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,

Banner name

 

 

 

Book Review: Unseen Messages – Pepper Winters

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“There is a message for everything. From handwritten to verbal, seen and unseen. Messages exist all around us.” 

But what if you don’t see?
What if you don’t understand?
What if, by ignoring the message, your life is never the same again?

Estelle Evermore morphed from nobody to somebody overnight.
Galloway Oak put his past behind him and endeavoured to make his fortune using his trade.

Two strangers.
One plane.
Multiple unseen messages.
From sky to island, they find neither fame nor skills can save them. Stripped from society and left alone to survive the elements, the very task of staying alive outweighs all other needs.
Until survival turns to desire.
And desire turns to danger.

 

 

My Thoughts 2

 

Sometimes short reads need to be longer.  Sometimes long reads need to be shorter.  With `Unseen Messages` by author Pepper Winters, I believe the latter is more fitting. unseen messages

 

Pepper Winters is a talented writer but there is one thing that gets on my last nerve when it comes to her books. The way the author emphasizes certain parts in her stories. This will look something like this:

 

” A minute  t..i..c..k..e..d  past.”

 

What´s also very popular with the author is not always giving complete sentences, which often ends up seeming lazy.

“I cried.

I sobbed. 

I begged.

Anyone… please…

Help us. “

While this isn´t world shattering, it does irritate me. So much so that I feel the need to mention this is my review for `Unseen Messages`, one of the author´s ( in my opinion ) less finest published works.

I´ve read quite a few Pepper Winters books and all of them were quite special in their own special way. But `Unseen Messages` really tops off all the special in the world.

The main killer for me was the overload on details. This almost 600 page book could have easily been a 300 page read if half the unnecessary additional info had been taken out. Imagine how excited I was to finally get to read a nearly 600 page book and have that excitement turn into sheer boredom after finding out what made the book so long.

Too.

Many.

Details.

And.

This.

Crap.

Killed.

My.

Interest.

&.

Reading.

Flow.

( isn´t that annoying?)
And I haven´t even started on the story.

What made this book a terrible sort of special was the fact that the story felt like nonsense to me.

Because when your flight crashes and you end up on a deserted island with a guy and 2 random kids  you feel all kinds of sexual helplessness, right? Yes, because that is always on the top 5 survival trick list- 1) Find food. 2) Find a bed. 3) take in your dire situation. 4) Have some inner thoughts. 5) scratch that itch.

( note to self: Watch Bear Grylls and see if he´s sexually sparked on his survival shows )

I kept in mind what other fellow bloggers said: This is not your typical Pepper Winters book. Yeah, they weren´t lying. It was worse for me.

I also never thought inner dialogues could annoy me as much as a dragging story could. Good Lord, I began to notice my own annoyed deep breaths everytime an inner dialogue came up.

Normally, I would have DNF´d this book in a heartbeat if it weren´t for the fact that I thought I was going to end up getting a mind blowing ending. I mean- almost 600 pages and a burning wrist from holding the brick of a paperback tricked me into believing I´d get my “holy shit” ending. I did not.

 


 

Would I recommend this read? No. I sincerely wouldn´t. Just watch Tom Hanks in Castaway. I swear Wilson had more spark.

Would I reread this book? I already passed it down. No point in keeping a book that enraged me more than it pleased me.


 

The Cover – 4 Stars:    Not bad. I like the colors.

The Story – 1 Star:      I refuse.

The Charcaters – 1 Star:    I´m still refusing.

My emotional state after finishing this read – I´m done.

 

1 star

 


 

You can purchase `Unseen Messages` on Amazon.com 

unseen messages

Book Review: The Butterfly Project – Emma Scott

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“Where you are is home…”

At age fourteen, Zelda Rossi witnessed the unthinkable, and has spent the last ten years hardening her heart against the guilt and grief. She channels her pain into her art: a dystopian graphic novel where vigilantes travel back in time to stop heinous crimes—like child abduction—before they happen. Zelda pitches her graphic novel to several big-time comic book publishers in New York City, only to have her hopes crash and burn. Circumstances leave her stranded in an unfamiliar city, and in an embarrassing moment of weakness, she meets a guarded young man with a past he’d do anything to change…

Beckett Copeland spent two years in prison for armed robbery, and is now struggling to keep his head above water. A bike messenger by day, he speeds around New York City, riding fast and hard but going nowhere, his criminal record holding him back almost as much as the guilt of his crime. 

Zelda and Beckett form a grudging alliance of survival, and in between their stubborn clash of wills, they slowly begin to provide each other with the warmth of forgiveness, healing, and maybe even love. But when Zelda and Beckett come face to face with their pasts, they must choose to hold on to the guilt and regret that bind them, or let go and open their hearts for a shot at happiness. 

The Butterfly Project is a novel that reveals the power of forgiveness, and how even the smallest decisions of the heart can—like the flutter of a butterfly’s wings—create currents that strengthen into gale winds, altering the course of a life forever.


My Thoughts 2

I feel like I deserve to be kicked. I had `The Butterfly Project` on my TBR pile for over a full year and didn´t feel moved to read it. Why? Well, I have one excuse that makes me feel a little better.

I bought this at the RARE Berlin ´17 book signing, straight from the source, at Emma Scott´s table. I walked right up to her and told her I needed something to read that doesn´t involve college students.

“Please have something that involves adults. I need a romance. I need something with substance. I need to be able to relate.”

I must have looked like a mad woman because the confusion on her face spoke volumes. But she was quick. While I was still talking she picked `The Butterfly Project`for me and I bought it. I was a desperate mess and in the need of something that didn´t have over the top characters.The Butterfly Project

After that I drove home and totally forgot about the book again ( despite my desperation ).

Over a year later….

I finally pushed myself to read `The Butterfly Project`. Now I feel all sorts of awful because this is exactly what I wanted. Emma Scott´s writing and storytelling skill is right up my alley. The author has an uncanny ability to draw a reader in with her words.

So easy. So subtle. So worth every minute of my time. 

I won´t bother giving you my own book description ( because they´re too” special” ). The synopsis does a far better job than I ever could. Instead, I´ll just gush out my feelings for this story.

At first, I didn´t know what exactly to expect. But then with each turned page I fell more and more in love. The story is one of those makes – you – feel – good types of reads, even though nothing is perfect. The characters are flawed, even until the end. The issues the couple struggle with aren´t magically gone after the first kiss.

Let´s introduce the MCs:

Zelda ( Heroine ) was a treat. Despite her miserable past she was still strong willed and caring. What a wonderful soul. I was touched and I loved.

Beckett, the Hero…. Good laawd, that man * takes dramatic sip of coke * He´s a proper book boyfriend ( if there is such a thing ). A picture book perfect Hero with just the right balance.

Both even functioned amazingly well as a couple! I cannot ask for more.

`The Butterfly Project`is a standalone, dual POV, slow burn and kind romance that´ll definitely leave an impression.


Would I recommend this book? Yes. I would. For romance lovers who enjoy a good heart warmer…. definitely.

Would I reread this book? * nod *


 

The Cover – 3 Stars: The cover image doesn´t do much for me.

The Story – 5 Stars: I have no major complaints.

The Characters – 5 Stars: A treat, I tell you. A TREAT!

My emotional state after finishing this read: 100% satisfied.

5 stars

Buy the book!   Amazon.com    ◊    Amazon.co.uk


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Book Review: The Mother Road – Meghan Quinn

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Never in a million years would I have pictured myself as an axe-wielding, dragon lady, chopping up multi-colored flannel shirts into my very own plaid mulch. But here I am, chopping away my frustrations.

It all started when my brother, Paul, convinced me to go on one last family road trip across the Mother Road with him and my dad.. Just like old times, right? Wrong. What Paul fails to mention is his best man, Porter, will be joining us, who just so happens to be my childhood crush and the man who broke my heart four years ago. 

What is supposed to be a fun, family bonding experience across Route 66 turns into a war of pranks, awkward moments and bathrooms full of dirty flannel shirts and day old beard clippings. Paul’s know-it-all attitude and Porter’s devilish charm brings me to the brink of my sanity on my seven day trek across the United States with three bearded men in a small 1980’s RV.


My Thoughts 2

I´ve gotta hand it to the author… Meghan Quinn has a way with words. Her writing is hilarious. It´s so full of positive energy and full of life that you really can´t help but enjoy what she wrote.

`The Mother Road`, a standalone rom – com told in dual POVs ( Hero & Heroine ). Or, it´s a road trip romance that screams of disastrous moments and funny as hell banters.

The Mother Road

It was good. Really entertaining. I certainly haven´t read a story like this one before. But I have watched a gazillion rom – com road trip movies.

So, what´s the difference between a rom – com road trip movie and a rom – com road trip novel? There isn´t one. Which isn´t a problem. I like road trip romances.

But, did I like `The Mother Road` by Meghan Quinn? Yeah… no… Well, I´m not sure.

There were parts I definitely enjoyed. Some parts made me laugh so hard I had to set my cereal bowl down for a moment just to catch my breath. And then there were those moments that had me feeling all kinds of awkward. My guess is those awkward parts were, indeed, funny only I wasn´t able to see the humor.

Then came those scenes where I was slightly fed up with the humor. I was thinking

“Alrighty. Let´s move on.”

But the humor didn´t want to move on.

There was also the Heroine issue, again ( I´ve had a problem with the author´s Heroine from A Virgins Romance Novelist ). I don´t know what it is but this is the second time the author´s Heroine started out great and became extremely exhausting.

Marley was great. So great until it was obvious she was just being ridiculous with her attitude. There´s a fine line between being cute and being a total shit for a long period of time for no greater reason. The Heroine doesn´t take shit. She gives shit. She gives too much shit.

As for the Hero, Porter, I liked him. I liked his character so much so that I wished he´d be my BFF.

As for the romantic side of the story- Meeh * wave off * It could have been greater. It could have been less aggressive ( because when the Heroine says she´s the beat – them – then – treat – them type of girl then you know what you´re getting yourself into)

All in all not a terrible read. A little less tom boy, tough girly, all shit and balls behavior and I would have adored this book.

But I didn´t. So,…


 

Would I recommend this book? Yeah, sure. Why not? I know loads of people who love these types of stories and who also enjoy Heroine´s I´d rather stay away from. It´s a fun road trip romance with humor.

Would I reread this book? Probably not.


 

The Cover – 5 Stars: I´m living for this cover! So colorful, simple and quirky. A total eye catcher.

The Story – 3 Stars: Take away the road trip and you have yourself a story we´ve all read before. There´s nothing new, just told in a humorous way.

The Characters – 3 Stars: Yeah, no. I´m not going to put Marley on my list of worthy Heroines. But I will shine some light on Porter, though. Gotta love that guy.

My emotional state after finishing this read: Not impressed. Not disappointed.

3 stars

This book can be purchase on Amazon.com


 

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Book Review- The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw

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Welcome to the cursed town of Sparrow…

Where, two centuries ago, three sisters were sentenced to death for witchery. Stones were tied to their ankles and they were drowned in the deep waters surrounding the town.

Now, for a brief time each summer, the sisters return, stealing the bodies of three weak-hearted girls so that they may seek their revenge, luring boys into the harbor and pulling them under.

Like many locals, seventeen-year-old Penny Talbot has accepted the fate of the town. But this year, on the eve of the sisters’ return, a boy named Bo Carter arrives; unaware of the danger he has just stumbled into.

Mistrust and lies spread quickly through the salty, rain-soaked streets. The townspeople turn against one another. Penny and Bo suspect each other of hiding secrets. And death comes swiftly to those who cannot resist the call of the sisters.

But only Penny sees what others cannot. And she will be forced to choose: save Bo, or save herself. 

 


 

My Thoughts 2

This is another case of “It´s not the book. It´s me.” Or, maybe the book is my problem…

I liked loved the synopsis. It´s captivating and just screams at a reader to buy the book.

Because it sounds interesting. The story sounds dark and mysterious. It appears to have that certain witchy atmosphere. A promise of legends and curses mixing with reality and…. above all, there´s a promise of something magical.

I can´t say that `The Wicked Deep` by author Shea Ernshaw was a complete the wicked deepdisappointment because there were quite a few parts I really enjoyed about the story. But the other parts? 40% of the story wasn´t as enjoyable as I had hoped it would be.

Was the story dark and mysterious?
Well, it did have a nice dark atmosphere and it did offer a hint of mystery in the beginning. But since the story was predictable the mystery part was flushed down the drain and that made my reading experience less enjoyable.

`The Wicked Deep` is a full blown cliché. While the writing is great the story is rather flat and shallow.

The threat was there but it felt restricted. As if the author didn´t want to go too far with her characters.

I would have liked for the “witches” ( as they were so lovingly sold to the readers ) to have had more spotlight. It wouldn´t have hurt if they had been included in more scenes. They drowned on land as they did when they were forced to drown in the pacific ocean.

As for the main characters- I would have appreciated if Penny hadn´t felt robotic. Bo was a Hero I´d consider to be 2 dimensional. Present but transparent, lacking depth.

As for the end of the story…. It won a smirk from me.



 

Would I recommend this book? I would. I´m sure there are many readers who would appreciate this type of witch book. It´s a nice standalone that´s not too high-toned.

Would I re – read this book? Nope.

 

The Cover – 5 stars ( The cover is stunning. Simple, colorful and the title is catchy.)

The Story – 3 stars ( While there were parts I loved I couldn´t get over the stuff I didn´t enjoy. If it´s said that witches are involved then I´d appreciate reading about witches. If there´s a curse then I would like that curse to have some magical background.  )

The Characters – 2 stars ( All had their own voices. I find it odd, though, when MC are less emotional than sub characters. I also find it worrying when sub characters have more depth. When MCs don´t stand out ( as they should) then I lose interest)

My emotional state after finishing this read – Indifferent.

3 stars

Buy `The Wicked Deep`

 

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