Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Series Spotlight – Preload by Scarlett Cole

Part 2
Since I got rather wordy in my enthusiasm for this series, I thought it best to break it into two parts so as not to overwhelm anyone reading this whom might be interested in reading this wonderful series.
(Be interested, Be Very Interested)
 
Nikan Rebuilt
 

I wanted to start my reading year of 2018 with a bang.  I was reading a different book and while I was enjoying it well enough it didn’t have the wow factor I was looking for.  So when I got notice this book had downloaded, I put the other book aside and picked this one right away.  Based on how much I enjoyed the first two books in this series, I thought Nikan Rebuilt would be a winner.  And boy was it ever.

This is a second chance at love story.  Nikan and Jenny both grew up in the foster care system, both in group homes.  While their lives before they ended up in the system were horrendous, Nikan was fortunate to end up in a very good group home with very caring staff and fellow residents he bonded with to the point where they became more than best friends, they became brothers and formed the band Preload which has gone on to become an extremely famous heavy metal band.  We have already seen 3 of the band members get their story, now it’s Nikan’s turn.  He and Jenny meet in high school when Jenny is being bullied and Nikan saves her.  From that moment, they become a couple and though both very young, they were very much in love and thought they would last forever.

Fast forward a number of years, Nikan and the band are very successful and one night while on tour, Dikan makes a mistake that changes the course of his life and Jenny ends things and disappears.

Now it’s current time and eight years later.  Jenny has returned and is temporarily head of the group home that Nikan and the rest grew up in.  Because they all are still very much involved with the home and the boys living there, Nikan runs into Jenny again and his feelings for Jenny are just as deep and all encompassing as they ever were and Jenny is still greatly in love with Nikan but what he did devastated her and she is doubtful she can forgive him.  Nikan knows how badly he screwed up and how much he lost and he just wants a chance to show her who he is now.
That’s the outline of the story and now I have to start the raving and rave I will do.  This book is incredible.  Every woman should have a Nikan.  Yep he screwed up and badly.  But his explanation for what happened was believable and makes the reader much more sympathetic.  As the oldest, he’s always been the mother hen of the group and does what’s best for them rather than himself.  For example, he doesn’t really like doing heavy metal and would like to change it up but he knows another member of the group uses it as an outlet for his rage.  It’s Nikan who arranges for them all to live in the same house as it’s something that Jordan needs because of his issues.
But now Nikan has to look after his own problems and concentrate less on the other members, especially since getting Jenny to forgive him and give him another chance.  He’s at a turning point in his life and the author does such a great job in letting reader ‘feel’ his confusion and frustration and his longing for Jenny and his guilt for what he did that split them up.  He’s one of the best heroes I’ve read in a while – and I’ve read some really good ones.

I would say that Nikan makes the book but Jenny is such a wonderful heroine that she deserves as much credit for this being such a great read as he does.  She’s still very deeply in love but she’s clear with him that she doesn’t trust him, that he needs to earn it back if that’s even possible.  One thing that sets this book higher than many they talk things through.  The both realize that they have to be open and honest if there is any hope for them.  There’s no big misunderstandings, they are both mature and intelligent people.
I say this in each of the Preload reviews but something else that really sets these ones above for me is they take place in Toronto, a city I’ve visited many a time.  One scene takes place at Rogers Centre (though it will always be Skydome to me) and as a family we would go there 4 or 5 times a summer to catch the Jays.  Eaton’s centre is mentioned and as I’ve been there quite often I can close my eyes and see it.  And most of all Ms. Cole mentions Tim Horton’s a lot.  Now not many people outside of Canada know this probably but there is almost a symbiotic relationship between “Timmies” and most Canadians.  It’s the go to place for coffee – though I myself stop at Mickey D’s to pick up my morning coffee on the way to work.  But EVERYONE knows about Timmies.  The author married a Canadian and lived in Canada for a while so she really ‘gets’ things.

Something else that gets mentioned in this book that puts it way up high is her referencing the struggle that Indigenous  People went through for many years and are still struggling with to this day to what was done to them.  The Canadian government, in their unbelievable and unconscionable arrogance stole the children away from their parents and put them in ‘schools’ were they were stripped of their culture, their language, everything that made them an important nation.
A great deal of thanks goes to the late Gord Downie of The Tragically Hip for letting the average Canadian know about this great dark part of Canada’s history.

The inclusion of this storyline makes this a very emotional book.  Nikan father was First Nations and after ignoring his heritage for most of his life, this is something he starts considering.  I felt this really added something special to the book.  It wasn’t done in any kind of preachy tone at all, but more of an added feature to the story.

Grade: 5 out of 5


Lennon Reborn


And now we come, sadly, to the final book of this amazing series about the heavy metal band Preload.  They started with The Purest Hook which was actually part of a different series and then carried on as their own series with Jordan Reclaimed.  I am SO going to miss these guys though I can go back and ‘see’ them again in rereads, but it won’t be quite the same.

Lennon McCartney – yep, he knows, is the youngest band member and the jerk of the group.  Throughout the series, he’s been the one to say stupid and crass things and he hasn’t fully engaged with the other four.  But despite this, the others still consider him their brother and ad the drummer, a very vital part of the group.  But every so often in previous books Ms. Cole would drop just the smallest of hints that that who we were seeing wasn’t the real Lennon so anticipation for his story has been building.  By now he’s the only one who hasn’t found a love interest and it’s not long into the story when we find out why.
Lennon had such a sad and traumatic childhood that he doesn’t understand the concept of love and as a result of being completely ignored by this young teenage mother, he is unable to really connect with anyone which explains why he isn’t as close to his ‘brothers’.  He also constantly expects them to reject him so he self-sabotages himself.  He’s always been more of a loner but with all his band members finding the love of their lives, he’s even more isolated and envy has crept in.

And his mind never gives him a rest.  It’s constantly racing, telling he’s no good, everyone will leave him and he’ll all alone.  It’s heartbreaking reading his inner dialogue thoughts.  The only thing that really gives him any real happiness is his drumming

This is where his head’s at when his whole life is turned upside down.  The band is involved in a bus crash and Lennon is hurt in a life altering way.  Dr. Georgia Starr is a legendary neurosurgeon who happens to see the crash and she jumps into action trying to save the victims.  When it’s Lennon’s turn, he pleads with her to just let him go.  But from the moment she touches him there is an almost electric current between them and Georgia know she will do whatever it takes to heal Lennon from his demons.
Georgia has her own battles to deal with.  She’s the only girl in her misogynistic family and despite her incredible talent as a doctor, her father and brothers are constantly judging and belittling her even though she’s the best neurosurgeon in the family.  Added to that is the fact her father and brother resent her since her beloved grandfather left the apartment building she lives in to her and no one else.  So both of these two people are struggling.

I don’t think I have enough words to say how much I enjoyed this book and indeed, this whole series.  The reader can feel the pain Lennon went through in his childhood and how it’s affected his whole life.  Even the good things are tainted with his self-doubt and low self-esteem.  Although it takes him a while to let Georgia know the particulars, she still sees he is in a great deal of pain tries to help him and reassure Lennon that she is there for him.
Lennon in turn, wants to show Georgia that there is more to life than just work.  While he is really impressed with her talents as a doctor, he wants to see her life more balanced.  They are really the exact person the other needs and both need the other.  They are simply wonderful.

This isn’t meant as a criticism, as much as a wish though.  The other books in the series take place in Toronto, a city I know, while not that well, still well enough to know many of the locations the author mentions.  Lennon Reborn however, takes place mainly in NYC.  This is the city Georgia works in and close to the accident.  Lennon has had to stay behind to recuperate and sent the rest of his ‘brothers’ home to Toronto and their families even though he does need them.  This is just another example of his tendency for self-sabotage.  But Georgia keeps him holding on. But it was real nice to almost have ties to the setting.
I also with there were a few more scenes between the band members, Dred, Jordan, Elliot, Nic and Lennon.  The bond between these five is one of the real gems of this series.  But again there aren’t as many as Lennon is off by himself for the majority of this book.

The third wish is some kind of feedback on their music.  As the members find love, their pain is directed into heavy metal and as they each find happiness, some of them want to change the tenor of their music.  It would have been nice to have an epilogue to the epilogue to see how Preload change of direction fared.  But other than those wishes, this book is simply a wonderful read about overcoming hardship and tragedy.
Jordan Reclaimed is my favourite book of all of them, but this one is a very close second and the whole Preload series gets huge kudos and recommendations from me.  As I said at the beginning, I’m really going to miss these guys.

Grade: 5 out of 5
Final Thoughts: I do believe that of all the series in all genres I’ve read over the years, Preload is the best I’ve ever read book for book.  There have been other series I’ve loved, but the love has varies over the course of them. One or two might have been A books and then a couple of others may have been B or B- books.  But Every. Single. Book in this series is an A or A+ read for me.
Every one is an emotional wringer in a totally wonderful way and I loved seeing each one of them overcome their broken childhoods with the help of the women they love.  I know this is a series I’ll be reading over and over again and it gets the highest recommendation that I can give.
 

 

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Series Spotlight - Preload Series by Scarlett Cole

Part 1


I must admit I have some scathingly brilliant ideas for blog posts.  Then I get stymied for any number of reasons.  But this is my latest brilliant idea.  I gave every book in the Preload series a 5 out of 5 or higher.  I’ve read all of them except for the final book at least twice and the only reason I haven’t reread the last one is it just came out a short time ago and I haven’t had a chance yet.  But I will read it again, oh yes I will.  So here are my thoughts on this magnificent series.
 
The Purest Hook - Second Circle Tattoos # 3
 
 
Although part of a different series by Scarlett Cole, this is also the first book of a new series she’s written about a heavy metal band, Peload.  The other band members are only briefly mentioned and it’s not necessary to read this one first if you plan on reading the Preload series, which I highly recommend.  I read this book after reading the first couple of books and my reaction when reading this one was, “oh, OK, so that’s how they met each other.”  And also a point I should mention is that while I did enjoy this one, the rest of the Preload books, I found, were much more enjoyable.

Dred Zanders is the hero and the first member of the group Preload, that we get to know. We first meet him when he and Trent, one of the heroes of the Second Circle Tattoos Series, work together on a tattooing reality show where both are judges. Dred is very successful in his music career but also very down to earth. He comes to visit Trent at Second Circle where he meets Pixie aka Sarah Jane Travers. She works as an office manager and aspiring tattoo artist at Second Circle. Trent and Cujo, another tattoo artist had found her at the lowest time in her life and helped her get back on her feet and make a good life for herself.

Dred is smitten with her and keeps asking her out but she figures he's way over her head and keeps saying no even though she's also become smitten with him. Because of this she eventually agrees and they start a long distance relationship. He lives in Toronto part of the time and LA part of the time so it begins to become a real problem working Miami in but he's finding it harder and harder to be apart from Pixie. That is until he finds out about her past and that changes everything.  Dred over reacts to what he finds out and walks away from Pixie without

Both Dred and Pixie are great although I do want to smack Dredd a good one on his reaction when he finds out about Pixie. It's not like he hasn't sprung something big on her and she wasn't fazed at all. But thankfully he doesn't take too long to see the error of his ways and does the grovel us readers love so much.

 

So this works as the set up book for the series.


Grade: 4 out of 5


Jordon Reclaimed
 
Wowzers, where have you been Scarlett Cole? I was checking out book lists by other readers with similar tastes and came across this one.  The price was right, I hadn’t read any by this author, the storyline sounded good so I took a chance.  I started it as soon as I got home from work and simply couldn’t put it down.  This book blew me out of the water.  I read it until well into the night, knowing I’d be working the next day, but I couldn’t not finish it.  There are SO many things to love about it I’m not even sure where to start so I’ll start with Jordan the hero.


He truly breaks your heart.  He’s the bassist of a very popular heavy metal group named Preload and very successful now.  But his history is horrendous.  He was locked in an attic when he was a very small child and kept there until he was finally found at age 10.  He had no light, no company, nothing.  He was never allowed out of the attic but his ‘father’ had no problem going into the attic and beating poor Jordon.  In fact, he didn’t even have a name until he was rescued and a warm hearted social worker gave him a name.  When he was discovered, he was put into foster care but that didn’t work.  He was small and skinny with no social skills and was bullied mercilessly until he was finally put into a group home where he bonded tightly with four other teenage boys who had also been mistreated.  In fact, they are who have formed the band.

Jordan is left with all kinds of issues.  Fear of abandonment is one of them and because of this, the other four band members and Jordan all live in the same house.  One of them, Dred Zander (who happens to have his own book in a previous series and one I was absolutely delighted to discover I already own) is planning on moving out and Jordan is freaking.  Although he knows it’s irrational, he needs to know where they all are all the time.  One of his coping mechanisms is walking.  He’s walking one evening with his very young honorary niece when he walks past a dance studio and he sees a young woman dancing.  He’s mesmerized by her beauty and her talent and for a brief time he forgets all his issues.  Because he’s also a composer, when he gets home he writes a song for her to dance to.
 
They meet and it’s like each other has found their other half.  Aleksandra Artemov is a ballet dancer with the National Ballet of Canada.  Her father was a ballet dancer who defected from Russia until he injured himself to the extent he couldn’t dance any longer.  So instead he devotes himself to Lexi’s career to the point of abusiveness.

There is such a connection between Jordan and Lexi but Jordan doesn’t think he’s worthy of her because of all his issues.  But other than letting her father walk all over her, she is very strong and nothing that Jordan does or says frightens her away.

So! Why do I love this book so much?  First reason is Jordan.  He is so damaged that you just want to hug him and hold him and not let him go.  Even though he’s this famous rock star it hasn’t gone to his head at all.  In fact he’s even uncomfortable spending money despite the millions he has.  He’s never had any kind of relationship with a woman before so he has no idea how it works.  Though he’s had sex with random women, considering he’s this big musician, he’s not a dog about it.  He is quite your atypical rock star.
 
Lexi is the next reason.  I just want to hug her too.  She is so there for Jordan.  Nothing he does or says fazes her.  The only thing she wants is for him to ‘talk’ to her when one of his trigger raises its ugly head as he has a tendency to just run off.  She has ‘daddy issues’ but they are completely understandable and she doesn’t escape her own struggles.  It’s so heartwarming when Jordan stands up for her.

The world of ballet.  I love ballet.  In fact I could so relate near the beginning of the book when she dances the Nutcracker near Christmas.  I DID THAT!  Not the dancing of course, but a number of years ago I went to see the National Ballet of Canada perform in Toronto and it was around Christmas.  While I don’t know all the dances mentioned I was familiar enough.  I’m a big fan of or rather I was of So You Think You Can Dance so I could really understand Alex’s desire to break out and dance some contemporary dances.  The fact that Jordan understood that about her was special.

The book is set in Toronto, Ontario and many of the places she mentions I know of since it’s just a hop, skip and a jump from where I live so it was cool that I knew the streets.

This review is longer than I normally do but I’m just so excited about this book and all the future books in this series I got carried away writing this review.  The book is selling for $1.99 on Amazon and I really can’t recommend it high enough

Grade: 5+ out of 5
 

Elliot Redeemed
 
I so enjoyed – in fact more than enjoyed if that’s possible – the first book in this series, Jordan Reclaimed, that I was very keen on reading this one.  The series is about a successful heavy metal band, Preload, whose home base is Toronto, ON Canada.  They all grew up in the system and became best of friends and even brothers in a group home.  Music was their escape.
Right from that alone I’m excited as I live close to Toronto and it’s obvious the author is familiar with the city too.  I recognize streets and areas and even stores so it makes the book seem even that more real.  Elliott Dawson is the hero of this book.  It opens not long after Jordan Reclaimed ends.  There are only two of the group living in their home now and Elliott is planning on buying them all out.  But in the meantime he and fellow bandmate Nikan are living together.  Nikan asks if Elliott would be willing to make a hospital visit with him to visit a young fan of the group.  While he has his issues with hospitals, Elliott is a real good guy and agrees.  While he’s there he notices another young patient, 14 year old Daniel, a burn victim.  Daniel has suffered pretty bad burns when he set his home on fire.  They say like recognizes like and Elliott can tell  right away that he an Daniel both suffer from the same issue, an unnatural love of fire.
Elliott has worked years to overcome attraction to fire and his need to set them.  Elliott became a pyromaniac when he was young in a way to deal with the trauma of his childhood and he could sense in Daniel the same thing and he wants to help him through it.  It also doesn’t hurt that Elliott is strongly attracted to Daniel’s mother Kendalee Walker. 
Kendalee is attracted to Elliott too.  I mean he’s very good looking and he is good to her son who is a big fan of Preload.  But there are SO many reasons she can’t get involved with him.  She’s older than him by a few years.  She was shattered when her husband left her for a younger woman and cleaned out their joint bank account.  She has her son and his ongoing issues to deal with.  She is homeless since Daniel burned down their home.  She spends all her time at either the hospital or her part time cashier’s job at No Frills – of note here, I was a part time cashier at a grocery store for 9 years and I often shop at No Frills myself.  Her ex meets Elliott and is turned off right away.  Elliott is a long haired rocker whom Daniel worships and refuses to have anything to do with his father.  So
So any kind of relationship is almost impossible.  But now that Elliott has taken an interest in Daniel, he runs into Kendalee more often and the more often he runs into her, the more he wants to help her and just plain wants her.  But the closer he gets to both her and Daniel, the more his own issues begin taking over as he identifies with Daniel.  As Daniel begins to confess to Elliott the abuse he has suffered, the harder it is for Elliott but he knows is leading to healing for Daniel so he’s undone in whatever he does.
This is another excellent book in this series.  While I preferred Jordan Reclaimed just a tad more, as I found Jordan extraordinary and special.  It doesn’t take away for this book at all.  Elliott is such a wonderful hero, so tortured, so loyal, so honorable, so everything that makes for great hero material.
Kendalee is also very well written.  She has had so much thrown at her in such a short amount of time and she deals with it so well and remains strong and such a good mother.  I love it when I adore both hero and heroine.
The secondary characters are also amazing.  Daniel so damaged and I love seeing the other members of the band.  It’s clear by the end who is going to be matched up in the next book and I can hardly wait for that one either. I’ve already pre-ordered it.   I highly recommend this book.  I think it could be a stand-alone but it is worth it to read the first book to if only to get insight into the tight bond these friends and brothers have.

 Grade: 5 out of 5

Thursday, May 17, 2018

A Real Qickie

This not having internet connection is such a pain in the neck.  But good news/bad news.

The bad new first- I have to work the late shift for the next 4 days and it’s what we Canadian’s call the May 2/4 long weekend.  I think it’s Memorial Day weekend in the US.

The good news is I know there will be next to nothing to do so I can do some blog posts.  And I get paid time & a half for working Monday.

So stay tuned as in those memorable words of Arnold, “I’ll be back”.

T’ll later.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Just a quickie

And nope, not that kind of quickie.  I can only wish for that kind.

This is the kind of quickie to say I haven't gone and abandoned the blog again.  I've just been busy writing up a lot of reviews when I have the time.  And since I'm still internetless at home the only time I have to do it is at work - and I'm also expected to - work - at work.

But the reclaiming the house is going great guns.  I have finished the living room in which the biggest job was going through the book shelves and keeping some and purging others.  My book shelves look GREAT!  And if I can figure out how to do it, I shall take some pictures and post them.  I also realized that I can take pictures of the kitties now that the background won't be a non-hoarders nightmare.

Speaking of kitties, the more adventurous of the two - the one I fondly call Munch when he's being good and 'You Pain in the Ass' - with love in my voice of course when he's being not so good, has discovered a new game.  He loves playing fetch with puff balls. 

He can play for hours and by the time I'm ready to call it quits I've gone from calling him Munch to "You Pain in the Ass" - with love in my voice of course.  I throw it, he runs after it and brings it back to me, I throw it, he brings it back to me - well you get the picture.

Well today when we were playing with the puff ball, he changed to game from fetch the puff ball to catch the puff ball and let me tell you he was catching and batting and jumping hella high to get it.  Think dogs and frizzbies.  It was ever so fun and I laughed and laughed and laughed and didn't call him "You Pain in the Ass" - with love in my voice of course.


But I digress.  Almost 2 years ago now I bought a new laptop and told myself when I got it home, I'd open it as a reward when I had the kitchen, bathroom and living room up to snuff and I'm happy, happy, happy to be able to say that next time Alexis comes I will finally be opening The Box!

And that is a short update - now to get back to work type stuff.

'til later

Friday, April 20, 2018

We will resume our previously scheduled posts after this etc.


So.  I’m going to go all in for this post.  It’s still very tough in this particular confession but the hoarding cleanup is going very well.  The kitchen is almost done – we haven’t touched the dining room part yet since that’s where all my way over abundance of jewelry and beading supplies are residing.  I plan on moving them to one of the bedrooms that we haven’t done yet so we will be going back to the dining room when the bedroom is done.  And I still have to wash the whole kitchen floor – not just the dirtiest spots.  But other than that the kitchen is done.  Every time I open a drawer or cupboard I get a thrill at how neat and organized it is.  Not sure if I mentioned it, but we threw out all the food in the freezer and fridge out and I started over.  Things were so bad I was using the trunk in my car as the fridge.

The bathroom is done and the living room almost is.  What is coming out more and more is, well, the results of my issues.  And then there is the results of the results. 
For example, I ‘misplaced’ the remote for the television months ago and because my living room was the way it was, I didn’t have a clue where to begin looking.  But it was found the other day because of the cleaning.  And how nice that has been.  While it was missing, in order to change channels I had to go up to the television itself to do it – as well as turn on and off the TV.  And as a result I tended to leave it on CNN for much too much time. 
Now constant watching of CNN tends to get depressing after a while and when a depressed person watches a depressing show – well, that’s depressing.  But now I can change channels from where I’m sitting and it’s wonderful.  I’ve been watching ever so much less of Wolf and the gang.  Mind you I had to sit on my hands to keep from ordering a gorgeous necklace that called me from the shopping channel and cost $449 but it wasn’t too hard.  And watched Chopped for the first time in months and months.

Another interesting discovery was a winter coat I didn’t remember at all.  It was on a hook at the front door and since I couldn’t even reach the front door, it was total out of sight, out of mind.  All winter I wore either a thick vest or a crappy coat that was better off thrown out.  So when we discovered this new/old coat that I didn’t remember I had, against my very nature I was hoping for at least one more cold day so I could wear it.  I kind of felt bad hoping that since it’s the middle of April AND WE ARE STILL GETTING SNOW.  But I got past that.

And my carpet, oh my, my carpet.  It’s vacuumed.  For the first time in ages and ages it’s looking very good.  I’ve gone a wee bit over board in vacuuming a couple of times a day so it stays looking fresh, but I’m sure that will wear off.

 
It’s not all been good.  When I found a coat of mine, I also found a leather jacket that Ron had that he loved and I broke down over that.  The person helping me with the hoarding said I didn’t have to decide right away what to do with it – see I couldn’t just give it away.  Ron loved that coat and he looked so good in it, but I had asked the boys and neither of them wanted it.  But she said there was nothing wrong with holding onto it.

And mail!!  OMG we got rid of 2 or 3 years worth of mail.  That alone has had me dancing with delight ever since we went through it.  And wonder of wonders, there were NO police summons.  And the 2 or 3 big boxes I had are now empty and ready to start packing up books I know I’ll never get read again.

 
 
But it’s odd.  As I unclutter the house and can see floors and carpet again, it’s like I’m getting uncluttered inside as well.  I know it’s going to be a while still before we are finished, but already my world is looking so much brighter.  And that could also be because now I’m opening blinds again.  And rather than sitting in the dark, in my jammies, watching CNN, I’m getting up, getting dressed, opening blinds and vacuuming or washing dishes or any of the other things I haven’t been able to do for a while now.  And I’ve no fungus covered fridge dishes.  And both bathroom and kitchen sink are clean and (mostly) germ free.

Things are looking good – at least for today.

 

‘til later

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Favourite Reads

And still with the Emma Scott love, another book of hers I adored.


I can’t seem to get enough of Emma Scott’s books since I rediscovered her and this is her most recent release.

Forever Right Now by Emma Scott
We first met Darlene Montgomery in The Butterfly Project.  She was the best friend of the hero and though she was bubbly and effervescent, she had some deep issues she tried to medicate with drugs.  She’d been drug free for a while but relapsed so I was delighted to see this book is her story.  When last we met her, she was in a relationship and doing her best to stay off drugs.  It’s now a year later and the relationship she was in didn’t work out.  While she was upset it didn’t, it didn’t trigger a return to drugs.  She’s been drug free for a while now and is ready to make big changes in her life.  The first and biggest is moving to San Francisco.  She gets a squeal of a deal on a sublet, has taken a course in massage therapy and landed a fairly good paying job at a swanky spa.  And most of all, she’s ready to start dancing again.  She hasn’t really since drugs stole dancing from her.  Everything is looking good – at least until she meets her new neighbour Sawyer Haas.  To put it politely, he’s a grump.  Darlene sees sparks of a different kind of guy when he interacts with his adorable daughter, but other than that, he’s Mr. Unfriendly.

But because Darlene is who she is, with her sparkling personality isn’t going to let a little thing like that stop her so she slowly but surely wiggles her way into his life.

I think this one might be my favourite Emma Scott book yet and that’s saying quite a bits as I’ve adored all the books I’ve read so far.  Going in I already loved Darlene and because we’re ‘met’ her, was ready to cheer her on right from the get go.  She’s so loaded with personality that she’s a joy to read.  Although she’s an addict, she figures she’s got it beat.  Her new sponsor Max, another great and colourful character warns her that she’s not quite seeing the whole picture of an addict but Doreen assures him she’s good.  The reader of course, knows she’s in for a fall and I almost had my fingers crossed that she wouldn’t go back to drugs like she had previously.  I’m not going to say whether she does or not – mean of me I know.

And Sawyer.  What a fascinating and 100% wonderful guy he is.   He has a lot of balls in the air and he’s stressed to the limit.  He’s in the final stages of getting his law degree and he has a great job lined up – as long as he passes the bar.  It’s helpful that he has an eidetic memory.  That’s the kind where you remember everything you learn.  Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory has that kind.  But law school is just part of his stressors.  He’s also a single father with sole custody of his very young daughter and he’s trying to make do financially on just the money from a scholarship. 

In his previous life, he was one Wild and Crazy Guy.  He and his roommates lived in party central and being young and attractive with a great future, finding willing young women was never a problem.  But that life style ended up abruptly when a one night stand came to visit carrying a baby, said it was his and took off, in the middle of one of his epic parties even..  Being a stand-up guy, Sawyer changed his life style completely and now is a totally womanless, stressed student and simply wonderful single father who would do anything for his daughter, It’s impossible not to love him to pieces and want to jump in and help him.  And that’s what Doreen tries to do but he does make it very hard for her.  And I can’t finish this review without giving big thumbs up to his daughter, Olivia.  Ms. Scott has even infused her with an adorable little personality.  Most of the time I’m meh about kids in romance but in this case, Livie was just as wonderfully done as every other character.

There is a brief appearance of Beckett and Zelda from The Butterfly Project but this book works just fine as a standalone.

With a wonderful story and a most excellent price there is no reason not to give this one a try.  I almost 100% guarantee you will fall in love with it too.
 
Outline: Outline: Darlene Montgomery has been to hell and back…more than once. After a stint in jail for drug possession, she is finally clean and ready to start over. Yet another failed relationship is just the motivation she needs to move from New York to San Francisco with the hopes of resurrecting her dance career and discovering that she is more than the sum of her rap sheet. As Darlene struggles in her new city, the last thing she wants is to become entangled with her handsome—but cranky—neighbor and his adorable little girl...

Sawyer Haas is weeks away from finishing law school, but exhaustion, dwindling finances, and the pressure to provide for himself and his daughter, Olivia, are wearing him down. A federal clerkship--a job he desperately needs--awaits him after graduation, but only if he passes the Bar Exam. Sawyer doesn’t have the time or patience for the capricious—if beautiful—dancer who moves into the apartment above his. But Darlene’s easy laugh and cheerful spirit seep into the cracks of his hardened heart, and slowly break down the walls he’s resurrected to keep from being betrayed ever again.

When the parents of Olivia’s absentee mother come to fight for custody, Sawyer could lose everything. To have any chance at happiness, he must trust Darlene, the woman who has somehow found her way past his brittle barbs, and Darlene must decide how much of her own bruised heart she is willing to give to Sawyer and Olivia, especially when the ghosts of her troubled past refuse to stay buried.
Grade: 4.5 out of 5




Monday, April 16, 2018

Favourite Reads


Since I’ve started reading 99.5 % of all books as ebooks, m reading life has undergone huge changes.  The vast majority of books I read now are either self-published or published by small publishers.  Except for a few exceptions, I don’t read books published by the big publishers any longer.  The prices are just too high.  And I’ve found some pretty amazing authors by going the self-pub, small pub route.  I thought I’d share some of my favourite.

Up first is Emma Scott.  I have read some incredible books by her.  She writes the kind where you’re lucky you aren’t sobbing by the end.  But they always end up happy.  I read no other kind. 

 

The Butterfly Project by Emma Scott
 
Last year I read a great book by this author, How to Save a Live and for some unknown reason I didn’t read another one – until now.  This is a truly beautiful book about self-forgiveness and I was mesmerized with it.  There wasn’t a single paragraph, sentence or even word that I didn’t love.

The book opens with Zelda Rossi pretty much at her lowest.  She has moved from Vegas to NYC to try and sell a graphic novel she has penned and just received her latest rejection.  The last house to reject her at least gave her a crumb, they thought she had potential but needed to add ‘heart’ to her novel.  She had no idea what they meant as she had already poured her heart and soul into Mother, May I, the name of her graphic novel.  She was robbed at the hostel she’d been staying and was running low on funds but she didn’t want to give up and go back to Vegas.

She decides to have one last good meal and heads into a small Italian bistro.  But as she is of Italian heritage and the very smell of food reminds her of home and the nightmare she has lived with for years, she needs to escape and heads out the back.  It is there she meets Beckett Copeland, a busboy who offers her comfort and an escort back to the hostel.  Through a series of events they end up as roommates.  Beckett helps her find the heart of her novel and in the process they help each other to heal grievous wounds.

 

This story is exquisite.  It’s rare when I fall as deeply in love with both the heroine and the hero as I did with Zelda and Beckett.  I even adore their names.

Years earlier Zelda had been with her sister when her sister was kidnapped and subsequently murdered.  Zelda blamed herself for not saving her sister and she was forever changed.  She suffers from panic attacks and PTSD.  She suffers from nightmares years later.  She is even unable to go home for any length of time because the memories still haunt her.  Her graphic novel, about a woman from the future who goes back in time to eliminate child predators and change the future events, is a reflection of Zelda’s need for closure.  She’s such a wonderful and well-drawn character that we can’t help feeling the pain and loss she does.

And Beckett’s story is just a tragic.  He was raised by his grandfather and it was poor existence.  When his grandfather fell ill, Beckett participated in a home invasion and the homeowner ended up dying of a heart attack.  Beckett spent two years in prison for armed robbery but because he has such a huge heart, has never been able to forgive himself.  Prison wasn’t nearly enough.  He writes the most heart rendering letters to the widow, letting her know how deeply he regrets his part in the death of her husband.  He is so compassionate and that makes the whole situation even more tragic.  The author gives examples of his nature in a number of different ways including making sure a neighbor is always fed.  Because he has a prison record and on parole, his options are limited and he works part time as a busboy and his main job as a bike messenger.

Beckett and Zelda start off as friends but their relationship deepens into more than love and they become each other’s savior.

If you are a reader who needs to ‘feel’ a book to enjoy it to its fullest then The Butterfly Project is a book you need to read.  The connection and the need that Beckett and Zelda have for each other seeps gently into the read with every page.  They truly are two halves of a whole who it almost seems destined to meet and fill the holes made by tragedy in each other. They filled the loneliness they each felt and because they both experienced deep guilt, they ‘got’ each other more than most people.

The writing is also so vivid.  I could actually feel the cold and freezing weather that Beckett felt when he was biking around the city.  I also experienced his anguish that because of his record, he couldn’t be there at a time when Zelda really needed him.  And I could feel on Zelda’s side, the influence he had on her novel and how, with his help and input, it was raised to a whole new level.  And as her novel was so much more to her, his thoughts also helped her heal in a way she didn’t they she would ever be able to.

This is a book that is going to stay with me and a book that I’m going to need to read again – and again – and again.  I also rectified the lack of Ms. Scott’s books and stocked up as soon as I finished this one.

 

Outline: Where you are is home..."

At age fourteen, Zelda Rossi witnessed the unthinkable, and has spent the last ten years hardening her heart against the guilt and grief. She channels her pain into her art: a dystopian graphic novel where vigilantes travel back in time to stop heinous crimes—like child abduction—before they happen. Zelda pitches her graphic novel to several big-time comic book publishers in New York City, only to have her hopes crash and burn. Circumstances leave her stranded in an unfamiliar city, and in an embarrassing moment of weakness, she meets a guarded young man with a past he’d do anything to change...

Beckett Copeland spent two years in prison for armed robbery, and is now struggling to keep his head above water. A bike messenger by day, he speeds around New York City, riding fast and hard but going nowhere, his criminal record holding him back almost as much as the guilt of his crime.

Zelda and Beckett form a grudging alliance of survival, and in between their stubborn clash of wills, they slowly begin to provide each other with the warmth of forgiveness, healing, and maybe even love. But when Zelda and Beckett come face to face with their pasts, they must choose to hold on to the guilt and regret that bind them, or let go and open their hearts for a shot at happiness.

The Butterfly Project is a novel that reveals the power of forgiveness, and how even the smallest decisions of the heart can—like the flutter of a butterfly’s wings—create currents that strengthen into gale winds, altering the course of a life forever.


Grade: 5 out of 5