Author: Petra March
Title: A Different Kind of Lovely
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Review: This romantic tragedy had me turning the pages at such a fast pace for many reasons. Petra beautifully crafted each scene with amazing details and descriptions of the settings and characters. It is difficult to artfully provide vivid details without sounding repetitive or verbose, but Petra was able to accomplish it very well. Her ability to create such a well established world kept me engrossed throughout the entire journey. It is novels like these that make me fall in love with the written word all over again. Additionally, the characters were well thought out and relatable in ways that evoked the emotions from me that the characters were experiencing. When I read romance novels, especially now that the market is saturated with erotica and poorly written love stories, I want to feel what the characters are going through. I want to experience the heartbreak and the triumph that love can impact on a person. Again, Petra provided her readers with characters that will conjure emotions from even the most guarded hearts. I highly recommend this novel to those who are looking for a romance that will transport you to the scenes and make you feel a gamut of emotions.
Book Description: "“A man with a damaged soul fell in love with a ballerina with a broken body.” When Neal Medwin glimpses Mina Automne for the first time, he's a man whose soul is darkened with memories of a painful past, whereas Mina is a vibrant, strong, young woman. She's a determined ballerina who's carefully planning and painting her life. Neal steps into her existence and threatens to shatter Mina's plans with an impossible request. Mina can't help the fragile man who's invading her home, even though their parents used to be close friends and she knows of Neal's hurtful background. She allows him to linger within her lovely and artistic world, however, hoping he might find some peace and solace. Slowly, their conflict turns into friendship, and eventually into love, until a terrible discovery ruins Mina's projects and forces her to let go of all her dreams, and of her sweet, damaged man. Neal is unable to fight for Mina and for the unripe love they share, because he's not ready to leave his past behind. He's not strong enough – not yet. (Ages 18+) Publisher's Note: This stand-alone Novel is a spinoff of Petra March's award winning series, A Touch of Cinnamon."
Author: Sonia Bahl
Title: The Spectacular Miss
Genre(s): Romance; Romantic comedy; Contemporary
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Review: The Spectacular Miss is an incredible charming story that follows a young girl through her adventures of wanting to not only fit in with her older brother and his neighborhood gang, but to actually be a boy. From the first chapter, I was captivated by Sonia's ability to create such a witty dialogue that I found myself unable to stop reading. As the story develops, the main character, Nira, finds a trusting and lasting relationship with her older brother's friend, Bir. What looks to be a funny, light, and comedic story develops into something much more meaningful as the characters' journeys continue and they each face various aversive situations. This coming of age novel is written in such a meaningful way that I think a lot of people can relate to. As a child we envision the world as something so different than what will come to be when we are older and the purpose of our paths is to enjoy every moment of it and this was illustrated so well by Sonia. Additionally, the writing was done so well and although very elegant in style it was also very easy to read.
Book Description: "I learned that I am, despite my early years spent as a swaggering boy, at heart just a middle-class, hard-working, risk-averse, un-creative, strait-laced, routine-obsessed
conformist. In case I forgot to mention it, I’m also prudish to the point of being puritanical. But at eight, Nira had only one over-powering wish—to pee standing up like a boy. In fact, to be a boy.
Join Nira as she steps into her brother’s clothes and becomes the self-appointed Al Caponesque gang leader of the neighbourhood boys. Her oddball yet madly loving family shapes her personality, and a poignant relationship with her brother’s best friend shapes her life. She uses uninhibited candour to detail her coming-of-age journey from Calcutta to London, from tomboy to reluctant woman-in-progress . . . always trying to fit in, but always failing. She’s a laugh a minute, and yet she breaks your heart with her subconscious, percussive yearning for the one person who is always too old, too far, too married to be hers."
Author: Ryan Starbloak
Title: Writer, Seeker, Killer (3 Novellas)
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Review: This set of novellas follows a story that is captivating, chilling, and uniquely thrilling. Ryan's eloquent use of the written word had me engrossed from the very beginning. Hinanya presents as a complex character, full of intrigue and mystery. We follow her on the journey back to her childhood hometown of New Orleans where she begins to ask profound questions about the reality of our universe. In the midst of her exploration for answers, she is confronted with situation vying for her attention. Hinanya discovers the pistol her friend used to follow through with suicide. This finding catapults her to a mental state of turmoil that left me, as a reader, jarred and tense. Overall, this novella bundle will leave you questioning your own sense of reality through Ryan's gift of writing. This is definitely not a read that will leave you with warm fuzzies. Instead, it will transport your mind to follow a distressed character through tumultuous terrain of life. I highly recommend this series if you are looking to read something with great depth.
Book Description: ""New Orleans; our lady of perpetual sirens." Hinanya Ven has but one interest in this life, and that is death. This great question has enveloped her into a deranged obsession, a need for transcendence in proximity to grand suffering. The search takes her back to her childhood home of New Orleans, where she returns after a six year absence following her family's permanent retreat from the city in the unanticipated catastrophe of Hurricane Katrina. On her own there for the first time, Hinanya inquires into whether or not there is a metaphysical substructure to the universe we all perceive. In the course of her journey, she, through inexplicable and violent circumstances, appropriates the pistol identical to the make, model, and serial number her friend had used to commit suicide several months prior to her arrival in New Orleans. The weight of the mystery augments her desire to part from her body... to have an out-of-body experience. The suicidal girl's path takes her from becoming a writer, a graffiti artist in the glittering menace of the New Orleans nightscape to search for a secretive substance which may settle her ceaseless curiosity. From there, she uncovers a jarring conspiracy which inextricable undermines her being into that brutal principle of the natural world: kill or be killed."
Author: Matt J Pike
Title: Kings of the World
Genre(s): Science fiction
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Review: This novel is an incredibly charming tale with perfectly timed humor and larger life lessons. Readers are first introduced to the characters when Cooper ends up getting one over on the school bully, Knuckles. Cooper steals his moment of high school fame when his friend, The Ginge, spreads the word about his victory. Unfortunately for the teenage boys, their fun is interrupted when the principle finds out the video was leaked to a website landing millions of views. Throughout the beginning of the story, Matt paints a detailed picture of what it's like to live as a hormonal teenage guy who is just trying to get by. As the plot develops, Matt creates a hysterical scenario that left me gasping for air. Connor, The Ginge, Knuckles, and Peter (Knuckle's companion) find themselves as councillors for the International Galactic Council developed by aliens. Of course, the teenage boys do exactly what teenage boys would do in this instance...use the universal translator to create all their hearts' desire. Although my main enjoyment from this novel came from the humorous language, I also thought Matt did an excellent job at developing the characters while maintaining their uniqueness. The characters learn how to navigate difficult political situations that force them to grow. Overall, I highly recommend this novel if you are looking for a fun and well written science fiction based plot that has life lessons and character development woven in!
Book Description: "The galaxy is on the brink of war and only four dysfunctional, hormone-driven teenagers from Earth stand in its way. God help us all. Cooper Simpson can't believe his luck when an otherwise crappy day ends with an invitation to join the International Galactic Council. As Earth's first leader on the interstellar body, he figures it's got to be better than the pressures of home and troubles at school. Unfortunately, it doesn't take him long to realise space can also suck the big one. The other races look down on humanity, danger and death lurk around every moon, and then there's Earth's other councillors - best mate The Ginge, who has a tenuous grip on reality, plus the last two people he would ever voluntarily spend time with - cowardly Pete and school thug Knuckles, who prefers to punch first and ask questions later. The lads might have the fate of the world in their hands, but at first they're more interested in cute alien girls and a machine that can literally create anything they want - including limitless free pizza. It sounds perfect. But as they delve deeper into council politics, they discover a conspiracy that threatens to tear the galaxy apart. With the world on the brink of war it's up to them to save the day. Whatever the outcome, life will never be the same again."
Author: Josie Jaffrey
Title: A Bargain in Silver
Genre(s): Paranormal; Vampires; Dystopia; Romance; Horror; Zombies
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Review: This novel starts out with a whirlwind of action and does not stop until the very last page; therefore, making it incredibly difficult for me to put it down. Josie starts readers off with a taste of what our main character, Emmy, endures as she works for a powerful race of vampires in the post apocalyptic world that was run over by the Weeper plague. As the story progresses, we learn that Emmy is without a biological family, but she seeks refuge with her surrogate kin at the bar she works at. In the midst of chaos, she is rescued by an alarmingly handsome man named Drew who literally sweeps her off her feet. However, there is something quite dangerous about him that readers are soon led to understand. Faced with devastation and betrayal, Emmy is forced to align herself with the powerful leader of the Silver (vampire) race, but not without much angst and stubbornness. Despite the powerful lure the Silver have over humans, Emmy is able to maintain most of her independence through sheer will. For me, this characteristic made her very likable as I found myself rooting for her throughout the entire story. Without giving too much away, A Bargain in Silver is filled with romantic intrigue, betrayal, and lust that leaves you wanting more. Josie did an excellent job at portraying the sexual scenes to be steamy and charged without too much eroticism. I'd recommend this to all the Twilight fans who are now grown up and looking for something faster paced with a healthy dose of sexiness. On the verge of giving this book 5 stars, I felt there were multiple grammatical errors and times when the wording felt a bit clunky to the point I had to re-read the sentences multiple times. Despite those instances, I enjoyed the storyline, characters, and pace of the read.
Book Description: "If the price of safety is slavery, would you bargain your life? A Bargain in Silver is book one of Josie Jaffrey's Solis Invicti paranormal romance series, set in a dystopian, post-apocalyptic London. A deadly infection threatens to wipe out humanity. The only people who can stem its advance are the Silver, a vampiric race who offer a simple exchange: protection in return for blood and subservience. It's not a deal that Emmy's willing to make, but as her world burns around her she finds herself in the arms of the enemy and the line between oppressor and saviour begins to blur. After an attack by the infected, Emmy is rescued by the handsome Drew who introduces her to the world of the Silver. Desperate to escape subjugation and confused by her attraction to him, she gathers what remains of her surrogate family and plans to make a break for freedom. But despite her efforts to resist, she is drawn further into the intrigues of the mysterious Silver through the agency of their ruler, the Primus: Solomon. Emmy refuses to submit to the cold and detached Primus and an attempt on her life makes it clear that he is unable to protect her from the political machinations of his race. As the connection between them deepens she must choose between her desire and her will to rebel, but can she trust his intentions when everyone is after her blood?"
Author: John A. Heldt
Title: Class of '59
Genre(s): Science fiction; Romance; Fantasy; Time travel; Historical fiction
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Review: This novel was incredibly dynamic, especially in respects to its' characters and the relationships the characters have with one another. Readers start with an introduction of Mary Beth McIntire who is suffering the loss of her fiancee, while on vacation with her family in California. Mary Beth is also pursuing medical school and despite her personal tragedy, she maintains the motivation necessary to move forward with her goals. She comes across as a strong southern young woman who knows exactly what she wants out of life and is not afraid to say it. As the charming time travel component comes to light, readers meet Mark Ryan who is a young engineering student. I really enjoy the level of respect and admiration that Mark has for Mary Beth. It's refreshing to read about a romantic relationship that plays on the tensions of innocence and passion in a literature world that is saturated with erotic romances. I also really enjoy how John choose to incorporate the time travel piece into his novels, as each situation is unique and different from what you might typically think of in time travel novels. Additionally, I found his inclusion of strong supporting characters to add so much to the story. The descriptions of Piper and Ben were elaborate, but not overwhelming. Instead of distracting the reader from the main characters, I think Piper and Ben added a lot more depth to the story. I highly recommend this novel, especially if you have grown tired of the hot and heavy romance reads and are looking for something with more depth.
Book Description: "When Mary Beth McIntire settles into a vacation house on June 2, 2017, she anticipates a quiet morning with coffee. Then she hears a noise, peers out a window, and spots a man in 1950s attire standing in the backyard. She panics when the trespasser sees her and enters the house though a door to the basement. She questions her sanity when she cannot find him. In the same house on March 21, 1959, Mark Ryan finds a letter. Written by the mansion’s original owner in 1900, the letter describes a basement chamber, mysterious crystals, and a formula for time travel. Driven by curiosity, Mark tests the formula twice. On his second trip to 2017, he encounters a beautiful stranger. He meets the woman in the window. Within hours, Mary Beth and Mark share their secret with her sister and his brother and begin a journey that takes them from the present day to the age of sock hops, drive-ins, and jukeboxes. In CLASS OF ’59, the fourth book in the American Journey series, four young adults find love, danger, and adventure as they navigate the corridors of time and experience Southern California in its storied prime."
Author: John A. Heldt
Title: The Mine
Genre(s): Science fiction; Time travel; Romance; Fantasy
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Review: This is such a sweet and comforting romance that I thoroughly enjoyed. We first meet Joel as he is enduring a road trip with his close friend and along their journey, Joel ends up being transported to the 1940s. As alarming as time travel would be for me, I admired Joel's ability to take the situation in stride and make the best of it. He ends up meeting a close knit group of friends who take him in and treat him as one of their own. As the story develops, Joel soon discovers that he has feelings for his newfound friend, Grace. Although I wouldn't say this novel reads like a grand adventure, it is the perfect story to cuddle up with if you are looking for a warming and soulful novel. John's writing was very engaging and I think he did an excellent job at mixing Joel's 21st century style with the 1940s era in a way that added a lot more depth to the story and the time travel scenario. Overall, The Mine is a whimsical tale that will transport you to another time filled with genuine friendships and a charming romance.
Book Description: "In May 2000, Joel Smith is a cocky, adventurous young man who sees the world as his playground. But when the college senior, days from graduation, enters an abandoned Montana mine, he discovers the price of reckless curiosity. He emerges in May 1941 with a cell phone he can't use, money he can't spend, and little but his wits to guide his way. Stuck in the age of swing dancing and a peacetime draft, Joel begins a new life as the nation drifts toward war. With the help of his 21-year-old trailblazing grandmother and her friends, he finds his place in a world he knew only from movies and books. But when an opportunity comes to return to the present, Joel must decide whether to leave his new love in the past or choose a course that will alter their lives forever. THE MINE is a love story that follows a humbled man through a critical time in history as he adjusts to new surroundings and wrestles with the knowledge of things to come."
Author: Mary E. Pearson
Title: The Kiss of Deception
Genre(s): Teen and young adult; Fantasy; Folklore; Dystopian; Royalty
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Review: If you are looking for a whimsical tale that will transport you to another time and place, then you will likely enjoy The Kiss of Deception. We first meet Princess Lia when she is preparing to marry a prince from another kingdom to solidify the nations' relationship. Within the first chapter, it becomes apparent that Lia is a strong willed young woman who will not follow through with something that she does not agree with. However, as the story unfolds we learn that she will put her pride aside if it means saving those she cares deeply about. Among adventure and fantasy, I would also categorize this novel as coming of age because there is so much character development, I could not minimize the growth that Lia and her supporting characters experienced on this journey. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this book via Audible because Mary created a tangible world with the amount of description she provided in the scenes. There are some books that do not necessarily need as much scene development, but The Kiss of Deception was elevated because of the elaborate details that were included. When I listened to this novel, I could picture exactly what was happening in the characters' world and therefore, it took me away from mine. Among Lia's journey, she also finds a passionate form of love that kept me wanting to listen for more. However, as the title suggests, this novel also entails deception that will keep you engaged until the very end.
Book Description: "In a society steeped in tradition, Princess Lia's life follows a preordained course. As First Daughter, she is expected to have the revered gift of sight—but she doesn't—and she knows her parents are perpetrating a sham when they arrange her marriage to secure an alliance with a neighboring kingdom—to a prince she has never met. On the morning of her wedding, Lia flees to a distant village. She settles into a new life, hopeful when two mysterious and handsome strangers arrive—and unaware that one is the jilted prince and the other an assassin sent to kill her. Deception abounds, and Lia finds herself on the brink of unlocking perilous secrets—even as she finds herself falling in love."
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."
I am a lover of the written word. This is my space to pursue my love of reading through book reviews and literary discussions with my fellow readers.