Book Review: Before We Were Strangers – Renée Carlino

synopsis single

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,

Banner name

 

 

 

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

synopsis single

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

synopsis single

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,

Banner name

Book Review: Reason To Breathe ( Breathing #1 ) – Rebecca Donovan

synopsis book 1

“No one tried to get involved with me, and I kept to myself. This was the place where everything was supposed to be safe and easy. How could Evan Mathews unravel my constant universe in just one day?”

In the affluent town of Weslyn, Connecticut, where most people worry about what to be seen in and who to be seen with, Emma Thomas would rather not be seen at all. She’s more concerned with feigning perfection while pulling down her sleeves to conceal the bruises – not wanting anyone to know how far from perfect her life truly is. Without expecting it, she finds love. It challenges her to recognize her own worth – but at the risk of revealing the terrible secret she’s desperate to hide.

Reason to Breathe is an electrifying page turner from start to finish, a unique tale of life-changing love, unspeakable cruelty, and one girl’s fragile grasp of hope.

 


 

NOTE: Read in 2012. Opinion hasn´t changed since.

 

My Thoughts 2

`Reason To Breathe`( Breathe #1 ) by Rebecca Donovan is one of the most depressing Young Adult romances I´ve ever had the pleasure of reading. Reason To Breathe

 

Sad. Deep. Hard to get your head around. Messed up. Deep. Confusing

 

 

I´m well aware that this is just fiction . But even if it wasn´t and the author chose to incorperate real life events in to the story- It didn´t make this whole sad blob any better.

 

 

A disturbed young woman making idiotic decisions at every turn because she´s a victim.

Emma-  The shoved around, barely tolerated living being who just existed. Living in an abusive household she´s determined to pull through. To win at life and save whatever is left of herself ( which isn´t much to begin with ). But she wants to win on her terms.

I felt a slight burn in my soul from the choices Emma´s character made and how determined she was to stick with her ill choices. This trait of hers made me dislike her instead of feeling bad for her and her life situation.  I would have loved to be able to see Emma as the victim she truly was but because of her questionable choices I just couldn´t.

 

The author tested my limits with the story.

As with any sociology / abuse, YA, romance ( the genre and categories, alone, are quite a stunning combo ) it´s not too difficult to include drama in a story. With `Reason To Breathe` the author went all in, making an already tough subject extremely painful to digest. Because to include abuse isn´t enough. Every cruelty needs to be amplified and every painful situation needs to be 10x more gruesome. Well, in my case… I didn´t care much for the abuse because it was too Cinderella´s step mom´s gone ape shit for me.

 

Now, i bet you´re thinking there can´t possibly be a romance in such a book, right? Right. No, wait. Wrong! So wrong!

There has to be a balance in a story or else it´s just one huge sad black hole with no ending. There was some good to give readers hope that not everything in Emma´s life was shit. And that hope was named Evan. But hey, he was only a tiny spark in a pitch black universe.  What good can a spark do when there´s nothing but darkness and Emma continues to make terrible choices? Exactly, an endless cycle of depressing events happen.  It felt like Emma´s nightmare would never end because Emma didn´t want it to end.

 

That was about the story. Let´s get technical now.

Although I didn´t really enjoy the full on sad story as much as I hoped I would I thought the writing was fantastic. I had absolutely no troubles with the pace. There was a great balance between dialogue and details.

 

However… I will say this: The ending had me sold. I don´t know how the author did it but I wanted to continue the story. Usually, if I don´t like a story I won´t bother with the next books in a series. For some damn odd reason I wanted to find out what Emma´s next move would be. What direction will she take? Will she ever want to stop the madness?

 

`Reason To Breathe` shows a reader how awful and painful life can be if you don´t take help that is offered to you, and that the choices you make are the ones you have to live with.


 

Would I recommend this book? I wouldn´t recommend this book to anyone who is emotionally unstable. It´s a tough read and so depressing. If you think you can handle the abuse in this book, then go ahead. Buy the book and put yourselves through it all. This book will get under your skin and it won´t leave you alone for a while.

Would I reread this book? Nope. One round is enough.


 

 

The Cover – 2 Stars:    Nope. Not doing it for me at all.

The Story – 2 Stars:    I´m torn. It´s an awfully depressing read but it´s also a story well told. Can´t fault a good story telling.

The Characters – 4 Stars:  As much as I disliked Emma I have to admit that she was a pretty picture perfect ruined YA character. The author created messed up characters and wonderful, charming, loving figures.  A world of good people and terrible people and little Emma stuck in the middle.

My emotional state after finishing this read – miserable AS FUCK.

2 stars



 

You can purchase `Reason To Breathe`( Breathing #1) by Rebecca Donovan on Amazon.com

Reason To Breathe