Category Archives: Books

Otherwise Occupied by Shay Savage

Otherwise Occupied

My thoughts

After having read Otherwise Alone, I’m intrigued if Evan Arden will be able to meet Lia in book two, Otherwise Occupied. This isn’t the first book I’ve read from this author, Shay Savage. Surviving Raine is my all-time favorite book and its sequel Bastian’s Storm will be always special to me. Seeing Bastian in a happy ending is the best way to conclude his story and knowing a kind of guy like him deserves his second chance.

Otherwise Occupied is about Evan Arden whose life revolves around his job and lives to please his mob boss, Moretti. He’s living in denial and crave for the companionship of a hooker, Brigitte, in return he gave her special attention. He doesn’t normally show care or concern with anyone except for Brigitte.

To avoid nightmares at night, he took Brigitte home to let her give him blowjob and allow her to sleep in his bed. That closeness, her smell and warmth of her body gives him peace of mind and nightmare-free at night. With someone beside him during the night, he could sleep. But then, his thoughts automatically wanders to that woman who unexpectedly arrived in his shack in the middle of the Arizona desert. Lia Antonio. As much as he wants to forget Lia, the thoughts of her and their lovemaking in that one lonely night in his shack kept coming back to him.

Reading about a hit man isn’t my first read. My first hit man was Cain, Killing Game by Felicity Heaton and it’s a novella. I’m not going to compare since they are different books although the heroes are both professional hit man. Both are hired to kill without remorse. My first hit man came from a rich family and isn’t even a broken guy. He isn’t even suffering from any emotional anxiety unlike Evan. He was just compelled to do the job because he ran away from home. He’s broke and needed the money to survive alone in New York. 

What I’m saying is that my experience reading Evan Arden who’s one heck of a damn Marine sniper, suffering from psychosis, tried to pretend that his life is normal and nothing is wrong with him. Just like normal people, we are a master of disguise. We pretend that we are fine but deep inside we are just like Evan.

Evan was having trouble with his PTSD. He’s in denial. He wants to feel nothing and deals with it with flying colours. But then, a person has his limitations. Everyone has their breaking point. He is like a balloon, when he can’t contain his thoughts and emotions he exploded big time, which is imminent for someone who is suffering from PTSD. The last part of the book, Evan frightens me and at the same time my heart weeps for him. I pity him because he has no one to care for him at the time he needed someone to be at his side. Odin was just lucky that at the last part Lia was there. Lia saw Evan broke down and being tugged down by a team of SWAT Team.

Otherwise Occupied isn’t an all-nighter book for me. I could go back to reading it without annoyance and remember the details even if I skipped from reading it in a day or two. If I was stoked with reading Surviving Raine series, Otherwise Occupied is still a book worth-reading but be prepared for some explicit sex scenes and violent killings.

Of course, I’m off to reading the third book, Otherwise Unharmed.

Ratings:       4 Stars

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Otherwise Alone by Shay Savage

otherwise alone

Evan Arden is an ex-marine sniper turned hit man for a mafia boss in Chicago. He’s in exile and living in a shack in Arizona desert with a sniper rifle and his dog, Odin.  It’s a voluntary exile as punishment for a mission gone wrong. It’s the price he paid for working to a mob boss. Better be in a deserted land still breathing than be buried six feet under and dead. He can’t leave his shack unless he receives a go signal from someone he knew.

 

Fate, when it knocks to our door has this habit of making fun of us and then let us do shitty things unexpectedly. 

 
The day was scorching hot when he spotted through his rifle’s scope  a stumbling young woman going in the direction of his shack. He’s thinking to shoot the woman but change his mind considering she may be lost and killing her is a shitty thing to do.

 
Who would have thought a young woman would show up in front of his shack in the middle of nowhere and throw him off of his feet and fall for her in a short period of time. It’s been a while since he had a companion and a young woman for a company with just the two of them is a gift he wouldn’t turn down. What can I say more? Evan Arden is SMOKIN’ HOT.
 
Otherwise Alone is a quick read and I’m off to reading its prequel Otherwise Occupied.
 
★★★★★ 

Between Shades of Gray By Ruta Sepetys

between shades of gray

I couldn’t  remember how I came across this book but I was lucky that I did.

 

I don’t know much about Stalin’s atrocities during his reign. I heard about him in one of our history class but I guess I didn’t pay much attention to him. I was in high school then. I knew about his name and that he was no different from Adolf Hitler. Hitler’s atrocities toward Jews were clearly imprinted in my mind until now. But Stalin’s wickedness, to my shame, were vague in my mind.

 

But why am I saying all this, you may ask? It was my first time to read something about what happened during World War 2. I lack courage reading these kinds of books because it overwhelms  me. As much as possible I tried to avoid this type because  I knew this kind  will haunt me even in my waking hours.

 
 

There’s something about this book that made me stopped reading it for a while. It’s painful to read something from someone clearly retold  one’s painful past and then open the wound just to be able to share it to the world. How one would go through such  inhumane treatment from another  person would break one’s heart. When my emotions started to become normal again, I never stop from reading it until I get to the last page.

 

It was June 14, 1941 when Lina Vilkas along with her mother and brother Jonas were forcibly taken out of  their house in the middle of the night by the NKVD. She was 15 years old then while his brother was only 10. She never saw her father again that night. Lina, her brother and mother will be sent to Siberia and had to travel by foot and by train with size 4×3 couches cramped and crowded with other Lithuanians, the same way they were pulled out from their own homes.

 

While inside the depressing train, there she met Andrius Arvydas, 17 years old, together with her mother. His father was in military. Like Lina, he never saw his father again.

 

I love romance novel specially if it has HEA. Though the story were brutal in some parts the happy ending made me love this book. Honestly I cried when someone close to Lina died. It really broke my heart when I read that part. It was painful. Every time I remembered that part I couldn’t keep myself from mumbling, Life was unfair.

 
 

Between Shades Of Gray is a must read for all book lovers.

★★★★★


The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides

the virgin suicide

What if your youngest daughter died of suicide? Then after a few months, 4 of your remaining daughters committed the same using different methods. Three  of them died while the remaining one was unsuccessful and lived. But then that sole survivor died of pill overdosed two months after she was discharged from the hospital. Are you a bad parent? Or is it bad genes? Who’s to blame?

 
 

How would you understand someone who’s mentally unstable? How would you accept it if your 13-year old daughter ended her life without even a trace of remorse? Do you  blame her? Or do you blame yourselves as parents? Do we really understand them? Or we are just making a pretense that we do understand them? I guess we may fully  understand them  if we’ve placed ourselves in their shoes.

 

I was fucking furious  right after reading this book. Pardon me for using such offensive word. I’m angry and I can’t avoid it. I felt hopelessness all throughout the book. I’m mad for the parents of Lux,  Mary, Therese, Bonnie and Cecilia.  I don’t think they deserved to be called parents at all. It was frustrating to see the five Lisbon girls slowly drifting  from reality and yet all the people who knew them were just spectators watching them go wasted. The neighborhood was like some moviegoers hooked to an entertaining show as if enjoying the scenes from a reality show. It was frustrating to read something like this book from a narrator who was only concerned with his obsessions for the Lisbon girls.

 

This book would really make you pissed off. The parents I think are the one insane and not their daughters. I think the main reason the five teens committed suicide is because they were insanely controlled by their mother,  Mrs. Lisbon. To make things worst Mr. Lisbon just let her wife controlled  their daughters. 

 

This book had brought out so much emotions from me. It’s ironic that the issue on suicide made the story very interesting, it will make you hooked on reading till its last page.

 

Would I recommend reading it? Definitely yes!

★★★★★

The Catastrophic History of You and Me by Jess Rothenberg

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“You can obsess and obsess over how things ended—what you did wrong or could have done differently—but there’s not much of a point. It’s not like it’ll change anything. So really, why worry?”

 

I picked this book solely based on its title.  Yes, I’ve read some of the good and bad reviews and still I go on with it. I just hope it will turn out different.

The story is about Brie who died from broken heart, literally. Her father is dumbfounded to learn the cause of her daughter’s death. He even becomes obsessed to find answers why and how her daughter died of acute massive coronary when he knew his daughter is strong and healthy.

Brie is selfish. She didn’t listen with Jeff. She didn’t listen again with Patrick. She’s too stubborn. She’s overwhelmed with her emotions and unreasonable most of the time. You can’t really make a person listen to you unless he chooses to right? It’s like you’re trying so hard to wake up a person who pretends that he’s sleeping.

Grief has 5 stages – Denial,  Anger,  Bargaining,  Sadness and Acceptance and Brie has gone through all this stage. The best part is her acceptance and as much as I would love to reveal what is Patrick ‘s role in her life I wouldn’t spoil the fun. I’ll try to keep the good stuff for myself this time. HahaI have to admit there’s a portion in the  book that put me into sleep most of the time. Some parts are annoying and I’ve wished it was not there so I wouldn’t have to suffer from reading it.Reading about a heroine in 10th grade is too much for my patience. I guess this is the consequence of picking a book not appropriate for my age. I should have seen this coming. But I wanted to read something new and it’s my first time to read a book from this author. It doesn’t hurt to try, right?


As I said there are dull moments and felt like a pain in the butt. I have no choice but to  drag myself to continue with it so I wouldn’t have regrets if it turns out good. I simply don’t want to abandon it. If this turns out bad, well, it’s part of life. Just like in the movie,  when Forest Gump said that life is like a box of chocolate,  you’ll never know what you’ll gonna get. That’s the same with picking a book, eh?

This is what I’ve gone through while reading it. There are times I wanted to give up and check out other books that I’m sure much better than this. It’s tiring to watch Brie hurt herself over again for someone who doesn’t deserve her. It’s much more easy to let it go than scheme revenge  for Jeff and Sadie than subject herself through pain again.

Why did I ever read this, you might ask. Why put myself in this situation when I can choose a better one? A friend of mine died. We’re not close friends or as in close as in you can make him mad for throwing mean jokes at him and still OK with it. He’s one of my Facebook friends. I’ve wished it had been more real. Even if we’re online friends he makes me feel he’s real. He died June 26, 2014. I was surprised the following day upon reading in my Facebook feed that he already passed away. I knew he was recovering then and the shock to find that he was gone was like I’ve lost a good friend.

I was thankful and lucky that I’ve met someone like him. He might never read this but I hope he would feel that I will surely miss him.  He’s a great man and I knew his family will surely missed him.

Where was I? Oh, back to the story.

The Catastrophic History of You and Me is a sad story. But then, that’s really the book is all about. It’s a good read for those trying to take a glimpse how a dead person cope with his death. How Brie copes with the five stages of grief.

Would you want to read it? If you are up to reading YA, well, this book will suit you. If you’re not used to  reading teens whining and being unreasonable at times at least you can avoid it or have an open mind and give this book a try.

Would I consider re-reading this? No way. That will be like dying twice. Hahaha 


4 Stars


J.J. Graves Mysteries by Liliana Hart

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When it rains, it pours. 

I was on a trip with my husband and left my Kindle back home which I normally do. Being captive and unproductive in a place made me uneasy and restless. The place we’ve been to was calling  for a good book. It was green, peaceful and quiet.  I checked my Samsung Note for anything to read since I have installed Amazon Kindle in it. I’ve got a few loan books which I downloaded from Amazon but never read any of it in my smart phone. Having read some of Liliana Hart’s Mackenzie series, I opted to pick Dirty Little Secrets without any idea about the book.

Dirty Little Secrets is one of the four books in the series. I learned this when I got home and checked Goodreads about the book. If I learned  earlier that these are series and that there is a fourth book coming up by Fall of this year I wouldn’t have read it. I honestly have low tolerance for books in installment. I could put up with two up to three series but not with book four on its tow. Reading book series is like shopping on impulse. It makes you buy more things you don’t need and will only add up in my growing list of to-be-read-books. You’ll just learn later on that isn’t worth a dime and end up disappointed or the new series had just destroyed  the earlier installment or vice versa. A new installment could make or break an already phenomenal book.

But in this case, I was so wrong. After I read book one, I was craving to read all the series and ended up buying books two and three.

The book was written in JJ’s POV. JJ Graves is a fourth generation mortician. She used to have a well paying job as a hospital doctor when she was later forced to move back in Bloody Mary, Virginia after her parents died. Moving in in Bloody Mary was a setback in her plans since she needed to pay her  loans and a single woman with a kind of job she has now would not land her a boyfriend in this small town.

She’s broke and lonely. She hated her job but had no choice. She took over her family’s legacy, Graves Funeral Home, even if she despised it. She volunteers as a coroner out of guilt for her parents’ status as undesirable citizens of their town. She works with her hot best friend county sheriff, Jack Lawson.

JJ is a believable character. I could relate myself with her. How she make do with what she have and doesn’t take advantage of Jack’s offer to borrow money from him. She’s smart – ass with a great sense of humor. She could make you laugh with her sarcastic and witty humor.

There’s a serial killer on the loose killing some of their friends. They are discovering secrets from these deaths that even themselves caught surprised. It’s the usual formula in a suspense romance novel one could read from the same genre. But what made this interesting and worth buying is that, for me, it’s something new and without having read its reviews prior to reading this book, is like finding a gold mine in a barren land.

I love Jack. He has ways of making his feelings known so that  JJ would get used to it. He expressed his feelings even in an awkward situation and yet he comes out so cute. Every time he did that I couldn’t help but giggle and swoon. He’s lovable without being too mushy. His persona as a sheriff is as tough as a rock but when he lets his feelings come out, boy, I envy JJ. She’s so damn lucky. Sigh.

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Reading book installment is like an unopened gift you will never know what’s inside it unless you opened one. I was surprised to have read the first book and couldn’t stop from reading it till the end. When I got home, I took out my Kindle and read the second book, A Dirty Shame.

Book two, A Dirty Shame, is much more enjoyable than its previous installment. Here, JJ and Jack’s love story was given a chance. In book one, you could only feel the slight built up of romance between the two but no one dared to open up each other’s feelings. Just oblique hints from gorgeous hunk county sheriff Jack Lawson. In book two, Jack made known his intentions with JJ. If he’s patient in the first book, here he showed who’s in charged. I love how Jack made me feel his love for JJ.The second book started to clear some issues that concerns her roots. Here she learned some of the secrets her parents had kept from her all her life.

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In book three, Dirty Little Scoundrel, JJ was surprised to find out a dead body hidden in her parents’ bunker. And to her shock, JJ’s father is alive. She also learned his boyfriend’s past which intrigued her ever since he came home to Bloody Mary. She knew Jack had a great career as a SWAT cop in DC but something came up and he had to leave the job he loved. In this installment, someone is killing off all of the members of Jack’s former SWAT Team. Also, Jack’s old flame showed up in Bloody Mary which somehow complicated their relationship.

The only problem I have right now is I have to wait for the fourth book which will be released by November. I’m frustrated because I want the FOURTH INSTALLMENT NOW!  I hope it would be the last installment. Although the three books are worth buying, and since I’ve read the three books IN RAPID SUCCESSION, I would likely buy the fourth book, and I pray it would be the last. Although all three books are great, I honestly could tolerate another installment.

 4 Stars each for Dirty Little Secrets, A Dirty Shame, and Dirty Little Scoundrel


Louder Than Love by Jessica Topper

ImageI came across this book when I checked  one of my favorite reviewers in Goodreads and she gave it 5 star ratings, which surprised me because it wasn’t her usual genre. It intrigues me.  It must be that ‘good’ because reading all her past reviews gave me impression that she’s brutally honest about her feelings for every book she had read. I thought I should give it a try.

This book was written in Katrina’s POV. Katrina ‘Tree’ Lewis has been a widow for four years with a four and a half year old daughter named Abbey from her deceased husband Pete. Pete died in a train accident even before Abbey turned one year old. Bereaved and lost, she packed all their things and moved back to her small town Lauder Lake to live with her parents. With the encouragement and support of her four awesome friends, she tried to move on and start a new life at Lauder Lake.

Tree has been planning to invite a children’s musician to perform in her town’s small library. The idea struck her when she finally noticed Abbey’s growing obsession to her all time favorite cartoon Maxwell MacGillikitty, which its opening song was written and sung by a certain Adrian Graves. Her daughter’s obsession to this song inspired her to search his other works. Being forced to listen to the song repeatedly, her curiosity and infatuation for the man behind the voice slowly developed.

Her uncanny skills for research to find her elusive singer had paid off. She showed to Marissa the sample CD entitled “Songs for Natalie – Adrian Graves,” which she accidentally found at the Bruised Apple bookstore, a second hand bookstore she loved to visit when she was still young. The CD was her only clue to track down the whereabouts of Adrian Graves.

Adrian Graves appeared late and drunk on the day of his live performance. Tree was partly annoyed because he seemed unfit to perform in front of the children. She was having second thoughts if she made the right choice because she didn’t want to disappoint the children. She expected to see an older Adrian but was surprised that he looked younger.  The drunk Adrian finally loosened up as he nailed one song after the other. He got his audience attention including the parents as they sang along with him. Don’t be immediately discouraged if you were also disappointed at Adrian, believed me he had reasons why he did that.

You know, this is a romance novel so I wasn’t surprised to read that ‘unexpected electric zing’ once their hands accidentally touched each other. Obviously, there was  instant physical attraction between them.

Her attraction to Adrian made me smile and sent me howling with laughter when they had their first kiss. Sorry, I can’t say a word about it. But for those who already read the book, they knew what I was talking about.

There are chapters that would make you close the book for a while like you remember putting on hold cleaning the house because the itch to read the book kicks in. Since the succeeding chapters aren’t as appealing as the previous ones, going back to the chores you left before you picked up the book has become much more exciting than ever. That’s what I did. I get back to cleaning my place and tried to forget this annoying thought that the book isn’t engaging as it said it was. I don’t abandon the book just because the story is making me loose my sanity. I always gave the book a second chance. For now, I have tons of patience. I repeat, Tons.

I know it wasn’t easy to write a book the same way to be able to publish it. I now understand the hardships and sleepless nights some authors were going through so that they were able to write their books and publish it. It’s maturity I guess. Having read so many books in the past, even though some of it are hard to digest because the words are like jewelries, too expensive for my taste. Some were like a piece of cake suited for my taste, suited for my too ordinary vocabulary. No matter what words they created, I started to respect them. Going back, as I was saying, this was the part of the book some reviewers find it slow because I honestly and totally agree with them.

Succeeding chapters gave us a glimpse of how Tree and Pete met. How she went through overcoming her loss and heartaches for the untimely death of her husband. This also gave us a glimpse of how she solely raised her daughter and seeing her growing up without her father being around was difficult to bear. Depression came in and she indulged in it for quite some time but fought it for herself and for her daughter Abbey.  While Katrina has a lot of baggage which is too much for her to carry and a daughter on her sleeves, she enjoyed what she could get from Adrian and what they have for a moment.

I liked Adrian’s character. He’s a rockstar in the 80’s with a British accent and I could feel Kat’s shuddered delight whenever Adrian called her ‘luv’ in his accent. Like Kat, he too has his own ‘personal demons.’

As any relationship, it has its ups and downs. The relationship turned topsy-turvy. Adrian has been like opened book about his past except for one thing which he is trying to share with Tree. Tree on the other hand had kept Adrian at a guessing point. Both characters were matured adults who knew how to handle their past. They gave each other a space to tackle their own demons and learn to forgive themselves and take their second chances at life and love.

Abbey loved to spell her name like A-B-B-E-Y with an emphasis to ‘with an E.’ She’s cute, bubbly, witty and asked a lot of questions. All throughout the book, Abbey would give you the first impression that you would wish she is your daughter.

Finally, after reading this book, what I’ve learned was that sudden death in the family would make one enraged, haywire or ballistic.  I don’t understand before why this book took on a slow build up but after reading it, contemplate on it for a while, and now I came up with my conclusion. It just showed me how one was going through if one member of the family tragically died especially in the case of Katrina. She’s lowly building up her own family and then her husband died in a tragic accident and gone forever in her life and in her daughter’s life.

I also understand what Adrian was going through after so much being popular in the music industry and kept himself hidden in the public’s eyes. The popularity, the huge money he’s making was quite overwhelming for him. Being popular had also caused him betrayal and love lost from family and friends.

This is a good book, quite long but well written.