Review: He’s So Fine (Lucky Harbor #11) by Jill Shalvis

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I said it for book #10, and I’ll say it again. I love Lucky Harbor, and Shalvis writes the best alpha men ever.

He’s So Fine tells the story of Olivia (not her real name, but hopefully no one finds out) and Cole (like McGuyver, but more sensitive and nosy and muscly and alpha).

They don’t mean to hit it off, but the electricity between them is just too much to resist. When they finally knock down some emotional walls, they might even start a real relationship… If it weren’t for Cole’s inability to trust, and Olivia’s inability to share the truth. You see how that might cause some problems!

What impressed me was that Shalvis made Cole and Olivia’s character flaws a platform for comic relief, a wonderful use of wit that endeared me to the couple instead of being annoyed with them. The two pretty much save each other from themselves, and enjoy a terrific Lucky Harbor happily ever after. Sigh. Those never get old.

One of the mainstays of the Lucky Harbor series is Lucille, resident blue-haired busybody. In this particular book, Shalvis introduces us to Olivia’s friend Callie, Lucille’s granddaughter. That introduction has got me veddy veddy interested in what might be coming up ahead in Book 12. I can’t wait!

-Calliope
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Review: The Recruit (Cherub #1) by Robert Muchamore

*1This was a new type for me. Yes, I’ve read plenty of YA novels. I’ve even read them like this so far as that it involves young people in some sort of war/espionage type thing. However, all of these involved post-apocalyptic world or includes some sort of magical realism. This one, however, included none of that. It was simply a story about a young boy orphaned at the age of 11. He is then contacted by an governmental agency and offered a new home. Once he completes training he will be placed in various missions in order to obtain information that will be useful to his government. The organization was formed in WWII and has grown and evolved since then.

In this first installment of the series, James looses his mother, is placed in foster care, has contact with the law, is contacted by the secret agency, finishes his basic training and completes his first mission. It’s a fast read but only because it’s so entertaining. The author has set up a great start to what promises to be a fantastic series. We have many characters to not only follow, but to also fall in love with. If that wasn’t enough, the spy element also ensures us lots of suspense and mystery as well. There are countless story-lines that can follow.

I especially enjoyed that James did not just complete his mission blindly. He is young, but not so young that he doesn’t realise that his actions have consequences. At the start of the story, James doesn’t seem to let these bother him….yes, he thinks about them, but only as they effect him. At the end, James questions the effect that his actions has on others. At what costs does one pay for the benefit of the overall good? When does the price paid negate the good?

I realise this series has been out for a while now, but I hope as I read the later books that James continues to question and to learn from what he sees and does. I hope he does not just blindly follow.

Until next time….

Urania xx

Review copy provided from NetGalley for an honest review

Buy it now The Recruit by Robert Muchamore

Review: Black Ice, by Becca Fitzpatrick

01bla I really enjoyed Becca Fitzpatrick’s Hush Hush series, so I was super excited to hear she was writing another book. But when I heard it was a mystery/thriller, that made me a bit nervous. I’m usually not a fan of those. However, I LOVED this book. I did break my rule of no reading blurbs, but I was still in the dark and was able to make my own assumptions.

When we first meet Britt, some may think that she’s this spoiled brat, but I never got that at all. I thought she had a good head on her shoulders and was fully prepared to take on whatever life threw at her. So what if she pretends to not understand how to pump gas, so the guy will do it for her. That doesn’t make her spoiled, that makes her smart. ;)

Britt has been planning this Spring Break hiking trip for a while now and she isn’t happy that her ex is meeting her up at the cabin. She was hoping for a girls week, but at least it will give her a chance to see if her feelings for him have changed or not.

However, she never makes it to the cabin. Instead, she gets stranded and finds herself at the mercy of two strangers who hold her hostage. She is forced to pull herself together and do what they say. They want her to lead them off the mountain, away from cops and other people. If they want down, she’ll get them down, even if she “accidentally” leads them into the path of people who could save her. She just has to stay alive long enough for someone to find her.

As she makes her way, she is being taken to the areas where three murders were committed, this past year, and it makes her question if she’ll be the next victim. Her captors seem like they know more than they’re saying, so she is determined to get away, at the first chance she gets.

Throughout this entire ordeal, she struggles with knowing who is telling her the truth and who isn’t. Mason, one of her captors, is proving to be more than what she thought. It may all an act, but the evidence all around him, is making his kindness seem out of place.

Who can she trust? Who will keep her safe? Will she be the next victim?

I liked the action that was spread all over the place. My nerves were shot. My heart was racing. The thought of being stuck out in the freezing temps, on a mountain, makes me nervous. But Britt has a good grasp on reality and learns to think on her feet and make fast decisions that could possibly save her life. The smidgen of romance was enough to keep this love her girl happy also. It wasn’t the main focus of the story, but it was a nice mixture.

This is a standalone that will keep you at the edge of your seat, til the very end.

~Melpomene

Release date October 7, 2014

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Review: As Long As You Love Me, by Ann Aguirre

01asWOW! I did NOT expect to feel this way, while reading a book. I couldn’t put it down. I was wiping my eyes a few times also. Beautiful NA story the you’re sure to love.

When Lauren left college, to return home, she never told anyone the real reason. Not even her best friend. Watching her struggle with day to day things that never seem to bother us, gave me a glimpse into a world I never knew existed.

Her struggles seemed to affect her living a full life. But when she starts to hang around Rob, he seems to get her and be able to help her. And while he is helping her, she seems to be able to help him realize his full potential and give him the confidence he needs to get his life in order.

The main character, Rob, was so well written. He is NOTHING like your typical hero. In fact, he seriously was twisting my heart. No one treated him like a guy who could do anything. They saw him for what he looked like and not what he can do. His low self esteem had me wishing I could reach in and hug him. It also had me wishing I could reach in and smack a few people as well.

“I’m the one they sleep with before they meet Mr. Right. Anyone who ends up with me, She’ll just be settling.”

See?!?! That boy needs a big hug!!!

But the more they hang out, the more they realize that they’re perfect for each other. I was rooting for them, the whole time. I needed them to move past their struggles and learn how to deal and be confident in each other.

Very well done, Ms. Aguirre!! I am really enjoying this trilogy and can’t wait to read the next book.

~Melpomene

Buy As Long As You Love Me

Grab the first book: I Want It That Way
See my review HERE.

Preorder book 3 The Shape of My Heart
Release date: November 25, 2014

Review: Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

Lies-Cover-5-2014-198x300Being a child of the seventies, much of what I know about the Civil Rights Era comes from books that I’ve read. And there’s always an inherent risk that what I’m reading isn’t true to fact or is too preachy. This debut novel by Robin Talley avoids both of those pitfalls.

The year is 1959. The place, Virginia. After a lengthy court battle, public schools in the state have been ordered to integrate. Sarah Dunbar is among a select group of students chosen to attend the previously all-white Jefferson High School. From day one, Sarah and her friends are surrounded by hatred. In addition to being placed in remedial classes and banned from participating in extra curricular activities, they’re faced with a daily deluge of name calling, taunting, things being thrown at them, and outright violence. Still they persevere, conducting themselves with respect and dignity for the most part. When Sarah is forced into a school project with the daughter of a prominent townsperson, things begin to change in ways both good and bad.

This story is told from both perspectives, Sarah’s and Linda’s. We are given a glimpse into Sarah’s feelings about her role as a trailblazer, of course. But what’s more eye-opening to me is hearing Linda’s story. Yes, she’s full of intolerance. But her thoughts made me wonder how that came to be. Was she simply a product of her environment? She’s very unwavering in her belief that segregation is the right thing to do. Then she would have moments that made me think her heart was telling her something different.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the turmoil that both Sarah and Linda went through as they struggled with their feelings for each other. They find themselves attracted to each other which during that era was almost as taboo as interracial relationships. For me it wasn’t the main part of the story, and I don’t want it to detract from the author’s insight into the fear and intolerance of that time period. But how can we discuss one without the other? Aren’t we facing much of that same fear and intolerance today? It’s just an additional obstacle young Sarah had to overcome as do many young people in modern times.

This is a tough book to read. There were times I found myself doubting that people could be so cruel. It’s important, however, to remember these shameful parts of our history so that they are not repeated. Avoiding it doesn’t make it go away. And beyond that, my hope is that some day we will look back on society’s current views on homosexuality with the same disbelief we have towards the racial intolerance of our past. Difficult to comprehend but impossible to put down, this is one book you won’t soon forget!

~Thalia

Buy It Now: Lies We Tell Ourselves (Harlequin Teen)

Review: A Lady at Willowgrove Hall, by Sarah E. Ladd

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“I think she is looking for her family, looking for a place to belong. But I want us to be her family, and she belongs with me.”

When I received this ARC, I was super excited, because I was hoping this story would be another I could share with my daughter. And boy, was I right!! This is another perfect romance book. I know it’s a Christian book, and many would assume anyone could read it. But some are geared toward adults and have lot more adult feelings. But this was about young people, so it had a bit less adult feelings and more coming of age feelings. If that makes any sense.

Synopsis, via Goodreads
Willowgrove Hall is full of secrets, but soon everything hidden is brought to light.

Cecily Faire has a secret—and she intends to keep it. But when she arrives at Willowgrove Hall to serve as a lady’s companion, she comes face-to-face with the only person who knows the truth about her past.

As the steward of Willowgrove Hall, Nathaniel Stanton is dedicated to serving those around him. Nothing escapes his notice—including the beautiful new lady’s companion. He is certain the lovely Miss Faire is hiding something, and he determines to uncover it. But Nathaniel has a secret of his own: he is the illegitimate son of Willowgrove’s former master. Falling in love was not part of his plans . . . until he meets Cecily Faire.

When Willowgrove’s mistress dies, everything changes. Fear of exposure forces Cecily to leave under the cover of darkness, embarking on a journey to finally find her long-lost sister. When the will is read, Nathaniel’s inheritance makes him question his future plans. Cecily and Nathaniel are forced to make decisions that will change the course of their lives. Is their love strong enough to survive?

I could feel all the emotions, and I loved it!!

Cecily has been brought to Willowgrove, to be lady’s companion, but comes face to face with someone, from her past. He was someone she never thought she’d see again. But having him here is a constant reminder of the secrets and shame she has had to live with. But keeping it secret takes it’s toll on her, especially when she meets Nathaniel.

Nathaniel is the steward of Willowgrove and is drawn to Cecily, but he refuses to do anything about it, since his own secrets could bring about shame and dishonor to his whole family. He tries to stay away and do his job, but it’s proving hard, when she is just down the hall, everyday.

But when secrets are relieved, can they still move on?? And are the secrets really worth the torment of keeping them inside??

Beautiful and sweet romance. Exactly the way I was hoping it would be.

~Melpomene

Release date: 10-7-14
Pre order A Lady at Willowgrove Hall (Whispers On The Moors Book 3)

Review: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

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It’s so difficult to ponder this book after reading it that I have to hurry and write the review so I can forget about the book.

Outlander is about Claire, a English woman from the 1940s, pulled into an adventuresome, fun, dangerous, romantic quest in 18th century Scottish Highlands.

I loved every second of 90% this book: Horseback riding through the forests, stereotypical Scottish dialogue, ripped clothing, filth, the challenges of being a female who knows medicine and healing, lots of rough men stealing and working and saving people… An arranged marriage that was full of unspoken love, family ties of numerous clansmen, illegitimate children, crime, detention and escape, and of course a really really bad villain with an ancestral tie to Claire’s husband. What’s not to love in this beautiful saga?!

One thing ruined the entire book for me. The ENTIRE book. I’m talking about making the book go from 5 stars to 2. It nauseated me and left a bad taste in my mouth. The chapter was gratuitous and over the top in my opinion. There was a day of rape. I can accept that as part of the story. I can’t tolerate the retelling of the day-long rapes to one’s spouse, including not only every physical detail but EVERY anguishing psychological and emotional detail. I just don’t believe that any spouse would or could tell their loved one what Gabaldon wants me to believe Jamie told Claire.

Had I known that was coming I would have completely skipped the chapter, pleasantly read the very end, and given Outlander 5 stars.

The one scene ruined the entire book for me. How disappointing.

-Calliope

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