[3] Romance Reads Round Up: The VIP Series by Kristen Callihan

 


Idol
by Kristen Callihan
Published: June 7th, 2016
Rating 4 out of 5 Stars

Kristen Callihan’s VIP series is about the Kill John band. Rockstars and sex gods, who has recently suffered the heartbreak of a failed suicide by one of its members.

Second only to the the suicidal member, Killian James is probably more affected by this setback. After all, Jax Blackwood is the other half of what makes Kill John the band. As well, he considers him as his brother. So when he didn’t see the abyss that Jax was slowly falling into, he blames himself. Guilt-ridden and uninspired to face the world, he plunged into a pool of alcoholism and found himself in a wreck on Liberty Bell’s front yard.

Although their meeting got off to a rocky start, Libby and Killian found a kindred spirit in each other. Libby was also on the run from the world having just lost her parents. She hasn’t spoken to anyone in months prior to Killian crashing into her isolation. In the end, they’d both realize that they are exactly with whom they needed. Libby, to inspire the music back into Killian’s life, and Killian to bring Libby back into the world of the living.


Managed
by Kristen Callihan
Published: November 14th, 2016
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Gabriel Scott is perhaps my favourite character in this series. As the title insinuates, he is the manager for the band.

His friendship/brotherhood with Kill John started out when they were kids at a boarding school in England. They took him under their wings and as years go by, their friendship only strenghtened to a brotherhood. He, too was especially affected by Jax’s failed suicide. It was an eye-opener to the fast life that being around Kill John slowly devolved into. Since then, he’s become even more staid, stuffy, and short of being a hermit.

The romance between Gabriel and Sophie is also my favourite so far. I don’t know how many more books are coming but it’s safe to say these two win my vote. Bonus: Sophie’s mom is half Filipino so a girl after my own heart. Anyway, Gabriel is a very regimented, disciplined, and serious man. So meeting a whirlwind like Sophie Darling threw him for a loop. I love the way Sophie took him out of his comfort zone at all times. They were a mixture of mercurial and coquettish fun that really worked as far as character chemistry goes.

Sophie has a dark history relating to the band, however. So working for them might just be a bit more complicated that she anticipated.


Fall
by Kristen Callihan
Published: October 23rd, 2018
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars


Ahhh, Jax Blackwood. Laid-back on the outside, a mess of angst on the inside. Is it weird to associate him with Jasper Cullen? I don’t know, but that’s who I saw in my head as I was reading his story.

Anyway, our Jax Blackwood is still recovering from his failed suicide. And while his facade screams “well-adjusted rockstar”, he has scars from his inability to cope with living the celebrity life. In fact, he’s still vulnerable that even Killian James and the rest of the band walk on eggshells around him.

But then he meets Stella. A sunshine in his otherwise gloomy existence. Everybody loves her, everyone’s drawn to her goodness and light. But Stella is hiding a vulnerability that she rarely shows the world. If he’s lucky, he might get a glimpse. Or he might even help her. But darkness has a way of dimming whatever sliver of light the weak have found. Unfortunately, Jax and Stella are not exempt from the shadows that lurk in their own psyches.

I love these two as well. Heck, I love all the couples so far from this series. It just so happens that I love Scottie and Sophie more. Kristen Callihan knows how to pair them well, with stories that will leave you sighing from beginning to the end. I can’t wait to read more about the rest of the crew, and that includes finally seeing Brenna and Rye in the bedroom so they can take their aggression out on each other. If you know what I mean. *wink, wink*

[754]: Dirty Exes by Rachel Van Dyken

Dirty Exes, Liars Inc. Book 1
by Rachel Van Dyken


The first book to Ms. Van Dyken’s new series features the story of revenge and finding love when you least expect it. This is about Blaire, a woman spurned by love one too many times. Her first love was Jesse, a man who, at the time, was on the verge of greatness in professional football.  He made the choice to walk away from Blaire all those years ago. It took her a while, but she got over the hurt. Though, seeing him again brought the sting of her first love heartbreak.

Her second stint at love hurt her pride more than anything when she found her ex-husband in flagrante delicto with her best friend, no less. And on that same fateful night, she met her now business partner. Isla knows all too well about getting spurned. After all, she found out that her boyfriend was sleeping with her sister on the same day.  The kinship instantly turned to a partnership otherwise known as Liars, Inc.

The job is hardly glamorous by any stretch of imagination. Setting traps for lying, cheating boyfriends and husbands is not a walk in the park. They do whatever they can to help the female population rid themselves of men with wandering eyes and sleazy hands. Including, but not limited to, putting up with demanding clients with spouses who may or may not be dirt bags after all.

Such is the case for Blaire’s former love, Jesse.

Hired by his soon-to-be ex-wife, Blaire has the unfortunate task of trying to find evidence of his alleged cheating. But she didn’t account for meeting Jesse’s best friend, player extraordinaire, Colin. He offers more than help in finding all the dirty deets in Jesse’s life. He’s a complication she didn’t account for. He’s good looking, cunning, as he is playful in life and in business. Basically, trouble with a capital T. More than anything, Blaire hopes to deal with her feelings with Jesse once and for all.  But she gets more than what she bargains for. Now, she’s caught between two men demanding more than she’s willing to give.

A love triangle that didn’t drive me crazy: this is how it’s done, y’all. You’ll never read about Blaire waffling back and forth between two men. Ms. Van Dyken let the story play out, without annoying us with Blaire’s incessant listing of the pros and cons with being either man. The effect is an enjoyable, romantic story that had me grinning and not at all thinking about whose bed should Blaire end up.

Waiting on Wednesday [18]: November Releases


It’s a bit late, I know but last week was just too  crazy that I didn’t get to write any advance postings. In any case, it’s that time of the month when I make a list of the books that I want to have in my possession just so they can collect dust on my shelves [insert eye roll here]. Kidding. The amount of books I have unread is directly proportionate to the time (or lack thereof) I have to read them. That doesn’t stop me from salivating and wishing and if I’m lucky, acquiring. To be honest, I go back to these lists when I’m stuck in the proverbial reading slump hell. Sometimes, I find just the right book to read from these lists.

I don’t know, maybe I’m getting soft around the edges but this month’s list consists of predominantly romance. I’m oddly okay with this. I even see a cowboy romance in there. Lol. Let me know if you’ve read any of these.

Happy reading, everyone!

xoxo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The book I’m most likely to get is that latest collaboration between Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward. I’ve enjoyed their combined efforts so far, so I’m looking forward to reading Hate Notes!

[753]: Only Human by Sylvain Neuvel

Only Human
by Sylvain Neuvel


The third and final installment in The Themis Files didn’t lack for suspense. The world has changed since Vincent, Rose, and Eva ended up on another planet at the end of the second book. Left with no choice but to hijack an Esat Ekt ship and keeping one of them hostage, Vincent found himself on the end his daughter, Eva’s ire. Because not only did she not want to leave the planet she grew to love, he also caused the death of one her friends during their captivity.

Meanwhile, back on Earth, things have drastically changed since they inhabited it last. The world is now divided into two factions ruled by two superpowers: the US and Russia. While the US was already was in possession of the giant robot that Rose & Vincent helped assemble before they left Earth, Russia was delighted to have Themis landed in their territory.  Humankind is ruled by fear and hate. Racism persists, escalating in separation of those who are different. Most are killed or forced into labor, while a war of armageddon proportion looms on the horizon.

Russian agent Katherine Lebedev will use whatever means of coercion to have Vincent and Rose pilot Themis, including, but not limited to mental blackmail and torture.  The US and Russia are on the brink of war and it’s up to Rose and Vincent to end it before it even starts.

The torturous wait for this book is finally over. Considering how the second book ended, I was relieved and satisfied by its grand exit.  We learned so much about the way the inhabitants of Esat Ekt lived and how they treated Rose, Vincent and Eva while they lived in their planet.  They’ve managed to undertake a semblance of life and have established connections with the humanoids of Esat Ekt.  Here, we find some sort of complacency that enables them to live in a peaceful, yet fearful utopian environment. Not everything is what it seems. There’s a conflict that’s bubbling on the surface and the Earthlings found themselves smack dab in the thick of things. Hence, the hasty getaway back to Earth.

As per its two predecessors, Only Human was told in interviews, diary entries and mission logs. The effect is a fragmented, but oddly seamless method of story telling. It is action-packed, suspenseful with burst of humor to cut through some of the tension.  This is a fitting finale to Sci-Fi readers and non-readers alike that makes me hopeful that Sci-Fi doesn’t always necessarily mean technical jargons, clinical environment, and androidic characters.

Hoarders, Books Edition: Episode 215


The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie | Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie | The Trust by Ronald H. Balson | Karolina’s Twins by Ronald H. Balson

A couple of weeks ago, I shared a post about my newly discovered authors and their works. I’ve been on the hunt for those books and so happy to say to finally have these in my arsenal. I am, however, still on the lookout for the first Liam Taggart & Catherine Lockhart series, Saving Sophie. I’m sure I can easily order it online but money’s tight so I’ve resorted to finding books from the thrift shops.

I’ve started The Satanic Verses but since Rushdie’s writing is a bit cerebral than what I’m used to, it’s taking a bit of time. I would really like to start on the Balson series but I need to find Saving Sophie first.

Reading Updates:

Unfortunately, I didn’t make any headway with the books I’d planned last week. Heck, I haven’t even crack open any of the books. I’m determined to get them done this week, however.

Books Read Last Week:

I adore Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal. It was such a lovely, delightful book about food, family, and love. Fall by Kristen Callihan was awesome as well. Jax Blackwood was so angst-y and sexy – just the kind of guy I love reading about. 🙂 All the Missing Girls’ format just didn’t work for me. It was confusing as heck. Lastly, The Lost Symbol completes my Dan Brown library, and will be looking forward to reading more from him.

That’s it for my week, everyone. I hope yours was great as well.

Happy Reading!

xoxo

[752]: The Golden House by Salman Rushdie

The Golden House
by Salman Rushdie


The day after the November 2016 election, the entire world was left grappling with the unlikely victory of the Orange One. To this day, it’s an event too painful to reminisce to some (including me).

Whenever we feel a certain disappointment or heartbreak, we are known to have an automatic response, a knee jerk reaction. We’re either overcome – so much so that we can’t function, or we get up. Fight like we’ve never fought before.

For Salman Rushdie, this book was his response.  Some of his critics expressed their disappointment as his 13thnovel came off as a string of ramblings and rants about the state of America as we speak. To him, however, this was a novel set in a world gone insane. So everything was grandiose, over exaggerated, but wholly apropos.

The synopsis defies the entirety of the novel. In fact, I can’t begin to start giving you a little rundown if only to hook you in so you may traverse the novel the way I reluctantly did at first.  For me, Rushdie is a road not travelled.  I have no idea what was in store for me, so I approached this book with great trepidation. It didn’t take long until I’m in its grip, however.  All I could think about while the story was unfolding was how Shakespearean or Greek-ly tragic it was.  When you have all the riches in the world, but the world spits you out lifeless and bloodied in response.

The Golden House was a novelty to me. The writing, the structure, the characters, and the way the present America was juxtaposed to the story of this fabulously wealthy family is something I’ve never experienced before. The barebones is really all about the Golden’s. On the run from his past, Nero Golden decided to reinvent his family’s identity.  Nobody is allowed to know from which country they came, or the past that acts as a darkness that was always looming in the periphery of the story.

Flushed with millions, the sons were free to do as they pleased to some extent. Regardless of the freedom that was available to them, the patriarch still has the last word.  For years, life was as it seemed – that is, until a much younger Russian beauty captured Nero’s attention and changed the dynamics of the family.

My foray into Rushdie’s writing was generally refreshing, though rocky at times. Still, I found myself completely immersed in his writing, his flawed characters, and the events unfolding before me. I think it’s time to start building my personal Rushdie library.

On the Night Table [52]


Hello!

On this week’s episode of On the Night Table, I thought I try to relieve some stress off my bedroom floor by picking books from my bedroom shelf.

I’ve pretty much neglected this shelf for a long time now, so I thought it was high time I pulled some books down to read from these stacks. As you can tell, these shelves are somewhat colour coordinated. So I just sort of picked one book from each colour. Lol.

Choices are a little random but that’s what usually happens when there’s no rhyme or reason to my shelving organization.

Have you read any of these?

[Re-read]: The Dirt on Ninth Grave by Darynda Jones

The Dirt on Ninth Grave
by Darynda Jones
Publication Date: January 12th, 2016
Read: Three Times
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars


Truth be told, I’ve read and re-read the entire series twice now. And still, to this day, book number nine remains my favourite. That’s why when I was invited to do a re-reading blog tour for the series, there was no question as to which book I’d like to revisit again.

Time and again, St. Martin’s Press has been gracious enough to send me an invite for the instalments. But the rub is, the wait for the next book becomes especially longer. Book number eight ended with the mother of all cliff hangers. There were tears, I tell you. Tears. And it wasn’t because the cliff hanger was tragic. It was because of my debilitating need to know what happens next.

So then book number nine arrived in my Kindle via Net Galley. I was only too happy to lose sleep that night just so I can read it in one go.

In here, Charley was an amnesiac who found herself miles away from home. But since she has no recollection of who she was, home is Sleepy Hollow, New York. Her name is Janey Doerr. A waitress with a disturbing addiction to coffee; a predilection to know when a person is lying, and a sick sense in seeing dead people. How she lost her memory is something you need to find out for yourself in book eight.

She is also surrounded by a small army of people who either outright lie to her or give her half truths. But regardless of what they were hiding, she can see kindness and their protective instincts towards her. Except maybe for one regular who, short of snarling at her whenever she’s near, avoids her like she has the plague. But because she also has very little self-preservation instincts, Reyes Alexander Farrow is the flame to her moth.

Charley may have lost her memory but she’s still the same Charley. Trouble finds her every which way she turns, or perhaps she seeks them out. Dead people abounds, waiting to use her like the River Styx. There’s also a family who’s being held hostage by suspected terrorists. Oh, also a cop who thinks he owns her and therefore should be the love of her life. Yeah, good luck with that, buddy.

I’ve mentioned this on my previous review that the best thing about this book is the interaction between Charley and Reyes, per usual. They’re starting all over again so the push and pull was fun to watch. There is no denying that these two are one of my favourite literary couple. Between Charley’s odd and more often sick sense of humour, and Reyes’ infinite love for Charley, it would be difficult to find other couples to love. This series just fires on all cylinders for me. It’s hella funny, scorchingly sexy, and surprisingly still fresh after almost thirteen books.

Read in October


Homestretch!

October certainly has been one of my most productive month this year as far as reading goes. I’m making good use of my Libby app, and because I haven’t been buying an Audible books, I’m storing up some good credits on my account. Aside from that, I’ve started using my Kindle again and have been requesting books from Net Galley. I still have a long ways away from putting a dent on my TBR but I’ve resolved to read until I go blind…or die – whichever comes first. Lol.

I read 28 books, which is perhaps, the most books I’ve read in a single month this year or ever. I read a few romance novels during the last few days of the month due to the discovery of Audible’s Romance Package. I’m so stoked to find some awesome books in there! Needless to say, I’m freaking all over the place this month.

  • Dangerous Minds, Knight & Moon, 2 by Janet Evanovich 2/5 stars
  • Once We Were Brothers by Ronald H. Balson 5/5 Stars
  • The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne 3/5 Stars
  • One Small Thing by Erin Watts 1/5 Stars
  • Parasite by Mira Grant 4/5 Stars
  • The Real Lolita by Sarah Weinman 4/5 Stars
  • The Italian Teacher by Tom Rachman 5/5 Stars
  • An American Marriage by Tayari Jones 3/5 Stars
  • An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green 4/5 Stars
  • Shimmy Bang Sparkle by Nicola Rendell 4/5 Stars
  • The Husband Hour by Jaime Brenner 4/5 Stars
  • Better Not Pout by Annabeth Gilbert 4/5 Stars
  • Rend by Roan Parrish 4/5 Stars
  • Summoned to Thirteenth Grave by Darynda Jones 5/5 Stars
  • Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan 4/5 Stars
  • Joseph Anton by Salman Rushdie 5/5 Stars
  • Fling Club by Tara Brown 1/5 Stars
  • Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram 5/5 Stars
  • What If It’s Us by Albertalli & Silvera 3/5 Stars
  • Circe by Madeline Miller 4/5 Stars
  • The Wild Heir by Karina Halle 3/5 Stars
  • Youth in Revolt by CD Payne 4/5 Stars
  • Spinning Out by Lexi Ryan 3/5 Stars
  • Throb by Vi Keeland 4/5 Stars
  • Pucked Love by Helena Hunting 4/5 Stars
  • Joy Ride by Lauren Blakely 4/5 Stars
  • Egomaniac by Vi Keeland 4/5 Stars
  • Mister O by Vi Keeland 4/5 Stars

Picking a favourite read this month is tough. It’s a toss up between Joseph Anton, Once We Were Brothers, and my perennial favourite series by Darynda Jones. My most disappointing read was an Erin Watt contemporary offering (One Small Thing). This book just made me furious. The bullying antics of practically every single person sickened me. Ugh.

If I have to recommend a read this month besides my favourites, I say make sure you check out Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram and The Italian Teacher by Tom Rachman. Fair warning, The Italian Teacher is not a romantic book so you should get that notion of your head right now. Still, it was an outstanding masterpiece that tells the story about a father’s influence – good or bad to his son from boyhood to adulthood.

This month, I also managed to binge watch a few shows on Netflix while accomplishing my great reading feat. I got through 4 seasons of X-Files before Netflix Canada pulled it (Netflix Canada sucks balls). Also four seasons of Buffy, a couple of World War II movies, and all nine seasons of The Office. I’ve been busy.

So let me know how your month went, lovely people. And I hope your Halloween night will be filled with treats not tricks.

Children’s Books Round Up


Alma and How She Got Her Name
by Juana Martinez-Neal
Publication Date: April 10th, 2018
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

This is such a wonderful story about the history of a little girl’s full name.

Alma Esperanza Jose Pura Candela.

Nowadays, the names of our kids hardly reflect our heritage. I know my kids’ names don’t have any history to speak of. We chose their names for the simple reasons that we liked them. I think it’s beautiful when your child asks you where their name came from and you can tell them a short history about it.

 


A Dog With Nice Ears
by Lauren Child
Publication Date: April 3rd, 2018
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Charlie and Lola was a favourite of my now 17-year-old daughter back in the day. I remember her speaking with an English accent for a time because she was absolutely obsessed! This book brought me back.

Anyway, this book was about Lola’s wish to have a puppy but Lola being Lola, she has particular requirements for a puppy. Charlie indulges her, of course and tries to find the perfect one.

 


We’re Going on a Bear Hunt
by Michael Rosen & Helen Oxenbury
Publication Date: Sept 23rd, 1997
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

This book is a re-issue but was sent to me sometime in the Spring by Candlewick Press.

Such a fun and slightly scary read about a family hunting bears. Moral of the story: don’t hunt bears. Lol. I absolutely love the format! Each pictures slides out so that it lets your child change the images that they see.

 


Where’s Waldo? Games on the Go
by Martin Handford
Publication Date: March 27th, 2018
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

One: I’m sad my kids are too old for this book.

Two: I’m sad that we don’t have the cabin anymore. It would’ve been fun to have this as my boy gets easily bored on the drive there.

Perfect book to distract your kids on a road trip. It contains puzzles, crosswords, and brain exercises for your older kids.

 


Not-So-Lucky Lefty
by Megan McDonald
Publication Date: March 13th, 2018
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

My daughter is left handed. I have no idea how as my huband and I, as well our boy aren’t.

This is Judy’s adventure as she tries to navigate the day using only her left hand. She didn’t think it was all that difficult to start but she soons learn that it really wasn’t. She had loads of fun regardless.

Thank you to Random House Canada and Candlewick Press for sending me these.