I am a big fan of Kate Bloomfield. 
I first read her Fire Mage Trilogy, and absolutely adored it.
Anyone that is brave enough to put themselves out there as an independent, self-published author, with a fantastic fantasy story, no less, deserves serious praise. On top of being an imaginative author, Kate is also a graphic designer, and creates the gorgeous covers for all of her novels herself (with a little help from fantabulous Photoshop, and pre-made images, of course - but still - I can't do that. Can you?)! 
Alpha Girl is Kate's fifth novel (quick blurb of previous novels: Passing as Elias, Frost Arch, Flamethroat, & Falling Ashes). The Fire Mage Trilogy (all the novels that begin with "F" in the above list) is set in a richly imagined fantasy world. Passing as Elias is set in 18th century England. Alpha Girl is set in our modern times. I like that the same author can effectively write stories in all three settings.

Anyhoo, enough gushing about Kate and her other novels - on to the review! ;)

Alpha Girl, unlike Kate's previous Fire Mage Trilogy, is not a Young Adult novel. It is more of a coming-of-age story. It has adult themes, such as a controversial relationship between a nearly-18-year-old girl and her 32-year-old teacher, as well as cursing and sex. I knew all of this going in. I was given a complimentary copy of the book in exchange for my honest review, and the author made the content of the book very clear in her email to me. There is also a blurb about it in the opening pages of the novel, which would appear in the downloaded eBook sample, if one tried that. 

Rose Goldman is just a few months shy of her eighteenth birthday. She is wildly unpopular in her tiny town of Halfway. She was mauled and scarred by a wild animal as a child, and now, hiding her resulting "sickness" from the world doesn't help her win many friends. In fact, the other kids at her school frequently mock her for smelling like a wet dog, though she tries her hardest to make sure she never does.
Enter a handsome new teacher, Mr. Stone, whom Rose seems inexplicably drawn to. She knows it's socially unacceptable to "befriend" a teacher, but she can't seem to stay away, and he seems attracted to her as well. She wonders if it's just her lovesick, infatuated mind playing tricks on her, but he eventually admits he has feelings for her as well, though he is deeply conflicted. 
I felt that the author handled this situation with some tact, since Mr. Stone makes it clear several times that he will not have anything to do with her, because of teacher-student ethics. Something seemingly beyond their control, though, keeps bringing them together.  Everywhere they go, the other one seems to turn up as well. Pretty soon, it doesn't seem fair to ignore their growing attraction any longer. 

{Aside: I felt that Rose was every bit an angsty teenager. Her insecurities and intense jealousy definitely peg her as a teen emotionally, though she feels (like all seventeen-year-olds do) that she is very much an 'adult.' Though her parents have taken care of her and her "condition" for years, albeit that they have been somewhat inattentive at other times, I felt that they were treated unfairly by Rose. During the entire book, she downplays their role in her life, and it almost felt that it was just an excuse to not have them be a roadblock in her adult life for the rest of the series. 
Now, I'm not knocking her for being said angsty teenager. That is her role in the book. This is a YA novel. I'm just saying that, as a parent, those things slightly annoyed me. ;) }

Enter skeevy outcasts that were some of Rose's only 'friends', her absentee parents who butt in at the most inopportune time, and fairytale lore that one hopes can not be true in this universe, and you've got the beginning of one promising paranormal fantasy adventure. 

I can't wait to read book 2.

Once again - LOVE Kate Bloomfield. I did, however, feel like Alpha Girl might have been a little rushed. Some of the sentences felt disjointed, and there were a few words that were spelled correctly, but were the wrong version of the word (these were few and far between). That said, I overlooked them, and enjoyed the book. :)


Publication Date: March 25th, 2013

OVERALL 4 OUT OF 5 STARS:
Content-4
Writing-4
Editing-4
eBook Layout/Formatting (on Kindle Fire)-5
Overall Enjoyability-4

Do I recommend it? Yes
Would I read it again? Yes, I'll read it again when book #2 in the Wolflings series comes out Sept 1, 2013. 

To easily find all of Kate's books listed here, Check 'Em Out on Amazon!


 
 
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Lake Benson grew up in a hippy commune and escaped by "selling out" to the government (according to his parents) by joining the military as soon as he was able. Now, he's out, and heading to Invertary to rescue his wayward little sister, Rainne, who can't seem to keep the lingerie store she bought from bleeding his investment money.
Kirsty Campbell is a former lingerie model whose past has scarred her so that she feels she must stay covered from head to toe, though she owns her own lingerie shop in Invertary, across the street from Rainne. 

Sparks fly when Lake declares "war" on the shop across the street, because small-town Invertary is not big enough for the two of them. 

The sexual tension is thick, snarky banter hilarious, and sidekick Betty incorrigibly loveable. A fun read (like watching a cute rom-com in your head) for a lazy Saturday afternoon.

Every few pages, there were layout issues where a few sentences would randomly be repeated, which was distracting, but the final eBook copy may be fixed by then.

Publication Date: June 1st, 2013


OUT OF 5 STARS:
Content-4
Writing-5
Editing-5
eBook Layout/Formatting (on Kindle Fire)-(Please note that this was an ARC, sent as a document to my Kindle, so the final eBook layout could be different.) 3
Overall Enjoyability-4

Do I recommend it? Yes
Would I read it again? Yes, it was fun! ;)

 
 
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So this…quite an intriguing cover, eh? It just calls to you - to open it up and reveal what’s hidden inside. It almost makes me want to buy a hardback, paper copy. Almost. ;)

I have been putting off writing this review. First, I wanted to thoroughly digest my reaction to this book. I took several days to mull over the story before I let myself finish it. I wanted to analyze my personal reactions from different angles before I shouted them out for all the world to hear. Each of our different experiences color the lenses that we view our own personal world with. I wanted to pinpoint and recognize mine.

Secondly, after several days had passed, I honestly did not want to delve back in to what I had felt. I cried when I finished this novel. I pondered over it in the shower, whilst doing the dishes, walking the dog, and any other mundane activity where you're alone with your thoughts.
I even went so far as to sit down on several nights with my trusty Kindle, this blog, and my thoughts, but always ended up directing my time somewhere else.

Childhood sweethearts Chloe and Nate Sinclair live what seems to be a comfortable life. As adults, they fulfilled their childhood fantasy of owning a bookstore, and spend their days discussing their favorite works of literature over tea. 
One thing that they never discuss, however, is their tumultuous past.
Chloe and Nate lived a Romeo and Juliet type of affair when they were just teens. They hatched a plan to get Nate and his sisters away from their abusive father, but it never came to fruition as tragedy struck before it could come to pass. It was a tragedy that ripped away the very fabric of their lives, and everything that they held dear. Chloe and Nate held on tightly to each other, as they were all each other had left, but forgiveness was not something easily given, and bitterness slowly split them apart.
Chloe arrives home one day to find Nate mysteriously missing, with only a treasured copy of "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" as a clue. Inside the book is a message written out in the secret code of their childhood. As Chloe unravels the code, she discovers the mystery hiding behind the man she thought she knew so well. This discovery leads her back to her husband's estranged family, and the shocking truth that nobody saw coming.

This book succeeded in making me indescribably sad, incredibly angry, angsty (yes, I'm making up words now), hopeful, and hopeless, all in one novel. I think that's the mark of a great read. 

OVERALL 5 OUT OF 5 STARS:
Content-5
Writing-5
Editing-5
eBook Layout/Formatting (on Kindle Fire)-5
Overall Enjoyability-5

Do I recommend it? Yes
Would I read it again? Yes, because I'll probably discover new things I missed the first time.

For the moment, perhaps the best review might be what I sent to Elizabeth Arnold in an email shortly after finishing the book:

I just wanted you to know that I literally just finished The Book of Secrets (the ARC) a few minutes ago.

While I would usually devour an entire novel in a matter of hours, this one delved deeper into my soul, and was too much for me to take in, to just blow through it. 

I mean, I really felt what the characters were feeling. At one point, I was screaming at Chloe: How can you just put that notebook down and not learn it all right now?!?

Then, at later parts of the story, I, myself put the book down, at some points for days, to mull over its complexities. 

I’m arranging the book review in my head, at this moment, but it’ll probably take me a bit to get it all down on paper. Well, digital paper, at any rate.

I highlighted the parts of the story that just killed me. I read all the time, on my Kindle Fire, but have never once used bookmarks or highlights. It’s been hard to get over my reluctance to mark up a book, even a digital one, but I want to remember those moments, because they push me to re-examine my own life. 

I myself grew up in a very religious household. Not quite like the one Joel was head of, but my adult life has seen a turn toward that darkness. I’ve seen the extremes that people will go to when they’re the hero in their own story, and not the villain.

Maybe that’s why I identify with the kids, Sophia, and even understand how Joel could’ve ended up the way he did (and I thought you also explained that very well). 

I guess I just wanted to say thank you for sharing this story, fiction though it may be. I want to say it is haunting me, but I don’t want that misconstrued. It’s not really in a bad way. It’s the best kind, like those stories that stick with you, that make their mark on your life. 

Thank you for that.
So, as you read in the email above, I highlighted the crap outta this eBook! There were so many quotes in the book that just leapt off the page at me. I was going to include them all here, but if I talked about them all, this review would go on forever.
I've decided I'm going to go ahead and discuss them in detail under the "Discussions" tab of this website. It will, in fact, take you to Goodreads, where the Real Life Reviews discussion group is already set up. That way, we can talk about these novels to our heart's content! I've always wanted to have a book club, but there aren't enough book nerds with similar tastes nearby. Thank God for the internet! ;) I'm so glad you're here! I'll see you in the discussion over on Goodreads, k? :)

 
 
I always said that if I could read for a living, I'd be rich. 
Now, I may not be monetarily rich, but I am rich in reading material! To an avid devour-er of books, such as myself, that's just as good! 


I'm insanely thankful to Amazon, and its massive treasure-trove of fellow readers who help me decide where to best spend my book budget for my Kindle Fire. In thanks, I post my reviews there, to help others, too. 

As an (unpublished) writer myself, I also try to be fair, judging a book by its:
>Content
>Writing
>Editing, & 
>Overall Enjoyability.