1.16.2018

Book Blitz: On The Edge by Dani Collins


On the Edge by Dani Collins
(Blue Spruce Lodge, #1)
Published by: Tule Publishing
Publication date: January 16, 2018
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
When Glory Cormer’s father introduces her to ‘their’ new business partner, she’s appalled. Viking-like Rolf Johansson exudes the same alpha-intimidation that jocks used to torment her through high school. After nursing her mother the last several years, she’s trying to break out of her shell and secretly pursue a writing career, but Rolf insists she go through with the rotten deal her father struck with his brother to renovate an old chalet.
Rolf envisions this mountain as a world-class resort for elite athletes and other jet setters. As a downhill champion and owner of a world-renowned sports equipment empire, he knows what it takes to get what he wants. Nothing will stop him, especially not a hotheaded wallflower who turns the ice in his veins to lava.
Bonus Story! This book contains Glory’s novella Blessed Winter, a no-room-at-the-inn Christmas romance.
EXCERPT:
“I’m saying I don’t know how to deal with it. I’m not a sensitive man. I don’t want to hurt you again.” His fingers crept all the way around her upper arm, thumb stroking her skin as he gently clasped her in his warm grip.
“So don’t,” she suggested with a flash of irritation.
“Okay.” How did he make one word sound so dangerous? Like a dare. “You tell me what hurts more. Resisting or giving in?”
And now she was falling into an eclipse, staring into eyes that were golden and black at the same time, pulling her right out of herself and twisting her around so her body was in a sensual agony, tied up and yearning.
“Should we see?” he murmured, hands touching her with light sorcery, caressing her arm, caressing her throat, tilting up her chin.
She shouldn’t be this stupid, but she did hurt. All the time. With want…
His head lowered, slanted. His mouth hovered so she could feel the magnetic buzz of ions bouncing between their lips. When he nudged, made that first contact, her mouth stung, so hot and sensitized with anticipation she gasped.
He settled his lips over hers, hot and thorough. Confident. He kissed her in a way she had never been kissed before. This man held himself back with monumental discipline, she realized, because when he went for something, he went for it, and he was a force to be reckoned with. He claimed her with irresistible precision, mouth pressing hers open so the connection went from sweet suggestion to overwhelming passion in a single heartbeat.
She opened her mouth and let him in. Kissed him back with more offering than skill, not even hesitating. Compelled. If he was screwing with her—
Whatever she had consciously been thinking sizzled into nothing. She forgot how to form thoughts. All she knew was the feel of his lips against hers, smooth and firm, pulling just enough to make her follow him, then pressing to keep her sealed inside their world.
His hand slid through her hair to cup the back of her skull. His other arm went around her, broad hand slipping beneath her loose shirt to sit against the skin of her lower back, leaving a starfish of heat imprinted there. A shudder went through her, all of her muscles checking out and giving her body over to his strength. All she could do was lift her arms and cling around his neck, plastering herself to him while they devoured each other. Tongues came into play. His. Hers. She moaned, loving the swirling textures. Reveling in their blatant consumption of each other.
He was hard. She felt him against her abdomen and pulses of reaction hit her loins, making her want to grind against him. She wanted to do it already. Now.
As she realized how caught up she was, she yanked back, gasping.
He let her put some space between them, but kept his arm around her. His cheekbones were flushed above his beard, his eyes like liquid gold.
She hadn’t minded that beard, she realized, and wanted to stroke it with her fingers. She touched instead where the soft hairs had scraped against her chin, wondering how that rough-soft abrasion would feel against her stomach. Her thighs.
Her body reacted with a rush of heat and another pulse. She was very aware of the bed right there, while his eyes were halos of light around pupils the size of the moon.
“And that,” he said, accent thick. “Is why it is my business who spends time in this room.”


Author Bio:
Award-winning, USA Today Bestselling author Dani Collins thrives on giving readers emotional, compelling, heart-soaring romance with laughter and heat thrown in, just like real life. Mostly she writes contemporary romance for Harlequin Presents and Tule’s Montana Born, but her backlist of forty books also includes self-published erotic romance, romantic comedy, and even an epic medieval fantasy. When she’s not writing—just kidding, she’s always writing. She lives in Christina Lake, BC, Canada with her husband of thirty years who occasionally coaxes her out of her attic office to visit their grown children.

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1.11.2018

Review: Love & Other Train Wrecks by Leah Konen

Love & Other Train Wrecks by Leah Konen
Published: January 2, 2018
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Format: via Edelweiss
Rating: 3/5

Synopsis

A twenty-four-hour romance about two teens who meet—and perhaps change their minds about love—on a train ride to Upstate New York in the middle of a snowstorm

One train ride. Two strangers.

Noah is a hopeless romantic. He’s heading back home for one last chance with his first love, whom he broke up with when he went off to college.

Ammy doesn’t believe in true love—her parents being prime examples. She’s escaping from a mom who can’t take care of her to a dad who may not even want her. That is, until one winter night when Noah and Ammy find themselves in the same Amtrak car heading to Upstate New York.

After a train-wreck first encounter between the two of them, the Amtrak train suddenly breaks down due to a snowstorm. Desperate to make it to their destinations, Noah and Ammy have no other option but to travel together. What starts off as a minor detour turns into the whirlwind journey of a lifetime, and over the course of the night, they fall in love. But come morning their adventure takes an unexpected turn for the worst. Can one night can really change how they feel about love...and the course of their lives forever?

My Thoughts
Love and Other Train Wrecks is about two strangers who meet by chance on a train while both are trying to get to other people. Ammy is trying to make it to her father’s commitment ceremony after he left Ammy’s mom for a yoga instructor. Noah is trying to make it to his ex-girlfriend in hopes of winning her back.

After hours of things going wrong, Ammy and Noah decide to leave the train in hopes of making it to their destinations by other means. They slowly get to know each other and well not by surprise they, of course, start to like each other. Noah was the first to fall since Ammy has issues of letting her feeling go. She definitely has walls around her and is less likely to just let go and follow her heart, especially after a secret is revealed and definitely changes what might be a great relationship.

I did like this read even though I had my issues with Ammy. I get that she has trust issues but I just wanted her to live it up a little and just enjoy things for once. Not everything has to mean something sometimes its just fun to live in the moment, plus I honestly just found her a little annoying at times. This was a quick and easy YA read and one that was a middle of the road read for me.

1.10.2018

Exclusive Excerpt: Broken Beautiful Hearts by Kami Garcia

    From the #1 New York Times bestselling coauthor of BEAUTIFUL CREATURES, comes BROKEN BEAUTIFUL HEARTS—a red-hot romance that will break your heart and put it back together again! Don’t miss this stunning new title from Kami Garcia!

BROKEN BEAUTIFUL HEARTS releases on February 6, 2018. Pre-order your copy today!

   BROKEN BEAUTIFUL HEARTS Synopsis:

From #1 New York Times–bestselling author Kami Garcia comes a red-hot romance that will break your heart and put it back together again.

Her heart has to break before it can open.

When star soccer player Peyton Rios receives an offer from her first-choice college, senior year starts off exactly as planned. But when Peyton uncovers her boyfriend’s dark secret, she confronts him—and finds herself falling down a flight of stairs. Peyton’s knee—and maybe her dream of going pro—is shattered. Everyone is talking: Was she pushed, or did she fall? Peyton knows the truth, even if no one believes her.

He has to let someone in before it’s too late.

With her future on the line, Peyton goes to stay with her uncle in a small Tennessee town to focus on her recovery. Dating is the last thing on her mind—until she meets sweet, sexy Owen Law.

But Peyton doesn’t trust her heart, especially when she senses that Owen is hiding something. When their secrets are finally exposed, Peyton has to decide if love is worth fighting for.

   

Preorder BROKEN BEAUTIFUL HEARTS here!

  EXCERPT: 
“Ever feel like you’re screwed no matter what you do?” Owen’s question comes out of nowhere. All the time. Part of me wants to say it out loud. “Once in a while.” “Any advice?” He gives me a half smile. I don’t know this guy, but he seems nice—and unhappy. I can relate. He’s waiting for me to respond. I shrug. “Sometimes life only gives you two options. Bad or worse. So you go with bad.” “Makes sense.” He studies me like he’s taking inventory, checking off boxes on a mental list. The competitor in me wonders how I’m scoring. What if I’m giving him advice about his girlfriend, possibly a delightful friend of April’s? The faint sound of laughter from the party floats through the air. “Why did you come to Black Water?” Owen asks. “I’m guessing it wasn't for the social scene.” I tap on my brace. “I tore my PCL, the ligament that runs behind my knee. My doctor said I’ll need a lot of physical therapy to get my knee back in shape, and I only have four months to do it.” “What happens in four months?” “I’m a soccer player. I need to get back on the field in March, when the season starts.” “What if you need more time to recover?” It sounds like he actually cares about the answer. “If I work hard enough, it will heal by then.” I hope. Losing my spot at UNC isn’t an option. I practiced soccer drills with Dad every day after school and on weekends—and it paid off. I’m not letting Reed destroy my dreams. “Don’t they have physical therapists where you’re from?” he asks. “In Washington, DC? Sure.” “You left Washington, DC, to come here? Why?” Owen is smart and nosy. Not the best combination when I’m trying to keep certain parts of my life private. But he does have an amazing smile. “Why not?” I counter. “How about because Washington, DC, is a major city with museums and concerts and the subway, and Black Water is . . . Black Water.” “In DC, we call it the Metro, not the subway.” He smiles at me again. “In Black Water we don’t call it anything, because we don’t have one.” “That’s the point. There are no distractions here.” “How did you hurt your knee?” I didn’t. “I fell down a flight of stairs.” It’s the truth, but for some reason leaving out the details makes me feel like I’m trapped in a room that’s too small and could get smaller any minute. “I’m a klutz when I’m not on the soccer field.” “That sucks. I’m sorry.” Owen looks me in the eye and says it, like he really means it. “It could be worse.” But with my scholarship hanging in the balance, it doesn’t feel that way. “It still sucks.” Why am I letting Owen ask me so many questions? I’ve known him for fifteen minutes. The incident with Reed taught me how easy it is to misjudge someone. I thought he was the kind of athlete who would never resort to doping and cheating. I’ve always relied on my gut instincts about people—the little voice in the back of my head. But I don’t trust it anymore. Owen cocks his head to the side and grins. “So do you still want to know if I have a girlfriend?” Heat crawls up the back of my neck. “I never asked you that.” “When I got off the phone, you asked if I was fighting with my girlfriend.” “I was making conversation, not fishing.” Okay, I sort of was. “I’m not hunting for a boyfriend if that’s what you think.” “Your cousins made that pretty clear.” I’m going to strangle those two. “What did they say?” So I know how much salt to dump in their breakfast tomorrow. Owen leans back against the bales. “I saw them coming out of the locker room after the game and I mentioned that we met, and they said you don’t date.” The Twins are dead. They made it sound like I’m joining a convent after graduation. The heat spreads from my neck to my cheeks. I should ditch Owen and go back to the party before this conversation gets more embarrassing. But I want to stay. The last three weeks have been full of lies and accusations, surgery and doctors’ appointments, threats and depressing calls from an ex who won’t stop calling me and a best friend who never wants to speak to me again. My conversation with Owen makes me feel normal. It’s one of the few I’ve had in weeks that didn’t revolve around my injury or Reed. I want it to last a little longer. I also don’t want Owen thinking I’m convent-bound. “For the record, I do date. I’m just not interested in dating right now. There’s a difference.” Owen holds up his hands in surrender. “I’m just telling you what I heard. Is that the reason you’re back here instead of hanging out at the party?” “No. I’m just antisocial.” His eyes flicker to my mouth. “I don’t believe that.” I pull my hair back in a ponytail and secure it with the elastic around my wrist. Anything to keep from making eye contact with him. “You don’t even know me.” Owen leans forward and rests his elbows on his knees. His arm grazes mine and he looks over at me. “Not yet.”    

Add it to your Goodreads Now!

   Something wonderful happened to me as I read this—I fell in love. Genuine, shattering, deep, heart-pounding love. Thank you, Kami Garcia, for Peyton and Owen. We need their story." —Jennifer Niven, New York Times bestselling author of All the Bright Places and Holding Up the Universe
About Kami Garcia: 
Kami Garcia is the #1 New York Times, USA Today & international bestselling coauthor of the Beautiful Creatures and Dangerous Creatures novels. BEAUTIFUL CREATURES has been published in 50 countries and translated in 39 languages, and the film Beautiful Creatures released in theaters in 2013, from Warner Brothers. Kami’s solo series, The Legion, includes the instant New York Times bestseller UNBREAKABLE, and the sequel UNMARKED, both of which were nominated for Bram Stoker Awards. Her other works include THE X-FILES ORIGINS: AGENT OF CHAOS and the YA contemporary novels THE LOVELY RECKLESS and the forthcoming BROKEN BEAUTIFUL HEARTS (February 2018). Kami was a teacher for seventeen years before co-authoring her first novel on a dare from seven of her students. If she isn’t busy watching Supernatural, Kami can teach you how to escape from a pair of handcuffs or bake a Coca-Cola cake. She lives in Maryland with her family, and their dogs Spike and Oz (named after characters from Buffy the Vampire Slayer). Visit Kami at www.KamiGarcia.com.    

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1.09.2018

Review: Just Between Us by Rebecca Drake

Just Between Us by Rebecca Drake
Published: January 9, 2018
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Format: via publisher
Rating: 3/5

About JUST BETWEEN US
Four suburban mothers conspire to cover up a deadly crime in Just Between Us, a heart-stopping novel of suspense by Rebecca Drake.
Alison, Julie, Sarah, Heather. Four friends living the suburban ideal. Their jobs are steady, their kids are healthy. They’re as beautiful as their houses. But each of them has a dirty little secret, and hidden behind the veneer of their perfect lives is a crime and a mystery that will consume them all.
Everything starts to unravel when Alison spots a nasty bruise on Heather’s wrist. She shares her suspicions with Julie and Sarah, compelling all three to investigate what looks like an increasingly violent marriage. As mysterious injuries and erratic behavior mount, Heather can no longer deny the abuse, but she refuses to leave her husband. Desperate to save her, Alison and the others dread the phone call telling them that she’s been killed. But when that call finally comes, it’s not Heather who’s dead. In a moment they’ll come to regret, the women must decide what lengths they’ll go to in order to help a friend.
Just Between Us is a thrilling glimpse into the underbelly of suburbia, where not all neighbors can be trusted, and even the closest friends keep dangerous secrets. You never really know what goes on in another person’s mind, or in their marriage.

About the Author
Rebecca Drake is the author of the novels Don’t Be Afraid, The Next Killing, The Dead Place, which was an IMBA bestseller, and Only Ever You, as well as the short story “Loaded,” which was featured in Pittsburgh Noir. A graduate of Penn State University and former journalist, she is currently an instructor in Seton Hill University’s Writing Popular Fiction M.F.A. program. Rebecca lives in Pittsburgh, PA, with her husband and two children.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AuthorRDrake

My Thoughts
I was really intrigued when I read the synopsis but I also felt like I’ve heard this tale before but I was really curious and decided to give this read a chance. Let me start off by saying I really did want to like this read and in a way I did but there were some points of this novel that I just couldn’t buy into.

This is the tale of four friends who thinks one of them is being abused by their husband and as friends are they are extremely concerned and are protective of their friend. Everything comes to a halt with one late night phone call and their friendship is truly tested. Now, this is where my problems with this read went wrong. First of all, the things they did to help out their friend is way beyond anything I could ever do. Call me crazy but I wouldn’t put my family and life on the line and do all the things they did to help her out…sorry, no way. I found some parts far-fetched and kind of campy, but maybe that was just me. Secondly, I had a hard time distinguishing all the women in the beginning. It’s not like there were a ton of women it's like four but for some reason, there was never enough established in the beginning for me to make me remember who was who.

Though I did have a few problems with this read, there were some good parts. I could appreciate the concept and felt the secrets were good. I was really in the middle with this one. I felt that the storyline had so much more potential and just fell a little short for me. All in all, it was an okay read.

1.08.2018

Early Excerpt: Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton

I'm so excited to share an early excerpt of Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton. All details are below and please be sure to check it out when its released on February 6, 2018
Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton
Expected Publication: February 6, 2018
Publisher: Berkley/Penguin

Synopsis
After the death of her beloved grandmother, a Cuban-American woman travels to Havana, where she discovers the roots of her identity--and unearths a family secret hidden since the revolution...

Havana, 1958. The daughter of a sugar baron, nineteen-year-old Elisa Perez is part of Cuba's high society, where she is largely sheltered from the country's growing political unrest--until she embarks on a clandestine affair with a passionate revolutionary...

Miami, 2017. Freelance writer Marisol Ferrera grew up hearing romantic stories of Cuba from her late grandmother Elisa, who was forced to flee with her family during the revolution. Elisa's last wish was for Marisol to scatter her ashes in the country of her birth. 

Arriving in Havana, Marisol comes face-to-face with the contrast of Cuba's tropical, timeless beauty and its perilous political climate. When more family history comes to light and Marisol finds herself attracted to a man with secrets of his own, she'll need the lessons of her grandmother's past to help her understand the true meaning of courage.

Early Excerpt
Chapter One
Elisa
Havana, 1959
“How long will we be gone?” my sister Maria asks.
“Awhile,” I answer.
“Two months? Six months? A year? Two?”
“Quiet.” I nudge her forward, my gaze darting around the departure area of Rancho-Boyeros Airport to see if anyone has overheard her question.
We stand in a row, the famous—or infamous, depending on who you ask—Perez sisters. Isabel leads the way, the eldest of the group. She doesn’t speak, her gaze trained on her fiancé, Alberto. His face is pale as he watches us, as we march out of the city we once brought to its knees.
Beatriz is next. When she walks, the hem of her finest dress swinging against her calves, the pale blue fabric adorned with lace, it’s as though the entire airport holds its collective breath. She’s the beauty in the family and she knows it.
I trail behind her, the knees beneath my skirts quivering, each step a weighty effort.
And then there’s Maria, the last of the sugar queens.
At thirteen, Maria’s too young to understand the need to keep her voice low, is able to disregard the soldiers standing in green uniforms, guns slung over their shoulders and perched in their eager hands. She knows the danger those uniforms bring, but not as well as the rest of us do. We haven’t been able to remove the grief that has swept our family in its unrelenting curl, but we’ve done our best to shield her from the barbarity we’ve endured. She hasn’t heard the cries of the prisoners held in cages like animals in La Cabaña, the prison now run by that Argentine monster. She hasn’t watched Cuban blood spill on the ground.
But our father has.
He turns and silences her with a look, one he rarely employs yet is supremely effective. For most of our lives, he’s left the care of his daughters to our mother and our nanny, Magda, too busy running his sugar company and playing politics. But these are extraordinary times, the stakes higher than any we’ve ever faced. There is nothing Fidel would love more than to make an example of Emilio Perez and his family—the quintessential image of everything his revolution seeks to destroy. We’re not the wealthiest family in Cuba, or the most powerful one, but the close relationship between my father and Batista is impossible to ignore. Even the careless words of a thirteen-year-old girl can prove deadly in this climate.
Maria falls silent.
Our mother walks beside our father, her head held high. She insisted we wear our finest dresses today, hats, and gloves, brushed our hair until it gleamed. It wouldn’t do for her daughters to look anything but their best, even in exile.
Defiant in defeat.
We might not have fought in the mountains, haven’t held weapons in our glove-covered hands, but there is a battle in all of us. One Fidel has ignited like a flame that will never be extinguished. And so we walk toward the gate in our favorite dresses, Cuban pride and pragmatism on full display. It’s our way of taking the gowns with us, even if they’re missing the jewels that normally adorn them. What remains of our jewelry is buried in the backyard of our home.
For when we return.
To be Cuban is to be proud—it is both our greatest gift and our biggest curse. We serve no kings, bow no heads, bear our troubles on our backs as though they are nothing at all. There is an art to this, you see. An art to appearing as though everything is effortless, that your world is a gilded one, when the reality is that your knees beneath your silk gown buckle from the weight of it all. We are silk and lace, and beneath them we are steel.
We try to preserve the fiction that this is merely a vacation, a short trip abroad, but the gazes following us around the airport know better—
Beatriz’s fingers wrap around mine for one blissful moment. Those olive green–clad sentries watch our every move. There’s something reassuring in her fear, in that crack in the facade. I don’t let go.
The world as we know it has died, and I do not recognize the one that has taken its place.
A sense of hopelessness overpowers the departure area. You see it in the eyes of the men and women waiting to board the plane, in the tired set of their shoulders, the shock etched across their faces, their possessions clutched in their hands. It’s present in the somber children, their laughter extinguished by the miasma that has overtaken all of us.
This used to be a happy place. We would welcome our father when he returned from a business trip, sat in these same seats three years earlier, full of excitement to travel to New York on vacation.
We take our seats, huddling together, Beatriz on one side of me, Maria on the other. Isabel sits apart from us, her pain a mantle around her shoulders. There are different degrees of loss here, the weight of what we leave behind inescapable.
My parents sit with their fingers intertwined, one of the rare displays of physical affection I’ve ever seen them partake in, worry in their eyes, grief in their hearts.
How long will we be gone? When will we return? Which version of Cuba will greet us when we do?
We’ve been here for hours now, the seconds creeping by with interminable slowness. My dress itches, a thin line of sweat running down my neck. Nausea rolls around in my stomach, an acrid taste in my mouth.
“I’m going to be sick,” I murmur to Beatriz.
She squeezes my fingers. “No, you’re not. We’re almost there.”
I beat the nausea back, staring down at the ground in front of me. The weight of the stares is pointed and sharp, and at the same time, it’s as if we exist in a vacuum. The sound has been sucked from the room save for the occasional rustle of clothing, the stray sob. We exist in a state of purgatory, waiting, waiting—
“Now boarding . . .”
My father rises from his seat on creaky limbs; he’s aged years in the nearly two months since President Batista fled the country, since the winds of revolution drifted from the Sierra Maestra to our corner of the island. Emilio Perez was once revered as one of the wealthiest and most powerful men in Cuba; now there’s little to distinguish my father from the man sitting across the aisle, from the gentleman lining up at the gate. We’re all citizens of no country now, all orphans of circumstance.
I reach out and take Maria’s hand with my spare one.
She’s silent, as though reality has finally sunk in. We all are.
We walk in a line, somber and reticent, making our way onto the tarmac. There’s no breeze in the air today, the heat overpowering as we shuffle forward, the sun beating down on our backs, the plane looming in front of us.
I can’t do this. I can’t leave. I can’t stay.
Beatriz pulls me forward, a line of Perez girls, and I continue on.
We board the plane in an awkward shuffle, the silence cracking and splintering as hushed voices give way to louder ones, a cacophony of tears filling the cabin. Wails. Now that we’ve escaped the departure area, the veneer of civility is stripped away to something unvarnished and raw—
Mourning.
I take a seat next to the window, peering out the tiny glass, hoping for a better view than that of the airport terminal, hoping . . .
We roll back from the gate with a jolt and lurch, silence descending in the cabin. In a flash, it’s New Year’s Eve again and I’m standing in the ballroom of my parents’ friends’ house, a glass of champagne in one hand. I’m laughing, my heart so full. There’s fear lingering in the background, both fear and uncertainty, but there’s also a sense of hope.
In minutes, my entire world changed.
President Batista has fled the country! Long live a free Cuba!
Is this freedom?
We’re gaining speed now, hurtling down the runway. My body heaves with the movement, and I lose the battle, grabbing the bag in the seat pocket in front of me, emptying the contents of my stomach.
Beatriz strokes my back as I hunch over, as the wheels leave the ground, as we soar into the sky. The nausea hits me again and again, an ignominious parting gift, and when I finally look up, a startling shock of blue and green greets me, an artist’s palette beneath me.
When Christopher Columbus arrived in Cuba, he described it as the most beautiful land human eyes had ever seen. And it is. But there’s more beyond the sea, the mountains, the clear sky. There’s so much more that we leave behind us.
How long will we be gone?
A year? Two?
Ojalá.
Marisol
January 2017
When I was younger, I begged my grandmother to tell me about Cuba. It was a mythical island, contained in my heart, entirely drawn from the version of Cuba she created in exile in Miami and the stories she shared with me. I was caught between two lands—two iterations of myself—the one I inhabited in my body and the one I lived in my dreams.
We’d sit in the living room of my grandparents’ sprawling house in Coral Gables, and she’d show me old photos that had been smuggled out of the country by intrepid family members, weaving tales about her life in Havana, the adventures of her siblings, painting a portrait of a land that existed in my imagination. Her stories smelled of gardenias and jasmine, tasted of plantains and mamey, and always, the sound of her old record player. Each time she’d finish her tale she’d smile and promise I would see it myself one day, that we’d return in grand style, reopening her family’s seaside estate in Varadero and the elegant home that took up nearly the entire block of a tree-lined street in Havana.
When Fidel dies, we’ll return. You’ll see.
And finally, after nearly sixty years of keeping Cubans in suspense, of false alarms and hoaxes, he did die, outlasting my grandmother by mere months. The night he died, my family opened a bottle of champagne my great-grandfather had bought nearly sixty years ago for such an occasion, toasting Castro’s demise in our inimitable fashion. The champagne, sadly, like Fidel himself, was past its prime, but we partied on Calle Ocho in Miami until the sun rose, and still—
Still we remain.
His death did not erase nearly sixty years of exile, or ensure a future of freedom. Instead I’m smuggling my grandmother’s ashes inside my suitcase, concealed as jars in my makeup case, honoring her last request to me while we pray, hope, wait for things to change.
When I die, take me back to Cuba. Spread my ashes over the land I love. You’ll know where.
And now sitting on the plane somewhere between Mexico City and Havana, armed with a notebook filled with scribbled street names and places to visit, a guidebook I purchased off the Internet, I have no clue where to lay her to rest.
They read my grandmother’s will six months ago, thirty family members seated in a conference room in our attorney’s office on Brickell. Her sisters were there—Beatriz and Maria. Isabel passed away the year before. Their children came with their spouses and their children, the next generations paying their respects. Then there was my father—her only child—my two sisters, and me.
The main parts of her will were fairly straightforward, no major surprises to be expected. My grandfather had died over two decades earlier and turned the family sugar business over to my father to run. There was the house in Palm Beach, which went to my sister Daniela. The farm in Wellington and the horses were left to my sister Lucia, the middle child. And I ended up with the house in Coral Gables, the site of so many imaginary trips to Cuba.
There were monetary bequests, and artwork, lists upon lists of items read by the attorney in a matter-of-fact tone, his announcements met with the occasional tear or exclamation of gratitude. And then there was her final wish—
Grandparents aren’t supposed to play favorites, but my grandmother never played by anyone else’s rules. Maybe it was the fact that I came into the world two months before my mother caught my father in bed with a rubber heiress. Lucia and Daniela had years of family unity before the Great Divorce, and after that, they had a bond with my mother I never quite achieved. My early years were logged between strategy sessions at the lawyers’ offices, shuttled back and forth between homes, until finally my mother washed her hands of it all and went back to Spain, leaving me under the care of my grandmother. So perhaps because I was the daughter she never had, yet raised as her own, it made sense that she charged me with this—
No one in the family questioned it.
From her sisters, I received a list of addresses—including the Perez estate in Havana and the beach house no one had seen in over fifty years. They put me in contact with Ana Rodriguez, my grandmother’s childhood best friend. Despite the passage of time, she’d been gracious enough to offer to host me for the week I’d be in Cuba. Perhaps she could shed some light on my grandmother’s final resting place.
You always wanted to see Cuba, and it’s my greatest regret that we were unable to do so in my lifetime. I am consoled, at least, by the image of you strolling along the Malecón, the spray of salt water on your face. I imagine you kneeling in the pews of the Cathedral of Havana, sitting at a table at the Tropicana. Did I ever tell you about the night we snuck out and went to the club?
I always dreamed Fidel would die before me, that I would return home. But now my dream is a different one. I am an old woman, and I have come to accept that I will never see Cuba again. But you will.
To be in exile is to have the things you love most in the world—the air you breathe, the earth you walk upon—taken from you. They exist on the other side of a wall—there and not—unaltered by time and circumstance, preserved in a perfect memory in a land of dreams.
My Cuba is gone, the Cuba I gave to you over the years swept away by the winds of revolution. It’s time for you to discover your own Cuba.
I slip the letter back into my purse, the words blurring together. It’s been six months, and yet the ache is still there, intensified by the moments when I feel her loss most acutely, when she should be beside me and is not.
The sight of the merenguitos she would make me on special occasions, their sugary taste dissolving on my tongue in a cloud of white powder, the sound of my childhood—our musical icons: Celia Cruz, Benny Moré, and the Buena Vista Social Club—and now this, the wheels of the airplane touching down on Cuban soil.
I miss my grandmother.
Tears spill onto my cheeks. It’s not merely the absence of her; it’s this feeling of connection as the airplane taxis down the same runway that carried her away from Cuba nearly sixty years ago.
I stare out the window, treated to my first glimpse of José Martí International Airport. At first glance, it looks like the countless Caribbean airports I’ve flown through on vacations in my life. But underneath it all there’s a sense of recognition and a thrill that runs through me. A sigh that escapes my body as though I’ve been holding my breath and can finally exhale.
It’s that sensation of being away for a long time and returning to your house, the sight of it greeting you—both familiar and changed—stepping through the doorway, dropping your bags on the ground next to you with a sense of completion, your journey over, and taking in your surroundings, surveying all you left behind, and thinking—
I am home.

1.04.2018

2018 Blog and Reading Goals

Welcome 2018!
With this new year I want to lay out a thing I want to accomplish reading and blog wise:

- Read 100 Books
- Read 12 TBR Books
- Start and complete at least 1 series
- Read at least 2 nonfiction books
- Read 2 Classic books
- Listen to more audiobooks
- Limit my e-arcs
- Review on time

Some are simple things others will take some discipline and work on my part but I will try my hardest to conquer them all. None are unreachable so we shall see.

So there are my goals for this year. Please share your goals feel free to link your post here or simply share them in the comments!


Here’s to a new year filled with amazing and awesome books!! 

1.03.2018

Review: Meet Cute by various YA authors

Meet Cute by various YA authors
Published: January 2, 2018
Published: HMH BYR
Format: via NetGalley
Rating: 4/5

Synopsis
Whether or not you believe in fate or luck, or love at first sight, every romance has to start somewhere. MEET CUTE is an anthology of original short stories featuring tales of “how they first met” from some of today’s most popular YA authors.

Readers will experience Nina LaCour's beautifully written piece about two Bay Area girls meeting via a cranky customer service Tweet, Sara Shepard's glossy tale about a magazine intern and a young rock star, Nicola Yoon's imaginative take on break-ups and make-ups, Katie Cotugno's story of two teens hiding out from the police at a house party, and Huntley Fitzpatrick's charming love story that begins over iced teas at a diner. There’s futuristic flirting from Kass Morgan and Katharine McGee, a riveting transgender heroine from Meredith Russo, a subway missed connection moment from Jocelyn Davies, and a girl determined to get out of her small town from Ibi Zoboi. Jennifer Armentrout writes a sweet story about finding love from a missing library book, Emery Lord has a heartwarming and funny tale of two girls stuck in an airport, Dhonielle Clayton takes a thoughtful, speculate approach to pre-destined love, and Julie Murphy dreams up a fun twist on reality dating show contestants.

This incredibly talented group of authors brings us a collection of stories that are at turns romantic and witty, epic and every day, heartbreaking and real.

My Thoughts
I picked this as my first read of 2018 because I wanted something fun flirty and something with the “feels” and boy did I get it with this anthology! While with all anthologies I wasn’t wowed by all the stories I was with way more than half of them. Of course, I have my favorite authors that I go to but I also was exposed to some that I never read anything from and highly enjoyed their stories.

One of my favorites was from Jocelyn Davies who was new to me and omg that story was just too cute. It was about a girl who was all about stats and math and how her world revolved around that. One day she meets a boy who was going on the opposite train and she decides to use math to determine if they met again every day using different variables. Everyone tells her it was fate that they were meant to meet but she doesn’t believe in fate she thinks its just the fact that people are creatures of habit and by doing the same thing everyday peoples routines just sync up that way. Well, she slowly starts to fall for this guy after a few brief encounters with him and when she doesn’t see him for awhile decides her experiment wasn’t worth it. Just when she thinks she will never see him again fate steps in reunites them. Oh, how I loved this story it was just... everything!

I found this anthology fun and light-hearted and an awesome way to start off my book year. I highly encourage everyone to give this one a try, you are bound to find a story or two or more that will tug at your heartstrings.

1.02.2018

Monthly Wrap Up: December

Hi Everyone! Can you believe a new year is upon us? Well, I hope everyone had a great holiday season and that it was filled with happiness, great food and fun times with family. Here’s how my last month of the year stacked up book-wise.
Books Read
61. Married by Midnight by Talli Roland
[yep I just read one book in December]

Books Received via Publishers
Still Me by JoJo Moyes
Just Between Us by Rebecca Drake
The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

Arcs via NetGalley/Edelweiss
Always Forever Maybe by Anica Mrose Rissi
The Favorite Sister by Jessica Knoll
Dreams of Falling by Karen White
Other Peoples Houses by Abbi Waxman
Before and Again by Barbara Delinsky
Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren
All the Beautiful Lies by Peter Swanson

Purchases
[Black Friday Book outlet Haul]
You by Caroline Kepnes
Hidden Bodies by Caroline Kepnes
Under Your Skin by Sabine Durrant
American Isis by Carl Rollyson
Marjorie Morningstar by Herman Wouk
Two or Three Things I Forgot to Tell You by Joyce Carol Oates
Are You There God Its Me Margaret by Judy Blume
Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer

[Amazon December Buys]
Far From the Tree by Robin Benway
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas
The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
It by Stephen King
Violent Ends by various authors
Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan
I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

Upcoming Reads
 You by Caroline Kepnes
Far from the Tree by Robin Benway
Summer Hours at the Robbers Library by Sue Halpern


Well, that’s my December wrap up. Feel free to share your book month with me I love to see all things bookish!