Book Review: Were We Awake by L.M. Brown

Author: L.M. Brown
Release Date: 25th November 2019
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Short Story Collection, Family, Relationships
Series: 
Format: E-book
Pages: 215
Publisher: Fomite
Blurb:
In each story of this collection, events make the characters understand that their world is not as it seemed.

In Hidden, the discovery of an affair between her father and aunt is only the start of finding hidden secrets for Hazel.
What it Means to Be Empty-Handed is narrated by a fourteen–year-old daughter of an alcoholic. Her denial and elaborate imagination starts to disintegrate when she lies to the wrong person.
In Crashing, a middle-aged woman lives a life of servitude until she hits teenage boy with her car.
A thirty-year-old murder takes its toll on the victim’s family in Walking A Country Road.
The stories are set in Boston and Ireland.

REVIEW

★★★★

A collection of exceptionally narrated and well-plotted short stories that depict the complexities of life. Each and every story felt complete and was very different from each other in respect of plots as well as their implications, yet the theme somewhat remained centric to the multi-faceted and emotionally taxing life one has to plough through no matter how much they wish otherwise.

I enjoyed reading all the stories as they were all well-written. This is my second book by the author (the first being Treading The Uneven Road The characterisation was flawless and I was able to relate to each and every central character in this collection. The pacing was good and I found the stories very realistic.

I’d recommend this collection to all the readers who want to take a break from their usual genres and try something new and refreshing.

You can also read this review on Goodreads and Amazon

Book Review: The Latecomers by Rich Marcello

Author: Rich Marcello
Release Date: 15 January 2020
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Family, Relationships
Series: 
Format: E-book
Pages: 294
Publisher: Moonshine Cove Publishing
Blurb:
AN AGING COUPLE AND THEIR CLOSEST FRIENDS PIECE TOGETHER A LIFE-CHANGING PLAN FROM AN OTHERWORLDLY TEXT.
Maggie and Charlie Latecomer, at the beginning of the last third of their lives, love each other but are conflicted over what it means to age well in a youth-oriented society. Forced into early retirement and with grown children in distant cities, they’ve settled into a curbed routine, leaving Charlie restless and longing for more
When the Latecomers and their friends discover a mystical book of indecipherable logographs, the corporeal world and preternatural world intertwine. They set off on a restorative journey to uncover the secrets of the book that pits them against a potent corporate foe in a struggle for the hearts and minds of woman and men the world over.
A treatise on aging, health, wisdom, and love couched in an adventure, The Latecomers will make readers question the nature of deep relationships and the fabric of modern society.

REVIEW

★★★★

The Latecomers by Rich Marcello is a very profound, enriching and meaningful read about an ageing couple, which makes the reader question about a lot of things including one’s purpose in life. But more importantly, it shows us, beautifully and quite truthfully, how life goes on beyond one’s retirement and how we are destined to fulfil our purpose in life irrespective of our age.

It is a beautifully written book, with lyrical prose and with utmost sensitivity on a topic which many people avoid to even acknowledge. This book makes you think hard about your life, it’s valued and, as I said before, one’s purpose. It has a beautiful message wrapped in complex layers of philosophy made entertaining with a sprinkle of magical mystery.

I highly recommend this book to everyone who likes to read on subjects related to philosophy and life’s purpose. Also, people in their middle-ages and above are sure to relate to this book on a much deeper level.

You can also read this review on Goodreads and Amazon

Book Review: Fix Her Up by Tessa Bailey

Author: Tessa Bailey
Release Date: 11th June 2019
Genre: Contemporary Romance Fiction
SeriesHot & Hammered (Book #1)
Edition: Paperback
Pages: 400
Publisher: Harper Collins India
Blurb:
A brand new romantic comedy from New York Times bestseller Tessa Bailey!
Georgette Castle’s family runs the best home renovation business in town, but she picked balloons instead of blueprints and they haven’t taken her seriously since. Frankly, she’s over it. Georgie loves planning children’s birthday parties and making people laugh, just not at her own expense. She’s determined to fix herself up into a Woman of the World… whatever that means.
Phase one: new framework for her business (a website from this decade, perhaps?)
Phase two: a gut-reno on her wardrobe (fyi, leggings are pants.)
Phase three: updates to her exterior (do people still wax?)
Phase four: put herself on the market (and stop crushing on Travis Ford!)
Living her best life means facing the truth: Georgie hasn’t been on a date since, well, ever. Nobody’s asking the town clown out for a night of hot sex, that’s for sure. Maybe if people think she’s having a steamy love affair, they’ll acknowledge she’s not just the “little sister” who paints faces for a living. And who better to help demolish that image than the resident sports star and tabloid favorite?
Travis Ford was major league baseball’s hottest rookie when an injury ended his career. Now he’s flipping houses to keep busy and trying to forget his glory days. But he can’t even cross the street without someone recapping his greatest hits. Or making a joke about his… bat. And then there’s Georgie, his best friend’s sister, who is not a kid anymore. When she proposes a wild scheme—that they pretend to date, to shock her family and help him land a new job—he agrees. What’s the harm? It’s not like it’s real. But the girl Travis used to tease is now a funny, full-of-life woman and there’s nothing fake about how much he wants her…

REVIEW

★★★+1/2

Fix Her Up by Tessa Bailey is a quirky and fun read that was a rather quick read and also pretty enjoyable. Even though the story was full of over-used romance tropes and cliche moments, the characterisation felt vibrant and fresh which totally made up for both these flaws.

The writing was good and it was one of the things I liked the most about the book. The pacing was great as the things moved quickly and made this book a quick 1-2 day read which seems reasonable to me.

I’d recommend this book to all the romance genre lovers and to those who are looking for a light, fun read to take a break from their normal reading lists.

This review is also available on Goodreads and Amazon

Book Review: Those Days In Delhi by Yashodhara Lal

Author: Yashodhara Lal
Release Date: 10th August 2019
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Series:
Edition: Paperback
Pages: 304
Publisher: Harper Collins India
Blurb:
Delhi in the Nineties. And this time, it’s going to be Gudia’s summer. So what if she’s the quintessential awkward middle child? So what if it seems like everything – from the hair sprouting on her legs to teachers making her life miserable – is conspiring against her? She’s taking matters into her own hands, and there’s no way that she’s going to fail. After all, there are three things Gudia is obsessed with – Basketball, the Boy with the American accent…and Winning. But in her desire to win this campaign of middle-school one-upmanship and conceal her plummeting grades, Gudia might just lose all that’s important to her – including herself. Best-selling author Yashodhara Lal is back with this funny, bittersweet and entirely relatable story about growing up; of that summer of innocence, when the world was simpler, and even our problems seemed sweeter.

REVIEW

★★★★

To sum it up in a single sentence, Those Days In Delhi by Yashodhara Lal is a feel-good contemporary read with an interesting story and an equally interesting cast of characters. It was a pretty quick read, mostly because of the well-written prose and also due to the fact that the book was so darn engaging. A really good book that shouldn’t be missed by anyone, especially those who belong to the legendary era of the ’80s and ’90s.

You can also read this review on Goodreads and Amazon

Book Review: Nameless Book: Everyone Has A Story by Deepthi Ayyagari

Author: Deepthi Ayyagari
Release Date: 30th October 2018
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Short Story Collection
Series:
Edition: E-book
Pages: 76
Publisher: WordBuzz Publishing
Blurb:
Everyone has a story. These are stories about people like you and me, about relationships, love and life. Stories that will make you laugh, cry, and feel deeply about. Some of them, you will not forget for a long time to come…

REVIEW

★★★★

Nameless Book by Deepthi Ayyagari is a collection of short stories that explore the broad themes of emotions and life intermingled with witty narration making it a breezy read. It was a very quick and refreshing read as the author did not burden the reader with the needless sentimental baggage of characters keeping her narrative as well as characterisation light yet eventful.

Ass the stories are full of life and essence and I enjoyed them all very much. I was able to read this book in less than an hour and would highly recommend it to those readers who are looking for a quick fix that they can read in their work-break or commute. Honestly, any person who enjoys reading will have a great time reading this book so I recommend it to everyone.

You can also read this review on Goodreads and Amazon

Book Review: Brinda -The Extraordinary Story of An Indian Girl (Femme Fatale) by Deepthi Ayyagari

Author: Deepthi Ayyagari
Release Date: 20th May 2019
Genre: Women Fiction, Contemporary Fiction
Series:
Edition: E-book
Pages: 144
Publisher: 
Blurb:
‘Brinda’ will draw you in bit-by-bit to experience an extraordinary story; for there will always be secret-lives we will never know about, but are free to glimpse through the ‘reel’.
This is Brinda’s story–she was thrown into the local MLA’s house for servitude by the intertwining of her poor family’s greed and a quirk of fate. As she began a new chapter in her life with great anticipation of a financially secure future, fate held darker challenges for her to overcome.
The MLA’s son, Virender, was prying on her blossoming youth. She knew she was sought, and she knew she was bought. As Payal, her only friend in the palatial bungalow plotted her escape, she was not sure if she should go–they both knew some dark and tightly held secrets of the house, and she knew the implications of an escape for herself, and more so, for Payal.
Will Brinda leave or stay on to be exploited? Knowing what could shape out of even the slightest slip, will Brinda take the plunge, or will she resign herself to her fate and wait for what’s in store?
In this intriguing plot filled with choosing between two equally hazardous courses, what does Brinda choose? And what will be the outcome of that choice?
WHAT SHOULD BE ONE’S STAND WHEN DOOM AWAITS IN THE ONLY TWO DIRECTIONS TO TAKE?

REVIEW

★★★★

Brinda -The Extraordinary Story of An Indian Girl (Femme Fatale) by Deepthi Ayyagari is a beautifully written and well-plotted story about a girl named Brinda who has to go through a lot before emerging as a much stronger variant of herself. This story was both, compelling as well as endearing.

The writing, as I mentioned, was good, the characterisation was on point and the story was paced evenly, overall making it a strong read. This is my 3rd book by the author and so far the best one by her, so I was very glad I read this book.

What I loved most about this book was that it offers something that our society needs desperately these days – women empowerment without the pretention of feminism. I have nothing against feminists and feminism whatsoever, but I do have a problem with pseudo-feminists who, by the masses, corrupt the entire movement altogether. I believe in an egalitarian society so I am always in favour of women empowerment and this book is all about showcasing the strength of women. And that is where it scores the brownie points. All this while keeping in mind that the book didn’t feel like it was written with any kind of agenda in mind.

I’d recommend this book to all women’s fiction readers and to everyone who enjoys reading contemporary fiction in general. This book would also make a good read for both feminists as well as the feminazis 😉

You can also read this review on Goodreads and Amazon

Book Review: The Choices We Make by Karma Brown

Author: Karma Brown
Release Date: 12th July 2016
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Women’s Fiction
Series:
Edition: e-book
Pages: 316
Publisher: Mira
Blurb:
Hannah and Kate became friends in the fifth grade, when Hannah hit a boy for looking up Kate’s skirt with a mirror. While they’ve been close as sisters ever since, Hannah can’t help but feel envious of the little family Kate and her husband, David, have created—complete with two perfect little girls.She and Ben have been trying for years to have a baby, so when they receive the news that she will likely never get pregnant, Hannah’s heartbreak is overwhelming. But just as they begin to tentatively explore the other options, it’s Kate’s turn to do the rescuing. Not only does she offer to be Hannah’s surrogate, but Kate is willing to use her own eggs to do so.Full of renewed hope, excitement and gratitude, these two families embark on an incredible journey toward parenthood…until a devastating tragedy puts everything these women have worked toward at risk of falling apart. Poignant and refreshingly honest, The Choices We Make is a powerful tale of two mothers, one incredible friendship and the risks we take to make our dreams come true.

Review

★★★★+1/2

The Choices We Make by Karma Brown is a beautiful, heart-warming and very memorable read about friendships, husband-wife relationships and the unpredictability of life.

This book is one of those books that always stays with the reader. I believe Contemporary Women’s Fiction as a genre has a lot of potential and when the books in this genre are paired with excellent writing, a strong and unyielding plotline and powerful and believable characters, they transform into magic. This book had all these things and so much more. I loved the dialogues in this book a lot because they were good and as a result, each and every conversation felt real. For me, this was the strongest aspect fo this book.

The second best thing about this book was the writing – clean, crisp and clear. As a result, the book felt like a very easy and quick read (something that I always appreciate.) The writing had a very smooth air about it and flowed beautifully complementing this beautiful story. The pacing was spot-on and the tension perfect.

I was totally blown away when the main turning point of the story came; I was left gasping for breath, literally. I did not expect it and it totally broke my heart. It took me a while to digest what actually happened and all the while I kept wishing for it to somehow get undone, but then when it did not, I found myself struggling to grasp what was actually happening just like the characters in the novel. I mean, one thing you know you love a character and then the next thing you know something very bad has happened to them and you totally did not see it coming (I’m remembering Ned Stark’s execution in the first book itself… god! it still hurts!) After having read a lot of books you come to a point where hardly anything surprises you. But this book made me feel emotions I forgot having felt for a long time. This book made me feel like a first time reader who got involved in a book so much that even after having finished the book I am not able to forget the characters.

I’m cutting back 1/2 a star because the author left me sleepless for a couple of nights with such a tragic ending (I hate you for it, Karma Brown, but I love you for writing this book!) I’m sure as hell reading other books by the author. And I’d recommend it to all the readers who have a hunger for really good stories but won’t mind reading about issues related to surrogacy or pregnancy.

this review is also posted on Goodreads and NetGalley

Book Review: The Year Of Oceans by Sean Anderson

Author: Sean Anderson
Release Date: 12th February 2018
Genre: Contemporary Literary Fiction
Series:
Edition: e-book
Pages: 324
Publisher: Riversong Books
Blurb:
Hugo Larson is a retired accountant living in North Seattle. Having recently lost the person most important to him, he attempts to make a life for himself in spite of that gaping absence. While he spends his time swimming, gardening, and accomplishing the mundane tasks of everyday life, he also has several important relationships to manage. Adrian is Hugo’s caring but foolish son, a young man desperately in need of career guidance. Hugo’s brother, Martin, brims with positive energy and a life many would envy: a kind wife, an illustrious teaching career, and a darling granddaughter—but at the implications of retiring. Then there is Paul, a serene next-door neighbor and friend who is haunted by his own loss, who goes on adventures with Hugo through the city. Despite all this, Hugo faces the heaviness of existence, confronts towering questions, embraces and then pushes away those close to him. Through the course of one year, he faces his past, struggles with the present, and questions the future.
What waits for Hugo at the end of that year?

Review

★★★★

The Year Of Oceans by Sean Anderson is a sensitive book about dealing with loss, the overpowering and omnipresent grief that ensues and about individual growth. It was a very likeable read, albeit being on the heavier side of the spectrum.

It was very interesting to read about Hugo, the protagonist, and seeing his journey for an entire year after the loss of his beloved. Many times I found myself feeling a wide spectrum of emotions that the protagonist goes through – sadness, frustration, loneliness, disdain and emptiness. But as the book progresses, the author artfully shows the growth of the main lead in a way that felt very real and relatable.

I loved the writing of the author as it complimented the story well. The story had a good flow to it and I was able to navigate through it easily. I liked the story from start to end, and in spite of an unexpected ending, I felt it was very apt for the book.

The best part about this book, though, was that the subject of death and the grief that one has to cope with afterwards (which is a very tricky one) was handled, to my pleasant surprise, quite skillfully with the much-needed delicateness and subtlety. It was a bit hard for me to read this book as the subject of loss, personally, is agonising for me to handle, but I’m glad that the author respected a person’s sense of loss, in general, and worked gracefully around it, touching on the nerves only as required.

A wonderful book for a debut novel that I’d recommend to everyone and anyone who can handle reading about loss, grief and pain related to a close one’s death.

this review is also posted on Goodreads and Amazon

Book Review: Spencer’s Risk by Andy Greenhalgh

Author: Andy Greenhalgh
Release Date: 17th April 2018
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Dark Comedy
Series:
Edition: e-book
Pages: 185
Publisher:
Blurb:
SPENCER’S RISK is a dark comic novel. Burnt out and broke, university Drama lecturer Spencer Leyton is a compulsive gambler, estranged from his wife and children and driving his career over a cliff. His some-time friend Justin invites him to a high-stakes poker game. (‘Justin could sell snow to the Eskimos – literally. For some months he had sold cocaine to the Inuit community in Copenhagen’.) The game ends with Spencer owing £10,000 to Paula Malone, the head of a criminal gang.
At work, Spencer is sexually obsessed with a wealthy and glamourous student called Eva. She commits plagiarism,
an offence usually punished by expulsion, but bribes him with £3000 to keep quiet about it. Spencer has inside information about a football game, so he bets the £3000 on it, and that is when things really start to go wrong…
Eva demands the leading role in the College Showcase Production, with disastrous results. (‘Eva was not wearing the costume she had worn in the Dress Rehearsal. Eva was wearing a sporran. And very little else’)
Paula’s deadline runs out. It looks like curtains for Spencer Leyton…

Review

★★★★

Spencer’s Risk by Andy Greenhalgh is a delightful and enjoyable new contemporary read with lots of dark humour highlighted by sarcastic undertones.

It was a very enjoyable book and I had a good time reading it. The characterization was good which was a big plus given the entire story heavily depended on the main protagonist, Spencer. He was very believable and pretty relatable. Even though he landed up in extreme situations, I was able to relate to his worries and dilemmas and hence, was able to connect to him easily.

The writing was clean and good and the author’s clever sense of humour shone through the entire book nicely. I’d recommend it to anyone looking for a light and refreshing contemporary book.

this review is also posted on Goodreads and Amazon

Book Review: Kaitlin’s Mooring by Carey V. Azzara

Author: Carey V. Azzara
Release Date: 3rd July 2018
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Family Drama, Romance
Series:  
Edition: E-book
Pages: 208
Publisher: Glass Spider Publishing
Blurb:
Nothing is more horrific than losing a child, nothing more joyous than the birth of one. When grief intertwines with joy, it throws the Deveau family into turmoil.

Pregnant twenty-year-old Kaitlin Deveau leaves Boston University in a hurry when Henry, her grandfather, calls from Maine with devastating news. Bereft of hope, Kaitlin’s son, Christopher, becomes a life preserver, keeping the family buoyant. Henry, now Chris’s only male role model, teaches him lessons he uses throughout life. In the end, Chris and his adopted sister, Susan, must save their parents from the fate that took his grandparents–but the outcome is uncertain.

Review

★★★★

Kaitlin’s Mooring by Carey V. Azzara is a beautiful story about relationships and family.

This book was surprisingly good and I savoured reading every minute of it. The overall story was a feast and the writing was pretty good and the characters strong and believable. The character’s inner conflicts seemed real and they complemented the carefully woven tale very well. The beginning was slow but built up steadily and the ending proved to be apt.

Except for a few minor pacing issues, I enjoyed the book thoroughly. I’d recommend it to all contemporary fiction readers and to those readers who want to explore new authors and books.

this review is also posted on Goodreads and Amazon

ARC Review: How To Walk Away By Katherine Centre

Author: Katherine Center
Release Date: 15th May 2018
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Women’s Fiction
Series:  
Edition: E-book
Pages: 320
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Blurb:
From the author of Happiness for Beginners comes an unforgettable love story about finding joy even in the darkest of circumstances.
Margaret Jacobsen is just about to step into the bright future she’s worked for so hard and so long: a new dream job, a fiancé she adores, and the promise of a picture-perfect life just around the corner. Then, suddenly, on what should have been one of the happiest days of her life, everything she worked for is taken away in a brief, tumultuous moment.
In the hospital and forced to face the possibility that nothing will ever be the same again, Maggie must confront the unthinkable. First there is her fiancé, Chip, who wallows in self-pity while simultaneously expecting to be forgiven. Then, there’s her sister Kit, who shows up after pulling a three-year vanishing act. Finally, there’s Ian, her physical therapist, the one the nurses said was too tough for her. Ian, who won’t let her give in to her pity, and who sees her like no one has seen her before. Sometimes the last thing you want is the one thing you need. Sometimes we all need someone to catch us when we fall. And sometimes love can find us in the least likely place we would ever expect.
How to Walk Away is Katherine Center at her very best—a masterpiece of a novel that is both hopeful and hilarious; truthful and wise; tender and brave.

Praise for How to Walk Away:

“A heartbreak of a novel that celebrates resilience and strength.” —Jill Santopolo, bestselling author of The Light We Lost

“If you just read one book this year,
read How to Walk Away.” —Nina George, New York Times bestselling author of The Little Paris Bookshop

“Warm, witty, and wonderfully observed.” —Emily Giffin, New York Times bestselling author of First Comes Love“Sympathetic and refreshing!” —Elinor Lipman, bestselling author of The Family Man

“I can’t think of a blurb good enough for this novel…poignant, funny, heartbreaking.” —Jenny Lawson, bestselling author ofFuriously Happy

Review

★★★★+1/2

How To Walk Away by Katherine Center is a beautiful book about loss, love, courage and hope that has a lot to offer to its readers apart from an exceptional story.

I am so glad that I read this book! It is a really, really good book and has taught me a lot of things about forgiveness – which definitely doesn’t come easy, loss – which does hurt a lot, and hope – which, even though difficult to hold onto, can turn around one’s life.

This book had a delightful mixture of a well thought-out storyline, a string of not only believable and realistic but also very relatable characters, very engaging yet simple writing with an exceptional sense of humour and an excellent ending.

What I really loved about this book was that the author didn’t sugarcoat things, she put things forward the way they are in real life, but she did it so without being overdramatic. I generally shy away from reading books with illness/medical situations because most of the authors present the pain in such horrific (sometimes honest, sometimes not) details and the overall experiences, more often than not, leaves a very bitter taste in my mouth. That said, if done right, these books are nothing short of magic because they have a lot of lessons and takeaways along with a good story (which, as a reader, is always the main thing for me.) For example, I loved John Green’s The Fault In Our Stars, but I didn’t really like Nicola Yoon’s Everything, Everything.

I’d recommend this book not only to all the contemporary fiction readers but to anyone and everyone who wants to read a really, really good book.

this review is also posted on Goodreads, Netgalley and Amazon

Book Review: Small Hours by Jennifer Kitses

Author: Jennifer Kitses
Release Date: 13th June 2017
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Edition: Ebook
Pages: 288
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Blurb:

In the vein of Richard Russo and Tom Perrotta, a gripping, suspenseful, and gorgeous debut novel–told hour-by-hour over the course of a single day–in which a husband and wife try to outrun long-buried secrets, sending their lives spiraling into chaos.

REVIEW

★★★★ + 1/2

Small Hours by Jennifer Kitses is an intense read that is sure to leave a mark on the readers.

Given the short and undescriptive blurb of this book, I wasn’t sure what exactly to expect from it. Though sceptical, I decided to give it a try as it kind of intrigued me. Anyway, reading a book without knowing anything about the story is quite exciting, at least for me, so I went ahead and read it. By the quarter mark, I was glad that I did so as this book turned out to be an excellent example of what exactly a contemporary fiction book should be like.

I liked the plot and the basic premise of the story. It was a very intense read about the complexities of relationships and how people change with time and their thought-process and reactions get impacted accordingly. The characterization was brilliant and though I didn’t connect tot he characters personally, I was very engaged int heir day-to-day life.

The beginning of the story was very engaging and the ending was utterly perfect, it was so good in fact that I read the last part thrice to soak it all in – the way issues were confronted and handled. I loved the inner conflicts in this book and really marvelled the author’s writing style.

If you want to read one contemporary fiction this year, make sure this is it.

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Book Review: Going All In by Stephanie C. Lyons-Keeley and Wayne J. Keeley

Author: Stephanie C. Lyons-Keeley & Wayne J. Keeley
Release Date: 17th October 2017
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Adult, Light Erotica
Edition: Ebook
Pages: 359
Publisher: Melange Books

Blurb:

Three mismatched suburban couples, Steve and Katie, Marty and Erin, and Scarlett and C. Thomas, have been neighbors and friends for years. During a pummeling Connecticut Nor’Easter, the members of the bored triptych engage in a friendly game of Texas Hold’em in front of a fire and over more than a few bottles of Merlot. The impromptu get-together eventually leads to the institution of alcohol-driven, bi-weekly poker nights.
One evening on a lark, someone suggests an alternate payout – instead of pocket change, the winner may choose a player (other than his or her spouse) with whom to spend the night. The proposition takes shape, but complications arise as these things will.
All too quickly, friendships are strained and relationships begin to crumble. Lies are told, truths are exposed, and feelings are hurt. In the end, can anyone bear the weight of this wanton self-indulgence? They are six fully consenting adults, and after all, it’s only a game. Or is it?

Review

★★★★+1/2

Going All In by Stephanie C. Lyons-Keeley & Wayne J. Keeley is a contemporary fiction (bordering on erotic fiction) written very well by the husband-wife author duo and rich with authentic characterization.

When I read the blurb of this book, I was quite intrigued yet a little sceptic, but having read the authors’ previous book DeadraiserI accepted the book knowing how the writing would be. And to my utter pleasure, the book turned out to be really good!

I loved the way the story was told as the easy flow of the writing made reading this book not only easy but also very quick. There was a use of different POVs which helped me in relating to most of the characters. But the best part about this book was the characterization. The characters were so realistic that it was hard to imagine that it wasn’t a true story. All the characters were unique and had qualities that made them real and relatable. I was really vouching for Steve and Katie’s relationship but I must say that the end was nothing short of satisfying given what he did.

In this book, the authors beautifully experiments and bring us face to face with different human tendencies that anyone can or would exhibit. I’m sure that about eighty percent of the people I know are like Steve; they know what they really want but always try to do the right thing and not think about anything else really.

I’d recommend this book to all the contemporary readers and Poker lovers (you’d love the book just for the kicks alone.)

PS: The book is not outright erotica but it does have some pretty explicit scenes.

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ARC Review: The Flawed Ones – A Story of Mental Illness, Addiction and Love by Jay Chirino

Author: Jay Chirino
Release Date: 2nd November 2017
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Mental Illness
Edition: e-book
Pages: 260
Publisher: Archway Publishing

Blurb:

After leaving behind a trail of drug-addled destruction, Jay finds himself confined to the walls of a psychiatric hospital. He is now compelled to confront his actions, his issues, and the past that led him to such downhill spiral. But what surprisingly affects him most are the people that he becomes surrounded by; people with considerable deficiencies that will shed some light on the things that truly matter in life.

“The Flawed Ones” is a thorough examination of the struggles of mental illness, depression, addiction, and the effects they have on the human condition. Most importantly, it proves that physical and mental shortcomings do not necessarily define who we truly are inside- that the heart is, in fact, untouched by our “flaws”, and that love will always prevail above all.

Review

The Flawed Ones by Jay Chirino is a very interesting book on a subject that is not only sensitive but also taboo for many people – mental illness.

The beauty of this book lies in the fact that it not only concentrates on the mental illness but it also tells us about what lies beyond the dark face of the illness itself. This book is a highly compelling and a very intelligent book.

The writing is good and it complimented the story quite well. The descriptions were painfully realistic and I was able to connect to the lead character’s angst. Reading this book made all the situations Jay had to go through, feel very… intimate and real.

The starting of the book was simple yet powerful and good. Even the Author’s Note was really good. As the story progressed I found myself unable to put the book down. It was gripping on an emotional level and that is where this book impressed me.

I’d recommend this book to everyone who likes reading as we all, from time to time, have or will come across people and/or situations where this kind of intense familiarity in regards to mental illness might prove very helpful. If you don’t want to read this book for entertaining purpose then read it for the sake of awareness.

More from the author:
- Author Interview: Jay Chirino
- Book Excerpt: The Flawed Ones by Jay Chirino

Goodreads

Book Review: Running: The Best Cure For The Worst Relationship by Richard Cohen

41csfc879al-_sx331_bo1204203200_Author: Richard Cohen
Release Date: – (ARC)
Series: 
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Relationships
Edition: E-book
Pages: 356
Publisher:  Createspace

Rating: ★★★

Blurb:

Estranged twins Brian and Amy are sixty years old when chance throws them together at a party. A blow-up on Amy’s part sets them on a course that leads to the reconciliation of their love, friendship, and emotional attachment. Years of no communication, petty differences and pent up anger, wiped away their comfort,friendship and love. A tragedy for twins who were inseparable as children. In the midst of a wedding reception Amy makes a public spectacle of herself and becomes enraged at her brother and throws down the gauntlet that she can run a marathon, as her brother had done eighteen times before. Facing humiliation, Amy sets out to train and run a marathon while losing over eighty pounds. Through the pains, pride, honesty and self-reflection of running, Amy gains contentment and happiness that she always yearned for, which money and materials never could fulfill. With a much improved sense of self and a feeling of pride and confidence, Amy opens herself up to regain what she had lost with her brother– love and friendship.

Review

Running: The Best Cure For The Worst Relationship by Richard Cohen is a light-hearted contemporary read centered around running.

I liked the basic concept of the story and the story build-up was decent. I did like the main characters but was not able to feel a strong connection with them. They were likable enough for me to read this book till the end to see how things end for them and for me that was a relief.

The story is about a twin brother and sister duo, Brian and Amy, who are kind of estranged and cross path after a while in an unsuspecting wedding where they end up in a bet in which Amy, who is fat and unfit, decides to run a marathon. As I said earlier, the concept was really interesting and the story turned out to be really good by the end, but there were a few issues with it that made me rate this book lower than I would have loved to rate it otherwise.

First of all, there was endless head-hopping. The story was written in the third-person omniscient narration and the POV shifts were understandable, but what I didn’t like was the abrupt shifts in POVs. There were some POVs of secondary characters too but only for a couple of paragraphs in between the POVs of the main characters. And that was really off-putting, to say the least.

Secondly, the story progression felt a bit slack due to continuous and abrupt change in timelines. In one paragraph you’re in present, the next one you’re reading about 20 years younger Brian. These timeline shifts were not technically right so it was also a bit of a downer.

Other than these two issues, though, there was nothing major that affected the book in a negative way. The story is good and I’m sure that if you can see past, or completely ignore, the technicalities of fiction writing (which, for the life of me, I can’t) then I’m sure you’ll enjoy this story.

Book Review: Black-Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin

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Author: Julia Heaberlin
Release Date:
11th August, 2015
Series: None
Genre: Mystery | Psychological-Thriller | Suspense | Crime | Contemporary | Adult
Edition: Kindle (.mobi)
Pages: 369
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Source: NetGalley
Buy it here: Amazon

Rating: ★★★★

Blurb:

A girl’s memory lost in a field of wildflowers.
A killer still spreading seeds.
At seventeen, Tessa became famous for being the only surviving victim of a vicious serial killer. Her testimony put him on death row. Decades later, a mother herself, she receives a message from a monster who should be in prison. Now, as the execution date rapidly approaches, Tessa is forced to confront a chilling possibility: Did she help convict the wrong man?

Review

Black Eyed Susans has a really unique plotline which is brilliant, to say the least. The pacing was great and the twists and turns, along with the suspense build-up was amazing. I enjoyed this book a lot and I’m eagerly waiting to read more books by the author.

The alternating POVs of the lead at 2 different ages provided an ingenious angle to the story and makes it all the more interesting.  I enjoyed the young  POV of the lead character (Tessie) because it was the read deal, but the older one (Tessa) wasn’t disappointing either.

The characterization was great and I was able to feel a strong connection with the main character – Tess (both the selves of her – Tessa and Tessie), which added a new flair to the book. The secondary characters were also well-developed and I was able to connect to almost all of them.

The book started with a great beginning and I couldn’t resist myself from getting lost in this book right from the beginning. And throughout the book, the story had an air of gloominess to it which makes this book a perfect suspense read.

The only thing I didn’t like about this book was the ending. The ending felt a little rushed and it came off as if not a lot of thought was put into it. After reading such a great story I was expecting a little more creativity (and also sinistral thinking) towards the end. It wasn’t well executed and it really made me sad because I had to cut back on a star from its rating.

Still, I’d say this book is worth reading. I’d recommend this book to everyone who enjoys multiple POVs and mystery, thriller and suspense novels.

Other Stuff

Opening Line: Thirty-two hours of my life are missing.

Highlights: Storyline

Lowlights: Ending

Memorable Quote:

People appreciate pretty fantasies like this, where there is a feisty hero, even when there is no factual basis for it.

Final Thoughts: A brilliant psychological thriller.


You can also read this review at Goodreads, Amazon, and NetGalley.

Novella Review: Home Is Where The Start Is (Roseland #1)

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Author: Eric Ugland
Release Date: January 29, 2015 
Series: Roseland Series
Book: Book 1
Genre: Contemporary Detective Fiction | Cozy Mystery | Cozy Paranormal 
Edition: E-Book (mobi) 
Pages: 113
Publisher: Air Quites Publishing 
Source: Author 
Buy it here: Amazon

Blurb

When Ginger Mitchell finds out her mother committed suicide, she packs up her life as a Vegas “dancer” (hey, somebody’s gotta do it) and drives her cherry-red SUV straight home to Portland. Without a disapproving mom to rebel against, what was the point?
But things aren’t what they seem once Ginger gets to the City of Roses. For one, nothing about her mother’s suicide adds up, but no one else even wants to entertain the idea that it could’ve been murder. No one that is, except the ghost of Ginger’s mother, who keeps scaring the crap out of her. It’s probably just a psychotic break because of the grief, right? Sure.
In any case, it’s during one of these visits from Ghost Mom that Ginger decides to solve the murder on her own. She really only ever wanted to be a cop, so maybe she should start a private detective business and see where it takes her. And look, that hippie kid running down the street after a muscle car right now probably needs help. Another case!

Rating

4-stars

Review

Home Is Where The Start Is started off pretty well. I really liked the don’t-give-a-damn attitude of Ginger and most of all the first line that really kick started the book. As I went along it kept on getting more and more interesting. As it’s the first book in Roseland series, it dedicated a good amount of time in setting up the basics (characters, locations, situations, etc.) and honestly, I  enjoyed reading every bit of it.

The writing is exceptional and packs a big dose of humor. I loved the imagery and at more than a dozen occasions it made me laugh out loud.

The book ended on a high note and left me craving for more. I had low expectations from the book considering that it borders on the paranormal realm, but I really enjoyed the ghost angle. Though what I really found strange was Ginger’s mother’s personality. She seemed a little opposite of what was expecting her to be especially  considering her profession. Maybe in the next book it’ll be clearer.

For a novella, this book really packs a punch and is totally worth the time spent on reading it. I’d recommend it to anyone really as it’s a nice cozy mystery to read and enjoy.

You can also read this review at: 
Goodreads and Amazon

Other Stuff

Opening Line: I wish I hadn’t been sucking cock when my mother died, but I was.

Highlights: Storytelling

Lowlights: 

Final Thoughts: A nice and cozy mystery.

Book Review: Southern Solstice

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Author: Sarah Sadler
Release Date: June 2, 2015 
Series: None 
Genre: Contemporary Romance  
Edition: Kindle (.mobi)
Pages: 404
Publisher: Blue French Press
Source: NetGalley (Requested by Tammi Weed, Director of Media Relations, Modern PR.)
Buy it here: Amazon

Blurb

As rich and distinctive as the Lowcountry itself, Southern Solstice presents a clever and charismatic journey of love, heartache, adaptation and emotional fortitude as told through a patina of family heritage.

When twenty-four-year-old Larken Devereaux is left brokenhearted by her fiancé on the West Coast, she reluctantly returns to her charmed aristocratic roots in Charleston, South Carolina to rebuild her life and gain self-determination in a prominent southern family that offers everything and requires nothing.

As her impetuous mother orchestrates a reunion with a first love, Larken becomes entangled in a dilemma where she must choose between an intriguing, passionate plastic surgeon—who is anything but superficial—and the annoyingly irresistible man who has silently loved her forever.

Rating4half-stars

Review

Plot Story:

The plot-line of this book is really impressive considering it’s a contemporary-romance story. I enjoyed reading this book and would felt myself pulled into the story from the beginning till the end.
I had a great time reading it and this book will make an excellent summer read. I’d recommend to anyone who loves the genre. I’m not a huge fan of romance novels but this book really stood out. The simplicity of the plot is commendable and so is the rich writing and characterisation.

Characters:

I absolutely loved the characterisation in this book. I was able to feel a strong connection with the lead character- Larken Devereaux. I also loved the male leads – Jackson and Miles.

To be honest, I loved all the other characters as well and felt like I’d known them forever. Each and every character had substance and spoke for itself making the reader feel so comfortable reading the book that you’d want to loose yourself in it.

Romance:

It’s a romance fiction… so figures. The sizzling chemistry between Larken and Jackson is to die for. But when Miles comes into the picture, everything gets upside down and that’s when the the subtle bond between Larken and Miles starts to shine through. It’s amazing how the author not only successfully pulled off a love triangle but also ended it on a brilliant note.

To my surprise, I found myself enjoying the little moments of lovey-dovey stuff without actually cringing away from it. And that’s how, at least for me, a romance book should be.

Writing:

The writing is rich, as I already said, with a few new and heavy words sprinkled here and there. I enjoy this type of writing and I’m looking forward to read more books by the author. The book is written in third-person omniscient narration and the imagery created by the author is brilliant and I thoroughly enjoyed the detailed narration. That said, yes, there were times, especially in the second half of the book, when I skimmed over a few lines here and there. But maybe that’s because I was so curious to find out how it all comes together in the end.

Beginning:

I thoroughly enjoyed the book from the beginning. The emotional turbulence at the very beginning of the book pulled me right in and instantly connected me with the female lead – Larken. After that as I read further the story got more and more interesting with each and every page. I love books with powerful beginnings as they draw me inside from the start and this book did just that.

Ending:

The book ended on a brilliant note and the ending itself was quite surprising. Generally, in romance novels the ending is pretty predictable but in this book but in this case it came as a pleasant surprise and it beautifully pulled out Larken from the web of a love triangle.

Cover Art:

I absolutely adore the cover art. I think it’s pretty classy and goes well with the theme of the book (esp. with Bunny’s quote – Jewels anyone crown.)

Blurb:

The blurb seems perfect to me. I accepted the book based on the blurb itself.

You can also read this review at Goodreads, Amazon and NetGalley.

Other Stuff

Opening Line: “Don’t make this harder on me than it already is, Larken.”

Highlights: Brilliant plot.

Lowlights: A little too descriptive in the second-half.

Memorable Quotes:

Jewels On Your Crown.

And then she thought of Dr. Miles and the scar he had promised not to leave. Then she realised in a strange, hopeless way that he had left one anyway. Men always do.

If the shoe don’t fit, run barefoot the other way.

When you trouble yourself to be obligated to someone, they better have already proved their worth to you.

Final Thoughts: A brilliant summer read.


Review by:

pics-2 copyHeena Rathore P. aka The Reading Bud

My name is Heena and I’m a freelance writer, blogger and a book-reviewer (and soon-to-be author.) I’m an introvert, thinker, neat freak (cleanliness OCD), hardcore idealist, fitness junkie, music fanatic, compulsive reader, self-assertive, opinionated, dog lover and an atheist.

The Reading Bud is my brain-child and is a huge part of my life. I love reading and reviewing. What started as a hobby has become my passion.

Read more about me here.


Book Review: Missing Melissa

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Author: Alretha Thomas 
Release Date:  5th May, 2015 
Series: None 
Genre: NA | Mystery |Relationships | 
Edition: Kindle (mobi)
Pages: 301
Publisher: Divers Arts Collective
Source: Author (Thanks Alretha!) via NetGalley
Buy it here: Amazon

Blurb

Twenty-two years old with a journalism degree from UCLA and a promising entry level position at a television station, Madeline Patterson is ready to take on the Universe. Raised by two loving parents, adored by her grandmother, protected by her dog, Pepper, and supported by her best friend—Madeline has it all. There’s only one thing missing—literally missing—her identical twin, Melissa.

When Madeline and Melissa were three-years-old, their mother was carjacked in broad daylight while taking them to a doctor’s appointment. She was able to get away with Madeline in tow, but the assailants left the scene before she could rescue Melissa. A long and massive search ensued, but Melissa was never found and is believed to be dead. However, a dream Madeline has on her twenty-second birthday, wherein Melissa appears to her as a grown woman pleading for help, convinces her Melissa is still alive. Against her parents’ wishes, Madeline vows to find her twin. However, in doing so, she unknowingly stumbles upon a series of startling clues that point to her parents’ possible involvement in Melissa’s disappearance. Paralyzed by fear, Madeline doesn’t want to face what could possibly be the ugly and grim truth about her parents. However, her desire to find Melissa propels her forward—but nothing could prepare her for what she discovers.

Rating

4half-stars

Review

Plot/Story:

I enjoyed the plot a lot. The pace of the story was good, it was neither slow nor super fast, just the way a my. Everything happened at the right time. So, the timing of the twists were really good to keep the readers hooked.

I really enjoyed the little pieces that kept on twisting the plot. It really kept me on the edge right till the very end. There were so many possibilities that came in mind and I suppose, that’s how a really good mystery is supposed to be.

Characters:

I was able to relate to all the characters. I loved all the characters, especially that of Madeline, her BFF Ruby and her pet Pepper. There was such a beautiful connection between Ruby and Pepper that I fell in love with them right from the start. Ruby is a friend to die for, and a one who’ll die for you.

I felt a real connection with Madeline and still feel that she’s a close friend or a real person (which is really rare in mystery books.)

I loved the Madeline’s family as well and the last part of the book focused beautifully on the unique relation between the twins. I enjoyed knowing all the characters as each and every one of them had a unique spark to their personalities.

Romance:

The relationship between Madeline and Sam was really cute. It was a refreshing given the mystery involved in the book.

It developed slowly (which was perfect given Madeline’s situation) and Sam was a perfect gentleman. I really enjoyed the subtle growth of their relationship and the way it took shape at the end of the book.

Plus, it really justified Sam’s interest in a long lost case inspite of all the weak and insufficient evidences.

Writing:

Alretha Thomas’ writing had a very easy flow to it. I loved it and the fact that she kept it subtle. No unnecessarily complex words as I hate digging the dictionary again and again (even on Kindle.) You can just start the book with an unexplainable ease. Her writing, or to put it correctly, her story-telling helped me glide through the entire book smoothly. I enjoyed reading this books and now I’ve decided to read all her other books as well.

Beginning:

The biting had a great pace and I was sucked into the plot right from the start. I loved having the descriptor of most of the characters’ personalities in the beginning itself. I was

Ending:

I enjoyed the ending a lot. The mystery was brilliant and there no way I could have guessed who was actually behind the kidnapping. It was totally unexpected and I loved it.

Blurb:

The blurb for Missing Melissa is just perfect. I accepted this book for review after reading the blurb. As soon as I read it, I knew I really wanted to read this book.

Cover Art:

To be honest I have mixed feeling about the cover for this book. It’s not excellent but it’s not even dull. I like the mirror reflecting the chic as it symbolises the twins but for a book this good there should have a much serious cover that can radiate the feeling of mystery.

You can also read this review at Goodreads and Amazon.

Other Stuff

Opening Line: She’s not dead.

Highlights: Brilliant plot-line

Lowlights: None

Memorable Quotes:

God help me to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Normal is a setting on a washing machine and not what our lives are supposed to be.

Final Thoughts: A refreshing mystery.


Review by:

pics-2 copyHeena Rathore P.

My name is Heena and I’m a freelance writer, blogger and a book-reviewer (and soon-to-be author.) I’m an introvert, thinker, neat freak (cleanliness OCD), hardcore idealist, fitness junkie, music fanatic, compulsive reader, self-assertive, opinionated, dog lover and an atheist.

The Reading Bud is my brain-child and is a huge part of my life. I love reading and reviewing. What started as a hobby has become my passion.

Read more about me here.


ARC Review: Her Sister’s Shoes

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Author: Ashley Farley 
Release Date:  24th June, 2015 (I received an ARC)
Series: None 
Genre: Contemporary Fiction | Relationships | Family
Edition: Kindle (mobi)
Pages: 
Publisher: Leisure Time Books
Source: Author (Thanks Ashley!)
Buy it here: Amazon

Book Review: Girl Nevermore

22931555Genre: YA | Contemporary | Dark-Fiction

My Rating: 3 + 1/2

Read my review of Girl Nevermore at JC’s Book Haven.

You can also read this review at Goodreads.

Blurb: Last week, Cooper Mesa was a quiet, studious bookworm.
This week, she feels unworthy of love or forgiveness.
When Cooper’s twin sister, Kayla, tries to end her own life, Cooper blames herself. If only she had paid more attention…
Desperate to understand her sister’s decision, Cooper starts down a dark path, discovering her own inner turmoil. Losing herself is easy, but finding a reason to live is becoming impossible.

Book Review: This Is Sarah

22360316Genre: Contemporary Fiction | YA | Romance

My Rating: 

Read my review of This Is Sarah at JC’s Book Haven.

You can also read this review at Goodreads.

BLURB

When Colin Leventhal leaned out his bedroom window on the night of May 12th and said goodbye to his girlfriend, he never expected it would be forever. But when Sarah Evans goes missing that night, Colin’s world unravels as he transforms from the boyfriend next door to the main police suspect. Then one year later, at her memorial service, Colin makes a phone call that changes everything. Is it possible that Sarah is still alive? And if so how can he bring her back?

As Colin struggles with this possibility, across the street, Sarah’s little sister, Claire learns how to navigate the strange new landscape of life without her sister. While her parents fall apart, Claire remains determined to keep going even if it kills her.

THIS IS SARAH serves as a meditation on loss, love and what it means to say goodbye.

Don’t forget to share your thoughts 🙂

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