Friday, May 29, 2015

Book Review: Dear Emily

Title Dear Emily

Series Forever Family, book 1

Author Trudy Stiles

Release Date December 3, 2013

Adoption. Is it a choice you could make?
For yourself?
For your unborn child?

Live this heart wrenching story with both Carly and Tabitha. Carly and her husband desperately want a child of their own, but are unable to make that dream their reality. Tabitha has been through unspeakable things and must make one of the most difficult decisions a scared and pregnant girl can make.

Dear Emily is told in dual point of view, allowing the reader to experience the highs and lows of both Carly and Tabitha and the decision that ultimately brings them together.

Take a chance on these two very different, but incredible women.

*******
Two women. Carly and Tabitha. They each have suffered life-altering events that have left them both traumatically damaged.

Carly Sloan’s life was perfect until her security and innocence was torn from her. The vast repercussions from these events threaten to destroy her stability and her chances for a happily ever after. Kyle Finnegan comes into Carly’s life at the height of her turmoil. Can he help her find what she desires most?

Tabitha Fletcher has constantly suffered from a very young age. She has been hiding from her past, which was full of sadness, loss and abuse. She has been so brutally damaged that she has very little hope for redemption. The revolving door of men only leads her deeper into misery.

What circumstance brings these two women together and can they help each other heal? And will they each find what they need?

Redemption.
Love.
Family.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18457345-dear-emily
Review

When I initially read the blurb for this book, I was lead to believe it would be an emotional story full of heartbreak and redemption. When I needed a strong and emotional book, I pulled this one off my shelves (can I still say this if I use a Kindle?). I had high hopes for Dear Emily, but I was left disappointed for a few reasons.

First, the writing just didn't work for me at all. This is my first book by Trudy Stiles, so I have no idea if this is her normal writing style or what. If it is, I can't see myself enjoying by her unfortunately. The writing felt juvenile to me. The inner dialogue, the character interactions... all of it felt kind of ridiculous. I found myself rolling my eyes many times and that's certainly not something I expect to do when reading a book dealing with these topics.

The characters just... annoyed me to no end. It might have to do with the writing, but they felt childish as well. They certainly never felt like mature adults that had been through some stuff (if that makes any sense at all). None of them felt realistic. Even worse is there's practically zero back story for any of the characters and that left them feeling one dimensional.

All of that being said, Dear Emily felt like it was on the edge of goodness. There's so much potential here. That is what is most disappointing... seeing a book's potential to be a really good story and watching it fall flat. So, while this wasn't exactly a hit with me, I will likely read the next book, Dear Tabitha. I just won't be reading it any time soon.

Rating

3 out of 5 stars

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday (#4)

"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly event that's hosted by Breaking the Spine. It spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week, I'm waiting on...

Title Carry On
Author Rainbow Rowell
Release Date October 8, 2015

Rainbow Rowell continues to break boundaries with Carry On, an epic fantasy following the triumphs and heartaches of Simon and Baz from her beloved bestseller Fangirl.

Simon Snow just wants to relax and savor his last year at the Watford School of Magicks, but no one will let him. His girlfriend broke up with him, his best friend is a pest, and his mentor keeps trying to hide him away in the mountains where maybe he’ll be safe. Simon can’t even enjoy the fact that his roommate and longtime nemesis is missing, because he can’t stop worrying about the evil git. Plus there are ghosts. And vampires. And actual evil things trying to shut Simon down. When you’re the most powerful magician the world has ever known, you never get to relax and savor anything.

Carry On is a ghost story, a love story, a mystery and a melodrama. It has just as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story — but far, far more monsters.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23734628-carry-on
I love Rainbow Rowell's books! Everything I've read from her has been fantastic. The snippets in Fangirl totally made me want a Simon Snow book. I'm super excited for this one!

What are *you* waiting on this week? Leave a link to your WoW and I’ll be sure to visit!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Book Review: Made You Up

Title Made You Up

Author Francesca Zappia

Release Date May 19, 2015

Reality, it turns out, is often not what you perceive it to be—sometimes, there really is someone out to get you. Made You Up tells the story of Alex, a high school senior unable to tell the difference between real life and delusion. This is a compelling and provoking literary debut that will appeal to fans of Wes Anderson, Silver Linings Playbook, and Liar.

Alex fights a daily battle to figure out the difference between reality and delusion. Armed with a take-no-prisoners attitude, her camera, a Magic 8-Ball, and her only ally (her little sister), Alex wages a war against her schizophrenia, determined to stay sane long enough to get into college. She’s pretty optimistic about her chances until classes begin, and she runs into Miles. Didn't she imagine him? Before she knows it, Alex is making friends, going to parties, falling in love, and experiencing all the usual rites of passage for teenagers. But Alex is used to being crazy. She’s not prepared for normal.

Funny, provoking, and ultimately moving, this debut novel featuring the quintessential unreliable narrator will have readers turning the pages and trying to figure out what is real and what is made up.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17661416-made-you-up
Review

Sigh. I had such high hopes for this book. Sadly, I was left disappointed.

There's so many things that point to this being a winner for me. I love unreliable narrators. I like not being able to see twists and turns and being kept on my toes throughout a book. Mental illness fascinates me. Even if it's an illness I can't directly relate to (as is the case here), I'm always intrigued by books about mental illness. The human mind is a beautiful and crazy thing. The writing was really good. I definitely think it shows promise for Ms. Zappia.

However, there was a lot that didn't work for me. The biggest thing feels like such a contradiction, so it might be hard for me to explain. Things felt so unfocused. Yes, I understand we're working with an unreliable narrator that has paranoid schizophrenia. I understand that not being sure of what's real is part of the story. Trust me, I understand these things. BUT I feel like, at some point, some clarity should come around. And because of the lack of clarity, the entire book feels sort of pointless and disappointing. It just left me saying, "That's it? That's the ending?" I really don't enjoy when a book leaves me feeling so dissatisfied.

Overall, I just don't know how I really feel about this book. There was both good and bad in Made You Up. I do know, though, that I wanted to enjoy this book so much more than I actually did.

Rating

3 out of 5 stars

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday (#3)

"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly event that's hosted by Breaking the Spine. It spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week, I'm waiting on...

Title What We Left Behind
Author Robin Talley
Release Date October 27, 2015

Toni and Gretchen are the couple everyone envied in high school. They've been together forever. They never fight. They're deeply, hopelessly in love. When they separate for their first year at college—Toni to Harvard and Gretchen to NYU—they're sure they'll be fine. Where other long-distance relationships have fallen apart, their relationship will surely thrive.

The reality of being apart, however, is a lot different than they expected. As Toni, who identifies as genderqueer, falls in with a group of transgender upperclassmen and immediately finds a sense of belonging that has always been missing, Gretchen struggles to remember who she is outside their relationship.

While Toni worries that Gretchen, who is not trans, just won't understand what is going on, Gretchen begins to wonder where she fits in Toni's life. As distance and Toni's shifting gender identity begins to wear on their relationship, the couple must decide—have they grown apart for good, or is love enough to keep them together?
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22082075-what-we-left-behind
I can't wait to get my hands on this book (fingers crossed for an ARC)! I read and loved Robin Talley's debut novel, Lies We Tell Ourselves, and I've got high hopes for What We Left Behind.

What are *you* waiting on this week? Leave a link to your WoW and I’ll be sure to visit!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Book Review: Sugar

Title Sugar

Author Deirdre Riordan Hall

Release Date June 1, 2015

I’m the fat Puerto Rican–Polish girl who doesn’t feel like she belongs in her skin, or anywhere else for that matter. I’ve always been too much and yet not enough.

Sugar Legowski-Gracia wasn’t always fat, but fat is what she is now at age seventeen. Not as fat as her mama, who is so big she hasn’t gotten out of bed in months. Not as heavy as her brother, Skunk, who has more meanness in him than fat, which is saying something. But she’s large enough to be the object of ridicule wherever she is: at the grocery store, walking down the street, at school. Sugar’s life is dictated by taking care of Mama in their run-down home—cooking, shopping, and, well, eating. A lot of eating, which Sugar hates as much as she loves.

When Sugar meets Even (not Evan—his nearly illiterate father misspelled his name on the birth certificate), she has the new experience of someone seeing her and not her body. As their unlikely friendship builds, Sugar allows herself to think about the future for the first time, a future not weighed down by her body or her mother.

Soon Sugar will have to decide whether to become the girl that Even helps her see within herself or to sink into the darkness of the skin-deep role her family and her life have created for her.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24202275-sugar
Review

Sugar was my May selection for Kindle First.

I loved this book. It was just so good. It was realistic and honest. It was inspiring without being too rainbows and sunshine (because, truly, life is ever really rainbows and sunshine even in the end).

Mercy deals with a lot of stuff in this book. Her weight, bullying (both from her classmates and, even worse, her own family), taking care of her bedridden mother, and more. All of those incredible challenging things never defeat her, though. With the help of a wonderful new friend, Even, Mercy realizes that she can be more than her circumstances. However, even with a bright ending, things don't end perfectly. Mercy doesn't magically become skinny, her family still sucks, and people are still cruel. Despite that, though, the message is positive and inspiring.

Sugar is one of my favorite reads of the year so far. I definitely recommend it.

Rating

5 out of 5 stars

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Stacking the Shelves (#2)


Stacking the Shelves is a weekly event hosted by Tynga's Reviews.

Stacking the Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in a physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts, and of course ebooks.

This week, I've added these books to my shelves...

Audiobooks

- Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

Borrowed

- Running Barefoot by Amy Harmon

Purchased - Amazon Kindle

- The Other Sister by Leann Davis
- Sugar by Deirdre Riordan Hall (Kindle First)

Share your links to your Stacking the Shelves in the comments and I’ll be sure to visit!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Book Review: Running Barefoot

Title Running Barefoot

Author Amy Harmon

Release Date April 5, 2012

When Josie Jensen, an awkward 13-year-old musical prodigy, crashes headlong into new kid Samuel Yazzie, an 18-year-old Navajo boy full of anger and confusion, an unlikely friendship blooms. Josie teaches Samuel about words, music, and friendship, and along the way finds a kindred spirit. Upon graduation, Samuel abandons the sleepy, small town in search of a future and a life, leaving his young mentor behind. Many years go by, and Samuel returns to find his old friend in need of the very things she offered him years before. Their roles reversed, Samuel teaches Josie about life, love, and letting go.

Deeply romantic and poignant, 'Running Barefoot' is the story of a small town girl and a Native American boy, the ties that bind us to our homes and families, and the love that gives us wings.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17412065-running-barefoot
Review

I've read a few Amy Harmon books before, but I think this one might be my favorite so far.

My heart feels full to bursting after finishing Running Barefoot. That's exactly how I *want* to feel after finishing a romance book. And this is such a beautiful book. I know I won't be able to do it justice.

I love Amy Harmon's writing. She crafts her story slowly, building a deep relationship between Josie and Samuel. It takes a while for them to come together, but this book is more about the journey than it is the destination. This is the kind of romance that I love to read about.

I also greatly enjoyed the roles that classical music and Navajo legends played in this book. I've read a few reviews that thought they were overdone, but I disagree. I found the information interesting and felt that it added another layer to Josie and Samuel's relationship (I liked that they each had something to share and teach the other about).

Rating

5 out of 5 stars

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday (#2)

"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly event that's hosted by Breaking the Spine. It spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week, I'm waiting on...

Title Even When You Lie to Me
Author Jessica Alcott
Release Date June 9, 2015

Charlie, a senior, isn't looking forward to her last year of high school. Another year of living in the shadow of her best friend, Lila. Another year of hiding behind the covers of her favorite novels. Another year of navigating her tense relationship with her perfectionist mom.

But everything changes when she meets her new English teacher. Mr. Drummond is smart. Irreverent. Funny. Hot. Everyone loves him. And Charlie thinks he's the only one who gets her.

She also thinks she might not be the only one with a crush.

In this stunning debut, Jessica Alcott explores relationships-and their boundaries-in a way that is both searingly honest and sympathetic.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18740851-even-when-you-lie-to-me
Like last week's WoW, this is another book that I found while browsing Goodreads and it's another debut. I'm excited about Even When You Lie to Me because I'm fan of books about student-teacher relationships (Unteachable is probably my favorite).

What are *you* waiting on this week? Leave a link to your WoW and I'll be sure to visit!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Book Review: Luckiest Girl Alive

Title Luckiest Girl Alive

Author Jessica Knoll

Release Date May 12, 2015

HER PERFECT LIFE IS A PERFECT LIE.

As a teenager at the prestigious Bradley School, Ani FaNelli endured a shocking, public humiliation that left her desperate to reinvent herself. Now, with a glamorous job, expensive wardrobe, and handsome blue blood fiancé, she’s this close to living the perfect life she’s worked so hard to achieve.

But Ani has a secret.

There’s something else buried in her past that still haunts her, something private and painful that threatens to bubble to the surface and destroy everything.

With a singular voice and twists you won’t see coming, Luckiest Girl Alive explores the unbearable pressure that so many women feel to “have it all” and introduces a heroine whose sharp edges and cutthroat ambition have been protecting a scandalous truth, and a heart that's bigger than it first appears.

The question remains: will breaking her silence destroy all that she has worked for—or, will it at long last, set Ani free?
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22609317-luckiest-girl-alive
Review

I admit it. The sole reason I requested this book from Netgalley was the comparison to Gone Girl. I love that book. I love it hardcore. Yes, I know that a lot of times comparisons are unjustified and generally leave you feeling very disappointed. However, I had to take the chance. While I thoroughly enjoyed this book, I wouldn't compare it to Gone Girl (though I suppose I can see the similarities).

Luckiest Girl Alive is a solid book. It captured and held my attention from the very beginning. This book needed my attention. I just had to keep reading and find out what happened. I kept waiting for the BIG twist, the huge reveal... and it just never came. Yes, there is a twist or two. That's true. However, nothing hit me like I expected. I think that says more about my expectations, though, than the book itself. Especially since I stayed fully engaged and interested in the story throughout the book.

Though not comparable to Gone Girl by my standards, this is definitely still a winner. It's a fantastic book that I'm sure many will enjoy.

Rating

4 out of 5 stars

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

Friday, May 8, 2015

Stacking the Shelves (#1)


Stacking the Shelves is a weekly event hosted by Tynga's Reviews.

Stacking the Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in a physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts, and of course ebooks.

This week, I've added these books to my shelves...

For Review - Netgalley

- Under the Lights by Dahlia Adler
- Chasing River by K. A. Tucker

Purchased - Amazon Kindle

- Don't Let Me Go: a story about falling by Sarah Elizabeth
- OC Me by Kristin Albright
- Never Never: part one of three by Colleen Hoover & Tarryn Fisher
- Remember When by T. Torrest

Share your links to your Stacking the Shelves in the comments and I'll be sure to visit!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Book Review: Behind the Scenes

Title Behind the Scenes

Series Daylight Falls, book 1

Author Dahlia Adler

Release Date June 24, 2014

High school senior Ally Duncan's best friend may be the Vanessa Park - star of TV's hottest new teen drama - but Ally's not interested in following in her BFF's Hollywood footsteps. In fact, the only thing Ally’s ever really wanted is to go to Columbia and study abroad in Paris. But when her father's mounting medical bills threaten to stop her dream in its tracks, Ally nabs a position as Van's on-set assistant to get the cash she needs.

Spending the extra time with Van turns out to be fun, and getting to know her sexy co-star Liam is an added bonus. But when the actors’ publicist arranges for Van and Liam to “date” for the tabloids just after he and Ally share their first kiss, Ally will have to decide exactly what role she's capable of playing in their world of make believe. If she can't play by Hollywood's rules, she may lose her best friend, her dream future, and her first shot at love.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17869397-behind-the-scenes
Review

This is my first book by Dahlia Adler, but I'm positive it won't be my last.

Behind the Scenes was a great book. It was full of the things that I love about YA books. It was adorable, funny, a little dramatic, swoon worthy, and perfectly teenager-y. All those things with an interesting plot and well developed characters? Yeah, I know! Books like this are rare.

If you're looking for a really good YA book, look no further. This is one you need to pick up. And, it gets better. This is the first in a series (and I'm lucky enough to have been approved for the second book on Netgalley)! Under the Lights is set to be published on June 30, 2015. Until then, pick up Behind the Scenes!

Rating

5 out of 5 stars

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday (#1)

"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly event that's hosted by Breaking the Spine. It spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week, I'm waiting on... 

Title More Happy Than Not
Author Adam Silvera
Release Date June 2, 2015

The Leteo Institute's revolutionary memory-relief procedure seems too good to be true to Aaron Soto -- miracle cure-alls don't tend to pop up in the Bronx projects. But Aaron can't forget how he's grown up poor or how his friends aren't always there for him. Like after his father committed suicide in their one bedroom apartment. Aaron has the support of his patient girlfriend, if not necessarily his distant brother and overworked mother, but it's not enough.

Then Thomas shows up. He has a sweet movie-watching setup on his roof, and he doesn't mind Aaron's obsession with a popular fantasy series. There are nicknames, inside jokes. Most importantly, Thomas doesn't mind talking about Aaron's past. But Aaron's newfound happiness isn't welcome on his block. Since he's can't stay away from Thomas or suddenly stop being gay, Aaron must turn to Leteo to straighten himself out, even if it means forgetting who he is.

Adam Silvera's extraordinary debut novel offers a unique confrontation of race, class and sexuality during one charged near-future summer in the Bronx.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/19542841-more-happy-than-not?ac=1
I found More Happy Than Not when I was browsing through books on Goodreads. Once I read the blurb, I instantly added it to my TBR list. It definitely looks like a promising debut and I can't wait to get my hands on it!

What are *you* waiting on this week? Leave a link to your WoW and I'll be sure to visit!

Spotlight: Indiscretion


Indiscretion by Hannah Fielding

Release Date: April 9, 2015

Indiscretion is the new novel from award-winning romance novelist Hannah Fielding. Written in Fielding’s signature style, infused with an old-school Hollywood glamour, Indiscretion evokes the drama and passion of 1950s post-war Spain.

1950’s London. Alexandra, a young writer is bored of her suffocating but privileged life amongst the gilded balls and parties of Chelsea. Keen for an adventure, Alexandra travels to Spain to be reunited with her estranged Spanish family on a huge estate in Andalucía.

Arriving in sun-drenched southern Spain for the first time, Alexandra is soon caught up in the wild customs of the region. From bull fighting matadors and the mysterious Gypsy encampments in the grounds of the family’s estate, to the passionate dances of the region and the incredible horsemanship of the local caballeros, Alexandra is instantly seduced by the drama and passion of her new home.

When Alexandra inevitably falls for Salvador, the mercurial heir to her family’s estate and the region’s most eligible man, she finds herself entangled in a web of secrets, lies and indiscretion. Alexandra soon falls prey to scheming members of her own family, the jealousy of a beautiful marquésa and the predatory charms of a toreador, all intent on keeping the two lovers apart.

But nothing can prepare Alexandra for Salvador’s own dangerous liaisons with a dark-eyed Gypsy.

Can Alexandra trust that love will triumph, or will Salvador’s indiscretion be their undoing?

Order Links

Amazon
Amazon UK
Barnes & Noble

Excerpt

For the week leading up to the masked ball, confusion had reigned on the ground floor at El Pavón. Servants had shifted out furniture, rolled up carpets, prepared tables for the buffet in the dining room, and chandeliers, wall sconces, columns and cornices had been decorated with garlands of bright roses interspersed with jasmine and orange blossom from the garden. As the evening began, and the sweeping strings of ballroom music filled the hacienda, El Pavón seemed transformed into a magical palace.

Although the ball was in full swing as dusk gave way to night, cars were still arriving. They stopped at the foot of the stairs with a rasp of gravel and young drivers in dark-grey suits and caps leapt out to open the doors.

In the garden, an array of colourful lanterns hung from arbours, dangled between fruit trees, encircling the fountains and pools, twinkling with light. While in the great ballroom, overlooking the east-facing gardens, Doña María Dolores’ guests, attired in all sorts of disguises, drank, joked and glided happily on the polished oak dancefloor.

The ballroom was long and rectangular, taking up the entire length of the house. At each end, French doors opened out on to terraces stocked with exotic plants. Down one side, more windows led to the wide green lawn at the side of the hacienda. High mirrors hung between the windows, framed with gilded beading. Supported on marble columns was a gallery with a wrought-iron balustrade where musicians in evening dress were playing romantic dance melodies from tangos to Viennese waltzes.

Alexandra paused on the threshold of the vast room, a trifle overwhelmed by the grand spectacle. All the guests wore masks of velvet, satin or lace, giving them a mysterious air. She watched for a moment as Ondine, Goddess of the Northern Seas, leant against a column, lost in a dream, her head slightly tilted to one side. In her long tunic of turquoise silk sprinkled with iridescent sequins, she appeared to have just risen from the depths of the ocean, her beautiful golden hair draped gracefully about her bare shoulders. A torero in black silk breeches, drawn in at the hips, with a waistcoat brocaded with silk, knee-length stockings and shiny flat shoes, gazed at her. Just as he had decided to approach, another gallant figure, Oreste, bearing his father’s sword in his belt, swooped in first and, bowing deeply before her, drew her on to the dancefloor. They passed a maharani wearing a magnificent sari of dark gold brocade, who was walking towards the veranda arm-in-arm with a American Indian in a headdress of multi-coloured feathers and a jacket of brown suede.

A hand tapped Alexandra’s shoulder. Startled, she turned, almost bumping into a couple of waiters carrying trays laden with appetizing tapas and small glasses of fino sherry. The intruder was a musketeer in a wide soft hat, loose breeches and a leather doublet. A black mask hid his twinkling eyes but she recognized the beaming smile.

‘Well, Cousin,’ he said cheerfully, ‘I didn’t have to search very long to find the most beautiful girl at the ball. I told you I could spot you under any disguise.’

She smiled at Ramón, happy to find a friend in this sea of masked strangers, but it was difficult to concentrate on what he was saying. Her eyes were scouring the dancefloor, eagerly scrutinizing the whirling couples from behind her velvet mask. What, or more precisely who, was she looking for, exactly? After all, she knew nothing of the mysterious Conde, except that he had a deep and seductive voice. Recalling it made her pulse run faster and her knees slightly weak. Could the peculiar episode at Mascaradas have been merely a foolish jest designed to mystify her? Surely Old Jaime would not have taken part in a practical joke? She started with indignation at the idea she might be the victim of some prank. Yet, the more she thought about it, the more that seemed improbable. It would be an expensive joke to play, after all. No, the sheer cost of her beautiful costume had to be proof of the generosity and admiration of her romantic stranger.

As the evening progressed and there was still no sign of the mysterious Conde, Alexandra was forced to admit that she must have been the victim of a practical joke. It was gone eleven o’clock, surely he would have shown up by now if he was going to? Putting aside her disappointment, she told herself it had all been merely a captivating puzzle, one that had fired her romantic imagination and aroused her yearning for adventure, nothing more. At least she had some ideas for her new hero, she reminded herself, and decided to enter fully into the festive spirit, now that she had given up on her elusive stranger.

She didn’t notice the oriental prince, wearing a costume similar in style and colour to her own, observing her quizzically from a far-off corner of the room. A pierrot in a black-and-white silk suit with a collar of pleated tulle and a bonnet decorated with black pompons asked Alexandra for a dance. She allowed him to move her around the dancefloor, with only half an ear on the eager conversation he was making as she took in the sea of colourful guests. It was almost midnight. Don Felipe was paying court to a shepherdess in a crinoline gown. Further along the room Mercedes, disguised as a bluebell, wearing a crown of tiny blue flowers and a dress with a bodice of green velvet and an organdie skirt, with petals of periwinkle blue, was squabbling with Electra, who was sulking in a corner. Isis and Osiris were discussing something with a pretty redhead in Savoy costume.

Alexandra was once again aware of the pierrot, who drew her closer to him. ‘Soon it will be midnight,’ he whispered into her ear, ‘and the lights will go out—’

‘Excuse me señor, I’ve come to collect my wife,’ interrupted a deep, warm voice. Alexandra smothered a gasp. Her heart gave such a jolt she thought it might leap out of her mouth.

The first notes of a Strauss waltz began. Before she could recover, the stranger swung Alexandra into his arms, holding her so tightly to him she was unable to lift her head to see his face. The blood pounded in her veins. She was conscious of his strong, sinuous length against her and the turmoil of her own body as his warmth soaked into her, adding to the heat welling up inside her like a furnace. Her temple brushed against his jaw; his skin was smooth. He smelled of soap, mint and tobacco, indefinably masculine. As they twirled around the dancefloor, Alexandra was carried away by an overpowering tide that left her light-headed, almost breathless. It was as though she were under a spell, a bewitching charm of the mind and senses that had no place in the dictionary of her experience.

Eventually, the giddy whirlwind ended and they found themselves on the terrace. In contrast to the brightly lit ballroom they had left, it was bathed in an almost unreal, diaphanous light from the moon and the glowing lanterns in the trees. They waltzed in silence for a few more minutes, taking in the melancholy softness of the night.

‘I owe you an apology for stepping in just now but I could see no other way of tearing you away from the arms of your too-forward partner,’ he said, in those same ardent, deep tones that had so haunted Alexandra over the past few days.

She caught her breath, unable to reply immediately and all the while hoping he wasn’t aware of the urgent beating of her heart. He still held on to her firmly and she could only look up at him with a smile. The moon disappeared behind a cloud, shadowing his features.

The stranger was almost a head taller than Alexandra. Under his light cloak she could see that his costume was very much like hers. It was in a similar cloth of pure, ivory-coloured silk, yet less decorated. His head was clad in a plain turban, which entirely concealed his hair. In the wide faja, the silk band that clasped his waist, he had placed a navaja, much like the ones Alexandra had noticed at the station in Puerto de Santa María on the day of her arrival, the difference being his was set with genuine precious stones. His shoulders were broad; his embrace firm and close.

As a shaft of moonlight fell briefly on his face, Alexandra’s heart missed a beat. In spite of the half-shadow and the narrow mask shielding his tanned features, she recognized the stranger she had seen on the seafront and then in the Church of Santa María: the man on the prayer stool who had so deeply disturbed her. So it was the same man after all. One man who now made something inside her thrill deliciously at his nearness.

Somewhere far off, a clock struck midnight. An owl hooted, as if in response. The air was fragrant with the sweet smell of jasmine and orange blossom. Masks fell and shouts of joy burst from all sides under a shower of confetti.

The oriental prince leaned his head forward towards his sultana.

‘Will you allow me, señorita?’ he whispered, his lean fingers with infinite gentleness removing her velvet mask. His gaze delved deeply into her large, glowing green irises, reading the emotion in her upturned face as her body yielded helplessly to his touch. A rush of blood coursed wildly through Alexandra’s veins as his hand once more slipped about her waist, pausing before pulling her against him.

About the Author

Hannah Fielding is an incurable romantic. The seeds for her writing career were sown in early childhood, spent in Egypt, when she came to an agreement with her governess Zula: for each fairy story Zula told, Hannah would invent and relate one of her own. Years later – following a degree in French literature, several years of travelling in Europe, falling in love with an Englishman, the arrival of two beautiful children and a career in property development – Hannah decided after so many years of yearning to write that the time was now. Today, she lives the dream: writing full time at her homes in Kent, England, and the South of France, where she dreams up romances overlooking breath-taking views of the Mediterranean.

To date, Hannah has published three novels: Burning Embers, ‘romance like Hollywood used to make’, set in Kenya, 1970; the award-winning Echoes of Love, ‘an epic love story that is beautifully told’ set in turn-of-the-millennium Italy; and Indiscretion, her fieriest novel yet, set in 1950s Spain.

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Friday, May 1, 2015

Book Review: The Dream Jumper's Secret

Title The Dream Jumper's Secret

Series Dream Jumper, book 2

Author Kim Hornsby

Release Date April 20, 2014

Tina and Jamey hope that life on Maui will slow down but soon find their life’s path taking them off the Hawaiian Isle. Way off.

Tina suspects that Jamey’s keeping a secret from her and feels unable to give her complete heart to him. When Jamey leaves for Seattle to see his daughters, she worries that he’ll return to the war in Afghanistan.

She finds herself back at her parents’ house on Mercer Island, helping with a family emergency. A revelation has Tina doubting Jamey’s commitment to their relationship and when the military comes for Jamey, their relationship takes a strange turn. One that is dependent on their unusual shared ability. Dependent to the point of savings each other’s lives in dire circumstances. But just when happiness looms, Jamey has a final secret that must be told to save Tina from Jamey’s worst nightmare.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22052507-the-dream-jumper-s-secret
Review

Sometimes when there's a long gap between the time I read one book in a series and the next, I worry that it will be hard for me to remember what happened or find my groove in the story. Since it's been more than a year since I read the first book, I thought this might be the case. However, there are little details in this book that jolted my memories of the first book and my worrying was for nothing. That being said, you still need to read the first book in order to get the full story.

The Dream Jumper's Secret was even better than The Dream Jumper's Promise. The second book picks up right where the first book left off, so there's no lull in the story. I felt completely immersed this time around (where it took me a while to get into the first book). I felt like something was constantly happening and my attention was focused.

I found it very interesting that the author included some research notes at the end of the book (along with a couple of recipes). It's little things like that that I really love.

I definitely recommend checking out this series. I've really enjoyed it and I look forward to reading the third book.

Rating

5 out of 5 stars

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