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.

SPOILERS!!

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:
Yes

Thanks for reading!

Opinionated Bookworm

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The Corner Office Review

The Corner Office 
By: Katerina Baker

Tara Johnson's sacrifices are about to pay off: a senior executive at thirty-five at a Fortune 500 company, she's one of the two finalists in line for a Managing Director position. Unfortunately, her rival of fifteen years, the charming, infuriating Richard Boyd, is just as qualified, and unlike her, he's willing to cross pretty much every line to get what he wants. 

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

This was a quick, light read that I devoured in a couple of hours yesterday afternoon. Which, is also a testament to how into the book I was that I didn't want to put it down to do anything else. 

I liked the angle that the author started the book with, with the two main characters disliking each other. And I really did feel that it was mutual with the traded insults and the male chauvinistic attitude. The way that the book was written makes the reader automatically partial to the main character, Tara, without even really thinking about it. Which, in turn, allows her cynical and suspicious disposition to be adopted by the reader, making the reader apprehensive of  every interaction she had with Richard and Aidan. With good reason, as we find out eventually.

Adding in Tara's mother's ill health, her lack of social life and her failure of a love life, including a surprising lack of apprehension of Aidan when his attitude and treatment of her becomes peculiar, makes her character vulnerable only to the reader. She is very guarded and mistrusting, as she feels she has to be as a woman in a power role in her company, and it just serves to make her more endearing. I found myself wanting her to want a relationship with Aidan, in the beginning, wanting her to open up to him and trust him. It didn't last long though, because he very quickly shifted his personality and became frightening, but for whatever reason Tara didn't see it that way. I immediately picked up on his underlying abusive personality, but Tara kept playing into his hand until the very last minute when things took a seriously scary turn. I felt Tara's unguarded behavior towards Aidan, even after he became forceful and insulting, was out of character for her. A woman in her position should have seen him following her, calling her at inappropriate times and crossing the line at their workplace as serious warning signs and then stayed away from him. Which was not at all what she did.

I ended up liking Richard's character pretty early on in the book, and not understanding Tara's dislike of him. I felt that their relationship in the book was nice and slow, not at all rushed and unbelievable like the one she had with Aidan. I even started to like the dynamic between Tara and Richard, as it became pretty clear that there was some repressed feelings there, especially on Richard's part. Overall their story line had good flow and I found myself rooting for them to be end game. It wasn't a knock you off your feet, instant love connection which made it feel more realistic and relate-able. I thought the author did a great job with this book, and I look forward to reading more from her.

Final Rating:
✬✬✬✬✫
Probability of Rereading:
Yes

Thanks for reading!

Opinionated Bookworm


Monday, August 28, 2017

Book Hangover Blog

Have you ever read a book, or series of books, that captivates you so much that you literally fall into it? You have to be forced to stop reading, and when you're not reading it you still find yourself thinking about it. Thinking about the setting, envisioning yourself there, living in that fictional world. You think about the characters in it; wondering if you have any common characteristics. 

I took an unexpected break from reviewing last week. I grabbed my copy of Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy by Cassandra Clare, one of my favorites to reread, and settled in to recharge myself after weeks of reading new books. I wanted something comfortable and familiar to sink into. And I love the Shadowhunter series that Cassandra created. I love the magic, the strength, the world, the characters, but most of all I love the love. She created a race of super humans who are better in all aspects than regular mortals because of the angel blood that runs through all of their veins. This race is physically stronger, faster, smarter and therefore it stands to reason that their emotions also run deeper than the average human. The love stories that Cassandra creates in every new Shadowhunter series is what gets me every time. I actually started reading the books originally because of the Shadowhunter series on TV. It was the end of season 1 and the main characters discovered that they can never explore their relationship no matter how intense their feelings are because they are siblings. I could not wait until season two started to find out what happens with them, so I went out and bought all 6 of The Mortal Instruments books. From there I went on to buy The Infernal Devices series, Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy and now The Dark Artifices series. 

I still cannot get enough. I spent the last 10 days reading all the Shadowhunter books (except for The Bane Chronicles, because I didn't enjoy it enough to buy it), which is 12 large books because I could not stop after reading just one. I read them constantly, stopping only to work, sleep, eat and spend time with my children. Now that I have finished them I find myself at loose ends. At night for the last week I had been reading, and now I find myself unable to focus on anything else. Usually my other half and I curl up on the couch and watch either serial killer documentaries or ghost story documentaries and I haven't wanted to the past couple of nights because I'm still in the head space of the Shadowhunter novels. I call it my book hangover, and honestly it doesn't happen to me very often. But occasionally I find that amazing, encompassing book that I unwittingly dive into headfirst and then have a hard time extracting myself, even if it's ended. I just want it to go on. I find the Harry Potter books are the same way; the books have ended but I just wanna keep living the Harry Potter life. 

It's times like these that I reflect on the authors that write these amazing stories. These authors have these places, these characters living inside their heads just waiting to be let out into the world via a book or a series of books. And somehow the authors let them out in such a way that they captivate the readers, they make them come alive, they become more than just characters in books to us. Just as I imagine they are to the author as well. I have sometimes wished that I could take a tour of the library that lives inside J.K. Rowling's head. I imagine it to be extraordinarily neat and organized with tombs about the childhoods of each character and a special edition just for the amazing life and accomplishments of Dumbledore. I picture a small, cozy room with a fire place, and all of the walls covered top to bottom in bookshelves with not a single blank space, because if she imagined up the world of Harry Potter and all that it encompasses, can you just imagine what else would be in her brain?

I don't know how to cure a book hangover. I don't know if it goes away on it's own or if I can help it along by continuing down the list of books that I still have to read and review. I don't even know if it's a real thing, or something I've just made up. So, unfortunately for those of you who know exactly what I'm talking about this is really just one long ramble as opposed to me offering you any sort of sound advice as to how to overcome it (sorry I didn't say that until the end of this blog). However, if any of you have advice to give on the subject, feel free to leave a comment. I would love to hear your opinions.

Opinionated Bookworm

Goodbye, Good Girl Review

Goodbye, Good Girl
By: Renee Blossom

When eighteen year old Kandace Santellan is ditched in St. Louis by her boyfriend on a cross country trip to reach her estranged father, she finds herself trapped––she can’t go home and she doesn’t have enough money to reach Los Angeles. She then meets April, an ambitious exotic dancer with attitude, who has a one thousand dollar wager––that Kandace can make the money she desperately needs dancing at the gentleman’s club The Palace in just one night. Rumored as an adult playground of fast money and faster pills, it’s a place where fantasy is king and problems are forgotten. Anything can happen.
But can Kandace strip her clothes for money, even if it is her only way to repair her broken family?
Feeling like time is running out, and out of options, she gets curious…thinking that after one wild night dancing, she would be on her way to LA. And her friends and family would never need to know. Could she make it work? Or will the club’s fantasy lifestyle take the good girl from Pittsburgh, and make her into someone she’s never met?


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


SPOILERS!!!!!!!


This was a sort of coming of age story, where the main character is on a journey to find her dad but ends up finding out things about herself as she goes. The story was intriguing and full of adventure. I was completely absorbed by Kandace and her story and could not put this book down. 


Kandace is 18 years old and the oldest of her parents three daughters. Since her dad left two years ago, on some job related trip that never ends, her mother has become weak and prescription drug dependent leaving Kandace in charge of running her household and raising her sisters all while trying to go to college and get a job, herself. It's a lot of responsibility on one girl and you really start to feel sympathy for her plight, which makes her subsequent decisions a little puzzling. An intimidating stranger shows up at their front door looking for Kandace's dad which begins her cross country journey to find her dad and bring him home. During her trip she meets April and decides to spend a night exotic dancing, because of the money she can make from it. Exotic dancing leads her to using drugs and on stage lesbian experiences, which even though she started off being a "good girl" doesn't seem off character as the story is about her personal growth and personality changes. Throughout the book she keeps her strength and strong familial sense, often calling her family and friends to assure them that she's ok. 


The one part of the book I did not like was when she finally tracks down her dad. She finds him living in California and he gives her some weak excuses about why he never comes home and makes it clear that he has no plans to ever return home. Kandace accepts those weak excuses and spends time with him as if the trip to find him had been a social one and not the life saving mission that she had made it out to be. It was so anticlimactic that if the journey had not been so adventurous and fun, I would have thought of it as a waste. He is the literal description of dead beat dad; taking off on his family, not sending them enough money to survive on, not have any reliable way of communicating with them regularly. And for the most part he seems totally unconcerned by it all. Another puzzling aspect was the decision that Kandace made to stay in St. Louis (her original stip club city) to go to college because of her decision to continue dancing because of the amount of money she makes doing it. How she can leave her struggling mother and younger sisters for money blows my mind, and she herself makes the comparison of herself to her dad by making that choice to leave her family. On the flip side, it was nice that she felt able to make a completely self serving decision for once. While I don't believe her mom is strong enough to raise her children without Kandace's help, it's definitely about time that Kandace got to take back her own life and live it how she chooses to. 


The novel had a good flow from one event to the next and the author did a great job at building like-able characters that make the readers care about their fate. As with all novels, there were parts that were a bit slow, and I said previously, I was not at all impressed by her interactions with her father, but overall I enjoyed the book. I am looking forward to rereading it to see if there are any hidden moments that I didn't catch the first time through.


Final Rating:
✬✬✬✬✫
Probability of Rereading:
Yes

Thanks for reading!

Opinionated Bookworm

Friday, August 18, 2017

The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck Review

The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck
By: Bethany Turner

Steamy romance writer Sarah Hollenbeck's career is at its peak, but reconciling her writing with her newfound faith proves more difficult than she imagined--and falling for her pastor doesn't make things any easier.


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

This was my first foray into the Christian Romance genre, and I found myself somewhat pleasantly surprised by it. I have always been hesitant to pick up any type of religious book with a sense of trepidation that the story would be lost in the religious aspects of the writing. The author did a great job at putting the story first and giving religion a back seat. 

The main character, Sarah, goes on a journey of self discovery after her sudden divorce in an attempt to find out who she is now that she's no longer 'Sarah McDermott'. During her marriage she identified herself based on the man she was with, it made her seem pathetic. As does the journey she takes to find herself again. I applaud the author's attempt to give Sarah a meaningful journey, making her into a famous and popular steamy romance novelist, but she took a sharp turn at Sarah's out of the blue "salvation" and it just didn't feel authentic. Especially as she became ashamed of the novel she had written because of it's sexual content. The one thing that she had done on her own, that helped her become her own person had suddenly (literally, in the span of a minute's decision) became an embarrassment to her and she wished it didn't exist. 

I enjoyed Sarah's relationship with pastor Ben. His character was cute and charming and his story was tragic. I liked the bit of drama the author threw in, and also that it wasn't blown out of proportion and was, for the most part, easily dealt with once all parties were on the same page. I did feel as though Sarah's character was falling back into her past desire to identify herself by her husband. She cared a great deal and thought a great deal about what their fellow churchgoers would think of her and her actions as a pastors wife, and whether or not they would accept her as such. The idea that a group of her peers would judge her based on a fictitious novel that she wrote is exactly the intolerant attitude that I have always thought gave religion a negative connotation.  

The book was a light, quick read that was a nice interlude from the darker novel's I have been reading as of late. It was exactly what I needed to distract me from the negative. Based on my impressions of this book I will definitely be more open to trying more books from this genre with an open mind. Apparently, no matter the type, I will always be a sucker for a romance. 

Final Rating:
✬✬✬✫✫
Probability of Rereading:
Yes

Thanks for reading,

Opinionated Bookworm

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Mask of Sanity Review

The Mask of Sanity
By: Jacob M. Appel

On the outside, Dr. Jeremy Balint is a pillar of the community--the youngest division chief at his hospital, a model son to his elderly parents, fiercely devoted to his wife and two young daughters. On the inside, Dr. Jeremy Balint is a high-functioning sociopath, a man who truly believes himself to stand above the ethical norms of society. As long as life treats him well, Balint has no cause to harm others. When life treats him poorly, he reveals the depths of his cold-blooded depravity. In contrast to fictional predecessors like Dostoyevesky's Raskolnikov and Camus's Mersault, Dr. Balint is a man who already has it all--and will do everything in his power, no matter how immoral, to keep what he has.


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

I don't even know where to start with this book. I just finished reading it a minute ago, and I usually give myself some time to collect my thoughts before I write my review, but honestly, this book disturbed me so much that I don't want more time to think about it. Thinking about it gives me the creeps. It's not an overtly scary read, but the main character Dr. Balint is so disturbing that I literally got chills from this book. Which is also why it took me so long (3 days) to read it. I took many breaks during this one to absorb my family, life and surroundings before delving back into Balint's sociopathic mind. I've read a lot of books, and watched a lot of serial killer documentaries, but none of them have ever affected me quite the way this novel did. The writing of this book was absolutely amazing. The story had such a realistic quality to it, and the mind of the serial killer was characterized so well that I had to remind myself a few times that this book was fiction.

Dr. Balint's character was truly frightening. On the outside he was perfect; a doctor, a husband, a father. He outwardly displayed emotions of sympathy and empathy that he didn't actually feel. He did it completely nonchalantly, as though he had been playing the role of 'caring human being' his whole life, for the sake of those around him. At the same time he did feel true emotions when it came to those he loved. He was capable of genuinely loving his children and his parents. He wanted to protect his children and saw his actions of murder as a way of ensuring their safe and happy futures. He was genuinely concerned for the welfare of his parents and showed them affection. However, when he came face to face with the loved ones of those he had killed and looked their grief in the face he felt nothing. He took people away from their families, and had absolutely zero remorse for the people they had left behind; and in some cases even talked himself into believing he had done his victims and their families a favour by ending their lives! Bizarrely enough, I found myself actually caring about Balint and hoping that his spree would end and he would just slip quietly back into his life as though nothing had happened. I wanted him to go on with no repercussions, while at the same time completely despising his actions. The author had somehow found a way to write Balint's character in a way as to make the readers care for him. Seriously, I cannot say enough about the writing of this book.

The overall flow of the book was pretty good, it felt like there was always something happening. The serial killer plot line went hand in hand with the marital issues Balint was experiencing but at the same time they were kept separate. Funnily enough by the end of the book I actually disliked Balint's wife far more than Balint himself. The author did a great job at detailing the married life that Balint and his wife shared and what sort of  social experiences they had together. The pages in which Balint was planning his next murder and victim did get a little dry at the end, but only because his thought processes were all the same, understandably the gist of it was 'kill this person and don't get caught'. And because he was so meticulous in the planning, the descriptions of it tended to be a bit drawn out.

This book brings to light the seriousness of mental health issues and offers a very clear picture of what the mind of a sociopath looks like. It is absolutely terrifying how well Balint can hide his true personality whilst maintaining a full and meaningful life both with his family and professionally, and no one's the wiser for it. This is definitely a book that, though I may never read again, I am not likely to forget any detail of it anytime soon.

Final Rating:
✬✬✬✬✬
Probability of Rereading:
No

Thanks for reading!

Opinionated Bookworm

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The Tenants of 7C

The Tenants of 7C
By: Alice Degan

On a back alley in Toronto's Kensington Market, above the Heaven & Earth Bakery, there's an apartment with a room for rent. The rent is negotiable. The location varies. Humans need not apply. For Nick, who calls 7C home, real life can be a lot weirder than his friends' role-playing games. Between regular stints at his job delivering bread and cinnamon buns to the otherworldly population of the city, these days he finds himself dodging attacks from vampire-hunting tourists, possessed pigeons, and his boss's unborn child. Welcome to a world of obnoxious fairies and bored vampires, satyrs who love '80s music and demons who play video games. Welcome to 7C. Good luck finding the bathroom.


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

I was pleasantly surprised by this book. The synopsis did absolutely not do this book any justice. Everything from the plot lines to the characters to the setting were all such original ideas that I couldn't help but be surprised and enthralled at every turn. From the moment that the apartment (7C) was described I was completely hooked. I wanted to be there, exploring it. I wanted to talk to the characters and ask them questions, get to know them. All except for Claire, who is the most unlikeable character in the book.

Every time a new class of being was introduced I was excited to see as to what capacity the author was use them and how they would differ from my current (and admittedly poor) knowledge of mythical creatures. Each of the main characters brought something new and different to the story, while at the same time being human in their feelings and actions. The tenants of 7C were all something independent from each other but all intertwined in their relationships and caring for one another.

The book was short, and was surprisingly full of conflict for a book of it's size. It didn't dwell on any one thing in particular or drag anything circumstances out, so there were no dull parts in the book. It was a nice smooth, descriptive and interesting read that I enjoyed far more than I expected to. I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series.

Final Rating:
✬✬✬✬✬
Probability of Rereading:
Yes

Thanks for reading!

Opinionated Bookworm

Spitfire Review

Spitfire
By: Suleiman Ocheni

Ivy thought being forced to marry a genocidal dictator as a teenager was the worst thing that could possibly ever happen to her… however, she was wrong.

Years later, with the whole country calling for her head, she faces life imprisonment or even execution after her husband is assassinated and all evidence left behind points to her.

Handsome, young and charismatic, detective Rylan Leven is the only person willing to come to her aid. Although he has been tasked with the job of bringing her to justice, his confidence in her virtue is the foundation of the love story that unfolds between them. Their journey to restore the freedom that was stolen from Ivy is one fraught with many challenges, but one they know they must embark on.

Will Ivy be punished for trying to get herself out of a toxic marriage or will she succeed despite facing innumerable obstacles?
  



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

The book started with a bang, as the readers are plunged straight into the aftermath of the King's murder. The first chapter was enticing and exciting. It gave a bit of back story about the type of person the King was and the perception of the type of person that Ivy was. Both seemed to be very interesting characters. It was, in my opinion, the best chapter in the whole book. It's from that point on that the story and plot line take a back seat to the romance in the story.

From the second chapter the book wasn't able to hold my interest and I found my thoughts wandering whilst I was reading to what I would make for dinner or trying to remember if I had switched the laundry over. I think the most disappointing part of the book for me, was Ivy's character. The author did an excellent job of building her character up, exhibiting her stubbornness and her sense of humour but also making her empathetic to those around her. She seemed like she was about to become a heroine of the story; a strong female character who is proud and very self aware. Unfortunately, her personality was completely warped by the romance aspect of the novel and she became weak and dominated by her feelings for Rylan. Their romance went from non-existent to head over heels so quickly I was thrown off balance by it. Throughout their whirlwind romance Ivy completely lets her guard down (very quickly for someone so strong willed) and gets her heart broken by Ryland more than once. But after a quick apology on his part she gets over it and moves on. Again, she seemed to be such a strong character and then just bends to Ryland's will. It's mind boggling. 

Ryland's character was pretty typical. The only thing intriguing about him is his looks. He's a wealthy cop who pays an obscene amount of money to get Ivy out of jail for no other reason than he thought she was innocent and she's attractive. But he treats her very poorly and makes it clear that he has no trust in her. He goes back and forth on how he feels about her, and everything he does it so dramatic and over the top, it just makes his character unlikable and disengaged. 

Although the plot line was pushed to the background I enjoyed the concept of it. I like the whodunit prospect of the king's murderer and wished the author had spent more time on the list of possible suspects and the murder investigation itself. I was exultant when I found out who the real murderer was. It was a fantastic twist that I had been hoping for. And it added a bit of excitement to the ending, as the romance between Ivy and Rylan had been doomed to be a happy ending from the beginning. 

Overall the book's focus on the relationship between Ivy and Rylan made the majority of it a dull read, but the conflict in between that kept things interesting and kept me reading until the end. 

Overall Rating:
✬✬✬✫✫
Probability of Rereading:
No

Thanks for reading and feel free to leave feedback!

Opinionated Bookworm

Friday, August 4, 2017

The Whole Man Review

The Whole Man
By: C.F. Rose

Evan O’Cleary was in college when she spent a passionate 48 hours with up-and-coming baseball star Jesse Walsh. But after he broke her heart, she vowed to never see him again. So why does her heart leap when she runs into him ten years later?

Jesse not only abandoned Evan, but also his dream of becoming a major league baseball player when his brother died in Iraq. Shattered by the loss, Jesse turns inward. He refuses to commit to more than a one-night stand, until he sets eyes on Evan again, whose body still draws him dangerously near…

Evan knows better than to trust Jesse, but when he protects her against an abusive ex-turned-stalker, one thing leads to another and she finds herself in a delicious encounter on his living room floor. Jesse may not be willing to commit just yet, but maybe Evan can break down the wall. As she gets close, though, Evan uncovers a devastating secret that could destroy their families and drive them apart forever.



I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

The Whole Man was what I would call the 'comfort food' of books. It's a predictable romance novel with a happy ending. There were no surprises. There were no cliff hangers. There were no life or death situations. The whole thing was a sedative read that didn't require any brain power or real concentration to understand what was happening or going to happen at all times. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing. I think everyone could use the comfort of a predictable romance novel every now and then. It's like a blanket that never loses it's warmth.

The main character, Evan, was pretty infuriating in that she couldn't make up her mind about her feelings about Jesse until the last minute. But also, she led him on throughout the whole novel which made me think very little of her character. Especially as she herself says that Jesse is a good guy who deserves better. Jesse is a macho jock who doesn't stick up for himself until after Evan drags his heart through the mud more than once, and even then in the end he goes right back to her as soon as she apologizes. Both characters were lead by their hormones far too much, and that aspect of the book was very far fetched. Who the hell can't stop themselves from groping someone long enough to consider their feelings, surroundings, or whatever conflict they're caught up in?

The one aspect of the book that really let me down was the abusive ex boyfriend. Not gunna lie, I was hoping for the big standoff; the fear of the victim, the show of assertiveness by the abuser, the act of heroism by the new love interest and I got none of that. Literally, nothing. The showdown between Evan and her abuser was so short lived that I almost missed it. It was so anticlimactic that I was actually upset afterwards. The author had created this terrifying situation of Evan being stalked and terrorized by this man and then when he confronts her he does it in a public parking lot and gets caught quickly and easily.

I did enjoy the overall impression of the book. It was nice to be able to read about the characters conflicts and know that no matter what, the characters would get their happy endings and all would end well for them. It was a comfortable read that created a good diversion from life for a short while. Sort of like a mini vacation. What more can one ask for in a romance novel?

Final Rating:
✬✬✬✫✫
Probability of Rereading:
No

Thanks for reading!

Opinionated Bookworm

Simone Review

Simone
By: Angel Berry

In the year 1930, the community of Potluck, Louisiana was one of divided lines - not of black and white, but of the haves and the have-nots. Of the residents of Potluck was one Simone Tout, a young woman of twenty years born an only child to a father who started the town school and a mother, Berta, who was proudly employed as a cook in the mayor's kitchen.

Georges Andrieux, the handsome, well-educated son of the mayor, is a man that Simone despises - a man who is more than aggressive in his determination to make Simone his wife. Berta of course is thrilled, but against her mother's wishes the headstrong Simone has plans of her own in the form of Cotton Neal, a young man who Berta considers as nothing better than a common thug, jailbird, and bootlegger from the wrong side of the tracks.

But to Simone, Cotton is the air she breathes - her future husband and the love of her life. 

While Simone and Cotton prepare to run away together, the owner of a local opium den is found floating face down in the river. When Cotton is blamed for the murder he disappears, and while law enforcement work vigilantly to apprehend him, Simone is left to endure Georges' bitter, violent form of jealousy. When he threatens to reveal Cotton's whereabouts, Simone finally falls into his trap as he uses blackmail as a form of revenge.

Toni...

You run away only to have your car break down on the side of the road. You accidentally murder the mother of a good samaritan...

The events that follow will change the lives of each woman forever.



I received this Early Readers Edition in exchange for an honest review.

This was the most intense short novel I've ever read. It was a very quick read though and I finished it in three hours. It was captivating, almost from the beginning. Simone's character is truly pathetic and you can't help but feel for her because her character never really catches a break. Toni's character is only briefly in the book, but her circumstances are devastating and you can't help but see a direct line of sadness and hopelessness linking her to Simone; a character she never knows but who she becomes intertwined with nonetheless.

A lot of the things that happen in the book were given away by the synopsis (again, it's a short novel, not a whole lot of room there for conflict) but still, somehow, I could not put this book down. The level of detail in this novel was perfect. The author didn't go into detail with every aspect of the book, which would have made it over-explained and drawn out needlessly, but she described things in a way that was almost poetic. Immediately I was hooked on descriptions of the characters and the setting. It added that extra bit of flavour to an already beguiling story.

There was a lot of sadness, death and frank language and treatment of African American's that was hard to read, but necessary to the story. It made the story the tragedy that it was, but because of it I don't know that I could read the book again. I always have a hard time reading about characters who truly deserve a happy ending and never get the extent of what they deserve. It's the only thing stopping me from giving this book a five star rating.

Final Rating:
✬✬✬✬✫
Probability of Rereading:
No

Thanks for reading!

Opinionated Bookworm

In the Strictest Confidence Review

In the Strictest Confidence (A Frankie Wilson Mystery, #1)
By: K. Britt-Badman

Your secrets are safe with her, but some secrets are deadly.

Counsellor Francesca 'Frankie' Wilson, divorced mother of two, lands her dream job at ASF Technologies. Is she as lucky as she seems? From the very first day things start happening to her — bad things! Who is responsible and why? Could it be one of her clients?

Stephen Lime, who appears to hate women, and is keeping a secret.

Isabelle Toms, a profoundly deaf tester, who feels lonely and isolated, within an organisation where no one else can use sign language.

Verity Froom, who dresses like a woman far beyond her years, suffers from ill health, but who refuses to visit a doctor.

David Shaw, who's young and handsome, but who has just lost his wife to a hit and run driver, and is devastated by grief.

Or is someone else responsible?



I received this Advanced Readers Copy in exchange for an honest review.

Let me begin by confessing that I love British dialect. I have no idea why, but I am partial to words like 'shops' instead of stores, 'lift' instead of elevator, 'oi' instead of hey, and 'flat' instead of apartment (it may have something to do with my Harry Potter obsession). As silly as it sounds, it just gives the book an exotic feel to me. So the fact that this novel had that type of jargon was already a win for me. Add to that the non-stop mystery of who was terrorizing Frankie and here was a novel that I did not want to put down.

Reading this novel was a little bit like watching Pretty Little Liars to me; everyone was a suspect and my mind was constantly changing about who the vandal was. My main suspects were Stephen Lime's mother, Verity Froom's husband and David Shaw. Throughout the novel each one of the characters seemed to have motive and I could never pinpoint who exactly I thought it was. Funnily enough only one of the characters was actually in the book. Two of them were only talked about, never actually introduced. Needless to say, the end was a twist for me and made me love the book even more. 

The primary draw of the book to me was the main character, Frankie. Reading about her life, her childhood, her family, her home and her children actually gave me a sense of calm. Her character is genuinely likeable and good. She is always trying to do the right thing in every situation and is very honest to everyone in her life. I admired her courage and perseverance in furthering her schooling, even while trying to keep her marriage on track and keep her children happy. The accomplishment of actually landing her dream job and meeting her goals gives the reader the feeling of optimism and ambition. Because of Frankie's winning personality and charisma I found myself feeling what she was feeling as I read the book. When she was sad, I felt her sadness. When she was angry, I felt her anger. When she was scared, I felt her fear. Which is always what I want when I read a novel; to become so engrossed in the book that it almost becomes a part of me for a time.

Frankie's clients were a very interesting addition to the book, as their characters were all complex and confounding. In every one of her counselling sessions I was always trying to guess, along with Frankie, as to what their underlying issues may be, and what the truth was that they weren't telling her. I found myself looking forward to the once a week sessions with her client's just to see how much deeper Frankie would dig and what new information she would uncover about them. My favorite of them was Stephen Lime. His character was so bizarre to me and until the very last session I really couldn't form a solid opinion of him that stuck.

This has been, thus far, my favorite advanced reading copy to date. And I fully plan to buy the book once it's released and give it a home on my bookshelf. I anticipate In the Strictest Confidence becoming one of my favorite books to reread on lazy afternoons.

Final Rating:
✬✬✬✬✬
Probability of Rereading:
Yes

Thanks for reading!

Opinionated Bookworm

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Crown of Midnight Review

Crown of Midnight
By: Sarah J. Maas

From the throne of glass rules a king with a fist of iron and a soul as black as pitch. Assassin Celaena Sardothien won a brutal contest to become his Champion. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown. She hides her secret vigilantly; she knows that the man she serves is bent on evil.

Keeping up the deadly charade becomes increasingly difficult when Celaena realizes she is not the only one seeking justice. As she tries to untangle the mysteries buried deep within the glass castle, her closest relationships suffer. It seems no one is above questioning her allegiances—not the Crown Prince Dorian; not Chaol, the Captain of the Guard; not even her best friend, Nehemia, a foreign princess with a rebel heart.

Then one terrible night, the secrets they have all been keeping lead to an unspeakable tragedy. As Celaena's world shatters, she will be forced to give up the very thing most precious to her and decide once and for all where her true loyalties lie... and whom she is ultimately willing to fight for.


I have to start off by saying that this is the best sequel I've ever read. Honestly, so much happened in it that it makes the first book pale in comparison (and in case you missed it I had rated it 5 stars!).

In this book we really get to see what Celaena is capable of in all of her assassin glory. And she is badass. The thing that really gives her character more appeal to readers is her compassion. Yes, she is a ruthless killer, but she also feels for the people she has killed and the people that she is ordered to kill by the king. She's a protector as much as she is a killer. We get to see the depth of her feelings and love in this book as she makes herself vulnerable to the Captain of the Guard only to get hurt in the end. And we get to see the depth of her grief and sadness as her personal life falls apart around her.

The conflict of the threat against the crown was interesting, but not as interesting as the discovery that magic is still very much alive and being used within the castle walls. The idea that the ultimate villain is the King is not very surprising until you learn that he may have some dark magic that he's wielding as a weapon to make other nations fall to him, ultimately giving him control of the world. It added a twist that I wasn't expecting.

Honestly, I think I am so enthralled with the main character, her quirks, her abilities, that she could do virtually anything and I would want to read about it. Luckily for me (and the rest of the readers who feel the same way I do) the author also creates some pretty compelling circumstances for Celaena to overcome.

Final Rating:
✬✬✬✬✬
Probability of Rereading:
No

Thanks for reading!

Opinionated Bookworm


 

A Second Chance at Love Review

A Second Chance at Love
By: Kassandra Lynn

True love doesn’t exist. Forever belongs in a storybook.

Empress Ursila Ufran ran away with Royal Healer Draven for love. What she found was regret and heartbreak. Draven had approached her with an agenda, her father had committed treason, and everyone in House of Ufran had been beheaded. When a magical amulet gives her a second chance at life, she has to avoid her mistakes and prevent her family’s downfall before it’s too late.




I received this Advanced Reader Copy in exchange for an honest review.

As most of you know, there's nothing I enjoy more than a good romance story. And this book definitely delivered. I loved the plot twist on the romance element and was very relieved that it didn't turn into yet another love triangle. The love story between the Empress and Emperor had all the ingredients necessary to make it a timeless, swoon worthy, classic story of true and enduring love. It begins with both of them thrown together and uninterested in each other and evolves, over the course of the novel, into the fairytale magic type of love that every woman loves to read about. Not to mention, the emperor's character sounds incredibly attractive which certainly helps keep the readers attention and imagination alive, especially during some of the bedroom scenes.

This was my first time reading a time travelling novel; I had always avoided them because movies I had seen with time travel in them bored me to tears. This book absolutely did not do that. It made the time travel easy to understand both in the amount of time travelled and the reason for the travel itself. I actually loved the idea of a 'do-over' in life. And Ursila desperately needed one. It was satisfying to read of her opportunities to go back and do things differently to end up with a happy outcome.

Overall I actually don't have any complaints about this book. My favorite thing about it is that even though it's the second book in a series it is amazing as a stand alone book. There was no end cliff hanger that obligates the reader to go buy the next book in the series in order to know the outcomes of the characters. The author did her readers a favour a tied up all loose ends within the book, giving the reader the option to buy the next book based on their conjecture of this book and it's characters.

Final Rating:
✬✬✬✬✬
Probability of Rereading:
Yes

Thanks for reading!

Opinionated Bookworm

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Susurrus Review

Susurrus
By: B. Morris Allen

No evil sorceress is born evil.
Iskra wants magic and a home, but her magic keeps killing the people she loves. Just when happiness is finally with in her grasp, another wizard intervenes. Now, she needs to choose: rebuild her life again, or channel her destructive power into bloody revenge.



I received this Advanced Readers Edition in exchange for an honest review.

Let me start by saying, oh Lordy, was this ever a long book! Over 600 pages!! And unfortunately, it felt just as long (if not longer!) than the page numbers lead one to believe. I have to give the author credit, his writing is very good. It's descriptive enough to really give the reader a sense of exactly what he is talking about, but on the flip side, there was a lot of unnecessary description that just prolonged the book further and offered no real merit to the story.

My first misgiving with Susurrus was that by the time I had read the first 50 pages, I realized that I was really no further ahead in the story. All that had really happened was that Iskra's father died and she was walking somewhere with a magician. And it was a very detailed walk, much more so than the death of her father. At least a couple chapters worth. It was excessive which made for a dry read, and I had to force myself to keep reading because at some point they had to reach their destination and then something interesting was bound to happen......right?

Wrong. They reached their destination and from there everything happened so quickly I was overwhelmed and had to take a break from reading. Literally. I went  a whole day without reading anything to try to orient myself with the new direction of the book. When I got back to it, there were many times that I had to pause or reread what I had already read, in an attempt to try to catch myself up to yet another new climate. There were may times that Iskra had life changing cliff hangers and in the next paragraph (within the same chapter) her life would be completely different and time had advanced months/years. It was very disorienting to read.

The character of Iskra herself began well enough, as a child she wasn't complex and seemed to experience things and feelings as a normal child would. Very quickly she lost her human component and became very cold and unfeeling and with that my affinity towards her character never grew. Throughout the entire book I did not care what happened to her, she experiences many losses and I didn't feel for her at all, I would not have cared if she had died. Actually I may have been relieved because then the book could have ended sooner. Even at the very end when she experienced some sort of emotional awakening I felt nothing but bored.

The one thing that I really enjoyed about the book was the setting. I was intrigued by the idea of a magical world that had different types of magic in every city. It was interesting to read about them and to find out who could possess them and how they worked. It was an interesting draw back for each place that their types of magic only extended as far as their city's borders. It was also interesting to me to see how Iskra could hold each places magic in her to call upon whenever she wanted, although I never quite understood why she was the only one to harness this type of power; it was mildly entertaining to see how she could put each place's magic into use for her own design.

Overall the book was long and dull and the characters all seemed to have the emotional range of a pebble. I may have liked it better if the author hadn't time-hopped so much, or glossed over events that should have been catastrophic to the main character.

Final Rating:
✬✫✫✫✫
Probability of Rereading:
No

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...