ARC REVIEW : A JEWEL BRIGHT SEA

A whirlwind of intrigue, lies, politics, and adventure swirls around one woman—and the prize she’s been sent to reclaim …
 
It was her talent for tracking magic that got Anna Zhdanov sent to catch a thief. A scholar’s daughter sold as a bond servant, she has no desire to recover the Emperor’s jewel for herself. But a chance to earn her freedom has driven her to the untamed Eddalyon province, awash with warm breezes, lapping waves, and more danger than she could possibly guess.

Within days her cover as an indolent noblewoman is in question, and it’s clear there’s more to Anna’s task than she knows. Soon she’s the captive of the unpredictable pirate captain Andreas Koszenmarc, hunted by the Emperor’s guard, besieged by a brigand queen, and at odds with her only friend. She must trust someone if she is to survive. But when all that’s certain is that everyone is hiding something, it’s no simple thing to choose 


review

This book has two of my favorite things combined together – magic and pirates! Who doesn’t like that?

Anna is on her way to find an important gem that was stolen from the emperor, before falling into the clutches of pirates, who also happen to be looking for the gem. She is forced to join hands with the pirate captain Andreas. She doesn’t trust him but she has no other option. What follows is a journey filled with magic and mayhem.

It took me some time to get into the story. Because we’re dropped into this strange world without any warning. The world building throughout the book left me wanting for more. I wanted to know more about the world, its history, the system, culture, everything. But the author doesn’t really go into the details.

We get introduced to a lot of characters at first and so much is happening right off the bat that I felt like a fish out of the water for the first quarter of the story. I wish the author took some time to absorb us into the world. I had to take a break from the reading because I found it all too much. But thankfully, after a point, I could find myself getting into engrossed.

I love Anna. She’s a fierce and brave protagonist. She knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to go after it. I also liked the secondary characters. Andreas is another interesting character. He’s got this quiet, unpredictable vibe that I enjoyed. But he remains a mysterious character even in the end. Having said that, I’d have liked a little more backstory to more of the characters.

Another qualm I have with this story is the romance. It had this almost slow-burn quality, but didn’t get enough breathing space amidst all the action and adventure, to build upon. And that’s just such a waste.

This was the first book in a series. So we can’t be too disappointed with all our unanswered questions. But at the moment, I’m feeling slightly indifferent about the next book.


ratings

★★★☆☆

Publication Date: 3rd September, 2019.
Source: ARC from Publisher -Kensington Books (via Netgalley)

Links –  AmazonGoodreads Book Depository

BLOGVERSARY : ONE YEAR OF MY BLOGGING JOURNEY!

Hello all! So it has now officially been a year since I started my blogging journey! I started blogging with a some apprehension, a little hesitance, and lots of nervousness. It was an impulsive decision and I was clueless about what would come of it.

I still remain clueless. But with each day, I only grow gladder that I decided to take the leap of faith. And it’s only because of you guys! This community has been so welcoming and inspiring since day one! I couldn’t be any more grateful.

Blogging hasn’t always been easy. It’s been a struggle at times to come up with reviews on books, or posting regularly at times. But at the end of the day, blogging has only made me a better reader. It’s made me more introspective about the books I read.

The best thing about this journey has been that I could share my reading experiences with everyone. I’ve learned a lot about myself, gotten some great book recommendations, and got acquainted with some amazing people!

I still have a lot to learn and much to improve, of course. And I hope you guys will be there to keep inspiring me throughout it all.

Now some GIFs to express what words can’t!

 

 

Happy reading, everyone!


 

ARC REVIEW : REDESIGNING HAPPINESS


It wasn’t easy for Yvonne Cable to get over a heartbreaking relationship and revamp her life. But now the once-broke single mom is Atlanta’s most sought-after interior designer–and one-half of the media’s hottest power couple. She and her celebrity fianc�, Nathan, are a perfect, practical match, on–and off–camera. And with their new home improvement reality show the object of a fierce network bidding war, there’s no limit to how far they can go . . .

But Yvonne is stunned when mogul Richard Barrington III unexpectedly makes an offer for their program. He’s the man she thought left her for a more successful woman. And he’s the father of her son–though he didn’t know it until now. Richard wants to get to know their boy, and Yvonne agrees, though she’s wary. Yet little by little, she’s finding it hard to resist the responsible, caring man Richard has become. But when a scandalous leak puts everything Yvonne’s worked for at risk, she’ll have to look beyond surfaces to come to terms with who she is–and discover what she truly wants.


review

I have very little to say about this book.

I requested this because I found the whole interior designer bit interesting. And who doesn’t like a good second-chance romance?

Sadly, there was very little on Yvonne’s job as an interior designing. Rather, it was used as some sort of a plot device to set up the romance. But this is a protagonist who’s supposed to be a popular interior designer with a TV show on the pipeline. So I was hoping to see her do more interior designing.

Yvonne’s a single mother engaged to Nathan. But Richard, her ex and the father of her son re-enters the scene and causes complications. For one, he didn’t know he had a son. To make matters worse, Yvonne still has feelings for him.

I’m not someone who actually doesn’t mind the whole trope of ‘guy finding out that he had a child all along’. But only if the writer can actually sell it well. And to sell it well, both the reasoning for him having not known and the aftermath of him knowing about it, should be convincing. The author failed on both parts in this one. I was really underwhelmed by Richard’s interactions with the son after the big revelations.

There were some big twists and secrets come out in the end, all of which turned the story even more unbelievable to me. I also was not sold on the romance. I did not feel any connection between the main couple. There was no organic development.

The ending made it look like there would be a sequel. I’ll take a pass on that.


ratings

★★☆☆☆


Publication Date: 31st July, 2019.
Source: ARC from Publisher (via Netgalley)

Links –  Amazon | Goodreads | Book Depository

BOOK REVIEW: THE AUSTEN PLAYBOOK

Freddy Carlton knows she should be focusing on her lines for The Austen Playbook, a live-action TV event where viewers choose the outcome of each scene, but her concentration’s been blown. The palatial estate housing the endeavor is now run by the rude (brilliant) critic who’s consistently slammed her performances of late. James “Griff” Ford-Griffin has a penchant for sarcasm, a majestic nose and all the sensitivity of a sledgehammer.

She can’t take her eyes off him.

Griff can hardly focus with a contagious joy fairy flitting about near him, especially when Freddy looks at him like that. His only concern right now should be on shutting down his younger brother’s well-intentioned (disastrous) schemes—or at the very least on the production (not this one) that might save his family home from the banks.

Instead all he can think of is soft skin and vibrant curls.

As he’s reluctantly dragged into her quest to rediscover her passion for the stage and Freddy is drawn into his research on a legendary theater star, the adage about appearances being deceiving proves abundantly true. It’s the unlikely start of something enormous…but a single revelation about the past could derail it all.


review

I am a big fan of Lucy Parker’s London Celebrities series which focuses mostly on the stars from the West End Theater. The Austen Playbook is the fourth in the series and might have narrowly beaten Pretty Face as my favorite of the series. I give the credit mainly to the main couple.

Griff and Freddy (Frederica) make for a compelling pair of main characters. Griff is probably the most brooding and the grumpiest hero of the series, with a marshmallow for a heart. My favorite kind. It also helps that his hair was compared to Lucius Malfoy. He’s a reviewer of theater productions, a television presenter and a producer. Freddy is an actress, forever faced with a big legacy of a late grandmother who was a powerful theater actress herself.

I could relate to Freddy a lot. She is constantly torn between her own happiness and her life-long desire of making others happy. She wants to star in comedies and light-hearted productions, but has always put that behind to please her father who wants her career to be just like that of his mother who was a master at serious acting.

Griff is burdened with a dilapidated estate from his grandfather who was a producer himself. He could easily live his own life, but has time and again sold his own assets to make up for his parents’ lavish expenses, in order to maintain his family’s legacy.

In this way, Griff and Freddy are quite similar. Only been connected through his honest and scathing reviews of her productions, they finally get to explore these similarities when Freddy takes on the role of Lydia in a production of Austenland, a play with all of Austen’s characters, lively broadcast and subject to immediate twist in the plot according to live votes from the audience watching from their homes.

Griff and Freddy have sparks right from the beginning. I loved their chemistry.  It was my favorite part of the book. But there are a lot of secondary plot-lines connected to the their main story. For example, Griff’s grandfather and Freddy’s grandmother had an epic love affair which ended abruptly. Griff is looking for finances to make a film based on that affair, but Freddy’s father will stop at nothing to stop his plans.

Although I initially liked the whole family history, I slowly lost my interest as the story progressed. The climax also could’ve been better. I’d have liked a better resolution to the live play. But I’m ready to forgive it all because of my love for the main couple.


ratings★★★★☆


ARC REVIEW : VALENCIA AND VALENTINE

ARC REVIEW : HAVE YOU SEEN LUIS VELEZ

From New York Times bestselling author Catherine Ryan Hyde comes a moving novel about two strangers who find that kindness is a powerful antidote to fear.

Raymond Jaffe feels like he doesn’t belong. Not with his mother’s new family. Not as a weekend guest with his father and his father’s wife. Not at school, where he’s an outcast. After his best friend moves away, Raymond has only two real connections: to the feral cat he’s tamed and to a blind ninety-two-year-old woman in his building who’s introduced herself with a curious question: Have you seen Luis Velez?

Mildred Gutermann, a German Jew who narrowly escaped the Holocaust, has been alone since her caretaker disappeared. She turns to Raymond for help, and as he tries to track Luis down, a deep and unexpected friendship blossoms between the two.

Despondent at the loss of Luis, Mildred isolates herself further from a neighborhood devolving into bigotry and fear. Determined not to let her give up, Raymond helps her see that for every terrible act the world delivers, there is a mirror image of deep kindness, and Mildred helps Raymond see that there’s hope if you have someone to hold on to.


review

A beautiful coming-of-age story that has some heartwarming lessons.

Raymond Jaffe is a black kid who lives with his mother, step-father and three half-sisters, all of them white. He doesn’t feel that he belongs. It also doesn’t help that his mother has no time to listen to him. He sees his father – who is black – on the weekends. Although his dad is good at listening, he’s not good at talking. His stepmother also makes Raymond feel very unwelcome. To make matters worse, Raymond’s only friend moves to a different state at the very beginning of the book. This is a character that deserves all your hugs. You will begin to care for him within the first couple of pages.

Things take a turn when he is the only person in his building who does not ignore a blind elderly woman standing outside her flat, waiting for something. Millie is helpless after Luis Velez who appointed himself her unofficial caretaker, disappeared. Millie who hasn’t ventured out of her house all by herself in a long time, is out of money and food. Raymond initially helps Millie out of kindness, but it takes no time for them to build a bond. He also takes on the mission to find Luis Velez, even if he has to go meet all the guys with this name in the city. But finding Luis proves only to be the beginning of the story.

Raymond is a character that you can’t help but love. He’s endearing, adorable and cute. He’s also lost and starved for affection. So when Millie and Raymond find each other, it’s the best thing that could happen to both of them. Their bond was just too beautiful. And I loved how Raymond finally finds someone to confide in. It was absolutely heartening to see this boy learn so much about the world in the things he does just for Millie. Then later, when Millie is the one who’s depressed and in despair, it’s Raymond who tries to show her through his actions that there’s so much to appreciate in the world.

This book deals with very important issues like racism, sexuality, depression, prejudice and prejudice. I love that we see Raymond learn about the complexities of human behavior through his experiences, and evolves as a character, without losing the goodness in him. This story and specifically Raymond will stay with me for a long time.


review

★★★★★


Publication Date: 21st May, 2019.
Source: ARC from Publisher (via Netgalley)

Links – Amazon | Goodreads | Book Depository


 

BOOK REVIEW: FIELD NOTES ON LOVE

Having just been dumped by his girlfriend, British-born Hugo is still determined to take his last-hurrah-before-college train trip across the United States. One snag: the companion ticket is already booked under the name of his ex, Margaret Campbell. Nontransferable, no exceptions.

Enter the new Margaret C. (Mae for short), an aspiring filmmaker with big dreams. After finding Hugo’s spare ticket offer online, she’s convinced it’s the perfect opportunity to expand her horizons.

When the two meet, the attraction is undeniable, and both find more than they bargained for. As Mae pushes Hugo to explore his dreams for his future, he’ll encourage her to channel a new, vulnerable side of her art. But when life off the train threatens the bubble they’ve created for themselves, will they manage to keep their love on track?


review

A very unrealistic, fluffy and cheesy YA. But I enjoyed it anyway.

Okay, you might ask what’s unrealistic about it. Let me list it out.

  1. The hero is a sextuplet.
  2. All 6 siblings got a scholarship by a certain generous benefactor to a certain college. I don’t see the generosity in this if the kids don’t get a choice of what college they can go to.
  3. His girlfriend booked them a trip in her name and then tells him to go ahead on the trip after ditching him without considering that fact. And he doesn’t once try contacting her to point out this problem.
  4. Not to mention, he could easily have someone pretend to be his girlfriend with a fake id or something. No. He decides to list an ad for someone with the exact name to accompany him.

Now, having only one of these things in the story would probably not make it stick out as unrealistic, but a combination of all of it together? It just screams fanciful to me!

As for the fluff and cheesiness, there’s insta-love, for one. A lot of the book is spent talking about love and romance too. And if you ask me, the family members, especially the parents are a little too easygoing.

Now, why did I enjoy it anyway? Because of Hugo. I loved him. He’s torn between his love for his tight-knit family, and yet a yearning to get away and see more of the world all by himself. He also struggles with his loneliness after having spent all his life with 5 siblings. There was this part where he faces racism and acutely feels the absence of his siblings who are usually there to know exactly what it feels like. He is just a really endearing character! I also found Hugo and Margaret’s relationship with their families adorable. The parts with Margaret interviewing fellow travelers to find out about their life and definitions of love, were perhaps the most poignant in the entire book.

This story looks at the world through rose-tinted glasses which could be exhausting for some. For me, parts of it felt overboard and others adorable.


review

★★★☆☆


 

BOOK REVIEW: DON’T YOU FORGET ABOUT ME

If there’s one thing worse than being fired from the grottiest restaurant in town, it’s coming home early to find your boyfriend in bed with someone else.

Reeling from the indignity of a double dumping on the same day, Georgina snatches at the next job that she’s offered – barmaid in a newly opened pub, which just so happens to run by the boy she fell in love with at school: Lucas McCarthy. And whereas Georgina (voted Most Likely to Succeed in her school yearbook) has done nothing but dead-end jobs in the last twelve years, Lucas has not only grown into a broodingly handsome man, but also has turned into an actual grown-up with a business and a dog along the way.

Meeting Lucas again not only throws Georgina’s rackety present into sharp relief, but also brings a dark secret from her past bubbling to the surface. Only she knows the truth about what happened on the last day of school, and why she’s allowed it to chase her all these years…


review

This book had all the makings of my favorite. The protagonist finds herself hitting rock bottom when we start off. And it’s a beautiful tale of her getting back up on her feet. It also happens to be a second chance romance, a trope I always like when executed well.

The story had me engaged right from the start. I liked Georgina right away too. And she grew to be a character I could relate to on a very deep level. And that rarely happens to me with fictional characters. Georgina also makes for a great strong female character.

A lot of times, I just find authors to have tried too hard with the heroines. Like overdoing it when trying to make them a badass – make them come off as too brash or rude instead? Or making them too much of a pushover at the start to make it easier for readers to root for them. You know what I mean? And I really appreciated how Georgina even in the lowest of her lows, never went all mopey or fell into darkness. She was very much on touch with her life. Georgina is far from perfect. And that makes her character even more relatable.

This story had a solid set of side characters. Georgina’s friends made for an amazing support group. Her family also added an interesting facet to the story. Lucas is a solid guy and makes for a great hero. I really liked the whole equation between Lucas and Georgina, and Georgina’s inner angst about whether Lucas actually can’t remember her or just is acting like it. That was cute! Devlin is another character that was just the coolest!

One thing the author tends to do is go into a lot of details, some of which probably not necessary, but does give us insights into the characters and their history. I might have been bored by all those details had I not found the characters interesting and been invested in their stories. This was my first read by the author, and will not be the last!

There was a part at the very end which I found to be too cheesy to digest. I also wasn’t happy about a certain time gap which I thought was too big. But other than that, I really enjoyed this story a lot.

It’s a heartwarming tale. And relatable. I’m glad I stumbled upon it when I did.


review

★★★★★


TOP TEN TUESDAY : CHARACTER THEME SONGS

Top Ten Tuesday is here! The topic this week is an Audio Freebie. So I’ll use this opportunity to attempt to list out my favorite characters and what I feel could be their theme songs.

I actually am a huge fan of music and tend to listen to music while reading. I also somehow always associating certain songs with stories or characters even. So there will always be a song that will remind me of a book or a character, or I’ll feel like listening to certain songs when reading a book. I guess I take my music seriously!

But I’m determined to have some fun with this one!

Top Ten Tuesday is a Weekly Blog Meme currently hosted over at That Artsy Reader Girl.


ttt

Hermione Granger (Harry Potter)

Fight Song – Rachel Platten

Like how a single word
Can make a heart open
I might only have one match
But I can make an explosion

So I saw this one fanmade tribute video to Hermione with this song on Youtube a while ago. And voila! I got introduced to a song that never fails to remind me of my most favorite female character of all time.

Youtube | Spotify | itunes

Charlie Kelmeckis (The Perks of Being a Wallfower)

Radiohead – Creep

I want you to notice
When I’m not around
You’re so fuckin’ special
I wish I was special

This one’s too easy and obvious for anyone who’s read the book.

Youtube | Spotify | itunes


Eleanor Oliphant (Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine)

Joni Mitchell – Both Sides Now

I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down and still somehow
It’s cloud’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know clouds at all

This song gives this feeling of blurred lines between reality and imagination that reminds me a lot about Eleanor.

Youtube | Spotify | itunes

 

Rhysand (A Court of Roses and Thorns Series)

Imagine Dragons – Demons

When you feel my heat
Look into my eyes
It’s where my demons hide
It’s where my demons hide
Don’t get too close
It’s dark inside
It’s where my demons hide
It’s where my demons hide

Rhys likes to think of himself as a monster and a demon – which he’s not. But this song is perfect for him.

Youtube | Spotify| itunes

Kate Daniels (Kate Daniels)

Brandi Carlile – Raise Hell

I’ve been down with a broken heart
Since the day I learned to speak
The devil gave me a crooked start
When he gave me crooked feet

Kate Daniels was groomed from her childhood to raise hell.

Youtube | Spotify| itunes

 

Lucy Hutton (The Hating Game)

Coldplay – Strawberry Swing

They were sitting
They were talking in the strawberry swing
Every moment was so precious

Strawberries, anyone? This song takes my mind to a happy place, just as the book does. I also think this song could even work as a theme song to Josh & Lucy’s love story.

Youtube | Spotify | itunes

 

Froi (Lumatere Chronicles)

Ray Lamontagne – Empty

Will I always feel this way
So empty
So estranged?

Froi struggles a lot with this feeling of emptiness and not belonging to anywhere throughout the series. I listened to it a lot when reading Froi of Exiles.

Youtube | Spotify | itunes

 

Sarai (Strange the Dreamer)

Goo Goo Dolls – Iris

And I’d give up forever to touch you
‘Cause I know that you feel me somehow

I think this song perfectly captures Sarai’s longing to be loved and accepted.

Youtube | Spotify | itunes

 

Rose Calloway (Calloway Sisters)

Alicia Keys – Girl on Fire

Looks like a girl, but she’s a flame
So bright, she can burn your eyes
Better look the other way
You can try but you’ll never forget her name
She’s on top of the world
Hottest of the hottest girls say

A fiery song for my fiery girl!

Youtube | Spotify | itunes

Victor Vale (Villains)

Zack Hemsey – Vengeance

Before the fire and stone
Before your world is gone
Have you some patience
Cuz I will have my vengeance

This song just screams Victor Vale! I also feel that the whole vibe of this song goes perfectly well with the series.

Youtube | Spotify | itunes


Well, what do you guys think?

 

 

 

 

ARC REVIEW: FAKING FOREVER (FIRST WIVES #4)

Shannon Wentworth’s biological clock is ticking, and she isn’t going to let her single status keep her from having a baby. When her wedding-photography business takes her to Mexico, she has every intention of finding a willing baby daddy to help her out. Until the bride goes AWOL, leaving Shannon to coddle the arrogant fiancé who has accused her of sabotaging his wedding.

Victor Brooks never could have imagined that he’d be on a honeymoon for one. Only here he is, taking a hard look at his life after the younger women he thought he loved walked out. The woman who volunteers to help him reflect is the last person he expects to be attracted to. Between the tequila, the sun, and one earth-shattering kiss, Victor finds Shannon a distraction too sexy to ignore.

They strike a deal: wait three months, cool off, and see if their tropical beach attraction is worth taking up when they go back home. Unfortunately, that’s just enough time for the past to come calling. All their best-laid plans are at risk. So is the last thing Shannon expected to matter the most: her heart.


Shannon is nearing 35 and divorced. She wants to be a mother but the clock is ticking so she plans to get pregnant from a one-night stand.

Victor is a workaholic and marriage is just a tick off a list to him. He is about to get married in Mexico, a wedding his wife hired Shannon as the photographer for. They first meet on their flight to Mexico, not pleasant for either of them. He is dumped at the altar and decides to spend his honeymoon all by himself. Shannon also stays back to execute her mission of getting pregnant.

I liked Victor and Shannon together. The banter and tension between them was great. Their flirting and fun times in Mexico were my favorite parts. The romance was completely believable.

But I have a serious problem with this story. Let me rewind to what I said right at the beginning – Shannon plans to get pregnant from a one night stand without even consulting the guy. Am I the only one who finds it so wrong? Getting pregnant involuntarily from a one-night stand is another thing. But intentionally engineering an encounter to get pregnant even if you never plan to see that man again? That’s just horrible! And what horrified me even more was how normally everyone took it when Shannon shared her plans with them. We find out about Shannon’s plan right at the beginning and I had to muster a lot of self-will to continue. I also had other small quibbles with the book, but none as significant. I just couldn’t get past this one thing.

If you, unlike me, don’t mind such plot devices and are in mood for some breezy romance, you can give this book a try.


★★★☆☆