Friday, January 31, 2014

One Week Girlfriend by Monica Murphy

***1/2


From Random House:


Temporary.  That's the word I'd use to describe my life right now.  I'm temporarily working double shifts - at least until I can break free.  I'm temporarily raising my little brother - since apparently our actual mother doesn't give a crap about either of us.  And I always end up as nothing but the temporary girlfriend - the flavor of the week for every guy who's heard the rumor that I give it up so easily.  

At least Drew Callahan, college football legend and local golden boy, is upfront about it.  He needs someone to play the part of his girlfriend for one week.  In exchange for cash.  As if that's not weird enough, ever since he brought me into his world, nothing really makes sense.  Everyone hates me.  Everyone wants something from him.  And yet the only thing Drew seems to want is...me.  

I don't know what to believe anymore.  Drew is sweet, sexy, and hiding way more secrets than I am.  All I know is, I want to be there for him - permanently.  



I'll be honest.  I didn't love the writing style of One Week Girlfriend, but it is a compelling story that kept me involved.  These characters are all kinds of messed up and have a completely messed up relationship.  If you don't like books that deal with sexual abuse, I wouldn't recommend this series.

The book deals with a lot of complex issues - abandonment, lack of self-esteem or self-worth, sexual abuse and dysfunction - all woven together in a story that will keep you interested and involved.  After reading One Week Girlfriend, I had to jump immediately to Second Chance Boyfriend.   Plus, the covers are hot. 



~Shel

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Through the Ever Night by Veronica Rossi

Through the Ever Night (Under the Never Sky, #2)
* * * * *

It's been months since Aria learned of her mother's death. 

Months since Perry became Blood Lord of the Tides, and months since Aria last saw him.

Now Aria and Perry are about to be reunited. It's a moment they've been longing for with countless expectations. And it's a moment that lives up to all of them. At least, at first. 

Then it slips away. The Tides don't take kindly to former Dwellers like Aria. And the tribe is swirling out of Perry's control. With the Aether storms worsening every day, the only remaining hope for peace and safety is the Still Blue. But does this haven truly exist?

Threatened by false friends and powerful temptations, Aria and Perry wonder, Can their love survive through the ever night? 

In this second book in her spellbinding Under the Never Sky trilogy, Veronica Rossi combines fantasy and sci-fi elements to create a captivating adventure-and a love story as perilous as it is unforgettable.




Review:

Sometimes I make really poor reading decisions.  Like that time I waited a year to read Through the Ever Night.  Because that meant it had been 2 years since I had read Under the Never Sky and for a few chapters I was thoroughly confused.  I couldn’t remember SO MANY THINGS.  Details that I am sure I was convinced were etched in my memory forever when I first read it. Fortunately, my memory was jogged and I was not only reminded of things I had forgotten but I also got to experience, AGAIN, the full on thrill that is reading Aria and Perry’s story.

Through the Ever Night begins with Perry finding Aria after she has just left Reverie.  She is on the search for the elusive Still Blue.  The mythical place where the skies are blue and there is no Aether to instill constant fear in the land’s inhabitants.  If she can find that, then Hess will release Talon back to his uncle Peregrine AND maybe Perry can move the Tides somewhere safe.  Aria first returns to the Tides with Perry and his men so that Perry can prepare and then go on the search for the Still Blue with Aria.

To the people of the Tides, Aria is obviously a Dweller.  Regardless of her distinction as an Aud and their Blood Lord’s acceptance of her, she is still the enemy and they do not want her there.  Perry insists that she be marked as Aud during her stay with the Tides.  During the marking ceremony, Perry senses something has gone terribly wrong.  The ink used for the marking has been poisoned and Aria is becoming increasingly ill.  That attempt on her life shows Aria that Perry is still working on gaining the loyalty of his tribe.  Leaving now would only prove to the Tides that he is not ready to lead.  Early the next morning, Aria and Roar take off to search for the Still Blue.  Without Perry.

Although hurt, Perry understands why Aria and Roar left without him.  He concentrates on taking care of his tribe and preparing for the ever increasing Aether storms.  Hoping that Aria and Roar will return with good news before it is too late.

Aria has become such a strong and brave character.  The soft girl from the beginning of Under the Never Sky has become a hunter, a fighter and a warrior.  A young woman that makes quick calculated decisions while remaining loyal to those that she loves.  As for Perry, we see Perry grow so much in this book.  He is a warrior reluctantly turned Blood Lord.  And he is young and inexperienced in being a leader.  But he is sure about one thing.  He loves the Tides.  And he wants his tribe to be safe and survive.  Those two things will hopefully be enough to gain the support he needs to continue.   And then there is the ever passionate Roar.  His and Aria’s sibling-like relationship is wonderful to watch.  And their need to protect each other is life saving numerous times.

Veronica Rossi hits another home run with Through the Ever Night.  If you are a fan of dystopian, fantasy and/or science fiction YA, then this is a series that you should check out.

Nat

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Edge of Always (The Edge of Never #2) by J.A. Redmerski

* * * * 


Five months ago, Camryn and Andrew, both dealing with personal hardships, met on a Greyhound bus. They fell in love and proved that when two people are meant to be together, fate will find a way to make it happen.

Now, in the highly anticipated sequel to The Edge of Never, Camryn and Andrew are pursuing their love for music and living life to the fullest as they always swore to do. But when tragedy befalls them, their relationship is put to the ultimate test. As Camryn tries to numb her pain, Andrew makes a bold decision: To get their life back on track, they'll set out on another cross-country road trip. Together they find excitement, passion, adventure-and challenges they never could have anticipated.



Reading The Edge of Never made for a great start to my new year. They may have only been words but I felt just as much as if I was on the open road as Camryn and Andrew and it made me that much more anxious for Always

Camryn and Andrew are blissfully, ridiculously, nauseatingly in love. They’re living in Galveston, Andrew healthy and Camryn glowing, content with where they are in life for the most part. Camryn is missing North Carolina so they return for a brief visit where they experience an unfortunate event. This time the devastation is so personal for Camryn that she resorts to a dangerous way to ease her pain. When Andrew sees her potential downward spiral, he decides the best medicine is to remove themselves from their surroundings and go on another roadtrip.

It’s amazing how much Andrew loves and adores Camryn completely. He notices all the little things about her, knows when something is off, understands her body language and anticipates her every move. And he’s ever so patient with her as the fog slowly lifts  from her head.

Despite the tragedy that happens at the beginning, this roadtrip is even better than the previous one. They’re so at ease with each other now that they’re even more fun. Their destinations and activities speak to who they are and they are a unit. They’re growing up, realizing that they need to find a balance to sustain their wanderlust lifestyle. Whatever they decide to do, they refuse to compromise who they are and what they love.  My favorite passages are when they come up with promises they make to each other that come into play later. These vows they make are unique and true to them.

Even with how much I loved the premise of Never, I still approached Always with a teeny tiny sliver of skepticism. I mean as exciting as it is to just take off, it also feels so reckless. But that’s what’s compelling about this series  breaking free, exploring and not worrying about having it all mapped out in front of you. They enjoy every moment they have together and immerse themselves in whatever surroundings they're in. (It's fun when we skip a few years into the future and see how their lives have panned out. I was all smiles by this point.) Their dreams may be idealistic but they’re making them happen. 

I am in love The Edge of Always and even think it surpasses its predecessor. Better yet, I have found a new fictional boyfriend in Andrew. He's all grown up and has eyes for just one lady in his life. Andrew sets the bar very high and when you read it too you’ll understand why!

~ Bel






Monday, January 27, 2014

Covet Blast - January Releases!

Check out the awesome Covet releases and a great giveaway!  Thanks Entangled Covet!


Covets have all the sexiness, emotion, and happily ever after that readers have come to expect and love from Entangled. They are firmly grounded in the contemporary world, but each novel brings in supernatural twists, breaking the contemporary and paranormal rules, alike. To find out more about their titles, chat with authors, participate in special events, and to find out what books you’ll be coveting next, visit the Entangled website, follow them on Twitter, LIKE their Facebook page, and join the Book Club.

Also, make sure to hop on over the Entangled in Romance blog to join in the fun as Covet challenges readers to share their worst date stories. The worse, the better, hold no punches!

Today I'm happy to be featuring Covet's January releases:


Love at Stake by Victoria Davies

Abbey is the lone human working for Fated Match, a company that pairs members of the supernatural community with their eternal mates.

To snag a young vampire socialite as their next client, Abbey journeys to the home of Lucian Redgrave, the oldest vampire on the East Coast. But he's not willing to allow his vampire daughter to use the agency... unless Abbey can first find his perfect match in a month.

As Abbey coaches Lucian through his dates, she can’t deny the chemistry between them. But humans are toys for vampires, and risking her heart isn't a part of the plan.




Haunt Me by Heather Long

Recently divorced author MacKenzie Dillon has lost her writing mojo. When she inherits her great aunt’s haunted house in Virginia, she is determined to make a new start. The creepy old house provides inspiration but at what cost?

Successful architect and paranormal skeptic Justin Kent returns to Penny Hollow to fulfill his father’s dying wish of revitalizing their small town. To do that, he needs the allegedly haunted estate at Summerfield. Mac, the new owner, may be gorgeous and spunky, but she refuses to sell.

These two have a dangerous history that spans the ages, but will they discover the truth in time to save their lives?



a Rafflecopter giveaway a Rafflecopter giveaway

A Peek In The BiblioBin #86





Welcome to our Stacking the Shelves post! Stacking the Shelves (or as we like to call it, A Peek in the BiblioBin) has been created by the lovely ladies at Tynga's Reviews.

Friday, January 24, 2014

The Academy: Introductions by C. L. Stone

Introductions (The Academy, #1)

With an agoraphobic mother and a barely-there father, Sang abhors the isolation keeping her in the shadows. The only thing Sang craves is a fresh start and to be accepted as ordinary by her peers, because for her being different meant being cast out alone.

When her family moves to a new school district, Sang infiltrates a group of boys nearly perfect in every way. Grateful for an influence outside of her parents’ negativity, she quickly bonds with the boys, hoping to blend in and learn from them what it means to have a natural relationship with friends.

Only the boys have secrets of their own and they’ll do anything to keep her safe from the knowledge of the mysterious Academy that they've sworn allegiance to. Bit by bit, Sang discovers that her friends are far from the normalcy she expected. Will her loyalty change when she's forced to remain in the dark, or will she accept that she's traded one house of secrets for another?

Meet Kota, Victor, Silas, Nathan, Gabriel, Luke and North in a story about differences and loyalty, truth and mystery, friendships and heart-throbbing intimacy.

The Academy, ever vigilant.



Review: 

This is not an easy review to write.  Even if I am feeling lukewarm about a book, I try to find some positives to pass along.  Because, as well all know, just because I didn’t love it doesn’t mean someone else won’t.   But hard as I have tried (and trust me, I’ve been trying all day) I cannot think of a single thing I enjoyed about this book.

The first thing that threw me off was Sang.  The story begins with Sang running away for a night.  Before she is even a few houses away from home she is run over by her neighbor’s dog.  Her neighbor, Kota, takes her to his house so she can clean up and then convinces her to stay the night (she sleeps on the bed and he on the trundle).  The next day Kota introduces her to Victor and Silas and over the next few days she meets the other boys in varying circumstances.  The synopsis says that she “infiltrates” this group of boys.   I think that statement implies action on her part.  She doesn’t seek out these new friends.  She stumbles upon them quite accidentally and thanks to the controlling and abusive environment at home, she allows them to lead her without any concern to her own safety.   In the short time frame in which this book takes place, Sang shows zero growth.  We only see her weaknesses and no strengths.

The other problem I had were the boys.  Now, we all know how much we love our fictional boyfriends.  And you would think out of seven heroes I would be able to find at least ONE new boyfriend.  But I couldn’t.  These guys are overbearing and controlling.  Almost every scene with Sang and these boys set my teeth on edge.  So many instances struck me as inappropriate and unsafe.  All I could see were overprotective boys taking advantage of a young abused girl and her lack of boundaries.  And speaking of the abuse, she ends up telling these boys of the abuse and none of them do anything.  Seven young men and not a single one of them tells an adult that the girl they just met was just forced to gulp down a glass of vinegar and lemon juice so she wouldn’t be able to talk to boys on the phone? Yeah, just like her mom, those guys are real winners.

And the final straw was that this book contained no plot. Its sole purpose was to introduce us to Sang and her seven new friends.   It is very likely the plot that the synopsis alludes to is in future books.  Unfortunately, this “Introduction” turned me off so much that I will not be reading the following installments to find out what that plot might be.

I take no enjoyment in writing this review.  I do want to say that my feelings on this book are entirely personal.  And just because it’s not for me, doesn’t mean it may not be for you.

Nat

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Edge of Never (The Edge of Never #1) by J.A. Redmerski

* * * *

Recommended for ages 17 years+


Twenty-year-old Camryn Bennett had always been one to think out-of-the-box, who knew she wanted something more in life than following the same repetitive patterns and growing old with the same repetitive life story. And she thought that her life was going in the right direction until everything fell apart.

Determined not to dwell on the negative and push forward, Camryn is set to move in with her best friend and plans to start a new job. But after an unexpected night at the hottest club in downtown North Carolina, she makes the ultimate decision to leave the only life she’s ever known, far behind.

With a purse, a cell phone and a small bag with a few necessities, Camryn, with absolutely no direction or purpose boards a Greyhound bus alone and sets out to find herself. What she finds is a guy named Andrew Parrish, someone not so very different from her and who harbors his own dark secrets. But Camryn swore never to let down her walls again. And she vowed never to fall in love.

But with Andrew, Camryn finds herself doing a lot of things she never thought she’d do. He shows her what it’s really like to live out-of-the-box and to give in to her deepest, darkest desires. On their sporadic road-trip he becomes the center of her exciting and daring new life, pulling love and lust and emotion out of her in ways she never imagined possible. But will Andrew’s dark secret push them inseparably together, or tear them completely apart?


I had one single thought as I began reading The Edge of Never, “why haven’t I read this sooner?”. I had bought the book almost a year ago. It sounded so appealing at the time but somehow life managed to get busy as usual and I got distracted by other shiny objects and this had to wait. There has to be something said for things coming about at the right time or place because this time around, there were no excuses to set this aside.

I think what I liked most about Camryn is that she spoke for those of us who have this sense of wanderlust. How many of us wish that we could just chuck aside adult responsibility a bit? I relished living vicariously through her as she decided one day to screw work and her mundane routine to head out on a bus to that mecca of awesomeness – Idaho.  I didn't see her as pessimistic or whiney. She needed to make drastic changes in her life because she knew she was restricted by her current circumstance.  Going away for a while allowed her that distance to think freely and just breath. Then Andrew gets on the bus at one of the stops and the contemplative, quiet bus ride becomes interesting.

One word to describe Camryn and Andrew together: electric. They’re sort of opposites-attract who are in similar places in their lives looking for freedom. After being in Camryn’s head for a few chapters, I was happy (and surprised because I wasn't expecting it) to read Andrew’s narrative because his take on her is so spot on. The fact that she finds him rather obnoxious in the beginning doesn't hurt their chemistry. In fact, there were a few times where I laughed out loud because they reminded me of me and my hubby – he likes to rile me up, tease me and mess with me just the way Andrew does with Camryn.  It’s no surprise that she eventually goes from sour to light-hearted when they eventually go off on their road trip.  As for Andrew, he’s just a dream. Looks aside, the guy is good-hearted and even looked out for Camryn (unbeknownst to her) before they got to know each other. He's a stud who carries no pretense or insecurities. He snaps her out of her funk. He wakes her up to new possibilities, encouraging her to let loose and throw caution to the wind every once in a while. He's not perfect and he's secretive about his problems so Camyrn gives him the space he needs. She's there for him as much as he is for her.  

In this day and age where everyone is skeptical and overtly cautious, I was happy to read about a couple taking a gigantic leap of faith. Traveling around the country with a stranger is not exactly the brightest thing to do but once again, being there at the right time and place, there was a reason these two were drawn together. The longer they're together chipping away at their exteriors, the deeper their affection grows. And that chemistry I mentioned earlier? WOW! Their intensity makes sense after their time together and how they've grown to feel about each other. That's not to say there weren't a few details that bothered me as their relationship intensified but still they're amazing together.

I say if you’re a romantic and love adventure, this is your book. Even with the few minor issues I had, the greatest joy I had was reading how Camryn and Andrew, through their own personal pain transform each other into better people. Oh and Redmerski provides us with a pretty stellar soundtrack for this road trip. I really liked it and I hope you do too!

~ Bel



Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (89)


Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that highlights future releases that we are excitedly anticipating.



The Summer I Found You
By Jolene Perry
Publication Date: March 1, 2014

All they have in common is that they're less than perfect. And all they're looking for is the perfect distraction.

Kate's dream boyfriend has just broken up with her and she's still reeling from her diagnosis of type 1 diabetes. Aidan planned on being a lifer in the army and went to Afghanistan straight out of high school. Now he's a disabled young veteran struggling to embrace his new life. When Kate and Aidan find each other neither one wants to get attached. But could they be right for each other after all?


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Forever Young Blog Tour





Happy Tuesday everyone! It's an especially happy day because not only are we featuring four fantastic authors, you also have the chance to participate in another great giveaway thanks to our friends at Forever Romance! 

So grab a warm beverage and get cozy.  Enjoy and good luck!

~ Shel, Bel & Nat



MASQUERADE by Nyrae Dawn (January 7, 2014; Forever E-Book; 9781455576333; $3.99)

A biker. A tattoo artist. A love to last a lifetime.  

Maddox Cross has always had to be tough. When his father went to jail for murder, the teenager took care of his sister and mother. Now on his own and working security at a night club, Maddox wants to become a tattoo artist-a dream that comes closer to reality when he falls for the hottest, most tatted woman he's ever seen. She's wild and beautiful, and Maddox will do anything to be with her.

Bee Malone came to town to open up her new tattoo parlor, Masquerade. Since being kidnapped as a young girl, Bee has had trouble getting close to anyone. But when she meets Maddox, she sees that under his hard biker's body is the sensitive soul of an artist. What starts out as a sizzling one-night stand soon becomes so much more.
Bee wants Maddox to join her tattoo business, but letting him into her life means revealing all her most intimate secrets. And as the past begins to intertwine with her present, Bee fears their love may not be as permanent as their ink . . .

Bio:
Writing has always been Nyrae Dawn's passion. Nyrae gravitates toward character-driven stories. She loves going on emotional journeys with characters whether it be reading or writing. And yes, she's a total romantic at heart and proud.

Nyrae resides in sunny Southern California with her husband (who still makes her swoon) and her two awesome kids.

When she's not with her family, you can be pretty sure you'll find her with a book in her hand or her laptop and an open document in front of her. Nyrae also writes adult romance under the name Kelley Vitollo.

Visit Nyrae:

Where you can buy her book:



THE DESTINY OF VIOLET & LUKE by Jessica Sorensen (January 7, 2014; Forever E-Book; 9781455576524; $2.99)

Luke Price's life has always been about order, control, and acting tough on the outside. For Luke, meaningless relationships are a distraction-a way to tune out the twisted memories of his childhood. He desperately wishes he could forget his past, but it haunts him no matter what he does.
Violet Hayes has had a rough life. When she was young, she was left with no family and the memory of her parents' unsolved murders. She grew up in foster homes, living with irresponsible parents, drugs, and neglect, and trying to fight the painful memories of the night her parents were taken from her. But it's hard to forget when she never got closure-and she can't stop dreaming about what happened that tragic night. To make it through life, she keeps her distance from everyone and never allows herself to feel anything.

Then Violet meets Luke. The two clash instantly, yet they can't seem to stay away from each other. Although they fight it, they both start to open up and feel things they've never felt before. They discover just how similar they are. But they also discover something else: The past always catches up with you . . .

Bio: The New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Jessica Sorensen, lives with her husband and three kids. When she's not writing, she spends her time reading and hanging out with her family.

Visit Jessica:

Where you can buy her book:



SONG OF THE FIREFLIES by J.A. Redmerski (February 4, 2014; Forever E-Book; 9781455555048; $3.99)

THE TRUTH WILL SET THEM FREE  

Brayelle Bates has always been a force of nature. Even as a child, Bray's wild and carefree spirit intimidated everyone around her. The only person who's ever truly understood her is her best friend, Elias Kline. Though every fiber of her being wants to stay with Elias forever, Bray can't bear the thought of him discovering her agonizing history. She's done everything she can to keep him at arm's length, including moving away. But their undying bond was too strong a pull to deny, and Bray couldn't survive without him. Now she's back home with Elias, and things have never felt more right-until one night changes everything.

Elias vowed never to be separated from Bray again. So when she decides to flee in a desperate attempt to escape her fate, Elias knows he must go with her. As the two try to make the most of their circumstance, taking up with a reckless group of new friends, Elias soon realizes there's a darkness driving Bray he can't ignore. Now in order to save her, he'll have to convince Bray to accept the consequences of their reality-even if it means losing her.

Bio:
J.A. Redmerski, New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author lives in North Little Rock, Arkansas with her three children, two cats and a Maltese. She is a lover of television and books that push boundaries and is a huge fan of AMC's The Walking Dead.

Visit J.A. Redmerski:

Where you can buy her book:



UNDONE by Shannon Richard (February 25, 2014; Forever Mass Market; 9781455544691; $6.00)

Things Paige Morrison will never understand about Mirabelle, Florida:  

Why wearing red shoes makes a girl a harlot
Why a shop would ever sell something called "buck urine"
Why everywhere she goes, she runs into sexy-and infuriating-Brendan King

After losing her job, her apartment, and her boyfriend, Paige has no choice but to leave Philadelphia and move in with her retired parents. For an artsy outsider like Paige, finding her place in the tightly knit town isn't easy-until she meets Brendan, the hot mechanic who's interested in much more than Paige's car. In no time at all, Brendan helps Paige find a new job, new friends, and a happiness she wasn't sure she'd ever feel again. With Brendan by her side, Paige finally feels like she can call Mirabelle home. But when a new bombshell drops, will the couple survive, or will their love come undone?

Bio:
Shannon Richard grew up in the Florida Panhandle as the baby sister of two overly protective but loving brothers. She was raised by a more than somewhat eccentric mother, a self-proclaimed vocabularist who showed her how to get lost in a book and a father who passed on his love for coffee and really loud music. She graduated from Florida State University with a BA in English Literature and still lives in Tallahassee where she battles everyday life with writing, reading, and a rant every once in a while. Okay, so the rants might happen on a regular basis. She's still waiting for her Southern, scruffy, Mr. Darcy, and in the meantime writes love stories to indulge her overactive imagination. Oh, and she's a pretty big fan of the whimsy.

Visit Shannon:

Where you can buy her book:




Monday, January 20, 2014

A Peek In The BiblioBin #85




Welcome to our Stacking the Shelves post! Stacking the Shelves (or as we like to call it, A Peek in the BiblioBin) has been created by the lovely ladies at Tynga's Reviews.

Stacking the Shelves is a way for bloggers to share what books they have won, received for review, bought from the bookstore, borrowed from the library or friend, etc.



For Review:


Royally Lost by Angie Stanton


Borrowed:


Mad About The Boy (Bridget Jones #3) by Helen Fielding


Purchased:


Living Violet (The Cambion Chronicles #1) by Jaime Reed



Uninvited (Uninvted #1) by Sophie Jordan

* * * * 1/2




The Scarlet Letter meets Minority Report in bestselling author Sophie Jordan's chilling new novel about a teenage girl who is ostracized when her genetic test proves she's destined to become a murderer.

When Davy Hamilton's tests come back positive for Homicidal Tendency Syndrome (HTS)-aka the kill gene-she loses everything. Her boyfriend ditches her, her parents are scared of her, and she can forget about her bright future at Juilliard. Davy doesn't feel any different, but genes don't lie. One day she will kill someone.

Only Sean, a fellow HTS carrier, can relate to her new life. Davy wants to trust him; maybe he's not as dangerous as he seems. Or maybe Davy is just as deadly.

The first in a two-book series, Uninvited tackles intriguing questions about free will, identity, and human nature. Steeped in New York Times bestselling author Sophie Jordan's trademark mix of gripping action and breathless romance, this suspenseful tale is perfect for fans of James Patterson, Michelle Hodkin, and Lisa McMann.



This has to be one of my favorites reads for the latter half of 2013 for a couple of reasons: one, it's slightly dystopian-ish without being full on dystopian and two, this is unlike anything of Sophie Jordan's I've read so far. 

There’s definitely a very futuristic feel to Uninvited but what’s described in here could very well take place today. May be that's what makes this whole story so unnerving. Davy starts out a very normal girl living a very normal life, going to school and hanging with her friends and her boyfriend.  At this point we’ve all been conditioned to know that when the “I love you’s” are declared, something will inevitably go wrong.  And so it does.

The government-mandated HTS test that everyone must take to determine if they have the “killer”  gene comes back positive for Davy. As a result, she is kicked out of her private school and has to attend a local public school.  What makes it worse is that because she has been deemed a potential killer, she’s not even allowed to attend classes with the rest of the school population. She is essentially locked up in a cage with other future offenders.  As if that isn’t enough, her friends from her former life have completely abandoned her, including her boyfriend. What follows is Davy’s very painful and lonely introduction into this new world of second-class citizenship where she is eyed with disdain and suspicion. The wrong move on her part can lead to bad repercussions for her. Her dreams of going to Juillard are over. Any hope of a successful career in any field is impossible. Even the simple act of walking down the street is now a dangerous venture for her.

As I read this I couldn’t help but think that this story offered a fantastic opportunity to discuss the whole nature vs nurture debate.  I came up with a few questions:

Can predicting someone’s potential as a killer actually prevent a tragedy from happening? Os is that just damning someone to an uncertain fate?
        
        Doesn’t ostracizing an entire group of people and treating them as scum only create animosity and bitterness in them?  Wouldn’t that trigger a violent reaction in some because they were pushed in that direction?

       What is the role of rehabilitation in this and can you rehabilitate someone who hasn’t yet demonstrated a penchant for violent behavior?

Okay, I know this is sort of heavy stuff but all these questions and more flooded my mind as I read Uninvited at an amazing speed.  I felt so anxious for Davy and her new friends, growing more concerned for her during the second half of the book as she morphed into a different person. That change is thanks in part to the government and its questionable agenda for all the HTS carriers.


All I can say is that Uninvited had me wound up the entire time. To me it was such an interesting concept that stimulated a lot of thought and considering how things have played out so far, there’s certainly plenty of room to maneuver in the sequel. There is a love angle in there too but that doesn’t consume the story at all. Davy is her own rock and she’s gearing up to face what’s next.

~ Bel


Friday, January 17, 2014

Once In A Lifetime by Jill Shalvis

****
From Forever/Grand Central Publishing:


Sometimes Wrong Is Oh-So-Right

After a wrenching loss, Ben McDaniel tried to escape his grief by working in dangerous, war-torn places like Africa and the Middle East.  Now he's back in his hometown and face-to-face with Aubrey Wellington, the hot-as-hell woman who is trouble with a capital T.  Family and friends insist she's not the one to ease his pain, but Aubrey sparks an intense desire that gives Ben hope for the future.

Determined to right the wrongs of her past, Aubrey is working hard to make amends.  But by far, the toughest challenge to her plan is sexy, brooding Ben - even though he has absolutely no idea what she's done...
Can this unlikely couple defy the odds and win over the little town of Lucky Harbor?


I really enjoyed Once in a Lifetime.  I didn't find the romance as steamy as a typical Jill Shalvis book, but I loved the premise here.  Seeking forgiveness and redemption for your past mistakes - it makes for some heartwarming and hilarious scenarios.  While Aubrey is trying to make up for her mean girl past, she's learning that karma is a bitch.  Some of the wrongs Aubrey tries to right are a touch nonsensical - replanting a watermelon patch or returning a library book, but others, like attempting to fix her relationship with her sister and her confession to Ben, may break your heart.

Ben, on the other hand, is learning how to deal with being home (instead of some third-world or disaster ridden country) and to connect with people again.  I love the relationship between Ben, Luke and Jack - how they share feelings with sarcasm and call each other on their shit.  And when Ben and Aubrey spend some quality time seeking redemption and fixing up Aubrey's bookstore, love is inevitable.  

The cameo appearances and updates on some of our favorite Lucky Harbor characters are fantastic.  Who doesn't love Lucille?  Seriously, that old lady is as calculating and manipulative as they come, and I love it!  So, if you are looking for a trip back to the magical world of Lucky Harbor, pick up Once in a Lifetime and enjoy.

~Shel







Thursday, January 16, 2014

A Million Little Snowflakes by Logan Byrne

* * * 1/2




Oliver Hurst has always been abnormally normal.

His grades are horrible, his best friend just left for Utah, and he's depressed. His overly religious parents don’t help, especially since they control every facet of his life. One stupid sentence said in desperation gets Oliver tossed in an adolescent psych ward, where his depression and fears become even more of a reality.

When Oliver meets snide, tough girl Lacey Waters he doesn't think his life could get any better, that is, until she becomes the ray of sunshine he has desperately needed on his cloudiest of days.


BiblioJunkie Nat and I have occasional conversations about the impact of religion on our lives and how we perceive it as adults with families of our own which is why A Million Little Snowflakes appealed to me.

It’s painfully clear how Oliver’s ├╝ber-religious mother controls her children. Any wayward move, no matter how innocent, means church counseling. Sometimes even worse. In this particular case, all he does is mention that he’s been feeling depressed lately and she takes him to the pastor who begins to perform an exorcisim on him.  Apparently the devil needs to be driven from his body. Oliver views all of this as unhelpful nonsense. At dinner, in a desperate attempt to deflect attention away from his poor SAT results he's been hiding, he blurts out that he wants to kill himself. It’s absolutely not true and it’s not exactly the brightest thing to say. To deal with this his dad immediately checks him into a psych ward.

As bizarre as it is at first, it becomes a mini vacation for him to be away from his stifling household. He’s finally able to think clearly about where he’s at in his life. Getting to know the kids who are in there with him offers him the chance to see that plenty of other kids come from dysfunctional situations as well. Lacey especially captures his attention because she’s the complete opposite of him. She initially despises him but warms up to him as she realizes that she would also like something different.

Oliver is remarkably introspective. Instead of seeing his stay at the psych ward as a negative, irrational move on behalf of his parents, he sees it as a mental respite from his home life. He finally has a chance to freely voice his own opinions as when he’s in one-on-one sessions with the psychiatrist. While I didn’t like the automatic prescribing of pills which it didn’t appear that Oliver needed, I did like that he was given the space to think aloud.

As a protagonist, Oliver is one of the nice guys. He’s not a rebel, at least not in the normal terms though his church would see it otherwise. He’s simply a teenage boy who wants personal space and the ability to speak for himself. He needs his parents to recognize that and accept him for it. Oliver’s opposition to his mother’s ultra-religious thinking causes a major rift. That is perhaps one of the main points of the story – acceptance. How should acceptance work and on whose terms? And if there are terms, can it truly be considered acceptance?

Logan Byrne’s novel undoubtedly gave me plenty to think and he did so without involving too much melodrama. I will say the ending caught me off guard slightly even though I was waiting for something to happen. I gasped and then thought, “Really? That’s how this ends?”. Don’t worry though because it doesn’t take away from how wonderful this story is.

~ Bel




Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (88)


Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that highlights future releases that we are excitedly anticipating.

By Veronica Rossi
Publication Date: January 28, 2014

Into the Still Blue (Under the Never Sky, #3)The earth-shattering conclusion to Veronica Rossi's "masterpiece" Under the Never Sky trilogy and sequel to the New York Times bestselling Through the Ever Night (Examiner.com).

Their love and their leadership have been tested. Now it's time for Perry and Aria to unite the Dwellers and the Outsiders in one last desperate attempt to bring balance to their world.

The race to the Still Blue has reached a stalemate. Aria and Perry are determined to find this last safe-haven from the Aether storms before Sable and Hess do-and they are just as determined to stay together.

Meanwhile, time is running out to rescue Cinder, who was abducted by Hess and Sable for his unique abilities. And when Roar returns to camp, he is so furious with Perry that he won't even look at him, and Perry begins to feel like they have already lost.

Out of options, Perry and Aria assemble a team to mount an impossible rescue mission-because Cinder isn't just the key to unlocking the Still Blue and their only hope for survival, he's also their friend. And in a dying world, the bonds between people are what matter most.

In this final book in her stunning Under the Never Sky trilogy, Veronica Rossi raises the stakes to their absolute limit and brings her epic love story to an unforgettable close.


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

All Fired Up by Kate Meader


Her sweetest mistake...

Cool as a Chicago winter, private events planner Cara DeLuca is a model of self-control... until she meets the only temptation she can't resist: Shane Doyle.  The sexy, Irish pastry chef is too hot, too sure, too young, and after a crazy night in Vegas - her new husband.  While at first Cara wants nothing more than a way out of her sham marriage to Shane, she soon finds that beneath his farm boy demeanor lies a man who can match her drive, both in and out of the bedroom.  How can the wrong guy feel so deliciously right?

...Tastes so, so good.  
Shane has carefully structured his career and life around one goal: connecting with the family that doesn't know he exists.  Marrying a woman with more issues than a magazine stand wasn't part of the plan, but melting Cara's icy exterior is so worth the detour.  Now as the annulment date nears and long-buried secrets are revealed, Shane will have to fight for the one thing guaranteeing the perfect life he craves... the current Mrs. Shane Doyle.  

I love the premise behind All Fired Up - the crazy Vegas night that ends up with the two main characters married and trying to figure out where to go next.  It's full of potential for funny, awkward good times.  Unfortunately, there wasn't much funny about All Fired Up.  Kate Meader definitely took a more serious route, taking on issues of abuse and eating disorders in the path to true love.  

While All Fired Up was more serious than I was hoping for, it was a decent story.  The path to true love never runs smooth and it certainly does not for people with as much baggage as Shane and Cara.  Shane grew up with an abusive, alcoholic father and Cara has an eating disorder.  They both have family issues galore, which makes the idea of their marriage difficult to accept.  Their happily ever after will be hard won.  

All Fired Up is the second in this series.  I'd will have to go back and read the first, Feel the Heat.  Get more info from Kate's website:  www.katemeader.com.

~Shel 



Monday, January 13, 2014

A Peek In The BiblioBin #84




Welcome to our Stacking the Shelves post! Stacking the Shelves (or as we like to call it, A Peek in the BiblioBin) has been created by the lovely ladies at Tynga's Reviews.

Stacking the Shelves is a way for bloggers to share what books they have won, received for review, bought from the bookstore, borrowed from the library or friend, etc.



Purchased:


Behind The Curtain by Amy Lane

Friday, January 10, 2014

Rumor Has It by Jill Shalvis

Rumor Has It (Animal Magnetism, #4)* * * 1/2

He’ll help unleash the new woman in her…

Special Ops soldier Griffin Reid doesn’t exactly have happy memories of growing up in Sunshine, Idaho. He’s only come back to recover from a war injury, and while he refuses to admit he’s in a weakened state, he finds comfort in the last person he’d expect.

Kate Evans teaches second grade science in Sunshine, the place she’s always called home. Dreaming of graduate school and a happily-ever-after, she’s desperate to break out of the monotony of Sunshine. Luckily, a certain sexy man has just come back into her life.

To Griffin, Kate as always been his little sister’s friend, but now he’s finding her to be so much more. As both attempt to forge their paths, they must decide if their passionate connection can turn into something lasting…


Review:

It’s no secret that we are big fans of Ms. Shalvis.  She is hilarious and is frighteningly in sync with our social awkward tendencies.  And that social awkwardness is what makes Rumor Has It fun and entertaining.

When Kate first runs into her old crush (and her BFF’s brother), Griffin Reid, she has just fallen on the pavement and is pretty sure she has broken her arse.  And her embarrassment is not relieved at all by the fact that her purse has exploded and the ground is littered with duct tape, donuts, condoms and tampons.  What follows is an amusing exchange that will leave you thinking Kate is completely loveable and appreciating Griffin’s cool amusement.

As far heroine’s go, Kate Evans is pretty great.  She takes care of her dad and younger siblings while still maintaining her independence.  She successfully wrangles 2nd graders while teaching them science.  She has an awesomely fun and loyal former boyfriend turned wingman (their relationship might be my favorite part of the book).  She’s able to take chaotic situations and just go with the flow.  And she spouts scientific facts whenever she is nervous.

Griffin:  Duct tape and a Trojan.  Big plans for the day?
Kate:  The Trojans built protective walls around their city.  Like condoms. That’s where the name Trojan comes from.  
Griffin: Gotta love those Trojans.  Do you carry the condom around just to give people a history lesson?

Oh, so awkward.  And yet, so hilarious.  Yeah.  Kate Evans is pretty great.

Griffin is pretty great too.  But it took me a while to warm up to him.  Because the unfortunate truth of the matter is that I am just not an Alpha man sorta girl.  Not that they aren’t sexy.  And *phew*, Griffin is DEFINITELY sexy.  That dark hair, gray eyes and stubble?  Yes, please.  The problem is that uncommunicative heroes do nothing for me.  It doesn’t matter how sexy you are.  So many times I wanted to hit Griffin over the head and say in my best Lois Griffin voice, “USE YOUR WORDS!”

But there were a lot of things I DID like about Griffin.  I loved how great he was with Kate’s little brother.  I loved how he managed to keep a level head (most of the time) when dealing with his father.  I loved how he was smart enough to bring the girl her hurt, ice cream.  And I loved that, when it counted most, he found those damn words he had such a hard time voicing.

It takes some time (because Griffin is trying to be a good big brother and NOT bone his sister’s BFF) but Kate finally manages to seduce Griffin.  These two loveable characters surprise each other when their one night stand builds into a deeper relationship that neither of them was really planning.  And they will have to decide if their burgeoning relationship is worth fitting into their rapidly changing lives.  The ending to this story is slightly predictable but the journey to Kate and Griffin’s Happy Ever After is thoroughly entertaining and worth every minute of my reading time.

Nat