Sunday, October 25, 2015

Review: "Trade Me" by Courtney Milan

Tina Chen just wants a degree and a job, so her parents never have to worry about making rent again. She has no time for Blake Reynolds, the sexy billionaire who stands to inherit Cyclone Technology. But when he makes an off-hand comment about what it means to be poor, she loses her cool and tells him he couldn’t last a month living her life. To her shock, Blake offers her a trade: She’ll get his income, his house, his car. In exchange, he’ll work her hours and send money home to her family. No expectations; no future obligations. But before long, they’re trading not just lives, but secrets, kisses, and heated nights together. No expectations might break Tina’s heart...but Blake’s secrets could ruin her life.
Thank you to Victory Editing via Netgalley for the free review copy in exchange for my honest opinion.

Did I like this book?

You know, the things I liked about this book, I really LOVED, but I still can't help but feel I wanted more.  

Individually, Tina and Blake are wonderful characters!  Tina's back story is truly unique, especially in the world of New Adult romances.  I loved her mother, and more specifically their relationship - it was great to see how things between them evolved throughout the book.  Likewise with Blake and his father - awesome relationship, fantastic story development, loved everything about them.  But, Tina and Blake together...I don't know.  I think there was a bit too much tell and very little show.  I just wasn't feeling the love, you know what I mean?  Their chemistry jumped off the page when it was there, but it just wasn't there often enough for me to be buying into it, if that makes any sense.  

Will you like this book?

Yeah, it's good.  Romance readers and fans of New Adult will probably enjoy this one, and similarly, if you've read and liked anything by Courtney Milan, you will definitely want to read "Trade Me", even just to see how the author crosses over genres.

Will I read more by this author?

This is my first book by Courtney Milan, and I am seriously intrigued!  She is known for writing historical romance, and although I used to read a lot in that genre, I haven't in quite a while.  Seeing that the writing and character development were real strengths of this book, I would love to give historical romance another go if only to try some of this author's earlier titles.  And, although I wasn't "shipping" "Blina" (some new book blogger lingo I'm trying out, you like?) as much as I would have liked, I'm still curious enough about the Cyclone series to give the second book, "Hold Me", a try as soon as I can get my hands on it.        

My rating:  3.5 stars

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Cover Reveal and Sneak Peek: "Don't Get Caught" by Kurt Dinan

Don’t Get Caught
Author:  Kurt Dinan
Release Date: April 1, 2015
Publishers Sourcebooks Fire

Debut author Kurt Dinan reveals the cover of Don’t Get Caught, and gives readers a first-time sneak peek:

Describe your book in 140 characters or less?

A high school nobody recruits a crew of misfits for heists and pranks to get revenge on the mysterious Chaos Club.#DontGetCaught

How did you come up with the idea for Don’t Get Caught?
Look, who hasn’t wanted to rob a bank?  Or at least hasn’t thought about it?  I can’t be the only one, right?  Right? So, I suppose Don’t Get Caught is my way of robbing a bank without risking actual jail time because, let me make this clear, I would not do well in prison.  I love capers, heists, and schemes, and while the crew in this novel aren’t robbing banks, they are satisfying my criminal thoughts by doing the teenage equivalent of bank robbery--wrecking havoc in their high school.

Tell us about the main character.
Max is a high school nobody, a kid who’s smart enough and nice enough to get by, but who doesn’t really fit in anywhere.  So basically, he’s me at sixteen.  But what Max has that I certainly didn’t have is a genius-level ability to scheme and a newly discovered gift for leading misfits.  He’s underestimated by everyone, a fact that works to his advantage when he decides it’s time to write his name in the wet cement of the universe by destroying a forty-year-old secret society.

Did your class in high school pull any memorable pranks? Or is there one you wish you had pulled?
My prank life didn’t begin until college when I helped mastermind a promotion for a fake campus concert that almost led to my arrest.  But in my final year of high school, the six-hundred members of my senior class were crowded onto bleachers for an all-class picture.  I look at that picture now and see an opportunity for chaos.  I mean, how much would it have cost to hire an airplane to drop a hundred gallons of water at the precise moment the picture was taken?  Or to organize a group of kids to all wear neon shirts and arrange themselves into something profane within the crowd?  It’s missed opportunities like this that keep me up at night.

What books formed your thinking or reflected who you were as a child and teen reader?
I read a lot of early Stephen King probably before I was old enough, and then through high school it was mostly comic books and classics.  I do specifically remember reading Helter Skelter during my junior year, dragging that non-fiction monster around with me for a month or so.  Looking back on it now, that’s probably all of the evidence needed to explain why I didn’t have a girlfriend in high school.

About Don’t Get Caught:

17-year-old Max Cobb is sick of being “Just Max”—the kind of guy whose resume boasts a measly 2.5 GPA and a deep love of heist films. So when an invitation appears in his locker to join the anonymous, untraceable, epic prank-pulling Chaos Club, Max jumps at the opportunity to leave “Just Max” in the dust.
Except that the invite is really a set-up, and Max—plus the 4 other kids who received similar invitations—are apprehended by school security for defacing the water tower.  This time, Max has had enough. Time for Heist Rule #6:

Always Get Payback.

Let the prank war begin...

About Kurt Dinan:

Kurt Dinan is a high school English teacher. He’s had several short stories published, including one in 2010’s The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy and Horror. He lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, with his wife, three young sons, and baby girl. Don’t Get Caught is his first novel.

Excerpt from Don’t Get Caught:

I may not be a fan of heights, but I especially hate ladders. I always think the rung I’m on is going to break away and send me plummeting. So climbing the water tower ladder in the dark, the rungs sticky for some reason, only worries me more. But despite that, I’d be lying if I didn’t say how awesome this was. The higher I climb, the harder my heart pounds from the adrenaline. I feel like a jewel thief scaling a skyscraper at midnight on his way to stealing the Hope Diamond.
Up ahead in the darkness, Wheeler goes into a mock newscaster’s voice announcing, “Five Asheville High School students fell to their deaths last evening when—”
“Shut up,” Malone says.
The climb takes only two minutes but feels like an hour when the ladder ends at the base of a metal grating no more than four feet wide. If a strong wind blows, a waist-high railing is all that’s there to keep me from hurtling to my death.
“Wow, this is higher than I thought,” Ellie says, looking out over the lights of the town.
Malone, recording everything with her phone, says, “I wish I had my climbing gear. I’d love to repel off this.”
“What was it Jesus said, Ellie?” Wheeler says. “‘I think I can see my house from up here’?”
And me, I want down. And not just down, but to roll in the grass and kiss the earth. Then, as I’m about to wuss out, Ellie’s hand is in mine and she’s leading me along the platform.
“Come on,” she says. “Let’s look for the next clue.”
Her hand is soft and warm, and if the platform gives away right now, I can die a happy man.
“You get to open the next envelope if there is one,” Ellie says. “Or maybe it’ll be like in the movies, and there’ll be a cell phone that rings and—”
My foot kicks something metal sending it clanking and skittering across the platform before dropping into the night.
From the other side of the tower Malone says, “What was that?”
I look down at my feet and see four more of what I’ve just booted—spray paint cans.
And in one horrifying moment, I realize why the rungs were sticky when we climbed.
Red paint covers my hands.
Oh shit.
I lean back for a better view of the water tower to see what’s been spray-painted there. The wet paint trails down from certain letters like red teardrops.
Double shit.
Heist Rule #5: When in doubt, run.
But we don’t get that chance.
Suddenly, the water tower lights blaze to life illuminating the newly painted message for the entire town to see.
Assville High School, Home of the Golden Showers.
Both Malone and Wheeler say, “Shit.”
Ellie says, “Wow.”
Adleta says nothing.
And then a voice booms from a bullhorn below where red-and-blue lights flash in the parking lot.
“This is the police. Come down immediately.”
So much for Don’t get caught.

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Monday, October 19, 2015

Spotlight Tour and Giveaway: "Stirring Up Trouble" by Andrea Laurence

 I really enjoyed the first book in this series, and this one sounds just as good!

Book Information

Title: Stirring Up Trouble
Author: Andrea Laurence
Release Date: October 12, 2015
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Genre: Contemporary Romance


When a prim and proper baker and a laid-back bartender have a neighborly disagreement that gets them both in trouble with the law, a sweet reconciliation is stirred up in the playful third romance in Andrea Laurence’s sexy Rosewood series.

Maddie’s life is perfectly sweet. Her bakery’s tasty treats are rising to the top of every must-have list in town, and her commute is just a block away by foot. She loves everything about her little downtown Victorian bungalow—except for her unbearably noisy neighbor, Woody’s. The bar’s obnoxious and sexy owner, Emmett, seems to live to aggravate Maddie. But he mostly thinks she could use a stiff drink to dislodge the stick up her ass. He’s just trying to run his business. Bars stay open late, they play music, they serve alcohol. If she doesn’t like it, why did she buy a house across the street?

When Maddie and Emmett’s battle lands them in front of the local judge, they’re ordered to do several weeks of community service cleaning parks and painting over graffiti. As they scrub away the latest works of art by the town’s anonymous “Penis Picasso,” the baker and the bartender slowly begin to see there’s more to each other than meets the eye. So what happens if they wave the white flag and surrender into each other’s arms?
Buy Links

Barnes and Noble:

Author Biography

Andrea Laurence has been a lover of reading and writing stories since she learned to read at a young age. She always dreamed of seeing her work in print and is thrilled to finally be able to share her special blend of sensuality and dry, sarcastic humor with the world. A dedicated West Coast girl transplanted into the Deep South, she's working on her own "happily ever after" with her boyfriend and their collection of animals including a Siberian Husky that sheds like nobody's business.

Social Networking Links


Message From the Author:

Hey everyone. I’m excited to be here today to tell you about my latest sassy, sexy Rosewood romance – Stirring Up Trouble. This is the third book in the series, featuring the great characters you’ve grown to love and a few you’ve grown to hate. This book features Chamberlain sister and prissy princess, Maddie. She’s purchased an old Victorian home across the street from the town bar, owned by laid back bartender, Emmett Sawyer. These two couldn’t be more different, from the hours they keep, to their ideas of a good time, but sometimes opposites attract and for these two, it’s explosive. But first, they’ve got to stop trying to make each other miserable and that’s going to require the help of the town judge, some sweet treats and the infamous town vandal, the Penis Picasso. Here with me today are Maddie and Emmett. We’ve asked them what sweet treat or frosty drink reminds them of one another, so I’m going to turn it over to them!

Maddie: It just so happens that it’s also Emmett’s favorite treat, but I’d say he’s one of my homemade MoonPies. Now, for those of you who’ve had a MoonPie, they don’t look like much of a gourmet treat on the outside and frankly the ones you get at the gas station really aren’t. They’ve got a reputation as being a little country - but like Emmett - looks can be deceiving and the MoonPies I make in the shop have so many layers of surprising, refined flavors. They’re made with homemade marshmallow cream, sandwiched between freshly baked gingersnap cookies. Then I dip them in a dark chocolate ganache and sprinkle the edges with some crushed, candied pecans. They’re a little spicy and very sweet, just like Emmett. I just can’t get enough of him.

Emmett: Hey, folks. So, if I had to sum up Fancy in a drink... she would be imported French Champagne. The good stuff, not some knockoff sparkling wine. She would be a little sweet, a little dry. If you’re not used to her, she can give you a headache. Some people thinks she’s too fancy for everyday consumption, but once you’ve tasted her, nothing else quite measures up. That’s my Maddie in a glass.

Stirring Up Trouble Excerpt

“You know, Fancy Pants, that’s your problem.”

Her eyes widened as he used his new favorite nickname for her. He didn’t know why it would offend her. She was a fancy pants, through and through. “I don’t have a problem.”

“Yes, you do. You think you’re so much better than everyone else, but you’re not. So what? You studied in Paris. Estelle was a self-taught baker using her grandmother’s recipes, and her chocolate chip cookies were better than yours.”

Maddie gasped. “My chocolate chip cookies are made with vanilla beans from Madagascar and chopped milk and dark chocolate from Switzerland!”

“It’s a cookie, not a piece of art that needs provenance to display in a gallery. Some people just want what’s familiar. Nobody’s grandma used vanilla beans from Madagascar. Importing all that fancy stuff might make you feel special, but it doesn’t make you better. Frankly, I think it would hurt your bottom line. You think you’re going to pay back your daddy for this place while you blow money on embossed pink pastry boxes and imported chocolate? This isn’t a patisserie on the Champs-Élysées, Fancy Pants. You might think it sets you apart, but to be successful, you need to know your customer. People around here don’t care where Madagascar is, much less if that’s where your vanilla comes from.”

“People want high-quality products, and that’s what I’m going to give them. My clientele is a little more sophisticated than yours. I suppose you’re well versed in your customers and what they want, right? Beer and football.”

“Damn right, and that’s what I give them.” Emmett turned to face her and leaned down so she heard every word he said. “They want a place to relax and unwind. They want to watch sports and listen to music. You might think that I started bringing those bands in just to keep you up at night, but you’re giving yourself a little too much real estate in my brain, Fancy. It doesn’t have anything to do with you. You’re just an unwelcome distraction.”

Maddie looked up at him, her full bottom lip trembling slightly as he railed at her. “Earlier you said I was beautiful—a sadist—but beautiful. Am I distracting because I drive you crazy or because I’m beautiful?” she asked in a breathy voice that made his chest and his pants tighten at the same time.

Those pouty lips made him want to run the pad of his thumb across them and kiss away her frown. It was a ridiculously unhelpful thought, but like he’d said, she was a distraction in a variety of ways. He wished she wasn’t so attractive because that just crossed the wires in his brain. He’d much prefer her outsides matched her annoying insides, then it would be easy to ignore her.

She had the shiniest hair he’d ever seen. It was always up in a ponytail or a bun, which was a shame because it was like shimmering chestnut silk. He wanted to know what it would look like if it fell free around her shoulders. He wondered how it’d feel to run his fingers through it. Her skin was like porcelain and her eyes like the shells of a robin’s egg. Maddie’s every feature was delicate and feminine, rousing a protective nature in him he wasn’t used to.

And then she opened her mouth and ruined everything.

“Both,” he said.

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Friday, October 16, 2015

Review: "Just A Little Flirt" by Renita Pizzitola

Saying yes has always come easy for Fallon. Now, in Renita Pizzitola’s steamy, poignant new novel, winning her dream job means saying no to the guy she wants the most. Between all the parties and random hook-ups, Fallon Carr is this close to flunking out of college. But her internship working with pediatric patients means the world to her—especially since, at the end of the summer, one lucky intern will be offered a paid position. Determined to leave her bad reputation behind, Fallon even takes a bet that she won’t sleep with anyone from work. But there’s one little catch. . . . Not only is Cade Ryan the hottest guy Fallon has ever laid eyes on, he’s a therapy dog handler who volunteers his time to visit kids at the hospital. So when he starts pursuing her, Fallon can’t believe her bad timing. The thing is, Cade is different. He’s not like the college guys who see her as a one-night stand, or the high-school boyfriend who took a part of her she can never get back. Cade genuinely wants to spend time with her—and not just between the sheets. Fallon won’t let her growing feelings for Cade get in the way of her dreams. Besides, no guy can break down the walls she put up long ago. So what’s the harm in a little flirting? It’s not like she’s falling in love. But she may have seriously underestimated how complicated things can get when the perfect guy falls for her first.

Thank you to Random House Publishing Group - Loveswept via Netgalley for the free review copy in exchange for my honest opinion.

Did I like this book?

You know, I'm glad I gave this author another chance, because I really liked this book!  And yes, that sentence deserves an exclamation mark because I am really surprised by that fact!  After finishing the first in this series, "Just A Little Kiss", I didn't think I would read another Pizzitola book - that one was not bad, but it definitely didn't blow me away either.  The characters were stereotypical New Adult cliches, and I wasn't about to seek out another book in the same grain.

Colour me surprised to find that all the problems I had with "Just a Little Kiss" were completely eradicated with "Just a Little Flirt"!  It was like someone actually read my mind and said, "You know what?  We don't need another cocky, king-of-the-one-night-stand type of guy wooing the innocent virgin only to find himself falling helplessly in love with her and committing to her for life.  That storyline has been beaten to death in recent history, let's try something new and fresh!"  Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for finally giving this reader what I've been asking for!!!

Anyhoo, now that I've expressed my happiness over the storyline, I need to gush a bit over the characters, especially one Mr. Cade Ryan.  Seriously, this guy is perfection on a stick - I fell for him like one of those monkeys jumping on the bed.  (Can you tell my daughter just entered kindergarten?)  He is just...gah, I don't even know!  I just loved how he was so nonjudgmental about Fallon's past, and understanding of her various hang ups.  Truly a great guy!  

And Fallon?  She's pretty cool.  Despite her reckless behaviour, her heart is in the right place, and I really enjoyed the growth of her character throughout the book.

Will you like this book?

If you are searching for a quick, sweet, not-so-typical New Adult read, I'd say give this one a go!

Will I read more by this author?

My opinion has been effectively changed with "Just a Little Flirt"!  I am now eagerly anticipating the next in this series by Pizzitola.

My rating:  3.5 stars

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Review: "Angelfall" by Susan Ee

It's been six weeks since angels of the apocalypse descended to demolish the modern world. Street gangs rule the day while fear and superstition rule the night. When warrior angels fly away with a helpless little girl, her seventeen-year-old sister Penryn will do anything to get her back. Anything, including making a deal with an enemy angel. Raffe is a warrior who lies broken and wingless on the street. After eons of fighting his own battles, he finds himself being rescued from a desperate situation by a half-starved teenage girl. Traveling through a dark and twisted Northern California, they have only each other to rely on for survival. Together, they journey toward the angels' stronghold in San Francisco where she'll risk everything to rescue her sister and he'll put himself at the mercy of his greatest enemies for the chance to be made whole again.

Thanks to Amazon Children's Publishing via Netgalley for the free review copy in exchange for my honest opinion.

Did I like this book?

Holy crap, this book was just so much fun!  So much action!  I loved the pacing - there was never a dull moment.  I loved Penryn - she was so loyal and brave, and able to kick some serious angel butt!  And Raffe?  He's a bit harder to get a read on, but he's surprisingly funny and sarcastic for an otherworldly being - I ended up really liking his character.  

I'm having a hard time thinking of anything I would change about "Angelfall", but I suppose if I were to offer any constructive criticism, it would be to include more information about the angels themselves.  For example, how do you kill an angel?  If you shoot an angel, does the angel die?  Aren't they immortal?  And if not, why didn't the Americans just shoot them out of the sky from the get go?  I'm not too worried about not getting answers to these questions yet, however.  As "Angelfall" is the first in a series, I'm assuming I'll get answers to these and other questions in the subsequent books.

Will you like this book?

Oh yeah!  I would recommend "Angelfall" to anyone looking for an action-packed, survival-of-the-fittest YA adventure.

Will I read more by this author?

Absolutely!  In fact, I just picked up the next in this series, "World After", from the library today.  I just couldn't wait to continue reading about Penryn and Raffe!

My rating:

Monday, October 12, 2015

Review: "Kissing Ted Callahan (and Other Guys)" by Amy Spalding

Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist meets Easy A in this hilariously realistic story of sneaking out, making out, and playing in a band. After catching their bandmates in a compromising position, sixteen-year-old Los Angelenos Riley and Reid become painfully aware of the romance missing from their own lives. And so a pact is formed: they'll both try to make something happen with their respective crushes and document the experiences in a shared notebook. While Reid struggles with the moral dilemma of adopting a dog to win over someone's heart, Riley tries to make progress with Ted Callahan, who she's been obsessed with forever-His floppy hair! His undeniable intelligence! But suddenly cute guys are popping up everywhere. How did she never notice them before?! With their love lives going from 0 to 60 in the blink of an eye, Riley and Reid realize the results of their pact may be more than they bargained for.
My thanks to Little, Brown Books for Young Readers via Netgalley for the free review copy in exchange for my honest opinion.

Did I like this book?

This book was pretty cute, and that's a good thing, but I don't think it was exactly my cup of tea.  The writing style felt juvenile to me, and the narration became annoying after Riley spoke in all caps the first ten or so times.  I was expecting a bunch of laugh-out-loud moments, but I didn't find "Kissing Ted" to be all that funny.  Most of the instances where I probably should have laughed just seemed silly.  All I can conclude is that I'm too old to appreciate this type of young adult read.

I did, however, enjoy the fact that Riley and her friends are all somewhat unique. Riley herself is not exactly  academically inclined, but she's passionate about music and her band.  Her friend, Reid, is ridiculously insecure and quite shy around every girl aside from his band mates, which is refreshing to see and, in my opinion, very realistic.  The tension between Riley and her best friend, Lucy, also struck a chord with me.  I remember all too clearly what it was like to be the one left behind by my boyfriend-wielding friends!  You can still be friends, but it never really feels the same as PB (pre-boyfriend), does it?  

I also enjoyed watching Riley get to know some other boys.  Milo and Garrick were great, in their own ways, and it was fun to see Riley work out the pros and cons of her relationships with them.  And really, isn't that a realistic part of growing up, too?  Not always (or even ever) are you going to find your soulmate in your first boyfriend, but that's exactly what all these YA romances expect us to believe. Sometimes a guy is great in every way, but there's just no chemistry, or there's plenty of chemistry, but something else is off.  It's nice to see a book that recognizes that fact and forgoes the instalove that is all too prevalent in this genre.

Will you like this book?

This book reads a lot like how I imagine a teenage diary would read.  If the thought of that appeals to you on any level, definitely give it a shot.  If, however, you wrote your own diary as a teenager and the thought of reading it now makes you cringe, then I suggest you say, "Been there, done that!" and call it a day.

Will I read more by this author? 

Um, probably not, although I wouldn't rule it out completely.  I think I would be more tempted to try this author again if she wrote something geared toward adults.

My rating: