Ruined Aesthetic + Awesome Giveaway by M. C. Frank!

Last week I brought you my review of Ruined, another fantastic book by author M.C. Frank. And today I get to announce more awesome news: the author is having a giveaway, and you can be part of the fun!

February is here, and we have only 4 more nights until Valentine’s Day. Gasp! Do you have a special someone to celebrate the day with you? I’m a really lucky duck: my city of Marseille is the European Capital of Romance this Valentine’s (apparently it’s a thing) so my Valentine’s evening will be full of literal fireworks.

M.C. Frank’s books have beautiful couples. Romance is in the air! Such fantastic couples that I actually decided to give Aesthetic creation a whirl:

B E A T R I C E + D O M I N I C  from  R U I N E D

 

I loved this couple – and this is coming from a girl who doesn’t usually go for romance. Beatrice and Dominic bring out the best in each other, and grow to be better people because of their relationship. Absolutely fantastic romance – especially for lovers of Historical Retellings.

A R I   +   W E S   from   LOSE   ME .

33859529a New Adult novel about an actor and a stunt girl, who film a modern P&P adaptation on a Greek island.

I reviewed this novel some time back, and here were my thoughts about this love story:

There’s just so much to love about the characters. Wes is the perfect book boyfriend (allow me to swoon a little?) once the asshole playboy facade fades away. The perfect gentleman, smart, a book lover (that’s where he gets me!) and handsome to a fault. It makes you feel for him, knowing Ari has no choice but to break his heart. And Ari herself is such a complex girl, her struggles so vivid and honestly quite traumatic.

And then there’s their relationship. I was put off a little at first, with how toxic it seemed at first glance. There’s quite a lot of saving, knights in shining armor, and then squabbling about life-saving (at first). I just couldn’t see a healthy way for Ari and Wes to be together, with all their baggage, secrets, and basically life-debts. But then I realized that was the entire point! And the character growth from that point on? Stunning.

I’m not a romance reader, but this New Adult contemporary really struck a cord. Basically – ALL THE FEELS.  I haven’t even gotten to talking about the amazing supporting characters and the subplots. And while the story isn’t a direct retelling of Pride and prejudice, it’s definitely something fans of Austen will adore.

Sublime. Read at your own risk, your heart will probably break.

A S T R A + F E L I X  from NO  ORDINARY  STAR

a scifi series of 3 books, set in an icy-cold world where books, Christmas, clocks and kisses are forbidden.

This is by far my favorite couple from M.C. Frank’s body of work. No Ordinary Star is Scifi, so readers of this blog will probably throw their hands up in the air and go ‘well, that explains it.’ I’m nothing if not predictable when it comes to Scifi.

From my review of NO VAIN LOSS, the last book of the series: The No Ordinary Star series has to be one of the most perfect series I have ever read, because it gave me everything I wanted out of my reading time. Character to adore, to root for, to ship, to watch grow. A plot that never felt contrived, always unpredictable and that makes you want more. And a lyrical style full of love for the human race.

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Alright, enough about me rambling. I promised a giveaway, now, didn’t I? CLICK HERE to visit M.C. Frank’s blog and see all the ways you can win! There’s $15 from book depository for the winner, and there may be more than just one.

Happy Valentine’s day to all the lovers out there – you book lovers especially! Go on a date night with your favorite book. Curl up in bed together. Now that’s a Valentine’s day that will make your heart flutter.


P.S. Did you know M.C. Frank has created a resource for authors and reviewers to find each other? It’s called the Book Robin Hoods and I love it! I’ve been involved as an author and have met fantastic bloggers through the site. Check it out if you want to be a part of the fun!

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Paintbrush

By Hannah Bucchin

Some days things just end up falling into place, and you wonder if the universe is messing with you, because coincidences like this just don’t happen. For example, when you’re on a truffle tour in the south of France with your family, and on that same tour group of a dozen people, there’s another YA author, who’s part of the same groups as you are online. The fact that she’s awesome just happens to be bonus (thanks universe!) so the second I got home I ordered her book on Prime, and couldn’t wait to read it. Another reason to thank the universe? The book, author Hannah Buccin’s Debut novel, Paintbrush, is charming and adorable, and everything I needed right now. And I think you might need it too.

Summary

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Mitchell Morrison and Josie Sedgwick have spent their whole lives at the Indian Paintbrush Community Village, a commune full of colorful characters tucked in the mountains of North Carolina, and they aren’t particularly close–at least, not anymore. Josie wishes she could spend all of her time at Paintbrush planting tomatoes, hiking the trails, or throwing giant communal birthday parties, while Mitchell can’t wait to escape the bizarre spiritual sharing and noisy community dinners. Luckily for both of them, high school graduation is just around the corner.

But when Mitchell’s mother makes a scandalous announcement that rocks the close-knit Paintbrush community, and Josie’s younger sister starts to make some dangerously bad decisions, the two find themselves leaning on each other for support – and looking at each other in a whole new light. Their childhood friendship blossoms into something more as they deal with their insane families, but as graduation approaches, so does life in the real world, forcing Josie and Mitchell to figure out what, exactly, their relationship is – and if it can survive their very different plans for the future. 

Musings

Welcome to the Indian Paintbrush Community Village for Sustainable Living: a beautiful commune filled with colorful characters. Among them, two teens on the cusp of adulthood. One, Josie, is nature loving, loves the Paintbrush community, dresses in long skirts and wears a braid. The other, Mitchell, could be the polar opposite: he just wants to fit into his high school, he’s on the swim team, popular, and doesn’t want anything to do with these ‘hippies’.

Life on the commune is peaceful, until one day when Mitchell’s mother does something earth shattering and changes his world forever.

The book deals with the questions that every teen struggles with as they reach adulthood: what is your place in the world? How do you choose your path for your future? Is it better to blend in, or stay true to who you are? How do you forgive the unforgivable – and so on. And it’s handled oh-so beautifully.

While the plot focuses on the growing and evolving relationships between Mitchell and Josie – who have more in common than they expect – it’s also using their two points of views to examine these questions. It’s a story of first love, and coming of age. Setting it on a commune frames this exploration in just a warm and loving embrace that you constantly feel hugged while reading the book. The supporting characters are just that: so supportive. In the best possible way.

If you’re looking for a YA contemporary that will leave you with a smile and a warm feeling in your heart. then you’re going to love Paintbrush. It’s a sweet and beautiful book that deserves a place on your bookshelf.

Caught on Camera

by Madelle Morgan
Reviewed by SA

Let me start off this review by saying I don’t usually read romance – heck, it’s a genre I rarely ever connect with. But when the author sent me a copy of her book, I though it might be high time to give it a chance. And I was right: Caught on Camera was such a blast, and I enjoyed every minute of it! Did I mention it has a playlist?

Summary31945536

To achieve her dream of working on Hollywood film sets, star struck chambermaid Rachel Lehmann needs $35,000 for film school tuition by the end of the summer. When she’s asked to fill in for a missing bridesmaid at a movie star’s wedding and pretend to be the bride’s cousin, it’s her big chance to secretly take photos of celebrities and sell them to the entertainment media! Then Mickey, one of the groomsmen, sweeps her off her feet.

Mickey McNichol, talent agent to the stars, believes everyone in show business is out for what they can get. When he falls hard for the bride’s “cousin”, he thinks he’s finally met a beautiful woman he can trust. But if Rachel betrays the wedding party, Mickey will ensure she never works in Hollywood.

Musings

Rachel needs a whole lot of money if she’s ever going to get into her first choice film school in LA – a problem that’s so wholly relatable to other New Adults like this reader right here. I remember looking up how much money I could make selling my kidney. Rachel’s smarter though – she gets a job working the summer at a hotel in Muskoka, sneaking snaps of celebrities she hopes she can sell to reach her financial goal.

But when a bridesmaid fails to turn up at the huge, star studded wedding that had rented out the hotel for the weekend, the bride needs Rachel to go from maid to bridesmaid in a flash. This gives Rachel a fantastic opportunity to sneak pictures of the event. What she didn’t count on was love at first sight. When she meets Mickey, there’s an instant attraction – but what if he learns her secret?

Sure, there are a whole lot of clichés and tropes in this novel… but it’s a Rom Com! And it will have you laughing out loud, let me tell you. You have a bridezilla with a temper; a tiny, very needy dog; a comedy of errors as Rachel’s luck flip flops all over the place. And, of course, you have the couple you want to root for so much you could burst.

I think what holds me back when I read romance is the suspension of disbelief. A lot of things happen by ‘coincidence’ which are a little too convoluted. And we have a lot of coincidences in this novel that made my eyes roll… until I started to really get into it and want Rachel and Mickey to end up together. After the climax of the novel, as we push for resolution, I found myself thinking of how perfect this ending was, how much I wanted every second. I realized that the author had fully managed to reel me in, despite my annoyances with Rom Coms! I closed the book thinking how brilliant of a movie this would be, with butterflies in my stomach and a craving for chocolate.

So. Fantastically. Sweet!

I think what sold me was Rachel. She’s so relatable and fun! I love her ethical dilemma, I love the classic makeover scene, I love watching her fall for Mickey. She’s a perfect stand in for the reader.

Oh, and did I mention this novel comes with its own soundtrack? You listen to the playlist at key moments and are sucked right in! So unique! The playlist itself is perfect even without the book, great songs to listen to on repeat.

So while I’m not a big fan of the genre, I’m still a huge fan of this book. Perfect feel-good weekend read!

Pick up your copy right here!

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American Goth

by Cyn Mackley 
Reviewed by SA

I’ve been excited to read this book for ages. I fell in love with the cover, and the idea of a good mystery in farmland with a goth protagonist was too sweet to just walk by. I have to say, I devoured this novel so quickly:it was everything I wanted to read. It was perfect!

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When her grandfather dies mysteriously, New York City artist and goth chick Trinity Goode heads back to her small Ohio hometown to take over the farm and figure out what really happened to the man who always accepted her just as she was. Trinity’s ready to lace up her Doc Marten boots to be a church lady and bake pies for the county fair, but is her hometown ready to welcome her back?

With some help from her old friend Deputy Bobby Grace, she tries to solve the mystery of her Grandfather’s death and track down just who has been hell-bent on ruining her reputation. What she finds out could get her killed.

You can take the girl out of the country, put red streaks in her hair, and dress her all in black, but you can’t take the country out of the girl. Pitchfork in hand, this American Goth is ready to find a killer, save the farm, win a blue ribbon for jam, and just maybe snag herself a good ole country boy.

If I were to summarize this book in one word, it would be delightful. All that comes from Trin: Trinity is a remarkable woman and one I’m dying to know in person. She’s smart, she’s creative, and so wholly relatable that for a while I really thought she would walk off the page. And I really wished she would: I would die for some of her cookies.

Her character is just so complex. You can’t boil her down to just one personality point: yes, she’s a goth, but she’s also a good catholic girl, she loves her family, and she’s an artist with so many different mediums. It’s not every day your strong female character is a brilliant quilter too, now is it? Heck yes, we need more crafter protagonists.

I had assumed the mystery would take up more of the plot, but really the story revolved around the growing relationship between Trin and Bobby, the local deputy. Their chemistry is palpable, and their relationship is just so healthy I couldn’t be happier for them to have found each other. Watching them support each other, especially when some harsh secrets are revealed, reminds you that sometimes a good love story is about more than just the infatuation.  So if you’re a fan of romance, then you’re going to fall head over heels for this true love story.

The mystery itself is a slow cooker with a remarkably rich ending. I never saw it coming! A huge twist near the end totally changed my deductions before yet another twist changed them again. Serves me right for jumping to conclusions! The author peppered the story with enough clues that could lead you to finding the solution yourself, while still making the reveal shocking and incredibly exciting.

The ending was just perfect, and I absolutely need more. I loved this novel. Grab yourself a copy of American Goth, a hot mug of cocoa, and enjoy!

Fair warning: all the talk of baking seriously made me miss owning an oven. I can’t tell you how many store bought cookies I needed to get me through this book!  It had my stomach growling!

My Best Everything

by Sarah Tomp

Reviewed by SA

Romance and moonshine make for a good novel. Sweet, smart, and positively gripping, I would describe My Best Everything as a teenage Breaking Bad, and it is just as addicting. It is also possibly the most believable YA romance I had read in… well, quite possibly ever.

Summary (From Goodreads)

Luisa “Lulu” Mendez has just finished her final year of high school in a small Virginia town, determined to move on and leave her job at the local junkyard behind. So when her father loses her college tuition money, Lulu needs a new ticket out.

Desperate for funds, she cooks up the (definitely illegal) plan to make and sell moonshine with her friends, Roni and Bucky. Quickly realizing they’re out of their depth, Lulu turns to Mason: a local boy who’s always seemed like a dead end. As Mason guides Lulu through the secret world of moonshine, it looks like her plan might actually work. But can she leave town before she loses everything – including her heart?

The summer walks the line between toxic and intoxicating. My Best Everything is Lulu’s letter to Mason – though is it an apology, a good-bye, or a love letter?

While primarily a romance, what I feel sets this novel apart is the fact that Lulu doesn’t make Mason her primary focus in life. Mason is not the usually ‘dreamy brooding teenager’ that you usually find in YA: he’s older than she is, a high school dropout, and struggling with alcoholism. She doesn’t drop everything when she meets him, her life doesn’t radically change: no, her relationship with Mason is something that grows naturally, and you feel the chemistry between them; it does not seem forced or unhealthy. The novel manages to be a romantic, without being a romance novel, making Mason important to Lulu’s growth.

And yet, this romance is not what defines Lulu: Lulu defines Lulu. There is just something fantastically appealing about driven characters. When I first picked up this book, I immediately felt Lulu’s drive, her determination to reach her goal, and it made her just so reachable. Lulu is a smart young woman, and this is her coming of age story, her experience with alcohol, men, and money. She was entirely relatable  – for me, a whole lot more than I would like to admit – and everything she did was with one goal in mind: raise the money for university.

The story itself is a letter to Mason, so he is always addressed in the second person, always referred to as “you,” “you did this” “you did that”. The letter format made the entire novel seem more honest and intimate, which only added to the list of reasons I could not put it down. It was an entirely realistic look into their lives, and I was hooked.

Not to forget the moonshine. Moonshine! Lulu’s adventures in distillery are fascinating to follow. Her friends too have an interesting dynamic, both with her and each other. Their problems are just as real as Lulu’s, and the reader is drawn into their lives as well. They break the stereotypes of small town, southern Americans. Though they do enjoy the occasional potato chips in ice cream.

I loved this book. I felt an instant connection to Lulu; I loved the moonshine; and I respected her relationships. It is a novel about love, betrayal, ambition, and the tough choices. Come for the moonshine, stay for the character development; you will be intoxicated.