Review: A Circle of Wives by Alice LaPlante

20140312-091008.jpgAfter reading A Circle of Wives, my second read from this author, I can safely say that Alice LaPlante writes one hell of a story! I’d been looking forward to this one for awhile and was not disappointed.

When Dr. John Taylor, a renowned and respected pediatric plastic surgeon, dies a sudden death in a hotel room, at first glance it appears to be a sad yet simple case of a heart attack. However, detective Samantha Adams is convinced there’s more to the story than meets the eye. She’s young and highly motivated to prove herself. Not to mention there’s something deeper beneath the surface. You see, dear Dr. John was leading a double life. Or maybe more. In the course of the investigation, three separate wives come to light as well as other sinister secrets. There’s wife number one, Deborah. As the first wife, she’s a micromanager of the utmost kind. She even goes so far as to manage John’s other life. MJ is wife number two, a free-spirited hippie type who was completely unaware that she was sharing her husband. As was wife number three and the most recent acquisition, Helen, a fellow physician. Of course, there are other twists and turns along the way that you’d expect from such a story.

There’s always a risk when a story is written from multiple perspectives as this one is. If not done carefully, the reader is left wondering who is saying what and whose turn it is to speak. That’s not a problem with this book as the author seamlessly switches between the three wives as well as the detective, Samantha. I won’t claim any particular affinity for the wives as none of them did anything to endear themselves to me. And to be honest, none of them were particularly likeable. But isn’t that one of the signs of a truly gifted author, one who can keep you reading even when you don’t care for most of the characters?

Although this would be categorized in the psychological thriller/suspense genre, there’s none of the urgency often found in these types of stories that results in a page-flipping mad dash to the finish. The story hums long nicely but steadily and as a result it makes you want to slow down and savor each and every word. Still, there’s no lack of suspense in this book. Even though I thought I knew who dunnit, it could have plausibly been any one of several people up until the very end. My only gripe with the story is that there were too many loose ends and unfinished bits to leave me fully satisfied. Some people are okay with open-ended conclusions. I am not. I like to know what happens to each and every character after the big picture is revealed. Still, this is a good story told through the gifted words of Alice LaPlante.

~Thalia

Buy it Now: A Circle of Wives

Review: If You Were Mine (The Sullivans #5) by Bella Andre

20140326-230926.jpg Heather and Zach pulled me right in to their anti-love story. For two people who don’t believe in love, and certainly don’t believe in forever, these two sure fall hard and fast for each other.

No amount of denial can stop the chemistry Heather and Zach have, but at every turn they try to keep things superficial. They get together because the dogs miss each other. Or they need good sex. Or they want to help a good cause. It’s never because they’re in L.O.V.E. Nooooooooo. Not the L word. Even when they meet each other’s families, Zach and Heather pretend they’re just friends.

It’s this push and pull that makes If You Were Mine so enticing. Zach and Heather have eyes for only each other, but they still try to create distance whenever they can. I loved the tension, loved the longer than usual bedroom scenes (not any more graphic than expected, but drawn out and well-written), and loved when Heather and Zach were finally honest with each other.

If You Were Mine is my flavor of the week. Try it. Taste for yourself.

Yum.

-Calliope

Buy IF YOU WERE MINE

Play(Stage Dive #2), by Kylie Scott

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“Life is a song, Anne. Let’s play.”

I was super excited when Play released a week early!! I hurried through my current reread so I could start this one. Of course I couldn’t put it down, so that means I stayed up WAY too late. But I had to finish it!! I needed to know what was happening with Mal. While this is book 2, in the Stage Dive series, it can be read as a standalone. I love series like these.

Synopsis
Mal Ericson, drummer for the world famous rock band Stage Dive, needs to clean up his image fast—at least for a little while. Having a good girl on his arm should do the job just fine. Mal doesn’t plan on this temporary fix becoming permanent, but he didn’t count on finding the one right girl.

Anne Rollins never thought she’d ever meet the rock god who plastered her teenage bedroom walls—especially not under these circumstances. Anne has money problems. Big ones. But being paid to play the pretend girlfriend to a wild life-of-the-party drummer couldn’t end well. No matter how hot he is. Or could it?

Anne has had a crush on Mal, for years. So when she meets him, she is completely shocked at how he acts around her. He teases and pushes her buttons, but he also makes her want to tear off her clothes and jump him. This is a big problem, when decides to move in with her. When he comes up with the fake girlfriend plan, she is hesitant to go along, but she has no choice. Now if only she could tell her heart to stay out of it, everything would be fine.

But of course, that’s not going to happen, is it?

Mal seemed quite high strung and a bit crazy. I was wondering if there wasn’t an underlying cause. I seriously thought he had mental issues. He was so up and down, I was getting whiplash, just like Anne. But eventually you find out the reason behind his happy-go-lucky routine and it broke my heart. He was so sweet and kind and I never wanted him to have to go through what was happening.

I found myself cracking up half the time. I knew there was some serious issues happening, but Mal was so good at keeping the bad tucked away, you couldn’t help but chuckle at him. And while he was joking around, he very serious about Anne. He would do anything for her. I also loved the bold way he spoke to her. If he wanted her, he had a way saying plainly saying it, and yet making it come out kind of funny.

In the end, I was quite happy and sad. He deserved happiness, but I will miss his antics. Hopefully, in the next book, we’ll see a bit more of his goofiness.

~Melpomene

Buy Play (A Stage Dive Novel)

Review – Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan

13562049Have you ever read a book by an author that you adore, and still end up surprised by the direction in which the novel is taken? Well, that recently happened to me with Ian McEwan. Now, I’m not sure one can really stick McEwan into one genre, or style of writing, but he manages to surprise me with every book he writes, and Sweet Tooth, is no exception.
Set in 1970’s England, the novel follows serena, an avid reader that ended up graduating from Cambridge with a degree in mathematics. After graduation, she applies to MI5 (British security services) and is given a low level desk job. After some time, Serena is approached to join a unit in which the government pays authors, artists, journalists etc…, to produce work that is more aligned with the official views and status quo of the government. Serena is tasked with handling Thomas Haley, a new and upcoming author that the government believes could be a liability. However, as Serena begins to develop feelings for Thomas, will everything work out as planned?
Fear not, dear readers, I have not given away any spoilers! An author of lesser caliber would have been content with writing in the constraints of this simple plot, but not McEwan. Oh no. McEwan is known for character development, and you get 150 pages of that before you even begin to see a peek of the main plot. It may seem unnecessary, but it actually works in this particular instance. Everything builds upon itself, and you will find yourself going “Ahh, so that’s why so and so did or said that”.
I’ll be the first to admit that I am indeed a McEwan fan-boy, however, I believe that actually helps because it allows me to really pick out any negative points, and there are some – only a few very minor points – but nonetheless, they exist. When Serena is vetting Thomas, we read his short fiction along with her, and at times, it did get a little tedious. Necessary, but tedious. There were also one or two minor plot points that could have done with fleshing out, but that’s just me being picky.
If you have read anything of McEwan’s before, then I highly recommend that you pick up his latest novel. If you have not read any of McEwan’s work before, then this is just a good of a place to start as any. Just remember to be patient. McEwan is like water: It will flow in all different directions, but eventually end up where it is supposed to. Enjoy the ride! Sweet Tooth: A Novel
Enjoy!
~ Pegasus.

Review: Kissing Under the Mistletoe by Bella Andre

20140325-221756.jpg This 10th installment of The Sullivans is a look back into the history of Mary and Jack Sullivan, the parents of the Sullivans who star in the other books in the series.

Bella Andre takes us on a charming, sweet trip down memory lane. A box of Christmas ornaments is the catalyst for Mary to recall milestones in her life. Then she gets lost in thoughts of her romance with her husband so many years ago.

I breezed through this book, enjoying Mary’s strong will and gentle spirit, and Jack’s patience and persistence. Mary and Jack’s story is original and well-thought-out. There were chaste kisses, steamy scenes, arguments, giddiness, fun dates, a proposal, and all the trimmings of a good romance.

Now that I’ve read their history, I’m totally ready for the next present-day Sullivan romances! Soon I will review If You Were Mine (book 5, Zach Sullivan), published in 2012; and Always on My Mind (book 11, Lori Sullivan), to be published this April.

–Calliope

Buy KISSING UNDER THE MISTLETOE

The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld

The EnchantedThis one now goes down as an all time favourite. No doubt about it. While reading it I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Now that I’m done I still can’t stop thinking about it. When I wake up it is on my mind, so I know it is also in my dreams.

However, I am still not sure how to review it.

Imagine the darkest fairytale you can imagine. It takes place not in the dense forest, but instead it takes place in the darkest dungeon you can imagine. Stained, dampened, dank walls. The smells are over powering. The sounds are horrifying. You can taste the bile-stale air in your mouth. You can feel the cold dampness of the air. You can smell the rot and defecation. The pain and suffering are tangible things you not only hear, but can also feel. They are so great that you can feel the heaviness of their weight.

Now imagine if you will, the narrator of this dark tell. No. It is not the beautiful child. The sweet innocent. The story-teller of this tale is the monster. And only he sees the enchantment. Only he sees the beauty around him.

He seduces you with his beautiful words. You want to trust him. You want to like him…you draw closer…when you are close enough to reach out and draw him near to you…a single ray of light shines upon his face and you can’t help but to draw back in horror. The intricate tale he has woven for you in the shadows is shattered by the light. You are suddenly faced with the reality of what a true monster looks like…you run as fast as you can. You try to escape….but as you are running away, you turn back. Just once. You see him as he just sits there. Looking at you. A sad knowing smile upon his lips. No he doesn’t chase you down as you fear. He allows you to simply walk away. But the price you must pay for your newfound freedom is the knowledge of all he has shared with you.

This is a horrible story. But it is full of beauty. It is full of unimaginable deep felt thoughts. Thoughts that I hope challenge you to seek the beauty and the good around you…no matter your circumstances. It would be a hopeless world if a single flower could never grow in the most unsuspecting places. But they do. Laughter can be found in places you expect only sorrow. One can find courage under the most frightening of circumstances. Perhaps, most importantly, we can also find love where there is too much hate and despair.

Here we have a story that is mostly told via the thoughts of one solitary death row prisoner locked in the dungeon of a nameless prison. Through his eyes we see glimpses of a kind-hearted warden. We meet a lost and discarded soul that is due to be executed in the near future. We see an unlikely hero in a young boy whose innocence was stolen. We encounter a fallen priest. And of course, we meet a lady. However, we also have to meet the villains of this tale. We must sit back and hear, feel and watch of all the evil that they do. This is perhaps truly the only way we can see the nature of the good….we must see how vile life can be to measure just how beautiful it can be as well…

There is so much darkness here. Seriously. You can feel it in your pores. Your ears are even plugged with it. You smell it. You taste it. This is how powerful Rene Denfeld’s writing is. You carry this as a dark shroud that you attempt to hide under. But there are moments when the light shines through and you are blinded by the brilliance. That blinding light is enough to allow hope, love and courage to grow. Even in places where you expect nothing but misery. Nothing but violence. Places where evil lives…If you look hard enough. Look deep enough. You too can find your enchanted place.

This is one of the best novels I have read. It is one that I believe will get better with a second reading. Or a third. I can’t believe how I stumbled upon this book. I want to share it with everyone. That is the only reason I have attempted to write a review that I know is undeserving of such a brilliant book…Perhaps I should just put insert a few quotes….sorry they are lengthy….but please understand…these are but a few…this book is overflowing with sorrow and heartbreak disguised in beautiful profound words…

There are some things I can never discuss. One is the bad thing I did after I was released from the mental hospital when I was eighteen. I wouldn’t want the idea of this thing to be in the world. Ideals are powerful things; we should take more care with them. I know there are some who would disagree — those who think ideas are like food they can taste and then spit out if they don’t like it. But ideas are stronger than that. You can get a taste of an idea inside you, and the next thing you know, it won’t leave. Until you do something about it.

As soulless as I am, I do not want others to do what I have done. Some ideas need to stay silent inside me, like the letters inside some words.

Long ago, in the library, I sat on the table under a cloud. The little dust motes would fly in the window and hang above me like a halo or God in the sunlight.

For a long time I though maybe those little sparks were creatures. They could be creatures almost too tiny to see, just a little taste on the tip of your tongue. Maybe God sent them, like fire creatures, like the sparks before the beginning of life, or maybe the dust that rises from your hair after you’re dead. I would stop reading and crane my neck back to watch them swarm above me. The other inmates would jab each other and point, but I didn’t care.

Later I read that there are things inside us too tiny to see. Not even a microscope can capture them. This got me thinking — if there are things inside us too tiny to see, might there be things outside too big to believe?

I think what it would feel like to be a corpse valet. To lift bodies and feel the weight of their passing. How odd it is, that the dead weigh more than the living. You would think it would be the opposite, but it isn’t. I think it is because souls give bodies lightness and air. When the soul leaves, the body has nothing left and is desperate to return to the earth. That’s why it’s so heavy.

Others might feel sorry for the corpse valets. They say once you’re a corpse valet and know so many terrible secrets, the prison cannot let you go.

I like to listen for the sounds of their creaking wheels late at night. I like to think about their passage across the dusty yards in the earliest of the morning, when the mist rises off the river and the geese come swooping in, crying at the wonder of life. What a beautiful thing that must be, to feel the weight of the dead even as the earth rises and is born again.

Until next time….

Urania xx

Buy it now…RIGHT NOW!!! The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld

Review: Craving Him, by Kendall Ryan

00112 My Word!!! I have been anxiously waiting to find out what happens to Ben and Emmy. This books pick up right where Working It ended.

Synopsis
Emmy Clarke is no quitter. Toughened by her experience working for fashion heavyweight Fiona Stone, Emmy has come a long way from her country girl roots, embracing her fast-paced and unpredictable life in New York City.

Though that life comes with more than a few complications.

First there’s the mystery of Fiona’s pregnancy, which may or may not involve Emmy’s boyfriend, superstar male model Ben Shaw. Emmy has always known that Ben comes with more baggage than she can handle—and not the Louis Vuitton kind. Yet Ben is the only man who has ever loved Emmy for who she is, and she wants nothing more than to do the same for him, even if it means forgiving his past and overlooking their wildly different lifestyles.

But when a shocking secret from Ben’s past comes to light, unraveling all of their progress, Emmy must decide if their relationship is worth the fight, or if it’s time to ignore her passion for him and let go.

I loved Ben and his vulnerability. He is not used to caring this much for someone, and will do anything to keep Emmy happy.

“It was hard for me to admit it but I needed her. I’d never needed anyone, but this sweet southern girl was different. She had been from day one. Her refreshingly real attitude had knocked me on my ass-floored me right from the get-go.

But Emmy still has doubts at where her relationship is going. She loves Ben but she needs to learn to relax and let things just happen. She doesn’t feel like she is worthy of someone like Ben. So he will spend however long it takes to show her.

I loved the sauciness of some of these scenes. I loved the angst filled scenes. I loved the whole thing!! At one point I had to place my kindle down and take a deep breath. My nerves were shot and I felt horrible!!

Kendall Ryan is a master story teller!! And I can’t wait to see what more she has up her sleeve.

~Melpomene

Buy Craving Him: A Love by Design Novel