For What It's Worth

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Review: A Duke to Remember (Season for scandal #2) by Kelly bowen

27416037Love takes the stage...

Elise deVries is not what she seems. By night, the actress captivates London theatergoers with her chameleon-like ability to slip inside her characters. By day, she uses her mastery of disguise to work undercover for Chegarre & Associates, an elite agency known for its discreet handling of indelicate scandals. But when Elise is tasked with locating the missing Duke of Ashland, she finds herself center stage in a real-life drama.

Noah Ellery left the glamour of the London aristocracy to pursue a simpler life in the country. He's managed to avoid any complications or entanglements—that is, until he lays eyes on Elise and realizes there's more to this beautiful woman than meets the eye. But when Elise reveals her real identity—and her true feelings for him—the runaway duke must confront the past he left behind . . . to keep the woman he loves forever. ~

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


Scandal, intrigue, romance! What’s not to love with this series?

Elise deVries is a partner with her brother Alexander and  Ivory Moore (the heroine of book #1, Duke of My Heart) in Chegarre & Associates. A master of disguise, it’s Elise’s job is to discreetly help the elite disentangle from their various scandals. One day she could be a ravishing French socialite – the next a bumbling male Doctor. Her latest assignment is on behalf of Lady Abigail Ellery. Her brother Noah has been missing, and presumed dead, for over 20 years. After their father dies, a cousin tries to take over the family estate, committing Abigail’s mother to Bedlam subjecting her to horrific abuse. To save the family, Elise needs to prove that Noah is alive and bring him home to claim his rightful spot as the Duke of Ashland.

Noah, has no intention of going back home to save anyone – least of all his mother – after their treatment of him as a child. His willpower is shaken after he meets Elise and starts to see that facing his demons might help make him whole again.

I loved how the romance between Elise and Noah played out. This isn’t one of those stories where you *think* the parents were awful but it was some weird misunderstanding and everyone reunites, happily ever after, the end. Noah’s parents were awful and Elise respects Noah’s pain. She does want Noah to go home and free his mother because she thinks the conditions are cruel and because she thinks it will give Noah closure but she never forces him to do anything or diminish his feelings about his past.

This was a really lovely story about two forthright and mature people who struggle to do the right thing vs. what feels safe for their hearts.

The ending was perfect. Elise and Noah get their HEA but not everything with Noah’s family is wrapped up in a tidy bow. And that’s how it should be. Things were very bleak for him – and his story actually gives insight to another recurring character in the series – that I hope gets his own book soon.

I highly recommend any of Bowen’s novels if you’re looking for mature, complex character’s (especially her heroines!) and stories that pack a punch beyond even the romance.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Review: the great american whatever by Tim Federle

25663382Quinn Roberts is a sixteen-year-old smart aleck and Hollywood hopeful whose only worry used to be writing convincing dialogue for the movies he made with his sister Annabeth. Of course, that was all before—before Quinn stopped going to school, before his mom started sleeping on the sofa…and before Annabeth was killed in a car accident.

Enter Geoff, Quinn’s best friend who insists it’s time that Quinn came out—at least from hibernation. One haircut later, Geoff drags Quinn to his first college party, where instead of nursing his pain, he meets a guy—a hot one—and falls hard. What follows is an upside-down week in which Quinn begins imagining his future as a screenplay that might actually have a happily-ever-after ending—if, that is, he can finally step back into the starring role of his own life story. ~

Source: Finished copy provided by Simon & Schuster Books at ALA16


The Great American Whatever is a quirky coming of age story that’s often laugh out loud funny, despite all the overwhelming grief the protagonist, Quinn, is feeling.

After the death of his sister, Annabeth, Quinn has closed himself off from school, friends and most importantly his film making. Once an obsession, Quinn can’t seem to finish his screen play without the A to his Q in Q&A Productions.

His best friend Geoff finally drags him out of the house to a college party where he meets the very sexy Amir, forcing Quinn back into the world and to face things he’s been avoiding for years. His sexuality, his self absorption, his future, Annabeth’s death and most importantly what is real vs the script for life he always has running in his head.

Quinn has a way of viewing everyone as as actors and life as a series of acts as a way of seeing the world and people as he wants them to be rather than how they are. He experiences a seismic shift once reality and truth can’t be avoided anymore.

Quinn’s grief is palpable but somehow not overwhelming because of his self deprecating humor. It seems odd to find humor in that much grief but it was this that made me connect to Quinn the most. I just got him – and his coping mechanisms – because that’s what I did when my mother died when I was in HS. You just want to form a protective shield around yourself and not be *that kid that lost someone* and avoid the awkward questions and well meaning conversations that follow. And it’s also difficult to move on and be happy when the person you loved can’t.

The book isn’t perfect. The writing could be a little precious in that way that YA book teens seemingly always have a witty comeback or know loads and loads of trivia but I think it works for Quinn. As a movie buff, I believed that he would be that quirky, awkward, smart and funny.

The book is also rooted in reality. That not everything works out perfect. Sometimes a first love is just that – the first – one of many to come and that’s ok. That maybe your sister was never as high on the pedestal that you tried to put her on. That your mom is flawed but she’s your mom and she’s trying.

There’s a bit of drama with Qunn’s best friend, Geoff, that acts as a catalyst for some things but, to me, opened a whole can of worms that the book didn’t quite have the time to explore fully but it’s a minor complaint.

The Great American Whatever is an easy, breezy type of read that nonetheless contains profound moments. It reminded me of a somewhat more grown-up version of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda with a bit of that John Green type dialogue.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

#ala16 book spotlight–the keepsake/special books: Pax and Finding Winnie

It will take me awhile to make my way through reading and reviewing all my ALA16/Orlando books but I want to make sure they still get attention in the meantime.

I spotlighted the creepy books last week and this week I have a few that are special to me.

The first book is Pax by Sara Pennypacker, illustations by Jon Kassen. I had heard wonderful things about this book but it was this post by author Tammara Webber that sold me on Pax. When I saw it ALA I was so excited and got in line for the autographing session. Sara was wonderful and signed the book then I was moved down the line and illustrator Jon Klassen started drawing this little fox and I just about melted into a puddle of goo. HOW FREAKING CUTE IS THAT??? It’s probably my favorite book I got at the event. The cover – the autograph – the drawing. Gah! I want to hug it forever!

The next book is Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear by Lindsay Mattic, illustrations by Sophie Blackall. I’m a HUGE Winnie-the-Pooh fan. I have collectibles, clothes, sheets – you name it. So when I saw Finding Winnie – the story of the bear that inspired Winnie I had to buy it! They had an autographing session with the illustrator and I was all over that. Sophie was very nice and chatted to me about how the original Winnie-the-Pooh & friends stuffed animals are going to be restored after years of neglect.




22098550Pax by Sara Pennypacker, Jon Klasses (illustrations)
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Published: February 2, 2016

Pax was only a kit when his family was killed, and “his boy” Peter rescued him from abandonment and certain death. Now the war front approaches, and when Peter’s father enlists, Peter has to move in with his grandpa. Far worse than being forced to leave home is the fact that Pax can’t go. Peter listens to his stern father—as he usually does—and throws Pax’s favorite toy soldier into the woods. When the fox runs to retrieve it, Peter and his dad get back in the car and leave him there—alone. But before Peter makes it through even one night under his grandfather’s roof, regret and duty spur him to action; he packs for a trek to get his best friend back and sneaks into the night. This is the story of Peter, Pax, and their independent struggles to return to one another against all odds. Told from the alternating viewpoints of Peter and Pax. ~ Goodreads

24819508Finding Winnie: The True tory of the WOrld’s Most Famous Bear by Lindsey Mattick, Sophie Blackall (illustrations)
Publisher: Little Brown for Young Readers’
Published: October 20,2015

Before Winnie-the-Pooh, there was a real bear named Winnie.
In 1914, Harry Colebourn, a veterinarian on his way to tend horses in World War I, followed his heart and rescued a baby bear. He named her Winnie, after his hometown of Winnipeg, and he took the bear to war.

Harry Colebourn's real-life great-granddaughter tells the true story of a remarkable friendship and an even more remarkable journey--from the fields of Canada to a convoy across the ocean to an army base in England...

And finally to the London Zoo, where Winnie made another new friend: a real boy named Christopher Robin.

Here is the remarkable true story of the bear who inspired Winnie-the-Pooh. ~