Thursday, July 31, 2014

Breathe, Annie, Breathe by Miranda Kenneally

* * * * 




Annie hates running. No matter how far she jogs, she can’t escape the guilt that if she hadn’t broken up with Kyle, he might still be alive. So to honor his memory, she starts preparing for the marathon he intended to race.

But the training is even more grueling than Annie could have imagined. Despite her coaching, she’s at war with her body, her mind—and her heart. With every mile that athletic Jeremiah cheers her on, she grows more conflicted. She wants to run into his arms…and sprint in the opposite direction. For Annie, opening up to love again may be even more of a challenge than crossing the finish line.











I was so excited to pick this up from the library but did so without realizing that it was the fifth book in the Hundred Oaks series. I don’t know how that fact escaped me. So I just left it on my shelf staring at me, not willing to return it yet but also hesitant about reading a book out of order.  At 6 o’clock one morning when I just couldn’t sleep any more, I gave in. You see, I couldn’t knock this book out of my mind and it’s been that way since I saw the cover and read that excerpt. I grabbed my favourite blanket, propped myself on the couch and finished it in three hours.

I found myself wrapped up in Annie’s story immediately. Having run in the past, though not recently, I was fascinated by her decision to run a marathon and how she described her training. She’s still processing the loss of her boyfriend and rebuilding a life for herself. Doing this is her way to make Kyle’s own dream of running  a marathon come true.  It also keeps him close to her.  As I read on, I also felt like it was personal atonement for her for the things that did go wrong between them shortly before his death.  Her heart is a wreck just as much as her body is going through the grueling training. Despite the heavy discipline and the hours she spends between training, working and school, this single-minded focus is what is holding her together.

She’s thrown off when Jeremiah comes into the picture. It’s the first time she finds herself attracted to someone since Kyle and she feels a little guilt, as if she’s being untrue to his memory. But she knows life goes on and she has to go on with it. Still she won’t let her new friendship or attraction to Jeremiah mess with her end goal.  That being said, there’s also something refreshing about being in his company. Annie feels the pressure and loss most around people who knew Kyle and knew them as a couple. Hanging out with Jeremiah and his family is like finding an emotional sanctuary.

As these two draw closer, Annie learns that Jeremiah has his own quirks that he’s trying to work on. The question is can she handle a friendship with him knowing that there are certain things he needs in his life? It means they both have to learn to let go, have trust and embrace risks. This is the hurdle that Annie has to jump over in order to move on.

Breathe, Annie, Breathe is worthy of all the praise. It’s written so beautifully and the emotional moments are not sappy but are treated with sensitivity.  I also enjoyed the silly banter between Jeremiah and Annie. They are a good match for each other but it takes a while to get there. Any initial concerns I had about reading this series out of order has been dashed and I'll happily catch up on Kenneally's other books.

 ~ Bel


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (114)


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



Tell Me Again How a Crush Should FeelBy Sarah Farizan
Publication Date: October 7, 2014

High-school junior Leila has made it most of the way through Armstead Academy without having a crush on anyone, which is something of a relief. Her Persian heritage already makes her different from her classmates; if word got out that she liked girls, life would be twice as hard. But when a sophisticated, beautiful new girl, Saskia, shows up, Leila starts to take risks she never thought she would, especially when it looks as if the attraction between them is mutual. Struggling to sort out her growing feelings and Saskia s confusing signals, Leila confides in her old friend, Lisa, and grows closer to her fellow drama tech-crew members, especially Tomas, whose comments about his own sexuality are frank, funny, wise, and sometimes painful. Gradually, Leila begins to see that almost all her classmates are more complicated than they first appear to be, and many are keeping fascinating secrets of their own.




Even in ParadiseBy Chelsey Philpot
Publication Date: October 14, 2014

When Julia Buchanan enrolls at St. Anne’s at the beginning of junior year, Charlotte Ryder already knows all about the former senator’s daughter. Most people do... or think they do.

Charlotte certainly never expects she’ll be Julia’s friend. But almost immediately, she is drawn into the larger than-life-new girl’s world—a world of midnight rendezvous, dazzling parties, palatial vacation homes, and fizzy champagne cocktails. And then Charlotte meets, and begins falling for, Julia’s handsome older brother, Sebastian.

But behind her self-assured smiles and toasts to the future, Charlotte soon realizes that Julia is still suffering from a tragedy. A tragedy that the Buchanan family has kept hidden … until now.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Lead (Stage Dive #3) by Kylie Scott (Excerpt & A Freaking Awesome Giveaway Too!)





Stay up all night with the sexy rockers in Stage Dive, the epic New Adult series from New York Times bestselling author Kylie Scott, author of Lick and Play.

As the lead singer of Stage Dive, Jimmy is used to getting whatever he wants, whenever he wants it, whether it's booze, drugs, or women. However, when a PR disaster serves as a wake-up call about his life and lands him in rehab, he finds himself with Lena, a new assistant to keep him out of trouble.  

Lena's not willing to take any crap from the sexy rocker and is determined to keep their relationship completely professional, despite their sizzling chemistry. But when Jimmy pushes her too far and Lena leaves, he realizes that he may just have lost the best thing that ever happened to him.




Amazon // B&N // iTunes




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The Stage Dive series by Kylie Scott:



Lick (Stage Dive #1): Amazon / B&N / Goodreads

Play (Stage Dive #2): Amazon / B&N / Goodreads

Deep (Stage Dive #4) available on January 6th, 2015: Amazon / B&N /Goodreads


Review

* * * *



After ascending to hilarious highs in Play, it's time to get sober in Lead. Lena, who we met in the previous book, is hired to be Jimmy’s sobriety companion. Yes, the lead singer of the biggest band in the world needs a "babysitter" to make sure he doesn’t fall back into old addiction habits so that means being in close quarters with him at all hours, all day, every day.

Jimmy begrudgingly agrees to it. It’s not exactly what Lena had in mind either but since she’s still floundering after leaving home a year ago, she takes the job offer. As with the heroines in the previous two Stage Dive books, Lena is another strong female entering into the macho world of the Ferris brothers. She is so not intimidated by Jimmy at all. He can grunt his answers and be as anti-social as he wants to be but he doesn’t scare her off.

After a day that includes an emotional farewell and a particularly nasty and public encounter with another family member, Lena sees a whole new side to Jimmy that is otherwise kept very private. This is the Jimmy that is beyond reach.  And this is the Jimmy that she starts to have feelings for.  I have to say, Lena’s developing and inconvenient crush on him is adorable and funny.  Jimmy is so clueless that he doesn’t even pick up on it, at least not initially. However, anyone of us who has ever gone through that can recognize all the things that Lena is going through from the unintentional stares to the runaway thoughts turned fantasies. The boundaries start to get blurred and Lena knows that she’s falling for someone who is emotionally unavailable and incapable of the kind of intimacy that she wants. Let's not fail to remember that he is her boss too. Talk about complicated!

I appreciated that Lena is honest with herself.  She’s a big girl, she knows where this could lead and she’s prepared to deal with the consequences of her decisions, stupid as they could turn out to be. But she’s willing to take the risk to a certain extent. Jimmy on the other hand vacillates between wanting Lena to get her own life and wanting her to himself. Yes, there’s some jealousy and yes this big guy is in total denial about it. And when he suggests some utterly nonsensical ways for her to get over her crush on him (based on some silly magazine article) things naturally get heated up. People it’s hysterical and it’s made even more so because Jimmy is not only stubborn but also not very good with words. It still doesn’t stop Lena from mouthing off at him and falling deeper for him. As their relationship goes from professional to bizarre to hysterical to uneasy, he continues to be mostly grumpy and distant.  

One thing I like about the Stage Dive series is that all the heroines that have been introduced so far are impressive, independent women. They’re unapologetic about who they are and they don’t dwell on what they may be lacking. It’s refreshing. When it comes to relationships, these women aren’t necessarily interested in changing the guys who come into their lives. If anything, these women bring out the better versions of these hard rocking, hard living guys. Lena is no exception. She’s a phenomenal foil to Jimmy’s moodiness. She cares for him deeply and her relentless encouragement of him to push past his barriers slowly chip away at his gruff demeanor. Lots of stuff broken, hearts included in the process but since when has love ever been easy?

Lead has solidified my author crush on Kylie Scott. I don't know how but she once again manages to create a mini-universe within the Stage Dive family. Lena and Jimmy have their own unique story to tell independent of the others but it's still about a tight-knit family. They all gather around when needed and of course, Mal, that dear sweet clown is there to deliver extra laughs. 

And before I forget, I'd also like to thank whoever it is who's responsible for these freaking hot covers. Hot musicians and tattoos - an irresistible and dangerous combo! Look at these covers and discuss ...




They're just lovely, aren't they? So if you're into broody lead singers who will rock your world and wicked sharp heroines who are their match, Lead is a sure bet! And now that we've met David, Mal and Jimmy, I CANNOT wait to find out Ben's story in Deep :-)

In the meantime, check out the a delicious excerpt from the book and learn more about the awesome Stage Dive series and the incredible Kylie Scott!

~ Bel


Excerpt


“Lena, you seen my old black Led Zep shirt?”

“Nope.”

“You sure?” His brows became one dark cranky line. The scratches on his face were healing well, thank goodness. Though it didn’t reduce my desire to throttle his mother on a daily basis.

“Yes. I haven’t seen it.”

Can’t find it anywhere…”

“And this is a surprise, how?” I slipped my hands into my back jean’s pockets. “Jimmy, you own more clothing than Cher, Brittney, and Elvis, put together. Things are bound to go missing.”

“Sure you haven’t seen it?”

“For goodness sake, what do you think, Jimmy? That I stole it to sleep in or something?” I laughed bitterly. Sure as hell, the truth deserved a good mocking. I’d sunk so despicably low.

I hadn’t even meant to steal the stupid thing, but the shirt had been mixed up with my laundry a few days ago. It’d been the first top I laid my hand on after stepping out of the shower, ready to go to bed. Without thought, I’d put it on and it’d been so soft, the scent of him lingering beneath the laundry detergent. Every night since, I’d found myself in it come bedtime. My shame knew no limits. And no, I still hadn’t quit. The words still hadn’t come even close to leaving my mouth.

He frowned. “No.”

“That I have some deep secret longing to feel close to you resulting in my stealing your shirt like some creepy perv?”

“Course I don’t fucking think that,” he replied crankily, reaching up to grip the top of the doorframe. All of his bulging muscles stretched the arms of his white T-shirt in the nicest way. It was all I could do not to start drooling, my heart beat taking up residence somewhere down between my thighs. And who could blame it? Not me. Maybe if I got laid, this would go away and things would return to normal. It’d seemed safer to avoid rubbing up against any men just in case I got carried away and started dating again. This new situation, however, changed everything.

“Well, of course not! That would be crazy.” And wasn’t that the god’s honest truth? Cray-zeee. Lock me up and throw away the key because it wasn’t like I didn’t know better.

“Just can’t figure out where the hell it could be.”

Angels couldn’t have smiled as innocently. They might have tried, but they would have failed, the dirty-mouthed, winged, little liars. “Jimmy, I don’t know where it is. But I’ll look around for it later, okay?”

“Yeah,” he said, and then added as an afterthought, “and stop looking at me weird.”


“I’m not!”


About Kylie Scott:

Kylie is a long time fan of romance, rock music, and B-grade horror films. Based in Queensland, Australia with her two children and one delightful husband, she reads, writes and never dithers around on the internet.






Giveaway


So here's that freaking awesome giveaway we promised... Go forth and enter avid readers! Good luck!






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Unstoppable by Shannon Richard - Launch Day Blitz with Review, Excerpt & Giveaway




About UNSTOPPABLE
Some things you don't dare let go . . .
Melanie O'Bryan knows life is too short to be afraid of taking chances. And former Air Force sergeant Bennett Hart is certainly worth taking a chance on. He's agreed to help her students with a school project, but she's hoping the handsome handyman will offer her a whole lot more. Yet despite his heated glances and teasing touches, Mel senses there's something holding him back . . . Bennett Hart is grateful to be alive and back home in Mirabelle, Florida. Peaceful and uncomplicated-that's all he's looking for. Until a spunky, sexy-as-hell teacher turns his life upside down. After one smoldering kiss, Bennett feels like he's falling without a parachute. But with memories of his past threatening to resurface, he'll have to decide whether to keep playing it safe, or take the biggest risk of all. 





About Shannon Richard

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.

WEB   FACEBOOK    TWITTER





Excerpt - The First Kiss

Oh God, who was she kidding? She’d never felt this way about any man before. Bennett was…well, infuriating to start with, but he was brave, smart, kind, funny, intense. There was nothing like having his full attention focused on her. He gave her way more than butterflies. It was like eagles were flapping around in her stomach whenever he was around. There were no flutters. They were freaking tidal waves.

Yeah, getting over Bennett was going to be way easier said than done.

Mel headed toward the supply closet at the back of her classroom where she locked up her purse in a filling cabinet. She grabbed the key and unlocked the top drawer, pulled out her purse, and slammed the drawer shut. When she turned around Bennett was standing in the doorway. Filling it completely. Mel stopped short and stared at him. His eyes were focused on her, the determination in them making all of the thoughts vacate her brain.

“I can’t leave you alone.” He came into the room and shut the door behind him. “And I’m not playing games.” He crossed the small space. “Or at least I’m not trying to.” He shook his head. “I think about you all the time.” He stopped in front of her, took the purse out of her hands, and put it on top of the filing cabinet. Then he reached up and touched her cheek. His fingers fanned out as he pushed his hand to the back of her head and tilted her face up.

Holy hell, what is happening?

She looked into his eyes, and her knees went just a little bit weak. She reached back and planted her hands against the wall, trying to find some balance, something to keep her upright, because she really didn’t want to miss this.

“Because I am interested in you, Mel.” He cupped her face with his other hand and ran his thumb across her lower lip. “Very interested.” He leaned forward and pressed his mouth to hers.

The kiss was soft and gentle at first, just his lips against hers. He took another step into her, pushing her back. When she hit the wall she gasped, and Bennett took advantage of her open mouth. He sucked her bottom lip into his mouth, and she couldn’t stop the moan that escaped her throat.

She plastered herself up against him, against every inch of his hard body. Her arms wound around his shoulders; her hands skittered up the back of his head. She opened her mouth further and his tongue touched hers. Bennett groaned as their tongues began a thorough exploration of each other’s mouths.

His hands were at the back of her head, his fingers deftly pulling out the pins that held up her bun. And then he was unwinding her hair, his hands plunging deep into her unruly curls.

“I’ve wanted to do this for so long,” he said against her mouth. “These curls of yours drive me out of my mind.”

“What stopped you?” She nipped at his lower lip.

“Pure stupidity,” he said, as he claimed her mouth again.

Holy cow, can this man kiss. I feel it everywhere, and do I mean everywhere! He had her toes curling in her shoes, all manner of body parts tingling where they were pushed up against his, and his hands were magic in her hair. One of his hands drifted down to her side. He touched her hip for a second before his hand slid to the small of her back. He held her to him, but really, she wasn’t going anywhere.

“Mel,” a voice called out from her classroom. “Are you here?”

There were only a few things that could bring Mel back to reality with the snap of a finger. The sound of her little brother’s voice was definitely one of them.

“Oh crap, it’s Hamilton,” Mel gasped, pulling back. Bennett’s hand was behind her head, and it prevented her from hitting the wall. “I’ll be right out!” she answered Hamilton, unable to completely cover up the breathy edge to her voice.

Bennett nodded. He let go of her reluctantly, and took a step back. “You’re going to have to give me a minute before I can go out there,” he said, clearing his throat uncomfortably.

“Oh,” she said, nodding. “Um, okay.”

Actually, she was going to need a minute, too. She knew her hair was everywhere, and she had a feeling Bennett’s scruffy jaw had left its fair share of marks on her face. Not to mention her thoroughly swollen lips.

Soooo worth it.


Nat's Review

Bennett really is Mel’s hero.  Mel was shot when she inadvertently walked into a robbery in progress and Bennett was suddenly there to help her.  He visited her in the hospital regularly.  He helped her recover at home.  Then after the recovery, he stuck around to share carry-out and his favorite TV shows on DVD.  Needless to say, they became close friends.  But Mel wants more.  She’s been interested in Bennett long before the shooting.  His constant attention and their growing friendship have only succeeded in making her crush stronger. 

Bennet is what I like to call a “slow starter.”  He obviously has a thing for Mel.  But he doesn’t realize it.  It takes a while for Bennett to really figure out anything when it comes to feelings and relationships.  Actually it doesn’t take a while.  It takes forever.  He insists they are just friends even though he is now spending more time with her than his own friends.  When he finally realizes that he likes her and wants to start dating, he dives right in.  But then begins the painstaking yet amusing process of him realizing the next step in their relation.  Five billion years after Mel and all their friends have already figured it out.

I might make fun of Bennett but the fact is I absolutely adored him.  He tries so hard and succeeds almost every time.  And Mel is absolutely lovely.  She is one my favorite types of heroines; patient, nurturing, funny and sexy.  Together, these two have an amazingly fiery and sexy relationship. 

Unlike my usual fare, Unstoppable only contains a smidge of angst and temporary heartbreak.  This story is full of sexy happiness and good times.  I can’t recommend this one enough if you enjoy contemporary romance.

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On the Fence by Kasie West

On the Fence* * * ½   

She's a tomboy. He's the boy next door…

Charlie Reynolds can outrun, outscore, and outwit every boy she knows. But when it comes to being a girl, Charlie doesn't know the first thing about anything. So when she starts working at a chichi boutique to pay off a speeding ticket, she finds herself in a strange new world. To cope with the stress of her new reality, Charlie takes to spending nights chatting with her neighbor Braden through the fence between their yards. As she grows to depend on their nightly Fence Chats, she realizes she's got a bigger problem than speeding tickets-she's falling for Braden. She knows what it means to go for the win, but if spilling her secret means losing him for good, the stakes just got too high.

Fun, original, and endearing, 
On the Fence is a romantic comedy about finding yourself and finding love where you least expect.





Review:

Charlie Reynolds isn’t prepared for the consequences when her police officer father comes home with a copy of her latest speeding ticket. Charlie is paying for this ticket and she’s going to have to find a job to do so.   Her half-hearted attempt at a job search lands her a job working for a small clothing boutique.  The new job comes with a lot of changes – including new clothes and makeup.  Those are changes that make tomboy Charlie uncomfortable.  They are also changes that Charlie will do anything to hide from her over protective dad and brothers. 

Charlie has been content with being one of the guys.  She takes quite a bit of pride in the fact that she can keep up with her three brothers and their friends.  But this new job is introducing her to a new part of her life.  One that she has no idea how to merge with her current life.  Added to the emotional chaos is her growing attraction to her neighbor and brother’s best friend, Braden.  Their late night chats over the fence have been the highlight of her summer.  But she’s convinced he doesn’t return her feelings and isn’t willing to risk what they already have.

I love a good boy next door story and Braden was a perfect boy next door.  I would actually put him in the “forever boy” category.  And we all know how much I love my “forever boys.”  I also loved the Reynolds boys.  Both dad and sons.  They are ridiculously overprotective but at the same time they love her so much I couldn’t help but shake my head and smile.

And I adored Charlie.  Not because she was a tomboy that played every sport and breathed baseball.   Although that WAS cool.  It was the fact that her insecurities were so identifiable.  Haven’t we ALL been there.  As the reader we are all thinking how obvious it is that Braden has a thing for Charlie.  But, I can say from experience, sometimes we just don’t have enough confidence in ourselves to see what is so obvious to others.  And, boy, is Charlie lacking confidence.  That is her main internal struggle in this story and many will identify with it.

On the Fence is engaging and light.  If you are looking for a sweet teen romance then I recommend you add this title to your summer reading list.

Nat

Monday, July 28, 2014

A Peek In The BiblioBin #109



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.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Play (Stage Dive #2) by Kylie Scott

* * * * 



Kylie Scott returns with the highly anticipated follow-up to international bestseller Lick.

Mal Ericson, drummer for the world famous rock band Stage Dive, needs to clean up his image fast—at least for a little while. Having a good girl on his arm should do the job just fine. Mal doesn’t plan on this temporary fix becoming permanent, but he didn’t count on finding the one right girl. Anne Rollins never thought she’d ever meet the rock god who plastered her teenage bedroom walls—especially not under these circumstances. Anne has money problems. Big  ones. But being paid to play the pretend girlfriend to a wild life-of-the-party drummer couldn’t end well. No matter how hot he is. Or could it?


Kylie Scott made a fan out of me with Lick, the first in the Stage Dive series.  The chemistry that she brought to David and Ev’s relationship was ridiculously fantastic in its intensity. In Play, she does the same thing though a different kind of chemistry and a whole lot of hilarity.

Mal Erickson, hottie drummer extraordinaire is essentially the class clown. He’s the funny guy who can crack a joke in a millisecond, diffuse a tense moment and just reduce anyone into fits of giggles. He’s the guy who enjoys baiting people and riling them up. Hmmm… kind of reminds me of my hubby.  Anne comes into his life one night at a party after mutual friends convince her to join them in an effort to cheer her up. You see, earlier she came home to an empty apartment, her deadbeat roommate having moved out without so much as a warning or even repaying the money Anne had loaned her. At the party, Anne seeks out a quiet spot to have a conversation with her friend Reece, who is also her boss at the bookstore. He also happens to be the object of her unrequited love. She doesn’t realize that Mal is in the background listening in on her end of the phone conversation. So their initial meeting is a little awkward and Mal is of course, mischievous.

Later that night he announces they’re destined to be together and they’re moving in. He’s obviously drunk and Anne has no idea what to do with him. There’s no way he could possibly be serious. Oh just wait. The next day, there he is all moved in. In her apartment. This is for real! Apparently, he feels that they can each benefit from this arrangement. She wouldn’t have to worry about rent and for some reason that he refuses to divulge, he needs someone to be his pretend girlfriend. Anne ends up going with it. Who knows it could be fun plus she's curious about Mal.  

Okay, this whole setup is outlandish but I’m not reading this for a heavy dose of reality.  I knew I'd be in for a fun read and I was honest to goodness laughing my behind off! I mean the kind of laughing where your entire body is shaking. Mal is so comical. He’s like a goofy puppy dog wanting to be played with and adored. Lucky Anne gets to deal with this hyper, dramatic manchild and she deftly holds her own. Their conversations and quips are spot on. The timing just perfect. She handles whatever is thrown at her like a champ and she dishes back. So much about their whole setup seems implausible but they somehow get each other and they click.  

As with these things, there is obviously something going on with Mal below the surface. He just refuses to talk about it.  At some point, Mal can no longer keep up appearances. He eventually confides in Anne. When that happens, Anne's heart goes out to him. Using her screwed up family as an example to help Mal open up, she can perhaps sort herself out too. 

By the way, these two together are as hot as hell! Even when they’re baiting each other it’s sexy and fun. My favourite scene involves the crashing of a bed and that ludicrous banter leading up to it. I’m not telling you, you’ll just have to read it for yourself.

In between all the sexy stuff and funny jokes, what's troubling Mal also affects the rest of the band. When that all comes to light, it’s wonderful to see the entire band rally around each other. This is a family and they stick together no matter what. So it’s nice for Anne, who has always had to fix things herself, to see this, experience it and be embraced into this family. It’s also nice for her to finally be appreciated by someone who actually sees her instead of her being taken for granted.

Play is awesome. Lick was intense and complicated and Play does have some of that. While Mal may drive a lot of the action, it's Anne's impressive acceptance of his craziness and how unique their relationship is that makes the story special. And because Kylie Scott does such a bang up job of creating distinct personas for her characters, Play is exciting, heartwarming, adventurous and no lie, laugh-out-loud funny!

~ Bel


* The review for Lead (Stage Dive #3) will be posted on its release day, Tuesday, July 29

Friday, July 25, 2014

Make It Count by Megan Erickson

Make it Count (Bowler University, #1)* * * 1/2

Kat Caruso wishes her brain had a return policy, or at least a complaint hot-line. The defective organ is constantly distracted, terrible at statistics, and absolutely flooded with inappropriate thoughts about her boyfriend’s gorgeous best friend, Alec…who just so happens to be her brand new math tutor. Who knew nerd was so hot?

Kat usually goes through tutors like she does boyfriends—both always seem to bail when they realize how hopeless she is. It’s safer for her heart to keep everyone at arm’s reach. But Alec is always stepping just a little too close.

Alec Stone should not be fantasizing about Kat. She’s adorable, unbelievably witty, and completely off limits. He’d never stab his best friend in the back…

But when secrets are revealed, the lines of loyalty are blurred. To make it count, Alec must learn messy human emotions can’t be solved like a trigonometry function. And Kat has to trust Alec may be the first guy to want her for who she is, and not in spite of it.









Review:


Kat likes to protect herself from inevitable heartache.  Which is why she sticks to dating guys that will never be more than temporary.  And that’s what Max is.  Temporary.  A guy that she can easily walk away from when he becomes annoyed with her flightiness.  But Max’s best friend and her statistics tutor, Alec?  He’s a whole other story.  He’s the kind of guy Kat could really fall for.  He’s also the kind of guy that could really break her heart.  

Alec would never cross the boundary of stealing his best friend’s girlfriend.  It doesn’t mean he doesn’t want to.  There is so much more to Kat that Max doesn’t see.  Including her insecurities regarding her intelligence and how other people see her.  Unlike Max, Alec gets a front row seat to view those insecurities during their tutoring sessions. 

Kat finally has enough of Max’s condescending remarks and breaks up with him.   Max makes it clear to Alec that they won’t be friends if he pursues Kat.  But the feelings between Kat and Alec are so volatile that one thing leads to another…and well lets just say that what follows is HOT.  But not so hot that Kat and Alec don’t have their own issues to work out before they can really have a relationship.

It’s kind of hard to not like Kat Caruso.  She’s simply adorable.  And her sense of humor is my favorite kind.  Quirky, cute and sometimes sarcastic.  And I have to say that sometimes I felt like I was reading a transcript of what goes on in my mind.   Here is an example of how my brain works. 


“That milk cup is gross.  I should wash it.  I love the smell of my dish soap.  It smells like lavender.  I should go outside and take care of my garden.  But it’s hot out.  Let’s get ice cream instead.  Everything is better with ice cream.”


That’s not far off from how Kat’s thoughts flow.  Except she thinks everything is better with bubbles.   Blown by a row of pheasants.  And, honestly, I would have a hard time arguing with her.

And Alec Stone?  Well, yeah.  He’s totally the kind of guy I would have been crushing on back in the day.  In some ways The Executive Officer IS that guy.  So I guess I really did crush on a guy like him.  It’s a no brainer that I really liked this hero.

Make It Count was cute and sexy and often funny.  I felt at times it was a bit overly dramatic but that is a complaint I often have with the New Adult books I’ve read.   In the end, it was a great read for getting lost in my head.  I kind of wish I had saved it for my upcoming trip to Florida.  I would have devoured it on the drive down or at the beach.  I will definitely be looking forward to Max’s story, Make It Right, which comes out in September.



Nat

Thursday, July 24, 2014

A Little Too Far by Lisa Desrochers

****
Have you ever gone just a little too far? Lexie Banks has.
Yep. She just had mind-blowing sex with her stepbrother. In her defense, she was on the rebound, and it's more of a my-dad-happened-to-marry-a-woman-with-a-super-hot-son situation. But still, he's been her best friend and confidant for the better part of the last few years . . . and is so off limits. It's a good thing she's leaving in two days for a year abroad in Rome.
But even thousands of miles away, Lexie can't seem to escape trouble. Raised Catholic, she goes to confession in hopes of alleviating some of her guilt . . . and maybe not burning in hell. Instead, she stumbles out of the confessional and right into Alessandro Moretti, a young and very easy-on-the-eyes deacon . . . only eight months away from becoming a priest. Lexie and Alessandro grow closer, and when Alessandro's signals start changing despite his vow of celibacy, she doesn't know what to think. She's torn between falling in love with the man she shouldn't want and the man she can't have. And she isn't sure how she can live with herself either way.

I had the opportunity to meet Lisa Desrochers and attend a New Adult panel on which she spoke at RT this year.  She was thoughtful and funny and made me want to pick up all her books.  I settled for A Little Too Far (because I already had no idea how I was going to get all my other books home from New Orleans).  This year's RT haul was by far, the best yet.  A Little Too Far is definitely one of my favorite reads (so far) this year.

A Little Too Far is a stunning study in forbidden desire.  There are so many elements to Lexie and Trent's story, not just the forbidden step-brother angle, he's also her best friend and confidante.  But the taboo is just too much, so Lexie goes to Rome determined to move on.  While Trent throws himself into his wrestling.  

Upon getting to Rome, Lexie meets Alessandro, a beautiful enigma preparing for the priesthood.  The two become close working on a project together and Lexie is faced with even more forbidden fruit.  But can she move on from Trent, by luring Alessandro from the priesthood?  

Given a set up like sleeping with your step-brother then falling into the arms of the clergyman, you would think Trent would be a bad boy and the would-be priest the forever boy, but Trent is definitely the forever boy here.  Alessandro has far more elements of the bad boy with his wicked past and drive for redemption.  Desrochers expertly mixes it up and keeps us on our toes.  You can feel the longing and heat on the pages.  If you are going to read a New Adult, I definitely recommend A Little Too Far.  

And, just to make it more enticing ALTF is on sale for $2.99 on amazon & Barnes & Noble.    

Then check out the rest of the series with A Little Too Much and A Little Too Hot (also on sale for just $2.99)!  






~Shel

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (113)


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


Black IceBy Becca Fitzpatrick
Publication Date: October 7, 2014

Sometimes danger is hard to see... until it’s too late. 

Britt Pfeiffer has trained to backpack the Teton Range, but she isn't prepared when her ex-boyfriend, who still haunts her every thought, wants to join her. Before Britt can explore her feelings for Calvin, an unexpected blizzard forces her to seek shelter in a remote cabin, accepting the hospitality of its two very handsome occupants—but these men are fugitives, and they take her hostage. 

In exchange for her life, Britt agrees to guide the men off the mountain. As they set off, Britt knows she must stay alive long enough for Calvin to find her. The task is made even more complicated when Britt finds chilling evidence of a series of murders that have taken place there... and in uncovering this, she may become the killer’s next target. 

But nothing is as it seems in the mountains, and everyone is keeping secrets, including Mason, one of her kidnappers. His kindness is confusing Britt. Is he an enemy? Or an ally? 

BLACK ICE is New York Times bestselling author Becca Fitzpatrick’s riveting romantic thriller set against the treacherous backdrop of the mountains of Wyoming. Falling in love should never be this dangerous…




The Boy I LoveBy Nina de Gramont
Publication Date: September 2, 2014

When the boy you love asks you to keep his greatest secret, do you? A thought-provoking, achingly complex novel about prejudice and the many meanings of love from Nina de Gramont, author of Meet Me at the River, which Kirkus Reviews called a “must-read.”

Fifteen-year-old Wren has been content to stay in her best friend Allie’s shadow. It doesn’t bother her that Ally gets the cutest guys, the cutest clothes, and even a modeling gig—Wren is happy hanging with the horses on her family’s farm and avoiding the jealousy of other girls. But when Tim, the most intriguing guy in school, starts hanging out with Ally and Wren, jealousy is unavoidable, but not the kind Wren expects. Because even though Ally is wayyy into him and Wren hasn’t flirted, not one little bit, it becomes increasingly clear that Tim prefers Wren’s company above anyone else’s.


Tim’s unexpected devotion comes at the exact time Wren’s home life is about to be turned upside down. Her parents have just found out that the family horse farm is on land that was once a slave plantation and are struggling with whether to sell it. Wren aches at the thought of losing her horses and leaving town, but at least there is Tim...always a gentleman on their dates. Such a gentleman. Too much of a gentleman, even, and Wren begins to wish he’d be a wee bit less gentlemanly. And as Tim’s church becomes actively homophobic, his pressuring parents don’t understand why he won’t help “spread the word,” and he’s now a wreck. Then he tells Wren his biggest secret, and Wren must decide what she’ll really do for love.





Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Back to You by Jessica Scott Blog Tour!




Welcome to the Back to You Blog Tour!  Check out the excerpt and if it is your bag, baby, enter to win the giveaway below.  If you are looking for a fun summer read, might we recommend:





BACK TO YOU by Jessica Scott (July 29, 2014; Forever Mass Market; $6.00)
He's in for the fight of his life . . . 
Army captain Trent Davila loved his wife, Laura, and their two beautiful children. But when he almost lost his life in combat, something inside him died. He couldn't explain the emptiness he felt or bridge the growing distance between him and his family-so he deployed again. And again. And again...until his marriage reached its breaking point. Now, with everything on the line, Trent has one last chance to prove to his wife that he can be the man she needs ...if she'll have him

. . . to win back his only love.
Laura is blindsided when Trent returns home. Time and again, he chose his men over his family, and she's just beginning to put the pieces of her shattered heart back together. But when Trent faces a court martial on false charges, only Laura can save him. What begins as an act of kindness to protect his career inflames a desire she thought long buried-and a love that won't be denied. But can she trust that this time he's back to stay?




About the author:
USA Today bestselling author Jessica Scott is a career army officer; mother of two daughters, She's written for the New York Times At War Blog, PBS Point of View: Regarding War Blog, and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. She deployed to Iraq in 2009 as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom/New Dawn and has served as a company commander at Fort Hood, Texas. She's pursuing a PhD in Sociology in her spare time and most recently, she's been featured as one of Esquire Magazine's Americans of the Year for 2012.

Social Media Links:

Excerpt:


His uniform scraped the edge of her cheek. His body was a solid wall beneath her skin and for a brief moment, she simply let him hold her. His strength wrapped around her, his scent pulled her close, reminding her that somewhere inside this man was the man she’d married. The man she’d loved.
She hadn’t meant to cry in front of him. Not again. But the truth had simply slipped free of the chains she’d attempted to bind it with, breaking her resolve until it emptied out of her, tearing free and leaving her drained.
It was a long time until the tears stopped. Her eyes felt swollen.
Now, she rested against Trent and closed her eyes. She simply stopped. Stopped fighting. Stopped arguing. Stopped resisting her stubborn heart that still loved this man no matter how many times he hurt her or lashed out.
His leaving, his anger: He wasn’t in control of those things. Not like she’d convinced herself he was in those dark days when the rumors and innuendos had been breeding like a live thing in the silence between them. But there was more at work here than her husband simply walking out on her.
He’d made a huge step by talking to the counselor. And he hadn’t needed to tell her about their conversation, but he had. Laura leaned back, refusing to believe the insidious voice in her head that said he was just telling her this out of sheer selfishness.
She lifted her gaze, looking deep into his eyes. She started to shift and pull away but Trent moved first, cradling her face with his palms. Gently, his thumbs caressed her cheeks, wiping away the tears.
“I’m so tired of screwing everything up, Laura,” he whispered. “I want to fix this. Not for the trial. For us.”
“It’s not that simple.”
“Yes, it is.” His voice was urgent and harsh. “I can’t fix what I’ve done. And I damn sure don’t deserve your forgiveness.” He lowered his forehead to hers, his palms warm and solid against her skin. “But I’m asking you to help me. Help me reset my normal. Help me learn how to be a dad again. A husband.” He blinked rapidly.
She pressed her lips together, biting back fresh tears. “And what happens when you leave again?” she whispered. “What do I do then?” She sniffed quietly. “You keep breaking my heart.” Her voice cracked.
His fingers crooked around her jaw. “I want to stop.”
They were tucked away in a quiet corner of the coffee shop. The couch was blocked by a high booth. No one could see them. Laura kept her eyes locked on his. Finally he’d laid his fears, his hopes, his dreams in her lap.
She could crush him so easily. A stronger woman might have walked away, doing to him what he’d done so many times to her. But she was not that woman. She wanted to end the pain between them, not prolong it.
She’d thought divorce was the right answer. Ending the sham their marriage had become, protecting their children from more pain. The kids were her life now and she would not apologize for that. For all intents and purposes, she’d been a single parent for years and that was okay because she knew how to do that. Now fear latched on to her heart. Fear that he would leave her again. That he would once again shatter her into a thousand pieces.
But he was here. At this moment, it was all she had. Without giving herself time to think about the consequences, she leaned closer and brushed her lips gently against his.
She pulled away before he could deepen the kiss. Fear and awareness and arousal skittered through her veins, making her off balance, like a needful, sensual thing. She’d grown accustomed to the hugs of her children, their wet kisses and enthusiastic embraces.
What she craved now was something darker. The faintest brush of lips against lips had sparked something primitive inside her. Something deeper and richer. A long-forgotten need to be touched by a man. But not just any man—by this man. His hands, roughened by combat, sliding up her thighs. The coarse pads of his fingertips caressing her skin.
Memories bombarded her as she attempted to lean away and salvage the remnants of her pride.
But Trent was not operating under the get-some-space battle plan. He reached for her, his eyes rich with dark emotion. His palms scraped against her cheeks, his fingers strong as his lips claimed hers.
His breath was a gasp against her tongue and for a moment, Laura was stunned into stillness, unable to move beneath the assault on her senses. But then her body remembered his taste, her tongue remembered his touch, and a warmth awakened inside her. She opened for him, stroking his tongue with hers, her body folding into his like it was meant for him.
Her every nerve came alive. A cascade of long-denied arousal mixed with bittersweet memories of other homecomings, other farewells. It crashed into them both, driving them under a torrent of emotion.
This was the man she had married. A man who could make her body purr just thinking about him inside her. A man who knew exactly how to kiss her to drive her wild.
This was the man she’d been waiting for. She wanted nothing more than to crawl into his lap and have that urgent, passion-filled sex of first homecoming.
It was a long moment before the arousal faded and she became aware of the tender, sucking kisses he placed on her lips.
Another moment before he rested his forehead against hers.
An eternity passed before the words she’d never thought she’d ever say again slid past her lips. “I miss you,” she whispered.

And for once, he did not pull away.





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