Friday 29 May 2015

Review: The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler

The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: June 2nd 2015
My rating: 3 stars  

The youngest of six talented sisters, Elyse d’Abreau was destined for stardom—until a boating accident took everything from her. Now, the most beautiful singer in Tobago can’t sing. She can’t even speak. Seeking quiet solitude, Elyse accepts a friend’s invitation to Atargatis Cove. Named for the mythical first mermaid, the Oregon seaside town is everything Elyse’s home in the Caribbean isn’t: An ocean too cold for swimming, parties too tame for singing, and people too polite to pry—except for one. Christian Kane is a notorious playboy—insolent, arrogant, and completely charming. He’s also the only person in Atargatis Cove who doesn’t treat Elyse like a glass statue. He challenges her to express herself, and he admires the way she treats his younger brother Sebastian, who believes Elyse is the legendary mermaid come to life. When Christian needs a first mate for the Cove’s high-stakes Pirate Regatta, Elyse reluctantly stows her fear of the sea and climbs aboard. The ocean isn’t the only thing making waves, though—swept up in Christian’s seductive tide and entranced by the Cove’s charms, Elyse begins to wonder if a life of solitude isn’t what she needs. But changing course again means facing her past. It means finding her inner voice. And scariest of all, it means opening her heart to a boy who’s best known for breaking them . . .

The Summer of Chasing Mermaids was once again another beautiful read by Ockler, it really was a lot more of a deeper heart breaking read, but this didn’t in anyway take away the enjoyable reading experience from it one single bit.

Elyse moves from the Caribbean to live with her aunt in the States, she’s left her family behind but having been through so much, it’s a break the Elyse has needed for some time. Elyse can’t speak, she was a super talented singer and her and her sister had the chance to make it really big, before something happened and took everything away from her. I liked how Ockler didn’t give us the back story into Elyse’s accident straight away, but were given small flashbacks into Elyse’s life before she moved. I appreciated this a lot, as it gave you the chance to understand Elyse’s character more and when something did kick off, appreciate why she would react in that way. It was a really unfortunate accident, but despite not being able to speak, Elyse was able to put across what she was feeling and thinking in numerous forms eloquently. She was a talented writer, so had gorgeous songs/poems you would find written, but also not having a voice she didn’t let this her hold this back, when she wanted to put a point across, she did so anyway that she could, there were quite a few stubborn people in this story, but Elyse wasn’t one to back down and I truly admired her for this.

Elyse happened to arrive at her aunts during a pivotal moment, with her experience of the water, Elyse could end up saving a lot of things being taken away from her aunt and to residents of the cove, but in order to do so, Elyse needs to be able to put away some of her demons, It’s a lot to ask for in such a small amount of time, but it’s either put her trust in someone she doesn’t know or lose everything in the process.

I loved that Elyse had another chance at taking the water on by taking part in the pirate Regatta. As you’re not really clued into why Elyse has to love and fear for the water at the beginning, you sort of find yourself rooting for her to do well. You want her to overcome her fears, to help her aunt and also Elyse will be able to spend a lot of time with charming Christian Kane. Christian had been around with a lot of the girls at the cove; he had a bit of a reputation, but when he was around Elyse, he sort of changed and you get to see a vulnerable side to him, that he didn’t really show pretty much anyone. So I liked how taking part in the pirate Regatta enable both Elyse and Christian to be there for each other in more ways than one. The journey that Elyse and Christian experienced was truly an epic one, one that I think all readers would come to appreciate.

Ockler was able to balance out some deeper, darker story lines with some funny moments really well. She wrote about Elyse’s accident and the way Elyse dealt with the aftermath afterwards beautifully that I was fully able to experience just how much of hard time Elyse had to go through. Elyse wasn’t the only one that had a hard time to deal with; again Ockler was able to give us subtle insights into other characters troubled lives eloquently. Like I said before everything isn’t all heartache in this story, there’s a great set of secondary characters that Ockler includes, and these are pretty much the people you need by your side all the time. Sebastian to name one of the few quickly became a favourite!

Overall The Summer of Chasing Mermaids was a gorgeous story; you truly have to admire Ockler’s ability to go all out on so many different aspects within this story, whilst at the same time weaving such a poignant story. Fans of Ockler will not be disappointed with this latest instalment.

Thank you to Nick and Danielle for reading this with me!

Wednesday 27 May 2015

Mini-Review & Giveaway: This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner

This Shattered World (Starbound #2) by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Publication date: December 23rd 2014
My rating:  DNF
The second installment in the epic Starbound trilogy introduces a new pair of star-crossed lovers on two sides of a bloody war.

Jubilee Chase and Flynn Cormac should never have met.

Lee is captain of the forces sent to Avon to crush the terraformed planet's rebellious colonists, but she has her own reasons for hating the insurgents.

Rebellion is in Flynn's blood. Terraforming corporations make their fortune by recruiting colonists to make the inhospitable planets livable, with the promise of a better life for their children. But they never fulfilled their promise on Avon, and decades later, Flynn is leading the rebellion.

Desperate for any advantage in a bloody and unrelentingly war, Flynn does the only thing that makes sense when he and Lee cross paths: he returns to base with her as prisoner. But as his fellow rebels prepare to execute this tough-talking girl with nerves of steel, Flynn makes another choice that will change him forever. He and Lee escape the rebel base together, caught between two sides of a senseless war.

My Very Brief Thoughts:
I enjoyed These Broken Stars, so I thought for sure I'd feel the same about This Shattered World. Not so.  Here’s a classic case of “It’s me, not you” mostly because a ton of readers have loved This Shattered World.  There are a couple of reasons why I had trouble with this story.  First, I’m not in the mood this typical antagonistic relationship where the main characters have a narrow and stubborn view of the other’s dilemma, and it takes a lot of the book for this to change.

Second, I didn’t like or connect with Jubilee.  I think her views were more extreme without trying to put herself into Flynn’s shoes.  If I kept reading would my opinion change?  Probably.  Maybe.  I'm just not sure I care enough to find out.  


These Broken Stars (Starbound, #1)  This Shattered World (Starbound, #2)

So my loss is your gain, because I'm giving away my ARC copies of These Broken Stars (book one) &  This Shattered World (book 2) by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner to one lucky winner.  The giveaway is open to US/CA residents only.  Simply fill out the rafflecopter for a chance to win. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday 26 May 2015

Review: Homefront by Jessica Scott

Homefront (Homefront #1) by Jessica Scott
Publication date: April 7th 2015
My rating:  4 stars 
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

He's always loved her...
First Sergeant Gale Sorren waited a war and half a lifetime for a chance to get stationed near the ex-wife who left him years ago. When he finally musters the courage to see her, the life he imagined she was living was nothing close to the reality.
She's never stopped loving him...
Melanie never stopped worrying about Gale each time he headed off to war. But he's never been there when she needed him and she's had fifteen years to steel her heart against him.
But when Gale moves to Fort Hood, he finally has a chance to make things right with Melanie and the daughter she raised without him.
Can Mel trust her heart to a man who has always let her down?

My Thoughts:
Gale and Melanie married right out of high school, Gale entered the army and then Melanie got pregnant. Marriage, a baby and a war would be a lot to take on at any age, but as teenagers, it would be almost impossible not to struggle.  Melanie divorced Gale when their daughter, Jamie, was a baby with bitterness and resentment between.  But they never got over each other.  Now fifteen years later Gale has finally been posted close to Melanie and Jamie again, and he hopes it’s not too late to become a larger part of their lives.  With all the hurt accumulated, Gale doesn’t dare to hope that Melanie might still have feelings for him, but as soon as their around each other, the desire he felt, still feels, can’t be ignored. 

Gale feels so much regret and guilt over not being there for his daughter and ex-wife, especially since Jamie starting having behavior problems.  When Jamie was admitted to the hospital for cutting herself, Gale couldn’t leave his station to offer support and he lashed out in anger, almost getting court-martailed, but worse he let his daughter and ex-wife down.  Gale also feels hurt and betrayal over Melanie divorcing him so early on in their marriage, not even bothering to try, and limiting his time with his daughter even more.  Still, Gale has never gotten over Melanie, and now that he’s stationed close, the attraction burns hotter than ever. But he knows with all the hurt between them, he must tread lightly:

He held himself viciously in check. Barely cupped her cheeks as he fought the turbulent need inside, as it surged up, wanting her, only her. To remind her that she was his, she’d always been his. But this was a campaign, not a single battle.

Melanie chose to divorce Gale not wanting a husband who would be absent for months on end, but looking back she wonders if she made an impulsive mistake and would’ve been better sticking it out with Gale. And there’s the fact that she still loves him, still wants him. 

She had no claim to this man. No, she’d given that up years ago when she’d walked away, taking a colicky baby and sentencing herself to hard years alone.

But Melanie doesn’t want to hope for something that may never be.  Gale will leave again. She knows this.  Should she dare to hope they could have a future together even while sharing him with the army?

I adore second chance romances.  Two people who were meant to be like Gale and Melanie, who loved brightly, intensely, but then had it all derailed because of stress and immaturity made me sad.  Seeing them get another chance at happiness together filled me with joy.  They both had angry and frustrated outbursts over the years, but they’ve grown up. They’re both at a time in their lives that they’re able to see their mistakes, and move past them.  I appreciated they each owned up to their part in the breakup without rehashing all past wrongs over and over.

This romance was not only moving it was sizzling hot!  Jessica Scott is a pro at writing deliciously sensual scenes without making them feel over the top and only fantasy.  There was palpable sexual tension between Gale and Melanie stemming from an intense past connection making their reunion so very sexy and sweet.

Jessica Scott’s writing is beautiful, realistic, and captivating.  She writes flawed, yet likable characters with relationship struggles that are easy to empathize with and relate to.  If you haven’t picked up one of her books, you are definitely missing out.

Connect with Jessica Scott:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads 

Friday 22 May 2015

Review: A Thin Dark Line by Tami Hoag

A Thin Dark Line by Tami Hoag
Narrated by: Karen Peakes
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Length: 18 Hours 1 Minute
Audiobook Publication date: September 17th 2014
Original Publication Date: March 3rd 1997
My rating: 4.5 stars

Terror stalks the streets of Bayou Breaux, Louisiana. A suspected murderer is free on a technicality, and the cop accused of planting evidence against him is ordered off the case. But Detective Nick Fourcade refuses to walk away. He’s stepped over the line before. This case threatens to push him over the edge.

He’s not the only one. Deputy Annie Broussard found the woman’s mutilated body. She still hears the phantom echoes of dying screams. She wants justice. But pursuing the investigation will mean forming an alliance with a man she doesn’t trust and making enemies of the men she works with. It will mean being drawn into the confidence of a killer. For Annie Broussard, finding justice will mean risking everything—including her life.

The search for the truth has begun—one that will lead down a twisted trail through the steamy bayous of Louisiana, and deep into the darkest reaches of the human heart.

My Thoughts:
I read A Thin Dark Line some years ago (more than ten) and loved it, so when it was offered on an Audible Daily Deal I snatched it up.  The audio just enhanced an already riveting mystery!

Annie Broussard is a Deputy in Bayou Breaux Police Department hoping to make Detective. When a suspect in the brutal murder of Pam Bichon is exonerated on a technicality the community is outraged along with the Detective in charge of the case, Nick Fourcade.  Annie already had ties to the murder because she was the officer who discovered Pam Bichon’s body, but when she crosses paths with Nick she gets dragged further into the case and the dark side of Nick. Annie is both fascinated and wary of him, and scared of the electric current of attraction they share.

Annie is a newer cop with ideals, innocence, and determination that Nick sees as an asset to the case.  The fact that Marcus Reynard, the chief suspect, is suddenly fixated on her doesn’t hurt matters either. Nick’s convinced Marcus is guilty, but as Nick and Annie team up and dig deeper, Annie’s not so sure.  She doesn’t want to pin a murder on the wrong guy, she wants justice and she wants the truth.  It’s evident that Annie is rattling someone with her investigation, because gory “presents” and more sinister threats start coming her way.

The mystery as well as the internal politics Annie must navigate in the police force made for a captivating read.  The romance was just icing on the cake. Nick and Annie’s relationship felt dangerous and passionate, and an element to the story made it sort of forbidden, or at the very least ill advised, but these two couldn’t stay away from each other. 

After finishing A Thin Dark Line this time I was impressed and haunted.  I couldn’t stop thinking of the solution and how things turned out, while the romance aspect was everything I hoped for, I was very sad for a particular character, and I think the voice and inflection the narrator gave this character every time he/she had a scene made their predicament resonate with me deeper than it did with just reading the pages. I highly recommend the narration; Karen Peakes made Annie Broussard’s character come to life, and did a fine job with the male voices as well. The accents and the Cajun French were spot on!

I was held in the spell of A Thin Dark Line all over again and I totally recommend it to any fan of romantic suspense/mystery!   Fans of Sandra Brown, Linda Howard, or Lisa Gardner will gobble this up. There were a couple of issues that were a little too tidily wrapped up, and a couple of things I still had questions about by the end, but it didn’t impact my enjoyment.  The mystery, while published more than eighteen years ago stands up well, and didn’t feel dated.  As I said above, it had been years since I read this, so I totally forgot the identity of the murderer.  I thought I remembered, but I ended up being completely wrong. Nice to be surprised twice! 

Story: 4 Stars
Audio Narration: 5 Stars
 Overall: 4.5 Stars


Thursday 21 May 2015

Review: Royal Wedding (The Princess Diaries #11) by Meg Cabot

Royal Wedding (The Princess Diaries #11)  by Meg Cabot 
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Publication Date: June 2nd 2015
My rating: 5 stars. 

For Princess Mia, the past five years since college graduation have been a whirlwind of activity: living in New York City, running her new teen community center, being madly in love, and attending royal engagements. And speaking of engagements. Mia's gorgeous longtime boyfriend, Michael, managed to clear both their schedules just long enough for an exotic (and very private) Caribbean island interlude where he popped the question! Of course, Mia didn't need to consult her diary to know that her answer was a royal oui. But now Mia has a scandal of majestic proportions to contend with: her grandmother has leaked "fake" wedding plans to the press that could cause even normally calm Michael to become a runaway groom. Worse, a scheming politico is trying to force Mia's father from the throne, all because of a royal secret that could leave Genovia without a monarch. Can Mia prove to everyone—especially herself—that she's not only ready to wed, but ready to rule as well?

Wow Mia has certainly come a long way from the young teen who was told she would one day take charge of a place called Genovia to the mature (well maturish) adult that she now is today. I do love stories which follow characters through their life, I practically grew up with my face in the Princess Diaries series, so was thrilled when Meg decided to give us more of this character so full of life and fun.

Mia at 25 years old is still the same Mia that I’ve come to know and love, she’s still constantly stressing about medical conditions that she may be suffering with and of course meddling with things she’s been told to back away from, but honestly I wouldn’t want Mia to be any other way. She’s back to jotting things down in her diary and although now she has more serious things to concentrate on than when she was a teenager, I’m glad that Mia doesn’t take things too seriously. She’s still the same Mia whose known to make mistakes, sometimes really cringe worthy, but she’s also always been a lot of fun. I loved getting to know about what antics she had been up to this time. A lot of changes had taken place since we were last with Mia, but I’m glad to see that old faces weren’t forgotten even though it was way back in 2009 when I’d last turned the last page in what I’d thought, would be my last Princess Diaries book, it felt like it was only yesterday that I’d said goodbye to this great set of characters, to Mia’s annoying Grandmere who liked meddling with Mia’s life, to Mia’s best friends Tina and Lily. And I’m glad that these characters hadn’t changed one bit at all Tina (like me) still swooned over her romance novels and Lily was the clever in your face Lily as always. And then we had Lars, I don’t think I’ve ever loved him as much, there were some great scenes where he really stood out, he took delight in protecting Mia to the fullest possible, seriously this guy brought many laugh out loud moments (a lot of my highlighted scenes in my kindle belonged to him) . And then we had sweet funny Michael, he still had the inner geek within him; always inventing cool new emoji’s that I certainly think we need to have! But he also brought the swoon, Michael was always a favourite of mine in the Princess Diaries series, but I think with Royal Wedding I’ve fallen for him even more, he really is every girl’s dream guy. He was always looking out for Mia even though she had constant security and of course the formidable Lars, he was prepared to give upon so many things that were required for him to marry Mia and like I mentioned before he was absolutely the sweetest guy. I think I must have highlighted everything that came out of Michael’s mouth I was literally a puddle of goo!

Having so many great characters back, made me realise why I had cherished this series and characters as a youngster. They’re charming and quirky in their own little ways and characters who like friends in real life end up leaving the biggest impressions with you. These are characters I won’t forget for a long time to come! These characters were also great in relieving stressful situations, Mia had an awful lot of stress to deal with in this book, when certain people were lax in their decision making Mia had to step forward and take charge. I really admired her for this, as it seemed like as soon as something good came her way, another bomb shell was have dropped on her. So having these friends and family around really helped Mia, but also made you smile with her farfetched ideas or overwhelmingness to help Mia anyway possible. We had characters drawing up contracts when they were still in a law school, bust doors down and write dystopian novels with love triangles (this last one was a favourite of mine, I loved how Meg introduced this into the story and her many other references that she poked fun at). Like I said there was a lot of serious issues that had to be dealt with in Royal Wedding, but the never ending escapades of Mia and her friends and funny humour we were able to experience was one I greatly appreciated.

Royal Wedding was one of my longest anticipated reads, but I can safely say fans of Meg and her Princess Diaries series will not be disappointed. Meg goes all out with this latest instalment; she will have fan screaming in delight, close to tears, but most of all truly proud of how far our little Mia has come.

Tuesday 19 May 2015

Blog Tour: Kissing in America by Margo Rabb

Hi everyone, today for the Kissing in America Blog Tour by Margo Rabb, hosted by The Fantastic Flying Book Club, I get to share my review of this surprising read, but first here's a little about the book. 

Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: May 26th 2015
My rating: 3 stars. 
I loved romances because when you opened the first page, you knew the story would end well. Your heart wouldn't be broken. I loved that security, that guaranteed love. In real life, you never knew the ending. I hated that. Sixteen-year-old Eva has never been in love. But when she meets Will, everything changes. With him, her grief over her father's death fades, and she can escape from her difficult relationship with her mother. Then, without any warning, Will picks up and moves to California. So Eva—with the help of her best friend, Annie—concocts a plan to travel across the country to see him again. As they leave New York City for the first time and road-trip across America, they encounter cowboys, kudzu, and tiny towns without stoplights. Along the way, Eva and Annie learn the truth about love and all its complexities.

Goodreads | Amazon The Book Depository

Kissing in America started off as a really bumpy read for me. Eva wasn’t the easiest MC to connect to, but as the book progressed I certainly got to know her character that much more and understand why she did the things she did (most often the way things happened wasn’t really her fault and with the way things were with her mother I could kind of understand why Eva wanted to do the things she wanted, if I was in Eva’s shoes, I think I very much would have felt the same way). Eva ends up falling hard and fast for Will, and when it looks like Will could be feeling the same way, things are looking up for Eva, but then Will drops the biggest bombshell out of the blue, that he’s moving to California to be with his dad, Eva is distraught, because she really thought Will was the one, but then when a chance opportunity comes Eva’s way and she has the chance to meet Will sooner than expected Eva knows this is a chance that she has to take, even if she knows she has to convince her best friend of going with her and her mother for the chance to go.

Eva’s trip to California was certainly one I wasn’t expecting, I did expect a few road bumps along the way, but not the quirky characters that we got stuck with and the awful dilemma’s that Eva had to deal with. But despite the situations Eva found herself in, I think this road trip was exactly what Eva needed in order to find herself. Yes her mum’s over protectiveness still continued to follow her the further she went, and although her mum did have her best interests at heart, I think things could have been much easier for both Eva and her mum and their relationship if Eva’s mum actually consulted Eva with the decisions she made, yes things hadn’t been the best for both of them over the last few years and with continual discoveries being made things were only going to get tougher for them both. But if they decided to work as a team and rather than not discussing things with each other a lot more progress could have been made and may be the comfort that both characters needed from each other could have been found a lot more sooner. That’s why my only real gripe about this book; Eva’s mother is a character who is really difficult to like. Other than that I really sort of liked this book. There were some unexpected twists and turns along the way which I so didn’t see coming and sort of wish didn’t happen (my poor heart really went out to some characters). But I liked the way Rabb dealt with Eva’s journey of dealing with the grief of her father and making the most out of the important relationships in her life.

For the chance to win a souvenir from each city visited in the book, visit here. Full rules and conditions of giveaway can be found here. Good luck,


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Margo Rabb's stories have been published in The Atlantic Monthly, Zoetrope: All Story, Seventeen, Best New American Voices, New Stories from the South, New England Review, One Story, and elsewhere, and have been broadcast on National Public Radio. She received grand prize in the Zoetrope short story contest, first prize in The Atlantic Monthly fiction contest, first prize in the American Fiction contest, and a PEN Syndicated Fiction Project Award. She grew up in Queens, New York, and now lives in Austin, Texas with her husband and two children. A complete list of her published work can be found here.

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