A Thousand Boy Kisses by Tillie Cole

Narrator: Katie Schorr, P. J. Ochlan
A Thousand Boy Kisses Book Cover A Thousand Boy Kisses
Tillie Cole
Romance; New Adult
March 15th, 2016
316 pages

One kiss lasts a moment. But a thousand kisses can last a lifetime.One boy. One girl. A bond that is forged in an instant and cherished for a decade. A bond that neither time nor distance can break. A bond that will last forever. Or so they believe.When seventeen-year-old Rune Kristiansen returns from his native Norway to the sleepy town of Blossom Grove, Georgia, where he befriended Poppy Litchfield as a child, he has just one thing on his mind. Why did the girl who was one half of his soul, who promised to wait faithfully for his return, cut him off without a word of explanation?Rune's heart was broken two years ago when Poppy fell silent. When he discovers the truth, he finds that the greatest heartache is yet to come.

A stand-alone young adult tearjerker romance, recommended for ages fourteen and up.

This book is up as a finalist for the Best Young Adult Fiction in 2016 Goodreads Choice Awards. So I decided to listen to it as I already bought it a few months ago.
This was NOT a feel good story. Nor was it a happy ending in my opinion. It definitely a tear jerker for those who love a good messy cry.

From the beginning, this story was was overly dramatic and their actions didn’t feel like that of young children. Honestly, I didn’t shed a single tear. I felt bad because I know I should feel bad for the characters. But I didn’t truly connect or engage with this story. From the beginning, this story was overly dramatic and their actions didn’t feel like that of young children. I didn’t enjoy any aspects of this story unlike the other Tillie Cole books I’ve read.

First of all, the narration was just terrible. I often wondered if I would enjoy the book better if I had just read the kindle edition. Second, the character’s dialogues felt strange and weird for kids. Imagine a five-year-old Poppy talking about Norway and Vikings to eight-year-old Rune talking about infinity love. It felt odd that they wanted to spend every waking moment with each other and never with a single other friend even when they were teenager. Something about their interactions didn’t feel like normal and genuine representation of little kids. Kids often have a best friend, but not to where no one, nor family existed outside this person.

Second, I never felt like I knew the Poppy nor Rune. The author Tillie Cole didn’t develop the character and thus it didn’t allow me to really connect with them individually nor as a couple. Instead, we were told how thy just were so mushy about themselves without us seeing them evolve.

Third, Rune’s treatment of his parents, specifically his father was over the top and disrespectful. It showed such a spoiled and thoughtless young teenager and I never witnessed a remedial action towards his father for those behaviors. Also, Poppy’s secrecy was surprising considering the infinity connection she claimed she had with Rune. It also was just too contrived for me.

The big twist didn’t feel so twisty because I suspected it having read other YA books with similar twists. It didn’t endear the couple to me either but I do suspect touched all the readers that rates the book so high. Personally, the Fault in our Stars struck those emotional chords much stronger for me. It was definitely the writing in this story and that’s why I am glad I have read her other series and know that Tillie Cole can deliver compelling stories.

People Who Knew Me by Kim Hooper

People Who Knew Me by Kim Hooperon March 8th 2016
Pages: 304
Everything was fine fourteen years after she left New York.

Until suddenly, one day, it wasn’t.

Emily Morris got her happily-ever-after earlier than most. Married at a young age to a man she loved passionately, she was building the life she always wanted. But when enormous stress threatened her marriage, Emily made some rash decisions. That’s when she fell in love with someone else. That’s when she got pregnant.

Resolved to tell her husband of the affair and to leave him for the father of her child, Emily’s plans are thwarted when the world is suddenly split open on 9/11. It’s amid terrible tragedy that she finds her freedom, as she leaves New York City to start a new life. It’s not easy, but Emily---now Connie Prynne—forges a new happily-ever-after in California. But when a life-threatening diagnosis upends her life, she is forced to rethink her life for the good of her thirteen-year-old daughter.

A riveting debut in which a woman must confront her own past in order to secure the future of her daughter, People Who Knew Me asks: “What would you do?”

This book had my attention the whole way, but I still found the ending less than satisfying. It was still an interesting story. I liked the story, but the main character was hard for me to enjoy.

Emily Morris married her college sweetheart but the demands of adulthood soon became such an albatross on their marriage that Emily soon sought comfort in the arms of another. Emily found herself pregnant and caught up between two men when Sept. 11 happened. Emily used the event as a catalyst for a rebirth. She ran from New York City and reinvented herself in California as Connie Prynne.

But the past has a way of coming out. How will Connie’s 13 year old daughter deal with her mother’s choices? What will be the consequences Connie has to face?

The author did a great job setting up the characters. I also liked the shift in POV going from past to present as the protagonist reflected on the choices that brought her to the current quandary. The writing was interesting, but I was hoping for more in terms of character development. I never really connected with Corrine or Emily. While I am trying not to be judgemental, but I never really felt remorse from her. She was at a crossroads in her marriage, and she made a selfish choice. There were some wrongs that she never made amends for. She had a very astute child, and now her daughter is dealing with two major events at the same time. I like that Sept. 11 helped many people turn their lives around, but I don’t like it being used as an excuse to avoid making hard decisions. I was waiting for Emily to be strong enough to face her past and cancer instead forced her to sort of take a step. Life is like that sometimes, so I don’t mind that.

I guess I needed more information about what happened in NYC with those she left behind. The ending was a step in right direction, but I want more. I would recommend this book for those who enjoy a good suspenseful novel.

*Special Thanks to St. Martin via Netgalley for the advance reading copy.

Every Day I Fight by Stuart Scott & Larry Platt

Every Day I Fight by Stuart Scott & Larry Platton 2015-03-10
Pages: 320
AmazonB&NNarrator: Adam Lazarre-White, Cassandra Campbell
“When you die, it does not mean that you lose to cancer.  You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and the manner in which you live.” – Stuart Scott The fearless, intimate, and inspiring story behind ESPN anchor Stuart Scott’s unrelenting fight against cancer, with a foreword by Robin Roberts. Shortly before he passed away, on January 4, 2015, Stuart Scott completed work on this memoir. It was both a labor of love and a love letter to life itself. Not only did Stuart relate his personal story—his childhood in North Carolina, his supportive family, his athletic escapades, his on-the-job training as a fledgling sportscaster, his being hired and eventual triumphs at ESPN—he shared his intimate struggles to keep his story going. Struck by appendiceal cancer in 2007, Stuart battled this rare disease with an unimaginable tenacity and vigor. Countless surgeries, enervating chemotherapies, endless shuttling from home to hospital to office and back—Stuart continued defying fate, pushing himself through exercises and workout routines that kept him strong. He wanted to be there for his teenage daughters, Sydni and Taelor, not simply as their dad, but as an immutable example of determination and courage. Every Day I Fight is a saga of love, an inspiration to us all.From the Hardcover edition.

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Stuart said “This is what Cancer does. It makes everything profound. It makes everything urgent.”

I just finished this book and I feel inspired. I have lost family members to cancer and I hate cancer for the insidious disease it is. But listening to this audiobook, I felt hope and courage. Stuart Scott said “You beat Cancer by continuing to live, by refusing to be just a cancer patient.” And he did his best to live despite having this disease that ravaged his body.

To hear his life told from his own words was so thought-provoking and motivating. He said about cancer “it can kill you and make you stronger, all at the same time.” What an intense, yet poignant outlook on the sickness that did eventually take Stuart’s life. The narrator Adam Lazarre-White was amazing.
From the beginning, through his voice I heard Stuart Scott and forgot it was another person narrating. He had all the same general easy going tone and even excitement that drew audiences from every facet of the sports universe. It is a thing of beauty when the narrator doesn’t displace the narrative, but instead, immerses the listener into the words on the page.

It felt like hearing Stuart in my ears, directly from his own mouth. This is one of the most reflective audiobooks that I have ever listened to. I heard the author’s love of his life, his family and his job. If there is one thing I saw on ESPN, it was that Stuart enjoyed relating the daily goings-on in sports. This was a man who brought his all and made it entertaining and relatable to me.
This book also gave me a different insight into the life of a person trying to live despite cancer. It was eye opening that hearing what I considered words of support such as “you are going to beat this” or “you are stronger than this disease” may not be what the cancer patient may want to hear. It also made me cognizant that “the cancer” not be the subject discussed all the time since they already live it every minute of every day.
This memoir also serves a love note to his fans but most of all, to his loved ones to tell everyone how much he enjoyed his life and loved his family. It also imparts to the reader that Stuart recognized the trust sports fans all over placed in him. This narrator delivered this story with confidence and it was amazing that Stuart was devoid of self-pity. That’s not say Stuart didn’t express misery at times, but he continued in spite of his despair. That is what I take away from this memoir. As Stuart said:

“Cancer can kill you. But it can also make the man you always wanted to be.”

I take that quote to mean that I should make every minute count. So I will hug my family and tell them what they mean to me by words and deeds daily. When I don’t feel like working out or eating properly, I will remind myself, that Stuart Scott went to work out for 45 minutes after each chemotherapy treatment. When I don’t feel like doing my job because I don’t feel like it, I will remember the effort it took for Stuart to pull himself together to accept the Jimmy V award at the 2014 ESPY. He embraced each opportunity he could in his 49 years of life; I will seek to do the same.

*Special Thanks to PENGUIN GROUP Blue Rider Press via Netgalley

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What’s Left of Me (What’s Left of Me #1) by Amanda Maxlyn

What’s Left of Me (What’s Left of Me #1) by Amanda MaxlynSeries: What's Left of Me, #1
on December 9th, 2013
Pages: 329 pages
AmazonNarrator: Amy Landon, Zach Villa
Life works in mysterious ways.

Four years ago I became known as the girl with cancer. I refuse to cry. And I refuse to give in.

A relationship with a man is the last thing I’m looking for right now, but one night with Parker changes everything. He is persistent, and he knows what he wants. Me. He doesn’t treat me like I’m fragile. But he doesn’t know, and I’m not ready to tell him.

What if it changes everything?

Tragedy found me when I was seventeen. Love found me when I was twenty-one.

My name is Aundrea McCall, and this is my journey

“I am Aundrea McCall and I am a survivor!”

This is a powerful story about a young woman who desperate wants to live. Most people take every day for granted but when you are 17 years old and just received a diagnosis of Hodgkin Lymphoma Disease, life must be extra precious.

The audiobook began with Aundrea, at 22 years, battling a recurring cancer. She moved in with her sister Genna and her boyfriend Jason in Boston, so she can be closer for new treatment. Drea decided to live a little and went to a club to have fun. She picks up a guy and has a hot night of passion.

Imagine Drea’s shock when she found out that her one night stand was actually her BIL Jason’s partner in his Veterinary Clinic. Drea resolved to keep her cancer hidden from Parker because she wanted someone who didn’t look at her with pity. She wanted a relationship not “tainted” by cancer. So she juggled cancer treatments, school, work and time with Parker. The whole time Drea was clear of her goal–to BEAT CANCER.

I really admired Drea in this book. I will admit that I didn’t understand nor agree with her decision to hide her illness from her love, but the reasons she gave were valid. I also didn’t understand how he never figured out she was really sick because there had to be clues like lack of appetite, general appearances, fluctuating energy levels etc. Even though he is veterinarian, there are some clues an average educated person should notice about their loved one.

Despite that, Parker stepped up to the plate and was very supportive. It was really heartwarming. Drea’s family was another great support system in her fight. I am amazed at the dignity I felt she was showing in the second round fighting a disease she already beat once. I thought the author did a great job really taking the reader on the journey with Drea. What I truly appreciated it was I didn’t feel manipulated to feel sorry for Drea or to shed tears. Instead, the story inspired me to cheer for those fighting the devastating, I felt like saying “Go Drea. It’s game on!”

I just saw there was a book 2 and I can’t understand why. Aundrea and Parker’s story was presented well, what’s there to add? I am not sure I will read it because I prefer the picture painted here.

*Special Thank You to Tantor Media for the audiobook given in exchange for an honest review.

Charade (Games #1) by Nyrae Dawn

Charade (Games #1) by Nyrae DawnSeries: Games #1
on October 22nd 2012
Pages: 213
AmazonNarrator: Macy Sterling
Nineteen-year-old Cheyenne tries to portray the perfect life to mask the memories of her past. Walking in on her boyfriend with another woman her freshman year in college threatens that picture of perfection.

Twenty-one-year-old Colt never wanted college and never expected to amount to anything, but when his mom's dying wish is for him to get his degree, he has no choice but to pretend it's what he wants too.

Cheyenne needs a fake boyfriend to get back at her ex and Colt needs cash to take care of his mom, so they strike a deal that helps them both. But what if Cheyenne’s past isn’t what she thought? Soon they’re trading one charade for another—losing themselves in each other to forget about their pain. The more they play their game, the more it becomes the only thing they have that feels real.

Both Cheyenne and Colt know life is never easy, but neither of them expect the tragedy that threatens to end their charade and rip them apart forever.

I really enjoyed this one. It was sweet, and a little sad but so full of hopeful moments.
Cheyenne just broke up with her boyfriend Gregory for cheating on her. She asks the local bad boy, Colt, to pretend to be her boyfriend, to make Gregory jealous and also get Gregory to leave her alone. What started out as a charade became much more as these two lost college students found out they had much more in common, and they became an anchor for the other as they faced their fears.
In the end, the charade ended up making them stronger and better people as they learned to rely on each other and find new reasons to persevere.

It wasn’t too painful or angsty, it wasn’t overly drawn out. It was sweet, and well written. Colt and Cheyenne were really strong and trying to deal with the hand life dealth them. I liked how they let the guard down around each other and showed vulnerability. I really liked Colt’s mom and her words to Chey about Chey’s mom. Very sweet and thoughtful of her to leave those lasting words to a young woman who need to hear that so badly. Really good book.