Monday, September 29, 2014

Book Review! Love Nouveau by B.L. Berry

We are thrilled to be included in the blog tour for the book Love Nouveau by B.L. Berry.  We have received an advanced copy of this book for an honest review.

The only thing inevitable in love is despair. 

I knew from the start that he would wreck me. 
Nothing could have prepared me for the day he walked into my life ... 
or the day he walked out of it. 

I self-destructed. 

All that remained was a shell of the girl I once was. 

And I don't know if I'll ever recover.

This is such a great book!  I read it all in one day and (unfortunately) ignored some responsibilities while finishing this book.  Aaaaaaannnnnndddd I do not regret it.  I am so glad that I read this book.  The story revolves around Ivy and the relationships around her.  She is very different from her (rich) family and is trying to make a name for herself, without the help of her family's name.  She has returned from a study abroad trip to Italy.  She wants to work in the art industry and has a potential job interview in New York (she is from Chicago).  Her family instead wants her to work for a museum in Chicago that they have arranged for her in the hopes that they can keep an eye on her.  Meanwhile, her sister is getting married and is completely self-absorbed in the process.  Ivy met Phoenix when she returned from Italy.  They have an instant connection and try to make a go at the long distance relationship while Phoenix lives in St. Louis.  Of course this can be difficult, but they realize what they have is very important.  They have to learn to trust each other through the process.

Something major happens a few days before Ivy's sister is married and the way her family reacts is really unbelievable.  Not only does Ivy have to deal with a major life event, her family is unfortunately not very sympathetic.  I won't give away what happens or why, but the event in a way affects her relationship with Phoenix to the point where she believes that she needs a fresh start.  (Sorry, you will have to read the book to find out what happens!)

This book was amazing.  It didn't just deal with a boy-girl cliche relationship, but it had substance to it.  Her family dynamics are something to read about as well.  Ivy has a great friend in Rachel and you will love reading about the characters.  Ivy, Rachel and Phoenix are not flaky and have layers to themselves.  Phoenix and Ivy both have to realize think they are worth to themselves and other people.  Just because someone isn't perfect, does not make them worthy of love.  There are several twists to the book that really keep you interested!  This is a debut novel, but honestly you wouldn't believe that.  I can't wait to read more from Berry!  

About the author

B.L. Berry is many things. A New Adult author. A self-proclaimed music whore. A long-course triathlete. A marketing savant. And a full-time working mom. While there are never enough hours in the day, she does the best she can to get things done and hopes for technological advances in human cloning.

When she’s not hiding behind her computer writing, you can find her spending time with her family or catching up on her favorite TV shows. Rumor has it she’ll sleep when she’s dead.

She is Canadian by birth. Mexican by marriage. Chicagoan by heart. Kansan by choice. Jayhawk purely by common sense.

Residing outside of Kansas City, she lives with her husband, two children and black pug. Each day her family thanks the makers of e-Readers, because without which they would be living amongst stacks and stacks of romance novels. Conversely, each day B.L. Berry thanks the makers of e-Readers for hiding her book-hoarding tendencies.

Connect to B.L. Berry

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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Fall Reading Challenge 2014: A Blind Spot for Boys by Justina Chen #FRC2014

This fall, members of the Vise Library are going back to school by participating in a Fall Reading Challenge. We have received copies of several books from publishers for honest reviews. We hope that you enjoy these reviews (and books)!

The book for our Finding Mr. Right 101 class is A Blind Spot by Justina Chen.

About the book:

Sixteen-year-old Shana Wilde is officially on a Boy Moratorium. After a devastating breakup, she decides it's time to end the plague of Mr. Wrong, Wrong, and More Wrong.

Enter Quattro, the undeniably cute lacrosse player who slams into Shana one morning in Seattle. Sparks don't just fly; they ignite. And so does Shana's interest.

Right as she's about to rethink her ban on boys, she receives crushing news: Her dad is going blind. Quattro is quickly forgotten, and Shana and her parents vow to make the most of the time her father has left to see. So they travel to Machu Picchu, and as they begin their trek, they run into none other than Quattro himself. But even as the trip unites them, Quattro pulls away mysteriously... Love and loss, humor and heartbreak collide in this new novel from acclaimed author Justina Chen.

This story centers around Shana, who is a junior in high school.  She has given up boys for the time being after a break-up that strained her relationship with one of her brothers.  She does meet a boy, Quattro, by accident, but vows to just be friends with him.  (He just so happens to be on a break from girls!)  In the meantime, her father is given a devastating diagnosis.  Her dad has about six months left until he will be completely blind.  Her parents have put off some important adventures due to life getting in the way, but her parents decide to take a major trip with each of their kids before Shana's father loses his sight.  The book tells the story of Shana's trip with her parents to Machu Picchu.  

The trip is not going the way that anyone in her family expected.  Shana's parents seem to have a strained relationship for the first time.  Shana's mom is being protective of her husband, who does not want to be handled with kid gloves.  He has to deal with the anger he has over his diagnosis.  Shana is also blindsided by the fact that she runs into Quattro on the trip.  He is there with his father with another tour group, but they run into each other quite a bit.  Quattro is dealing with a different loss himself.  Something very tragic happens on the trip and it brings some people together and rips other people apart.  Shana learns to use her love of photography for two very important projects that will help bring some of the people that she cares about together.

Even though the main character of this book is a teenager, I think this book could be enjoyed by anyone.  There are so many great lessons to learn from this book.  Probably lesson that spoke to me the most was to cherish everyday.  In the case of Shana's father, his lesson was cherishing every experience that he had left to see with his own eyes.  Shana had to learn to appreciate her father in a whole new way and the relationship her parents have.  I'm not ashamed to admit my eyes got a little misty near the end when Shana showed them a video she made for her father's birthday.  She also learns to appreciate the sacrifices her father has made not just for her, but his own brothers and sisters.  Some people had a hard time accepting that.  Shana also learns many things about herself.  She learns some of the reasons her relationship ended so horribly wrong with her last boyfriend.  Everyone that went on the trip to Machu Picchu had a some kind of self discovery.  Quattro learns that everything happens for a reason and sometimes you have to be patient.  This really was a beautiful story and did not feel like a young adult novel at all. Like I mentioned before, anyone can relate to this book and learn something from it!

Buy the book:

·        Amazon Kindle:

·        Amazon Hardcover:

About the author:

Justina Chen is the acclaimed author of young adult novels including A Blind Spot for Boys, Return to Me, North of Beautiful, and Nothing But the Truth (and a few white lies), which won the Asian Pacific American Award for Youth Literature. She is a co-founder of readergirlz, the online book community for teens, and lives in the Seattle area with her two children. 

Connect with the author:

·        Facebook:
·        Twitter:
·        Website:

If you want to find out more about the Fall Reading Challenge and the rest of our course schedule, click our student ID above!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Fall Reading Challenge 2014: Mating for Life by Marissa Stapley #FRC2014

This fall, members of the Vise Library are going back to school by participating in a Fall Reading Challenge. Each of our courses has a required book to go along with it.  We have received copies of several books from publishers for honest reviews. We hope that you enjoy these reviews (and books)!

The book for our Guide to Women's Studies class is Mating for Life by Marissa Stapley.

About the book:

With pitch-perfect honesty and heartwarming humor, this captivating debut explores marriage, motherhood, identity, and what it takes to love someone—family members, friends, or spouses—for life.

Former folk singer Helen Sear was a feminist wild child who proudly disdained monogamy, raising three daughters—each by a different father—largely on her own. Now in her sixties, Helen has fallen in love with a traditional man who desperately wants to marry her. And while she fears losing him, she’s equally afraid of abandoning everything she’s ever stood for if she goes through with it.

Meanwhile, Helen’s youngest daughter, Liane, is in the heady early days of a relationship with her soul mate. But he has an ex-wife and two kids, and her new role as a “step-something” doesn’t come with an instruction manual. Ilsa, an artist, has put her bohemian past behind her and is fervently hoping her second marriage will stick. Yet her world feels like it is slowly shrinking, and her painting is suffering as a result—and she realizes she may need to break free again, even if it means disrupting the lives of her two young children. And then there’s Fiona, the eldest sister, who has worked tirelessly to make her world pristine, yet who still doesn’t feel at peace. When she discovers her husband has been harboring a huge secret, Fiona loses her tenuous grip on happiness and is forced to face some truths about herself that she’d rather keep buried.

Interweaving the alternating perspectives of Helen, her daughters, and the women surrounding them, “each new chapter brings a wise and tender look at single life, dating rituals, and marital unease” (New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Close). In this “absolute feat of storytelling” (bestselling author Grace O'Connell), Marissa Stapley celebrates the many roles modern women play, and shows that even though happy endings aren’t one-size-fits-all, some loves really can last for life.

I liked the format of this book.  Each chapter was from the view point of a different character.  You even had the viewpoint of some of the minor characters from the book.  You heard from the main characters in three different parts.  I think this helped you sympathize with what the character was going through.  Like in real life, if you do not know or experience exactly what that person is going through, then you do not have an accurate picture of the person's struggles or happiness.  Everyone has projections of what someone is going through, even the characters of this book have projections about other characters, but they are not accurate.  I loved that about Mating for Life.  You learned so much more than if the story was told from one point of view!

Anyways, let's get on to the bones of the book!  This story centers around Helen (a former folk singer) and her three daughters Liane, Ilsa and Fiona.  Helen was never one to be about commitment and because of this it has affected each of her daughters differently.  Fiona, who values truth and stability without drama, is about to find out something her husband has kept from her for awhile.  The order that she is accustomed to is no longer present.  She has to find a way to get it back, with or without her husband.  Isla who is on her second marriage is being tempted to not stay faithful in her marriage.  She is trying to figure out if she can not give in or live a lie.  Liane has finally met someone wonderful but she does not know what to do if the magic and happiness of her relationship are not there anymore.  She is letting that fear seep into her relationship and then in turn making it difficult to still have magic in it.  Helen is also struggling with the fact that she has found someone she wants to be with, but feels like marriage is just too much of a commitment.  She wants to just be happy about the fact that they are together.  I will not tell you how any of these relationships turn out (read or buy the book!), but I will tell you it is like real life: some work out with work and some can never be salvaged once the damage is done.

Each of the characters had their own unique voice.  Some of the stories were heartbreaking to read, but you learned something from each of them.  They were so well written that you really cared about what happened to them.  I liked that it felt realistic too.  Not everyone gets what they want out of life, but most people try.  This also showed that some of the worst things have the best outcomes.  This book showed that you should treasure and appreciate people and the bonds that you have with them.  Helen realizes some of the things that she failed to do as a parent, but at the time that they happened, she thought she was doing the right thing.  She never thought that her independence would come back to hurt her girls or herself.  Fiona learns that just because things are not perfect that her life is bad.  Isla learns to find her own voice again with her painting and to find what makes her happy.  Liane learns to just be happy in the moment and love what you have around you.  Those are all great lessons that most people probably learn at some point in your life.  The when is usually is what is different.  Is it too late to cherish someone or can you truly be happy with your life?  What makes one person happy does not necessarily mean it will make someone you know happy as well.   Marissa has a great book under her belt and I can't wait to see more from her!  What an awesome and thought provoking book!

Buy the book:

·        Amazon Paperback:
·        Amazon Kindle:

About the author:

Marissa Stapley is a National Magazine Award nominated writer and former magazine editor whose work has appeared in the Globe and Mail, National Post, Elle Canada, and many others. Mating for Life (Atria Books; Simon & Schuster Canada) is her first novel. When Marissa is not writing, she’s reading. (In fact, she never goes anywhere without a book. Except maybe swimming.) Some of her favorite authors are Meg Wolitzer, Julia Glass, Alice Munro, John Irving, Lauren Groff, Margaret Atwood and James Salter. She lives in Toronto with her husband and two children, where she teaches writing, and is working on another novel.

Connect with the author:

·        Facebook:
·        Twitter:
·        Website:

If you want to find out more about the Fall Reading Challenge and the rest of our course schedule, click our student ID above!