March 31, 2015

Book Review: The Hooker and the Hermit by L.H. Cosway and Penny Reid

The Hooker and the Hermit
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Get a copy here!

This is such a fresh break from my long tear-jerking March’s reading list! 
I really did not expect The Hooker and The Hermit would be this cute and funny romance book. So, when I began reading the first chapter and found out I guessed it all wrong, I was so so happy to pick this book from my reader’s shelf!
Truthfully I’ve never heard of these two authors before. The first time I knew of them was when I saw one of bookblog’s tweet about the book tour of this book. The cover was the first thing that caught my attention because of its uniqueness and the silly doodles. I did not read any review of this book and not even the blurb so I was practically ‘blind’ about what story it’d offer inside. But I could not deny the good feeling I had about this book and OMG what a feeling!

The Hermit was her middle name. Working from home and away from social life, Annie Catrel was happy enough with this way of living she’d adopted for years. It was not that she was a chronic introvert or what. Annie had her own reason for all this. A reason that she preferred to be buried instead of telling them to people around him ―not that there were lots of people she’d befriended with… A hundred eighty degrees from her social life, Annie was the star on virtual life. Everybody knew her, everybody loved her… but not as Annie, though. She was that famous and glowing blogger behind New York’s Finest. Anonymously known as Socialmedialite, her posts always got the biggest portion of attentions among the whole internet users. The last thing she wanted was for her mask to be blown and she sure would never imagine her secret identity to be revealed to the world. Thus, she stayed completely away from social activities including being too friendly with people in real life. That included dating and so on. Until a guy came around, making her feel something she’d never felt all her life, and practically pulling Annie from the safe cocoon of her home.
The Hooker was his middle name. Well, not ‘that’ kind of hooker, if you asked. Ronan Fitzpatrick actually played the position ‘hooker’ in the Rugby League International. The best one. He was loved for his amazing play until the press entitled him as the reckless and violence rugby brats following his reckless action that caused him being suspended from the team. Ronan then flew to Manhattan in order to escape the wild ruckus behind. He was expecting for a bit silence and calmness by staying away from the annoying paparazzi back in Ireland. But what he didn’t expect was to get caught by some other paps in States and being featured on a clandestine blog as ‘Colin Farrell’s doppelganger with weird sense of fashion’. He had enough on his plates to deal with such nosy but seemingly famous anonymous blogger. So, when his publicist told him to get his image ‘cleaned’ by one of the professional company on the related-field, he had no choice but went along with the plan. There he met a breathtaking woman with eccentricity like nothing he’d ever seen on any woman before. He felt himself being pulled and soon Ronan knew that his first dirty intention had slightly shifted to something more.
When both of them being paired on a project to reshape Ronan’s public image, they got to learn each other’s self closely. But what happened when one of them wanted to know more while the other determinedly wanted to keep the mask? Should they give up? Or just let ‘the four letters word’ doing its job?

Both Ms. Cosway and Ms. Reid are new authors for me but once I finished this book I could not help but feeling the where-have-I-been-all-my-life kind pang of regret. I did not know which one wrote which part but this book reminded me so much to Sophie Kinsella (in a steamier way) and only God Knows how I missed reading her book so this was like a sweet reminder for me. Loved their casual writing!
Both the characters were so easy to relate with. Especially Annie, God, the more I read about her, the more I could see myself in her. From the hermit-y habits, social-media freaks, observer type, eating hobby, to the reluctant feeling of being the center of attention in public. I enjoyed myself company than hanging out with group of chatter girls. Annie was so… me. In a lot of way (except for the miserable childhood). That’s why I sincerely understood what she felt sometimes being in a crowd and all. And Ronan was, should I say, patient enough when facing Annie. Loved him for that! ―even though his dirty mouth needs to be plastered sometimes… They were such a perfect couple considering how his casual persona successfully pushed aside her rigid attitudes. And the other characters were so interesting as well, such as Joan and Lucy. I admit that both authors built every character on this book very thoroughly.
I lost count of how many times I laughed while reading this. There was even a point where I had to bury my face on the pillow to suppress my uncontrollable giggling. It’s been a while since I read such utterly funny read. And I’m so so glad I found this book I even determine to read more of their books soon!
What surprised me more was I did not expect to find a bit of FSOG’s sparks in this book. I mean, not it was not the plot or what, but just the similarity of issue brought up here (and it’s way way tamer than what was on FSOG, so it’s fine with me…). Overall, though, I really really enjoyed reading this book. And the ending was so cute (the epilogue… asdfhsjaflkd!!) I’m so happy that this is going to be a series because I’m wishing for Ronan’s sister’ story to be the next one (hopefully)!
I recommend this book for the lovers of Sophie Kinsella (steamier version). Trust me, you’ll enjoy this a lot!

Love, read, and review,
Cynthia D.

March 30, 2015

Book Review: This Much is True (Truth in Lies, #1) by Katherine Owen

This Much is True (Truth in Lies, #1)
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Get a copy here!


this much is ENOUGH…
‘If ever this couple gonna meet another hurdles between them in the future ―even the tiny one, I’m so going to LOSE IT!’
I kept telling myself this in my mind during the whole time reading this book.
And really… I lost it. Every. Single. Time.
This story contained the most heart-wrenching never-ending myriad of tortures I’ve ever seen in a book. I had enough I swear. Really. I thought I’ve met the most heartbreaking story before but this book, everyone… this book is worse! Far worse, I tell you.

Tally London lost herself the day that tragic event happened in her life. The entire plan that she’d been keeping neatly in mind shattered completely leaving her trying to putting back the remaining pieces. All she wanted was just to forget it all before she moved to another state to start a new life. For just one night, Tally decided to come back to her old self ―the rebel, fearless, brave Tally. A party where she could meet some hot stranger to accompany the night sounded like the right answer for Tally’s one-night escapade. 
Lincoln Presley was sure that nothing would get in the way of his soon-rising career. Everything was on track. Just like how his father wanted of him. The last thing he needed was distraction that could ruin the seemingly perfect plan he had. And he’d spent lots of time making sure of that. So when his cousin threw a party, Lincoln was more than just welcome to having fun a bit before things getting rougher in the future. But it might be a bad decision because that one night he met the biggest distraction ever happened in his life and nothing remained the same anymore.

Life sometimes had a habit of directing people to significantly different paths than ones they always had in mind. That’s what it did to Tally and Linc. Their encounter that night that seemed more like a mistake than fate was the beginning of the changing plan. But apparently it was flawed by lies ―that were hidden deeply and fames ―that both of them always dreamed of having. Could the truth make its way back between them? Once again, life had a mystery of changing the direction of their fate.

I tried very hard not to let my mind wander to the ’after’ scenes while writing the synopsis above because I’m sure I’ll just get my heart break all over again. I thought a week was enough time to settle my emotion down but man, had I guessed it all wrong…
I first found out about this book when I ‘met’ Ms. Owen on twitter. The title was so intriguing and the cover was so pretty, it got me thinking that the story inside must be those kind of cute romance and such…

I was pretty aware that my heart was long gone crushed into tiny pieces somewhere around the first one-third of the book but I kept reading anyway. Ms. Owen brought this ‘masochist’ side out that I never knew I apparently had within me.
This Much is True had a really well-built plot. Even though ones (me, included) might think that the storm in their life was too much, they were all presented very natural and made sense. Yes, it was ugly. Yes, it was heartbreaking. Yes, it was pretty cruel. But that’s life. Ms. Owen brought some important issues that young people nowadays experience into the story. She put them together in cause-effect scenes and explicitly delivered important messages to readers. I found myself thinking of the life lessons here despite of the gut-wrenching scenes. I’m so sure that Ms. Owen must be done quite vast researches for this book.
Well, now I wondered how Ms. Owen could even manage to get through the writing process while I, myself, had tried real hard not to break my e-reader in pieces…
Oh, and this book is a bit longer than the usual NA contemporary books so make sure you are prepared enough for the upcoming long torture when you start reading this.
Even though I was wishing for an epilogue or a bit longer HEA ending for Tally and Linc (YES! We got HEA here, don’t worry!) Though I kept catching myself being cautious and all guarded-up for some unexpected scenes, I was satisfied enough with what Ms. Owen offered in the end. It somehow balanced the long hurdles with its simplicity. It somehow implied the upcoming bright future of them. Well, I hope so :)

Love, read, and review,
Cynthia D.

March 28, 2015

ARC Review: Cravings by Lynn Crandall

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

*I received a digital ARC of this book from Irresistible Reads in exchange for an honest review.*

Get a copy here!

So, my only reason to read this book was because it was said the genre was paranormal-romance (see the bold? Yes, that’s pretty much explained everything…). I thought this gonna be the same old paranormal-themed story but Cravings brought new creature to the story called were-animals. Cravings was my first book of Ms. Crandall so as usual I made no expectations and focus only on my first anticipation of every newfound author: writing style. I found this as an enjoyable read (I finished this in one sitting!) with a cute couple under a very good writing style!

For the past 22 years of her life, Kennedy only knew that the only family she had was mother and father who loved to control her every move. She only knew that every single gesture of affections should be paid with pain and torture. She was the only were-lynx, that’s why she needed to be trained in a special program day and night unlike other normal people. She was shaped to please people around her and ignore her own wanting. She was impressed that she was an object, thus, she had no right to do things as she wanted; she’s told to do things as people wanted of her. She was told there was no need to socialize with people. Until one night when a group of were-lynxes colony rescued her from the cage she was in on one of drug research project of William Carter Enterprises. Being away from the awful parents and rough life she had before, Kennedy should be grateful for her rescuers. Only, she couldn’t help but feeling wary of these new people ―thanks to her parents’ constant lying. The colony understood her need of space to process the abrupt change of Kennedy’s life but one of the members, Asher Monroe, seemed not shared the same idea.
As the most cautious member of the colony, Asher felt the need to stick with Kennedy everywhere. Yes, it was obvious Kennedy was the victim that night but Asher did not want to just innocently trusting the newcomer. Who knows later he found something different in Kennedy. Something he could not exactly pinpoint but it certainly made his guard for this girl wavered. The more days they spent together, the more they could not deny the craving they felt to the other’s presence. Both Kennedy and Asher should know better than completely broke their wall of guards to each other. When they finally let it down for once, that’s when they discovered the actual issue that stood between them. And it was surely far worse than the trust issue that’s been haunting them.

Truthfully, my mind was at daze on the first several chapters. I started reading this book without any clear preamble of what I was going to get myself into. And suddenly I was hit by lots of unique terms in the beginning and I had to suffer for a while trying to get my mind on track with the plot. Fortunately, Ms. Crandall built the plot very well so once I got myself familiarized with all those unique terms and when the character Asher was introduced; I started to get a grip of the story. I truthfully thought that Ms. Crandall had built the background story of William Carter’s project up very well but just simply put the explanation in long narrations instead of showing them in actual scenes which I thought would make the story even richer and more engaging to readers who seeking for more than just a romance story (obviously not me, anyway).
I found Asher here had quite a charm that made me drawn to him. He was actually a bit shy at showing his feeling at first but at the same time he had no idea how to deny what he felt when he interested in something or someone. His protectiveness to his colony showed that Asher had a high level of loyalty to those who he loved. And I also loved it that Asher was not that kind of hero who went around flaunting his ability as he wanted but he actually was willing to restrain from using it to control when needed to.
As for Kennedy, I am in this love/hate relationship with her. I saw Kennedy as this lovely girl with an I-love-you-and-I-want-to-save-you-with-my-weakness-and-reckless-moves attitude. I kind of sympathize to her at first for being insecure, confuse, and lonely after going through such a nightmare kind of life. And she being attracted to Asher was something so natural it was so cute and I just wished that she could start to let her guards down for him. But then she kind of ruined it by showing these reckless acts in the name of saving-her-beloved-ones. Yes, it should’ve been seen as sweet act despite the melodramatic vibes but I saw it more as reckless acts that’s done without clear thinking first. No offense, but I really don’t put much interest in this type of heroine.
I loved it when Asher finally brought out the best in Kennedy. How he lifted her spirit, made her see the value inside herself, and erased the insecure feelings and doubts within her heart at the same time she erased his. They really suited each other with both their perfectness and flaws. I loved how Ms. Crandall opted for step by step progress of relationship between Asher and Kennedy. How they started as friends at first with these haunting little doubts occasionally slipping on their sleeves, then they slowly built care towards each other, and the magic words finally said after going through so many things together. It was natural. It was sweet. It was cute. This was exactly how I loved a relationship to build up!
Oh, and I liked the side characters here! Casey, for example, had a characteristic of real leader in the colony. At seeing how the members of the colony interacted, I wondered if they might have their own stories...
I loved the simple yet sweet ending (yes, our HEA buddy is present here…) even though I do not know for sure if this story is going to continue in another book or what because I sensed that there was part that was left unfinished here. But really, I enjoyed reading this book and would like to recommend this to people with a craving of paranormal romance :)

Love, read, and review,
Cynthia D.

March 25, 2015

Book Review: Confess by Colleen Hoover

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Get a copy here!

I confess,
‘I buried my face on both of my hands and cried for good ten minutes during last chapter of Confess before continued reading’

OMG, thank you Colleen for introducing me with this boy OMG.
Everybody, meet my newest bookboyfriend, OMG.
OMG, you’re confused right?
Let me tell you in a bit, OMG…

OMG… lol I cracked too much when reaching the scene where the OMG mystery was revealed. So, OMG is actually the initial of the hero’s name: Owen Mason Gentry. And yes, as usual Colleen had created a very lovely good guy in her book. Just like with Will Cooper or Ridge Lawson or Dean Holder, I fell in love instantly with Owen. But Owen has just become my most favorite now because of he’s too freaking good to be true. OMG, you should see the sacrifices he’d done for his beloved ones…
“I don’t feel lost in him at all, because it’s the first time I’ve ever felt like someone truly found me.”
(Auburn Reed; Chapter XXI, Confess)
Auburn Reed was twenty-one years old when her life was already hanging by the thread in the edge of a cliff. One mistake would cause everything she had to lose in a blink of an eye. Thus, she could not afford risk of making one. But then came Owen. Good guy, amazing artist, sweet, handsome Owen Gentry. Both Auburn and Owen couldn’t deny the attraction pulling each other’s poles. Auburn knew Owen would definitely be the ‘mistake’ in her struggling life but she debated herself that for once, she wanted to believe that Owen would not be a mistake. When they finally let themselves melting in each other’s arm, that’s when the big secrets standing between them unraveled. Owen was sure a mistake that caused her life firmly planted in the middle of a railway ready to be hit by a trainwreck. The only way to save it was by cutting the tie with Owen. Surely Auburn could do that, right? While her whole life was at a stake? But heart was one enigma in every one’s life. When cutting Owen should be the right thing to do, Auburn felt hollow everyday without his presence, leaving thousand questions flying in her messed-up mind. Was Owen really a mistake for her? Or maybe Owen was the savior in this knotty circumstance of hers? If only they knew the right thing to do… If only they were willing to confess their darkest secret for once…

Once again, Colleen combined story with another form of art. First, she used poetry on Slammed. Second, she used music on Maybe Someday. And now, she used painting on Confess. This is why Colleen is my favorite author. Her creativity is over the top. She was not just simply combine two forms of art together, she blend them in a very original way. The idea of using confessions as a bridge that connect the story with the painting amazed me big time. It was really genius and like nothing I’ve ever seen in any books.
The characters she created for Confess were all so realistic. Even though it was a bit difficult for me to connect with Auburn (maybe because of I have yet to be in her ‘circumstance’) but slowly I found her character awesome and her illogical act understandable. As for Owen, God, is that possible to find a man like him in real life? The sacrifice he’d done was so… I cried cried cried for everything he’d sacrificed for his beloved persons.
“I laugh, and the tenderness that enters his eyes at the sound of my laughter makes me realize that this is what I want. Selflessness. It should be the basis of every relationship. If a person truly cares about you, they’ll get more pleasure from the way they make you feel, rather than the way you make them feel.”
(Auburn Reed; Chapter XXI, Confess)
Oh, I just love what Owen said about people lying!
She stops reading the confession in her hands and her eyes meet mine. “You’re amazed that people can lie so well?”
I shake my head. “No. Just relieved to know that everyone does it. Makes me feel like maybe my life isn’t as fcked up as I thought it was.”

(Chapter IV, Confess)
And this… don’t you want to agree with his saying below so much? Because I do. So much.
“In order to be embarrassed, a person has to care about the opinions of others first.”
(Owen Gentry; Chapter II, Confess)
Colleen must be so blessed in her life because whenever I was about to declare one of her books as my most favorite, she went out releasing another one and completely ruined it. She did it (again) this time with Confess. Now I’m afraid to read her next book because I don’t want my feeling for Owen to fade away so soon. Owen is and should be on the top list of my favorite hero forever or I’ll just spend my entire 2015 reading Confess over and over again. Or I might just do it anyway…

Love, read, and review,
Cynthia D.

March 24, 2015

Book Review: Clear (A Death Trippers Novel) by Jessica Park

Clear: A Death Trippers Novel
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Get a copy here!

p.s. I tried really hard not to spoil anything here on this review, so please, enjoy!

This book is…. OH MY GOODNESS!!!


…and it’s been almost two weeks since I finished the book…

Come to think about it, I never not began my review for any of Jessica Park’s books without bolded block letter initiating hysterical reaction. Well, it’s hard to not to…
Actually, what I’ve written above doesn’t even cover what I truly felt when I was drowning inside the story. I swear, I DID NEVER SEE THAT COMING. At all. Not even close. Nada. Period.
I’m not going to repeat myself because the only way you could feel what I really feel is only by reading it for yourself. Read it. Now. I mean it, read it people. And see how this book blows your mind. Every. Single. Time.

Sixteen years old Stella Ford realized that the role as unwanted kid had finally shifted fully beneath her feet the day her sister and dad were involved in the car accident that winter. After that, her dad, the only sane parent in the house, disappeared completely leaving her with her mother (who loathe her ever since day 1 she was born) and her sister (who began to loathe her unreasonably ever since the accident day). Living with these two family members who hated her to the bone was apparently beyond the bearable level. She was fine, really, to be hated by them. But it was not just hatred she received until this very day she turned twenty-one, it was also abuse and destruction that she suffered from some mental game her mother got her into. For five years, Stella grew up feeling insecure, constantly doubting herself, and was firmly convinced that she could never be an independent woman, ever. The day she finally met her limit, she decided to take off and never looked back. The brief encounter with a stranger boy named Sam Bishop five years ago was the only thing she had in mind when took off. It was not just simply common encounter with stranger. Sam Bishop, within few minutes successfully planted a wise advice Stella kept holding on for years. So there she went, bracing herself to find him wherever he might be now.
“You were not just some unhappy beautiful girl in a stairwell. 
You were more. You are more.”

(Sam Bishop; Chapter IX, Clear: A Death Trippers Novel)
Meeting him for the second time, Stella didn’t expect to meet a man with sad eyes and looking so lost like that. Sam was not the cheerful boy she once met. But it didn’t matter; Stella believed there was a reason for everything. And whatever haunting Sam’s eyes, Stella determined to erase them completely. When they thought they were finally able to working their way out of each other’s issues, another hurdle came between them. Something from the past, something that actually stayed within them every day, something Sam tried really hard to get over. Something dangerous that could be the undoing of everything they’d been worked out. Something that if compared, made death seemed more sufferable…

I admit, the first four chapters were totally wrecked my mind. I was like, What the heck is this? What happened?? What in the world happening?? What kind of mindfck game being played here??? Seriously, Jessica Park succeeded big time in deceiving me, just like how the mother deceived Stella… And then things became more ‘make-sense’ when Stella finally met Sam. I really loved character Stella here. I was in awe of her brave step to fight for herself, leaving the messed-up family with no plan at all in mind. Moreover considering her circumstance, it was awesome that she was able to pull the big act of saving herself like that. And Sam, dear Lord, Sam Bishop were so so amazing, so understanding, so determined, so loyal, so fierce in loving his beloved. My heart ached knowing he’d been through awful thing like that in the past. And I forever thanked Stella to stay true to him, accepting him even after she’d seen the darkest side of him.
“I love you, Stella. With every part of me, I love you.”
“And I love you, Sam. I am so clear when I’m with you.”

(Chapter XVII, Clear: A Death Trippers Novel)
I didn’t know how many times I’d cried for this couple. Jessica Park really knows how to create such loveable couple, even the flawed one.

And then around 32%, I dropped both my jaw and e-reader to the floor...
I literally yelled WTH over and over again with tears streamed down on my face. It was only few minutes later than I dropped my jaw again for the second time. Yes, the mind-twisting part had come and I could feel my mind slowly turning from confuse, disbelieve, and lastly, in awe. Jessica Park brought a whole new fresh theme in paranormal genre that usually went around the same topic. I am completely mesmerized on how Jessica Park could even come up with the idea. And it was so well-built! This is so original and fresh and awesome! BIG TIME!

One thing that I kept thinking about this book was the lesson slipped from what Sam had said to Stella in a hospital five years ago:
“Everything will be okay. Good things last, and the bad things will fade away. 
So, go find your good”

(Sam Bishop; Chapter I, Clear: A Death Trippers Novel)
Just no matter how messed-up things had become in your life, how awful the background you came from, how many times people let you down, know that good things will always last. You just have to find it.

I recommend this book for paranormal story lovers who want to experience the mind-blowing ride in a very original and unique plot they’ve never read before.

You’ll love this, trust me. Even me, who am actually not really a fan of paranormal story, enjoyed this so much!

Love, read, and review,
Cynthia D.

March 23, 2015

ARC Review: Discovering April by Sheena Hutchinson

Discovering April
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

*I received an e-ARC of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.*

Get a copy here!

THE ENDING, oh God, the ending…..
Okay, I know I’m being a tease, lol, can’t help it really.
Discovering April is a new adult contemporary romance by Sheena Hutchinson with first person POV (heroine). I always found it interesting to read a book by author who belongs ‘new’ to me. Writing style is always my first anticipation. I began by reading one chapter first and despite the appearance of annoying character (yes, Hunter indeed) I knew I’d enjoy this book because of Ms. Hutchinson’s writing style. At first, I was thinking that this book would be a light read with minor climax but then in the end of chapter 29 I dropped my jaw and had to welcome myself into weeping state…

All her life, April Landau didn’t realize that she had a need of labeling herself before stepping up to the outside world. As a kid, it was always Jared and April. Jared, the neighbor slash childhood best friend who was slowly drifted apart one summer during high school. Growing, it changed into Hunter and April. It was always two of them against the world. Whenever Hunter happened to mess up and they had one of their little break-ups, April would be like a lost puppy not knowing what to do or where to go. So when one day they broke it up for real, April lost herself. Or seemed like it. She avoided the crowd, she didn’t come out, she practically locked herself up at home. Then came Jared. Jared, the neighbor slash old best friend slash stranger. It’s been years since they last talked to each other. Been years since Jared’s parents died and he shut himself out to focus onto work. Jared came around one day when April was weeping over the ‘real’ breakup she had with Hunter. Slowly the old best friends started to hang out together again. But things were different now. They were not just two old friends tried to catch up the missing years. April might be oblivious but Jared couldn’t deny the buried feeling he had for years. When the two of them finally realized their own feelings, it was time to be true to each other. Jared helped April to find herself again, to pick up the pieces that lost by being a shadow on previous relationship. Jared managed to make April believe that she needed no label whatsoever to live her life. It was no need to be back to Jared and April. It should always be April Landau. And Jared on the frame was not as the light or as the shadow; he was simply as the company. When they thought things finally fell into its places, they were once again faced with the hurdle that could break them apart or tighten them even more.

I actually thought that Discovering April started slow in the beginning chapters. Even when it passed 50%, I admit I thought this was going to end in such cliché heroine-have-a-happily-ever-after-with-the-childhood-crush-slash-neighbour kind of ending and I was a bit scared that there was no such thing that would make great memory that will flashing on my mind every time this book is mentioned in the future. 

But then...
then Ms. Hutchinson made a hard kick around 76% and made me weeping over and over again from chapter 30 to the end. This couple might have a slow and smooth beginning but then again… there’s no true love that wasn’t touch by God’s test. So, yeah, the climax wrapping made me gasping for air. Some people might think that it was a bit dramatic but God, I looooooove it so much!

I disliked April’s character at first. The repeating cycle of breakup with Hunter was really a big minus for me. Added it with her overreacting and hysterical demeanor. Then Jared came and that’s when I started to like April. When she started to get a grip of her old self, April was actually kind of cool. I loved it that Jared came back was not just for his own benefit, but he came to help April became the one he used to know before, he came to help April discover herself. Jared, even though I found him a bit closed and has a strange habit of taking April on sudden trips, was kind of sweet and understanding.
“Chivalrous acts are done as a sign of respect to you. Men, real men, that is, do these things for women not because we have to, but because we feel they deserve to be honored in some small, tiny way every single day.”
(Jared Hoffman; Chapter XX, Discovering April)
Yes, Jared, I’m in love with you.....
Err.. I mean, I agree with you!
GO, good boy!
I wanted so bad to share what I felt from chapter 30 to the rest but I don’t want to make any spoilers or anything. So I’ll just say that I couldn’t stop crying and aww-ing. I’m usually not a drama-lover type of reader but this one, though… this one had me gripping tightly to my e-reader. And oh, the HEA… <3
Thanks, Ms. Hutchinson for creating such a lovely ending for both of them! :)

Love, read, and review,
Cynthia D.

ARC Review: A New Day at Midnight by Michelle Hiscox

A New Day at Midnight
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

*I received a digital ARC of this book from Bookkus Publishing in exchange for an honest review*

Get a copy here!

“You are not a monster. I believe you are lost.”
(Hannah Marie; Chapter XV, A New Day at Midnight)
What a beautiful story!

I dove right in the book without any expectations other than the romance vibes. When I read the blurb, I could say that this book contain enough level of romance I always want in a book. And… damn if this book didn’t captivate me!
I had a hard time getting myself into the story at the first five chapters but found myself can’t stop flipping the next pages from chapter 6 to the end. A New Day at Midnight is a historical paranormal (thriller, if I may add) story that could make you craving for more!

Hannah Marie Worthington had been fighting the urge to giving up her life since ages ago. No, it was not because she’s one weak creature. Since her mother passed away, she practically took over the role as a mother for her baby sister, Kat. The irresponsible mean person called her father did nothing but adding the ugly parts on her already rough life. Hannah was always the one who had to work hard every single day yet she was the one who always got hit day and night by the drunken father. Hannah had no idea why. Her father might be already that mean to her ever since she was born to the world but ever since her mother passed away, it was just getting worse and worse. Only Kat, only Kat could brought her composure to keep going and keep living. 
One fine day, the appearance of a mysterious boy to Marion County along with the Romani carriages seemed like an oasis in her never-ending desert-like life. The smile, the beautiful flowers he gave her that day was nothing like she’d ever seen before. But then one night changed it all. The hope swelling in her heart cruelly crushed when people of Marion knew her secret meet-up with the Romani boy. It only took one night, seemingly, for her heart to bloom only to die again before the sun rose up. 

Ten years went by. Hannah had become one strong-willed beautiful woman. She was no longer the sixteen years old pathetic girl who couldn’t stop weeping over her first love, the midnight stranger. Yes, she could still feel her heart ache every time the memory of that night passed by on her mind: how the boy smiled at her, how warm his embrace… how he died right in front of her. But Hannah now had a plan lay in front of her eyes. Less than a year, she and Kat would be able to leave the devastating place called home and their awful father behind. They could go anywhere, live anywhere, do anywhere, just the two of them. But again, life had a habit of directing her life in unexpected path. She came home one day only to find out her father sold her to be a bride. To a stranger. She’d even never met. A dark devil, if she might add. Gone now the plan she had with Kat. With the dreading she felt for the coming future, she could only let Merik Hearne take her away from home ―from Kat in exchange for several coins to keep her sister’s life good. What left now? Her life was in the hand of the dark King with marred face who later revealed different purpose of taking her away from Marion. Was there ‘happiness’ written on her book of fate somewhere? Hannah had no idea, really. But one thing, though. The more she knew Merik, the more she saw someone who stole her heart in his presence. It was surely a silly thought, right? Only the world she faced now was not the simple one like she had back in Marion with Kat. This one filled with so many untold mysteries and so many unrevealed truths as well. And when revelations came hitting her from every direction, Hannah found out that she was standing in front of choices ―something she never had in life. Could she make the right one? When trusting someone became harder and her heart at stake; could she make the right choice?

Well, such a long synopsis I wrote but I can guarantee there are no spoilers there.
I actually have very little experience with historical books and read only a few of paranormal books. And when I first found out that A New Day at Midnight was the combination of these two genre, I was surprised ‘cause I really enjoyed every single scene of this book. I had a hard time getting my mind into the story at first because of the unfamiliar setting (being a historical book and such…), but when I finally immersed into the book completely I found it really hard to stop reading.
I love both main characters, Hannah and Merik. Hannah is the type of heroine that with no doubt became my favorite right away. Her strong wit, rational stubbornness, and yet very lady-like manner were only few of characteristics that make her outstanding than any other heroines I ever met. I love it that even though she went so much already in her life, she could still manage to be the personality her mother wanted her to be. I felt so touched by her strong adoration for her mother and sister, Kat.
“Where is home, Hannah?”
“What a ridiculous question. Home was my mother. Home is my sister.… Home is the place I choose to call so.”

(Chapter XVII, A New Day at Midnight)
And God, Hannah is so loyal to those who she loved. I swear, my heart swelled a bit every time I witnessed her stubbornness and never-ending loyalty to Merik Hearne.
“Whatever fears I may hold, know I do not fear you. Not you.”
(Hannah Marie; Chapter XVII, A New Day at Midnight)
No matter how cold Merik’s demeanor towards her, no matter how many times he pushed her buttons, no matter how dark the real Merik could ever be. Still, her love for Merik never changed after everything.
Merik Hearne might not be your favorite type of hero. He’s not mindblowingly gorgeous in appearance like most heroes. He has a very cold personality and a bit heartless it seems. But knowing his background, I hardly felt any hatred for him. Instead, when he’s around Hannah, he seemed to indicate bit and pieces of gentlemanly behavior. I could feel how Merik struggled a lot with wanting Hannah, resenting her, yet at the same time didn’t want to hurt her. People might feared him, see him as heartless King and all, but really, he was still an insecure boy inside. And who doesn’t love insecure hero?
Oh God, just how much I LOVE their banters!!!!!!! Hannah might not mind showing Merik what she felt in her heart, but she refused to just accept Merik’s cold treatment towards her. She could snap replies to just everything Merik had said to her to the point that even Merik found her amusing. Omg omg omg, I could never get enough of these two exchanging ‘smart-ass’ replies to each other!
Even though romance seemed to dominate major parts of the book, Ms. Hiscox had done a fascinating job slipping the thriller parts as well as putting the paranormal related scenes to the frame. Despite the similar characterization of ‘paranormal being’ that was featured here, the author bravely threw a new term to frame: Vetala. I thought it was just the same as vampire. Then I did a research on Wikipedia and found out that no, it’s not the same (a bit scarier, anyway). This is the first, I think. But I wish this new term was described more detail on the book so people wouldn’t make the same mistake as me (or maybe it was just me because I’m gonna admit it that I didn’t really pay much attention to the history of Merik’s ancestor… Not because it was boring or what, really. I just hate history).
This book brought me to a really enjoyable roller-coaster ride. It made me weep over the hard life Hannah and Kat had been leading for years, made my heart ache for the fierce loyalty Hannah showed to Merik, made me go aww for the chemistry between them both, and… made me laugh most of the time! Especially during the banters (where Hannah seemed to always forget her lady-like manner) and the scenes where Merik’s mischievous siblings were involved. I really liked Stephan, Anya, and even Nicolai. Perhaps, we could see these siblings having their own stories one day…*wink*
So, yes, five stars for A New Day at Midnight! Michelle Hiscox is new author for me but I have to say I’m really really satisfied with this one. Thanks for letting me read such a beautiful story! :)

Love, read, and review,
Cynthia D.

March 10, 2015

Book Review: Kaleidoscope Hearts by Claire Contreras

Kaleidoscope Hearts
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Get a copy here!

Let me calm myself before I begin with my review because I’m this close to leave my short review as it is and just get over this book quickly.

Okay. I have so many resentments about this book and the fact that I had a really high expectation of finding a unique and heartbreaking love story inside the book (which cover is really beautiful) made me really upset. I am a sucker for romance story and I have to admit that I am so easy to fall in love with books that have even a little spark of sweet romance in them. I often came across romance books with slightly similar plotting but then I got to find their unique features that could make me completely ignore the ‘similarity’. I wished to experience the same with Kaleidoscope Hearts. But I’m sorry to say I did not. And there’s also a bunch of complaints I had about the characters. I’ll try to put them out here later for you to judge.
“Sometimes we let the first ones get away, but it teaches us to cherish the second ones that much more”
It’s been a year since Estelle Reuben’s fiancé died from a terrible surfing accident. Yet she still found it hard to bring herself to move on without a ghost of guilty feeling haunting her every move. When she decided to move out of their shared house to stay for a while with her brother, she thought it could be a great step to move on for her. Except, ‘a ghost’ from the past suddenly came back to her life like a lightning in the middle of the day.

Oliver Hart was the one person she would love to forget forever. The past they shared together was like a nightmare in the back of her mind. Then he reappeared out of nowhere and begged for a second chance making the haunting past flew back to every corner of her heart. Estelle’s scared. Her heart has been through a lot. The scar Oliver left that she didn’t know was still there; added it with losing her fiancé made her should think twice before taking a risk that would come by letting him back to her life. But she couldn’t deny the comfort and attraction Oliver brought along with him; also the fact that Oliver was the only guy who’s able to make the ghost of her fiancé not as haunting as ever. With the possibility of their history repeating itself was high, would Estelle give her heart ―the broken pieces that she rebuilt as a kaleidoscope― back to the guy who broke it for the first time?

I should say that the blurb was so intriguing and hello… who doesn’t fancy romance story with brother’s best friend? I’ve read a book with similar falling-in-love-with-brother’s-best-friend plotting (say Ugly Love) so I was hoping this book would give me ‘something different’. It never came, though, so it left me with a cliché love story with lots of frustrating scenes. It was actually fine with me for the story to be the same old same old as long as I could relate with the characters. But the main characters here… *sigh* really, I don’t know what to say about both hero and heroine except that I disliked
 them so much. The hero is actually the BIGGEST JERK I’ve ever met in the history of romance books. Really. Why? Oh I won’t say much, but I’ll put these lines that I highlighted because it actually made my jaw dropped several times.

“When I was a teenager I had girlfriends, but none of them held my attention long enough to be long term. It wasn’t that I wanted to screw around or sleep with someone else. It was as simple as having different interests or the fact that I couldn’t stay on the phone long enough to have a conversation without falling asleep.” 

I’M SORRY butwhat kind of man who could say things like that? Actually comparing having girlfriends with surviving having conversation on the phone??? I’m not naïve that guys keep changing girlfriends is a common view in real life (doesn’t mean I’m okay with that), but for him to actually admitting it that way? It’s a total major turn off for me. 
And here’s another one:

“Well I haven’t found the right girl yet.” (―Oliver said)
And that was the thing, I hadn’t. Not that I was looking, but I’d like to think if I was f*cking her, I would know she was the right one for me. …”

EXCUSE ME while I collect my jaw from the floor…
This man is unbelievable! I don’t even want to comment on the last line above. And there were still so many other unbelievable things about this hero ranging from the jerk move he’d done to Estelle on the past to the ‘one-date-please’ cycle he proposed to her. If I was Estelle, I’ll make sure to put the biggest trap hole on my door whenever he comes so I don’t have to deal with him at all. But here comes our heroine, Estelle, with all her ‘love makes me blind’ attitude toward Oliver. 
I tried not to hate Estelle, really. She’s been through a lot and it’s amazing that she still had her heart intact and function well after all the miserable moments she had. I wished that she could be stronger and not back down easily like that. I lost count of how many times I rolled my eyes at her being weak over and over again. And with all of the lack of respect I had for both characters, the chemistry between them was close to zero. I couldn’t even see their love as the beautiful, sweet, or even the true one. It’s just… nothing.
My only reason to give the book 3 stars was because of Ms. Claire’s writing style. It was the only thing that kept me going to finish the book. Hers was really good, funny, and I have no doubt of taking another chance of reading her books next time. I had to admit that when it was close to the end, I found myself liking Oliver a bit (during the part saying he was actually a really really good doctor… so sad he could not be a good hero). And it’s relieving that Ms. Claire managed to put a touchy-feely ending which I liked. Nice wrap despite everything.

Love, read, and review,
Cynthia D.

Book Review: Red Queen (Red Queen #1) by Victoria Aveyard

Red Queen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Get a copy here!


I started reading this book with ‘blind eyes’. I did read the blurb mentioning something about ‘Graceling meets The Selection’, but really, I am not that much of YA-fantasy reader so I had no idea what kind of story those two references were about. Thus, I had no idea what would I let myself into with Red Queen. The amazing cover was my only hook. Then I read it and… it’s pretty much an enjoyable read but the story was not mindblowing or something. It was okay, I guess.

In the world where Mare Barrow has been living at, there were two types of people. Red blooded and Silver blooded. While the Silvers were all about the ‘betters’ ―really, better clothes, better foods, better wealth, better life― and powers, Reds were the description of poverty and desperation. All Silvers were gifted with superhuman abilities thus they were the ones who got to rule the whole country. Reds had no abilities and were born to serve the Silvers. 
Mare was Red. She spent her life living in Stilts, a poor village inhabited by Reds. Unlike her sister who actually had a skill that brought her to work on Summerton to Silvers, Mare was a pack of trouble. She had no skills, only those of stealing. She sure was not proud of that but really, she had nothing else that she could actually do. Just like the rest of Reds who didn’t have jobs, Mare would be sent to the war. It was unnerving even for Mare who practically had no fears toward anything. 

When her best-friend slash partner in crime, Kilorn lost his job and had to be sent to the war as well, Mare felt even more scared despite what she herself would face. Kilorn wasn’t supposed to be in the war, he was supposed to stay and have a proper job. Mare devoted herself to do anything to pull Kilorn away from the nightmare. One thing led to another when Mare found herself in a complicated circumstance that actually pulled her own self away from the village to serve the King. 
Mare was always the different one. At home, she was the black sheep among her own family. Among the Reds who served the King, Mare was more than just a Red. She was a Red with superhuman abilities and she was not even aware of that in the first place. In one night, her life changed completely from a Red servant to a Silver betrothed to one of the Princes. As she constantly had a mental suffer by living among the monsters that has been making Red people’s life like her miserable, Mare found more and more the contrast of the two bloods. When the brave Red ones decided to fight for their fates under the name Scarlet Guard, Mare realized that her position could be a perfect bridge to the Reds revolution. But whatever this Mare was in was far more dangerous than what she could imagine. Only one thought she had to hold on in this impossible world: anyone can betray anyone.

I was slow to grasp into the story since I also had to catch up with so many unfamiliar story-related terms. But once I got a hang of it, I actually pretty much enjoyed reading this. I had to admit that I was a bit surprised when I first read about the Red and Silver. Red is the poor, Red serves Silver, Silver has anything Red don’t have. Why? At the same time I happened to begin reading Red Rising by Pierce Brown as well. And I was like, “Uh oh, same idea eh?” In Red Rising, a ‘Red’ is also the poor one who’s ruled by another color people which was Gold, the cruel, life-crusher Gold. I haven’t finished Red Rising yet so I won’t say more, but some people actually said that these two books had a very similar vibe. I’ll find out later.

The characters here were kind of difficult to relate with. I felt like the relationship that was built among the characters was kind of… flat. I thought the Kilorn boy would make an amazing I-care-you-more-than-just-friend kind of hero so I kept waiting for his wonderful appearance but sadly it never came. And then others boys came, but none of them attracted me. I know I wasn’t supposed to always expect there’d be an amazing hero in every book that I read for me to love a book, but it is just sad that I actually couldn’t find anyone I could consider a hero here. Mare ended up being my only focus and the only character I liked. Despite her confusing feelings toward any boys around her, Mare was a very loyal Red who loved her family very much. I felt bad for the constant internal battle she had when she had to play pretend as a Silver.
I had to say that the idea of the story was actually good but I found lacking in some parts. I truthfully had no idea where the story would lead. I also had no idea what Ms. Aveyard would make the character Cal into on second book. He clearly had a heart of Silver despite the ‘good person’ vibe he sometimes showed. It was clear that his future character would be confusing. I also found several parts of the book were quite predictable so I didn’t really surprise when they happened.
Despite everything, Ms. Aveyard has a great writing style that kept me going and I would definitely read the next installment. For now, I’ll settle with 4 stars.

Love, read, and review,
Cynthia D.

March 4, 2015

ARC Review: Into the Deep End by Leesa Freeman

Into the Deep End
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

*I received a digital ARC of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review*

Get a copy here!

I loved this book!
Yeah, Into the Deep End left a deep mark in my heart. I always find a book with flawed main characters is the most interesting book to read. Even though sometimes it’s kind of frustrating to see they fight their own demon, I find joy when they finally able to prove their worth. Moreover if there’s love involved. And this book managed to give me that and with a bonus of inspiring lesson of life.

Luke Stevenson’s life might be the life that everyone’s been dreaming of. Attractive appearance, gorgeous swimmer-body, promising future education and career, best friends, beautiful twin sister. He had it all and thought that life sometimes could be really nice to some people. But one miserable night changed his life completely into the life he could never imagine before. Tragic car accident left really deep holes in his life. Luke lost his adorable twin sister and his best friend. And he had to mourn over the awful losses from a wheelchair that only God knows until when he would need in his life. Luke spent his days hating everyone around him ever since. He even hated himself, God, how he hated himself so damn much. How he hated to be in a wheelchair, how he hated everyone who gave him pity look, how he hated the way his parent cope up with the loss of their only daughter, how he hated the stupid drunk who crashed their car that night, how he hated to be the one who’s left alive, how he hated seeing Adrianna -who was used to be his dream girl- now, because she was like the representative of everything that he lost that night.
Paraplegic with mental scar might not be a really good picture to imagine for every living person. If only he got to choose, he would always choose to exchange places with his sister forever. Dealing with his flawed soul took a hell lot of energy he had inside. Not helping to have parents who didn’t deal well with their own grieves. That’s why going to Camp Caballero seemed like a really bad idea for him. Not just because it was a camp where he would be one of the volunteer for kids ‘like-him’ but also he would spend entire time on the camp with Adrianna. He must have done a very fatal sin in the past to be punished to this extent.

When Gina, the other volunteer on the camp, the cheerful soft hearted and determined Gina invaded his comfort zone and slowly peeling the insecurities that he didn’t know he was covered in, would it be the end of his constant gloominess? What he didn’t know was that the camp might not be his form of punishment like he thought so; it might be some kind of clarity if he took the right step and chose the right person to spend time during his present there. Would Luke be able to prove one of the two facts? The former or the latter, it was only these certain things that Luke had to do to find out: fight his own conflict, join the camp and let people in along with all the risks they brought with them.

Into the Deep End actually had a very simple plot, the climax barely made an appearance but the whole purpose of the story was shown clearly and really uplifting. I’ve read book with paraplegic main character before. But it wasn’t focusing on how paraplegic could go on with his life (it was the reverse, though), so it was kind of depressing and heartbreaking. I’m glad that Ms. Leesa led the angle into positive side. I totally loved how she made Luke’s character here. Yes, he might appear rude in the surface but he had something inside that somehow kept pushing him to stay strong and deal with the storm. I could see some of myself in him, how he didn’t like to show much eagerness in the outside but he kept it in the inside and secretly grew his own strength and passion to achieve it. That’s totally me.
Ms. Leesa did a good job blending some information about paraplegic into the story. I am amazed by all the works she’d done to get a much better understanding of Spinal Cord Injuries (SCI). I’ve never meet a paraplegic before, but now I know that there’s a lot of type of spinal cord injuries and not every SCIs means not being able to use the half down of the body completely. It’s more complex than that. I found myself feel so touched several times. The part where Uncle Wally told the story from his dark moment during the past, I totally lost it there. Also the scenes with the kids on the camp, how they carried themselves around Luke and how Luke silently learned from them, it was one inspiring scene that will forever etched in my mind.
“It’s not doing something that makes you uncool. It’s not doing it that’s not cool.”
(Luke Stevenson)
God, I loved that saying! And when Adrianna recited it and told Luke how she accidentally heard him saying it, God, it’s so damn touching! Oh I also had one other saying that I am a hundred percent totally agree with:
“…letting go didn’t mean I loved him any less, it meant I trusted him enough to not disappear.” 
Wow, just how true it is! Way to go, Ms. Leesa!
I think it’s a brilliant step that Ms. Leesa chose to focus on the effect of SCIs on one’s sexual ability. It’s a really important thing that lots of people concern about when they got a SCI or when people they loved got into one. How she used the term ‘changing the definition of sex’ was one great idea. This is where loves play its roles.
“Uncle Wally once said the guy I was is still inside, I just had to let him out. Thing is, I don’t know how you knew how to find him. I don’t know how you helped me figure out how to reach him, but no matter how many times I pushed back, you kept reaching for me.” 
I loved how Ms. Leesa made an ending that was not cliché at all. I started reading this book with my own imagination of ending in mind, but it was totally far from what this book offered and I really really loved how it turned out! Loved the epilogue!!!
Into the Deep End is a light read that you’ll definitely enjoy. Despite the awful tragedy, the story didn’t seem depressing, but still can kick your heart with enough push to make it ache for the character.
And for Ms. Leesa Freeman, thank you for letting me read such an amazing read to start my reading year! :)

Love, read, and review,
Cynthia D.