As you read the reviews on Bookshop Talk, you'll notice that every review is positive. No, we're not a bunch of literary
pushovers who love everything we pick up; we just see no point in telling you about a book if we didn't like it.

August 31, 2015


Four minutes changes everything. Hadley Sullivan 17 misses her flight at JFK airport, is late to her father's second wedding in London with never-met stepmother. Hadley meets the perfect boy. Oliver is British, sits in her row. A long night on the plane passes in a blink, but the two lose track in arrival chaos. Can fate bring them together again? (Goodreads)

Reviewed by Valette M.

Hadley Sullivan is a, perhaps, perfectly average teenage girl -- plodding through life and dealing with baggage from her parents' divorce. But far from her hardships callusing her, they deepen her feeling and we can see just how thoroughly she lives life. With such a smoothly formed character, even her rash actions take on motivation and hence are realistic and empathetic. And, of course, her counterpart, Oliver, is everything a girl could wish for: funny, smart, caring, confident, and ever so cute. Though I would have liked his back story and it's repercussions in his live explored a bit more, his solid character is evident in his charming dialogue with Hadley (several giggly moments there). As characters, both can easily stand on their own merits, but together they make a definite re-read.

The story begins and resolves over the course of a single day. When looked at from a distance that's a whirlwind romance -- how could anything made that quickly even have the appearance of being real? But we don't see the whole romance. We only see the main characters' first, second, and third encounters, and the plot almost takes on the whimsical feel of the Disney short Paperman. Seemingly by mere chance, two perfectly suited people meet and refuse to let their meeting slip away into the depths of time. Set against a vibrant;y written backdrop of first an airport and then London, the characters develop a strong friendship while struggling with the pulls that real life has on them. This beginning of their relationship is grounded so firmly, that though we leave them at a dance, with no promises made, we can rest assured that their romance will last far into the foreseeable future, if not forever (That's what I'm going with).

The language of the tale fits the content perfectly -- relaxed and genuine -- with a witty narrator to convey longing, exhilaration, insecurity, and sureness with a few carefully placed words. We get to experience Hadley's full range of emotion and identify with her on an entirely new level. The descriptions are creative, original, and definitely have their own taste. For those of you who haven't had the pleasure of picking THE STATISTICAL PROBABILITY yet, I highly recommend it to satisfy you well-written romance cravings. Overall, a very sweet, clean, satisfying read.

Market: Young Adult
Language: Mild if Any
Sensuality: Mild
Violence: None
Mature Themes: Divorce

August 24, 2015

ALL THE TRUTH THAT'S IN ME by Julie Berry, 2013

Four years ago, Judith and her best friend disappeared from their small town of Roswell Station. Two years ago, only Judith returned, permanently mutilated, reviled and ignored by those who were once her friends and family. Unable to speak, Judith lives like a ghost in her own home, silently pouring out her thoughts to the boy who’s owned her heart as long as she can remember—even if he doesn’t know it—her childhood friend, Lucas. But when Roswell Station is attacked, long-buried secrets come to light, and Judith is forced to choose: continue to live in silence, or recover her voice, even if it means changing her world, and the lives around her, forever. This startlingly original novel will shock and disturb you; it will fill you with Judith’s passion and longing; and its mysteries will keep you feverishly turning the pages until the very last. (Goodreads)

Reviewed by Valette M.

To be blunt, I love this book. I love the characters. I love how with the barest of descriptions, they rise up to take a vivid place in my mind. They are never officially introduced to the reader, but give the impression of simply existing -- their lives progressed before the book begins and will continue to do so when the cover closes. But we are lucky to catch a short glimpse of them in their struggles against the world. Judith is a battered and ostracized young woman, but far from letting her troubles beat her, she grows stronger -- both before the book begins and during it. Though not loud in her defiance of society, a core of steel runs through her. And Lucas! (Love interest) Mostly referred to as 'you' through Judith's first person perspective, the reader meets him as an old friend, faults and all. His transformation may not be as dramatic as Judith's, but it changes his future just as much.

Judith's past still holds her present in a death grip. And though the events that shatter her life happen months before the book begins, they still cast their dark shadow over every choice Judith makes. Though plenty high on the action/intensity scale, I felt like the focus of the book was almost solely on Judith's journey to reclaiming her life. And it was masterfully done. With only snippets of her past displayed at the beginning, the flashbacks wind closer and closer as events in real time speed up, spiraling towards the climax. And when it comes, suddenly all the pieces fall together, and it's immediately evident how much deeper the story is. This book absolutely receives the Could Not Put Down award.

I've only had the pleasure of reading on other of Julie Berry's books, but I found her storytelling to have a timeless flowing feel. ALL THE TRUTH THAT'S IN ME raises the bar considerably more. With poignant characters and a tale that tackles heavy issues with tact, Julie Berry presents a gorgeously crafted story. This book has glided it's way onto my reread list, and quite possibly my re-reread list. This is one heart wrenching read you will not want to miss.

Market: Young Adult
Language: None
Sensuality: Mild
Violence: Mild
Mature Themes: Abuse, disfigurement, death

August 17, 2015

IGNITE by Sarah B. Larson, 2014

Alexa remains by the newly crowned King Damian’s side as his guard, ever committed to helping him rebuild Antion and reclaim the hope of Antion's people, despite continuing to harbor a secret love for him. However, when another threat to Damian and his kingdom emerges, and blame is cast on their newly forged allies from Blevon, Alexa knows things are not what they seem. With the fate of her nation hanging in the balance once again, will Alexa be able to protect her king and uncover the true enemy -- before it's too late?

Reviewed by Natalie

Let me start this review off by pointing something vital out:
I HATED Lady Vera. I visualized throttling her every page since I discovered her literary existence.

Right, just needed to get that off of my chest.

IGNITE was such a fast and fun read. I read it until 2 am (yup, one of those books) and picked it up first thing when I woke up. I practically slept with it, I didn't wanna put if down.

It starts out with Alexa being her typical stubborn self, convincing herself that she isn't good enough for Damian (can somebody say dramatic much??) and thus crushing Damian's heart in the process. I just kept seeing him turn these big beautiful blue (3 alliteration points to me) puppy dog eyes on her (not that he did, he put up his mask of indifference, but a girl can dream).

Then Damian is attacked (for reals this time, not something he staged). But, right before the assassination attempt went off, Lady Vera Crack Head (probably not her last name) walked into the room and charmed the hair off of everyones' head except for Alexa's (and someone else...maybe...maybe find out for yourself, stop making me do everything for you xD).

All you really need to know are these key things. Take note. Grab that pen behind your ear and jot this down:
Jax is the cutest little boy.
Damian has the biggest heart...and blue eyes....and muscles (what?).
Alexa can kick some serious behind.
Rylan may be jealous because of reasons.
Tanoori has a crush (But who you ask? Some dude *shrugs*).
Eljin likes picnics...except when he doesn't (show up, that is).
Vera, though she is a ginger like me, is forcing it. Quite literally.
Rafe, I don't know who you are, but I will find you, and I will kill you.

The only thing I didn't like about this book was what I've been WISHING to happen since Defy. Can you guess? Lemme tell you, close your eyes, and picture this. Damian and Alexa face off in a sword fight. It may sound weird, but I'd really enjoy that. I think I may get my wish in the next book ;)

Happy Reading!!!

Market: Young Adult
Language: Mild
Sensuality: Mild (More so tension with WANTING things to happen, but stubborn people....)
Violence: Mild (Sword fights basically.  Blood will be spilled)
Mature Themes: There are people killing, manipulating, and kidnapping people.

August 10, 2015

BLACKMOORE by Julianne Donaldson, 2013

Kate Worthington knows her heart and she knows she will never marry. Her plan is to travel to India instead—if only to find peace for her restless spirit and to escape the family she abhors. But Kate’s meddlesome mother has other plans. She makes a bargain with Kate: India, yes, but only after Kate has secured—and rejected—three marriage proposals. (Goodreads)

Reviewed by Valette M.

Kate was a determined, stubborn, wild heroine, and I loved her. A good heroine has weaknesses, but usually there are only a few, if not just one, surrounded by infinite piles of loveability. But Kate has many, many weaknesses. So much so that when I started reading BLACKMOORE I wasn't sure if I would like her. She's easily angered, she cries a lot, she has a lot of emotional turmoil to work through. Usually any one of these would make me toss down a book in disgust, but Kate is not the usual heroine. Rather than detract from her or bring her across as a petty, foolish girl, these weakness only highlighted her strengths and the growth she had over the course of the book. I'm still not sure I could ever be bosom friends with her, but as a character, I love her! Though she doesn't think so, she is strong and won't let anyone trample on her dreams. Sometimes I wanted to throttle her, but for the most part I was cheering for her whole-heartedly.  So rarely do romance heroines have the depth to look beyond their current circumstances and become the person they want to be. Seriously, phenomenal! On the other hand, I couldn't really make sense of Henry. He had his shining moments, but at others he seemed stereotypical. He was almost too perfect. Of course, I'm only being so picky because of the very high-caliber this book set. The book easily gets five-stars. And after all that pickiness, I can honestly say that Henry is completely swoon-worthy and utterly sweet and totally a gentleman. And there are all sorts of hidden gems in the supporting characters, but I'll leave those to you.

I was wondering where Julianne Donaldson would go with this. My thin mind could not imagine anything left uncovered after Edenbrooke. Suffice it to say I was dead wrong. Kate comes from a totally different family situation than we experienced in Edenbrooke. We get to see her deal with a less than supporting mother and the dissolving of friendships. But besides all that, I felt the main plot was Kate's journey to freedom as she batters herself against her multiple cages. It was beautiful! I wanted to cry for her and laugh for her and scream at her. Not to mention, that her romance with Henry did not take the easy way out. There was none of the ridiculous mis-understandings or the unfaithfulness that modern romances are built on. And the ending! Though I did think it felt a bit rushed and abrupt, I loved how Kate did not sell herself short! Julianne Donaldson hit it on the head when she realized that for a romance to mean something, her characters have to hold a worth of their own beyond the relationship.

After Edenbrook and Blackmoore I think Julianne Donaldson could start releasing dishwasher manuals and I would love every minute of them. The regency period, and the romance genre in general, have never been particular favorites of mine. It's a difficult combination to get right--one missed step and the whole story is a failure. But Blackmoore embodied all the strength of the genre without any of the pitfalls. I am adding Blackmoore to my favorites shelf, and have hopes for future Julianne Donaldson works getting the same treatment. Over all? If you're looking for "A Proper Romance" look no further!

Market: Young Adult
Language: None
Sensuality: Mild
Violence: Mild
Mature Themes: None

August 3, 2015

MAGNOLIA by Kristi Cook, 2014

In Magnolia Branch, Mississippi, the Cafferty and Marsden families are southern royalty. Neighbors since the Civil War, the families have shared vacations, holidays, backyard barbecues, and the overwhelming desire to unite their two clans by marriage. So when a baby boy and girl were born to the families at the same time, the perfect opportunity seemed to have finally arrived. Jemma Cafferty and Ryder Marsden have no intention of giving in to their parents’ wishes. They’re only seventeen, for goodness’ sake, not to mention that one little problem: They hate each other! But when a violent storm ravages Magnolia Branch, it unearths Jemma’s and Ryder’s true feelings for each other as the two discover that the line between love and hate may be thin enough to risk crossing over. (Goodreads)

Reviewed by Emma - College Student

MAGNOLIA is one of the cutest books I have read in a long time! I do not read too many contempories, normally just enough to counter balance the darker fantasies and dystopians. It was a very quick read; once I got to about 20% of the way through, I could not put it down. I stayed up until 4 a.m. just to finish it, it was so good. Another fun thing about this book is that it takes place in the South, which I find so charming and filled with warm feelings, and it was incredibly amusing reading the accents in my head.

While the overall plot was pretty predictable, it did have some twists and turns that still made it interesting. The characters were dynamic, romance was adorable, and the bonds that were formed were enviable.  The story was basically the antithesis of Romeo and Juliet, so instead of feuding families and star-crossed lovers, it was star-crossed families and children who could not stand each other. Even though this book is definitely what I would call a “fluff book,” it still had serious undertones and dealt with genuine issues that can arise in life.

Magnolia is a wonderfully heart-warming book that I recommend no matter what genre you normally read. If you like books that leave a smile on your face, read this book!

Market: Young Adult
Language: Moderate
Sensuality: Mild
Violence: None
Mature Themes: death, hurricane, tumors