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YA Book Review – The Problem with Crazy (Crazy in Love Series) by Lauren K. McKellar

The Problem with Crazy (Crazy in Love #1) by Lauren K. McKellar

The Problem with Crazy (Crazy in Love #1) by Lauren K. McKellar

Synopsis
The problem with crazy is that crazy, by itself, has no context. It can be good crazy, bad crazy … or “crazy” crazy–like it was when my ex-boyfriend sung about me on the radio.

Eighteen-year-old Kate couldn’t be more excited about finishing high school and spending the summer on tour with her boyfriend’s band. Her dad showing up drunk at graduation, however, is not exactly kicking things off on the right foot–and that’s before she finds out about his mystery illness, certain to end in death. A mystery illness that she could inherit.

Kate has to convince everyone around her that her father is sick, not crazy. But who will be harder to convince? Her friends? Or herself?

The Problem With Crazy “is a story about love and life; about overcoming obstacles, choosing to trust, and learning how to make the choices that will change your life forever.

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My Review
It’s been a long time since a book as affected me this much. Everything from the story to the characters sliced right through me. The Problem with Crazy is about hope as much as it is heartbreak and I think that’s what sets it apart from other books in the genre that it will inevitably be compared to. An Australian The Fault in Our Stars, except not really. Inside of a week, Kate’s father shows up drunk at her graduation and embarrasses her, she discovers he has a fatal, incurable disease that affects his behavior, and her boyfriend of two years dumps her, leaving her with no post-graduation plans, since she was supposed to go on tour with him and his band. Oh yeah, and that fatal disease her father has? Yeah, that’s genetic.

Plot
The plot centers around Kate coming to terms with her father’s illness and the potential that she’s inherited the disease, the end of her relationship, and what, if any future she has. How do you plan your life when you may not have long to live? When she runs into a strange yet adorable boy, Lachlan, who believes in doing everything once just to try it, she begins to see her world in different terms than just now and later. To let go of the uncertainty of the future and live in the moment.

The interactions with Lachlan are where the story soars into the stratosphere. These are the moments when Kate lets down her guard and just lives. Where she thinks about the world outside herself rather than being caged inside her own mind. Where she can forget for a small moment in time that life is uncertain.

World Building
The small Australian beach town where Kate lives comes alive with all five senses as Lauren McKellar weaves in enough detail to put us squarely in the middle of the scene. I’ve never been to Australia, but I almost feel as if I have. I started this book a few days after our Australian exchange student went back home, not even realizing the setting. But it was like having a little piece of Gaby still here with us as I read the familiar Australian expressions and the mention of Tim Tams (which are just as good as you’ve heard, by the way.)

Characters
The book is largely character driven and the characters are…just, wow. Lachlan is the boy by which all other boys will be judged in young adult/new adult novels. And I can tell you now, no one will ever come close, and this makes me both happy and sad, because the world needs more Lachlans, but also because he’s one of  a kind which makes him eternally exceptional.

Top Five Things I Loved About  The Problem with Crazy
1. The first time Kate meets Lachlan. Their initial meeting is as adorable as it gets and it showcases Lachlan in all his Lachlan-ness, sealing him in my heart forever.

2. Lachlan’s art. The way he memorializes every one of his “firsts” in black and white is just another thing that makes him remarkable.

3. The way Lachlan stands up to Dave in the restaurant. Dave is a complete douche. How Kate never knew this in two years of dating is beyond me, but Lachlan figures it out in about two seconds and his response is awesome.

4. Michael. Just because I don’t want this to be all about Lachlan (even though it really is). His loyalty to Kate and Stacey, at the expense of his position in the band, makes him one of the really good guys.

5. Lachlan. Because really, he’s just that amazing.

Bottom Line
The Problem with Crazy is heartbreakingly beautiful. It ripped my heart out, shredded it, and left me bereft, before slowly rebuilding it, piece by agonizing piece, leaving me hopeful.

Disclaimer
I was provided with a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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Title: The Problem with Crazy
Series: Crazy in Love #1
Author: Lauren K. McKellar
Release Date: December 16, 2014
Pages: 283
Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

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Author Lauren K. McKellar

Author Lauren K. McKellar

About the Author
Lauren K. McKellar is an author and editor. Her debut novel, Finding Home, was released through Escape Publishing on October 1, 2013, and her second release, NA Contemporary Romance The Problem With Crazy, is self-published, and is available now.

She loves books that evoke emotion, and hope hers make you feel.

Lauren lives by the beach in Australia with her husband and their two dogs. Most of the time, all three of them are well behaved.

Where to Find Lauren K. McKellar
Goodreads | Website | Twitter | Facebook

Today is National Read-a-thon Day

National Read-a-thon Day

Grab your latest book and charge your Kindles, today is the first ever National Readathon Day! Join readers across the country who will be reading in solidarity for literacy from noon to 4 p.m. (in your own time zone). National Readathon Day is partnered with FirstGiving.com, and all money raised will go to the National Book Foundation’s efforts to improve literacy and reading proficiency for millions of Americans who lack basic skills. All you need to do to participate is pick a book and read it today.

Check here for local readathon events near you. You can also make a donation or create a fund-raising team on FirstGiving.com, or even host your own “reading party.”

Here is what I’m reading today. What are you reading? #timetoread

A Game Worth Watching by Samantha Gudger

A Game Worth Watching by Samantha Gudger

The Institute (The Institute #1) by Kayla Howarth

The Institute (The Institute #1) by Kayla Howarth

 

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Eleven Weeks by Lauren K. McKellar

Eleven Weeks (Crazy in Love #2) by Lauren K. McKellar

Paper or Plastic by Vivi Barnes

Paper or Plastic by Vivi Barnes (author of Olivia Twisted)

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YA Book Review + Giveaway – Where Dead Bodies Lie (The Body Dowser Series) by Kat Cazanav

Where Dead Bodies Lie Book Tour

Where Dead Bodies Lie (Body of Dowser #1) by Kat Cazanav

Where Dead Bodies Lie (Body of Dowser #1) by Kat Cazanav

Synopsis
For as long as I can remember, I have been told to follow three important rules;
Always guard my ability
Never share my secret
And pretend to be normal.

However, those three little rules don’t make my life easier. I still find dead people and deal with strange visions. Not to mention, an attraction to a boy who doesn’t exist. Whenever we cross path’s he mists away like smoke on a mirror. He drives me crazy, that Kaff Cooper.

As a flock of dead crows fall from the blackened sky, Kaff becomes the only one who can see the truth straight to the dark underbelly of who I actually am.

My hands feel the pull to extract the forsaken, the lost, the forgotten. It comes as naturally as breathing and there is no stopping it.

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My Review
I was intrigued by the premise of this book. The idea of a body dowser was too good to pass up. Stella has the ability to find water with nothing but her fingertips. Her father uses her ability to mine for gold, until Stella’s powers dredge up more –dead bodies and possibly something dark from another realm. The cave-in that follows kills her father and almost Stella herself.

Stella moves in with her Aunt Lily, who is barely an adult herself, but does her best to raise her young niece. Lily sends Stella to boarding school in Canada to give her an opportunity at a better education. There, Stella meets Kaff Cooper, who’s as mysterious as he is good-looking. Creepy things begin to happen in the small Canadian town, and everyone is pointing the finger at Stella.

Plot
The story starts off with a young Stella, then jumps forward to her freshman year where she first meets Kaff and unleashes her ability on a school field trip. She’s sent back home, being too weird for the exclusive school, and home schooled until her senior year. The school offers to expunge her record, giving her a chance at a full college scholarship, in exchange for three days of community service at the school.

The rest of the story unfolds over those three days and it’s a lot. Maybe two-thirds of the story take place over a short window of time. The story is almost exclusively plot-driven and it’s a busy, twisty plot. There are some things that didn’t make sense to me and others that seemed implausible, but for the most part, it’s a good, fast ride.

World Building
The world building is fantastic. Author, Kat Cazanav, paints a dark world that is as gloomy as the stunning cover of her book. Her settings come alive in intense fashion. The world of body dowsing is complex and sometimes confusing, but I think that’s okay, because the story is told in first person and the protagonist herself doesn’t seem to fully understand it all.

Characters
Stella is a unique character. She’s grim, brooding, and yet likeable, in a Tuesday Aadams sort of way. Kaff Cooper is the most intriguing character in the book. I never quite figured him out, but I want to. Kaff Cooper alone will get me to read the next book.

Top Five Things I Enjoyed About  Where Dead Bodies Lie
1. The settings. The descriptive details the author uses paint a beautiful, dark picture that comes alive in stunning and sometimes terrifying ways.

2. Aunt Lily. Stella’s young aunt puts her life on hold to become a mother and you never doubt that she’s always got Stella’s best interests at heart.

3. Kaff Cooper. The boy is an enigma, but he can be sweet and he truly cares for Stella.

4. Body Dowsing. This was a really creative, unique twist on the paranormal.

5. Kaff’s Bedroom. When Stella breaks into his room to find out more about the mystery boy, what she discovers gave me the chills.

Bottom Line
Where Dead Bodies Lie is a unique twist on the young adult paranormal genre with interesting characters and plenty of plot twists.

Disclaimer
I was provided with a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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Title: Where Dead Bodies Lie
Series: The Body Dowser #1
Author: Kat Cazanav
Release Date: December 16, 2014
Pages: 245
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal/Urban Fantasy
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Author Kat Cazanav

Author Kat Cazanav

About the Author
I keep thinking I’m almost done writing this novel. Just one more chapter and I’ll let it go into my editor’s hands. Then something happens and I delay the inevitable; ending a relationship with a bunch of cool characters and saying good bye to a story that lived in my head forever. I use any excuse not to finish what I started nine months ago.

I have to pay bills, feed the dogs, feed myself (repeatedly) pick lint off my sweater, stare at the floor. The list goes on and on. But then I snap out of it. What am I thinking? Of course. I’ll turn it into a series. My characters will never die. I call my editor and give her a date. Now there’s no way out. I have to finish and set the story free. So this week I’m completing “The Body Dowser” with the hope all my readers enjoy the story as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Where to Find Kat Cazanav
Goodreads │ Website | Facebook | Twitter
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Giveaway
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Book Review – Design & Illustration by Mark Sgarbossa

Design & Illustration by Mark Sgarbossa

Design & Illustration by Mark Sgarbossa

Synopsis
From rock and roll to corporate ID, artist Mark Sgarbossa shows a broad set of skills and styles in this comprehensive look at his work.

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My Review
Mark Sgarbossa’s art is vibrant, thought-provoking, energetic, at times enigmatic, and extraordinary. He’s pulled together a collection of his work in an oversized trade paperback. Design & Illustration by Mark Sgarbossa is a treat for the eyes, with limited text, it’s 250+ pages of pure visual confection.

With clients such as skateboarder Tony Hawk, bands Kiss, Rascal Flatts, and AC/DC, and 3 Doors Down, musical artists such as Jason Mraz, Carrie Underwood, Ottmar Liebert, and Rod Stewart, and organizations like Target Stores, San Diego State University, Vans, Warp Magazine, and House of Blues, the art is as varied as the clientele. Below are just a few examples of the hundreds of pieces of art on display in Design & Illustration.

Takahashi Band Poster

Takahashi Band Poster

Design & Illustration Teaser 4

Miami Heat

Jason Mraz Poster

Jason Mraz Poster

Ice Cube

Ice Cube

Bottom Line
Design & illustration is a stunning collection of some of the best pop culture art around by an insanely talented artist.

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Title: Design & Illustration
Author: Mark Sgarbossa
Release Date: October 30, 2014
Pages: 266
Category: Art & Illustration
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Links:  Amazon | CreateSpace

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Illustrator Mark Sgarbossa

Illustrator Mark Sgarbossa

About the Author
Mark Sgarbossa is an award-winning artist from San Diego, California. A partial list of his clients include Jason Mraz, Target Stores, Tony Hawk, Franz Ferdinand, Major League Baseball, San Diego State University, Snowboarder Magazine, 3 Doors Down, and AC/DC.

In addition to art, Mark is a talented musician. He played rhythm guitar and sang vocals in the indie band The Shirlies as well as playing synth and singing in the live electro duo ROTATOR.

Where to Find Mark Sgarbossa
Website | Email |LinkedIn | Reedsy

Audiobook Review – Crossing the Ice (Ice Series) by Jennifer Comeaux

Crossing the Ice (Ice Series #1) by Jennifer Comeaux

Crossing the Ice (Ice Series #1) by Jennifer Comeaux

Story:
Audiobook: 

Synopsis
Falling hard never felt so good.

Pair skaters Courtney and Mark have one shot left at their Olympic dream. They vow not to let anything get in their way, especially not Josh and Stephanie, the wealthy and talented brother and sister team.

The heart doesn’t always listen to reason, though…

The more time Courtney spends with sweet, shy Josh, the harder she falls for him. But they are on opposite sides of the competition, and their futures are headed in opposite directions. Will their friendship blossom into more or are their paths too different to cross?

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My Review
I had no expectations heading into this. I knew it was a romance set on the ice and that was good enough for me. I ended up really enjoying it. I listened to the audiobook and found reasons to take extra walks during the day so I could listen to more. The narrator, Emily Stokes, does a really good job. There were a few technical issues in Chapter 5 that should have been edited out, and other than the little kid voices she does that grated on my nerves, I thought the production was top notch.

Courtney and Mark are pairs skaters with their sights set on the Olympics. Josh and Stephanie are their competition. So when Courtney and Josh develop feelings for each other, things are going to get interesting.  And they do. Jennifer Comeaux creates sexual tension with the best romance writers. The chemistry between Josh and Court is palpable.

The story has two main plots — the skating competition and the romance — and both are done really well. The pacing is slow in a few spots, but for the most part, it’s a compelling tale of love and skating. About the only thing that didn’t work for me was the lack of sex. No, I don’t need steamy sex in a new adult novel. In fact, I’m okay if all the sex takes place off the page. But I had a hard time buying that it didn’t even happen there. Or anywhere. These are young, vibrant, attractive people with healthy sex drives and no real compelling reasons not to engage in a physical relationship. I could have bought into a religious, or any deeply held belief, that kept them chaste. However, that unbelievable aspect didn’t keep me from enjoying this otherwise angst-ridden tale.

Plot
Both plots are strong. The competition was intense and I felt like I was right there with them, battling for a place on the Olympic team. The romance was equally well done, with the push and pull of a forbidden love that is meant to be. There were several subplots, including Josh’s relationship with his parents and Courtney’s college plans, that were woven into the main plots seamlessly.

Characters
Courtney was fantastic. I love that she’s not perfect. She’s flawed in the best of ways that only makes her more human. And Josh is sweet and sensitive. It’s refreshing to read about a male lead who isn’t an alpha male yet still comes across as incredibly sexy. His vulnerability only adds to his attractiveness. I haven’t read any other books by Jennifer Comeaux, but I get the feeling that Em and Sergei were developed in an earlier novel, yet their characters are fully developed here.

Steph, Josh’s sister, is the only character I felt came across as stereotypical, but it fit the plot, so I’m not going to complain too much. And I do like that she didn’t change to become someone more likeable. Her role as the antagonist served a purpose and she does it well.

World Building
For someone who has never skated competitively, Jennifer Comeaux creates an incredibly believable world. Her descriptions are detailed and the world comes alive through the narration.

Top Five Things I Enjoyed About Crossing the Ice
1. Emily Stokes narration is really well done with only a few exceptions. I love the way she brought emotion and personality to the characters and the story through tone and inflection.

2. The skating details brought me into the heart of the story and made me feel as if I was on the ice with them.

3. Mrs.  Cassar (although I’m not sure if that’s spelled correctly) is a hoot, and I loved listening to the way the narrator brought her to life.

4. So many of the locations were familiar to me, Los Angeles, Staples Center, Provincetown, it was easy to visualize them.

5. The big competition didn’t turn out the way I thought it would. It was a twist I never saw coming and was deliciously refreshing.

Bottom Line
Crossing the Ice is a sweet new adult romance set in the world of competitive pairs figure skating. The audiobook is high quality and the narration is superb.

Disclaimer
I was provided with a copy of this audiobook by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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About the Audiobook
Title:
 Crossing the Ice
Series: Ice Series #1
Author: Jennifer Comeaux
Narrator: Emily Stokes
Release Date: August 3, 2014
Length: 9 hours and 5 minutes
Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance
Story Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Audio Production Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | AudibleAmazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo 

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Author Jennifer Comeaux

Author Jennifer Comeaux

About the Author
Jennifer Comeaux is a tax accountant by day, writer by night.

There aren’t any ice rinks near her home in south Louisiana, but she’s a diehard figure skating fan and loves to write stories of romance set in the world of competitive skating. One of her favorite pastimes is travelling to competitions, where she can experience all the glitz and drama that inspire her writing.

Jenniferloves to hear from readers! Visit jennifercomeaux.blogspot.com for contact information and to learn more about her books.

Where to Find Jennifer Comeaux
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest

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Book Review – The Phoenix Candidate (Grace Colton Series) by Heidi Joy Tretheway

The Phoenix Candidate (Grace Colton #1) by Heidi Joy Tretheway

The Phoenix Candidate (Grace Colton #1) by Heidi Joy Tretheway

Synopsis
Fans of Scandal, House of Cards, and The Good Wife will love Grace Colton…

Congresswoman Grace Colton is the most famous woman in politics—and the loneliest—until a drawling, sexy stranger offers her one night, no strings and no regrets.

Grace wakes to an empty hotel room and a phone call: the dark horse for the 2016 presidential election, Senator Shep Conover, is considering her as his vice presidential running mate. But first, Grace must be vetted and coached by Shep’s political consultant, Jared Rankin, who already knows too many intimate details about her. He’s Mr. One-Night Stand.

Grace is torn: Play nice with Jared to join the senator’s ticket, or play hardball and back the slick frontrunner? Grace must decide where her loyalties lie and if she can trust Jared with her future—and her heart.

The Phoenix Candidate is an erotic romance set in the world of presidential election politics. Recommended for mature readers due to sharp dialogue, wickedly hot sex, and a few delicious taboos. This full-length novel is first in a series and can be read as a standalone.

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My Review
I almost didn’t finish this book. I hated the first chapter. I hated the characters. Could’t stand either one of them. And even as the story progressed, I disliked them. I did’t understand Grace, hated Jared, couldn’t get why she put up with his controlling ways. Then, somewhere around the 60% mark, it clicked for me. I got her, why she made the choices she did, why she was willing to give so much to a selfish, controlling bastard like Jared. The fact that I made it that far into a story where I didn’t like the protagonist or the love interest is a testament to the strong writing and gripping political intrigue that Heidi Joy Tretheway brings.

I love politics. I’m a junkie. And part of what made this book appeal to me was the comparison to The Good Wife, one of my all-time favorite TV shows. But Grace is nothing like Alicia Florek. Except she is. Alicia allows a lot from Peter, because of her family or her career. There is a lot of Alicia in Grace, but Grace is her own person. And about that same time that I felt like I saw glimpses of a Grace I could love, could root for, and even respect, the plot took off at a frantic pace.

Plot
While this is technically a romance, and touted as an erotic romance at that, it’s really so much more. It’s a political thriller with a steamy romantic co-plot. Freshman Congresswoman, Grace Colton, is a far-left liberal on guns and the environment, two political hot potatoes that helped her get elected in the wake of personal tragedy. When her name is bandied about as a potential running mate for two of the Democratic parties’ top presidential hopefuls, those issues could be a liability. The political wheeling and dealing is almost as hot as the sex. Tretheway threw in several plot twists that upped the stakes and kept me turning page after page.

World Building
The world building is simply fantastic. Everything from the way Portland, Oregon is portrayed, to the Washington beltway is authentic. The author pays so much attention to the little things, the locations are like word paintings in exquisite detail. And the politics are about as real as it gets.

Characters
So, I didn’t love the characters initially. I didn’t even like them, but I couldn’t deny that they were incredibly well crafted, three-dimensional people. But by the end of the book, I loved both Jared and Grace. That’s some rock-solid character development. The supporting characters, everyone from Trey and Mama Bea to Darrow and Conover, are extremely well crafted.

Top Five Things I Enjoyed About  The Phoenix Candidate
1. The politics. The political landscape, the backstabbing, the games, are all so, so believable.

2. Trey. As Grace’s right-hand man, he has her back in every case and keeps her grounded.

3. Lauren Kennedy Darrow. She’s delicious as the polished antagonist with a complex backstory. So fun to hate.

4. Jared. Yeah, it took me almost three quarters of the book to warm up to him, but once I did, I did in a big way.

5. Grace’s Interview. When she gaffes on national TV, it’s epic!

Bottom Line
This is a smart, sassy political thriller, rolled in romance with lots of steamy sex, but it’s the politics that really set it apart.

Disclaimer
I was provided with a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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About the Book
Title: The Phoenix Candidate
Series: Grace Colton #1
Author: Heidi Joy Thretheway
Release Date: January 12, 2015
Publisher: Jasper Ridge Press
Pages: 254
Release Date: January 12, 2015
Genre: Adult Contemporary Romantic Suspense
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo

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Author Heidi Joy Tretheway

Author Heidi Joy Tretheway

About the Author
Heidi Joy is a sucker for campfires, craft cocktails, and steamy romance in books and real life. She sings along with musicals (badly), craves French carbs, and buys plane tickets the way some women buy shoes.

Her first career as a journalist took Heidi behind the scenes with politicians, rock stars, chefs, and detectives, all of whom inspire her stories. Heidi Joy is currently working on her eighth book from her home in Portland, Oregon. She adores hearing from readers at author.heidi@gmail.com.

Where to Find Heidi Joy Tretheway
Goodreads | WebsiteFacebook | Twitter | Newsletter

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Giveaway
Open internationally

Coach leather purse wristlet
Signed paperback copy of The Phoenix Candidate
Name a character in the sequel

a Rafflecopter giveaway

YA Book Review – After Us (Before and After) by Amber Hart

After Us (Before and After #2) by Amber Hart

After Us (Before and After #2) by Amber Hart

Synopsis
Sometimes secrets kill. Maybe slowly, maybe painfully. Maybe all at once.

Melissa smiles. She flirts. She jokes. But she never shows her scars. Eight months after tragedy ripped her from her closest friend, Melissa is broken. Inside her grows a tumor, fed by grief, rage, and the painful memory of a single forbidden kiss.

Javier has scars of his own: a bullet wound, and the memory of a cousin shot in the heart. Life in the States was supposed to be a new beginning, but a boy obsessed by vengeance has no time for the American dream. To honor his familia, Javier joins the gang who set up his cousin’s murder. The entrance price is blood. Death is the only escape.

These two broken souls could make each other whole again–or be shattered forever.

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My Review
After Us takes place on the heels of the epilogue of Before You, picking up the stories of Faith’s and Diego’s best friends, Melissa and Javier. Melissa is dealing with more than the physical loss of her best friend in the way of a health issue that has altered her life forever. When Faith won’t even answer her phone, Melissa feels untethered and adrift as she copes with her new life. I admit that I miss fun-loving Melissa, even though I understand how the events in her life shaped her. I just wish she’d have retained more of her spunk.

Even so, After Us is a compelling tale and in some ways better than its predecessor. Much of the best parts of the story center around Javier. Not only has he lost his best friend, but also his cousin. And family is everything to this strong Cuban. He wants revenge from the gang that killed Diego. Torn between his attraction to Melissa, a mother who will not accept a gringa in her son’s life, and the desire to avenge his cousin’s death, Javier has his hands full.

Plot
The main plot is the romance between Javier and Melissa, with subplots of a forbidden love, Melissa’s illness that she keeps secret, and Javier’s drive to join the MS-13 gang to take them down from the inside, all keeping them apart. The various subplots have their own arcs that all collide in a nail-biting conclusion that’s pretty intense.

World Building
Once again, Amber Hart does a fabulous job of creating a lively south Florida Cuban culture. We get to see how cultural differences can drive conflict, or can overcome it.

Characters
Melissa is sweet, but far more damaged than she was in the first book and as I mentioned, I miss that side of her. She’s strong, and I would have liked to see that strength beat back some of the darkness surrounding her. To see more pieces of the vibrant Melissa I fell in love with in Before You. Javier is richly layered, complex, and conflicted. The rest of the cast are shown to us at a high level, but enough that they fulfill their roles without being two-dimensional.

Top Five Things I Enjoyed About  After Us
1. Javier’s big, crazy, Hispanic family. They love deeply and are loyal to a fault.

2. Melissa’s smaller, yet close-knit family that surround each other with love and acceptance.

3. Melissa job. I want a job where I make good tips working on a beach every day, even if the San Diego beaches aren’t nearly as warm as the South Florida ones.

4. Javier’s misguided determination to do what he believes he needs to. I admire his grit.

5. Javier and Melissa’s love for one another is sweet and solid. I never doubted these two would end up together for all the right reasons.

Bottom Line
After Us is a sweet love story wrapped up in darker themes of gangs, revenge, and racism.

Disclaimer
I was provided with a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Title: After Us
Series: Before and After #2
Author: Amber Hart
Publisher: K-Teen
Release Date: December 30, 2014
Pages: 369
Category: Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links:  Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes&NobleiBooks | Kobo

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Author Amber Hart

Author Amber Hart

About the Author
Amber Hart grew up in Orlando, Florida and Atlanta, Georgia. She now resides on the Florida coastline with family. When unable to find a book, she can be found writing, daydreaming, or with her toes in the sand.

She’s the author of BEFORE YOU, AFTER US, UNTIL YOU FIND ME, and sequel to UNTIL YOU FIND ME (untitled as of yet). Represented by Beth Miller of Writers House.

Where to Find Amber Hart
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest

Book Review – Forever Found (Neverland Lost) by Nazarea Andrews

Forever Found (Neverland Lost #2) by Nazarea Andrews

Forever Found (Neverland Lost #2) by Nazarea Andrews

Synopsis
Losing Gwen was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to survive. I’ve never loved anyone the way I love her.

But finding her was never about that. And now that I have found her–now that she knows the truth about me and the Island, I have to trust her to believe. Because her leaving me didn’t just destroy me–its killing Neverland.

I need her to love me. But we all need her to believe again.

Peter Pan has grown up and found the girl who left–but the stakes are higher than ever in this romantic conclusion to the story begun in Girl Lost.

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My Review
I didn’t read Girl Lost, so I didn’t know what to expect other than it’s a modern retelling of Peter Pan and that was good enough for me. Told from Peter’s point of view, it definitely picks up where Girl Lost left off, but Nazarea Andrews does an excellent job of providing just enough backstory at just the right moment to make sure I didn’t get lost.

This grown up character is tough and broken. He’s trying to save Tinkerbelle (aka Tiny) who is threatened along with Pan’s island because Gwendy no longer believes. He needs Gwendy to believe again to save both, but she thinks her time on the island was all a figment of her messed up mind.

Plot
The plot is pretty straightforward. Peter needs to save Belle and the island, but he needs to convince Gwen to believe again. The fact that he’s lost her and doesn’t know how to live without her is the subplot that drives a fair amount of angst in the short 43 pages. It’s a darker tale than the Disney version, but has far more depth and raw emotion.

World Building
There was probably extensive world building done in Girl Lost that spills over into Forever Found. This is the one area where I felt like I had to play catch up and never quite got there. But assuming the world building was done in Girl Lost, I’d say the extension is into the sequel is complete. There are definitely rules and a world order that come into play that I’ll have to learn about when I read Book 1.

Characters
Peter is complex, damaged and sympathetic. I had less of a feel for Gwen, but I think that’s because Girl Lost is told from her point of view and therefore it’s assumed the reader understands her. The rest of the characters weren’t particularly deep in this novella, but again, this is Peter’s story and he’s really well done.

Top Five Things I Enjoyed About  Girl Lost
1. Peter’s loyalty to Belle/Tiny. That kind of friendship is rare and beautiful.

2. Peter’s love of Gwen. The fact that he’d do anything for her is sweet and tells us a lot about his character.

3. The conflict. There’s a lot of it. Peter seems to be at odds with everyone, but it keeps the story moving at a clipped pace.

4. The ending. Won’t spoil it, but I didn’t see this bittersweet twist coming at all.

5. Gwen. She’s a free spirit, damage and all. I can’t wait to get to know her in Girl Lost.

Bottom Line
I was never a fan of the story of Peter Pan until now. The author drew me in and made me care.

Disclaimer
I was provided with a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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About the Book
Title: Forever Found
Series: Neverland Lost #2
Author: Nazarea Andrews
Pages:
Release Date: December 30, 2014
Genre: New Adult Urban Fantasy
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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About the Author
Nazarea Andrews is an avid reader and tends to write the stories she wants to read. She loves chocolate and coffee almost as much as she loves books, but not quite as much as she loves her kids.

She is the author of the University of Branton series, Neverland Found series and Edge of the Falls.

She lives in south Georgia with her husband, daughters, and overgrown dog.

Where to Find Nazarea Andrews
Goodreads Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Street Team | Amazon

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