Saturday, October 18, 2014

Review | "Unteachable" by Leah Raeder

Unteachable by Leah Raeder
New Adult Romance published March 24, 2014
Atria Books
Author's website  |  Goodreads  |  Buy the Book on Amazon

Synopsis from Goodreads

Maise O’Malley just turned eighteen, but she’s felt like a grown-up her entire life. The summer before senior year, she has plans: get into a great film school, convince her mom to go into rehab, and absolutely do not, under any circumstances, screw up her own future.

But life has a way of throwing her plans into free-fall.

When Maise meets Evan at a carnival one night, their chemistry is immediate, intense, and short-lived. Which is exactly how she likes it: no strings. But afterward, she can’t get Evan out of her head. He’s taught her that a hookup can be something more. It can be an unexpected connection with someone who truly understands her. Someone who sees beyond her bravado to the scared but strong girl inside.

That someone turns out to be her new film class teacher, Mr. Evan Wilke.

Maise and Evan resolve to keep their hands off each other, but the attraction is too much to bear. Together, they’re real and genuine; apart, they’re just actors playing their parts for everyone else. And their masks are slipping. People start to notice. Rumors fly. When the truth comes to light in a shocking way, they may learn they were just playing parts for each other, too.

Smart, sexy, and provocative, Unteachable is about what happens when a love story goes off-script.
My Thoughts...
I am going to keep this review pretty short.  The reason being that I still have no idea how to really review this book.  I finished it yesterday and I have mixed feelings about it for sure.  On one hand the writing is really beautiful.  Leah Raeder has a wonderful way with words, there is no doubt about that.  On the other hand, while I like a well done teacher/student romance, this one was a little weird for me.  

For me, personally, there are ways to handle this type of relationship without it being yucky.  She hit it right with them meeting before, similar to Slammed and Pretty Little Liars.  The part that bothered me most was his age, he was way too old for me to be comfortable with what they were doing.  I think that maybe if he'd been just out of school or even in his mid 20's, I wouldn't have minded so much.  I was also put off by Maise's attitude and her nasty mouth.  She was very grown up for her age, but her constant swearing was a little much for my.  Maise is technically "of age", but that doesn't matter in most states.  

I don't really know how to feel about this story.  There were things that worked and things that were totally weird for me.  I like a good steamy romance novel, to be sure, but there is way more descriptive sex in this book than what was needed and maybe that's why I didn't like it like as much as I thought I would.

So, while I did enjoy the writing style immensely, I did have some iffy feelings about the overall story line.  If you have issues with teacher/student relationships then you will not want to read this book. 

XOXO, Shelly

*Disclaimer: I was provided with a copy of this book courtesy of the publisher in exchange for my honest review.*

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Blog Tour | "Baudelaire's Revenge" by Bob Van Laerhoven

02_Baudelaire's Revenge
Baudelaire's Revenge by Bob Van Laerhoven
Publication Date: April 15, 2014
Pegasus Books
Formats: eBook, Hardcover
Genre: Historical Mystery/Thriller

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It is 1870, and Paris is in turmoil.

As the social and political turbulence of the Franco-Prussian War roils the city, workers starve to death while aristocrats seek refuge in orgies and seances. The Parisians are trapped like rats in their beautiful city but a series of gruesome murders captures their fascination and distracts them from the realities of war. The killer leaves lines from the recently deceased Charles Baudelaire's controversial anthology Les Fleurs du Mal on each corpse, written in the poet's exact handwriting. Commissioner Lefevre, a lover of poetry and a veteran of the Algerian war, is on the case, and his investigation is a thrilling, intoxicating journey into the sinister side of human nature, bringing to mind the brooding and tense atmosphere of Patrick Susskind's Perfume. Did Baudelaire rise from the grave? Did he truly die in the first place? The plot dramatically appears to extend as far as the court of the Emperor Napoleon III.

A vivid, intelligent, and intense historical crime novel that offers up some shocking revelations about sexual mores in 19th century France, this superb mystery illuminates the shadow life of one of the greatest names in poetry.

My Review...

I am going to keep this pretty short because honestly, this book is really hard for me to review.  I was so excited to read it when I first saw it, but I didn't love it quite as much as I expected to.  The story was very intriguing, but for me, it was confusing at times.  It took me a little bit to get into it, once Bouveraux started reading the memoirs I started to enjoy it more.  I think it's because it was written in first person and in those sections it's was clear what was happening.

It's nearly impossible for me to explain the plot!  It's a murder mystery, but it's darker and full of twists and turns.  Some you will see coming and some will hit you right out of the blue.  I felt like the ending was a little rushed.  There was all this build up and then it's just over and I was still left with some questions once the book was done. I did like the setting and I know that historically it's accurate to the time.  Obviously the Baudelaire story line is fiction, but very entertaining nonetheless.  

I will warn you that this story is very dark.  The murders are quite gruesome in nature and there are some pretty explicit descriptions of the sexual practices of the time and place in which it's set.  The chapters are short so they are quick to read.  The author does jump around a lot not only from character to character, but also in time and this is what confused me.  I also think that maybe part of the confusion comes from the translation from Dutch to English.  Overall I did end up enjoying it and if you like a dark, gritty read you may enjoy it as well.

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Bob Van LaerhovenAbout the Author

Bob Van Laerhoven became a full-time author in 1991 and has written more than thirty books in Holland and Belgium. The context of his stories isn’t invented behind his desk, rather it is rooted in personal experience. As a freelance travel writer, for example, he explored conflicts and trouble-spots across the globe from the early 1990s to 2005. Echoes of his experiences on the road also trickle through in his novels. Somalia, Liberia, Sudan, Gaza, Iran, Iraq, Myanmar… to name but a few.

During the Bosnian war, Van Laerhoven spent part of 1992 in the besieged city of Sarajevo. Three years later he was working for MSF - Doctors without frontiers - in the Bosnian city of Tuzla during the NATO bombings. At that moment the refugees arrived from the Muslim enclave of Srebrenica. Van Laerhoven was the first writer from the Low Countries to be given the chance to speak to the refugees. His conversations resulted in a travel book: Srebrenica. Getuigen van massamoord – Srebrenica. Testimony to a Mass Murder. The book denounces the rape and torture of the Muslim population of this Bosnian-Serbian enclave and is based on first-hand testimonies. He also concludes that mass murders took place, an idea that was questioned at the time but later proven accurate.

All these experiences contribute to Bob Van Laerhoven’s rich and commendable oeuvre, an oeuvre that typifies him as the versatile author of novels, travel stories, books for young adults, theatre pieces, biographies, poetry, non-fiction, letters, columns, articles... He is also a prize-winning author: in 2007 he won the Hercule Poirot Prize for best thriller of the year with his novel De Wraak van Baudelaire – Baudelaire’s Revenge.

For more information please visit Bob Van Laerhoven's website. You can also connect with him on Facebook and Twitter.


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Monday, October 13, 2014

Review | "A Bride in Store" by Melissa Jagears

A Bride in Store by Melissa Jagears
Historical Romance/Christian Fiction published September 2, 2014
Bethany House Publishing
Author's website  |  Goodreads  |  Buy the Book on Amazon

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Mail-order bride Eliza Cantrell is on her way to meet her intended groom and help him grow his general store business when her train is held up by robbers and she loses her dowry. She's further thwarted upon arriving in Salt Flatts only to find Axel, her groom, away on business.  
Hoping a wife would push Axel to become a better business partner, William Stanton had encouraged him to seek a mail-order bride. With Axel gone, Will feels responsible for Eliza, so he finds her a place to stay and lets her help in the store. 
Working together isn't what they'd expected, and when Axel is further delayed, neither can ignore the sparks that fly. But Eliza is meant for Axel and is set on a future with the store, while Will is biding time until he can afford medical school. 
Their troubles are far from over when Axel returns to town, however, and soon both Will and Eliza must decide what they're willing to sacrifice to chase their dreams--or if God has a new dream in store for them both.
My Thoughts...
This was another win from Melissa Jagears and Bethany House.  I really enjoyed this book maybe even more than the first one in the series.  The male lead in this book was in the last book as well.  He is the oldest son of the family who were Everett's best friends.  We do get to see Everett and Julia a little bit in this story so that was nice.

Eliza in obviously the mail order bride here, she has decided to surprise her intended by showing up a week earlier than planned.  On the way, the train she is on in robbed and Eliza loses her entire inheritance.  She is also injured in the process and meets Will when he is called to help care for her injury.  Eliza and Will form a friendship while they work together in the store that Eliza will help her husband run if only he will return.  Will is working in the store with Axel for the time being, but he is meant for greater things.  He wants to be a doctor and actually does attend to a good many of the people in town.  They don't care that he doesn't have schooling, he cares for them and treats them in a much kinder way than the regular town doctor does.

The longer Will and Eliza work together the more he comes to care for her, and she for him, but she knows that once Axel returns she will have to marry him.  She made him a promise and she's not going to back out unless she has a very good reason.  She also has a dream of running her own store someday and this may be her only chance, plus there is the chance that she could learn to love Axel someday.  From the moment Axel return, things take an unexpected turn.  He's not the man he presented himself to be, in fact he's done things that even his business partner Will knows nothing about.  How will Eliza know which path to choose?  Will she and Will find their way to each other in the end?

I really did enjoy this story.  It is a religious story, but it's more subtle in this book than in the first one.  For me this one read more like historical fiction and less like religious fiction.  I felt like this definitely reflected the beliefs of the time it's set in so it's less "in your face" than some of the religious fiction I have read.

If you like a good historical romance, you like clean romance and you don't mind that is religious fiction then give this book a try!

XOXO, Shelly

*Disclaimer: I was provided with a copy of this book courtesy of the publisher in exchange for my honest review.*

Friday, October 10, 2014

Review & Giveaway | "Keep Me Safe" by Maya Banks

Keep Me Safe by Maya Banks
Adult Romance published October 8, 2014
William Morrow Paperbacks
Author's website  |  Goodreads  |  Buy the Book on Amazon

Synopsis from Goodreads:

A sizzling story of a woman who risks her life and her heart to find a wealthy man’s missing sister—the first novel in a sexy new romantic suspense series from #1 New York Times bestselling author Maya Banks

When Caleb Devereaux's younger sister is kidnapped, this scion of a powerful and wealthy family turns to an unlikely source for help: a beautiful and sensitive woman with a gift for finding answers others cannot.

While Ramie can connect to victims and locate them by feeling their pain, her ability comes with a price. Every time she uses it, it costs her a piece of herself. Helping the infuriatingly attractive and impatient Caleb successfully find his sister nearly destroys her. Even though his sexual intensity draws her like a magnet, she needs to get as far away from him as she can.

Deeply remorseful for the pain he’s caused, Caleb is determined to make things right. But just when he thinks Ramie's vanished forever, she reappears. She’s in trouble and she needs his help. Now, Caleb will risk everything to protect her—including his heart. . . .
My Thoughts...
If you have followed this blog for very long then you know how many of Maya's books I have read and reviewed.  I have liked, if not loved, most of them, but this book was absolutely my favorite of all of hers that I have read so far.  Here is why I loved it so much: it's a complete departure from the last couple of her series that I have read, it wasn't just another romance story and it had a excellent plot line.  

Ramie has a psychic ability that allows her to help find kidnap victims.  When Caleb tracks her down to help find his missing sister he has no idea what actually happens to Ramie when she connects to the victims.  He's shocked and horrified with himself when he sees what happens to her.  He leaves her to go back to his family, but he vows that he will make it up to her someday.  That day comes just over a year later when Ramie desperately needs someone to protect her.  Caleb Devereaux is a very wealthy man.  When he and his brothers found their sister they started a Security company that would ensure that no one was able to harm his family again.  He has been looking for Ramie for the last year, but she's managed to stay off the grid.  The minute he gets her troubled call he's prepared to do whatever he needs to do to keep her safe.

This story is full of suspense and kept me hooked to the very last page.  It was a quick read for me but that could be just because I didn't want to put it down!  I thought the characters were well done and while I did think they could have used a little more time to get to know each other, it wasn't totally unbelievable that they would have feelings for each other so quickly.  I think that Caleb had feelings for Ramie right off when she unwilling helped him find Tori.  I felt like he was kind of pining for her that whole year he was looking for her.  I think Ramie felt safe with him and it was inevitable that she would fall in love with him quickly.

I will admit that after some of the reading I've been doing for school, this was a little harder for me to read.  Not because I didn't like the story, but because it's not exactly the type of writing I have been reading lately.  I am becoming more critical of writing because of the way I am having to dissect books for one of my classes and that makes it a little harder to just sit and enjoy these types of books that I read "for fun".  I did love the story though and I can't wait for the other 2 books in the series to come out!  This is an adult book so there are some pretty intense and steamy love scenes.  If you are a fan of Maya's work, the scenes in this book are a lot more tame that what I have seen in the past, but they are still very sexy.  This book is also has a serial killer in it so there are some pretty dark scenes as well.

XOXO, Shelly

*Disclaimer: I was provided with a copy of this book courtesy of the publisher in exchange for my honest review.*

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