Author: Christopher Steinsvold
Title: The Book of Ralph
Genre(s): Science fiction & fantasy; First contact; Humor
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Review: This book was written in such a way that made it unique from anything I have ever read before in the science fiction genre. Christopher provides readers with a wealth of witty comedy that had me literally laughing out loud. I have found it fairly difficult to read humorous novels because most who attempt are unable to convey it in a meaningful way through the written word. I much prefer my comedic relief to be spoken to me; however, The Book of Ralph was artfully crafted and left me feeling elated. Although the reader has every opportunity to enjoy this book as just a comedy, Christopher eloquently discusses relevant social topics that the human race has battled with since the beginning of our time through Ralph's character. Ralph is extremely likable and makes the messages Christopher conveys even more thought provoking because of it. I do not think I would have taken a step back and thought about the various topics as much as I did if Ralph was obnoxious or pushy as a character. Despite this being a book about Ralph, I think this novel could have been even better with more developed supporting characters. An increase in character development would have made it more well-rounded. With that being said, I thoroughly enjoyed it and I recommend it to anyone who is looking for well crafted written humor with underlying philosophical messages.
Book Description: "A message appears on the moon. It is legible from Earth, and almost no one knows how it was created. Markus West leads the government’s investigation to find the creator. The message is simple and familiar. But those three words, written in blazing crimson letters on the lunar surface, will foster the strangest revolution humankind has ever endured and make Markus West wish he was never involved. The message is ‘Drink Diet Coke.’ When Coca-Cola denies responsibility, global annoyance becomes indignation. And when his investigation confirms Coca-Cola’s innocence, Markus West becomes one of the most hated men on Earth. Later, five miles above the White House, a cylinder is discovered floating in the night. It is 400 feet tall, 250 feet in diameter, and exactly resembles a can of Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup. Nearly everyone thinks the cylinder is a promotional stunt gone wrong, just like the lunar advertisement. And this is exactly what the alien in the cylinder wants people to think. Ralph, an eccentric extraterrestrial who’s been hiding on the moon, needs Markus’s help to personally deliver a dark warning to the White House. Ralph has a big heart, a fetish for Andy Warhol, and a dangerous plan to save the world."
Author: E.J. Mellow
Title: The Animal Under the Fur
Genre(s): Action & adventure; New adult & college
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Review: This action-packed novel had me intrigued from the very first chapter and kept me turning the pages until the end. We are first introduced to 3, also known as Nashville. She is a KI6 operative who has superhuman abilities, which makes her the best in the game. During her work, she utilizes the name 3, but when she is at home with her only friend, Ceci, she goes by Nashville. While fulfilling her duties on what seems to be a typical mission, she encounters an operative from another agency named Carter. To say they loath one another would be an understatement. The hateful chemistry between 3 and Carter oozes off the page and it makes the journey so interesting, since they end up having to work together. E.J. craftily created an entertaining relationship between the two operatives that didn't leave me feeling tired and bored of their annoyance with one another. As the story develops, they both begin to understand how similar they are, which creates a different kind of tension since they are both described as highly attractive. Additionally, in the beginning and middle portions of the journey readers get to see much more of 3 than they do Nashville. However, as Nashville becomes more dominant, readers soon learn what has impacted her to repress the more human side of her. Some of the twists were predictable, while others were not and I was pleasantly surprised by the ending. While this novel does have thrilling action, character development, humorous supporting characters, and steamy romance, I decided to give it 4.5 stars due to the way it was written. We get the point of view of 3, Nashville, and Carter. Although I think E.J. did a good job at shifting at appropriate times, there were a few chapters that I had to really concentrate on the individual's POV because the writing was not distinctly 3 or Carter. They were so similar at times that I became confused, and it wasn't even for the same character. Besides that, I wold highly recommend it.
Background: "Orphaned on the streets as a baby, Nashville Brown, a.k.a Kill Operative 3, knows better than to rely on anyone. With heightened senses and superhuman strength to survive, she’s been raised as the perfect assassin. The trick to her success? Keeping everyone, even her best friend, at arm’s length. Losing his entire family in the span of a year, Carter Smith left his ability to love buried deep in their graves. His only concerns now are completing his missions and effortlessly charming the next temptress to warm his bed. The key to his accomplishments? Working alone mixed with a Casanova smile. But when a deadly weapon needs to be stopped from falling into the wrong hands, the lone wolves find themselves thrown into an explosive partnership. Can Carter and 3 lower their guns aimed at one another long enough to succeed, or will their unwillingness to compromise end up destroying more than their perfect records? Whatever their differences, both agree on one thing—in the game of lies and deceit, the line between friend and foe is often blurred by blood splatter."
Author: T.L. Martin
Title: Touched by Death
Genre(s): New adult & college; Paranormal; Romance
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Review: This book pulled my heart strings in all the right directions. From the moment we meet Lou, readers are graced with her strong willed personality to move on from her heartbreaking past and create a new life for herself. She is an incredibly likable character that will keep you rooting for her along the entire journey. Just a few chapters in, readers are jolted by a tragedy that almost leaves Lou to the fate of her lost loved ones. However, we soon discover that it is simply the beginning of a twisty tale that will leave you guessing until the very end. T. L. Martin did an amazing job at weaving in Lou's supporting characters with just the right amount of scene time and character development of their own. I really enjoyed both Bobby and Claire's characters as they added a lot to the storyline and helped make Lou's character more relatable as a young woman. The essence and plot of this novel is something I have never come across before and I feel very thankful that I did because it was refreshing, unique, and jolting. As to prevent against spoilers, I will not go into detail about the love affair that Lou experiences, except to say it is one for the ages that brings a level of sultry, heat, and passion that was eloquently written and conveyed. Touched by Death has a little something for almost everyone as it encompasses mystery, coming of age, paranormal interest, friendship, grief, and romance all in one perfectly crafted journey.
Book Description: "What if Death was more tempting than you had ever imagined? With Grams's recent passing and a boyfriend who cares more about his next drink than her, Lou Adaire only wants to run. To start over somewhere new -- maybe in a town where her family has history. But when a storm sends Lou's truck plunging into Tuttle Creek Lake, she discovers exactly what it's like to fight for your life. To gasp for air only to have your lungs fill with icy water. To die. What comes next changes everything. Dark eyes. Consuming presence. Death. As vague as a dream yet as intense as the lightning flashing above her still heart.Everything about him calls out to her, tugging at her with the warm vibration of his pull. He's supposed to take her; they both know it. She wants him to. When she wakes in the hospital in a new town, she can't forget what she saw. That impossible sensation of him breathing life back into her, a strong beat playing in her chest and a flutter running down her spine. Trying to move on with her life in a foreign place is hard enough, but when he comes back for more -- his burning touch against her skin, his consuming presence weaving in and out of her life, and his own scars running far deeper than hers -- Lou begins to realize there's more to Death, and to the sleepy Kansas town, than she ever expected to find. Lou lived. But what if she's not the only one in need of saving? *CONTENT WARNING: Contains some profanity, sex, and some child abuse."
Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
"In a land without magic, where the king rules with an iron hand, an assassin is summoned to the castle. She comes not to kill the king, but to win her freedom. If she defeats twenty-three killers, thieves, and warriors in a competition, she is released from prison to serve as the king's champion. Her name is Celaena Sardothien. The Crown Prince will provoke her. The Captain of the Guard will protect her. But something evil dwells in the castle of glass--and it's there to kill. When her competitors start dying one by one, Celaena's fight for freedom becomes a fight for survival, and a desperate quest to root out the evil before it destroys her world."
Final Girls by Riley Sager
"Ten years ago, college student Quincy Carpenter went on vacation with five friends and came back alone, the only survivor of a horror movie–scale massacre. In an instant, she became a member of a club no one wants to belong to—a group of similar survivors known in the press as the Final Girls. Lisa, who lost nine sorority sisters to a college dropout's knife; Sam, who went up against the Sack Man during her shift at the Nightlight Inn; and now Quincy, who ran bleeding through the woods to escape Pine Cottage and the man she refers to only as Him. The three girls are all attempting to put their nightmares behind them and, with that, one another. Despite the media's attempts, they never meet. Now, Quincy is doing well—maybe even great, thanks to her Xanax prescription. She has a caring almost-fiancé, Jeff; a popular baking blog; a beautiful apartment; and a therapeutic presence in Coop, the police officer who saved her life all those years ago. Her memory won’t even allow her to recall the events of that night; the past is in the past. That is until Lisa, the first Final Girl, is found dead in her bathtub, wrists slit; and Sam, the second, appears on Quincy's doorstep. Blowing through Quincy's life like a whirlwind, Sam seems intent on making Quincy relive the past, with increasingly dire consequences, all of which makes Quincy question why Sam is really seeking her out. And when new details about Lisa's death come to light, Quincy's life becomes a race against time as she tries to unravel Sam's truths from her lies, evade the police and hungry reporters, and, most crucially, remember what really happened at Pine Cottage, before what was started ten years ago is finished."
Bared to You by Sylvia Day
"He was beautiful and brilliant, jagged and white-hot. I was drawn to him as I'd never been to anything or anyone in my life. I craved his touch like a drug, even knowing it would weaken me. I was flawed and damaged, and he opened those cracks in me so easily...Gideon knew. He had demons of his own. And we would become the mirrors that reflected each other's most private worlds...and desires. The bonds of his love transformed me, even as I prayed that the torment of our pasts didn't tear us apart..."
Storm Unleashed by Ednah Walters
"Nanny to a wealthy family, eighteen-year old Alexandria “Lexi” Greendale sends most of what she earns home to support her disabled brother. She is determined to help him get the surgery he needs to walk again. Her dreams come to an abrupt halt when she rescues a man from drowning. How does he repay her? Captain Storm Orath abducts her, claims her as his chosen mate, and takes her to a magical island that is centuries behind times with barbaric customs."
Defining Her by Samantha March
"Nellie Hawthorne is a woman who has it all. A devoted husband, her own business, a wealthy lifestyle. But the Nellie she is now is much different from her past. A past filled with abuse, addiction, and men. Nellie’s carefully constructed new life is suddenly in jeopardy when a blast from the past emerges in her small town and her overbearing mother-in-law starts pushing for grandchildren and questions start being asked. A budding new friendship presents itself at an opportune time, and a once friendless Nellie finds herself growing closer to Prue Doherty. Prue Doherty is the quintessential good girl. Always making the right decisions, always playing it safe. Until she meets a man that could change all of that. Still reeling from a devastating breakup and betrayal that had her fleeing from Chicago and settling into suburb life with her mom close by, Prue finds herself in a damaging funk. But everything changes when she befriends Nellie Hawthorne. Nellie is trying to escape her past. Prue wants that perfect future. While both women strive to change their lives, they continue to cling to the past. But what defines us? Who we were then . . . or who we are trying to be now? Lies, manipulation, and deceit are woven throughout the pages of this edgy women’s fiction novel, with an ending you won’t see coming. *This novel contains adult content, graphic language and disturbing situations."
Stolen Songs by Samantha Armstrong
"Maddison is a survivor. An unstable childhood has taught her to depend on no one but herself, which is exactly how she’s gotten to where she is today. With a scholarship to one of the most prestigious schools in the country, she’s finally able to settle into one location until she graduates. But with foster parents hooked on drugs, Maddison is forced to steal to make ends meet, not only for herself but her foster siblings. Kingsley is filthy rich. An only child, he lives with a mother who is dependent on alcohol, a father who doesn’t talk to him, and his chef, the only real family he has. His life changes when he overhears Maddison playing the cello. She’s snappy, hot, and wants nothing to do with him, and he’s obsessed. As they spend time together, she begins to lower her guard. She’s everything he needs, everything he wants, and for the first time, he’s able to tell someone about his past. Everything is perfect. Until he ruins it. STOLEN SONGS is a heartfelt and heartbreaking story of letting go of your past when it means taking hold of your future, finding strength in your mistakes, and giving everything you’ve got to heal the ones you’ve broken. *CONTENT WARNING: Contains profanity, sex, and drug abuse."
Author: Tricia Levenseller
Title: Daughter of the Pirate King
Genre(s): Teen and young adult; Action and adventure; Pirates; Romance
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Review: If you are looking for a novel that has a strong female lead, contains great character growth, and has a touch of sensual romance then I highly recommend Daughter of the Pirate King. In this captivating and action packed novel, readers follow Alosa, who is the daughter of the pirate king. Although our first introduction to Alosa indicates that she has been captured by a rival pirate lord, readers soon learn that she has a plan up her own sleeve that is revealed as her journey continues. Initially, I thought that Alosa was simple and had a one-track mind, but as the story unfolded I saw many sides to her that made her even more alluring. Her strong will and quick wit kept me turning the page to learn what she would do next. Not only do readers get a strong and charismatic female lead, but they get an enigmatic and compassionate male character named Riden. When he was first introduced I could tell there was something different about him when compared to his brother and the other crew members. As the relationship between him and Alosa develop, we get a glimpse of his past that has shaped him into the person he is. Through their journey, Alosa and Riden grow in their own ways, but each influencing the other. Aside from the character development, Tricia does an amazing job with scene descriptions. I could close my eyes and picture exactly what she had conveyed. I also enjoyed that there was always an adventure to be had, and although action-packed, the intensity of those scenes didn't take away from the plot or character development.
Book Description: "Sent on a mission to retrieve an ancient hidden map—the key to a legendary treasure trove—seventeen-year-old pirate captain Alosa deliberately allows herself to be captured by her enemies, giving her the perfect opportunity to search their ship. More than a match for the ruthless pirate crew, Alosa has only one thing standing between her and the map: her captor, the unexpectedly clever and unfairly attractive first mate Riden. But not to worry, for Alosa has a few tricks up her sleeve, and no lone pirate can stop the Daughter of the Pirate King. In Daughter of the Pirate King, debut author Tricia Levenseller blends action, adventure, romance, and a little bit of magic into a thrilling YA pirate tale."
Author: Samantha Armstrong
Title: Stolen Songs
Genre(s): Romance; New adult and college; Teen and young adult
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Review: This novel brought me back to a time in life that was filled with growth, angst, joy, and sorrow. It was marvelously crafted and portrayed the life of troubled teens with incredible accuracy. In Stolen Songs we follow Maddy and Hamish who come from separate worlds on all accounts, but share the love of classical music. Maddy is a foster child who has taken on the role of caretaker for her foster siblings because her foster parents are incompetent, neglectful, and abusive. Hamish grew up with extreme privilege, but his 'perfect' life is not as it appears. Although they attend the same high school, they do not communicate with one another until Hamish witnesses Maddy playing the cello. As the music begins to connect their souls, they develop a monumental relationship with one another. Samantha did an incredible job at moving their relationship at a reasonable pace that represents what it is like to fall in love for the first time. She artfully built their connection that kept me needing to turn the pages. Despite the admirable love Maddy and Hamish share, they encounter devastating situations that threaten to tear them apart. As the reader follows their journey, you are engulfed with moments of pure bliss, despair, and hope. The general pace of the novel was perfectly proportioned to the issues that were involved and Samantha's writing style is superb for her corresponding genres.
Recommendation: I cannot recommend this book enough, especially if you enjoy new adult novels, coming of age novels, or first lover romances. You will also enjoy this book if you like to read stories that include realistic human scenarios that will pull at your heart strings. This book does contain mature content, so I do not recommend it to anyone under the age of 18 unless okayed by a parent/caretaker.
Book Description: "Maddison is a survivor. An unstable childhood has taught her to depend on no one but herself, which is exactly how she’s gotten to where she is today. With a scholarship to one of the most prestigious schools in the country, she’s finally able to settle into one location until she graduates. But with foster parents hooked on drugs, Maddison is forced to steal to make ends meet, not only for herself but her foster siblings. Kingsley is filthy rich. An only child, he lives with a mother who is dependent on alcohol, a father who doesn’t talk to him, and his chef, the only real family he has. His life changes when he overhears Maddison playing the cello. She’s snappy, hot, and wants nothing to do with him, and he’s obsessed. As they spend time together, she begins to lower her guard. She’s everything he needs, everything he wants, and for the first time, he’s able to tell someone about his past. Everything is perfect. Until he ruins it. STOLEN SONGS is a heartfelt and heartbreaking story of letting go of your past when it means taking hold of your future, finding strength in your mistakes, and giving everything you’ve got to heal the ones you’ve broken."
*CONTENT WARNING: Contains profanity, sex, and drug abuse.
Author: Jessica Koch
Title: So Near the Horizon
Genre(s): Romance; Contemporary fiction
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*I am accompanying this review with a trigger warning as it contains highly explicit material that is suitable for mature audiences only.
Review: This novel was such an incredibly challenging read, but in the best way possible. It made me feel frustrated, happy, fearful, and devastated. All feelings which I did not think I could feel from reading just one book. Each character was beautifully portrayed in a unique and authentic manner that made them stand out, despite their connections to one another. This novel is based on a true story and I think that helped immensely with the character creation and development, as well as the painful scenarios they encountered that make us all human. I found this story to be heart-wrenching, but also relatable. As much as I enjoy reading stories that take me away from my own human suffering, I found So Near the Horizon to be incredibly refreshing as it reminded me that no matter how much we think escape is necessary to survive, confronting our difficulties head on is what makes us stronger and helps to build our individuality. I would definitely say that if you are sensitive to tragic events (e.g., rape) or suicidality, then I would not recommend this book to you just as a precaution because it does contain trigger situations. However, if you are looking for a novel that is exceptionally written and will evoke every emotional response that you have, then I highly suggest giving this a shot.
Book Description: "From the moment she crosses paths with Danny, Jessica is fascinated. The dashing, confident twenty-year-old has everything she dreams of—looks, success, independence, money—and his kind, infinitely cheerful nature is spellbinding. Yet Jessica sees something else lingering underneath Danny’s perfect facade. Bit by bit, she manages to pick it apart, unveiling harrowing truths about a deeply traumatic childhood that has left more than just emotional scars. Now, far away from his home and family, he is fighting to build a normal life for himself—even though he may be destined for a future as dark as his past. Despite all adversity and against all reason, a deep and intimate love develops between Danny and Jessica. But soon they find themselves confronting the harsh realities of a superficial world, battling against prejudice and exclusion at every turn… and, worst of all, racing against time…"
Disclaimer: This book was sent to me in exchange for an honest review.
Author: Danielle Lori
Title: A Girl Named Calamity
Genre(s): Romance; Fantasy
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Review: This novel was so much fun to read. I found myself unable to put it down and I ended up finishing it very quickly. The plot contains adventure, coming of age, and stealth romance that hits you when you least expect it. I really enjoyed Calamity's adventure through several different cities that each contained their own unique cultures despite their belonging to one large realm. The cultures were very creative and it was neat to see how they all contributed to Calamity's journey. Although there wasn't a great amount of character development I still enjoyed Calamity and Weston's characters, especially when they played off one another. Calamity is a very strong-headed and stubborn woman who battles with her physical attraction to Weston. Although Weston comes across as a domineering man with a lust for control, he also has a soft side that Calamity becomes witness to on different occasions. The writing stood from Calamity's point of view, which I enjoyed reading, especially during those moments of intense passion. Readers are still able to gain a sense of what Weston feels and thinks because Danielle gave his character an exceptional gift that adds a lot to the storyline and to his character. The editing of this book was very well done as I found only a few typos and none of them were glaringly obvious or distracted from my reading enjoyment.
Recommendation: I recommend this to anyone looking for an adventure filled fantasy with a young female lead that is in the process of learning more about herself and the different areas of womanhood. I also recommend this to anyone who enjoys romance, but is looking for a novel that has so much more to offer!
Book Description: "I was a simple farm girl living in the magical land, Alyria, where men ruled and women only existed. Call me sheltered. Call me naive. I was probably both. I never expected to be the key to Alyria's destruction. The journey I was on wasn't only one to save me. But one where I had a lot of learning to do. With men. With magic. And with myself. But I wasn't alone. I had an escort. One I wasn't so sure about. But one I couldn't afford to lose and one I wasn't so sure I could even leave. I had many hopes. But the most important one was that my name wouldn't become my fate."
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Title: Crown of Midnight
Genre(s): Teen; Romance; Science fiction & dystopian; Fantasy; Action & adventure
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Review: Well I can honestly say that this series is my favorite of what I have read so far. I know that is a little presumptuous to say since I haven't made it through all of the books yet, but as soon as a start reading a book from this series I literally cannot put it down. The plot takes the reader on a journey of twists and turns and ends in a place that I never would have seen coming. It's full of adventure, betrayal, and romance - everything I love to read in a fantasy novel. The character development is amazing, especially in comparison to the first novel. Readers get to witness the beginnings of Celaena's intimate relationship with Chaol and her developing friendship with Dorian. Without giving anything away, the relationships in this installment are what had me constantly turning the pages. There is so much depth between the characters and it adds so much intrigue to the overarching storyline. The writing of this series is perfect because readers get to have the different characters' point of views, but we mainly follow Celaena. The editing was also on point - for a long novel, I only found two minor typos.
Recommendation: I recommend this book to anyone who is looking for intense adventure, a strong female lead, and sweet romance.
Book Description: "Celaena Sardothien is the king's Champion-yet she is far from loyal to the crown, for the man she serves is bent on evil. But working against her master in secret is no easy task. As Celaena tries to untangle the mysteries buried within the glass castle, she can trust no one, not even her supposed allies Crown Prince Dorian, Captain of the Guard Chaol, and foreign princess Nehemia. Then, an unspeakable tragedy shatters Celaena's world. She must decide once and for all where her loyalties lie . . . and whom she will fight for."
Author: Barbara James
Title: Starting Over: Rick
Genre(s): Multicultural; Romance; Military; Interracial
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Review: I have some mixed feelings about this novel, but for the most part I really enjoyed it. The plot is fairly unique in relation to other contemporary romances in that readers get to know a ton of details about each character prior to the development of their intimate relationship. I think Barbara provided her readers with a socially mature story that showed particular culture, racial, and religious perspectives. However, the aspect that I found somewhat dry is the writing of the characters' stories. Specifically in the beginning, readers are confronted with mass amounts of details about the characters and their lives. However, there was very minimal dialogue, even after Rick and Annelise met, the story progressed through scene and character description instead of dialogue between the two. I liked reading about their relationship and how it developed, but I think if there was more verbal exchanges between the two, the development would feel more meaningful. That being said, I think both characters were well thought out and well developed individually. The editing of this book is seriously on point. I did not come across any typos or grammatical errors, which is incredibly refreshing. Overall, I liked this book a lot for a sweet weekend read despite my issues with the writing of the characters.
Recommendation: I recommend this to anyone who is interested in a romance novel that sheds light on various cultures and how people of different pasts and experiences can come together.
Book Description: "It is orientation week at Wilder University. Annelise Perigault has just started college and is away from home. Living on her own for the first time, she struggles to navigate the social landscape. All sorts of groups seek to draw her attention, but she is drawn to the conservative-leaning student groups for a sense of belonging. That is where she believes she will find like-minded young women, those who hope to graduate in four years with their "Mrs. Degree." Rick Santelli has just started college as well. He is a returning student, however, after spending nearly a decade in the Coast Guard. Now serving in the Reserves, he is older than most of his freshman peers. Struggling to find his place as well, he is definitely interested in dating, but he can't believe how quickly things are developing with Annelise. Meeting up during orientation, they will grapple with controversies that draw them closer together and create a strong foundation for a healthy long term relationship. Taking place over six years, the story shows the ups and downs of life, love, dating, and the importance of finding the right person.
Though this is a sweet and closed door romance, there are frank discussions of sexuality."