Young Adult Book Review – MY SOUL TO KEEP (Rise of the Fallen) by Sean Hayden

MY SOUL TO KEEP (Rise of the Fallen) by Sean Hayden

MY SOUL TO KEEP (Rise of the Fallen) by Sean Hayden

4.0 Stars

Synopsis
Ever have one of those bad ideas just pop into your head? You know the ones. They seem like a great idea at the time, but if you had stopped to think about it a moment…

I’m talking about those ideas where you just seize the moment and do what your heart tells you to. Then, after the dust settles and you get bandaged up, your parents say, “What the hell were you thinking?”

“But, Dad, I wasn’t!”

I had one of those moments.

I guess if you want to be technical, I had a whole chain of those moments leading up to the big bang moment. The problem was I didn’t have anyone standing around saying, “What the hell were you thinking?”

The moral of this story?

There are several.

First, stores don’t sell black candles for a reason. They’re bad news. If you happen to come across one in the mall that sells questionable items…walk away. Trust me on this one. Black candles are bad.

Second, always know what you want out of life. Coasting along, not caring about anything will get you into trouble. Maybe more than you can handle.

Lastly, if someone offers to grant you your fondest wish, wish for something you really, truly want. Wish for something that will make the world a better place or you a better person. Never ever wish to be a monster… .

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My Review
This was a fun, fast read with lots of action and great characters. Connor is a sarcastic teen with a quick wit and a sharp tongue, but he’s got a heart, which is his redeeming quality right out of the gate. When he says a mysterious chant he isn’t sure where he heard, he’s offered the opportunity for immortality. Connor turns it upside and asks for the one thing no one has asked for before, to become one of the Fallen, those with the powers to grant immortality to others. To say Connor doesn’t know what he’s gotten himself into is an understatement. Along with and annoying younger sister, clueless parents, and a snarky Fallen to help train him, Connor navigates the waters of his new “life.” What he doesn’t count on is falling in love with a mortal.

Plot
The plotting was solid and there were more than a couple of unexpected twists. The pacing was constant, never dragging. The story mixes equal parts paranormal adventure and romance, with a hint at a love triangle, that’s well enough done to not be annoying. My only complaint is the ending. Even though this is a paranormal where anything goes, I thought it was just a little too neatly resolved.

Characters
Connor is well-developed and a delightfully refreshing protagonist in the genre. The author brings a male perspective to young adult romance that fully illustrates the awkwardness and self-doubt of teen boys. Clarisse, as Connor’s unwilling teacher in all things Fallen, is also fully fleshed out and lends an element of angst that is anything but pathetic. Her feelings for Connor or clear, but she’s tough and determined, with a hint of anger thrown into the mix. By far, she’s my favorite character in the series to date. The remaining characters, including Connor’s sister, friends, and even his love interest, Jessie, fell a little flat for me, though.

What I Enjoyed About MY SOUL TO KEEP
1. Connor.
 His sarcastic wit made him easy to like, but his big heart made him an even better character that I came to love.

2. Clarisse. She’s totally kick-ass, take-no-prisoners, with a streak of vulnerability that easily made her my favorite character.

3. The Fallen. I love this twist on the paranormal genre. Looking forward to reading the second book in the series.

4. World Building. The author did quite a bit of world building, developing nuanced rules to create his own take on this aspect of the paranormal, creating a different stage upon which to set his characters.

5. Twists. There were a fair number of twists that kept the story engaging.

Bottom Line
A fun twist on the paranormal genre with intriguing characters and a fast-paced storyline.

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About the Book – Read for Free with Kindle Unlimited
Title: MY SOUL TO KEEP
Series: Rise of the Fallen #1
Author: Sean Hayden
Publisher: Untold Press
Release Date: April 4, 2012
Pages: 187
Category: Young Adult Paranormal Romance
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU

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Author Sean Hayden

Author Sean Hayden

About the Author
Born the son of a fire chief, Sean naturally developed a love of playing with fire. His family and friends quickly found other outlets for his destructive creativity. Writing is his latest endeavor.

Always a fan of the macabre, mythical, and magical, Sean found a love of urban fantasy and horror. After writing several novels in this genre, he found, fell in love with, and immersed himself in steampunk. He has always wanted to rewrite history and steampunk gave him that opportunity.

Sean currently lives in Florida as a fiber-optic engineer as well as an author. He was blessed with the two most amazing children he could ever hope for, has met the absolute love of his life, who coincidentally is his partner in everything. His hobbies include grand designs on world domination as well as a starring role in his own television sitcom.

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Where to Find Sean Hayden
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter
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Book Review – ALL IN (Full Tilt) by Emma Scott

ALL IN (Full Tilt #2) by Emma Scott

ALL IN (Full Tilt #2) by Emma Scott

5.0 Stars

Synopsis
SPOILERS FOR FULL TILT….

Reeling from her loss, Kacey Dawson is grieving and heartbroken, her addictive demons hauling her back into the alcohol-soaked abyss she worked so hard to crawl out of. Kacey teeters on the edge of oblivion, and must fight her way through the pain, to build a new life for herself with her music, and somehow fulfill the promise she made to Jonah…one she feels is impossible to keep.

Theo Fletcher has a secret burning in his heart, one that he holds close, while he struggles to keep strong for his family that is falling apart. His mother’s health is fragile and his father’s disapproval is breaking him down. Theo is afraid if he follows his heart, he’ll fail, and not just himself, but his brother who believed in him when no one else did.

Drawn together by their pain, Theo and Kacey slowly build a friendship, re-forge old ties, help each other to heal, and give one another the courage to reach for their dreams. Together, from the depths of grief and guilt, they learn to laugh again, to trust again, and quite possibly find something beautiful and lasting amid the shattered pieces of their broken hearts.

Part II of the two-part Full Tilt duet, coming Oct 2016

PLEASE NOTE, this novel is NOT a standalone. It is highly recommended one read Full Tilt first to get the entire arc of the story and to avoid spoilers.

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My Review
I needed some time to grieve and regroup after finishing FULL TILT, but then I was finally ready to read the rest of Kacey’s story. This time around, we hear from Jonah’s brother, Theo. It’s no secret to readers that Theo has it bad for Kacey, but it is a secret to her. The first half of the book deals with Kacey’s out-of-control spiral of pain and Theo’s guilt over his feelings for his brother’s love, even though Jonah told him to find happiness with her. The second half is them coming to terms with their feelings for each other. Everyone has an opinion on their relationship, which only drives more conflict. The pacing is great and the emotions are raw and real.

Plot
Primarily, the plot centers around the relationship between Theo and Kacey. It is less of a romance and more of an in-depth, emotional commitment from the get-go. They lean on each other as the cope with the loss of Jonah, and that connection builds into something more. So much of the story is about their internal struggles with loss, love, and letting go as well as acceptance and moving forward.

Characters
The characters are just as deep and wounded and broken as ever, but they get to heal in this installment. Healing leads to growth and some semblance of happiness, although the story has an edge of realness to it, meaning it’s not without the pitfalls that real life brings.

World Building
Once again, Emma Scott brings her settings to life. Everything from Kacey’s shotgun house in New Orleans to Theo’s tattoo studio in Las Vegas feels authentic and draws me deeper into the story.

What I Loved About ALL IN
1. Reality.
The author makes her characters work hard for every ounce of progress they make. Nothing is easy, but it’s rooted in reality, making it that much more satisfying.

2. Kacey. She’s so broken, and yet that fighting spirit is always there, just under the surface, waiting.

3. Tattoos. I don’t have any, but as a recent breast cancer survivor, I have a few in my very near future. The idea of Theo’s unfinished art to cover my scars is something that has had me scouring my local tattoo community for something similar.

4. Redemption. It takes a lot, but both Theo and Kacey get very satisfying endings to their stories. It’s a painful route, but oh so worth it in the end.

5. Theo. I liked him before, but I love him now. He’s complex, loyal, and has an underlying need to do the right thing. Always.

Bottom Line
A utterly emotional and satisfying conclusion to this duet.

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About the Book
Title: ALL IN
Series: Full Tilt #2
Author: Emma Scott
Publisher: Trillian
Release Date: October 11, 2016
Pages: 281
Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating:
5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU

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Author Emma Scott

Author Emma Scott

About the Author
Emma Scott is a writer, marathon runner, and caffeine addict, who lives and writes in the California Bay Area. She has two smart, feisty little girls, a super-supportive husband, and is a demonstrated fan of the Oxford comma. She is also an unabashed Star Wars geek and comic book enthusiast who fell into romance novels when a writing contest prompt turned a 1000-word romantic story into a full-blown novel. She also writes epic fantasy that suffers an epic word count.

She hopes you enjoy her work, encourages readers to leave feedback, and thinks it’s amusing to write about herself in the third person. And if she has a driving force that fuels her work, it’s that love always wins.

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Where to find Emma Scott
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter
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Book Review – TEMPTING LEVI (Cade Brothers) by Jules Barnard

TEMPTING LEVI (Cade Brothers #1) by Jules Barnard

TEMPTING LEVI (Cade Brothers #1) by Jules Barnard

4 Stars

Synopsis
Cade men are known for two things: arrogance and competitiveness. I grew up in one of the wealthiest, most dysfunctional families in Lake Tahoe, and all I wanted was to get the hell out. I thought I’d succeeded. Until an accident burned up my firefighter ambitions. Then Dad died and left me in charge of the family’s luxury resort. 

If it were only my inheritance on the line, I’d walk and never look back, but I’ve always taken care of my four younger brothers.

Now I’ve got financially uptight advisors telling me what to do, and I need someone I can trust working at my side. The perfect candidate walks through the door in her pencil skirt, fitted white blouse, and that mass of wavy blond hair she tries to contain.

The only problem? She’s my cheating ex’s younger sister.

Hell no. The last thing I need is another Wright female in my life.

But Emily’s good at the job, and she seems trustworthy. I should ignore the desire I have for her. But after all I’ve lost, I’m tempted by what I can’t have and ready to stoke the flame that smolders between us. As long as this Wright sister doesn’t betray me the way the last one did.

Then again, I always liked playing with fire..

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My Review
This first installment in the new Cade Brothers series, a spinoff of the Blue series, is worthy of it’s heritage. We meet Lisa’s ex-boyfriend Levi, brother of Adam, and Lisa’s half-sister, Emily. After the death of their father, Levi is put in charge of Blue Casino’s rival, Club Tahoe, with the help of recent MBA graduate, Emily. There’s a lot of baggage between the brothers and a reluctance on the part of both Emily and Levi to go where exes should never go, but that only adds a layer of forbidden love to this romance. Part sweet romance with just enough heat, part comedy, this book delivers another Jules Barnard treat.

Plot
The push and pull of Levi and Emily’s budding romance is the heart of the story, but there are solid subplots involving Levi’s relationships with his brothers and various business interests of the resort. All of it plays well together and help drives conflict. There’s also a quasi mystery to be solved, making this a fun, fast page-turning romance.

Characters
Levi and Emily are both complex, although Levi more so. Emily doesn’t have anywhere near as much baggage, which works out fairly well, because Levi has enough for the both of them. I loved reconnecting with some of my favorite characters from the Blue series as well. At times, both Levi and Emily came across as a little more angsty than I would think adults their age would be, but it wasn’t to the point of being distracting. Plus, I love my romance with a little angst.

What I Enjoyed About TEMPTING LEVI
1. Grace.
 What’s not to love about a giant, elderly rescue dog?

2. Boy Drama. There’s so much drama between the Cade brothers, it was refreshing to have that kind of conflict between boys for a change.

3. Levi. I love how he really needed to do the right thing, even when it wasn’t what he wanted.

4. Emily. She’s smart and funny. Maybe a little too straight-laced for me, but she was perfect for Levi.

5. Lisa. She’s the best sister.

Bottom Line
A solid new adult romance with a swoony alpha male and an equally alpha female.

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About the Book
Title: TEMPTING LEVI
Series: Cade Brothers #1
Author: Jules Barnard
Pages: 235
Category: New Adult Contemporary Romance/Romantic Comedy
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo | GooglePlay

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Author Jules Barnard

Author Jules Barnard

About the Author
Before turning to storytelling, Jules earned a master’s degree in public health and spent many an hour running statistical analysis–until she realized her favorite part of the job was writing reports.

She decided to cut out the math and add in some hot guys, and so began her career as a novelist.

Jules is a Northern California native living on the coast with her husband and two children. She has no impulse control around cupcakes and credits herself with the ability to read while running on the treadmill or burning dinner.
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Where to Find Jules Barnard
Goodreads | Website Facebook | Twitter

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Young Adult Book Review + Giveaway – REMEMBER ME FOREVER (The Lovely Vicious) by Sara Wolf

REMEMBER ME FOREVER Blog Tour

 

REMEMBER ME FOREVER (The Lovely Vicious #3) by Sara Wolf

REMEMBER ME FOREVER (The Lovely Vicious #3) by Sara Wolf

5 Stars

Synopsis
Isis Blake hasn’t fallen in love in three years, forty-three weeks, and two days. Or so she thinks.

The boy she maybe-sort-of-definitely loved and sort-of-maybe-definitely hated has dropped off the face of the planet in the face of tragedy, leaving a Jack Hunter–shaped hole. Determined to be happy, Isis fills it in with lies and puts on a brave smile for her new life at Ohio State University.

But the smile lasts only until he shows up. The menace from her past—her darkest secret, Nameless—is attending OSU right alongside her. And he’s whispering that he has something Isis wants—something she needs to see to move forward. To move on.

Isis has always been able to pretend everything is okay. But not anymore.

Isis Blake might be good at putting herself back together.

But Jack Hunter is better.

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My Review
By far my favorite book in the series!!! While some of the plot felt contrived in the second book and it took me a while to warm up to both Jack and Isis in the first book, this one got everything right as far as I’m concerned. Isis was spunkier, which made her witty humor come across as more lovable and less defensive.

Still reeling from Sophia’s suicide, Isis leaves behind her mom and an opportunity at Stanford to got to Ohio State (THE Ohio State in case you’re from that area) University. She feels like a child in an adult world, which is exactly what she needs to grow up. she quickly befriends a couple of quirky characters before running into not one, but two ghosts from her past. Both Nameless and Jack turn her world upside down in different ways — ways that help her on her continued path to healing.

Plot
The main plot is the relationship between Jack and Isis, but Isis deals with her past with Nameless and her future. Jack has subplots involving his own demons as well as his employment with the mysterious Gregory. All of the loose ends from the previous two books are tied up neatly in a satisfying conclusion.

Characters
I love how much growth both characters experienced. They were so much easier to root for in this book. Isis is still snarky and Jack is still, well, Jack, but different. Isis’s self-deprecating humor and penchant for thinking out loud were more lighthearted and endearing than weird and dark. Jack comes into his own, and instead of being more mysterious, his actions make sense. He, too, is less dark and twisty. The new characters, Isis roommate and her girlfriend, contribute to the softer tone of this this installation that is more lovely than vicious.

What I Loved About REMEMBER ME ALWAYS
1. Isis.
 Right out of the blocks, she was hilariously eccentric in that way only Isis can be.

2. Jack. He finally has his sh*t together and has become the boy, or man, Isis deserves.

3. Revenge. Without giving anything away, there is a scene with Unnamed at the end that makes the build up through three books worth it.

4. Gregory. I didn’t know what to make of him in the second book, but his personality is revealed in REMEMBER ME FOREVER in a way that makes all of his actions understandable.

5. The Ending. I love the way the author wrapped up this book and the series. It’s completely satisfying, although I will miss Jack and Isis terribly.

Bottom Line
My favorite book in the series, it has a lighter tone and wraps up all the loose ends with characters I’ve grown to love.

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

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About the Book
Title: REMEMBER ME FOREVER
Series: The Lovely Vicious #3
Author: Sara Wolf
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Pages: 320
Category: Young Adult/New Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo | Entangled

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Author Sara Wolf

Author Sara Wolf

About the Author
Sara Wolf is a twenty-something author who adores baking, screaming at her cats, and screaming at herself while she types hilarious things.

When she was a kid, she was too busy eating dirt to write her first terrible book. Twenty years later, she picked up a keyboard and started mashing her fists on it and created the monster known as the Lovely Vicious series.

She lives in San Diego with two cats, a crippling-yet-refreshing sense of self-doubt, and not enough fruit tarts ever.

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Where to Find Sara Wolf
Goodreads Website | Facebook | Twitter

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Giveaway
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Book Review + Giveaway – CONFESSIONS OF A FORMER PUCK BUNNY by Cindi Madsen

CONFESSIONS OF A FORMER PUCK BUNNY Blog Tour

CONFESSIONS OF A FORMER PUCK BUNNY (Taking Shots #4) by Cindi Madsen

CONFESSIONS OF A FORMER PUCK BUNNY (Taking Shots #4) by Cindi Madsen

3 Stars

Synopsis
Confession #1: I used to be a puck bunny, but after a hockey player broke my heart, I gave up all things hockey. Now I’m just focused on finding a way to pass my math class so I can graduate college.

Confession #2: Ryder “Ox” Maddox’s deep, sexy voice sends fuzzy tingles through my entire body, and I’m powerless to stop it. Which is a big problem since the hot, surprisingly funny hockey player is my new math tutor.

Confession #3: I can’t stop thinking about how ripped Ryder is from all his hockey training, and how fun it’d be to cross lines with him.

Confession #4: I kissed a hockey player and I liked it.

Confession #5: If I’m not careful, I might relapse and fall for Ryder, and then I’ll be totally pucked.

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My Review
I loved the idea of this book — a girl who used to chase hockey players who realizes she doesn’t like who she’s become, is pursued by a hockey player. But the execution didn’t live up to my expectations. I found Lindsay to be extremely annoying, but I did like Ryder. Lindsay went back and forth between knowing who she is and being unapologetic about it, to being ridiculously unable to control her own hormones around Ryder while keeping him at a distance. I’m frankly shocked he put up with that. Especially because the only thing he seems to like about her initially is her appearance. He talks about how hot she is all the time. It’s almost as if he only wanted the challenge of the chase, except he didn’t really seem to enjoy that. The author writes well and the story is well plotted, I just didn’t like the characters. This happens sometimes and based on the other reviews I’ve read, i’m in the minority.

Plot
The plot is Ryder and Lindsay’s relationship. Ryder offers to tutor her in math and thus are forced together. Ryder pursues, Lindsay can barely control herself, yet somehow does, in a back and forth that seems to go on way too long. There are some decent subplots, like Lindsay’s family issues. Her mother relies on men to support her, and Lindsay swears she’ll never be like her mom. Ryder is also preparing for the playoffs, so a relationship may be the last thing he needs, and yet for some unknown reason, he still goes hard after Lindsay. Where the book really worked for me was the hockey aspect. Practice, athletic superstition, parental expectations, and the team dynamics all worked together to keep me invested in the story.

Characters
They both came across as shallow to me. Early on, Lindsay mentions a friend who settled down with a nerdy type, which she can’t understand at all. She’s all about the hard bodies and good looks. Same thing with Ryder. Lindsay’s relationships with other girls is unhealthy, although she does realize that as well as the fact that it’s her own fault. Where I liked Lindsay the most was when I read her confessions. These were heartfelt and honest. But then she’d do something completely stupid and I lost my tenuous respect for her. The rest of the characters intrigued me, though, to the point I want to read the earlier books in the series. I may discover I like Lindsay more if I can see her through the eyes of other characters.

What I Enjoyed About CONFESSIONS OF A FORMER PUCK BUNNY
1. The Confessions.
 I liked Lindsay the most when she was being open and honest, when she was unapologetic about her sexuality and her reasons why.

2. Hockey. The hockey aspect was easily my favorite part of the book. It might be a subplot, but it still kept me engaged and I’m not really a rabid hockey fan. Although since the Chargers packed up and left town, the Gulls might be my new favorite local sports team.

3. Ryder. When he wasn’t being a jealous jerk or refusing to take no for an answer, he was a complex character that drove some of my favorite scenes in the book. His history and drama with his dad added a lot of interesting depth to his character.

4. Daddy Issues. Both Ryder and Lindsay suffer from this common young/new adult-ism, but in different ways. I like the way the author approached them differently — more subtly with Lindsay and more direct with Ryder.

5. Breakups. I love me a good angsty romance and while overall the romance was only a meh for me, the big dramatic breakup scene was what turned me around and made me invest in these two.

Bottom Line
Hockey, college romance, and a couple of kids with a lot of growing up to do.

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

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About the Book
Title: CONFESSIONS OF A FORMER PUCK BUNNY
Series: Taking Shots #4
Author: Cindi Madsen
Publisher: Entangled Embrace
Pages: 310
Category: New Adult Contemporary Sports Romance
Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AUBarnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo

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Author Cindi Madsen

Author Cindi Madsen

About the Author
Cindi Madsen is a USA Today Bestselling author of contemporary romance and young adult novels. She sits at her computer every chance she gets, plotting revising, and falling in love with her characters. Sometimes it makes her a crazy person. Without it, she’d be even crazier. She has way too many shoes, but can always find a reason to buy a new pretty pair, especially if they’re sparkly, colorful, or super tall. She loves music, dancing, and wishes summer lasted all year long. She lives in Colorado (where summer is most definitely NOT all year long) with her husband and three children.

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Where to Find Cindi Madsen
Goodreads Website | Facebook | Twitter | InstagramPinterest

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Giveaway
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Book Review + Giveaway – GOLD RUSH by Jennifer Comeaux

GOLD RUSH by Jennifer Comeaux

GOLD RUSH by Jennifer Comeaux

3.5 Stars

Synopsis
Liza Petrov’s entire life has been about skating and winning her sport’s top prize – Olympic gold. She’s stayed sheltered inside her bubble, not daring to stray from her destined path.

Until she meets Braden Patrick.

He makes her heart flutter with possibility, and for the first time she gets a taste of a normal teenage life. She longs to have both the boy and the gold, but stepping outside her bubble comes with a price. As Liza begins to question both her future and her past, can she stay focused on the present and realize her ultimate dream?

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My Review
Liza, daughter of Sergei and stepdaughter of Em from LIFE ON THE EDGE, gets her own story. At 18, she’s preparing for the Winter Olympics, her life resembling anything but a typical teen one. Until she meets Braden, a dreamy college freshman from UMass. It took me nearly half of the book to really get into it. The first half is almost completely devoid of any serious conflict, and I couldn’t even really identify the antagonist. But once the skating portion really got going at about the 50% point, the story took off.

Liza decides she can’t risk her Olympic dreams by giving into her feelings for a boy, so she keeps him at arm’s length. That doesn’t keep her from being possessive and jealous, though, when other girls pay attention to him. Braden decides to wait for Liza as she focuses on skating, ignoring the attention from may attractive girls, including his childhood BFF, Sam. Liza attempts to paint Sam as the bad guy, but I just never could see her that way. I found her quite sympathetic. So while the romance didn’t have me swooning, the skating sure did. The story hits the mark when Liza takes the ice in Detroit. Tensions ramp up between Liza and Kathy, one of her coaches.

Plot
While I think the main plot is the romance, the skating is probably a stronger plot. Liza’s grit and determination, her discipline and professionalism are front and center as she works her way through the competitions leading up to the Olympics. There is plenty of drama, conflict, and feels when it comes to this part of the story. The romance doesn’t fall flat by any means, it just wasn’t my favorite part of the story.

Characters
While I needed time to warm up to Liza, once I did, I rooted for her fully. She still had moments where she got on my nerves, but when it came to reaching her skating goals, I was behind her one hundred percent. Braden is definitely likeable enough, but he wasn’t developed to the point that I fully got a sense of him. There were times he came across as flat. The characters that I enjoyed the most, even though I didn’t particularly like them, were Kathy and Liza’s mom. Both were controlling in different ways, but I really felt as if I had a sense of who they were and why they did the things they did.

What Didn’t Work for Me
1. Lack of Conflict.
The lack of conflict in the first half of the book made it difficult for me to stick with at times.

2. Braden. I never got a good sense of his character.

3. Liza’s Angst. While pushing Braden away with one hand, she hated on every girl who paid attention to him. It seemed childish for someone of her age and with her level of maturity.

What I Enjoyed About GOLD RUSH
1. Skating.
 I love the competitive skating part of the story. The descriptions are detailed and draw me in.

2. Competitive Liza. When she’s not pining away for a boy she can’t even decide if she wants, she’s a fierce competitive with drive, who knows what she wants and goes after it full bore.

3. Kathy. This was more of a love-hate relationship, but she’s the true antagonist in the story, so I needed her. I would have liked more of her though.

4. Sam. I liked Sam a lot. No, I didn’t want her to end up with Braden, but I didn’t see her as a romantic rival, either. I saw her as a girl who was in love with a boy not in love with her. That’s a sympathetic character no matter which way you look at it.

5. The ending. No spoilers 🙂

Bottom Line
GOLD RUSH has a solid sports storyline that carries the weaker romance across the finish line.

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: GOLD RUSH
Author: Jennifer Comeaux
Release Date: January 9, 2017
Pages: 338
Genre: New Adult Contemporary Sports Romance
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo | Smashwords

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

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

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Giveaway
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Book Review – Wait for Me by J. Lynn

Wait for You (Wait for You #1) by J. Lynn

Wait for You (Wait for You #1) by J. Lynn

3.5 Stars

Synopsis
Some things are worth waiting for…

Traveling thousands of miles from home to enter college is the only way nineteen-year-old Avery Morgansten can escape what happened at the Halloween party five years ago—an event that forever changed her life. All she needs to do is make it to her classes on time, make sure the bracelet on her left wrist stays in place, not draw any attention to herself, and maybe—please God—make a few friends, because surely that would be a nice change of pace. The one thing she didn’t need and never planned on was capturing the attention of the one guy who could shatter the precarious future she’s building for herself.

Some things are worth experiencing…

Cameron Hamilton is six feet and three inches of swoon-worthy hotness, complete with a pair of striking blue eyes and a remarkable ability to make her want things she believed were irrevocably stolen from her. She knows she needs to stay away from him, but Cam is freaking everywhere, with his charm, his witty banter, and that damn dimple that’s just so… so lickable. Getting involved with him is dangerous, but when ignoring the simmering tension that sparks whenever they are around each other becomes impossible, he brings out a side of her she never knew existed.

Some things should never be kept quiet…

But when Avery starts receiving threatening emails and phone calls forcing her to face a past she wants silenced, she’s has no other choice but to acknowledge that someone is refusing to allow her to let go of that night when everything changed. When the devastating truth comes out, will she resurface this time with one less scar? And can Cam be there to help her or will he be dragged down with her?

And some things are worth fighting for…..

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My Review
I’m a huge fan of Jennifer L. Armentrout, but this was my first book by her in the new adult genre. Once again she creates memorable characters, particularly swoonworthy guys, but Avery was lacking that special something that made Katy from the Lux series and Alex from the Covenant series so easy to root for. Avery is a college freshman who moved halfway across the country to escape her past, including her family. She meets Cam in the most awkward way possible, but he’s inexplicably smitten with her. Avery keeps to herself, clearly has a secret, and is haunted by her past, but because Cam is so swoony, she is understandably drawn to him. They begin an unlikely friendship that morphs into more before Avery’s secrets drive a wedge between them.

Plot
Pretty much a straight up romance. Girl meets boy, insta-attraction, boy pursues girl, girl pushes boy away, boy finally wins her over, only for girl to push him away again until she changes and wins him back. There are some underlying themes that are a little different, but nothing groundbreaking. What J. Lynn does well, though, is create amazing chemistry between her characters, and that is definitely in play here between Avery and Cam. There were no real twists or surprises, but as a romance, it’s very enjoyable.

Characters
Both the main characters are well-crafted with solid backstories that shape who they are. My problem was that Avery was too much of a victim for me to really be able to identify with her. I was hoping she’d grow on me through the story, but she never really did. Cam is definitely likeable, but he had some cliched moments, including the fact that he’s a bad boy except when it comes to Avery.

What Didn’t Work for Me
1. Avery.
 I just couldn’t identify with her. I realize her reaction to what happened to her is probably pretty authentic, but I would have liked to see a little more anger and Queen Mary (from Reign) than victimhood from her.

2. Editing. This really surprised me. The book was riddled with the wrong words, bad grammar (“between him and I” instead of “between him and me”) and missing words. So many that it was distracting.

What I Enjoyed About Wait for Me
1. The chemistry.
 This is a JLA hallmark and she does it really well here. The playful banter and the way she draws readers deep into the feelings of her characters is everything I love about her books.

2. Cam. He might be cookie-cutter JLA book boyfriend material, but why mess with perfection?

3. Ollie. He’s adorable and I’ve already peeked to make sure he’s getting his own story!

4. Romantic Valentines Gifts. I wasn’t sure about Cam’s V-day gift to Avery at first. It seemed awfully presumptuous, but it’s grown on me and now seems absolutely perfect.

5. Tough subject matter. J. Lynn deals with two very difficult topics with compassion and heart.

Bottom Line
Wait for Me is a decent new adult romance with boatloads of chemistry and a swoonworthy BBF.

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About the Book
Title: wait for You
Series: Wait for You #1
Author: J. Lynn (Jennifer L. Armentrout)
Release Date: February 26, 2013
Pages: 386
Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating:
 3.5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo | GooglePlay

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Author Jennifer L. Armentrout

Author Jennifer L. Armentrout

About the Author
# 1 NEW YORK TIMES and USA TODAY Bestselling author Jennifer lives in Martinsburg, West Virginia. All the rumors you’ve heard about her state aren’t true. When she’s not hard at work writing. she spends her time reading, working out, watching really bad zombie movies, pretending to write, and hanging out with her husband and her Jack Russell Loki.

Her dreams of becoming an author started in algebra class, where she spent most of her time writing short stories….which explains her dismal grades in math. Jennifer writes young adult paranormal, science fiction, fantasy, and contemporary romance. She is published with Spencer Hill Press, Entangled Teen and Brazen, Disney/Hyperion and Harlequin Teen. Her book Obsidian has been optioned for a major motion picture and her Covenant Series has been optioned for TV.

She also writes adult and New Adult romance under the name J. Lynn. She is published by Entangled Brazen and HarperCollins.
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Find Jennifer L. Armentrout
Goodreads | Website | Series WebsiteFacebook Twitter

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Book Review – Full Tilt by Emma Scott

Full Tilt (Full Tilt #1) by Emma Scott

Full Tilt (Full Tilt #1) by Emma Scott

4.5 Stars

Synopsis
“I would love you forever, if I only had the chance…”

Kacey Dawson has always lived life on the edge–impulsively, sometimes recklessly. And now, as lead guitarist for a hot up-and-coming band, she is poised at the brink of fame and fortune. But she is torn between wanting to be a serious musician, and the demons that lure her down the glittering, but alcohol-soaked path of rock stardom. A wrecked concert in Las Vegas threatens to ruin her career entirely. She wakes up with the hangover from hell and no memory of the night before, or how she ended up on her limo driver’s couch…

Jonah Fletcher is running out of time. He knows his situation is hopeless, and he’s vowed to make the most of the handful of months he has left to him. His plans include seeing the opening of his glass installation at a prestigious art gallery…they do not include falling in love with a wild, tempestuous rock musician who wound up passed out on his couch.

Jonah sees that Kacey is on a path to self-destruction. He lets her crash with him for a few days to dry out and get her head on straight. But neither of them expected the deep connection they felt, or how that connection could grow so fast from friendship into something more. Something deep and pure and life-changing…something as fragile as glass, that they both know will shatter in the end no matter how hard they try to hold on to it.

Full Tilt is a story about what it means to love with your whole heart, to sacrifice, to experience terrible grief and soaring joy. To live life with all its beauty, and all its pain, and in the end to be able to smile through tears and know you wouldn’t have changed a thing.

***FIRST BOOK IN A TWO PART DUET***

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My Review
Going into this, I knew there would be no HEA. It’s pretty much stated in the prologue, but I still wasn’t ready for the ending, and it gutted me in the most bittersweet of ways. Jonah and Kacey are soulmates, that becomes evident as the story unfolds. After Jonah rescues Kacey from her partying ways, their friendship is easy and natural. Stronger feelings develop, but because of Jonah’s health issues, he keeps her at arm’s length, but only for so long. Kacey knows what she’s getting into, but like the reader, she’s still not prepared for the ending.

Plot
As a romance, the main plot is the relationship between Jonah and Kacey. But Kacey’s relationship with her band, her life choices, and Jonah’s art installation are all solid subplots that help drive the main plot. There were times where I felt the pacing slowed down too much for my preference, but not long enough that I set the book aside to read something else. The romance is incredibly well done and heart wrenching. There’s so much emotion that is deep and raw, I was pulled deep into the story.

Characters
All the characters are really well developed, particularly Kacey, Jonah, and Jonah’s brother, Theo. Their backstories are complete and relevant and they lead to some of the most wonderfully complex characters I’ve read recently. Kacey, particularly, has her flaws as a result of deep family wounds. Jonah and Theo respond based on the illness the wrecked Jonah’s heart. There’s so much believable growth through the story, that I only come to love the characters more. So even though I knew how the story would end before the first chapter, it wasn’t any easier to read.

World Building
I love all the settings. Emma Scott makes the unbearable dry heat of Las Vegas come alive in a way that feels as alive as the real deal. And as a San Diegan, I loved the scenes set in my hometown. I loved the references to places I’ve been. And either she’s got some experience with glass blowing or she did her homework. I found myself googling images to see the beauty she crafted in my mind with my own eyes.

What Didn’t Work for Me
1. The pacing.
 There were a few places where things slowed down too much for me, but that’s really my only complaint.

What I Loved About Full Tilt
1. The ending.
 Not really, but I did love that the author warned us ahead of time. I was mentally prepared even if I wasn’t emotionally prepared. But oh what a gut-rippingly beautiful, horrible, amazing ending it was.

2. Theo. I love dark and twisty characters and he’s definitely that, wrapped up in some serious tattooed hotness.

3. The art. I’m now fascinated by Dale Chihuly and his amazing glass art.

4. Jonah. It’s ironic that the man with the biggest heart is also the one with the failing heart.

5. Kacey. She’s a wonderfully complex character that was easy to root for.

Bottom Line
Full Tilt is an emotional new adult romance that will pull at your heartstrings in the best ways.

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About the Book
Title: Full Tilt
Series: Full Tilt #1
Author: Emma Scott
Publisher: Trillian
Release Date: June 28, 2016
Pages: 292
Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating:
 4.5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon

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About the Author
Emma Scott is a writer, marathon runner, and caffeine addict, who lives and writes in the California Bay Area. She has two smart, feisty little girls, a super-supportive husband, and is a demonstrated fan of the Oxford comma. She is also an unabashed Star Wars geek and comic book enthusiast who fell into romance novels when a writing contest prompt turned a 1000-word romantic story into a full-blown novel. She also writes epic fantasy that suffers an epic word count.

She hopes you enjoy her work, encourages readers to leave feedback, and thinks it’s amusing to write about herself in the third person. And if she has a driving force that fuels her work, it’s that love always wins.

Where to find Emma Scott
Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter
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Blog Tour – Review + Giveaway – Fates Entwined (Halven Rising) by Jules Barnard

Fates Entwined (Halven Rising #3) by Jules Barnard

Fates Entwined (Halven Rising #3) by Jules Barnard

4.5 Stars

Synopsis
They can never be together. The notion is laughable. Humans are inferior, a scourge on the Fae and on the magic passed down to them by angels millennia ago. And if Keen finds himself drawn to the tiny human female, he keeps it to himself. He won’t add to the half-breed problem that threatens his people’s existence.

Reese can’t stand Keen. He criticizes her clothing, won’t answer a straight question, and is too handsome for her peace of mind.

Her entire life, people have pegged Reese for a shallow, ditzy blond. She won’t accept the stereotype from the large, arrogant Fae too. But after Keen saves her life, she begins to question what truly lies beneath his stoic demeanor.

Forced together, Keen and Reese fight to survive among enemies, and Keen makes choices Reese couldn’t have predicted. She glimpses a side of him that is protective and dangerously seductive.

But Keen refuses to acknowledge their connection.

Until he’s faced with the decision to betray his people, or lose Reese forever.

*This mature YA series is intended for readers 17 years and older.

**Each Halven Rising novel features a different couple and may be read as a standalone, but an overreaching story arc connects the series, so it’s fun to read them in order.**

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My Review
Fates Entwined picks up where Fates Divided left off, only this time we get Elena’s roommate, Reese’s, point of view along with Keen’s, Elena’s fae body guard. There is more angst this time around, which is my not so secret passion. The whole forbidden love thing is a favorite of mine and it works really well here. When Reese is kidnapped at a frat party and taken into the fae realm, Keen lives up to his promise to Elena to find her and bring her back. The problem is, the evil fae queen is using her as a bargaining chip. With the war of the fae worlds about to erupt, there’s more action this time around, and Reese is a little spitfire caught in the midst of it all.

Plot
The main plot is really the battle between the old and new world faes with the romance as a strong subplot rather than the main plot. However the romance drives Keen’s and Reese’s actions for much of the story. The pacing is well-done, and I never got bored. I loved the way the author teased us throughout with the whole “will they or won’t they” trope.

Characters
We get both Reese’s and Keen’s points of view, but Reese is the narrator for well more than half. She’s spunky, smart, and brave, but she also experiences growth throughout the story. It was fun watching her evolve from the opening pages through the nail-biting ending. Keen has his own character arc and his is more full than Reese’s as he’s forced to acknowledge his Halven bigotry in order to get what he wants — Reese.

World Building
Once again, Jules Barnard delivers an imaginative world in vivid detail. Everything from the landscape and castle to the clothing is richly detailed. The rules of the fae world are as intricate as many of Reese’s formal gowns.

Top Five Things I Enjoyed About  Fates Entwined
1. Reese. She’s so awesome. I love her attitude, her strength and courage. Really everything about her! She was my favorite character in Fates Divided, so I was thrilled to read her point of view.

2. Keen. Still love him just as much as I did in the first book, and maybe more now that I’ve been inside his head.

3. Fae politics. Come on, what’s not to love about that?

4. The action. I loved all the battles in this installment.

5. The angst. The best kind of romance.

Bottom Line
My favorite book in the series so far. I can’t wait to read the next one!

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

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About the Book
Title:
 Fates Entwined
Series: Halvan Rising #3
Author: Jules Barnard
Release Date: November 14, 2016
Pages: 270
Genre: New Adult Fantasy/Paranormal Romance
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UKBarnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo | GooglePlay

Author Jules Barnard

Author Jules Barnard

About the Author

Before turning to storytelling, Jules earned a master’s degree in public health and spent many an hour running statistical analysis–until she realized her favorite part of the job was writing reports.

She decided to cut out the math and add in some hot guys, and so began her career as a novelist.

Jules is a Northern California native living on the coast with her husband and two children. She has no impulse control around cupcakes and credits herself with the ability to read while running on the treadmill or burning dinner.
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Where to Find Jules Barnard
Goodreads | Website Facebook | Twitter

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Giveaway
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Book Review + Giveaway – Seared on My Soul by Cole Gibsen

Seared on My Soul Blog Tour

Seared on My Soul by Cole Gibsen

Seared on My Soul by Cole Gibsen

4 Stars

Synopsis
She’s so young, so full of life…

I couldn’t let her die…

Even if she made the world’s worst coffee.

Emily Garret never asked to be rescued, let alone by a walking JCrew ad whose idea of fun is probably managing his stock portfolio and watching the nightly news. Then again, she never thought she would wind upside-down in a ditch after a night having a little too much fun.

Reece Montgomery never planned on being anyone’s hero, especially the foul-mouthed, bleach-blonde barista from the local coffee shop. He thinks there’s more to Emily than her tattoos, and lip ring, but getting close means letting her into his past and meeting his ghosts.

And he’s not sure she’s ready for that battlefield.

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My Review
I thoroughly enjoyed Seared on My Soul. This is the story of Emily, the BFF of Ashlyn and sister of Lane, whom we met in Written on My Heart. The things I found lacking in Ashlyn and Lane’s story just weren’t a factor here. I fell in love with Emily in the previous book so there was no need for the author to endear her to me. But Reece was new and he took a little bit for me to warm up to, not much though. Straight-laced Reece clashes with Emily’s free-spiritedness, and should have made these two a match made in hell, but instead opposites attract and sparks fly.

Plot
Emily is a party girl with an attitude. Reece is a teacher with PTSD. Emily is tattoos and bandanas, Reece is elbow patches and button-ups. These two have nothing in common except the coffee shop where Emily works and Reece buys his morning cup of joe. Neither is what the other normally considers date material, but when they fake a date to get Lane off of Emily’s back, they end up with far more than they bargained for. Both have a lot to overcome before they can find their HEA and character development is what Cole Gibsen does best.

Characters
Emily and Reece are both deeply wounded, but by very different events — Reece by war, Emily by the loss of a beloved parent when she was still young. These events have shaped them in ways they’ll need to conquer if they have any hope at happiness, much less a future together. The author excels at this area of her writing, creating complex, well-developed characters who grow and change with the story, and Reece and Emily are no exception.

The Writing
I love Gibsen’s writing and her edgy, compelling voice. She brings a grittiness to both characters that is believable, but also unique to each one of them.

The Ending
The ending was a satisfying conclusion that wrapped things up nicely. I love the way the author set up the ending without needlessly dragging it out.

Top Five Things I Enjoyed About Seared on My Soul:
1. Emily. I fell in love with her in the first book and love her even more now that I understand her. She’s a well-crafted character with lots of sharp edges, but a surprisingly soft underbelly.

2. Reece. A reluctant hero, he’s everything you want in your male lead.

3. Lane. I still love his devotion to his family.

4. Honesty. Tough issues of substance abuse and PTSD are at play and are neither sugar-coated nor overly-dramatized. They are a part of the story, honestly portrayed, rather than being the story.

5. Baked goods. Who doesn’t love a good bacon bun?

Bottom Line
Seared on my Soul is a dark, edgy romance with lots of heat and heart.

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

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About the Book
Title: Seared on <y Soul
Author: Cole Gibsen
Publisher: Entangled Embrace
Release Date: July 27, 2016
Pages: 230
Genre: New Adult Contemporary
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CABarnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo

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Author Cole Gibsen

Author Cole Gibsen

About the Author
At seventeen Cole found herself homeless with only a beat-up Volkswagen Jetta and a bag of Goodwill clothing to her name. The only things that got her through the nights she spent parked in truck stops and cornfields were the stacks of books she checked out from the library along with her trusty flashlight. Because of the reprieve these books gave her from her troubles, Cole vowed to become a writer so she could provide the same escape to readers who needed a break the reality of their own lives.

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Where to Find Cole Gibsen
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter.

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Giveaway
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Book Review – Lexington and 42nd (Off Field Series) by Kim Carmody

Lexington and 42nd (Off Field #1) by Kim Carmody

Lexington and 42nd (Off Field #1) by Kim Carmody

4 Stars

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..

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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.

Plot
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.

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: Lexington and 42nd
Series: Off the Field #1
Author: Kim Carmody
Pages: 444
Category: Contemporary Sports Romance
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | !ndigo | Powell’s | BAM!

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Author Kim Carmody

Author Kim Carmody

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.

Lexington and 42nd is her first novel.

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Where to find Kim Carmody
Goodreads | Website | NewsletterFacebook
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Young Adult Book Review + Giveaway – All The Feels by Danika Stone

All The Feels Blog Tour

All The Feels by Danika Stone

All The Feels by Danika Stone

3.5 Stars

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.

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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.

Plot
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.

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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

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Author Danika Stone

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.

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Where to find Danika Stone
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter

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Giveaway
a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Book Review – Love Target by Heidi Loeb Hegerich

Love Target by Heidi Loeb Hegerich

Love Target by Heidi Loeb Hegerich

3.0 Stars

Synopsis
Teenager Ingrid Liebschreiber is devastated when her parents move the family from their native Munich to Los Angeles in the late 1950s. Homesick, she accepts a neighbor’s offer to get her a job as a showgirl in Las Vegas. Intent on earning enough money to return to Germany, she must grow up quickly in the neon jungle — where she is pursued by high rollers and headliners, including a vacationing Elvis.

Life’s twists and turns land Ingrid in New York in the Swinging 1960s — where she is romanced by Armand: a strong, quiet, handsome businessman in “construction.” Most girls dream of Mr. Right, and Ingrid’s hard-won independence is challenged when she falls in love.

Will she find true romance — a man who can love her as much as she loves him? Or is “happily ever after” just a crazy fairytale?

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My Review
The book covers two plus decades of young Ingrid’s life over 400+ pages. From Germany to Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Miami, Manhattan, and back to LA through Vegas, Ingrid begins as a naive teen, a pawn in scheming men’s games, eventually becoming her own woman. The story is engaging, filled with a lot of intriguing characters and historical events told through the eyes of a German immigrant. But the main character, Ingrid, lacks a moral compass most of the time, making it very difficult for me to like her. She’s loyal, but only to a certain point. She  has no qualms about sleeping with married men, although I do think she’d draw the line at a friend’s husband. And yet she has the nerve to be scorned when the same married men sleep with other women who aren’t their wives. Yeah, no sympathy from me, there.

She serves her own ends first and foremost, although, as I said, she is loyal to those she loves. Her mother, whom she calls Mutti, her close friends, the men she’s sleeping with (all of them I’m pretty sure have wives, but there might have been one or two that didn’t), and ultimately her son. But the way she lies and schemes to get what she wants for her and those she loves makes her unsympathetic. However, as much as I didn’t care for her character, I did find her absolutely fascinating and couldn’t help but read her story. I didn’t hate her, either and never found myself hoping she’d get a taste of her own medicine. But when she finally did, I didn’t feel any kind of satisfaction. I just felt sad for all parties involved.

Maybe because I was too young to appreciate the swinging sixties, barely a toddler at the height of it, I couldn’t fully engage in the world in which Ingrid inhabited. I was too young to understand how the Kennedy assassinations changed everything, or the true ugliness of segregation. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy reading about it.

Plot
This is almost exclusively a character-driven story. The plot is very loose. The basic story question is whether Ingrid will find lasting love before the final page. But there’s a lot that happens in the intervening 429 pages, none of it dull. The story unfolds like a great American roadtrip from the 1970s. You never know what the next day or adventure will bring, but if you’re open to anything, you might not be disappointed. Ingrid’s life wends and flows around curves, introducing her to new sights, experiences, and lots and lots of risky sex, that wasn’t really considered risky back then.

Characters
The characters are interesting, even if some of them are stereotypical. Most of them are rather self-absorbed and egotistical, but that doesn’t make them boring. They’re well-developed and all serve a purpose. About the only thing I noticed that bothered with me is the way they all sounded exactly the same with the exception of the mobbed-up guys in New York. They all had the same speech patterns. They all sounded like Ingrid. And considering she was telling the story and it comes through a filter of bilingualism, it may have actually been intentional on the author’s part, but I noticed it a lot, and it took me out of the story and made me think about it more than it should have.

What Didn’t Work for Me
1. The story is long and it took me a while to get into it. I really became engaged once Ingrid got into her backstory in Germany. That might have been a better place to start than with her first Elvis encounter.
2. There wasn’t a lot of character growth. It would have been great in a story that was this character driven to have Ingrid grow more than she did. She was less naive by the end, more determined to get what she wanted, but I didn’t find a lot of likeable growth in her.

Top Five Things I Enjoyed About Love Target
1. The settings were authentic and fantastic. Either the author did her homework or she grew up in that world. After reading her bio, I’d say she spent a fair amount of time in the locales she writes about and it shows.
2. Behind the scenes experiences. It was cool to be able to see what goes on behind the Vegas shows, beyond the glitz and glamor. Those were probably some of the most fascinating parts of the story for me.
3. The social hierarchy. It was definitely a different time back then and the authenticity the author brought with societal stigmas, racism, women’s rights, and even the Manhattan pecking order was really interesting to read about, although it made me cringe at times.
4. The pacing was solid. Even though this was no nail-biting thriller, the story moved well other than a slow opening.
5. Mutti. I love her devotion to her daughter. She’ll do anything for her, as any good mother would.

Bottom Line
Love Target is an epic story of one German girl’s journey across America, from ingenuine to a woman who knows what she wants and how to get it.

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: Love Target
Author: Heidi Loeb Hegerich
Publisher: Forever Young, LLC
Pages: 439
Category: Young Adult/New Adult Historical Romance/Chick Lit
Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon

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Author Heidi Loeb Hegerich

Author Heidi Loeb Hegerich

About the Author
Heidi Loeb Hegerich — whom friends describe as “a hella bad bitch” — has lived in places as varied as Munich, Las Vegas, Miami Beach, New York, Los Angeles, Squaw Valley and Reno. She has worked variously as a showgirl, business executive, entrepreneur, interior designer and real estate developer. She has traveled to six of the seven continents, and vacationed in spots as different as the French Riviera, the Andes and Afghanistan. She counts among her hobbies weight training, shooting assault rifles, and racing sand rails; she found skydiving entertaining but not as much of a rush as other pursuits. A philanthropist for the arts, among other causes, Hegerich is now embarking on her own artistic quest as an author. Love Target is Heidi’s debut novel..

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Where to find Heidi Loeb Hegerich
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitte
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Book Review – New Blue (Blue Series) by Jules Barnard

New Blue (Blue Series #5) by Jules Barnard

New Blue (Blue Series #5) by Jules Barnard

4 Stars

Synopsis
The survivor of a high school sabotage that made her flee her hometown at sixteen, Hayden Tate is no stranger to bullying. Now she has returned to Lake Tahoe to take on her dream job with a degree and a backbone. But her newfound strength is pushed to the limit as she fights to hold her own against the old boys club of Blue Casino.

Adam Cade is the prince of Lake Tahoe, born into one of the wealthiest families in the area. He’s used to doing what he wants when he wants. So when his powerful father threatens to cut him off without a dime unless he uses his Ivy League degree for a job his father got him at Blue Casino, Adam capitulates.

Hayden, the head of HR, hates Adam on the spot, finding every way possible to put him in his place—and suddenly the lackey job his father found him gets interesting. Adam’s life of leisure lacks substance, and even though he’s not willing to give it up, he wouldn’t mind the distraction Hayden presents. But when the casino’s sinister inner workings begin to reveal themselves and Adam is caught between the powerful executives he works for and the lovely Hayden, his loyalties are divided.

Blue Casino offers Adam a lucrative career where he wouldn’t need his father’s money for the lifestyle he’s accustomed to, but at what cost? Hayden’s silly side shines through when Adam least expects it, charming his jaded heart, and forcing him to face a morality he never knew he had. For the first time in Adam’s life he finds himself yearning for something real, but will he risk losing everything to have it?.

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My Review
I’m a huge fan of Jules and her Blue Series, but for whatever reason, New Blue didn’t click with me like the rest of the series. Not that I didn’t like it, because I did, I just didn’t love it. After finishing and decompressing for a few days, I think my issues have to do with the characters themselves. They’re not the same dynamic, intense characters I’ve come to know and love in the Blue series. And it wasn’t that they weren’t interesting and dynamic, it’s that I didn’t feel like they were that way TOGETHER. God, I hate myself for saying that (Jules don’t hate me, too), but for me, something, some spark, was missing with these two that I felt immediately with Cali and Jaeg, Mira and Tyler (especially), and Gen and Lewis. Even Nessa and Zach in their novella had that instant spark. Okay, now that I’ve gone on and on about what I don’t like, let me tell you all the things I loved about it.

Plot
The plot was outstanding. The push and pull of the romance was well done (even without the chemistry), and the mystery of the Bliss suites was incredibly fun to watch unfold. Just when I thought the whole thing couldn’t get any more repugnant, it did, making Blue’s CEO among the worst villains since maybe President Snow himself.

Characters
Once again, the characters all have fascinating backstories that make them well rounded and intriguing. I love that we got to spend so much time with the crew from Lake Tahoe again, since this is the last in that series. I’m still hoping for cameos in the next series. Everyone from Hayden and Adam to Adam’s smarmy co-workers and their stupid blue rings added tension and intrigue to the story.

Top Five Things I Enjoyed About New Blue
1. Hayden’s house. It sounds exactly like the kind of place I’d like to live.
2. Shoe closets. Who doesn’t secretly (or not so secretly) want one?
3. Lake Tahoe. The setting remains one of my favorite places in California and it was nice to visit in warm weather for a change.
4. Karma. What goes around comes around!
5. The ending. Perfect. Blue fans will know what I’m talking about 🙂

Bottom Line
New Blue is a new adult romance that has many of Blue’s recurring cast, along with a couple of newbies who shake things up at the office and at home.

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: New Blue
Series: Blue Series #5
Author: Jules Barnard
Pages: 303
Category: New Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo | GooglePlay

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Author Jules Barnard

Author Jules Barnard

About the Author
Before turning to storytelling, Jules earned a master’s degree in public health and spent many an hour running statistical analysis–until she realized her favorite part of the job was writing reports. She decided to cut out the math and add in some hot guys, and so began her career as a novelist.

Jules is a Northern California native living on the coast with her husband and two children. She has no impulse control around cupcakes and credits herself with the ability to read while running on the treadmill or burning dinner.

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Where to Find Jules Barnard
Goodreads | Website | NewsletterFacebook | Twitter | Pinterest
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Book Review + Giveaway – Call Me, Maybe by Ellie Cahill

Call Me, Maybe By Ellie Cahill

Call Me, Maybe By Ellie Cahill

4 Stars

Synopsis
“Ellie Cahill is definitely one to watch!” raves bestselling author Cora Carmack, and this steamy, upbeat modern romance about connecting in all the best ways proves it once again.

Clementine Daly knows she’s the black sheep. Her wealthy, powerful family has watched her very closely since she almost got caught in an embarrassing scandal a few years ago. So when Clementine’s sent on a mission to live up to the Daly name, politely declining isn’t an option. Of course, the last thing she does before boarding the plane is to grab a stranger’s phone by mistake—leaving the hunky journalist with her phone. Soon his sexy voice is on the line, but he doesn’t know her real name, or her famous pedigree—which is just the way Clementine likes it.

Despite all the hassles, Justin Mueller is intrigued to realize that the beautiful brown-eyed girl he met at the airport is suddenly at his fingertips. They agree to exchange phones when they’re both back in town, but after a week of flirty texts and wonderfully intimate conversations, Justin doesn’t want to let her go. The only problem? It turns out that Clementine has been lying to him about, well, everything. Except for the one thing two people can’t fake, the only thing that matters: The heat between them is for real.

My Review
This was a sweet, adorable new adult romance. When Clementine, the black sheep of the Daly family (think Rockefellers) accidentally switches phones at the airport with the hottest guy she’s ever seen, the two begin a long-distance flirtation until they can meet back up and return their respective phones to their rightful owners. When they meet, sparks fly, but Clementine is hiding more than her true identity from Justin and things go off-course when those secrets come to light.

Plot
Things start off a little slow and I took awhile to get sucked in, but Clementine is delightfully flustered making her instantly likeable. Justin comes off as refined and charming, so these two are the perfect match. Other than the early pacing, the story moves well, but is devoid of almost any real conflict until the end. When the conflict comes, though, it’s angsty and well done.

Characters
Only Clementine and Justin were really all that fleshed out, although Clem’s younger brother, Honor, had a little more weight to him. Still Clementine is so incredibly fun, that I didn’t really care about the lack of character development with the others.

What Didn’t Work for Me
1. Pacing.
 It started off slow and took awhile to build, but the last half moved well enough that I can overlook it..
2. Lack of conflict. There isn’t a lot of conflict until the end. Clementine and Justin hit it off right away. There is minimal conflict between Clementine and her grandparents, but that’s about it until the big blow up toward the end.

What I Enjoyed About Call Me, Maybe
1. Clementine.
 She was spirited, quirky and just plain adorable. She’s exactly the kind of girl I’d love to hang out with.
2. Justin. He’s as sweet as he is good looking — a great combination.
3. The big blowup. It took awhile to reach the conflict, but once I got there, I was engrossed. It was a natural occurrence of the events and I could feel so much for both of them.
4. Finding your calling. I think a lot of young/new adults can relate to Clementine’s lack of direction in life. I love that she didn’t let anyone push her into doing something she didn’t feel passionate about.
5. Happily ever afters. The ones you have to fight the hardest for are the most treasured.

Bottom Line
Call Me, Maybe is a fun, quirky contemporary romance with characters you can’t help rooting for.

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

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About the Book
Title: 
Call Me, Maybe
Author: Ellie Cahill
Publisher: Loveswept
Release Date: February 9, 2016
Pages: 242
Genre: 
New Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & NobleiBooks | Kobo | GooglePlay

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Author Ellie Cahill

Author Ellie Cahill

About the Author
Ellie Cahill is a freelance writer and also writes books for young adults under the name Liz Czukas.

She lives outside Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with her husband, son, and the world’s loudest cat.

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Where to Find Ellie Cahill
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter

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Giveaway
a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Review + Giveaway – To The Stars (Thatch) by Molly McAdams

To The Stars (Thatch Series #2) by Molly McAdams

To The Stars (Thatch Series #2) by Molly McAdams

4 Stars

Synopsis
In the second standalone book in New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Molly McAdams’ Thatch series, Knox Alexander must convince his long-time love Harlow Evans that they’re meant to be together.

He promised to wait for her. She told him he was wasting his time. Not waiting for him ended up being the biggest mistake of her life.

When they were younger, Knox Alexander swore to Harlow Evans that he would wait for her to turn eighteen so they could be together. But that was two and a half years away, and Harlow couldn’t ask him to give up all the fun and thrills of going away to college for her. As the years passed, Knox remained a constant in her life but when her eighteenth birthday came around, Harlow’s heart belonged to someone else.

Every day for the last four years, Harlow has been haunted by that fateful choice. And though he may appear unaffected by what happened in their past, Knox has always tried to fill the void Harlow left. But when he comes stumbling back into her life and refuses to leave, will Harlow finally let him into her heart…?

My Review
To the Stars is intense, romantic, and nearly impossible to put down. Harlow and Knox meet when Harlow is far too young — jailbait young — but Knox swears he’ll wait. Harlow counts down the days until she turns 18 and can be with Knox forever. But three years is a long time for teens to wait, and life sometimes intervenes unexpected and unintended ways. Harlow ends up married to a man she thought was perfect, but turns out he’s a perfect monster. The physical and emotional abuse is hard to read at times, but it is such a driving force in the story, and Molly McAdams never sugar coats it.

Plot
The pacing is fantastic, never dragging. I’m usually not a big fan of flashbacks, but they worked in this case. The author introduces us to the characters, then shows us how they became the people they are. The backstories unfold slowly, piecing their puzzles together until we can see it clearly. There were some unexpected twists and the climax was a thrill-ride.

Characters
The characters are exceedingly well-developed. Not all of them are likeable, even Harlow had her moments, but they are incredibly whole and believable. Through the story, both Knox and Harlow grew in organic ways that fit the story and their characters.

What Didn’t Work for Me
1. The abuse.
 It’s not that it didn’t work for me, but it was just really, really hard to read. It was necessary for the story, though.

What I Enjoyed About To the Stars
1. The pacing.
 The story moved at a solid pace, never slowing down.
2. The character development. The characters were deep and fascinating, even the unlikeable ones.
3. Devotion. Harlow’s and Knox’s devotion to one another was sweet, but Knox’s friends devotion to him was a bromance worth reading.
4. Enduring love. Knox and Harlow may have taken different routes in life, but their love for one another was the tether connecting them across seven years.
5. Grey. As the sister of Knox’s roommate, she has her own story, which is book 1 of the series, and I can’t wait to dive into it.

Bottom Line
To the Stars is an honest portrayal of abuse, love, and breaking free.

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

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About the Book
Title: To the Stars
Series: Thatch #2
Author: Mollyl McAdams
Publisher: WilliamMorrow
Release Date: February 10, 2016
Pages: 387
Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo | GooglePlay

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Author Molly McAdams

Author Molly McAdams

About the Author
Molly grew up in California but now lives in the oh-so-amazing state of Texas with her husband, daughter, and fur babies.

When she’s not diving into the world of her characters, some of her hobbies include hiking, snowboarding, traveling, and long walks on the beach … which roughly translates to being a homebody with her hubby and dishing out movie quotes.

She has a weakness for crude-humored movies and fried pickles, and loves curling up in a fluffy comforter during a thunderstorm … or under one in a bathtub if there are tornadoes. That way she can pretend they aren’t really happening.

Where to Find Molly McAdams
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr

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Giveaway
a Rafflecopter giveaway


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Month in Review – December 2015

Two weeks late, but you know, the holidays… Also, some front yard landscaping, and Aussie exchange student for eleven days, and final edits and publishing of The Uprising (which comes out on Tuesday!). Better late than never. Here are the books I read and reviewed in December, 2015.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Story: 4 Stars
Audiobook: 5 Stars

Title: Gone Girl
Author: 
Gillian Flynn
Release Date: 
May 24, 2012
Publisher:
Random House Audible
Narrators:
Julia Whelan and Kirby Heyborne
Length:
19 Hours 11 Minutes
Genre:
 Contemporary Mystery/Thriller/Suspense
Story Rating: 
4 out of 5 Stars
Audio Production Rating:
 5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | AudibleAmazon | Barnes & Noble

Synopsis
On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge.

Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?

Bottom Line
Gone Girl is a disturbing tale, beautifully written, and the audiobook version is one of the best produced I’ve ever listened to.

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Bad Romance: A Stepbrother Novel by by Jen McLaughlin

Bad Romance A Stepbrother Novel by by Jen McLaughlin

Bad Romance A Stepbrother Novel by by Jen McLaughlin

4 Stars

Title: Bad Romance: A Stepbrother Novel
Author: 
Jen McLauchlin
Publisher: 
Loveswept
Release Date: 
September 15, 2015
Pages:
242
Genre: 
New Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating: 
4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Synopsis
In this explosive novel from New York Times bestselling author Jen McLaughlin, a good girl falls for the ultimate bad boy: her stepbrother. Perfect for fans of Sabrina Paige, Caitlin Daire, and Krista Lakes, Bad Romance proves that passion can be so wrong it’s right.

Seven years in the army will change a guy. But after a shoulder wound ends his career as a sniper, Jackson Worthington finds himself back home, fighting a battle that’s all too familiar: keeping his hands off Lily Hastings. She’s still her rich daddy’s little angel, innocent, impossibly lovely, as squeaky-clean as Jackson is dirty. And she’s still his stepsister—forbidden but not forgotten, not after the soul-melting kiss that got him kicked out of the house at eighteen. He couldn’t resist her then. How the hell can he resist her now?

Lily is about to marry a man she doesn’t love, and commit to a high-stress job she hates, all to please the father who controls every waking moment of her life. On top of everything, her teenage crush is back, with a sleek, chiseled body and a trace of the rebellious boy whose lips sealed her fate. Jackson’s timing couldn’t be worse . . . or better. Because Lily’s all grown up, too. She’s aching for another taste. And for the first time, she’s ready to be a bad girl.

Bottom Line
Bad Romance is a page-turning romance about forbidden love and learning to live your own life.

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Royal Marriage Market by Heather Lyons

Royal Marriage Market by Heather Lyons

Royal Marriage Market by Heather Lyons

4.5 Stars

Title: Royal Marriage Market
Author: Heather Lyons
Publisher: Cerulean Books
Release Date: December 15, 2015
Pages: 335
Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | iBooks | Kobo

Synopsis
Every decade, the world’s monarchs and their heirs secretly convene to discuss global politics and social issues—and arrange marriages between kingdoms. Elsa may be the Hereditary Princess of Vattenguldia, but she finds the entire situation archaic and unsavory. While she wants what’s best for her country, she isn’t about to jump into an unwanted relationship—let alone a marriage—with a virtual stranger. Of course, her feelings matter little to her parents, whose wheeling and dealings over trade pacts and alliances achieved at her expense begin the moment they set foot in California for the Summit. So when a blindingly handsome royal runs into her, she doesn’t hesitate to tell him there’s no way she’s marrying him.

Christian is all too happy to agree: no marriage. As the Hereditary Grand Duke of Aiboland, his main goal is to get through the summit without a bride being foisted on him. Which is why he suggests they help each other field potential intendeds. As Christian slowly gets to know Elsa, though, he realizes they have a lot more in common than just their feelings about the Royal Marriage Market. Only he can’t fall for her, because royal or not, they’re not meant for each other. Elsa and Christian will have to evaluate matters of the heart verses those of state and crown, and decide whether or not tradition trumps love.

Bottom Line
Royal Marriage Market is a fun twist on the contemporary romance genre with plenty of chemistry and more than a few laughs.

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The Writer’s Idea Thesaurus by Fred White

The Writer's Idea Thesaurus by Fred White

The Writer’s Idea Thesaurus by Fred White

3.5 Stars

Title: The Writer’s Idea Thesaurus: An Interactive Guide for Developing Ideas for Novels and Short Stories
Author: Fred White
Publisher: Writer’s Digest Books
Publication Date: September 30, 2014
Pages: 320
Category: Writing Fiction
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars
Links: GoodreadsAmazon | Barnes & Noble

Synopsis
Endless ideas at your fingertips, and at the turn of a page…

Need an idea for a short story or novel? Look no further than The Writer’s Idea Thesaurus. It’s far more than a collection of simple writing prompts. You’ll find a vast treasury of story ideas inside, organized by subject, theme, and situation categories, and listed alphabetically for easy reference. Author and award-winning writing instructor Fred White shows you how to build out and customize these ideas to create unique plots that reflect your personal storytelling sensibilities, making The Writer’s Idea Thesaurus an invaluable tool for generating creative ideas and vanquishing writer’s block—for good.

Inside you’ll find:
•2,000 unique and dynamic story ideas perfect for novels and short stories of any genre or writing style
•Twenty major idea categories, such as The Invasion of X, The Transformation of X into Y, Escape from X, The Curse of X, and more
•Multiple situations that further refine the major categories, such as The Creation of Artificial Life, The Descent Into Madness, Love in the Workplace, The Journey to a Forgotten Realm, and more
•Invaluable advice on how to customize each idea.

The Writer’s Idea Thesaurus is an interactive story generator that opens the door to thousands of new story arcs and plotlines.

 Bottom Line
The Writer’s Idea Thesaurus lives up to its name as a unique reference guide to aid writers in developing story ideas.

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Next Door to a Star (Star Series) by Krysten Lindsay Hagar

Next Door to a Star by Krysten Lindsay Hagar

Next Door to a Star by Krysten Lindsay Hagar

4 Stars

Title: Next Door to a Star
Series: Star Series #1
Author:
Krysten Lindsay Hagar
Publisher: Limitless Publishing, LLC
Release Date: September 1, 2015
Pages: 185
Genre: 
Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon InternationalBarnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo | BAM!

Synopsis
Hadley Daniels is tired of feeling invisible. After Hadley’s best friend moves away and she gets on the bad side of some girls at school, she goes to spend the summer with her grandparents in the Lake Michigan resort town of Grand Haven. Her next door neighbor is none other than teen TV star Simone Hendrickson, who is everything Hadley longs to be—pretty, popular, and famous—and she’s thrilled when Simone treats her like a friend. Being popular is a lot harder than it looks.

It’s fun and flattering when Simone includes her in her circle, though Hadley is puzzled about why her new friend refuses to discuss her former Hollywood life. Caught up with Simone, Hadley finds herself ignoring her quiet, steadfast friend, Charlotte. To make things even more complicated, along comes Nick Jenkins… He’s sweet, good-looking, and Hadley can be herself around him without all the fake drama. However, the mean girls have other ideas and they fill Nick’s head with lies about Hadley, sending him running back to his ex-girlfriend and leaving Hadley heartbroken.

So when her parents decide to relocate to Grand Haven, Hadley hopes things will change when school starts…only to be disappointed once again. Cliques. Back-stabbing. Love gone bad. Is this really what it’s like to live…Next Door To A Star?

Bottom Line
While Next Door to a Star moves slow at times, it’s filled with a colorful cast of young teens who think and act like the kids on the cusp of adulthood they are.
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Book Review – Bad Romance: A Stepbrother Novel by by Jen McLaughlin

Bad Romance A Stepbrother Novel by by Jen McLaughlin

Bad Romance A Stepbrother Novel by by Jen McLaughlin

4 Stars

Synopsis
In this explosive novel from New York Times bestselling author Jen McLaughlin, a good girl falls for the ultimate bad boy: her stepbrother. Perfect for fans of Sabrina Paige, Caitlin Daire, and Krista Lakes, Bad Romance proves that passion can be so wrong it’s right.

Seven years in the army will change a guy. But after a shoulder wound ends his career as a sniper, Jackson Worthington finds himself back home, fighting a battle that’s all too familiar: keeping his hands off Lily Hastings. She’s still her rich daddy’s little angel, innocent, impossibly lovely, as squeaky-clean as Jackson is dirty. And she’s still his stepsister—forbidden but not forgotten, not after the soul-melting kiss that got him kicked out of the house at eighteen. He couldn’t resist her then. How the hell can he resist her now?

Lily is about to marry a man she doesn’t love, and commit to a high-stress job she hates, all to please the father who controls every waking moment of her life. On top of everything, her teenage crush is back, with a sleek, chiseled body and a trace of the rebellious boy whose lips sealed her fate. Jackson’s timing couldn’t be worse . . . or better. Because Lily’s all grown up, too. She’s aching for another taste. And for the first time, she’s ready to be a bad girl.

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My Review
Anyone who follows my reviews knows I love a good angsty forbidden romance, and what’s more forbidden than a stepbrother? Granted, they don’t meet until they’re teens and aren’t really raised as siblings, but there is still something salacious about it.

Jackson and Lilly are both messed up in very different ways. Jackson was abandoned by his father at a young age and he’s always felt like a burden to his mother. Lilly has been the apple of daddy’s eye her entire life, which he’s scripted for her. Everything from her career to whom she’ll marry is out of her control.

Jackson acts out, and an off-limits Lilly is the perfect act of defiance. Lilly always behaves the way she’s expected, never making her own choices, until Jackson. She wants him. The story is filled with lies, a few surprises, and intense emotions. 

Plot
It’s a straight-up story of forbidden love. With so many things keeping these two apart, it seems at times like they’ll be insurmountable. Although the reader knows Jackson and Lilly belong together, Jackson’s self-loathing and Lilly’s sense of duty at times make us question if they really do. The plot moves at a steady pace and there aren’t a lot of twists, but there are a few surprises that keep it from being just another contemporary romance.

Characters
Jackson and Lilly are well-developed, complex characters. Lilly experiences more growth through the story than Jackson, and I would have liked a little more from him. Their parents, on the other hand, seem a bit cliche at times, which works well for the plot. For a story light on characters, it would have been nice to find out more about why their abominable parents are the way they are, but that didn’t detract in any way from my enjoyment of the romance.

Ending
I thought the ending was almost anticlimactic. There’s a big event that leads up to the end that was unexpectedly awesome. I’m not disappointed, but I thought the actual ending lacked the same punch the climax held. I will say the conclusion was more than satisfying, though, and that’s all I can ask for.

What Didn’t Work for Me
1. Too much waffling.
 I found Lilly to annoying at times. I totally understood her motivation, but she seemed to waffle on it a lot. Like way more than necessary.
2. Repetition. There were times I felt like we revisited the same issues over and over again.

What I Enjoyed About Bad Romance
1. Loyalty.
 Jackson’s loyalty to his country, to Lilly. Lilly’s loyalty to Jackson, her father, the people who work for her father’s company. Both of them were good people which helped me overlook some of their annoyingness.
2. First loves. There’s a sweetness underlying the sexual chemistry of Jackson and Lilly that took their love story to another level for me.
3. Forbidden love. One of my favorite types of romances.
4. The angst. Another one of my favorite romantic elements.
5. Passion. There was so much passion between Jackson and Lilly it became almost its own character in the story.

Bottom Line
Bad Romance is a page-turning romance about forbidden love and learning to live your own life.

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

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About the Book
Title: Bad Romance: A Stepbrother Novel
Author: Jen McLauchlin
Publisher: Loveswept
Release Date: September 15, 2015
Pages: 242
Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

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Author Jen McLaughlin

Author Jen McLaughlin

About the Author
Jen McLaughlin is the New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of sexy books with Penguin Random House. Under her pen name, Diane Alberts, she is also a USA TODAY bestselling author of Contemporary Romance with Entangled Publishing. Her first release as Jen McLaughlin, Out of Line, hit the New York TimesUSA TODAY and Wall Street Journal lists. She was mentioned in Forbes alongside E. L. James as one of the breakout independent authors to dominate the bestselling lists. She is represented by Louise Fury at The Bent Agency.

Though she lives in the mountains, she really wishes she was surrounded by a hot, sunny beach with crystal-clear water. She lives in Northeast Pennsylvania with her four kids, a husband, a schnauzer mutt, and four cats. Her goal is to write so many well-crafted romance books that even a non-romance reader will know her name.

Where to Find Jen McLaughlin
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter
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Book Review + Giveaway – Royal Marriage Market by Heather Lyons

Royal Marriage Market by Heather Lyons

Royal Marriage Market by Heather Lyons

4.5 Stars

Synopsis
Every decade, the world’s monarchs and their heirs secretly convene to discuss global politics and social issues—and arrange marriages between kingdoms.

Elsa may be the Hereditary Princess of Vattenguldia, but she finds the entire situation archaic and unsavory. While she wants what’s best for her country, she isn’t about to jump into an unwanted relationship—let alone a marriage—with a virtual stranger. Of course, her feelings matter little to her parents, whose wheeling and dealings over trade pacts and alliances achieved at her expense begin the moment they set foot in California for the Summit. So when a blindingly handsome royal runs into her, she doesn’t hesitate to tell him there’s no way she’s marrying him.

Christian is all too happy to agree: no marriage. As the Hereditary Grand Duke of Aiboland, his main goal is to get through the summit without a bride being foisted on him. Which is why he suggests they help each other field potential intendeds. As Christian slowly gets to know Elsa, though, he realizes they have a lot more in common than just their feelings about the Royal Marriage Market. Only he can’t fall for her, because royal or not, they’re not meant for each other.

Elsa and Christian will have to evaluate matters of the heart verses those of state and crown, and decide whether or not tradition trumps love.

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My Review
Royal Marriage Market is about two twenty-something royals who must choose between love and duty. Set in modern day, Christian and Elsa are the heirs to the respective thrones of their tiny northern European countries. Each country needs something that only an arranged marriage can solve. Both Christian and Elsa are dead set against being used as bargaining chips by their parents. Their initial meeting is antagonistic when Elsa assumes Christian is looking for a good time. Just because all the world’s single royals are gathered at Hearst Castle in California for a modern day dating game, doesn’t mean shenanigans aren’t going on behind the scenes, and Elsa refuses to partake in any of it.

Of course these two are destined to be together because, well, the rules state they can’t be. As they straddle a fine line between bickering and flirting, they fall reluctantly in like and then love just as their marriages to others are sealed by their parents.

Plot
The plot is about Christian and Elsa and forbidden love, but a few nice little subplots weave through that show us why these two can’t be together, and why their respective parents have chosen their particular mates for them.

Characters
Elsa and Christian are both delightful, but there is also a phenomenal supporting cast. Both Christian’s and Elsa’s personal assistants, Parker and Charlotte, are fully-developed and intriguing in their own right. Family members and other royals round out the cast nicely, providing just the right mix for Christian and Elsa’s story.

Ending
I love that I wasn’t able to figure out the big mystery behind the pairings and I like the way the story wrapped up in a satisfying conclusion.

What Didn’t Work for Me
1. Not much.
 The story is witty and charming, but I felt it took a little long to develop. I found myself setting it down more often than not in the early chapters. But once it got going, it was a fast, easy read.

What I Enjoyed About Royal Marriage Market
1. The chemistry.
 The heat between Elsa and Christian is immediate and spark-y.
2. The magic hour. I love the whole idea of a magical hour of firsts.
3. Forbidden love. Some of my favorite romances involve this trope, and RMM is no exception.
4. The language. They are royals, and therefore the dialogue is refined, but I love how it’s peppered with a healthy dose of colorful language!
5. Parker and Charlotte. How fun would it be to get a book from their points of view?

Bottom Line
Royal Marriage Market is a fun twist on the contemporary romance genre with plenty of chemistry and more than a few laughs.

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

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About the Book
Title: Royal Marriage Market
Author: Heather Lyons
Publisher: Cerulean Books
Release Date: December 15, 2015
Pages: 335
Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | iBooks | Kobo

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Author Heather LyonsAbout the Author
Heather Lyons has always had a thing for words—She’s been writing stories since she was a kid. In addition to writing, she’s also been an archaeologist and a teacher.

Heather is a rabid music fan, as evidenced by her (mostly) music-centric blog, and she’s married to an even larger music snob.

They’re happily raising three kids who are mini music fiends who love to read and be read to.

Where to Find Heather Lyons
Goodreads | Website | Facebook  | Twitter

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Giveaway
a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Month in Review – October 2015

October is by far my favorite month of the year. I love when the temperatures, sort of, sometimes, get cooler in San Diego, plus Halloween. But mostly it’s all about the pumpkin. Pumpkin spice lattes, This Pumpkin Walked into a Bar, pumpkin pasta, muffins, pie, and more. I also managed to do a little more reading this month than I did earlier in the summer. These are the books I reviewed in October:

Mad Love 2 by Colet Abedi

Mad Love 2 (Mad Love Series #2) by Colete Abedi

4 Stars

Title: Mad Love 2
Series: Mad Love #2
Author: Colet ABedi
Publisher: Bird Street Books
Pages: 262
Category: New Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
LinksGoodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Synopsis
Heartbroken by the handsome and enigmatic Clayton Astor Sinclair, Sophie Walker has put her whirlwind romance with him in the Maldives behind her and is determined to focus on her career as an artist.

But when her new job in the south of France turns out to be too good to be true, she can’t help but wonder if she is making a mistake. Their passion cannot be denied, but when Clayton shuts her out after a family tragedy, Sophie is determined to fight for what is right. She must defy all odds to find her own happily ever after. 

This book is intended for mature audiences.

Bottom Line
A worthy follow-up to Mad Love, it’s intense, emotional, and delves deeper into the characters we’ve come to know. The jury is still out on whether or not I love them.

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Pepped Up Forever (Pepper Jones Series) by Ali Dean

Pepped Up Forever (Pepper Jones #5) by Ali Dean

4.5 Stars

Title: Pepped Up Forever
Series:  Pepper Jones #5
Author: Ali Dean
Release Date: October 1, 2015
Pages: 180
Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon

Synopsis
This is the fifth and final book in the Pepper Jones series, and it’s one you don’t want to miss.

Pepper Jones is ready to start breaking some records. She’ll be a junior in college, and if she wants to run professionally when she graduates, it’s time to step things up a notch. This time around, she knows it won’t be accomplished by ramping up her training. While Pepper’s hoping for a race day breakthrough, she wonders if there’s a mental barrier holding her back, and if so, how is she supposed to confront it?

Meanwhile, Jace Wilder wants Pepper back any way he can have her, but he’s reluctant to bulldoze his way into her life having already crushed her once (okay, probably a few more times than that) before. More scenes from Jace’s point of view in the book shed a new perspective into the character Pepper fans love to hate, and hate to love, delving into those layers he’s only given glimpses of in the past.

The Brockton crew is growing up. Zoe and Wes. Jenny and Rollie. Lexi and Brax. Bunny and Wallace. Pepper and ??? It’s time to find out what Pepper’s happily ever after will be.

Bottom Line
A worthy ending to a great series.

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The Rebel by Adrienne Giordano

The Rebel by Adrienne Giordano

4 Stars

Title: The Rebel
Author: Adrienne Giordano
Publisher: Harlequin Intrigue
Release Date: October 1, 2015
Pages: 234
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Rating: 4 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | GooglePlay | Harlequin

Synopsis
Bad to the bone…in all the right ways

A brilliant civil lawyer, David Hennings has always been the outsider—at odds with his wealthy family, shunning relationships, defying convention as a sexy leather-jacketed biker. Which is why sculptor Amanda LeBlanc agrees to his request to reconstruct a skull from a cold case murder. The instant heat between them is scorching.

But once Amanda takes the job and gets too close to the rebellious attorney, her carefully balanced life is upended by a series of methodical attacks. Someone doesn’t want her to finish the job. Now David will risk everything not to lose the woman he unknowingly put in jeopardy.

Bottom Line
The Rebel is a mystery wrapped in a romantic suspense with a big dose of fully-developed characters.

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How to Say I Love You Out Loud by Karole Cozzo

How to Say I Love You Out Loud by Karole Cozzo

5 Stars

Title: How to Say I Love You Out Loud
Author: Karole Cozzo
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Release Date: August 4, 2015
Pages: 240
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo

Synopsis
When Jordyn Michaelson’s autistic brother joins her at her elite school, she’s determined not to let anyone know they’re related. Even if that means closing herself off to all her closest friends, including charming football stud Alex Colby.

But despite her best intentions, she just can’t shake the memory of kissing Alex last summer, and the desire to do it again.

Can Jordyn find the courage to tell Alex how she really feels—and the truth about her family—before he slips away forever?

 Bottom Line
How to Say I Love You Out Loud is an emotional look at finding your own words and the strength to say them out loud.

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How Fiction Works by Oakley Hall

How Fiction Works by Oakley Hall

3.5 Stars

Title: How Fiction Works
Author: Oakley Hall
Publisher: Story Press
Publication Date: January 5, 2001
Pages: 240
Category: Writing Fiction
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars
Links: GoodreadsAmazon | Barnes & Noble

Synopsis
In How Fiction Works, Oakley Hall expands upon and broadens the instruction that made The Art and Craft of Novel Writing so successful.

This new book covers all forms and lengths of fiction, probes deeper into every topic, offers new examples and includes exercises and the end of every chapter. He explains the basic and finer points of the fiction-writing process from word choice and imagery to authority and viewpoint.

The book is divided into three sections, beginning with “The Basics.” In this section, Hall explores the micro elements of storytelling, such as details, word choice, images, symbol and metaphor. He then moves on! to “The Elements,” which covers the primary elements of fiction: point of view, characterization and plot. Citing numerous examples from classic and contemporary work, he shows readers how these elements function separately and in concert. Finally, the focus shifts to the specific types of fiction – short shorts, short stories, novellas, and novels – also known as “The Forms.” Each form presents a unique challenge to the writer, and Hall explains how to meet those challenges.

Beginning, as well as more advanced writers, will find much to like about this book.

Bottom Line
How Fiction Works includes sound advice for fiction writers with illustrative examples. It’s definitely worth a read.

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The Book of Ivy (Book of Ivy Series) by Amy Engel

The Book of Ivy (Book of Ivy #1) by Amy Engel

4 Stars

Title: The Book of Ivy
Series: The Book of Ivy #1
Author: Amy Engel
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Release Date: November 11, 2014
Pages: 304
Genre: Young Adult Dystopian
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | AmazonBarnes & NobleKobo BooksiTunesGoogle Books

Bottom Line
The Book of Ivy is a familiar dystopian tale with enough of its own uniqueness to set it apart from the rest.

Synopsis
After a brutal nuclear war, the United States was left decimated. A small group of survivors eventually banded together, but only after more conflict over which family would govern the new nation. The Westfalls lost. Fifty years later, peace and control are maintained by marrying the daughters of the losing side to the sons of the winning group in a yearly ritual.

This year, it is my turn.

My name is Ivy Westfall, and my mission is simple: to kill the president’s son—my soon-to-be husband—and restore the Westfall family to power.

But Bishop Lattimer is either a very skilled actor or he’s not the cruel, heartless boy my family warned me to expect. He might even be the one person in this world who truly understands me. But there is no escape from my fate. I am the only one who can restore the Westfall legacy.

Because Bishop must die. And I must be the one to kill him…

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