Icon Tag: TBR

Review: The Garden of Small Beginnings by Abbi Waxman

Posted May 17, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 21 Comments

Review:  The Garden of Small Beginnings by Abbi WaxmanThe Garden of Small Beginnings by Abbi Waxman
Series: standalone
Published by Berkley Books on May 2nd 2017
Genres: Womens Fiction, Chick-Lit
Pages: 368
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Heat:one-flame

Lilian Girvan has been a single mother for three years—ever since her husband died in a car accident. One mental breakdown and some random suicidal thoughts later, she’s just starting to get the hang of this widow thing. She can now get her two girls to school, show up to work, and watch TV like a pro. The only problem is she’s becoming overwhelmed with being underwhelmed.
At least her textbook illustrating job has some perks—like actually being called upon to draw whale genitalia. Oh, and there’s that vegetable-gardening class her boss signed her up for. Apparently being the chosen illustrator for a series of boutique vegetable guides means getting your hands dirty, literally. Wallowing around in compost on a Saturday morning can’t be much worse than wallowing around in pajamas and self-pity.
After recruiting her kids and insanely supportive sister to join her, Lilian shows up at the Los Angeles Botanical Garden feeling out of her element. But what she’ll soon discover—with the help of a patient instructor and a quirky group of gardeners—is that into every life a little sun must shine, whether you want it to or not…

I really needed something different and fun in my reading life, so when dear Heidi over at Rainy Day Ramblings personally recommended this book, I jumped at the chance to read it.

Guys, I cannot express how much I adored this book. It did exactly what I need it to do. It pulled me out of my reading slump and offered me a book with so much fun, laughter and a lot of heart.

Lilian Girvan is a widow. Her husband died a couple of years ago in a car collision right outside of their house and left Lilian with two little girls. Lilian had a hard time recovering from his death at first and actually had to be admitted to a hospital. Her sister Rachel provided a huge support network not only helping Lilian get past her husband’s death, but also in taking care of the kids.

Now Lilian is working as an illustrator and her company is hired to illustrate a gardening book. They only have one request. Lilian must take a gardening class. So after recruiting her sister and her daughters to join her in the class on weekends, Lilian’s world opens up to the great group of gardeners that might be just what the doctor ordered.

This book was fantastic. The writing was super great, super fun and I adored Waxman’s humor, it was just my kind of cup of tea. I was super surprised that this was her debut novel and also a bit disappointed because I so want more of the author’s writing. I cannot wait for her next book to come out, it is definitely going on my auto buy list.

This book is just great for the spring and summer alike. As a gardener myself. I adored the gardening aspect of the story. I also love the quirky gardening guides between the chapter breaks, they had me rolling with laughter.

All the characters were wonderful and endearing. I adored’ Lilian and her daughters. I love the interactions between Lilian and the characters – especially her two little girls. I also loved the strong sister bond between Lilian and Rachel. Really, I just loved everything about this book. The supporting extra characters in this book also just really added both heart and depth to this story.

The only thing that made this a little frustrating was the open ending. I kind of wanted to know a little more and not just where Lilian’s character was going, but also Rachel’s. I guess I could almost understand why the author wrapped it up the way she did, but I still found that I really did want that closure.

Overall, I am looking forward to more of Waxman’s writing. If you are looking to add to your summer book read, I highly recommend this one.

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Review: Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel

Posted May 6, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 10 Comments

Review:  Sleeping Giants by Sylvain NeuvelSleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel
Published by Del Rey on April 26th 2016
Genres: Science Fiction
Pages: 304
Format: Hardcover, Audiobook, Kindle Edition
Source: Library, Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars

I received this book for free from Library, Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

A girl named Rose is riding her new bike near her home in Deadwood, South Dakota, when she falls through the earth. She wakes up at the bottom of a square hole, its walls glowing with intricate carvings. But the firemen who come to save her peer down upon something even stranger: a little girl in the palm of a giant metal hand.
Seventeen years later, the mystery of the bizarre artifact remains unsolved—its origins, architects, and purpose unknown. Its carbon dating defies belief; military reports are redacted; theories are floated, then rejected.
But some can never stop searching for answers.
Rose Franklin is now a highly trained physicist leading a top secret team to crack the hand’s code. And along with her colleagues, she is being interviewed by a nameless interrogator whose power and purview are as enigmatic as the provenance of the relic. What’s clear is that Rose and her compatriots are on the edge of unraveling history’s most perplexing discovery—and figuring out what it portends for humanity. But once the pieces of the puzzle are in place, will the result prove to be an instrument of lasting peace or a weapon of mass destruction?
An inventive debut in the tradition of World War Z and The Martian, told in interviews, journal entries, transcripts, and news articles, Sleeping Giants is a thriller fueled by a quest for truth—and a fight for control of earthshaking power.

I think this is one of those books I have a hard time reviewing. I got the book from the library, saw the format and went to look for an audiobook. Despite the fact that it took me a very long time to finish the audiobook, I was absolutely right in picking it up. The audiobook, was amazing. If you like audiobooks with multiple narratives and a story that listens and feels like an old radio show, this was fantastic for that. I thought the actors in this audiobook did a great job with it and I was never really bored.

The format of the book itself is done in interviews. The basis of the story is about a giant hand that get’s found by a little girl named Rose, who falls through the Earth and lands onto its palm. She then grows up and basically dedicates her entire life on this project trying to figure out where the hand came from and is put in charge of putting this thing together as they uncover more pieces around the world.
I thought this was so interesting. I know a lot of people have an issue with the fact that the book is done as an interview so they felt like the book lacked something. I personally had a lot of fun with this and I felt like I was listening to these people tell a real story of their experience and the actors did a great job with portraying emotions through it. It felt personal and kind of real.

The book has a lot going for it. It’s a science fiction, but it almost doesn’t read like it. A lot of this book focuses on finding this giant robot and the political effects of it, since the robot is found in places outside of the USA. So there’s government conspiracy, political power struggle, and the possibility of a giant alien robot and who might have made this and why is it being uncovered now.

I found it interesting, exciting, I liked the format, it was super easy to get into and it’s one of those science fiction books that does not deal with a lot of science fiction jargon I guess, so it wasn’t hard to follow. The characters because of the interview style really grew on me and for that I will be continuing the next book in audio format as well.

This is the first book I completed in audiobook, but I did follow along with a physical book as well a lot of times to keep my mind from drifting. Also, if I missed something it was just easier to reread it in the book. I don’t typically like audiobooks, but I found that I just really liked this one, especially with the multiple narratives.

 

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Review: Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett

Posted April 28, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 15 Comments

Review:  Alex, Approximately by Jenn BennettAlex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett
Series: standalone
Published by Simon Pulse on April 4th 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance
Pages: 391
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Heat:one-half-flames

The one guy Bailey Rydell can’t stand is actually the boy of her dreams—she just doesn’t know it yet.
Classic movie fan Bailey “Mink” Rydell has spent months crushing on a witty film geek she only knows online as Alex. Two coasts separate the teens until Bailey moves in with her dad, who lives in the same California surfing town as her online crush.
Faced with doubts (what if he’s a creep in real life—or worse?), Bailey doesn’t tell Alex she’s moved to his hometown. Or that she’s landed a job at the local tourist-trap museum. Or that she’s being heckled daily by the irritatingly hot museum security guard, Porter Roth—a.k.a. her new archnemesis. But life is whole lot messier than the movies, especially when Bailey discovers that tricky fine line between hate, love, and whatever it is she’s starting to feel for Porter.
And as the summer months go by, Bailey must choose whether to cling to a dreamy online fantasy in Alex or take a risk on an imperfect reality with Porter. The choice is both simpler and more complicated than she realizes, because Porter Roth is hiding a secret of his own: Porter is Alex…Approximately.

If you guys are looking for a fun summer young adult read, look no further because Alex, Approximately might just be the right book for you.

It follows a girl named Bailey who is a completely classics movie buff. She meets a boy nicknamed ‘Alex’ online on a movie forum and they share a lot of things in common. Alex wants her to travel to California because they are going to have this big movie festival during summer and there is a movie he wants her to see, plus because they click so much, he wants to meet her. When her mother’s relationship ends up on the rocks with her current husband, Bailey feels like she has had enough drama and moves to California to live with her dad.

It just happens that Alex, also lives in the same city as her dad.

Bailey get’s cold feet and never tells ‘Alex’ that she is in town in hopes of scoping out the boy first, in case he is a creepy old man, and with her past she has every right to be careful.

Unfortunately the search for Alex hits home a lot closer than she thinks.

Can I just say I absolutely loved and adored this book. As far as romances go, this is like one of my top five favorites of this year so far. I had so much fun with this, with Bailey and Porter. I adored them.

When the two first meet at work, it’s a bit rocky. Porter comes off like an ass and Bailey does not want to cower in front of him.

In fact, right from the start he really pisses her off. The two end up arguing a lot, but when they don’t fight, sparks fly and magic happens. It turns out, Porter actually really likes her.

I just loved this I really did. I needed something light after reading a dark book and this helped a lot. Lately I’ve also been enjoying Young Adult Contemporary because I haven’t read a lot of them. Plus, it helps with the Adult Romance rot I am currently feeling.

Bailey and Porter were great together. Not only did I love their relationship. I enjoyed the positive family relationships as well as friendships that developed in this book.

I absolutely adored how everything unfolded and that Porter is actually Alex and how the two clicked offline, without actually knowing who the two really are. (This is not a spoiler, it’s in the blurb y’all)

There wasn’t much that I disliked about this book except for the part where Bailey felt a bit thick when it came to the big reveal. Porter kind of put the two and two together first and his reaction made me a bit grumpy, but I just couldn’t understand how Bailey did not see the missing puzzle piece when everything was sitting in front of her. Honestly, she should have put the two together a lot more quickly.

Also, the Davy storyline in this was a little rough and a bit weirdly unnecessary.

Overall, this was a great read – currently top 5 romance favorites this year. It was well written, with a wonderful storyline, great characters, positive relationships with friends, family and between Bailey and Porter.

I loved Porter, I really did. He really made the story for me.

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Review: Walk of Shame by Lauren Layne

Posted April 25, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 18 Comments

Review:  Walk of Shame by Lauren LayneWalk of Shame by Lauren Layne
Series: Love Unexpectedly #4
Published by Loveswept on April 18th 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 218
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Bought
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars
Heat:three-flames

Sparks fly between a misunderstood New York socialite and a cynical divorce lawyer in this lively standalone rom-com from the USA Today bestselling author of Blurred Lines and Love Story.
Pampered heiress Georgianna Watkins has a party-girl image to maintain, but all the shopping and clubbing is starting to feel a little bit hollow—and a whole lot lonely. Though Georgie would never admit it, the highlights of her week are the mornings when she comes home at the same time as her uptight, workaholic neighbor is leaving to hit the gym and put in a long day at the office. Teasing him is the most fun Georgie’s had in years—and the fuel for all her naughtiest daydreams.
Celebrity divorce attorney Andrew Mulroney doesn’t have much time for women, especially spoiled tabloid princesses who spend more time on Page Six than at an actual job. Although Georgie’s drop-dead gorgeous, she’s also everything Andrew resents: the type of girl who inherited her penthouse instead of earning it. But after Andrew caps one of their predawn sparring sessions with a surprise kiss—a kiss that’s caught on camera—all of Manhattan is gossiping about whether they’re a real couple. And nobody’s more surprised than Andrew to find that the answer just might be yes.

This was my very first Lauren Layne book and I am happy to say it will not be my last.

After seeing this show up on my goodreads feed over and over again, I decided to finally give it a shot. I was looking for a fun new romance and Walk of Shame delivered, boy did it deliver! It was fun, sassy, flirty and filled with banter, exactly what I was in the mood for.

Georgie is a socialite, who has never had to work for money in her life and spends most of her nights partying. Andrew is a cynical top of his crop, extremely smart divorce attorney her happens to live in her building. The two clash a lot, but it doesn’t stop Georgie from showing up at 5 am in the morning for a good banter fix that has been going on between her and Andrew.

This was just so much fun. I wasn’t sure if I would like Georgie. She has no direction in life, she spends most of her time partying and she is a bit too much at times. If I was to meet her in real life, there would be zero chances that her and I would connect. She does have a positive side and that is Andrew. His character seems to ground her as the book goes on and even changes the way she leads her life, even if just a little bit. She is also kind of sweet to the people around her. Georgie is a people person and everyone she meets just tends to gravitate towards her.

The tension and the back and forth relationship between the two was one of my favorite parts. I did love Andrew the most. He is a young attorney, and he is sort of a genius, having graduated from law school at an earlier age. He is also pretty terrible with emotions since he prefers to look at the logical side of things. Georgie kind of tilt’s his perfect world out of balance and in a way she is just what he needs to loosen up a bit.

I did really love Andrew. I thought he was so cute with his emotional awkwardness. At times I felt so bad with him I wanted to wrap him up and protect him.

If you are looking for fun, flirty, antagonistic romance that has great tension and build up before the sexy times – this one is definitely worth a try.

I did take a full star away only because I felt like Georgie’s character could have used more substance. She was just very flighty and had no real purpose in life I feel so at times it felt frustrating. Also, I did not particularly enjoy the scenes where she attempted to slap him, those kind of responses to anger are not my cup of tea. There might be a time and a place for that, but in no way in this case did I find it justifiable.

Overall though, I really, really enjoyed this book and super glad I read it.

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Review: Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

Posted April 3, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 17 Comments

Review: Dark Matter by Blake CrouchDark Matter by Blake Crouch
Series: standalone
Published by Crown on July 26th 2016
Genres: Science Fiction, Thriller
Pages: 342
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Heat:one-half-flames

“Are you happy with your life?”
Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious.
Before he awakens to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits.
Before a man Jason’s never met smiles down at him and says, “Welcome back, my friend.”
In this world he’s woken up to, Jason’s life is not the one he knows. His wife is not his wife. His son was never born. And Jason is not an ordinary college physics professor, but a celebrated genius who has achieved something remarkable. Something impossible.
Is it this world or the other that’s the dream? And even if the home he remembers is real, how can Jason possibly make it back to the family he loves? The answers lie in a journey more wondrous and horrifying than anything he could’ve imagined—one that will force him to confront the darkest parts of himself even as he battles a terrifying, seemingly unbeatable foe.
From the author of the bestselling Wayward Pines trilogy, Dark Matter is a brilliantly plotted tale that is at once sweeping and intimate, mind-bendingly strange and profoundly human—a relentlessly surprising science-fiction thriller about choices, paths not taken, and how far we’ll go to claim the lives we dream of.

I can’t believe it took me this long to pick this book up. I actually bought this for my dad about a month ago and after he finished, he told me “Lily, you got to read this.” I was a bit busy, had a lot on my plate, and did not get a chance to. I went to the library and behold, they had a copy available and I snatched it up.

Guys! I could NOT, put this book down. It was…Wow.

What is so great about this? Uh… Everything. It’s a science fiction, but it doesn’t completely read like one. I admit, there had been parts that made my head swim a little, but who cares? Crouch is a fabulous writer. The man knows how to suck you in from the very first page and it just never really lets you go. I lost sleep because of this, for reals. But who needs sleep, right?

This book never had a dull moment for me, I was eating up the pages eager for the end, wanting to know how it all turns out. Quite the roller coaster ride.

Don’t ask me to explain what this is about, I might literally explode. Read the blurb, that is the gist of it, the rest you pretty much have to experience on your own.

This book grabbed me from page one and never really let me go. My eyes are burning me, I am tired, but I am so glad I got to finish this. Crouch is really such a great storyteller.

Does most of this book make sense? No, it’s a science fiction. But, it’s interesting, it’s different, it’s compelling and it’s the first book in over a month that has me so damn giddy. I wasn’t coming into this willing it to make sense. I just wanted fun, excitement, something different.

Different it was. I LOVED the concept, the idea of multiverse. How our lives branch out. How there is a possibility of like everything that we could do in a critical moment in our life. The characters were just so raw, so real, the main character especially. I couldn’t help but feel the connection, I felt his love, pain, his loss and the need to come back home.

It was just so good. Crouch to me is a master in storytelling, he succeeded in everything for me. I felt it. I enjoyed it.

I took away half a star because in the end, I felt the ending to be a little weak. A LITTLE BIT. After everything, I felt like maybe it could have used a few more pages. But I get it. The characters were tired.

It is a bit open ended, it is. BUT, but, you guys in this case, given the structure of the book – it does not annoy me. It felt almost perfect. I couldn’t have asked for anything better. It totally made sense following the events, so, go read it if you have not yet. The science fiction part of it is light, but it’s science fiction, don’t go into it thinking it has to make sense, just be open and enjoy every moment.

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Review: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, Siobhan Dowd (Conception), Jim Kay (Illustrator)

Posted April 1, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 21 Comments

Review:  A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, Siobhan Dowd (Conception), Jim Kay (Illustrator)A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, Siobhan Dowd, Jim Kay
Series: standalone
Published by Candlewick Press on March 12th 2013
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Magical Realism
Pages: 206
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars

An unflinching, darkly funny, and deeply moving story of a boy, his seriously ill mother, and an unexpected monstrous visitor.
At seven minutes past midnight, thirteen-year-old Conor wakes to find a monster outside his bedroom window. But it isn't the monster Conor's been expecting-- he's been expecting the one from his nightmare, the nightmare he's had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments. The monster in his backyard is different. It's ancient. And wild. And it wants something from Conor. Something terrible and dangerous. It wants the truth. From the final idea of award-winning author Siobhan Dowd-- whose premature death from cancer prevented her from writing it herself-- Patrick Ness has spun a haunting and darkly funny novel of mischief, loss, and monsters both real and imagined.

Guys, I am going to be honest here. I picked this book up because a ton of people asked me if I read it, with the movie out, I finally stumbled upon this book in the library and decided to give it a shot.

I went into this blindly. I never read the blurb or asked people what it was about and stayed away from detailed reviews. I was told when it comes to this book, that was the best way to go about it anyway. So I am having a hard time writing the review. I am going to keep it short and sweet and basically tell you that if you had not read it yet, read it. Don’t just pick up the ebook either. Go to your local library if you have to and get the physical book because the drawing in the book really add to the experience.

The actual idea of this book came from Siobhan Dowd, but it was Patrick Ness, who brought her vision to life after she was taken too soon by cancer. Patrick Ness did a beautiful job bringing her beloved characters to life, leaving us with a book that I will think span generations. When I read the book last night, I was rocked with emotion, but it wasn’t until the day after that I got to sit down, let it sink in and truly experience its effect.

The story is about a boy named Conor and his ill mother. It is haunting, it is beautiful, atmospheric and downright emotional. If you have dealt with loss, it’s grief and pain, I strongly suggest you read this. Even if you haven’t experienced loss yet, I strongly suggest you read this. But I think it’s safe to say most of us did at one point or another and this book just captures most of what we go through so well.

I expect this book will have a different experience and effect on everyone. Which is okay. I believe that’s the whole point anyway, as we each experience the monster and its interpretation differently in the moments of weakness and hopelessness.

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Review: The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

Posted March 30, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 32 Comments

Review:  The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola YoonThe Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
Series: standalone
Published by Delacorte Press on November 1st 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Pages: 348
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 2.5 Stars
Heat:half-flame

Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.
Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.
The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?

I admit that I picked up this book because of the hype surrounding it lately. I felt like this book was everywhere and after finally managing to get a copy from my library to read it, I was excited. Unfortunately, this is why I am also sad to say I feel like a black sheep on this one. I did not enjoy it as much as I wanted to and I did not understand the appeal of it.

Let me explain what worked and what did not work for me.

Instalove – Now this is something that I was warned about so it partially might have been my fault. I knew it was coming, but as I went into this book sort of blindly I was okay with giving it the benefit of a doubt. Still, it ended up not working for me. I would really have to suspend disbelief with this one and even thought I could in most cases, as a contemporary this did not feel realistic. Seriously, Daniel – the male in this book – basically stalks her. As someone who lived in the city, this was like beyond awkward for me to live and understand it. Also, half the time they talk about their flaws and what annoys them about each other. So not really sure how the whole can’t breath, can’t think about my life without you worked here.

Could not Connect – I did not feel the attraction between these two and just felt like I was on the outside looking in. I could not form any sort of attachment to any of the characters and had just the worse time connecting which I think really took away from the story when I found that emotional detachment.

Nothing Happens – almost nothing. This book could have honestly been summed up in 100 pages. Basically, it’s about these two unlikely teens in the city. Natasha is from Jamaica and is getting deported, thanks to her dad and Daniel is a Korean American from a very strict Korean family that has his life mapped from him. She is trying to find a solution to her deportations and while that is part of the story most of the book is honestly walking, talking, and some verbal fighting. I was bored, I was beyond bored. I just could not understand the appeal with this. If you like walking and talking books where that is literally almost the entirety of the book, then maybe? But with about 300 pages, my brain was starting to feel numb.

Family Dynamics – I did not like the family dynamics in this book. I could not wrap my head around Daniel and his brother’s relationship. There is so much hate there and the reason the author gave for it did not work for me I guess? Basically, it just felt like, this is it and there is no other way.

Open endings – UGH!! Okay, I DO NOT read books for opening, endings okay? Why is this now a thing? If I wanted an open ending in a book I would read it half way and just make up the rest of it in my head. This is just as bad as cliffhangers if not worse? In standalone novels, it feels like the ultimate killer. I almost gave this book 1 star because I ended up being SO MAD. Like what was the point of the epilogue if you are just going to leave it like that? It is the worse.

So what did I like?

I liked that these two kids came from two different worlds. I liked the different background cultures and I loved the different ethnic representation. This is probably why I felt so sad that I just couldn’t like it.

Also, I really enjoyed seeing how their interactions with other people in this book also effected these people in real life beyond their interaction. That was cool.

Overall, I really wanted to love this, but in the end I just did not understand the hype, and there was one too many things that just did not work for me.

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Review: Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller

Posted March 15, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 18 Comments

Review:  Swimming Lessons by Claire FullerSwimming Lessons by Claire Fuller
Series: standalone
Published by Tin House Books on February 7th 2017
Genres: Contemporary Fiction
Pages: 350
Format: Hardcover
Source: Borrowed
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3 Stars
Heat:one-half-flames

Ingrid Coleman writes letters to her husband, Gil, about the truth of their marriage, but instead of giving them to him, she hides them in the thousands of books he has collected over the years. When Ingrid has written her final letter she disappears from a Dorset beach, leaving behind her beautiful but dilapidated house by the sea, her husband, and her two daughters, Flora and Nan.
Twelve years later, Gil thinks he sees Ingrid from a bookshop window, but he’s getting older and this unlikely sighting is chalked up to senility. Flora, who has never believed her mother drowned, returns home to care for her father and to try to finally discover what happened to Ingrid. But what Flora doesn’t realize is that the answers to her questions are hidden in the books that surround her. Scandalous and whip-smart, Swimming Lessons holds the Coleman family up to the light, exposing the mysterious truths of a passionate and troubled marriage. 

I really wanted something different from my current reads and Swimming Lessons took care of that.

The book was written in an interesting style that I found I enjoyed.

It follows a family whose mother disappeared a couple of years ago and no one knows why. Well, the mother, Ingrid left for them clues in the form of letters scattered throughout the books in the house. So when her daughters come home due to their father’s accident, we get to find out through the letters what happened to the mother and what caused her disappearance.

It was interesting, like I have mentioned, I really enjoyed the format of the story. We got the current events in one chapter and we get to read Ingrid’s letters the next chapter and as it progressed, we kind of get the sense of what has happened.

The book in itself was okay. Nan and Flora kind of felt one dimensional because I outside of Ingrid mentioning them in the letters, we only get to see them at this specific point in time and I never felt there was much character growth. Flora felt like an absolute disaster at times and Nan was the more mature one who seemed to try hard to keep everything from falling apart. I was also very confused about how Flora has managed to cloud her memories and she remembers things differently than they really were in reality and that pisses Nan off.

The letters part, I enjoyed, for the most part. It was at times hard to read because of the situation that unfolded. I was very confused why Ingrid stayed in the situation she was in with her marriage. I also never really felt the connection between her and her husband Gil. He was twenty years her senior. Ingrid never wanted children, but apparently did not know how birth control works? She gave up so much for this man. Her life, her dreams, her education and instead did everything she hated including having children – that she never really felt any connection to.

Gil, her husband has done some really horrible things. The story was heartbreaking with the amount of stuff Ingrid had to endure, but I also felt like it was her own fault. She was warned and yet she put herself in that kind of situation. Did she deserve any of it? No, but she knew. I get that the time period it was set that she might not have been able to walk away as easily, but there was always that choice… So… I don’t know… The story felt weird at times.

Overall, it was okay. Nothing amazing. It was page turning, it was kind of a cozy read. It was a bit emotional, but I mostly really felt anger. I don’t think I projected the emotion that the author wanted from me, and that was maybe anger at Ingrids situation and pity or sorrow? I couldn’t relate. I felt she basically built her own misfortunate.

The writing was good, I don’t think I ever felt bored.

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Review: A Taste of Ice by Hanna Martine

Posted March 11, 2017 by Lily B in Guest Post, Reviews / 14 Comments

Hey guys, I have another lovely review for you today from our Guest Poster Sophia Rose. Sophia reviews A Taste of Ice a spicy paranormal and a second book in The Elementals series.

This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
Review: A Taste of Ice by Hanna MartineA Taste of Ice (The Elementals, #2) by Hanna Martine
Series: The Elementals #2
Published by Berkley Sensation on December 31st 2012
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Pages: 368
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars
Heat:four-flames

There is an untapped world of magic that any man would covet...
Five years ago, Xavier escaped from the Ofarian Plant. Today he calls a Colorado mountain town home. It’s there he buries himself in his work, swearing off magic and relationships—until a woman threatens every promise he’s made to himself.
Cat has always known she is different. Water speaks to her on an uncanny level, and she channels this gift into beautiful painted waterscapes. Now, a gallery is debuting her work in Colorado—and it’ll reveal far more about her than she imagined.
The spark between Cat and Xavier is enough to throw both of them off balance. Every tantalizing moment sends them dangerously close to a rising flood of desire. Dangerous because Xavier comes to suspect that Cat is an Ofarian—his people’s enemy. But they’re both about to discover a far greater, more malicious power at play...

This is one of those ‘why did I wait so long to pick this up and read it?’ moments. Because alien made magical and elemental humans playing up their intrigues amongst the ordinary unsuspecting folks, dark pasts and healing romance in the present is definitely my thing.

I accidentally grabbed book two, but we’re going to ignore that because I did alright. Though that said, I knew I was missing the root of this series and could sense a strong connection to the first book, Liquid Lies from A Taste of Ice.

I enjoyed this refreshing take on the paranormal romance genre as these are heavy hitting magic users who are capable and do some bad stuff and I like action plots paired with romance.

My interest was snagged from the starting line with the set-up of a nearly broken man hiding out in the human world from his past and who he really is just to survive and a bright emerging female artist who has always felt like she is missing part of herself while connecting strongly to water through her paintings.

The coming together of this pair would seem easy since they feel a strong attraction and don’t have some stupid screw-up to come between- no, Cat in particularly handles the landmines of a relationship with a guy like Xavier like a champ. It was an intriguing choice to make a sexual abuse survivor be the male and it was handled well. What ends up being the trouble is a deep and meaningful collection of issues that are valid problems that they try to work out even as crazy and bad stuff interferes. It was an interesting choice to include a third major narrator that is one of those grayish-to-black empathetic villain types.

The build of the plot both action and romance was steady and I enjoyed the anticipation for the big ending which was actually a series of big moments though some were predictable.

So, yes, I will definitely be reaching for the next installment in The Elementals series and heading back for book one. I loved the world building, action and romance plot blend and the attention to the characters. I would definitely recommend it to others who enjoy spicy paranormal romance involving X-Men style magic elementals.

About Sophia Rose

Sophia is a quiet though curious gal who dabbles in cooking, book reviewing, and gardening. Encouraged and supported by an incredible man and loving family. A Northern Californian transplant to the Great Lakes Region of the US. Lover of Jane Austen, Baseball, Cats, Scooby Doo, and Chocolate.

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Review: The Billionaire Bachelor by Jessica Lemmon

Posted February 9, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 15 Comments

This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
Review:  The Billionaire Bachelor by Jessica LemmonThe Billionaire Bachelor by Jessica Lemmon
Series: Billionaire Bad Boys #1
Published by Forever on June 30th 2016
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 384
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars
Heat:four-flames

Indecent Proposal
Manwhore. That's what the board of directors-and the tabloids-thinks of billionaire bachelor Reese Crane. Ordinarily he couldn't care less, but his playboy past is preventing the board from naming him CEO of Crane Hotels. Nothing-and no one-will keep him from his life's legacy. They want a settled man to lead the company? Then that's exactly what he'll give them.
Merina Van Heusen will do anything to get her parents' funky boutique hotel back-even marry cold-as-ice-but-sexy-as-hell Reese Crane. It's a simple business contract-six months of marriage, absolute secrecy, and the Van Heusen is all hers again. But when sparks fly between them, their passion quickly moves from the boardroom to the bedroom. And soon Merina is living her worst nightmare: falling in love with her husband . . .

I was looking for something different to read when I came across The Billionaire Bachelor and figured I could give it a shot.

Boy was I rewarded with a fun story, great characters and a romance that sizzles long after the pages are done.

The Plot

Two hotel owners collide when Merina Van Heusen discovers that her precious hotel has been sold off to Crane Hotels.

Reese Crane is on track of making CEO, there is just one problem, the board of directors do not seem him fit to take over his father’s position. Reese has lived and breathed Crane hotels ever since he threw himself fully into his family’s legacy, and now a bunch of old man, who don’t approve of his lifestyle, are standing in the way of him losing everything.

Now, Reese much ditch his playboy lifestyle and settle down, and who do better with than a woman who hates his guts. But, Reese has something that Merina wants, and knows she is perfect to not screw things up.

Oh I loved the plot. It was an enemy to lovers story with a fake marriage that over time succumbs to passion and morphed into something more.

Like a miracle had occurred. Had he grown a conscience? Her eyes narrowed in suspicion. “What’s the catch?”
He smiled, then said two words that made her go temporarily blind in one eye.
“Marry me.”

It was fun, it was exciting and it was something totally different from my recent reads so I was glad to have discovered this. I was totally engrossed with the plot, hooked, line and sinker. I was unable to put this book down and was cranky from the lack of sleep, but it seemed totally worth it.

The plot was totally character driven and I loved both equally with their prickly personalities. I loved that there was a build up and the way things played up, with even a bit (a little bit) of angst thrown in at the end. The story was everything I wanted and more.

The Characters

Merina and Reese were definitely the stars of the show. Thought I love the fact that this is book one in a trilogy of Crane brothers – because I totally adored Tag and cannot wait to read his story.

Reese was passionate, calculating, and a bit detached. He has a story and it consists of heartbreak that left him running for the hills when it comes to relationships. So marrying was equivalent of having a lobotomy, I’m sure.

He likes his women, he doesn’t like emotions or exposing his weak side. Reese does not want to get hurt ever again after that devastating heartbreak, which made him a little frustrating in the end when the possibility of love came pounding on his doorsteps. He get’s closed up, but he opens up with Merina without even trying to show that he actually does care and in turn exposes his heart.

Merina was prickly and I really liked her and her spunk. She really knew how to get under Reese’s skin and the two worked and clicked so well together. There was heat, there was steam, and a romance that absolutely sizzled. The chemistry was explosive, it didn’t feel forced, and kept things completely engrossing and interesting.

I adored these two so much that I am going to miss them.

Overall

Overall, this entire book was a win. I did have one issue and that was at the end where everything Reese has been trying to avoid, catches up to him and he closes down. I did realize that it’s a part of him that kept him protected from heartbreak, so it did make sense that he had responded the way he did, but at the same time Merina was different. I wanted to throttle him for being so stupid.

When the fog cleared, he did redeem himself and the story ended on a touching note. I loved seeing the vulnerable side of him.

The writing was good, the characters were well rounded, raw, real, emotional, sprinkled with humor. It kept me turning the pages, and will keep me coming back to find out what the author has in store for me next!

“Are you capable of being monogamous?” It was easier to needle him than address the gauntlet resting between them like a huge pink elephant.

“I don’t prefer it.”

Which was no answer at all.

“So this is a bribe.”

“It’s a proposal.” One eyebrow lifted slightly. “In this case, literally.”

“When a woman says ‘fine’…,” he started.

“Run.” Tag’s smug expression fell as he sat ramrod straight. “Like you have zombies on your tail. ‘Fine’ is not a term of endearment from a woman.”

“Yeah, that’s what I thought.”

Tag’s eyes went to Reese’s phone. “Who gave you the F-word?”

“Merina. In answer to my marriage proposal.” He leaned on his desk, hands folded. “I’m assuming that’s a yes.”

“You should assume the position, man. That does not sound like a good sign.”

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