Waking Up to Love by Katie O’Boyle (Book Review)

Happy Halloween, all!

I have a completely non-spooky post in store for you today. It starts with a review of a new book release and ends with a giveaway!

Intrigued? Read on.

Waking Up to Love

by Katie O’Boyle

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About the book

Kyle Pennington broke Lyssa’s heart when he let her go, rather than interfere with her budding career. An ocean away now, Lyssa has fallen under the spell of golden-tongued Rand Cunningham who’s in a hurry to marry her. But Kyle is miserable without her and is willing to risk everything to get her back. Will Lyssa wake up in time to ask who she really loves?

Waking Up to Love is on sale now at Amazon.

My Review

Waking Up to Love, the fourth book in the Lakeside Porches series begins as Lyssa, the heroine, is faced with a tough decision. She’s been offered the chance to interview for her dream job at Tompkins Falls University – except it means she must leave England, where she’s lived and worked for the past year. At the same time, she’s trying to determine whether her feelings for Kyle, the hero, are reciprocated to the level where he’s looking for forever. So far, he hasn’t shown much inclination that that’s where he stands. Ultimately, they need to part ways, but when before boarding a flight to the United States, Lyssa drops a bomb on the seemingly clueless Kyle – she thinks she’s in love with him.

Upon returning to the US, where she’s reunited with her sister and brother-in-law, as well as a few other familiar faces from her past. Despite her joy at being together with family once again, Lyssa’s broken-hearted over Kyle and completely stressing about doing her very best at her new job. And she has reason to be stressed. As a recovering alcoholic and addict, Lyssa seems to struggle to keep herself on even footing, especially after she literally runs into Rand Cunningham.  The fellow professor who decides on sight that Lyssa’s the only one for him. But he’s trouble from the get-go.

Eventually, Kyle comes to the US, both to win back Lyssa as well as help a mutual friend and head of the college solve a major problem with internet security and hacking, grade fixing, and the otherwise unseemly antics of several faculty members. He and Rand quickly begin to butt heads, but Lyssa is overjoyed to be reunited with Kyle – if only she knew for sure he’s the one she’s suppose to be with. Kyle has to prove to Lyssa that he’s serious and returns her love.

Waking Up to Love is a multi-faceted story that  walks the fine line between romance and romantic women’s fiction. Both Lyssa and Kyle must not only figure out where they stand with each other, but must also overcome obstacles to their personal happiness. Lyssa’s desire to remain on the straight and narrow after a year of sobriety plays along with her insecurities about the relationships with friends and family alike – and no wonder, given the tumultuous path she followed as a young girl. Kyle, in turn, is the sort who likes having control over what’s happening in his life, but he has to figure out how to balance his business and desire to plan for others with the demands of family obligations and, of course, his love for Lyssa.

Katie O’Boyle has created a cast of memorable characters that engaged me. I wanted to strangle Rand much of the time, and shake both Lyssa and Kyle in turn when they were being obtuse or stubborn about their relationship. There were a few sections that referenced the stories told in books 1-3 of the Lakeside Porches series, but without the general summary of events that often accompanies the reintroduction of characters. I was able to figure out who was who and the general gist of their stories, but having not read the first three books, I admit I was a little lost at times.

Overall I enjoyed this book, but I would recommend picking up volumes 1-3 in addition, so you can get the full story behind the story, as it were.

4 out of 5 stars in my book!

*I received an ARC from the author/publisher in exchange for my honest review.*

And Now for the Giveaway!

Katie has been kind enough to partner with me for a Rafflecopter Giveaway. She is giving away two Kindle copies of Waking Up to Love. There are several ways to enter.

Check out the Rafflecopter Giveaway for details and enter for a chance to win!
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About Katie O’Boyle

Born in the upstate-New York village known as the Birthplace of Women’s Rights, Katie O’Boyle loves the Finger Lakes in every season. She enjoys lunch with friends at quaint inns, and she cherishes the lakeside porch as a place for intimate sharing, laughter, and inspiration. To the outside world, she’s a tech-savvy college professor. In her soul, she’s a passionate author of warm-hearted romance.

Find Katie O’Boyle online:

Facebook: katie.oboyle.author
Twitter: @TompkinsFalls
Website: http://katieoboyle.com

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Book Review – Cephrael’s Hand by Melissa McPhail

So you’ve probably noticed I’ve been participating in this week’s whirlwind blog tour, run by Novel Publicity, of Melissa McPhail’s hugely epic fantasy novel, Cephrael’s Hand.  I also had an opportunity to read this book, and now you get to hear my take on it.

Now, I do have to put a slight disclaimer out there that fantasy generally isn’t a genre I read extensively.  Too often, I find myself feeling let down by fantasy novels that seem to have taken every archetype and plot point from, say, Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.

Fortunately for me as a reader, and as a reviewer, I didn’t feel that way when reading Cephrael’s Hand.

The premise drew me in from the get go. The story boasts an impressive (and sometimes staggeringly confusing) cast of characters – it took me a while to get everybody straight in my head.  Throughout much of the first several chapters, we follow a series of seemingly parallel stories with different characters.  At first, you wonder what it is that ties everyone together, and the only thing they all seem to have in common is the awareness of a certain constellation showing up in the night sky – a constellation known as Cephrael’s Hand.  Most of the people  who see it have a similar reaction – its appearance doesn’t bode well for those who perceive it.

But that’s just surface stuff, at least at the beginning.  Throughout the course of these parallel stories, things start to intertwine. There’s political intrigue, a sometimes more than metaphorical war between belief systems and people’s perception of how the universe works.  And there always seems to be one piece of the puzzle, the key to understanding everything, that’s tantalizingly just out of reach – not just for the characters, but for the reader as well.

For me, Cephrael’s Hand was the meaty sort of read I enjoy, regardless of genre.  Melissa McPhail definitely did her homework in creating this world, which in many ways is familiar to the world we know. She pulls aspects of different languages, like Farsi, in creating the languages of her characters, and while there is a variety of fantastical elements, the landscape and characterizations ring true to life.  Her descriptions are full and beautiful, and she delicately weaves a strange but thought-provoking dance between science, mysticism, and magic.  At times, the dialog feels a little archaic, but only in that McPhail uses the sort of phrasing that would have been found in nobler days – there’s a formality in the cadence of every speaking character, and it’s not just in the sparse use of contractions.  Still, the characters are approachable and engaging.

The cast of characters, once I got everyone straight, provided excellent perspectives on the progression of the story, and as I read and the parallel plots wove together, the relationships – be they familial or adversarial – became clearer and clearer for me.  McPhail did a good job putting me into the heads of her different POV characters, making me wonder about them, root for them, shake my head at them, and most importantly, want to know what happens to them next.

Cephrael’s Hand isn’t what I’d call an easy read, not something I’d want to take to the beach on vacation.  But it’s a great read for a cold, windy winter evening, the sort of book you can wrap yourself up in and get lost in.  I never felt like I was reading a mediocre retelling of LOTR, which is high praise from me when it comes to fantasy (since I measure just about all fantasy by Tolkien’s work). Cerphael’s Hand stands on its own, and for people who enjoy high fantasy, it’s well worth it.

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Cephrael Tour BadgeAs part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, the price of the Cephrael’s Hand eBook edition is just 99 cents this week. What’s more, by purchasing this fantastic book at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes.

The prizes include a Kindle Fire, $450 in Amazon gift cards, and 5 autographed copies of the book.

All the info you need to win one of these amazing prizes is RIGHT HERE. Remember, winning is as easy as clicking a button or leaving a blog comment–easy to enter; easy to win!

To win the prizes:

  1. Purchase your copy of Cephrael’s Hand for just 99 cents
  2. Enter the Rafflecopter contest on Novel Publicity
  3. Visit today’s featured social media event

About Cephrael’s Hand:  Two brothers find themselves on opposite sides of a great battle, neither knowing the other is alive… A traitor works in exile while preparing for the disaster only he knows is coming… A race of beings from beyond the fringe of the universe begin unmaking the world from within… And all across the land, magic is dying. Cephrael’s Hand is the first novel in the award-winning series A Pattern of Shadow and Light. Get it on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

About the author: Melissa McPhail is a classically trained pianist, violinist and composer, a Vinyasa yoga instructor, and an avid Fantasy reader. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, their twin daughters and two very large cats. Visit Melissa on her websiteTwitterFacebook, or GoodReads.

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