Thursday, May 30, 2013

Book Review: Rule by Jay Crownover

Rule (Marked Men, #1)
RULE by Jay Crownover
December 30, 2012
327 pages
Genre: New Adult
Contains: Mature language, sexual situations, alcohol
Source: Personal ebook purchase
Book Blurb:
Opposites in every way . . . except the one that matters

Shaw Landon loved Rule Archer from the moment she laid eyes on him. Rule is everything a straight--A pre-med student like Shaw shouldn’t want--and the only person she’s never tried to please. She isn’t afraid of his scary piercings and tattoos or his wild attitude. Though she knows that Rule is wrong for her, her heart just won’t listen.

To a rebel like Rule Archer, Shaw Landon is a stuck-up, perfect princess-and his dead twin brother’s girl. She lives by other people’s rules; he makes his own. He doesn’t have time for a good girl like Shaw-even if she’s the only one who can see the person he truly is.

But a short skirt, too many birthday cocktails, and spilled secrets lead to a night neither can forget. Now, Shaw and Rule have to figure out how a girl like her and a guy like him are supposed to be together without destroying their love . . . or each other.
My Review:
I'd heard good things about RULE, but I still went into reading it with no expectations. I thought it was going to be just another New Adult book with a similar storyline to the many other NA books out there. Fortunately, RULE far exceeded my expectations with its depth and characters!

There are a few things that really made RULE stand out for me:

1. Main Character Development: I loved how the author allows us to get to know Shaw and Rule - how their pasts and present intermingle; how their alternating POVs shine through; how creative and unique their characters are. I loved how Shaw and Rule had to learn about themselves, grow into themselves, accept themselves, improve themselves. Their relationship had so much depth to it, and I loved that it wasn't just this lust-filled attraction pretending to be love. Their journey together was not short on complications, and I enjoyed how the author allowed who they were and who they needed to be to shine through, and so many poignant realizations to be discovered.

2. Layered Storyline: I was so glad that this wasn't just a simple love story, but also not so full of outrageous occurrences that it was beyond realism. Okay, maybe there were a few dramatic scenarios, but I could still picture every situation and never felt like rolling my eyes. What I really liked was the intermingling storylines with Rule and Shaw individually as well as their shared past and present. It really gave the entire story so much more depth than I was anticipating, and I was very impressed with where the author took things. I will also say that the sex scenes, while graphic at times, were really well written and not overly done or excessive. I appreciate that they didn't overpower the story, but just enhanced it when needed.

3. Multi-Dimensional Secondary Characters: Shaw and Rule would not have been the amazing characters they were without the amazing friends that they were surrounded by. I loved that they weren't just one-dimensional filler people, but they each had their own stories that we got glimpses of and could see them more than just side characters. They each added to the quality of the story and were used so well throughout the entire book. And I'm thrilled that there will be future books about other characters, because I'm already in love with this group of friends.

RULE was a surprise hit for me and the upcoming books in this series will be at the top of my most anticipated list, as well as anything else from this author.


Book Links:

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Book Review: Sweet Thing by Renee Carlino

Sweet Thing
Sweet Thing by Renee Carlino
April 14, 2013
324 pages
Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance
Contains mature language and sexual situations
Source: Won ecopy
Book Blurb:
Mia Kelly is a twenty-five-year-old walking Gap ad who thinks she has life figured out when her father’s sudden death uproots her from slow-paced Ann Arbor to New York City’s bustling East Village. There she discovers her father’s spirit for life and the legacy he left behind with the help of an old café, a few eccentric friends, and one charming musician.

Will Ryan is good-looking, poetic, spontaneous, and on the brink of fame when he meets Mia, his new landlord, muse, and personal heartbreaker.

A story of self-discovery and friendship, Sweet Thing shines light on the power of loving and letting go.

My Review:

What I liked about Sweet Thing is that it is more than a romance book. It's more than girl and boy meet and fall in love. While the book does follow Mia's often frustrating relationship with Will, what I really appreciated about this book was the journey that Mia takes to find herself. You see, Mia starts the book returning to her father's home and café to run things and figure out what she's going to do next with her life, because her life has been turned upside down since her father's recent death. Insert the past and present she has to deal with; the confusion she feels at who she thinks she is, who she thinks she should be, who she really is, and who she's trying to figure out she wants to be; her assumptions on what her future looks like and who should be part of that future; and you are facing down a 25-year-old girl on the cusp of finding herself, but with many mountains she still must climb to get there. I think the prologue (which I loved and found very unique) sets up Mia's story wonderfully.

I'll be honest. Mia frustrated me at times. Mia frustrated herself at times as well. But that is something I can relate to. Have you ever done something or said something that you've regretted, even instantly, and yet had been too prideful or immature to apologize and rectify the situation? Particularly when you were in your teens or early twenties? If not, I commend you. If so, then you can relate to Mia. And while the reader may want to knock some sense into Mia and help her make the right decisions and stop being blind, this is a journey Mia must make on her own. Yes, she has wonderful friends who try and help her along the way, but just like the saying, "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink," this saying holds true for many human decisions as well, and Mia is no exception. Mia had to make her own choices, and suffer her own consequences, in order to find what was right in front of her. But Mia also has many redeeming qualities, and there's a reason that Will and others love her and can see past the hurt she's living in.

Will is a wonderful character as well, and I genuinely liked him. I love that we get to see many sides to him, and he's one of those guys you instantly like, especially the way we are introduced to him in the novel. But Will isn't perfect, and I think Mia's faults tend to diminish Will's faults at times, distracting us from the reality that he's this secretive, enigmatic character whom I spent much of the novel trying to completely figure out. But Will is also this amazing, artistic, patient, musical, charismatic guy, and I love that Renee showed us Will's struggles and also his beauty from afar. He really is a fascinating character and I liked how Renee spread bits of Will throughout the novel. Will is also taking a journey in this novel, it's just not as blatant as Mia's. Will must decide what he wants, who he wants to be,  when to let go and wait, and when to go out on a limb. He and Mia have a sweet chemistry musically as well as in friendship and budding romance. Will is worthy of all the swooning that has been sent his way.

Bottomline: This is a beautifully written story of self-discovery, emotional healing, tender friendship, heart-breaking angst, and sweet romance. I didn't want to put Sweet Thing down. This is a couple you will root for individually as well as together. And the prologue and epilogue are icing on the cake. Amazing debut from Renee Carlino!


Book Links:

Monday, May 27, 2013

Book Review: Shark Bait

Shark Bait (Grab Your Pole #1)
Shark Bait by Jenn Cooksey
(Grab Your Pole #1)
June 15, 2012
Genre: Mature Young Adult
Contains mature language and sexual references
Book Blurb:
Previously homeschooled Camie Ramsey is being shoved into the shark-infested waters of public high school, where even helium filled, penguin bespeckled arm floaties likely won’t help keep her inexperienced, fifteen-year old head above water in that rip current of hormones and emotions.

Camie’s worldly wisdom might be severely lacking (i.e., the closest she’s come to being kissed was sitting too close to the TV whilst Jake Ryan leaned in to give Samantha that fateful 16th birthday kiss), but she does understand her only hope for survival is if she’s thrown some kind of “social” life preserver before she sinks like a freaking rock. However, what will her fate be when she endeavors to flag down the only lifeguard on duty, the enormously popular and ridiculously beautiful Tristan Daniels? The most sought after and virtually most unattainable guy in school who not only makes Camie’s heart flatline on a recurring basis, he’s also the one guy who seemingly doesn’t know she exists.

Feeling like an inept piece of chum that could ultimately be swallowed by Jaws, can Camie get Tristan to rescue her from floundering in the treacherous deep, or is she destined to be Shark Bait?

Author's Note:
While the tales themselves are fictional, some of the events and characters are very loosely based in reality and on my experiences—but don’t worry, the names of the characters, most of their unfortunate fashion sense and/or questionable taste in music has been changed to protect the not-so innocent.

Due to language and some adult content, this book may not be suitable for readers under the age of 16.

My Review:

I found this book difficult to rate due to my mixed feelings. I wanted to like it more than I did.

On the positive side, I enjoyed the author's sense of humor including her use of song, TV, and movie references. I could completely relate to Camie's ongoing inner soundtrack to whatever situation she was in. I do the same thing. I also liked how the author set her up as a normal person who was homeschooled, not some oddball, socially awkward person. Being very involved in the homeschool community myself, I appreciate the author avoiding ridiculous stereotypes. Additionally, I liked the friendships between the characters. Tristan and Jeff's friendship was super sweet, and I instantly liked Kate. I especially liked Camie's sister, Jilly, who was just the coolest 12-year-old. Plus, any scenes involving the kittens was perfect. I will also say that though I felt Camie went from 0 to 50 mph in her relationship pretty quickly (though not quite 60 mph), I appreciated the conflict resolution in the end and her terms (though she's still wishy-washy).

On the negative side, I felt like this book oftentimes was very "sex-centric." Not that the characters were having sex all the time. But there was a lot of referencing, and I found it distracting, when I really wanted more depth. Perhaps this is normal for a 15-year-old, but I had really been hoping for more out of these characters, and this budding romance in particular. While I enjoyed the chemistry between Camie and Tristan, I felt like I needed more bonding going on between them outside of their physical attraction and Buffy references. They have lots of potential, and since this is a series, I hope more depth will be explored between them. I also felt like the mystery around Tristan turned out to be not much for me. Again, I really wanted to get to know him more, from him and not from people talking about him.

Bottomline: This is a mature YA book, despite the MC being 15-years-old. There is great humor throughout the book, with interesting characters, and decent conflict resolution, but also a lack of depth at times, and a sexual focus to the book that I would keep away from younger YA readers.

Book Links:


Thursday, May 23, 2013

Audiobook Review: Just for Fins

Just for Fins (Fins, #3)
Just for Fins by Tera Lynn Childs
(Series: Fins #3)
July 3, 2012
246 pages
Katherine Tegan Books
Narrated by: Emily Bauer
Genre: Young Adult
Source: Personal purchase via Audible
Book Blurb:
When Lily Sanderson decided to remain Crown Princess Waterlily of the mermaid kingdom Thalassinia, she knew she couldn’t just coast along in the current. But since she’s spent the last couple of years on land—with gorgeous human Quince by her side—Lily’s not sure she has the fins to lead a kingdom. Even her maddeningly pretentious cousin Dosinia seems to know more about ruling than she does.

But Lily has to dive in deep to keep her promise to Tellin, her mer bond in name only, whose kingdom is suffering in the changing ocean climate. Lily knows this is a seven seas–sized problem: from sea animals dying to oil spills and threats to humans. They’ll need to create some serious waves to make the mer community aware and get it to join together to make things right. Even if that means facing one of the iciest queens in the mer kingdoms.

Just when Lily thinks her double life on land and sea can’t get any more complicated, an ancient mer law might separate Lily and Quince after all. It feels as if the pair is up against a solid tsunami wave!

In this third installment in the series that began with Forgive My Fins and Fins Are Forever, Lily will have to find a way to balance safety and justice for the mer people as well as for the humans she loves.

My Review:

Just for Fins picks up where Fins are Forever left off. Where the first book or two focused more on Lily and her boy issues, this final book adds in the environmental aspect of ocean problems. Lily must start taking on her crown role, and she is thrown right into the whirlpool of issues the kingdoms around her have. In addition to that, Quince must face yet another challenge to test whether his relationship with Lily will be forever accepted in the merworld or not.

I genuinely liked Lily and her "voice" in this series. The author allows you to feel and sense her internal and external struggles. We also get to see other characters from the series grow and change, and how Lily herself grows into her role as Crown Princess. The character growth in this book is really important and I love that it's in a YA book. We are also presented with a variety of "ocean problems" and how humans affect the oceans. This came across as appropriate for Lily's situation, yet I didn't feel like the author was overly preachy about things. There were ideas and concerns tossed out there, but I didn't feel like I was being hit over the head with it.

I only wish there was more Quince in the book. While we did get to see him deal with the challenges the merworld threw at him, I missed all the interactions between him and Lily from the previous books (though they did still have some nice moments together). I genuinely liked Lily and Quince, but felt like their relationship and Quince's challenges were overshadowed a bit by the problems in the kingdoms (though understandable since Lily had a lot going on). But I will say the author leaves the series on a good note and I captured a great vision for their future.

Bottomline: Just for Fins is an easy, fast, and enjoyable read, and a great ending to the Fins Series. I think this is a terrific series, especially for the Young Adult genre. It keeps things age appropriate and I genuinely feel like the characters in this series act their age, yet grow in their maturity. I've enjoyed all three books, whether I was reading the book or listening to the audio version. Additionally, the audiobook narrator does a good job capturing Lily's voice and emotions (and the male voices were okay).



GOODREADS   |   AMAZONApollyon (Covenant Series)AUDIBLE

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Book Review: This Girl by Colleen Hoover

This Girl (Slammed, #3)
This Girl by Colleen Hoover
April 30, 2013
Atria Books
256 pages
Genre: New Adult
Source: NetGalley for honest review
(Though I have also pre-ordered the paperback because I want it on my shelf!)
Book Blurb:
There are two sides to every love story. Now hear Will’s.

Colleen Hoover’s New York Times bestselling Slammed series has brought countless readers to their knees with a whirlwind of love, passion, and heartache.

Layken and Will’s love has managed to withstand the toughest of circumstances and the young lovers, now married, are beginning to feel safe and secure in their union. As much as Layken relishes their new life together, she finds herself wanting to know everything there is to know about her husband, even though Will makes it clear he prefers to keep the painful memories of the past where they belong. Still, he can’t resist his wife’s pleas and so he begins to untangle his side of the story, revealing for the first time his most intimate feelings and thoughts, retelling both the good and bad moments, and sharing a few shocking confessions of his own from the time when they first met.

In This Girl, Will tells the story of their complicated relationship from his point of view. Their future rests on how well they deal with the past in this final installment of the beloved Slammed series.
My Review:
While Will's POV from Slammed isn't necessary to perpetuate my sheer love for this series by Colleen Hoover, especially since Point of Retreat was from his POV, I will not deny my utter excitement at getting another book from Colleen featuring Will and Lake. Book retellings can be a tricky business and are not always done right. I'm not a fan of simply cutting and pasting previous scenes and then just reconfiguring things to change the speaker/voice. This is where Colleen Hoover got everything right. This novel, for me, was the perfect retelling of a story from another character's POV, and Will is the perfect narrator.

What makes THIS GIRL so special and unique?

1. We get not only Will's POV from Slammed, but we additionally get his POV while he and Lake are on their honeymoon. So we get the past and present mixed together. It's basically a story within a story. This could not have been done better.

2. We get Will's POV during the scenes with him and Lake during Slammed. But Colleen didn't fall into the old 'cut-and-paste' method with a few internal thoughts thrown in here and there. We get a full immersion into Will's psyche and truly get to see each situation from his deep POV, no stone unturned. Additionally, I loved the interactions between Will and Lake after he would tell her each mini-story and how together they would reflect on the different ways they saw each situation and how they were able to come together, understanding the other a little bit better after seeing the other side of the story.

3. We get lots of bonus material about Will himself: who he was before Lake, what happened with him while Lake wasn't around, how much he was dedicated to her during those really difficult times, his relationship with Julia, his relationship with Caulder and Kel, his relationship with Gavin. All of these things made me fall in love with Will over and over again.

4. We get new honeymoon scenes that prove how compatible and wonderful Will and Lake are together. While it is obvious they are on their honeymoon having sex (refer to Kiersten's definition), there is nothing overly steamy or graphic, and any sex scenes eventually go fade to black, so the audience for this book remains consistent with the audience for Slammed and Point of Retreat.

5. We get more slam poetry!! Including beautiful slams from Will!!

6. We get a beautiful, heartfelt, poignant, and perfect epilogue. You will rejoice with Will and Lake and their future, and the beauty of their life together. You will swoon over Will all over again. And Colleen somehow was able to involve all the pertinent players from the books into the epilogue. Girlfriend knows how to leave her readers happy!

Bottomline: This is the perfect bonus ending to the Slammed series. I will miss journeying with Will and Lake into their future, but their future is bright and my thoughts for them will forever be happy. This is a series I will read over and over, and Will's POV is the metaphorical cherry on top. Thank you, Colleen, for your writing genius!


Monday, May 20, 2013

Top Ten (#13): Book Covers

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme created and hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.
For more information and a list of past and future topics, go here.
Top Ten Favorite Book Covers Of Books I've Read
(In Alphabetical Order by Author)
Clockwork Princess (The Infernal Devices, #3) 
Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare
I love all the book covers in this series. Gorgeous!
Sweet Evil (The Sweet Trilogy, #1)
Sweet Evil by Wendy Higgins
 I normally like something more artistic, but this gorgeous couple made me want to get this book, and they fit perfectly with the feel of the story.
The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer, #1)
The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
All the feels over this cover and all its artsy, gorgeous amazingness!!
Splintered (Splintered, #1)
Splintered by A.G. Howard
Being a huge AiW fan, I loved this colorful, creative cover.

Hourglass (Hourglass, #1)
Hourglass by Myra McEntire
Eerie, intriguing, and simply lovely.
Cryer's Cross
Cryer's Cross by Lisa McMann
This gets the creepy award. And if you've read the book, you know why.
Cinder (Lunar Chronicles, #1) 
Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Talk about attention-grabbing!
Shiver (The Wolves of Mercy Falls, #1)
Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
I loved the serene, artistic feel of the covers in this series.
Daughter of Smoke & Bone (Daughter of Smoke & Bone, #1)
The Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
Bold and beautiful!
Find You in the Dark (Find You in the Dark, #1)
Find You in the Dark by A. Meredith Walters
I can feel the emotions in the cover pose and it coincides beautifully with the book. 
Rebel Heart (Dust Lands, #2)
Rebel Heart by Moira Young
This is the way to catch a dude's silhouette, and still leave him mysterious.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Book Series Review: Die For Me by Amy Plum

Die for Me (Revenants, #1)
Die For Me by Amy Plum
May 10, 2011
Harper Teen
341 pages
Genre: Young Adult
Source: Personal purchase
Die For Me Blurb:
In the City of Lights, two star-crossed lovers battle a fate that is destined to tear them apart again and again for eternity.

When Kate Mercier's parents die in a tragic car accident, she leaves her life--and memories--behind to live with her grandparents in Paris. For Kate, the only way to survive her pain is escaping into the world of books and Parisian art. Until she meets Vincent.

Mysterious, charming, and devastatingly handsome, Vincent threatens to melt the ice around Kate's guarded heart with just his smile. As she begins to fall in love with Vincent, Kate discovers that he's a revenant--an undead being whose fate forces him to sacrifice himself over and over again to save the lives of others. Vincent and those like him are bound in a centuries-old war against a group of evil revenants who exist only to murder and betray. Kate soon realizes that if she follows her heart, she may never be safe again.

My Spoiler-Free Series Review:

I loved the direction of this series, doing something different with zombies. Revenants are essentially undead "people" who continue their "lives" saving humans from death, which includes actually "dying" for them at times. I admire this concept, and found the views of this type of "lifestyle" very interesting, especially when you look at it from the different characters perspectives. Add in Kate and her tragic past, having recently lost her parents, along with her adorable grandparents and extrovert sister, along with the Revenant cast, and you get a variety of wonderful characters that I instantly loved (well, except for the bad guys, of course). Plus, the author takes us on a wonderful tour of Paris and some of its outliers, as well as French mannerisms, art, and cuisine, and I loved that I felt like I was right there with Kate and Vincent (and wanting to travel to Paris very badly).

The depth of this series was a pleasure to read. Not only do we have the love story between Kate and Vincent, but all the complications that would obviously persist in a relationship between a human and a Revenant. Throw in Kate's struggles over death itself, having lost her parents, and the incompatibilities increase. Kate must confront her personal issues, family fears, future desires, and her love for Vincent, and Amy Plum takes us on a great journey with Kate. Vincent has no shortage of issues to face as well. This was more than just a love story. Yes, it was a love story, but I appreciate that it was more than that.

I found the variety of characters very interesting, and I particularly appreciated the depth the author gave them. There were no shallow, unimaginative people here. I also liked how little stories about some of the secondary characters would come out at random times. I loved the layering of the story, how we would learn more and more about the Revenants, and be allowed to try and piece things together ourselves as Kate was piecing things together. I like that even if the reader is able to figure out clues and plot prior to them being revealed, this does not detract from the enjoyment of how Amy Plum reveals things (at least for me). I loved the twists and turns we were taken on, and applaud the author's creativity.

Bottomline: I loved this series and recommend it to anyone who wants to travel to a different city, fall in love with an amazing guy and self-sacrificing "people," watch a girl heal and discover her true potential, and be swept away into an amazing and unique journey.


Individual Book Mini-Reviews:

Die for Me (Revenants, #1)  Until I Die (Revenants, #2) 
Die for Her (Revenants, #2.5)  If I Should Die (Revenants, #3)

Die For Me #1: Kate's journey from depression to love was heartfelt and endearing. I could feel her pain, her reluctance, and also her curiosity. The reader may be tempted to compare this book, and the H/h to characters in other popular books, but I would encourage the reader to look beyond some similarities and see the numerous differences. I really enjoyed the unique take on zombies and the world of Revenants in particular. It is a wonderful, worthwhile storyline that deserves it's own attention and recognition. 5 STARS

Until I Die #2: I continue to love this series. The pacing in this second book slowed down for me a bit until toward the end of the book, suffering a bit from middle book syndrome. But the second half, particularly toward the end, was very exciting. I found the secrets between H/h to be understandable but still frustrating, though wanting to figure things out along with Kate certainly held my attention. Warning: There's a major cliffhanger at the end, which made me so glad that I already had the next book, and I had to immediately read the first chapter, despite it being already being very late.  4 STARS

Die For Her #2.5: I enjoyed Jules' POV, as I really like his character. My heart was so sad for him and his unrequited love. This is really a summary of the first two books from Jules' POV. I loved the extras from Jules. But since I had just read the first two books back-to-back, I didn't need some of the story reminders. I additionally want to say I would love a book or series following Jules after the last book of this series, because I loved his character so much. 4 STARS

If I Should Die #3: Thankfully, If I Should Die picks up right where Until I Die left off, after that crazy cliffhanger. I felt like there was a continual stream of action and intrigue, and I felt like the story griped me right away and didn't want to let me go. I loved all the different directions Amy Plum took us on, and all the twists and turns. I loved how in control Kate had to be, and couldn't rely on Vincent to be in charge. He may have all the Revenant history, but this book further demonstrated Kate's leadership prowess and abilities. Their love story is challenged and tested until the end. The secondary characters are tested until the end. Everyone is tested until the end. And the ending was exciting and worth the wait. I appreciate the way the novel ended, giving satisfactory closure yet realism that not everything would be perfect for everyone. But it still left me in a place of hope and direction for the future. I loved it! And, honestly, I wouldn't mind a spin-off book or series following some of the other Revenants, because I loved these characters so much. 5 STARS

Book Links:

Die For Me:           AMAZON * GOODREADS
Until I Die:            AMAZON * GOODREADS
Die For Her:         AMAZON * GOODREADS
If I Should Die:    AMAZON * GOODREADS

Friday, May 17, 2013

Book Review: Dare You To

Dare You To (Pushing the Limits, #2)
Dare You To by Katie McGarry
May 28, 2013
Harlequin Teen
304 pages
Source: NetGalley for honest review
Genre: Mature Young Adult
Contains: Foul language, drugs, alcohol, sexual situations 

From Goodreads:
"I dare you..."

If anyone knew the truth about Beth Risk's home life, they'd send her mother to jail and seventeen-year-old Beth who knows where. So she protects her mom at all costs. Until the day her uncle swoops in and forces Beth to choose between her mom's freedom and her own happiness. That's how Beth finds herself living with an aunt who doesn't want her and going to a school that doesn't understand her. At all. Except for the one guy who shouldn't get her, but does....

Ryan Stone is the town golden boy, a popular baseball star jock-with secrets he can't tell anyone. Not even the friends he shares everything with, including the constant dares to do crazy things. The craziest? Asking out the Skater girl who couldn't be less interested in him.

But what begins as a dare becomes an intense attraction neither Ryan nor Beth expected. Suddenly, the boy with the flawless image risks his dreams-and his life-for the girl he loves, and the girl who won't let anyone get too close is daring herself to want it all....
My Review:

I loved PUSHING THE LIMITS, so I was very much looking forward to DARE YOU TO. I didn't love Beth in PTL, but I hoped to get a new perspective on her in DYT, and wanted to give her a chance. Unfortunately, I didn't love DYT as much as PTL. It was really just an okay read for me. Katie McGarry is still a quality writer, but that doesn't change how I felt about the story, and Beth in particular. My feelings toward the book mostly have to do with Beth. I could empathize with her character and her situation, but also struggled with how she handled things. She also has this ongoing animosity toward Echo that makes no sense. I also felt like there was a bit too much drama, which is odd because I didn't feel like there was too much drama in PTL, even though that book is packed with emotion.

Again, I think it all comes down to my feelings toward Beth. It took me quite a while to warm up to her, and even by the end I only had feelings of empathy for her, but still didn't really like her. This is not to say that I need to like a main character to like a book. I can think of other examples of books, like The Opportunist by Tarryn Fisher, where I didn't generally like any of the characters, but found the book to be amazing. This just wasn't one of those instances, and I think it might have to do with the feeling that I was supposed to like Beth by the end of the book, but again couldn't make myself. Part of the reason I couldn't be all Team Beth is because of some instances of hypocrisy on her part that were overlooked in the story, and made to seem like not a big deal. These instances had to do with Isaiah, and with a situation with Ryan toward the end where it appeared to me that Beth was going to do something that completely contradicted how she felt about how someone had previously treated her. This really bothered me, yet it wasn't really addressed. Now Ryan I liked. He was a good character, and obviously liked Beth way more than I did, and I could empathize with his family situation. But I also felt like Beth and Ryan's relationship moved a bit too fast for me, and honestly that fast movement just didn't make sense to me. I know I'm probably in the minority, and that's okay.

Isaiah I loved and can't wait for his story in CRASH INTO YOU! I also really want a book about Logan, who was a fascinating secondary character that appears to have much more than meets the eye, and would love to hear his story.


Thursday, May 16, 2013

Book Review, Tour, & Giveaway: ALLURE by Nina Lane

Follow the Tour: Literati Literature Lovers

Allure (Spiral of Bliss, #2)
ALLURE by Nina Lane
(Spiral of Bliss #2)
May 13, 2013
Snow Queen Publishing
392 pages
Source: eARC for honest review
Genre: Genre: Contemporary Romance with a very sexy married couple.
Book Blurb:
“We both want this so badly. I can feel it resonating between us like the hot pull of our first attraction, tangible and intense.”

After lies and betrayal almost destroy their marriage, Dean and Olivia West reignite their blissful passion. The medieval history professor and his lovely wife are determined to fix their mistakes, and Liv’s unexpected pregnancy intensifies their desire to fall madly in love all over again.

Then a family crisis forces Dean back into a feud with his parents and siblings, dredging up guilt over a painful family secret. Dean fights to shield Liv from the hostility, but for the first time, Liv resists her white knight’s defense. Her newfound resolve clashes with Dean’s desperate need to protect her.

Liv and Dean have battled obstacles together before, but bitter family conflicts now endanger their fragile intimacy. And when Dean’s career is suddenly threatened, he and Liv must struggle with events that could damage them in ways they had never imagined.
My Review:

If you have not read AROUSE yet, this review may contain spoilers from the first book, so I suggest grabbing a copy of AROUSE first. ALLURE picks up right where AROUSE left off. Dean and Liv's problems from AROUSE are nowhere near solved yet, but they are moving forward, and I was thrilled they were ready to start working through things. Unfortunately for them, the pregnancy is only a small part of the trials they must face.

I loved ALLURE much more than the first book, AROUSE. For some reason I was able to connect on a much deeper level with Dean and Liv this time around. I still felt the same frustrations with them, but my hang-ups with the previous novel were put to sleep. Plus, Nina Lane has a beautiful way of weaving her sentences together. And her streaming between past and present flowed so well. I loved the flashes to past and present. And I loved the alternating between Olivia and Dean's POVs. The way the author revealed certain things felt very natural and unforced, and I love that we keep getting new tid-bits from Dean and Liv's pasts, though the people they deal with in the present are far from enjoyable (hence their trials).

I felt thoroughly engulfed in Dean and Liv's lives, and vested in their future. Being married for 16 years myself, I can fully appreciate the ups and downs of marriage, and I truly appreciate the way Nina Lane dives right into the joys and struggles of young marriage. I have no idea how the entire series will end, but I will say up front I'll be devastated if they don't make it as a couple. I am a strong believer in fighting for your marriage, so I feel completely invested in Dean and Liv, and am rooting for them all the way. (Ah, feels good to get that off my chest.)

During one flashback, Liv makes an observation that I thought was so key to whatever problems Dean and Liv faced, past or present. And getting past this is such a powerful part to releasing the full potential of their relationship and future. I think this also speaks volumes for many people and couples, and is a great insight by the author into relationships, and the harm that can be done internally by couples. Even though the chemistry and heat between Dean and Liv is undeniable, sexual attraction is not enough to hold a relationship together.

"As powerful as our attraction was, it was becoming fraught with a strange undercurrent of secrecy and evasiveness."

The way Nina Lane delves into the past and present of Dean and Liv's relationship, how they handle the internal and external obstacles to their paths, also holds so true to many people. I think that is part of the power of this series. And despite what Dean and Liv should have learned from the mistakes made in AROUSE, here they are making the same mistakes again. Not fully giving of themselves. They think that they are, but they are not. And not only are they dealing with marital issues, but personal issues as well, which then bleed into their marriage. These struggles are true and relatable for so many people. I found myself loving Dean and Liv and the beautiful things they would say to each other and the lovely way they would describe the other. They have an amazing chemistry and connection, and truly feel like they were made for each other. Then I would feel frustrated that they were being so blind to the problems they were causing, rather than solving. But I will say that I really appreciate where Nina Lane left Liv and Dean at the end of the novel. Not that things were completely solved, but there is great hope for the future and their personal and mutual journey, but also much work to be done.

The series is called Spiral of Bliss, and it makes me wonder if this is supposed to describe the up and down spiral to Dean and Liv's relationship. One moment they are spinning into mutual love and adoration, and the next moment they are spinning down a path of mistrust and misguidance. Well, I am caught up in their spiral and I will definitely be eager for the next book, AWAKEN!



Book Links:

About the Author:

Nina Lane is a multi-published author of elegant, romantic and often raunchy erotica.
Her recent release AROUSE is the first book in the Spiral of Bliss series, and her novel
THE EROTIC DARK is a #1 Amazon erotica bestseller.

Nina used to write novels under the name Natasha Rostova and has published stories
in anthologies such as “Best Women’s Erotica” and “Erotic Travel Tales.” Her work has
been translated into both German and Japanese. In addition to writing, she's an avid
reader who loves popcorn and has recently joined a workout boot-camp that is kicking
her rear end.

Connect with Nina Lane:


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Book Review: Eyes Wide Open

Eyes Wide Open  (The Blackstone Affair, #3)
Eyes Wide Open by Raine Miller
(The Blackstone Affair Part 3)
May 14, 2013
Atria Books
272 pages
Source: NetGalley for honest review
Genre: Adult Romance
Content: Includes erotic sexual elements, mature language
Book Blurb:
The third part in The Blackstone Affair series: A love on the brink of being destroyed. The fight of a lifetime to keep it alive.

Big surprises are on the horizon for Ethan and Brynne as they struggle to adjust to what life has thrown at them. Demons from the past are threatening to destroy the passionate bond they’ve forged despite their vow that nothing will ever keep them apart. A truly devastating loss coupled with the promise of a new hope opens their eyes to what is most important, but is it possible for the lovers to move on from the painful histories that continue to haunt them? A stalker is still lurking in the shadows, plotting evil amidst the distraction of the 2012 Olympic games in London. Brynne and Ethan are on the cusp of losing everything as the stakes rise. Will they yield to circumstances beyond their control or will they give every ounce of fight they have left to save each other and win the ultimate prize of a life together?

Eyes Wide Open is a passion-wrought story that shows us what pure love can achieve when tested and what the heart can accomplish despite danger and adversity.

My Review:

My review of Naked (here)
My review of All In (here)

If you've read my reviews of the previous two books in this series, you've seen that while I liked the books, there was something missing for me, and they weren't my favorites. But I still liked Ethan and Brynne and hoped that this book would be above the others and finally fill in the missing piece(s) that would push my feelings beyond so-so. I'm happy to say that my wish came true. Eyes Wide Open, for me, is the best of the series so far. I finally felt like I wasn't just looking at story and character potential, but was getting the story I had been hoping for.

The storyline picks up where All In left off. If you haven't read All In in a while, like me, there are enough summary bits thrown in to get you caught up. And where the previous two books were from either Brynne's or Ethan's POVs (excluding the prologues), Eyes Wide Open alternates between Brynne and Ethan. This back and forth of the POVs I loved. It was so helpful to be in both their heads, and it felt like Raine did the switches at just the right time. From the very start, Raine pulls the reader right into Ethan and Brynne's world and doesn't let us go until the end.

Raine Miller brought the depth of character and storyline beyond the previous novels, which is exactly what I'd hoped for. I felt the maturity of Ethan and Brynne's relationship, and really loved how they came together as two parts of one whole, helping each other, and neither being above the other. They had to deal with a lot of drama, but I enjoyed the way they dealt with it without the author beating us over the head with excessive drama and antics that in real life wouldn't be tolerated. The pace was far improved from All In, and there were enough twists and turns to keep the plotline interesting and suspenseful at times. Some parts were predictable, but I didn't feel like that took away from the story. If anything, even though I predicted certain things, Raine's writing felt honest and what the characters went through felt real, despite the nature of this whirlwind romance, and it made me embrace the journey the characters were on. I also enjoyed the spots of humor thrown in and found myself literally laughing out loud in certain scenes, which I didn't expect. There were even emotional scenes that didn't quite bring me tears, but still made me feel for and empathize with the emotions of the characters.

Additionally, I felt like Raine did a better job bringing in the secondary characters and pulling them into the storyline, emphasizing their importance not just to the story, but to Ethan and Brynne's lives as well. There are also a few secondary characters I really want to know more about, and felt potential relationships were hinted at, and hope they are a part of the next book, or perhaps get their own book/series. And lastly, the sex scenes continue to be steamy and hot. With Ethan as a character, this aspect of the story will never be lacking. Where initially I felt the relationship was super fast, in this book their relationship felt strong and honest, and the chemistry was spot on, regardless of whether they were in bed or not. While their relationship is still very physical, I was glad to see that the emotional and mental side was right at the top as well.

Bottomline: Eyes Wide Open is the best of this series so far. If you've been on the fence, then this might be the book you're looking for like I was. I'm also thrilled that Raine has added another book. The ending to this one will leave you in a satisfactory spot, and another book is not necessary, but it is entirely welcome. I definitely want to see what is in store next for Ethan and Brynne.

4 -1/2 STARS


Thursday, May 9, 2013

Book Review Tour & Giveaways: Don't Hate the Player... Hate the Game

Follow the Tour: Literati Literature Lovers

Don't Hate the Player...Hate the Game
Don't Hate the Player... Hate the Game
by Katie Ashley
April 30, 2013
Genre: Mature Young Adult
Source: eARC for honest review
Content: Language, drinking, mention of/or sexual situations
Book Blurb:
For Noah Sullivan being the best friend to a douchebag and player like Jake Nelson has never been easy. It's been a rocky road since kindergarten when Jake duct taped Noah to his chair before recess. With just six weeks to high school graduation, Jake accidentally blows his drunken ass up on his grandfather's tractor, and Noah finds himself immersed not only in a whirlwind of grief, but on a quest to find a mystery girl from Jake's past.

While cleaning out Jake's room, Noah and Jake's dad make a startling discovery. Instead of the obligatory porn collection or pot stash, they find a ring, but not just any ring. Its half a carat of commitment in a platinum setting-proving even man whores have taste. After Jake's mom pleads with Noah to find the girl who meant so much to Jake, Noah begins a modern day Grail quest to track the girl down.

Since Jake was a notorious player with a legendary collection of trophy panties, Noah finds himself in over his head. There are the usual suspects like Avery, the Ice Princess Jake dated for appearances, or Presley, the school mattress Jake dated for convenience. But the trail begins to point to the most unlikely of suspects: Maddie, the Valedictorian and choir girl who was trying to help the unmotivated jock graduate--the girl who also has surprisingly caught Noah's eye and meddled with his heart.

Hanging out with Maddie shows Noah a different side of Jake--one that was deeply human and surprisingly douche-free. And the more he tries to solve the mystery of the ring and of Jake, the more Noah starts to discover about himself and of love.
My Review:

I found this to be a refreshing, touching book, told from a 17-year-old boy's POV. Though it is not necessarily always fun to be inside the mind of some teenage boys (hello... hormones), I found it very easy and even enlightening to be inside of Noah's head. Noah just lost his best friend, Jake, in a freak accident. But that is just the start of this book, following Noah not only in the process of discovering who the mysterious girl was that Jake bought the ring for, but more importantly, following Noah's journey to self-discovery and discovery of who his best friend really was. I found this to be a surprisingly emotional story, and I felt like I was right there with Noah.

I really appreciate all the thought the author put into Noah's mind and where he took the story. He was not a superficial, shallow character. And this book was not just about his and Jake's relationship, or even his relationship with a girl. This book ventured into the many facets of Noah's life and past, and I enjoyed the depth of level and direction the author took this story. There were beautiful moments when Noah would reflect on the past with Jake, his granddaddy, and others that really touched me. Not only was Noah a deep character, but Jake was as well. It was really interesting getting to know Jake through so many other people, and the author pulled it together very well. And just when I was thinking the author was going to leave us thinking we should just accept that Jake was two-faced and that's okay that people are that way, she redeemed the story to show how important honesty is in relationships. I loved Noah's epiphanies and his varying emotions toward Jake.

I also enjoyed how the author would throw us a curveball here and there, where I felt emotions were heightened, and the storyline would intensify even more, but it didn't feel gimmicky or overly-dramatized. There was never a dull moment, and I felt completely engrossed in the story. My hang-up is the end of the epilogue. After all the build-up of Maddie and her character and beliefs, I felt like the end left me feeling like things became a bit cliché in the end, when they didn't need to be. I loved the uniqueness of this book and the characters, and would have personally liked it if the author would have maintained Maddie's convictions and kept the uniqueness of everything until the end. Just my opinion.

Bottomline: This is a well-done, unique and touching tale of looking beyond the surface and discovering the depths of those around us, the importance of being honest and being your true self, seeking and giving forgiveness, and finding and showing love and acceptance.

International Giveaway:

Grand Prize Giveaway:

Book Links:
About the Author:

Katie Ashley is the New York Times, USA Today, and Amazon Best-Selling author of The Proposition. She lives outside of Atlanta, Georgia with her two very spoiled dogs and one outnumbered cat. She has a slight obsession with Pinterest, The Golden Girls, Harry Potter, Shakespeare, Supernatural, Designing Women, and Scooby-Doo. She spent 11 1/2 years educating the Youth of America aka teaching MS and HS English until she left to write full time in December 2012. She also writes Young Adult fiction under the name Krista Ashe.
Author Links: