Jessica's books

The One and Only Ivan
Revolutionary War on Wednesday
Leprechaun in Late Winter
Ella Enchanted
The Courage of Sarah Noble
Plain Murder
Gone-Away Lake
Circling the Sun
Maggie and Max
The Haunting of Sunshine Girl
The Night Sister
Tuck Everlasting
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Bedknob and Broomstick
Mister Monday
Alice Through the Looking Glass
The Birchbark House
The Hobbit
The Witch's Daughter

Jessica's favorite books »

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Book Review: Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks

Safe Haven 

Synopsis (from Goodreads):  Love hurts. There is nothing as painful as heartbreak. But in order to learn to love again, you must learn to trust again.

When a mysterious young woman named Katie appears in the small North Carolina town of Southport, her sudden arrival raises questions about her past. Beautiful yet self-effacing, Katie seems determined to avoid forming personal ties until a series of events draws her into two reluctant relationships: one with Alex, a widowed store owner with a kind heart and two young children; and another with her plainspoken single neighbor, Jo. Despite her reservations, Katie slowly begins to let down her guard, putting down roots in the close-knit community and becoming increasingly attached to Alex and his family.

But even as Katie begins to fall in love, she struggles with the dark secret that still haunts and terrifies her . . . a past that set her on a fearful, shattering journey across the country, to the sheltered oasis of Southport. With Jo’s empathic and stubborn support, Katie eventually realizes that she must choose between a life of transient safety and one of riskier rewards . . . and that in the darkest hour, love is the only true safe haven.

My Thoughts:   I had this book sitting on my Nook and finally started reading it after watching the movie.  As usual, don't watch the movie first or if you do, don't expect it to be the same as the book.  I hate how they change even the smallest things (like the color of Katie's hair or the daughter's name).  The book was much better than the movie, of course, but reminded me a lot of Sleeping with the Enemy.  I found that towards the end, I could not put it down.

Katie has started a new life in Southport.  She stays to herself and tries to be as invisible as possible.  In a small town that is not easy to do though.  Katie catches the attention of the store owner where she shops.  Alex is a widower with two children.  He used to be a detective in the military and notices Katie right away. The two get to know each other and eventually fall in love.  There is only one thing that gets in their way though.  Katie is already married.  Oh, and her name really isn't Katie.

Katie comes from an abusive relationship.  She is finally able to run away from her husband and lands in this small town.  She is finally starting to get comfortable and falls into a routine that includes Alex and his two children.  It also includes her neighbor, Jo, who has become the friend that Katie didn't think she'd have.  

Through flashbacks we see how Katie came to where she is now.  We are also introduced to Katie's husband, Kevin, about halfway through the book.  That's when things got really interesting for me.  Kevin's thinking is so crazy that you couldn't help but get caught up in it to find out what he would possibly do next.  

I really liked Katie and thought she was extremely brave.  She did what she had to do to preserve her life until she could get away.  When she did get away, she covered her tracks very well.  She was very smart and determined and I liked that about her.  

I loved Alex because he was a great father!  He tried hard to be a huge part of his kids' lives and they were his top priority.  Even when he was dating Katie, he made sure his children were comfortable with it.  Alex figured out what was going on with Katie before Katie told him but he didn't push her to tell him anything.  

Jo was awesome and seriously, when you find out who Jo really is, you will be shocked (unless, like me, you saw the movie first).  She was a great character who was a true friend to Katie.  She offered the best advice and would just listen when Katie needed to talk.  

Kevin was the ultimate bad guy.  He was so psychotic and his reasoning was so crazy that you can't help but want to read more about him.  It's a little like watching a huge spider or's so creepy and gross but you want to watch because it's fascinating in a creepy way. 

The ending was fast paced and  full of suspense.  There were several things that were surprising to me (that they changed in the movie).  I thought that I would be able to put the book down but I had to stay up late to finish it.  I liked this book because it wasn't strictly romance.  It touched on some hard topics, was a little dark and had some suspense in it.  It does have a happy ending though so you still come away with a "good" feeling.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday


Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  This week's topic is the top ten books dealing with tough subjects.

Here are my top ten "tough" books to read:

Between Shades of Gray
1.  Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys.  This books deals with WWII  but it's not your typical WWII book about Hitler.  It is about Stalin and his abuse of the Lithuanian people.  It was heartbreaking but a must read!

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
2.  The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne.  Another WWII book but this time it is about Hitler.  This book is told through the eyes of a young boy who's father has moved the family.   While exploring, he meets another little boy in "striped pajamas" on the other side of the fence.  What happens next is ironic and heartbreaking.

Pretty Girl-13
3.  Pretty Girl-13 by Liz Coley.  This book was about a girl who was abducted. While reading what happened to the girl and how she dealt with it, I was very disturbed.  It was a very good book but a very difficult one to process.

My Sister's Keeper
4.  My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult.  This book deals with cancer and even worse, it deals with a child who has cancer.  It also deals with a sister who is being used (in my opinion) by her parents to cure her sick sister.  It was just a very sad and emotional book and the end was totally ironic.

Breaking Beautiful
5.  Breaking Beautiful by Jennifer Shaw Wolf.  This book dealt with death and an abusive/jealous relationship.  While that might be enough of a "tough" subject for some, what made this book a tough read for me was the main character and her self blame and weakness.  I didn't care for the book because of the main character and her pathetic demeanor.  

The Kite Runner
6.  The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini.  The relationship between Amir and Hassan is amazing.  It also takes place during a time of unrest in Afghanistan.  An extremely emotional read about friendship and betrayal.

7.  The Murder's Daughters by Randy Susan Meyers.  This book deals with domestic violence, murder, guilt and forgiveness.  It definitely worth reading despite the difficult topics.

Salem Falls
8.  Salem Falls by Jodi Picoult.  This is a book about false accusations.  It amazes me at how some people do not understand the consequences of their actions or their words.  A false accusation will follow someone even after proven untrue.  When someone accuses someone of something just to "get even", it really bothers me.  That's what you've got in this book.

 Night  (The Night Trilogy, #1)
9.  Night by Elie Weisel.  This is another heartbreaking book about WWII.  I had to read this in high school along with The Diary of Anne Frank.  This one affected me SO much more than Anne Frank did.  It was so amazing.  This is a book my kids will definitely be made to read!

Something Like Normal
10.  Something Like Normal by Trish Doller.  This book was about PTSD.  Travis comes home from war where his friend was killed.  It is so emotional!  I read this book in one was that good!

These are my top ten tough reads.  What are yours?

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Book Review: Parallel by Lauren Miller

**Thank you to HarperCollins for a review copy**

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
Abby Barnes had a plan. The Plan. She'd go to Northwestern, major in journalism, and land a job at a national newspaper, all before she turned twenty-two. But one tiny choice—taking a drama class her senior year of high school—changed all that. Now, on the eve of her eighteenth birthday, Abby is stuck on a Hollywood movie set, miles from where she wants to be, wishing she could rewind her life. The next morning, she's in a dorm room at Yale, with no memory of how she got there. Overnight, it's as if her past has been rewritten.

With the help of Caitlin, her science-savvy BFF, Abby discovers that this new reality is the result of a cosmic collision of parallel universes that has Abby living an alternate version of her life. And not only that: Abby's life changes every time her parallel self makes a new choice. Meanwhile, her parallel is living out Abby's senior year of high school and falling for someone Abby's never even met.

As she struggles to navigate her ever-shifting existence, forced to live out the consequences of a path she didn't choose, Abby must let go of the Plan and learn to focus on the present, without losing sight of who she is, the boy who might just be her soul mate, and the destiny that's finally within reach.

My Thoughts:  While this book had me completely confused at points, I thought it was very entertaining and definitely interesting.  It kept me on my toes and even though I had to reread certain parts just to try to understand it, I finished it quickly.

Abby is living a life that most almost 18 year old girls would love to live!  She is in Hollywood filming a movie with one of the hottest actors.  However, for Abby, it wasn't how she had her life planned and she was miserable.  She had had her whole senior year of high school planned out so that she could get into the college she wanted to go too and pursue the career she wanted. When the teacher of her music class decided not to teach it after all, she was thrown into Drama which led to her being completely out of control of her life.  

The night before her 18th birthday, she goes out with her fellow actors to party.  When she wakes up the next morning, she is at Yale.  Abby has no recollection how she got there or who her roommate is.  Luckily, her best friend, Caitlin is there to help. With the help of Caitlin and Dr. Mann, Abby figures out she is living an alternate life.  

I could really relate to Abby because like her, I am a Type-A, control freak personality.  When things don't go my way, I tend to have serious freak outs.  I have to have things planned down to the very smallest detail.  I totally felt Abby's pain when her plans for senior year got screwed up.  I can see how she could get annoying to some people though with her constant need to be in control but I got it.  

Caitlin was an awesome character!  She looked like a super-model (in fact, her mother is one) but she is a nerdy scientist underneath all those good looks.  She is so smart and doesn't care that she is beautiful.  She cares about getting into Yale and spending time in the lab.  She also isn't perfect.  She has dyslexia which causes her to have some low self-esteem.  I just liked how she was gorgeous but wasn't your typical popular, beautiful girl.  She was popular and beautiful but she had learning problems and liked science.  

A couple things I didn't like...the book was very jumpy.  You jumped between Abby's current life and then a year ago, where Abby was living her parallel life.  Some of it got a little confusing.  I also had no clue what Dr. Mann and Caitlin were talking about when they discussed the parallel universe.  I reread it several times and still didn't really get it.  I am not sure that I liked the twist at the end either.  It was a huge twist and I didn't see it coming at all but I am just not sure how I felt about it.  

I really enjoyed the concept of this book.  I liked how every day Abby experienced something new because of some choice her parallel made the year before.  Abby never knew what was going to happen and had to learn to just go with the flow.  This book really makes you think about how every decision you make could totally change the course of your life.  

This book was interesting and I didn't want to put it down.  Even though it was a little confusing at times, it held me attention through the whole book.  

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Spring Fling Giveaway Hop Winner Announced!

It's time to announce the winner for the Spring Fling Giveaway Hop!  A big congratulations goes out to.....

Tabitha S.!

The winner has been emailed and has 3 days to email me back with an address or I will pick a new winner.  

Thank you to all who entered and all my new followers!  I now have over 1,000 followers!  So....stay tuned for another giveaway coming up in the next couple of days to celebrate that!


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Teaser Tuesday: Parallel by Lauren Miller

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

This week my teaser comes from Parallel by Lauren Miller.  


"When you make sense of the chaos, the chaos disappears.  Or maybe, what looked at first like chaos never was." 
~page 205 of Parallel by Lauren Miller.

*quote taken from an ARC and subject to change*

Monday, May 6, 2013

Book Review: Insomnia by J. R. Johansson

**I received this book from NetGalley for an honest review**
Synopsis (from Goodreads):  It’s been four years since I slept, and I suspect it is killing me.

Instead of sleeping, Parker Chipp enters the dream of the last person he’s had eye contact with. He spends his nights crushed by other people’s fear and pain, by their disturbing secrets—and Parker can never have dreams of his own. The severe exhaustion is crippling him. If nothing changes, Parker could soon be facing psychosis and even death.

Then he meets Mia. Her dreams, calm and beautifully uncomplicated, allow him blissful rest that is utterly addictive. Parker starts going to bizarre lengths to catch Mia’s eye every day. Everyone at school thinks he’s gone over the edge, even his best friend. And when Mia is threatened by a true stalker, everyone thinks it’s Parker.

Suffering blackouts, Parker begins to wonder if he is turning into someone dangerous. What if the monster stalking Mia is him after all?
My Thoughts:  Imagine going to sleep but not really sleeping.  This is how Parker has lived his life for the last 4 years.  His body sleeps but his mind ends up in other people's dreams and does not get the rest it needs.  After four years of this, Parker is getting worried about how much longer this can go on before he dies.  His mom thinks he is on drugs and his doctor's only solution (to a problem he doesn't really know about) is to give Parker sleeping pills.  Nothing works and Parker has come to the realization that he may die before he even graduates.  Everything seems hopeless until he meets Mia. 
Parker doesn't just see into anyone's's the last person he has made eye contact with.  After almost causing an accident, Parker looks into Mia's eyes at the end of the day.  Not only is Mia beautiful and fiesty, she has the calmest dreams that Parker has ever been in.  They are so calm that Parker can actually fall asleep in her dreams.  After one night of actual sleep, Parker is addicted.  He goes out of his way to find Mia and make sure she is the last person he makes eye contact with at the end of the day.
Of course, this gets a little creepy.  Parker is stalking Mia and becoming a true addict.  He is not himself and will do anything to make sure that Mia is the only person he makes eye contact with at the end of the day.  He skips soccer, alienates his best friend and his best friend's sister and worries his mother to no end.  He also starts to freak Mia out.  She wants nothing to do with Parker and is terrified when he comes anywhere near her.  
Parker knows he is acting crazy but he can't help it.  Until Mia's dreams start to change.  No more is the calm dream where Parker can sleep.  Now it is a terrifying nightmare where the star bad guy is Parker.  He realizes then that he needs to leave Mia alone but finds out that Mia really is being stalked by someone else...maybe.  Parker can't tell if the mysterious stalker is really a mysterious stalker or if it is him.  He has to find out before someone gets hurt.
I liked Parker and felt sorry for him and his lack of sleep but sometimes he annoyed the heck out of me!  His mom was being a typical mom and would ask him if he was doing drugs and search his room.  You have to remember that Parker hasn't slept in 4 years.  He doesn't look so great and then after he meets Mia, he stops playing soccer and becomes a different person altogether.  What else is his poor mom going to think?  But he was just horrible to her.  I got tired of his "poor me" party and just wanted to smack him at times and say "tell someone"!  I understand why he was hesitant to tell anyone (who would believe it?) but guess what?  He can prove it!  All he had to do was watch the person's dreams and he could describe them to the person so I don't understand why he didn't do that with the doctor.  Why did he not try hypnosis himself?  His neediness for Mia is also understandable but at the same time completely annoying and creepy.
I liked Mia except for at the end during the climax.  I have a phobia of needles and yet I still get my shots and get blood drawn when I need too (heck, I had an amnio and 3 about some big needles!) but Mia was completely pathetic when faced with fire.  I was annoyed at her lack of fighting back.  Other than that though, I thought she was a great character.
Finn and Addie were the best characters in this book!  Finn is so funny and sarcastic.  I loved him and his loyalty to Parker even when Parker was a complete jerk to him.  Addie was sweet and of course, you can see the romance between her and Parker coming from a mile away.  It was sweet though and I really like her and Parker together. 
This book was very addictive and very hard to put down.  There are so many questions and you end up questioning whether Parker is the good guy or not.  The ending was a little disappointing but it led into the next book well.  It was definitely a different book for me and I enjoyed it!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Book Review: Last Sacrifice by Richelle Mead

Synopsis (from Goodreads):  They come first.

My vision was growing dimmer, the blackness and ghosts closing in. I swore it was like I could hear Robert whispering in my ear: The world of the dead won't give you up a second time. Just before the light completely vanished, I saw Dimitri's face join Lissa's. I wanted to smile. I decided then that if the two people I loved most were safe, I could leave this world.

The dead could finally have me.

Rose Hathaway has always played by her own rules. She broke the law when she ran away from St. Vladimir's Academy with her best friend and last surviving Dragomir princess, Lissa. She broke the law when she fell in love with her gorgeous, off-limits instructor, Dimitri. And she dared to defy Queen Tatiana, leader of the Moroi world, risking her life and reputation to protect generations of dhampir guardians to come.

Now the law has finally caught up with Rose - for a crime she didn't even commit. She's in prison for the highest offense imaginable: the assassination of a monarch. She'll need help from both Dimitri and Adrian to find the one living person who can stall her execution and force the Moroi elite to acknowledge a shocking new candidate for the royal throne: Vasilisa Dragomir.

But the clock on Rose's life is running out. Rose knows in her heart the world of the dead wants her back...and this time she is truly out of second chances. The big question is, when your whole life is about saving others, who will save you?

Join Rose, Dimitri, Adrian, and Lissa in Last Sacrifice, the epic, unforgettable finale to Richelle Mead's international #1 bestselling Vampire Academy series.

My Thoughts:  I have loved this series since I started it.  It was one of those series where I could relate to the characters and could really immerse myself in their world.  So, when this book became available for preorder, I ordered it and anxiously waited for it to be delivered to my Nook.  And it was delivered....and there it sat for TWO LONG YEARS!  Yep, it was one of those books.  I had to have it but then couldn't find the time to read it.  

I finally started it in February of this year.  I think it is pretty obvious it doesn't usually take me long to read books.  And this was one of those really good books.  I think I dragged it out because it was the end.  I hate endings!  Anyways, I finished it and I loved it!

Rose has been arrested for the murder of Queen Tatiana.  Dimitri, who has just been restored from being Strigoi, still isn't quite trusted by anyone and he has pushed Rose away because he doesn't feel worthy of her love.  When Dimitri and a couple other guardians show up during Queen Tatiana's funeral and break Rose out of prison, she is shocked and confused.  With the help of Rose's father, Abe, and Adrian and Lissa, Dimitri is able to get Rose out of Court and from there we head out on a quest to find out who really killed Tatiana and who Lissa's illegitimate sibling is.  

This book was full of twists and turns and filled with mystery and excitement.  There are lots of characters from the first few books that resurface (Sonya Karp, Mikhail, etc) and I enjoyed catching up on them. I think Sydney is one of my favorite characters from the last book so I was glad to see her again in this book. I loved how involved she was and am very happy Mead is writing a spin-off (of which I have already read book 1) with Sydney.   I enjoyed how Lissa proved that she could get along with Rose and I loved the little twist at the ending regarding their bond.  

Dimitri and Adrian and Rose...the ultimate love triangle!  I was very happy with how it ended.  I felt bad for the guy that was left behind but I was happy with who Rose ended up with.   

This is an amazing series!  I am glad I finally finished it but also sad that it is over.  If you haven't read the series, I strongly suggest you go get them and enjoy them!  I have no doubt that you WILL enjoy them!