Here’s the Thing by Emily O’Beirne

Consistency must be Emily O’Beirne’s middle name. She consistently writes amazing characters that steal your heart and dazzle your imagination. Her latest novel, Here’s the Thing, is a wonderfully sweet story and honest reflection from the main character, Zel.

Zel, is sixteen and is probably smarter and more aware than most thirty-year-olds. This character is open, honest and level headed. You don’t often hear that with teenagers, levelheaded, but Zel just is. She gets people for who they are, she sees past the veneers, bad attitudes, and silence. Which is how she meets Prim, and an unlikely friendship develops on the subway system on NYC.

Zel has been in New York for a few months, not really developing any strong relationships or exploring her new city. Until she meets and connects with a young model, in her mother’s modeling agency. Primulka is an enigma of a girl. One who rarely smiles and spends most of her time acting nonchalant and blank. She inwardly hates everyone, thinking most of her peers are silly and mundane. To say this girl is challenging is an understatement! You know as the reader someone has hurt this young woman terribly, making her build a fortress around herself to self-preservation. Zel figures this out too and proceeds with caution slowly pulling Prim into a friendship. These two take off on an epic weekly adventure with the end goal of riding all of the subway lines. Sounds awesome right, I can only imagine the people you would meet. It is epic to them as well, and while Zel harbors a crush on Prim, she knows that this friendship is something. Then the monkey-wrench thwarts the plans of finishing the lines, Zel is moving back to Australia. Her time in NYC is up.

This is a story that shifts back and forth between real-time, Zel in Sydney and memories of her time with Prim in Australia. The story builds upon the friendships that Zel makes. Her friendship with Prim is on a pause because of a misunderstanding and hurt feelings, and this causes Zel much anguish. One the other side she is plowing ahead with her life is Sydney and befriends a group of enigmatic young people in her drama class. Through her new school and this group of friends, Zel really begins to branch out. Her photography passion is ignited again and she becomes part of something more. She also meets a Stella and that is a really great part of this book, as sweet and tender as only that first love can be.

I don’t think I did a very good job of summing this book up for you. So I’ll say this, read it. This one is fantastically written by one of the very best authors in the genre. The characters have depth and the story is captivating. Overall a great story, that I was sad to see it end. Another winner from Emily O’Beirne.

5 out of 5 stars

  • Publisher: Ylva Publishing
  • www.ylva-publishing.com

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First Position by Melissa Brayden

So you go about your days reading books, thinking oh yes this one is good, that one over there is so good, and then a Melissa Brayden comes along making everything else seem. . . well just less than. Dancing is an art form, one I was not blessed with. Don’t you snicker now, I have moves, as a matter a fact I can do the can do the Shopping Cart and the Lawnmower like a badass, but that isn’t going to land me on the big stage, there is always hope for America’s Funniest Videos though.  Dancing, real dancing, like in First Position is heart stopping beautiful, a vivacious combination of living breathing art and absolute athleticism. Now throw in a heart stopping, angsty, sexy romance with some pirouettes. What do you get, well I’ll tell you, in my opinion you have Melissa Brayden’s best one yet! Bold statement right?

Anastasia “Ana” Mikhelson is all business, all the time. Ballet, ballet and more ballet, there is nothing else in her life literally. She is the product of two famous Russian ballet superstars, her father arguably being the most famous danseur in the world. For Ana life is about living up to her father’s fame, finding his acceptance through her hard work and flawless technical ability. What she lacks and what is holding her from being the best, passion. Ana for the life of her cannot figure out how to capture that fire that she has been told that she is missing. This all changes when a cocky rival, Natalie Frederico shows up to dance with Ana’s company, the New York City Ballet.

Natalie Frederico was a ballet child prodigy. Out of nowhere she was accepted into one of the world’s most prestigious schools. The thing was ballet was too rigid for this free spirit, so she left and headed out to LA to find her own expression of her art. Barely making it, a chance opportunity arrives year’s later for her to dance as a soloist in a new production for the New York City Ballet. While her fire is there and passion exudes from her very pores as she dances, she needs help refining her technique. Who can she turn to for help? You guessed it, the Ice Queen Ana Mikhelson. Watch out for the sparks!

These two have banter, they are competitive as hell with each other, and the whole time you have that great push-pull that really holds your attention and grabs at those little heartstrings. So many times you just catch yourself smiling through the book, almost wanting to lose your page and start from the beginning all over again. It’s sexy, it’s hot, it’s funny, it’s witty, it’s angsty. . .it’s just damn good reading (I have more adjectives, but I stopped myself). This is arguably Melissa Brayden’s best work. Bold statement yes, but I’m sticking by it. Easily one of the top five books I have read this year, easily.

Eleventy billion stars out of 5

I was given this book by Bold Strokes Books in return for an honest review.

First Position
by Melissa Brayden
Link: https://amzn.com/1626396027

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The Color of Love by Radclyffe

This is by far one of Radclyffe’s best works. The Color of Love is an absolute delight. I literally could not put it down. I’m talking reading into the wee hours into night. Guess what, it was totally worth the exhaustion of the next morning. The characters are delightful, their backgrounds are interesting and the conversations between each other delectable. Radclyffe was firing on all cylinders with this one!

Emily May is a literary agent at one of the big publishing houses in New York owned by the Winfield family. Emily is used to being alone, hard work and a positive attitude have helped her reach success and therefore achieving financial security. While having money is always important in some regards, for Emily it is dire. She needs to be able to pay for her invalid sister’s constant care. For Emily her life changed drastically as a teen. Losing both parents in a plane crash and her sister forever changed has given her a unique outlook on life. Even as her immigrant residency status, Emily is positive, polite and caring. This woman is epitome of class and grace with a killer wit.

Derian Winfield is a rich and powerful playgirl. Derian has spent all of her adult life chasing fast cars and even faster woman. Deep down inside where no one can see Derian is so lonely and sad she pushes the limit on her body and her lifestyle to keep from feeling this despair. The only one in her family that gives her unconditional love and support is her aunt Henrietta, (also Emily’s boss). When Henrietta suffers a sudden heart attack, Derian rushes back to New York to be by her side. This is where she will meet Emily, the woman that changes everything for her.

This book reminded me a lot of Faded Love. No so much in the plot but in how the characters were taken with each other and had chemistry that just sizzled right off the page. The dialogue between Derian and Emily was fantastic. You really felt the power of their connection. These two are opposites in many aspects, but both appreciate each other for who they are. You will love way Radclyffe crafts these characters. You’re sure to fall in love with them while they fall in love with each other.

5 out of 5 stars

I was given this book by Bold Strokes Book in exchange for an honest review.

The Color of Love
by Radclyffe
Link: https://amzn.com/1626397163

A Reluctant Enterprise by Gun Brooke

Aeron DeForest had a childhood void of love. Her mother a rich Manhattan heiress Maeve DeForest spent more time partying and chasing men, than she ever spent with her daughter. Aeron was sent off to boarding school and was basically raised by her mother’s housekeeper and then the school administrator. Now as an adult Aeron has become a reclusive but successful horror novelist. One phone call uproots her comfortable life that she has spent years protecting. Her mother is dead, and her will must be tended to.

Sylvie Thorn is a Swedish business mogul that resides in in New York. Her childhood was equally as horrible. Her father’s commands must be followed at all times. Her dyslexia has always made him think less of her and she has been subjected to years of ridicule at her father’s hand. Sylvie escaped to the States to be out from under his constant control. By doing so she became Maeve DeForest’s business partner, starting up a chain of high-end boutique spas. Sylvie had come to respect Maeve, and for all her faults as a mother she was a great friend to Sylvie. Now her company is in the hands of Sylvie’s only child Aeron. These two must find a way to work together.

While both Sylvie and Aeron grew up with the proverbial silver spoon in their mouths, they both endured harshness by parents who lacked the emotional capacity to give unconditional love. Their childhoods would be a feast for a team of psychologists. In terms of the book, this angst took up the most of story. While interesting, it left very little in the way of romance. These ladies gravitate towards each other with the understanding of the how badly the past has hurt them, and that becomes the foundation of their relationship. I had trouble with grasping the love story. It just didn’t come off that natural to me. At one point these two have a breakup and quite honestly one of the characters was so harsh I am surprised the other even gave her the time of day after that. So all in all the book is good, it’s just too angst filled in the non-romance kind of way.

3 out of 5 stars

ARC provided by Netgalley & Bold Strokes books in return for an honest review

A Reluctant Enterprise
by Gun Brooke
Link: https://amzn.com/B01FTGM8KO

 

 

 

Personal Foul by Lucy J. Madison

I tend to be a sucker for romance novels that have a sports influence. While I love to run, I really don’t watch much in the way in sports. I definitely do not watch basketball, but I love athletics and the inner drive for success. So when I came across Personal Foul by Lucy J. Madison I was intrigued.

Kat Schaefer is a WNBA referee. This former college basketball player has spent her whole life dedicated to the game. It was literally her refuge from a terrible childhood. While basketball gave her a future and an escape from her small Midwest hometown it has also caused her personal struggles. Her girlfriend has just left her. The reason she left Kat for another woman, Kat spends too much time on the road for her job and she just can’t stand to be alone anymore.

Enter our other leading lady WNBA rookie Julie Stevens. Julie is hot right now, her shots are on fire and she is playing like the absolute superstar she was destined to be. The only problem she has is that she is terribly attracted to a ref. Yep, Kat Schaefer.

So, the book has a great premise. You definitely have the set up for a push- pull angsty relationship. I mean it’s never a good idea for a player to date a referee right. This has to be a big no-no. The only problem is while Kat’s personal strife is set-up. You never really feel a strong connection between the two leads. There is attraction, sex, conflict and then resolution. You never feel the love you just hover around.  In Personal Foul there is way too much telling, not enough showing and not nearly enough dialogue between Kat and Julie.

2 out of 5 stars

I was given a copy of this book by Netgalley in return for an honest review.

  • Publisher: Sapphire Books Publishing
  • www.sapphirebooks.com

Personal Foul
by Lucy J. Madison
Link: http://amzn.com/1943353255

Flight SQA016 by A.E. Radley

Flight SQA016 by A.E. Radley is a curious story of two women who meet on a transatlantic flight. These two women couldn’t be more different, I am talking polar opposites. Opposites attract in a big way!

Emily White is living the American dream. Just kidding this young mother is in debt up to her eyeballs. Her credit card’s credit card is maxed out. Every penny is accounted for and there are just not enough of them to live on. So, Emily starts working for Crown Airlines as a flight attendant in first class. Her weekly schedule is packed full of flights from London to New York. Her grueling schedule will hopefully generate enough income to start to put a dent in the debt she has accumulated. She has no other choice, her five year old son has a heart condition, and she has to do what she has to do to get him the help he needs.

Olivia Lewis is the other main character in this tale. She is very different from most characters you have read before. She is abrupt, she has no filter, and she has zero concept of how to be subtle. With that being said she has an enormous heart and exudes kindness if you can get past her sometimes daunting behavior. Olivia is the owner of a major corporate finance company. She has more funds in her bank account than some small countries. Every week she takes two transatlantic flights. Her home is New York but her company is in London. This is how Olivia and Emily become acquainted.

I vacillated back on forth on what impression this book left me with. First let me say the concept of the book is interesting and I loved that it was an original plot for this genre. Even more than that, is the fact that the writing is outstanding. The story flows perfectly and the transitions are smooth and seamless. I loved the main characters! I thought their interactions were stimulating and I was awestruck by their unlikely friendship. Even the secondary characters have a noticeable voice in the story and bring dimension to Olivia and Emily and their relationship.

So, for 90-plus percent of the book I love it, and then I realized wait there is only a handful of pages left. Perplexing! This is where I find myself frustrated and uncertain of my feelings. Upon finishing, Flight SQA016 leaves you with a giant cliffhanger. That’s it see you in a couple months kind of cliffhanger, season finale TV kind of ending.  My guess is the book was a rather large one and they decided to cut it into two parts. I have to say I am not a huge fan of this concept. The book and the reader deserved to finish the story. I must say I think it would have been an awesome one. The last chapter made no sense. The characters and their reactions to one another completely deviated off course. I had a little bit of whiplash, where is my neck brace?

Overall, this book is great. I will undeniably read the sequel, Grounded. I am perturbed that I have to though. So read this book, it will hands down be worth it, you just need to gear yourself up for the conclusion and then the wait. Patience is a virtue!

4 out of 5 stars

Flight SQA016 (The Flight Series)
by A.E. Radley
Link: http://amzn.com/B01D0AEM8M

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Dian’s Ghost by Justine Saracen

Dian’s Ghost is a captivating tale that takes place in the heart of the Virunga Mountains in Rwanda. Everything about this book is unique. I must say I have never read anything quite like it. This book is very well done, and amazingly well written. It will make you ask yourself the question would you kill a human to save an animal?
This book is centered around the story of Dian Fossey and her efforts of gorilla conservation. Personally, until reading this book I only knew bits and pieces of Fossey’s story, and mostly it came from snippets of the Sigourney Weaver movie adaptation. Dian’s Ghost will weave you into Fossey’s legacy while introducing you to fictional characters, Dana Norland and Dr. Kristen Wolfe.

We first meet Dana as she has just murdered two men in a basement in New York City. Whoa nelly! She has her reasons, I assure you, but you have to read it to find out why. Dana on the lamb from NYPD runs into Dr. Wolfe giving a presentation at Columbia University. Kristen is trying to get students to volunteer/work for the Karisoke Institute. What better place to escape the police than Africa?

While this book is a romance, it is so much more than than just a love story of two women. This book beautifully describes the harshness of Rwanda, and the struggles the people as well as the gorillas endured. Dian’s Ghost is set in the early 1990s and Rwanda is on the precipice of a civil war and in turn a mass human genocide. The lives of of so many were lost during that time, and you will be thrown right into the center of chaos.

This book is devastatingly wonderful. It’s tragic but it is hopeful, and it has characters that are strong, intelligent and so kind. It makes us ponder hard questions, and see that there is a grey area in terms of moral rights and wrongs. So, don’t judge this book by it’s cover. The pages between it are so, so good.

4.5  out of 5 stars