** Thank you Raincoast Books for my ARC **
Pub Date: Feb 25, 2020
My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
If you like:
✔scheming, scandalous characters
✔a game of clue (murder mystery)
✔ Flirtatious, slow burn romances
✔character driven stories
“They’ve never found the body of the first and only boy who broke my heart.
And they never will.”
I knew from the start I was gonna like this one! I mean, come on. Is that not a killer opener or what?! (Pun intended) 😆
I loved Alessandra! She was the perfect MC: ambitious, cunning, beautiful and unapologetic about her sexuality. A bit of a black sheep.
Her relationship with The Shadow King kinda reminded me of Tella & Legend from the Caraval series.
While I really enjoyed this one, I also wanted to see a bit more action! Particularly from the Shadow King. I wanted to see much more of his darker side and less of the daily happenings that took place at the palace.
Overall, it was a great standalone with an excellent cast of characters. I can’t wait to read all her other books!
Have you read it? Is it on your tbr? Have you read her other books? Alessandra is tired of being overlooked, but she has a plan to gain power:
1) Woo the Shadow King.
2) Marry him.
3) Kill him and take his kingdom for herself.
No one knows the extent of the freshly crowned Shadow King’s power. Some say he can command the shadows that swirl around him to do his bidding. Others say they speak to him, whispering the thoughts of his enemies. Regardless, Alessandra knows what she deserves, and she’s going to do everything within her power to get it.
But Alessandra’s not the only one trying to kill the king. As attempts on his life are made, she finds herself trying to keep him alive long enough for him to make her his queen—all while struggling not to lose her heart. After all, who better for a Shadow King than a cunning, villainous queen?
Genre: Coming Of Age Fiction
My Rating: DNF @ Chapter 6
Okay, seriously..what the F is going on?!! This is the second DNF in a row! 🤦♀️
This is one of THE hottest books and everyone from your mom, your neighbour, the bus driver (you get the picture), has read it or is reading it right now!
Again, I find myself another unpopular opinion, and probably the only person who actually didn’t like it. 🙈
The first chapter had me hooked, but it all went downhill from there.
This book had such great promise, but never delivered. It was SO not what I thought it was gonna be! I was expecting this amazing and powerful read like The Hate U Give.. Maybe that was the problem. My expectations were waay too high!
From chapter 2 and on, I kept waiting for the story to get better and something to happen, but it never did. I really didn’t care to hear about Alix’s life as a new mom or Emira’s night out with her friends. I wanted more of the night at the grocery store and it’s after affects! Not, Today’s Parent meets Cosmo magazine.
This was just one hot mess for me! From the choppy writing to the dialogue..ugh..
Have you read this one yet? Did you love it like so many others did?
Alix Chamberlain is a woman who gets what she wants and has made a living showing other women how to do the same. A mother to two small girls, she started out as a blogger and has quickly built herself into a confidence-driven brand. So she is shocked when her babysitter, Emira Tucker, is confronted while watching the Chamberlains’ toddler one night. Seeing a young black woman out late with a white child, a security guard at their local high-end supermarket accuses Emira of kidnapping two-year-old Briar. A small crowd gathers, a bystander films everything, and Emira is furious and humiliated. Alix resolves to make it right.
But Emira herself is aimless, broke, and wary of Alix’s desire to help. At twenty-five, she is about to lose her health insurance and has no idea what to do with her life. When the video of Emira unearths someone from Alix’s past, both women find themselves on a crash course that will upend everything they think they know about themselves, and each other.
Just so you know, my opinion is from a neutral standpoint, and up until it landed on my doorstep (which was right on pub date), I was completely oblivious to the controversy surrounding this book. Still, I wanted to be my own judge and read it.
What I liked..
– Great opening scene. Something you’d see in an action movie. My heart broke for Luca.
My issues with it..
-It wasn’t the bingeworthy read I was hoping for. It bordered on being overly descriptive, which made for a slower and tedious read. Quite frankly, I’d feel exhausted after only reading 2 chapters at a time.
– The kicker for me: I just wasn’t buying the insta friendship between Javier & Lydia. It felt forced into the story, especially where he reveals his feelings for her. It was laughable!
It reminded me of a cheesy scene from a daytime soap. I had to ignore the part of me that rolled my eyes, just to make it through that chapter.
And rather than trying to protect her husband by convincing him to pull the plug on his story, she goes on to defend her new found friend. It was infuriating.
A story this ambitious would have been told better through a different pair of eyes, like maybe the wife of Javier trying to escape the cartel.. THAT. Would have been WAY better.
– I had a hard time connecting with Lydia and feeling what I should have been feeling after watching her family get massacred. The emotions and terror that should have come along with the aftermath, didn’t come through for me. The gut wrenching pain of death, or that adrenaline rush of being spotted by the cartel..I didn’t feel any of that (and definitely wanted to).
Personally, I felt the story was lacking and ultimately resulting in disappointment. There were some good ideas and enjoyable scenes, but it wasn’t enough to keep me invested in wanting to continue.
Thanks to all the own voices advocates, I’ve discovered some new titles and added these to my list:
I AM NOT YOUR PERFECT MEXICAN DAUGHTER BY ERIKA L. SANCHEZ
THE BOOK OF UNKNOWN AMERICANS BY CRISTINA HENRIQUEZ
Lydia Quixano Pérez lives in the Mexican city of Acapulco. She runs a bookstore. She has a son, Luca, the love of her life, and a wonderful husband who is a journalist. And while there are cracks beginning to show in Acapulco because of the drug cartels, her life is, by and large, fairly comfortable.
Even though she knows they’ll never sell, Lydia stocks some of her all-time favorite books in her store. And then one day a man enters the shop to browse and comes up to the register with a few books he would like to buy—two of them her favorites. Javier is erudite. He is charming. And, unbeknownst to Lydia, he is the jefe of the newest drug cartel that has gruesomely taken over the city. When Lydia’s husband’s tell-all profile of Javier is published, none of their lives will ever be the same.
Forced to flee, Lydia and eight-year-old Luca soon find themselves miles and worlds away from their comfortable middle-class existence. Instantly transformed into migrants, Lydia and Luca ride la bestia—trains that make their way north toward the United States, which is the only place Javier’s reach doesn’t extend. As they join the countless people trying to reach el norte, Lydia soon sees that everyone is running from something. But what exactly are they running to?
** Thank you Simon & Schuster Canada for my advanced readers copy, and to Berkley Pub for providing me with an eARC via Netgalley **
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Suspense
My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Riddle me this: if I spent almost two decades abusing my daughter, why did she offer to pick me up today?If you like:
HOT DAYMN! My first 5-star read of 2020 and book I can’t shut up about!!
I knew I was gonna love this one from the very first page! If it weren’t for the need to sleep or care for a baby and my kids, I seriously would have blew through this in one sitting!
I’m still at a loss for words cause I’m currently hungover from this one. It’s hard for me to fully articulate my thoughts without giving away any spoilers. But I will say this: if I wasn’t feeling sorry for these characters, I was hating them and loved every moment of it! It took cray cray to a whole other level.
This was an incredible debut. I cannot wait to see what Stephanie Wrobel brews up next!
Have you read it? Is it on your tbr?
For the first eighteen years of her life, Rose Gold Watts believed she was seriously ill. She was allergic to everything, used a wheelchair and practically lived at the hospital. Neighbors did all they could, holding fundraisers and offering shoulders to cry on, but no matter how many doctors, tests, or surgeries, no one could figure out what was wrong with Rose Gold.
Turns out her mom, Patty Watts, was just a really good liar.
After serving five years in prison, Patty gets out with nowhere to go and begs her daughter to take her in. The entire community is shocked when Rose Gold says yes.
Patty insists all she wants is to reconcile their differences. She says she’s forgiven Rose Gold for turning her in and testifying against her. But Rose Gold knows her mother. Patty Watts always settles a score.
Unfortunately for Patty, Rose Gold is no longer her weak little darling…
And she’s waited such a long time for her mother to come home.
Genre: Post-apocalyptic fiction
My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
This story starts off exactly how you would picture the world to be if majority of it was wiped out by massive flood and destruction. I kinda felt like I was in a movie!
I usually hate slow burn reads, but I was heavily invested in Myra’s search for Row and wanted to see where her journey would take me.
He definitely got under my skin! I hated him from the very beginning and wanted to kick him in the balls! As the story went on, I kept hoping there would be some logical explanation for leaving.
She was equally as frustrating and unlikeable! Given the circumstances, the choices she made were understandable. But she was just so selfish!
Aah..I actually liked him, even though he had a secret of his own.
The things this woman has had to endure..pull at my heartstrings!
With Pearl being in the picture, we really see Myra’s struggles as a mom.
I had some minor issues with it and wouldn’t normally have chosen a book like this to read, but I found myself enjoying it and it was the perfect choice for our Bookish Ladies Club buddy read.
Have you read it? What did you think? Is it on your tbr?
A little more than a century from now, our world has been utterly transformed. After years of slowly overtaking the continent, rising floodwaters have obliterated America’s great coastal cities and then its heartland, leaving nothing but an archipelago of mountaintop colonies surrounded by a deep expanse of open water.
Stubbornly independent Myra and her precocious seven-year-old daughter, Pearl, fish from their small boat, the Bird, visiting dry land only to trade for supplies and information in the few remaining outposts of civilization. For seven years, Myra has grieved the loss of her oldest daughter, Row, who was stolen by her father after a monstrous deluge overtook their home in Nebraska. Then, in a violent confrontation with a stranger, Myra suddenly discovers that Row was last seen in a far-off encampment near the Arctic Circle. Throwing aside her usual caution, Myra and Pearl embark on a perilous voyage into the icy northern seas, hoping against hope that Row will still be there.
On their journey, Myra and Pearl join forces with a larger ship and Myra finds herself bonding with her fellow seekers who hope to build a safe haven together in this dangerous new world. But secrets, lust, and betrayals threaten their dream, and after their fortunes take a shocking—and bloody—turn, Myra can no longer ignore the question of whether saving Row is worth endangering Pearl and her fellow travelers.
THE LITTLE BOOKSHOP ON THE SEINE
Author: Rebecca Raisin
Publication Date: 1/7/2020
Publisher: HQN Books
This wasn’t my typical sort of read, but who could turn down a trip to Paris?!! Okay..so it was a fictional one, but I live vicariously through books and the setting was tres fab!!
Overall, this was an enjoyable read. It was easy and quick, with a touch of romance.
It’s The Holiday on the Champs-Élysées in a great big love letter to Paris, charming old bookstores and happily-ever-afters!
When bookshop owner Sarah Smith is offered the opportunity for a job exchange with her Parisian friend Sophie, saying yes is a no-brainer—after all, what kind of romantic would turn down six months in Paris? Sarah is sure she’s in for the experience of a lifetime—days spent surrounded by literature in a gorgeous bookshop, and the chance to watch the snow fall on the Eiffel Tower. Plus, now she can meet up with her journalist boyfriend, Ridge, when his job takes him around the globe.
But her expectations cool faster than her café au lait soon after she lands in the City of Light—she’s a fish out of water in Paris. The customers are rude, her new coworkers suspicious and her relationship with Ridge has been reduced to a long-distance game of phone tag, leaving Sarah to wonder if he’ll ever put her first over his busy career. As Christmas approaches, Sarah is determined to get the shop—and her life—back in order…and make her dreams of a Parisian happily-ever-after come true.
Rebecca Raisin is the author of several novels, including the beloved Little Paris series and the Gingerbread Café trilogy, and her short stories have been published in various anthologies and fiction magazines. You can follow Rebecca on Facebook, and at www.rebeccaraisin.com
With a heavy heart I placed the sign in the display window.
All books 50% off.
If things didn’t pick up soon, it would read Closing down sale. The thought alone was enough to make me shiver. The autumnal sky was awash with purples and smudges of orange, as I stepped outside to survey the display window from the sidewalk.
Star-shaped leaves crunched underfoot. I forced a smile. A sale wouldn’t hurt, and maybe it’d take the bookshop figures from the red into the black—which I so desperately needed. My rent had been hiked up. The owner of the building, a sharp-featured, silver-tongued, forty-something man, had put the pressure on me lately—to pay more, to declutter the shop, claiming the haphazard stacks of books were a fire risk. The additional rent stretched the budget to breaking level. Something had to change.
The phone shrilled, and a grin split my face. It could only be Ridge at this time of the morning. Even after being together almost a year his name still provoked a giggle. It suited him though, the veritable man mountain he was. I’d since met his mom, a sweet, well-spoken lady, who claimed in dulcet tones, that she chose his name well before his famous namesake in The Bold and the Beautiful. In fact, she was adamant about it, and said the TV character Ridge was no match for her son. I had to agree. Sure, they both had chiseled movie star cheekbones, and an intense gaze that made many a woman swoon, but my guy was more than just the sum of his parts—I loved him for his mind, as much as his clichéd six-pack, and broody hotness. And even better, he loved me for me.
He was the hero in my own real-life love story, and due back from Canada the next day. It’d been weeks since I’d seen him, and I ached for him in a way that made me blush.
I dashed inside, and answered the phone, breathlessly. “The Bookshop on the Corner.”
“That’s the voice I know and love,” he said in his rich, husky tone. My heart fluttered, picturing him at the end of the line, his jet-black hair and flirty blue eyes. He simply had to flick me a look loaded with suggestion, and I’d be jelly-legged and lovestruck.
“What are you wearing?” he said.
“Wouldn’t you like to know?” I held back a laugh, eager to drag it out. So far our relationship had been more long-distance than anticipated, as he flew around the world reporting on location. The stints apart left an ache in my heart, a numbness to my days. Luckily I had my books, and a sweeping romance or two helped keep the loneliness at bay.
“Tell me or I’ll be forced to Skype you and see for myself.”
Glancing down at my outfit, I grimaced: black tights, a black pencil skirt, and a pilled blue knit sweater, all as old as the hills of Ashford. Not exactly the type of answer Ridge was waiting for, or the way I wanted him to picture me, after so many weeks apart. “Those stockings you like, and…”
His voice returned with a growl. “Those stockings? With the little suspenders?”
I sat back into the chair behind the counter, fussing with my bangs. “The very same.”
He groaned. “You’re killing me. Take a photo…”
“There’s no need. If you’re good, I’ll wear the red ones tomorrow night.” I grinned wickedly. Our reunions were always passionate affairs; he was a hands-on type of guy. Lucky for him, because it took a certain type of man to drag me from the pages of my books. When he was home we didn’t surface until one of us had to go to work. Loving Ridge had been a revelation, especially in the bedroom, where he took things achingly slow, drawing out every second. I flushed with desire for him.
There was a muffled voice and the low buzz of phones ringing. Ridge mumbled to someone before saying, “About tomorrow…” He petered out, regret in each syllable.
I closed my eyes. “You’re not coming, are you?” I tried not to sigh, but it spilled out regardless. The lure of a bigger, better story was too much for him to resist, and lately the gaps between our visits grew wider. I understood his work was important, but I wanted him all to myself. A permanent fixture in the small town I lived in.
He tutted. “I’m sorry, baby. There’s a story breaking in
Indonesia, and I have to go. It’ll only be for a week or two, and then I’ll take some time off.”
Outside, leaves fluttered slowly from the oak tree, swaying softly, until they fell to the ground. I wasn’t the nagging girlfriend sort—times like this though, I was tempted to be. Ridge had said the very same thing the last three times he’d canceled a visit. But invariably someone would call and ask Ridge to head to the next location; any time off would be cut short.
“I understand,” I said, trying to keep my voice bright. Sometimes I felt like I played a never-ending waiting game. Would it always be like this? “Just so you know, I have a very hot date this afternoon.”
He gasped. “You better be talking about a fictional date.” His tone was playful, but underneath there was a touch of jealousy to it. Maybe it was just as hard on him, being apart.
“One very hot book boyfriend…though not as delectable as my real boyfriend—but a stand-in, until he returns.”
“Well, he better not keep you up half the night, or he’ll have me to answer to,” he faux threatened, and then said more seriously, “Things will slow down, Sarah. I want to be with you so much my soul hurts. But right now, while I’m freelance, I have to take whatever comes my way.”
“I know. I just feel a bit lost sometimes. Like someone’s hit pause, and I’m frozen on the spot.” I bit my lip, trying to work out how to explain it. “It’s not just missing you—I do understand about your job—it’s…everything. The bookshop sales dwindling, the rent jacked up, everyone going on about their business, while I’m still the same old Sarah.”
I’d been at this very crossroad when I’d met Ridge, and he’d swept me off my feet, like the ultimate romance hero. For a while that had been enough. After all, wasn’t love always the answer? Romance aside, life was a little stagnant, and I knew it was because of my fear of change. It wasn’t so
much that I had to step from behind the covers of my books, rather plunge, perhaps. Take life by the scruff of the neck and shake it. But how?
“You’ve had a rough few weeks. That’s all. I’ll be back soon, and I’m sure there’s something I can do to make you forget everything…”
My belly flip-flopped at the thought. He would make me forget everything that was outside that bedroom door, but then he’d leave and it would all tumble back.
What exactly was I searching for? My friends were getting married and having babies. Buying houses and redecorating. Starting businesses. My life had stalled. I was an introvert, happiest hiding in the shadows of my shop, reading romances to laze the day away, between serving the odd customer or two—yet, it wasn’t enough. In small-town Connecticut, there wasn’t a lot to do. And life here—calm, peaceful—was fine, but that’s just it, fine wasn’t enough anymore. I had this fear that life was passing me by because I was too timid to take the reins.
It was too hazy a notion of what I was trying to say, even to me. Instead of lumping Ridge with it, I changed tack. “I hope you know, you’re not leaving the house when you get home. Phones will be switched to silent, computers forgotten, and the only time we’re leaving the comfort of bed is when I need sustenance.” A good romp around the bedroom would suffice until I could pinpoint what it was that I wanted.
“How about I sort out the sustenance?” he said, his voice heavy with desire. “And then we’ll never have to leave.”
“Promises, promises,” I said, my breath hitching. I hoped this flash of longing would never wane, the sweet torture of anticipation.
“I have to go, baby. I’ll call you tonight if it’s not too late once I’m in.”
“Definitely call tonight! Otherwise, I can’t guarantee the book boyfriend won’t steal your girlfriend. He’s pretty hot, I’ll have you know.”
“Why am I jealous of a fictional character?” He laughed, a low, sexy sound. “OK, tonight. Love you.”
“Love you too.”
He hung up, leaving me dazed, and a touch lonely knowing that I wouldn’t see him the next day as planned.
I tried to shake the image of Ridge from my mind. If anyone walked in, they’d see the warm blush of my cheeks, and know exactly what I was thinking. Damn the man for being so attractive, and so effortlessly sexy.
Shortly, the sleepy town of Ashford would wake under the gauzy light of October skies. Signs would be flipped to open, stoops swept, locals would amble down the road. Some would step into the bookshop and out of the cold, and spend their morning with hands wrapped around a mug of steaming hot tea, and reading in any one of the cozy nooks around the labyrinth-like shop.
I loved having a place for customers to languish. Comfort was key, and if you had a good book and a hot drink, what else could you possibly need to make your day any brighter? Throw rugs and cushions were littered around seating areas. Coats would be swiftly hung on hooks, a chair found, knitted blankets pulled across knees, and their next hour or two spent, in the most relaxing of ways.
I wandered around the shop, feather duster in hand, tickling the covers, waking them from slumber. I’m sure as soon as my back was turned, the books wiggled and winked at one another, as if they were eager for the day to begin, for fingers of hazy sunlight to filter through and land on them like spotlights, as if saying, here’s the book for you.
Imagine if I had to close up for good, like so many other shops had in recent times? It pained me to think people were missing out on the real-life bookshop experience. Wasn’t it much better when you could step into a dimly lit space, and eke your way around searching for the right novel? You could run a fingertip along the spines, smell that glorious old book scent, flick them open, and unbend a dog-eared page. Read someone else’s notes in the margin, or a highlighted passage, and see why that sentence or metaphor had dazzled the previous owner.
Secondhand books had so much life in them. They’d lived, sometimes in many homes, or maybe just one. They’d been on airplanes, traveled to sunny beaches, or crowded into a backpack and taken high up a mountain where the air thinned.
Some had been held aloft tepid rose-scented baths, and thickened and warped with moisture. Others had childlike scrawls on the acknowledgment page, little fingers looking for a blank space to leave their mark. Then there were the pristine novels, ones that had been read carefully, bookmarks used, almost like their owner barely pried the pages open so loath were they to damage their treasure.
I loved them all.
Excerpted from The Little Bookshop on the Seine by Rebecca Raisin. Copyright © 2015 by Rebecca Raisin. Published by HQN Books.
My Rating: ⭐⭐ ( DNF @ 41 pages )
Not sure how I missed posting this here on my blog last month, but here it goes..
Guys! I think I just found the book that can cure insomnia!!! Seriously! This just made my top list of boring reads and I’m so disappointed. Talk about a waste, cause I purposely bought the fairyloot edition and was really excited to read it.
Aside from the beautiful setting of New Orleans and a girl getting brutally murdered on the docks (which earned it the 2 star rating), I have no idea why this book took place in the 1870’s. It felt too modern to be historical.
My other issue with this one was the repetition of Celine running away from her past. Yes..I know..she has some dark secret! If you’re gonna mention it that many times, just frikkin spit it out already!!
Have you read it? Did you love it like everyone else? Or are you an unpopular opinion like me?
In 1872, New Orleans is a city ruled by the dead. But to seventeen-year-old Celine Rousseau, New Orleans provides her a refuge after she’s forced to flee her life as a dressmaker in Paris. Taken in by the sisters of the Ursuline convent along with six other girls, Celine quickly becomes enamored with the vibrant city from the music to the food to the soirées and—especially—to the danger. She soon becomes embroiled in the city’s glitzy underworld, known as La Cour des Lions, after catching the eye of the group’s leader, the enigmatic Sébastien Saint Germain. When the body of one of the girls from the convent is found in the lair of La Cour des Lions, Celine battles her attraction to him and suspicions about Sébastien’s guilt along with the shame of her own horrible secret.
When more bodies are discovered, each crime more gruesome than the last, Celine and New Orleans become gripped by the terror of a serial killer on the loose—one Celine is sure has set her in his sights . . . and who may even be the young man who has stolen her heart. As the murders continue to go unsolved, Celine takes matters into her own hands and soon uncovers something even more shocking: an age-old feud from the darkest creatures of the underworld reveals a truth about Celine she always suspected simmered just beneath the surface.