Amnesia

Amnesia by Cambria Hebert

3 stars 

“The sun sees your body, but the moon sees your soul.” 

Amnesia is the story of a small town, where one evening a young woman washes up on the shore of the lake. Eddie, who works at the local grocer, finds this young woman and runs her to the hospital. Once she wakes up a few weeks later, she has no memory of who she is and what had been done to her leading up to her ending up in the water.

Eddie becomes obsessed with Amnesia (as she chooses to call herself) as she reminds him of someone from his past. The two spend a lot of time together, but he’s advised by her doctors to keep his suspicions a secret. Also, someone in town doesn’t appear to be happy that Amnesia is around, and has been watching and threatening her.

“Nothing can stay paused forever. Eventually, you have to hit play.” 

I’ve only ever read the book #Nerd by Cambria Hebert, and I enjoyed it very much. Plus, she’s an absolute sweetheart in real life so I’ve always been meaning to read more of her books. Rave reviews and an interesting memory loss premise are what attracted me to this book. That and an outstanding cover. The book really started out strong, sucking me into the story. Where it fell a bit flat for me was it slowed down about halfway through and seemed a bit too long.

On top of that we have a cliffhanger ending, and I kind of already have my theories what will happen in the next book. I would have been happier with a longer book and gotten all the answers right away than wait for a second book. Plus the romance was a bit too sweet for my personal tastes, but that’s just me.

If you want to read something different and well written, this is the book for you. Suspenseful and filled with kind hearted characters, many reader will love this mystery small town love story. It honestly reminded me of a Nora Roberts type novel.

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A Wrinkle in Time

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

4.5 stars!! 

“Life, with its rules, its obligations, and its freedoms, is like a sonnet: You’re given the form, but you have to write the sonnet yourself.” 

This was my favorite book as a child, in fact I devoured the entire quintet throughout my tween awkward years. I remembered I had loved the book, but aside from a few random details, I found I barely remembered what happened. In fact, I read it so long ago, this was my copy:

Okay, so I’m not THAT old, my mom just bought a lot of books from the local used book store. I read too fast for her to keep up with me, normally it was just library books growing up. Anyways, I digress.

A Wrinkle in Time is about a young girl named Meg, she’s very awkward, has many faults (according to herself) and feels like an outcast. The only people she really finds a comfort with are her scientist mother, and her odd brother Charles Wallace. Meg’s father had also gone missing about two years ago, and while the town suspects he ran off with another woman, Meg and her family know this not to be true.

On a stormy evening, Meg and Charles Wallace receive a visitor, the peculiar Mrs. Whatsit. From there, Meg and Charles Wallace, along with a boy named Calvin, get whisked away in a journey to rescue their father. But they must travel through time and space to do so, and face a terrifying darkness to get him back.

“We can’t take any credit for our talents. It’s how we use them that counts.” 

First off, I have to say, with the few exceptions this book really stands the test of time. It’s not dated at all, and except for the mention of a typewriter, this book could take place during any decade. It’s so rare to read a book written in the 1960’s that’s like that, so a solid kudos to the author.

One thing I’ve always loved about the story is Meg, and the idea that she’s not a perfect heroine, and that’s what makes her the hero of the story. It portrays that even though we have faults, sometimes our faults can be our advantage, and that fitting in with everyone else isn’t always the best thing for a society. I love that we have an “ordinary” heroine, who is expected to do extraordinary things, even though she’s not the smartest of the bunch.

It’s a bit obvious, being when this book is written, there are some subtext about the dangers of communism. The evil IT and how it makes everyone and everything the same, or else. I think with this subtext, it also portrays how important it is to be an individual and to make up one’s own mind. In a way, this book is very relevant even present day. To fight against what’s wrong and not succumb to forces who want their definition of perfection.

Once I was able to put my mind to it, I was able to devour this book in a matter of hours. It’s a very fast read and one I believe all ages can and will enjoy.

“Like and equal are not the same thing at all.” 

A Game of Thrones

A Game of Thrones by George RR Martin

4 stars! 

“When you play a game of thrones you win or you die.” 

Wow what a novel!!! I bought my paperback copy of this book years ago, just before the series aired for the first time. I always intended to read it, but in about seven years my reading tastes veered away from fantasy and swayed into romance for a good six years. Now I’m back! And I finally read this darn book. And it only took me four and a half days! That’s a miracle in itself.

Anyways, I apologize in advance because my review might be a bit of a comparison to the tv series, but as I watched those first my brain cannot help but compare. I will say first off, their adaptation of the book, at least for the first season, is completely spot on. I also want to note, I feel if I hadn’t watched the show I might have given up on this book because there were some slow bits that if I didn’t know added up to something else later, I would have been sitting there reading and cursing the author for extraneous details (that turned out to be important).

All that being said, A Game of Thrones takes place in a land where some global phenomenon changes the seasons, making them last longer than usual. They are coming out of a nine year summer, hence everyone saying “Winter is coming” all the time. Lord Eddard Stark is approached by the King, a friend from the past, to become is right hand man or officially The Hand of the King. Despite being wary, Ned takes it mostly from the urging of his wife, and gets sucked into a world of deceit and murder.

“Never forget what you are, for surely the world will not. Make it your strength. Then it can never be your weakness. Armour yourself in it, and it will never be used to hurt you.” 

Based on my knowledge of the show (and yes I am all caught up), I saw hints that Martin dropped in this book that came true soooooooooooooooo much later in the series. So bravo to a brilliantly thought out plot. The beginning of the book was a tad slow, with a middle I devoured rapidly, and then around 600 pages in it slowed down again. There were so many character names thrown around I found myself googling who they were and once seeing the actors who played them, I understood what was happening. I also saw lots of DNF reviews around pages 600 or so and I totally understand where those readers come from, that was a slow 100 pages in the book.

My least favorite POV chapters were Eddard, Catelyn and Bran. They fell a bit flat for me which is sad, but I still like them as characters. My favorite POV’s were Tyrion, Jon and Arya. Basically the characters I love most on the show. Tyrion I absolutely adore and know why the readers love him, knowing his inner thoughts and how friggin smart he is, I just wanted to hug him all the time. I felt a bit more for Sansa when reading from her perspective, she truly was a young girl who believed the best in the wrong people and paid for it. A horrible life lesson, but one that was going to happen no matter what.

Anyways, I am very glad I finally sat my butt down and read this book, from what most readers have told me they only get better in books 2 and 3, so I look forward to reading those. I am going to take a break before charging on, but that doesn’t really matter because I am sure I could take years to read these books and Winds of Winter will still have not been released. Maybe Brandon Sanderson could finish the series? KIDDING. Kind of.

“Fear cuts deeper than swords.” 

Trust

Trust by Kylie Scott

2 stars 

It really pains me to say this, but I did not enjoy this book. Kylie Scott is a go-to author for me, she’s written some of my favorite romances ever, but this one fell flat for me.

Trust is about Edie, a seventeen year old who finds herself a hostage in a convenience store robbery. Having just popped in for a few things, the entire encounter changes her life and leads to her decision to leave private school and her so called friends behind and attend public school.

At her new public school, Edie begins to cross paths with John, a boy who was stuck during the convenience store robbery himself. Because of their bond from the tragic night, they begin to form a friendship that means a lot to the both of them. Edie begins to make other, more loyal friends at her new school as well, and things seem to be looking up. But as can be expected, feelings for John begin to form, but does John like her back?

This book started out really strong, but then around 30% slowed down a bit for me. The pacing was a bit off throughout most of the book, and with an unclear plot for most of it. That combined with a rushed ending made it difficult for me to truly enjoy this book. I also didn’t care for John, he and Edie seemed to have zero chemistry, on top of his lack of personality. He wasn’t developed well enough.

I loved that we got a plus sized heroine, Kylie Scott has always shown readers that beauty is more than a skinny body. I respect that she challenges traditional standards of beauty. Plus sized women are often seen as undesirable, and that’s just not true. I also liked the friendship between Edie and Hang, I love seeing stories that portray healthy and supportive female friendships.

According to the Goodreads definition “Young-adult fiction (often abbreviated as YA) is fiction written for, published for, or marketed to adolescents and young adults, roughly ages 13 to 18.” Considering this book contained graphic sexual content that I in my job as a public librarian would not feel comfortable handing to someone 13-15 years old (and 16 is stretching it), I do not consider this YA. I’ve seen lots of reviews citing this as “YA I actually like to read, and I don’t like YA”. Well….. that’s because it’s not YA. This was a contemporary romance novel meant for readers 17 and up. That’s my professional opinion, I understand if you disagree with me.

Obviously I am in the minority when it comes to this book, there are a ton of favorable reviews out there and I encourage you to read them. Also, everyone has different reading tastes, mine fall pickier than others, so I think you should pick up this book and decide for yourself.

ARC provided by the author via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review 

Ready Player One

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

4.5 stars! 

“Going outside is highly overrated.” 

Ready Player One is one of the best and most unique books I have a read in a long time! The year is 2044, and our world has been torn to shreds by environmental problems. Most people are logged into a virtual reality called the OASIS, a whole universe better than our own. The creator of OASIS left an Easter egg in it when he died, and whoever finds it gets his entire fortune.

Wade Watts is an 18 year old gunter, someone who devotes their time to finding the hidden egg that Halliday left. It’s been five years since Halliday died and the world has become obsessed with 80’s culture, as it was Halliday’s favorite. One day, Wade stumbles upon the first clue, and everything changes from there. Now it’s a race to find the egg, and some competitors aren’t play fair.

“No one in the world gets what they want and that is beautiful.” 

First things first, I have to admit that between some of the gamer talk and the 1980’s talk, a little bit of this book went over my head.

Yeah, I know I know. But, when you are born literally at the very end of 1989, it’s a bit hard to let go of your 90’s upbringing. And yes, I know I just made a bunch of you feel old. SORRY NOT SORRY! Hahaha.
Anyways, I ramble.

This book started off slow for me, but really picked up the more I read. There were times when I devoured whole chunks of it, and then would put it down and walk away for a while. There were bits I needed to skim for my sanity, because I know I will never be smart enough or have the attention span to know what Cline was talking about, technology wise and gaming wise. But this was a really solid book and a solid story.

The past few years I have been reading mostly books from the indie romance community. As of lately I have been distancing myself from that because quality has been lacking. This book proved to me why traditionally published books still work, and that’s the amount of time, editing, and research that goes into a book. Ready Player One was so well thought out, I can’t even imagine how long it took to write this book and this universe. It was simply, mind blowing.

I’ve seen this compared to Harry Potter and The Hunger Games, and aside from the addictive writing style and the competition, this book stands on its own and does not need comparison. It should be setting the standard for comparisons. I think as new as it is, it’s a classic. Or at least a classic in the making. By the end, I found myself wanting to do nothing but read more science fiction and fantasy, and that’s the mark of an amazing book!

This book will having you rooting for the characters and dancing with joy!!!

“For a bunch of hairless apes, we’ve actually managed to invent some pretty incredible things.” 

Jane Unlimited

Jane Unlimited by Kristin Cashore

4.5 stars 

“People tell you that what happens to you is a direct result of the choices you make, but that’s not fair. Half the time, you don’t even realize that the choice you’re about to make is significant.” 

Jane Unlimited is the story of a college dropout, still grieving the death of her beloved aunt, who accepts an invitation from a family friend to stay at her estate Tu Reviens. Before Jane’s aunt died, she made Jane promise that if she ever was invited to Tu Reviens, she must accept. And so Jane embarks on a journey to a new place filled with people she doesn’t know.

Once Jane is inside Tu Reviens, she is confronted with a choice, between five different options. From there, we see what happens with each of those choices, and how something so simple can alter the course of one’s life.

“I feel all over the place, like my parts are spinning away.” 

I read the acknowledgments at the end before I started the book and I am so very glad I did. In them Cashore wrote that this book originally began as a choose your own adventure novel, and I feel that provides a lot of insight into how this book is structured. I can only imagine that this book must have been a beast for Cashore to write, because there are so many intricacies and important facts to remember and she pulled it off so, so well.

First off, I really want to commend the writing in this book, from the very beginning it felt like I had stepped into a classic novel, along the lines of Jane Eyre or Rebecca. And well, it fits the theme of those classics a bit with the orphan coming to the manor. The book did start out a bit slow, but I reminded myself that Graceling did as well, and I knew once I got the hang of things it would flow, and that’s exactly what happened. I devoured this book, finding it very hard to put down.

I also fell in love with each and every single one of the side characters, honestly I wish they all could get their own novel, or at least a novella. But this really is Cashore’s strong point in her writing, I felt the same way about her Graceling series, every character became precious to me.

I loved the first half of this book, to the point where this was going to be one of my top favorite novels. Then I read the second half of the book and while it wasn’t bad in any way, it was extremely…….. odd. To explain the structure a bit, we get our introduction to this world and the characters in it, and then the rest of the book is split into Jane’s five choices, but told as five different stories. I loved the first two stories, I felt they were phenomenal. The third, fourth and fifth…. Were a bit beyond me and not was I expected. One of them was downright terrifying, and the other two were bizarre. Not in a bad way, but I really wasn’t expecting those aspects in this book. I wouldn’t say it took away from my enjoyment of this book, but what was a five star read went down to a four point five if that makes any sense.

“I’m finding that despite everything, I’m glad to live in this universe.” 

ARC provided by the publisher. All quotes in this review came from an advance unedited copy and may be subject to change in the final draft. 

Hello Forever

Hello Forever by Sarina Bowen

4 stars! 

Sarina Bowen writes the best MM romance! Hello Forever is a rerelease of the novel, Never Over, previously published under Bowen’s pseudonym Nealy Wagner. Hello Forever is in the same universe as the book before it, Goodbye Paradise, but features different characters.

Axel and Cax were sixteen years old when they were caught kissing in the woods at church camp, and from that day on they were separated never to see each other again. Years later, Axel is considering taking a job in the sports department at a small liberal arts college in Massachusetts, when he sees Cax on tv in the audience at that schools basketball game. That, combined with the fact that he had no other paying job offers, Axel accepts the position and moves there.

Cax is busy helping out raising his three younger brothers. After the death of his mother, his homophobic father has made it clear Cax won’t be allowed anywhere near his brothers if he’s gay, so he hides himself and pretends to be straight for the sake of his brothers. Axel is excited to reunite with his childhood friend turned crush, but Cax proves to be a bit more skittish. The two begin a tentative friendship, but it’s hindered by Cax’s fears of his father finding out about them. What was a happy reunion may not be a happy ending, but it’s up to Cax and Axel to figure out a solution.

Despite the subject matter, this book was much sweeter and less intense than the book before it. At the beginning it reminded me a bit of Bowen’s other mm romance novel The Understatement of the Year, but once it gets going the two grow apart from there. This is the romance between a graduate student and a faculty member, friends to lovers and second chance romance all wrapped up in one!

I live in a liberal bubble, and I like to believe that people are accepting of the LGBT community, but that’s not really the case. This book was a good reminder that not everyone is tolerant and can embrace love and acceptance, and my heart went out not only to Cax, but to all the other men and women like him who were shunned for who they are. I loved reading Cax’s journey to himself, and I think Axel was the perfect man to help him to it.

I do wish the relationship between Axel and Cax had been developed a bit more, we got a glimpse of their past but I felt it wasn’t enough. Without that, this book borders on the line of instalove, but it didn’t take away from my enjoyment. I honestly hope Sarina Bowen never ever stops writing mm romance, or stops writing in general. She’s a go to author for me and has never let me down. I urge and encourage you to pick up her books if you haven’t yet, and you need to make sure you read this one.

ARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review 

The Impossible Vastness of Us

The Impossible Vastness of Us by Samantha Young

5 stars!!! 

How do you begin to gush about a book you loved so so much? Samantha Young is one of my all-time favorite authors, I’ll read anything the woman writes. So when she published a YA I was intrigued, and decided to give it a shot. I was completely blown away!!!! Young delivers a heartfelt and beautiful story, filled with angst, friendship, love and family.

India Maxwell is alarmed when her flight attendant mother tells her she’s been seeing a man on the other side of the country. Pretty soon her mother is engaged, and she’s whisked away to Boston to live with her soon to be step father, Theo, and step sister, Eloise. India and her mother have never been well off, so she’s in for a world of shock when she finds her new family insanely rich. And because of trust issues from her past, India has no desire to get close to her new family.

While India is adjusting, Eloise is not cruel but also not kind. Eloise’s boyfriend Finn appears to dislike India as well. All India wants is to be on top, and to get enough extracurricular’s to get into a good college. But as time goes by, feelings thaw between the two girls and a tentative relationship forms.

This book wasn’t anything like I expected in the best possible way. India had such a presence on the page, I absolutely adored her, flaws and all. There’s something about a girl trying so hard to be strong that I find endearing, and I felt for her and wished for her to succeed the entire time I was reading.

While this is a young adult romance, my favorite part of the book was the themes of friendship and family. People need more than just romantic love to feel supported in life, and I loved being on India’s journey to find her forever friendships and her way to a new family.

I cannot recommend this book enough, it’s one of the best books I’ve read this year. So if you find yourself curious about this book, just do yourself a favor and buy it and read it. You won’t regret it.

Into the Water

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

1 star

First things first, I want to point out how very rare it is for me to rate a book 1 star. In fact, in the last 5 years, I have read a total of 1,257 books, and only rated 20 of them with a 1 star. That’s 0.015%. So before all of you jump on me, or the trolls come running, know that I just hated this book that much.

I will give this book 1 thing, and 1 thing only: Paula Hawkins is an amazing writer. Her words flow across the page, and it’s why I continued to read this book. The writing basically deceived me into thinking this was better than it was.

I’m going to break down what didn’t work for me:

-the beginning is extremely confusing, multiple POVs and no context of the character. Made it hard to keep track of things.

-This book could have been MUCH shorter, needs a heavy dose of cuts/editing.

-about 170 pages in and there still WAS NO PLOT. I mean, how can you write 170 pages of a book, and not have a coherent plot in place?

-It was about 250 pages in that I began to get irrationally angry that I was reading this book. It wasn’t going anywhere, all the “twists” were obvious. It followed so many cliches.

Basically, to me other than the writing there were no redeeming qualities. I never read Girl on the Train, I only saw the movie, but I can guarantee I won’t be reading anything by this author in the future. She sent me into a rage (it’s rare, but it does happen).

Oversight Blog Tour

OVERSIGHT by Santino Hassell

Series: The Community, Book #2

Publisher: Riptide Publishing

Release Date (Print & Ebook): June 26th, 2017

Length (Print & Ebook): 242 pages

Subgenre: Romantic Suspense, Paranormal 

Publisher: http://riptidepublishing.com/titles/oversight

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30364801-oversight

Book Blurb:

Spoiler Alert! The following blurb contains spoilers for Insight, book one of The Community.

Holden Payne has it all . . . or so he thinks. As heir to the founder of the Community—an organization that finds, protects, and manages psychics—he’s rich, powerful, and treated like royalty. But after a series of disappearances and murders rock the Community, he’s branded the fall guy for the scandal and saddled with a babysitter.

Sixtus Rossi is a broad-shouldered, tattooed lumbersexual with a man-bun and a steely gaze. He’s also an Invulnerable—supposedly impervious to both psychic abilities and Holden’s charms. It’s a claim Holden takes as a challenge. Especially if sleeping with Six may help him learn whether the Community had more to do with the disappearances than they claimed.

As Holden uncovers the truth, he also finds himself getting in deep with the man sent to watch him. His plan to seduce Six for information leads to a connection so intense that some of Six’s shields come crashing down. And with that comes a frightening realization: Holden has to either stand by the Community that has given him everything, or abandon his old life to protect the people he loves.

 

Takeaways from the book:

  • Learning to trust people even if it’s someone you least expect to be on your side.
  • Learning that sometimes loyalty isn’t forever.
  • Psychic abilities don’t make the characters powerful in terms of strength, but it helps them to see the world around them clearer including their love interests.

Quotes from the book:

 

  • “Employer? The Community is my employer. You own this night club, and that’s fine, but I don’t work for you.”

 

  • Six just stared at him. This beautiful personification of blankness but with burning black eyes.

 

  • He was drawn in by the strength of Six, and when that bubble wrapped around him again, it felt almost safe enough for him to break.

 

  • Without the invisible antenna of his gift picking up signals from everything around them, every touch was intensified in a way Holden had never experienced. He felt anchored to the world. To Six.

 

  • He didn’t want to end this kiss. He wanted Six to keep exploring the inside of his mouth with a delightfully frantic lack of finesse, and he wanted a genuine fucking smile once they were done.

 

Excerpt 

Six was sitting behind the desk, once again clad in a skintight polo buttoned up all the way but this time paired with cargo pants. As he sat on the edge of the chair with his thighs spread, Holden was waiting for all those muscles to burst the seams.

“Why do you dress like an extra from Jersey Shore?”

“I’d have to pop my collar for that.” He only paused in his typing when a surprised laugh fell from Holden’s mouth. Raising an eyebrow at me, Six said, “Was I not supposed to get the reference?”

“Well, you’re a cyborg so I didn’t think you would.”

Six turned in the chair so he was facing Holden. He had on his default neutral face, but a slight twitch of his brow and lip betrayed possible amusement at the comment. Was there some getting through to him after all, or were they destined to stare at each other in mutual blankness to see who could emote the least for the next… however long he’d be here as Holden’s handler?

“Not having an empathy chip doesn’t make me a cyborg. There are plenty of ways to figure someone out without feeling any of their vibes.”

Holden crossed his arms over his chest and leaned against the wall next to the desk. “As someone who was born with an empathy chip with elephantiasis, color me skeptical.”

Six mirrored his post, crossing his arms and leaning back in the chair with his thighs spread. The view of thick thighs and a good sized bulge were a temptation Holden didn’t try to resist. He glanced down twice before managing to hold Six’s steady gaze.

 

Author Bio:

 

Santino Hassell was raised by a conservative family, but he was anything but traditional. He grew up to be a smart-mouthed, school cutting grunge kid, then a transient twenty-something, and eventually transformed into an unlikely romance author.

 

Santino writes queer romance that is heavily influenced by the gritty, urban landscape of New York City, his belief that human relationships are complex and flawed, and his own life experiences.

 

Connect with Santino: Website | Twitter | Instagram | FB Group | FB | GR | Tumblr

 

After All

After All by Karina Halle

4 stars 

After All is a standalone spin off of the book Before I Ever Met You, with characters featured in that book. Alyssa is a curvy and sassy office assistant, Emmett an actor making his comeback. They are both part of the bridal party for their friends Will and Jackie, and they meet the day of the wedding. Right off the bat Emmett is attracted to Alyssa, he loves her prickly and spitfire personality, and Alyssa is attracted to Emmett against her better judgement. The two end up having a one night stand and expect to never see each other again. But a tabloid gets pictures of the two of them at the wedding, and they look like a couple. So Emmett, needing some good PR, asks Alyssa to be his fake girlfriend. From there, the lines get blurred.

I always enjoy Karina Halle romances, she never fails to deliver a great story. I loved Alyssa as a heroine, she didn’t fit into the typical role being abrasive and outspoken, as well as being a size ten. It goes to show that not every heroine is a simpering girl that plays doormat to the hero. Alyssa held her own, she knew when to push and when to let go, and I admired her. Emmett is a complicated hero with a damaged past, just the kind of guy readers enjoy to watch fall in love. He challenged Alyssa and thought she was beautiful.

I’m glad we got this story from Halle, it was a nice surprise to get a second book in the BIEMY univserse. I know Tiffany has a boyfriend, but I cannot help but want to get a book for her too. Make this book your next summer romance read!

ARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review