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Friday, January 30, 2015

Review: The Five Stages of Falling in Love by Rachel Higginson


Title: The Five Stages of Falling in Love
Author: Rachel Higginson
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Mark My Words Book Publicity
Source: Review copy from publisher
Format: E-book
Elizabeth Carlson is living in the pits of hell- also known as grief.

Her husband of eight years, the father of her four children and the love of her life, died from cancer. Grady's prognosis was grim, even from the start, but Liz never gave up hope he would survive. How could she, when he was everything to her?

Six months later, she is trying to pick up the pieces of her shattered life and get the kids to school on time. Both seem impossible. Everything seems impossible these days.

When Ben Tyler moves in next door, she is drowning in sorrow and pain, her children are acting out, and the house is falling apart. She has no time for curious new friends or unwanted help, but Ben gives her both. And he doesn't just want to help her with yard work or cleaning the gutters. Ben wants more from Liz. More than she's capable of ever giving again.

As Liz mourns her dead husband and works her way through the five stages of grief, she finds there's more of her heart to give than she thought possible. And as new love takes hold, she peels away the guilt and heartache, and discovers there's more to life than death.
Let me start by saying this book made me feel, all kind of feelings… a lot of feelings. Rachel Higginson’s writing is emotive, evocative and realistic, so get tissues ready because you are going to need them.

The story starts with a prologue in which Liz’s husband, Grady, is in the hospital. In their interactions you can see the love they have for each other and the deep connection they share and then you see Grady die.
The first chapter starts six months after Grady’s death. Liz is trying to cope with her new circumstances, losing the love of her life and raising alone four children under the age of 8. The house is a mess, her life is in chaos, the kids are acting up and her grief is tearing her apart. She has the occasional help of her sister, but it’s not enough.
To add to her discomfort a new neighbor moves to the house next door. Ben Tyler is very friendly, but the last thing Liz wants is to pretend to be fine and act nicely towards him. Liz tries to keep her distance from Ben, but he knows she needs help and he likes her and her kids and helps her in anyway he can, like mowing her grass, taking the trash out, shoveling the snow, helping the kids with their homework and such.
Slowly and over time Ben becomes a good friend and somebody Liz knows can count on. The only problem is Liz is still deep in her grieving and having Ben close makes her feel guilty, like she’s cheating on Grady. Ben knows this and understands it. Everyday that passes he gets closer to her and to her kids; he wants to be a part of their world, but he also knows he needs to be patient and not to put pressure on Liz, she needs to experience her grief and move out of it before they can start something.
Liz is going through a lot and her emotional conflicts only get worse with time. She can’t understand how she can feel something for Ben when Grady was the love of her life, her best friend, her everything. How can she move on with another man while her heart still aches for her husband? She needs time to understand that is okay to fall in love again and that moving on doesn’t mean she has to stop loving Grady. Ben knows this and is willing to wait for her until she is ready.

Liz, OMG poor Liz! Page after page my heart ached for her. Rachel Higginson does an outstanding job with her characterization. She made her so real that it was impossible not to feel and experience what she was feeling. She was so real it was impossible not to put myself in her shoes and think what if that was me? And let me tell you, that something I don’t wish on anyone.
Liz goes through the five stages of grief and due to Higginson’s writing we don’t have another option than to go along with her on her healing journey and what a journey that was.

I don’t have enough words to express how amazing Ben was. He is a bit too perfect, but it doesn’t feel false, he is simply that special. He knows a relationship with Liz won’t be easy; she is a widow and a mother of four. He knows they are a complete package and he loves them and accepts them just the way they are. He knows Grady will always have a special place in their hearts and he is not there to compete with Grady’s memory nor is he there to replace him. He just wants to be part of their family and be the man/person they need. *swoon*

Higginson also does a great job with the kids; they all are experiencing grief differently and according to their ages and personalities. It was very difficult to see them grief their father and come to terms that he was not coming back. *grabs Kleenex*
I loved the relationship they have with Liz and how supporting they were with her. I also loved their interactions with Ben and some pearls of wisdom they share with Liz.

The Five Stages of Falling in Love by Rachel Higginson is a very emotional and moving story. It’s a story that will make you question, “What if that was me?” It’s a story about loss, healing, second chances and the power of love.
The Five Stages of Falling in Love was my first book by Rachel Higginson, but I can guarantee you it won’t be my last.

I recommend this book to all of you. The Five Stages of Falling in Love is an amazing book that needs to be read.

My Verdict: 5 Paws

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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Review: Trade Me by Courtney Milan


Title: Trade Me
Author: Courtney Milan
Series: Cyclone, book 1
Genre: NA
Publisher: Courtney Milan
Source: Review copy from publisher
Format: E-book
Tina Chen just wants a degree and a job, so her parents never have to worry about making rent again. She has no time for Blake Reynolds, the sexy billionaire who stands to inherit Cyclone Technology. But when he makes an off-hand comment about what it means to be poor, she loses her cool and tells him he couldn’t last a month living her life.

To her shock, Blake offers her a trade: She’ll get his income, his house, his car. In exchange, he’ll work her hours and send money home to her family. No expectations; no future obligations.

But before long, they’re trading not just lives, but secrets, kisses, and heated nights together. No expectations might break Tina’s heart...but Blake’s secrets could ruin her life.
Trade Me is the first book in the Cyclone series by Courtney Milan.

It’s not secret I love Courtney Milan’s historical romance books. She is my to-go author when I’m in the mood for historical romance and I think I have read every single one of her books. Saying I was intrigued when I saw she was writing a new adult series is the understatement of the year. I wonder if she could pull it off and write as a good NA as she writes HR. I’m glad to say she nailed the NA genre.

Tina Chen arrived to the US from China when she was just a child. Her family escaped China after her father was incarcerated and tortured for his beliefs. Tina knows the meaning of hardships and has been living on the poverty edge since she can remember. Tina studies and works to pay her bills and help her family.
On of those days when everything is going wrong for Tina she comes to class to a discussion about people who uses food stamps. This discussion is lead by Blake Reynolds. Blake is the son of Adam Reynolds, owner of Cyclone Technology and one of the richest men in the world. After Tina gives Blake and the class her piece of mind Blake apologizes to her, to which Tina tells him if they were to trade lives he couldn’t manage to live like her for two weeks.
What Tina doesn’t know is that Blake is in need of a change. Since he can remember he has been working for his father and the pressure of following his steps is taking a toll on him. What better way to disconnect from his reality than to trade lives with Tina, even if it’s only for couple of weeks.

When I read the term billionaire in a book the first things that comes to my mind are playboy and arrogant. That’s not the case with Blake, he’s very down to earth and he is conscious that he had it easier than most. He is far from a playboy, he is more like a geeky cute guy.
Since Blake can remember he has worked for his father and his company. As a toddler in TV commercials and later on more involved in the different projects the company has produced. His father wants him to take over his job and has been grooming him for that day. Even though Blake loves his father and the company, taking over his father’s role is not what he wants to do with his life and the pressure of denying his father is getting to him.

The only thing Tina wants in her life is to have a good and stable job where she earns enough money to pay bills, save some money and be able to help her family. That has been her goal her whole life; for that reason she studies and works hard.
Due to her circumstances Tina has to grow up too fast and has too many responsibilities on her shoulders.
Tina doesn’t understand why a man like Blake can be interested in her. She doesn’t think she’s any special or very beautiful and she knows he could have any girl he wants; so why her?

I loved Blake, I liked how real he was and how determined he was to earn Tina’s love and respect.
I didn’t love Tina, but I liked her. I liked her strength and how firmness of purpose she was. I only wish she would have been less insecure and believe in her worth a bit more.

Their relationship moves slowly and with some setbacks because Tina puts many stops to it. My problem with this was that at the end I was more invested in them as individuals than as a couple. Although I liked them together I think they were missing some spark.

There were two things I really loved about this book, one of them was the diversity in the characters and the other the supporting characters, in special Blake’s father, Adam, and Tina’s father, Mr. Chen.

Another character that really shined was Tina’s best friend, Maria. I really liked her as a friend and as a person. I liked that Courtney Milan gave an opportunity to a character like her. I can’t say much without giving spoilers away, let’s just say I’m dying to get my hands on next book, Hold Me, which will be Maria’s story. Hold Me will be release at the end of this year.

The end is not a cliffhanger, but one of hope of good things to come. Blake and Tina are in a good place but things are just starting for them. Luckily for us readers, Milan is planning to write the continuation of their story in the third book in the series, Find Me. Find Me will also have Adam’s point of view.

Trade Me is not your usual NA book; it doesn’t have unnecessary angst, the characters are mature and the issues they deal with are very real. Trade Me is what NA should be.
I recommend Trade Me to NA, contemporary romance and Courtney Milan’s fans.

My Verdict: 4 ½ Paws
Other books in the series
Trade Me
Hold Me (Late 2015)
Find Me (TBA)

Other reviews Goodreads

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Hot Off the Press: January 27th Releases

January 27th

TITLEAUTHORSERIESGENRE
Hunger's Mate Part 3A. C. ArthurShadow Shifters #5 (Part 3 of 4)PNR
In His KeepingMaya BanksSlow Burn #2Romantic Suspense
ChaosLanie Bross Fates #2YA/Fantasy
Gemini CellMyke ColeShadow Ops #0.5Military/Fantasy
Forged in FireJuliette CrossThe Vessel Trilogy #1PNR
Tear You ApartSarah CrossBeau Rivage #1YA/Fantasy
Flirting with DisasterVictoria DahlJackson: Girls' Night Out #2Contemporary Romance
DeadeyeWilliam C. DietzMutant Files #1Sci fi
Never Surrender to a ScoundrelLily DaltonOne Scandalous Season #3Historical Romance
Playing DirtyHelenKay DimonBad Boys Undercover #1Romantic Suspense
Pacific FireGreg van EekhoutDaniel Blackland #2UF
Wolf WinterCecilia EkbäckMystery/Historical Fiction
Viper GameChristine FeehanGhostwalker #11PNR
Bound by FlamesJeaniene FrostNight Prince #3PNR
Panther ProwlingYasmine GalenornOtherworld #17UF
ZombifiedAdam Gallardo Zombie Apocalypse #2YA/Zombies
Beyond LimitsLaura GriffinTracers #8Romantic Suspense
Crave by an AlphaFelicity HeatonEternal Mates #5PNR
If the Viscount FallsSabrina JeffriesThe Duke's Men #4Historical Romance
The Empty ThroneCayla Kluver Heirs of Chrior #2YA/Fantasy
For KeepsRachel LaceyLove to the Rescue #2Contemporary Romance
Caught in the ActKim Law The Davenports #2Contemporary Romance
Catch a Falling HeiressLaura Lee GuhrkeAn American Heiress in London #3Historical Romance
Bringing Home the Bad BoyJessica LemmonSecond Chance #1Contemporary Romance
The Devil Takes a BrideJulia London The Cabot Sisters #2Historical Romance
Against the SkyKat MartinBrodies of Alaska #2Romantic Suspense
Misery Loves CompanyTracey MartinMiss Misery #3UF
Ace's WildSarah McCartyHell's Eight #7Historical Romance
In For the KillShannon McKennaMcClouds & Friends #11Romantic Suspense
FairestMarissa MeyerLunar Chronicles #0.1YA
Star Trek: The Next Generation: TakedownJohn Jackson MillerStar Trek: The Next GenerationSci fi
Inside a Silver BoxWalter MosleySci fi
Echo LakeCarla Neggers Swift River Valley #4Contemporary Romance
Master SergeantMel OdomThe Makaum War #1Sci fi
Girl Before a MirrorLiza PalmerWomen's Fiction
The Originals: The RiseJulie PlecThe Originals #1Vampires/UF
Falling for JillianKristen ProbyLove Under the Big Sky #3Contemporary Romance
The Three Fates of Ryan LoveErin QuinnBeyond #2PNR
Secrets of Sir Richard KenworthyJulia QuinnSmythe-Smith Quartet #4Historical Romance
In Your Wildest Scottish DreamsKaren RanneyHistorical Romance
OurselvesS.G. RedlingNahan #1UF
The Mime OrderSamantha ShannonBone Season #2YA/Fantasy
The Dragon ConspiracyLisa ShearinSPI Files #2UF
A Cold LegacyMegan ShepherdThe Madman's Daughter #3YA/Historical Fiction
The Sasquatch Hunter's Almanac: A NovelSharma ShieldsFiction/Magical Realism
Pacific FireGreg Van EekhoutDaniel Blackland #2UF
Atlanta BurnsChuck WendigAtlanta Burns #1+2YA/Graphic Novel
Guardian: A NovelErik WilliamsMilitary/Fantasy

Monday, January 26, 2015

Non-Review: Burned by Karen Marie Moning


Title: Burned
Author: Karen Marie Moning
Series: Fever, book 7
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Format: E-book
It’s easy to walk away from lies. Power is another thing.

MacKayla Lane would do anything to save the home she loves. A gifted sidhe-seer, she’s already fought and defeated the deadly Sinsar Dubh—an ancient book of terrible evil—yet its hold on her has never been stronger.When the wall that protected humans from the seductive, insatiable Fae was destroyed on Halloween, long-imprisoned immortals ravaged the planet. Now Dublin is a war zone with factions battling for control. As the city heats up and the ice left by the Hoar Frost King melts, tempers flare, passions run red-hot, and dangerous lines get crossed. Seelie and Unseelie vie for power against nine ancient immortals who have governed Dublin for millennia; a rival band of sidhe-seers invades the city, determined to claim it for their own; Mac’s former protégé and best friend, Dani “Mega” O’Malley, is now her fierce enemy; and even more urgent, Highland druid Christian MacKeltar has been captured by the Crimson Hag and is being driven deeper into Unseelie madness with each passing day. The only one Mac can depend on is the powerful, dangerous immortal Jericho Barrons, but even their fiery bond is tested by betrayal.

It’s a world where staying alive is a constant struggle, the line between good and evil gets blurred, and every alliance comes at a price. In an epic battle against dark forces, Mac must decide who she can trust, and what her survival is ultimately worth.
This is not a proper review, this is just my opinion about Burned and how I felt after I finished reading it.

Burned is the seventh book in the Fever series by Karen Marie Moning and it’s also the last book I’ll read in this series. Why? Because I’m very saddened to say Karen Marie Moning lost my respect towards her as an author. I know those are harsh words, but bear with me while I explain why I'm saying this.

One of the things I can’t forgive an author is not to be honest with herself/himself. I hate when authors kill characters to just bring them back in next books when they realize the readers didn’t like the new direction the series was taking (yes, Chloe Neill, I’m talking about you). Or when an author changes her/his original idea of a series just because her/his original idea wasn’t as commercial and well received as she/he was expecting to be, and sadly that is exactly what happened with Karen Marie Moning and Burned.

I’m one of those readers who didn’t like Iced. I didn’t like the child abuse to which Dani was submitted by Ryodan, I didn’t like her, a child, lusting after an adult and I didn’t like the implication of a relationship of a man thousand of years old with a fourteen year old girl. I know nothing happened between them, but just knowing that something was going to happen between them rubbed me wrong way and I know I wasn’t the only one that felt that way.

I’m pretty sure Moning received many messages with people complaining about this “pedophilic” relationship and instead of owning her ideas, her words and her work she turn her back on herself and went back to the safe formula that made her millions (Mac + Barrons = $$) and forgot entirely about Dani and her plans for her.

What happened to the Dani O’Malley series to which Iced was first book and Burned was supposed to be second book? What happened to Dani, the sparkling girl we met and loved in the Fever series (and even in Iced)? Let me tell you what happened to her in Burned, She didn’t work as well as a heroine (in Iced) as Karen Marie Moning was expecting her to work, so now she is gone! The Dani we loved and who was supposed to be the heroine of her own series sadly only survived one book, Iced. The Dani of Burned is not only no longer a main character, but she is also a completely different person. Her changes were so drastic and so very convenient that they are a lack of respect to the readers. Young, smart, funny, hopeful Dani was edited, reinvented and destroyed.

Even though I didn’t like Iced I applauded Moning for taking a risk and going where other authors were afraid of going. Unfortunately her bravery only lasted 495 pages, the page length of Iced.

Finishing Burned left me with a bad taste in my mouth and with a great feeling of disappointment. I loved the Fever series (first five books) and I hate feeling like I’m feeling right now. I feel like the Fever series were cheapened with this book, like if it now has a stain on it.

I know some people loved Burned and I’m happy for them, I really wished I was one of them, but sadly I’m not. I have come to my last stop, here I’m disembarking the Fever series train and if I ever look back I will only look back to first five books and will pretend the sixth and seventh books were never written.

My Verdict: 2 Paws
Other books in the series
Darkfever
Bloodfever
Faefever
Dreamfever
Shadowfever
Iced
Burned
Feverborn (October 20th 2015)
Feversong (2016)

Other reviews Goodreads


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