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Tag: "Romance"

Review: Let the Storm Break by Shannon Messenger

[ 2 ] June 29, 2014

13645358Reviewed by Sarah Lelonek

I could spend this entire review saying how fantastic Let the Storm Break by Shannon Messenger is and how much I loved it, but I won’t. Instead, I will say that this book was just as addicting and fast-paced as the first one. I was impressed at how Messenger could keep up the momentum from the first book. The two novels flowed seamlessly into one another to create a driven story that will no doubt continue into her third novel.

At the beginning of the novel, Vane and Audra are separated. Audra, Vane’s one time guardian now sort-of girlfriend, needs some space as she needs to come to terms with how she is now entwined with her people’s new king as well as the fact that her mother is a traitor to their people. Vane, still coming to terms with being a wind-controlling sylph, misses Audra and would do anything to get her back. I felt like Audra’s choice was at first justified, but later on, I thought she needed to put the needs of others above herself as she was trained to do as a guardian.
I thought the story progression from here on out was quite innovative. I know that the classic love triangle and unsuspecting hero plots are in just about every book these days, but adding in the way Vane and Audra communicate with the wind really makes the plot stand out. There were twists–some I saw coming, some I didn’t. There was a new love interest. I liked this new interest, even if Vane saw her as just a friend, because she was completely different in character than Audra. I enjoyed the progression of the plot involving the war within the sylphs. Everything moved within the story with an ease that made me want to keep reading.

If I had to pick something I wasn’t crazy on, it would be the end. I don’t think that it was a bad ending, or even that bad of a cliffhanger, but I felt like the ending gave away a little too much. I feel like I can basically plot out what’s going to happen in the next book based on the end of this one. On the other hand, I would have been upset if the book had ended two chapters earlier and I knew nothing. It’s a Catch-22 situation, but all-in-all, I will say that at least the book ended in a concise manner and wasn’t drawn out.

To sum things up, Let the Storm Break is a great read for any young adult. There isn’t any language or adult themes that a parent would have to worry about aside from the occasional kissing session. I enjoyed how the characters developed in this book. I usually feel like the second book in a story is a fill, however, this is definitely not the case here. I fully enjoyed reading this novel and hope you will, too.

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 Simon Pulse. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Review: Torn by Kim Karr

[ 1 ] June 22, 2014

687689Reviewed by Rebecca Donatelli

Torn is the second book in the Connection series. If you have not read it yet, I definitely recommend doing so. I absolutely loved the first book of the series, so my excitement to read Torn was heightened even before I got my hands on it. I have a great love for trilogies and even though this one only had two books in the series, I wanted to see how it would wrap itself up without having a third. The difference between this book and others I have read like it, is that it did not draw out the initial love story for the entire length of the first book. We have all seen it before: First book is about the love story and typically a fight to be together. Second book is about falling in love and getting married and the third book is usually a twist, murder, girl-gone-missing and in the hospital story that ends in a marriage. With this second book, it mainly focused on Dahlia and River getting through hard times, a lie of omission if you will.

Dahlia and River are a lovely couple who literally fell in love at first sight. It wasn’t until years later that they actually found each other again and since reconnecting, their love only grew stronger. Torn starts out exactly where the first book ended, with River and Dahlia on their way to get married until Dahlia gets a phone call that Ben is still alive. Ben, a character I wanted to like but really felt no sympathy for by this point, has been hiding out in witness protection while Dahlia fell apart, along with the rest of his family. Ben did it all for her, which is a major problem I have with his character. He is that person that believes they are selfless while doing the most selfish thing. Had he not come back into the picture, I may have believed him to be a hero, but since he had to come back, had to try and pick up where things left off before he “died,” he was inconsequential to me from that moment on.

Kim Karr explores true love in this book, while showing us the roller coaster ride that every couple goes through to get to their happy place. She throws out a few curve balls and defines what it means to unconditionally love someone. Dahlia is just like every woman in the world, believing she has one once-in-a-lifetime love and to her surprise, realizes that there is more than one person out there for everyone. This book is a beautiful capture of what it means to forgive, forget and let go of the past.

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

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Review: Four Seconds to Lose by K.A. Tucker

[ 2 ] June 21, 2014

foursecondstolosekatucker_zpsc5a27f4dReviewed by Lindsay Yocum

Trying to escape a life that you don’t want doesn’t seem to be as easy as one would think. Getting a new lease on life – new identification, name, credit cards, car, basically anything you would need to restart somewhere new – seemed like a safe bet to Charlie Rourke. Only that it wasn’t when the time came to do a simple favor for her father, Sam because she was under the impression that was over and in the past. After fulfilling Sam’s request, Charlie is bound and determined to make a life for herself, away from Sam under this new identity that he offered her.

It’s how she meets Cain, the super gorgeous and rich owner of Penny’s, a strip club located in Miami. Yes, she decides to become a stripper. It is fast and easy money–she will be able to get out from this new identity and on her own in no time with that kind of money. According to her new found friend, Ginger, she can make more money working at Penny’s than any other strip club in town.

Will her past catch up to her before she has a chance to get away? Cain himself has a dark past, but has completely managed to turn his once dismal life around for the better, and help women better themselves. He’s not a typical sleazy strip club owner; he’s more of a life coach to the women that work for him. After doing a background check on Charlie, he finds some things out that make him feel as though he has to help. But Charlie isn’t really Charlie, and what happens when fake Charlie is found out or gets caught in her web of lies?

I did not think that I would enjoy Four Seconds to Lose at first because I am not really a “boxing” or “street fighting” kind of person, but I have to say that I really enjoyed it. I loved how the characters fit so well together and the readers really get to know and understand them and their stories. They had some pretty incredible and sad lives. It really changed my initial reaction towards the book. It was really well written. K.A Tucker has never disappointed me with any of her novels so I am not quite sure how I ever could have doubted her with this one. I give this book a rating of 4, and recommend this to anyone who loves a good romance/thriller type of book.

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 Atria Books. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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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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