Category Archives: Book Reviews

Review: A Tangled Web by M.L. Sparrow

Title: A Tangled Web

Author: M.L. Sparrow

Published: February 1st, 2017

Length: 94 pages (eBook)

Genre: YA Contemporary

Source: Author (for honest review)

My Rating: ❤❤❤❤

Japan, 2011

Taiyo is a normal high-school girl living with her Grandmother in Sendai. She goes to school, partakes in club activities and hangs out with her two best friends, twin brothers Ryuu and Kairi. However, her perfect world is shattered when she begins dating Kairi but quickly discovers she’s already in love with Ryuu.

A tangled web of lies surrounds the pair, but everything is suddenly knocked into perspective on March 11th when they are caught up in a natural disaster that devastates the country and robs thousands of their homes, their possessions and their lives…

 

INITIAL THOUGHTS

I have read three of M.L. Sparrow’s books. I have always been offered her books in exchange for an honest review, and I’ve been such a big fan of hers. I’m always intrigued by her books, but this one sounded so interesting. It is fiction, but it takes place during the very real Japan tsunami of 2011. I knew I had to read it. I received this book awhile ago, but after my long break from reading and blogging, I’m still trying to do some catching up. And I remembered this book, so I jumped right in!

WHAT I LIKED

Taiyo and Ryuu’s relationship. I loved their friendship. They’ve known each other since they were kids. It’s so obvious that Ryuu is in love with Taiyo, but Taiyo is so oblivious to not only his feelings for her but also her own feelings for him. Sometimes, this can get annoying in books, but this time, I thought it was super cute. I just wanted to keep reading to see how everything developed and how Taiyo came to the realization that her best friend just may be in love with her and she may even feel the same. Loved it!

Hard to put down! Each chapter ended in a way that made it impossible to put down. It wasn’t obvious cliffhangers. It was more like it was just so well-written that I just had to know what happened next.

How the tsunami and a love story combined to make this story. It reminded me of Titanic. The movie was about the tragedy that happened to the ship and the people on it, but the heart of the story is the romance between Jack and Rose. Same with this book. It’s about a horrible tragedy where hundreds of people died, but the heart of the story is the romance between Taiyo and Ryuu. I love how the tsunami was embedded into this love story.

Gave me all the feels! I cried twice. I won’t say anything else, but it definitely got to me.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE

The length. It is a novella, and I tend to find novellas too short. There was no difference here. I just felt like the pace was too quick, making the story seem a bit rushed. This would have been such a perfect story if it was a full-length novel.

OVERALL THOUGHTS

I really enjoyed it! My only complaint shouldn’t even really be a complaint. It was intended to be a novella, so I really can’t complain that it was too short, but unfortunately, that’s how it felt. BUT, ignoring that, the book was really good. In such a short amount of time, I was emotionally invested. I got attached to these characters. I had to know what happened to them. And given that this book was barely 100 pages, I’d say that takes some real talent from the author. M.L. Sparrow continues to amaze me. I will literally read anything written by her.

4 out of 5 Hearts!


(from Goodreads)

M L Sparrow is currently the author of four full length novels, two novellas and a slew of short stories published in various anthologies. Her novella, A Tangled Web, was a finalist in the 2017 Next Generation Indie Book Awards.

She will write pretty much anything that pops into her head, no matter the genre, and enjoys keeping her readers guessing as to what she will write next, though you can pretty much guarantee that there will be some degree of romance!

As well as writing, she enjoys travelling and has been to some amazing countries, where she never fails to gather inspiration and has an endless supply of ideas for future novels…

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 Reading Challenges Met

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Contemporary Romance Reading Challenge

Full House Reading Challenge

Blog Tour: Review & Giveaway – The Best Kind of Magic by Crystal Cestari

Welcome to the I Heart Fictional People’s The Best Kind of Magic blog tour stop! This tour is hosted by The Fantastic Flying Book Club! Read my review for this awesome book and check out the giveaway! 🙂

Title: The Best Kind of Magic (Windy City Magic #1)

Author: Crystal Cestari

Published: May 16th, 2017

Length: 328 pages (eBook)

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Paranormal

Source: The Fantastic Flying Book Club (for honest review)

My Rating: ❤❤❤❤❤

Amber Sand is not a witch. The Sand family Wicca gene somehow leapfrogged over her. But she did get one highly specific magical talent: she can see true love. As a matchmaker, Amber’s pretty far down the sorcery food chain (even birthday party magicians rank higher), but after five seconds of eye contact, she can envision anyone’s soul mate.

Amber works at her mother’s magic shop–Windy City Magic–in downtown Chicago, and she’s confident she’s seen every kind of happy ending there is: except for one–her own. (The Fates are tricky jerks that way.) So when Charlie Blitzman, the mayor’s son and most-desired boy in school, comes to her for help finding his father’s missing girlfriend, she’s distressed to find herself falling for him. Because while she can’t see her own match, she can see his–and it’s not Amber. How can she, an honest peddler of true love, pursue a boy she knows full well isn’t her match?

The Best Kind of Magic is set in urban Chicago and will appeal to readers who long for magic in the real world. With a sharp-witted and sassy heroine, a quirky cast of mystical beings, and a heady dose of adventure, this novel will have you laughing out loud and questioning your belief in happy endings.
 

INITIAL THOUGHTS

The last few books I have read have just been “okay, whatever, let’s move onto the next one.” But I had a feeling about this one. When I saw the cover, I just knew. I was like, “Ooohhh, pretty. I must have it.” This is not news. I often judge books by their cover. And in this case, I’m glad I did!

WHAT I LIKED

The writing. O.M.G. Okay, I don’t even know how to put this into words, but here is my attempt. Sometimes you just know from the first page of a book whether an author has IT or not, IT meaning a natural born talent to write. I knew instantly that this author does. I remember reading the first page and being blown away. It had nothing to do with the plot. It was just the writing. So creative yet professional yet simplistic. I was beyond impressed. And I stayed impressed for the entire book. It wasn’t one of those start strong and finish weak kind of books, which I have noticed a lot of. It started strong and finished strong, maybe even stronger. I absolutely loved it. Crystal Cestari just might be my new favorite author.

The concept. It’s no secret that I’m a hopeless romantic. The tattoo on my wrist is of the Chinese symbols for “true love.” So, as I was reading the story, I kept thinking, “This book was made for me.” Amber can see everyone’s true love. How badass is that?! And of course, you can only imagine the complications that could arise with this type of gift as well. But I LOVED IT. It is such a unique ability to have. I was so intrigued, and I couldn’t wait to see how everything turned out.

The characters. Amber made the book for me. She had this sarcastic, snarky side to her that I loved. I got the feeling that she didn’t give a crap about what people thought of her, which is admirable. I just kept thinking, “I wish this girl was real. We’d be best friends.” And her soft side came out too, especially when she began falling for Charlie. Speaking of Charlie, he was swoon worthy! I couldn’t get enough of him. He was a trooper. He was thrown into this supernatural world and just kind of learned to accept it without freaking out or judging. And he’s a hot guy…with glasses. How often do we see this in books? Not very often. I love it! Then there’s Amani, Amber’s best friend. I really liked her. I could see her story developing further. That would be awesome.

Amber and Charlie’s relationship. This was perfect, in my opinion. It started with Charlie needing Amber’s help. It was nothing more than that. Acquaintances, if anything. Then, they gradually became friends. And from there, feelings started to grow. Such perfect pacing. Again, the author’s talent truly showed here.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE

Nothing! There wasn’t anything that I didn’t like. This book was so good!

OVERALL THOUGHTS

What a perfect blend of love and magic, of contemporary and paranormal. And what brilliant writing. I can’t say enough about the writing. It was incredible. I fell in love with the author and these characters, and I really hope there’s more to Amber’s story. This could potentially be an amazing series. I already am looking into buying a physical copy of this book. I must have it on my bookshelf so I can stare at its beautiful cover, especially now that I know that the story is equally beautiful! More please!

5 out of 5 Hearts!


It was hard to narrow it down, but here are some of my favorite quotes:

“I know love is real—I KNOW IT—but that doesn’t keep it from being an evasive little bastard that works in mind-boggling ways.” (Ain’t that the truth!)

“…all I can think is, damn, the heart is a hell of a machine. Even when it’s broken, it still finds a way to carry on.” (More truth!)

“You never know what you’re getting into when you fall in love, but that doesn’t mean you avoid the jump.” (I absolutely love this one.)

“Appreciate the journey, because when you get to the end, you’ll only be able to look back, and hope you don’t regret what you see.” (Yes, more wisdom. Love it.)

“Just because you’re having some sort of emotional breakdown doesn’t mean you can’t have cute toes. Rainbow or gold?” (This is why I love Amani. What are best friends for?)

“Amber, I don’t know what’s going on in that head of yours, but I want you to know: every time I’m around you, I feel like a non-fatal firework is lit inside me. It’s magic—actual magic—and you’ll have to forgive the pun, but I don’t want to be under anyone else’s spell.” (Oh, Charlie. I love you. Marry me.)


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With rainbows in my hair and stories in my head, I am a writer drawn to magic in the everyday world.

My debut novel, The Best Kind of Magic, arrives May 16, 2017 from Hyperion. Follow Amber Sand, a magical matchmaker who can actually see true love, as she takes off on a fun and romantic adventure toward happily ever after.

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Each blog in the tour gets to give away ONE FINISHED COPY OF THE BOOK (US/CANADA ONLY). So be sure to enter!

Also, a person may only win ONE book throughout the entire tour.  It’s okay to enter more than one giveaway, but if you win in another giveaway, you need to be honest and decline it.  All the winners will be collected on one form.

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Review: Deceptive Cadence by Katie Hamstead

Title: Deceptive Cadence

Author: Katie Hamstead

Published: June 2015

Length: 323 pages (eBook)

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Source: YA Bound Book Tours

My Rating: ❤❤❤

(from Goodreads)

Cadence Anderson has the perfect definition of happily ever after . . .

Until she doesn’t. A freak earthquake shatters her life as surely as her home, taking away everything she holds dear. She wakes in a hospital to find that her beloved husband and infant daughter have been killed, crushed by the earthquake’s wrath. Disoriented, injured, and alone, Cadence refuses to accept the loss. So when a man claiming to be her guardian angel appears and offers her a chance to go back in time to save her family, she doesn’t need to give it a second thought. She accepts.

Thrust back eleven years, she now faces the ordeal of high school all over again. But this time, she’s armed with all the knowledge of her adult life and the determination to do everything better, from preventing the loss of her best friend to avoiding her original, drama-inducing boyfriends. She’s focused solely on Austin, her future husband, and is content to bide her time until she meets him again.

But then James Gordon crosses her path. Cadence wants to remain single, but James has his sights set. He is determined to win her over, and he’s very hard to resist. As Cadence starts to develop unwanted feelings for him, she realizes he threatens to disrupt everything, changing the future and distracting her from her original goal. Now, Cadence must choose: deny the unpredictable and exciting path James offers her, or stay true to the life she had and is trying desperately to resurrect. Second chances are more complicated than they seem.

Deceptive Cadence combines the soaring emotion of a heartfelt romance with the innovative storytelling of magical realism, crafting a uniquely moving, intricate tale about love and loss that asks: what would you do if given the chance to right all your wrongs?

INITIAL THOUGHTS

I’m so bad. I got a review copy of this book over a year ago. Somehow, it got lost in my stack of review eBooks, and I just completely forgot to read it. Once again, I was looking for a book to cover my Monthly Keyword Challenge for February (it being May now, I obviously failed that), and I came across this book. I instantly felt bad that I didn’t read it when I should have, but then I got excited because I remember it sounding amazing! I get easily burned out with the same predictable plot lines, so this one definitely intrigued me.

WHAT I LIKED

The concept. Omg. I love it. Your husband and daughter die in a freak accident, and you get to go back in time to relive the past 11 years to try and prevent it from happening?! Yes! So many possibilities! So many possible outcomes! I just couldn’t stop reading. And I loved the fact that she was able to see what happened in the first timeline and then how things changed in the second timeline because of the different decisions she made. It’s the ultimate what if? game turned into real life. Awesome!

The beginning. I was literally crying within the first 10 pages. I didn’t think that was possible. This author somehow gave me all the feels IN 10 PAGES! Now that is pure talent. And I don’t mean one little tear. I was in tears for a good 10 minutes. I had to put the book down. Maybe it’s because I’m a mom, and seeing a mom lose her baby girl was just heartbreaking. I couldn’t believe what this book did to me in such a short amount of time. Crazy.

Cadence and James’ relationship. It was real. It grew gradually, from puppy love to the real thing. I love how Cadence gave him a chance even though she knew she would most likely end up with someone else. I love how James changed so much and just wanted to be a better person for her. I felt like I was watching two kids grow up together, learning how to live and love. It was refreshing, to be honest. I’m so tired of the insta-love thing. This was exactly what I needed.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE

The fact that it’s so hard for her to make the ultimate decision. Okay, here’s the thing. (And I’m not giving anything away here. It’s all in the book blurb.) She is happily married with a beautiful daughter. She goes back in time and falls in love with someone else. That’s all fine and dandy. No, really. It is. I love it. BUT, when it comes to making the decision about whether to be with the new guy or your future husband who gives you your daughter, I don’t think the decision should be that hard. Maybe it’s just me, but here is how I look at it. If you choose the new guy, YOUR DAUGHTER DOES NOT EXIST! How can you live with yourself if you choose a life where your child does not exist?! Personally, I have a daughter, and I’m going through an ugly divorce now. If I could go back, even if I met the perfect guy, I wouldn’t change a thing. My daughter is my everything. Even if her dad is a complete ass, I still would’ve chosen to meet him and marry him, just to have her. Just my opinion, I guess…

The pace. At times, mostly in the middle of the book and the last quarter of it, I just felt like nothing was happening. The pace got super slow sometimes, and I got just a bit irritated. Perhaps it was just a little longer than it had to be.

OVERALL THOUGHTS

I liked it. I really did. There were so many positives about this book. It was very unique. I haven’t read anything like it. But I think the length of the book and the “difficult” decision just threw me off. So I have mixed feelings, which makes me have to go right smack dab in the middle for my rating.

3 out of 5 Hearts!


(This was part of why I cried so hard in the beginning…)
“How can I go on without you? You’re the calm to my crazy. I didn’t even know what love was until you. Please, please, don’t be dead.”

(I love how protective Cadence’s dad is!)
“It better be over, or I’m going to go down to that school to castrate him and anyone else who looks at you!”


(from Goodreads)

Born and raised in Australia, Katie’s early years of day dreaming in the “bush,” and having her father tell her wild bedtime stories, inspired her passion for writing.

After graduating High School, she became a foreign exchange student where she met a young man who several years later she married. Now she lives in Arizona with her husband, daughters, and their dogs.

She has a diploma in travel and tourism which helps inspire her writing.

When her debut novel, Kiya: Hope of the Pharaoh, climbed into bestselling status, she believed she was onto something, and now has a slew of novels available, and is published through Curiosity Quills Press, Soul Mate Publishing, and REUTS Publishing.

Katie loves to out sing her friends and family, play sports, and be a good wife and mother. She now works as an office lady at an elementary school to help support her family. She loves to write, and takes the few spare moments in her day to work on her novels.

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Full House Reading Challenge

Blog Tour: Review & Giveaway – Dating the It Guy by Krysten Lindsay Hager

Welcome to the I Heart Fictional People’s Dating the It Guy blog tour stop! This tour is hosted by YA Bound Book Tours! So sorry this is late! If you follow my blog, you’ll know that I have had some technical difficulties ever since I was forced to change my domain name. Apparently, scheduling blog posts falls under the technical difficulties category as well. And I’ve been away from home for the weekend working my butt off, so I haven’t had a chance to fix it. Finally, here I am. So check out my review! And we all love giveaways, right? 🙂

Title: Dating the It Guy

Author: Krysten Lindsay Hager

Published: March 21st, 2017

Length: 243 pages (eBook)

Genre: YA Contemporary

Source: YA Bound Book Tours (for honest review)

My Rating: ❤❤❤

Emme is a sophomore in high school who starts dating, Brendon Agretti, the popular senior who happens to be a senator’s son and well-known for his good looks. Emme feels out of her comfort zone in Brendon’s world and it doesn’t help that his picture perfect ex, Lauren seems determined to get back into his life along with every other girl who wants to be the future Mrs. Agretti. Emme is already conflicted due to the fact her last boyfriend cheated on her and her whole world is off kilter with her family issues. Life suddenly seems easier keeping Brendon away and relying on her crystals and horoscopes to guide her. Emme soon starts to realize she needs to focus less on the stars and more on her senses. Can Emme get over her insecurities and make her relationship work? Life sure is complicated when you’re dating the it guy.

INITIAL THOUGHTS

I’ve been wanting to join a blog tour since I came back to the blogging world, and when I saw this cover, I just knew I had to read this book. I absolutely love it. It’s gorgeous and instantly drew me in. And of course, I was curious about the plot of the book as well. Dating the IT guy? Intriguing.

WHAT I LIKED

Emme. I LOVE this girl. She is completely relatable. I found myself marking pages and making notes with just a simple “Yes!” because I just knew exactly how she felt or could relate to her thoughts or her little quirks. A lot of the time, the female main character just annoys me throughout the book, but Emme didn’t. She stayed realistic, and I genuinely cared about her and wanted to see what happened to this new friend of mine 🙂

It was funny! Omg. I was laughing so hard. Some parts just had me dying. And the best part was that it was done so seamlessly. It wasn’t like the author was trying too hard to be humorous and it was super obvious. It just came naturally. Krysten Lindsay Hager, I love your sense of humor!

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE

Margaux. Okay, I tried to give this girl a chance. I really did. She’s one of Emme’s friends, so I wanted to like her. BUT she irritated me SO MUCH. She just seemed super selfish and self-absorbed and couldn’t be positive or happy for her friends. And maybe this is realistic because we all know people like this, but I just couldn’t stand her, and I was practically yelling at Emme to not take this crazy girl’s advice on boys.

The second half of the book. “Didn’t like” is too strong for this part. I guess I’ll say that I wasn’t as impressed with the last half of the book as I was with the first half. I was really into the first half. I read it super fast, and I couldn’t put it down. Then I reached a point where it kind of seemed to drag on a bit, and it lost its humor a little, and it kind of became just another book for me.

OVERALL THOUGHTS

If I was judging just the first half of the book, I would’ve given it 4 hearts, but the last half affected my opinion of the book unfortunately. However, I did like it, and I will definitely check out the author’s other books. Ultimately, if an author can make me care about a character and also have me laughing hysterically at the same time, then I’m a fan!

3 out of 5 Hearts!


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Krysten Lindsay Hager is an obsessive reader and has never met a bookstore she didn’t like. She’s worked as a journalist and humor essayist, and writes for teens, tweens, and adults. She is also the author of the Landry’s True Colors Series (True Colors, Best Friends…Forever?, and the soon to be released, Landry in Like) and her work has been featured in USA Today and named as Amazon’s #1 Hot New Releases in Teen & Young Adult Values and Virtues Fiction and Amazon’s #1 Hot New Releases in Children’s Books on Values. She’s originally from Michigan and has lived in South Dakota, Portugal, and southwestern Ohio. She received her master’s degree from the University of Michigan-Flint.

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 Reading Challenges Met

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Review: Falling for Her Fiancé by Cindi Madsen

Title: Falling for Her Fiancé

Author: Cindi Madsen

Published: January 14th, 2013

Length: 179 pages (eBook)

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Source: Free Nook book via Barnes and Noble

My Rating: ❤❤

(from Goodreads)

Danielle and Wes have been best friends since college, so when Wes needs a date for his sister’s wedding and Dani needs a partner for her company’s retreat, they devise the perfect plan: a fake engagement to get through both events unscathed. Adrenaline-junkie Wes can prove to both his ex and his family that he’s well and truly moved on, and serious-minded Dani can prove to her boss that she’s worthy of the promotion he seems to only want to give to a family-oriented employee.

But amid the fake swoons, fake kisses, and forced proximity, neither expects the very real feelings that develop. There’s nothing more dangerous than falling for your best friend…but what if the landing is worth the fall?

INITIAL THOUGHTS

So, I saw that this book was free on my Nook, so I downloaded it probably over a year ago. Then, I was trying to complete the Monthly Keyword Reading Challenge for January, so as I was looking through all my eBooks that I haven’t read, I noticed this one had one of January’s keywords in the title. And I’m a sucker for the whole friends-turn-into-more-than-friends thing. So I was excited to read this one.

WHAT I LIKED

Relatable characters. There were many times throughout the book that I felt like I completely understood what Dani was going through and thinking. I don’t want to give anything away, but her thoughts on relationships and moving on were spot on. I really liked that.

The relationship. I liked the little things about Dani and Wes’ relationship. For example, they bet $5.00 on just about everything. They’re always like, “Five bucks  I can do this” or “Five bucks I’ll win.” I thought that was super cute.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE

The lack of buildup. We know Dani and Wes are best friends, but I wanted their feelings for each other to gradually grow. They already wanted each other within the first 20 pages. What?! That kind of killed it for me. I wanted to see them as friends first. I wanted to see their relationship without the desire for each other. The instant-attraction thing needs to be saved for relationships where people first meet, not best friends who have known each other forever.

The POV. I have mixed feelings when books are written in the third person omniscient POV. If it is done right, it’s fine, but usually, I get frustrated. We are in Dani’s brain in one paragraph and then in Wes’ brain literally in the next paragraph. I don’t like that! Can we just stick to one person per section or chapter please?? I guess it’s just a personal preference. It gets confusing though!

Lack of connection. I just didn’t feel it. They’re best friends, they fake an engagement, they start to fall for each other…but I didn’t feel a connection. I was just like “okay, whatever, I don’t really care.” I have to care about these characters, and I didn’t. I will probably forget everything about this book within a couple months.

OVERALL THOUGHTS

I really wanted to like this one, but it was just okay for me. Nothing special. Forgettable, unfortunately. Ultimately, I just didn’t care enough about the characters. Therefore, I just couldn’t give it more than 2 hearts.

2 out of 5 Hearts!


(I could totally relate to this one, so I had to share it.)

“…as someone who was dumped by the guy I thought was the one, I do understand, you know. You hate the person and still want to get back together somehow, even though it makes no logical sense. It sucks and it hurts and you want to return the hurt right back.”


(from Goodreads)

Cindi Madsen is a USA Today Bestselling author of contemporary romance and young adult novels. She sits at her computer every chance she gets, plotting revising, and falling in love with her characters. Sometimes it makes her a crazy person. Without it, she’d be even crazier. She has way too many shoes, but can always find a reason to buy a new pretty pair, especially if they’re sparkly, colorful, or super tall. She loves music, dancing, and wishes summer lasted all year long. She lives in Colorado (where summer is most definitely NOT all year long) with her husband and three children.

If you’re interested in ARCs, interviews, and/or blog tour information please contact the publicity department at publicity@entangledpublishing.com

 

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Monthly Keyword Reading Challenge

Story Sprites

 

 

Review: Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Title: Me Before You

Author: Jojo Moyes

Published: December 31st, 2012

Length: 369 pages (paperback)

Genre: Romance

Source: Purchased at Barnes and Noble

My Rating: ❤❤❤❤❤

(from Goodreads)

Louisa Clark is an ordinary girl living an exceedingly ordinary life—steady boyfriend, close family—who has barely been farther afield than their tiny village. She takes a badly needed job working for ex–Master of the Universe Will Traynor, who is wheelchair bound after an accident. Will has always lived a huge life—big deals, extreme sports, worldwide travel—and now he’s pretty sure he cannot live the way he is.

Will is acerbic, moody, bossy—but Lou refuses to treat him with kid gloves, and soon his happiness means more to her than she expected. When she learns that Will has shocking plans of his own, she sets out to show him that life is still worth living.

INITIAL THOUGHTS

Obviously, this is a pretty popular book. I have wanted to read it for awhile now. Then the movie came out, and I wanted to read it even more. Then, I fell in love with the song “Unsteady” by X Ambassadors and their music video that included movie scenes. So, I was forced to buy the book, which I did months ago. And it has been sitting on my bookshelf, staring at me. So, I finally picked it up.

I’ll be honest. When I first read about this book, I thought to myself, “This guy dies! Why would I want to read a book where the guy clearly dies. I’m just gonna be sad!” That may have been the reason I waited so long to read it. But all the hype and constantly hearing about it just made me HAVE to read it. And I’m so glad I did 🙂

WHAT I LIKED

Gave me all the feels. I always said to myself, if a book can make me cry, it’s a good book. And boy did I cry. I was crying like a baby last night. You can try to prepare yourself all you want for this book, like I thought I did, but the end will still hit you like a ton of bricks and make you feel things you didn’t think you would feel. It was heartbreaking. But I love that it affected me so much. That just means it is brilliantly written.

Lou and Will. I loved these two characters as individuals. I loved their relationship. They met under unconventional, extraordinary circumstances, and they probably never would have met otherwise. They are so different. Will is so adventurous, and Lou likes to just sit back and read a book, which is why Will gets frustrated; he can’t do the things he used to love to do, and Lou can but she won’t. I think they both end up teaching each other another way to live. And I absolutely love that.

The pace. It started out a little slow, but I ended up liking that. I liked how it took awhile for Lou and Will to actually like each other. They got so irritated with  one another at first, and then they grew on each other. I liked the buildup. I like how it just instantly hit me three-quarters of the way in. I was getting to know the characters, and then I realized how much I adored them.

The issues. Assisted suicide has definitely been debated. Personally, I don’t get why there is a debate. If people are suffering, and they are choosing to end their lives, who are we to judge? Can you say you wouldn’t think about doing the same thing if you were in their shoes? Hopefully, you’ll never have to make that decision. Anyway, I really liked how Moyes addressed it. I like how it was the center of the story in a way. There were different viewpoints presented by each character, but I really like no matter what side of the debate you are on, you, as a reader, really understand why Will is making the decision he feels he needs to make.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE

The supporting characters bugged me a little at times, but that didn’t take anything away from the book. We are not meant to like every character from every book we read. That would be weird. So, overall, there really wasn’t anything I didn’t like. It was amazing.

OVERALL THOUGHTS

I loved it. I absolutely loved it. I don’t even know how to move on from this book. I cried and cried and cried, until I fell asleep. Then, I woke up sad. So, how am I supposed to just start reading another book? Oh the struggle…Thank you, Jojo Moyes for writing such an incredible book.

5 out of 5 Hearts!


(from Goodreads)

Jojo Moyes is a British novelist.

Moyes studied at Royal Holloway, University of London. She won a bursary financed by The Independent newspaper to study journalism at City University and subsequently worked for The Independent for 10 years. In 2001 she became a full time novelist.

Moyes’ novel Foreign Fruit won the Romantic Novelists’ Association (RNA) Romantic Novel of the Year in 2004.

She is married to journalist Charles Arthur and has three children.

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Reading Challenges Met:

Alphabet Soup Reading Challenge

Bookish Bingo

Chapter Break Bookish Bingo

Contemporary Romance Reading Challenge

Full House Reading Challenge

Story Sprites

Blog Tour: Review & Giveaway – My Heart is Yours by Amanda Leigh

MyHeartisYoursTourBanner1

Welcome to the I Heart Fictional People’s My Heart is Yours blog tour stop! This tour is hosted by Xpresso Book Tours!

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Title: My Heart is Yours

Author: Amanda Leigh

Published: June 10th, 2015

Length: 137 pages (eBook)

Genre: Contemporary Romance, New Adult

Source: Xpresso Book Tours (for honest review)

My Rating: ❤❤❤

book blurb

(from Goodreads)

Samantha Marie Ramsden has three brothers. Craig, John and Matt. When tragedy strikes their family, Craig takes on the task of becoming his siblings legal guardian. It’s hard enough being someone’s guardian, but when you’ve only recently entered adulthood yourself it’s almost impossible to know where to draw the line between sibling and ‘parent’.

This is made even harder on him when Sam starts to get close to a long time friend, Jason. It looks like their friendship could turn into something more. An idea that Craig has never been too happy with. Spanning six years, My Heart is Yours explores family, friendship, love and much more. As well as asking the question: Would you defy family for love?

my review

INITIAL THOUGHTS

I knew I had to read this book right when I saw it. I absolutely loved the cover. And I loved the idea of a brother struggling with being both a sibling and a parent. So I was excited about reading this one. And when I started reading it, I’ll admit that I was a little confused because it seemed to be Sam’s story, not Craig’s, like the synopsis implied. But I was definitely intrigued, so I kept reading.

WHAT I LIKED

The prologue. Wow. Now that is how you draw readers in and make them want to keep reading. That was INTENSE. My jaw dropped and stayed there until the next chapter. Very good first impression. I knew I picked a good book.

The plot. The book definitely kept me interested the whole way through. I wanted to know what happened every step of the way. There were just so many different aspects to the story. Family, romance, love, friendship, loss. It had it all. Plus, there were a couple moments where I thought, “WTF?” So, it had a little suspense too.

The family dynamics. I love that Sam has these older brothers who are very protective of her and would do anything for her. It’s so sweet how highly they think of her too. They know she’s going to do great things, even if she has doubts. She may have been adopted, but you completely forget all about that. They’re a family, blood or not.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE

The pace. It was just way too fast for me. A LOT happened in only 130 pages or so. This would’ve been an amazing full-length novel because everything could have been expanded on and described in more detail. It was just a lot to take in, and things moved along too quickly, in my opinion.

The sometimes-awkward dialogue. The dialogue bugged me every now and then. At times, it seemed unrealistic and just not the way people talk to each other. For example, people’s first names were used quite often. If you’re talking to someone one-on-one, how often do you use his/her first name? But again, it wasn’t the whole book. This just got to me a few times.

OVERALL THOUGHTS

This would’ve been a solid 4-heart or even 5-heart book if it was longer. I guess the length and the pace just affected my overall enjoyment of the book. That being said, I would still recommend it because it is a pretty good story. That prologue! Ahh! Loved it. It’ll hook you right from the beginning. And it is a cute love story.

three hearts

3 out of 5 Hearts!


buy links

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Kobo

iBooks


about the author

Amanda Leigh graduated with a BA in English and Communications and a double minor in Psychology and Creative Writing. During college, she worked on the literary magazine and loved every minute of it. She adores cats and has one named Sawyer – named after one of her favorite characters in Lost. Amanda enjoys reading, writing avidly in a journal, writing poetry, fiction and creative non-fiction, cooking, listening to music, singing, swimming and art – particularly photography. Amanda is a bit of a chocoholic and is slightly obsessed with office supplies. She has many ideas for stories so keep an eye out for more work from her.

author links

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giveaway

Tour-wide giveaway
  • A signed paperback of My Heart is Yours + signed swag + a paperback of selected Emily Dickinson poetry (that’s the MC’s favorite poet) (US only)
  • An e-book copy of My Heart is yours (INT)

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Follow the rest of the tour here!


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Reading Challenges Met:

Bookish Bingo: Spring 2016

Chapter Break Bookish Bingo

Contemporary Romance Reading Challenge

Literary Pickers Challenge

The Mad Reviewer Reading Challenge

Review: No Rest for the Wicked by M.L. Sparrow

28009289Title: No Rest for the Wicked

Author: M.L. Sparrow

Published: November 27th, 2015

Length: 258 pages (ebook)

Genre: Historical Romance, Fantasy

Source: Author (for honest review)

My Rating: ❤❤❤

book blurb

(from Goodreads)

When a rich gentleman finds a beautiful young woman lying in the snow, on the brink of death, he takes her back to his house and, when she has recovered, employs her as a maid. Immediately Elira realizes that Anthony Luther is no ordinary man and nothing about the house she now lives in is as it seems, for Anthony is a powerful wizard.

Inexplicably drawn together, they begin a tentative romance, but it’s not just Elira’s uncertainties and the rules of upper-class society which drive a wedge between them; rivalries and a precious family heirloom, a priceless necklace of unforeseen power handed down through generations, threaten not only the couple’s happiness, but also their lives and the safety of the people around them.


my review

INITIAL THOUGHTS

Another M.L. Sparrow book? Count me in! Of course I said yes to reading this. She has become one of my favorite authors. And this was a historical romance, which I have a soft spot for. Plus, the cover is great! I was definitely intrigued.

WHAT I LIKED

The romance. Okay, M.L. Sparrow has this unique ability to make you forget about the rest of the world and other distinctive parts of the plot and solely focus on just the romance. I forgot about the zombies in The Demon Inside. I forgot about the horrible conditions and place that people were living in in Ghetto. And this time, I forgot about Anthony being a wizard and having magical powers. I absolutely LOVE that she can do that. I haven’t come across that with any other author. Plus, this romance was sweet. He hires her as his maid, and they fall in love. And there’s this whole social class issue that he doesn’t care about but everyone else seems to. It’s just all very sweet.

The characters. I really liked Anthony. He had this protective, intense side, but also this easy-going side with a sense of humor. I loved it. And I adored Moira, the cook/housekeeper. She may have been Anthony’s employee, but she definitely wasn’t afraid to voice her opinions about certain things. And she had this nurturing side, which was sweet.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE

The pace. It started off a little slow. It took me awhile to really get into it, which is not usual for this author’s books.

Elira. Honestly, she kind of bugged me. She was very naïve, and it got a little irritating at times.

Not enough magic. I really enjoyed the idea of Anthony being a wizard. I just wish there was more to that part of the story. I wanted more magic and more fantasy feud-type stuff. I kind of pictured this epic battle taking place, but that didn’t really happen for me.

OVERALL THOUGHTS

Okay, I may not have liked this one as much as M.L. Sparrow’s other books, but it was still good. It had its moments, and the romance was great. I just wish the pace was a bit faster and it had more of the fantasy, magical stuff. However, I’ve been such a big fan of Sparrow’s, so I’m really looking forward to her next book.

three hearts

3 out of 5 Hearts!


buy links

Amazon


about the author

(from Goodreads)

I’m not really sure what to say about myself – my real life is definitely not as exciting as my imaginary one! I’m currently working in childcare and writing in my spare time. All my life I’ve dreamed of becoming an author, except when I was little and wanted to be a farmer!
Besides writing, and obviously reading anything I can get my hands on, my other passion is travel. After finishing college I took a break from education to travel, visiting Mexico, Sri Lanka and, my personal favourite, Japan. One day I hope to be able to combine the two and travel while writing professionally.

author links

Website

Facebook

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Google +


Reading Challenges Met:

Bookish Bingo: Spring 2016

Chapter Break Bookish Bingo

Full House Reading Challenge

Literary Pickers Challenge

The Mad Reviewer Reading Challenge

Story Sprites

Review: How To Love by Katie Cotugno

17332564Title: How To Love

Author: Katie Cotugno

Published: October 1st, 2013 by Balzer + Bray

Length: 389 pages (hardcover)

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance

Source: Giveaway Win from Books of Love

My Rating: ❤❤❤❤

 

book blurb

(from Goodreads)

Before: 
Reena Montero has loved Sawyer LeGrande for as long as she can remember: as natural as breathing, as endless as time. But he’s never seemed to notice that Reena even exists until one day, impossibly, he does. Reena and Sawyer fall in messy, complicated love. But then Sawyer disappears from their humid Florida town without a word, leaving a devastated—and pregnant—Reena behind.

After: 
Almost three years have passed, and there’s a new love in Reena’s life: her daughter, Hannah. Reena’s gotten used to being without Sawyer, and she’s finally getting the hang of this strange, unexpected life. But just as swiftly and suddenly as he disappeared, Sawyer turns up again. Reena doesn’t want anything to do with him, though she’d be lying if she said Sawyer’s being back wasn’t stirring something in her. After everything that’s happened, can Reena really let herself love Sawyer LeGrande again?

In this breathtaking debut, Katie Cotugno weaves together the story of one couple falling in love—twice.


my review

INITIAL THOUGHTS

As soon as I won the Clean My Shelves giveaway at Books of Love, I knew I had to get this book. It was my first pick. And it’s a hardcover! I was beyond ecstatic. But life got in the way, and the book was just sitting, patiently waiting for me to read it. Six months later, I was browsing my new bookcase, noticed this beautiful cover, and read the back of the book. Ahh! Why didn’t I read this sooner?! It sounded like an amazingly romantic and heartbreaking book. So I jumped in…

WHAT I LIKED

The format. Initially, I had mixed feelings about the story going back and forth between the before (when Reena was a young teenager hopelessly in love with Sawyer) and the after (when Sawyer comes back after being away for a couple years, and Reena is raising their child). BUT, after just the first few chapters, I absolutely loved the way it was written. This could’ve been done a couple different ways, such as flashbacks or being written as a two-parter, first part in the before and second part a couple years later. And I think this was definitely the right way to go. The story unfolds in such a unique way. Yes, you know Reena gets pregnant and Sawyer leaves, but what happens before that? Why did he leave? How did they get to that point? Reading the before chapters will gradually make you understand their story while reading what is happening now. It was brilliantly written.

The very real characters. I can definitely understand why some people had an issue with Reena or Sawyer or both, but I really liked them. They were clearly flawed and often made stupid mistakes or just behaved in a way that made you want to scream at them, but that makes them all the more real. Was Reena weak and foolish when it came to Sawyer and his charming self? Was Sawyer an insensitive ass at times? Sure. But they’re also human. I’ll be the first to admit that I was a hopeless romantic when I was a teenager and have made plenty of mistakes when it comes to guys. And my husband will be the first to admit that he has had his asshole moments. But who hasn’t? We’re human! We’re not perfect. And neither are these characters. That’s why I loved them. They were relatable.

The romance. Don’t expect some fairy tale romance here. It’s complicated. People get hurt. Lives are changed forever. But it’s real. Why do we always have to read these romances that are so sweet and involve perfect men? Of course, I love those too, but that’s not always how it works! These two people fall in love, but there are issues that kind of tear them apart. It’s sad. But they have an undeniable connection, and I enjoyed seeing their story unfold.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE

Not addressing some things the way I would have liked. I don’t want to give anything away, but there are some issues that I would have liked to see addressed and discussed way more in depth. For example, Sawyer missed out on the first 14 months of his daughter’s life. And then he’s back and just kind of jumps into her life. I guess I wanted to see him more emotional about the whole thing. There is also a drug issue that just kind of exists. I wanted to see that dealt with more. And there are other issues too. I don’t know. This book could’ve been so much more if it addressed these problems on a deeper level. So, I was a little disappointed about that.

OVERALL THOUGHTS

I really enjoyed this book. The characters were completely relatable, even when they were irritating. The plot was written uniquely, and it worked so well. I was so invested in the story. I just had to know how it all ended. The ending was perfect by the way. Such a great conclusion to an already great book. I just wish it was more in-depth. Very enjoyable though. And this was the author’s debut novel! So, I’m very excited to read more from her.

four hearts

4 out of 5 Hearts!


 

(I HAD to share this one! It’s so damn cute. And hilarious.)

“I like your wrists,” he commented suddenly, glancing over at where my hands were resting in my lap. He traced the underside of my forearm with the tip of his finger.

I looked at him skeptically. “My wrists?”

“Yeah,” he said, half smiling as he switched lanes. “Relax. I don’t have, like, a weird wrist thing. I just like yours. They’re small. Like bird bones.”

“Bird bones,” I repeated.

“Yeah.” He paused. “See? Now you ruined the moment.”

“You were making a moment?”

“I was trying!”

I laughed. “Sorry. Do it again.”

“No!” he said. “The moment is over.” But he was laughing, too.


buy links

Amazon

Barnes & Noble


about the author

(from her website)

Katie Cotugno went to Catholic school for thirteen years which makes her, as an adult, both extremely superstitious and prone to crushes on boys wearing blazers. She routinely finds herself talking about the romantic endeavors of characters on TV shows as if they actually exist in the world.

Katie is a Pushcart Prize nominee whose work has appeared in The Iowa Review, The Broadkill Review, The Apalachee Review, and Argestes, as well as on Nerve.com. Her novels HOW TO LOVE and 99 DAYS are available now from Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins.

The great loves of Katie’s life include child’s pose, her little sister, and mozzarella and honey sandwiches. She lives in Boston with her husband, Tom.

author links

Website

Twitter

Goodreads

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Instagram


Reading Challenges Met:

Alphabet Soup Reading Challenge

Around the World

Chapter Break Bookish Bingo

Contemporary Romance Reading Challenge

Full House Reading Challenge

Literary Pickers Challenge

The Mad Reviewer Reading Challenge

Monthly Keyword Reading Challenge

Shelf Love Challenge

Review: Falling for Prince Charles by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

27983018Title: Falling for Prince Charles

Author: Lauren Baratz-Logsted

Published: February 9th, 2016 by Diversion Books

Length: 303 pages (eBook)

Genre: Chick Lit

Source: Publisher via Tasty Book Tours (for honest review)

My Rating: ❤❤

 

book blurb

(from Goodreads)

Lauren Baratz-Logsted has mastered the real life fairy tale in her explosive and hilarious Falling for Prince Charles. It’s all here, lovelorn Daisy Silverman flush with cash and high hopes, Prince Charles who can’t resist her, and London in all its splendor. Curl up and get ready to laugh long into the foggy night.” Adriana Trigiani, New York Times bestselling author of THE SHOEMAKER’S WIFE

Daisy Silverman has always been obsessed with His Royal Highness, Prince Charles. When the underachieving 30-something cleaning lady wins a million dollars, she follows her lifelong dream to go to London. Once there, she meets Prince Charles the real Prince Charles. Through a series of misunderstandings, the Royal Family doesn’t realize that Daisy’s Jewish or that she’s spent her life up to the elbows in the wrong kind of toilet water. By the time they do, Daisy is in love with Charles, Charles is in love with Daisy, and the Queen’s white gloves are off. FALLING FOR PRINCE CHARLES is an offbeat alternate-universe romantic comedy showing the heir to the British throne in a light quite unlike any he’s been seen in before.

“Daisy’s madcap adventure is more comedy than romance, and her most unusual and unlikely relationship with Prince Charles will appeal to reads looking for lots of giggles.” -“Publishers Weekly”


my review

INITIAL THOUGHTS

I loved the cover right when I saw it. It looks like a cute chick lit book. And the synopsis sounded like the perfect romantic comedy. Plus, the fact that it was about falling for the real Prince Charles was definitely unique, and I was curious as to how it was done. So, I was really excited about this book. I couldn’t wait to read it.

WHAT I LIKED

The premise. I loved the idea of a woman who cleans toilets for a living winning the lottery, going to London, and falling in love with a prince. That sounds awesome! And it sounds like it could be this romantic story with the perfect amount of humor. Unfortunately, the IDEA of the story is pretty much all I liked…

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE

The writing. I can’t quite put my finger on it. The writing wasn’t bad. The author clearly knows how to write. Maybe the writing style just wasn’t for me. It felt all over the place. There was way too much description. It seemed like she tried to make very complex, adjective-filled, uniquely-structured sentences when it could’ve been more simple and easier to understand. Throughout the majority of the book, I kept asking myself, “What just happened? What is going on in the story? What am I reading?” I was just completely lost. I had such a hard time staying focused.

Way too many POVs. OMG. I can handle two points of view, maybe three. But there were points of view from almost every single character, even Bill Clinton, who was in the book for like two seconds. It just made the story very disjointed and confusing. It did not work for me. I would’ve liked to just stay in Daisy’s brain. Also, I felt a little uncomfortable being in the minds of real people. More than half of these characters are real people. It just made it weird for me. I don’t know. It’s hard to explain.

OVERALL THOUGHTS

I really wanted to like this book. I truly did. I’ve heard good things about this author, so I was really surprised that I didn’t enjoy it. I just felt like the story tried too hard to be funny and romantic when it was neither. It was very hard for me to finish it. I kept reading because I kept hoping it would get better or maybe it was just me and my warped brain not being able to pay attention, but unfortunately, I still ended up disappointed.

two hearts

2 out of 5 Hearts!


buy links

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

iTunes

Kobo


about the author

Lauren Baratz Logsted

Lauren Baratz-Logsted is the author of over 25 books for adults, teens (including The Twin’s Daughter and Little Women and Me), and children (The Sisters 8, a nine-book series she created with her husband and daughter). Before becoming an author, Lauren was an independent bookseller, freelance editor, Publishers Weekly reviewer, sort-of librarian and window washer. She lives with her family in Danbury, CT. Visit her at www.laurenbaratzlogsted.com or follow her @LaurenBaratzL on Twitter.

author links

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Goodreads


Reading Challenges Met:

Alphabet Soup Reading Challenge

Around the World

Bookish Bingo: Holiday 2015

Chapter Break Bookish Bingo

Full House Reading Challenge

Literary Pickers Challenge

The Mad Reviewer Reading Challenge

Story Sprites

Title Fight Reading Challenge