Thursday, September 27, 2012

More by T.M. Franklin

From the blurb:

Ava Michaels used to think she was special. As a child, she fantasized about having magical powers . . . making things happen. But Ava grew up and eventually accepted the fact that her childish dreams were just that, and maybe a normal life wasn't so bad after all. Now a young college student, Ava meets Caleb Foster, a brilliant and mysterious man who’s supposed to help her pass Physics, but in reality has another mission in mind. What he shows Ava challenges her view of the world, shaking it to its very core. Because Caleb isn't quite what he seems. In fact, he's not entirely human, and he's not the only one. Together, the duo faces a threat from an ancient race bound to protect humans, but only after protecting their own secrets—secrets they fear Ava may expose. Fighting to survive, Ava soon learns she's not actually normal . . . she's not even just special. She's a little bit more.

My rating:

MORE is a really good debut novel that meshes a very interesting mythology with a nice hint at romance between the two main characters, and an action-packed and suspense-filled plot. Ms. Franklin focuses the first book of her trilogy on world-building and introduction of characters, yet manages to largely avoid one of the pitfalls of first books in a series - the massive info dumping. And I say largely avoids because there are some section where she doesn't succeed, and the plot slows down.

MORE tells the story of Ava Michaels, a college student. There are some odd occurrences in her past, and Ava has always thought of herself as a bit different than others. When we first meet her, Ava is having a horrible nightmare where someone is chasing her in the dark. That someone has one green eyes and one blue, which ties in nicely with the good-looking cover that the author reportedly designed herself.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Improper Relations by Juliana Ross

Improper Relations
From the blurb:

Dorset, 1858 

When Hannah's caught watching her late husband's cousin debauch the maid in the library, she's mortified--but also intrigued. An unpaid companion to his aunt, she's used to being ignored. The black sheep of the family, Leo has nothing but his good looks and noble birth to recommend him. Hannah ought to be appalled at what she's witnessed, but there's something about Leo that draws her to him. When Leo claims he can prove that women can feel desire as passionately as men, Hannah is incredulous. Her own experiences have been uninspiring. Yet she can't bring herself to refuse his audacious proposal when he offers to tutor her in the art of lovemaking. As the tantalizing, wicked lessons continue, she begins to fear she's losing not just her inhibitions, but her heart as well. The poorest of relations, she has nothing to offer Leo but herself. Will it be enough when their erotic education ends?

My rating:

This was rather disappointing, primarily because the plot felt rushed in this novella length book, and there was too much focus on sex for such a short story.

The book takes place in England in the mid-1800s. Hannah is the poor, widowed relation and living with her late husband's aunt, for whom she is a companion/assistant/servant. One afternoon in the library, she observes Leo, the black sheep son, having a bit of fun with one of the housemaids.

Hannah is even more shocked when Leo tells her that women can feel passion too, and offers to 'tutor' her.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Seven Years to Sin by Sylvia Day

Seven Years to SinFrom the blurb:

The longer the resistance... 

Seven years ago, on the eve of her wedding, proper Lady Jessica Sheffield witnessed a licentious scene no innocent young miss could imagine. Shocked, yet strangely titillated, she'd held her silence regarding scandalous Alistair Caulfield, and walked down the aisle as expected. But through years of serene, unremarkable marriage, Caulfield's image remained burned into her imagination, fueling very illicit dreams. . . 

...the sweeter the reward. 

 Alistair ran far from the temptation of the prim debutante with the fire of passion in her eyes—all the way to the West Indies. As a successful merchant, he has little in common with the rakehell youth she knew. But when newly widowed Jessica steps aboard his ship for a transatlantic passage, seven years' worth of denied pleasures are held in check by nothing more than a few layers of silk—and the certainty that surrender will consume them both. . .

My rating:

thoroughly enjoyed this book.

On the eve of her wedding to Lord Tarley, Jessica Sheffield, a proper English lady, witnesses an amorous coupling while walking her dog in the garden. When she locks eyes with the man fornicating in the gazebo, she is suddenly awakened to desires and urges she has so far suppressed. And Alistair Caulfield falls desperately in love with a woman he knows he can't have. Despite getting married the next day, and having a happy, albeit childless, marriage, Jessica never forgets what she saw that night, and what emotions the scene invoked in her, nor the man she observed.

Fast forward seven years. Jessica's husband has passed away, and she has decided to travel to the West Indies to oversee the possible sale of the plantation her husband left to her. Unbeknownst to her, Alistair has pined for her ever since that night in the garden. When the young widow boards his ship, he decides to use this opportunity to woo her and gain her love, patiently using the vast amount of charm and sexual prowess he possesses.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Mine by John A. Heldt

The Mine

From the blurb:

In 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 Whirlaway, 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 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.

My rating:

This was an incredibly moving read, and an exceptional debut offering from a new author.

Small spoilers in the review below.

Joel Smith is about to graduate from college in the year 2000 when he and his friend Adam stop at an abandoned mine near Helena, MT. On that day, a rare cosmic event takes place, and when Joel steps into the mine, he is somehow transported back in time to 1941, shortly before Pearl Harbor and the US entering WWII. Without any means (credit cards were not yet invented, his cell phone doesn't work), Joel makes his way to Seattle where he fortuitously encounters a young man, Tom Carter, in a precarious situation. From there, Joel meets and becomes friends with Tom's family and friends, gets a job and forges a new life. Tom is friends with Ginny Gillette - who is also Joel's grandmother and quite a special character. When Joel meets Grace Vandenberg, he forgoes his plan to not do anything that might change the future and subsequently falls in love with her.

The author did a fantastic job researching the time period shortly before the US entered into the 2nd World War and created an exquisite line-up of characters that really made this book shine. The situations Joel finds himself in, knowing what the future holds and yet unable to say anything, are finely crafted to forward the plot. And yet he also gives Joel enough spunk to bet on sports events for which he knows the outcomes, thus giving him a way to make a little money on top of his job.

When Joel realizes that the rare cosmic event will happen in 1941, on the same night that Japanese fighter planes attack Pearl Harbor, he is faced with a huge decision - stay and possibly die in the coming war, or go back into his own time and thus leaving the woman he loves behind.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

What I Didn't Say by Keary Taylor

What I Didn't Say
From the blurb:

Getting drunk homecoming night your senior year is never a good idea, but Jake Hayes never expected it all to end with a car crash and a t-post embedded in his throat. His biggest regret about it all? What he never said to Samantha Shay. He's been in love with her for years and never had the guts to tell her. Now it's too late. Because after that night, Jake will never be able to talk again. When Jake returns to his small island home, population 5,000, he'll have to learn how to deal with being mute. He also finds that his family isn't limited to his six brothers and sisters, that sometimes an entire island is watching out for you. And when he gets the chance to spend more time with Samantha, she'll help him learn that not being able to talk isn’t the worst thing that could ever happen to you. Maybe, if she'll let him, Jake will finally tell her what he didn't say before, even if he can't actually say it.

My rating:

Imagine you're a teenage boy living on a small island in the PNW, population about 5,000. Everybody knows everybody else. You hang with your friends, you make eyes at pretty girls, you play football and you dream of getting out of Dodge as soon as you graduate. The Airforce has accepted you, and you love to fly, so you're really looking forward to your future, so much so that you're counting down the weeks and months.

You're invincible. You're almost eighteen, and your Senior year is looking damn fine. You study hard and play harder. Sure, there's that one girl who caught your eye a while back, but she's out of your league and not really in your circle of friends. Samantha Shay is poised to be the valedictorian, and there may possibly be something not quite right with her, but hey, that's her loss, if she doesn't want you, right?

And still, you can't quite forget about her, so one drunken night right before your Homecoming game, your addled brain confesses to your friends that you're in love with her. You say it - out loud - and then you get this crazy idea in your head that you should tell her, to her face, right now.

So you get into your car, with your equally drunken friends, and on the way to her house, you get into an accident, and subsequently you lose your ability to speak.

That is the premise of What I Didn't Say by Keary Taylor. The story is told from Jake's perspective, and it sucked me in to the point where I simply couldn't stop reading, forgoing sleep to finish it in one sitting.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Wellesley Wives by Suzy Duffy

Wellesley Wives
From the blurb:

Popsy Power - a Boston society-wife and her best friend, Sandra seem to have it all with billionaire husbands and beautiful daughters. But things change. From Bollinger to basic-wage, it's a roller coaster for the ladies who lunch. When the daughters land in a heap of trouble too, it's hardly surprising that their mother should worry about the next generation of Wellesley Wives. Life can't always be fun in the sun, but that's why there's fur! Sit back, relax and enjoy the wonderful world of the Wellesley Wives.

My rating:

This book is a character study of four women, all at different points in their lives, infused with humor, fun and strong emotions, perfectly paced to showcase friendships, love and strength in adversity and pain.

Popsy, Sandra, Rosie and Lily are at the center of this book, all with their own stories to tell, yet all connected to each other through blood or friendship. As we initially meet them, with their fancy cars and beautiful homes and rich lives, you'd think they have everything you ever wanted, and that their lives are perfect.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Speechless by Hannah Harrington

SpeechlessFrom the blurb:

Everyone knows that Chelsea Knot can't keep a secret Until now. Because the last secret she shared turned her into a social outcast—and nearly got someone killed. Now Chelsea has taken a vow of silence—to learn to keep her mouth shut, and to stop hurting anyone else. And if she thinks keeping secrets is hard, not speaking up when she's ignored, ridiculed and even attacked is worse. But there's strength in silence, and in the new friends who are, shockingly, coming her way—people she never noticed before; a boy she might even fall for. If only her new friends can forgive what she's done. If only she can forgive herself.

My rating:

Wow! This book!! If there's a book any teenager ought to read this year - it's this one. All the Awards!

“Hate is... It's too easy.[] Love. Love takes courage.”

When we are first introduced to Chelsea Knot, she comes across as a rather typical teenager struggling to fit in and finding her way in her world. She's a bit shallow, impetuous, unsure of her place and thus a little self-serving, doing things that she might not be doing if she would take the time to question her motives. Then again, what typical teenager does? She's also known as the school gossip - nothing seems sacred, and everything and everyone could be a target. People's secrets were fodder, and feelings didn't matter as long as it was to Chelsea's benefit and that of her popular friends. She's also after a particular boy, but what attracts her to him are mostly superficial qualities.

At this point, I was rather glad to not be in high school anymore, and I also didn't like Chelsea. She had a Mean Girls vibe, and I couldn't really find a redeemable quality in her.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Every Day by David Levithan

Every Day
From the blurb:

A has no friends. No parents. No family. No possessions. No home, even. Because every day, A wakes up in the body of a different person. Every morning, a different bed. A different room. A different house. A different life. A is able to access each person's memory, enough to be able to get through the day without parents, friends, and teachers realizing this is not their child, not their friend, not their student. Because it isn't. It's A. Inhabiting each person's body. Seeing the world through their eyes. Thinking with their brain. Speaking with their voice. It's a lonely existence--until, one day, it isn't. A meets a girl named Rhiannon. And, in an instant, A falls for her, after a perfect day together. But when night falls, it's over. Because A can never be the same person twice. But yet, A can't stop thinking about her. She becomes A's reason for existing. So each day, in different bodies--of all shapes, sizes, backgrounds, walks of life--A tries to get back to her. And convince her of their love. But can their love transcend such an obstacle?

My rating:

I don't even know where to start. This book made me cry, it was so good.

Every day a different body. Every day a different life. Every day in love with the same girl.

The MC is a person of indeterminate gender, looks and even name, who wakes up in a different body every single day. 'A', as s/he calls him/herself has been like this since birth. Every morning, 'A' has to check whether the body currently inhabited is male or female, check the location and then try to make it through the day without drawing notice and without getting the host into trouble. For sixteen years, this has been the life s/he knows.

'A' is resigned to this non-life and never questions whether there is a different way, or why the constant body changes happen. It just is.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Ghostwriter by Lissa Bryan

GhostwriterFrom the blurb:

After being laid off from the newspaper where she worked as a journalist, and losing her boyfriend in rapid succession, Sara Howell is looking to downsize before her dwindling savings run out. Things are finally starting to look up when she lands a job ghostwriting the biography of a popular politician and rents an isolated island house which turns out to have once been the home of her favorite author, Seth Fortner, who mysteriously disappeared in 1925.
After being laid off from the newspaper where she worked as a journalist, and losing her boyfriend in rapid succession, Sara Howell is looking to downsize before her dwindling savings run out. Things are finally starting to look up when she lands a job ghostwriting the biography of a popular politician and rents an isolated island house which turns out to have once been the home of her favorite author, Seth Fortner, who mysteriously disappeared in 1925.

My rating:

I had to mull this over for a few days before I was ready to write up a review.

Ghostwriter is a good book. The writing is mostly flawless and flows well, though it could use another edit or two to tighten things up and fix the errors within.

It tells the story of Sara Howell, a young woman who has recently broken up with her boyfriend and is now living alone in an apartment she cannot afford. Her journalist career has been derailed, and she recently agreed to be a ghostwriter for a politician's autobiography. When she runs into Ginny, a realtor, while looking for a cheaper place to live, Ginny seems a god-send when she offers Sara the use of a house on an island in the Outer Banks that used to belong to her great-uncle, who just happens to be Seth Fortner, the late author Sara admires like no other, who mysteriously died much too young.

Sara moves into the house, and it's not long until strange things begin to happen - pictures fall off walls, things disppear, and mysterious messages appear on the fogged up mirror when she takes a shower. Plagued by ever increasing headaches, her writing is going slow, and she begins to avoid the book she's supposed to write, and instead snoops around and discovers letters Seth left behind, which help her begin to piece together a thus far secret history of the author. She soon realizes that she's not crazy, and that Seth's ghost is haunting the old house. Undeterred, Sara begins to draw him out, speaking to him, seeing him, which then culminates in his visits to her during her dreams, where she can touch him and eventually kiss him.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Country Mouse by Amy Lane and Aleksandr Voinov

Country Mouse From the blurb:

Owen may be a bit of a country mouse, but he’s loving his vacation in London. After a long day playing tourist, he’s on the hunt for some cheap beer and a good burger. Instead he finds a man hunting him, an arrogant prick with only one thing on the brain: the kind of meat that doesn’t come on a bun. Eighty-hour weeks at a trading desk don’t leave Malcolm Kavanagh much time for meaningful relationships. Besides, in his world, everything’s a competition—even sex. When his newest one-night-sub fails to show, Malcolm sets his sights on the pretty young Yank on the bar stool beside him. Owen’s all for an adventure with a native, but he’s not the pushover Malcolm thinks he is, and Malcolm’s not as shallow as he tries to be. They both soon learn that nothing's too intimate to share with a stranger, and the strangest things happen when two people share the most important pieces of their hearts.

My rating:

Meh. It was a quick read, with a bit too much focus on the sex, instead of letting the characters grow. While Malcolm does undergo growth, it felt rushed and too unbelievable in the short time frame given.

The love scenes were well done, but drawn out for this short a read, and thus the book only gets two stars. This could have been a good story, if the authors had focused a bit more on character development, instead of rushing through the emotional parts of it. I also thought the title Country Mouse, describing Owen as a bit of a hick, was rather condescending. London may be a metropolis, but Owen was not country nor mousy. There were also some anti-gay undertones, that supposedly explained Malcolm's personality.

The ending is quite romantic, or at least that seems to have been the intention. To me, it felt rushed and just a bit too unbelievable.

I received a free ARC from the publisher via Netgalley.

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Until next time,

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