Saturday, November 30, 2013

12 Days of New Adult GIVEAWAY

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To celebrate the holidays, I'm giving one winner their ebook choice of one the following NEW ADULT reads. (These titles were chosen because they are among my favorite New Adult reads this year.) 
Making Faces  Rule (Marked Men, #1)  Jet (Marked Men, #2)
Lick  Find You in the Dark (Find You in the Dark, #1)  Light in the Shadows (Find You in the Dark, #2)
Vain (The Seven Deadly, #1)  Greed (The Seven Deadly, #2)  One Week Girlfriend (Drew + Fable, #1)

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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Book Review: Torch

Torch (Take It Off, #1)
Torch by Cambria Hebert
August 13, 2013
252 pages
Genre: Contemporary Romantic Thriller
(contains: mature language, sex)
Source: eARC for Honest review
Book Blurb:

If you can’t take the heat… stay away from the flame.

Katie Parks has been on her own since the age of fifteen. All she’s ever wanted is a place to call her own—a life that is wholly hers that no one can take away. She thought she finally had it, but with the strike of a single match, everything she worked so hard for is reduced to a pile of smoking ash. And she almost is too.

Now she’s being stalked by someone who’s decided it’s her time to die. The only thing standing in the path of her blazing death is sexy firefighter Holt Arkain.

Katie’s body might be safe with Holt… but her heart is another story.

As the danger heats up, sparks fly and the only thing Katie knows for sure is that her whole life is about to go up in flames.

My Review:

Torch is a quick, sweet-at-times-steamy-at-others, read. We start out right in the midst of Katie's attempted murder, and soon thereafter get to meet Holt, the hot fireman. Circumstances arise, pushing Holt and Katie into each other's lives beyond the initial fire rescue. And along with the interesting happenings going on between them, we cannot forget that someone out there is still trying to kill Katie.

Katie and Holt are likeable characters and I enjoyed trying to figure out who this mysterious stalker was. The story kept me completely interested, and being that it isn't excessively long, it kept my attention until the very end. There's a bit of insta-love going on, but that sort of thing doesn't bother me much. I felt the genuine connection between Katie and Holt. There is also a bit of stereotypical hot fireman and shy librarian going on. Again, those didn't really bother me. It certainly fits a certain fantasy. I enjoyed reading about Holt and Katie and their developing relationship. Their bond was sweet and their chemistry certainly set off some fire alarms. 

A few things kept me from absolutely loving this one. Without spoilers, I'll just say the way Katie was immediately put into Holt's life was borderline creepy for me. It just didn't make sense ('stranger danger', anyone?). One person in Holt's life didn't really serve a purpose, and the lack of people in Katie's life seemed like a bit of a stretch (perhaps she could have at least called her boss or neighbor in the beginning). Also, while I enjoyed reading about Katie and Holt, I really enjoy a book that has some more secondary characters involved beyond a word or two, or a couple of scenes. It helps flesh out and give more dimension to the main characters when they have other relationships in their lives.

So while Torch does not rank as highly as Cambria's Death Escorts series for me (which I love!), it is still an enjoyable read and a great break from reality, with fun, sexy characters and an intriguing storyline. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Book Review: Danio's Prelude

Danio's Prelude (More than Magic,#0.5)
Danio's Prelude by Elizabeth Kirke
(More Than Magic #0.5)
November 14, 2013
Genre: Adult Paranormal
Contains: Violence, strong language, sex (m/m)
Source: Won from author for Honest review
Book Blurb:
Hear Danio's story, told by the people who know him best. The ones who knew him when all of his laughter was genuine. The ones who were there through the worst that life could throw at him. And the ones who stayed by his side while he picked up the pieces.

An adult, short story collection, based on the Young Adult series, More than Magic.

Contains strong language, violence, and sex.
My Review:

I loved the first two books of this More Than Magic series - Semester Aboard and Snow Bound. Elizabeth Kirke does a tremendous job creating characters you love and a magical world full of so many layers and so much depth, you want to live there. If you haven't read those two books, or at least the first one, than I highly recommend you check them out. Danio's Prelude may be considered a prequel to those other books, but it is really intended to be read afterwards. First, you need to meet Danio in Semester Aboard and Snow Bound, take an instant liking to him, feel the mystery of his past and who he is, and then discover all the depths of Danio in Danio's Prelude. Note: The first two books are really written as Young Adult/New Adult, but Danio's Prelude is most definitely written as an Adult book.

In Danio's Prelude, we are given stories from individuals from Danio's life, ranging from his childhood at age 11 to our introduction to him in Semester Aboard at age 81. But this book is not in chronological order. No, it is a mixed up file of puzzled goodness, bouncing around in time, giving us bits and pieces of Danio's life, culminating in a fiery conclusion in the last chapter, finally giving up the completed picture of Danio. Additionally, these 12 chapter, titled "tracks," are each narrated by a different person from Danio's life. So while the tracks themselves are numbered chronologically, they are ordered very specifically in the book,  starting with Track 12. I thought using both the different narrators and the interweaving of time elements was brilliant. I don't think the journey to discovering Danio would have been quite so impacting or entertaining had it been written chronologically or all been narrated by Danio himself. I give Elizabeth major props for this!

As for what we discover about Danio, I will not give away spoilers, but I will say that I laughed, cried, smiled, sighed, ached, fumed, and blushed at various points throughout the book. I felt the complete gamut of emotions and feels. A good portion of Danio's personality and experience is out there for us to read. He is a thoroughly complex character with a boatload of baggage and trauma from his life, but in spite of all he's been through, he is one of the most endearing people to read about. His humor, kindness, and sincerity always shine through. Elizabeth has created such a wonderful character here, and reading Danio's Prelude was truly a treat. Plus, we get to discover and uncover his secrets (and some other people's secrets as well). And we get to know more about some other characters as well. I'm already planning to re-read the entire series again soon to see all the hints I missed during my first read. Plus, I just love hanging out with these characters.

Additionally, we get insight into Danio and Char's relationship, how they met, etc. To be honest, I'm not a reader of m/m romantic scenes. And as the content warning states, there is some sex in this book, and if you are remotely familiar with Danio, then you know where his preferences lie. So if you like those scenes, then you will love them in this book. If you're like me, I'll say that I had no problem skimming those scenes, gaining the tidbits and insights I wanted, but not lingering on the details that I didn't. Though even with the skimming, I could definitely feel the "heat" coming off of the pages. (Yes, that was a fire elemental pun. I couldn't help myself.)

So overall, I don't know if there are other books out there set up in this fashion, but I haven't read them, so for me this book was genius in its arrangement, narration, insight, and all-around entertainment. Danio's Prelude is definitely for fans of the MTM series. And if you are not familiar with this series, than I highly recommend you check it out.
Semester Aboard (More than Magic, #1)
Snow Bound (More than Magic, #2)
Danio's Prelude (More than Magic,#0.5)
About the Author:

Elizabeth Kirke wanted to be an author before she even knew what an author was. She used to say that she wanted to be an artist, but that was only because she was too young to write and had to tell stories with pictures instead. She hasn't stopped writing since she learned how. It wasn't long before she dreamed of becoming an author and couldn't be happier now that that dream is a reality.

If she isn't writing...well, let's be honest; if she isn't writing she's probably on Facebook thinking that she should start writing. But, if she isn't writing or on Facebook, she's probably doing something involving books, baking, gardening, or yarn. In an ideal world, she'd be reading and knitting while something from the garden is in the oven. Then again, in an ideal world, she'd have a flock of ducks and a couple of goats.

Like most slightly-nosy, avid readers, Elizabeth can't resist trying to catch a peek at books she sees people reading when out in public to see if she can figure out what it is. While doing just that one day, she realized that it would probably be the coolest-thing-ever if she caught a complete stranger reading one of her books. That's her new dream.

Connect with Elizabeth:

Teaser Tuesday (26): The Fiery Heart

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read    
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
THE FIERY HEART by Richelle Mead
Bloodlines #4
Publication date: November 19, 2013
I've just started this but I'm already excited about the dual POV! I love this series!
The Fiery Heart (Bloodlines, #4)
Teaser from page 74:

A shy look appeared in her eyes. "Oh, I don't know. I bet I could totally tell you something you never saw coming."

"You're welcome to try."

"If I surprise you, will you not do the dream?"

"Let's hear what you've got."

Book Blurb:

In The Indigo Spell, Sydney was torn between the Alchemist way of life and what her heart and gut were telling her to do. And in one breathtaking moment that Richelle Mead fans will never forget, she made a decision that shocked even her. . . .

But the struggle isn't over for Sydney. As she navigates the aftermath of her life-changing decision, she still finds herself pulled in too many directions at once. Her sister Zoe has arrived, and while Sydney longs to grow closer to her, there's still so much she must keep secret. Working with Marcus has changed the way she views the Alchemists, and Sydney must tread a careful path as she harnesses her profound magical ability to undermine the way of life she was raised to defend. Consumed by passion and vengeance, Sydney struggles to keep her secret life under wraps as the threat of exposure—and re-education—looms larger than ever.

Pulses will race throughout this thrilling fourth installment in the New York Times bestselling Bloodlines series, where no secret is safe.


Monday, November 25, 2013

Novella Review & Tour: The Christmas Wish

Click to follow the Tour
The Christmas Wish (Heart of Montana, 1.5)
The Christmas Wish by Katy Regnery
(Heart of Montana #1.5)
October 27, 2013
Boroughs Publishing Group
44 pages (novella)
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Source: eARC for Honest review
Book Blurb:
Waitress Tess Branson has earned a bad reputation, and the nickname “Fast Tessie,” as result of her poor judgment where men are concerned. She learned from a young age that men – of all ages – were only interested in one thing, which has made Tess distrustful even though she yearns for love.

Lucas Flynn, the short order cook at the restaurant where Tess works, has just been released on parole. After committing a terrible crime and losing someone he loved, he’s trying to get his life back on track. The last thing he needs is to get tangled up with a kind, pretty waitress who has problems of her own.

Tess makes a wish on a star one wintry night, but it's going to take a heap of Christmas magic to help it come true!
The Christmas Wish is a novella and can be read as a standalone.  
My Review:

This is a sweet little Christmas novella that is part of a series but can easily be read as a standalone. The main characters from the previous novel are very subtly mentioned but without spoilers. If anything, if you enjoy this novella, it will make you want to read the first book, By Proxy, which I loved.

As for The Christmas Wish, this is a sweet story of two people whom society looks down on, but they themselves are so full of hope and warmth, that it is no wonder they are brought together. Tess, the resident "easy" girl in town, who doesn't know what it is to be loved, but in spite of her reputation, Lucas cannot help but see her heart behind the rumors. And Lucas, our "ugly" ex-con, who is a protector of women at heart and a kind and gentle soul, who is looking for a second chance. 

I loved the way that Regnery brought these two characters together, and in the brevity of a novella, was able to develop their characters to a satisfying and endearing end. They felt like well fleshed-out people and I could fully imagine them in my head and grasp their story in my heart. I completely bought into their story and budding relationship. I hope they make a guest appearance in her future books, because they are just so sweet together.

I've already read The Christmas Wish twice, and I can say both times I felt swept into the story and was smiling fondly about the beauty of finding love in any circumstance. If you are looking for a sweet holiday read, with characters that have their own depths, then look no further.


About the Author:

KATY REGNERY, winner of the 2013 NECRWA First Kiss and 2013 Maine RWA Everything But the Kitchen Sink contests, has always loved telling a good story and credits her mother with making funny, heartwarming tales come alive throughout her childhood. A lifelong devotee of all romance writing from Edwardian to present-day, it was just a matter of time before Katy tried her hand at writing a love story of her own.

As it turned out, one love story turned into a series of five Heart of Montana romances, following the love lives of the Yellowstone-based Lindstrom siblings. In addition to small-town contemporary romance, Katy is presently writing a paranormal romance that takes place in northern New England and the forests north of Quebec.

Speaking of forests, Katy lives in the relative-wilds of northern Fairfield County, Connecticut where her writing room looks out at the woods and her husband, two young children and two dogs create just enough cheerful chaos to remind her that the very best love stories of all are the messy and unexpected ones.

Connect with the Author:

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Stacking the Shelves (34) & Weekly Wrap-Up

Two Week Wrap-Up

GIVEAWAY going on:
November New Release Giveaway (click here)

What I Read/Finished:
Sentinel by Jennifer L. Armentrout (finished)
Exclusively Yours by Shannon Stacey
Crash Into You by Katie McGarry
Danio's Prelude by Elizabeth Kirke
Smash Into You by Shelly Crane
Torch by Cambria Hebert
The Law of Attraction by N.M. Silber
The Home Court Advantage by N.M. Silber
For Real by Chelsea M. Cameron (started)
What I'm Listening To:
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Reviews I Posted:
Ender's Shadow by Orson Scott Card (my review)
Reality Boy by A.S. King (my review)
Exclusively Yours by Shannon Stacey (my review)
Sentinel by Jennifer L. Armentrout (my review)
Crash Into You by Katie McGarry (my review)
Smash Into You by Shelly Crane (my review)
What I Attended:
Alexander McCall Smith book signing with my mom
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!

Bold Tricks (The Artists Trilogy, #3) Danio's Prelude (More than Magic,#0.5)
Bold Tricks by Karina Halle (signed galley)
Danio's Prelude by Elizabeth Kirke (ebook)
Book Purchases:
 The Fiery Heart (Bloodlines, #4) World After (Penryn & the End of Days, #2)
The Fiery Heart by Richelle Mead
World After by Susan Ee

Kindle Purchases:
The Law of Attraction  (Lawyers in Love, #1) The Home Court Advantage (Lawyers in Love, #2) Eversea (Eversea, #1)
The Law of Attraction by N.M. Silber
The Home Court Advantage by N.M. Silber
Eversea by Natasha Boyd

eARC for Review:
Vengeance by Megan Miranda
Used Book Score:
Rise (Eve, #3) 
Rise by Anna Carey


Friday, November 22, 2013

Book Review: Smash Into You

Smash Into You
Smash Into You by Shelly Crane
August 13, 2013
324 pages
Genre: New Adult
Source: Personal purchase
Book Blurb:
Jude has spent the whole twenty one years of his life running. From what, he wasn't quite sure. His mother tried to keep him safe; a low profile, a constant move on the horizon, a week's pay always stashed away. She tried to instill in him that he was special somehow, though would never elaborate. He never felt different. He was so completely normal and vanilla that he wondered if it had all been in her head. But then she was murdered and all he saw was a running silhouette of a man as his mother said three final words to him. Three words that changed his whole being.

Never stop running…

Now he's semi-settled into a big town. The college is huge and easy to blend into. It's been three months since he had to move because 'Biloxi', as he calls the man who killed his mother, found him once more.

Then Marley, an eighteen year old girl who is as infuriating as she is blissfully ignorant of her gorgeousness, smashes into his car with hers. Then smashes into his life as he realizes that whatever it is he has that Biloxi wants, she has it, too. And now, they're after them both
My Review:

I am a huge fan of Shelly Crane. The Significance series is one of my favorites. If you are familiar with Shelly's work, then you know she tends toward clean romances, and that is perfectly fine with me. She has a great way of developing sweet relationships, while also not neglecting their physical attraction to each other, but keeping it respectful.

As for Smash Into You, this is a standalone and written from Jude's POV. Jude and Marley are intriguing characters, both outsiders growing up either on-the-run or from home-to-home. The way then come together in this story is really well played, and I enjoyed watching their relationship develop, and especially how Jude grew as a person. They have some very sweet moments, some touching moments, work well together, borderlined on cheesy at times, but were still an entertaining couple to read about.

Along with the relationship is the mystery aspect of who Jude is running from and what the big secret is. For some reason, the way the story developed, the secrets and mysteries, and the eventual discovery and quick resolution, just didn't completely work for me. There were too many times I thought things went a little easier than I thought they should. I think it may have worked better for me as an expanded series, going into more depth. I liked the concept and understood where things were going, but there was just something missing.

This was a fun, sweet, quick read. I liked the eventual outcome, the ending, and the epilogue. This wasn't my favorite Shelly Crane novel, but it was still enjoyable.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Book Review: Crash Into You

Crash into You (Pushing the Limits, #3)
Crash Into You by Katie McGarry
(Pushing the Limits #3)
November 26, 2013
Harlequin Teen
474 pages
Genre: Mature Young Adult
Source: eARC from publisher for Honest review
(I also pre-ordered a hardcopy for myself.)
Book Blurb:
The girl with straight As, designer clothes and the perfect life-that's who people expect Rachel Young to be. So the private-school junior keeps secrets from her wealthy parents and overbearing brothers...and she's just added two more to the list. One involves racing strangers down dark country roads in her Mustang GT. The other? Seventeen-year-old Isaiah Walker-a guy she has no business even talking to. But when the foster kid with the tattoos and intense gray eyes comes to her rescue, she can't get him out of her mind.

Isaiah has secrets, too. About where he lives, and how he really feels about Rachel. The last thing he needs is to get tangled up with a rich girl who wants to slum it on the south side for kicks-no matter how angelic she might look.

But when their shared love of street racing puts both their lives in jeopardy, they have six weeks to come up with a way out. Six weeks to discover just how far they'll go to save each other.

My Review:

Crash Into You is Isaiah's story, and if you aren't familiar with Isaiah from Pushing the Limits and Dare You To, then you'll get to know him here. McGarry does a good job of getting the familiar reader caught up with what we knew about Isaiah from the previous books, or getting the new reader up-to-date on who Isaiah is. You don't have to have read the previous books to read Crash Into You. I think it can be read as a standalone. Though you will meet some characters from the previous books, the hints toward their previous stories are vague and not overly spoilery, so that may just make you want to pick up those other books afterwards.

Not only is this my favorite cover of the series, but the story is also right up there with Noah and Echo's book, or maybe Isaiah is my favorite. What draws me into Katie McGarry's books is not only her writing skills, but the incredible characters she creates. I fell in love with Noah and Echo and was completely pulled into their story. I didn't fall in love with Beth, though I did like Ryan, so their story didn't completely win me over. But once again, Katie has struck gold with me with Isaiah and Rachel. I already liked Isaiah from the previous books, but we never fully got to know him, so I was really looking forward to getting to know him better this time around. Isaiah and Rachel's story did not disappoint. There is a certain beauty to their relationship, that two people seemingly from different worlds can completely bring out the best and true self in each other. They are both completely likeable both separate and together, their uniquenesses coinciding brilliantly. Swoon Isaiah! And I loved the interweaving of the love of cars and driving fast.

Yes, some of their circumstances got a little outrageous, and it really felt like all obstacles were against them, but their characters continued to shine through, and their relationship developed on a mature level. This wasn't just some lust-filled novel where the characters fell for each other physically. Yes, they were attracted to each other and have chemistry. But they bonded at an emotional level, and with that bond and its ensuing vulnerability, they were also forced to grow as individuals and help each other in ways they hadn't anticipated. On a side note, I must also say I like how McGarry involves adults in her stories, both good and bad and somewhere in-between, but they always have a certain relevance, which is just like real life.

We also get to revisit with friends from previous books as well as make some new friends. One particular minor character from before comes into play in this story, and I was so happy that he did! I'm still hoping Katie will give him his own book or novella some day. We are also introduced to the main male character in the next planned novel, Take Me On, and I can already tell it's going to be a another wild ride.


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (21): Unhinged

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.
I'm a huge Alice in Wonderland and really enjoyed Splintered (my review). So when I found out it would have a sequel, I got really excited. And the cover is gorgeous. Can't wait to get this beauty in my hands!
(Splintered #2)
By A.G. Howard
Expected Publication Date: January 7, 2014
Unhinged (Splintered, #2)
Book Blurb:
Alyssa Gardner has been down the rabbit hole and faced the bandersnatch. She saved the life of Jeb, the guy she loves, and escaped the machinations of the disturbingly seductive Morpheus and the vindictive Queen Red. Now all she has to do is graduate high school and make it through prom so she can attend the prestigious art school in London she's always dreamed of.

That would be easier without her mother, freshly released from an asylum, acting overly protective and suspicious. And it would be much simpler if the mysterious Morpheus didn’t show up for school one day to tempt her with another dangerous quest in the dark, challenging Wonderland—where she (partly) belongs.

As prom and graduation creep closer, Alyssa juggles Morpheus’s unsettling presence in her real world with trying to tell Jeb the truth about a past he’s forgotten. Glimpses of Wonderland start to bleed through her art and into her world in very disturbing ways, and Morpheus warns that Queen Red won’t be far behind.

If Alyssa stays in the human realm, she could endanger Jeb, her parents, and everyone she loves. But if she steps through the rabbit hole again, she'll face a deadly battle that could cost more than just her head

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Book Review & Giveaway: Sentinel

Sentinel (Covenant, #5)
Sentinel by Jennifer L. Armentrout
(Covenant #5)
November 2, 2013
Spencer Hill Press
297 pages
Genre: Mature Young Adult/New Adult Paranormal
(contains mature language, sex)
Source: Personal purchase
Book Blurb:
It's a beautiful day for a war.

As the mortal world slowly slips into chaos of the godly kind, Alexandria Andros must overcome a stunning defeat that has left her shaken and in doubt of their ability to end this war once and for all.

And with all the obstacles between Alex and her happily-ever-after with the swoonworthy Aiden St. Delphi, they must now trust a deadly foe as they travel deep into the Underworld to release one of the most dangerous gods of all time.

In the stunning, action-packed climax to the bestselling Covenant series, Alex must face a terrible choice: the destruction of everything and everyone she holds dear… or the end of herself.
My Review:

Sentinel is the final installment of the Covenant series, and it picks up right where Apollyon left off. While I liked Apollyon, it was my least favorite book of the series. I've also recently finished a couple of other series and was underwhelmed by how they ended. So going into Sentinel, I was a bit nervous that my hopes and expectations would be disappointed, especially since this is the first time I'm able to see how Armentrout ends a series. Fortunately, my fears were for not. I loved this book and it confirmed why I love this entire series.

To be spoiler-free, I will be vague in my review. But if you have been a fan of this series, you know what to expect. We get our snarky, witty banter. Humor appears alongside our more serious moments, giving the complete spectrum of emotion. We get the beautiful love between Aiden and Alex. The strength of Alex and Aiden's love was clear and apparent, never in question or jeopardy. Gotta love Aiden! We are revisited by some previous characters and are even introduced to a few new ones. And yes, we get more Seth! The action continually progressed without any of those dull dragging moments. With the plot progression, we continue on the road of twists and turns, with many unexpected moments that left me guessing until the end. There are strong themes of forgiveness, redemption, sacrifice, honor, duty, friendship, and love.

My only complaint: This could have used one more go through with editing. The great thing about Armentrout is that she can write a fantastic novel and write it quickly, which means these books get to the readers' hands more quickly, making us very happy. However, both she and her editor should be a bit more cautious before hitting the publish button.

Bottomline: The Covenant series is one of my favorite series, and Sentinel did not disappoint. This ended perfectly for me and left me guessing and wondering until the end. If you like captivating characters, action-packed adventure, snarky and witty dialogue, and twists and turns that leave you excited for more, than I highly recommend this series.



Enter to win a copy of SENTINEL!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Book Review: Exclusively Yours

Exclusively Yours
Exclusively Yours by Shannon Stacey
(Kowalski Family #1)
January 1, 2012
Carina Press
322 pages
Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance
(contains mature language, sexual situations)
Source: Personal ebook purchase
Book Blurb:
When Keri Daniels’ editor finds out she has previous carnal knowledge of reclusive bestselling author Joe Kowalski, she gives Keri a choice: get an interview or get a new job.

Joe’s never forgotten the first girl to break his heart, so he’s intrigued to hear Keri’s back in town—and looking for him. Despite his intense need for privacy, he’ll grant Keri an interview if it means a chance to finish what they started in high school.

He proposes an outrageous plan—for every day she survives with his family on their annual camping and four-wheeling trip, Keri can ask one question. Keri agrees; she’s worked too hard to walk away from her career. 
But the chemistry between them is still as potent as the bug spray, Joe’s sister is out to avenge his broken heart and Keri hasn’t ridden an ATV since she was ten. Who knew a little blackmail, a whole lot of family and some sizzling romantic interludes could make Keri reconsider the old dream of Keri & Joe 2gether 4ever.

My Review:

I love a good second chance romance book, and Joe and Keri's relationship in particular was quite refreshing. The high school sweethearts haven't seen each other in 18 years, and each eventually moved on with their lives more or less. While the reflections of high school memories are still strong, they are fully functioning (yet still single) adults and at this point in their lives are not holding grudges or pining over lost love. Hence, when Keri's boss forces them to see each other again after all this time, the cogs in their heads start turning and feelings start budding unintentionally. But the beauty of this new development between them was the absence of insufferable angst and drama, and instead a focus on real life situations, dealt with using a combination of humor and seriousness.

I really loved that this book had an entire cast of characters to get to know. Though it was centered on Joe and Keri, there were other minor storylines running concurrently within the Kowalski family, and I think that added such a nice depth and layers to this group of people. Because, if I'm being honest, I was not endeared to Keri for at least the first half of the book (I'm from Los Angeles, so I don't have the highest opinion of her field of work), so following along with everyone else actually helped me. If this story had just been about Joe and Keri only, I don't think I would have enjoyed it as much. But because I cared about all the stories going on, not just Joe's, I felt really drawn into the story, giving me time to befriend Keri as well.

With all that said, I really appreciated how things developed through the story, and the progression of things really captivated me. Joe and Keri's reactions and feelings felt real, from the humor and banter, the renewed camaraderie, the sexual tension, and the fears and regrets. I loved all of it. I loved Joe, who would crack me up one moment, then have me sighing along with him about his hopes and dreams. And eventually I came to like Keri and was very thankful the author finally revealed more of why Keri was the way she was.

Once again, I also loved the secondary characters in this story. Even when I wanted to smack Terry out of her stubbornness, I could still empathize with her situation. Each couple or family member had their own relationship predicaments, and the thing was that they were all so relatable. The brothers were awesome, Joe's parents were solid, and the nephews were adorable (having three sons myself, I couldn't help but love those guys).

If you like a nice romance with a second chance at love, wrapped up in a family who have their own problems but stick together, support each other, work things out, and can be a pretty funny along the way - then you should give Exclusively Yours a read. This is also the first in the Kowalski Family series, and I look forward to reading many more adventures with the Kowalskis.

Thursday, November 14, 2013


November Hop

I love a good sequel, don't you?!
Enter to win one of the following new November releases!
Kindle option - International
Paperback/Hardcover option - US only
Sentinel (Covenant, #5)  Crash into You (Pushing the Limits, #3)
Champion (Legend, #3)  The Fiery Heart (Bloodlines, #4)
World After (Penryn & the End of Days, #2)  Afterglow (Wildefire, #3)

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Follow the rest of the hop:

Book Review: Reality Boy

Reality Boy
Reality Boy by A.S. King
October 22, 2013
Little, Brown Books
368 pages
Genre: Mature Young Adult
(contains sexual references, mature language)
Source: eARC from publisher for Honest review
Book Blurb:

Gerald Faust knows exactly when he started feeling angry: the day his mother invited a reality television crew into his five-year-old life. Twelve years later, he’s still haunted by his rage-filled youth—which the entire world got to watch from every imaginable angle—and his anger issues have resulted in violent outbursts, zero friends, and clueless adults dumping him in the special education room at school.

Nothing is ever going to change. No one cares that he’s tried to learn to control himself, and the girl he likes has no idea who he really is. Everyone’s just waiting for him to snap…and he’s starting to feel dangerously close to doing just that.

In this fearless portrayal of a boy on the edge, highly acclaimed Printz Honor author A.S. King explores the desperate reality of a former child “star” who finally breaks free of his anger by creating possibilities he never knew he deserved.

My Review:

Reality Boy was so much more than I was expecting. I don't know what I was expecting, but this wasn't it. Delving into Gerald's life, present and past, was fascinating and horrifying at the same time. Like the concept of Reality TV, watching Gerald's life is like watching a car accident unfold before your eyes. You can't stop looking, even when the carnage is revealed. It's terrible and tragic and you are just hoping everyone will survive the fallout.

A.S. King does a tremendous job looking beyond the surface and the camera editing and sees into the heart and soul of Gerald, and Hannah, and anyone else's life behind closed doors. Ignoring things does not make them go away, and frequently it just makes things worse. And amidst the evil, for lack of a better word, there is also hope. With every terrible character, there is a person with a flicker of hope, wanting something better and wishing that for another. And I love that Gerald gives me hope, beyond him just trying to stay out of jail. There is hope in this story, but there is a tough fight to get there, and I loved the journey. (Also, the world can always use more Hockey ladies.)

And what a cast of characters we have. We are primarily looking at Gerald. And I loved Gerald. I wanted to hug him and steal him away and raise him with my three sons. Watching him go through his revelations was heart-breaking, yet he was so strong in character and I admired him for it. Gerald's messed up family plays a key role in his life and we get plenty of insight into how screwed up they are and why they do, and have done, the things they do. And while this is a work of fiction, there is truth in the inter-weavings of the story. There is truth that not only is there is so much behind the scenes of Reality TV, but there is so much beyond the "reality" of what people show in their daily lives.

This is not only a reflection on childhood, but also on parenthood. On doing the right thing. On choosing something uncomfortable because it is the right thing to do. On protecting the little guy. On not being blind to the truth and seeing what's really there and not just what you want. On taking responsibility and not just waiting around. There is truth that the way we parent, or don't parent, affects our children negatively or positively. I've witnessed these things, as I'm sure we all have. And I liked how the author addressed this.

This is my first A.S. King novel, but it certainly won't be my last.
4-1/2 STARS

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (20): The Unbound

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

I really enjoyed The Archived (my review), finding both the characters, the storyline, and the alternative world Schwab created really fascinating. The ending definitely left me curious to see where things would go next.

The Unbound by Victoria Schwab
The Archived: Book 2
Expected publication date: January 28, 2014

The Unbound (The Archived, #2)

Book Blurb:
Imagine a place where the dead rest on shelves like books. Each body has a story to tell, a life seen in pictures that only Librarians can read. The dead are called Histories, and the vast realm in which they rest is the Archive.

Last summer, Mackenzie Bishop, a Keeper tasked with stopping violent Histories from escaping the Archive, almost lost her life to one. Now, as she starts her junior year at Hyde School, she's struggling to get her life back. But moving on isn't easy -- not when her dreams are haunted by what happened. She knows the past is past, knows it cannot hurt her, but it feels so real, and when her nightmares begin to creep into her waking hours, she starts to wonder if she's really safe.

Meanwhile, people are vanishing without a trace, and the only thing they seem to have in common is Mackenzie. She's sure the Archive knows more than they are letting on, but before she can prove it, she becomes the prime suspect. And unless Mac can track down the real culprit, she'll lose everything, not only her role as Keeper, but her memories, and even her life. Can Mackenzie untangle the mystery before she herself unravels?

With stunning prose and a captivating mixture of action, romance, and horror, The Unbound delves into a richly imagined world where no choice is easy and love and loss feel like two sides of the same coin.