For What It's Worth

Monday, June 27, 2016

Review: defending taylor (thousand Oaks) Miranda kenneally

22846823Captain of the soccer team, president of the Debate Club, contender for valedictorian: Taylor’s always pushed herself to be perfect. After all, that’s what is expected of a senator’s daughter. But one impulsive decision—one lie to cover for her boyfriend—and Taylor’s kicked out of private school. Everything she’s worked so hard for is gone, and now she’s starting over at Hundred Oaks High.

Soccer has always been Taylor’s escape from the pressures of school and family, but it’s hard to fit in and play on a team that used to be her rival. The only person who seems to understand all that she’s going through is her older brother’s best friend, Ezra. Taylor’s had a crush on him for as long as she can remember. But it’s hard to trust after having been betrayed. Will Taylor repeat her past mistakes or can she score a fresh start? ~

Source: ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review


Count on Miranda Kenneally and her Hundred Oaks series to pull me out of my reading funk. Defending Taylor was a delight and I breezed though it in a day.

Kenneally has such a gift for writing authentic teens, and more importantly, familial relationships. Drama without the llama. lol

On the surface Taylor has it all. She’s the daughter of a senator, attends private school, has great friends and a boyfriend and is headed to become captain of her soccer team.

Then she screws up big time and lies about it. As Taylor points out – it’s not so much the crime as the cover up that always makes things worse. Taylor makes a bad decision but for a (semi) good reason. Was it dumb? Yeah. But I could totally relate and empathize with her reasoning. 

Taylor loses everything. Her posh boarding school, her boyfriend, the trust and respect of her family, soccer but she never feels sorry for herself. She was planning to go to Yale and she stays focused on that goal, doing whatever she needs to get back on track. She joins her new school's soccer team even though they aren't nice to her and it's a huge step down from her old team. Instead she tries to make them a cohesive team and showcase the other players. She's a good kid that cracked under a lot of pressure.

Defending Taylor brings up a lot of topical subjects and would be the perfect book, if you’re a parent, to read with your teen. Taylor is under enormous pressure from her parents to do well but they aren’t cartoon villain parents. They love her and want the best for her but they’re caught up in their own drama her father’s reelection bid. This aspect was developed really well.

The author also touches on teen sexuality (very sex positive), classicism, learning disabilities, consequences and balance. Taylor works so hard to please everyone that she’s forgotten how to have fun and live.

The romance was cute. Eza is her brothers best friend, which for some reason is always this big taboo thing, and I honestly don’t get it. Aside from some initial awkwardness, if you can’t trust your best friend with your sister – why is he your best friend? But Kenneally handles this perfectly!

I can’t say I was bowled over by Ezra. He’s nice enough, but to be honest, I read Miranda Kenneally for her female protagonists. They struggle, they screw up but they push forward and stay true to themselves. I find that, and the family relationships, far more compelling than the romances even though they are always sweet and swoony.

Being a teen is tough and I think it’s great to have the Hundred Oaks series out there. They show that you can screw up or have bad things happen but still find your way back.

Plus! Cameos from previous couples Smile

Friday, June 24, 2016

June Reading Wrap-Up

I was in a hardcore reading…not slump exactly…but reading distraction phase? I just could not focus on words.

So I cautiously posted my reading goals for June thinking, at 9 books, there was no way I would reach it. But I did!!!!! Most of the books read in this past week as I finally hit my reading stride.

I ended up reading 10 total. I know the month isn’t quite over but I’m headed to ALA in Orlando this weekend so I know that’s it for reading this month. (Stars So Sweet isn’t pictured below but is the 10th book – I’m reading it right now)

I didn’t get to Dietland – for some reason I can’t get into it yet but I squeezed in two July review books so now I’m kind of ahead!

So basicly, it seems that publicly shaming myself into reading works for me. lol

I’ll be a little scarce next week as I recover and organize my new loves after ALA but then hopefully I can keep up this reading momentum in July.

(Goodread widget with links below)


The Make-Ahead Kitchen: 75 Slow-Cooker, Freezer, and Prepared Meals for the Busy Lifestyle

really liked it

This would be a great book for busy families. A lot of the recipes have a comfort food feel with a few updates to make them more appealing and healthier by incorporating more grains/veggies. (this is not a healthy - low cal/low fat cookb...
tagged: arc, cooking, read-2016, and read-june-2016

This was kind of a strange book. I really liked the romance between Web and Cyrus but everyone's reaction to Web was off putting. Web was a cowboy trying to make it in the rodeo circuit. He's older now and his body can't take it so he d...
tagged: adult, lbgqtia, own, novella, read-2016, and read-june-2016
From Fake to Forever

liked it

Cute enough for a quick, clean romance but neither Ben nor Sandra were developed enough or given enough time to explain their quick turn-around from fear of commitment (Ben) and outright hostility (Sandra) to OMG I love you and want to g...
tagged: adult, alternating-pov-s, arc, for-review, novella, read-2016, and ...

really liked it
3.5 stars Review coming soon - but cute!
tagged: arc, for-review, read-2016, read-june-2016, and ya

Poison or Protect

it was amazing
4.5 stars I really enjoyed this! Preshea is a super prickly but relatable heroine and Gavin is just as swoony as can be - loved them both so much. Full review coming closer to release date. *According to my e-arc, Poison or Protect is...
tagged: adult, alternating-pov-s, arc, for-review, series, read-june-2016, ...

The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris

really liked it
Such a sweet little story about regrets, forgiveness, 2nd chances, friendships and a touch of romance that didn't overpower the themes. Lovely.
tagged: adult, alternating-pov-s, own, read-2016, and read-june-2016

Defending Taylor

really liked it
Excellent series and another great addition. Full review coming soon.
tagged: arc, for-review, read-2016, read-june-2016, series, and ya

The Bad Boy's Baby

tagged: alternating-pov-s, adult, favorite-authors, own, novella, read-2016...


liked it
Great story premise and characters but the editing issues were so numerous that it made reading laborious at times. I had to go back and re-read for inconsistencies and sentences that just didn't made sense due to clunky phrasing.
tagged: alternating-pov-s, adult, lbgqtia, own, read-2016, and read-june-2016
I'm still on target for my 2016 reading challenge!

2016 Reading Challenge

2016 Reading Challenge
Karen has read 85 books toward her goal of 120 books.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Review: poison or protect (delightfully Deadly #1) by gail carriger

30320387Can one gentle Highland soldier woo Victorian London’s most scandalous lady assassin, or will they both be destroyed in the attempt?

New York Times bestselling author Gail Carriger presents a stand-alone romance novella set in her popular steampunk universe full of manners, spies, and dainty sandwiches.

Lady Preshea Villentia, the Mourning Star, has four dead husbands and a nasty reputation. Fortunately, she looks fabulous in black. What society doesn’t know is that all her husbands were marked for death by Preshea’s employer. And Preshea has one final assignment.

It was supposed to be easy, a house party with minimal bloodshed. Preshea hadn’t anticipated Captain Gavin Ruthven – massive, Scottish, quietly irresistible, and… working for the enemy. In a battle of wits, Preshea may risk her own heart – a terrifying prospect, as she never knew she had one.

Buy Poison or Protect today to find out whether it’s heartbreak or haggis at this high tea.
Warning: Contains men pleasing women, and ladies who know what they want and ask
for it, sometimes in detail. May also contain plaid, appearances from favorite characters, and the strategic application of leather gloves. ~ Goodreads

Source: e-arc provided by the author in exchange for an honest review


I’ve always enjoyed Carriger’s books. They’re whip smart and a witty blend of historical/urban fantasy, steampunk and high tea.

Poison or Protect kicks off anew spinoff series set in the spring of 1867. 10 years after the Finishing School series (YA) and 10 years before the Parasol Protectorate series (adult). There is more emphasis on the romance but it still has everything you love about her previous works.

Preshea Villentia is a very stand off-ish but wonderful heroine. She is confident in her beauty and skills as an assassin. She’s known in social circles as the Mourning Star because of her 4 dead husbands. While she’s invited to parties and mingles with her peers, there’s a polite distance. People are afraid of her and Preshea likes to maintain a cold veneer and not form any relationships, finding it very difficult, for good reason, to trust others.

On her last assignment for Lord Akeldama, Preshea has a dual purpose – stop a blossoming courtship and protect her host from an assassination attempt. 

This puts her squarely in the path of the very physically intimidating Scotsman, Captain Gavin Ruthvan. Preshea finds him quite attractive and intelligent but is he the assassin she’s been assigned to take out? And can Preshea ever fully trust a man with her body and heart?

Preshea and Gavin are evenly matched. Both experts in their professions, willing to take out the other if need be – but doing the verbal dance that brings them closer together. This novella is a bit sexier than Carriger’s previous works and the romance has everything I love. A nice guy and genuine intimacy.

Preshea doesn’t make it easy on Gavin because of her trust issues but he is so kind and patient, always letting her make the first move. He appreciates her for who she is, never trying to make her conform and is always willing to listen, and more importantly believe, the truth about her past.

Add in several delightful female friendships, a bit of drama and this is another delightful story from this world. All in all a rollicking fun time!

*Just a quick note – you don’t need to have read any of the previous books from either series. I have read several, but not all, from both and had no problems following along. In fact, this novella would be a nice one to try if you've wanted to sample Carriger's writing style. If you have read all her books, then there are fun cameos that will add to your enjoyment.