Friday, May 22, 2015

ARC Review: Under the Lights (Boys of Fall #1) by Shannon Stacey

The blurb as seen on Goodreads:
Release Date: May 26, 2015
Publisher: Jove
304 Pages

From the New York Times bestselling author of the Kowalski Family novels, a sweet, sexy new series about taking hits, making second chances, and finding love…

They were the golden boys of fall: Stewart Mills High School’s legendary championship winning football team. Fourteen years later, they’re back to relive their glory, save the team—and find themselves again…

Chase Sanders’s life has taken a lot of crazy turns lately. But returning to his hometown to help his old coach keep his high school football team afloat might be the craziest thing to happen to him yet. That is, until he starts falling for the last person he should—Coach’s gorgeous daughter…

Kelly McDonnell learned the hard way that cocky, charming men are nothing but trouble, so she knows Chase is bad news. Still, she can’t resist his smile—or the rest of him. But when his loyalty to her father conflicts with their growing attraction, any hope for a relationship might be blocked before it can even begin…

Well, this book was certainly the cutesy that I needed right now. 

Chase Sanders is called back to his hometown to help save the football team that he was once part of. With his life currently in shambles, he drops it all to go back to Stewart Mills and to the coach who was more like a father than his own ever was. Having been part of the championship team, Chase and other teammates arrive for two weeks full of events and parades to hopefully raise enough money to fund the current football team.

Kelly McDonnell is the coach's daughter and one of the three women putting these festivities on. She will stop at nothing to make sure the teenagers in her town have something positive to look forward to. And just because she had a crush on Chase back in the day doesn't mean that would affect anything now, right?


Chase and Kelly have immediate chemistry from the moment he drives back into town, blowing through the stop sign and getting pulled over by Kelly herself. She's a cop now and fights daily to maintain the respect she has from the community. She doesn't need Chase messing that up. Not that Chase would even go near Kelly. She's the coach's daughter, and that means she's off limits. But try as they might, they keep finding their way back to each other. 

What began as a teen crush evolves into a friendship with the hopes of more. Stacey really takes the time to build the friendship between the two so that when Kelly is worried about taking it further as to not hurt the friendship, you believe it. 

The small town feel really helped set the scene of the book. Everyone knew everyone else and one persons business was everyone else's. The side characters added to the flow and made me want to know more about them as well. When this book showed up on my doorstep from the publisher, I was a little wary. But I am happy that I gave it a chance and am looking forward to seeing what else the patrons of Stewart Mills get up to in the next books.

I received a copy of the novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Book Review: Never Never: Part 2 (Never Never #2) by Colleen Hoover & Tarryn Fisher

The blurb as seen on Goodreads:
Release Date: May 17, 2015
Publisher: Hoover Ink
111 Pages

“Never forget that I was your first real kiss. Never forget that you’ll be my last.
And never stop loving me between all of them.
Never stop, Charlie.
Never forget.”

Silas races against time as more truths unravel, while others twist tighter together. And now, the stakes are higher as Silas’ control slips and others begin to point fingers. Charlie is in trouble and he must be the one to bridge the chasm between their past and their present. Because somewhere between I love yous and Never Nevers and Never Agains, a truth they can't imagine, beckons to be found.

“Where are you, Charlie?”

So...I'm still confused, but I'm starting to put together little theories in my head with the little tidbits of information we do have. My theories are slightly extreme, not going to lie.

Never Never Part 1 left off with Charlie missing and Silas on the verge of losing his memories again. Part 2 picks up right where it's predecessor left off. Silas wakes in his car with no memory of who he is. Confused and disoriented, he tries to piece together the mystery of what's happening to them by going through all of the letters he wrote to himself. 

While I wasn't a huge fan of the first book, I enjoyed this one. I think it's because we actually got more out of the story here. The first was just a giant WTF moment while in the second, we know about the memory loss but now we are finding out more about their pasts and the clues are actually leading somewhere. I feel like I'm part of the Scooby gang frantically trying to solve the mystery.

There's not a whole lot of Charlie, which makes me happy. I'm still not a fan of hers and the more we learn about her, the more I just don't like her. Instead, we mostly get Silas. I feel for him, I really do. He's so obviously in love with Charlie (though I have no clue why) and so desperate to find her, even if he can't remember why he wants to do this. Helping him on his mission is his brother Landon, who is a cutie in his own right. 

The book ends on another cliff hanger which I was unprepared for. I thought this was a two-parter and the closer I got to the end, the more panicked I was because there was no way it was going to be solved with less than 4% remaining on my kindle. All in all, a much better showing with this one but still...

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Book Review: Broken Hearts, Fence, and Other Things to Mend (Broken Hearts & Revenge #1) by Katie Finn

The blurb as seen on Goodreads:
Release Date: May 13, 2014
Publisher: Square Fish
380 Pages

Gemma had her summer all planned out, but it takes sharp turn when she gets dumped and finds herself back in the Hamptons after a five-year absence. Being there puts her at risk of bumping into Hallie, her former best friend (that is, before Gemma ruined her life). But people don’t hold grudges forever. Do they?

Gemma intends to make amends, but a small case of mistaken identity causes the people she knew years ago—including Hallie and her dreamy brother Josh—to believe she’s someone else. As though the summer wasn’t complicated enough already.

Can Gemma keep up the charade? Or will she be found out by the very people she’s been hiding from?

I don't know if this book was supposed to be as predictable as it was, but...

I called everything. Even the "big twist" at the end. Now, this doesn't mean that I disliked the book because I didn't. It just means that either I have super sleuth powers when it comes to unearthing plots or the author wasn't as sly as she thought she was.

Gemma Hart is...well, she's kind of a horrible person and kind of dumb. When she was eleven, she was convinced that her parents separation was a passing thing and that by the end of summer they would be back to being one big happy family. Realizing this wasn't going to happen, she plots to to remove the one thing standing in her way: her fathers new girlfriend and her daughter. Now, five years later, Gemma is returning to the Hamptons to spend the summer with her father. She figures there's no way she'll run into Hallie (the daughter she hurt) and things even start looking up when she meets a cute boy on the train. But as fate would have it, the cute boy aka Josh is Hallie's older brother and she suddenly finds herself face to face with the friend she hurt. So what does she do? She lies. She pretends to be someone else. She figures that she'll get Hallie to like her again and then apologize, thus revealing who she really is.

I honestly don't understand how a girl this old doesn't get how wrong this is. You're going to lie to someone to get them to like you only to reveal your lie and hope for the best? Nope. That's not how life works. On top of that, what she did to Hallie's mom in the past was something that even an eleven year old would know was wrong. And how she didn't get caught, I'll never know.

Now, I know that it seems like I didn't like the book. And I did. It wasn't amazing, but it kept me reading - even if it was just to find out if I was correct about my suspicions. But honestly, I was interested in what would happen with Josh. Gemma didn't really have any interactions with him back in the day but I was sure that he knew everything that happened and once he found out who she was, shit was going to hit the fan. I felt for Josh. He was dealing with a break up and was having trust issues, and along comes Gemma who he clicks with instantly but she's lying to him and it's a pretty big lie. I spent the whole book just waiting for this to blow up in her face. And there were a lot of near misses, let me tell you.

Aside from the my issues with the story, I really enjoyed Finn's writing. It felt like I was watching a high school drama series and I just couldn't look away. The book definitely ends on a cliff hanger that sets up the next installment and color me curious, I want to know what happens. And I believe T Swift said it best:

Monday, May 11, 2015

ARC Review: Center Ice (Corrigan Falls Raiders #1) by Cate Cameron

The blurb as seen on Goodreads:
Release Date: May 19, 2015
Publisher: Entangled Teen
196 Pages

The hometown hockey hero won’t know what hit him…

Karen Webber is in small-town hell. After her mother’s death, she moved to Corrigan Falls to live with strangers—her dad and his perfect, shiny new family—and there doesn’t seem to be room for a city girl with a chip on her shoulder. The only person who makes her feel like a real human being is Tyler MacDonald.

But Karen isn’t interested in starting something with a player. And that’s all she keeps hearing about Tyler.

Corrigan Falls is a hockey town, and Tyler’s the star player. But the viselike pressure from his father and his agent are sending him dangerously close to the edge. All people see is hockey—except Karen. Now they’ve managed to find something in each other that they both desperately need. And for the first time, Tyler is playing for keeps…

Well, wasn't this just adorable? Also, hockey - bonus points.

Who knew getting attacked by a squirrel would lead to this? Karen Webber's life has been seriously altered. After the death of her mother, she's forced to live with the father she never knew and his other family. What makes it even more awkward is that her father cheated on his wife with Karen's mother. Talk about fun family bonding time. Besides being heartbroken over losing her mother, she's angry at her father, confused about where she fits in, and lonely. During one of her morning runs, she falls victim to a squirrel attack only to be saved by a very attractive boy.

Tyler MacDonald is known throughout Corrigan Falls. It's a small town, but a hockey town. And Tyler is their star player. Ask anyone and they'll tell you he's bound for the NHL. Anyone except Tyler. While the NHL is his goal, the pressure to excel is burying him. Between his father and his agent Tyler has no release, no time for himself- except for his morning runs. When he sees Karen, he's instantly drawn to her. Turns out she may be the one escape he needs, but not all see it that way.

I am a huge hockey fan and I loved all of the ins and outs of this business that Cameron incorporated into the plot. It seemed to make it much more of a story about growing up than just a teen romance. It also provided more depth to a character like Tyler who is pretty much only known for two things: hockey and sleeping around. Reading about his nerves of the future and planning out his career made him more realistic and I enjoyed him more because of it. 

With Karen, she was harder to like. I felt really bad for her. Her situation was horrible. But at the same time, she did nothing to lessen the stress. While I get the animosity between her and her older halfsister, the way Karen treated her dad's wife was downright horrible. Between constantly throwing out how her father was a cheater and then stomping around like the world owed her something, I was honestly waiting for them to send her off somewhere else. But I tried to give her some slack. She was young and didn't really understand that other people were also hurting in this situation. 

There were a lot of cute little moments between Tyler and Karen, and it was fun to watch their characters fall in love. There were also some very interesting family dynamics playing out. You have Karen's new family who, for the most part, were trying to make her welcome, but she didn't want to be there. Then you had Tyler's parents who were basically living the worst people ever and only cared if their son made it to the NHL, not if he was happy (oh my god, I hated his father!).

Cameron definitely has my interest in this series and I will continue to read it. I'm looking forward to learning more about the other guys on the team. 

I received an e-copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Book Review: Two of Hearts by Christina Lee

The blurb as seen on Goodreads:
Release Date: May 5, 2015
Publisher: NAL Trade
304 Pages

A gripping standalone adult contemporary romance about finding yourself while taking a second chance at your first love…

Dakota Nakos was always the resilient, strong-willed achiever. But when her father dies and she’s entrusted with the family’s casino, she feels vulnerable, scared, and more than a little emotional —not exactly the best time to see an old lover she’s never really gotten over.

Dakota once meant the world to Shane Garrity. Then suddenly he left town to train as a U.S. Marshal, and their love for each other crashed into a memory. Now he’s come home for her father’s funeral, and one look at the girl he left behind stirs up both memories and regrets, and reignites a fire he feared he’d lost forever.

Dakota may be the same driven girl she always was, but she’s also changed in ways neither could have anticipated. She’s not just a young woman searching for own identity in the Native American community in which she was raised, but one questioning her new life outside her father’s shadow. Above all she wonders if Shane can push past her weakened defenses to rekindle what they once had, or whether the intense blaze between them will ultimately reduce her heart to ashes.

It's interesting to me that this is considered a standalone book when we've met these characters (and others) in another series of Lee's. I'm assuming it's because of the jump from New Adult to Adult? Anyway...

After the death of her father, Dakota Nakos finds herself running the casino he left behind. As if dealing with this loss wasn't enough, now it seems like the Native American community Dakota was raised in doesn't want her or her mother there anymore. Add that to her ex showing up, and Dakota is just thrown out of sorts. She feels like she's drowning and it's looking like the only way out is the boy from her past and she's not quite sure that's a road she wants to go down again.

When Shane finds out about Mr. Nakos death, he stops at nothing to get home. Not only was Mr. Nakos father to his best friend and the girl he loved, but Mr. Nakos was also like a father to Shane. Upon his arrival, he instantly notices that somethings not right. Tensions are high, but no one is talking. Shane decides he's sticking around to find out what's going on - and to finally figure out what's between him and Dakota.

I really like Lee's writing. She's an author that I warmed up to, having not been to impressed with the first book I read from her. In Two of Hearts, Lee ups the game by jumping into adult with these characters and also throws in a little mystery: who killed Mr. Nakos and why? The setting was also one I hadn't read before. Set on an Indian reservation in the Midwest, I enjoyed how this book placed emphasis on the importance of culture and family.

The chemistry between Dakota and Shane was clearly visible. The two share a past - his best friend is her older brother, not too mention the almost relationship they had. Their past actually lends itself to moving the plot forward instead of getting us stuck there. It's because Shane knew Dakota so well that he was able to anticipate her reactions and also investigate the murder of her father more indepthly. However, despite their obvious chemistry, there was a giant game of push and pull happening. Shane knew what he wanted and was going after it. Dakota had no clue what she wanted and even after she figured it out, still pulled away. She was very up and down with Shane, but it was believable given what her family was going through and the stress of owning a casino. I enjoyed both the drama and the romance of this book.

In my mind, this will always be grouped in with the Between Breaths series. I can't help it. My mind just associates it with that set. That's not a bad thing, though, as I thoroughly enjoyed that series.

I received a copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

ARC Review: The Confession (The Body Works Trilogy #3) by Sierra Kincade

The blurb as seen on Goodreads:
Release Date: May 5, 2015
Publisher: Berkeley
368 Pages

The hot and thrilling conclusion to the Body Work Trilogy, following The Masseuse and The Distraction

Anna Rossi walked away from Alec Flynn to keep her family and friends safe. But she can’t protect her heart from him, no matter how hard she tries…

Time has done nothing to quell Anna’s need for Alec. She knows that she did the right thing walking away; the constant media attention that Alec’s been getting for testifying against Maxim Stein and Force Enterprises is evidence enough of that. But no matter how many times she warns herself that Alec is dangerous, she just can’t stay away—even after her connection to him once again threatens her life…

Alec knows the evidence he has against Max could stop him from hurting anyone ever again. But when it’s revealed that Alec stands to inherit everything from Max’s loss, his testimony is called into question—and Max could walk free putting Anna in harms’ ways once again. Now he’s beginning to wonder if any of this is even worth it—and if he and Anna will ever have a chance at true happiness…

Well, the conclusion to the Body Works trilogy is definitely explosive. I will give it that.

Months after Anna leaves Alec because of the danger he keeps putting her and her friends in, she's still pining for him. Like "fantasizing sexy times with her while with clients" pining. While it's obvious that everyone around her is worried (there's somebody with her at all times), she tells them that she's fine. No need to worry. Alec who? And all that jazz. No one's buying it, not even me. 

When Anna's life is threatened again, Alec reappears and it looks like he may be sticking around for good. Or maybe not...? This guy was all over the place. With the impending trial and his future on the line, his inability to talk about any sort of future with Anna was understandable. He didn't want to make promises he couldn't keep and he didn't want to hold her back. Honestly, Alec is a pretty stand up guy. But after all of this, he would then turn around and swear that he would never leave her, that he would always be there for her. It was a constant back and forth that it's no wonder Anna was so messed up.

Then there's Anna. It was nice to see her relationships with people outside of Alec. I'm not a fan of relationships where the two people seem to disregard everyone around them once they're together, and in the first two books, this was Alec & Anna - wrapped up only in each other. In Confession we get to see more of her relationship with her father, who I loved. I also liked the extra additions of Mike (honestly, I wouldn't mind reading a story about him and Amy). Also, seeing Anna figure out what she wanted to do with her life and finally seeking out help to talk about what happened to her both in her past past and the more recent past. It takes courage to ask for help, but it showed a strength that the author talked about a lot, but it finally came to light. 

So, here's the thing, I liked these books, but I didn't love them. The first one was insta-love. The second one was more of the getting to know you type faze. The third was non-stop drama and action. Oh, and sex. A lot of sex. I didn't really feel an emotional connection with the lead characters, only the physical. I didn't understand why Anna couldn't live without Alec. The author never seemed to go beyond the physical connection and I had a really hard time understanding how Anna felt safe with Alec when all he did was constantly put her in danger. 

The parts that I really liked were the crime bits. I liked the unraveling of secrets and the 'who done it' mystery that surrounded this one. That's what kept me reading, not the love story. 

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, May 4, 2015

ARC Review: A Shattered Moment (Fractured Lives #1) by Tiffany King

The blurb as seen on Goodreads:
Release Date: May 5, 2015
Publisher: Berkeley
304 Pages

In the new series by Tiffany King, the USA Today bestselling author of the Woodfalls Girls novels, six friends—fresh from high school graduation—discover that the future can come at you from out of nowhere.

This is Mackenzie’s story…

Mackenzie Wilson once had hope for what life had to offer, but everything changed on the night of her graduation. A year later, the only way she can find comfort is by keeping her head down and hoping she remains unnoticed at college.

When Bentley James discovered Mac in that twisted SUV, he was just a newbie EMT on his first call. It was a gut-wrenching moment that made him realize not everyone can be saved—and sometimes they don’t want to be.

A chance encounter on campus brings Bentley back into Mac’s life. Despite her initial resistance, he sets out to discover the girl hiding beneath a shield of seclusion. He evokes painful memories in Mac—but also feelings. As the spark between them grows, Mac must decide if she can let go of the past and believe in something as fragile as love…

Heartbreaking, heart-stopping, emotional rollercoaster - and that's just the prologue. A Shattered Moment starts off on a very painful note and over the course of the book manages to break through that pain into a book about learning to live again.

On what should have been one of the happiest nights of her life, Mackenzie Robinson's life changes in the most unexpected way. Loss like she has never known now plagues her everyday. In order to try to shed the pain, she in turn sheds her own identity, now only answering to Mac. But Mac's not really living, she's just going through the motions. Wake up, go to class, study in the library, avoid roommate, sleep, repeat. That is until she meets Bentley James.

Bentley was the EMT on duty that night when Mac's life changed. It's a night he also will never forget. When Bentley sees Mac in their school library, he makes it his mission to get to know her - even if she's resistant. Something about her pulls him in, he knows what happened to her and he wants to help. Only he doesn't see that when Mac sees Bentley, she also sees that night.

King's writing is so raw that it just demands to be felt. Bentley is so full of light and warmth, which is the opposite of Mac's darkness and cold attitude toward the world. I mean, he fights with his roommates iguana. How adorable is that? He's also the only person who doesn't make Mac feel...wait, no, scratch that, he is the only person to make Mac feel. And she's not sure how to deal with that. Having been in her own personal bubble, she doesn't realize that she was missing human interaction until he wakes that up in her.

Mac was a complicated little cookie. She wanted to be left alone, for people not to notice her disability, to just get through the day. Over the course of the book, she starts to come alive again. And as she faces the past, we learn more about what happened that fateful night. And when she finally grieves and forgives, the anger she felt starts to disappear.

I loved this book much more than I thought I would. King has become one of those authors where I will just read anything she publishes. I cannot wait to see where the next book takes us. I have a feeling it will be just as hard to get through as this one.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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