BOOK REVIEW ― Curveball by Mariah Dietz




Shakespeare believed there was always humor in tragedy and tragedy in humor.
My life proved his theory as fact.


At eighteen I was a single parent moving to this small town to be with the man I loved. The one who was supposed to love and cherish me in return.

Finding out he had a wife was tragic. Remaining in love with him in spite of her was more tragic.
My mom and best friend setting me up on a long string of blind dates was an ongoing tragedy.

Nine years later, I’ve learned to see the humor in most situations.

My mom and best friend setting me up on disastrous blind dates. My son’s jokes.
The fire alarm going off each time I cook.

My constant bright spot always adding to the humor was my son, Hayden. But when Hayden had a life-threatening allergic reaction, the man who came to help my little boy became my own savior. His laugh, his smile, and the way his eyes lit up when he spoke to my son made him a beacon of light in both our lives.

But I wasn’t the only one who noticed him.
When I began having feelings for the man my best and only friend had fallen for, I knew following my heart would once again lead to a fresh round of heartbreak.

Love led me to this town. Lies kept me there.
Would history repeat itself? Or had life just thrown me another Curveball?


Rating & Review

    1/2


descriptionI just need you to listen to me. Listen to my actions. Do you realize how many times I’ve come over here with weak excuses just so I could spend more time with you? Do you understand that I fall asleep thinking about you and wake up with you still on my mind? This has nothing to do with her and everything to do with you. With us.


Take my heart and keep it prisoner if you will deliver these kinds of lines. Sigh! I'm just going to starfish on the floor and bask in this story.

*deep breath* I don't know how Dietz manages to capture emotions, that sometimes even the person feeling them can't explain, but she does. And through that, she manages to capture the readers. It took me four and a half hours to finish this book. Four and a half. That's the fastest I've read in two months and that too with stopping to do work here and there.

Comparing it to Dietz's previous works, in my opinion, it was a tad lighter on the emotional scale but not for one moment did it feel that it was too light or you didn't hit the right emotion because you sure did!

There were SO many paragraphs I highlighted, never a line, but paragraphs because either it was funny or two because it just touched the heart. For example:

descriptionWhen you give your heart away there’s no way to fully get it back. Pieces will be left behind, lies will drill holes, deceit will cause cracks, and the feeling of being unwanted will create a doubt your heart was ever whole. The only time I’ve ever felt as though my heart was entirely full was years ago when I thought a man loved and adored me more than anything or anyone. It’s a feeling I have missed for the past nine years, and one I find myself briefly waiting to experience on every blind date I go on. There have been moments where I’ve even wondered if I was possibly experiencing a small bit of it while out on a date. A private smile, or a prolonged glance, or finding something special in common like a shared loved for French espresso have all had me believing and hoping I could feel that fullness I once felt. It was almost cruel to experience those dates at all because it didn’t feel fair to my feelings, let alone my heart.



GAH! There were so many lines that just hit me, not because I could relate but because I knew them to be profound. There are so many little things that make up this story but this time I want to talk about the characters in detail.


The characters that I loved:

I love that even after hearing so much bitching from the people around her Ella always kept her head high even though she felt like giving up a lot of times. What I didn't like was how she always took what she was given and like Coen said, never stood up for herself or defended her actions but I can understand. It is sometimes easier to silently take everything than refute every person coming up to you and hating you.
Hayden was such a darling! And Coen, can I find a guy like him somewhere? Lol! It was SO nice to see someone actually standing up to Ella and telling her to feel whatever she wants. That it was okay to say no. He gave her space when needed and understood her even when she didn't say anything. Oh! and how he didn't let the rumors hinder him (even he had that small doubtful moment)


And now the ones I hate.

Patrick is such a grade A asshole. Wanting to have Hayden with him and then disappearing and then acting as if he had any right over Ella. But what bugged me the most was how pissed he was when he found out that Coen and Ella were dating. Wish I could sucker punch him.
Rachel. I swear I've never wanted a character to be so real that I could slap the hell out of them and then maybe rake them over coals. What Patrick did, at least Ella knew but Rachel? That was the worst possible betrayal EVER! I somehow didn't like her from the very moment she was introduced so thank you, Mariah, for giving me a valid reason to hate her all the more. Oh and the whole town of course.


I know this is not how I typically review but I needed to address these things specifically and simply put. I loved the story! I have been in such a funk for one and a half month and there are only a handful of books that I am able to read fully and enjoy and I am so glad Curveball was one of them.


PS. The female lead was cheated on but that was 10 years ago and you already know about it. The leads are true to each other! Hope this helps.



BOOK REVIEW ― The Opposite of You (Opposites Attract #1) by Rachel Higginson






I’ve sworn off men. 

All men. 

Famous last words, right? You’re expecting some epic tale of reluctant love and my dramatic change of heart? Well, you’re not going to get it. 

I’m stubborn. And headstrong. And I’ve just survived the worst three years of my life. After escaping an abusive boyfriend to live in hostels and cheap hotels while I worked my way across Europe, I’ve come to two conclusions. 

The first? Now that I’m back home, I’m going to squander my expensive culinary degree on a food truck that caters to the late night drunk crowd. 

The second? I’m going to prove to the bastard across the plaza that my street food is better than his fussy five course monstrosities.

Killian Quinn might be Food and Wine’s Chef to Watch Out For. He might have a Michelin Star. He might have every food critic in the city wrapped around his too-large fingers. But he’s also pretentious and unbearably arrogant and the very opposite of me. 

So he can keep his unsolicited advice and his late night visits and his cocky smiles. I want none of it. Or him. 

I want the opposite.


Rating & Review

   

descriptionI flew straight to Amsterdam, Vann. What was he going to do?
Hop on a plane and scour the city looking for me?”
"Yeah. That. Or the whole damn country. If you love a girl, if she’s the one, you don’t let an ocean stop you. You go after her. You don’t let her get away.”



I've said it before and I am saying it again. It is always daunting picking up a book by an author that is new to you. And, when it is authors like Rachel Higginson whose previous works are so well loved by the readers, all you hope is that when you pick up a book by them you are not disappointed because no matter what you say, in the book community first impressions really do matter and that impression sets the pace for the future — if you would or would not pick any of their books, published or upcoming.


My first impression of my very first Rachel Higginson — I ENJOYED it. Thoroughly! The Opposite of You is a slow burn, witty, sexy and an overall feel good romance with minimal angst. This is your classic enemies-to-lovers with a spicy twist. The pace of the book is not too fast and not too slow. It is slow enough that Higginson gave us characters, dialogues, and storyline that are well developed.


Talented chef Vera Delane used to dream of running her own restaurant and covet every chef's dream — the Michelin Stars. All of her dreams came crashing down when she decided to tour Europe to escape her toxic relationship and partner because of whom she could never get close to her dreams. Now she is living with the next best thing — owning her own food truck and featuring dishes with tastes that are inspired and reflect the European countries.
Vera parks Foodie the food truck in her brother's shop's parking lot and directly across from the world renowned chef's restaurant, Killian Quinn.


Killian Quinn is everything that Vera dreamed about it. His own restaurant, the Michelin Stars and a name in the food industry. Killian is like any other person in this industry, temperamental, perfectionist and doesn't like any competition, especially from a food truck.



descriptionAt some point, we’ll fight. In the future, things might get difficult. I’m never going to be an easy person to get along with. But, Vera, on the other hand, we can fight for each other. Life will likely get difficult whether we’re together or not, so why not tackle it together? And I might be an asshole, but I’m an asshole that cares a very great deal for you. In fact, I might even love you.”
“You what?”
“I love you, Vera. I do. I love you.”



Like I mentioned before, this is a slow burn; with extra emphasis on slow. Higginson takes her time in developing the story, all the while keeping it interesting enough that you want to flip the pages and want to know what is going to happen next.

If you plan to read this, take your time. It might or might not take your average time to finish this book, the latter in my case, but the culmination of Killian and Vera is totally worth the slow build tension. And of course, it is a romance novel so you definitely get enough sexy times.

So, if you are looking for something different within the Romance Genre, give this book a try. You are definitely going to enjoy it!



BOOK REVIEW ― Xander: The Beginning by Anne Mercier





We met at the age of eight. That day on the playground was a turning point in my life. She stole my heart with just a glance as she sang off key.

But nothing’s perfect.

I figured out pretty quickly she was too good for me, so I let her go.
I thought I was doing the right thing--until I realized I wasn’t.
She was my everything and without her I was nothing.

When we reunited, my heart became whole. My life had meaning. We loved fiercely and completely. Life was perfect.

The more success I gain with Falling Down, the further away I’m pulled from Tera. But she gains success of her own, and the distance grows immeasurably..

She wants me to live my dreams and I want the same for her. We both know our love is strong enough to survive time and distance.

Then the unthinkable happens and nothing will ever be the same again.
 



Rating & Review

   


description Please tell me this isn't a joke. Tell me it's real and you're not going to disappear from my life again."
"You're the one who pushed me out the door, Xan."
"I thought it was best for you, but what the f__k do I know?"
"You don't know sh*t if you think that was what was best for me. God. Don't you know you're what's best for me, Xander Mackenzie?



With each book that is released the Rockstar Series become a bit darker when compared to the initial books and relationships a bit more tangled and complicated than you could ever imagine.

It is said that the brightest of smiles hide the biggest of fears and in Xander's case this was absolutely true. Xander: Book 1 is set in the past when Falling Down were just kids and then moving on towards how they met two kids who so quickly became an extended part of the family and one of them ended up being Xander's forever girl.


descriptionThe way she looks at me makes my heart beat so fast. Just that look fills me with so much warmth and love— love? Yeah, it's love. I've loved her from the minute I met her and I'm going to love her forever.



The first half of the book, Xander has you swooning like anything with his one-liners. I mean, damn! this guy is smooth as hell (which I already knew) but when it came to all things Tera — best friend, wife, soulmate — this guy didn't stop at anything to make her feel special and wanted.

The second half of the book... This is where I stop because that was one of the things I did not see coming for miles. This one incident not only changed Tera's but Xander's life too, in ways they never imagined. There were decisions that Tera took leading after the incident that I can somewhat understand. I can understand that the final decision she took was out of love. Can I completely understand where a person, or a character, were coming from in one of the most horrific situations of their life? Their thought process? No, and I am not going to pretend I do. I don't understand what goes in the mind of the victim. I can't empathize with the situation but I can most definitely sympathize and that is exactly what Tera evoked. The hurt, the pain, the utter helplessness and yes, humiliation.


descriptionI'd give up everything for you and never regret it for a minute.



There were a lot of questions that I had prior to the release of this book, say from Book 1 and I am so glad that Anne was able to, unknowingly, clarify a lot of those questions.

If you've been a longtime fan of this series, then I definitely recommend you give Xander a try. It is going to be unexpected, because duh! Xander but I can't even begin to tell how everything about Xander's behavior, from Book 1 till now, makes sense and you get a better understanding the why's and hows.

PS. Me sad when Xander sad. Me wants my happy-go-lucky Xander back. ❤️






BOOK REVIEW ― Anchor Me by J. Kenner





Though shadows still haunt us, and ghosts from our past continue to threaten our happiness, my life with Damien is nothing short of perfection. He is my heart and my soul. My past and my future. He is the man who holds me together, and his love fuels my days and enchants my nights.

But when tragedy and challenge from both inside and outside the sanctity of our marriage begins to chip away at our happiness, I am forced to realize that even a perfect life can begin to crack. And if Damien and I are going to win this new battle, it will take all of our strength and love ...
 


Rating & Review

   

description I'm right beside you, I promise you, sweetheart. I'm not going anywhere.


Four years.
Four books.
Seven novellas.
One couple.
And I am nowhere near done with Damien and Nikki. Every time Kenner announces that she is releasing another Nikki and Damien novella, it is just waiting to be devoured. I get greedy with each book that comes out and then getting to know that one of my favorite couples is getting another book, I was so excited!

If you've read the novellas prior to the release of Anchor Me, you know what all has happened in their life. Anchor Me picks up where the last novella, Entice Me, ended. This book starts with Damien and Nikki in the place of Nikki's nightmares, Dallas, for a proposal to develop a software for a Dallas-based company that Nikki wants. The trip that was exciting in so many ways, and not necessarily in the best way at the beginning, turned out to be one of the best and most memorable trips they've ever had.

Nikki being pregnant and Damien being the overprotective father is something I had been waiting and wanting to read about for SO long it is not even funny anymore. GAH! It was absolutely amazing to read about it.
Damien's reaction to Nikki's pregnancy was absolutely the sweetest. Nikki had a few insecurities which stemmed from her own relationship, or lack thereof, with her mother. But when she snapped out of that funk she and Damien treasured this absolute wonderful experience, albeit briefly.


description You made a promise once, Damien. No more secrets.


keeping in mind the previous books in the Stark Trilogy, novels and novellas combined, I was expecting a lot of drama but there wasn't much of that and I am truly appreciative of that. Of course being that they are Damien and Nikki, they had their fair share of problems like Nikki's mother and her ex-co-worker Tanner and the surprise pregnancy, but for a moment it didn't feel over the top. I didn't for a moment feel that Kenner was drowning the story in unnecessary drama. Unlike the previous books, Anchor Me, even with what the drama and secrets, was comparatively a light and easy going read.


description Because even if the world is crashing down around us and it feels like there is nothing you can control, you can still control me.



Oh! How can we forget Damien and Nikki's intense and burning chemistry? This time they both lean on each other and look for comfort in each other and you can easily imagine how intense their lovemaking would have been.

Overall, god yes! I definitely enjoyed the story and appreciated the levity in the book when compared to the rest. The only problem I have is with the way the book ended. No! it was not a cliffhanger but the ending definitely felt a little rushed. One more chapter is what might have just been needed to end the story. If you are a fan of all things Damien and Nikki then I recommend that you pick this up.

PS: If you haven't read the series and want to give them a try, I highly advise that you start from the beginning and read all the novellas after Book 3 so that it is easy for you to connect all the dots in Book 4.





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