Book Review: The Kiss – The Cotiere Chronicles #1 – Michelle Bolanger

Genre: New Adult – Romance

Synopsis: Best friends since birth, Leisel Gottschalk and Baden Dietrich are months away from the ceremony that will unite them forever, until Baden learns that everything they’ve been told about their arranged union is based on lies. He knows he has to let her go, but getting her away from their families will cost them everything.

Koen Lockton is determined to make the most of his life. He’s just signed a recording and tour contract that will jump start his music career. With one year of school left before he hits the road, his life changes in a way he never would have dreamed when he hears Leisel Gottschalk’s laugh. But when she fails to recognize him for what he is, he knows something is terribly wrong.
Driven into hiding and divided by an ancient wrong, a forgotten race of people are nearing extinction. Old traditions and long held grudges will be exposed and challenged when one man risks it all to right the wrong he caused and three young lives are caught in the middle. Will they be strong enough to change the future and unite a broken people? All it will take is a single kiss, but are they willing to break her family’s rules?
My Review: As friend of the author I have watched The Kiss blossom from the seed of an idea into this beautiful love story of family ties, past hurts, prejudices, loyalty and true love. I have seen this book morph from a very rough outline into what it is today. In some ways I feel like this may disqualify me from being able to write a trustworthy review in the eyes of some people, but I do know a good book when I read one.  While talking to my husband one day over the last year I said, “Michelle is writing a book…and it is REALLY good,” Justin just raised eyebrows in surprise, because he knows how honest I can be when it comes to reading and books. My opinion has been solid from the very beginning, and not because I’m her friend and I love her dearly, but because The Kiss captured my attention from the start and begged me to read it. (Unfortunately, most of the time Michelle just wasn’t writing fast enough).
Michelle’s writing style is beautifully descriptive; she can take you into a scene and make you feel as if you were a bystander watching these characters fall for each other; she can take you into the heat of the moment and cause your heart to race, and best of all – she writes moments that will make you laugh out loud. These things are amazing qualities to find in a book – and to find them within the pages of a “first” book is even more unique and exciting. The Kiss is a great foundation for this series. Michelle feeds you all the nitty gritty and background information bit-by-bit throughout the story instead of in some introductory paragraph. You will experience twist and turns that will surprise you, all laced with a set of characters you either love, or love to hate.
I will say that while I love Leis and Koen; I am so very excited for the next book to come out. Read The Kiss– get to know the world, fall in love with Leis and Koen and their friends, and then hang on because I truly believe that the best is still yet to come!
Rated:  PG-13 – for Sensuality, this is a “clean” book
Rating: 5 Stars

Buy Here:

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About Michelle Bolanger:

Michelle Bolanger has been an avid reader all her life. In 2014 and with the encouragement of her family and friends, she decided to take the leap and publish her own books. The Kiss is her first full length novel and the beginning of what is to be a four book series titled The Cotiere Chronicles. Michelle is also a talented vocalist and amateur photographer. She enjoys going on cruises, cheering for her favorite professional hockey team, and falling asleep to the sound of auto racing on TV. Michelle lives in Ohio with her husband and two dogs.

Contact:

Book Review: Just My City Boy – V. L. Holt

Author: V.L. Holt
Genre: New Adult – Romance

**I received this book from the author for review. Other than the joy of reading, I received no compensation for this review.**

Synopsis from Goodreads:  
Two New Adults Weren’t Looking for Romance, But They Found it on the Midnight Train

Boy Mugs Girl, Girl Outsmarts Boy, Boy and Girl Go Out for Coffee?

In this sweet frolicking romp, two unlikely friends meet under crazy and heart-pounding circumstances. Zack Daniels is a 20 something trouble-maker trying to find his place in the world. When he mugs Lauren in a last ditch effort to get a ticket out of town, he gets more than he bargained for. He takes a midnight train going anywhere…but home.

Lauren Beckers is a 22 year old Southern girl trying to make a go of it in the big city. She’s never met a stranger, but she’s also a magnet for trouble. Thank goodness for her fast-talking smooth tongue and her trusty “insurance”. She takes a midnight train going anywhere…but home.

When the two meet as a result of a crime gone bad, they discover a kinship that goes beyond the normal trappings of the Millennial generation. They discover friendship, trust and something even more unbelievable to find in the dirty underbelly of a broken-down city: love.

My Review:
Just My City Boy reminded me of an old fashion classic movie in the way that the story read. I even imagined the it in black and white in the beginning; the story was melancholy until Lauren and Zack managed to come together as a couple, and then color started seeping through the cracks.
What I Loved:  Lauren was incredibly outgoing, chatty and most of the time just a riot.  I loved how she talked herself out of bad situations.  Her confidence was refreshing as it’s not a character trait often used for women in many books.  Zack was a sweet sensitive guy with that military exterior and some bad boy tendencies, it is difficult not to like him.

 I also enjoyed the “song theme” of the book, I find myself frequently matching up a song to characters in a book, but in this case the work was done for me.  If you didn’t immediately know which song I’m talking about, I challenge you to take a trip to google-land and see if you can’t figure it out….then listen to it!

Not So Much:  The characters seems to be either all “good” or “bad,” with Zack being a sort of exception.  In that way, the story felt a little bit off.  For example, Peter, Zack’s roommate, was completely on board with forgiveness without even understanding what really was going on with Zack.  That is wonderful, and I wish people were more like that – but it just doesn’t usually happen that way.
Rated:  PG-13, for mild language and mild violence
Rating: 4 Stars

~*Books by V.L. Holt*~

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Book Review: Sway, Amy Matayo

Title: Sway
Author: Amy Matayo
Synopsis from Goodreads:   

Finally settled after a tragedy-laden life, 24-year-old Caleb has found security in his faith, his friends, and his career. It’s the life he’s always wanted–simple, predictable, and safe. Enter Kate Hawkins, the attractive 21-year-old stranger he rescues from a bar fight who has an odd affinity for the color pink and a unique sense of humor. 


It doesn’t take long to realize their connection is intense, but after only a handful of dates, a shocking revelation surfaces. Lines are drawn, sides are taken, and loyalties are decided as their newfound relationship is brought to a sudden halt.


But unlike most couples who split, avoiding each other is impossible. As daily interactions become unbearable, one realization becomes clear: they’ve both fallen hard for the absolute wrong person, which leaves both scrambling for a way to make it right.


My Review:
I have to admit, when I think of Christian Fiction books, my first thought is ‘it’s probably cheesy at best, preachy at worst.’  There are some great, GREAT Christian books out there, there are great fiction books about stories of the bible out there as well, not written specifically to be Christian.  Even though that is true, the vast majority of Christians Fiction books are not very good, and are just not a story that you can relate to; and that is a sad thing.  I think there are a million and one historical Christian novels, and I’ve read one or two and have found them enjoyable, but they are just kind of bland, and I don’t want to read a million and one renditions of the same story. I AM a Christian, and I AM a reader – I love to read books, but I do not seek out Christian Fiction.  However, that may be changing, because in the last year I’ve found at least two authors who know how to write a faith-based novel that speaks to my heart, and whose characters are real and believable, and whose setting is…well, current both in timeline and in life in general.

I love Sway, that is the plain and simple truth.  I’m not sure if this was her heart, but Amy Matayo has written a book that is not necessairly meant to entice you to Christ (though, it might happen) but a book that was written for a Christian to speak to a Christ-like heart.  I found myself reflected both in Kate and Caleb at different times; their struggles were real, the passion was real, and the romance (YES, we Christians like the heat too) was so real.  Throw in some great supporting characters, one secretary stands out specifically, and you’ve got this awesome heart-filled and compelling novel.  My own faith and attitude towards some of the people in my life was challenged while reading this book.  So, thank you Amy, for taking my pre-concieved notions of what a Christian Romance probably looks like and throwing it out the door.  Thank you for writing a novel that entertained me, and also  challenged me.  Please, keep it up!


Rated:  PG – very clean
Genre: New Adult – Christian Fiction; Romance
Rating:  5 Stars

~* Books by Amy Matayo *~
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Book Review: Doves for Sale – Lila Felix

Author: Lila Felix
Synopsis from Goodreads:   

“Love isn’t crazy. Love isn’t a degree of insanity. Love is sanity at its purest. It forces your soul to make a rational choice—a choice to make another person’s happiness your priority, to allow them access to your heart and soul. Letting Ezra go was choosing to love him. Letting him go was the best way you knew how to choose his joy over your own. I can see it in both of you. This love isn’t one that will go down without a fight.” 


Seven months is a long time to wait.

Ezra has three goals. There is no choice. He has to get better, for himself and for Aysa.

Except, his best friend Roman has moved in in his absence. He’s given Ezra’s girl a shoulder to cry on, a hand to hold, and a fighting chance at winning her heart.

Aysa knows who her heart belongs to.

But loving Ezra is no easy task.

Ezra never promised simple, he only promised his heart.

Aysa has two paths in front of her, one carries peace and one carries a love that never ends.


My Review:
Doves for Sale is what I would call a ‘big goofy grin book,’ as that is what was on my face for nearly the entire thing; I loved the fun-ness between Ezra and Aysa, yeah their lives are still pretty crazy (who’s isn’t, really?) and they still had stuff to work through, but I was just in love with these characters getting back together and finding some stability and trust between them.  Then there was the new friendship between Knox and Aysa, and their banter that at times had me laughing out loud – he is my new favorite supporting character….at least for this month.  While this book didn’t have as much conflict as Sparrows for Free, it provided that “sigh” worthy HEA that I love.  I truly did love this book and do recommend it, however you must read Sparrows for Free first, or else it will feel a bit lacking – the hardest parts of Ezra and Aysa’s story can be found in the first book.  While this book had some difficulties of it’s own, it wasn’t nearly as heavy nor, thankfully, as melancholy.

Rated: PG-13  
Genre: New Adult – Romance
Rating:  4 Stars

Book Review: Dethroning Crown – Lila Felix

Title: Dethroning Crown
Author: Lila Felix
Synopsis from Goodreads:   

Number ten is plastered on his team jersey and on his ego. In his own mind, Crown Sterling is the shit. He dates the prettiest women, he dominates on the soccer field, he pours money out of his pockets like it’s water. Until a debilitating knee injury puts him out of commission on and off the field. He’s sent to an isolated town in Louisiana to recoup, undergo physical therapy and heal. But it’s when you’re down that you find out who your real friends are, and what they value in you, if anything at all.


All Lyra wants out of life is peace and quiet. She grew up with a regular, everyday family. When she turned sixteen, rummaging through her grandmother’s hope chest in the attic, she discovered a secret that would turn her simple, normal life into a ball of chaos that revolved around her. But while she seems to face her fears head on in her career, she lives a life that’s secure and well hidden.


A new neighbor moved in next door and he’s decided that everyone needs to listen to his rap music, shattering Lyra’s quiet existence. Enraged, she stomps to the next townhouse over and who should open the door but a man whose good looks and charming smile knock her breathless.


How good looking? Just ask him.


How charming? He’ll tell you that too.


The king must be dethroned.


And a small town girl who’s been through hell is just the one to do it.

My Review:
I thoroughly enjoyed reading Dethroning Crown,  so much that if I had the time I probably would have read it all in one sitting.  When I first started the book I wasn’t sure I was ever going to actually be able to like Crown by the end of the story; he was just too much ego and honestly, silly with entitlement issues, but as aspects of his life are revealed and you start to understand him, he is easy to fall for.   His sensitive side was wildly attractive. (And honestly, any time you pair a guy with a kitten, even for a short time, it’s bound to be attractive. But that’s just my opinion).  Lyra was such a sweet person even from the onset, I was ready for great things to happen for her right away.  So basically, these two characters got under my skin and I wanted to make them my friends.

I loved that the heat between Crown and Lyra was a growing process throughout the book and that the characters were not pinning for each other within the first few chapter.  Lyra and Crown may have appreciated each other’s appearances from the start, but anything beyond that had to be cultivated, they had to learn to like each other before there was anything more.  The supporting characters helped out a lot with this too,  especially on Crown’s side, as he was figuring out his life and the fact that he was basically a big ball of arrogant soccer player, and that was about it.  There was also Lyra’s fears to work out and understand, and ienjoyed how even though we knew the reason why Crown was who he was pretty quickly, Lyra’s whole story came out and bits and pieces.  All of these things made this story of two people that, from a distance should seem bigger than life, just regular people with issues that needed to be fleshed out.

Rated:  PG-13; Mild cussing, some sensuality but mostly clean
Genre: New Adult – Romance
Rating:  5 Stars

Book Review: Sparrows for Free – Lila Felix

Author: Lila Felix
Synopsis from Goodreads:   

There are skeletons in every closet. Some stay quiet—and some rule your soul with an iron fist.


Ezra is ruled by the ghosts of his past—and needled by the guilt they create. Not only does he have to manage his own guilt—his friends are forced to bear the weight as well. He lives in limbo, never dreaming of anything that lies beyond the grave.

In his mind, he’s a murderer, pure and simple.


Hide and seek is Aysa’s game. She begs for small spaces and empty places. But, she secretly desires so much more.

When they find each other, a hope for something new is sprung.

But Ezra’s skeletons are out for blood.


“I hide shock well. I’m a pro at hiding. I have no idea that whatever he had to tell me would be so personal—so heartbreaking. But, I quickly remembered that heartbreak was all around him every time he turned around. He needs no more empathy or sympathy in his life. He craves someone to give him a different take on a tired situation.

And different is practically my middle name.”

My Review:
I had read Lila Felix’s Love and Skate book a few months ago, and while the story line was really good and I did like the characters, the whole book felt a little stiff and needed quite a bit of editing; the lesson I have learned is never judge an author by previous work, and honestly I never would have pegged myself for doing something like that, but I know that is exactly what I was doing every time I scrolled past Sparrows for Free on my kindle and bumping it down the line of my TBR pile; thankfully a friend talked some sense into me and told me I would really like this book, and she was right!  The story of two messed up people and the road to their recovery was beautifully written. The characters were people I really wanted to get to know.  Asya, was someone I could realate to in some ways; not necessairily in the hiding from life – but while growing up there were moments when I felt like I was invisible.  I loved Asya’s gradual increase of self esteem and how she  stood up for herself; she didn’t wake up one day and decide to be different – it was a work in process.  If nothing else, Sparrows for Free will trap you into a story that you absolutely have to finished, if for no other reason than to see Asya and Ezra find themselves and begin to move past who they are and into who they should be.

Rated:  PG-13 – Mild cussing, a bit of sensuality
Genre: New Adult – Romance
Rating:  4 Stars

Book Review: The Law of Moses – Amy Harmon

Author: Amy Harmon
Synopsis from Goodreads:   

If I tell you right up front, right in the beginning that I lost him, it will be easier for you to bear. You will know it’s coming, and it will hurt. But you’ll be able to prepare.


Someone found him in a laundry basket at the Quick Wash, wrapped in a towel, a few hours old and close to death. They called him Baby Moses when they shared his story on the ten o’clock news – the little baby left in a basket at a dingy Laundromat, born to a crack addict and expected to have all sorts of problems. I imagined the crack baby, Moses, having a giant crack that ran down his body, like he’d been broken at birth. I knew that wasn’t what the term meant, but the image stuck in my mind. Maybe the fact that he was broken drew me to him from the start.


It all happened before I was born, and by the time I met Moses and my mom told me all about him, the story was old news and nobody wanted anything to do with him. People love babies, even sick babies. Even crack babies. But babies grow up to be kids, and kids grow up to be teenagers. Nobody wants a messed up teenager.


And Moses was messed up. Moses was a law unto himself. But he was also strange and exotic and beautiful. To be with him would change my life in ways I could never have imagined. Maybe I should have stayed away. Maybe I should have listened. My mother warned me. Even Moses warned me. But I didn’t stay away.


And so begins a story of pain and promise, of heartache and healing, of life and death. A story of before and after, of new beginnings and never-endings. But most of all…a love story. 


My Review:
I’m a fan of paranormal books, although I usually like to know when I’m reading one, The Law of Moses took me by surprise in that area, however the way that it is lightly paranormal mixed with real life written so well makes this book exceptionally awesome. Additionally Moses and Georgia’s relationship unfolding scene by scene made this book very difficult to put down.  At first I thought the book was going to take the well worn story line of bad boy, trouble maker chasing after and ultimately winning over the nice, ‘perfect,’ innocent town girl; so I was happy when the story started down a different road all together and was filled with love, heartache,  mystery and suspense.  In this story it was Georgia doing all the initiating, making all the first moves and practically throwing herself at Moses, to which he eventually relents.  The “bad boy” persona of Moses is all drummed up gossip while he’s truly a stand-up guy who just wants to protect those people he actually cares for, and this makes him all the more appealing. Though, what I absolutely loved were the words forming the sentences making the book; this book was like reading one of the paintings Moses was plastering to the wall – very lyrical and colorful, one of those books that is very easy to picture in your imagination.

Rated:  Pg-13; some sensuality a bit of cussing I think…the rest of the book was so entrancing I can’t remember much cussing.  Any and all scenes of intimacy are spoken of emotionally rather than descriptions of the act.
Genre: New Adult 
Rating: 5 Stars – Beautifully Written