Review: Never Kiss a Rake by Anne Stuart

imageLet me begin this review with a confession. Anne Stuart is one of my book crack authors. After I devoured my first Stuart book decades ago, I searched for more. She is my most expensive book glom. Well worth every penny spent and every minute searching on eBay.

Bryony Russell and her two younger sisters are left close to penniless after their father passed away six weeks ago. Their father was a wealthy shipping magnate who was accused embezzling money from his company. Everyone believes that he died from a carriage accident while trying to flee England.

Her father left a note:
“Don’t trust any of them. Someone’s stealing money, and it looks like Kilmartyn’s in league with them, no matter what excuses he makes. Don’t trust Morgan either. Never trust a pirate. Something’s going on, and I’ll get to the bottom of it…”
This note leads them to believe that their father may have been murdered. Bryony plans to investigate Adrian Bruton, Earl of Kilmartyn, and discover if he is responsible for her father’s death and also if he embezzled the money.

Adrian has a difficulty maintaining a housekeeper. Bryony’s plan is to apply for that position. She figures that she’s better suited for housekeeper than maid because she “knows more about running a household than…dusting and cleaning.”

Bryony disguises herself as a widow and goes to the Kilmartyn home. When Bryony interviews with Adrian’s wife, she is turned down the position because his wife doesn’t want to be surrounded by ugliness. The ugliness is the smallpox scars on Bryony’s face. Luckily for Bryony, Adrian intervenes and hires her.

Adrian does this mainly to spite his wife. He was forced to marry her after she blackmailed him with her knowledge of his deep dark secret.

Since Bryony must report directly to Adrian, they spend much time together. That spark of interest at the interview becomes simmers.

Adrian is the epitome of the Stuart hero: dark, brooding and ambiguous. Sometimes you’re not sure if you should root him. He knows that Bryony is not whom she claims she is.

I enjoyed the time spent with Bryony and Adrian as they try to figure out what each other is really doing. Neither trust each other. Both are very much attracted to each other.

The weakest part of the book is the wife. She’s very one-dimensional. It’s never revealed how she found out about Adrian’s secret.

Because this is the first book in the trilogy, there is a teensy thread unresolved. I look forward to reading the next book. A Russell sister investigates a pirate.

3.5/5 stars

ARC provided by publisher via NetGalley.

~Thalia

Buy It Now Never Kiss a Rake (Scandal at the House of Russell)

Amazon Prime Members Can Borrow Book For Free Never Kiss a Rake (Scandal at the House of Russell)

Review: Just One Day, by Gayle Forman

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“We are born in one day. We die in one day. We can change in one day. And we can fall in love in one day. Anything can happen in one day.”

I completely fell in love with this story. I was overwhelmed with emotions the entire time. I felt everything.

Allyson Healey, or Lulu, was in Europe for a youth vacation type of thing. Here she met Willem, the complete opposite of her. He was an actor doing an underground performance of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. The second they meet, something sizzled between them. He offered to take her to Paris for one day. Since she wasn’t able to go there on her trip, she decided to go for it and do something totally opposite of her norm.

She spent the entire day doing things that she never would have done. Willem opened her eyes to life’s possibilities. She learned more about herself, in that one day, than she did in the past 18 years.

She learned to take risks.

“I think everything is happening is happening all the time, but if you don’t out yourself in the path of it, you miss it.”

She learned about love.

“It’s something that never comes off, no matter how much you might want it to.”

“You’re comparing love to a…stain?”

…”Exactly.”

She also learns that life is about accidents and the scars they leave behind. The world is filled with them. You just have to take notice of them.

She spends all day and night with him and in the morning she wakes up alone.

Devastated, she goes home and tries to move on in a life that no longer feels like hers anymore. Nothing feels right. College is all about her parents wishes and she struggles with trying to figure out who she really is, Willem’s Lulu or plain Allyson. She spends the next year just getting by.

Seeing her heart break and watching her struggle with the every day things, broke my heart. I was devastated for her. It was just one day, but that’s all it took for her life to be completely upturned.

“I realize it’s not enough to know what someone is called. You have to know who they are.”

She eventually changes the direction of her life and embarks on a journey to find herself and a love that was lost, but not forgotten. The journey is filled with ups and downs, but totally it’s worth it, if you find yourself along the way.

5 emotional stars

~Melpomene

Buy it now Just One Day

Review: Girls in Trouble by Caroline Leavitt

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Sara is a 16 year old girl who is pregnant and madly in love with her boyfriend. Her parents don’t “get” her and don’t approve of their relationship because Sara is supposed to be college bound and they think this is distracting her. When Sara goes to tell Daniel about her pregnancy he doesn’t react the way she thought he would and he disappears. She finally chooses to put the baby up for adoption but can’t find any family that seems to be a good fit.

She finds what she is looking for in George and Eva and they decide on an open adoption. They become like second parents to her throughout the pregnancy, supporting her and listening to her when Sara’s own parents don’t want to hear about her issues. After Sara gives birth things change for everyone.

I really enjoyed this book about open adoption because I felt like I was seeing the issues from all points of view without much bias. The POV does alternate between Sara and the adoptive parents and we also get a glimpse into the birth father’s thinking a few times as well. I could relate to all of their emotions and the complications they go through.

I literally couldn’t put this book down, as I was so interested in hearing what happened next in each person’s life. I thought each person was multifaceted and flawed, which made them come to life for me. This is my second Caroline Leavitt book and I really enjoy her narrative style and think she has a beautiful way of telling her stories.

4 stars

~Clio

Review: Homecoming Ranch by Julia London

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4 stars

I was excited to start this book, because I had so much fun reading Julia London’s first book in The Fancy Lives of the Lear Sisters series. I figured, this London chick knows how to write, so I picked up Homecoming Ranch, an August release. I’m glad I did.

I’m going to admit I was confused in the beginning. Three sisters — Emma, Madeline and Libby — were left a ranch in their dad’s will. But the ranch was the lifelong home of a completely different family. And one sister had already made herself at home when the story began.

But then it sorted itself out. Once I was un-confused, I could sit back and enjoy London’s fabulous, real characters. These sisters pouted and gave dirty looks, hugged and cowered, laughed and made fools of themselves… just like people I know in real life. And the male love interest? Whoohoooo! He was pretty real too (well, okay, except for the customary perfect physique). Luke got annoyed, angry, impatient, confused, distant, sappy, happy, passionate… hey, just like a real guy.

Leo (Luke’s brother) provided some comic relief and a reality check amidst Luke and Madeline’s love story. London’s “Leo” voice was brilliant, so so brilliant. Changing literary points of view made the story so genuine. Yeah, there’s a romance happening, but yoohoo, readers, there’s real life baggage to deal with too. Just because London writes a Happily Ever After doesn’t mean she skims over the struggles.

Besides writing superb characters, London illustrates the fun, funny and difficult moments of families, whatever package they come in.

I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.

-Calliope

P.S. It’s only $3.99 for Kindle!

Buy It Now Homecoming Ranch

Review: The Book of Bunny Suicides: Little Fluffy Rabbits Who Just Don’t Want to Live Any More by Andy Riley

imageHow could I resist a book that is endorsed by Richard Curtis (writer/director of Love Actually), Elton John and Hugh Grant?

This a book of cartoons showing depressed bunnies on the verge of death or already dead. These cute bunnies may be depressed but they sure are inventive. Forms of suicide include being beheaded by a revolving door, being sliced into many bunny sections by a helicopter blade while jumping on a trampoline and getting run over on a luge track. There was an attempt that involved a seesaw, bowling ball and a colander that failed the first time but succeeded the second.

There are many cultural references in these cartoons too. There’s a bunny death with an Abba record. There’s one directly from a scene of The Wicker Man. Another involves Noah’s Ark and a game of Asteroids. Best of all, there’s a death inspired by Fatal Attraction.

If you like your humor a little dark, a little sick, you will love this book.

~Thalia

Buy It Now The Book of Bunny Suicides

Buy Its Sequel The Return of the Bunny Suicides

Emotional Cutter

My Name is Melpomene and I’m an emotional cutter.

An emotional cutter is someone who likes to expose themselves to entertainment that will make them cry. That is me to a tee. I love to cry when reading books. The more crying and emotional I get, the more I like a book. I’m not talking about the sobbing and retching that happened during The Fault in our Stars. That was horrible and way too overwhelming and almost to the point of needing my happy pills. I could barely function after reading that one. I’m talking about the emotions that were flying in books like The Edge of Never, Hopeless and Sea of Tranquility. I absolutely love those type of books. I was overwhelmed and speechless when they were done, but emotionally satisfied. Those are the kid of books I crave.

I wish I didn’t need the release, that crying offers, but my body has a mind of its own. I feel a peace and calmness. I always get teased with how much I cry, but I can’t help it, I just need it. It’s hard to explain. Just nod and smile. 🙂

I never used to cry, until I started reading. Now I try to find books that purposely make me cry. But I have to save them for when I need a release. I can’t read them all the time or I’ll have to take a happy pill everyday. It could be as simple as a romance gone sour or more overwhelming like an unexpected death. As long as a book has emotions, I am a happy girl. I just have to remember not to read these at family functions anymore. Not a fan of the looks I get when I have to go to another room to collect myself. *sigh*

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to Amazon to order a case of Kleenex. My stockpile is running low.

Do you like to cry??

~Melpomene

Review: Her Favorite Temptation by Sarah Mayberry

18184035This novella felt more like a full length novel to me, which is definitely a good thing. Leah is a cardiovascular surgeon who is making a change in her specialty and going against her patents wishes. When she meets Will she thinks he’s handsome and had a great voice. Will is shocked she doesn’t recognize him as part of the duo who has been all over the radio the last few years.

The two strike up a friendship although both are clearly attracted to each other. Their friendship grows as they try to ignore their feelings.

I love both characters here. Leah is obviously a very strong female lead, smart and headstrong. Will has charm and is very there for Leah when she needs him. Their interactions were warm, funny and annoying as I clearly wanted them together immediately.

Sarah Mayberry does the buildup to the romance perfectly, leaving the readers ready to scream if the couple doesn’t kiss this instant. But of course they eventually do and sparks fly. We get our HEA at the end, after a few obstacles having been overcome. This is a sweet romance and a quick read.

I loved the whole thing from beginning to end. This was intended to be a short story but the author ended up writing more (yay for us!) and is the lead in for her next full length book – Her Favorite Rival. That will tell the story of Audrey, Leah’s older sister, who we get to see quite a bit of in this one. I’m a fan of lead in books and getting to see bits of one character and then see them be the lead in the next.

I can’t wait to read her next one!

OH! Almost forgot this book is free for the entire month of August! So click below and get a great book for free!!

5 stars

~ Clio

Buy it Now Her Favorite Temptation

Why I Read

As I raced around to note a bunch of book club reads and new Advanced Review Copies of books, I felt rushed. I have this list of books I want to read and review by certain dates, but I just don’t know if I’ll have time. I’d need to read pretty fast to get it done.

So I stopped and reflected. I shouldn’t be rushing to read, no matter what. Reading shouldn’t be a chore. Why am I stressing about something I love doing? Why am I reading, anyway?

Apart from that moment of stress, I consider reading my favorite hobby. I read to relax. Just the process of seeing, consuming and understanding written words relaxes me. That’s why I enjoy my morning coffee with the newspaper. Or the back of the cereal box.

I also read to escape. You’ll notice I review a lot of Happily Ever After type books. That’s because I’m trying to forget – for a little while – about my worries, the stuff I have to do the next day, and the crazy things happening in the world around me.

In the past I read to learn, to be informed, to become enlightened. But now I just want some really good writing to draw me in, and a nice happy story to entertain me.

I decided I’m not going to rush around or give myself time limits to get certain books read. I’m going to savor the writing, settle in to the characters’ lives, and enjoy the happily ever afters — however long it takes me.

–Calliope

Review: Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk

5759This is a tough one for me….I almost stopped reading this book a dozen times….almost just flipped to the ending at least another dozen times. I was seriously pissed. I couldn’t follow the story at all. I felt like it did not flow, at all. I sooo wanted to love this book…..I have heard so much about Palahniuk. I have found dozens of quotes that I loved and tracked them back to him. I *needed* to love this book, but I hated it!!!!! It is not often I give up on a book. Especially one I have wanted to read for a long time. This one had me sooo close to doing just that…..

It’s not that the book was too gross (just imagine soup stirred with a stranger’s penis). It’s not that it was too brutal. It’s not that it was too warped. None of those things bothered me. It’s just that it all seemed too jumbled. It felt like I would read a part of the book and then the next page it seemed to go to a time that was prior to the part I just read. I felt very disoriented. I am a reader that usually has no problems following a story. I love the details, but I don’t let the details bog me down either. Sometimes I know this is a very hard thing for readers to do….to let go of not understanding everything….to just let the story take you where it needs to…at it’s own pace….It is human nature to want to understand everything and not wait for answers to be revealed….but even I had a hard time with this novel.

As I said, I was seriously pissed that I was not able to grasp where Palahniuk was leading me. I mean, I knew where it was going, but seriously, why can’t he keep a straight path to it? Foolish me…..going off and doing exactly what I thought I never did…..getting bogged down in the freakin’ details instead of letting the book lead me to where I needed to be….

To not give anything away from someone who might read this book later, I will just say, that as soon as Palahniuk turned on my light bulb moment at about 80%, the madness I was feeling turned into a moment of surreal brilliance. At that point, I was *SERIOUSLY* pissed that I had almost abandoned the book a dozen times… B-R-I-L-L-I-A–N-T!!!!!!!!!!  I mean, seriously, just fucking BRILLIANT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This book was everything and more that I had hoped to gain from reading a Palahniuk book……

~Urania

Buy It Now  Fight Club: A Novel

 

 

 

Review: Watch Over Me, by Tara Sivec

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This is another of those books that suck you in, break you in pieces and then slowly puts you back together. I am typing through tears, as I think of this book. I was fearful at reading this, but it’s been on my tbr list for sometime now, so I just had to bite the bullet and read it. I’m so glad I did.

When I read the Prologue, I realized this wasn’t gonna be the usual book about moving on.

“Death changes everyone”

Those are the first words in this book. And boy, were they right.

Addison was like your typical teenager. She was fun, outgoing, and just living life as normal as possible. Until her mom died unexpectedly. Her father and her choose very different and drastic ways to move on. But really, how does one move on after your best friend dies?

While trying to pick up the pieces of her life, alone, she is stuck with responsibilities she never wanted. She is just barely making it, until she meets Zander and reads the note he leaves her.

Can life really be filled with happiness and love and not just sorrow and pain??

“You don’t have to try and pick up all the pieces at once, sometimes you only need to use a few at a time.”

“…If it falls apart, it doesn’t mean it’s destroyed. It just means you have to pick up the pieces and start again…You can still pick up the pieces, Sugar. They fell apart for a while, but it doesn’t mean anything is damaged. Everything can be fixed. And you don’t have to fix it alone. There’s always someone who will help you rebuild.”

At that point I was sobbing.

Someone was watching over her and pointing her in the right direction. It will take her a while to get there, but she does. And you’ll feel everything right along with her.

“Everyone has at least one individual in their life that they know will always be there for them no matter what. They will be your rock, your shoulder to cry on, someone to laugh with and confide in, and someone who will call you on your bullshit and tell it to you straight.”

I hope all of you have one of those.

~Melpomene

Buy it now Watch Over Me