November 15, 2016

Review: Brilliant Cut (Diamond in the Rough #3) by Elisa Marie Hopkins

Book and ARC reviews are posted under this feature!
Brilliant Cut (Diamond in the Rough series book 3)

*Digital copy was received from the author in exchange for an honest review*

Genre: Romance - Suspense
Pub. Date: November 15, 2016

Get a copy here!
AMAZON| BOOK DEPOSITORY


It’s always such a bittersweet moment when you got the last book of a series in your hands. Like you’re dying to devour the book and find out how it’d turn out but you don’t want to touch it, moreover read it, because if you do and you reach the end, then the whole journey would be over. I found it really hard to pick up my Kindle and touch that cover of Brilliant Cut ARC on my shelf. It’s that kind of undeniable moment when you know deeply inside your heart that once you click on it, there’s no coming back to the feeling you had before you read it. You know that you can’t not read it but you resist because you want to prolong the journey with your favorite characters, even if it meant being stuck in the moment. I needed a couple of minute to breathe and made myself swear that I wouldn’t just devour it all recklessly ―that I would savor every pages.

Diamond in the Rough series started with an engaging first book, continued with a complicatedly heartbreaking sequel, and ended up with a brilliant conclusion of the whole series. As a debut author, Elisa really went all out with her debut series, and I’m not just saying it to sweeten my review and all. Elisa did her research, explored with the ideas, and gave her all to these books like, well, a mother to her babies. This series is what I would call the perfect definition of suspense romance. I've said this on my review of the second book, Black Diamond, and at some points I might have said it on my review of the first book. The suspense part and the romance part are pretty well-balanced in a way that won’t make you think certain part is standing out than the other.

This last installment of Diamond in the Rough series started out a little bit different than the first two books. The first page instantly brought me back to the memories of reading Robert Langdon’s adventure. The prolog had a vibe of Dan Brown in it and it made some thriller-maniac neurons inside of me come back to life. I loved it so much that Elisa put such great twist into the story, developing a whole new level of issues as she revealed practically every single mystery we’ve been dying to find the truth ever since she dropped them each for the first time.

Told from third person perspective, Brilliant Cut fast-forwarded to a few years after Black Diamond ended. Or if we’re going to talk from Sophie’s angle: after Oliver. Yes, our favorite couple went separate ways last time we saw them. And while it broke my heart to pieces, there were so many reasons why the ‘calamity’ had to take place on the first place. But it’s for good that I don’t talk about it all here.

Sophie Cavall, an ex-model, now-writer, tried to live a normal life after all the chaos happened in her life two years ago. Apparently, two years was enough for everything to change completely. Like how Sophie now had two parts of herself crawling and screaming around the apartment creating after-disaster-effect every day. And how, instead of having Oliver to keep her from being crazy, Sophie had a pediatrician who sometimes balanced out her craziness with his. It’s totally unthinkable before that there would be a day when Oliver would be just a name in her history book, but it was what had happened. But in all honesty, Sophie could very much moved to Alaska and dated a seal but Oliver would always be her personal sun that keeps her heart warm all these years and her skins tingling just by hearing his name. Some say true love is hard to forget. Some say it would be forever unforgettable. Some say it would be etched in eternity in your mind. Sophie proved them all right when she very much didn’t want them to be. What had happened between her and Oliver was too perfect, too beautiful, that it felt too painful when it’s over. But was it really over? Sophie was in the edge of a cliff of madness, by recalling and pushing the memories of Oliver every day of her life. If not because of her twin boys who needed her concern above everything, she would pretty much end up in an asylum the second Oliver walked out of their flat. And Sophie wanted to believe that she loved Adam. But could one give her heart out to someone when this other person still got a hold on that very heart? Wouldn’t it be ripped out in the process? No. Because the hold was so strong even Sophie felt herself barely living with that empty hole where her heart used to beat.
“Trying to forget you was like trying to forget my way home. I realized you can’t build homes out of people, because then you feel homesick for a place that no longer exists.” ─Chapter XI
Among the three books, Brilliant Cut had the quickest yet the most emotional plot of all. Elisa didn't play around by bringing up a lot of issues like politics, secret order, and some mind-games to bring our couple back together. It might sound too heavy for some but trust me Elisa is a pro in putting complex words together into a bedtime story without leaving the thrilling part. I seriously wanted to blurt out the whole book scene by scene but then I would be thrown away into the sea for being a spoiler brat. This book is that good that you’d feel like holding a presscon to tell the world how the story goes. I loved that nothing’s changed with either Sophie or Oliver. Sophie with her independency and Oliver with his controlled-possessiveness and sexy brain (I never even think about this phrase before meeting Oliver). I felt a lot of things at once reading this book. There was a lot of emotion in two days I finished it. Sophie’s kids got my full attention instantly. Their ‘normality’ was so Oliver, I felt like crying my eyes out that not many people could actually accept them.

There were so many ups and downs along the way, a lot of mind-blowing revelation that keeps making me question whether this was really Elisa’s first ever series. She wrote cleverly. She explored so many topics, putting a lot of exciting trivia, and the way she wrote Oliver’s character deserved rounds of standing applause. We all know how genius Oliver is. But let’s come to a realization that behind every unique and singular character, there is only one person in charge in creating them: the author, Elisa. I am starting to wonder if Elisa might be an agent or something in real life..

To put it shortly, Brilliant Cut made a fantastic conclusion to the story, thus, making the series a total excellent accomplishment. This series deserves more attention than it’s been getting until today. I STRONGLY RECOMMEND this series to everyone who happened to come across this review of mine. Elisa is a new gem in this writing world that is totally deserving of more recognition. And like a diamond, you might get a little too attached once you get to know her pieces.

September 9, 2016

Review: Lionheart by Fran Seen

Book and ARC reviews are posted under this feature!


Lionheart: a Beauty & the Beast Retelling
*Digital copy was received from the author in exchange for an honest review*


Genre: New Adult - Contemporary
Pub. Date: August 8, 2016

Get a copy here!
AMAZONBOOK DEPOSITORY

I have a thing for a fairytale retelling lately, ever since I stumbled upon a kind of book which runs on the same genre a while ago. And ‘a Beauty and the Beast’ retelling? Please, I’ll stop anything to read the book. Including my long-hiatus of reading.

”I believed all this time that, when I finally saw your face, all I would be able to see is what you were trying to hide”

“But all I see is a man made of shields. All I see is you.”
I received a copy of the book two days ago and had read a few pages yesterday. I caught a cold today so I had a day off-work and using it to take a break while finishing the rest of the book. And Holy God… I did expect that this book would be a good read. I just didn’t expect it would be this good. I mean, not just good, it’s a very well-written fairytale retelling while at the same time didn’t seem like repeating the tale itself. Fran Seen had polished it somehow to be a whole new story with the same essential message of loving someone unconditionally yet wrapped them up in a modern way with a lot heavier issue in the background. To bring a topic like a war, especially a middle-east war in Iraq, it took a lot of efforts for a writer to deliver it through a story, moreover a romance one, and engage the readers to actually read it. In Lionheart, Fran even put so much detail about the war as to enlighten us about what the hero actually went through for us to be taken with his persona. For me, it didn’t just enlighten us on Alo, but it also got me thinking deeper about the sad truth of how people live in the other side of the world. Some people might skip the part about the war but I personally felt so much about Alo Rahim through the way Fran introduced him to us for the first time. How she didn’t quite tell us right away about the war he had faced, but the way she pictured him interacting with others and with himself was strangely enough for his character to ingrain. I already felt so much for him without knowing the details behind the awful past. What I liked so much about the hero is the fact that he’s broken but not hateful. I dig broken hero but a tiny part of me always bothered by their mean personality. I didn’t see this in Alo. He’s withdrawn with others and that’s it. He’s lonely, angry, disappointed but he got control. Yet basically he was just sad. And also got mean humor and corny jokes.
Meanwhile Lula is the kind of heroine who’s got a special spot in my heart. Determined, positive-thinking, caring, and so selfless it hurts me to see her so. But I’m those kind of people who’s believing in a good things happen to good people, so I could relate with Lula a lot. It was a good thing too that Lula was introduced to us while she’s already on her fight to standing up for herself. I loved her way of thinking and there’s a line in chapter 3 that instantly made me think that I totally liked her.

‘I mean-think about it-telling a perfect stranger to smile was pretty rude, like saying: “I don’t like the way you look right now. You’re ruining my scenery with your frown. Please change your facial expression for my benefit.” The premise was that I existed for him to look at and admire and appearing unhappy ruined his admiration.’ 
I never felt more connected to a character than now.

Fran Seen wrote beautifully, like really beautiful. She didn’t prolong the drama, didn’t write unnecessary angst scenes just to make the readers cry. She made me cry alright but it was because I felt like I was one with the characters. Like I’m Lula, dying to fix the unfixable within ‘my’ family, yet at the same time I’m Alo, fighting the undefeated bad memories. But Fran also got me laughing more than once through the humor slipped within the convos Alo and Lula had every single time. They exchanged banter like some old friends and it was just so heartwarming to see two people scarred by their pasts to be able to laugh together in the mere present of each other.

The writer obviously knew how to write a romance scene and I’m not just talking about one or two scenes but a whole romance scene in the book. There was this scene in chapter 12 that got me biting my nails in jealousy because I swear I’ve never been more jealous than when Lula and Alo sat together exchanging questions and answers over imaginary chocolates. God.

Besides the romance and the lovely characters, I loved the way Fran put everything up in their own places in the end. Like she resolved every problem in the book without making it seemed like it had to be resolved because the story has come to an end. No, she actually thought about it and gave the best resolution for everything and everyone. Really, this book just got better and better the more I thought about it.
Anyway there’s this saying in the end of the book that conclude the ending of how a romance book should end that I loved so much.

‘And that was the thing- having a significant other didn’t all of sudden make my life more significant, but he sure as hell made it more enjoyable’
Damn right, girl! It’s not all suddenly rainbows everywhere but at least you got someone to dance under the rain with.

I fully recommend this book to those who enjoy fairytale retelling as much as me, but generally though, to all romance readers, Lionheart is the book worth reading if you’re looking for one to cuddle with.



July 11, 2016

Cover Reveal: Brilliant Cut (Diamond in the Rough #3) by Elisa Marie Hopkins

Let's Say It's a... Book Event! is a feature where I publish book-related events under. Find everything from blog tours, book spotlights to cover reveals here!
It's been a while since I last hosted cover reveal! And now that I have a chance to host one, I'm super excited to be a part of cover-reveal team for the third as well as last installment of my favorite suspense romance series, DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH!

Readers of Elisa's amazing series would be all thrilled about this upcoming book but to those who still new to the series, it's okay, you can check the first book and the second one below:

A DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH, book 1

A Diamond in the Rough
GOODREADS / AMAZON / READ MY REVIEW :)

25-year-old model Sophia Cavall has a seemingly nice life walking the runway until she begins to receive death threats through social media and is almost kidnapped by a masked figure. She tries to fight off her assailant, but luckily the attempt ends in failure when mysterious business magnate Oliver Black intervenes.
Sophie doesn’t know it, but the stakes are high: her life and her heart. Desperately needing support, she turns to a few trusted people, and to Oliver most of all. But can he be trusted, who speaks the truth, and the question on everyone’s lips: who is the man in the mask? 
Her checkered past returns to entangle her. She will come to realize that it is not dead after all…it is still very much alive.


BLACK DIAMOND, book 2

Black Diamond

Over the weeks following her disappearance and the discovery of a long-silenced secret, the yellow brick road to Sophia Cavall’s happiness becomes littered with minefields. 
Enter Oliver Black and his irresistible persona. He’s strong, caring, and doesn’t question her need for freedom. Sophie is Oliver’s feminine equal—the lioness in his lion lifestyle. She is his eyes and ears, and has his heart in her pocket. They have enough passion to paint the town red with love and a lurking, dangerous rival fears their union is a problem. 
The price of fame and a high-profile relationship collides as the media spins a yarn to boost their ratings. Before they know it, the romance begins to falter. Can the two reconcile their opposing views before it is too late or will they lose the greatest love they’ve ever known? A devil of a choice is in order. 
The odds are stacked against Sophie and Oliver in this second installment of the Diamond in the Rough series. What is the truth? Who is the real enemy? There’s no two ways about it—ready or not, he will come.


And now... we almost reach the conclusion of the suspenseful series, which would be coming out very soon! Ready to unravel the first mysteries of Brilliant Cut? Here we go!


BRILLIANT CUT

Desperate for a new beginning, Sophie Cavall trades Manhattan for Brooklyn, where she meets someone new. He's a fun-loving man, hardworking and good with kids, but a run-in with her former flame revives a yearning Sophie thought was long buried. And this time, Oliver Black won’t be giving her up for anyone.

Even if it meant facing death alone, Oliver did the only thing he could think of to keep the woman he loves safe and out of the limelight: break her heart. 

The real enemy is closing in. The last piece of the puzzle may prove to be the most dangerous of all. 

In the third and final installment to the Diamond in the Rough series, Elisa Marie Hopkins explores love, loss, forgiveness, and the perseverance of two characters facing extraordinary challenges. There might just be light at the end of the tunnel…





Get ready this FALL

Pre-order, Release Date, and ARCs TBA soon!




THE AUTHOR

Connect with Elisa Marie Hopkins 
WEBSITE / TWITTER / INSTAGRAM / PINTEREST




June 29, 2016

Review: Defending Taylor by Miranda Kenneally

Book and ARC reviews are posted under this feature!



Defending TaylorDefending Taylor by Miranda Kenneally

*Digital ARC was received from Sourcebooks Fire through Netgalley*

Genre: Young Adult - Contemporary
Pub. Date: July 5, 2016

Get a copy here!
AMAZONBOOK DEPOSITORY

Taylor was an overachiever whose grades were as bright as her coming future. Targeting Yale as her next step, Taylor meant to add up on the supremacy her whole family has worked on for a long time. Her dad was a successful senator while both her siblings enrolled in aforementioned Ivy League school trying to catch up their father's brilliant path. Following her family's grace was all she knows her whole life. Taylor might have worked so hard to be the next valedictorian as well as the best soccer captain in her current private school, but keeping a good image of being a senator's academically-bright daughter is what challenged Taylor to be better ―not that she needed to get any better, anyway.

Taylor was just one step away from reaching all those dreams... if only she's also 'bright' enough to keep herself from playing hero on backstabbing ex-boyfriend.
Covering her less than charming ex-boyfriend for drugs possession resulted in Taylor getting kicked out of school and mentally out of her family. Not only that she tainted her clean sheet for Yale's early submission, she also put her dad’s campaign for coming election into such fatal risk. What Taylor had been working on practically all her life was blown away by a single mistake (or more like ‘unnecessary heroic act’).

It’s kind of ironic and sad, what happened to Taylor and how her family reacted to the case. It’s even sadder because things like that did happen in real life all the time. Miranda accurately portrayed Taylor’s life as a teenager with all the problems within. Her interaction with her friends, her romantic life, her life as both senator’s daughter and that one haven’t-yet-to-be-succeed kid in family which pressure was pretty high either way, and how her life was slowly crumbling down along with her belief on what was supposed to be her master plan all along. The author brought us to the front row to see how it all changed and affected Taylor with her detailed scenes. I’m sure there would be many teens out there who could pretty much relate to Taylor’s life because being a kid, moreover the last kid in the family, you would be expected to do much better than your siblings or at least do as well as them. I personally could relate with her from this angle. Sometimes it could be easy for parents to compare you with your sister or brother and though they mean well with that, it could be a sensitive issue because no one in this world wants to be compared with other people, not even their siblings. Everyone just wants to be seen as themselves, be it good or bad.

I could feel what Taylor had to go through and it sucked that her parents are such hopeless excuse. The only comfort she could get was only from her brother which is sad considering Taylor also got a sister but the said sister was really awful to her. The chemistry in Taylor’s family was almost non-existent and I was hoping that in the end it would be fixed but the author decided to let Tay made peace with her family in her own way. Like it’s not necessarily be a sweet ending where everyone asked for forgiveness from each other, but it’s simply that since Taylor had found her way in life, she could face her family with stronger backbone.

The appearance of Ezra character in the story seemed to be out of nowhere and I kind of missed the background story at first. But along with his continuous appearance, we learned what had happened in the past between him and Taylor. I grew a deep feeling of sympathy for him that soon turned into affection. I felt really bad for him and at the same time felt amazed by how compared to Taylor, Ezra was much braver to go against his family’s conservative wish. Ezra’s relationship with Taylor was pretty sweet and I like its dynamic between them.

I might not have any serious issues with this book but truthfully speaking, Defending Taylor is what I would call as a good yet barely memorable read. It’s not that it’s badly written or what. There were several scenes that fell flat that I wouldn’t mind if it was removed from the book anyway. Like those when Taylor asked for advice from the friend who less and more was in the same circumstance as her. It might be a good and a little touching even, but it was like it’s written half-heartedly that I couldn’t find the emotional connection that likely supposed to be there. Though, honestly the advice was really good!

”Your advice is to just come clean? Let my family know I’m a big ole mess and have no direction?”

… “Yeah, and the sooner the better. Then you can start figuring out what you want to do instead of worrying about what your parents will say and pretending everything is fine. Just come clean.”
Defending Taylor contained a good amount of life lessons, especially for young reader who’s in the middle of figuring things out in their life after high school. Miranda made a clear picture of teen’s life with all the problems that come along within it. Yet me being too old to be a ‘teen’ found this book simply as good read but not the one that would leave marks. But don’t let me discouraged you to pick this book up, though!




May 15, 2016

Review: Sweetgirl by Travis Mulhauser

Book and ARC reviews are posted under this feature!


Sweetgirl


*Digital ARC was received from HarperCollins UK through Netgalley*

Genre: Adult Fiction
Pub. Date: Feb 2, 2016

Get a copy here!
AMAZON BOOK DEPOSITORY

It surprised me that it took me so long to write down this review when I’ve finished reading the ARC a few weeks ago and had quite interesting reaction upon finishing it.

I walked into this book thinking that it might not meet my cup of tea despite my attempt to request its ARC on the first place. But the mention of a lost baby and a girl who seems to live longer than her age pulled me to a stop… and I knew that I couldn’t skip this one.

I never considered myself as a reader who would enjoy dark and suspense read. So I was literally having a hard time reading this book at first. It didn’t help that not only this book was so intense; it also brought such disturbing topics like drugs and alcohol addiction and murders. Reading this was so out of my comfort zone but I could somehow bear it because of the characters of the aforementioned girl and baby.

Percy James was only sixteen but we could see how life had shaped her into a much older and wiser person than her years living in the world. For the nth time, Percy had to go out to find her mother who’s disappeared along with her booze addiction. It was snowing and probably going to be a bad storm soon but Percy had no other choice but to keep looking for her mom. It’s like a dead-end circle with her mom’s situation. Percy loved her mom, so deeply she could never forget the good times they used to have together when her mom was still fine. But lately things only got worse, moreover when her sister went to live her new life with their little happy family across the state, leaving Percy to take care of her alcoholic mother. Percy was a good girl; so good that she often lied to her sister that their mother was okay, that everything was as fine as a sunny weather. But it’s actually a snowstorm in Michigan; even a worse one in Percy’s household.

The first time Percy met Jenna, the baby was practically halfway to be buried by the snow blowing from the open window in Shelton Potter’s cabin. It’s like a fate. When Percy went there to find her mom (who last she checked with the neighbor, was on a drunk fight with Shelton), she found Jenna instead. The poor freezing baby seemed to alter her priority as its innocent grip brought Percy to her determination to get the baby out of the hell place. Looking at Jenna neglected in the middle of meth-house with no responsible adult to take care of her, tugged a string inside Percy’s heart. The baby was so much like her. Yet again she’s much older than Jenna when her mother had gotten to her worse condition and left her to fend for herself. Suddenly, Jenna became her priority. Even if saving Jenna meant she had the drugged-angry Shelton and his bunch of criminal friends hot on her heels. Even if saving Jenna made her fight her own beloved bad mother.

I felt so much emotion being played while reading this book. It was quite bothering that I had to see half of scenes on the book from Shelton’s perspective. Yet at the same time I was impressed by Mulhauser’s ability to write that perspective with such details. It was oddly fun and certainly dark but it was also quite heart-breaking when Shelton’s actual feeling sometimes was shown during one of his many weak moments. It surprised me that even in the end I felt a piece of my heart had gone along with Shelton’s character.

Seeing things from Percy’s perspective meanwhile was quite an experience. We could literally see her love for Jenna growing stronger. Her struggle, her hopelessness, her determination, and her faith for Jenna’s better future were all pictured in rich details for us to witness. I felt my love for Percy and Jenna grew as well. The appearance of Portis Dale as Percy’s hopeless savior just added another color to their tragically desperate yet endearing journey of escape. Portis was this skeptical figure who’s as close to a family Percy ever had in her life besides her mother and sister. I found it quite amusing how Portis kinda wanted to just leave Jenna behind because he was worried of Percy’s safety yet with Percy’s persistence (or really just stubborn) to keep Jenna, he let Percy had her way. Their banter often sounded intensely scary to others but we could hear in Portis’s harsh tone how much he cared for Percy and how much Percy needed a father figure in him. Completed with Mulhauser’s extremely detailed description of cold weather in Michigan, Sweetgirl would make you curl under your blanket in your reading couch, with heartbeat running and tears ready to flow any moment.

In the end, I had to give in with my emotion as I put aside my Kindle and hid my tears for the world to see. The tears were mixed of happy ones and sad ones but I’d like it to be a happy one because I knew that what the author decided to write in the end was for the best for all. God, even now when I re-read that last chapter I am tearing up again like a newborn baby I am. The author did write such beautifully heartwarming (with little heartbreaking-spice) ending to such a heavy read. It felt like Mulhauser did not just close the curtain after the show but also wipe the stage and cleaned the aisle from the tissues being left behind by people. It was a very neat ending; near perfect even.

I would like to recommend this book to just everyone who loves to read. Even me who prefers to read sweet, light reads than the heavy ones, Sweetgirl just made an exception for me.
‘I’m the one who found her,…. But I’m not the same person I was before. I am different now because of Jenna and Portis Dale and I believe we all tried to save each other in that storm and that mostly we did.’ ―chapter XXIII