Thursday, January 26, 2017

Love and Gravity by Sam Sotto | ARC | A Book Review

Love and Gravity by Sam Sotto | ARC | A Book Review

I was not able to sleep right away after reading this last night. A lingering sadness had permeated into my soul. On the contrary, the story had a happy ending but not for everyone. I think not for Isaac. Yes, the man himself, Mr. Gravity and Calculus--Isaac Newton. My heart bleeds for him.

I think this is going to be my most beautiful read of 2017. I know, seems pretty premature. But allow me to convince you why.

First, the writing is poignant, melancholy and poetic at the same time. It is brimming with rapturous and clever words and metaphors that will strike you and stick with you. They will endlessly tug and pull hard on your heartstrings. This story will entrance you with the melody of a cello that is both sweet and bitter. This will turn you inside out with its vivid descriptions. It's as if it's almost possible that I can play the cello just by following Andrea's tutorials in this book.

What is it with stories with cellos? Remember, If I stay? I don't know, but me reading stories with cellos are always a sweet and emotional combination. It always turns out to be both a happy and heartrending journey. I think a note from a cello can turn the hardest heart of stone into mush, can crack the hardest shell open and can warm the coldest of hearts. Its hypnotic melody can render anyone vulnerable to get carried away and helplessly surrender to get swallowed by its whispering notes and then lose oneself in its music. I can't imagine anyone who listens to a cello being played and not grew serious. Its song will demand your full attention and compel you to take it seriously. I can still hear in my head the enchanting songs played by Andrea on her cello. 

This time travel between worlds, three hundred years apart, was done seamlessly and magically. I can find no fault in it but let myself be swept away in this timeless tale of friendship, family, love and discoveries. Isaac Newton was made flesh and blood in this story. Like all of us, he grew up with life's trials hanging over his head and was at the mercy of his tormentors. This larger-than-life brilliant historical figure was made human and even more admirable because of his flaws. The sad and humble beginnings of how he came to be one of the greatest. 

The story won't allow you to predict and prepare for what's coming next. You will be forced to give up your theories and assumptions of where the story will take you. You will have to trust that it will take you far beyond your expectations. It will most definitely not disappoint but still it will leave you sad, if not mellowed, once you have reached the conclusion. It's ironic. The ending made sure that all misunderstandings and doubts were resolved but still you can't help ending up in tears. Maybe because of relief yet not quite happy tears. That was how it was for me. 

This story had me thinking a lot of questions. I was curious if the author was once a cello prodigy. Was Isaac Newton her favorite of all the brilliant scientist in history? Were science and math her favorite subjects? Was the author fascinated by discoveries, tinkering and creating new things out of scattered and useless objects? Did she at one time want to be a scientist? Some of these questions were answered on the facts about the author.

I give this book all the apples in Woolsthorpe Manor orchard--5/5. This story will effortlessly and easily crawl its way into your heart and would never leave. I am so proud that another Filipino has broken into the halls of international novel writing. Miss Samantha Sotto, you have totally made it. This book is proof. I won't be surprised if this one ends up on the New York Time's Bestsellers' List. Thank you so much for this opportunity to read your amazing work. I am definitely a fan and a proud kababayan. Congratulations!!!



We try to get what has been forbidden for us, and we always want whatever we have been refused.
- Ovid, Amores - 


His words were made from the darkest hot chocolate, every sound creamy, comforting, and spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.

- Samanta Sotto, Love and Gravity -








B.U.G. (Charlie Jones #1) by T J Slee | A Book Review

B.U.G. (Charlie Jones #1) by TJ Slee | A Book Review

Buggered Up Good. This is the first book in the Charlie Jones Series. I actually read the second book first. I got this from the author. He was asking for people who wanted to read his book. I replied to his post on Goodreads that I read Cloister and wanted to read how the series started. End of story, he gave me a paperback. Thank you again, T J Slee.

After reading Cloister, I was not sure if I liked Charlie Jones. She was vulgar and too brash and she was a novice at that time in the nunnery. But after reading this book, I came to understand where Charlie Jones came from. This book made me like her. I think she is really a good secret service agent with a lot of spunk and sarcasm. 

This was a marvelous start to a series. It has introduced and built the character of Charlie Jones as a person and as a spy. Her smart ass comments and banter with Jenno always generates a smile from me. I really love the back and forth between them. I also liked that Jones loves to give his officemates and friends nicknames which are really witty and also sarcastic. What made me soften to Jones was her brutal honesty and being unassuming. She knows herself and the limits of her abilities. She is aware that she doesn't know and understand everything all the time. She admits to her frailties and acknowledges the mountain of challenges that she faces. 

The best part of this book is the unconventional confessional conversations between Jones and her confessor priest. They are outrageously hilarious and I can feel the holy father's utmost effort in being patient with Jones. Often times, the holy father is on the verge of his irritation with Jones but because it is Jones, he has to reign in it as though dealing with a petulant and stubborn child. Jones, on the other hand, does not hide that fact that she is testing the limits of the priest's self-control every time.

I give this book 4/5 cups of black coffee. Though Jones has the propensity to get hurt and end up in the hospital most of the time, she is shaping up to be a really valuable spy. I think she is slowly worming her way to becoming my second favorite spy after of Mrs. Emily Pollifax.



The only call I hear right now is the call of nature, Father. So, it's three Hail Marys and join an order?
- T J Slee, B.U.G. -


The Prometheus Man by Scott Reardon | A Book Review

 The Prometheus Man by Scott Reardon | A Book Review

I think this is my first Scott Reardon read. I could not be sure since I think I have heard of the last name before but maybe it was another author. I got this copy from Netgalley. Thank you.

Mystery, suspense, and thrillers have always been my favorite genre. The adrenaline rush, the chase and the quest to uncover a mystery had constantly fascinated me. These type of stories are the closest I could get to living carelessly and dangerously. 

The Prometheus Man is a story about stem cell technology. A covert operation of the CIA is involved in the research to enhance superhuman strength and cell regeneration to create super soldiers by stem cell technology. But the project went wrong and now the CIA would need to clean up its mess.

Tom Reese is investigating the death of his brother Dr. Eric Reese. His only way of getting an all-access pass to an unlimited resource is to plant himself inside CIA. And how he got in was genius. Getting out of the building with the evidence he needs to avenge his brother's death will almost cost him his life. But then, he has nothing to lose and live for.

This was like a Robin Cook novel. A story about a science and medical breakthrough which was abused for personal gain. Tom's search for his brother's killer and for the truth about himself will take him from Paris to Germany and Italy. Brace yourself for a lot of blood, deaths, shrapnel and ricocheting bullets. I knew it. The title alone already screamed--Read me! 

This is the type of stories I live for. My indulgent dose of adrenaline and thrill. I give this book 4/5 syringes. Readers will be shown what possible ill-effects stem cell technology could have. Man should not be playing God because most of the time, it will end up a deadly mess.


Civilization is doomed because it takes a thousand  men to build a bridge and only one to blow it up.
- Scott Reardon, The Prometheus Man - 

When It Hits You (The It Series #1) by Nicki Elson | ARC | A Book Review

When It Hits You (The It Series) by Nicki Elson | ARC | A Book Review

I got this book when I signed up for the author's newsletter. I have read When It Holds You which is book three of the series. I liked When It Hits you better. Thank you again, Nicki Elson, for the ARC.

This is the story of Lyssa and Hayden. These two are co-workers. In fact, they are partners on a project. At the beginning, it was obvious that these two were physically attracted to each other but the success of the project was the priority. They became so close that they were tempted to finally cross the line but still common sense prevailed. Aside from that, each of them had their own relationship issues. 

I liked this story because their relationship started with friendship, fondness, and respect for each other. Without them knowing, they have fallen in love with each one gradually. Until they were forced to confront their feelings. And since love is a powerful force no one can oppose, these two finally admitted their feelings but then, distance is going to be another hurdle to get through to make their relationship work. Like all relationships, they decided to give what they can for each other and finally finding ways to be together in one place.

I give this book 4/5 corns. This is a feel good book. A happy ending story without much drama. Lyssa and Hayden both knew what the situation is and they know what they were in for. 



Why do I feel like I've been Mister Miyagi'd?
- Nicki Elson, When It Hits You - 


When It Holds You (The It Series #3)



Wednesday, January 25, 2017

My Best Reads in 2016 | Year Recap

Yes, I know. I should have done this on the first week of January but I was not able to. I was reminded when I received a email in my mailbox from one of the blogs that I follow posting about her best books of 2016 so I decided that I should still write a post even if January is almost ending. I guess it's still okay as long as the month doesn't end yet.

2016 was the year I started my book blog. My first post was dated January 4. So, Congratulations to me! I actually survived a year of reading and writing reviews. I had 154 posts in 2016 which includes reviews, cover reveals and book blasts. My blog reached about 7,000 views which is already a great thing for me knowing that there are actually people who spend time reading my blog. Thank you so much! I am flattered because I first started this blog so I could have something to keep me busy while looking for a job. I did not expect to be warmly welcomed and accepted into this book community. This has been the best thing that happened to me in 2016. 

2016 was definitely a great year for me in terms of being a certified bookworm. I received free books from various authors in paperbacks, ebooks and audio books. I discovered sites and ways how I could get authorized free books to be reviewed. I even had a few who messaged me on Twitter and through my blog asking if I wanted to review their book. And to me that had been a great honor. I think I accepted all those requests. 

I have met a lot of new authors last year. I was introduced to new books and had the opportunity to read a few science fiction stories which I am not really into. I realized there are a lot of sci-fi books which are really, really good and my mind was opened. I was also introduced to horror books and found I enjoyed them and I have now a few on my TBR. 

I was also initiated into the world of audio books. At first, I found it a bit confusing but then it was actually very fun. Listening to the narrator give voice to the characters and the emotions in the story was an altogether remarkable experience. It was different just picturing how a character's voice would sound than actually hearing it. I received about five free audio books from authors as giveaways.

So, without further ado, here are my best books of 2016 in no particular order. These are all the books I rated 5/5 stars.

Total Books Read: 146 books
Total: 30 
Audio books: 2
Paperbacks: 2
Ebooks: 26

Romance

It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover 

Match Made in Wyoming (Wyoming Wildflowers #3) by Patricia McLinn

Miss Match (No Match for Love) by Lindzee Armstrong

Between Hope and the Highway by Charissa Stastny

Life is Like a Parade by L. Henry Smith

The Day He Went Away by Jennifer Millikin

Family Business (Mixing Business with Pleasure #3) by Ace Gray

Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover


Mystery | Suspense | Thriller

Secrets on Sapphire by S. Cole  


Hatshepsut's Collar (Artifact Hunters #2) by A. W. Exley

To One Knight's Heaven by Simon West-Bulford

Humbug (The Unwinding of Ebeneezer Scrooge) by Tony Bertauski

Silks by Dick Francis

The Fireproof Girl (Sophie Shields Mystery #1) Loretta Lost

In the Hands of the Unknown (The Field Researchers #1) by A. E. Hellstorm

Nefertiti's Heart (The Artifact Hunters #1) by A. W. Exley


Paranormal | Fantasy

Two Clubs (War and Suits #1) by J.A. Armitage  

The Last Seeker (The Last Seeker #1) by Fleur Camacho

Raene and the Three Bears (The Alder Tales #2) by RS McCoy

Blossom and the Beast (The Alder Tales #1) by RS McCoy

Don't Wake Me Up by M.E. Rines

Skye (The Dragon Kings #4) by Kimberly Loth




Dystopian | Science Fiction

Forget Tomorrow (Forget Tomorrow #1) by Pintip Dunn  

The Lethal Agent (The Extraction Files #2) by RS McCoy

The Killing Jar (The Extraction Files #1) by RS McCoy



Young Adult

Ideal High by Valerie Epson

Persephone (Daughters of Zeus #1) by Kaitlin Bevis

The Meddlers of Moonshine (Moonfall Mayhem #2) by A. E. Decker




Others

The Little Wagons by Crozier Green  

WTF Am I Supposed to Eat? by CJ English














I can't choose which of them is the best but I do have very memorable experiences reading these books. From the top of my head, I can remember crying so hard because of It Ends With Us. It took me two days to calm down and write a review.

The Fireproof Girl was a very engrossing read at the same time it stumped me. I expected it to have a paranormal aspect but it didn't.

The Little Wagons was probably the longest book I have read in 2016 yet I was so into it. It was a mix of historical fiction and suspense, yet it would also appear like a non-fiction. It was supposedly an account of how the Sicilian mafia started.

Both books of The Extraction Files. As I have said, I am not really into sci-fi or futuristic books but these two had me in their grasp and I had totally enjoyed it. I was converted. I realized that there are sci-fi books that are really captivating and not exactly highfalutin or too technical.

Persephone was the first audio book ever that I finished. I was so mesmerized by the author's voice, who was also the one narrating, that I finished the 8-hour story in one go. It was a record and Audible gave me a Mt. Everest badge for it. Totally worth it.

That's all. I am hoping and wishing that I could keep up with all the reading and reviews this 2017. I have organized my TBR by date. I have a scheduled book to be read for each day. I signed up for release blitz and blog tours also with Month9Books, Partners in Crime Tours and the usual blogs that do promos and tours. I have signed up as far as April. A lot of very interesting books are to be released this year and I am happy that I got ARC's for some of them. I will try my best to keep this blog as long as possible though I do wish that I could make money out of this. I am still looking into some ways how, of course taking into account that I am still very new in this game.

That's all folks. You can read the reviews for all the books I have mentioned and see what books you want to read out of the list.


Certified Bookworm, Blogger, Reviewer and Instagrammer:

Gurlay
















Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Soulmated (Joining of Souls #1) by Shaila Patel | Blog Tour and Giveaway | A Book Review




Title: SOULMATED
(Joining of Souls #1)
Author:Shaila Patel

Pub. Date:January 24, 2017
Publisher: Month9Books
Format: Hardcover, Paperback,eBook
Pages: 300
Find it: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | TBD



Two souls. One Fate.
  
Eighteen-year-old Liam Whelan, an Irish royal empath, has been searching for his elusive soulmate. The rare union will cement his family's standing in empath politics and afford the couple legendary powers, while also making them targets of those seeking to oust them.

Laxshmi Kapadia, an Indian-American high school student from a traditional family, faces her mother's ultimatum: Graduate early and go to medical school, or commit to an arranged marriage.

When Liam moves next door to Laxshmi, he’s immediately and inexplicably drawn to her. In Liam, Laxshmi envisions a future with the freedom to follow her heart. 

Liam's father isn't convinced Laxshmi is "The One" and Laxshmi's mother won't even let her talk to their handsome new neighbor. Will Liam and Laxshmi defy expectations and embrace a shared destiny? Or is the risk of choosing one's own fate too great a price for the soulmated?





Soulmated by Shaila Patel | Blog Tour | A Book Review

This is a very incredible story. I have enjoyed and felt all the tingling that Lucky and Liam felt. I felt like I was a teenager again. This book brought back memories of being carefree, reckless and with no responsibilities. When life was easier, full of hope and dreams that are within reach.

This is a story of finding your soulmate which is what everyone wants. It is so full of hope that out of the 6 million people in the world, there is that one person who is meant for you and you alone. One who will share your life, dreams, hopes and aspirations until you both grow wrinkly and arthritic. It's a story with a hint of a fairy tale and paranormal. Add in the cultural mix with a solidly establish background which spans generations made the story even more plausible and believable. It seemed like this was too good that it might just be real.

This is an amazingly written story that had caught me in its magic and I don't want to be released. It had me very involved and it felt like I have a stake in the story of Lucky and Liam. It felt like I will definitely be disappointed if these two won't work out. It was both exciting and scary to eventually find out what awaited these two or if there could be a couple at the end of the story.

The end was a deadly cliffhanger. Though it hinted of a very tiny spark of hope that everything might just be alright for these two and the rest of the Royal Empaths. At the same time, danger lurks in the shadows and a very vicious man is planning their downfall. I can't wait for the next book. It promises a more exciting and intense turn of events. Congratulations Shaila Patel for this first baby. You have definitely done it.

I give the book 5/5 books of poetry. This is definitely a must-read book and Shaila Patel is an author to watch out for.



And wings that leave their cages
Find a love to span the ages
Find it in yourself to push aside your fears and spread your wings
With all the love of a father could have
- Shaila Patel, Soulmated - 






As an unabashed lover of all things happily-ever- after, Shaila’s younger self would finish reading Cinderella and fling her copy across the room because it didn’t mention what happened next. Now she writes from her home in the Carolinas and dreams up all sorts of stories with epilogues. A member of the Romance Writers of America, she’s a pharmacist by training, a medical office manager by day, and a writer by night. She enjoys traveling, craft beer, and teas, and loves reading books—especially in cozy window seats. You might find her sneaking in a few paragraphs at a red light or connecting with other readers online at: www.shailapatelauthor.com

Find Shaila:







Giveaway Details:

(1) winner will receive a Perfectly Posh, Posh To Meet You Set ($20 value), US Only.
(10) winners will receive a SOULMATED Swag Pack, US Only.














Monday, January 23, 2017

It Started With a Kiss by Melanie Moreland | Release Blitz and Giveaway | A Book Review




      Title: It Started with a Kiss
By: Melanie Moreland

Publication Date: January 23, 2017
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Cover Designer: Monark Designs

#itstartedwithakissblitz 


It started with a kiss.
Then it became so much more. Love at first sight.
Avery Connor doesn’t believe in it.
But what about love at first kiss? 
A favor for a friend. Kiss a stranger and walk away. 
But what if that favor, and that stranger, prove to be the turning point of her life? 
What if that kiss leads to something more? 
Dr. Daniel Stewart is certain it will. 
He is determined to make her see him. 
To feel what he feels. 
To have the effects of that kiss last forever. 

A story about taking a chance, opening your heart to the moment, and falling in love.





This is a modern fairy tale. And like all fairy tales, the girl gets to keep the guy and they live happily ever after. Most of all, the kiss of true love.

This story started with a very serendipitous meeting that led to forever. Ah, what a romantic story. After you read this, you will wish you were Avery or have Avery's luck at least. To find or kiss that one guy and after which he will never let you go until you become his. Yes, sounds like a fairy tale but that is exactly what happened here. You will either go green with envy with Avery's fortune or you will want to be just like her. I would want to have what she has - love, a very adorable and cute family and forever with my own Daniel.

Though this story is in every way has the makings of a modern fairy tale but it didn't feel cheesy to me at all. The events were all very possible in real life. I bet, there are couples who met in very unlikely ways, maybe not exactly the same way as Avery and Daniel did but not the usual or far from the common first meetings we often hear. The story stayed very close to reality and yet still have that magical and unbelievable aspect that made it seem like the most feasible thing a person could wish for in a fairy tale love story. 

What I really like about the story is the part about Daniel having monthly dates with his daughter Maggie. It was so sweet and I wish we could all have Daniel for a dad. I think, when I get married and have a daughter, I would follow this kind-of-bonding time with my kids. It will encourage them to be open and develop a friendship-kind-of-relationship with me and my husband. I think it was a very clever and sweet idea. I think parents should emulate this. 

I give the book a handful or make that two handfuls of spearmint candies--5/5. I adored the story. You would wish you could have the same fate as Avery. It seemed like all the stars, heavenly bodies and elements in the universe aligned and conspired so she can have her happy-ever-after with Daniel. It made me wonder if this story may have any truth in it. Maybe, this really happened. Hmmmm... or it might still happen? Maybe, to me. Hahahaha... Wishful thinking! I girl can dream, right?





Then I'm calling dibs on the next ninety years.
- Melanie Moreland, It Started With a Kiss - 




New York Times/USA Today bestselling author Melanie Moreland, lives a happy and content life in a quiet area of Ontario with her beloved husband of twenty-seven-plus years and their rescue cat Amber. Nothing means more to her than her friends and family, and she cherishes every moment spent with them. 

While seriously addicted to coffee, and highly challenged with all things computer-related and technical, she relishes baking, cooking, and trying new recipes for people to sample. She loves to throw dinner parties, and also enjoys travelling, here and abroad, but finds coming home is always the best part of any trip. 

Melanie delights in a good romance story with some bumps along the way, but is a true believer in happily ever after. When her head isn’t buried in a book, it is bent over a keyboard, furiously typing away as her characters dictate their creative storylines to her, often with a large glass of wine keeping her company.


Friday, January 20, 2017

Pushing the Boundaries by Stacey Trombley | Blog Tour and Giveaway | A Book Review



Pushing Boundaries

by Stacey Trombley

 (Off Limits #1)

Publication Date: January 16, 2017
Publisher:  Entangled Teen Crush







Myra goes to Haiti with one goal: take the photograph that will win a scholarship and prove to her uber-traditional family that she has what it takes to be a photographer instead of a doctor. Her camera has always been her shield against getting too close to anyone, but she didn’t expect the hot teen translator who has an ability to see past her walls.

Elias needs his job as a translator to provide for his siblings. He can’t afford to break the rule forbidding him from socializing with a client. Except, this girl Myra insists on going outside the city to capture the perfect picture, and he steps in as her guide in order to keep her safe.

The deeper they travel into the country, the harder they fall for each other. Now they’re both taking risks that could cost each other their dreams.

If they get too close—it could ruin both their lives.










This is a very sweet love story that spans oceans, race, and culture.  This is about unexpectedly finding someone that understands and gets you even if you have not known each other for long. It was a mutual attraction between Myra and Elias. Elias proved to be the key to Myra having the courage go after what she really wants to do with her life. A medical mission trip to Haiti has changed Myra's life more than she can ever imagine. The island spoke to her and confided to her its secrets.

This is a very cute and feel-good story. It takes me back to the days when I too was like Myra, trying to find how I fit in in the order of things in the universe. How it is to find yourself in a place where everything is new and discoveries, no matter how mundane are a great novelty. I can still remember my first out-of-country trip. It was to Singapore. I flew alone. I was meeting my two other friends in the airport and our friend who was based there will pick us from the airport. I was so excited, so full of anticipation. It seemed like my body was tingling. I felt so alive. I was looking forward to experiencing a different culture, meet new people, enjoy the sights and take on new and wonderful experiences to be bottled and take home with me.

Like in the story, traveling for whatever reason, whether to volunteer, to work or just to unwind, will always bring unexpected and unassuming people who will touch us one way or another that we can never hope for. Knowing about their daily lives will enrich and inspire us. Like Myra, you will learn to appreciate the differences, be thankful for the things that you have and will put things into perspective. I think my most unforgettable trip was going to Cambodia. We talked to kids and women selling paintings and souvenirs near the Angkor Wat and we were humbled. My friends and I realized that we were so blessed, the kids there find it hard even going to a public high school. There are not a lot of public schools in their country. That's the beauty of traveling, it will put you where you stand in the whole scheme of things. You will realize you are just a speck in this vast universe. The world or the universe for that matter does not revolve around you. You have no right to treat anyone unfairly. It gives you a good smack in the butt.

This story made me remember that I had once thought of volunteering. Of going to far-flung places and help in any way I can but I had not gotten the chance. I did volunteer before for a Christian organization helping street children in Quezon City. I went there with my friend for a few weekends to help bathe the children, fed, played games and taught them. It was a very gratifying experience and it was my way of giving back but then real life interfered. I got too busy with work. I still hope to volunteer again. 


I give the book 4/5 digital cameras. This just only proves that friendship and love knows no boundaries, race, religion or culture. It speaks to every person. This story also indicates how humanitarian missions to third-world countries are very important and helps a lot of people. Those who are less fortunate are given hope that they can have a better life. If only governments all over the world would care enough of its citizens. No corruption. Then, there would be no need for humanitarian missions at all. 











Stacey Trombley lives in Ohio with her husband and the sweetest Rottweiler you’ll ever meet. She thinks people are fascinating and any chance she has, she’s off doing or learning something new. She went on her first mission trip to Haiti at age twelve and is still dying to go back. Her “places to travel” list is almost as long as her “books to read” list.

Her debut novel Naked released from Entangled Teen in 2015. Find her online at www.StaceyTrombley.com and on twitter @trombolii.







Pushing the Boundaries Prize Pack including:
* Signed copy of Naked by Stacey Trombley
* Signed copy of Pushing the Boundaries by Stacey Trombley
* Haitian Art as shown in the photo