#BookReview Return to You by Samantha Chase

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This romance novel is a fun page turner that I couldn’t put down! Return to You follows James Mongomery and Selena Ainsley as they slowly reconnect with each other. The two have a dramatic past that is slowly revealed throughout the novel, instead of most novels where it is all delivered up front. This wonderful idea by Samantha Chase gives the novel a little extra boost in making the novel more interesting. As a reader, it made me want to continue reading and discovering what happened to James and Selena in their past as it is explained and revealed chapter by chapter.

The novel focuses on the present day and how James and Selena learn about how their view of events is very different from each other. Their relationship and circumstances seem very realistic, and well thought out. I didn’t see any of the characters being over exaggerated or boring. The characters are an amazing aspect of the novel!

The plot line is also intriguing, but could have used a bit more action or drama. I found the plot line to be very predictable and obvious as the novel went on, and even made some of the chapters slow and boring. Once I was past those chapters, I became instantly interested in it again.

Overall, I felt like a little more action and drama could have been added, but it was a good quality book. The novel moved smoothly and kept me interested!

Four out of five stars!

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

 

What is your favourite romance novel series? Comment below!
Did you enjoy this review? Why not check out another you might enjoy? #BookReview Alejandro’s Sexy Secret by Amy Ruttan

Use the hashtags #BriarsReviews and #TheMontgomeryBrothers to start the conversation on Twitter! @ReviewAlholic

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#BookReview Down in the Belly of the Whale by Kelley Kay Bowles

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Today is October 10th – World Mental Health Day! To celebrate and make people aware, check out my review of a book that focuses on mental health awareness (and general health awareness too!).

 

 

Down in the Belly of the Whale by Kelley Kay Bowles is a witty and ingenious Young Adult novel that addresses a multitude of tough subject matter in an eye-opening manner.

I don’t know how Kelley does it, but she always manages to impress me. This time around, Kelley has a Young Adult novel that addresses so many tough subjects in one go! Topics such as self harm, child abuse, Multiple Sclerosis, loss of innocence, suicide and not so supportive parents are just some of the many that are tackled in this book. Each “issue” is brought into the story seamlessly and has plot lines throughout the narrative to deal with the issues. Most Young Adult books stay away from the tough yet so very real topics like these, so I have to applaud Kelley for taking the big leap in her story!

My teenage self would have loved a book like this, and I could have learned a lot in the process. On top of the subject matter, the book is written in the voice of a teenager (and it feels oh so real!). Just some of the quotes, such as “I’m going to wear a stunning pair of very expensive jeans that hug my curves like a two-year old with separation anxiety” make this book hilarious! This sitcom-like book creates a fantastic balance between realism and dark topics alongside the silly and goofy one-liners to make the book less depressing.

I did like the character development in this story – both Cora and Harper grow throughout. The change in their attitudes and view points was very obvious as the book went on! I think Kelley did a great job making these characters feel real and like teenagers. Bravo!!

The fantastical side of Harper being able to “sense” when someone is sick, and she’s able to sense mental illness is a big step forward. Mental illness is not always seen as someone being “sick”, rather it’s just an issue to be dealt with. Having a book directed towards teenagers have this point of view makes me very happy and very proud of Kelley’s writing.

Now for the tough part – the negatives. Were there negatives in this book for me? Yes. I felt the ending was rushed, which made some of the pieces being tied together feel less real. Is it necessarily a bad thing? No. It was just something that stuck out to me. Kelley ties up some of the loose ends nicely, but I would have loved a few more pages dedicated to these storylines. Other than that, this book felt flawless.

Would I recommend this book? Heck yes! This book was a fantastic Young Adult novel that I actually got into! I didn’t want to put it down, and I didn’t. I easily binged this book in one sitting, but it could easily be read in bits and pieces. If you like Young Adult novels, books that tackle dark subject matter (in a light-hearted way) or a splash of comedy, then you will love this book! I’d even recommend this to many adult readers, because of it’s amazing way of tackling the rough subjects.

There is a bit of an asterisk on the recommendation side – this book could be a major trigger for some people. Keep that in mind if you plan to pick up this book! The darker sides of this novel may not be suitable for all ages and maturity levels!

Five out of five stars!

I received a free copy of this book from the author Kelley Kaye Bowles in exchange for an honest review.

 

Find this book on:

Goodreads

Amazon.ca

Amazon.com

 

Find out more about Kelley Kaye Bowles on:

Goodreads – Kelley Kaye Bowles

http://www.kelleykaybowles.com/

Twitter – @kelkay1202

 

If you read this review, give me a shout out on Twitter to let me know you read it! @ReviewAlholic

 

And if you enjoyed this review, why not check out another you might enjoy? #BookReview The Sinking of Bethany Ann Crane by K. Kris Loomis

#BookReview Survving Revision: How One Writer Finished What She Started by K. Kris Loomis

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Surviving Revision by K. Kris Loomis is a thoughtful reflection on the writing process.

If you’re looking for a non-fiction book surrounding the thoughts on how to finish writing your book, then you’ve come to the right place! K. Kris Loomis (the author of The Sinking of Bethany Ann Crane) compiled a list of all the helpful ideas and tools that helped her get through revising her novel. This is a non-fiction, opinionated collection that can help you work through those tough times when writing your novel.

If I’m comparing it to my recent writing adventure (it was an essay, don’t get too excited), I felt like it was pretty spot on. Here’s just some of the general ideas she discusses (and explains why they are important and/or how you can fix them!). Don’t worry, I’m not spoiling much… Read the book to find all of the full details!
1. You write a draft that has all of your ideas and it’s not perfect. It’s like a big, blobby mess full of everything you want and lots of stuff you don’t.
2, Editing and revising can be an absolute pain, but it’s a must for your novel. Suddenly, that big, blobby mess will mold into what looks like an actual first draft!
3. Setting goals are important!

So, what do I think?

I think this is a really helpful book! If you’re not used to writing, this will give you insights into what actually happens in the writing process. It’s definitely honest, and it’s full of helpful and useful information. If anything, use it as a stepping stone so you know where you’re headed!

What I did like about it, was that it was relatively short! My ebook copy was just over one hundred pages, which is way easier to read than the thousand page English and Revising books you’d find at a college or university for writing. It felt like the perfect summary of those giant works! Also, this book was in a very comfortable, chatty tone. I felt like the author was actually talking to me and explaining what was happening, rather than reading it from a boring, old textbook. That makes this book so much more personal and enjoyable.

Are there cons?
Absolutely! As I said, this book isn’t a textbook! If you are looking for a step-by-step plan on how to totally finish your book, then this book might not be for you. It’s more generalized and personal than a textbook is. The book doesn’t give you specific grammatical errors to look out for or contain a list of commonly misspelled words. Since this book is a narrative of how one person overcame these issues, you need to be aware of what you are getting into. Some readers might not like that, so I’d say that is the con of this book!

My favourite part of this book was seeing how K. Kris Loomis worked through her book. That included what she was doing, her goals and her frustrations along the way. It showed me that the writing process isn’t always purely productive. Sometimes, you’re rocking it out and sometimes you’re having a little more difficulty than you let on. But on other occasions you can have a lot of fun and enjoy the ride! Having that sort of honesty was really cool and it’s something I don’t see very often in literature these days!

Overall, I liked this book! It felt personal, realistic and it echoed a lot of what I’ve found out myself. I think it’s a great read for someone who’s interested in finishing a book but doesn’t know what to expect. Sometimes, the best way to learn is to draw on the experiences of others!

Five out of five stars!

I received a free copy of this book from the author K. Kris Loomis in exchange for an honest review.

 

Check out this book on:

Goodreads

Amazon.com

Amazon.ca

Find out more about K. Kris Loomis on:

K. Kris Loomis Goodreads Page

http://www.kkrisloomis.com/

Twitter – @KKrisLoomis

 

If you enjoyed this review, check out these other books by K. Kris Loomis:

#BookReview The Sinking of Bethany Ann Crane by K. Kris Loomis

#BookReview The Monster in the Closet and Other Stories by K. Kris Loomis

 

Give me a shout-out on Twitter, on Facebook, or comment below with any other books you’d like to see on my blog!

#BookReview Single Chicas by Sandra C. Lopez

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Single Chicas by Sandra C. Lopez is a fabulous anthology full of heart warming, heart breaking and funny stories about latina women!

This is one of those gems you don’t find too often – a series of stories that you can relate to, even if it’s not about you. The collection ranges from stories about a brother getting married and changing, to a woman trying to figure out why she wasn’t “perfect” enough since her boyfriend dumped her, to a studious girl nicknamed “Virgin Mary” as a joke. The stories tell many different views of a woman’s life, and it was just so fantastic! Even when I couldn’t relate fully to one of the story’s, it felt like it matched many of my friends.

I highly recommend this collection! The stories are short yet sweet, and can easily be binged or taken one piece at a time. It’s a feel good series of stories that make will make you proud to be a woman (or know strong women)!

My favourite was definitely the first story, where the sister is wondering why Benny (her brother, Benito) is marrying a girl he barely knows. It feels like the relationship could be not only siblings, but when you question a close friend’s choicest since you know them so well.

All of the stories ranged from a 3 star to a 5 star rating (the ones I related to obviously being higher) but they all were fabulously written and a delight to read. I was never bored and never wanted to put the book down! There were definitely some Latina/Latino themes within this book, and I think they were addressed well! I don’t fit into that community, but reading the stories gave me a real insight into some of the traditions (and sometimes issues) that come from their lives. Seeing the rebellion and the changes in the women was relatable even if you aren’t in that community. I think it approaches the themes in a mature fashion, and it’s easy to read, relate to and understand.

You’ll want to pick up this series if you like – comedy, a splash of romance, drama, women’s fiction, or general fiction. The stories are rather sweet and thoughtful, and won’t bring your day down at all. I highly recommend it, and it is a definite must read in my mind!

Five out of five stars! I will definitely be on the lookout for more books and pieces of work by Sandra C. Lopez in the future!

I received a free copy of this book from the author Sandra C. Lopez in exchange for an honest review.

 

Check out this book on:

Goodreads – Single Chicas

Amazon.com – Single Chicas

Amazon.ca – Single Chicas

Check out Sandra C. Lopez on:

Goodreads – Sandra C. Lopez

Sandra-Lopez.com

 

Comment below – have you read this book yet? Do you plan too?
And give me a shout out on Twitter if you read this post! #BriarsReviews @ReviewAlholic

#BookReview Filthy Wicked Love by Lili Valente

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Filthy Wicked Love by Lili Valente is one steamy, super sexy, hotter than the summer read!

I read this book because it was in “A Love Thing” anthology that is full of super, uber sexy books! I wasn’t sure what to expect because the synopsis didn’t pull me in – but oh my gosh does Lili Valente’s writing! The story itself is a million times better than the synopsis! It’s full of really hot, steamy sex scenes that give it crazy erotica tones, and there’s a splash of action and adventure. Throw in a mob boss, a cute little kid, and some epic love triangle drama and you’ve got this book!

Clay and Harley are super sexy together, but clearly have some issues they will need to resolve. They battle each other constantly, yet can barely keep their hands off each other. Oh, and did I mention they have a child named Jasper that Clay hasn’t met? What a storyline! It’s like a soap opera on steroids!

The book will keep you addicted at every turn, and it felt like a pure adrenaline rush of insanity!

I read this book without reading the first in the series, and it was easy to get into. Normally, I prefer reading a book series in order but since this book was in the anthology and I wanted to finish the entire anthology, I dove right into book two (a.k.a this book!). Lili catches you up on everything you need to know, but it might make a teeny, tiny bit more sense if you read the first book. But remember, it’s a series and at this point in time has four books in it – so the story is not closing at this chapter.

The sex scenes in this book are really hot (I mean, the author WARNS you about it, but most of the time we all just disregard those warnings…). This pair was made for each other in ways I cannot explain. It’s definitely a hard R for the sex scenes, so if you’re not prepared for some really intense and descriptive scenes, don’t pick up this book!

Normally, I’m not into this kind of book but Lili made it work for me! It wasn’t so reluctant between the pair that I was put off, it seemed more playful. Both participants were into the playtime they had together, but never was there a time where it seemed to push the limits. The playfulness is what made this book so good in that category.

If I had any con for this book, it’s the cliffhanger! Now I desperately need to get myself a copy of the next book because it left me hanging and wanting more! Seriously, this book is a fun ride. You might not enjoy it if you don’t like some hardcore erotica or some almost non-consensual relationships though. If you’re cool with those two defining features of this book, read away and enjoy the passion and pleasure these two characters bring!

Overall, I liked this book! I’d like to pick up the rest of the series and more books by Lili in the future! She clearly has a talent for this kind of writing and really draws you in with these out of the box characters!

Four out of five stars!

 

 

Check out this book on:

Goodreads – Goodreads – Filthy Wicked Love

Amazon.com – Amazon.com – Filthy Wicked Love

Amazon.ca – Amazon.ca – Filthy Wicked Love

Find out more about Lili Valente on her website: http://www.lilivalente.com/

Or give us both a shout out on Twitter! @Lili_Valente_Ro & @ReviewAlholic

 

Did you enjoy this review? Check out another review you might enjoy! #BookReview Mastering Her Senses by Laura Kaye

Collection 2: #TopTens – Young Adult Part 1

This time around in my collection of top books I am tackling the Young Adult genre! Young Adult has always been a guilty pleasure of mine and I love to dive deep into this genre whenever possible. Listed below are ten YA books I would highly recommend you pick up, depending on your interests! I’ve tried to include a wide variety of topics and genres within. Stay tuned for part two, because one can never have too many YA novels.

 

1. Poison Princess by Kresley Cole

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The Arcana Chronicles by Kresley Cole is one of my favourite fantasy novels in the YA genre. I am still currently working my way through the series, but I wanted to include the first book (at the very least) on my top ten list! This is a dystopian novel focused around tarot cards. There’s drama, romance and typical YA insanity within this dystopia. I really love the dark and twisted universe Kresley has created!

Amazon.com – Poison Princess

Amazon.ca – Poison Princess

Briar’s Reviews Book Review Poison Princess by Kresley Cole

 

2. Eighth Grade Bites by Zac Brewer

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The Vladimir Tod Chronicles was one of my faves over a decade ago (it’s hard to believe it has been that long…). Back in the day when vampires were hip and cool, Vladimir Tod was rocking the YA world without glitter! Zac Brewer made a fantastic world that felt real with drama, a splash of romance, a teenage vampire trying to find his way in the world and lots of vampire politics. This book is perfect for those 12-15 year olds looking to get into the genre, or anyone who loves an epic tale! I still love these books to this day!

Amazon.com – Eighth Grade Bites

Amazon.ca – Eighth Grade Bites

Young Adult July Reads Book Review: Eighth Grade Bites by Zac Brewer

 

3. Splintered by A.G. Howard

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Splintered is an epic retelling of Alice in Wonderland! Alyssa seems to be crazy, but there’s something more to her story… This rich series is full of drama, romance and fantasy! This series is finished now, so if you want to binge it go ahead! This is easily one of the best retellings of Alice in Wonderland around (I do have another fantastic one lower on the list though…).

Amazon.com – Splintered

Amazon.ca – Splintered

Briar’s Reviews – Splintered Review

 

4. The Stars Never Rise by Rachel Vincent

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This paranormal dystopia created by Rachel Vincent is a stand out novel that blew me away! I was lucky enough to receive an early copy of this book and I can’t wait to get my hands on the sequel! Demons, exorcists and overall wild insanity is packed tight in this book. I have yet to find a book that compares to this unique thrill ride!

Amazon.com – The Stars Never Rise

Amazon.ca – The Stars Never Rise

Briar’s Reviews – The Stars Never Rise Review

 

5. Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter

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Yet another retelling of Alice in Wonderland, but this one features zombies! I loved this retelling more than I can say on this page! The unique concept created by Gena in this book takes the reader on a wild ride. This dystopia follows Ali and her friends on a wild adventure against zombies. Throw in a super hot guy named Cole that will set you on fire, an action-packed plot and some epic side characters and you’ve got yourself a real winner!

Amazon.com – Alice in Zombieland

Amazon.ca – Alice in Zombieland

6. Ghost and the Goth by Stacey Kade

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Years ago, I admired this book afar in every book store I passed! I saved up all of my money and finally got my hands on this super cute, extra cheesey romance novel! The preppy girl is a ghost and the goth is a human, and the two of them fall madly in love! This series is a wild, fantastical ride that I still pick up as a guilty pleasure. This book feels more romance than paranormal, but it still has it’s paranormal aspects within it. If possible, pick up this whole series! It ties up quite nicely, if I do say so myself!

Amazon.com – Ghost and the Goth

Amazon.ca – Ghost and the Goth

7. Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey

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This is another “classic” from my YA collection that I still pick up to this day! When I have a rough day and I want a cute novel to relax with, this book is it! This series is super sweet and definitely packs on the romance. It is also another vampire book I threw on this list, but the romance is where it hits you. There are two books in this series, and both will have you ready for some tissues, chocolate and everything else girly! I still think Lucius (our male lead) is one of the hottest YA leading males!

Amazon.com – Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side

Amazon.ca – Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side

#BookReview Jessica Rules the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey

 

8. Almost to Die For by Tate Hallaway

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This vampire romance was another hit in my books! I read this book alongside Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side, and fell madly in love with Tate Hallaway! Unfortunately, this series didn’t continue after the second book and I am still upset about it. This YA novel features vampires, witches, fantasy and romance for every Twilight fan who wanted just a little bit more than the glittery yet famous vampires. This book still tops my YA list and I’ll pick it up on a rough day when I want a fun read!

Amazon.com – Almost to Die For

Amazon.ca – Almost to Die For

 

9. Pin Drop by Roz Monette

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Pin Drop is the most unique book on this list. It tops my YA reads since it is not your typical Young Adult novel by any definition. It touches on tough topics and social issues that some YA books run far away from. Mo is sarcastic and is easily relatable for most teenagers since her life is not perfect. If you’re looking for a YA novel that isn’t solely focused on dystopias, fantasy or romance than this book is for you! I’d highly recommend it, it’s fabulous!

Amazon.com – Pin Drop

Amazon.ca – Pin Drop

Briar’s Reviews: Pin Drop by Roz Monette Review

 

10. Down in the Belly of the Whale by Kelley Kaye Bowles

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I saved the best for last on this list! Down in the Belly of the Whale by Kelley Kaye Bowles is one of my recent favourites! This book also tackles some dark subject matter, which may not be suitable for all YA audiences. Self harm, destructive families, family illnesses are just some of the tougher subjects in this book on top of the typical high school problems. This book might be fiction, but it felt oh so real! This is the book I needed to read in high school to realize life isn’t always picture perfect. While this book tackles darker topics, it does it in a lovely way that opens your eyes to the realistic coming of age most teenagers are facing but in a YA territory. I’d highly recommend this book and I’d consider it one of the most important books to read on this list!

Amazon.com – Down in the Belly of the Whale

Amazon.ca – Down in the Belly of the Whale

Briar’s Reviews: Down in the Belly of the Whale Review

 

And that’s it for round one of my YA top tens! I have way more top tens to come, including Part 2 of YA and Children’s novels! What list or genre do you want to see next? Do you have any books not included here? Comment below or give me a shout out on Twitter (@ReviewAlholic) to let me know what I’m missing!

I hope you found a new book to read and you enjoyed this list, fellow readers! Let me know what you’re reading below!

Briar

xoxo

 

 

 

Photos via Goodreads.

 

#BookReview Marianne by Ruth Miranda

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This book starts off with a BANG!

Seriously, I couldn’t believe that the book just jumped into the action, like some epic movie sequel! I loved this sweet surprise, since it’s a major change from the books I have been reading lately.

Ruth Miranda, the fantastic author, opens up the realm of fantasy even further in this book. The slow unraveling of this fantastical universe seemed to work really well within the story. I don’t think I would have liked this series as much if she would have thrown all of the elements at us at once. The way she gives us the secrets to this world piece by piece felt… flawless. Each little piece of information that was released made the story slowly fall into place, and gave some awesome added effects. The information about Nora was what really had me in awe – Ruth knows how to tell a great tale.

If there was a con to this point, I’d say that it sometimes felt like those super villain monologues when all of the information was being released. But, for me, it still worked well. I liked the long descriptions.

When looking at the overall book, it’s definitely the darkest of the three. As a reader, if you felt that the last two pushed the limits, then this book might not be for you. It’s past the PG-13 rating for some of it’s deep content, such as the rape scene. So in my mind, it’s a hard R rating. This scene is brutal, but shows some deep insights into the character it’s following. The plot line gets crazier as it goes on, which boggled my mind. The insanity Ruth introduces to the back stories of these characters… One word: WOW. Just… Wow. A good wow, of course!

As the book progressed, I really liked the depth of Marianne and Marcus’s relationship. It’s a unique dynamic, but it held me tight to this book. I wanted to know more about this pair, and I was so tempted to skip to the pages that they were on! If anybody stood out in this novel, it’s that pair! At times you feel bad for them, and then you hate them, but then you feel empathetic… This roller coaster of emotions is from Ruth’s epic writing. Seriously, I haven’t felt this exhausted from my emotions about a book in a LONG time.

In some weird way, I could relate and emphasize with Marianne. The humiliation, the desire to fit in or be loved by someone, and her emotions being painted on the page all hit me in just the right way. I felt like I’ve been there before, in different ways. And, in my opinion, I think this is where the book is really going to draw it’s audience. I don’t often feel and relate to characters in books like this, but with Marianne… There’s something there.

Nora and Cai’s side of the story is also intriguing – the characters are changing throughout the story as they try to find Marcus. While Marcus and Marianne stood out, the journey Nora and Cai go on is a nice parallel. It brings us away from the brutality of Marcus/Marianne, which is much needed in this story. The romance, the drama and the beauty of their story is the perfect mirror! Kudos to Ruth for making this parallel so good!

Overall, this addicting story of pain and growth is mesmerizing! This series is definitely a must read if you want something darker and fantastical. I’d highly recommend it! It’s hard to find a dark series that takes on so many tough topics, and comes out on top!

There is one big con for me, and Ruth said it herself – I wanted to throw this book at the wall when I was done with it. But I was reading it on my iPad, and that is too expensive to throw. So, I didn’t throw the book at the wall, but I would have liked to.

Five out of five stars! Wowza!

I received this book for free from the author Ruth Miranda in exchange for an honest review.

 

 

Check out Ruth Miranda on Goodreads

 

Find the first book in this series, Blood, on:

Goodreads – Goodreads – Blood

Amazon.com – Amazon.com – Blood

Amazon.ca – Amazon.ca – Blood

Find the 2nd book, Scars, on:

Goodreads – Goodreads – Scars

Amazon.com – Amazon.com – Scars

Amazon.ca – Amazon.ca – Scars

Find more books by Ruth Miranda on Amazon:

Amazon.com – Ruth Miranda

Amazon.com – A Study for Love / Amazon.ca – A Study for Love

 

If you read this review, give me a shout out on Twitter! @reviewalholic