Thursday, 25 July 2013

Review: Surviving Raine by Shay Savage

RATING: 4 napkins

As the captain of a schooner catering to the elite on the Caribbean Seas, Sebastian Stark does his best to avoid any human encounters. Interacting with people isn’t his thing, and he prefers the company of a bottle of vodka, a shot glass, and maybe a whore. There’s no doubt he’s hiding from a checkered past, but he does well keeping everything to himself…

…until the night his schooner capsizes, and he’s stuck on a life raft with one of the passengers.

Raine’s young, she’s cute, and Bastian would probably be into her if he wasn’t suffering from alcohol withdrawal. As the days pass, DTs, starvation, and dehydration become the norm. Even the most closed person starts to open up when he thinks he’s going to die, but when she realizes their traumatic pasts are connected, it’s no longer the elements that have Bastian concerned.
He has no idea how he’s going to Survive Raine.

(via Goodreads)

(Originally posted on Goodreads, with errors... hehe... and modified a little for this blog)

I hesitated starting this book thinking I need to be in the right frame of mind based on the reviews I've read. After reading it, not sure why I waited.

This could have easily been '5 napkins' for me but certain things just brought it down a notch.

I liked Raine. She cried a lot but I think she's a pretty strong heroine, especially considering how young she is. She's only 20, and I'm totally aging myself but that is young in my book, hah! She handled the relationship well, I thought, and she was the anchor in that relationship. (pun intended... hehe)

For a change, the tiny beef I have is with the hero. In my mind, Bastian is not your typical hero. He's probably one of the most obnoxious, damaged, broken hero I've read of late. His insecurities, although it didn't annoy me and actually broke my heart at times, were at the forefront for the most part of the story and considering his age (he's 29), it almost felt like it stunted his emotional growth. At the same token, as weird as this may sound, what he did before he met Raine almost made sense because of his ugly upbringing. (Mind you, the whole thing almost felt like those 90's arcade games made into B-movies with gratuitous violence, but I digress...) And does that make it more forgivable? That and what he did for her while they were in the island (w/o giving anything away)? In my mind, I'm not sure, oddly enough. Hmmm... Oh, and yet, despite it all, I did feel the heartfelt effort on his part to make himself deserving of her (sigh)... 

It wasn't a long read yet I still felt it dragged a bit by the 80% mark. And I'm sorry but I probably could have done away w/o the epilogue. It was clearly a segue to a new story, and not really meant to reinforce the HEA. Actually, for me,  it was more like HFN ending, and I still would have been ok with just that.

Oh and I did learn some survival stuff. You just never know, right?:p

Over all, I did enjoy the writing, it was written from a male's POV (which I'm now finding I'm a fan of, in romance novels, as long as it's done properly), I appreciated how the relationship blossomed, and I liked the details about how their lives are entwined. I do look forward to reading more contemporary romance from the writer.


Monday, 22 July 2013

Review: Real by Katy Evans

RATING: 4.5 napkins

A fallen boxer.A woman with a broken dream.A competition…IS HE FOR REAL?He even makes me forget my name. One night was all it took, and I forgot everything and anything except the sexy fighter in the ring who sets my mind ablaze and my body on fire with wanting…Remington Tate is the strongest, most confusing man I’ve ever met in my life.He’s the star of the dangerous underground fighting circuit, and I’m drawn to him as I’ve never been drawn to anything in my life. I forget who I am, what I want, with just one look from him. When he’s near, I need to remind myself that I am strong–but he is stronger. And now it’s my job to keep his body working like a perfect machine, his taut muscles primed and ready to break the bones of his next opponents . . .But the one he’s most threatening to, now, is me.I want him. I want him without fear. Without reservations.If only I knew for sure what it is that he wants from me? (courtesy of 

(via Goodreads)

For a debut novel, I say this is way better written than most. It's not the best written and I did have some issues with parts of the story but the story-telling did capture me.

There was your typical insta-lust, or I should say insta-insta-lust (yup, that fast), between Remy and Brooke, the hero and heroine, but the relationship didn't happen immediately. As a matter of fact, there was quite a build-up to that relationship which contributed to a lot of angst through out the book. It was getting too much at one point that even I was getting frustrated myself, also considering how it was repeatedly told how much Brooke is pining for Remy (I'm being Rated-G when I say "pining"), and I meant repeatedly. But I suppose all that angst is what made the relationship even sweeter, and hotter, when they finally decided to give their relationship a chance.

There were certain parts of the story where you definitely have to suspend your disbelief. There's the nature of his profession and the lifestyle it apparently affords Remy and his crew. But I'm mainly talking about his medical condition (that's all I'm going to say). I understand Ms. Evans has done some research in this area. Yet somehow, it still felt a little romanticized for me, and I'm sorry to say this, almost irresponsible especially around how he self-manages his condition with the aid of his crew. But I suppose, it could be possible the way he did it so moving on...

Brooke was not necessarily the heroine I usually identify with, especially in certain parts. A couple of the things she did were just too fatuous for my taste.

Now, because I tend to be hero-centric with my romance novels, Ms. Evans definitely did right by me with Remy alone. I think his character was developed well (so was Brook too, I may add, but for some of her actions). For me, he's the right mix of the alpha heroes I tend to favor in these kinds of books. And he has the most swoonalicious lines!! (grins)

Considering my itty-bitty thing with some of the story details and how I feel just ok about Brooke, Remy was definitely a big factor in bringing my rating up that high. For REAL!... hehe...


Sunday, 14 July 2013

Review: The Kissing Booth by Beth Reekles

Rating: 1 napkin 

(Disclaimer: I am not a part of the target audience for this book, being decades past my teen-age years. I am just someone who reads books from all genres.)

I will start off by saying kudos to 17-year old Beth Reekles for being able to write a novel, and for being able to reach such a large number of readers on Wattpad. 

With that being said, what follows is a short review, because frankly, I feel like I've devoted too much time to this book already just by reading it and actually being able to finish it.

Reading this was quite painful for the following reasons:

- I didn't like Elle/Shelley AT ALL! I was honestly hoping that Noah would get it together and realize that other girls are way better for him...ANY OTHER GIRL! One who would actually care when he storms out and leaves his house for a few days!!!!!
- The story dragged because of the reason above. I was seriously hoping for another POV just to escape the "Oh mah gash! I'm pretty? Boys like me? Girls are jealous because I can talk to Noah." nonsense. Seriously, I would've been happy to read what the school janitor thinks of all these.
- Noah was smirking soooo much I was afraid his face would stay like that forever.

The only reason I finished it is because I kept hoping and hoping it would get better. And yes....the last chapter made me happy....mwahaha! Hello, Harvard!!!;)

PS: Random House, can I get a refund?

(This review was first written on Goodreads.)


Friday, 12 July 2013

Review: Tangled by Emma Chase

RATING: 5 napkins

Drew Evans is a winner. Handsome and arrogant, he makes multimillion dollar business deals and seduces New York’s most beautiful women with just a smile. He has loyal friends and an indulgent family. So why has he been shuttered in his apartment for seven days, miserable and depressed?

He’ll tell you he has the flu.

But we all know that’s not really true.

Katherine Brooks is brilliant, beautiful and stubborn. She refuses to let anything, or anyone, derail her path to success. When Kate is hired as the new associate at Drew’s father’s investment banking firm, every aspect of the dashing playboy’s life is thrown into a tailspin. The professional competition she brings is unnerving, his attraction to her is distracting, his failure to entice her into his bed is exasperating.

Then, just when Drew is on the cusp of having everything he wants, his overblown confidence threatens to ruin it all. Will he be able untangle his feelings of lust and tenderness, frustration and fulfillment? Will he rise to the most important challenge of his life?

Can Drew Evans win at love?

Tangled is not your mother’s romance novel. It is an outrageous, passionate, witty narrative about a man who knows a lot about women…just not as much as he thinks he knows. As he tells his story, Drew learns the one thing he never wanted in life, is the only thing he can’t live without. (courtesy of

(via Goodreads)

Can I just say I totally <3 this book?!?! YES, I do!

Top 10 reasons why I love this book:

10. It's different that it's told from the hero's POV.
 9. It's totally hilarious, I actually laughed out loud at some of the scenes, which I rarely do lately.
 8. The dialogues were really witty.
 7. The writing was done well, the whole story flowed smoothly. For a debut romance novel, I say, brava!
 6. It has the right amount of steam, and boy did it sizzle! I will say that I was a little concerned in the beginning about how it would all read considering it's supposedly a male's POV, but there's definitely nothing to be concerned about.
 5. Although it was your typical insta-attraction, it wasn't love at first sight, so it was nice to see the relationship develop.
 4. All the characters are likable and that includes all the supporting characters as well.
 3. Mackenzie, the hero's niece, I think deserves a special mention.
 2. Kate, the heroine, definitely does womanhood proud. She's smart, intelligent, strong, feisty, and feminine all at once. Can't blame anybody for falling in love with her, seriously, unlike some heroines in some of these romance stories.
 1. And lastly, saving the best for last, we get Drew, the hero of the story. Oh, Drew, Drew, Drew. He's arrogant, overbearing, crass at times, irreverent and totally unapologetic, yet he's sweet, sincere, supportive, funny, and will just totally melt your heart. Well, he melted mine. ((grins))

The whole book read like a movie. That doesn't necessarily work for everybody, but as far as I'm concerned, it totally did...

Let's just say there is nothing, and I mean, nothing that I don't like about this book. End of story.


Have you read it? Did you enjoy it as much as I did?

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Agree to Disagree: Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire


Abby Abernathy is a good girl. She doesn’t drink or swear, and she has the appropriate number of cardigans in her wardrobe. Abby believes she has enough distance from the darkness of her past, but when she arrives at college with her best friend, her path to a new beginning is quickly challenged by Eastern University’s Walking One-Night Stand.
Travis Maddox, lean, cut, and covered in tattoos, is exactly what Abby wants—and needs—to avoid. He spends his nights winning money in a floating fight ring, and his days as the ultimate college campus charmer. Intrigued by Abby’s resistance to his appeal, Travis tricks her into his daily life with a simple bet. If he loses, he must remain abstinent for a month. If Abby loses, she must live in Travis’s apartment for the same amount of time. Either way, Travis has no idea that he has met his match. (courtesy of 

(via Goodreads)

Leftie: Ok, I happen to be the one who ended up liking this book. I should also say that I feel like I need to explain myself further. 

First off, I'm not too big on YA (Young Adult) /NA (New Adult) genre, especially YA. And this what this book is classified as, I think. 

For me, the emotions in this book are just real intense for a YA/NA genre. Reading about Travis, the book's hero, is like seeing into the making of an alpha male that women swoon over in adult romance novels, and reading about someone young with that trait was a little disconcerting at times I must say. Then there's Abby, the heroine. I can easily go off-tangent just trying to describe how I feel about this young girl. How I feel about this girl will change from one minute to the next, that I know. 

I think the writer did try to provide some context as to why these 2 characters felt and acted like they did, although it wasn't enough for me to fully understand where they were coming from. Then I go back to the emotions again. It felt un-natural to have such intense emotions at that age. Yet it also felt natural when I try to remember what things felt like at that age. If  real adults are going thru the same issues, they would have been told to seek help, yet these 2 young characters dealt with it on their own acting like it's the most natural thing and nothing to be concerned about. And this is what I think disturbed a lot of the readers out there who felt very strongly against this book, especially the issues around anger, jealousy and promiscuity. 

Then there's the whole campus setting that felt very parochial, or maybe it's just me, because I went to university in the city and not a college town. It just felt high school-ish for me and too clique-ish.

I know I would not have liked this book at all if I read this in my teens or 20's. Remembering how I was then, this book would have probably earned a lot of head-shaking and eye-rolling from me, especially Abby. But I'm not in my teens or 20's anymore so in the end, I realized I like this book for the way the writer got me enmeshed in the story and the characters. I say that alone makes it a good fiction for me. It evoked emotions in me (whether my current self or remembering my young self), that's for sure.

Reading a story about it is one thing, but imagining your child (I don't have any) or someone in your care going thru the same thing is a totally different ball game. So as much as I like this book, I will never recommend this book to young girls (not that I'm surrounded by any, thankfully). After all, fantasy/fiction is one thing and reality another.

Rightie: I decided to give this book a try after Leftie's 4-star rating on Goodreads...well, let's just say I told her over the phone that I'm sending a virtual e-reader on top of her head after I read this dang book. AAAAAARGHHHH! This book brought out so many emotions in me, and none of them were good! 

First of all, I disliked the heroine Abby a, A LOT:( None of her actions made any sense to me despite the background the author gave her (which was so lame....I can't even....). She was weak and vapid. I honestly would have walked out from Travis's place after that thing he did on the sofa (No spoiler, ok? Heehee.) WTF?!?!

And Travis...well, I liked him well enough at first. Despite the issues I had with his obsessive and violent tendencies, I was able to tolerate him a bit...until the book went on and on, and his "tendencies" became psychotic behaviours. I guess it didn't help that his girl was supporting him in this(cafeteria scene). AAAAAARGHHHHH! And really...what's with calling Abby "Pidge" all the freaking time?!?! Did the author even explain this? I can't remember. I might have blocked some parts of the book in my head.

Sorry for all the exclamation points. This book brings that out in me...even just writing this is making my blood boil. I mean....that's about a day in my life I could never get back....waaaaaaaaah :(

And so, there you have it...two opposing views on one book. If you have read this book, what did you think?

Monday, 8 July 2013

Agree to Disagree: Naked by Raine Miller


Hello, Leftie here, we are introducing a new kind of post that will, without a doubt, you'll see every now and then in this page. We call it a "Agree to Disagree" and this happens, or will happen, when we feel the opposite about a book, strongly enough that we feel it merits a discussion, sorta'...

(via Goodreads)

In this book, we are introduced to Brynne, an American student studying in London and poses as a model on her off time, and Ethan who owns a security company and was asked by Brynne's father to look after Brynne because Brynne's father is some kind of an important person, I think, back in the US and I think something happened with Brynne in the past that if people find out it will cause some damage. Oh, and Ethan bought some nude photo of Brynne, and so start their story...

Leftie: That's me giving the description. That was the extent of how I will describe this book. If you can't sense how I feel by how I described it, then let me just further clarify that, I'm really sorry, but this book did not work for me. I should say that it probably would have worked for me if the whole story was not broken up into novellas the way this story was. It's a short read, just over a 100 pages, and for me, it just worked against the story. I didn't understand the characters' motivation since in my mind, everything felt out of context. Everything felt like it happened in fast-forward mode (FF4 in PVR mode, if I may add) that I didn't have time to buy into the characters' emotions, so in the end, it just earned a lot of eye-rolling from me.

A lot of people women loved this book, so I guess I'm in the minority about how I feel about this book(-let), lemme point that out now. But judging from the other reviews out there, I'm also not the only one who felt that this book(-let) will remind you of other more known books out there in the same genre (*cough-cough*, Fifty Shades by EL James... *cough-cough*, Crossfire Series by Sylvia Day, *cough-cough*). So having said that, there is definitely a high potential to like this book if you're a fan of those other books. Alas, not I...

Rightie: Oh Leftie, Lefite, Leftie...your attention span has always been better than mine. The reason I probably liked this book is because of the fact that everything was fast....zoom zoom! Wham bam! Thank you, ma'm!

Despite the book being only about 100 pages, I think the author did a good-enough job to make me sympathize with the characters. The heroine was likeable enough, despite her being able to fall asleep in a stranger's car....bwahaha!

And Ethan...well, I guess it helped that I had Daniel Craig in my mind the whole time I was reading it, despite the character being described totally different than my dear Daniel. I think Daniel works for any romance hero anyway, right? Oh Daniel....I mean, Ethan! You're crazy for what you did, but I can totally understand because, well, you fell in love....

And yes...I do agree with Leftie that the author might have been too inspired by some other works out there, but that's ok, Raine Miller. Just keep writing about Daniel....I mean, Ethan!

If you have read this book, what did you think?

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Review: I've Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella

RATING: 3.5 napkins

I've lost it. The only thing in the world I wasn't supposed to lose. My engagement ring. It's been in Magnus' family for three generations. And now, the very same day his parents are coming, I've lost it. The very same day. Do not hyperventilate Poppy. Stay positive!!

Poppy Wyatt has never felt luckier.  She is about to marry the ideal man, Magnus Tavish, but in one afternoon her 'happy ever after' begins to fall apart.  Not only has she lost her engagement ring but in the panic that followed, she has now lost her phone. As she paces shakily round the hotel foyer she spots an abandoned phone in a bin. Finders keepers!  Now she can leave a number for the hotel to contact her when they find her ring. Perfect!

Well, perfect except the phone's owner, businessman Sam Roxton doesn't agree.  He wants his phone back and doesn't appreciate Poppy reading all his messages and wading into his personal life.  

What ensues is a hilarious and unpredictable turn of events as Poppy and Sam increasingly upend each other's lives through emails and text messages.  As Poppy juggles wedding preparations, mysterious phone calls and hiding her left hand from Magnus and his parents... she soon realizes that she is in for the biggest surprise of her life. (courtesy of

(via Goodreads)

I've been reading Sophie Kinsella's work since Confessions of a Shopaholic. In my head, Ms. Kinsella's work is your typical chick lit, and over all, when I read any of her books, I know I'd get a good, easy, fun read out of them. And to me that's a good thing, but of late, it's also not becoming a good thing since the formula of (most of) her stories are becoming too familiar.

In I've Got Your Number, the base of the story is a bit of a stretch for starter. When you lose your phone, I don't think your first reaction would be to usurp a found phone and immediately claim it as your own, even temporarily. No? But by doing something normal like that, I suppose you won't get the premise such as the one in this book.

Then, you get Poppy, Ms. Kinsella's typical heroine who makes dumb choices out of desperation (in her mind), surrounds herself with friends who have questionable morals but she still loves them nonetheless, gets too caught up with her own neuroses sometimes,  redeems herself by the fortuitous results in the end thereby totally endearing herself after all. Then there's Sam, Ms. Kinsella's typical hero who has enough dimension to capture your attention, may be slightly flawed with his impatience and a bit of arrogance but totally gets the heroine therefore making him the perfect hero for the heroine. Then, stir in a bit of a dilemma where the heroine saves the day, inadvertently or not. Then let's not forget the use of obscure words such as pusillanimous in dialogues. Thesaurus much?

But you know what, despite all that, I found myself enjoying the story and the characters by the end of the book; which is the case in all of Ms. Kinsella's books that I've read so far, and on top of that, it continues to make me look forward to her next book. So in the end, I guess something about her writing and story reaches out to me as a reader. It keeps me engaged or guessing enough to make me want to finish the book. And like I mentioned earlier, the characters redeem themselves enough that in the end, I end up rooting for them rather than strangling them...

What does this all mean then? I guess if you're a fan of chick lit, I think you'll enjoy this book enough. You'll laugh enough, you'll get the build-up to the (light) romance, and it's not a bad way at all to keep you occupied while sunning yourself in the beach or having a quiet time in your backyard sitting on a lounge chair.


Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Review: The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman

RATING: 4.5 napkins

In 70 CE, nine hundred Jews held out for months against armies of Romans on a mountain in the Judean, desert, Masada. Only two women and five children survived. Based on this tragic and iconic event, Hoffman weaves a spellbinding tale of four extraordinary bold, resourceful, and sensuous women, each of whom comes to Masada by a different path. Yael’s mother died in childbirth, and her father, an expert assassin, never forgave her for that death. Revka, a village baker’s wife, watched the horrifically brutal murder of her daughter by Roman soldiers; she brings to Masada her young grandsons, rendered mute by their own witness. Aziza is a warrior’s daughter, raised as a boy, a fearless rider and expert marksman who finds passion with a fellow soldier. Shirah, born in Alexandria, is wise in the ways of ancient magic and medicine, a woman with uncanny insight and power.The lives of these four complex and fiercely independent women intersect in the desperate days of the siege. All are dovekeepers, and all are also keeping secrets — about who they are, where they come from, who fathered them, and who they love. (courtesy of

(via Goodreads)

This is a story about 4 women during a very specific time in Jewish history. I don't have any knowledge about this particular time of Jewish historybut it didn't take away any pleasure from my reading experience at all. Ms. Hoffman did indicate at the end of the book about the type and amount of research that went into this book. Even if she didn't, I probably wouldn't have cared the way she built this specific time and place in my head. The use of practical magic layered with their people's history and faith threw me off a bit in the beginning but the more I read, I thought it further gave texture to the story, added a different dimension.

I thought it was beautifully written. All 4 women were strong in their own way. I love how each of their story wove to form a kind of tapestry. I could easily talk about each one of them in detail, and talk about how each of them came to be, the pivotal things in each of their lives that would forever change them, about love found and lost, but I might as well tell the whole story if that's the case so I won't.

Heading towards the ending, there was no doubt what was to happen and all I could do was brace myself for the impact. It was heart-wrenching. 
I admit I shed a tear or 2 over the ending. After finishing this book, I had to decompress a little to let these women get out of my head. And seeing that I had to make a conscious effort to let these characters go, that's how I know how much I liked this book. It wasn't an easy read, that's for sure, but for me, it was worth it. Ms. Hoffman can definitely write.


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