Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Guilty Pleasures Blog

I was scrolling through my Facebook homepage the other day and came across a post from Goodreads about guilty pleasure reading, and at the end of the post they threw in a question asking their readers what guilty pleasure books they enjoy. I scrolled through some of the comments and read what other people's guilty pleasures are. I always enjoy seeing other's opinions on books and have taken some great recommendations from these types of posts. However, I very rarely participate in these types of comment threads. Books are very open to interpretation and opinion and no two people's views are the same. So, while I enjoy reading and reviewing I do not enjoy feeling as though I have to justify my opinion to others about my likes and dislikes of books. 

I'm not going to lie, a lot of my guilty pleasure's are also at the top of a lot of people's 'worst books' lists. And that's ok. I am well aware that a large majority of readers hate the Twilight books, but I don't. A lot of readers hate Fifty Shades of Grey, again I don't. And in the past when I have voiced my opinion to fellow avid readers about how I have enjoyed both of these series' enough to have reread them both multiple times (enough that I can almost quote them verbatim) I am met with disdain and ridicule. As though my opinion should coincide with popular opinion and I should automatically see the "horrible writing" and "unhealthy relationships" that these books contain. 

I remember quite a few instances where people have gotten offended at the fact that I enjoy reading Fifty Shades of Grey, specifically. I have had to defend myself a few times as the conversations have gotten quite pointed as the other person accused me of being complacent to reading about physical abuse and rape, none of which I perceived as happening in these books. But it certainly begs the question, since when does reading about a certain subject matter, and enjoying the book as a whole make the reader a party to the misdeeds that the author writes about? I sometimes enjoy a good fantasy novel, does that make me a witch? I have been known to enjoy a good murder mystery, does that make me a murderer? Why does reading about a co-dependent BDSM relationship and genuinely enjoying the book make me a bad person? Why does it call my personality and moral compass into question? It's baffling to me. And it's led me to distance myself from admitting to enjoying these lesser regarded books as it never ends well.

I often tell people that Jackie Collins is one of my favorite guilty pleasure reads authors, and she is. Her books always include over the top sex scenes, mystery, murder and debauchery; and she was never one to mince words. Her books are all fantastic. And oddly, people seem more apt to accepting this than some of my poorer rated and more mainstream selections. It feels like whenever opinions of mine jibe with the opinions of whomever I'm talking to, then they're accepted. Danielle Steele is a great example of this. I don't think I know a single female who hasn't read a Danielle Steele novel. She always creates a beautiful idyllic world where her female main characters experience heartache of some kind and then work their way back to happiness by overhauling their lives and in the end get the happy ending that the reader wants them to have. You can tell any female that Danielle Steele is your favorite guilty pleasure author and the response will almost always be "I love her books!", because who doesn't love a courageous story with a happy ending tacked on at the end? Especially when she adds a heavy dose of 'girl power' in them. 

Another guilty pleasure of mine, that I almost never reveal to anyone is Harlequin romance novels. I remember once an elderly neighbour of mine gave me a box of books that she wanted to get rid of and they were a solid 85% HR novels. This was my first exposure to the culture of Harlequin. And it really is it's own culture. At the second hand book store that I frequent Harlequin has it's own section away from the rest of the romance novels. I don't own many, actually come to think of it I may not own any at all, and I never buy them. But if one happens to be passed on to me, I definitely give it a quick read before passing it on to someone else. And I have yet to read a HR that I didn't like. If you've read my reviews I'm sure you're not surprised by this revelation, I'm clearly a sucker for romance. And based on my previous confessions of my enjoyment of Fifty Shades and Twilight the more passionate and unrealistic the love story is the more I love it. 

That's what a guilty pleasure read is all about. It plays to your likes, your wants, your fetishes. It satisfies something within you that you shouldn't have to be embarassed about, but you are; which is why it becomes a "guilty" pleasure. I accept the fact that my guilty pleasures, likes and dislikes may not correspond with everyone's, and I think that's great. I am always open to considering other people's opinions. But please, don't make people feel bad for liking something that you may or may not agree with. We are all different, and see things differently. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm feeling inclined to reread Twilight for the millionth time. 

Have a good day and thanks for reading!

Opinionated Bookworm

Saturday, October 14, 2017

This is Where it Ends Review

This is Where it Ends
By: Marieke Nijkamp

10:00 a.m. The principal of Opportunity High School finishes her speech, welcoming the entire student body to a new semester and encouraging them to excel and achieve.

10:02 a.m. The students get up to leave the auditorium for their next class.

10:03 a.m. The auditorium doors won't open.

10:05 a.m. Someone starts shooting.

Told from four different perspectives over the span of fifty-four harrowing minutes, terror reigns as one student’s calculated revenge turns into the ultimate game of survival.

For the first time in what feels like forever, although realistically is probably only a few months, I wandered into my local bookstore - Manticore Books- and perused the Young Adult section looking for something new to read that I'd never heard of before. I passed up the all Sarah J Maas' that I've been impatiently waiting to add to my collection in favour of This is Where it Ends. There was no price on this specific book so I had to ask the clerk how much it was (really, my boyfriend asked while I continued pulling book after book off the shelf to read the back covers) and I was more intrigued by the clerk's assessment of how disturbing it is that a book about a school shooting is readily available in the YA section of the store than the synopsis itself. I don't think my quick glance at the synopsis even really registered with me as to what I was reading until she pointed out the genre that I had been looking in. 

I didn't begin reading the book until late afternoon and I had it finished in about three hours. I didn't want to put it down. I am always a little put off by reading different POV's, especially as many as four, but in this book it became clear early on that four points of view were essential to get the full sense of what each of the characters is experiencing. It took me a couple of chapters to really grasp who each character was and memorize the names of the people in their stories, my memory is not my greatest attribute so it was perhaps a little more difficult for me than it may be for the average person, but once I got a feel for the characters and their lives I was able to grasp the situation from their standpoint much better. Given the small amount of time allotted to each character it was more difficult to form an affinity to any of them until midway to three quarters into the book, and even then while I certainly felt for what each of them was going through, I found myself caring more about the character based on how close to the actual shooting and shooter they were, both physically and emotionally. 

The only real disappointment I felt at all was the lack of story given to the shooter. Most of the other characters accounts all contained bad memories of the shooter making it seem as though he was just a bad person, with the exception of Claire whom he had dated. She had a few good memories but even those are tinged with the sense that there was something fundamentally wrong with the shooter, almost like it was predetermined at birth that he was going to do something dramatically wrong and hurt people. Adding a fifth POV from the shooters perception may have been beneficial in giving him a story, a reason to do what he did instead of it just being chalked up to a personality defect. 

I think one thing that people need to remember when they read this book is that it is a work of fiction. The author did not create this as a representation of every school shooting that has ever happened. It is something she made up. A story. This book no more portrays every school shooting than a romance novel portrays every romantic relationship in existence. The author did a great job in her descriptive of the thoughts and feelings that the students experienced and was sympathetic in her writing. It is a hard subject matter to write about, harder to write about it in a respectful way that isn't offensive to the audience, and the author did a great job with this book.  

Final Rating:
Probability of Rereading:

Thanks for reading!

Opinionated Bookworm

Warped Justice Review

Warped Justice
By: Kevin Schwartz

The law will protect you. Until it doesn't. 

When Peter Garrison's failed defense of a client leads to a retribution plot against him, he's forced to confront a nemesis intent on destroying him. Jason Felding seeks payback after his teenage brother winds up sodomized and mentally scarred during an unfair incarceration. He targets the restaurant owner who put his sibling behind bars and the lawyer who couldn't get a simple underage drinking case dropped. Obsessed with justice, Jason murders the snitch and, in an elaborate ruse, frames Peter as the killer. 

Peter finds himself the prime suspect in a murder that rocks the small town of Quincy, Vermont, a cruel irony since he left his firm frustrated that guilty clients sometimes escape punishment, while innocent ones are convicted. With the help of a crafty private investigator, Peter vows to solve the crime and save his reputation. But as Peter closes in on the truth, both he and his new girlfriend may be next on Jason’s hit list.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I have recently been on the receiving end of a number of free books that I have promised to review. I don't select them to read in any specific order, I just choose based on most visually appealing covers. That's right; I judge how badly I want to read a book based on it's cover. That being said, I left this particular book for so long, because the cover is unappealing that by the time I picked it up to read it I had completely forgotten what it was all about. So turning to that first page was a bit of a mystery and I was somewhat pleasantly surprised. 

The book starts off strong, with one of the characters being in a mental institution after being sexually assaulted in jail. You really feel for the character's plight and start rooting for him. Then the focus shifts to his older brother, Jason, who's character is hard to determine at first, but very quickly, and seemingly out of the blue becomes a murderer, trying to avenge the injustice done to his brother. The character progression of these two in particular is erratic and unrealistic. Both brothers seem to, very early on in the book, loose their grip with reality and have no problem murdering and hurting innocent people that they deem as annoyances. There was no real build up to Jason or Matthew becoming killers (or attempted killer's in Matthew's case), all at once they just were. And neither of them seemed to experience any hardship over it either. In Jason's case he lost his girlfriend, left his family and conceded to living his life on the run as though it was all just expendable. 

Peter's character progression was a different story. It was almost inspirational to see him try to prove his innocence after becoming the fall-guy for the initial murder done by Jason. He became relatable as he struggled to accept the hand dealt to him and refused to accept that he would go down as a murderer when he was completely innocent. I had a hard time liking his character as I felt as though the author made him too egotistical, but really empathized with him as he worked with a team of people to try to prove his innocence, all while his personal life all but fell apart. I liked that his view of the justice system changed and he no longer wanted to be a lawyer instead pursuing a career as a P.I. all while investigating his own case. 

The plot was very well thought out by the author and there were secondary avenues of thought that the author explored that made the crime itself seem as though it could very well have happened. The writing was a little convoluted as I felt that sometimes the actions or trains of thought displayed by the characters were contradictory to their personalities. And again, drastic personality changes seemed to happen too suddenly. I did enjoy that the thought processes of the characters written by the author were all very thorough and detailed, it gave the writing some extra feeling. One thing I did feel was missing for this type of read was any trace of suspense. The author had the opportunity to add it in spades with this type of novel and with how well written the dramatic scenes were, it just never happened which made the dramatic scenes fall a little flat on the reader. 

In short, the story line was good, the characters were ok and the overall feel of the book left somethig to be desired. But I will definitely give this author another shot as I can always appreciate the extra 

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Bayou Whispers from the Past Review

Bayou Whispers from the Past
(Bayou #2)
By: Lauren Faulkenberry

New love is put to the test in the sultry bayous of Louisiana in the latest from Family Circle Award Winning Author Lauren Faulkenberry. 

Thirty-one-year old Enza has finally found love with sexy fireman Jack, and through him, she has gained a family, years after her mother abandoned her. With her friend Kate in town, Enza's looking forward to her first Christmas in Bayou Sabine, surrounded by those she cares about most. But instead the holiday ends in turmoil. One guest puts someone Enza loves—and her relationship with Jack—in danger, and another guest brings news that makes Enza question the circumstances surrounding her mother's departure. 

Enza, fleeing Jack and the drama in Bayou Sabine, sets off with Kate on a road trip à la Thelma & Louise. But will she find answers about her mother's disappearance and the strength to accept the truth? And will she return home in time to save everything that's important to her?

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This is one of those books where, being second in a series, you didn't necessarily have to read the first one but it may have been more beneficial if you had. I had not, and a lot of the time during this book I felt as though there was a bigger picture that I was missing out on. Something that may or may not have been more clear had I read the first novel in the series. Regardless, it was still a good read and I understood everything that was going on, there was just  slight undertone that something was missing. 

This was a bit of a different type of read for me, as romance and love took a backseat to the goings on in the main character, Enza's, life. As such I wasn't as enthralled or engrossed as I normally find myself, which was nice, as I was able to pick the book up and put it down at any given time without feeling as though I absolutely HAD to finish it. The author's writing of the setting and the atmosphere gave the book a homey, cozy feel that my mind likened to the setting of a 90's Julia Roberts movie, which I love by the way.  That sort of small town, everybody knows everybody, comfortable, down home kinda feel that you just don't find in any form of entertainment anymore. It was great, and it was my favorite part of reading this book. Not to mention the level of detail that the author used was just enough to give my mind's eye something to create from without dragging out the descriptions until I lost interest, which has definitely happened in quite a few books lately.  

I found Enza's character a little boring and her proclivity for overreacting to situations was hard to read. I understand that by making her that way it created new avenues for the author to send the character in her story, however it made her character hard to relate to; not that I myself don't sometimes overreact (just ask my other half), but not to the degree that Enza did. I also didn't feel any real chemistry between Enza and her boyfriend Jack, although I did like his character, maybe their chemistry was something I missed out on by not reading the first novel? Although the author makes it clear that the two love each other it's not until the end of the novel that you really get the sense that the relationship isn't as disposable as it first seems. 

The dilemma of Jack's cousins boyfriend kept me interested in the book, as he most certainly livened up every situation he was present for with some sort of drama, but the secondary issue of Enza's quest for her mom felt unrealistic to me. And again. in keeping with Enza's over-dramatic personality she took her obsession with her mom to some pretty ridiculous lengths. Even when she found out what happened to her mom she still wasn't able to accept it and move on, but really had no justifiable reason to drag it out. 

I suppose in hindsight, I enjoyed the setting, atmosphere and the writing of this book more than I enjoyed the book itself. The author did a brilliant job of creating the perfect backdrop for her characters, I just felt as though the characters and their drama's weren't worthy of the space they occupied.

Final Rating:
Probability of Rereading:

Thanks for reading!

Opinionated Bookworm

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

I Have Never Review

I Have Never (First Comes Love #2)
By: Camilla Isley

Twenty-nine-year-old Blair Walker is a girl with a plan, or more a girl with a list. A list of dos and don'ts to live the perfect life, land a dream career, and marry Mr. Right. 

When Blair loses her job and gets dumped by her boyfriend all in one day, she starts to wonder if she's had it all wrong. And what better way to find out than experience everything the list forbade?

Never Lie
Never Pick a Fight
Never Make a Scene
Never Make the First Move
Never Make Impulse Decisions
Never Mix Business and Pleasure...

With hilarious consequences, Blair will discover some items are trickier to tick off than she'd thought... 

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This was my first read after taking an unplanned month off from reading and reviewing. It was impromptu because I had actually been reading a book that I considered so terrible that I avoided reading so that I wouldn't feel obligated to try to continue it. I had to accept defeat in that I just couldn't finish it and move on. Luckily for me I randomly chose this book to read and it turned out to be the perfect book for me to come back to. I was a little apprehensive when I realized that it was the second book in a series that I have not read the first book of, but that turned out to be of no consequence as this could very easily be a stand alone book.

I was immediately both interested and amused by the seemingly constant run of bad luck that the main character, Blair, experienced. I almost enjoyed watching her get knocked down a few pegs because of her superior attitude and overconfidence. It was refreshing to see her have the rug pulled out from under her and see her form an immediate plan of action and then act on it. And through her misadventures she became a very like-able character and a strong female lead. 

This would be an inspirational read for anyone who is experiencing change in their life. Blair's determination to remake herself into someone completely different from the person she was was exciting because she was always trying something new, going against the grain of her old life and embracing new experiences and situations with gusto. It gives the reader hope that even when we feel as though we are at rock bottom things can and will get better with a bit of determination and effort. 

The author did a great job in creating the characters and I found myself crushing on Richard and Christian a little bit as I read about them. Honestly, who wouldn't? The author created them to be irresistible! I, being the hopeless romantic that I am, rooted for a relationship between Richard and Blair from the moment the author introduced him and was transfixed on them throughout the whole book. While the obstacle's that the characters dealt with, while both trying to avoid a romantic entanglement with each other, were a little predictable I found their honesty in dealing with the problem and with each other invigorating; and something that a lot of author's don't write in their stories, in the hopes of drawing out the dramatics for the readers. 

The book itself had really great flow and not a single thing felt forced or out of place or character. I appreciated the humor the author threw in because it gave the book a lighter feel and gave the characters more personality. There was not a single moment that I was bored and sped read through to get to the juicier bits. To me, it was all juicy and it got my reading juices flowing and I cannot wait to begin my next book. 

Final Rating:
Probability of Rereading:

Thanks for reading!
Opinionated Bookworm

Friday, September 1, 2017

Letters for Scarlet Review

Letters for Scarlet
By: Julie C. Gardner

Pain can take a lifetime to heal, but hope lasts even longer…

Corie Harper is twenty-eight years old when she is first visited by a ghost—in the form of a graduation letter she forgot she wrote. Although she spent a decade burying that desperate girl and her regrets, each page resurrects the past, dragging Corie back to a time when all she craved was Scarlet Hinden’s friendship and Tuck Slater’s heart. But she couldn’t keep them both and keep her word.

Scarlet is haunted in her own way, by memories of Corie and of a night that left her wishing she were dead. But Scarlet is not only alive, she’s carrying new life: a baby she never wanted and is terrified to have. Convinced she would be a disastrous mother, she questions whether or not she deserves the love of any man. Especially the father of her child.

"Letters for Scarlet" traces one friendship from deep roots to branches torn by broken promises and loss.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I will admit that before reading this book I did not read the synopsis and had no idea what it was about. Usually the synopsis colours my opinion and I begin the book with preconceived ideas of how I think it's going to go, or how it should be. Maybe reading the synopsis in this case would have helped me with this book, as it was completely unexpected and lackluster, in my opinion.

The story is told from two points of view, which I did enjoy as it gives an intimate view of more than one character and makes it easier for the reader to bond with both characters. Unfortunately this was not the case for me. While I found myself sympathizing with Corrie and really enjoying her points of view, I did not like Scarlet at all. Her character felt cold and juvenile and while I was able to sympathize with her life events I found myself unable to care about her well-being. The idea that she carried her pain from a childhood incident for 10 years, blaming her childhood friends for the events that happened the whole time, was childish and unrealistic. I thought that maybe motherhood would help her grow up a bit but that doesn't seem to be the case either. 

I often found myself speed reading through Scarlet's story to get to Corrie's. Corrie's character was pitiful which made her more likable than Scarlet. Her marital problems and fertility issues were so sad, that I absolutely felt for her plight. She seemed like a genuinely good person who wanted nothing more than to be happily married to her high school sweetheart, have babies and repair her friendship with Scarlet. I felt myself wanting all of that for her too. So the end of the book felt like a bit of a disappointment to me, although, based on what we know of Scarlet's character it wasn't a surprising outcome. 

I found a lot of the book to be dull and had a hard time reading through those parts to get to any interesting bits. The thing that kept me going the most was probably the writing style. I may not have enjoyed the story very much but I thought the author did a fantastic job at making me feel Corrie's emotions and giving a good visual description of the settings in the book. 

Final Rating:
Probability of Rereading:

Thanks for reading!

Opinionated Bookworm

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Awash with Summer Roses Review

Awash with Summer Roses
By: Kestra Pingree

My name is Ri. I’m the kind of delinquent girl you hear horror stories about.

I had so many rule breaking plans this summer, but none of them involved my grandparents. Their livelihood is their dumb rose garden, and they live out in the middle of nowhere in a town called Fairgarden. My parents thought it would be the perfect place to reform my bad attitude. So they shipped me off.

But then I met Avery.

Avery works for my grandparents. He’s got more secrets than anyone I’ve ever known. I think he might be a bigger troublemaker than I am, though you couldn’t tell by the way he pretends to be this perfect angel.
Did I mention he’s blind and scary perceptive?
And he actually listens to me.
He’s weird, a mystery I have to solve.
I have to know his secrets.
Can two broken hearts make a whole?

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


I will begin by telling you that before beginning this book I already had high expectations and fully anticipated enjoying the book because Young Adult is my genre of choice. That being said I have read a lot of YA novels. But somehow this was the first one I've ever read about a rebellious girl turned good by a good boy. It was refreshing. I was so involved in the main character, Moriah's, story that I read the whole book in one day. Which, I guess probably won't shock any of you who may actually know me. 

I have to admit that I began with a decided dislike of Moriah and her treatment of the people around her. She is ultimately rebelling against her neglectful parents and gets shipped to her grandparents house. Which is about the time that I began understanding her and disliking her parents (a dislike that I felt all the way through the book). The reader gets to watch Moriah's emotional evolution as she begins to make friends with other kids in town, and takes a particular liking to Avery. She starts treating her grandparents better and starts to create a life for herself in the small hick town that her parents shipped her off to. 

Avery is a bit of a puzzle himself. He runs hot and cold, one minute flirting with Moriah and the next ignoring her. He won't talk about how he lost his vision or about why he keeps sneaking off to the forest that no one is allowed to go into. In fact, he doesn't really talk about himself much at all. But for some reason, I liked him anyway. He comes across as being sweet, caring and dependable. He has a beautiful relationship with his mom and everyone in town seems to have very high opinions of him. In short, he's the polar opposite of Moriah. Which makes their attraction all the more interesting.

I was surprised by the added bit of magic and fantasy to the book. The 'forbidden' forest was a nice addition to the story and added intrigue. I also enjoyed the story behind it, the folklore that the town passed down about the forest and that all the townspeople took it seriously and avoided it at all costs. 

There were only two parts that I didn't like about the book and one was how easy Moriah's parents got off after being terrible parents. Moriah almost instantly forgave them for spending no time with her for the majority of her childhood and for sending her away. She talks about how she grew up literally alone, about how she has never had to sneak out at midnight to hang out with her friends because no one but her is ever home. How does a child grow up on their own, without anyone caring for them, and just move on from it after an apology from her parents? How do they just push past the bitterness that has fueled them and decide to get over it that easily? And her grandparents also seemed eager to forgive and forget the way they too had been pushed aside and forgotten about by their daughter and her husband, and how they treated their granddaughter before dumping her on their doorstep. It's the only aspect of the novel that felt forced to me. The only other downfall, in my opinion, was the ending. I need a good solid happy ending when I read a romance novel. And while Moriah and Avery may have ended up in a relationship I fail to see how that relationship will last with them living two hours apart. 

Overall I enjoyed the book as much as I had thought I would. I like the spin of the bad girl and good boy. I'm always impressed by authors that can write about the lives of teenagers in a way that even older audiences feel they can relate to the characters. I'm even more impressed when they write in such a way that I take on the emotions of the main character as I read the book, which definitely happened in this case. I found myself crying when Moriah cried, confused when she was confused and annoyed when she was annoyed. It's no small feat for an author to make a 30 year old woman relate to a 16 year old girl, and Kestra absolutely did that with this book.

Final Rating:
Probability of Rereading:

Thanks for reading!

Opinionated Bookworm

Guilty Pleasures Blog

I was scrolling through my Facebook homepage the other day and came across a post from Goodreads about guilty pleasure reading, and at the e...