Category Archives: Adult Ficiton

Book Review: A Cowboy to Remember by Rebekah Weatherspoon

With a headline spot on a hit morning show and truly mouth-watering culinary skills, chef Evie Buchanan is perched on the edge of stardom. But at an industry party, a fall lands Evie in the hospital—with no memory of who she is. Scrambling to help, Evie’s assistant contacts the only “family” Evie has left, close friends who run the luxury dude ranch in California where Evie grew up. Evie has no recollection of them—until former rodeo champion Zach Pleasant walks into her hospital room, and she realizes his handsome face has been haunting her dreams . . .

Zach hasn’t seen Evie in years—not since their families conducted a campaign to make sure their childhood friendship never turned into anything more. When the young cowboy refused to admit the feelings between them were real, Evie left California, making it clear she never wanted to see Zach again. Now he refuses to make the same mistake twice. Starting fresh is a risk when they have a history she can’t recall, but Zach can’t bear to let go of her now. Can he awaken the sleeping beauty inside her who might still love him?- Goodreads

I had read the excerpt for this book through Netgalley some months ago and was pissed because I got sucked into the book and didn’t realize that it was a excerpt. This book takes your attention instantly and you just want more.

I liked this book but I didn’t love it. I liked the fact that the author took her time to build up the characters not just Evie and Zach but everyone. It was such a relief to see that the author didn’t rush the overall story. But with that being said, this book is slow. A whole lot of nothing happens for a very long time and I am not talking about the romance. Nothing really happened and with that being said the romance wasn’t spectacular either. It was hard for me to believe Evie and Zach and that was disappointing.

However, with that being said, I loved Zach’s brother and I hope that book two is from his brother’s point of view and his love story.

Overall, not a bad beginning to a series but there needed a bigger spark and much more investment to keep things going and going as strong as the beginning of the book was.

3 Pickles

Book Review: The Wrong Mr. Darcy by Evelyn Lozada and Holly Lörincz

St. Martin’s Griffin
TBP June 9th, 2020

This book is considered a modern spin on Pride and Prejudice.

Derick Darcy comes from a very wealthy family and decided to become a basketball player. This makes Hara feel as if he didn’t earn his spot on his team but used his influence to get there. Hara is a struggling sportswriter from a small town that has a secret of her own.

This book is better than The Perfect Date and that is saying a lot. However, before you even think about picking up this book, it has to be known that there are so many triggers in this book and they go as follows

  • Suicide
  • Miscarriage
  • Discussion of abortion
  • Violence
  • Abuse

I was surprised to see so much of that in there so a trigger warning would have been nice. But moving on. I thought the subtle references to Pride and Prejudice was great. It was very clear that this book used the theme of poor girl hating the rich, rich guy being skeptical of the poor, but they fall in love anyway and I was cool with it. The authors didn’t lay it on thick nor was it so blunt that it would make you roll your eyes.

What I liked about the book was the gross reality of being a woman in the basketball/sports industry. It was an insight into, what I believe is Evelyn’s world, and it was hard to read. The story has a better beginning, middle, and end. It made sense and the romance seemed very believable. There was more care in crafting this story. And I thought the sex scene was pretty good.

What I didn’t like about the book was Hara. Her dislike for Derick was unreasonable and she was rude like all the time. Derick had every right to be skeptical. He was a rich basketball player that was dealing with women who were only after his pockets. Was he rude? Sure was. However, not as rude as Hara.

I liked the book. I was surprised I liked the book. Other than me not liking Hara, I did feel that they through a lot in this book and a lot of it was left to hang dry. What I mean by this is there was no solution or ending to certain issues that Hara and Derick experienced. I had a lot of questions even reaching the end of the book. Speaking of ending, it was okay. I would have liked to see something more but it wasn’t a bad way to end the book.

Overall, it looks like the authors took their time with this one and that is showing growth as writers.

3 Pickles

Book Review: Riot Baby by Tochi Onyebuchi

Tor
TBP Jan. 21st 2020
176 Pages

Rooted in foundational loss and the hope that can live in anger, Riot Baby is both a global dystopian narrative an intimate family story with quietly devastating things to say about love, fury, and the black American experience.

Ella and Kev are brother and sister, both gifted with extraordinary power. Their childhoods are defined and destroyed by structural racism and brutality. Their futures might alter the world. When Kev is incarcerated for the crime of being a young black man in America, Ella—through visits both mundane and supernatural—tries to show him the way to a revolution that could burn it all down. – Goodreads

This is the first book I read by Onyebuchi. I know its horrible because he the author of War Girls and Beasts Made of Night. But I picked up this book because I love adult fantasy novels that incorporate real life issues.

The book is told in two perspectives, Ella and Kev. At first this was a little confusing not because of any transition but because of why. We start off with Ella as a child pre Kev and discover her power which is called The Thing. Instantly, I’m into it. When Kev comes around I am still into it because it comes at one of the turning points in American history.

But after the first five chapters, the book lost me and I couldn’t find the point/purpose of the story. Ella becomes a background and Kev is the focus for a while. Therefore, origins of her powers, any detailed information about her powers other than some things she can do isn’t mentioned at all. She becomes a shadow as well as her powers in 90% of the book and it was disappointing. There was no development of Ella and her powers and Kev wasn’t that like-able of a character. He became a product of environment even though he had a sister that literally could do anything. Again, disappointing.

The book focuses so much on environment that I could not find what was the point of the story? Was the point to show that even with super powers as a Black American your life will suck due to not only systematic racism but overall racism? But if that is the case, why not do anything with the super powers to show that?

The book had me lost. I was bored. There was no character development. Kev was a baby. Ella had no personality and was depressing and NEITHER of them tried to get to know their mother.

Overall, nah

1 Pickle

Book Review: Watching from the Dark by Gytha Lodge

Random House
TBP Feb 25th, 2020
352 Pages

Aidan Poole logs on to his laptop late at night to Skype his girlfriend, Zoe. To his horror, he realizes that there is someone else in her flat. Aidan can only listen to the sounds of a violent struggle taking place in the bathroom—and then the sound of silence. He is desperate to find out if Zoe is okay. But then why is he so hesitant to call the police?

When Aidan’s cryptic messages finally reach them, Detective Chief Inspector Jonah Sheens and his team take the case—and discover the body. They soon find that no one has a bad word to say about Zoe, a big hearted young artist at the center of a curious web of waifs and strays, each relying on her for support, each hiding dark secrets and buried resentments. Has one of her so-called “friends” been driven to murder? Or does Aidan have the biggest secret of them all?- Goodreads

Creepy. . . is probably the best word I can describe this book after I was finished, which was late in the evening.

It was a good read despite the creepy vibe I got from reading it. I think what made it creepy for me is the fact that it is told from alternate viewpoints including Zoe. Reading the last days of a woman you just saw murdered and reading it from her pov, was tough to read.

The pace of the novel was great. It is a classic who done it novel and there are so many options of who can do it. But here was my issue with this book, every single person (minus the detectives) were problematic, selfish and down right horrible to Zoe and she became who she was at the end by not only the killer’s action but those she held dear to her as well.

The author left a lot of openings for who could have done it and there were twists throughout the book. However, it was very clear that the author just didn’t know what to do with those characters and their development. After everything was said and done no one (but the killer) was held accountable for their any of their actions and it was disappointing to see.

This is what caused the book to go from a 5 to a 3.

Something I would like to note is that I did not read the first book and at no point did I feel I needed to. Detective Chief Inspector Jonah Sheens and his team were fantastic detectives and it would have been nice to see the author add more development on them. Their own personal lives were mentioned but nothing too deep, which is fine as the focus was the case. I feel that if you are going to talk about it make sure you back up what you say so there could be a reason why it was mentioned.

Would I say this book is predictable? Some. The author, as I mentioned, adds a lot of different paths where the ending can go but you aren’t exactly surprised at the end but what does surprises you is the how. Seriously, there are a few wow moments and all I could think about is “its not the destination, its the journey.”

Overall, very good read.

3 Pickles

Book Review: Grumpy Jake by Melissa Blue

Self-Published
November 8th 2019
104 Pages

Bailey Thorne doesn’t hate Jake the Rake, just despises him. She blames the rumor mill at her school…and, okay, him. His adorable son has only been in preschool, but Jake has already made an impressive dent in dating the unmarried faculty. She’s had to hear of his every exploit from the broken hearts he’s left behind. She was fine to loathe him from afar, but now his son has entered kindergarten–and she’s the teacher. It’s going to be a very long school year.

Jake Polaski was more than fine to avoid Ms. Thorne after it became clear she was not amused by his very existence. But then they get stuck in an elevator for an evening. He finds out that underneath that baleful glare she always gives him, lies a warm, funny and sexy as hell woman. He does his best to not be smitten after every exchange afterward. His son needs him rational, steadfast…and love is the most uncertain thing.

It was the elevator’s fault. Had it worked like it should, Bailey would have gone on with her life without seeing why so many of her co-workers had fallen for the grumpy single dad. (It’s his dry wit, his playful teasing and the drool-worthy cut of his jawline.) And now she’s caught in the way he doles out smiles and the dark depths of his secrets. If nothing else, she knows from rumor there’s a clock ticking on their affair before it implodes because things always do with Jake the Rake, but she can’t seem to walk away first. – Goodreads

I love everything about this cover. It is so fitting once you read the book. It is breath-taking in a way that you never see covers like this. And who ever the illustrator is fantastic job.

Now to the book. Its a novella and it is a well written novella that when I was finished I didn’t feel that I need more or questions needed to be answered. It flowed well, consistently and most importantly it was engaging.

Bailey was everything. I loved her the moment she started speaking. She was unapologetically her. She wasn’t bitter, she was energetic, smart and pure. I liked Jake too but not as much as I loved Bailey.

The novella moves fast but not so fast that you feel that the author is rushing or adding a lot of fillers. The romance is believable and at some points comical. Bailey and and Jake give their all into each other, unknowingly and for Jake, sometimes unwillingly. The lust was there and they sure as heck made sure that each other knew it was there but from the beginning there was something more. There was a caring that was unspoken but definitely felt.

It was written clearly with a beginning, middle, end in a form of consistency that is hard to find in novellas (not rolling off on a tangent).

I loved this novella. It was cute, genuine and packed a lot of punch. There was nothing more or less, I wanted. And even though it is a novella, I would say that this is a filler read i.e. books you read in-between larger books, because this book stayed on my mind for days. I cannot wait to read more from this author.

Overall,

4 Pickles

book overview 2019: The Disappointments

Part two of the four part book overview of 2019. If you haven’t taken the chance the look at the first post, which I display my favorite books and honorable mentions of the 2019, check it out here.

In this post, I listed some of my disappointed read of 2019. Oddly enough there was a lot and that could be due to me following the hype because one of my personal goals was to read more newer releases to keep up with the trends and hot topics. This caused expectations to be through the roof, which sucked.

But here is my list. What did your year look like?

2020 Cover Love

If you recall from last year (hehe) I did a series throughout the year called cover love to high new releases and their beautiful covers. Its 2020 and I am still keeping that ball rolling.

 

Beyond the fact that these books look gorgeous and will look absolutely stunning on my bookshelf, they sound fantastic.

What books are you looking forward to so far this year?

Book Review: Gun Island by Amitav Ghosh

Hamish Hamilton Published June 6th, 2019 288 Pages

Bundook. Gun. A common word, but one which turns Deen Datta’s world upside down.

A dealer of rare books, Deen is used to a quiet life spent indoors, but as his once-solid beliefs begin to shift, he is forced to set out on an extraordinary journey; one that takes him from India to Los Angeles and Venice via a tangled route through the memories and experiences of those he meets along the way.

There is Piya, a fellow Bengali-American who sets his journey in motion; Tipu, an entrepreneurial young man who opens Deen’s eyes to the realities of growing up in today’s world; Rafi, with his desperate attempt to help someone in need; and Cinta, an old friend who provides the missing link in the story they are all a part of. It is a journey which will upend everything he thought he knew about himself, about the Bengali legends of his childhood and about the world around him.- Goodreads

An extremely well thought out and beautifully written book. The author holds no punches when writing about the culture and describing the tale that drives the book.

What I loved about the book was Deen’s search for the truth about a tale that is passed down from generation to generation in India. This tale is so ingrained in Deen’s life that his obsession over it makes sense. The way it is described is that it is one of those tales that you are told to as a child through the local storyteller and it is a tale that keeps circling back generation after generation so it never loses steam.

The tale itself isn’t anything spectacular and as much as I would love to tell you more about it, I can’t. It would be spoiling parts of the novel. Anyway, the reason for my obsession and Deen’s as well, is the thought that there are physical objects/historical facts that make the story real. Its like finding out Superman actually existed and then finding out where he lived. I freaking loved this aspect of the book and it kept me going.

Although this novel is written beautifully and full of detail, it was long winded. Deen, himself, wasn’t that much of a likeable character and as I kept reading I realized that Deen didn’t really know a whole lot. Yes, he did the travels and gathered information but he lacked so much knowledge that I had to wonder, how is it that he can be a rare book dealer and have went to school specializing on storytelling and culture but knew almost nothing.

Another thing about this novel. . . there are a lot of subplots or themes that if you are not paying attention to you will miss. For instance, Deen’s views on Indian culture and their viewpoints in regards to religion. This is just one example but it is brief but powerful at the same time. Deen has a lot of things going on and the author explores each and everyone not necessarily leaving the reader with doubt but leaving them more with the question of do I want to know more about Deen or move on?

Overall, this a book you take your time on (the author makes sure of that). If you are looking for a tomb raider ish book, you’re not going to get it with this one. I enjoyed this book. Although the infamous tale that starts off this whole thing kept me reading, this book is not for everyone.

Oh! One more thing. I did not like the ending. It was too abrupt as if the author just looked at the page and decided he didn’t want to write anymore.

2 Pickles

Book Review: A Jewel Bright Sea (Mage and Empire #1) by Claire O’Dell

Rebel Base Books
TBP: Sept 3rd, 2019

It was her talent for tracking magic that got Anna Zhdanov sent to catch a thief. A scholar’s daughter sold as a bond servant, she has no desire to recover the Emperor’s jewel for herself. But a chance to earn her freedom has driven her to the untamed Eddalyon province, awash with warm breezes, lapping waves, and more danger than she could possibly guess.
 
Within days her cover as an indolent noblewoman is in question, and it’s clear there’s more to Anna’s task than she knows. Soon she’s the captive of the unpredictable pirate captain Andreas Koszenmarc, hunted by the Emperor’s guard, besieged by a brigand queen, and at odds with her only friend. She must trust someone if she is to survive. But when all that’s certain is that everyone is hiding something, it’s no simple thing to choose …- Goodreads

This is one of those reads that I reluctantly enjoyed. Nothing really happens until you are about 70% into the book which is a lot of time. Why I pulled through for so long? Because I knew it was coming. The author gives you a (very) slow build not in regards to the romance of the novel but the whole pirate adventure theme. I actually really enjoyed it and wished the author added much more of that excitement and magic way more in the beginning of the book.

In regards to the romance, it was unexpected because nothing gives way for anything to happen. It made sense but it was forced. There wasn’t any form of lust or want from Andreas or Anna at any point before the big explosion happened. I understand that maybe the author was putting a lot on them as characters so when they had downtime they could see each other but that method didn’t really do anything for me.

However, I did like their romance once it started and I did like the book right after it hit the 70%.

Overall, its one of those books that isn’t exactly good but you get drawn into it and start feeling yourself enjoying it. There is a book two and I hope that the author chooses other characters to focus on that are part of Andreas and Anna’s story as opposed to talking about them. I plan on reading book two.

3 Pickles

Book Review: Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Del Rey
Published July 23rd, 2019
352 Pages

The Jazz Age is in full swing, but Casiopea Tun is too busy cleaning the floors of her wealthy grandfather’s house to listen to any fast tunes. Nevertheless, she dreams of a life far from her dusty small town in southern Mexico. A life she can call her own.

Yet this new life seems as distant as the stars, until the day she finds a curious wooden box in her grandfather’s room. She opens it—and accidentally frees the spirit of the Mayan god of death, who requests her help in recovering his throne from his treacherous brother. Failure will mean Casiopea’s demise, but success could make her dreams come true.

In the company of the strangely alluring god and armed with her wits, Casiopea begins an adventure that will take her on a cross-country odyssey from the jungles of Yucatán to the bright lights of Mexico City—and deep into the darkness of the Mayan underworld. -Goodreads

Talk about rich in history! I fell in love with this book. As I am currently writing this review, I am struggling with what exactly how I want to say things. So let’s start with the history and the world building.

The Jazz age is mentioned within this book but it is not the focal point within the setting. Mexican history, its Gods, its moral compass, ethics and food are the focal point of the setting. Moreno-Garcia brings you into this world that is vibrant and even the dull environments have some sort of shine that you are just excited to see. The image of the world that Casiopea walks through is extremely clear and it is written in a way that is detailed without you feeling overwhelmed. I loved the fact the author added the moral compass of the time. Because it makes a huge difference to decisions made, the world and to Casiopea herself. This was very important part of the story and I am glad the author kept true to that time period by adding this. 

Speaking of Casiopea, I didn’t really care for her. She wasn’t a bad character. She was experiencing a form of freedom she has never had before and I liked the fact that she was taking it and taking as much of it as she could. How Casiopea was written is an important part of the story and there is nothing I would want to change about her but I don’t feel as if she was the point of the story. Let me explain. Yes she is the protagonist, she keeps the story moving and moving pretty well but my focus wasn’t necessarily on her. It was on everyone surrounding her. 

For instance, the Mayan god of death was a very interesting character. I wanted more of his view and more of his mission. Things weren’t easy for him or Casiopea but there could have been a more thrilling and more dramatic aspect to their mission. I really liked what the author did between Casiopea and the Mayan god of death. It is different from your typical novels that include a form of romance and really liked this moved. It felt genuine . .  it felt real because it was built and cherished.  

I loved the ending. It wasn’t what I was expecting but man it was perfect. It was one of those I never knew I needed it until it was there. . .  yeah that is exactly what it was.

Overall, fantastic plot, fantastic writing, easy to get into, easy to to see, feel and fall in love. The pace of the novel was good. The down time the book did have was filled with the history that I was craving. Super happy this is not a series and a standalone.

4 Pickles