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Most Creative/Prolific Contributor Award!

[ 6 ] October 16, 2014

As promised, on the 10th of every month, I give away a book of their choice to the most creative/prolific contributor to Luxury Reading!

This month, our fearless contender is…

Kara S. !

Kudos to everyone for your great comments! Kara, p
lease post a comment here with your selection!

The contest started over on October 10th, and I will pick a new winner on the 10th of November. There is no limit to how many times you can win.

Remember, frequency of commenting counts, but so does the quality – a creative and relevant comment will get you more points than something like “sounds great”. Every month, I will pick a winner and post their name, as well as send them an e-mail. The winner can pick any item that is available on Amazon.com.

Get commenting!
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Review: The Summer House by Santa Montefiore

[ 1 ] October 16, 2014

Book cover of The Summer House by Santa MontefioreReviewed by Colleen Turner

When Lord Frampton dies in a skiing accident he leaves behind a family fighting through a myriad of complicated emotions. Everyone’s lives are further turned upside down when a young woman named Phaedra shows up at the funeral claiming to be his illegitimate daughter. They discover in the Lord’s will that Phaedra has been left a large sum of money and the priceless Frampton sapphires. As the family gets to know Phaedra they find a kindness and clarity that somehow begins to heal each of them and in turn brings them all together again, making them a family like they haven’t been in years. But one family member is not as ready to believe Phaedra’s story and is determined to expose her as a fraud out to take advantage of a rich family’s grief. Further complicating the situation is the growing attraction between Phaedra and Lord Frampton’s eldest son, David. With all this swirling around them, will any of them be able to heal and move on from tragedy to be happy once again?

The Summer House perfectly captures the various ways in which this upper class family handles their grief at losing its patriarch as well as the innumerable emotions they go through when Phaedra presents herself, many of which surprised me. Antoinette’s acceptance of her would-be step daughter and her deep need to have Phaedra in her life as a way of staying close to her husband were something I never expected and were really touching, especially as Phaedra had never really had a family of her own. David and Phaedra’s palpable attraction was a little disturbing at first given the situation, but it was dealt with carefully and never pushed itself too far over into the icky zone, especially as further information was discovered along the way. The characters are a delightful, mixed bag of eccentricities, and just about every trait you would expect is represented: the kind, accepting mother; the pushy, opinionated, and old-fashioned grandmother who has a little sliver of mischievousness she tries unsuccessfully to keep hidden from the others; the selfish and domineering sister-in-law; the charming, quirky yet flawed sons of the family who each have their own crosses to bear; the unflinchingly protective spinster sister; and the outsider who comes in trying to find a place amongst this intimidating family while hiding secrets she can never reveal. Between the wonderful characters and the descriptive, captivating setting in the English countryside I was thoroughly swept away into the Frampton’s world.

On the downside, the secrets the characters are trying to hide – mainly Phaedra but a few other tinier secrets of the others – were not hard to figure out. About halfway through I pretty much understood where it was going and had to just enjoy the story as it continued to its inevitable conclusion. Maybe because of this, or as an issue all its own, much of the story felt repetitive: Phaedra and David thinking of each other and their growing feelings over and over; Antoinette worrying about how, if, and when she will get over her husband; Roberta, David’s sister-in-law, continually finding fault in Phaedra and stating she just doesn’t trust her. It felt like some of this repetition could have been edited out and the story would have flowed better.

The Summer House is a feel-good, light sort of romance and family drama that wraps up nice and neat by the end. While some heavy themes such as death and betrayal are central to the storyline they don’t bog the reader down but instead are used as catalysts for the characters’ growth and progress out of the darkness their lives fall into. There’s a warm thread of acceptance and forgiveness weaving through the sadness that lightens the whole story. While this isn’t necessarily realistic given the situations they find themselves in it made for a satisfying book to lose myself in for a few days, and I find myself a little sad to leave the characters behind.

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Colleen lives in Tampa, Florida with her husband, son, their dog Oliver and their fish Finn. When not working or taking care of her family she has her nose stuck in a book (and, let’s face it, often when she is working or taking care of her family as well). Nothing excites her more than discovering a new author to obsess over or a hidden jewel of a book to worship.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Simon and Schuster. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Review: Killer Instinct by S.E. Green

[ 1 ] October 15, 2014

Reviewed by Amanda Farmer

If you are familiar with the TV show Dexter, then you will know what to expect when reading the book, Killer Instinct. S. E. Green’s debut novel is about Lane, a female version of Dexter who struggles with the social awkwardness of high school and her dark urges to eradicate serial killers. Dexter was able to pull off his dark behavior, and the show was a success; however, I felt the novel fell flat and that Killer Instinct was unable to pull off the melodrama.

Throughout the book, we are given a look into Lane’s fascination with killers and her desire to become one. She wants to stop the urge inside of her that is calling her, so she decides to find people to “hunt” and kill. This is her story of discovering what works and what doesn’t. As she discovers what works for her, she is also chauffeurs her siblings around, works at a local animal shelter on the weekends, discovers the truth about her biological father and the lies that were told to her about him, and semi-dates a new guy at school. Along the way she gains the attention of a real serial killer that has come back to town and is leaving the victim’s body parts around town. What she does next will determine her fate and all those she loves before they become victims themselves. When she discovers who the real serial killer is, it will throw her and the reader for a loop and she will have her first taste at actually killing someone. How will it change her?

As I read this book, I felt the circumstances surrounding Lane’s story were implausible and unrealistic. Lane was able to get away with a lot, especially considering her parents are FBI agents, and the story just fell into place a little too neatly towards the end. The writing was good and kept the reader’s attention, but I just didn’t feel a connection to any of the characters in the book. I felt Lane was using her parents and was very selfish when it came to her siblings and few friends. I do not recommend this book; if you like the show Dexter you will be disappointed. I loved the show but not this book.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

Amanda loves spending time at home with her husband and their dog, Oreo. She loves reading, playing puzzle games, beading and watching movies. When she’s not reading, she’s working on her Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Simon Pulse. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Review: Hit by Lorie Ann Grover

[ 1 ] October 15, 2014

Book cover of Hit by Ann GroverReviewed by Christen Krumm

Hit by Lorie Ann Grover tells a story of tragedy and forgiveness through the eyes of high school senior, Sarah, and her teacher, Mr. Haddings.

Sarah has a major crush on her high school poetry teacher, Mr. Haddings, a local college student filling in as teacher for extra credit. However, with her being the student and he the teacher, a relationship between the two cannot happen. The day Sarah is finally going to confront Mr. Haddings about her feelings, consequences aside, she is hit by a car—by none other than Mr. Haddings.

Will Sarah survive the day? Will Sarah and Haddings’ relationship ever be?

Oh where to start? Starting this book I felt like it resembled If I Stay—the hourly format is similar. No biggie. Nothing new under the sun. However, I don’t feel like it worked as well for Grover’s story. Many times I was distracted by the fact that in parts we were still in the same room, same character’s head, but it was broken up into ten to fifteen minutes increments.

The whole teacher/student attraction reminded me a lot of the teacher/student attraction in Pretty Little Liars. I wish we had a little more backstory. I felt like we got a few bread crumbs here and there, but nothing was expounded upon. In the end it left me with two characters I really wasn’t sure I cared about.

I was a little disappointed that the mom was the stereotypical “un-cool” mom. She was whiny, overbearing, and just plain annoying. The fact that Sarah went back and forth wanting her mother was confusing to me because anytime there was interaction between her and her mother, she couldn’t stand her.

While I like the story jumping between Sarah and Haddings, Haddings’ voice seemed. . . feminine. Also, I felt like Haddings turned from a concerned teacher to stalker all in the name of the reader getting the story. He’s slinking around corners, sneaking closer to doctors when they are informing Sarah’s mother of her condition, and eavesdropping way too much. And by the time we got to the end of the story I was still unsure on Haddings feelings towards Sarah.

I so, so wanted to love this book. The whole thing seemed to go very quickly. Sarah was hit by Haddings, goes into surgery, and is released the next day. Given this is based loosely on a true story, it just seemed crazy fast. Hit is one you could hit or miss.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆ 

Christen is a ravenous reader, wanna be author, Litfuse Nester, and slightly addicted to coffee. Lives in Arkansas with her husband and three mini people. Connect with her at her blog: http://ChristenKrumm.com or Twitter @ChristenKrumm.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Blink. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Pre-Release Blitz: Caged in Winter by Brighton Walsh

[ 1 ] October 15, 2014
Welcome to the pre-release celebration blitz for Caged in Winter by Brighton Walsh!

pre-release blitz banner for Caged in Winter

5 lucky readers will win a copy of the book – enter below!

About the book

In this emotional and sexy New Adult debut from Brighton Walsh, the only thing more frightening than commitment is hope…

Aspiring chef Cade Maxwell is immediately, viscerally attracted to Winter Jacobson. But it’s not her mouthwatering curves he’s drawn to—it’s the strange emptiness in her eyes. When Cade saves her from a drunken customer with grabby hands, he’s shocked at her response…

Winter doesn’t need Cade’s help. After a lifetime of getting by on her own, she’s happy to rely on herself. She’s exactly seventy-six days away from graduating college, and if she can hold it together that long, she’ll finally be able to rise above the crappy hand she was dealt.

But now, every time she turns around, Cade is there, ready to push her, smile at her, distract her from her plans. Winter knows she can’t afford to open up—especially to a man she’s terrified to actually want…

About the author

Brighton Walsh spent nearly a decade as a professional photographer before deciding to take her storytelling in a different direction and reconnect with writing. She lives in the Midwest with her husband and two children.

Learn more about the book

Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads | Author’s website

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Review: When We Fall by Emily Liebert

[ 4 ] October 14, 2014

book cover of When We Fall by Emily LeibertReviewed by Rebecca Donatelli

Admittedly so, I was drawn to When We Fall from the beautiful cover it presented. In typical stereotypical female fashion, just as this story reads, I made a quick judgment, not realizing what the book’s contents actually held. Full of hope, I thought this would be a light and lovely romance, but in turn, was the opposite. It was an emotionally challenging read and based on a topic I tend to shy away from: nasty girl drama. When I read, I like to get away from everyday occurrences and enjoy getting swept up in fantasy and light-heartedness. For me, I struggled to get through this novel, even though it was written well. It touched on insecurities, jealousy and flaws of female friendship, which held truth, but was too much for me to handle. While all of these things are seemingly normal, for me, reading is an escape and with this, I felt like it was all too close to home, which made me shy away from really getting into it.

Allison, and her 10 year old son, Logan, move back to New York a decade after her husband passes away. She is eager to move forward, put the past behind her and focus on her career. Ready for change, she befriends Charlotte, her best friend’s wife. At first glance, the friendship seems like exactly what the other one needs, but as it falls apart, the women are exposed for what we all say we are not: jealous, gossipy, judgmental and crass. Maybe I did not enjoy this book because of that. I like to believe that, when faced with horrible challenges and circumstances, that we (women) will all stand together in a united front and love and support each other while fighting the good fight. In this instance, too many comparisons were brought to life. Two women, in transition, going through parallel instances, reminded me of how we like to tear each other down when we are trying to get back up and I did not like it at all.

Although Charlotte appeared to have it all, like most of us, she shielded and hid some of the things really going on in her life. I rooted for Charlotte the entire time and did not particularly care for Allison’s character. She came across naïve and allowed for much animosity to play a part in what should have been two sad people coming together. Although Emily Liebert writes beautifully, and really pulled emotions out of me, I felt drained after reading this. My favorite thing about reading is being able to not think, and I felt that I was thinking way too much while struggling through this one.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

Rebecca is passionate and insane, empathetic and aggressive, loud and predictable. She loves reading, writing, shopping and creating. She is what she is and it may not be what the world wants but it is what it is. Love.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Penguin Group. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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