Title: With Crayons and Love
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Tessa O’Brien is a twenty-three year old woman with a dark past. Her only experience with love took a dark turn for the worst, and she has not yet fully recovered from the literal blows of her experience. Determined to rebuild her self-esteem and her life, Tessa builds a safe, spontaneous home around her work as a pottery artist and newspaper journalist.
That is, of course, until her family entrusts her with the care of her fostered five year old cousin Stella, who is very much obsessed with crayons. And as if that isn’t enough of a shock to her well-structured system, the handsome and devilishly charming artist who moves into her apartment building sets her in his sights, with much more than just crayons in mind.
It seems everything is finally starting to fall into place in Tessa’s life, until the darkness of her past comes to haunt her once again, and threatens everything she has come to love. Luckily one man has vowed to protect the redheaded beauty, with whatever means necessary. Now, if only she’d let him…
With Crayons and Love was a book that I was not really expecting to hold as much substance as it did. In the description it alludes to a previous love that Tessa O’Brien had barely survived.
While reading, I found myself captivated by the strength Tessa has. Not only is her five year old cousin sprung on her at the last minute, but her life is completely changed by her new neighbor. It sounds a bit cheesy, and I’ll admit, some parts live up to this image, but this story still holds a quality that is unique and draws you in. I believe that some of this captivation is due to the familial bonds formed not only between Tessa and her cousin, but also the family that clearly has been Tessa’s biggest foundation after the life altering ordeal she had gone through.
Every choice, that Tessa has made was based off of her inner demons and the fear of history repeating itself. Everything that happens in this story is real and genuine emotions can be felt behind all the words the author has penned. I could visualize every scenario, and to me, that is why I enjoyed this book so much.
Of course, there are some things that I would have liked to be a bit different. I don’t think you can read a book and not think up your own twists to apply to different situations. These details that I may have changed, like small mannerisms the characters sometimes displayed, never really took away from the story in the ways that truly mattered.
First Aired: June 23, 2011
Genre: Comedy, Drama
On the run from a drug deal gone bad, Mike Ross, a brilliant college-dropout, finds himself a job working with Harvey Specter, one of New York City’s best lawyers.
Suits is a series that our whole family binge-watched through all seven seasons on MuviBox. This show peaked each of our interests and held on to it! The concept for this series was unique and the complicated characters portrayed through quality acting helped launch this drama and sustain its success.
I like smart TV. I’m not usually a fan of overly stupid humor and cheese. The characters on Suits are believable and while the situations may be a bit dramatic at times, the overall feel remains believable and I care about what happens in these characters’ lives. Each personality displays intelligence, wit, sarcasm, sensitivity (or not), but most importantly they all feel like they could be real people with real struggles. There are times when I have wanted to slap more than one person on this show, but the writers have so far been good at creating scenarios where the actors can invoke strong emotions and still work through the situations in their lives. Louis Litt’s words and actions have dropped my jaw on numerous occasions. There have been multiple moments when I hated him so much and didn’t believe he could redeem himself, EVER! Despite my incidental revulsion with Louis, I continue to find myself coming around and accepting him to gain a greater understanding of his character, and as of the end of Season 7, he is one of my favorites!
As much as I really liked Megan Markle’s portrayal of Rachel Zane, there were times she too frustrated me. Mostly during the streak while Mike was in jail. I thought Rachel uncharacteristically lost her common sense. Sometimes her comments and actions were just immature and ridiculous! Other times, she lived up to her reputation and stood up like the smart, professional, bad-ass that she really was.
The relationship between Mike Ross and Rachel Zane started as a slow build and the show’s creators developed it and maintained a natural feel throughout the seasons. The duo have been essential and fundamental to the show’s story line since its inception. I will not hide my surprise and skepticism of losing these two pillar characters in the upcoming Season 8. With all of the recent royalty hype surrounding Megan Markle, I am actually glad she is choosing to put her personal life ahead of her professional one, even though I will miss the ever sweet and sassy Rachel Zane. My initial thought of losing Mike Ross on the show made me think it will never make it. Actually though, if there is no Rachel, then I am relieved not to have to watch Mike attempt to function without her. I think the producers are smart to take the show in a new direction. The addition of Katheryn Heigl will hopefully bring a fresh feel and comfort us in our loss of the power couple Mike and Rachel. After watching all previous seasons of Suits, I have seriously fallen in love with the drama in the lives of the rest of the regular cast of Harvey, Donna and Louis. It will be interesting to see how Katheryn Heigl’s character is interwoven into this strong group of professionals with such a rich history.
Title: The Retribution of Mara Dyer
Author: Michelle Hodkin
Series: Book Three
Release Date: November 4th, 2014
Genre: Young Adult Fiction
Mara Dyer wants to believe there’s more to the lies she’s been told.
She doesn’t stop to think about where her quest for the truth might lead.
She never had to imagine how far she would go for vengeance.
She will now.
Loyalties are betrayed, guilt and innocence tangle, and fate and chance collide in this shocking conclusion to Mara Dyer’s story.
Retribution has arrived.
The final book to the Mara Dyer Series. The growth these characters have undergone throughout the series is attributed to the deceit and secrets kept from them. With constant threats, Mara and Noah create a bond that once was believed to be their saving grace, but now is considered to be one of the biggest threats they will have to confront.
In this book, we read about a different side of Mara, one that had been slowly adapting and lurking behind every bend in the beginning two books. This side of Mara is different and makes Michelle Hodkin’s story more unique and original. It is refreshing to see a bad and vengeful side come out of the main protagonist, as it goes against a wide stream of books that are out there on the market. Although, even I will concede that this rash and headfirst side of Mara is sometimes annoying and selfish (not like the girl we had previously met)
Even though the connection I felt with Mara dwindled during this book, the connections I adapted with some of the other characters were heightened. Jamie, Noah, and Daniel are able to hold more of the spotlight and control the story as their actions are just as important as Mara’s. These characters provided nice breaks from the rampage Mara was evoking on those that did her wrong.
Out of the trilogy, The Retribution of Mara Dyer is my least favorite. It’s not because it took the focus off of Mara, but because the tone of the series shifted including a major change in character development for everyone. A quality and feel in is lost in this last book that I had found so compelling in the first two books.
Title: The Bite
Series: Book 1 of 3
Genre: Paranormal, Young Adult, Romance
Charlotte is on the run from an abusive past to start a new life, turn a new page and begin again. Little does she know that the new life she is about to start, is one that is only supposed to exist only in fairy tales.
What was a minor decision put her in the wrong place at the wrong time; a decision that will be burned into her memory, a decision that forced her to fight for her life, a decision that will turn her into a thing of fairy tales- and it only took one bite.
The Bite’s story line is entertaining and there were moments that kept me on the edge of my seat, but I felt that not all parts of the book equally propelled along the drama of this fantasy. During the first half of the book, I found myself feeling impatient, waiting for something to happen. The “filler” scenes seemed to take up too many pages. Normally I like ‘filler’, but while reviewing the book’s proliferation from start to finish, I just felt that there was an imbalance. Through the first half of The Bite, ZeroWineThirty narrated what felt like an excess of descriptive “filler” rather than eventful story substance. Fortunately, the second half of the book actively progressed with memorable experiences and critical developments. After the book’s mid-point, the events and character involvement sustained applicable action and therefore held my interest, many times it more than just held it…I was captivated with the unfolding adventure.
While, I believe this author lacked a bit in maintaining consistent movement, I think she more than made up for that in her ability to contrive complex characters. As a reader, I fully enjoyed being able to understand and relate with all of these characters. The spirit and general nature of each personality is evident through dialogue and interaction throughout the entire book. The author is precise in delivering us rich characters, true to their core and consistent from introduction all the way to the cliff hanger ending of book one.
I believe providing a cast list is a risk for any author to take. Do you share with your readers your personal visualization of each character’s doppelganger and risk any alterations to your beloved family of characters? Or do you trust in your ability to convey strong distinction of each characters’ heritage? ZeroWineThirty is gifted when introducing and writing her characters, both physically and emotionally. I think she should trust in her talented ability to conceptualize and present her fantasy’s unique personality list. Each person has a well defined back story (which was revealed naturally, by the way) and everyone’s actions are true and believable according to each individual’s perceived personality. Although I was not always a fan of the cast list she chose, I acknowledge it can be fun to picture some of those famous actors portraying main characters. I just think it was unnecessary for the thorough depiction of The Bite’s Characters.
I have yet to decide if I will read the subsequent books in this series. As an obvious fan of ZeroWineThirty’s character writing and overall story telling, I will admit I am curious about what happens next and am starting to miss the family of characters in The Bite! I will review them as I read them…
Title: Burning Shadows
Author: Jennifer Anne Davis
Series: Order of the Krigers (Book 2)
Release Date: October 15, 2016
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
The Order of the Krigers has risen.
Determined to destroy the Order, the vicious king, Morlet, scours the land searching for the twelve chosen ones. He burns entire villages hoping to crush the Krigers.
He has other plans for Kaia.
In order to end the curse, Kaia must conceive a child before the Krigers can kill Morlet. However, Kaia doesn’t know if the father is supposed to be her fiancé, Vidar, or his brother, the evil king. Determined to find the answer, she sets off to the other side of the mountains with Anders. Stifling her growing feelings for the assassin, Kaia unearths secrets that force her to reevaluate her cause. Can she sacrifice so much of herself to save the kingdom of Nelebek? Can she kill Morlet when she is starting to understand and even sympathize with him? And is there really any choice at all, especially when it comes to matters of the heart?
With newfound power, Kaia’s heart and mind are entwined with the realization that choices come with a price, passion can rival hatred, and an evil looms on the horizon, more sinister than she ever imagined.
Burning Shadows, provides us with backstories of many characters and interesting pieces of history from the kingdom of Nelebek. At the end of book one, the stage is set with a daunting future for Kaia and the Krigers. By intentionally releasing tidbits of the past, Burning Shadows focuses on solidifying each character’s personality. There is a continuous build-up of tension in each scene, no matter who is featured at that particular time, ever straining towards the inevitable fight against Mortlet to save the kingdom.
Throughout this book, all 12 Krigers intently focus on training daily together. Guided by Vidar and Anders, the Krigers learn how to fight together and support each other. Friendships and bonds are forged between them, including Kaia, the only girl and the last to join them.
Despite being just 16, Kaia has unbelievable insight. She exhudes a maturity that keeps driving her forward towards the end goal, to free the people of Nelebek. Kaia is more often than not, the one who comes up with ideas especially while working with the other Krigers. Although Kaia is the lone female and the youngest of the 12, the other Krigers look to her for insight. I believe it is because she is so central to the curse, her journey is unique and they each seem to respect that. Together the Krigers experience a lot of trial and error in their attempts to link and wield the Heks power bestowed to them. The Krigers must discover each fighter’s part in the curse and how to reach the end goal to defeat Mortlet. Kaia is quite instinctual and she relies on her intuition, despite opposing opinions. She genuinely has a good heart and throughout this book it becomes more evident just how contrasting her personality is from those around her…Mortlet in particular. He is cruel and disregards life, while Kaia is sensitive to each individual. Kaia constantly struggles to hold true to her philosophy of valuing each innocent life.
Kaia is determined to improve her fighting skills and bolster her mental understanding and emotional grasp of the unique roll she is forced to endure under this curse. She constantly contemplates her conflicting feelings of disgust and pity while skeptically trusting the erratic kindness from Mortlet. Her emotions are endlessly churning in an internal war with her consciousness to fulfill her father’s dying wish in her engagement to Vidar; a position that would inevitably lead to her being queen. She battles with how to discount her growing feelings towards Anders to be able to fulfill her family’s part of the curse and have a child with one of the royal brothers! All of these consuming burdens relentlessly weigh on Kaia, who keeps much of her inner turmoil to herself.
Book two is really a necessary bridge from book one to book three. Apart from the introduction of new Heks and Heks magic into Nelebek, most of book two concentrates on developing Kaia’s self-awareness and her understanding of the people and situations central to freeing Nelebek. I love these characters and as always, Jennifer Anne Davis does an amazing job of telling their story.
So Audrey and I have been on a rather lengthy hiatus from Casual Narrative. I apologize for our missing blog posts. Not only did our family move houses, but my husband and I with some of our best friends got a crazy idea to start a gourmet popcorn business! Yikes! It’s been A LOT of work! Starting a business takes a ton of time and research and effort and energy and money and I don’t see this changing anytime soon. I am so excited about our new business and all of the possibilities we are looking towards for the future.
Despite being crazy busy, (and this weekend, me being sick…grrrrr…) Audrey and I are still avid readers. We fully intend on getting back in the swing of things with reviews on Casual Narrative. Over this past year, I have personally re-discovered my love of writing. For now, I will continue to use this blog on Casual Narrative as my writing outlet… In the future…I would love to start sharing the stories of the characters I have been writing in my head for years… But for now, I will be happily reading and reviewing books, TV and movies and popping lots of popcorn! Okay, side note – so far, I think my personal favorite is Cinnamon Caramel Apple Pie Popcorn. After we get our start-up business really going, I will certainly post a link on this site for anyone interested in our yummy treats.
Today I wish everyone Happy Easter-Monday! Next post will be Thursday, April 5th! Thank you to all of our faithful readers and subscribers! I love that there are people who care to hear our opinions and read our posts. Thank you for following us!
For the past couple of weeks, we have been moving houses. Yikes! We are all so tired of moving! Fortunately, this time we are only moving 25 minutes away from the last house, not 15 hours! I’m just going to say, it all sucks though. I thought we had purged stuff when we moved to Colorado from North Dakota, but I now realize, not nearly enough! After going through all of our….stuff…and having to physically pick up and move said stuff, we have committed ourselves to having a garage sale this spring, intending to sell some of this…stuff. I am refraining from using a certain four letter word in this post that verbally I have been using to describe all of our crap, junk…stuff! The TV is hooked up again, maybe I should catch an episode of Hoarders so I can feel a little less shameful of the treasures I thought were so important to keep. Lately, any free time we find to watch a little TV has been designated to our American Olympians. I really do love the Olympics! It’s a relief that most of our weekly “Current Crusades” are on hiatus so the DVR can be set to record these athletic competitions.
I apologize for no posts this past week. I am hoping since we are getting our electronics set up again and starting to get our stuff put away in our new home, we can get back to reviews and regular Monday and Thursday posts. Also need to get back to actually reading again, especially The Count of Monte Cristo! We are really going to have to push ourselves to get through that one in the next couple of weeks!
If you actually read our posts and enjoy our reviews and opinions, I thank you! We really appreciate it when other readers find us worth coming back to and following us. Thanks for being patient with us on our journey of learning how to blog and again now while our lives are changing and enduring this move. Have a great weekend!