"When hard ice forms, any creatures in the water undergo extremely rapid freezing—so fast that the usual crystals of ice do not form. That speed leave
"When hard ice forms, any creatures in the water undergo extremely rapid freezing—so fast that the usual crystals of ice do not form. That speed leaves cells intact, and with unique chemical properties, namely abundant oxygen and glucose. Everything is preserved as it was when alive. Our challenge is to guide it back. Observe."
When love's timeline is limited, does it make that love any less meaningful? Reading the premise of The Curiosity sent a thrill reverberating through my body. From the Frankenstein-meets-The-Time-Traveler's-Wife storyline, to the ultimate romantic tragedy of finding a soulmate from another time and place—another plane—this was the kind of sci-fi novel I knew I had been waiting for for a long time. The good news is, in so many ways, this book blew my mind with its originality and argumentative depth. The bad news is, in so many more ways, it also disappointed me. My feelings, clearly, are mixed.
The Curiosity is narrated in the alternating voices of four arguably essential figures behind the Lazarus Project: Kate (the jaded scientist), Carthage (her controlling, mad-genius supervisor), Jeremiah (the judge and human subject), and Daniel (a seedy, seemingly useless reporter with an inflated sense of self-importance). Each point of view gives interesting perspectives on the discovery of the "unfrozen" man, Jeremiah, and the muddiness and uncertainty between these three characters are what contribute to most of the novel's tension—this was very well done.
Kiernan has the tendency to go into specific, sometimes rambly detail about, well, everything. I love how his style is both straightforward and analytical—like the scientific method—yet still profound. However, sometimes I felt like it was a bit too much; frequently, there is elaboration on what doesn't need to be elaborated, and it was frustrating and quite laborious to have to skim through all that to get to the good parts. And trust me—when The Curiosity got good, it got really good. The most exciting scenes of the novel—namely, Jeremiah's reanimation—are absolutely electrifying; they will make your heart pound wildly against your ribcage and your fingers tremble. These are the scenes that motivated me to continue reading the book, and that surpassed my expectations. But considering these brilliant pieces were so few and far between—nestled within long chunks of backstory and redundant ruminations—and clocking in at 464 pages, The Curiosity wasn't exactly an easy, or overall enjoyable, read.
In terms of actual writing style, Stephen Kiernan is no doubt, extremely talented. His voice flows vibrantly and cinematically, but gets stiff during Kate's narrations; she just doesn't seem relatable or likable to me. It bothered me that Daniel had to comment about how "hot" she is every few pages, in order for her attractiveness to be conveyed, but more importantly, she personally doesn't feel genuine. I'm unsure of whether this is because her female perspective was written by a man, or if her personality was just built like that—rigid and impersonal—but I hardly found myself rooting for her as the protagonist.
Since romance is among my favorite genres, I am typically a huge sucker for these types of "falling in love at the most inopportune moment" stories, but I felt the romance was misplaced in this situation. Kiernan begins with a sensational plot, but adding the romance in kind of cheapened it. Given the circumstances of high-profile scientific research and Kate's professional career, I was turned off by how her first encounter with Jeremiah immediately turned into a romance—it felt inappropriate, and largely, unbelievable. It was very well written and I did find myself being swept away by the angst that came with Kate's budding affection for the off-limits Jeremiah, but overall, I think The Curiosity could have been successful not being a love story.
While romance is not the biggest accomplishment of this novel, the intensity of thought-provoking questions raised, certainly is. Obviously, an ethical debate will come naturally with a storyline about a man who becomes a lab specimen, and the fact that Jeremiah is humanized by becoming the object of Kate's attachment further heightens the issue of morals and ethics. Both the scientific rationalizations and the convoluted line of events present readers with heart-stopping revelations and the frenzy that follows, and this was what made The Curiosity so provocative and so stimulating. To me, this novel isn't simply about a man who is revived, and a woman who loves him, but it's about two lost people who experience everything for the first time in their lives again; people who, through each other, are brought back to life.
Pros Creative, captivating plot // Multi-dimensional and deep-delving storytelling, rather than just spelling out what happens // Perspectives of different characters are very distinct (and switch from first to second to third person, something I've never encountered before) // Thought-provoking and controversial in topic
Cons Long-winded writing style // Bland, rather unmemorable characters, even when given emotions and a backstory // I had trouble sympathizing with Kate, which in turn, defeated the purpose of the "tragic romance" for me
Verdict The Curiosity is a fascinating study on human vulnerability, the virtues of love, the astonishing power of science, but it's also a rather bulky novel. Due to its drawn-out chapters and massive page count, I didn't have that much fun reading it, but do I recommend it to others? Yes, yes yes! It's an impressive debut, a force to be reckoned with. Stephen Kiernan begins with an original plotline and cleverly interconnected multiple perspectives to produce a thought-provoking, challenging, and incredibly dynamic debut that I can see doing well on the big screen (luckily, 20th Century Fox has already bought film rights!!!). I suggest you only pick this up if you have a lot of patience and some time on your hands—as much of a page-turner as this book is, it is NOT something you can read within a few sittings.
Rating: 7 out of 10 hearts (4 stars): Not perfect, but overall enjoyable; borrow, don't buy!
Source Complimentary copy provided by tour publicist via publisher in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you, TLC Book Tours and Harper Collins!)....more
"Do you remember the way? You can get to it around the side of the house. Just follow the path." If you'd asked me an hour before, I would have said no
"Do you remember the way? You can get to it around the side of the house. Just follow the path." If you'd asked me an hour before, I would have said no, I did not remember the way. I do not even think I would have remembered Lettie Hempstock's name. But standing in that hallway, it was all coming back to me. Memories were waiting at the edges of things, beckoning to me. Had you told me that I was seven again, I might have half-believed you, for a moment.
Neil Gaiman is one of those modern authors I automatically categorize as classic. I've loved his previous novels and all his little projects in between, and The Ocean at the End of the Lane solidifies his position as one of my all-time favorite writers.
Through a drowsy, overwhelming narrative, we follow the sudden, startling recollection of one man's past—one that is all of magical, terrible, and sobering. While visiting the little English country lane of his childhood, our unnamed protagonist reunites with a familiar face who prompts him to think of an old friend he hasn't thought about in years. Upon remembering one thing, he remembers everything.
Vividly Proust-like and told in calm, focused prose, this novel submerges readers into the sweet, wise, sometimes wondrous, and sometimes frightening mementos of a forgotten childhood, while expertly capturing the one-track mind of a seven-year-old boy. His memories immerse us into a world that is all of strange, fantastical, but still utterly believable—as well as introduce us to an intriguing character, Lettie Hempstock, who teaches us the most valuable lesson about being a friend.
The fantasy setting of the child's experiences is out of this world—literally. I don't know how Gaiman comes up with the most bizarre concepts and the most sinister of villains while still managing to sound so real, but he does it beautifully. The story definitely has dark undertones, but it is masked by the naïve tranquility of an ignorantly blissful child. Not only is this aspect of magical realism so smoothly incorporated, but the injustices and powerlessness of childhood are also exquisitely portrayed. Gaiman reminds us of what it is like to be young again—and through this reliving, we are forced to consider the underestimated wisdom of children, and the overlooked foolishness of adults.
Stylistically, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is quite easy and straightforward; at less than 200 pages, it is a slim volume—but it has a huge impact. In the veins of Marcel Proust and Georges Perec, Neil Gaiman acknowledges the sheer power or memory, imagination, and wonder, while providing a haunting reflection of what it means to remember, and what it means to forget.
Pros Stunningly perceptive // Light but meaningful writing style // Poetic // Sinister and dark at times, yet overall enlivening // Fantastical while still startlingly realistic // Poignant observations on memory, storytelling, and youth // If you're a Neil Gaiman fan already, this may become your newest favorite of his // Simply put: a good story
Cons Slow-moving at times
There was toast, too, cooked beneath the grill as my father cooked it, with homemade blackberry jam. There was the best cup of tea I have ever drunk. By the fireplace, the kitten lapped at a saucer of creamy milk, and purred so loudly I could hear it across the room. I wished I could purr too. I would have purred then.
Verdict Imaginative, chilling, and mournful to a past life, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a powerful novel about the importance of stories, seen through the impressionable, vulnerable eyes of a nameless child. The book juxtaposes supernatural occurrences in a contemporary setting to create the ultimate urban fantasy world, with splashes of nostalgia added in between that really disorient the plot's flow. Told in Neil Gaiman's trademark voice—so dark, but so eloquent—that made Stardust a huge hit, this #1 New York Times Bestseller is completely deserving of its widespread praise. I loved this book; it is all of gloomy, heartbreaking, and magical; in the end, it is completely hope-filled.
Rating: 9 out of 10 hearts (5 stars): Loved it! This book has a spot on my favorites shelf.
Source Complimentary copy provided by publisher via tour publicist in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you, Harper Collins and TLC!)....more
Something twisted in Sophie's stomach. "So you [guys] aren't serious?" She didn't know why she'd asked. Or why the answer was somehow important. [Gray'
Something twisted in Sophie's stomach. "So you [guys] aren't serious?" She didn't know why she'd asked. Or why the answer was somehow important. [Gray's] eyes opened and they locked with hers before drifting to her mouth. "No. A couple casual dates. More companionship than romance." "Oh," Sophie said, licking her dry lips. "I don't like you," she blurted out, feeling very much like a fourth grader. But she'd had to say something. He was just so close. "I don't like you much either," he said. But the way their bodies leaned toward each other made liars out of both of them.
Very few books can make me laugh out loud—particularly in the romance genre, unless it's over how ridiculous the dialogue or characters are—but Lauren Layne had me clutching my sides with her rare ability to combine heart-melting romance with caustic humor in this first full-length novel.
The magic lies in the protagonist, Sophie; a smart, but under-ambitious social butterfly who's always been happy with just being the fun one, she is probably one of the most lovable female characters I've "met," ever. Only with You is mostly from her third-person perspective, which sets the tone of the novel perfectly: just like her, it's snappy, sparkly, and witty. You can't not crack a smile every time Sophie makes a family-inappropriate remark or dives into a hilarious faux pas with Gray.
And it all starts when he mistakes her for a prostitute. The first time they meet.
Readers, you've been warned: this is not a sweet, love-at-first-sight kind of romance. It's a Wait—you're-not-a-gold-digger?!?!? kind of romance. And it's one of the best I've ever read.
Sophie's your typical fun-loving, confident party girl, but as her masked vulnerabilities are slowly revealed, readers discover she's also got a darker, more rebellious side. She refuses to fit into the cookie cutter mold of her lawyers-and-doctors family, or to live up to her boring-as-nude-pumps, perfect orthodontist sister—not because she isn't good enough, but because she doesn't want to risk disappointing anybody. For a girl who's always at ease with herself and possesses the uncanny gift of making others feel at ease with her, she's actually pretty vulnerable, and she's got quite a bit of figuring out in her life to do.
You'd think Grayson Wyatt would have less to worry about. For one thing, he's employed... hell, he's CEO, he's rich, he's respectable—and he's very much not as social as Sophie is. In his cold wall of solitude and brooding, he's a loner, always alone, but also... really lonely. There were deep aspects about his history that cut me deeply, but for the most part, his persona is hilariously stiff and awkward... not awkward in that he's poorly written, but awkward as in OMG!! The situations he and Sophie get themselves into will make you laugh so hard! His reserved personality is definitely a huge contrast to Sophie's bubbly, social demeanor, making them polar opposites, but you know what they all say: don't opposites attract?
The two spend the majority of the book hating each other's guts while constantly, secretly thinking about one another naked... the heated office arguments, the brilliant back-and-forth witticisms, and the sultry glances create the ultimate sexual tension. Gray's difficulty expressing genuine feelings, as well as Sophie's fear of being the class disappointment—as always—further accentuate the impossibility of an actual relationship between them, but somewhere along their journey of late-night, soul-searching talks, chance encounters, and small, but significant surprising revelations, they each find themselves falling into the least expected trap of all: love.
While the enemies-to-lovers plot isn't unheard of in the world of romance novels, Layne puts a sarcastic, but entirely provocative, spin to it. Nothing in the novel was trite or overdone; from the weighty characters, to the mortifying situations they get into, everything is so original, so entertaining, and best of all, so cuttingly hilarious.
The sizzling chemistry between Sophie and Gray (that could only result from such polar-opposite individuals) is so well developed and believable. The slow construction of their emotional connection made me ache and squirm and swoon, because it felt like real romance. It isn't ridiculous insta-love that gives romance novels such a bad rap—it's the real thing.
Only with You is a bright and playful romance that still manages to convey the painful, frustrating emotions of falling in love under resistance and the beautiful art of the unexpected human connection. As the heat builds up, and walls begin to fall, Sophie and Gray find themselves longing for things they vowed to never want, yet now find themselves aching for... but only with each other.
Pros Funny!! Made me laugh out loud // Tone is light, fresh, and entertaining // Loved Sophie and her outrageous but hilarious family // Gray is your classic tall, dark, and handsome—the perfect wounded hero with a hard shell // SO MUCH PHYSICAL AND EMOTIONAL CHEMISTRY BETWEN SOPHIE AND GRAY. I CAN'T EVEN // Hot, hot makeout and sex scenes—wowwee! // Everything a good contemporary romance should be
Cons He has steely gray eyes and his name is Mr. Grey Gray? Where have we encountered this before??
"We met at the gym, actually," Brynn said, setting her hand on Gray's overworked bicep. "He was at the treadmill next to me, and when I dropped my iPod, he picked it up." "Naturally, I had to ask her to dinner," Gray said with all the emotion of a cyborg. "Oh, naturally," Sophie said around a piece of bread. Her mother gave her a warning glare.
This book made me crack up more than a several times, but that conversation just had me rolling!
On a more serious note:
"Are you sure we should do this?" she asked breathlessly. "No. I'm never sure of anything with you."
Verdict A sexy, vibrant twist on the CEO-meets-secretary romance trope, Only with You is a modern, energetic, and masterfully portrayed love story that both smolders in sexual tension, and provides uproarious bouts of comic relief. Sophie's sarcastic, self-deprecating bits of humor and easygoing radiance (I dare you not to love Sophie Dalton!) and Gray's solid determination to resist her inevitable charms, make for a steamy, catch-and-release game with a corporate flush—but as we all know, love is never just a game. Lauren Layne combines all of my favorite things—colorful characters (is Gray a color?), amusing banter, hot sex, and heartfelt emotion—in this exemplary, hard-to-put-down first novel in the new The Best Mistake series; I confidently say it's my new favorite contemporary romance—which is pretty impressive, considering it's my favorite genre!!
Rating: 10 out of 10 hearts (5 perfect stars): I'm speechless; this book is an extraordinarily amazingly wonderfully fantastically marvelous masterpiece. Drop everything and go buy yourself a copy now!
Source Complimentary ARC provided by author, via tour publicist, in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you, Lauren Layne and Tasty Book Tours!)....more
At age fourteen, Cleo had the most painful, most obvious schoolgirl crush on her big brother's best friend: the dangerous, brooding Jax Monroe—and toAt age fourteen, Cleo had the most painful, most obvious schoolgirl crush on her big brother's best friend: the dangerous, brooding Jax Monroe—and to be honest, she's always been in love with him, even after he left town without a word. Now, she's finally up on her feet with a handsomely paying casino job and the determination to make amends with her estranged mother, so it's a shock—and not even a pleasant one—when, after all these years, Jax comes barreling back into her life.
I was attracted to the "reunited after childhood" storyline of this novel but it was far from dramatic and really just didn't hit the spot for me. The plot revolving around the cute badboy all grown up is normally my thing—I love myself a reformed hero!—but the two main characters are so shallow and so irritatingly boring that I didn't like or sympathize with either of them.
Regarding the romance element, what Jax and Cleo feel for each other is definitely instalove; with poor relationship development, stilted dialogue, and absolutely no chemistry, the "romance" is unrealistic and mundane. There's nothing that stands out to me about this couple, nothing that makes me swoon or ache or smile. They're both just there, taking up space. The Return of the Rebel is a VERY chaste romance, very PG with no steam or sex at all; sure, it's sweet, but it's also rather flavorless. It didn't seem much like a romance novel to me, other than the (rather undeserved) happy ending.
My biggest issue with this book was Faye's tendency to draw out the blandest, most clichéd literary devices and conventions in her writing. She is not a bad writer; while not immensely commendable, her style is smooth, straightforward, and it gets the job done. However, her prose is full of trite metaphors and stereotypical romance tropes (the cool best friend, the loving but troubled family, the helpless heroine, the hero who instantly falls in love with her for no reason at all) that I had a hard time tolerating. At the climax of Cleo and Jax's emotional connection (or whatever constitutes for it), Cleo says, verbatim:
"[Life is] kinda like looking at a glass of water. You can either view it as a glass half-full or half-empty. I choose to look at it half-full."
Deep stuff, isn't it?
And of course, the last line is "I will always love you." Who didn't see that coming?
Pros Easy, short-length novel // Quick, light read that doesn't make you think too much
Cons Boring // Wordy and rambles off on irrelevant tangents about furniture and pets and clothing that contribute exactly nothing to the story // Characters are all two-dimensional, hard to like, and rather unintelligent-sounding // Romance is not romantic // No sexual tension... or sex, for that matter // Very formulaic, unoriginal // Flat, unmemorable
Verdict The Return of the Rebel was not terribly unpalatable; it has a linear storyline and Cleo has a somewhat intriguing backstory that made it a quick, watery read. I was mostly annoyed by how dull the characters, insipid the plot, and unextraordinary the writing is. While Jennifer Faye's newest release serves as a quick, lighthearted, surface-skimming romance novel, I personally don't think it's anything to write home about.
Rating: 5 out of 10 hearts (3 stars): Doesn't particularly light any of my fires; I feel indifferent about this book.
Source Complimentary copy provided by author via tour publicist in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you, Jennifer and Tasty Book Tours!)....more
"Chase," [Amanda] began steadily, but her voice cracked as soon as she said his name, "you seemed like you really knew what you were doing there." "I d
"Chase," [Amanda] began steadily, but her voice cracked as soon as she said his name, "you seemed like you really knew what you were doing there." "I do," he stated, very matter of fact, seemingly engrossed in [his paper], but with the corners of his mouth starting to turn up. "Like you've done that sort of thing before." "I have." He grinned, turning the page and scanning it. "And that if we keep seeing each other, it's something you'll want to do again?" "I will." He nodded, still grinning. His two-word, nonchalant answers and perceived lack of interest was starting to completely unnerve her. She hadn't even come out directly to say what she was talking about and he was behaving like they had entered into a pact that only he was privy to. "What if I don't want you to?" Chase finally looked up from his paper, his eyes spearing her from across the granite island. "Then you better not be naughty."
The highly anticipated prequel to Stephanie Evanovich's Big Girl Panties, The Sweet Spot is the story of how Chase and Amanda Walker met, fell in love, fell out, and ended up together—detailedly following the fiery couple with very singular tastes that we all know and love from the first book. I was a huge fan of the pair in Big Girl Panties, but was disappointed with them in The Sweet Spot. In BGP, we only had short, sporadic moments with both Chase and Amanda, but whenever we did, they were always funny, always charming, and always erotic. In The Sweet Spot, all of that fades to the background and what we're left with is a rather forceful and obsessed alpha hero, lots of unnecessary angst, and mediocre sex. Evanovich proves in this flashback novel that sometimes, using your imagination to know what goes on behind the scenes is better than actually going behind the scenes yourself.
It wasn't a terrible read, by any means. It isn't outstanding or anywhere near as funny as Big Girl Panties, but it is a simple, predictable boy-meets-girl romance with entertaining banter and a light flavor of kink. Featuring two characters who are feisty in their own way—a dominant, all-American celebrity athlete and a beautiful, fiercely independent restaurant owner—it's rather amusing and a light, airy read, but along those lines, it isn't complex or suspenseful either. The plot progresses very straightforwardly, and there's really no building action or climax; things just happen. Chase and Amanda just do things. There's no real action or development, and that's one of the biggest issues I had with the book.
Obviously, a complication in reviewing this novel is that my opinions are not absolute, but wholly relative. While reading The Sweet Spot, I couldn't help but compare it to Big Girl Panties the entire time—and by compare, I mean bitch to myself about how it wasn't as good as the prior. It just isn't. Evanovich's style is flatter, with lots of telling over showing, and her trademark humor (that I loved in Holly, the protagonist of BGP) just isn't there. I thought the aspect of Chase and Amanda's little bedroom hobby—a little light spanking, nothing explicit—would be sexy at least, but it wasn't. Whatever sexual chemistry that was supposed to be formed between them was completely rushed, and if anything, the "kink" is more of a tongue-in-cheek twist on eroticism; I found it more ridiculous than hot.
Lastly... the one character I couldn't take seriously was the ever-serious Mr. Chase Walker baseball-extraordinaire himself. I know his relentless pursuit of Amanda and over-the-top romantic affections are supposed to show he's the ultimate "alpha male," but they really made him seem corny, pathetic, and REALY CREEPY. –Spoiler alert!– When Amanda initially snubs him, he pretty much stalks her, showing up at her work every day for a few weeks straight, and even getting his security guys to find out where she lives. For a fictional Babe Ruth, he certainly has a lot of time on his hands!! –Spoiler end!– He also has the urge to consistently validate his masculinity by saying things like (verbatim!):
"My ego does not require I have a girlfriend half my size to make me a bigger man. I am already a monster. I do not want or need a woman I can bench-press. I prefer a woman of substance, with softness and curves. One I know is able to handle my passion, one that can nurture my babies."
Babies??????? He's about to bone a girl for the first time and he talks about babies???????!!!
Pros Quickly paced, easy to get absorbed in // Entertaining banter between Chase and Amanda // Amanda is fun, likable
Cons Rather disappointing; Chase and Amanda's relationship sounded better in Big Girl Panties than it actually was in The Sweet Spot // Very little character or relationship development // Overall pretty bland; very little excitement, no surprises, no twists // Chase sounds hot, but really annoying; I didn't think very highly of him // Logan is only mentioned once. What the hell is this a prequel for?!?!
Verdict The Sweet Spot, an account of the coming-together of the fun, flirty couple we first fell in love with in Big Girl Panties, overall was disappointing; it doesn't go in-depth with the relationship that I perceived as sizzling and complicated, and in fact, is rather watery and lacks any plot-forward action. While there are some amusing anecdotes about the celebrity lifestyle, true-to-life struggles with control and trust, and some good 'n' clean spanking (yes, I just said clean! Who knew S&M could be made so proper?), I think I was mainly let down because I expected so much after reading the first book. Stephanie Evanovich's sophomore novel isn't anything grand, but it does serve as a mushy romance between a hunky baseball player and a nice-girl business woman with the tendency to misbehave.
Rating: 6 out of 10 hearts (3 stars): Decent for a first read, but I'm not going back; this book is decidedly average (whatever that means!).
Source Complimentary ARC provided by publisher via tour publicist in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you, Harper Collins and TLC Book Tours!)....more
I kept this book on my nightstand and my "currently reading" shelf for about a year before finally deciding to just mark it as DNF (did not finish). II kept this book on my nightstand and my "currently reading" shelf for about a year before finally deciding to just mark it as DNF (did not finish). It's not that the book is SO bad that I couldn't keep reading, but rather, I kept putting it down, forgot about it, and was never really inclined to pick it up again... that went on for about a year. There are way better books I could be spending my time on.
Overall Just Like Heaven just bored me; nothing was exciting, and nothing intrigued me enough to want to continue reading. There's very little action both romance- and plot-wise; even by page 158—which is how far I got—hardly any of Honoraria and Marcus's relationship is built. If there is no swoon-worthy romance by the halfway mark, we've got a problem.
Honoraria isn't a dreadful heroine but she's rather desperate for a husband and childish, blushing at ever sight of skin and brush of fingers, and so on. I can understand these traits were meant to color her "cute" and "clumsy," but I just found it annoying. There's almost no chemistry between her and Marcus, which bothered me a lot considering this is a historical romance, and the dialogue and description scenes drag on forever, which made this one even more difficult to digest.
Pros Well written // Playful, readable style
Cons Romance moves at a snail's pace // Honoraria is annoying and Marcus is uninteresting // Boring // Not enough action!
Verdict Containing too much backstory and not enough action, this first title in the Smythe-Smith quartet is rather boring. It isn't a terrible or intolerable—in fact, stylistically, Julia Quinn is a pleasure to read—but I just didn't have the patience to finish it. I was quite annoyed by the "witty" (not witty) banter and passionless relationship that's supposed to pass as a romance. True historical fiction fans may be able to swallow Just Like Heaven, but I definitely wasn't impressed.
Rating: 2 out of 10 hearts (1 star): Not completely a lost cause, but could not finish and did not enjoy; potentially could be used as a cure for insomnia.
Source Complimentary ARC provided by Romance Novel News in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you, Carolyn!)....more
Look what had happened when [Luke had] tried [dating Melody] fifteen years ago. Ah, crap, he was setting himself up for a hard tumble down a rocky clif
Look what had happened when [Luke had] tried [dating Melody] fifteen years ago. Ah, crap, he was setting himself up for a hard tumble down a rocky cliff. Yeah? Guest what? He didn't give a good damn. He wanted her and that's all there was to it.
This is one of those second-chance love stories that I thought I'd enjoy—I mean, cowboys? Texas? A forbidden relationship? What's not to love?—but there are so many issues I had with it. It's not a complete carwreck, I'll admit; it has a linear plot, characters easy to sympathize with, and the occasional witty line. But overall, I just didn't find it a very palatable novel.
Melody Spencer traded the wide skies of Cupid, Texas for the bright lights of New York City fifteen years ago, and hasn't looked back since. When her first love—the one with whom things never worked out because of a family feud—shows up in the Big Apple at her weakest moment, begging for her help, she can't help but remind herself that—even though she left Cupid behind—it is where her roots are, and she needs to do her part to save the crumbling town.
The aspect of a family feud keeping the two once-lovers apart attempts to create a modern-day Romeo and Juliet story, but it just didn't seem very complicated or tragic to me. I know the taboo aspect of the relationship is supposed to be sexy, but because Lori Wilde gave no depth to either character, it was hard to follow the romance.
Melody and Luke's cheesy instalove is also a huge problem. The moment Melody lays her eyes on Luke—again—her knees weaken, she swoons, she realizes she still loves him, etc. etc. etc. Every other line in the book is Luke noticing Melody's beauty or intelligence or kindness, which isn't only irritating, but also detrimental to the story because it reduces Wilde's style to simplistic telling, not showing. The dialogue and superfluous descriptions are not only stilted, but they're also ridiculous; I was literally laughing at the writing.
A few examples of the cringe-worthy dialogue and wording:
"You're a terrific catch. Looks like someone would have snared you by now." "Thanks for the compliment," he said. "But I could ask you the same thing."
...how romantic, how smoldering, how smooth!
A seductive purr hummed over her lips, and a heavy breath drove her exquisite tits straight up into his chest. Through flaring nostrils he inhaled her feminine aroma, the flirty flavor of spice, licorice, and kiwi perfume permeating his olfactory receptors, sailing into his brain, flitting between neurons and skimming over synapses, firing off a timeless male response. Exotic.
...flaring nostrils? Olfactory receptors?? A timeless male response???? What the fuck!!
God, she was beautiful and sexy and irresistible. Luke genuinely liked her. She was quick-witted and professional, eager, goal-oriented, a real-go-getter. Beautiful and self-confident in maturity. Multifaceted.
...why don't we just put the thesaurus down, Lori, and stop going on like this..
She wriggled beneath him and he was instantly hard enough to cut sheet metal with his dick.
...well, at least it's original.
"Do you have any idea how damn sexy you are?" he whispered. She laughed. (I would have laughed too.) Of course she did, the seductive wench.
...seductive wench???/ ?? Is that normal??
Did she have any idea what she did to him? Wearing that little red dress held up by strips of material no thicker than a strand of linguini?
...beautiful and poetic, as you can see.
He imagined chewing those straps right off her body, and licked his lips.
...okay, this is where I lost it. As did Lori Wilde.
Pros An okay standalone novel, although it's the fourth (and last) in the series // Quick read; fast-paced
Cons Romance is hardly romantic // Even the plot outside the romance, regarding saving Cupid, isn't well done // Both characters are idiots—no character development or depth at all // Instalove... or re-instalove? // Everything, from the flirting, the backstory, and the sex, is stilted, rushed, and just hard to get into // Unrealistic // Annoyingly repetitive
Verdict While the author hasn't committed any major crimes in Love with a Perfect Cowboy, it was a sore disappointment because of how shallow and lacking the characters, the romance, and the subplots were. The synopsis seemed intriguing, but the "forbidden relationship" isn't explored deeply and just comes off as outrageously ignorant, and the forced dialogue and laughable descriptions don't help its case either. Maybe diehard Lori Wilde fans will be able to enjoy this last installment in the Cupid, Texas series, but I sure don't recommend it.
Rating: 4 out of 10 hearts (2 stars): So-so; reading this book may cause wrinkles (from frowning so much).
Source Complimentary copy provided by publisher via tour publicist in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you, Harper Collins and Tasty Book Tours!)....more
"We have put our lives in your hands," [Jedrek said.] "We have told you our private stories and given you the pen to write it. It is not just you who
"We have put our lives in your hands," [Jedrek said.] "We have told you our private stories and given you the pen to write it. It is not just you who needs this story written; it is us. It is our story." The penny finally dropped: this wasn't about [Kitty], this wasn't merely about honoring Constance's story and saving her own professional skin. This was their lives, their stories, and she owed these people. Feeling humbled, she snapped into action.
In the wake of a devastating professional mistake, Kitty Logan finds herself facing the harsh, vindictive public and struggles to cope with the consequences it has on her home, love life, and career. In attempts to salvage what is left of her reputation, she needs to pen a tribute story for Et Cetera magazine: the story her mentor, Constance, claimed she wanted Kitty to write.
The only lead Kitty has is a list of one hundred names she doesn't recognize, with no summary, synopsis, or anything to explain who the people are or what the story is about. The names are intriguing, but wildly unrelated to each other, and as the stresses of a two-week deadline mount, Kitty tries to connect the names, only to discover the futile connection is the least important aspect of all.
Fully illogical, deceiving, and fiercely interesting—just as Constance would have liked it—Kitty's uncertain story puts her in the paths of strangers she'd never take the chance to speak with otherwise. As her search for the perfect tribute continues, she learns a valuable lesson on the roots and heart of journalism, and meets the most diverse cast of everyday, unsung heroes along the way. It's not about uncovering secrets or lies or finding something earth-shattering that one hundred people are keeping from her; it's simply about listening to each of their truths because, as she discovers, everyone has a story.
I'm a huge fan of Cecelia Ahern (author of P.S. I Love You) and was delighted by One Hundred Names. It's fresh, quirky, and has a charming Irish undertone; this is the kind of book that will not only amuse you, but also stick with you for a long time to come. The plot is original—I expected nothing less!—and the weight of the loss, scrambling investigation, and finally, victorious redemption that Kitty goes through makes you think long and hard. At the same time, Ahern's style is breezy and hilarious, yet still tender—wholly inspirational. She'll make you reflect on the indications of the bravery and belief of everyday men and women in this hope-filled world, as well as sympathize with one desperate woman as she battles to find her own voice as an act of redemption—but ends of finding others' in the process.
To me, One Hundred Names is the ultimate rom com; it's a feel-good novel with refreshing, lovable secondary characters and satisfying, triumphant, fairy tale-like endings, but it puts the protagonist, Kitty, through hell before we get there. Oddly enough, Kitty was the one character I disliked. I felt bad for her often because of the pathetic situations she gets herself into, but she's quite annoying, and a huge ditz. I would not get along with, or remotely like, her in real life, and couldn't get myself to warm up to her in the book either.
Overall, One Hundred Names is a glorious chick lit novel—a must-read that recognizes the power of company, prayer, and hope, as well as sheds light on the complicated, glittering humanness of every single person, no matter how "normal" we label them to be.
Pros Gorgeous, eclectic cast of unlikely characters // Entertainingly written // Meaningful // Quirkily Irish // Hard to put down—the story is full of literary action and drama // Amazing portrayal of how people are not what they seem on the surface
Cons Didn't like Kitty
Verdict Humans of New York meets Bridget Jones in this lively, but thoroughly moving Irish novel about the allure and wonder of not just the rich, famous, and world-renowned—but of the everyday individual. With Cecelia Ahern's signature warmth and humorous girly touch, One Hundred Names brings you a heart-warming, magical story that will immerse you completely; reading it was a complete transformative experience. I loved the adorable, entertaining style and the poignant wakeup call the book sends: that every single ordinary person has an extraordinary story.
Rating: 8 out of 10 hearts (4 stars): An engaging read that will be worth your while; highly recommended.
Source Complimentary copy provided by tour publicist via publisher in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you, TLC and Harper Collins!)....more
The girls were the future of Saybrook's Diamonds, and they had to act accordingly. They were to live their lives with the utmost decorum, smile for th
The girls were the future of Saybrook's Diamonds, and they had to act accordingly. They were to live their lives with the utmost decorum, smile for the cameras, speak several languages, hold many degrees, cultivate the art of conversation, and most important, refrain from doing anything that might bring scandal upon the family. To never, ever break the rules. And yet they had. All of them. It had been a summer of secrets. They were heiresses, all right, but they hadn't been behaving like heiresses at all. And it was only a matter of time before the world found out.
Opening in tragedy, and confined by tragedy, The Heiresses follows the lives of the five—well, four—Saybrook heiresses: their lush, rich world, their deeply personal problems, and fate's cruel affinity for hurdling their family into a string of mysterious, sudden deaths, otherwise known as the Saybrook Curse by the public.
Upon the unthinkable loss of one of their own—the perfect Poppy Saybrook—the remaining four cousins set out to solve the dangerous, wildly eery crime, but approach a dilemma when they realize Poppy's murder can only be solved by revealing the scandals and secrets of their past. Each Saybrook cousin has a life-threatening secret—that one personal demon they want to take to the grave—and as each figures out who is a witness, who is an alibi, and who is a backstabber, the dark secrets are slowly revealed.
I was so enchanted by this book. Dramatic irony keeps it running, and the suspense is absolutely electrifying—hair-raising—in a creepy "someone's watching you" kind of way. I couldn't stop reading it because I was too scared to put it down! In the vein of the Gossip Girl series, Sara Shepard masters the sinister, omniscient tone that, in the backdrop of high-society New York City, is as extravagant as its characters are.
The Heiresses is not your average chick-lit novel; it's not just another happy day at the Hamptons. The calamities and misfortunes of the world-famous diamond empire will stun and frighten you, as well as teach you a thing or two about the dangers of money, misconceptions, and pride. It's a story of the consequences of deceit, greed, and lies from one generation to the next, but beneath it all, it's also an examination of four courageous women who bond and discover the values of fortune, trust, and always: family.
Pros The ending!!!! // Characters aren't deep, but are understandable and lovable // Scintillating suspense // Cinematic, dramatic—I can easily see this being made into a TV show or movie // One of those books you can't put down // Eery, startling tone is so well done
Cons Literally everybody is screwing everybody... this book is centered on infidelity and illicit sexual relations // Not a super deep, meaningful novel, but still a hell of an entertaining one
Verdict With the addictive, crippling voice akin to Gossip Girl, the darkly comical tone found in Desperate Housewives, and allusions to the Kennedy curse we're all so familiar with, Sara Shepard's newest novel reads like Pretty Little Liars all grown up. The Heiresses is a juicy, sinful mystery about a legendary American dynasty so blessed with fortune and beauty, yet cursed in the worst of ways. I admit at times the plot resembles that of an overdone soap opera, but that doesn't make it any less entertaining; this series is bound to become everyone's newest guilty pleasure.
Rating: 9 out of 10 hearts (5 stars): Loved it! This book has a spot on my favorites shelf.
Source Complimentary copy provided by publisher via tour publicist in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you, Harper Collins and TLC!)....more
I felt an enormous sadness shoot through my chest, and my eyes burned with tears. It frightened me how much I loved him; I wanted to call him back fro
I felt an enormous sadness shoot through my chest, and my eyes burned with tears. It frightened me how much I loved him; I wanted to call him back from wherever he was going, but in a rush of knowledge I realized my daddy was a tricky, dangerous man, and I could never trust his love.
I'm torn over how I feel about this book; on one hand, it indeed is a beautiful portrait of how love manifests in the life of Eunice, but on the other, it moves so lethargically, that oftentimes I found myself zoning out, and even skimming towards the end because I just wanted to be finished. You have to have a lot of patience to appreciate a book like The Conditions of Love.
Because the book is split up into three distinct sections that trace the different types of love Eunice experiences in each one, it was like reading three separate stories, all fluidly interconnected.
The first part, in which Eunice comes to terms with accepting being abandoned by her highly glorified father, reads historically. It will definitely induce nostalgia for children of the fifties, and for any younger generations, it will feel like reading about your own grandmother's childhood—a deeply troubled childhood at that, but nonetheless lushly told. It's a solid introduction to our protagonist, and it moves with stunning detail and clarity.
The second part is languid, almost mystical, and drags on as time does throughout the novel. I love how Kushner paces Eunice's teenage years—in which she learns to love a mother figure of a stranger—to mimic how unhurriedly her own life passes at this sage.
The third part definitely has its exciting, wholly erotic moments, but honestly it was the wordiest for me. I pretty much lost interest in Eunice's keen, but unnecessarily lengthy, observations on everything, and began to skim this section, which is probably why some of the story might be lost on me.
This is hardly a devastating critique, however. Overall, I was highly impressed with Kushner's vivid flourish to a theatrically set, poignant first novel.
Pros Gorgeously written // Eunice is well versed and lovable // Emotionally turbulent // Strongly personified characters
Cons Very dense and slow moving (but never boring)
Sam took my hand and looked into my eyes. "Life's a crap shoot, baby. All I know is that the past will kill you if you let it." This was the way things were. Sam would never stop feeling sad about [his late brother] and I would never stop feeling sad about not having a daddy. You went on missing a person the rest of your life.
Verdict Dazzlingly detailed, remarkably poised, and wise to its perceptive core, Dale M. Kushner's debut novel is a fictional young woman's autobiographical account of love's grandest entrances and most devastating exits throughout her life. While I was not a huge fan of how slowly the book moved, especially towards the end, I will never forget Eunice's heartbreaks, nor the striking cast of characters. A fascinating following of an ordinary girl's maturation and its extraordinary moments, The Conditions of Love strongly creates a sense of longing for a woman you've only met through paper.
Rating: 7 out of 10 hearts (4 stars): Not perfect, but overall enjoyable; borrow, don't buy!
Source: Complimentary copy provided by tour publicist via publisher in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you, TLC and Hachette!)....more