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Review: Save Me by Jenny Elliott

[ 2 ] April 8, 2015

save me book coverReviewed by Amanda Farmer

Save Me by Jenny Elliott had a promising premise–it’s set in a small coastal town in Oregon, it has whales, witchcraft, demonic possession, angels, and romance. What could go wrong you ask? Well, everything is a little cliché, the romance is too insta-love for my taste and the story is way too neatly wrapped up in the end.

Save Me is a story about Cara, an eighteen year old senior in high school who meets David, an older guy, over summer break. They hit it off but once school starts they are unable to continue their relationship due to him being a student teacher. She feels she is old enough to make adult choices although her mother disagrees. The story focuses a lot on the couple’s instant love connection. They went out on one date…that’s a pretty fast love connection!

The story then changes focus to Cara’s best friend, Rachel, who is possessed and into witchcraft. I didn’t really buy into the storyline of witchcraft or possession and the reasons provided by the author for the possession are laughable. Cara was selfish towards anyone but herself and it’s no wonder Rachel left to be with her boyfriend and became “possessed”. And then there is Garren’s character. He is just thrown in to be a friend to Cara since Rachel isn’t being her friend anymore. And let’s not forget David’s ex-girlfriend who just happens to be in a cult…

I found this story to have too many loopholes and the characters were just not likable at all to me; they were flat and one-dimensional. This story focused way too much on Cara and her “love” for David. I didn’t find myself caring one way or the other about them. I also found myself struggling to finish this book. If the author writes more books I’m unlikely to pick them up. Her writing was too choppy for my taste.

I would recommend Save Me to mature teens (since there is a student/teacher relationship) or for those looking for a quick read. I did enjoy reading about the whales although I am not really sure why they were in the story to begin with…

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 Macmillan. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Review: Girl Before a Mirror by Liza Palmer

[ 3 ] April 8, 2015

girl before a mirror book coverReviewed by Amanda Schafer

Anna Wyatt has worked her tail off to prove she belongs in the advertising business with all the men who run it, but she just can’t seem to get where she wants to be. She has a dream of landing a large company and proving it’s not just a man’s world and if she can get the Lumineux account she might just have a chance! When she and Sasha get the go-ahead to head to the RomanceCon in Phoenix, she knows she’s on her way. Anna knows that she’s changed a lot in her own life in order to prove to herself and to others that she is worthy of what she wants. Little does she know that her slogan for Lumineux – Just Be – is exactly what she needs to do in her own life. She needs to realize that she is in charge of her own destiny and can make anything happen.

While in Phoenix at the RomanceCon, Anna and Sasha both quickly learn things about their own lives. Anna meets Lincoln Mallory and her year-long dating hiatus takes a quick nosedive! She finds herself rapidly falling in love with Lincoln, but she’s scared out of her mind in the process. Trying to convince herself it’s just a fling she goes back to real life and continues working on Lumineux. What happens when the men in charge continue plowing over her surprises not only Anna, but all the people around her as well. It’s during this moment that Anna finally becomes her own heroine and takes full charge of her own life.

Liza Palmer is a great author of women’s fiction, but Girl Before a Mirror seems to be a fiction book and a self-help book all wrapped up in one. If you don’t read self-help books, but always wanted to, this might be a good option for you! Palmer really “tells it like it is” while adding humor and reality to the story. There were a few aspects of the story that I didn’t understand but it didn’t detract from the point of the novel: Just Be. Be your own heroine. Be in charge of your own story. I think we all need to be reminded how to do this from time to time and Palmer does a great job of it.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Amanda lives in Missouri with her engineering husband, two sons, and one daughter. In between homeschooling and keeping up with church activities she loves to read Christian Fiction, Women’s Fiction, and any Chick-Lit. She never goes anywhere without a book to read!

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

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Review: Contradictions by Tiffany King

[ 3 ] April 7, 2015

contradictions book coverReviewed by Rebecca Donatelli

Tressa Oliver is a bad girl, drinking, dancing, partying and playing all of the time. She blows off her classwork and finds more enjoyment in hanging out with her roommates and participating in social events than passing her classes.

Trent Lawson is a handsome nerd who is too serious, too boring, all work and no play. Tressa and Trent are obviously incompatible, per Tressa, although the adorable attraction between the two is undeniable. In this fun and easy read, not one that causes too much thought, the reader follows as Tressa changes and Trent attempts to save her from the fall.

After a horrible accident during a night of partying, Tressa realizes it is time to get back on track and make something of herself. In this process, she finds love, loses friends and reevaluates what she wants out of life. She realizes that partying isn’t going to get her where she wants to be and to become who she wants to be. With the help of Trent, the last person she thinks can help her recover from the mess she’s made; Tressa just may end up with her happy ending.

Overall, I enjoyed Contradictions. It was easy to get through, although very juvenile. The flirting was cute and the characters lacked depth, but sometimes a simple book is just what the Doctor ordered. Typically the main male character is the one looking to be saved while the timid female support is waiting in the wings. In this book, it was the opposite. Trent is shy and inexperienced, while Tressa is tough and rough around the edges. Although this book was “cheesy,” it hit the spot and I was able to breeze through it quite quickly. If you are looking for a fun fast read, this is the way to go.

My only issue was that I had not read the previous two books, which makes me unsure of the characters and if they played a part throughout the series. If so, this could be why some of the characters lacked depth for me and why I couldn’t come to love them as I would have if I followed them from the beginning.

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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Review: The Long and Faraway Gone by Lou Berney

[ 4 ] April 7, 2015

long and faraway gone book coverReviewed by Lauren Cannavino

Oklahoma City in 1986 might seem like forever ago to some, but for the characters of Lou Berney’s The Long and Faraway Gone, that period of time is forever burned in sharp memories. Wyatt Rivers, a private investigator from Las Vegas, is brought back to Oklahoma City on a job to discover who is harassing a local club owner and finds that in the process, he must face his own harassing memories of a time long ago. For the beautiful nurse Julianna, there was never an escape from the city and as a result, she has never been able to escape from the recollections and wonderings of her beautiful older sister Genevieve’s disappearance from a local fair all those years ago.

Wyatt was a young man working at a movie theater in 1986, the only survivor of a robbery that claimed the lives of five of his coworkers and friends. He can’t shake his survivor’s remorse, paired with the unanswered question of why he was spared, and all of his past comes flooding back to him as he finds himself tangled up in his Oklahoma City past. For Julianna, there are more questions than answers regarding her sister’s disappearance at the fair and she soon finds that she will face no limit too great, in trying to get to the bottom of what really happened to her sister that day. When the main suspect in the case, a seedy carnival worker named Crowley, comes back into the picture, Julianna finds herself thrown into a new level of obsession regarding her sister’s case.

Wyatt and Julianna do cross paths, but the novel is woven through with both stories, flush with memories, action, painful memories of fear and piled high with questions that no one can answer. The Long and Faraway Gone mixes the young versions of Wyatt and Julianna with their older selves and lets the past bleed into the present beautifully. Events often do shape lives and for these two characters, their pasts are very much a part of not only their presents but also are responsible for the way they view and live their lives.

Each chapter of the story is broken into character sections and while there is an urgency at times to reach the next unfolding of a particular plot within the text, there is no disconnect or lags in the novel as it switches perspectives. Author Lou Berney does an excellent job of breathing life into his characters and their pain, wonder, confusion and stress all come forth in engaging ways. The book acts as a reminder that relationships and the hardships people all face, past and present, all somehow end up connected and remain part of life no matter how much time has passed. Berney crafts a soulful story that connects all dots, but shows that sometimes even with answers, voids may still remain.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Lauren Cannavino is a graduate student, freelance writer, wine lover, and avid reader. Random musings can be found over at www.goldiesays.com.

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

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Giveaway: Icefall by Gillian Philip

[ 3 ] April 6, 2015

icefall book coverI have 3 copies of Icefall by Gillian Philip to give away!

Open to US and Canada residents only

About the book

The story began with Firebrand in the 16th century on the far side of the Veil that protected the Sithe’s peaceful world from our own troubled one. But Sithe Queen Kate NicNiven had her eyes set on more than her own kingdom and determined to tear down anything in the way of her ambitions. Seth and Conal MacGregor are two brothers with a complicated relationship who end up on the wrong side of both the Veil and Queen Kate. Firebrand followed the two as they fought to survive in a foreign land embroiled in religious wars, as well as protect the Veil and reclaim their birthright from the Queen.

Bloodstone found the brothers in modern day England after spending centuries hunting for a mysterious gem demanded by Queen Kate. But in those years they also managed to slip through the Veil on a few occasions—and cause no small amount of violent havoc. Meanwhile, a young thief named Jed Cameron gets swept up in the struggle between worlds and is thrust into the fray of intrigue and betrayal. In the collision of two worlds, war and tragedy are inevitable, especially when treachery comes from the most shocking of quarters.

In Wolfsbane, the drama reached a shocking fervor. Rory, the son of Seth MacGregor, was angered by his house arrest and the looming death threat from Queen Kate—so the prophesied savior of the Sithe followed the footsteps of his father and crossed the Veil. On the other side he met Hannah Falconer, who would do anything to escape her worldly woes, even if it meant taking up with the strange and wild Rory. Meanwhile, Seth struggled ever more against the wicked Queen and when years of stalemate were shattered by a surprise attack, he was devastated to learn just who had betrayed him.

Now, in Icefall, the final installment in the Rebel Angels series, death stalks Seth MacGregor’s clan in their otherworld exile. Kate NicNiven is close to ultimate victory, and she is determined that nothing will keep her from it. Not even the thing that took her soul: the horror that lurks in the sea caves. But Kate still needs Seth’s son Rory, and his power over the Veil. And she’ll go to any lengths to get him. Seth’s own soul is rotting from the wound inflicted by Kate, and survival for his loved ones seems all he can hope for. But might a mortal threat to his brother’s daughter force him to return to his own world to challenge Kate? And will Rory go with him? Because Rory suspects there’s a darkness trapped in the Veil, a darkness that wants to get out. But only one Sithe knows how near it is to getting its way: Seth’s bound lover, the witch Finn. Nobody gets forever. But some are willing to try…

Rendered with complex characters full of life and a world fraught with intrigue, Philip has exquisitely brought the Rebel Angels urban fantasy series to a thrilling end.

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Review: The Precious One by Marisa de los Santos

[ 3 ] April 6, 2015

the precious one book coverReviewed by Alysia George

Marisa de los Santos’ beautiful writing, as in all of her novels, held me captive from the first page of her latest work, The Precious One. The charmingly descriptive prose and interesting plot line kept me riveted throughout most of the book. De los Santos has a one-of-a-kind voice and I always look forward to reading her books.

Each chapter of The Precious One is told in the alternating viewpoints of two half-sisters, Taisy and Willow. Separated not only by distance, but in age by nearly 20 years, and having vastly different life experiences, the sisters begin their story by having no more than the DNA of their father in common, and no relationship at all. The product of a happier second marriage, Willow has grown up being the object of affection of a doting father, and has no experience of the cruelty and cold indifference subjected upon her older sister by the very same man.

Although Taisy and her twin brother, Marcus, have been shunned by their father since their teen years, Taisy never stops craving his approval and love. Therefore, when he has a health scare and calls upon Taisy to stay in his home for an extended visit, she feels compelled to go, a decision that will change the course of her life. This single decision will in fact impact not only Taisy, but many others as well – especially Willow.

The Precious One is the story of a hesitant yet burgeoning relationship between two sisters, but it is also interspersed with romantic interests for both Taisy and Willow, and the mysterious history of their father, a man who has hidden a lifetime of secrets from all of his children. Taisy and Willow’s journey of self-discovery, as they learn to be sisters to one another while also coming to new understandings about themselves and their father, is a tumultuous ride. The story is uniquely told, but loses some of its spark just when it hits the climax. After some pretty amazing build-up, the final chapters were a bit of a letdown. As a reader, I was expecting and craving something more. Nonetheless, the book is more than worth reading, even though the ending wasn’t quite what I hoped it would be.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Alysia lives in Metro Detroit with her husband and four children. She writes about family life, parenting issues, and other things of interest to her on her blog, Michigal.

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

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