First Star I See Tonight by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Publication Date: August 23rd, 2016
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers

Find this book here:

Rating: ★★★

“A star quarterback and a feisty detective play for keeps in this sporty, sexy, sassy novel—a long-awaited new entry in the beloved, award-winning, New York Times bestselling author’s fan-favorite Chicago Stars football series.

Piper Dove is a woman with a dream—to become the best detective in the city of Chicago. First job? Trail former Chicago Stars quarterback, Cooper Graham. Problem? Graham’s spotted her, and he’s not happy.

Which is why a good detective needs to think on her feet. “The fact is…I’m your stalker. Not full-out barmy. Just…mildly unhinged.”

Piper soon finds herself working for Graham himself, although not as the bodyguard he refuses to admit he so desperately needs. Instead, he’s hired her to keep an eye on the employees at his exclusive new nightclub. But Coop’s life might be in danger, and Piper’s determined to protect him, whether he wants it or not. (Hint: Not!) If only she weren’t also dealing with a bevy of Middle Eastern princesses, a Pakistani servant girl yearning for freedom, a teenager who just wants to fit in, and an elderly neighbor demanding Piper find her very dead husband.

And then there’s Cooper Graham himself, a legendary sports hero who always gets what he wants—even if what he wants is a feisty detective hell bent on proving she’s as tough as he is.

From the bustling streets of Chicago to a windswept lighthouse on Lake Superior to the glistening waters of Biscayne Bay, two people who can’t stand to lose will test themselves and each other to discover what matters most.”

Review:

I have been hearing a lot about Susan Elizabeth Phillips, so I thought I would give her book a try. This book was alright, but it definitely wasn’t my favorite read.

This book definitely grabbed my attention right away. The contemporary romances always seem to have that affect on me, but I really like when one of the main characters plays a sport. After reading the synopsis, I really thought I would like this book.

Once I hit around halfway, it seems that I was losing interest quicker and quicker. The story lost me a little and I just couldn’t get back into it. Everything was a little confusing, and I had to go back and read some parts again. Even when I did that, I still feel like there were parts that completely lost me.

One of the main reasons I finished this book was the woman main character, Piper. She was feisty, and she had a lot of funny one-liners. She created a lot of the chemistry that this book had, and I really enjoyed her.

Overall, I think this book definitely had its moments. There were parts where I laughed, and some parts definitely had me in my feelings! However, there were parts that I just couldn’t get through and fell a little flat. I definitely would be interested in reading more Susan Elizabeth Phillips to see if I like her other ones a little bit more!

 

 

The Razvak Hunter by Arel B. Grant

Published: February 28th 2016
Publisher: 
BZN Writing House

“Before…
Aelwyd has worked hard to become strong. As the Fairest One of Vallenthar, her power is formidable. Years of battle honed her into a fearsome warrior who never falters in front of an enemy.
However, there are shadows that when they come, they can swallow you whole.
After a hundred years of praying against it, the minute she walks into the chilling scene of death in front of her, she knows her personal nightmare is back.
He nearly destroyed her once, but she isn’t a victim anymore. This time, she will stop him, or she will die trying.

Now…
Dalbran knows nothing of friends, joy, or mischief. The orphaned ward of a ruthless warrior woman, she’s never showed him love or affection. Instead she fills his days with learning the art of battle, savage teachings of how to survive in their harsh world. Days are filled with pain and exhaustion, but nighttime used to be his own. Even that is now lost, though, for something lurks in the shadows of sleep, clawing at him the moment his eyes close. He tells himself it’s okay, that he can handle it. However daunting the voices may be, however cold the hand that chokes him in the darkness, as long as it stays within the nightmare, everything will be all right.

As long as it stays within the nightmare…”

Review:

I received this book in exchange for a review! Thank you again Arel!

There were many things that I liked about this book. I usually don’t read a lot of fantasy, but when I do, it has to keep my attention. This book certainly did!

The first thing that I liked was how the book switched from before and now. I love when a book does that because it makes you have to think about what happened from a few chapters ago, and it really keeps your attention moving back and forth. I loved looking back and seeing how each world was connected.

I liked the main characters and their stories as well. I especially liked Dalbran. He was very well written. Also, I loved that there was a lot of dialogue. I love when I can picture their conversation happening and I could do that a lot in this book.

There were some parts where I was a little confused and had to go back to read it again. Also, I felt like the characters could’ve gone more into depth about their cultures and how they were. There wasn’t much to describe a lot of the characters and that is where it lost some points for me. However, this does say it is the first in the series, so more might come out in the sequel.

Overall, if you are a YA fantasy reader, I would definitely encourage you to read this book. There were so many elements that were great and I am definitely looking forward to the sequel!

Rating: ★★★★

Bitter Rivals by Winter Renshaw

Published: April 30th, 2016

“First it was love. Then it was war.

XAVIER

Work hard, play harder.

All I wanted was a weekend in the Hamptons, but what I got was forty-eight hours of quality time with my former business partner. My ex best friend. The girl who walked away without so much as an explanation the second sh*t got real.

I’m going to make her sorry she was never mine.

MAGNOLIA

Work hard, forget the rest.

All I wanted was a peaceful weekend alone at my boss’ Hamptons manse, but what I got was forty-eight hours with the guy who convinced me to fall in love with him and then did the unthinkable.

He broke my heart once, and I’ll be damned if I let him anywhere near it ever again”

Review:

This was a novella so there wasn’t really much to analyze. If there’s anything I love in this world, it’s the rivals-to-lovers story. Something happens in their lives where they are arch-nemeses. Once they spend some time with each other, they see that it’s not all bad. It’s all the same, but I still love it every single time.

Xavier and Magnolia worked at the same company. They went on a retreat together years ago, and things escalate quickly (wink). However, the next morning, something happens and causes Magnolia to loathe Xavier.

Now, they have to spend 48 hours together in their bosses Hampton home. It’s pretty clear what happens, only it’s not what you expect. The author put a little bit of a different spin on it, and I really liked that. Overall, there were some parts where I was confused, but it was a refreshing rivals-to-lovers story.

Rating: ★★★★

The Romantics by Leah Konen

Published: November 1st, 2016

“Perfect for fans of Lauren Myracle and Rainbow Rowell, The Romantics will charm readers of all ages. Gael Brennan is about to have his heart broken when his first big relationship crumbles on the heels of his parents’ painful separation. Love intervenes with the intention of setting things right—but she doesn’t anticipate the intrusion of her dreaded nemesis: the Rebound. Love’s plans for Gael are sidetracked by Cara, Gael’s hot-sauce-wielding “dream girl.” The more Love meddles, the further Gael drifts from the one girl who can help him mend his heart. Soon Love starts breaking all her own rules—and in order to set Gael’s fate back on course, she has to make some tough decisions about what it means to truly care.”

Review:

Let’s start off with the narrator of this story: “Love”. This was the cutest idea I’ve seen in a long time when it comes to narration. Love is basically a emotion that makes things happen throughout the book. Whether it’s a chair getting pushed closer together or making one of them think about something, it’s her and it’s adorable.

Gael’s life is hard. He has this big relationship that ends in the worst possible way. His parents are divorcing. He doesn’t know if he has a best friend anymore. Things are really hard at the moment. On the way from leaving his own birthday dinner, his life gets even weirder when he meets Cara by smacking into her bike. Gael and Cara aren’t really that good for each other, but it seems that they really are into each other. What can Love do to stop it?

The story flowed very well and it was such an interesting concept to learn about. I’ve never read another book with a narrator like that. It’s like Love was a person and an emotion. Super great read. By the end of the book, I loved it, but overall I felt like there was just one thing missing, and it kept me from giving this book a five star rating. I’d recommend this book to anyone!

Rating: ★★★★

 

Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler

Published: June 21st, 2016

“Kate Battista feels stuck. How did she end up running house and home for her eccentric scientist father and uppity, pretty younger sister Bunny? Plus, she’s always in trouble at work – her pre-school charges adore her, but their parents don’t always appreciate her unusual opinions and forthright manner.

Dr. Battista has other problems. After years out in the academic wilderness, he is on the verge of a breakthrough. His research could help millions. There’s only one problem: his brilliant young lab assistant, Pyotr, is about to be deported. And without Pyotr, all would be lost.

When Dr. Battista cooks up an outrageous plan that will enable Pyotr to stay in the country, he’s relying – as usual – on Kate to help him. Kate is furious: this time he’s really asking too much. But will she be able to resist the two men’s touchingly ludicrous campaign to bring her around?”

Review:

This book was …interesting. Confusing, but interesting. It’s a book that you’ve never really heard of this specific story being told before.

In the beginning of this book, my attention was not grabbed. I didn’t really find anything that captivated me from the beginning. I pretty much felt the same throughout the book. I felt like I read the same chapter over and over even though the pages were ascending.

I ended up giving this book a higher rating than I originally thought I would based on the ending. The ending was totally unexpected for me and I felt like it had me questioning about the whole book from the beginning. Overall, it was short and quick, but confusing and not that captivating at all.

Rating: ★★★

And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer by Fredrik Backman

Published: November 1st, 2016

“From the New York Times bestselling author of A Man Called Ove, My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry, and Britt-Marie Was Here comes an exquisitely moving portrait of an elderly man’s struggle to hold on to his most precious memories, and his family’s efforts to care for him even as they must find a way to let go.

“Isn’t that the best of all life’s ages, an old man thinks as he looks at his grandchild, when a boy is just big enough to know how the world works but still young enough to refuse to accept it.”

Grandpa and Noah are sitting on a bench in a square that keeps getting smaller every day. The square is strange but also familiar, full of the odds and ends that have made up their lives: Grandpa’s work desk, the stuffed dragon that Grandpa once gave to Noah, the sweet-smelling hyacinths that Grandma loved to grow in her garden.

As they wait together on the bench, they tell jokes and discuss their shared love of mathematics. Grandpa recalls what it was like to fall in love with his wife, what it was like to lose her. She’s as real to him now as the first day he met her, but he dreads the day when he won’t remember her.

Sometimes Grandpa sits on the bench next to Ted, Noah’s father—Ted who never liked math, prefers writing and playing guitar, and has waited his entire life for his father to have time for him, to accept him. But in their love of Noah, they have found a common bond.

Grandpa, Grandma, Ted, and Noah all meet here, in this peculiar space that is growing dimmer and more confusing all the time. And here is where they will learn to say goodbye, the scent of hyacinths in the air, nothing to fear. This little book with a big message is certain to be treasured for generations to come.”

Review:

A novella based on the lifestyle of Alzheimer’s disease: very hard to read. I can’t imagine someone going through that.

This was very short and sad. However, I think that Fredrik Backman did a beautiful job of portraying what it is actually like to have this awful disease. He switched things up and sometimes it was a little confusing to keep up with, but the story was amazingly written.

Rating: ★★★★

 

Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit by Jaye Robin Brown

Published: August 30th, 2016

“Joanna Gordon has been out and proud for years, but when her popular radio evangelist father remarries and decides to move all three of them from Atlanta to the more conservative Rome, Georgia, he asks Jo to do the impossible: to lie low for the rest of her senior year. And Jo reluctantly agrees.

Although it is (mostly) much easier for Jo to fit in as a straight girl, things get complicated when she meets Mary Carlson, the oh-so-tempting sister of her new friend at school. But Jo couldn’t possibly think of breaking her promise to her dad. Even if she’s starting to fall for the girl. Even if there’s a chance Mary Carlson might be interested in her, too. Right?”

Review:

Joanna Gordon is one of my favorite characters in a book ever. I picked up this book thinking it was just another LGBTQ+ high school story, but I was wrong. This is the story of a young girl who knows who she is and what she wants, but she has to be silenced. Her father, a priest who speaks on the radio, asks her to lie low when they move to a small new town of Rome, Georgia. Coming from Atlanta where Jo was known and loved, she agrees and tries to fit in with the high school crowd.

“Rome, Georgia, is definitely where queer girls go to die.”

This is the story of family and what it feels like to be closeted (which is horrible). In this book, you watch this out-and-proud girl become unsure of herself and who she is. Her whole life is flipped upside down. She is leaving her comfort zone where her best friend is (who is also out), her father got remarried to a new woman who’s family doesn’t necessarily agree with Jo’s lifestyle, and the worst: she is falling for a girl at her new school when she promised her father she would lay low.

This was an amazing book that I read from start to finish in a day. I couldn’t believe how great this book was. There’s a few things that I’d like to point out in this story:

Characters: The characters in this book were awesome. I love when a book has good character development. For example, I didn’t like Jo’s father’s new wife or her best friend in the beginning. I automatically didn’t like them because I felt like they were bad for her. Then, I switched and liked them both, and hated her father. At the end, everything was great and all characters developed beautifully.

Joanna Gordon: I wanted to give her a separate point because she is one of my favorite characters ever. She is this beautiful, young woman who portrays herself in such an amazing light. She is so strong and wonderful. Ugh, I love her and I would love to reread this again just to grasp the strength she has.

High School: I think Jaye Robin Brown wrote about how high school can be in an amazing way. High schoolers can be extremely vicious and especially if they found out a secret that no one was supposed to know about. I can understand why Jo’s father asked her to hide herself because he was afraid for her, but I felt like it went deeper than that. Read this and you’ll find out why.

Overall, I wish I could give this book a hundred stars. It really, truly deserves them. But since I can’t: 5/5 all the way!

 

This Is the Story Of You by Beth Kephart

Published: April 12th, 2016

“On Haven, a six-mile long, half-mile-wide stretch of barrier island, Mira Banul and her Year-Rounder friends have proudly risen to every challenge. But when a superstorm defies all predictions and devastates the island, when it strands Mira’s mother and brother on the mainland and upends all logic, nothing will ever be as it was. A stranger appears in the wreck of Mira’s home. A friend obsessed with vanishing is gone. As the mysteries deepen, Mira must find the strength to carry on—to somehow hold her memories in place while learning to trust a radically reinvented future.

Gripping and poetic, This Is the Story of You is about the beauty of nature and the power of family, about finding hope in the wake of tragedy and recovery in the face of overwhelming loss.”

Review:
“Haven is heaven without the e.”

Haven, a six mile long, half a mile wide island off of Atlantic City is the home where everyone knows each other. I picked up this book because of the cover at my local library. I didn’t know that it was based in New Jersey until a few pages in. As a New Jersey resident and frequent Jersey shore goer, I thought this book would be something I would be extremely interested in.

This Is the Story of You has three separate parts. This book started out for me how We Were Liars did. I feel like I was dragging through the first part. When I finally reached the storm, the book progressed very well. The third part is the reason why I gave this book four stars.What. An. Ending.
One thought came to my mind when I read the synopsis: Hurricane Sandy. Hurricane Sandy was a massive storm that ripped apart the shores of New Jersey leaving some dead and many homeless. As I read this book, I feel that the author really did a great job with describing the storm and how it occurred.

I would recommend this to young-adult lovers with a passion for mystery because the ending is very, very well written.

Rating: ★★★★

The Debt by Karina Halle

Published: August 29th, 2016

“Her life changed in an instant.
And he’s the only one who could have prevented it.

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Pact and The Lie comes a new standalone contemporary romance about those McGregor men.

Jessica Charles shouldn’t have even been in London when the unthinkable happened.
She should have been back at home in Edinburgh, perhaps hanging with her boyfriend, having drinks with her sister or doing yoga with her group of friends. She should have been going on in her normal, dependable life as always.
But on that fateful day in August, when a mentally-ill ex-soldier opened fire in public, Jessica’s world changed forever.
Now single and crippled from the gunshot wounds, Jessica finds herself scared and alone, losing faith in herself and humanity with each agonizing moment that passes.
That is until a stranger enters her life. A stranger who makes her live again.
Keir McGregor has always been the strong, silent type. Throw in tall, dark, and handsome and you’ve got pretty much the perfect Scotsman.
Except Keir is anything but perfect. He’s got a past he’s running away from and a guilty conscience he can’t seem to shed. But the more time he spends with Jessica, the more he falls in love with her.
And the more his secret threatens to tear them apart.
He may have been a stranger to her.
But she’s never been a stranger to him.”

Okay so the prologue of this book had me in tears. Karina Halle really made me feel like I was there in Jessica’s shoes living this moment along with her. It was so much in a few pages that it had me very emotional. This book was honestly the quickest I was ever grabbed into a novel. I like true crime novels, and in the beginning, that’s what it felt like, but from the eyes of a witness. I honestly couldn’t believe the twists and turns this book threw at me. It was sad, then happy, then angry, then disappointing, then happy again and this book pulled my emotions in every direction. Jessica feels like one of the strongest characters I’ve ever encountered in a book. She doesn’t take any shit, and I applaud her for that. Keir was also a wonderful character and I’m glad things ended the way they did. I didn’t know that this book was part of a series, so it was a little confusing with the other characters. If you plan on reading this book, I would read the others first to get to know the other family. If not, it was perfect as a standalone as well.

Rating: ★★★★★