Moonlight Over Manhattan (From Manhattan With Love #6) by Sarah Morgan- a 5/5 Star Review!

Yet another great book in Sarah Morgan’s From Manhattan With Love series! This is the 6th book in the series but all books can be read as a standalone, in my opinion.  See reviews: #1#2#3#4#5, & BONUS!

Harriet has lived a sheltered life, protected by her older brother Daniel and twin sister Fliss. But when Daniel finds true love and Fliss is reconnected with the love of her life, Harriet is left to figure out life on her own. She comes up with a plan: Challenge Harriet. Every day until Christmas she is going to do one thing outside of her comfort zone whether it is to go on blind dates or wear stilettos, she is going to do it.

Dr. Ethan Black is an ER doctor and married to his job with no time for anything else. That is, until his sister calls in a favor-to dogsit. Fortunately, his sister has been a long-standing customer with The Bark Rangers and her dogwalker, Harriet, will help out. After an incident with the dog, Dr. Ethan Black loses his temper and Harriet’s stammer from childhood returns. Can Harriet overcome this Challenge working with Dr. Ethan Black?

As I said earlier, this love story is another great one by Sarah Morgan. I think I say this with each new book that she releases in this series, but this one is my new favorite! It has the magic of Christmas mixed with unexpected romance and overcoming complicated pasts. A beautiful combination of the three made me giddy while reading this book. I kept forcing myself to stop every couple of chapters because I wanted to savor the book rather than speed through-which was a Challenge!

I would absolutely recommend this book (and the other books in this series) to any adult reader who enjoys romance with comical moments. Also for readers who enjoy reading character development and overcoming the past to find themselves. This fast-paced book showed strong character development not only with Harriet, but with Ethan as well.

I would not recommend this book for readers who may be sensitive to or offended by mild foul language, violence, and sexual scenarios.

Please note: an electronic copy of this book was generously provided for free by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review (thank you!).

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These Vicious Masks (These Vicious Masks #1) by Tarun Shanker & Kelly Zekas, Narrated by Heather Wilds- a 1/5 Star Review

 

Please note: A AudioCD copy of this book was generously provided for free through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program, in exchange for an honest review.

Piper by Jay Asher & Jessica Freeburg, Illustrated by Jeff Stokely-a 4/5 Star Review!

I had the exciting opportunity to meet and see a presentation by the author Jay Asher recently (Thanks to my local Westerville Public Library for hosting!).  Although he is very nice, funny, and everyone should go see him if they get a chance-I left really excited because of his next book that was being released: Piper.

Piper is a graphic novel collaboratively written by authors Jay Asher and Jessica Freeburg and illustrated by Jeff Stokely.  It is a retelling of the Pied Piper and the twist is that his music does not affect one person: Maggie.  Maggie is a deaf girl, hence why his music does not endanger her.  Maggie’s hearing was lost due to an act of violent bullying and the injustice only stems from there as villagers continue to bully her relentlessly.  Yet she continues to make the best of it by telling funny stories to her caretaker, Agathe.

The Pied Piper heroically comes to save the village from the rat infestation that has wiped out the population with starvation and/or disease.  But this rescue comes at a price.  A price that the village decides not to pay once the deed is done.  But if they refuse to pay in cash, they will have to pay at a different price-revenge.

Graphic Novels are something that I have only recently begun to develop an interest in, my first being Brian K. Vaughn’s Saga series.  I simply must find more graphic novels that have been illustrated by Jeff Stokely as the artwork is marvelous.  The expressions of the characters, the movement of the wind, and the playful innocence portrayed in a single panel where the Pied Piper is eating an apple under a tree in front of a peacock, for example.  I was just so moved by the illustrations and they greatly improved the storyline.

Personally, I was hoping for more out of the character of Maggie.  I was initially so excited about this graphic novel because it centered around a deaf character.  Both of my parents are deaf and so I expected great things from this character but I was a little disappointed.  I had to take a star away because it seemed like being deaf only came into play when someone walked up behind her and scared her, when she was incorrectly pronouncing words when Agathe wrote down her stories, or when she was being bullied.  I just wish a little more research would have gone into her character because although lip-reading is a way to communicate, there was not any sign language at all.  Granted, I was not expecting American Sign Language in a story based in the medieval times, some home signs between Agathe and Maggie would have been redeeming.  Furthermore, going back to the sneaking up behind her example, when I try to sneak up on my parents, they can feel the vibrations from my walking behind them and it doesn’t always work.  What is failed to be mentioned is that when you lose one sense, the other senses get stronger.

Although I had to take one (slightly biased) star away, the story itself is minimalist yet powerful.  The elements of greed and the despicable villagers are well-balanced by the purity and optimism of Maggie and Agathe despite their tragic situation. Another well-balanced aspect in this story is how both of their backgrounds are isolated, tragic, and yet they find hope in one another.  Furthermore, when they go in different directions, they still protect one another making their love story even more emotional.

I also enjoyed that this was a retelling of the Pied Piper as I thought that was unique.  So many fairy tale retellings have centered around the princesses and Red Riding Hood lately that this one stands out.  And since I heard about it, Eminem’s song “Lose Yourself” has been stuck in my head:

I was playing in the beginning, the mood all changed

I’ve been chewed up and spit out and booed off stage

But I kept rhymin’ and stepped right in the next cypher

Best believe somebody’s paying the Pied Piper

In conclusion, I would recommend Piper for readers who enjoy retellings, tragic love stories, unexpected heroes, and graphic novels.

I would not recommend Piper for those who may be offended on how Maggie’s deafness is portrayed, or those who may be offended or triggered by bullying, violence, kidnapping, and revenge.

Poison by Galt Niederhoffer- DNF at 20%

There are too many great books out there for me to waste time on books like Poison. It felt like I was reading a basic outline of a piece of fiction rather than a completed novel. I skimmed through a lot of this 20% that I did read because the writing style is excessive yet basic. For example, when describing the wife it was something along the lines of saying she’s a former single mother of two, now baby makes three, and new husband makes a family of five. She works from home, requiring a babysitter so she can work while at home, working on the household chores while working, baby screaming while she’s on the phone, covering the phone with her hand to block out the screams, yet keeping a professional tone despite the maternal desire to soothe the baby.

I wish I could say that was an extreme example, however, I do not think it was that far of a stretch. It was excessively wordy yet not really revealing anything. The new husband is also excessive. He is over the top in the examples of how seemingly perfect he is supposed to be that I already did not trust him within the first few pages. It is clear that he is a bad guy, but what is not clear yet is why and how. I am sure that is further discussed in the book but, quite frankly, I just don’t care.

Please note: An electronic copy of this book was generously provided for free from the Publisher via NetGalley in exhcange for an honest review (thank you!).

The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-Garcia- a 3/5 Star Review

Antonina (“Nina”) Beaulieu is headstrong, passionate, and finally escaping the countryside to enter her first season in London. Instructed by her dispassionate and downright mean cousin, Valerie, to hide her telekinetic powers, Nina does not do a very good job of keeping it a secret. Mostly because she does not know how to control them (kind of like Elsa before she gets her gloves in Disney’s Frozen). She finally gets the chance to meet someone like her, Hector Auvray, who can help her rein her powers in until appropriate. But it’s not just her powers that attract Hector’s attention. It’s her connection to the one true love he could never get over; her cousin Valerie.

I took away one star because of the slow pace and how often it is beat into the reader’s head that Valerie is the villain. Although I appreciate that the reasoning for her cold and greedy heart was given, it still was too forced that she was the antagonist.

I took another star away for two reasons:

1. I did not get attached to the romance between Nina and Hector. I thought it was very immature and overly dramatic.

2. It is touted as sci-fi but that only came to the telekinetic powers that Nina and Hector have. I understand that the telekinetic element is supposed to unify Hector and Nina as it is something that they share as well as makes them outsiders in society, however, it didn’t scream science fiction to me.

When it comes to characters, my favorite was Entienne, Hector’s friend. He was calm, loyal, and had a dry, frank sense of humor. If there were to be anything further done with this plot, be it a sequel or spin-off, I do so hope it focuses on Entienne. He honestly saved the book for me at the points where I was tempted to put it down and be done with it. The other supporting characters seemed to be either shallow or weak. I can see why Valerie’s husband Gaetan should be weak (for the most part) to balance Valerie’s ferocity, however, it was still somewhat redundant.

I would recommend this book for readers who enjoy a manipulative and selfish villain. I would also recommend this book for readers who enjoy telekinesis. Lastly, I would recommend this book for readers who enjoy insects, particularly beetles, as they play a large part in the plot.

I would not recommend this book for readers who may be triggered or offended by the following: mild foul language, suggestions of adultery, bullying, manipulation, and attempted murder.

Please note: an electronic copy of this book was generously provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review (thank you!).

Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak- A 3 Star Review!

The Birches have much reason to celebrate this holiday season. Their daughter Olivia is coming home for Christmas, for once. Olivia is a doctor returning from a trip to Liberia where the Haag epidemic has been traumatizing and she is forced into quarantine for 7 days after her return. Joining her will be her mother, Emma, who is keeping a major secret so as not to ruin Christmas. Also present will be her father, Andrew, who writes a column reviewing restaurants and his secret from more than three decades ago will make an appearance. Then her sister, Phoebe, who demands the attention of everyone, still lives at home with her parents, and is planning her wedding during the quarantine. Can they get past the miscommunication and secrets to have a happy Christmas or will the secrets prepare for a battle of betrayal?

It took a long time to pick up speed. Little bread crumbs had been dropped along the way which did build up to the second half, however, the first half was so slow that I was tempted many times to move on to another book. Fortunately, I did make it through and it picked up very quickly after about 60% into the book. A great portion of it was predictable, yet the character development finally comes through and I could not put the book down.

I gave it three stars because I took one star away for how long it took for the story to pick up speed and therefore the amount of times that I was almost at the point of giving up. I took another star away because there were far too many coincidences with the characters and too many secrets that it became overwhelming at times. When Jesse met Emma, for example, and she reveals her secret to him, a stranger. Emma then went on to meet Sean, Olivia’s secret. Jesse also met George, Phoebe’s fiancee, randomly while on a walk and again randomly in a bar and discovered his secret.

I would (and have) recommended this book for those who have traveled to Africa and feel that the warfare and politics of Africa are far too easily ignored in the West. Additionally, for those who feel that the rest of the world groups Africa into one general concept rather than it being an entire continent. I would also recommend this book for readers who enjoy reading about family dynamics and secrets being revealed. Much like (one of my favorite authors) Liane Moriarty books, that are told in different perspectives and center around secrets.

I would not recommend this book for those who may be offended or triggered by: foul language, cancer, sibling rivalry, homophobia, infidelity, infectious diseases, and warfare in Liberia.

Please note: an advanced reader copy of this book was generously provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review (thank you Berkley Publishing Group!)

The Switch by Lynsay Sands-a 4/5 Star Review!

Twins Charlotte (“Charlie”) and Beth are running away from their horrid uncle who is marrying them off to the highest, and most scoundrel, bidder to pay off his steep debt. They are caught in the act of running away by a Lord Radcliffe who decides to take them under his wing for awhile until they can get on their feet and get to London. He doesn’t know the half of the story, however, as he believes he is helping a lad named Charles (Charlie disguised as a man) and his sister Beth.

Hooray for another fun romance and adventure story from Lynsay Sands! This author is quickly climbing up the charts of my favorite authors (see my review for Love is Blind here) and I am so glad my friend recommended her to me (Thanks Laura! 🙂 ). There was adventure, surprise twists, embarrassing moments that had me blushing for the characters, mixed with warmth of friendship and steamy romantic scenes. The concept of the twin girls playing brother and sister and switching roles was unique. Especially as the romance is concerned when Radcliffe finds himself attracted to the sister at times and confused by his attraction to the brother at other times.

The bond of sisterhood between Beth and Charlie was very relatable. The compromises that they made for each other and their strong sense of loyalty to one another reminded me fondly of the relationship with my sister and I. Although I am not a twin as they are, how they developed separately yet still tied to one another resonated with me.

The only thing that I had to take one star away for was that the narrative would switch between Charlie and Radcliffe without distinction which I found to be confusing at times. It was also confusing when Radcliffe was called Jeremy only in the last few pages when he had been called Lord Radcliffe the entire book.

That being said, I did really enjoy the book! I loved the main character, Charlie, and how strong, fearless, selfless, and full of integrity she was throughout the story. I found it incredibly endearing how Radcliffe took Beth and Charlie under his wing and then Charlie took Bessie, puppies, and a mother and her 2 children and then another orphan under her wing, that was still under Radcliffe’s wing. It was like an umbrella effect and my love for the book grew as their troop expanded.

I would recommend this book for those who enjoy a hilarious love story with an underlying theme of loyalty. Furthermore, I would recommend this book for readers who enjoy historical romances with adventure, twists, and puppies!

I would not recommend this book for readers who may be triggered or offended by gambling addiction, prostitution, suicide, alcohol addiction, explicitly sexual scenarios, kidnapping, violence, mild foul language, and murder.