Ever over After by J.A. DeRouen

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Grown up Marlo is even worse than the younger Ever. Seriously! The girl who used to have so much faith in love became cynical and disengaged. But who could blame her right? Because of what happened to her in the past, she put on some impenetrable walls that can surely keep anyone at bay. Her new life has been all about taking control and security.

On the other hand, my heart is so happy to see what Ever has become and how he turned out. He deserves this redemption and he deserves everything that he has.

And above all, these two deserve each other.

That is why, I’m just so glad and my heart is so full with how Low and Ever found each other again. It may have been long, painful years that kept them apart but it was a reunion that made the pain all worth it.

Definitely a good follow up. Now, I’m just excited to read about the other girls.

I see a DeRouen binge read in the horizon.

4 STARS!

Stars - 4


Review Headings -  Blurb

Marlo … wild-eyed, untamed, and every single thing I’ve ever wanted from this life. I wasn’t ready for her back then. I was a stupid boy with adult feelings and no idea what to do with them. I squandered away every chance she gave me.

Yes, love like ours either burns white hot or crumbles under the pressure.
And now I’m back to sift through the rubble.

Questions and excuses are two things I have in spades. What I need now are answers.
Answers and Low.
Always Low.

My name is Ever Montgomery, and this is my story of love resurrected.

Low Over High by J.A. DeRouen

LOW OVER HIGH

“Love changes over time. The edges may dull, the butterflies hibernate… but sometimes, the best things sharpen and flourish as years pass.”

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One of the best things about Goodreads is that I have discovered a lot of new authors and new books which made me wonder what kind of rock I’ve been hiding under to have not heard of them before.

Low over High started a bit slow for my taste and I was prepared for the overly used high school drama. But I was in for a good surprise. Marlo or Low is a delight to read about. She’s not a damsel in distress given her unconventional childhood. She doesn’t play the martyr but she’s a believer and an all around strong go getter.

And then she meets Ever. Troubled, angsty broody Ever. It was ire at first sight and the antagonism between the two is palpable. I love how they transitioned from disliking each other to being acquaintances, to being friends and to finding love and peace in each other.

But everything was temporary. Ever’s troubles were bigger than him and what they have. In the process, Marlo had to pay the price. I love how age appropriate their reactions and actions were. Though, I do not agree to a lot of what they did, I feel like given the messy and troubled mind of the youth, their actions can be deemed acceptable.

Also, I felt unsatisfied with a lot of things in this story. I kind of wanted to know more about Charlotte, Delilah and Jeb. I wanted to see more of Low’s dynamics with her mother. I felt like some very important parts of the story were just laid out in passing to focus more on the romance aspect.

The ending was realistic but it was a bit unfulfilling for me. I wanted more! It was not the ending I would like and I hope that the next book will give me (and these two) the conclusion that they deserve.

3.5 STARS

Stars - 4


Review Headings -  Blurb

I fancy myself a purveyor of truth, a sifter of lies, a cutter of bullshit. It’s not a gift, but rather, all skill, honed to a razor’s edge after one too many trips down the rabbit hole.

Some may dismiss my talent as misplaced and misguided cynicism, but they’d be wrong. Cliches about hope and faith in mankind are concocted unicorn farts, an effort to keep the dreamers dreaming. Experiences don’t lie—people do.

While I’m not proud of the circumstances that led me to this way of thinking, I respect the journey. The road to enlightenment can be dark and foreboding, but the destination makes it all worthwhile.

But funny thing about the past—it’s a defiant child refusing to stay in time out. No matter how deeply buried, it can always pop up when least expected, and sink its fucking claws into the flesh of your heart. No, not my heart—I no longer have one. I foolishly gave it away years ago, but I still feel the ripping in my chest as I fist the crumpled note left on my porch.

I’ve avoided this day, ran from it, for the past eight years.
And still we meet again.

But to truly understand … to feel my dread and fear my future as I do, it’s important to know what happened in my past.

Or who…

My name is Marlo Rivers, and this is my story of corrupted love.

 

The Gravity of Us by Brittainy C. Cherry

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“The woman who felt everything leaned in closer to the man who felt nothing at all. For a split second in time, I felt a little of her pain while she encountered my coldness, and neither one of us seemed to mind.” 

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Wow.

Can I just end this review at that because “WOW”.

Brittainy, you never fail to amaze me and pull my emotions out of me. It says a lot because I’ve been reading NA and contemporary and romance for so long that sometimes, all these plot twists, all these characters just get lost in a blur but you, YOU managed to craft story after story about friendship and honest to goodness love.

I cannot stress how important it is for me to feel connected to the characters because I’m that kind of reader who cannot fully appreciate a book despite superb writing and editing if I cannot really connect to any of the characters in any way. I don’t need to go through what the characters go through to have that relatability factor. I just need to really understand them and be one with them and I guess that’s a gift that not all authors can possess.

The author’s writing has amazed me since the first book from her that I have read and she continues to wow me book after book. This story is fresh and pure. It’s not the love story of a hot guy and gorgeous female who fell in love at first glance then proceeded to having intense, steamy sex. This story is beyond that. It’s a story of souls finding their way to each other. It’s a story of loyalty, family and diversity. It’s about acceptance and love and acknowledging what your heart is trying to tell you.

What’s amazing is that the storyline is not at all new. I feel like the strength of this novel lies on how much depth and humanity was seen and felt from our characters. The author was able to create different personalities without going overboard. We have seen how they were at the start of the story and witnessed their growth as the story goes on. And I’m not just talking about our main characters, Graham and Lucille. I felt equally invested in our side characters and I could definitely see myself reading spin offs based on them. I mean, seriously, it has become quite a trend already and Brittainy doing it would just be fantastic given how well written and developed her characters are. 

In a short period of time, Brittainy C. Cherry and her stories really grew on me. And you know what, Maktub.

Stars - 5


Review Headings -  Blurb

Graham Russell and I weren’t made for one another.

I was driven by emotion; he was apathetic. I dreamed while he lived in nightmares. I cried when he had no tears to shed.

Despite his frozen heart and my readiness to run, we sometimes shared seconds. Seconds when our eyes locked and we saw each other’s secrets. Seconds when his lips tasted my fears, and I breathed in his pains. Seconds when we both imagined what it would be like to love one another.

Those seconds left us floating, but when reality knocked us sideways, gravity forced us to descend.

Graham Russell wasn’t a man who knew how to love, and I wasn’t a woman who knew how to either. Yet if I had the chance to fall again, I’d fall with him forever.

Even if we were destined to crash against solid ground.

 

 

The Silent Waters by Brittainy C. Cherry

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“The world keeps spinning because your heartbeats exist”

*Better late than never review*

This book is one big story comprised of little moments sewn together. Brittainy Cherry is fast becoming one of my favorite authors given that this is only my second read from her.The Silent Waters.jpg

When you read a story and it touches your soul, you WILL know.

This is one of those stories wherein I have absolutely no clue as to how things will play out. I fell in love with Maggie and Brooks as kids and even more as they grew. I admire how Cherry’s plots are unlike any other, how she digs in deeper and really finds that connection to her readers.

She creates characters which are not perfect. She creates characters you can relate to, characters who are flawed that you will sometimes find bits and pieces of yourself in them. 

She reinvents flaws and make them strengths and to date, I have to say that creating characters who seem real to me will always be one of her greatest strength as an author.

It also seems like friendship and family are dominant themes in her stories. This one in particular spans years and it started during our main characters’ childhood to being young adults to adulthood. I love how the story evolved, how the characters grew and I felt myself growing with them. I can’t say a lot about the story without giving much away. What’s important for you to know is that this is superbly written, thoughtfully structured with the minor characters providing great support to the main characters. How all the characters grew and matured with time is just exceptional. Each one affects the other and the main strength of this story is in the depth of our characters. 

Books like this is one of the reasons I read – to feel, to think and to learn to appreciate even the tiniest moments. 

4.5 STARS!

Stars - 5


Review Headings -  Blurb

Moments.

Our lives are a collection of moments. Some utterly painful and full of yesterday’s hurts. Some beautifully hopeful and full of tomorrow’s promises.

I’ve had many moments in my lifetime, moments that changed me, challenged me. Moments that scared me and engulfed me. However, the biggest ones—the most heartbreaking and breathtaking ones—all included him.

I was ten years old when I lost my voice. A piece of me was stolen away, and the only person who could truly hear my silence was Brooks Griffin. He was the light during my dark days, the promise of tomorrow, until tragedy found him. Tragedy that eventually drowned him in a sea of memories.

This is the story of a boy and girl who loved each other, but didn’t love themselves. A story of life and death. Of love and broken promises.

Of moments.

 

Scandal in Seattle by Nicole Williams

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“Revenge was an odd thing it could motivate a person like nothing else. It was my opinion that people who lacked motivation in life had a deficit of revenge. That wasn’t my problem, though. When it came to revenge, I had an abundant surplus.”SCANDAL IN SEATTLE.jpg

These books are painstakingly short and I just want more!!! 

Our Eve is back and on a roll! Things get a bit complicated when she lands a new target – Henry, a Ten and also her former lover, also that one guy who changed everything for her. Her new errand now involves getting revenge and things become complex when business and personal life clash.

Henry’s busy schedule gave way for Ally (formerly Sienna, originally named Eve) to work on another Errand and we again see how meticulous she is, how organized she plans for her targets and how focused she can be. Again, this target is hopeless and cannot be converted into a good guy as much as we want to. Ally worked her charm, creeping her way into her new target’s life – doing just as she was asked to do by the client wife.

I find the concept, the plot, even our protagonist fascinating and interesting. What intrigues me the most at this point is Henry. He brings life to our protagonist. He is different from all the other targets in the sense that there is no dirt on him. His wife just wants to separate herself, get her money and get out of the marriage.

To be honest. I like Henry’s character and feel that there is a bigger story to his “cheating” and past relationship to Eve (Sienna or Ally). Also, I sense that Eve still harbors some deep rooted feelings that she just cannot acknowledge at this point in her life and with this kind of career.

I’m excited to see how Henry and Eve’s story pans out and what other revelations are in store for me.

So far, so good.

3.5 STARS

Stars - 4


Review Headings - Blurb

Revenge isn’t what the Eves are about. Justice is.

But when Sienna Stevens leaves Miami for her Errand in Seattle as Ally Andrews, revenge is the only thing on her mind. A woman scorned is one thing, but Ally is something else altogether. She will not rest until the man who upended her world is brought to his personal and financial knees. She won’t settle for just upending his world in return. She’s going for full-blown annihilation.

Ally’s barely in Seattle a day before complications arise. She begins making slips. She’s one error away from being pulled from the biggest Errand of her career when she comes face to face with Henry Callahan. Former lover. Current Target.

Things just went from complicated to catastrophic.

Mischief in Miami by Nicole Williams

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“Life’s a sequence of gambles. You’re going to win some. You’re going to lose some. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t play the game.”

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Well, this is quite the surprise.

I have read Collared by Nicole Williams before and I LIKED it enough. I came across this series in my search for my next read after a fantasy binge and the plot intrigued me. I started this first book right away and boy, I was really fascinated.

Given the premise, the storyline could be a bit messy but I liked how the author gave life and justification to the Eves. In the simplest of terms, Eves are women who work for other women to help them get out of a marriage with a big fortune in their pockets. Eves are actually homewreckers hired by the wives to get out of their marriages with their cheating husbands.

The writing is good though it feels detached at times due to the main character’s sole narrative. However, I feel like it was a reflection of the main character’s personality. All work, no attachments. She felt impersonal, unreal and void of emotions. Her mindset is on finishing an Errand (how they refer to a job or an assignment) without any strings attached.

If you’re looking for romance or a bad boy turned good kind of story, I’m afraid that this might not be the one for you. This is a woman who consciously enters and wreaks havoc in a marriage. You might not like her, you might not understand her but in a way, I kind of understand why she does what she does. And  surprisingly, I found myself rooting for her.

We get a glimpse of Sienna and her life as an Eve in this first book. However, just when we start to understand them and their way of living, that ending kind of rocked the boat when we were given a sneak preview that these Eves also has their pasts and history. With that cliffhanger, I will surely dive into the next book. Who is that guy and why was Sienna affected by him so much?

This book is a short, fast paced read that’s not only good for killing time but also if you’re looking for a different kind of reading flavor.  

3.5 STARS

Stars - 4


Review Headings - Blurb

Seduction. Infidelity. Blackmail. Scandal. It can all be bought for the right price and for Sienna Stevens, business is good.

Because she’s in the business of Great Exploitations.

She’s an Eve, a member of a secret society of women contracted by the wives of wealthy, powerful men for one reason and one reason only: to seduce their husbands. To ensure their pre-nuptial agreement will be null and void thanks to a little loophole known as the Infidelity Clause. To ensure that those wives don’t find themselves on the other side of a divorce without a penny to their name.

When it comes to the Eves, Sienna’s one of the best because she follows the number one rule of the Eves to the letter: don’t let it get personal.

When the job file of her wealthiest client yet falls into her lap, Sienna realizes that this case could be the one that’s impossible to detach herself from. The payout would lead to her independence, but will the cost be too high in the end?

The Demon in the Wood by Leigh Bardugo

Before he became the Darkling, he was just a lonely boy of extraordinary power.

I was truly intriguThe Demon in the Wood.jpged by the Darkling’s history and though I don’t see myself rooting for him anytime soon, I felt empathy (YES, YOU READ THAT RIGHT!!!) and compassion towards the child that was the Darkling. Without giving thought to the adult (is adult EVEN the right term for his age?!) that he has become and just thinking of him as the child, it’s impossible not to feel sadness and remorse for what happened to him. All he wanted was acceptance and belongingness. He wasn’t an instant villain. All the villain-ness came from a deep rooted past of not being accepted in his harsh childhood. Another interesting facet of this short story is the Darkling’s close relationship with his mother making me wonder how their dynamics changed and evolved.

Only 30 pages BUT filled with so much depth and revelations.

Now I know why Leigh’s writing gets all the hype.

Stars - 3

 

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

“The problem with wanting is that it makes us weak.”

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I was checking the list of books I have read for this year and saw that I am truly behind in fantasy. Like way, wayyyyyyyy behind. For this year, I have only read A Court of Thorns and Roses, A Court of Mist and Fury, The Wrath and the Dawn and the TWAD novellas. And that’s it. I was planning to remedy this before the year ends so I got the Six and Crows-Crooked Kingdom duology.

I was about to dive in but I was talking to a friend who is also an OC reader and from our conversation, we decided to start with the Grisha trilogy first before jumping into SoC and CK. We know it’s different stories but the worlds are the same.

Anyway, enough of my intro-slash-explanation. I have heard so much praise for Leigh Bardugo and being the hype-averse type of reader that I am, I tend to ignore. But eventually, I decided to give in. Heck, everyone I know is reading her books and I wanted to see for myself.

There is no denying Leigh’s talent. She is beyond good and I can see why so many readers got lost in the world/s she has created. This woman has created an entirely different universe, far beyond the scope of my imagination. It’s a dark, intriguing place and I was hooked.

Given, I’m in a rather busy stage of my life right now and it took me a while to finish this but there was VERY  MINIMAL TIME when I felt disconnected to the story or the characters. On the contrary, I was reeled in and I couldn’t wait to find out what happens next.

Alina is a likable heroine, not exactly my favourite but she has her strengths. There were certain parts of the story when I felt the YA-ish texture of the novel especially on Alina’s vanity moments. At first, I pegged her for being weak but she redeemed herself in the end. She actually showed that she can be feisty and strong yet her heart is in the right place. She started out as a lost girl, unsure of where she stands and what her purpose is. Eventually, she found her strength and drive and I loved the Alina that emerged from the power. I do hope I get to see more of this side in the next books.

Mal on the other hand is my guy. Alright, at this point I ship Mal and Alina. He is loyal to the core and would do anything for her and their friendship/relationship. At this point, I’m not sure where they stand but Mal is an okay guy and I would love to know more about him. There’s not much said about him and his background and I feel like I need to know more, I want to know him more. 

Probably, the most interesting for me is the Darkling. I know I’m supposed to loathe him after what went down in the end but there’s a big mystery and story surrounding his character. I can feel it. I can tell there’s more to him and that his role in this trilogy is essential.

With those things I have loved about this book, there are also some things that I found lacking. These are not really big issues, but these prevented me from giving it more stars.

For starters, I was actually looking forward to a lot of action, a lot of high intensity fight scenes but I only got a few. I’m not sure where this expectation of mine came from but I was not expecting a lot of narratives about cliques, mean girls, gossip, and who is prettiest and who is most popular. It swayed from the dark and intriguing vibe of the premise.

Also, I felt like I was blindly thrown into the world without any guide at all and I had to look different words up to grasp what I was reading. It was a few chapters in before I felt the connection to the book. 

Despite its flaws and my indifference to some of the characters, I liked, no scratch that, I L-O-V-E-D Bardugo’s writing. It was easy to read and captivating and definitely the main factor why I’m keeping the next books in my TBR list.

3.5 SHADOW FOLD STARS

Stars - 4


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Maybe Maby by Willow Aster

“Being with you makes me forget who I really am.”

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People tend to use the term OCD lightly. But in truth, there is nothing light about this disorder. Willow Aster once again took me to a whole new adventure, a whole new understanding and this time, it’s by following the story of Maby and her battle against life and OCD.

Confession Time: I was actually saving Maybe Maby as my last unread Willow Aster book for the reason that I just want to still have something from Willow to look forward to. I’ve been saving this for a long time until I just can’t resist anymore.

This is the story of Maby and her fight to literally keep her sanity and life in general. She’s been having a rough time dealing with the death of her mother, breakup with her boyfriend, abandonment of a friend and stress with work. It was becoming too much for her, her walls felt like they were closing in and it was suffocating her. This is a story of coping, of heartbreak, uncertainties and just trying to survive life. I mean, seriously, how much can a girl handle?

I love how this book surprised me, and it was a pleasant surprise. Given, I know it’s going to be good because it’s Willow, but the way I latched on to every word, to every emotion just showed how invested I was in the characters.

Maby is a very likable character albeit frustrating in many different ways, in many different occasions. She has a lot of meltdowns, push and pulls but you have to see things through her mind. She’s unlike other heroines I have read about. She is flawed and quirky and kind and unsure about so many things. Minus the OCD, she’s like every other twenty-something girl, trying to fit into adulthood.  There were times when I got seriously exasperated with her decisions but if you take into consideration all the things she’s been through, you will, in some way, understand her reservations.

Here, we meet three men: Dalton, her ex-boyfriend (who was a real asshole by the way), Saul, her longtime friend and Coen, the barista-slash-I wanna take him home please please please give him to me now!!!

It was painful to read how Maby tried to go through life on her own. She was basically an island with no friends, no social circle and no support system. But as the story progressed, my heart became happy when Maby, slowly but surely, opened up and gained more people in her life. It wasn’t an easy choice, she had reservations and doubts but she braved on. Attagirl!!

This story is endearing and a real eye-opener. Personally, I do not know anyone suffering from OCD and it makes me feel more empathy to their situation in general. Like Willow’s other books, I instantly felt a connection with the characters – gotta love Coen’s family by the way – despite feeling a bit irritated with some of them.

I adore how Willow was able to tackle such subject matter with respect and care. I have always admired how flawless and polished her writing is and this work is no exception.

If you want something that’s realistic, heartfelt, humorous, kinda low on steam but high on love with a bit of an unstable female but a swoon worthy male – then this is the story for you.

Stars - 4

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Sugar Free by Sawyer Bennett

“What you and I have, Sela…no one will ever comprehend it. No one will ever come in between it. But it’s real and it’s ours and I’m never letting it go.”

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I had so much hope and anticipation for this third and final book in the Super Bowl series and I am extremely pleased to say that it exceeded my expectations and I didn’t realize I was holding my breath until that very last page. Damn that ending girllllllllllllllllll.

This series went from a steamy romance with a touch of darkness to a highly suspenseful read. I was amazed that a lot of different elements came into play in this third book, making me fully realize the talent that Sawyer Bennet has.

As always, Beck is just amazing. There’s no other word for him except that. Hell, I could look up all the synonyms in the thesaurus for “amazing” and it would boil down to him being exceptional.  He is anything and everything and I would keep him if I could. I’m also thrilled that this third book showcased Beck in different sides and emotions- we got to taste a more intimate (personal, not sexual as we had loads and loads of that already. LOL) and deeper Beck, and see him for his heart and soul. Every time a layer of a certain character is peeled off, I can’t help but cheer the author on because I know that great effort was exerted in crafting a well-developed lead. Well done SB, I wanna hug you so tight just for Beck alone.  

I wish I could say the same for Sela though. If you have been following my reviews, you know that I had mixed feelings for her in the first book, which was changed in the second book and now in this third book, I could just gouge her eyeballs out. Okay, not all the time. But there were moments when this girl can seriously be annoying and if I could silence some of her book parts out, I totally would.

Not all characters can be awesome to a T but even if I couldn’t care less for Sela, it’s the other way around for the secondary characters. I love and adore how the secondary characters built our main characters up. They were not just random voices in the background. They play pivotal roles to the story too. William (and Maria), Caroline and Ally as well as Dennis are beautifully individualized and showed big personalities throughout the story and even my irritation with Sela could not dampen my love for them. I found that scenes with them are some of my favorite.

This story is best read when your mind is blank and away from interruption because it is highly addicting and truth be told, you just won’t be able to put it down. Every chapter break was just another big tease and the suspense and intense buildup right off the bat was heavy. I can tell exactly which parts prompted me to put the book down for a few minutes because it was already tension filled. Granted, we already know the culprits, we know what happened but what we do not know is how all these things will play out. And in the grand scheme of things, despite Sela being Sela, I really wanted our main characters to be happy and to redeem themselves. I wanted Sela to just go find her closure and peace of mind. I wanted Beck to have the family life that he missed out on. 

I felt a lot in this book. I felt them through our characters and I really applaud Bennett for not leaving any loose ends, for having all questions answered and basically for making me an exceptionally pleased reader right at this moment, despite the stress I endured while reading, because really, trying to wrap my head around what was happening was nerve-wracking but in a delicious way only us readers could understand.  

Plus, that little cameo of the Filipino judge made me do a little happy dance. It is oh so very rare when Filipinos are given much importance in a character assignment. Usually, the Pinoy/Pinay is a maid, an illegal or a social outcast. To have a Pinoy given a character of social importance made me cheering all the more.  

There was a point when I kind of hated Bennett for all the cliffhangers because that is just plain torture. In a reader’s active imagination, so many things can happen and so many theories can build up just as soon as the book ends. Imagine my frustration at the cliffy that is Sugar Rush. However, I have to say that with the Epilogue and how the story ended (I have to admit I was freaking out at 91% because only a few pages were left and I still had like a bucket of questions left unanswered), Sawyer Bennett, you are more than forgiven.

4.75 SUGAR STARS.

(I just have to take .25 off for the number of times Sela drove me nuts)

Stars - 5

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Check my review for SUGAR DADDY

Check my review for SUGAR RUSH

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