Source: From the author


The Boyfriend Swap by Meredith Schorr | Book Review

December 4, 2017 Adult Fiction, Book Review 1 ★★★

The Boyfriend Swap by Meredith Schorr | Book ReviewThe Boyfriend Swap by Meredith Schorr
Published by Henery Press on November 7, 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary Romance, Holiday, Romance
Pages: 288
Format: ARC
Source: From the author
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3 Stars
Is Christmas really the most wonderful time of the year? New Yorkers Robyn Lane and Sidney Bellows aren’t so sure.

Robyn has always dated struggling creative types. For once, her parents would love her to bring someone with health insurance and a 401(k) to their Chrismukkah celebration. Her actor boyfriend doesn’t qualify. While across town, Sidney’s professional life already belongs to her parents. She’s an attorney at her father’s law firm and she works tirelessly to keep her love life private. If she brings her lawyer boyfriend to their annual Christmas extravaganza, her parents will have the wedding planned by New Year’s Eve.

A mutual friend playfully suggests they trade boyfriends for the holidays. The women share a laugh, but after copious amounts of wine, decide The Boyfriend Swap could be the perfect solution. This way, Robyn can show off her stable attorney boyfriend and Sidney’s high-society family will take no interest in her flakey actor beau.

It’s a brilliant plan—in theory. In practice—not so much. When Will turns out to be the boy-next-door Robyn crushed on hard throughout her teenage years, and Sidney’s family fawns all over Perry like he’s an Oscar-winner rather than a D-list wannabe, one thing is certain: The Boyfriend Swap might just change their lives forever.

The Proposal and The Holiday are two of my favorite movies ever, so I was really excited to read Christmas romance that was pitched to me as a combination of both. I think this comparison made me expect too much, though. And that’s nothing against the book, I just think I was wanting a Cameron Diaz and Jude Law kind of romance with the Kate Winslet and Jack Black kind of swoon. All things aside, The Boyfriend Swap had many cute moments, and it was fluffy which is always nice. I do wish there had been more Christmas in it, but I am the queen of Hallmark Christmas movies, so…

Robyn’s boyfriend Perry is described as a “D-list wannabe” actor. He’s a guy that Robyn cannot possibly bring home to her family, so she brings home Sidney’s lawyer boy toy of a boyfriend, Will, to get her family off her back. But… this guy ends up being Robyn’s lifelong crush. I really love the friends to lovers trope as well as the fauxmance trope, so I was definitely curious to see a combination of the two and how that would play out. I really liked both of them, particularly Will, and I think they’re very cute together. I enjoyed reading about their growing up years and the awkward memories they shared. They were definitely the highlight of the book for me.

Perry and Sidney, on the other hand, were a train wreck. In the book’s defense, though, I think they were supposed to be. This couple was so poorly mismatched. Perry is an egotistical jerk and Sidney is unlikeable. However, they were both using each other so I didn’t even feel bad for them. Perry was using Sidney for her father’s show business connections as much as she was using him for his irritating personality.

The Boyfriend Swap is funny. I enjoyed the banter between the characters, and I enjoyed the deeper issues I got to watch them all work through. Everyone learned something, and I’d like to think that everyone came away a better person for it.

So why the low rating? Honestly, I think everything was tainted by the storyline. Both Robyn and Sidney were dating men they were embarrassed by. Even worse, Will and Perry were ok with it and went along with the plan to swap boyfriends during the time of year when you should want to be with those you care about. Even worse than that, one of the guys decided to fall in love with a girl who chose to lie to her entire family about who her boyfriend really was because she was ashamed of him. I would not want to be with someone who thought that kind of deception was ok, even if I was the tool they used to lie to their family with and not the actual person they were ashamed of. Does that make sense? But then again, that guy was dating someone just for the physical relationship and not the connection, so perhaps they’re made for each other. It just felt like a very immature storyline to me, and not very romantic.

This is definitely a case of the “it’s not the book, it’s me” syndrome. The writing is great. The humor is great. The characters were all dynamic and well developed. The story was unique and well thought out, it just wasn’t built upon a foundation that I agreed with. I really wish we had just gotten the basic second chance romance between old friends with Will and Robyn, and that Perry and Sidney and the swapping were left out. But I guess that takes away the uniqueness. I would have still eaten it up, though.

All in all, The Boyfriend Swap had enough cute elements and swoons that I am curious about some of Meredith’s other books, and look forward to picking up Blogger Girl sometime soon.


Persephone by Kaitlin Bevis | Book Review

September 14, 2017 Book Review, Young Adult 9 ★★★★★

Persephone by Kaitlin Bevis | Book ReviewPersephone by Kaitlin Bevis
Series: Daughters of Zeus #1
Published by Musa Publishing on July 6, 2012
Genres: Fantasy, Mythology, Retelling
Pages: 237
Format: eBook
Source: From the author
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5 Stars
There are worse things than death, worse people too

The “talk” was bad enough, but how many teens get told that they’re a goddess? When her mom tells her, Persephone is sure her mother has lost her mind. It isn’t until Boreas, the god of winter, tries to abduct her that she realizes her mother was telling the truth. Hades rescues her, and in order to safely bring Persephone to the Underworld he marks her as his bride. But Boreas will stop at nothing to get Persephone. Despite her growing feelings for Hades, Persephone wants to return to the living realm. Persephone must find a way to defeat Boreas and reclaim her life.

I love the Greek myth of Persephone, and I really enjoyed this book. If you’re curious about the myth, I explain it right here. Anyway, my main points are bolded. :)

1. This story is so unique! Katilin Bevis really made it her own. Persephone ends up in the Underworld for a completely different reason, in a completely different way, and under different conditions. The story stays true to many aspects of the original myth, but I loved the spin Kaitlin put on her version.

2. I really liked Persephone. She’s a fun character who is reasonably blindsided when she finds out she’s a goddess, and her best friend is actually her priestess. And then when Boreas comes after her and she ends up hiding out in the Underworld with Hades and all the souls, she adapts pretty well! She’s pretty headstrong and spunky, and I liked that about her. I enjoyed watching her learn and change as she came into her own powers at the goddess of spring.

3. Hades is swoony! And honestly, I never thought I’d say that. He’s dark and sensitive, and he loves his library. My kind of guy. He is in charge of helping the souls transition from life to death, and his concern for them is so sweet. I also loved his concern for Persephone. She ended up there with him because he saved her, not because he kidnapped her like the original story goes. This gave the author a lot more to work with, and enabled her to write Hades as a good person. I was pleasantly surprised.

4. The Underworld is amazing. It’s light and beautiful, full of flowers and trees and rivers. The suburbs have cute little colorful houses, they have balls and parties, and people work because they love what they do and not because they have to. If you want a cute outfit, you imagine it and it’s yours. I loved reading about how Persephone decorated her room in the palace there. All she had to do was think about what she wanted, and it was so. She even chose the scenery outside her window. It’s a magical place, and I’d love to see it!

5. One of my favorite twists to the story is the fact that Gods can’t lie. They just can’t. If they say they won’t tell someone something, they are physically incapable of doing so. That created a lot of fun and crazy story lines.

6. Persephone and Hades are very cute together, despite the age difference. At times I saw him as a mentor, and at times I saw him as a love interest. I loved watching their friendship grow.

7. The story is written very well, and there’s a lot going on. I enjoyed Kaitlin’s writing style and her descriptions of the world and the powers these gods possess.

8. That ending. Holy moly! It was amazing! I can’t wait to get my hands on the next book!

Persephone might just be my new favorite version of Persephone. Haha. (I wish the title were a little more creative, though! Talking about this book is tricky because you have to differentiate between the myth, the book, and the character.) It’s fresh, it’s unique, it’s suspenseful, and a lot of unexpected and exciting things happen that will leave you craving the next book.

This review was originally posted on September 12, 2013 and is being re-featured.

 


Heart-Shaped Hack by Tracey Garvis-Graves | Book Review

September 21, 2015 Adult Fiction, Book Review 1 ★★★★

Heart-Shaped Hack by Tracey Garvis-Graves | Book ReviewHeart-Shaped Hack by Tracey Garvis Graves
Series: Kate and Ian #1
Published by Self on August 25, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 277
Format: eARC
Source: From the author
Amazon Add to Goodreads
4 Stars
When Kate Watts abandoned her law career to open a food pantry in Northeast Minneapolis, she never dreamed it would be this difficult. Facing the heartbreaking prospect of turning hungry people away, she is grateful for the anonymous donations that begin appearing at the end of each month. Determined to identify and thank her secret benefactor, she launches a plan and catches Ian —a charismatic hacker with a Robin Hood complex—in the act.

Ian intrigues Kate in a way no man ever has. But after learning he’s snooped around on her personal computer, she demands retribution. Impressed with her tolerance and captivated by her spirit, he complies and begins to slowly charm his way past her defenses. Time spent with Ian is never boring, and Kate soon finds herself falling for the mysterious hacker.

But Ian has enemies and they’re growing restless. In the hacking world, exploiting a target’s weakness is paramount, and no price is too high to stop an attack. And when Kate learns exactly how much Ian has paid, she’ll discover just how strong her love is for the man who has hacked his way into her heart.

There’s never been a question about my love for Tracey Garvis-Graves’s books. I will always read anything she writes because she grabs you immediately, immerses you in a story with wonderful characters, and leaves you wishing she would write you a book every week. Heart-Shaped Hack is another title I’m adding to my list of reasons to love Tracey. As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. Tracey likes to be unique. Every book she has ever written has never been written before. She keeps throwing in elements that make the story fresh, and I love that. Our main guy, Ian, is a computer hacker philanthropist. He’s basically Robin Hood. Can’t say I’ve ever read a book about a guy like him, and I’m pretty sure that if I did I would not like it as much.

2. Ian’s snark is probably my favorite thing about the entire book. He is blunt and cocky and has absolutely no filter. Everything in his life is gray. There’s no black or white, wrong or right. Everything is just Ian. He dissolves boundaries and can charm his way into anything. He finds Kate several times because he hacks into her credit card history to discover where she is. And then he goes there. And then he tells her how he found her. And he’s so charming and sexy that it doesn’t even matter that he’s spying on her! As much as he likes her, he turns their relationship into something SHE has to work for. Not only did he capture her heart against her will, he made her pursue him! This guy is something. And the master of the swoons.

3. Kate reminds me of myself. She’s following her dreams and living a relatively simple, quiet, almost cautious life. She cares a lot about helping others and making a difference in the world. I liked that Ian bugged the crap out of her in the beginning. She rolled her eyes at him and threw his cockiness back in his face countless numbers of times, and the banter that ensued had me giggling and turning the pages as quickly as I could.

4. Ian challenges Kate to break down walls and take risks, and Kate challenges Ian to be open and caring. These two are great together!

5. A hacker’s life is a dangerous life, and Ian’s attachments to Kate (and his desire to stay in one place for too long) bring with them a scary situation that nobody anticipated. I loved the mystery and the danger surrounding this part of the story, even though my heart is a little worse for wear as a result.

6. I feel like this book was really well researched! Garvis-Graves does a great job of portraying the life of a hacker.

7. The writing style is, as always with Tracey, amazing! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. She knows how to grab you immediately and never let go. And, even though I read an ARC, I did not find one typo or grammatical error. I noticed the same thing when I read her self-published On the Island back in the day. Tracey pays attention to every detail, and that’s why her stories are perfect. She’s just that good!

8. There were more sexytimes than I’m used to with her books, but I can kind of see why that was necessary for these particular characters. I wish there had been a little less, though, because I was blushing way too much!!

I can’t wait for the sequel, White-Hot Hack, which I know I’ll be bugging Tracey about over the next few months. I’m excited to see where Ian and Kate go from here! I still stand by my bold proclamation that I will read anything Tracey ever writes. Definitely give this book a shot if you like words.


Of Sea and Stone by Kate Avery Ellison | Book Review + Giveaway

February 12, 2015 Blog Tour, Book Review, Giveaway, Young Adult 5 ★★★★★

Of Sea and Stone by Kate Avery Ellison | Book Review + Giveaway

Of Sea and Stone by Kate Avery Ellison | Book Review + GiveawayOf Sea and Stone by Kate Avery Ellison
Series: Secrets of Itlantis #1
Published by Self on February 2, 2014
Pages: 260
Format: eBook
Source: From the author
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5 Stars
All her life, clever Aemi has been a slave in the Village of the Rocks, a place where the sea and sky meet. She’s heard the stories about the fabled People of the Sea, a people who possess unimaginable technology who live below the waves in the dark, secret places of the ocean. But she never dreamed those stories were true.

When a ship emerges from the ocean and men burn her village, Aemi is captured, and enslaved below the waves in Itlantis, a world filled with ancient cities of glass and metal, floating gardens, and wondrous devices that seem to work magic. To make matters worse, her village nemesis, the stuck-up mayor’s son Nol, was captured with her, and they are made servants in the same household beneath the sea.

Desperate to be free, Aemi plots her escape, even going so far as to work with Nol. But the sea holds more secrets than she realizes, and escape might not be as simple as leaving...

I love everything Kate has written, so I was very eager and excited to read Of Sea and Stone. I’m happy to report that I’m still a Kate Avery Ellison fangirl, and absolutely loved Of Sea and Stone! As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. I love the world of Itlantis. It’s beautiful! There are different underwater cities spread across the ocean, each one special in its own way. Aemi has been captured from her village at the surface and taken to the city of Celestrus. This city has, what I can only describe to be, glass spheres that are suspended in the water. Each sphere is a library dedicated to each of the different cities of Itlantis. You can see sea life swimming by and light from the surface dancing. The libraries are filled with books, foliage, sculpture, fountains, and walkways. I’d LOVE to visit!

2. Kate’s writing is so beautiful. She describes things as if you were right there! I kept wanting to highlight all the descriptive passages because I loved them so much.

3. I really liked Aemi. She’s strong, versatile, brave, smart, and level-headed. She takes her kidnapping very well. Haha. She adapts well to her new home, but she’s got plans to escape. She’s assertive and makes people fall for her, whether it be in love or in friendship.

4. Nol is pretty swoony. In the beginning he was a very cocky, jerky guy who Aemi loved to hate. But they are the only survivors (that we know of) from their village, so they learn to work together. And I loved watching him grow from such a jerk to such a caring, selfless person.

5. There’s a little mystery, a little romance, and even some action! It’s the perfect blend of everything I love.

6. Holy cliffhanger. I can’t WAIT to buy the second book!

All in all, Of Sea and Stone pulled me out of a deep reading slump. I loved everything about it, and I love Kate’s storytelling and writing style. This is a wonderful fantasy/dystopia, and I’d recommend it to anyone and everyone!


Here’s a special giveaway of another one of Kate’s books! You know you want it!

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Monarch by Belle Whittington | Mini Book Review + Giveaway

October 20, 2014 Blog Tour, Book Review, Giveaway, Young Adult 1 ★★★★

Monarch by Belle Whittington | Mini Book Review + GiveawayMonarch by Belle Whittington
Series: Cicada #3
Also in this series: Cicada, Firefly
Published by Self on October 1, 2014
Genres: Romance, Science Fiction
Pages: 493
Format: eBook
Source: From the author
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4 Stars
Blair Reynolds was born to rule. Worlds, that is. Destined to reign over an ancient intergalactic race, it may seem her fate is written in the stars. But she’s willing to risk it all for another chance to spend forever with her true love – even if it means traveling through time and space to the other side of the universe.

As far as Ash is concerned, Blair's happily-ever-after involves him, not the mere mortal with whom she seems so infatuated. She was bequeathed to him by her father, and Ash will go to any lengths to keep Blair and her true love apart.

And Ash isn’t the only one.

Deep in the jungles of Brazil, where tribal drums call to Blair and her true love, other forces carry out dangerous secret plans.

However, Blair has secrets of her own … secrets so lethal she dares not even remember them.

Secrets so painful they could ruin everything.

Because some secrets kill.

I really loved Cicada (my review) and Firefly (my review) and was on the blog tours for both of those books, so I was very excited to be given the opportunity to be on the last blog tour for this last book in the trilogy. I’m feeling nostalgic! Monarch is a bit of a hard book to review, just because I feel like the things I loved about this book are the same things I loved about the first two. Plus, I don’t want to give anything away!

Monarch is probably the most exciting book in the trilogy, as things are getting real and intense. Decisions and sacrifices have to be made. Blair is discovering herself more and more (and getting more comfortable with who she is), and learning about how all the various, seemingly unrelated puzzle pieces in her life fit together into one big revelation of a puzzle. I love how Belle pieced all these details together. I had a lot of “ah ha!” moments. I also had a lot of “YES! I KNEW it!” moments. It was exciting to finally be in the know, as the first two books were mysterious and left me with a lot of questions.

In Monarch Blair, Andrew, and Everett leave their home, possibly forever, and travel to Brazil. The tribal drums are calling her, and it’s time for Blair to return to her alien people as their queen. She ditches Andrew and Everett at a bus station, fearing their safety, and takes to the jungles alone. Did she really think they would not search for her, though? Blair soon learns she is being hunted. She is forced to awaken her Royal Guard from a centuries-long slumber, and the fight between sides and loyalties begins. Blair must choose between her true love from her human life, her true love from her alien life, and the man who was promised her hand in marriage by her father. She also has to figure out how to survive it all.

I was so happy to see Andrew again. I love her big brother, and his loyalty to her. I was happy to see swoony Everett again. He’s not as nerdy as he once was! We don’t see as much of them as we do Blair, though. We spend a lot of time with her hiding out in the jungle and remembering things from her former life. She makes a lot of discoveries about herself and who she used to be. She learns more about who Ash really is. This is a very enlightening experience for Blair and the reader, but I found things to move a bit slowly at times. Because she was alone we did not get much dialog for a while, and I missed that interaction. Things did pick up, though, and then it was non-stop action and suspense. I loved watching everything unfold. I LOVE Blair’s Royal Guard. Each member has this incredible loyalty and amazing personality. Xi is my favorite, and I saw his as almost a father figure for Blair.

I’ve always loved Belle’s writing, and I still do. She paints such immaculate pictures with her words, and made the jungle come alive in my mind’s eye. She wrote such detailed descriptions of the Royal Guard and what they look like and their apparel. She brought everyone’s emotions to life and I felt their loyalty and love for one another. I felt the aching love between Blair and Everett as well. Theirs is a very special and unique love story. I have become so invested in all of these characters, even the ones I just met in this book. That’s the sign of a truly wonderful author. I loved how the story wrapped up, and am sad to see it end at the same time. I hope Belle continues to write more!

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Every Time I Think of You by Tracey Garvis-Graves | Book Review

September 9, 2014 Adult Fiction, Book Review 3 ★★★★★

Every Time I Think of You by Tracey Garvis-Graves | Book ReviewEvery Time I Think of You by Tracey Garvis Graves
Published by Self on September 16, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery, Romance, Suspense, Thriller
Pages: 360
Format: eARC
Source: From the author
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5 Stars
Thirty-year-old Daisy DiStefano has two people she holds dear: the grandmother who raised her, and her three-year-old son, Elliott. But when Daisy’s grandmother is killed in a seemingly random act of violence, Daisy must take steps to protect herself and her child.

Despite a thriving career in San Francisco, thirty-six-year-old Brooks McClain has returned home to spend what little time his mother has left before she succumbs to the deadly disease that is ravaging her. The seasoned investigative reporter has taken a position with the local newspaper and been on the job less than twenty-four hours when he’s summoned to cover the death of Pauline Thorpe.

Brooks is all business, but the more time he spends with Daisy DiStefano, the more invested he becomes; there’s something about a single mother, a defenseless child, and an unsolved crime that has stirred Brooks’s protective instincts like nothing ever has before.

And when the unthinkable happens, Brooks will do whatever it takes to clear the name of the woman he’s fallen for and the child he’ll protect at any cost.

Romantic and suspenseful, Every Time I Think of You shows how far two people will go to fight for the ones they love, and the life they’ve always imagined.

I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again. I will read anything Tracey writes, and I was extremely excited when I heard she was writing a romantic suspense novel! As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. I think I’ve mentioned this point in every review I’ve written for Tracey’s books, but I just love her characters. She is so good at writing about people you can find common ground with. I’ve never been in Daisy’s position. I’m not a single mom, I did not go through a nasty divorce, nobody in my family has been murdered, and I have never been as alone as she has. But I could still identify with her feelings of inadequacy, her worry that she had failed, her concerns for the future, and her desire to tear down the walls she has built around herself.

Likewise, I have never been in Brook’s situation. I’ve never had to give up a career to move home and take care of my parents, I do not have an immediate family member battling a tragic disease, and I never tried my hardest to get out of the town I grew up in. But I identified with his deep love for his family, his worries that he was not strong enough to go through things that were thrown his way, and his fears for the future as well. Tracey writes characters you become invested in and care about. You can tell these people are real to her, and she cares for them too. We learn so much about both Daisy’s and Brooks’s pasts, and I think that is just one of the many reasons readers will care about them.

2. I really enjoyed the realistic timeline of Daisy and Brooks’s relationship. It began as a simple reporter/victim relationship, but turned into Brooks worrying about her safety, into Brooks caring about her happiness, into Daisy recognizing how nice it is to have him around, into friendship, until it finally blossomed into something that seemed sweet and meaningful. Everything developed out of a mutual, supportive friendship and genuine need of one another. You feel like they have a chance.

3. I also enjoyed how Daisy and Brooks handled their feelings. Regardless of how they felt about each other, their families came first. Daisy was constantly putting the needs of Elliot ahead of her own, and Brooks did everything in his power to help his dad and comfort his mom through her illness. It was so refreshing to read about a mature, adult relationship that was both give and take on both ends. They both have so much at stake, so they proceed with caution rather than lustful feelings. And they both have to make a lot of difficult decisions.

4. I learned a lot about ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), and I appreciated that Tracey used her book to raise awareness for a disease that does not get a lot of recognition, especially in books where cancer is usually the culprit. She treats the disease with sensitivity, and the emotions she conveys really send a message about what this disease does to a person and their family. For me, it was much more effective the reading medical jargon.

5. The mystery aspect of the story was very intriguing, and I was constantly trying to figure out the reasoning behind Daisy’s grandmother’s murder. Again, it was real. This could happen to me! And that made things even creepier. The suspense was a little less than I was hoping for, but definitely enough to keep me flipping pages as fast as I could. The climax is a doozy.

6. The romance, while slow-burning, is so romantic and wonderful. I’m going to say flat-out that Brooks is a guy who will make you swoon. He’s the perfectly flawed hero that leaves you hopeful that there’s someone like him out there for you.

7. Tracey’s writing is flawless. She has me hanging on her every word every time. She never forgets to write you, the reader, right in to her stories, leaving a part of you there when it’s all over.

Basically, Tracey has done it again! I always worry that someday she will write something I won’t love, but it has not happened yet and I’m pretty sure it never will. I wholeheartedly recommend that you go and get yourself a copy of Every Time I Think of You. It has a little something for everyone, and it will leave you even more excited for what she has in store for us next!


Degrees of Wrong by Anna Scarlett | Book Review

October 28, 2013 Adult Fiction, Book Review 10 ★★★★★

Degrees of Wrong by Anna Scarlett | Book ReviewDegrees of Wrong by Anna Scarlett
Published by Samhain Publishing Ltd. on August 28, 2012
Genres: Romance, Science Fiction
Pages: 212
Format: ARC
Source: From the author
Amazon Add to Goodreads
5 Stars
This time, the straight-and-narrow path could be the road to ruin.

Dr. Elyse Morgan’s mission: find the cure to the HTN4 virus. The compensation, courtesy of the United Nations: a lab stocked with hi-tech goodies, limitless resources and enough chocolate to make her rear look like a cellulite farm. Bonus: she gets to live.

Rescued (kidnapped) and secreted (imprisoned) on an undersea warship, Elyse adjusts to her assumed identity as a cadet with the finesse of a toeless ballerina. Her sulfuric temper and blatant insubordination capture the unwanted attention of the ship’s captain, the gorgeous, infuriating, engaged Nicoli Marek.

Elyse would rather perform her own autopsy than become the other woman, but Nicoli—who’s as full of himself as he is of secrets—regards his impending marriage as a mere political transaction. And Elyse as fair game.

As Elyse’s suspicions about the UN’s true agenda mount along with her attraction to the relentless, chronically shirtless captain, she must choose between the murky path to everything she’s ever wanted, or the squeaky-clean path of self-sacrifice—which could mean taking the secrets of the virus with her to the grave.

Warning: Features a strong, chocolate-loving heroine who takes no prisoners on the way to saving the world from an epidemic and winning a captain’s heart.

Did you know that Anna Scarlett is a pen name for Anna Banks, author of Of Poseidon??  I didn’t either, until Anna tweeted about it and I made the connection. I was excited to read this book before, but then when I found out that SHE wrote it, I was over the moon. I will read anything Anna writes. Anything. And I’m super excited that she wrote an adult romance this time! As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. I have a thing for books with medical aspects to them. A doctor on a mission to find the cue for a deadly virus… and terrorists hoping to kill her before she gets the chance? YES.

2. I loved the science fiction-y twist with the high-tech equipment, underwater battleships, transport pods, giant squid, etc. It was not so far into the future that it was unbelievable, but just far enough that Anna could let her imagination go. I really enjoyed the world building.

3. Elyse Morgan is seriously my best friend in another life. Her gumption is enviable. She is seriously kick a- and I totally who I want to be when I grow up (haha. I’m 25… I should be grown up already… right?). She is so strong and independent and powerful, doesn’t cave under pressure, sticks up for herself, and settles for nothing less than she wants. I mean, this woman essentially black mailed the UN at one point. Oh, and she is hilarious! Her thoughts had me laughing out loud, and I’m really good about not doing that when I’m reading in silence. Can I please be her? I love, love, LOVE strong heroines.

4. Nicoli is my kind of man… dark and handsome and protective, concerned, caring, flirtatious. He’s this strong military-type with a hardened exterior and a mushy center reserved for those he cares about. Swoonworthy. That’s really all I can say to sum him up. Other than perfect. Or please-can-I-have-him? I mean, as if I needed another reason to want to be Elyse. She has this guy chasing after her! Mmmmmm.

5. OH MY. Anna can write sexual tension as easy as the ABC’s. She had me hanging on every single word. The witty banter cat and mouse game that is Elyse and Nicoli is delicious.

6. The writing. Hello. I love Anna’s writing, but I already mentioned that. She’s awesome at capturing feelings and emotions and putting them into words, smacking you down right in the middle of it all. Even the medical descriptions had me engrossed! Sometimes I glaze over when medicine gets too complicated, but I got this. It was complicated, but written on a level that I could follow.

7. There were twists and turns and brand new information given out all the time! I love a book that just keeps on going and branching off the main storyline. Things were always exciting.

Basically, I can’t say a bad thing about this book. I loved it, and I think you should read it. It’s got a little bit of everything (romance, sci-fi, action, amazing storytelling, perfect characters, etc.) and I think it would appeal to pretty much anyone. I hope Anna writes more adult fiction in the future! And actually, I’d love to read more about some of the characters in this book. Do you hear me, Anna? You’ve got a request!


Bridge of Scarlet Leaves by Kristina McMorris (Book Review)

April 25, 2013 Adult Fiction, Book Review 7 ★★★★

Bridge of Scarlet Leaves by Kristina McMorris (Book Review)Bridge Of Scarlet Leaves by Kristina McMorris
Published by Kensington Publishing on February 28, 2012
Genres: Historical Fiction, Romance
Pages: 431
Format: ARC
Source: From the author
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4 Stars
A skilled violinist sacrifices her career aspirations and family's approval to secretly elope with her Japanese American boyfriend -- the night before Pearl Harbor is bombed. Torn between sides, she will make choices few people in history dared.

Los Angeles, 1941. Violinist Maddie Kern's life seemed destined to unfold with the predictable elegance of a Bach concerto. Then she fell in love with Lane Moritomo. Her brother's best friend, Lane is the handsome, ambitious son of Japanese immigrants. Maddie was prepared for disapproval from their families, but when Pearl Harbor is bombed the day after she and Lane elope, the full force of their decision becomes apparent. In the eyes of a fearful nation, Lane is no longer just an outsider, but an enemy.

When her husband is interned at a war relocation camp, Maddie follows, sacrificing her Juilliard ambitions. Behind barbed wire, tension simmers and the line between patriot and traitor blurs. As Maddie strives for the hard-won acceptance of her new family, Lane risks everything to prove his allegiance to America, at tremendous cost.

I was born in Japan, on an air force base. My mom has told me stories of the amazing people and the friends she had while we were there. A school of boys from Japan came to my junior high school in September of 2001, and I got to host one of them. He shadowed me for a week. It was an amazing experience, especially since they were here on the day of the September 11th terrorist attacks. They got to share in our tragedy, and I saw legitimate sorrow and concern for us in their eyes. I heard their condolences through their broken English. Japan is filled with amazing people, and I can’t imagine the prejudices they have dealt with, especially during the time period of this story. As always, my main points are bolded! :)

1. I really felt for Maddie and Lane throughout the entire book. Their relationship was kept a secret, they never showed any signs of affection in public, they had to elope last-minute because Lane’s father had already picked out his wife, and then the war and accompanying tragedies split them apart and made their lives so much harder than anyone deserves. Lane’s parents were against the marriage, and Maddie’s brother (TJ) demanded she get a divorce, even though Lane was his best friend. Actually, TJ was so mad about it that it helped fuel his decision to join the Army to fight against the Japanese, often picturing Lane in his mind as he shot the enemy. 

2. Before I read this book, I had not understood the magnitude of the racism and segregation the Japanese-Americans dealt with. I admire both Maddie and Lane for their strength, for following their hearts, for looking past the opinions of others, and for sticking with each other, no matter the hardships involved. They were both so young, yet they had a more realistic picture of how life should be than the majority of the people they came across.

3. I learned a lot from this book. I was not aware of the camps the Japanese-Americans had to stay in once Pearl Harbor was bombed. The entire west coast pushed them away, out of their homes and businesses, searched and ravaged their homes for signs of treason, and forced them into dirty camps like prisoners. This internment lasted the duration of World War II. You only had to be 1/16th Japanese to receive this kind of punishment. Children were ripped away from their families. Spouses were split up. The Japanese-Americans who were visiting/vacationing in Japan during the attack, were not allowed to return to the USA. In fact, they were forced into the Japanese Army and had to fight against their own friends and family back home. Brothers, on opposite sides of the war, were forced to fight one another. And it happened. In the author’s note at the end of the book, she mentions a brother shooting down an enemy plane, only to find out his brother was on it. My heart broke. Some of the Japanese-Americans were forced to enlist in the US Army and spy on the Japanese, translating documents and sneaking into the fields at night to eavesdrop on their plans of ambush or attack. The ones who were not forced to enlist marked the reluctant soldiers as traitors, and put their families on “death lists”. These are not the things we’retaught in school, or at least I wasn’t. I’m grateful to Kristina for educating me with her extremely well-researched facts–heartbreaking as they may be.

4. Kristina’s writing style is gorgeous. She intertwines subtle symbolic messages and melodies with a sweet Romeo and Juliet kind of romance, and a cold, unfeeling war. Her lovely, descriptive passages soften the blow of the poignant sequences of war and loss.

5. This is the kind of book that one experiences, rather than reads. I felt so many different emotions throughout. The romance was heartwarming, the ever-present glimmers of opposing hearts softening made me hopeful that love knows no bounds, the tortures and deaths were devastating. It was quite an emotional roller coaster that didn’t end until the final page.

6. This book is much heavier than I had expected, and I don’t usually venture into such deeply emotional reads. I’m glad I read it, though. It’s a versatile read, and has a little bit of everything: romance, action, suspense, loss, coming of age, history, symbolism, and growth. Did everything end up the way I wanted? No. But I respect the author for not tying everything up into a perfect bow. If she had, it would have been insulting to the survivors and their families, not to mention those that perished. She painted the war as it really was without sugarcoating it. I think it’s good to be reminded of what humans are capable of. 

Maddie and Lane, along with countless numbers of other inter-racial couples and friendships, crossed over the barrier, and formed relationships that helped unite the races. Years later (and a long time coming), in 1988 President Reagan officially apologized to the Japanese-Americans for their internment during WW2. Kristina ends her author’s note with a quote that I loved: “Indeed, history has much to teach us, if only we are willing to learn.” I think that is so true, and beautifully sums up the entire message of this book. I’d recommend this to pretty much anyone, but if you love historical fiction with a hint of romance, I bet you’ll like this. :)


Touching the Surface by Kimberly Sabatini (Book Review & Giveaway)

April 8, 2013 Book Review, Giveaway, Young Adult 29

Touching the Surface by Kimberly Sabatini (Book Review & Giveaway)Touching the Surface by Kimberly Sabatini
Published by Simon Pulse on October 30, 2012
Genres: Paranormal, Paranormal Romance, Romance
Pages: 352
Format: Hardcover
Source: From the author
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When Elliot finds herself dead for the third time, she knows she must have messed up, big-time. She doesn’t remember how she landed in the afterlife again, but she knows this is her last chance to get things right.

Elliot just wants to move on, but first she will be forced to face her past and delve into the painful memories she’d rather keep buried. Memories of people she’s hurt, people she’s betrayed…and people she’s killed.

As she pieces together the secrets and mistakes of her past, Elliot must find a way to earn the forgiveness of the person she’s hurt most, and reveal the truth about herself to the two boys she loves…even if it means losing them both forever.

I’m not usually a fan of afterlife-type novels, because I don’t usually like an author’s take on Heaven/Hell, Angels, God, and the afterlife in general. For this reason, I almost did not accept this book for review. Something about it, though, drew me right in and I decided to give it a chance. I am SO glad I did, because this book is a new favorite of mine! I really loved it, and it made me think about my life. I’m going to do my best to make sure this review is vague. You really need to discover the book as you read. As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. Elliot is a typical teenager, who is trying to learn from her mistakes and plan out her next life. She is struggling to find her way and her place. I loved that about her, because she was so easy to relate to. We all make mistakes, and we all have things in our lives that we wish had turned out, or been handled, differently. I love watching her remember what happened during the months before she passed away. I enjoyed watching her discover and piece together her former life, and the emotions and experiences she had.

2. Elliot has several amazing friends in the Obmil, or afterlife, that she has seen before between past lives. There are also a couple new ones that she has to figure out how and why they are important to her. One of them is a fatherly/grandfatherly figure named Freddie, who gives her advice. I really liked him and his fuzzy flannel shirts. Oliver will do anything to help her discover her plan for spiritual growth, and is a sweet brother type. Mel is a guide of sorts, and unconditionally loves Elliot. She is so sweet and loving. And then we have Trevor, the snarky grump whose t-shirt sayings change to reflect his mood. I loved those shirts. Haha. Some of them were really funny. He is a very dynamic, emotional, and confused character. I loved watching his transformation as he discovers his past right along with Elliot.

3. I loved Kimberly’s take on the afterlife. Basically, it’s a limbo period where people go after they have passed away so that they can learn from their past life or lives and reserve to do better in their next one. Each character goes through a lot of introspection and discovery, which I loved seeing. I firmly believe in always trying to improve yourself, so even though I don’t believe in reincarnation, I appreciated this message in the book.

4. Kimberly’s lyrical writing style is gorgeous, and so perfectly in sync with the subject matter of Touching the Surface. I just drank it all in, and could picture this otherworldly place in the afterlife in vivid detail.

5. The emotions in this book are just so real and pure. The people are flawed and working through their lives. Each is on a very personal journey. Aren’t we all? I really connected with these characters, and their situations. Their discoveries made me think about my own life, and how I am doing now. When I pass on, what will I look back on and wish I had handled differently? Will I wish I said something different to someone? Will I regret not experiencing certain things? I challenged myself to work harder and be better. I’m grateful to Kimberly for making me think all these things. 

Overall, Touching the Surface is a beautiful story that readers of all genres will be able to relate to and pull from. Regardless of your religious beliefs, you will connect with these characters. You will think about your own life, and you will most likely end up making some goals for yourself as you move forward. I was touched by so many of the passages, and related to the emotions that were discussed. I loved experiencing this book, and can’t wait for more books from Kimberly.

Giveaway: Kim is generously providing a personalized hardback of Touching the Surface for one of my US readers! Thanks so much, Kim!

Good luck, and I hope you win!

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Firefly (Cicada #2) by Belle Whittington (Mini Book Review)

April 3, 2013 Blog Tour, Book Review, Young Adult 2 ★★★½

Firefly (Cicada #2) by Belle Whittington (Mini Book Review)Firefly by Belle Whittington
Series: Cicada #2
Also in this series: Cicada, Monarch
Published by Self on February 2, 2013
Genres: Paranormal, Paranormal Romance, Romance, Science Fiction
Pages: 510
Format: eBook
Source: From the author
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3.5 Stars
“The darkest days are ahead of us,” Andrew whispered as the drape of shadows slipped away, allowing Blair to awaken. And in her heart of hearts she knew it was true. The unmistakable signs were all around her, growing within her. She was becoming something more than human. All she could do was accept the inevitable.

“I’ve become a freak … an alien. I no longer belong to the human world,” Blair told her true love, and he held her close, determined never to give her up.

“I’d stay in this darkness forever as long as I could be with you. Wherever you are … that’s my home.” Everett meant every word. In fact, he’d willingly give up his own life to protect the girl he’d always loved.

But there was a storm brewing … a firestorm so strong and catastrophic that it could keep them apart forever.

That storm roared into town wearing a brown leather bomber jacket and riding a motorcycle.

Ash was like a secret in human clothing … a dangerous secret. Everything about him was mesmerizing – right down to the swirls of ink that flowed over the smooth muscles across his chest and around his arms. Being with him was like playing with fire.

Blair knew all about playing with fire.

She knew something else, too. A small quiet voice deep within whispered that she really would be separated from everyone and everything she’d known and loved.

Because some secrets run too deep.

Welcome to my stop along Belle Whittington’s Firefly blog tour, hosted by Books and Broomsticks! I’m pleased to be a part of the festivities, and add my review to the pile of reviews, guest posts, and interviews. If you’re new to the series, check out my review of Cicada, book #1.

I had been anticipating Firefly after really enjoying Cicada last year, so I was delighted when I was invited to join the tour! Firefly is an exciting new installment in the trilogy, and did answer some of the questions we were left with at the end of Cicada. I’m going to try to keep this review as spoiler free as possible, but it’s going to be tricky because SO MUCH HAPPENED in this book!

Firefly picks up right where Cicada left off, and Belle gives the reader just enough information about Cicada to stir their memory, but not so much that it feels like we’re being told the same story all over again. Everett, Blair’s boyfriend, and Andrew, Blair’s brother, are not in this book as much as they were before, and I missed them! You might remember me gushing over both of them in my review of Cicada. They were off discovering themselves, though, and learning what was necessary to add their pieces to this crazy puzzle they are involved in. We did get to see them some, and they ended up being exactly where they needed to be at exactly the right time. And with their absence, we are introduced to a little telepathy and dream traveling, which was a really cool addition to their (and Blair’s) mysterious abilities. I still really adore Andrew. I wish I had him as my older brother!

The love triangle is introduced in this book, with Mr. swoony-Ash. I started out liking him, but as he got more possessive and stalkerish, I was definitely glad that Everett was still the amazingly loyal and sweet former nerd I loved in the first book. I had a lot of fun watching him morph into this new version of himself. Bug boy to bad boy, if you will. One aspect of the love story left me with a bit of a bad taste in my mouth. This book seemed to be a lot more sappy and lovey-dovey than the last one. Now, don’t get me wrong. I love love stories. I eat love stories for dinner AND dessert. I just felt like this one was almost Disney princess sappy, though, with Blair pining away for her “true love” countless numbers of time. She could not handle having Everett gone, and she moped and complained a little too much for me. And when she did see him, she spent more time climbing into his lap than talking to him. It made Blair seem weak, and with the role she has in this book, you would expect her to be anything but.

I really enjoyed Blair’s transformation into something less than human. I also liked the history behind why all of this is happening to her. And I really liked watching her experience all these changes and new abilities. A lot of magic and mystery surrounds her, and it was fun discovering who she is right along with her. I loved her relationship with her mom and her grandparents. It’s refreshing to see such strong family bonds in young adult literature.

There’s a twist that we find out about partway through the book regarding Blair’s memory of the past, and I loved that twist. I swear, the creativity behind this trilogy is amazing. I love the unique take on aliens and other worlds. I also really like Belle’s writing style and attention to detail, even though there were several typos throughout the book. There are some gorgeous passages that I actually re-read, involving dreams, galaxies, and even descriptions of the changing seasons. You can tell Belle is very talented, and is extremely invested in her books. I’m really excited to see where the next book goes, as yet again, I’m left with a lot of questions!

Disclaimer: About a quarter of the way through the book, something happens that upset me a great deal, to the point where I almost DNF’d the book. It involves the mutilation of a beloved animal. As many of you know, I’m very against this theme in books. I wrote to Belle and her daughter, the tour host, and explained my feelings. I was informed that this is actually a common practice among alien hoaxes and crop circles. Once I learned this, I was still horrified, but it was easier on me knowing that this aspect of the story is based on true events, rather than a creative author. I appreciated the explanation, and thought I would mention it here in my review to help soften the blow on other sensitive readers. I’d like to thank Linda for explaining this to me.