Double Black (Stark Springs Academy #2) by Ali Dean
Synopsis * This is the second book in the Stark Springs Academy series, which should be read in order. You should read Black Diamond before reading the description below. *
If you don’t like the rules, make new ones. If you want to the best, show no fear. And if Ryker Black is your boyfriend, you better be ready to fight. On and off the slopes.
Overnight, Roxie Slade went from an outsider at Stark Springs Academy, to a ruler at the prestigious boarding school for elite winter athletes. But Roxie doesn’t know if she wants that power, and she definitely isn’t sure about sharing it with Ryker Black, who came from a different world and lives by a different set of morals. Ryker may have decided to trust her, but can she trust him?
Roxie only cared about her rising position in the ski rankings, but now her status at Stark and within the winter sports community is skyrocketing, whether she asked for it or not. Can she handle both while attempting a real relationship with Ryker Black?
Roxie once believed that her sole purpose was proving herself on the slopes, but she’s done that once, and she’s far from satisfied. She has so much more to prove.
My Review After the intense, angsty beginning to this series in Black Diamond, the sequel didn’t quite live up to my expectations. There is some conflict between Ryker and Roxie, but it centered more on the secrets that Ryker is keeping. Secrets that put distance between them, but not a lot of drama. These secrets aren’t revealed until the final chapter, but I never felt like they were building to a boiling point and if they weren’t released, an explosion would occur. There’s also a lack of competitive skiing that really drove more of the first book. There’s time spent traveling to and hanging out at various competitive ski locales, but not nearly as much time training for or competing in these events.
The plot primarily centers around Ryker and Roxie’s relationship. They’re moving closer, but the secret keeps a wedge between them.There is some competitive skiing, but not as much as I would have liked, and it’s not a major part of the plot.
The characters are further developed in this second installment. We learn more about what makes Ryker tick, but not until late in the story. It does explain a lot about him, but I felt like maybe we could have had some of the secrets spread out more through the story, to keep the plot moving.
What Didn’t Work for Me
1. The pacing. It was a lot slower than the first book, and therefore, it took me quite a bit longer to get through it. 2. Not enough skiing. I would have liked more of the competitive skiing, had it be more of the main plot similar to the Pepper Jones series.
What I Enjoyed About Double Black 1. The ending. Never saw that coming and it was so surprising, it really redeemed the book for me. 2. The settings. The author does a wonderful job of painting colorful pictures of her settings. 3. Ryker and Roxie. Although they need to learn to communicate better, I’m still pulling for them and can’t wait to see what happens in the final book in the series. 4. Twists. There were a couple of twists I didn’t see coming. I always love when an author can really surprise me. 5. Roxie’s family. We finally get to spend some time with Roxie’s family back east and it helps shape her more fully, seeing the well-rounded loving parents she grew up with.
Bottom Line Double Black is is missing some of the angst-ridden romance of its predecessor, but it’s still a good read.
About the Book Title: Double Black Series: Stark Springs Academy #2 Author: Ali Dean Release Date: April 4, 2016 Pages: 185 Genre: Young Adult Contemporary/Sports Romance
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars Links:Goodreads | Amazon
Author Ali Dean
About the Author Ali Dean lives in Colorado with her husband, twin babies, and golden retriever. In addition to reading and writing, she loves the outdoors- everything from marathon training and biking to snowboarding and skiing.
Synopsis It was meant to be the job opportunity of a lifetime.
It turned out to be so much more…
At the age of twenty five, Emma Lexington takes off to New York on a once in a life time twelve-month job exchange with the New York Warriors. Determined to make the most of the opportunity, she prepares herself for life in the big apple—fast paced, exciting and a whole lot of fun. What she hasn’t prepared for though, is meeting him.
The charming Will Jensen is in the prime of his playing career. As the star quarterback for the Warriors, his carefree, football centric life is thrown into disarray when he meets Emma, the beautiful, easy going Australian girl who joins the Warriors staff.
Unwilling to throw her professional reputation away on a fling with the playboy quarterback, Emma turns down Will’s advances, even though she can’t deny the attraction she feels for him. Their pull toward one another grows, but it takes a near disaster for Emma to finally give Will a chance.
Getting together might have been hard, but figuring out how to stay together will prove even more challenging as Emma must decide between conflicting loyalties.
Lexington and 42nd is a fun, sexy romance, set in the exciting world of the NFL in the fabulous city of New York..
My Review Lexington and 42nd is an engaging contemporary romance with likeable characters and a believable plot. The heroine is a strong, independent female, and her hero is an alpha male at the height of his NFL career. It has all of the elements for the genre: the meet, the instant attraction, the slow and steady build to acting on that attraction, the inevitable break-up, and the ultimate HEA. There’s nothing particularly ground-breaking here, but if you want a sexy, fun read, pick this one up.
Emma Lexington is on loan to the New York Warriors NFL team for the season as part of a program involving her organization in Australia. Will Jensen is the Warriors’ star quarterback and completely off limits to Emma. And Emma is off limits to Will, which of course makes both of them irresistible to each other. There’s so much room for conflict with this tale of forbidden romance and the author does a compelling job with it.
Characters Both Emma and Will are very endearing and it’s clear early on they belong together. They’re both fairly well-developed, but lack extreme depth. Neither has any life-altering backstories. They’re both pretty emotionally healthy and just have different priorities and communication issues they need to overcome in order to get that HEA.
What Didn’t Work for Me
1. The story took a little while to develop. At 444 pages, it’s on the longish side for a contemporary romance, and some of it could have been cut early on to keep the story moving at a faster pace.
2. This is just a personal thing, but Will’s number is 42. Quarterbacks in the NFL are usually under number 20 with running backs and D-backs in the 40s. Now Will could have had a reason for having that number, and teams are pretty accommodating when it comes to their star players, but without an explanation on why he had that number, it bugged me throughout the book.
Top Five Things I Enjoyed About Lexington and 42nd 1. Emma’s Australia-ness. After hosting two Aussie exchange students, there is just something so charming about an Aussie and it came across in Emma’s personality in spades.
2. Football. I’m an 18-year season-ticket holder with the San Diego Chargers and we almost never miss a home game. I loved reading about the football side of things. Other than Will’s jersey number, it came across as spot on.
3. Angsty romance. The angst didn’t really kick in until near the end, but that’s my favorite kind of romance and it made up for the slow start.
4. New York City. One of my favorite places to visit. Don’t think I could live there, but I never get tired of visiting.
5. The ending. Nice wrap up.
Bottom Line An engaging contemporary romance with adorable characters in a big city setting with NFL players.
I was provided with a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.
About the Author Kim Carmody lives in a beach side suburb of Melbourne, Australia. She trained as a classical dancer, yet somehow ended up working in the sports industry, where she met her now husband.
Plot Perfect – How to Build Unforgettable Stories Scene by Scene by Paula Munier
Synopsis Build an Exceptional Plot, One Scene at a Time!
Think of your favorite story–the one that kept you turning pages late into the night, the one with a plot so compelling, so multilayered, so perfect that you couldn’t put it down. How can you make your own plots–in your novels, short stories, memoirs, or screenplays–just as irresistible?
“Plot Perfect” provides the answer. This one-of-a-kind plotting primer reveals the secrets of creating a story structure that works–no matter what your genre. It gives you the strategies you need to build a scene-by-scene blueprint that will help elevate your fiction and earn the attention of agents and editors.
Inside, literary agent, editor, and author Paula Munier shows you how to:
Devise powerful plots and subplots and weave them together seamlessly
Organize your scenes for the greatest impact
Develop captivating protagonists, worthy antagonists, and engaging secondary characters
Use dialogue, setting, tone, and voice to enhance your plot
Layer, refine, and polish your storyline
Define your story in terms of its theme
Filled with writing exercises, plotting templates, and expert advice, “Plot Perfect” helps you dive into the intricacies of plot–and write a compelling story that readers won’t be able to resist.
My Review This is one of the best books I’ve read on structuring plot, regardless of genre. Packed with examples, checklists, and exercises, this book explains in plain English how to outline your novel to ensure your plot zings, you’ve built in layers of subplot, and your theme is expertly woven. Plot Perfect covers all aspects of writing fiction, albeit at a high level. It contains the building blocks necessary to create a plot that works with developed characters that reflect your story’s theme. It’s an excellent resource for both planners and pantsers. Even writers who don’t outline will benefit from understanding how story works as they hammer out a first draft by the seat of their pants. I had an outline of a book I was working on, and as I was reading Plot Perfect, I revised my outline after noting several problems with it.
Bottom Line Plot Perfect is a great resource for novelists of all genres at every stage of their careers.
Title: Plot Perfect: How to Build Unforgettable Stories Scene by Scene Author: Paula Munier Publisher: Writer’s Digest Books Publication Date: October 17, 2014 Pages: 281 Category: Writing Fiction Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars Links: Goodreads | Amazon |Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Powell’s
Author Paula Munier
About the Author My professional evolution mirrors that of publishing itself. From my early days as a reporter to my latest incarnation as all-around content queen and bottle washer, I’ve reinvented myself as the publishing industry has changed–and keeps on changing. The only constant: My love of the written word.
Over my 20-plus years in the business, I’ve conceived, created, produced, and marketed exceptional content in all formats across all markets for such media giants as WGBH, Fidelity, Disney, Gannett, F+W Media, Quarto, Greenspun Media Group, among others. I’ve written my own work as well, including Writing With Quiet Hands: How to Shape Your Writing to Resonate with Readers, Plot Perfect: How to Build Unforgettable Stories Scene by Scene, and the acclaimed memoir Fixing Freddie.
In 2012, I joined Talcott Notch LIterary Services as Senior Agent and Content Strategist. I’m always looking for good crime fiction, women’s fiction, mainstream fiction, high-concept YA and SF/Fantasy fiction, as well as nonfiction.
My mission: To tell great stories and sell great stories. Why? Because the world needs them.
San Francisco is deserted, the Bay Bridge bombed, and the BART subway trains grounded. The Guardians, members of an elite and mysterious government-appointed military police force, are maintaining order at all costs—thanks to emotion-altering drugs like Emovere that suppress fear and anxiety. Lex Knightley, daughter of a prominent forensic psychiatrist, risks entering the devastated city to partner with the Resistance, a group of rebels intent upon exposing the dangers of Emovere. Lex discovers an ally in Quin McAllister, a magnetic Guardian Force recruit with a haunting past that binds them together. As she uncovers the secrets of the Guardian Force and confronts the truth about her family, Lex begins to realize that even those closest to her are not quite who they seem.
Legacy is the first book in the Legacy trilogy but can also be enjoyed as a standalone..
My Review Legacy has all the elements of a good young adult dystopian — a believable premise, an oppressive government, a heart wrenching romance, and lots of action. When sixteen-year-old Lex is sent by her mother into the city of San Francisco to infiltrate the Resistance, she’s not even sure she’ll survive. After she’s forced to kill a member of the Guardian Force, she becomes someone she never wanted to be. Distrustful of everyone and everything, she finds herself reluctantly attracted to Resistance member, Quin, a former member of the Guardian Force. The two begin a fragile friendship that blossoms into more as the foundation crumbles beneath their feet. They flee back to the suburbs to find answers from Lex’s mom and discover the fate of the world as they know it may rest upon them.
The plot was equal parts action/adventure and romance and both were well done. The chemistry between Lex and Quin is immediate, but the relationship develops slowly. Quin has his secrets which force him to keep Lex at arms’ length at first. But everyone has secrets and they’re revealed one by one, adding twists and turns to the adventure half of the story.
Characters The characters were really well developed, including secondary and even tertiary characters. They all had a depth that brought them to life. I liked all of the characters well enough, but there was no single character that I loved, and that may be what has kept me from rating this book higher than four stars.
Writing The writing was great. The author’s voice is fresh and youthful and her writing is fluid. It may have been one of my favorite aspects of the story.
What Didn’t Work for Me
1. I couldn’t really embrace a single character. I liked them all and rooted for them, but there was no single character, not even Lex, that I was pulling for over all the others.
2. The early pacing. It got off to a slow start, but once it found it’s footing, it took off.
Top Five Things I Enjoyed About Legacy 1. The romance. It’s angsty and intense, just the way I like my teen romances.
2. The danger. The author does an excellent job of seamlessly weaving danger into the conflict and romance.
3. The science. Kane’s dystopian future relies heavily on science and she does a good job of presenting a believable future where science is our downfall.
4. The writing. I love the use of metaphors and the fluid writing style that remains youthful as well as dark, appropriate to the subject matter.
5. The ending. The book wraps up the main story questions while leaving the door wide open for a sequel.
Bottom Line Legacy is a solid young adult dystopian with the right mix of action and romance. I’ve already bought the next two books in the series!
Disclaimer I was provided with a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.
About the Book Title: Legacy Series: Legacy #1 Author: Ellery A. Kane Publisher: Balboa Press Pages: 258 Category: Young Adult Dystopian Romance Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo
Author Ellery A. Kane
About the Author Forensic psychologist by day, young-adult novelist by night, Ellery Kane has been writing—professionally and creatively—for as long as she can remember. Just like her main character, Lex, Ellery loves to ask why, which is the reason she became a psychologist in the first place. Real life really is stranger than fiction, and Ellery’s writing is often inspired by her day job. Evaluating violent criminals and treating trauma victims, she has gained a unique perspective on the past and its indelible influence on the individual. An avid short story writer as a teenager, Ellery recently began writing for enjoyment again, and the Legacy series was born.
Ellery’s debut novel, Legacy, has received several awards, including winning the Gold Medal in the Independent Publisher Book Awards, young adult, e-book category. Ellery was recently selected as one of ten semifinalists in the MasterClass James Patterson Co-Author Competition..
Today we are sharing an incredible giveaway hosted by the Best First Book RITA Nominated Authors. They are giving away 2 $50 Amazon Gift Cards, and a copy of each of the nominated titles. There will be 3 winners total. Be sure to sign up below and check out the authors who are participating and their incredible titles.
No Better Man (Heart of the Rockies #1) by Sara Richardson
Synopsis “Charming, witty, and fun. There’s no better read. I enjoyed every word!” –DEBBIE MACOMBER, #1 New York Timesbestselling author A DARING PROPOSITION
When it comes to business, Avery King always comes out on top. So after a very public breakup, work is the perfect excuse to flee the Windy City for the gentle breezes of Aspen, Colorado. Her mission: acquire the land of a rundown mountain ranch. Avery expects an easy win . . . until she meets the rugged and irresistible rancher who won’t give up his property without a fight.
Bryce Walker is stunned by the stubborn beauty determined to get what she wants. But what she wants is his last connection to the life he used to have. Bryce has plans to return the ranch to its former glory and no way will he sell his family home. Yet the more time he spends with Avery, the more her sweet touch makes him forget his painful memories. Now Bryce must decide whether living in the past is worth losing his future.
Author Sara Richardson
About the Author Sara Richardson grew up chasing adventure in Colorado’s rugged mountains. She’s climbed to the top of a 14,000-foot peak at midnight, swam through Class IV rapids, completed her wilderness first-aid certification, and spent seven days at a time tromping through the wilderness with a thirty-pound backpack strapped to her shoulders.
Eventually, Sara did the responsible thing and got an education in writing and journalism. After a brief stint in the corporate writing world, she stopped ignoring the voices in her head and started writing fiction. Now, she uses her experience as a mountain adventure guide to write stories that incorporate adventure with romance. Still indulging her adventurous spirit, Sara lives and plays in Colorado with her saint of a husband and two young sons. .
About Night Hush Title: Night Hush Series: Duty & Honor #1 Author: Leslie Jones Publisher: Witness Impulse Release Date: January 20, 2015 Genre: Contemporary Military Romance Links:Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | HarperCollins
Synopsis In this gripping and action-packed debut, an Army Intelligence officer and a Delta Force soldier must race against the clock to stop a catastrophic terrorist attack …
When Army Intelligence officer Heather Langstrom’s military convoy is ambushed and she’s taken prisoner, she knows she’ll need all her strength and courage to survive, escape her captors, and report the whispers of unrest brewing in the Middle East.
Delta Force Captain Jace Reed isn’t one to throw caution to the wind, but when his team stumbles upon beaten and weak Heather fleeing the terrorist training camp they’ve been dispatched to destroy, he’ll risk everything to get her to safety.
Once back on base, they learn her convoy’s ambush was no accident … she’d been targeted. As the evidence of an impending attack mounts, Jace and Heather uncover a deadly terrorist plot that could kill hundreds of civilians.
But Jace’s protective instincts and Heather’s fierce independence put them at constant odds. And as they close in on the extremists, they must learn to trust one another in order to save innocent lives … even if it means sacrificing their own.
Author Leslie Jones
About the Author Leslie Jones has been an IT geek, a graphic designer, and, much like her heroine, an Army Intelligence officer, bringing her firsthand experience to the pages of her works. She’s lived in Alaska, Korea, Belgium, Germany, and other exotic locations (including New Jersey). She is a wife, mother, and full-time writer and splits her time between Scottsdale, Arizona, and Cincinnati, Ohio. ..
The Strongest Steel (Second Circle Tattoos #1) by Scarlett Cole
About The Strongest Steel Title: The Strongest Steel Series: Second Circle Tattoos #1 Author: Scarlett Cole Publisher: St. Martin’s Press Release Date: July 7, 2015 Genre: Romantic Suspense Links:Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | !ndigo
Synopsis Harper Connelly never expected to find herself outside of a tattoo parlor at one in the morning, summoning the nerve to take back her past. She’s determined to forget her old life and is looking for an artist who can tattoo over the scars on her back.
Trent Andrews, local legend and owner of the Second Circle tattoo studio, has his own reasons for specializing in inking over scars. And in spite of her mysterious past and the difficult road ahead, he quickly realizes that Harper is funny, smart, and–under her ridiculously oversized clothing and SPF 100 sunscreen–totally hot. He’s happy to take on the challenge of designing a meaningful and deadly full-back tattoo for her.
But when cryptic messages start appearing on Harper’s phone, strange deliveries arrive at her door, and Second Circle is vandalized, Harper is convinced that her ex-boyfriend has tracked her down, and worse, that he knows about Trent. Running was the only thing that saved her last time, but now that she’s started to put down roots in Miami, she’ll have to decide if she can finally fight back instead.
Author Scarlett Cole
About the Author Two-time RITA finalist, Scarlett Cole, is a contemporary romantic suspense / contemporary romance author (represented by Beth Phelan at The Bent Agency). Author of the Second Circle Tattoos Series. The Strongest Steel was a Best Debut Goodreads Author Finalist 2015, and Authors on the Air Global Radio Network #1 Contemporary Romance Pick for 2015.
When Scarlett isn’t writing, she spends her time reading, hoarding mason jars, and working out to off-set an epic sour candy habit.
Having travelled the world for work and fun, Scarlett is a citizen of both Britain and Canada. A true city-dweller, she considers Toronto and Manchester home and likes to set her books in vibrant locations such as Miami and Los Angeles.
Synopsis A new adult romance from Entangled’s Embrace imprint…
When “normal” ends, survival begins…
The sickness came on suddenly and violently. When it was done, waitress Blue Michaels was different in a really strange way. And the entire town of Glory was dead…except for her.
Only that’s not exactly true. A handful of people made it, including U.S. Army Specialist Seth Campbell, who was caught in the wrong town at the worst time. He’s fierce and protective, and way too good-looking. As much as they need a leader—as much as Blue wants to trust him—there are too many questions and not enough time for answers. Now they are hunted. But what their pursuers don’t know is each of them has strange new powers. And they’ll use their “gifts” to survive…no matter who stands in their way.
Author Marnee Blake
About the Author Award-winning author and RITA® finalist Marnee Blake used to teach high school students but these days she only has to wrangle her own children. Originally from a small town in Western Pennsylvania, she now battles traffic in southern New Jersey where she lives with her hero husband and their happily-ever-after: two very energetic boys. When she isn’t writing, she can be found refereeing disputes between her children, cooking up something sweet, or hiding from encroaching dust bunnies with a book.
Leif Skarsganger and his elite band of immortal warriors have been charged to protect humanity from the evil Norse god Loki.
Under attack from Loki’s minions, Leif is shocked to encounter a dark-haired beauty who fights like a warrior herself. Wounded and feverish, the Viking kisses her, inadvertently triggering an ancient Norse bond. But when Naya Brisbane breaks away and disappears before the bond is completed, Leif’s warrior spirit goes berserk. If Leif doesn’t find her fast, he’s going to lose himself to permanent battle fury.
But Naya doesn’t want to be found…and he’ll do anything to find her. Because they’re both running out of time.
Author Asa Maria Bradley
About the Author 2016 RITA Double Finalist Asa Maria Bradley grew up in Sweden surrounded by archaeology and history steeped in Norse mythology, which inspired the immortal Vikings in her paranormal romances. She also writes romantic suspense and now lives on a lake in the Pacific Northwest with a British husband and a rescue dog of indeterminate breed.
A Noble Masquerade (Hawthorne House #1) by Kristi Ann Hunter
About A Noble Masquerade Title: A Noble Masquerade Series: Hawthorne House #1 Author: Kristi Ann Hunter Publisher: Bethany House Release Date: September 8, 2015 Genre: Historical Regency Romance Links:Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | BAM! | IndieBound
Synopsis Lady Miranda Hawthorne acts every inch the lady, but inside she longs to be bold and carefree. Entering her fourth Season and approaching spinsterhood in the eyes of society, she pours her innermost feelings out not in a diary but in letters to her brother’s old school friend, a duke–with no intention of ever sending these private thoughts to a man she’s heard stories about but never met. Meanwhile, she also finds herself intrigued by Marcus, her brother’s new valet, and although she may wish to break free of the strictures that bind her, falling in love with a servant is more of a rebellion than she planned.
When Marcus accidentally discovers and mails one of the letters to her unwitting confidant, Miranda is beyond mortified. And even more shocked when the duke returns her note with one of his own that initiates a courtship-by-mail. Insecurity about her lack of suitors shifts into confusion at her growing feelings for two men–one she’s never met but whose words deeply resonate with her heart, and one she has come to depend on but whose behavior is more and more suspicious. When it becomes apparent state secrets are at risk and Marcus is right in the thick of the conflict, one thing is certain: Miranda’s heart is far from all that’s at risk for the Hawthornes and those they love..
Author Kristi Ann Hunter
About the Author Kristi Ann Hunter graduated from Georgia Tech with a degree in Computer Science but always knew she wanted to write. Kristi is an RWA Golden Heart contest winner, an ACFW Genesis contest winner, and a Georgia Romance Writers Maggie Award for Excellence winner. She lives with her husband and three children in Georgia.
Forget Tomorrow (Forget Tomorrow #1) by Pintip Dunn
About Forget Tomorrow Title: Forget Tomorrow Series: Forget Tomorrow #1 Author: Pintip Dunn Publisher: Entangled Teen Release Date: November 3, 2015 Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction/Dystopian Romance Links:Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo | Book Depository
Synopsis Imagine a world where your destiny has already been decided…by your future self.
It’s Callie’s seventeenth birthday and, like everyone else, she’s eagerly awaiting her vision―a memory sent back in time to sculpt each citizen into the person they’re meant to be. A world-class swimmer. A renowned scientist.
Or in Callie’s case, a criminal.
In her vision, she sees herself murdering her gifted younger sister. Before she can process what it means, Callie is arrested and placed in Limbo―a prison for those destined to break the law. With the help of her childhood crush, Logan, a boy she hasn’t spoken to in five years, she escapes the hellish prison.
But on the run from her future, as well as the government, Callie sets in motion a chain of events that she hopes will change her fate. If not, she must figure out how to protect her sister from the biggest threat of all.
Author Pintip Dunn
About the Author When her first-grade teacher asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up, Pintip replied, “An author.” Although she has pursued other interests over the years, this dream has never wavered.
Pintip graduated from Harvard University, magna cum laude, with an A.B. in English Literature and Language. She received her J.D. at Yale Law School, where she was an editor of the YALE LAW JOURNAL.
Pintip is represented by literary agent Beth Miller of Writers House. She is a 2012 RWA Golden Heart® finalist and a 2014 double-finalist. She lives with her husband and children in Maryland..
Pairing Off (Red Hot Russians #1) by Elizabeth Harmon
About Pairing Off Title: Pairing Off Series: Red Hot Russians #1 Author: Elizabeth Harmon Publisher: Carina Press Release Date: February 2, 2015 Genre: Contemporary Sports Romance Links:Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo | GooglePlay
Synopsis A scandal-plagued American figure skater’s last chance at gold means pairing up with Russia’s sexiest male skater…who happens to be the first man she ever loved.
“The Cutting Edge” with a Russian twist.
American pairs figure skater Carrie Parker’s Winter Games dreams were dashed when her philandering partner caused one of the greatest scandals in skating history. Blacklisted from competing in America, her career is over…until she receives a mysterious invitation and is reunited with the most infuriating, talented—and handsome—skater she’s ever met.
Russian champion Anton Belikov knows sacrifice. He gave up a normal life and any hope of a meaningful relationship to pursue his dream. And he’s come close—with a silver medal already under his belt, the next stop is the gold. All he needs is a partner. While he’s never forgotten the young American skater he seduced one long-ago night in Amsterdam, he never expected to see her again…never mind skate with her.
When what starts as a publicity stunt grows into something real between them, Carrie and Anton’s partnership will test their loyalties to family, country, and each other. With only a few months to train for the competition of a lifetime, can they master technique and their emotions, or will they lose their footing and fall victim to the heartaches of their pasts?
Author Elizabeth Harmon
About the Author I love stories that give a fresh take on classic themes, and feature characters and locations not often seen in romance. Give me a lovable, if less-than-perfect heroine, a gorgeous hero with a heart of gold, take them a little off the beaten path and I’m a happy girl.
I read a variety of genres– romance to horror and just about everything in between. I am a member of Romance Writers of America. I have worked as a freelance journalist for a number of local publications and am a contributing writer to Romance Writers Report.
When I’m not writing, I love to ice skate, bike ride, hang out at the beach or on my front porch. I love vintage homes, adventurous cooking, spending time with my family and traveling.
Synopsis College freshman Liv is more than just a fangirl: The Starveil movies are her life… So, when her favorite character, Captain Matt Spartan, is killed off at the end of the last movie, Liv Just. Can’t. Deal.
Tired of sitting in her room sobbing, Liv decides to launch an online campaign to bring her beloved hero back to life. With the help of her best friend, Xander, actor and steampunk cosplayer extraordinaire, she creates #SpartanSurvived, a campaign to ignite the fandom. But as her online life succeeds beyond her wildest dreams, Liv is forced to balance that with the pressures of school, her mother’s disapproval, and her (mostly nonexistent and entirely traumatic) romantic life. A trip to DragonCon with Xander might be exactly what she needs to figure out what she really wants.
My Review All the Feels is the adorable story of socially awkward Liv and her love of the scifi franchise, Starveil. I had a hard time understanding her devotion to this movie and the death of the main character until I put myself squarely in her shoes and imagined Starveil as Star Wars and Spartan as Han Solo. But even that didn’t quite do it. I had to go to television, something that I watch weekly, or in the case of Netflix, daily, and the death of a major character, and then I got it. My teen daughter is really into her fandoms and the death of a popular character on The 100 made the internet implode, not to mention all the hype surrounding nearly every death on Game of Thrones. Just say the words Red Wedding and you’re bound to bring one of your friends to tears. And any fan of Doctor Who can be eviscerated with the simple word, Doomsday.
All the Feels is about one of these super fans who is devoted to her franchise and it’s star. So when his character is killed off in the latest movie, she’s initially in shock, then in mourning. As she travels through the stages of grief, she reaches anger and decides to do something about it. With her best friend, a steampunk cosplayer named Xander, she stages a campaign to bring Spartan back by pretending he was never killed in the first place. Liv’s crusade garners both fans and detractors and complicates her relationship with Xander, but when they head off to Dragon-Con in Atlanta, anything is possible.
The plot was two-fold — saving Spartan and an underlying romance between Liv and Xander. It’s obvious from the start these two belong together, but Xander has a perfect girlfriend and confidence in spades while Liv has difficulty expressing her emotions, seemingly happier communicating online than in person. The story started off slower than I’d hoped, and it took me at least half of the book to really get into it. I think part of it is I wasn’t invested in her goal of saving Starveil until I could empathize with her. The other reason is the relationship between Liv and Xander doesn’t really heat up until late in the book.
Characters As an extrovert to the nth degree, I had a hard time warming up to introvert Liv, but once I did, I absolutely adored her. Xander took me a bit longer. He’s an odd duck and not your usual romance hero. But once I figured out what he was all about, I appreciated his quirkiness and his undying loyalty to his friend, Liv. Liv is pretty well fleshed out, but I never got a complete sense of why Xander is the way he is. He’s confident, socially skilled, but he lives in a world of cosplay rather than escaping to it, which didn’t seem to fit the typical cosplayer. But then again, Xander seems to defy all stereotypes. The rest of the characters are there to serve a purpose, but there isn’t much to them.
Writing The writing is fantastic. I love the author’s voice. Her metaphors and similes were fresh and unique, and the dialogue is witty and age-appropriate.
What Didn’t Work for Me
1. The pacing was slow in the beginning.
2. The other characters lacked depth to help me really understand why they were the way they were, particularly Liv’s mom’s boyfriend and Joe, the middle-aged Starveil superfan.
Top Five Things I Enjoyed About All the Feels 1. Xander’s bisexuality. This is an underrepresented demographic in all fiction, but particularly in young adult, and he’s anything but stereotypical.
2. The writing. I found the author’s voice to be fresh, young, and lively.
3. Con. As a big Comic-Con fan, I loved this whole aspect of the story. Even though I live like twenty minutes from the convention center in San Diego, I have never been able to score passes, although I try every year. It doesn’t stop me from going downtown and participating in activities and panels outside the convention center itself, but I adored the insiders look at the actual Con experience.
4. Fandoms. My daughter is big into the whole fandom thing, so I wasn’t surprised to see the devotion, the online hysteria, and nearly obsessive nature of that kind of devotion, even if I had a hard time understanding it at first.
5. Liv and Xander. They are adorable together.
Bottom Line All the Feels is super sweet for a new adult romance, and for that reason alone, it’s refreshing!
Disclaimer I was provided with a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
About the Book Title: All the Feels Author: Danika Stone Publisher: Swoon Reads Pages: 336 Category: New Adult Contemporary Romance Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Author Danika Stone
About the Author Danika Stone is an author, artist, and educator who discovered a passion for writing fiction while in the throes of her Masters thesis. A self-declared bibliophile, Danika now writes novels for both adults (The Intaglio Series and Ctrl Z) and teens (Icarus and All the Feels). When not writing, Danika can be found hiking in the Rockies, planning grand adventures, and spending far too much time online. She lives with her husband, three sons, and a houseful of imaginary characters in a windy corner of Alberta, Canada.
The first book in Danika’s upcoming Tathagata series (Edge of Wild) was selected as a quarter-finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel of the Year Award (2013). Edge of Wild (Stonehouse CA) will be released March 2016. Danika’s YA novel, All the Feels (Macmillan US), will be released June 2016.
Ms. Stone is represented by Morty Mint of Mint Literary Agency.
The 2016 Debut Authors Bash hosted by YA Reads is a fantastic way to discover new authors and their books. I’m hosting the wonderfully funny and talented Jennifer DiGiovanni, author of the delightfully witty young adult romance, My Senior Year of Awesome. You can read my five star review of this debut novel here.
Leave your own funniest vacation disaster in the comments section.
Top Ten Vacation Disasters
When you bring the hair spray for 10% humidity level, but you encounter a 100% humidity level.
That time your parents decided to showcase their vocal skills at the resort’s family karaoke night.
Any situation that prompts you to say “I’m sure we’ll laugh about this later.”
When you pick up the wrong suitcase at baggage claim and wind up with a week’s worth of clothes fit for your grandmother.
Unintentionally hiking through a skunk crossing.
Packing underwear for only 2 of your 3 children.
“Sorry, the swimming pool is closed for maintenance. But the arcade is open.”
“Didn’t we tell you when you booked this cruise that it’s Star Trek fan club week? Please come to dinner dressed as your favorite Vulcan.”
Making it to the airport with 5 minutes to spare. And finding out that your plane leaves from gate Z-189 when your standing at gate A-1.
Seriously? You need a passport to get into Bermuda?
My Senior Year of Awesome by Jennifer DiGiovanni
About the Book Title: My Senior Year of Awesome Series: School Dayz #1 Author: Jennifer DiGiovanni Publisher: Swoon Romance Release Date: March 1, 2016 Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance Links:Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Synopsis A girl desperately tries to avoid the boy she was voted most likely to marry by her senior classmates. To prove senior superlative votes are meaningless, she and her best friend create their own list of awesome high school achievements to be completed by graduation.
It’s the final semester of senior year, and everyone at Harmony High can’t wait to find out the results of the Senior Superlative votes! But the balloon bursts in Sadie’s face when she discovers she’s been voted “Most Likely to Get Married” to Andy – a boy she’s never dated or ever thought of as a potential boyfriend. Completely and utter mortification sets in.
To prove high school means something more than a Senior Superlative award, Sadie and her best friend Jana decide to create their own list of awesome non-academic achievements to be completed before graduation.
Yet, the harder Sadie works to show everyone she’s not the least bit attracted to Andy, the more appealing he becomes. Typical for the girl who can’t seem to achieve anything important, even the completion of one lousy college application.
When senioritis kicks in and the school year dwindles down to mere weeks, Sadie decides to risk her good girl reputation to prove that an Awesome Achievement means much more than any Senior Superlative vote. By the time Sadie realizes her epic screw-up, she just might have lost her chance at the prom date of her dreams.
About the Author Jennifer is a freelance writer and YA author. When she’s not writing, you can find her reading, working on home design projects, or trying to meet the daily goals on her Fitbit. MySeniorYear of Awesome is her first novel.