Thursday's Treasure Trove

Here at Lives and Breathes Book Blog we are cheerleaders for all things Indie and would like to help Indie authors receive as much exposure as possible. One way we plan to help that along is through a new weekly segment called Thursday’s Treasure Trove. In the Trove, we will be digging up some Hidden Gems and Buried Treasures. The Hidden Gem will be a book that one of our bloggers has read and loved, yet has seen little fanfare. The Buried Treasure will be a book that was popular when it was released, at least six months ago, and has seen little action as of late. If you have a favorite book that qualifies for either category, let us know and maybe you will see it on the Trove post in the future. Happy digging!!

Hidden Gem of the Week

Pepped Up by Ali Dean

Discovered by Lea
Pepper Jones is ready for an epic cross country season. She wants to qualify for Nationals, and she’s willing to do anything it takes to make it happen. She can handle long miles and hill sprints, but boys? That’s an entirely different challenge.

Pepper’s never considered revealing her deeper feelings for her longtime friend, Jace Wilder. After all, he’s got the personal magnetism and good looks to hook just about any girl in town -- and he has. Their friendship stands apart from high school social circles, and they’re both just fine with that (or at least they pretend to be).

That is, until running star Ryan Harding moves to town.

When it comes to running, Pepper’s goals are clear. But when it comes to Jace and Ryan, it’s nowhere near as simple.

I am a sucker for a good mature YA, and always grab any free ones I find on Amazon. “Pepped Up” was a freebie a couple of months ago, lucky for me, because I really, really enjoyed this book.

This story is about Pepper Jones, who lives with her Gran and runs cross country for her high school. She is going into her junior year of high school, and hoping to reach Nationals for her school’s cross-country team, beating her personal achievements from the year prior. She competes in these races, but mostly she is trying to outdo herself. I loved that about her character, and felt bad for her when unwanted attention to her running career had her worrying about other people’s expectations. I loved the running scenes though, they were almost enough to make me wanna lace up my Nike’s and hit the pavement. Almost.

“I want to capture the exhilaration and peace flowing through my veins, pulsing through my soul. Who needs a vice when you can attain an utter sense of being alive with such simple ingredients?” —Pepper

In the beginning of the story, Jace—Pepper’s best friend— has just returned from two weeks away at football camp in Texas. They had been best friends and neighbors since they were practically toddlers. Gran took Pepper in after her parents died, and basically raised Jace as well, since his own mother left just after he turned four. 

Given all of that, you would expect them to be attached at the hip, but apart from randomly spending some of their free time together, and him driving her to and from school, they barely interact. Being the quarterback of the football team, he is king of the school and spends his time partying and chasing girls.

And poor Pepper has never even really had a boyfriend, doesn’t go to parties, or run with his crowd at all. She has her teammates and her Gran, and Jace, whenever he makes time for her. She wants more from him than friendship, but is of course too afraid to say so. You could definitely feel the tension between them, increasingly more so as their relationship became strained, in part due to his ‘extracurricular activities’ as well as her burgeoning friendship with Ryan. Ryan is a transplant from another school that also runs cross-country, and it quickly becomes apparent the he and Pepper are very compatible.

Overall, I would give “Pepped Up” 4.5 stars. It had a bit of everything, from sweet innocence to implied debauchery, and I loved every minute of it. My heart broke for Pepper as she realized a few things about her self, and her relationships, and I wanted to smack Jace in the head more than once. This is the first in a series, and though it’s not a cliffhanger, you will definitely be left wanting book two as soon as possible.


Buried Treasure of the Week

Vain by Fisher Amelie

Rediscovered by Kathy
If you’re looking for a story about a good, humble girl, who’s been hurt by someone she thought she could trust, only to find out she’s not as vulnerable as she thought she was and discovers an empowering side of herself that falls in love with the guy who helps her find that self, blah, blah, blah...then you’re gonna’ hate my story.

Because mine is not the story you read every time you bend back the cover of the latest trend novel. It’s not the “I can do anything, now that I’ve found you/I’m misunderstood but one day you’ll find me irresistible because of it” tale. Why? Because, if I was being honest with you, I’m a complete witch. There’s nothing redeeming about me. I’m a friend using, drug abusing, sex addict from Los Angeles. I’m every girlfriend’s worst nightmare and every boy’s fantasy.

I’m Sophie Price...And this is the story about how I went from the world’s most envied girl to the girl no one wanted around and why I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.

Sophie Price is vain. She is rich, beautiful, and smart. And she knows it. She Flaunts it. She has practically no regard for anyone but herself. She is happy to use people. She chews them up, spits them out, and moves on. She has no idea that all of that is about to change. One night she gets busted for drugs and her punishment is to volunteer in an orphanage in Uganda. The orphanage is for maimed children. A place with no electricity, no water, no sense of security, and very limited medical supplies. She isn't prepared for the rude awakening that is in store for her.

“I panicked if I hadn't seen a mirror in a few hours, affirming I still had the only thing that made me so adored.” —Sophie
Upon arrival she meets Dingane, a young man who has grown up in Africa but is not what he seems. He has an instant dislike for Sophie (who wouldn't at this point?) and everything she stands for. 

“You want to stick with what's easy for you. You foresee the amount of work it would take to transform yourself and you're too frightened to embrace the challenge. Now, that, Sophie Price, is a real weakness.” — Dingane

Volunteering at the orphanage is not only a lesson to Sophie – it is a lesson to the reader. Sophie learns what it is like to love someone and something more than yourself. She learns that there are much more important things in the world than Chanel. That what she thought were essentials were actually luxuries she doesn't need or want. She also learns how to love with her whole heart. The reader learns to be grateful for the luxuries that the average person has in America.

“You're right but with extreme suffering, there is extreme happiness. With extreme earth there is extreme beauty.” —Dingane

I loved reading this book because it was so different. It was meaningful. It was engaging. It was heartfelt. I look forward to reading the next book in the series – Greed, which was recently released.

5 stars for Vain!


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