Category Archives: contemporary fiction

Forbidden Promises Review by Katee Robert

Some lines should never be crossed . . . not even for love.

I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

Title: Forbidden Promises
Author: Katee Robert
Series: The O’Malleys 
Publish Date: May 30, 2017
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Source: Provided by Barclay Publicity and Net Galley

Publisher’s Description:

Sloan O’Malley just left her entire world behind-her family, her wealth, and even her real name. For the first time in her life, she’s free. She can live the “normal” life she’s always wanted. A life without fear. But there’s nothing safe about her intensely sexy next-door neighbor.

Jude MacNamara has no room for innocence in his life. Only revenge. Still, he’s never been able to walk away from the forbidden, and Sloan–who is every inch of pure, mouthwatering temptation–has forbidden written all over her. Only after it’s way too late does he discover the real danger: claiming Sloan as his puts a target on her back. To protect her, Jude is willing risk everything . . . and to hell with the consequences.


Luna Lovebooks says…

 

Likes: I must admit books like this are my guilty pleasure. Usually big alpha males are a turn off for me. But Jude, while being alpha, was more concerned about Sloan and her pleasure and safety. That was refreshing. He let her find her feet and the strength she had buried deep down. I like that even though it’s part of a series you don’t have to read the other books to know what is going on. The characters from the other novels make appearances but aren’t essential. The sex scenes were tasteful and red hot in my opinion.

 

Dislikes: I was trying to figure out what the Russian mob boss’s fascination with Sloan’s younger sister had to do with the overall story. Unless that will be the set up for a future novel in the series, it seemed unnecessary, even if it did all tie together in the end. There were a few instances that were very unbelievable to me as well. For instance having both a condom break and the plan b pill fail, while possible, is highly unlikely and seemed a little far-fetched to me.

 

This is a good book to relax in a hot bath with and have a glass of wine and some candles going for some me time but it’s not something I would read every day. I give it three bullets. 

Other recommendations…

I’d read the rest of the O’Malley series by Katee Robert,  Preston’s Honor by Mia Sheridan, The Wing Man by Natasha Anders.

I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

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Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

In this contemporary YA, you meet Melinda, a girl in high school whose dark secrets have destroyed both her reputation and her life, making her an outcast. But the closer you get to the truth, the more you realize all the things she’s sacrificed to protect herself.

TitleSpeak
AuthorLaurie Halse Anderson
Series: stand-alone
Publish Date: October 22, 1999
Genre: YA Contemporary
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s DescriptionThe first ten lies they tell you in high school.

“Speak up for yourself–we want to know what you have to say.”

From the first moment of her freshman year at Merryweather High, Melinda knows this is a big fat lie, part of the nonsense of high school. She is friendless, outcast, because she busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops, so now nobody will talk to her, let alone listen to her. As time passes, she becomes increasingly isolated and practically stops talking altogether. Only her art class offers any solace, and it is through her work on an art project that she is finally able to face what really happened at that terrible party: she was raped by an upperclassman, a guy who still attends Merryweather and is still a threat to her. Her healing process has just begun when she has another violent encounter with him. But this time Melinda fights back, refuses to be silent, and thereby achieves a measure of vindication.

In Laurie Halse Anderson’s powerful novel, an utterly believable heroine with a bitterly ironic voice delivers a blow to the hypocritical world of high school. She speaks for many a disenfranchised teenager while demonstrating the importance of speaking up for oneself.

Speak was a 1999 National Book Award Finalist for Young People’s Literature.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Kat Mandu says…

Melinda is both fierce and feeble, plus her thoughts are right up my sarcastic alley. Often she is dark and miserable and you can tell she just wants to scream. Other times she is soft and vulnerable, which is when she opens up and explains why she’s elected to stay silent.

A couple months before the story takes place, Melinda and her friends attend a junior/high school party in which Miranda becomes intoxicated and is raped by one of her older classmates. After her ordeal, she calls the cops and becomes the pariah of the school because they’re busted.

Her old friends have left her behind in the dust afterward and she’s alone, except for a girl who acts like her friend but really isn’t.

She moves through school in a daze, failing most classes and refusing to interact with the majority of teachers and schoolmates. The only class she’s really into is art – and her projects have to revolve around trees. She does like her art teacher, but he, too, has his own issues.

But anyway, little by little she comes out of her shell, revealing to her former friend what happened to her that night and even confronting IT as well. Eventually, she’s reading to speak.

This is a wonderful novel I flew through. The writing is great, Miranda’s voice is spectacular and edgy, and I have the sad feelings that many girls who have been in similar situations would appreciate this book.

Other recommendations…

Recommended for fans of Courtney Summers, Ellen Hopkins, and Terry Trueman.

The Girl and the Bomb by Jari Jarvela

Today’s book is one of a few translated works I’ve been reading lately. While good, it’s obvious this book may challenge US readers with its cultural and societal differences. However, it’s good for us, especially now, to broaden our minds and horizons.

I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

TitleThe Girl and the Bomb
AuthorJari Järvelä, Kristian London (translator)
SeriesMetro-trilogia, Book 01
Publish Date: October 1, 2015 by Amazon Crossing
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Source: provided by the author/publisher

Publisher’s Description: Rust and Metro live life to the fullest in the small Finnish city of Kotka. The lovers work together by day and write graffiti by night, always staying one step ahead of the law. But their luck runs out after an ambush by rogue security guards causes Rust to fall to his death. Having literally left their marks all over the city, Metro cannot help but be reminded of Rust everywhere she goes, making it impossible for her to move past the tragedy. Heartbroken and alone, she becomes determined to get to the bottom of her partner’s death and to exact revenge on those responsible by using the tool she knows best: spray paint. As she fights to bomb the system, she is constantly—and harshly—reminded of how unfair life can be. Up against lies, betrayal, and corruption, Metro musters the strength and inspiration to persevere in the name of truth and by adding beauty to an ugly world.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Agent Annie says…

Good book. Really enjoyed the two points of view of the graffiti artist and the security officer as they told their side of the story. I thought the ending was weak because it didn’t have a sense of completeness. How did either person’s life change? Were they affected by their own or other’s actions? Did either of them have a change of mind or grow as a person? Without the events in the book, would there be a difference in the future?

However, what the thoughts were of the two as they battled discovering and being discovered was excellent. I think the translator did a great job of using appropriate American slang but kept true to the Finnish names and landmarks, which added to the flavor of the story. I also wanted to know more about the character “Baron.” It seemed like he was ignored for the last several chapters, but leading up to them, he could have played an integral part in the betrayal or even as a setup at the end. I expected something like the graffiti artists turning the tables on the investigators and taping the mistreatment during the investigation, which would be released to the press.

This is very much a book written for an audience different than US readers. There were too many cultural anomalies with difference in economies, education after high school, governance, taxes and privatization of social services and even law enforcement. I give it a 3.

Other recommendations…

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Millenium, Book 01).

I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

The Marvelous Misadventures of Ingrid Winter by J.S. Drangsholt

Professor, wife, and mother Ingrid Winter is sent to a conference in Russia, where all her mental anxieties push her into some crazy antics.

I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

ingridTitleThe Marvelous Misadventures of Ingrid Winter
AuthorJ.S. Drangsholt
Series: stand-alone
Publish Date: March 1, 2017, by Amazon Crossing
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Source: Purchased via Kindle First

Publisher’s DescriptionIngrid Winter is desperately trying to hold it all together. A neurotic Norwegian mother of three small children and an overworked literature professor with an overactive imagination, Ingrid feels like her life’s always on the brink of chaos.

Her overzealous attempt to secure her dream house has strained her marriage. She’s repeatedly reprimanded for eye rolling in faculty meetings. Petulant PTA parents want to drag her into a war over teaching children to tie their shoes. And an alarmingly persistent salesman keeps warning her of the potential dangers of home intrusion.

Clearly she needs to get away. But Russia? Forced to join an academic mission to Saint Petersburg to promote international cooperation, Ingrid finds herself at a crossroads while drinking too much cough syrup. Will this trip push her into a Siberian sinkhole of existential dread or finally give her life some balance and direction?

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Agent_Annie_100Agent Annie says…

The Marvelous Misadventures of Ingrid Winter by J.S. Drangsholt is a careening ride through the stream of conscious of a neurotic, anxiety-riddled woman. I read this book so fast because the narrator’s anxiety was so strong you just couldn’t step away from it. If the author’s hope was to give you a glimpse as to how anxiety makes a person say or do crazy things, she hit the mark, but man, I never want to be that immersed in it again.

badge3v4Outside of the good writing of conveying what Ingrid was thinking and feeling, I wasn’t a big fan of this story. It seemed kind of boring as far as the action goes or the main character’s relationships. Not much really happened. I think the promotional material from Amazon’s Kindle First program didn’t really convey the true nature of this book and I was disappointed. I appreciated getting a early opportunity to read it, but I would have never spent money on this book. I did however suggest it to a relative that enjoyed Where Did You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple and I would be interested to see if they liked this book. I personally can only give this book a 3.

Other recommendations…

Here are some other novels with anxious main characters: A Stranger on the Planet by Adam Schwartz, Planetfall (sci-fi) by Emma Newman, Daffodil Dancing by Jean Jardine Miller.

I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

LaRose by Louise Erdrich

“In this literary masterwork, the author of the National Book Award-winning The Round House and the Pulitzer Prize nominee The Plague of Doves wields her breathtaking narrative magic in an emotionally haunting contemporary tale of a tragic accident, a demand for justice, and a profound act of atonement with ancient roots in indigenous culture.”  –from Goodreads

laroseTitleLaRose
Author: Louise Erdrich
Series: stand-alone
Publish Date: May 10th 2016 by Harper
Genre: Contemporary fiction
Narrator: Louise Erdrich
Source: Purchased in audio

Publisher’s DescriptionNorth Dakota, late summer, 1999. Landreaux Iron stalks a deer along the edge of the property bordering his own. He shoots with easy confidence—but when the buck springs away, Landreaux realizes he’s hit something else, a blur he saw as he squeezed the trigger. When he staggers closer, he realizes he has killed his neighbor’s five-year-old son, Dusty Ravich.

The youngest child of his best friend, Pete Ravich, Dusty was best friends with Landreaux’s five-year-old son, LaRose. The two families have always been close, sharing food, clothing, and rides into town; their children played together despite going to different schools, and Landreaux’s wife, Emmaline, is half sister to Dusty’s mother, Nola. Horrified at what he’s done, the recovered alcoholic turns to tradition—the sweat lodge—for guidance, and finds a way forward. Following an ancient means of retribution, he and Emmaline will give LaRose to the grieving Peter and Nola. “Our son will be your son now,” they tell them.

LaRose is quickly absorbed into his new family. Plagued by thoughts of suicide, Nola dotes on him, keeping her darkness at bay. His fierce, rebellious new “sister” Maggie welcomes him as a co-conspirator who can ease her volatile mother’s terrifying moods. Gradually he’s allowed shared visits with his birth family, whose sorrow mirrors the Raviches’ own. As the years pass, LaRose becomes the linchpin linking the Irons and the Raviches, and eventually their mutual pain begins to heal.

But when a vengeful man with a longstanding grudge against Landreaux begins raising trouble, hurling accusations of a cover-up the day Dusty died, he threatens the tenuous peace that has kept these two fragile families whole.

Inspiring and affecting, LaRose is a powerful exploration of loss, justice, and the reparation of the human heart, and an unforgettable, dazzling tour de force from one of America’s most distinguished literary masters.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Agent_Annie_100Agent Annie says…

This is definitely not one of Erdrich’s better books. It is still filled with many stories and complex characters, but I didn’t feel that she wove the past and the present together strongly. I enjoyed learning the history with the chapters of the early years with Native Americans being forced to attend boarding school, but the ramifications of those years weren’t really brought to full light in this story. I liked the imagery of the first LaRose being pursued by a bodiless head and then the 2 boys, Romeo and Landreaux thinking they had been caught after they ran away because they saw the head of their school headmistress. When I was listening to it, I thought for sure there would be more imagery or something that would make these heads significant. That wasn’t the case.

I also don’t feel that I was that engaged with any of the characters. The author chose to move between several as first person voice, but in this case, I think it made it difficult to really bond with a specific character. I also thought the relationship between Emmaline and Father Travis came out of nowhere. Father Travis’ passion was brought forth throughout the story, but Emmaline reciprocating felt too abrupt.

The main character, LaRose, was supposed to have been the 5th of a line of healers and other than the fact his father gave him away to make up for killing Dusty, I didn’t see how LaRose actually did any healing that was special. Perhaps that’s the point in the story is that the day to day lives of Native Americans are not really that different or extraordinary than the rest of us, but it is the small things and the continuity from one generation to the next that makes everyone special, but I had to really stretch to understand that might have been the point.

badge3v4I did enjoy the author’s narration. She was able to catch the cadence of a Native American’s voice and fluidly went from the first person to narrator which can be difficult. I give this book a 3 since I have read others by Louise Erdrich that are far better.