A thousand stars (and a desperate plea for the second book)
❝ You know the funny thing about fairy tales? You never see what happens to the pretty sc
A thousand stars (and a desperate plea for the second book)
❝ You know the funny thing about fairy tales? You never see what happens to the pretty scullery maid after she rides off into the sunset with a dashing prince in a gold-plated carriage and shacks up in his castle. Fade to black. Roll credits. And they lived happily ever after.
You know the story. There's a plain, ordinary girl with a dangerous secret. A royal father that abandoned her and deprived her of the life she deserved. A tragedy of epic proportions that exposes the girl to the spotlight, and suddenly turns her into the crown princess of a crumbling nation. By all means, she should be happy. Ecstatic even.
Or...did they? ❞
But Emilia Victoria Lancaster is not. She is angry and terrified, thrown into a pit of snakes that seek an opportunity to bite her, to smother her, to crush her under expensive shoes, thinly-veiled threats and disdain. Between an aloof father, an evil step-mother and a certain lord she shouldn't want this bad but gods above she does, between a past that was safe, that was planned and hers and an uncertain future burdened with responsibilities and sacrifices, Emilia nearly crumbles. She must find her strength, her resolve and beat her opponents, before they break her, bit by bit, once and for all.
❝ The fairy tale ending? I'm living it. And I'm here to tell you... It fucking sucks.❞
I've said before that Julie Johnson is my bookish fairy godmother. That her powerful words, her poignant stories laced with emotion and a unique kind of magic only she can cast are my refuge from daily disappointments and exhaustion, from bitterness and the hopeless feeling of falling so deep inside yourself that it seems nearly impossible to reach the surface. I didn't know that my godmother had it in her to weave a slightly twisted, deliciously sinister modern fairy-tale full of depraved nobles, sizzling forbidden romance and broken, messed-up characters that constantly battled the sharp-clawed demons and the suffocating darkness that threatened to devour them. In the past, I've loved Julie's stories for multiple reasons. Dirty Halo, though, is the most addictive. I craved each page and chapter and heartbreak and treason like a drowning man gasping for air. My fingers itched to touch the silk fabrics, my feet to wander the corridors of Waterford Palace, my eyes to feast on beauty and plastic smiles that hid cold calculation and malice and my heart knew, in its darkest corners and rugged edges that every kiss, every breakdown and tear would pervade my senses and imbue my atoms. Dirty Halo had soul, tattered soul, beaten soul, and I relished every single moment.
❝ Life is a chess game, E. Welcome to the board. I suggest you play your moves carefully.❞
Dirty Halo is a story brimming with searing passion, longing and despair, a lush tale of court intrigue, schemes, political maneuvers and dirty secrets set in the kingdom of Germania, a monarchy that faces its greatest challenge when a tragedy that could hide something fouler befalls the ruling family. Emilia's journey is a perilous one and finds her unwilling to give up on her previous life, when she tried so hard to fight and quench the dreams of royalty and finally being accepted by her father. But the greatest danger of them all is none other than Lord Carter Thorne. His armor is tarnished, and so is his reputation. He is wicked, cruel and secretive, but his chemistry with Emilia is OFF.THE.FREAKING.CHARTS. Or more likely, it turns poor charts to ashes. Carter and Emilia are a bomb waiting to explode, but I am all too eager to burn in the inferno they create.
❝ Non sibi sed patriae. Not for self, but country. ❞
Julie Johnson constantly evolves as an author. She doesn't rest on her laurels, she tries for more, and she achieves it. With Dirty Halo, this sensuous, dark fairytale that set my world ablaze, she justified once more my trust and unwavering faith in her stories.
P.S. Luckily for me I read the Preface before I embarked on a futile journey to Germania in order to track down and kidnap a certain smirking Lord. You should as well.
*ARC generously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review*
Do you seek escapeBINGE READ ALERT, I REPEAT BINGE READ ALERT!!
Are you fed up with your reality problems?
Do you wish for a balm to your battered soul?
Do you seek escape in the form of paper and words?
If the answer is yes, then Hotshot Doc is perfect for you!
You don’t need to know much in order to dive in R.S. Grey’s latest rom-com. Only that there is a medical clinic. A pediatric spinal surgeon who is supposed to be the devil incarnate. A surgical assistant searching for a new boss. And a toe-curling, heartwarming and slow-burning romance laced with delicious tension and palpable chemistry.
Now let's talk about it, shall we?
Part 1, aka the sappy, you-can-hear-the-violins-playing-in-the-background part.
The past months have been a whirlwind workwise. I was (and still am) barely able to breathe, let alone read, so every time I returned home, I would put on my PJs, watch trashy TV shows and stay in the couch until I’d move to bed. Lather, rinse, repeat. I was so emotionally spent, tired to my very bones, that my brain refused to focus on anything. My soul ached for books to uplift me, to speak to me, to mend my wings that were in tatters, a product of anxiety and exhaustion. There were only a handful of authors who could startle me out of my stupor, and R.S. Grey is one of them. When Hotshot Doc hit my Kindle, however, it was met with trepidation. What if I was broken beyond repair? What if the hard slap of reality inflicted permanent damage to my love for reading? I should have known better than to question R.S. Grey’s healing abilities. Her words were like water to parched land. I inhaled them, I devoured them and I realized that after a very long time, I was content. And I can’t thank Rachel enough for that.
Part 2, aka the SOMEBODY CALL A DOCTOR, MATT GAVE ME HEART PALPITATIONS part.
The Queen of Rom-Coms strikes again, and it’s a lethal blow to the possibilities of ever finding someone who can be compared to her male characters. Dr. Matt Cooper is a soft teddy-bear hidden behind a cold, aloof fortress, but once you crack his walls, you’re irrevocably in love. Was he a jerk on numerous occasions? Sure. Was he unfair to Bailey? Yes. But the way he opened up, the way he fell head over heels that led to sweet gestures and SCORCHING encounters charred what was once my heart.
From the anticipation built for the first kiss to the explosion of glorious feelings when they were finally together, R.S. Grey, with her refined writing skills, crafted a romance that became one of my favorites. Bailey was a really endearing heroine, her devotion to her little sister was touching, and so was the way she crept in Matt’s cold heart. With the perfect blend of laughter, steam and all-encompassing feelings, she proved once more that rom-coms is her domain, and she rules it with an iron grip!
If you’re up for a romance reminding you of Grey’s Anatomy, with a surgeon that is the love child of McDreamy and McSteamy and a variety of fireworks that warm your insides, please don’t hesitate and grab a copy of Hotshot Doc!
*ARC generously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review*
I've come to believe that Julie Johnson can write a good, give-you-all-the-feels romance with her eyes closed. She haO how I love thee, Julie Johnson.
I've come to believe that Julie Johnson can write a good, give-you-all-the-feels romance with her eyes closed. She has yet to disprove my theory, or shake my conviction that she is, and will always be, the Queen of Hearts, Lady of Binge-Reading, Protector of Real Love and Warden of Dreams. Long may she reign!
❝I am Shelby Hunt. The perfect woman. The perfect ghost.❞
Shelby Hunt has been trapped in an unhappy marriage for ten years. Ten years of stifling herself, trying to fit in the box of the perfect wife her abusive husband wanted. And when she finally decides to do the unthinkable, to leave him and move on, she realizes that she never really knew him. Enter Conor Asshole Gallagher, her knight in a not-so-shinny armor, the FBI agent who saves her from the Bratva thanks to her dear ex-husband's dealings with the infamous crime syndicate, and his not-so-clever decision to steal something extremely valuable from them. Between gunfights, interrogations, safe houses and explosions, Shelby finally feels that she is not alone, that there is someone she can trust, someone who sees all the things she tries to hide and embraces them. If only their lives were not hanging by a thread...
❝I saw you, Shelby. I still see you. I think, if I ever go blind, I'll see you in my dreams for the rest of my life.❞
So Wrong It's Right is the perfect blend of suspense and sweep-you-off-your-feet, set-your-cheeks-ablaze romance laced with danger and oh-so-powerful feelings. Julie Johnson's unique writing consists of a heavy dose of reality, dry humor and beautiful metaphors that make your chest clench and your heart ache with yearning. She pours her soul in every word and page, in every kiss and touch, giving them breath, turning them into whirlwinds that devour you while you devour them.
❝What are you more afraid of - abandonment or committment? Loneliness or love? Never putting yourself out there? Or potentially being blown off when you actually do?❞
It is refreshing to feel that you are not alone in your fears, that someone, even a fictional character, dreads the same monsters. It gives you the power to face them. Shelby was a heroine that managed to appear as well-composed, in control even when everything was breaking apart. The hurt she hid, the insecurity, the knowledge that she was invinsible and alone sent a mournful melody straight to my core. Conor was the bandage to her wounds, despite his tough exterior and his bossy ways. I've wanted him to be happy for so long, that seeing him fall head over heels for feisty Shelby seemed surreal. They were equally stubborn and controlling, but their fights were fogged up with steam. Conor gives the definition to alpha male, and let's just say that I wouldn't mind being locked up in a cell with him...
There is one thing, though, that didn't sit right with me, that seemed far-fetched, even in a book dealing with the freaking Bratva (yes I knew all about Bratva because I am a well-educated woman who watches Arrow); while my heart was busy doing her drum thing and my stomach cartwheeling, a tiny voice belonging to the stiff, cynical old lady known as reason kept repeating that everything happened way too fast. This never bothered me before, since (with the exception of Phoebe and Nate) the previous Boston Love stories also unfold in a short time-period. However, in this instance, I couldn't ignore the voice, and the nagging feeling of insta-love that was a cloud to the perfect sunny day of So Wrong It's Right. I know things like that happen in real life; according to my intel, my own parents got engaged after dating for two weeks (Mother claims it was love at first sight, Father that is was a case of dark sorcery or voodoo). I fear, though, that this connection and committment is difficult to establish this soon. This issue, in conjuntion with the occasions where Shelby was a little over the top with her reactions and refusal to listen to Conor, led me to rate it with 4 stars.
❝I'm learning the hard way that real life is nothing like the movies. ❞
So Wrong It's Right is a sweet, emotional and intense story about finding home, that will speak to every romantic soul out there!
*ARC generously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review*
Narrator: Katerina finished Royally Yours within hours. She sighed, tucked her Kindle close to her heart, founded a se4.5 “Royalty is Forever” stars
Narrator: Katerina finished Royally Yours within hours. She sighed, tucked her Kindle close to her heart, founded a sect dedicated to the worship of Edward and then...things got slightly out of hand.
Prosecutor: YOU'VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME. Me: This can't be happening. This can't be happening. This can't be happening. Prosecutor: How on Earth - Me: Excuse me for a moment, I think I'm having a panic attack. Prosecutor: *mumbles* She is detained, handcuffed, facing serious charges, of course she's having a panic attack. But then, she could be thinking of a book. An Emma Chase book, if I had to bet. Me: Did I hear Emma Chase? Prosecutor: *reluctantly* Yes, I was wondering if she forced you to commit another felony. Me: As a matter of fact she did. Prosecutor: Of course she did. I know I'm going to regret this, but please, tell me what happened. Me: I read Royally Yours - Prosecutor: Which one is it? Me: It's the story of the first queen of Wesco, Lenora, and her sweeping love story with Edward Langton Richard Dorian Rourke. Also known as Dirty Edward. Prosecutor: And? Me: And it was freaking amazing. My chest swelled with all the glorious feelings; there were moments I couldn't fight the tears, and moments my entire body was burning thanks to the delicious chemistry and Edward's wicked ways. This man was a masterpiece, all masculine and sexy and - Prosecutor: Yes yes I'm well aware of the male characters created by Emma Chase. I fail to see the problem, though. Me: Well, Emma Chase has proved that she can write the most sensational, sweet, and all-encompassing modern fairytales, and I wanted to feel like a part of her stories, to get a glimpse of Lenora's world, so - Prosecutor: THAT'S WHY YOU ATTEMPTED TO STEAL THE CROWN JEWELS? Me: I was going to borrow them. Prosecutor: Borrow them. Me: Yes, for a day or two, only to get into Lenora's mind, to grasp her responsibilities and sacrifices, her determination to stand up in a world dominated by men and make a change for those who can't! She is such a strong and empowering figure, compassionate yet firm. She is incredible! Prosecutor: So let me get it straight, if Emma Chase wrote a book about a bank robbery, or hired killers, would you consider stealing or, I don't know, KILLING SOMEONE in order to feel closer to her characters? Are you serious? Me: *gulps* I didn't say that. Of course, if the hypothetical killer had even half of Edward's sexuality and tenderness I would- Prosecutor: For your own sake please stop talking! What am I going to do with you? Me: May I suggest something? It is clear that this was not my brightest idea, and in view of the steam and the feelings that clouded my judgement, you could rule that I am incapable of criminal liability because, you know, fangirl and stuff. Prosecutor: It has come to my attention that criminal law is not your forte, judging by your bar results... Me: *shrugs* At least I passed. And how do you know that? Does the term personal data ring a bell? Prosecutor: That's irrelevant. Let's make a deal. I'll read Royally Yours and see for myself whether it constitutes solid ground for your behaviour, and you'll stop breaking the law because of Emma Chase! It's the third time in a row! Me: I can't make any promises. Prosecutor: *glares* Me: But I will try.
Narrator: Reader, if the uptight, fun-police Prosecutor sat down and read it (and - spoiler- he loved it), so should you.
*ARC generously provided in exchange for an honest review*
If you want to learn of my history with the Prosecutor, you can read these: Sustained Sidebarred
❝Every dynasty has a beginning. Every legend starts with a story. This is ours.❞
❝No woman is born a queen, no matter the title attached to her name at birth. Kings are crowned. But queens . . . queens rise.❞
❝Making a life with you will be my greatest adventure, Lenora.❞
Alright folks, Beautiful Mistake was a surprise (a 4.5 stars surprise). I expected the angst. I expected the SIZZLING HOT chDear Professor Caine West,
Alright folks, Beautiful Mistake was a surprise (a 4.5 stars surprise). I expected the angst. I expected the SIZZLING HOT chemistry, and the wicked professor. I did not expect the emotions; the intensity; the heaviness that settled in my chest. The combination of a wonderfully fleshed out heroine, a tortured former rock star and their slow-burning romance kept me glued to my couch until I finished it, butt hurting and lungs gasping for air. It was lovely.
All in all, it's good. Read it.
P.S. Special thanks to Mar for the recommendation. I enjoyed it so much that I forgive you for being the reason I was dehydrated due to excessive drooling....more
Best friends to lovers? ✔ Naughty teachers? ✔ Sizzling chemistry? ✔ Belly-shaking laughter? ✔ Delectable, I-wanna-have-your-babies male lead? ✔ Permanent rBest friends to lovers? ✔️ Naughty teachers? ✔️ Sizzling chemistry? ✔️ Belly-shaking laughter? ✔️ Delectable, I-wanna-have-your-babies male lead? ✔️ Permanent residence in pink clouds decorated with candy bars with unicorns and lovebears as neighbours? ✔️✔️
I THINK R.S. Grey HAS RUINED ME FOR LIFE. Please send help in the form of liquid courage, sugar and/or carbs.
Not So Nice Guy is the recipe for disaster. It will make you antisocial (I-will-rip-your-heart-out-if-you-interrupt-me antisocial), it will eradicate your ability to conduct basic human functions such as talk (your throat will be parched) or walk (your knees will wobble), and your brain will be able to formulate two words: IAN.FLETCHER. Unless, of course, you consider such symptoms a blessing, and in this case Not So Nice Guy is the recipe for bliss. It's a matter of perspective, really.
“For 1300 days, I've been best friends with Ian Fletcher, and for 1300 days, I've convinced myself I'm not in love with him. I just really, really like pennies.”
Sam and Ian. Ian and Sam. They've been tiptoeing aroung each other for years, trying to smother their feelings, pretending that friendship is all that bounds them. Until Sam publically admits that they're not dating, and then the race to Ian's pants begins, and it's ruthless and bloody. But something happened between them, the air has shifted and the tables have turned, and Ian realizes that it's now or never, that he has to pursue Sam and confess his love, or he'll lose her to someone else.
Like everything else that emerges from R.S. Grey's soul and transforms into words, Not So Nice Guy is the epitome of fun; low on angst but heavy on tension, humor, witty banters and swoon sessions, Not So Nice Guy is the uplifting novel you craved after every breakup, every crappy day, every time someone told you to come down to earth and stop believing in fairytales, to lower your expectations and compromise; it's here to eradicate your concerns and burdens, to give you wings and courage and hope and faith in all that's fluffy and dreamy. And you know what, R.S. Grey?
R.S. Grey gives the definition to rom-com. Even after 16 publications, she keeps her novels fresh, infused with feelings that make your chest explode, with inner monologues and incidents to crack you up, heated scenes to fog your brain and sweet moments to bring tears to your eyes (if you're a cry baby, like me, happy tears are guaranteed). Sam and Ian were two characters that complemented each other, two co-dependent friends that felt so much more but were too scared to admit it and endanger their friendship. They were funny, snarky and hawt, and the friends-to-lovers trope was masterfully handled by experienced hands that wove their magic until your heart was ensnared. (spoiler alert - it didn't take that long). Plus, I would never predict the turn their story took after an accident involving whipped cream, proving that R.S. Grey will never run out of ideas. She will keep blessing us mortals with lighthearted and scalding novels until my future 72 cats eat my dead body.
Narrator: As soon as Katerina finished Getting Schooled, Brain started some complex mathematical calculations, while Heart was suspiciously quiet.Narrator: As soon as Katerina finished Getting Schooled, Brain started some complex mathematical calculations, while Heart was suspiciously quiet.
Brain: *mumbles* One, two, three, four – Heart: Brain, are you talking to yourself again? I always said you’d go bananas someday… Brain: *ignores the jab* I’m counting the stars for Getting Schooled! Four are appropriate, don’t you think? Heart: I am not so sure, why four? Brain: Well, one for the humor, two for Snoopy – Heart:
Brain: - three for the sizzling chemistry and the abundant sexy times, four for all the feels! Heart: Ahem, in case you forgot, I’m the expert in this department, and I’m disinclined to acquiesce to the latter. Brain: Fancy vocabulary, Heart, did you watch Pirates of the Caribbean again? Heart:... That’s not the point! I wasn’t overwhelmed with emotions, I’m afraid. I couldn’t feel the emotional connection between Garrett and Callie, it was a case of “tell” and not “show”, I was told about a supposed deep bond between them, but I couldn’t detect it. Mouth: The physical connection was there, though, I drooled until I was parched! Heart:
Brain: Are you alright, Heart? I'm getting signals that your pulse has quickened! Mouth: Heart’s fine, probably can’t handle the - Heart: STOP STEALING MY THUNDER, Mouth! What happens next, will Ovaries cut in stating that they exploded or Lungs that they couldn’t breathe with all the heat and – Lungs: Actually – Heart and Brain: Shut up, Lungs! Mouth: Now I’m wounded, I’m off to consume a bucket of ice-cream. Brain: Don’t you dare! Heart: Already gone. Brain: So, you were saying? Heart: I was saying that Getting Schooled was an ultimate beach read - Brain: We didn’t read it on the beach. Heart: The way we keep working, I guess we’ll never see the beach this summer, but that’s a story for another time. What I mean is, it was funny and sexy, it featured hilarious and sweet moments with the kids at school, Garrett was cocky and hooot, but... Brain: But? Heart: I think that the story focused on the physical aspect of their relationship - not that I complain, Mouth was right about the drooling - but the feelings between them where not well depicted, I guess. Brain: Well, they were high-school sweethearts, so the feelings were there all those years. Heart: Fair enough, but what about now? Garrett’s mind was always in the gutter, and I expected more swooning, more moments to make me sigh and dream and see, with my own eyes, that they belong together, but it never happened. Brain: You have to admit, though, Emma Chase writes the best male POVs! Heart: Of course she does, she’s a Queen and we’re her loyal subjects! Getting Schooled was an entertaining, lighthearted second-chance romance, and we had a blast, didn’t we? Brain:
Brain: ... Heart: Earth to Brain, what’s going on? Brain: I just realized that we switched parts! Usually you’re the one who insists on the higher rating and I am arguing about it! Heart: Are you saying that I am the mature, wise one and you’re frivolous and spontaneous and ruled by your primitive urges?
Brain: And just like that, we're back on track.
Narrator:Some things don't change, after all....more
Since I know I will not be writing this review any time soon, I am just going to leave here this rating, and a note that it was a fun and sexy book, bSince I know I will not be writing this review any time soon, I am just going to leave here this rating, and a note that it was a fun and sexy book, but sometimes too crude for my taste....more
Contentment: (n.) A feeling of quiet happiness and satisfaction.
The key word is quiet. It’s not the happiness that makes you scream until your lungs cContentment: (n.) A feeling of quiet happiness and satisfaction.
The key word is quiet. It’s not the happiness that makes you scream until your lungs combust or tremble with the pent-up energy that has to be diffused by running and sharing this joy with the world. It’s the type of happiness that resembles those moments when you bask in the sun; listen to the melody of a violin; feel the wind rustle your hair. That’s the warm feeling that blossomed in my chest while I was reading The Accidentals.
“Every fairy tale has a righteous ending, Rachel. It's guaranteed.”
There are two things you need to know about Rachel: she has never met her father, a famous and extremely talented musician, and her mother just died. Being at the mercy of social services, Rachel has to endure a few months of humiliation and solitude until she can move to her dream prep- school, and fulfill her deepest desire: to discover what happened between her parents. Was she an accidental, the product of a one-night-stand? Or did her parents love each other, but a mysterious force tore them apart? Rachel always hoped, but never expected, that her father would show up. But he did. And he took her in, and cared for her when no one did. Between the fear of him leaving her again, the joy of joining a choir and the butterflies that seem to fly whenever Jake appears, Rachel struggles to find the truth about her past, overcome the obstacles of the present and plan a future that includes all those she loves but dares not say it.
This book was so lovely that I wish I could climb inside it and live there forever. It was the first time I came across Sarina Bowen's work, and she already earned a fan; her words are like a warm blanket I clutch in my hands, its warmth sipped by my pores and reaching my very core. It’s been so long since I read a contemporary YA book laden with rich emotions, with the perfect balance between humor and heartache. There weren’t unnecessary dialogues or drama for the sake of drama; every sad event that made Rachel’s heart (and mine) splinter, every moment of camaraderie and love, every smile of a boy that gazed at the stars waiting for their explosion, they were all stops of a route that led Rachel to finding peace.
Every sentence had a purpose, and shed fluorescent light on these wonderful, three-dimensional characters. The writing was so fluid and soulful that made me sigh with satisfaction. The way Rachel’s was I not enough to make you stay insecurities and fear of losing her father again were utterly realistic, and painful, and so was her inner battle between good Rachel and angry Rachel, that tangled, livid version of herself that wanted answers to the questions she didn't have the courage to ask. Rachel's relationships with her late mother, her absent father, Aurora, Haze and, of course, Jake were depicted with masteful brushstrokes. The dynamic between Rachel and Frederik was fragile, delicate, a flower that took its time to bloom, but when it did, it was simply beautiful.
The romance was not the main aspect of the novel, but it was radiant, and Jake's support and devotion was a fundamental factor for the development of Rachel's character. I could hear the butterflies flap their wings in every scene they had together, they were sweet and heated, and I must admit that I had a crush on Jake since he confessed that his sheets have snowmen on them. He was nerdy and adorable, and I may or may not have swooned a couple of times.
Set in a school reminding of medieval castles, with music pouring from its pages, The Accidentals is a book that lulls you into blissful silence, a deafening silence that holds the power of thousands of perfect words and feelings. I can't recommend it highly enough!
*ARC generously provided by the author via Nina Bocci in exchange for an honest review*
Not Erin Watt’s best work, but still an addictive read!
In their second YA novel, Erin Watt narrates the story of Lizzie Beth, a seventeen year old girNot Erin Watt’s best work, but still an addictive read!
In their second YA novel, Erin Watt narrates the story of Lizzie Beth, a seventeen year old girl who lost her sister to a car accident three years ago. Beth wants to party, have fun and make stupid decisions during her last school year, but her parents are constantly trying to smother her with their unreasonable rules and extreme reactions. In a desperate act of rebellion, Beth ends up in a party full of strangers and meets the most gorgeous guy she’s ever seen. There’s just one small problem, one she didn’t realize back then; he’s the reckless driver who took her sister from her. Her family, her friends, the entire town, wants to burn him at the stake. Beth? She can’t kill the butterflies in her stomach, nor deny the strong connection they share. Torn between the loyalty to her dead sister and her traitorous heart, between what everyone expects from her and what she truly wants, Beth will have to face her grief, deal with her loss and find her path in life, a path made of her own desires and dreams.
Erin Watt has proven thus far that they can write intense and highly addictive novels, and One Small Thing is not an exception. It’s a novel heavily focused on family issues, romantic relationships, the aftermath of a terrible loss, friendship, hatred and forgiveness. Forgiveness towards the one who hurt you, and atonement for your own fatal mistakes.
“Everywhere I look, I see a closed door. A dark passage. Locked windows. If there’s a way out, I can’t visualize it.”
It was also a novel laced with angst; there was a rush of multiple emotions wreaking havoc to my very core. And amongst the suffocation, the bitterness, the anger, and the despair, the most dominant was the anger. So much anger. While the authors managed to capture a side of humanity that is unfortunately real – the bloodlust that makes good people do bad things and call them justice - sometimes I felt like they overdid it. There was simply too much drama. There was not a single decent character in the entire book, with the exception of Chase, the love interest. I suppose what the authors wanted to show was that one action, no matter how devastating it is, cannot dictate a person’s life, that there is one point where punishment is enough, that not everything is painted in black and white and I get it, I admire it even. But that absence of even one person who was sympathetic to Chase or supportive to Beth, who was not judgmental and thirsty for retribution felt way too manipulative, a means to bring them together and justify why Beth ended up falling for the guy responsible for her sister’s death.
And that brings us to Beth’s character. She was extremely juvenile about everything: the way she handled her grief, her reckless decisions, even the way she stalked Chase was nerve-wracking. As the story progressed I wished she would cut everyone off her life, I cannot fathom how she forgave her friends for the things they said and did (or didn’t do). She was throwing tantrums instead of growing a backbone, she was a hypocrite when it came to the way she treated Chase, and even though towards the end she did the right thing, it was not enough to make me forget all those times I wanted to yell at her (to be honest, though, I wanted to yell at everyone).
All those points I raised above do not mean that One Small Thing was a bad book. On the contrary, I finished it in two days, I wanted to spend more time with this story, witness more sweet moments between Beth and Chase, revel in their healing process, first and foremost as individuals and then as a couple. Chase was the one small thing that lightened my reading experience, my heart ached for him, I felt his remorse every time he spoke or allowed bullies to mistreat him because he thought he deserved it.
“What’s your small thing for today?” I ask as I cross the neighbor’s lawn to my own. “You.”
Even though I prefer the lighthearted and adorable When It's Real, I swallowed Erin Watt’s second YA novel as well; One Small Thing is a bittersweet, intense and meaningful story that deserves 3.5 big stars for all the small things.
*ARC generously provided by the authors via Nina Bocci in exchange for an honest review*
Lyrics brimming with pain and passion danceMy heart is so full right now.
Full of Love Longing Want Need
A maelstrom of music pulsates through my veins
Lyrics brimming with pain and passion dance in my cells
And my soul revels in the pure, unmatched beauty I can find only in Julie’s writing
“I wake. I breathe. I sleep. A ghost of a girl. Not so much a life – merely an existence.”
Two years ago, Felicity Wilde lost her home. For two years, she lived hidden. Without music. Without color. Without hope. Until that unexpected turn of events that dragged her against her will back in the spotlight, and forced her to face the one person that gave her the world, only to rip it from her hands.
“I’m living a nightmare I’ll never escape.”
Two years ago, Ryder Woods lost his way. His path was paved with drugs, alcohol, fame and all kinds of addiction that led to a life without her. But fate smiled back at him when the starry-eyed girl that stole his breath and his heart re-emerged from the shadows. When Wildewood hits the road for a sold-out tour, Ryder finds the opportunity to fight for her. To prove her how much she means to him. That he can be the person she deserves. If only she’d let him.
“Keep singing, Felicity. You’re a light in the dark.”
Julie Johnson is the light in my dark. Every single time I lose myself in one of her soulful, powerful stories, I end up finding pieces of me I didn’t know were missing. Her prose is always compelling, I taste her rich metaphors in my tongue and feel her lyrics caress my skin. The tension she masterfully crafts and the ambience charged with lust and longing baptize me in fire, and the tears staining my face soak my parched soul. Her talent lies in capturing every single moment, the big and the small, the joyful and the sad, in weaving constellations of star-crossed lovers that beam even in the blackest night. She awakens sensations and dreams. She conjures nightmares and pain so primal that makes you scream. She writes about every feeling you could possibly feel, and you experience its enhanced version that swallows you whole.
“So here’s the truth I never said A promise I can’t forget For you I’d move the stars”
In the past, Ryder and Felicity let their demons overpower them, and that tore them apart. Now, they have a second chance. Their connection is still there, unfaded. And so is their anger, their bitterness, their disappointment and their fear. Unfaded is full of angst and tangled emotions that make Ryder and Felicity hurt each again and again. Sometimes I rooted for Felicity, and admired her for her resilience and the way she grew up, but some others I was mad at her for not seeing how much Ryder tried, for running away when she had every reason to stay. Ryder on the other hand attracted me like a moth to the flame, he easily became of my most cherished male characters (and also made me drool incessantly). When they sang, everything ceased to be. It was only them, their palpable chemistry and me, a tiny figure swept in their tornado. The secondary characters were precious, their presence soothing, a comfort much needed. And I have a feeling that we are not done with them yet.
“You’re the eye of my storm, a shot burst of sun If I thought you’d listen, I’d tell you to run”
Julie Johnson’s Faded Duet is a heartbreakingly beautiful song I will never forget.
*ARC generously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review*
Whether you love animals or not (you monster!), Alfred is going to6+1 Reasons to Read Arrogant Devil
1. Alfred, the A-D-O-R-A-B-L-E golden retriever.
Whether you love animals or not (you monster!), Alfred is going to steal your heart. He's loyal, fluffy and ideal for cuddles and drunken confessions.
2. Cedar Creek, Texas, the getaway you never knew you needed.
If you like books taking place in good ol' South, with its warmth, the homey atmosphere, well-mannered old ladies, homemade cookies and sweet tea, you're going to have the time of your life! Rachel - bless her heart - does a marvelous job describing this tight-knit community, the everyday life in the ranch, and if you close your eyes, you're going to be transported to hidden creeks and starry nights, and you'll taste and smell and touch and feel everything Meredith experiences. It's magical.
3. The city princess turning into a country girl.
Meredith is the best female character Rachel has ever created. There was not a single moment I wasn't invested in her story, not I second I didn't ache for her hurtful past and hope for a better future. The verbal and emotional abuse she sufferred during her marriage was soul-ripping, and so was the damage it inflicted on her self-esteem, but she was a fighter, a survivor, and I was so proud of her, her determination to move on, to stand for herself, without losing her kindness that marked her as a ray of sunshine.
4. The hilarious narration.
I think Rachel is established thus far as the queen of rom-coms, and with good reason. I lost count of the times she put a smile on my face (or made me snort like a pig), she managed to lighten my mood, to somehow make me lighter, more carefree, more optimistic. Arrogant Devil gives the definition to uplifting, and I can't thank her enough for that.
5. The toe-curling romance.
Jack and Meredith. Meredith and Jack. Two comets that collided and created a whirlwind of emotions that cracked my chest wide open. From downright hostility and insults to reluctant friendship to scorching tension and finally to fireworks, they were simply wonderful. Rachel nailed the enemies-to-lovers trope, and the sizzling chemistry made my skin tingle and my mouth salivate, the slow-bulding was torturous but so, so delicious. There was also an umistakable and deep connection between them, that made me all warm and fuzzy. *dreamy sigh*
6. The greatest grandma of all time.
She's a matchmaker. She has limitless energy. She can use a shotgun and even though she adores her grandson, she won't hesitate to reprimand him for his rude behaviour. She is Edith, and she's the sweetest.
7. Jack McNight, Arrogant Devil and Hot Cowboy extraordinaire.
I have to be honest, during the first half of the book I had a hard time liking Jack. He was judgemental, mean and selfish, and treated Meredith like a spoiled brat because of what he heard of her. The thing is, though, that this particular behaviour was the reason Meredith grew a backbone and stood her ground. And as the story progressed, and he revealed his softer, vulnerable and caring side, well let's just say that Meredith wasn't the only one who fell for him. And don't forget his sharp jaw. His tanned skin. His bulging biceps. His wicked smirk. Oh my, I'm about to swoon.
(Yup, that's how I pictured him. You are allowed to drool.)
Arrogant Devil is a sexy, funny and adorable read that will indulge all your cowboy fantasies!
*ARC generously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review*
With Faded, she managed to ruin me (again). She punched me in the gut, blew my sanity tOne of the most poignant stories Julie Johnson has ever written.
With Faded, she managed to ruin me (again). She punched me in the gut, blew my sanity to pieces and wrecked my soul. Everything I was, it was simply fading, until all I could breathe were her words, until every molecule was filled with Ryder and Felicity, until eyes were brimming with tears and my blood was chanting her name, its pounding deafening my ears. It was a tangled web of music and heartache, and I cherished every minute of it.
“You’re my only memory that never faded.”
Felicity was not meant to fall in love. All she ever wanted was to get away from her toxic family, find a job, keep a low profile, and pour her soul into the songs she composed. But when you collide with a blinding, scorching star, you’re bound to get burned. And that’s exactly what happened when she met Ryder Woods, the musician with the raspy voice and the inspirations for fame, for the ability to share his music with the entire world.
“Don’t say I didn’t warn you: this story isn’t about getting what I wanted. Because I never wanted Ryder Woods. I needed him.”
Ryder was the beacon to her stormy sea. Felicity was the haven to his storm. But the timing was not right. Their dreams did not align. Two star crossed lovers with nothing and everything to lose, they created a powerful symphony that consumed them in its notes. But what happens when you reach the crescendo?
“It ain’t me, babe. It ain’t me you’re looking for.”
Faded deserves all the stars in the sky. How can I describe with simple words how much it touched me to the very core? How my soul was stripped bare, exposed to overwhelming feelings and senses that caressed it only to brutally flay it afterwards? The story of Felicity and Ryder was sheer beauty. Every song, every kiss, every confession and every heartbreak, they held raw power, a magnetic force that pulled me into its clutches and didn’t let go.
“We’re the dream that I never thought I’d get.”
Drugs, alcohol and sex made Faded an edgy read, and the element of suspense, surprise and painful secrets was masterfully handled by an author that never ceases to amaze me with her ingenuity and imagination. I loved the heavy music aspect, and the way she depicted the explosion created by the collision of two different dreams, of the starry-eyed girl that preferred shadows to light and the sexy musician that wanted to conquer the world.
“I wait for the dawn, a new day to break. Storm winds are gone but my heart still aches. I sort through the wreckage. You sit there crying. You said you’d protect me… are you even trying?”
Felicity was one of the most wonderful female characters ever created. She was broken in a way that made her stronger, compassionate, smart and determined to make a home of her own, free of the fear, the insecurity and the pain of her past. She wanted to hide, when she was capable of shining, whereas Ryder was her solar opposite. He wanted a singing career, with everything that follows suit. He was complex and flawed, and I loved being inside his head, witnessing his resolve cracking when it came to the petit girl with the worn guitar. Witnessing how much he could hurt her.
“Why would I tear you apart, when I could walk away? Why would I tell you the truth is, I just want to stay?”
Faded was a steamy, bittersweet, melancholic song of love, dreams, and the price of achieving them, and I can say without a doubt that it’s one of Julie’s best works. Now excuse me as I lay down and cry my eyes out after that ending.
*ARC generously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review*
4.5 "the Queen of rom-coms delivers once more" stars!!
An extract of the dialogue that took place between my Brain and my Heart after I finished The Be4.5 "the Queen of rom-coms delivers once more" stars!!
An extract of the dialogue that took place between my Brain and my Heart after I finished The Beau & the Belle is cited below. There might be some inconsistencies because I was still flushed from the sizzling chemistry between Lauren and Beau. You have been warned.
Brain:*cries in silence* Heart: What is wrong, Brain? I thought we were happy. Brain: Error 404. Heart: What? Brain: My cells cannot function properly. I think they're clouded from the scorching heat, and I can’t process what is happening. Heart: It’s simple, really, we just fell in love. Brain: Again? How is it possible? This is getting ridiculous, we can’t keep falling in love with R.S. Grey's male leads! Their numbers make up a football team! Heart: Well this is a team that could easily make me love football! Go team hot dudes!
Brain: I wonder, though, how does she do it? She has never failed to create hot hot hot and hilarious and adorable couples that turn us into babbling mess- Mouth: I second that, I’m stuck in a foolish grin and I can’t get rid of it! Brain: Just remember we’ll never find someone like Beau Fortier. Mouth: Yeap, that worked. Heart: Why are you such a wet blanket? Poor Mouth will never smile again. Brain: We have to go back to reality. The Beau & the Belle was an uplifting, feel-good novel that turned me - Heart:Us Brain: - into a pile of goo, and made Stomach hurt from laughter, but you need to realize that things like that don’t happen. That way, growing old along with our cat collection will be easier. Heart: But - Brain: Let me finish! Do you plan on visiting New Orleans? Heart: No but - Brain: And tasting king cake? Attending fancy charity balls? Heart: No, but we did finish law school and we almost burned the house when we tried to cook once, so there are some similarities. Brain: Did we meet someone like Beau in law school? Heart:*deflated* No, everyone was uptight in the not-so-sexy way, and we only drooled out of boredom, not because boys were delicious enough to make Mouth water like Beau. Mouth: I second that! Brain: Stop seconding and keep on consuming cookies! See Heart? You need to wake up! Heart: Honestly, Brain, all I can hear is incoherent grumpy mumbling! I loved The Beau & the Belle, I loved the warmth that enveloped me and made me race whenever Beau and Lauren were close, and that giddy feeling I can’t shake off. And even you, smartass, can agree that the difference between the narration of teenage Lauren and adult Lauren was really well depicted, so thumbs up for that! My only complaint is that it ended rather abruptly, I wanted wedding bells and babies and a public rejection of Preston - Brain: Dude I wanted the last one too!
Mouth: I sec- Brain and Heart: Shut up Mouth! Heart: And didn’t you enjoy the slow burn? I needed a fire extinguisher because my panties were on fire! Brain: Classy, Heart, so classy. Heart: But oh so true. Tell me, what’s your verdict then? Brain: Fine, it’s one of those times I agree with you. Heart: Halleluiah! Brain: It’s R.S. Grey after all, an instant-buy author whenever in need for smile and detectable tension and feisty and adorkable heroines and male leads you want to bite - Heart: Yum yum! *suddenly giggles* Brain: What? Heart: I just remember the instant messenger conversations! I wanted to die off second hand embarrassment! Brain: *bursts into a fit of laughter*
If Brain and Heart agreeing on something didn't convince you to read The Beau & the Belle, what can? Puppies playing peek-a-boo?
*ARC generously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review*
“My face. My body. My heart - it all went with her, because she was me. My twin sister killed herself on June
I am torn between angry and heartbroken.
“My face. My body. My heart - it all went with her, because she was me. My twin sister killed herself on June twenty-ninth. We would've been eighteen the next day.”
You don't need to know anything else about Ryan's Bed except that it narrates the story of an eighteen year old girl, Mackenzie, and her life after the suicide of her twin sister. It shows how tremendous grief can tear a family apart, and how cruel and malicious teens can be in order to become popular. How a strange boy and his compassion can help pull yourself together after your world crumbles and, mainly, how not talking about what bothers you, and not sharing your sorrow, can be lethal. It does not glorify suicide, nor elaborates on the reasons why. It simply depicts the consequences to the ones left behind.
“Her name was Willow, and she left me.”
The theme Tijan chose is sensitive, but she treated it with the necessary respect. I can't even begin to understand what goes through a person's mind in order to take such an irrevocable decision, but I always thought that choosing to end your life is the easy way out. Since that sounds rather harsh, allow me to explain. Real life is full of struggles, burdens and obstacles. For example - and mind that I lead an easy life compared to the pain I witness daily - I can't count the times I've felt emotionally drained, or hurt and desperate, wondering when it'll finally stop. I can't count the times I've shut myself down, and alienated friends, because I craved isolation. All those times, the way out was simple; read a book or spend time with family, even though I was feeling particularly antisocial. Every person has a coping mechanism of their own, and yes, sometimes it may be really hard to find one, but there's always another way out. Something or someone worth fighting for. Being a teenager, like Willow, is harder, since it's the epitome of drama; first loves, image problems, popularity, high grades etc. But when you're a teenager, sometimes you forget that you have the whole world at your feet, endless possibilities and roads, and -if not all of them- at least a great number depends solely on you. How can you throw your life away? How can you be so selfish that you numb your own pain by destroying the lives of the ones who love you? Because let's face it, it's not only the life of one person that ends with a suicide. It's the mother, the father, the sibling, the spouse, the friend who has to deal with your absence, with the question whether they were not enough to keep you with them, who go on with a hole in their chests that will never heal. What I'm saying? I'm angry at Willow, for what she threw away and the damage she inflicted to her loved ones. But I'm also mad at her parents who put their own grief above their own child, and stopped being parents. I am angry at those horrible high-school girls who were willing to take advantage of such a delicate and raw wound in order to achieve their petty purposes. And I am angry at Mackenzie, for ignoring the pain and doing stuff out of character because she couldn't care or because she wanted to feel something, anything.
I am also sad. Tijan depicted with raw clarity Mackenzie's trauma, and I was constantly swallowed by her darkness and despair. There were times I closed the book, and was in such a foul mood that I couldn't stand being around people, because of the darkness and the ache in my heart. And partially, that's the reason I rated Ryan's Bed with 3.5 stars. As contradictory as it may sound, I wanted to finish it because I wanted to breathe again. To shove away the burden of Mackenzie's grief. And that's when I realized that if I, a reader, couldn't handle the sorrow, then it was unfair to stay mad at Mackenzie for trying to survive, to make the day, using any means necessary.
In this different and consuming story, Ryan's role and his whole relationship with Mackenzie was an oasis. The refreshing thing about them was that there were zero misunderstandings. Ryan was always there, supporting Mackenzie, giving her what she needed. And it was a deeply satisfying sentiment, witnessing the kind side of humankind. He was sweet, caring and thoughtful, the only one who didn't shy away from Mackenzie's mood swings and breakdowns. He was her haven, and they created something beautiful out of the ugliness of loss.
Family relationships were thoroughly explored, and the high-school drama spiced things up but also helped, in its own, twisted way, Mackenzie's journey to acceptance. She was resilient, a survivor, a source of strength for those around her. And Ryan was hers.
Ryan's Bed was a meaningful, powerful and sweet novel, but I don't think I'd be able to read it again. A catchy closing line, though, is not the one I'm using this time. If you feel trapped, TALK. If you feel incompetent, TALK. Your life matters, and there's always, always someone whose reality is beautiful thanks to YOU. You're not the only one who hurts, find your own source of strength, and STAY ALIVE, for your family, and yourself.
*ARC generously provided by the author via Nina Bocci in exchange for an honest review*...more
Imagine radiant, colourful fireworks exploding in your chest.
They leave only ribbons of tattered flesh and a pool of blood. The pain is unbearable, buImagine radiant, colourful fireworks exploding in your chest.
They leave only ribbons of tattered flesh and a pool of blood. The pain is unbearable, but when they exploded, the sight was so beautiful it left you speechless, and thus you don't harbor any regrets. When Hurt and Art mingle, in a way that makes you feel alive in your nerves and in your cells, the explosion seems like a fair price. A price I willingly paid when I read Uncharted.
With UnchartedJulie Johnson does the unthinkable, and writes a book based on the fictional movie within her The Monday Girl and The Someday Girl duet. She narrates the story of Violet, a girl who tried to take a break from the dull life she was meant to lead in her small town by accepting a job that would lead her to South Pacific for the summer. But Fate had other plans. Her plane crushed and she ended up stranded on a uninhabited island, having as her only company an unconscious and gravely injured flight attendant and him. B. Underwood. Beck. The gruffy, broody photographer that ignited an unprecedented fire that burned and ravaged everything she knew, everything she was until the moment she met him. When she crash-landed on the island, she thought her story was over. Turns out, it was about to begin.
“Do I even want a love like that? The kind that burns so bright, you spend the rest of your life blinking away sun spots, half-blind from the experience?”
Uncharted was the tenth book from Julie Johnson I read, and while I feel like I've run out of praise that does her justice, my fingers are itching to try nonetheless. What I admire most about her, is that with her, the idea of the story doesn't matter. Give her the most absurd or the most used concept. She will work her magic, and create something soul-gripping that makes your body reverberate with its heavenly melody. Plotwise, Uncharted was a rather simple book; a girl and a man trying to survive after a plane crush. But in respect of character development, inner thoughts and feelings, it was a sweeping tornado.
Our lives can be uncharted. The compass is broken, the northen lights guiding to happiness, to belonging, to home, extinguished. We wander aimless, looking for a sign, a harbor, and the heart craves what the mind is too stubborn and afraid to deliver. Some other times we desire uncharted. We feel like our deadly weight constricts our lungs, our path is predetermined by other factors, like social expectations, or parents, and a trip outside this suffocating path is the most wanted deliverance. But once you taste deliverance, and the intoxicating feeling of carving your own way, you can't go back. You have savored the most exquisite wine, how could you return to drinking water? If you have gazed at the sun, how can you settle with candle light? Beck falls into the first category. Violet into the second. And eventually, they collide.
“You have given me purpose, blinded me with light in a world that once held only darkness. You have altered my life in a way I never expected. And I don't know how to go back.”
Uncharted is a richly emotional, deliciously sensual novel, laced with thought-provoking pondering on contemporary society, on the desires and fears and needs of a girl that turns into a woman suddenly and rather brutally. It's a journey to self-discovery, through bloody feet, silent tears, dehydrated and sunburned skin. Through loss and despair. Through powerful, all-consuming connection to another human being. The struggle to survive forged an unlikeable bond between Beck and Violet. But the way they were branded on each others' soul was something else. Their love helped them grow up. Face the truth about their past selfs, and bring to surface the new, wisest ones, the ones with the courage to survive storms, and fight for strangers, and gather coconuts, and admit the most embarassing weaknesses. There was something oddly comforting in the way Violet hurt for Beck. It reminded of all the times we felt like our feelings aren't reciprocated, or the impediments disastrous, but we couldn't hush the tempest of emotions that overwhelmed us. The tension is magnetic. The atmosphere between them humming with electricity. And even though their love is forbidden, even though there are various reasons to keep them apart, Violet fights for them. And through her, Beck finds the courage to fight as well. They're both flawed, stubborn and selfish. But they're also brave, and strong, and together, they shape and reshape their present, dreaming and dreading the future.
“Never stop fighting, Violet. Nothing in this world worth having comes without some sort of struggle.”
Uncharted was different and brilliant in its own way, and I can't help but commend Julie Johnson for experimenting and not resting on her laurels. She broke my heart piece by piece, but then she offered me the remedy, the salve to my raw wounds. And she fueled me with emotions and images so vivid, that will keep me company for a while. Do not hesitate to grab Uncharted and take off for destinations unknown, that will touch you to the core!
*ARC generously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review*
It's Monday morning. You wake up early, determined to get to work on time. You leave behind your crappy apartment and your crazy roommates. You run to caIt's Monday morning. You wake up early, determined to get to work on time. You leave behind your crappy apartment and your crazy roommates. You run to catch the bus, but your high heels are killing you, so you miss the bus and you're forced to reach the metro station on foot, while the bypassing cars keep splashing you and your only trench coat with mud. Your feet are sore and your hair resembles a bird nest when you finally get in the train. It is so crowded, though, that you end up accidentally eating the breakfast of the incredulous woman next to you. In the end you get to work, and commence your boring tasks while you day-dream that one day they'll recognize your talent and promote you. And then she arrives. Demeter. Your boss. The woman who inspires you with her brilliant ideas, her glossy hair and designer clothes, the woman who can't even remember your name. But-wait, she asks you to join her in her office! This is it, you think and your chest is ready to explode. This is your chance. And so, you enter her office, nervous but overly excited, preparing your thank you speach, until the moment... she asks you to dye her hair.
This is more or less Katie's life, presented by Sophie Kinsella in a hilarious and refreshing manner. Ambitious and devoted to her dreams, Katie left her family farm and her heavy accent in Somerset in order to pursuit her career in branding and promotion in her favorite city, London, but her life is not as glamorous as it appears on Instagram. And just when she thinks things will get better workwise, and she meets a funny and gorgeous guy who makes her toes curl, she gets fired. Disappointed she returns to Somerset and helps her father and stepmother organize and promote their farm as a glamping retreat. Amidst naming cows and greeting loud families, lo and behold! Demeter arrives. It's Katies opportunity to exact revenge on the witch, but something bothers her. Maybe Demeter is not the cold-hearted, cruel and ignorant demon everyone thinks she is. Maybe she has problems of her own. And maybe, her perfect life is not so perfect after all.
My Not So Perfect Life is a delightful, adorable, uplifting read, a great company when you hate the world and/or your life and/or your face and you're on the verge of drowning in self-pity. Or when you look for a boost to make you forget your crappy day. Or simply when you need something fun.
There is a rare authenticity in the prose of Sophie Kinsella, a deep connection to your reality that makes you see yourself in Katie. She is such a relatable and wonderful character, you can feel, truly feel her inner battles, the way she is torn between two lives, and two sides of herself. The cool, classy London girl or the farmer's daughter. Kat or Katie. The girl with the perfect life and the girl with the not-so-perfect life. And you realize that the latter, the not-so-perfect part, is the one that fills you with contentment, a genuine euphoria you want to touch, cuddle, put in a box and preserve forever. Your face hurts from smiling, and your heart flutters like a bird every time Alex appears (the aforementioned funny and gorgeous guy whom - of course - I pictured as Henry Cavill because apparently my mind is not capable of conjuring another man's face)
The tension, the attraction and the connection between Alex and Katie is tangible, and makes you giddy-borderline-ridiculous. The romantic element, though, is not this book's main focus. Throughout the story, the myth of the so-called perfect life is demolished, and an unexpected friendship blossoms between two women who are not so different after all. Demeter has her flaws, but there is so much more to her character, and the way Katie starts warming up to her, and understands that the real thing, the imperfect thing, is the most worthy is the whole book's essence.
“Every time you see someone's bright-and-shiny, remember: They have their own crappy truths too. Of course they do. And every time you see your own crappy truth and feel despair and think, 'Is this my life?', remember: It's not. Everyone's got a bright-and-shiny, even if it's hard to find sometimes.”
Recorded Interview August 6, 2017 Bald Knob, KY Police Department
Katerina: Why am I here? Deputy Lloyd: Ur, I have no idea, ma'am, you were the one who iRecorded Interview August 6, 2017 Bald Knob, KY Police Department
Katerina: Why am I here? Deputy Lloyd: Ur, I have no idea, ma'am, you were the one who initiated this interview. Katerina: I'm pretty sure you know the reason, though. Deputy Lloyd: Oh right, review purposes! Katerina: Good boy. Even though I'd have preferred Sheriff Leo Hudson, I keep picturing him as Chris Hemsworth in Thor, is it true that the resemblance is uncanny? Because if it is I wouldn't say no to a trip to Valhalla with him- Deputy Lloyd: He's not available right now. But he does look like Thor. Katerina: Is it true that his muscles are like tree trunks and his eyes the brightest blue of the sky and that- Deputy Lloyd: Ma'am, I believe you've been carried away.
*A moment of hesitation*
Deputy Lloyd: But it is true. Katerina: Why are the good ones always taken? Deputy Lloyd: ... Katerina: Anyway, how shall we proceed? Deputy Lloyd: Um, I suppose I could ask you some questions? Katerina: Shoot me!
Katerina: You're not very good at this, are you? Deputy Lloyd: I beg your pardon? I conducted a murder investigation for Heaven's sake! Do you know that our Mayor was killed, and I had to interview a city full of crazy a$$holes who never mind their own business AND a freaking dog? Katerina: Language, Officer! Deputy Lloyd: Sorry ma'am.
*Another awkward silence*
Deputy Lloyd: So, let's start from the basics. Why did you read Jed Had to Die? Katerina: Well, some friends on Goodreads and the friends of those friends and then some random strangers raved about this book, and I was in the mood for a rom-com featuring a murder, so... Deputy Lloyd: From the smile on your face I take you enjoyed it? Katerina: Wow you're realy observant, Officer! Of course I did, It was fantabulous! Deputy Lloyd: Ma'am, please don't- Katerina:Awemusing! Deputy Lloyd: Ma'am- Katerina:Smeeeexy! Deputy Lloyd: You haven't tried homemade moonshine, have you? Katerina: Nah, just five cups of Liquid Crack! Deputy Lloyd: So you're a coffee addict, like our Payton? Katerina: Oh yes, that's why I loved her, besides her sarcasm and her inability to keep her mouth shut and her bad decisions. She understands coffee's sacrosanct nature and healing abilities and- Deputy Lloyd: Alright, alright, got it! What else did you like about Jed Had to Die? Katerina: The homey athmosphere! I felt like I was watching Hart of Dixie and, to be honest, Bald Knob reminded me of my hometown with its gossip and meddling! Deputy Lloyd: Wow, your town actually competes Bald Knob regarding the gossip and the meddling? Katerina: Yup! Once upon a time someone spread the rumor that my momma was dead and people called to offer their condolences! Deputy Lloyd: Are you serious? Katerina: Like a heart attack.
*Third awkward silence*
Deputy Lloyd: Um, do you think Jed really had to die? Katerina: Duh-uh, he deserved everything that happened to him, that twisted bastard! Deputy Lloyd: Ma'am, you do realise that if the book wasn't finished you'd be a suspect for the murder of Jed Jackson, correct? Katerina: But I'm not, and we all know that the person who did it was- Deputy Lloyd: No spoilers, ma'am! Katerina: Sorry, Officer.
Deputy Lloyd: Did you enjoy the romance? Katerina: Oh yeah, I loved every minute of it! Leo was such a caveman and a darling at the same time, and the fact that he had those feelings for Payton all those years made me all mushy and cry-baby! They were adorable and VERY hot, if you know what I mean... Deputy Lloyd: I'm so glad we're talking about my boss's sex life like some pervs. What about the rest of the characters? Katerina: The female friendships were wonderful, their banters had me cackling like a hen! And I must admit, Officer, your interviews were what made my day! Deputy Lloyd: At least someone took pleasure in my misery. Katerina: Oh stop being a drama-queen! You enjoyed it, I enjoyed it, EVERYONE enjoyed it! Jed Had to Die was definitely a feel-good novel, ideal for a beach read or a midnight read or an I-want-to-have-fun read! Deputy Lloyd: On behalf of the town of Bald Knob, I'd like to thank you for your kind words. Please, do visit us again! Katerina: No no no don't leave me yet, I don't want to go back to stupid reality, please-
“Life is a beautiful, broken mess. Closer to a Shakespearean tragedy than a Hollywood happy ending.”
Well, life is indeed a Shakespearean tragedy w
“Life is a beautiful, broken mess. Closer to a Shakespearean tragedy than a Hollywood happy ending.”
Well, life is indeed a Shakespearean tragedy when it dawns on you that Luca Buchanan, Boston's most badass MMA fighter and Alpha Male Extraordinaire, is not real. I'm going to numb my pain by watching Stephen Amell working out in those deliciously entertaining salmon ladders that make Lila (and me, and you, and every creature with ovaries) drool.
Delilah 'Lila' Sinclair is a bitch. A fiery redhead that cares too much. A cool girl. A girl afraid of love. An aloof heiress. A daughter and sister who would do anything for her family. The untouchable queen bee. The queen dethroned and now searching for a way to keep her life together. She was polished and unattainable, with her designer clothes and bluntness and habit of wrecking her short-term boyfriends, until things happened. Until Luca Buchanan happened. She knew he would be her undoing, and she kept him at arm's length until the day came when he was the only one who could help her, and thus a complicated relationship shyly started to bloom, filled with fights and stubborness and some really mean dudes. And Lila was forced to face her fears once and for all, and decide whether her past would prevent her from living her future. With or without him.
“Careful, Delilah. You play with fire, you're gonna get burned.”
What is the greatest gift a rom-com could ever give you? - Funny and snarky characters that brighten your days and make your belly shake with laughter - Stories that combine action, suspense and romance that keep you glued to your seat until you finish one more chapter, even if it means forgetting to get off the bus in time and face the consequences of your actions (e.g. end up in a dystopian city with brain-eating zombies or something) - Harry Potter references (aren't you frustrated when no one gets them?) - Friendship - Love - Hope
There is a certain pattern when you read a Boston Love story. A sacred ritual, if you may. You meet a relatable girl trying to figure things out. Then you meet a guy who has some issues of his own, but decides that there is something special about this girl worth pursuing, despite everything that keeps them apart. There is sizzling tension. There is tenderness that envelops you in a bubble of warmth and gets you drunk with elation. There are some bad guys who'll complicate things, featuring guns and kidnapping. But in the end, when you finish it, heart racing and eyes puffy with tears and nose leaking and rugged breathing, you are content. Even if your life is a trainwreck, even if you spend your nights muffling your sobs or jump from one meaningless relationship to another, searching for the right person to call home, Julie Johnson always gives you the greatest gift. Hope. In its purest and most genuine form. A gift she never fails to deliver.
In Take Your Time, she doesn't actually let you take the time to process what is happening. In a space of a few days, she manages to turn the lives of Lila and Luca upside down, and she drags you in their hot mess without giving you the chance to say no. Her words weave a web of affection and heat around your soul, erase everything from your brain except the overpowering need to get lost in her tornado and never come out again. You need her to survive. To believe. To dream. To forget your struggles and your sorrow, your commitments and your anxiety. To put back together all those pieces of you that keep chipping away. Take Your Time is not only about the cosmic love between a lonely boy and a fallen heiress. It's also about a self-sufficient girl who lets her heartbreak and her loss dictate her life. You find a kindred spirit in Lila. There are so many masks a person can put to hide their true self. You can choose the distant bitch persona, or the always smiling honey-tongued girl-next door, but the truth is still the same. You hurt. You search for something, even when you're not sure what's that. And you don't want the world to see this weakness. But in Lila's case, Luca did. He called bullsh!t on her act, and saw the golden heart in her, the heart that cared for two adorable twins and a slobbery dog, and decided he wanted her. Scars and all. Lila didn't need time. She had all the time in the world to hide and run away. She just needed a push. A leap of faith, and someone to hold her when she did.
“If I ever decide to let someone break my heart, I want it to be you, Luca Buchanan.”
Setting the self-discovery parts aside, Take Your Time is also a hilarious, scorching, feel-good story that plasters a huge grin on your face, with its adorable characters and its fast pace. Even after nine books, Julie Johnson has always more to offer; her words are a shelter and a sanctuary, whenever I need my fix of escape. And for that, I am always grateful!
P.S. I'm still waiting for Connor's story, Julie.
*ARC generously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review*
If you thought Reed was royally messed up, then you haven't met Easton.
“I’m the design flaw in the Royal family, the one who isn’t quite like the others, the one who crashes and burns more often than not.”
Easton Royal is rich beyond imagination. He uses his money to feed his addictions. He's the member of a family that loves him. He's always alone. He parties hard like there's no tomorrow. He knows that his tomorrow will be bleak.
Hartley Wright seems well composed. Her life is turned upside down. She's a loner. She won't let anyone get close lest they find the truth. She wants to keep Easton at arm's length. She wants him, but maybe not enough to let him ruin her.
They're both good at pretending.
“I told you, trouble follows you wherever you go, Easton.”
Teenage drama, backstabs, addictions, desire and a slow burning romance? Count me in! If you look up the word addictive, you'll find Erin Watt as the definition. It doesn't matter that their characters are so messed up you can't untangle them even if you dedicated your whole life to that end. It doesn't matter that you desperately wish to smack some sense into them before all Hell breaks loose and damage control is just not possible. Nor that the halls of Astor Prep with their petty politics and teenagers lusting after power (and each other) seem like they're taken from TV series like Gossip Girl. You're hooked. Stuck from the first line to the last. Even though said last line leaves you like this.
In Fallen Heir, it is Easton's time to shine, and to ruin people with his reckless behaviour and his abandon, his charming smile that hides the inadequacy and the hurt he feels. He doesn't want to ponder on his darkness. He uses alcohol and violence to numb his mind, he seeks the forbidden, and it constantly gets his in trouble, something that thrills him. But when his new, mysterious classmate gets in the way of his shenanigans, he faces the question whether he'll keep hitting on her, only to be rejected and alienate her, or become her friend, and shockingly, he chooses the second. He wants to know her. To protect her. But as past experience has shown, when Easton Royal cares, bad things tend to happen.
“No one has ever really needed me. Ella needed Reed. My mom needed pills and booze. The twins have each other. Hartley is alone. And there's something about her loneliness that strikes a chord in me.”
Easton describes himself as a self-destructive screw-up, and he proved himself right again and again. The authors did a great job delving into Easton's insecurities and troubles, and even though I wanted to throttle him for his childish whims, I somehow understood him. Hartley was a delight, he needed someone to say no and make him struggle for something, and my heart broke for all the ugly things she went through. The lack of a female POV added to the surprise factor, and I loved that they didn't let their attraction dictate the way their relationship evolved. There were many secrets. Distrust. Angst and desperation. And tension so thick you could cut it with a knife. Once more, Erin Watt managed to ruin me. Royally.
*ARC generously provided by the authors in exchange for an honest review*...more
Narrator: Brain was suspiciously quiet upon finishing Walk of Shame. Heart knew she'd probably regret it, but with steely dHeart vs Brain, Episode 4
Narrator: Brain was suspiciously quiet upon finishing Walk of Shame. Heart knew she'd probably regret it, but with steely determination and the help of liquid courage, she asked the dreadful question.
Brain: Go away Heart, I need to put my cells in order. Heart: Come on, tell me what's going on! You know I can be very persistent. Brain: *sighs* That is sadly true. In fact, perhaps you'll be useful for a change. Heart: Hey, I'm always useful! If it weren't for me, Katerina wouldn't even be alive. Brain: Well legally speaking, a person is dead when I stop functioning, but that's not an issue at the moment, I'm healthy as a racing horse. Heart: *snorts* Brain: Anyway, I need to ask you a question. Heart: Only if you promise you'll stop insulting/correcting/annoying me. Brain: Sure, sure. How would you describe Walk of Shame? Heart: Brain: Um, what? Heart: A flying unicorn with wings made of glitter. A cupcake with chocolate cream cheese frosting. Brain: Still, what? Heart: A Cutie McFluffy. Brain: Ooook, I suppose what you truly mean is that this book was delicious and utterly adorable? Even though I must clarify that a flying horse is a Pegasus, not a unicorn. Heart: Brain: Right, sorry. Would you care to elaborate a little further? Heart: It was hilarious. Have we read the enemies-to-lovers trope before? Sure. Lauren Layne's characters, though, were truly endearing. Funny, messy and hot! Brain: Well that's the problem! For the first time ever, it was the female character, Georgie, the one I absolutely adored. She was not the typical shallow girl that came from a rich family, she was very caring, loyal, chatty, and her incoherent conversations and cupcake addiction made me love her so, so much. I just don't know what to make of Andrew. Heart: Really? I thought you had a thing for successful, uptight and cold male characters who hide their vulnerable side because they're hurt or afraid of getting hurt! Plus, Andrew was yummy. I would love to lick him like the frosting of a cupcake, I would- Brain: Heart, put yourself together! I am the one being vulnerable right now, there are some things I can't process and it's frustrating! Heart:
Brain: ... Heart: Alright, tell me your problems! (I deserve the award of the most patient Heart after everything stupid Brain has put me through) Brain: I didn't find enough depth in Andrew and there were times I couldn't feel the connection between him and Georgie. Yes I admit they had some very heartwarming scenes- Heart: How would you know? That's my area of expertise! Brain: -and others which were rather steamy, but something was missing. So, we'll have to go for 3 stars I'm afraid. Heart: Hold on a second! Did you like Andrew's big gesture in the end? Brain: Of course I did. Heart: Did the entire book put a big smile on your face? Brain: Yes, but- Heart: Listen to me, Brain. There are days you feel you're a badass and can conquer the world. And then there are days you feel like crap, like a walking and talking failure and disappointment that destroys everything in its path. When you face a day like the latter, you and I both know what lifts our spirits. Books like Walk of Shame. Authors like Lauren Layne, whose purpose is to show you the fun side of life, to soothe your soul and make everything okay with their witty characters and the sweet love stories, even though sometimes they seem unrealistic. We're not looking for realistic. We're searching for an escape. A cure. And I think that Georgie and Andrew offered us exactly what we needed: Perfectly ridiculous. Brain: Perfectly ridiculous. You know Heart, I think you're right! Heart: That's a first! What about the rating? Brain: Four stars? Heart: Four stars, baby!
Narrator: For the first time in forever, Brain realised that Heart was not that useless and pathetic after all. Sure, she was a source of trouble and pain, but in the end, so was Brain. They were such a bizarre duo, those too.
Narrator: On August 5, 2018, Katerina peacefully finished The Chase. She went to the beach, she was sunburned and ended up looking like a roasted ThaNarrator: On August 5, 2018, Katerina peacefully finished The Chase. She went to the beach, she was sunburned and ended up looking like a roasted Thanksgiving turkey, she ate seafood with the light summer breeze rustling her hair, and life was simply perfect. Until she got a summons to the Prosecutor's office.
*light knock on the door* Prosecutor: *without lifting his head* Come in, Miss Katerina. Me: How did you know it was me? Prosecutor: It was the smell that gave you away. Me: Smell? Prosecutor: The smell of books, fluffy dreams and chocolate flavoured hopes for happily ever afters. Me: Thanks, I guess? Prosecutor: Please, sit down. Do you know why I brought you here? Me: *shifts in her chair* I have my suspicions. Prosecutor: So you know I'm legally bound to press charges for - Me: It's no big deal, OK? I didn't mean for my sister to get hurt, she got over it, at least I think she did, she won't talk to me but - Prosecutor: What are you talking about? Me: Um, the Incident. Me forcing my sister to hold a book pile some people would call huge in order to take a photo for my Instagram account and said pile collapsing on her head? Prosecutor: - Me: Oh, you didn't know that. Prosecutor: No, but remind me to come back to this later. The reason I invited you here is to try and help you make amends for a felony you committed. * dramatic pause* YOU GAVE The Chase THREE STARS!! Me: Well, I also gave The Goal 3 stars, but you didn't mind back then! Wait, you know about it, right? In any case, I plead the Fifth! Prosecutor: As far as I know your problem with The Goal was Sabrina, what's your excuse this time? Me: It's a long story, really. I dived into The Chase all too eager and enthusiastic, I started it as soon as the ARC hit my Kindle and the whole experience reduced me into a puddle of hormones, and I think I drooled a little or, you know, a lot. The thing is, there was more angst than I expected, and both Fitzy and Summer irritated me sometimes. *pause* It wasn't a long story after all. Prosecutor: One would say that Elle Kennedy tackled some serious issues, like learning disabilities, spiteful parents, broken families and unreasonable girl-on-girl hatred to name a few, and handled them with respect, she showcased their impact in a realistic way and gave you food for thought. Me: That's true, I didn't- Prosecutor: One would also say that since you're in the mood for NA romance you got your fill of steam, more sexual frustration than your ovaries could take, well-written moments of levity and snarky banters, and my records show that you swooned a couple of times. Me: Three times I think - Prosecutor: One would finally say that you should be happy and thankful you got back to Briar University and the hockey team that would render you a puck bunny if given a chance. Do you deny all those things? Me: No, I- Prosecutor: THEN WHY ON GOD'S GREEN EARTH DID YOU GIVE IT THREE STARS? WEREN'T YOU TAUGHT MATH AT SCHOOL? Me: Jeez, what got your panties in a twist? And what's with all the spit, do I need an umbrella whenever I talk to you? Prosecutor: Apologies for my outburst, ma'am, I simply don't understand this. Me: To be honest, me neither. I enjoyed The Chase, hell, I devoured it, but I was left a bit unsatisfied. It was Hunter's involvement, and the fact that Summer did seem like an airhead most of the times - Prosecutor: *death glare* Me: Hey I'm not judging her, I'm talking about first impressions. She was the queen of llama-drama and a brat, and even though I eventually found depth in her, and realized she was a wonderful human being after all, I couldn't shake those impressions. And Fitz, his reactions were so...immature, at times. His reservations were founded, I give him that, but his head was stuck in his buttocks for a long time. But they were great buttocks. I also loved his tattoos. His muscles. His geekiness. His p - Prosecutor: *coughs* Me: - and his scenes with Summer were SMOKING HOT, babe, talk about off-the-charts chemistry. Prosecutor: Ma'am, let's focus, alright? Me: What? Oh right. Prosecutor: Me: Prosecutor: Anything else? Me: Yeah, every hockey hottie from the previous books appeared, except from my favorite. WHERE THE FRACK WAS JOHN LOGAN??? Prosecutor: That's a legit point. Is it enough, though, to justify the three stars? Me: What will you do if I insist on this rating? Prosecutor: Will imprisonment deter you? Me: I'm afraid not, sir, I shall stay true to my humble opinion. Prosecutor: Fine, you may go. Me: Wait, that's it? Prosecutor: Three star ratings are not a crime, ma'am. Gosh, how do you call yourself a lawyer? I just wanted to change your mind. Me: *nervous laughter* I knew that.
Since Μετά τα μεσάνυχτα is written by a Greek author, the following review is also written in greek. And it's a shame because there's not a chance youSince Μετά τα μεσάνυχτα is written by a Greek author, the following review is also written in greek. And it's a shame because there's not a chance you wouldn't love it, my friends!
Ίσως η καλύτερη δουλειά της Τατιάνας μέχρι σήμερα.
Κάθε φορά που ένα βιβλίο της πέφτει στα χέρια μου, ξέρω πως θα βιώσω μία ιστορία αγάπης φρέσκια, με setting και χαρακτήρες πρωτόγνωρους για τα ελληνικά δεδομένα. Το Μετά τα μεσάνυχτα πάντως, κατέχει μία ιδιαίτερη θέση στην καρδιά μου. Θες επειδή είχα την τύχη να το παρακολουθήσω εν τη γενέσει του, θες επειδή είχα ανάγκη να χαθώ σε μία ιστορία δυνατή, συγκινητική και γλυκόπικρη, θες επειδή η Τατιάνα έδωσε όλη της την ψυχή και οι σκέψεις της έγιναν προτάσεις, σελίδες και σκηνές που σε κομμάτιαζαν και μετά από λίγο επούλωναν τις πληγές σου για να σε κομματιάσουν ξανά, όποιος και αν είναι ο λόγος, το αγάπησα. Παρά τον πόνο, τα δάκρυα και τον θυμό, παρά τους αποχωρισμούς και τα σκληρά λόγια που ειπώθηκαν έχοντας την γεύση αλκοόλ και τύψεων, ναι, το αγάπησα.
“Με έκανες να την ξεχάσω.”
Μια κατηγορία που ψιθυρίστηκε με τρεμάμενη φωνή, ποτισμένη από ενοχές, και ίσως μία στάλα θαυμασμού που κάτι τέτοιο κατέστη εφικτό. Ο Σεμπάστιαν έχασε την γυναίκα της ζωής του σε ένα ατύχημα που τον σημάδεψε για πάντα. Βουτηγμένος στο πένθος, ορκισμένος να κρατήσει τη μνήμη της Σάρα ζωντανή, ακόμα και αν αυτό σήμαινε ότι ο ίδιος θα ήταν πάντα ένα βήμα πίσω από τους υπόλοιπους ανθρώπους, βουλιάζοντας στην απελπισία και τη νοσταλγία, δεν περίμενε ότι αυτή η γνώριμη ρουτίνα του θα άλλαζε ποτέ. Μέχρι που εκείνη γύρισε από το Λονδίνο. Η αδελφή του καλύτερού του φίλου. Η Λέξι. Το κορίτσι με το λαμπερό χαμόγελο, που φώτισε τα βάθη της ανταριασμένης του ψυχής. Θα περίμενε κανείς ότι ο Σεμπάστιαν θα γράπωνε την ευκαιρία να ζήσει ξανά. Να αγαπήσει ξανά. Όμως δεν μπορεί να ξεπεράσει το παρελθόν του, να αθετήσει την υπόσχεση που είχε δώσει εκείνο το μοιραίο βράδυ, όταν έχασε τον κόσμο του. Δεν θέλει να προχωρήσει. Μέσα από μία ατέρμονη (και αμφίρροπη) μάχη ανάμεσα στο πένθος και την ελπίδα, το φως και το σκοτάδι, η Λέξι καλείται να ανακαλύψει, να σώσει και να ενώσει τον Σεμπάστιαν. Ακόμα και αν αυτό σημαίνει πως θα πρέπει εκείνη να διαλυθεί.
Κουβάρι οι σκέψεις και τα συναισθήματά μου όσο διάβαζα το Μετά τα Μεσάνυχτα. Και ο Σεμπάστιαν και η Λέξι με στενοχώρησαν, με θύμωσαν, με έκαναν να νιώσω και να ζήσω τη θυελλώδη σχέση τους όχι σαν αμέτοχος θεατής, αλλά σαν να συνέβαινε σε μένα. Ίσως τα πιο ρεαλιστικά και ελαττωματικά "παιδιά" της Τατιάνας, ακόμα και οι αποφάσεις τους που με πλήγωναν ήταν συνεπείς προς τους χαρακτήρες τους. Πόσες φορές καυτά δάκρυα αυλάκωσαν το πρόσωπό μου με την εμμονή του Σεμπάστιαν στο παρελθόν, με τον σκληρό τρόπο που αντιμετώπιζε τη Λέξι κάθε φορά που καταλάβαινε πως πλησιάζε στη λύτρωση, την οποία με πείσμα αρνιόταν. Με τον τρόπο που η Λέξι πέθαινε σιγά-σιγά για να δώσει σ' εκείνον ζωή. Αλλά, καμιά φορά, πρέπει να πιάσεις πάτο για να μπορέσεις να σηκωθείς. Να είσαι εξοικειωμένος με τη μαυρίλα του σκοταδιού για να εκτιμήσεις και την πιο μικρή ακτίνα φωτός. Μέσα από την ιστορία τους, διαπιστώνεις πως όταν αγαπάς, είσαι εγωιστής και ανιδιοτελής ταυτόχρονα. Ότι όσες είναι οι πιθανότητες να αναγεννηθείς μέσα από τις στάχτες σου, άλλες τόσες είναι και να σε σκορπίσει ο άνεμος, μέχρι να μην μείνει τίποτα από σένα πια. Πώς να νικήσεις μία εξιδανικευμένη ανάμνηση; Μία σκιά που στοιχειώνει ακόμα και τις πιο ευτυχισμένες σου στιγμές; Πόσο να αντέξεις να είσαι δεύτερη στη ζωή εκείνου που θέλεις να του δοθείς ολοκληρωτικά αλλά δεν μπορείς; Αυτά τα ερωτήματα αντιμετωπίζει η Λέξι, και παρόλο που καμιά φορά οι αντιδράσεις της είναι αυτές ενός ανθρώπου που φοβάται, τις καταλαβαίνεις.
Η χημεία ανάμεσα στον Σεμπάστιαν και τη Λέξι, εξαιρετική. Μπορούσα να νιώσω στο δέρμα μου ακόμα και τα βλέμματά τους, άγγιζε ο Σεμπάστιαν τη Λέξι και ορδές πεταλούδων χόρευαν στο δικό μου στομάχι. Όλες οι σκηνές τους ήταν δοσμένες με μαεστρία, με πάθος, με αγάπη. Η Τατιάνα επέλεξε ένα δύσκολο θέμα, τη διαχείριση του πένθους ενός ανθρώπου που δεν ήθελε να σταματήσει να πενθεί, αλλά το αντιμετώπισε με σεβασμό, χωρίς υπερβολές, και έκανε την μετάβαση προς τα μετέπειτα στάδια και την κάθαρση να μοιάζει φυσική. Με έξυπνο χιούμορ, που έσπαγε τη μελαγχολία, και δυνατούς δευτερεύοντες χαρακτήρες (για να μην αναφέρω την guest εμφάνιση γνώριμων και αγαπημένων προσώπων), το Μετά τα Μεσάνυχτα είναι ένα άρτιο, μεστό και άκρως συναισθηματικό έργο, που δεν μπορείς να το ξεχάσεις. Θα θυμάσαι για πάντα αυτό το πετάρισμα το στήθος. Την υγρασία στα μάτια σου. Το σφίξιμο στο στομάχι. Και θα ευγνωμονείς τον άνθρωπο πίσω από όλα αυτά.
The answer is always the same when it comes to Amy Harmon's books. Both. I am not sure anything I'll say will do justiHEART-BREAKING OR HEART-MENDING?
The answer is always the same when it comes to Amy Harmon's books. Both. I am not sure anything I'll say will do justice to Making Faces. It was a contradiction, sunny days swimming in a lake and nights full of nightmares, a song of mourning and hope that stirred a whirlwind of emotions that could be released only through tears, a lament and an ode to beauty. Beauty that can be found within, in caring, and giving and sharing. And honoring those you left behind by living life to the fullest. It was inspirational. Devastating. And undoubtedly, soul-gripping.
“Death is easy. Living is the hard part.”
In a small Pensylvania town, a tight-knit community, remarkable things rarely happened. Until a September morning that paralyzed the U.S.A. and the entire world. The terrorist attack that left ruins, ashes and the blood of innocents was the trigger for Ambrose Young, the most promising wrestler, the pride of Hannah Lake, to be enlisted. To serve his country, and to avoid the burden of everyone's expectations. He didn't leave to war alone. He had his best friends by his side. But he did come back alone. Disfigured, drowning in guilt and sorrow. The man he was Before was gone.
“If God made all our faces, did he laugh when he made me?”
Fern Taylor never stood out. She was just the daughter of the local pastor with fiery hair and a deep love for romances that everyone overlooked. But her heart was full of kindness. Her best friend and cousin, Bailey, was paralyzed due to a rare disease, but that didn't prevent him from enjoying life as best as he could, even though he was aware that death was waiting in the corner. Fern's days were simple. Take care of Bailey, read, write, and love Ambrose Young. Even when he ignored her. Even when was adamant he didn't deserve to be loved.
SORROW OR JOY?
Sorrow and joy, pain and love, all of them are interwined in Making Faces. For there can be no pain and sorrow if you haven't experienced love and joy. That's what Amy Harmon tries to tell, through her deeply endearing characters, the tragedies and the small and big moments of carelessness. Making Faces is not about one love story. It's about many love stories, for love is endless. When I read this book, with reverence, with passion and compassion, I was not Katerina. I was Ambrose. Fern. Bailey. Rita. A mother mourning for her son. A pastor consoling his fold. A town burying her children. All that I was, all that I am, simply ceased to be. Amy Harmon shaped and reshaped me, poured her heart out on my empty canvas, and when my cheeks were wet and my heart slowly shattering, she wiped my tears with a tender caress and sang with a soft voice.
“I wrote your name across my heart, So we could be together So I could hold you close to me And keep you there forever.”
War. Survivor's guilt. Post traumatic stress disorder. Grief. Illness. Death. Pain. Amy Harmon did not spare her characters. As if narrating a tale to a child, she crafted the lives of Ambrose, Fern and Bailey. Ambrose lost his friends. His self-esteem. His face. How do you get used to being ugly, meeting pity when you once were Hercules? When you were admired and worshiped and now you're just a pathetic shadow of your former self? But in his loneliness and devastation, Ambrose got closer to Fern and Bailey, two adorable dorks, the dying boy in the wheelchair and the girl who secretly loved him since they were kids and buried a spider in the yard. Fern thought that she was too plain, too ugly for Ambrose to notice her. Ambrose thought Fern was too good for him. But despite their doubts, a beautiful relationship blossomed between them, with the potential to lead to acceptance. Healing. The concept of beauty was thoroughly explored. Faith was questioned. Why God keeps sharing burdens and illness and death to people who don't deserve them? Are some lives more worthy than others? Are we all a piece of a puzzle, a greater picture we cannot see, or are we simply heading towards the ultimate end with no hope for something more?
UNDERSTANDING OR BELIEVING?
In Making Faces, I understood the insecurities of a plain girl, a former demigod and a wannabe hero. And I believed in friendship. In love. In eternity, the eternity that Amy Harmon gifted with this little blessing, this beautiful and ugly book. I cannot thank you enough, Amy Harmon.
Anything You Can Do was one of her best works! A light-hearted, uplifting, feel-good, enemies-to-lovers roOh well, there is a reason I love R.S. Grey.
Anything You Can Do was one of her best works! A light-hearted, uplifting, feel-good, enemies-to-lovers romantic comedy to make you believe in love and sunshine and soulmates! Not to mention that Doctor Mc. Dreamy, aka Lucas Thatcher, looks like Henry Cavill.
I'm such a goner.
“Roses are red. Daisy is you, I heard you came back, and I did too.”
Lucas Thatcher and Daisy Bell have been in competition since the day they were born. Literally. They have devoted their lives in besting each other using any means necessary, and after eleven years apart, they finally returned to their home town as mighty doctors claiming the same practice. The only practice. And thus a new era in their competition begins, but this time it's full of tension, stolen kisses and feelings Daisy cannot comprehend. What if her nemesis is everything she's ever wanted? What if Lucas Thatcher is caring and wickedly delicious instead of the cold bastard she'd always believed? Will they set aside their differences for a chance together?
“You listen here, Lucas Thatcher. I hate you, but you're going to kiss me. You're going to kiss me and you're not going to stop.”
✨ Sweet. Tightness in your chest, rapid heartbeat, butterflies dancing in your stomach, warmth spreading in your veins and every cell in your body, and you fall in love with them, dream, hope, sigh and maybe, for a moment, you forget that you're going to spend Valentine's Day eating hamburgers in your comfy pyjamas.
✨ Sexy. Fluffiness is not all you get. It all started with a kiss in the corridor, but it escalated quickly and before you even knew it, your cheeks were ablaze and your mouth dry, and this time you couldn't forget your miserable love life. You just lived vicariously through Daisy. That lucky bitch.
✨ Funny. So, so funny. This novel was full of amusing moments, witty banters and incidents that cracked you up and put a smile on your face that refused to go away. It was there the entire time, whether there were rotten fruit involved or school dances (in this case there were also happy tears), and it never left. You can still feel it creeping on your lips.
“You've been so blinded by the competition you've built up in your own head, you can't see what's right in front of you-what's been there the whole fucking time.”
Daisy, albeit a little blind, was an entertaining and likable heroine, that sucked you in her narration and her journey to find love, a love that was in front of her since she was a little girl. But Lucas was my star. He was adorable, a dreamy book-boyfriend who at first looked like an asshole but later, through his e-mails and his small and big gestures stole my heart. Did I mention he looks like Henry Cavill?
“I am the Annie Oakley to his Frank Butler and I firmly believe that anything he can do, I can do better.”
LIFE TIP #1: Photoshopping yourself next to hunky celebrities is NOT weird.
Oh well, I thought I was the only one, the sole inhabitant of planet ObseLIFE TIP #1: Photoshopping yourself next to hunky celebrities is NOT weird.
Oh well, I thought I was the only one, the sole inhabitant of planet Obsessed-And-Slightly-Creepy-Fangirl, but then Brooke came and admitted doing the exact same thing with Ian Somerhalder. Guess what, I did too! And Orlando Bloom. And Wentworth Miller. And Henry Cavill. And Brad Pitt. Not weird at all, right?
LIFE TIP #2: When you're working 10 hours straight, and your social life is even more nonexistent than the one of your glorious wear-your-pajamas-eat-chocolate-and-read days, a rom-com can be surprisingly uplifting.
Because honestly, you can relate to Brooke. Was she a little overwhelming at times? Sure. Did she drown in insecurities and fear? Absolutely? Did she act like a responsible adult? Hell no. But she put a smile on your face nonetheless. With her sarcasm, bitchy attitude and precious comments, her junk food addiction and Harry Potter marathons, she made you giggle and forget that the last time you stayed out late with friends was on February 14, 2015, and you nearly slept on the couch when everyone around you kept dancing.
LIFE TIP #3: The fall-for-your-best-friend-trope is the sweetest.
I haven't explored it that much, but I thoroughly enjoyed Brooke and Cain's relationship. It was heart-warming, sweet and utterly hilarious! They knew each other so well, their best and worst traits, and their connection ran deep and true. Add some smoking tension, an awkward morning with raging hard-ons and some kisses to melt you into a puddle of goo and voila! your smile gets even brighter and your cheeks start hurting!
LIFE TIP #4: An overdose of llama-drama is never appreciated.
Thankfully, Emma Hart shares the same opinion, so *drum-roll* there weren't unnecessary break-ups and angst and misunderstandings towards the end! You're a rock star, Emma!
LIFE TIP #5: We can all be Brookes.
Alright, not all of us have best friends with delicious six-packs and lust-inducing dimples and piercing eyes and a smile to kill for (in fact, does any of you have such friends? Can I meet them?), but in the end she conquered her fears, made her dreams come true and got the sexy guy. The only thing she needed was to be brave and try. So, I'm going to put on my fluffly pajamas and try to pull Cain out of this book. Seems like a solid plan.
P.S. In case it's not obvious, I totally watched The Princess and The Frog last night....more
“An already-broken girl who let a boy break her a bit more, just for the hell of it.”
When you start reading The Someday Girl, you think it is simply about a damaged girl divided between two men; a blond Viking she broke, and a charming man-child who broke her. But since it is Julie Johnson we're talking about, a woman whose lyrical and soulful stories leave a mark upon you, you soon realize the story is not about Wyatt or Grayson. It's about Kat Firestone, a walking disaster, the queen of bad decisions, chaos and destruction. At least that's what she thinks. Between the promotion of her upcoming movie that skyrockets her career, fancy parties and interviews and ruthless paparazzis, Kat is collecting her pieces and faces a future that terrifies her, and comes to the conclusion that life is messy, and cruel and ugly, and the only person responsible for changing it is herself.
“You can't wait for a man to come around and put you back together. You have to put yourself back together first, and become the kind of woman who deserves a good man.”
I hate Julie Johnson.
She has a gift for words and characters and pain. She can peel off the layers of your soul, discover the ugliness, the darkness, the guilt and the self-loathing, and make a piece of art out of them. She has the ability to expose this darkness, make you shiver and drown in shame just because you see yourself in Kat Firestone, in her parade of mistakes and crappy choices. Her writing is raw, personal, and too real for your own good. Instead of forgetting your demons, thanks to her you confront them.
“My broken soul mirrors his. A kindred mess in the making.”
I think we are programmed by birth with the tendency to fall for the bad boy. Because despite the multiple times he's going to break us, we delude ourselves with dreams of turning someday into today. We fancy ourselves as saviors, as the salve to his wounds, without realizing that we don't deserve the heartbreak and the humiliation for someone who is not willing to make an effort. But this boy is useful, after all. At least he was for Kat, who had the sense and the strength to learn from this experience. When you have reached bottom, sometimes you are able to find yourself. And that was Kat's destination after all. Self-descovery, self-esteem, self-respect and a genuine belief that light is a choice, not a predetermined course or a privilege reserved only for the good ones. And I failed to see that while reading The Someday Girl, and I was angry and sad at the turn of the events, furious that the character I secretly loved and the idea of him deflated like a balloon but when I finished it, when I let everything sink in, I understood what Julie's purpose was. To love yourself. Accept yourself. And choose sunshine.
“Is it possible you discover yourself in words penned by a stranger? Can you find your soulmate in the pages of a book?”
I love Julie Johnson.
She has a gift for words and characters and beauty. While The Monday Girl was about damage and destruction, The Someday Girl was about healing. It was an inspirational, heart-breaking and heart-mending experience laden with tears (many, many tears), laughter, bitter and sweet surprises and in the end, you can't help but feel empowered, ready to conquer the world. We don't deserve only a Monday. We don't deserve an untangible, fleeting Someday. We deserve Forever.
Thank you, Julie, for this lesson.
“I am a girl of ashes and embers. And now...I will rise.”
*ARC generously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review*...more
A few days ago, I signed up for a free Sacked e-book from Jen Frederick because well, free e-book. And indeed I got itI think I got an accidental ARC.
A few days ago, I signed up for a free Sacked e-book from Jen Frederick because well, free e-book. And indeed I got it, along with with a Downed ARC. It seems that the Book Gods do favor their faithful servants.
I'm not exactly a sports adept. In fact, back in high school I was the girl everyone avoided in P.E. class and with good reason; they wanted to protect their heads and other vital organs from my rogue throws. Even my teachers were scared of me. Hell, I was scared of me. The only time I get really obsessed with sports is when the Greece National basketball team plays. I still recall the glorious semi-final of the 2006 Fiba World Championship, when to everyone's astonishment we beat the United States team 101-95. Setting aside my mediocre knowledge on basketball, I suck at sports. And since Downed was focused on football, you can understand where this long introduction is going. I didn't understand much.
But, this doesn't change the fact that I had a wonderful time reading Downed. Jen Frederick could claim that pink unicorns participated in the game and I wouldn't know whether she was joking or not, but Ace and Bryant's story was everything I needed; a sweet, sexy and funny romance of the heart/panties-melting variety that kept me great company!
“Ace is an asshole... But he's my asshole.”
Bad boy meets good girl and together they create fireworks. That's Downed's concept, and Jen Frederick executed it perfectly! Ace is the jerk everyone hates, his team avoids him and treats him like he has the plague because of his bad reputation. Until his coach's daughter, a proper southern lady that can't say “no” to anyone, decides he's her next project and that she'll make a decent human being out of him. Yes, I said project. You see, after a tragedy that marked her, Bryant took it upon her to make happy the entire world, even if that meant putting aside her own desires. But what happens if Ace isn't the one who needs saving after all?
“If I date you, I have one rule, too.” “What is it?” “You don't hold back on me.”
Reading on the bus can be difficult for various reasons. You can't cry, laugh or swoon because you have to maintain the image of the proper young lawyer you are. An image that crumbles anyway when the sweet grandpa next to you takes a peak to your e-reader and notices the hot'n'dirty cover.
And the content matches this delicious sight. Ace and Bryant were two characters with sizzling chemistry that did funny things to your insides, and their scenes were tastier than sin. But there was also affection and gentleness. Both of them fought their demons and their fears and conquered them, and in this journey they were together. Ace, besides the cocky, filthy-mouthed and bitter bastard that he was, was also vulnerable and insecure, and wanted someone to believe in him. And Bryant did. While I liked her a lot, her compassion and her sweetness, there were some things that didn't sit right with me. She could be such a doormat, always pleasing others, and I could not comprehend her whole project thing. She thought of Ace as a broken toy that needed fixing, while it was clear that she had huge issues to deal with.
“Football is a game, but Bryant is my future. And I'll keel fighting for her as long as it takes.”
In the end, I am glad I got this accidental ARC, because Ace and Bryant's story cured my romance withdrawal. Who knows, maybe Downed can make a sports fan out of me!