Back To September

– by Melissa Brayden

 

I’ve recently become a big fan of Melissa Brayden‘s books, although, I must say, I didn’t catch the Brayden bug until much later. Yeh, until I read her last book, “Beautiful Dreamer,” which sealed the deal for me. My all-time favourite Brayden book yet. Something to be said about one’s first, eh? Anyway, since then, I’d raced through her entire catalogue and got all caught up. So, when her latest outing, “Back to September,” was released, I had to explore it, obviously.

First off, as I began reading it, I couldn’t help but be reminded of one of my favourite movies, “Notting Hill,” because the setup sure had the feel of it – a small bookshop, an eccentric staff, bookstore owner encountering a celebrity in the shop, mutual attraction strikes, celebrity visiting owner’s home from the get-go, striking a nice, breezy, smooth, natural chemistry between them. In this case, Hugh Grant’s character was Hannah, the MC. Speaking of, this story was written in first-person narrative, from Hannah’s sole POV. As for Julia Roberts’ famous actor-celebrity character, it was Parker, a renowned romance author, the story’s other MC. But since this story was written solely as Hannah’s journey, I didn’t get a chance to get to know Parker’s character as well as Hannah’s.

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Changing Course

– by Brey Willows

 

Brey Willows‘ latest outing, “Changing Course,” was her first attempt at telling a story in the sci-fi (space) genre. First off, I was intrigued by the title itself because I had an inkling that it may be a thematic and symbolic term to use for various characters and/or objects/places featured in the story. Let’s just say that by the end of the book, I was not wrong!

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Vanished

–  by Eden Darry

 

After reading and thoroughly enjoying Eden Darry’s debut published novel, “The House,” I was looking forward to reading her sophomore effort, “Vanished.” Although after reading its blurb, I realised that it wasn’t going to be a horror story, rather, a speculative fiction, more like. I was intrigued to see how Darry weaved an apocalyptic/dystopia story, even though this particular sub-genre of spec fic isn’t my usual cuppa.

In the first few pages, I realised that this “end-of-the-world” story was going to have a heavy religious connotation throughout. Two words: NOAH’S ARK. Even if you’re not from the Christian/Muslim/Jewish persuasion, I’m sure you’ve heard about it since it’s been so mainstreamed already. Anyway, Darry started off the book with a huge storm and then a massively blinding white light descending upon the MCs (and the rest of the world), which caused the vanishing of just about everyone overnight! Well, except for the select (“chosen”) few including Ellery and Loveday, the 2 MCs, along with their pet dog and cat.

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Leading The Witness

– by Carsen Taite

 

When Carsen Taite releases a book especially when it’s something to do with US criminal law/legal matters, I get very excited because as you may know, Taite’s my official go-to author for all things US criminal law-related. I love all her law-related books because I can always feel this sense of authenticity, the level of detail and knowledge that Taite innately injects into her stories. I love authors who use their other professional expertise to validate and substantiate the realism of the cases/plots weaved. For me, it makes for a better, more convincing, more informed read when I believe in what’s being written and told. But that’s just me, so…!

Anyway, back to Taite’s latest legal romance outing, “Leading the Witness,” which I read it in one short sitting. First off, I was already intrigued by what the blurb revealed about the story, the plot and the MCs. A seasoned prosecutor, a zealous defence attorney hellbent on grilling law enforcement witnesses in all her cases (aka a chip on her shoulder but as a result of very legitimate reasons which readers will get to discover as the story progressed), two attorneys with opposing methodologies in trying criminal cases, a high profile child kidnap case, an old equally high-profile child kidnap case resurfacing that was related to one of the MCs, not to mention, both MCs butting heads in every step of the way whilst also being attracted to each other! Intriguing, innit? But then, as I started reading it, I must say, how this story unfolded from the start was an unexpected one for me because going into the story, mindful of what the blurb alluded to in regard to the plot, I was prepared for what I thought would be Taite’s usual writing structure and storytelling style. Alas, it wasn’t and my intrigue level increased exponentially! For me, this was not the usual style that Taite uses in her writing and story-weaving of a crime-and-law-related plot and romance.

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Endangered

– by Michelle Larkin

 

Ok, I feel like I owe it to Michelle Larkin to write a little bit of something about my experience with this book seeing that I might’ve been too hasty in relegating it to the bottom pile of my TBR list before! But for some reason, I picked this book to read and it was nothing like I expected. At all!

First, it was funny throughout, with lovable MCs and secondary characters! Never read a shape-shifter MC to be this funny, fun, and adorably likeable all throughout the story! Usually there’d be a layer of darkness in the shape-shifter, but Aspen, who’s also the “Chosen One” of the shape-shifting community, only had light in her. I absolutely loved all the funny, flirty, cheeky, mischievous banters between Aspen and Tora (the awkward, aloof, ice queen doc). In fact I loved the natural chemistry that Aspen seemed to have with everyone, particularly, Tora, Skye and her “pops,” Oscar! Their interactions, when you read the book, were portrayed with such authenticity that I believed they were like family. That was certainly a surprise to me because I didn’t get that kinda chemistry or rapport in dialogues from Larkin’s previous book.

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Beautiful Accidents

– by Erin Zak

 

First off, Erin Zak keeps churning out creative storylines that make for some compelling read! Her latest, “Beautiful Accidents,” was no exception. Two intriguing characters with professions that I’d never read about before along with a deaf secondary character playing a pivotal role in one of the MCs’ journey in a setting that was utterly original, not to mention, eye-opening for me. In other words, perfect ingredients for an original romance, imo, and I utterly enjoyed it!

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Legacy

– by Charlotte Greene

 

Once again, it was solely the book cover that lured me to read the story. When a cover is spellbindingly aesthetic and subversively revealing, I avoid the book’s blurb because I want to experience the story organically based on my supposition of what the cover and/or the title has revealed to my imagination. THIS cover of Charlotte Greene‘s latest lesfic horror/supernatural story, “Legacy,” with a compelling romance, literally held me captive. It’s the well. The. Bloody. Well.  I always had this strange fascination with the well. Perhaps because of what it represents (to me): the abyss of hidden secrets, dark mysteries, lost time, trapped past. So the sight of a well on this cover was like a calling….an ominously eerie calling for my attention. With the cabin looking on from afar like it was scared of the unassumingly imposing well, not to mention, its intimidating title towering over its insidious mouth, my resolve to devour this book was sealed good and proper. I trusted my instincts that its story would give me the kind of satisfaction that I always crave for when reading. In particular, stories in the horror/paranormal/supernatural genre, because of my unusually high expectations and selective pickiness. I don’t usually read books solely based on their covers but the few times that I did, they all came up on top, believe it or not. No exception with this one. Yay to intuition!

Needless to say, the cover and the title did its job and then some in personifying the nature and intent of the story. “Legacy” was utterly brilliant! For me, it was one of the most arresting, richly multi-layered, spine-tingling, bone-chilling horror/supernatural stories ever written and I’m proud to place this as one of my favourites in the genre, lesfic or otherwise. The tone, the rhythmic flow and design of Greene’s dark, hair-raising nightmare of a tale was reminiscent of Henry James’ “The Turn Of The Screw,” Stephen King’s “Doctor Sleep,” mixed with the visual shudder of “The Ring,” “Amityville Horror,” and “Cabin In The Woods,” all of which are on my favourite horror “proverbial” book/blu-ray shelf. But the icing on the cake for me was what “Legacy” had that these aforementioned books/movies didn’t…. LESBIANS! To top it off, it also featured a prominent lesbian romance that Greene ever-so nonchalantly weaved into the story amidst all the otherworldly ruckus throughout the entire journey! To say that I was utterly satisfied and satiated after devouring this book is an understatement. Naturally, I shall be revisiting the cabin, the well, the woods, the fascinating cast of characters, particularly the primary MCs and the “shadow” MCs…yeh, you have to read it to gauge who I’m talking about!

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