Book Review: The Kiss Thief – L.J Shen

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They say your first kiss should be earned. 

Mine was stolen by a devil in a masquerade mask under the black Chicago sky. 

They say the vows you take on your wedding day are sacred. 

Mine were broken before we left church. 

They say your heart only beats for one man. 

Mine split and bled for two rivals who fought for it until the bitter end. 

I was promised to Angelo Bandini, the heir to one of the most powerful families in the Chicago Outfit. 

Then taken by Senator Wolfe Keaton, who held my father’s sins over his head to force me into marriage. 

They say that all great love stories have a happy ending. 

I, Francesca Rossi, found myself erasing and rewriting mine until the very last chapter. 

One kiss. 
Two men. 
Three lives. 
Entwined together. 

And somewhere between these two men, I had to find my forever.

 



 

My Thoughts 2

 

Oh, my expectations were set high for this one. I´m talking sky high. And because this book has been so hyped and praised I was also terrified of being disappointed.

Beautiful cover and a decent synopsis? I just had to give it a go.

To make a long story short: I wasn´t as disappointed as I thought I´d be. I´m truly not mad at this one because the story almost has everything I want in a contemporary romance novel.

Personally, I thought the story was a tiny bit less dramatic than the synopsis suggested. I was thinking there would be an open Chicago love triangle war in `The Kiss Thief` by L. J. Shen. I didn´t have the impression there was one at all.

The Kiss Thief

That´s not to say this book didn´t have other qualities. `The Kiss Thief` had many things I usually appreciate when reading romances.

 

What I Appreciated Most

  • Character depth. For me, there´s nothing worse than having to read about characters who don´t offer something that makes them special. Wolfe Keaton and Francesca Rossi are powerful main characters who are entertaining from start to finish.
  • Unpredictable actions. I´d be lying if I said the book was unpredictable, because… Well, the ending was sort of a given. But some of the events were actually unpredictable. I certainly never saw certain scenes happening but I´m really glad they did.
  • The dialogue. Very intelligent and quick. I like when characters have something to say to each other rather than having them repeat their thoughts.
  • Enemies to lovers romance. I´m a sucker for this trope.

 

What I Would Have Liked

  • It says in the book description

“… mine split and bled for two rivals who fought for it until the bitter end.”

“One kiss. Two men. Three lives.”

This is not entirely misleading but I did feel like it suggested there would be an actual love triangle going on. There wasn´t. Yes, there were two men involved in Francesca´s life but one of those men wasn´t present enough to be considered as a third party.

  • A more powerful ending. After so much that went down in this book I did expect a little more CRASH BOOM BANG in the end. There was a really fantastic build up and at some point there was a constant and stable peak. Then the nose dive.
  • More graphic scenes. This isn´t, by any means, a necessity but for a mafia romance I would have appreciated more mafia brutality.

 

All in all I can´t really complain, though. `The Kiss Thief` is a mafia romance that has lots of angst, a decent amount of sex, and drama.


 

Would I reread this book? Sure. Why not? The parts I loved are definitely worth a reread.

Would I recommend this book? I would. `The Kiss Thief` is well written and the story is full of surprises.


 

The Cover – 5 Stars:   Hands down- I´m a fan.

The Story – 4  Stars:   Not too shabby. It´s ruthless, unforgiving and also romantic.

The Characters – 4 Stars:  While I did love Wolfe´s ruthless side and Francesca´s strength I missed a little of Angelo and would have liked to have seen some more engagement from the sub characters.

My emotional state after finishing this read:  Happy.

 

4 stars


 

This book can be purchased on Amazon.com

 

Book Review: The Light In The Wound (#1) – Christine Brae

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Affected by her parents’ highly publicized divorce, Isabel grows up isolated and alone, with a resolve to never fall in love and repeat their mistakes.

When Jesse Cain enters her life, she falls hopelessly in love with him, and every sadness she’s ever felt is washed away by his intensity and passion. But people change as they grow up. Things can never stay the same forever.

Jesse and Isabel fight to stay together, determined to hold on to what they once had. Isabel wonders if a second love can ever be enough to make her forget her first.


My Thoughts 2

I read `The Light In The Wound` ( The Light In The Wound #1) by Christine Brae right after I realized I accidentally read book #2, `His Wounded Light` first. ( Yes. Even I´m a ditz sometimes )

Weird, right? Ha! Welcome to my everyday norm. This doesn´t surprise me one bit. But hey…. I set things right again after I managed to find time to buy and read the first book. Now, here I am… ready to give my thoughts on book #1 first, as I should have a while ago.

One would think I ruined the whole story for myself by reading book #2 first. In my case, the mix up didn´t affect me or the story. I like spoilers. I have no problem with knowing how a story ends before I´ve even read the beginning. (I´m glad we got that covered ).

Now, did I enjoy `The Light In The Wound`? Yes. I actually did.

I´m a sucker for 1st love vs. 2nd love romances and Christine Brae did a wonderful job with this novel.the light in the wound

I loved the emotional rollercoaster ride I was put through. Lots of angst, heartbreak, frustration, love, loss… This book was a positive emotional mess for me. Because there´s nothing more satisfying than reading a romance that puts you in an emotional stupor.

While I appreciated the things this book did to me there were a few things that did turn me off.

  1. The pace. I had such a hard time sticking with this read because the story dragged. It took me a few days to push through and not completely give up. The last third of the story was what made me truly love this story.
  2. The Heroine. Isa wasn´t what I would call a great Heroine. Her actions and reactions were justified but I just couldn´t find sympathy for the woman. I really can´t say why, either. It´s probably one of those “you either like ´em or ya don´t” situations. In my case, I didn´t like her as much as I thought I would.
  3. The Hero, Jesse. He felt a tad over the top. Yes, I´ve encountered worse in other novels but he wasn´t the type of Hero I would have picked for an old vs. new love.
  4. The choppy chapters. This isn´t a writing issue, per se. It´s a chapter issue. Unfortunately, I felt no swift flow from one chapter to another. Maybe this has to do with the story being stretched over a 15 year time span. Maybe not. The story still didn´t feel effortless due to the choppy chapters.

Other than that I had no complaints. I enjoyed the story for what it was: an emotional wreck with the “three´s a crowd” theme.


Would I recommend this read? That depends. If someone is looking for the ultimate “Oh, just shoot one already to put every other character out of their misery” then I´d say yes. Go for it. Have fun and don´t complain about the dragging pace.

Would I reread this book? I´m not sure.


The Cover – 3 Stars: I´m not a fan. It looks like someone was in a hurry and just used the next best available image. I wouldn´t have bought this book with that cover image.

The Story – 3 Stars: The author can deliver an emotional package pretty well. I had the feels.

The Characters – 3 Stars: I´m giving these characters a generous 3 stars because of the reasons I´ve mentioned above. I will give Alex ( Hero #2 ) 4 shining stars because he truly was a great character.

My emotional state after finishing this read: Satisfied.

3 stars

This book can be purchased on Amazon.com

 


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October Recap

Good bye, October. I´m not sure I´ll miss you as much as I miss last year´s October. 

And Happy  Belated Halloween!

Yes. It´s the last day of an epic month. Soon there won´t be any vibrant colors to admire and I´ll probably have to pack my knitted UGG boots away again because they´re not suitable for the long rainy days of November. I don´t fancy wet socks.

With that being said… Let´s just hop on over to the subject that really matters ( although, It´s really important to point out how nasty it is when you´re wearing socks and they get wet. Just saying )

October was an odd book month for me. Some time the middle of the month I reached my reading goal and even went on to add a few more books to my October reads.

A mind blow moment for me because that hardly ever happens. But with something positive always comes something negative, right? Right.

All my reads ( with the exception of my current read ) have earned 2 stars.


oct. review recap

 

 The Surface Breaks – Louise O´Neill

The Surface Breaks

A charming idea with too much feminism. I don´t mind politics or feminism in my chosen reads but this was supposed to be a Little Mermaid retelling. A classic fairy tale with a modern twist? Sure. Just don´t add Social Justice Worrior vibes to it, like this author did. Well deserved 2 stars. Full Review Here.

 

The Fault In Our Stars – John Green

The fault in our stars

This is a hyped beyond belief book I was reluctant to read. In fact- It took a few years to come around. In my opinion, this book is over-hyped. 2 stars. Full Review Here

 

Lie To Me ( Rising Star #1) – Lee Piper

Lie to me

A rockstar romance that wasn´t meant to be read by the likes of me. Not only did I have Bon Jovi´s song ” Lie To Me” stuck in my head te entire book, I also didn´t feel the stories vibe… nor did I understand the meanings of certain scenes. I expected more depth because rockstars are all about being deep and stuff, right? Well earned 2 stars. Full Review Here

 

All Your Perfects – Colleen Hoover

All your perfects

This book made me wish I had listened to my gut feeling. A true heartbreaking novel that didn´t touch my heart strings at all. Because of everything the book had and didn´t need. 2 stars. Full Review Here


 

And in between reading and typing up painful 2 star reviews I managed to break my head over a few other book related topics.

Do I Need A Domain For My Book Blog?

Standalones, Duets, Trilogies, Oh My.

The Book Blog Makeover

5 ReasonsWhy I Avoid Hyped Books

 

Not to forget my beloved Mug Monday features including other worldly bookish topics.

Mug Monday & Happy Bookish October

Mug Monday & Booktube Thoughts

Mug Monday & Bookish Talk

 

Unfortunately, life got in my way and forced me to skip a Mug Monday post.


 

So, you see? Disappointingly eventful, or, an eventful disappointment. Meeh. October was crappy. There. I said it.


 My newest Netgalley read ( which I´m enjoying, so far )

A Curse so dark and lonely

Book Title: A Curse So Dark And Lonely

Author: Brigid Kemmerer

Genre: Fantasy / Young Adult, Retelling

Expected Release Date: 29. January 2019

Publisher: Boomsbury 

 

Synopisis

Fall in love, break the curse.

It once seemed so easy to Prince Rhen, the heir to Emberfall. Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year over and over, he knew he could be saved if a girl fell for him. But that was before he learned that at the end of each autumn, he would turn into a vicious beast hell-bent on destruction. That was before he destroyed his castle, his family, and every last shred of hope.

Nothing has ever been easy for Harper Lacy. With her father long gone, her mother dying, and her brother barely holding their family together while constantly underestimating her because of her cerebral palsy, she learned to be tough enough to survive. But when she tries to save someone else on the streets of Washington, DC, she’s instead somehow sucked into Rhen’s cursed world.

Break the curse, save the kingdom.

A prince? A monster? A curse? Harper doesn’t know where she is or what to believe. But as she spends time with Rhen in this enchanted land, she begins to understand what’s at stake. And as Rhen realizes Harper is not just another girl to charm, his hope comes flooding back. But powerful forces are standing against Emberfall . . . and it will take more than a broken curse to save Harper, Rhen, and his people from utter ruin.

 

Sounds good, right? Well, it´s been quite a read so far. I haven´t had a chance to complain about anything, yet. Wish me luck for this one. ❤


 

I guess that´s it for October. Unfinished Reviews will be added to the November Reading / Review List. And other than that…. I think I have some cool news to share with you all next month. News I´m really excited about.

Let´s keep our fingers crossed that bookish November will knock me and everyone else out of my / everyone else´s socks.


 

Feel hugged and loved, dear bookish Padawans. Have a safe Halloween.

Much love,

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Standalones, Duets, Trilogies, Oh My.

Standalones. Duets. Trilogies…. Terms that are common in the literature world. These words tell a reader exactly what they´re getting themselves into before they purchase their next read.

But before we start, why not give everyone a quick reminder of what the true definition these words carry.

Standalone – A standalone is either a single book or a book from a series written by an author that doesn´t require a reader to have read the rest of the series in order to understand the plot. The book can stand on it´s own.

Duet – A 2 book story. Duo = Duet.

Trilogy – 1 connected / ongoing story available in a set of 3 books

Tetralogy – 4 books

Pentalogy – A set of 5 books

Hexalogy – 6 books

Series – A sequence of books

Novella – A long short story ( either connected to a story or a standalone )

And the list goes on and on and on….

 

There´s a wonderful large pallet of book sets ready for a reader to enjoy. But… are duets, trilogies and tetralogies really all that enjoyable? Or are author´s pushing their luck with their 5+ book series?

Here´s a little fun fact: Most book people ( bloggers and readers alike ) don´t even use certain terms when referring to a set / sequence of books. Any author that has published a connected story with 4 + books is called a series. Just as 3 books are a trilogy. No one goes out of their way to say they´ve read an awesome pentalogy.

Our book lingo is more simple. It´s either a standalone, a duet, a trilogy or a series.

Although, I have to admit that it does excite and amuse me when I see someone use ancient greek terms.

 

 

Since I lack the time to go out on the streets to do a proper book survey on the topic I´m just going to go ahead and grace you with my own personal observations regarding books, book sets and authors who beat the living daylights out of a story by stretching them into a 10 book series ( Oops, apologies for the passion I unleashed in that last sentence ).

For a reader, books and their series sizes are clearly a matter of preference. Some readers love when a story, written by their favorite author, never seems to find an end and some readers are delighted when a story stops after 3 books. It´s a split audience where no one wins or loses. There is no better or worse, right? Hmm…maybe.

For me… I´m not a fan of anything that´s blown out of proportion. I´m the type that´s totally fine with a story that finds an ending… and it stays that way.

For example: When I see a book I like and also see that it´s a standalone… I´ll not hesitate and buy it. But when I see it´s a book #1 then I feel a wave of disappointment wash over me.

  1. because it´ll usually take a year´s wait until a book #2 releases ( unless we´re talking Game of Thrones. I´ve lost all hope for the next GoT to ever be published in this century )
  2. because I have to invest more time in a story than intended.

Don´t get me started when I see a book #5. That makes me wanna cry on the spot.

Mind you, duets and trilogies aren´t off putting for me… I actually love a good ongoing story- As long as it´s well balanced and doesn´t give me the feeling of wanting to curse it to hell for not being in a single book instead of 3.

What would you think if I told you that standalones and series only work for certain genres? Okay, not really shocking news but it´s true. I´m a contemp. romance reader. Standalones are more common in the romance genre. Once in a while a trilogy trend will fly through and then us romance readers will be presented with the good ´ol standalones again.  Fantasy / Paranormal stories work differently.

A fantasy author faces world and character creations on a deeper level. It would be nearly impossible to stuff a well crafted idea into one single book and call it a day.

This is when book trilogies are born. Fantasy stories need space. They need to unfold and help a reader understand certain events. Most fantasy novels have a minimum of 3 books.

If a contemporary romance author publishes a romance trilogy then it´s usually a story that can be edited into a standalone or a duet. Because there´s no world creation. There´s only repetitive events until a climax is reached and the story ends. A contemp. romance author has to come up with one hell of a brilliant story to make it into a trilogy or else it´s just a waste of paper. What many contemp. romance author´s love to do is attach novellas to their stories ( to a standalone or series ). Something like a book # 1.5 and # 3.5. These are usually additional story info that´s not mandatory for the story itself. May this be for the dedicated fans that have been asking for MORE or the author wasn´t able to let go and move on…. some authors feel their characters need a Christmas special, an Easter hunt edition, or whatever, when there´s actually no need to continue a well ended story.

I might be shot for using this example but I´m going to risk it anyways.

For instance  – The Twilight Saga by author Stephanie Meyer.

Fantasy/Paranormal / Romance. 4 main books. ( not including exclusive fan material )

For fans of the series the author has graciously published a hardcover novella, dedicated to one of the sub characters, called `The Short Second Life Of Bree Tanner` book #3.5. Then, a little over a decade later the author presents the book world with `Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined` book # 1.75.

Were the added stories necessary? Probably not. For some die-hard Twilight fans, maybe. But to publish an almost identical story to the one that was published a decade earlier… That´s just kicking a dead horse. Looking for the payoff of a joke that´s long vanished around  the corner. Milking the cow  But hey…. as long as there´s a book # 1.75 and a book # 3.5 then all is good.

 

 

Then there are authors who don´t know when to call it quits with their stories. Let´s take a closer look at J. R. Ward´s Black Dagger Brotherhood series. A very popular 16 ( and growing ) book series that´s left it´s safe haven after book #10. Maybe even earlier.

Elite vampires fighting against evil, all while having beautiful raunchy sex in between shower and nap time breaks. I flipping loved those books until…. they went off course.

And here´s the problem: I ( incl. many other fans of the series ) love the original BDB. But with each new book more sub characters were introduced and the author felt those characters needed their own books as well. Before readers knew it, the story drifted away and focused on the new instead of sticking with the old.

For me- This is a clear sign for the author to move on. Create a new series. Say bye-bye to the BDB. But the author keeps going and going and going. The magic is gone and I´m not interested anymore. Especially not when a series has 16 + books.

And while we´re doing book mentions here… let´s throw Outlander in the mix, shall we?

A time – travel romance set in 1945 and 1743, by author Diana Gabaldon. This epic story will pull the socks right off of any readers feet with it´s historical accuracy and amazing characters. That is…. until the story becomes exhausting. That happens around book 5 or 6. Too many added characters, too much history, too much of everything and that makes this difficult to enjoy the books. A series with 8 books and I lost patience after book #5. Now I´m just waiting for the story to end.

 

Of course, I understand that authors have ideas and stories they need to tell. Some of those stories need lots of attention. Some of those ideas need to be put down on paper. I get that and would never prevent an author from doing their thing.

It´s just that often ( if not always ) overly large series are unnecessary. Trilogies are unnecessary. Book #2.5,  # 3.75, and even book # 0.75 is totally unnecessary.

(These are just my humble thoughts on the subject. I´d love to meet someone who thinks otherwise, just to show me the beauty of the flip side.)

Adding books to a perfectly completed standalone, duet, trilogy does not make a story greater than it already is. Unless you´re a die – hard fan and can´t get enough of said story…. then I´m more than happy you´re happy.

So, if anyone´s interested…. I´m this type of reader:

Love standalones. Enjoy duets. Like trilogies. Dislike anything that has more than 4+ book in a series. Hate added novellas.

 

 

What are your thoughts on Standalones, duets and Co.? Do you enjoy reading large series or do you ignore them? Let´s chat. ❤


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Book Review: With This Man ( This Man #4) – Jodi Ellen Malpas

Synopsis

Jesse Ward is back in the newest novel in the #1 New York Times Bestselling This Man series!

Life is good for Jesse “The Lord” Ward. Perfect, actually. He still has the charm, he’s in great shape, and he still reduces his wife, Ava, to a pool of desire with a mere look. He’s in full control, just how he likes it.

But Jesse’s perfect world falls apart when a terrible accident lands Ava in the hospital with a life-threatening head injury. Devastated and angry, he feels like his entire existence hangs in the balance. He cannot survive without this woman’s love. So when she finally comes around, his shaking world begins to level out. But his nightmare doesn’t end there. It’s only just begun. Because his wife can’t remember the last sixteen years of her life. That’s all of him. All of their time together. He is a stranger to her.

Now Jesse must do whatever it takes to find her memories . . . and help her fall madly, passionately in love with him all over again.

My Thoughts

Jesse Ward. The Lord of the Manor. The passionate nutcase of all romantic nutcases. My man. The only crazed book boyfriend I will ever accept.

He´s back and he´s on a damn mission. To help his Ava remember…..

I´m a huge `This Man´ fan. I don´t have the Hoodie ( or the oversized sleep shirt. I´m tempted, though ) but I still consider myself a huge fan. Huge. Really.

Anyway…

You can imagine how I reacted when I found out about a book #4, `With This Man`? With this manGood golly! I was doing my infamous book rain dance around the house. I even pre-ordered the book on Amazon ( something I never do ).

It came. I read. I…..

Let´s put it this way: You should be a fan to appreciate `With This Man` by Jodi Ellen Malpas. I can´t see any other way accepting this read would work.

The books in the `This Man`trilogy tell a pretty over fluffed, intense, totally far-fetched story about a guy who´s overly obsessed with a woman but in a questionable way.

A natural-born, modern Neanderthal.

It´s been a long while since I last held the This Man trilogy in my hands. I remember thinking of ways I would have put him down ( the good old Frying Pan – Over – The – Head method is still my absolute favorite ). That´s how absurd the male protagonist was…is.

Still. Despite not actually liking caveman behaviorism in romances I did love Jesse Ward. I loved his love story. I can´t explain why.

Reading `With This Man` pulled me back to my private Jesse cloud. But was I as mesmerized as I was years ago?

Yes and no.
Let´s break this down.

Yes, I loved revisiting old characters. I loved seeing where their story continued. Jesse Ward is hard to ignore or forget. I loved how passionate he was. I loved how he treated life ( his life being his children and wife ). I enjoyed his POV. Because the story was mainly told from his perspective. The wonderful walk down memory lane was great. With great patience Jesse fought to help Ava remember everything. The pain of losing memories and still making new ones – Not a shabby idea.

With all the love I felt for this book, there can´t possibly be anything negative, right?

Weeeeell * sigh *, there were 2 things that bugged me. Two tiny details I didn´t care for much.

  1. Jesse has gone a tad soft. I get it. A person changes with age. I guess it´s only natural for fictional characters to go through the same change as us mortal folk do. The intensity wasn´t as strong, though.

The threat of the story. It would have been completely enough for the Heroine to get her memory back. That, alone, is something to celebrate huge. But to recycle characters is not on my “Holy f*****g cow! You got me there!” list.

I´m a “Threat dealt with? Let´s move on. New threat? Wonderful.” type of person. I would have prefered to have seen a new threat instead of something I´ve seen before.

With that being said –  I still enjoyed `With This Man`. It´s not as over – the – moon spectacular but still okay. The writing was, as always, a pleasure. The dialogue was great. I´m still a fan of Jodi Ellen Malpas.

That´s why I´m going to go ahead and rate this with 4 out of 5 stars.

Without my Jesse love I´d flat out rate this with 3 stars because… well, the recycling wasn´t a great move.

 

Would I re-read this book? Probably. If I´m in the mood. Certainly bits and pieces. A chapter here. A chapter there. I may skip the ending.  I´d rather read the first 3 books, though.

Would I recommend this book? Yes and no. For any Jodi Ellen Malpas fan, I´d say YES! It´s a must have. But if you´re not into overbearing, possessive, obsessive Heroes then I´d say this isn´t the book for you.

 

The Cover – 5 stars ( I like the white. I like the rings and the flower. Very simple, easy on the eyes and still eye-catchy )

The Story – 3-4 stars ( The idea of Ava losing her memory was great. But to add the threat from the other 3 books? I think I´ll pass.)

The Characters 4-5 stars ( It´s been great having the Manor gang back and seeing how Jesse and Ava had progressed but Jesse… My man, what happened? )

My emotional state after finishing this read – Happy. Not overly satisfied but still happy.

4 stars

 

 

 

 

 

Purchase Links  This Man ( #1 ) , Beneath This Man ( #2 )This Man Confessed ( #3 )

With This Man ( #4 )  With this man

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