Review: You & Me Forever by Megan Linski, T. Ariyanna, Cindy Ray Hale, Pamita Rao, Amy Reece, Audrey Rich, Constance Roberts and Yesenia Vargas

A Sweet Romance Collection

 

Title: You & Me Forever

Subtitle: A Sweet Romance Collection

Authors: Megan Linski, T. Ariyanna, Cindy Ray Hale, Pamita Rao, Amy Reece, Audrey Rich, Constance Roberts and Yesenia Vargas

Genre: Short Stories, Contemporary Romance, Young Adult, New Adult

Year of Publication: 2017

Published by: Gryfyn Publishing

Rating: 3/5 stars

Note: I purchased this book as a freebie. However, this aspect didn’t influence the review I wrote or the rating I gave this book.  In this review, you will find only my honest thoughts and opinions about the book I’ve read!

You & Me Forever: A Sweet Romance Collection  written by Megan Linski, T. Ariyanna, Cindy Ray Hale, Pamita Rao, Amy Reece, Audrey Rich, Constance Roberts and Yesenia Vargas is a young adult (and sometimes new adult) romance collection comprising eight short stories and a novella ranging “from thrilling, to dark, to emotional, to wholesome.” (Loc. 71) The stories are arranged in alphabetical order by the author’s last name and they are written both by best-selling and first-time writers.I only read Pamita Rao’s Gates of Heaven which was a nice book, so, when I saw this anthology, I was really curious to see what it was all about. Also, this is one of the fewest new releases of this year that I read.

In Check Mate by T. Ariyanna (3.5 stars), Liz heard that a foster child has run off from the correction facility he lived in. When the assailant tries to hold her hostage after he crept into her room, Liz uses her self-defensive skills she has learned to free herself. Why has Rook run away from the facility? Will Liz give in and fall for the beautiful stranger? I liked Liz’s courage and composure in such a tensed situation and I’m sure that it suits her to become a cop like her father. The main theme of this short story is domestic abuse.

In It Was You by Cindy Ray Hale (3.5 stars), Aleyna McKenzie’s dream is to become an actress, but she only finds small roles as an extra, which help her pay the bills, but nothing more. However, her life is about to change when handsome actor Carson Peters comes into her life, befriends her and helps her understand how the film industry really works. This new adult short story, which looked more like a novelette, was very enjoyable because you can see how hard life is for aspiring actors to break the ice or receive an offer for a major role. I also enjoyed the romance because it was low-burning and realistic and I liked the contemporary elements found in this story: Aleyna loves social media and she has her own YouTube channel. The theme of the story is: follow your dreams no matter what and persevere even when things are tough.

In Taken Away by Megan Linski (3 stars), Rosemary McGowan and Noah Cash come from broken families, but that doesn’t mean they can’t become friends or even fall in love. “We both long to be free in a way that we never can be, free of our obligations from our overbearing parents and able to go out on our own into the world. If it was truly up to us we would take his bike and leave, drive to the beach somewhere and leave the old world behind us.” (Loc. 1828) Rosemary loves spending time outside in the open, while Noah is the bad boy who loves riding his motorcycle. One night, after returning from work, Rosemary is kidnapped by someone pretty familiar to her, but Nosh looks for them and he will not give up until he brings his girlfriend safely back home. What family secret will Rosemary discover? The story is a bit suspenseful and Rosemary has the courage to attempt her escape, but I also liked Noah’s determination to look for her. It’s a new adult romantic thriller story and the main themes are domestic abuse and family secrets.

In Forever Together by Pamita Rao (4 stars), Ava begins to fall in love with her best friend Liam. Should Ava follow her heart and confront Liam about their feelings or shouldn’t she ruin such a great friendship? I will let you discover how Ava will find the truth. It’s a cute young adult contemporary romance that will remind you of your first love, the sweetness and the anxiety that comes along with it. I know that it’s a predictable story, but I enjoyed it because it made me feel like a teenager again.

In A Thousand Stats by Amy Reece (3.5 stars), Charles Maddox is Madison Iver’s best friend since childhood. Maddie likes him, but she prefers to put him in the friend zone rather than to ruin such an old friendship. This is a young adult contemporary romance and its themes are friendship and unrequited love like in the previous story. Fortunately, this story isn’t just about falling in love with your best friend, but also about becoming aware that having a pretty face is not everything. Besides finding love, Maddie needs to focus on her future, on her career and stop being a people pleaser.

In When There’s Smoke There’s Fire by Audrey Rich (4 stars), Graziella Roberts is rescued from her burning house and brought urgently to the hospital. Daniel Stevenson, a boy from school Graziella secretly had a crush on, came to visit his brother Liam, the firefighter who saved Graziella’s life. Will this be the perfect opportunity or Graziella and Daniel to know each other better and to share their secret feelings?

In Down the Road by Constance Roberts (3 stars), Sophie and her friends are gone camping and drink a lot of booze. Rylan, Sophie’s a controlling and abusive guy, not like Blake who treats her nicely. Will Sophie have the courage to break up with the jealous jerk and give Blake a chance? It’s different from the other stories. The main themes are domestic abuse and unrequited love.

In This Is Not a Drill by Yesenia Vargas (3.5 stars), Max moved to a new school, but he felt out of place after his parents’ divorce. When a drill occurs into the school, Max and Lucy are lead to a dark classroom until the coach comes back for them. Why the school is placed on lockdown and who is the assailant threatening the institution? It’s an interesting story about family secrets.

Overall, You & Me Forever was a cute collection of stories and novellas. Though I’m not a big fan of the young adult books, I took my time to savour each story and I found something I liked pretty much in all of them. Besides, the repetition of a chapter in Cindy Ray Hale’s It Was You and a few editing errors, the stories were clean and well-written. My top three favourite stories from this anthology were It Was You by Cindy Ray Hale, in which I learned about what happens behind the scenes of a film or TV, series Forever Together by Pamita Rao, a sweet short story that made me feel nostalgic for the first time I fell in love and When There’s Smoke There’s Fire by Audrey Rich, a story about courage, survival and young love. These nine works of fiction also changed my opinion about short stories and made me crave for more in the future, stories not necessarily belonging to the young adult/ new adult genre.

Review: Poetry from The Lady of the Pier by Effrosyni Moschoudi

Title: Poetry from The Lady of the Pier

Author: Effrosyni Moschoudi

Genre: Poetry, Romance

Self-Published

Year of Publication: 2015

Rating: 4/5 stars

Note: I purchased this book as a freebie. However, this aspect didn’t influence the review I wrote or the rating I gave this book.  In this review, you will find only my honest thoughts and opinions about the book I’ve read!

Though I read the entire Lady of the Pier trilogy back to back and I consider it one of the best stories I’ve read this year, I’m going to review the Poetry from The Lady of the Pier first to give you a flavour before reviewing each of the three books. In short, this small volume comprises of ten romantic poems, an excerpt from The Ebb and a bonus short story set in Sifnos Island.

Even though you can read the poems without picking up the trilogy, I think that they make more sense after discovering Laura and Sofia’s story. Because this is a poetry collection, I cannot review it in detail, but I can give you a sneak peek into the novel to make you understand the context in which these poems were written. In short, this paranormal romance revolves around two women coming from different time periods and different countries: Sophia lives in Greece in the late 80s while Laura lives in Brighton (UK) in the late 30s. One night after meeting a cheeky Brit named Danny, Sophia is visited in her dreams by a mysterious lady dressed in black who stands on a pier and recites verses. The poems Sophia hears in her sleep are linked to the important events in the woman’s life and the feelings these poems will stir inside you range from happiness and joy, to sadness, nostalgia, regret and despair; while the main themes are (lost) love and death.

In An Old Promise. Joanna, a posh  American widow travels to Sifnos after many years because there’s an old promise she has to keep. The first time she went to this majestic Greek island, Joanna was twenty-one and she fell in love with a young man, but they lost touch with each other and carried on with their lives. Will Joanna’s trip to Sifnos help her relive or mend the past she was so fond of? This s a story about memories, love and a second chance at happiness. The writing is good, the depictions of Athens and Sifnos are vivid and, if the poems from the fist part of the book broke your heart and made you feel emotional, this story will mend it and warm it with its beauty and an ending filled with hope. This story is also a metaphorical love letter to Greece, its beauty and the magic it casts upon those who visit and fall in love with it. The only two complaints I have with this short story are the fact that the story was a bit too sugary and that Costas was too emotional and a bit unrealistic as a male character.

Those were my thought on this short volume. Stay tuned for more reviews and other bookish content! I post new articles every Wednesday and Friday. Until then, happy reading everyone!

 

Review: Enchanted by K.K. Allen

Book 1 of The Summer Solstice

 

Title: Enchanted

Author: K.K. Allen

Genre: Contemporary, Fantasy, Young Adult

First Published in 2014

Self-Published

Series: The Summer Solstice

Rating: 5/5 stars

Note: I purchased this book as a freebie. However, this aspect didn’t influence the review I wrote or the rating I gave this book.  In this review, you will find only my honest thoughts and opinions about the book I’ve read!

I don’t know about you, but one of my favourite themes is family secrets and boy what a life-changing secret the protagonist is about to discover in the book I’m going to review today! Enchanted is the first instalment in K.K. Allen’s Young Adult Contemporary Fantasy trilogy entitled The Summer Solstice. In this novel, we follow Katrina Summer’s story, a teenage girl who is unaware of the special bloodline she comes from for almost sixteen years. After her mother’s unexpected death, Kat moves to Apollo Beach, Florida, to live with her estranged grandmother Rose, she has never met before, a respectable yet mysterious lady, who acts cold towards her at first, but things will change as they get accustomed to each other. As Kat’s sixteenth birthday approaches, she experiences strange visions and vivid nightmares whose hidden messages she’s unable to grasp.

At first, Katrina is an insecure teenager and she feels a little awkward in the wealthy neighbourhood she moves in because she used to live a modest life in a bubble her overprotective mother built for her in order to hide the truth from her. Kat was also in foster care for a while and she went to public school, but she was laughed at and considered a weirdo. As time goes by in Apollo Beach, Kat befriends Alec Stone, the cute boy next door who helps her adapt to her new life, but she can’t tell him anything about her visions or her secret powers because it would reveal the true identity of the inhabitants of the community. Encouraged by Rose and her friend Charlotte, Kat learns about the family history of The Summers and she’s trained to control her powers. Of course, like any teenager, Kat makes some mistakes that almost cost her life and her visions and nightmares gradually come to fruition like horrible prophecies or trials she must go through in order to show her ability to right the wrong and to become a better person. Kat will also meet a lot of outlandish people through her wealthy grandmother, who is an important figure in the community and most people admire her for her involvement in keeping the town healthy and safe. Kat basically enters into a period of transition from the quiet and uneventful life she has lived with her mother, to the one that leads to her life-purpose: “there is a circle of life before you and it all begins on the day of your sixteenth birthday.” (Loc. 999)

I know that this review is a bit vague, but you need to discover the book at your own pace and I assure you that you won’t regret a single second that you have read it. However, all I can say is that reading about the stories and legends Grandma Rose told Katrina gave me chills down my spine. To a certain point, I felt confused and my head was full of information which is actually a good thing because I felt that the author did her research well. Though Kat considers her grandmother to be a bit insane when the woman talks about the special powers her granddaughter has inherited from her ancestors, in the end, all makes sense and the only thing Kat has to do is learn to master elemental magic and accept her new identity.

The writing is beautiful, visual and full of colour while the story is suspenseful and a real page-turner that doesn’t let you put the book or your reading device down. The characters are well fleshed out, the situations are realistic with the exception of the visions and nightmares that torment Kat, which make your heart skip a beat; Kat and Alec’s relationship is sweet (not excessive like in other books) and you root for them and, you cannot help yourself but love Grandma Rose even when she is stern with Kat. Charlotte is also a lovable character, even more than Rose, because of her kind and affectionate nature that makes me think she is a mother figure to Kat.

In short, the experience I had with his book was amazing and besides a few editing slips, I don’t have anything bad to say about it. The parts about magic and the stories about The Summers’ family history and Kat’s ancestors are truly fascinating and I had to pause for a minute or two to take it all in. The descriptions of Apollo Beach and Tampa Bay were so vivid that I was transported there through K.K. Allen’s writing. I highly recommend this young adult contemporary fantasy novel to anyone who loves elemental magic, myths and family secrets. There are still some unanswered questions and some fresh ones at the end of this first instalment, but there are two more books to satisfy one’s curiosity. I would really like to pick them up somewhere in the near future.

Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag

I actually had a book review planned for this Friday, but I changed my mind because June and July are two crazy months for me, so I opted again for a book tag which suits this time of the year. Plus, I’m always happy to talk about the current state of my TBR pile.

The Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag was created by two booktubers (Chami and Ety) and it comprises of fourteen questions, mostly regarding the books you read in the first half of the year. I read twenty-six books until now including the dnf-ed ones, so I think that I have enough material to answer properly to each and every question.

1. Best book you’ve read so far in 2017.

This year I wanted to read all the first instalments in the series I own because I plan to continue only the series or trilogies I’ve found unique and enjoyable to explore further on. For the best book I’ve read until now I choose The Essential Book Blog by Ken J. Howe, Saul Tanpepper, Michael Guerini and Cheryl L. Seaton, which is an easy yet informative guide for each new book blogger or newbie author and it teaches you anything from how to build your own blog, what your review should include, how to get traffic on your blog, how to get books and even how to earn money through your blog. Personally, I can’t wait to review this blogging guide and reread some of the sections in order to apply them to my blog.

2. Best sequel you’ve read so far in 2017.

 

At the beginning of this year, I promised myself that I will not be as generous as I used to be with the 5-star ratings and by far, there are just three books that had the wow factor I was looking for. The first 5-star sequel I rated in 2017 is Escape from Sudan, the 9th book in Mike WellsLust, Money & Murder series because I was on pins and needles while reading this book. It really was a roller-coaster of emotions for me and Elaine’s (almost impossible) mission through such a war-torn and dangerous country made my adrenaline levels increase.

3. New release you haven’t read yet, but want to.

I’m not very interested in new releases for now because I have a lot of unread books sitting and collecting dust on my shelves and many eBooks on my Kindle too; so I prefer to stick to those.

4. Most anticipated release for the second half of the year.

I read Mike Wells’ blurb for Panacea, the 11th book in the Lust, Money & Murder series, which is set in Ukraine and the book, is going to be released in September. This is the only sequel I’m excited to devour.

5.  Biggest disappointment.

 

Well, I have a few disappointments and dislikes reflected on my ratings and on my dnf-ed shelf, but the biggest one came from an author I haven’t read before. I’m sorry for the repetition, but I was extremely disappointed by Isabel Allende’s Zorro. How can a book about California’s famous bandit be so boring with so many info-dumps, lifeless characters and no hook? I loved the fact that Diego is mixed-race, but besides that, his friendship with Bernardo and how his father met his mother, I didn’t find anything of interest in the chapters I read.

6. Biggest surprise.

 

The biggest surprise was The Rocker Who Holds Me by Terri Anne Browning, a book which didn’t deal only with the dissolute lives of rock stars, but also with abuse, heartache and lack of communication. I really love it and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys rock star romances.

7. Favourite new author. (Debut or new to you)

My new favourite author is K K Allen who wrote Enchanted, the first instalment in The Summer Solstice. Besides her beautiful and visual writing, I enjoyed spending my time with her well-built characters, the plot was extremely interesting and the elemental magic blew my mind along with its complexity. The ancient wisdom passed on to Katrina is a combination of Greek myths and Wiccan beliefs. For those of you who are wondering, the review is coming soon.

8. Newest fictional crush.

Nik from The Rocker Who Holds Me might be a potential fictional crush because he is talented, caring and a very hot guy, but he makes Emmie suffer a lot. On the other hand, she is afraid to talk about her feelings for him.

9. Newest favourite character.

I’m currently reading The Lady of the Pier trilogy written by Effrosyni Moschoudi and though I root for both protagonists of the two alternating stories, Sofia Aspioti is very dear to my heart, not just because she is Greek, but she is also a book nerd, a hardworking student, an animal lover and she also writes poetry. She is shy and very cautious because she is aware that everything she does might reach her strict father’s ears, an overprotective parent who forbids her to stay out late or to do anything silly. Despite the restrictions that suffocate her life, Sofia longs for freedom and adventure especially after meeting Danny, an outgoing and non-conformist British tourist whose laid back attitude makes Sofia fall for him.

10. Book that made you cry.

Though I’ve shed a tear occasionally when I read about Sofia’s kind and loving grandparents from Corfu who reminded me of my own, none of the books I’ve picked up in the first half of the year made me cry hysterically for a certain character or situation.

11. Book that made you happy.

 

It’s hard to say that one of my recent reads made me feel happy, but You & Me Forever is a collection of romantic YA and NA stories written by eight authors including Megan Linski and Pamita Rao, a book that made me feel good most of the time because the short stories range from sweet to dark and they are easy to read especially while you are travelling. I highly recommend it for the summer.

12. Most beautiful book you’ve bought so far this year (or received)

I adore the new covers for The Lady of the Pier trilogy; they are so gorgeous and suit the novels perfectly with that beautiful and mysterious woman standing on the pier.

13. What books do you need to read by the end of the year?

Besides the books mentioned above, I want to continue reading the two remaining novels from the Try a Chapter Book Tag and afterwards to flip through or even reread some classics I’ve read a few years ago, but I haven’t reviewed yet.

 14. Favourite Book Community Member

For now, I’ll give a shoutout to my best friend and awesome reviewer, Elena from eLitere.ro who has great tastes in books and movies. Check out her website and show her some love!

If you enjoyed this book tag, give it a try and leave your answers below in a comment or through a link to your blog or YouTube channel. Have an awesome weekend! See you next time!

Review: The Rocker Who Holds Me by Terri Anne Browning

 

Book 1 of The Rocker

 

Title: The Rocker Who Holds Me

Author: Terri Anne Browning

Genre: Contemporary, Romance

First Published in 2013

Self-Published

Series: The Rocker

Rating: 4/5 stars

Warning: This book contains adult themes and language!

There are a lot of romance novels out there from the sweetest to the darkest. I’ve always wanted to read a rockstar romance, but I wasn’t sure what book to pick up until I came across The Rocker Who Holds Me, the first book in The Rocker series written by USA Today bestselling author Terri Anne Browning. Though the series is pretty long, the blurb for the first book blew me away and I couldn’t resist the urge to buy it.

In short, Ember Jameson had a rough start in life because she had to endure the recurrent beating of her alcoholic mother who made her days a living hell. But luckily for Emmie, she always found refuge in Nikolas Armstrong’s trailer. He took care of her and nursed her wounds like an older brother would along with his friends and members of the rock group, named Demon’s Wings. A few years later, Emmie became part of their extended family lived in their van and took the unofficial role of the band’s tour manager, which can be Ember’s act of gratitude for those years when the guys protected her and showed her the affection she never had at home. She loved all four men like they were her family, so she mothered them, arranged interviews and even managed the dirty work from backstage. If Emmie sees Jesse, Shane and Drake as her older brothers, she harbours distinct feelings for Nik and she ends up doing something pretty silly and desperate to quench her desire for the sinfully sexy singer. To be honest, that particular scene is one of my favourite scenes in the book, but I don’t want to enter into a spoilery territory. As if it wasn’t enough to be eaten by doubts regarding Nik’s feelings for her, something else happens along the way and somehow Emmie didn’t see it coming because of her busy schedule with the band and their tours. How will she explain everything to Nik and how will the singer face the music?

All characters are morally-grey which is a sign of authenticity because this is a rockstar romance and some celebs tend to ease the pressure of fame by indulging into addictions. In this case, the rockers tend to get drunk very often and enjoy one-nightstands with groupies. Each member of the band is pretty well fleshed out and each one of them has a distinct voice and personality. For example, Drake loves booze and doesn’t like taking showers, Shane enjoys sex a lot more than his buddies, Jesse loves getting into fights because he has a bad temper and. Nik swings between caring for Emmie and making her suffer. As for Ember, she is a responsible person when it comes to her professional duties, but her desires make her act without thinking of the consequences and, later on, she regrets being selfish and taking advantage of Nik. Though Emmie is sometimes naive and unreliable, I loved her voice very much because it felt sincere and it pulled me into the story from the first page.

Nik’s voice drives the female population crazy. The huskiness mixed with gravel and seduction is a caress to that dark place between a woman’s legs. I’m nowhere near immune to it and find myself letting my desire show as I stand there watching the band preform.” (Loc.270)

By reading The Rocker Who Holds Me, we break the barriers of the stage and take a sneak peek at the tumultuous lives of the four members of Demon’s Wings through Emmie’s eyes. We witness her happy moments and breaking points which make the reader cheer for her or feel sorry. This is not a sweet romance, but a story with ups and downs, abuse, music, lust, heartbreak, jealousy, but also humour, love and hope. There’s something in this book for every romance reader interested in this subgenre. The writing is simple, seasoned with f-bombs that suit the story well, the story is very visual and easy to follow and Emmie’s voice makes you root for her from the very start.

Review. Goddess by Kelee Morris

Book 1 of Goddess

 

Title: Goddess

Author: Kelee Morris

Genre: Contemporary, Erotica, Romance

First Published> 2015

Year of Publication of this Edition: 2016

Self-Published

Series: Goddess

Rating: 3/5 stars

Warning: this book contains adult themes and language! “I was provided with a complimentary copy of this book so I could give an honest review.”

*

As well as in the case of One summer in Montmartre, I received the free copy of this book via Reading Deals. Goddess by Kelee Morris is a more daring book for me because I’ve never read erotica before and hopefully it won’t be the last one belonging to this genre.

Julia Nelson is a loving wife, caring mother of three and PTA president, who lives a pretty dull life that revolves around her children and her busy husband. Though everything seems peaceful, Julia is unhappy with her marriage, even if she is fully aware that Matt is working hard for her and for their girls. She also has an unfulfilled professional life since her family always comes first and she is unsure if anyone would still hire her (considering the fact that she is in her forties).

When Nina Hwan, a PhD student in archaeology, and Dr Ashland Stewart offer Julia a temporary job, Matt is not supportive of his wife. What Julia has to do is to go to the rare books library daily, where she must translate a 16th-century journal of a Catholic monk (Brother Ferreira), who went to Japan to convert its people to Christianity, but a terrible storm makes him stumble upon Korean shore. Dr Stewart and Nina excavated a site in North Korea, where they found the ruins of a forgotten matriarchal society named Magoa and they hoped that the translation of Brother Ferreira’s journal will reveal something about this mysterious city.

However, the most intriguing part is that Nina spots a strange tattoo Julia had on her ankle that looks like a familiar symbol she encountered at the Korean site. This tattoo first appeared many years ago in Julia’s wet dreams, where she was visited by a mysterious man, whose face she couldn’t see. This unusual symbol will let Julia enter into a small circle of archaeology students and she will meet the ruggedly handsome and intimidating Dr Ashland Stewart. He will make her rediscover her sexuality and will bring meaning to her life, but also a lot of trouble.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book, but I enjoyed most of it, especially the part about Magoa because I don’t know very much about that side of the world. The writing is good, it’s easy to read and Julia’s midlife sexual crisis is understandable to a certain point. She is a busy mum and wife, a responsible PTA president, but she wants more from life… more lust, passion, and a better job – things that only Ashland can give her.

Though I can’t say that I fully agree with everything Julia does or says, her relationship with Dr Stewart makes her more aware of her femininity, he boosts her confidence and her interest in archaeology. By meeting Dr Ashland Stewart, Julia not only enters into a private course of sexual revival and experimentation but also an intellectual circle of people interested in solving the mystery of a lost city on North Korean soil. Enjoy!

Try a Chapter Book Tag

April has been an amazing reading month for me because I read ten (short) books, but they were mixed reads from the okay-ish to the most amazing ones. On the other hand, the beginning of May wasn’t that great because I enjoyed a single book and dnf-ed or even deleted two of them. Therefore, after two failed attempts to read two confusing cosy mysteries, I found myself wondering what book I should read next. Finally, I figured out that the best way to find out what book I’m in the mood for is by trying a chapter from a few books I’m interested in. I found the Try a Chapter Book Tag on Booktube, where you pick up five or more books you are excited about, read the first chapter of each book (including the prologue), you give your opinion about what you have just read and decide what book you want to continue reading. Sounds interesting, doesn’t it? If you find yourself being in a reading slump or you just don’t know what to pick up next, feel free to give it a try. It’s actually useful, even when you want to get rid of unread books.

I cheated a bit because five books are too many for me, so I’ve picked up only four and those are:

  • You & Me Forever: A Sweet Romance Collection by Megan Linski, Pamita Rao and other six authors, which is a young adult romance anthology comprising eight short stories and a novella. I wanted to read something light and summery, so I thought that this book would do the trick.
  • The Lady of the Pier – The Ebb is the first instalment in Ms Effrosyni Moschoudi’s historical paranormal romance From this author I also read The Necklace of Goddess Athena, which is one of my favourite books set in Greece. I’m looking forward to reading this novel because I have a soft spot for Greece in general.
  • Song at Dawn: 1150 in Provence is the first instalment in a historical romantic thriller series entitled The Troubadours Quartet and it is written by Welsh author Jean Gill. This book has troubadours, romance, political intrigue and it is set in Medieval France, after the Second Crusade. Therefore, it should be something up my alley.
  • The Treasure of Gwenlais is the first instalment in M. T. Magee’s young adult epic fantasy series entitled The Rienfield Chronicles, a story inspired by Celtic folklore.

Here’s what I have to say about each chapter I’ve read:

Check Mate by T. Ariyanna is the first short story in the You & Me Forever anthology. In the first chapter, Liz and her best friend Daisy chat on the phone about a foster child who has run off from the correction facility he stayed in. Liz is the daughter of the chief of police and she is frequently asked by her classmates about certain cases, but little does she know what fate has in store for her. After the assailant sneaks into Liz’s room and tries to hold her hostage, Liz shows her self-defence skills and frees herself. I liked the way she stood her ground and didn’t feel intimidated by the strange boy who seemed to be her age. The story is suspenseful and I’m really curious to read more.

In the prologue to The Lady of the Pier – The Ebb by Effrosyni Moschoudi, Sofia recalls a strange dream she had a night before. She was standing on the pier where she worked, but the pier changed its size and it seemed like everything around her changed, a terrifying storm broke and in Sofia’s place stood a woman dressed in black who looked pretty much like her. What does this dream mean, who is that woman and why she was in pain? Meanwhile, in the first chapter, we move from 1987’s Greece to 1937’s England, where Laura Mayfield’s story takes place. Laura moves to Brighton with her ill mother, Ruth, who needed a milder climate for her weak lungs. I think this story will be a slow read, but the writing is beautiful and I enjoy reading about alternating timelines.

In Song at Dawn: 1150 in Provence by Jean Jill, sixteen-year-old Estela de Matin runs away from an abusive household, wants to start afresh and leave her old identity behind. On the road, she encounters Alénor of Aquitaine, the Queen of France, and her loyal guards, who were travelling from Carcassonne to Narbonne. They eye Estela suspiciously because she might be plotting a robbery with other bandits in hiding or she might be a thief because she carries a mandora, a musical instrument like a lute. After the queen orders the girl to play and sing a song, Alénor of Aquitaine invites Estela to come with them to the court. At first, this book was a little hard to get into because I don’t know that historical period too well, especially the politics, but the idea of a girl troubadour is something I’ve never heard of and I’m curious to read how Estela will get along with Dragonetz, the queen’s commander and her troubadour.

The Treasure of Gwenlais by M. T. Magee contains a prologue in which we are told who the most important characters are, which kingdom they protect or belong to, who are the enemies and which are the stakes of this first book. In short, Princess Laurel of Gwenlais is rescued from the claws of a monster by Caleb, Prince of Heathwin, “the Chief and Commander of the Sentinels who protected the two Kingdoms of Gwenlais and his own realm of Heathwin”. (Loc. 149) Meanwhile, the Sentinels lead by Prince Aiden gallop towards the village to kill the monsters (Rabkins) and to count the casualties. The first chapter is very long, so I paused when I came to a page break, but the novel is worth reading because it’s a high fantasy and it seems to have a complex world.

And here is what I’ve decided:

After reading the chapters and prologues, I decided to read Check Mate by T. Ariyanna because I like the suspense and the story is pretty short. Then, I think that I will choose Ms Jean Gill’s novel because I want to know what happens to Estela at the French royal court and how the past will influence her future.

Review: When I See Your Face by Devika Fernando

A Second Chance At Love

 

Title: When I See Your Face

Subtitle: A Second Chance At Love

Author: Devika Fernando

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Year of Publication: 2014

Self-Published

Rating: 4/5 stars

 

I wrote in an older review that I’m pretty shy when it comes to contemporary literature, because I’m not very accustomed to its genres, styles and new trends; plus, I don’t always know what I’m getting into. However, after recently discovering a few Romanian and foreign book tubers and after creating my Goodreads and Twitter accounts, my interest and appetite for contemporary books began to grow. It’s more like a combination of curiosity and the need to know what’s new and good to read.

For today’s review, I’m going to talk about a romance novel entitled When I See Your Face: A Second Chance At Love written by Sri Lankan-born German author Devika Fernando, who sent me a link to the free Kindle Edition of her book, that also contains an unexpected bonus. She has also published other contemporary and paranormal romance books and series, which are very tempting for any book lover of these genres.

When I See Your Face: A Second Chance At Love follows the story of Cathy Nolan, the wife of real estate manager Mark Nolan. She runs away from home, in order to escape the beatings and suffering caused by her abusive husband. She flees to a quiet village, where she plans to begin a new life. However, Cathy panics and has a nervous breakdown when she encounters Michael Newland, a man who looks exactly like her husband. Talking about freaky coincidences, huh? The other man’s face brings back to life Cathy’s traumatic memories and fears regarding her husband through vivid nightmares.

Though Michael and Cathy’s first encounter is far from polite, because of her improper behaviour towards him, the man introduces her to his passion for gardening, his artworks, because he also enjoys painting, and he overall makes Cathy feel useful happy and free. Compare this to the times when she was forced by her husband to behave in a certain manner, to always dress elegantly, wear make-up and talk very little as if she were his puppet. Michael, on the other hand, will help Cathy figure out a way to fulfil her dream of opening her own business, baking and decorating cakes, and he will be her biggest supporter. Cathy feels attracted to Michael, but she doesn’t know if it’s okay to fall in love with someone whose face she feared so much in the past. Though Mark and Michael are almost identical, Cathy realises that the latter is less self-centered than the former, he is truly caring, honest, funny and he’s very attentive towards her — these are qualities that Cathy never found in Mark.

Though it’s a bit odd for someone to fall in love with a man physically identical with one’s abusive and controlling husband, I presume that Cathy’s attraction to Michael can be interpreted as her longing for a better version of Mark. Even if Michel boosts her confidence, Cathy is reluctant to tell him about her past. Giving into his love for her it will not be easy, because of her shadowy memories regarding her husband and the fear of making the same mistakes again. However, Michael wants Cathy to leave the past and her fears behind and start afresh because he also went through a bitter life experience before moving to this small village and before working as a gardener. What secret will be revealed?

In short, the story is light – more like a summer read – fast paced and a cocktail of emotions ranging from fear, pain, and vulnerability… to love. The characters are relatable because each of them has both a good and a bad side. It’s a story about love, pain and happiness… about the strength to leave the past behind and chase your dreams. Enjoy!

Recenzie: Mistere venețiene de Kathryn Walker

Titlu: Mistere venețiene

Titlu original: A Stopover in Venice

Author: Kathryn Walker

Gen: Contemporary Romance

Anul apariției: 2008

Anul apariției acestei ediții: 2009

Editura Tritonic

Colecția Cașmir

Traducător: Vâlvoiu Iulian

Rating: 5/5 stele


De obicei sunt destul de sceptică atunci când vine vorba de cărți nou apărute, deoarece nu poți fi niciodată sigur dacă romanul pe care l-ai cumpărat a meritat sau nu banii și timpul tău. Totuși, în multitudinea de cărți de duzină, poți găsi, întâmplător sau nu, și cărți bune. Nu neapărat valoroase, dar plăcute ochilor și minții.

În această categorie se încadrează romanul de debut al scriitoarei și actriței americane de Broadway Kathryn Walker, Mistere venețiene (A Stopover in Venice), apărut în 2009 la Editura Tritonic, care ne îmbarcă într-o călătorie plină de mister, artă, reflecții îndreptate spre trecut – fie că este vorba despre trecutul protagonistei sau cel istoric – dragoste și, nu în ultimul rând, măreția și splendoarea Veneției.

Cornelia Everett este o tânără actriță de origine americană, care și-a dedicat viața în totalitate soțului ei Anthony, un muzician egoist, irascibil, încăpățânat și ironic. În ciuda sacrificiului ei, Anthony este mai interesat de cariera lui, Cornelia fiind o prezență neglijabilă. Dându-și seama că viața lângă Anthony nu îi mai aduce nicio satisfacție, Nel își ia bagajul și hotărăște să coboare undeva lângă Veneția, pentru a petrece un timp singură cu gândurile ei, a se plimba și, în cele din urmă, a se bucura de viață. Amintirile protagonistei legate de primul soț, care a decedat, la căsnicia eșuată cu Anthony sau la cariera actoricească au caracter autobiografic. Autoarea a fost căsătorită de două ori: prima dată cu scriitorul și actorul Douglas Kenney, iar a doua oară cu cântărețul James Taylor – o căsnicie nefericită, precum în cazul Corneliei.

După ce salvează un câine din mâinile unor copii răutăcioși, Nel intră în casa Contesei Lucrezia da Isola, adevărata stăpână a micuțului Leo, unde o echipă de restauratori, în frunte cu Matteo Clemente, încearcă să deslușească misterul unei fresce renascentiste descoperite în podul vechii case. Cornelia se împrietenește cu Signora Lucrezia, o bătrânică simpatică și stilată; se apropie de Matteo și se oferă să participe la dezlegarea misterului.

Treptat, apar tot felul de specialiști în istorie și artă, care găsesc câte o piesă a puzzle-ului prin intermediul documentelor vremii sau al altor indicii, aflate în anumite locuri din Veneția. De exemplu, prin intermediul unei traducătoare, iese la suprafață jurnalul înduioșător al unei tinere de 16 ani, care își relatează viața – alături de mama vitregă, tatăl și de frații ei – dar și povestea de dragoste dintre ea și pictorul Giorgione (Zorzi), care ticluia și versuri și cânta la lăută ca un adevărat Orfeu. Clara, acesta fiind numele fetei, este și ea talentată la pictură, astfel fratele ei Vicenzo o duce la atelierul lui Giorgione, care o apreciază de prima dată când o vede. Ne este povestit cu multă încântare episodul în care faimosul pictor o imortalizează pe tânără într-un portret, eveniment urmat de apogeul iubirii lor. Totuși, uneori lucrurile nu merg bine până la capăt; astfel, la Veneția izbucnește o epidemie de ciumă, iar Clara trebuie să rămână la o mănăstire de măicuțe, alături de alte tinere ce proveneau din pătura nobilimii. Din păcate, Giorgione este obligat să își continue proiectele artistice (dar și idila cu o prostituată pe nume Cecilia); pictorul moare cu câteva luni înainte de nașterea fiului său.

Dar acum să ne întoarcem la Nel, care începe puțin câte puțin să se descopere, să reflecteze la trecut, prezent și viitor, să își regăsească identitatea, să se îndrăgostească de Matteo și să își dea seama ce își dorește cu adevărat. Chiar dacă romanul are un final deschis, este lesne de înțeles din desfășurarea acțiunii, că protagonista își va urma inima și va alege să fie fericită.

Voi încheia prezentarea acestei cărți, recomandând-o celor îndrăgostiți de Veneția, fie că ați fost acolo sau nu, dar și celor care vor să o descopere. Kathryn Walker crează o atmosferă misterioasă și impresionantă, demnă de La Serenissima. Sunt inserate informații despre artă, istorie, tarot, care însă nu sunt atât de numeroase încât să plictisească cititorul. Romanul este echilibrat, nimic nu e prea mult sau prea puțin, personajele sunt plăcute, iar misterul frescei nu îți dă voie să lași cartea din mână. Personal, am avut senzația că mă plimb pe toate străduțele înguste, pe podețele de deasupra canalelor sau prin Piața San Marco alături de Nel și de adorabilul Leo.