Reviews

Review: As If I Were A River

As If I Were A River, by Amanda Saint

Urbane Publications, 4/14/16

Years ago, while working towards my undergraduate degree, one of my professors assigned the book The Women Who Broke All the Rules: How the Choices of a Generation Changed Our Lives, by Joan Avis, Ph.D. and Susan Evans Ed.D.  That non-fiction novel held a variety of personal stories of women of the baby-boom era who challenged societal norms of growing up, getting married, and making babies, and went their own way. As I read Amanda Saint’s new novel, As If I Were A River, I was reminded of that book I was assigned so long ago and how it represented changing roles of women. To say that this was an outstanding novel would be an understatement!

Narrated by alternating characters, As If I Were A River tells the stories of Laura, Ken, Kate, Jules, and Una.  Kate’s perspective is during present-day and begins with Kate’s husband going missing.  Kate’s younger sister Jules comes to be with her sister and tries to offer support and guidance as her sister endures a downward spiral in reaction to her husband’s disappearance.  Laura’s perspective is from her late teen years into adulthood, many years ago, and paints the picture of Laura’s whirlwind life changes and her later realizations that she wanted more out of life. Una does narrate a few chapters in the form of letters, but much of what we learn about Una comes from Laura’s chapters and perspectives from both her and Ken. I found myself both loving and hating several of the characters at different points in the novel, which honestly, is like real life.  These characters go through the good and bad, make good decisions, and make poor decisions. Some topics and issues addressed throughout this novel include:

  • Family relationships and dynamics
  • Alcoholism
  • Desertion/Disappearance
  • Women’s roles
  • Parenting
  • Lies/Betrayal
  • And so much more!

Throughout this novel you find yourself relating to and empathizing with characters at one point, and at other times, you feel frustrated due to their personal decisions and actions.  This is absolutely a book you will start and finish the same day because the author draws you in almost immediately.  My only feedback that is not positive is the ending!  Not trying to spoil anything for anyone, but when I came to the end I actually yelled out, “What??  No way that’s it!” I kept touching the screen on my iPad, thinking there had to be more pages and something was wrong, but alas, there were not. However, now that I’ve had more time to reflect on the novel, I’ve decided that OK, maybe that was the right time to wrap everything up….  I will just have to imagine in my mind what happened next, years later, etc!  Regardless of the ending, I highly recommend this novel, especially to women that want to read something insightful and unique – it is a wonderful novel!

 

Disclaimer:  I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for a positive review.

Reviews

Review: Perfectly Loved

Perfectly Loved, by Lacey Silks

MyLit Publishing; February 21, 2016

Perfectly Loved, is Lacey Silks’ final novel in the ‘Perfectly’ series, and tells the story of Dave and Millie.  This was my first novel by Silks, and unfortunately I haven’t read the prequel and other novels in this series.  Nevertheless, this novel can be read as a stand-alone and their story is easy to follow!

Millie has grown up with a very challenging past suffering through separation from family and bouncing around the foster system.  Dave comes from a happy home with his Dad and sister, although his mother passed away years earlier.  When Millie moves to a new foster home and starts at a new school, she immediately captivates Dave and all of his attention.  Thus begins a whirlwind of romance, love, sadness, frustration, happiness, and so on! This novel is narrated by both Millie and Dave, but also jumps back and forth from present day, to childhood, to 12 years earlier, to 8 years earlier, etc.  It seems that recently I’ve been reading quite a few novels that jump back and forth like this, however, Silks provides the reader with a deeper understanding of the bond between Dave and Millie by switching time periods.

Besides the element of romance and some hot, spicy moments between Dave and Millie, this novel also has many characteristics of a suspense or thriller.  There are several instances of putting the reader on edge and wondering what will happen next, and honestly some tense, almost creepy moments.  One of the “surprises” in the story line was not so surprising to me, however, there are still quite a few twists and turns that you will not see coming! At first I struggled with getting into this story and really investing in it, but after just a few chapters I was completely hooked on this novel! I must admit that I fell in love with Dave almost from the beginning (although he does screw up a few times), and just as equally despised the bad guy in the story.  Silks’ imagery and characterization really brings everyone to life in this novel, making you feel as if you are watching a movie rather than reading a book.

Overall, I really enjoyed this novel and especially enjoyed a lot about Silks’ writing style. She doesn’t over-elaborate, but also provides the reader enough detail to reel you in and make you just fly through this novel to find out what happens! My only negative feedback is that this was the end of the series, leaving me wanting to know much more about Dave and Millie.

Want to learn more about Lacey Silks?  Visit her website:  http://laceysilks.com/

Disclaimer: I received this novel courtesy of NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Reviews

Review: Fearless For Love

Fearless For Love, By Clara Stone

Red Coat PR, April 15, 2016

Romance; New Adult; Suspense

First of all, author Clara Stone knocked it out of the park with this novel!  I sat down yesterday and planned on reading for just a little while, and then moving on to other things for the day.  Three hours later, I was engrossed in this novel and shooing away my husband so that I could finish it!  This was my first time reading any of Clara Stone’s novels and I will most definitely be adding more of her work to my reading list!

Fearless For Love is an outstanding mix of romance and suspense, captivating readers with the story of Harrington Lovelly and Jessica Owens. Remember, I hate spoilers, so let me try to summarize this as best I can without giving things away! Harrington is a sexy, built, arrogant fighter, who meets Jessica one day while trying to skip rocks at a river.  Jessica is somewhat new to town, working at a restaurant/bar, and trying to join a local band as their drummer.  Harrington and Jessica come from significantly different backgrounds, and neither are looking for or confident about love. Stone delivers non-stop action throughout this story of Harrington and Jessica, revealing endless secrets, twists, and turns! There are definitely frustrating moments between the characters, where you wish they would just get together or leave each other alone.  This novel is so different from a normal romance, at times reading more like a crime thriller, but then still throwing in some serious romantic tension and some steamy bedroom scenes!

While I was reading this novel, the author’s vivid language painted a picture of Channing Tatum in my mind as Harrington.  Not sure that’s what she was going for, but her detailed descriptions of his physique, conversation style, smiles, and so on made me thing of Channing Tatum.   I found myself imagining different actors and actresses in all of the parts of this novel while reading it, just because I was so consumed with the variety of characters and the continual twists and turns revealing more and more about each of them.

I recommend this book without any hesitation if you are looking for a romance with a twist.  This really is not just a chick’s book, in that I could easily see men enjoying this novel just as much as women.  Cheers to Clara Stone for developing this diverse mixture of romance and suspense, making her stand out as an author.

Visit the author’s website: http://authorclarastone.com/

Disclaimer: I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Posts

This week’s bookshelf!

Have you thought about what you are going to read this week?  Here are my tentative reading plans for the week!  Let me know if you have read any of them!

Blown Away; Author: Brenda Rothert; Publisher: Loveswept, May 3, 2016

Fearless for Love; Author: Clara Stone; Publisher: JS Publications, April 11, 2016

Colorado Keys: A Cary Wolfe Novel Book 1; Author: Tom Huckabee; Published: December 20, 2014

After these three, not sure what will come next, but stay tuned for reviews and happy reading!

Reviews

Review: Where We Fall

Where We Fall, by Rochelle B.Weinstein

Lake Union Publishing: April 19, 2016

where we fall

I just finished reading a wonderful fiction novel by Rochelle B. Weinstein, Where We Fall. I was not familiar with this author prior to reading this book, but I ended up completely engrossed, dying to figure out what had happened and what was yet to come with these characters.

Where We Fall tells the story of Abby, Lauren, and Ryan.  The three of them become best friends in college, but Lauren and Ryan are also deeply in love. The first page flashes back to the three of them in 1997 while still in school, and immediately transports you to carefree time spent with your own friends as young adults – and reminds you of that feeling that nothing could ever come between you.  Fast forward to 2014 and you discover Ryan and Abby are married with a 16-year-old daughter.  Abby has long been suffering from severe depression, Ryan is a much-loved football coach, their daughter Juliana has fallen in love for the first time, and Lauren is absent.  This novel is written from perspectives of: Ryan, Abby, Lauren, and Juliana, with each chapter being narrated by a different character. This novel takes the reader on a romantic yet painful journey about lost love, marriage, family roles, and the impact of lies and betrayal.

Some things that I loved about this book:

  • The open, honest look into Abby and how lies and dishonesty can destroy a person’s life (almost reminded me of Rev. Dimmesdale in The Scarlet Letter, and how his guilt slowly killed him)
  • The accurate and honest depiction of a family living with severe depression
  • The different perspectives presented by each of the characters
  • Ryan’s struggle between doing the right thing and following his heart
  • Weinstein’s vivid language and writing
  • The setting of the novel – being born in Asheville, NC I loved the mentions of Looking Glass Falls, Linville Falls, Beech Mountain, etc 🙂

Some things I didn’t love as much:

  • Lauren’s character, in general.  Yes, she had been betrayed, but when she returns she is a borderline stalker at times!
  • Juliana and her over-the-top love for E.J. sometimes felt like a little much for a 16-year-old
  • The ending!  Was it a happily ever after fairy tale?  I assume so, but it drives me crazy when I’m not sure!

Overall, I really enjoyed reading this novel. Weinstein hooks the reader from the beginning and pulls you into the lives of these characters.  I was instantly invested in this novel and flew through the pages eager to find out what had happened between these best friends so long ago, and what decisions they would make about the future.  I look forward to reading more from this wonderful author in the future!

Disclaimer: I received this from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

Reviews

Review: The Scattered and the Dead (Book 0.5)

Authors: Tim McBain and L.T. Vargus

  • File Size: 953 KB
  • Print Length: 162 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Smarmy Press (February 2, 2016)
  • Publication Date: February 2, 2016
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B01BFFJSR4

And now for something totally different!  I’ve been reading a lot of romance novels lately, but then was asked to read The Scattered and the Dead in exchange for an honest review. I am so glad that I’ve discovered Tim McBain and L.T. Vargus, and that I discovered this incredible book! I was already quite a zombie fan, but I loved how this book gives a first person glimpse into the beginnings of a post-apocalyptic society.  The novel is written in a series of letters from a guy named Decker, to the nameless girl living across the hall.  Decker is agoraphobic, never leaves his apartment (obviously, being agoraphobic), yet has done very well financially at a young age.  Very early on, the reader gets a gory flashback involving Decker’s mother, and it continues on with vivid, chilling descriptions of what Decker sees, hears, and even smells each day from his apartment window.  The only thing the reader knows for certain is that Decker is alone – and I mean, very alone.

Decker continues his letters daily, although he is too shy to approach the girl across the hall.  Through these letters, the reader learns all of the ways the outside world is changing, as well as, ways that Decker is changing.  Decker prepares meticulously, gathers supplies, and demonstrates a variety of survival and gathering skills while in his apartment (and gets very accustomed to being around dead bodies!).  Eventually, Decker must face his internal fears in order to learn more about what is going on around him and to increase his chances of surviving.  The transformation of Decker from beginning to end of the novel is remarkable, yet occurs naturally as you are reading.  He is such a normal, everyday guy in certain ways, but definitely grows throughout the story.

While reading this book, my emotions ranged from laughing hysterically, being grossed out, and even sadness for Decker. This is not an average zombie book, but more of a glimpse into the heart and soul of someone who manages to keep it all together while the rest of the world is falling apart. I am so glad I had the opportunity to read this book and loved every minute of it!  Tim McBain and L.T. Vargus are authors that I definitely want to read more of!

Reviews

Review: Last Resort Love

Last Resort Love

Last Resort Love
Kindle Edition, 182 pages
Author(s): Holly Cortelyou (Goodreads Author)
ASIN: B01AR558MW
Edition language: English
This week I had the great pleasure of receiving a copy of Last Resort Love, from author Holly Cortelyou, and there are no words to describe how excited I am to see what she brings us next! Last Resort Love introduces readers to Krissa and Nick, set in the beautiful Colorado mountains.  Krissa has not been lucky in love, and decides to pack up and start over in a small hamlet near Vail, CO.  Krissa has landed a new teaching position, left her family behind, and is looking to start a new life – without a man!  Fate steps in, however, and has her living dangerously close to her handsome landlord Nick, a local resort owner.  From here, the author takes the reader on a romantic, funny journey as Krissa acclimates to her new hometown, come to terms with things from her past, and tries to resist Nick’s flirtation.
I am not a fan of spoilers so I don’t want to carry on too much about the plot, but trust me this is a wonderful romance novel that you should not miss!  Not only do you immediately become attached to the main characters, Nick and Krissa, but the author provides the reader with an addictive balance of romance, regrets, family, and willingness to take chances.  It is very difficult to not see some of your own family in this novel – whether good or bad (I unfortunately identified with several, lol), but it will have you cheering for Nick and Krissa just that much more!  Holly Cortelyou reminds us in this novel that disappointments in our pasts, do not have to dictate our futures, especially when it comes to love!
Every once in awhile I come across an author so fabulous that I want to find everything they’ve ever written and watch for the next novel to come out – and this is one of those times.  Holly Cortelyou flawlessly provides readers with romance and realism in this novel that you will read in one sitting from start to finish!
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Review: Wish List

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Wish List

by Belinda Williams

Momentum Books

Moonlight

Romance; Women’s Fiction

Pub: May 26, 2016

 

Can I just start by saying wow??  Belinda Williams’ new novel, Wish List, is one of my favorite novels I’ve read in quite some time.  I was not familiar with the City Love series prior to reading this, but I will now most certainly go back to read the first three in the series.

Wish List is not only full of romance and a dreamy man, but has a fabulous story line and plot as well.  Cate is the last single girl in her group of friends and has always had certain expectations of her dream man.  Thanks to some water issues in her apartment one night, Dave enters her life, and it’s impossible not to fall in love with him.  However, right after they meet – this is what makes this novel so different – he isn’t coming onto her, flirting, etc.  He’s just a quiet, cool, laid back guy. The development of Cate and Dave’s relationship unfolds so naturally, not at all like some sappy, romantic fantasy, but like what most of us go through.  Sometimes it’s the one unlike what we imagined or dreamed of, that comes along and sweeps us off of our feet.  Nothing appears forced or rushed in the writing, and I must say, Belinda Williams did an amazing job with a romance novel, without being too sexual or too graphic.

Even if you are not a huge fan of the romance genre, this book is wonderful.  Yes, this novel has the pretty girl and the handsome guy, and yes this novel fills you with suspense about whether the couple will make it or not, but this novel is different.  Belinda Williams has woven a wonderful mix of romance, desire, work ethics, family issues, and most importantly, the power of communication. If you have followed the City Love series, this most certainly will not disappoint, but even if you haven’t read any of the series before, this is a must-read! Bravo to Belinda Williams and of course, to Cate and Dave 🙂

FTC Disclaimer:  I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Review: Scarecrow’s Dream

Scarecrow’s Dream, by Flo Fitzpatrick

Samhain Publishing; Romance, Sci-Fi, and Fantasy

Pub date June 21, 2016

Where to being with this one?  First of all, bravo to Flo Fitzpatrick for a great novel that literally had me hooked from the first page!  Scarecrow’s Dream is a funky mix of romance, fantasy, politics, theater, and societal norms. The novel centers around Holly Malone, and her journey of supernatural self-discovery after being in a motorcycle accident and returning to her apartment 43 years later. Holly has a fabulous old aunt who’s eccentric but open-minded personality is both comforting and funny at the same time.  Holly’s aunt begins trying to fill in the gaps for Holly regarding the past 43 years, as Holly experiences flashbacks and memories events leading up to the night of the accident.  Not far into the novel, the reader meets Holly’s former love and handsome actor, Shane Halloran.  Together, Holly and Shane (with help from crazy Aunt Adelaide) reconnect with people from their past to try to make sense of what happened, and to determine who was responsible.

I was really loving Holly throughout the entire novel! She’s strong-willed, an activist, a romantic, and longs for equality and acceptance of her interracial romance.  Shane, well, I liked Shane.  However, I did find myself having some issues with Mr. Shane Halloran and they all can be linked to my desire for chivalry and romance!  There are a few times during the novel where I find myself wanting him to step up and be “the man” or “the protector,”  but overall, his good looks, intelligence, and charm still won me over 🙂

If you are searching for romance with a mix of substance and fantasy, then check out this novel by Flo Fitzpatrick, it is a page turner that leaves you wondering what happened next for these characters.

FTC Disclaimer:  I received a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

 

 

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Review: A Thousand Salt Kisses

A Thousand Salt Kisses, by Josie Demuth

Wise Ink Creative Publishing; Romance, Teens, & Young Adult

Pub date: April 29, 2016

 

Attention lovers of young adult romance, this is one you’re going to want to read!  Josie Demuth’s, A Thousand Salt Kisses, is a wonderful combination of fantasy, romance, and the good and bad of being a teenager.  This story is about Crystal and her family that recently moved to Starfish Island.  Crystal is trying to make friends and feel comfortable, but everything  changes for her one night in the ocean, when she first meets Llyr.  Thus begins an unexpected summer romance, along with a plot that addresses several current issues for teenage girls everywhere!  This novel covers first love, sexuality, friendship triangles, parents separating, and even  relevant environmental issues.

There were times while reading this novel that things almost seemed too unrealistic to me, however, I think this book is perfect for the age group for which it is intended.  There’s not a young girl anywhere, or grown woman for that matter, that hasn’t experienced some of the emotions that Crystal experiences.  Moreover, I think that we’ve all wished for our own Llyr to appear at some point in our lives 🙂

After reading this book, I felt myself wanting more from the story’s main characters, Crystal and Llyr. Although vampire and werewolf young adult romances have been dominant for years (which I love, let me clarify!), this book grabbed my attention because it is a fresh and unique tale of star-crossed lovers.  After digging around, I realized there is a sequel to this novel, and I most definitely have added it to my reading wish list!

FTC Disclaimer:  I received a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.