213 – Connected by the Sea by E.L. Todd

Connected by the SeaThe author of this book found me on Goodreads and asked me to read an ARC (Advanced Reader’s Copy) of this book in exchange for an honest review.  The author said that based on my “Read” list, they thought I’d enjoy it.  Here’s the Goodreads summary:

“Sydney is attending University of Hawaii on Oahu where she’s majoring in Marine Biology. She loves her friends, her job, and her school. Since her ex-boyfriend cheated on her six months ago, she hasn’t moves onto anybody new yet. When Coen catches her eye, she’s immediately attracted to him in a very carnal way. She refused to let herself feel that way because he’s a heartbreaker just like her ex was. But when she’s called to her professor’s office because she’s asked to tutor someone, she doesn’t realize it’s Coen. Will he convince her that he really is boyfriend material or will he turn out just as she suspects?”

I received this book as an ARC in exchange for an honest review. SPOILERS BELOW

I felt like I was reading fan fiction. The main character, Sydney, was completely unappealing. At first, I thought I’d like her, but the more the story progressed, the less I connected with her. She turned into a weak and whiny “Bella Swan”-like character. The way her relationship with Coen began and continued was just completely far fetched for me. Not to mention her complete lack of wanting to be honest about their relationship. If she was so in love with him and wanted to be with him so much, why keep it a secret. No woman would really do that, no matter what the reason. Which brings me to her relationship/friendship with Henry. Really? I can’t even put into words how fake it all felt. Henry just felt like an overwhelming and smothering guy. The way he was constantly coddling her creeped me out and made me want to take a shower.

The other issue I had with this book is the random story about Sydney’s step-father and step-brother. Either the author is hoping for a sequel, or they just wanted to bring some random backstory into this plot that made absolutely no connection to anything relevant. That entire piece could have been left out.

There were also several spelling and grammatical errors throughout the book. These bother me from a writing standpoint. There were also a few continuity errors as well. For example…the author makes such a big deal about pointing out that her Jeep doesn’t have doors in the first chapter or two, (to the point where I was sure she’d get into an accident or something) only to then mention her leaning against her car door a few chapters later. That might seem trivial, but continuity is important.

Overall, I wasn’t impressed. There’s potential in this story, but it would need a lot of work.
JUST OKWASTE OF TIME

212 – Husband-Coached Childbirth by Robert A. Bradley M.D.

Husband-Coached ChildbirthDon and I already went through our Childbirth Prep classes earlier this month.  Because I plan to have a natural/med-free labor and delivery, I also planned on reading a couple books on the whole childbirth thing.  🙂  This book came highly recommended as it was written by the creator of The Bradley Method of childbirth.  Here’s the Goodreads summary:

“Now completely revised and updated for today’s parents-to-be…

The book that started a revolution in the birthing experience and helped millions of women and their partners to a safe and natural childbirth.

The Bradley Method has changed the way men and women—and the medical establishment—think about childbirth today. Now this new, updated edition of the groundbreaking work by Robert A. Bradley, M.D., has all the information you need to approach a natural childbirth safely, confidently, and wisely. From the reasons to choose the Bradley Method to the steps you will take as your birth day approaches—and after the birth of your baby—this book is designed to help couples share completely in the birthing experience.

•Build better, deeper, and more trusting communication skills with your partner in preparation for a drug-free childbirth

•Learn the physical, emotional, and mental relaxation techniques essential to a natural childbirth

•Discover how you and your doctor can work together toward your natural delivery

•Monitor your weight, nutrition, and your overall well-being during pregnancy

•Use natural prevention methods for the most common pregnancy problems

•Get the most out of the bonding experience you will share with your baby and your partner

With its time-tested wisdom, medical soundness, and reassuring first-person accounts of natural childbirth, this book is the “gold standard” of childbirth books. The Bradley Method is an essential guide for anyone considering childbirth without unnecessary medications or medical intervention and to share fully in your child’s arrival into the world.”

I found this book to be greatly beneficial to the childbirth classes I’ve already taken. I was glad to see much of what my husband and I learned in our class was within this book.

I was also encouraged by what this book offered as ways to prepare and handle labor. While some of the examples weren’t updated from past editions, much of the book definitely still applies to childbirth.

I’d absolutely recommend this book to any woman going through pregnancy.
LIKE IT

211 – Night of Cake & Puppets (Daughter of Smoke & Bone #2.5) by Laini Taylor

Night of Cake and PuppetsThis little novella is part of the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy by Laini Taylor.  You can read my review about Daughter of Smoke and Bone here and my review of Days of Blood and Starlight here.  This little book came out a couple months ago and I hadn’t read it yet.  Then my good friend, who initially recommended the trilogy to me, told me I just had to read it!  I’m so glad I did!  Here’s the Goodreads summary:

“In Night of Cake & Puppets, Taylor brings to life a night only hinted at in the Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy—the magical first date of fan-favorites Zuzana and Mik. Told in alternating perspectives, it’s the perfect love story for fans of the series and new readers alike. Petite though she may be, Zuzana is not known for timidity. Her best friend, Karou, calls her “rabid fairy,” her “voodoo eyes” are said to freeze blood, and even her older brother fears her wrath. But when it comes to the simple matter of talking to Mik, or “Violin Boy,” her courage deserts her. Now, enough is enough. Zuzana is determined to meet him, and she has a fistful of magic and a plan. It’s a wonderfully elaborate treasure hunt of a plan that will take Mik all over Prague on a cold winter’s night before finally leading him to the treasure: herself! Violin Boy’s not going to know what hit him.”

Loved this little novella!

I can’t get enough of Taylor’s imagery and way with words. I knew I loved her writing, but I’d forgotten just how much. This felt like such a tease since we still have to wait for the last in the trilogy to come out.

I loved reading about Zuzana and Mik! I swear I love them even more now! I cannot wait for the third book!  I hate having to wait another 3 months for it!
LOVE IT

210 – Key of Valor (Key Trilogy #3) by Nora Roberts

Key of ValorI finished the last in this trilogy the other day.  It was another quality series from Nora Roberts.  Here’s the Goodreads summary:

What happens when the very gods depend on mortals for help?

That’s what three very different young women find out when they are invited to Warrior’s Peak.

Light and knowledge have succeeded in their quest, and two of the keys have been found. Both Malory and Dana had taken their turns. The final, and last, test goes to Zoe McCourt – valor.

Now it was her burden, her risk. Her chance. She had to be brave enough, smart enough, strong enough, or everything they’d done before her would be for nothing.

Zoe has the courage to raise her young son alone, and to face all the adversity life has thrown at them. But will she have the courage to face a foe determined to do anything to stop the third key from being found – even destroying everything – and everyone – she loves?”

A great ending to this trilogy. I enjoyed reading Zoe’s story and her part in the Daughters of the Glass mystery.

The only thing I didn’t like in this trilogy was how easily things came together. Yes, it’s a book and Nora Roberts loves convenient endings, but these were moreso than usual.

Other than that, it was a cute conclusion to the series.
LIKE IT

208 – Key of Knowledge (Key Trilogy #2) by Nora Roberts

Key of KnowledgeThe second book in this trilogy was another quick read.  Here’s the Goodreads summary:

You are the Key. The lock awaits.

What happens when the very gods depend on mortals for help? That’s what three very different young women find out when they are invited to Warrior’s Peak.

To librarian Dana Steele, books and the knowledge they hold are the key to contentment. But now that search for knowledge must include the second key needed to release three souls held captive by an evil god. In each generation three are chosen who have the power to release them – if they dare accept a challenge that could promise them great riches but also grave danger…

And now it is Dana’s turn.

She won’t be alone, for she’s formed fast friendships with two very different women. But she can’t allow herself to be distracted by the return of the man who broke her heart so long ago, for a danger beyond anyone’s imagination is determined to keep her from completing her quest.”

Actual Rating: 3.5

I liked this book more than the first in the series. I’m not sure why, but I think it was because the overall storyline was already in place and the author could just jump right into the action.

I liked reading Dana’s story and how she worked her way through the puzzle of her key. I also thought it was funny how she and Jordan constantly went at each other. Their bickering and subsequent making up was entertaining.

Kane, as a villain, has been very interesting to read about and learn about. I’m curious to see how he infiltrates himself in the next book, too.

I’m looking forward to starting the last in the trilogy next and seeing how the series is finished.
LIKE IT

207 – Key of Light (Key Trilogy #1) by Nora Roberts

Key of LightThis was book #60 for the year for me and the book that had me hit my goal for the year!  Yay!!!  Yes, another Nora Roberts book.  This is a trilogy that has been recommended to me multiple times.  My mom had all of the books and gave them to me a few months ago.  Since I was finally getting back into reading, I figured I’d give it a shot.  I’m glad I did.  I’m already half way through the second!  Here’s the Goodreads summary:

The pleasure of your company is desired for cocktails and conversation. 8 pm, 4th September. Warrior’s Peak.

When Malory Price is issued with the above invitation she is naturally suspicious, especially as Warrior’s Peak is a local mansion straight out of a Hollywood movie. But with her overdraft at crisis limit and on the verge of losing her job at a local art gallery, she has little to lose by attending the event.

Only Malory is about to get more than she bargained for. At Warrior’s Peak she finds that she and two other women are the only guests of their mysterious hosts. They are told an amazing story of magic, gods and goddesses; and of three demi-goddesses who have been cast into an eternal sleep, their mortal souls placed under lock and key. And in every generation, three women are born who alone have the power to free them – if they are prepared to accept the challenge.

Three women. Three keys to find. If one fails, they all lose. If they succeed – money, power and a new destiny awaits. It will take more than intellect, more than determination. They will have to open their hearts, their minds, and believe that everything is possible.”

This is a different kind of Nora Roberts book than I’m used to reading. I definitely enjoyed it, but I also liked that it wasn’t a typical romance. I liked the mystery behind this story. I’m also looking forward to reading the other two books in this trilogy.

The premise behind the story pulled me in and I’m interested in seeing where Roberts goes with it with the other two lead females.

I’d definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading Nora Roberts.
LIKE IT

206 – Born in Fire (Born In #1) by Nora Roberts

Born in FireI saw this book at Target a couple months ago and it sounded like one I’d like.  I couldn’t pass up the price since it was super on sale, too.  Here’s the Goodreads summary:

Born in Fire is the first novel in the Irish Born Trilogy, about three modern sisters bound by the timeless beauty of Ireland from #1 New York Times bestselling author Nora Roberts.

The eldest Concannon sister, Maggie, is a reclusive, stubborn and free-spirited glassmaker—with a heart worth winning…

Margaret Mary, the eldest Concannon sister, is a glass artist with an independent streak as fierce as her volatile temper. Hand-blowing glass is a difficult and exacting art, and while she may produce the delicate and the fragile, Maggie is a strong and opinionated woman, a Clare woman, with all the turbulence of that fascinating west country.

One man, Dublin gallery owner Rogan Sweeney, has seen the soul in Maggie’s art, and vows to help her build a career. When he comes to Maggie’s studio, her heart is inflamed by their fierce attraction—and her scarred past is slowly healed by love.”

This was a cute story with a lead female that I really liked. I also enjoyed how Nora Roberts brought in such detail regarding glass-blowing. It was great getting to see the creative process as performed by Maggie, the lead.

The story was a typical Roberts romance, but I still liked it. I look forward to reading the next two books in this trilogy.
LIKE IT