Review: F*ck Love, by Tarryn Fisher

F*ck LoveF*ck Love by Tarryn Fisher
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is one of the most difficult books to rate that I’ve run across. There were things about this story that I absolutely loved. I can’t deny that I was inexplicably drawn to this story. Yet, there were also things that just didn’t work for me. I definitely have a love/hate relationship with this one.

I love Tarryn Fisher’s writing. ‘The Opportunist’ is a favorite of mine and this book held much of the same appeal in so many ways. I’m not a person that shies away from love triangles or cheating either. In fact, I love the push and pull of an angsty love story. Forbidden is my thing.

As far as angst goes, this book had tons! If you like your stories to bring some emotional pain, look no further. I felt like I vacillated between varying levels of heartache and joy the entire time I was listening to this story. Ms. Fisher definitely toyed with my emotions and made me feel things I wasn’t sure I was ready for.

This is a story about a young woman, Helena, that falls in love with her best friend’s boyfriend, Kit. The relationship begins as a casual friendship, becoming progressively flirtatious over time. Eventually, lines blur and the dynamics of their relationships are forever altered.

Helena was the type of heroine that you could relate to because she was such a flawed human. She had so many insecurities and always seemed to get the short end of the stick. Even though I didn’t agree with many of her choices, even thinking that some were kind of creepy and pathetic –I mean who moves cross country to live in you best friend’s boyfriend’s home town because you can’t have him? — I wanted her to “win” for once. She was kind of like the underdog that you can’t help but root for.

Kit and Helena’s best friend, Della, were much harder for me to warm up to. Della was just a selfish, wicked cow! There was nothing about her that I found to be appealing or endearing. I hated her!

Kit, on the other hand, stirred up a range of emotions in me. At times I loved him. Other times, I thought that he was cowardly and undeserving of Helena. He never seemed to care for her as much as she cared for him.

My biggest complaint is that Kit royally screwed Helena over…more than once…and he got off easy. If you’ve been a friend of mine for long, you know that I demand some damn groveling when the hero screws up. That never happened here, which left a very bad taste in my mouth.

With all that being said, I still could not put this book down. I loved this story, in spite of all my objections. Ms. Fisher has a way of sucking me in to her emotional stories, even when my brain is telling me that I should be offended. The heart wants what it wants. Despite all reason, I loved this story!

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Review: The Bourbon Thief, by Tiffany Reisz

The Bourbon ThiefThe Bourbon Thief by Tiffany Reisz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Another fantastic story by Ms. Reisz! I love her ‘Original Sinners’ series and I was curious to see how she would do with such a different type of story. While many authors struggle with making this type of a transition, choosing to stick to the same genres and writing similar stories, Ms. Reisz transitioned flawlessly.

‘The Bourbon Thief’ is storytelling at it’s best. I was completely enraptured with this story from start to finish. The narrator for the Audible edition was fabulous, adding a richness to the characters and story. I put my headphones on and got lost in this book for the day. Everything else ceased to exist. It was that good.

The story spans several different eras. The story begins in the present day with the femme fatale, Paris, getting caught stealing from the wealthy Cooper following a one night stand. It quickly jumps back decades, as Paris tells the story of the young Tamara Maddox, the sixteen year-old heiress to the Red Thread Bourbon empire. Glimpses are offered of the distant past as well, going back to the beginnings of Red Thread Bourbon during a time when slavery was widespread in the South.

Sometimes spoiled and bratty, always stubborn, Tamara proved to be a spirited heroine. Despite my initial reservations where she was concerned, I grew to love Tamara in no time. She was an incredibly strong and loyal character. I admired her tenacity and her commitment to do the right thing, even when that resulted in significant personal hardship.

Tamara’s life was perfect by all outward appearances. She seemed to have the world at her feet and was an object of envy. However, behind closed doors her family life was anything but perfect.

Levi took longer for me to warm up to. He was gruff and, understandably, more guarded than most leading male characters. As a result, it took longer toget to know him. I also felt like he was unnecessarily cold to Tamara at times. Of course, I usually side with the heroine in my stories.

I don’t want to give too much away, because I think this story needs to be experienced. It is one of those stories that makes you thankful for what you have and drills home the message that the grass isn’t always greener. Sometimes a palace is just a bigger prison. You never know the truth of a person’s life, unless you’ve lived that life.

I enjoyed every minute of this story. I highly recommend it to anyone that enjoys great storytelling. The ending alludes to a sequel, which I’ll grab up immediately. However, this book reads easily as a standalone and it doesn’t leave you hanging.

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WOMEN TODAY: LIVING IN A STATE OF PERPETUAL PARANOIA

A beautiful, thought-provoking post by a friend.

Adita's Cozy World

“The influence of women has grown by leaps and bounds today. They are housewives, doctors, engineers, lawyers, astronauts, artists and practitioners of every conceivable profession on the earth.”

“Most urban women have achieved parity with men in taking up arduous professions for a career.”

Despite these tall claims, women fall into the only two categories that define the essence of their very existence- relatively safe and relatively unsafe; safe or unsafe from the molesters and rapists and other perverts on the loose. The underlying fact is that women, no matter which strata of the society they occupy, can never feel comfortable in their own skin under people’s discomfiting looks, like men do.

THE ROLE OF THE MEDIA

Sure enough, there has been a perceptible change in the way women are viewed by the patriarchal society in the past century or so. Their causes are championed by many organisations worldwide, but…

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Review – Ghost, by A. Zavarelli

GHOST (Boston Underworld, #3)GHOST by A. Zavarelli
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Ever since reading ‘Crow’, I’ve been curious about Alexei, the mysterious and reclusive Russian friend of Lachlan. It was evident that there was far more beneath the surface and I was dying to hear his story. Finally, we get his story in ‘Ghost’ and it does not disappoint. I devoured this book!

Talia is a far cry from the young woman she was when she went missing. Betrayed by her “boyfriend” Dmitri and sold into sexual slavery, she’s suffered unimaginable horrors. Her only goal is to find a way to end her own life, freeing her from the hell of her daily existence.

When Alexei is asked to find Mack’s best friend, Talia, he does far more than he’s asked to. Seeing her picture, he becomes enamored with the missing lady. He decides, before ever meeting her, that this is the woman he will marry. He’s agreed to find her, but he has no intention of ever letting her go. He plans to rescue her from one prison and thrust her straight into another.

Alexei arranges to take Talia from her owner, Arman, as collateral for a deal that Arman failed to deliver on. Neither man has any intention of letting her go, but Alexei finally has her in his possession. With the help of his loyal house staff, Alexei begins to nurse Talia back to health while setting plans in place to make his “ownership” of her permanent.

For the first time in her life, Talia is important to someone. She finds a mother-figure in Magda, the woman who raised Alexei and now oversees his household. She is cared for and treated well. Yet, she still longs for the type of love that Alexei says he will never give.

Coerced into a marriage of convenience, Talia realizes that she is, yet again, enslaved to a man. Alexei might be nicer than the men before him, but like the others, he’s using her. She knows that he will never love her.

Marrying her was Alexei’s way of preventing his own arranged marriage to Katya, the daughter of another high-ranking member of the Russian Mafia. Despite her persistence, Alexei has no intention of ever being married to the woman that betrayed him with his own brother. However, Katya is not planning to let him go without a fight.

From start to finish, I did not want to put this book down. I have loved every book in this series, but I think this one has been my favorite. Alexei and Talia were so broken and yet, so perfect together. I love dark, twisted stories and their story just called to me.

Make no mistake, this story is a dark one. This story addresses the topics of rape, physical and psychological abuse, etc. If you’re put-off by stories that contain darker themes like these, then ‘Ghost’ will not be for you.

On the other hand, if you love darker reads like I do, ‘Ghost’ is a phenomenal choice! I loved every minute of this disturbing story! It’s a new favorite of mine.

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Review – Siren, by Jaimie Roberts

SirenSiren by Jaimie Roberts
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Sheesh! What a ride! That was some seriously disturbing stuff. And that ending…

I love my stories dark and twisted. When I finish a book and think that I might need to speak with a psychologist about why I enjoyed such a depraved story, I know the author had hit the mark for me. ‘Siren’ is that kind of book. It was sick and so damn wrong, but I couldn’t pull myself away.

The story centers on Scarlet, a femme fatale that is out for vengeance. A victim of abuse from a young age, she’s determined to turn the tables. No longer a young girl, she’s embraced her sex appeal and is harnessing the power it gives her.

Now, I should say that this story is not for everyone. There is every type of abuse imaginable in this book, both as a child and as an adult. To say that Scarlet has “daddy issues” would be the understatement of the century. This is one screwed up lady!

In many ways, Scarlet was a deplorable character. There were many times when I was certain that she was irredeemable. She isn’t an easy character to like. She doesn’t even like herself.

Every time that I was ready to give up on her, a bit more of her past would be revealed and I would feel a little more sympathy for the girl that became the woman. As more of her story came to light, I grew to understand her motivations better. Eventually, I was full-on rooting for her cause. It’s probably a sign that I need to get my head checked, but I wanted her to get her revenge on those that had wronged her. I wanted them to pay.

As things started to fall into place, other things fell apart. Nothing ever goes as planned. I was on the edge of my seat throughout this entire book. It sucked me in. I have never loved such a despicable character as much as I loved Scarlet. She is wicked to the core, but she was made, and not born, that way.

If you are looking for a dark, disturbing story, then it doesn’t get much more twisted than this one. It blew my mind! It was sordid and highly original. All I can say is heed the warnings. This content is not for everyone.

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Review – El Diablo, by M. Robinson

El Diablo (The Devil, #1)El Diablo by M. Robinson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Spanning decades, ‘El Diablo’ tells the story of Alejandro Martinez, a notorious cartel leader. Following him from his childhood, this book provides a front-row seat to the tragedy that was his life. He was born into the life and groomed from a young age to take over his father’s role as leader of the cartel. In so many ways, he never stood a chance at a normal life.

Surviving the loss of numerous loved ones, especially the women closest to him, he grows into a callous man. He shows no emotion or concern for others, afraid that his feelings are weaknesses that his enemies will exploit. He has earned his reputation as a ruthless crime lord, aptly called “El Diablo” on the streets.

Lexi grows up without the love of parents. She’s never known her real father and her other is emotionally absent on her best day. From a young age, she got used to taking care of herself. Being alone was the norm for her.

When Lexi’s circumstances go from bad to worse, she throws herself into her dance. Ballet was her only escape. Her only dream was to become a ballerina.

Together, Alejandro and Lexi have incredible chemistry. The sexual tension and anticipation was incredible between these two. They played a back and forth game, literally for years. Every time I thought they were getting somewhere, Alejandro would do something to push Lexi away again. He definitely gave me some serious whiplash with his push and pull routine.

In fact, I had a really hard time with Alejandro’s cruel and contradictory behaviors. He was a world-class a$$hole for the vast majority of the book. The few times when he wasn’t, were quickly followed-up by more reprehensible behavior on his part. I love an antihero, but Alejandro took the cake.

That being said, I have a weakness for jerks (fictional characters only). If you don’t, then you’ll probably hate this book. Be forewarned–Alejandro is an a$$hat of epic proportions. He flaunts other women I front of Lexi, demeans her and says awful things. He was outright cruel often times.

At the same time, I couldn’t hate him. He spent years protecting Lexi and providing for her financially. Despite his emotionally closed-off demeanor, it was apparent that he cared for her in his own screwed up way. I definitely had a love/hate relationship with Alejandro.

Even though this book did seem to go on for long periods of time without any remarkable events, I couldn’t pull myself away from it. Talk about a slow-burn. It took years for these two to make it to third base! It might have even been a full decade before they had sex! Yet, I was completely absorbed in this story.

There is a huge twist at the end, which will blow your mind. The big reveal was something that had crossed my mind early-on, but that I had dismissed as I got further into the story. Even though I had guessed part of the secret, I was still thrown for a loop and left shell-shocked when everything was finally aired. I was crushed.

This book gutted me. I wanted to yell, cry and smash things! From beginning to end, I felt like I was on an emotional rollercoaster. I was afraid to find out what would jump out around the next bend, but to curious to look away. I loved it!

Why then did I give it only 4 stars and not 5? I struggled with this one, but ultimately I decided to go with 4 stars because I thought that Lexi let Alejandro off easy. I expect my heroes to have to grovel and really work for forgiveness when they screw up…and Alejandro screwed up BIG on more than one occasion. Maybe it’s my sadistic tendencies, but my inner bitch demanded blood! I wanted him to pay for what he put Lexi through. An apology and an explanation in a few pages didn’t cover it after what he did. I wanted him to suffer some more.

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Review – All the Ugly and Wonderful Things, by Bryn Greenwood

All the Ugly and Wonderful ThingsAll the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow! This was a spectacular book. I devoured this story. Beginning to end, I was completely lost in this disturbing, yet beautiful, love story.

While I loved the story, I know that this is a story that many people will not enjoy. There are several difficult and highly controversial topics in this book. I’m pretty open-minded, but even I had a hard time with the relationship turning physical between Wavy (13-14 years old) and Kellen (25 or so years old). As a fictitious story, I was able to come to terms with it eventually. However, in no way would I ever condone that relationship in real life.

That being said, the emotions that this book elicited are the reason that I loved it. I was heartbroken, appalled and shocked by Wavy’s daily life. As much as I found aspects of their relationship to be unsettling, I could not deny that the love between the two was sincere.

Kellen was the only person in Wavy’s life that treated her with the slightest bit of compassion and concern. She was the same for him in many ways. These were two lost souls that clung to each other with everything they had.

The fact that Kellen was a father-figure, in many ways, to Wavy for so long made accepting their romantic relationship all that much harder for me. It just was unfathomable to me that Kellen would go there. Who does that?

Nonetheless, this book blew me away. I love a book that can make me feel the way this one did. I’m still feeling conflicted and uneasy with the content. That being said, I’m still thinking about it, and trying to figure out exactly how I feel, days later. That says a lot.

This book will definitely make an impression, be it good or bad. I loved it, but I also hated it at times. If you’re looking for an emotional read that will tie you in knots, this is a great choice. It is a tragically beautiful story and completely captivating. This is a phenomenal piece of work and I will definitely be reading future books by this author.

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Review – A Harmless Little Ruse, by Meli Raine

A Harmless Little Ruse (Harmless, #2)A Harmless Little Ruse by Meli Raine
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The second book in the series, ‘A Harmless Little Ruse’ is told from Drew’s POV. I have to say, it worked for me. After the first book, I had a lot of lingering doubts about his sincerity. Seeing things from his perspective really put my fears to rest.

As Lindsay’s father makes his intention to run for President official, Lindsay’s attackers up their game. The text messages are more frequent and increasingly threatening. One of her attackers is even so brazen as to show up at an event of her father’s. Whoever is pulling the strings continues to be above the law and remains an unknown.

While any questions I had about Drew’s loyalty to Lindsay were answered in this book, my hatred for her parents only increased. Lindsay’s parents have got to be some of the worst parents in history. Just when I think they may have a shred of human decency or compassion for their own daughter, their self-serving behaviors surface again. They have to be two of the most selfish, cold-hearted characters that I’ve ever crossed. Their treatment of their daughter is inexcusable. In my opinion, they deserve to suffer the same fate as the attackers. They’re just vile!

Although I didn’t feel like much progress was made toward catching Lindsay’s attackers in this book, there were a few big reveals and twists that made this a worthwhile read. Drew hasn’t been fully forthcoming about the night of the attack. He has a secret and it is a huge one. When it comes to light, I was forced to reevaluate all of the judgments I had made about Drew and his previous treatment of Lindsay. I have to say, I didn’t see it coming.

This book also has Drew and Lindsay coming together as a couple again. In spite of the fact that her parent’s ultimately fire Drew and prohibit Lindsay from seeing him, they are solid. It may take some sneaking around, but they are finally on the same page and working together to bring down the rapists.

There are several twists and turns this time around. I have laid some doubts to rest, only to have new ones surface. Aside from Lindsay and Drew, I’m not sure who can be trusted.

Overall, I thought that this book was an improvement over the first book. There were still some plot holes and details that just didn’t make sense to me. However, I didn’t find them to be incredibly distracting or overwhelming like they were in the first book.

Not surprisingly, this book ends with a huge cliffhanger. That ending — Argh! I’ll have to wait for the final book to see what happens. Luckily, it is expected out by mid-December. I will certainly be picking up a copy to see how things work out for Lindsay and Drew. Let it be known that if they don’t get some justice, I will not be happy.

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Review – Six of Hearts, by L. H. Cosway

Six of Hearts (Hearts, #1)Six of Hearts by L.H. Cosway
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I put off reading this book, despite the glowing reviews from friends, because magicians/magic just don’t really appeal to me. Honestly, the thought of it kind of creeps me out…like clowns or carnies. I don’t know why, it just does.

However, my curiosity eventually won out. I decided to listen to the Audible version and see what all the fuss was about. I’m glad that I did.

It seems that all of my creepy magician fears were for nothing. Jason “Jay” Fields was a hunk! Nothing about this guy screamed “creeper”. He was sexy, but not in an over-the-top alpha sort of way. As far as heroes go, he was fantastic!

Jay is shopping for an attorney when he runs across Matilda Brandon, aka Watson. She’s working in her father’s law office when Jay comes in, wanting to hire her father. Her father doesn’t take on Jay’s case, but does agree to rent him a room in their home. The rest is history.

Jay and Matilda become fast friends. In no time, they are gallivanting around town together like besties. Even though Matilda’s insecurities bugged me at times, I didn’t think it was too overdone. The sexual tension is thick between these two, as they try to dance around the topic. They’re flirty, but keep it innocent for most of the book.

Meanwhile, it becomes clear that there is more to Jay’s case than simply a reporter writing slanderous articles about Jay. The details aren’t made clear until the very end, but it is obvious that there is a grudge match going on between Jay and this aggressive lady.

This story was far more engaging and suspenseful than I had anticipated. From one scene to the next, I wondered what was happening and what the twist would be. I had a few ideas, but didn’t guess the extent of Jay’s “secret”. When everything finally came to light, a part of me was like “I knew it”, while another part was like “I didn’t see that coming”.

Overall, I thought this was a great story. It was sweet and heartwarming, with enough suspense to keep me guessing. If you’re sitting on the fence, like I was, I say give it a shot. It is worth it.

The only problem I encountered was that because I listened to this story at the same time as I was reading Pepper Winters’ ‘Dollars’, I kept mixing up Jay and Elder’s pasts. Both were street children and pick-pockets. Both had a mysterious, tragic past that was the downfall of their families and that they blamed themselves for, etc. It was a total fluke, but the similarities made it hard to keep these two straight. Who could’ve guessed it?

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