#BookReview Love on the Tracks by Tamsen Parker

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Love on the Tracks is another top tier romance by Tamsen Parker that should not be missed!

I’d hate to say it, but I love this book WAY more than The Compass series (and I was overly obsessed with that book). I didn’t think Tamsen could make me love a book or series more than her original, but she did!

This novel is a contemporary romance that follows a female sports star and a male pop star – something that makes so much sense, but I haven’t seen much in the books I’ve read. Our leads, Rowan and Zane, are a perfect duo that I definitely want to see more of in the future. Our setting, The Snow and Ice Games, introduces us to a unique setting – competition, sports stadiums, Olympic tones, etc. Our antagonists are not bad guys, and are merely trying to do their best under what they think is the right thing. Every inch of this story feels more realistic than most romances I’ve torn through in the past few years.

Positives:
1. Luge/Sports – I really liked the introduction of a sport that most people don’t really think about on a day to day basis.
2. Strong Female Lead – Yes, India was an excellent character written by Tamsen but she had her faults (which is what made her so good, FYI) but Rowan is stronger, knows what she wants and has her head on straight (for now, anyways).
3. Lighthearted, Engaging Story – I enjoy a sweet novel that doesn’t make you cringe at every turn. This book is so sweet, so simple, and an overall lovely story to make you feel good.
4. Respect – Also, if you haven’t noticed many novels don’t have the level of respect between the two leads like this book does. A+ for effort Tamsen!!

Negatives:
1. Speed – I found some portions of this book was a little fast (no spoilers), but there are more books in the series to explore different issues among characters, competitions, etc.

Overall, this book is a fantastic, romance read for all you romance enthusiasts! This book does not disappoint!!!

Five out of five stars!

I received a copy of this story through NetGalley for an honest review.

 

Did you enjoy this book? Check out another you might enjoy! #BookReview In Her Court by Tamsen Parker

Check out Tamsen Parker on Goodreads! Tamsen Parker on Goodreads

Or visit her website! TamsenParker.com

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#BookReview Twisted by Gena Showalter

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Gena Showalter’s Intertwined series is still one of my top YA series EVER…I’m almost heartbroken to write this review knowing that we may never get the final book…

Anywho, here we go! Here’s my review of Twisted (Intertwined #3) by Gena Showalter.

This book is a five star book from me despite the MANY issues this book seems to have. It’s five stars because I find the book highly addicting and really enjoy Gena’s writing. That being said, looking back on this book and knowing that there’s no final book…it really doesn’t deserve the five star rating (in my opinion). I will keep it at it’s five stars, but I will give an updated more recent (like 7-8 years later?) post-rating since I’m going through this book again.

Positives:
1. This book is a lot darker than the previous two, which helped make this series pop out and become more addicting in my mind.

2. Epic cover. What can I say? Sometimes you DO judge a book by it’s cover.

3. The sudden changes in the characters are both a positive and a negative. I liked the changes, it made some of the characters more likable and it developed their characters. But…the rest is said in the negatives. Of course, there’s a “but…”.

4. This book is action packed, and is definitely one of Gena’s best series. It moves fast enough to keep me interested.

5. I love the couple pairings in this series. This book doesn’t disappoint for expanding on these relationships and make them more addicting.

Negatives:
1. Our characters personalities seem to have randomly changed in this book. It didn’t follow as smoothly to the second book as the second did to the first. I would have loved a final book to explain why this happened…

2. Cancelled series. Yup – if you aren’t happy with cliffhangers, DO NOT READ THIS BOOK. If I would have known, I probably wouldn’t have read this series. I absolutely HATE books that end in cliffhangers or where plots are never resolved.

3. The ending.

The positives and the negatives are pretty even for this series, to be brutally honest. It’s a great read for someone who wants to get into Gena’s writing and see the different sides of her that aren’t just her giant Lords of the Underworld series. I would suggest this to those who want a quality YA read!!!

My new rating would be closer to 3.5, especially since Gena never even gave a hint to what the ending would be (since the next book is apparently “never” coming out, and it looks like a literal never at this point).

 

Visit Gena Showalter on Goodreads! Gena Showalter on Goodreads

Or visit her website! genashowalter.com

Visit my Goodreads page! Briar’s Reviews on Goodreads

Or check out another review you might enjoy! Quick Book Review: Mania (The Night Walkers #3) by JR Johansson

#BookReview Someone You Love Is Gone by Gurjinder Basran

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Someone You Love is Gone by Gurjinder Basran is a beautiful novel centered around grief.

Picking this book up, after losing my own Father years ago, was kind of like therapy. I was able to see someone else facing the exact thing I had (keep in mind a different gendered parent) and having a similar response to me. Gurjinder Basran does a fantastic job of showing how grief affects a person.

The small losses of temper, without meaning to was a big part of mine and my Mother’s grief. Seeing this happen was truly incredible – our main character Simran does not purposely yell at her daughter or her husband, it just happens. The emotions that go through someone when experiencing grief is very expressive in this book – and it shows how talented this author is.

I’d hate to say this book is like a “slice of life” novel, but it is – but a slice of grief and the life that comes after. So many sayings that you don’t think about – like how you just get used to grief and it doesn’t get better – are displayed in this story. Before someone dies, you say that but don’t realize how true those sayings really are. You don’t realize how haunting it is to be here and that person who’s in your memories and clothes are still in their closets are just not there – they don’t exist anymore. This beautiful novel shows all of this, and it almost made me cry thinking about how honest this book is compared to my own grief.

I relate a lot of Sim, and I think this is why the book speaks to me so much.

<spoiler> When her husband comes home from work only to get changed to go out for drinks for work, leaving Sim behind when she really needs someone (and her daughter goes back to school and won’t even hug her mother goodbye) speaks to me on so many levels. All of my friends and family ditched me as soon as my Father died, leaving me alone for the final month of high school. Literally alone. It speaks to me so much on so many levels to see THIS IS REAL. This was not just my small reality, but this can be others as well – even if this book is fictional. </spoiler>

Overall, this book is truly beautiful. I could go on and spoil everything, but I would rather just state my opinion to finish it off.

This book shows the gradual change in grief – immediately losing a parent, dealing with the emotions after, dealing with relationships during grief, trying to pick what’s best and how to grieve, and the finale of finally accepting it.

This book should be read by those experiencing or who have experienced grief to understand. This was far better than any therapist or book I was forced to read during my grief – those self help books are rarely helpful, let’s be honest.

Five out of five stars.

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

 

 

Check out Gurjinder Basran on Goodreads! Gurjinder Basran on Goodreads

Or check out her website! Gurjinder Basran

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#BookReview You Slay Me by Katie MacAlister

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#ThrowbackThursday time! Here’s another Katie MacAlister fave of mine!

 

 

Katie MacAlister first book in a riveting series is golden for romance/fantasy lovers everywhere.

It’s hard to believe You Slay Me was one of the first books in Katie MacAlister’s giant dragon universe (does it have an official name? All of the series within this universe? It probably does…). This book was the first of many cute, sexy, fantasy filled books focusing on dragons. And it’s safe to say – it’s fantastic! This is one of my many guilty pleasures that I keep on my shelf for when I’m having a rough day. It always makes me smile because it’s so sweet!

Katie is a funny writer – she’s not super serious, and that’s what makes this book work. It’s out of the ordinary (obviously, it has dragons and all sorts of crazy creatures in it) and totally addicting. It’s fast paced, full of ooey gooey romance, completely silly and filled with sexy men. It’s solid chick lit!!

I can definitely see some readers having faults with it – the book doesn’t take itself seriously. It’s full of funny tropes and understands that it’s a lighthearted, romance novel. But for me, it’s everything I want in more in a romance novel. I want happy endings, sexy scenes, hot men, quirky jokes and strong, sassy leads. Drake is a bit of a jerk, even I’ll admit that, but I like how his character progresses. I’m not sure how else Katie would have introduced these two in the realm of what this universe is, to be very honest.

So, overall, I love it! I’m kinda annoyed I haven’t been able to get to the very newest 2017 book yet because these books always make my day!

Five out of five stars.

Find Katie and all of her books on Goodreads: Katie MacAlister on Goodreads

Visit her website: KatieMacAlister.com

Or give her a shout out on twitter! @KatieMacAlister

Enjoy my reviews? Check out my Goodreads page! Briar’s Reviews on Goodreads

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Like this review? Check out another one you may enjoy! Book Review: His Custody by Tamsen Parker

#BookReview Captured by Maggie L Wood

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Who’s ready for #ThrowbackThursday review? This time, Captured by Maggie L Wood is on the pedestal! I read this back when it came out, so it’s thrilling to find it hiding on the back of my bookshelves to read again! Now, here’s the review:

 

Captured by Maggie L Wood is a fantastic retelling of a game of chess in a YA setting.

Back when there was an indie book store with fantastic deals, this book was one a giant cardboard cut out bookshelf with a for sale sign on it. At the time, I wasn’t a giant reader but I was getting bored with Twilight and vampire novels in general so I picked this book up. Little did I know, that I’d become obsessed, the third book would be in development for years and years and years and I’d forget this book was on the back of one of my shelves for YEARS. So, like I tend to do – I avoid my four giant to-read book shelves with physical copies and reread some old “classics”.

This YA book is truly incredible – yes it’s your typical romance, adventure, action and thriller story but instead of vampires or fairy tales – it’s chess!! I’m horrible at chess, but I love seeing someone make a book around it! It’s original, and while it’s probably been done before but I’ve never found the book, I really enjoyed it!

Our lead isn’t just some frail princess falling in love, no she’s ready to be a superhero in her own realm! At this time, most of the books I was reading were weak girls who just wanted a boyfriend. When I picked up this book and saw a strong heroine, I was amazed. And I still am! It’s such a great, unique story and it’s upsetting seeing that barely anyone has read or reviewed it!

This is a 110% recommended read from me. I would love to see more books by Maggie L Wood popping up on bookshelves all around the nation! She has a unique look on the world and her books aren’t the usual silly vampire story. If she had room to grow and write more books, I’m sure her writing ability would sky rocket and rival some of the best.

Five out of five stars.

 

Find Maggie on Goodreads: Maggie L Wood on Goodreads

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Enjoy my reviews? Check out my Goodreads page! Briar’s Reviews on Goodreads

Give me a shout-out on Twitter! Let me know your recent reads!!! Or give me some recommendations!  Briar’s Reviews on Twitter

Did you enjoy this review? Check out this one! Eighth Grade Bites by Zac Brewer

#BookReview – Dancing with Fireflies by Clemens Carl Schoenebeck

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Dancing with Fireflies by Clemens Carl Schoenebeck

This memoir is a beautiful retelling of the author’s life – specifically how it was to live with a mother with schizophrenia.

Mental Illness is a big part of today’s society – mainly because people have finally accepted that mental health is a big issue, bigger than people ever realized. Reading a book that is a biography about mental illness and how it was in the past was truly a beautiful experience for me. This book was beautifully written and unlike some biographies seemed brutally honest. It didn’t sugarcoat this man’s life – it was an honest retelling, and I truly respect that.

The descriptions of Clemens’s family as well as his Mother’s illness and hallucinations was incredible. It spread some light on a mental illness that I have no relation to – I never understood it (apart from a man with schizophrenia coming into my Grade 11 Health class to explain what it was), and this book really helped me better grasp what it actually is (not what soap operas tend to tell us).

There is many layers to novel – of course there are sad times, but there is also joy and humor at different parts. This man is not asking for sympathy or trying to make you cry, he’s opening your horizons to a new experience and life experiences many might not have seen or understood before. It’s also written so anyone can pick this book up. You don’t need to have a doctorate, you don’t need to only read YA – it’s made for anyone and everyone (adult/YA age groups of course, not for children but it’s definitely a PG story).

I also appreciated the pictures that went along with this story. It helped you connect deeper with Clemens and his story – there’s pictures of people with faces and emotions. It’s truly beautiful.

Overall, this is a motivational and inspirational book for me. It shows someone else’s life and gives you a sense of empathy – you can understand how having a mother with schizophrenia would be hard, but that was still Clemens’s Mother. She was a real woman in this real world.

Five out of five stars.

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

#BookReview So Near the Horizon by Jessica Koch

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So Near the Horizon by Jessica Koch is a sweet, simple, romance read.

There WILL be spoilers in this review, so beware!

Romance seems to be a hit and miss genre – there are FANTASTIC novels, and there are HORRIBLE novels. So Near the Horizon, on the spectrum, is just below fantastic. This story starts out as if it’s fiction – you don’t realize it’s based on Jessica’s life (I mean…her name and the character’s name are the same, but I honestly didn’t even notice. See how much I pay attention?).

Almost immediately our main characters meet, and the sass is real. I love the sassiness between Jessica and Danny,The abuse that was mentioned in the first few pages also left me kind of awestruck. You just meet someone and you say how your father hit you in the face with a bottle? Okay then… At least Danny’s honest?…

Our two leads, Jessica and Danny, are both pretty messed up. One minute they seem to be all over each other, and then next Danny’s treating Jessica like she’s garbage. You welcome her into your bed and sleep next to her all snuggled up, but then threaten to kick her out of your vehicle when you take her home? The bi-polar attitude of Danny made me not like him as a character and almost despise him. Jessica deserves better than some guy who flips his attitude whenever he feels like it. No matter his personal issues, he doesn’t need to act so nasty all the time. It’s almost like he’s nice only when it benefits him. And sending a radio after to apologize? And then confessing his love to her? On top of that, he’s almost always lying…. Yeah, this guy doesn’t sit well with me, in the beginning.

Even Christina rubs me the wrong way at the start – she’s got her own problems, but she’s a psychopath. She threatens to kill Jessica numerous times and no one even cares. The fact that she is threatening Jessica with death if she hurts Danny is absolutely, freaking, ridiculous. Christina has her issues, and she’s a broken character, but this running theme of having a bad life and being a total jerk to people makes me quite annoyed. Life can’t be all “sunshine and roses” (just like Christina says) but I feel like you can do better than hurting people since you’re hurting…Or maybe that’s just me.

I also find that there’s some repeated harassment that could have been avoided if reported. Out of everything in this novel, that drove me insane. Not that reporting always helps in real life situations…

I’m positive that my initial bad feelings towards this book are due to the whole Fifty Shades of Grey/Twilight controversy. There’s lots of books where the guys are just not great guys, but somehow win the girl in the end. Danny could be an EPIC character, but his flaws just seem so dark. It’s almost abusive in my eyes (and this is coming from someone who’s been through abusive relationships). Don’t get me wrong – Jessica is absolutely FANTASTIC and writes this novel well, I just don’t like the relationship. That’s nothing against her, because she makes it likable (to a degree). But then, you get to the end of the book and realize Danny’s not JUST a character. He was real, he’s a person, that was his real life attitude and actions (maybe not 100% because it’s a retelling of Jessica’s life with him, but you get the drift). People aren’t perfect, not like book characters. I went through this book hitting my head against the wall going “JESSICA, LEAVE THIS GUY! HE’S A JERK! HE’S NO GOOD FOR YOU” and then you find out his troubles, and you find out he’s REAL. This was a real guy who was dealing with real issues, and I felt for him. I was not myself when my Father died, nor when I dealt with horrible relationships in my life. I’m empathetic, because we’re not all perfect Nora Robert’s characters (I wish, sometimes that would make my job so much easier).

So, let’s get to the positives. I wrote up an entire list of negatives when I thought this book was fiction (do your research, don’t be like me who just jumps into a book). But, I threw them all out. When I realize this was real, why would I include negatives that don’t fit this narrative?

1. Sass – there is so much sass and humour, that I couldn’t put it down. There were the parts I was frustrated with, but I wanted to see the quirky conversations that were happening throughout this book.
2. It’s not cookie cutter – so many novels (fiction and non fiction) seem to fit the typical trope. Falling in love, happy life, everything is great, something goes wrong but it’s fixed, blah blah blah. This book shows what real life CAN Be like – it’s not totally “realistic” (these “characters” meet and get pretty flirty and close super fast, which isn’t always “realistic” for some people – but that’s life for you), it shows some of the darker sides of life, and I love it.
3. Character development – These characters develop over time, some a little slower than others. Seeing how life changes and what it did for these people…Oh man, my heart aches. I want to meet Jessica and give her a GIANT hug. To live through that changes a person…
4. HIV. That little fact flipped my opinion of this book quite a bit – I wasn’t expecting that to suddenly pop open. While it explains Danny’s behaviour, it doesn’t make some of his wild, horrible attitudes right. Yes, he has a HORRIBLE childhood, but does that give you the right to be a horrible person? What a conundrum.
5. The AIDS/HIV awareness – I like when books bring something into the spotlight, and this book did that with AIDS/HIV. The fact that it’s so heavily focused and doesn’t make it to be some sob story, but a real life story is honestly a wonderful change.

I had so hoped this story was fiction. It destroyed me – after losing my Dad to cancer I have become this emotional wreck that cries at everything sad or sentimental. AND JESSICA DESTROYED ME. Having a love so passionate, so deep (no matter what type of love) and losing someone…I’m hurting from this story. It’s so horrible but so beautiful…Thank you for this book Jessica. Honestly, thank you for letting me see a little piece of your life.

Overall, as a story it seems super rushed. If it were fiction, I’d be annoyed at the fast paced antics that goes on in a relationship. But is any relationship “normal”? Romance novels has ruined timelines for us, hasn’t it?

Five out of five stars. Yes, the relationship between Jessica and Danny was quite brutal, and the death threats infuriated me, but stories like THIS (real, honest and that bring something to the light like AIDS/HIV) NEED to be shared. Not want, NEED. We need more stories like this around, because this world’s big and scary, but stories like this show the true humanity. Oh boy, I’m just a mess writing this.

Thank you Jessica Koch, the amazing author, who sent me this book in exchange for an honest review. I truly appreciate it! It’s always mind blowing when people actually seek me out, and it really humbles me. Thank you!!!

 

Did you enjoy this review? Check out Jessica Koch on Goodreads! Jessica Koch on Goodreads

Did you know this book was originally written in German and was translated into English?

Check out Jessica Koch’s website! Jessica Koch’s Website