Nicole Reads A Lot

so many books, so little time

Blue’s Beauty by Bailey West

Title:
Blue's Beauty (Bluette Men Series Book 1)
Author:Bailey West
PublisherSelf-published
Publication Date:December 2016
Publisher's DescriptionRoman 'Blue' Bluette falls in love with a woman. He plans on spending the rest of his life with this woman but circumstances prevent that from happening. He settles on being alone for the rest of his life and focuses his energy on other things until he meets her.
She is an unconventional woman in the sense that she loves girly things like pretty clothes and manicures but she is also just a comfortable hanging out with the guys, arguing about sports and riding motorcycles. She believes in love but her encounters with it so far have left much to be desired. She wants someone to love her and to take care of her. She almost considers settling for one or the other until she meets him.
Can they love each other through their brokenness to find true happiness?
**This book is part of a series but it is a standalone novel. No cliffhangers.***
My rating:****

bluesbeautyIn terms of the storyline, this book was a 4 star read. It wasn’t without flaws, but the author wrote a compelling religious romance that I didn’t hate (and I generally can’t stand religious romances). Zenetta was a great character, and I really loved Blue’s evolution. Blue’s Beauty was surprisingly funny and possessed an underlying sweetness that touched me and made me feel more invested in what was happening than I normally do when reading romance novels. While I am not usually a fan of closed door romances, the steamy scenes in this book almost seemed de trop; the novel seemed so full to me that the scenes that raised the sensuality level didn’t actually feel necessary.

The book’s editing was frankly awful, and I was kind of shocked at how many errors abounded in this book. While I would 100% read the next book in this series, I really hope that Ms. West has a lot of success and can get her books edited professionally – I am confident that better formatting, grammar, and attention to detail could only enhance the experience of reading her work.

No Comments »

Color Me Crazy by Carol Pavliska

Title:
Color Me Crazy
Author:Carol Pavliska
PublisherEntangled Publishing
Publication Date:May 2015
Publisher's DescriptionNever fall for a rockstar...

Julian Wheaton views the world through a kaleidoscope of synesthesia, seeing the colors of every sound he hears. His life as an iconic rock guitarist was a stressful psychedelic trip that nearly destroyed him. Now he’s abandoned the rock ’n’ roll lifestyle for the peaceful sanctity of his recording studio, but when fiery Cleo Compton comes to work for him, she brings chaos with her.

Cleo Compton has had her flings with rockstars—and it’s left her wary and bruised. Julian may have those sexy bedroom eyes and drool-worthy tattoos, but Cleo is determined to keep things strictly professional—until Julian turns out to be every dream she’s ever chased. When he risks it all to hit the road with a band again, Cleo fears he’ll return as the one thing she can no longer abide—a rockstar.
My rating:****

cmc

This book had a lot happening in it and I appreciated how Ms. Pavliska brought it all together in a meaningful way. In some stories, the synesthesia itself would have been the entire focus, but I like how she showed what having that condition could mean to a musical prodigy with nearly crippling performance anxiety. Julian and Cleo were a good match, and I appreciate the time that both of them put into thinking about things before jumping into a relationship together. Cleo in particular was interesting to me, and I liked watching her consider the implications of dating Julian, based on her own past history. I found the inclusion of the characters’ families helpful to understanding why they were the way they were. I didn’t know what to expect when I requested this book from Netgalley, but this is a very solid story, and I’m glad that I read it.

I wasn’t actually a fan of the cover, and it might have turned me off if I hadn’t read the description before seeing it.

No Comments »

Invisible City by Julia Dahl

Title:
Invisible City
Author:Julia Dahl
PublisherMinotaur Books
Publication Date:May 6, 2014
Publisher's DescriptionJust months after Rebekah Roberts was born, her mother, an Hasidic Jew from Brooklyn, abandoned her Christian boyfriend and newborn baby to return to her religion. Neither Rebekah nor her father have heard from her since. Now a recent college graduate, Rebekah has moved to New York City to follow her dream of becoming a big-city reporter. But she’s also drawn to the idea of being closer to her mother, who might still be living in the Hasidic community in Brooklyn.

Then Rebekah is called to cover the story of a murdered Hasidic woman. Rebekah’s shocked to learn that, because of the NYPD’s habit of kowtowing to the powerful ultra-Orthodox community, not only will the woman be buried without an autopsy, her killer may get away with murder. Rebekah can’t let the story end there. But getting to the truth won’t be easy—even as she immerses herself in the cloistered world where her mother grew up, it's clear that she's not welcome, and everyone she meets has a secret to keep from an outsider.

In her riveting debut Invisible City, journalist Julia Dahl introduces a compelling new character in search of the truth about a murder and an understanding of her own heritage.
My rating:****

icdahl

What happens when the stranger in the strange land isn’t exactly a stranger? In Invisible City by Julia Dahl, Rebekah finds herself navigating a lot of new waters at one time: journalism, New York City, and the Hasidic population of Brooklyn. When Rebekah’s barely-understood Jewish heritage unexpectedly gives her an in, she fakes her way through knowing more than she really does to keep the information coming. Along the way she makes some mistakes, uncovers details about the crime that would have been impossible for any other reporter to get, and tumbles headlong into a world that barely makes any sense to her.

Rebekah is smart and determined, and the missteps that she makes could be the result either of her youth or of entering into an insular world that she wasn’t raised to understand. At times she reminded me of Tess Monaghan, both because of her dual Christian-Jewish heritage, and also because of her attempt to break into journalism at a time when the newspaper business is tougher than ever. I liked this book a lot, and would definitely read the next Rebekah Roberts outing; the revelation at the end of the book makes me want to know more about Rebekah’s family. I love it when an author can leave me wanting more, without using an abrupt cliffhanger to achieve this effect.

I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

No Comments »

Point of No Return by Tiffany Snow

Title:
Point of No Return
Author:Tiffany Snow
PublisherMontlake Romance
Publication Date:May 20, 2014
Publisher's DescriptionKathleen Turner wasn't expecting to fall in love when she came to Indianapolis a year ago, much less with two very different men. And not just any men. Brothers.

Blane Kirk, former SEAL turned attorney, is every woman’s dream man. A playboy who changes women as often as he changes his tie, trying to hold on to Blane could only break Kathleen's heart.

Commitment is a foreign word to Kade Dennon, assassin-for-hire and genius hacker, and safety is non-existent. A future with Kade would surely end in disaster—for both of them.

Past betrayals come to a head and the choice Kathleen makes could sign her death warrant. Everything’s at stake as Blane, Kade, and Kathleen reach the Point of No Return.
My rating:****

19369395

I was so excited when this book appeared on my ereader at midnight! It was a great ending to a really enjoyable birthday.

Without going into too much detail, I will say that this book had what was, in my mind, one of the most satisfying resolutions to a love triangle that I ever read. First of all, all three of the participants made it out of the book alive, which isn’t always a given. Second, the guy I liked better won. That’s not always guaranteed to happen, either. What can I say? I always root for the underdog.

There are a few things that I found strange and the whole politics subplot required way too many explanations and exceptions to be believable.

For instance: Why is the US senator uncle so often in Indiana, when he represents Massachusetts? (Click on the blurred text to see potential spoilers.) Further, How would Blane, who’d previously run for governor of Indiana AND came from an entirely different political party, be able to easily step in an win his uncle’s seat? That bit of foolishness greatly detracted from this book.

I read to learn, and I really appreciate Ms. Snow letting us know that, at the heart of all anti-fracking activism is Russian money. Because fracking is totally okay and 100% nontoxic and not even kind of harmful to the environment. Sure, stupid people who blindly support environmental causes may have been duped into taking up the cause, but what they don’t know is that anti-fracking activism is largely funded by Russian money. Why, you ask? Because Russia’s greatest export is natural gas, they’re desperate to block all US efforts to cultivate American sources of energy. See? Fracking isn’t bad for the environment, it’s bad for Russia’s bottom line, and the dumb and/or greedy will do all they can to prevent Americans from ever knowing the truth about anti-fracking efforts. This is some Bond villian-level thinking, and I congratulate Ms. Snow on her healthy paranoia. Meanwhile, I think I just strained an optic nerve, what with all the eye-rolling I did through that part of the book. Between this and Kathleen’s singing an internal ode to 2nd Amendment rights in the middle of a gun battle, I don’t have to reach far to figure out Ms. Snow’s political leanings.

This story is a 4.5 star for me, easily. The action is great, the romance has depth, most of the players transcend easy classifications to achieve realness [except for the one-note bad guy(s)], and the ending works for me on many levels, including karmic. The political motivations at the heart of this story are a total joke, but I enjoyed the rest of the book enough not to care too much.

No Comments »

Lie Lay Lain by Bryn Greenwood

Title:
Lie Lay Lain
Author:Bryn Greenwood
PublisherStairway Press
Publication Date:April 3, 2014
Publisher's DescriptionJennifer has a great job and a go-getter fiancé. She’s on track for success, until she witnesses a fatal hit-and-run. Mistaking Jennifer for someone else, the dying victim extracts an impossible promise. Jennifer’s fiancé wants her to forget the whole incident, but when she closes her eyes, she can still see the bloody face of the woman who asked for her help.

Olivia is in a rut. Burdened with caring for her brain-damaged brother and already feeling like a spinster at 27, she’s desperate to escape. In a moment of weakness, she tells a lie that draws an unsuspecting paramedic into her life. As she struggles to expiate the lie, a horrible act of violence will test her resolve to be honest.

Where Jennifer’s promise and Olivia’s lie intersect, their lives begin to unravel.
My rating:****

LieLayLain_Cover.fh11

Lie Lay Lain is the story of Jennifer and Olivia, and of the  people in their separate and shared orbits. The two know each other at the outset of the book, as they attend the same church, but their lives are completely different. Jennifer is engaged, part of an extended social circle, and has a good job. Olivia is single and lives at home with her parent and older brother, who suffered a brain injury in a motorcycle accident and cannot live independently. She works in the church that her family has always attended and has no life outside of home and church.

I think that people generally expect to be prepared in life for the big decisions that change everything (choosing a career path, who to date, where to live, etc), but neither Jennifer nor Olivia could have imagined the changes that they would experience as a result of the lies that they tell. In doing a kindness for a dying woman, Jennifer feels a sense of responsibility to see that promise through, although only Olivia seems to understand why Jennifer wants to check up on Shani, daughter of the dead woman. Jennifer becomes invested in Shani’s welfare, at times paying less attention to her job and her relationship with her fiancé. Olivia’s sense of guilt over lying makes her turn a small untruth, that she is dating a paramedic, into reality. Asking Rindell out on a date is her first step toward becoming an Olivia she never suspects could even exist. Her new romantic relationship confuses and excites her, but helps her find the courage to be less passive with others in her life.

This book is engaging and gripping, and I skipped working on an this awesome hat that I’m knitting to keep reading it. Respect. Even if the story had been only so-so, I would say that this book is worth reading just for the perspective on truth, lies, and honesty. Who could fault Jennifer for helping to ease a dying woman’s mind, or Olivia for trying to keep people out of her business? While there are some pretty blatant bad lies in this book, most instances of dishonesty are less clear-cut in their right or wrongness. Amazingly, as if encouraging heavy rumination on the nature of truth isn’t enough of an accomplishment, Ms. Greenwood also manages to squeeze in a nuanced perspective on race and identity in the midst of all of the other things happening in this book. Although this book is relegated on Netgalley to the Women’s Fiction ghetto, I would recommend this book to any lover of well-written fiction.

 

No Comments »