Review: The Last Word by A. L. Michael

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Tabitha was playing it safe, blogging from home in her pajamas, going out occasionally with her roommates, and avoiding romantic relationships… Until editor Harry Shulman offered her a job at the newspaper doing real journalism. Tabby did everything she could to avoid the opportunity, remembering the disaster that landed on her the last time she worked for a major news outlet.

The conversations in this book are snappy! Tabitha’s convos with her roommates and Harry are quick-witted, and so are the times she’s just talking to herself… Useful characteristic for a blogger, but a little annoying when your editor is trying to ask you out on a date. 🙂

And oh how I enjoyed Harry and Tabby’s dates. Her head on his shoulder. Flirting on car rides. Restaurant debacles. The beach. Holding hands. Staring with affection and sometimes confusion. Kissing. Sigh. I was totally brought back to being in my twenties and going on fun dates and bantering and falling in love.

Every facet of The Last Word was done well. The characters were developed appropriately for their roles (Tabby’s mom was hilarious!), and, for the most part, they were likeable. (Ex-boyfriend/ex-editor was hate-able in a wonderful way.) The plot drove forward at a respectable speed. Everyone’s relationships made sense. Natural dialogue and excellent writing made for easy reading. I’m impressed, especially knowing that Carina UK, an imprint of the publisher Harlequin, is only a year old! Well done, A.L. Michael and editors.

The only interruptions to the flow of this terrific read were the drinking and weed-smoking binges. They aren’t really my scene, but I see how it could make sense if you’re in your twenties, living in the city with roommates also in their twenties.

Honestly, I know it’s a good book when at the end I shut the kindle cover and sigh with contentment. The Last Word totally did it for me. Tabitha was a spitfire sweetheart, and Harry was so awesome I could read ten books about the man! (A.L. Michael, does Harry have a doppelgänger?)

–Calliope

buy THE LAST WORD

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Review – The Expats by Chris Pavone.

12617758Can you hear that? Well, that’s a sigh of relief that I am able to write a positive review this week, considering that last week’s book left a lot be desired!
This week we have a book called The Expats by Chris Pavone. Set predominantly in Luxembourg and Paris, The Expats follows a family that move to Luxembourg for a career opportunity, and the trouble that soon begins. Kate and Dexter Moore seem to be your average couple caught up in DC’s rat-race, however, Kate is ex CIA with a lot of history. When they get to Luxembourg and begin to mingle with the expat community, Kate soon becomes suspicious of another American couple, and begins to investigate. What follows, will take Kate and Dexter on an exciting, and at times perilous, journey throughout Europe. Is this new couple dangerous? Are things all that they seem?
Ok, granted, the premise may sound a little familiar within the countless other novels in the espionage thriller genre, but what gives this the edge is the real experience behind the writing. Chris Pavone has himself been an expat in Europe, and this really shows in the writing. Being an expat myself, I could definitely relate to these characters, their sense of apprehension and that feeling of not being grounded.
The pace and tone of this novel was perfect for the genre – not too slow, and not too fast – an intelligent thriller. Thrillers are my go-to for an easy fluff read and this hit the mark. Saying that however, this novel also crossed genre boundaries by examining how people cope in a relationship where secrets rife. In an unknown country, with friends who you can’t necessarily trust, or even a spouse, how do you cope? What runs through your mind? What influences your actions? Well, Pavone attempts to give these questions some answers in the midst of creating an exciting espionage thriller.
If you are looking for a fairly quick, but thrill seeking read, then definitely give this one a go, especially with it being only $1.99 at the moment!

‘Till next time my lovely readers,

Pegasus

The Expats: A Novel

Review: Before We Kiss by Susan Mallery

20140419-225500.jpg The latest Fool’s Gold romance has girl next door Dellina trying not to fall in love with strong, silent, private Sam. Their romance starts off slow, heats up, cools down, and ends with a public announcement no one expects. I loved it!

I also liked this book for the camaraderie of Taryn and the football guys she works with, and the consistent support the women provide to each other. There’s something to be said for knowing there’s always someone to rely on, just a block or two away.

Before We Kiss has a lot of, um, instructions for intimacy. Graphic ones. Ones that will make you uncomfortable, and not always in a bad way. 😉 Sometimes Sam’s mother tells someone something no one wants to hear, and other times her candid sex conversations are quite educational. Be prepared!

If you’re an animal lover, this is the Susan Mallery book for you. A major subplot involves Larissa and her compulsion to help animals. By the end of the book, at least two main characters become grateful pet owners. Meow. Woof. 🙂

This was yummy icing on the cake of a week’s worth of reading Susan Mallery. In a few months I’ll be reviewing more, as I have a permanent place in my heart for Fool’s Gold, its caring women, and its smokin’ hot…. I mean LOVING… men.

–Calliope

Buy BEFORE WE KISS

Review: Very Valentine by Adriana Trigiani

veryvalentineOh dear me…I love this type of book. I won’t lie and say that there were things about Valentine, the main character of this novel, that didn’t bother me….because there were. She was annoying in some ways. She was somewhat self-centered. However, that fit the character perfectly. It fit the family perfectly. There is just so much going on with this huge Italian family. Trigiani made them come to life! They all seemed real! It’s not every day that an author can make you a bit annoyed with the heroine, and yet you love her all the same. Trigiani is sure to be a new favourite of mine. I seriously can not wait to read the other books in this series! I am already sad that there is a wait list for the next book. I did not want this book to end. I can’t wait to read Trigiani’s other books as well! She’s been on my TBR list for so long…I am actually really pissed at myself for not reading anything by her sooner!

This book is the type that I really wish I could find more of. This is not bogged down with drama. It’s not bogged down with romance. It’s not bogged down with too many details. Nor is it stripped of all the details you want. It’s not bogged down with any one thing or lacking something else. it’s just enough of everything to keep you interested, but yet you don’t have to “think” too much. This is exactly the type of contemporary fiction I love….It’s like being at a very well done buffet Sunday dinner. Most buffets are total crap. Face it. Stuff sits under the lights too long. It’s undercooked, because many times the establishment knows it’s going to cook under the lights anyway….it’s over crowded. The staff couldn’t care less about your service. The food is bland. There’s too much salad. Or too much fried crap. It’s impossible to choose which dessert you want. So you just grab 3 different types. You feel rushed to eat as much as you can. As fast as you can. Like all the crap food is just going to disappear or something. You end up leaving bloated and over satisfied. But we keep going back. Why? Because every now and then, you find one…well…the food is perfect. They even cook your food choice to order. Your every need is seen to right away. You know exactly what you want and it’s right where it should be. You’re enjoying it so much that you actually take your time and enjoy every single bite….and you’re able to walk away with the knowledge that you can go back for more any time you want…..Well that is exactly how this book felt. It hit all the right spots for me…

And I love Adriana Trigiani’s writing style. Hell, I even enjoyed reading the details about making and designing the shoes. This is something I have not one iota of interest in! Yet, it was written so eloquently that I wanted it to keep on! Oh dear me…I have to shut up already…just go buy the damn book already and it give it a try!!!

Until next time….

Urania xx

Buy it now: Very Valentine (Valentine #1), Brava, Valentine (Valentine #2), The Supreme Macaroni Company (Valentine #3)

Review: Take Me On, by Katie McGarry

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“I can’t convince you to tap out on me?” “No tapping out.”

Would you think I’m silly if I told you I didn’t know what this book was about? I saw the cover and assumed it was about fighters, but I never read a single teaser or blurb. I’m so glad I didn’t. I get all the feels, when I go in blind.

Haley has been beaten down. This poor girl has been through so much, my heart hurt. She used to live a in nice home with her parents and siblings. But after her dad lost his job they had to move in with an uncle, who’s words, towards her, cause more damage than fists would. She used to be a champion kickboxer, until a disastrous night made he decide to never step foot in a gym and swear off fighting. She’s just trying to get by and graduate. She’s trying not to cause any trouble. She takes all the hits, since no one will tap in for her.

West is privileged. He has everything he could ever needs. While his sister is in the hospital, after an accident that almost took her life, he constantly makes one wrong decision after another and soon loses everything he thought he couldn’t live without. He is thrust into a lifestyle of want and then realizes that he was one of the lucky ones.

While we watching West fall apart, we see Haley barely hold herself together.

“Sometimes I wonder if the agony inside myself would disappear if someone would shed the tears for me.”

I just couldn’t believe the things this poor girl had to endure. No one was fighting for her. No one tapped in to fight for her. That is until West came into her life. He steps up and accepts a challenge, on her behalf. But he is in no way prepared for it. So Haley is forced to help him train and let someone help her for a change.

While they agree to help each other out, they want to keep in strictly in the ring. But you know how well that always works. Soon they realize that their bond is more than just about fighting.

I was so angry with some of the characters in this story. I wanted to hit a few people myself. The way Haley was treated made me sick. These people were supposed to be there for her and protect her, but they weren’t doing anything. But I was super excited to see Abby come into the story. I know there’s a secret about her. I’m crossing my fingers for her and Haley’s cousin, Jax’s, story.

~Melpomene

Buy Take Me On (Pushing the Limits)

Review: The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

20140524-182651.jpgTo reread or not to reread…that’s a question that I rarely ask myself. Although many people may disagree, I hardly ever find myself with the urge to reread a book, regardless of how good it was the first time around. Books just don’t usually hold my attention if I already know how it’s all going to end. This book is an exception to that self-imposed rule.

Ivan is a gorilla. Not just any gorilla, but instead a silverback, the most majestic of all gorillas. But instead of reigning over his tribe in the jungles of Africa, Ivan has spent the better part of his life behind a glass wall. For 27 years he’s been the star attraction at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Arcade. He spends his days watching humans, who in turn watch him. He’s formed a low opinion of most humans who he has come in contact with, but he holds the other animals around him in high regard. There’s Stella, a wise and gentle soul in an elephant’s body. There’s Bob, a stray dog who has found his way into the mall and on top of Ivan’s belly for naps. And then comes Ruby, a baby elephant brought into the mall to revive lackluster ticket sales.

The story is told completely from Ivan’s point of view, complete with some of his gorilla-created vocabulary. He’s often puzzled by humans and the things they do, but until Ruby arrives he’s never really questioned his circumstances. Then the memories begin to come along, subtle at first. The taste of a mango, the colors of the jungle, the feel of his mother’s fur, the sound of his father’s voice. Suddenly Ivan’s no longer content with his dismal yet predictable life at the Big Top Mall.

So why was this one a reread for me? One simple reason-I wanted to share the innocence, joy, and sadness of Ivan’s story with my students as a read aloud. The story brings to mind questions that young children seem to innately know the answers to. What are animals thinking? Can they feel emotions such as sadness? Do they remember? And what right do we, as humans, have to dictate how and where they live? Although the book is intended and marketed toward a younger audience, it’s such a beautiful, heart-wrenching story that it will resonate with readers and listens of all ages. The chapters are short, the language is beautiful yet simple, and the well-spaced illustrations are a perfect accompaniment to the story. Buy it for yourself, buy it for a friend, or buy it to read to a young person in your life.

~Thalia

Buy it Now: The One and Only Ivan