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Tag: "Romance"

Review: Cure for the Common Breakup by Beth Kendrick

[ 4 ] June 20, 2014

18667977Reviewed by Lindsay Yocum

Summer Benson was positive about one thing. She did not want to be proposed to. Not by the gorgeous pilot, Aaron Marchind, anyway. But her feelings were left scattered when it happened. It could have been the timing–a terrible accident happened that left Summer feeling scared and alone. Now she really was alone, and after the break up and accident, she didn’t feel like being alone in her apartment. So she picked up and left with her eyes set on a place called Better Off Bed-and-Breakfast that was nestled away in sleepy Black Dog Bay, Delaware, a far cry from the hustle and bustle she was used to back home in New York.

Better Off Bed-and-Breakfast was run by the stern and often times very understanding, Marla. Marla set up her bed and breakfast to help those in need of getting over a bad breakup, and help women learn to live again and regain the self confidence that seems to dwindle to the last thread during such times. It was said that a woman knew it was time for her to leave and that she was “cured” of her break up when she saw a black dog running on the beach. It seemed like such a great little spot, I couldn’t help but thinking how amazing a place like this would be in real life.

Summer got out of the funk she was in after a threatening call from her best friend, Emily, telling her to get her act together. Summer did just that, and when she headed out into this whimsical little town, she made her presence known–in a good way. Summer is the kind of woman that speaks her mind and just rolls with the punches, and after standing up to the awful Mimi Sinclair, she kind of became the town hero. Everyone seemed to love her, except for Dutch Jansen, the town’s Mayor. Summer had a slight run in with his rose bushes upon entering Black Dog Bay, and he was very clearly not amused and not interested in Summer, at all. Or so it seemed.

It was all going so perfectly for a while until Dutch’s reelection is threatened thanks to bitter Miss Huntington who owns practically all of Black Dog Bay. She’s a women full of spite, and most of it seems to be directed towards Dutch and Summer’s flourishing new relationship. After a deal is made with Miss Huntington, will this be the end of her and Dutch? Would he ever forgive or understand her reasoning?

I give Cure for the Common Breakup a rating of 4–it was so funny and so easy to read. I was left swooning over all the characters in the book long after I had finished it. It was the kind of chick lit that women go crazy over. I know I did.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Lindsay Yocum resides in California with her 5 year old firecracker daughter, Bear, and her hilarious husband. She spends her free time traveling, baking, ruining DIY crafts she finds on Pinterest, and running, when she isn’t nose deep in a book.

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

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Review: Liv, Forever by Amy Talkington

[ 1 ] June 17, 2014

18077961Reviewed by Carrie Ardoin

I don’t read too many ghost stories, mostly because my husband sometimes works nights. When I’m alone at home, no doubt my overactive imagination will start creating noises and shadows that aren’t really there. But the thing that made me want to read Liv, Forever, is that it is told from the point of view of the ghost. This makes the story inherently less scary.

As a matter of fact, Liv, Forever is more a love story than a ghost story. Our main character is Liv Bloom, who’s been sent to the prestigious Wickham Hall boarding school as one of its’ few scholarship students. Liv has been bounced from foster home to foster home during her sixteen years, and although the school and the students are rather intimidating, she’s happy to find a place she can call home.

Until one tragic night only a few weeks into the school year, Liv is violently murdered. To her surprise, though, she finds she is still walking around the Wickham campus. She’s a ghost–and it will be up to her friends to find out the truth about what happened to her. But who will listen to Gabe–another scholarship student who’s a loner that everyone thinks is crazy because he sees and hears things that no one else can, and Malcolm–the golden boy who fell quickly and inexplicably in love with Liv before her death?

Let me go ahead and get my main problem with this book out of the way. Liv and Malcolm only had about six weeks together before she was murdered. So was it insta-love? Yes and no. I did find it annoying that Malcolm and Liv had that cliche “locked eyes from across the room” moment, but I didn’t really find that they were boyfriend and girlfriend as much as two teenagers just hanging out, flirting and getting to know each other. Yes, they had strong feelings for one another, but they didn’t get to act on them before Liv died. They are very sweet together, and this is what made the novel so heartbreaking for me.

Though the story does contain a great deal of romance, you never forget that there is a mystery to solve. As it turns out, Wickham Hall has a grisly history and a disturbing body count. When Gabe and Malcolm get closer to the truth, they both find their lives in danger. So you can rest assured that even if you’re looking for ghosts, they are definitely the center of this book.

The climax took a dark turn, and I think that’s why Liv, Forever will appeal to readers of different genres. I, for one, found myself both shocked, angered, and in tears over what happens in the last couple of chapters. I absolutely recommend this book to both lovers of romantic tales and the paranormal.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Carrie runs the blog Sweet Southern Home, and is a stay at home wife and mom to one little boy. When she’s not reading, she’s usually watching Netflix with her husband, playing outside with her son, or baking. Her family would describe her as sometimes annoyingly sarcastic, but mostly lovable. 

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

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Review: Tyringham Park by Rosemary McLoughlin

[ 3 ] June 15, 2014

Tyringham-Park-220x330Reviewed by Rachel Mann

Note: This review may contain mild spoilers.

Tyringham Park, by Rosemary McLoughlin, is a fascinating and unsettling book, a page-turner enlivened by clear writing and cruel characters.

I’ve been on an upstairs-downstairs kick lately, likely because of an interest in Downton Abbey, so I’ve been drawn to books that explore class division, like Manor of Secrets. At first, I thought Tyringham Park was going to present more of the same elements I associate with this kind of upstairs-downstairs fiction: poor little rich girls and poor little poor girls, luxurious country houses and inappropriate love affairs conducted in secret.

It turns out Tyringham Park has all these things, but McLoughlin’s use of these elements ends up being quite unexpected.

The book starts with, and revolves around, the disappearance of a beautiful toddler from an Irish estate, the Tyringham Park mentioned in the book’s title. The loss of this child, Victoria, has a massive effect on nearly everyone who knows her, from her absent mother and the kindly housekeeper to her vicious nanny, Dixon, and her uglier older sister, Charlotte. The only person who doesn’t seem that concerned is Victoria’s father, a military official posted to England on government business.

After Victoria vanishes, life trudges on, and things seem to get worse for just about everyone. The family travels from one great estate to another, but that doesn’t stop them from suffering through infidelity, emotional abuse, unplanned pregnancy, betrayal, and entrapment.
Several of the novel’s characters are cruel, nasty, despicable, or unlikable. Even some people who seem not that bad turn out to be awful, while others seem to rise above their nastiness only to sink into it again. The one character who turns out to be a nicer person than I’d originally anticipated is the same absentee father who didn’t grieve too much about Victoria. Absence is better than malevolence.

For much of the book, misdeeds remain hidden and evil characters bounce back from their defeats. (Of course, there are a few exceptions to this.) The book seems to indicate that suffering through a cruel childhood can make someone irredeemable. Charlotte, the poor little rich girl, is infected by childhood misery and abuse; Dixon, whom you could call the poor little poor girl, is one of the nastiest fictional characters I’ve encountered. She makes Mr. Brocklehurst in Jane Eyre look like Santa Claus.

The plot repeatedly surprised me in small ways, and the book has at least one powerful, final plot twist I didn’t see coming. I did find it a little disconcerting to spend so much time with characters whose unhappiness is so difficult to overcome and who struggle to find joy or to move past others’ wrongdoings, both real and imagined. Yet, simultaneously, I could hardly put Tyringham Park down.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Rachel, who has a Ph.D. in English, is a freelance writer/editor and a voracious reader. You can talk to her about books at http://twitter.com/writehandmann.

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

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Review: The Wicked We Have Done by Sarah Harian

[ 2 ] June 10, 2014

download (9)Reviewed by Sarah Lelonek

Sometimes it takes me a while to fully get into a book. I read a few pages, put the book down, read a few more, forget about the book. This is how my reading adventure with The Wicked We Have Done by Sarah Harian began. I’m glad to say about half way through the book, I couldn’t put it down. I found myself enthralled with the story, but more so, I wanted to know the past of each of the characters.

The premise of this book is that in the near future, the government has created a new way of deciding if an alleged criminal is guilty or not. It’s called the Compass Room. Basically, these alleged criminals are put into this arena of sorts, kind of like a Hunger Games situation. They spend 30 days inside the arena. During this time, they are tested mentally and physically while their brain waves are being sent to a machine. If the machine sees the person as not guilty, after a month, the person goes free. If found guilty, the person can be killed on the spot.

Evalyn Ibarra finds herself in the Compass Room with a slew of other young adults who may or may not have committed crimes out of hatred. While we don’t know exactly why Evalyn is there, we know that it involves something pretty horrific. The reader spends the rest of the novel learning about Evalyn’s past, as well as learning about the other inmates.

I did generally enjoy this book. There were some parts that really stuck out as memorable. The writing was pretty captivating at times. What I didn’t like about the book was this concept of the Chaos Theory. This theory was brought up a few times, very vaguely, in flash backs to Evalyn’s past. I think that there needed to be more explanation of how this theory affected Evalyn and those around her if the author was going to name the entire series Chaos Theory. And that’s another thing: I really didn’t think this needed to be a series. I don’t like when authors extend a book into a series when she could have summed everything up within one book. I was okay with the ending. I would have liked maybe one more chapter, but other than that, I really don’t know what will happen in the second book.

All-in-all, I enjoyed the concept of the Compass Room. I liked trying to figure out if the inmates were guilty or not. I thought sometimes that the execution of the story and the background could have been a little more detailed. I think this is a fun, if not twisted, read. It was pretty good, but not the best.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

Sarah Emily Lelonek has a BA in English Literature from Kent State University. She is planning on attending Graduate School for English Rhetoric and Composition. She enjoys traveling and gaming while on breaks from working on her novel.

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: Four Friends by Robyn Carr

[ 2 ] June 5, 2014

{D2D78CE2-1E17-4331-8B3B-E96637D9D5C4}Img400Reviewed by Rebecca Donatelli

Four Friends is a contemporary novel with bits and pieces of love and romance scattered throughout. This is the story of three women, a fourth is added later, that bond together through dark spaces and life-altering changes in their personal lives. Throughout this novel, my heart broke; I laughed and felt extremely close to each character at one point or another. It is full of substance and a great summer read.

Three friends, Gerri, Andy and Sonja, are each travelling through a different point in their lives. Gerri is one who has it all, without any major bumps in the road. She soon becomes aware of her husband’s affair six years ago and her life is turned upside down. Her journey is heart wrenching and her growth throughout the novel gripped my heart.

Andy, the one I consider a “hot mess,” has trouble with relationships and the men she chooses to let into her life. After reading about her past loves, I felt that she was always looking for the wrong things in men – seeking out the troubled ones – until she fell for her contractor without knowledge of it.

Sonja reminded me a lot of myself a few years back. She is the holistic natural one who loves New Age ideas, willing to pawn off her opinion on anyone who would listen…until everyone stopped listening–including her husband who leaves her.

Lastly, enter the new friend, BJ, whom I loved from the start. She has secrets but never lets it get in the way of being there for her new friends. She was a refreshing addition to the story.

All in all, I recommend this book to anyone and everyone. It is such a great easy read that is relatable and will touch you in some way or another. I love to see strong independent women deal with real issues and this book provided that for me and reminded me that we all go through these challenges and we all can come out on top.

Rating: ★★★★½ 

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 Little Bird Publicity. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Review: A Season of Change by Lynette Sowell

[ 1 ] May 28, 2014

a-season-of-changeReviewed by Amanda Farmer

A Season of Change by Lynette Sowell was my first experience with this author and I wasn’t sure what to expect from the description on the cover. This is the story of an Amish widower, Jacob Miller and his young children, Rebecca and Zeke, who are on Christmas vacation visiting family in Pinecraft, Florida. Pinecraft has been described as a sort of Las Vegas for the Amish. There are a lot of lee-ways and compromises there that the Amish don’t have at their homes, such as electricity and more colorful clothing.

While on vacation there, Jacob’s daughter, Rebecca, is struck by a car and suffers injuries that require the family to stay in Pinecraft a lot longer than originally expected. Jacob luckily has the support of the community and finds work to keep the family together and pay the bills. The little family continues to stay with their grandmother, Rachel, who is thrilled to have them there. While Rebecca is in the hospital, they meet Natalie, who is a retired circus performer and volunteers as a clown to cheer up the children in the hospital. The Amish family and Natalie form a bond that is complicated by their cultural differences. And to complicate matters, Natalie finds out that her mother, who has passed, was once Amish and Natalie wants to find them. Although Natalie understands they might not want to be found since her mother left them so many years ago. She can’t imagine or understand why her mother kept a secret her entire life.

Throughout this story, the readers see a different side of the Amish and Mennonite communities. It is a more relaxed side of them in Pinecraft. I enjoyed reading Jacob and Natalie’s story although I didn’t like the preachiness of the writing at times. Overall, the story was well written and flowed nicely. I liked how we, the readers, were able to see Jacob and Natalie’s relationship and friendship grow. I also enjoyed reading about Zeke and Rebecca’s antics; no matter what, children will be children, whether they are Amish or not.

I recommend this story to those who enjoy reading Amish fiction but not to those who prefer the more stricter Amish ideals. A Season of Change was definitely a more relaxed Amish story than others I have read. At this time, I am unsure if I will be reading book two in the series that is coming out later this year.

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

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 Abingdon Press. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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