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review 2017-09-19 02:01
ARC Review: Saved (Breaking Free #1) by A.M. Arthur
Saved: Breaking Free #1: An Omegaverse Story - A.M. Arthur

I've never read an A/B/O book such as this one. My only exposure to Alpha/Beta/Omega is in shifter books, but this isn't a shifter book.

In this A/B/O universe, there are no shifters. There are no females. There are Alphas who are in charge, Betas who are barren but are allowed to hold jobs and adopt children (usually Beta and Omega children), and Omegas who are the lowest of the low and whose sole purpose, it seems, is to be mated to Alphas and be good little breeders.

Hmmm... that sounds familiar.

In this dystopian future of the United States, the Federal Government is no more, constitutional rights are a thing of the past, and the country is broken up into small provinces which all have their own rules and laws. 

We first meet Braun, an Omega, 20 and close to his first heat, upon his father's death. Now a ward of the state, since omegas are third-class citizens at best, unable to inherit, unable to make any personal choices, Braun is sent to a group home for orphaned omegas. Beaten regularly by his father, abused not just physically but mentally as well, told all his life that his sole purpose is to become some alpha-hole's breeding bitch, Braun is certain that alphas cannot be trusted and that happiness is not something he can expect at all. His own brother Kell is mated to a horrible Alpha, and Braun knows that Kell's lot in life is his future as well.

This was a difficult book to read, and it's just as difficult to write a coherent review without spoilers. I would advise any potential reader to heed the warnings in the blurb. Be prepared to RAGE at the injustices within. There were numerous times when I sat in my chair, my Nook gripped in my hands, and my eyes blinded with tears caused by helpless rage. 

Consent isn't required between an Alpha and his Omega. Domestic discipline is within the law. Omegas have no rights to speak of, and little protection from abuse. 

Yeah, I raged. A lot. 

The themes in this book are rather comparable to our current political climate, and there are many parallels that can be drawn between what happens in the book and what's happening in this world today. 

I liked that Braun, despite his circumstances, still had fight left in him. I liked that Tarek (the Alpha who helps Braun) was considerate and kind and patient. He took the time to win Braun's trust, something Braun didn't give easily, and he helped Braun as much as he could. He wasn't perfect, far from it, but he tried and tried to do the right thing by the young man in his care, no matter how hard Braun fought believing that an Alpha could be kind. 

I also quite liked the two Betas who take Braun in and conceal him, and who help him through his first heat. It wasn't easy reading to watch Braun go through that.

None of this book was easy reading, though there is reason for hope that things may start to change to make the lives of omegas a little easier. 

Kell's book is next. That will likely be even more difficult to get through.

Despite the dark themes inside, I would recommend this series. 



** I received a free copy of this book from Indigo Marketing & Design. A positive review was not promised in return. **

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review 2017-09-15 11:00
ARC Review: Be My Best Man by Con Riley
Be My Best Man - Con Riley

Con Riley never disappoints, and this author just keeps getting better and better.

 

In Be My Best Man, Con not only gives us a beautiful romance, but also head-on tackles one of the big current social issues.

 

Vanya, early 20s, has fled his home country of Russia nearly eight months ago when he was found out as being gay and violently beaten because of his sexuality. Now in Britain, still traumatized and scared, his dreams of becoming a teacher dashed, he is waiting to get this asylum request approved so he can be granted the ability to have a job and earn an income. In his current limbo, though finally safe from persecution for his sexuality, he lives in a run-down hostel where he has befriended a young man and woman from Estonia, who are both in Britain legally as EU citizens but whose status under Brexit is also uncertain. The hostel is not really safe either, though Vanya shares a room with his friend Kaspar. Theft is rampant. Rooms are broken into. Women fear being assaulted.

The author created a character that I immediately connected with. Vanya struggles to learn English, practicing whenever and wherever he can, and his struggles were authentic and realistic. His loneliness was evident, and I felt for him right away.

 

Jason is a man in his early forties, who's recently had a falling out with his foster brother Andrew over the brother's recent engagement and wedding plans. See, it's the 3rd wedding, and Jason, without even meeting the girl in question, has already decided that this is just another mistake. He too felt lonely to me, when he was first introduced, despite being rather successful in his business, and it was fairly clear to me that he was shaped by his childhood experiences and didn't really trust anyone, other than his late foster mother and foster brother.

 

The meet-cute happens in the department store where Kaspar works and Vanya is visiting after his latest asylum appointment and Jason is hiding to wait for a call or text from Andrew. Jason thinks Vanya works in the store, and Vanya wants to practice his English. And get to know the hunky older man.

 

Jason's wrong assumption leads to him hiring Vanya as his personal shopper, and the two begin spending time together. This is where the story really begins to take shape.


Con Riley combined the sweet yet complicated romance that develops between these two men with the social issue of asylum seekers who have no legal standing, are usually running from persecution, scared to death, having to learn the customs of a country so foreign to them, and being generally looked down upon by many people. Vanya's plight, his uncertain status before asylum is granted, his internalized shame, was heart-breaking, and I wanted to reach into the book and hug him and protect him. He keeps a huge secret from Jason, and this secret nearly breaks them.

 

Jason on the other hand is oblivious to Vanya's struggles for a long time, not intentionally of course, but he doesn't realize how traumatized the young man is. He also doesn't realize for a long time how much he's hurting Andrew and his future wife, and how his distrust of Andrew knowing his own heart is jeopardizing the remaining piece of family he has. But he learns. Under Vanya's attention, Jason begins to question decisions he's made, and how wrong he might have been. With Vanya in his life, Jason starts to believe that love might be real after all. He goes to finally meet Andrew's lovely young fiancee, and he begins to see how much they are truly in love, to the point where he even steps in to... well, no, you read this yourself.

 

The author has an extraordinary talent in giving life to the characters and making them feel real. Vanya's skittishness, Jason's irrational anger (born out of heartache), the social circumstances, Vanya making huge mistakes born out of fear - everything in this book was absolutely realistic and relatable.

 

This book (and the romance) flows slowly, and it needs to. Trauma such as Vanya's takes time to overcome. Jason's disbelief in lasting love can't just suddenly disappear. They are both shaped by their experiences, and since neither feels safe to talk freely and openly about their fears, they don't have an easy path to their HEA.

 

Writing their story in the third person present tense was also a stroke of genius, because this reader felt even more connected to the characters this way. Read every word carefully - this isn't a book you can speed-read. You must savor every carefully crafted sentence, every brilliant paragraph, and let the story unfold in real time to get the full impact. Vanya's English is heavily accented, and it's written in such a way, that I could easily "hear" him speaking the words.

 

I cried a few times. I wanted Jason to pull his head out of his ass. I wanted to shield Vanya from the big, bad world and give him shelter. I loved these characters, I loved this story, and I absolutely highly recommend that you read it.

 

Get to it.

 


** I received a free copy of this book from Signal Boost Promotions as part of the review tour for an honest and fair review. **

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review 2017-09-10 21:27
Pure madness, Chick- Lit with an edge…
Mad: A Novel (Mad, Bad, and Dangerous to Know Trilogy) - Chloé Esposito

 

 

Book Title:  Mad

Author:  Chloe Esposito

Narration:  Emily Atack

Series:  Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know

Genre:  Humor, Mystery, Dark Chick Lit

Setting:  London & Sicily

Source:  Audiobook (Library)

 

 

 

Add to Goodreads

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ratings Breakdown

 

Plot:  4.3/5

Main Characters:  4.7/5

Secondary Characters:  3/5

The Feels:  4/5

Addictiveness:  4/5

Theme or Tone:  3.8/5

Flow (Writing Style): 4.5/5

Backdrop (World Building):  4/5

Originality:  4.5/5

Book Cover:  5/5

Narration:  5/5

Ending:  4.2/5  Cliffhanger:  pretty much does…

Total:  4.3/5 STARS

 

 

My Thoughts

 

 

Alvina may have the female version of a famous chipmunk for a name…but you should not underestimate her.  She's a lively, seriously funny, albeit slutty, take-no-shit from anybody kind of woman.  She can swear like a sailor…she puts me to shame, even.  She's really not very likable…and yet I found myself somehow liking her anyway…it might have a lot to do with her wicked sense of humor. 

 

Alvina is actually brought to life in the audio version.  Emily Atack can tell a story, she even had a way of speaking in a lower, subdued voice when she spoke the inner dialogue, that was fantastically done.  Usually, with most narrators, I have a difficult time telling if something is said out loud or if it's inner dialogue, when listening on audio. 

 

 

Will I continue this series I will try…another audio added to my tbr.

 

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review 2017-08-31 18:00
Letting Go
Letting Go (Love By Design) (Volume 1) - Ashley Morningstar

He didn’t do anything inappropriate but his touch, whether it was the hand on his thigh or when he draped his arm across the couch and drew circles on the exposed skin of his neck with his fingertips, spread chill bumps across Alex’s skin making his skin feel alive and sensitive. It was all innocent, except to Alex’s body, because it felt like Kelley was playing him like an instrument. Tweaking and strumming and fine tuning it to hit every note in a song only Kelley knew.

 

 

I have to say I was not sure what to expect from this at all. I rarely read reviews and even find myself avoiding blurbs.  But I had met Morningstar Ashley at GRL and have since interacted with her on Facebook.  So picking up her book seemed like a logical step.  But what if I hated her book?  It is a difficult position to be in as a reader when you become acquaintances with authors on FB. But in the end, I had to dive in and I am so thankful that I did, because this was better than I ever could have expected.

 

First off, as a debut novel, I can say that I was thoroughly impressed overall by not only the story itself but the writing style.  Yes, for me there were some inconsistencies in some timing of a few things, the lack of understanding about this intern program (which frankly was unnecessary) or paragraphs that did not seem to flow as smoothly as others, but regardless, these moments were few and far between. In the end it was the emotional connection made, not only between these characters but the connection made between these characters and me as the reader.  I fell in love with Kelley, Alex and Evie. 

 

Kids in books can be a challenge, but sweet Evie never felt anything but real for me.  And as a parent with a child with high anxiety I could relate to this sweet child.  And the fact that she doesn’t miss anything is absolutely true. Kids are perceptive on a level some adults never give them credit for.

 

Alex’s internal struggles were beautifully captured and told.  Morningstar dealt with these mental challenges amazingly well and I felt ever barrier that was built up over the years and understood quite well the reasons.  I loved how Kelley had glimpsed years ago the smile and life that was Alex and could see that he was buried under years of grief and internal abuse as he denied himself true emotion.

 

I do wish we could have had less of Kelley’s work and more about him.  I know nothing about his personal story other than his friends.  Had he even dated anyone in the past at all? Are his parents living?  If these things were said, they were definitely in passing.  But regardless, his caring and “mother hen” persona was just so well matched to Evie and Alex.

 

And the sex…good gawd.  I absolutely loved the sexual connection between these two.  These scenes were so hot but at the same time so emotionally driven that I loved every moment. I do wish we could have avoided the time jump at the very end and had a few more steamy scenes…but hey…I will take what I can get. 

 

 

So what is next? I have to say if Morningstar is not already writing Peter’s story I will begin hounding her now for this book. I am fascinated and intrigued by this man for sure!!

 

Oh and for what it is worth...the paper plate scene will be one I remember for years to come.  Sweet Kelley.  LOL

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review 2017-08-22 04:58
Hearts of Purpose: Real Life Stories from Ordinary Women
Hearts of Purpose: Real life stories from ordinary women doing extraordinary things for the glory of God. (The Call) - Gail G Nordskog

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Title: Hearts of Purpose: Real Life Stories from Ordinary Women Doing Extraordinary Things for the Glory of God.
Author: Gail G. Nordskog
Publisher: Nordskog Publishing
Reviewed By: Arlena Dean
Rating: Five
Review:

"Hearts of Purpose: Real Life Stories from Ordinary Women Doing Extraordinary Things for the Glory of God" by Gail G. Nordskog

My Thoughts......from this wonderful read...where each author brings their story alive.

These were beautifully written stories about ten women on their remarkable journeys that made a 'great impression' on Gail Grace Nordfskog as well as to its readers.

I will introduce each other and offer up a discussion question. Now, you will have to pick up this good read to see for yourself and be able to answer the questions that are offered up at the end of each ones section of their story.

First we have Chapter one with Mary Ann Ambroselli whose main focus was on 'Counseling on Keeping PreBorn Babies Alive.
Discussion Question: This one caught my eye...Mary Ann suffered many losses in her family. Have you ever wondered where God is when tragedy strikes?

Second Chapter we visit with Cindy Reynolds whose main forcus was 'Ministry to Orphans in Linjiang.
Discussion Question:What does this mean "If you depend upon Jesus, your enemy will become your Friend? I found this quite interesting!

Chapter Three...Audrey Forster whose focus was 'Worldwide Adoptions and Aid to Orphans.
Discussion Question: When you reflect on your talents and gifts, what do they include?

Chapter Four: Patricia Blanco Steele focus on: Transforming the Lives of Abused Women and Children
Discussion Question: In reading Trisha's thoughts on "Love," which items impact you the most?

Chapter Five: Julie Dawson Focus: To Bring Healing to the Nations through the Multiplication of Medical Ships and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. To Disciple Nations through Evangelism and the Multiplication of Leadership Schools for the South Pacific ad Asia
Discussion Question: Do you believe that "all things work together for good: Romans 8:28

Chapter Six: Lisa Shidler focus: Helping and Training Special Needs Orphans
Discussion Question: In reading about special needs children, what stands out in your mind about them?

Chapter Seven: Marilyn Pulis Minister, Ordained by the Assemblies of God Pulis Ministries
Focus on: Spreading the Gospel
Discussion Question: When was the first time you felt the presence of the Lord?

Chapter Eight: Lili Vaehr: CFO, MovieGuide & Good News Communications Inc.
Focus on: Biblical Guide to Movies and Entertainment
Discussion Question: Instead of a question here I would like to just add Lil's Five Don'ts to Help You Succeed in Parenting, Marriage and Life..

Don't Create Your Walls
Don't Wait
Don't Compartmentalize
Don't Be Afraid
Don't Quit

Chapter Nine: Nita Hanson Director, God's Hidden Treasures
Focus on: Bringing Hope to the Forgotten
Discussion Question: Have you ever felt that you are a "mistake?"

Chapter Ten: Sharon Daly President, The Mossy Foot Project, Ethiopia
Focus on: Providing Mossy Foot Patients with Support through Education, Prevention, Medical Treatment, Vocational Training and a Message of Hope
Discussion Question: I loved this one coming from the read....

"I have been in every moment of your past,
My hand formed you
I am with your now.
I will be with you in the future.
All tomorrows are in My hands.
Trust Me daily.
Trust Me moment by moment.
I am your life and your portion.
Trust me for everything.
I will never leave you or let you down?"

All that is left to say after reading and absorbing it all from these wonderful well written stories is to thank this author for presenting such a good reads to the readers. I didn't know when I picked this read that I was about to receive so much from each one of the stories that will truly stay with me forever. I even tried to pick a favorite one but couldn't because each one of the reads touched me in different ways.

I loved the 'Two Pertinent Devotions in Closing from New Every Morning from the author of this book: Gail Grace Nordskog.... A Daily Devotional Glorify the Lord....Oh, magnify the Lord, with me, and let us exalt His name together. [Psalms 34:3] and If God Be For Us...When then shall we say to these things? If god is for us, who can be against us? [Romans 8:31]

Thank you to the author and WNL for sending me your novel for me to give my honest opinion of its read. These were truly "Real-life stories about ten ordinary women doing extraordinary things for the Glory of God."

 

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