Book Review – The One Real Thing (Hart’s Boardwalk #1) by Samantha Young

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TITLE: 
The One Real Thing (Hart’s Boardwalk #1)
AUTHOR: Samantha Young
PAGES:  382 pages
PUBLISHED: September 6th 2016
PUBLISHER: Berkley
GENRE: New Adult, Romance, Sweet, Book Boyfriend

MY RATING: 4/5 birds
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SUMMARY:

Doctor Jessica Huntington needs a change of scenery. While working at a women’s correctional facility she stumbles upon old love letters from a previous inmate that were never delivered and they touch her deeply. She vows to deliver them to the intended recipient and finds herself in the coastal town of Hartwell.

While searching for the letter’s intended reader, she meets the local bar owner who is undeniably sexy.

Cooper Lawson is divorced and focusing on his business but when Jessica steps into his bar he wants to figure out who this enigmatic doctor is and how he can get her to risk everything and let him into her heart.

 

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MY REVIEW:

I really love Samantha Young’s novels and I re-read On Dublin Street every few months when I feel like a good love story. I think one of Young’s biggest strengths is creating really loveable and believable female protagonists and this story was no expectation. Jessica was very interesting as she works as a doctor for female inmates in prison. One shift she discovers letters from a previous imamate who died and the letters touch her heart. She seeks out the man who never received the letters in a small seaside town called Hartwell.

Although I am not a small town girl (I love big cities), Hartwell just seemed like the most charming and idyllic place, I can see why Jessica wanted to live there!

Cooper was incredibly attractive, I don’t know how Young does it. She always writes the perfect man and the first sexy scene between Jessica and Cooper was so hot…*phew*

I think the only issues I had with the entire novel was it felt a bit slow at times because there was a lot going on. There were many side characters…Bailey (her new best friend) Sam (The shy bookstore owner), Cooper’s sister (I think her name was Kat), Cooper’s ex-wife Dana, Vaughn, and then there was the whole plot about the Devlin family, as well as the plot about the letters. It was a bit too much and some of the plots I wasn’t really interested in.

I am very excited to see what happens in Every Little Thing with Bailey, Tom and Vaughn. I thought the interacts between Bailey and Vaughn were hilarious so I can’t wait to see what happens between them!

 

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Book Review – Luca by Sarah Castille

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TITLE: 
Luca (Ruin & Revenge #2)
AUTHOR: Sarah Castille
PAGES:  350 pages
PUBLISHED: June 27th 2017
PUBLISHER: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
GENRE: New Adult,

MY RATING: 4/5 birds
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SUMMARY:

Gabrielle Fawkes has been admitted to the hospital after being shot while she was seeking revenge on the job. For two years officer Gabrielle has been trying to find the man who murdered her husband. In the hospital, she meets Luca Rizzoli and an instant attraction forms. She doesn’t know he is a merciless Italian crime boss who creates his own law, the exact opposite of everything Gabrielle stands for.

After one very sexy encounter, neither of them can let the other go, even though being with Gabrielle means Luca risks losing everything he has built in the mafia – and potentially his life.

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MY REVIEW:

I have always wanted to read Sarah Castille, so when I was given the opportunity to read Luca I couldn’t resist (even though I haven’t read the first novel of this series)! And I am so glad I did because this was a great read! It definitely can be read as a standalone, I didn’t feel like I was missing anything not having read the first novel.

I really liked how Luca was possessive over Gabrielle but he still respected her and in a lot of ways she completely ran the show and he just followed her. The first half of the novel I didn’t really like how he treated Matteo and how violent he was but Luca and Gabrielle made a really sweet couple. As opposite as they were, they were also a very believable couple.

Overall this was so much fun. Between the action, scorching sex scenes, crazy twists, humour and violence, this novel really had it all! I am excited to read Rocco which I think is actually Frankie’s story! I wonder who will melt his cold heart?

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Book Review – The Dangerous Billionaire by Jackie Ashenden

Book Review – Obsession by Calista Fox

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TITLE: 
Obsession (Bayfront Billionaires #4)
AUTHOR: Calista Fox
PAGES:  332 pages
PUBLISHED: Published June 6th, 2017
PUBLISHER: St. Martin’s Press
GENRE: New Adult, Romance, Menage, Billionaire Trope Genre, Novella

MY RATING: 4/5 birds
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SUMMARY:

Roxy Shea is on the mend after an abusive relationship and is hiding out in Bayford. She doesn’t expect to catch the eye of not only one sexy bachelor but two! Even though she has sworn off all men she can’t just resist their sinful ways. Nick Faulkner and Hunter Valens used to be best friends until Hunter vanished for a few years and suddenly came back, vying for Roxy’s attention. Roxy is interested in both men, but who will truly capture her heart?

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MY REVIEW:

Another sexy ménage from Calista Fox! I was lucky enough to receive The Billionaires from Netgalley a while back and I was very impressed with Fox’s writing skills and ability to spin a hot scene! This novella is no exception.

The benefit of this short novel was that the hot scenes were quick and plentiful, but I didn’t like this as much as The Billionaires. I like a little more length to really get to know the characters and set up a story without insta-love/lust.

If you are looking for a quick and sexy read definitely pick this up! I didn’t feel like I was missing out on anything by starting on the 4th novel of the series.

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Book Review – First Semester by Sarah Fischer

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TITLE: 
First Semester (Elton Hall Chronicles #1)
AUTHOR: Sarah Fischer
PAGES:  332 pages
PUBLISHED: Published April 4th, 2017
PUBLISHER: Limitless Publishing
GENRE: New Adult, Romance, Forbidden Romance (Age Difference)

MY RATING: 3/5 birds
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SUMMARY:

The story begins with Violet, a freshman at Elton Hall who meets an attractive and alluring man at a casino who turns out to be her literature Professor. They have an undeniable attraction but anything between them is strictly forbidden. As boundaries are crossed and Violet’s life is threatened will she be able to contain this secret affair?

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MY REVIEW:

This is definitely not the first student/professor romance novel I have read and unfortunately this isn’t one I particularly enjoyed or would recommend.

The writing was a bit awkward and formal for university students and I didn’t really connect with Violet. I didn’t like how she was always acting with false bravado and the description on Goodreads doesn’t allude to any kind of love triangle but Violet hooks up with two guys and also has another one interested in her. That in itself isn’t too much of an issue but I wish the author had focused more on Violet and David’s relationship. There are too many side characters. The issues with Violet’s roommate came out of left field and probably could have been taken out entirely from the novel.

David was okay. He was British and hot and that is about it. He and Violet didn’t seem to have enough meaningful conversations for me to take their romance too seriously. They also had stupid miscommunications that had me seriously questioning Violet and her maturity. I was also slightly annoyed that David texted like a 14 year old boy. This isn’t 2002 anymore…who abbreviates you to ‘u’ anymore besides young teens? Especially someone in their early 30s who didn’t even grow up with a cellphone? Maybe people still do this but it is so unattractive to me.

And on the topic of age… I thought the scene after they slept together and he made her dinner was weird. He is making her pasta with red sauce and he tells her he has ‘soft drinks’ in the fridge. It made me instantly aware that she is under 21 and that their affair is a bit odd. Red wine would have been more appropriate with dinner but…she can’t even legally drink. Forbidden romances can be sexy or intriguing but Violet acted a bit too childish at times and it really made me wonder what David sees in her besides her looks.

Another issue I had was when writers pass time quickly by using lines like ‘the week was so busy and flew by…’ or ‘before we knew it, I checked the clock and it was after one in the morning…’ etc. It is okay every once in a while but I notice the author used it quite a bit, and I didn’t like it. Especially when David and Violet first spent real time together and instead of actually telling the reader how they bonded she just said they ‘talked until one in the morning’ and we are supposed to gather that they now feel closer.

The ending was very abrupt and again, instead of explaining, the author just summed up with rest of the entire semester and Violet’s relationship with David in one very short sentence. It definitely didn’t have a HEA ending.

As the author’s debut novel I am being very generous with three stars because although my review is quite critical the book did keep my attention (even though it took me almost 2 months to finish), and it wasn’t the worse student/professor novel I have ever picked up. I think some of the writing issues are things that the author can improve on over time so I wouldn’t write her off entirely (haha puns.)

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Do you enjoy the whole student/professor romance genre? Let me know in the comments!

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Book Review – Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare

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TITLE: 
Lady Midnight (The Dark Artifices #1)
AUTHOR: Cassandra Clare
PAGES:  698 pages
PUBLISHED: March 8th 2016
PUBLISHER: Margaret K. McElderry Books
GENRE: Young Adult, Urban Paranormal/Fantasy, Romance, Mystery

MY RATING: 5/5 birds
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SUMMARY:

The story begins with our heroine Emma Carstairs, who we met in the final book of the Mortal Instruments, City of Heavenly Fire. Clary Fairchild befriends her after seeing her lose both her parents and Emma becomes parabatai with Julian Blackthorn so they can stay together. Julian (or Jules) is Emma’s best friend and in the Mortal Instruments we get a sense that Emma isn’t 100% committed to becoming parabatai with Jules, but does it so that she isn’t sent away from him and the Blackthorns, who’ve become a family to her. This novel contuines with the lives of Emma Carstairs and the Blackthorn family and what became of them.

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MY REVIEW:

Oh yes. I read this monster of a book in one day. You know when you read a book and get so into it that hours later you think to yourself “have I eaten?”

That was me. I completely skipped lunch and nibbled on some biscuits because I could not put this down!

In my opinion, you need to have read both The Infernal Devices and The Mortal Instruments before reading this. I know other review’s say you don’t but I really think you miss out on a lot. Not just little references but whole characters and story lines that you don’t know about.

I did not read the Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy series and was a bit spoiled so that was a little annoying (my own fault) but I don’t think those novellas or The Bane Chronicles are 100% necessary to read before this. Also my review below is going to contain spoilers but I will try to put the big stuff in a hidden spoiler tag.

“You’ll fix me because we’re parabatai. We’re forever”

I really did not know what to expect with this but the writing reminded me a lot more of The Infernal Devices than The Mortal Instruments. This follows the story of Emma Carstairs, who we met in the final book of the Mortal Instruments, City of Heavenly Fire. Clary befriends her after seeing her lose both her parents and Emma becomes parabatai with Julian Blackthorn so they can stay together. Julian (or Jules) is Emma’s best friend and in the Mortal Instruments we get a sense that Emma isn’t 100% committed to becoming parabatai with Jules, but does it so that she isn’t sent away from him and the Blackthorns, who’ve become a family to her.

I love Emma! She is the distant relative of Jem Carstairs who makes an appearance, along with Tessa Grey in this! I loved the throwbacks and Emma is nothing like Clary or Tessa. If anything she is a bit like Jase but without the cockiness. She trains extremely hard and is a top Shadowhunter. She is definitely not a brat like Clary could be, or weak like Tessa. You have to really admire how much Emma is will to sacrifice for those she loves.

I really love Julian as well. He shoulders so much responsibility, I have no idea how he doesn’t just explode from it all. Emma seems to be his only safe place, the only thing that helps him, but their love is illegal. We find out that parabatai’s are forbidden by Law to never romantically fall in love with each other. If they do fall in love and the Clave finds out the punishment is extremely fierce. For almost all of the book we are not told why that it is a law, until Jem tells Emma what the consequence is.

As for the other new characters, I absolutely love Mark who is a half-faerie half-shadowhunter and was taken by The Hunt in the final book of the Mortal Instruments. He almost felt like the main character to me, although I really don’t think he and Emma should ever actually get together. Emma is clearly made for Jules. We find out Mark’s fate in the faerie realm and how the Clave essentially broke their promise to help get him back to the Blackthorns family. I really felt his love with Kieran, even though he betrays him, but I really hope they get their happily-ever-after. I was very confused with his feelings towards Cristina and I really can’t see him being with her at all. I didn’t feel any real spark between them. Sure, they found each other attractive but I think Cristina hesitated to sleep with him because she is still in love with Perfect Diego, and Mark is still in love with Kieran.

Tiberius (or Ty) and Livvy were adorable, as were all the Blackthorn kids, but I kind of wish, especially at age fifteen they realised how much of a burden they were placing on Julian. At age fifteen I feel like they could take their own share of the load and do the cooking/cleaning and helping take care of the youngest one (Tavvy), instead of leaving everything for Julian.

Every scene with Clary and Jace was so lovely. Even Magnus and Alec showed their pretty little faces at one point and Izzy and Simon were referenced to. Even though I literally just finished the final book of the Mortal Instrument series (so late, I know) this was a nice little nostalgic touch.

I also love Cristina and Perfect Diego. They definitely seemed like side-characters and we didn’t get to know them as much as the other new people but I loved how tough Cristina is and her friendship with Emma was very sweet. I really hope we get to see her character grow in the next book. I am not sure if I completely trust Perfect Diego yet, even though Cristina seems to have forgiven him by the end. I think that although Cristina didn’t hear him say anything to his brother, it doesn’t mean that he is innocent. I am curious to see if his brother is going to make an appearance in the next book.

And that ending with Kit!! Did not see that one coming and I am really curious as to where his character is going! I can forsee more Jace in the next book! Yay!

I know Cassandra Clare gets a lot of hate (whether it’s justified or not is completely your opinion) but one thing I really love about her writing, beyond being a very good storyteller, is that she pushes the boundaries of what is “normal” in her novels. I felt like this when she had Magnus and Alec in the Mortal Instruments enter a relationship. Even if you don’t like her books, you have to admit that the Mortal Instruments is a very popular series that has been turned into both a movie and TV series. Having a prominent gay couple is really cool to see and I love that people embrace these characters. In this novel I thought it was amazing that Cassandra Clare included not only Hispanic characters (Cristina and Perfect Diego are from Mexico), mentioned that (view spoiler), Mark is bixseual, but also that Ty has autism. Clare handled Ty with perfection. He wasn’t stereotyped and he was loved by his entire family for being exactly who he is.

Overall this is such a great start to the series. I am curious if this is going to be a trilogy or turn into The Mortal Instruments and have many books. I think Cassandra Clare has grown so much as an author and I really feel like this is already better than the Mortal Instrument series. It’s the perfect blend of everything we know like demons, shadowhunters, warlocks, faeries, parabatai, but with family bonds, crazy action and an epic forbidden romance.

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Book Review – The Change Room by Karen Connelly

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TITLE: 
The Change Room
AUTHOR: Karen Connelly
PAGES:  320 pages
PUBLISHED: April 11th 2017
PUBLISHER: Random House Canada
GENRE: Romance, LGBT, Adult Fiction

MY RATING: 3/5 birds

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SUMMARY:

Eliza Keenan is the mother of two boys, a business owner and wife to a math professor named Andrew. Her life is defined by her family and she only gets time to herself when she goes for her twice-weekly swim at the community pool. One day she meets a mysterious and intriguing young woman who she nicknames “The Amazon”. The weekly meet ups turn into an illicit affair between the two woman, which threatens her entire world but can something that makes Eliza feel so good, be really that bad?

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MY REVIEW

This type of contemporary story isn’t something I would normally pick up but I am trying to make an effort to read more novels by Canadian authors and when I saw this on NetGalley I was intrigued. There were aspects that I liked (the writing) and disliked (the characters/story) which lead to three stars.

I was conflicted about Eliza. I didn’t actively dislike her but it was hard to get behind the white, upper-middle-class whining. She complained about balancing work, kids and marriage in her white suburban life and it was really hard to give a damn. This isn’t to say that I don’t think her issues are legitimate to her but it was a bit boring to read over and over again. I also don’t have kids so I really could not relate to how much of the novel was focused on them, most of which was her complaining.

I also thought she was incredibly selfish and a bit ridiculous. For example there is a paragraph where Eliza is describing in detail how much she cleans (*yawn*) around the house and how her mother told her the way to ruin a good marriage is to keep score of who did what. So Eliza “did many tasks herself, resentfully, or in a state of resigned oblivion, often late at night after the kids had gone to bed.”

Yes…because resentfully doing anything in your marriage is super healthy, right? And then the next sentence is about how Andrew suggested hiring a cleaner, which he did himself, but in Eliza’s words after “a couple of duds and one klutz” she went back to resentfully cleaning everything herself.

Oh lord. First, just the fact that you can afford a cleaning should be enough. This is not a cheap service in Canada and I only know a few well-off family friends that have cleaners. Eliza sounds so uptight, even people that clean professionally are not up to her standard and she would rather “suffer resentfully” then work with someone. Then she wonders why her marriage is failing?

Stories like this are always a bit uncomfortable for me, personally. I have a pretty strict moral code when it comes to cheating so it hard for me to understand Eliza’s POV, even if we are told how bad of a husband Andrew is or how stressful her life is, I just don’t understand why you wouldn’t end things before cheating/having an affair.

I was also surprised at how much detailed sex there was in this. Now, if you look at the books I read on Goodreads you see I have read a lot of erotica, bdsm, LGBT stuff so it wasn’t that I am a prude, it just did not work for me. It was really distracting from the actual storytelling and it felt like the author added it for “shock value” which I did not like.

The Quebecois woman was also bit stereotyped in my opinion, and also the line about Eliza’s brother (I think?) who works in the oil rigs in Alberta and makes a ton of money, most of which “goes up his nose”. While that is true for some rig workers it’s a terrible stereotype and so cliché. It also makes other Canadians look down upon Alberta.

I would be interested in reading other novels by Karen Connelly, the writing itself was very well done and I wish I had like this more but unfortunately it just did not work for me.

Thank you to NetGalley and Random House Canada for letting me read this novel in exchange for an honest review.

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