Bitsy Words: Letters From Skye by Jessica Brockmole

14th Oct 2016 Morgan @ Gone with the Words 2016, Reviews, Reviews by Morgan

Bitsy Words: Letters From Skye by Jessica Brockmole

Bitsy Words: Letters From Skye by Jessica BrockmoleLetters from Skye by Jessica Brockmole
Published by Ballantine Books
Pub Date: July 9th 2013
Pages: 320
Format: Paperback | Source: Gifted
Genres: Adult, Historical, Romance
Buy the book! | Goodreads
5 Stars

A sweeping story told in letters, spanning two continents and two world wars, Jessica Brockmole’s atmospheric debut novel captures the indelible ways that people fall in love, and celebrates the power of the written word to stir the heart.
 
March 1912: Twenty-four-year-old Elspeth Dunn, a published poet, has never seen the world beyond her home on Scotland’s remote Isle of Skye. So she is astonished when her first fan letter arrives, from a college student, David Graham, in far-away America. As the two strike up a correspondence—sharing their favorite books, wildest hopes, and deepest secrets—their exchanges blossom into friendship, and eventually into love. But as World War I engulfs Europe and David volunteers as an ambulance driver on the Western front, Elspeth can only wait for him on Skye, hoping he’ll survive.
 
June 1940: At the start of World War II, Elspeth’s daughter, Margaret, has fallen for a pilot in the Royal Air Force. Her mother warns her against seeking love in wartime, an admonition Margaret doesn’t understand. Then, after a bomb rocks Elspeth’s house, and letters that were hidden in a wall come raining down, Elspeth disappears. Only a single letter remains as a clue to Elspeth’s whereabouts. As Margaret sets out to discover where her mother has gone, she must also face the truth of what happened to her family long ago.
 
Sparkling with charm and full of captivating period detail,Letters from Skye is a testament to the power of love to overcome great adversity, and marks Jessica Brockmole as a stunning new literary voice.

 

Letters From Skye was unbearably lovely from the very first page. I loved that it was written all in letters, and that it still managed to be a dual timeline novel. That seems tricky! It made the book focused while still remaining detailed within the letters themselves. The voices were so distinct and I loved the unraveling of the mystery and the blossoming of the romance. It’s a wonderful, quick read that is emotional and thought provoking (I almost cried a couple times), while the early letters contain quite a bit of humor. The story is very charming, full of family relationships & friendships, as well as romance. I highly recommend for historical fiction fans.

 

 

Morgan @ Gone with the Words

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Review: The Alienation of Courtney Hoffman by Brady Stefani + Giveaway!

2nd Sep 2016 Tamara @ Gone with the Words 2016, Giveaways, Reviews, Reviews by Tamara

Review: The Alienation of Courtney Hoffman by Brady Stefani + Giveaway!The Alienation of Courtney Hoffman by Brady Stefani
Published by SparkPress
Pub Date: 7 June 2016
Pages: 282
Format: Paperback | Source: Author
Genres: Sci-Fi, Young Adult
Buy the book! | Goodreads
3 Stars

Fifteen year old Courtney wants to be normal like her friends. But there’s something frighteningly different about her—and it’s not just the mysterious tattoo her conspiracy-obsessed grandfather marked her with before he disappeared. She's being visited in her bedroom at night by aliens claiming to have shared an alliance with her grandfather. And imaginary or not, they're starting to to take over her mind. “Mental illness is a slippery slope,” her mother warns her.

The last thing Courtney wants to do is end up crazy and dead like her grandfather did. But what about the tattoo? And the aliens trying to recruit her? With her new alien-savvy friend Agatha and her apocalyptic visions, Courtney begins connecting the dots between the past, present and future—of her bloodline, and the ancient history that surrounds it. Is she going insane, like her family claims her grandfather did, or is she actually a "chosen one" with ancestral connections to another world? Either way, Courtney has a mission: untangle her past, discover the truth, and stop the apocalypse before it's too late for everyone.

The Alienation of Courtney Hoffman follows Courtney through some crazy and out of this world adventures. When Courtney was seven years old her grandfather tried to drown her in a bathtub. He always spoke of aliens and people being out to get him, and after he died Courtney’s mom wrote him off as crazy. Courtney wants to think her grandfather was crazy too, except she sees the aliens too. Strange things just keep on happening to her, the aliens are visiting her in her dreams at night. So, maybe Courtney and her grandfather aren’t crazy after all. Maybe the aliens are real and it’s up to Courtney to figure out what they want.

This is a sci fi, alien story with some secret society mystery thrown in. Courtney meets a lot of interesting characters along her journey. It’s hard to know who she can and can’t trust. I trusted no one in this story. I thought everyone had ulterior motives, and didn’t know what to believe. Agatha is one of the first people Courtney meets. The aliens also visit Agatha’s brother and she looks exactly like Courtney’s imaginary friend Astra. She is the first one to believe Courtney and not write her off as crazy. All of this can’t be a coincidence.

There is a lot going on in this story and I never knew who to believe or trust. Most of all I felt bad for Courtney, being 15 years old and having to deal with all of this on her own. She isn’t just visited by aliens; she’s also alienated from her family and friends. These events keep her very isolated and alone. It’s hard for her because no one believes her and everyone just wants her to act normal.

The major thing I disliked about this book was Courtney’s mother. I know she’s not supposed to be likable but she was awful to an extreme. She treats Courtney like a nuisance. She believes her daughter is mentally ill and she is constantly shaming her for it or threatening to lock her up in an asylum. She seems to have no desire to actually help Courtney; she just wants her to shut up and act normal. She drove me crazy!

The Alienation of Courtney Hoffman is a great sci fi adventure with some conspiracy thrown into the mix. The bad guys are easy to root against and I found myself rooting for Courtney to figure out this mystery and finally find her place in the world.

I was lucky enough to receive a signed finished copy of this book from the author to giveaway to one lucky reader!

Giveaway

Signed paperback of The Alienation of Courtney Hoffman by Brady Stefani

 

 

Tamara @ Gone with the Words

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Blog Tour: Reliquary by Sarah Fine | Excerpt + Giveaway!

20th Jul 2016 Jess @ Gone with the Words 2016, Blog Tours, Giveaways

Blog Tour: Reliquary by Sarah Fine | Excerpt + Giveaway!

Blog Tour: Reliquary by Sarah Fine | Excerpt + Giveaway!Reliquary by Sarah Fine
Series: Reliquary #1
Published by 47North
Pub Date: June 14th 2016
Pages: 280
Format: Paperback | Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Buy the book! | Goodreads

Mattie Carver’s engagement party should have marked the start of her own personal fairy tale. But when her fiancé, Ben, is violently abducted the next morning, her desperate quest to find him rips her away from small-town life and reveals a shattering truth: magic is real—and Ben is hooked. It’s not the stuff of storybooks. It’s wildly addictive, capable of producing everything from hellish anguish to sensual ecstasy almost beyond human endurance.

Determined to find out who took Ben and why, Mattie immerses herself in a shadowy underworld and comes face-to-face with the darkly alluring Asa Ward, a rogue magic dealer, infamous hustler…and her missing fiancé’s estranged brother. Asa has the power to sense magic, and he realizes Mattie is a reliquary, someone with the rare ability to carry magic within her own body, undetected. Asa agrees to help find Ben on one condition: Mattie must use her uncommon talent to assist his smuggling operations. Now, from magic-laced Vegas casinos to the netherworld clubs of Bangkok, Mattie is on a rescue mission. With Asa by her side, she’ll face not only the supernatural forces arrayed against her but the all-too-human temptation that she fears she can’t resist.

I’m so excited to be today’s stop on the Reliquary tour! I have an awesome excerpt to share with you guys, along with a chance for you to win 1 of 3 copies up for grabs! You can also buy it now: Amazon | Barnes & Noble!

Exceprt

RELIQUARY, Chapter one, part one excerpt:

The night before everything fell apart was the best of my life—the last purely happy, uncomplicated hours I would ever have. Looking back, I’m amazed by how lies can soothe the soul, quell every fear, blind you to reality in the most pleasant of ways. Not forever, of course. And only if you really want to buy into the illusion. But back then, I did. Even as the truth sharpened its knives and hunted me down, I refused to see it.

            I was too worried about whether I’d made enough deviled eggs.

 

“We really could have had this catered,” Mom said, stopping to rub my back as I balanced each egg half on the platter and then sprinkled them all with paprika.

I blew a lock of curly hair off my forehead. Outside I could hear laughter and the faint caress of Lake Michigan against the shore. “How many people are out there?” I asked, ignoring her comment. “Should I do another dozen?” It’s my engagement party and I want to feed people, I had said. Just appetizers and beer. I’ll be done with plenty of time to spare.

            Ugh. My mother was right. Again.

Her soft hands closed over my wrists. “We’ll have plenty. But Mattie, you need to be on the deck with Ben, not stuck in the kitchen. Your guests want to congratulate you—that’s the whole point of the party! Let me finish this up.” She held up my hands and glanced at my fingernails, short but coated with a bright-orange polish that set off my mustard-yellow dress and strawberry blond hair. “You’ll ruin these if you keep this up.” Smiling, she grabbed a dishrag and wiped a smear of mayonnaise off my ring finger, and the diamond that now lived there sparkled in the light. “Look—you’ve already done all the prep on the perperoncini wraps and the bruschetta. I’ve got this covered. Go.”

I glanced out to where my fiancé (fiancé!) was standing, a bottle of beer in one hand, flashing that smile that could melt glaciers. His hair ruffled in the breeze off the lake, the sun glinting off golden strands. I bit my lip and stared. Seriously—how had I gotten so lucky? “You sure, Mom? I feel terrible leaving you with all this work.”

She chuckled and shook her head. “Honey, that’s my job.”

My mind skipped through memories of all the times she’d rescued me from my own ambitious schemes. Like when I’d taken on decorations for the senior prom (DIY string chandeliers are harder than they look, damn you, Internet!), or the time I’d decided that I totally had time to make three hundred cupcakes for my sorority’s homecoming party despite the fact that I had to cheer in the actual homecoming game. “I guess I’m the queen of biting off more than I can chew.” I sighed. “Sorry.”

She pulled me into a hug, brushing my unruly hair off my face. “It’s just one of your many charming qualities.” She inclined her head toward Ben, and when I turned, he was watching the two of us, his honey-brown eyes full of affection and invitation. “And clearly Ben thinks so, too.”

“Remind him of that after he takes a look at the supply closet at the clinic, okay?” I nodded as he beckoned me to come outside. “I might have tried to install a new shelving system while he was fishing with Dad yesterday.” Ben had told me that it was my practice, too, even though he was the vet and I was just the lab tech and assistant. I’d wanted to show him I could pull me weight. And I could…but unfortunately, the new shelving system could not.

I explained the catastrophe that had once been Ben’s tidy closet. Mom just said, “We can get Dad over there to take a look at it tomorrow morning. He gets a kick out of fixing other people’s messes.” One of the reasons my dad was the most popular real estate agent in Sheboygan was that he actually seemed to enjoy patching holes and installing crown molding, and it certainly helped with sales.

“You guys are the best parents. I don’t deserve you.”

Mom handed me the egg platter. “Pay me back by making sure Grandpa’s having a decent time, okay?”

“You got it.” I grinned. “I’m a ray of sunshine. I even dressed the part.” I kissed her cheek and scooted through the open sliding door to the deck, where I set the platter on a table already crowded with food.

A warm hand closed over my arm. “Finally,” Ben said, his voice full of gentle teasing.

I leaned my head back and let him kiss me, savoring the taste of taste of beer on his lips. “Mm. I think I read somewhere that anticipation is a fine aphrodisiac.”

He laughed, and it accentuated the adorable dimple in his right cheek. “Is that what this is? I thought maybe you were avoiding me because of the supply closet.”

“You weren’t scheduled to go in until tomorrow!”

His arm slid around my waist, and he pulled me against his muscular body. “I had to go pick up some eyedrops for Barley.” His aging golden retriever was falling apart at the seams, but Ben was determined to give him a good life for as long as possible. “And it’s okay, really. It’ll be easy to fix.”

I buried my face against his shoulder. “You are amazing.”
He tipped my chin up. “And I’m marrying an amazing woman. Come on. Your friend Chelsea’s just gotten here, and I know you haven’t see her in a while. Also, a couple of your aunts and uncles have already asked me when you’ll appear. We need to greet your guests.”

Your guests.

I laced my fingers with Ben’s and looked out over my parents’ sprawling backyard, crowded with my extended family and everyone from my mother’s book club to my preschool gymnastics coach. Chelsea, my best friend from college, lifted her glass and grinned from her spot at the makeshift bar next to the pool.

“They’re not all mine,” I said quietly. Feeling lame, I waved toward Franz, one of a handful of Ben’s patients (or, rather, the family members of Ben’s patients) I had invited to beef up his part of the guest list.

Ben laughed as Franz waved back enthusiastically, looking a little lost and desperate as he stood among a group of my parents’ church friends. “I’m really flattered he decided to come,” Ben said. “He’s much more comfortable surrounded by books and wine.” A professor of anthropology at University of Wisconsin-Sheboygan, Franz had invited us over to his home a time or two, where I spent the evening playing with his dachshund, Lemmie, and Ben and Franz huddled in his library discussing lofty topics they claimed were too boring for me to sit through.

“I’m glad he came, too.” I bit my lip. “But he’s not your family. We could have invited Asa, you know.”

Ben’s grip turned to iron. “You can’t be serious.”

“Come on, Ben. He’s your brother.”

“Listen, even if we could find him, and even if he were sober enough to show up, trust me—you don’t want my brother here.” His jaw clenched over the tremble in his voice. “And I don’t, either. He’s a criminal. A lowlife. He’s—”

“Ben, he’s the only family you’ve got left.” My heart ached for him. His mother had taken off when Ben was only a toddler, and he and Asa had been raised by their father, who died a few years back. “Weddings bring people together!”

“But with some people, that’s more of a curse than a blessing.”

“You don’t think he’d be happy for you?”

“Mattie, the last time we saw each other, he threatened to kill me.”

What?” My eyes went wide. “You never mentioned that before!”

He bowed his head and shrugged. “It was a long time ago, and I don’t like to talk about it. But Asa’s just…he’s messed up. He’s got rage inside of him. And he’s always been jealous of me. Do you think it would help if he got a good look at all of this?”

I leaned my head on his shoulder. “I just wish you two could find your way back to each other. Family is important.”

“I’m building a new family, Mattie. And there’s no one I’d rather do it with.” He shoved his left hand in his pocket, and I knew his fingers were running over his lucky agate. Just one of the odd, endearing habits that had made me fall deeper in love with him. I watched his face as he took a deep breath and closed his eyes. And when he opened them, he smiled down at me. His hand rose from his pocket to stroke my cheek. “You are so beautiful,” he murmured.

I shivered with sudden pleasure. His touch was like a drug to me, and I was the happiest of addicts. As his fingertips trailed down my throat, my entire body tingled, and my hands balled in the fabric of his shirt, barely keeping me from sliding my palms up under it to feel his bare skin. “Do you think anyone would notice if we disappeared for a few minutes?”

My old bedroom was a few steps away, and I was already envisioning myself on the bed. His grip on my hips would be bruising and delicious. My body was already slick and soft and hot. I felt like I was one deft touch away from having an orgasm, right there on the deck. Ben’s hand spread across my back, steadying me, and he glanced down at my flushed cheeks with an appreciative grin. “What were you saying about anticipation?”

“Screw it. Or, wait, screw me. That would be even better.”

“If someone doesn’t bring me a damn plate of food, I’m going to starve!” said a gravelly voice to my left.

Ben released me instantly and clasped his hands behind his back, like a little boy caught stealing. My reaction wasn’t much better—I slapped my hands over my warm cheeks and turned toward the source of the complaint. “Grandpa! I-I was just coming to find you.”

Grandpa looked up at me from his wheelchair. Dad had parked him in the corner of the deck so that he could look out over the lawn. His wide-brimmed straw hat shaded his watery, red-rimmed eyes, and his gnarled hands were clawed over the armrests. “Yes, that much was obvious.”

Great. Grandpa had probably heard every word of my scheme to sneak in a quickie with my boyfriend (fiancé!). I blushed from my forehead to my toes. Could I just control myself for once in my life? “What would you like, Grandpa? Summer roll? Deviled eggs?”

“Surprise me.”

Grabbing a plate and a napkin, I listened to Ben doing his best to make nice—and to Grandpa having none of it. I scooped up a few appetizers from each platter and turned just in time to see Ben reaching out to shake Grandpa’s hand. When my grandfather didn’t let go of the armrests, Ben saved face by giving Grandpa’s hand a friendly pat.

Grandpa jerked away like he’d been burned, first glaring at the back of his liver-spotted hand and then up at Ben. “What the hell do you think you’re doing?” he snapped.

Ben blinked down at his fingers, the shock on his face similar to my own. “I’m…sorry?”

“You should be,” Grandpa growled. “Don’t think I don’t know what you’re up to, boy.”

“Try the eggs!” I said, rushing forward with the plate and nearly tripping in my strappy sandals. Stepping between my gaping fiancé and the tight-lipped old man who for some inexplicable reason had chosen the occasion of my engagement party to lose his mind, I put the plate in Grandpa’s lap because hey, snacks can fix nearly anything. (Despite everything that’s happened, I still believe that.)

“Mattie, I think I’m going to…um…I’m going to go make sure Franz is having a good time,” Ben said.

I threw him and apologetic look over my shoulder. “I’ll be there in a few.”

Grandpa didn’t touch the food. His hands were shaking as I knelt next to him, my sunny skirt fanning around me. “Grandpa,” I said gently. “Are you okay?”

“Don’t take that tone with me,” he said, though his voice had lost its edge. “My hospice nurse uses the same damn voice when I dare to express an opinion about anything other than whether I would or would not care for raisins in my oatmeal.” His tremulous fingers clutched at mine, and he sighed. “Never get old, Mattie.”

“I won’t.” My chest squeezed with regret. Just a few weeks ago, the doctors had announced he only had months to live. He looked okay—apart from the rattling couch that kept him up nights and fatigue and pain meds that made him groggy during too many of his waking hours—but lung cancer was taking him down. After the doctors’ verdict, my parents had shipped him all the way to Wisconsin from his home in Arizona so they could take care of him until the end. They’d said it was the best thing for him, and to my surprise he hadn’t objected. But he didn’t seem happy about it—especially because everyone was tiptoeing around him like he was going to keel over any second. I tried to take a different approach. “Hey. In exchange for not using the you’re-a-crazy-old-man voice, I want to know what just happened with Ben.”

He grunted. “It was nothing.”

“Nothing? You refused to shake my fiancé’s hand! I mean, if you overheard us just now, that was as much my fault as—”

“Mattie, how much do you know about him, really?”

“We’ve been together for three years!”

“That doesn’t mean you know his secrets.”

I frowned. “How about you tell me what you’re getting at?”

Grandpa rubbed at his chest as he looked over at the lawn, where Ben was mingling like a pro. “Ask him.”

Frustration began to creep in. Seriously, he had to pick this night to get all protective of my virtue? They’d spoken for two minutes. What could have gone that wrong that fast? “Grandpa, what did he say to you that has you this upset?”

“Find out everything you can about him. You owe it to yourself.” He turned back to me, his chin trembling. “You and I haven’t spoken much since your grandma died.”

I looked away, ashamed. “I’m sorry. I should have written more.” Or called. Or visited.

“Come have lunch with me tomorrow?”
“I have to work.”

“Tuesday, then.”

“Okay.” I’d have to arrange with Jan, our practice manager, to cover the waiting room during what was usually her lunch break, but that wasn’t anything a box of Girl Scout cookies couldn’t fix.

“Mattie?” Ben called from the lawn. “The girl cousins are here.” His tone said, Help.

My aunt Rena’s four teenage daughters were a handful. I stood up and smoothed my skirt. “I’d better get down there before they stick one of their iPhones in Dad’s speaker dock and turn this into a rave.”

Grandpa squinted at me. “Are you speaking English?”

“Never mind.” I rubbed his shoulder. “Enjoy those eggs.”

I floated over to Ben, the incident already behind me. This was my engagement party, and I was marrying the love of my life. Nothing—and especially not my cranky old grandpa—was going to ruin it.

Re-printed with permission from 47North, copyright © 2016 by Sarah Fine

 

Giveaway

3 Finished Copies of RELIQUARY (US Only)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tour Schedule

7/17: Polished Page-Turners – Spotlight
7/18: The Eater of Books – Excerpt
7/19: Behind Closed Covers – Spotlight
7/20: Gone with the Words – Excerpt
7/21: Reading is Better with Cupcakes – Excerpt
7/22: Supernatural Snark – Q&A
7/23: Quite the Novel Idea – Spotlight
7/24: The Book Cellar – Review
7/25: Fiction Fare – Q&A
7/26: No BS Book Reviews – Q&A
7/26: Emily Reads Everything – Review
7/27: Stuck in Books – Excerpt
7/27: Reads All the Books – Review
7/28: Ex Libris – Review
7/28: BCS Reviews – Review
7/29: kimberlyfaye reads – Review
7/29: Wandering Bark Books – Review
7/30: Lost in Lit – Review
7/30: Bookish Lifetsyle – Review
7/31: Don’t Fold the Page – Review
7/31: Miranda’s Book Blog – Review

 

About Sarah Fine

Sarah Fine is a clinical psychologist and the author of the Servants of Fate and Guards of the Shadowlands series. She was born on the West Coast, raised in the Midwest, and is now firmly entrenched on the East Coast.

Jess @ Gone with the Words

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Bitsy Words: The Devil You Know by Trish Doller + Giveaway!

30th Jun 2016 Jess @ Gone with the Words 2016, Bitsy Words, Giveaways, Reviews, Reviews by Jess, Tunes for Books

Bitsy Words: The Devil You Know by Trish Doller + Giveaway!

Bitsy Words: The Devil You Know by Trish Doller + Giveaway!The Devil You Know by Trish Doller
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Pub Date: June 28th 2016
Pages: 256
Format: Paperback | Genres: New Adult, Romance, Suspense, Young Adult
Buy the book! | Goodreads
4.5 Stars

From critically-acclaimed author Trish Doller comes a powerful new psychological page-turner perfect for fans of Lauren Oliver and Sara Zarr.

Eighteen-year-old Arcadia wants adventure. Living in a tiny Florida town with her dad and four-year-old brother, Cadie spends most of her time working, going to school, and taking care of her family. So when she meets two handsome cousins at a campfire party, she finally has a chance for fun. They invite her and friend to join them on a road trip, and it's just the risk she's been craving--the opportunity to escape. But what starts out as a fun, sexy journey quickly becomes dangerous when she discovers that one of them is not at all who he claims to be. One of them has deadly intentions.

A road trip turns terrifying in this contemporary story that will keep readers on the edge of their seats.

The Devil You Know was just released in paperback and since I’ve read AND listened to the audiobook and have yet to post a review for it, I thought now would be a great time to do so, PLUS offer my friends a chance to win a copy!

Trish Doller delivers the perfect Summer suspense beach read in The Devil You Know. Not only is it a page-turner, it’s also SEXY AS HELL. Trish gives us TWO hot guys in this book, but only one of them is a good guy… the other one could turn out to be a straight up killer. DUN DUN DUUUUUN.

I love Trish’s writing. It’s always so lush and atmospheric. I could literally picture the outdoors in this one, as well as feel that humid heat. Grant it, the humidity is not a stretch for me to imagine considering I live in it here in Texas, but she made it to where you’ll feel it anywhere you live.

Audiobook lovers!

I re-read this through audio and OMG, IT WAS FANTASTIC! The audiobook only builds on the suspense in the story. The performance by Susannah Jones was spot on. I highly recommend you listen to this book.

Trish also has some really great visuals and music to go along with The Devil You Know
 

 

Giveaway

The Devil You Know by Trish Doller – Paperback Giveaway!

 

 

Jess @ Gone with the Words

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Series Review: Captive Prince by C.S. Pacat

29th Jun 2016 Jess @ Gone with the Words 2016, Reviews, Reviews by Jess, Series Review

Series Review: Captive Prince by C.S. PacatCaptive Prince by C.S. Pacat
Series: Captive Prince #1
Published by Berkley
Pub Date: April 7th 2015
Pages: 270
Format: Paperback | Source: Publisher
Genres: Adult, Historical, LGBT, Romance
Buy the book! | Goodreads
2 Stars

Damen is a warrior hero to his people, and the rightful heir to the throne of Akielos. But when his half brother seizes power, Damen is captured, stripped of his identity, and sent to serve the prince of an enemy nation as a pleasure slave.

Beautiful, manipulative, and deadly, his new master, Prince Laurent, epitomizes the worst of the court at Vere. But in the lethal political web of the Veretian court, nothing is as it seems, and when Damen finds himself caught up in a play for the throne, he must work together with Laurent to survive and save his country.

For Damen, there is just one rule: never, ever reveal his true identity. Because the one man Damen needs is the one man who has more reason to hate him than anyone else…

I was beyond grateful and excited when I recived this series in the mail from Berkley publishers. I’d heard so many people just losing their minds over it. So I was ready to join in the fun. :)

Captive Prince started out really strong for me. I was instantly intrigued by this Prince (Damen) who was being carted away as a slave and being delivered into the hands of another Prince (Laurent). These guys aren’t friends, btw. Damen killed Laurent’s brother, so he’s always been out for his head, but when they finally come face to face with Damen as a slave, Laurent doesn’t know that he’s looking at his brother’s killer. Or does he?! LET THE GAMES BEGIN!

I was warned that this series would be “pretty dark with some serious sexual slavery portrayals” and it was! And I think a lot of the reason why this book is my lowest rated in the series is because I felt too much time was focused on showing us how bad it was for slaves in Laurent’s kingdom when what I really wanted was just a lot of Damen and Laurent period. But I get that why it was set up this way.

Also, expect nothing to happen between these two. Settle in for the long haul. They have a lot of crap between them before anything romantic or physical can happen between the two of them.

I was worried that since I didn’t love this book I wouldn’t enjoy the rest of the series, so I continued on with tamped down enthusiasm….

 

Series Review: Captive Prince by C.S. PacatPrince's Gambit by C.S. Pacat
Series: Captive Prince #2
Published by Berkley
Pub Date: July 7th 2015
Pages: 404
Format: Paperback | Source: Publisher
Genres: Adult, Historical, LGBT, Romance
Buy the book! | Goodreads
3 Stars

With their countries on the brink of war, Damen and his new master, Prince Laurent, must exchange the intrigues of the palace for the sweeping might of the battlefield as they travel to the border to avert a lethal plot.

Forced to hide his identity, Damen finds himself increasingly drawn to the dangerous, charismatic Laurent. But as the fledgling trust between the two men deepens, the truth of secrets from both their pasts is poised to deal them the crowning death blow…

Prince’s Gambit takes us out of the castle and into the lands and already I liked it so much better! For one, the Damen and Laurent pagetime increased, so YAY! Secondly, with their countries about to go to war, there’s so much scheming and stratergizing that goes on and I really loved that. It made it exciting again.

Something more was building between Damen and Laurent and tension started to get delicious. Will they, won’t they, WHEN, DAMMIT!! All I’ll say is, settle in for the long haul with these two, because the payoff will be worth it.

There’s also the question of will Damen reveal his identity to Laurent. It feels he’s on the cusp of it throughout the book and you won’t get an answer to that until the end either.

There’s this EPIC battle scene near the end that left me saying “whoa” and after it’s over EVERYTHING IS REVEALED! That was a scene I was so looking forward to and it left me so surprised. Definitly not what I was expecting, but in a good way.

Overall the second book made me excited to continue reading. It took away my worries that I wouldn’t enjoy the series after all.

 

Series Review: Captive Prince by C.S. PacatKings Rising by C.S. Pacat
Series: Captive Prince #3
Published by Berkley
Pub Date: February 2nd 2016
Pages: 352
Format: Paperback | Source: Publisher
Genres: Adult, Historical, LGBT, Romance
Buy the book! | Goodreads
3.5 Stars

Damianos of Akielos has returned.

His identity now revealed, Damen must face his master Prince Laurent as Damianos of Akielos, the man Laurent has sworn to kill.

On the brink of a momentous battle, the future of both their countries hangs in the balance. In the south, Kastor's forces are massing. In the north, the Regent's armies are mobilising for war. Damen's only hope of reclaiming his throne is to fight together with Laurent against their usurpers.

Forced into an uneasy alliance the two princes journey deep into Akielos, where they face their most dangerous opposition yet. But even if the fragile trust they have built survives the revelation of Damen's identity - can it stand against the Regent's final, deadly play for the throne?

I was a little nervous going in because I didn’t know how Damen and Laurent’s dynamic would be affected by everything being out in the open and oooooh, was it ever affected. But the best part is that even though they were at odds, they still had to work SO CLOSELY together in this one to get their countries in order and out of the hands of usurpers.

I loved that we got to see Laurent in situations where his true self could finally shine. Before this book he’d kept himself really private but I knew there was so much more to him and we finally got to see it. Damen on the other hand was always pretty much an open book throughout the series, aside from the hiding his identity thing. He never wavered, while Laurent wasn’t a sure thing. I always felt he was very cunning and would somehow betray Damen in the end. But I worried for nothing. These guys are loyal!

The ending was really gratifying and when I closed the book I was happy I’d read it and stuck with it. It’s been a very long while since I’ve binged a series like that.

gwtw-separate-line

Some general thoughts on the series as a whole that I wanted to mention:

So much of the story is Damen and Laurent and their quest to take back their kingdoms… I didn’t feel like we got a good sense of what the people of thier land are like. I often wondered why it was that being love slaves was such a high regarded position, or why slavery exsisted at all. It was never really explained. And why mostly men? And why young men? There’s hardly any women in this series, and the ones we do meet aren’t that great.

Obviously none of these things affacted my overall feelings but they are thoughts I had that I wanted to share with you all.

Series Rating: 3.5 Stars

 

Have you guys read this series? Is it one you’ll be reading soon? Let me know in the comments!

 

Jess @ Gone with the Words

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Bitsy Words: The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

10th Jun 2016 Morgan @ Gone with the Words 2016, Bitsy Words, Reviews, Reviews by Morgan

Bitsy Words: The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

Bitsy Words: The Song of Achilles by Madeline MillerThe Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
Published by Ecco
Pub Date: August 28th 2012
Pages: 378
Format: Paperback | Source: Purchased
Genres: Adult Fiction, Historical, LGBT
Buy the book! | Goodreads
5 Stars

Greece in the age of heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the court of King Peleus and his perfect son Achilles. Despite their difference, Achilles befriends the shamed prince, and as they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine, their bond blossoms into something deeper - despite the displeasure of Achilles' mother Thetis, a cruel sea goddess.

But when word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, Achilles must go to war in distant Troy and fulfill his destiny. Torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus goes with him, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they hold dear. 

The Song of Achilles is an absolutely striking novel. The writing is exquisite and lovely; it’s sparse but uses the most wonderful descriptions and turns of phrase. I’ve read and watched my fair share of Troy adaptations but this is the best. It felt fresh and original, accessible, and brought to life these magnificent doomed characters. Ohhhh how you feel for them. The relationship between Patroclus and Achilles is everything you could wish for in a tragic romance. Whether you know the story or not (I did), you can see the twists of fate that bring them closer and closer to impending doom and ugh, it’s horrible not being able to do anything about it!!!

(source)

Madeline Miller humanizes Achilles and makes him a compelling hero worth following, while she raises Patroclus to new heights. There are traces of the gods but it doesn’t feel hokey or intrusive, any more than it is supposed to. Odysseus, Thetis, and Briseis also shine as characters. I felt transported back in time to this incredible story. The emotions are overwhelming and burrowed into my soul. The language is evocative and the action is fierce, the romance tender. Historical fiction fans must read this; I’m so glad I did. I hope we don’t have to wait much longer for Miller’s next novel!

Tumblr is a treasure trove of mood boards, fan art, and on-point fan reactions to The Song of Achilles. Here are a few links to check out:
The Song of Achilles aesthetics
Achilles/Patroclus moodboard
Modern Patrochilles AU aesthetics
The Song of Captain America
Spoilers for Disney fans

Morgan @ Gone with the Words

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Review: The Revolution of Ivy by Amy Engel

7th Mar 2016 Tamara @ Gone with the Words 2016, Reviews, Reviews by Tamara

Review: The Revolution of Ivy by Amy EngelThe Revolution of Ivy by Amy Engel
Series: The Book of Ivy #2
Published by Entangled Teen
Pub Date: November 3rd 2015
Pages: 290
Format: Paperback | Source: Purchased
Genres: Dystopian, Romance, Young Adult
Buy the book! | Goodreads
3.5 Stars

Ivy Westfall is beyond the fence and she is alone. Abandoned by her family and separated from Bishop Lattimer, Ivy must find a way to survive on her own in a land filled with countless dangers, both human and natural. She has traded a more civilized type of cruelty--forced marriages and murder plots--for the bare-knuckled brutality required to survive outside Westfall's borders.

But there is hope beyond the fence, as well. And when Bishop reappears in Ivy's life, she must decide if returning to Westfall to take a final stand for what she believes is right is worth losing everything she's fought for.

I loved The Book of Ivy, it was one of the best books I read last year and I was so excited and ready for The Revolution of Ivy. While I enjoyed this book, I liked it a little less than the first book. This was a good wrap up of the story and the plots but it was missing a little bit of excitement I felt in the first one. That being said there were a lot of big decisions and risks taken in the story.

Ivy and Bishop were a little aggravating because they just wouldn’t talk to each other and work things out. They drove me crazy! I just wanted them to figure things out and move forward. A big part of the book is spent with these two dancing around each other and avoiding their issues. After a while it was just annoying.

The new characters Ash and Caleb were a great addition. I really liked them and their friendship with Ivy. I was a little wary at first, but they won me over, especially Ash. Ivy definitely needed some more trustworthy and loyal people in her life.

Life outside of the fence was what I was most excited about seeing in this book. Ivy has never left Westfall, and I knew life on the outside would be rough. I wanted to see how she would handle it. I was pleasantly surprised in this respect because Ivy did go through a lot of obstacles on the outside and it was not easy for her. Honestly, I would have loved a whole book about Ivy adjusting to the outside and leaving Westfall and her family behind but that just wouldn’t have worked for the character or the series. Ivy gets to make peace with some of the issues of her past and her family. All while proving that her awful father and sister definitely never deserved her loyalty.

I’m a little sad the series is over. I wish it was longer, but at the same time I’m glad the author didn’t drag the story out. All of the questions I had were answered and the story wraps up pretty nicely. Not too perfect, but still hopeful for the future of the characters. Even though this book didn’t quite live up to my expectations I still enjoyed it and was happy with how the series ended.

 

 

About Amy Engel

Amy Engel

Amy Engel was born in Kansas and after a childhood spent bouncing between countries (Iran, Taiwan) and states (Kansas, California, Missouri, Washington, D.C.), she settled in Kansas City, Missouri where she lives with her husband and two kids.  Before devoting herself full time to motherhood and writing, she was a criminal defense attorney, which she says is not quite as exciting as it looks on TV.  :) When she has a free moment, she can usually be found reading, running, or shoe shopping.

Tamara @ Gone with the Words

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Review: Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta

2nd Mar 2016 Morgan @ Gone with the Words 2016, Reviews, Reviews by Morgan

Review: Finnikin of the Rock by Melina MarchettaFinnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta
Series: Lumatere Chronicles #1
Published by Candlewick Press
Pub Date: February 9th 2010
Pages: 401
Format: Paperback | Source: Purchased
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Buy the book! | Goodreads
4 Stars

At the age of nine, Finnikin's world is shattered by the five days of the unspeakable: the royal family of Lumatere is brutally murdered, an imposter seizes the throne, and a curse binds all who remain inside the kingdom's walls. Those who escape are left to roam as exiles.

Ten years later, Finnikin and his mentor, Sir Topher, are summoned to meet Evanjalin, a young novice with a startling claim: Balthazar, the heir to the throne of Lumatere and Finnikin's childhood friend, is alive, and she can lead Finnikin to him. Even as he suspects this arrogant young woman, Finnikin also begins to believe that Lumatere might one day be raised.

I didn’t know what to expect from Finnikin of the Rock except lots of glorious pain and ships, according to my friends. The premise has intrigued me for awhile and I’ve checked it out of the library at least twice without reading it. What can I say, fantasy does intimidate me sometimes! Buying a copy alleviated my fears of having to read it quickly although I ended up reading it in a couple days. I was captivated by Finnikin’s story, and the story of Skuldenore’s kingdoms. Most importantly, Lumatere!

The book was intricate and the world-building was exquisitely detailed. I loved learning more and more about the five days of the unspeakable as the book unfolded, and there was quite a lot of exciting action mixed in with the quiet character building moments. I thought Marchetta did a wonderful job with the politics between the kingdoms, and a good job of differentiating the kingdoms and cultures as well.

The characters were fierce and terribly interesting, down to the bit players. I can’t say much for fear of spoilers but we meet characters in the second half that I REALLY liked, although Evanjalin was my favorite from the start. She was so mysterious and captivating. And there are twists that I never saw coming! I will say that there is also a SUPER CUTE scene that I never expected because of the pain and darkness I was conditioned to expect, but it made me smile :)

I had a hard time connecting emotionally with the first half of the story; I wanted to keep reading and I liked Finnikin and his companions, but I didn’t have Feels. This is the main reason I can’t call the book a favorite (yet) and why I knocked off a star. The Feels came later. Lots of Feels in the last quarter especially. It was an enthralling, exciting, dramatic book with a brilliant juxtaposition between light and dark, and shades of gray, and I cant wait to continue the series (although frankly, I’m scared of what’s to come).

 

 

About Melina Marchetta

Melina Marchetta

Melina Marchetta’s writing career took off in 1992 when she published her first novel: Looking For Alibrandi. She later turned the story into a film script. The movie Looking for Alibrandi screened in theatres around Australia and the world from 2000.

Melina managed to combine writing with teaching English and History in secondary school for ten years up to 2006, when she committed to writing full-time. During that period, she released two novels, Saving Francesca and On the Jellicoe Road.

Her first fantasy novel, Finnikin of the Rock, was published in 2008. The Piper’s Son (a companion novel to Saving Francesca) was released in 2010. She has written a children’s book, The Gorgon in the Gully, as part of the Puffin Pocket Money series.

Her novels have been published in 17 languages in at least 18 countries. Melina lives in Sydney where she writes full time.

Morgan @ Gone with the Words

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Bitsy Words: The Art of Lainey by Paula Stokes

26th Feb 2016 Morgan @ Gone with the Words 2016, Bitsy Words, Contemporary Romance Reading Challenge, Reviews, Reviews by Morgan

Bitsy Words: The Art of Lainey by Paula Stokes

Bitsy Words: The Art of Lainey by Paula StokesThe Art of Lainey by Paula Stokes
Series: The Art of Lainey #1
Published by HarperTeen
Pub Date: May 20th 2014
Pages: 376
Format: Paperback | Source: Purchased
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Buy the book! | Goodreads
5 Stars

Soccer star Lainey Mitchell is gearing up to spend an epic summer with her amazing boyfriend, Jason, when he suddenly breaks up with her—no reasons, no warning, and in public no less! Lainey is more than crushed, but with help from her friend Bianca, she resolves to do whatever it takes to get Jason back.

And that’s when the girls stumble across a copy of The Art of War. With just one glance, they're sure they can use the book to lure Jason back into Lainey’s arms. So Lainey channels her inner warlord, recruiting spies to gather intel and persuading her coworker Micah to pose as her new boyfriend to make Jason jealous. After a few "dates", it looks like her plan is going to work! But now her relationship with Micah is starting to feel like more than just a game.

What's a girl to do when what she wants is totally different from what she needs? How do you figure out the person you're meant to be with if you're still figuring out the person you're meant to be? 

One of my favorite contemporaries from the past couple years is The Art of Lainey by Paula Stokes (I’ve read it twice!), so in honor of Valentine’s Day this month, here are a few reasons why:

  • It is very swoony and full of banter, and fake dating, and hate-to-love. Basically all of my favorite romantic tropes.
  • I loved Lainey’s character arc, watching her transform from who she thought she should be to who she actually is. It was very well done.
  • I loved the secondary characters, including Lainey’s spacey family, her friend Bianca, and Micah’s sister.
  • MICAH. I. LOVED. MICAH. He was something else. He’s sarcastic but secretly sweet, he’s mysterious, he’s a baker (!!). And the sizzling chemistry he has with Lainey is undeniable.
  • Time to board the ship!!! I marked a bazillion of my favorite Micah/Lainey moments, including my always favorite soccer scene.
  • There is a minor character that reminds me of Chris Evans, always a plus.

Micah would most definitely not approve, but Does He Know by One Direction totally makes me think of this one particular scene between Micah and Lainey at a music show. It reminds me of Lainey coming out of her shell and how she lets Micah see that side of her, a side that she kept hidden from her ex Jason. So now whenever I hear it, I can’t help thinking of Lainey and Micah :)

Do you agree? Have you read The Art of Lainey? Let me know!

 

 

Morgan @ Gone with the Words

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Review: Blood Kiss by J.R. Ward

23rd Feb 2016 Jess @ Gone with the Words 2016, Reviews, Reviews by Jess

Review: Blood Kiss by J.R. WardBlood Kiss by J.R. Ward
Narrator: Jim Frangione
Series: Black Dagger Legacy #1
Published by Signet
Pub Date: December 1st 2015
Pages: 397
Length: 12 hrs and 39 mins
Format: Audiobook, Paperback | Source: Publisher
Genres: Adult, Paranormal, Romance
Buy the book! | Goodreads
4 Stars

The legacy of the Black Dagger Brotherhood continues in a spin-off series from the #1 New York Times bestselling author…

Paradise, blooded daughter of the king’s First Advisor, is ready to break free from the restrictive life of an aristocratic female. Her strategy? Join the Black Dagger Brotherhood’s training center program and learn to fight for herself, think for herself…be herself. It’s a good plan, until everything goes wrong. The schooling is unfathomably difficult, the other recruits feel more like enemies than allies, and it’s very clear that the Brother in charge, Butch O’Neal, a.k.a. the Dhestroyer, is having serious problems in his own life.

And that’s before she falls in love with a fellow classmate. Craeg, a common civilian, is nothing her father would ever want for her, but everything she could ask for in a male. As an act of violence threatens to tear apart the entire program, and the erotic pull between them grows irresistible, Paradise is tested in ways she never anticipated—and left wondering whether she’s strong enough to claim her own power…on the field, and off.

I was so excited when I found out J.R. Ward was writing a spin-off series that would feature a new cast of BDB trainees AS WELL AS THE ORIGINAL BROTHERS. Here’s her exact description of this spin-off:

“the BDB training center is reopened to a new cast of recruits, and THE ORIGINAL BROTHERS teach these FNUGs wassup. In the process of the new recruits falling in love and getting into a sh*t ton of trouble, THE ORIGINAL BROTHERS could be shown with their shellans, their Brothers, their people in the mansion, in a more prominent way than I’m able to do in the BDB books.” (read her full post about it HERE)

Yup. And it was everything I wanted it to be. Ok, lets dive right in!

I love the way the Brothers weeded through all their program applicants. It was totally smart and it definitely worked in getting the best of the best. Paradise and Craeg are two of those new trainees. We’d briefly met them in The Shadows and I knew then that it was going to make for a winner of book. I was right! I loved that Paradise was the one actively pursuing him and he was really fighting it. Get it, girl! The tone was perfectly set too. They are young compared to all the other characters in BDB, and you really get that sense from them. It was first love and all that comes with it. It was also refreshing to not have this couple getting mated at the end of the book. I found myself wondering toward the beginning if they would, and kind of hoped they wouldn’t because they’re still young. And by young, I mean early to mid 20s. At least, that’s the age they came across to me.

Ok, so as far the originals, we get to revisit Butch and Marissa in this one. We also get a lot of the other brothers in the beginning with the trainee stuff. It was so much fun. Butch and Marissa had some issues to work through though, and that wasn’t always pretty. I felt Marissa had some really valid issues that Butch needed to face and move past and I was glad of the outcome. And since Butch was featured in this one, that meant that Vishous was alllll over this one too.

Man, I love me some V. He has some great moments in this book. :)

Blood Kiss is exactly how you spin-off a series. Fantastic job by JR Ward. I can’t wait to read more!

 

 

Jess @ Gone with the Words

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Review: The Memory of After by Lenore Appelhans

21st Dec 2015 Rubi @ Gone with the Words 2015, Reviews, Reviews by Rubi

Review: The Memory of After by Lenore AppelhansThe Memory of After by Lenore Appelhans
Series: The Memory Chronicles #1
Published by Simon & Schuster BFYR
Pub Date: September 3rd 2013
Pages: 281
Format: Paperback | Source: Borrowed
Genres: Dystopian, Romance, Sci-Fi, Young Adult
Buy the book! | Goodreads
2 Stars

Ever since she was killed in a car accident just before her eighteenth birthday, Felicia Ward has been trapped in the afterlife. She spends the endless hours uploading and re-watching memories from her time on Earth, missing the people she left behind - especially her boyfriend, Neil.

That all changes when Julian, a dangerously charming acquaintance from Felicia's life, appears in her memory chamber. He offers her a chance to escape: If Felicia joins the rebellion to overthrow the Morati, the angels in charge of Level 2, she'll be free to move on. Wary of trusting Julian, Felicia only agrees when he promises her the chance to be with Neil again. But there's more to this battle than anyone, even Julian, knows, and Felicia finds herself at the center of an eternal struggle between good and evil.

I’ll start off by saying that The Memory of After is a lot more religious & fantasy than I originally thought it would be. The story is told from Felicia’s point of view and takes place in what is referred to as Phase 2.

Phase 2 is the equivalent to a Catholic’s Purgatory. It’s a sort of “limbo” where souls go after they pass, and they remain here until they have come to terms with their deaths. The setup for this Phase 2 world is described as a beehive-like structure, and the copy I read from even had a map, but it just didn’t match at all with the descriptions in the book which only made the world harder to visualize.

In this Phase 2, souls spend their time in pods where they play back memories from when they were alive. The whole memories concept works like YouTube. Basically, you can share your memories with others and collect credits every time someone watches your memories. You could tag your memories with key phrases that you think will attract an audience and the more your videos are played, the more credits you would earn. Since Felicia, our main character, did a lot of traveling when she was alive, she has racked up plenty of credits which she can then use to watch other’s memories.

Anther concept I really enjoyed was that of the Morati and how they came to be. They are the angels that watch over everyone in Phase 2. The idea of them holding a grudge against their creator and doing things to retaliate was brilliant! This book is like nothing I’ve read before. With that being said, I was disappointed that this idea wasn’t fully thought out. A lot of the explanations made little to no sense to me and I felt confused more than once.

My biggest problem with The Memory of After was the character building. I just couldn’t connect to any of the characters. Not one. I thought our main character, Felicia, was very immature and a horrible friend. Also, I couldn’t understand her obsession with Neil who she knew/dated when she was still alive for a little more than 12 minutes. The whole thing just seemed odd to me. Julian’s character was okay, but he could’ve been killed off and I wouldn’t have been bothered.

Overall, I thought it was a super cool idea for a book and bonus points for being different from anything I’ve read before, but I couldn’t connect with any of the characters & the world building was really poor. I checked out Chasing Before from my public library, so I might still read book 2 just to see this story’s conclusion

Rubi @ Gone with the Words

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Bitsy Words: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

18th Dec 2015 Rubi @ Gone with the Words 2015, Bitsy Words, Reviews, Reviews by Rubi

Bitsy Words: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Bitsy Words: The Alchemist by Paulo CoelhoThe Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
Published by HarperCollins
Pub Date: May 1st 1993
Pages: 197
Format: Paperback | Source: Purchased
Buy the book! | Goodreads
5 Stars

aulo Coelho's enchanting novel has inspired a devoted following around the world. This story, dazzling in its powerful simplicity and inspiring wisdom, is about an Andalusian shepherd boy named Santiago who travels from his homeland in Spain to the Egyptian desert in search of a treasure buried in the Pyramids. Along the way he meets a Gypsy woman, a man who calls himself king, and an alchemist, all of whom point Santiago in the direction of his quest. No one knows what the treasure is, or if Santiago will be able to surmount the obstacles along the way. But what starts out as a journey to find worldly goods turns into a discovery of the treasure found within. Lush, evocative, and deeply humane, the story of Santiago is an eternal testament to the transforming power of our dreams and the importance of listening to our hearts.

This book was filled with quotes I want engraved in my brain for life! My only regret was deciding to read it while taking a bubble bath, because I didn’t have any sticky tabs to bookmark all these amazing quotes.

“I don’t live in either my past or my future. I’m interested only in the present. If you can concentrate always on the present, you’ll be a happy man. Life will be a party for you, a grand festival, because life is the moment we’re living now.”

The Alchemist is a story of a shepherd boy named Santiago who sets off on a journey in hopes of achieving what he feels is his destiny. Along this journey he meets several people that help him on his way and others that hinder him. Several times he is faced with having to choose between stopping in his tracks or continuing to his final destination. Santiago’s struggle was very relatable because we’ve all been there. At some point in life, we think we know what we are destined for and are faced with the decision of fighting for our dreams or settling for what is comfortable. Throughout Santiago’s journey, you find yourself rooting for him to not give up but also understanding his reasoning for wanting to stop.

“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.”

Santiago’s story is inspiring and written in such a beautiful way! It reads like a fairy tale and that only helped to make it even more intriguing. Not only will I revisit this book again before this year is over, but I am positive that I will read it many times to come!

“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”

 

 

Rubi @ Gone with the Words

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Review: Chasing River by K.A. Tucker

30th Nov 2015 Tamara @ Gone with the Words 2015, Reviews, Reviews by Tamara

Review: Chasing River by K.A. TuckerChasing River by K.A. Tucker
Series: Burying Water #3
Published by Atria Books
Pub Date: July 7th 2015
Pages: 322
Format: Paperback | Source: Borrowed
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
Buy the book! | Goodreads
3.5 Stars

Armed with two years' worth of savings and the need to experience life outside the bubble of her Oregon small town, twenty-five-year old Amber Welles is prepared for anything. Except dying in Dublin. Had it not been for the bravery of a stranger, she might have. But he takes off before she has the chance to offer her gratitude.

Twenty-four-year-old River Delaney is rattled. No one was supposed to get hurt. But then that American tourist showed up. He couldn't let her die, but he also couldn't risk being identified at the scene—so, he ran. Back to his everyday life of running his family’s pub. Only, everyday life is getting more and more complicated, thanks to his brother, Aengus, and his criminal associations. When the American girl tracks River down, he quickly realizes how much he likes her, how wrong she is for him. And how dangerous it is to have her around. Chasing her off would be the smart move.

Maybe it's because he saved her life, or maybe it's because he's completely different from everything she's left behind, but Amber finds herself chasing after River Delaney. Amber isn’t the kind of girl to chase after anyone.

And River isn't the kind of guy she'd want to catch.

Amber Welles has spent years saving up for a trip around the world. Amber is a nurse and the twin sister of Jesse Welles, who was a main character in Burying Water. She is finally taking the trip of a lifetime to see the world, and now she’s in Ireland. While she’s there she gets into a dangerous situation and is saved by a mysterious stranger, a stranger she just can’t seem to forget.

K.A. Tucker is one of my favorite New Adult authors. I just love her stories and can’t get enough of this series. I love getting to explore the new characters as well as getting little glimpses as to how the other characters are doing after their stories have ended. Amber was introduced in Burying Water and it’s nice to see more of her. Amber has always been the good girl, the sheriff’s daughter, and no one actually believed she would take this trip on her own and leave her small town. She ends up proving them all wrong.

River is the mysterious stranger that saves Amber’s life. I really enjoyed his character and the way there was so much history incorporated in his story. I actually learned a lot about Irish history and the IRA from reading this book. Especially considering the only thing I knew about the IRA is what I saw on Sons of Anarchy.

I liked the way the romance developed between Amber and River. They are an unlikely couple, but are perfect for each other at the same time. I mean, who wouldn’t fall for a guy that saves your life? River has a lot of secrets and family drama going on and Amber has to decide whether or not she’s okay with it all. There’s really good suspense and drama in this story and sometimes it really had you at the edge of your seat and worried about the fates of the different characters.

Chasing River is another K.A. Tucker hit for me. She just can’t seem to do any wrong in my eyes. I really loved the romance and each of the main characters. This is a great installment of the series. A fresh, new story that had me entertained and engaged from start to finish.

 

Tamara @ Gone with the Words

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Review: The Virgin’s Daughter by Laura Andersen

26th Oct 2015 Morgan @ Gone with the Words 2015, Reviews, Reviews by Morgan

Review: The Virgin’s Daughter by Laura AndersenThe Virgin's Daughter by Laura Andersen
Series: Tudor Legacy #1
Published by Ballantine Books
Pub Date: May 26th 2015
Pages: 368
Format: Paperback | Source: Author
Genres: Adult, Historical
Buy the book! | Goodreads
5 Stars

Since the death of her brother, William, Elizabeth I has ruled England. She’s made the necessary alliances, married Philip of Spain, and produced a successor: her only daughter, Anne Isabella, Princess of Wales. Elizabeth knows that her beloved Anabel will be a political pawn across Europe unless she can convince Philip to grant her a divorce, freeing him to remarry and give Spain its own heir. But the enemies of England have even greater plans for the princess, a plot that will put Anabel’s very life and the security of the nation in peril. Only those closest to Elizabeth—her longtime confidante Minuette, her advisor and friend Dominic, and the couple’s grown children—can be trusted to carry forth a most delicate and dangerous mission. Yet, all of the queen’s maneuverings may ultimately prove her undoing.

I won a finished copy of this book from the author’s website, though I would have purchased it in any case. This did not affect my review in any way.

The Virgin’s Daughter made me giddy for a multitude of reasons (in no particular order):

-It’s a sequel trilogy to the Boleyn King trilogy, so there are many favorite recurring characters that were such fun to catch up with. Definitely older, sometimes sneakier, sometimes wiser ;) For this reason (and despite the spoilers in the synopsis), I really recommend reading The Boleyn King– it’s EXCELLENT and you’ll get so much more out of Laura Andersen’s Tudor England.

-It’s alternate history that feels like real history. I was enmeshed in the Tudor court, the English countryside, the French manor homes. It feels familiar as a history buff for those reasons but because it’s an alternate timeline, you don’t know how events will actually transpire or turn out! Elizabeth never had a daughter in real life, so how am I to know if Anabel will become Queen one day or who she will marry? I don’t! It adds a delicious layer of tension and excitement to the story. Plus there are really good ships! ;)

-The spies and mystery: the rotating POVs gave the impression of an unreliable narrator, which was great- loyalty, betrayal, treachery,and murder abound. You don’t know who to trust or who is telling the truth. In the end the reader got to know the truth before the characters, or some of the truth anyway, and it made me so nervous and tense!!! I wanted everyone to uncover the secrets already!

-THE CHARACTERS! Both real (Elizabeth I, Mary Queen of Scots) and imagined (Julien LeClerc, Princess Anabel). They are vivid, they are passionate, and they are vibrant. I absolutely loved Lucette Courtenay and her puzzle solving mind. I swooned over Julien, and I loved seeing how much of Anabel’s personality reflected her fiery mother, who in turn is as fully fleshed out as you could wish. Elizabeth is fierce, demanding, and powerful, but has softer moments as well. It humanizes her.

If you’re a history fan with Tudor fatigue, I highly recommend this book! Laura Andersen’s writing feels both familiar to fans of historical fiction and original in its subject matter and characterization. It’s a great twist on English history. The Virgin’s Daughter is compulsively readable, action-packed, descriptive, twisty, and romantic. I can’t wait for the next book.

gwtw-separate-line

And in case you love audiobooks, check out this clip from THE VIRGIN’S DAUGHTER:

 

Buy it at Audible.com!

 

 

Morgan @ Gone with the Words

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Review: Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid

12th Oct 2015 Rubi @ Gone with the Words 2015, Reviews, Reviews by Rubi

Review: Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins ReidMaybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Published by Washington Square Press
Pub Date: July 7th 2015
Pages: 352
Format: Paperback | Source: Purchased
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Women's Fiction
Buy the book! | Goodreads
5 Stars

From the acclaimed author of Forever, Interrupted and After I Do comes a breathtaking new novel about a young woman whose fate hinges on the choice she makes after bumping into an old flame; in alternating chapters, we see two possible scenarios unfold—with stunningly different results.

At the age of twenty-nine, Hannah Martin still has no idea what she wants to do with her life. She has lived in six different cities and held countless meaningless jobs since graduating college. On the heels of leaving yet another city, Hannah moves back to her hometown of Los Angeles and takes up residence in her best friend Gabby’s guestroom. Shortly after getting back to town, Hannah goes out to a bar one night with Gabby and meets up with her high school boyfriend, Ethan.

Just after midnight, Gabby asks Hannah if she’s ready to go. A moment later, Ethan offers to give her a ride later if she wants to stay. Hannah hesitates. What happens if she leaves with Gabby? What happens if she leaves with Ethan?

In concurrent storylines, Hannah lives out the effects of each decision. Quickly, these parallel universes develop into radically different stories with large-scale consequences for Hannah, as well as the people around her. As the two alternate realities run their course, Maybe in Another Life raises questions about fate and true love: Is anything meant to be? How much in our life is determined by chance? And perhaps, most compellingly: Is there such a thing as a soul mate?

Hannah believes there is. And, in both worlds, she believes she’s found him.

This is a story about 29 year old Hannah Martin who has recently moved back to her hometown of Los Angeles. During a night out with her best friend Gabby, she runs into her high school sweetheart, Ethan. Gabby is ready to head home, but Ethan offers to give Hannah a ride if she wants to hang out a little longer. So, does she go home or take up Ethan on his offer? In Maybe in Another Life, the story splits into two storylines and we get to see the aftermath of both decisions. I’m someone who usually thinks through every possible outcome of every decision I make, so I was totally sold as soon as I read the synopsis. I couldn’t wait to see how the two parallel realities developed!

“I know there may be universes out there where I made different choices and they led me somewhere else, led me to someone else. And my heart breaks for every single version of me that didn’t end up with you.”

Hannah was a character that I quickly fell in love with. I could really relate to her in some ways. She was someone who didn’t want to settle anywhere because it never felt like she fully belonged. She moved around the US quite a bit, changed jobs frequently, and dated more than Taylor Swift. She loved wearing her hair in a bun and spent her days daydreaming about heavily iced cinnamon rolls. <— All of that basically describes me 2-3 years ago. (Hair buns and cinnamon rolls are still a must!) Slowly things started clicking into place for me, I found true happiness, and then I finally allowed myself to set down roots. Nothing was perfect about the way things fell into place for Hannah, but it was all fate when looking at the big picture.

Her friendship with Gabby was also something I totally loved. That friendship was a constant in both storylines and being able to see Gabby’s life play out along with Hannah’s was exciting! I was so happy that the author doesn’t add any unnecessary cattiness between the two just to spice up the story. These girls share a genuine bond and that’s always a big plus for me.

Taylor Jenkins Reid is a genius! This is the first book of hers I’ve read, but as soon as I closed it I jumped on Amazon to order her other two books Forever, Interrupted and After I do. There’s just something about her writing. She doesn’t overdo the dramatics or play up a plot twist just for shock value. As readers, we constantly find ourselves rooting for a specific outcome, but Reid is so brilliant that it allowed me to just trust her choices. I would’ve been perfectly fine with whatever ending she gave this book, but the one she chose was very fitting. The entire idea of the multiverse theory was fascinating!  Some might be left with a sense of wonder; I was left with a sense of peace.

“My fate will find me.” -Hannah

Let me know in the comments below if you’ve read this book before and what you thought of it! Also, look out for reviews on her other two books soon!

 

Rubi @ Gone with the Words

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