Book Review – The Spark by Vi Keeland

So I read The Spark by Vi Keeland, and as you know, Vi Keeland is one of my new favorite authors. This book was awesome. I loved the Male Main Character, Donovan, he’s dreamy and the perfect guy, as far as I’m concerned. So read on and get to know not only Donovan but Autumn as well.

The Spark by Vi Keeland (2021)

Book Club for Complicated House Plants

Donovan Decker is a lawyer with a complicated past. He accidentally swaps luggage with Autumn Wilde and when they go to switch it back, they end up spending the weekend together. Though they don’t have sex during these couple of days, it’s quite intense for both of them. When Autumn disappears at the end of the weekend without giving Donovan any clue of how to find her.

The story then skips almost 10 months and Donovan’s boss asks him to take a pro-bono case. Since he’s trying to make partner, he begrudgingly accepts the case. When he gets to the precinct, he’s sitting and waiting for the social worker before he can meet with his underage client. When the social worker arrives, it’s Autumn. He’s excited to see her, but not so excited when he finds out that she’s casually seeing his boss.

Graphic made by @TotalBookAddicts and stolen from Pinterest by me

What was your favorite part of the book?
I really enjoyed Donovan. He’s a good guy and I absolutely loved how much he was willing to not only help Storm, his underage client, but actually put him on the right path with resources and by introducing him to Bud, Donovan’s mentor from when he was Storm’s age.

What was your least favorite part?
I kind of hated the pseudo relationship with Donovan’s boss. The guy was kind of an ass and clearly wanted more than Autumn did out of the relationship. It was irritating.

How does this books title work in relation to the books contents?
I think it’s appropriate to the relationship between Donovan and Autumn and their initial weekend together. There is a spark and though Autumn tries to hide from it, she can’t deny it in the end either.

Which characters did you like best? Which did you like least?
My absolutely favorite character is Donovan. The man had a complicated upbringing that you would think make him hard and a little jaded, but it didn’t. He is the sweetest guy, who fights for what he wants, and not in a bad way. He isn’t afraid of having emotions, and though he sounds like the perfect dude, he has some flaws. I even love the quirk that he steals the smaller travel size products that hotels have in their rooms, even though he’s a successful lawyer and doesn’t need them. It’s a throw back to his childhood that he just can’t quite shake.
My least favorite character is Autumn’s ex-boyfriend. I don’t want to go into too much detail about this character, but I got bad vibes from them immediately. There are notes in the margins of my book that detail that I’m having some issues with this character.

What are your thoughts on the books structure? Did it serve the book well?
The book is set up in dual POV, changing with the chapters, though it isn’t always a consistent back and forth. There are sixteen (16) chapters from Autumn’s perspective versus the nineteen (19) from Donovan’s. This structure works great for the story that’s being told. Each chapter is told from first person, which works great to get the emotion of this story, which really makes it.

Are there any character you’d like to deliver a lecture to? If so, who? What would you say?
Autumn’s father. How dare he. How dare he not have his daughter’s back in favor of other people? There’s more I’d want to say to him, but that will be spoilers and I don’t want to do that.
Also Donovan, control your temper darling. While that was heroic, it wasn’t the smartest move. Though I love you for it.

Did you like the heat level of this book?
I did actually. It was steamy for the little bits that we got. I absolutely loved it. Very hot. Especially when read by a fire.

Was the couple’s connection believable?
Look, I believed that they instantly hit it off. I also believe that Autumn is a fool to walk off without a word. Though I get it, I do, but girl. Get it together. You can’t be afraid of the possibility of love forever. Come on. I believe that Donovan is head over heels for the girl that got away, and that once they reconnect, he’s driven by the what could be. The more he finds out about her, the deeper he falls. Autumn, girl. Get it together, he’s amazing.

Would you ever fall for either of the leads?
If you haven’t figured it out yet, yes. I would love a guy like Donovan. He’s amazing for a thousand reasons. And hot dude. Like….my single self would say yes in a moment. For sure.

What is your favorite quote from the book?
“Do you think a kiss can be better than sex?” – Donovan Decker.

Aesthetic Picture from Pinterest for “The Spark” by Vi Keeland

I really liked this book. Steph read it with me, but she never got a chance to finish it, because life. I loved this book. It was easy to read and a fun little romance. If you haven’t read it yet, it’s a good read for by the pool or for late nights or whatever. It’s good and worth it, at least to me.

Star Rating: 4 stars

I gave this book four stars. I loved it, don’t get me wrong, but some of it seemed to drag. Though Donovan was a great character with a great backstory, he deserved a little better. Autumn still had a lot of stuff to work through with her therapist, and maybe should have been doing a little more to work on herself instead of hiding in relationships that would never go anywhere. It’s a self-protection thing, which I get, but girl. Do better.

Heat Rating: 4 Flames

The heat level is only a 4 as well. There weren’t a lot of graphic scenes, since Autumn spends most of the book dating Donovan’s boss. But dude. That kiss at the party….ooo….I had to fan myself. It was hot. Every time they do have a moment like that, it’s just as steamy. It deserves this rating. If there had been more, it would have gotten more, but what was there, worked for the story.

Aesthetic Picture for The Spark by Vi Keeland stolen from Pinterest.

Well, that’s all we have for today. Check out The Spark by Vi Keeland and tune in next week for another book review from the Book Club for Complicated House Plants. <3.

As always, be safe, drink your water, don’t eat yellow snow, and have amazing adventures!

Bye Bye Butterfly!

Setting Preview: The Librarie

This week we are talking about The Librarie. This is the fictional bookstore and Cafe that Ailee Creed and Marlowe Lark manage in the Short Story Saturday series Port Shadeau. I kind of hope you guys love it as much as I do.

Many years ago I read a series by Nora Roberts about these women who live on an island and it still is one of my favorite series. My mom loaned it to me and I remember looking at her and telling her that I wanted the bookstore from the story. It had a cafe upstairs and it was also a metaphysical shop and I wanted to live there. So, when I was gathering inspiration for Port Shadeau, I found this picture of a bookstore somewhere and I knew that I wanted a cafe bookstore combination.

Now, to prevent copywrite and all of that, I changed it up. A cafe/bookstore isn’t a new idea so that wasn’t the problem, but making sure it didn’t resemble the one I read about a long time ago was essential. So, I set about creating the perfect environment.

It’s two stories, with the Cafe on the first floor near the back of the shop, and there are bookshelves that line the walls. There are new books, used books, a spiral staircase to get to the second floor where there are a few scattered chairs and small couches where you can read and sip your latte. It’s got brick walls and gorgeous windows for plenty of natural light. There’s a wonderful mixture of used books, and new releases, and several wonderful gifts for book lovers and coffee lovers alike.

Marlowe takes great pride in keeping the bookstore easy to navigate but also giving off the vibe of an old forgotten bookstore that you’d find down some alley in Europe, with books piled high not just on the shelves, but scattered on tables, placed carefully on carts, and any bibliophile would love to enter here. I want to go and it doesn’t exist. The smell of old books mixing pleasantly with the smell of freshly roasted coffee beans. It sounds like a sanctuary to me. There’s even a section of the store that’s more like a little library, you can check out the book rather than buy it. It’s wonderful. I kind of want to open this place now.

Can you imagine it? Spending hours wandering the aisles, looking for a long forgotten story that calls out to you. sinking into a comfortable couch and losing time while you read and drink a delicious cup of coffee or tea? I can. And I want to go there, like now.

What does your dream bookstore look like?
Have a great week guys!

2k21 Reading List

When I was in high school, I could devour 3 novels in a week in addition to school, sports, chores, and friends. I was also writing at that time. On deployment, I was reading a book every week or so. Now, being a single parent of two teens, writing, working, going to school, and trying to balance what free time I have with friends and family, there isn’t enough time in my life to read books. I read a lot of fanfiction, but not many books. I hate that. So, one of my goals this year is to create a reading list and read at least half of it.

Because everything in my life is split into quarters, just cause it’s easier to look at a three month block rather than the whole year, I have done the same with my reading list. There are sixteen books, mostly from the genre I’m trying to write for and some just because I wanted to read them. So, check out my reading list for 2k21 below and I will explain a little why I chose each book.

Keep in mind that while I chose these sixteen books for the year, I had so much trouble figuring out how to organize these sixteen into four books a quarter, so I asked for help from my best friend. She decided, the only two requirements that I had were,
1. Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes had to be in the first quarter since I’ve already started that one.
2. Don’t put Midnight Sun in the last quarter because I got it for Christmas and I’m super excited to read it.

Those were the only two requirements that I had. Pele didn’t know what most of them were about, so her decisions were based solely on the cover art. It was an interesting way to do it, but I kind of like the way it came out.

For information on what the book is about, click the title of the story and it will take you to the corresponding page on Goodreads. That way you’d get what they were about from the book blurb themselves. Now, the reasons why I chose them, that’s all me. They are listed by quarter, but in no particular order within that quarter.

Quarter One Reading List
(January – March)

From Blood and AshJennifer L. Armentrout

I chose this book because it seemed like a really good read. I love the idea of being forced into one role when you really want something else. Add in that the world hangs in the balance, um, yes please! I cannot wait to read this one and find out what happens to Poppy, why she was chosen as the Maiden, or why the guard, Hawke, gets under her skin so badly. This has disaster all over it and I am so there!

Manners and Monsters – Tilley Wallace

When I made my list of reads for the year, there were twelve books. This one, was one that Amazon recommended to me, and after reading the description, I was all in. Thus, my reading list grew just a tiny bit. I am so excited for this read.
1. I LOVE (and I do mean LOVE) historical romance. My favorite book ever is Pride and Prejudice. And this, this is a historical piece.
2. Monsters and the Ton….I am so excited.

This is but the first in a series and I cannot wait. Mystery, Monsters, the Ton, historical….This read is going to be amazing!

A Discovery of Witches – Deborah Harkness

Okay, who hasn’t heard of this series yet? It’s a got a TV series, and it’s rumored to be an amazing story. It’s been on my reading list for a while now, so when I put together the list for this year, it just had to be on it. I am so excited! The ads make this story seem like something right up my alley. Witches, Vampires, a governing body, rules, laws….. um, yes. I cannot wait to dive into this and honestly, as excited as I am about the other two books, I will most likely read this one as soon as I’m done with Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes – Suzanne Collins

I am a HUGE fan of the Hunger Games series. I loved the books, I loved the movies (until we get to district 13 but that’s a different story). I loved it. So when Suzanne Collins said she was going to release another book from that world, I didn’t care what the subject matter was, I had to have it. It was loaned to me by a friend at Christmas and I was so excited to read it, I started immediately. So far I am in love, but you’ll have to wait until I get done.

Quarter Two Reading List
(April – June)

Shadow of the Fox – Julie Kagawa

I specifically looked up books that have Kitsune’s. This book was at the top of the recommendations, and after reading the synopsis, I added it to the list. I’m not sure how I’m going to like it yet, but I know it sounds awesome. Since I’m writing about Kitsune’s and they aren’t featured too often in literature, I thought it might be nice to see how someone else does it. I’m excited about the opportunity. Add in a samurai and the fight for survival, I am almost always hooked.

The Blacksmith Queen G. A. Aiken

This story, again, came from a recommendation from a list that I read. This one, however, caught my attention because of the characters. The main character, her name is Kelley Smythe. And as my spell check just tried to remind me, my last name is Smyth. No E. I had to read it. Especially since it actually sounds like a really great story. A sister trying drastically to save her younger sibling from the Royal family all because of a prophecy? Sounds like a great adventure. I’m down.

The Vampire Debt – Ali Winters

This book was on my reading list back in the fall, before my life fell apart and reading was something I just couldn’t fathom. So, it’s back on the list this year. This one actually was recommended by my editor and I can’t wait to get to read it. I think I started it, and got a couple of pages in before disaster struck so I’m super excited to actually get to read it this time. Vampires, that was all I needed to know. Combine with that the description I first read had the line “It’s a truth universally acknowledged that a single vampire in possession of a great fortune must be in want of a mortal snack.” Or something to that effect and I was sold. Every time. Never fails.

Mother of Shadows – Meg Anne

This is the first book in a series and as always, that intrigues me. The idea that a simply prophecy can change everything makes me happy. How many of these are self-fulfilling? I can’t help it, I’m a sucker for them. I want to know so much about this world, the description has my writer brain tingling for the world building and the reader in me anxious for the story. I can’t wait to read this one.

Quarter Three Reading List
(July – September)

The Courier’s Tale – Peter Walker

I have already mentioned that I love historical romance. I am fascinated by Henry VIII. I have read almost every Phillipa Gregory book out there. This story, is actually about the couriers who took the kings messages back and forth from London to the Vatican when he was requesting his divorce. It’s super on the list and I cannot wait to read it.

Darklight – Bella Forrest

A world where Vampire’s were extinct and then the aftermath of that….sign me up. This was another one that got added to the list late. I cannot wait to read this. it’s going to be really good. The never ending struggle to find balance in the fight between good and evil. Dude, yes. I am excited to read this one.

Kingdom of the Wicked – Kerri Maniscalco

Streghe, Princes of Hell, a murder, AND it’s presented by James Patterson? That is literally all I needed to know. This was an easy choice for the list. I used to think that I didn’t like mystery too much, but then I started examining the books I read, and well, apparently I do, as long as there is some sort of magical element to it. Go figure. This looks really good and since it’s from the author of Stalking Jack the Ripper, which didn’t make it to my reading list but according to the reviews I read, was fantastic. I am so excited to meet this author on the page.

Midnight Sun – Stephanie Meyer

Do I really need to explain this one? I read Twilight, and while I found a whole host of problems with the writing, the story wasn’t a horrible idea. I loved it enough to read all four books. I knew about this when it got leaked…but I didn’t read it. (I feel like leaked work is the property of the author and as a fellow writer, I would hate if that happened to me. So out of respect I didn’t read it). I also love Vampires. I can’t wait to see if Edward is portrayed as the Sociopath I believed him to be in the original series. I’m so excited for this.

(And Pele’s dark sense of humor strikes again. This book isn’t in the last quarter as requested, but it isn’t anywhere near the first half of the year either. Conclusion: My best friend is a troll.)

Quarter Four
(October – December)

Casually Cursed – Kimberly Frost

This is another book that was on the list from October that I regretfully didn’t get to. So, it’s back on the list as well. I picked it up at Dollar General and I liked the idea of it. Apparently it’s part of a series called The Southern Witch Novels. I’m not sure what that means, I haven’t read it, so I’m looking forward to actually get this off of my TBR list.

Chosen Ones – Veronica Roth

When I picked this up at the store, I generally had no idea what it was about or anything like that. This was one of those impulse buys because of the Author. I loved the Divergent series about as much as I loved the Hunger Games. I read them really close together and loved the different stories. Veronica Roth created such a wonderful story. The writing was fantastic and I was drawn into the story quickly. I didn’t know what this was about but I assumed it would be the same. Once again, there’s a prophecy rearranging people lives and turning them on their heads. I love the idea of examining what happens to the “chosen ones” after their big battle. After they’ve done what they were supposed to do. What do they do now? I love that this tells us what happens next. I honestly cannot wait to read this.

The Awakening – Nora Roberts

1. I love Nora Roberts
2. One of my favorite series ever is one of her trilogies.
3. Dragons.
4. Picking this was the simplest decision ever.

House of Earth and Blood – Sarah J. Maas

Like both Veronica Roth and Nora Roberts, I love Sarah J. Maas. The three of them make up over half of my top 5 modern author list actually. Go figure…
So when I saw this story, it was another of those no brainer things. Angels, murder, Fallen Angels, and Demons….. seriously, how do you look at that and go, “mmm, nope.”

Right. You don’t.

I’m hoping to finish out the year with some well loved authors since the last part of the year is always the busiest for me with NaNoWriMo, my kids’ birthday, Halloween, Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Years…you get it. It’s busy. So, well loved authors will be like a hug at the end of busy days.

What’s on your reading list this year? How did you pick the titles you wanted to? Let me know what you think! Have a great day guys!