Review: Beauty and the Clockwork Beast by Nancy Campbell Allen

01 aclo This has to be the one of the most unique books I have ever read. Unique in the sense that I’ve never read Steampunk before. All the talk of gears and ray guns and such was just wild for me. Now toss in vampires, werewolves and ghosts and you have the making a crazy story. Not to mention romance, cuz of course I need romance in my stories. This was just plain fantastic.

When Lucy decided to visit her cousin, Kate, she thought she was there to merely help her get well. She had no idea that she was about to get sucked into such drama. From pushy relatives to ghost hauntings, she has more on her plate than she ever thought possible. Last thing she wants is to deal with a mean, yet handsome, man who seems to be everywhere she looks. I liked Lucy. She had spunk. She wasn’t going to let anything scare her off until she figured out what was making her cousin sick. Not even the big bad beast could move her along.

Miles was fun to watch. Yes, he had is secrets. Yes, he was brash. But he cared for his family and was trying to do the best for them. In the ways of the “beast” it was sweet to see him fall for Lucy, even though he didn’t want to. He tried to protect her and push her away, but she wasn’t taking any of his crap. These two were too stubborn to not connect with each other.

The best part of this book is that it’s clean. As with all Proper Romances, this story has nothing to hide. Teens to adult can enjoy this story without worrying about sexy scenes. I look forward to letting my daughter read this when she’s ready.

I’ll admit, I had no idea what I was getting myself into here. I have no idea what’s “traditional” steampunk and what isn’t. I still don’t know. But what I do know is that I completely enjoyed this story. And if all steampunks are like this one, then I know I found another genre to add to my TBR.

~Melpomene

Buy Beauty and the Clockwork Beast HERE.

Spoiler free review and Giveaway: It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover

01 iewu Imagine all the people you meet in your life. There are so many. They come in like waves, trickling in and out with the tide. Some waves are much bigger and make more of an impact than others. Sometimes the waves bring with them things from deep in the bottom of the sea and they leave those things tossed on the shore. Imprints against grains of sand that prove the waves had once been there, long after the tide recedes.

Have you ever preordered a book, without even a blurb? I mean, the story wasn’t even written yet, but you did it cuz you LOVE the author so much and know that whatever she writes you’ll buy. Well, that was me back in October. I preordered It Ends With Us, by Colleen Hoover, and then I was waiting like everyone else. Luckily I was able to read an advanced copy, so I know the impact this book is going to have and I HIGHLY recommend each of you grab a copy for yourselves. Go in blind. You MUST. Don’t read a single spoiler. Trust me.

To say that I love Colleen Hoover, would be an understatement. I love and read all of her books. I know what to expect when I read them. There will be laughter and love and a nice dose of angst. But with this book… This book is so much more than that. Nothing could prepare my heart and mind for all the emotions that this book would bring out. It Ends With Us is the most real book she has ever written. It’s probably the most life changing one also. It’s real. It’s raw. It’s life.

This book will make you think. The world is not just black and white. There is grey everywhere you look. I can honestly say that I went in reading with one point of view and I left knowing, not that I was wrong, but, there’s just more to a story than you may know.

This book will make you be a better friend. You will want to be that person for someone. The one to listen and give advice. The one who will say what needs to be said, even if they don’t want to hear it.

This book will make you strong and proud. Without saying anything else, whoever reads this book will walk away with the strength to be brave and bold.

I spent a good portion, of my reading, with my stomach in knots. I’ve never hated and loved characters so much before. They were perfect and imperfect. My mind was all twisted. I didn’t think I could fully comprehend this story’s impact, until hours later. Even now, I know it’ll be greater than anything I could think of. I recommend it everyone.

I realize this is probably the most vague review ever, but there is no way I could say anything without saying, well, anything. Just trust me.

Buy it. Read it. Let it change your life.

~Melpomene

Buy It Ends With Us

Enter the giveaway HERE.

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Review: Wake the Hollow by Gaby Triana

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I love fairy tales and folktales and all the assorted retellings & twisted versions that come along with them.  There’s just something about an author who takes a familiar story and puts their own spin on it without changing the basics of the story.  That’s just what you get with this take on an old favorite, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.

Mica hasn’t seen her mother in years, since she made the decision to move with her dad halfway across the country.  But when her mom passes away, it falls on her shoulders to settle things in Sleepy Hollow before resuming her fast-paced life with her dad. When she returns, however, she finds things very much the same while also being very different.  Prejudices against her family still exist, and rumors still run rampant about her mom.  Add in an intriguing stranger along with the legend of Ichabod Crane and Mica has one heck of a mystery on her hands.  Can she trust her childhood friend or is he on the other side?  Was her mom guilty of the crimes everyone seems to believe?  And let’s not forget her dad.  He has his own secrets hidden away.

This was a great story from beginning to end.  The author retains enough of the original story to lend a feeling of familiarity while at the same time blending it with new characters and new problems.  The mystery aspect was strong, leaving me wondering about bits and pieces until the very end. A good read!

~Thalia

Buy It Now:  Wake the Hollow

Review: Swear on this Life by Renee Carlino

01 aa Talk about a book fog. Ever since I saw the cover for Swear on this Life I was intrigued. After my mad love for Before We Were Strangers part of me was nervous though. I mean that book was my #1 book for 2015, so that’s mighty big shoes to fill. But let me tell you, Renee totally nailed it. I woke up early on a Saturday morning, and never left the bed until I finished the book. I never stopped. I was pulled in and there was no stopping me.

SYNOPSIS
When a bestselling debut novel from mysterious author J.Colby becomes the literary event of the year, Emiline reads it reluctantly. As an adjunct writing instructor at UC San Diego with her own stalled literary career and a bumpy long-term relationship, Emiline isn’t thrilled to celebrate the accomplishments of a young and gifted writer.

Yet from the very first page, Emiline is entranced by the story of Emerson and Jackson, two childhood best friends who fall in love and dream of a better life beyond the long dirt road that winds through their impoverished town in rural Ohio.

That’s because the novel is patterned on Emiline’s own dark and desperate childhood, which means that “J. Colby” must be Jase: the best friend and first love she hasn’t seen in over a decade. Far from being flattered that he wrote the novel from her perspective, Emiline is furious that he co-opted her painful past and took some dramatic creative liberties with the ending.

The only way she can put her mind at ease is to find and confront “J. Colby,” but is she prepared to learn the truth behind the fiction?

There are so many things one can take away from the books they read. For me, this book makes me think of regret. Emiline had a very rough beginning in life, and to be honest, I fell like she’s been living in a fog for the past few years. Going through the motions, even though she doesn’t think so. When she discovers that J.Colby is none other than her best friend/boyfriend, from when she was younger, and that he has basically written about her life, she is completely blown away. While this book is technically fiction, there’s too much real life to just let it go. As she reads it, slowly, she starts to relive a past in which she has so desperately tried to forget.

When she comes face to face with Jase, all those feelings come fully out. She decides to take a good hard look at her life and decides what she wants out of it. She makes decisions that I don’t believe she could’ve made without this book’s nudging. Em and Jase’s lives were nothing like the fairy tales you wish for. They were raw and gritty and very real. They learned to rely on each other for their sanity basically. I think after reading Jase’s book, Em starts to realize that there’s more to her than she realized.

My heart was racing and quite a few places in this book. I mean legit racing. I wanted a HEA. I needed a HEA. But not everything in life is happy, so I had to hold on tight and hope. If you like second chance romances, with a hefty dose of angst and emotion, then be sure and grab this book. You can thank me later.

~Melpomene

Buy Swear On This Life

Review ~ The Sympathizer, by Viet Thanh Nguyen

You may think I’m exaggerating when I say that this is perhaps the most original novel that I’ve read in years, but I promise you, I’m not.  Written in an epistolary style, we immediately learn that the protagonist is writing a confession. 

Set in the last days of the Vietnam war, our unnamed narrator is working for a powerful general in the South as they are making preparations to evacuate to the United States. However, our narrator is a double agent who is also working for the North. 

Now, this isn’t your standard thriller. Oh no. Whilst the central plot line is taut and exciting, a good 50% of this novel is made up of philosophical musings. Usually this would bore me and induce eye rolls, but Nguyen offers up some fascinating commentary throughout. The protagonist doesn’t fit into the cookie cutter style spy character, nor does his motives throughout the novel. Being a son of a white French man and a Vietnamese mother, having an American style education, and possessing the ability to understand both sides of the Vietnamese conflict, our unnamed narrator truly reflects his namesake of The Sympathizer. 

I must mention that I listened to this via Audible. I also have the kindle version, but for some reason, I couldn’t get into as much. The audible narration is very good and because the narrator is talking to an unnamed capture, having narration makes you feel like you are listening to to his written confession. 

If you’re a fan of Vietnamese history, liked books such as The Headmaster’s Wager, or simply want to take a gamble on something completely different to your usual read, then go ahead and pick this one up. 

Until next time,

Pegasus. 

The Sympathizer

Review: Death at the Day Lily Cafe by Wendy Sand Eckel


Here we have Rosalie who has the grand opening of her long-sought-after cafe. And what happens? Friend Doris stumbles in all agog that her sister is being accused of murder! Rosalie is no stranger to crime investigation, so she gets right on that, much to the sheriff’s chagrin. 

While Rosalie tries to find the real murderer, she’s also managing employees, keeping track of her health, being a mom, hanging out with the farmer who leases her land, and keeping a bad guy out of her hair! 

This is a cute cozy mystery that also includes romance and family secrets. It’s second in a series, and I didn’t read the first one… so it was hard to feel engaged with all the characters right off the bat. However, I did love the cafe setting, Rosalie’s daughter, the farmer, and the lovely cook! 

-calliope

Buy DEATH AT THE DAY LILY CAFE

Review: Luck, Love & Lemon Pie by Amy E Reichert

27274359Totally gutted over this novel. I read Reichert’s first novel in less than 24 hours and absolutely loved it! I went running to the computer to find more by her! When I was approved for this novel I think I actually did a happy dance!!!

I didn’t stay dancing for long. I sometimes actually like “chick lit”…okay, so maybe this will be the only time I admit to that….

butttttttt….this novel is one of the reasons I will rarely admit it. You have a middle-aged lady who is all but ignored by her husband and children. She gets drunks, basically decides to ignore her family and seeks to “find herself” by doing exactly what has made her feel so unworthy to begin with. Not spending time with her husband, not spending time with her children and ignoring their wants and needs.

No one is saying that you need to devote yourself 100% to others and ignore yourself. However, I feel no sympathy for someone who complains about how they feel unappreciated and then proceeds to go off and “unappreciate” their own loved ones and justifies it as it’s about time she did something for herself.

I don’t think you need another man outside of your husband to make you feel attractive. I don’t think your husband should only find you attractive once someone else does.

I think there is a happy medium and that author took the easy way out and went to the extreme.

Sorry, I absolutely loved her first book…and I will keep her on my radar for the future, but there wasn’t really anything I found to like in this novel. Women often sell themselves short in real life..and then go to the extreme to correct that…This novel is a perfect example of how to do just that…

Until next time…

Urania xx

ARC provided by Netgalley for an honest review

Buy it now Luck, Love & Lemon Pie by Amy E Reichert

Review: The Highlander by Kerrigan Byrne

01 ahi Another epic romance filled with angst, excitement, and so much love I was basking in it. The Victorian Rebels series is proving to be epic and romantic and filled with such rich scenery that you feel like you’re actually in the Highlands.

From the very beginning you are sucked into this story. I’ll admit, the prologue packed a punch that I never saw coming, but it made me grip my kindle tighter and read faster. I just knew this story was going to be filled with lots of emotions.

Mena has to be the strongest woman ever. You met her in The Hunter, so you know what happened to her. Now she has a past that she is determined to keep quiet about. In fact, her very life depends on it. And not even the big scary Demon Highlander will scare her away. She is there to watch the children and find a way to keep the past from catching up to her.

Liam was raised to be this evil, non caring soldier, not to be a kind father. So he needs help in the form of a meek and mild governess. But what he gets is nothing of the sort. You could tell from the very first meeting that he was going to fall hard. Most men would. I mean when you’re forced to have a beautiful woman thrust into your life, something was bound to chip away his hard shell.

This story was was so rich in love, I was just floating in it. Between a father’s love for his children and then falling for Mena, I was a very happy camper.

Now of course life doesn’t always work out smoothly. There will be a fair share of hurt and trials. So much has happened in the past and it takes the love of these two to heal and be made whole.

~Melpomene

Buy The Highlander HERE.

Review: How to Keep Rolling After a Fall by Karole Cozz0

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When I read Karole Cozzo’s debut novel, How to Say I Love You Out Loud, I knew I was on to something good.  So it was with great anticipation I began her new release.   And I just love when I can pass along five-star gems to other readers…

Nikki messed up big time, and she knows it.  After a party (unauthorized) at her house, pictures of a classmate end up on social media. And let’s just say these aren’t your average selfies.  Does it matter that she didn’t actually take and post the pictures?  Not really.  It was, after all, her house and her Facebook account.  Her punishment wouldn’t have been as hard to take if her friends hadn’t thrown her under the bus and left her to take all the blame.

A disappointment to her family and herself, she finds herself an outcast at her old school as well as at her new school.  She resigns herself to just getting by, not calling anymore attention to herself and making do until the end of the year.  But friendships do happen, and love interests do come along.  Nikki’s finding it harder and harder to forgive herself and to move on.  Will she be able to make amends and move forward?

This story takes a very real, very tough look at a topic very much in the headlines these days.  Where does personal responsibility begin and end?  Are you just as much to blame if you just stand by and watch? And how long does it take to earn back the trust of those you’ve disappointed the most?  Another outstanding story from this author!

~Thalia

~Buy It Now:  How to Keep Rolling After a Fall