Book Review: The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay

Sea Tranquility - Millay

The Sea of Tranquility

By: Katja Millay

My Rating: 5 Stars

Sometimes you pick up a book and start reading and find yourself thrown into a stunningly beautiful story and you wonder how you ever lived without having experienced the wonder of this book.  Katja Millay has delivered that very thing with The Sea of Tranquility.  This was an amazing book.  I loved everything about it.  I loved the story, the characters, their struggles, their interactions, their love, their pain, their friendship, their tragedies and their healing.  I loved the twists and turns, the surprises and the painful truths.  I loved the suspense of what happened to Nastya, the coincidences and the fate of the two characters.  Everything about it blew me away and left me reeling.  This was a beautiful book with truly amazing characters and a story that will haunt long after you read the last page.  Within it’s pages is a story of unbelievable pain, sorrow, loss, love, and redemption.  This is definitely one of my favorite books of the year.

Synopsis

It’s been two years since Nastya Kashnikov suffered an unspeakable tragedy that left her broken beyond repair.  Not able to deal with her family anymore she decides to go live with her aunt in another town.  There she will be unknown and she won’t have to be constantly reminded of her past.  But her plans to remain invisible and unknown are shattered when she meets Josh Bennett.

Josh Bennet’s story is known to everyone.  He’s suffered unimaginable loss in his short 17 years.  Now he’s completely alone in the world with no one to rely on but himself.  He’s determined to keep it that way and everyone gladly keeps their distance from him.  But when Nastya Kashnikov inserts herself into his life he finds a kindred spirit.  For whatever reason, Nastya and Josh are drawn together.  But as their relationship progresses, Josh wonders if Nastya will ever reveal her secrets to him or if he even really wants to know.

My Thoughts

This is one of those beautiful stories that will haunt you long after you walk away from it.  You will laugh, and cry, and feel almost every emotion imaginable as you read it’s pages.  This book was unbelievably amazing.  Millay has weaved her magic and creating a very special book with The Sea of Tranquility.  It’s beautifully written.  The characters possess such depth that it’s hard to imagine more perfectly flawed characters.  Both Nastya and Josh’s characters suffer unimaginable horrors in their short lives and they way they deal with them is heartbreaking and tragic.  As the reader, you can’t help but feel their pain and suffering. Their hesitance to live life is real and understandable.  But despite their pain, they find solace in each other.   I loved this about this book.  I loved how expertly Millay portrays their attraction and need for one another.  How she creates their healing balm in the other and how the grown and change despite their efforts not to.

If you are looking for a beautifully written story about two people who have been damaged beyond repair who ultimately find the one thing they need to make them more whole, then you need to read this book.  It’s a standalone story so it’s not a huge commitment.  You won’t regret reading Nastya and Josh’s story. In fact, you are likely going to want more of them once you’ve read the final page.  Katja Millay has successfully put herself in the same category as Colleen Hoover and Katie McGarry when it comes to beautiful, broken characters with horrifying pasts.  Break out your tissues, because you are going to need it for this book. I highly recommend it.  Don’t wait, go out and get this book now. It’s sure to become one of your most beloved books of all time.

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Book Review: Down to You by M. Leighton (The Bad Boys, #1)

Down to you - Leighton

Down to You

By M. Leighton

Series: The Bad Boys, Book 1

My Rating: 4 Stars

This was my first experience reading M. Leighton and I can honestly say that I enjoyed this book much more than I anticipated.  Down to You is the first book in her Bad Boys series.  And having now finished it, I’m glad I branched out.  This book was undeniably hot.  Who wouldn’t want to read about two amazingly hot twins which represent the best of both worlds?  Not this person, I can tell you that. In fact, I liked reading about them so much that I definitely want to read more in this series.

Synopsis

Olivia Townsend is an average girl making her way through college.  She’s determined to finish up her degree then go back home to help her dad run his business.  She refuses to be a woman in his life that walked away like her mother did to him.  Her goals are within reach and life is moving along as planned when she meets Cash and Nash Davenport.  Brothers.  Twins. Irresistible twins.  Completely not what she needed twins. Thrown her life into a tail spin twins.

Nash Davenport is an intern at a top law firm in Atlanta.  He’s tender, sweet and thoughtful and everything Olivia thinks she should look for in a man.  But he’s completely unavailable because he’s currently attached to Marissa, Liv’s rich and beautiful cousin and roommate and the daughter of Nash’s boss.  Olivia is a distraction Nash doesn’t need but he can’t seem to resist her.  She’s everything  Marissa isn’t and despite his resistance there is something about her that continually draws him to her.  Being with her would ruin his plans.  Everything he has worked towards.  An end that he hopes will give him the answers he desperately needs.

Cash Davenport is the quintessential bad boy.  The embodiment of everything Olivia should stay away from but absolutely everything she desires.  She’s knows Cash’s type.  She’d dated his type.  She’s had her heart broken by his type.  She’s proven to forever be attracted to the bad boy.  The one that will bring her nothing but pain and regret.  But from the moment she meets him she’s inexplicably drawn to him like a moth to a flame.  When she takes a bar tending job at his nightclub she knows he’s going to be trouble.  But there is chemistry between them, undeniable chemistry.  And Cash wants her.  And he will do anything to get her in his bed.

As Oliva becomes more involved with Nash and Cash she comes to realize they are keeping secrets.  But she is wholly unprepared for what they are hiding and when she discovers the truth, her very life may be at stake.

My Thoughts

I’ll admit when I first read the synopsis for this book I wasn’t super impressed.  Cash and Nash?  Seriously?  Sounds ridiculous right?  But it’s all explained in the book and that goes a long way in making you accept their names.  For the most part, I was completely entertained and thrilled by this book.  I definitely want to move on to the next book in the series and see what happens next.  This book gave me a twist that I didn’t see coming.  You have to love a book that can surprise you, especially if you spend alot of time reading and have a tendency to be able to figure out the big reveal before it actually happens.  I didn’t expect this books secret.  Then the ending leaves you hanging and you can’t wait to see what happens next.  Lucky for me I don’t have to wait, books two and three are out now.  They are titled: Up to Me and Everything for Us.  And if that’s not enough for you you can chow down on A Davenport Chirstmas, a novella and it looks like there is a fourth book but it’s been released in parts.  They are titled Always With You parts 1-3.

Also, I need to mention the cover of this book.  If you read your fair share of contemporary romance, new adult or even young adult, you might recognize the models on this cover of this book.  I stumbled upon this tidbit…apparently these models show up on a  whole slew of covers and readers have noticed.  The models on the cover are Sztella Tziotziosz and Péter/Pepe Tóth.  They are most famous for Jennifer Armentrout’s Lux series but you may find that you’ve seen them on other books you’ve read.  You can go to Goodreads and lookup the list titled “That Girl & Hot Guy from the Obsidian Cover.”  I didn’t realize just how many covers this hot duo have been on until I found this list.  At the very least, I found it interesting how the same photo has been used over and over but changed just slightly for each book.  Change the background color, change the eye color, change the color of the shirt.  It’s subtle but enough to make the photo look completely different.  Also, if you want to see more photos of Pepe Tóth, he has a Facebook page.  He’s pretty swoon-worthy…I’m just saying.  

Book Review: 50 Bosses Worse Than Yours by Justin Racz

Bosses - Racz

50 Bosses Worse Than Yours

By Justin Racz

My Rating: 3 Stars

Unless you are lucky enough to be your own boss, you have to deal with  that one person who can make or break your days.  They can bring joy, happiness, excitement, pain, desperation, frustration, anger and disillusionment to your daily life.  That’s right, it’s your boss.  Love them or hate them, they aren’t going away…ever.  But have you ever considered there might be help out there for you in dealing with your boss?  Do you know what kind of boss you have?  Have you given much thought on the subject at all or do you avoid it like the plague?  My recommendation is to check out 50 Bosses Worse than Yours by Justin Racz.  Within it’s pages you are sure to stumble upon your current boss and some past ones and likely some future bosses.  Not only will this tome help you define which boss you have but it will guide you in how to deal with them too.  It could provide you some peace of mind. It could save your sanity.  It could save you from going to jail.  It could just save your life.

My Thoughts

Being that I’m currently in my 24th year of working (I know, it’s quite painful to think about), and I’ve held my fair share of jobs over the years, it’s safe to say that I’ve encountered a number of different bosses.  Sometimes more than one at the same job at the same time (that’s something this book doesn’t address, the multiple boss situation, maybe in the next book).  In reading through the pages of this little book, I was able to easily identify a number of bosses I’ve been forced to deal with over the years.  In a couple of cases, Racz, successfully defined what had previously been undefinable in my mind.  I laughed, I cried (almost), I shared with friends and family and I relived my time spent with these controllers of my life.  Some I’m happy to be done with and some I remember fondly and then there are those bosses I’ve yet to encounter.  I can only hope they aren’t some of the more unfortunate bosses listed in this book.  Keep your fingers crossed.  Regardless, I now have a handy little book to help me to navigate the waters of future bosses.  What they like, how they work, and most importantly, how to deal with them.

While this may not be the most sound advice out there regarding bosses, I highly recommend picking up this book and passing it around amongst your friends and coworkers and then have a discussion over lunch, dinner, drinks or coffee and sharing all the boss memories.  Misery after all loves company.  And if you don’t find your boss listed, the last entry is a blank page for you to create your own.  Enjoy!

On another note: if you like this book, be sure to checkout Racz’s other book: 50 Jobs Worse Than Yours, 50 Boyfriends Worse Than Yours, 50 Relatives Worse Than Yours, 50 Days Worse Than Yours, and 50 Dates Worse Thank Yours.  I’m sure you’ll be able to relate to all of them.

Book Review: The Demon Under the Microscope by Thomas Hager

Microscope - Hager

The Demon Under the Microscope

From Battlefield Hospitals to Nazi Labs, One Doctor’s Heroic Search for the World’s First Miracle Drug

By Thomas Hager

My Rating: 4 Stars

I always enjoy reading medical related non-fiction books.  Often times though they can get bogged down in the scientific jargon and lose the general reader.  If you can’t pronounce the words written in the book without looking them up in the dictionary and seeing how you actually say it then you aren’t likely to finish the book unless it’s required reading.  That’s one the great things about this book.  Thomas Hager has done an exceptional job in telling the story of sulfa in a fashion that is sure to thrill, entertain and enlighten everyone who reads this book.

The Demon Under the Microscope is the story of sulfa, the first antibiotic.  Thomas Hager with painstaking detail paints the picture of this historic discovery and how it ultimately led to the Allies winning World War II.  He shows how it was able to conquer diseases that had long plagued the world.  How laws changed because of it and how it brought forth a whole new era of medicine and shaped modern medicine to what it is today.

My Thoughts

This was an absolutely fascinating read.  Who knew that one little discovery could so drastically change the world.  After reading this book, I had a much greater respect for the world I live in.  To not have to be worried about dying from such easily curable diseases because of sulfa is truly amazing.  It’s hard to fathom that a relatively short time ago, things were very different.  I truly feel lucky to live in a world where this seemingly wonder-drug exists.  What was even more astounding is the progress that modern medicine made after the discovery of sulfa.  It ushered in a whole new era for medicine.  Like a rocket being jettisoned into outer space, sulfa pushed the world of medicine forward at a speed never seen before.

Another great thing about this book is that it filled in gaps in my knowledge when watching movies like Band of Brothers and every other WWII war movie.  I had often seen them pouring some kind of powder on wounds but I didn’t really know what it was.  Now I know.  I was almost gleeful when I made this connection.  In addition, I was happily surprised when I recognized the names of scientists, chemists and other researchers that were referenced in this book.   Clearly all my reading of other medical and science related books is starting to pay off.  My knowledge, while by no means expert, is being weaved into a web where I’m able to make connections and see a fuller and clearer picture of medical history than I was previously capable of doing.  It’s truly an empowering feeling.

This was a riveting read and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in the history of medicine.  You will surely find it to be insightful, engrossing and completely riveting.  Thomas Hager’s enthusiasm for the subject is evident in the pages of this great read.  Go check it out.

Book Review: Join The Club by Tina Rosenberg

Join - Rosenberg

Join the Club

By Tina Rosenberg

My Rating: 3 Stars

I’ve always been fascinated with the concept of peer pressure.  I have a tendency to think of myself as someone who doesn’t allow themselves to be pressured by the group.  My need to fit in hasn’t been allowed to keep me from doing what my conscience says is the right thing to do even if there is a price to pay.  Peer pressure is often thought of as taking the easy road.  Roads that stray from the rest of the group have always been considered the hard road.   What makes this book such a fascinating read is that Rosenberg looks at peer pressure from both a positive and negative aspect.  Which is contrary to how we normally view peer pressure.

When I was in high school, I ran across a news article in the local newspaper that referred  to peer pressure as “evil companions.”  I believe the article said that “evil companions” was an old phrase used for the more commonly known term “peer pressure”.  My 17 year old self found this antiquated term to be both fascinating and hilariously funny.  So fascinating that I cut the article out and took it to school  and shared it with my group of friends.  We found it to be such a great term that we had it made into t-shirts for all of us.  They read “Evil Companions” across the back and on the front we had Summer ’93 printed.  I loved that t-shirt.  We all did.  At the time, I think we thought of peer pressure as this term used to place blame for bad behavior.  It was an excuse that parents used to justify our actions as teens.  Blame it on the friends and the individual isn’t guilty.  But looking back at it now, I may not have realized it but I think we found it so amusing because we were lucky to belong to a group that didn’t pressure at all.  We were accepted as we were.  We weren’t expected to dress a certain way, like certain things, or listen to specific music.  We varied immensely and that is what made our group so great.  To us, the whole concept of peer pressure was a farce.  In hindsight, being able to do what we wanted and not be judged was what made those the greatest friends I’ve ever had.  And when I say this, I mean it.  I’ve met thousands of people in my 20 years since high school and I’ve found few people that sit at the level of my friends from high school.  To this day, we remain vastly different in many ways but we are all still friends.  We value each other for our differences still to this day.

Tina Rosenberg, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award for The Haunted Land is back with another fascinating book.  Join the Club: How Peer Pressure can Transform the World takes a close look at social change and how powerful it can be in the mindset of the individual and the collective soul of a group.

Throughout this book, Rosenberg delves into specific examples of social pressure and evaluates how it influences the individual and the group.  She looks at how an individual’s base need to belong, can so strongly influence their actions even at the detriment to their health, safety and well-being.  But she also shows how their need to belong to the group can lead them down positive roads as well.

My Thoughts

This book was nothing like I thought it would be.  I expected it to view peer pressure from an entirely negative perspective.  Since peer pressure is most often presented in a highly negative light, it’s an assumption I think many readers would have when delving into this book.  But Rosenberg doesn’t entirely place her focus on the negative when it comes to this social perspective.  Rather, she chooses to look at peer pressure in terms of a means of achieving social change.  That change could be bad but it could also be good.  By looking at how peer pressure can be both good and bad for an individual and a group she successfully shows how something that seems so simple or unimportant can actually instigate significant social change when done correctly.

I found most of Rosenberg’s examples to be a fascinating look at how social change is happening for the better.   While some, I’m not sure I would define as “peer pressure” in terms of what I’ve always believed this phrase to mean, they are solid examples of how effective “change” campaigns can be useful in society to curb behavior, to educate and to persuade individuals to think and do differently.

I did however, find one of Rosenberg’s arguments to be stretching.  I had issues with her arguments concerning terrorism.  I simply could not wrap my head around her argument and allow myself to think the way she was suggesting.  Perhaps I felt like there was more too it. That the idea and problem of terrorism as a movement was presented in too simple of terms for my liking.  For whatever reason, it’s the one part of the book I simply did not agree with.  I felt like it was one area where “peer pressure” simply couldn’t be blamed as the culprit.  I wanted more from Rosenberg on this subject and I just didn’t get it.

Having read this book, I look back on my group of friends with new light and perspective and realize now that the pressure of my group was to be accepting and open-minded.  To value difference.  Positive peer-pressure that had a profound affect on me as an adult and allowed me to become a productive member of society who is accepting of differences in a group and recognizes how differences can do great things for the group as a whole and the individuals within the group.   Here I was thinking that I was never pressured.  I was, just not negatively.  I was lucky enough to find positive peer pressure during a time when my peers had great influence on me as an individual and the adult I would eventually become.

Overall, this was an interesting read.  Since I’ve always been fascinated with the idea of peer pressure I’m glad to have read it.  While it didn’t necessarily look at peer pressure as I have always thought of it, it was eye opening and allowed me to think of it in different terms.  I always enjoy books that make me look at something from a different perspective, especially if it successfully expands my view and understanding of the subject.

Book Review: Draw Me In by Regina Cole (Sinful Skin, #1)

Draw - Cole

Draw Me In

By Regina Cole

Series: Sinful Skin, Book 1

My Rating: 1 Star

I’m always looking for new sexy, hot reads to fill my spare time.  When I saw this one on Overdrive and read the synopsis, it sounded like a great option.  I quickly downloaded it and delved into the pages of Regina Cole’s latest read.  I wasn’t familiar with her as an author so I had no expectations and I didn’t read any reviews of this book before I started.  Draw Me In, is the first book in her Sinful Skin series.

Synopsis

Hailey Jakes is just trying to finish her degree in graphic design.  When her parents decide to use her college fund to pay for their bitter divorce she’s forced to seek out employment to pay for school.  When she sees a sign for a receptionist at a local tattoo shop she isn’t sure if it’s the right fit for her.  But Hailey is desperate.  When she meets owner, Neill Vanderhaven, she can’t believe her luck.  He’s not only insanely hot, but he’s willing to give her a shot at the job.  As Hailey finds her place in her new job, sparks fly between her and Neill.  Desperate to keep things professional between them, they resist their feelings for one another.  But they can only resist each other for so long.  As Neill and Hailey get closer they must decide if they can break their rules for one another.  When Neill makes a terrible mistake by misunderstanding the situation everything between him and Hailey will be threatened.

My Thoughts

Sigh…..I had high hopes for this book.  I really wanted to like it.  But I just couldn’t.  I found myself getting very frustrated while reading.  There were just so many problems.  When I read the synopsis of this book it sounded like it would be a great read.  But sadly it was missing so much.  What?  Oh…well…everything.  I didn’t feel any chemistry between the characters.  I thought what connection I found between them was weak.  None of the characters spoke to me nor did their situation.  I spent most of my time reading this book wanting to not be reading it.  But I didn’t stop.  I finish every book I start….eventually.  This book had potential but it needed to have more plot development, more character development and overall polishing to bring it all together.  I really do hate giving bad book reviews because writing is hard.  But sometimes I can’t prevent it from happening. Sadly, this book failed to move me in any way in particular.  It did have a beautiful cover though and it had potential to be a great story.  Tattoo artists are always hot and enticing to readers of romance and new adult.  I’d be interested in seeing how Regina Cole expands her repertoire in the future.

Book Review: Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride (Necromancer, #1)

Necromancer - McBride

Hold Me Closer, Necromancer

By Lish McBride

Series: Necromancer, Book 1

My Rating: 5 Stars

This was my first reading experience with Lish McBride and I have to tell you I was blown away.  Hold Me Closer, Necromancer was original, hilariously funny and filled with deeply original characters.  I was hooked from page one and I didn’t want to put it down until I read the very last word.  I can’t tell you one thing that I didn’t love about this book, other than I was at the end long before I wanted to be.  It’s not your typical YA book.  It’s unpredictable which makes it stand out from other YA books.  Hold Me Closer, Necromancer is everything a YA book should be and is sure to hook you from the start.  It’s no wonder it was a 2011 William C. Morris YA Debut Award Nominee as well as a Milwaukee County Teen Book Award Nominee for 2012.

Synopsis

Sam is just your average guy.  Spending his days working in a fast food restaurant flipping burgers trying to make enough to afford his apartment.  A college dropout, it’s just him and his few friends chilling and hanging out.  When Douglas stops by for a burger Sam’s life is suddenly thrown into chaos.  Douglas is a necromancer and he doesn’t like having to share his  territory with another necromancer.  The problem is, Sam doesn’t know about his latent necromancer abilities.  Things go downhill from there.  Suddenly Sam has an undead friend and werewolf for a girlfriend (sort of) and one week to fight his way out of Douglas’s clutches if he’s going to survive.  In that time, Sam must find a way to use his latent abilities or he’s surely going to be six feet under and that just doesn’t sound very appealing.

My Thoughts

This book rocked.  I particularly loved all the humor in the book.  The sense of humors of the characters, especially Sam were what made the book.  YA books have a tendency to be over dramatic, not the case with McBride’s book.  She expertly infused a deep sense of humor in her characters but was able to balance it with the drama of the plot.  This made the characters vastly different from any other characters I’ve found in other YA books.

I also enjoyed the premise of this book.  You don’t see many books about necromancers so it made it original and different from everything else I’ve read in YA or adult fiction.  That’s not saying there weren’t elements that you see in other YA books because there are but by adding the necromancer aspect, this book had a twist that I had not encountered before and that made this book a breath of fresh air.

If you are looking for a fresh, and exciting YA read, I highly recommend Lish McBride’s Hold Me Closer, Necromancer.  You are sure to be highly entertained and will most assuredly fall in love with the characters, in particular Sam LaCroix.  Check it out!