Perfect Days by Raphael Montes

imageTeo Avelar is a loner. He lives with his paraplegic mother and her dog in Rio de Janeiro, he doesn’t have many friends, and the only time he feels honest human emotion is in the presence of his medical school cadaver—that is, until he meets Clarice. She’s almost his exact opposite: exotic, spontaneous, unafraid to speak her mind. An aspiring screenwriter, she’s working on a screenplay called Perfect Days about three friends who go on a road trip across Brazil in search of romance. Teo is obsessed. He begins to stalk her, first following her to her university, then to her home, and when she ultimately rejects him, he kidnaps her and they embark upon their very own twisted odyssey across Brazil, tracing the same route outlined in her screenplay. Through it all, Teo is certain that time is all he needs to prove to Clarice that they are made for each other, that time is all he needs to make her fall in love with him. But as the journey progresses, he digs himself deeper and deeper into a pit that he can’t get out of, stopping at nothing to ensure that no one gets in the way of their life together. Both tense and lurid, and brimming with suspense from the very first page, Perfect Days is a psychological thriller in the vein of Patricia Highsmith’s The Talented Mr. Ripley—a chilling journey in the passenger seat with a psychopath, and the English language debut of one of Brazil’s most deliciously dark young writers.

I won’t get into the story as the synopsis  pretty much covers it.  Teo makes Misery look like a sane and normal human being!  Teo does really unspeakable things to Clarice and he justifies it by saying that she is unstable and he is trying to help her.  He also believes in what he is doing is absolutely fine and justifies what he does as for her benefit and if she would just listen to him he is sure that she would fall in love with him.

This is disturbing, Teo is obviously unstable and just pure evil. He shows no emotion, he manipulates those around him and when he does something vile he feels that he is doing it for the benefit of others and sees himself at the centre of his own little world and nothing and no one will stop him from having Clarice, not even Clarice herself.

This book gave me chills at just how methodical, cool, calm and collected Teo was in hi actions. The lies he told an how well he weaved his web while others fell into it willingly.  I have read some reviews where some readers found this book to be “hilarious and funny!”  I don’t know what book they were reading but it wasn’t this one!  There is nothing funny about this story. It’s dark, twisted and disturbing in many ways….some dark humour but that’s as far as I am willing to go…

4.5 stars

Crash

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Faithful by Alice Hoffman

imageFrom the New York Times bestselling author of The Marriage of Opposites and The Dovekeepers comes a soul-searching story about a young woman struggling to redefine herself and the power of love, family, and fate.

Growing up on Long Island, Shelby Richmond is an ordinary girl until one night an extraordinary tragedy changes her fate. Her best friend’s future is destroyed in an accident, while Shelby walks away with the burden of guilt.

At the start of the book Shelby is a shell of a girl.  She doesn’t talk, she doesn’t eat, she self harms, shaves her head and just wants to hide from the world.  She can’t seem to live because of what happened to her best friend Helene.While Helene becomes a thing of worship, a living ghost that draws people towards her, Shelby is shunned and talked about. She was uninjured physically, mentally she is destroyed.  Guilt is sinking her into a black hole that she can’t or won’t get out of.

Shelby lashes out and hurts those around her because she feels that she is a nothing and doesn’t deserve anything.  She hooks up with Ben.  Ben likes Shelby and eventually they get together.  As he falls in love with her she hurts him at every turn feeling unworthy of love and things don’t go well for them.

Since the accident she has been receiving postcards in the mail with things like ‘ See something’, Save something’ written on them.  they come at odd intervals and they are the only thing that seems to keep her going.  As the story progresses life changes for Shelby but can she forgiver herself for what happened to Helene?  She rescues a rag tag group of dogs and is roped into a single mothers family of twin boys and a daughter who is hell bent on making her mothers life hell.  Shelby bucks what is going on around her but how long will it be before she gives in and learns to be loved?

At the start of this Shelby is a bitch, a heartless individual you don’t  feel much for but a mixture of pity and spite.  As time goes on she blossoms like a flower after a long hard winter, and what a joy it is to watch unfold!

I have never read anything by Ms. Hoffman and I feel that I found a real gem of a book!  The way she writes the characters and how they slowly unfold and grow and sink into your skin. It was a fast read for me, once I started I just wanted to keep going.   A coming of age book with characters who are broken, beaten down by life but never give up. A must read!

ARC received by Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.

4.5 stars

Crash

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The City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin

imageThe Twelve have been destroyed and the hundred-year reign of darkness that descended upon the world has ended. The survivors are stepping outside their walls, determined to build society anew and daring to dream of a hopeful future.

But far from them, in a dead metropolis, he waits: Zero. The First. Father of the Twelve. The anguish that shattered his human life haunts him, and the hatred spawned by his transformation burns bright. His fury will be quenched only when he destroys Amy – humanity’s only hope, the Girl from Nowhere who grew up to rise against him.

One last time light and dark will clash, and at last Amy and her friends will know their fate.

 

It’s 20 odd years since the showdown with the Twelve and the viral are gone. The main cast of characters are older, wiser and off doing their own things. Civilisation is slowing building and forming and a new generation of children are growing up without the threat of virals for the first time in over a century. Things seem to be moving on, but will it continue?

Amy and Carter are gone, only Lucius knows where they are. He knows what is out there and that Amy and Cater are biding their time. While eleven of the Twelve are gone, there is one still out there, Zero.

This book is about Zero, this is mostly his story as much as any of the others. As things start to go badly wrong for our heroes there is hope, and love.

This thrilling conclusion of the series is full of action, sacrifice and above all hope and love. I have to admit that there is a 150 page plus section of this book that went on a bit long and dragged making me put down the book more than once because I thought it took away from the rest of the story. That section felt like a mini novella in it’s self and you had to go back to remember what had gone on before this section. In saying that you can skim over this section and still get the main gist of what is going on.

While I was daunted by having to reread the first two books to make sure I had remembered what had happened previously, I thought I would be in overload when it came time to read this one. I have to admit I was a bit sad to see it all end. The ending had me getting a bit weepy. A fantastic ending to an amazing series!

I give this 4.5 stars, only because of that section that dragged out a bit to long in my opinion

ARC provided by Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review

Crash

 

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the Rebel by Adrienne Giordano

25110788

A brilliant civil lawyer, David Hennings has always been the outsider at odds with his wealthy family, shunning relationships, defying convention as a sexy leather-jacketed biker. Which is why sculptor Amanda LeBlanc agrees to his request to reconstruct a skull from a cold case murder. The instant heat between them is scorching.

 But once Amanda takes the job and gets too close to the rebellious attorney, her carefully balanced life is upended by a series of methodical attacks. Someone doesn’t want her to finish the job. Now David will risk everything not to lose the woman he unknowingly put in jeopardy.

Amanda is a sculptor and artist who takes on projects for wealthy clients. She eventually wants to earn enough to open her own gallery. When she is asked to reconstruct a skull for a murder investigation her life is systematically torn apart from every angle imaginable. She tries to keep her life under tight control after seeing how forensic work affected her mother; she doesn’t want to get involved in that kind of emotional work.

David tries to help Amanda with the attacks on her life and livelihood. As she struggles with her past and her tightly wrapped emotions and control issues he is there to help her but the more he wants to help the more she pulls away. While she struggles with her feelings for David and with her past, is she willing to let go and to try to be happy?

This story touches a bit on bi-polar disorder and some mental health issues making this story different from others that Adrienne has written. While there is sexual tension, it’s a slow build and tentative with how Amanda is dealing with her own issues. I love her action romance series and love that you get to see more of the Henning family. This one kept me reading to find out what and who was behind the attack on Amanda. The books are stand alone and can be read in any order.

Adrienne writes amazing stories that have well written characters who get you involved in their plight and has you hooked from the start. I always look forward to a new book by her and I am never disappointed by any of them.

ARC provided by author in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Crash

4.5 out of 5 stars

 

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Level Hands by Amy Jo Cousins

25611509 Rafael Castro is so far out of his element he can’t even see it anymore. Carlisle College in Massachusetts is a long way from his Chicago home, even farther from his Dominican Republic roots.

The only thing keeping him attached to his last nerve is the prospect of seeing Denny Winslow again. The first time they met, Denny taught Rafi to fly across the water, rowing hard in a knife-like boat. Now, two years later, on the wings of a rowing scholarship, Rafi is attending Denny’s elite college.

Even before the excitement wears off, Rafi is struggling with classes and fending off rumors that Denny’s family, not Rafi’s talent, won him his spot. To quash the gossip, Rafi tries to steer clear of the man he wants. A plan that evaporates in the fire of renewed attraction.

But Carlisle’s academic pressure cooker has Rafi barely treading water. And when a family crisis hits, both Rafi and Denny must pull hard to keep their relationship from capsizing in rough waters.

I love Amy Jo Cousins’ books, just in general and this series – Bend or Break – in particular just kills it specifically. Every book of this series has included characters that have been really real, which sounds so generic to put it like that! But the characters in this series are all struggling with real life issues. It’s pretty common in the New Adult genre to either have characters dealing with issues on either end of the spectrum – real life or total angst filled unrealistic drama (not that real life is not angst filled!). So I love that Amy Jo Cousins’ characters usually are realistic as well as grounded.

Denny and Rafi, who we met in the last book, are no different. Denny, on the one hand, is a reserved kid who is used to having his parents pay for things. He’s been in love with Rafi for a few years since he met him when he ran away from home because he was afraid what his parents would say about him being gay. Denny’s been quietly waiting for Rafi for years. Rafi, on the other hand, struggles with so much when he accepts a rowing scholarship and comes to college with Denny. He’s used to having no money and dealing with issues of social class and racism but he’s not used to trying to deal with that within a potential relationship. Both of these characters seemed so genuine to me because Rafi was so freaking stubborn that at some points I wanted to smack him and say what is wrong with you!? But that is pretty accurate for a normal person I think. Denny’s patience was almost too much and I was happy to see it break so I could see he wasn’t a Saint.

I felt that the author did a wonderful job describing the overwhelming parts of coming to college. Parts of this book dealt with just not being a genius and being able to ace classes right away. It’s been a while since I was in class but she took me right back there instantly. Rafi’s struggle throughout the book with a variety of issues and his evolution just made me want to give him a hug.

This was also the first book I’ve read that had crew as the sport in it and I loved it! Oh and the cover is ridiculously hot – love the arms. I would highly recommend this series (as always) and this entry is a great one.

ARC provided in return for an honest review.

4.5 Stars

~Melinda

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Serving Pleasure by Alisha Rai

25626041 Hungry for a touch…

Rana Malik is over being her family’s resident black sheep. She’s on a mission: ditch the casual hook-ups, revamp her bad-girl image, and fall in love with a proper Mr. Right even her conservative mama can’t find fault with. Not on the menu? The beautiful, brooding Mr. Right Now who lives next door, and all the ways he whets her appetite.

Starving for love…

Artist Micah Hale had it all–women, success, friends and family–until his world changed in a single act of senseless violence. Now struggling to conceal his scars and get his life and career back on track, he knows he has nothing to offer a woman except his body. He’s not looking for love…but he can’t control his craving for the sexy bombshell voyeur he’s caught looking at him.

Just one bite.

Their attraction boils over, and their defenses are stripped off along with their clothes. They promise they’ll walk away if it gets too hot. But it’s hard to do the right thing…when being wrong feels so good.

I think we need more diversity in romance but not just diversity to have diversity, good romances with diverse characters with great stories. I requested this ARC because it was written by Alisha Rai, I didn’t read the synopsis or really do anything before I started reading so I was pleasantly surprised when I did. The first and foremost thing about this book that I liked is just the overall package. I loved that there was diversity in the characters and it didn’t feel like it was something that was added just to have diversity in the book.

This book has so much to offer, not the least of which is really hot sex scenes between the MC’s. The chemistry between Rana and Micah really seemed to leap off the page from almost their first interaction. I enjoyed that sizzling chemistry that was so hard for both of them to resist. But what I loved more than anything else about this book is Rana. I love a strong female character and Rana is one of the strongest sex positive women I can remember. She enjoys sex almost unapologetically. The small part of her that is apologetic about sex is just the cultural and familial parts tugging at her, which is not hard to understand, even in 2015.

Rana is so independently minded and tends toward laughter and light while Micah is intense and serious for good reason. The mix of these together is pretty combustible. I really loved how this book dealt with both Rana and Micah’s issues and how they dealt with each other.

ARC received in return for an honest review.

4.5 Stars.

~Melinda

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Review – Once Upon a Rose by Laura Florand

17832871 Laura Florand is easily one of my favorite authors anymore. Her Amour et Chocolat is wonderful and all of the books and even novellas were 4 or 5 stars. She has a way of writing familial relationships that is really touching and realistic. Those relationships have included a variety of actual families – cousins and parental connections – as well as brotherly love between the chefs in that series. So I was incredibly excited to hear that she was starting a new series.

This series will concentrate on the Rosier family, set in the south of France. Where the descriptions of the chocolate in the previous series would make my mouth water and my stomach growl, the descriptions of the fields of roses and the amazing aroma made me long to be there to take it all in. Florand deftly switched from one to another of the senses. Her descriptions remind me of Deborah Harkness’s All Souls Trilogy even though the subjects couldn’t be further from each other! They both create vivid pictures of wine, perfume and their settings.

Matt Rosier is one of my favorite type of Florand heroes- adorably growly but sensitive. Matt has inherited the land that came down through his family. While he loves the land and is proud of being responsible for all of it, he also envies his many cousins and their freedom to live their life without such family pressure. Layla DuBois is a famous singer-songwriter who has lost her song writing mojo. She’s just discovered that she’s inherited a house in the Rosier valley – a house that Matt was under the impression was going to be his.

Matt’s first impression he makes on Layla has much to be desired. He is startled by the news and is not happy to meet her, although he feels a strong pull towards her immediately. His cousins are all greatly amused.

“What do you want now?” Matt growled at her, tightening his arms around himself.
“I only need directions!” Layla snapped back at him. “I can’t believe how unhelpful you people are being!”
Matt blinked. He slid the oddest glance toward the other men, almost—vulnerable? “They couldn’t give you directions?”
Tristan shook his head woefully. “Even Damien,” he said sadly, “proved unequal to the task.”
Matt stared at them for a moment. And then his sunburn seemed to get worse than ever, and he rubbed his chest, as if it felt strange to him.

His gruff voice elaborated as he wrote: “A three-story house with blue shutters will be on your left. It has lace curtains. If not, if it’s a house with blue shutters and roses climbing up the walls but no curtains, you’ve taken the wrong exit. There’s a little bar two buildings farther down, with a faded red awning. Be careful, there’s a pale orange tabby cat that likes to lie right in the middle of the road there, and he will not move. You have to stop the car and pick him up and carry him to the garden of the little house with the jasmine climbing up the green gate. That’s where he belongs. Then you—”

This is just one of many interactions that I love. The cousins interaction cracked me up throughout the book. They were attempting to help Matt multiple times in wooing the girl, with mixed results. Those interactions were very realistic to me – funny but with family love in them.

Laura Florand’s prose is simply beautiful. She weaves a spell with her words that transports me wherever she wants me to go. If you haven’t read any of her books you really, really need to start and this is a great one to begin with!

ARC provided by the author in exchange for an impartial review.

4.5 Stars

~Melinda

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