Mini Reviews: Unraveled, Unrequited and Unwritten by Jen Frederick

I was finally able to finish my series binge of Jen Frederick’s Woodlands series this past week. Rather than post each review separately, I am going to post all three reviews at once. So, here we go!


Unraveled
Woodlands, #3
Publication Date: January 18, 2014

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Twenty-five-year-old Sgt. Gray Phillips is at a crossroads in his life: stay in the Marine Corps or get out and learn to be a civilian? He’s got forty-five days of leave to make up his mind but the people in his life aren’t making the decision any easier. His dad wants him to get out; his grandfather wants him to stay in. And his growing feelings for Sam Anderson are wreaking havoc with his heart…and his mind. He believes relationships get ruined when a Marine goes on deployment. So now he’s got an even harder decision to make: take a chance on Sam or leave love behind and give his all to the Marines.

Twenty-two year old Samantha Anderson lost her husband to an IED in Afghanistan just two months after their vows. Two years later, Sam is full of regrets—that she didn’t move with her husband to Alaska; that she allowed her friends to drift away; that she hasn’t taken many chances in life. Now, she’s met Gray and taking a risk on this Marine could be her one opportunity to feel alive and in love again. But how can she risk her heart on another military man who could share the same tragic fate as her husband?

My review:

I absolutely loved this military romance between an army widow and a Marine. There was so much depth to the story. It was all about healing and living the best life possible. I liked that it brought me back to the Woodlands, but wasn’t about one of the main guys who lived there. It gave the story a completely different feel than the rest of the series.

Sam was a really complex character. I could feel the two different sides of Sam. One side was an older Army widow who feelings of guilt and heartache. The other side was a twenty-two year-old young woman who wanted to be an adventurous young adult. Meeting Gray was the best thing that could have happened to her. I love the ability to heal being around him gave her. I loved Gray. He was a good guy with his own cross to bear. His wasn’t as hard as Sam’s, but it threw some great twists in their story.

Unspoken is still my favorite Woodlands book, but Unraveled is a close second. I can see the progression and improvement in Jen Frederick’s writing with each book.


Unrequited
Woodlands, #4
Publication Date: April 13, 2015

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Synopsis:

Winter Donovan loves two things: her sister and her sister’s ex boyfriend. She’s spent her whole life doing the right thing except that one time, that night when Finn O’Malley looked hollowed out by his father’s death. Then she did something very wrong that felt terribly right.

Finn can’t stop thinking about Winter and the night and he’ll do anything to make her a permanent part of his life, even if it means separating Winter from the only family she has.

Their love was supposed to be unrequited but one grief stricken guy and one girl with too big of a heart results in disastrous consequences.

My review:

I’m not the biggest fan of romances between a woman and her sister’s ex, but this one works. I think it helped that I didn’t like Ivy, Winter’s sister. She was a hag. The more I found about Ivy and Finn’s previous relationship, the more Winter’s relationship with Finn the less it bothered me.

Winter was a sweet young woman. She cared a lot about people. I really liked her and how she tried to put the good of her family first. I loved her when she grew a backbone and stood up for what she wanted. Finn was a cool guy. He’d had some tough blows in life, but he also did what was needed. I loved Winter and Finn together. Although, I did get tired of hearing about her nipples.

Overall, Unrequited was a fun read and strong addition to the Woodlands series.


Unwritten
Woodlands, #5
Publication Date: March 6, 2017

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Synopsis:

After years of trying to hit it big with his band, Adam Rees’ dream is finally about to come true. A new lead singer brings with him a hot tour invite, but with a catch—his sister has to come with them. Despite an off-limits edict, Adam is instantly attracted the smart and beautiful Landry. But if he wants to claim his woman, it might be at the expense of all his ambitions.

Landry Olsen has had success at every stage of her life, except when it comes to men. She’s put her heart on the shelf, but one look at Adam and she’s a goner. The hot rocker heats her from the inside out, and she wants him as much as he wants her. The only thing standing in their way of their happiness is Landry’s brother—she ruined his musical hopes before, and she won’t do it again. Even if it means saying no to the one guy who makes her believe in love again.

There’s no fruit more tempting than the forbidden kind…


I’ve read several rock star romances that are similar to Unwritten in the past year. It’s basically a tour bus romance. Unwritten stands out from the rest based on Jen Frederick’s awesome writing and the love I already had for Adam prior to reading this book.

What made Unwritten stand out from other rock star tour romances was Landry’s reason for being on tour with FMK. I won’t giveaway why she’s forced to go on tour with her brother and his band, but I thought it added a lot to the story. My favorite part of this book was getting to know Adam better. I didn’t know all the layers he had. It was interesting to hear what people in his industry thought of him and his past. I also really enjoyed the forbidden aspect of Adam and Landry’s relationship. It was a lot of fun and super hot!

The only thing I would have liked was if Adam and Landry spent more time in the Woodlands. The few glimpses I saw of the old gang were fun, but I need more of them and less of the new characters.


Overall, the Woodlands series is a really great read. You can find my reviews for the first two books by clicking on the links below.

Undeclared (Woodlands, #1) and Undressed (Woodlands, #1.5)
Unspoken (Woodlands, #2)

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books You Won’t Want To Put Down

Top Ten Tuesday is an original weekly feature created by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme is Read In One Sitting Theme: ten of the shortest books I’ve read, top ten books I read in one sitting, ten books to read when you are short on time, top ten books that will make you read the whole day away, etc. Since I can easily read many books in a day given enough free time, I’m going with Ten Books You Won’t Want To Put Down. It’s kind of along the lines of books that will make you read the whole day.


1. A Boy Like You
Ginger Scott

 They say everyone’s a superhero to someone. I’m not sure who I’m supposed to save, but I know who saved me.

We were kids. His name was Christopher. And up until the day he pulled me from death’s grip, he was nothing more than a boy I felt sorry for. In a blink of an eye, he became the only person who made me feel safe.

And then he disappeared.

Now I’m seventeen. I’m not a kid anymore. I haven’t been for years. While death didn’t take me that day, the things that happened left me with scars—the kind that robbed me of everything I once loved and drove me into darkness. But more than anything else, that day—and every day since—has taken away my desire to dream.

I wasn’t going to have hope. I wouldn’t let myself wish. Those things—they weren’t for girls like me. That’s what I believed…until the new boy.

He’s nothing like the old boy. He’s taller and older. His hair is longer, and his body is lean—strong and ready for anything. I don’t feel sorry for him. And sometimes, I hate him. He challenges me. From the moment I first saw him standing there on the baseball field, he pushed me—his eyes constantly questioning, doubting…daring. Still, something about him—it feels…familiar.

He says his name is Wes. But I can’t help but feel like he’s someone else. Someone from my past. Someone who’s come back to save me.

This time, though, he’s too late. Josselyn Winters, the girl he once knew, is gone. I am the threat; I am my worst enemy. And he can’t save me from myself.


2. Full Tilt
Emma Scott

 “I would love you forever, if I only had the chance…”

Kacey Dawson has always lived life on the edge–impulsively, sometimes recklessly. And now, as lead guitarist for a hot up-and-coming band, she is poised at the brink of fame and fortune. But she is torn between wanting to be a serious musician, and the demons that lure her down the glittering, but alcohol-soaked path of rock stardom. A wrecked concert in Las Vegas threatens to ruin her career entirely. She wakes up with the hangover from hell and no memory of the night before, or how she ended up on her limo driver’s couch…

Jonah Fletcher is running out of time. He knows his situation is hopeless, and he’s vowed to make the most of the handful of months he has left to him. His plans include seeing the opening of his glass installation at a prestigious art gallery…they do not include falling in love with a wild, tempestuous rock musician who wound up passed out on his couch.

Jonah sees that Kacey is on a path to self-destruction. He lets her crash with him for a few days to dry out and get her head on straight. But neither of them expected the deep connection they felt, or how that connection could grow so fast from friendship into something more. Something deep and pure and life-changing…something as fragile as glass, that they both know will shatter in the end no matter how hard they try to hold on to it.

Full Tilt is a story about what it means to love with your whole heart, to sacrifice, to experience terrible grief and soaring joy. To live life with all its beauty, and all its pain, and in the end to be able to smile through tears and know you wouldn’t have changed a thing.


3. Addicted to You
Krista & Becca Ritchie

She’s addicted to sex. He’s addicted to booze…the only way out is rock bottom.

No one would suspect shy Lily Calloway’s biggest secret. While everyone is dancing at college bars, Lily stays in the bathroom. To get laid. Her compulsion leads her to one-night stands, steamy hookups and events she shamefully regrets. The only person who knows her secret happens to have one of his own.

Loren Hale’s best friend is his bottle of bourbon. Lily comes at a close second. For three years, they’ve pretended to be in a real relationship, hiding their addictions from their families. They’ve mastered the art of concealing flasks and random guys that filter in and out of their apartment.

But as they sink beneath the weight of their addictions, they cling harder to their destructive relationship and wonder if a life together, for real, is better than a lie. Strangers and family begin to infiltrate their guarded lives, and with new challenges, they realize they may not just be addicted to alcohol and sex.

Their real vice may be each other.


4. The Hard Count
Ginger Scott

 Nico Medina’s world is eleven miles away from mine. During the day, it’s a place where doors are open—where homes are lived in, and neighbors love. But when the sun sets, it becomes a place where young boys are afraid, where eyes watch from idling cars that hide in the shadows and wicked smoke flows from pipes.

West End is the kind of place that people survive. It buries them—one at a time, one way or another. And when Nico was a little boy, his mom always told him to run.

I’m Reagan Prescott—coach’s daughter, sister to the prodigal son, daughter in the perfect family.
Life on top.
Lies.
My world is the ugly one. Private school politics and one of the best high school football programs in the country can break even the toughest souls. Our darkness plays out in whispers and rumors, and money and status trump all. I would know—I’ve watched it kill my family slowly, strangling us for years.

In our twisted world, a boy from West End is the only shining light.
Quarterback.
Hero.
Heart.
Good.
I hated him before I needed him.
I fell for him fast.
I loved him when it was almost too late.

When two ugly worlds collide, even the strongest fall. But my world…it hasn’t met the boy from West End.


5. Paper Princess
Erin Watt

 From strip clubs and truck stops to southern coast mansions and prep schools, one girl tries to stay true to herself.

These Royals will ruin you…

Ella Harper is a survivor—a pragmatic optimist. She’s spent her whole life moving from town to town with her flighty mother, struggling to make ends meet and believing that someday she’ll climb out of the gutter. After her mother’s death, Ella is truly alone.

Until Callum Royal appears, plucking Ella out of poverty and tossing her into his posh mansion among his five sons who all hate her. Each Royal boy is more magnetic than the last, but none as captivating as Reed Royal, the boy who is determined to send her back to the slums she came from.

Reed doesn’t want her. He says she doesn’t belong with the Royals.

He might be right.

Wealth. Excess. Deception. It’s like nothing Ella has ever experienced, and if she’s going to survive her time in the Royal palace, she’ll need to learn to issue her own Royal decrees.


6. Too Late
Colleen Hoover

 Sloan will go through hell and back for her little brother. And she does, every single night.

Forced to remain in a relationship with the dangerous and corrupt Asa Jackson, Sloan will do whatever it takes to make sure her brother has what he needs.

Nothing will get in her way.

Nothing except Carter.

Sloan is the only good thing to ever happen to Asa. He knows this and he never plans on letting her go; even if she doesn’t approve of his lifestyle. But despite Sloan’s disapproval, Asa knows what it takes to get what he wants. He knows what he needs to do to remain on top.

Nothing will get in his way.

Nothing except Carter.


7. Calendar Girl
Audrey Carlan

 It’s really simple. I needed money. A lot of money. One million dollars to be exact. The amount didn’t matter. All that mattered is that at the end of that price tag held my father’s life.

No money. No life.

The time limit was one year. On January 1st I had to pay up or my Father was going to be killed.

When you’re faced with an ultimatum like this, you do whatever you have to do.

And that’s exactly what I did.

The job…Exquisite Escorts. My role, serve as high priced arm candy to anyone that can afford the $100,000 price tag for a month of my company. Sex is optional (for me) and a 20% increase on the price.

Mia Saunders just barely escaped a paltry life back home in Las Vegas until she gets the call that her Father has been beaten to within an inch of his life for not paying his gambling debt. Problem is, the lone shark is her lousy, ruthless ex-boyfriend. Another guy in a long line of men she’d fallen head over heels for. Not anymore.

Mia’s mission is simple. Serve as a high-priced escort for her Aunt’s company and pay monthly against her Father’s bad debt. A month with a rich man who she doesn’t have to sleep with if she doesn’t want to? Easy money. At least that’s the way it was supposed to go.


8. Nine Minutes
Beth Flynn

 On May 15, 1975, fifteen-year-old Ginny Lemon is abducted from a convenience store in Fort Lauderdale by a member of one of the most notorious and brutal motorcycle gangs in South Florida.

From that moment on, her life is forever changed. She gets a new name, a new identity and a new life in the midst of the gang’s base on the edge of the Florida Everglades—a frightening, rough and violent world much like the swamps themselves, where everyone has an alias and loyalty is tantamount to survival.

And at the center of it all is the gang’s leader, Grizz: massive, ruggedly handsome, terrifying and somehow, when it comes to Ginny, tender. She becomes his obsession and the one true love of his life.

So begins a tale of emotional obsession and manipulation, of a young woman ripped from everything she knows and forced to lean on the one person who provides attention, affection and care: her captor. Precocious and intelligent, but still very much a teenager, Ginny struggles to adapt to her existence, initially fighting and then coming to terms with her captivity.

Will she be rescued? Will she escape? Will she get out alive—or get out at all? Part psychological thriller, part coming-of-age novel, filled with mystery, romance and unexpected turns, Nine Minutes takes readers into the world of one motorcycle gang and inside the heart of a young girl, whose abduction brought about its fall.


10. One Kick
Chelsea Cain

 Kick Lannigan, 21, is a survivor. Abducted at age six in broad daylight, the police, the public, perhaps even her family assumed the worst had occurred. And then Kathleen Lannigan was found, alive, six years later. In the early months following her freedom, as Kick struggled with PTSD, her parents put her through a litany of therapies, but nothing helped until the detective who rescued her suggested Kick learn to fight. Before she was thirteen, Kick learned marksmanship, martial arts, boxing, archery, and knife throwing. She excelled at every one, vowing she would never be victimized again. But when two children in the Portland area go missing in the same month, Kick goes into a tailspin. Then an enigmatic man Bishop approaches her with a proposition: he is convinced Kick’s experiences and expertise can be used to help rescue the abductees. Little does Kick know the case will lead directly into her terrifying past…


What books have you not been able to put down?

Review: Twist by Kylie Scott

Twist
Series: Dive Bar, #2
Author: Kylie Scott
Publication Date: April 11, 2017
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Note: I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Synopsis:

When his younger brother loses interest in online dating, hot, bearded, bartender extraordinaire, Joe Collins, only intends to log into his account and shut it down. Until he reads about her.

Alex Parks is funny, friendly, and pretty much everything he’s been looking for in a woman. And in no time at all they’re emailing up a storm, telling each other their deepest darkest secrets… apart from the one that really matters.

And when it comes to love, serving it straight up works better than with a twist.


First, I need to admit that when I started Twist it had been a while since I read the blurb. I had completely forgotten what it was supposed to be about. That completely worked in my favor. When Alex shows up in Idaho to the big surprise of Eric not being Eric but Joe, I was just as surprised as she was. I could feel her mortification. Her predicament was so embarrassing! I felt so bad for Alex, but I loved the big bang it created for the beginning of this romance.

I loved Joe, but I understood why Alex hung onto her anger at him. He could have been the handsomest man on the planet and he would have deserved a good punch. I’m just happy he had the opportunity to make things up to Alex. Joe was such a great guy, and they were so cute together.

I loved all of the other characters I met in Twist, too. They all had distinct personalities and funny quirks. It makes me excited to read more from this series. I can’t wait to see what’s next.

Twist was my first Kylie Scott book, but it won’t be my last. I truly enjoyed her writing style. The only thing I would have liked more in Twist was a dual point of view. It was written in first person from Alex’s perspective. I would have liked to know what Joe was thinking the entire time. Other than that, Twist was a very fun read. Contemporary romance fans are going to love it.

Review: Altercation by Mignon Mykel

Altercation
Series: Playmaker Duet, #1
Author: Mignon Mykel
Publication Date: March 21, 2017
Genre: New Adult, Sports Romance, Contemporary
Note: I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Sometimes it’s the fight that proves your worth.

Porter Prescott spent years fighting to be his own person.
His goal of playing for a hockey club not associated with the Prescott name finally comes true.
But just as he’s leaving for the next chapter in his life, he meets her.

Asher Spence spent a lifetime learning she was worthless and unwanted.
She learned that sometimes the only person you can count on is yourself, and even then, you can fail.

What starts out as picture perfect can only come crumbling down.
No one listened to her pleas before,
Why should they listen to them now that she’s found a place to finally call home?

But sometimes, it’s the fight that takes you out of the game.

Note: This is book 1 of 2 in the Porter and Asher story. This does end with a cliffhanger that will be resolved in book 2, Holding.


I’ve been waiting to read Altercation ever since I finished its prequels, Troublemaker and Breakaway. (Click on the titles of the prequels for my reviews.) Getting to know Porter and Asher’s pasts was both heartbreaking and addicting. Their stories made me hunger for a happy ending for them both. I couldn’t wait to find out how Mignon Mykel was going to navigate their struggles and make them wind up together.

Altercation begins where the prequels end with Porter and Asher meeting. There’s an instant attraction between them, especially for Porter. He immediately picks up on the fact that Asher is more complicated than she’s letting on. That (along with the fact that he’s moving to another state for his hockey career) should deter the nineteen year old’s interested in her, but it instead makes him want to know more about Asher.

Asher is just as attracted to Porter, but she knows nothing will come of her attraction. She’s found a temporary family within Porter’s and she’s not willing to give up her newfound happiness and safety. Nor does Asher think she’ll be able to have the relationship with Porter he would expect. Despite her reservations, it doesn’t take long for Porter to convince Asher to give him a chance.

With each book I read from Mignon Mykel, I fall further and further in love with her writing and the love stories she crafts. Her first person dual points of view was amazing in Altercation. Porter and Asher had two very distinctive voices and their histories melded so well together. I also loved getting to see a little bit more of the large Prescott family — I hope I get books about each sibling!

Porter surprised me a lot in this book. I knew he was a great guy, but I wasn’t expecting the patience he had for a young man. He truly cared about Asher’s well-being and it made me love him even more. Porter created a slow burn romance with Asher and controlled himself better than any book boyfriend I’ve ever read. He was almost a saint.

Asher was the more complicated of the characters. Her story broke my heart, but I loved that it was Porter who helped her restore faith in life and love. Their relationship was adorable. I loved how Mignon Mykel made it span not just weeks or months, but years. It was the perfect progression for Asher and Porter’s love story.

Altercation was just as good as I was expecting it to be. Watching Porter and Asher falling in love was so sweet and satisfying. I loved the twists and turns to their story. I was shocked by the cliffhanger at the end, even though I knew it was coming. I can’t wait to find out what’s next for Porter and Asher in Holding.

Review: Johnny and Jamaal by K.M. Breakey

Johnny and Jamaal
Author: K.M. Breakey
Publication Date: June 20, 2016
Publisher: K.M. Breakey
Genre: New Adult, Sports, Political, Fiction
Note: I received an electronic copy of this book from the author in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

Two athletes from different planets are on the verge of greatness. Johnny’s a carefree Canadian making his mark in the NHL. Jamaal’s set to follow LeBron and Kyrie out of the ghetto. When their worlds collide, the catastrophic clash ignites racial conflict not seen since Ferguson. The incident tests the fledgling love of Johnny’s best friend Lucas and his African-American girlfriend Chantal, and sets them on a quest for truth and justice in the perverse racial landscape of 2016.

As chaos escalates across American cities, an MLK-like voice rises from the ashes. Wilbur Rufus Holmes may be salvation for Luke and Chantal, but can he stop society’s relentless descent into racial discord?

Johnny and Jamaal is awash with sports, violence and political taboo, as America’s seething dysfunction is laid bare.


I’m not the most political person. I have my views, but I try to keep them to myself for the most part. I also tend to shy away from books that revolve around a political theme. If I do read one that has a political nature, it’s normally a contemporary romance. When I read, I’m looking for an escape from every day life. I’m putting this out there because Johnny and Jamaal is a story crafted around today’s social and political environment. It’s not what I would normally read, and it was a harder book for me to enjoy.

I, like the author, come from the Northwest. The struggles the characters face in Johnny and Jamaal are not right in front of my face all of the time. Pretty much the only time I am faced with them is when watching the news. This made Johnny and Jamaal interesting to me, but uncomfortable to read. That wasn’t a good or bad thing, it just was.

K.M. Breakey is a talented writer, and was good at getting his ideologies across. Johnny and Jamaal was an engaging novel that made me think. Many readers will appreciate the multitude of topics it deals with. It may cause them to examine their thoughts and beliefs.

While Johnny and Jamaal isn’t what I would normally reach for when I’m sitting down to read, it was a timely look at what’s going on in the sociopolitical world of the United States (and Canada) today.

Review: The Last Thing You Said by Sara Biren

The Last Thing You Said
Author: Sara Biren
Publication Date: April 4, 2017
Publisher: Amulet Books
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance
Note: I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Last summer, Lucy’s and Ben’s lives changed in an instant. One moment, they were shyly flirting on a lake raft, finally about to admit their feelings to each other after years of yearning. In the next, Trixie—Lucy’s best friend and Ben’s sister—was gone, her heart giving out during a routine swim. And just like that, the idyllic world they knew turned upside down, and the would-be couple drifted apart, swallowed up by their grief. Now it’s a year later in their small lake town, and as the anniversary of Trixie’s death looms, Lucy and Ben’s undeniable connection pulls them back together. They can’t change what happened the day they lost Trixie, but the summer might finally bring them closer to healing—and to each other.


The Last Thing You Said is a coming of novel about two young people dealing with the grief of losing someone close to them. Lucy’s life changed the moment she lost her best friend, Trixie. She no longer has the brave best friend by her side to give her courage. Not only did she lose Trixie, though. She also lost Trixie’s brother, Ben.

Ben can’t forgive himself for what he couldn’t do the day Trixie died. His grief has caused him to push away the people he loved the most. One of those people is his sister’s best friend, Lucy. He can’t stop thinking about Lucy, but he knows there’s nothing he can do to make up for the way he’s acted.

After a year of carefully avoiding each other, Ben and Trixie are forced to see each other at their summer jobs. Despite the pain of the past year, neither can stop thinking about what could have been.

The Last Thing You Said broke my heart over and over again. It did it slowly, throughout the entire book. The pain each character felt crushed me and made me yearn for better times for Lucy and Ben. Their pain was so raw. I wanted to lock them in a room and force them to talk to each other.

Ben was a tough character to like. I wanted to give him a good shake! The way he treated Lucy and everyone around him was frustrating. I hated how he became dependent on alcohol to numb his pain. His way of coping hurt more than it helped, and it was painful to read. I wanted him to dig himself out of the hole he was creating.

I loved Lucy, but she made me so sad. I remember what it was like to have my heart-broken and I empathized with her pain. She knew the way he treated her was horrible and she shouldn’t want to be with him anymore, but she couldn’t stop her feelings for him. It was painful to feel her discomfort every time she saw Ben. I liked that Lucy tried hard to move on, even if the way she did it wasn’t the best.

No matter how painful The Last Thing You Said was to read at times, I still loved it. Ben frustrated the heck out of me and Lucy made me want to cry, but I couldn’t put the book down. I loved it. It was so beautifully written and filled with emotion. Even when I hated something a character was doing, I loved them. I wanted to see them overcome their problems and be happy.

I can’t believe this is Sara Biren’s debut novel. Reading The Last Thing You Said felt like reading a book from a seasoned author. It felt so real and raw. I’m incredibly excited to see what comes next from her.

Review: Iluminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

Illuminae
Series: The Illuminae Files _01
Authors: Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff
Publication Date: October 20, 2015
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do. This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.

BRIEFING NOTE: Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.


Umm….My mind is pretty much blown from reading this book. Excuse me as I try to make any sense in this review. It’s probably going to be one big ramble!

Illuminae was pure genius. Everything about it was amazing. I loved the way the story was presented. The format was so very smart. It made the story fast-paced and easy to become engaged in. I credit the format for making me, a non science fiction fan, a lover of this book. Well, the format and the characters.

I absolutely loved Kady and Ethan. I was amazed at how well I got to know them and how well developed their characters were despite Illuminae not being told directly from their point of views. Their communications were probably my favorite in the entire book. I couldn’t help root for them. I also loved every supporting character I got a glimpse of throughout this tale.

Honestly, I have no clue what else to say. Illuminae had been sitting on my shelf waiting to be read for over a year. I’m pretty mad that I let it sit all this time. It is totally worth any and all hype it’s received. Don’t be like me and wait any longer to read this book. Push it up to the top of your TBR list now.

Now, excuse me while I go purchase Gemina.

Review: Lost Stars by Lisa Selin Davis

Lost Stars
Author: Lisa Selin Davis
Publication Date: October 4, 2016
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Note: I won a copy of this book from Rockstar Book Tours.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

Before her older sister, Ginny, died, Carrie was a science nerd, obsessively tracking her beloved Vira comet. But now that Ginny is gone, sixteen-year-old Carrie finds herself within the orbit of Ginny’s friends, a close-knit group of seniors who skip school, obsess over bands (not science), and party hard.

Fed up with Carrie’s behavior, her father enrolls her in a summer work camp at a local state park. Carrie actually likes the days spent in nature. And when she meets Dean, a guy who likes the real Carrie—astrophysics obsessions and all—she starts to get to the heart of who she is and who she wants to be.


Lost Stars is a story about a young woman learning to accept the cards life has dealt her.

Nothing is as it should be in Carrie’s life. Her sister’s dead, her mom’s MIA, and her dad is just plain mean. All that Carrie has left to make her world a decent place are her sister’s friends. They’ve taken her under their wings, and been there when she needed them. Those same friends have helped Carrie discover ways to avoid dealing with her sister’s death. But those ways now have Carrie stuck in a summer work program. It’s not Carrie’s ideal summer, but things start to look brighter when Carrie meets her new neighbor, Dean.

Carrie was one of those characters I wanted to love, but didn’t. I couldn’t connect with her. She acted immature, and her attitude sucked. I understood the way she dealt with her life, but her attitude made her unlikable. I couldn’t see a spark of anything that made me like her until the very end. Not that she didn’t have any good qualities. I loved how smart and into science she was. I wish I would have experienced a more happy Carrie with her focus on that.

I liked Dean and the little bit of mystery behind his character. His acceptance of Carrie from the beginning was really cool. I loved what he brought to the story and the push his presence gave her. I do kind of wish it hadn’t taken a boy to start Carrie in the right direction, though.

What I loved most about Lost Stars was the ability to see the growth Carrie made throughout the story. This book was truly about a girl who lost her way and found it once she was willing to look beyond herself to realize not everything was about her. It’s an important life lesson for young adults to learn, and I liked how it was presented in this story. It’s sure to resonate with many readers.

Review: Goodbye Paradise by Sarina Bowen

Goodbye Paradise
Series: Hello Goodbye, #1
Author: Sarina Bowen
Publication Date: March 21, 2015 (previously published as In Front of God and Everyone in 2015)
Publisher: Sarina Bowen
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance, LGBTQ+
Note: I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Most people called it a cult. But for twenty years, Josh and Caleb called it home.

In Paradise, there is no television. No fast food. Just long hours of farm work and prayer on a dusty Wyoming ranch, and nights in a crowded bunkhouse. The boys of the Compound are kept far from the sinners’ world.

But Joshua doesn’t need temptation to sin. His whole life, he’s wanted his best friend, Caleb. By day they work side by side. Only when Josh closes his eyes at night can they be together the way he craves.

It can never be. And his survival depends on keeping his terrible desires secret.

Caleb has always protected Josh against the worst of the bullying at the Compound. But he has secrets of his own, and a plan to get away — until it all backfires.

Josh finds himself homeless in a world that doesn’t want him. Can Caleb find him in time? And will they find a place of safety, where he can admit to Josh how he really feels?

Warning: Contains a hot male/male romance, copious instances of taking the Lord’s name in vain, and love against the kitchen counter. This book was previously released under the title: In Front of God & Everyone.


I had no idea Sarina Bowen had published a M/M romance series under another name. I am so happy she decided to rerelease Goodbye Paradise because I probably never would have found out about these books without her doing it. That would have been a travesty because I love Sarina Bowen’s writing, and Goodbye Paradise was outstanding.

Goodbye Paradise captured my heart from the very beginning. I was immediately pulled in by Josh and Caleb’s thoughts and experiences in the Paradise cult. I also enjoyed experiencing all their new experiences through their eyes once they left the cult. Their world was fascinating to me. I was so impressed with the settings and characters Sarina Bowen created in this book.

Both Josh and Caleb were amazing characters. Caleb was a protector with Josh’s best interests at heart. He knew what he wanted and went for it, but he did so in such a sweet and controlled manner. I loved his inner strength and confidence. I absolutely adored Josh. I have to admit that he was my favorite. He may not have had the strength that Caleb had, but his soul was beautiful. Josh radiated kindness. His thoughts of inadequacy and his internal struggles with what was right and wrong were easy to connect to. There was so much depth to his journey.

Caleb and Josh’s romance wasn’t an easy one. Coming from the cult, they both had different ideas of how their lives together should progress. They not only had to navigate through concerns of what others would think of their relationship, but they had to discover and experiment to learn what type of physical relationship worked for them. The love and understanding between the two of them was very sweet.

Another amazing thing about Goodbye Paradise were its side characters. Everyone Caleb and Josh met along the way was special and contributed to their journey. I especially loved Daniel, Maggie and Chloe. Their support of the boys was heartwarming. I loved the family they made.

Goodbye Paradise has taken a special place in my heart — right behind Him and Us. I loved every minute of Caleb and Josh’s journey to freedom and love. Their story was such a special one, and M/M romance fans are not going to want to miss out on it. I also can’t forget to mention that fans of the True North series are going to love the little mentions here and there about some of their favorite people. 😉 I can’t wait to read the next book in this series!

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon: http://geni.us/GPamazon
iBooks: soon
B&N: http://geni.us/GPnook
Kobo: http://geni.us/GPkobo
Google: http://geni.us/GPgoogle

COMING SOON:

Hello Forever
Hello Goodbye, Book 2

Top Ten Tuesday: Spring TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is an original weekly feature created by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme is Top Ten Books On My Spring TBR. Here are ten books I can’t wait to read this spring.


1. Say I’m Yours by Corinne Michaels
Release Date: March 27, 2017

 I spent twenty years waiting for Trent Hennington to open his eyes and see me. But it was all for nothing. He chose to keep himself guarded and let me walk away, proving that my time and efforts were wasted.

I’m done being invisible.
It’s time to move on.

A single dance sets my new reality into motion, and I welcome it. After all, Cooper Townsend is perfect. He’s kind, sexy, and attentive—everything a girl could want.

I thought I got it right this time.
That my heart could mend, and I would be happy.
Apparently, some things really are just too hard to walk away from.


2. Unwritten by Jen Frederick
Release Date: March 6, 2017

 After years of trying to hit it big with his band, Adam Rees’ dream is finally about to come true. A new lead singer brings with him a hot tour invite, but with a catch—his sister has to come with them. Despite an off-limits edict, Adam is instantly attracted the smart and beautiful Landry. But if he wants to claim his woman, it might be at the expense of all his ambitions.

Landry Olsen has had success at every stage of her life, except when it comes to men. She’s put her heart on the shelf, but one look at Adam and she’s a goner. The hot rocker heats her from the inside out, and she wants him as much as he wants her. The only thing standing in their way of their happiness is Landry’s brother—she ruined his musical hopes before, and she won’t do it again. Even if it means saying no to the one guy who makes her believe in love again.

There’s no fruit more tempting than the forbidden kind…


3. Walk of Shame by Lauren Layne
Release Date: April 18, 2017

 Pampered heiress Georgianna Watkins has a party-girl image to maintain, but all the shopping and clubbing is starting to feel a little bit hollow—and a whole lot lonely. Though Georgie would never admit it, the highlights of her week are the mornings when she comes home at the same time as her uptight, workaholic neighbor is leaving to hit the gym and put in a long day at the office. Teasing him is the most fun Georgie’s had in years—and the fuel for all her naughtiest daydreams.

Celebrity divorce attorney Andrew Mulroney doesn’t have much time for women, especially spoiled tabloid princesses who spend more time on Page Six than at an actual job. Although Georgie’s drop-dead gorgeous, she’s also everything Andrew resents: the type of girl who inherited her penthouse instead of earning it. But after Andrew caps one of their predawn sparring sessions with a surprise kiss—a kiss that’s caught on camera—all of Manhattan is gossiping about whether they’re a real couple. And nobody’s more surprised than Andrew to find that the answer just might be yes.


4. 180 Seconds by Jessica Park
Release Date: April 25, 2017

 Some people live their entire lives without changing their perspective. For Allison Dennis, all it takes is 180 seconds…

After a life spent bouncing from one foster home to the next, Allison is determined to keep others at arm’s length. Adopted at sixteen, she knows better than to believe in the permanence of anything. But as she begins her third year in college, she finds it increasingly difficult to disappear into the white noise pouring from her earbuds.

One unsuspecting afternoon, Allison is roped into a social experiment just off campus. Suddenly, she finds herself in front of a crowd, forced to interact with a complete stranger for 180 seconds. Neither she, nor Esben Baylor, the dreamy social media star seated opposite her, is prepared for the outcome.

When time is called, the intensity of the experience overwhelms Allison and Esben in a way that unnerves and electrifies them both. With a push from her oldest friend, Allison embarks on a journey to find out if what she and Esben shared is the real thing—and if she can finally trust in herself, in others, and in love.


5. When It’s Real by Erin Watt
Release Date: May 1, 2017

 From #1 New York Times bestselling author duo Erin Watt comes the addictive contemporary tale of a teen rock star in need of an image makeover and the teen girl hired to be his fake girlfriend.

Meet Oakley Ford-teen celebrity, renowned pop star, child of famous movie stars, hottie with millions of fangirls… and restless troublemaker. On the surface he has it all, but with his home life disintegrating, his music well suddenly running dry, and the tabloids having a field day over his outrageous exploits, Oakley’s team decides it’s time for an intervention. The result: an image overhaul, complete with a fake girlfriend meant to show the world he’s settled down.

Enter seventeen-year-old Vaughn Bennett-devoted sister, part-time waitress, the definition of “normal.” Under ordinary circumstances she’d never have taken this gig, but with her family strapped for cash, she doesn’t have much of a choice. And for the money Oakley’s team is paying her, she figures she can put up with outlandish Hollywood parties and a team of publicists watching her every move. So what if she thinks Oakley’s a shallow, self-centered jerk? It’s not like they’re going to fall for each other in real life…right?


6. Joy Ride by Lauren Blakely
Release Date: May 30, 2017

 Let’s be honest, ladies. A good man is a lot like the perfect car. You want a hot body, an engine that purrs, and superior performance under the hood. You probably also crave a ride that can go all night long.

I’m at your service.

Like the custom cars I build with class and sophistication, that’s exactly how I treat a woman, even if it’s for one night only. But then a wildly sexy brunette appears in my life and throws a wrench in all my plans.

She’s fiery, she’s talented, she’s gorgeous, and she’s my biggest rival.

But wait. There’s more. This woman I’m ridiculously attracted to also loathes me. That ought to be easy to deal with, except we’re forced to work together on the most important build of my career. Every day I spend with her, we set new records for trading barbs and dirty innuendos, and every night I’m left wondering if maybe all that hate is really something else. Until one night, that question is answered on the hood of a sports car when she calls out my name three times. And we can’t seem to put on the brakes.

If sleeping with the enemy is a bad idea, how much more dangerous would it be to fall in love with her?


7. The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord
Release Date: May 16, 2017

 Lucy Hansson was ready for a perfect summer with her boyfriend, working at her childhood Bible camp on the lake. But when her mom’s cancer reappears, Lucy falters—in faith, in love, and in her ability to cope. When her boyfriend “pauses” their relationship and her summer job switches to a different camp—one for troubled kids—Lucy isn’t sure how much more she can handle. Attempting to accept a new normal, Lucy slowly regains footing among her vibrant, diverse coworkers, Sundays with her mom, and a crush on a fellow counselor. But when long-hidden family secrets emerge, can Lucy set aside her problems and discover what grace really means?


8. Buns by Alice Clayton
Release Date: May 23, 2017

 Clara Morgan is living the dream, if you can call rebranding hotels that are desperate for a new life and running any kind of marathon a dream. Which she does. But the career she loves and the endurance races that keep her adrenaline pumping have kept her too busy to put down any roots. Growing up in foster care, she’s never been able to establish traditions of her own, which may be why she’s fascinated by the rituals that generations-old family resorts are known for. She’s especially interested in the Bryant Mountain House, and not just for their secret recipe for the yummy, gooey, can’t-get-enough-of Hot Cross Buns….

Archie Bryant, the man with the Buns, is fifth generation and one-day-owner of the charming yet run-down Bryant Mountain House in Bailey Falls, New York. He’s determined to save his family’s legacy from the wrecking ball the old-fashioned way—by gritting his teeth and doing what needs to be done. There’s no way Archie will be influenced by the new hotel branding expert his father brought in to turn one hundred and fifty years of tradition on its head just to attract a faster, younger, slicker crowd. But when some of Clara’s ideas start bringing in new, paying customers, Archie can’t deny that she may have just given him a shot at keeping his resort open.

It’s sticky, it’s messy, it’s sweet, it’s Buns.


9. Pipe Dreams by Sarina Bowen
Release Date: May 2, 2017

 A goalie has to trust his instincts, even when taking a shot to the heart…

Mike Beacon is a champion at defending the net, but off the ice, he’s not so lucky. A widower and a single father, he’s never forgotten Lauren Williams, the ex who gave him the best year of his life. When Lauren reappears in the Bruisers office during the playoffs, Beacon sees his chance to make things right.

Lauren hates that she’s forced to travel with the team she used to work for and the man who broke her heart. There’s still undeniable sexual tension running between her and Mike, but she won’t go down that road again. She’s focused on her plans for the future—she doesn’t need a man to make her dreams of motherhood come true.

Lauren plays her best defensive game, but she’s no match for the dark-eyed goalie. When the field of play moves to Florida, things heat up on the beach.

One of Mike’s biggest fans doesn’t approve—his teenage daughter. But a true competitor knows not to waste the perfect shot at love.


10. Cheater’s Regret by Rachel Van Dyken
Release Date: May 23, 2017

 Austin Rogers’s dreams of domestic bliss involved watching Netflix and eating hot dogs with the love of her life. But then he cheated on her. And dumped her—as if the whole thing was her fault. To maintain her pride and restore her sanity, she decides to get revenge. It feels immensely satisfying to plot her ex’s downfall—but so does kissing him.

Thatch Holloway, a plastic surgeon straight out of residency, knows he ruined the best thing that ever happened to him. But not all cheaters are created equal. He got himself into this messed-up situation—true—but he has his reasons for what happened, and he’d do it all again to protect Austin.

He’s not over her. And she’s not over him.

Austin wants closure, but since Thatch refuses to give it to her, she takes matters into her own hands. She needs to write a human-interest piece for her MBA, so she demands the full plastic-surgery experience. Sparks fly as they’re forced to work together. But Thatch isn’t afraid to play dirty in return. And he’s still hiding something—something that has the power to destroy not only Austin but their second chance at finding forever…


Are any of these books on your spring TBR? Have you added any of them since reading this post?