Reviews

Review: My (NOT SO) Perfect Life

“MY (NOT SO) PERFECT LIFE,” BY SOPHIE KINSELLA

PUBLICATION: THE DIAL PRESS; FEBRUARY 7, 2017

not-so-perfect

Synopsis: Everywhere Katie Brenner looks, someone else is living the life she longs for, particularly her boss, Demeter Farlowe. Demeter is brilliant and creative, lives with her perfect family in a posh townhouse, and wears the coolest clothes. Katie’s life, meanwhile, is a daily struggle—from her dismal rental to her oddball flatmates to the tense office politics she’s trying to negotiate. No wonder Katie takes refuge in not-quite-true Instagram posts, especially as she’s desperate to make her dad proud.

Then, just as she’s finding her feet—not to mention a possible new romance—the worst happens. Demeter fires Katie. Shattered but determined to stay positive, Katie retreats to her family’s farm in Somerset to help them set up a vacation business. London has never seemed so far away—until Demeter unexpectedly turns up as a guest. Secrets are spilled and relationships rejiggered, and as the stakes for Katie’s future get higher, she must question her own assumptions about what makes for a truly meaningful life.

My Review:

Due for release February 7th is the new novel from Sophie Kinsella, “My (Not So) Perfect Life.” This is the story of a young woman, Katie, who is trying to build a design career and make it on her own in London. Katie grew up on a farm with her Dad but has always felt the pull to live in London and be a part of city life. She embellishes her life in London to friends and tries to adjust to being the new girl at the firm she is working for. Just as she is starting to form some friendships and meets one of the handsome partners, Alex – Katie gets fired by her hateful, scatter-brained boss, Demeter. Katie returns home to help her Dad and Step Mom start up a new glamping business on their farm, but says she is on a sabbatical, rather than tell them she was fired. Later, when Demeter and her family show up as guests, Katie has to face her lies and misconceptions about people. 

I honestly struggled with the first 20-30 pages of this novel. I felt like I had read this story a 1000 times, another young woman in the U.K., dissatisfied with her life, no money, crappy roommates, etc. I’m glad I stuck with it, however, because it ended up being pleasantly full of cringe-worthy, embarrassing moments, sweet moments, and huge moments of clarity. Katie did have several valid frustrations in her life, but she also had incorrect perceptions of others, causing her to exaggerate her own hardships in her mind. Katie’s character goes through a great deal of change and growth throughout the novel, becoming a much more mature and realistic version of the girl we meet at the beginning of the story. 

The theme in this novel is one that I so wish girls could learn at a younger age – everything is not as it appears. Katie thinks all of these women and co-workers have these perfect lives and tries to re-invent herself with new hair, hiding her accent, and going by “Cat” instead of Katie, all in attempts to lead the perfect lives that she thinks she sees. Fortunately, as the novel progresses, Katie learns that just because people behave in one way or do one thing, doesn’t mean this or that. Katie learns how much she misjudged Demeter, and also learns how incorrect her assumptions and perceptions of her parents and of Alex were. 

“My (Not So) Perfect Life” is a wonderful novel with young women that are chick lit fans and looking for a light and easy read. I did enjoy this novel and found myself laughing several times, however, it lacks that certain something making it unique amongst a sea of other chick lit novels. I love and admire Sophie Kinsella’s dialogue style, especially Katie’s inner-dialog, that flowed so naturally throughout the novel. Katie’s quirky and fabulous sense of humor made her very likable and someone you could relate to as if she were one of your own friends. This was a fun book, was well written and had interesting and developed characters, but there just isn’t anything about it that “wowed me” and repeatedly reminded me of Bridget Jones or countless other “single, young, struggling, career women” stories. 

*Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for providing a copy of this ARC in exchange for an honest review. 

Pre-Order “My (Not So) Perfect Life” on Amazon. 

Learn more about Sophie Kinsella by visiting her web page. 

 

Reviews

Book Review: Loving Rowen

Loving Rowan (Friends Book 1),

by Ariadne Wayne

Publication: Wendy Smith; August 16, 2014

rowenSynopsis: Rowan, Andrew, and Charlie were the best of friends for as long as they all could remember. Rowan adores Charlie because she’s another girl with a boys’ name. She’s in love with Andrew, and sure that one day they’ll live happily ever after. But when Andrew and Charlie break her heart, the painfully shy and socially awkward Rowan struggles to form new relationships.

Befriending Kyle, she quickly slots him into the best friend role vacated by Andrew, assuming that is what he wants, but Kyle has other ideas about the direction of their relationship. When Andrew’s life takes an unexpected turn, he isn’t ready to let go of the girl who grew up idolizing him. And he’s prepared to do anything to keep her.

 

My Review:

So today I decided to just randomly pick something that had been on my Kindle for awhile and just indulge in the guilty pleasure of a contemporary romance. I sat down a few hours ago with “Loving Rowen” and was completely engrossed in the story until the very end!

This is the story of a young woman named Rowen, who has grown up best friends with Andrew and Charlie. The tricky part is that she has always been in love with Andrew. When she realizes they have secretly been a couple for years, she takes off on her own. She gets her own apartment and a new job, only to learn that a gorgeous guy, Kyle, that she had met on the bus months before, is the boss’ son and works with her. Rowen and Kyle become very close friends spending most of their time together as Rowen wishes that Kyle would look at her in a romantic way. Eventually, they both fess up and you would hope that they would live happily ever after. However, after Andrew goes through a terrible loss, he sets his sights on Rowen and “suddenly” wants her in a romantic way. Rowen and Kyle go through tons of challenges and drama as they try to cope with Andrew’s possessive and creepy behaviors. 

First of all, I loved Rowen, although not at first. Initially, she seemed so withdrawn and had basically no self-esteem. However, her modesty quickly became a bonus about her personality, completely unaware of her unique beauty, loving personality, and quirky sense of humor. I fell hard and fast for Kyle who was not only described as incredibly hot, but he has to be one of the sweetest, most loving and romantic characters I have read about. He was smart, funny, patient, selfless, and incredibly loving. This was literally one of those reads where you swear you can feel the chemistry and connection between the two main characters, more like watching a movie than reading a book. I disliked Andrew and Charlie from the start, originally because of what they did to her, but then their continued behaviors confirmed how selfish and self-centered that they were. Kyle’s Dad and Rowen’s parents were also wonderful, although I wasn’t sure about Kyle’s Dad in the beginning. 

“Loving Rowen” has a variety of subplots, so don’t think that this is just a lovey-dovey romance. Rowen fights her internal battles about being betrayed by Andrew and Charlie and then trying to rebuild some sort of friendship with them. Rowen also struggles with her low self-esteem and the ability to trust Kyle and his feelings. Even worse, the poor girl has to put up with her old-timer boss at work trying to sabotage her career. Just when things seem perfect for Rowen and Kyle, then comes conflict and suspense adding even more to this story. 

I must admit I was distracted by some editing issues, but otherwise, this is another example of why I love Ariadne Wayne’s writing. Her stories always pull me in and I quickly feel connected to the characters and their circumstances. I hated that her main character thought so poorly of herself at the start of the novel, but I loved how she grew more assertive and sure of herself, as well as, what she wanted out of her life, throughout the novel. I will be reading the follow-up to this very soon, as I already have it downloaded, and am hoping that it will be just as wonderful 🙂

*Purchase Loving Rowen on Amazon. 

Learn more about Ariadne Wayne by visiting her web page. 

Reviews

Book Review: The Good Daughter

“THE GOOD DAUGHTER,”

BY ALEXANDRA BURT

PUBLICATION: BERKLEY; FEBRUARY 7, 2017

good-daughter

Synopsis: What if you were the worst crime your mother ever committed?

Dahlia Waller’s childhood memories consist of stuffy cars, seedy motels, and a rootless existence traveling the country with her eccentric mother. Now grown, she desperately wants to distance herself from that life. Yet one thing is stopping her from moving forward: she has questions.

In order to understand her past, Dahlia must go back. Back to her mother in the stifling town of Aurora, Texas. Back into the past of a woman on the brink of madness. But after she discovers three grave-like mounds on a neighboring farm, she’ll learn that in her mother’s world of secrets, not all questions are meant to be answered…

My Review:

Feeling down about your dysfunctional family? No need, just read “The Good Daughter,” by Alexandra Burt, and all of your worries will float away! Seriously, this was an absolutely amazing page-turner that you will not soon forget! 

Dahlia was raised in the backseat of her mother’s car, traveling from place to place as her mother worked jobs under the table and Dahlia couldn’t go to school because her mom had lost the necessary paperwork. Dahlia, who was initially called “Pet,” was loved by her mother, but never had any normalcy in her childhood. Once she becomes an adult she leaves her mother in Aurora, TX for fifteen years, but eventually returns. Dahlia, like her mother, must work under the table jobs where identification and social security numbers aren’t necessary, but she never knows why they don’t have the needed “paperwork.” After returning to Aurora and out jogging one day, Dahlia makes a terrifying discovery in the woods, prompting the police to visit her mother’s home. Dahlia’s mom, Memphis, suddenly seems distracted and disconnected, leading Dahlia down a strange and shocking path of discovery about her mother’s past. 

Both Dahlia and Memphis are wonderfully complex characters. The alternating points of view allow the reader to feel as if they are slowly getting to know who each character really is. The same goes for the character of Quinn, who enters the novel as a child but as the novel unfolds, we learn so much more about Quinn and the irreparable damage that can occur after sexual assault. Other characters such as Nolan and Bobby y were not as developed and after reading I wished that I had learned more about them. 

There is a lot going on in this novel and honestly, there were times I felt like the pace was slowing and I found myself skimming, but do not do this! Those areas I did try to skim ended up being re-read because every word of this novel is important to the overall storyline and conclusion. This is one of those novels that is challenging to review without including spoilers but believe me that is full of numerous surprises, twists, and turns. Dahlia is trying to deal with her past, as well as, being drawn into the incident in the woods and absorbing her mother’s changes. Bobby is struggling with finishing a case his father had begun years earlier. Then there’s Memphis, recounting the stories of Quinn, Nolan, Tain, and Aella. 

At some point, I was able to put together “who’s who” in this story, but it is still full of shocking events and brutal realities. *Warning that there are possible trigger issues involving stillbirths, murder, and sexual assault, but overall this is a beautifully written novel, despite its overall negative events and themes. I have not read Alexandra Burt’s first novel, however, I feel sure that I will now seek it out and also read any of her future publications. “The Good Daughter” is an absolutely fascinating journey through a mother and daughter’s past and present. Burt’s writing is impeccable and allows the reader to feel as if they are there with Dahlia, making all of the discoveries and coming to terms with the emotions along with her. This novel serves as a reminder of things not always appearing as they are, as well as, the torturous burden that secrets put upon people’s lives. “The Good Daughter” was an outstanding novel and one I will be mulling over in my mind for a while. 

*Thanks to First to Read for providing a copy of this ARC in exchange for an honest review. 

Pre-order “The Good Daughter” on Amazon!

Learn more about Alexandra Burt by visiting her web page. 

 

 

Author Interview, Posts

Author Interview: Adalina Mae

The other day I posted my review for Adalina Mae’s, “Nothing is Predictable,” and today I am so excited to bring you an interview with the author. I was truly fascinated by this novel so I decided that I must pick her brain a little 🙂 If you missed my review of “Nothing is Predictable,” you can see the review here

predictable

Interview with Adalina Mae 

I loved Zara’s story in “Nothing is predictable. Although a fiction novel, what parallels, if any, are there between you and Zara?

Great question Jennifer, the novel is listed as fiction, however, you can also classify it as Roman a Clef, (novel with a key) There are some true events, most scenes and all characters are fictitious. I can confirm that Zara’s childhood years, unfortunately, are my experiences. The relationship with her father and mother are based on my life.

The humor, sarcasm and wittiness are very much my character disposition. I tend to turn negative emotions into positive ones through my sense of humor. Also, the martial arts skills and business engagements are very much me. I created my wittiness into the character along with some herbs and spices if you know what I mean. Hahaha.

However, since the majority of the story is fictitious, I cannot classify it as a memoir or biography. Because really, it’s not. Only certain elements are.

Have you had the opportunity to travel as much as Zara?

All of Zara’s travels are my experiences. That is why I can describe the locations with the emotional attachment that Zara had. Of course, not in the sequence that Zara did.  

Did you associate Zara’s tendency to gravitate towards dishonest men with her abuse as a child?

Absolutely, not just from my experience, also other examples I have seen in life. When people experience childhood abuse and grow up in an unstable environment, the mental effect it has on clear judgment and perception is interesting. I undertook psychological therapy to help me understand the impact my childhood abuse has had on me. If you look at Zara’s experience as a child, who was her role model? He was a loving man when sober but her worst nightmare when drunk. So, she grew up confused not understanding how to read in between the lines.

I’ve noticed on social media and your web site that there are no photos of you (that are not blurred) or a descriptive bio regarding where you live, etc. With so many authors including pictures and details about their lives on their sites, what prompted you to remain so mysterious?

Wow, another great question, you are amazing Jennifer, you certainly did your research. You should be a journalist. Hahaha.

I don’t want to expose myself yet. I know soon I will be on TV and cannot avoid that. For now, my interest is in promoting my book not myself. I am slowly building the courage though. Exposing my childhood incidents is a big thing for me. I need to build my confidence a little more before I get out there. You know what I mean?

However, I do want to help women that have experienced similar incidents, one day I will be able to publicly share it with the press and media. If I can contribute to helping others that have suffered. I most certainly will.

What is one of your top 5 books that you’ve ever read and why do you love it?

The Power of Your Subconscious Mind by Joseph Murphy. For the past decade, I think I’ve read that book over 8 times. I feel revived when I read that. It puts me back in line when I feel my positive thinking is diverting.

I am currently reading Expectation Therapy: Mastering Your Expectations

Book by Art Costello. I am really enjoying it, although I have been flat out and slow with the progress. I am loving it and can see myself reading it often.

You’ve expressed interest in writing a novel that will be adapted for film. Who do you picture as playing Zara, Jamal, or any other characters that you’ve imagined coming to life on the screen?

Oh, yes I am. That is my ultimate dream. Funny you asked that, I am in deep thought regarding some of the characters.  I have a vision and please I must state it’s only my vision, no discussions have been done regarding that. But I do have fun with my imaginations though.

Zara – I am thinking Margot Robbie, she is witty, athletic, I can see her do martial arts and play the role perfectly. I also like Emilia Clarke, I love her, my Khaleesee from Game of Thrones hahaha.

Jamal – Henry Cavil all the way baby. I love him, I love his character and has the right accent. Considering Jamal was from London.

Leandro – Since writing that chapter, the only one I vision that has the Spanish look that I want is William Levy. I am obsessed with him, I think with his looks and physique he would be perfect. But in the contract, the sex rehearsal scenes must be with me though. Hahaha. Gosh! If only!  Step aside Zara, he is mine.

Livio – The Swiss God – Oh dear! This one is a tough one. He must be someone that melts you when watching him. How does Mario Rodrigues sound? Hubba hubba.

Can you imagine a movie with all the above actors in it? There will be endless line-ups at the movies. All of them in one movie. You would need therapy after that.

I’m assuming, based on the ending of “Nothing is Predictable,” that Zara wants to find out more about her father’s death. Can you give us any hints about “Nothing Can Last Forever?”

Well, I can’t say much. I don’t want to spoil it, but I can say, that is resolved in the sequel. Lots of drama there and more romance. Zara hasn’t learned her lesson yet.

When not reading or writing, what is your favorite way to pass the time?

I love movies and series. I do have a ridiculous attachment there.

I also like my beach strolls early in the morning before sunrise. As in 4:30am. I love being on that beach to watch the sunrise as I meditate.

Thank you, Jennifer, I really enjoyed this interview and best of luck in your career.

Thanks so much to Adalina Mae for sharing a little with readers! I especially loved the responses to her ideal actors to play her characters in a movie 🙂 

Purchase “NOTHING IS PREDICTABLE” on Amazon.

 

Reviews

Book Review: Scattered Souls

“SCATTERED SOULS” (FLAMES OF TIME BOOK 2),

BY ERICA LUCKE DEAN

PUBLICATION:  RED ADEPT PUBLISHING, LLC;

JANUARY 10, 2017

scattered

Synopsis: Ava Flynn is cursed.

After barely surviving an epic battle between her warring soul mates, Ava is stranded in the past with Laith, while Maddox frantically searches across the decades. Laith will stop at nothing to prove his love to Ava, and a desperate Maddox must race against time to find her before his brother can win her heart.

Torn between the two brothers, and with her eternal soul at stake, Ava comes to the horrifying conclusion that only she can break the curse. But the cost may be more than she is willing to pay.

 

 

My Review:

Once again I was completely engrossed and consumed by Maddox and Laith in Erica Lucke Dean’s latest in the Flames of Time series, “Scattered Souls.” After a dramatic cliffhanger in book one, this book picked up right where we left off last time with Laith and Ava traveling into the past, leaving Maddox alone on the cliffs wondering where they went. Maddox works to determine not only where Laith may have taken Ava, but also what date and year he may have taken her to. In the meantime, Laith and Ava are in Chicago in the 1920’s, but soon Laith starts taking Ava on dream excursions while trying to win her love. After Maddox eventually finds them, the fighting between the brothers continues as Ava tries to figure out how to go back and stop the curse herself. 

Book 1 seemed to be more from Maddox and Ava’s point of view, as to where Book 2 focused more on getting to know more about Laith. Just like Ava, I found myself shifting more towards Team Laith throughout this novel and was completely rooting for him. Ava is still confused about her feelings for both Maddox and Laith due to her feelings when she is with either of them versus what each brother says about the other. All three of their souls are joined resulting in a constant back and forth pull and conflict for Ava, as well as, each brother constantly being drawn to her. Of course, I don’t want to include any spoilers, but a lot happens in this book with all three of them traveling to different times and places facing several conflicts. As I said before, the brothers are still trying to beat each other and “win” Ava for themselves and Ava’s trying to figure out how to undo the curse, resulting in non-stop action.

I loved how the author weaved in known artists, venues and events in this novel to help the reader connect with Ava’s experiences, and I also loved the realistic historical references and connections. Again, I did switch to Team Laith in this book, although I was absolutely rooting for Maddox in Book 1. Laith was presented in such a different light this time, showing his real self and real emotions. Maddox also revealed more of his real self, I think, although not quite in the positive light that Laith was shown. I was frustrated with Ava’s decisions several times, although I can’t go into that without spoilers. I love her character and can’t imagine being torn the way that she is, but I wished she would have been more determined and decisive at times. 

Erica Lucke Dean’s writing is flawless, she creates complex and well-developed characters, and manages to make the impossible seem very possible. After reading her last book in this series, I knew not to even start “Scattered Souls” unless I had time to finish it in one sitting – and I was right because it was impossible to put down once I started. I loved this novel from start to finish, although it has another major cliffhanger ending. However, the ending just makes me more eager for the next book in this series and the opportunity to read more from Erica Lucke Dean. I highly recommend this novel for anyone who enjoys romance mixed with some action, time-travel, mystical events, and romance!

*Many thanks to the author for providing a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Purchase “Scattered Souls” on Amazon. 

Learn more about Erica Lucke Dean by visiting her web page! And – read a hilarious waxing story! 🙂 

Reviews

Review: Nothing is Predictable

“NOTHING IS PREDICTABLE,” BY ADALINA MAE

PUBLICATION: SEPTEMBER 1, 2016

predictableSynopsis: Zara is a vibrant, funny, resilient American-born woman struggling with a traumatic past. When Zara is eight years old, her father, in a drunken rampage, accidentally shoots himself dead, leaving her to battle through her life.

Zara’s long exhausting journey dealing with her childhood memories leaves her struggling with romance and hinders her from developing healthy relationships.

Who is the love of her life? Is it her Swiss God? Will she be able to find peace and happiness?

Readers will relate to the journey that Adalina Mae takes us on, which is interspersed with heartbreaking moments as well as hilarious escapades. This is life and nothing is predictable.

The story will keep you on your toes and offers mysteries to solve: Why does Zara have recurrent nightmares of her last night with her father? Who does Zara end up with? Does she eventually find love?

My Review

I started reading “Nothing is Predictable” this morning, but wanted to mull it all over before writing a review. Adalina Mae’s story of Zara and her life experiences is incredible. It’s often sad, sometimes funny, sometimes frustrating, and sometimes confusing. But overall, this is a very moving novel about an incredibly strong woman. 

The novel’s setting changes often but is primarily set in Lebanon or Los Angeles. Zara’s family is from Lebanon, she was born in the United States, but her family returns to Lebanon for several years to live, and so on. Very early in Zara’s childhood, she endures abuse, observes the violence of her alcoholic father, observes her mother being abused, and then is faced with the death of her father. This is not a happy-go-lucky idyllic childhood, but one where you stop and wonder several times how she survived. As she grows up, Zara is successful in school and does her best to help her mother while attending college. Zara has the good fortune of being very talented, therefore, an early start in a singing career allows her and her mother financial comfort despite her father having died and leaving them nothing. She became incredibly successful singing and performing, but also became a very successful business owner early in her adult years. Although impressive, I felt that the reader wasn’t provided as much detail regarding her education and businesses regarding the ins and outs of what she did, why she was so financially successful and so on. Especially the question of how in the world did this young woman run a business and have so much time for vacation and traveling around the world?

Several men make appearances as romantic interests including Sebastian, Jamal, Tariq, Livio, and Leandro. A recurring issue is Zara’s interests in Muslim men rather than Christians, which was an enormous issue for both families. Another recurring theme was Zara meeting and falling for dishonest men that deceived her and her family in many ways. Unfortunately, Zara repeatedly was drawn to bad guys, but I also noticed that even when things were still good within these relationships Zara frequently had an “out of sight, out of mind” attitude or she experience feelings of unrest where she just wasn’t feeling connected to the men but wasn’t sure why. 

Zara’s mother, siblings and several nieces and nephews remained a constant positive in her life despite any other hardships, however, throughout her early adulthood she experienced nightmares about her father, anger regarding his alcoholism and an overall lack of peace about her father’s life and untimely death. One of my favorite parts is her trip back to the church and cemetery after spending time meditating and discussing her past with a Buddhist Monk. My heart broke for her as she spoke to the wall of her father’s crypt and as she allowed herself to feel emotions that she had suppressed since childhood. 

I was impressed by the powerful yet realistic themes in “Nothing is Predictable,” especially the importance and healing properties of forgiveness. I also applauded and respected Zara’s realization that perhaps she isn’t meant to be married and have some epic love story, but instead that she is most successful when enriching her own life with her own successes and experiences. But most importantly was the message of overcoming hardships and being successful and happy. Zara demonstrated that abuse and trauma during childhood do not have to strangle your entire existence. This novel tells the story of a woman that may not have always been lucky in love and relationships, but was determined to build a successful and fulfilling life that was free of fear or regrets. 

One complaint or struggle that I had while reading was the writing style. Something about it felt choppy at times and almost too straightforward. The dialogue, both inner and outer, was frequently very simple and direct rather than inspiring the reader to reflect on the situations and consider various conclusions or realities. Otherwise, this was a fantastic story well worth reading.  Reading “Nothing is Predictable” absolutely inspires optimism and positive thoughts, reminding the reader that they are strong and can overcome life’s challenges. 

*Many thanks to the author for providing a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. 

Purchase “Nothing is Predictable” on Amazon. 

Learn more about Adalina Mae by visiting her web page. 

Reviews

Book Review: One Magic Kiss

One Magic Kiss, by Holly Cortelyou

Publication: January 27, 2017

 Synopsis: 

With a hopping downtown bar and launching a whole new career adventure, Jake Sterling is much too busy for romance. Besides, he’s already had his heart broken by a cheating ex, so why would he take a chance on love now? But one spilled drink, a perfect lemon cake, and Cara Winslet’s sparkling eyes, might be the very things to change his mind.

Cara Winslet should’ve been on top of the world with a dream job in a lovely Oregon hamlet…but she’s in a love slump. Between getting stood up at a bar and some crazy texts from an ex, why would she even look twice at the sexy, soulful bar owner, Jake?

Can a sprinkling of faerie love dust bring these Valentine hearts together?

My Review:

Due out this week is a sweet, romantic novelette, One Magic Kiss, by Holly Cortelyou. This begins with Violet – bakery owner/spell-maker – in her bakery making some delicious-sounding goodies for Valentine’s Day. When the handsome Jake Sterling walks in, she thinks about his broken heart and how none of her love spells have worked on him. When she spots her new renter and new librarian in town, Cara Winslet, she decides that they would be a perfect match. Jake and Cara keep bumping into each other around town and also both keep hearing the same love songs and voices in their heads as the reader wonders if Violet’s magic lemon cakes will bring these two together! 

Jake and Cara’s story is very short but still a sweet Valentine’s story. It appears that Jake has no interest in finding love at the beginning of the story and is busy running the family bar, as well as, planning an organic farming business. Cara has left the hustle and bustle of the city to work as a librarian in tiny Timber Falls and is also recovering from a recent break-up. After a few spills and awkward moments between them, their chemistry is off the charts! Although intended to be a short novelette, I would have loved a longer story with these characters because they were fantastic, as is the idea of Timber Falls. I don’t want to say much more because I don’t want to give anything away 🙂

I have been a huge fan of Holly Cortelyou and her romance novels for quite awhile, and One Magic Kiss is just another example of her talent and passion that goes into her writing. Anyone in the mood for a sweet romance that leaves you believing in love, this is the novelette to curl up on the couch with! It has the perfect combination of realism, magic, romance and wonder. It has absolutely gotten me in the mood for Valentine’s Day 🙂

*Many thanks to Holly Cortelyou for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review. 

Learn more about Holly Cortelyou and her wonderful romance novels! 

Posts

What Am I Reading?

So many fantastic books, but so little time! Here is what I am planning to read and review in the next week, but of course it could always change. Let me know if you know of something you think I should check out 🙂

“The Good Daughter,” by Alexandra Burt

Publication: Berkley; February 7, 2017

good-daughterSynopsis: What if you were the worst crime your mother ever committed?

Dahlia Waller’s childhood memories consist of stuffy cars, seedy motels, and a rootless existence traveling the country with her eccentric mother. Now grown, she desperately wants to distance herself from that life. Yet one thing is stopping her from moving forward: she has questions.

In order to understand her past, Dahlia must go back. Back to her mother in the stifling town of Aurora, Texas. Back into the past of a woman on the brink of madness. But after she discovers three grave-like mounds on a neighboring farm, she’ll learn that in her mother’s world of secrets, not all questions are meant to be answered…

 

“My (not so) Perfect Life,” by Sophie Kinsella

Publication: The Dial Press; February 7, 2017

not-so-perfect

Synopsis: Everywhere Katie Brenner looks, someone else is living the life she longs for, particularly her boss, Demeter Farlowe. Demeter is brilliant and creative, lives with her perfect family in a posh townhouse, and wears the coolest clothes. Katie’s life, meanwhile, is a daily struggle—from her dismal rental to her oddball flatmates to the tense office politics she’s trying to negotiate. No wonder Katie takes refuge in not-quite-true Instagram posts, especially as she’s desperate to make her dad proud.

Then, just as she’s finding her feet—not to mention a possible new romance—the worst happens. Demeter fires Katie. Shattered but determined to stay positive, Katie retreats to her family’s farm in Somerset to help them set up a vacation business. London has never seemed so far away—until Demeter unexpectedly turns up as a guest. Secrets are spilled and relationships rejiggered, and as the stakes for Katie’s future get higher, she must question her own assumptions about what makes for a truly meaningful life.

Sophie Kinsella is celebrated for her vibrant, relatable characters and her great storytelling gifts. Now she returns with all of the wit, warmth, and wisdom that are the hallmarks of her bestsellers to spin this fresh, modern story about presenting the perfect life when the reality is far from the truth.

“Nothing is Predictable,” by Adalina Mae

Publication: September 1, 2016

predictableSynopsis: Zara is a vibrant, funny, resilient American-born woman struggling with a traumatic past. When Zara is eight years old, her father, in a drunken rampage, accidentally shoots himself dead, leaving her to battle through her life.

Zara’s long exhausting journey dealing with her childhood memories leaves her struggling with romance and hinders her from developing healthy relationships.

Who is the love of her life? Is it her Swiss God? Will she be able to find peace and happiness?

Readers will relate to the journey that Adalina Mae takes us on, which is interspersed with heartbreaking moments as well as hilarious escapades. This is life and nothing is predictable.

The story will keep you on your toes and offers mysteries to solve: Why does Zara have recurrent nightmares of her last night with her father? Who does Zara end up with? Does she eventually find love?

“Scattered Souls” (Flames of Time Book 2),

by Erica Lucke Dean

Publication:  Red Adept Publishing, LLC; January 10, 2017

scatteredSynopsis: Ava Flynn is cursed.

After barely surviving an epic battle between her warring soul mates, Ava is stranded in the past with Laith, while Maddox frantically searches across the decades. Laith will stop at nothing to prove his love to Ava, and a desperate Maddox must race against time to find her before his brother can win her heart.

Torn between the two brothers, and with her eternal soul at stake, Ava comes to the horrifying conclusion that only she can break the curse. But the cost may be more than she is willing to pay.

 

 

 

“Setting Free the Kites,” by Alex George

Publication:  G.P. Putnam’s Sons; February 21, 2017

setting-free-the-kitesSynopsis: For Robert Carter, life in his coastal Maine hometown is comfortably predictable. But in 1976, on his first day of eighth grade, he meets Nathan Tilly, who changes everything. Nathan is confident, fearless, impetuous—and fascinated by kites and flying. Robert and Nathan’s budding friendship is forged in the crucible of two family tragedies, and as the boys struggle to come to terms with loss, they take summer jobs at the local rundown amusement park. It’s there that Nathan’s boundless capacity for optimism threatens to overwhelm them both, and where they learn some harsh truths about family, desire, and revenge.

Unforgettable and heart-breaking, Setting Free the Kites is a poignant and moving exploration of the pain, joy, and glories of young friendship.

Reviews

Book Review: Games People Play

“GAMES PEOPLE PLAY,”

BY OWEN MULLEN

PUBLICATION: BLOODHOUND BOOKS; JANUARY 16, 2017

games-people-playSynopsis: 

Thirteen-month-old Lily Hamilton is abducted from Ayr beach in Scotland while her parents are just yards away.

Three days later the distraught father turns up at private investigator Charlie Cameron’s office. Mark Hamilton believes he knows who has stolen his daughter. And why.

Against his better judgment Charlie gets involved In the case and when more bodies are discovered the awful truth dawns: there is a serial killer whose work has gone undetected for decades.

Is baby Lily the latest victim of a madman?

For Charlie it’s too late, he can’t let go.

His demons won’t let him.

My Review:

To begin – what an outstanding novel! “Games People Play” is the recent suspense/crime/thriller release from author Owen Mullen and it was amazing. The novel begins with Jennifer Hamilton almost drowning and while her husband, Mark rescues her someone kidnaps their young baby, Lily. A few days later we meet Charlie Cameron, a private investigator that specializes in locating missing people, although he’s not exactly overloaded with clients and cases. Mark Hamilton thinks that his daughter’s disappearance is tied to Donna, an angry woman that he had an affair with, and hires Charlie to locate her. Despite Charlie’s pleading with the man to contact the police about the matter, Mark wants it kept a private investigation, and Charlie agrees. Soon after, Charlie is hired by another family searching for their daughter, Alison, who disappeared after a night out with friends. Charlie soon finds himself, and his sort-of assistant, Pat, searching for someone that may have kidnapped a baby, as well as, a young woman that may have run off with her older teacher. 

As the novel progresses, we are introduced to Andrew Geddes, a police detective and longtime friend of Charlie’s, Jackie, who manages the bar in the NYB building where Charlie’s office is located, a rocker chick named Kat, and many other interesting characters that enrich the story. Early on, the author reveals Charlie’s drive in locating missing persons and that it involves a girl named Pamela, but those details are released slowly throughout the novel. It is also learned that Charlie has ongoing issues with his successful father, who deals in politics and whiskey-making. Other fascinating characters are Ronnie, a retired police detective that worked Pamela’s case, Lucy, Donna’s alcoholic sister, and a young mail-order bride that shows up from Thailand expecting to marry Alison’s older teacher, Frank.

I hope that wasn’t all overwhelming but there are so many characters and subplots it’s difficult to review this novel without somewhat of an overview of all the different players involved, as well as, all of their different issues. The author has created an enormous variety of personalities in this book which added to the suspense and surprise. I found myself constantly questioning different character’s motives and wondering who was telling the truth about what. Little by little things begin to unfold and reveal themselves, several of which I never expected or saw coming!

I did struggle with some of the relationship dynamics in the novel, especially between Charlie and Jackie. Perhaps I missed something important early on, but I was never clear as to the reasoning behind their constant bickering. I also found Charlie’s relationship with Kat rather awkward, not sure if it was her or him, but it just felt like something was missing. While reading I learned a lot of in-depth information about several characters, several that were wonderfully complex, but with Charlie, I was left wanting a little more. I think he could have been further developed, especially since I honestly have no idea what the man even looked like. 

 Other than those small characterization issues, I found this novel to be fast-paced, surprising, gripping, and it left me dying to read the next installment. Owen Mullen has become one of my favorite authors in one day and “Games People Play” has quickly landed on my Top 20 Books Ever list. With the flawless writing, non-stop suspense and twists and turns, this is about as good as it gets when it comes to a suspense/crime thriller. Bravo to Owen Mullen, I cannot wait to read more from him in the future!

*Many thanks to the author for providing a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. 

Purchase “Games People Play” on Amazon. 

Cover Reveal

Cover Reveal: The Practice Boyfriend

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About the Author:
Award-Winning author, Christina Benjamin, lives in Florida with her husband, and character inspiring pets, where she spends her free time working on her books and speaking to inspire fellow writers.

Christina is best known for her wildly popular Young Adult series, The Geneva Project.
Her best-selling novel, The Geneva Project – Truth, has won multiple awards and stolen the hearts of YA readers. Packed with magic and imagination, her epic tale of adventure hooks fans of mega-hit YA fiction like Harry Potter, The Hunger Games and Percy Jackson.


Christina loves to read and write across genres. YA is her favorite but she’s a sucker for a good love story. Don’t miss her romance, paranormal and historical fiction, as well as the multiple anthologies she’s been a part of.


Awards:

FAPA President’s Gold Medalist (YA Fiction)
London Book Festival – Runner-Up (Young Adult Category)
Litpik Top Choice Award – (YA fiction)
Reader’s Favorite Silver Medalist – (YA Fiction)
Tybee Island Book Award Gold Medalist – (YA Fiction)




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Title:  The Practice Boyfriend
Author:  Christina Benjamin
To Be Published:  January 24th, 2017
Genre:  Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary Romance
Recommended Age:  16+
Synopsis:
Nobody likes Cody Matthews, including Cody Matthews. And why should they? He got his high school girlfriend pregnant and then almost killed them both while driving drunk. That’s why he’s perfect for Hannah. She’d never fall for someone like him.
Hannah Stark is a high school senior with a resume of straight A’s. She’s never stepped a toe out of line. But that’s also why she’s never had a boyfriend. While all her classmates are counting down the days until graduation, Hannah is dragging her feet. She can’t believe she’ll be leaving her adolescents behind without ever taking a chance to be wild and free. That’s why she’s set her sights on Harrison.
Harrison Cohl is everything Hannah wants to be. Gorgeous, wealthy, popular and wild. He’s also notorious for the legendary masquerade ball he throws every year. And this year Hannah is determined to be invited. And have Harrison as her date.
Her plan is crazy. But she’s convinced she just needs a little practice to make her high school resume perfect.
Excerpt:


The helicopter ride reminded Hannah of the terrifying rides at the fair. The ones she could never bring herself to brave as she sat enviously watching couples cling to each other with an equal balance of fear and love as their world spun out of control. She was finally seeing that’s what relationships were—finding someone to hold onto in the chaos and hoping they wouldn’t let go.




Book Trailer:

 

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Bonus:

Download Christina Benjamin’s award-winning YA Fantasy, The Geneva Project – Truth, for FREE!



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