Coralee June is always satisfying. She’s pizza. I could happily one-click any of her books and come away from the experience without regret. And while Aggro is my introduction to Carrie Gray, it’s a happy one.
Breeze Shirley is understated, and she likes it that way. She doesn’t need to command the room, she lets her bestie, Violet, sparkle, and shine. Breeze is happy being in the ocean on her surfboard, riding waves. She’s loyal. Breeze loves honestly and true. She’s the best, best friend, a best friend could want. And Violet is her true blue. The two are deep in one another’s pockets and never too far apart. This is why when Violet is murdered, it shatters Breeze’s entire world–but worse it shows her all the shadows that existed in Violet’s that Breeze never knew existed.
This book is categorized as a romance, but really it’s much more of a coming-of-age story and a real heartbreaker, so bring your tissues because there are lots of times you are going to tear up. Breeze is an incredibly sympathetic character, and relating to her is so easy to do. She is written so beautifully vulnerable, and so full of graceful strength that you root for her to choose good things. I kept telling Breeze to choose healing instead of grief while tears were running down my face, and my nose was sniffling pathetically.
During recent visits, I have often found the city of Berkeley to be a garden on a hill, lush in its vegetation and breathtaking in its panoramas. In the stunning hill neighborhoods, redwoods soar from a neighbor’s yard as the eye feasts on tangled beach roses. Meanwhile, west beyond the flatlands and the bay, the blinding evening sun drops through the Golden Gate. A glass of wine in such a place is unlike a glass of wine anywhere else. The senses revel and rebel, and so do we.
When I wrote Playground Zero, a coming-of-age novel set in Berkeley during the counterculture movement of the 1960s, I wanted to convey something of the city’s splendor, along with the anarchy of those years. I wanted a backdrop that would contrast with the story of Alice Rayson, a girl growing up under fraying social norms, as large numbers of people sought to jettison the past. The lush landscape would serve to counterbalance unsettling aspects of Alice’s story, offsetting them—not only for the reader, but also for myself during the long process of producing a novel. More ambiguously, I hoped to shine the city’s light on some of the forgotten corners of those countercultural years. After all, contrast creates meaning.
Title: Playground Zero Author: Sarah Relyea Genre: Historical Fiction My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Sarah Relyea has penned a coming of age story set in one of the United States coming of age periods during the late 1960s. The Raysons family are all children of their time, and the third person alternating point-of-view lets us see the world they live in through their eyes and experience their day-to-day–Tom Rayson is not a likable man.
The book follows the family as they cross the country from the East Coast to the West Coast to establish new lives in Berkley, CA, during the bussing and integration of black students. Sarah Relyea has a great atmosphere for her story; there are many times she painted the events happening with her words.
In today’s climate, reading books of this nature might shed some light on social dynamics between races — although there are times I felt a little like there was an unconscious bias for the great work the Raysons were doing regardless of what they did. And Tom is thoroughly unlikeable.
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary advance copy of this book.
Sometimes, when I read things written by British or Aussie writers, I feel the story suffers from my lack of knowledge of slang and terminology. It made The Attic Tragedy more beautiful and served its sucker-punches more viciously.
George is dealing with all the things that make adolescence hell: school, the primary devil, and a budding crush with a fellow outcast, Sylvie, a particular demon. Sylvie makes it all worth it though with her gentle whimsy and accepting soul–it doesn’t hurt that Sylvie is magical. It’s not just that she’s beyond a dream, she says she sees ghosts. George can’t help but fall hopelessly for the ethereal beauty. But life doesn’t end at high school; neither does George’s story.
“Don’t be sorry,” she said. “Don’t ever be sorry. You’re beautiful, George. You’re tree roots and fresh mown grass and the smell of rocks and apples. What’s inside you is so real, so alive. It’s burning you up.”
The Attic Tragedy by J. Ashley-Smith
J. Ashley-Smith weaves a tale of trials, failures, and successes centered around protagonist George and her struggle with self-acceptance and inner squabbles with self-loathing. Centering around vignettes of heartbreak as she watches Sylvie grow up, and away, from the girlhood qualities that made her so unique to become a wife and mother to a smarmy prig.
This book is quite magical. Highly recommendable.
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary advance copy of this book.
Title: I Dare You (Truth and Dare Duet #2) Author: Lylah James Genre: Romance Release Date:17 June 2020
Enemies to best friends and now lovers.
Maddox Coulter. Was my enemy. Now my best friend. One night of untamed passion has us dangling over the edge of something dangerous and it could forever break us.
Our hearts are on the line. Maddox is keeping secrets. I vowed to never give up on him but I’m not sure he’s the same man I fell in love with anymore. I’m scared he’d leave my heart bleeding at his feet. But worst, I’m scared we’d go back to… … hating each other.
The eagerly anticipated conclusion of Maddox’s and Lila’s story, I DARE YOU, book 2 of the Truth And Dare Duet.
I didn’t get it. I tried. But by the end of the book, I still wasn’t there.
Seifiek is an Alpha Fortune Fae, a Midnight Fae who denied himself the temptation of blood and evolved into a new species. But at that point, it all goes bonkers, gets complicated, and facts are fuzzy: there is the Web, Dust, Astral world, and me never knowing if we are in the Web or not.
A lot of world-building happens in this book, and it’s confusing despite a helpful glossary of terms. But not just the terminology tripped me up–I didn’t understand the heroine. She’s a brat; Gina isn’t likable. I didn’t understand her motivation. She was running away from the Alpha always, but why? I couldn’t figure it out. As a matter of fact, she’s underdeveloped compared to the male characters who are much more carefully constructed. Alex, Zeke, and Rowan are complex characters. Gina’s entire characterization is escape and sex. She’s boring.
He walked into school on his first day and owned it. I guess that’s what happens when you’re a prick, rich, and you’re best friends with the ruling school’s king. Also didn’t hurt he’s drop dead gorgeous. That’s all fine. I mean, I have nothing to do with them. I’m a loner, invisible, and that’s how I wanted it to be. I was even proud of it, until I wasn’t. Until I saw a girl kneel before him. Until I couldn’t look away. Until he caught me watching. His name is Blaise Devroe. My name is Aspen Monson. He only knew how to get, command, and demand attention. I knew how to do everything but that. And this is our story.
Title: The Redpoint Crux Author: Morgan Shamy Genre: Gothic Fiction Release Date:09 June 2020
“Dark and achingly beautiful, The Redpoint Crux will break your heart then make you whole again. Shamy is a true storyteller with a gift for weaving wounded characters with twisting plots and a gorgeous, haunting world.” —Evelyn Skye, New York Times bestselling author of The Crown’s Game
“An addictive mystery woven into a tapestry of lush theatre and ballet lore.” —Wendy Higgins, New York Times Bestselling Author
Fans of The Phantom of the Opera and Black Swan will enjoy this thrilling debut.
When Megan Van Helsburg gets kicked off the U.S.A. Climbing Team, she has no choice but to return home and leave her climbing career behind. With no coach, no money, and no prospects, she joins the corps de ballet determined to improve her strength and agility. But the ballet theater is in dire straits. Not only do a series of murders break loose, but the ballerinas are becoming deathly thin and brain-dead. As Megan investigates, she meets Bellamy, a tortured young man who lives beneath the depths of the theater. Megan falls hard and fast for Bellamy, who becomes her mentor, but something is off about him.
It isn’t until the company announces they’re doing Giselle for the fall performance that Megan realizes the parallels between the ghost story and the lives around her. Megan must find a way to not only save her climbing career, but balance her feelings for Bellamy, and stop the murders and dying girls before she, too, is numbered among the dead.
Title: Her Greatest Mistake Author: Eve L. Mitchell Genre: Romance Release Date:13 June 2020
I knew the moment I saw Aiden that he was the kind of man who would break a woman’s heart. With his looks, he could grace the cover of any book or magazine.
Even as I got to know him, his hard no-nonsense attitude was alluring. He was as captivating as he was intense, and having his attention was as intoxicating as it was overwhelming. My pulse raced and my stomach fluttered when I was near him.
Yes, Aiden would break a woman’s heart. If she let him.
Maybe, even if she didn’t.
I didn’t mean to let him break mine. I didn’t mean to let him get so far under my skin that he got into my heart.
One moment of passion—that’s all it was. I was reckless. I was stupid.
I didn’t know.
He ripped my heart out without even breaking a sweat.
He said he could explain. I don’t want to hear his lies.
I was stupid that night, but I can’t be again. I can’t let him close enough to make the same mistake twice.
Augh. Miles? Fiona? What is happening? I love it. I hate it. I can’t deal.
If you read Echoes you know what to expect going into Fractures, and Alice Reeds does not disappoint! As a matter of fact, she doubles up!
Miles and Fiona are off the Island; the hunt is not on, but they are still in the clutches of the Briola Bio-Tech peeps. The dark corporation takes a more insidious turn this book as Alice Reeds cracks open the bad apple and takes us into the Garden of Evil. The new mind fracture has them in Poland at a villa where they are being tortured by Briola, as well as on a remote freighter searching for survival in unsurvivable conditions.