The Observatory # 1: Memories of the Alhambra

Hello, and welcome to ScribblerAlliance. Through the years, Shae and I have tried to share our love for the written word with you both through reviewing books as well as posting our own creations at times. With the new year, we have decided to share another love of ours with you—Korean Dramas. If you haven’t been living under a rock, you must’ve heard the terms KPop and BTS sometime in the last year. Korean culture is rich and very much relatable for both of us. In order to share this experience with you, dear readers, we’ve created a brand new section, The Observatory.

So how does The Observatory work? Pretty much exactly as it sounds. We’ll watch something and then share a review of it with you through this section. Although the prime aim of this section is to share our views of the Korean Dramas, we’ll share reviews of movies as well … both Korean and Hollywood. For now, expect a new review on the first day of each month. Without further ado, let me introduce the drama for this month: Memories of the Alhambra.

Drama Name: Memories of the Alhambra

Genre: Fantasy, Suspense, Romance & Sci-fi

Cast: Hyun Bin, Park Shin Hye, Park Chanyeol

Episode: 16 (60-70 minutes per episode)

IMDb Ratings: 8.1/10

Personal Rating: 9.8/10

Plot: The story revolves around a video game; or rather, a video game based on Augmented Reality (AR). While on his trip to Spain, the CEO of an investment company, Yu Jin Woo (Hyun Bin) receives a call and a subsequent email from a programmer who claims to have designed the most ground-breaking AR game to date. Presented with an opportunity to thwart the efforts of his nemesis, the CEO of a rival company, at procuring this game, Yu Jin Woo travels to Granada, Spain, to meet the game developer, Jung Se Joo (Park Chanyeol). As per Se Joo’s instructions, he goes to spend the night at a shabby little boarding house named Bonita Hostel.

At Bonita Hostel, we meet Jung Hee Joo (Park Shin Hye), who happens to be the owner of the boarding house as well as Se Joo’s sister and legal guardian. Jin Woo learns that Se Joo is a troubled teen who seems to spend many nights outside home, playing games and hanging out with his friends. Jin Woo decides to try out the game that is centred on Alhambra Palace in Granada and gets sucked into the amazingly magical world created by Se Joo. The trouble begins when like most computer programs, bugs appear in the game.

Personal Review: Where do I even begin? First off, let’s talk about positives. The best thing about this drama is Hyun Bin and his acting. This is my second time watching one of his dramas, but man! This guy can act. If the perfectly sculpted face and serious mood he portrays in the drama doesn’t make your heart beat a little faster, his acting surely would.

Another big positive is the fact that this drama delivered on every single thing it claimed to have. With most sci-fi movies and dramas, the science bit is so insignificant that it easily gets thwarted by the fiction of it all. However, that is not the case in MotA. Here, the concept of gaming and AR is presented in a way that even someone who has no idea of such things (like myself) can grasp it. And before you frown and point at the mention of romance in the genre, let me tell you that despite not having many sappy moments, the chemistry between the lead actors was unbelievably good.

You know when you watch a show that keeps you on the edge of your seat with the twists and turns in the story? This drama aces in having that effect on you. I will admit to watching five episodes in one go because I literally couldn’t think of sleeping while our heroes were fighting for their lives. So if you are looking for a drama that will keep your blood pumping till the very last scene, this is it!

One other thing worth mentioning is the historical aspects of the drama. If you’re a fan of medieval novels and mythology like myself, I think you’ll love the gaming sequences in this drama. With the subtle nod to mythology, I completely fell in love with this storyline.

So what are the negatives, you ask? The only negative I can count is the fact that Park Shin Hye’s character could’ve been a little more developed. As a fan of the actor, I feel like her talent wasn’t fully utilized in the drama; but then again, maybe I just wanted her to have more screen time.

Final Thoughts: Although a lot of the viewers didn’t appreciate the ending of the drama (hence the drop in IMDB rating), I felt that was the best way to end this beautiful piece of mystery. So all in all, whether you’re a newbie to Korean Dramas or are a fan who just hasn’t had the time to watch this masterpiece, I suggest you do so. This drama is available on Netflix as well as all popular drama websites. If you’re looking for an emotional roller-coaster with mind-blowing OST (Original Sound Track), this is it, people.

That’s it for the first ever review from The Observatory. If you’d like us to review any drama, movie or hollywood shows, please let us know in your comments. If you’ve watched this drama, you’re welcome to share your views with us. Thanks for stopping by. We’ll return with another review next month. Till then, love you all!

A

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Under A Duke’s Hand (Properly Spanked Book 4)

By Annabel Joseph

Hello there.

This is Shae, back in this blog after a very long time but with a book review that was one of the most interesting to write. I was quite perplexed and simply astounded by it to be honest. I started this book after reading the Goodreads recommendations and it was so positively rated I did not expect to have such mixed feelings.

Needless to say, book was quite unique to say the least. My greatest folly or perhaps blessing in disguise was the fact that I chose this book on Kindle without looking at the title or the series it belonged to but instead by reading the introduction. The truth is that just by looking at the title you can catch the undercurrent implying that D/s themes are involved. Personally, they are not my cup of tea generally, especially since I couldn’t make it to the end even with Fifty Shades of Grey when it was a fan fiction.

Had I caught on I wouldn’t have even blinked an eye and wouldn’t have given it a chance. The book starts quite harmlessly and was dare I say even pleasant. I was reminded of Georgette Heyer’s novels openings. All was going quite well, I even took the fact that the Duke spanks our Heroine during their first meeting lightly with only the slightest trepidation. However, when the humiliation and the ‘taming’ begins after their wedding it just went downhill. One would wonder why I didn’t flounce it right then. I have to say it’s because it was fascinating. Like watching a train wreck. I don’t know how but I got the feeling they would still have a happy ending and wondered how that could possibly be.

The angst was quite a long ride. The D/s wasn’t even borderline abusive, it was abusive plain and simple. I finished this book in 2-3 hours and 95% of the time I had tears flowing down my cheek. It’s been quite a while since a book had such an impact on me which says a lot about the author’s writing prowess which as an amateur writer I find myself rather envious of.

The Regency theme could have been improved though as well as the setting. I could tell the author was rather familiar with the Regency workings, but I felt that some effort should have been done and there could have been some focus on the London society other than the fact that our elusive Duke was breaking in our beloved Duchess for the fact that His Grace did not want Her Grace to be humiliated. But the book weaved the tale teaching our Duke how unimportant social cues and nuances are especially when weighed against love.

The story still maintained a fairytale aspect to it which I usually find missing in Regency Romances nowadays. Considering the themes, I am impressed at how the author wielded her pen into keeping the magic alive. I could see our fair duchess as a forest nymph and her duke as the Viking of old as the story flowed.

Overall, I have mixed feelings about this book. It was quite different from my usual tastes, but I enjoyed it. It was a unique ride of emotions and turmoil and the greatest of joys. But be warned if you cannot handle D/s themes at their worst then this might not be your piece of cake.

Bookworm Express: His Stolen Bride – Shelly Thacker

Hi there! Welcome to Bookworm Express on ScribblerAlliance. Today, we’re here to review another historical romance novel for you. Before the lovers of intrigue start cringing at the name of romance, let me tell you that personally, I’d place this novel in the genre of Historical Romantic Suspense. So if intrigue is your thing, read on!

Without anymore exaggeration, I’d like to introduce this week’s featured novel, the standalone prologue to Shelly Thacker’s Stolen Bride’s series, His Stolen Bride.

Our story opens in France where we meet lovely heiress, Lady Laurien d’Amboise who much to her dismay, is being subjected to an arranged marriage to a French royal, Comte de Villiers. While wishing she could get away from this wretched wedding to join the convent where she grew up, a wild brute of a man comes and whisks her away from her own wedding procession.

Scottish Highland Lord Darach of Glenshiel has lost his brother to the treacherous English waging war in his country. Now, in order to protect the only family he has left and to give his country a fighting chance to win against the English,he needs an alliance with the French. However, the French King’s cousin, Comte de Villiers has been less than supportive of this alliance. So what other choice does Sir Darach have aside from kidnapping the Comte’s bride and hold her captive until the alliance is signed?

What Sir Darach doesn’t realize is that his vow to return the Comte’s bride—untouched—after the barter is complete is going to be waging a war between his mind and his heart instead. As the story unfolds, the mysteries surrounding our protagonists keep on deepening. Only way to find out whether this gamble of lives will payoff in the end or not is to get reading.

Time for my review. As always, the positives come first. The best thing about this novel is there’s no sexually abusive situations in it. As a lover of highlander romance, time and again I have found myself reading sexually abusive situations without any forewarning. So I was pleased to see no such situations arose in this novel.

Secondly,can I say how much I loved the female protagonist? Lady Laurien is the strong female character we all hope for. What struck me as the most important thing about her character was that she’s strong, opinionated and logical, without being a brat. So kudos to the author for writing such an awesome character.

Another positive thing I must mention is the way the two central characters communicate. Like any couples, they get into fights over their pasts and secrets they hide, but instead of getting worked up for nothing, they seek each other out to talk about it before taking offense. Of course that doesn’t mean there’s no misunderstanding between them, but it’s great to read a couple who talk before going for each other’s throats.

One other very praiseworthy point is the way the author’s style of writing. The suspense is so good that you’ll find yourself sitting on the edge of your seat until you finish the whole book and you know what? I don’t think you’ll be the least bit sorry for the mini heart attacks you’ll get throughout this reading experience.

For the negatives, one thing I’d like to say is that things do seem a bit repetitive in the beginning where Laurien’s yearning to get back to the convent and Darach’s reasons for this abduction is sketched frequently.

Another negative would be the lack of portrayal of the highlander lifestyle in the novel. When you see the cover with the heroine wrapped in a plaid, your mind immediately starts imagining the lush Scottish countryside and their very specific lifestyle. While the novel is very well written, it’s mostly set in France, showcasing the French lifestyle rather than the Scottish highlands.

One other minor plot-hole I picked up on was the little fact that Laurien who never traveled out of France and speaks only French meets a lot of new people, both French and Scottish, in her journey and everyone just happened to speak French for her to understand them.

However,please don’t let these few negatives turn you off from this book. I really enjoyed this novel and hope that you would too. In Anne’s scale, this novel gets 3.8 stars out of 5. I am deducting a few points for the negatives, but I assure you that it’s a great book to curl up with this holiday season … but only if you’re over the age of 18.

That is all for this week. Thank you for joining us. If there’s any book you want us to review, let us know in your comments.

Until next time.

Love,      

A


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Anne Express: Thanks For The Memories#3

Hello again! This is the third chapter of a five-part drabble/ flash fiction story with Original Characters, written as part of a monthly writing challenge. You’ll get daily updates of each chapter for the next two days. Hope you’re enjoying the ride. ~~A

Prompt: The story must start with the following sentence:

“She wasn’t happy about it, but she’d been recalled to life for a reason”


Chapter-3


A few hours later, Esmeray found herself in a dimly lit room with Azrael following her from a distance. Unable to hold in the myriad of questions trying to break-free from her, she turned around to face him. “Why me?”

A soft chuckle came from him, as he slowly shook his head.

“Are you laughing at me?” Esmeray couldn’t help but ask, hating the hint of hurt in her voice.

“No,” he answered. “I simply expected you to ask that question a lot sooner. Everyone else does.”

Without responding to his jest, she asked again. “Why did you choose me? Why do I have to reap the souls of the damned?”

A sad smile curved his lips upwards. “Is that what you think? The dead are the damned souls?”

“Aren’t they?” she countered. “They’re dead.”

“Was life so good to you that you’d compare death to damnation?”

His question caught her off-guard. Blinking to hide her emotions, she answered, “I wouldn’t know. I don’t remember anything from my past life.”

Azrael came to stand in front of her before speaking. “My dear, that’s the blessing of this life. You get to make new memories.”

“Memories of taking souls of poor people? That doesn’t sound like a blessing to me.”

He reached up, barely touching his hand to her cheek before letting it fall to his side. “You’ll be guiding lost souls to their true homes, dearest. This isn’t as bleak of an existence as you think it is.”

When she didn’t look convinced, he said, “Tell you what. Why don’t we make a barter? You will stay by my side as my reaper for four months. After four months, if you still think this isn’t the afterlife you wanted, I’ll release you from my custody and you’d be free to go to heaven … with you old memories restored.”

As he started to turn away from her, he said, “Get some rest, Esme, we start your training tomorrow.”

As she watched him walk away, she realized that he still hadn’t answered her question.

Smug, unreliable Angel.



Story Banner and Banner for Anne Express by: Yours Truly.

Anne Express: Thanks For The Memories#2

This is the second chapter of a five-part drabble/ flash fiction story with Original Characters, written as part of a monthly writing challenge. You’ll get daily updates of each chapter for the next four days including today. Hope you’re enjoying the ride. ~~A

Prompt: The story must start with the following sentence:

“She wasn’t happy about it, but she’d been recalled to life for a reason”

Memories_2_Complete


Chapter-2


“Esmeray!” a voice called out from the darkness, making her look up from her reflection in the pond water.

“Who … who is it?” she asked hesitantly, a sudden chill enveloping her.

From the other side of the pond, a dark hooded figure appeared. Despite the darkness, a subtle light seemed to emanate from the figure. In slow, measured steps, the figure walked around the pond and came to stand before her.

“Esmeray,” a male voice came from the figure as it called the name again.

She frowned, wondering who this Esmeray person might be. “Are you looking for this person?” she asked the figure before her. “This Esmeray?”

The figure slowly shook its head. “I am looking at Esmeray,” he responded.

It took only a moment for it to register in her mind. “You mean to say…? I’m Esmeray?”

“Yes,” the figure answered. “You are the moon in the darkness. You are Esmeray.”

Hoping to recover her memories, she took a step toward the figure. “I can’t remember anything,” she said. “Not even my name. Do you know who I am?”

There’s a moment of silence before the figure spoke again. “Esmeray wasn’t your name while you lived. It’s the name I gave to you in death.”

You gave me the name?” She’s taken aback by the admission. “Who are you?”

The figure lifted its hands to remove its hood, revealing a man in his late twenties with dark hair and black eyes. A wry smile touched his lips as he focused his eyes on her. “I am Azrael.” When she didn’t seem to recognize his name, he added, “Also known as the Angel of Death or the Grim Reaper.”

With a gasp, she took a few faltering steps away from him, afraid that he’s come to take her back to the unknown.

“Don’t be afraid,” he said in a soothing tone, holding out a hand as if to show that he meant no harm. “I am not here to take you. I am here to welcome you to my world.”

“To your world?” she repeated in bewilderment. “Why?”

A smile appeared on his face, making him look startlingly handsome. With his eyes boring into hers, he said, “Because you’re the new reaper under my command. Welcome to the afterlife, Esmeray.”


Story Banner and Banner for Anne Express by: Yours Truly.

Anne Express: Thanks For The Memories

Hi! This is a five-part drabble/ flash fiction story with Original Characters, written as part of a monthly writing challenge. You’ll get daily updates of each chapter for the next five days including today. So enjoy the ride. ~~A

Prompt: The story must start with the following sentence:

“She wasn’t happy about it, but she’d been recalled to life for a reason”

Memories_2_Complete


Chapter-1


She wasn’t happy about it, but she’d been recalled to life for a reason—that much she knew. Opening her eyes wider, she looked around herself. From the looks of it, she was lying in a field filled with overgrown grass. Looking up, she saw a sky studded with millions of stars.

At least the sky still looks the same, she thought as she moved to sit up.

Taking a quick inventory of herself, she noted with a dim satisfaction that she had all her limbs attached to her. Slowly, she stood up and started making her way toward the pond she could see in the distance. The first few steps she took were tentative, not really having complete control of her body yet; but slowly, her steps grew surer as she approached the pond.

She knelt next to the pond and scooped up handfuls of water to cleanse her face before looking down into her reflection in the water. The woman staring back at her with a sharp nose and full-lips looked oddly familiar, except for her pitch black eyes. She didn’t remember her eyes being so black … in fact, she couldn’t remember the exact color of her eyes at all. The realization struck up another thought in her mind.

What’s my name? Who exactly am I?

No answer came to her mind, and suddenly fear overtook her. Looking out into the dark night surrounding her, she screamed. “Who am I?”


Story Banner and Banner for Anne Express by: Yours Truly.

Bookworm Express: An Unwilling Bride – Jo Beverley

Greetings, fellow bookworms! Welcome to a new week of Bookworm Express on ScribblerAlliance. I know you must have thought I’ve given up on reviewing books, but I assure you that is not the case. I was simply at a loss for something worthwhile to review for you. Lately, I seem to be encountering a lot of disappointing reads and didn’t want to put up a negative review. However, this week’s novel made me want to share my thoughts with you anyway.

Without further ado, I’d like to introduce this week’s featured novel, the second book in The Company of Rogues series, An Unwilling Bride, by one of the most accomplished authors of the historical romance genre, Jo Beverley.

An Unwilling Bride

The story is set in war-torn London where almost all of England’s capable men have joined the War of Waterloo to stop Napoleon Bonaparte, all except one Lucien de Vaux. As the Marquees of Arden and the only heir to a dukedom, Lucien is the perfect mix of arrogance and rakishness that comes with entitlement. However, when a secret related to his birth is revealed, Lucien finds himself helplessly betrothed to a simple school teacher of all people.

Enter Elizabeth Armitage, a school teacher bordering on spinsterhood whose only known relation is her aunt. In the span of an evening, Miss Armitage learns that not only she has a father who is still alive, but that very same father is making her marry an arrogant, self-contained Marquess.

Thus starts a battle of wills between a self-proclaimed feminist and a self-assured rogue. The novel takes us on a ride through history as we see how the English men and women were faring with their near and dear ones at war.

Time for my review. A word of caution, this part will contain some spoilers. Anyway, for the positives, the best thing about this novel is its historical value. Unlike most recent historical romances, the characters seemed very much well-suited for the time period depicted in the novel. The plot was quite well-paced instead of dragging like a lot of period pieces with slow burns do.

Although many romance readers might not agree with this one, but the lover of thrillers in me also enjoyed the balance of romance and adventure Ms. Beverley managed to attain through her book.

So the negatives, you ask? Sadly, almost everything else has to be counted in that list. Firstly, no matter how much I tried (and I tried a lot because I very rarely give up on a book), I could not bring myself to like either of the central characters. From the first moment he’s introduced, Lucien comes off as an arrogant, abusive brat who thinks it’s perfectly fine to threaten his betrothed with physical harm as long as he doesn’t follow through with it.

As for Beth, while she tries very hard to come off as a champion of feminism, she was disappointingly quick to forgive her husband’s instances of physical abuse. Although the author must have wanted this character to seem eloquent and witty with her quoting so many literature, to me, she seemed like a snotty woman with a doormat syndrome.

Another major negative my HEA loving heart had to count is how Lucien’s physical relationship with his mistress is written with as much details as is with his bride. While I understand that it was perfectly normal for men to visit their mistresses even after marriage, I couldn’t stomach the detailed account of his “activities” with his mistress immediately after getting betrothed.

Final thoughts: as an avid reader of historical romances, I found this novel seriously underwhelming. I tried so hard to connect with the characters but failed miserably. While I rarely take more than a couple of days to read a novel of this length, I needed a couple of weeks to get through this one … which included a break during a short trip out of country. Also, I feel like it’s my responsibility to the readers out there to issue a content warning. This novel contains descriptions of domestic abuse as well as of the aftermath of a sexual abuse. So approach with caution.

With a heavy heart, I have to rate this novel 2 stars out of 5 because despite being well-written and having a likable plot, the flaws were too many to be ignored. I feel like I cannot do justice to this author’s writing by simply reading one novel of hers. So I look forward to delving into another of her novels someday … in the distant future.

The views I expressed in this post is solely based on my personal preferences. So you should not judge the novel from my words alone. For that reason, I urge you to give it a try if you feel up to it—just keep in mind that this book is intended for mature audiences only.

That is all for this week. Thank you for joining us. If there’s any book you want us to review, let us know in your comments.

Until next time.

Love,

A


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Anne Express: Teaser for A New Adventure

Hi! It’s been ages since I’ve posted something I’ve written in here. Life has been a bit messy for some time now. But the good news is, I’m writing again and am looking forward to finishing up the stories I’ve left untold and starting new ones as well. On that thought, I would like to share a little teaser for a new story I’ve written. The best part? It’s completely written, and I’m donating this story to a cause worthy of our support.

What’s the cause, you ask?

The situation at US-Mexican border where numerous children had been separated from their parents and hundreds of them are yet to be reunited with their families.

I am not of any opinion as to the political aspect of this situation as I’m not an US citizen; however, as a citizen of the world, my opinion regarding this issue is purely based on the emotionally scarring situation these babies are going through.

For this, I, along with over a hundred of the most talented souls I have had the privilege of knowing, are donating our writing skills to this cause.

Our compiled work will include multi-fandom fanfictions as well as original stories from over a hundred different authors. How to get this compilation, you ask?

It’s pretty simple.

All you have to do is donate $10 to any of the charities listed on the compilation’s website and send in a copy of the receipt to the e-mail address provided in there. And when October 10th rolls around, you’ll receive your copy of the compilation. Pretty exciting, right? You get to read over a hundred previously unpublished literary works and all the while you get to contribute in helping families reunite with their little ones. How amazing is that?

For more details and list of contributing authors, please check out the following blog:

http://babiesattheborder.blogspot.com/

Now, I have decided to share the teaser for my piece to further entice you guys to join me in this endeavor. So here’s something to tickle your fancy…

 

Banner for Non-Date Knight

 

“Wow. You’re smooth,” I compliment just as Sheila returns with the wine and our menus. As I clamp my mouth shut in fear of giving away the true nature of our situation, I sneak surreptitious peeks at my savior of the night. With those startling eyes, chiseled stubbly jaw and a head full of tousled coppery hair, he looks almost disturbingly handsome, and for a moment, I imagine what it would feel like to lick his jaw.

After we’ve placed our orders and Sheila has left us alone once again, a silence settles around us. Trying to shake off my lusty thoughts, I blurt out the first thought that occurs to me. “You must use a ton of hair products.” As soon as the words are out of my mouth, I bite my tongue, wishing my brain-to-mouth filter decided on a more appropriate time to malfunction.

Edward laughs, his eyes doing that twinkling thing again. “Actually, I don’t,” he confesses. “I use those all-in-one kind of body washes. The secret to my hair care is …” he leans in conspiratorially, causing me to lean toward him unknowingly. “… I forget to brush my hair often.”

It takes me a minute to realize what he said and then we’re both laughing, and just like that, the ice of awkwardness disintegrates.

This is a Twilight fanfiction that was inspired by something I saw on Pinterest. So if you want to read more of it as well as more than a hundred other stories, do consider contributing to this worthy cause.

Thanks.

Lots of love,

A


 

Story Banner Artist and Post banner: Yours truly

Bookworm Express: Until Now – Cristin Cooper

Hello, booklovers! Welcome back to another week of Bookworm Express on ScribblerAlliance. Before I introduce this week’s featured novel, I must make a confession. In case you haven’t noticed yet—I’m a wimp when it comes to angst filled novels. So I generally don’t voluntarily read novels that scream angst from the summary.

With that in mind, I almost … almost passed on this novel because it seemed like just another teen pregnancy novel from the front cover and of course we know this category generally falls into angst genre. However, wise humans say to never judge a book by its cover. So I decided to take a stroll through this one and the evidence of my reaction is going to be laid open for you to read soon.

Let me introduce this week’s featured novel Until Now, the first book in Cristin Cooper’s Until series—a standalone teen pregnancy novel intended for matured readers due to subject themes.

Until Now

The story begins in May of 1995 when sixteen-year old Bridget Larson finds herself head over heels in love with an older guy and pregnant with his child. After being shunned by her boyfriend who wants nothing to do with her child and her father who’d rather pretend she herself doesn’t exist, Bridget ends up at a diner with barely enough money to afford a hotel room for a night—a diner owned by Billy Hall.

On the other side of the coin, we see Billy Hall. He’s a twenty four years old, inked up guy backpacking his way through Europe to find the purpose of his life. He gets caught up in whirlwind romances and drunken stupors until one day, his life back in the US catches up to him. The grief from losing both of his parents and the shock of finding himself the owner of their beloved diner makes him want to do nothing with the place. That is until the doors open and in walks a pregnant teenager looking hungry and scared and suddenly, all Billy wants is to protect this girl and her unborn child from the world.

Eighteen years later, Billy’s feelings have changed. What started as pity fort the pregnant teen has morphed into love as she grew into a woman. Now that he’s found his purpose in life, he’s not ready to let go. What he doesn’t know is that Bridget’s feelings had changed long before him and she’s been in love with him since the first moment. However, as the day for her daughter to leave for college looms closer, so does the question of whether they’ll confess their feelings for each other or just let this be another missed opportunity.

Time for my review. First off, the positives: one of the most refreshing things about this book was how it was written. It not only had alternating points of views from both central characters but also alternating timelines so you could keep track of the evolution in their relationship. Personally, I loved this form of writing.

Another big plus is how strong the female characters were. It takes an immensely strong person to be shunned by everyone she knows and still want to go on for her unborn child. I absolutely loved how Bridget kept going despite all odds and how Billy offered her silent support while letting her grow into the woman she was meant to be.

As always, the thing that sold me on it was that it was absolutely FREE on Kobo at the time of writing of this review.

By now I’m sure you are questioning silently that what are the negatives? Well, first and foremost was the fact that the characters were not corporeal. So you couldn’t kick someone or chop her ex’s nuts even if you wanted to but I guess it’s actually a proof of the author’s writing prowess that her words made you feel so.

There were quite a few sexy times between the central characters and their partners which I, being the HEA-craving girl I am, didn’t enjoy. It was given that they’d hook up with other people before finding each other, of course, but did they have to enjoy it so much? That was what my resentful mind thought. But you know what? My writer’s heart recognized the reason behind it too. It was all a mean for the lead characters to grow into the persons they needed to be.

Now comes the big question: did I enjoy this book? Well, I admit that when I first started this one, I didn’t have high hopes for it. It seemed like a clichéd topic but as the story unraveled and we got to know the characters, they seemed to leap out of the pages of the book and demanded to be recognized as real. Without any real forethought, I found that I was rooting for Billy and Bridget to have their happily ever after no matter what. In the end, I’m glad that I didn’t pass this one up just for the sake of escaping the angst because it was a truly well-written book.

In Anne’s scale, this one gets 4 stars out of 5 because while the idea might have been clichéd, the execution of that idea was refreshingly new. If this review, by some miracle, reaches the author, I’d like to thank her personally for giving us this brilliant piece of her work. She definitely deserves kudos for bringing the characters to life and not only on paper, but also in our minds’ eyes.

So if you’re in the mood for something deep and meaningful, you might give this one a try. I think you’ll be surprised by how good this one is.

That is all for this week. Thank you for joining us. If there’s any book you want us to review, let us know in your comments.

Until next time.

Love,

A

 

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Bookworm Express: Love Handles – Gretchen Galway

Hello, fellow bookworms! Welcome to another week of Bookworm Express on ScribblerAlliance. Since RL is filled with harsh realities of life, I decided to read something that would fill my mind with happy thoughts. And with blistering summer heat whooping our asses, I figured you can’t go wrong with a romantic comedy for a summer read.

For that very reason, I chose the first book in Gretchen Galway’s Oakland Hills series, Love Handles, as the featured novel for this week. Although it’s part of a series, it can be read as a standalone novel if you’re in search of a feel good romantic comedy.

Love Handles

The first person we meet in the novel is Beverly Lewis, or Bev, as she prefers to be called—a plus-sized preschool teacher who is a self-proclaimed couch-potato. Being born in a family that’s constantly feuding and having a mother who’s more interested in being her critic than her best friend, Bev is the kind of girl who wants to make the world a better place. She adores what she does for a living and despite the measly paycheck, she’s content with nurturing her young students with love and guidance. Until, she learns that her estranged grandfather has passed away, leaving his crumbling fitnesswear company to none other than her couch-potato self.

Enter Liam Johnson, a former Olympic swimmer and the executive vice president of the said fitnesswear company. Liam has devoted his life to making the company a success and after all he’s done for the old man, to find that he’s left to company not to him, but a preschool teacher? Liam’s out for getting Beverly Lewis out of Fite Fitnesswear and his life. He’s determined to show her what a dumb jock can do.

However, when in a twist of fate Bev ends up losing the job she held dear to her heart, she decides to take charge—of both her life and Fite. Thus starts the story of fashion merchandizing, family feuds and possibly finding love along the way.

Here’s a little excerpt from the book to tickle your fancy:

 

“Exercise should be non-negotiable. For anyone.”

“That’s the kind of talk I can’t stand. Who’s negotiating? With whom? This is my body. Nobody else’s.”

“It’s a pact you make with yourself. To be a complete, healthy human being. Basic maintenance, like brushing your teeth.”

“No, it’s a chore to look good to other people. If you’re not into it—and I will never, ever be into it—you do it for the status. People don’t talk about brushing their teeth like, ‘Oh, sorry I’m late. I was brushing my teeth. I’ve been brushing my teeth so much lately and it’s wearing me out. I’ve been working with a dentist on how to brush my teeth more effectively.’ And then their friends jump in, ‘Oh, I can totally tell. They’re so white! So strong!,’ and, ‘Who’s your dentist?’”

He stared at her. Had Ed known about her when he put her in the will? “You have just inherited a fitnesswear company.”

“No shit. Thank God it’s clothes, because if this was like a gym or something, I might be in trouble.”

 

Now who doesn’t love Bev’s reasoning? I know I do!

Time for my review. First the positives: This story was heartwarming and sweet to boot and the Rolling-on-the-floor-laughing moments were just perfection. I loved the flow of the story. Not for one moment it felt like it was dragging, and I admit to not have wanted it to end.

The best part of the book for me though was the body positive message it sends to us, the readers. In fashion, more specifically sports fashion, women are depicted as toned and perfect size zeros. It’s not an uncommon trend to have a news article pop up about anorexic models who pushed themselves beyond limit just to get there. This book delivered a very powerful message to every man and woman out there—you choose to exercise to stay healthy, not to show off your athletic figure to others.

Another big plus point is that this book was free on Kobo at the time of writing of this review. Also, just by signing up for the author’s newsletter, you can get another book in the series completely free!

Now … time for the negatives. Honestly, there weren’t many negatives I could count with this story. Just a little side note is that the way the family reconciliation was achieved in the end wasn’t my favorite bit of the story.

In Anne’s scale, this book gets 4.5 stars out of 5 purely because how amazingly witty it is. I loved both the lead characters, and Liam’s family is adorable. And do I dare mention the UST? The UST level with this one is HIGH, my friends. It’ll leave you panting like a dog in heat before anything even happens, but that just makes the smexy bits that much hotter.

So if you’re looking for a funny quick read about how two completely opposite people might find common ground, look no further and grab your copies of this goodness now!

Thank you for being with us this week. If there’s any book you want us to review, let us know in your comments.

Until next time.

Love,

A

 

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