#BookReview In The Company of Vampires by Katie MacAlister

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In The Company of Vampires is a romantic tale told by Katie MacAlister.

I love Katie MacAlister – she’s not your typical romance novelist. She writes about vampires, some of them from other times with very silly/interesting points of views, and her books are always hot and steamy. One summer, years ago, I binged as much of her and Gena Showalter as I could get my hands on (it helped that I didn’t have a part time job at the time, so literally all of my time was allocated to Katie, Gena, Rachel Vincent, and a few other novelists).

Fran and Benedikt are the leads of this book – if you haven’t picked up Katie MacAlister before, these two leads were going to be the main character in her Confessions of a Vampire’s Girlfriend YA series that didn’t go very far. I absolutely loved that little series, and was broken-hearted when I discovered it was not being continued. But then, Katie did what all the best novelists do, she brought them into the adult romance genre.

And OH MY GOODNESS did she deliver. This book was hot and steamy and everything I wanted it to be. She starts it off in a great manner – these characters haven’t seen each other for a while (which makes sense since the YA was cancelled and we never knew what actually happened to them, since it was a sudden stop). The drama, romance and steamy sex scenes that follow will melt you.

This book is fast paced, and it’s absolutely hilarious. Katie always adds a sense of humor into her books – so it’s not a serious romance novel. When you have vampires, crazy unrealistic drama and the supernatural around, you might as well add in some humor! All of that together ties in for a perfectly good guilty pleasure read! I’ve picked up this specific book quite a few times, because it’s my favourite out of all the Dark Ones series. And if you have read her previous books, yup, the vikings are back. Katie has a thing for vikings… You’ll figure that out the more you read her novels.

Overall, I love this series. It’s one of my giant guilty pleasures that I reread when I’m having a bad day. I definitely recommend this book if you want something easy to read, something funny, romantic or fast, or just want something that isn’t your typical romance novel.

Five out of five stars.

On a side note: I signed up for a lot of her goodies on her website years ago and I still never got it. I even got confirmation I would receive it. So I’m kinda sad, because I am OBSESSED with this series. But what can you do? Just keep in mind if you are trying to sign up for some of the goodies on her website.

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

Visit her website: KatieMacAlister.com

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Enjoy this review? Check out another one you might enjoy: Rogue Desires by Tamsen Parker, Adriana Anders, Amy Jo Cousins and more!

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#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 Hope Has Two Daughters by Monia Mazigh

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Hope Has Two Daughters by Monia Mazigh is a beautifully written historical fiction.

This novel is set in Tunisia and follows Nadia and her daughter Lila – these two women’s stories are intertwined over generations (1980s and 2010s) that will leave you feeling breathless. Riots, studying Arabic, family tensions and drama all drive this story forward by the beautiful story telling from Monia Mazigh.

This novel shows the evolving stories of the two women, and how they aren’t so different. Despite being apart of different times, the themes in their lives remain the same. This story shows you hope and survival in different times of struggle, and can be very motivational if you read it under the right context. While this book may not be a non-fiction novel, it almost feels so real with Monia’s descriptive and realistic writing.

This isn’t the best book I’ve ever read, but it was a good read. While it may not be a five star book in my eyes, seeing how much potential this author has makes the book worth it. Yes, it’s not super fast moving. And of course, there is room to grow within the story (some plot lines could have been left out, there could have been more description in certain areas) but it still makes for a great read. It’s not a book I would leave out of conversations – it is a recommended read from my end. That being said, Monia Mazigh has room to grow as an author, and I’m sure the next book will be even better than this one (no matter what she chooses to write, whether it be a continuation/similar story or a completely different one). If her next novels feel as personal and touching as this one, I’m sure they will be fantastic.

Three out of five stars.

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

 

 

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#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

#BookReview – The Mountain Story by Lori Lansens

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The Mountain Story by Lori Lansens

This action/adventure novel hits a home run in this genre and is a must read for those wanting a fast paced, adventure novel!

Normally, these types of books aren’t my thing but for whatever reason this book stuck with me and I could not put it down. I’m slightly annoyed I didn’t pick this book up early, because it was a fantastic read, leaving me to believe I absolutely need more Lori Lansens in my life.

This book isn’t just a survive out in the wilderness story – it has heart, a plot, and lots of backstory. There are definitely survival aspects, but it’s not just survival/wilderness porn. It’s a fantastic blend of action, adventure, suspense, mystery and a splash of romance (just a tiny splash). We follow our leads throughout the story revealing truths about themselves and developing their personalities and lives. It’s not cookie cutter or the norm, which is why this book is such a great read.

Why is it not a five star you may ask? There were definitely some slow/boring parts for me. There were a few times I put the book down and thought I might not pick it up, but decided that I needed to. Once you get past those few boring chapters, the book keeps chugging along at it’s fast pace.

This book has plot twists and turns that make it interesting – you think it’s going one way and then it swings in another – all while maintaining a PG/PG13 rating that I believe any reader will enjoy – not just adults, perhaps young adults too?

The book isn’t sensory in it’s description, but it’s well written that you can almost imagine yourself with the characters. I applaud Lori for writing this novel – it’s a fantastic read that I’ll definitely be recommending to fellow readers!

Overall, this fascinating novel is a truly spectacular ride! Four out of five stars!

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

#BookReview – Some Glow Brightly by John Palmer Gregg

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Some Glow Brightly by John Palmer Gregg

This novel was an interesting take on a very common YA trope – young narrator/lead has powers and only he can save the day (with the help of his companions of course).

We follow Red Snyder and his band of merry misfits in this YA novel. Red is special – he can see into the spiritual world – and after a tragic incident his powers are needed to help face the villain of our story.

I did enjoy this novel, despite the very common plot it was a well written universe that kept me interested. It didn’t blow my mind to rate it out of five, but it was a good read. I would definitely suggest YA readers who want something different/out of the norm to pick up this book. It’s well written, very descriptive and isn’t a romance based story. It has action, adventure and a bit of suspense/mystery in there as well.

If anything, I found that this story was a little slow for me. I like a fast paced story, and that dropped my rating down initially to a four. If it isn’t a fast moving story, it begins to bore me and makes it difficult to read. I did have to put this book down a few times for Facebook/Twitter breaks before I could go back just because it wasn’t super fast. But I was determined to finish it! This book was incredibly beautiful and John Palmer Gregg clearly put a lot of work into it!

I think John Palmer Gregg will developed into a great author – this book has so much potential and doesn’t fit the typical norm (despite the normal plot trope). The circus aspect of it intrigued me, and I would love to see this author expand into a more circus themed novel (not only the spirit world, although that plot line was en point as well). With all this potential, I definitely want to read more by John Palmer Gregg.

Overall, this book sat at a 3 by the end of the novel. It was fantastically written, but it was just to slow for me and the typical trope made me a little less interested. The spirit world and circus aspects deserve five stars though! Truly this was a beautiful book!! Keep writing John! I need more books by you in my hands ASAP!!

Three out of five stars.

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.