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The Caffeinated Diva reads...

Hi, my name is Kim and I am addicted to books. See? I can admit it!! 

The Diabolic

The Diabolic - S.J. Kincaid

The Diabolic is the first in a new series of the same name by author S.J. Kincaid. The book is science fiction in every sense of the world. It takes place in the distant future that in no way resembles are own. The power structure is an Empire and it is based on a sun religion. The Grandoliloqy are the nobility of the empire and control all of the technology, and thus all of the people, within the empire.


The theme of religion and science/technology is key to this story, as is the questioning of what it means to be human. Just as in real life, ideologies differ and cause fracturing. Nemesis, a genetically created girl, has one purpose for her existence… to protect her master, Sidonia. Diabolics are stronger than the average humor and bred to feel no love or loyalty to anyone beyond their master. Her mission puts her into the middle of the growing galactic unease in unexpected ways.


Prior to reading this, I saw a lot of complaints about different aspects of the story. One was the seemingly senseless brutality. Yes, there is a lot of brutality. But I didn’t find it to be unnecessary. I thought it was very much in keeping with the Diabolic concept. Emotions breed compassion and without it, brutality happens. It was entirely appropriate for the nature of the characters.


Another complaint was about Nemesis herself, and her character’s emotional journey. She was genetically enhanced to be something more than human, or at least something different. She was bred to be virtually emotionless. As I mentioned earlier, her character explores what it is to be human. I think many people saw her as a genetically different being than human, whereas I saw her as an enhanced human. Love and compassion and empathy are vital human emotions that, given the opportunity, will rise. This is why I loved her changing nature.


Overall:  I really loved this book. When I got it, I thought it was a standalone, but I am happy that it is going to be a trilogy. Can’t wait!

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Just Juliet

Just Juliet - Charlotte Reagan

Just Juliet is one of those novels that just left me with mixed feelings. It is a story that has promise and a cast of diverse and what could be interesting characters. There were moments when I felt like the story was rich and engaging, and other moments that felt flat to me. I think some of that feeling was due to the fact that there really wasn’t a lot of conflict involved. There were moments, yes, but most of the true conflict occurred for supporting characters before this story even began.


That being said, as characters, I liked Scott, Lena, and Juliet. They were believable characters. Lakyn was not the most likable character, but definitely the most legitimately tragic and probably one of the most believable in the book. Lacey was a little over-the-top with her lack of compassion and self-proclaimed bitchiness. Matt, Georgia, and most of the other supporting characters just seemed to fade into the background.


Overall:  All in all, not my favorite read. I think it had promise, but it just didn’t work for me.

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Everything, Everything

Everything, Everything - Nicola Yoon

Everything, Everything is the debut novel from author Nicola Yoon. It is the story of a girl named Madeline who hasn’t left her house in over seventeen years. She has SCID, an autoimmune disease that is very rare and leaves her allergic to just about anything and everything. Her entire world is her mom and a nurse named Carla who is truly her only “in real life” friend. But then a family moves into the house next door and suddenly her world has expanded to include Olly. And that makes her want more than the walls of the home that has always been her prison.


There is nothing not to love about this book. Madeline’s character is tragic, but she is smart and has learned to make a life for herself. It may not be filled with the adventure she craves, but she has found a way to live with it. But even with this life-threatening disease, she is still a teenage girl with crushes and everything else that goes along with that. Olly’s character is just as tragic, with a life that is less than ideal, with problems of his own. Yet somehow, the two form a bond that is at times funny, at times heart-wrenching.


There is no question that this is an emotional read. Their individual stories can pull at your heart strings, make you alternately sad and mad. But there is also a lot of sweetness and a lot of smart humor. It is a romance, to be sure, but it is also a coming-of-age story with a lot of twists.


I loved the uniqueness of the book, from the diversity of the characters to the format of the book itself. Instead of the all-American white girl, Madeline is multiracial, part Japanese and part black. And the format was interesting, chapters interspersed with sketches, diary entries, medical logs, IMs, and emails. It was a little bit of extra narrative that was really a big part of bringing them both to life for the reader.


Overall:  I can’t deny that I ended the book in tears last night. And this morning? A very definite hangover. This is an amazing read that I recommend from the bottom of my heart!

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Fireworks Frappe

Fireworks Frappe (Cupid's Coffeeshop Book 7) - Courtney Hunt

Fireworks Frappe is the 7th novella in the Cupid’s Coffeeshop series. This installment is the love story of Ava, the twin sister of Amy whom we met in an earlier novella. She has come home after years away for her sister’s wedding and is dreading it. As it always seems to happen, when you are already down, life kicks you yet again. And this is true for Ava.


I liked this story… right up until a point near the end. And that’s where it lost me a little. It went from 0 to 60 in the span of a paragraph or two. But it was still a sweet love story.


Overall:  While it wasn’t my favorite of the series, it is still a fun read and I am ready for the next!

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Berries and Cream Chai

Berries and Cream Chai (Cupid's Coffeeshop Book 6) - Courtney Hunt

Berries and Cream Chai is the 6th novella in the Cupid’s Coffeeshop series.  It is the first one in which one of the three coffeeshop owner’s is the focus of the love story.  It is Joe’s turn to find love, the diehard bachelor who has never had a serious relationship.  His story is like a lot of our own, burned by love badly enough to not believe in it any more.  But for him, the love that burned him wasn’t his own romance, but that of his parents.  That’s something I can understand.  So his story was really one that I found relatable and inspiring.


Joe has spent his adult life living like a nomad.  No roots, no ties.  Living in the moment from one adventure to the next, never staying in one place for very long.  At least, not until his grandmother’s will forced a change.  But even though he is abiding by her terms, if only for his cousins, he is aching to get back on the road.  But that was before he met Molly who changes everything for him.  Molly has a story of her own that leads her to upend her life in order to find new happiness.  The two of them together is really a sweet love story.


Overall:  I think this is my favorite of the series so far.  I really like Joe and his story and, while it was a bit instalovey, I felt like it worked for a character like Joe’s.  A great addition to the series!

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Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology - Rebecca Paley, Leah Remini

I started watching Leah Remini’s documentary on A&E about Scientology and have been fascinated with it. I have a self-admitted fascination with how different faiths work, especially those of a more controversial nature. It was what led me to the library to find this book. And I haven’t been able to put it down since.


One of the things I most appreciate about this book is that Remini doesn’t try to portray herself as anyone other than who she is. She doesn’t clean it up for a book. She presents her story as if she were telling it to you over a cup of coffee, f-bombs and all. And she presents it with truth and honesty, not only describing her issues with the church, but putting her faults and those of her loved ones with equal measure. There are no holds barred and that really gave legitimacy to what she had to say.


The book is about her experience with Scientology and that with Hollywood. For her, the two experiences have been largely entwined. There really was no line separating Scientology from any other part of her life. Her career, her family, her friends, even her marriage… all highly dictated and controlled by her church. It is an eye-opening read.


Overall:  No matter what your personal thoughts or beliefs, this is a fascinating read. It is honest, deep, and sometimes very dark. I highly recommend this book if you are looking for an intense personal story.

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Cafe Au Lait

Cafe Au Lait (Cupid's Coffeeshop Book 5) - Courtney Hunt

Cafe Au Lait is the 5th novella in the Cupid’s Coffeeshop series. This one centered around Kennedy and the literal boy next door, Alex. Alex also happened to be the younger brother of one of Kennedy’s best friends, which added a nice little bit of awkwardness to the story.


All of these novels center around a coffee shop in Ashford Falls, known for its part in creating love that is usually unexpected for those involved. Kennedy has known Alex since childhood, but he’s always been off-limits. But now he’s back and she can’t avoid what’s right in front of her. Alex.


Overall:  While I like the idea that it is never too late to find love with someone, this one was a little instalovey for me. I loved the characters, but I would have liked a little more of the romance right along with the steaminess. But it was still a fun read and I am ready for the next!

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Cherry Blossom Cappuccino

Cherry Blossom Cappuccino (Cupid's Coffeeshop Book 4) - Courtney Hunt

Cherry Blossom Cappuccino is the fourth novella in the Cupid’s Coffeshop series and may be my favorite so far. This one focuses on Ruby and Jefferson, both of them long lost loves from fifty years earlier. This is the epitome of “second chance” romance and I loved it!


They met and fell in love in a time when a woman truly had to make a choice between career and family. And Ruby chose career, and while she loved her life, there was an empty space in her heart that Jefferson had once filled. Jefferson went on and made a life for himself, married and had children and grandchildren, but he never forgot Ruby.


I loved this book because it was about the endurance of real love, about making choices and living with the consequences. It was about those rare moments that we sometimes get that offer a second chance. And it was about how hard it can be to leap blindly at those second chances and start a new life.


Overall:  This was my favorite novella so far! The love isn’

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Lucky Latte

Lucky Latte (Cupid's Coffeeshop Book 3) - Courtney Hunt

Lucky Latte is the third novel in the Cupid’s Coffeeship series and one that left me with mixed feelings. This one centers around Claire and her coworker Grayson, who swooped in from out of town and stole the job Claire wanted for herself. And for Claire, who lives and breathes work, this was a deal breaker. But when she finds herself in need of a fake boyfriend for her sister’s wedding, he swoops in again and offers to save the day. Maybe Grayson isn’t so bad after all.


The pressure that was put on Claire by her family to have a man annoyed me a little. It was as if her life couldn’t possibly be complete if she didn’t have a husband and that is a concept that really rubs me the wrong way. But as I got to know the family, it made a little more sense. And old Irish family with a matriarch that supposedly had less than modern beliefs about the proper life of a young woman. My other issue was Grayson’s approach to Claire. He basically tried to take over an important client in payment for doing Claire a favor. I didn’t like the idea of professional blackmail of a woman and that really got under my skin. And given that, the biggest sticking point for me was the speed with which they got intimate. Considering that he had basically steamrolled her, it just didn’t seem realistic that she would be so willing to be so intimate.


Overall:  While this wasn’t my favorite of the series so far, it was still a good read and I will keep on reading the series. I think my complaints are probably more personal and that shouldn’t deter anyone from reading this romance.

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Love and First Sight

Love and First Sight - Josh Sundquist

Love and First Sight is the first I’ve read by author Josh Sundquist.  I read it in less than a day because I just couldn’t put it down.  It is a gripping story with fabulous characters and an even ore fabulous story.


So much of YA fiction focuses on girls so I was happy to read this novel, one that focuses on a guy.  Will is not your average teenage guy, either.  He is blind and has spent most of his life sheltered from the visual world.  He has always gone to a school for the blind, and much to his mother’s distress, he has chosen to spread his wings and prove to her that he can thrive in the rest of the world, too.


The descriptions of the world as Will “sees” it are vivid and they only become more vivid after Will undergoes surgery.  The author really captures his journey and all of the emotionally charged aspects of it.  The emotional side of it all is something I never would have considered before reading Will’s story and it really was eye-opening.


The story is a wonderful blend of humor, stark reality, and adult choices.  It is as much a story of friendship as it is one of growth and coming of age.  It is also a story that makes you think.  Being in Will’s head makes you, as a person with sight, see the world in a different way.  It made me reconsider friendship and honesty and how differently even non-vision-related issues can be experienced by someone without sight.  And as Will goes through the experience of having to make a potentially life-altering decision, it made me think about all the implications of that kind of choice.  Choices that seem like easy ones on the surface, but really aren’t.  I enjoy a book that forces me to take another look at life and see it from an entirely different perspective.



This is a great read that will make you think.  The story is incredibly engaging and it is one that I won’t forget for a long time.  This is a book I highly recommend!

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Cupid's Kiss

Cupid's Kiss (Cupid's Coffeeshop Book 2) - Courtney Hunt

Cupid's Kiss is the second novella in the Cupid's Coffeeshop series by Courtney Hunt. Valentina is a Valentine's Day Grinch, which is particularly unfortunate for her as she owns a card store. She's surrounded by declarations of love for weeks on end, further souring her mood. She's been burned and she has no intention of ever allowing that to happen again. No matter how gorgeous the delivery man may be.

The stories in this series are short, but they deliver. The romance in this one is a little less instalove than the first, as the two protagonists have known each other for awhile. And Val is a character that I can definitely relate to. She is a character that I think all of us can relate to, having been in her position at some point in our lives. She's been hurt and it's left her not only cynical and bitter, but also a little rusty on trusting her own instincts and heart. The chemistry between Val and Mac has been there for awhile, even if she didn't want to admit it. I think that, too, is a place that most of us have been in at some point.

Overall: If I had a complaint, it would be that I wish it had been longer. I really liked Val and I would have liked to see more of her. But overall, the novellas in this series are quick, enjoyable reads!

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A Thousand Pieces of You

A Thousand Pieces of You - Claudia Gray

You remember how your parents always told you not to judge a book by it's cover? I didn't listen and I am glad I didn't. I realize I am late to the game in reading this, but just reading the blurb told me that I wanted to wait until all three books were out. It was a good decision because the book hangover I would have had without the next on hand would have been bad!


The story centers around Marguerite Caine, the daughter of two scientists. They, along with their grad students, have created a device that allows the consciousness to jump from reality to reality. The Firebird is revolutionary and it's existence has wide-ranging implications in scientific knowledge or discovery. But there are those who want its technology for less altruistic reasons.


This is a story that flawless weaves scientific theory with the imagination. It is also a story that makes you think about the idea of life being a series of random events instead of fate, the reality that there are countless possibilities over the course of our lives, each one of which could change our lives in unimaginable ways. Imagine a reality existing alongside your own, each reality formed because of a single moment of decision. Imagine that existing for every person. It's mind boggling and it really makes you consider the ramifications of even the smallest of choices.


It is a perfect blend of mystery, thriller, adventure, romance, and thought-provoking writing. Marguerite and the two grad students who helped work on the Firebird (Paul and Theo) are involved in an ever-changing triangle as she tries to unweave the mystery that surrounds her father's death. From moment to moment, defining good versus evil was next to impossible. And even when snippets of those things were revealed, the lines were blurred. Sometimes even the "bad" guys have good intentions. But the lines get even more blurry when you add in the infinite versions of a single person within a multiverse.


The story takes place through different dimensions and, because of that, we get to know the characters from a different perspective. All of the dimensions exist within the same time and the differences between them can be subtle or they can be huge. At one point, they find themselves in London, in a world far more technologically advanced than our home world. From there, they travel to another part of the world that seems to be a century or more behind. It is these kinds of juxtapositions that make you, as a reader, think about how the choices we make can change everything.


Overall: This is really a fantastic read! I absolutely adore a book that makes me question things I thought I knew. Definitely a must read novel!

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Java Frost

Java Frost (Cupid's Coffeeshop Book 1) - Courtney Hunt Java Frost is the first in Courtney Hunt's Cupid's Coffeeshop series. Every month features a new novella and a new happily ever after. And Java Frost is a great start to the series! The book opens with Joe, Patrick, and Zooey, who have recently inherited the coffee shop from their recently passed grandmother as part of a unique provision. They have one year to work together to make it a success. But even though the story opens on the three of them, and although they are sprinkled throughout the story, the story's focus is really on Amy and Ben and Ben's daughter Livvy. Amy is a fun-loving woman that is full of life. She is also one of Livvy's preschool teachers and Livvy adores her. But Ben is a different kind of guy. He loves his daughter, but his world is science. He wants to connect to Livvy, to make her laugh and giggle, but just doesn't know how. Ben and Amy couldn't be more different people and that's what makes the story work. What also made the story work for me was Ben's obvious devotion to his little girl. I love seeing that kind of father portrayed in fiction, especially romantic fiction. Overall This is a quick read, but one I really liked. Sometimes the love theme doesn't work in a novella, becoming too instalove for my taste. But I didn't feel like this was the case with Java Frost. Yes, it was fast, but somehow it just fit with the different personalities. Right time, right place! And with just enough steaminess to keep it real. I definitely recommend this one for anyone who is looking for a quick bite with an HEA!
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The Christmas Wish

The Christmas Wish: All I Want for ChristmasFirst Impressions - Nora Roberts

This book is a collection of two novellas, All I Want for Christmas and First Impressions. Both of these are previously released novellas that had been packaged with other holiday bundles by the author.


All I Want for Christmas

This was a cute read, full of the holiday theme. Mac's twin boys, Zach and Zeke, are in the market for a new mother. And, of course, hilarity ensues as they plot and scheme to make that happen. What is most heartwarming about this novella is their total belief in Christmas magic. It might be a little predictable, but that is to be expected in a holiday read!


First Impressions

The second novella is a little longer and tells the story of Vance and Shane. There is a little more meat to this story and that made me enjoy the story just a little more. The story went beyond just the romance and delved into some other darker issues that made it feel just a little more realistic. However, calling this a holiday romance might be a little bit of a stretch. The only real "holiday" moment came when they got a tree!


Overall: As with most holiday-themed novellas, the stories are a tad predictable. The first story was definitely in the sweet category, a fun read with a happy ending. The second one had some instalove, which is something I usually hate, but it was offset by the darker elements of the story. All in all, it was probably my favorite of the two. I love Nora Roberts, and while these were not my favorites of her books, they were still an enjoyable holiday read!

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The Bookshop on the Corner

The Bookshop on the Corner - Jenny Colgan

I don't read a lot of contemporary romance, but every now and then, one grabs me and won't let go.  This was one of those novels and it was an impulse buy that I am extremely glad I made.  I was initially taken by the cover as it sat on the shelf in my local PX.  I had time to kill and no book with me, so I picked it up and settled into Starbucks and was immediately lost.  In the foreword.  Yes, the foreword.  It was smart and funny and it set the tone for the whole novel.


The novel is set in the United Kingdom, first Britain and then Scotland.  I'm from northern New York and living in Hawaii, but I felt like I was transported to the Highlands of Scotland.  Colgan's writing is so perfectly descriptive that I saw everything Nina saw.  It made me feel as if I were a participant in the story, rather than a far off observer.


Nina is a librarian who is forced to find a new way to make a living when her library closes to consolidate with another in a cost-saving measure.  She is left not only without a job, but feeling as if the printed word was a dying breed.  But it is enough of an impetus to make her throw caution to the wind and follow her dreams of owning her own little bookshop.  But, as is the trend in her life presently, none of her plans go through as they were supposed to and her life moves in totally different directions.  That theme, the idea of life throwing you a curve, is something I think that all readers can relate to on some level.  The idea of having to uproot everything you've known and find a new identity... ideas that are scary for all of us.  But that is what Nina does and it's a story that is truly engaging.


And the romance... that is something rather new for Nina, something she is not entirely comfortable with.  And all of a sudden, there is more than one man in her life.  Her former coworker Griffin confesses to his interest in her, which, although she doesn't return it, gives her a spark of confidence.  Then there is Marek, the exotic Soviet train worker she meets in the middle of the most unexpected moment.  Their romance blossoms, a sweet romance that shows promise.  And then there is Lennox, her surly (but gorgeous) landlord with a trainload of baggage of his own.  The twists and turns her love story takes are just as engaging as the rest of the story.


One of my favorite parts of the book, beyond the overflow of book love, was a subplot involving a teenage girl.  That story is poignant and tugs at the heartstrings in so many ways.


I think the most eye opening moment for Nina, which really hit me, was a a moment when she is driving down the main street of her new home and sees just about everyone in sight reading.  That scene was everything that I believe to be true about books and it was a great bit!

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A List of Cages

A List of Cages - Robin Roe

A List of Cages is beautifully written, telling the story of two boys whose lives have crossed once again.  Their lives have intersected at times of pain and sorrow, but it is their unlikely friendship that changes both of their lives.  This is a novel that will stick with you for a very long time, one that gives you all of the feels from the very first page.


It is a sad yet beautiful story that really resonated with me.  There were some moments as I read when I just felt like my heart would break.  The story told was often not a happy one, but it is a powerful one and one that is all too real for too many people.  Roe writes it with a brush of reality that makes the story that much more important and relevant.


What I enjoyed most with the depth of the story.  There was a variety of important issues woven into the story and those were presented with all of the rawness that is their reality.  The value of family and friends.  Dealing with ADHD.  The reality of the foster system.  The loss of family and loved ones.  Child abuse.  All of these things exist and I loved that the author didn't shy away from addressing the darker aspects of reality.


This is a powerful and important read that I would recommend for everyone, young adults and adults alike.

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