The Kitchen When It Sizzles by Chrissie Peria

I won an eBook copy of this book from a giveaway hosted by Chrissie Peria during the #MoreLoveinPH Romance Writers of the Philippines Multi-Author Bash last June 27-28 on Facebook. I enjoyed All’s Fair in Blog and War, so I had high hopes that I would enjoy this book as well.

Here’s the plot description from Goodreads:

The Kitchen When It Sizzles coverOlivia Nadal is an almost perfect girl with an almost perfect life. She has stunning good looks, an exciting job that pays well, men lining up to date her, and a homey little condo she calls her own. The only thing keeping her from perfection is her utter inability to cook.

Enter Nate Olivarez, a hotshot chef who’s filling in for Olivia’s cooking instructor. Sparks fly when they meet, but a fling with the visiting hottie is the last thing Olivia needs. But as things keep heating up in the kitchen, she can’t help but wonder. Can things work out between her and Nate? Or is the sizzle all set to fizzle?

The first few paragraphs already push me to understand how Olivia feels, given her position as an inexperienced cook. As a frustrated cook, I know what it feels like to be helpless around kitchen chores. But just like any other skills one desires to master, she needs a person with expertise in that area in order to hone her skill. And that’s when Nate comes into the picture. Right from the beginning, any reader can evidently see the undeniable attraction between the two characters.

What can I say? This book just raises Chrissie Peria into a whole new level. After being introduced to Nate and Olivia, I know I’ll love them and root for their relationship all the way to the end. Chrissie Peria portrays Nate’s character as a swoon-worthy gentleman, whom any lady would find themselves asking for more of in the world. Olivia, on the other hand, is being protective of her heart; thus, she’s unsure of what she truly wants. Call me a cliché, but I love the pacing of the budding relationship between Nate and Olivia. Despite the wild hormones emitting from their bodies, hence their obvious sexual tensions in the atmosphere whenever they’re together, I love the process of their getting-to-know stage through cooking.

Speaking of cooking, Chrissie Peria surely knows her way with food. The descriptive narration and detailed portrayal of the dishes – from preparation to the finished product – have me drooling and craving for more. I wouldn’t doubt if Chrissie Peria is said to be a great cook. I would love to try her dishes when opportunity comes. But just like any other love story, I tend to drool over the main guy character as well. The steamy love scenes in this book are just beyond my expectations! I’m surprised with Chrissie Peria’s boldness to narrate the steamy scenes in intricate details. And just like that, my hunger is satisfied more than I hoped for.

Overall, The Kitchen When It Sizzles impresses me in ways I cannot imagine. The book doesn’t disappoint. Yes, there are conflicts and struggles along the way, but the outcome of Nate and Olivia’s love story is worth retelling and remembering, and most of all, definitely swoon-worthy. Perhaps one of the reasons why I also love the book is due to the fact that I can easily empathize with the characters. I can feel their emotions and react to their actions. At the end of the day, this steamy, hot, sizzling book will leave readers fanning themselves and craving for more, be it food or simply Nate.


Rules We Like Breaking by Mina V. Esguerra

I came across a tweet from Mina V. Esguerra that she sent e-ARC copies of this book to those who requested before. Having missed that opportunity, I asked Mina if she can still add me to the list. She did and sent me the ARC. Excitement and intrigue filled me as the plot offered something new from the author. I didn’t know what this book would hold, so I moved on to it right after I finished the previous book I was reading.

Here’s the synopsis:

Rules We Like Breaking coverVictoria Bennett is in control and in charge all day every day, but she needs help sometimes. Organizing a romantic proposal weekend for her client in Mexico (she’s never been) would be that time – and the only person available to help her is Nathan Grant, notorious heartbreaker. She knows his past and shouldn’t want him, shouldn’t fall for guys like him, but that hasn’t prevented her from lusting after him for years. It’s just one weekend on the beach, away from people they know, alone with the guy who could cause her perfectly coordinated world to crumble. Shouldn’t be a problem, right?

There are various aspects in life that we make rules on, either for other people to abide or just to direct ourselves to our desired path in life. In this book’s case, the rules the author is pertaining to involve relationships. Each person makes his/her own rules in order to attain a successful relationship with someone that would fit their standard. And just like any other rule we follow, there come moments when we are still bound to break them.

When there’s a wedding planner, there’s also a proposal planner. And that’s what Victoria was hired to do at that moment. However, planning a proposal is just the tip of an iceberg. The beginning of the story already introduces us to the undeniable attraction Victoria feels for Nathan; hence her reluctance to ask for Nathan’s assistance. Surprisingly enough, Nathan feels the same way for Victoria.

I actually love the smooth transition from the present to the past and back to the present again as a means of illustrating how everything started (from how they first met). The plot thickens more as Mina V. Esguerra includes Nathan’s point of view as well. This provides an avenue for readers to understand both characters based on their actions. As the story progresses, I get to know more about Victoria and Nathan as they slowly allow themselves to reveal their true selves. That said, I’m convinced enough to root for them all the way to the end. And just like that, rules are broken.

I don’t remember Victoria from Playing Autumn, but it’s nice to see her play a big role in this book. Rules We Like Breaking is definitely one of Mina’s finest works. As much as this is just a short read, I enjoy the time spent reading this. There are certain parts, though, that I wish the author would’ve delved longer and deeper in. Aside from that, this book is a delightful, satisfying read. I love that Mina V. Esguerra also allows room for character development. Even the supporting characters play significant roles in the story. Overall, Rules We Like Breaking is a perfect dessert for any course meal.

Clear: A Death Trippers Novel by Jessica Park

I always look forward to Jessica Park’s new releases as each book holds promising plotline and unique narration. This time around, Jessica Park diverts from her usual setting and surprises her readers with a combination of romance and paranormal. Immediately so, I bought a paperback copy of the book from Book Depository.

Here’s the plot description from the back cover of the book:

Clear coverStella Ford’s grasp on reality is already loose, and it’s about to come undone.

When the college junior flees Chicago and leaves her toxic family behind, she heads for coastal Maine to find the one person who brought her peace years ago: Sam Bishop. But the Sam she once knew now has painful secrets.

Stella is determined to heal them both. Healing, however, is a challenge when the walls of her everyday existence collapse. And when Sam’s best friend is his worst enemy.

When the line between life and death blurs.

When an end is just a beginning.

When lust and rage rule.

Yet during extraordinary chaos, there can be extraordinary love, even if that love comes with a twist.

Welcome to death tripping.

A thriller, a paranormal, and a passionate romance, CLEAR crosses genres and breaks boundaries.

The moment I saw the title, it posed a lot of questions on my mind. The word “clear” may evidently convey a metaphorical meaning, but what caught my attention most were the words that came after. What does a death tripper mean? And how would it fit into the story? The synopsis didn’t even give out anything, so everything I drew came out blanks. This intriguing, mysterious title triggered my curiosity more and pushed me to read the book the soonest possible.

Opening this book was like being presented with a box of jigsaw puzzles waiting to be completed. The whole picture remained a mystery; hence, it was up to the readers to slowly fit the jigsaw puzzle pieces together as the story progressed. At the beginning of the story, I was already introduced to the strange situation of Stella and how she and Sam met. These significant turn of events will change the lives of Stella and Sam altogether.

I was impressed by Jessica Park’s portrayal of her characters. I loved the fact that there were no hints of pretentious personalities or perfect characters just to be liked by everyone. As the book was opened, so were the deepest and darkest secrets of the characters. Jessica Park succeeded in revealing their imperfections and vulnerabilities which made me empathize more with them and understand their current standing. As pages were turned, their walls and barriers slowly shattered. The book didn’t just center its story on Stella and Sam. It proved to be more than that as all characters, even Amy and Costa, were surprisingly interconnected with one another. The complex characterization of the characters just gave me a mixed range of emotions that took me to a roller coaster ride and I must say, it was one heck of a ride.

While reading the book, I was overwhelmed by the never-ending suspense of the plotline. I may have been just a spectator, but Jessica Park managed to somehow keep me from immediately knowing the underlying gist of the whole story. It seemed I gradually became involved with the characters and embarked the journey with them as well. It was that unpredictable. As one question got answered, another one arose. The book definitely kept me at the edge of my seat. There were moments when I even tried to control myself not to react loudly as certain scenes caught me off guard. There were moments of ohh…, moments of aww…, and then moments of whoa!!!

Clear truly was one twisted, complicated, extraordinary story full of surprises and challenging struggles faced by the characters. I now know what a death tripper meant. How Jessica Park delivered the story really amazed me. The romance and lust were crazy enough for me to fathom, what more of this death tripper concept Jessica Park developed. At the end of the day, what’s important was that I was able to complete the puzzle and I fully saw the bigger picture. As the story concluded, I closed the book with a clear, understanding mind. For a first-time paranormal reader, I enjoyed this book. Jessica Park showed more of what she’s capable of and it didn’t disappoint. Just like the characters of the book, I shall go find my good.

Split Second by Kasie West

Much to my enjoyment of reading Pivot Point, I immediately moved on to Split Second right after I finished the first book. Now that Addie chose a path contrary to her heart’s desire, how will she be able to get what she truly wanted despite having that desire erased? That, I’m about to find out. A word of caution, though, this review may contain spoilers if you haven’t read Pivot Point yet. Proceed reading at your own risk. Haha!

Here’s the synopsis from the jacket cover of the book:

Split Second coverLife can change in a split second.

Addie hardly recognizes her life since her parents divorced. Her boyfriend used her. Her best friend betrayed her. She can’t believe this is the future she chose.

When Addie’s dad invites her to spend her winter break with him, she jumps at the chance to escape into the Norm world of Dallas, Texas. There she meets the handsome and achingly familiar Trevor. He’s a virtual stranger to her, so why does her heart do a funny flip every time she sees him? But after witnessing secrets that were supposed to stay hidden, Trevor quickly seems more suspicious of Addie than interested in her. And she has an inexplicable desire to change that.

Meanwhile, her best friend, Laila, has a secret of her own: she can restore Addie’s memories… once she learns how. But there are powerful people who don’t want to see this happen. Desperate, Laila tries to manipulate Connor, a brooding bad boy from school—but he seems to be the only boy in the Compound immune to her charms. And the only one who can help her.

As Addie and Laila frantically attempt to retrieve the lost memories, Addie must piece together a world she thought she knew before she loses the love she nearly forgot… and a future that could change everything.

The story picks up where Pivot Point has left off. But instead of using the same strategy as the first book, Kasie West now centers her story to Addie and Laila. Their alternating points of view give readers glimpses of the current situation in the Compound and the normal world. With the inclusion of new characters, the flow of story sets off to a new course – making the plotline thicker and more complicated.

Knowing that Addie has her Norm world path erased, I’m actually looking forward to her meeting with Trevor. I’m eager to find out how Kasie West would recreate the Trevor-Addie moments now that Addie acquires an uncontrollable power that endangers her secret from the Norms. With the surprise turnout of events, readers also get to see the sweet side of Stephanie, who we’ve known from the first book. Kasie West definitely deviates from our preconceived notions of the characters in the first book. This twist pushes me to further become engrossed in the story.

Meanwhile, at the Compound, after reading Addie’s note, Laila attempts to improve her power by seeking Connor’s help. This mysterious character plays a significant role in the story. I keep guessing his true identity, but I always end up with a blank. As the story progresses, I love how flawed Connor and Laila’s friendship is because it reveals both their strengths and vulnerabilities. I’m glad Laila’s been given a center stage role that I slowly get to know her true self. As expected, I have become invested in these two characters. Eli never fails to amaze me as well. I’m amused by his humor and innocence and how he has become helpful in the story.

As for Trevor and Addie, they’ve just become one of my favorite couples in literature. I love how their relationship develops without any hint of rush or insta-love. They’ve taken time to get to know each other that slowly blooms to love. I’ve known Trevor in Pivot Point, but I’ve come to know him better in this book. These Trevor-Addie moments definitely have me swooning and feeling giddy. Call me a cliché, but I always root for these friendship-turning-love kinds of relationship.

Apart from love and relationship, Kasie West digs deeper into the complex structure of the Compound and their controversial system. While I enjoy the suspense, I feel that the latter part of the story has been rushed a bit. With too many characters involved, some, whom I thought would take part in the vital section of the story, have been left out.

Other than that, Split Second manages to entertain me from beginning to the end. I couldn’t keep my hands off the book! It’s undoubtedly different from her other books, but it’s great to read a diversified plotline for a change. Kasie West’s story once again gives readers a right amount of twists and surprises. Split Second has been a fun reading experience and I’m glad I’m able to meet these amazing characters.

Pivot Point by Kasie West

After reading The Distance Between Us, I knew right then and there that I have to read all of Kasie West’s books. I’d actually been eyeing this book for quite some time, but I’m not a great fan of book series and the synopsis didn’t catch my attention, so I put off the idea of reading this book first. However, months had passed and something had been pulling me back so I ended up checking out the book’s summary again. Based on the reviews and ratings I had seen and read, I was finally convinced that this may hold something promising. Hence, I decided to buy this book and its sequel, Split Second, on Book Depository.

Here’s the synopsis from the jacket cover of the book:

 Pivot Point coverKnowing the outcome doesn’t always make a choice easier…

Addison Coleman’s life is one big “What if?” As a Searcher, whenever Addie is faced with a choice, she can look into the future and see both outcomes. It’s the ultimate insurance plan against disaster. Or so she thought. When Addie’s parents ambush her with the news of their divorce, she has to pick who she wants to live with—her father, who is leaving the paranormal compound to live among the “Norms,” or her mother, who is staying in the life Addie has always known. Addie loves her life just as it is, so her answer should be easy. One Search six weeks into the future proves it’s not.

In one potential future, Addie is adjusting to life outside the Compound as the new girl in a Norm high school where she meets Trevor, a cute, sensitive artist who understands her. In the other path, Addie is being pursued by the hottest guy in school—but she never wanted to be a quarterback’s girlfriend. When Addie’s father is asked to consult on a murder in the Compound, she’s unwittingly drawn into a dangerous game that threatens everything she holds dear. With love and loss in both lives, it all comes down to which reality she’s willing to live through… and who she can’t live without.

So, Pivot Point – I do not like it… I FREAKINGLY LOVE IT!!! I pick up this book with no recollection of the summary, so I’m eager to find out how this book would affect me. I’m up for surprises and ready to be involved with the characters. True enough, Pivot Point more than lives up to my expectations. And it definitely gives me one hell of a ride.

Kasie West creatively tackles our never-ending “What If” moments/dilemmas and weaves a beautifully-written story centering this subject matter in the mind of a teenager. The setting goes beyond the ordinary wherein the community where Addie lives, all people utilize 100% of their brains; thus, allowing them to do things ordinary people can’t. Addie has the power to see beyond when presented with two choices. However, Kasie West doesn’t want to simplify the plotline by giving away the answer immediately because at the end of the day, the story boils down to which of the two paths Addie will eventually choose, for these two paths have their own pros and cons.

Pivot Point is told in Addie’s point of view. Caught between her parents’ divorce, Addie has no choice but to choose who she’s going to stay with. It’s not just about between her mom or dad, but it’s also about her life either to continue living in the Compound or start a new life outside, which is the Normal. There, she seeks to use her power. I love how Kasie West formulates her story that there is a smooth transition of how she’s going to introduce Addie’s power to the readers. Once it’s been revealed to us, I’m immediately drawn into it and it’s as if a portal appears and sucks me right into Addie’s two “what if” worlds.

Kasie West narrates Addie’s two possible life scenarios in alternating chapters. Addie’s character is so likeable that I want to be friends with her the moment I met her. I find myself relating easily with Addie and it’s what pushes me to go further into the story and read more. Kasie West definitely succeeds in portraying these two worlds differently that for every cliffhanger she writes per chapter, I become more torn and confused as to which path I’d prefer Addie to choose. Despite the similarity in character involvement of the two worlds, I’m impressed by the drastic change in character development of the characters as the story deepens, more so by how the two possible realities are surprisingly interconnected! It’s no doubt Addie cares for Laila, but it’s another thing when we talk about boys. I’d be in Team Duke at one point, then I’d be in Team Trevor the next, and the switching goes on. As the story progresses, it gets more complicated, but I’m glad my confusion has been resolved after I finish the book. Above all, Addie’s selfless act and sacrifice are what make a great impact on me.

Pivot Point exceeds my expectations and leaves me speechless as I close the book. Reading it in merely two days, I feel that the book will stay with me for as long as I can remember. The book is so addicting and engrossing! I always grab every chance to read it during leisure time and it has me glued to the seat all the way to the end. Kasie West undoubtedly delivers the story well. I’m impressed and amazed by the uniqueness of the plotline. The only thing I regret is that I should have read this sooner. Overall, Pivot Point is highly entertaining with a mixture of suspense and swoon-worthy characters. Now I’m off to read Split Second.