Friday, August 29, 2014

Tristant and Elijah by Jennifer Lavoie

Tristant and Elijah* * 1/2

Tristant Whitfield has had a secret crush on straight Elijah Cambridge since the start of high school. He’s okay keeping his distance, but when Elijah starts visiting him at work and bringing his favorite coffee, Tristant begins to wonder if there’s something more there.

Then Elijah uncovers a scandalous old letter from Tristant’s great uncle tucked away in a book, and the two boys begin a journey through journals and letters to discover the real Uncle Glenn and the secrets he hid from his family. And Tristant realizes that Elijah has been hiding something as well.

A secret that just might change everything.


I had a hard time connecting to either of the characters in this story.  Tristant was a bit of a drama queen. And not in a fun endearing way (yes, that exists).  There were a few times he referred to himself as a drama queen; in a self deprecating way that fell short of humorous because it was so painfully true.  And Elijah just seemed somewhat unavailable to the reader.  I didn’t know enough about him other than he liked horror movies and video games and he was afraid to tell people he was gay.  For me it was all on the surface which made it almost impossible to connect with his character.   

I understood Elijah’s desire to reach out to Tristant.  How could he not?  Here is a classmate that has successfully done the one thing that Elijah is most afraid to do – come out.  What I didn’t understand was Elijah’s romantic interest in Tristant.  They seemed to have no connection other than Elijah’s fear of coming out and Tristant’s great uncle’s diary. 

There were two positive things that stood out to for me.  First, I loved that this story provides young readers with a protagonist that is not only comfortable in his own skin but also has family that supports him 100%.  The second thing the journal.  Tristant and Elijah slowly read Tristant’s great Uncle Glenn’s journal together  What unfolds is a heartbreaking story of a gay young man in the early 1900’s.  I found myself much more engaged with this story.  And although I had an idea of where Uncle Glenn’s story would go I was still on pins and needles.  Honestly, make that story into a novel and I would read it.  Even though I already know how it ends.

This was not my favorite LGBT YA but the fact of the matter is if this story makes into just one LGBT youth’s hands and gives them characters and story to connect to then that is what truly matters.


Thursday, August 28, 2014

Better off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg

Better off Friends* * * *

For Macallan and Levi, it was friends at first sight. Everyone says guys and girls can’t be just friends, but these two are. They hang out after school, share tons of inside jokes, their families are super close, and Levi even starts dating one of Macallan’s friends. They are platonic and happy that way.

Eventually they realize they’re best friends — which wouldn’t be so bad if they didn’t keep getting in each other’s way. Guys won’t ask Macallan out because they think she’s with Levi, and Levi spends too much time joking around with Macallan, and maybe not enough time with his date. They can’t help but wonder . . . are they more than friends or are they better off without making it even more complicated?

From romantic comedy superstar Elizabeth Eulberg comes a fresh, fun examination of a question for the ages: Can guys and girls ever really be just friends? Or are they always one fight away from not speaking again — and one kiss away from true love?


It’s the first day of 7th grade and Macallan can’t wait to throw herself into endless hours of school work.  Anything to keep her mind of feeling lonely and missing her mom.  But before she can even start her first class she is called into the principal’s office.   She’s quickly relieved to find out she isn’t going to be forced into another round of visits with the school counselor.  She’s not so relieved when she learns she is expected to show the new kid around.  That’s when Macallan meets Levi.  And she couldn’t be more put out.  She shows him where his classes are, drops him off at his first period and quickly dismisses him when he hopefully says “see ya around?”  But her dismissal doesn’t last for long because as serious as she might be, Macallan is a nice girl.  When she sees Levi struggling to find somewhere to sit at lunch she invites him to sit with her and her friends. That’s when Macallan notices the Buggy and Floyd button on Levi’s backpack.  She’s a huge fan of the British show as is Levi.  And on that shared love of a television show an epic friendship is born.

From there on out, Levi and Macallan are almost inseparable.  Like Best Friends tend to be.  The problem is that everyone assumes they are more than just friends which makes dating difficult.  And in some instances, horribly awkward.  One of the most awkwardly hilarious scenes in this book is when Macallan and Levi go on a double date together.  I think I audibly groaned while reading it.  It was so uncomfortable.  Amusing but uncomfortable.  Eventually, Levi starts to question his feelings for Macallan.  But is Macallan on the same page?  And if not, what’s more important?   Risking their friendship for love or ignoring their growing attraction so as not to upset one of the most wonderful friendships either of them has ever had. 

I’m a self-proclaimed romance whore.  I can’t get enough of it.  I’m rather greedy that way.  There are a lot of different romances I enjoy but one of my favorite types of stories is what I like to call “The Best Friend Romance,” or “Friends-to-Lovers.”   Whether they are cute and funny or full of angst, it’s guaranteed that a Best Friend Romance is going to put a smile on my face.  After reading Better Off Friends, I was trying to determine when my love affair with this type of story began.  And as if someone was whispering in her ear, Julia Quinn posted the following graphic on her Facebook page:

That’s it!  Emma!  I have three favorite Jane Austen’s  (Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion and Emma) but Emma and Mr. Knightley’s story was the one that put butterflies in my stomach.  And it was because, just like Macallan and Levi, Emma and her Mr. Knightley were friends.   And just like Emma and Mr. Knightley, Levi and Macallan value each other’s friendship above all else.  That’s what makes their love extra special.  They KNOW each other already.  And there is something miraculously romantic about that. 

If you are a hopeless romantic like me and love to read about friendships becoming something more then you must read Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg. 


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (115)

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

Beneath the Stain
We are super excited for the release of this new 7 part serial by Amy Lane. The first part releases on August 29th.  Stop by the blog on 9/1 to check out Bel's review.

Author:  Amy Lane
Publication Date:  August 29 through October 10, 2014

In a town as small as Tyson, CA, everybody knew the four brothers with the four different fathers-- and their penchant for making good music when they weren't getting into trouble. For Mackey Sanders, playing in Outbreak Monkey with his brothers and their friends—especially Grant Adams--made Tyson bearable. But Grant has plans for getting Mackey and the Sanders boys out of Tyson, even if that means staying behind.

Between the heartbreak of leaving Grant and the terrifying, glamorous life of rock stardom, Mackey is adrift and sinking fast. When he's hit rock bottom, Trav Ford shows up, courtesy of their record company and a producer who wants to see what Mackey can do if he doesn't flame out first. But cleaning up his act means coming clean about Grant, and that's not easy to do or say. Mackey might make it with Trav's help--but Trav's not sure he's going to survive falling in love with Mackey. 

Mackey James Sanders comes with a whole lot of messy, painful baggage, and law-and-order Trav doesn't do messy or painful. And just when Trav thinks they may have mastered every demon in Mackey's past, the biggest, baddest demon of all comes knocking.

The Moment of Everything

Author: Shelly King
Publication Date:  September 2, 2014

In the tradition of The Cookbook Collector comes a funny, romantic novel about a young woman finding her calling while saving a used bookstore.

Maggie Duprès, recently "involuntarily separated from payroll" at a Silicon Valley start-up, is whiling away her days in The Dragonfly's Used Books, a Mountain View institution, waiting for the Next Big Thing to come along.

When the opportunity arises for her to network at a Bay Area book club, she jumps at the chance -- even if it means having to read Lady Chatterley's Lover, a book she hasn't encountered since college, in an evening. But the edition she finds at the bookstore is no Penguin ClassicsChatterley -- it's an ancient hardcover with notes in the margins between two besotted lovers of long ago. What Maggie finds in her search for the lovers and their fate, and what she learns about herself in the process, will surprise and move readers.

Witty and sharp-eyed in its treatment of tech world excesses, but with real warmth at its core, The Moment of Everything is a wonderful read.

The Diamond Thief by Sharon Gosling

* * *

Releases October 1, 2014

No one performs on the circus trapeze like 16-year-old Rémy Brunel. But Rémy also leads another life, prowling through the backstreets of Victorian London as a jewel thief. When she is forced to steal one of the world’s most valuable diamonds, she uncovers a world of treachery and fiendish plots.

Meanwhile, young detective Thaddeus Rec is determined to find the jewel and clear his name. Will Thaddeus manage to rescue the jewel? Or is it really Rémy that he needs to save?

This is what The Diamond Thief has to offer: an idealistic young man intent on upholding his principles, an evil plot to disrupt and most importantly, a smart young heroine who’s not afraid to put her neck on the line. All set against an alluring circus backdrop in London in the 1800’s.

I had a fun time reading this. Rémy is instantly likable for her grace, confidence and generous heart. Thaddeus’ discipline and strong sense of right and wrong make him equally impressive. You wouldn’t think these two would hit it off. Well they don’t, at least not initially since they’re on opposite sides of the law.  When it turns out that they have both been duped and that the precious jewel still needs to be recovered, they have to work together out of desperation. It’s an awkward undertaking as neither of them trusts the other and recovering the jewel serves a different purpose for each.

When they come across a plot that could be catastrophic if allowed to happen, they acknowledge that there is something bigger than their issues to fight for. This is where the story gets especially exciting.

As I said earlier, this is a fun story littered with some interesting and lovable characters.  What makes it a winner for me is Rémy. She’s fearless and focused.  Her thieving ways aside, her affection and loyalty to the people she loves are admirable as are her certainty and belief in her abilities. She’s no silly waif waiting to be rescued. She is just the kind of person Thaddeus needs to help him expand his strict black and white view of life.  And he helps Rémy see that her distrust of the law isn’t always valid. The two of them have a subtle chemistry that becomes even sweeter as they become roiled in the dangerous position they find themselves in.

I enjoyed The Diamond Thief very much and recommend it of you're looking for something fun and quick and perhaps a taste of a different period in time.

~ Bel

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

It's In His Kiss by Jill Shalvis Launch Day Blitz

Book Summary:

Becca Thorpe has uprooted her life and escaped to the beach. Now's her chance to get away from city living, throw caution to the ocean winds, and live in the moment. Especially if the moment includes the deliciously sexy surfer she meets shortly after arriving in Lucky Harbor. Something about the dark intensity of Sam's eyes and the thrill she gets at his touch convinces her to stay awhile.

Boatbuilder and investment genius Sam Brody is a self-made man who knows how dangerous it can be to mix business and pleasure. But he can't resist offering Becca a job just to hear her laugh and have her near. Yet when her brother comes to town asking for help, will he tempt her back to her glamorous life in the city? Or do Sam and little Lucky Harbor have a chance to win Becca's heart? 

Jill's Bio:
New York Times bestselling author Jill Shalvis lives in a small town in the Sierras full of quirky characters. Any resemblance to the quirky characters in her books is, um, mostly coincidental. Look for Jill's bestselling, award-winning books wherever romances are sold and visit her website for a complete book list and daily blog detailing her city-girl-living-in-the-mountains adventures.

You can learn more about Jill at:
Twitter @jillshalvis 

If you are an audiobook person, you can listen to an excerpt here:

The Beautiful Ashes by Jeaniene Frost Release Day Blast

the beautiful ashes

Title: The Beautiful Ashes
Author: Jeaniene Frost
Expected Publication: August 26th, 2014
  About The Beautiful Ashes In a world of shadows, anything is possible. Except escaping your fate. Ever since she was a child, Ivy has been gripped by visions of strange realms just beyond her own. But when her sister goes missing, Ivy discovers the truth is far worse—her hallucinations are real, and her sister is trapped in a parallel realm. And the one person who believes her is the dangerously attractive guy who's bound by an ancient legacy to betray her. Adrian might have turned his back on those who raised him, but that doesn't mean he can change his fate…no matter how strong a pull he feels toward Ivy. Together they search for the powerful relic that can save her sister, but Adrian knows what Ivy doesn't: that every step brings Ivy closer to the truth about her own destiny, and a war that could doom the world. Sooner or later, it will be Ivy on one side and Adrian on the other. And nothing but ashes in between…
Buy Links Amazon | BN

About Jeaniene Frost: Jeaniene Frost is the New York Times, USA Today, and international bestselling author of the Night Huntress series, the Night Prince series, and the upcoming Broken Destiny series. To date, foreign rights for her novels have sold to twenty different countries. Jeaniene lives in North Carolina with her husband Matthew, who long ago accepted that she rarely cooks and always sleeps in on the weekends. Aside from writing, Jeaniene enjoys reading, poetry, watching movies with her husband, exploring old cemeteries, spelunking and traveling – by car. Airplanes, children, and cook books frighten her. For information on Jeaniene's books, reading the first 20% of each book free, book trailers, deleted scenes, creature mythology, and more, please visit:

Even on a good day, I hated when guys were cryptic. Those of the Testosterone Persuasion already came with a mountain of senseless tendencies—did they really think they needed to add purposefully vague statements on top of that?

The fact that Adrian refused to elaborate on his enigmatic warning while I was tied up in his backseatmade it unbearable. As the time ticked on, I consoled myself by imagining hitting him in the head with something heavy. Or leaning over the seat and choking him with the band of duct tape around my wrists. If the back of this vehicle had had a cigarette lighter, I might’ve gotten creative with fantasies about that, too.

Guess being kidnapped turned me into a violent person.

“Are you a sex slaver?” I asked abruptly.

“Someone’s watched Taken too many times,” Adrian said, and the amusement in his tone grated on my last nerve.

“Why wouldn’t I think that?” I shot back. “You saved my life, but you’re taking me somewhere against my will, and you refuse to untie me.”

“You picked truth, remember?” was his infuriating response.

I swear, the first heavy object I got a hold of…! “You didn’t give me that, either.”

“Yes, I did.” He said it with a heavy-lidded, backward glance that would’ve made me straighten up and smile if he’d done it while we were sitting at a bar. “Just not all of it, but don’t worry. We’re here.”

With that statement, Adrian turned down a long road that led to a set of soaring, elaborately carved gates.

“Wait a sec while I open the gates,” he said, turning the car off and taking the keys with him.
I waited…until he was far enough away for me to make my move. Then I leaped over the seats. When I yanked on the driver’s side door, however, a large hand on the window prevented it from opening.

“Why am I not surprised?” Adrian said with irony dripping from his tone

I stared at his hand, as if that could explain how the rest of him was attached to it. A second ago, he’d been in front of those barbarically ornate gates, doing something that caused them to swing open with a mechanical moan.

No one could move that fast. Or, more accurately, no one should be able to move that fast.

“What are you?” I breathed.

His teeth flashed in a smile that was predatory and sexy at the same time.

“A couple hours ago, I wondered the same thing about you.”

Me? Before I could ask what he meant, he opened the door and let me out. Ice raced through my veins when I saw the knife in his other hand. That was also the moment when I noticed the sign on the gates: Green-Wood Cemetery.

“Don’t,” I gasped.

He raised a brow, cutting through the duct tape around my wrists. “You’re the one who wanted to be untied.”

My arms fell to my sides while relief roared over me, replacing the surge of fear-fueled adrenaline. Just as quickly, something snapped inside me. All the grief, anger, fear and frustration of the past ten days hurtled through my defenses, turning me into someone I didn’t recognize.

A rage monster.

My hand cracked across Adrian’s face with enough force to make it tingle and burn, and still, it wasn’t enough. I began beating on his chest, part of me horrified by my actions, but the rest urging me to hit him harder.

“What is the matter with you?” I yelled. “You pull out a knife with no explanation? I thought you were going to kill me!”

Adrian grabbed my hands. Any sane person would have recognized how overmatched I was and calmed the hell down, but I was way past sanity. With my hands out of commission, I kicked his shin hard enough to send pain shooting up my leg. He grunted, backing me up until I was pressed against the car hood. Now I had a wall of steel behind me and a wall of muscled flesh on top of me.

“Stop it,” Adrian ordered, his strange accent thicker with his vehemence. “I promise, I’m not going to hurt you!”

My breath came in pants. Adrian countered my attempt to drop down and wiggle free by pressing his thigh between my legs. I stopped that course of action at once, which was the same as admitting defeat. I couldn’t use my arms to push him away. He felt more solid and heavy than a stone gargoyle.

“Get off me,” I said between ragged breaths.

“Not until you calm down,” he replied sternly. Then the barest grin tugged at his mouth. “Feel free to take your time.”

I glanced down, only now registering that my breasts were pressed against his chest just as tightly as his thigh was wedged between my legs. Any movement on my part caused an embarrassingly personal friction, as if inhaling each other’s breaths while we panted wasn’t intimate enough.

I tried to slow my breathing, not to mention my galloping heartbeat. If not for his grin, I wouldn’t have known he thought anything of the compromising position he had me in.

If nothing else, he didn’t seem angry that I’d slapped, kicked and pummeled him. Now that my reckless rage had passed, I realized how stupid I’d been. One punch from his massive fist would’ve meant lights out, but he hadn’t hit back. Instead, he’d promised that he wouldn’t hurt me. Despite his kidnapping me and his refusal to give me answers about what was going on, I decided to believe him.

“Sorry I attacked you,” I said, my voice no longer shrill.

He shrugged like he was used to it. “Don’t worry. You were overdue for a breakdown, anyway.”
Just how many people have you kidnapped? I almost asked. Since I didn’t really want to know, all I said was, “Can you get off me? You’re heavy.”

He slowly uncurled his body from mine, but that silvery blue gaze stayed glued to me. I shivered, suddenly aware of how cold it was, now that I wasn’t covered by over two hundred pounds of warm-blooded male.

Adrian shrugged out of his coat, revealing a crew-neck black shirt that hugged his physique like it was paying homage. Of course he’d noticed the shiver. I wondered if anything escaped those piercing eyes.

I put it on. The hem had been mid-calf on him; it pooled on the ground with me. I’d never felt dainty around a guy before. I was comfortable at a size eight because I didn’t have to starve to maintain it, and my five-six height meant I could usually wear heels without being taller than my dates. Next to Adrian, however, I seemed to drop twenty pounds while also shrinking a few inches. Of course, his bulk was all muscle. Feeling him on top of me had made that clear….
I nixed that line of thought before it led to other, more dangerous musings, and tightened his coat around me.

“If we’re not here so you can kill me and bury my body in an empty plot, what else is there to do at a cemetery?” I asked with admirable calm.

He laughed, the deep, masculine rumble teasing something inside me that was too stupid to realize kidnappers were off-limits. That’s why I refused to notice the chin dimple it revealed, or how his lower lip was fuller than the top one.

“Lots of things, but we’ll get to that later.”

“Sure there’s going to be a later?” I challenged him.

“Of course.” Another tantalizing smile. “Since you and I are from the same line, you’ll be seeing a lot more of me.”

Line? “You think we’re related?”

His gaze brushed me like a physical caress. “Not like that, thankfully. That would make our first date awkward.”

I stared at him in disbelief. “You’re hitting on me?” I finally managed. “Do you have any idea how twisted that is?”

He shrugged. “I don’t do subtle, it wastes time. Besides—” the silvery part of his eyes gleamed like liquid moonlight “—if you say you don’t find me attractive, I’ll know you’re lying.”

Under other circumstances, I might have blushed at being busted ogling someone I’d just met, but my kidnapper was hitting on me! Should that make me more afraid, or less? He’d already saved my life once and had had plenty of chances to harm me since, yet he hadn’t.

Plus, I wouldn’t be much fun as a date if I was dead.

“How about we hold the date talk until you give me the answers you promised?” I said, part of me wondering if tonight could get any stranger. The other part felt happy for the first time in over a week. Stupid ovaries. Down, girls, down!

Adrian’s expression turned serious. “I’m taking you to the person who can give you those answers.”

“Zach?” I asked, remembering Adrian mentioning the name.

“That’s him. This cemetery is almost five hundred acres, so if you don’t want to spend hours walking around in the cold—” he went over to the passenger side of the vintage-looking muscle car and opened the door “—get in.”

He was giving me a choice. Or at least, the illusion of one. If I ran, we both knew he could catch me.

The car’s interior light showed a hint of stubble trying to break through the smooth skin along his jaw, shadowing it in a way that was far too attractive. His exotic accent wasn’t helping, either. If I was ever kidnapped again, it had better be by an old, ugly guy. That would be less confusing to my emotions.

And less embarrassing. What idiot got caught lusting over her kidnapper? No wonder he’d asked me out. He must have thought I gave “easy” a whole new definition.

I walked over, thinking that even if I could run away from him, I wouldn’t. My sister was trapped in a place that shouldn’t be real, yet somehow was, and Adrian was my only ally because he could see the same crazy things that I did. More importantly, Adrian had proven that he was able to kill those things.

If he was able to help me save my sister, I’d not only take him up on his date offer. I’d pay for everything and seriously consider putting out.

I got in the passenger side, hearing the door lock as soon as he shut it. I tried to open it. 

Nothing. My sense of unease returned. What kind of person saved people just to kidnap them, and had a vehicle you could only exit from the driver’s side?

Then again, as Adrian slid into the seat next to me with an almost spooky fluidity, I realized what kind of person he was might be less important than what he was.


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Monday, August 25, 2014

A Peek In The BiblioBin #113

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:

Shel and Bel both received Christmas early this week. Shel has been anxiously awaiting the next in the Elemental series, Sacrifice - she loves those boys! Speaking of boys, Bel is excited to check out Amy Lane's latest offering, Beneath The Stain which is the start of a new serial. And because it's Amy Lane, there's sure to be some angst involved!

Beneath The Stain by Amy Lane

Sacrifice (Elemental #5) by Brigid Kemmerer


So Bel went to junior high this week (it was curriculum night you see) and was very excited about the reading list for her 7th grader's Language Arts class (but not quite as geeked out as when she went to said 7th grader's Honors World History class). Anyway, The Outsiders is on the reading list and since Bel has never read it, she was inspired to add this to her own list.

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton


You have to love book sales at libraries! And you can't beat two books for $1 either!

Chocolat by Joanne Harris

Blue-Eyed Devil (Travises #2) by Lisa Kleypas

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Reckless by Priscilla West

* * *

Everything about him warned me to stay away.

I’d seen bad boys before, but he had it all and more. The rippling muscles covered in tatts, the piercing eyes hiding dark secrets, the silky voice that could make a girl come with just a whisper . . .

He was exactly the type of guy that would get me in trouble, but when he jumped off the stage, inked skin glistening with sweat and breathed his seductive words into my ear, I couldn’t resist the temptation.

It was supposed to be the best one-night stand of my life, but fate didn’t let it play out that way. Things happened. I got upset. I got hasty. And worst of all, I got reckless.

After that disaster, I thought it was the last I’d see of him. But what I didn’t know was that I’d started something.

Something that could shatter the very thing I had worked so hard to protect.
I should have known back then that the most seductive things in life are also the most dangerous.

You know, I really can’t resist those bad boys especially those with the hair and the tattoos and who happen to be rockers.  Yeah, I’m a goner for those so naturally I’d gravitate towards Reckless.

Let me tell you, when Riley and Jax encounter each other for the first time – she’s front row at his show and he spots her as he’s scanning the crowd – it is lust as first sight. When the show is over, he seeks her out and directs her to meet him backstage in 15 minutes. Romantic, right? (Please read the sarcasm.) Their backstage rendez-vous doesn’t go very well and for all they know, that’s it.

Turns out Riley, who’s an accountant, is hired by Jax’s record label to go on tour with the band and contain their expenses. Oh this is awkward! There’s definitely some chemistry there and Jax makes it known that he’s interested in her for one thing. She is too but is reluctant to mix business with pleasure.  Oh if only she’d follow through.

I was getting into the story but I have to say, Riley threw me off.  For someone who is so concerned about her career and the importance of maintaining professionalism, she ends up making some questionable choices when she’s around Jax.  And he does his best to bait her while she goads him just as much.  

There’s plenty going on behind Jax’s somber, lone-wolf demeanor. Getting past that takes a lot of patience and a willingness to endure his mood swings. Jax has definitely met his match in Riley. There’s a lot of intensity between them and while I liked that, I also wished that Riley had been able to maintain her composure around him a bit better. She is on the job after all!

Reckless has some fun and heated moments. The hot moments are great though some are over the top ridiculous because Riley and Jax are trying so hard to one up each other. The ending was surprising and happened rather abruptly but don’t worry, the second book in the series will be out in the Fall! 

~ Bel