December 19, 2014

No Woman is an Island. A review of Becky Wick's BEFORE HE WAS GONE

Book:  Before He Was Gone (Starstrucks #2)

Author:  Becky Wicks

Publisher:  Becky Wicks Books

Genre:  Contemporary Adult Romance

The Blurb:

When her rock star boyfriend breaks things off out of the blue, Alyssa applies to hit reality TV show Deserted and to her shock she gets through. Abandoned on a remote island with a bunch of strangers and none of the luxuries she’s become accustomed to, it’s not long before an undeniable attraction to the mysterious Joshua starts complicating things even further.

Joshua's different to everyone she's ever known - a traveller, a man with no plan, a world away from the celebrity life she's left behind. As a series of challenges test their wits and weaknesses, things start heating up in paradise. But in a game designed to break people down, it soon becomes clear that Joshua is hiding a painful secret - one he won’t risk anyone finding out.

Struggling to know where she belongs, Alyssa will have to choose - a life she once loved that wants her back, or a brand new reality that heartbreakingly may just have its limits.

My Review:

We often get asked the question:  If you were stuck on an island, what would you like to bring?  the basic answer would be to bring the one you love.  But what if the reverse happens and you get to the island with nothing but the clothes on ur back precisely because the one you thought you loved DUMPED you.... And it is on This island where you fall deeply in love.... With millions of eyes watching you.

That's what happens to Alyssa after she joins a reality show ala Survivor called Deserted after a horrible and well publicized breakup with a legit rockstar.  She is sent to a remote island in Bali, Indonesia with nine other people who are expected to betray her trust and vote her off. Even before stepping on the sands of Bali, Joshua already caught her eye.  He is not just hot, he is also very able.  An obvious Alpha male among the deserted.

Standing out was never his intention.  He has shunned love and relationships for so long for a very valid reason.  Joshua has to win the game.  He is in dire need of the Million dollar grand prize.  It is a matter of life and death.  His life, his death.  But this is something he can not tell anyone, not even the woman he is falling for.  Alyssa's eyes are on the prize too... The ultimate prize that is Joshua.

Before diving into this story, I had already read the first book Before He Was Famous which I reviewed several months back here.  I loved the story, and the end brought good closure on the story of Noah and Chloe.  Alyssa was also in that book as Chloe's best friend, who at the end of the book, was making the moves on Sebastian, the very man who breaks her heart in Before He Was Gone and is the reason she takes on the challenge in the show Deserted.

I am not a fan of the show Survivor. I can't imagine living in a jungle for two whole months wearing the same (tattered and barely there) clothes, starving, being burned by the hot sun, constantly bitten by sand ticks, dealing with wild and deadly animals and sleeping next to people who have no access to toothpaste, mouthwash and deodorant.  This book does not glamorize that.  It stays on track with the hardships that survivors face head on.  Even so, I understood how Joshua and Alyssa fall into each other and it saddened me when Josh felt compelled to leave.

Love stories have to have more than sliver of believability to be appreciated by me and this had it in spades.  I loved Joshua's vulnerability and Alyssa's strength. And their chemistry? Well let's just say I couldn't put down the book ,staying awake reading till 1 in the morning even though I had to wake up three hours later.  I needed to know what would happen in the next page right away. No waiting and no nodding off.

Author Becky Wicks has another winner in this one.  I do hope there's an extra novella somewhere in the future for Josh and Alyssa, though in my heart, I still love Chloe and Noah just a little bit more.

Looking forward to the third book in this series, Before he Was A Secret, coming out next year.  Will write the review on that one too.   In the meantime pick up both Before He Was Famous and Before He Was Gone.  You might want to read this by the beach for the best ambience.   And thanks Becky Wicks for the shout out to the Philippines in the book.  A Thrilled Filipino I am.

December 12, 2014

Book Review: BAD ROMEO by Leisa Rayven

Book: Bad Romeo
Author: Leisa Rayven
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Contemporary Romance

The Blurb:

While performing the greatest love story of all time, they discovered one of their own…
Cassie Taylor was just another acting student with big dreams at her prestigious performing arts college…then she met Ethan Holt. She was the good girl actress. He was the bad boy on campus. But one fated casting choice for Romeo and Juliet changed it all. Like the characters they were playing on stage, Cassie and Ethan’s epic romance seemed destined. Until it ended in tragedy when he shattered her heart.

Now they’ve made it to Broadway where they’re reunited as romantic leads once again—and their passionate scenes force them they’re forced to confront the heartbreaking lows and pulse-pounding highs of their intense college affair. For Ethan, losing Cassie was his biggest regret—and he’s determined to redeem himself. But for Cassie, even though Ethan was her first and only great love, he hurt her too much to ever be trusted again. The trouble is, working with him again reminds her that people who rub each other the wrong way often make the best sparks. And when it comes to love, sometimes it’s the things that aren’t good for us that are the most irresistible.

My Review:

Thrills and excitement…… Check
Hot and heavy scenes…….Check
Funny lines……Check
Witty banter…..Double Check
Great ending………..hmmmmmmm…

Okay.  I won’t lie.  I loved everything about this book.  Everything except the open end.  Of course I later found out there’s a book two coming out in April 2015 called Broken Juliet so I understand the non-end ending, but it doesn’t diminish my twinge of disappointment.
To be fair, the story is great, and the banter? 
Holy fluffing, fracking funny!
Cassie and Holt are doing a Broadway show together and it would be great since they are both extremely good stage actors.  The problem is they have a past they can’t get over.

Cassie is still head over heels in love with Ethan Holt years after he chewed her up and spit her out.  To put it plainly, he pulled her heart out of her chest, threw it on the driveway, kicked and stomped on it a hundred times before getting in a car and driving over it.  
Splat!  That’s how much he destroyed her.  Years after he upped and left her high and dry, he comes waltzing into her life trying to get her back.
Say what?!? 
The nerve!

But yes, it seems the man has woken up to get back what he finally realizes is the most important part of his life.  But Cassie is more than reluctant.
The extreme fear and pain that Holt used to have about loving and being abandoned has moved on to her.  Much as she would like to forgive the man whose 
one look can melt her straightaway, she can not get over the fear that once he gets scared, he would just leave her.  It’s finally too much.  She has just put herself back together, will she survive being broken again?

But Holt has changed.  He wants her back.  Everything about her is supposed to be his and he is ready to claim her. Now.  But how will he redeem himself to the person who loved him the most?  The woman who never left even after he did?  The one whose trust he may never gain back?
Reading this is like watching a sitcom.  Specifically watching Ross and Rachel (of FRIENDS) go back and forth, loving and hating each other, where you just want to throw popcorn at the TV and scream “get back together already dumbass!” Yep, that’s how I felt.

It’s simple.  Love at first sight for both.  Instant attraction then instant denial.  One gives in (Cassie), the other pulls away (Holt).  The end? Not quite.
The journey is long but the ride itself was great!  I love that the story has two timelines:  the present (preparing for a major Broadway show) and six years priors (when they were still in College and trying hard NOT to fall in love).  It completed the circle and helped me understand how and why she loves him the way she does and why he CAN’T believe that she does.

The banter between them is fantastically funny.  They’re both crazy.  And I love the author’s sense of humor.  I found myself smiling and laughing one too many times by myself which probably made me look stupid.  But hey, that’s the best appreciation I can give to the writer and her book.

Overall I recommend BAD ROMEO (despite its title) to romantics who prefer funny stories full of sweet words one can only wish to hear spoken by a loved one.  Wait…am I describing all of us? Probably.  And if you like Romeo And Juliet? (which I do…Oh My bounty is as boundless as the sea….)  Here’s the bonus….THAT’s here too.  swoooooooon….

December 03, 2014

Book Review: ENDGAME: THE CALLING by James Frey and Nils Johnson-Shelton

Book:  Endgame: The Calling
Author:  James Frey and Nils Johnson Shelton
Publisher:  Harper Collins
Genre:  YA Fiction; Science Fiction; Fantasy

The Blurb:

Twelve ancient cultures were chosen millennia ago to represent humanity in Endgame, a global game that will decide the fate of humankind. Endgame has always been a possibility, but never a reality… until now. Twelve meteorites have just struck Earth, each meteorite containing a message for a Player who has been trained for this moment. At stake for the Players: saving their bloodline, as well as the fate of the world. And only one can win.

Endgame is real. Endgame is now. Endgame has begun.
Google Niantic is building a mobile location-based augmented reality videogame inextricably tied to the books and mythology, a major prize will be tied to a puzzle in each book, and Twentieth Century Fox has bought the movie rights.

Read the Books. Find the Clues. Solve the Puzzle. Who will Win?

My Review:

I am disturbed.  So much that I had to drag out my laptop as soon as I finished reading the book in the midst of work just to get this out of my head.

This book is comparable to The Hunger Games in that it pits teenagers against teenagers, kids killing kids, bloodthirsty children with no thought of anyone but themselves and surviving.. The biggest difference is the fact that Endgame is much more violent with burning bodies, hacked off body parts, blowing up people, shooting, stabbing……  It is bloody, it is gory, it is ugly.  There is no grace in their violence, none at all.

Endgame is also similar to the book series I Am Number Four for they have characters with unearthly powers.  But unlike the Lorics and the Mogadorians, these beings are not mere aliens.  They are gods who have bestowed and chosen 12 lines among earthlings. 

These lines would train their offspring one after the other about their roles in the universe which is to fight for the existence of their line from the ages of 13 to 20.  Beyond 20, their role as Player will then pass on to the next one of age in their line.  They are trained to be the best killers, for on their shoulders rest the lives of their people.  If they do not succeed, their people will be obliterated.  For thousand of years they trained, and for thousands of years nothing happened….. until now. 

Meteors killing thousands descend to earth triggering The Calling.  Those of age, the unlucky Players, gather at a place where on the get go they try to kill each other, except for two players, Sarah and Jago. Of the Cahokian and Olmec line respectively.  They form a truce, create a partnership that they both know can not last.  Eventually, if they both survive to the end, one will have to kill the other.

During the truce they start falling for each other.  It isn’t just the physical attraction.  It is what they know each other to be, killers just like themselves, their reflection of sorts.  But Sarah isn’t alone.  She doesn’t know that the boyfriend she left when she gave up her former, normal life to fight, has followed her. Christopher, well meaning, brave, strong Christopher is a fighter, but not to the degree that Sarah and the other players are trained to be.  He ends up the pawn in Sarah’s fight to the top. 

Do I love Endgame: The Calling?  I like it enough and I am curious enough to know that once the second book comes out I will get a copy and read it to its gory end.  But do I love it?  With it's violence, death and heartaches?  I can’t really say.  I am flabbergasted at the way it ended.  It’s certainly unexpected.   The sacrifice is justified….it is after all the end of the world as they know it…. But for him to end the way he did.  It’s too sad.  And Sarah, I don’t know how she will survive knowing that she caused the downfall of someone she loves most. 

It is hard to assess my overall feeling about this book.  I do recommend it, especially to those who loved the book series I’ve already mentioned above.  It is like Hunger Games on steroids.  So if your stomach can take all that blood and gore, I challenge you to pick up this book.  But if you would rather read a good, sweet romance, you might want to stay away.  It takes a certain level of curiosity and devotion to love such a book.