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Review: Welcome to Serenity by Sherryl Woods

Welcome to Serenity Book Cover Welcome to Serenity
The Sweet Magnolias
Sherryl Woods
Romance
MIRA
November 25, 2007
Audiobook
408 / 14 Hours
Public Library
January 13, 2023 - January 22, 2023

When Jeanette Brioche helped launch The Corner Spa in Serenity, South Carolina, she found a whole lot more than professional satisfaction. She discovered the deep and loyal friendships that had been missing from her life. But even the Sweet Magnolias can’t mend the terrible rift between Jeanette and her family or persuade her that the holidays are anything more than a season of misery.

Pushed into working on the town’s much-loved annual Christmas festival, Jeanette teams up with the sexy new town manager. Tom McDonald may be the only person in Serenity who’s less enthused about family and the holidays than she is.

But with tree decorations going up on the town square and a bit of romance in the air, Jeanette and Tom take a fresh look at the past and a hopeful look into the future. Together they discover that this just may be a season of miracles after all.

My Review

Welcome to Serenity is the fourth book in The Sweet Magnolias series and the first to center around someone other than one of the three Sweet Magnolias, Maddie, Dana Sue, and Helen.

This book, surprisingly (to me anyway!), is also a Christmas book. (I really wish I hadn’t continued to delay my library hold until after Christmastime! haha)

Jeanette, who runs the spa at The Corner Spa (the spa and fitness center The Sweet Magnolias launched in book 1) is talked into representing The Corner Spa on the council for the city’s annual Christmas celebration. Unfortunately for Jeannete, because she despises Christmastime.

Meanwhile, Tom, the new city manager, is also forced onto the council by the mayor. If we thought Jeanette hated Christmas, she’s got nothing on Tom, who is a regular Scrooge!

Overall this was a cute story. It’s a typical HEA romance. What I didn’t like so much was how quickly Tom fell for Jeanette. He went from “that woman was rude to me!” to “I can’t get her out of my bed, I must convince her to date me!” If you can look past that (I did) you’ll find a pleasant sweet romance.

Both Jeanette and Tom had valid reasons for hating Christmas, and learning about and watching them overcome their pasts was enjoyable.

As a bonus, we get to know Mary Vaughn a little better. In the previous books she’s very much been painted as a villain, but now we get to see her from an outsider’s – Jeanette’s – viewpoint. And what Jeanette sees is a woman who just needs a friend. I really appreciated the friendship that developed between the two women, and I hope that if I continue with this series we will get to see more of that.

I’ve probably said it in my previous reviews, but I’ll say it again. The Sweet Magnolias books are very different from the Netflix TV Series (especially after book 1!) so if you’ve already watched the show, brace yourself for the differences in the books.

Review: Not The Witch You Wed by April Asher

Review: Not The Witch You Wed by April Asher Book Cover Review: Not The Witch You Wed by April Asher
Supernatural Singles #1
April Asher
Paranormal Romance, RomCom
St. Martin's Griffin
February 2, 2022
Audiobook
341 Pages / 12 hours, 15 minutes
Public Library
December 29, 2022 - January 12, 2023

A fake relationship between a magic-less witch and a wolf shifter turns to more in the start of a bewitching new paranormal rom-com series. Magic-less witch Violet Maxwell wants nothing to do with alpha wolf shifter Lincoln Thorne―the man who broke her fragile, teenage heart. But when the two of them are forced by arcane Supernatural Laws to find mates, Violet and Lincoln agree to fake-date their way to a fake-mating in order to conjure themselves some time. The joke’s on them. When old feelings make a reappearance―along with Violet’s magic―they both realize there’s nothing fake about their feelings. But there are old secrets and looming threats that could snatch away their happily ever after, again. One thing’s for sure: magic doesn’t make dating and love any easier. In Not the Witch You Wed, April Asher brings all the hilarity and sweet, sexy moments you love in a romantic-comedy―plus a fun dose of magic―to this spell-binding new series about being sexy, single, and supernatural in New York City.

My Review

Not The Witch You Wed is the first book in the Supernatural Singles series.

This light paranormal romance is the story of Violet, the eldest triplet in a magical triad… except, Violet doesn’t have any magic. Or does she? When she runs into her old flame, Lincoln, the man who broke her heart years ago when they were in high school, suddenly Violet’s nonexistent magic makes an appearance. And as if that isn’t stressful enough, Violet is informed that, as the eldest of the magical triad, she must find a mate and commit to a witch bond. SOON.

Meanwhile, Lincoln, the alpha of his werewolf pack, is trying to break down the alpha system within the shifter society he hates. But in the meantime, he’s getting closer and closer to his own due date to take a mate.

Lincoln doesn’t want a mate, and neither does Violet, but what they both need is to buy time. What better way than to pretend they’re courting one another?

Can Violet forgive Lincoln for breaking her heart all those years ago? Will Lincoln ever be able to tell her what really happened back then? And can they each succeed in doing so without falling in love with one another?

This was a slow start for me. I read book 2, Not Your Ex’s Hexes first and that one grabbed me from the get go. This one, because it has a little more world building (that I promise helps make book 2 make more sense!), took a little more time to get going. But once it was going, I did enjoy it quite a bit. It’s a cute, light, sexy, romance that doesn’t take itself seriously and sometimes that’s just what we need in our lives, amiright?

REVIEW: Not Your Ex’s Hexes by April Asher

Not Your Ex's Hexes Book Cover Not Your Ex's Hexes
Supernatural Singles #2
April Asher
Paranormal Romance, RomCom
St. Martin's Griffin
February 7, 2023
Ebook ARC
352
NetGalley
November 14, 2022 - December 27, 2022

In April Asher’s next Supernatural Singles novel, Not Your Ex's Hexes, a one-night-stand between a willful witch and a broody half-demon conjures an adventure that wouldn’t be complete without several magical mishaps. For her entire life, Rose Maxwell trained to become the next Prima on the Supernatural Council. Now that she’s stepped down, it’s time for this witch to focus on herself. And not think about her impulsive one-night stand with Damian Adams, a half-Demon Veterinarian who she can’t get out of her head. Neither of them is looking for a relationship. But when Rose is sentenced to community service at Damian’s animal sanctuary it becomes impossible for them to ignore their sparking attraction. A friends-with-benefits, no feelings, no strings arrangement works perfectly for them both. After a sequence of dead-end jobs, it’s not until Rose tangos with two snarly demons that she thinks she’s finally found her path. However, this puts Damian back on the periphery of a world he thought he left behind. He doesn’t approve of Rose becoming a Hunter, but if there's one thing he's learned about the stubborn witch, it was telling her not to do something was one sure-fire way to make sure she did. Working—and sleeping—together awakens feelings Damian never knew he had...and shouldn't have. Because thanks to his ex's hex, if he falls in love, he'll not only lose his heart—but his humanity.

My Review

What a cute story! The book is far sexier than the cover implies.

Rose is a witch who has just stepped down from being next in line to be Prima (head witch) not to mention just got out of a REALLY bad relationship. She’s not looking for anything permanent in her life, just some sexy fun.

Enter veterinarian Damian, a demon with a hex from his witchy ex who, like Rose, has no intention of starting anything serious.

What starts as friends with benefits soon turns into more. But can Rose and Damian defeat Damian’s hex?

Very cute book. Filled with all kinds of witchy puns and catch phrases (“Hex me!” and referring to your girls as “Bwitches” among other things.) I’ve already checked the audiobook of book 1 from the library to read Rose’s sister Violet’s story.

Special thanks to NetGalley, the author, and the publisher for a complimentary ARC in exchange for my honest review!

REVIEW: All the Dangerous Things by Stacy Willingham

All the Dangerous Things Book Cover All the Dangerous Things
Stacy Willingham
Suspense
Macmillan Audio | Minotaur Books
January 10, 2023
Audiobook
Hardcover: 336 | Audiobook: 9 Hours, 55 Minutes, 34 Seconds
NetGalley
January 6-11, 2023

Following up her instant New York Times bestseller, A Flicker in the Dark, Stacy Willingham delivers a totally gripping thriller about a desperate mother with a troubled past in All the Dangerous Things. One year ago, Isabelle Drake's life changed forever: her toddler son, Mason, was taken out of his crib in the middle of the night while she and her husband were asleep in the next room. With little evidence and few leads for the police to chase, the case quickly went cold. However, Isabelle cannot rest until Mason is returned to her—literally. Except for the occasional catnap or small blackout where she loses track of time, she hasn’t slept in a year. Isabelle's entire existence now revolves around finding him, but she knows she can’t go on this way forever. In hopes of jarring loose a new witness or buried clue, she agrees to be interviewed by a true-crime podcaster—but his interest in Isabelle's past makes her nervous. His incessant questioning paired with her severe insomnia has brought up uncomfortable memories from her own childhood, making Isabelle start to doubt her recollection of the night of Mason’s disappearance, as well as second-guess who she can trust... including herself. But she is determined to figure out the truth no matter where it leads.

My Review

Wow. I just finished this audiobook and I’m still trying to process everything I listened to.
What begins as a search for a missing son, turns into a journey into the secrets we all carry.

What a wild ride.

As a mother myself, my heart ached for Isabelle. I can only imagine what it must be like to have your child go missing.

But this book is so much more. As the author says in the afterword, this book is the story of women. All of the women in the book have their own secrets and complicated histories.

I really can’t say a lot about this book without spoiling the ending or the journey. I will tell you this, the journey is amazing and the ending is satisfying. I lost count of the number of times I gasped in shock as another theory about what happened to little Mason, or what’s happening in Isabelle’s backstory, came to light.

This book is absolutely worth the read. (Or even better, the listen! The audiobook narrator did a great job, I almost forgot it was one woman speaking for each of the different characters! Including children and men!)

Thank you Netgalley, the author, and the publisher for an advanced release copy of this audiobook.

REVIEW: Spies, Lies, and Allies by Lisa Brown Roberts






Spies, Lies, and Allies Book Cover




Spies, Lies, and Allies





Lisa Brown Roberts





YA Contemporary Romance




Entangled Teen




E-ARC



Summers are supposed to be fun, right? Not mine. I’ve got a job at my dad’s company, which is sponsoring a college scholarship competition. I just found out that, in addition to my job assisting the competing interns, I’m supposed to vote for the winner. Totally not what I signed up for.

My boss is running the competition like it’s an episode of Survivor. Then there’s Carlos, who is, well, very distracting––in a good way. But I can’t even think about him like that because fraternizing on the job means instant disqualification for the intern involved.

As if that’s not enough, an anonymous informant with insider intel is trying to sabotage my dad’s company on social media...and I’m afraid it's working.

Much as I’d love to quit, I can’t. Kristoffs Never Quit is our family motto. I just hope there’s more than one survivor by the end of this summer.

My Review

Omigosh! This was such a fun book!

A word of warning: This book is chalk full (CORRECT PHRASE?) of nerdy Star Wars references and IT. IS. AWESOME!

All Laurel wants is to be close to her dad again. He’s a workaholic, so she thinks, what a better way to spend time with him than as a summer intern at his company? If nothing else they’ll have an hour long ride in the car to bond and maybe a chance to spend lunch together. After begging and begging, her dad finally gives in. But there’s a condition. Laurel will be an  assistant to the interns, and she will be spying on them. Because all of the interns are competing for a crazy awesome scholarship.

But as the daughter of the boss, Laurel feels like a fraud. She doesnt fit in with the other interns. And as soon as the rules are laid out, she wonders how she will survive the summer. The worst rule of all, no fraternizing with the interns or they will lose their chance at the scholarship. Enter NAME. He’s cute and Laurel begins to fall for him, after disliking him for a while.

I love that this was not an instalove story. The romance was backseat to the plot, but still a big part. It’s a story of love, father/daughter relationships, and just growing up. Really the best part was all the Star Wars mentions though. So funny.

This is definitely a teen romance I recommend for all YA contemporary fans.


Quotes

(Believe it or not, I scaled back on the number of quotes I had highlighted. This book is hilarious and awesome!)

“So, what am I doing for the Empire this summer? Plotting the destruction of peaceful planets like Alderaan?” I thought a Star Wars joke might be a fun way to start our first morning as coworkers, but Dad Vader doesn’t look amused.
“I’m not the enemy, Laurel,” Dad snaps. “Also, I’m your boss, so watch it.”

It’s cliché, crushing on the quarterback, but I think it’s a high school requirement, like taking U.S. History.

 

“Oh,” Dad says. “I almost forgot. Laurel, please introduce yourself.” Way to make me feel like chopped liver, Dad Vader. I’ll remember this when the Rebels storm the Death Star.

I wish I was like Rey in The Force Awakens, brave and tough. Or Princess Leia, snarky and brilliant. But right now, I feel like a young Anakin Skywalker, when no one thought he was capable of piloting his own Podracer, let alone winning a race.

Trish is finished so I take her place, relieved to be interacting with an inanimate object. I expect her to leave as my cappuccino brews, but she doesn’t. She watches me like a hawk stalking a baby rabbit. I hope she kills me fast.

“Clever I am. Surprised she will be.”
“Dad, you’re not Yoda. How many times do we have to go over this?”

We stare at each other. It’s not one of those Hollywood omigod-we’re-going-to-kiss moments. Instead it’s awkward and uncomfortable. I glance around, noticing we’re the last ones on the rooftop. How did that happen?

“Number one: introduction.” He glances up and grins. “We did that on the first day, in case you forgot. I even got your name right, unlike some interns.”
I roll my eyes and try not to reward him with a smile. He can sense victory, though, because his grin deepens in a way I’ve never seen. Wait—does he have two dimples? This is completely unfair.


Apology

I was supposed to partake in a blog tour for this amazing book. It was read in time, I even had the review written up the day I finished it…. but I didn’t schedule ahead of time, and then I got the flu. I’m a month late getting this posted and I feel really guilty for that, but hopefully the author, publisher, and blog coordinators understand that sometimes crap happens and it is what it is. Sorry. 🙁

 

REVIEW: The Memory of Fire by Callie Bates






The Memory of Fire Book Cover




The Memory of Fire




The Waking Land #2





Callie Bates





YA Fantasy




Del Rey / Random House




June 5, 2018




Digital ARC




464




NetGalley




March 12 - 14, 2018



The land has awoken, and news of magic's rebirth has traveled across the sea. Jahan, a daring noble who has been concealing his powers, is finally ready to stop hiding. Now he returns to the imperial capital, where the use of magic carries a death sentence. There, he must face his dark past, learn to embrace his gifts, and prevent an all-out war across the kingdoms.

My Review

Last year I read and fell in love with The Waking Lands. When I learned there was a sequel coming (and a third book next year! SCORE!) I HAD to get my hands on it.

The Waking Lands was told from El’s POV and we were introduced to Jahan, who I quickly fell in love with. (He has a bit of an Adrian Ivashkov thing going on, if you’ve read the Vampire Academy and/or Bloodlines series by Richelle Mead you know what I’m talking about. Totally swoon-worth!)

So quick recap – this is a fantasy series in which magic is a crime and anyone caught practicing is sentenced to a fate worse than death. The magic of the land was awakened in the first book (get it? The Waking Land?). That’s basically what you need to know.

The Memory of Fire is Jahan’s story and picks up after the events of The Waking Lands. We learn so much about his past, especially his childhood. His memories were tampered with by the witch who trained him (against his will) and all he knows is that he has to get his brothers away from her. But when he returns to his adopted homeland in an attempt to act as emissary or ambassador on behalf of El’s land, nothing goes as he expects it to. Due to his alliance with El, he is no longer welcome in his former home. Now he must try to make peace between the two countries and keep himself alive.

I absolutely loved the characters and the entire storyline in this series. I plan to get a copy of the books in print for a permanent home on my shelf. Highly recommended for fans of fantasy! (Bonus: This series has GORGEOUS covers!)


Quotes

“It’s too dangerous. If you stay here, we can fight together.”
“But if I go to Paladis, I can fight for you.”

My secrets are as comfortable to me as a second skin. But that’s not the way it is for Elanna, who holds up truth like a banner.

When she kisses me gently, lightly, I think I can taste the bittersweet tang of tears on her lips. Or maybe the tears are my own.

It seems as if no matter how hard I try to help my brothers, I can never save them.

I came here to win peace for Elanna. I didn’t come here to lead a revolt—not one doomed to failure.

It takes all of my power not to lunge onto the carpet and seize her. But what would I do? I can’t sweep her away like a prince in a fairy tale. Not in front of the entire imperial court. Not with all the witch stones and bells.

Perhaps this is why I was never able to give El the commitment she wants, the honesty she deserves. Because I am not a whole person, and I will never be. Madiya took that from me, but somehow I can’t shake the feeling that it’s my fault. That I did something to deserve it.


My (Writing) Life

Oh boy, it’s been a helluva month! I spent much of May with an awful flu bug. I missed five days of work and spent a week sleeping on the couch so that maybe The Husband could get some peace. It was awful, I thought I was going to die, and nothing could be worse. (I’m a bit melodramatic…. writer ya know?)

I’m finally over that, but barely a week later and I injured my back. Not sure how, but I did it. It was starting to feel better, then like an idiot, I tried to lift a too-heavy bag of potting soil from a shopping cart and – POP! CRACK! – there went my back. Way worse than before. I spent the entire weekend in bed, unable to move, crawling from my bed to the bathroom and kitchen. At my dads recommendation, I saw his chiropractor on Monday and she aligned my hips. My lower back muscles are a solid knot though, and I’m on a steady diet of ibuprofen and a muscle relaxer at night. I’m doing a few stretches she prescribed as well. I’m hoping she can do a little more tomorrow at my next appointment.

So, because of all that, I hope you can forgive me for staying away so long! Even now, sitting at the computer is uncomfortable, but I’m woefully behind on my reviews and I need to get them posted.

I have decided to make a change as far as the blog goes. From now on I only plan to post YA reviews. I know I don’t post a lot of non-YA reviews, but now it’ll just be YA. I figure, I write YA, reading YA is my passion, it just makes sense.

In my writing world…. I didn’t do any while I had that flu. I was miserable and binged TV shows on the ABC Freefom app (all of Siren, Shadowhunters seasons 2-3, and Famous in Love season 2). The back injury has been good for writing though. My goal for JuNoWriMo isn’t 50k words, but rather finding time to write every day. I’ve missed two days, but I’m still improving from where I’ve been before. My YA contemporary romance (code name SIGA) is coming along nicely. I’m getting really close to the end of the first draft. I already have a lot of things I need to add/change/expand upon when I start working on the second draft though, but I’m actually mostly excited for that.

If you were looking for either of my novella’s at other retailers, I’m happy to say that Peace in Flames is available everywhere now! Amazon, B&N, iBooks, Kobo, Google Play, and I’m working on getting it into OverDrive, Scribd, and a couple other vendors. I’ve also got it available to buy in PRINT at Amazon, B&N, and Lulu. For the time being, Summer of Peace is still in Kindle Unlimited, but on July 28 will be available everywhere.

That’s about it for now. Hoping to get some more reviews posted soon. But we’ll see. You know me, always busy busy!

REVIEW: Meet Me There by Judy Corry






Meet Me There Book Cover




Meet Me There




Ridgewater High Romance #1





Judy Corry





YA Contemporary Romance




March 6, 2018




Kindle




266




Amazon




April 12-13, 2018



A dark Chemistry lab. A fake British accent. It's all fun and games until somebody falls in love.

When sixteen-year-old, Ashlyn Brooks, runs into a sweet British guy in the dark Chemistry lab, she has no idea she's actually sitting in the pitch black room with her longtime rival, Luke Davenport. She also doesn't know that she's stepped into another one of the football captain's pranks. It isn't long before she's sharing things she's never told anyone, and starting to fall for the mysterious guy with a sexy accent who seems to understand her in a way no one ever has before.

When Luke's mom dies the summer before his senior year, he turns to pranking Ashlyn to keep his mind off his loss. But the more he gets to know her, the more he regrets using his fake British accent in the first place. Soon Luke is walking the thin line of keeping his lies a secret and wishing he could tell her that the boy she's falling for is really him.

Meet Me There is a standalone novel in The Ridgewater High series, a collection of simmering YA contemporary romances. If you like sweet romance with ballad-worthy chemistry, swoony kisses and endearing characters then you'll love Judy Corry's latest book.

Current Books in the series:
Meet Me There (Ashlyn and Luke's story)
Don't Forget Me (Eliana and Jess's story)

My Review

I’m pretty sure this is my first book by Judy Corry, and I don’t think it will be my last. This is also the first book I’ve read in a while that I bought on a whim. I think I saw the cover or a teaser or something on Twitter, clicked the link for Amazon, skimmed the preview, and the next thing I know I’d one clicked.

I’m sure glad I did, too, because Meet Me There was an absolute treat! My Kindle read this to me over the course of two days (probably 6.5 hours?) at work. (Yeah, I know, my job is amazing.)

I bought the book because the concept reeled me in. A couple of teens who have had a prank rivalry going on? Sound awesome! A British accent? Like 99% of all American girls, I swooned a little.

So yeah, you’ve got Ashlyn the dancer who’s falling for this mystery British boy, and you’ve got Luke, the cute football player who’s always pranking her and also pretending to be said British boy. As they’re falling for each other with his pretend identity, she’s enlisted to teach him to dance for a fundraiser event. Obviously hijinks and swoon-worthy moments are going to ensure.

Seriously though, scroll up and read the blurb if you skipped it. This book is absolutely adorable and is pretty much guaranteed to leave you with a smile on your face. I wish I had written this book. Wait, no, I don’t. Because then I wouldn’t have had the pleasure of reading this book. But really, if you love sweet romance stories featuring realistic characters with steamy chemistry, give this book a try.

Once I’m caught up on my backlist a little more I’m sure I’ll somehow find my way back to Amazon to pick up the second book in this series, Don’t Forget Me.


Quotes

(Confession – I was SO into this book as I was listening at work that for the first half I forgot to highlight good quotes! Oops!)

British Boy’s kiss wasn’t hurried and rushed like the other guys I’d kissed in the past. His hands didn’t try wandering to places I didn’t want them to go. Instead, he made me feel like I was special, like we had all the time in the world to get to know each other better. Like we had more than just today to kiss. And suddenly, I knew these few minutes wouldn’t be nearly long enough.


Dang. I bit my lip. His arms were definitely not made of air. They were made from heaven itself.


“You seem cheerful. Something good happen this morning at drill practice?” Her smile made me uneasy. Had she figured out the truth somehow and was just being really sweet before she smacked me?

“Not unless you call being chewed out by your coach for dancing too sloppily good.” She sighed.

“Nope, not my kind of fun. I’m pretty sure I know what you’re talking about. Just last week, my dance coach told me my muscles were made of air and that I couldn’t dance to save my life.”


My (Writing) Life

I’m still slowly but surely writing my new YA contemporary romance, code name SIGA. It’s coming along, but I’m having this problem where I’m having all these ideas for the second book…. #WriterProblems

In other news, I was feeling super stressed with too much on my plate, but I’m suddenly feeling lighter. I think I was stressing, without realizing it, about being a guest presenter at an RWA meeting yesterday. Now that I’m done with that I’m feeling better. And before that I was stressing about getting my house ready for my daughter’s birthday party. Then we got hit with a blizzard. In April. (Someone PLEASE remind me why I live in this frozen wasteland??? Oh, right… family… and amazing summers!) Anyway, that’s postponed for end of May. So that stress will return in a couple weeks!

I’ve also been keeping busy beta reading for the amazing Rachel Walter. I envy her ability to create such flawed and awesome characters.

In case you’re not counting down the days as I am, FIVE MORE DAYS until the release of Summer of Peace! I’m more than a little excited you guys. I’ve got a blog tour starting Friday (I still open slots if any of you are bloggers and interested – shoot me a message!) JoJo is my favorite character I’ve published to date. (My hero from SIGA is my all time favorite character, sorry JoJo.) And Matt is pretty swoon-worthy IMO. I can’t wait for everyone to read their story.

I’m setting a goal for myself to post a review once a week, on my one day off work. (Yeah, the crappy thing about working two jobs is that I only have one day off each week now! That’ll change come summer though, I’m cutting back my hours at the hotel!)

So, hopefully you’ll see me again next Saturday on my day off! (Although I’m out of town most of the day, so we’ll see if it happens!)

 

REVIEW: Breaking The Ice by Julie Cross






Breaking the Ice Book Cover




Breaking the Ice




Juniper Falls #2





Julie Cross





YA Contemporary Romance




Entangled Teen




December 26, 2017




E-ARC




341




NetGalley




Beat The Backlist 2018




January 21-23, 2018



The second book in the Juniper Falls series from NY Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Julie Cross, perfect for fans of Miranda Kenneally and Abbi Glines.

Haley Stevenson seems like she’s got it all together: cheer captain, “Princess” of Juniper Falls, and voted Most Likely to Get Things Done. But below the surface, she’s struggling with a less-than-stellar GPA and still reeling from the loss of her first love. Repeating her Civics class during summer school is her chance to Get Things Done, not angst over boys. In fact, she’s sworn them off completely until college.

Fletcher Scott is happy to keep a low profile around Juniper Falls. He’s always been the invisible guy, warming the bench on the hockey team and moonlighting at a job that would make his grandma blush. Suddenly, though, he’s finding he wants more: more time on the ice, and more time with his infuriatingly perfect summer-school study partner.

But leave it to a girl who requires perfection to shake up a boy who’s ready to break all the rules.

My Review

This is my third YA hockey book, though the content of this one feels more like a NA book. I don’t even like hockey, but all of these fabulous hockey themed books make me wish I did!

This is very much a hate to love romance. Fletcher just wants to be left alone and Haley just wants to pass her summer school class. Haley wants to use Fletcher for his smarts, while Fletcher resigns himself to trying to help his cousin, who’s got a huge crush on Haley, get some face time with her. Somehow this unlikely couple falls in love.

Haley is a pretty straight forward character. You love her or you hate her. Fletcher is frustrating because he’s very secretive and harbors animosity toward his town due to rumors about both his parents and grandparents. He has a top secret job, which will keep you guessing the entire time until the job is revealed.

Overall this was an incredibly fun, sweet, and sexy book which I devoured. I will absolutely be looking for more books from Julie Cross in the future.

Due to some of the sexual content in this book I would recommend this one for upper-teen and adult readers.


Quotes

What do I know about Haley Stevenson? Probably not nearly as much as she assumes. First off, she really did shove Cheerios up my nose when we were three.

 

So Fletcher Scott is nice to look at. Big deal. Pull yourself together, Haley.

“We’re corrupting a fifteen-year-old. Maybe we should go to church.”

I’ve only practiced with varsity for a total of eight days now, but I’ve already figured out that Coach is hardest on the most talented players. I’m not on his hate list. And I need to be. Somehow.

Before I have a chance to absorb the fact that I’ve just signed up to spend extra time with the world’s most infuriating girl, I focus on a plan of action—two birds with one stone and all that shit.

“I’m gonna go in there…” I point a finger at the door. “And I’m going to talk to your cousin because you’re right, I do like helping people. But as far as the project goes, you don’t get to do it by yourself. You’re stuck with me. Consider it your punishment for being an asshole.”

I fight the urge to throw my phone across the playground. He’s got the brooding-asshole act down a little too well. And yet, part of me wants to prod him some more, if only to get another glimpse of Other Fletcher—the one without so many walls.
How can someone be so infuriating and interesting at the same time?

Jamie skids to a stop and takes in both of us. “What the hell is going on?”
“Fletcher’s pregnant,” Haley says, straight-faced.
I nod. “I am.”

Falling for Haley? How is that possible? We haven’t done anything except make out. Twice. Of course, there’re all the times I wished we were kissing, wished we were doing more than kissing. And right now, we’ve been apart for twenty minutes and I already want to see her again.
Jesus Christ, I’m screwed.


My (Writing) Life

It’s been a crazy month you guys. If you read my previews review you may remember that I was hired for a new job. This is on top of my work for indie press Melange Books, and my job as a hotel front desk agent. So basically I have three jobs now. If you count being a mom, that’s four. And keeping my house from falling apart, that’s five. So yeah, I have like 8,000 jobs right now. Life is crazy.

To add to all the stress of too many jobs, the day I STARTED my new job, I had to bring my van in because it was misbehaving. The next day I got word that my transmission is shot. So yeah, I started a new job and basically the same day learned that my mode of transportation was gone. My parents are amazing though, so I was able to borrow my dad’s car for two full weeks. That’s how long it took me to find a replacement vehicle (because there’s zero sense in putting a new transmission in a 2004 minivan!) So yeah, I have a new (used) car and I’m sort of in love. It’s a 2012 Kia Sorento. The color is “White Sand Beige”, which I hated in the pictures… hated a little less when we test drove it… and now that it’s mine the color is growing on me. Now I have my first ever car payment. ((sobs))

In the writing world I’m trying to get back into writing (almost) daily. Now that Peace in Flames is out for public consumption, and Summer of Peace is up for preorder, all of my writing energy is going into Something I’m Good At. This YA romance is so much fun. When it’s ready (summer? I hope?) I hope everyone loves my hero, Kane, as much as I do. (It’s totally normal to a little crush on your own character, right? …RIGHT???)

So, in short, my schedule is jam packed. And because I now have a car payment, I can’t exactly quit my hotel job yet. (Plus I like the discounted hotel rooms!) I have a ton of reviews to post and write. My reading has slowed down a little, but not horribly so. Hopefully I can get into the swing of carving time to post at least weekly if not more often. Anything’s better than this once a month crap, right????

So if you made it through all that, you should go buy/preorder my Peace Novellas. ((wink))

 

REVIEW: Hello Again by Brenda Novak






Hello Again Book Cover




Hello Again




The Evelyn Talbot Chronicles #2





Brenda Novak





Romantic Thriller




St. Martin's Press




October 3, 2017




E-ARC




384




NetGalley




October 13 - 22, 2017



SHE CAN MAKE SENSE OF A COMPLEX CRIMINAL MIND.
Evelyn Talbot, a psychiatrist at a maximum-security prison in Alaska, studies some of the world's worst serial killers. But she's about to meet her most elusive patient at Hanover House yet: Dr. Lyman Bishop, AKA the Zombie Maker given his fondness for performing ice-pick lobotomies on his victims. A brilliant cancer researcher, Bishop is either the most cunning psychopath Evelyn has ever encountered--or he is wrongly convicted.

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN A CRIMINAL CAN SEE INTO HER OWN?
When a new ice-pick fatality occurs, it seems Bishop really was wrongly convicted. Except...Evelyn has a personal connection to the victim and that suggests the killer may be someone from her own past: Jasper Moore, her high school boyfriend who tortured her and left her for dead when she was only sixteen. Jasper also murdered three of her friends--and was never caught. Is he trying to send a message with this copycat crime? The only thing Evelyn knows for sure is that if Jasper is on her trail, she might not be able to escape again . . .

My Review

I think Hello Again might be even better than the first book in the Evelyn Talbot series. Seriously, I thought the stakes were great in that book, but it had nothing on this one!

I think you could jump into this book without reading the previous, but I do recommend reading the first. Because it was amazing. And you’ll better understand the characters and their motives.

So in Hello Again, Evelyn and Amarok are still together, and things start out the same as the previous book, with Evelyn still not ready to fully commit. Their relationship does start to change though, but I won’t spoil how.

Meanwhile, Amarok has been watching for any signs that Jasper, the man who brutally tortured and left Evelyn for dead when she was 16, is still killing. When he thinks he might have found him, he sets off for the Southwest USA, leaving Evelyn alone in Alaska, dealing with her latest psychopath who has you questioning his innocence the whole time…

What’s really cool about this book is that we get a bigger peek into Jasper’s head, and let me tell you, he is a twisted mofo! (Just see the quote below!)

This is a page turner, just like the first book. I had a hard time putting it down. And just like the first book, each chapter starts with a quotation from a real serial killer, some more known than other, all equally crazed.

If you like romantic thrillers – or just thrillers in general – read this series!!!


Quotes

“Let’s talk about something else,” she said. “I can tell this is upsetting you.”
“I would upset anybody!” He snapped. “Which is why I worry about you, being constantly immersed in details of the worst of human behavior.”

He shoved a hand through his hair. “I hope this goes my way.”
“Or…”
“I’ll find out what it feels like to have my heart broken, something I’ve managed to avoid for thirty years.”

Some people—most of Alaska—loved San Diego. But he wasn’t overly impressed. He preferred Alaska.

Amarok seemed determined. He’d made a bold move, flying all the way to San Diego to approach Stanley and Maureen. One that required nerve. And one for which Jasper was determined to make him pay dearly.

Everything they had should belong to him someday and would have if only Evelyn had died in that shack like she was supposed to. She’d ruined his life—and deserved what she was going to get.

“There are too many people in the world. I actually perform a vital function. As far as I’m concerned, there needs to be more killers like me.”


My (Writing) Life

Wow, I’m literally the worst.

It’s been over a MONTH since I last posted! It’s been a crazy few weeks, so I’m going to use that as my excuse! ((wink))

So, what’s new? PEACE IN FLAMES WENT LIVE!!! You can snag your very own copy from Amazon HERE! If you’re in Kindle Unlimited you can save yourself the 99c and read for free. If you don’t know what the book is about I’ll give you the short explanation: High School + Boy Obsessed With Girl + Arson = Peace in Flames.

In other news I’m making my way through the FINAL draft of SUMMER OF PEACE, my New Adult Romance (stand alone) follow up to PEACE IN FLAMES. I’ve had so many drafts of this book it’s not even funny. Something was always missing or a little off, but I think I’m finally almost there and happy with the end result!

Once I finish this draft and send it off to my editor, I’m going to re-read the 16k words I have written for my full length YA romance Something I’m Good At and get back to work on that story. I think you guys are going to love these characters. My hero, Kane, is absolutely hilarious.

As for my LIFE, we’re painfully short staffed at my hotel job which means everything is a thousand times more stressful. I’ve been working every weekend, usually around 30 hours in those three days, and then spending all my “free” time working on my publishing job and trying to find time to write. I’m pretty sure I still have a husband and two kids, I just rarely see them! Actually, The Husband and I had a date night last Thursday which was much needed, but sent me even further behind with my at home work. Ugh.

As of yesterday I accepted a NEW JOB ((HAPPY DANCE)) for a local company. Minimal customer interaction. Four hours per day. Five days per week. Much better money than I’m making at my hotel job. So… I cut back my hours at the hotel and I’m hoping I’ll be able to find a better work/life balance with this new position.

I’ll try not to stay away for so long next time. I’m not reading as much as I’d like to, since I’m really focusing on writing more, but I’ve got a back log of reviews to get posted. Like this one I’m posting today. That I read in last few months of 2017….

So, go grab yourself a copy of PEACE IN FLAMES, leave a review whether you loved it, hated it, or just thought it was meh, and I’ll see ya next time!

REVIEW: Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen






Along for the Ride Book Cover




Along for the Ride





Sarah Dessen





YA Contemporary Romance




Viking Books for Young Readers




June 16, 2009




Hardcover




383




Half Price Books




Beat The Backlist 2018




January 1 - 12, 2018



It’s been so long since Auden slept at night. Ever since her parents’ divorce—or since the fighting started. Now she has the chance to spend a carefree summer with her dad and his new family in the charming beach town where they live.

A job in a clothes boutique introduces Auden to the world of girls: their talk, their friendship, their crushes. She missed out on all that, too busy being the perfect daughter to her demanding mother. Then she meets Eli, an intriguing loner and a fellow insomniac who becomes her guide to the nocturnal world of the town. Together they embark on parallel quests: for Auden, to experience the carefree teenage life she’s been denied; for Eli, to come to terms with the guilt he feels for the death of a friend.

In her signature pitch-perfect style, Sarah Dessen explores the hearts of two lonely people learning to connect.

Review

This was a challenging book to get into. All of the characters were pretty awful and it was hard to care about them. But then something magical happened. Somewhere at around the halfway point this book became difficult to put down. Suddenly I started to see little changes in the heroine, Auden, and I started to care what happened.

On the surface this is a book about a girl who spends the summer between high school and college with her dad and step-mom at their house in a little beach town. She finds friends and romance. But it’s actually much deeper.

Let’s talk about Auden. She’s the youngest of two children and because her parents “needed” her to be quiet and good as a child, she was. She never had a real childhood. She never had close friends, the color pink was frowned upon, and boys were a distraction to her studies — useless.

So when Auden moves in with her dad and step-mother, Heidi, for the summer, she’s dreading having to be around her perky pink-clad step-mother, Heidi. Not to mention the fact that her new baby half-sister NEVER. STOPS. CRYING.

When her parents were fighting, before the divorce, Auden stopped sleeping at night, instead she spent her nights hanging out at an all night diner. Now in the new beach town, she must find new ways to fill her nights. Soon after her arrival, she connects with the mysterious Eli. A friendship blossoms and, upon learning of Auden’s lack of a childhood, he’s determined to give her as many of those experiences as he can before she starts college in the fall.

On the surface, this is a book where not a lot happens. There’s a lot of repetition with the nightly activities between Auden and Eli, plus her job at Heidi’s store, but as Eli takes her on her quest, and things at home become shaky, Auden begins to change.

Let’s talk about the side characters for a second. They were great and awful and a big part of what makes Auden who she is. Her mother is a strong, independent, and powerful woman — very women’s rights and down with the patriarchy. Her dad is a failed writer. Her brother is a free spirit who has spent the last two years mooching off their parents backpacking through Europe.

Her mom comes across as cold-hearted and just mean. She seems to expect Auden to be a carbon copy of herself. Her dad is awful. He’s so selfish and ignorant.

But the people Auden meets in the beach town are amazing.

My main takeaway themes from this book are:

Don’t judge a book by it’s cover — there is far more to a person than what you see on the surface.

People can change — Every person close to Auden in this book showed signs of changing for the better. Even the most unredeemable characters take steps toward redemption.

Coming of Age — A huge theme in this book was Auden realizing who she is without her parents. When she separates herself from them and follows what feels is right in her own heart, who is she really? Is she a carbon copy of her mother? Or as selfish as her dad?

This review is getting WAY too long. For a book I really could have cared less about in the beginning, I’m shocked at how much I enjoyed this.

So, I’ll say my tiny bit of negatives and end this.

  1. The beginning dragged and a critical scene that was referenced multiple times later is glossed over so quickly that it either should have been cut or described.
  1. Very early on her dad and step-mom’s baby is called her stepsister. Grr! She’s her half-sister! Half and Step are VERY different things!!!
  2. I’d liked to have seen more romantic bits with Eli. Personal preference.

Even with those couple negatives, this is still a solid 4 star book for me. The second half was so enjoyable I nearly forgot how bored I was during the first half. I’ll definitely be reading more Sarah Dessen in the future.


Quotes

I was such a smart kid, I should have figured out that the only way to really get my parents’ attention was to disappoint them or fail. But by the time I realized that, succeeding was already a habit too ingrained to break.

There is really nothing more intimidating than approaching a group of girls who have already made up their minds about you. It’s like walking a plank, no way to go but down.

Since I had no rain jacket, I had to borrow one from Heidi, who offered me three colors: bright pink, light pink, and, in her words, “dusty pink,” whatever that meant. I picked the light one, yet still felt positively radioactive as I walked down the gray, wet sidewalk, boldly contrasting with everything about me.

“Who says you have to be either smart or pretty, into girly stuff or sports? Life shouldn’t be about the either/or. We are capable of more than that, you know?”

“Look. I just…”
But no words followed. I just let this hang there, open-ended, waiting for him to jump in, finish it, do the hard part for me. It was my dad’s signature trick, and now I understood why. It was so much easier than having to say what you didn’t want to aloud.

I’d thought I knew so much when I’d arrived here, the smartest girl in the room. But I’d been wrong.


My (Writing) Life

I was going to be GOOD this week and post LOTS of my outstanding reviews. But then I didn’t. I did however get a LOT of my reviews posted at vendors, reviews that are already on the blog and Goodreads, and also submitted to NetGalley. There’s still a ways to go before I’m caught up, but I feel less stressed.

What else… I’m still slogging through reading Animal Farm, but I’m motivated to finish now because next up is going to be The Mummy by Anne Rice. I’ve got the sequel on my old phone from Penguin First Reads to read and I want to refresh my memory by re-reading The Mummy. It’s been a good decade since I first read it!

I’m making slow progress on SOMETHING I’M GOOD AT but that’s mostly right now because I decided to change the book from past tense to present. I usually hate present tense, but it’s starting to grow on me and I think it’ll really help with this particular series of books. (Three books planned at the moment, but I may expand. Who knows!)

I’m 100% certain I will not be posting any other reviews this weekend. It’s the Super Bowl weekend, which I could care less about, but the Super Bowl happens to be in my city this year and I happen to work at a hotel. It’s going to be a full house folks! (Best part of the Super Bowl being in town? One of my good friends demanding that anyone with any info on Justin Timberlake’s whereabouts contact her IMMEDIATELY!) But yeah, I’m working crazy long hours (just like last weekend!) and will be basically dead come Sunday night.

(Psst! Still looking for people who may be interested in reading and reviewing – or even doing a release day blast for – PEACE IN FLAMES my upper YA contemporary romance! Shoot me a message or leave a comment on the post.)