Chemistry of a Kiss by Kimberly Krey

Chemistry of a Kiss: A Sweet YA Romance (Sweet Water High Book 5) by [Krey, Kimberly]

Chemistry of a Kiss by Kimberly Krey is part of Ms. Krey’s Sweet Water High YA clean romance series. I haven’t read any of the other books in the series, and this was my very first read by Kimberly Krey.

Harper is dating TJ but his kisses don’t have the effect she is looking for. She likes TJ and wants to help him learn to make some better choices. Then she receives a partner and an assignment at school. One of her teachers pairs her with Jett and assigns them the project of researching and reporting on “The Chemistry of a Kiss”.

During their studies, Harper finds herself thinking about kissing Jett, but there is a bit of history behind them that causes her some embarrassment. Then there’s the complication of his ex-girlfriend, When Harper’s mother makes a rule that Harper can’t exclusively date one guy, she and TJ figure if Harper lets her mom think her studying on some evenings with Jett are actual dates, things will be okay. That doesn’t exactly work out as planned.

Things get more and more complicated as Harper falls for Jett but isn’t sure if Jett feels the same way or if he’s just trying to make his ex-girlfriend jealous so she’ll come crawling back. When a Sadie Hawkins dance is planned at school, things seem to fall apart around Harper, until another plan is put into action. What happens at the dance is quite a surprise as tensions mount and tempers flare.

This was a great story and an easy read. I enjoyed it from the first page to the last and read it in three nights. I loved the characters and the interactions and relationships Harper had with her grandparents and her mother and sister, not just the peer relationships among the teenage characters. The dialogue and the way Harper thinks are all very realistic and believable. I loved the sweet romance with its kisses. I grew nervous just before the Sadie Hawkins dance, but was thoroughly pleased with the ending as well. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys clean romance stories. I am older than a young adult, so you don’t have to be a young adult to enjoy this story.

I look forward to reading more books by Kimberly Krey.

Fawkes by Nadine Brandes

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Fawkes is an historical fiction novel by Nadine Brandes. It is about a plot against parliament, which is an event in history, but Ms. Brandes has added a fictional fantasy story line which is about the power of colors. She has also included the plague in the story because the plague was really happening during the time period of this story. However, she has chosen to put an interesting twist on the plague as well.

I must say that if it wasn’t for my interest in the main character, Thomas, the son of Guy Fawkes, an actual historical character involved in the plot against parliament, I’m not sure I would have continued reading this book beyond the first few chapters. There was so much emphasis on color power and masks in the first part of the book, that I found it to drag on and on. I didn’t actually get really interested in the book until the second half.

I suppose part of the reason I didn’t fully enjoy the story is because I didn’t fully understand the battle between the Keepers and Igniters, and though I thought the White Light was supposed to represent God, I didn’t think it was an accurate representation.

The story began to pick up when Thomas discovered his friend, Emma’s secret, which had a profound effect on their relationship, and from there Thomas began to search for answers pertaining to the color powers and the truth behind them. He had never been comfortable with the constant fighting between Keepers and Igniters and the killing of innocent people. He also wasn’t comfortable with the plot his father and his friends were planning against parliament. He had some difficult decisions to make, and he’d been infected by the plague twice.

As Thomas fought his own internal struggles and the plot against parliament began to be put into action, the story finally hooked me, and during the last third of the book, it definitely kept me turning pages. I was very pleased with the ending as it was realistic and satisfying.

I must say that Ms. Brandes did an excellent job with writing this story. It is very well-written and I found no mistakes that should have been caught in the editorial process, which tells me that Ms. Brandes had a good editor, maybe more than one, so there were no grammatical or typographical errors.

The thing I am most thankful for is that Ms. Brandes included a section in the back, “What’s True and What’s Not”, where she explained what was historically true and where she received her information, and what she chose to add to write a full-length historical fiction novel about an historical event. I had never heard of Guy Fawkes or that particular plot against parliament (apparently, there were several).

This was the first book I’ve read that is a Fantasy Historical Fiction, and as I am a new Fantasy reader, maybe that was part of my problem with this book as well, because I love Historical Romance stories. I think the Fantasy part of this story just didn’t appeal to me. I know many people who read it and loved it, so I know my lack of interest is due to my own opinions and not anything Ms. Brandes wrote, and as I said, I did really enjoy the last third of the book, and was invested in Thomas Fawkes, the main character, from the beginning. Therefore, I hope, if you are considering reading Fawkes, you will give it a try, especially if you’re a big Fantasy fan because you might really like it.

The Gold Son by Carrie Anne Noble

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I was so excited when I met Carrie Anne Noble at the Realm Makers book stand at our local homeschool convention this year, especially when I found out that she’s written a book about Leprechauns! I have not heard of any other authors writing fiction fantasy stories about Leprechauns, so I knew I had to buy this book. I also bought Ms. Noble’s first book, which I will read and do a review on at a later date.

SUMMARY OF THE BOOK, BASED ON BACK COVER BLURB:

The Gold Son is about a human boy named Tommin. He is an ordinary sixteen-year-old who wants to make beautiful shoes and take care of his granny. The thing about Tommin that is not ordinary is his insatiable need to steal. He’s driven by a curse that demands more and more gold.

One day the mysterious Lorcan Reilly comes to town with his “niece”, Eve. Tommin believes Lorcan wants to help him, but instead Lorcan whisks him off to the underground realm of the Leprechauns, where he and Eve are forced to prepare to become one of them.

Eventually, Tommin and Eve find themselves falling in love with one another, and they begin to plan their escape. However, things don’t go according to plan, and Tommin’s humanity is slipping away. If Eve can’t find the remedy in time, Tommin will be destined to become a thieving trickster for all eternity.

MY REVIEW:

I have to say that I had trouble getting hooked into the story. I felt that the beginning seemed a little slow and repetitive.

In chapter three when Lorcan Reilly and Eve came on the scene, things began to pick up, but I didn’t really get caught up in the story until they were in the underground realm of Leprechauns. There things became interesting as other characters were introduced and Tommin’s struggles began — struggles of missing his Granny and wanting to return home; struggles as his urges to steal gold became almost unbearable and affected his health. As his feelings for Eve strengthened and problems continued to keep them apart, I couldn’t stop turning pages to see if they would overcome the issues and finally be together.

An unexpected twist made me gasp and nearly broke my heart, but I kept turning pages. Now I had to know how this book would end.

In the end, I enjoyed the book and its characters. Ms. Noble’s portrayal of the Leprechauns and their realm was very interesting. I had never researched much about Leprechauns. What I thought was that they guarded the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow and that they wore green clothing and shamrocks. Ms. Noble showed me new things about Leprechauns that I didn’t know and I found it all very fascinating.

I do think the book is geared more for middle grade readers, which is not my normal reading material, but I enjoyed The Gold Son and look forward to reading Ms. Noble’s first book, The Mermaid’s Sister in the near future.

 

Unbreakable by Sara Ella

Unbreakable (The Unblemished Trilogy Book 3) by [Ella, Sara]

I completed my reading of Unbreakable by Sara Ella last night. This is the third and final book in the “Unblemished” series/trilogy. What a ride these books have been. Lots of romance, action, suspense, and struggles. Sara Ella did a fantastic job with her world building and creating fascinating, well-developed characters. These books kept me turning page after page.

However, when I finally reached Unbreakable, the page turning became an act of anxiety and anticipation. Would Eliyana end up with Joshua or Ky? Would she and her friends be able to defeat the Void? Which characters would remain alive at the end of the book? Whose hearts and lives would be intact, and whose would be broken?

I turned each page with trepidation because I wanted a certain outcome/ending. Would Sara Ella deliver?

This entire series was so well-written. The characters and their dialog were so realistic. I was pulled into each book in the series from the very beginning, and I fell in love with certain characters and wanted to see others defeated. There were fascinating connections between characters. There were twists and turns. Sometimes I gasped. Sometimes I smiled. But all the time, my heart pounded and my nerves were taught.

I will say, Sara Ella did do a good job of resolving everything in the end. However, with all the suspense and tension I felt throughout the series, especially the last two books, I have to say I felt like the end was too calm. The characters’ emotions didn’t seem to hold their tension and strength. Though the ending was satisfying, I felt that everything was too calm, quiet, and peaceful like walking out of an epic battle into a high school study hall where no talking is allowed. I guess I expected and wanted something more.

However, I still highly recommend these books to anyone who loves a good YA Fantasy read with incredible world-building, characters you can relate to, and intriguing romance, and I look forward to reading more of Sara Ella’s books.

Unraveling by Sara Ella

Unraveling (The Unblemished Trilogy Book 2) by [Ella, Sara]

Unraveling by Sara Ella is the second book in her “Unblemished” series. It is a Fantasy story for Young Adults and Adults.

If you want to read my review of the first book, Unblemished, click here.

Unraveling is an amazing adventure filled with danger and unexpected twists and turns. It kept me turning pages. Near the end, it had me sitting on pins and needles, actually afraid to see how it would end.

Sara Ella’s books are incredibly well written with very few, if any, editing errors. Her characters are well developed, relatable, and realistic. I got so caught up in the lives of these characters. They have become friends I look forward to spending time with.

Sara Ella does a great job of world building as well, and I love how her fantasy world is so similar to New York City in physicality and a few other ways as well. And since New York City is where Eliyana’s journey began, it’s cool to see the parallels between the two places.

I loved Unblemished, and Unraveling certainly didn’t disappoint me. However, those pins and needles and that fear I had as I faced the end, made me question whether or not to continue turning pages. I was so afraid I would hate the ending, but I kept going, and I am happy to say that I didn’t hate the ending.

You see, there are two love interests for Eliyana in the story, Joshua and Ky, and I am strongly routing for one particular man (no, I won’t say who). I fear heartbreak when I reach the end of book three, but I cannot wait to dig into it anyway, with high hopes that my man will win.

So if you love great fantasy stories about realistic characters who face danger and struggles, and that have a strong romantic feature, you’ll love Unblemished and Unraveling.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society Book Review

I’ve been wanting to read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows since I saw a lot of people raving about it on Facebook last year. I finally picked up a copy at a used book sale.

I was surprised to find that it was written as letters between characters, and that made it a bit difficult in the beginning because I had to keep flipping back pages to see who was writing to whom. However, it didn’t take long to acclimate myself and get so involved in the characters’ lives that I no longer found this a problem.

I enjoyed that the main character was a writer whose first book had been a bestseller and she wasn’t sure what to write next — what could be as well received. Then in January 1946, she, Juliet Ashton, receives a letter from a stranger, who happens to be the founding member of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Here begins a journey through letters that eventually leads Juliet to visit the members of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society because, through the letters, she feels as though these people have become friends.

It was fascinating how the authors developed the characters and their relationships to one another, mostly through letters. The time of the novel follows World War II and includes historical facts and information.

I fell in love with the characters and got caught up in their lives and felt their feelings. It made me want to meet the members of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and attend at least one of their meetings.

My only negative comment in regard to The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is that the authors chose to reveal that one of the characters is a homosexual in a conversation with someone the homosexual character barely knows, and, at that period in history, I find it highly unlikely that someone would openly discuss sexuality, especially homosexuality. I also found it unnecessary to the story. As a matter of fact, it was barely mentioned twice and really served no purpose.

All in all, I enjoyed the story. It kept me turning pages and I was sad when it came to an end. It was like saying goodbye to some good friends. It was unlike anything I’ve ever read before, and I do recommend it. I have not seen the movie, but now that I’ve read the book, I do want to see it. (I always prefer to read the book first.)

I was sad to find that the story was created by Mary Ann Shaffer and that she became quite ill before the book was completed. Therefore, her niece, Annie Barrows, finished the novel and its publication. Mary Ann Shaffer passed away before the book was published.

Book Review: Caledonia by Sherry V. Ostroff

Caledonia by [Ostroff, Sherry V.]

Caledonia is Sherry V. Ostroff’s historical fiction debut novel. It’s a novel that simultaneously tells the story of Anna, a character living in Scotland and traveling during 1696, and Hanna, a character living in the United States in 2005. The two characters have a connection to one another. The similarities of their names was an unwise choice, in my opinion.

While Anna’s story is full of hardships and struggles, Hanna’s story is full of adventure and research to find out how she and Anna are connected. Both story lines include a love story.

I found that I was much more drawn to Anna’s story as well as to Anna and Alain who were the main characters of her story. I felt that Ms. Ostroff did a much better job of developing the characters in this story, and it was obvious that Ms. Ostroff did her research to tell the tale of Anna, Alain, and Caledonia. Ms. Ostroff did an excellent job of writing an interesting plot in this story line–a plot that kept me turning pages and wanting to know what was going to happen next.

I found the story of Hanna and Alec to be less developed and less interesting as it almost entirely revolved around Hanna searching for the connection between her and Anna. She spent a lot of time reading a journal and researching things she found in the journal, as well as the history of a candlestick. Therefore this story line did not hold my interest as much, and I wasn’t as invested in the lives of Hanna and Alec. I was, however, invested in the character of Hanna’s grandmother, whom I believe Ms. Ostroff did a good job of developing. As a matter of fact, one of the chapters about Hanna’s life ended with a cliffhanger in regard to her grandmother, and though the next chapter was about Anna, I bypassed it long enough to read the first scene of the next chapter that was about Hanna to find out about her grandmother, then I flipped back to read the chapter on Anna.

Overall I felt that the story was unbalanced because there was so much focus on Anna’s story and much less on Hanna’s story. I learned so much about Anna and her personality and life that she was very real to me. I loved and cared about her. I felt much less interest in Hanna and very little connection to her. I never came to love or care for her as I did for Anna throughout this story.

I was a little disappointed at the end of the story. I felt that certain things were unfinished. Then I read that there will be a sequel to Caledonia. The first chapter of On the Edge of a Precipice is included at the end of Caledonia, and I couldn’t help but wonder how Ms. Ostroff will write an effective sequel, as it seems to me that there’s not much left for her to tell of Anna’s story because she did such a thorough job of covering the historical story line in Caledonia. However, I will be looking for the sequel to see what else I can learn about Anna and further Scottish history.

For those of you who choose to read clean fiction, I will say that there are some mildly explicit sexual scenes in this book. There are also a few places where profanity is used.