Thursday, April 28, 2016

Review: The Girl Who Fell by Shannon M. Parker

Release date: March 1st 2016
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Purchase: Amazon

Synopsis via Goodreads:
His obsession. Her fall.

Zephyr Doyle is focused. Focused on leading her team to the field hockey state championship and attending her dream school, Boston College.

But love has a way of changing things.

Enter the new boy in school: the hockey team’s starting goaltender, Alec. He’s cute, charming, and most important, Alec doesn’t judge Zephyr. He understands her fears and insecurities—he even shares them. Soon, their relationship becomes something bigger than Zephyr, something she can’t control, something she doesn’t want to control.

Zephyr swears it must be love. Because love is powerful, and overwhelming, and…


But love shouldn’t make you abandon your dreams, or push your friends away. And love shouldn’t make you feel guilty—or worse, ashamed.

So when Zephyr finally begins to see Alec for who he really is, she knows it’s time to take back control of her life.

If she waits any longer, it may be too late.

*Received a physical copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The Girl Who Fell is an interesting story with a plot that many can relate to. Zephyr is like any other teenager who had everything planned out; from where she wanted to go to college to what she wanted to do there. She seemed pretty level-headed and just overall a smart girl. So when things started with Alec and he had her changing herself and re-arranging plans to make him happy, many would want to call her foolish but if you analyze her situation and the issues she had with her father's sudden departure, then maybe you could understand her. I did, so I couldn't really be mad at her for wanting to do everything to make Alec happy, even consider giving up her dream for him. That is certainly realistic and in a situation like that, many girls do such a thing. 

From the moment he came into the picture, Alec have me suspicious. There was something about him that didn't seem right, and the fact that he had her pushing her friends away to please him was just terrible. Zephyr hadn't experienced a serious relationship before, so that sort of caused her to not see how wrong Alec was for her in so many ways. There were little signs here and there, but her infatuation (because what she felt was too soon and just wasn't love) blinded her. The problem with her father may have played a part in her staying with Alec too. But I was happy that she finally came to her senses (even though it took her too long) and that she was able to see that she deserved better. Her friends were awesome in the way that they held on to their friendship and tried to help Zephyr. So happy she found happiness in the end after all.

I felt like Zephyr's character was a great depiction of many in real life. The author did a good job in the way she started their relationship to the way it ended. The writing is fluid and the overall intense feeling of the story was chilling. My issue is that it kinda dragged out a bit and what happened in the end was sort of abrupt. But still, a good story that many may relate to, and probably might save themselves from the same horror before it's too late. 

Shannon M. ParkerAbout the Author
Shannon Parker lives on the Atlantic coast in a house full of boys. She’s traveled to over three dozen countries and has a few dozen more to go. She works in education and can usually be found rescuing dogs, chickens, old houses and wooden boats. Shannon has a weakness for chocolate chip cookies and ridiculous laughter—ideally, at the same time. The Girl Who Fell is her first novel. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

CAN'T WAIT TO READ: Ride Hard by Laura Kaye

Series: Raven Riders #1
Release date: April 26th 2016
Publisher: Avon
Purchase: Amazon

Synopsis via Goodreads:
A shy and distrustful woman running from a controlling ex-fiance seeks shelter with an outlaw motorcycle club with a tradition of protecting those who can't defend themselves, and falls under the watchful eye of the club's mysterious and intense leader who's intent on discovering all her secrets

Brotherhood. Club. Family.

They live and ride by their own rules.

These are the Raven Riders . . .

Raven Riders Motorcycle Club President Dare Kenyon rides hard and values loyalty above all else. He’ll do anything to protect the brotherhood of bikers—the only family he’s got—as well as those who can’t defend themselves. So when mistrustful Haven Randall lands on the club’s doorstep scared that she’s being hunted, Dare takes her in, swears to keep her safe, and pushes to learn the secrets overshadowing her pretty smile.

Haven fled from years of abuse at the hands of her criminal father and is suspicious of any man’s promises, including those of the darkly sexy and overwhelmingly intense Ravens’ leader. But as the powerful attraction between them flares to life, Dare pushes her boundaries and tempts her to want things she never thought she could.

The past never dies without a fight, but Dare Kenyon’s never backed down before . . .

About the Author
Laura Kaye
Laura Kaye is the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author of contemporary and paranormal romance and romantic suspense, including the Hard Ink, Heroes, and Hearts of the Anemoi series. Laura's hot, heartfelt stories are all about the universal desire for a place to belong. Laura grew up amidst family lore involving angels, ghosts, and evil-eye curses, cementing her life-long fascination with storytelling and the supernatural. Laura lives in Maryland with her husband, two daughters, and cute-but-bad dog, and appreciates her view of the Chesapeake Bay every day.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Spotlight & Guest Post: Andrew Joyce's "Resolution: Huck Finn's Greatest Adventure"

Release date: April 13th 2016
Publisher: William Birch & Assoc.
Purchase: Amazon | B&N

Synopsis via Goodreads:
It is 1896 in the Yukon Territory, Canada. The largest gold strike in the annals of human history has just been made; however, word of the discovery will not reach the outside world for another year.

By happenstance, a fifty-nine-year-old Huck Finn and his lady friend, Molly Lee, are on hand, but they are not interested in gold. They have come to that neck of the woods seeking adventure.

Someone should have warned them, “Be careful what you wish for.”
When disaster strikes, they volunteer to save the day by making an arduous six hundred mile journey by dog sled in the depths of a Yukon winter. They race against time, nature, and man. With the temperature hovering around seventy degrees below zero, they must fight every day if they are to live to see the next.

On the frozen trail, they are put upon by murderers, hungry wolves, and hostile Indians, but those adversaries have nothing over the weather. At seventy below, your spit freezes a foot from your face. Your cheeks burn—your skin turns purple and black as it dies from the cold. You are in constant danger of losing fingers and toes to frostbite.

It is into this world that Huck and Molly race.

They cannot stop. They cannot turn back. They can only go on. Lives hang in the balance—including theirs.

My name is Andrew Joyce and I write books for a living. Shane has been kind enough to allow me a little space on her blog to promote my new novel RESOLUTION: Huck Finn’s Greatest Adventure. I think it’s a good book, but what do I know? 

I’m kinda shy about tooting my own horn. So I think I’ll tell you a little story instead—a story about Chuck the Wonder Dog. Everything in it is true. I hope you enjoy it. 

Chuck rooms with my friend Jeff. Now Jeff is a good enough guy, but we have different outlooks on dogs. Jeff thinks dogs should be well trained while I take a more lackadaisical approach to dog training. Actually, after ten years of being with my dog, Danny, I’m pretty well trained. Anyway, when Chuck and Jeff first got together, Chuck was just a puppy and Jeff started right in on the training. Once the basics were covered, he began teaching Chuck to count. Yeah I know, but Jeff is a boat captain and he has plenty of time on his hands when he’s not at sea. 

The way he did it was to hold up one finger and get Chuck to bark once. When Chuck got the one finger-one bark down, Jeff went to two fingers and so on until Chuck would bark ten times when Jeff held up ten fingers. And, unless Jeff was going to take off his shoes—and even Jeff ain't that anal—that was as high as Chuck could count. 

So now, Chuck will bark the requisite number of times for the number of fingers held before him. Eight, six, four or whatever, got the picture? Then Jeff started in on teaching Chuck how to add, subtract, multiply and divide. No fooling! I don’t know how he did it; I think all the credit should go to Chuck for being so smart. But in the end, Jeff could hold up, for instance, two fingers and say, “Two plus three,” then hold up three fingers and Chuck would bark five times. Or Jeff would show Chuck seven fingers and say, “Seven minus three.” then hold up three fingers and Chuck would bark four times. You see, Chuck had been taught to recognize the words “minus,” “add,” and so forth. He could do any combination of numbers up to ten. 

Now we come to the kicker. As I said, Jeff is a boat captain and he hangs around the docks with the other captains. And if you know anything about boat captains, you know they are a languid breed. So while these lay-abouts hung out at the local bar, Jeff would entertain them with Chuck’s math skills. They were all duly impressed—all, that is, except one guy. 

One fine day this guy sees Jeff on the dock and goes up to him and says “I’ll bet you I can give Chuck a math problem that he can’t figure out.” And Jeff replies, “As long as it doesn’t involve a number higher that ten, Chuck can handle it.” Consequently they bet a case of beer. 

Now picture this: The guy is down on one knee facing Chuck. Jeff is standing behind the guy. The guy looks right at Chuck and says, “What is the square root of nine?” Chuck looks up over the guy’s shoulder at Jeff and Jeff holds up three fingers. Of course, Chuck barks three times. The guy turns around real quick, but not quickly enough. Jeff is standing there with his hands in his pockets, looking innocent. The guy scratched his head and headed out to buy a case of beer. 

Like I said above, it’s a true story. I have seen Chuck in action. It’s amazing! 

Oh yeah, I almost forgot—please go out and buy my book and make an old man happy.

About Andrew Joyce
Andrew JoyceAndrew Joyce left high school at seventeen to hitchhike throughout the US, Canada, and Mexico. He wouldn’t return from his journey until decades later when he decided to become a writer. Joyce has written four books, including a two-volume collection of one hundred and forty short stories comprised of his hitching adventures called BEDTIME STORIES FOR GROWN-UPS (as yet unpublished), and his latest novel, RESOLUTION. He now lives aboard a boat in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with his dog, Danny, where he is busy working on his next book, YELLOW HAIR.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Review: My Kind of Crazy by Robin Reul

Release date: April 5th 2016
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Purchase: Amazon

Synopsis via Goodreads:
Despite the best of intentions, seventeen-year old, wisecracking Hank Kirby can’t quite seem to catch a break. It’s not that he means to screw things up all the time, it just happens. A lot. Case in point: his attempt to ask out the girl he likes literally goes up in flames when he spells “Prom” in sparklers on her lawn…and nearly burns down her house. 

As if that wasn’t bad enough, Peyton Breedlove, a brooding loner and budding pyromaniac, witnesses the whole thing. Much to Hank’s dismay, Peyton takes an interest in him—and his “work.” The two are thrust into an unusual friendship, but their boundaries are tested when Hank learns that Peyton is hiding some dark secrets, secrets that may change everything he thought he knew about Peyton.

*Publisher approved request via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

My Kind of Crazy was fun and at the same time sad. The beginning had me laughing, with how Hank decided to do the promposal and it went awfully wrong, as expected. And from then on I just had the best of time with his character; his humorous thoughts and overall simple personality. But when I got into his family life and saw how his dad was, I felt sad for him. Hank never seemed to have his father's attention, at least not in a good way. And his dad was always giving him crap and drinking a lot. It's a wonder how Hank kept his sanity for that long, but I'm happy he held on because good things eventually came to him. I also liked how artistic he was and that he was into comic books. That made me connect with him a lot more. 

So Hank was about ready to put that mistake and somewhat embarrassment of what happened on his crush's lawn behind him, when in comes Peyton and all her craziness. And this girl certainly seemed out there, from how she handled people getting on her bad side, to her unhealthy obsession with fire. In a way, it was playing with fire that brought them together, and who would've thought these two individuals could be friends. I guess it's because Hank wasn't really a judgmental person, and at the same time he thought it was best not to get on Peyton's bad side so she wouldn't reveal it was him who set off the sparklers. 

I had my reservations about Peyton from the beginning. Like Hank, she had a lot of family issues but hers seemed a lot more intense. She'd often talk about her mother's behavior and the different stepdads she's had, and she was always out late at nights as if afraid of going home. On the outside looking in, one would really believe her when she told Hank all those things. But even though I sympathized with Peyton, I also suspected there was more going on. It was obvious to me that her mental state was off, from the playing with fire to the things she'd say. It just seemed like she needed the right kind of help, and even though she never got it professionally, I liked that Hank was able to give her some kind of happiness even though Peyton was wrong from lying and for being a tad clingy. 

Overall, it was just a good story with nice, fast-paced writing, humorous moments, interesting characters, and sad situations. And I loved that in the end, things worked out for all parties and they managed to find some happiness. I liked that Hank and his father were able to find common ground and his father started to get his act together. A lot of crazy stuff happened throughout the story that made me shake my head and yell at the characters, but honestly, it wouldn't have been that interesting if it wasn't that crazy. I recommend reading this one if you're into YA contemporary with a lot of drama and things that make you say, "Seriously?" 

About the Author
Robin Reul
Robin Reul has been writing since she was in early elementary school, when she used to make her own book club flyers for her classmates and then pen them original stories. Though she grew up on movie sets and worked for many years in the film and television industry both as an actress and in motion picture development, she ultimately decided to focus her attention on writing young adult novels. She likes to write the same kinds of stories she loved as a teen: the ones that give her with butterflies in her stomach and are filled with quirky, memorable characters who stay with the reader long after the story ends. When she’s not writing, Robin can be found singlehandedly driving up the profit margin of her local Starbucks and indulging her love of baked goods, particularly those in the key of pumpkin. She lives in Los Angeles suburbia with her husband, son and daughter.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Review: Until We Break by Jamie Howard

Release date: November 10th 2015
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Purchase: Amazon

Synopsis via Goodreads:
When Sloane Avery stops to help a stranded driver, she finds more than a broken down car on the side of the road. Luke Evans is faster and sexier than her Maserati, but with her heart still on the mend, she’s not interested in taking him for a test drive. Despite their initial disdain for each other, emotion and passion simmer, complicating their fragile friendship. But when a tragic loss and devastating betrayal send them spiraling, their growing love isn’t enough to save them.

That was five years ago, practically a different lifetime and definitely a different Sloane. Before she’s been hardened by booze, sex, and as much distance as she could get from the past. Now, called home on a family emergency, she’s determined to hold onto her heart the next time she sees Luke.

Except Sloane’s not the only one who’s changed. Luke’s turned his life around. Only the reappearance of Sloane and the reminder of his biggest mistake can put a dent in his plans. Luke is set on fixing what he’s broken. But with her emotions boiling to the surface, Sloane needs to decide if falling in love is life’s greatest gift or its cruelest joke.

*Publisher approved request via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I started out really enjoying Until We Break. It was funny in the beginning, and I understood Sloane's problem with Luke and why she treated him that way. She'd experienced betrayal from a cheating boyfriend months before, so of course it would piss her off to see the way Luke was with girls and how he'd sleep around a lot. As for Luke, his family situation was sad and I wanted to smack his mom every time she came onto the scene, but I felt like nothing justified his behavior. No matter how messed up society is, it should never be a good thing when guys sleep around that much and turn their nose up at the girl when she does it. So I didn't warm up to Luke that much because he was using sex as a way to distract himself from his family issues. I mean come on, couldn't he handle his problems another way? Jeez. His little brother was a sweet character though. It's too bad what happened to him. Really too bad, and I definitely sympathized with Luke during that time.

Like I said, the story was alright in the beginning, but then I just couldn't take how Sloane and Luke would hide their true feelings and constantly misunderstood each other. They would draw their own conclusion and create even more tension. It was actually quite silly, and even when Sloane was asked by her sister to be clear about how she felt for Luke, she should have been honest. Still, her sister had no business doing what she did, and I blame Luke as well. What the hell? How could he do such a thing after what happened with Sloane? That just didn't make any sense at all to me. And Sloane's reaction was certainly understandable, but it shouldn't have sent her down a path where she started behaving like Luke. 

It's terrible that she had to deal with that family secret too, and on top of that, she struggled to face her feelings for Luke, but the whole situation was frustrating for me and after that transition to years later, my interest wavered a bit. I'm glad things worked out in the end, but I was hoping for more from this book. It did have the potential, but it fell a little short for me. Still not a bad read if you're into back and forth and a lot of frustration. 

Jamie  HowardAbout the Author
Jamie Howard is a legal and compliance specialist by day, author by night, and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Art. When she’s not tapping away at the keyboard or capturing the world through her trusty Canon, you can find her binge-watching TV shows, devouring books, and perfecting her gaming skills. She lives with her husband, son, and three dogs in New Jersey, and is almost always awake early enough to see the sun rise, even on the weekends.

CAN'T WAIT TO READ: Everyone We've Been by Sarah Everett

Release date: October 4th 2016
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Purchase: Amazon

Synopsis via Goodreads:
Addison Sullivan has been in an accident. In its aftermath, she has memory lapses and starts talking to a boy that no one else can see. It gets so bad that she’s worried she’s going crazy. 

Addie takes drastic measures to fill in the blanks and visits a shadowy medical facility that promises to “help with your memory.” But at the clinic, Addie unwittingly discovers it is not her first visit. And when she presses, she finds out that she had certain memories erased. She had a boy erased.

But why? Who was that boy, and what happened that was too devastating to live with? And even if she gets the answers she’s looking for, will she ever be able to feel like a whole person again?

Sarah Everett
About the Author
Sarah Everett is the author of EVERYONE WE’VE BEEN and a second untitled novel that she is still hard at work on. She remembers growing up in enchanted forests, on desert islands and inside a magical wardrobe. She would only ever erase her memory of past karaoke performances and certain fashion choices. Her interests include science, Friends, tennis, and reading. She currently lives in Canada where she attends graduate school and writes YA novels.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Review: The Darkest Corners by Kara Thomas

Release date: April 19th 2016
Publisher: Delacorte
Purchase: Amazon

Synopsis via Goodreads:
The Darkest Corners is a psychological thriller about the lies little girls tell, and the deadly truths those lies become.

There are ghosts around every corner in Fayette, Pennsylvania. Tessa left when she was nine and has been trying ever since not to think about it after what happened there that last summer. Memories of things so dark will burn themselves into your mind if you let them.

Callie never left. She moved to another house, so she doesn’t have to walk those same halls, but then Callie always was the stronger one. She can handle staring into the faces of her demons—and if she parties hard enough, maybe one day they’ll disappear for good.
Tessa and Callie have never talked about what they saw that night. After the trial, Callie drifted and Tessa moved, and childhood friends just have a way of losing touch.

But ever since she left, Tessa has had questions. Things have never quite added up. And now she has to go back to Fayette—to Wyatt Stokes, sitting on death row; to Lori Cawley, Callie’s dead cousin; and to the one other person who may be hiding the truth.
Only the closer Tessa gets to the truth, the closer she gets to a killer—and this time, it won’t be so easy to run away.

*Received a physical copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Well, this was quite a story. I honestly didn't know what to expect or had any initial thoughts as to how The Darkest Corners would play out, but I'm happy that I stuck with it from start to finish.

The story kicks off with Tessa being given some news about her father and she has to return to a place she has dreaded after being gone for ten years. Throughout the story, she recalls some childhood memories of her own dysfunctional family, as well as a period of torture for her and others in her hometown. Her thoughts also enable us to experience the effects of what she and Callie had endured as children, as well as establish the kind of person Tessa is at present. 

Now, a lot of people may not like Tessa's character. She's flawed, and there's nothing really sweet and cookie-cutter about her. She's rather honest in her mind but often conceals the facts from others. And she doesn't always have the most pleasant thoughts about her peers. But given that she grew up in a messy family and had gone through so much as a child, I think all those things contribute to her tough exterior and guarded mentality. And I liked that she started doing research and digging into things to find answers for her questions, as well as try and fix the mistake (even though she and friend were pressured and manipulated) she and Callie made as kids. 

There's a lot I could get into but what I liked most about the story was how dark, intriguing, mysterious and unpredictable it was. I tried so many times to guess the real killer but failed each time. There was just no way to figure it out. Kara gave no clue as to how things would end and I liked all the twists and reveals along the way. The truth about Tessa's family, especially about her sister was a surprise. Not to mention the truth about Tessa. I did not see that coming. I feel like there was a tiny hint about the mother, but I never suspected the situation with her was to that extent. So very interesting and very realistic because these things do happen. 

Characters came and went but the one recurring character I loved was Maggie, Callie's mom. She had a significant role in the story with the way she was always helping Tessa and she sort of stood in the place that Tessa's real mom should have been. At times Maggie seemed a bit overprotective, but after what happened to her niece, that was understandable and she only wanted to keep her daughter and Tessa safe. It's always a breath of fresh air to see moms portrayed in such a good way in books. Often times they're mostly like Tessa's mother, but Maggie is a sign that family doesn't have to be blood-related.

Another thing I liked about Darkest Corners is the fact that Tessa and Callie managed to restore the bond they had before with everything going on. Their friendship was damaged as children after what happened and both felt as if the other abandoned them in a way. But the fact that even after Callie and Tessa solved everything and still wanted to keep in touch brought a smile to my face. I feel like their past alone should strengthen their friendship and forever connect them. I was also happy that Callie's parents did that for her in the end because she truly needed it.  But speaking of the end, what a way to leave us with questions in the epilogue Kara. Readers are definitely going to be wondering about that character and how she ended up in that situation. I know I am definitely curious. 

Overall, an intriguing story with unpredictability you'll enjoy. The writing is quick and fluid; the setting is dark and suspenseful. And even though these characters aren't like the usual ones from sugary YA books, I still felt a connection to them, and the mystery of who the killer was and what was going on with Tessa's family had me locked in the story from start to finish. I recommend giving this one a read. Beware, though, it is creepy.

About the Author
FullSizeRenderKara is the author of THE DARKEST CORNERS, coming from Penguin Random House/Delacorte Press in Spring 2016. She also wrote the Prep School Confidential series (St. Martin’s Press) and the pilot The Revengers for the CW under the pen name Kara Taylor. She’s represented by Suzie Townsend of New Leaf Literary & Media for books and United Talent Agency and Brillstein Entertainment Partners for film. You can find her on TwitterInstagram, or on the couch with her rescue cat, Felix.

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