Beautiful Potential by J. Saman

Summary

I met Dr. Finn Banner on the worst day of my life.

It was supposed to be one of the best. The day you graduate and become a midwife shouldn’t end in heart wrenching tragedy. One year later, I ran into him again. Only this time, he saved my life. Turns out my gorgeous savior and I now work together in the same hospital. And he can be as sweet and charming as they come. When he’s not brooding, short-tempered and arrogant that is. Neither of us can fight our attraction. It’s strong enough to cause a cardiac arrest in the ER where he rules with an iron fist.

But he’s hiding something. A secret that runs deep.

I should stay away from him. Far away. There’s just one problem with that. How do you stay away from the man you think you’re falling for?

Characters

Gia is like the cutest person ever but also tough. I love how often she wipes out on seemingly nothing. But she is also tough and charming. Plus I respect her for sticking to her guns and not settling – big brownie points! Finn by contrast is the nicest person ever wrapped in bitter and assholery. Basically he is a sour patch gummy. Which makes for a hilariously contradictory character because he is a jerk, but Gia brings out the best in him, who he used to be before…life happened. Gia’s friends are a bunch of fun, and I love their dynamic. I’d love to see a book on Ophelia on a side note, I love that girl!

Plot

To be completely honest I didn’t like the start of this book. I knew it was a romance. However, I really struggled with Gia being attracted to anyone when she JUST found out her dad was dead. It was a rocky start that didn’t last, after I got over the first chapter I sprinted over a very short time to the end – because I JUST HAD TO KNOW!

This is more than a romance, it is a story of second changes for Finn. I won’t give anything away as all is revealed through a series of flashbacks that will rip your guts out. You will get sucked in and not be able to put it down until Gia and Finn get their happy ending! It is about potential of something amazing that was almost lost because Finn was stuck in the past.

Overall

Just wow! The writing was enjoyable and evenly balanced. The setting of the medical field was a huge bonus and helped give the book another dimension.  As a reader I was invested in them getting to their ending and I’d recommend for those who want an emotionally charged romance. To the point that I wanted to yell at Finn and tell him to get his butt in gear. To take a chance! When the tug of war between Finn and Gia is just starting to get old, they take steps forward, showing excellent pacing. In conclusion, it was awesome to read another of Saman’s books and see such growth!

As a side note, this cover does not do the book justice!

Rating

4.5 stars (rounded up)

A gut wrenching romance that you’ll get sucked into and have to know both Finn’s truth and how it is going to end! Fantastic romance read!

This is a voluntary review.

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Echoes in Time by Cherie Mitchell

Summary

When Zoe and her best friend Jamie find themselves hurtling through time on an adventure she could never have dreamed possible, Zoe quickly learns that perhaps modern-day teenagers don’t have it so bad after all.

From Ancient Greece to the last voyage of the Hindenburg, from Victorian England to the Wild West, from Viking-era Scandinavia to convict-era Botany Bay and old Egypt, and many, many more recognizable periods in history, Zoe discovers that in times gone by teenagers lived a very different life to the one which she and Jamie enjoy in 2017.

But how can the girls find their way back home to their own place in time? The aperture appears to instantly open and move them on whenever the girls are in any kind of danger, but they don’t seem to have a choice as to which part of history they will end up in next. Or do they?

Can Zoe discover the answer to the riddle given to her by their new friend Baozhai’s Chinese grandmother – and will the answer help them find their way home? And will Jamie’s attitude help or hinder the girls’ chances of safely returning to where they belong?

Characters

I just couldn’t connect with either Zoe or Jamie. Jamie was over the top may times and very one dimensional. When I actually saw hope that she might change about halfway through, I was sorely disappointed it did not take. Zoe was equally as disappointing but she at least grew some with the novel and developed into more of a two dimensional character. Recognizing her adventure for what it was. Unfortunately most of the characters were very flat. Baozhai presented as an interesting character but is gone before I could even connect with her.

Plot

I couldn’t discern any logic in their zigzag through time but it was very interesting. A lesson and reminder that we are fortunate to live in our present time. A lesson that we as a species have grown but only by looking back can we move forward and grow. I can tell the author went to great lengths to stay historically accurate and I was very impressed by the span of history. However, I did not see the point of moving into the future…that was very random!

Overall

If you like history this is an interesting and quick read. This is not a character driven novel, really more about the bouncing from one historical event to another, all highlighting the life of teenagers throughout the world during different iconic times. It also touches on important aspects of being a woman in all of those times as well. It was very informative and it was nice to see that the characters didn’t just visit fun places. The holocaust being among the locations in addition to Pompeii. You are in for one wild ride!

Rating

3 stars

If you like history and would like to learn about different times this is a fun read, just don’t pay too close attention to the characters.

This is a voluntary review.

Mosaic by Chris Keaton and Rick Taubold

Summary

Twin girls discover a mystical world contained within a crumbling mosaic, and they must restore it before an evil witch seizes its power, even if doing so could tear their family apart.

Secrets. It all started while looking for secret passages. Chloe Tozier’s impulsive twin, Zoe, insisted that all old mansions had them. Grandma denied the existence of any here. Except for the boarded-up service elevator that she conveniently forgot to mention before the girls discovered it, the elevator that didn’t seem to go anywhere. They had been living in this private museum with their grandparents since the death of their parents during an archaeology trip to Egypt.

Mysteries. Why have a museum in a tiny town in the middle of Kansas when what’s on display is nothing unusual? Sometimes packages arrived wrapped in plain brown paper that the girls never saw again. Grandpa disappeared overnight and they haven’t heard from him since. And before going to Egypt their parents had mentioned something about a mysterious mosaic. Maybe Zoe was right about family secrets. Maybe it was time to dig further.

Characters

Chloe and Zoe are super cute but very much cookie cutter characters. I never felt like they really broke out of their shell and were very two dimensional characters for most of the book. I also struggled with the story being primarily from Chloe’s perspective and almost not at all from her sister’s. That being said as the book progressed they grew on me. There are a plethora of supporting characters but most of them are amazing! Favorite character by far was Severin. He saved this book in the character department for me! I would read an entire book with just his story! The villain was a little flat, but decently evil.

Plot

This is for sure a YA plot. I loved the back story and was totally engaged in those chapters. Totally swept up in them and transported to a land before magic was taken. The plot was wrapped around a big baddie escaping and two twin teens being the only ones who can set everything right. After a wonderful opening chapter the rest started off a little slow but that was because it felt like the origin story to a series. Once you get past that introductory piece the plot focuses on the Mosaic and that is when the real fun begins. I consumed the last 40% of this book in one sitting because I JUST HAD TO KNOW!

Overall

The world building and originality of the plot behind the mosaic was this book’s strength. It is a whirl wind adventure for the second half of the book and you won’t want to put this book down once you reach that part. The writing was easy to follow and written for a YA crowd but adults who enjoy YA would enjoy as well. Vivid fantasy characters/creatures were woven throughout the book that were awesome! There were scenes that I could see playing as a movie in my head.

I was totally sucked in for the second half of the book! I’d get excited every flash back or Severin chapter showed up. They were by far the highlights of the book. The history of the Mosaic and their guardians is well with the rest of the book. If you’d like a fun adventure with a YA feel, but sure to pick this up!

My personal opinion was this would have made for an epic adult book and was actually limited by its YA characters. Although cute and fun it could have easily competed with other wonderful books had it shed its YA skin. Its YA main characters and YA friendly villain drained some of the excitement and originality of the story.

Rating

4.5 Stars

This is a solid 4 star book and well worth the time, particularly if you love YA books and characters that are tried and true. Overall a fantastically original plot/idea, but not very original heroines so I just couldn’t give it 5 stars.

This is a voluntary review.

No Fourth River: A Novel Based on a True Story by Christine Clayfield

Summary

Electroshock therapy, child abuse and modern-day slavery… just another day in Christine’s life.

Take a heart-wrenching yet inspiring ride through one woman’s incredible journey that is so compelling that you are simultaneously trying to look away and unable to stop yourself from reading on.

Christine’s father is a wealthy, tyrannical man renowned in the diamond business. At the age of just five, little Christine is cast aside into a boarding school where she is ridiculed for two embarrassing problems. She grows up in a never-ending circle of traumatic experiences both in her boarding school and at home. It culminates into a falling out between father and child that was never fully mended, leading her into a world of promiscuity and alcohol, eventually landing her in a violent marriage.

Driven to the limits of despair and heartache, she creates a plan to escape her world of misery. Will her plan work?

A story that asks: How do you find the strength, when you suffer almost unbearable abuse and are broken beyond repair, to pick up the pieces of a shattered life?

Overall

Since this is based on a true story it is a little difficult to cover “characters” and “plot.” Instead I’ll speak to the book a whole. It was touching and inspirational. There were parts that were difficult to read because of their content. I could tell the author was pouring directly from her soul as she recalled her childhood trauma. Her family was vividly detailed. When I read the part about why she named the book “The Fourth River” I was totally sucked in.

Following Christine on her turbulent journey at its heart about making choices and the power to control your destiny. It was about a terrible childhood, yes, but more than that it was about her journey to find herself and grow into the person she was always capable of being. The love story in the second half of the book was amazingly touching. The only downside to this book was there was an excess of content and repetition, both likely due to the fact that it was the author telling her story.

Rating

4 Stars

This was a powerful book. For those who ever feel like they are trapped by their circumstances will hear this author’s battle cry.

 

 

 

Doctor Bell Anthology: Tinnitus Terror Tales by Jan L Mayes

Summary:

Horror. Humour. Educational. Dr. Bell is determined to find the cure for tinnitus (ear noise). No matter what it takes. No matter how high his dry cleaning bill is. It’s hard to get blood out of a white lab coat. Warning: violence and coarse language. Not for the faint of ear.

Overall

This is an outlandish horror with a level of bizarre that as each story is told, more strange than the last, it is hard not to question how Dr. Bell continues to get away with such ‘experiments.’ Thankfully just as the most tragic story is told, the author switches to Dr. Bell’s ‘punishment.’ I will be honest in saying the ending was disappointing. Without giving anything away I expected Dr. Bell to get his comeuppance…

A vivid horror of incompetence with a Machiavellian lead. If you are looking for a creepy set of horror stories about medical disasters, this is for sure worth your time. Leaves one shuddering. Also a bit of a lesson on blindly following authority. (As a side note: I could see how this could be offensive to those with Tinnitus, so be warned.)

Rating

3 Stars

Creepy and bizarre this set of short stories about medical disasters to cure a terrible disease will leave you squeamish.

Ugly Things We Hide by M. Ocampo McIvor

Summary

“We all bend the truth from time to time.” 

Enigmatic Hawaiian surfer, Daniel, seems just within reach of a better life, but he is locked in a pattern of self-sabotage — why? 

Restless with his life in Oahu, he moves to the mainland and delves into the shadowy world of the filthy rich, catering to their whims for money. But his cool, smart, and practical exterior starts to crumble under the weight of his clients’ ugly secrets, though he is most wounded by his own secret shame.

Characters

Daniel is a bit of a mess but does so with flare and ease. He is easy to relate to on some regards and draws the reader in with this deep thoughts and restlessness. Although I would say he is pulled along through life it doesn’t feel contrived – in fact it feels quite natural that he should wander. From his sweet Auntie to his brother Noah to Frank his friend and Jackie his “friend” this host of supporting characters is varied and colorful. All I can say is, awe Phoebe.

Plot

I was surprised by this book. The concept seemed interesting but I didn’t know where the author was going. Even though you knew from chapter one where Dan ends up and what happens to him, the journey mattered more. Although I suspected some aspects of the book I was surprised by how it was presented. The beautiful prose scarred by ugly truths. Absolutely stunning and shocking.

Overall

Just wow! I was absolutely floored by this book. After a slow start I was just sucked in. Phoebe was such a star in his life but she burned out because of his choices. I don’t want to give anything away but I just couldn’t put this book down – I had to know the ending. Which left me both unsatisfied and wanting more in many regards. It does seem like there is going to be a second book – so there’s that.

The writing was flowing although a little lengthy (almost unnecessarily in some regards) but didn’t distract from the power behind the book. This hit me square in the chest because of the complexity of humanity striped bare and shown in its beauty and horror. I’ll be honest that I didn’t really like the cover but after reading the book even the cover made sense and should be changed. Overall – a resounding yes!

Rating

5 stars

This book will not go the way you expect – even getting a glimpse of the beginning. The authors subtlety and painful realism will leave you reeling. Well worth the time!