BOOK REVIEW : DANCING ON COALS

After escaping robbers intent on murder, Katherine Grant says, “I jumped from the frying pan into the fire. Before long I’ll be dancing on the coals.” The highwaymen were the frying pan; the handsome young Apache who saved her from them was the fire; and the coals? Gaetan.

Rage against the enemies of his people has consumed Gaetan from boyhood. The only use he ever found for any white was to test the sharpness of his knife. Forced by his brother to endure Katherine’s company, Gaetan tries to deny what he sees—the white woman has a man’s temper and a lion’s courage. She has an Apache heart.

In spite of hate, distrust and fear, surviving in the rugged country of southern Arizona and northern Mexico forges a strange bond between Katherine and Gaetan. When the bond turns to love, can they admit it? Can they bear the consequences?


review

I came across this title when I was looking for a romance with a slow-burn. This book came out at 2011 and I had no idea it existed. But this book provided just what I needed.

It’s set in the Wild west in the year 1888. The hero Gaetan is Native American and Katherine is a ‘White’.

They meet when Katherine is traveling alone in a stagecoach to New York, amidst all men. They get robbed and her companions murdered. Katherine, who’s spent all her childhood traveling the world and going on adventures with 5 brothers and father who owns a ship business, successfully defends herself. But not long after, a group of Apaches including Gaetan and his younger brother find her.

Initially traveling with the group, Katherine is well aware that the Apaches are the leser of the two evils, and uses that to her advantage by being acquiescent with them. Soon after, situations force Katherine and Gaetan to survive alone together. For Katherine, Gaetan is the only one she can depend on for survival; And for Gaetan, he has a promise to his brother to keep.

Katherine is a hard headed and strong heroine. But she knows when to bow down and take it. Gaetan is a hero unlike any. He hates ‘Whites’ who had killed his parents when he was just a kid and forced him to go to their school. This is a guy who refuses to speak English despite knowing the language. His life’s mission is to kill as many White as he can. But Katherine poses to be a problem he never foresaw, thanks to his brother.

I absolutely loved the romance. It was slow and took its time to build. I loved Katherine, and felt for her. First she is forced to travel with a man who hates her kind and won’t even spare any words for her. Then she is forced to live amidst people who distrust her. But it was Gaetan who owned this book. Here’s a character who speaks very little, but you learn to empathize with him. He is honorable but also cynical and distrusting.

The slow blooming attraction between them was amazing to witness. The enemy-to-lover twist is done so well that it’s believable and solid. I loved seeing the growth in their individual characters and their relation with each other. But what I loved most was Gaetan’s transition. He does not become a softie or change his mindset just overnight. And I loved how he didn’t have to start waxing poetry or romantic dialogue for Katherine or the readers to know what he felt. It was a very subtle and finely done.

I don’t know enough about the context of the history of suffering of the Native Americans to judge the accuracy of the story. I know that the ending was definitely on the imaginative side. But I also felt that the author portrays the Apaches with respect and invokes empathy for their plight. The book did make me reflect more on how unjust and unfair history has been to the Native Americans. So that’s another plus point for the story!


ratings

★★★★★


 

Advertisements

BOOK REVIEW : THE UNHONEYMOONERS

Olive is always unlucky: in her career, in love, in…well, everything. Her identical twin sister Ami, on the other hand, is probably the luckiest person in the world. Her meet-cute with her fiancé is something out of a romantic comedy (gag) and she’s managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a series of Internet contests (double gag). Worst of all, she’s forcing Olive to spend the day with her sworn enemy, Ethan, who just happens to be the best man.

Olive braces herself to get through 24 hours of wedding hell before she can return to her comfortable, unlucky life. But when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning from eating bad shellfish, the only people who aren’t affected are Olive and Ethan. And now there’s an all-expenses-paid honeymoon in Hawaii up for grabs.

Putting their mutual hatred aside for the sake of a free vacation, Olive and Ethan head for paradise, determined to avoid each other at all costs. But when Olive runs into her future boss, the little white lie she tells him is suddenly at risk to become a whole lot bigger. She and Ethan now have to pretend to be loving newlyweds, and her luck seems worse than ever. But the weird thing is that she doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, she feels kind of… lucky.

reviewChristina Lauren are a pair of authors who you can not afford to lose your trust over after one bad release. They always come back stronger after a not-so-strong book.

I was not entirely happy with their previous release. But with this book, they go back to their hit formula of the quirky heroine and the serious broody hero, and my favorite enemies-to-lovers trope! I tell you, you can never go wrong with this combination.

The one thing the authors manage to get perfectly right with this book is the humor. Their books always have humor in them, but this might have been the funniest book that I’ve read by them. The pairing of Olive and Ethan also didn’t disappoint. They had oodles of chemistry. And so much steaminess! The build-up was also done perfectly. You could feel the tension between them. I always love it when romances deliver a lot of tension before getting the couple together.

I liked that the authors brought on the “He said, she said” conundrum into the mix. It’s not something we usually see being explored in romances. Olive’s Mexican family members were also very endearing. The relationship between Ami and Olive also surprised me. After reading the blurb, I thought that there would be bitterness and distance between them. But I loved how despite their differences, their bond was indisputable.

Now, let’s come to the unpleasant part. I always feel that including serious issues in a lighthearted story can be a tricky thing. You can’t let one overshadow the other. Here, the authors bring in issues of body image and cheating.

We get a big inner monologue at the beginning about Olive’s issues with her body and problematic relationship with eating. But the authors don’t do justice to this important subject in the end. I feel that they were  lazy with resolving it. Like another reviewer mentioned, she seemed to get over her issues pretty easily.

Then, there’s the cheating part. While the insertion of the whole ‘He said, she said’ debacle was a good tool to create conflict between the characters to provide for an interesting climax, I felt that it compromised with Ethan’s character. His moral compass bugged me a lot. Olive seemed to me to be too forgiving. I get what the authors were trying to do. But like I said, the thing with inculcating serious themes in a lighthearted story can compromise on the storytelling if not executed well. My enjoyment from the first half of the book was marred a little by what I felt was an unsatisfying resolution

Ultimately, though, I enjoyed the romance a lot. It was fun, cute, hilarious and steamy. If not for the issues I mention earlier, this would have been a 5-star read.


ratings

★★★★☆


 

ARC REVIEW : SUMMER AT FIREFLY BEACH

Hallie Flynn’s favorite place in the world is her great Aunt Clara’s beautiful beachside house, with its inviting wraparound porch and enchanting views across the sparkling turquoise ocean. For Hallie, going to Firefly Beach, filled with magical childhood memories, feels like coming home. But all that is about to change…

In one moment Hallie’s world is turned upside down. She’s left broken-hearted when her adored Aunt Clara passes away.

As always, Aunt Clara has thought of everything. In her last letter she included the bucket list Hallie wrote when she was twelve-years-old—and Clara’s final wish is for her to complete it. For once, Hallie decides not to hesitate. Stepping away from her dead-end job and predictable schedule, she embraces Aunt Clara’s words.

Spending the summer at Firefly Beach, Hallie encounters old friends and begins to remember the things that matter most to her. All the time her childhood friend Ben Murray is there, supporting her every step of the way. But following the bucket list isn’t an easy journey. And if that wasn’t all, a run in with wealthy Gavin Wilson, a newcomer to Firefly Beach, leaves her questioning her future, and facing something buried deep in her heart which she’d rather not admit to.

Update : So I just found out that this is the 50th ARC I’m reviewing for Netgalley. That makes me so happy!

 

review

I wonder which is better or worse – a book leaving you with feelings of anger and disappointment. Or leaving you with no feelings at all, just plain old indifference.

I guess it depends on whether we pick up a book in hopes to escape our own feelings, or to fill up a void of feelings we have in our own life.

But why am I thinking about these things right now, you ask? Because I didn’t feel anything from this book. This book was not good. It was not bad. It just was…

I don’t even feel like dissecting what was it about this book that has me so apathetic. I just want to move on. But since I’ve been so kindly provided an ARC by the publisher in exchange of an honest review, I’ll have to attempt at anyway.

So what was it about this book?

It might have been the odd place the book starts off. Hallie and her family are grieving their aunt Clara. But we don’t see her dying. We don’t see Hallie decide to stay back in the beach. It’s all already happened. It was a very weird introduction.

If you want to build a whole story based on a a family’s grief over one person’s death, I don’t know, but maybe try starting off by making us feel something for that person too? For example, I recently read A Lily in the Light. It was about a missing girl who only appeared initially in the beginning for only a couple of pages. But that was enough for me to feel an attachment towards the girl, and make me invested in the story. This book lacked that. There was no hook to capture my interest.

It might have been the central romance. I liked Ben well enough. But for lack of a better word, I found him boring. I did not feel any spark in the writing. There was no tension.

Yes. Tension! That’s the right word. There’s a clear lack of tension in the book. Hallie is left a bucket list to fulfill which she wrote back when she was 12. But I didn’t feel any excitement or sense of adventure from the existence of this list. It was all a very dull affair. There was this sub-plot about a potential criminal. But even that failed to engage me.

It might just have been the writing. It didn’t pack any real punch or emotions to draw me in.

Or maybe it’s just me. Maybe, I’ve read too many intense books in the recent past that a simple story as this just didn’t do it for me.

I’ll give it 3 stars, because going back to my first point, I’ve decided that right now I’m better off not feeling any anger or disappointment over this book.


ratings

★★★☆☆


Publication Date: 17th June, 2019.
Source: ARC from Publisher (via Netgalley)

Links – Amazon | Goodreads

 

ARC REVIEW : THE SECOND CHANCE SUPPER CLUB

Two estranged sisters reunite in an emotional novel of family, forgiveness, lost hope, and new beginnings.

They had a forever bond, until a sudden tragedy thrust them apart. Now, each at a crossroad in her own life, two sisters’ paths are about to intersect.

Broadcast journalist Julia Frank has it all: a career, an ambitious fiancé, and the hard-won respect of her peers. Until a ruinous decision destroys her reputation, puts her job at risk, and sends her reeling toward the only soul left to turn to: her estranged sister, Ginny.

The owner of a clandestine supper club hidden in the Arizona desert, Ginny Frank has a lot on her plate. The last thing she wants is more drama—or the burden of nursing her younger sister’s wounded ego. But family is family. Besides, Ginny can use the help in more ways than one, and she’s going to make sure Julia pulls her weight.

As a tenuous reunion reopens old wounds, Julia and Ginny have no choice but to confront the pain and betrayals of the past. Will working to keep the secret supper club running be just what they need to find common ground and a path toward forgiveness, or will the increasing stress push them even further apart?

review

I love stories about family and sisters. But it’s difficult to like the story when I can’t like either of the sisters and bring myself to care for them.

We start off with broadcast journalist Julia who’s overslept and has to rush to catch her morning news broadcast. She’s already in hot waters from her boss because of the low ratings.

Now, here was my first problem with the story. When her boss calls her to express displeasure about her not garnering enough ratings, she’s confused because she’s doing her job of what’s asked her. So she doesn’t get why she’d have to care about the ratings. Now, I could expect an inexperienced girl in her 20s to think like that. But Julia who’s apparently experienced and worked hard to reach this position, acting like that just didn’t sit well with me.

Julia acts like this confused, naive and pushover girl for the rest of the story. After she impulsively acts on a gossip she heard on a party and asks the mayor who’s guesting on the show thanks to her co-host about it. She’s of course suspended. And the first thing she does is leave the city and goes to her sister in Arizona without letting her know beforehand because she needs to escape, without having her husband know. And she justifies that having called her sister Ginny ONLY TWICE and not getting a response means she can just drop uninvited on her doorsteps. It’s the same sister who she apparently hasn’t had contact with in 3 years. Then she spends rest of the book ignoring the problem she left over at her job.

Ginny, on the other hand, is a divorced single mother. She had to pack everything up and leave her job as a premium chef in New York after her parents died. Julia who we now know to always escape her problems, refused to leave her important job  and stayed behind. That left the elder sister Ginny with a lot of bitterness about having been the one to sacrifice. She now runs a clandestine supper club at her own house with the help of her daughter who hates her and is closer to the dad.

I found Ginny even more unlikable than Julia. She’s unapologetically bitter and cold. I get that she’s having money problems, and is just not happy with her life, but the way she treated Julia and her daughter, just got on my nerves.

The only character I liked even a little was Olive. While I like character driven stories, I could not relate or empathize with any of the characters. Besides, it was very slow. Nothing seems to ever happen. This was a letdown because I genuinely liked the previous book of the author.


review

★★☆☆☆


Publication Date: 10th September, 2019.
Source: ARC from Publisher (via Netgalley)

Links – Amazon | Goodreads | Book Depository


TAG : TWO TRUTHS AND A LIE #2

Hello you all! I’m late to do this. Rebecca had tagged me to do this more than a month ago! I’ve been busy catching up with my ARCs in the last month, and got derailed on the tags. Anyways, this is a really fun tag and I’m more than happy to revisit it again! So, a big thank you to Rebecca. Do make sure to check out her lovely blog!

Rules

  • Create a post with your two bookish truths and one bookish lie – but be sure to keep it a secret so your readers can guess
  • Reveal the lie in a spoiler at the bottom of your post (you can use this HTML code:
    <details><Summary>Reveal the Lie</Summary>Lie Revealed</details>

    ) (just change the S in summary and D in detail to lower case!)

  • Tag 8 friends to play along
  • Link back to the original post (Kaleena wants to see ALL of your secrets)

Two Truths and A Lie

  • I’ve read the A Song of Ice & Fire series
  • I am more than ahead on track for my Goodreads reading challenge 2019 (100 books)
  • I’ve never visited a book or literary convention

 



I’ve read the A Song of Ice & Fire series

Reveal the Lie

So since this is my second time doing this, I’m gonna take the lazy way out and not tag anyone. But please feel free to do this if you find it fun!


But did you guess it right? Let me know!

TOP TEN TUESDAY : THE BOOKS WHOSE SCREEN ADAPTATIONS THAT I’D BE TERRIFIED TO WATCH

Happy Tuesday, y’all! Today’s TTT topic is Page to screen freebies. I’ve chosen to list down books whose screen adaptations I’d  be scared to watch. In other words, these are books which I absolutely adore and have potential to make for amazing screen adaptations. But I’m scared that they’re gonna be ruined in the hands of other people. (Case in point, Game of Thrones) So, I want to see the screen adaptation but also don’t want to see it, because I love the books too much!

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018.


Fantasy Series

Lumatere Chronicles : My love for this series knows no bounds! But there are so many character and so many details in this series that would need a lot of care to be done justice to.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone : This is such a rich universe that I’d love to see come to life! But I’m sure different people would have different ideas. This is one imaginative world! Chimeras, angels, different worlds and what not! It would be a mammoth task to make it work. But if executed well, this would be a screen adaptation for the ages!

Kate Daniels : What I wouldn’t do to get a TV show on Kate Daniels. It would be like Buffy the Vampire Slayer! But again, the idea scares me as much as it thrills me. Because there’s a lot of characters, a lot of creatures and a lot of mythologies at play here. We’re talking about 10 books of plot here!

Strange the Dreamer : Another series by Laini Taylor! Laini Taylor creates and builds such amazing worlds that I doubt there’s anyone who wouldn’t want to see it all come to life. But again, the more imaginative the world, the trickier it becomes to adapt it!

Six of Crows : Who wouldn’t want to see Kaz and his crew on their screens? This would be magic on screen! But if not executed well, a disaster!

Standalones

Sadie : Sadie is just brilliant to read and listen to. I think that a movie based on it would do wonders! But since it’s written in a podcast form, making it into a movie might be not as straightforward as it seems. It would be easy to screw that up.

On the Jellicoe Road : I heard about a movie news of this book a long long time ago. I don’t know if it will ever materialize but there’s too many aspects to this book that would be tricky to adapt to screen.

The Hating Game : I absolutely love this romance. I hear that they’re already working on a movie based on this. The idea scares me to no end! Please please do justice to the chemistry between Josh and Lucy!

From Sand and Ash : When I was reading the book, I couldn’t help but wonder what a movie adaptation would be like. It would create waves if made well. But there’s a lot of factors to keep in mind! It’s about the world war after all. and has a very large scope. Can’t mess this up!

The Seven and a half deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle : How I would love to see this story in the screen! But, I don’t envy anyone having to bring such a complex and intricate plot to life! You know one person whose version of this book I probably wouldn’t be scared to watch? Christopher Nolan!


 

BOOK REVIEW : THE BRIDE TEST (THE KISS QUOTIENT #2)

Khai Diep has no feelings. Well, he feels irritation when people move his things or contentment when ledgers balance down to the penny, but not big, important emotions—like grief. And love. He thinks he’s defective. His family knows better—that his autism means he just processes emotions differently. When he steadfastly avoids relationships, his mother takes matters into her own hands and returns to Vietnam to find him the perfect bride.

As a mixed-race girl living in the slums of Ho Chi Minh City, Esme Tran has always felt out of place. When the opportunity arises to come to America and meet a potential husband, she can’t turn it down, thinking this could be the break her family needs. Seducing Khai, however, doesn’t go as planned. Esme’s lessons in love seem to be working…but only on herself. She’s hopelessly smitten with a man who’s convinced he can never return her affection.

With Esme’s time in the United States dwindling, Khai is forced to understand he’s been wrong all along. And there’s more than one way to love. 

review

When I think about it, there’s a lot in The Bride Test to nitpick about. Particularly Esme who is not even Esme. She’s Mỹ, a maid who unwittingly passes a bride test of Khai’s mother and flies to America in hopes of securing a husband and a better future. She is quick to embrace the new name of Esme. She lies to Khai about her occupation in fear of not being accepted. She also hides a huge truth that she has a little daughter back home.

And yet, I couldn’t help but feeling for Esme. I grew to be fine with all her deceptions and flaws, and began to root for her very early. I disapproved of many of her actions, yes. But I felt like a protective big sister, wanting her to triumph. And when I read the author’s note at the end that her initial concept of the story had Esme as the Other Woman acting as a nuisance in the main romance between Khai and an American girl, my feelings were solidified. Esme is a real character. She’s imperfect and dishonest at times. But she’s a fighter. And that’s what me loving her character despite the initial misgivings.

If you’ve read The Kiss Quotient, there Michael talks about his autistic cousin there. khai is that cousin. He’s extremely reserved, intent on maintaining distance with everyone, and finds himself incapable of love. And yet he’s considerate and kind, despite his unawareness about social cues. As his mother advises Esme, he only needs to be told in clear terms to understand things. There are reasons behind Khai’s reservedness and it’s not until the end that we find out why he finds himself incapable of feelings.

Khai and Esme somehow worked perfectly as a couple. I always love it when it’s the hero who’s a virgin. That just makes for such an interesting reversal! And here, it made Khai’s hesitance even more adorable. Khai’s growing feelings and his inner battle with his own conflicting emotions provided for the best kind of angst. Also, a special mention for Quan, who was an amazing brother and wingman to Khai. I’m hoping that the next book will be about him!

The ending might have been a little too cheesy and the resolution too easy, but I didn’t mind it. I’m happy to report that this time I was perfectly in the mood for the book, which sadly wasn’t the case with its predecessor. The Bride Test is just perfect romance with equal amounts steam and cuteness.


review

★★★★★