Monday, August 31, 2015

Review: Racing the Sun by Karina Halle

Racing the Sun by Karina Halle
(Where Sea Meets Sky #2)
July 28,  2015
336 pages
Genre: New Adult Romance, Standalone
Contains: sex, profanity
Source: eARC & Personal paperback purchase

From the New York Times bestselling author of Where Sea Meets Sky comes a new adult novel about a young woman who becomes a nanny in Capri and falls for her charges’ bad-boy brother.

It’s time for twenty-four-year-old Amber MacLean to face the music. After a frivolous six months of backpacking through New Zealand, Australia, and Southeast Asia, she finds herself broke on the Mediterranean without enough money for a plane ticket home to California. There are worse places to be stuck than the gorgeous coastline of southern Italy, but the only job she manages to secure involves teaching English to two of the brattiest children she’s ever met.

It doesn’t help that the children are under the care of their brooding older brother, Italian ex-motorcycle racer Desiderio Larosa. Darkly handsome and oh-so-mysterious, Derio tests Amber’s patience and will at every turn—not to mention her hormones.

But when her position as teacher turns into one as full-time nanny at the crumbling old villa, Amber finds herself growing closer to the enigmatic recluse and soon has to choose between the safety of her life back in the States and the uncertainty of Derio’s closely guarded heart.

'Racing the Sun' was a beautifully written story about two people finding each other amongst completely unintentional circumstances. Amber, U.S.-citizen-turned-traveler since graduating college, meets Derio unexpectedly when she takes on a temporary postion teaching English to his siblings, as she has run out of money and is currently stuck in Italy. This chance meeting is not without its bumps. In fact, the situation is unpleasant and has Amber questioning how badly she needs this job. You see, while Amber is full of life and finally taking a chance on the adventurous side of life, Derio and his siblings have been hit a tragic blow, and are barely surviving, let alone thriving, in their daily lives. But each finds something in the other that pushes them out of the comfort zone they have been living in.

I really enjoyed the personal growth on both Amber and Dario's parts. We see everything through Amber's eyes, so it's easier to feel the changes going on with her. And the questions she faces. The circumstances she has found herself in are not easy. The children are not easy. Derio is not easy. And the deeper she gets with this family, the more she changes, both good and bad. There were times I struggled alongside her, reasoning the consequences of her choices and what her future would look like. So many unexpected things were happening to and around her. I really appreciated how much Halle conveyed all the angles and aspects of Amber's life and situation.

Derio has a wealth of heartache to deal with. He's been dealt a heavy blow. But somehow Amber has entered his life, and that tiny spark gives him a glimpse of hope, even if it takes him a while to get there. This is also something I really enjoyed about this book. There's no insta-love. The romance is not quick. There is a slow build, a slow simmer, and I loved that the growth of respect and romance was more than skin-deep. Derio had much transforming to do, and I loved the roll that Amber played in it. These two really turned out to be a beautiful match. But like Amber, Derio also had much to consider about his past, present, and future.

This story was a beautiful, slow-building romance. I fell in love with Derio and Amber and their heartfelt romance. Their circumstances and silly mistakes challenged my feelings on their future, but ultimately I was absolutely rooting for them. But this is also more than just a romance. This a character-building adventure, a family-solidifying connection, and a heart-healing journey. There is so much that Amber, Derio, and Derio's siblings go through and heal from. I loved that this story mixed in the siblings, giving it more depth and insight. I loved that even Amber had personal things to deal with and they were not overshadowed by Derio's issues. And, of course, I loved the international aspect. Having never been to Italy myself, I loved walking in Amber's shoes.

I loved 'Racing the Sun' and Amber and Derio's beautiful story. I would even love to read more about them. This was my first Karina Halle read, and I look forward to more.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Sunday Post: Weekly Wrap-Up (8.30)

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It's a chance to share news, recap the past week on your blog, showcase books, share upcoming news, etc. See rules here: Sunday Post Meme

What I Read Last Week:
End of Days by Susan Ee
Hard as It Gets by Laura Kaye
Hard as You Can by Laura Kaye
My Kind of Forever by Heidi McLaughlin

My Reviews Last Week:
Elect #2 by Rachel Van Dyken (my 4 star review)
Entice #3 by Rachel Van Dyken (my 4 star review)
Elicit #4 by Rachel Van Dyken (my 5 star review)
Ember #5 by Rachel Van Dyken (my 5 star review)
Elude #6 by Rachel Van Dyken (my 5+ star review)

What I'm Listening To:

Unwholly #2 by Neal Schusterman

What I'm Reading Next:

Hard to Let Go by Laura Kaye

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Stacking The Shelves (124)

STSmall_thumb[2][2]Stacking The Shelves, hosted by Tynga's Reviews, is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

For My Kindle:
Rule  by CD Reiss
Hard to Let Go by Laura Kaye
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

eARC Goodies:
My Kind of Forever by Heidi McLaughlin
Butterfly Dreams by A. Meredith Walters

Friday, August 28, 2015

Review: ELUDE by Rachel Van Dyken

ELUDE by Rachel Van Dyken
(Eagle Elite #6)
July 9, 2015
275 pages
Genre: New Adult Mafia Romance 18+
Contains: Sex, profanity, violence
Source: Personal purchase

Twenty-Four hours before we were to be married--I offered to shoot her.
Ten hours before our wedding--I made a mockery of her dying wish.
Five hours before we were going to say our vows--I promised I'd never love her.
One hour before I said I do--I vowed I'd never shed a tear over her death.
But the minute we were pronounced man and wife--I knew.

I'd only use my gun to protect her.
I'd give my life for hers.
I'd cry.
And I would, most definitely, lose myself, to a dying girl---a girl who by all accounts should have never been mine in the first place.

I always believed the mafia would be my end game--poisoning my heart, while it claimed my soul. I could have never imagined. It would be my redemption.

Or the beginning of something beautiful.

The beginning of her.

The end of us.

This book is the sixth book in the internationally bestselling Eagle Elite Series. It's an interconnected stand alone novel with no cliffhanger.

Oh my gosh!!! This book! This story! It is simply beautiful!

I just finished a marathon read of this series, and my only regret is that I have to wait for the next one. But what I don't regret is this absolutely gorgeous story. Sergio and Andi broke my heart, knit it back together, broke it again, and then re-knit it all over again. But if you've made it this far in the series, you have to read this book! I have loved that each couple has had a different twist on their romantic relationship. Sergio and Andi's is its own inspiring, absorbing, loving twist.

I loved watching the transformation between Sergio and Andi, especially Andi's effect on Sergio. Talk about life-changing! Andi is this beam light, the sunshine on a cloudy day, and Sergio never stood a chance. And Sergio became just who he was meant to be, and found his purpose with Andi. I just loved these two. Loved their banter. Loved their humor. Loved their tenderness. Loved their romance. I even loved their pain, because it brought about such heart-breaking beauty.

I also loved seeing the rest of the "family." There is the continuing mafia craziness happening. But more importantly, watching where each couple has progressed since their stories, seeing their love shine through, was quite endearing. I also quite liked the guys as a group, acting as brothers regardless of blood; wrestling through forgiveness and trust issues; learning how to run their mafia with newness and youth; showing their deep love for their wives. There were some really special moments woven in that touched my heart. Even these killers have hearts.

Bottom-line, I loved ELUDE! I loved Sergio and Andi's story, and if I think about it too long, I'm going to tear-up all over again. Loved them! Also, I am addicted to this series, and cannot wait for the next book. And when you finish reading this book, you will know exactly why. Seriously. Can. Not. Wait!








Expected publication, November 2015

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Review: EMBER by Rachel Van Dyken

EMBER by Rachel Van Dyken
(Eagle Elite #5)
February 19, 2015
341 pages
Genre: New Adult Mafia Romance 18+
Contains: Sex, profanity, violence
Trigger warning: past rape references
Source: Personal purchase

 I am a Killer. A Rapist. A Monster.
I know only pain and survival.
That is until the Cappo's sister walked into my life.
And changed everything.

She's a light who makes my darkness darker, her smile makes my heart turn to ice, and I can't escape the fear her seductive looks instill--knowing it's only a matter of time before I fail--again, and take her for myself.
This is the story of my redemption.
But it's not pretty...I died, and now I'm alive, but not living, breathing but not surviving. I am Phoenix De Lange, son to a murdered mob boss, estranged brother, horrible friend, monster in the making, newest leader to one of the most powerful families in the Cosa Nostra.
And I will have my vengeance.
Or die trying.
I am Phoenix De Lange.
Death is all I know.
Until she offers me a piece of life--I can't resist taking.

Phoenix's story was my most anticipated story of the series so far, as well as the one I feared the most. Because from what we know going into this from the previous books, his past is straight-up ugly, nauseating, disgusting, horrifying. You name the negative emotion. But we've also seen the other side of Phoenix. Not just the monster, but the victim underneath, as well as the man full of self-hate, self-loathing, deep remorse, deep regret. The man given a chance at a second chance, if he's ever able to look beyond the monster of his past to any hope for his future.

And who better to see beyond Phoenix's past than someone who only knows him for his present. For the man given a second chance at life. And Bee is just the bouncing ball of light to stoke the flame in Phoenix and ignite his desire for life all over again. Bee is such a special person, and not one easily replicated. She can somehow see beyond the ugly. And though I can't put myself in her shoes, I loved her for the heart she had, and the persistence she had to not give up on saving Phoenix from himself. Bee and Phoenix were absolutely perfect for each other, and I loved them together.

Now there is definitely some ugly going on here, in regard to references to Phoenix's past. No raping happens, but there is a fair amount of past rape references, so be forewarned of that is a trigger for you. But there is also a good balance of regret, remorse, and repentance intertwined, as well as forgiveness and hope. I really felt like Van Dyken handled a very touchy area with great sensitivity and respect.

I was so moved by Phoenix's story. It exceeded my expectations and I completely fell in love with Phoenix and Bee. There are also some really exciting happenings going on here, and once again I loved being with this crazy mafia family, laughing, crying, cringing, and sighing sweetly right alongside them. I loved the twists and turns, hooking me in and not letting me go until the end... until I start the next book. Because I'm addicted to this series!








Expected publication, November 2015

Cover Reveal: The Other Side of Gravity by Shelly Crane

The Other Side of Gravity by Shelly Crane
Series: The Oxygen Series, Book One
Genre: Sci-Fi
Release Date: TBA

My name is Maxton and I’m a trader.

I live on a soulless planet where gravity, oxygen, and everything else are sold to the highest bidder on the black market. People are sold on the black market, too. You have to worrk really hard no to become one of those people. Pay your taxes, keep your friends and family close, and more than anything else - don't get caught by the Militia. But all the rules changed for me the day I found her.

My name is Sophelia and I'm a stowaway.

I've been a slave for almost as long as I can remember. Waiting for the one day, one second, for my proprietor to turn his head so I could run and never look back. Now I'm on the run. And on a planet where no one is on your side and people would turn you in for a good meal or a piece of silver, being on the run on Landu is the last place you want to be. Until he found me.

I won't survive without him.

I can't breathe without her.

Shelly is a NEW YORK TIMES & USA TODAY bestselling author from a small town in Georgia and loves everything about the south. She is wife to a fantastical husband and stay-at-home mom to two boisterous and mischievous boys who keep her on her toes. She hoards paperbacks, devours sweet tea, searches year-round for candy corn, and loves to spend time with her family and friends, go out to eat at new restaurants, site-see in the new areas they travel to, listen to music, and, of course, loves to read, but doesn't have much time to these days with all the characters filling her head begging to come out. She is author to over twenty books and counting!

Her own books happen by accident and she revels in the writing and imagination process. She doesn’t go anywhere without her notepad for fear of an idea creeping up and not being able to write it down immediately, even in the middle of the night, where her best ideas are born.