Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Him by Cecilia Scott

by Cecilia Scott

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Published by: HarperCollins on May 29, 2014
Genres: Erotica
Source: ARC from Publisher
Rating: 2 Stars

NOTICE: I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

She’d met him at a chance encounter in an upscale bar in downtown Los Angeles. And then she’d did what many women do: she took a short cut to love. Before long she is lost in a haze of passion and desire and longing. Rarely are their trysts planned, but this much she knew: he owned her life. She had long given up her rights to it. And with his possession of her life, she had lost her self.

I was looking for a light, fun romp and what I got was more obsession than lust. When the obsession became stalker-quality, I stopped reading. Maybe the fact that I was stalked by someone in the past ruined this for me, but I don't think the book blurb portrayed what this book was truly about: mental illness gone awry. I kept waiting for the bunny on the stove, honestly.

Then there was the fact that the characters were named Him, Her and The Boy. That can work if done properly, but it made the whole book seem eerier by using this technique.

If you're looking for light, erotic fun, don't read this book. If you're looking for a stalker-ish obsession masquerading as love/lust, you might like it.

Ballerina by Edward Stewart

by Edward Stewart

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Published by: Open Road Integrated Media Publishing on May 20, 2014
Genres: Women's Fiction, the Ballet world
Source: ARC from Publisher
Rating: 4 Stars

NOTICE: I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

As a former dancer, I simply had to read this when I saw it was coming out! I love books on dance, gymnastics - anything artsy - and this book was no exception!

Former failed professional dancer Anna has passed on her talent for ballet to daughter Stephanie. Since she didn't get to live her life as the prima ballerina she so wanted to be, she becomes a dance mom, pushing Stephanie to make Anna's own dream come true. Sometimes in the book it's questionable whether Stephanie got into ballet because she loves it or because Anna pushed it on her. Either way, it was not the "typical" dance mom/daughter story that I thought it would be. Don't judge this book by all ballet novels that have come before it or since - you will be shocked at the twists and turns.

At the beginning of the story, poor Stephanie and a rich girl named Chris (whose technique is nowhere near Stephanie's, but a dancer who has a noticeable special quality) make it into an elite ballet training program. Although Chris's parents have the money to send her there, they worry that a medical condition she has will make it hard for her to be away from home and still take care of herself. Anna, Stephanie's mom, doesn't have the money to pay for her daughter's entry into the school. Anna kills two birds with one stone by agreeing to be Chris's surrogate mother while the girls are in ballet school in return for a stipend from Chris's parents. Both girls are now able to attend and further their training.

The underlying theme, besides ballet, is friendship. Take hormones + ballet + men + naivete and stir them all up. What do you get? Ballerina by Edward Stewart

This book was originally written and published in the 70's and although re-released, has not been updated. This aspect of the novel didn't bother. I found the 70's touches like paying a dime to use a payphone fun. Others might be bothered by the lack of updates.

My only gripe with this book is that it was long and a lot of the description could've been edited out. I wish the pace had been a bit quicker and flowed a bit better. Despite that, I would recommend this to any dance fiend such as myself.

The Right Thing by Amy Conner

The Right Thing
by Amy Conner

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Published by: Kensington on May 27, 2014
Genres: Women's Lit, Friendship
Source: ARC from Publisher
Rating: 4.5 Stars

NOTICE: I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

On a scorching August day in 1963, seven-year-old Annie Banks meets the girl who will become her best friend. Skinny, outspoken Starr Dukes and her wandering preacher father may not be accepted by polite society in Jackson, Mississippi, but Starr quickly becomes Annie's best friend. Then, as suddenly as she appeared in Annie's life, Starr disappears.

Twenty-seven years later, Annie runs into a pregnant Starr, the same Starr who's once again stirring up trouble in Jackson, Mississippi. When Starr needs a favor, Annie risks her social status again to help her best friend. But is Starr still the same fly-by-night spirit that she was as a child? Will Annie be hurt again?

If you read last week's Top Ten Tuesday, you'll know that I adore books about female friendships, and Amy Conner's The Right Thing has moved right toward the top of the list of my favorites!

It's rare in most books today that not only does the plot have a fluid arc til the end, but each character has an arc as well. Annie, Starr and even Annie's mother have changed from the beginning of the book to the end. More importantly, you can ascertain why Starr finds running away at any given moment a normal decision: she learned that from years of her father moving them in the night to a new town. We see from the very beginning that Annie has never quite fit into polite society the way her mother seems to, and we see her transition from awkward poser to comfortable in her own skin by the end. Annie and her mother also connect on a more profound level near the end of the book when her mother lets Annie, and the reader, into how she went from poor "lint-mill" girl to high society wife of a pediatrician. She is really no different than Annie herself.

This book, with Southern charm and engaging women, will surely call to any person that loves true friendship stories like I do. Do not hesitate to pick this book up today! In fact, today is the release! Go get it!

Top Ten Tuesdays: Books About Friends Turned Lovers

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Top Ten Eleven Books About Friends Turned Lovers

I'm always a sucker for a good friendship that turns into more. These aren't necessarily "new" books, but they might be cheaper to buy since they've been around for awhile. :)

In comments, please suggest another book for me to read that's NOT already on this list! I'd love to read a new one!

1. Lucy Sullivan Is Getting Married by Marian Keyes - When a psychic tells Lucy she'll be married by the end of the year, Lucy sets out to find her groom. He may be closer than she thinks . . .

2. Just Friends by Robyn Sisman - Freya's sister has nabbed the most eligible bachelor of the century and Freya needs a date. It wouldn't hurt to bring her gorgeous friend, Jack, along would it?

3. Love, Rosie by Cecelia Ahern - Childhood friends, Rosie & Alex, are separated as teenagers, but continue to correspond into adulthood through letters and emails. A book about missed opportunities finally becomes a book about love at the end.

4. Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin - Rachel & Darcy have been BFFs forever. Darcy is getting ready to marry Dex, the law school friend Rachel introduced her to. But something happens on the night of Rachel's 30th birthday party that will change the lives of all 3.

5. That Boy by Jillian Dodd - JJ (female) grows up playing football with neighbors Phillip and Danny while other girls her age are playing dolls. They're 3 peas in a pod, each of them bringing a unique personality into the mix. The book shows their friendship from grade school through college with a high emphasis on friendship, not romance. JJ does end up with one of the guys by the end of the book, but it isn't clear until the very last minute who "That Boy" is. My review for this series will be up in a day or two, so check back for that!

6. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins - A story beloved by everyone out in the book blogosphere. Although I loved Anna and I loved Etienne, I did get annoyed with him. He seemed to whine a lot and run scared back to his ex anytime he and Anna were about to take their friendship to the next level. Not sure if any other readers felt this way, but I just thought there was maybe 1 or 2 many times he acted wimpily. Despite that, there's is a good friendship to more story.

7. Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins - Lola grew up next door to the Bell twins, Cricket and Calliope. After developing feelings for Cricket, Lola is upset to discover the family moved out without saying goodbye and is gone for two years before popping up again unexpectedly. By this point, Lola is with boyfriend Max but befriends Cricket again like no time has passed. Will Lola stay with Max or follow her heart to Cricket? Anna and Etienne are in this book too. :)

8. Emma by Jane Austen - Emma and Mr. Knightley. Need I say much more? Mr. Knightley is one of my favorite male Austen characters. I like his personality more than Mr. Darcy (he's nicer, people) although I love the tension between Elizabeth and Darcy more than Emma. Anyway, LOVE how these two have been lifetime friends who suddenly turn into something more, although I suspect Knightley's been waiting for Emma to grow up and see just how much he truly loves her.

9. I See London by Chanel Cleeton - LOVE LOVE LOVE this book and can't wait for the July follow-up London Falling. I loved this more than Anna & the French Kiss! If you read it, I think you'll see why. Maggie and Samir. Fast friends at London University, but always something more. LOVE LOVE LOVE. SWOON SWOON SWOON. Okay. Shutting up.

10. Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen - Juli Baker loves Bryce Loski since the moment her young eyes clapped on him in 2nd grade. She basically stalks him for years until he can't stand her. But, when Juli's attention turns in another direction, Bryce suddenly misses Juli. How is he going to rectify the situation? The story switches between both narrators, and although rectified for ages 10-14, it's a classic for any age.

11. Love, Rosie by Cecelia Ahern - Rosie and Alex, best friends since childhood, keep in touch by writing emails and letters to one another when each goes off to college. As they read about each others' lives, including romance, they maintain a unique friendship throughout. But what happens when fate finally brings them together, face to face?

Monday, May 19, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Friendship Books

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Top Ten Books About Friendship

1. Summer Sisters by Judy Blume - To me, this is the quintessential book on friends. Vi and Caitlin have a loving, yet complicated relationship spanning years. I can read this book again and again.

2. The Book of Bright Ideas: A Novel by Sandra Kring - Another set of unlikely friends, Button & Winnalee, that spend a summer learning what it means to grow up. This is actually one of my absolute favorite books of all times.

3. A Life of Bright Ideas: A Novel by Sandra Kring - The sequel to #2 on my list. Years later, Winnalee suddenly appears in town, bringing with her a new whirlwind of excitement and mystery.

4. Emma by Jane Austen - Oh Emma Woodhouse, you meddling kid! She loves her friends dearly - wanting to match them up with one another for life - but her schemes, as usual, end up backfiring on her.

5. Before I Die by Jenny Downham - Although she grows closer to her best friend and new boyfriend in the book, my favorite part is the friendship between Tessa and her father. No one loves her more than him.

6. My Sister's Keeper: A Novel by Jodi Picoult - The friendship here is between two sisters, Kate who is dying of cancer and Anna who was conceived to save Kate's life. The true friendship here, although it isn't expressed a lot in the book, is between the sisters. As we find out in the end, their friendship is deeper than anyone knows - deeper than life and death. It's about the sacrifices we are willing to make for those we love.

7. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky - If you haven't read this yet and are worried that the storyline won't live up to the hype surrounding it, pick it up anyway. You'll not only find true friendship, but beautiful prose as well.

8. The Bitches of Brooklyn by Rosemary Harris - Sex in the City meets Pretty Little Liars. You'll laugh out loud, share secrets and even solve a mystery in this book. The premise: How well do you know your friends?

9. A Time for Dancing by Davida Wills Hurwin - This one hits me close to home because my own bestie has had cancer twice. It's the story of Sam and Jules who grow up taking dance lessons together. Their plans for the future after high school come to a halt when Jules is diagnosed with cancer and the friends must face the possibility of her death. There's also a movie version that I love too.

10. The Notebook Girls by Julia Baskin, Lindsey Newman, Sophie Pollitt-Cohen, and Courtney Toombs - This is a real notebook kept by real teens during their 4 years of high school. There's a lot of drinking and pot use inside, but there is also a lot of friendship and growth and change.

Have YOU read any of these and what did you think of it?

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Bitches of Brooklyn by Rosemary Harris

The Bitches of Brooklyn
by Rosemary Harris

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Published by: Chestnut Hill Books on November 16, 2013
Genres: Women's Lit, Friendship, Humor and Mystery
Source: ARC from Publisher
Rating: 4 Stars

NOTICE: I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Are they really bitches? That depends who you ask...four friends await the arrival of a fifth at a secluded Cape Cod bungalow where they spend an all-girls weekend every summer. But this year the fifth woman doesn't show. Instead she sends a note that reads - "I've run off with one of your men."

Has she? Is it a prank? Do they run for the phone or try to enjoy the weekend without her? Fun, flirty and filled with Harris' trademark snappy dialogue and quirky characters are forced to reevaluate their marriages, their friendships and their memories.

To sum it up? The Bitches of Brooklyn is "a cross between Pretty Little Liars and Sex in the City," as suggested by the publishers. As a PLL fan, I kept wondering if Abby was the adult version of Alison or if there was more to the story . . .

The "Brooklyn Bitches", as they refer to themselves, have been friends forever. Rachel, Tina, Clare and Jane grew up together and worldly Abby moved to town while in high school, adding spice to the group. While they weren't as close to Abby as they were to each other, the four always considered Abby one of them and thought they knew everything about her. They were about to find out that they might be wrong.

The Bitches plan a yearly weekend getaway on Cape Cod. This year, instead of showing up, Abby sends a gift basket to her friends with a cryptic note: "I've run off with one of your men." This sparks an entire weekend and week to follow of sifting through their relationships with their men, wondering if one of them is truly off with Abby or if Abby meant something else entirely. The mystery continues throughout the entire book until the very end. The truth was only a slight let-down, but a definite plot twist that I never saw coming.

This book truly was laugh-out-loud at times like so many other books profess (but fail) to be. I literally found myself cracking up when reading this despite the curious stares from the other diners in the room with me(I like to eat and read by myself at restaurants). From recounting past sexual experiences, to jobs, to everything under the sun, the Bitches kept me laughing. So did Rosemary Harris.

My only criticism of the book was that it was kind of hard to keep up with and differentiate between the four main characters. While Tina and Clare had very obvious characteristics, Rachel and Jane kind of morphed into the background and probably could've been re-written into one character. It was just a bit hard trying to juggle all four of them at the same time.

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Wanted to Put Down But Didn't / or DID Put Down

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I can't remember 10 of them. There have been a lot of books I've given up on over the years too . . .

Books I Left at the Alter:

1. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer - Read about 1 chapter and couldn't stomach the juvenile, horrid writing. Didn't even consider watching the movie once I saw Kristen Stewart's brand of open-mouthed acting.

2. Bloodlines by Richelle Mead - LOVED Adrian and liked Sydney, but the writing, plot, and other characters were horrible.

3. The 10th Circle by Jodi Picoult - I loved My Sister's Keeper, The Pact and a couple of others, but Jodi lost me with this one. Yes, she's innovative in her ideas and but the whole "female character accidentally drinks a beverage with date rape drugs in it then has sex with male character who thinks it's consensual and drama ensues" wasn't plausible to me. This book was exactly why I don't watch Law & Order: SVU. Nothing on there is plausible. Maybe it's b/c I'm a rape survivor. I don't know. Kudos if you finished it and liked it.

Books I Took on the Honeymoon:

1. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson - This book should come with a big red TRIGGER warning on the front (and in the blurb). For those of us who've been sexually assaulted, any book that sneaks in that subject is hard to take at times, but a book like this blows it out of the water. There are TONS of instances of sexual abuse in this book. It was hard for me to read, but I'm glad I got through it, because overall, I really enjoyed the mystery and the characters. I eagerly devoured the 2 follow-up books. The abuse was only in the first book, so if you can stomach it, the series is good.

2. Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead - I wasn't super impressed by the first book, but I thought I'd give the 2nd a shot. Pretty soon, I'd read the whole thing. The ending between the leads left something to be desired, but overall, I was satisfied.

3. The Secret History by Donna Tartt - I was very intrigued by the premise of the story, although intimidated by the length of the book. When things got boring fast, I trucked on . . . and on . . . and was annoyed by the end that I did. The hanging in the woods was never solved and that's really all I wanted to find out anyway.

Monday, May 12, 2014

The Girl with All the Gifts by MR Carey

The Girl With All the Gifts
by MR Carey

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Published by: Hatchette Book Group on June 10, 2014
Genres: Dystopian, Thriller, Mystery
Source: ARC from Publisher
Rating: 4.5 Stars

NOTICE: I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Melanie is a very special girl. Dr Caldwell calls her "our little genius."

Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don't like her. She jokes that she won't bite, but they don't laugh.

Melanie loves school. She loves learning about spelling and sums and the world outside the classroom and the children's cells. She tells her favorite teacher all the things she'll do when she grows up. Melanie doesn't know why this makes Miss Justineau look sad.

Whoa! I could not put this book down! When I initially read the book blurb, I thought this would be a supernatural thriller where Melanie discovers her "powers" and changes the world - for better or worse. Melanie definitely changed the world, but not in the way I thought.

This book vacillates between the balance of the human condition and the science behind a worldwide killer virus. Will the human population become completely wiped out, or is there a "cure" for what ails everyone?

Melanie lives in a cell in a military facility several stories underground. This is the only life she's known. Melanie, better know as "Specimen One," doesn't know why she is there or who she is. There is the Sergeant who keeps order with military precision, the Dr. who examines the children, and the teacher who humanizes them. I don't want to write anything further because I don't want to spoil the plot!

The most interesting part of the whole book is that there is, indeed, a medical basis for the virus discussed in the book. It really does affect ants in the Amazon. Scary!

I wholeheartedly suggest you read this, then get back to me at once! I want to know what YOU thought of it!

My only suggestion is a title change. Something like "Pandora" or "Specimen One" would've been more appropriate.

Only With You (Jane Austen Academy) by Cecilia Gray

Only With You (Jane Austen Academy)
by Cecilia Gray

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Published by: Gray Life LLC on May 27, 2014
Genres: YA Romance, Jane Austen Re-Telling
Source: ARC from Publisher
Rating: 4.0 Stars

NOTICE: I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Emma has it all - looks, money, and luck. It's not like she keeps it all to herself - she's totally committed to helping those less fortunate. AKA, everyone. She invites her heartbroken friend to help with a weekend charity event with an eye to matchmaker, but when that friend turns her eye toward the guy Emma wants for herself, how will she choose between friendship and her own feelings?

YA + Jane Austen = SWOON! This light, fun re-telling of "Emma" is one of Cecilia Gray's 6 Jane Austen Academy books and a gem of a find.

You know Emma. She loves playing matchmaker for her friends, and her scheme for this long weekend is no different than usual. Emma convinces Anne, Josh and Knight to spend the weekend keeping her company while her parents are away - aka - Emma plans to fix Anne up with Josh and send them off into happily-ever-after-land. Emma's best friend, and sometimes harshest critic Knight, knows that this isn't going to be a good idea. Things get complicated when Anne's ex shows up for the weekend and the 5-some weave in and out Emma's romantic antics. Along the way, as we all know from the original story, Emma realizes that she's loved Knight all along, but can't find a way to tell him. It seems like Knight and Anne like each other now, and Emma would never do anything to ruin her friendships. Should she keep quiet about her feelings or take a chance on love?

I highly recommend this quick, fun read. In fact, I plan to read the previous books on the Academy as well. I hope you'll do the same!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Looking for Alex by Marion Dillon

Looking for Alex
by Marian Dillon

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Published by: Escape Publishing on June 1, 2014
Genres: Romance, Women's Fiction
Source: ARC from Publisher
Rating: 3.5 Stars

NOTICE: I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

They were supposed to be best friends…

It’s the summer of 1977. Beth and Alex did everything together. Until the day seventeen-year-old Alex ran away from home. A missing persons report has been filed, but Beth knows that there must be more to Alex’s disappearance. So she follows Alex, to punk-era London, determined to bring her best friend back home.

But the Alex she finds living in a Camden squat isn’t the same Alex. And memories of those weeks in London haunt her to this day; falling for Fitz, her first love; tasting a new kind of freedom, and the fateful day that her parents finally tracked them down and took her away.

Alex knew then that Beth had betrayed her trust, and disappeared once more, severing their friendship for good. And now, years later, it’s time for forgotten secrets to be shared once and for all. Because after all this time, Beth’s never given up on finding Alex…

As a fan of Judy Blume's Summer Sisters (by far one of my favorite books), I was looking forward to reading this book. I love books about best friends, especially when their personalities are as different as those of Alex and Beth in Looking for Alex. It leaves a lot of room for conflict and growth. I was not disappointed.

Marian Dillon is a sculptor who uses words instead of clay to build an intriguing story. Not once was the plot predictable, the characters stagnant. Even London itself and the London house where Alex found refuge were characters of their own.

The story alternates between 1977 and the present day of 2013, presenting the story of best friends Beth and Alex. I admit the I did skip past some of the 1977 portions as some scenes didn't seem as pivotal to the story or were a little too lengthy for my taste.

2013 was the crux of the novel. Beth, who's spent much of her life wondering why Alex up and left her one day without another word, decides it's time to find her friend, but nothing is easy when it comes to Alex. That includes finding her. And when Beth finally does find Alex, will she like who she sees?

I won't give any more away, because that would spoil the twists and turns. I'd definitely recommend checking this one out if you, too, like friendship books.

Hero Duty by Jenny Schwartz

Hero Duty
by Jenny Schwartz

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Published by: Escape Publishing on June 1, 2014
Genres: Romance, Women's Fiction
Source: ARC from Publisher

NOTICE: I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

She can buy anything she wants…except the courage to stand up to her family. That’s where he comes in.

Jessica Trove is a billionaire Cinderella, bullied by her family, and terrified of the responsibilities crashing down on her shoulders. She knows what she needs to do — she just needs to find the courage to do it.

That’s where Brodie Carlton comes in. Jessica is used to buying anything she wants, and what she wants right now is a hero. She’s going to make Brodie Carlton an offer he can’t refuse: be her emotional bodyguard, and she’ll make him rich. The only question is who will guard their hearts?

I feel like a bad person. I was so lost from the beginning of this book that I couldn't follow the plot. The set-up was very confusing and the meeting of the main characters super cheesy. I hate to say it, but I could not finish this book. Perhaps it's just me and you'll have a different opinion. Due to this, I'm choosing not to rate it.

Sweet Surrendering by Chelsea M Cameron

Sweet Surrendering
by Chelsea M Cameron

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Published by: All Night Reads on October 14, 2013
Genres: Romance, New Adult
Source: ARC from Publisher
Rating: 3 Stars

NOTICE: I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

She’s his boss. He doesn’t care. This office isn’t big enough for the two of them…

When Rory Clarke ends up hiring the guy she spent one steamy night with to be her administrative assistant, she's determined to keep things professional.

Lucas Blaine has other plans for her. He wants Rory, and it’s hard to resist his stunning blue eyes, chin dimple and the way he fills out a suit. Everywhere she looks, there he is, giving her a panty-melting smile and pulling her away for the most amazing (and satisfying) sex she’s ever had in her life.

What starts off as one sexual encounter turns into multiple trysts in and out of the office and the lines she’d tried to draw so carefully are blurring. But the closer they get, the more Rory realizes that there are things about Lucas she doesn’t know, things he’s hiding from her. She’ll have to decide if she can surrender to her feelings or get out while she still can.

The sex scenes were HOT, the body piercings HOTTER, and the chemistry HOTTEST of all! That said, the plot was predictable, at least to me. Perhaps I've seen too many TV shows (I watch a lot of Investigation Discovery). I can spot a poser in a second, and it was clear that's what Lucah was. Despite the obvious plot, the writing flowed well, and it was a fast read. I'd definitely recommend it to someone else, although it won't be one that I'll be re-reading.

FF: Dinner with Authors

This weekly link-up is hosted by Parajunkee & Alison Can Read!

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I'd also love it if you'd participate in my Book Blogger Buddy Meme! Let me know if you do!

Question: What living author or authors would you like to have dinner with? And because I'm me, I'm going to throw in some deceased authors too!

Dinner Guest:
Lisa Gardner hands down. LOVE every single book of hers. She writes suspense thrillers. If you like Tami Hoag, you'll love Lisa.

Authors Who've Already Passed:
1. Jane Austen
2. Dame Agatha Christie

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Turning 16 (Volume 1) by Perie Wolford & Michelle Doering

Turning 16
by Perie Wolford & Michelle Doering

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Published by: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform February 24, 2014
Source: Bought on Amazon
Rating: 5 Stars

New Gay Series to Pay Tribute to Sixteen Candles Movie and Other Awesome John Hughes Movies and Era of the 80es in General.

Sam never liked his birthdays because not a single one of them was happy... When he turned 1, he fell face-down into his birthday cake; when he turned 5, he broke his left arm and when he turned 7, he broke his right arm and his left leg; when he turned 12, his house caught fire. Now Sam is about to turn 16 and he is dreading the day. The only birthday wish he has is for Jake who is the Mr. Popular of Arcadia High to even acknowledge his existence, or better yet give him a happy-birthday kiss. But Sam knows that it's not gonna happen. Or is it?

What is NOT to like about this book? John Hughes inspiration is all over the place and this 80's girl LOVES it!

Hero Sam has bad luck with birthdays, much like Sixteen Candles' heroine Samantha. Like Samantha, this Sam is fixated on a Jake, the most popular guy at his school. His biggest birthday wish? A kiss from Jake, the fantasy guy of Sam's wet dreams.

In his quest to survive his 16th birthday, Sam enlists the support of new friend Mitch. Soon, however, Mitch begins appearing in Sam's dreams along with Jake. Then, in real life, Jake and Mitch begin fighting. Is it over Sam?

There's not a lot of depth to this book, but you don't need depth! It's a boy-meets-boy story with 80's charm that I'd definitely read over again. Luckily for me, Perie Wolford is writing a sequel that comes out in June entitled, "Turning 17." I can't wait to find out what happens next!!

Nova and Quinton: No Regrets by Jessica Sorensen

Nova & Quinton: No Regrets
by Jessica Sorensen

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Published by: Forever on April 15, 2014
Genres: Romance, Drugs, Addiction
Source: ARC from Publisher
Rating: 3.5 Stars

NOTICE: I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Today is the first day of Quinton Carter's new life. The toxic guilt of his past left him in pieces-but one girl unexpectedly put him back together. Thanks to Nova Reed, Quinton can finally see the world with clear eyes. She's the reason his heart is still kicking behind the jagged scar on his chest. And he would love to have her in his arms every minute of the day . . . but he's not ready yet.

Playing drums in a band and living with her best friends are just some of the highlights of Nova's life. But the best new development? Talking to Quinton on the phone each night. She wishes she could touch him, kiss him, though she knows he needs time to heal. Yet shocking news is on the way-a reminder of life's dark side-and Nova will need Quinton like he once needed her. Is he strong enough to take the final leap out of his broken past . . . and into Nova's heart?

In this final book in the series, I felt Quinton's struggles in my core. The flawless writing got into the nitty gritty of addiction, suicide, loss, and death - emotions/situations people deal with everyday. Jessica Sorensen makes them real, however. She brings those feelings close to home.

I also felt that I got a better look inside Nova's head in "No Regrets." She realizes that she can't save everyone - that she can't save anyone. Quinton has to save himself.

The entire series was wrought with emotion and may be too intense and "real" for some people. Although they aren't usually the type of books I gravitate towards, as I have my own issues with depression and suicidal tendencies, I read this one from start to finish. I highly recommend the series if you are okay with knowing you may be triggered along the way.

Poster Boy by Anne Tenino

Poster Boy
by Anne Tenino

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Published by: Riptide Publishing on April 21, 2014
Genres: LGBT Romance, College, Frat Boys
Source: ARC from Publisher
Rating: 3.5 Stars

NOTICE: I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

After being outed to his hockey team and then changing schools, Jock figures he’s due for something good—like the sex he missed out on in the closet. Toby, the hot grad student he meets at a frat party, seems like a great place to start, and their night together is an awesome introduction to the fine art of hooking up.

Toby’s heart takes a bruising after the near-perfect experience with Jock leads to . . . nothing. He’s been left on the outside as his friends pair up into blissful coupledom, and he’s in danger of never completing (or starting) his thesis. Can’t something go right?

Then Toby’s coerced into chaperoning a Theta Alpha Gamma trip to France. Not that he’s complaining. What better place to finish his thesis and get over that frat boy? Except Jock’s outing is leaked to the press, turning him into an unwilling gay rights martyr, and he decides France would be a great escape, too. It’s a break from reality for both guys, but they soon find their connection is as real as it gets.

This book was my first foray into LGBT fiction and I really liked it. Toby and Jock are well-defined characters with personalities that mesh well with one another. I could definitely see why they liked one another. There was just enough conflict between them due to Jock's nervousness about fully accepting the gay lifestyle and the physical aspects that come with it to propel the story forward. I would have liked a bit more conflict in the book other than the little between Jock & Toby. The only other conflict was an almost laughable French terrorism plot involving Frat boys on a Beer hunt being mistaken as terrorists by the French police. Sounds laughable right? It was. I was also a bit confused at times as to the setting of certain scenes. It wasn't always very clear, especially at the beginning of the book, where Jock and Toby were during their "scenes." I'm an actor, so I often think of book chapters in terms of scenes.

All in all, I liked Jock and Toby and was rooting for them to get together by the end. I'd definitely recommend this one! After reading it, I picked up my second LGBT novel to read!

Smoking Holt by Sabrina York

Smoking Holt
by Sabrina York

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Published by: Romance Beckons on August 5, 2013
Genres: Erotic Romance, BDSM
Source: ARC from Publisher
Rating: 4 Stars

NOTICE: I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

A Simmering Attraction, An Irresistible Challenge

Bella Cross has had a thing for Holt Lamm since college, but his scorching dominant energy scares her to death. And his list of conquests annoys her. But when Holt catches her smoking, and
offers her something else to fixate on--if only for a night--she simply cannot resist.

Before long, they are both lost in an erotic exploration that will last longer than one night. Perhaps

I truly enjoyed reading this erotic romance. It had a tad more BDSM than I'm really used to, but the chemistry between Holt and Bella was so intense that I overlooked my slight distaste for it. If that sort of thing is your cup of tea, you'll definite want to read this short gem.

Bella shows up at a beach house 2 days early, expecting to have a couple of days to herself before her friends arrive for the weekend. Holt, it seems, had the same idea. Once the two of them are in the same room, however, the extra relaxation they both sought out becomes full-on lust after years of being sexually, frustratingly attracted to one another. They make it their mission to explore one another before the others arrive in hopes of satisfying that hungry itch, but their feelings have a mind of their own. . .

The characters were well-written and fully-realized. There wasn't a lot of plot other than Holt and Bella fulfilling their mutual sexual fantasies, but hey, that's what I signed up for when I decided to read this book. If you're looking for a short - HOT - read, look no further! I'd definitely read any other books Sabrina Holt has out as well!

Seeing Red by Holley Trent

Seeing Red
by Holley Trent

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Published by: Lyrical Press on June 16, 2014
Genres: Music Industry, Erotic Romance
Source: ARC from Publisher
Rating: 2 Stars

NOTICE: I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

She married him to save face, but will it be at her heart’s expense?
Megan Coffman needs to put her divorce from one of rock and roll’s biggest womanizers behind her—fast. Dubbed “Poor Meg” by the music media, she’s sick of being pitied and thinks the best way to show the public she’s moved on is to flash her brand new engagement ring. But now she needs a man and a wedding to go with it...

Thirty-five year old Russian expatriate Seth “Red” Rozhkov likes the idea of an instant family and agrees to play husband for a year for a virtual stranger. Women just want him for one thing anyway, and it’s not happily-ever-after. A mutual friend swears if Red plays his cards right, he could have Meg for keeps. He’s willing to try.

Meg finds Red an enigma. He’s a gentle giant, solicitous almost to a fault—and the no-strings-attached sex is amazing, but she’s used to being used. What’s Red getting out of the deal? How can she trust a man who hasn’t asked her for anything in return?

I'm honestly not sure what to say about this one. I remained thoroughly confused throughout the entire book as to why Sergei "Red" Rozhkov married "Poor Meg" in the first place. "Poor Meg" seemed like a total b*tch to me with no redeeming qualities. Sergei, or "Seth" (he had 2 nicknames which was also confusing), seemed like a whipping boy with no personality who was willing to take whatever Meg gave him. Meg treated him like crap, but used him for sex. Somehow (although I totally missed it), the two fall in love in this story. I keep thinking that I missed something here. Can a book really be this confusing and have no redeemable characters? The sex scenes were okay, but nothing to write home about. If you like the author, I'd recommend reading it - perhaps you like her writing style - otherwise, I'd skip it.

Books I Need to Write a Review For:

Lists help me . . .
1. Turning 16 by Perie Wolford (DONE)
2. Smoking Holt (DONE)
3. Poster Boy (DONE)
4. Seeing Red (DONE)
5. Love, In English by Karina Halle
6. Kissing the Maid of Honor by Robin Bielman
7. Sandcastle Kisses by Krista Lakes
8. Off Balance: A Memoir
9. Another Little Piece by Kate Karyus Quinn
10. Five Summers by Una LaMarche
11. A Beautiful Struggle by Lilliana Anderson
12. Regine's Book
13. Abducted
14. The One I Left Behind by Jennifer McMahon
15. My Story by Elizabeth Smart
16. Her: A Memoir by Christa Parravani
17. A Stolen Life: A Memoir by Jaycee Dugard
18. The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour
19. If You Stay by Courtney Cole
20. Down the Darkest Road by Tami Hoag
21. Deeper Than the Dead by Tami Hoag

Top Ten Tuesdays: Delicious Covers

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Top Ten Book Covers I'd Frame as Pieces of Art

Some of these I've read and others I've added to my wishlist just based upon their cover!

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