Tuesday, March 31, 2015

ARC Review: Come To Me Recklessly (Closer To You #3) by A.L. Jackson

The blurb as seen on Goodreads:
Release Date: April 7, 2015
Publisher: NAL
448 Pages

From the New York Times bestselling author of Come to Me Softly comes another irresistible new adult romance in the Closer to You series.

His heart was turned off…
Until she turned him on…

Christopher Moore gave up on the idea of love years ago. Now, his life is an endless string of parties and an even longer string of girls. Enjoying the physical perks with none of the emotional mess, he’s convinced everyone that he’s satisfied—everyone but himself.

Samantha Schultz has moved on with her life. Finishing her student teaching and living with her boyfriend, she’s deluded herself into believing she’s content. But there is one boy she never forgot—her first love—and she keeps the memory of him locked up tight. She will never allow any man to break her the way Christopher did.

When Christopher’s sister and her family move into a new neighborhood, Christopher is completely unprepared to find Samantha living at the end of the street. Memories and unspent desires send them on collision course of sex, lies, and lust. But when guilt and fear send Samantha running, Christopher will have to fight for what has always been his.

Christopher Moore has always been this mystery to me. While reading the first two books in this series, I was constantly drawn to him, wondering what his story was. He was an enigma and when I heard that there would be a book focused just on him, I could not wait to get my hands on it.

The first two books, Come to Me Quietly and Come to Me Softly, were good, but there was something about them that didn't fully captivate me, but they kept me interested enough to continue the series.

Then came Christopher's story and the introduction of Samantha Schultz. We finally got to see high school Christopher and he was adorable. And we ultimately see his downfall. I liked watching him grow and become a person with feelings again the more he was around Samantha. Their friendship was believable as two people trying to reconnect with all these heavy feelings around them. And I also adored Samantha.

Samantha Schultz has not had an easy life. Being the pastors daughter and the sister to a cancer ridden brother made her notorious in high school but also caught the eye of troublemaker Christopher. Their relationship was fast and came crashing down. Years later they reconnect through Ally, Christopher's sister, and it's not smooth sailing to say the least. It also goes to show just what a little communication can actually do.

The one thing that bothered me though, was at the low point when Christopher changed, it seemed he was more caught up in losing Samantha then the fact that his best friend had lost his mom, tried to kill himself, and disappeared. I don't know. I mean, I get first love and it's supposed to be sweet and everything about how his world revolved around her, but it really seemed to demean what happened to Jared.
Come to Me Recklessly is by far my favorite in the series. And a shout out to Stewart, Samantha's brother, who stole every scene he was in. You are magic, sir.

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

Sunday, March 29, 2015

ARC Review: Love After All (Hope #4) by Jaci Burton

The blurb as seen on Goodreads:
Release Date: March 31, 2015
Publisher: Jove
304 Pages

In the latest novel from the New York Times bestselling author of Hope Burns, a woman discovers that the man she least expects is exactly what she needs…

High school math teacher Chelsea Gardner has the perfect plan. She’s tired of dating all the wrong men, and after years of frustration, she’s developed a foolproof list of requirements for finding “The One.”

Bar owner Sebastian “Bash” Palmer finds Chelsea beautiful, smart and fun, but he thinks her list is ridiculous and unnecessary. Intent on proving Chelsea is looking for love in all the wrong ways, he offers to help her find the “perfect” man.

Chelsea knows Bash isn’t the right guy for her—he barely meets one of her criteria—but there’s something about the charismatic man that has her yearning for things that are most definitely not list approved.

Because sometimes, a relationship that looks totally wrong on paper can turn out incredibly right…

 Chelsea Gardner is tired of dating the wrong man. She just wants to find someone who will treat her right, someone she can see a future with, and someone who is perfect for her. So she decides to make a list of qualities that her perfect man must possess. While deep down she knows that there is no perfect man, this doesn't halt her in her mission.

Bash Palmer (real name Sebastian) has known Chelsea since high school and recently he's felt this intense sexual chemistry between them. However, he knows that he's not right for it, in fact he's the exact opposite of everything on her list. So, of course he offers to help her find her perfect man.

Yes, you read that right.

This was not the first Burton book I've read, but this is the first from this series. I find that her writing style is easy to read and has a nice, smooth pace. Her characters are well defined and I enjoy the dialogue she writes. I especially enjoyed the sexual tension between Bash and Chelsea. Whoa baby, it was definitely steamy. There was never a doubt of their chemistry.

I adored Bash. Here was a man who knew who he was, and he was successful to boot. He owned his own bar and had plans for expansion. He also was the type of guy who rolls with the punches. When a pyscho ex dumps a tiny dog on him, he just takes her into his life. And let me tell you, a manly man with a little purse dog was just too adorable for words.

My main frustration with the book was Chelsea herself. I liked that she knew what she wanted and wasn't afraid to go after it. She was also an independent, successful woman herself. What bothered me was her constant need to find the "perfect man". Every page we were reminded of her list and her search. She spends so much time wasted, focusing on these little details that she doesn't notice how Bash, while not perfect, is perfect for her.

This book was filled with banter, sexual chemistry, and some swoonworthy moments. I enjoyed reading it and am now actually very interested in reading the rest of this series.

I received an e-copy of this novel from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for my honest opinion and review.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Book Review: Sway: A Novel by Kat Spears

The blurb as seen on Goodreads:
Release Date: September 16, 2014
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
320 Pages

In Kat Spears's hilarious and often poignant debut, high school senior Jesse Alderman, or "Sway," as he's known, could sell hell to a bishop. He also specializes in getting things people want---term papers, a date with the prom queen, fake IDs. He has few close friends and he "never EVER" lets emotions get in the way. For Jesse, life is simply a series of business transactions.

But when Ken Foster, captain of the football team, leading candidate for homecoming king, and all-around jerk, hires Jesse to help him win the heart of the angelic Bridget Smalley, Jesse finds himself feeling all sorts of things. While following Bridget and learning the intimate details of her life, he falls helplessly in love for the very first time. He also finds himself in an accidental friendship with Bridget's belligerent and self-pitying younger brother who has cerebral palsy. Suddenly, Jesse is visiting old folks at a nursing home in order to run into Bridget, and offering his time to help the less fortunate, all the while developing a bond with this young man who idolizes him. Could the tin man really have a heart after all?

A Cyrano de Bergerac story with a modern twist, Sway is told from Jesse's point of view with unapologetic truth and biting humor, his observations about the world around him untempered by empathy or compassion---until Bridget's presence in his life forces him to confront his quiet devastation over a life-changing event a year earlier and maybe, just maybe, feel" something" again.

This was a book that I was super excited to read. The cover, the blurb on the back, everything about it drew me in. But...it really wasn't what I expected.

Jesse "Sway" Alderman is the go-to guy for everything. You want homework done, he'll get it for you. You need a car wash to be a hit, he'll make it happen. You need drug, he can hook you up. You want a girl to fall in love with you, he can make that happen...well, kinda.

When Jesse is approached by Ken Foster, resident popular guy and jock, to help him get a date with shy, quiet Bridget Smalley, Jesse accepts the job and the $200 to get it done. Then begins the 'getting to know Bridget' process so he can report back to Ken. Of course, Jesse does the unthinkable and begins to fall for her.

What I liked about this book was actually Jesse's friendship with Bridget's brother, Pete, a young boy with cerebral palsy. Yes, he gets close to Pete only to get to Bridget, but you can actually see their friendship building throughout the book. Pete was someone who needed a real friend and someone who wouldn't treat him differently because of his disability - that was definitely Jesse. It's also the only time Jesse really showed any compassion for others.

However, I really wish the author would have spent the same amount of time on the relationship between Jesse and Bridget. There was a great deal of focus when they first met and then at the end, but the in between story was more "How Jesse and Pete became friends". I didn't really get the swoony feels that I wanted in their relationship and I also didn't really feel their chemistry.

Another problem I had were the characters themselves. For the most part, Jesse wasn't a likeable character. He was rude and a liar. Some of the things he did and said were horrible. He had a few moments of sweetness where you saw that he was an actual person, but for the most part he was just doing his business. Bridget was very...timid? We didn't really see a lot of her so it was hard to get a read on her. The times we did see her, she wasn't a very strong character.

I didn't dislike it, but I didn't love it. And it definitely didn't feel like a love story. It was more, a day in the life of Sway. I just feel like maybe I expected too much out of it.

And it's probably mostly my fault but

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Book Review: Confess by Colleen Hoover

The blurb as seen on Goodreads:
Release Date: March 10, 2015
Publisher: Atria Books
320 Pages

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Colleen Hoover, a new novel about risking everything for love—and finding your heart somewhere between the truth and lies.

Auburn Reed has her entire life mapped out. Her goals are in sight and there’s no room for mistakes. But when she walks into a Dallas art studio in search of a job, she doesn’t expect to find a deep attraction to the enigmatic artist who works there, Owen Gentry.

For once, Auburn takes a risk and puts her heart in control, only to discover Owen is keeping major secrets from coming out. The magnitude of his past threatens to destroy everything important to Auburn, and the only way to get her life back on track is to cut Owen out of it.

The last thing Owen wants is to lose Auburn, but he can’t seem to convince her that truth is sometimes as subjective as art. All he would have to do to save their relationship is confess. But in this case, the confession could be much more destructive than the actual sin…

I feel like this is me after the end of almost all of Colleen Hoover's books.

Ok, it's not a big secret that I adore Colleen Hoover. But while I adore her and her writing, I'm not always in love with her stories. So after [book:Ugly Love|17788401], I was a little bit worried about connecting with her characters. Then I read Confess and damn...

The story begins with 15-year old Auburn Reed and her dying boyfriend, Adam, in the hospital struggling to say goodbye to each other for the last time. It's a sad, emotional scene that sets the stage for Auburn's troubled state for the rest of the novel. 5 years later, she's living in Texas, working for a job she hates and just trying to make it day by day.

Owen Gentry is an artist who owns his own studio. He designs his paintings based on anonymous confessions he receives from people. Like Auburn, he is also dealing with events from his past and uses his art to hide in. When he meets Auburn, she forces his past to come forth as well as hers.

This book was very intense and at times I couldn't help but think "this is too much for one person to have gone through", but as the events unraveled and I learned about these two, my heart just broke for them. Without giving away the story, Auburn is a very strong young woman and even though she makes some decisions that no one would agree with, when you know her reasoning, you can't help but understand.

I've also read a lot of reviews about the istalove in this book. I'm not a huge fan of instalove, I feel that it's very overused in this genre and comes off completely unbelievable. However, in Confess, I can see how people call it instalove on Owen's part, but as his past unravels, it wasn't so much instalove for me and I found myself okay with how it was portrayed.

There were also some heavy scenarios here that shocked me. Hoover touches on manipulation, abuse, substance abuse, and rape.

Hoover has a knack for writing the dramatic and sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, but she always sucks me in. It was the last chapter that really broke me and brought the whole story full circle.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

"Real" Book Challenge February Recap

Real Book Challenge on Swoony Boys Podcast and Fiction Fare

I am once again partaking in the "Real" Book Challenge hosted by the lovely ladies over at Fic Fare. I've been signed on since January but completely forgot to link up what I've read so this post will be for both January and February so I can get caught up. So here's what I've read so far:

Goal: 80
Total So Far: 9
Current Level: Real Book Newbie

I'd say that's a pretty good start. There's still time to join up! If you're interested, head on over to Fic Fare and sign on up! See you next month :)

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