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Friday, October 28, 2016

Musical Musings: If I Fix You

Musical Musings is a feature here on Bookish Lifestyle where I talk about music things! For more about this feature and past posts, click here.

I thought I knew what I was going to talk about today. I'd just watched a couple of covers by someone I've been watching for a while and decided SHE IS WHO I WILL DO MY NEXT MUSINGS POST ON.

...But then I read a book. And that book has a song all up in my head and it's all I can think about. Mostly because that BOOK is on my mind and won't get off it. So first I'll tell you about the book because that'll make the song make more sense.

The book is called If I Fix You, and it's by Abigail Johnson. Here's a little bit about it:

If I Fix You
Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
When sixteen-year-old Jill Whitaker’s mom walks out—with a sticky note as a goodbye—only Jill knows the real reason she’s gone. But how can she tell her father? Jill can hardly believe the truth herself.

Suddenly, the girl who likes to fix things—cars, relationships, romances, people—is all broken up. Used to be, her best friend, tall, blond and hot flirt Sean Addison, could make her smile in seconds. But not anymore. They don’t even talk.

With nothing making sense, Jill tries to pick up the pieces of her life. But when a new guy moves in next door, intense, seriously cute, but with scars—on the inside and out—that he thinks don’t show, Jill finds herself trying to make things better for Daniel. But over one long, hot Arizona summer, she realizes she can’t fix anyone’s life until she fixes her own. And she knows just where to start . . .

I'm on the blog tour (my post went up today, actually, so if you want to see my review and enter the giveaway for a finished copy of this book--which YOU WANT a finished copy of this book--then head on over to StuckInBooks to check that out)...anyway...I'm on the blog tour and I just read the book and I AM IN AWE. It was so freaking good. The kind of good that worms its way into your skull until it's all you can think about.

So yeah, it's all I can think about right now.

So the title has a song in my brain, plus it fits the story, PLUS it was mentioned in the acknowledgements so it's not even a double whammy right now, it's a TRIPLE so really there was never any chance that I'd have written this post about anything else. (Which means my NEXT Musings post will be about Kenzie Nimmo. Brace yourselves, friends.)

This post is about Fix You by Coldplay.

I've always loved this song, so it's not like this is something new due to an awesome book. But since I'm on that great book high that inevitable happens after reading a book that is a new favorite, I have all kinds of FEELINGS now. All I want to do is listen to this song on repeat and re-read If I Fix You and THINK. About all of the things.

Honestly, I love this feeling. It's why I love reading. I adore getting so taken by a story that I'm too stuck to do anything else. To think about anything else. It's amazing.

However, I don't feel like it makes for my best Musical Musings post. But this right here is part of why I wanted to do this feature in the first place. This isn't the first book that has gotten me hung up on a song for whatever reason and I want to talk about it. Even if it's just me relishing the content feeling of reading a book I've added to my all-time favorites list and sharing the song that I'm playing on repeat thanks to that.

Does that make sense? Have you ever had this feeling? I'd love if you'd tell me about it! And if you're a fan of YA contemporary, I highly recommend checking out If I Fix You. I'm not kidding when I say I added it to my all-time favorites list--it's seriously that wonderful.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Book Review: Safe at Last by Maya Banks

Safe at Last (Slow Burn, #3)

Adult, Romance, Paranormal
Publication.Date  June 23rd, 2015
Published By:  Avon
WebsiteMaya Banks

Safe at Last on Goodreads
My review copy:Bought 

Where to get:

The third book in the beloved #1 bestselling author’s sexy, romantic suspense Slow Burn series…

They say young love doesn’t last, but a girl from the wrong side of the tracks with unique abilities and the hometown golden boy were determined to defy the odds. For Zack Covington, Anna-Grace—his “Gracie”—was the one. Until one night forever alters the course of their future, when a devastated Gracie disappears without a trace, leaving Zack to agonize over what happened to the girl he loved. As the years pass, his desperate efforts to find her uncovered nothing.

Now working for Devereaux Security, he stumbles across a painting featuring a special place only he and Gracie would know. The image is too perfectly rendered for it to be coincidence. His Gracie must be alive. When he finally tracks her down, he is shocked—and heart-broken—to discover the wounded shell of the girl he once knew and still loves. Her psychic gifts are gone, and worse, she believes he betrayed her all those years ago.

Zack has enemies, and once his weakness is discovered, Gracie becomes a target for revenge. He’ll have to save her before he can earn her trust and her love. And he vows they’ll never be torn apart again.


"I could never hate you, Gracie," Zack said against her lips. "Never. I've always loved you. I always will."
"You're still my Gracie," he whispered. "You haven't changed a single bit from that beautiful girl I fell in love with so many years ago. That I still love. Will always love."

I'm a fan of Maya Banks. Her books are great brain candy, and I adore her Colters' Legacy series. I even loved the first two books in this series, Slow Burn. But unfortunately, I didn't like Safe at Last at all. Actually, I kind of hated it.

It stinks to say that after enjoying books 1 and 2 immensely, but Safe at Last wasn't up to par with them in the slightest for a few reasons:

- This book was so repetitive and the writing was weak. We got explanations for the same things multiple times. Like I don't need to hear the story of Zack losing his virginity to someone else more than once. It hurt enough to read the first time. But even beyond that (and my own jealousy), there were many things that were repeated unnecessarily and it got so daunting. Plus, the storytelling was flimsy. Things worked out because of *shrug* plot and there were inconsistencies because of *shrug* plot...except the plot wasn't strong enough to handle all that nonsense and it just made the writing seem weak.

- The romance was forced. This one is a huge bummer because the romance in Maya Banks' books is one of my favorite things, but it was lacking in this one. I think the divide between the main characters was just too big to really mend (for good reason) and when the author took the story in the direction she wanted it to go, the characters were forced on each other. Based on their backstory, they had potential---but with everything that happened in between then and the time of the story threw it all off kilter and it just did not work. At all.

- Zack had more chemistry with Eliza. This one got on my nerves. Often. When there was already such a huge struggle getting Zack and Gracie together, I didn't think making Eliza Zack's close best friend was a good idea. She seemed better for him than Gracie was and that was conflicting to me. I kind of wanted her to be the actual love interest, so the romance would start WORKING, but I also wanted her to go away because I didn't want to pay attention to her quite yet---which I say because her story comes in book 4.

- I was bored. This is the biggest issue. Every other problem I had could be gotten over if it weren't for the fact that I forced myself through this whole thing. Partly because I needed answers and partly because I desperately wanted things to get better. I wanted the romance to become less strained, I wanted the actual story to become compelling. Sadly, none of that happened and I was left so disappointed with this book.

Overall, I still love Maya Banks and will give book 4 in this series a try at some point, but Safe at Last itself was a huge disappointment. If you read this series, I recommend skipping this one since they all can stand alone just fine.

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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Indiscretion (Andalucían Nights #1) by Hannah Fielding {Book Review, Interview & Giveaway}



Hannah Fielding

Published by London Wall Publishing
August 4, 2016 Paperback $11.99

Written in Fielding’s signature style, infused with an old-school Hollywood glamour, Indiscretion evokes the drama and passion of 1950s post-war Spain.

1950’s London. Alexandra, a young writer is bored of her suffocating but privileged life amongst the gilded balls and parties of Chelsea. Keen for an adventure, Alexandra travels to Spain to be reunited with her estranged Spanish family on a huge estancia in Andalucía. 

Arriving in sun-drenched southern Spain for the first time, Alexandra is soon caught up in the wild customs of the region. From bull fighting matadors and the mysterious Gypsy encampments in the grounds of the family’s estate, to the passionate dances of the region and the incredible horsemanship of the local caballeros, Alexandra is instantly seduced by the drama and passion of her new home.  

When Alexandra inevitably falls for Salvador, the mercurial heir to her family’s estate and the region’s most eligible man, she finds herself entangled in a web of secrets, lies and indiscretion.  Alexandra soon falls prey to scheming members of her own family, the jealousy of a beautiful marquésa and the predatory charms of a toreador, all intent on keeping the two lovers apart.  

But nothing can prepare Alexandra for Salvador’s own dangerous liaisons with a dark-eyed Gypsy.

Can Alexandra trust that love will triumph, or will Salvador’s indiscretion be their undoing?

Praise for Hannah Fielding’s Award-Winning novel, Indiscretion…

‘A captivating tale of love, jealousy and scandal.’  The Lady
‘A compelling read, Fielding’s novel is entertaining, shocking, exciting and charming: the perfect way to indulge and distract yourself.’ Latino Life
Indiscretion grips from the first. A powerful and romantic story, one to savour and enjoy.’   Lindsay Townsend - romance author

Welcome to Bookish Lifestyle, Hannah! I'm so excited to have you here with us today! In your own brief words, how would you describe the stories you write and why should readers be interested?

I write evocative, epic, romantic fiction set in inspiring locations worldwide. Probably the best description of my style is this, from a British newspaper: “romance like Hollywood used to make.”

Readers of my books are transported into beautiful story worlds full of emotion and drama. From wherever they are reading, they visit the plains of Kenya (Burning Embers) or the Bridge of Sighs in Venice (The Echoes of Love) or a fiesta in Andalucía (Indiscretion, Masquerade and Legacy). My fiction is a little like a passport!

What is the hardest part of the writing process? Favorite part?

The hardest parts for me are the opening paragraph and the closing paragraph. The first must encourage the reader to continue his or her journey into the novel, to want to get to know the characters and their story; and the last must leave the reader with a feeling of contentment and maybe a tinge of melancholy because the voyage has come to an end and it is as if he or she is saying farewell to a friend.

For me, the easiest part is writing descriptively. My style is mainly descriptive because that is what my French education gave me and that is what I most like to read. I try to convey to the reader every detail my imagination is conjuring up, so I pay keen attention to the setting. I carefully describe sights and sounds and smells and tastes and textures. All the senses are involved so that the reader can form a clear picture of the environment in which the plot takes place and grasp a better understanding of the characters and their reactions. I am careful to use the right word and I am always looking for the nuance that will best describe what I am trying to say. This could be due to the rigorous language training of my French education. The nuns at my school, and later my teachers at university, were very strict about style.

Since childhood I’ve loved writers who really paint a scene in your mind, and I knew when I started writing romance that I wanted to transport my readers to the time and place in which I situate the story.

What do you do to recharge your batteries?

I read: I love reading romantic novels – the thicker the book, the better.

I cook: I love cooking, using the various produce from our vegetable garden. Jams, chutneys, stuffed vine leaves (dolmadis), stuffed savoury and sweet filo pastry cushions that I serve as nibbles when I entertain and stewed fruit for winter crumbles. All for the freezer. The list could go on for ever.

I entertain: I find nothing more satisfying than having friends over; and as I often travel, it’s great to catch up with all the news.

I travel: To research my books. I find it exciting and exhilarating. Discovering new places, new people, new traditions and new cuisines, of course.

I collect antiques: Chinese porcelain, Japanese sculptures and French and Italian glass, so you will often find me rummaging in flea markets and dark second-hand shops in the hope of discovering a hidden treasure.

What truly motivates you in general? In your writing?

Love – always love! Those beautiful moments in your life when your heart is just bursting; I seek them out, and I capture them on the pages of my books. 

What is your all-time favorite book? 

My debut novel, Burning Embers, because it is the embodiment of a lifelong dream.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

My husband and I answered this question long ago, and that is why we now divide our time between our homes in Kent in S.E. England, and Ste Maxime in S.W. France. We love both of these countries, but so many others too, which is why we travel often. This year, we have spent a lot of time in Ireland, for example, where I find the windswept vistas very inspirational.

What was the last book you bought?

I just pre-ordered Les Diners de Gala, which is a book that has been virtually impossible to buy for decades, and is now being republished in time for Christmas. It’s a cookbook created by the Surrealist artist Salvador Dalí and his wife, Gala. Not your average cookbook: the illustrations are literally works of art, and the recipes are not for the faint- hearted. Dare I try the frog pastries? The thousand-year-old eggs? Perhaps the toffee with pine cones is a safer option…

What writer has influenced you in your writing the most? 
My favourite writer of this century is Mary Margaret ‘Mollie’ Kaye, author of worldwide bestseller The Far Pavilions in the early 1980s. She has been an inspiration to me in my writing, because, like me, she was a traveller at heart and she wrote wonderfully descriptive stories set in exotic locations that really transport you to far-off lands. Her stories transport you to a time and a place as if you are there and then. If you have not read her books, I do recommend them: pure escapism… pure romance. See

Do you have any hidden or uncommon talents? 
When I was a little girl, I was torn between two dreams for the future: to be a writer, or to be a ballerina. I trained in ballet with my sister for many years, and we would put on little shows for family and friends. I gave up my ballerina dream long ago in favour of writing, and I don’t train any longer. But I am still capable of executing a fair number of pirouettes in a row.    

Indiscretion is a steamy, exciting romance novel. Alexandra, the main protagonist in this book writes romance novels yet she has never experienced it herself. That is until she meets her mysterious admirer in Spain. Alexandra was at many points a bit naive, even though she was in her mid-twenties. Especially when it came to real life problems. Her upbringing had been a bit sheltered so when she is set free for the first time in her life there are so many new things for her to learn. At times her naivety really got to me, but through out the book the character really grows into a beautiful and intelligent woman you come to really respect and admire. 

Salvador's life has been rocky these past couple of years. He had an accident that left him  immobilized for a while, his engagement got broken off and he got involved with the gypsies. So when he meets the innocent Alexandra the timing is completely off. He is not exactly the man she believes him to be. I was really intrigued by him and by his mood swings. There were so many things to learn about him. Their relationship had a lot of drama and obstacles. Most of it thanks to Salvador and his many secrets. Salvador was an extremely complex character which I really loved because the author did a great job at making you hate him and love him at the same exact time.

The level of descriptions in this book is amazing. The author did an astonishing job describing the customs at the masquerade ball, the bull fights and the different settings in Spain. Reading this book was a whole new experience because of all these descriptions that the author provides seamlessly. It was easy to imagine how life must have been in Spain around that time.

Overall I really enjoyed reading Indiscretion. It is a great historical fiction book filled with romance, tension and drama. I found a new author that I just fell in love with in her character depth and writing style and I have already read the next book in this series with glowing reviews. Pick this first book up if you want to experience this romance for yourself! 

About the author
Hannah Fielding is an award-winning romance author, who grew up in Alexandria, Egypt, the granddaughter of Esther Fanous, a revolutionary feminist and writer in Egypt during the early 1900s. After graduating she developed a passion for travel, living in Switzerland, France and England. After marrying her English husband, she had little time for writing while bringing up two children, looking after dogs and horses, and running her own business renovating rundown cottages. Hannah now divides her time between her homes in England and the South of France.
She has written four novels, all featuring exotic locations and vivid descriptions: Indiscretion and Masquerade (the first two titles in the Andalucían Nights Trilogy set in Spain); Burning Embers (set in Africa); and The Echoes of Love (set in Italy). Hannah’s books have won many awards, including Gold Medal for romance at the Independent Publisher Book Awards and Silver Medal for romance at the Foreword Reviews IndieFab Book Awards (The Echoes of Love), and Gold and Silver Medals for romance at the IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards (Indiscretion and Masquerade). Indiscretion has also won Best Romance at the USA Best Book Awards.

A copy of Indiscretion and Masquerade (Books 1 & 2 in Andalucian Nights) and "Echoes of Love" by Hannah Fielding to one lucky winner. 

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