Tag Archive | Contemporary Romance

REVIEW: Live Fast, Die Young by Vanessa Barneveld

Live Fast, Die Young Book Cover Live Fast, Die Young
Vanessa Barneveld
Contemporary YA Romance
September 27, 2016
Kindle
118
Amazon
Beat The Backlist
August 5, 2017

Molly Corbett can’t stand seeing her childhood pal Alex Gibson destroy himself. He’s gone from straight-A student to rebel without a cause. With so much at stake, some serious interference is called for—or at least Micromanaging Molly thinks so. Alex needs to get back on the path to the Ivy League. But the harder Molly pushes Alex, the harder he pushes back.

Alex has a secret. Well, two secrets. Number one: He has terminal melanoma. With six months to live, Alex hasn’t got a second to waste. And hanging around hospitals when his friends think he’s cutting school definitely counts as wasted time. Instead, he’s going to drop out, surf, drive fast cars…and finally put secret number two out there. He’s in love with Molly and he’s going to tell her before it’s too late.

My Review

If ever there was a book that made me think twice about skipping the sunscreen, it was this one.

I’ve been downloading a lot of free books lately from all those newsletter full of book deals. So many that I started to feel guilty. So, I took a break from my ARC reading and chose a book at random from my Kindle backlog. I chose this one because I liked the title and the cover looked fun. Perfect for a summer read. Bonus it was a novella!

Then I started and oh boy…

Live Fast, Die Young is an emotionally turbulent novella. Alex has terminal cancer (melanoma) and doesn’t want anyone to know. Not even his best friend, Molly, the girl he’s also in love with. He doesn’t want people to look at him differently. So, he keeps his cancer a secret and vows to live what’s left of his life to the fullest.

This story is tragic and beautiful. It can be hard to connect to characters in novellas sometimes because of the limited number of pages you have to get to know them. Vanessa Barneveld portrayed these characters seamlessly. I got to know them and grew to care for them.

The only disappointment I had was that this book, which I got as an Amazon freebie, wasn’t a prequel! I was really hoping to go buy the next book, in which Alex and Molly work to complete Alex’s bucket list before his time runs out. Or to watch Molly learn to love again after Alex’s death. I’m uber bummed that this wasn’t the case. I will however be on the lookout for more from his author.

So, should you read the book? If you want a short, well-written, tragically beautiful story look no further. If books about cancer trigger you, maybe leave this one alone.


QUOTES

Kip’s tongue flicks out and laps sauce off the corner of his lips. Could this guy be any more reptilian? I shudder.


“…But right now? I’m thinking I want to be like James Dean. You know, live fast, die young. Do things at full speed and go out with a spectacular crash.”


This is what dying feels like. When your heart pounds hard enough to crack a rib. When loud, squealing noises echo from an unseen source. When you look around and the world distorts, fades to black. When the last thing your brain registers is the thud of your head hitting the linoleum.


I don’t even remember the exact moment I fell in love with her, but I can’t imagine being out of love with her. Yet I don’t want Molly to fall in love with me. Not when I’ve got a death sentence.


My (Writing) Life

I’m a terrible, horrible person. Instead of doing real work a couple nights ago, or going to bed like I should have, I stayed up late mocking up two book covers. For myself. For books that don’t exist yet. Except very loosely in my head. To go along with another book cover I mocked up for myself. So.. yeah. I’ve pretty much got myself committed to at least a three book YA contemporary romance series, each book a standalone. Hopefully I’ll get started on that by early 2018, if not sooner.

In other news, edits on Peace in Flames are going well. And re-writes on Summer of Peace are moving along nicely as well. A new plot twist popped into my head, so hopefully that works out. I’m very excited to share these novellas with you all.

Here’s a little teaser from Peace in Flames.
(Peace in Flames is Valerie and Liam’s story. Summer of Peace is JoJo and Matt’s story.)

REVIEW: Paper Hearts by Ali Novak

Paper Hearts Book Cover Paper Hearts
The Heartbreakers Chronicles #2
Ali Novak
YA Romance
Sourcebooks Fire
July 4, 2017 (Originally published 2014)
E-ARC
384
NetGalley
Beat The Backlist
June 1-3, 2017

"I'm sorry," he said, slowly untying the ribbon that held his mask in place. "It's just-I didn't want you to think of me any differently."

Somehow I kept my mouth from falling open. I knew his face, but my mind couldn't accept that he was the person looking down at me.

"My real name is Alec."

Felicity has her entire future planned. Ever since her older sister ran away, she's had the full weight of her mother's expectations on her shoulders. So she works hard to get straight As and save for college.

Except sometimes the best things in life are unplanned-like when Felicity meets a handsome, masked stranger while she is volunteering at a charity masquerade ball. She never thought he'd flirt with her. And she certainly never thought he'd turn out to be a member of the world-famous Heartbreakers band, Alec.

Then Felicity uncovers a shocking family secret. Suddenly, she, Alec, and her two best friends are off on a road trip to find Felicity's missing sister. And she's about to discover that unexpected turns have a peculiar way of landing her right where she needs to be...

My Review

This book sounded way too cute to resist requesting from NetGalley. Lucky for me, I was approved, and shortly thereafter dove in. Let me tell you, the story is as cute as the cover!

I was once a fangirl who dreamed of falling in love with the cute boys in the boybands I obsessed over. Lucky Felicity in this story actually gets the chance! When Alec Williams, lead singer for The Heartbreakers accidentally spills his drink on her during a charity ball, an unlikely romance and adventure begins.

Felicity likes Alec, but more important than starting a relationship, she wants to find her sister who disappeared three years ago. When she gets a lead on her sisters whereabouts, it’s Alec to the rescue, driving her and her two best friends across 3 states.

I loved the characters in this book. Felicity is very smart and driven, she doesn’t think twice about Alec’s fame and fortune. That means nothing to her. Alec is shy and quiet, nothing like she imagined from his public persona. Asha, Fel’s best friend, is the ultimate fan girl. She makes questionable choices, but her heart is in the right place. Boomer, her other bestie, is great comedic relief as well. Each character was utterly their own person and I loved them all in their own ways.

This is just an utterly feel good kinda book. The ending was very nicely done and everything came full circle.

The only negative thing I can say is that there was a portion of the book that took place with the rest of Alec’s band members and it just seemed to drag on and not move the story forward. Aside from that single scene, I loved this story and would love to read more from this series and this author!


Quotes

Aaron instantly backtracked, waving his hands in defense, “Crap. I didn’t mean it like that. You have a lovely face…er…I mean, you’re really pretty.”

 

His eyes were breathtaking, really, and I decided that gray was my new favorite color.

 

Every few pages were dogeared. It drove my mom crazy when I did that. She likes to keep her novels in top condition, as if they’d never been opened, but I was of the opinion that books were made to be loved and worn.

 

A magnetic energy of sorts swelled between us. It was charged and electric and impossible to ignore.

 

It was possibly the most romantic thing a guy had ever said to me, that he wanted to read the book because it was my favorite.

 

“Basically you need someone to suffer alongside you?” I asked, and satisfaction shot through my chest at my witty, almost flirty response.
His mouth quirked into a crooked grin. “Exactly. It will be terrible, I promise.”

 

“Can you give us a moment?” Then she pulled me out of earshot and hissed, “Did someone hit you over the head? There’s a fin-ass boy offering to take you on a road trip, and you can’t say no fast enough. What is wrong with you?”

 

“Alec, I can’t not go to Harvard.”
“Sure you can,” he replied. “Your problem isn’t that you have to go. It’s that you’re afraid of not knowing what you’ll do if you don’t.”

 

What in the world was a Poseidon? Clearly he wasn’t talking about the Greek god, which made me wonder if Oliver’s uncle kept some sort of finicky sea monster in a backyard pond.

 

“Hatred takes up more space in your heart that you realize, and it doesn’t leave room for things like love and joy. Trust me.”

 

“Don’t worry about me,” I replied. “Never been much of a frosting fan anyway.”
JJ gasped. “Told you she has no soul.”


My (Writing) Life

I’m very excited to announce that I’m THIS close to sending Peace in Flames, my YA contemporary romance, to my editor. I’m currently going through all of the feedback provided by my beta readers and cleaning things up and clarifying things I didn’t get across properly the first time.

The release isn’t until February (I’ll post the OFFICIAL date when it gets closer!) but I’m eager to finish this one so that I can move on and do the re-writes for Summer of Peace, my new adult contemporary romance in the Peace Novella Series. Then I can move on to the many OTHER projects I have planned!

Things would probably go faster if I quit getting distracted. Like that time I stopped mid-chapter to make the following teaser. haha

I (and the other Peace Series) authors would LOVE it if you’d be willing to support our Thunderclap here.

Oh, and we’ve launched a website for the series (I designed it!) that you can check out here: www.peacenovellaseries.com

 

REVIEW: Kissing Max Holden by Katy Upperman

Kissing Max Holden by Katy Upperman

Read: July 24, 2017

Format: NetGalley E-ARC

My Book Rating: 5 Stars

Publisher: Swoon Reads

Release Date: August 1, 2017

Genre: YA Contemporary Romance

Pages: 304 Pages

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

Kissing Max Holden was a terrible idea…

After his father has a life-altering stroke, Max Holden isn’t himself. As his long-time friend, Jillian Eldridge only wants to help him, but she doesn’t know how. When Max climbs through her window one night, Jill knows that she shouldn’t let him kiss her. But she can’t resist, and when they’re caught in the act by her dad, Jill swears it’ll never happen again. Because kissing Max Holden is a terrible idea.

With a new baby sibling on the way, her parents fighting all the time, and her dream of culinary school up in the air, Jill starts spending more and more time with Max. And even though her father disapproves and Max still has a girlfriend, not kissing Max is easier said than done. Will Jill follow her heart and allow their friendship to blossom into something more, or will she listen to her head and stop kissing Max Holden once and for all?


REVIEW

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

 

BE STILL MY HEART!

This book grabbed me from page 1. There’s so much I love about this story. On the surface it’s a friends to lovers romance, but it’s deeper than that.

First of all, there may be some spoilers here. I’m trying to keep them VERY mild so they won’t spoil your enjoyment of the story.

The characters in this book are amazing.

Jillian is the good girl. She’s an only child, a straight A student, and an excellent baker with dreams of going to a prestigious cooking school in New York City.

Max is the bad boy. He was Jillian’s best friend growing up, but after his father had a stroke, he took it really hard. He started acting out, getting drunk, and partying.

But these characters are so much more than that. When Jillian’s family life gets rocky, we see her struggle to cope. Meanwhile, we see that Max is more than a party boy. He’s really broken up, wracked with guilt over his father’s stroke, convinced it’s his fault. He’s in a rocky relationship with his sisters best friend, and though she treats him like garbage, he knows that part of that is because of how he’s treating her. But being a teenager under so much stress, he doesn’t have the maturity to handle things properly.

When Jill and Max fall into a physical (kissing/making out) relationship this sparks new feelings and emotions in both. They both know it’s wrong, because Max has a girlfriend, but they both want it.

If you hate cheating under any condition, this might not be the book for you. I personally feel it was handled well. There are actually multiple cheating storylines going on here, and I felt like the author tackled them nicely. Because here’s the thing. We’re all human. People make mistakes. Is cheating right? No. It’s selfish and disrespectful. But what makes this story so beautiful is how the characters deal with their actions. The consequences they suffer. I really don’t want to say too much because it would really spoil the book. I’ll just say this, Jillian feels 100% guilty for having ever kissed Max while he was still seeing his girlfriend, even if he instigated it. She even puts an end to things because even though she does want to be with him, she doesn’t want to be the other woman.

So should you read this? If you have zero tolerance for cheating story lines under any condition, run far away. However, if you want a steamy/funny/sweet romance with a good message – despite the cheating – dive into this one.


Get the Book here:

Amazon | Nook | iBooks

~ Add to Goodreads ~

 


QUOTES

– From an advanced release copy, subject to changing in the final copy

 

Max is little more than a peripheral figure in my life these days, but Dad’ll be pissed if he finds the neighbor boy lurking outside my window like a creeper.

 

I have the briefest, most inappropriate thought ever: I wonder what he tastes like?, before I remember how damaged he is.

 

Just like that, I forget all the reasons why kissing Max Holden is an awful idea.

 

He’s probably nursing a hangover, and he’s sporting his semipermanent scowl, but still. He looks good.

 

I want to go to him because, more than anything in the world, I want him to tell me he’s willing to try to get his life back on track. But I don’t think he is, and I won’t enable him—not like Becky.

 

How on God’s green earth did I think this was a good idea? How can Max and I be friends when I’m hyperaware of the energy crackling between us? When I know how his kisses make my skin sing.

 

“I don’t understand why, but you’ve stayed with Becky through thick and thin and all the bullshit in between. Even though you cheated on her, she still wants to be with you. Honestly, I think you guys are terrible for each other, but for whatever reason, you’re hanging on. At the risk of sounding like a shrink, I feel like you need to do some serious thinking about what you want from her. It’s not fair otherwise.”

 

Break the rules blatantly and people rarely question you—a lesson I learned from Max.

 

“Thank you, Nostradamus. Consider your prediction noted and ignored.”

 

“Maybe you haven’t noticed, but my happiness relates directly to yours. I never want to see you cry again.”

 

“What’d you do this morning?”
“Made fondant.”
“What the hell is fondant?”

 

“Even though I knew cheating was fundamentally wrong, I still took part…. Does genuine emotion pardon unfaithfulness?

REVIEW: Cure for the Common Breakup by Beth Kendrick

Cure for the Common Breakup by Beth Kendrick

Series: Black Dog Bay #1

Read: June 22-28, 2017

Format: Hardback

My Book Rating: 4.5 Stars

Publisher: Penguin

Release Date: May 6, 2014

Genre: Chick Lit / Womens Fiction / Romance

Pages: 336

Reading Challenge(s): Beat the Backlist 2017

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

Welcome to Black Dog Bay, a tiny seaside town in Delaware known as “the best place in America to bounce back from your breakup.” Home to Better Off Bed-and-Breakfast, the Eat Your Heart Out bakery, and the Whinery bar, Black Dog Bay offers a haven for the suddenly single.

Flight attendant Summer Benson lives by two rules: Don’t stay with the same man for too long and never stay in one place. She’s about to break rule number one by considering accepting her boyfriend’s proposal—then disaster strikes and her world is shattered in an instant.

Summer heads to Black Dog Bay, where the locals welcome her. Even Hattie Huntington, the town’s oldest, richest, and meanest resident, likes her enough to give her a job. Then there’s Dutch Jansen, the rugged, stoic mayor, who’s the opposite of her type. She probably shouldn’t be kissing him. She definitely shouldn’t be falling in love.

After a lifetime of globe-trotting, Summer has finally found a home. But Hattie has old scores to settle and a hidden agenda for her newest employee. Summer finds herself faced with an impossible choice: Leave Black Dog Bay behind forever, or stay with the ones she loves and cost them everything…


REVIEW

I won a copy of this book from Goodreads with no expectation of a review.

This book is as utterly delightful as that cover. It is a laugh out loud ’till you cry, unputdownable joy of a book.

This book throws you right into the thick of the plot. To be honest, I didn’t care for the beginning. It felt rushed and Summer felt like such an over the top cariacture I didn’t think I’d like this book.

Then she arrived in Black Dog Bay. And ran over the mayors rose bushes. And blamed it on turtles and Taylor Swift. From this point on I was 100% sold on this charming rom com.

I ended up absolutely loving Summer. She has her baggage, and at times it felt like she fell for Dutch too quickly (specifically because of all that baggage!) but I can look past that. Summer is charming and brass and fearless.

I loved Dutch. He’s a great hero. He’s a sweet, no-nonsense kind of guy. I hate politicians on principal, but Beth Kendrick had me falling in love with this mayor.

The chemistry between Summer and Dutch was amazing. The little inside jokes and flirtations they had were hot, hot, HOT — especially for such a clean book!

The side characters were all so charming. I was able to quickly give them all unique voices and even imagine my dream cast for the movie playing in my head. (Kelly Bishop [aka Emily Gilmore] as either Hattie or Pauline – can’t decide which! Diane Wiest as Marla, Lennon Stella [Maddie from ‘Nashville’] as Ingrid, Leslie Mann [from ‘Knocked Up’, ‘The 40 Year Old Virgin’, and ’17 Again’] as Summer—that voice of her is perfect.)

Every single chapter had me wishing I could read JUST ONE MORE, to the point where I accidentally read 50% of the book in one night. I only went to bed because my eyes refused to stay open and the words stopped making sense.

And here’s a word to the wise, don’t read this book anywhere you can’t let out a good belly laugh. Because I was holding in laughter while reading this late at night while my husband slept, and it just wasn’t the same.

I need to find out what happens next in Black Dog Bay.

If you’re in the mood for a light, comedic, romantic page turner, THIS is the book to read!



Get the Book here:

Amazon | Nook | iBooks

~ Add to Goodreads ~

 


QUOTES

 

Summer had never been accused of being sensible.

 

Rustic outdoorsmen weren’t Summer’s type, but something about him… He looked like he could ravish you so right and then stride off to chop a cord of wood.

 

“I promise you, I’m coming back to fix your landscaping situation.”
“Please don’t.”

 

If Barbie hired Hello Kitty to decorate her dream house, the result would be the Winery.

 

He caught her gaze and held it, and in that moment, she saw him as everyone else in Black Dog Bay did: strong and stern and quietly authoritative. Someone who took his responsibilities seriously. Someone who was not to be trifled with.
And it only increased her desire to trifle with him.

 

“Can you talk sense into a bunch of adolescents sloshed on Alabama slammers?”
”Like a professional hostage negotiator.”

 

“Just make me look like I’m a lobotomized lady who lunches. On something other than grilled cheese.”

 

He took in the activity pages and the facial expressions and the iced tea before asking, very slowly, “What are you doing?”

“Connecting the dots,” Jenna said.

“Coloring a frog,” Hollis said.

“Making this word search my bitch,” Summer said.

Dutch glanced behind him. “Is this… am I missing something here?”

 

He made her laugh. He made her think. He made her want to stay.
Oh no.

 

REVIEW: Leaving Yesterday by Zoe Dawson

Leaving Yesterday by Zoe Dawson

Series: Laurel Falls #1

Read: April 6-13, 2017

Format: eBook ARC

My Book Rating: 3.5 Stars

Publisher: Loveswept

Release Date: February 9, 2016

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Pages: 268

Reading Challenge(s): TBR 2017, Beat The Backlist 2017

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

If you love Susan Mallery, Kristan Higgins, or Rachel Gibson, don’t miss the start of this captivating small-town romance series! Laurel Falls, Montana, features spectacular mountain scenery—but it takes a rugged cowboy to convince one woman to slow down and enjoy the view.

Rafferty Hamilton doesn’t plan on putting down roots anytime soon. With her divorce final, the hotel heiress has left Manhattan behind to scout new locations for her family’s chain of resorts. Which is why it’s so frustrating to be stranded in Laurel Falls while a good-looking, slow-talking, Stetson-wearing mechanic takes his sweet time with her overheated coupe.

A decorated vet who paid his dues in Afghanistan, Trace Black can fix anything with an engine and get it revving—even Rafferty’s ridiculous sports car. He couldn’t say the same for the knockout driver, who looks like she’s never gripped a gear shaft in her life. Women like Rafferty don’t usually stick around in Laurel Falls, but Trace finds himself showing her everything his hometown has to offer before she cruises on down the road.

As the days pass, Rafferty finds herself charmed by the pace of life and the openhearted warmth of the residents. She’s even tempted to trust again—and it’s all thanks to Trace. He’s not the kind of guy she’s used to falling for, but he just might be the man she needs.


REVIEW

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

 

Leaving Yesterday started strong with a hero and heroine I liked. Right off the bat I could tell they were both good people, each with their own set of baggage, each deserving to find real love.

Things I liked: The hero and heroine. They were both strong and independent and meshed well together. I loved the nickname he had for her (Commander Princess). I liked the town, I want to visit and see the mountains and springs and stay at that rundown abandoned old inn! This book also had great, fully developed side characters who have been set up to get their own novels.

What I didn’t like so much: Those side characters I mentioned? While I loved them all, I wasn’t a fan of the POV shifts into their heads. Call me a traditionalist, but I’d rather my romance novels stick with the h/H POVs and leave the side characters to the side. I don’t want in their heads yet, learning all the details of their personal stories. I think this would have benefited with either a revised blurb indicating that there were more stories here than just the main characters romance, or reclassifying this as…. something else. A contemporary drama maybe? I don’t know. It just wasn’t what I expected and that sort of put a damper on my reading experience.

All that said, this was an enjoyable story about enjoyable characters. I would gladly revisit Laurel Falls to see what happens for those secondary characters as well as to see how things are going with Trace and Rafferty. (I really hate her name by the way. But it is the perfect trust-fund baby name.)



Get the Book here:

Amazon | Nook | iBooks | Kobo

~ Add to Goodreads ~


QUOTES

“You don’t know how to fix my car. Do you?”
His eyes flashed. “Never said that. I can fix anything, sure as shootin’.”


“My bullshit meter has a low threshold. We’re bound to strike sparks off each other.”


“I don’t live here, Trace, and I’m not staying. We’ve established that. As soon as you put in my new transmission, I’ll be gone. So what if they do talk? Nothing happened, well, except for that kiss.”
“Except for that kiss? Doesn’t sound like I tried hard enough there. Maybe I should give it another shot.”
“Trace…”

 

“He needs help picking out a shirt.”
Reese looked puzzled. “Are the fashion police after you or something?”

 

“So tell me something bout yourself not many people know.”
“I believe in alien abductions.”

He huffed out a laugh.

 

You’re always so careful, holding back. Always doing some deal for your dad. You’re his closer, his hit woman.

REVIEW: Crossing The Barrier by Martine Lewis

Crossing The Barrier by Martine Lewis

Series: Gray Eyes #1

Read: July 14 – 21, 2016

Format: Ebook (Kindle)

Publisher: Self-Published

Release Date: March 22, 2016

My Book Rating: 2.5 Stars

Genre: Contemporary Romance (with a minor touch of paranormal)

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

High school student Malakai Thomas, star wide receiver of the varsity team, collides with band member Lily Morgan on his way to football practice. As days go by, Malakai cannot get the petite clarinetist out of his head.

Lily Morgan can feel everyone’s emotions. She loses her ability to shield herself against them the day Malakai runs into her. Now she must try to maintain her sanity in the emotional jungle that is high school, as well as deal with her growing feelings for Malakai.

Can Malakai get over the social stigma and his own internal struggle to be with Lily? Is Lily’s secret too big to accept, even for him?


REVIEW

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

 

I went into this book expecting a YA paranormal romance, instead I got a YA sports romance with a touch of paranormal.

Right off the bat I have to state that I hate sports. So reading about sports doesn’t interest me, already that puts this book at a disadvantage for me. I’m a paranormal girl, I like to get lost in worlds where I need to extend my imagination and suspend belief. Contemporary novels, for the most part, don’t hold my interest. I get enough of reality in the real world. I want a little bit of magic.

The paranormal in this book comes in play with the main female protagonist, Lily. She’s an Empath, meaning she can sense / feel other peoples emotions. Normally she has mental shields to block the emotions out, but early on in the book she loses those shields. What I found more interesting about Lily is that she’s basically living a Cinderella life. Her father has passed away, leaving her alone with a mother who never wanted her. Anyone would be able to see just how unwanted Lily is by her mother Beatrice, but by being an Empath, Lily can feel every evil, nasty, vicious thought and feeling toward her. It’s a classic case of both physical and emotional child abuse with how badly Lily is treated. A girl growing up being treated so badly, you’d think she’d be forced to grow up pretty quickly, but I was actually surprised at now painfully naive she was at times. At one point I wanted to throw my Kindle at the wall and yell at her.

Meanwhile, Malakai, has his own demons at home. His mother left when he was a child and no one has ever told him why. His father is military, constantly leaving him home alone for weeks or months on end since he turned seventeen. Malakai starts out as a very good and chivalrous guy, but by the end of the book I really didn’t care much for him. He became almost controlling of Lily, and though from the thoughts that are presented to us through both his POV and Lily’s Empath ability, we know his actions are in no way malicious, but they just rubbed me the wrong way. He also became full of self-loathing. What happened to the confident boy in the beginning? I wasn’t feeling that.

I ultimately failed to love this book for a few reasons. The first being the aforementioned genre, it reads very contemporary and the paranormal is very light. That’s just not for me. The other things that drew me out of the story were the follow:

  1. As is common in YA books, there is a good amount of info dumping in the very beginning. Things I’d rather see happening than be told about.
  1. The author uses a lot of passive language which prevented me to actively engage with the events as they happened, i.e.: “She had wanted to go with him…. Lily had wondered….”
  1. I never could fully grasp what the central plot was. I think it was the romance between Lily and Malakai, but I’m not sure. In the beginning Wes and Zoe were sort of the villains, then they disappeared until the end when I’d all but forgotten them. Beatrice then became a bigger villain, shifting the focus from Wes and Zoe. Then we touch on Malakai’s parental issues. For me, all of the different conflicts never really “meshed” together well enough for me. I guess I just prefer the 3 act story arc formula.
  1. Malakai’s reactions. I mentioned above about the self-loathing, but Malakai has something happen near the end of the book and he reacts in a way that seemed completely out of character for him. Because we read half the book in his POV this shift in character could easily have been explained with his own internal monologue, but instead we’re given nothing. I actually had to stop and think, wondering if I’d somehow skipped ahead in the book and missed an important chunk of text that described his internal emotional turmoil. But I didn’t. I checked.
  1. The ending (before the epilogue) was cheesy. I think young teens girls will eat it up. For me personally, it didn’t work. It felt too soon and out of place.

That seems like quite a list of things that I didn’t like or didn’t work for me, but there were things I did enjoy. This book touches on a lot of relevant hot topics including bullying and racism, which is important to me. It’s obvious that the author really cares about her characters and though she gives them obstacles, it’s easy to root for them to get past them. I will also say this. Despite all of my grievances with this book, the epilogue piqued my interest (and seems to show that the series will PROBABLY be going in a more paranormal or sci-fi direction and I will quite likely read it and hope to see the author continue to grow as a writer.

Final thought: If you are a fan of contemporary romance (especially sports romance) you might enjoy this. I think younger teens will enjoy this book more than older teens and adults due to the writing style.



Get the Crossing The Barrier here:

Amazon (Free with KU)

~ Add to Goodreads ~

 

 

REVIEW: Outlaw Cowboy by Nicole Helm

Outlaw Cowboy by Nicole Helm

Series: Big Sky Cowboys #2

Read: July 10 – 26, 2016

Format: Print Book (Goodreads Win)

My Book Rating: 4 Stars

Genre: Contemporary Romance

 

I received a copy of this book from Goodreads First Reads. This in no way affects my review or rating.


Now, I’m not a big reader of contemporary romance. Especially adult contemporary romance. However, I ended up really enjoying Outlaw Cowboy.

Caleb and Delia are both a little rough around the edges. She comes from an abusive home and has spent the last ten years finding ways to get her four younger sisters the hell away from their abusive father. Meanwhile Caleb is haunted by something his mother said, just before she walked out on the family forever. Both spent their teens getting into trouble, and both are trying to find their way as adults.

Caleb wants his family ranch. His older sister, Mel, is married now and no longer a Shaw, so he wants Shaw in his name, to be his legacy. In order to prove to Mel that he can handle running Shaw and bring the finances out of the red, he agrees to a land rental deal with the contingency that he must NOT have any dealings with any unsavory characters. And that’s exactly what Delia is.

Delia meanwhile is running from the law, and trying to find a way to get her youngest sister away from their father. After taking shelter in Caleb’s old cabin on his property, things get hot.

Now, the first almost half of this book is each of these characters internal monologues repeating over and over again what they need to do: “I need to get my sister out” or “I need to prove to Mel that I can run Shaw” etc. Had this not been a buddy read with Katie @ Just Another Girl and Her Blog, I probably would have quit. I’m glad I didn’t though, because about halfway through, things pick up. The story starts to move. It almost feels like the author needed to add to her word count, so she just repeated the same internal dialogue over and over again for the first half. But after that first half, it’s so worth it!

I actually really did like both of the characters. They were tough on the outside, but gooey on the inside, though they didn’t even realize it at first. I loved the history they had together, there were sweet moments and not so savory ones as well. In the end, they just fit. All of the problems were resolved in realistic ways. Toward the end I thought there was no way the author could wrap this up, but… she did. And well.

I’m not sure I’d go back and read the first book, about Caleb’s older sister Mel, but I’d certainly read one about younger sister Summer, she was a breath of fresh air amidst all the angst in this book!

This book also contains the longest sex scene I’ve ever read. It wasn’t super smutty, but I think it was hot enough to make romance fans happy. It was also very humorous. Yep, sexy and humorous. That’s a win!

I think fans of contemporary romance will eat this one up.

 


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QUOTES

“You can’t go in there alone.”
“Why not? I’m a man with a gun.”
“You’re the one who said she could be dangerous!”
“I repeat, I am a man with a gun.”

(Re: a banging noise coming from outside)
A shadow lingered, but without any kind of light he couldn’t make it what it was.
Tree? Raccoon? Bloodthirsty thief?
He rolled his eyes at himself. Because bloodthirsty thieves were known for knocking on doors.

“But if you had something that was yours, that made you who you are, that gave you a reason to get up in the morning, wouldn’t you do everything to keep it? Wouldn’t you fight to keep the thing that made you feel like you weren’t a complete waste of space?”

“I know you don’t think of yourself as much of a knight in shining armor, and you’re kind of a dip shit, but you did save my life…”

But last night Caleb had fussed over her and put her in one of his T-shirts, and had not copped one feel.
Asshole.

…Time and time again, life had given her Caleb in her darkest moments.
Now  she was going to make sure he was there in the lightest ones too.

 

REVIEW: Friday Night Brides by Samantha Chase

Friday Night Brides by Samantha Chase

Read: May 9 – August 1, 2016

Format: ARC Ebook (Kindle)

My Book Rating: 4 Stars

Genre: Contemporary Romance

 

I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

Friday Night Brides is the story of four best friends. For the past 20 years they have modeled wedding fashions in a bridal show every Friday night. Now in their mid-twenties, we get to follow their (mis)adventures in love.

I love that this story followed four different main characters and the author did a great job weaving their individual stories into one cohesive book, and in making them stand out as their own person.

Hailey’s mom owns Enchanted Bridal, the whole reason for the Friday Night Brides existence. She’s in lust with the perfect Logan, who has never shown even an inkling of returning the attraction, and can’t stand Jackson, the long haired, tattooed bad boy who models in the shows as well.

Becca always falls for the wrong guy. She has self esteem issues because she doesn’t have the slim figures of her friends. When she meets Max though, her luck seems to turn around.

Angie doesn’t really have a filter, she tells it how it is. When her ex comes back into her life, she has to decide if she can forgive him and try again.

And finally, Ella: she and her boyfriend Dylan have been together since middle school. With their wedding looming before them, and growing out of control thanks to their families, she’s beginning to doubt being with just one man EVER.

The only reason this book took me so long to read is because I started reading too many at once. Once I dedicated myself to finishing this book toward the end of July I sped through it. I needed to know what was going to happen with each of the women. And I was not disappointed. This book reads like a drama on The CW – in a good way!

I wish I could say that one couples story was more interesting than another, but I loved them all. I would say Ella’s probably resonated with me most because she’s marrying the man she’s been with since forever. I also married my high school boyfriend and have experienced some of her same feelings about wonder what, if anything, she/I missed out on by not dating other people. As far as character growth, I feel like Hailey grew the most as a person.

If you’re looking for a fun contemporary romance that’s a little different than others, this is it for you. I was honestly afraid at first it might read like chic-lit, but thankfully it does not! (At least not the chic-lit I’ve read in the past!)

 


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QUOTES

 Okay, I was so engrossed in this book I only highlighted one passage because it spoke to me!

“You want to know how I see us? I see us as people who work hard and are planning for our future. While everyone else is running around—or sleeping around—we’re committed to each other. We’re not pissing away our money at bars and clubs. … You’re looking around and thinking ‘look at all we’re missing’ and acting like it’s a bad thing. I’m looking at the same people and thinking about it all with relief! You know what, El? I bet if you asked any of them they’d all rather be us!”

 

REVIEW: Walk The Edge by Katie McGarry

So, last Thursday I got to meet my all time favorite author, Richelle Mead. It was amazing. I actually recorded all 20 minutes of her speaking and Q&A which I keep forgetting to upload to YouTube, but when I finally remember, I will share it with you all. Until then, check out this fabulous Instagram post I made that night.

 

 


 

Walk The Edge by Katie McGarry

Series: Thunder Road #2

Read: May 1 – 7, 2016

Format: ARC Print Book

My Book Rating: 5 Stars

Genre: Contemporary YA Romance

 

I don’t read a lot of contemporary romance, even in YA books. (Though, I feel like I have been reading more lately…) And I really have no interest in motorcycle clubs, I tried watching Sons of Anarchy but it didn’t hold my interest. So imagine my surprise when I sat down to start reading Katie McGarry’s Walk The Edge with the intent of “just one chapter” and ended up reading the first six instead. And I would have kept going, had it not been so late at night. This book is a page turner.

Despite being a book about a guy in a motorcycle club, something I don’t really ‘get’, I loved this book. The characters, Thomas aka “Razor” and Breanna, are both so real. They’re flawed and relatable and I was rooting for them the entire time.

 

“There are lies in life we accept. Whether it’s for the sake of ignorance, bliss, or, in my case, survival, we all make our choices.”

Razor is “the boy everyone sees but nobody knows.”

Born to ride with the Reign of Terror motorcycle club, Razor is one of the newest members, but the club is keeping secrets from him. They say once he’s proved he trusts the club, the club will then trust him in turn with its secrets. This doesn’t sit well for Razor. His mother drove off a bridge years earlier and everyone in town says she killed herself to get away from Razor’s father and his club. Razor wants the truth, and he’s afraid the Terror played a role in his mothers death.

 

“I’m overjoyed by their faith in me, but on the inside I’m a rose wilting fast forward on the vine.”

Breanna is “the girl who everybody knows, but nobody sees.”

She refers to herself as “5 of 9” because she is the 5th child in a family of 9 kids. Her older siblings do their thing, her younger siblings do theirs. Then there’s Breanna, alone in the middle. She’s the responsible one, often left to parent her younger siblings. She’s never fit in due to her uncanny ability to remember and regurgitate random facts. Once a puzzle is in her head, she can’t move on until she’s solved it. She’s a freak and has been treated as one by everyone her entire life, including her siblings. She just wants to be accepted.

Razor finds Breanna’s brain remarkable, but she’s too good to be with a guy like him.

Though he starts as just her bodyguard, Breanna quickly realizes there’s more to Razor than meets the eye, and she’s falling for the boy her parents would never allow her to be with.

When these two unlikely people come together, will they find what they need in one another?

 

“Yeah, I know. I’m supposed to be this twenty-first century woman and obsessed with a man desiring me for my massive intellect. I am woman, hear me roar, and all that stuff, but once, it would have been pretty freaking awesome to be the girl in the pretty dress let alone with the gorgeous bad boy who wants to kiss me.”

 

 “She should be worried,” he breathes into my ear.

“Why?”

“Because you’re alone with me.”

 

If you’re in the mood for a realistic romance between total opposites who compliment each other perfectly, this is the book. If you’re looking for a romance that also has a bit of a mystery to uncover, again, this is it. If you’re looking for a book with characters who grow and change as the story progresses, look no further.

This is the second in a series, and I have not read the first. Everything was set up so the book can be read as a stand alone. I plan to get my hands on the first book eventually, as well as the third book when it releases sometime in 2017.

So far, this is one of my top picks for 2016. Go grab a copy!

 

* I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Goodreads First Reads.

 

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REVIEW: Just Say Maybe by Tracy March

GUESS WHAT! In 3 hours I’m meeting my fav author – Richelle Mead!!!

To keep me occupied until then, I’m posting this review for your enjoyment. (I’ve been putting off writing it for a few days now. Along with another review.)


BOOK DESCRIPTION FROM GOODREADS:

Award-winning author Tracy March follows up Should’ve Said No (“Wonderfully quirky . . . a pleasure to read!”—Laura Drewry) with this enchanting novel set in Thistle Bend, Colorado, a magical place where old wrongs are righted, and adventure leads to true love.

Real estate lawyer Holly Birdsong’s hike in the Rockies takes an unexpected turn when a smokin’-hot stranger tumbles off his bike and into her path. Turns out he’s purchasing the abandoned Lodge at Wild Rose Ridge, and Holly agrees to take him on as a client—despite her family’s traumatic history with the previous owner, who shamelessly abused the town’s goodwill at every turn. But when their professional relationship turns personal, Holly must reconcile the past with her hopes for the future.

Adding the rustic lodge to his portfolio of adventure properties isn’t just a business decision for Bryce Bennett. The rugged mountains also offer a killer setting for his extreme-sports camps for at-risk teens. What’s not in the blueprints is finding a kindred spirit in his irresistible lawyer, even if she seems apprehensive about getting involved in the deal. Bryce’s plan to ease her mind just might work, as long as no one discovers his secret. Yet he can’t stand hiding the truth from the woman who makes him want to build something permanent: a happily ever after.


REVIEW

Just Say Maybe by Tracy March

Series: Thistle Bend #2

Read: May 2016

Format: ARC Ebook (Kindle)

My Book Rating: 3 Stars

Genre: Contemporary Romance

 

I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

Last September I had the privilege of reading Should’ve Said No, book 1 in Tracy March’s Thistle Bend series. I was impressed with a romance novel full of likable characters and a mystery to boot!

I was excited when Just Say Maybe appeared on NetGalley because why wouldn’t I want to follow up that fabulous 4-star book 1 with the sequel?

Well, I think I liked book 1 so much that I was let down by book 2. While book 1 featured the mystery as the center plot, this one is very much romance centric. Sure, Holly says she doesn’t want to be with Bryce if he’s not going to stay, but it was barely an obstacle. There was a misunderstanding and jumping to conclusions that had me rolling my eyes as well.

I did like the characters, they were interesting and believable. The hotel storyline was somewhat interesting, but I would have liked this book more if that was the central story, and not the romance.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I like the romances to be built around the plot. If that makes sense. And this book felt like the plot was built around the romance.

I think those who like traditional contemporary romances will enjoy this book. I’ll probably read book 3 as well, but I doubt it will live up to book 1.


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