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ARC Review: Pretty Girl by Amy Heugh

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Published: July 29th 2014

Pages: 393

Summary: If there were one day that she could change it would be the day she was taken.

After her parents’ divorce, seventeen-year-old Izzy Scott and her mother move to the old town of St. Augustine to begin a new life, a life beyond the media attention and the memories of the traumatic experiences that left an everlasting affect on their family.

The former ballerina is trying to adjust to the outside world without suffering a panic attack and exposing who she is – all while getting through her senior year at a new school. That’s easy to say until she meets local boy Mason Winchester, a boy with a tragic past.

Mason has a reputation for violence, but a love for motorcycles. At the age of eleven he lost his mother to cancer and from then he has been running from something, but could never really get away.

Like any other angry teenager, he just wants to be left alone and to have nothing to do with anyone else because he believed that he had nothing to offer. That changes the moment he saw what was in the new girl eyes.

Tragedy wasn’t new to either of their lives but among the secrets and the memories the one thing they both never excepted was to find hope.

*This book is recommended for readers 18+ for violence, language, and some adult situations.*

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Read from August 08 to 10, 2014

 

I received this book free from Amy Heugh in exchange for an honest review.And damn me to hell, I will post an honest review here.

First thing first. The plot? Predictable. The pace? Painfully slow. The most of writers would squeeze the events in some short story or a novella, but not Amy. Why? I’ll get to this later. There’s not much “action” here; Isabella and Mason (I feel myself wincing now-I hate heroines named Isabella, Izzy, or Bella with passon-but it’s just me, I guess)are hardly likeable at first. Pretty girl contains inner monologues, mostly.

Normally I’d have given such a book one or two stars, depends.

Why not now?

The writing is incredible. Every sentence is a work of art. I took my time with this book and I found myself simply admiring the beauty of Amy Heugh’s style.

And when I finished her book I thought that there’s a reason for all that bad things I’ve enumerated above. Amy Heugh wanted it to be this way. The plot, the pace, the lack of torrent of events.

Her book is a metaphor for life after breakdown, for life full of guilt and self-hatred. For redemption.

That’s why I’m giving it 4 stars.

Rating: 4/5
 
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Posted by on August 11, 2014 in reviews

 

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ARC Review: The River Leith by Leta Blake

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Published: May 15th 2014

Pages: 173

Summary: Memory is everything.

After an injury in the ring, amateur boxer Leith Wenz wakes to discover his most recent memories are three years out of date. Unmoored and struggling to face his new reality, Leith must cope anew with painful revelations about his family. His brother is there to support him, but it’s the unfamiliar face of Zach, a man introduced as his best friend, that provides the calm he craves. Until Zach’s presence begins to stir up feelings Leith can’t explain.

For Zach, being forgotten by his lover is excruciating. He carefully hides the truth from Leith to protect them both from additional pain. His bottled-up turmoil finds release through vlogging, where he confesses his fears and grief to the faceless Internet. But after Leith begins to open up to him, Zach’s choices may come back to haunt him.

Ultimately, Leith must ask his heart the questions memory can no longer answer.

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Read from August 04 to 05, 2014

Braved the forests, braved the stone
Braved the icy winds and fire
Braved and beat them on my own
Yet I’m helpless by the river.
I’ve faced the quakes, the wind, the fire
I’ve conquered country, crown, and throne
Why can’t I cross this river?

Pay no mind to the battles you’ve won
It’ll take a lot more than rage and muscle
Open your heart and hands, my son
Or you’ll never make it over the river

It’ll take a lot more than words and guns
A whole lot more than riches and muscle
The hands of the many must join as one
And together we’ll cross the river.

The lyrics of this particular song (Puscifer-The Humbling River)came to my mind as soon as I finished The River Leith. The song and its lyrics are beautiful. As beatiful as the book.

I’ve read some various realizations of the plot idea, but I don’t think it was a cliché. The author apologized in afterword for oversiplification of amnesia and brain trauma and said that she’d decided to explore the well-worn romance idea. And it was a good move.

The River Leith was a very good read for me.

My copy was an ARC I received from the publisher for an honest review.

 

Rating: 4/5

 
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Posted by on August 8, 2014 in reviews

 

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ARC Review: No Flag by Liz Borino

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Expected publication: October 23rd 2013 by Lazy Day Publishing

Summary: For Mike and Will, “No Flag” meant “come home alive”, but will their love survive what happens next?

Captain Mike Kelley does not ignore his intuition, so when sexy bartender Will Hayes captures his heart, Mike embarks on a mission to win him over to a Domestic Discipline relationship. Will accepts with one caveat: Mike must promise not to renew his Army contract. Mike agrees, and they spend a year building a life together, getting married, and starting a business.

Only days before their café’s grand opening, Mike receives news that threatens everything he and Will have built. The Army invokes the Stop Loss military policy to involuntarily extend his commission and send him back overseas. Will, left alone to cope with the café, must rely on the support of old friends who may be no longer be trustworthy. Through emails and Skype calls, Mike and Will keep their love and structure alive…until the day a horrific terrorist attack occurs on Mike’s outpost.

Mike awakens in a hospital with a devastating injury and no his memory of the attack. As the only survivor, Mike’s memory may be the key to national security. Mike struggles to cope with his injury and Will struggles to support the man who always held him up. Both fear they have lost their previous relationship. Will has Mike back rather than a folded flag, but in the aftermath of war, can they rebuild the life they had before? Especially when those closest to them may not have their best interests at heart?

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Read from October 14 to 15, 2013
No flag means “Come back home safe and sound. I refuse to receive the folded flag on your funeral”. It means “I will take care of myself, I will be careful, I won’t be reckless”.One of the main characters is a soldier. Military and gay – is there a better mix of guilty pleasure for a sinful reader?

The book of Liz Borino surprised me on many levels. Enough to say that I forgot to check my percentage progress of reading and there was so many moments I was quite sure that the book was at its end. But no. The plot was maybe a little bit predictable, but good.

I was not very fond of Domestic Discipline relationship of the main characters – it’s not my cup of tea after all, and I had a moments when I was like “I would strangle him” or “Fold your goddamned clothes yourself” (the dominant had an OCD). But it was a good story, I’ve read it with pleasure. I didn’t love it, but I liked it enough to give it 3.5 stars rounded down.

Rating: 3/5
 
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Posted by on October 18, 2013 in reviews

 

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ARC Review: Bad Idea by Damon Suede

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Expected publication: October 21st 2013 by Dreamspinner Press

Pages: 333

Summary: Some mistakes are worth making.

Reclusive comic book artist Trip Spector spends his life doodling super-square, straitlaced superheroes, hiding from his fans, and crushing on his unattainable boss until he meets the dork of his dreams. Silas Goolsby is a rowdy FX makeup creator with a loveless love life and a secret streak of geek who yearns for unlikely rescues and a truly creative partnership.

Against their better judgment, they fall victim to chemistry, and what starts as infatuation quickly grows tender and terrifying. With Silas’s help, Trip gambles his heart and his art on a rotten plan: sketching out Scratch, a “very graphic novel” that will either make his name or wreck his career. But even a smash can’t save their world if Trip retreats into his mild-mannered rut, leaving Silas to grapple with betrayal and emotions he can’t escape.

What will it take for this dynamic duo to discover that heroes never play it safe?

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Read from October 06 to 07, 2013


My copy was an ARC I received from the publisher for an honest review.

Bad Idea is brilliant, witty and very, very good. The main characters are likeable and real. The plot is very interesting. The writing is excellent – how I loved to read a real, smart dialogues, with inside jokes! It’s all we, the readers, want, and we got it, nicely wrapped in fast paced, rollercoaster-style story. The book is the work of art, and I mean it.

It reminded me of Kevin Smith’s Chasing Amy somehow. And I loved Chasing Amy.

And now I love Bad Idea.

Rating: 5/5
 
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Posted by on October 7, 2013 in reviews

 

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ARC Review: Castles of the Heart by Hale Meserow

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Expected publication: January 1st 2014 by Cross Dove Publishing Company

Pages: 416

Summary: “Castles of the Heart” relates the life of Starlight O’Bannion, a very bright white girl born in the heart of redneck country in the years leading up to World War II. Her growing-up companions are a treasured Negro family living nearby. Starlight graduates early from high school and college and is sponsored for law school by a local attorney. Soon she becomes a high-flying, hugely successful New York attorney, rising fast in her firm and her profession. From out of the blue comes a crisis from her past: the father of the Negro family pleads with her to represent his grandson, who is falsely accused of murder. If Starlight is loyal to her roots, she risks losing everything she has worked hard to win in her career. If she rejects her old friend’s appeal, the innocent boy will likely swing at the end of a rope and she must live with her conscience. Her choice sets the stage for an explosive courtroom showdown that leads to permanent changes in the nature of race relations in North Carolina. When Starlight understands where her true ‘castle’ is, she demonstrates God’s powerful work in the lives of men and women everywhere.

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Read from October 04 to 06, 2013


My copy was an ARC I received from the publisher for an honest review.

Castles of the Heart brings he story of Starlight O’Bannion, lawyer, who sacrifices her career in New York for her childhood friend, Negro. It wouldn’t be the strange decision in the modern setting, but it’s a historical book.

It was a good read, maybe a little naive and too pushily christian, but still interesting and well developed.

 

Rating: 3/5

 
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Posted by on October 6, 2013 in reviews

 

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ARC Review: Gifts of Honor: Starting from Scratch / Hero’s Homecoming Dualogy

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Expected publication: November 21st 2013 by Carina Press

Summary: I’ll be home for Christmas…

A batch of special Christmas cookies helps a wounded ex-Ranger remember the love of his life. A surprise phone call reunites a woman with the soldier who once broke her heart. There’s no place like home for the holidays, and there’s no better way to spend them than with the one you love.

Edited by Angela James, this anthology includes:

Starting from Scratch by Stacy Gail
Hero’s Homecoming by Rebecca Crowley

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Read from September 26 to 27, 2013


My copy was an ARC I received from the publisher for an honest review.

I have no idea how to rate this book. I’ll explain that later.

Sometimes I’m right in the kind of mood that makes me want to read a simple, angsty book and it has to be a quick read. I decided to give Gifts of Honor a try. There were two reason – the motif of damaged military hero coming back home, and southern setting.

The first story in this dualogy is Starting from Scratch by Stacy Gail and the plot follows the struggling of two protaginsts, Lucy Crabtree and Sullivan Jax, with coming to terms that they belong to each others. I will not provide spoilers, the story is simple and even the one detail would spoil the fun. But it’s very good story and I’ve read it with pleasure. If the book of Stacy Gail was the standalone novel, I would give it 3.5 stars rounded up.

The second book is Hero’s Homecoming by Rebecca Crowley. The main characters, Chris Walker and Beth Tate need to decide if they wanted be together or not after the breakup. I dare to say that the story surely had some potential, but it just seems shallow compared to the story of Stacy Gail. I would give it 2 stars.

So, that’s why I had no idea how to rate it. I just calculated the average.

Rating: 3/5
 
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Posted by on September 27, 2013 in reviews

 

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ARC Review: In Retrospect by Ellen Larson

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Expected publication: December 11th 2013 by Five Star a Part of Gale Cengage Learning/Gale Cengage Learning

Summary: Former elite operative Merit Rafi suffered during her imprisonment at the end of a devastating war, but the ultimate torment is being forced to investigate a murder she would gladly have committed herself.

The year is 3324. In the region once known as Turkey, the Rasakans have attacked the technologically superior Oku. The war is a stalemate until the Oku commander, General Zane, abruptly surrenders. Merit, a staunch member of the Oku resistance, fights on, but she and her comrades are soon captured. An uneasy peace ensues, but the Rasakans work secretly to gain control of the prized Oku time-travel technology. When Zane is murdered, the Rasakans exert their control over Merit, the last person on Earth capable of Forensic Retrospection.

Merit, though reinstated to her old job by the despised Rasakans, knows she is only a puppet. If she refuses to travel back in time to identify Zane’s killer, her family and colleagues will pay the price. But giving in to Rasakan coercion means giving them unimaginable power. She has only three days to make this morally wrenching choice; three days to change history.

As the preliminary investigation progresses, Merit uncovers evidence of a wider plot. How did the Rasakans defeat the technologically superior Oku? Why did the Oku surrender prematurely? How did the Rasakans discover her true identity? Merit realizes she will only find the answers by learning who killed the traitor, General Zane.

In Retrospect is a good old-fashioned whodunit set in a compelling post-apocalyptic future.

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My copy was an ARC I received from the publisher for an honest review.

Well, I had some problems with the worldbuilding. Not that it’s all wrong or poorly developed. It’s my imagination – I couldn’t quite force it to cooperate in that matter. But hey, it’s 3324 AD. Way to far..:)

I liked the plot and the main characters, their struggling with making a good choices and coming to terms with the decisions was truly a Greek tragedy-style.

It’s not an easy read – and that’s good.

Rating: 3/5
 
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Posted by on September 25, 2013 in reviews

 

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