June 30, 2015

Book Review: Aflame (Fall Away, #4) by Penelope Douglas

Aflame (Fall Away, #4)
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Get a copy here!

Lemme begin this review with,

crying over a window...

I am really having a hard time this week. So many feeling I collected from my reading list this month, especially the last one week. There were books that stole my heart while at the same time blew my mind, there was book that failed my expectation, and there were two my favorite romance series that finally reached an end.
I didn’t know about Fall Away series until one day around January this year. I picked up Bully simply because I was intrigued by its cover. I had no expectation whatsoever upon that book and it surprised me that the story was so good that it brought up such a sensitive issue of bullying in high school but it was packed in thoughtful plot and bottomlined a reason behind the issue presented from the perspective of the bully himself. Ms. Douglas had such a good writing style that I fell in love with on the first read. This began my journey to read more from this series. Now that I already reach the conclusion book of the series, I feel it’s real hard to say goodbye to everyone in this series. Fall Away might not attract me much at first but I ended up falling in love with it in the process that it took a place on big ten of my best contemporary romance series all the time. This series was one of the reason I loved NA genre.
Aflame became the conclusion of the series where Ms. Douglas presented Jared and Tate couple again this time. After such misunderstanding caused by the hero from previous book (yes, that hero that I used to hate so much for creating all this wide cliff between Jared and Tate but I had to thank for later because that was what started Aflame after all) .
Reading Aflame was like riding a roller-coaster. So many expectation, so many surprises, so many ups and downs but in the end it brought us to an end where we had this huge smile on our face and mind full of memories. My heart was alternated between Jared and Tate. One minute I hated Jared then loved him on the next one. The other time I hated Tate only to feel so much ache for her later on. I realized then that I really couldn’t pick side with this couple.
I don’t do my usual routine (read: write down my version of book synopsis) for this book. Usually I write a synopsis by forming words after words based on my favorite lines from the book that I highlighted during reading. In Aflame, I only highlighted once because I was just too busy burying myself into the story to do anything else. Also, I wanted to be least spoiler by not diving much into the storyline. You can always read the blurb or the excerpt in Falling Away to know more.
I really loved that Ms. Douglas decided to go with Tate and Jared in this book. I didn’t realize how much I missed this couple until I read this. In Bully, I kind of disliked Jared for the bullying he’d done to Tate. This time, I really really liked Jared. Never have I imagined to see the day where Jared would show the sensitive side of him when it came to his feeling for Tate. Tate played the tough role this time pulling anything to prove that there was no more friction between them but it only showed her truest feeling for Jared, the truest feeling of them both. It’s good to see the other couples and how they played important role in bringing them Jared and Tate back together again.
The pace was steady. The plot was filled enough with a little bit of everything: romantic, drama, tension, and of course much steamier scenes. There were scenes that made me cry, laugh, giggle, or just smile widely all at once.
I loved that each story of this series was not the kind of romance where it was rainbow everywhere in their world. I loved how realistic the storyline. I also especially loved every character with all their flaws and strong characterization where no one was mushy or overly dramatic or skeptical. If any, most of them had life-changing moments that directed their personality to a much better way. And when everyone finally got their happy ending, I, too, was happy for them because they really did deserve all that after the whole storm they’d been through.

I learned a lot from Fall Away series. Like never judge people for what they do now, but always, always, try to look deeper behind their façade to know why they do it. Everyone had a reason to do everything in life. Bully and Falling Away, for example, taught me that. I used to hate some of the characters in those books but along the way I learned that they weren’t as bad as I thought. Real life was like that, too. There are always good and bad in everyone. And we couldn’t just value the good and overlook the bad but we have to see them as a whole to shape a better opinion upon them. 

Reading Ms. Douglas’s letter to the reader, I felt so much emotion that I couldn’t express with words. Even though it’s really sad to say goodbye to all these amazing couple, she managed to slip something that put a hopeful smile on my face. For all the love in the world, I do really wish the possibility is high!

If anyone need to read some great, sweet, and sexy contemporary romance, I can always recommend you to pick this series up to your next reading list. Fall Away has so many feels to offer that you’ll crave over and over again!

Love, read, and review,
Cynthia D.

Book Review: Moonlight on Nightingale Way (On Dublin Street, #6) by Samantha Young

Moonlight on Nightingale Way (On Dublin Street, #6)
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

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After such a long adventurous journey with On Dublin Street family, Samantha Young finally represented the final conclusion of the series with Moonlight on Nightingale Way.

It’s kind of bittersweet to pick this book up from my shelf and read it. At one side, I was so eager to see what Ms. Young offered on the last book of a romance series that I love so much while in the other hand reading it meant I was ready to say good bye to this series and I was definitely not ready.
My emotion was all over the place when I started reading this book, knowing it’d be the last time I’d read of the whole family of ODS series. I followed this series time to time from Braden/Jocelyn’s book. Was immediately hooked by them, I continued reading the next book and next and next. I loved how each character in this series had various characteristics yet they got along very well, supported each other closely, and managed to be there through thick and thin of life. Even though not every book was my favorite, I loved the strong friendship that Ms. Young always put in every book, creating such a strong chemistry between each book that it’d be kind of impossible to not want to read the next/previous ones after you read one of them.

Moonlight on Nightingale Way was a story of Logan, who was first introduced in Echoes of Scotland Street as Shannon’s big brother. From the start he already stole readers’ hearts with his protectiveness and selfless act for his sister even though it cost him his own future life. Here in this book, we got a full story of Logan trying to rebuild his life after his sentence was over. Having a steady job and good place of living were a good starter for Logan. Sadly it was not enough for someone with ‘ex-con’ label pinned down to his shoulder by judgmental people. Logan could care less about what those people said about him because after all not everyone was as narrow-minded as them. Say, someone like his neighbor.
Grace was a girl with flawed past working on to rebuild a new life in Scotland after leaving behind ‘all her belongings’ in England. People who were supposedly became her safe haven had failed her in so many messed up ways creating a big hole in her heart that took a long time to mend. Now that she began to pick up remaining pieces in her life, she was met with another distraction. Grace loathed her new neighbor who apparently had very little concern with his surroundings. For the first time in her life, she hated the fact that she worked from home for a living. Her home was no longer a place where she could find peace and comfort. Not anymore since the arrogant guy moved next door, literally creating loud inappropriate noises every night. Grace who hated confrontation –thanks to a lesson from her old life- felt something inside her ignited with rage witnessing all of irritating things her neighbor pulled on every day. She then found herself arguing with Logan, the new annoying yet hot as hell neighbor, which never happened with anyone before.
Heated argument and constant banter-exchange were two things that repeatedly happened between Grace and Logan until one day their ‘usual routine’ was interrupted by someone with past secret that shocked the hell out of Logan. Grace, who happened to be in a wrong time and at a wrong place, later got tangled in a complicated circumstance with Logan. The deeper she was involved, the harder it was to deny her unexpected feeling for Logan. Soon, Grace, the girl who had been trying to stand up for herself, live a new life while mending the past wound, was shaken to the ground by a guy who ironically shared a very good understanding with the fatal issue she’d been facing the whole time. Two people with baggage usually made a real good story of love, loss, and faith. And Logan and Grace might be no exception in this case, if only they let the door opened between them.

Logan was a cold and ignorant guy who was apparently anything but that in the past. His prison time changed him in so many ways even though after all he was still the guy with a warm heart and high responsibility. Though I didn’t love him as much as I do Braden, he was quite likeable guy with his alpha-male demeanor and gentle heart. I loved it when a piece of his past appeared out of nowhere, surprising him big time, but he managed to stay calm and deal with it maturely. I was a little indifferent with Grace at first but then she surprised me with her braveness to stand up for herself at some point. I really liked a girl who can speak for herself and not just keep counting on people around her. Grace gave me that and I liked her.
The plot was neat, kind of fast-paced in the beginning and Ms. Young unraveled the secrets bit by bit. I loved how the one that bring them together was Logan’s past that also something that touched a sensitive issue in Grace’s old wound. Their chemistry was strong, the pull and push was only strengthen the friction between their forces of love. And finally, the ending of their story was great. Everyone finally able to fought their own demons and was ready to see things from new perspective. I liked that not everything magically turned all right in the end; I loved the touch of realistic life there.
I loved Ms. Young so much to put such beautiful epilogue for each couple!
As always, Braden and Jocelyn were the most amusing. I laughed so much reading their older daughter, Beth, outsmarted them in every occasion. She resembled Jocelyn so much in so many ways. And as always, Cam and Jo had the most touching story among all. I remembered crying a river reading their book, and even through such a short epilogue, they still managed to steal a tear or two from my eyes. It’s seriously a bittersweet feeling saying goodbye to all the couple of ODS series. Even though I’m so damn happy that everyone finally got their lasting happy endings, I still wish to read more again and again from them.
Now with a sad heart but smile on my face, I guess it’s time to say goodbye to this series. I’ll just go re-read them when I feel like missing them.
For you who haven’t even started this series yet, it’s not too late to begin now. If you take this recommendation, then I welcome you to ‘On Dublin Street’ tribe!

Love, read, and review,
Cynthia D.

June 28, 2015

Book Review: Beautiful Sacrifice (Maddox Brothers #3) by Jamie McGuire

Beautiful Sacrifice (The Maddox Brothers, #3)
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

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I’m really sad to say that this book had successfully disappointed me big time.
The first time I met one of Maddox family members, Travis, and I instantly fell in love with his characters. He used to have so much flaws but he knew alright how to fix things up and learned from the past mistakes. Paired up with Abby, they easily become everyone’s favorite book couple. I was so glad back then when I learned that Travis had four other brothers in which each of them would get their own stories on different books respectively. I was literally so giddy and wanted so damn bad to get to know each of them. Then Beautiful Oblivion came out with Trenton Maddox. While his story wasn’t as amazing as Travis’s, I liked it because of the mind-blowing part slipped in the end of the book. Which brought me to read Thomas’ story next on Beautiful Redemption. It was… well, it was okay and a little bit nerve-wracking even. I disliked how Jamie McGuire built Thomas characteristic into such a heartbroken and overly mellow guy who couldn’t move on from his previous relationship. I loved his protectiveness toward his brothers but the way he dealt with his own problems was really awful. And more, I hated how some scenes in this book could be easily interpreted for several characters of having ignorant and difficult personalities (such as Travis, Trenton, and Cami) while we all already knew their true personalities on their own books was nothing like that.
So, it seemed like my interest in Maddox brothers was slowly decreasing every time their books came out. And Beautiful Sacrifice managed to drop the final bomb that makes my love and adoration for Maddox brothers went down to very low level. It’s really sad, though, because Beautiful Disaster was the very first New Adult book that I’ve read that brought me to start reading this genre but apparently the sequels didn’t do the same deed.

It started with a girl named Falyn Fairchild who had been struggle with life throwing storm after storm into her path. When she had enough, Falyn decided to leave it all behind: her luxurious of life, her school, her parents, and her old self. She only attempted for one thing, forgiveness, to be able to go on with her new life. Eakins being that place. She worked hard to collect money to get a plane ticket there by waiting tables in a café where people there kind enough to give her new starter. Juggling with fair amount of money she got from work to pay the bills and to save up, Eakins seemed more and more far away day by day. With that, Falyn’s hope was slowly decreasing as well…

Until a Maddox boy came to her work place and gave her a kind of distraction from her tightness of life. Taylor Maddox saw her for the first time when he averted his eyes from the menu on his grips one afternoon. He saw a beautiful girl right in front of him but most importantly he saw a lost look in her eyes, making him wonder what kind of loss this girl had experienced. Falyn almost instantly took a step back the moment Taylor made his first move. But apparently Taylor wasn’t just simply a distraction for Falyn; he came with something that actually could help Falyn to reach her dream that lately seemed so far away. When Falyn decided it was okay to give in to the living distraction in order to get to her true intention behind it, something ignited between them, something undeniably strong charging between Falyn and Taylor. Falyn might want this as much as Taylor but her insecurities was flowing strongly from beneath her ribs making it hard to let Taylor came barreling in. But this was a Maddox boy we’re talking about here. A disinterested girl was the ultimate challenge. And most importantly, when a Maddox boy loved someone, he loved forever.

Falyn was a typical NA-heroine which basically strong-willed, a bit stubborn yet covered in insecurities due to past wound. I found her character rather boring actually because insecure girl is really getting old these days. I ached for her at some points for everything she’d been through and I even went a bit teary-eyed during that one certain scene. She seemed kind of mature there. But most of the time, her insecure feelings just kept coming back without any particular reason. It just made no sense as it was unclear why she felt like that after she actually succeeded in dealing much worse issues before calmly.
As for Taylor, I didn’t know him much in Maddox books before unless the little scene he was on in Beautiful Redemption. Turned out that scene was actually one of the twists in this book. Among Maddox brothers, Taylor was my least favorite Maddox boy.
I had so many reasons for this.
First, he acted less gentle than his brothers. As much as I disliked Thomas, he still showed some mature mannerism and he always tried to act gentle toward women. Meanwhile, Taylor was a bit of jerk. I didn’t like how he loved to play the I-suffered-the-most-for-us card on Falyn in every occasion. He didn’t literally force her to do as he wanted but his actions and words simply implied the same meaning. Moreover the way he handled the problem happening between them was really immature with all of his overreactions. And I don’t even mention that particular thing he did that makes me dislike him even more. This is so sad because it’s not what I expected at all from a Maddox boy.
The plot was a bit of a mess. Things that should’ve been the main big issues were brought up in such small portions and even left hanging without some clear closure in the end. Instead, things like unnecessary trust and insecure issues between Taylor and Falyn took a major part of twist in this book.
And the ending… well, what a cliché kind of HEA it got there.
I mean, I’m glad things turned out all happy for them, that miracle happened in the end for them. They, uh, Falyn deserved that I guess. But because it’s too good it looked unrealistic at some point. It made all the fights and arguments was just some nonsense fling because in the end POOF! Nothing else mattered ‘cause the answer of everything has come: miracle! I guess it’d be much better if things weren’t too pretty in the end because after all true love isn’t always about living a perfect life together but living a flawed life perfectly with love becomes the foundation that strengthen the ground where they stand.
Sad, sad, sad, really. I know Jamie McGuire could do better than this. She proved it with Travis story and I wished she could repeat the magic in another Maddox boy’s books.
Ah, it’s really hard to give a rating in this kind of situation. For some reasons I mentioned above, it’s obvious that I won’t give 4 or 5 stars. But as usual, Jamie’s writing style was so engaging and I always liked all of her side-characters. I guess, 3 stars are enough, simply as my respect for this series that used to be my best romance favorite (right until Beautiful Oblivion) and because I still have some faith for the next and last Maddox brothers book, Tyler’s. Hopefully, it’d make a sweet conclusion for the series and eased my all disappointments for the last two books. Hopefully.

Love, read, and review,
Cynthia D.

Book Review: The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West

The Fill-In Boyfriend
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Get a copy here!

Again, Kasie West left me with the same old feeling after reading her books: half-entertained half-frustrated.
I might sound bitter here but what started as mild curiosity has already turned into nagging question in my mind: seriously what’s the problem between Kasie West and book-endings she wrote?
In fact, I’ll cite a line below from my review of The Distance Between Us where you can see what’s my problem of her way to end her books:
‘I read Ms. West’s book before. Pivot Point. While I enjoyed the book so much, I had an issue with it that actually ‘rhymed’ with The Distance Between Us. Ms. West has a beautiful writing style. It’s fun, adorable, cute, and enjoyable. She starts a story in a gripping manner, hooking up every reader’s hearts during the process, but when it comes to the story wrap-up she seems a bit rush, thus, creating an abrupt ending with ‘left-unfinished’ and ‘much-more-unexplored’ vibes. I experienced it during Pivot Point. And now again in this book. 
And again with The Fill-in Boyfriend…
The Fill-in Boyfriend was a light read. Even though it didn’t entertain me as much as The Distance between Us did to me, I enjoyed the lightness of the story also the good lesson learned here. It’s just sad that it was ruined by the ‘labile’ ending this book had.
The character Gia was this girl who pretty much spent all her life worrying too much of what people would think about her in every occasion. She hated confrontations, much more fights. So she practically just spent her time living in her own space of cocoon where she could bury the negativities deeply and let the others see only the positives radiating around her. At home, she made a note to always be a good daughter and sister. Her family was this type that might look perfect in the surface but really, not so much in the inside. It wasn’t that her family was having a breakdown in the inside or what. It was just disagreement or even complaint was unacceptable in her family. At school, she had to maintain her calm demeanor while pushing down the fear creeping on her sleeves with the fact that one of her friends apparently wanted to kick Gia out of their friend circle. Typical teenagers issue. Gia tried hard to come to terms with all the wronged treatment she’s been received only to keep a peaceful surrounding. Even if it meant slowly ‘killing’ herself in the process.
The male character, Hayden, came to her life through quite an entrance. What started as a fake relationship slowly built up into attraction between them. When they finally unraveled the real issue each other had been having for a long time, they wanted to step in and saved each other from whatever it was they’ve been facing the whole time.
Gia was actually a good girl. A really good girl who sadly happened to stay in the wrong place. Hayden was good and funny but I didn’t quite charm by him because of the unreasonable accusing he threw at Gia at some point. That scene right there showed exactly how this guy could be easily distracted by outside façade to care much about seeing things much closer from the inside. Ironically, though, he was the one who ended up helping Gia to be more expressive about her inner feeling instead of just keep going along with the current wherever it went.
This book actually contained a good lesson for teenagers nowadays. I liked how the author brought up such real issue into the story where people could see that caring too much of what people think of you will bring you nowhere because in the end the only thing mattered is your own opinion, your feeling. But going back again to my main issue with the ending, the lack of conclusive ending made the message wasn’t quite clear anymore.
The ending was a total off. No actual conclusive scenes whatsoever where the bad guys should’ve been reflecting their mistakes. They didn’t even have the audacity to at least utter their apologies to the ‘victim’ here which was a flat zero point from me. Gia handled the problem well by admitting her mistakes and even accepted the fact that how her life abruptly turned upside down was partly her fault too BUT where did it put the bad guys? Did their doings being justified? Nope. See? It lost the important message right here. If the main character finally succeeded in fixing her issue, I wished for at least the process brought justification of everyone’s doings, not just to one particular person.
Despite everything, I guess this book could easily attracted people by its unique title or pretty cover plus the enjoyable writing style the author presented here. Still though, I recommended this book to those who loves light romance story and doesn’t mind much about some lacking on its plot.

Love, read, and review,
Cynthia D.

June 26, 2015

Book Review: The Song of David by Amy Harmon

The Song of David
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Get a copy here! 

I’ve been waiting for this book to release since forever.
In The Law of Moses, we were introduced to the character Tag as Moses’s newfound best-friend. Despite his suicidal personality in the past, Tag managed to rearrange his life after he met Moses. Both of them then went on in a journey together to find a reason to find a meaning of living to the fullest. When I first met him there, I was instantly attracted to Tag. His joyful demeanor was like a fresh highlight when things between Georgia and Moses kind of heated up. I really really wished for Tag to get his own happiness. Thus, I had a high expectation upon this book. And as always, Ms. Harmon didn’t disappoint. Has she ever come close to disappoint me anyway? Even when I didn’t quite get what I initially wanted, this book successfully earned the best spot in my heart.

‘Why was it that no one saw her, yet she was the first thing I saw?’

(Tag; Chapter XI, The Song of David)
David Taggert had been through a lot in the past. Losing a sister haunted his life for years causing him to earn a self-destructive personality that in the end brought him to a mental health institution. Meeting Moses being the highlight when he finally started to pick up the remaining pieces and rearrange his life. It felt like a miracle, really, to be able to get out of the darkest part of his life. But it seemed like fortune keep growing on his side, because fate once again poured another miracle on his plate in a form of lovely girl named Millie.
‘She was a brand new species, an intoxicating mix of girl and enigma, familiar yet completely foreign.’ 

(Tag; Chapter XI, The Song of David)
Amelie Anderson had been through a lot in the past. Losing her sight made her family turned upside down. Her father left them, years later her mother passed away leaving Millie with only her little brother who suffered mild autistic. It surely wasn’t an easy task to get on with their life after the fall down. But Millie was a cheerful girl before, and she managed to stay the same now. Never once she regretted the way life dumped a lot of barriers into her path. Never once she let her condition broke her down. 

Millie made Tag rethinking whether he already figured out the true reason for him to keep alive. Millie made him doing things he’d never thought of doing before in his life. Their first meeting was nothing like usual. There was no accidental collided, flirting words, or heated staring exchange between them. Yet Tag felt it was the best first-meet he’d ever experienced all this time. Millie didn’t need to dress up or wear any make up to impress him. Because she didn’t do any of that on their first encounter, yet Tag got his heart covered in strange hot and cold sensation when she linked her hands around his arms innocently, like it was the most normal thing to do in the world between two grown-ups.
‘I felt like a man of a bygone era, a time when men would escort women, not because women couldn’t walk alone, but because men respected them more, because a woman is something to be cared for, to be careful with.’ 

(Tag; Chapter II, The Song of David)
Walking beside her, making sure Millie got home safely almost every night, Tag realized that it might be the things he wanted to do more in the future with her. It’s crazy that a lot of pretty women who attracted to his handsome face were everywhere but the only one who really attracted him was the one who couldn’t see him. Before he realized, something already crept into his sleeves and made way straight to his heart whispering Millie’s name like a wind in peaceful evening sky.
‘I may have been standing next to her, but I was already falling.’ 

(Tag; Chapter IV, The Song of David)
Tag felt stupid of being all giddy on his own while Millie was so laid-back and innocent of assessing how things going on between them. The thing was, it wasn’t the ‘blind’ part that made it difficult for Tag to confess his feeling for Millie. It was the ‘falling-in-love-with-an-independent-girl’ that made it not an easy task to go around blowing the magic word into her ear. So it might be best to lead everything from a friendship.
“A girl called Millie can be friends with a guy named Tag.” 

(Tag; Chapter V, The Song of David)
Millie might can not see but man, could she hear. Millie might not be able to see the longing expression on Tag’s face every time they talked. Or how Tag was constantly staring at her from afar like a kid to an ice cream parlor. But Millie could hear everything. For her, each thing had a sound that differ one another. Some of them became her favorite; some just became a label to identify things. Being with Tag, Millie realized that a person could actually produce various sounds in which all easily flooded her list of favorite sounds.
“I have a new favorite sound.”

“What’s that?”

“The way you say Millie. It shot straight to the top of my list.” 
(Chapter V, The Song of David)
Millie and Tag, slowly but steadily spent their time together even though the true colors of their feeling hadn’t shown up anywhere in sight because none of them wanted to complicate things. Tag began to question Millie’s appearance in his life as his insecurities came back bit by bit as he looked at the perfection personified standing in front of him. And Millie, being a girl who used to have a strong façade for the sake of her brother, was scared to question his appearance in her life. Because as curious as she was of his motives, she didn’t want to lose something precious like the old days when she started to question it.
“Thank you, David. I don’t know why you are so good to us. But you are. And I’m not going to question it. I’m just going to be grateful.” 

(Millie; Chapter X, The Song of David)
Who knows that apparently their retreat moves ended up to be a misunderstanding when the line began to blur between them…
“You are not responsible for me, David. I want to walk. I like to walk. I walked home before I met you, and I’ll be walking after you’re gone.” 

(Millie; Chapter XI, The Song of David)
As a fighter who built up by a miserable past, Tag learned a lot that in a fight we always go alone on the stage even though we had the whole team backing us up behind. And when it seemed hard to win, the best decision was to back off completely. What he didn’t know that no matter hard the fight, we could always win them every single time. That sometimes there was a time when we shouldn’t always fight alone. There was a time where a companion was needed to reach a true victory. There was a time where Tag needed someone to complete the meaning of living to the fullest.

Perhaps, someone as strong as Millie…
‘I’d only known Millie for two months, yet I was surer of her than I’d ever been of anything in my life. I was halfway down the aisle and just waiting for her to catch up with me.’ 

(Tag; Chapter XIV, The Song of David)
Someone as determined as Millie…
“I’m mad because I really like you. And I want to kiss you because I really like you.” 

(Millie; Chapter XV, The Song of David)
Someone who’s a great listener as Millie…
“When you’re with me, I feel like I glimpse a David nobody else knows it there. 

It’s the Song of David, and nobody else can hear it but me.” 

(Millie; Chapter XV, The Song of David)
That way, Tag would understand that to be with someone wasn’t always to receive the other’s lacking but also letting people see ours. That’s the equality in a relationship. And that most certainly would become the truest reason for him to keep fighting together in life.
“The most intimate thing we can do is to allow the people we love most to see us at our worst. At our lowest. At our weakest. True intimacy happens when nothing is perfect.” 

(Millie; Chapter XXII, The Song of David)
Because after all, whatever circumstance we were in, the option was not to easily back off or let it break you down. The only left option was to keep fighting even when you think you don’t want to.
‘You don’t ever disappear. You just change. You leave. You move on. But you never disappear. Even when you think you want to.’ 

(Tag; Chapter XXIII, The Song of David)
Again, I’d like to say that the cover of this book is SUPER DUPER gorgeous!
Along with The Law of Moses’s cover, they both easily became my favorite book covers of the year. I loved the figure sketch of fighter who shaped up by thousand blue dots. I liked to think that the dots were the myriad of notes Millie played together creating a chord of David Taggert. It’s the chord she played as her way to ‘see’ him. The chord that became the Song of David. See? This is the reason I love this cover. Not just because it looked beautiful physically but because the implication of the cover I have in the back of my mind.
Now, onto the story.
Having read almost all of Ms. Harmon’s books, I noticed that she had a pattern of story whereas the main characters were mostly the most evitable person coupled with a good-determined person. Meanwhile, this book featured new type of couple who presented a romance story as beautiful as the previous couples.
Character Millie was awesome! She’s such a brave, strong, independent, no-nonsense, cheerful, and grateful girl. I was constantly in awe of her charms. I could really understand why Tag had fallen in love with her in the first place. And Tag… oh, Tag, I felt so much ache for Tag. He was this bright chatterbox in The Law of Moses and he still was here… until bad circumstance flawed his personality. Good thing, he got someone like Millie who even though lacked in physical abilities, she made it up in her emotional ability to take an action maturely.
I adored their love story so damn much. It basically wasn’t the cheesy kind. Their relationship wasn’t necessarily filled up with rainbows and colorful silhouette in their evening sky. Theirs was realistic kind and the one where both parties could learn the true meaning of loving someone in life.
Most of all, I loved how the story was presented here. Ms. Harmon went on with a unique way of story-telling. It’s mostly from Tag’s perspective (in a unique way) but Moses played a role as big as the main characters in this story. It’s so poignant for Ms. Harmon to entwine Moses into Tag’s story like this. We could clearly see their strong friendship here. It’s really sweet and touching.
But to top it all above, God, I really really loved the ending!
The ending was kind of blurred. Ms. Harmon decided to play a little with the ending here. One of the reasons I keep coming back for her books is because she seems to always end her books with happiness. Let me spoil thing a bit here: The Song of David’s ending was hardly an HEA, but it’s not a sad ending either. She blurred the lines between sadness and happiness here in which I didn’t know whether I had to cry or smile happily. But one thing for sure, it was a really beautiful ending. Real beautiful. It’s realistically beautiful. And I could say it for 97 times more but I guess you guys already get the point.
So, now that I’m done with my long long review, all you have to do now is to click the store buttons above and get a copy of this book (together with The Law of Moses because it’s REALLY RECOMMENDED to read it first before jumping into The Song of David). And while you read it, let me have a moment to savor, again, the beautiful ending which basically covered both couples, Tag-Millie and Moses-Georgia :)

Love, read, and review,
Cynthia D.

Book Review: The Law of Moses by Amy Harmon

The Law of Moses
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Get a copy here!

I always said on my previous reviews of Amy Harmon’s books that the word ‘beautiful’ wouldn’t cover what I truly thought about her books. Today, let me amend that opinion of mine:
Beautiful might not be enough to describe what I feel about this book. But we all know that beautiful is a strong word and sometimes calling someone/something beautiful is enough to make them standout than the others. Because somehow the simplest word means the truest, especially those that is said sincerely. And when we put the word ‘beautiful’ on someone/something, know that we already set a whole new definition of ‘beautiful’. Just like how everyone has different opinion upon something, some things have their own definition of certain things.

So now, I’ll put this to begin my review of The Law of Moses by Amy Harmon:
A beautiful book by a beautiful author. 
Simple but sincere.
Oh, looks like it’s going to be my new mantra from now on…
The Law of Moses is a beautiful book. And you can go on with another word like ravishing (which means stunningly beautiful) or stunning (which means strikingly beautiful) but after all they all go back to the basic word: beautiful. The Law of Moses is beautiful in its own way. And for me, it’s beautiful because it has a complex plot along with outstanding writing style and well-built characterizations and along with that, it delivers a very deep message that goes right through every heart of those who read it. And this book is written by a beautiful author that of course, beautiful in her own way. Ms. Harmon is beautiful for me because she writes amazingly and deeply meaningful books that if I’m being honest, quite hard to find nowadays.
Now that we get my issue of finding-the-right-opening-sentence-to-begin-my-review out of the way, let’s continue to my personalize synopsis of The Law of Moses and you can find my actual review afterward!
“It kind of bugs me that we’re supposed to ignore our differences like we don’t see them, when seeing them doesn’t have to be a negative.” 

(Moses; Chapter V, The Law of Moses)
Moses knew all right that he was different. Hell, he was different from the start. Not just from the color of his skin or the fact that he was born parentless. Moses Wright was known widely ever since he was still an infant wrapped up with a blanket in a laundry basket. Having a poignant history, he grew up with a shadow of her mother’s bad image haunting his every step. Add that with the test saying he was born as crack baby. But Moses was fine with all that. He was even already long over people’s whispering this and that about him. After all, people were just like that. Instead of finding out the real history behind someone’s life, they tended to ‘create’ their own version of history of that someone’s life. Ironically, that version was usually sold out much faster than the original one.

When he was almost eighteen, his great grandmother brought him to leave with her in Levan. Moses felt much safer living with the 80 years old granny than being juggled here and there without certain affections being poured into his plate. GG, as he called her, knew better how to take care of Moses. People said Moses was crazy. But GG witnessed that Moses was just a little different. Even he showed amazing talent no one ever shown at his age. Moses could paint. God, how he could paint like a maestro at his best. And he did it every single day. But this was where the difference comes out. When many artists painted living things or just anything with beautiful meaning behind them, Moses painted the dead. Not just any dead person but the dead who actually came around and asked to be painted. This was not a mystical tale about someone with supernatural ability. This was Moses and how he tried to figure out the right thing to do with the gift given to him. 

Georgia was a girl growing up among foster kids and horses. Not that she was one of the kids or not that she lived in a barn. Georgia’s parents were foster parents and they had a lot of horses that they used for equine therapy with the kids. Being the only child, she became less dependent and worked hard helping her parents taking care of the horses and the barn. Georgia was a barrel racer and she’d been dreaming to work her way out to be on circuit but some circumstances happening in their small town held back her plan. The summer before graduation now felt like a long stretch in front of her. Until Moses came around.
“I’m a very ordinary girl, Moses. I know that I am. And I always will be. I can’t paint. I don’t know who Vermeer is, or Manet for that matter. But if you think ordinary can be beautiful, that gives me hope. And maybe sometimes you’ll think about me when you need an escape from the hurt in your head.” 

(Georgia; Chapter V, The Law of Moses)
Georgia couldn’t exactly pinpoint what it was about Moses but it seemed like she always chased after him in every moment. Maybe the fact that he was crack, or maybe the eccentricities of his paintings, or maybe just the beauty seemingly hidden behind his striking eyes color; they all seemed to be the reason Georgia wouldn’t stop coming after him. No matter how much warning she’d been received all along.
“And Lucky is just like you!” I said.

“Because he’s black?”

“No, stupid. Because he’s in love with me, and he tries to pretend every day like he doesn’t want to have anything to do with me,” I shot back. 
(Chapter V, The Law of Moses)
Moses had no more idea how to shake the questionable sanity in Georgia’s mind. The girl obviously didn’t pay good attention about warnings. She was so persistent which half-relieving and half-terrifying for him.
‘Georgia’s problems were not my problems. Georgia was my problem.’ 

(Moses; Chapter VI, The Law of Moses)
And as much as he enjoyed her company, he should know better that maybe after all it wasn’t her who’s in trouble. With girl like Georgia, it most likely he was the one who’s in trouble.
“Georgia, you better run.”

“Why would I do that, Moses? When I want you to catch me?” 

(Chapter VI, The Law of Moses)
Another warning being thrown, another rebelling step Georgia took on. Didn’t matter just how many times Moses recited his law, Georgia would rattle her own just to counter-attacked each point leaving Moses no options other than letting her leading him deeper.
“Georgia’s eyes. Georgia’s hair. Georgia’s smile. Georgia’s personality. Georgia’s kisses.” She batted her eyes. “See? Definitely five greats for Moses.” 

(Chapter VI, The Law of Moses)
And had he let her go deeper…
“And these are mine.”

She kissed my smallest finger. “Moses’s eyes.”

She moved to my ring finger. “Moses’s smile.”
Another kiss on the tallest tip. “Moses’s laugh.”
Her lips were so soft. “Moses’s art.”
She rounded to my thumb and placed her mouth gently against the pad. “Moses’s kisses.”
“Those are my five greats for Georgia today. Those were my five greats yesterday and they will be tomorrow and the next day, until your kisses get old. Then I’ll have to think of something else.” 
(Chapter VI, The Law of Moses)
Being with Georgia was the best feeling yet also the riskiest one he ever got. Georgia might always got everything wrapped around her little fingers, but Moses doubted she could deal with all his baggage permanently like G’s been done all her life.
“If you had to paint me, what colors would you use?”

“If I were to paint you, I would use every color.” 

(Chapter V, The Law of Moses)
Moses painted the dead to part the waters and let them cross in peace. It tortured him to see things people were not supposed to see. And he’d done it anyway because he had no other choices except that. But Georgia was the whole different case. She always wanted him to paint her in his life, to sketch her face in colorful brushstrokes against the wall of his heart. Moses had a choice this time: to do it or not. And whichever choice he took, he figured he’d just bring Georgia drowning in dark water instead of the other way around. 

When little did he know, sometimes you don’t actually figure things out unless you face them and deal with them on your own.

First, I’d like to say that the cover of this book is SUPER gorgeous!
AND this book had the most devastating prologue a book could ever have. Imagine that I already felt depressed and teary-eyed even before I read chapter one… That moment I knew that this book would obviously blow my mind till the end. And it did, people, it still does even now...

The Law of Moses featuring a unique and lovable hero named Moses. He’s got a way miserable past but as he grew up he proved to be able to outface the rumors mentioning his possible cracked future. He might be born as a crack baby from a crack-addict mother but they were all just labels people put on his surface. I fell in love with him from the first time Georgia narrated his childhood. 

I guess as she slowly grew a feeling for Moses time to time, I did too. 

What Moses went through in his life, it’s sad that we could easily find it happened around us. Different people, no matter physically, emotionally, mentally or just different because of some gift unknown to us, common people, seemed to always be judged of being on the wrong side of the road. This time, Ms. Harmon decided to bring up a story of different person who’s being one-sided by the community but turned out having something that ironically eventually helped the community itself. This time, Ms. Harmon took us to see this issue from inner perspective of the person itself, Moses, and of the closest person, Georgia. We learned that when they sometimes don’t show any attempt to counter the rumors, it isn’t because it was true, it’s because they choose to let it go until those people figure it out themselves.
Georgia was a fearless and loyal girl. I loved how she always tried hard to stay true to her feeling for Moses for such a long time. I loved how she relentlessly pushed the door to his heart even though he always tried to double-lock it whenever it came loose. Sadly when her moment to back away came around, it was the moment when she suffered the most. Yet, deep inside she still felt the same for the boy who kept pushing her away every time.
Ms. Harmon successfully created a complex plot of the story. I loved that she opted for realistic way all the time, just like how real life was. I might be able to predict a twist but we all know that Ms. Harmon never surprised us with just a single thing. Furthermore, she led us to an endless plot full of surprises where it seemed like there’s no way out but eventually she always had a way to solve it neatly and gradually. It’s not too miraculous or overly depressing. I especially loved the touching details she put in every scene, making the whole story more alive and richer. Also the religious touch that often came up just added another point for the poignant side.
Even though there were a lot of tear-jerking scenes along the way, I barely cried until I got to somewhere near the end.
Okay, I cried a bit, as in some tears hanging in the edge of my lashes but it worsened in some point on last chapter. There was a scene where a character described what love was in a really innocent way. That scene made me a blubbering mess and I felt like gasping for air for I didn’t remember how long…
“Do you think she knows how much I love her?”

“You gave her flowers and said you were sorry.”

“I did.”
“You kissed her.”
I could only nod.
“You painted her pictures and hugged her when she cried.”
“Yeah,” I whispered.
“You laughed with her too.”
I nodded again.
“Those are all the ways to say I love you.” 
(Chapter XXXI, The Law of Moses)
I think I need to stop now before I ended up quoting every line from the book.
What I’m going to say now that no matter how long and detailed I went on with my review, it still didn’t justify the awesome real feeling and sensation I got from reading this book. Like people said, you have to experience it first before you say something about it.
So, people, go and experience this book. You’ll want it.

Love, read, and review,
Cynthia D.

June 18, 2015

Book Review: Fate (The Legacy #1) by G.G. Atcheson

Fate (The Legacy, # 1)
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

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

Get a copy here!

There were times when I read the blurb of a book and thought I’d enjoy it only to find out later that I didn’t quite enjoy it. It wasn’t because the book was horrible or what. In fact, I rarely hate a book in my life (I could count with my fingers just how many books I’ve read that I really hate). It was usually because I couldn’t get into the story; because the book apparently didn’t work for me or maybe wasn’t my cup of tea.
That was what happened with me and Fate.
Fate by G.G. Atcheson is a crossover of fantasy genres between paranormal and sci-fi. Please note that I’m a big fan of sci-fi books and other times I enjoyed paranormal ones as well. I was surprised that Fate blended both genres into one tale and it’s really a sad truth that it didn’t work quite well for me. Believe me when I say that I wanted so much to love this book. I even listed below everything I loved about this book and those parts actually made me enjoy reading it. We’ll get there in a bit.

Lutnalind Zhendar Xavelk didn’t know that his latest mission would bring him into a long torturous journey in some foreign planet light years away from her home planet, Xhartan. When his spaceship crashed in the woods somewhere on Earth, LX went with name Alex going around the crashed area to find out where he was exactly. Trained as navigator for million years, Alex was expected to fix the ship and find a way to survive on his own while at the same time keep an honor of his pledge to his people.
But fate brought him to meet Mellie, local inhabitant who emanated different aura from other humans he ever encountered on Earth. Unlike with humans, Alex couldn’t sense her coming near him. And that’s only the first strange things about her. While trying to figure out what kind of creature she and her friends were, Alex had to hide his true identity and play pretend as one of them. He later realized that Mellie was a vampire yet she was a sweet girl and she welcomed him warmly even though some of her friends clearly resented his existence among them.

As Alex found himself got tangled with his feeling for Mellie, he was soon followed by several other problems coming his way. With human’s wanting to capture him, Alex had to juggle running from the authorities and keeping his new friends safe. Alex realized he became emotionally too attached with his new friends and Earth and it surely wouldn’t do him any good. Moreover with human’s false judgment upon his appearance on Earth when truth was it was the reserve. With it came the risk of crossing his pledge right in front of his eyes. Now Alex was left with options whether he should care about Mellie and the planet she lived in or stay true to his oath as Lutnalind. And the stake? Would he able to come home after all?

I’m going to put two lists of what I felt about this book. One for things I liked and the other one for things I didn’t like. I’ll go with the later first.

What I didn’t like
- Maybe I shouldn’t consider this point as ‘things I didn’t like’ because it’s more like it just didn’t work for me. I said this before, I loved sci-fi so freaking much and I enjoyed paranormal story a lot sometimes but the idea of combining both genres took me by surprise. Some people might find this worked for them but I’m sorry but I personally thought it was far beyond make sense. I didn’t say this combination was bad, really. It’s just because sci-fi was already one big world, one big fantasy world. And paranormal was another big world. And they went on real different paths. Combining two very different characteristically world wasn’t an easy deal. And in this book, it was combined with human world making it three different worlds on the same plate. This was not what I felt personally about Fate. Generally speaking, if there would be any book playing with this kind of combination in the future, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t pick it up, whoever the authors might be. Still, I appreciated Ms. Atcheson to work with this newly fresh idea and bravely put it into a series. It’s a first, and it’s a big deal, and a lot of people thought this was genius, so I guess she’d succeeded.
- The character Mellie was not quite developed I must say. I couldn’t comprehend her personality. Maybe because this book was basically told in Alex’s POV and he didn’t think much of her personality than he thought of his feeling for her. Also the scenes involving her didn’t say much about her characteristics. It just consisted of her crying over Alex, her confessing her undying love for Alex, and things like that. Thus, I found her character was distant and that’s one minus point for me.
- The romance between Alex and Mellie was so instant. I felt like it lacked of chemistry. Maybe it was partly because of my issue with the crossover genre leading to my not-quite-good opinion of paranormal creature paired with extraterrestrial being. Their romance didn’t quite touch my heart, really.

What I liked
- The sci-fi parts. I loved the technical parts a lot. I loved how the author described how the spaceship worked, how the repairing occurred, I loved just everything describing Alex’s planet, its culture, and all. I loved all the details she put into this section.
- I loved character Alex who put a high loyalty on his people back in Xhartan. He also tried hard to stay true to his original peaceful personality and how he always tried to avoid killing people no matter innocent or not.
- The funny scenes! Gosh, I laughed a lot reading Alex’s confusion in speaking human’s language. It’s just too funny how he struggled with choosing the right form of contractions to use most of the time. This was a few lines where I swear I lost control of my laugh.
“Well, when you said… he’t… hmm no”, I frowned and shook my head.
That did not sound right.


No, not better.

After rubbing the back of my neck, I tried one more time, “Hem’st?” 
Tell me this didn’t crack you up! He was trying to form a contraction of ‘he must’… Lololol!

- I liked that the author opted to put epilogue in this book. Most authors wouldn’t do that for the first book of a series. It somehow made the cliffhanger more bearable.
And that’s how I felt about this book. I’m thinking that maybe if this book was told in a whole different circumstance (a.k.a. under one particular genre, sci-fi maybe), I’d love this book. But it wasn’t, so this time I had to settle with 3 stars. It’s just me, though.

Love, read, and review,
Cynthia D.