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R is for Romance #AtoZChallenge

by Donna Huber For the A to Z Challenge, I'm discussing different book genres/categories. Each day, I will give a few details about the...

March 5, 2016

Review: Missing Pieces by Heather Gudenkauf

review by Susan Roberts

Missing Pieces

Missing Pieces by Heather Gudenkauf opens with Jack and Sarah Quinlan getting a phone call to return to Jack's childhood home because the aunt who raised him has fallen and is in critical condition. There is a lot of mystery surrounding Jack's childhood - despite being married for over 20 years, all he has told his wife is that his parents were killed in a car accident and his dad was drunk and at fault. When they arrive at PennyGate, Sarah finds out that Jack has been lying to her about his mother's death for their entire marriage and she begins to doubt his story and begins to doubt Jack to be the man he claims to be.

There are a lot of interesting people in this book and its a real page turner. I thought that I had it figured out about half way through but I was totally wrong.

My only problem with the book was the relationship between Jack and Sarah. They really didn't have a strong relationship for a couple who had been together for 20 years but then Jack kept himself very closed off from her and she just didn't seem like the kind of person who would live in a relationship like that - she was way too inquisitive. Other than that one minor issue, the book was great and I really enjoyed it.

Buy Missing Pieces at Amazon

Read a sample:

Book info:
available formats: ebook and print (288 pages)
published: February 2016 by MIRA
ISBN13: 9780778318651
genres: thriller, literary
source: publisher

Get even more book news in your inbox by signing up for our newsletter: A free ebook was provided for this review. Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small commission is earned when purchases are made at Amazon using any Amazon links on this site. Thank you for supporting Girl Who Reads.

March 4, 2016

The Fairytale Ending

by Chris

The Redemption of Erath

Without giving too much away, I’d like to share with you the last few lines of my first fantasy novel, The Redemption of Erâth: Consolation. I don’t feel they give away the story, and they lead well into the sequel (I suppose technically then it’s not an ‘ending’). They do, however, summarize the mood of the book, and more importantly the fate of our main character.
And so it was with a lighter heart that Brandyé Dui-Erâth began to walk away from the river and away from all he knew. And so it was that, unknown to him, Darkness followed behind and laughed.

 What would you guess happened from that ending? What about what’s yet to come? And why is that important?

Endings are, naturally, one of the most fundamental parts of a story. (Stephen King’s Dark Tower series may be an exception.) We’re taught from preschool that stories have a beginning, a middle and an end. Later, we’re taught to structure it, with introductions, topic sentences, rising action and climaxes, but ultimately every story must come to a conclusion of some sort. It’s somewhat inescapable.

And as such, they are supremely important. The ending, being usually the last bit we read, is most often the bit that stays with us the longest. A great beginning hooks us, and a great middle keeps our interest, but it’s the ending that impacts our lives. It’s the ending that makes us laugh, or cry. If I was bored by a book throughout most of it, but it really picked up at the end and left me with ‘feels’, I would rate that book better than one whose ending left me with nothing.

The Disney Version

It is impressed upon us from an early age that endings—the good ones, anyway—are happy. It’s the happily-ever-after scenario, played out in countless stories, books and movies. The hero doesn’t die, the knight always rescues the damsel in distress, and the poor girl finds her Prince Charming. I see it often in the slightly nauseating Hallmark movies my wife sometimes watches. The world has even developed tropes and clichés around it—boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back again, for example.

There is a certain value in this kind of ending, of course—it often makes us feel good. Humans tend to be good empaths, and when we see someone else happy, we tend to feel happy too. And who doesn’t like to feel happy? If their happiness is destined to last the rest of their lives—it’s all we could hope for in life! This feel-good factor can be important to many of us, precisely because our own lives aren’t always so perfect and filled with delight. Perhaps this is why stories started in the first place—a chance for our prehistoric ancestors to forget about the tigers trying to eat them all day and pretend that dying of disease at twenty-four wasn’t really so bad.

We are also often sensitive to the delicate sensibilities of our children. Children devour stories. Few of us read as adults the way we did as children; I remember being a voracious reader, grasping every new book I could find, and re-reading the old ones when I couldn’t. At first, of course, the stories are tame: the rabbit gets lost, but finds his way home again; the hobbit faces a dragon but makes it back safe and sound. Later, the dangers become more real, and the endings are sometimes bittersweet: Bridge to Terabithia was the first book to genuinely make me cry, but I was smiling by the end. It was a difficult journey, but one with a satisfying ending.

I think perhaps we don’t give children enough credit; most are tough little creatures, and can handle a great deal more than we might expect. This isn’t to say we should terrify children wantonly (though the Brothers Grimm might disagree), but nor do we need to shield them from life’s reality.

A wonderful example of this is the story of the Little Mermaid. We are, most of us, intimately familiar with the story of the princess mermaid who falls in love with the human prince, giving up that which is most precious to her—her voice—for the chance to be with the man she loves. We recognize that this is naturally doomed to failure, since it was her voice that Eric loved, but we hope for a reconciliation. And of course, we get it. Just as the sea witch is about to enforce her rule over all the sea, Eric the prince saves the day and kills her. Ariel’s father finally recognizes their true love, and allows the two to marry, drifting off into the sunset. It is one of the most satisfying, perfect happily-ever-after moments in film history.

The Real Fairytale

But what if I told you the original story was not quite so delightful? Many of us have—as we grew older, mind you—become familiar with Hans Christian Andersen’s original tale of betrayal, loss and tragedy. Let’s start with the transformation: the little mermaid doesn’t simply exchange her voice for legs, but is forced to endure agonizing pain, and has her tongue cut wholly from her mouth. Put yourself in the place of a child, imagining your own tongue being carved out, and picture the terror. And of course, the poor mermaid doesn’t end up with the prince at all; not only does the prince never recognize her as the one who saved him from drowning, he falls in love with another woman entirely—and marries her.

The little mermaid is then tasked with killing the man she loves, in order to return to the sea! In the end, of course, she can’t, and turns to foam in the sea. We are given a glimpse of redemption in the possibility of eternal life in heaven, but this is far from a happy ending. (For that matter, some have even questioned the parable-like nature of this ending, as it contradicts quite strongly with the message of the rest of the story.)

The real fairytale is a story of heartbreak and tragedy; one where the prince doesn’t win the princess, and they don’t live happily ever after. And I believe this is one of the points Andersen may have been trying to make: life is full of real horror and fear, and try as you might things will not always end happily. Bear in mind this was in Victorian Denmark, where a child could die from an infected cut; the only happily-ever-after they could put any faith in was eternal life in heaven, since their life on earth was unlikely to be joyful by any measure.

Today, of course, we tend to aspire to happiness in the life we have; some might blame a loss of religious faith, or a rise in materialism; some might say that happiness is a human right, something we all deserve. The sad truth is that, often, in our pursuit for a final happiness, we neglect the things that could have brought us joy long the way. We all want the perfect husband, the dream job, the bigger house … satisfaction in our day-to-day. And there could be something to be learned from these old fairytales, even today.

The ugly truth of the world is that as much bad as good happens. Often we dismiss those who recognize this as pessimists, and praise those who refuse to accept it as optimists. And whilst in many ways we create our own realities, believing only what we allow ourselves to perceive, the world goes on around us regardless, and will write you out of it if it chooses to.

Great Expectations

In December of 1860, Charles Dickens began to publish serially what is perhaps my favorite book of all time. Great Expectations is in my mind the greatest tragic romance ever written—superior even to Romeo and Juliet, as buried in the public consciousness as that other tale is. Our hero, Pip, falls in love with Estella at a young age, and for more than just beauty; he loves her for her haughtiness, her intelligence, her nobility—and despite it all, for her cruelty. And while the story winds on and centers around Pip’s life as an apprentice, the reappearance of the convict and the subsequent tragedy there, Pip’s love for Estella never wanes in the slightest. He shows no interest in marriage, or in finding love anywhere else.

The great tragedy, of course, is that Estella could never love him back. Raised from birth to destroy men and break hearts, the kindest thing she can do for him is to stay away from him for most of his life. It takes most of the novel for Pip to recognize this, and even when she marries another, he never stops loving her. Only in the final pages, after a lifetime of sorrow and separation, are they finally united without enmity.

The surprising thing is that Dickens originally wrote a substantially different ending. As it was first published, Pip briefly meets Estella in London, only to find she has remarried after the death of her first, abusive husband, and we are led to presume that Pip will bear his heartbreak to the grave. In this, we are given no respite from the overall tone of sorrow, and taught that love alone cannot triumph over all. Pip is forced to be happy for her happiness, and neglect his own for the rest of his life.

It’s a curious change, and transforms the story from tragedy to romance. What worse fate could there be in the world to bear your love, unknown, unto the ending of your life? And what greater reward than to finally win cold Estella’s heart, after a lifetime of growth and longing? I have, curiously, no preference for either ending—I would argue it depends on the mood I’m in at the time. As a rather melancholy sort, though, I suppose I would see the original ending through more often than not.

Our Own Endings

In most stories, of course, we don’t have the luxury of choosing our ending. The author, for better or for worse, chose the path to take, and we walk down it whether we like it or not. One of the most dissatisfying endings I can think of is to Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series. After spending four books building up our hero, Arthur Dent, tormenting him and finally allowing him some respite, he spends the fifth book ripping it all away from him, leaving him with nothing until his whole planet ends up demolished … again. I didn’t laugh much while reading Mostly Harmless.

But what of our own endings? Are we in charge of our own stories? How do our decisions influence the course of our lives? I was talking about this recently with a friend, and she postulated that while the past is written in stone, the future is still fluid and undefined. I tend to disagree—not only can the past be rewritten (I am a writer, after all!), but it also affects everything we do, today and far ahead. I could spend my life revisiting the what-ifs of my past, imagining and wondering, and allowing them to cloud my judgement today.

And if there is to be a happily-ever-after, where does it begin, and where does it end? When the prince marries the princess and drift off into the sunset, what happens the next day? The next year? What happens when they grow old? Eventually one of them is going to die, leaving the other with grief and despair. Happily-ever-after, then, is a matter of where you leave off, for no story truly ends until the final bell tolls.

And this is where we turn back to stories, because nobody wants to face that ending. From birth, we’re taught that we’ll ride off into the sunset one day, and never taught what happens when the sun rises again. Because it will—with or without us. So we escape into the only world where there is a happy ending: that of fiction. There is always truth in fiction, of course; every tale, no matter how far-fetched, is drawn from the teller’s own life and experiences. Into those stories go our joys and sorrows, our failures and triumphs, but in those stories, we choose where they end. We’re in charge of our own stories.

So where do we leave off? When do we turn the last page, close the book, and shelf it again? And can our story live on after us? At the end of The Return of the King, Sam praises Frodo for finally finishing the story of the ring. Frodo’s response? “The last pages are for you.” Can we hand over the ending of our story to someone else?

Ultimately, I believe we are both in charge of our destinies and powerless against our fate. We are the tellers of our own stories, true or fiction. We tell of our lives, and all that we are. Is The Redemption of Erâth fiction? Undoubtably. Is it based on my own experiences? Absolutely. The stories have become my way of rewriting the past, and plotting out the future. Where I go from here is anyone’s guess, yet entirely in my own hands.

But one day, the ink will run out. The last page will arrive. And unlike books, there will be no re-reading it, except in memory. So I would urge you to consider: what do you want your ending to be?

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March 3, 2016

6 March #Books to Watch For

Not sure what to read this month. Here's a peek at what is racing up the charts at Goodreads.

The Two-Family House

Brooklyn, 1947: in the midst of a blizzard, in a two-family brownstone, two babies are born minutes apart to two women. They are sisters by marriage with an impenetrable bond forged before and during that dramatic night; but as the years progress, small cracks start to appear and their once deep friendship begins to unravel. No one knows why, and no one can stop it. One misguided choice; one moment of tragedy. Heartbreak wars with happiness and almost but not quite wins.

From debut novelist Lynda Cohen Loigman comes The Two-Family House, a moving family saga filled with heart, emotion, longing, love, and mystery.

Buy The Two-Family House at Amazon

Adulthood is a Myth

Are you a special snowflake? Do you love networking to advance your career? Have you never wasted a fresh new day surfing the internet? Ugh. This book is not for you. Please go away.

Sarah's Scribbles — casually drawn, perfectly on-point comics by young Brooklyn-based artist Sarah Andersen — confront head-on the horrors, anxiety, and awkwardness of modern adult life. From the agony of holding hands with a gorgeous guy to the yawning pit of hell that is the wifi gone down to the eye-watering pain of eating too-hot pizza because one cannot stand to wait for it to cool down, Sarah fearlessly documents it all.

Like the work of fellow Millennial authors Allie Brosh, Grace Helbig, and Gemma Correll, Sarah's total frankness on extremely personal issues such as body image, self-consciousness, introversion, relationships, and bra-washing makes her comics highly relatable and consistently hilarious.

Buy Adulthood is a Myth at Amazon


You can never know what goes on behind closed doors.

One of The Millions' Most Anticipated Books of the Year (Selected by Edan Lepucki)

Kyung Cho is a young father burdened by a house he can’t afford. For years, he and his wife, Gillian, have lived beyond their means. Now their debts and bad decisions are catching up with them, and Kyung is anxious for his family’s future.

A few miles away, his parents, Jin and Mae, live in the town’s most exclusive neighborhood, surrounded by the material comforts that Kyung desires for his wife and son. Growing up, they gave him every possible advantage—private tutors, expensive hobbies—but they never showed him kindness. Kyung can hardly bear to see them now, much less ask for their help. Yet when an act of violence leaves Jin and Mae unable to live on their own, the dynamic suddenly changes, and he’s compelled to take them in. For the first time in years, the Chos find themselves living under the same roof. Tensions quickly mount as Kyung’s proximity to his parents forces old feelings of guilt and anger to the surface, along with a terrible and persistent question: how can he ever be a good husband, father, and son when he never knew affection as a child?

As Shelter veers swiftly toward its startling conclusion, Jung Yun leads us through dark and violent territory, where, unexpectedly, the Chos discover hope. Shelter is a masterfully crafted debut novel that asks what it means to provide for one's family and, in answer, delivers a story as riveting as it is profound.

Buy Shelter at Amazon


From Harvard sociologist and MacArthur "Genius" Matthew Desmond, a landmark work of scholarship and reportage that will forever change the way we look at poverty in America

In this brilliant, heartbreaking book, Matthew Desmond takes us into the poorest neighborhoods of Milwaukee to tell the story of eight families on the edge. Arleen is a single mother trying to raise her two sons on the $20 a month she has left after paying for their rundown apartment. Scott is a gentle nurse consumed by a heroin addiction. Lamar, a man with no legs and a neighborhood full of boys to look after, tries to work his way out of debt. Vanetta participates in a botched stickup after her hours are cut. All are spending almost everything they have on rent, and all have fallen behind.

The fates of these families are in the hands of two landlords: Sherrena Tarver, a former schoolteacher turned inner-city entrepreneur, and Tobin Charney, who runs one of the worst trailer parks in Milwaukee. They loathe some of their tenants and are fond of others, but as Sherrena puts it, “Love don’t pay the bills.” She moves to evict Arleen and her boys a few days before Christmas.

Even in the most desolate areas of American cities, evictions used to be rare. But today, most poor renting families are spending more than half of their income on housing, and eviction has become ordinary, especially for single mothers. In vivid, intimate prose, Desmond provides a ground-level view of one of the most urgent issues facing America today. As we see families forced  into shelters, squalid apartments, or more dangerous neighborhoods, we bear witness to the human cost of America’s vast inequality—and to people’s determination and intelligence in the face of hardship.

Based on years of embedded fieldwork and painstakingly gathered data, this masterful book transforms our understanding of extreme poverty and economic exploitation while providing fresh ideas for solving a devastating, uniquely American problem. Its unforgettable scenes of hope and loss remind us of the centrality of home, without which nothing else is possible.

Buy Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City at Amazon

The North Water

A nineteenth-century whaling ship sets sail for the Arctic with a killer aboard in this dark, sharp, and highly original tale that grips like a thriller.

Behold the man: stinking, drunk, and brutal. Henry Drax is a harpooner on the Volunteer, a Yorkshire whaler bound for the rich hunting waters of the arctic circle. Also aboard for the first time is Patrick Sumner, an ex-army surgeon with a shattered reputation, no money, and no better option than to sail as the ship's medic on this violent, filthy, and ill-fated voyage.

In India, during the Siege of Delhi, Sumner thought he had experienced the depths to which man can stoop. He had hoped to find temporary respite on the Volunteer, but rest proves impossible with Drax on board. The discovery of something evil in the hold rouses Sumner to action. And as the confrontation between the two men plays out amid the freezing darkness of an arctic winter, the fateful question arises: who will survive until spring?

With savage, unstoppable momentum and the blackest wit, The North Water weaves a superlative story of humanity under the most extreme conditions.

Buy The North Water at Amazon

Rebel in the Sand

She’s more gunpowder than girl—and the fate of the desert lies in her hands.

Mortals rule the desert nation of Miraji, but mystical beasts still roam the wild and barren wastes, and rumor has it that somewhere, djinni still practice their magic. But there's nothing mystical or magical about Dustwalk, the dead-end town that Amani can't wait to escape from.

Destined to wind up "wed or dead," Amani’s counting on her sharpshooting skills to get her out of Dustwalk. When she meets Jin, a mysterious and devastatingly handsome foreigner, in a shooting contest, she figures he’s the perfect escape route. But in all her years spent dreaming of leaving home, she never imagined she'd gallop away on a mythical horse, fleeing the murderous Sultan's army, with a fugitive who's wanted for treason. And she'd never have predicted she'd fall in love with him...or that he'd help her unlock the powerful truth of who she really is.

Buy Rebel of the Sands at Amazon

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March 2, 2016

Review: Urban Mermaid by Howard Parsons

review by Elisa Hordon

Urban Mermaid

What an interesting read! I must admit I have always loved mermaids. The thought of living in the ocean would be magical but being able to have both - living in the ocean and on land - now that would be perfect.

Penelope is a shy natured mermaid who just wants to find someone to love her.

Peter is a really sweet human guy who seems to have been rejected his whole life by woman.

Can Penelope and Peter become friends and maybe one day more than friends?

Penelope comes across a bit scatter brained unless she is fully focused on a task but really she just has way to many thoughts running around her head.

I love how Penelope and Peter first meet. It's cute and shows Penelope's cheeky side.

Peter is a protective guy especially where Penelope is concerned. He is also loyal and besotted with Penelope from the very beginning. As I got further into the book, it really became apparent they were truly meant for each other; they just had life lessons to learn first before they met, which has made them stronger together.

I really enjoyed the Parsons's narratives about Mer people's customs and traditions throughout the book and how they differ from human ways. So similar in some ways, but different in others and it's interesting reading how Peter adapts to the Mer people's ways so easily like he was always meant to be one of them. Penelope has had a lifetime of straddling the human world and the Mer world so adjusting for her is a bit easier but even she struggles at times with melding those two worlds together so that she and Peter can live and enjoy both worlds instead of having to choose one way over the other.

I love the humorous banter between Peter and Penelope's parents as they get more comfortable with each other - very funny, the sprinkling of humor throughout the books is just enough. I got to laugh, love and cry throughout the book and I really enjoyed feeling those emotions while reading.

Reading through Peter's transformation from human to merman was an interesting concept that I found visually realistic in my mind as I was reading it, sometimes with supernatural topics trying to visualise what's being written is not always easy but the way the Parsons describes the transformation made it really easy for me to visualise it as real.

Introducing Penny and her parents to more human customs, traditions and holidays was touching at times and funny, I especially loved their first Christmas together and decorating the tree was very special.

Peter's revelation and explanation that Mer people are human to was very interesting and the more I read the more I could see it as either we are an evolution of them or they are an evolution of us. There are more similarities than differences.

Oh and Peter's reaction the the last part of Penny's vows was priceless, most men would love to have a woman willingly want to obey them but not Peter. He is so uncomfortable with the idea; it made me chuckle a lot but I also loved his reaction because for him Penny is the love of his life and his equal in every way. He doesn't want a wife to obey him he wants a true equal partner who works through everything with him together, once he realises why the word is in the vows he is ok with it.

One of the funniest parts was when Penny's grandparents arrived. I laughed a lot - families are just awesome entertainment value.

Posidon is the ultimate underwater matchmaker, he went to such lengths to make young Penny's wish come true. Such a great read especially for all romantics at heart.

A mermaid romance with a Fishtail/Fairytale ending, I want to be a mermaid even more after reading Urban Mermaid.

Buy Urban Mermaid at Amazon

book info
available formats: ebook and print (452 pages)
published: August 2015 by Moonlight Garden Publications
ISBN13: 978-1938281723
genres: fantasy, mythology, romance
target audience: new adult
source: Publicist

Get even more book news in your inbox by signing up for our newsletter: A free ebook was provided for this review. Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small commission is earned when purchases are made at Amazon using any Amazon links on this site. Thank you for supporting Girl Who Reads.

March 1, 2016

It's a Page Turner - I'll See You in Paris by Michelle Gable

review by Susan Roberts

I'll See You in Paris

I will start off this review where I usually end my reviews -- I'll See You In Paris by Michelle Gable is a great book and you need to read it!

The author does a fantastic job with her main characters and with a story line that keeps you guessing until the very end. I thought that I had it figured out about 3/4 of the way through but I was way off. Its a page turner that is part mystery, part love story with some laughs in between.

The main characters are Annie, a recent college graduate, just engaged to Eric who is deployed to the Middle East and doesn't seem to know quite what to do with her life; her mom Laurel, a very straight laced lawyer who also teaches horse back riding to handicapped students and Gladys Spencer-Churchill who may or may not be the Duchess of Marlborough.

The story takes place in the early 70s, in 2001 and in the late 1800s. As difficult as it may sound to weave those time periods and women together, Gable does a fantastic job of doing just that in a very entertaining way.

The main setting of the book is not Paris as the title would have you believe but at a run-down estate in England. Don't worry because Paris plays a very large role in the ultimate outcome of the story. There is so much more that I could say about this novel but I don't want to give anything away so I will just say again - it's a terrific book and you're going to love it!

Buy I'll See You In Paris at Amazon

book info
available formats: ebook, audio, print (400 pages)
published: February 2016 by Thomas Dunne Books
ISBN13: 9781250070630
genres: historical fiction, women's fiction
source: Book Browse

Get even more book news in your inbox by signing up for our newsletter: A free book was provided for this review. Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small commission is earned when purchases are made at Amazon using any Amazon links on this site. Thank you for supporting Girl Who Reads.

February 29, 2016

Fun, Fluffy Read ~ Flirting with Fame by Samantha Joyce #MondayBlogs

review by Donna Huber

Flirting with Fame
If the Queen of England booked a gig at Fernbrooke's only theater to do a lyrical jazz routine with a unicorn, I might've had an easier time finding parking that I did that night.
I dashed down Main Street, stumbling over my own feet as I texted Jin that I'd be there soon. Conveniently, I left out the part where I'd sat in the driveway for twenty minutes, covered in seat, visualizing either a mob scene or an empty building. Neither possibility stopped the hum vibrating through my skin or made it easier to start the car. That took a few deep breaths,and the knowledge that if I backed out, Jin would show up and drag me there anyway.

Flirting with Fame by Samantha Joyce was an enjoyable, though predictable, new adult chicklit novel. I was drawn to it because it was a light story, but also because it reminded me of some teen movie or something from my youth. I'm still recovering from reading dark thriller Feathered Bone by Julie Cantrell and this seemed the perfect book.

Main character Elise was left deaf and scarred after a traumatic accident wherein her best friend's sister died. The only place sound exists for her now is within her imagination. An imagination that she uses to create a bestselling novel at the age of 16. However, Elise is almost debilitating shy. Whether she was already this shy before the accident or is as a result of it is unknown.

When her publisher requests a photo for the back cover, Elise does what any shy teenager would do - she turns to Google and grabs an image. Now her books are being turned into a television show and she is required on the set.

From the opening chapter I had two main thoughts that plagued me throughout the story. One, it reminded me so much of Rainbow Rowell's Fangirl - the characters, the college setting. Which led me to two, was this originally fan fiction?

I'm not sure if it was just the similarities to Fangirl or if it was also the employment of fan fiction tropes (or at least story elements that I associate with fan fiction), especially the "creative license" Joyce took to advance the plot. In fan fiction, "creative license" is usually code for "I didn't want to take the time to learn about how something works in the real world". When writing fantasy, creative licensing is called world building and is totally acceptable. I find it a tough pill to swallow in realistic fiction, and particularly in published books.

I understand that the story wouldn't have worked if Elise had ever had a face to face meeting with her agent or publisher or if her parents had been involved in the sending of the picture. In real life, do literary agents and publishers sign authors without ever meeting them? Elise can still speak and she has excellent lip reading abilities, so a Skype meeting wouldn't have been out of the questions, particularly if travel wasn't possible.

Even with these thoughts, I enjoyed the Flirting with Fame. I loved that Joyce didn't just use a shy nerdy girl as her main character, but instead gave her a disability and physical scars that would make anyone a bit more self-conscious.

I usually shy away from "new adult", particularly in romances because it seems to be code word for "erotica with barely adult characters". While there are adult scenes, they are pretty mild. I still could have done without them all together, as I found the scenes boring.

As for fluffy reads, Flirting with Fame is a good one. Even with the things that bugged me about the book, I loved the characters that I was able to overlook it and keep reading. I'm also happy to see that this was book 1 in a series and I hope we get to delve back into the lives of Elise, Gavin, Reggie, and Clint and perhaps even see more of Veronica.

Buy Flirting with Fame at Amazon

Book info:
available formats: ebook (352 pages)
published: February 2016 by Pocket Star/Simon & Schuster
ISBN13: 9781501126833
genre: chicklit, romance
target audience: new adult
source: publisher via Netgalley

Get even more book news in your inbox by signing up for our newsletter: A free ebook was provided for this review. Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small commission is earned when purchases are made at Amazon using any Amazon links on this site. Thank you for supporting Girl Who Reads.

February 28, 2016

Embark on an Adventure with These New Releases

Spring break is right around the corner and even if you don't have a trip planned these books can take you to new places.

The Passenger

From the author of the New York Times bestselling Spellman Files series, Lisa Lutz’s latest blistering thriller is about a woman who creates and sheds new identities as she crisscrosses the country to escape her past: you’ll want to buckle up for the ride!

In case you were wondering, I didn’t do it. I didn’t have anything to do with Frank’s death. I don’t have an alibi, so you’ll have to take my word for it...

Forty-eight hours after leaving her husband’s body at the base of the stairs, Tanya Dubois cashes in her credit cards, dyes her hair brown, demands a new name from a shadowy voice over the phone, and flees town. It’s not the first time.

She meets Blue, a female bartender who recognizes the hunted look in a fugitive’s eyes and offers her a place to stay. With dwindling choices, Tanya-now-Amelia accepts. An uneasy―and dangerous―alliance is born.

It’s almost impossible to live off the grid today, but Amelia-now-Debra and Blue have the courage, the ingenuity, and the desperation, to try. Hopscotching from city to city, Debra especially is chased by a very dark secret…can she outrun her past?

With heart-stopping escapes and devious deceptions, The Passenger is an amazing psychological thriller about defining yourself while you pursue your path to survival. One thing is certain: the ride will leave you breathless.

Available March 1
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Pocket Prayers for Teacher

All the way from coloring inside the lines to calculus, teachers have given us the tools to thrive. Where would we be without them? But a teacher s job is often a difficult one. Sometimes anxiety and exhaustion become the norm. For those in need of a little peace and renewal, Max Lucado points to the Teacher who offered just that. Pocket Prayers for Teachers contains forty scriptures and guided prayers written especially for those special people, who encourage and inspire our students."

Available March 8
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No One Knows

In an obsessive mystery as thrilling as The Girl on the Train and The Husband’s Secret, New York Times bestselling author J.T. Ellison will make you question every twist in her page-turning novel—and wonder which of her vividly drawn characters you should trust.

The day Aubrey Hamilton’s husband is declared dead by the state of Tennessee should bring closure so she can move on with her life. But Aubrey doesn’t want to move on; she wants Josh back. It’s been five years since he disappeared, since their blissfully happy marriage—they were happy, weren’t they?—screeched to a halt and Aubrey became the prime suspect in his disappearance. Five years of emptiness, solitude, loneliness, questions. Why didn’t Josh show up at his friend’s bachelor party? Was he murdered? Did he run away? And now, all this time later, who is the mysterious yet strangely familiar figure suddenly haunting her new life?

In No One Knows, the New York Times bestselling coauthor of the Nicholas Drummond series expertly peels back the layers of a complex woman who is hiding dark secrets beneath her unassuming exterior. This masterful thriller for fans of Gillian Flynn, Liane Moriarty, and Paula Hawkins will pull readers into a you’ll-never-guess merry-go-round of danger and deception. Round and round and round it goes, where it stops…no one knows.

Available March 22
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Kiki Michaelson wants one wild night to forget her starving-artist worries. Simple.

Only instead of Darren Cole becoming her one-night stand, he taunts her with a challenge. Then while she’s trying to best him at his own game, he turns out to be the last thing she’s prepared for: someone she wants to keep.

Which means all he can ever be…is a friend.

Darren Cole never allows a girl to get close—not close enough to matter.

Then storms in Kiki Michaelson, a beautiful, fearless temptation that rocks his world off-balance. But he fights their attraction, unwilling to gamble something physical with their close ties. Until the passionate sculptor exposes her heart and breaks his wide open.

In that moment it becomes clear: she could never be just a friend.

Sometimes what you run from…is exactly what you need.

Available March 22
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Shopping for a Billionaire Wife

Who needs a SWAT team to escape from their own wedding? Me.

My Momzilla turned us into hostages at our own ceremony, so Declan and I are getting married the good old-fashioned way, just like everybody else.

By calling in his private security team, stealing away before the ceremony by helicopter, connecting to his corporate jet and heading for Las Vegas.

The Boston wedding of the year is about to become a trashy Elvis drive-thru ceremony.

Until the best man spills the beans and Mom, Dad, my sisters, his brothers, my maid of honor, my friend Josh, and even my cat, Chuckles, all come along for the ride.

I can’t win, can I?

Oh. Yeah. I already did.

Love conquers all.

Even my crazy family.

Shopping for a Billionaire's Wife is the 8th book in the New York Times and USA Today bestselling Shopping for a Billionaire series. After Declan convinces Shannon to escape from their own wedding minutes before the ceremony begins, the madcap adventures are just getting started. When the mother of the bride pries their location out of the tortured best man, the whole crazy crew follows the bride and groom to Las Vegas in this romantic comedy from Julia Kent.

Available March 23
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No Safe Secret

In her powerful new novel, #1 New York Times bestselling author Fern Michaels weaves a story of betrayal, courage, and starting over…

From her silver Mercedes to her designer kitchen, Molly's life is gleaming and beautiful--at least on the surface. Married to Tanner, a top cosmetic dentist, she has a wonderful daughter finishing high school and twin stepsons from Tanner's first marriage. No one in her exclusive neighborhood in Goldenhills, Massachusetts, knows what living with the demanding Tanner is really like. They know even less about the life she left behind in Florida almost two decades ago.

Back then, Molly was Maddy Carmichael, living with her twin brother and neglectful mother in a run-down trailer park amid the orange groves of Florida. After the terrible events of her high school prom night--and the act of vengeance that followed--she fled north and reinvented herself. But the veneer of Molly's polished existence is finally cracking.

As secrets old and new are revealed, Molly must face painful truths and the choices she made in their wake--and find the strength to become the woman she once hoped to be.

Available March 29
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Forever Pucked

Being engaged to Alex Waters, team captain and the highest paid NHL player in the league, is awesome. How could it not be?

In addition to being an amazing hockey player, he’s an incurable romantic with an XL heart, and an XXL hockey stick in his pants. And he knows how to use it. Incredibly, orgasmically well. Alex is the whole package and more. Literally. Like his package is insane. Total world record holder material.

So it makes complete sense that Violet Hall can’t wait to nail him down to the matrimonial mattress and become Mrs. Violet Waters.

It’s so romantic.

Violet is totally stoked to set a date.

Eventually. At some point. Likely before the next millennium. Or when Violet stops getting hives every time someone brings up the wedding, and their mothers stop colluding on stadium sized venues. Whichever comes first.

Available March 29
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Forever My Little Boy

Even when children grow up, they always remain our little ones.

All the sweetness, challenges, and thrills of parenting are lovingly shared in this heart-touching poetic short story by bestselling fiction author Karen Kingsbury. From first steps to T-ball games, riding a bike to driving a car, a lifetime goes by in the blink of an eye. This book celebrates all the ups and downs of parenting a little boy and will be a cherished keepsake for any parent.

Karen Kingsbury is a top inspirational novelist, and she imbues both nostalgia and inspiration in this sentimental book for parents of boys. This book offers a short story paired with prayers and Scripture about how quickly time goes by and the special bond between a mother or father and son.

Available March 29
Buy Forever My Little Boy at Amazon

Forever My Little Girl

Even when children grow up, they always remain our little ones.

All the sweetness, challenges, and thrills of parenting are lovingly shared in this heart-touching poetic short story by bestselling fiction author Karen Kingsbury. From playing princess to school dances, first steps to tea parties, a lifetime goes by in the blink of an eye. This book celebrates all the ups and downs of parenting a little girl and will be a cherished keepsake for any parent.

Karen Kingsbury is a top inspirational novelist, and she imbues both nostalgia and inspiration in this sentimental book for parents of girls. This book offers a short story paired with prayers and Scripture about how quickly time goes by and the special bond between a mother or father and daughter.

Available March 29
Buy Forever My Little Girl at Amazon

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