Monday, March 30, 2015

Review--Hot Finish (Fast Track Bk 3) by Erin McCarthy

Suzanne Jefferson is broke, which is why she's given up charity work for wedding planning. Fortunately, she has a high-profile client-and best of all, he's paid in advance. There are just two teensy problems: the bride is a bona fide bridezilla, and Suzanne's stock racer ex- husband is the best man. At least she though he was her ex-husband...












The premise of this book is like my own personal brand of catnip. I love romances about marriages on the rocks. It becomes a story of figuring out how to make it work. It becomes about actually communicating instead of hoping the other person figures it out.

Suzanne and Ryder have been divorced for two years. They both have similar friends and often spend a great deal of time together. While Suzanne is planning a stock car racer's wedding, her and Ryder are thrust together time and time again. Oh and then they discover they are actually still married. Ryder wants a second chance but Suzanne has had insecurities about their relationship from day one. Can they make it work this time?

I really loved their banter throughout the previous two books. It was obvious the two were meant to be together but things had happened in the past to break them up. Of course it came down to communication. Ryder couldn't understand why they'd divorced in the first place but he granted it when it became clear Suzanne wanted it. Now after years he wants answers and to prove he has always wanted her. Good job there.

The premise had all these b-plots moving along but I'll be honest, they were not interesting. Not really. The real winner was watching Suzanne and Ryder attempt to figure out where they went wrong. Well it became clear pretty quickly. Back in the day the two had gotten together pretty hot and heavy and Suzanne ended up pregnant. The two got married and then lost the baby. Suzanne always wondered if Ryder really loved her or if he would have married her if she hadn't been pregnant. She always had insecurities. Ryder loved her. End of story. He was totally confused when he realized there were all these things that had broken them up because he hadn't known there was anything wrong. In a classic twist Suzanne thought he should be able to read her mind and when he didn't issues happened.

If you've read romance you can guess what happened as their romance rekindled. Of course that happened. While it was a conflict, it was handled well. That's all I'll say on that.

The real issue came up when Suzanne started gracing the online tabloids as hooking up with her ex. The spousal support had run out and she was struggling. Allegations were made she was sleeping with Ryder for his money. That was another issue Suzanne had since she'd grown up poor. She didn't want people to think she was with Ryder for his money. Okay I get it but there will always be speculation.

I really enjoyed this book even when I thought it got bogged down with typical miscommunication. It always sort of bums me out when there isn't a whole slew of issues but rather a general topic of miscommunication. I find find 99.9% of romance conflict could be solved with an honest conversation. Maybe in the next one I'll find something different.

4 Stars
Published by Berkley
August 3, 2010
284 Pages
Provided by--the Library

Related Books

1. Flat-Out Sexy
2. Hard and Fast
4. The Chase
4.5. Take Me Home
5. Slow Ride
6. Jacked Up
7. Full Throttle
8. Final Lap


Sunday, March 29, 2015

Review--His to Take (Wicked Lovers Bk 9) by Shayla Black

Racing against time, NSA Agent Joaquin Muñoz is searching for a little girl who vanished twenty years ago with a dangerous secret. Since Bailey Benson fits the profile, Joaquin abducts the beauty and whisks her to the safety of Club Dominion—before anyone can silence her for good. 

At first, Bailey is terrified, but when her captor demands information about her past, she’s stunned. Are her horrific visions actually distant memories that imperil all she holds dear? Confined with Joaquin in a place that echoes with moans and breathes passion, he proves himself a fierce protector, as well as a sensual Master who’s slowly crawling deeper in her head…and heart. But giving in to him might be the most delicious danger of all. 

Because Bailey soon learns that her past isn’t the only mystery. Joaquin has a secret of his own—a burning vengeance in his soul. The exposed truth leaves her vulnerable and wondering how much about the man she loves is a lie, how much more is at risk than her heart. And if she can trust him to protect her long enough to learn the truth.


I usually love, love, love the Wicked Lovers series. I've reread some of my favorites a few times and I've always pre-ordered the next one since I discovered these books. Unfortunately this one was not a slam dunk for me and in fact I was pretty disappointed by it.

Joaquin is determined to save a woman's life. A friend of his discovered a terrorist group murdering women who looked a certain way, was a certain age, and had been adopted. When that friend turned up dead, Joaquin decided to find the girl and protect her. Enter Bailey Benson, a ballerina and completely unaware she fits the bill. When Joaquin busts into her life and kidnaps her, she refuses to believe she could be this missing Russian child. As the terrorist group gets closer, Bailey and Joaquin's relationship heats up.

Okay so I typically just accept these plots because it is a romance and there is a limited amount of time in which they can fully explore the story. Typically I just let the whole Stockholm thing go or the fact they are practically getting married after a week spent together. I just accept it. Well I couldn't this time. Initially I thought it was a mood thing and then I discovered it was the characters.

Joaquin was just...unlikeable. I'm not sure why but at the end of the book I couldn't tell you one thing about him besides he worked for the NSA and was apparently dominant. That was it. I couldn't tell you what color hair he had although I'd wager black. I couldn't tell you any of his likes/dislikes or what made him him. Frankly he could have been called "the agent" and it would have read the same way.

Then there was Bailey who just adjusted to everything like a champ. She was adopted. Okay. She was the only survivor of a family massacre? Sure. She was going to be butchered for info she didn't have? Sign her up. She was going to get all her memories from before she was 5 in about 30 pages? Yep sounds totally right. Okay so she was a ballerina. Um...okay whatever. Did I mention she was submissive? Yeah she was that too...naturally. Do you ever notice how the dominant always finds a submissive. He never is like "Huh...she's totally not cool with it but I want in her pants". How does that keep happening to all these alpha males?

The memory thing was a real deal breaker for me. By the time Bailey started remembering everything flawlessly from before she was five, I was kind of done with the whole thing. It wasn't enough she had hazy memories. Nope she had to remember every single detail of everything so they could find a random campsite in PA. She had to remember what was said, worn, and implied. It was weird and off-putting.

By the end I was skimming pages and hoping to find a more enjoyable ending. I didn't but I'll still read the next book. I've loved the rest of the series so I was bound to find a dud.

2 Stars
Published by Berkley Heat
March 3, 2015
400 Pages
Provided by--Me

Related Books

1. Wicked Ties
2. Decadent
3. Delicious
4. Surrender to Me
5. Belong to Me
5.5. Wicked to Love
6. Mine to Hold
6.5. Wicked All the Way
7. Ours to Love
7.5. Wicked All Night
7.8. Forever Wicked
8. Theirs to Cherish
9.5. Pure Wicked [9/8/15]
10. Wicked For You [10/6/15]


Saturday, March 28, 2015

Stacking the Shelves--March 28/Weekly Wrap-Up


Well was this week just explosive with the reveal about Jane Litte/Jen Frederick?! I had a post up but then changed my mind a bit so I took it down. I figure I'll think about it more. How did you guys do this week when it came to books? I read a bunch and I'm really enjoying graphic novels again.

Review


1. The Sheikh's Secret Babies (Bound by Gold Bk 2) by Lynne Graham









Library

 1. Amulet Vol 4, the Last Council by Kazu Kibuishi

2. Charity and Sylvia by Rachel Hope Cleves

 3. Drama by Raina Telgemeier

4. Fables Vol. 1, Legends in Exile by Bill Willingham

 5. In Real Life by Cory Doctorow/Jen Wang

6. Runaways Deluxe Vol. 2 by Brian K. Vaughan

7. Sandman Vol. 1, Preludes and Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman


Purchased

 1. Where the Heart Is (Ribbon Ridge Bk .5) by Darcy Burke [FREE]

2. Three Girls and a Baby (Three Girls Bk 1) by Rachel Schurig [FREE]

3. Sea of Shadows (Age of Legends Bk 1) by Kelley Armstrong [1.99]



Weekly Wrap-Up

Reviews

1. Flirting with Fire (Hot in Chicago Bk 1) by Kate Meader [4 Stars]
2. Waiting On You (Blue Heron Bk 3) by Kristan Higgins [2 Stars]
3. In Your Dreams (Blue Heron Bk 4) by Kristan Higgins [2 Stars]
4. Amulet Vol 1, the Stonekeeper by Kazu Kibuishi [3 Stars]

Memes

1. Top Ten Tuesday--Books I Want to Revisit From My Childhood/Teen Years

Books Read

1.Amulet Vol. 3, the Cloud Searchers by Kazu Kibuishi
2. Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee
3. The Sheikh's Secret Babies (Bound by Gold Bk 2) by Lynne Graham
4. The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place by Julie Berry
5. In Real Life by Cory Doctorow/Jen Wang
6. The Chase (Fast Track Bk 4) by Erin McCarthy
7. Fables Vol 1, Legends in Exile by Bill Willingham

Currently Reading


Friday, March 27, 2015

Review--Amulet Vol 1, The Stonekeeper by Kazu Kibuishi

After the tragic death of their father, Emily and Navin move with their mother to the home of her deceased great-grandfather, but the strange house proves to be dangerous. Before long, a sinister creature lures the kids' mom through a door in the basement. Em and Navin, desperate not to lose her, follow her into an underground world inhabited by demons, robots, and talking animals. 

Eventually, they enlist the help of a small mechanical rabbit named Miskit. Together with Miskit, they face the most terrifying monster of all, and Em finally has the chance to save someone she loves.


Whenever I find myself struggling to find something to read I try a new genre. Recently I've been using graphic novels and manga to get me through the tough times. This month I finally decided to pick up Amulet and try reading through it. Sadly it's not a completed story and that bums me out but I'll be keeping my eye on new releases. There are six books so far.

Emily and Navin just lost their father in a terrible car crash and are now moving to an old home owned by their mother. The creepy, old house seems to be hiding some secrets. When Em finds an old necklace, they end up discovering a whole new world. Their mother is captured and the two have to race across unfamiliar land to rescue her. There they discover their ancestor had left a legacy for Emily and some small friends to help them save the world.

I love fantasy books. I'll be honest I hardly read them because I'm so picky. In this case I figured how bad could it be to follow two kids on a journey? After all most of my favorite kid books were a similar premise. Well I love it. I ordered book two the second I was done with book one.

The story is fantastic as these two kids race across unfamiliar territory with a mechanical rabbit, a few robots, and a walking house. These two kids who are barely old enough to make difficult decisions have to grow up fast. I know the story is probably some sort of metaphor for the loss of their father and stepping into more adult roles but screw it! Lets talk about fantasy!

The artwork is fantastic. The moment I started paging through the two page spreads of the world, I was hooked. I could see this as a movie (supposedly it is 'in development'). The world itself is so lush and so distinctive, courtesy of Kazu Kibuishi. I wanted more books just to see the world building. It was fantastic and I really hope to see a lot of stories coming out of Amulet.

The characters are not only interesting but they are relatable. You have the older sister who has been granted this huge responsibility and power and hasn't begun to realize the consequences yet. You have the younger brother who loves video games and sees the world around him as a big flight simiulator without grasping they don't just start over upon defeat. It's a fascinating dynamic which tackles topics such as the seriousness of death as well as growing up. It's a scary place.

I'm not much for reading into things. I love the plot and don't like to get bogged down with 'issues', 'themes', etc. In this case I recognized issues and themes but I'm really hooked on the general story and the artwork. If you haven't tried this series yet, I urge you to give it a shot.

3 Stars
Published by GRAPHIX
January 1, 2008
192 Pages
Provided by: the Library

Related Books

2. The Stonekeeper's Curse
3. The Cloud Searchers
4. The Last Council
5. Prince of the Elves
6. Escape From Lucien


Thursday, March 26, 2015

Review--In Your Dreams (Blue Heron Bk 4) by Kristan Higgins

Emmaline Neal needs a date. Just a date—someone to help her get through her ex-fiancé's wedding without losing her mind. But pickings are slim in Manningsport, New York, population 715. In fact, there's really only one option: local heartthrob Jack Holland. Everyone loves Jack, and he won't get the wrong idea…. After all, Jack Holland would never actually be interested in a woman like Em. Especially not with his beautiful ex-wife creeping around, angling to reunite ever since he rescued a group of teens and became a local hero. 

But when the wedding festivities take an unexpectedly passionate turn, Em figures it was just one crazy night. Jack is too gorgeous, too popular, to ever end up with her. So why is she the one he can talk to about his deep, dark feelings? If Em is going to get her dream man, she'll have to start by believing in him…


Once again I realized I had a Kristan Higgins book to review and decided to finish it out after reading books 2 and 3 of this series. This one had similar problems to books 2 and 3 but had, initially a better plot line.

Emmaline just needs a date to a wedding. The groom? Her ex-fiance who dumped her after he lost a lot of weight. Emma had always loved the man. She always accepted him as he was but when he started going to a gym, he lost a lot of weight and became a totally different person. Now, she's over him completely but misses the friendship they once had. Enter local Jack Holland who agrees to take her to the wedding. Things heat up at the wedding and the two have to decide if maybe they can find happiness together.

I just read a wedding book where someone had to go to a wedding where, in that case, she had to deal with bullies. In this one it was an ex-fiance. I'm sorry but why was she even invited? Didn't her ex think it might be weird to invite the woman he dumped when he got thin. On top of that he called her out in a magazine for being unsupportive of his weight loss (not true but whatever). I was just really bummed.

Then, on top of that, the plot sort of became wishy-washy as the story progressed. Instead we got insecure characters who were unwilling to face their flaws. Jack was an ass. Sorry but he was. He was clearly suffering from PTSD and everyone said so. Instead he acted like an ass, hurt Emma, and then was like "Oh maybe I am a dick and should get some help". Personally I wanted Emma to knee him. Whatever.

Oh and then there was this really silly plotline with Jack's ex wife. Apparently he married this stereotypical Georgia peach. Every single person in his life was like "Dude she is not for you." Even her own family kept trying to make him realize the woman he was marrying. Then he married her and she practically drove him into the poorhouse. Oh there were affairs and manipulative shenanigans. Then she just decides to show up now? Right now?! No thank you.

Basically I was once again really bummed. I hear so many awesome reviews for Ms. Higgin's books but then I just read three and none of them did it for me. Bummer but she'll be removed from my 'to read lists' and any shot at a Netgalley download. Personally I'd skip this one too.

2 Stars
Published by Harlequin HQN
September 30, 2014
480 Pages
Provided by--NetGalley

Related Books

1. The Best Man
2. The Perfect Match [My Review]
3. Waiting On You [My Review]


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Review--Waiting On You (Blue Heron Bk 3) by Kristan Higgins

Colleen O'Rourke is in love with love... just not when it comes to herself. Most nights, she can be found behind the bar at the Manningsport, New York, tavern she owns with her twin brother, doling out romantic advice to the lovelorn, mixing martinis and staying more or less happily single. See, ten years ago, Lucas Campbell, her first love, broke her heart... an experience Colleen doesn't want to have again, thanks. Since then, she's been happy with a fling here and there, some elite-level flirting and playing matchmaker to her friends. 

But a family emergency has brought Lucas back to town, handsome as ever and still the only man who's ever been able to crack her defenses. Seems like maybe they've got some unfinished business waiting for them—but to find out, Colleen has to let her guard down, or risk losing a second chance with the only man she's ever loved.


A few weeks ago I picked up a random Kristan Higgins audiobook which I later discovered I had downloaded from NetGalley and never reviewed. Yeah I'm that reviewer. Anyway I decided to read some more of the series even though I wasn't overwhelmed with enthusiasm with the first (actually second in series) I read. So here I am with book three in the series.

Colleen O'Rourke has always loved setting people up. She's actually really good at it but she can't seem to find her own love. Years ago she fell in love with Lucas but he broke her heart. Now years later as his uncle is dying, he returns and can't seem to leave Colleen alone. As their romance reignites they have to figure out if they can find their happily ever after the second time around.

I have a well-documented hatred for "trying to be funny books". I know I nitpick but I just hate those books. I often find books trying to be funny are not and this one was a prime example. I found myself skimming and flipping pages to get on with the plot. This was a similar problem I had to the first book. I would be enjoying a dialogue and then immediately it would launch into Colleen trying to set up Paulie and Bryce and I would start rolling my eyes and practically DNFing the book. I totally didn't care at all.

Then there was the whole crazy misunderstanding initial break-up. This book was totally smoking the 'never talk to each other' conflict. Colleen got upset and made ultimatums and naturally Lucas was all "nuh-uh" about it. Then Lucas saw her with someone (misread the situation) then knocked a girl up and broke Colleen's heart. It was one of those classic Rachel-Ross "We were on a break" fights except a girl ended up pregnant. Okay so that was weird. Not only that but Lucas was supposed to come off as the white knight who did the right thing. Um...no. No, no, no, no, no. Seriously I hate that trope. Marrying a knocked up girl because your sperm got busy does not a marriage make. He could have totally been involved without the marriage. There is something in romance books that makes it a requirement for marriage. I hate that.

Lucas was this gigantic hypocrite throughout the entire book. He would tell Colleen something and then change his mind seemingly at random to contradict himself. He didn't want to get married young? Married a girl two months after Colleen and him 'broke up'. Didn't want to knock a girl up so he used a lot of birth control? Immediately trusted a girl she was on the pill. So there was quite a bit of crazy happening.

There was also a slight question about Lucas's feelings for his ex-wife which were never resolved. It was weird and I've seen other readers comment on it. He 'loved' Colleen so much but at the end of the day he defended Ellen always and confessed he loved her too but not as much as Colleen. It was weird and I found it distasteful.

Frankly I would not recommend this one at all. I sort of enjoyed the second book in the series although I had some criticisms. This one was not nearly as good and had I read it first, I would never have continued with the series.

2 Stars
Published by Harlequin HQN
March 25, 2014
464 Pages
Provided by: the Library

Related Books

1. The Best Man
2. The Perfect Match [My Review]
4. In Your Dreams


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday--Books From Childhood/Teen Years I Want to Revisit


 1. Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling

2. Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis


3. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

4. Oz Series by L. Frank Baum



5. Artemis Fowl by Eion Colfer

6. Percy Jackson Series by Rick Riordan



7. The Hunger Games Series by Suzanne Collins

8. The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot



9. Into the Land of the Unicorns by Bruce Coville

10. The Babysitter's Club series by Ann M. Martin