ISBN-13: 9780425273760
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication Date: 2 June 2015
Format: Paperback, 304 pgs

Source: Purchased

I love a light, cozy romance once in a while and Julie James' latest release, Suddenly One Summer, comes into mind. I've always enjoyed reading her books; not only her heroes are sexy and her heroines are smart and witty, too. The dialogues between the characters made me giggle at times, and I know I could always rely on James' books for a perfect escape read. 

Suddenly One Summer is a story about two different people coming together and falling in love unexpectedly. Victoria Slade is a successful lawyer dealing in divorce cases; she also owns the firm and as much as she is single and attractive, she has seen enough unhappy marriages to not committing a relationship with its ultimate path to a marriage. On top of that, when she was ten her father left her and her mother for a younger woman and started a new life, leaving her mother into depression and almost died from sleeping pills overdose. That fear and the anxiety still linger in her mind all the way to her adult life, and that feeling has worsened after some burglars broke into her house one night, forcing her to move out from her home and look for another. 

Her new neighbour, Ford Dixon, who's also in his thirties and an investigative journalist, thinks Victoria is attractive but off-limits since a few occasions they've encountered have left a bad impression in each other's eyes. Nevertheless, that didn't stop Victoria from helping his sister, Nicole; after learning that she's a single mother with a four-month-old baby and is ditched by the man who'd got her pregnant in the first place. 

Despite Victoria's unwillingness to team up with Ford initially, she wants to help Nicole and she knew through her legal expertise, she will fight for Nicole's rights but before that, they need to find the man. On the other end, Ford knew there would be sparks flying, good or bad, but he is confident that they will nail down the guy very soon through his resources working with the Tribune. Plus, Victoria is great when it comes to roles playing during their 'missions'. 

Playing amateur sleuth with Ford isn't what Victoria has expected in the first place. She thinks clashes and snarky comments are unavoidable when Ford is concerned, but as the more they work together she noticed a softer, vulnerable  side of Ford which she finds irresistible and sexy. Likewise, Ford sees Victoria in a new light that under her confident, businesslike personality she is simply an ordinary woman who has her woes like any other women. Witnessing her panic attack on a subway has unleashed the protective streak in him and allows him to think again of their relationship, but Victoria is skeptical of relationships and marriages, considering the cases she's dealt with and seeing her own parents' marriage crumbles until it finally struck her how miserable and foolish she has been after turning Ford down for good. 

Although the premise isn't new, what I liked about this book (in fact all Julie James' books) is the heroine and the witty dialogues which have become her signature elements. I like reading stories about relationships which start from friends, and also relationships whereby both the hero and heroine dislike each other initially but how their feelings have changed as the time goes. These premises always interest me and I find Ms. James is good in writing them (though I've to admit it's always her writing style which have made me a fan of hers.) Highly recommended if you love a good contemporary romance with a combination of great dialogues and sizzlingly romance. 

Here's my thoughts on other Julie James' books:


ISBN-13: 9780062362254
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication Date: 19 May 2015

Format: Hardcover, 352 pgs
Source: Purchased

It first started with the book titled The Perfect Stranger. Catherine Ravenscroft doesn't remember buying that book or brought it back home, but there it is by her bedside, calling out to her to read it. Out of curiosity she flipped through the pages, and the more she read the more she is terrified of the story it turns out to be. You see, the story is about her and the secrets she has tried to hide twenty years ago. 

Stephen Brigstocke, the self-published author, who's out to get Catherine is sure he is doing the right thing by taunting her and humiliating her. He wants to see her world crumbles and suffer from it, after all what she did to his family is deemed unforgivable and had caused a death due to her involvement. 

Told in Stephen's first person and Catherine's third person, Disclaimer tells a taut, riveting story of how secrets and misconceptions will tear two families apart, and how far one would go under hatred and grieving circumstances. 

It was an emotional roller coaster ride reading this book; initially it'd made me feel unsettling, then that feeling quickly turned to contempt and ultimately shocked over the revealing truth towards the end. While the truth might be thrilling and satisfying for some, personally it left me cold because I was thinking of reasons why Catherine kept those secrets all along under that certain circumstances (I can't say what since that'd a huge spoiler.) It made me angry and felt I was being deceived by her. 

That said, it was also a thought-provoking read. I do sympathised with all the characters involved, and at times I felt sad for Stephen's wife, Nancy, because the tragedy of losing a family member has crippled her so much so that she embraced cancer like it'd saved her sanity. It was those scenes that was heartbreaking and had really struck me. I should have given this book 4½ stars but I settled for four due to my mixed feelings towards the conclusion. Still, it was a good psychological thriller and I'll be looking forward to Ms. Knight's future release. 


ISBN-13: 9780062348890
PublisherHarperCollins Publishers
Publication Date: 7 July 2015
Format: Paperback, 432 pgs
Source: Publisher

Magician-turned-FBI-agent Jessica Blackwood returns in this sequel to Angel Killer; in which the last investigation case requires her intelligence and her expertise in the art of illusions, something which she'd done in the past and tried to bury after she'd left home to live on her own. Her father and grandfather had worked together in countless performances on stage, and Jessica was taught to perform little acts since she was a girl. However, one incident had nearly caused her death, and she'd tried to shun away from performing since then. Her relationship with her grandfather remains lukewarm, but she respect him and would still approach him for some magic advice, just like the case she's looking into in this installment. 

An explosion took away four lives in a church and a local sheriff is the suspect until he was found dead eventually. The FBI has gathered evidence that these people had known each other and that their death are connected to an event happened years ago. But what they aren't sure of is is the sheriff's erratic behaviour is psychological or pharmacological. Did someone lead him to doing something under a confused mind? 

As Jessica digs further, she realises there's something more than meets the eye and someone wants her dead, as well. With no evidence of her suspicion and no support from her superiors, Jessica knew she has to rely on her own to unravel all the truth and she is fortunate she has one or two reliable agents who trusted her and Damian Knight, an ex-boyfriend who seems to have many connections but whose real identity remains a mystery to many, including Jessica. 

From state cities to rural Tixato in Mexico, Jessica learnt that whoever is responsible for the church explosion is someone who has intelligence, resources and power to rid of any links pointing at him or her and the ultimate purpose of all is to seek revenge of what happened on one fateful night involving the sheriff and victims of the church explosion. 

If there's magic and mayhem in the first installment, Angel Killer, then there's actions and more actions in this sequel as there are implications ranging from diabolical forces to drug cartels to the Vatican that have our determined heroine running around. While I found the actions entertaining, what I also enjoyed reading about this book is Jessica's relationship with her grandfather as I felt it is more in depth here. Raised from a family of illusionists, Jessica is fully aware of the danger they are always in and perhaps because of this mindset, she isn't afraid of taking chances and relying on her instincts. I also liked reading about the complicated relationship she'd had with Damian. I still wasn't sure about him, but after saving Jessica for countless times (despite his obsessive attention on her) I think he wouldn't be that bad of a character, right? 

Reading this book has also set me thinking that some things may not always seem what we think them to be. Right and wrong, good and bad... there's always a fine line between them and sometimes it's hard to judge them, viewing from different perspectives. While Name of the Devil is a sequel, it could be read as a standalone but I'd recommend reading it in order for the characters development. 

ISBN-13: 9780385538510
Publisher: Doubleday
Publication Date: 4 August 2015
Format: eBook, 336 pgs
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss

I'd read Jennifer McMahon's Promise Not to Tell and enjoyed it; so much so that I quickly devoured her latest release, The Night Sister, despite that I have yet to read her other older releases. I know I will get to them at some point, but for this moment I wanted to read Ms. McMahon's latest and be swept away by her fantastic storytelling. After all, who wouldn't be intrigued by an atmospheric setting of a run-down old motel and a suspenseful tale about sisters and secrets? 

Set in London, Vermont, with the time period alternates between the 1950s and 2013, it is a tale about three girls who'd stumbled upon a past that would ruin their friendship forever. 

Amy, Piper and Piper's kid sister, Margot, would never forget the day they found a suitcase containing some old clothings and a picture of Amy's mother, Rose and her elder sister, Sylvie Slater, when they were children. Amy's memories of her mother are vague, since her childhood was mostly spent with her grandmother, Charlotte. She also understood from her grandmother that Aunt Sylvie disappeared at the age of eighteen and her disappearance has deeply traumatized her mother, Rose. 

Now as adults, Piper and Margot tried to forget about their teenaged past since Amy has chosen to distance from them. But it seems the past has caught up on them once again when the news of Amy's death got to Piper and Margot and Piper. And what shocked them most is that it seemed Amy had killed her husband and son before shooting herself; her young daughter is the only survivor. What was the motive and why was there an old picture of Rose and Sylvie with two words "29 rooms" scribbled on it at the crime scene? 

As much as this is a story about Amy, Piper and Margot, at its core it's about the relationship between Sylvie and Rose, and the secrets they'd shared and hid from each other. Sylvie and and Rose are an interesting characters to read; Sylvie is the golden girl who has big dreams of becoming the next leading actress of Mr. Alfred Hitchcock's movies while Rose is the quiet girl who thinks she has no beauty and talents.  

As in Jennifer McMahon's style, there is a hint of the supernatural element alongside with the mystery, but this is quite different from her other books. The characterisations are interesting and the book was unputdownable. However, there is something which kept me from giving this book a 5-star ratings but I wouldn't say what it is since I don't want to spoil anything. That said, it didn't take away my joy of reading it. As I said, Ms. McMahon is a fantastic  storyteller; I was totally entranced by her storytelling and that's all I've got to say about this book. 

ISBN-13: 9781408857861
Publisher: Bloomsbury Childrens
Publication Date: 5 May 2015
Format: Paperback, 432 pgs
Source: Purchased

In Sarah J. Maas' latest fantasy trilogy, humans and faeries are enemies and they are bound by rules of The Treaty laid centuries ago. High Faes and faeries live in the lands of Prythian and their lands are separated by walls and borders from the mortal lands. There are legends and rumours surrounding the faeries, that they hate iron and that an ash arrow made out from ash wood would kill them, though no one really knows if that's fact or merely rumours until a nineteen-year-old girl named Feyre killed a wolf with her ash wood arrow during hunting. It turned out that the wolf is no ordinary wolf but a faery.

When the High Lord of Spring Court, Tamlin, knew Feyre has killed his friend, he sought her out and gave her an option to either be killed or live out the remainder of her days in Prythian. Feyre chose to cross the wall and spend her days in Prythian, knowing very well that her family needs her and she would find her way out of Prythian. But her hope of escaping is dashed when she finds herself falling for Tamlin; a High Lord whom she finds both threatening yet noble at the same time.

When the seven courts in Prythian are threatened by Amarantha, the powerful High Queen of Prythian, the other High Lords and faeries knew they have only one person to rely on to help regain their freedom in their immortal world - Feyre, a mortal girl who vows to save Tamlin from Amarantha's grasp out of love and loyalty and to save the human realm should Amarantha decides to exercise her power and authority on it as well (There is a history why she hates humans so much but I'm not going to dwell on that.)

Sarah J. Maas has done a wonderful job in the world building and creating a cast of equally wonderful, fascinating characters. The story has a few similarities with the popular classic fairy tale "Beauty and the Beast" in terms of the three sisters and their father who'd lost their wealth (here is Feyre and her two elder sisters and Feyre is the only one who brings food to the family since her sisters acted like princesses and their father's leg is injured after being beaten off by his creditors due to an unfortunate failed business) and of course, Tamlin who shares a resemblance of the Beast (who is also cursed) but other than these, this fantasy stands out of its own with its original plot and a remarkable setting of the immortal faeries world.

I found myself admiring and empathising Feyre at the same time reading this story. I liked her strength and her courage, and most of all her fierce devotion towards Tamlin when she is forced to take upon a few quests by Amarantha and from there we got to see her wit, her determination and her struggles as she is forced to make a decision in matters of life and death. I also found myself intrigued by supporting characters such as Lucien (Tamlin's court-trained emissary, a warrior in his own right) and Rhysand, a High Lord of the Night court who seemed charismatic and dangerous at the same time. He played an important role in Feyre's life in the immortal world and he is one character which had left me baffled due to his personality. Is he good or bad? He couldn't be good if he was feared by other faeries and killed orhers mercilessly but yet he couldn't be bad either if he'd saved Feyre's life more than once.

Although the book stated this is the first of a trilogy, the ending is surprisingly nicely wrapped up and even could read it as a standalone. Still, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and would definitely continue with this trilogy. And I hope to see more of Rhysand in the sequel (the book stated it'd be released in May 2016.) simply because he is such an intriguing character, aside from Tamlin and Lucien.