Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Chelsea Wives and Their Mistresses by Sarah Bramley

Chelsea Wives and Their Mistresses

By Sarah Bramley
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Published by: Troubador Publishing Ltd September 28, 2014
Genres: LGBT Romance
Rating: Not rating

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.

Cara Brooks, a high-flying property developer, has everything she could possibly desire – apart from passion. Tired of her rocky relationship with husband David, she’s overwhelmed upon meeting Sirena, a young, beautiful woman, one evening in a Mayfair hotel bar. Cara knows she has to make life changes, but is unsure whether she can enter into a serious relationship with a woman, particularly when she knows David’s family secret – a secret she has promised to never divulge. While battling her conflicting emotions, she lies to those she cares about most. Her desire for true happiness will bring complications into her otherwise carefree life. But does she really know what she truly wants? Can she risk everything for her own pursuit of passion?

Meanwhile, Elle Milne-Smith knows only too well that with her sultry beauty she can have anything she wants. She embraces her fulfilling family life with her second husband Makram and her two wonderful children. But she is also secretly involved with gorgeous twenty-something Lyra, who means more to her than she lets on to close friends. Makram and Lyra satisfy all her needs, but when a series of unexpected problems appear, her indulgent lifestyle is turned upside down.

Maybe it's just me. I really like M/M LGBT romance books, but every lesbian novel I try to read, I just can't get into. The beginning of this book, seen through Cara's eyes was boring and just a lot of exposition - not a lot of action. From the description above, I never even got to the character of Elle in the story after reading quite a few chapters, but I couldn't make myself read on. Perhaps you'll enjoy it - I just couldn't make myself finish or even get mid-way.

Alpha 1: Who is Holden West by Abby Weeks

Alpha 1: Who is Holden Weeks

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Published by: Fido Publishing August 11, 2014
Genres: NA Romance, Novella
Rating: Overall, 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.

Who is Holden West?
I'm not who you think I am.
Looks can be deceiving.
I'm good-looking, but I'm not a ladies man.
I'm beyond wealthy, but no one knows it.
I'm confident, but my heart has been broken.

Find out who Holden West really is through the eyes of Lucy Mayfair, the struggling waitress who works at his favorite diner. When she first meets Holden, all she sees is a tough, rugged auto mechanic who seems to carry a certain sadness wherever he goes. What she soon finds out is that there is more to Holden than she ever would have guessed.

This was a nice quick read, although I certainly wanted more of Holden. It was refreshing to read a story where the guy isn't drop-dead gorgeous or parade himself around as wealthy. In real life, the hot, rich, smooth-talking men are rare and usually stuck on themselves. Holden is down to earth, and he has a crush on Lucy.

That was about as far as we got in the story, as I believe there will be a few novellas drawing the story out. I honestly wish it was just one full novel, as I want to find out what happens next!

The Before Now and After Then by Peter Monn

The Before Now and After Then

by Peter Monn

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Published by: Pen Name Publishing July 29, 2014
Genres: LGBT Romance, YA
Rating: Overall, 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.

Danny Goldstein has always lived in the shadow of his identical, twin brother Sam. But when a hurricane of events forces him into the spotlight, he starts to realize that the only thing he’s truly afraid of is himself. With the help of his costume changing friend Cher, a famous gay uncle with a mysterious past of his own, two aging punk rocker parents and Rusty, the boy who will become his something to live for, Danny begins to realize that the music of the heart is truly the soundtrack for living.

I couldn't resist reading a romance with a mixed tape on the cover! Without giving away too many details (you'll want to read this for yourself), this is a coming-of-age story about being "different", learning to be yourself instead of just being the copy of someone else, making real friends, and finding first love. There's bullying, death, and identity crises all around. Danny, his friend Cher, and even his Uncle Alex finally start learning who they are and being themselves by the end of the book. It was refreshing to watch their journey, and to watch as Danny fell in love for the first time.

Danny and Rusty were adorable. Their romance was sweet and affectionate, but not overtly sexual, so it's suitable for younger teens as well as older ones. I just really enjoyed the whole book. My only qualm was with the very beginning. The reason his brother Sam left the house in the beginning of the book seemed un-needed as I learned more information on the situation later on. Maybe a more plausible situation could have been used instead. Otherwise, loved the book!

TTT: Books I Want to Read But Don't Own

From the Broke & the Bookish

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Top Ten Books I Really Want To Read But Don't Own Yet

1. Let's Get Lost by Adi Alsaid - I love road trip books and I also love books in which 1 character ties all the others together.

2. The Girl: A Life in the Shadow of Roman Polanski by Samantha Geimer - This is a memoir written by the then 14-year-old girl that Roman Polanski sexually assaulted all those years ago. He fled the country to escape the charges and has never come back to the US. I'm curious to see how this affected Samantha.

3. Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma - Although this book's subject is so taboo, I've heard nothing but good things about it.

4. Jane & Austen by Stephanie Fowers - I love modern-day re-tellings of Jane Austen novels. This is a quirky one about a wedding planner and her clueless male friend.

5. Mr. Darcy's Bite by Mary Lydon Simonsen - Darcy is a werewolf, but apparently a horny one at that. Not sure why I want to read it, but it's probably just my Jane addiction.

6. 17 & Gone by Nova Ren Suma - Seventeen-year-old Lauren is having visions of girls who have gone missing. And all these girls have just one thing in common—they are 17 and gone without a trace. As Lauren struggles to shake these visions, impossible questions demand urgent answers: Why are the girls speaking to Lauren? How can she help them? And . . . is she next?

7. Surviving the Angel of Death: The True Story of a Mengele Twin in Auschwitz by Eva Mozes Kor - Another memoir about the surviving twin of a pair of twins operated/tested on by the evil Dr. Mengele during the Holocaust.

8. The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon - I like a lot of her books. West Hall, Vermont, has always been a town of strange disappearances and old legends. The most mysterious is that of Sara Harrison Shea, who, in 1908, was found dead in the field behind her house just months after the tragic death of her daughter, Gertie. Now, in present day, nineteen-year-old Ruthie lives in Sara's farmhouse with her mother, Alice, and her younger sister, Fawn. Alice has always insisted that they live off the grid, a decision that suddenly proves perilous when Ruthie wakes up one morning to find that Alice has vanished without a trace. Searching for clues, she is startled to find a copy of Sara Harrison Shea's diary hidden beneath the floorboards of her mother's bedroom. As Ruthie gets sucked deeper into the mystery of Sara's fate, she discovers that she's not the only person who's desperately looking for someone that they've lost. But she may be the only one who can stop history from repeating itself.

9. The Distant Hours by Kate Morton - I loved The Forgotten Garden, and want to read this gothic "dark house" mystery too.

10. Tomorrow River by Lesley Kagen - Apparently I'm on a kick about missing people/mysteries. Here's another one. During the summer of 1968 in Rockbridge County, Virginia, eleven-year- old Shenandoah Carmody's mother disappeared. Her twin sister, Woody, stopped speaking, and her once-loving father slipped into a mean drunkenness unbefitting a superior court judge. As the first anniversary of their mother's disappearance nears, her father's threat to send Woody away and his hints at an impending remarriage spur a desperate Shenny to find her mother-before it's too late.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

TTT: Top Ten Books People Have Been Telling You That You MUST Read

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Top Ten Books People Have Been Telling You That You MUST Read

Ummmm . . . I don't have anything to list here, because I don't have any close bookish friends to recommend anything to me. Can YOU recommend something? I like YA, NA, Mystery/Thrillers. I don't like Fantasy or Sci-Fi much except Vampires (but not Twilight). I like anything set in the music or film industry too or anything Jane Austen-ish.

And GO!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Persuasion, Captain Wentworth and Cracklin' Cornbread by Mary Jane Hathaway

Persuasion, Captain Wentworth and Cracklin' Cornbread

by Mary Jane Hathaway

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Published by: Howard Books November 11, 2014
Genres: Jane Austen Modern Retelling
Rating: Overall, 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.

A lively Southern retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, featuring Lucy Crawford, who is thrown back into the path of her first love while on a quest to save her beloved family home.

Lucy Crawford is part of a wealthy, well-respected Southern family with a long local history. But since Lucy’s mother passed away, the family home, a gorgeous antebellum mansion, has fallen into disrepair and the depth of her father’s debts is only starting to be understood. Selling the family home may be the only option—until her Aunt Olympia floats the idea of using Crawford house to hold the local free medical clinic, which has just lost its space. As if turning the plantation home into a clinic isn’t bad enough, Lucy is shocked and dismayed to see that the doctor who will be manning the clinic is none other than Jeremiah Chevy—her first love.

Lucy and Jeremiah were high school sweethearts, but Jeremiah was from the wrong side of the tracks. His family was redneck and proud, and Lucy was persuaded to dump him. He eventually left town on a scholarship, and now, ten years later, he’s returned as part of the rural physician program. And suddenly, their paths cross once again. While Lucy’s family still sees Jeremiah as trash, she sees something else in him—as do several of the other eligible ladies in town. Will he be able to forgive the past? Can she be persuaded to give love a chance this time around?

Although a modern version, this book followed the overall plot to Persuasion to a tee. The author, however, chose to make some bold choices when creating her characters. Instead of the typical white rich family we often read about in Southern books, Lucy and her family are an affluent African American family, while Jem was a poor white boy from a trailer park. Lucy's family looked down on Jem while the two were teenagers. It was interesting to see a race reversal from what I usually see in books. I really enjoyed this fresh perspective. Kudos to Mary Jane Hathaway for knocking stereotypes on their head in this book.

Lucy and Jem's story unfolded slowly, like Anne and Captain Wentworth's in Persuasion. Their love wasn't bold or all-consuming, but simmering underneath and built on a solid foundation. I rooted the whole way through for Jem to forgive Lucy for her past choices and pledge his love to her. You'll have to read the book to find out what happened!

Persuasion, Captain Wentworth, and Cracklin' Cornbread (Jane Austen Takes the South)

Starstruck by L.A. Witt


by L.A. Witt

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Published by: Riptide Publishing November 3, 2014
Genres: LGBT Romance, Film Industry
Rating: Overall, 3.75 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.

Hollywood is full of dirty secrets, but Carter refuses to be Levi’s.

Retired action star Levi Pritchard has made a quiet life for himself in the sleepy logging town of Bluewater Bay, Washington. But then Hollywood comes to film the wildly popular television series Wolf’s Landing, and Bluewater Bay isn’t so sleepy anymore. His retirement doesn’t stick, either, because he’s offered a part on the show—exactly the kind of complex role he’d always wanted, one that would prove him more than a glorified stuntman. The only catch? He has to stay in the closet—no matter how attractive he finds his co-star.

Carter Samuels is the critically-acclaimed male lead on Wolf’s Landing. And now, the man who inspired him to take up acting—and made him realize he’s gay—is joining the cast, and sparks fly between them instantly. But Carter is out and proud and determined to stay true to himself.

Remaining just friends is the only thing to do, as both the studio and Levi’s disapproving, dysfunctional family keep reminding them. Except their friendship deepens by the day, tempting them with what they can’t have but both desperately need.

Swoon. Carter and Levi. Levi and Carter. You can't help but spend the entire read wanting them to overcome their obstacles and get together.

Levi, almost 40, has spent his entire film career in the closet due to societal pressures from family and the industry. He even publically denied a long-term relationship with another well-known star just to keep himself in the closet. While he just wants to be himself, he's been closeted for so long, he doesn't know how to take the leap of faith and tell the world who he is.

Carter is 23 and out and accepting of himself. He always admired Levi's movies growing up and Levi himself made him realize he loved acting - and that he was gay.

When Levi and Carter meet, sparks fly, but Carter doesn't want to be in a secret relationship, so the two decide to become friends. What follows are hang out after hang out in which the two pretend they're nothing more than friends, but in which the reader gets to see how each is affected by the other.

Heat flies when the two have their first scenes together on the tv show. Carter can't remember his lines when he looks at Levi, and the only thing he can think to do about it, is to act on those feelings.

Ultimately, Levi must make a choice: is he willing to risk his image in the film industry and with his family to fight for the person he loves?

I really liked this book, although some of the scenes while they were becoming friends were a bit too alike the one before. It got a tad boring, but I loved it anyway. The ending was fabulous, butg I'll let you read that yourself!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Dream Chaser by Angie Stanton

Dream Chaser

by Angie Stanton

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Published by: Vanguard Management - November 8, 2011
Genres: YA, Romance, Theatre & Dance
Rating: 4 Stars

Willow Thomas has a bad habit of running away from things that scare her. And most recently, she quit her high school cheerleading squad after a terrifying fall.

With time on her hands, she auditions for a musical production directed by a Broadway choreographer. Just as things are looking up, Willow discovers she will be performing opposite Eli McAvoy, the best friend she abandoned three years before.
Eli has grown up during their years apart. He is in no hurry to play nice with Willow, but their entwined roles in the musical lead to entwined bodies in the backseat of his car.

Just when Willow finally has her life under control, another surprise is delivered in the form of her greatest challenge yet. Will she run or finally stand and face her fears? And will Eli be there to help or turn his back on her for good?

This book had a little bit of everything that I love in it: musical theatre, dance, and best friends falling for each other. As someone with a degree in musical theatre with a voice and dance background, I really liked this book and concept. The theatre rehearsals were realistic as was the director of the show. Most directors, however, are not as likable as Tyson Scott, or as hot. ;)

Willow left her dance career behind to focus on cheer, but when she falls after a flying stunt goes wrong, she's too afraid to get back into that part of her life. It was understandable to me, but not understandable to her friends. With one decision, she finds herself alone in the world minus her hilarious, loving family.

Eli was Willow's best friend and dance partner for much of their lives until a fateful kiss leaves Willow running away from dance . . . and Eli. Suddenly, they're thrown back together as leads in a musical. With characters who are expected to portray heat and want for each other, Willow and Eli struggle to get through the motions while still maintaining space. Director Tyson directs them to go get in the back of Eli's car and figure out how to be physical with one another. I've never had a director tell me to do that, but it probably would've been a good idea a couple of times. ;)

The only thing I wasn't a huge fan of was Eli's constant gripe that Willow always quits anything that scares her. Yes, I can see what he means about her quitting dance just because he kissed her, but she was also much younger and didn't know how to deal with their changing relationship. He doesn't even cut her slack for quitting the cheer team after she ends up in the hospital after a nasty fall. Then he provokes her at the end of the book when really he should have been supporting her when she fears the final end to the show. I think the author was trying to show tension between them, but it just didn't work for me.

TTT: To Read or Not to Read?

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Top Ten Books: To Read or Not to Read?

1. The Bloodlines Series by Richelle Mead - I started reading these because I love Adrian (and Sydney is ok) but I seriously didn't find any of the other characters likable. The plots seemed boring . . . just didn't want to keep spending $10 per book on a lackluster series. Do any of you like them? Why or why not?

2. The Morganville Vampires Series by Rachel Caine - Worth reading? Yes? No? I liked the VA series.

3. If I Stay by Gayle Forman - I've toyed around with reading this for a few years now, but never seemed to feel like it was something I wanted to start. With the movie coming out, I'm wondering if I should read it. . .

4. 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher - This is another one that doesn't sound appealing to me but that the masses love.

5. The Nantucket Red & Blue books by Leila Howland - I like beachy reads, but I'm not sure how different these are than Jenny Han's beach books.

6. Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma - Sounds interesting, but do I want to read about a brother and sister in love? I did read all the Flowers in the Attic books by VC Andrews, so I guess I have it in me to read this.

7. Far From You by Tess Sharpe - This one seemed to be liked by book bloggers far and wide, but again, the book blurb isn't really drawing me in to want to read it.

8. The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet by Bernie Su & Kate Rorick - I know this is an expansion of the web series, but I couldn't get into it, no matter how hard I tried. Did anyone else read this who hasn't seen the series like it?

9. Uncharted - novella sequel to On the Island by Tracey Garvis Graves - I've read On the Island twice, but I'm always leery of sequels. 99% of them suck, in my opinion and tend to ruin the first one for me. Has anyone read this? Thoughts?

10. Roomies by Sara Zarr - This book has been on my Wishlist for so long, but I've never taken the plunge and bought it. Something tells me I might not like it . . .

Monday, August 11, 2014

Unbroken by Theresa Weir (NA Boxed Set)


by Theresa Weir

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Published by: Belfry Press
Genres: NA, Romance
Rating: Overall, 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.

Molly has a secret. To keep it she holds the world at a distance. Behind her lies a trail of dumped boyfriends who came too close to discovering what no one can know. When her estranged father dies of an unexpected heart attack he leaves an even deeper secret, one tied to Molly's.

After the funeral, Molly is unable to tolerate the shoulder-to-shoulder mourners and runs out the door and down the street to the nearest bar. Come dawn, with no memory of the past ten hours, she finds herself in bed with a beautiful stranger. She slips away before he wakes up, unaware of the role he's about to play in her life. Is he the one guy who can convince Molly to face her painful secret and become the person she's meant to be?

This was the first novella in the boxed set and I really enjoyed it, which made me read the next book. Molly is a shut-off person, using her walls and hard heart as self-preservation. She learned to do that as a child as a coping mechanism for the childhood she had to live through. While the author eludes to something from her past, it was pretty obvious to me, but no less upsetting.

She meets Ian the day of her father's funeral after blacking out from drinking so much. When she tries to throw herself at him, he backs off, knowing it isn't right and that something is definitely wrong with Molly. The next day, she sneaks out of his hotel room.

Imagine her surprise when she sees him at her father's lawyer's office the next day. I won't give away why they were both there at the same time. Just know that their subsequent relationship followed an interesting path which finally lead to redemption for both of them.

This HEA story is deep, dark, sexy, funny, and emotional.
Penniless and behind on rent, college student and once famous child actress Ellie Barlow takes on the role of a lifetime when she's hired by a group of young women to break the heart of the campus player who cruelly dumped them.

Transformed from slob slacker to jaw-dropping beauty, Ellie is dressed, styled, bleached and waxed, her chunky glasses exchanged for violet contacts. Along with physical prepping, she's coached on Julian's obsessions, which include long-distance running, Doctor Who, and J.D. Salinger.

In no time, Julian is in pursuit of his custom-made next victim, but when Ellie goes off script and begins to fall for her target, the newest broken heart in this risky game could be her own.

It's pretty clear from the beginning how this one is going to end, but I really enjoyed getting from Point A to Point B. I liked learning about Ellie's path from stardom to nothing. And Julian has a secret too. A big one. Ellie discovers that he's been using sex as a way to forget that secret - that he's not really an evil guy at all. He's just in a lot of pain.

Together, they support one another through their hard times, until Julian discovers who Ellie really is and that she was paid to go out with him, to break his heart. Will they end up together?

I did skip out on reading the next 3 books in the boxed set as two of them were from the point of view of a cat, which didn't appeal to me and the third was about a vampire and virtual reality, which also didn't appeal to me. If you like fantasy, or cats, you'll probably like them, as Theresa Weir is an excellent writer.

Haunted Ever After by Juliet Madison

Haunted Ever After

by Juliet Madison

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Published by: Escape Publishing
Genres: NA, Romance September 1, 2014
Rating: Overall, 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.

When bride-to-be Sally Marsh attends a weekend away with her bridesmaids, the last thing she expects is an uninvited guest: the ghost of her fiancé's ex-girlfriend.

Red is quirky, loud and distracting, and Sally is soon desperate to find the reason behind her presence, so she can rid herself of her embarrassing shadow before the wedding day. Unfortunately, the ghost is reluctant to share the reason for her existence, but very enthusiastic about Ty, the surprise hen’s night stripper who keeps showing up at awkward moments.

Time is running out for Sally, but it’s also running out for Red. By the time all is revealed, Sally will be tested to the limits, and go above and beyond everything she’s ever believed in order to ensure not only her own happy-ever-after – but Red’s as well.

The action began right in the first sentence, which I absolutely loved. The author didn't go into a lot of back story as so many authors do, but let the arc unravel itself a scene and character at a time. I loved it.

I also loved that there were two female leads in the book, Sally who is among the living and Red who is haunting Sally from the Other Side. No matter what Sally does, Red sticks to her like glue, and in some situations hilarity often ensues. I did find myself laughing out loud which doesn't happen in most novels.

There was also more to the characters than the blurb alludes. Ty may be a stripper, but he is a decent person, which you'll find out if you read the book (which you should)!

Sally's friends got a little lost for me in the book as most characters do when there are a set of 3, 4, or 5 friends who spend a lot of time together. I kept forgetting who was the pregnant one, the unhappily married one, etc. Maybe it's just me - it probably is.

The story unfolds naturally and tells not only the tale of Sally's current love situation, but of Red's death and the real reason why she's lingering on earth.

Ultimately, Sally and Red help each other - and that's what being friends is all about.

Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas: Being a Jane Austen Mystery by Stephanie Barron

Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas: Being a Jane Austen Mystery

by Stephanie Barron

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Published by: Soho Press October 28, 2014
Genres: Mystery in the style of Jane Austen
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.

Christmas Eve, 1814: Jane Austen has been invited to spend the holiday with family and friends at The Vyne, the gorgeous ancestral home of the wealthy and politically prominent Chute family.

Jane, however, discovers holiday cheer is fleeting. One of the Yuletide dies in a tragic accident whose circumstances Jane immediately views with suspicion. If the accident was in fact murder, the killer is one of Jane’s fellow snow-bound guests. With clues scattered amidst cleverly-crafted charades, dark secrets coming to light during parlor games, and old friendships returning to haunt the Christmas parties, whom can Jane trust to help her discover the truth and stop the killer from striking again?

I love a good Jane Austen spin-off and I enjoyed this one very much. It was very Agatha Christie-like (whom I also love) . . . A group of friends and strangers snowed in a house with a murder (and murderer) on their hands. The author does a sneaky job of leading the reader on a wild goose chase in terms of who the murderer could be and how they are connected to the murdered. I admit that I didn't guess the ending and am always pleasantly surprised when that happens.

Jane was a sleuthy Jane Marple, keeping her family close and the rest of the party closer, knowing that one of them was dangerous. She follows the clues, one at a time, and ultimately solves the riddle.

I'd recommend this to anyone who like Agatha Christie, Jane Austen and mysteries set at Christmastime.

Friday, August 8, 2014

FF: Social Media

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

Please follow me on Bloglovin' & I'll follow you!
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Question of the Week: Social Share! What is your favorite social network and leave us a link so we can join you!

As a book blogger, my favorite social media network is Bloglovin'. I like getting a daily feed email, showing me all the books my online book friends have reviewed. I get to learn about new books that I might like, which is always a plus for a crazy reader like me!

Of course, I'd love it if you'd follow me, as I'm relatively new. I review YA, NA, Mystery/Thrillers, and Memoirs.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Flat Out Love by Jessica Park

Flat Out Love

by Jessica Park

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Published by: Skyscape - September 11, 2012
Genres: Fiction, Family, Love
Rating: 5 Stars

He was tall, at least six feet, with dirty blond hair that hung over his eyes. His T-shirt read Nietzsche Is My Homeboy.

So, that was Matt. Who Julie Seagle likes. A lot. But there is also Finn. Who she flat out loves.

Complicated? Awkward? Completely.

But really, how was this freshly-minted Boston transplant and newbie college freshman supposed to know that she would end up living with the family of an old friend of her mother's? This was all supposed to be temporary. Julie wasn't supposed to be important to the Watkins family, or to fall in love with one of the brothers. Especially the one she's never quite met. But what does that really matter? Finn gets her, like no one ever has before. They have a connection.

But here's the thing about love, in all its twisty, bumpy permutations—it always throws you a few curves. And no one ever escapes unscathed.

Hands-down one of the best books I've ever read. The above synopsis doesn't do the book justice - in fact, I don't know how any blurb could do it justice. It's just that good. It's Flat Out good. ;)

Before I get into the synopsis, I want to say the following:
1. The characters aren't just 3-D; they are alive. The depth with which the author knows these characters, their background, likes, needs is astounding. It's rare that an author truly gives the reader 100% of the characters. Nothing is glossed over.

2. The Watkins household is alive. It is not just a place in the book; it is a major character. It sets the stage for a lot of the plot.

3. This book is emotional, funny, amusing, sarcastic, witty (sooo witty) and full of pain . . . and love. And redemption.

4. I truly did NOT see the plot twist coming and when I did, I had to lay down and collect myself for a minute. My heart was beating out of my chest.

5. I couldn't put this book down once I started. Could not.

Julie is a freshman in college who finds out her newly rented (over the Internet) digs is actually the address to a taco place. Homeless, her mother calls an old friend from college, and Julie goes to stay temporarily with the Watkins family. The Watkins family is like no other family she's ever met. Mr. and Mrs. Watkins are lawyers who bike too and from work. Their gorgeous older son Finn is off traveling the world, helping the poor, leading expeditions, saving the world. Matt, a college student double majoring in math and physics, is the cool nerdy type. He never meets up to the expectations of his parents who are always wanting him to be more like Finn. And then there's Celeste. Something is severely wrong with Celeste which Julie soon finds out. There is an extra place set at dinner and sitting/standing there is "Flat Finn" a life size cardboard cutout of her brother Finn. Um, weird. Even weirder? No one says a word about it; they act like this is completely normal behavior for a middle school girl. Matt soon explains that "Flat Finn" is Celeste's way of coping for missing the real Finn who is always half-way around the world. Still, as Julie reasons, it doesn't take a psychologist to realize that Celeste needs some serious help. With no one in the family talking about it or willing to acknowledge it, Julie takes matters into her own hands, helping Celeste ease away from "Flat Finn" one body part at a time.

I won't go into any further details as I don't want to give away the plot. There is a follow-up book call Flat Out Celeste. I'd like to read it, but Flat Out Love was just so perfect that I don't want a 2nd disappointing installment (if it is disappointing) to ruin anything I gained from the first. If you've read it, please let me know what you thought.

Present Perfect by Alison Bailey

Present Perfect

by Alison Bailey

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Published by: Amazon Digital Services - August 2, 2013
Genres: Romance, NA, YA
Source: ARC from Publisher
Rating: 3.75/4 Stars

"I’ve been unsure about many things in my life except for one thing, that I have always loved him. Every single minute of every single day that I have been on this earth, my heart has belonged to him. It has never been a question, never a doubt. The love had taken on many different forms over the years, but it had always been a constant.

Everyone has their definition of love. There have been countless songs sung about it. A gazillion books, articles, and poems written about it. There are experts on love who will tell you how to get it, keep it, and get over it.

We’re led to believe love is complicated. It’s not the love that’s complicated. It’s all the crap that we attach to it and put in front of it that makes it difficult. If you’re smart, you’ll realize this before it’s too late and simplify."

Noah and Amanda. Amanda and Noah. It's hard to tell where one ends and the other begins, and I didn't want to know the difference. To me, they just "were".

Amanda and Noah were born on the same day, 1 minute apart, and spent their entire childhood together. Best friends to the end and only had eyes for each other, even before they started noticing the other in a romantic way. Each beginning chapter shows instances, from Amanda's POV, in which Noah did sweet and caring things for Amanda. The author truly let us into Noah's heart and soul and we saw right away that Amanda was the only person who ever really mattered to him. Amanda didn't see it that way.

The book gets it's title "Perfect" from remarks said about Amanda's older sister, Emily. Emily is smarter, prettier, better at sports, etc, than Amanda and she feels inferior to her sister. This inferiority complex follows Amanda the entire book and highly disrupts her relationship with Noah on more than one occasion. I will admit that it seemed to me that Amanda takes the "perfect" aura of her sister a little too seriously for what the book actually explains. There are literally only a couple of sentences about how Emily is perfect, but Amanda's character seems to over blow that, sometimes tediously. I could have done with a little less of that and a little more of some other plot beat.

Ultimately, things change in high school when Amanda refuses to take their relationship to the next level. She's terrified of losing Noah as a best friend and is worried about what will happen if they date then end things. This happened to her sister Emily (again, the Emily comparison), and she vows it will not happen to her and Noah. This clearly frustrates Noah to no end (and the reader as well) as this happens over and over again. Noah eventually moves on with other people and Amanda does the same, all the while each is wishing they were truly with the other.

Despite their lack of being together, their are so many tender, cherished moments between the two, where the reader gets to see and feel the true love flowing through them. At times I wanted to cry and did get teary-eyed. Sometimes they were sad tears, but mostly they were tears of joy from feeling the deep love that never wavered between them.

As with a lot of books, tragedy brings them back together, although they don't get together right away like one would think. Their best friendship does eventually take a turn for the better when an unlikely new friend shows up in Amanda's life, telling her that life is too short to keep Noah at bay.

I won't give away the details, or the ending, because you'll have to read it yourself to find out!

My only fault with the story is that it was a tad over-dramatic at times, although since most of that took place in their high school years, I was willing to forgive it. High school is over-dramatic.

There's a cross-over book called Past Imperfect that I want to read. I usually find 2nd books disappointing but I'm willing to read this to see how a prominent character in this book ends up in the next book.

Bones & Roses by Eileen Goudge

Bones and Roses

by Eileen Goudge

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Published by: INscribe Digital - August 5, 2014
Genres: Mystery / Thriller
Source: ARC from Publisher
Rating: 2.5 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.

"Tish” Ballard thought she’d seen it all. Almost four years sober after flambĂ©ing her real estate career in an alcohol-fueled blowout, she’s finally in a good place in her life when the discovery of skeletal human remains rocks her world and plunges her headlong into solving a decades-old crime. Now she must delve into the darkness of her own past, including the one-night stand gone horribly wrong with Spence Breedlove, who happens to be the lead detective on the case. When the truth comes out at long last, Tish finds herself pitted against an enemy who will stop at nothing in a fight for her own life.

I want to start out by saying that I was excited to read this book, or any book, by Eileen Goudge as I simply loved her book, The Diary (which I highly recommend reading). This book, however, did not meet my expectations.

The blurb leads you to believe that Spence and Tish have a bad relationship due to something that happened in their high school past - but what it really is - is immature, high school drama. I could have done without that. It really didn't lend anything to the story. Tish could have easily set off on her own investigation in spite of the police and still have a conflict between her and the lead detective, just because she was overstepping her bounds. That would've made more sense.

And speaking of romance . . . what guy in their right mind dumps a perfectly nice, pretty model in order to maybe get the chance to date a random hometown girl with a chip on her shoulder like Tish? I'm not sure. I just didn't buy it. I didn't feel any chemistry between the two. I felt that the author was trying to force something that wasn't there.

The mystery itself was interesting, and there were some twists, but they didn't really make much sense after the fact. Usually in thrillers, after a twist, the reader puts the puzzle pieces together and understands why that twist took place. I just didn't feel any of that in this book.

I was disappointed in this book, to say the least, and probably won't be checking out any of her new ones set in the same town anytime soon. I may check out some of her older ones, though.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Bridge From Me to You by Lisa Schroeder

The Bridge From Me to You

by Lisa Schroeder

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Published by: Scholastic July 29, 2014
Genres: Romance, YA
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.

Lauren has a secret. Colby has a problem. But when they find each other, everything falls into place.
Lauren is the new girl in town with a dark secret. Colby is the football hero with a dream of something more. In alternating chapters, they come together, fall apart, and build something stronger than either of them thought possible--something to truly believe in.

This was a sweet, charming high school romance. It's clean and fresh. While it would be easy to write Colby as the typical football player that wants to quit but whose father is pushing him to play college ball, the author goes way beyond that. Colby is a sensitive, loyal friend to both Lauren and his best friend from childhood, Benny. He's understanding of Lauren's need to take their relationship slow. This makes the book more realistic than most who rush through relationships quickly. The love builds over time, naturally.

Lauren is staying with her Aunt and Uncle after escaping an incident back home. I liked that it wasn't a typical issue, where the protagonist leaves home to get away from her drug or alcohol addiction. Lauren really is a good soul just trying to survive in life. When she and Colby come together as two caring individuals, you just feel good all over.

Deep Diving by Kate Ellink

Deep Diving

by Cate Ellink

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Published by: Escape Publishing August 26, 2014
Genres: Romance, NA
Source: ARC from Publisher
Rating: ? 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.

Samantha is celebrating her newly retired status from competitive triathlons with a diving holiday in her favourite place in the world: Australia’s Lord Howe Island. But all divers need a buddy, and Sam can’t dive solo. A chance meeting with rugby league superstar Cooper Sterling in the dive shop seems serendipitous. Sam can’t wait to have a partner who might be able to keep up with her.

It soon becomes evident that Cooper and Sam are compatible both in and out of the water, and things gets seriously sexy. But Sam is disinclined to be another football groupie, and Cooper has been burned before. So the rules are clear: a holiday fling, no strings attached, and they part as friends at the end.

But as the final days of their time together come to a close and a life apart becomes a reality, Sam and Cooper start to question their decision. Is this holiday fling really the finish line or can Sam and Cooper turn their friendly competition into more than sizzling sex?

I honestly can't rate this book, because I couldn't get past the beginning. I thought this was going to be a hot, quick read, but nothing in the writing sucked me in. The writing suggested that Samantha was this hot, sexy woman, but I thought all the writhing around and excessive flirting she was doing would've turned off anyone. Cooper didn't seem all that interested either. I'll let you decide . . . Maybe it's just me . . .

Not in the Script by Amy Finnegan

Not in the Script

by Amy Finnegan

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Published by: Bloomsbury USA Children's Books October 7, 2014
Genres: Romance, YA
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.

Millions of people witnessed Emma Taylor’s first kiss—a kiss that needed twelve takes and four camera angles to get right. After spending years performing on cue, Emma can’t help but wonder if any part of her life is real anymore . . . particularly her romances. She’s been burned by heartthrobs (and the press) one too many times, but there’s something about Emma’s co-star on her new TV show Coyote Hills that is irresistible. Jake Elliott is gorgeous, smart and actually cares about Emma’s charitable foundation. But she’s sworn off on-set relationships. They always end badly . . . don’t they?

I enjoy a good book about film, theatre or music, so I was excited to read this romance set in the film industry. What could be more entertaining than young Hollywood veterans and hopefuls starring in a new series?

While this was a quick read with good editing, I didn't find myself falling in love with any of the characters. I felt like Jake was the most meshed out character, but even he petered out about 3/4 through the book. Brett was the typical bad-boy star and Kimmi was the typical diva. There was nothing written in there to set them apart from the stereotypes. It made them uninteresting. Then there was Emma, the heroine of the story. She was nice to everyone - never had an impure thought - always out to protect others. I found this . . . well . . . boring. Of course she had Jake and Brett falling all over her, but I often found myself asking, "Why?" She had no grit. I guess I just wanted more.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

TTT: New Adult Books

From the Broke & the Bookish

I'm a new book blogger, so please follow me!
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I just had surgery to put 3 plates & 19 screws in my arm, so pardon my typing!

Top Ten Books I'd Recommend to 1st Time New Adult Readers

1. Without a doubt, I See London by Chanel Cleeton - Samir & Maggie and HOT HOT HOT! Set in a London University, player Samir and naive Maggie can't stop the pull between them and you, the reader, won't want them too!

2. The sequel to I See London is London Falling. It's the only sequel I've ever liked! This book has alternating chapters showing Maggie and Samir's reactions to the same situation. We didn't get to see things from Samir's side in the first book, and I loved being able to do so in this book!

3. The Wrong Woman by Brenda J Brown - Norah's starring in her first feature film across from director and actor David Raurke. I loved the theatre aspect of this book as well as the fact that Norah and David didn't have a love/hate relationship. That is overdone in too many books. You can have attraction without hating one another.

4. If Only by AJ Pine - With an excerpt like "One minute they're trapped on the train in between malfunctioning doors; the next they're sharing the most passionate kiss of their lives," you know it's good.

5. Opening Act by Suleikha Snyder - I love musicians and I love friends-turned-lovers stories. This steamy novella has them both!

6. Now and Then by Brenda Rothert - Sisters Emma and Layla grew up next door to hot, popular Cole Marlowe. Cole took Layla out a few times, never noticing younger sister Emma. 10 years later, Emma literally runs into Cole and things immediately heat up. This book is free on Kindle right now!

7. Legal Ease by Lori Ryan - Jack Sutton needs a wife in order to keep his CEO position at his father's company. Kelly Bradley just go into law school, but has no way to pay her tuition. Jack and Kelly make a pact to marry for one year. Jack gets to keep his job and Kelly gets her law school funded. Simple right? Simple until they start falling in love . . . It's currently free on Kindle!

8. Surrender Your Love by JC Reed - There are also 2 sequels to this book, the 2nd of which isn't too bad, although I didn't love the 3rd. The series follows pretty boy Jett Mayfield and Brooke Stewart. After the hottest one-night-stand ever (!), Brooke discovers that she just slept with her new boss!! Lots of heat in this book, ladies!

9. The Navy Seal's Email Bride by Cora Seton - Another book where the man must get married, in this case, to save the family ranch. Regan Anderson is tired of trying to find a relationship and has decided to do IVF and have a baby on her own. She doesn't expect to fall in love with Mason Hall, who also, coincidentally, needs to have a baby to keep the ranch. Sounds far-fetched and is a bit, but still a hot read.

10. Before You by Amber Hart - Faith is a preacher's daughter; Diego is from war-torn Cuba and has the scars and tattoos to show it. What happens when two people who shouldn't feel anything for one another find themselves drawn together, even in treacherous circumstances?

Monday, August 4, 2014

The Real Thing by Cassie Mae

The Real Thing

by Cassie Mae

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Published by: Random House Publishing August 19, 2014
Genres: Romance, NA
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.

Eric Matua has one friend—his childhood best friend, who needs a place to stay for the summer. Mia Johnson has thousands of friends—who live in her computer. Along with her email chats and Facebook notifications, Mia also devours romance novels, spending countless hours with fictional characters, dreaming of her own Romeo to sweep her off her feet. When she starts receiving supersweet messages from a stranger who thinks she’s someone else, Mia begins to believe that real love is possible outside her virtual world.

When the two friends become roommates, Mia finds herself falling harder than she ever thought she could. But Eric keeps his desires locked away, unsure of himself and his ability to give his best friend what she deserves in a boyfriend. As her advances are continually spurned, Mia splits her time between Eric and her computer. But she soon realizes she’s about to lose the only real thing she’s ever had.

This was a very reality-based book in my opinion. I know a lot of people who are unable to step away from their computer/phone/facebook/email . . . they're always getting beep reminders on their phones letting them know they have a new message. They find themselves sitting down at their computer at 8pm and before they know it, it's 11pm. Where did the time go?

Mia, the leading lady of the book, is such a person. It brings a realness to her. And although I was annoyed by how much time she spent plugged in, I realize that this is a very real picture of today's modern teen/young adult.

Eric is just the opposite. While he spent a considerable amount of time online chatting with Mia in the years he was away in Samoa, once he has the real thing in front of him, he's able to unplug and just wants to be with her. He can't understand why she isn't able to do that too . . . or perhaps why she doesn't want to do that too.

The other, more sensitive and likable aspect of the story is that Eric suffers from Social Anxiety Disorder. The author does a nice job of realistically showing how this disorder presents and what can trigger it. In Eric's case, mean words said to him by an ex in an intimate setting has made him afraid to be intimate with another woman. Although he wants to be intimate with Mia, his body and mind need to move at a slower pace. It was quite a refreshing change to read about a male who wanted to take things slow. Most other books show the woman wanting to take it slow.

Because I was thoroughly annoyed with Mia through much of the book (through no fault of the author), I only gave this 4 stars, but it's definitely worth a look.

The Real Thing