Saturday, December 28, 2013

ARC Review: The Valentine's Arrangement (Hard Feelings #1) by Kelsie Leverich

The blurb as seen on Goodreads:
Release Date: December 31, 2013
Publisher: NAL Trade
272 Pages

The �emotional, spicy-hot story” (Belle's Book Bag) that propelled Kelsie Leverich to the New York Times bestseller list!

Tattoo artist Ronnie Clark is counting the days until Valentine’s Day is over. Ronnie doesn’t do romance. She doesn’t do flowers or dates, and she sure as hell doesn’t do love—not anymore.  Love leads to heartbreak, and she’s vowed never to let herself get hurt again.

Sergeant First Class Kale Emerson is home on his midtour leave from Iraq, but he only has one thing on his mind—returning to his soldiers to finish leading their mission. He’s dedicated to his men and to his country, and he’s not interested in getting wrapped up in a distracting relationship…but casual sex, that’s a different story. From the moment he sees Ronnie, he wants her. And he agrees to her terms: no romance, no fluff—just passion.

But as their sexual chemistry ignites, the lines of their arrangement get blurry, and Ronnie starts to push Kale away. And when Kale realizes he’s found his match in this gorgeous razor-tongued woman who is hell-bent against love, winning her heart could be the toughest battle he has ever fought.





Bad mouth tattoo girl

meets Captain America.


That’s The Valentine’s Arrangement in a nutshell. Ronnie Clark hates love and relationships and everything else that comes with it. Her soldier boyfriend ex cheated on her while in Iraq and now Ronnie has just given up. Kale Emerson is a soldier home on leave and also doesn’t believe in relationships, but for a different reason. He believes in not having a relationship until he’s sure he’s found the one and can devote everything to her – which he can’t due now because of his military status. 

Kale goes to Ronnie to get a tattoo and instantly becomes transfixed. He decides she would be the perfect girl for a no-strings attached sexual relationship while he’s on leave. Obviously, Ronnie’s response is along the hell to the no type and truthfully, when have no-strings attached sex relationships ever worked out. I could already see where this was heading. Throw in foul language, jealously, and ex-fianc├ęs, and Kale and Ronnie have their work cut out for them.

I honestly really liked Kale. He was straightforward, honest about what he wanted, and something about a soldier boy is endearing. He cared about the troops serving with him and their families, and took every loss to heart. The only negative about him was his forcefulness. When a girl says “back off, I don’t want you” that normally doesn’t mean push her against a door and kiss her. At least it doesn’t for me. There’s nothing wrong with a strong man who knows what he wants, but this trend in books where the guy forcefully takes what he wants regardless of if he can read the need of the girl doesn’t make sense to me. 

And then there was Ronnie. Ronnie who was all yes, no, yes, no, I don’t want you, I want you…ahhhhh! I liked that she was strong and feisty and fought back. I didn’t like how rude she was to Kale then would internally yell at herself only to be rude when she saw him again. The appearance of the ex who hurt her was extremely predictable that I spent most of the book turning the page looking for him. And then when he finally did show up, everything about what happened was predictable. GAH!!!!

Overall, it was okay. I liked it. I don’t know if I liked it well enough to continue the series, but we shall see.

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

Thursday, December 26, 2013

ARC Review: Tin Star by Cecil Castelucci

The blurb as seen on Goodreads:
Release Date: February 25, 2014
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
240 Pages

On their way to start a new life, Tula and her family travel on the Prairie Rose, a colony ship headed to a planet in the outer reaches of the galaxy. All is going well until the ship makes a stop at a remote space station, the Yertina Feray, and the colonist's leader, Brother Blue, beats Tula within an inch of her life. An alien, Heckleck, saves her and teaches her the ways of life on the space station.

When three humans crash land onto the station, Tula's desire for escape becomes irresistible, and her desire for companionship becomes unavoidable. But just as Tula begins to concoct a plan to get off the space station and kill Brother Blue, everything goes awry, and suddenly romance is the farthest thing from her mind. 



It's an absolute miracle that I managed to finish this novel. Because Jenn and I are incapable of letting things go, we saw Tin Star through until the end. I'm sure I can speak for both Jenn and myself when I say that this was not a good thing, but rather a major regret that resulted in frustration, disappointment and an (see: several) empty bag(s) of Milky Way Bites (though that last one might just have been me).

Tula has sworn revenge on Brother Blue, the man who almost killed her, and left her stranded on an alien space station before leading her mother and sister and the rest of their colony to their deaths. Thanks to the help of some aliens, Tula begins to thrive on the space station and continues plotting against Brother Blue. The addition of three unwelcome humans brings murder, betrayal and romance into her life and forces her to adjust to the changes so she can survive and kill Brother Blue.

There are exactly two things that I liked about this novel, which are characters that we hardly got to know: Heckleck and Tournour. Had they been given a larger presence in the story, I probably would've enjoyed it (well… it wouldn't have taken me a month to read the book, at least). Their personalities and interactions with the main character, Tula, were interesting, and they were the only parts of the story about which I had a real curiosity. They weren't fleshed out enough though. The rest of this story was just… dreadful.

Here's the thing… It's necessary to have a good idea about the background and setting of the story you are reading, especially when you are writing science-fiction and fantasy. And that's where Tin Star fails. The author puts us in a future where aliens have a large presence and then neglects to explain all that has changed the world from how we currently know it. I had absolutely no idea what was going on, why these things were happening or even the behavior of the characters. The main character's actions (all human characters' actions, for that matter) baffled me. The character interactions were infuriatingly unrealistic especially between Tula and the three other humans (Caleb, Reza and Els) that she comes across. I hate them. 

Jenn and I exchanged several shouty capitals texts over how awful the characters were. Tula is not a relatable character, and that's not just because she lives in space. The book is told through her eyes, and let me tell you that her perspective is quite dull and lacks any feeling. Can you read monotone? I really hated all of the humans in this story, and I could completely understand why the aliens loathed them as well. Caleb, Els and Reza were strange, and generally awful people. I didn't understand their motives, or ideals. I just wanted to smack them, more specially smack the heck out of Els. Throughout the story I had very little (if any) sympathy for the characters as they struggled against misfortune. They honestly deserved it.

The plot would've been fascinating had it been given the proper attention. It was very inconsistent in its pace, and like I've said before, truly lacked the detail to help the reader understand why these events were occurring. History of the world, descriptions of the planets and stations and more insight into the characters was needed, but never given. A month later and I still have absolutely no idea what happened in that 200+ pages. Tin Star was a jumbled mess with which I could not get onboard.

I expected this novel to be fantastic, but as Jenn and I read we found ourselves more and more annoyed by the poor quality of the story. I am sad to say that I will more than likely avoid this author's work in the future. Tin Star was scattered and messy. It needed more--more detail, more history, more emotion, more care. This could've been phenomenal, but it wasn't. It, in fact, was so bad that I just wanted to get it over with, but couldn't find it in me to pick it up to finish. It was a never-ending vortex of boredom from which I am so happy to have escaped.
I received an ARC of this novel from the publisher for my honest opinion and review.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

ARC Review: The Promise of Amazing by Robin Constantine

The blurb as seen on Goodreads:
Release Date: December 31, 2013
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
384 Pages

Wren Caswell is average. Ranked in the middle of her class at Sacred Heart, she’s not popular, but not a social misfit. Wren is the quiet, “good” girl who's always done what she's supposed to—only now in her junior year, this passive strategy is backfiring. She wants to change, but doesn’t know how.

Grayson Barrett was the king of St. Gabe’s. Star of the lacrosse team, top of his class, on a fast track to a brilliant future—until he was expelled for being a “term paper pimp.” Now Gray is in a downward spiral and needs to change, but doesn’t know how.

One fateful night their paths cross when Wren, working at her family’s Arthurian-themed catering hall, performs the Heimlich on Gray as he chokes on a cocktail weenie, saving his life literally and figuratively. What follows is the complicated, awkward, hilarious, and tender tale of two teens shedding their pasts, figuring out who they are—and falling in love.




While the Promise of Amazing didn’t live up to its promise of being amazing, I still found it very enjoyable and cutesy (the cover is also completely adorable). Wren Caswell is your typical average high school student – maybe a little too average in her eyes. Nothing she does stands out and according to all of her teachers, she’s just too quiet. Grayson Barrett is Wren’s opposite. He was the popular, outgoing kid at his old private school until he was kicked out for selling term papers. Now he’s a little confused as to where he stands and is just kind of floating through life. 

Enter a wedding at Wren’s family business, Grayson choking on a mini hot dog, and Wren knowing the Heimlich and you have one interesting meeting. Grayson becomes immediately fascinated with Wren and takes to putting himself in her way every chance he gets. Wren, even though she’s intrigued by the idea of Grayson, is a little more cautious. 

I liked that this wasn’t your typical virginal girl meets bad boy and tries to change him story. Wren wasn’t unexperienced, which was refreshing. I enjoyed that they both of the characters weren’t exactly sure where they were going to end up. Constantine did a good job of showing that confusing time for high school students where everyone expects you to know your future and you still don’t even know what you’re doing next week. 

What took me a little out of the story was all the extra drama involving Grayson and “Operation Amsterdam”. The addition of Luke did nothing to the story but leave me shaking my head and screaming “just tell the damn truth” every two seconds. It never fails to annoy me how characters refuse to actually talk to each other about important things only to have them blow up in their faces in the next chapter. It’s completely predictable. It’s like a big flashing sign that says “here’s conflict”. Everything involving “Operation Amsterdam” and Luke was completely ridiculous including the conclusion. 

Overall, the leading characters were likeable and seemed very realistic to me. Their relationship was cute and I rooted for them to be together in the end. Good debut for Constantine and I look forward for more from her. 
I received an e-copy of this novel for my honest opinion and review from the publisher via Edelweiss.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Book Blast: The Offering (The Pledge #3) by Kimberly Derting

I am happy to be a part of the book blitz for The Offering by Kimberly Derting, hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer. Ms. Derting is one of my favorite authors, and I am especially honored to be able to promote her latest work today!

The Offering (The Pledge #3)
by Kimberly Derting
offering
The blurb as seen on Goodreads:
Release Date: December 31, 2013
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
336 Pages

True love—and world war—is at stake in the conclusion to The Pledge trilogy, a dark and romantic blend of dystopia and fantasy. Charlie, otherwise known as Queen Charlaina of Ludania, has become comfortable as a leader and a ruler. She’s done admirable work to restore Ludania’s broken communications systems with other Queendoms, and she’s mastered the art of ignoring Sabara, the evil former queen whose Essence is alive within Charlie. Or so she thinks. When the negotiation of a peace agreement with the Queendom of Astonia goes awry, Charlie receives a brutal message that threatens Ludania, and it seems her only option is to sacrifice herself in exchange for Ludanian freedom. But things aren’t always as they seem. Charlie is walking into a trap—one set by Sabara, who is determined to reclaim the Queendoms at any cost.

Pledge Trilogy
  kimberly derting

   
BookBlast $50 Giveaway *
$50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash
Ends 1/18/14

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Offering Tour 

Visit Book Jems again on January 9th to see my review as part of The Offering Blog Tour, hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer!

Big thanks to Kathy and Margaret K. McElderry Books for allowing me to join in this book blast!
*Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Cover Reveal: Where You'll Find Me by Erin Fletcher

Today we are happy to join Rockstar Book Tours, Entangled Teen and Erin Fletcher in the reveal of Erin's upcoming novel, Where You'll Find Me.

Where You'll Find Me
by Erin Fletcher
The blurb as seen on Goodreads:
Release Date: January 7, 2014
Publisher: Entangled Teen
211 Pages

When Hanley Helton discovers a boy living in her garage, she knows she should kick him out. But Nate is too charming to be dangerous. He just needs a place to get away, which Hanley understands. Her own escape methods (vodka, black hair dye, and pretending the past didn't happen)are more traditional, but who is she to judge?

Nate doesn't tell her why he's in her garage, and she doesn't tell him what she's running from. Soon, Hanley's trading her late-night escapades for all-night conversations and stolen kisses. But when Nate¹s recognized as the missing teen from the news, Hanley isn't sure which is worse: that she's harboring a fugitive, or that she's in love with one.



Exclusive Excerpt from Where You'll Find Me:

Nate looks me over, from my jacket to my favorite pair of jeans, to the shoes that are bonfire-worthy but still cute. My hair, with the help of a straightener, is so silky that my dark bangs fall into my eyes even more than usual. My eye makeup is amped up. Whether all of this is because of the bonfire or because of who I hoped I’d run into before leaving is open for debate. He reaches up and brushes my bangs away from my face. The split-second touch makes me crave more. “You look gorgeous.”
“Thank you.”
“Where are you headed?”
Though staying here in the garage might be a better option, I say, “A bonfire.”
Nate studies me again, but this time it feels like he’s looking for something deeper. “Don’t you ever get tired of sneaking out?”
“Not really,” I say with a shrug.
He tugs on the zipper of my fleece, lowering it slightly and pulling me closer. “What are you running from, Hanley?”
It feels like my secrets are written all over my face, but I say, “Nothing.”
When he smiles, it’s almost sad. “I don’t buy it.”
I lean in, putting both hands on the car behind him, one on either side, trapping him. “You tell me why you’re living in my garage and I’ll tell you what I’m running from.”
He gives a sly smile and doesn’t budge. “Secrets it is.”
“Secrets it is,” I echo. And even though the small space between us is electric and threatening to disappear, I push off the car and step away. “I’ll see you later,” I say as I open the door.
“Hanley,” he says before I can get too far. “Be careful out there, okay?”
I don’t make any promises.


Enter to win an eARC of Where You'll Find Me below!

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Big thanks to Rockstar Book Tours and Entangled Teen for allowing Book Jems to join them in this release! We are so looking forward to reading the book, and we just absolutely adore the cover!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Book Review: Freak of Nature (IFICS #1) by Julia Krane

The blurb as seen as Goodreads:
Release Date: January 9, 2013
Publisher: Valknut Press
167 Pages

Donate Body to Science. Check.

When seventeen-year-old Kaitlyn checked the box, she never suspected she’d have her life–and her body–stolen from her. She awakens one day in a secret laboratory to discover that her body is now half-robot and is forced to hide her own secret: that she still has human emotions and a human mind. If the scientists who made her find out, they’ll erase what remains of who she was.

Kaitlyn finds an unlikely ally in Lucas, a handsome, brilliant scientist who can’t get over the guilt he feels knowing she was once a vibrant, beautiful young woman. He never expected a science project to affect him the way she does. As he tries to help her rediscover her past, he finds himself falling for the brave girl struggling to find her place and acceptance between the human and computer worlds.

*For mature teens due to some sexual content.



Well…this book was interesting. When she was 17, Kaitlyn died and her body donated to science, to a company called IFICS actually. It was at IFICS where they turned her into a super cyborg solider. Her main organs were replaced with computers and parts of her exterior body were now plastic. She had super speed, perfect accuracy in shooting, and the ability to measure a threat from any person. The only problem was that Kaitlyn wasn’t supposed to retain human emotions, but she did. 

Kaitlyn is kept secret in a compound in the Northeast. Here she receives her training and upgrades to her system so that she performs perfectly. Her creator’s objective: to sell her to the government for some top secret missions (aka: mercenary). One of the head programmers, Lucas, who has been with Kaitlyn since the beginning starts to feel more for the robot girl and wishes that she could feel. Meanwhile, Kaitlyn is mooning over Lucas and wishes she could tell him that she feels. 

Half the book is spent with Kaitlyn and Lucas going back and forth over confronting each other and then when they finally reveal their secrets to each other, Kaitlyn is set to be sold off. Here is where it starts to get more ridiculous. Lucas and Kaitlyn decide that they can’t be apart and start to plan ways to get her out of her deal with the government. Along the way, a love story abounds. 

Now, I know we were supposed to feel for Kaitlyn and ship this love with Lucas, but I just couldn’t. The whole thing just felt off. Kaitlyn was very one dimensional and kind of bland. I’m not sure if this was because she was a cyborg and her emotions and characteristics were very stilted, but I felt no connection to her. And while I liked the character of Lucas, he became very intense very fast. It went from ‘I think she’s pretty and wish she felt something’ to ‘I love her and my very existence depends on her’. Instead of a book about finding out who you are, it became a book about being with a boy. The ending came a little too easy and it was missing the drive that makes you want to read the next one. 

Oh, and side note, the love scene was really awkward and kind of disturbing to me. Kaitlyn is constantly described as having plastic parts, but yet she’s able to have sex? What parts are plastic? How is this possible???? Yeah, this confused me more than it should.  

Ultimately, I guess I just wanted more from this story. More fight, more spunk, more something.
I received an e-copy of this novel for my honest opinion and review from the publisher via Netgalley. 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

ARC Review: Breathe (In Vino Veritas #2) by Lauren Jameson

The blurb as seen on Goodreads:
Release Date: December 3, 2013
Publisher: NAL Trade
304 Pages

Two people learn what it really means to give up control in the sizzling new novel from the author of Blush and Surrender to Temptation.…

When business mogul Elijah Masterson travels to the Mexican coast for his chain of luxury resorts, he purchases an emerald green glass sculpture for one of the properties. He is soon fascinated by the fiery temptress who created it. The attraction between them is instant and explosive, but Elijah resists, unsure that a woman as strong-willed as Samantha would ever yield in the way he needs her to.

Headstrong glass artist Samantha Collins hides a secret desire to submit to the right man. Samantha sees everything she wants in Elijah, but apart from one steamy night, he seems determined to keep his distance. She has always held back, but refusing to let go now that she’s found the dominant man she’s always wanted, Samantha makes Elijah an offer he can’t refuse: a month of absolute submission.

But after a month of incredible passion, will either of them be able to walk away?


 

I think I’ve come to the realization that almost all BDSM books are the same…and I actually don’t really like them. Writers seem to think they can take the ’50 Shades’ route and everything will be great. Rich, powerful man seeks submissive to control. Enter blushing girl with a “sassy” inner monologue. Throw in sex on every page and BAM!  Get new ideas.

Samantha is an artist who likes to be in control of her life but she longs for someone to control her in the bedroom, but she has secrets in her past that she wants to stay there. Elijah is a Dom who wants a true submissive. He’s been burned in the past, but when he sets his sights on Samantha, he instantly wants her. Like instantly, I’m talking tracking down her house and showing up the next day instantly. He’s that stalkerish. 

The whole story is Samantha’s inability to decide is she wants to be a submissive or not. It’s a constant back and forth from “I want control” to “why won’t he control me?”. It was getting a little tiring. If it’s something you want to try, then do it! Stop freezing up and freaking out right before every little thing only to end up feeling sorry for yourself. 

If I was supposed to root for these two to be together, then something went wrong somewhere. Honestly, I didn’t care where they ended up at the end. The characters were underdeveloped to me, especially Elijah. I have no clue how these two fell in love since their only interactions revolved around sex and acts of humiliation. Because I’m sorry, her punishment for being insubordinate was for the pilot of the plane to molest her?? I just wasn’t feeling it. They were boring and routine and had no chemistry. 

I was looking for something new, something that I hadn’t read before, but alas this wasn’t it. 
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

 
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