January 28, 2014

Sweet by Erin McCarthy

It's summer and classes are out but instead of returning home for the summer, Jessica Sweet makes up a story to appease her super judgmental and religious parents so she can stay around campus for the summer. With nowhere to go for the week between having moved out of the dorms and when her new lease starts, Jessica finds herself moving in with Riley Mann. He may be eye candy but he is also her Tyler's super-annoying older brother. I was thoroughly amused by the dynamic between the two of them--reminds me a lot of how me and hubs can be lol. As annoying as he is, though, Jessica sees how hard he works to keep his family together and she does what she can to help him fix up their house in time for a custody hearing for his youngest brother. What she doesn't expect, though, is to fall for him along the way (hey, what were you expecting?). He's not like any other guy she's ever been interested in before and that may prove to be the biggest challenge...

Jessica Sweet is a life force. She's in your face and she doesn't take anyone's shit...except when it comes to her parents. I love that she knows what she wants and she's not afraid to go get it. She's got balls when it comes to anything but her super judge-y parents. I guess they're usually the hardest to stand up to..Anyways, she comes off as bitchy but her soft side comes out when she's put in the position to help out the Mann brothers. She really grows through this novel. She starts off fairly naive but has the courage to face the real world and all its faces. So far, she's my favourite of the girls in Erin's True Believer series..

Riley Mann is nothing you'd expect. His facade is all badass and disturbed, yet, there's a side of him at home that nobody knows. He definitely doesn't seem like the type to be bringing up a family but that is exactly what he's doing with his brothers after their druggie mother passed. Another surprise he throws at you is that he's totally a "relationship kinda guy" which, swoon, who doesn't love the badass who is actually ready and willing to commit? Best of both worlds, anybody :D He tries to help Jess get over her fear of commitment (hah, for once, gender expectation reversal!) and that relationships aren't such a bad thing. He's a complete teddy bear underneath that bad boy exterior. I love it.

I loved the characters in Sweet. They're super entertaining and their story is a bit of an odd one. Definitely not disappointed by the series so far. Erin definitely knows how to write a good story--they're not cut and dry which makes them that much more interesting to get into and her characters are so easy to love in love with. Can't wait for Shatter to come out!! 

My Rating: 4 Stars

The Kindle version of Sweet is available for purchase on Amazon!

January 24, 2014

Believe by Erin McCarthy

 Believe is the third book in the Erin McCarthy's True Believers series, this is Robin's story (yep, how dare I read them out of order). Robin is Kaylie's best friend. Robin has quit her old partying ways--no more drinking--after a night she blacked out and slept with Kaylie's douchebag boyfriend. She can't bear to tell Kaylie in fears of ruining their friendship but it's eating her alive inside. She meets Phoenix (cousin to Tyler and Riley) who's just gotten out of a stint in jail. Clearly all bad news for her but she can't seem to help but enjoy his company. Their friendship quickly blooms into an intense relationship that is put to the test as both Robin and Phoenix's pasts come up to haunt them.

I have a love-hate relationship with Robin. From the get-go, she is so ridden by guilt that I don't see how she even look up from her conscience to notice Phoenix in the first place. Even by the end of the book, I felt like if she were so intent on punishing herself for her bad deed, she would not have given Phoenix the time of day. I guess this is also why she's worthy of her portrait being tattooed on him... I loved that she was open-minded enough to allow herself to get to know and fall in love with Phoenix but part of me felt like she was taking a stupid risk considering how little she knew about him (and all she DID know of him was not good stuff). I'm undecided on her...still...

Phoenix is a force to be reckoned with. I actually had no idea that Intermittent Explosive Disorder existed before this novel so it was interesting to be able to learn about it through his point of view. He's so self-loathing, though, that it hurts to read his thoughts about himself. The struggle Phoenix has within himself is really heartbreaking. It's hard to think that some people really do feel that way about themselves. He seems to feel everything in a very all or nothing way--he's either all in or he's not in it at all. It's a good thing, I guess, but it makes everything soooo dramatic that at some points in the book I found myself rolling my eyes at how exaggerated things were.

I can't say I liked Believe as much as I liked True. Maybe because I wasn't as into the characters. Still, though, Robin and Phoenix take you on a roller coaster ride of emotions. Their story tugs on your heart strings and makes you mad but makes you smile. As I have proved--the books in this series can be read as standalone novels or together...out of order doesn't really matter--they're pretty awesome either way!

My Rating: 3.5 Stars

The Kindle version of Believe is available for purchase on Amazon!

January 23, 2014

True by Erin McCarthy

Rory is a nice girl. She's bright, she's studious and she's got her shit together. She's had a few boyfriends but, really, nothing serious. She's got a GPA to uphold and no time to mess about.
Tyler is the complete opposite of Rory. He's your tattooed badass with a background and a reputation like no other. So why does he take such an interest in his not-so-usual girl Rory? As the story unfolds, we find out that Tyler isn't just your typical badass type thowing his life away but, in fact, he is actually a pretty stand up fellow that's been dealt a shoddy hand in life. Behind his rough and tough exterior, he's just trying to finish school and take care of his younger siblings. Intrigued much yet?

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Erin McCarthy depicts Rory as a very inexperienced and very innocent girl. Her naivety is such a stark contrast to Tyler and makes for great dialogue...oh, the witty banter between the two made me laugh, but at times I just wanted to shake the girl because you could clearly tell by the things coming out of her mouth and the way her mind was churning that she had no clue about how real life really worked. Somehow, though, opposites attract and the chemistry between Rory and Tyler is off the pages--you can almost feel the sizzle, it's so intense. But the book isn't just one sexy scene after another, though. The themes of 'more than meets the eye' and 'don't judge a book by its cover' are quite prevalent throughout this book--we learn a whole lot about Tyler (and Rory, too, but her story is just not as dramatic, so to say) that you would never imagine and everything you learn only leads you to love him that much more. What's on the surface doesn't define who you are within...just because Tyler grew up in a trashy home doesn't mean he's a bad person. That being said, I'm totally not cool with the fact that he smokes with his brothers in the car...just sayin' and OH MY GOODNESS the uncensored foul language around those kids made me cringe. Maybe I'm reading too much into things...

In essence, there's hot+heavy, my heart ached and I shed a few tears--signs of a good book to me!! Needless to say, I'm kinda looking forward to reading the next books...

My Rating: 4 Stars

The Kindle version of True is available for purchase on Amazon!

January 21, 2014

The Summer Series by C.J. Duggan

Having escaped the wicked Canadian winter thus far this year, it actually felt right to be reading a beach read series in January. I love Kailin Gow's Loving Summer series and I love Jenny Han's Summer series. I just love reading about falling in love on the beach, or by the lake...and I'm not going to lie, I've always been a lover of the idea of the Boys of Summer. There's just something about a summer fling with a summer boy...ANYWAYS C.J. Duggan's Summer series is right on up there with my favourite beach reads.

I'm glad I didn't get into these novels before because it's always awesome to be able to read three books in a row when the stories are interconnected. Not to mention I'm super impatient so had I read Book 1 and then had to wait for Book 2, it wouldn't have been pretty.

The first novel in the series, we are introduced to a load of characters. Adam convince his two best friends Tess and Ellie to work with him at his uncle's hotel pub (hereinafter, "the Onslow") for the summer. He promises them the best summer of their lives before heading into their last year of high school. The Onslow is the center hub of all that goes on in this small town. Everyone hangs out here, this is where everything happens. The Onslow is home base to Adam's brother's (Chris') friends (Sean, Toby, Stan and Ringer). This group of attractive and popular guys dubbed the Onslow Boys has every girls' attention and, of course, each one of them is irresistible in their own way. This is Tess and Toby's story. Toby's the older guy with the hot girlfriend. Tess is the naive, quiet, insecure girl who has no idea what she's got going for her. She's had a crush on him since before she even hit highschool but he has no idea she exists. What's a girl to do?

The second novel in the series is a continuation from Book 1. Fast foward about three years and a lot has changed. Amy (her dad is the owner of the Onslow) is back in town after having been sent away to boarding school when she was 16. Things have changed, though, and she's come home to the pub having been mismanaged and basically run to the ground by a barkeep her father had entrusted the Onslow with. With no other ideas, Amy reluctantly turns to Sean (one of the old Onslow boys!!) to help her build the place back up. Determined to bring the Onslow back to its former glory, Amy spends the summer bringing the place back up to working order only to find out her parents are ready to sell the place. With the pressure of getting the Onslow back up and running and fighting every ounce of frustration that comes with having to work alongside Sean, Amy is in for one hell of a summer.

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These two novels are exactly the types of novels I love to read in the summer. Seeing as I'm not knee-deep in snow right now and it's relatively warm where I am, it fits! The world (the sleepy small town of Onslow) that C.J. Duggan has created is one easily imaginable and filled with characters that are easy to relate to and love. You have Amy the little sister to everyone, the sweet and innocent Tess alongside the bad-girl Ellie and then you have the guys--Adam, the best friend; Chris, the serious one; Sean, the partying womanizer; Toby, the quiet one; Stan, the cute one; and Ringer, the one that nobody takes too seriously but everyone loves (gee, with a name like that...) Each one of these characters bring their own stories to the table and I loved reading how their stories interlaced. These novels are very simple and there's not huge drama (just your usual bits of teen angst) which is a nice change from what I've been reading lately. They definitely make for a light beach read and they do the job well. The Summer Series is going to join my bookshelf in hardcopy for sure!!

My rating: 4 stars

Kindle versions of The Boys of Summer and An Endless Summer are available for purchase on Amazon! Click on the covers to add to GoodReads!

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Annnnd as if that weren't awesome enough, check back with me at the end of February when I join the YA Bound's Blog Tour for Book #3 in this series: That One Summer!!

Loving Chris Henderson would be wrong. Diabolically disastrous. I mean, what is there about him to love? He’s moody, bossy, brooding, a control freak, and that’s on a good day … but there was one achingly obvious fact that haunted my every thought, every minute of every day …

He sure could kiss.

As the countdown to the new millennium begins, there is one thing everyone agrees on: no one wants to be in Onslow for New Year’s Eve.

So that can only mean one thing: road trip!

No longer the mousey, invisible, shy girl from years ago, Tammy Maskala is finally making up for all those lost summers. A new year with new friends, which astoundingly includes the bossy boy behind the bar, Chris Henderson.

She likes her new friends (at least most of them), so why does she secretly feel so out of place?

After chickening out on the trip, a last-minute change of heart sees Tammy racing to the Onslow Hotel, fearing she’s missed her chance for a ride. The last thing she expected to meet was a less-than-happy Onslow Boy leaning against his black panel van.

Now the countdown begins to reach the others at Point Shank before the party is over and the new year has begun. Alone in a car with only the infuriating Chris Henderson, Tammy can’t help but feel this is a disastrous start to what could have been a great adventure. But when the awkward road trip takes an unexpected turn, Tammy soon discovers that the way her traitorous heart feels about Chris is the biggest disaster of all.

Fogged up windows, moonlight swimming, bad karaoke and unearthed secrets; after this one summer nothing will ever be the same again.

January 13, 2014

Before We Fall by Courtney Cole

Famed movie star Dominic Kinkaide can be described with two words: fucked up. He's gone through stuff that most people would never go through in a lifetime and it has rendered him emotionally and mentally FUBARed. Completely jaded at the age of 24, he doesn't believe that there is such thing as happiness--or at least not that he deserves. He's sure of it. That is, until he meets Jacey Vincent.

Jacey Vincent is 23 and messed up in her own way. Having a shitty track record of making the wrong decisions and choosing the wrong guys, she's only starting to learn to stand on her own again. When she meets Dominic, she's convinced that he's bad news and all wrong for her. When circumstances have them spend time together, though, she finds it hard to fight her attraction to this devastating star. Jacey is determined not to be hurt again and Dominic is convinced that he's too fucked up to be anybody's somebody. So what happens when Jacey commits herself to helping Dominic get over his past?

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I nearly put the book down after reading the first few pages. All I could think of was *what the heck kind of book is this*. Dominic is one messed up mofo. Anyways, I'm glad I didn't put it down because it turned out to be a really good read. There are so many layers to this story--there are so many life lessons that these characters have gone through and at such young ages that you can't help but feel sorry for them. At the same time, though, you can't take your eyes off of them, either. There is just so much pain in this novel: from Dominic's pain that he still hasn't dealt with in all these years to Jacey's pain that she has learned to move on from.  It's pain that brings the two characters together and its pain that gives them something to work together towards. Without pain, there would be no story to tell. Sad, but true. 

Anyways, I love how tenacious Jacey is. She goes against her head and follows the goodness in her heart to help Dominic get over his past--even though she knows she's going to get hurt in the process again. I'm actually kind of disappointed that we don't really know more details over what happened to Jacey. We get a very brief few lines which satiates a reader who is fully engrossed in Dominic's character. As much as I loved some of Jacey's characteristics, though, I did have some negative feelings towards her (as Dominic did) when she was ignoring what she knew re: Brand's feelings for her. Yep, that was just mean. Didn't fit, but I guess it's something that happens (do we get Brand's story later!!?!) 

Dominic was the star of the show, though. Who doesn't love the messed up bad boy that everyone wants but no one can have? What's wrong with us that we know how messed up he is, yet, we still love his character? He's toxic, he's got a messed up past, he only uses women...why don't we write him off? Not sure. Still haven't figured that one out. Of course, the Team Dominic in me almost melted at the end--oh ya, that was pretty awesome (I totally just took out a spoiler, thank me later). I do have to note, though, at one point, I thought I was going to scream if I read the words, "Dominic fucking Kinkaide" one more time!! I guess it did really drive home the point that he was an arrogant bastard but, really, I was ready to shoot him in the face. 

My Rating: 5 stars

The Kindle edition of Before We Fall is available for purchase on Amazon. You can also find the Paperback edition at your local bookstore!

January 11, 2014

The Fireside Inn by Lily Everett

Miles Harrington is getting married and he's designated each of his four friends (and fellow billionaire bachelors) a certain role in his upcoming wedding. The wedding is taking place on Sanctuary Island. Miles. who's life has been changed from his time on the island, has promised his friends that their lives will also be changed forever (for the better) by the time the wedding is over. In fact, he's so sure of himself that he's put a wager on it.

This first novella of The Billionaire Bachelors series is Lord Leo Strathairn's story. Leo was born into British aristocracy--well bred and wealthy. He doesn't feel he's missing anything in his life until he meets Sanctuary Island's librarian Serena Lightfoot. Thinking he's just going to seduce and use Serena to help him accomplish his task for the wedding, he finds himself falling for Serena as they spend time together. Serena is done with guys after having been used by them for her smarts her entire life. Having sworn off guys for good, she doesn't think anything when Leo walks into her library practically begging for her help. Can she keep Leo at arms length?

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I have to admit that I felt completely inundated with too much information. I was trying to digest that Miles was a lifelong bachelor who was getting married and then got smacked with four more bachelors who were all after a private helipad on top of an exclusive billionaire club. It was a relief when the story slowed down a bit and we were focussed in on Leo. The intro was just a bit much. I did enjoy the book alright after that, though. It was sweet, we were gifted with a British aristocrat who spouted off poetry like a pro and spoke in poetry. Umm...who wouldn't fall in love with that? Serena was a bit off for me, though, she seemed to be all over the place. She was unsure of herself because of her past experiences of guys using her for her smarts but she was confident enough to know she wanted to (and she was forward about it, too) seduce Leo. I felt like she wasn't too consistent but that could just be me. Leo's secret makes him that much more lovable because you just want to sympathize with him for his unfortunate upbringing (though it was a bit hard to believe that in this day in age someone could "get away" with that sort of reading disability without being noticed and helped). In all, it was a sweet story though a few things here and there made me raise my eyebrows but whatever, it happens!

My Rating: 3 stars

The Kindle edition of The Fireside Inn is available for purchase on Amazon!

January 9, 2014

Blog Tour: Stir Me Up by Sabrina Elkins

Cami Broussard has her future all figured out. She'll finish her senior year of high school, then go to work full-time as an apprentice chef in her father's French restaurant, alongside her boyfriend, Luke. But then twenty-year-old ex-Marine Julian Wyatt comes to live with Cami's family while recovering from serious injuries. And suddenly Cami finds herself questioning everything she thought she wanted.

Julian's all attitude, challenges and intense green-brown eyes. But beneath that abrasive exterior is a man who just might be as lost as Cami's starting to feel. And Cami can't stop thinking about him. Talking to him. Wanting to kiss him. He's got her seriously stirred up. Her senior year has just gotten a lot more complicated...

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Great book. A story of a girl who thought she knew who she was but slowly started to realize that she has yet to discover not only who she is but what she wants in life. Being comfortable is always nice until you realize that there's so much more. That's when the trouble--or fun--begins! Life IS the messy bits, right? Cami can't stand Julian at first but as time goes on, Julian's presence in her life helps her see things in a new light and opens up new doors that she was scared to even approach before. 

Julian comes home from Afghanistan after the loss of a half of one of his legs. Not only is he dealing with a physical change but he is also dealing with PTSD. As he slowly comes to terms with the loss of his lower leg, being home and being alive, he turns to Cami for support. 

In a way, the two are both lost souls who are finding their way together and trying to forge a way to be together but chase after their own dreams. Sounds impossible. I'm actually pretty interested to see where their individual trips take them--Sabrina needs to write a book each on Cami's year abroad as well as Julian's year abroad!!

On a completely different note, I'm not going to lie...I was totally expecting something to come of Luke's text message to Taryn...! In short, it's a sweet story of young love finding their way into the real world.

My Rating: 4 stars

Ebook editions of Stir Me Up are now available for purchase at the following: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Bam, iTunes, Zola

Praise for Stir Me Up:
"Fun, steamy, and leaves you hungry for more. Sabrina Elkins nails the vulnerability of becoming an adult and the choices that come with growing up." --Katie McGarry, author of Dare You To

"Cami's slow burn for a wounded hero will rivet readers. I seriously loved this book." --Jennifer Echols, author of Dirty Little Secret

"This book is one of my favorite young adult contemporaries. Not only does it feature a hot romance, it's also very meaningful and well, you just have to read it and see." --#1 New York Times bestselling author Jennifer L. Armentrout 

About the Author

I am a former journalist who worked for the Los Angeles Daily News and other newspapersin the greater Los Angeles area. Prior to this I worked in advertising, writing ad copy for corporate travel accounts and major motion pictures. My first job out of college was as an administrative assistant to an executive chef and a food & beverage director at a Four Seasons hotel. I also spent some time working as a prep cook for Spago in Beverly Hills.

I received my Master's degree in Journalism from the University of Southern California. While in graduate school, I had the privilege of studying fiction writing under renowned author Hubert Selby, Jr., and comedy writing under famed comedian Shelley Berman. I am a past participant of the Squaw Valley Community of Writers Summer Writing Workshop.

Raised in the woods of Vermont, I now live in the greater Los Angeles area with my husband and three children. STIR ME UP is my first novel.

January 8, 2014

Searching for Someday by Jennifer Probst

Slade (what a name!), successful divorce lawyer, is intent on protecting his sister Jane from the manipulations of a matchmaking company. He signs up with the company convinced he will be able to unearth some sort of fraudulent activity. Kate, owner of said matchmaking company, has a gifted ability to tell by touch whether or not a couple are soulmates. With her well-grounded beliefs in this gift, she's been looking for "the one" for what seems like forever. Exhausted in her journey, she's all but given up. Then, from out of the blue, sparks literally fly between her and her new arch-nemesis-disguised-as-a-client, Slade! So this novel is basically a love-hate relationship with a constant battle of "we-should-we-really-shouldn't". We see the struggles that each of them have with themselves and how they overcome those obstacles in order to open themselves up to fall in love. Aw. There goes my heart!

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I'm in Love, LoVe, LOVE with Jennifer's novels so far. I have delved into a couple from her Marriage to a Billionaire series and am quite content with how this new Searching For... series is starting! So the little magic book that contains the love spell from the MTAB series is one of a few connections Jennifer makes to her other series. Otherwise, though, we're brought into a new circle of friends all looking for the same thing: love. Searching for Someday is a cute story: just enough sexy with a twist of magic.  As if sexy and magic isn't enough, there's a sweet puppy story tied into it which totally melted my heart. I'm all for rescuing animals so this part of the plot really got to me. The physical connection between Kate and Slade is as sizzling hot as their mental connection. The constant witty banter between the two is amusing and keeps the story going. I can't wait to read the next book in this series (uh-oh, another book to add to my never-ending-constantly-growing pile!!)!

My Rating: 5 stars

The Kindle and Paperback editions of Searching for Someday are available for purchase on Amazon!

January 6, 2014

Along Came Trouble by Erin Kern

Elisa Cardoso is a talented photographer with one goal in mind: to eventually take her passion and turn it into a career. Her dream is to eventually travel the world and photograph nature at its finest. Brody McDermott is the owner of a restaurant on its last legs. He hires Elisa in hopes that they can put together a spread that will help save his failing restaurant. 

From first sight, the attraction between Elisa and Brody is off the carts intense. The two can't keep their eyes off each other nor can either deny the instant attraction between each other. So what is one to do than to cave into ones desires :) If only it were so easy. Brody turns out to be Elisa's good friend, Kelly's, ex-husband. Alright, that means hands off, right? 

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Sidenote: I just realized that, as a blogger/book reviewer, I've been pretty crappy. I haven't actually rated any of the books that I've reviewed! I do apologize...well, new year, new beginnings, right? Let me start now, with this book. I'll be giving my reviews and synopsis as per usual and then will try to remember to rate the books on a scale of 1* (being crappy) to 5* (being awesomesauce). Please, do keep in mind that these ratings are according to my own personal taste in novels...some (probably, most) of you will not agree with me as I am no literary genius...so please don't shoot!

This was a nice story. Elisa seems like such a clean cut woman and she's caught in this huge messy web of friends, hot guy, their kid and her feelings. The novel seems to give every part of it just enough attention and detail to have depth, yet, doesn't drag on to be boring. You're given a good amount of insight to both characters and how they feel which is nice. The ending is a sweet one, too, if only a little unrealistic (but, let's be honest, are any of these romance novel endings realistic?).

My rating: 3.5 stars

Kindle and Paperback versions of Along Came Trouble are available for purchase on Amazon!