Always and Forever, Lara Jean (To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before #3) by Jenny Han

You can find the reviews of the previous two books:

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before
P.S. I Still Love You

Always and Forever, Lara Jean
(To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before #3)
by: Jenny Han

Always and Forever, Lara Jean

Lara Jean is having the best senior year a girl could ever hope for. She is head over heels in love with her boyfriend, Peter; her dad’s finally getting remarried to their next door neighbor, Ms. Rothschild; and Margot’s coming home for the summer just in time for the wedding. But change is looming on the horizon. And while Lara Jean is having fun and keeping busy helping plan her father’s wedding, she can’t ignore the big life decisions she has to make. Most pressingly, where she wants to go to college and what that means for her relationship with Peter. She watched her sister Margot go through these growing pains. Now Lara Jean’s the one who’ll be graduating high school and leaving for college and leaving her family—and possibly the boy she loves—behind.

When your heart and your head are saying two different things, which one should you listen to? – Goodreads

There’s something so grounded about To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before book series. Whether its about popularity or finding your place, dealing with family pains or facing your feelings or trusting your heart. On top of the teenage woes that are very much relatable or reminiscent, the array of characters are wonderfully well-written, especially our two main characters, Lara Jean and Peter. These love birds have gone through high school at this point and they are at the point where the next big stage in life is here and its a decision to choose to be together and how to do it so that both sides can face their own fears but still hold on to what matters to them and taking the leap of faith. College (or as I call it university in Canada) is a huge step which does have all these realistic ideas that insecurity comes into play and uncertainty also comes along as well making decisions that are true to what you like and accepting the disappointment of rejection and the joys of new doors opening. All this is so well-portrayed in Always and Forever, Lara Jean.

Jenny Han sculpts these two fantastic characters but also all the supporting ones are equally as engaging to read because the stories are not about just teen romance but also embodies a lot of other factors that create these characters including family and other factors. While this story does follow quite the expected storyline of love and loss, big decisions and disappointments that I mentioned before, it somehow feels even more grounded than its previous two stories and that is because through the last two books we’ve bonded with Lara Jean and suddenly these events she goes through feels very real as well. Its the beauty of reading really well-executed books that make them both incredibly fun to read but also have its fair share of heartbreak and heartwrenching decisions and the uncertainty of whether some decisions are worth it while other characters also end up getting this bigger part of their goals and motives that change the dynamic of the situation.

Always and Forever, Lara Jean is a really  great read. Its probably not as engaging as the first book but this one is much more grounded in a very real teenage situation and growing up and being able to making these tough choices. This trilogy has been solid through and through, bring alive some wonderfully colorful characters with still a decent amount of room for development and depth.

The books are now done

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Blog Tour: Ginger Snapped by Chloe Sunstone (Excerpt & Giveaway)

Ginger Snapped Blog Tour

Ginger Snapped: A Cybercrime Thriller with a Shocking Twist
by: Chloe Sunstone

Ginger Snapped

Publication Date: October 22nd, 2018
Genre: Thriller

SYNOPSIS

How does an amazing professional opportunity descend into a living nightmare?

Carefree Ginger’s motto of “Work Hard, Play Harder” shapes her life. So when her husband, Jake, gets a job offer on the other side of the country, she is up for the adventure.

But after Jake accepts the promotion, nothing is as expected. While Ginger remains in Cleveland to sell their house, she is plagued by strange prank calls, premonition-like nightmares, and the feeling that she is being watched. Is Jake’s new job putting her in danger?

Unfortunately, she ignores her intuition and soon finds herself face to face with a ruthless killer. Trapped in a deadly world of corporate corruption and murderous greed, she must overcome her own fears and rely on her wits if she plans to survive.

Although the first in the Ginger Gibson series, this is a standalone book.

Goodreads

Purchase Links

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Amazon CA
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EXCERPT

Oh No! I’m back. I am surrounded by inky black nothingness. The air is musty…damp, my nostrils fill with the smell of dank basement. Like in a haunted house, filled with saws and chains and bloody hooks, this is the perfect place for any psycho to hide his tools of the crazy trade. I’m trembling, from the all-encompassing fear, eating at every cell in my body. Where am I? My fingers search out for clues. Beneath me is a thin mattress on a hard surface. My head rests on a concrete-like pillow. My breathing escalates as the panic rises in my chest. I open my mouth to scream, but only a muted croak escapes. Over the thunder of my pounding heart, I hear a booming crack, a gunshot. I recognize the sound from a trip to the range with Jake years earlier.

I swing my legs over the side of my perch, thinking in my blind panic to run even though I cannot see. I can’t ignore this intense urge to flee. But my impulse is thwarted by an unknown restraint trapping my left arm, a rope? Panic has me in its grip. I gasp for air to fill my lungs but produce only whimpers and muted pleas.

A loud screech reverberates through the darkness. Rats? Oh, please, no rats! Could this get any worse? Hysterical, I yank relentlessly on the rope tethering me. With each tug, the line cuts deeper into my skin. My arm warms as blood seeps from the gouges, coating my hand and fingers. Behind me, the pounding sound of footsteps startles me. Before I can turn to confront my visitor, I feel the rush of air preceding the impact to the back of my head. A blaze of bright stars then, a different blackness envelopes me.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Chloe Sunstone

After over twenty years in Human Resources, Chloe decided to make a change. She returned to her first love of writing. She combined her corporate experience with her love for the written word to create engaging cyber-crime thrillers.

On a personal note, Chloe lives in Cleveland, Ohio with her loving husband, Mike. They spend their free time boating, scuba diving, and of course, reading. Her latest cybercrime mystery, Ginger Snapped, is available on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1732013608

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GIVEAWAY

Giveaway: Signed Print Copy of Ginger Snapped (North America Only). Sign up HERE.

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Blog Tour: To Dream the Blackbane by Richard J. O’Brien (Excerpt & Giveaway)

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To Dream the Blackbane
By: Richard J. O’Brien

tdtb book cover

Publication Date: December 29th, 2018
Genre: Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

SYNOPSIS

A cosmic event in 2015 fused Earth with the faerie realm. Scientists referred to the event as The Anomaly. A byproduct of The Anomaly was the advent of hybrid beings—people who became mixed with whatever animal or object was closest to them the moment the event occurred. Humans, or pedigrees, soon relegated fairy refugees and hybrids into ghetto zones in large cities.

Seventy years later, Wolfgang Rex, a second-generation hybrid—part human, part Rhodesian Ridgeback—is a retired police detective who runs a private investigation business in Chicago’s Southside. It’s a one-hybrid show; though Rex couldn’t survive without his assistant, the faerie Sally Sandweb.

One night, two vampires visit Rex and offer him a substantial reward for the recovery of a stolen scroll. Later that same evening, Charlotte Sweeney-Jarhadill, a pedigree woman from Louisiana, visits Rex and hires him to exorcize the headless ghost of a Confederate soldier from her home.

To complicate matters, the private detective ends up falling for Charlotte. Meanwhile, the vampires demand results in the search for the missing scroll. When Rex’s assistant Sally goes missing, he must stay alive long enough to find her. Charlotte and the vampires, however, have other plans for Rex.

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EXCERPT

My name is Wolfgang Rex. I am a private detective. Once upon a time I’d been a police lieutenant. After twenty-five years of service to the city of Chicago, I retired in 2063 and opened up Chi-town Detectives, a private investigation firm.

I’m what they call in the medical books a second-generation Anomalous cross-breed. My father was a cop like me. One night he was out walking his dog, a Rhodesian Ridgeback named Rex. My mother hated that dog. After she died I learned that she had always wished that Rex would meet some unfortunate demise. She got her wish on the night of The Anomaly. My father came home from his walk without the dog—in a manner of speaking. For lack of a better term, he and the dog had fused. And the result was a humanoid—with a hairy body, a tail, and the head of his old dog Rex. My mother was horrified, but my parents were both Catholic. So they stuck it out. I was born in the tenth year of The Anomaly. When I was a kid, my mother used to read me fairy tales. She died before I finished high school. So it goes, like Kurt Vonnegut once wrote. I turned out to be the spitting image of my father post-Anomaly. I lucked out with being born without a tail. My father had somehow managed to keep his human vocal cords. My face was less hairy than his, but our snouts were nearly identical.

Learning to speak with a dog’s mouth was tricky when I was coming up, but I eventually got the hang of it. And thank Christ I’d been born with opposable thumbs; otherwise, I would’ve starved to death a long time ago. Still, given that many people melded with inanimate objects—much like that poor bastard who became a stone gargoyle—I constantly considered myself lucky. My father cursed his lot for the rest of his life. Some people, like my old man, never learned to adjust.

Available on Amazon

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

author pic

Richard J. O’Brien is a graduate of the Fairleigh Dickinson University MFA in Creative Writing Program. Richard’s novels include Under the Bronze Moon, Infestation, and The Garden of Fragile Things. His short stories have appeared in The Del Sol Review, Duende, Pulp Literature, The Dr. T.J. Eckleburg Review, Weirdbook, and other magazines. Richard lives in New Jersey, where he teaches at Rowan College at Gloucester County and Stockton University.

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GIVEAWAY

International Giveaway: For your chance to win 1of 2 digital copies of To Dream the Blackbane, click on the link below!

North America Only: Win 1 of 2 print copies of To Dream the Blackbane, click the link below!

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/0e7c6a8f55/?

TOUR SCHEDULE

Jan 7th

Reads & Reels (Excerpt) http://www.readsandreels.com
Life at 17 (Review) https://lifeat17.wordpress.com/
Tranquil Dreams (Excerpt) https://klling.wordpress.com/
The Invisible Moth (Review) https://daleydowning.wordpress.com/

Jan. 8th

On the Shelf Book Reviews (Excerpt) https://ontheshelfreviews.wordpress.com
Jessica Rachow (Review) http://jessicarachow.wordpress.com
Your Books, My Reviews (Review) https://yourbooksmyreview.wordpress.com

Jan. 9th

I Smell Sheep (Excerpt) http://www.ismellsheep.com/
The Voluptuous Book Diva (Excerpt) http://www.thevoluptuousbookdiva.com/
Rockabilly Spoonie (Interview) https://lauramorningstar.com
Splashes into Books (Excerpt) https://splashesintobooks.wordpress.com/

Jan. 10th

Anthony Avina (Excerpt) http://www.authoranthonyavinablog.com
The Bookworm Drinketh (Review) http://thebookwormdrinketh.wordpress.com/
The Return Cart (Review) http://thereturncart.com/
Didi Oviatt (Excerpt) https://didioviatt.wordpress.com

Jan 11th

Reading Nook (Excerpt) http://readingnook84.wordpress.com
Cats Love Coffee Book Reviews (Review) https://catsluvcoffeez.blogspot.com
J. Bronder Book Reviews (Review) https://jbronderbookreviews.com/
Sammie Reads (Review) https://sammiereadsbook.wordpress.com

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Christmas 2018: A Kiss For Christmas by Melody Grace

A Kiss For Christmas: A Holiday Collection
by: Melody Grace

A Kiss For Christmas

In Holiday Kisses… Writer Dash needs peace and quiet to finish his new script, but he wasn’t betting on inn-keeper Ellie and the local Starbright festival to give him a jolt of holiday inspiration.

In Unexpectedly Yours… Sophie has been dreaming of a magical winter holiday in New York City. Can a chance encounter with musician Austin bring her festive dreams to life?

In Unwrapped… When a unlikely couple gets snowed in on the way to the wedding, a flirty game of truth-or-dare sends temperatures soaring. – Goodreads

A Kiss For Christmas are three novellas set during the holidays and bring two unlikely people together in whichever scenario describe above. Technically, that is alright. It is usually how these sort of contemporary fictions work and they can be really predictable. Which don’t get me wrong, these three are very predictable. My deal is that I’ve never seen anything more formulaic in my life. When something falls into formula too much: disagreement or conflict or some sort of mismatch feeling in the beginning, a hidden physical attraction to each other, a situation that brings them together, some fun sexy bed time, a misunderstanding and then happily ever after. I’m serious, each of these three are structured that way just wrapped up in their different world of one of the series that Melody Grace has created. For people who like this sort of thing, I’m sure it works absolutely. For myself, too much structure and formula really does feel insulting to my intelligence and in turn it gets boring.

I’m not going to look at each of these one by one because there really isn’t’ that much difference to it. The only difference is that the level of hotness of each is supposed to increase from one to the next. I don’t argue that Melody Grace has a knack for writing out these fairly drawn out sexy moments. It is one of the better structured ones. I just have grown out of stories like this where you have two incredibly beautiful people who get attracted to each other physically and then spend time together for like one night and feel they are soulmates then after one night of sexy fun, they believe they are meant to be forever. I’m a romantic but even that seems a tad too much to take in.

However, looking past the romance which is about 85% of this novel, it does deliver on a lot of holiday moments. The first story Holiday Kisses sets itself in a town that probably seems to be inspired by Stars Hollow from Gilmore Girls and the Starbright Festival and all the little Christmas gestures here are rather sweet. The second Unexpectedly Yours is set in New York and brings in a lot of the Serendipity inspired activities: snow, ice skating, etc. The last one Unwrapped takes a snowed in situation at the airport at a hotel so it has the least Christmas elements here.

Thank goodness I got this one for free. That is all that I have to say. I would be even more frustrated with A Kiss For Christmas if it wasn’t. But I’m cheap and only grab free stuff on wherever I got this one from which I can’t remember. I’m not the audience for something like this It is the official last book of this contemporary romance that I am reading for a good while (at least a year if not more). Next year will be something moving in another direction and might not even have any straight romance stuff and nothing with sex scenes probably. I can’t know those things in advance so I’m done with this genre for a while.

Book Blitz: In Servitude by Heleen Kist (Excerpt & Giveaway)

in servitude book blitz

In Servitude
by: Heleen Kist

In Servitude

Publication Date: August 23, 2018
Publisher: Pollok Glen Publishing (self-published)
Pages: 338

Recently voted Top 50 Best Indie of 2018 on Read Free.ly

SYNOPSIS

Do you owe your family your life?

Grace thought her sister led a charmed existence.

She was wrong.

Now she has to pay the price.

When Grace’s beloved sister Glory dies in a car crash, her carefully planned life spirals out of control. She discovers Glory had been manipulated into illegal activities at her trendy vegan café. What’s worse, Grace finds herself an unwitting accomplice now forced to take over her sister’s shady dealings.

Determined to keep her fingers clean and protect those Glory left behind, Grace plots to escape the clutches of Glasgow’s criminal underworld. But her moral certainty is challenged when more family secrets emerge and her sister’s past intentions remain unclear.

Grace grows convinced Glory was murdered. Why won’t anyone listen?

Seeking justice, she finds betrayal…

Goodreads

For a limited time, you can purchase In Servitude on Amazon (everywhere) for only $2.99!
Paperback also availabe at Barnes & Noble and other outlets.

EXCERPT

Blue pulled at the lead. I let him off once I’d scanned the area and noted no loose dogs. Only a lone figure loitering. His eye line crossed mine as he also examined the park, and paused on me long enough to raise a creepy sensation.

I moved to a bench by the play park and pretended to tie my laces. When I straightened up, the man was striding straight towards me. I searched for Blue, hoping for a semblance of protection, but he was nowhere to be seen. Nor was anyone else.

Before I could stop him, the man sat down next to me. He whistled and shouted, ‘Here boy!’ then faced me with a disturbing grin. As if he knew the dog wouldn’t come. I jumped to my feet and looked around. What had he done?

On the second blow of silent air through my dry mouth, Blue appeared from behind a tree thirty yard away. Safe. He showed no interest in me or the man, instead sniffing out the ground’s many treasures.

I turned back to the intruder. Standing over him gave me an edge—at least I thought it did—and I raised my chin and my voice when I asked, ‘Do I know you?’

He chuckled. ‘Nah, hen. I’m only the messenger.’

‘What?’

His smile faded. ‘We’re not very happy about you closing the café for so long. You need to open up again. There’s a delivery coming on Thursday.’

‘What do you mean? How do you—’

His eyes turned to ice as he grabbed my wrist in a flash. ‘We’ll be very disappointed if you’re not there to receive the goods. Ken what I’m saying?’

He rushed off, his dark coat billowing behind him like a cape, almost engulfing Blue who circled his legs, tail wagging, until he turned towards the road.

About the Author

heleen kist

Heleen Kist is a Dutch businesswoman who lived all over the world while growing up and for her career. Then she fell in love with a Scotsman and his country, and now writes about its (sometimes scary) people from her garden office in Glasgow.

She was selected as an ‘up and coming new writer’ and awarded a Spotlight at Bloody Scotland 2018, the International crime writing festival.

Her debut psychological suspense novel ‘In Servitude’ was inspired by Heleen’s expertise in small business finance mixed with her friend’s courageous idea to open a vegan cafe in a city renowned for its dubious diet. She is currently working on her next book, which will be dark women’s fiction.

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Media Contact: hk@heleenkist.com

GIVEAWAY

2 paperback copies of In Servitude by Heleen Kist are up for grabs!!!

Winners will be selected at random on 23 December and notified personally, only your initials will be used in the winner’s announcement.

Mailchimp Link: https://heleenkist.us17.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=98b133908f834869324ff86ea&id=d94bfdbfe6

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Christmas 2018: Mooseletoe by Tiffinie Helmer

Mooseletoe
by: Tiffinie Helmer

Mooseletoe

Alaska’s matchmaking moose, Bullwinkle, has his sights set on a most unlikely pair. Holly Noelle Snow loves Christmas so much she could be one of Santa’s elves, and Reese Sutton might as well be Scrooge. But there is no way BW will allow these two to ruin his perfect track record. Even if he has to bind them together with Christmas lights. – Goodreads

It is always a struggle to find holiday books and Mooseletoe fits a lot into the movie selections that I have made this holiday season. Its contemporary romance set during Christmas in Alaska in a town with a Christmas-y name and a story revolving a lady with a Christmas-y name. We soon learn why but it couldn’t be more in your face. Suffice to say, there are quite a few holiday elements and that works. The matchmaking moose also works. I realized that this moose is part of other books by Tiffinie Helmer which I haven’t read before or even heard of and responsible for other couple pairings that are in this town. I have nothing against it. Its a decent idea plus I like moose and how it should be used more in winter settings.

My main issue with Mooseletoe is very much the fact that it hits a lot of aspects I find wrong with these contemporary romance books. One of them is the dialogue. Its a tad cringey at times and the ways certain descriptions are written were equally odd. There is this thing about writing contemporary romance that really needs to be read out loud before finalizing because it never feels like I am reading a real couple (or maybe I just don’t talk like that).

Then we have this sped up romance that sometimes works but in this case, it also falls into this frustrating situation and the love at first sight but not embracing it thing and these meaningless arguments. Its a bit too much for me. There are some intimate scenes and it was okay written and I am rather indifferent to it. However, my main issue is the personality characteristics of the main couple, Holly and Reese where it feels very contradicting in parts in what happens before and after.

To be fair, Mooseletoe did bring in a family element. That part was a nice twist and surprise to the story. I enjoyed having those bits because even if you move alone to Alaska, real life is more than romance (no matter how much of a romantic I can be). On that same note, the moral of ths story behind this pairing is a positive message about having courage to push through the bad and see the good to be happier sort of thing. And to not let the bad define you. All very good messages just its not in a very fun read for myself. Overall, a few good ideas, but the writing style is not for me.

***On a side note, I am starting to think contemporary romance is something I need to stay away from for a while. Its the contemporary genre that really gets me very irritated.***

Archie, Vol. 5 by Mark Waid

Check out the reviews for the previous volumes below:

Archie Vol.1
Archie Vol.2
Archie Vol.3
Archie Vol.4

Archie, Vol. 5
by: Mark Waid & Audrey Mok (Illustrator)

Archie Vol.5

The fallout from OVER THE EDGE is here! One life has been destroyed, another family has been torn apart–and only the kids of Riverdale High can save their town from imploding! – Goodreads

Volume 4 ended with quite the bomb as we realize that Betty has lost the feeling in her legs after the accident. A honest tragic turn in events and a particularly darker moment because Betty is one of the nice girl next door characters and while enduring losing her best friend and having that whole breakup situation, she has lost even more now.

Volume 5 takes a dramatic turn of events. Its not so much comedic in this one even if it tries to inject some moments with the Classic Archie screw-ups and Jughead intervening with Betty’s parents at one point with his clever ways. However, at some point it felt like it was meant to go in this direction and that change of pace continuing from the previous volume really helped continue making this even more thrilling because we can see Betty’s strength and also see Betty and Archie face their feelings between them and have to make some choices. In that sense, all the characters are developing and growing with this one big event that happened. Its a heartbreaking experience but also one that sees her parents putting in extra effort to protect her. It also throws everyone’s life off balance but also appreciate the good that we the readers don’t see especially when the characters take up all the work that Betty is involved in Riverdale.

I’ve always been a fan of Betty because she is a beautiful girl next door that kind of never really follows the norm of how girls are and its especially true with this revamped version. As much as I loved the original Archie Comics, I only read a few volumes in the ton that has been released so its hard to be fully aware of how she was. This modernized Archie Comics makes Betty in a character that I love even more so this volume really hit me a hard especially as she struggles to be positive through this situation. Its nice to see the shift in tone as well in these versions which gives a good focus on each of these characters and giving them their own spotlight. I gave this one full points for being brave enough to take these daring paths into darker and more serious territory while giving the characters a lot of room to develop as they go through their different situations as well as bringing forward some of the more supporting characters and giving them their own story highlight as well. I loved this volume a lot!

Goodreads: 5/5