The angsty road to Madison.

Review of ‘The road to Madison’ by Elle Spencer.

This is a second chance story with angst. But, aren’t all second chance stories ‘angsty’?

Madison Prescott is the only heir to a multimillion dollar company and estate. Raised by her conservative father, her path in life has been predetermined by her last name. This is derailed by Madison’s relationship with the maid’s daughter, Ana Perez when they were both kids. Now in their 30s, 15 yrs after Madison proposed then abandoned Ana, her father died. Can Madison pursue the love of her life once again, or are the wounds she created too deep for Ana’s heart to overcome?Read More »

‘In the silences’ by Rachel Gold gets your mind working…

This was a really good YA book. As I’ve mentioned multiple times I can be up and down when it comes to YA books but Gold writes really well. This is the third book I have read by her and all of them have been quality reads. Gold writes about topics that other authors tend to shy away from. In this book Gold takes on race, gender, and sexuality. Each time I read one of her books I walk away feeling like I learned something new which I always appreciate.

This book covers about three years in two teenager’s lives. Kaz is struggling with their gender while Aisha has to deal with systematic racism after moving to a town this is mostly white. These two teenagers click and become best friends instantly. Kaz knows they are falling for Aisha hard, but can Aisha accept how Kaz sees their own gender? And with racism affecting Aisha’s schooling, will she be around long enough for Kaz to find out?

This is one of those books that definitely messed with my emotions. I went from crying one minute, to being so mad I was steaming the next. And while some of this book was hard to read because you know it’s a fiction book based on facts, there were still plenty of uplifting moments. This is one of those YA books that should really be in school libraries but is also a book adults should read. Even with me talking many sociology classes including gender studies when I was in college, terms and how we understand gender has really changed in the past few years. I feel like I’m coming away with a better understanding of how some genderqueer people feel about themselves. And while I know there is plenty of racism still alive in 2019, you just have to turn on the TV to know it, this book made me think about things I just never would have considered as a white person.

While there are some tough parts to read in this book, there is a sweet G-rated YA romance. I thought Kaz and Aisha were just perfectly adorable together. I loved how much they uplifted and fought for each other. Kaz was a little warrior and I just loved that about them. And while not everything was wrapped up in a neat little bow, I enjoyed how the ending of the book made me feel.

This is one of those books that I just think people should read. Like I mentioned before I think Gold writes books that are important. She knows how to leave an impact on you while getting your mind working. That is the sign of a good book and a good author in my opinion.

An ARC was given to me for an honest review.

Review of ‘The house’ by Eden Darry.

3.50 Stars. This is Darry’s full-length debut. I could still see some room for growth but I thought this was pretty well written for a debut. I guess you could put this in the category of either paranormal or light horror. However, this book wasn’t scary; it was creepy and a little dark. While you might be slightly uncomfortable while reading at times, it’s not really a tough read. It’s definitely not too scary to read.

This is the kind of book that is not easy to review because you don’t want to give anything away. The book started off with a bang, slowed down a little, but for the most part, kept up a good pace. It was very readable for me and I liked that it was not a long book so the story never really dragged. There is a paranormal element to this, but it’s almost more evil than what you think about a “normal” haunting with ghosts. And there is also a real-life evil person the characters have to deal with so it’s a lot on their plates.

The main characters in this book are in an established relationship already with two kids. There are some nicer, sweet moments but there is also a lot of relationship drama/arguing because of the circumstances. I do have to admit the arguing was getting a little old, but given the storyline, I get it so I can’t really complain.

The book had a few small twists and some excitement which was nice. I read it in one sitting so it absolutely entertained me. I was not in love with the storyline, but I’m still glad I gave this a try. If you are looking for something creepy this is a good choice. I wouldn’t hesitate to read Darry again.

An ARC was given to me for an honest review.

Review of ‘The Fall’ by Robin Alexander.

This was just fantastic. However, before I declare that, I have to admit a couple of things. I listened to this one since it was included in Audible’s Romance Package. Once upon a time, I started the audiobook but quit early on. I could not get through the first family dinner scene. I was so overwhelmed by, wait for it, the Italian family (too close to home folks) that I had to move on. Since then, I’ve read two other Alexander books and loved them. Also, I have listened to two books narrated by Lisa Cordileone and also loved them. So, here I was looking for my next audiobook when I bumped into ‘The Fall’ again. I will not lie. I struggled through that same dinner scene at the beginning. Then I realized I had listened to it before and I had a choice to make. Well, since now I’m older and wiser, I pushed through and I am so happy I did!

Noel Savino is a dentist only interested in casual relationships after failing at finding true love a few times. She meets town newcomer Sunny Chase, who has only done serious dating but is looking to change to casual in order to leave her dating rut. After agreeing to casual, Noel puts her foot down and wants to date Sunny for real. This after her niece, Harper, made her promise to stay away from Sunny. Meanwhile, Harper is a teenager struggling with finding her sexual identity after meeting Lydia, Sunny’s daughter. This book just becomes a family affair.

‘The Fall’ is really two stories in one. Yay! This is about Noel/Sunny and Harper/Lydia. They were both fantastic on their own but worked so well together. Noel and Sunny were great together and tackled adult issues. Harper and Lydia were sweet and were in charge of navigating the first love waters. Together they touched on family, parenting, dating guidelines and more. Ms. Alexander wrote so many hilarious scenes that I just volunteered to mown the lawn so I could continue to listen. I’m sure some neighbors are wondering why one needs to laugh out loud while doing such an ordinary chore. The thought behind a person being a dog or a cat in terms of dating…that was priceless. By the way, I am so a dog! Everyone needs to read this to understand, then we can discuss it!

The characters are likable and so entertaining. The ones that are less likable grow on you and end up making you laugh along. The dialog is spot-on but never fails to be outrageously funny. Now, what really pushed this one to 5 stars was the secondary and surprisingly endearing topics such as first love and even some thought-provoking ones such as homosexuality and church. All these were in the background but when the story hits the proverbial fan, it was wonderful to see the author skillfully take the story along these paths without outlandish behaviors. Everything in this book seemed over the top without actually being over the top. That was refreshing!

Overall, a sweet and hilarious story that will no doubt win Ms. Alexander new fans. 5 stars.

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Review of ‘Second Chances’ by A.E. Radley.

Alice Spencer is an elementary school teacher that just moved to the small coastal town of Fairlight, England for a change of pace. Her work in the city left her yearning for smaller class sizes and an opportunity to make a difference in her students’ lives. Hannah Hall was born and raised in Fairlight and, despite having had a difficult childhood, never left the small town. Now she is a struggling single mother to daughter Rosie, who is a gifted child and about to start school for the first time.

The story showcases Hannah’s relationship with Rosie. Their interactions are, in my opinion, the highlight of the book. The banter between mother and daughter is adorable and well written. The same can be said between Hannah and Alice to a lesser extent. I do wish there were more insightful moments between the leads to cement their bond instead of Rosie being ever present as a catalyst for the relationship. That said, perhaps this is the most accurate way to portray a single mother relationship where the child must be present and should be the priority for both adults. That topic was well handled and depicted. Unfortunately that left fewer opportunities to develop the romance and the lack of sex scenes might disappoint some readers.

Hannah’s character is flawed but her struggles and reactions are genuine and credible. The character is always attempting to overcome her previous experiences and the feelings they evoke in order to keep Rosie from suffering the same fate. Hence, this is also a book about Hannah and the Fairlight community’s relationship. Can Alice be the person that helps Hannah finally let go of her tumultuous past?

The chapters have individual titles pertinent to their content. This was a charming detail and I found myself looking forward to reading them. Instead of acting as a spoiler, it gave me a sense of anticipation of things to come. The book cover is also well designed and visually appealing. I loved the pencil turned tree, the colors and the use of different fonts.

Overall, a good read with a cool kid and a sweet new family. 4 stars

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Review of ‘Taking chances’ by Erin McKenzie.

Valerie Cruz spent most of her childhood in foster care and now she is a children’s librarian who likes to keep to herself avoiding any serious relationships. After becoming a foster parent herself, she meets case worker Paige Wellington. Their attraction is undeniable but a conflict with Valerie’s foster children and her conviction to stay away from relationships make it hard for Valerie and Paige to have a future together.

This is as much a romance as a story about foster care. As a foster parent herself, the author knows the inner works of the system and it shows in the story. It gives a very good insight on fostering from the different points of view of the social workers, the fostering parents and the children.

The characters, adults and children alike, are well rounded, credible, and their actions are justified by their past. The children seem authentic considering their ages and their traumatic experiences. Connie, Paige’s boss, is a funny but savvy character that brings a bit of lightness to the plot. The dialogues are natural sounding and the balance between telling and showing is good.

The plot seems divided into two parts, the first half deals mainly with the fostering system and the second one focuses more on the romance. Some readers might not like that the romance takes so long to develop and then rushes slightly to the end. Other than that, this novel was interesting and entertaining to read.

Overall, a good romance with a deep insight on the US child fostering system. 4 stars.

ARC provided to me in exchange for an honest review.

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