Sunday, 27 May 2018

The Weaver's Daughter - Sarah E. Ladd

Date of Reading: 26/05/2018
Author: Sarah E. Ladd
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Place: Nashville, Tennessee
Year: April 2018
From: NetGalley
Rating: 4.3/5

About the book (Goodreads):

Kate's loyalties bind her to the past. Henry's loyalties compel him to strive for a better future. In a landscape torn between tradition and vision, can two souls find the strength to overcome their preconceptions?

Loyalty has been at the heart of the Dearborne family for as long as Kate can remember, but a war is brewing in their small village, one that has the power to rip families asunder --including her own. As misguided actions are brought to light, she learns how deep her father's pride and bitterness run, and she begins to wonder if her loyalty is well-placed.

Henry Stockton, heir to the Stockton fortune, returns home from three years at war seeking refuge from his haunting memories. Determined to bury the past, he embraces his grandfather's goals to modernize his family's wool mill, regardless of the grumblings from the local weavers. When tragedy strikes shortly after his arrival, Henry must sort truth from suspicion if he is to protect his family's livelihood and legacy.

Henry has been warned about the Dearborne family. Kate, too, has been advised to stay far away from the Stocktons, but chance meetings continue to bring her to Henry's side, blurring the jagged lines between loyalty, justice, and truth. Kate ultimately finds herself with the powerful decision that will forever affect her village's future. As unlikely adversaries, Henry and Kate must come together to find a way to create peace for their families, and their village, and their souls - even if it means risking their hearts in the process.

My Review: 

        A beautiful novel that will hook you to the end even though we know full well what is going to happen. We are presented with a set of admirable characters which, if I should be honest, is quite unlike the era of their setting. Kate is fiercely independent and in no way be subdued by a marriage of convenience or the talks of being a lady. She wants to be taken seriously as any other weaver in the society. Needless to say, Henry is attracted to this caring, brave and generous woman and the duo make a handsome, happy couple.
         The book has been put under the category of Christian fiction, but it focuses on the innate idea of Christianity rather than customs and prayers of the Christian religion. The story stresses the need to forgive and to be truthful and even gives insight into the heart of the major rival, Frederica Pennington. Like many other beautiful girls, she is trapped by the conventions of the society where the only means of escape is a profitable marriage.
       Beginning lightly with Kate as a child, the story picks pace with the mystery of a murder at its core and concludes with a peaceful and satisfying ending. Thanks to the gripping narration, you won't be able to put it down without finishing.

Meet the author:

Sarah E. Ladd has always loved the Regency period — the clothes, the music, the literature and the art. A college trip to England and Scotland confirmed her interest in the time period and gave her idea of what life would’ve looked like in era. It wasn’t until 2010 that Ladd began writing seriously. Shortly after, Ladd released the first book in the Whispers on the Moors series. Book one of the series, The Heiress of Winterwood, was the recipient of the 2011 ACFW Genesis Award for historical romance. Ladd also has more than ten years of marketing experience. She holds degrees in public relations and marketing and lives in Indiana with her family and spunky Golden Retriever.

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

The Breakup Support Group - Cheyanne Young

Date of Reading: 18/05/2018
Author: Cheyanne Young
Publisher: Swoon Romance
Year: 2016
My Rating: 4.5/5

(This review copy is offered to me by Lola's Blog Tours but the opinions expressed are entirely my own)

About the book (Goodreads):

After four years of first love bliss, Isla Rush just got dumped. 

Any hope she has of winning her ex-boyfriend back is shattered when the town rezones her neighbourhood, forcing her to spend senior year at a wealthy high school in the next town over. 

With a broken heart consuming her soul, Isla can’t focus on anything, except maybe Emory Underwood—a ridiculously hot guy who dates a new girl almost every day. She can’t help but crush on him, even though it’s wrong. 

When memories of her ex make her cry in the second period, the school counsellor sends Isla to a club that meets during lunch. The Break-Up Support Group is a collection of broken-hearted misfits who are all helping each other heal. 

Just when Isla’s heart is finally on the mend, Emory shows up, forced to atone for all the broken hearts he’s caused over the years. While hiding her massive crush, she helps him understand the seriousness of breaking a heart. 

In turn, Emory offers to help Isla get back on the dating scene by agreeing to be her fake date for the homecoming dance. Isla gladly accepts the ruse, because if anyone can make her into a desirable girlfriend, Emory can! There's just one small problem.

Isla's little crush on Emory might be exactly full blown. And a homecoming fake date with him could push her over the edge to possibly uttering the "L Word!"

Isla can't afford another heartbreak so soon after the last one. She will have to resist his charms, refuse to look into those dreamy eyes, and above all else, not make the mistake of letting him kiss her. 

My Review: 

        As it has been my habit recently, I opened my Goodreads app after finishing this novel. Do you know how many ratings I found? 217. If I were the author, I would surely have joined a support group to mend my broken heart. Seriously, an awesome book as this one deserves a bit more recognition. I can only hope that not all readers have the habit of rating the books they read and this review can put some interest back on this high school romance.
       Coming from Swoon Romance, without a doubt, this story will make you swoon. I made the mistake of taking it on a work night, expecting it to be another OK read and I could hardly bring myself to close the kindle 😉. With Isla, we are also transported to her new school and even though she is quite crestfallen, anticipation and excitement will tingle every fibre of our being. Lectures, gym exercises and homecoming dances ... it's good to be young.
         I was not that fond of Isla in the beginning -- she is caring for sure, but it borders on being possessive. Her world revolves around the hunky boyfriend and I was only too glad to get the breaking up point. From the cover blurb, I got the impression that Emory is a pure playboy, but he is not. He possesses a wisdom beyond his ages and I like it how they begin as friends first. 
      But the best part is that this book is not only about romance. It's also about all things high school and of course, the breakup support group. This was such a novel idea for me and I wish every school had one. It is a unique group of exceptional characters and I hope the author has some stories in mind for others too.
       Overall an amazing read you will definitely enjoy these summer days.

Meet the author:

Cheyanne Young is a native Texan with a fear of cold weather and a coffee addiction that probably needs an intervention. She loves books, sarcasm, and collecting nail polish. After nearly a decade of working in engineering, Cheyanne now writes books for young adults. She doesn’t miss a cubicle one bit. Cheyanne lives near the beach with her daughter and husband, one spoiled rotten puppy, and a cat that is most likely plotting to take over the world.

Sunday, 20 May 2018

Dating the Prince - Alina Snow (Blog Tour & Giveaway)

Date of Reading: 05/05/2018
Author: Alina Snow
Publisher: Pink Ink Press
Place: United States
Year: May 8, 2018
Rating: 4.5/5

(This review is part of the blog tour hosted by I Am A Reader)

About the book:

Small-town girl, Katie O’Connor has always dreamed of seeing her name in lights. Check the box for fame, a movie deal, the perfect leading role that comes with a gorgeous leading man! Katie moved to Hollywood, elbows her way into auditions, lives on a shoestring budget—whatever is required to land a deal, she throws her heart into… until she’s involved in a royal kidnapping.

As the future king, Prince Alexander refuses to rule from an ivory tower. Duty-bound, he intends to relate to his future subjects, regardless of their walk of life. Before his coronation, he needs a foolproof plan to outrun his security team and go temporarily AWOL. While visiting L.A., all it takes is a soundstage collision and Alex is blindsided by a headstrong woman who is simply irresistible. So much so, he calls in a favour in order to secure her help … as his pretend girlfriend.

Their worlds are oceans apart, but their immediate attraction is impossible to put aside, especially their nonstop banter. Miffed at being wrangled into a situation that might blow up in her face, Katie comes up with her own plan. If The Prince is serious about walking the walk of the common folk, she’s only too happy to oblige as his pretend girlfriend. Through an ice storm, a road trip, kitchen duty, and a Texas pig race, Alex captures the hearts of the locals as well as Ms. O’Connor’s.

What starts out as a deal Katie can’t refuse becomes the acting role of a lifetime… letting Prince Alexander go without a fight.

A delightfully funny retelling of The Prince and The Pauper that romance readers of all ages will enjoy. On a two-week 1,500-mile road trip, Katie and Alex discover the end of the road might just be the beginning of their ‘Happy Ever After’ together.

My Review:

       Absolutely LOVED it! This is an unforgettable romantic comedy that stole my sleep. Katie and Prince Alexander make a charming pair building a mature relationship even with the sizzling physical attraction. Kind of reminds me why I like clean romances. 
        As a die-hard 'Prince & Me' movie series fan, I jumped at the chance of reviewing it. Even with the cuties on the cover, I was not able to shake the actors of the movie from my mind. It almost felt like reliving the movie with a different setting; there are a lot of parallels in the storyline. That could be the reason I was really warming up towards Jeffrey, the private secretary. He resembled Soren so much (even in the dialogues) that Ben Miller's image was at the forefront whenever Jeffrey comes to the fray.
       I must applaud Alina Snow's courage in presenting Alex as the British Crown Prince. I was expecting an unknown prince from some unexplored country (like 'Princess Diaries'), but this is so much better. We know its fiction, so what is the harm in taking a bit of liberty?
       I was a bit confused at the beginning with the language, but once you get the hang of it ... this is a non-stop joy ride. There are no digressions or unnecessary evil plots to drag the story. The ending was a bit rushed, still, I would not want to change anything about this book. All in all, this is a nice, quick, relaxing read, that makes you wish for more ...

Meet the author:

A southern gal at heart. Alina is a librarian who adores her job. She has a degree in anthropology from Vanderbilt and loves writing offbeat romantic comedy. To refuel, Alina sings karaoke, bakes sweet treats, and can be found at the Y, kickboxing. She lives in Knoxville with her husband and Callie, their doxie mix.


Ends 5/31/18

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. This Giveaway is organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader

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Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Pete & Daisy - Tani Hanes (Blog Tour and Giveaway)

Date of Reading: 09/05/2018
Author: Tani Hanes
Publication Date: 14 May 2018
Rating: 3.5/5

(This review is part of the blog tour hosted by YA Bound Book Tours)

About the book (Goodreads):

Daisy is a fun-loving college student at prestigious Columbia University, in New York City, who finds herself pregnant and alone. Pete is an exchange student from Italy with a chronic case of poverty. She needs a baby-daddy, he needs a place to live, so they decide to help each other out by engaging in the time-honoured device used by people in need the world over: a marriage of convenience. She’s beautiful and smart, he’s a gorgeous and talented musician, surely they can live together as husband and wife for one academic year? In a one-bedroom on the Upper West Side? With her old-fashioned granny living on the first floor, Pete and Daisy move into a tiny, rooftop apartment, ready to be roommates, husband and wife in name only, for nine months. 
Real life has a way of getting in the way, though, of messing with the best-laid plans... 

My Review:

       As you must have guessed from the amazing cover, this is a cute and sweet romance revolving around a sexy redhead and an Italian hottie. Set in a cosy New York apartment, it takes us through the nine months of Daisy's pregnancy and shows the gradual growth of a partnership replacing the awkwardness of their situation.

       Tani reverses the usual scenario -- of a bad boy not looking for a marriage, eventually 'trapped' by a virtuous girl. Meet Daisy, she loves one night stands and unabashedly shows the world that a girl likes having fun just like any other boys. Sure, we encounter many Daisys, but none of them manages to go beyond the role of the supporting friend. Why? Because it is natural for a man to sow some wild oats, but for a girl, this is equal to being a slut. Daisy is not immune to society's censure and she vocalises her protest many times in the novel.
      Pete, on the other hand, is the male Cinderella -- caring, loving and responsible. He is a musician which is super sexy. The story proceeds through the little things of their daily life and we will eventually get to know every nook and corner of the apartment. The author has done a wonderful job in picturing the passing of the seasons, all the while retaining a feeling of the spring.
      It won't be prudent to finish this review without pointing out some things that bothered me. There were too many sex scenes which were completely unnecessary. This is a gripping story on its own, so I don't think there is a need for such cheap marketing tactics. Then there is the confusion that arises from the two names: Marguerite and Daisy. Daisy is the nickname that Pete uses but, in many places, she introduces herself as Daisy (for instance, the first meeting with Michelle). 
      That being said, let me assure you, this won't spoil the fun in any way. All in all, this is a perfect read for rainy days. So what are you waiting for? Curl up on your couch with the Kindle, and you won't be disappointed.

Meet the author:

My name is Tani Hanes, and I am a 51-year-old substitute teacher. I'm from central California and am a recent transplant to New York City. The most important things to know about me are that I'm punctual, I love grammar and sushi, and I'm very intolerant of intolerance. The least important things to know about me are that I like to knit and I couldn't spell "acoustic" for 40 years. I've wanted to write since I was ten, and I finally did it. If you want to write, don't wait as long as I did, it's pointless and very frustrating!


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Monday, 7 May 2018

A Strangeness in My Mind - Orhan Pamuk

Date of Reading: 03/05/2018
Author: Orhan Pamuk
Translated by: Ekin Oklap
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
Place: New York
Year: 2015
Rating: 4/5

About the book:

A Strangeness in My Mind is a novel Orhan Pamuk has worked on for six years. It is the story of boza seller Mevlut, the woman to whom he wrote three years' worth of love letters, and their life in Istanbul.

In the four decades between 1969 and 2012, Mevlut works a number of different jobs on the streets of Istanbul, from selling yoghurt and cooked rice, to guarding a car park. He observes many different kinds of people thronging the streets, he watches most of the city get demolished and re-built, and he sees migrants from Anatolia making a fortune; at the same time, he witnesses all of the transformative moments, political clashes, and military coups that shape the country. He always wonders what it is that separates him from everyone else - the source of that strangeness in his mind. But he never stops selling boza during winter evenings and trying to understand who his beloved really is.

What matters more in love: what we wish for, or what our fate has in store? Do our choices dictate whether we will be happy or not, or are these things determined by forces beyond our control?

A Strangeness in My Mind tries to answer these questions while portraying the tensions between urban life and family life, and the fury and helplessness of women inside their homes. 

My Review:
       I am still undecided as to whether I liked this or not, probably because it took a long time to complete. The book is bulky for sure (around 600 pages), but I was never a slow reader. Well, some books are to be chewed and digested and safe to say this one belongs to that Baconian category.
        Like a  gifted painter, Pamuk takes extreme pains to portray the growth and change of not only the characters but also the background or setting in this case. Spanning from 1968 to 2012, it covers a large chunk of Turkish history focusing on Istanbul. Hard to say which was given prominence, Istanbul or Mevlut.
        I was more into the story of Mevlut than to Istanbul and so the whole book appeared to follow the pattern of an ECG reading -- there will be a spike, then a recess and again a spike in interest. There are only a handful of characters, but each of them shows evolvement and represent a specific aspect of the city. Mevlut, as the boza seller, embodies the old days of the city when alcohol was not freely available. It brings a nostalgia which I am sure everyone can associate with in spite of their country of origin. No choco bar can replace the feelings of those old ice cream sellers who used to come to our neighbourhood with their ding dong bells.
       So four stars for I won't be forgetting this story anytime soon. The narration is unique with other characters intervening to give their version of the story. Obviously, the core of the novel revolves around the strangeness that haunts Mevlut. Whom has he loved - Samiha to whom he wrote for three years or Rayiha who got all the letters and whom he married? I am happy that the novel ends with Mevlut's answer instead of leaving it to the mercy of readers.


       Mevlut comes to Istanbul at the age of twelve from his poor village to continue his studies and also to help his father in selling boza and yoghurt. Unlike his father, his brother and sons (Mevlut's cousins - Korkut and Suleyman) have managed to secure a well to do home and a grocery shop. Brothers are not really on good terms but Mevlut was always welcomed by the family.
       He passes secondary school but soon loses interest in studies. He flunked classes and spent most of his time as a street vendor with his friend, Ferhat. Meanwhile, Korkut gets married to Vediha, the beautiful daughter of Abdurrahman Efendi. It is here Mevlut first meets Samiha, the youngest sister of the bride and falls head over heels in love. But he mistakes her name to be Rayiha who was the not so pretty second sister. The crooked Suleyman does nothing to correct his cousin as he wants to marry Samiha himself. He encourages Mevlut in his pursuit of love.
        Mevlut joins his compulsory military service and in these three years, he writes letters to Rayiha praising her beautiful eyes. They were promptly delivered to the second sister by Suleyman. Mevlut's father dies in between.
       As he didn't have enough money to pay the bride price, he elopes with Rayiha with the help of Suleyman. On the way, he realises that this is not the girl he has seen at the wedding. But Rayiha has come with him leaving everything behind. So without informing her anything about the mix-up, they get married. The marriage proves to be a happy one with two daughters, Fatma and Fevziye.
       Suleyman tries to marry Samiha but she runs away with Ferhat whom she had met on Mevlut's wedding. Though they loved each other, back-breaking work life and lack of children gradually creates a void. Ferhat has managed to complete his studies and he procures a job as an Electrical Inspector. Suleyman, meanwhile, has stopped the thoughts of revenge and started seeing a singer, Mahinur Meryem (Melahat). When she gets pregnant, he marries her.
        Mevlut hops from job to job. He has tried his hand in selling ice cream and rice, became the manager of a restaurant and even started a boza shop with Ferhat. But they never manage to make money that is more than enough. All through this, he kept selling boza in the evening.
        When Rayiha gets pregnant for the third time, she tries to abort it herself and consequently bleeds to death. Mevlut was heartbroken. Suleyman has tried to put a wedge between them before by informing Rayiha about the true nature of the letters, but in spite of her doubts, their family was always stable and happy.
       For some time, Mevlut works as an assistant to Ferhat in the Electrical Company. But then Ferhat gets murdered while trying to uncover an electrical robbery in a club and Mevlut is dismissed from the job. He joins as the manager of the club for migrants started by Korkut and Suleyman.
       Fatma was good at her studies and she eventually goes to university. She marries a boy whom she met there. Fevziye, on the other hand, had none of her sister's academic abilities and she elopes with a driver. Finally, with both daughters married, Mevlut is left alone. Suleyman encourages him to marry Samiha who also shares the same plight. Mevlut finally reveals the truth about his love letters to Samiha and they get married.
        The home that he stayed with his father is sold for the construction of apartments and finally, all three cousins start living in the same building. But novel ends with Mevlut and Samiha's decision to move to another flat which was owned by Ferhat. That evening while selling boza he finally solves the puzzled that haunted him always and proclaims, "I have loved Rayiha more than anything in this world".

Something to ponder . . .

"In a city, you can be alone in a crowd, and in fact what makes the city a city is that it lets you hide the strangeness in your mind inside its teeming multitudes" - 117

Orhan Pamuk
"... everytime he shouted 'Boo-zaa', he could feel the paintings in his mind emerging from his mouth like speech bubbles in a comic book before dissolving into the weary streets like clouds. Every word was an object, and every object was a picture" - 381

"... walking around the city at night made him feel as if he were wandering around inside his own head" - 597

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Take a Chance on Me - Kaylee Baldwin

Date of Reading: 28/04/2018
Author: Kaylee Baldwin
Year of Publication: 2018
From: I Am A Reader in exchange for an honest review
Rating: 4/5

About the book:

Madelyn Stewart knows how to have fun, no matter what her ex-husband claims, but between working two jobs and taking care of her five-year-old son, opportunities for fun are few and far between. So when she is given tickets to take her son to see a live taping of the MyHeartChannel show Take a Chance, they go, even though it means she’ll have to stay up all night to turn in her latest article on time. To her shock, the daredevil star, Chance Risk, is none other than Graham Sawyer, the quiet accounting major she’d dated in college—someone she’d cowardly broken up with by note and hoped to never see again. When she makes a major mistake in her article, she has to swallow her embarrassment and reach out to Chance for an exclusive or risk losing her job. 

Chance Risk doesn’t talk to reporters. Not after the way he’s seen them destroy his brother’s marriage and career. But Take a Chance is starting to lose viewers, he’s desperate. Despite his better judgement, when Madelyn reaches out, he can’t resist the opening to figure out why she broke his heart eight years before. His only condition: she has to come to three filming locations with him and his crew to get a real sense of what the show is about. 

Swept up in adventure, they start to feel the chemistry from college rekindling. But the reason Madelyn left eight years before still looms between them. If Chance can’t convince Madelyn to take a chance on love, she’ll walk away again. This time forever. 

My Review:

       I was entranced by Baldwin's writing style from the start; honestly, I do love novels with lots of dialogues. Apart from that, this is a quick, fun clean romance that leaves you with a happy glow once finished.
        Madelyn is not a typical heroine you can easily associate with. She is fiercely independent and to me, it looked a lot like false pride. But there is no way of hating her, she is too lovely at the same time. Chance, on the other hand, is the polar opposite. He is caring, protective (but not possessive) and every girl's dream come true. Unsurprisingly, I was completely against Madelyn for breaking his heart in the past. 
        But like all other love stories, this one too ends well. Isn't that what matters the most? It is cute how they reconcile their respective stations. Oh, I almost forgot! We can't help but love Oliver, Madelyn's kid. True, this is not a movie and we can't see him for real. All the same, once we put down the book, thanks to Baldwin's writing, we feel they are all part of us.

Meet the author:

A glamorous day in the life of Kaylee Baldwin includes: chasing after her four children, checking for a new season of Serial, writing her latest book, binge-watching reality cooking shows, hanging out with her husband, and reading in every spare second she can find. She graduated from Arizona State University with a degree in English lit and currently lives in southern Arizona with her family. 

Her books include the Whitney Finalist Meg’s Melody, Hearts in Peril, a story in the Timeless Romance Anthology: California Dreamin’ which was recently translated into Norwegian, and Take a Chance on Me. You can follow her on Instagram @KayleeBaldwin1 (Courtesy: Amazon Kaylee Baldwin page)

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