Friday, January 19, 2018

Amy E. Reichert - Luck, Love and Lemon Pie

When Milwaukee-area wife and mother MJ Boudreaux notices her husband Chris seems more interested in the casino than her, she’s more bothered that she isn’t upset than by her husband’s absence. She picks up poker as a way for them to spend more time together—and reignite their marital flame.
Although the game doesn’t give her the quality time with Chris that she’d hoped, MJ finds she has a knack for it. Increasingly unhappy at home, she turns to the felt top of the poker table for comfort. Intoxicated with newfound freedom, MJ begins spending more time at the gambling tables and less with her family, finally carving out for herself a place outside her role of wife and mother.
After a string of great wins, MJ finds herself in Vegas, attracting the attention of a certain magnetic poker star. But when she’s forced to choose between her family and her new exciting lifestyle, the stakes may be higher than she thought and MJ will have to play her hand carefully…or risk losing it all.

Comment: In 2016 I've read my first book by the author and for me it was a good one, considering I gave it a good grade and I liked the story. 
I had expectations that this other book which I got some time ago, would follow the same steps but I have to agree with most readers who have read it also on GR, this one wasn't as surprising or sweet (unlike its title).

This book presents us MJ, a fifty year old woman, mother of two, with a stable but boring marriage and she does feel things are changing. She and her husband don't seem to connect anymore, they live together, they interact but the spark seems to be gone and MJ wants to do something about it, like going to a casino to play poker since that's what her husband does to relax. However, things don't go as MJ planned and she starts thinking maybe there's no way to make things better. 
The more she plays, the more out of sync with her family she gets and when the chance to play in a tournament arises, MJ registers herself. But will the price be too high for her family life?

While in the other book, the coconut cake seemed to be a huge and necessary part of the plot for some reason, I confess the title's lemon pie was included as practically only an extra and I do miss a more significant impact of food content here. I guess I thought it would be more important than what it was.

The plot is one seen very often in contemporaries: The marriage isn't the same anymore, people are bored, people accommodate to what is routine and what made them fall in love is no longer present so MJ has an escape method, something she initially wanted to share with her husband but the first attempt was a disaster. I guess I can say what made this book more special was how these feelings on inadequacy and restlessness wee portrayed. I bet most people out there, after a while feel the same and they might think there's no way out of the cycle.

Of course, the purpose here wasn't exactly that, the author wanted to show people can be themselves while having other interests but the main focus was more on how MJ would process the fact her family was being put aside for her time spent with new activities. There is some drama, as one could expect, and the way to solve things while not totally predictable, was the path more obvious.

I suppose the aim here is for the reader to learn that communication is essential to a good marriage and that no matter how boring things are, there's always the knowledge that person is there to support you. While I understand people don't always react as they should to every day issues, MJ's decision to play poker seem a bit weird, especially because that was what her husband did and I can't seem to appreciate her let her other responsibilities go over gambling.

I feel a bit disappointed that this book wasn't as charming as the other book I've read. There are no cute scenes nor interesting details about the main characters to make me eager to know what happens to them. I think both MJ and her husband Chris are too stagnant as characters to make the reading about them more stimulating. I would say the characterization wasn't balanced, especially if one thinks about some realistic details.
Something also annoying to me was how MJ kept having flashbacks about this an that. I get it why authors include those but it's extremely annoying to stop the flow of what you're reading to go back in time to something that, no matter what, won't change what happens "now".

All things considered, this book has several not so good elements which made me less interested in reading about these characters. The story itself and most details aren't bad, but together they don't form a captivating story all the time.
I still hope the other book by the author I have is better. 
Grade: 5/10

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Cat Sebastian - The Lawrence Browne Affair

Lawrence Browne, the Earl of Radnor, is mad. At least, that’s what he and most of the village believes. A brilliant scientist, he hides himself away in his family’s crumbling estate, unwilling to venture into the outside world. When an annoyingly handsome man arrives at Penkellis, claiming to be Lawrence’s new secretary, his carefully planned world is turned upside down.
Georgie Turner has made his life pretending to be anyone but himself. A swindler and con man, he can slip into an identity faster than he can change clothes. But when his long-dead conscience resurrects and a dangerous associate is out for blood, Georgie escapes to the wilds of Cornwall. Pretending to be a secretary should be easy, but he doesn’t expect that the only madness he finds is the one he has for the gorgeous earl.
Challenging each other at every turn, the two men soon give into the desire that threatens to overwhelm them. But with one man convinced he is at the very brink of madness and the other hiding his real identity, only true love can make this an affair to remember.

Comment: Having enjoyed the previous story in this Turner trilogy by author Cat Sebastian, I was very eager to read this one as well and see if it wasn't the case of the first book being a "one hit wonder". I'm happy to say I liked this one as well.

I this second installment we have the story of George Turner, the brother of Jack Turner, one of the protagonists of the previous book.
George is a man who doesn't go by many rules and his career has been one of swindler and thief. He gets in a complicated situation with one of the crime bosses by not abiding by the rule of deceiving a mark, an old lady he ends up liking and respecting. George needs to run and hide and Cornwall seems a great place since it's far. The job he gets is to wok for the Earl of Radnor, a man many consider mad and too weird. George arrives and understands immediately the earl is very smart, very focused, very introverted and very handsome. Surprising even himself, George isn't suddenly thinking about which items he could take when he leaves but he does do the secretarial work he was hired for and he can't help but feel he needs to take care of the earl. But he isn't a good man, is he?

The focus seems to be more on George and his changes, his development as a character but the earl, Lawrence, also becomes the narrative speaker so it's quite good to be able to have both their POVs, especially when things happen that affect both of them. Plus, it does make the relationship feel more balanced if we can follow both their reasonings instead of just guessing what one of them thinks.

This is, mostly, a sweet story about the redemption of a character and the self discovery of another.
I admit I don't usually like the so called bad boys or criminal turned good because it's unlikely and the situations are always about making good choices and that path never seems ass quick as a romance novel means to paint but the reality is that often we don't really have bad guys to start with (thankfully) and the redemption process is quicker, acceptable, hopeful. I liked Georgie's monologues and his decision to save Lawrence from his mistakes ans choices in the past and I can accept his decision to be a "good" person as just a need to complement the person he is in love with.
Lawrence also changes a bit, mostly his attitude towards others and what those others expect of him. Because he feels happier, he acts accordingly and it shows.

As for the way the author has inserted an m/m romance in an historical period, I think in this case it was easier to accomplish because the main characters don't live in such a populated area and their personal interactions can be restricted to the view of a minimum group of people. Of course, since they are both liked by those around them and since they make things brighter and doable because thy are happy, no one really cares. This is obviously a bit too imaginative but I can suspend belief for the HEA purposes. It's just so nice they are in love without expecting to.

The emotional aspects were well addressed here and the romance is cute and well paced, in my opinion. The secondary characters play their part but they don't steal the focus from the protagonists. I liked the easy writing and the fluid narrative.
All in all, a good story, I liked it and I look for to read the third one.
Grade: 8/10

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

TBR Challenge: Viola Grace - One Part Human

Forced into a one-week ride along with agents of the XIA, Benny tries to hide the fact that she isn’t quite human.
Benny has lived her life in the shadows, avoiding the public eye. Her life as a recipe blogger pays the bills and lets her socialise, but she is about to get the assignment of a lifetime.
Her boss orders her into a one-week ride-along with agents of the XIA, the eXtranormal Investigation Agency. It is the anniversary of the agency, and they need to improve their exposure with the general public.
Against her objections, she is paired with a standard set of agents—a vampire, a shifter and a fey. They are willing to work with her, and it is only when she signs the waivers that she learns why. They all read her column.
A week doesn’t seem like much time to learn about an organisation that deals with things most folk don’t enjoy thinking about, but it whips past when the assignments go from casual crime to murders that have one pivot point. Benny. 

Comment: And here we are, for another TBR Challenge, again hosted by Wendy, the SuperLibrarian
As always, January means short reads. Yes, the themes are optional, but my favorite part of this challenge is to try to match a book to the theme. 
For this month I picked a new author for me, I confess I had no expectations, I didn't read any reviews prior to start it, I only read the blurb when I decided to download it from Smashwords in an event where it was possible to download some free ebooks in a certain timeline. I got some books this way but I haven't gone through them all yet.

This book is the first of a trilogy that apparently will continue to a second trilogy but featuring characters not the ones in this first one. 
In this book we meet Benny, a young woman who has a successful recipe blog and in this paranormal world created by the author, there are several supernatural characters, species, beings and somehow, Benny is charged by her boss to follow a team of agents for a while so she can write about their routines and preferred foods and such.
Benny meets her three agents and is immediately drawn to them, they seem to be interesting people. During her first day, she sees the agents in action, going through the most routine issues to a case where it gets complicated and Benny herself gives a hand. The fact is, Benny is only part human and her knowledge of magic does come as a help when necessary. When things get too difficult, Benny asks her parents for help, she trusts the agents and realizes someone or something is after her...

Although this seems complicated, too confusing because it's about a new world, the plot is quite easy to follow. I really liked to immerse myself in all kinds of details about the several species addressed in this world, from shifters to fey, from vampires to demons and many types of beings one would "insert" in the major species.
In fact, this was probably my favorite aspect of the whole book, I really loved how structured some hierarchies were and how populated the world was with paranormal beings.

One could divide the plot into two main subjects:
Benny's interactions with others and the mystery they are trying to solve.
When it comes to the investigation, the mystery, I don't have much to say because my main interest wasn't there. I guess that, for such a short story - around 112 pages - things did make sense and were presented in a way I could consider satisfactory. This is no incredible psychological thriller but it fits the bill, especially  since it offers more details about the people and beings who inhabit the world.

What I really liked to read about were Benny's interactions with others. Things were subtle enough but it becomes apparent Benny can't romantically pick one of the agents and all are getting bonded in the sense they are a team and worry and care about each other. No sex happens which is something I didn't expect and does make me eager to read the next one.
I liked Benny, I liked the agents, I liked their "adventures".
What I probably didn't get - or perhaps I wasn't paying attention - was why Benny had to be with them considering she is a blogger. Yes, a successful one, a person whose work many readers follow but...oh well. Just weird.

This book isn't perfect of course and I've seen many readers complain about the writing, the story, everything. I also would say that the way things are presented to us seem so sudden. There is no preparation or a sort of introduction to this world and the information given is very quick and it's done almost as if we are supposed to know things previously. This made the beginning a bit odd and not as easy to understand but with time, things improved.

While this won't be up for any narrative prizes or the best book ever, I think it had enough elements to keep me interested and I'll definitely read the next one one day.
It was different enough for what I usually read these days and that was a positive surprise for sure.
Grade: 7/10

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Mary Balogh - Simply Unforgettable

They meet in a ferocious snowstorm. She is a young teacher with a secret past. He is the cool, black-caped stranger who unexpectedly comes to her rescue. Between these two unlikely strangers, desire is instantaneous…and utterly impossible to resist. Stranded together in a rustic country inn, Lucius Marshall, who is the Viscount Sinclair, and Frances Allard share a night of glorious, unforgettable passion. But Frances knows her place—and it is far from the privileged world of the sensual aristocrat. Due to begin her teaching position at Miss Martin’s School in Bath, Frances must try to forget that one extraordinary night—and the man who touched her with such exquisite tenderness and abandon.
But Frances cannot hide forever. And when fate once again throws them together, Lucius refuses to take no for an answer. If Frances will not be his wife, he will make her his mistress. So begins an odyssey fraught with intrigue, one that defies propriety and shocks the straitlaced ton. For Lucius’s passionate, single-minded pursuit is about to force Frances to give up all her secrets—except one—to win the heart of the man she already loves.
Once again this incomparable storyteller captures a time and a place like no other. And in Lucius and Frances, Mary Balogh gives us her most unlikely lovers yet—a nobleman in search of the perfect wife and an unconventional woman willing to risk everything for an unforgettable love.

Comment: Since I've enjoyed the majority of books by this author so far, I also decided to start another series, this time the Simply Quartet, which according to the author's website, comes chronologically, after the Bedwyn saga, which I read last year.

This first book presents us the four teachers of Miss Martin's School for Girls and the heroine in this book is Frances Allard.
Frances is returning from a very quite Christmas with her two older aunts back to school. The carriage and the driver aren't young anymore so they are almost run over by a faster one. However, the roads are snowed in because of a storm that seems to get more dire so after a not so good first impression, Frances and the occupant of the other carriage settle at a inn that, sadly, only has one servant int he house which basically means they are alone most of the time.
Lucius Marshall thinks he's unlucky to be stuck with such a prudish woman but as the hours go by and he sees unexpected traits in her, their connection deepens and when they finally leave, they have feelings for one another. But they cannot be together socially...or can they?

I had hopes for this book because I've come to expect a good story, a good development and and a sweet HEA at the end of the stories by this author.
I must say that, in general, all these things were met, but  since the two protagonists weren't originally living in the same city, there had to be a way for them to interact and I can't say I really liked how this was done because I got the impression the hero was very persistent and didn't seem to respect the heroine's wishes. Of course, if he didn't, there wouldn't be a romance but...

This book feels very similar to Slightly Wicked by the same author, when it comes to how the main characters first meet. They are strangers, they meet in a sort of secluded place, they don't think about being together ever again but then of course they do. Although the circumstances are different, this felt very similar and, if one compares, to me the other book was done better than this one. It just seems a little bit more difficult to accept as a possibility.

I confess I don't tend to like these stories a lot, when people do things thinking they'll never see each other again...and they do. But after reading the book, after thinking about it, what made me more suspicious was not how they met but how they behaved. While in Slightly Wicked they were pretending, in this they were not so the idea they would be intimate so soon after meeting one another, after not being very impressed with one ane another, it just seems weird that two people at the time would act so reckless. Yes, it's for plot purposes but...
I'm just glad the rest of the plot followed more credible paths.

Frances is an interesting character, she has hidden depths and I liked knowing a little something about her every time. I liked her dialogues with her co workers and I think we could have gotten more scenes at school or centered around school.
I liked how she wasn't a perfect person but she was living  a worthy life, she was contributing to society and she wasn't silly or too smug to do things others wouldn't.
Lucius Marshall, a viscount, also presented and interesting dilemma, because he was in love with Frances but his social situation was awkward since his family and a young woman's have been talking about their marriage for a long time and Lucius feels he should honor that, even more so because his grandfather isn't well.
I liked how each main character dealt with their issues and their feelings and how, despite the not so good moment, they managed to find common ground and grasp happiness.

Once again, one can see the author's talent in this book, I especially liked the dialogues and the situations the characters need to deal with, for the most part the whole set is believable and well done and it's also engaging, I'm always eager to see what happens next.
I'm looking for to read the next book in the quartet next month.
This one isn't my favorite but it was entertaining enough.
Grade: 7/10

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Thought for the weekend

I saw this image on Pinterest and I thought about sharing it here.
Enjoy the weekend and happy reading!

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Richard Zimler - Strawberry Fields Forever

Teresa Silva is a witty, combative and maddeningly articulate 15-year-old who moves from the comfort of her Lisbon home to the New York suburbs. Unprepared for life in America she finds solace in her books, her unstoppable sense of humour and her father's playful affection. Her only friend, Angel, is a gifted but awkward 16-yeard-old from Brazil who worships John Lennon and his music.
When her beloved father dies, Teresa's world comes undone. When Angel is beaten up by other students for being gay and flees to the streets of Manhattan, she decides to take the only way out that seems to make sense.
With fierce irreverence, black humour and piercing insight, Zimler traces Teresa's desperate and moving journey toward herself.

Comment: Another book I got at the library and since I've been a fan of the author since the first book by him I tried, I think I might see if I can read all the library has available.

In this book, we have the story of Teresa, a teenage girl who moved from Portugal to America with her parents and younger brother when her parents decided to emigrate. Teresa is a smart girl but the culture and the language are different and it takes its toll to need to adapt and deal with complicated situations, such as the illness of his father and subsequent death. From that point on, Teresa lets go of her will to be a good person and only an almost tragedy stops her from doing something unredeemable...

This is not a very long book, in fact, my edition in Portuguese has 229 pages only. The story is narrated by Teresa in a way that feels like this is a diary she's writing to let the reader know her story. Overall, I liked it and it was really easy to read because once again the writing is appealing and filled with compelling information.
One detail I obviously liked is how there are some references to Portuguese society and situations and that just makes the book feel more realistic to me, because I know what those things mean. 

The story itself is quite profound, even when the writer tries to disguise some details through some comedy relief scenes or behind the conversation skills of teenagers.
All the themes addressed in the life of Teresa are emotionally draining and difficult to overcome and not only because she is a teenager and dramatizes things. Her father dies and because her relationship with her mother isn't the best and her only serious friend is going through complicated issues as well, makes it very difficult for Teresa to fully dissociate who she is from what she doesn't want to feel, she has not yet managed to process things properly. This is one thing everyone likely feels, whether a teenager or not, this fear things are getting out of control and it's better to not think nor worry. However, we can't turn in and off out emotions as easily as that.
Of course, it's not a perfect story, it does not always engage well, and some details felt a bit too dramatic, quite overdone for shocking reasons. Although this is only my interpretation.

I've read some comments and one person has said this book is introspective. I agree in some part, because Teresa doesn't want to let others realize how despaired she is feeling and often we, in our real lives, also don't want to worry others, we things we are being annoying, we thing people will be tired of us or of out conversations if we insist..., therefore, all the emotions portrayed go beyond teenage angst and actually provide an interesting look to what certainly goes in our inner self when we don't feel like sharing. I liked this "serious" tone and content that, although not too away from the author's usual register, is still more alike a non fiction essay rather than a fictional story, created just because. I liked the dichotomy perception it gave to the overall story.

This story ends up well, the characters all seem to grow emotionally and there's this sense things do get better if only we help each other or look for help in those that can provide it. 
All things considered, for me this is another good book by the author.
(I used the Portuguese cover)
Grade: 7/10

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Debbie Johnson - Summer at the Comfort Food Cafe

The brand new book from best-selling author Debbie Johnson will make you laugh, make you cry, and make you raid the pantry in the middle of the night…
The Comfort Food Cafe is perched on a windswept clifftop at what feels like the edge of the world, serving up the most delicious cream teas; beautifully baked breads, and carefully crafted cupcakes. For tourists and locals alike, the ramshackle cafe overlooking the beach is a beacon of laughter, companionship, and security – a place like no other; a place that offers friendship as a daily special, and where a hearty welcome is always on the menu.
For widowed mum-of-two Laura Walker, the decision to uproot her teenaged children and make the trek from Manchester to Dorset for the summer isn’t one she takes lightly, and it’s certainly not winning her any awards from her kids, Nate and Lizzie. Even her own parents think she’s gone mad.
Her new job at the cafe, and the hilarious people she meets there, give Laura the chance she needs to make new friends; to learn to be herself again, and – just possibly – to learn to love again as well.
For her, the Comfort Food Cafe doesn’t just serve food – it serves a second chance to live her life to the full…

Comment: This book was a Christmas' gift and since I didn't want it to linger for too long in the pile - also to make the person who gave it to me realize I was serious about reading it - I decided to read it already. Yes, a bit unfair for all those other poor books in the TBR list...

In this book we meet widow Laura and her two children and how they decide to keep up with the holiday tradition of their family even after the death of David, Laura's husband. Although all miss him a lot, they know it's necessary to move on. 
Laura replies to a want notice for a job cooking in a cafe in Dorset and she is the one chosen, so Laura plans to go from Manchester to Dorset to work there for the summer and to allow her children to have a different time. The people they all find, however, do make a lasting impression and it seems Laura realizes she is ready to live again. But will the little things let her be herself again?

This is a sweet contemporary about moving on with one's life after a tragedy. I liked the slow way things were happening for Laura, when it comes to personal change, but the small community vibe and the holiday romance-turned serious didn't seem to be as balanced as I would hope for.

Laura is a widow and from her initial presentation we learn she and her husband were childhood sweethearts, they loved each other deeply and it's no shock to know after two years Laura is still mourning but she is also starting to smile more, laugh more, enjoy her children's antics and life around her differently. I liked there's no rush here, both for Laura's inner self and for her dealing with those around her. In a completely weird way, I actually would have liked her to delve more into her feelings of loss, her husband did seem to be too perfect and I wanted to hear more about their life together. I suppose this is why her subtle romance felt a bit off, I can't see how her feelings were changed enough for her to accept a new person even if she does say that, even with rational logic behind it.

The book is certainly more about Laura discovering herself again, mainly by working in a place where people know each other and where the small community seems to have a huge impact on the way things are done around there. It was sweet to meet the "regulars" and to know a bit about each one. However, I also can't ignore that the descriptions and interactions between characters did feel a bit too impersonal, too detached from the narrator's voice to the page. Perhaps the author intended this but for me there's some emotional impact missing from the characters' themselves. Nevertheless, I must say some situations in which everyone sees themselves being were interesting to read about and sad to the point of meaning something. 

The story is predictable but the author has managed to insert situations and details that are unique enough to give the reader the impression of more fulfilling things.  In the end, there are some surprises happening, which is great but it seemed they came out of nowhere and that seemed a bit fake. Still, this was a story with good scenes, even if some weren't as seamlessly inserted as they could.

At the end of the book we also have Laura doing something that isn't a surprise but I kind of liked how there's a feel of HFN more than a solid HEA. Maybe the next book will show news when it comes to these characters, even when they aren't the focus.
Grade: 7/10

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Donna Tartt - The Goldfinch

It begins with a boy. Theo Decker, a thirteen-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don't know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his unbearable longing for his mother, he clings to one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art.
As an adult, Theo moves silkily between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty labyrinth of an antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in love-and at the center of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle.
The Goldfinch combines vivid characters, mesmerizing language, and suspense, while plumbing with a philosopher's calm the deepest mysteries of love, identity, and art. It is an old-fashioned story of loss and obsession, survival and self-invention, and the ruthless machinations of fate.

Comment: To be honest, I never thought about this book as something I'd want to read. But I saw it at my local library and since I would certainly not buy it, I could have the chance to see what made so many readers talk about it, especially in 2013, when this was published.
However, the story despite being interesting, was not enough to make me feel sympathetic to what was going on with the main character...

In this huge book (practically 900 pages in my edition) we follow Theo, a 13 year old boy who sees himself in a situation no one would ever think about and his mother, sadly, dies as a result of an attack in a museum. His life is shaped out of hand from that moment on and the one thing that connects him to this episode and the memories and feelings associated with it, is a painting, "The Goldfinch" by Carel Fabritius. 
After the attack, Theo is in one of the galleries looking for his mother when he helps an old man and ends up being with him when he passes. He keeps a ring given to him by that man, which will later take him to a person who helps Theo but he also keeps the painting, having somewhat personal reasons for it. 
But as Theo's life starts to spiral out of control, attaching himself to what the painting means can prove to have been a mistake...

I must say the first 200 pages or so were divine. The book is divided into five major parts, each focused on a stage of Theo's life and the first is definitely the best, both in plot and in writing. I really, really wanted Theo to deal well with what happened and, most important, at that time he was surrounded by people who wished him well and were part of his recovery process, which would certainly help. 
I imagined a coming of age story about Theo and those he cared about and how he would deal with having the painting and the need to be himself after a tragic event such as losing the mother he loved. 
I also created scenarios in my head about what Theo would do and how his character would be but yet I can't accept the path the author chose for him. No.

Basically, this book is about Theo's choices. Theo is the central character, he is the narrator and he is deeply affected by his mother's death. The painting works as an almost sort of match to his reality: he is like the goldfinch in the painting, shackled to something he can't escape but still letting him exist. I suppose, in a way, we are meant to see the similarities and realize Theo was stuck in a cycle that started by having lost his biggest support system.


However, I ended up so terribly disappointed because Theo is not a stupid boy. He is young but he is not an idiot. He isn't unaware of reality. He might have lost his mother and might have been taken by a friend's family because his close family didn't want him but he isn't out of reality. He is quite clever in his speech and he does manage to process things around him well. He understands taking the painting wasn't right. He understands finding Hobie, a man who helps him, was a good thing. He understands his friend's family didn't have to but still welcomed him. He was and talked and acted as a stable human person, despite his loss. A loss that countless people in the whole world go through, sadly, as well so Theo isn't different from other people simply because of his mothers' death
But he is young, so he was bound to make mistakes. I can understand why seeing his father again, the man who had issues and abandoned him and his mother, was a shock and even more so when he took Theo to live with him and his girlfriend all the way from New York to Las Vegas. In there, his life changes completely first because he meets Boris, a student at his school and then because they start on a self- destructive path.

What I simply cannot accept as the way for things to go was for Theo to become a drug addict and a jerk and a person who sacrifices his intelligence for silly adventures he is definitely cognizant of as being something wrong. At some point he does even say he doesn't know how he went from a recognized merit student to being part of the lost cases at his new school. I just can't accept that someone will knowingly and consciously choose drugs. Yes, he was young but all in his mind and behavior process wouldn't lead him there. He was sad so he joined a loser and did drugs? I just cannot accept that.

Therefore, this book was sort of a huge let down. Theo grows up, he was still a junkie, eventually he gets out of them only to meet his childhood friend Boris again, the guy who "helped" him at the critical point he decided to do drugs and he goes back to it. There are more (mostly negative) things happening around Theo, things I can rationalize as having affected Theo's decision making and it does seem everything around him was conspiring to make him lose his mind and become more and more stressed and not able to solve his issues properly.
Theo was not dumb, he was clever, he just didn't act on things in a way I think would have been the "right" one for the matters at hand. He chose, it was not Fate deciding for him.

Towards the end, Theo sees himself in a dire situation, and he does have negative thoughts about how things might happen if only he wasn't there. He decides to make things right at last but in the crucial moment he does not. Once again, Boris shows up and personifies the problem solving somehow and Theo's actions lose power and focus and change again
I didn't like this much and all the conversations about art and philosophy don't seem relevant, considering Theo just chose to use his free will to lead him to negative paths. He must be dumb after all.

All things considered, I regret all the worries I had reading, I hate that Theo didn't embark on a more magical/special/extraordinary self worth journey instead of the realistic, yes but also cynical and too adverse life situations he went through. Isn't life supposed to teach you things and to make you want to improve and become a better person? I hated that Theo didn't think that among all the specific philosophies he talked about, not even at the end.
Grade: 4/10

Friday, January 5, 2018

My Life In Books 2017

My Life in Books 2017
Describe yourself: 
Lethal, Sandra Brown

How do you feel: 
Wicked, Jana DeLeon

Describe where you currently live: 
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, Jamie Ford 

If you could go anywhere, where would you go:

Searching for Sana, Richard Zimler

Your favorite form of transportation:

Dark Horse, Michele Dienar

Your best friend is:

The Tutor's Daughter, Julie Klassen

You and your friends are:
A Reason to Live, Maureen McKade

What's the weather like: 
White Hot, Ilona Andrews

What is life to you: 

Immortal, JR Ward

Favorite time of day: 

Midnight Pleasures with a Scoundrel, Lorraine Heath

Your fear:
Monster in the Closet, Karen Rose

What is the best advice you have to give: 
Act Like It, Lucy Parker

Thought for the day:
Welcome to Last Chance, Hope Ramsey
How I would like to die:
Life After Life, Kate Atkinson
My soul's present condition:
 A Shadow on the Sun, Sera Trevor

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Last two books of 2017

2017 is over and I'm already thinking about the reads of this new year but I also want to write a few sentences about the last two books I've read at the end of last month which I haven't got the chance to do yet.
The books are from different genres and authors but I was expectant to read both and I'm glad I liked what I got, even if Leigh's story could have been more interesting.

Wake a Sleeping Tiger by Lora Leigh

This is book #33 in the Breeds series according to GR. I liked the book, overall. Perhaps it's just my imagination but it did feel this boom was a bit more dedicated to what goes on the character's heads when it comes to their individuality and not as much their giving in to the mating heat, a detail that has been one of the key elements of the whole series. 
The idea now Breeds have a way to suppress that is certainly handy. I liked this because the sexual content is less and that makes room for more characterization, character's interactions and even plots to be more obvious. 
Still, it seems after 33 books we (readers) are probably around the same place when it comes to solving all the mysteries and finding all the hidden enemies out there.
The romance was the expected but I feel sorry the main characters don't seem to change that much from book to book. 
I would love the idea of change, of different settings and interactions among everyone, away from the norm. After so many books, it can be a little repetitive.
Grade: 6/10

Pretty Face by Lucy Parker

This is the second story in the London Celebrities series or trilogy and I really liked it! The first book, Act Like It, was probably the one I liked the best in the whole year so I was not surprised to also have enjoyed this one immensely.
Again, we have two different people, with different takes on life coming together and being paired up in this novel. Although there's an age difference, I think that didn't change the dynamics that much, the romance was imply beautiful. I really liked them together. 
The author's writing is superb, I'd say and somehow we are being convinced that the main couple really needs to be together, really is meant to be. The story is simple, the conflicts not there just because, the simplicity of it all just adds up to the fascination.
The dialogues are witty and believable, the situations portrayed interesting and the way each one of them reacted to everything was compelling. Liked their personalities as well.
I'm eager to read more by the author, without a doubt.
Grade: 9/10

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

2017 Book Statistics

One more statistics' post and the best reads of 2017 for me! 💙
In 2017 I've read 204 books, more in January (22 books) and less in February, May and December (15 books). This means an average of 17 books/month.
All these books mean 62342 pages, an average of 306 per book. Curiously, I've read more pages in March (5956) and less in December (3923).

Of all the books read, 121 were by known authors to me and 83 by new authors.

The first book of the year was It Felt Like a Kiss by Sarra Manning, in the middle was The Tutor's Daughter by Julie Klassen and the last one was Wake a Sleeping Tiger by Lora Leigh.

Of all the books I read, I loved 16, liked 106, thought 71 were so-so, I didn't enjoy much of 10 and only one was totally bad for me.
Unlike last year, the genre I read the most was Contemporary (59), then Paranormal Romance (37), Historical (34), M/M (30), and pretty much the same were the Fictional books (27), Fantasy/Sci-Fi (9) and thrillers (7).

I've purchased 76 books, spending around 625,57€. An average of 52,13€/month and 6,3 books month.
I spent more in November, 15 books and 115,50€ and less in December (0€ yay).
I bought 5 more books and spent 97,33€ more than in 2016...

My TBR says 590 on Goodreads but some of them I don't actually have yet and I have some I didn't add to the site, so I'll round up things to 600. I know, it's huge and I can't keep up...and it hasn't improved since last year :/

Books Read!

-> I must say I don't have one specific book I would say is my best but if really pressed I would say Act Like It by Lucy Parker because it was flawless to me... 
As for the negative, the worst for me this year was Jaked by Sabrina Stark.
I gave 5 stars to 16 books but I recognize they also have faults. They worked perfectly to me for some reason but they aren't books any reader could love universally. 
Yes, everyone has a different taste but when it comes to very successful books, it's general consensus that more people would like than dislike it... maybe it's my own taste that is changing or I simply didn't hit the "right" books to love to the extreme!
TOP 5 (in no specific order)

Act Like It/Pretty Face by Lucy Parker - It seems this author is a brilliant writer! I liked these two stories set in the world of London theaters and the amazing characters and their beautifully simple romances.

White Hot / Wildfire by Ilona Andrews - I don't think there's any chance of this team of authors being anything less than excellent. I really loved these two books, love, love, love all the details and perfect writing.

One Plus One by Jojo Moyes - I liked this road trip adventure and all the emotional aspects of why each of the main characters felt like being part of it. I also liked the romance, the HEA and the overall feeling of it all.

Notorious Pleasures by Elizabeth Hoyt - Yes, I'm late to the party but although the first book was good, I didn't exect this one to be so perfect for me. I liked the plot, the romance, the need and the obvious fact the main couple was destined to be together and show their love. Still thinking about it...

Slightly Wicked by Mary Balogh - I have since read the whole saga and this is still my absolute favorite. The heroine felt like perfection to me. Lovely romance, amazing family dynamics, this is a talented author.

Other very good titles for me in 2017:
 Monster in the Closet (Karen Rose), First Star I See Tonight (SEP), Etched in Bone (Anne Bishop).
I liked several m/m stories this year but these were my favorites, no specific order:
Showing Him the Ropes by Christa Tomlinson -  It's a a story about wrestling and how one player helps out a newcomer. I liked the romance, the relationship's dynamic, the feelings portrayed, the interactions with other characters...can't wait for more on this world/series by the author.
Tournament of Losers by Megan Derr - What a lovely fantasy story, I loved every page and every moment spent with the main character. Maybe not the best romance ever but it was super cute and magical.

A Kind of Honesty by Lane Hayes - I also loved the first book in this series, this is #3 but I really liked how much more emotional situations I saw here. It's a great contemporary story about two different people being perfect together.

TOP 3 Disapointments
And, of course, there are the books that were a let down.
I already said which book I liked the less but I didn't have many expectations. The disappointments are books I hoped I'd really like but that didn't manage to captivate me in the way I expected.

Welcome to Last Chance by Hope Ramsey - The premise is good and I usually like small town stories but the romance wasn't convincing and the character's decisions not easy to understand.
Finding Pride by Jill Sanders - A woman regaining her own worth and finding love in the process seemed a good start for a sweet romance novel but the reality is that I found this boring and lacking the well placed elements to make it enthralling.

Goody Two Shoes by Janet Elizabeth Henderson - This was silly, totally lacking believability and although the story's premise could have gone an interesting way, I just couldn't accept how the main characters were supposed to have been in love after days of knowing each other.

And this is it for 2017.
Obviously, there will be more next year! 💗