Tag Archives: romance

Book Review: Night Shine by Tessa Gratton

McElderry Books
TBP Sept 8th 2020

In the vast palace of the empress lives an orphan girl called Nothing. She slips within the shadows of the Court, unseen except by the Great Demon of the palace and her true friend, Prince Kirin, heir to the throne. When Kirin is kidnapped, only Nothing and the prince’s bodyguard suspect that Kirin may have been taken by the Sorceress Who Eats Girls, a powerful woman who has plagued the land for decades. The sorceress has never bothered with boys before, but Nothing has uncovered many secrets in her sixteen years in the palace, including a few about the prince.

As the empress’s army searches fruitlessly, Nothing and the bodyguard set out on a rescue mission, through demon-filled rain forests and past crossroads guarded by spirits. Their journey takes them to the gates of the Fifth Mountain, where the sorceress wields her power. There, Nothing will discover that all magic is a bargain, and she may be more powerful than she ever imagined. But the price the Sorceress demands for Kirin may very well cost Nothing her heart- Goodreads

I enjoyed this book but there was a major red flag for me. This book was presented to me as #ownvoices but from the summary and from reading the book it is very clear that this book is based on a form of Asian culture.  From what I know of the author she is White and living in Japan.  So being called #ownvoices through me off by a lot.

Unless its #ownvoices for LGBTQ aspect of this novel. I am not sure. This is my first novel by this author so if anyone can provide some insight to that it would be great. Now let’s talk about the book.

I really liked it. It is unlike any other fantasy I have read and it is as romantic as it is magical.  It focuses on world building and character development.  Does action scenes happen? Yes, but not as frequent as you would think in a world with magic.  I am chalking it up to writing skills because I was invested in this story-line.

However, there is a lot of back and forth in this novel. Nothing does all of it herself and although it is for good reason, going thirty chapters of her being not sure of anything is a bit much.  Did I put this book down? Yes, actually a few times and because things didn’t just slow down they almost stopped for me. The intensiveness that I felt in the first half of the book dwindled  and the lack of “action” did not help with that either.

But beyond this, I loved the romance displayed in the novel. Nothing grows to discover what love is and what is isn’t and that is comes in different times and forms. And also Nothing is fairly entertaining to read. She is quick on her feet, curious and oddly enough very objective. I liked her.

Overall, I was surprised by this book but in a good way.

3.5 Pickles

 

Blog Tour | Book Review & Interview | Cherrington Academy by Rebecca J Caffery

As mentioned in the subject this post will contact both a book review and an interview :)

Book Review

SRL Publishing
Published August 25th, 2020
272 Pages

Logan’s the new boy at Cherrington Academy, a boarding school that’s promised to provide him with a safe haven away from homophobic bullies and neglectful parents. He’s left all that 2000 miles away.

What he doesn’t expect Cherrington to provide is; a bunch of friends who want to adopt him, a mysterious roommate who’s never home and a gorgeous guy with a secret crush on him.

His perfect new life begins to unravel when he discovers a web of secrets amongst his friends. Plus his roommate? Partial to blackmail. That gorgeous guy? Well, he’s taken by one of Logan’s now closest friends.

Can Logan shut off his feelings to protect his new friendships and the happiness he’s found at Cherrington Academy? Or is love really just all-consuming?- Goodreads

What can I say about this book other than how great it was. What I enjoyed the most about this book was the characters. They were well written and most importantly they had depth, they added to not just Logan’s (MC) story but to the world building and they had some development.

There is a lot that goes on within the novel, however, it does feel over-complicated nor does it feel as if the author threw in a lot of fluff to keep the book going. Everything connected and made sense (including the blackmail) and I am glad it did because when I read the summary I was a bit concerned about that.

I liked the pace of the novel. For most contemporaries, things tend to be drawn out due to the drama. And although there is drama in the novel, it moves very well. The romance was not bad either. But the characters, all of them, were fantastically written.

Overall,

3.5 Pickles

Quick Five Interview

Firstly, congratulations on your first published novel!

Image Taken via Goodreads

How was the process leading up to this moment? What positives, what difficulties did you face either writing, promoting, or publishing your book?

I think I have genuinely been so lucky with publishing that it has pretty much been an absolute ball of a time for me. I was incredibly blessed to be signed with SRL Publishing who have been the most amazing publishers to work with. They’ve listened to every idea that I’ve had for my story from the actual writing and editing of it, to the front cover and to letting me have a ridiculously long acknowledgements page. In terms of actually writing the story,

I loved it so much. The main difficulties that I faced were during the first stage of writing. I had all the ideas and an outline and character profiles ready to go, but I had no clue where to start.

Turns out the starting of it was definitely the hardest thing for me. I started writing in third person POV and about 45k words in I realised it wasn’t the right fit for my book, but I had no clue how to rectify it or change it. So instead I abandoned the book for around 7-8 months until I had a new plan and realized that I needed to move over to first person POV.

Some of the positives that I’ve faced were the absolute joy in working with my cover designer for Cherrington, Hayley is an angel and I’m always going to be so impressed with it and grateful for her! In terms of writing, damn I enjoyed every bit I can’t lie, I am so crazy that I absolutely just loved writing the book as it was my very first book baby and I just fell in love with the characters and the story.

 It is noted in your bio that it was not until you moved to Canada that you were inspired to write Cherrington Academy. What exactly in that change of environment or in general inspired you?

My study abroad year in Canada in 2017/18 was exactly what I needed, without actually knowing it was what I needed. I was incredibly anxious about moving to another country for a whole year with no family and friends close by, but it was the best thing I ever did. It bought me completely out of my comfort zone which led me to feel like I could pretty much do anything. That included the book that I’d been longing to write forever.

I also thinking living in a North American style dormitory with a roommate and a dining plan and everything else that comes with that environment also really inspired the boarding school element of Cherrington Academy as it helped me to feel like I have a decent experience of living in one.

I was also just surrounded by amazing people that I became incredibly good friends with and still am even though I no longer live there. The whole environment of Canada just inspired me to be creative and really get stuck into writing Cherrington Academy.

How do you separate being a writer and a reader when you are writing your book?

This is such a good question. I feel like I have two answers for it. Sometimes I definitely think that you need to separate yourself from being a reader and a writer, especially during the editing stages as I want to be focused a lot on format, spelling, grammar, whether the story actually makes any sense.

However, when writing the story and especially when planning the story, I really do feel like being a reader and a writer is important.

As I want to be writing a book that is readable, that an audience is going to love and is actually a proper story, so I do feel like being a writer and a reader is necessary during these stages of writing my book.

Where do you see yourself as a writer in the next five years?

In the next five years I would love to have three or four books out. With Cherrington and the sequel Coming Home both coming out within the next year I definitely think that this is a good start towards this goal of at least three, maybe even four books being published.

I would also really like to have my writer website up and running, as I have dramatically failed at getting that going again this year. Another thing I’d really like to be doing more of as a writer, is writing short stories! I wrote my first one this year and submitted it to a competition and although I didn’t win, I had such a ball writing it that I’d love to write some more.

I also wrote a really random poem this year, it was very heartfelt and somewhat emotional, but again I also really loved dabbling in poetry so maybe I’ll even write some more poetry in the next five years.

Finally, what do you want readers to take with them when they finish your book?

I really hope they take my book as a little slice of life into a mid-late teen’s life. When writing this book, I really wanted it to be real and gritty and not a book that just portrayed teens lives to be fun and easy and just all about love being simple. Because it isn’t. I hope that came across; I really did. I wanted to portray LGBT characters in real situations, rather than Cherrington just being a coming out story.

I also wanted to deal with some of the stigma around male mental health and emotions and showing that there is support out there and that you should not be afraid to cry as a man or reach out for therapy.

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Book Review: Secret Crush Seduction by Jayci Lee

Harlequin Desire
TBP Sept. 8th, 2020
224 Pages

Aspiring fashion designer Adelaide Song wants to prove she’s more than just a pampered heiress. All she needs is a little courage—and the help of deliciously sexy Michael Reynolds, her childhood crush and her brother’s best friend.

But when her secret crush turns into an illicit liaison, Adelaide realizes mixing business with pleasure spells trouble for all her plans…- Goodreads

This is my first book by Jayci Lee and it will not be the last. What I love about this book is how straight forward the romance is. Even when “the drama” comes into the story the romance between childhood friends is true and consistent. It takes bit but both of them know what they want. The problem is should they and it isn’t because of the brother’s best friend aspect; it is way much more than that.

Beyond the fact that the romance was straight forward, what I liked about this book was Adelaide and Michael actually working. Although Adelaide did act like a child at times, she knew her stuff and made sure she showed out. I loved the fact that both of them made sure their job would get done before they did their good. Don’t get me wrong they may have tried some stuff while on the clock but they kept it professional when it was down to it.  I liked seeing them work.

The pace of the novel wasn’t bad. It was a semi slow build up. When things began to heat up, the pace of the novel didn’t change and the tone remained the same. That sense of urgency and tension was fading about half way through the novel.

I would have liked to see more of a relationship with her Grandmother or at least more of a background of it. This could have been in the first book but as this book focused on Adelaide, I would have liked to see them more together as opposed to it popping up when the author needed a distraction.

Overall, this was a nice read and some steamy scenes.

3 Pickles

Book Review: The Way To His Heart: Unexpected Love Book 2 by Genesis Woods

M Squared Publications
Published Nov. 9th, 2019
158 Pages

They say that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, but for Chef Bellamy Jones, it’s going to take a little more than a soul food infused crepe suzette to catch the man of her dreams or catapult her career to the next level.

When a very popular and well respected food critic visits Bellamy’s restaurant to critique her ingenious take on French cuisine, she soon questions her love for all things culinary after the infamous Ren Phillips less than stellar review on her food is released for the world to see.

A chance run in between the two not only explodes into a TMZ worthy headline, but it also sheds some light on a sweet little treat Bellamy thought she’d never have to share with anyone else but herself.- Goodreads

I sat on doing this review a few days after I read it. And normally, I don’t show the rating before the end of the review but I have to start there.

This book gets 4 Pickles

I loved this story but its too damn short. The author is able to tie everything together, build interest in not only Bellamy and Ren but all surrounding characters. But everything was in short bursts. I wanted to see more of how their relationship developed as opposed it it just happening. I wanted to know more about Bellamy’s relationship with her mother, Ren’s relationship with his father because everything was written so freaking well even the food.

What I loved about this book, what I truly loved was the diverse characters. Not talking about race. But Bellamy has a sister that is full blown comic book nerd and a best friend who is professional public relations specialist. Each of them are their own person and they only help to ground and agitate Bellamy. I loved their dynamics but I also loved how everything just made sense. Bellamy wasn’t a bitter woman still upset at what happened. She was focused and in need of love (as well as Ren).

My review seems a bit short but that is fine because other than the fact that this book was too short, I love everything about it. As a note, I didn’t read the first book of the series but at no point did I feel like I had to. I have every intention of reading the rest of the series.

So again, my rating . .  overall,

4 Pickles

Book Review: Girl Gone Viral by Alisha Rai

Avon
Published April 1st, 2020
400 Pages

One minute, Katrina King’s enjoying an innocent conversation with a hot guy at a coffee shop; the next, a stranger has live-tweeted the entire episode with a romantic meet-cute spin and #CafeBae is the new hashtag-du-jour. The problem? Katrina craves a low-profile life, and going viral threatens the peaceful world she’s painstakingly built. Besides, #CafeBae isn’t the man she’s hungry for…

He’s got a [peach emoji] to die for.

With the internet on the hunt for the identity of #CuteCafeGirl, Jas Singh, bodyguard, friend, and possessor of the most beautiful eyebrows Katrina’s ever seen, comes to the rescue and whisks her away to his family’s home. Alone in a remote setting with the object of her affections? It’s a recipe for romance. But after a long dating dry spell, Katrina isn’t sure she can trust her instincts when it comes to love—even if Jas’ every look says he wants to be more than just her bodyguard…– Goodreads

This is my first book by Alisha Rai. I would like to note that this is the second book to her Modern Love series. Although they are separate stories with references to the first book, I did feel like I should have read the first book. When I was reading, I felt like I was missing something and I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. With that being said, I probably would have found this more enjoyable if I would have read the first book.

But moving forward this book was cute. Although at times seeing Jas and Katrina act like middle school kids was frustrating, I enjoyed the slow build. If you aren’t interested in slow builds, you will not like this book because it is slow.

I liked Jas way more than I liked Katrina and it is not because she has so much going on. She is just boring. Adorable but boring. Jas was not only attractive, he was talented, spoke three different languages, had depth but was comfortably simple. I adored him and loved the fact that I was able to read from his point of view.

Beyond Katrina being stale, I am just going to say reading about her or Jas having sex was extremely uncomfortable for me. Not because I don’t read sexual activity in books but because it felt forced and it felt like the author just put it in there to appease the masses. It didn’t feel genuine at all. It read like the author was uncomfortable writing it.

*sigh*

But overall, this wasn’t a bad read. It was okay, cute (ish). It would have been nice if Katrina had more personality and if there was more chemistry.

2 Pickles

 

Book Review: You Had Me at Hola by Alexis Daria

Avon
TBP July 7th, 2020
384 Pages

After a messy public breakup, soap opera darling Jasmine Lin Rodriguez finds her face splashed across the tabloids. When she returns to her hometown of New York City to film the starring role in a bilingual romantic comedy for the number one streaming service in the country, Jasmine figures her new “Leading Lady Plan” should be easy enough to follow—until a casting shake-up pairs her with telenovela hunk Ashton Suárez. 

Leading Ladies don’t need a man to be happy. 

After his last telenovela character was killed off, Ashton is worried his career is dead as well. Joining this new cast as a last-minute addition will give him the chance to show off his acting chops to American audiences and ping the radar of Hollywood casting agents. To make it work, he’ll need to generate smoking-hot on-screen chemistry with Jasmine. Easier said than done, especially when a disastrous first impression smothers the embers of whatever sexual heat they might have had. 

Leading Ladies do not rebound with their new costars. 

With their careers on the line, Jasmine and Ashton agree to rehearse in private. But rehearsal leads to kissing, and kissing leads to a behind-the-scenes romance worthy of a soap opera. While their on-screen performance improves, the media spotlight on Jasmine soon threatens to destroy her new image and expose Ashton’s most closely guarded secret.- Goodreads

I too had an obsession with American soap operas. However, One Life to Live was my favorite one of all time and it was because of three men;  Antonio (Kamar de los Reyes) and Cristian (David Fumero) Vega and Todd Manning (Roger Howarth). The Vega brothers were everything to me. I live to watch their stories and Todd. . . he was a mess but a mess with a soft heart.

This book. . . made me remember all of that.

First let me say how well this book was written. Not only do you get both Jasmine and Ashton’s point of views but you also read the show; basically you are seeing reading two stories at the same time. So you’re getting a bang for your buck.  The transitions are clear and smooth. The writing is engaging, extremely detailed without the drag and there is a balance of color and culture. What I mean by that is the author is trying to tell a love story and within that love story give you a glimpse of the culture while not stressing the politics of the culture. Honestly it was refreshing. I say that with no insult. I say that because its nice to read a diverse book without a struggle. We see it all the time in books by Black authors, Hispanic authors and any non straight, white authors. This book was refreshing.

Jasmine and Ashton have pure, makes sense chemistry. There is an instant attraction that wouldn’t say is lust.  But they are grown adults (with baggage) that responsible (ish). There are definitely some drama within their relationship but it doesn’t happen as sudden as other romances.

Beyond their chemistry, Jasmine and Ashton were great characters with their own personalities that were different from each other but complimented each other.  They didn’t allow their individuality to change or shape their relationship. I love that. Too often you see someone in a relationship trying to be someone different because of the person they are with.

Both of them experience growth, not just at the end but also as you read. Also the author makes reference to their past growth (at least on Jasmine’s end).

I loved this novel and have every intention of buying a physical copy for my library.

Overall,

4 Pickles

Book Review: Real Men Knit by K.M. Jackson

Berkley
TBP May 19th, 2020
320 Pages

When their foster-turned-adoptive mother suddenly dies, four brothers struggle to keep open the doors of her beloved Harlem knitting shop, while dealing with life and love in Harlem.

Jesse Strong is known for two things: his devotion to his adoptive mom, Mama Joy, and his reputation for breaking hearts in Harlem. When Mama Joy unexpectedly passes away, he and his brothers have different plans on what to do with Strong Knits, their neighborhood knitting store: Jesse wants to keep the store open; his brothers want to shut it down.

Jesse makes an impassioned plea to Kerry Fuller, his childhood friend who has had a crush on him her entire life, to help him figure out how to run the business. Kerry agrees to help him reinvent the store and show him the knitty-gritty of the business, but the more time they spend together, the more the chemistry builds. Kerry, knowing Jesse’s history, doesn’t believe this relationship will exist longer than one can knit one, purl one. But Jesse is determined to prove to her that he can be the man for her—after all, real men knit. – Goodreads

I was very excited for this book. Focusing on a man who not only was adopted but is dealing with grief and knows how to knit, were topics that I was all for. But by the end of the book I was disappointed. I wasn’t disappointed because of lack of writing skills or pace but more so this book felt like a foundation to a bigger novel. So many different topics were passed over. I wanted more details in Mama Joy’s past, background information on the store, more character background and more character description.

I found it really hard to believe that Mama Joy did not teach or leave any information about how to run her business with her boys or even on paper. Kerry knew pretty much everything but it still baffled me how ‘Mama Joy did not write anything down. So that was on my mind but also the fact that the reader knows nothing about the store itself. If the author took more time to give the store a story, I would have believed this story much more.

Also character development as well as character background is pretty much non-existent. The whole issue/conflict in the novel is lack of communication. Kerry stresses so much that she is a grown woman but acts like a middle schooner throughout the entire book. I don’t understand why.

What did love about the book was the slow burn romance. I didn’t think the conflict of the novel was going to be lack of communication and more so Jesse sleeping with most of the city, so it was interesting that the author highlighted that but didn’t make that the issue. Like the author was very specific on who he slept with as well as their interactions with Kerry.

The breakout character for me was actually Jesse’s brother Damian. I really was intrigued by his hard ass and anger. I would love to read his story next.

With that being said, this wasn’t a bad book and I would recommend it as a introduction to this author. I just wish there was more added to it.

Overall,

2 Pickles

Book Review: The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea by Maggie Tokuda-Hall

Candlewick Press
TBP May 5th, 2020
368 Pages

Aboard the pirate ship Dove, Flora the girl takes on the identity of Florian the man to earn the respect and protection of the crew. For Flora, former starving urchin, the brutal life of a pirate is about survival: don’t trust, don’t stick out, and don’t feel. But on this voyage, as the pirates prepare to sell their unsuspecting passengers into slavery, Flora is drawn to the Lady Evelyn Hasegawa, who is en route to a dreaded arranged marriage with her own casket in tow. Flora doesn’t expect to be taken under Evelyn’s wing, and Evelyn doesn’t expect to find such a deep bond with the pirate Florian.

Soon the unlikely pair set in motion a wild escape that will free a captured mermaid (coveted for her blood, which causes men to have visions and lose memories) and involve the mysterious Pirate Supreme, an opportunistic witch, and the all-encompassing Sea itself.- Goodreads

There is a lot going on in this novel but happily enough the author broke down this book into different POC and sections. I loved that because it shows skills as a writer.

There is a lot of character building in this novel and it stresses the fact that not everyone is who/what they seem. I liked Flora. For everything that she had to do in order to live, to help her brother and Evelyn, she was honest with herself and that is oddly hard to fine in Young Adult books.  Flora was realistic with her environment and what she needed to do but she open minded and I liked that.

Evelyn, however, was alright. She was the typical I am not your average rich person. She played her role really well but there was nothing ground breaking about her. The aspect of this novel that I really enjoyed was the mermaid/the sea. I love magical stories even with realistic situations to them. I would have loved to see more history and details in this particular part of the story but I was entertained.

The pace of the novel was good. There were painstakingly slow moments, where nothing at all was going on but it was worth it. This is my first read by this author and I am looking forward to see what else she has in store.

Overall,

3 Pickles

Book Review: Love’s Recipe by Mila Nicks

Independently Published
TBP May 1, 2020
241 Pages

Rosalie Underwood is a broke, recently divorced single mother. After she’s forced to return to her hometown St. Aster, Louisiana, she lands a waitressing job at Ady’s Creole Café. Life’s not done giving her lemons just yet, though. Ady’s Creole Café is on the brink of going out of business. If Rosalie hopes to recover from her disastrous marriage and keep her job, she must figure out a way to save the restaurant. But the only question is how?

When Nicholas Fontaine hires Rosalie Underwood, he doesn’t expect his newest waitress to stir the pot. He was hoping to keep up the charade he’s created since his mother’s passing. Soon he realizes that Rosalie refuses to let Ady’s fail. She cooks up a plan to salvage the business—including the part where she enters the restaurant in a food competition to generate town-wide buzz.

There’s no time for butting heads. The clock is ticking and the business is tanking. Nick’s stuck teaching Rosalie how to cook the one-of-a-kind menu. Rosalie’s trying her best to learn the delicious recipes. In order to succeed, they must come together and work as a team, but brewing feelings between them only complicates matters. Is this a recipe for disaster or a recipe for love?- Goodreads

If you are looking for a light read then this is the book for you.  Very straight-forward and not as much drama as the summary makes it seem.

I enjoyed this book because it wasn’t as drama filled as most romances are. Nick and Rosalie are adults and for most of the book you see them in a actual relationship. I loved that aspect. It gets really tiring seeing two adults go back and forth with how they are feeling. But, I guess I would say, the downside of this is the conflict within this novel is resolved extremely fast. The only reason why I would that this is a downside is because there wasn’t anything else building up the story. For instance, the story lacked depth in regards to the history of the town, the restaurant as well as Nick and Rosalie’s  personal history; even Rosalie’s marriage is mentioned vaguely.

I would have liked to see more chemistry between the two as well. Despite this I enjoyed the novel and I really liked the author’s writing style.

Overall,

3 Pickles 

 

 

Book Review: Hearts on Hold by Charish Reid

Carina Press
Published Feb 3rd, 2020

Professor Victoria Reese knows an uphill battle when she sees one. Convincing her narrow-minded colleagues at the elite Pembroke University to back a partnership with the local library is a fight she saw coming and already has a plan for. What she didn’t see coming? The wildly hot librarian who makes it clear books aren’t the only thing he’d like to handle.

When a tightly wound, sexy-as-hell professor proposes a partnership between his library and her university, children’s department head John Donovan is all for it. He knows his tattoos and easygoing attitude aren’t quite what she expected, but the unmistakable heat between them is difficult to resist.

And then there’s the intriguing late fee on her record. For the Duke’s Convenience… A late fee and a sexy romance novel? There’s more to Dr. Reese than she’s letting on.

John might like to tease her about her late fee, but when he teases her in other ways, Victoria is helpless to resist. Mixing business with pleasure—and oh, it is pleasure—always comes with risks, but maybe a little casual fun between the sheets is just what Victoria needs.- Goodreads

I don’ know how else to describe this book other than one of the sweetest romances I have read thus far. It was adorable from beginning to end. I love the way it builds. I love the fact that John knew what he wanted but at the same time was comfortable enough to let Victoria come to the point he was at. She was frustrating to read. It was like talking with the smartest dumb person in the room. Not only does she need therapy but she also needs to learning how to relax (which thankfully she does a bit in this book).

But I liked Victoria because I was able to relate to her and her mask in the workplace. For some people they don’t use it/need it but others such as myself cannot be the same person inside of the office as they are outside. It was refreshing to see that I am not alone in this (I know I’m not but it was nice to read).

The author touches about the topic I mentioned above as well as ADHD, being a teenager and being Black. I would have liked to see more times when Victoria was herself. I felt that she was herself around John but she wasn’t her complete self. When she was with her friends their interactions are we comfortable. What I mean to say is  she interacted with other Black females in what appeared to be her real self. Do not get me wrong. Friends are going to see a different side of you than your lover is and that is fine. But it felt like she was wearing a mask with John even at the end.

There was something missing to connect her and John but I am not exactly sure if I can word it right.

But other than that, the author must have known that I have a thing for Vikings because John was *insert chef’s kiss*

Overall,

I liked this book a lot.

4 Pickles