Thursday, March 20, 2014

Review: Isn't She Lovely by Lauren Layne

Title: Isn't She Lovely
Author: Lauren Layne
Publication date: October 28th 2013
Publisher: Flirt
My rating: 5 of 5 Stars
SUMMARY (from Goodreads)
Stephanie Kendrick gave up her whole summer to ace her NYU film school screenwriting course, so she's pissed to be stuck with a preppy, spoiled frat boy as her writing partner. Then again, with her piercings, black-rimmed eyes, and Goth wardrobe, Stephanie isn't exactly Ethan Price's type, either. He's probably got his eye on some leggy blonde with a trust fund... or does he?

As the summer scene kicks off in the Hamptons, Ethan is desperate to make his snobbish mother forget the pedigreed girl who broke his heart. While Stephanie's a stretch as a decoy, the right makeover and a pastel cardigan just might do the trick. She may not love the idea of playing Ethan's brainless Barbie girlfriend, but the free rent and luxurious digs make a tempting offer. So does the promise of a ready-made screenplay idea inspired by their charade.

But when Stephanie steps into Ethan's privileged world, the "acting" begins to feel all too real. The kissing and touching that were intended to fool the Hamptons crowd wind up manipulating "them." And Stephanie faces a question she's too afraid to ask: Is Ethan falling for the real her or for the dolled-up princess he wants to see?

This was wonderful.

Wanting to read something light and romantic I picked up Isn't She Lovely. I just wanted to be entertained but this book took me by surprise. It is so much more than I have initially thought. Yes, this book is light and very enjoyable, but it’s not your usual fluffy and forgettable read. Isn't She Lovely has great romance, well-fleshed characters, witty banters; it also deals with family issues.

Stephanie Kendrick is a Goth girl: piercings, eyeliner, black clothes and attitude. Ethan is a rich preppy boy. When two of them are paired up for a summer film project, they are not thrilled. Later they decide to change Stephanie’s makeover, find her “right” clothes and introduce her as Ethan new girlfriend. But as they pretend, the acting begins to feel too real and Stefanie asks herself if Ethan falling for real her or for the girl she is pretending to be.

At first glance Isn’t She Lovely is romance of opposites attract; a story that I’ve heard so many times before. But Lauren Layne’s writing is wonderful. So while the idea in this book is unoriginal, the execution is very good.

The romance was the main reason I loved this book. There was the great build-up and anticipation between Stephanie and Ethan. The relationship developed at a slow nice pace (with many swoony and steamy moments).

Despite the romance being one of the focal points of this book, it was also about Stephanie and Ethan dealing with their family problems. Ethan found out that his mother cheated on his father. Stefanie’s father remarried after her mother’s death and their relationship is not great. During the book both Stephanie and Ethan grow up and face their difficulties.

I really enjoyed this book and could barely put it down. This was my first book by Lauren Layne, but I’ll definitely check her other books.

PS. The cover is awful. It doesn’t make justice this book at all.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Review: These Broken Stars (Starbound #1) by Amie Kaufman, Meagan Spooner

Title: These Broken Stars (Starbound #1)
Author: Amie Kaufman, Meagan Spooner
Publication date: December 10th 2013
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
My rating: 5 of 5 Stars
SUMMARY (from Goodreads)
It's a night like any other on board the Icarus. Then, catastrophe strikes: the massive luxury spaceliner is yanked out of hyperspace and plummets into the nearest planet. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen survive. And they seem to be alone.

Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver comes from nothing, a young war hero who learned long ago that girls like Lilac are more trouble than they’re worth. But with only each other to rely on, Lilac and Tarver must work together, making a tortuous journey across the eerie, deserted terrain to seek help.

Then, against all odds, Lilac and Tarver find a strange blessing in the tragedy that has thrown them into each other’s arms. Without the hope of a future together in their own world, they begin to wonder—would they be better off staying here forever?

Everything changes when they uncover the truth behind the chilling whispers that haunt their every step. Lilac and Tarver may find a way off this planet. But they won’t be the same people who landed on it.

First of all I want to say that the cover is stunning. I absolutely love it! Though lately beautiful covers often accompany bad books I still can’t walk away from a gorgeous one.

These Broken Stars is a book that I’ve been dying to read for months now. In truth I began to read this book with a little apprehension. After all the high ratings and amazing reviews I had read my expectations were very high. I was afraid to be disappointed, but disappointed I was not. This was a really good book.

Though These Broken Stars is the first book in Starbound trilogy, it reads as a stand-alone. Dear authors, I appreciate it very much. I hate when the first book ends with a cliffhanger and I don’t have the second one and have to wait for months to know what happened next. In Starbound trilogy there will be 3 companion novels, about different people in the same world.

The world in These Broken Stars is huge and has great possibilities. Unfortunately the world building is rather scarce and this is my only complaint about this book. I want to know more about this society. But the authors give us only the outline in the first book. I hope to see more in the next one.

The story was told in the POVs of Lilac and Tarver. And I really liked these little parts of Tarver’s interrogation between the chapters.

Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen are the only survivals after crash of a spaceship Irarus. Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver is a young war hero; he came from middle-class and is treated like the lowest among society. To survive on an unknown planet they have to work together.

One of the great aspects of this book was mystery. It kept me turning pages. I could barely put the book down; I just needed to know what was going on with Lilac and Tarver. Voices? Is Lilac going crazy? Why Tarver is interrogated? What has happened to them? Where is Lilac? Endless questions were in my head. I don’t get answers for all my questions. There are some loose ends. I get the feeling that the authors made this deliberately and we’ll get more information in the next installment.

This book is not sci-fi, it is romance driven. If you don’t like romance and want sci-fi, spaceships and so on, maybe this book is not for you. If you want beautiful romance with sci-fi entourage, grab These Broken Stars.

I really liked the romance here. I loved the dynamic of Lilac and Tarver’s relationship: from distrust and prejudice into reluctant partnership into friendship and trust and later love. I wanted more steam, but I understand that they had more important things like survival.

This book is a perfect mix of sci-fi, romance, survival and mystery. I highly recommend it!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Mini-Review: Price of a Kiss (Forbidden Men #1) by Linda Kage

Title: Price of a Kiss (Forbidden Men #1
Author: Linda Kage
Publication date: August 15th 2013
My rating: 2 of 5 Stars
SUMMARY (from Goodreads)
I don’t care what my cousin says; I am not the queen of impossible relationships. I mean, just because my last boyfriend tried to kill me and left a bit of a scar on my neck, then forced me to move across the country and legally change my name to Reese Randall to escape him, does not mean—

Oh, who am I kidding? For a freshman in college, I have to have the worst dating track record ever.

It’s no wonder love is the last thing on my mind when Mason Lowe enters my life. But the chemistry between us is like bam! Our connection defies logic. And he’s just so freaking hot. Being around him makes me feel more alive than I’ve ever felt before. I even like bickering with him. He could be my soul mate...except for one teeny tiny glitch.

He's a gigolo.

Boy, do I know how to pick them.

Rating 2.5 stars.

The main reason I didn’t like this book is the annoying obsession Reese with Mason. He is the only thing on Reese’s mind.

Her thoughts, when she sees Mason for the first time: “His dark, wavy hair called to me – Reese, Reese! Run your fingers through my wild, gorgeous, untamed mane.”

They made eye contact for the first time: “I was electrocuted from the inside out. My fingertips sizzled and toes curled as if an invisible, kinetically charged bolt tethered me to the hunk fifty yards away, who seemed to bind us together with his stare alone”

Mason was going to walk right by Reese on his way to the school: “Nothing but ten feet of dead air was going to separate him from me. Dear Lord in heaven, please deliver me. Could I survive such close proximity? I honestly didn’t know. My chest heaved from the sudden unsteady rhythm of my breathing.”

And it were only first 30 pages, and they didn’t actually meet yet!

On the positive side Reese was funny with sense of humor. Her internal monologs and comments were hilarious.

My second problem with this book was execution of the theme of male prostitution. I’ve read several books with a similar topic and there are two types of stories among them. The first one shows what a struggle is to escape this kind of life for a person. The second one is a glossed up story with a neat ending. Unfortunately “Price of a Kiss” falls in the second category (another example is Just for Now by Abbi Glines). If you want romance which show male prostitution in more real light try Finding Home by Lauren Baker, Bonnie Dee or Fallen from Grace by Laura Leone.

Mini-Review: Keep Holding On by Susane Colasanti

Title: Susane Colasanti
Author: Susane Colasanti
Publication date: May 31st 2012
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
My rating: 2 of 5 Stars
SUMMARY (from Goodreads)
Noelle's life is all about survival. Even her best friend doesn't know how much she gets bullied, or the ways her mom neglects her. Noelle's kept so much about her life a secret for so long that when her longtime crush Julian Porter starts paying attention to her, she's terrified. Surely it's safer to stay hidden than to risk the pain of a broken heart. But when the antagonism of her classmates takes a dramatic turn, Noelle realizes it's time to stand up for herself--and for the love that keeps her holding on.


After reading the blurb I was expecting an intense and emotional story. The blurb said: "A romantic and empowering book about bullying". I found Keep Holding On rather boring and annoying. I wanted a storm of emotions, but I felt nothing. You know about showing and not telling? Susane Colasanti shows little and tells too much.

It was really hard for me to connect with Noelle; I never felt much for her. No, that’s not truth, she annoyed me a lot.

Bullying and abuse are very serious themes; unfortunately Keep Holding On fails to deliver emotions. I think Reason to Breathe by Rebecca Donovan and Heart on a Chain by Cindy C. Bennett is much better.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Review: Lifers by Jane Harvey-Berrick

Title: Lifers
Author: Jane Harvey-Berrick
Publication date: February 7th 2014
My rating: 4 of 5 Stars
SUMMARY (from Goodreads)
After eight years in prison, twenty-four year old Jordan Kane is the man everyone loves to hate.

Forced to return to his hometown while on parole, Jordan soon learns that this small town hasn't changed since he was carted off to juvie all those years ago. He is the local pariah, shunned by everyone, including his own parents. But their hatred of him doesn't even come close to the loathing he feels every time he looks in the mirror.

Working odd jobs for the preacher lady, Jordan bides his time before he can leave this backwards town. But can distance erase the memories that haunt him? Trapped in the prison of his own mind Jordan wonders if the pain of living will ever subside?

Torrey Delaney is new in town and certainly doesn't behave in a way the locals believe a preacher’s daughter should. Her reputation for casual hook-ups and meaningless sex is the talk of the town. Add that to her budding friendship with the hardened ex-con handyman, and the good Reverend is less than thrilled with her estranged daughter’s path.

As friendship forms, is it possible for two damaged people who are afraid to love take their relationship to the next level? Can Torrey live with Jordan’s demons, and can Jordan break through Torrey's walls? With the disapproval of a small town weighing heavily on them, will they find their place in the world? Can they struggle against the odds, or will their world be viciously shattered?

Is love a life sentence?

I’ve read several books by Jane Harvey-Berrick and she continues to surprise me. She creates very different characters and does not repeat herself. Many authors are guilty of using similar characters in each of their books, but not Jane Harvey-Berrick.

So our main characters:

Jordan Kane returned to his judgmental small hometown while on parole. He is twenty-four years old and he spent eight of them in prison. Everyone including his own parents hates him. He is alone until he meets Torrey Delaney. Torrey is a daughter of a local preacher. She only recently came to live with her preacher mother and she definitely does not behave as a saint. Her meaningless sex is the talk of the town. These two form unlikely friendship which progresses to much more.

Torrey is a character which not often portraits in New Adult and Young Adult. She is confident and does not suffer unnecessary complexes about her appearance. She is pretty and she knows it. She has a carefree attitude about life, including sex. She loves sex, has sex and she doesn’t afraid to talk about sex (Yes, I know, I used the word “sex” three times in this sentence). So those of you who hates slut shaming should give Lifers a try if only for its main female character. This is what Jordan says about Torrey: “You’re just so fearless, a real straight shooter. You don’t take shit from on one, and you say it like it is”.

Jordan is such a wonderful main male character. He suffered so much in his life, but he is kind, sweet and caring. Torrey says about Jordan: “Through and through, Jordan was an intriguing mix of contradictions: his hard body, his soft lips; his serious, sensible nature; his wild and passionate side; the scary, prison demeanor he could switch on; his gentle soul”.

Romance in this book, although somewhat insta-love, was wonderful. I was rooting for these two. I liked how Torrey never takes advantage of Jordan – emotionally or physically, because he is very vulnerable. She is very supportive of him. Everyone hates him and blames him, but most of all he hates himself. He feels so much guilt and pain. Meeting Torrey helps him to leave this destructive path.

I should warn you there are quite a few graphic sex scenes. So if you like clean romances, this book is not for you.

This couple faces many hurdles and usually I am very skeptic of the future of such relationship. Yes, they love each other and together they fight against the world. But what happens few years in the future? I wasn’t skeptic in this case. I just know that Jordan and Torrey will find their HEA. And the main reason I’m so sure of it is Torrey’s personality. She is so vibrant and alive, she is honest and fearless, she is a real fighter and she’ll make it all work.

Jane Harvey-Berrick also draws attention to a serious topic in this book. Adaptation to “normal” live for ex-con is very difficult. So often these people return to prisons because they don’t fit. Also it’s very scary how just a little mistake can be fatal in someone’s life.

Overall, Lifers was a pretty decent read.


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Review: A Modern Love Story by Jolyn Palliata

Title: A Modern Love Story
Author: Jolyn Palliata
Publication date: April 1st 2013
My rating: 2 из 5
SUMMARY (from Goodreads)
After the death of her parents, Robbie Byrne is put in foster care where she meets her exact opposite, Luc Cintrone. Abandoned as a small child, Luc is a foul-mouthed rebel who takes it upon himself to be her defender, whether she likes it or not. As they grow up, they fumble through their different roles in each other's lives—family, confidants and then, ultimately, lovers.

Just as the couple is settling into their newfound relationship, they encounter a beautiful lawyer, Payten, who is immediately taken by Luc's rough edges. But he denies her, making him absolutely irresistible in her eyes. Payten is a woman who has grown accustomed in her privileged life in obtaining whatever she wants, no matter the cost or sacrifice. And she is fairly confident Luc will eventually see things her way…one way or another.

First 30% of A Modern Love Story was good. My rating for this part is3.5 Stars. It was sweet, romantic and innocent story about two foster kids: Robbie, whose parents died, and Luc, whose parents abandoned him. We see their relationship move from reluctant partnership to friendship to love (though at first only Robbie felt this way). I liked how every chapter was a quick glance in their 12 years old, then 14 years old and so on. I think this story had potential but after about 30% it all went wrong and by the end of the book it became only worse.

My first problem with this book was cheating. I usually avoid this theme, so if I knew beforehand there would be cheating in this book I wouldn’t pick it up. Although cheating is not my theme I can appreciate it if it tackled well, which I can’t say about this A Modern Love Story. Luc never redeemed himself in my eyes. Rather big portion of the book is about cheating, and author can’t make readers invest their emotions and time in these cheating scenes and later make some quick excuses for hero. Luc says he is sorry and he is forgiven.

My second problem was the plot and characterization of Payten. Plot was unbelievable. Payten was pictured as an evil villain, who stops at nothing (and I mean nothing) to have Luc. The things she did to ruin Luc and Robbie’s relationship were so ridiculous and unbelievable, that they make me roll my eyes.

The one thing I really appreciate in this book is portraying of the foster parents. Not all of foster parents are abusers, sadists or rapists (this picture we often see in Young Adult and New Adult nowadays).There is actually caring and loving foster parents. I adored Leah and Lawson. I wish they were more fleshed-out.

All and all A Modern Love Story is not the greatest book. While there are parts I liked, this was a disappointment.