Review: The Last Word by A. L. Michael

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?)



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,


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.



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


“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.


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.


Buy it Now: The One and Only Ivan

Preview: Hope at Dawn, by Stacy Henrie


“My love is fully and completely yours.”

Let me just say, I am learning to love these historical romances lately. This book is no exception. I’ll admit, I only wanted to read it because of the cover, It’s just gorgeous. And I assumed it was about a war, from the title, because I never read the blurb…again. This was also another book that is really hard to write about. I want to tell you the entire story, or just type out, “Read it.” But alas, I must do my best.

This book takes place toward the end of WWII and shows what the German-Americans had to deal with. The prejudices and silly laws were only a small part of what really went on in this story. But some of these things I never heard about. For instance, I learned that there was a law that you couldn’t speak German in public. Seriously?!?! These poor people couldn’t even talk to each other, in a language that was easier for them. Unreal.

But let me get back to the story…Livy left college early to come home and help on her family’s farm, while her older brothers went off to fight in the war. But needing to help out more, she found a job as a teacher, far from home, but was willing to move anywhere if it meant helping her parents. What she never expected was teaching German-American children and trying to stay neutral, during these very difficult times.

Friedrick, was home on a deferment, since his father was dying. So he was in charge of his house. He would do anything to prove his loyalty to his country, America. But some in the towns want them out. And they will do anything to make them leave. For instance, buy war bonds, or face jail time.

Friedrick starting help out at the school and found himself smitten with Livy. But knowing that they can’t ever be together, he tries to stay away. He keeps his friendship secret, so she can’t get into trouble, like the last teacher. But unfortunately, trouble seems to find them anyways.

“Standing for the truth will always come at a price, Friedrick, whether it is being bold and sure or silent and strong. Neither one is easy.”

This was a roller coaster of emotions. One moment, I was feeling so happy that they were possibly going to together, then the next minute something horrible happens. I was on the verge of my seat, half the time. I was just fascinated with all the historical information throughout this book. But mostly, I loved the sweetness and slow buildup of their relationship. I would call this a christian historical romance. There was a lot of praying and Bible reading, which I found refreshing. And there was definitely enough heartache to keep my tears flowing also. A complete ride.

What these two people had to endure, in the name of true patriotism and true love, was was just wild. But they would do it over and over, if it meant they could be together.

Knowing that this book is #1 in a series, makes me so very happy. I can’t wait to read the next book, Hope Rising, in December.


I received this ARC, for an honest review.

Releases June 24

Buy Hope at Dawn (Of Love and War) now

B&N has Hope at Dawn for preorder.

Review: Unmasking Juliet by Teri Wilson

20140522-211508-76508850.jpg This Juliet faces off with Leo, not Romeo… but their respective families have been in a feud for decades, just like the Montagues and Capulets. Both families make chocolate, and Juliet and Leo find themselves competing against each other at several chocolate competitions. In between trying to best each other, they do a little talking, a little getting to know each other, and a little kissing. Wait until you see what their families think!

I loved these characters! Juliet is strong, sassy, and sweet. Leo is romantic, gentle, and persistent. They each have outspoken relatives that remind me of a big Italian Sunday dinner…. you know, the mom who can stop a train with her glare, the cousin who “by mistake” spills secrets over dessert, the uncle who isn’t quiiiiiite right. These people are heartwarming, charming, and funny.

Know what else is great about Unmasking Juliet? The chocolate. Truffles. Hot chocolate. Caramel chocolate with sea salt. Chocolate covered strawberries. Chocolate bars. More truffles.

This book starts with a masked ball and ends with a happily-ever-after. The middle is magical… and delicious.



Preview: Flat-Out Celeste, by Jessica Park


“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”

Whether you were charmed by Celeste in Flat-Out Love or are meeting her for the first time, this book is a joyous celebration of differences, about battling private wars that rage in our heads and in our hearts, and—very much so— this is a story about first love.

For high-school senior Celeste Watkins, every day is a brutal test of bravery. And Celeste is scared. Alienated because she’s too smart, her speech too affected, her social skills too far outside the norm, she seems to have no choice but to retreat into isolation.

But college could set her free, right? If she can make it through this grueling senior year, then maybe. If she can just find that one person to throw her a lifeline, then maybe, just maybe.

Justin Milano, a college sophomore with his own set of quirks, could be that person to pull her from a world of solitude. To rescue her—that is, if she’ll let him.

Together, they may work. Together, they may save each other. And together they may also save another couple—two people Celeste knows are absolutely, positively flat-out in love.

I loved Flat-Out Love and Flat-Out Matt. Heck, I even cried when reading those! But nothing prepared me for what this book would do to me. Nothing prepared me for the heartbreaking feelings of loneliness, Celeste would show us. The feelings of trying to fit the mold that world has put on us, was almost more than I could handle. The feelings of wanting to find that perfect person, who will accept you, warts and all, and love you for them.

Celeste know she’s different. She tries to blend in and go unnoticed. She wishes she had friends, but thinks she’s too different and people won’t “get her”. Getting through high school is just the next step in her life. She’ll go to college, because that’s just what comes next. But what she wasn’t planning on, was Justin Milano. Meeting him throws a wrench in her plan and makes her start to think about other things besides school.

Justin is just the best. When we first meet him, I thought he was perfect. Outgoing. Crazy. Silly. But under that silliness was a boy made just for Celeste.

“You’re in a war.”

It was a painfully accurate way to describe her state. “I am.”

“I understand that. There are battles, some greater than others. But they are worth getting through.”He held her tighter. “This is the fight, Celeste. You’re in the middle of it. I feel that.”

“Because you have endured your own?”

Yes. I got through mine, and you will get though yours.”

For some people, this is a romance. It’s about a young quirky girl who meets a young quirky boy and live happily ever after. But this story was so much more. It’s about being yourself. It’s about letting people in, even though you’re scared. It’s about never giving up on yourself. It’s about letting go and seeing where the wind may take you. And, of course, it has a bit of love.

There are no words to explain how I felt when I finished reading this book. To say I loved it, doesn’t even come close. I am sitting here sobbing and can’t stop. When I thought Jessica’s, Left Drowning, gripped me, that was nothing compared to this. NOTHING.

“I found my hinge, Matty.”

On a personal note, I love someone who could easily be Justin or Celeste. Heck, in high school, either one of them could’ve been me. So as I was reading my heart was shattering. The feelings of helplessness and longing were almost too much to bare. I know my loved one has felt this way. The feelings of trying to change, as to appear “normal”, and it making no difference, almost crippled me. I felt horrible!! Because in fact, I actually encouraged the “acting normal” a few times. Now I realize this is fiction, but this gave me a glimpse into the workings of my loved one. Never again will I be like that. People should be able to be themselves, no matter what others think. High school sucks. Truly, it does.

This book also gave me hope that there is the perfect mate for my loved one. The perfect person to hold them together when the world tears them apart. The perfect person to calm and focus them, when things get out of control. The perfect person to love them, when they feel no one ever could.

I received this ARC, for an honest opinion. So again I’ll say, my honest opinion is, that this was way more than a NA romance book to me, it was life changing.


Buy Flat-Out Celeste (Flat-Out Love)

Buy Flat-Out Love

Buy Flat-Out Matt (Flat-Out Love)