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Tag: "Romance"

Review: Breaking Butterflies by M. Anjelais

[ 3 ] October 26, 2014

breaking butterflies book coverReviewed by Jessa Larsen

Cadence and Sphinx were promised to each other years before they were even born. Now, as they inch closer to adulthood, one is a quiet, timid mouse and the other a shining, blindingly bright star, about to burst. Cadence may not be particularly concerned, but Sphinx battles endlessly. She is debating whether or not her life is her own and if her happiness truly lies in her mother’s childhood promise. Or should she run, run as far as she can, away from the chaos that resides within Cadence?

Sphinxie is sweet, compassionate, and plain. Cadence is brilliant, charismatic, but so very damaged. As a child, he almost took Sphinxie’s life but now he is losing the battle for his own and is desperately clinging to life while lashing out one last time at everyone around him. As it becomes more apparently how very broken and dangerous Cadence is, Sphinx must ultimately decide if she will join his macabre dance or if she will finally, fully, truly escape his grasp.

Anjelais is only 18 and Breaking Butterflies is her first novel. Although she is a very promising, budding author and I enjoyed her work, her age and novice writing is apparent. I instantly felt like the exotic names the characters were given were a prediction of how the book would progress. I enjoyed the topic of a sociopathic, empty shell of a person, but it was pretty textbook. I didn’t feel like I got sucked into the fear and chaos that was meant to be Cadence or the desperation that Sphinx felt when she was with him.

Cadence is the typical serial killing male who is charismatic, attractive, and enticing. Sphinx is the plain-jane, girl-next-door, quite type. Who would ever suspect that Cadence would want to be with her? But wait, their mother dreamed up a plan when they were just children so even though the two teens are complete opposites and live in separate countries, they’re destined to be together. Oh, and Cadence is not only mentally ill, he’s dying of leukemia.

I saw what the author was trying to do and it was apparent enough to be distracting. There were a lot of interesting and emotionally investing topics, but Anjelais tried to do too much, thus not allowing the story to do enough. I think there is a lot of potential in Anjelais and I believe she will only get better with time if she workshops this piece and improves with her next book.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

Jessa lives in Utah with her husband, 2 sons, 2 dogs and a cat called Number One Boots Kitten. She is a full time mom and enjoys writing short stories in her spare time. She also likes watching anime, reading books, and playing video games.

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

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Review: Sharing You by Molly McAdams

[ 1 ] October 24, 2014

sharing you book coverReviewed by Jennifer Jensen

In her latest New Adult genre novel, Molly McAdams challenges her readers’ views on the the subject of infidelity. Sharing You is centered on twenty-somethings Kamryn Cunningham and Brody Saco, who meet and fall in love when Kamryn moves to his small town to escape a life of privilege and a loveless relationship. Brody is also dealing with demons of his own—a wife he no longer loves, and a five-year-old tragedy that continues to haunt him and keeps him in his tension-filled marriage out of guilt.

Kamryn and Brody are instantly drawn to one another, but Kamryn has no interest in being the other woman. Brody’s intense feelings for Kamryn and the belief that he is meant to spend the rest of his life with her give Brody the courage that he needs to finally end his marriage with the manipulative and spoiled Olivia Reynolds—if Brody can convince Kamryn that their love is worth waiting for, and if the secrets that they both carry do not tear them apart for good.

Molly McAdams was inspired to write Sharing You after meeting a couple who had met and fallen in love under similar circumstances to her fictional Kamryn and Brody. Anyone who has ever intensely loved another person will be able to relate to the emotions that McAdams describes in this book. There were several moments where I had to pause and reflect, knowing that the words I’d just read were something that I’ve felt in my own life and during my own romantic journey.

Sharing You is an addictive and easy book to read, the first from Molly McAdams to make its way into my to-read pile. While I enjoyed the book very much, I was taken out of the love story a little bit because of the dialogue. It was too rambling at times, and some of the things that Brody and Kamryn said to one another were a bit too unbelievable. Even so, Sharing You is a book I do recommend—if you can keep an open mind due to the sensitive nature of the subject matter.

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Jennifer graduated from the University of Utah with a BA in English. She occasionally dabbles with her own fiction writing, particularly with the Young Adult and Paranormal genres. She currently resides in Utah with her husband and daughter.

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

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Review: Where Treetops Glisten by Tricia Goyer, Cara Putnam & Sarah Sundin

[ 2 ] October 22, 2014

where treetops glisten book coverReviewed by Marisa Deshaies

Adding another stellar book to an already impressive collection of stories, prolific and award-winning authors Tricia Goyer, Cara Putnam, and Sarah Sundin have written a compilation of World War II inspirational romances sure to please their fans and add new readers to their bases. Where Treetops Glisten is a novella of Christmas stories based upon the lyrics of three Christmas songs originating during World War II. Symbolism from the songs supports each author’s individual story, and the authors use their chosen songs as elements for their characters to utilize within the given plot. I enjoyed this creative twist to the creation of the novella because the authors—already renowned for their World War II knowledge—found a new way to connect historical fact with fiction.

Centered around a family of a mother and father, grandmother, and three young-adult children, Where Treetops Glisten is a novella of the Turner family of Lafayette, Indiana. Cara Putnam begins the novella with middle child Abigail’s story in White Christmas. Abigail, a perfectionist and caretaker figure, stays at home during the war to complete her degree and works part time at a candy shop to support herself as much as possible. She has sworn off men for the duration of the war to protect her broken heart; however, she learns in White Christmas that love is about much more about risk than protection when she comes across a broken young man in need of help. Set on the home front, the war itself does not factor into White Christmas as much as I was expecting—and wanting to experience—of a novella centered around World War II. Nevertheless, I enjoyed Putnam’s story because she did focus her plot on topics not touched upon often in stories from this time period. Jackson—the male protagonist—is fighting for his family’s farming livelihood; the details about the occupation and lifestyles of those who farmed during the Great Depression and World War II drove the story in an exciting way. Abigail, on the other hand, was a sweet and endearing character whose story was fun to watch unfold because of the dichotomy of her pragmatism and desire for love.

Moving on to the brother of the family, I’ll Be Home for Christmas is Pete Turner’s story of love and redemption. Pete returns from the European Theater a depressed and angry man looking to fill the holes life has made from years of bad choices and harsh consequences. Instructed by his pastor to give as a way to feel whole again, Pete never expects that the little girl he chose to give to would be the one to lead him to his fulfillment. Through caring for this little girl, reconnecting with her mother, and learning through experiences with them about God’s role in his life, Pete finds the redemption he needs to become his best man. I’ll Be Home for Christmas’s author, Sarah Sundin is by far a favorite of mine for both her World War II storylines and her writing itself, so this story is the one I looked forward to the most (with no offense meant to the other authors). My assumption was correct, since I fell in love with Pete and his leading lady; keenly felt the emotions the characters experienced; and related to Sundin’s theological lesson about fulfillment through God alone. Her writing sings and her love for the time period, history, and her characters shines off the page.

With the baby of the family, Goyer spins a tale of honest and forgiveness in Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. Meredith “Merry” Turner is aptly named for her cheerful disposition and love of Christmas. The youngest sister who desires to stand upon her own two feet, Merry is determined to make a difference in the lives of the broken and battered soldiers around her. She yearns for independence, her own identity, and to leave her broken heart behind in the United States. But her broken heart—and the man she unable to stop loving—follows her to the battlefield. Admist death and destruction, Merry finds God and love are present even in the most dire of circumstances. Goyer deftly wields historical facts into her fiction, which alone is enough of a reason for her books to stand out amongst the many World War II novels. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas within the previous statement is unique for a few reasons: Goyer set the story in the Netherland, rather than England or France, the typical setting choices for World War II stories; her protagonist and antagonist are not easily discernable within historical knowledge; and unlike the other two stories within this novella, Goyer’s story takes place on the battlefields of World War II. I loved Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas because its setting was exactly where I wanted to be when reading a World War II story—the battlefields of Europe. All of the fears and drama experienced by the Greatest Generation came alive in Goyer’s story.

Where Treetops Glisten is the first novella I have read of my own choosing, and overall I would choose to read another if I favored the authors or was drawn in by back cover copy. However, I did not consider differences between novels and novellas until I began reading Where Treetops Glisten, so the shorter lengths in which the authors have to work their plots sharply came across to me. Frequently when reading this novella I was frustrated by what seemed to be a lack of substance or depth to the characters. However, text length is not determined by an author’s choice, so I may just have to compare other novellas to Where Treetops Glisten to see if novella-type characterization varies from that of characters in novels. As mentioned above, I love Sarah Sundin’s novels and have multiples already of Tricia Goyer’s and Cara Putnam’s—no doubt, they will all be wonderful.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

An alumna of the University of Delaware’s English department, Marisa holds a Master’s degree in professional writing from New England College. Her dream job is to work as an editor for a publishing company. A voracious reader of all types of literature, her favorite genres include the classics, contemporary and historical fiction, Christian fiction, and women’s “chick-lit”.

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

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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: 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: 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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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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