Publicat în Livia Harper

Party Dress (Greta Bell #2) by Livia Harper

Synopsis:

Greta has her man, but paradise isn’t all she hoped for.

His frat brothers aren’t exactly welcoming her with open arms. Everyone still thinks she killed Amber. Especially the police. But her lips have been sealed by Blake’s kisses.

She adores spending all her time with him. She adores having such an amazing man to call her own. But her once-wild stallion is having a much harder time adjusting to life as a couple. He balks every time they’re seen in public together, and can’t resist the lure of wicked temptresses like Jessica James.

If Greta wants to keep him, she’ll have to find a way to fit in with his crowd. Luckily, Blake has plenty to teach her about being popular. His lessons are vile, hateful things that make her stomach turn. But she’s willing to do anything to have the life she wants—even if it means teaching Blake a lesson or two of her own.

He’ll learn. Eventually.

Review:

The story of the complete madwoman Greta Bell continues in this sequel with the same insane style that we got used to in the first novel of the series, but everything escalates to a whole new level. Perhaps some readers might find this progress as a good thing, but unfortunately, I couldn’t stop thinking that it’s such a disappointment…

Yes, the whole story grows from crazy to demented, to unbelievable. But that’s exactly the problem: that with every new, mad turn, the storyline loses its realism. The first novel of the series, Boyfriend Glasses instantly caught my interest mostly because of its strong grip in reality. Yes, it was very far from normal, yes, the protagonist was totally insane. But even so, her story looked like something that might happen in real life, something that you might read in the newspapers, something that might be the headline of the news that you’re watching on TV. There are sick, undiagnosed people that are walking freely, unsupervised between us, that are not treating their mental issues, that are pretending to be normal and it takes a while until everyone around them realizes that something is a bit off. So Boyfriend Glasses was exactly the story about someone like that. Shocking, but still so, so realistic and so, very gripping because of that.

Now, Party Dress, keeps up or actually increases the adrenaline of Greta’s story. Every new chapter is truly unexpected and mind blowing. But by doing so, you get more and more often the feeling that you are reading an invented scenario. You no longer think “Ohmygod, this could happen to anyone, people like this might live all around us!”. On the contrary, so many times I found everything exaggerated and just rolled my eyes on the improbability of all the events.

Depending on your preferences, you might enjoy this book more or less than the first one. It is a good story, it has every needed element to make you addicted, it leaves you breathless over and over again. But your own taste will actually be the one to determine how you will feel about it in comparison to Boyfriend Glasses. For me, the first novel was undoubtedly better. But for you, it might be the opposite. There’s just one more book left in the series and still, despite my current disappointment, I’m dying of curiosity to see how the story will evolve.

Publicat în Kim Liggett

The Grace Year by Kim Liggett

Synopsis:

A speculative thriller in the vein of The Handmaid’s Tale and The Power. Optioned by Universal and Elizabeth Banks to be a major motion picture!

SURVIVE THE YEAR.

No one speaks of the grace year. It’s forbidden.

In Garner County, girls are told they have the power to lure grown men from their beds, to drive women mad with jealousy. They believe their very skin emits a powerful aphrodisiac, the potent essence of youth, of a girl on the edge of womanhood. That’s why they’re banished for their sixteenth year, to release their magic into the wild so they can return purified and ready for marriage. But not all of them will make it home alive.

Sixteen-year-old Tierney James dreams of a better life—a society that doesn’t pit friend against friend or woman against woman, but as her own grace year draws near, she quickly realizes that it’s not just the brutal elements they must fear. It’s not even the poachers in the woods, men who are waiting for a chance to grab one of the girls in order to make a fortune on the black market. Their greatest threat may very well be each other.

With sharp prose and gritty realism, The Grace Year examines the complex and sometimes twisted relationships between girls, the women they eventually become, and the difficult decisions they make in-between.

Review:

I started this book. Found it too slow after some pages and abandoned it for a few weeks. Afterwards, I started seeing it mentioned all over the Internet as one of the best new stories you could put your hands on. Got back to it and… couldn’t stop until the ending. At 6AM… Daaaamn, what I was about to miss if I didn’t give it a second chance!

I honestly thought that I’ve read so many Young Adult dystopian novels for the last few years that there’s no chance of any new book of this type to still surprise me or get me hooked up. That’s pretty much what I had in mind when I started The Grace Year and the slow paced beginning didn’t really encourage me to change my opinion. I’m so grateful that I trusted those articles saying that you shouldn’t miss this book!

Slowly, the classical story of the rebellious girl who opposes the traditional and over controlling society starts to grow new and surprising threads and lets you uncover hidden meanings. Perhaps the storyline doesn’t differ so much from other books of this kind. But there’s so much more depth between the pages, so much freedom to choose whatever you wish to understand from it, so much pain and hope and happiness and destruction, all of them entwined together, all of them starting to gradually flow through your blood stream. Moreover, the most important and impressive fights are not the ones with other people or with the horrific system, but the internal ones, with your own beliefs, with everything that you grew up to have faith in and that is slowly shattering behind your eyes.

Your eyes are wide open, but you see nothing.” This is what the story is about. About getting out of your comfort zone, opening your mind and seeing the verity against all odds, letting go of all the pride and certainty that what you know is what the truth really is. Because that’s the hardest fight you could ever win and some of us never do.

The book is violent and bitter, with small moments of hope that sparkle like lost fireflies in the darkest night. Even the ending, although you might call it a somewhat happy ending, is not bringing any miraculous changes. But it does leave traces of hope: of a better life, of a better society, of hidden kindness that lies within the people you wouldn’t expect and in the most unforeseen places. And sometimes, this is the best we can do and the most realistic aspiration that humanity could have.

Publicat în Cyndy Aleo, Uncategorized

Undying (Undying #1) by Cyndy Aleo

Synopsis:

What if the world isn’t ready for your miracle?

Cameron Tattersall’s wife, Adrienne, should not be cooking breakfast when he wakes up. After all, he buried her yesterday. Yet the woman in his kitchen not only claims she is his wife, but also refuses to accept that she’s supposed to be dead.

Cameron doesn’t know what this woman is: hallucination, con-woman, or bona fide miracle. For all he knows, he’s crazy, but her reappearance may return the only thing he ever wanted: a life with Adrienne.When their families discover Cameron isn’t alone in his house, the couple learns coming back from the dead has its own set of trials: angry surviving family members, confused insurance companies, and a media storm that simultaneously wants to build the couple up and tear them down. There’s also the matter of just who, or what, was buried in that coffin. Or not buried.

Thrust into the spotlight, Cameron and Adrienne have to decide whether living under a microscope is a fair trade for a miracle, and to reconcile their need for privacy with the desire for answers.

Review:

I probably cried when I was reading some sad books when I was a child. I definitely remember crying a damn cascade while reading half of the Harry Potter books. But it’s been decades ago and since then, my masochistic brain keeps looking for books that would tear me apart completely and make me feel everything that the characters feel at such a deep level that I’d forget that I’m crying for the pain of an imaginary person.

When I started this book I chose it because of how interesting the idea looked. Maybe it’s a thriller with an impostor trying to impersonate the dead wife of a poor husband. Maybe it’s a zombie book. Maybe it’s a fantasy one. A dead wife showing up in her husband’s bed next day after her funeral? I literally had no idea how things could have evolved. But what I definitely didn’t expect was to cry uncontrollably after the first chapter. I have no words to explain how amazing this book is. Without notice, the story starts flowing through your veins, touching every part of your soul, forcing your brain to feel absolutely every single damn thing that Cameron feels. You’re thrown into a path of pain and anguish so deeply that you feel the story at the most personal level. Because what is the biggest fear of all of us? Not spiders, not monsters, not poverty, not loneliness, not our own death. But the death of our loved ones. And the feeling that no matter how much you’d wish, there’s absolutely nothing that you can do to stop that, to help them, to keep them longer next to you.

Cameron goes through all of this in the year when he finds out that his wife, Adrienne has a devastating form of cancer. She’s young, beautiful and healthy and all of a sudden the terrible news descend over them. And one year is not enough to get used to the idea that the whole future that you imagined is shattering to pieces. But one year of suffering is also clearly not going to make things easy when he wakes up after her funeral to find her in their kitchen. Young. Beautiful. Healthy. Undead. And cooking breakfast.

So what follows is exactly what you would imagine. Because Cameron lives in our universe, not a parallel one, not in a fantasy world. He lives in this one, where miracles don’t exist, when you cannot continue your life like nothing happened after the wife that you just buried literally just came back from the dead. The world will not allow it. You will become a „case” that needs to be studied and explored from all the practical angles: legally, medically, by lawyers and doctors and churches and media. Over and over again, since there seem not to be any answers that could solve such a mistery.

I loved how realistic the author treated her idea. She took an unthinkable fact and throw it in our society that is very far from accepting the impossible as possible. There’s nothing forced, nothing romantic and magical about it. Her characters don’t treat the whole thing just like a miracle because the human brain simply doesn’t work like that. No matter how enormous the happiness and amazement can be once they accept that what happened is true, they are still very well anchored in reality and take the whole right and mundane road to understand how was it possible.

Every reaction, every gesture, every word and action, even the ones that piss you off are all perfectly drawn and completely understandable and realistic. I loved the fact that nothing comes easily, that the characters actually go willingly into the chaotic carousel that their lifes became, even if sometimes they cannot feel in any other way than totally overwhelmed by what’s happening to them.

If you have any doubts about reading this book, just take them all and throw them into the garbage right now. You need this book! The storyline is flawless, the writing, the characters, the action, everything has a bright, shinny „perfect” label on it! You will be carried through the whole spectrum of emotions, you will cry, laugh, be surprised, melt into a puddle, die of curiosity and live the whole story at the same intensity as the characters are.

Publicat în April Fernsby, Uncategorized

A Deadly Delivery (A Psychic Cafe Mystery #1) by April Fernsby

Synopsis:

Karis Booth has had psychic abilities for as long as she can remember. But this is the first time she’s used them to solve a murder. 

Things are changing rapidly for Karis. As well as filing for divorce from her unfaithful husband, she decides it’s time to make peace with her estranged sister, Erin. With trepidation, Karis visits the café which Erin owns. To her great relief, Erin welcomes Karis back into her life with open arms. 

During their reconciliation, a young woman, Carmel, calls into the café with a bread delivery. As Karis watches Carmel, she experiences a strong psychic vision. She sees two shadows following Carmel. Only one of the shadows belongs to Carmel — the other belongs to the person who is going to murder her later that day. 

With help from her sister and an old neighbour, Karis does all that she can to find out who murdered Carmel. It doesn’t help that the investigating officer is an ex-boyfriend who broke up with Karis because he couldn’t cope with her psychic abilities. Despite this, Karis won’t rest until she finds the killer. 

Review:

We all have guilty pleasures that we try and try to stay away from, but eventually we just give up to and succumb into temptation. Don’t we? One of this guilty pleasures of mine are chick lit books. I know, I know. The stories are more or less the same every time, there are no „wow” events that would blow your mind and the scenarios are not bringing anything challenging for your brain to digest. But still… every now and then I start missing chick lit so much that my kindle gets filled up in 2 hours with 137 books that will probably remain unread for the rest of my life. Pretty much like when you’re going to the supermarket while hungry and end up with a whole cart of useless products that will expire and die in your fridge, completely untouched. Do I ever learn my lesson? Nope. But the good part is that… well, at least books don’t expire. And honestly speaking, the pleasure with which I finally read that one chick lit book (from the hundred that I got) is priceless.
This time, my spark of joy was A Deadly Delivery: a crime/mystery novel, with a touch of paranormal. Fast, well executed, with a little bit of everything. The main storyline follows the suspicions death of one of the side characters but on the way, we discover a background family story full of guilt and regrets, a romance that was supposed to be dead and buried but seems to blossom unexpectedly and a lot of charming and heart warming characters. There’s literally not a single thing that I disliked during the whole reading time.
One of the things that surprised me is the age of the heroine. I’m used to this kind of books to have young and innocent main characters, whose naivety accentuates the humor of the uncanny situations they end up into. And considering how easily manipulated Karis was during her marriage, initially I thought she’s just a young chick, just discovering her new inner strength along with her psychic abilities. The surprise came later, when I found out that she’s a middle aged woman, with an adult daughter even and that she’s actually having this wakeup phase way later than expected. All of a sudden, the story caught new shades and I was forced to rethink everything in my mind, from the look of the characters to the relations between them and to the impact that every action has on them. And weirdly, the story became even better from that point on.
There’s not a lot to tell about the book if I don’t want to give spoilers that would ruin your reading. If you’re in the mood for something light that will put a smile on your face, A Deadly Delivery is a good choice. It’s not a shallow story, it has a good background, some heartwarming moments and follows some deep topics that are somehow avoided in this genre: abusive relationships, difficult choices when it comes to sick or old family members, the way past events that seemed unimportant actually leave scars that are never erased, asking for forgiveness and allowing you also to forgive yourself, etc. It’s a bittersweet read, leaving you with a warm feeling in the end, but carrying you through some areas that normally you might try to avoid thinking about.
Publicat în Amy Garvey

Cold Kiss (Cold Kiss #1) by Amy Garvey

Synopsis:

It was a beautiful, warm summer day, the day Danny died.

Suddenly Wren was alone and shattered. In a heartbroken fury, armed with dark incantations and a secret power, Wren decides that what she wants—what she must do—is to bring Danny back.

But the Danny who returns is just a shell of the boy Wren fell in love with. His touch is icy; his skin, smooth and stiff as marble; his chest, cruelly silent when Wren rests her head against it.

Wren must keep Danny a secret, hiding him away, visiting him at night, while her life slowly unravels around her. Then Gabriel DeMarnes transfers to her school, and Wren realizes that somehow, inexplicably, he can sense the powers that lie within her—and that he knows what she has done. And now Gabriel wants to help make things right.

But Wren alone has to undo what she has wrought—even if it means breaking her heart all over again.

Review:

I chose this book after I browsed through some GoodReads reviews and most of them were describing it as beautifully written, lyrical, heartbreaking, haunting, etc, etc. Plus, a lot of readers were mentioning how they cried while reading it more than they did in their whole life. And that’s exactly what I was wishing for. A book that would rip my heart apart, that would tear me to pieces and stick me back together, that would leave me breathless and make me live for a few days inside the protagonist’s mind.

And while I did enjoy going through the story, the book definitely didn’t reach the expectations those reviews created.

Wren is a teenager that inherits magical powers from her family, but is still pretty much witless of the way she can use the powers inside her, since they are a taboo topic in her house. So when her first love dies suddenly, she impulsively takes the decision to try and bring him back. Only that, of course, the… thing that she brings back is barely a shell of the boy that she loved. And slowly, day after day, she becomes more and more conscious of the fact that maybe this wasn’t such a great idea after all.

I loved how the author made a very clear difference between the flashbacks from the past, that illustrate the amazing relation between Wren and Danny and the present, when things are so wrong, but still tender, painful but still heart warming. Before Danny starts becoming a complete different being, in the first weeks after his death (and resurrection), he still holds most of the parts that made him be who he was. He’s still the one Wren loved more than anything, he’s still her comfort zone, still the one that makes all bad things disappear with only a hug. It’s only his need of her that starts growing in an alarming way, his increasing addiction to her presence that makes things worrying. And slowly, his memories that Wren was hoping to hide are now all surfacing, making him confused, angry and dangerous.

When the protagonist meets another boy that is also gifted in a similar way she is, and whom unexpectedly, seems to know what she’s done, it starts becoming obvious that she needs to fix the mistake that she made.

I loved the realistic feeling that the book offered, despite the fact that it’s a fantasy story. The magic has its own place, while life continues to be very normal in most of the ways. Wren has to juggle between hiding her undead boyfriend, going to school and a part-time job, not losing her best friends for good, following her mum’s rules and keeping a decent relationship with her family. And between all of this, she also has to deal with the guilt of falling for somebody else, while Danny’s new existence is revolving only around her.

Even if usually I roll my eyes when I hear about love triangles, the author did such a good job that it didn’t disturb me at all. Considering that Wren is only 17 and that her life is such a huge chaos, I didn’t find it weird or inappropriate that the new guy looks like the only light in the whole darkness. Plus, she’s mature enough to solve her own mess without turning to him as a damsel in distress. Or, at least, not more than she should. All her mood swings are comprehendable, all her drama queen moments are very much self explanatory because of the pressure that she’s holding on her shoulders.

I enjoyed the whole ride, I emphasized with all the characters and understood their decisions and motivations. I didn’t find any remarkable personalities in any of them, but they are all well written, without major flaws and give you the feeling that they could be any real persons that you could meet in your everyday life.

The strongest point of the book remains the romance. It’s sweet and surprisingly, comes in smaller doses than expected and makes you melt a little bit every time when you encounter it.

Of course the novel will have a different effect on each reader. But in the end, I believe it’s almost impossible not to like the story. Because what’s the biggest fear that we all have if not the fear of losing our loved ones? And so, just by thinking about it, all the actions and decisions of Wren become alternative realities of what each of us, the readers, might do in an imaginary world where death wouldn’t be the final step.