[709]: I See You by Clare Mackintosh

A scopophobia inducing thriller that will take you on a journey full of twists and turns by way of the London underground.


I See You
by Clare Mackintosh

 I don’t have much experience in public transportation. I know for a fact that bussing in my city is an adventure in itself. I’ve heard some horror stories.  After reading this book, I’m kinda glad that I don’t have any to share. I’ve only used a train system twice: whenever we’re in San Diego and when I went to New York. I wasn’t courageous enough to take them at night, though.

The New York subway system is a whole other beast altogether. There, it doesn’t matter what time of day it is, it always feels like either the walls are going to cave in on you, or a rat is going to drag you to its nest. But that’s nothing compared to the menace hiding in the dark corners of the London underground, apparently. The feeling that you’re being watched is worst than you could ever imagine. This book, in comparison, will make you forget the normalcy of taking the public transport. It will have you looking over your shoulder, unsettled and a little anxious. But you’ll never know who’s hunting you until it’s all too late.

I See You started ordinarily enough. Zoe Walker was looking forward to spending a quiet night after a hard day’s work. Somewhere in her house was a bottle of wine with her name on it. So when her train stalled during her commute, she hardly paid any attention. She picked up a paper in an attempt to pass the time while they sort out what was happening on the tracks. As she was browsing through, an advert of a woman looking for romance caught her attention. Upon closer inspection, she realizes that she’s staring at her own face. Coincidence, right? Her family thought so, too. But things went from odd fortuity to scary reality in an instant when the women on the ads started dying.

Clare Mackintosh builds a layered story in a slow crescendo which makes the race to the end even that much more exciting. The readers stumble through the mystery blindly – effectively. She made a case for each red herrings, giving the readers the confidence with the suspects they had in mind. May it be Zoe’s boyfriend/partner, her ex-husband who was very much still in love with her, and the boss whom may or may not still be carrying a torch for her.

This smart thriller erases any doubts (if there were ever any) of the one-hit-wonder assumptions left on the trail of her debut novel, I Let You Go. It is easy to see that she’s found her niche so easily in the age of Gone Girl/The Girl on the Train wannabes. I haven’t read I Let You Go, but if I See You is any indication of the kind novels we can expect from this author, I say she’ll be a household name in this genre in no time.

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[708]: The Bastard Billionaire by Jessica Lemmon

The Bastard Billionaire
by Jessica Lemmon


I’ll be the first one to tell you that I can never say no to the billionaire trope. And I’m not even sorry. I’ve seen this series around but I never paid much attention to it until I heard it call my name when I was browsing on NG a couple of weeks ago.

So glad I requested it.

The Bastard Billionaire is book 3 of Jessica Lemmon’s Billionaire Bad Boys series. I haven’t read the first two but rest assured it’s on my agenda this month.

In this book, we’ll meet Eli Crane, a former Marine who retired from service after losing a leg from an assignment that also took the lives of a couple of his close friends. The loss of his appendage and the grief of losing his friends lent to the closed-off, surly, and lonely disposition this bad boy presents to his family and to the world in general. He refuses any help from anyone let alone from a personal assistant. That’s why he goes through them like he goes through his underwear. Well, Isabella Sawyer has had enough. She’s run out of PAs to send. Come hell or high water, she’ll make him accept his responsibilities in the family business. And she won’t be discouraged no matter how badly he treats her. It looks like Eli Crane finally meets his match!

 Easy-peasy read and exactly how I enjoy my romance. Little to zero drama but heady with humor, of camaraderie, and a meddling family. You have a stubborn heroine and an equally stubborn hero that butt-heads every chance they get. A chemistry that’s off the charts and a banter oozing with sexual tension – the perfect recipe, if I may so myself.

Eli can be cantankerous but he’s never mean (which I like). I enjoyed seeing Isabella forcing him out of his gloomy shell of guilt. He carries a couple of them since he blames himself for the death of his friends. He’s also very resistant to the idea of accepting his position in the family business so Isabella had her work cut out for her. Good thing she’s the perfect person for the job.

Eli Crane needed someone like Isabella: beautiful, smart, stubborn, and ambitious. She didn’t coddle him outside of her responsibilities as a PA. She’s had enough of men trying to run her life so she knew how to handle someone like Crane. She’s a force of nature who didn’t wilt under pressure. They’re a match made in heaven. Overall, I can’t wait to read the rest of the books in this series. And I’m so thankful to have been introduced to Jessica Lemmon’s books.

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[706]: Pretty Face by Lucy Parker

Smarter than your average Romance.


Pretty Face
by Lucy Parker

Lucy Parker’s writing reminds me of the old days. More particularly, of the Mills & Boon era. Now, don’t scoff. I’ve been reading romance novels all my life. Mills & Boon started me off on this path. The romantic writers of those days are distinctly foreign compared to some of their contemporary colleagues. They were posh, very British and elegant. In so many ways, Ms. Parker brought back all those feelings.

Pretty Face was delightfully refreshing. Especially at a time when Romance is heavily saturated with cheesy gourds, oversexed fiends, and miscommunication drama.

 At its core, this is the story about every woman who’s ever had to fight for their place to get recognition. Not for their looks, nor for their curves but for their talent and hard work. Lily Lamprey’s role as a bombshell in British television has gained her the notoriety for being a sex symbol. No one takes her seriously let alone a director whose severe work ethic puts the fear in the eyes of every single actor that ever worked for him. So it’s not a surprise that Lily suffers no illusions to getting the part for his new stage production.

Luc Savage’s name fits him to a T. His reputation as a workhorse proceeds him. He hasn’t got the time for distractions. His fledgling production and the renovation of the legendary West End theater take all his time and energy. And Lily Lamprey is a distraction with a capital D. Try as he might, the woman got under his skin like a stubborn sliver.

By all accounts, this story is not all that ingenious. We’ve all read this story before in one form or another. But no one could ever resist the push and pull dynamics of two characters whose attraction for each other is off the charts.  Coupled that with smart dialogues infused with humor, and a story line that’s distinctly British, I say, it’s hard not to rate this book any lower than 5 stars. This is an amazing read. If you’ve ever felt burnt out with the romance novels that you’ve been reading lately, Pretty Face is just the cure for your malady.

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[705]: The Burning World by Isaac Marion

An Unrecognizable sequel that sheds all the heart-warming fluff of its predecessor.


The Burning World
by Isaac Marion

Question: Did you read Warm Bodies? If so, do you remember how it ends? How about the movie? Did you see it? Yes? No?

Well, let me spoil it all for you with this little scenario: most of the zombies slowly gained back a semblance of their humanity. Gone are the instincts to devour human flesh, replaced by a pause that gives them a chance to hold back the monster that hungers for the living. So much so that they’re able to cohabit with the humans inside the wall. The last scene had Julie and R watching as the walls were blown to bits. The sun is setting; they were holding hands…fade to black. Really hopeful shit, right? Makes you think that a peaceful coexistence between zombies and humans are entirely possible.

Well, sorry to burst your bubble but The Burning World did not start right where Warm Bodies left off. At least, the atmosphere was not the same. If you’re expecting much of the same lighthearted and somewhat funny shtick of the undead in this novel, you’ll be disappointed. Because these zombies are just a sad caricature of the rabid monsters we’ve come to fear and love. They’re stuck in between the beast that craves for warm flesh, and the humans inside of them clamoring to be born again. It was dark, nostalgic, and terrible in the sense that they’ll break your heart (R’s zombie wife and kids. *Sobs*) It was depressing, and it made me wish they were the terrifying stuff of nightmares we’ve all read about our lives. Because then I won’t feel so heartbroken.

This is a changed world; one that you won’t recognize from the first book. There’s a new villain in town whose primary goal is to convert the changing zombies into an army of drones possessing some robot-like consciousness. The last vestige of humanity left are being hunted and “phased out”. And this includes the tiny population inside the wall. They especially want R and Julie for their ability to speak to the evolving zombies. In short, this sequel had become the action-packed, pulse-pounding, scary-as-shit thriller that Warm Bodies never were. I’d even go as far as to say, it echoes the atmospheric dread of Justin Cronin’s The Passage. Yeah. I can’t believe it either. But reading The Burning World brought out the exact feelings when I binge-read Cronin’s vampire series last year.

By the by, R slowly gains his memory as a human – and from what he can remember, he was not a good person at all. He is miles remove from the sweet zombie we’ve come to know. We also see Julie in a different light. Driven by her sense of familial loyalty, she becomes a completely different person. She’s angry, compulsive, and even a little selfish. She’ll make you mad. She’ll make you cry but eventually, she’ll gain your sympathy albeit, tentatively.

We’re introduced to new characters and new plot lines that converge with the old ones. There are far more nuances explored; surprising and thrilling revelations. If I were to keep it simple, I say Warm Bodies was stripped of everything that was cute to show its true form. It had me on edge at all times because at the back of my mind, I keep waiting for the “awaken” zombies to revert back to their monstrosity – most especially R. Over all, The Burning World opens the series to a whole new set of possibilities. And with that ending, I say Marion has a lot more dark days in store for his ardent readers.

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[704]: Chain Reaction by Tara Wyatt


Chain Reaction
by Tara Wyatt

Book 3 to Tara Wyatt’s Bodyguard series features the story of a Hollywood royalty in need of protection from her own family.

There are a lot of things Alexa didn’t know about the name Fairfax. The legacy of her name, while synonymous to glitz, influence, glamor and riches, hides a dark history borne out of greed; a dark history stained with blood and a trail of dead bodies who were stupid enough to get in the way.

When she inadvertently overheard about the murders that her father has ordered and orchestrated, fear and shock had her running out of the house and into the protection of one Zack de Luca; a Mixed Martial Arts fighter who moonlights as a bodyguard for Virtus.

Alexa hasn’t had the best relationship with her parents, to begin with. She has a disturbing past that she’s been trying to escape. The horror of what she’s been subjected to growing up cannot truly encapsulate the kind of monsters her parents are. They only know her as a timid character who is easily manipulated and can be used as a barter in exchange for acclimation, award, prestige, and sometimes, even movie roles. Did I mention how monstrous they are?

There are some truths to her parents’ life-long assessment of their daughter’s timidity, though. Frankly, there’s not much to her besides being a Hollywood princess who spends her time volunteering at a children’s hospital. There’s not a lot of depth that I can glean from her personality and character. The same goes for Zack. I feel like he tried to be an alpha male character at times but consistently failed. I just can’t get behind this pairing, to be honest. Their chemistry feels numbingly forced. And I swear I wanted to scream every time he mentions how “sweet” Alexa was. Like, dude. I got it the first 5 times you mentioned it.

Her family is evil. I can’t believe father dear was willing to use her as an incentive for one of his henchman. That’s messed up, man. And Alexa’s reaction to this news? Horrifically nonchalant. Perhaps it’s because she’s been through it many times and that she’s used to it but either way, it was sad how lacking her reaction was.

Despite my deceivingly adverse reaction, I think this series is worth further looking into. I mean, sure we got off on the wrong foot but I’m not necessarily a one-and-done kind of reader, so yeah. I’m especially curious to see the relationships between the other characters mentioned. Overall, expect to see more about this series on the blog.

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[702]: Guarding Mr. Fine by HelenKay Dimon

Funny, sexy, and a whip-smart follow up to an already enjoyable series.


Guarding Mr. Fine
by HelenKay Dimon

This series gets better and better with each installment, you guys. I’ve been loving everything that HelenKay has been giving us! I was especially looking forward to reading Seth’s story because he was hilarious in the previous books. I knew that there’s more to him other than the smart ass CIA agent we’ve come to know and he didn’t disappoint.

In here, he’s tasked to guard the newly appointed US consul general in Munich. However, he knows that it’s a cover for something else because no one knows anything about the guy. He seems to have come from out of nowhere. There’s something mysterious about his background and the real reason why someone inexperienced like him got the job. Not only does Seth knew next to thing about this guy but he’ll figure out soon enough that Rick Fine knew him in more ways than one.

One of the things that I look forward to when I read a romance novel is the serendipitous meeting of the main characters. Admittedly, their meet-cute wasn’t so cute. They went from 0-60 in a blink of an eye. It was kind of hot! They met at a bar and hit it off so well that they ended up having a tryst in the shaded part of the club. They thought it was a one-off thing, a one-night stand without sleeping together. But they had another thing coming since Ric knew a bit more about Seth than Seth knows about Rick. Their history is for you to find out, readers.

Rick Fine was sent to investigate the apparent suicide of the former consulate general. But the investigation is only a front for why he was there. As usual, there’s never a dull moment in this installment. Aside from the sleuthing that the boys were involved in, the romance will also have you engrossed. There’s a battle of egos and dominance between the two that heightens their chemistry to a fever pitch. What else could I ask for, right? Seth is a man-of-the-world kind of guy. He doesn’t have a commitment phobia per se, but he’s smart enough to know that a relationship between two CIA agents is not realistic nor it is advisable. So yeah, he’ll do what he can to sabotage his feelings towards Rick. There’s also that history thing that I mentioned above. Whatever it is, Seth has to learn to forgive and forget if he ever wants their relationship to foster.

Overall, HelenKay has been hitting all the right notes with her books. I keep saying I need to read more books by hers, but it keeps slipping my mind. Well, adding the rest of her books on my wishlist for future downloads when I’m in need of something fun, fast, and sexy.

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[701]: The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan

Weird, gory, and not of the teen wolf variety.


The Last Werewolf
by Glen Duncan

I’m not new to this rodeo. I’ve had my fair share of lycanthrope stories. And while vampires and zombies are my typical go-to whenever I get a hankering for the supernatural, I must admit that I’ve been missing them lately.

Now, I will be the first one to say that I’m prejudiced when it comes to werewolves. I always assume that there will be super alpha males drumming their chest as soon as they find their “mates”. I know that instant-love is almost always a key ingredient; and that most will go through the angst of accepting the monsters inside themselves. This book is certainly all of that.  Jake goes through the self-hating phase soon after killing his first human. He’ll feel the pull of his intended once he finds her. But while most of the novels in this variety are littered with the emotional dramatics of the main character, Jake Marlowe, however, will disappoint the most ardent readers of paranormal romance.

This is not your usual werewolf story that’s for damn sure.

The Last Werewolf, as the title implies, is the story about the last remaining werewolf in the world. Jake will find out that there’s nothing remotely glamorous or even reverent about the distinction, however. Enemies left and right will be coming out of the woodwork to rid the world of this last abomination. He wouldn’t know whom to trust, and anybody close to him faces certain death. He’s not going to enjoy being the hunted this time.

He’s not a teen heartthrob who stalks the halls of his school in all his emo glory. Nope. Jake Marlowe is a 200-year-old cynic who’s seen everything, done everything, and ready to peace out of this world. But…he wants to do it in his own terms.

Jake’s type of werewolf is the kind that needs to eat people in order to survive. The cycle of the moon also plays a pivotal role in prolonging their lives. While waiting for the full moon, they can live by gratuitously imbibing on alcohol and smoking like a chimney. They also need sex – and plenty of it! In a way, this brand of werewolves is like the vampires. They thrive on the indulgence of flesh and excessive vice. The author certainly doesn’t pull any punches. Violence, sex, gore are described in explicit details. But for the amount of sex included in this book, not a single scene was written with sexual arousal in mind. There’s a distinct dismissive casualty and banality to the act. He didn’t loiter in the scenes and didn’t dawdle. You wouldn’t feel any warm fuzzies or the need to smoke afterward.

Glen Duncan will probably annoy some of you. He comes across as a pretentious jerk for name-dropping some literary greats in his book. But I do see his point. Jake Marlowe is 200 years old, after all. How else would he occupy his immortal life but read?

He will make you feel as exhausted as Jake feels; as tired of life as he was. In that respect, Duncan is a very convincing writer. He spent most of his time ruminating about the life he led, the loves he lost, and the people he ate. But nowhere did he try to get the reader’s empathy. Duncan’s writing is very “male” for lack of a better word.

I am, however, sorry that I felt no emotion whatsoever while reading this book. That doesn’t mean, however, that I didn’t enjoy it. It’s not a bad quality, per se. But sometimes, you just got to take what you’re reading with a grain of salt. It’s a change of pace and it’s great to read something that doesn’t put me through the wringer for once.

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[700]: A Darkness Absolute by Kelley Armstrong

Armstrong’s talent in writing smart thrillers on full display.


A Darkness Absolute
by Kelley Armstrong

We’re thrust back into the remote Northern Territories with Casey Duncan on the hunt for another killer. An unforeseen storm that throws them off track led them to a girl who has been missing for more than a year. Trapped in a hole no more than the size of a small person, the emaciated girl is rescued from her harrowing isolation. Days and months of endless physical, sexual, and mental abuse left her on the brink of madness.

Now, the Sheriff’s office has to track down a killer who upon further investigation might be responsible for several deaths of missing women.

Casey Duncan has all but acclimated to the life living in remote Northern Territories. Rockton and its people have grown on her – especially one person in particular. But if peace and quiet were what she’s after, Rockton apparently is the wrong place. Because once again, the town is facing deadly crimes with very little suspects to consider.  And since this is Rockton –  remote, a touch primeval, and wild – finding the killer will prove to be difficult. They’re not only racing against time, there’s also the brutal changing weather to contend.

Kelly Armstrong does a marvelous job in immersing her readers in her story in such a way that descriptively immortalizes an otherwise fictional town. The town of Rockton and its vicinities are beautiful as they are harsh. Not only do we get to experience all its wildness, but the townspeople themselves add a certain brutality that makes it seemed more sinister. Characterization has always been Armstrong’s forte. She writes the most credible kick-ass women.  Surprisingly enough, the men play a pivotal role in further empowering her heroines. It’s hard to explain. I guess the best way to describe it is like a marriage between a couple and each unit has the ability to qualify each other’s strengths and weaknesses.

She keeps the pacing of the story at an even keel. Giving her readers time to adjust and savor their own observations. Short chapters also help as she effectively pulls the readers into the nuances of the plot. Armstrong was very stingy with suspects. Since the town’s population is small, I felt like I already know everyone so you can pretty much tick off one townie at a time.  But in the end, and after the pieces of the puzzle have been connected, she made a very convincing case for the killer’s motives, psyche, and eventually, his identity.

A Darkness Absolute is a fantastic sequel. It hits the ground running right from the first page and doesn’t let up until the very end. There’s never a dull moment and you’ll feel like you can’t flip the page fast enough. This is the perfect book to cozy up to on cold winter nights with your reading socks and a nice cup of tea on hand.

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[696]: Wait For It by M.O’Keefe

From sizzling chemistry to boring compatibility.


Wait For It
by Molly O’Keefe

Tiffany and Blake’s meet cute wasn’t so cute. It was contemptuous to start, possibly even explosive. It’s the reason why I was chomping at the bit to read this installment. Because there’s no other romantic device I love more than the enemies-to-lovers trope.

By the first few pages, it was not as earth-shattering as I’d hoped for, unfortunately.

Blake has had to clean up for his brother all their lives. Phil was very good at leaving a trail of brokenhearted, and more often, abused women in his wake. So when Tiffany and her kids came into the picture, he was there with a cheque book ready to buy her off so they may disappear from their lives. Thinking of her kids and the need to flee her abusive husband, Tiffany took the money and ran towards a fresh start. Only it didn’t last long as Phil found them again picking up where he left off.

So the explosive meeting between Tiffany and Blake fizzled practically from the very start of this book. Which is disappointing because that was the main draw for me. It was like meeting two different characters. I can say, however, that separately, Tiffany and Blake are admirable in their own ways. But as a couple, I thought they went from having sizzling chemistry to boring compatibility.

It’s when they added sex into the mix that did it for me. Tiffany has all but lost her libido during the course of her married life with Phil and who could blame her? Phil was verbally and physically abusive so any inkling to indulge in carnal activities left her feeling cold. Blake thinks he can light up her fire again (and he did). But the sex, I found, was gratuitous and awkward at times so I didn’t find it steamy to say the least.

 The underlying lesson of this book is that you can’t buy everything; not happiness, not love, and especially not trust. Blake had to find that out himself. Though he had very good intentions, his method of atoning for his brother’s sins was messed up. You can’t erase traumatic memories of abuse and desolation by money. Tiffany was the hard lesson that he had to learn. Tiffany had some learning she had to do as well. Mostly, independence and courage. This installment could’ve been good but I had a hard time digesting the sexual dynamics between these two. Frankly, it left me feeling cold.

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[695]: Everything You Want Me To Be by Mindy Mejia

A quiet suspense full of twists and turns that you’ll have trouble putting down.


Everything You Want Me To Be
by Mindy Mejia

The novel opened with Hattie attempting to buy a one-way ticket to New York. Stymied by the airline ticket agent due to her age, she fled and decided to drive as far as she could only to find herself to the place where her body will eventually be found.

Told from three alternating points of view, the novel tells the story of a girl who played various acting roles depending on the audience. Hattie never stopped acting. Before or behind the curtain, she assumed different roles for different people. She was the perfect actress, playing the part of the perfect daughter, friend, and student. But beneath the surface was a dissatisfaction that comes from living in a small town. She’s got big dreams that she knew would never come to fruition if she stayed in her hometown. When she started corresponding with someone online, she found a kindred spirit. Someone whom she considered as the only one that truly knew her. From a clandestine affair between two unlikely people to the eventual investigation of Hattie’s murder, Everything You Want Me To Be was a fantastic mystery that’s quiet and engaging in a way that I prefer my mystery reads ought to be.

Though far from dull, the author sets an easy pace by which she told Hattie’s story. The suspense comes from the slow reveal of the pieces of the puzzle that come together in a surprising visage. In here, we see Hattie as someone who has crafted the art of acting. She was very adept in duping people into believing her genuineness with great efficacy. But that does not make her a suspect character. It’s done without any malice but more so because Hattie was a people-pleaser through and through. The malice that lurks within was in the way she manipulated the people around her. She was a master in a way that actors tend to be so your initial impression would be that she’s a well-adjusted, normal teenager.

I looked at Tommy until the horny teenager faded away and he became my instrument. I looked at his fingers and saw a hand that was mine to wield, that I could drive to murder the king himself. I looked at his confused expression and saw the madness that we would soon share. I became cold, too cold to feel. By the time he cleared his throat to say his first line, I could tase my own death.”

But inside, she’s a mess of ennui and discontent. So when she met a person who had given her a taste of something different and exciting, she clung to him like a buoy drifting into the open sea.

The investigation itself is methodically neat. On the whole, there are only two major suspects so there’s a 50/50 chance that you’ll be right. Still, it’s fun to follow the red herrings. Lately, I’ve been drawn to stories with an easy pace. I like the mystery of the characters and the crime that needed to be solved. Sometimes, mysteries don’t need to be action at every turn of the page. It’s these that make for a perfect book to read in winter afternoons.

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