Tag: 3.5 Reviews

Review: A Madness of Sunshine by Nalini Singh

Posted December 10, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: A Madness of Sunshine by Nalini SinghReviewer: Rowena
A Madness of Sunshine by Nalini Singh
Publisher: Penguin, Berkley
Publication Date: December 3, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
Pages: 352
Add It: Goodreads
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three-half-stars

New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh welcomes you to a remote town on the edge of the world where even the blinding brightness of the sun can’t mask the darkness that lies deep within a killer…

On the rugged West Coast of New Zealand, Golden Cove is more than just a town where people live. The adults are more than neighbors; the children, more than schoolmates.   That is until one fateful summer—and several vanished bodies—shatters the trust holding Golden Cove together. All that’s left are whispers behind closed doors, broken friendships, and a silent agreement not to look back. But they can’t run from the past forever.   Eight years later, a beautiful young woman disappears without a trace, and the residents of Golden Cove wonder if their home shelters something far more dangerous than an unforgiving landscape.   It’s not long before the dark past collides with the haunting present and deadly secrets come to light.

Nalini Singh has written a thriller novel and I didn’t think I’d be interested in that kind of thing since I read almost strictly romance but Nalini Singh is such a good writer that I couldn’t help myself. I had to check this one out and though there were parts that were a little slow for me, I still had a good time reading this one. Nalini Singh tells a story so well, that I could almost feel the coastal breeze on my face and see everything so clearly even though I’ve never been to New Zealand before.

Golden Cove, a coastal village on the west side of New Zealand was home to Anahera before she fled for London, swearing to never return. Eight years later, Anahera is back in Golden Cove to try to heal from the death of her husband and the ghosts that haunted her before, return when a girl she knew as a child, who is now a young woman disappears and the old hurts and scares of the past return with a vengeance. The residents of Golden Cove have always been more than neighbors. They’re a family in the small village and this time Anahera is older and she won’t just sit aside while bad things happen to her family. With the help of Will, the town’s only police presence, Anahera starts to investigate the disappearance of Miriama. The more the two of them dig into their investigation, the more shit starts popping up. You’d think that because this is a Nalini Singh book that there would be a romance between the out of town cop and the newly returned Anahera but this book wasn’t a romance. It wasn’t romantic suspense. It was a straight-up suspense novel and while I missed a central romantic plot, overall, I still enjoyed this one.

The beginning was really slow because we’re getting the set up of the story and it’s not a happy go lucky kind of story. There’s a history that is dark and it’s hard but the more that I kept reading, the more that I started to understand, the more I appreciated the slow start. Nalini Singh does a great job of making the small town of Golden Cove a character that was just as important as the good guys and the bad guys. When all was said and done, I appreciated her efforts but if I’m honest, I much prefer her paranormal romances. That’s more of a preference than anything else. Nalini Singh is good at whatever she decides to write. She can write her ass off and this book proves that. She does romance extremely well and with this book, she really does her thing. I think with a couple of more books under her belt in this genre, she’s going to be another force in the suspense, mystery and thriller worlds. She’s legit.

Final Grade

3.75 out of 5

three-half-stars


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Guest Review: A Madness of Sunshine by Nalini Singh

Posted December 4, 2019 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: A Madness of Sunshine by Nalini SinghReviewer: Tracy
A Madness of Sunshine by Nalini Singh
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: December 3, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Mystery
Pages: 352
Add It: Goodreads
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three-half-stars

New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh welcomes you to a remote town on the edge of the world where even the blinding brightness of the sun can’t mask the darkness that lies deep within a killer…

On the rugged West Coast of New Zealand, Golden Cove is more than just a town where people live. The adults are more than neighbors; the children, more than schoolmates.

That is until one fateful summer—and several vanished bodies—shatters the trust holding Golden Cove together. All that’s left are whispers behind closed doors, broken friendships, and a silent agreement not to look back. But they can’t run from the past forever.

Eight years later, a beautiful young woman disappears without a trace, and the residents of Golden Cove wonder if their home shelters something far more dangerous than an unforgiving landscape.   It’s not long before the dark past collides with the haunting present and deadly secrets come to light.

Anahera returns to Golden Cove in her home country of New Zealand to hide away. Her husband died seven months earlier and she was devastated. That is, until she returned home and found his pregnant mistress in her house. Trying to deal with his death, as well as his betrayal, was too much for her and she needed to get out of London and go home.

There are a lot of people in her hometown that she knows and grew up with as well as some newbies. There are also a lot of painful memories in this town for Anahera, but also some wonderful ones of her mother.

Unfortunately Anahera’s quest for solitude is disrupted when a young woman goes missing. Anahera ends up helping the new constable, Will, in trying to locate the girl – along with the rest of the town. As Anahera and Will work together they become find an affinity between them. Their true focus, however, is on what happened to Miriama, and how her disappearance might have something to do with 3 female hikers that went missing 15 years earlier.

I absolutely love Nalini Singh’s romances so I was pretty excited when I realized that she had written this mystery. The main focus of this book is the disappearance of the girl and finding out exactly what happened to her, but Singh does manage to throw in a smidgen of romance, which I appreciated.

Singh does an great job with her character development, her descriptions of New Zealand and of course her writing. It definitely kept me reading and anxious to find out what was going to happen, but unfortunately I had figured out whodunnit pretty early in the book. I was surprised by some of the details but not by the culprit.

While I enjoyed the writing, the story didn’t blow me away. I liked that Anahera and Will were flawed people, and I was happy that they found each other – unfortunately they still kind of fell flat for me. I didn’t really connect with either one of them and that was disappointing.

Overall a decent read that’s well written.

Rating 3.5 out of 5

three-half-stars


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Review: Twice in a Blue Moon by Christina Lauren

Posted November 12, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Twice in a Blue Moon by Christina LaurenReviewer: Rowena
Twice in a Blue Moon by Christina Lauren
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: October 22, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 358
Add It: Goodreads
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three-half-stars

As an adventurous send-off to her childhood, eighteen-year-old Tate Jones travels with her grandmother from their small town in Northern California to London. But the vacation of a lifetime is wonderfully derailed by the appearance of two charming Vermont farmers: grandfather Luther and his handsome grandson Sam.

Sam and Tate fall hard and fast. For two glorious weeks, the couple share their hopes, dreams, and secrets. Sam admits he suspects his grandfather is dying and that this could be the last trip they take together, and Tate reveals that she is the hidden daughter of one of the biggest film stars in the world—a secret she’s never told anyone before.

But when Tate is exposed by a crush of cameras and reporters, she knows she's been betrayed by the one person she thought she could trust. She is forced to decide whether she will return to her quiet life or embrace being in the public eye. So when Sam reappears in her world more than a decade later, can Tate forgive the past and rekindle the passion they shared on their magical trip abroad? And does she even want to?

Christina Lauren’s latest addition to their backlist released last month and I couldn’t get my hands on it fast enough. It may have taken me a little bit to get this review written but reading the book? Nah. I read this one as soon as I could. My initial thoughts on this book upon first finishing it were that it wasn’t my favorite book by this fantastic writing duo but it certainly wasn’t my least favorite either.

So Twice in a Blue Moon tells the story of Tate and Sam. They met the summer after Tate graduated from high school and went on a trip to England with her grandmother. Sam, who was twenty-one at the time was there on his own vacation with his grandfather. When the two of them keep bumping into each other and then swap hotel rooms, a friendship sparks between them. They spend a good chunk of their vacations getting to know each other under the stars in London. Tate, who is the daughter of an aging A-List actor is pretty closed off from the world. She lives in a small town in the Bay area with her mother and her grandmother and she lives far away from the limelight of Hollywood. Nobody knows who her father is and she’s kept that secret close to her vest for the longest of times. She remembers the mob that greeted her the last time she was found out and she has no wish to repeat that adventure. There are three people in her life that know who she really is and when she meets Sam, she feels a connection with him that has her opening up to him about things she never speaks about aloud. She falls head over heels in love with Sam and even though she was only eighteen, she knew her mind and she knew her heart and both of them wanted Sam. So when Sam betrays her trust in the cruelest of ways, she leaves him behind and never looks back.

Years and years later, Tate has become a break out star in Hollywood and she’s just signed on to shoot a movie with her Dad. It’ll be their first job together and Tate secretly hopes that they’ll finally forge a bond that’s real and not the smile for the camera’s relationship that they have now. This movie could be a really big break for Tate and she’s stoked to be a part of the film until she comes face to face with Sam. An all grown up Sam that is just as good looking, if not more good looking than he was the last time she saw him.

So this story is told in parts. The first part is for young Sam and Tate. We see them falling in love as young adults in London and their love was super sweet but fun. I really enjoyed the young Sam and Tate. I loved seeing their friendship grow and grow into a love that took them both by surprise and yet I fully supported. A summer romance that they both wanted to try to keep alive when they returned home held so much promise and I was here for it…until Sam does the unthinkable and then I was heartbroken for Tate. I mean, she didn’t trust anyone with that information but she trusted Sam and he did her dirty. So that brings us to part two, when they come together on the movie set of the movie that Sam wrote about his grandparents. They’re both grown adults now and on Tate’s part, there’s a lot of resentment and on Sam’s part, there’s remorse. I thought I’d get a whole lot of groveling from Sam and sadly, we didn’t get that. A huge part of the reason for that was this story was told in first person, strictly from Tate’s point of view. She’s pissed off at Sam (rightfully so) and so that’s what we see. We see glimpses of Sam being remorseful and we see Sam’s apology to Tate but for me, it wasn’t enough. Sam didn’t grovel nearly enough to make up for the giant kick in the teeth he delivered to Tate all those years ago.

I will say that I adored all of the side characters. Tate’s best friend Charlie was the bomb. I love me a loyal bitch and Charlie was that and more. I loved how fiercely she had Tate’s back and I was really hoping that her and Nick would become a thing. I really adored Nick and wished that his part was a bigger part of the story. I felt like the biggest thing about the movie that Sam wrote was the relationship between his white grandmother and his black grandfather. Nick’s reasons for wanting to do the movie hit me in my feels and I wanted more from that so I was bummed when it was such a small part of the book. Also, the whole thing with her Dad felt displaced. Like, it didn’t really fit in with everything else in the book. I wish that was dropped and that Tate hadn’t wasted so much time and energy into trying to forge a bond with her Dad that he just did not seem to want to reciprocate. I felt like she was too old to still be chasing after her father’s affection. When all of that was said and done, I was completely underwhelmed.

This book was a lot more serious than other Christina Lauren books. It’s not the rom=com books that we’ve come to expect from Christina Lauren like Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Dating or My Favorite Half-Night Stand. I enjoyed the first half a lot more than I enjoyed the second half but overall, the story was solid and I’m glad that I finished it. I’m looking forward to the next one from Christina Lauren for sure.

Final Grade

3.5 out of 5

three-half-stars


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Review: We Met in December by Rosie Curtis

Posted November 6, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: We Met in December by Rosie CurtisReviewer: Rowena
We Met in December by Rosie Curtis
Publisher: Harper Collins, William Morrow Paperbacks
Publication Date: November 5, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 400
Add It: Goodreads
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three-half-stars

Following a year in the life of a twenty-something British woman who falls hard for her London flat mate, this clever, fun, and unforgettable romantic comedy is the perfect feel-good holiday read.Two people. One house. A year that changes everything. 

Twenty-nine-year-old Jess is following her dream and moving to London. It’s December, and she’s taking a room in a crumbling, but grand, Notting Hill house-share with four virtual strangers. On her first night, Jess meets Alex, the guy sharing her floor, at a Christmas dinner hosted by her landlord. They don’t kiss, but as far as Jess is concerned the connection is clear. She starts planning how they will knock down the wall between them to spend more time together.

But when Jess returns from a two-week Christmas holiday, she finds Alex has started dating someone else—beautiful Emma, who lives on the floor above them. Now Jess faces a year of bumping into (hell, sharing a bathroom with) the man of her dreams…and the woman of his.

Jess has finally done it. She’s stepped away from the comforts of the life she lived with her ex-boyfriend and made the move to London, where she finally went after her dream job. She’d never be able to afford to live in London on her own so when her college roommate offers her a room to rent in the mansion that she inherited from her late grandmother, Jess has nothing standing in her way…so off she goes to London to start a new life. As nervous as she was about this major life change, on her first night in her new house, Jess meets Alex, one of her roommates that she immediately feels a connection with. She has such high hopes that her and Alex have the chemistry to make a go of it that she leaves for a week-long ski trip with her best friends with a happy heart. But when she returns, she finds out that Alex is actually seeing another of her roommates, Emma, and Jess has to let go of the fantasy she’d been rocking and settle into a platonic friendship with him.

The premise of this story was what caught my eye at first. I’m a sucker for the one that got away trope and boy is this one of those stories. Jess was a charming female lead and I was really invested in what she was going through all throughout the book. My heart was bruised right along with her when she returns from her ski trip to find Emma sneaking out of Alex’s room. Every single time that she went to bed with her earplugs in because she did not want to hear anything, I sighed sadly along with her. But as bad as I felt for her, there were times when I wished she would have spoken up, both her and Alex, to be honest, because there were too many missed opportunities. All of those missed opportunities slowed the book down for me. I spent quite a few chapters, annoyed that they both made such huge life changes because they wanted to feel something, to make a difference and yet when it came to opening up about their feelings for each other, they just didn’t.

I did like Jess’ character. I liked that she was finally living the life she had always dreamed of and I really loved the relationship between her and her grandmother. I even understood why she didn’t speak up at first about her feelings for Alex because things between him and Emma messed that up but after all of the time that they spent in each other’s company and growing closer and closer, I just wish she had thrown her feelings out into the open and let Alex deal with them. I didn’t need the complication of another person thrown into the mix to make things interesting for me. I wanted them to figure out how to be together without all of the extra people.

I also liked Alex though there were plenty of times that I wanted to smack some damn sense into him. Every time that he hooked up with Emma, knowing full well he didn’t return her feelings, made me want to knee him in the balls but when he finally gets his head out of his ass, I rejoiced because it was a long time coming. I liked his walks with Jess and seeing their friendship really grow and blossom into such a beautiful friendship and I loved seeing them grow into their feelings for each other. There’s a lot to enjoy in this book. From the roommates, to the friendships that developed and fizzled out, to the family support and the romance between Alex and Jess, there’s great stuff here but the slow moving middle pushed my enjoyment into the 3 stars section instead of the 4’s. Still, if you’re looking for a slow burn romance between roommates, give this one a go.

Final Grade

3.5 out of 5

three-half-stars


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Throwback Thursday Review: Midnight Encounters by Elle Kennedy

Posted October 3, 2019 by Holly in Reviews | 2 Comments

Throwback Thursday Review: Midnight Encounters by Elle KennedyReviewer: Holly
Midnight Encounters by Elle Kennedy
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Publication Date: June 1, 2009
Format: Print
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 230
Add It: Goodreads
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three-half-stars

One night with him will change her life...

Between her waitressing job, volunteer work, and college classes, there are never enough hours in Maggie Reilly’s day. Especially not for a relationship. Luckily, she’s got the perfect arrangement: a lover she meets three or four times a year. But when she shows up at the hotel expecting to hop into bed with one man, she accidentally ends up with another—Ben Barrett, Hollywood’s most notorious bad boy.

Ben, determined to lay low after another scandal, just wants some much-needed sleep. What he gets is a scorching make-out session with a gorgeous, naked redhead. He won’t accept her apology, but what he will accept is a place to hide out…and if there’s some hot, no-strings sex involved, why the heck not?

But Ben soon discovers that one week with his sassy, bed-hopping waitress is definitely not enough. He wants more. A lot more.
Now he needs to convince relationship-averse Maggie that a bad boy might be oh so good for her—and the best thing that’s ever happened to both of them.

*** Every Thursday, we’ll be posting throwback reviews of our favorite and not-so-favorite books. Enjoy! ***

This review was originally posted on February 22, 2009.

Last year I read a Samhain book that had an excerpt for this book in the back and just had to buy it. Midnight Encounters is a steamy contemporary romance by Elle Kennedy. I was drawn in by her writing in the short excerpt I read and wasn’t disappointed with the rest of the story.

Maggie is really buttoned down and determined to make something of herself. She was abandoned as a young child and spent her life in foster homes. As a result she wants to make a career for herself and help other young kids in the system. She has no room in her life for complications, relationships or fun and relaxation. Between work, volunteering and school, she has zero free time. But twice a year she makes time to get together with Tony for hot sex. Yes, you read that right, she only allows herself hot sex twice a year.

When an heiress socialite leaves bad boy Hollywood star Ben $10 million in her will, the media storm is overwhelming. In desperate need of a break, he seizes Maggie’s hotel room mishap as the perfect way to kill two birds with one stone: Get laid and hide out. He’s surprised at how much he ends up wanting to take care of Maggie, though. Seeing her workaholic attitude bothers him more than it should, and it isn’t long before he’s determined to get her to relax.

This was definitely a well-written novel. I really enjoyed the story and the characters. Maggie was a little over the top at times, especially in her insistence that she make something of herself before worrying about the rest of her life. I understood her reasons for wanting a stable career, but all work and no play makes for a bitchy heroine, and she was occasionally that. Of course, if I only had sex twice a year and worked as much as she did I’d probably be bitchy, too, but still…

I really liked that Ben was the one who wanted to take care of Maggie. Too often it’s the other way around. I did find his arrogance to be kind of out of control at times. I wondered many times why Maggie let things slide with him instead of beating him over the head. But then..he was sexy as hell. That might have accounted for some of it.

My main issues stems from the fact that Maggie kept pushing Ben away and blaming him for things going wrong in her life. She needed to lighten up and Ben was trying to help with that. On the other hand, if a man came into my life and tried to complicate it without my permission, no matter how hot or how good in bed, I’d be pissed too. Basically, I understood where Maggie was coming from but thought she went too far.

Overall this is was a light, sexy read. It had some flaws, but I liked both characters and enjoyed the story for what it is.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

three-half-stars


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