Friday, December 19, 2014

Review: "Sideswiped" by Lia Riley

It was only meant to last the summer . . . Talia Stolfi has seen more than her share of loss in her twenty-one years. But then fate brought her Bran Lockhart, and her dark world was suddenly and spectacularly illuminated. So if being with Bran means leaving her colorless NorCal life for rugged and wild Australia, then that’s what she’ll do. But as much as Talia longs to give herself over completely to a new beginning, the fears of her past are still lurking in the shadows. Bran Lockhart knows that living without the beautiful girl who stole his heart will be torment, so he’ll take whatever time with her he can. But even though she has packed up her life in California and is back in his arms for the time being, she can’t stay forever. And the remaining time they have together is ticking by way too fast. Though fate seems determined to tear them apart, they won’t give up without a fight—because while time may have limits, their love is infinite . . .

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for allowing me to read and review an ARC of this book!

Bran loves Talia.  Talia loves Bran.  And so they lived happily ever after, right?  Right?!  Wouldn't be much of a book if that's how it went down, and I think it would have been easy for "Sideswiped" to fall victim to the sophomore slump if that's how Lia Riley decided to write it.  Fortunately, this series continues on with the same great writing and realistic characters that I came to love in "Upside Down".

Talia is fortunate to be able to finish her degree in Hobart while Bran works on his  research project, and they are also able to play house together.  While the relationship is still new and there are a few bumps, they quickly get into a rhythm that works for them.  Lurking in the background, however, is the knowledge that Talia's visa will soon run out, and then what?  Not only that, but Talia also realizes that Bran is not completely happy with being stuck in a lab all day - she doesn't want to stifle his passionate spirit.  And not only that, but Talia has the need to go off on her own and spread her wings, too - she needs to see what she can accomplish herself, without riding Bran's coattails.  Bran, meanwhile, comes up with a desperate plan to keep them together, but by holding on so hard, he's inadvertently pushing Talia away.

Ugh, the angst!  I could feel the tension with every page!  Talia and Bran's situation hit quite close to home as I recalled the early stages of my relationship with my husband - newly graduated with no real clue of what I wanted to do with my future, career-wise, but sure that I'd found "the one" I wanted to be with, and knowing somehow that things would work out.  

Talia finally gets to meet Bran's family in "Sideswiped" during the Melbourne Cup, and what a bunch of pompous jerks they are! No wonder Bran wants nothing to do with them!  At least Talia gets an insider's view of what makes Bran tick, and I think it makes her appreciate him all the more.

My one complaint would have to be that there was not much said about Talia's OCD.  It seems like she's been handling her disorder quite well, and while her struggles were mentioned a few times, I thought there would have been more of a focus on that subject.

I'm not sure what else to say except that this, the "Off the Map" series by Lia Riley, is probably my favourite New Adult series of the year, so if you like New Adult and you haven't picked this one up yet, definitely give it a go!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Review: "Dangerous Creatures" by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

A new series returns to the world of Beautiful Creatures. Some loves are cursed...others are dangerous. Ridley Duchannes will be the first to tell you that she's a bad girl. She's Dark. She's a Siren. You can never trust her, or even yourself when she's around. Lucky for her, Wesley "Link" Lincoln can never seem to remember that; quarter Incubus or not, his heart is Mortal when it comes to Ridley. When Link heads to New York City to start a music career, Ridley goes along for the ride-and she has her own reasons. As if leaving small-town Gatlin for the big city, trying to form a band, and surviving life with a partially reformed Siren isn't hard enough already, Link soon learns he has a price on his head that no Caster or Mortal can ever pay. Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, the #1 New York Times bestselling coauthors of Beautiful Creatures, are back and casting another magical spell. Their signature mixture of mystery, suspense, and romance, along with a dash of fun and danger, will pull fans in and leave them begging for more.

Thank you to Little, Brown Books for Young Readers via Netgalley for the free review copy of this book!

Did I like this book?

I don't really know what to say about this book.  I haven't read the "Beautiful Creatures" series, so I had no previous emotional investment in these characters at all- I wonder if that negatively affected my reading experience?  I'm going to say yes.

The book starts off right away with Ridley and Link saying goodbye to the four others of their group.  Immediately I was confused because I didn't know who was what kind of supernatural or what their powers were or anything.  Maybe I should have stopped reading right there, but I persevered, and things eventually became a bit more clear.

Ridley is an interesting character.  She's bitchy and mouthy, but I rather enjoyed her feistiness.  Link, on the other hand, kind of annoyed me. I think he's supposed to come off all funny and sweet, maybe quirky, but I think I would smack him upside the head if I had to put up with him for any length of time.  The real surprise here was Lennox Gates - I kind of liked him and found myself rooting for him from the start, even though he's the villain - or is he?  Anyhow, I kept hoping Ridley would ditch Link and hook up with Lennox, although I don't think that was the authors' intention.  Whatever.  Honestly, my feelings about this love triangle lean heavily towards ambivalence - I don't care too much which guy Ridley ends up with, or even if she ends up with neither of them.  Now if she ended up with both...that could be interesting! But we are talking YA here, so the chances of that happening are pretty slim.

Will you like this book?

I suppose if you've read the "Beautiful Creatures" series and liked it, you might enjoy "Dangerous Creatures" as well.  If you haven't read the first series, however, I wouldn't recommend this one- you'll be as lost as I was.

Will I read more from these authors?

After reading "Dangerous Creatures", I've decided that I'm not interested in reading more of this series or the "Beautiful Creatures" series.  They're just not really my thing. However, I might still be inclined to read books from other series by Garcia or Stohl, depending on if the synopsis intrigues me.  

My rating:

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Review: "Just a Little Crush" by Renita Pizzitola

Good girls stay away from Ryder Briggs . . . or, at least, they try to. In Renita Pizzitola’s emotional novel of heartache and seduction, one college freshman just can’t get enough. Brinley Dawson doesn’t drink, she studies—and despite the accusations of her alcoholic mother, she’s still a virgin. But if Brinley’s life is so put together, why is she freaking out to be going to college with the gorgeous, green-eyed jerk she kissed on a stupid dare in high school? Ryder Briggs can have any girl he wants . . . and the rumors say that he does. So why, after publicly embarrassing Brinley four years ago, is he suddenly acting like he’s interested? Ryder never forgot Brinley. In fact, those perfect seven minutes permanently raised the bar for what a kiss could be. The truth is, Ryder doesn’t dare get too close to anyone. He knows how that worked out for his parents. But when his roommate takes a shot at Brinley, Ryder can’t contain his jealousy. Now he must do the hardest thing he’s ever done: forget about sex and convince Brinley his feelings are real. Brinley isn’t sure whether she believes Ryder, but for the first time, her body isn’t playing by the rules. Then she discovers that she’s an unwilling part of a cruel game, humiliating her all over again—and Ryder might be to blame. Has Brinley’s little crush turned into a huge mistake . . . or has she found the one guy worth trusting with her heart?
Thank you to Netgalley and Loveswept Publishing for the review copy!

This was a nice little book, but overall nothing groundbreaking here.  No glaring errors, it has decent writing and some semi-likeable characters, but again, nothing I haven't seen before, and nothing that will make "Just A Little Crush" stand out from the glut of New Adult titles currently available.

Brinley is the main character and the book is told from her point of view.  She is a bit nerdy, but from what people say to her, we know that she is also pretty/beautiful/hot/sexy/whatever.  But, to keep her from being too perfect, she's got some family issues, she's only got one friend, and she's pretty clueless around guys, so I didn't completely hate her.  Why she doesn't have financial issues is a question I had throughout the book, but who knows, maybe she's got student loans coming out the ying yang.  Doesn't really matter, I guess.

Then there's Ryder Briggs.  Brinley is still kind of hung up on him from high school, even though the only time they had ever interacted was during a game of spin the bottle.  Although Ryder's behaviour after "the kiss" was less than stellar, Brinley can't help but be attracted to him, which is a little weird, but some girls just love them a bad boy I guess!  They end up at the same college and inevitably at the same parties and having some "friends" in common.  Now, Ryder is the stereotypical New Adult bad boy.  He is gorgeous and cocky, has a perfect body that he does absolutely nothing to maintain, is pierced and tattooed, and has a veritable harem following him around.  And of course, he only has eyes for Brinley.  So, although I didn't exactly despise Ryder, I did have a hard time loving him because he's just not unique enough for me.  No swoons, people, not even one!  Even when he was confiding all his deep dark secrets to Brinley, it felt a little forced and cheesy.  Been there, done that, not really buying it anymore!

Despite being filled with cliches, I was pulled in enough to want to keep reading.  The plot had some memorable moments, and there was a bit of a twist near the end that I wasn't expecting.  So, definitely check this one out if the synopsis catches your attention - maybe not the best book in the New Adult genre I've read, but certainly not the worst either.

My rating:

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Review: "The Undiscovered Goddess" by Michelle Colston

Who knew a Cosmo quiz and a bottle of wine could change a woman’s life? Holly, housewife and frazzled mother of three, is determined to discredit the lackluster result of a Cosmo personality quiz. After buying a workbook geared toward helping her find her inner goddess, Holly sets off on a year of self-discovery, journaling through each uncomfortable exercise as she goes.Facing inner demons, yoga, an explosive colon cleanse and REALLY spicy curry, the lessons are hard on her emotions, not to mention her digestive system. But does she succeed in the end? Beyond the superficial, what important lesson does Holly’s inner goddess have the power to teach her…and what can Holly teach you?

My thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for allowing me to read and review an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

As soon as I finished this book, I automatically thought of several women I know who I could recommend it to.  Women who are in the same stage of life as I am, basically.  I think "The Undiscovered Goddess" will really appeal to women who are living the dream life they imagined as a little girl and realizing it's not exactly how they pictured it.

I laughed my arse off with this one, but it also made me evaluate my own life and some of the bad habits I share with Holly.  
For example, Holly started the book off as a pretty heavy drinker.  I like to indulge a bit on the weekend myself, but when does a little indulgence become a problem?  I started to worry a bit about Holly because, honestly, she seemed like she had a wee drinking problem.  Fortunately, through working chapter by chapter through her "Undiscovered Goddess" workbook, this is one of the areas that Holly is able to address and see the truth of.

Holly also has some body image issues, and honestly, who of us doesn't?  She knows she doesn't always make good choices with her diet, and her fitness level is at a zero, but what's a girl to do?  She's got three kids and a husband to take care of, and friendships to maintain - who's got time for eating right and exercising?  Again, taking a good hard look at her life, Holly realizes that by making self-care a priority, she's not being selfish but is instead able to give more back to her family.  When a mother is happy, everyone is happy!

Anyway, I learned a lot from Holly.  I didn't really like her much to begin with, but by the end she was someone I could picture myself being friends with.  I ended up really loving this book!  Highly recommended!

My rating: 4stars

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Review: "Remember When" by T. Torrest

Years before Trip Wiley could be seen on movie screens all over the world, he could be seen sitting in the desk behind me in my high school English class. This was back in 1990, and I cite the year only to avoid dumbfounding you when references to big hair or stretch pants are mentioned. Although, come to think of it, I am from New Jersey, which may serve as explanation enough. We were teenagers then, way back in a time before anyone could even dream he’d turn into the Hollywood commodity that he is today. In case you live under a rock and don't know who Trip Wiley is, just know that these days, he’s the actor found at the top of every casting director’s wish list. He’s incredibly talented and insanely gorgeous, the combination of which has made him very rich, very famous and very desirable. And not just to casting directors, either. I can’t confirm any of the gossip from his early years out in Tinseltown, but based on what I knew of his life before he was famous, I can tell you that the idea of Girls-Throwing-Themselves-At-Trip is not a new concept. I should know. I was one of them. And my life hasn’t been the same since.

My thanks to Netgalley and Smith Publicity for allowing me to read and review an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.

I found this book compulsively readable! Once started, I could not stop!  I think a big part of what drew me in to this book was the time period in which it was set.  I was in high school in the 90's as well, so I really got a kick out of being sent back to that era - such nostalgia!

Layla is a very dynamic character. Through her we get to feel all sorts of things - the pain of being abandoned by her mother, the angst of first (and unrequited) love, unconditional friendship, embarrassment, jealousy...pretty much everything you ever felt when you were "coming of age".  I thought the author did a great job of immersing me into Layla's world, although if I were to offer a criticism here, it would be that there could have been more as far as the background of the secondary characters.  For example, I never had a clear picture of Layla's father, what he did for work or why he didn't mind his daughter going out partying all the time.  I think Layla's brother was mentioned less than five times.  And Cooper?!  One of the best characters in the book and I wasn't let in to any of the meat of Layla's history with him until near the end!  

Part of what I loved about this book was how Layla and Trip started out as friends.  They had so much fun, studying and working a part time job together, before any of the dating mess came into the picture.  Trip was a pretty neat guy, beautiful of course, but also smart and kind.  So many times I end up reading books with cocky a-holes as the main love interest, so Trip was a refreshing change of pace.  Same complaint here, though - I wasn't given enough background.  I'm thinking especially of a scene towards the end of the book where a pretty heavy duty secret is revealed.  It came completely out of left field, and then was simultaneously dropped.  With an issue that big affecting Trip's life, I would have liked to see more build up and more resolution.

I wonder if many readers will be disappointed with the ending of "Remember When".  I wasn't - I think everything about the ending was perfect, and I am absolutely looking forward to reading the next in the series!

My rating:  3.5 stars

Friday, November 28, 2014

Review: "Worth the Fall" by Claudia Connor

They meet on a beach. . . . Abby Davis isn’t wearing a skimpy bikini or sipping umbrella drinks, not when she’s busy chasing around four little ones. And Matt McKinney isn’t looking for fun—he’s a Navy SEAL, a grown man with a long list of missions . . . and fallen brothers. They only have a week. . . . Abby has brought her children to this beach to start over, to give them the enjoyable memories they deserve. Matt’s been sidelined by a combat injury, and haunted by the best friend he lost and the promise he made: to remain a SEAL—focused and dedicated. This leaves no time for what he’s always wanted: a family. But a week is all it takes. . . . Matt opens her heart while Abby soothes his soul. And though they plan to say good-bye when the week is over, something magical happens on that beach, something neither can forget. Something utterly, completely worth falling for.

Thanks to Netgalley and Loveswept Publishing for the review copy!

"Worth the Fall" is surely worth the read if you are looking for a sweet romance.  Although I had a few little gripes, I would definitely be interested in checking out other titles in this series, as I felt that overall it was quite well done.

This story is told from both Matt and Abby's points of view, and I found them both easy to like.  Matt is an all-around great guy - fun loving, kind, great with kids, attentive, gorgeous, and he's just one of those men that seems to know how to handle pretty much any situation.  I suppose that goes along with his Navy SEAL career, but yeah, a guy like that?  What's not to like?  

Then there's Abby.  I guess you could say she's got her hands full!  With four little kids and another on the way, and a widow to boot, it's a wonder she hasn't had a complete mental breakdown yet.  She's decided to take the kids on a little beach holiday - which to me sounds extremely stressful, but that's just me! - where lo and behold she meets Matt.  Matt has been dragged along to the beach by his cousin as a sort of blind date.  Matt does not enjoy his "date's" company at all, so it's pretty easy for him to ditch their group and start hovering around Abby and her brood.  Anyway, long story short, sparks fly and eventually, amidst all the chaos of four kidlets, they hook up.  

So this is mostly all well and good, but I did have some problems, things that if addressed I think would make the story stronger.  There were times that the plot seemed to drag, especially getting to that first kiss.  There was always a kid to soothe, or feed, or put to bed!  Speaking of kids, one of Abby's kids is named Annie, so every now and then I had to look again to make sure who was doing what - Abby said that?  That doesn't make sense! Oh, okay, it was Annie!  

I felt that Abby's character could have been developed more.  We get enough of her backstory to understand why she's a little reluctant to trust Matt, but that was it.  I wanted to know why she decided to have so many kids, especially with a man who was mostly absent and entirely hands off in raising them.  I wanted to know if she had always wanted to be a stay-at-home mom, or if she had career aspirations of her own.  I guess she didn't really have time for hobbies, but did she have any interests outside of raising her kids?  Sure she was nice, beautiful, gentle, etc.  But she was also kind of boring.

Matt, on the other hand, we find out was thinking about leaving the SEALs to pursue other avenues, and that he'd always pictured himself with a wife and family.  He's also dealing with some guilt over promises made to a fallen comrade.  When comparing the development of Matt's character to that of Abby's, it seems a little lopsided - I definitely felt closer to Matt.

My final gripe is with the cover.  The guy is beautiful, no doubt, but why does he have his hand down his pants?  That's just, ew!

Aside from these minor issues, however, I'd say that "Worth the Fall" is a strong start to this series, and I hope I get to read more from Claudia Connor in the near future.

My rating:  3 stars

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Review: "I Hunt Killers" by Barry Lyga

What if the world's worst serial killer...was your dad? Jasper "Jazz" Dent is a likable teenager. A charmer, one might say. But he's also the son of the world's most infamous serial killer, and for Dear Old Dad, Take Your Son to Work Day was year-round. Jazz has witnessed crime scenes the way cops wish they could—from the criminal's point of view. And now bodies are piling up in Lobo's Nod. In an effort to clear his name, Jazz joins the police in a hunt for a new serial killer. But Jazz has a secret—could he be more like his father than anyone knows?

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for allowing me to read and review a copy of this book.  I had also purchased my own copy of this book earlier in the year, but it was getting a review copy through Netgalley that gave me the push to get off my butt and finally read it!

So, my daughter saw me reading this book - she's nine - and asked if she could read it after I was finished.  I was like, "No freakin' way!  Maybe when you're twenty!  It's sick, twisted, demented, insane, psycho, grotesque, brutal!!!  No WAY are you reading this book!!!"  But I gotta tell ya, I loved every minute of it! 

Jasper Dent, gah, what can I say about this kid?  He's doing everything he can to fight the whole nature vs. nurture thing.  He's been nurtured since birth to become a serial killer, but there are times when it seems that the thirst for killing might also be in his nature.  Those are the times that while I was reading made me cringe with fear.  Seriously disturbing!  

It's also interesting to watch Jasper work his charm.  He's been trained so well by "Dear Old Dad" that turning on the charisma comes naturally to him.  It also makes it easy for him to act, in theatre productions and whenever he needs to become a certain character in real life.  Truly amazing!  I don't think I've ever read another character remotely like Jazz, and I found him completely enthralling.

There are a few secondary characters in Jazz's life, but it's really difficult to get a read on what he feels for them.  On the surface, it's obvious that Jazz cares about Connie, Howie and G. William, but how much is he able to feel when he's been brainwashed not to?

The mystery and suspense were really well done here - I had no idea from one moment to the next what was going to happen!  I'll definitely be buying the other books in this series to add to my library - highly recommended!

My rating: 5 stars

Monday, November 24, 2014

Review: "Getting Even" by Sarah Rayner

Revenge has never been such fun

How would you feel if your best friend at work betrayed you? Was secretly having an affair with an influential colleague? Won a coveted promotion, then teamed you up with a mere junior, leaving you feeling completely demoted? What would you do? For Ivy there's no choice. The only person she has ever trusted, Orianna, has blown it big time. So there's only one way forward: revenge.

Ivy's campaign is brilliant, if horribly destructive, and she's determined to get even with the woman who has dared to cross her. But is Ivy really the innocent party? Or is she hiding secrets of her own?

My Thoughts
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for allowing me to read and review an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.

I really had a hard time getting through this book, and I'm not sure exactly why.  Maybe I just wasn't in the mood for this genre of novel, or maybe the constantly changing POV's made it difficult for me to connect with any of the characters.  Whatever the reasons for my sluggish reading, don't let this deter you from picking up "Getting Even", as it was very well done.  

I just reread the synopsis, and I do feel that it's misleading.  I was expecting the story to be told exclusively from Ivy's point of view, and for her to be the party who has been betrayed and stomped on professionally.  In reality, this is far from the case and Ivy is instead very difficult to sympathize with.  Occasionally, she deals with a bout of guilt as she dishes out her revenge, but the main reason I kept reading was because I wanted to see Ivy get what was coming to her!  She is just an awful person!!!  But she's also one of those characters that people love to hate, which can make for an extremely fun read.  

The world Rayner creates here is an interesting one in that it is so far removed from my life.  Most of the characters are an insular little group working at a marketing firm in London, and from them we get to see an inside view of the politics and relationships that make up this web.  Rob is the outsider, the personal trainer who takes on first Dan and then Ivy as clients, and even though Rob's piece in the story is relatively small, I think I enjoyed his character the most.  He was such a gossiping old biddy, I found it really amusing!

Anyway, definitely worth a look if you are a lover of chick-lit or if you are looking for something with office intrigue.

My rating: 3 stars

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Review: "Blurring the Lines" by Mia Josephs

Synopsis from Goodreads:  Christian Meyer quit his band and checked into rehab. Only, when he checks out to start his solo career, he can’t write. At all.

Corinne’s done the hollywood, famous rockstar boyfriend thing. It ended in such a huge disaster that she ran herself out of town, despite her career as a songwriter just beginning to take off. She lives in a small cabin in the woods of Washington to keep as far away from her old life as possible.

But when Christian is desperate to start his new career, and his manager has the perfect songwriter in mind, their worlds collide.

Corinne is determined to keep her distance, it’s just collaborating for a weekend. But when Chris shows up on her doorstep weeks after their meeting and pleading for help, she can’t turn him away.

With the life she now lives and the past she’s desperate to keep buried, she’ll do everything she can to protect her heart, no matter how quickly she feels herself falling.

For the first time in his life, Chris can see himself being in love, but with a tour date looming, and Corinne terrified to move forward, they both have a long road to travel if there’s a chance of them being together.

This book received for free from "Ebooks for Review" in exchange for an honest review.


This is a book to read if you are wanting realistic characters trying to make a seemingly impossible situation work.  I enjoyed just about everything in this book, including Chris and Corrine, and I would recommend it to those searching for a light, romantic read.

Chris...sigh!  What can I say about the guy?  He's pretty awesome all around.  Not only is he great looking, he's got charisma oozing from his pores, and he can sing!  Despite all this, he's definitely not perfect.  He's a recovering alcoholic, so he's struggling with sobriety on a daily basis.  He's also starting off a solo career, but with a pretty severe case of writer's block, he's in a bit of a bind.  That's where Corrine comes in.  She's had to grow up very quickly, and while I won't get into her backstory here a whole lot, I will say that Josephs does a great job of explaining Corrine's motivations in a way that will help the reader empathize with her.  So while I sometimes got frustrated with Corrine - come on, girl, this guy is hot for you and he's awesome, go for it! - I could always understand her reason for caution.

There were times I thought the plot moved a little slowly, but by the same token I can see why the author decided to move at a slower pace.  It was nice to see that even with their obvious attraction, Chris and Corrine developed a pretty healthy friendship before deciding to progress to something more.  

There are, of course, some inevitable bumps and bruises on their road to happily ever after, but overall, I'm happy with how Chris and Corrine resolved their issues.  I look forward to reading more in this series!

My rating:

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Review: "Deep Blue" by Jules Barnard

In the Blue Series, a summer in Lake Tahoe is anything but carefree when recent college grads discover that finding real love means looking beneath the surface. When Cali Morgan kicks off her perfect post-college summer in Lake Tahoe, she has everything she ever wanted: acceptance into a top law program, a gorgeous boyfriend, and an incredible summer planned with her best friend. Confident about her place in the world, Cali makes it her mission to be her friend’s wingwoman and help her meet guys. What Cali doesn’t count on is running into Jaeger Lang, one of her older brother’s high school friends, or the sparks that fly when she’s around him. Jaeger has changed, and it’s not just the added height and muscle. There’s something about him that’s deep and a little scarred. In spite of the changes, Jaeger becomes a top pick for her friend—if Cali can keep her hands off him. But when Cali’s boyfriend dumps her and her carefully laid plans begin to unravel, she finds herself questioning what it is she truly desires. In the midst of doubts about her future, one thing is very clear: she wants Jaeger for her own. The question is, has her friend already fallen for him? Deep Blue is book #1 in the Blue Series. This New Adult book is intended for readers over the age of 18 due to adult language, sexual content, and adult situations.

This book was a colossal waste of time.  Honestly, there was nothing here for me to recommend to anybody.  The cover is pretty and I got it for free, so that's something, I suppose.  I'm not even sure why I finished it, except for by the time I realized I didn't really care about the plot or characters, I was about 70% done, so might as well see it through, right?

The writing is not great.  For example, the word hot is used 43 times, and most times not to describe the summer Lake Tahoe weather!  We also get a lot of inner monologue from Cali, the main character, and it's just so tedious!  It felt very repetitive.  Jaeger is okay, but I didn't really see what he saw in Cali.  Their relationship moved forward quite quickly (once they got past the whole "I-have-a-boyfriend-and-shouldn't-be-looking-at-him" thing, and then the "he-likes-my-best-friend" thing) which is fine when it's believable, but in this case it didn't make sense!  One minute Cali and Jaeger are friends, the next he's saying that he'll wait for her no matter what.  Like, where exactly did that come from?  I couldn't figure out where the attraction came from on his end. A couple of times Cali thinks in her head how she has nothing to offer Jaeger, and I was yelling back, "Yeah, you're right!  What do you have to offer, Cali?"

Anyway, enough Cali bashing.  The plot had some very strange, out of left field twists, and none of them were very well developed.  They were things that happened, and then were resolved (sort of), but none of these plot elements really added anything to the overall betterment of the book.  It was almost like the book was headed one direction for a while, and then someone said, "Hey, we need some more action or drama or something in here - what can we add?"  And then instead of adding maybe one thing and doing it really well, they decided to add a whole bunch of...STUFF, for lack of a better word, in the hopes of making a bigger impact.  Well, it didn't work for me. 

I wish I could say that at least this was a steamy read, but alas, I cannot tell a lie.  The sex was...underwhelming, to say the least, and almost nonexistent.  I definitely expected more in this regard.  

If you are thinking about picking up "Deep Blue", consider this fair warning.  There are so many better books out there worthy of your time, and you will be missing absolutely nothing by skipping this title.  

My rating: 2 stars

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Review: "The Silent Sister" by Diane Chamberlain

In The Silent Sister, Riley MacPherson has spent her entire life believing that her older sister Lisa committed suicide as a teenager. Now, over twenty years later, her father has passed away and she's in New Bern, North Carolina cleaning out his house when she finds evidence to the contrary. Lisa is alive. Alive and living under a new identity. But why exactly was she on the run all those years ago, and what secrets are being kept now? As Riley works to uncover the truth, her discoveries will put into question everything she thought she knew about her family. Riley must decide what the past means for her present, and what she will do with her newfound reality, in this engrossing mystery from international bestselling author Diane Chamberlain.

Thank you to Netgalley and St. Martin's Press for allowing me to read and review an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

I've heard of Diane Chamberlain and have even purchased one of her previous books, but have never read anything by her.  Now I think it's safe to say that I've found a new go-to author!  This was just the book I was needing to read right now - high on mystery and real human behaviour, low on teen angst and romance.  Not saying I don't love those latter qualities in books, just that sometimes I feel the need to switch up the pace and read something a bit more refined and mature.  Makes me feel intelligent!

I can't imagine what it would be like to be Riley.  She has an awful lot on her plate as far as organizing her father's affairs after his death.  Meeting with a lawyer, reading the will and complying with his wishes, selling the house and would all be overwhelming to me.  She's doing it all alone, too.  Her mother has already passed away, her brother Denny is an absolute mess, and she's just gone through a break up so has no spouse to help her out.  Then to top it all off, a couple that knew her father well keep dropping hints that things are not how she always believed them to be.  In Riley, Chamberlain gave me a character that I could easily empathize with.

Eventually, Riley comes to the realization that the sister she thought had committed suicide is in fact alive.  I really love how at this point, Chamberlain is able to weave Lisa's and Riley's stories together.  The author seamlessly took me into the past, when Lisa first disappeared and needed to create a new identity to stay hidden, and then back to the present where Riley was trying to piece together all the whys of Lisa's circumstance.  I had questions throughout the novel, and while the answers to these questions were revealed in the end, the uncovering was drawn out enough to keep the mystery fresh in my mind.  It made this book un-put-downable!

My rating: 4 stars

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Review: "Dare to Submit" by Carly Phillips

Decklan Dare knows about the unexpected loss of loved ones and for this reason, he values control in all areas of his life. Amanda Collins enjoys the freedom she finds in casual encounters without the emotional connection a relationship brings. They meet and their physical attraction is mutual but both experience feelings that could run deeper – if they drop their guard and let each other in. Decklan is first to trust, but when he discovers the secret Amanda’s been hiding, will he forgive? Or will he rebuild every wall before she has a chance to explain?

Thank you to Netgalley and CP Publishing for allowing me to read and review an advanced copy of this book.

Honestly, when I read the first page of this book, I cringed.  The opening scene was set in a BDSM club, and automatically I thought, "Oh great, here we go again! What was I thinking requesting this title?  I told myself no more BDSM!"  Luckily I kept reading instead of giving up after the first chapter, because I was pleasantly surprised by "Dare to Submit".  The BDSM aspect in no way took over the plot - it was part of the story, but more like a footnote.  I instead found myself completely drawn into the drama between Decklan and Amanda, eagerly anticipating each interaction rather than dreading the distasteful spankings I've witnessed in other books.

Decklan and Amanda are easy to love.  They have everything I'm looking for when I want a heartfelt, romantic read, but they've also got that spiciness that keeps it all from being a bit too PG-rated for my taste.  Decklan is masculine, but not too domineering.  He's strong, but with a dose of vulnerability on the side.  Amanda has body image issues, but instead of constantly whining about her size, she's attempting to come to peace with her body and just be happy with herself.  Her struggles only endeared me more to her!

The sincere affection and chemistry between these two characters kept me turning the pages, but the smooth and polished writing is what helped "Dare to Submit" earn a relatively high rating from me.  It also convinced me to buy the others in the series as well.  Can't wait to read more from Carly Phillips!

My rating: 4 stars

Monday, November 3, 2014

Review: "Perfect Alignment" by K.B. Alan

When Emma gets pulled over for speeding, the last thing she expects is for the cop to decide that his handcuffs would look a lot better on her than they do on his belt. Maybe her plan to own her sexuality by wearing a BDSM necklace wasn't her best idea. Then again, seeing the heat in the man's eyes as he orders her out of her car, maybe it was the best idea she's ever had. Drew can't believe the risk he takes when he makes a move on the speeder in the convertible, but she's damn near irresistible. When their encounter turns into an amazing afternoon of play, he knows he has to keep seeing her, even if it goes against all the rules he's set for himself. Neither Emma nor Drew is in the right place to start a relationship, so they agree to keep playing as long as they're having fun together. And they are having a lot of fun together, especially when Drew's best friend comes to town. Two men, one woman, and a sailboat. A recipe for pleasure, but how do Emma and Drew keep their hearts from wanting more than their practical lives are willing to deliver?
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for allowing me to read and review an ARC of this book.

A hard book for me to review. I know a lot of people will be bothered by the opening chapter, where Emma goes off with Drew for some erotic fun. That didn't bother me so much.  I just had to let myself look at this as a fantasy read, not something meant to be seen as realistic, and once I was able to get into that mindset, I could roll with what some might see as an absurd situation.

There were definitely some interesting scenarios depicted here, both with Emma and Drew and then later with Drew's friend.  Again, nothing I had a problem with, but nothing that really floated my boat, either.  Mostly I found myself getting bored.  I put this book aside a few times and had a hard time finishing it.  I think part of the problem was that I didn't really feel much emotion or love between Emma and Drew.  The author wrote about the passage of time, saying that they enjoyed dinners and movies together, but there weren't  any real details given.  A lot of tell but no show, I guess.

I also didn't understand Drew's reluctance to have a more public relationship with Emma.  I understand why he wouldn't want his work colleagues to know he was into the whole BDSM club scene, but still, taking Emma out on a real date wouldn't have revealed anything of that private side of his life.  It just seemed like a wrench thrown into the plot that didn't really need to be there.

Anyway, despite my struggles with this book, I was very happy with the resolution Drew and Emma were given at the end!

My rating: 2.5 stars

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Review: "Desired" by Stacey Kennedy

Readers of Fifty Shades of Grey are sure to love Desired, USA Today bestselling author Stacey Kennedy’s latest seductive, electrifying novel of Club Sin, where fantasy becomes reality. Kyler Morgan, Master at the legendary Club Sin in Las Vegas, knows how to give women what they want—too well. He hasn’t had a real challenge in a long time. Then Ella Snow enters his life. Beautiful, inhibited, and innocent in the ways of submission and domination, Ella is the new blood he’s been lusting after. Soon, the thrill of training her to embrace his world brings forth desires Kyler cannot control. After ending an abusive relationship, Ella makes a promise to herself to start living life to the fullest. It’s one of the reasons she seeks out Club Sin. Here, Kyler’s every touch is a lesson in liberation, stirring passions that have no bounds. But as she falls under Kyler’s command, Ella discovers that some secrets are so dark they must come to light. Submission alone may not be enough to save her, leaving her Master with only one question: How can he help Ella heal while unlocking the deep pleasures she craves? Desired is an erotic romance intended for mature audiences. Includes a special message from the editor, as well as excerpts from other Loveswept titles.
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for allowing me to read and review an ARC of this book.

So I guess now I can say I've read my first BDSM erotic romance. (Yeah, I kind of missed the Fifty Shades bandwagon - it's on my book shelf, and I do plan to finish it one day, because despite all the bad press, it is quite the phenomenon and I want to see what all the fuss is about!) Anyway, there were things I liked about "Desired", and things I didn't, so whether I'll pick up anything else in this genre remains to be seen.

First of all, Kyler.  I know he's supposed to be this incredibly sexy alpha male "dom" guy, but he kind of creeped me out.  The way he'd turn on his "dom" voice and command Ella to do things, that of course she would run and do like a good little "sub", was just a strange concept to me.  I can understand that kind of relationship in the confines of the club, while acting out a scene or whatever.  But outside, in the real, "public" world?  Creepy.  Especially for a new relationship.  

I found the writing a tad repetitive.  The overuse of the words "dom/dominant" and "sub/submissive" got on my nerves. These words were also used in weird ways, like Ella's features showed submission, or Kyler would look at Ella with dominance in his eyes.  It seemed awkward to me.

What did I like?  Surprisingly, I found the sex scenes to be fairly well done.  This was a strength of the book, in my opinion.  I also liked how the author tried to explain how a woman who had been abused in a previous relationship might want to enter into a BDSM-style relationship.  Not sure I bought it, but still, the effort was there.  

So, like I said, good and not so good.  I'm glad I read "Desired" if only to expand my horizons.  That said, I'll probably steer clear of this particular subgenre of erotica in the future, as I don't think it's really my thing.

My rating: 2.5 stars