Thursday, September 12, 2013

review - Escaping Reality

Escaping Reality Cover Image

Three Stars
Escaping Reality
by: Lisa Renee Jones | Website | Twitter

Publication Date: July 22, 2013
Publisher: Julie Patra Publishing
Series: The Secret Life of Amy Bensen #1
Format: eBook via Netgalley
Page Count: 250
Genre: NA, Romance, Contemporary
Get your copy: Amazon | B&N

Add to Goodreads

Summary: Infinite possibilities….
Infinite passion…..
Infinite danger….

His touch spirals through me, warm and sweet, wicked and hot. I shouldn’t trust him. I shouldn’t tell him my secrets. But how do I not when he is the reason I breathe? He is what I need.

At the young age of eighteen, tragedy and a dark secret force Lara to flee all she has known and loves to start a new life. Now years later, with a new identity as Amy, she’s finally dared to believe she is forgotten–even if she cannot forget. But just when she lets down her guard, the ghosts of her past are quick to punish her, forcing her back on the run.

On a plane, struggling to face the devastation of losing everything again and starting over, Amy meets Liam Stone, a darkly entrancing recluse billionaire, who is also a brilliant, and famous, prodigy architect. A man who knows what he wants and goes after it. And what he wants is Amy. Refusing to take “no” as an answer, he sweeps her into a passionate affair, pushing her to her erotic limits. He wants to possess her. He makes her want to be possessed. Liam demands everything from her, accepting nothing less. But what if she is too devastated by tragedy to know when he wants more than she should give? And what if there is more to Liam than meets the eyes?

Summary and cover image from goodreads. I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I received no compensation for my review.

Escaping Reality Header Image
My Review
Escaping Reality has been on the Amazon best sellers list for a while, so when I saw it on Netgalley, I quickly requested it. It was a little different than what I was expecting. The beginning and climatic ending were the strongest parts of the book. Being dropped right into danger on page one, had me flipping pages furiously. I wanted details to Amy's frantic flight from a possible attack, but I never really understood what she was running from, much less the odd relationship she had with her "handler." It is later revealed that her family had been killed in a house fire due to some possibly shady connections of her father and his job??? Still a little confused about the backstory and all! The few details surrounding Amy's past are vague, but I did enjoy trying to suss it all out.

Let's take a moment to congratulate the winners of Insta-Love of the year! Not only of love, but there is also a case of insta-connection with another character. Between Liam (the future lover found at the airport gate) and Jared (the hunky and oh so familiar neighbor), I just couldn't help but think that Amy's feelings are too unbelievable. Two insta-guys in two days, really? The relationship between Amy and Liam did grow on me; he the overbearing billionaire that is finally allowing someone to break down his barriers. Amy also allows Liam into her life against what her head is telling her, providing her a human comfort she hasn't had in a long time.

Liam has some interesting character traits/backstory. I really wanted to know more about him. I know the recluse billionaire has been done before, but I fell hard for this one. He was enigmatic, adding to the danger that Amy is in. She wants to trust him but knows that her involvement could bring him harm. Liam's friend/business associate, Derek, was an added bonus for me. Because for some reason, the ever-watchful and protective male friend always makes me swoon. Guy dynamics at their best!

Amy's assumed identity from her handler had me scratching my head and questioning why she so blindly trust him. The apartment/job/boss setup seemed so convoluted that I had to suspend belief to make it through the whole situation. That is until things start to unravel…and get interesting. This building confusion and slipping of the truth had me totally hooked at the end.

As referenced, the middle sort of lagged in that there were few answers to that initial jolt of suspense and action. There was something about the writing that was off putting as well. It seemed novice. There were also a couple of descriptive phrases that were overused, for instance, every touch from Liam was "like a branding." I loved that line the first time I read it, but after the sixth or seventh it lost its touch. This didn't detract from the story, but it could have taken it to another level.

Overall an enjoyable read that stood out with its unique suspense angle. And for $.99, Escaping Reality is not be be missed. Plus, there is one awesome cliffhanger that will have you holding your breath. At least until October, when the sequel, Infinite Possibilities, is released.

My Favorite Quotes
What I like is him bare-chested and relaxed in his pajama bottoms, with sexy, mussed-up morning hair. And me, in his shirt, with his scent teasing my nostrils. I have never worn a man's shirt and that somehow makes wearing his shirt all the more intimate. Amy | page 160

This was my Swoon Thursday last week, and I still love this quote!
Have you read Escaping Reality? What did you think?

Monday, September 9, 2013

review - The Edge of Never

The Edge of Never Cover Image

Five Stars
The Edge of Never
by: J.A. Redmerski | Website | Twitter

Publication Date: November 15, 2013
Series: The Edge of Never #1
Format: eBook via Netgalley
Page Count: 426
Genre: NA, Contemporary, Romance
Get your copy: Amazon | B&N

Add to Goodreads

Summary: 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?

Due to sexual content and language, this book is recommended for 17+ New Adult Fiction

Summary and cover image from goodreads. I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I received no compensation for my review.

The Edge of Never Header Image
My Review
Cam and Andrew's chance meeting on a bus-trip starts these two on an amazing journey, entwining their lives and dreams. Laced with romance and heartbreak, The Edge of Never was a home run in the sea of New Adult.

Having run Division I XC and Track, I am intimately familiar with buses; it was our modus transportius every weekend for four years going to meets. I completely sympathized with the uncomfortable seats and all the sights and sounds of bus travel. Jessica nailed the bus description perfectly. Even the Waffle House visit had me reminiscing about college (although Waffle House menus don't fold, small details!). I actually highlighted a Waffle House quote that just spoke to the traveler in me. The traveling/road trip aspect of this book correlated with Cam's journey and growth as a person. She's traversing across the nation, putting miles between her old life and the life she wants. And there's nothing better than spending hours in a car with a hot guy and endless, easy conversation.

Cam's friend, Nat, almost made me question continuing this book, but so glad I did. The first five chapters or so, I was ready to dump Nat since Cam wouldn't. The partying, pushy best friend is one trope I am completely over. Even having grown up together, I really think these two personalities would have parted ways; I guess Cam's situation kept Nat around and thinking that she would snap out of her funk. Nat didn't realize that events had ultimately changed Cam. By the end, my view on Nat had become more forgiving; true friendship is called upon and Nat delivers.

The connection between Cam and Andrew starts off as an unwelcomed distraction for Cam and a unfightable need to protect for Andrew. Seeing Cam's walls fall down when she was with Andrew was heartwarming. She might have given up on finding a relationship, but her dissuasion against love really just stemmed from not finding her other half. Andrew is just that person; the one to make her want to open up and tell her secrets. He has a very intuitive personality, knowing that Cam has some important truths to tell, both to herself and him. He provided the right amount of push Cam needed. Cam's presence during Andrew's emotionally rough time was touching. The twist totally kicked me in the gut. Sure I knew Andrew was holding back something, but I just didn't see that one coming until we met his mother.

The epilogue seemed a bit rushed but did leave the characters in a settled situation. I am glad I started The Edge of Never knowing that there was a sequel, therefore the epilogue was just an appetizer for what's to come.

Can I fangirl about the cover for a moment? It captures Cam perfectly. I also love Jessica Redmerski's (who I happen to live in the same metro area as, awesome right?) Pintrest board for The Edge of Never. The next installment for Cam and Andrew, The Edge of Always, drops November 5th, 2013.

And Andrew…You own me!

My Favorite Quotes
I love the smell of Waffle House; it's the smell of freedom, being on the open road and knowing that ninety percent of the people eating with you are also on that road. Andrew | page 141

She got pissed when I accused her of having Bieber Fever (it pisses me off that I even know what the fuck that means--I blame that on society)… Andrew | page 65

Have you read The Edge of Never or any other good New Adult books lately?

Saturday, September 7, 2013

review - Requiem

Requiem Cover Image

Three Stars
by: Lauren Oliver | Website | Twitter

Publication Date: March 5, 2013
Publisher: HarperCollins Children's Books
Series: Delirium #3
Format: Hardback
Page Count: 391
Genre: YA, Dystopian
Get your copy: Amazon | B&N

Add to Goodreads

Summary: They have tried to squeeze us out, to stamp us into the past.

But we are still here.

And there are more of us every day.

Now an active member of the resistance, Lena has been transformed. The nascent rebellion that was under way in Pandemonium has ignited into an all-out revolution in Requiem, and Lena is at the center of the fight.

After rescuing Julian from a death sentence, Lena and her friends fled to the Wilds. But the Wilds are no longer a safe haven—pockets of rebellion have opened throughout the country, and the government cannot deny the existence of Invalids. Regulators now infiltrate the borderlands to stamp out the rebels, and as Lena navigates the increasingly dangerous terrain, her best friend, Hana, lives a safe, loveless life in Portland as the fiancĂ©e of the young mayor.

Maybe we are driven crazy by our feelings.

Maybe love is a disease, and we would be better off without it.

But we have chosen a different road.

And in the end, that is the point of escaping the cure: We are free to choose.

We are even free to choose the wrong thing.

Requiem is told from both Lena’s and Hana’s points of view. The two girls live side by side in a world that divides them until, at last, their stories converge.

Summary and cover image from goodreads.

Requiem Header Image
My Review
While Delirium and even Pandemonium had my complete attention, Requiem seemed to lack that same spark that initially captured me. There were some great scenes, but as a whole it was not what I was expecting. Part of this could have been to the additional POV, Hana, Lena's best friend. To all of a sudden have Hana own half the final book, left Lena's story reduced. This was most noticeable in her interactions with Julian and/or Alex, in that they were shortened to one or two paragraphs and contained the following paraphrased lines, "Julian and I are now back to normal." What? Can you explain normal? We didn't get to see any growth or real give and take in Lena's relationships. Very frustrating! The story progressed and decisions were made, but the love was just not there. It almost seemed that Lena had truly given everything to the resistance and that there were no spare emotions available to be freely given elsewhere. The story was so concerned with getting to the end that the LOVE that started this whole revolution seemed abandoned. Ironically enough, the epic conclusion and rebel resistance were the strongest parts in the final book. In the end, I was indifferent (leaning on the more accepting-side) of the conclusion and Lena's choices, but I just don't know how Lena got there.

Have you read the Delirium series? What did you think of the final book? Disappointed? Happy?

Thursday, September 5, 2013

review - Siege and Storm

Siege and Storm Cover Image

Five Stars
Siege and Storm
by: Leigh Bardugo | Website | Twitter

Publication Date: June 4, 2013
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Series: The Grisha #2
Format: Hardback
Page Count: 435
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Get your copy: Amazon | B&N

Add to Goodreads

Summary: Darkness never dies.

Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land. She finds starting new is not easy while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. She can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long.

The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her--or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm.

Summary and cover image from goodreads.

Siege and Storm Header Image
My Review
This was one my most wanted books of the summer, and it did not disappoint! Siege and Storm opens with Alina and Mal having sorted through their Shadow and Bone issues (per se) and being on the run from the Darkling. Thus begins the exciting sequel that packs in the action and romance. Siege and Storm also introduces the awesome privateer, Sturmhond. One moment while I restart my heart! He is beyond amazing.

Alina's journey to control the power she wields becomes increasingly perilous for both her and Mal. She is definitely suffering from some identity issues and her growing hunger for power, a-la sun-summoning. All the while, she is navigating the political world, royal marriage proposals, and religious followings in her name. There are many great twists in Siege and Storm. Alina's final battle waits for readers in Ruin and Rising, and I can't help but think that there is a lot more to Mal and his "connection" to Alina.

Got an itch for some good fantasy? Give The Grisha series a try; you won't be disappointed!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

waiting on wednesday | 12 - The Offering

Waiting on Wednesday
Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we can't wait to get in our hands.

The Offering Image The Offering
by: Kimberly Derting | Website | Twitter

Publication Date: January 7, 2014
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry (S&S)
Series: The Pledge #3

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Summary: True love—and world war—is at stake in the conclusion to The Pledge trilogy, a dark and romantic blend of dystopia and fantasy.

Charlie, otherwise known as Queen Charlaina of Ludania, has become comfortable as a leader and a ruler. She’s done admirable work to restore Ludania’s broken communications systems with other Queendoms, and she’s mastered the art of ignoring Sabara, the evil former queen whose Essence is alive within Charlie. Or so she thinks.

When the negotiation of a peace agreement with the Queendom of Astonia goes awry, Charlie receives a brutal message that threatens Ludania, and it seems her only option is to sacrifice herself in exchange for Ludanian freedom.

But things aren’t always as they seem. Charlie is walking into a trap—one set by Sabara, who is determined to reclaim the Queendoms at any cost.

Summary and cover image from goodreads.

Why the WOW: This is one series I think needs more attention. I fell in love with The Pledge, and the Essence was a solid sequel. Very excited to see how Charlie leads her kingdom in this final book. I just noticed the cover release this past week, could have happened sooner but saw it in my Goodreads list. The series looks good together, and the full reveal of Charlie's profile very symbolic I think!

The Pledge Image The Essence Image The Offering Image
What are you waiting for?

Monday, September 2, 2013

review - Redesigned

Redesigned Cover Image

Three Stars
by: Denise Grover Swank | Website | Twitter

Publication Date: June 10, 2013
Publisher: Createspace
Series: Off the Subject #2
Format: eBook
Page Count: 294
Genre: NA, Contemporary, Romance
Get your copy: Amazon | B&N

Add to Goodreads

Summary: While fashion design major Caroline Hunter may have been born economically unlucky, in college, she’s been lucky in love. Until her senior year at Southern University. She’s gone from a serious long term boyfriend to a string of crappy dates.

Then she meets mathematics grad student Reed Pendergraft.

Reed is everything she’s not looking for. Serious. Headed for a low paying university job. Boring. Caroline spent the first eighteen years of her life wondering where her next meal was coming from. She sure wasn’t getting trapped in that life again with a man living on a professor’s salary.

An encounter with Reed in a club proves she might have pegged him wrong. He brings out a lusty side she never knew she had. But just when she’s about to give in to her hormones, Reed makes a fool out of her.

When she shows up for the first committee meeting for Southern University’s Fall fashion show, a fundraiser for underprivileged kids, Caroline’s horrified to discover the insufferable Reed is the committee chairman. While she refuses to tolerate his totalitarian rule of the committee, she’s not sure she’ll survive the month with her heart—and her pride—intact. Just when she thinks she has everything figured out, she finds that her entire life has been redesigned, thanks to Reed Pendergraft.

Summary and cover image from goodreads.

Redesigned Header Image
My Review
Redesigned is the second book in the Off the Subject series and follows Caroline, Scarlet's friend and former roommate from Aftermath (my review). Caroline grew up with Scarlet in their small, impoverished Tennessee town; their move to college provided them both with the opportunity to recast themselves without the stigma of their pasts. Caroline's backstory is fully fleshed out in Redesigned; there is so much more depth to her, including her motivations and insecurities. But I just did not connect with her as much as I did with Scarlet. It might be that her story revolved around more social issues (versus Scarlet's socially awkward personality), giving Redesigned a bit of a preachy feel (Change a life today, Volunteer! The more you know! and all that). I can see how Caroline was affected by the fundraiser, I just wasn't expecting the poverty message.

Reed was hard to wrap my head around. He had all the required traits for a swoon-worthy hero, but just fell a little flat. I really liked that he was the socially awkward one of the relationship, but not having his POV it just came across as jerky (unlike with Scarlet). He was lacking in the grand-gestures and apparent adoration of Caroline. I wanted to like him more but couldn't.

Lexi is one secondary character with a little umph! I wanted to read more of her story. How she brought out Reed's protective-brother side, which was one of the few dimensions we did see of Reed.

Scarlet and Tucker return and have some great scenes. Tucker was completely swoony in his protection of Caroline. He treats her like a sister and is there when she needed a little back-up.

While Redesigned didn't completely own me like Aftermath, I am still very into this series and Denise Swank's writing. Interested in how the series began, my review of After Math. Looking forward to book #3, Business as Usual, out later this year.

Have you read any of the Off the Subject series? What did you think?

Sunday, September 1, 2013

update | new adult overload

My brain is in the gutter! Is it just me or does that line from David Guetta song "Play Hard" have a New Adult vibe? I hear it and automatically hear it being said by a NA guy. And I love it all that much more! I have been on a new adult kick, no thanks to Amazon, their $0.99 - $2.99 prices, and my Kindle app that is with me everywhere. I always get Amazon gift cards from my credit card reward points, and having a continuous balance on my Amazon account is turning out to be dangerous! Trying to throw my YA books back into the tbr pile. Very excited about Deception (Defiance #2) and Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2) that came out this week.

Deception Cover Crown of Midnight Cover
So, I've been a little absent lately from the blog. I recently bought an old house (circa 1950). My spare time has been filled with (major) demolition and renovation. I'm really looking forward to the finished project, hopefully moving in around November. I do keep my Instagram updated with all the latest renovation photos, if interested. Secondly, at work I'm coming off a brand-new/relauched webstore. So, while I was reading in this little hiatus, the thought of sitting down in front of a computer for another second had me fit to be tied. But the site is pretty much up and running smoothly, and I'm back to blogging!

Stay tuned for some great upcoming YA and NA book reviews!

Saturday, August 31, 2013

review - Quintana of Charyn

Quintana of Charyn Cover Image

Five Stars
Quintana of Charyn
by: Melina Marchetta | Website | Twitter

Publication Date: April 23, 2013
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Series: The Lumatere Chronicles #3
Format: Hardback
Page Count: 516
Genre: YA, High Fantasy
Get your copy: Amazon | B&N

Add to Goodreads

Summary: There's a babe in my belly that whispers the valley, Froi. I follow the whispers and come to the road . . .

Separated from the girl he loves and has sworn to protect, Froi must travel through Charyn to search for Quintana, the mother of Charyn's unborn king, and protect her against those who will do anything to gain power. But what happens when loyalty to family and country conflict? When the forces marshalled in Charyn's war gather and threaten to involve the whole of the land, including Lumatere, only Froi can set things right, with the help of those he loves.

Summary and cover image from goodreads.

Quintana of Charyn Header Image
My Review
The bittersweet finality of a series-ending book. Melina Marchetta blew this one out of the water. There were so many characters and plot points to cover but none were neglected. Finishing the last page, I was definitely satisfied and fully content with where the characters were and their hopeful futures. Melina wrote a full-fledged epilogue; other authors take note! Lucian and Phaedra became one of my favorite story lines; their struggle to honor their respective kingdoms but stay true to the path their hearts were leading them. Ugh, the feelings! Quintana's journey and growth was amazing, considering her start in Froi of the Exiles. While there was hope in the end, Melina does not spare readers of heartbreak and lose.

Series-wise, I was surprised by how much Froi's story became integral to the land of Skuldenore. Seems like Isoboe and Finnikin were just a device to introduce Froi. I wouldn't have complained if there had been more of their story in the final book, but this did not affect my love for this series. This sweeping and detailed fantasy series has permanently left its mark on my heart!

Have you read any of The Lumatere Chronicles? Fantasy at its highest? Yes, I believe so!

Friday, August 30, 2013

review - After Math

After Math Cover Image

Five Stars
After Math
by: Denise Grover Swank | Website | Twitter

Publication Date: March 12, 2013
Publisher: Createspace
Series: Off the Subject #1
Format: eBook
Page Count: 246
Genre: NA, Contemporary Romance
Get your copy: Amazon | B&N

Add to Goodreads

Summary: Scarlett Goodwin’s world is divided into Before and After.

Before she agreed to tutor Tucker price, college junior Scarlett was introvert, struggling with her social anxiety and determined to not end up living in a trailer park like her mother and her younger sister. A mathematics major, she goes to her classes, to her job in the tutoring lab, and then hides in the apartment she shares with her friend, Caroline.

After junior Tucker Price, Southern University’s star soccer player enters the equation, her carefully plotted life is thrown off its axis. Tucker’s failing his required College Algebra class. With his eligibility is at risk, the university chancellor dangles an expensive piece of computer software for the math department if Scarlett agrees to privately tutor him. Tucker’s bad boy, womanizer reputation makes Scarlett wary of any contact, let alone spending several hours a week in close proximity.

But from her first encounter, she realizes Tucker isn’t the person everyone else sees. He carries a mountain of secrets which she suspects hold the reason to his self-destructive behavior. But the deeper she delves into the cause of his pain, the deeper she gets sucked into his chaos. Will Scarlett find the happiness she’s looking for, or will she be caught in Tucker’s aftermath?

Summary and cover image from goodreads.

After Math Header Image
My Review
Never have I read a book that I so connected with, as much as Aftermath. And to think it was a whim purchase after seeing a quick blog post with the words "math nerd." I started Aftermath that night and stayed up way too late finishing it.

Scarlet is the closest book version of me I've ever found, aside from her background. The studious, 4.0 GPA introvert, who's wary of crowds and prefers her comfortable sanctuary that is her room/apartment. She spoke to me from page one; I understood how she felt and all of her motives. Some would ask why read about what you already know, instead of the adventurous heroine who's afraid of nothing? While those can provide some escape, it was nice to read something relatable.

All the New Adult books are taking place in college, and Denise Swank writes one of the most realistic, true-to-life college settings, everything from classes, university funding, study labs, student fitness centers, and NCAA athletes (having been one myself). Aftermath was kind of surreal, like my college years had been brought to life on the page. And for me it was these little details that really pushed Aftermath to the next level in New Adult. College wasn't presented in this Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby way with all the parties and days were students don't study. The characters actually went to a college sporting event; hello real college experience!

Be still my heart! The understanding of this man is mind-blowingly sweet. He senses Scarlet's apprehension and works so hard to make her comfortable, building their relationship from the very smallest nugget of friendship. I love that the infernal friend-zone wall was smashed in this book. In fact, Scarlet almost required the friendship prior to her heart even thinking about any more. No insta-love here, which is much appreciated. Sometimes people need to know a person's character before they surrender their heart. Very glad Tucker stuck with Scarlet and let her warm-up to him and the idea of them. Just another shoutout for how much I loved that Tucker was a college athlete. Him running to Scarlet's apartment made my heart pitter-patter.

I highly recommend Aftermath to anyone interested in a slow-burning romance and a realistic New Adult novel, where partying is not the entire college experience!

Have you read After Math? What did you think?