Book Review: Before We Were Strangers – Renée Carlino

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From the USA TODAY bestselling author of Sweet Thing and Nowhere But Here comes a love story about a Craigslist “missed connection” post that gives two people a second chance at love fifteen years after they were separated in New York City.

To the Green-eyed Lovebird:

We met fifteen years ago, almost to the day, when I moved my stuff into the NYU dorm room next to yours at Senior House.

You called us fast friends. I like to think it was more.

We lived on nothing but the excitement of finding ourselves through music (you were obsessed with Jeff Buckley), photography (I couldn’t stop taking pictures of you), hanging out in Washington Square Park, and all the weird things we did to make money. I learned more about myself that year than any other.

Yet, somehow, it all fell apart. We lost touch the summer after graduation when I went to South America to work for National Geographic. When I came back, you were gone. A part of me still wonders if I pushed you too hard after the wedding…

I didn’t see you again until a month ago. It was a Wednesday. You were rocking back on your heels, balancing on that thick yellow line that runs along the subway platform, waiting for the F train. I didn’t know it was you until it was too late, and then you were gone. Again. You said my name; I saw it on your lips. I tried to will the train to stop, just so I could say hello.

After seeing you, all of the youthful feelings and memories came flooding back to me, and now I’ve spent the better part of a month wondering what your life is like. I might be totally out of my mind, but would you like to get a drink with me and catch up on the last decade and a half?

M


 

My Thoughts 2

 

From friends to lovebirds. From lovebirds to strangers. Then from strangers to “Wow, that went quick.”  And this is not me spoiling anything from the story.

I have to let out a loud sigh and throw my hands in defeat because I´m at a loss for the right words.

If I ask myself the same question three times in a row I can give three different answers.

Did I like this book?  T´was okay.

Did I like this book?  Meeh.

Did I like this book?  Maybe if I sleep another night over it.

 

My emotions are a tad scattered when thinking about `Before we were strangers` by Renée Carlino.before we were strangers

From reading the synopsis I could tell the story was exactly what I was looking for. A slow burn romance that starts off in college and ends with the characters in their mid 30´s. I was right. Wasn´t disappointed in that department.

I wasn´t prepared for the ( what felt like ) eternal slow burn, though.

Good grief, at times I thought I´d never see the end of the 303 pages.

But then things happened so fast. Before I knew it the story found it´s end.

You get a glimpse of an unhappy Hero in the present. His love life had not gone the way he had planned it. Then he sees her- The woman who stole his heart in college.

Then the flashbacks begin….

Before I go any further I´d like to say that this wasn´t a terrible read. I liked parts of it but some other parts…. I developed a love / hate relationship with everything. For example:

  • The characters. I loved their chemistry but I so disliked their journey.

 

  • The general vibe. I liked that this story wasn´t an in – your – face romance. I felt the there was a gray fog looming over the characters. This was a unique experience for me because I was able to feel the sadness. But then again this fog wasn´t lifted at the right time, making this feel like more of a depressed read even when it shouldn´t have been that way.

 

  • The threat. There always has to be something that jeopardizes a relationship. An evil villain on a mission. I liked the villain in this romance. The ex-wife from the Hero was truly a piece of work. Sadly, she wasn´t there enough for me to appreciate her cruelty.

 

  • The slow burn. This is something I usually appreciate because I like to see things develop. A fictional relationship feels more authentic when things move along at a slower pace. These characters took the term `slow burn` to a whole new level.  There were some moments when I felt like the kid who asks their parents when they´ll reach their destination, repeating “Are we there yet?” every 5 minutes.

 

  • The characters ages. Again, I love to see things develop. Being able to watch characters grow is something I enjoy. Only I didn´t get to watch anyone grow. It was college then mid 30´s. Achievements accomplished during their 20`s  were mentioned and that was it.
  • The end. I love me some good endings. Good. Not rushed. Nice, smooth gradual endings. Not so much the type of ending this book had.

 

If I had to sum this review up with a few lines I´d say: Decent romance with a hard focus on the extreme slow paced relationship development.

 


 

Would I recommend this book? Yes. I can see many readers falling in love with this read. It is romantic. It´s filled with love and hope.

Would I reread this book? I don´t believe I will.


 

The Cover – 3 Stars:    It definitely fits the story and the image is actually linked to the story, which I approve of. It´s not my prefered style, though.

The Story – 3 Stars:    Decent. I would have liked a little more spark.

The Characters – 3 Stars:    The mid 30´s versions felt like the college versions of the characters.

My emotional state after finishing this read:   I have mixed feelings.

3 stars


 

You can purchase `Before We Were Strangers` by Renée Carlino on Amazon.com


 

Thank you for reading. I hope you enjoyed.

Much love,

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Book Review: The Silver Swan ( Elite Kings Club #1 ) – Amo Jones

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Riddle me this…
“I am neither dead, nor alive, and I’m not something little Madison can hide.
But you will be dead, by the time this is done…
the timer starts now, and the games have just begun…”

Madison Montgomery comes from money and power, but when someone close to her commits the ultimate crime, Madison must live with her tainted name for the rest of her life. When she begins Riverside Preparatory Academy, the private school her father has swept her into in The Hamptons, she hopes for a fresh start. What she wasn’t hoping for was the pack of bad boys who run the school; ten, to be exact. When Madison gains the attention of their leader, Bishop Vincent Hayes, a whole new world that she didn’t think existed is exposed to her. A whole world that starts and ends with The Elite Kings Club and these boys, are about to flip her world upside down. Secrets are overflowing and family lies are about to be exposed. Is there more to Madison Montgomery than even she knows?

ººººº

Note From Author Taken From Goodreads

About this book: 
I need to admit something right now. The Silver Swan is f*cked. It might be the most insane story I’ve ever written with equally insane characters. Who knew? You know, when I started this book, it was supposed to be YA. I wanted to write a book that my sisters could read. A book that won’t have people look at my mum like “damn… what sort of messed up shit happened to your kid?”. The angst, the assholeness, the games, the f**kery, the WHAT THE F**KING F**K ARE YOU DOING???!!!…
I cannot even…. anyway, this is a warning (and the only one I’ll give you). It’s crazy. I don’t compare my work to my others, but this book is f**ked. It will most likely stomp all the f**k over people’s hard limits (and not give a sh*t while it’s doing it) and will make you second guess all the morals you thought you had.
This most definitely is not looking like a love story right now… more like a….. I don’t even….*shakes head* anyway, I apologise now. You asked for it……….

 


 

My Thoughts 2

I must be one weird screwed up chick because I didn´t find anything insane or da fuq worthy about this book. The note the author left beneath the book description on Goodreads got me all excited. Even had me squealing with anticipation. Hard limits? Looks like I have none. Make me second guess my morals? `The Silver Swan` ( Elite Kings Club #1 ) did nothing of the sorts. Well, at least not for me.

It is true- `The Silver Swan`by Amo Jones cannot be compared to other books. But I can The Silver Swandefinitely compare the vibes I got from this  read with a particular movie – Cruel Intentions. Remember that one? Yeah, the story is so not the same but the vibe it gave off ( and still does ) is similar to what I felt while reading this book.

Judging by the description this book sounds a lot like a dark romance with a good dose of mystery. After having read the story I can say there is, indeed, mystery. The romantic aspect? Not sure. The lines are blurred.

 

 

What I appreciated most about the story:

 

  • The Flair. I´m a sucker for dark settings. Put a blue filter on the story and I´m happy. I liked the overall feeling I had while reading `The Silver Swan`.

 

  • The Characters. Although I wasn´t completely on board with half of these wackos I definitely appreciated how individual they were.

 

  • The Writing. This has been my first rodeo with the author´s work. I´m pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the unique writing. It´s smooth and easy on the mind.

 

Unfortunately, there are parts I didn´t enjoy.

 

 

What I didn´t appreciate about the story:

 

  • The dragging mystery. Hear me out on this one. I was a fan of the secrets and all. Until they became boring. It´s almost like the case of the boy who cried wolf. The secrets are mentioned quite often but it isn´t until the end when a reader gets a glimpse of the entire disaster that´s Madison´s life.

 

  • Madison Montgomery. The Heroine of `The Silver Swan`. In the beginning I enjoyed her character very much. Until I reached the point where I was like

 

“Here, sweety. Let me call the cops for you because you´ve clearly forgotten how your phone works.”

 

I´m not sure if her character will grow much more in book #2 and book #3. In this one, though, she wasn´t what I would call a powerful young woman with a good head on her shoulders. She was fearless but that, alone, doesn´t make a character great.

 

  • Enter Bishop. The Hero of the story. When he was first introduced I was game. When he popped in to the picture every now and again, I became more curious. But then he turned into this figure who didn´t do it for me at all. What a shame, really. Instead of rooting for him I found myself wishing he´d just leave the picture. There were definitely others that felt like a more suitable match for Madison.

 

  • My Inner Dialogue. This is something I love to rely on when writing my review. Why did I think? What were my initial thoughts during certain scenes?

– Hmm

– Huh?

– What the….

– Oh.

– Do we have any waffles left?

 

All in all, I wasn´t tickled senseless. There were parts I enjoyed immensely but then there were parts that made no sense to me. Without wanting to disrespect the author or the story- I didn´t feel the awesomeness this book offered me.

 


 

Would I recommend this book? Yes. For readers who like a good drawn out mystery will probably enjoy this type of YA / NA dark romance. I´d also recommend the author because the writing is really nice. Will definitely be checking out other works by Amo Jones.

 

Would I reread this book? Probably not. I like a little cat and mouse play in my dark romances. There can be a whole lot of mystery for all I care but there has to be something that holds on to my atention. Reading a book and calling it a day ( as I did with this book ) will not move me to invest more time in further books that belong to this one.

 


 

The Cover – 3 Stars:    It´s okay. Not necessarily my cup of tea….

The Story – 3 Stars:    The idea is great. The way it´s written is great. It´s just that the exciting parts weren´t as exciting and these dragged on a little for me.

The Characters – 3 Stars: Hands down- The sub characters were great. The main characters, though, they could have had more positive traits. Something to make a reader fall in love with.

My emotional state after finishing this read:  Indifferent.

3 stars



 

This book can be purchased on Amazon.com

Surviving `After` The Movie

It´s been an hour since I walked out of the movie theater. I am spent. Not because of the movie itself ( more about that below ) but because I´m trying to understand how it´s possible to like a movie more than the book.

Yes, I read `After` by Anna Todd ( REVIEW- After Series (book #1-#5) by Anna Todd ).

And yes, I did enjoy the first book a lot because it was a good story. I think, somewhere in my collective review for all the books, I mentioned that I believed the story could have been great with a solid ending on its own. A standalone, if you will. Sadly though, book #1 ends with a cliffy and everything else goes downhill from there on. All books in total have earned 1 star from me. But I enjoyed book #1.

Then word had it `After`was going to be turned in to a movie.

Actual reaction from then and now

God forbid- We can´t have a bestseller stay a simple bestseller. We have to turn it into a movie so every fanfic fanatic and D1 fan can go nuts all over again. One does not feed the  obsessive herd. One leaves ´em alone. Personally, I would have been able to die a happy woman without another book to movie adaptation. But noooo.

With time ditzy old me completely forgot about the disaster of the `After` saga, including the threat of a movie. Then came the trailer.

To be honest- The trailer looked like many things but not like the story I had read.

 

Judging by the trailer I was sure to get a rated PG – 13 version of 50 Shades of Grey.

Being the good book blogger I am I called my friend and forced her mark her calendar. We were going to watch `After`.

The Verdict

I was pleasantly surprised. I actually liked the movie more than the book. Ha! Who´d have thought. I´d even go so far and say that this book to movie adaptation is the first I approve of.

The 50 Shades of Grey movies were catastrophes. The acting felt forced, the dialogue was horrific and the sex scenes were so meeh. Look- If you´re going to do something then do it  right or don´t do it at all. Include the sex and make it the porn it truly is.

 

General mood after watching the 50 Shades of Grey movies

With `After ` everything was different. Aside from the ( I´m sorry, I just can´t help myself ) horrible lead actor. Just because you have a resting asshole face, a leather jacket and have random tattoos  doesn´t mean you´re a bad boy. Where are we? In the 90´s?

 

Hardin Scott- The After bad boy. 

With that being said- I felt the story came pretty close to the book in a positive way.

The focus was on the relationship. There was a nice gradual story development and the peak was actually better than in the book.

Heavens, I don´t know if I should be happy about this or not. With years of hating on book to movie adaptations this one has definitely thrown me off the hate wagon. I seriously don´t know what to do with myself now.

 

 

As for my friend… she hasn´t read the books and even she thought it was a decent romance. Her final comment on the movie: “Don´t tell me we have to wait a fucking year for the next one.” 

Aah, Marlene. My guess is that we´ll have to do just that. With 3 more books we´ll probably have to wait 3 more years to find out more. This means we´ll be 40 years old by the time movie #4 is out.

Even if I know book #2, #3, #4 ( I didn´t bother reading book #5 because it´s just a book on the Hero´s past. Sorry, not interested in that ) was NOT my cup of tea ( you´re welcome to read my reasons for that here )  I still think I should give the movies a go. Who knows… Maybe they´ll be great. Maybe the movie industry will change the story a little. Maybe I´ll like the changes… The possibilities are endless! One can only hope for a miracle.

 

So yes. I liked `After` the movie.

 


 

♥Have you seen the movie? Do you want to see it? Have you run into a book to movie adaption you liked? Let´s chat. ♥

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: Sparrow – L. J. Shen

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Troy Brennan

Every southie in Boston knows that name. The son of a dead mobster. The heart throb with steel blue eyes. “The Fixer” who can make or break you in this city. 

Oh, and my new husband. 

Sparrow Raynes

That’s me. No one seemed to remember my name up until he barged into my life. 
But then he caged me.
Kidnapped me.
And killed every chance I had to runaway from the place where we grew up.
Put simply, Troy Brennan clipped my wings.

I have dreams, big ones, but I doubt he’d ever let me chase them. I have no idea why he’d decided to take me as his wife. But I do know this: pissing off this man will not do me any good. At all.


Warning Label Copied From Goodreads
Sparrow is a standalone, full-length novel. It contains graphic violence and adult situations some may find offensive.

 

My Thoughts 2

I think I would have had a different reading experience if I had read `Sparrow` by L. J. Shen before I read the authors other, more recent mafia romance novel The Kiss Thief. 

I enjoyed reading `Sparrow`. I liked how dark it was and how vivid the author had Sparrowpainted her scenes for her readers. The only thing that bothered me ( and this is just my personal feeling ) was that I felt this  one wasn´t as strong as The Kiss Thief. If I compare the two books ( which I can because they´re very much alike ) I can say that `Sparrow` felt more like a test version for me. And this isn´t a negative thing.

 

What I appreciated most…

  • The writing. L. J. Shen is a master of her craft. Her stories are clear and straight forward. The author’s ability to create just enough angst to keep a reader on the edge of their seats is great. Good writing is the key to good story telling.

 

  • The story. I´m a sucker for mafia romances. Everything is fierce. Fierce love. Fierce hate. Fierce relationships…  In `Sparrow`everything was fierce and dangerous. I didn´t quite get the Scarface – Tony Montana vibes but there were some things I really liked about the mafia world the author created.

 

 

Unfortunately, the good always comes with the stuff I didn´t quite like:

 

What I didn´t appreciate…

  • The characters lack of feelings. This is not to say they were emotionless. The Hero and Heroine had their fair share of feelings but for me, this couple… they were too tough. Tough cookies are great but I need that emotional balance. I clearly saw the affection these characters had for each other and I understood how these people came to be who they were but I needed some softness to even out the toughness.
  • The ending. There was nothing wrong with the ending. It was completely fine. Just not something I like to see happen for characters. The ending wasn´t for me.

 

With that being said – I still enjoyed `Sparrow`. I think it´s a great, exciting dark romance with juicy bits that´ll get any romance reader hooked.


Would I recommend this book? Yes.

Would I reread this book? Probably, yes. There are parts that are totally reread worthy.


 

The Cover – 2 Stars:  The flames. I´m not sure why they needed to be on the cover because the wing works wonders on it´s own. The blue background, the black feathers with the white font would have been a total eye catcher.

The Story – 4 stars:  What can I say that I haven´t said already? I liked it. Dark, gritty, fierce and sexy.

The Characters – 3 stars:  That extra softness was missing. But other than that I enjoyed their characters.

My emotional state after finishing this read:  Satisfied.

 

3 stars

 

You can purchase `Sparrow` by L. J. Shen by clicking here.


 

Thank you for reading. I hope you have a lovely day.

Much love,

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My Favorite Book Obsessions

“Some books you read. Some books you enjoy. But some books just swallow you up, heart and soul.”

 

A quote that couldn´t be more fitting. The whole idea of reading a book is to be able to dive in to a new world and become lost in a story´s beauty for a few minutes or hours. And when a book is good it leaves a lasting impression on us. It´s even better when a book touches us emotionally.

There are books us readers hold close to our hearts. The ones we could swoon over for years. We hold these books high above others.

You know, the ones we  always go back for a re – read, a re – re – read and a re – re – re-read until the pages threaten to fall out and the spine and cover are wrinkled.

I don´t normally like to talk about my all time favorite books. In a weird way- I´d feel like I would be betraying all the other books I have. They ( whoever they may be ) don´t lie when they say having to pick a favorite book is like having to pick a favorite child.

 

 

Besides, my favorite books are… mine. They feel like they´ve been written for me, and me alone.

 

 

I like to call my favorite books my personal obsession reads. The books I would like to dip in gold and display them somewhere where EVERYONE can see them. Just to make a point 🙂

If you think wanting to dip my books in gold is weird, try talking to the one good friend of mine who wraps her all time favorite books in Saran wrap and stores them in Ikea boxes.

 

So, what are my favorite books? The untouchable reads I hold high above all others? Don´t worry. There won´t be a mile long list of book titles because I don´t consider that many as favorites. I´m a very picky person when it comes to reading. And because of that I have only a handful of books that have wowed me enough to want to dip in gold.

Before we continue I´d like to say that I have not reviewed these gems because I simply refuse to. How do I find the right words to describe a book I truly adore? I can´t.

 

Book Obsession #1

Thoughtless ( Thoughtless #1 ) – S. C. Stephens

 

Thoughless

 

I call Thoughtless my romance Bible. It has everything I could ask for in a romance. It´s realistic, slow burn,  cute, and filled with so much emotional pain. A frustrating love triangle that tops all other love triangles. You will be rooting for both guys so much because all characters ( including the slightly annoying Heroine ) are delightful.

Thoughtless is the first of 5 books ( with the 5th being the Heroes POV from book #1). While I´m THE #1 obsessive fan of this book I´m not so wild over the other books. Don´t get me wrong, they´re great and add to the couple´s story but the first book is where all the magic happens.

I get slightly nervous when friends go near this book.

 

 

Book Obsession #2

Into The Wilderness ( Wilderness #1 – #6 ) – Sara Donati

 

Into The Wilderness

 

Reading historical fiction definitely belongs to one of my guilty pleasures. This book. This series. I love Into The Wilderness so much that I can´t find the strength to write a review about them. The way Sara Donati has woven in real historical events in this series is fab. You will fall in love with the beautiful details. I swear, at one point I was able to smell pine trees while reading. I suffered so bad through these incredible gems… that´s how good I think these book are written.  If you enjoy epic historical fictions with romances that´ll rip your heart to shreds then you need to get your hands on these books.

I have these books in my bedroom where they´re safe from people who like to borrow books and put dog ears in the pages… like my own mom.

Me, every time my mom asks if she can borrow a book.

 

 

 

Book Obsession #3

The Picture Of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde

 

The Picture of Dorian Gray

I am not a fan of classic literature. I actually think most of the old hams written over a century ago are overrated. There are a few I´ve enjoyed but none as much as The Picture Of Dorian Gray. I first read this when I was a teenager and it has been an all time favorite of mine ever since. This is timeless perfection for me. It tackles issues our society still deals with. The darkness of the story is terrifyingly beautiful and captivating.

`The Picture Of Dorian Gray` is high on my bookshelf.. high enough so the kids can´t reach it.

 

 

Book Obsession  #4

Charlotte´s Web – E. B. White

 

Charlottes Webb

This book. This powerful little story. I was done for even as a child. Even today, I can´t understand why I love this so much. I just do.

My copy is already so terribly beaten. The pages are fragile and the cover looks like it´s been through hell and back. It´s suffered from moving around the world 9 times. It´s been read to me and I have read this very book to my children. And now it rests in peace in a hope chest ( yes, I have one of those, as well ).

 

 

Book Obsession   #5

The Stand – Stephen King

 

The STand

 

T´was when I was at a party once in 2001 when a guy told me that reading tastes can tell you a lot about a person. Challenge accepted! I rattled down my short list of romances and watched his smug smile grow until he heard me mention The Stand by Stephen King. “The Stand?!” After that he eyed me all night as if I had an enormous pimple on my forehead.

What can I say? I appreciate great writing. The Stand has been one of those EPIC reads for me. One I will ALWAYS mention and get super passionate about. And Cujo… well, I loved Cujo. I stole Cujo from my mom when I moved out. She noticed her copy was missing after my brother moved out ( 5 years later ) and has accused him ever since.

 

So, that´s it. My sad short list of ALL TIME favorites. Although I do love the romance genre I do enjoy lots of darker reads that have an admirable size.


Did you see a favorite of yours in my short list? What´s your all time favorite? Let me know in the comments below! ❤

 

Thank you for reading. I hope you have a wonderful day,

 

Much bookish love,

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