Sunday, December 28, 2014

Book Review: The Law of Moses

Title The Law of Moses

Author Amy Harmon

Release Date November 27, 2014

If I tell you right up front, right in the beginning that I lost him, it will be easier for you to bear. You will know it’s coming, and it will hurt. But you’ll be able to prepare.

Someone found him in a laundry basket at the Quick Wash, wrapped in a towel, a few hours old and close to death. They called him Baby Moses when they shared his story on the ten o’clock news – the little baby left in a basket at a dingy Laundromat, born to a crack addict and expected to have all sorts of problems. I imagined the crack baby, Moses, having a giant crack that ran down his body, like he’d been broken at birth. I knew that wasn’t what the term meant, but the image stuck in my mind. Maybe the fact that he was broken drew me to him from the start.

It all happened before I was born, and by the time I met Moses and my mom told me all about him, the story was old news and nobody wanted anything to do with him. People love babies, even sick babies. Even crack babies. But babies grow up to be kids, and kids grow up to be teenagers. Nobody wants a messed up teenager.

And Moses was messed up. Moses was a law unto himself. But he was also strange and exotic and beautiful. To be with him would change my life in ways I could never have imagined. Maybe I should have stayed away. Maybe I should have listened. My mother warned me. Even Moses warned me. But I didn’t stay away.

And so begins a story of pain and promise, of heartache and healing, of life and death. A story of before and after, of new beginnings and never-endings. But most of all...a love story.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23252517-the-law-of-moses
Review

I preordered The Law of Moses a few days before it was published. Without any reviews and without noticing it was by Amy Harmon (this is the second book of hers that I've read and enjoyed). I simply found the blurb intriguing and decided to take a risk. However, a couple of days after the book was published I read a review that mentioned it was a paranormal book. Wait, huh? That's not what I signed up for. However, I didn't really know *how* the book was a paranormal story (I wanted some surprise when I read the book), so I decided to go ahead and read it. And I'm so glad I did.

Yes, The Law of Moses can easily be classified as paranormal. It can also be classified as romance. You might even be able to throw mystery in there, too, if you wanted. Genres are important to some people (and there's nothing wrong with that), but they don't matter very much to me. A good book can be a good book no matter what genre it falls into. The reason I bring any of this up is because I don't want people to miss out on an amazing story just because it might not fall into their normal genre. In my eyes, it's so much more a romance than it is a paranormal story (even though the paranormal aspect plays a tremendous part in the book).

Overall, I loved this book. It's a beautiful standalone (I'm loving those more and more) about love and loss, but also about healing and finding happiness. The Law of Moses will be a huge hit for those that enjoy romance, especially second chance romances.

Rating

5 out of 5 stars

Friday, December 26, 2014

Unfinished Book: Vanessa and Her Sister

Title Vanessa and Her Sister

Author Priya Parmar

Release Date December 30, 2014

London, 1905: The city is alight with change, and the Stephen siblings are at the forefront. Vanessa, Virginia, Thoby, and Adrian are leaving behind their childhood home and taking a house in the leafy heart of avant-garde Bloomsbury. There they bring together a glittering circle of bright, outrageous artistic friends who will grow into legend and come to be known as the Bloomsbury Group. And at the center of this charmed circle are the devoted, gifted sisters: Vanessa, the painter, and Virginia, the writer.

Each member of the group will go on to earn fame and success, but so far Vanessa Bell has never sold a painting. Virginia Woolf’s book review has just been turned down by The Times. Lytton Strachey has not published anything. E. M. Forster has finished his first novel but does not like the title. Leonard Woolf is still a civil servant in Ceylon, and John Maynard Keynes is looking for a job. Together, this sparkling coterie of artists and intellectuals throw away convention and embrace the wild freedom of being young, single bohemians in London.

But the landscape shifts when Vanessa unexpectedly falls in love and her sister feels dangerously abandoned. Eerily possessive, charismatic, manipulative, and brilliant, Virginia has always lived in the shelter of Vanessa’s constant attention and encouragement. Without it, she careens toward self-destruction and madness. As tragedy and betrayal threaten to destroy the family, Vanessa must decide if it is finally time to protect her own happiness above all else.

The work of exciting young newcomer Priya Parmar, Vanessa and Her Sister exquisitely captures the champagne-heady days of prewar London and the extraordinary lives of sisters Vanessa Bell and Virginia Woolf.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22238372-vanessa-and-her-sister
Review

DNF at 21%

I vaguely know of the characters this book is based on, but after reading the blurb, I was very interested in reading Vanessa and Her Sister. However, once I started reading, I had a hard time paying attention. The pacing felt too slow and disjointed and I believe that's because it's told in journal entries and letters. While I love stories told like this, I do realize that it doesn't work well for everything. I tried my best to continue on reading until the story picked up, but it didn't happen soon enough to keep me interested.

I believe, though, that I may potentially come back to this book at a later date and time and try again. I normally don't do that for books that I mark DNF, but I believe there's potential here and I may just not have the patience to find it right now.

Rating

No rating since I didn't finish the book.

* This book was received from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. *

Friday, December 19, 2014

Book Review: Chasing the Tide

Title Chasing the Tide

Series Reclaiming the Sand, 2

Author A. Meredith Walters

Release Date December 14, 2014

The powerful continuation of the story that began in Reclaiming the Sand- a tale of love and forgiveness and learning to move on from a past that has come to define you.

Bully and Victim

Friend and Lover

Past and Future

Ellie McCallum and Flynn Hendrick’s story was as painful as it was devastating. But they were able to find within each other an unlikely yet beautiful love. Despite the obstacles that tried to keep them apart.

And together they rose out of the ashes of their tragic history.

Now years after their life changing reunion Ellie is back in Wellston, having just graduated from college and ready to start her future with the man who taught her how to love. However, returning to a town that held so much bitterness and anger was the last place she wanted to start over.

But for Flynn, who is now an art professor at the community college and firmly rooted in the place that gave them their beginning, she’d do just about anything.

Yet it’s difficult building a life when you’ve only just learned how to live.
And love, no matter how strong, doesn’t always conquer all.

Ellie and Flynn must learn how far they are willing to go to stay together. Or whether the ghosts of the past will consume them both.

Because finding a happily ever after is harder than it seems. Particularly when you’re fighting against the one thing that could destroy you.

Yourself.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21914535-chasing-the-tide
Review

I love Reclaiming the Sand. It was a fantastic book and so I was excited that we'd get more of Ellie and Flynn's story.

Though this book wasn't as amazing as the first one in my opinion, it certainly didn't detract from the overall story. Instead, it provides us with more closure than the first book gave us.

And while I did greatly enjoy this book, I would have LOVED more of Flynn's point of view. We see Ellie's struggles clearly, but Flynn's are more glossed over. I, especially, would have liked more Flynn towards the ending of the book. There were some paramount moments at the end and I would have really enjoyed some of Flynn's internal dialogue during those times.

All in all, Chasing the Tide was a good book. I did enjoy the glimpses into Ellie and Flynn's past and seeing how they were working together as a couple living together. I could have used more Flynn, though!

Rating

4 out of 5 stars

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Book Review: Amour Amour

Title Amour Amour

Author Krista & Becca Ritchie

Release Date December 11, 2014

Love is a circus.

"Every day,” he says lowly, “I hold a person’s life in my hands. The circus is based one-hundred percent off trust. I give it all to someone, and they give it all to me.”

The best aerial technique won’t land 21-year-old Thora James her dream role in Amour—a sexy new acrobatic show on the Vegas strip. Thora knows she’s out of her element the second she meets Amour’s leading performer. Confident, charming and devilishly captivating, 26-year-old Nikolai Kotova lives up to his nickname as the “God of Russia.”

When Thora unknowingly walks into the crosshairs of Nikolai’s after-show, her audition process begins way too soon. Unprofessional. That’s what Nik calls their “non-existent” relationship. It’s not like Thora can avoid him. For one, they may be partners in the future--acrobatic partners, that is. But getting closer to Nik means diving deeper into sin city and into his dizzying world.

Thora wants to perform with him, but when someone like Nikolai attracts the spotlight wherever he goes—Thora fears that she’s destined to be just background to his spellbinding show.

This sexy and exhilarating New Adult Romance can best be described as Cirque du Soleil meets the steamy, athletic romance of Center Stage.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22888864-amour-amour
Review

Every now and again, you'll encounter an author (or two authors as the case may be) that just blows you away. Every single book they write is astounding and you fall in love with everything of theirs that you read. You find yourself anticipating their next book before you know anything about it. Doesn't matter what the book is about, you've got to get your hands on it ASAP. Every time you finish their most recent book, you're counting down the days until the next one is released. You might even be a little obsessive. Obviously, Krista and Becca have staked their claim on my list of Favorite Authors. And for a very good reason.

Amour Amour is a fantastic book! There's so many things I could talk about that make this book great, but I don't want to give away any spoilers. However, here are some great, non spoiler parts that I enjoyed...

The characters. Krista and Becca always craft such wonderful characters. They always feel like real people to me. They have flaws and make mistakes, but they are still people we love. Thora's got amazing determination. Nikolai is super sexy (not just looks, either! Who doesn't like a family man?), but still very realistic. Nikolai's family is awesome, too. I love Timo and Katya, especially. All of the secondary characters provide depth to the story, none of them fade away or seem like they're just taking up space.

The scenario. I've never been to Vegas, but I certainly want to go even more now! Oh, and the circus? It's always interested me a little bit, but after reading Amour Amour, I can see myself watching videos on YouTube for hours on end. Krista and Becca make these things come alive in their books. I really enjoy a book that makes me more interested in things in the real world.

It's clear that Krista and Becca's success isn't limited to their amazing Addicted series. They've absolutely hit the nail on the head with this book. Of course, everyone likes more story, but I'm perfectly okay with this being a standalone book (though I would never turn down a sequel... or three). And, as always, I look forward to reading their next book (no matter what it happens to be!).

Rating

5 out of 5 stars

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Book Review: Livvy

Title Livvy

Series Choisie, book 4

Author Lori L. Otto

Release Date December 9, 2014

In her first year of college at Yale, challenging courses and new friends provide a much-needed distraction for Livvy Holland. Beyond the tears–for the most part– she won’t allow the lingering anger she harbors toward her ex-boyfriend to consume her.

Even after taking steps to conceal her identity, Livvy is still very recognizable and popular among her new classmates. She takes advantage of her situation and accepts dates with multiple guys, trying to piece together an image of ‘her type of guy’ that differs from all the good qualities Jon Scott once possessed.

An unexpected letter arrives on Livvy’s 18th birthday, shifting her focus and forcing her to reevaluate all the relationships in her life. She now knows the identity of her biological father, and struggles to make sense of the news alone. Fortunately, she won’t have to.

Just as Livvy’s life begins to normalize, one of her professors provides her with the creative opportunity of a lifetime. Trusting in the bonds she’s made with everyone she loves, she believes she can have everything she wants and makes the decision that allows her to be true to herself.

She was chosen for a reason. Chosen to be a gifted artist that–with a few strokes of a paintbrush–could touch people emotionally; profoundly. Chosen by her parents so they had a place to share their boundless love and devotion. Chosen by her friend so he could return the encouragement, inspiration and affection she’d shown him for so many years.

Livvy Holland will never again take her position in life for granted. She wears the name with humility and respect. She is Choisie.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21420135-livvy
Review

This review may contain unmarked spoilers for previous books in the series.

Livvy was the perfect conclusion to the Choisie series. From first love to heartbreak and breakup to everlasting love and happiness, it's been the ride of a lifetime for Livvy and Jon.

As evident in my other reviews, I haven't always been fans of Livvy or Jon. And I certainly wasn't a fan of Livvy *and* Jon together. It wasn't so much that I just didn't want them to work out and live happily ever after. It was always that I didn't think they were good for one another. In many ways, I felt like instead of Jon helping Livvy to grow and mature, he was overbearing and smothering her. And I believe that Livvy relied too heavily on Jon and wasn't the independent girl her parents raised her to be. So instead of lifting each other up, they were keeping each other down. I never thought any of it was intentional, but it was merely a product of young teenage love. However, the big turning point in all of it, was the summer they spent away from one another in Dear Jon. While one of his reasons for staying away from Livvy was to hurt her (and it did), I also believe Jon was acutely aware of the situation in a way that Livvy wasn't yet. I believe he was able to see the ways he was preventing her from maturing and growing as well as the ways she relied on him that might not have been very healthy. The summer provided, in my opinion, what they truly needed in order for their relationship to grow and flourish as adults. Livvy gained her independence and learned that while she had this relationship and love for Jon, she didn't need it to survive. Jon gained an understanding that space and separation were essential for a healthy and happy relationship.

In Livvy, we see these realizations come light. We see, fully, how Livvy and Jon have grown separately as well as together. In this book, I truly believe that we're seeing the happy and healthy relationship that these two really deserve and have been working towards throughout the entire series. And while I may not have always been a fan of Livvy and Jon, at the end of this series, I can absolutely say I love them and wish them nothing but the best! It's been wonderful to see them grow and mature. (And good lord, I sound so old right now!) Oh, and I don't want to forget, I absolutely love that the last chapter was told from a different point of view than the rest of the book (no spoilers!). It was the cherry on top of a perfect book.

The Choisie series is the spin-off of the Emi Lost and Found series. Starting with the young adult book Contessa, it moves to mature young adult with Olivia and Dear Jon, and ends with new adult Livvy. While you can start with this series, I find (as do others and is recommended) that it's best to start with the Emi Lost and Found series. You'll get the full enjoyment out of the Choisie series that way and, besides, Emi Lost and Found is a fantastic series all on its own.

Rating

5 out of 5 stars

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Book Review: Our Totally, Ridiculous, Made-up Christmas Relationship

Title Our Totally, Ridiculous, Made-up Christmas Relationship

Author Brittainy C. Cherry

Release Date December 13, 2013

All families have secrets, and Jules Stone’s is no exception. Deciding not to follow in her family's Oscar-winning footsteps, Jules chooses to take a more behind-the-scenes career in one of the Top 10 Talent Agencies in Chicago. After being dumped five hours before spending Christmas with her dysfunctional family, she needs a plan to avoid their judgmental eyes.

Enter: Kayden Reece.

Kayden is the black sheep of his family, being the one actor drowning in a world of doctors and lawyers. Never really getting a jumpstart at his acting career or landing a big time role, he can feel his dad’s disappointment soaking into his spirit.

When Kayden gets a chance to meet and sign with a big name agent at Walter and Jacks Talent Agency, he’s ready to prove everyone wrong. Jules stumbles into the building in shambles, ugly crying, and begging to pay an actor a big sum of money to be her made-up boyfriend for five days, Kayden jumps at the opportunity—finally able to say he landed a role.

When secrets start to unravel, Kayden and Jules must learn that all families have their baggage, sometimes co-stars fall in lust, and it’s important to always have invisible mistletoe hanging around.

This holiday season join the two fake lovebirds as they partake in the role of a lifetime.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18715542-our-totally-ridiculous-made-up-christmas-relationship
Review

After reading Pretty Little Killers (a true crime novel), I needed something light and refreshing. Having previously read Loving Mr. Daniels by Brittainy C. Cherry, I decided this would be the perfect thing to read.

This novella is absolutely adorable. It's romantic and funny. It's sweet and lighthearted with a few touches of seriousness. It was exactly the thing I needed!

What surprised me the most was that unlike some novellas (most?), the author fleshed out an entire story with characters that I came to care about and enjoy in such a short period of time. This is understandably hard to do in a novella, but I think it was masterfully executed here. Another thing that surprised me was that I didn't feel unsatisfied at the end of the book. While a longer story could have been nice, I feel like it was perfect as is.

Overall, this was a great read! I was very impressed and recommend this novella to everyone that wants a fun and lighthearted read.

Rating

5 out of 5 stars

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Book Review: Lies We Tell Ourselves

Title Lies We Tell Ourselves

Author Robin Talley

Release Date September 30, 2014

In 1959 Virginia, the lives of two girls on opposite sides of the battle for civil rights will be changed forever.

Sarah Dunbar is one of the first black students to attend the previously all-white Jefferson High School. An honors student at her old school, she is put into remedial classes, spit on and tormented daily.

Linda Hairston is the daughter of one of the town's most vocal opponents of school integration. She has been taught all her life that the races should be kept "separate but equal."

Forced to work together on a school project, Sarah and Linda must confront harsh truths about race, power and how they really feel about one another.

Boldly realistic and emotionally compelling, Lies We Tell Ourselves is a brave and stunning novel about finding truth amid the lies, and finding your voice even when others are determined to silence it.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20579291-lies-we-tell-ourselves
Review

Three Sentence Review

Lies We Tell Ourselves is an extremely well written, powerful historical fiction novel. It perfectly illustrates how far we've come in the fight for equality since 1959 (even though we still have a long way to go). And though the ending was a bit predictable, it far exceeded any expectations I had prior to reading it (from reviews alone).

This book will certainly be one of my most recommended reads of 2014.

Rating

5 out of 5 stars

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Book Review: Lessons from a Dead Girl

Title Lessons from a Dead Girl

Author Jo Knowles

Release Date October 9, 2007

An unflinching story of a troubled friendship — and one girl’s struggle to come to terms with secrets and shame and find her own power to heal.

Leah Greene is dead. For Laine, knowing what really happened and the awful feeling that she is, in some way, responsible set her on a journey of painful self-discovery. Yes, she wished for this. She hated Leah that much. Hated her for all the times in the closet, when Leah made her do those things. They were just practicing, Leah said. But why did Leah choose her? Was she special, or just easy to control? And why didn’t Laine make it stop sooner? In the aftermath of the tragedy, Laine is left to explore the devastating lessons Leah taught her, find some meaning in them, and decide whether she can forgive Leah and, ultimately, herself.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/451220.Lessons_from_a_Dead_Girl
Review

Lessons from a Dead Girl could have been an amazing story. Instead, the book missed the mark and it felt like wasted potential to me.

Unlike many other books that deal with sexual abuse, this book is unique in the sense that the sexual abuse takes place between two peers. It also explores (very briefly, in my opinion) how sexual abuse can be so confusing. How can something be abusive and wrong, but still physically feel good? There's also the point that an abused person possibly (but certainly not always) continues the cycle and abuses someone else.

So, what didn't I enjoy about this rather unique story? It all felt very surface to me. Of course, I'm not sure how much truth depth could have been explored in such a short book (~215 pages), but we're left with not really knowing anything about our characters other than how sexual abuse has completely thrown their life off a normal course. And, honestly, I felt like Leah's death was only used to end the story rather abruptly (and poorly) instead of providing some sort of resolution for both girls.

Rating

2 out of 5 stars