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What’s Not Lost

What’s Not Lost by Valerie Taylor is a heartwarming story about new beginnings. When Kassie O’Callaghan’s abusive ex-husband passes away, she puts the past to rest and gets ready to finally move on to the next chapter of her life. However, as she plans to start a new life, shattering, life-altering news is shared about Kassie, her ex-husband, and events of the past, which can impact Kassie’s ability to move on successfully. As family drama escalates, Kassie wonders if her chance for a new life with her fiancé may be derailed.

This romantic drama is filled with turmoil, heartache, and moments of nail-biting suspense. As Kassie tries to unravel the layers of drama around her, she must decide how to proceed with her upcoming marriage. Will she be happy with her fiancé, welcomed into his family, or will the impact of constant drama destroy any chance she has at a decent life? It’s a story about the complexities of life, with colorful characters and no shortage of excitement.

Taylor does a great job of developing the characters’ personalities, from Kassie’s indecisive, pushover ways and her failed attempts to become more confident to Chris’ habitual cheating and Lexi’s carelessness, creating a page-turning story. As Kassie weighs her options and how her life will be affected by getting entangled in the lives of everyone involved, she must decide if her engagement with Chris is worth the trouble or if she should break it off. While no decision is ideal, the storyline winds through several relationships, focusing on the portrayal of romance and the difficulties that follow.

What’s Not Lost by Valerie Taylor is a story about the ugly side of romance, and new love, when honesty isn’t valued, and tragedy follows. I found this book entertaining, dramatic, and the characters interesting. It’s a well-developed story and is a great option for fans of the romance and drama genre.

Pages: 321 | ASIN : B0BNLQS1DQ

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How To Bust A Player

How to Bust a Player is a romantic novel filled with humor. This entertaining novel follows the story of three friends, Myisha, Rochelle, and Shalece, as they contend with the messy side of relationships. Throughout their years of marriage and dating, they have come to know that unfaithful men are just a part of the game. That is why they learned how to bust a player, and now they’re teaching you. The novel is a spin on the 90s film, How to Be a Player. If you enjoy books with themes like Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man: What Men Really Think About Love, Relationships, Intimacy, and Commitment, this book may be for you.

Author Jerri Smith-Baker starts the story with background information on how men and women operate, particularly in sexual and intimate relationships. The provocative language used in the book is not for the faint of heart. However, Jerri is blunt and honest with her descriptions and assessments.

The story’s plot is captivating, and I wanted to know more about these women and their stories. I found myself connecting with Myisha, Rochelle, and Shalece because they are hard-working women who have had bad experiences dating, and at the end of the day, they are there for each other. I felt like I was reading a play, especially the way the author sets up each of the women’s backstories for the reader.

How to Bust a Player follows three women who experience love, lust, and disappointments, but at the end of the day, they are strong women who just want to be in a committed relationship. I recommend this book to those who want to enjoy a story of friendship and the trials and tribulations of relationships.

Pages: 192 | ISBN: 145209716X

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Parts of a Whole: A Pit Bull Love Story

On the surface, Kerry seems to have it all together, a successful photography business, a happy home with her mother, and a son that she adores. In reality, though, she struggles, and mightily. Each day is its own challenge due in no small part to her severe dyslexia and lingering emotional scars from her abusive marriage. At least she finds comfort in the fact that her son, himself struggling with autism, seems to be doing well with his unofficial therapy dog, Angel, and the routine that they all share. That is until Kerry’s mom invites a tenant to live in their guest home. With Noah’s arrival, life suddenly becomes much more complicated, albeit also more interesting.

Described as a “pit bull love story,” Parts of a Whole by Janet Franks Little is a charming story that combines various pieces of everyday life in a way that is both relatable and engaging. Kerry spends her days in a routine that accommodates her son and fulfills her creative vision as a freelance photographer. Living with her disability makes a routine as vitally necessary as her son’s dog Angel, the adopted pit bull that seems to share a bond with the boy. The story repeatedly returns to the bonds people form with their pets, stressing how they become full-fledged family members. 

Despite exploring a variety of heavy subjects such as emotional and physical abuse, PTSD, and complicated family relationships, the author does a great job of keeping the book from ever feeling dark and emotionally exhausting. Kerry’s relationship with her mother, India, is a beautiful representation of the mother / daughter bond that sustains so many young women in their lives. While Noah’s character comes off as stiff and stereotypical, he still has enough depth to create interest. 

Healing is a huge theme in Parts of a Whole, as Kerry slowly begins to realize that she is more than just a part and accepts that she isn’t defined by her disability. As she regains the confidence her ex-husband stole from her, she finds the courage to do and say more of what she actually wants and sees that growth in her son at the same time. All in all, it’s a heartwarming story that never suffers from its own weight.

It took no time at all to get completely invested in Kerry’s life, and with each new secret she revealed, the feeling of knowing her personally only increased. There were parts that I felt were convenient and picture-perfect, but sometimes that’s exactly what you need. Parts of a Whole: A Pit Bull Love Story is a stirring and heartfelt romance novel that will leave you feeling good about life.

Pages: 332 | ASIN : B09Z7DBG7W

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Second Chance -The Adventures of Gianni & Pepina

Dr. Gianni Pisano, a once up-and-coming medical doctor, finds himself in South France years later, succumbing to his vices. Embracing a life full of drugs and alcohol, he is adamant in making sure that his troubles are always out of his mind, particularly his wife’s tragic death a few years past. During his isolation, he meets Pepina Soler, a Catalonian woman that may just be his saving grace. As the two bond over what the south of France has to offer — food, nature, and art — they also learn a thing or two about life, love, and the second chances they offer.

Second Chance – The Adventures of Gianni & Pepina, by Giuseppe Scarpine, is a captivating story that will leave you longing for a summer getaway in rural France, all while contemplating universal questions we have asked ourselves for a long time. Combined with humorous lines and scenes here and there, this book keeps the feeling of its readers light as they look forward to the two characters’ next adventures in the coming pages.

For a person living in the city, a book set in an entirely different place was something I eagerly welcomed, and the author’s detailed explanation of the surroundings helped build my imagination. In a way, South France’s comfort to its citizens and tourists extended to its audience. Furthermore, the large number of characters was given an equal place in the story, for each contributed in one way or another. While some scenes are more memorable than others, the flow of the story made sense in such a way that despite the beauty and comedy of the book, its thought-provoking aspects will surely leave a reader’s mind creating questions and answers simultaneously. By the end of the story, not everything was answered, opening the events up for another book, but it still felt as if the events had a full-circle moment, leaving me with a smile on my face as I finally turned the last page.

This is highly recommended for anyone interested in reading about soul searching, travel, and lifestyle. The comedic approach will also serve as a great pull to potential readers since reading books about the said categories can sometimes be too focused on giving tips and advice. Second Chance – The Adventures of Gianni & Pepina can also be read by those in their 50s or older, for the characters will resonate with them and might give these readers inspiration to take on new adventures without the hindrance of age.

Pages: 264 | ASIN : B09952D5FJ

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Under the Aurora Sky

Lee is a city guy who has to work in a wildlife magazine to save his journalism career. To prove his capabilities he agrees to step out of his comfort zone and go on an expedition in the Great Bear Rainforest. He is taken by surprise when he meets his tour guide, Dani Skybird, a strong, perceptive but pessimistic woman. While forming a nascent love with nature, Isaak’s city habits cause trouble for his survival. With Dani guiding him a journey of self-discovery begins, helping Isaak appreciate a new lifestyle that might not keep his nails clean, but will surely keep his heart full of joy.

Under the Aurora Sky by Elissa Daye and Karen Fuller is a romantic adventure novel that uses nature as a backdrop to tell a heartfelt love story that is punctuated by some fun and dramatic moments. The story is colored by themes of love and friendship, making this a feel-good drama that will leave you feeling warm and fuzzy.

This is an easy novel to get through. It is barley over 200 pages I was able to finish this book quickly because of the clear writing that keeps the focus on the characters and moving the story forward, all while giving you the feels.

The conflict between city dwellers and survivalists is contrasted beautifully through the two protagonists. While there is certainly a preference towards nature in this book I liked how the gender roles were reversed in this story. Isaak’s character goes through the largest change throughout the story and I enjoyed watching how he evolved. The authors make sure readers are with him every step of his self-discovery journey. While sowing the seeds of a romantic relationship, the authors emphasize how true companionship is important. Dani changes his outlook on life while he changes her perception of love.

Under the Aurora Sky is an adventure-filled love story that will keep readers engaged right up until the very end. Fans of romance will enjoy the exotic backdrop to this sentimental story and any reader will feel the warmth of companionship this book has to offer.

Pages: 225 | ASIN: B0BD2L21LS

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The Fifth Horseman

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The Fifth Horseman by Jon Smith is the supernatural story of Emma, a woman who is fed up with how her life is going. She decides to end her troubles by jumping off a building. Sadly, her flatmate Mark shows up attempting to get her to rethink things, as well as delivering an unwanted declaration of love. Instead of hitting the sidewalk, the pair are suddenly whisked away by a skeletal being on a pale horse, Death.

Something has caused their life’s hourglasses to freeze in their final moments. Not knowing what to do with this duo caught between life and death, Death takes them home to Limbo, where they eventually become his apprentices. These unlikely reapers soon learn not all is well in the order of death, and if the issues progress, it could end the world. Can Death’s problems be the salvation of their existence?

Jon Smith has crafted a beautiful world that is easy to imagine yourself transported into. It gives a unique twist on the afterlife. I liked the blending of ideas like the Christian horsemen and Greek ferryman. I love that Death has a cottage by the River Styx where the dead trends of yesteryears are his décor and food options. This is a similar case we find with the other horsemen, whose homes also collect items of their area of expertise from the bygone era. This humorous fantasy novel has entertaining humor throughout. Readers experience things like a curmudgeon Death, who’s getting too “old” for the job, and a gold-obsessed ferryman, Charon, who bemoans the lack of gold coin on modern souls. We even have Pestilence, who’s so into his job of creating illness he tests his new diseases on himself sometimes. The book, while funny at times, also had great thought-provoking moments that make you contemplate life.

If I have one recommendation for this novel, it is to add some translations of some French phrases. Some you can guess, but some are not entirely clear about what is being said. I think a footnote for these would be helpful for readers less familiar with the phrases.

The Fifth Horseman by Jon Smith is a comical fiction novel that readers who love a good spin on death will enjoy. This book created an exciting story of the afterlife and what happens when its delicate balance is upset. It had great depictions of the horseman, the ferryman, and just two average joes who are caught in the middle of the game of life and death.

Pages: 320 | ISBN: 9781838452940

Grayality

The LGBTQ+ community has become more mainstream and visible than ever, but for those who live in small or rural towns, they may still struggle. Pate Boone, a young transman in his 20s, knows this all too well. When he moves to the tiny rural town of Cloverleaf with his best friend Oakley Ogden, he does not expect much. Neither does Oakley to be honest, but to their surprise, both end up finding love with mixed results.

Grayality by Carey PW is a raw look at what not only transgender people and those questioning their sexuality/identity go through on their road to acceptance. At times, Pate and Oakley’s story can get downright uncomfortable. Homophobic slurs and behaviors are thrown about in a way you would expect from a conservative and judgemental community. However, it does the job of painting the environment these friends are trying to navigate and survive in. Despite this, they still put their heart out there, trying to look for love. For queer kids, more is at stake than just their hearts.

No character is a hundred percent perfect. Pate and Oakley, themselves have their own flaws. The author creates these three-dimensional characters that you can’t help but root for. Some villains or bullies might appear two-dimensional, but any queer kid living in a small town will tell you how persuasive homophobia can be. This is yet another thing Carey PW gets perfectly in this book. He truly holds nothing back in his depiction of these homophobic townies (such as Bullet) who are fueled by their hatred.

I am giving Grayality written by Carey PW 5 out of 5 stars for its authentic portrayal of what it is like to be on the LGBT spectrum and the harassment that can be directed towards them. This might be a difficult read. Yet, this makes it such a memorable one! It holds no punches and has readers on edge till the end.

Pages: 297 | ASIN : B0B1F4TJJX

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Blood Thinners 

Blood Thinners starts with a great first line that immediately hooks readers and throws them right into the storyline. Detective Mina Summers, the daughter of the leader of the organization known as SHAP (Supernatural Human Accountability Partnership), is just one assignment away from becoming Regional Director for the agency. Should she obtain this position, she will be the youngest one in the agency’s history. There is nothing and no one that will stand in her way. That is at least until she receives her one last assignment.

Detective Summers’s final assignment is to look into a celebrity-endorsed retreat that guarantees weight loss permanently. SHAP finds this claim suspicious, especially in light of the increased number of cases involving rogue vampires randomly making attacks. Mina and her partner Jake are anxious to wrap up this case and move on. However, the Vice President and daughter of Thinner CEO, Carma, might have other ideas.

Mina is the leading lady in this story, and even though she is a bit standoffish, you cannot help but love her character and the character she becomes. Novak does an excellent job of character development, not just with Mina but with all the characters in the book. Sebastian is Mina’s ghost roommate who is obsessed with the movie Titanic. Jake is Mina’s SHAP partner and best friend. He is the level-headed one of the two and tries to keep Mina grounded.

While reading Blood Thinners, I was reminded of the writing style of Lauren Weisberger, i.e., The Devil Wears Prada, and shortly into the book, there is a comparison of the CEO to Miranda. This familiar writing style is engaging, draws readers into the action, and builds attachment to the characters.

Blood Thinners is a fast-paced romantic mystery with LGBTIA+ characters. With excellent and robust world-building, readers will be able to escape into the world created and experience a love story that is heartwarming and heartbreaking.

Pages: 303 | ASIN : B09CK8GHTH

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