Book Reviews

Book Review: The 27 Club by Alexandria Bishop

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The 27 Club has a very interesting premise. It sort of reminded me of the movie 13 Going on 30 with a dark, paranormal twist. I went in blind with zero knowledge about the meaning of the title, and this made for a really cool aha moment when I realized what was going on. So if you’ve never heard of The 27 Club, I suggest not looking it up until you read this book!

The first ten chapters or so detail Erika Takai’s horrible birthday experiences, year after year. I have to admit, all of her “bad luck” put me in a funk, and I kept wondering when things were going to get better for her. Well, when that moment arrives, it isn’t what it seems, and her newfound good fortune has a price. At that point, I didn’t want to stop reading until I knew what Erika’s fate would be.

If you enjoy new adult books with paranormal elements that explore fate and second chances, then you might enjoy this one.

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*Thanks to the author for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Book Reviews

Book Review: Bright Side by Kim Holden

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I don’t know what I can say about this book that hasn’t already been said. I loved it. I loved the characters. It was amazing. It made me think. It crushed my heart and made me cry. It made me laugh. It made me want to be a better person. Has all of that already been said? Pretty sure it has. So, what to say, what to say…

One of my favorite things is finishing a book and feeling so emotionally drained that I have to sit and reflect on what I just read. That’s exactly what happened when I finished this book. I sat there. I reread the last paragraph. And then I sat there a little longer. I felt sad and a little bit happy at the same time. I wanted to hug the author and every single character in the book (except for one). Dammit, I didn’t want it to be over!

But that’s life, right? Things suck sometimes. Things change. Things end. And that’s what I loved most about this book. It was so real. Too real. That’s why it made me cry. But even if I didn’t have first-hand experience with the primary theme in this book, it still would have made me cry because Kim Holden did a masterful job of depicting what it’s like.

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Book Reviews

Book Review: Pieces of It All by Tracy Krimmer

Pieces of It All gives readers a realistic look at young love. (Or should I say lust?) It took me back to a time when I wondered what it felt like to be in love and reminded me of all the times I realized what it wasn’t.

Beth is a high school graduate preparing to head off to college. She’s book smart, responsible, and a good daughter and friend. She’s also innocent and naive. Harvey, on the other hand, comes from a broken family, is a recovering alcoholic, and is much more experienced with dating than Beth. When Harvey and Beth meet, there is an instant attraction. Beth tries to take things slow despite her intense feelings for Havey, but things end up heating up quickly.

The story is told from the alternating perspectives of Beth and Harvey. I really liked Beth because she’s a good girl with a good head on her shoulders. Sure, there were times when her actions annoyed me, but this is a new adult novel, so I expected a few poor decisions that would ultimately lead to personal growth. I felt that her thoughts and actions were realistic for a girl her age. For example, she followed her heart against the advice of family and friends. That’s what most young people do in real life, and that’s how they learn! And then there’s Harvey–another realistically drawn character. Harvey is the bad boy, the boy girls want to fix. Goodness, knows I dated my fair share of Harveys.

“Every girl has one–the bad boy who just drives her crazy.”

While I felt sad for Harvey given the home life he grew up with, I didn’t like him at all near the end. Some of his perverted thoughts about Beth bothered me (even though most young men probably think that way), and he did something that made me question his character. After that particular event, my opinion of him continued to go downhill. I even noted the following while reading: “This guy is an immature a$$hole. He’s more than just flawed. He’s a complete a$$hole. And how old is he? I’d expect these actions from a teen, not a guy in his twenties.” So, that about sums up how I felt about Harvey.

When I got to chapter twenty-four, it sort of felt like part two. This is where Beth really starts to grow and where Harvey proves who he really is. His behavior saddened me because he reminded me of people who’ve been dealt a crappy hand in life and instead of working hard to turn things around, they use it as an excuse to treat others poorly. I’m glad Beth was smart enough to do what was best for her in the end.

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Book Reviews

Book Review: Love Nouveau by B.L. Berry

Love Nouveau is a beautifully written new adult novel that rocked my heart and soul. It details the budding relationship (complete with sweet romance, passion and pitfalls) between Ivy and Phoenix.

Ivy, a new college graduate born into a life of privilege, is a somewhat depressing character with serious flaws. She is constantly bullied by her over-bearing ice queen of a mother and her bitchy snob of a sister, but she never sticks up for herself. While some readers might not feel very sorry for her after finding out why her mom and sister treat her the way they do, I despised the way she was treated and couldn’t help but root for her. (Maybe it’s because I believe people deserve forgiveness and second chances.)

Right before Ivy is about to choose her post-college path, she meets Phoenix, and they are instantly attracted to each other. The inexplicable attraction is totally believable. It’s the kind that makes you feel like you NEED to be near someone, an undeniable connection that MUST be explored. It’s the beginning of young love. *sigh* Before you know it, Ivy and Phoenix become emotionally involved with one another, communicating largely via text and phone conversations. However, given Ivy’s past mistakes and the way she is used to being treated by her mom and sister, she is weary of allowing Phoenix into her heart.

The characters in this story are all flawed in some way. A few make terrible decisions and some choose to grow and change, just like in real life. Something else I love about this story is the way Berry scattered poignant insights throughout. There were times when I reread portions just to soak in the words.

Here are some of my favorites:

“…you aren’t rich until you have something that money can’t buy.”

“Even after being repeatedly pushed away from the shoreline, the water always comes back, beating its rocky edges, smoothing them out, wearing them down over time. It’s kind of romantic—after an infinite number of rejections, the water doesn’t give up. Nature wills it to return. Beyond its control, it just keeps coming back. It’s a bit like love.”

“…lies are truths that you convince yourself are real.”

“…as you get older you learn that time will make a fool out of everyone. But in the end, only love will make a fool out of time.”

If you like stories centered around young, can’t-live-without-you love and can appreciate a few twists and turns that get in the way of the HEA you’re hoping for, then you should give this book a shot. I will definitely be reading part two: Love Abstract.

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Disclosure: I attended a book signing a few months ago in Waterloo, Iowa, where I picked up an autographed copy of Love Nouveau and had the pleasure of meeting B.L. Berry. My opinion of this book has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that she is an absolute gem.

Book Reviews

Book Review: 8 Weeks (Time for Love #1) by Bethany Lopez

The opening chapter of this book sucked me in immediately. After a night of heavy drinking, Cal wakes up to find himself naked and in the company of an unfamiliar woman who is also naked. The woman makes her exit almost as soon as Cal realizes she’s there, and he is left wracking his brain, trying to figure out how the hell he let such a “thing” happen. Whether Cal (who has been married to his high school sweetheart Shelly for six years) actually had sex with this mystery woman is unclear at this point, so I was itching to learn all of the details surrounding his infidelity. I was also curious to see how Shelly would react.

I have to be honest, I was not satisfied when Shelly simply stormed off without asking Cal any questions. I certainly would have had questions, as would most women I know. Then to make matters worse, he doesn’t even go after her right away!? It drove me nuts, but not so much that I didn’t want to keep reading.

I loved Cal. (Yeah, I know, he cheated. But I still couldn’t help but have a soft spot for him.) He’s kind, caring, romantic and an all-around good guy. While this made me root for him, it also kept me wondering how a guy like him could have cheated on his wife. (This was bothersome to me throughout the story.) As for Shelly, I just couldn’t relate to the way she hastily decided she wanted a divorce. Who would just walk away after six years of marriage without analyzing the situation? She also does other things, while Cal is trying win her back, that just irritated me and made me feel for the guy even more. So why the 3 1/2 star rating? Because Lopez does a good job of developing these characters and keeping their thoughts and actions consistent. Even though I didn’t agree with the way Shelly handled the situation, I began to understand her.

My favorite thing about this book was the supporting characters. Each of Cal and Shelly’s friends reminded me of someone I know. The relationships between Cal and his friends (Scott and T. J.) and Shelly and her friends (Gaby and Sasha) were realistic, and the dialogue was quite funny at times. Oh, and the banter between T. J. and Sasha? Hilarious. I will be reading 21 Days (#2 in the series) to find out what happens with them.

If you enjoy romance novels laced with a few hot-n-heavy scenes and a bit of humor, then you should check out this book.

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