth didn’t change the opinions of those who had bullied her entire life.  Instead, they saw her as a usurper, trying to take the place of someone she would never be.  But what these people didn’t realize is that she never wanted to be anyone other than who she was and that money was immaterial to her.  In many ways, she felt more comfortable without it.

The only thing that I felt uneasy about, in this novella and the last, was the lack of contact/connection with Gina, the woman who raised Erin.  I realize that Erin’s life with her was largely unpleasant, but I felt like there was a level of compassion that was lacking.  When things changed for Erin, they changed irrevocably for Gna, too.  She lost a daughter, too.

My Recommendation

I love these stories!  They tackle hard issues and do so realistically.  I love that things don’t fall into place too easily, but that there are obstacles and periods of adjustment.

Rating Report
Plot
Characters
Writing
Pacing
Cover
Overall: 4

About Jamie McGuire

Jamie McGuire was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She attended Northern Oklahoma College, the University of Central Oklahoma, and Autry Technology Center where she graduated with a degree in Radiography.

Jamie paved the way for the New Adult genre with the international bestseller Beautiful Disaster. Her follow-up novel, Walking Disaster, debuted at #1 on the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestseller lists. Beautiful Oblivion, book one of the Maddox Brothers books, also topped the New York Times bestseller list, debuting at #1.

Novels also written by Jamie McGuire include: apocalyptic thriller, Red Hill; the Providence series, a young adult paranormal romance trilogy; Apolonia, a dark sci-fi romance; and several novellas, including A Beautiful Wedding, Among Monsters: A Red Hill Novella, and Happenstance: A Novella Series.

Jamie lives on a ranch just outside of Enid, Oklahoma with her husband, Jeff, and their three children. They share their thirty acres with cattle, six horses, three dogs, and a cat named Rooster.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

Share this:

Happenstance #1

Happenstance #1Title: Happenstance
Author: Jamie McGuire
Series: Happenstance #1
Also in this series: Happenstance #2, Happenstance #3
Genre(s): Contemporary Fiction, Love & Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 100
Published by Jamie McGuire LLC on 2014-05-9
ISBN: 978-1505357608
ASIN: B00JOPR0ZK
Format: eBook
Source: personal purchase

FTC Disclosure: Regardless of how I received this book, this is an honest review based on my own opinions. Read my full disclosure here.

 
| Amazon | Kobo |
| Goodreads | BookLikes | Shelfari | LibraryThing |

divider

From the back cover...

Erin Easter, one of three Erins in the small senior class of rural Blackwell High School who not only share a first name, but also their birthday. Erin Easter, raised by a neglectful single mom, keeps to herself and admires Weston Gates from afar. The other Erins, Erin A. and Erin M. are the darlings of the community: daughters of the two wealthiest families in town, best friends, cheerleaders, and everything Erin Easter isn't--and they never let her forget it. Erin A. has even claimed Weston since the 8th grade.

Weston is a well-liked star athlete, and the son of two prominent attorneys. He struggles daily with the pressures of living up to his family name and secretly empathizes with Erin Easter's feeling that she belongs somewhere else; in a different life. Not until he begins sneaking nights out with Erin does he gain the courage to buck expectations and acknowledge his feelings ... both for his future, and for her.

But when a shocking tragedy rocks the tiny town, Erin's life is turned upside down in the best way possible. But when the truth is revealed and everything Erin thinks she wanted falls into her lap, life only becomes more complicated.

My Review

Happenstance is a story of love, of betrayal, of mean girls, of secrets, and of finding your place in the world.

Erin Easter has spent her life on the outside of the social scene, more frequently the target of neverending bullying.  She is one of three Erin’s in her small senior class, the other two best friends and mean girls who tend to spearhead the bullying.  Once the three were close, but something happened to change all that.  Her loneliness was heart-wrenching, but somehow through it all, she remained strong and brave.  Her life at home with an addict mother had made her wiser than her years, and given her a life of responsibility, as well as yet another reason for her classmates to bully her.  She spent most of her life just trying to keep her head down and unnoticed, just trying to survive until she could escape and make a new life for herself.

Weston is the epitome of the YA hero… popular, gorgeous, and athletic.  But he is also a nice guy at heart, even if a little too influenced by his peers.  His girlfriend just happens to be one of the mean girl Erins.  I wanted him to be Erin’s hero from the very beginning, but it was slow in coming, which I suppose is a more realistic portrayal of that kind of situation.  To stand up against your friends for someone who is so socially removed can be hard and it takes courage that many teens just don’t have for fear of that bullying coming back on them.

But what I loved most about Happenstance is that Erin didn’t need a hero.  She didn’t need a knight in shining armor to swoop in and save the day.  She wasn’t making any big stands for herself against those bullying her, but she was surviving.  She had a goal that motivated her… to go to college and to escape.  If anything, it is Weston who needs saving.  Erin is teaching him how important it is to be strong for yourself, to have the strength to be who you want to be.

While this is a book about transformation and acceptance, there is a twist.  And that twist throws everything into turmoil and changes not just Erin’s life, but those around her, too.  It makes for an interesting setup for the rest of the series.

My Recommendation

This is a book with some heavy subject matter and powerdful messages about strength and character and standing up for what is right.  It is a beautiful story with a lot of promise.

Rating Report
Plot
Characters
Writing
Pacing
Cover
Overall: 4.2

About Jamie McGuire

Jamie McGuire was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She attended Northern Oklahoma College, the University of Central Oklahoma, and Autry Technology Center where she graduated with a degree in Radiography.

Jamie paved the way for the New Adult genre with the international bestseller Beautiful Disaster. Her follow-up novel, Walking Disaster, debuted at #1 on the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestseller lists. Beautiful Oblivion, book one of the Maddox Brothers books, also topped the New York Times bestseller list, debuting at #1.

Novels also written by Jamie McGuire include: apocalyptic thriller, Red Hill; the Providence series, a young adult paranormal romance trilogy; Apolonia, a dark sci-fi romance; and several novellas, including A Beautiful Wedding, Among Monsters: A Red Hill Novella, and Happenstance: A Novella Series.

Jamie lives on a ranch just outside of Enid, Oklahoma with her husband, Jeff, and their three children. They share their thirty acres with cattle, six horses, three dogs, and a cat named Rooster.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

Share this:

Where She Went

Where She WentTitle: Where She Went
Author: Gayle Forman
Series: If I Stay #2
Also in this series: If I Stay
Genre(s): Contemporary Fiction, Love & Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 306
Published by Speak on 2011-04-05
ISBN: 978-0142420898
ASIN: B004H4XDBI
Format: eBook
Source: personal purchase

FTC Disclosure: Regardless of how I received this book, this is an honest review based on my own opinions. Read my full disclosure here.

 
| Amazon | B&N | Kobo |
| Goodreads | BookLikes | Shelfari | LibraryThing |
divider

From the back cover

It's been three years since the devastating accident . . . three years since Mia walked out of Adam's life forever.

Now living on opposite coasts, Mia is Juilliard's rising star and Adam is LA tabloid fodder, thanks to his new rock star status and celebrity girlfriend. When Adam gets stuck in New York by himself, chance brings the couple together again, for one last night. As they explore the city that has become Mia's home, Adam and Mia revisit the past and open their hearts to the future - and each other.

Told from Adam's point of view in the spare, lyrical prose that defined If I Stay, Where She Went explores the devastation of grief, the promise of new hope, and the flame of rekindled romance.
.

My Review

Where She Went is the second book in the If I Stay series and my favorite of the two.  It was just as emotional as the first and even more intense.  Despite the theme of death in If I Stay, there is something much darker about most of the second novel.

Where She Went is told from the point of view of Adam and begins a few years after If I Stay ends.  Mia and Adam have gone in totally different directions, living totally different and totally separate lives.  From the very beginning of the novel, it is clear that Adam hasn’t moved on very well.  His personal and professional lives are suffering and he can’t seem to get it together.  Even his band mates, once his best friends, have been alienated by him and he doesn’t know what to do to change anything.  He is alone and lonely and suffering.

This is a story about the effect that grief has on people.  Mia lost her family, a family that meant almost as much to Adam.  And he lost Mia for reasons he doesn’t truly know.  In a way, watching Adam go through the things he did was even more heart breaking than Mia’s pain in the first novel.  Watching his transformation, and Mia’s, throughout the book was emotional and beautiful.  Like the first, it was Adam who owned my heart as a character.  I just wanted things to change for him, for him to find happiness.

My Recommendation

This isn’t always an easy read, but it is a beautiful one.  It tells the story of two people torn apart by the worst of experiences.  In my opinion, the aftermath of grief shown in this book was as important to the story as the initial tragedy itself.

Rating Report
Plot
Characters
Writing
Pacing
Cover
Overall: 5

About Gayle Forman

Once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away, I was a journalist who specialized in reporting on young people and social-justice issues. Which is a fancy way of saying I reported on all the ways that young people get treated like crap—and overcome! I started out working for Seventeen magazine, writing the kinds of articles that people (i.e. adults) never believe that Seventeen ran (on everything from child soldiers in Sierra Leone to migrant teen farm workers in the U.S.). Later on, I became a freelance journalist, writing for magazines like Details, Jane, Glamour, The Nation, Elle, Budget Travel, and Cosmopolitan.

In 2002, I went traveling for a year around the world with my husband, Nick. I spent time hanging out with some pretty interesting people, a third sex (we’d probably call them transvestites here) in Tonga, Tolkien-obsessed, role-playing punks in Kazakhstan (bonus points to those of you who can find Kazakhstan on a map), working class hip-hop stars in Tanzania. The result of that year was my first book, a travel memoir called You Can’t Get There From Here: A Year On the Fringes of a Shrinking World. You can read about my trip and see pictures of it here.

What do you do when you get back home after traveling the globe for a whole year? First, you get disproportionately excited by the little comforts in life: Not having to look at a map to get everywhere? Yay! Being able to drink coffee without getting dressed and schlepping to a café first? Bliss! Then, if you’re 32 years old and have been with your husband for evah, you have a kid. Which we did. Presto, Willa!

So, there I was. With a baby. And all of a sudden I couldn’t do the kind of gallivanty reporting I’d done before. Well, you know how they say in life when one door closes another opens? In my case, the door came clear off the frame. Because I discovered that I could take the most amazing journeys of my life without ever having to leave my desk. It was all in my head. In stories I could make up. And the people I wanted to take these fantastical journeys with, they all happened to be between the ages of 12 and 20. I don’t know why. These are just the people who beckon me. And I go where I’m told.

My first young-adult novel, Sisters in Sanity, was based on another one of those social justice articles I wrote when for Seventeen and you can click here to read the article. Sisters was published in 2007. My next book, If I Stay, was published in April of 2009 by Dutton. It is also being published in 30 countries around the world, which is surreal. The sequel/companion book to If I Stay, Where She Went, comes out in April 2011. I am currently working on a new YA novel, that is, when my kids (plural, after Willa we adopted Denbele from Ethiopia) allow me to. And after that book is finished, I’ll write another, and another….

Wow. This is crazy long. I suppose the short version of this bio could simply read: My name is Gayle Forman and I love to write young-adult novels. Because I do. So thank you for reading them. Because without you, it’d just be me. And the voices in my head.

Gayle Forman is an award-winning author and journalist whose articles have appeared in such publications as Jane, Seventeen, Glamour, Elle, and The New York Times Magazine, to name just a few. She lives in New York City with her husband and daughter.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

Share this:

If I Stay

If I StayTitle: If I Stay
Author: Gayle Forman
Series: If I Stay #1
Also in this series: Where She Went
Genre(s): Contemporary Fiction, Love & Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 213
Published by Speak on 2009-03-24
ISBN: 978-0142415436
ASIN: B0020BUWX2
Format: eBook
Source: personal purchase

FTC Disclosure: Regardless of how I received this book, this is an honest review based on my own opinions. Read my full disclosure here.

 
| Amazon | B&N | Kobo |
| Goodreads | BookLikes | Shelfari | LibraryThing |

divider

From the back cover...

In the blink of an eye everything changes. Seventeen ­year-old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall what happened afterwards, watching her own damaged body being taken from the wreck. Little by little she struggles to put together the pieces- to figure out what she has lost, what she has left, and the very difficult choice she must make.

My Review

There are certain books that just emotionally drain you, and this was one of them.  There are moments of sadness, moments of happiness, moments of pain, and moments of sweetness.  It is a book whose story just stays with you.

I love the way the story of If I Stay is constructed.  It is told from Mia’s point of view, but it isn’t just her version of the present.  Instead, it travels back and forth through her history and those of the people she loves.  This gives the entire book a bit of a bittersweet quality, as you experience loss with Mia.  You are a part of her world after the fact and it makes the present all the sadder.  It is a story of. a girl with an incredibly quirky and fun family, a snarky best friend, and rocker boyfriend who represents everything she herself is not.

Mia’s family is built on music and love.  Her dad was a former punk rocker and her mom his biggest fan.  Mia’s boyfriend Adam was a rocker whose career is growing even before he finishes high school.  And then there is Mia, the classical music loving cellist who is on her way to great things.  But, in a single moment, everything changes for her and for her family.

The author doesn’t shy away from the tough situations or questions that arise from Mia’s personal tragedy.  Instead, she makes Mia and the reader question themselves about fanily and choices.  What is a family?  How do you choose when faced with such diverse choices?

 

This is a book about family and tragedy and unthinkable choices, but it is also a story of beauty.  It speaks of the bonds between those we love.  And with these themes, there is also the love between Adam and Mia.  Their romance was beautiful, sweet and passionate.  It was music that brought them together, no matter how different the two expressed it.  And it was their differing musical genres that often threatened their relationship as their music took them in very different directions.  I liked that their relationship was portrayed realistically.  Instead of painting everything as perfect, it touched on problems and dischord.

The interesting thing, however, was in how I related to Adam and Mia.  If I Stay was Mia’s story, but it was Adam that I identified with the most.  There were moments during flashbacks where I felt like Mia was unfair or too demanding and it was Adam who was the sympathetic quality.  And Adam’s pain and anguish and selfless love was beautiful to watch.  I watched the movie shortly after finishing the novel and I felt the same way for most of it, as well.

My Recommendation

If you like a good, emotional read that isn’t all perfect happy endings, then this is an excellent read.  The story is beautiful and sweet, even as it is tragic and sad at times.

Rating Report
Plot
Characters
Writing
Pacing
Cover
Overall: 4.3

About Gayle Forman

Once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away, I was a journalist who specialized in reporting on young people and social-justice issues. Which is a fancy way of saying I reported on all the ways that young people get treated like crap—and overcome! I started out working for Seventeen magazine, writing the kinds of articles that people (i.e. adults) never believe that Seventeen ran (on everything from child soldiers in Sierra Leone to migrant teen farm workers in the U.S.). Later on, I became a freelance journalist, writing for magazines like Details, Jane, Glamour, The Nation, Elle, Budget Travel, and Cosmopolitan.

In 2002, I went traveling for a year around the world with my husband, Nick. I spent time hanging out with some pretty interesting people, a third sex (we’d probably call them transvestites here) in Tonga, Tolkien-obsessed, role-playing punks in Kazakhstan (bonus points to those of you who can find Kazakhstan on a map), working class hip-hop stars in Tanzania. The result of that year was my first book, a travel memoir called You Can’t Get There From Here: A Year On the Fringes of a Shrinking World. You can read about my trip and see pictures of it here.

What do you do when you get back home after traveling the globe for a whole year? First, you get disproportionately excited by the little comforts in life: Not having to look at a map to get everywhere? Yay! Being able to drink coffee without getting dressed and schlepping to a café first? Bliss! Then, if you’re 32 years old and have been with your husband for evah, you have a kid. Which we did. Presto, Willa!

So, there I was. With a baby. And all of a sudden I couldn’t do the kind of gallivanty reporting I’d done before. Well, you know how they say in life when one door closes another opens? In my case, the door came clear off the frame. Because I discovered that I could take the most amazing journeys of my life without ever having to leave my desk. It was all in my head. In stories I could make up. And the people I wanted to take these fantastical journeys with, they all happened to be between the ages of 12 and 20. I don’t know why. These are just the people who beckon me. And I go where I’m told.

My first young-adult novel, Sisters in Sanity, was based on another one of those social justice articles I wrote when for Seventeen and you can click here to read the article. Sisters was published in 2007. My next book, If I Stay, was published in April of 2009 by Dutton. It is also being published in 30 countries around the world, which is surreal. The sequel/companion book to If I Stay, Where She Went, comes out in April 2011. I am currently working on a new YA novel, that is, when my kids (plural, after Willa we adopted Denbele from Ethiopia) allow me to. And after that book is finished, I’ll write another, and another….

Wow. This is crazy long. I suppose the short version of this bio could simply read: My name is Gayle Forman and I love to write young-adult novels. Because I do. So thank you for reading them. Because without you, it’d just be me. And the voices in my head.

Gayle Forman is an award-winning author and journalist whose articles have appeared in such publications as Jane, Seventeen, Glamour, Elle, and The New York Times Magazine, to name just a few. She lives in New York City with her husband and daughter.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

Share this:

Warrior and the Wanderer

Warrior and the WandererTitle: Warrior and the Wanderer
Author: Elizabeth Holcombe
Genre(s): Historical Fiction, Love & Romance, TIme Travel
Pages: 249
Published by Elizabeth Holcombe on 2014-12-23
ASIN: B00R6AXYK0
Format: eBook
Source: Kindle Unlimited

FTC Disclosure: Regardless of how I received this book, this is an honest review based on my own opinions. Read my full disclosure here.

 
| Amazon |
| Goodreads | BookLikes | Shelfari |

divider

From the back cover...

An impossible adventure. A fierce, undeniable desire.

Infamous Scottish bad boy, Ian MacLean, takes a road trip to sort out his mess of a life and lands five hundred years in the past. He is taken hostage into what he is certain is a band of extreme Highland role players. The only bright light in this strange situation is his insanely beautiful warrior-princess captor who wields her claymore as well as her fiery feral charms.

To gain a strong ally for her clan, flame-haired Bess Campbell reluctantly married a powerful Highland chief who had no intentions of uniting the clans. After murdering her clan chief, he chains her to a rock condemning her to die in the rising tide, until a strangely dressed but startlingly handsome man emerges from the waves like a mythical selkie and rescues her. Bess learns her most odd savior has the same name as her murdering husband—MacLean—and makes him her prisoner.

Fearing she may have captured a madman, Bess forces Ian to journey through Scotland chasing down a killer. She finds Ian’s strange ways oddly endearing and uncommonly useful to her quest for revenge. Ian struggles to find a way back to his time, while being pulled deeper into his role in the past and his undeniable attraction for the fiery Highland warrior princess, Bess Campbell.

My Review

Warrior and the Wanderer is the first book by Elizabeth Holcombe that I have read and, although it is a genre that I don’t read much of, I enjoyed it more than I had anticipated.  It is historical romance, with a nice bit of time travel, and it made for a really fun read.

Ian MacLean is from the present, on the downside of a once thriving musical career until he basically trashed it.  He is used to getting what he wants, using his voice to do it and now he has having a hard time adjusting to life on the down side.  One day he is driving through the Nevada desert in 2014 and the next he finds himself in a lake in Scotland… in 1512.  It is in this unlikely place that he meets Bess Campbell, tethered to a rock by her not so loving husband and left to die.  He saves her and finds himself this warrior clan chief’s prisoner, all because of the insane complication of sharing a surname with that husband.

The time travel aspect led to some funny moments as Ian struggles to understand his situation, initially believing he was being held by cult-like LARPers.  He just can’t wrap his mind around the fact that he has actually traveled back in time, improbable as that might be.  And those of medieval Scotland can’t understand Ian’s strange clothing and words and mannerisms.  Against all odds, Bess and Ian fell for each other and their romance was fun to read.  Nothing came easy and I like that because it made their romance believable in the midst of an unbelievable scenario.  I liked, too, that in this story, it was the man that was sure of his feelings and the woman who balked.

 

While an HEA was expected, there were still questions right up until the last pages as to how it would end and I liked that it wasn’t too easy to guess.

My Recommendation

If you like a good romance, historical or not, with unexpected moments of humor, this is a good read.  The time travel aspect added a lot to the story and I enjoyed it.

Rating Report
Plot
Characters
Writing
Pacing
Cover
Overall: 4.5

About Elizabeth Holcombe

Elizabeth Holcombe’s background includes Bachelors and Masters degrees in Fine Arts and Art History from Virginia Commonwealth University in her hometown of Richmond. She has taught elementary school and adult education courses on architecture in Rochester, Minnesota, and then worked as a fine arts museum registrar at the Flint Institute of Arts in Michigan.

Although she’s been writing since age ten, it wasn’t until after the birth of her son that she began penning book-length fiction. A past president of Washington Romance Writers, Elizabeth has also organized two highly successful seminars on romance for The Smithsonian Associates.

Elizabeth’s first published Scottish romance novel, Heaven and the Heather (originally published by Berkley/Jove of Penguin Putnam), was a finalist for Best Historical Romance in the Holt Medallion, nominated by Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice for Best First Historical Romance and the Dorothy Parker Reviewer’s Choice Award.

Elizabeth lives in Falls Church, Virginia with her husband and son. She is also the proud owner of Dime Store Chic, ranked in the top 50 for vintage shops on Etsy.com. When not writing or crafting her mixed media creations, Elizabeth frequents local estate sales and flea markets.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

Share this: