Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Butterfly and the Violin by Kristy Cambron Review

A Mysterious painting breathes hope and beauty into the darkest corners of Auschwitz--and the loneliest hearts of Manhattan.

Manhattan art dealer Sera James watched her world crumble at the altar two years ago, and her heart is still fragile. Her desire for distraction reignites a passion for a mysterious portrait she first saw as a young girl--a painting of a young violinist with piercing blue eyes.

In her search for the painting, Sera crosses paths with William Hanover--the grandson of a wealthy California real estate mogul--who may be the key to uncovering the hidden masterpiece. Together Sera and William slowly unravel the story behind the painting's subject: Austrian violinist Adele Von Bron.

A darling of the Austrian aristocracy of 1942, talented violinist, and daughter to a high-ranking member of the Third Reich, Adele risks everything when she begins smuggling Jews out of Vienna. In a heartbeat, her life of prosperity and privilege dissolves into a world of starvation and barbed wire.

As Sera untangles the secrets behind the painting, she finds beauty in the most unlikely of places: the grim camps of Auschwitz and the inner recesses of her own troubled heart.
5/5 Stars
Oh the feels...
My heart is overwhelmed with joy as I'm writing this review. Let me start by saying that my all time favorite read is The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons. I am constantly trying to find something comparable and am usually left feeling underwhelmed... Well this one may just be the first read that left me with the same mind blowing feeling.
There are two stories within this book. A modern love story and an epic historic romance. One painting connects them all and it is up to Sera and William to find it. Sera has been in search of the mysterious painting for years and William's career and family depends on it. When the two decide to work together, a journey of Christianity, hope, love, and learning to trust again begins. As the pages turn we get to see Sera and William's romance grow and also get the story behind the girl in the painting.

Adele, the well known musician fell in love with the wrong guy, put her life on the line for her friends, and was sent to Auschwitz. Her story was emotional and all-consuming. On one hand we have her falling head over heels in love and on another we have her fighting for her life. I ate up each word and found myself highlighting quotes like crazy. It was an epic love story with the kind of subtle romance that leaves you breathless. It's forbidden and tragic, but so worth the read.
The one constant in this story is the presence of God. Each and every character had to believe and have hope in order to move forward with their lives. I thought it was an inspirational book with two unforgettable stories. I recommend it to every reader and am now dying to read the next in the series. My new goal is to find a signed copy of this baby!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Out of Easy by Ruta Septeys Review

It’s 1950, and as the French Quarter of New Orleans simmers with secrets, seventeen-year-old Josie Moraine is silently stirring a pot of her own. Known among locals as the daughter of a brothel prostitute, Josie wants more out of life than the Big Easy has to offer.

She devises a plan to get out, but a mysterious death in the Quarter leaves Josie tangled in an investigation that will challenge her allegiance to her mother, her conscience, and Willie Woodley, the brusque madam on Conti Street. Josie is caught between the dream of an elite college and a clandestine underworld. New Orleans lures her in her quest for truth, dangling temptation at every turn, and escalating to the ultimate test.

With characters as captivating as those in her internationally bestselling novel Between Shades of Gray, Ruta Sepetys skillfully creates a rich story of secrets, lies, and the haunting reminder that decisions can shape our destiny.
My Thoughts:
4/5 Stars
This one was a breath of fresh air... I needed something different and Out of Easy exceeded all expectations. It was a historical piece that captured the essence of The French Quarter. It's about a girl that is tied to a brothel and has a Madame as a mother figure. There are a lot of twists and turns, but in the end I was quite satisfied. 
The characters in this story captured my heart. Josie was such a strong character. Her mom was worthless and her life wasn't anything to be desired, but she makes the most of it. She works hard and never gives up on her dreams. Her friends may seem underwhelming, but they are kind and she is truly lucky to have them. Her life is made hard by the decisions of her mom. She is tied to a criminal that commits a crime and leaves the town in shambles. Slowly Josie must put the pieces of the puzzle together to uncover the secrets behind the murder. Luckily she has stern Willie in her corner. She was an unconventional character, but I learned to respect her. She cared for Josie and chose to protect her when she had no one else.
The theme of the story was murder mystery meets upper/lower class scandal. It was quirky and heartwarming, but also dangerous and tragic. It's basically a tangle of lies with a mild love triangle. Josie has Patrick, the best friend and Jesse the guy that all the ladies love. She has mixed emotions and puts others in front of herself. It takes a bit for her to figure it all out, but she does and the decisions are genius. 
Overall, I really enjoyed this story. It was a fun, emotional read that pulled me in and left me feeling like I was in the character's shoes. I definitely recommend it to readers that like time period pieces.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Amazon Prime Sale! Plus FREEBIES!

Amazon Prime is on sale....
& there are FREEBIES below.

Happy Reading-
Amazon Prime is celebrating the 67th Emmy Awards with a limited time offer. $67 (Reg. $99) Runs Midnight -11:59PT on 9/25
I've been waiting to buy mine & today looks like a great day!
You can start yours by clicking the link below...

(Prices could change at anytime...)
Chasing Luck (A Serendipity Novel Book 1) by Brinda Berry-
Death Wishes: 10 Things I Must Do Before I Die by Rowanna Green-
No Flowers Required (Love Required Book 2) by Cari Quinn-
Out There: a novel by Sarah Stark-
Quiver by Lucia Jordan-
The Gentleman by Lucia Jordan-
The Romantic by Felix Alexander-
Geoducks Are for Lovers (Modern Love Stories Book 1) by Daisy Prescott-
Stolen Grace: Part One by Arianne Richmonde-
Where Love Finds You (Unspoken Series Book 1) by Marilyn Grey-
Bound for Hell: (The Bound Trilogy Book 1) by Kendra Leigh-
Incandescent: Knights Rebels MC by River Savage-
Where My Heart Breaks by Ivy Sinclair-
The Faerie Prince by Rachel Morgan-
The Fitzgerald Family: Book 1–3 by E. B. Walters-
Abandon by Cassia Leo-
Untying the Knot by Linda Gillard-
Love Hurts by Mandi Beck-
Wild Reckless by Ginger Scott-

Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Affiliate by K.A. Linde

On the day of her Presenting, in front of the entire Byern Court, seventeen-year-old Cyrene Strohm's lifelong plans come to fruition when she's chosen for one of the most prestigious positions in her homeland—an Affiliate to the Queen.

Or so she thinks.

When Cyrene receives a mysterious letter and an unreadable book, she finds nothing is as it seems. Thrust into a world of dangerous political intrigue and deadly magic, Cyrene's position only grows more treacherous when she finds herself drawn to the one man she can never have...

King Edric himself.

Cyrene must decide if love is truly worth the price of freedom. Find out in this first book in USA Today bestselling author K.A. Linde’s new Ascension series.
3.5/5 STARS
Let me start by saying that this cover is gorgeous and the premise is on point. I love YA reads that pull you into a different world and this one did just that. It was a fantasy tale with a royalty atmosphere.
Cyrene the main character is chosen to be an affiliate to the queen. She expects to enrich her knowledge and use her skills to serve to the best of her ability. The queen however has different plans. She sees that Cyrene catches the King's eye and quickly becomes cold as ice towards her. Cyrene is forced to work in a field that isn't her favorite and becomes well aware of what she needs to do. Her intense feelings towards the King must dwindle. It's not that easy though... The more time they spend together, the deeper they fall. Cyrene's heart is pulled back and forth and her mind is worn down by a mysterious book and an unclear presenting letter. She makes it her mission to fulfill a prophecy and uncover the magic within her body.
For me... This book had all the ingredients to be an amazing story, but lacked depth and that complete story feel. I understand setting us up for the next book, but I would have liked to see a couple of loose ends be tied up before moving on. For instance, a letter to the king saying she had to leave would have been perfect. No explanation needed; just something to show that they were still connected. I feel like she disappeared so much that it was hard for me to fully commit to whatever it was between them. It was hot as fire, then she was running off. I know that was a big part of the story I just felt like some parts didn't completely add up or flow together to provide a completely developed story.
However with all of that being said... I loved the overall concept and the fantasy elements that gave it that eerie feel. The warrior test was intense and the tunnel scene was pretty great. It was enjoyable and kept me turning the pages. I was anxious to see what would happen next and to find out more about the book and the prophecy. I loved the King, the Prince, & Eren. I definitely look forward to what comes next in this series.
I recommend this one to all readers that love fantasy stories with hints of danger, brushes of romance, and a vivid royal feel.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Cam Girl by Leah Raeder Review

Vada Bergen is broke, the black sheep of her family, and moving a thousand miles away from home for grad school, but she’s got the two things she loves most: her art and her best friend—and sometimes more—Ellis Carraway. Ellis and Vada have a friendship so consuming it’s hard to tell where one girl ends and the other begins. It’s intense. It’s a little codependent. And nothing can tear them apart.

Until an accident on an icy winter road changes everything.

Vada is left deeply scarred, both emotionally and physically. Her once-promising art career is cut short. And Ellis pulls away, unwilling to talk about that night. Everything Vada loved is gone.

She’s got nothing left to lose.

So when she meets some smooth-talking entrepreneurs who offer to set her up as a cam girl, she can’t say no. All Vada has to do is spend a couple hours each night stripping on webcam, and the “tips” come pouring in.

It’s just a kinky escape from reality until a client gets serious. “Blue” is mysterious, alluring, and more interested in Vada’s life than her body. Online, they chat intimately. Blue helps her heal. And he pays well, but he wants her all to himself. No more cam shows. It’s an easy decision: she’s starting to fall for him. But the steamier it gets, the more she craves the real man behind the keyboard. So Vada pops the question:

Can we meet IRL?

Blue agrees, on one condition. A condition that brings back a ghost from her past. Now Vada must confront the devastating secrets she's been running from—those of others, and those she's been keeping from herself...

3/5 Stars

I am all kinds of torn with this review... On one hand I want to give it 4 stars because the writing was exquisite, but on another, I have to give it 3 because as a whole I just never really enjoyed/connected to the story. Now before I go on I want to make a note... My dislike did not stem from the subject matter, but more the characters, storyline, and overall outcome. I was pissed when the mystery was revealed and I still kind of am. I was all in with Blue. Something about his character was itrigueing, sexy and mysterious. It was basically my whole reason for continuing to read. When I got to that reveal though my jaw hit the floor, my forehead scrunched, my resting bitch face became a full on bitch face. For me that twist just ruined the story. I had high hopes and they were shot down with hollow point bullets.

With all of that being said... I did enjoy Vada. I liked her confusion, complexity, personailty, and struggles. I loved the "cam girl" parts and her flashbacks to the accident. I think The Author really showed us how a vulnerable character can turn into a fierce heroine.

Overall, I think many will enjoy this story and many will have issues. The theme is pushing the norm and teaching us to open our eyes to something we don't see everyday. It's about judging and bullying... About the trans world and how suicide comes into play. It wasn't really my cup of tea, but Leah knows how to write. The words are poetic and the vivid descriptions of the paintings add a subtle classic side to this unconventional story. I can't say I recommend it to all readers, but if you have an open mind and give it a try... I hope you enjoy it.

Monday, September 14, 2015

If I Should Die Before I Wake by Han Nolan Review

Hilary hates Jews. As part of a neo-Nazi gang in her town, she's finally found a sense of belonging. But when she's critically injured in an accident, everything changes.
Somehow, in her mind, she has become Chana, a Jewish girl fighting for her own life in the ghettos and concentration camps of World War II.
Han Nolan offers powerful insight into one young woman's survival through the Holocaust and another's journey out of hatred and self-loathing.
Reader's guide and an interview with the author included.
If you love reading about World War 2 then you most definitely need to read this one! It was a story about two girls that were connected in a significant way, but neither knew it until the very end. One was in a coma and the other was at a working camp. They face their own battles, but lean on one another to escape the darkness. There was guilt... There was hope... There was weakness and there was courage like no other... 
If I Should Die Before I Wake was an intense story with graphic, painful moments that brought an abundance of feels. I literally got sick to my stomach while I was reading. The vivid scenes and the heart wrenching deaths pulled me right into the pages. I felt for Chana and wanted to be the one to guide her through the dark times. No matter how weak her body and mind were she always pushed through. She helped others and in the end found that faith was her guidance. Hilary was a tough character for me. She was unlikeable from the beginning, but grew on me as the bitterness faded. The more her life blended with Chana the more she changed for the better. By the end I felt just as connected to her.
Overall, I was blown away by the history within the words. The Author made it easy for us to imagine what each character was going through and it really messed with my thoughts. I could feel my moods change with the pages. It was really an all consuming read that opened my eyes to just what took place at Auschwitz.
I definitely recommend it to all the history buffs or just someone looking for a unique story with a vivid realness to it.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers Review

Why be the sheep, when you can be the wolf?

Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.

Ismae’s most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?

I just finished Grave Mercy and am left aw struck. The world between the pages has managed to lure me in and bury deep within my soul. It was full of suspense, royalty, bitter emotions, and unconditional love. It had many twists and turns that left me on the edge of my seat.

It is a story about a young girl who is convent raised to be an assassin. She is taught all the ways to kill and then sent on missions to look for the marque of death. When she is sent with Duval to the palace her world gets a tad crazy. She isn't sure who to confide in other then fulfilling her service to Mortain and her commitment to the duchess. Secrets have to be revealed and lies have to be uncovered... She doesn't expect to feel anything of the sorts of love, but the match is lit and there is no turning back. In the end a slow burn romance turns into a full burn flame.

I just fell head over heels in love with the characters and quickly became envious and jealous of Ismae. Her life was dangerous, but it was also magical, romantic, and intense. I loved how strong she was and how she always followed her heart no matter the consequence... She was a bada$$ heroine that pulled me in and left me captivated.

Overall, this book exceeded all expectations. It consumed me with it's regal setting and left me wanting to bid the lord good night. I definitely recommend it to all readers! Even if you aren't a YA fan... I still think you will enjoy it.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Graceling by Kristin Cashore Review

Katsa has been able to kill a man with her bare hands since she was eight - she's a Graceling, one of the rare people in her land born with an extreme skill. As niece of the king, she should be able to live a life of privilege, but Graced as she is with killing, she is forced to work as the king's thug.

When she first meets Prince Po, Graced with combat skills, Katsa has no hint of how her life is about to change.

She never expects to become Po's friend.

She never expects to learn a new truth about her own Grace - or about a terrible secret that lies hidden far away...
5/5 Stars
This one is my new all time favorite YA book! I was looking for something unique with a magical feel and this one surpassed all expectations. It was suspenseful, romantic, and emotional. It's a story with a paranormal presence and a royal feel. The Heroine is a bada$$ and Po is the book boyfriend of my dreams.
I really can't say much about this story without spoiling key points, but I will say this... It's a story of survival. The gracelings are graced with special abilities and some are not always favored by others. Katsa, the lead female is graced with a very unique ability. She is feared by many and even looks down on herself at times. When her and Po pair up, her eyes are opened to how truly blessed she is. At first they don't care for one another, but feelings quickly form and an unbreakable connection links the two together.
It's an epic romance in my eyes and I never expected the twist near the end. I am looking forward to reading the others in the series & highly recommend this one to all readers!

Tatiana & Alexander by Paullina Simons

Tatiana is eighteen years old, pregnant, and widowed when she escapes war-torn Leningrad to find a new life in America. But the ghosts of her past do not rest easily. She becomes consumed by the belief that her husband, Red Army officer Alexander Belov, is still alive and needs her desperately.

Meanwhile, oceans and continents away in the Soviet Union, Alexander barely escapes execution, and is forced to lead a battalion of soldiers considered expendable by the Soviet high command. Yet Alexander is determined to take his men through the ruins of Europe in one last desperate bid to escape Stalin's death machine and somehow find his way to Tatiana once again.
4/5 Stars

Let me start by saying The Bronze Horseman is my all time favorite romance... There is no book that compares and because of these strong feelings, I've put off reading the rest of the series. I was afraid that the others would fall flat in comparison and well... this one was really good, but not nearly as epic as book one. I think because the book was so different with switching povs and different settings, it brought a whole new feel. It was still an excellent read, but I was hoping for more romance. We get a lot of emotion and a lot of war scenes, but Tatiana and Alexander were apart until the last 100 pages.

I really loved Tatiana's parts and I think it's important that we got to experience what Alexander had to deal with, but in all honesty... Less war would have been more appealing for me. I liked the suspense and twists and turns, I just felt like there was a lot of filler information that took away the epic romance feel that book one had. Towards the end I started to feel more compelled by the story and when they finally reunited my heart about burst. I just wanted those feelings earlier in the book...
Of course I must read book three now because they are together once again. I can't wait to see what the future holds for them!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The Affair by Beth Kery Review

Available for the first time as a complete novel—the serial from the New York Times bestselling author that explores the dynamics of power and sex between two people who set the rules of desire…only to shatter them.
When unconventional hospice nurse Emma Shore secured a new position at the Breakers, the sprawling mansion of enigmatic and dangerously handsome racecar billionaire Michael Montand, she had no idea how soon she’d be drawn into his darker sexual games—or that it would be her own fantasies that would hold her captive.

Michael knew he shouldn’t have engaged such an innocent woman to share in his desires. But strong sexual appetites and selfishness run in his blood.

From Michael’s luxurious lakeside home to the sun-drenched, sensual shores of the French Riviera, Emma submits again and again to his intoxicating power. But she knows there is only one way to protect her heart.

The affair will continue, but under her conditions: Only she can end it, and when it’s over, they will part and never speak again of the things they dared to do behind locked doors.
**Thank you Berkley for the ARC**

This was my first read by Beth Kery and I was pleasantly surprised. While it was an erotic book, there was just enough depth in the plot to dilute some of the sexy and give it that complete story feel.
It was definitely not your cliché erotic read. It had your typical sexy scenes that at times felt redundant, but there was always a twist or turn to keep you guessing. I was invested in the romance and fell hard for Vanni. 

"It was nearly impossible to focus on her future pain when she was in the intoxicating clutches of falling in love."
Emma is a hospice nurse and Vanni is a billionaire. Both know death all too well and both let their pasts effect their present. Until they meet face to face, love is overlooked. When they are forced together in a professional setting, an intense sexual attraction is formed and they quickly find themselves desperate for one another. Emma wants to guard her heart though, so when he asks for more, she only agrees to a 5 week affair. After that she can choose to stay or walk away. As time passes, the romance grows fast and both feel as though they are in over their heads. Together they indulge in expensive gifts, bdsm sex, & a luxurious vacation to France. Emotions run deep and they become quite reliant on one another. Their relationship is push and pull and as secrets are revealed, their love is put to the test.
I devoured this book in just two sittings. The writing was on point and the flow was fast paced. I found myself sucked into the story and drawn to the characters. I think what made this book so good was the setting development. I felt like I was sipping on expensive wine, sitting seaside, reading this elegant story that was packed with secrets. It was really easy to picture the places the characters went and to feel the emotion pouring from the pages. I'm not a huge fan of erotica, but this one worked for me. I definitely recommend it to all readers that love European billionaires and a-whole-lotta sexy.