Again

Again (Fate #4) by Elizabeth Reyes

Publication Date: August 3, 2015

Synopsis:

Twenty-nine-year-old Sydney Maricopa knows what it’s like to fall in love with his best friend. He knows how much it sucks when said best friend is in love with someone else. He’s been there, done that. He’s not going through that again.

So when Sydney meets adorably hot nineteen-year-old Emi in his apartment building, he’s determined to keep things strictly platonic. One, she’s too young for him and two, their lives are too interconnected.

It doesn’t take long for Sydney to realize he’s in way over his head. He’s in love with the girl he said he wouldn’t fall for. Once again, she has a boyfriend. But this time, Sydney’s not backing down. He’s going to tell her how he feels.

Sydney’s plan to woo Emi is on track until something he never expects happens. Now, Sydney’s stuck making a decision that could ruin their friendship and possible relationship forever.

My rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

When I saw that Elizabeth Reyes was going to be releasing Again, I was super excited for a couple of reasons. One, I love Elizabeth Reyes’ books . Two, I’ve always wondered what happened to Sidney after Forever Mine (The Moreno Brother’s #1).

I’m a big fan of Elizabeth Reyes’ novels because I absolutely love the characters she creates–especially the guys. She knows how to make the best alpha males. They’re all gorgeous, sexy, sweet, strong, smart, determined and jealous. Yes, I said jealous. It feels weird to be complimenting jealousy, but the jealousy these guys exhibit is pretty hot.

Sydney was all of those things. He may not have been as “rough” as some of the other guys from The Moreno Brothers or Fate series, but Sydney was all man. It was fun to get to know him in a way other than Sarah’s friend.

The women Reyes writes are great, too. They’re all strong, independent, beautiful and they know how to put those jealous guys in their place! Emi was all of those things, but what I liked best about her was she was just so darn adorable. Well, until her jealous side came out and then she was as crazy as any other nineteen-year-old.

My favorite thing about Again was the story of how Sydney and Emi went from friend zone to romance. I loved the way the book started out and then how I was able to see the progression of their relationship. They had such great chemistry and were so adorable. It was such a fun friends to lovers story.

I wanted to give Again 5 stars really, really bad. There were just one tiny thing that bothered me a bit. I wasn’t big on Sydney’s storyline and choice near the end. It was foreshadowed, but it felt really abrupt. I guess I was thinking it was going to go in a different direction than it did. But other than that, I loved this story!

Again is a great friends to lovers story. It’s definitely for a more mature audience. I would also recommend reading Forever Mine (The Moreno Brothers #1) prior to reading Again to be familiar with Sydney’s previous storyline. (It’s FREE to download right now on Amazon!) You wouldn’t need to read the entire series before reading Again, but there are references to friends and family from both The Moreno Brothers and Fate series.

Other books in the Fate series:

Fate (Fate, #1)  Breaking Brandon (Fate, #2)  Suspicious Minds (Fate, #3)

Books in the related The Moreno Brothers series:

Forever Mine (The Moreno Brothers, #1) Forever Yours (The Moreno Brothers, #1.5) When You Were Mine (The Moreno Brothers #1.6)  Always Been Mine (The Moreno Brothers, #2) Sweet Sofie (The Moreno Brothers, #3) Romero (The Moreno Brothers, #4) Making You Mine (The Moreno Brothers, #5)  Tangled (The Moreno Brothers #5.5)

Proof of Forever

Proof of ForeverProof of Forever by Lexa Hillyer

Publication Date:

Publisher: HarperTeen

Synopsis:

After their final summer at Camp Okahatchee, Joy, Tali, Luce and Zoe drifted apart. They were supposed to have stayed best friends, but each went their own way. They’re not really sure how it happened, but it did.

Now, two years later, Joy requests their presence at Camp Okahatchee’s reunion night. As they recreate a picture from the last summer together, a photo-booth transports them back in time to that very summer.

The girls must race against time to re-create the past so they can return to the present. Reliving the past isn’t as easy as it seems. The same secrets that tore them apart the first time, threaten to do so again. When the summer is over none of them will be the same.

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

So, I have to admit when I requested Proof of Forever from my library, I didn’t realize it revolved around time travel. I’m not sure how I missed that when I read the description. It’s blatantly obvious. I was a little worried when I re-read the blurb that I wouldn’t like the story because I’m not really a sci-fi reader. But the time travel in this book didn’t have a sci-fi feel. It was definitely a contemporary YA novel.

The writing in Proof of Forever was beautiful. I enjoyed how the author rotated between Joy, Tali, Luce and Zoe’s POV. What I loved most about the novel, though; was the way each character went from being self-centered to self-aware. It was cool to see each of them realize things about themselves and how it affected their relationships with everyone.

The only complaint I have is the big secret isn’t really a big secret to the reader. I could totally see what was coming. That wasn’t that big of deal to me.

Proof of Forever was such a fun summer book to read. It was filled with friendship, romance, and fun summer camp experiences. It made me think back to my days as a summer camper. (When did I get so old?) I enjoyed it a lot.

Five Flavors of Dumb

Five Flavors of DumbFive Flavors of Dumb by Antony John

Publication Date: November 11, 2010

Publisher: Speak

Synopsis:

North Seattle High School senior Piper is known for being smart. What she isn’t known for being is popular. So when she’s presented with the challenge to get her high schools popular band a paying gig, she accepts. There’s only one problem: Piper’s deaf. Can she manage a band without actually being able to hear them? No one but Piper seems to think so. She’ll just have to prove them wrong.

My rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

I’ve read a few books with deaf characters and Five Flavors of Dumb is definitely one of my favorites. I loved how the author portrayed Piper. She felt real to me. She was strong and witty, but definitely had her teenage issues.

Piper’s family dynamic was amazing. The problems she was having with her parents were so tough and I couldn’t help but empathize with both sides. I loved her relationship with her brother, Finn. He was one of my favorite characters in the book.

The band characters were a lot of fun. I liked how each of them had their own issues and that I got to really get to know them. I especially loved Ed.

Being from the greater Seattle-Tacoma area, the musical journey through Seattle’s famous musicians was extremely cool. I loved how The Showbox and a daily talk show (think New Day) were incorporated into the story.

Five Flavors of Dumb is a book I would highly recommend to readers looking for a great YA rock star novel with a lot of heart. There’s no sex, drugs or violence. There is school skipping, forgery and going against parents’ wishes.

Saving Toby

perf6.000x9.000.inddSaving Toby by Suzanne McKenna Link

Publication Date: August 26, 2013

Synopsis:

Everyone in town knows the Faye boys are bad news, but Claudia can only remember Toby Faye as a nice kid. So when Claudia receives a job offer that will have her working with Toby and his mother, Julia, she accepts it.

Claudia never thought working near Toby would be such a measure in self-control. Toby’s made it obvious he wants her. Claudia can’t deny that she wants him, too. Just as they’re beginning to fall for each other, Toby is linked to a brutal hate crime. Claudia knows Toby couldn’t be involved, but her policeman father isn’t so sure.

As the police investigate, Claudia is be forced to choose sides and try to hold together a relationship that may have been doomed from the start.

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I absolutely loved Saving Toby. It was fun, romantic, intense and fast-paced. The chemistry between Toby and Claudia was amazing.

I couldn’t help but fall in love with Toby’s cocky personality. The way he antagonized Claudia made me smile. It was just what her uptight personality needed. 

Despite her age, Claudia was very mature. I was surprised at how mature she was through the second half of the story. I don’t think many young adult women could handle things the way she did.

The hate crime part of the book was so intense! I could see what was going to happen and I was so worried for Toby! (I admit I may have had to take a little break from reading because it was stressing me out — but in a good way!)

Overall, Saving Toby was an amazing New Adult read. The writing was excellent and I was completely drawn into the story. I can’t wait to read the next book in the series, Keeping Claudia. I would highly recommend Saving Toby to fans of authors Colleen Hoover, Tammara Webber, and Jessica Park.

Thank you to Suzanne McKenna Link for the opportunity to read and honestly review Saving Toby.

ARC Review: Unshakable

Unshakable (Wayward Fighters, #4)Unshakableby J.C. Valentine 

Publication Date: July 28, 2015

Publisher:  Malachite Publishing LLC

*Unshakable is included in the Red Hot Candy Boxed Set and it’s out today!

Synopsis:

Don Freyer lost both his wife and his fighting career to cancer. He was a bitter old man until Jami came into his life. Jami’s the son Don never had. Don knows Jami’s life was rough growing up and he wants to ensure Jami and his wife can provide stability for the baby they are about to have. Don’s about to make that happen for them when life throws another hurdle his way.

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Unshakable is the epilogue to the Wayward Fighters series. It’s a short story told in Don and Jami’s POV’s. In order to understand the characters, it’s best to have read the previous novels.

I love that J.C. Valentine gave us one last glimpse into the lives of the Wayward Fighters family. It was short and sweet and really wrapped up the entire series in a great way. Fans of the series will love it.

Thank you to J.C. Valentine for the opportunity to read and review an ARC of Unshakable. 

Other books in this series:

Knockout (Wayward Fighters, #1)  Tapout (Wayward Fighters, #2)  unDefeated (Wayward Fighters, #3)

Coming In From The Cold

Coming In From the Cold (Gravity Book 1)Coming In From The Cold (Gravity #1) by Sarina Bowen

Publication Date: March 13, 2015

Publisher: Rennie Roads Book

Synopsis:

Dane “Danger” Hollister is an Olympic ski racer trying to outrun an illness that cursed both his mother and brother. He lives each day as it was his last. It’s what makes him such a good racer. It’s also what makes him avoid relationships that last longer than a night.

Willow Reade has the worst luck ever. Thanks to her ex, she’s stuck in the Vermont countryside taking care of an old house and a bunch of chickens.

When a blizzard blows in and drives them both off the road, Dane and Willow spend and unforgettable night together. Both are rocked by the passion and the consequences their time together will have.

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Coming In From The Cold was a really cute sports related love story. I liked that it was centered around a winter sport (skiing). Dane was the typical jock that doesn’t do relationships — except his reason isn’t the one you normally find in romance novels. Willow’s sweet and strong. Their chemistry was hot. It was a really fun read for my latest camping trip.

Contemporary romance readers that like a romance with hot athletes will enjoy Coming In From The Cold.

Kiss Me

Kiss Me (Fool's Gold, #17) Kiss Me (Fool’s Gold #17) by Susan Mallery

Publication Date: June 30, 2015

Publisher: HQN Books

Synopsis:

Phoebe Kitzke is a fixer. She fixes things for people. Clients, friends, boyfriends. They’ve all benefited from Phoebe’s kindness.

Phoebe’s latest gift of kindness is costing her big. Not only is she suspended from her real estate job, but she’s in jeopardy of losing it all together. So, Phoebe’s come to the decision that she’s not going to be a doormat anymore. No more favors. Well, except for one last one. She’s going to join her best friend, Maya, at her family ranch in Fool’s Gold. She’s been promised there will be plenty of hunky scenery.

Zane Nicholson is not happy that he’s stuck leading a cattle drive for some tourists, but he’s determined to teach his half-brother a lesson. The last thing stubborn Zane expects to happen on the cattle drive is to fall for sweet Phoebe. He knows he should fight his longings for her, but it’s pretty hard when just seeing her makes his day brighter.

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Fool’s Gold novels are always fun to read. You can read them in order or as standalone novels. There are some overlapping characters in each book, but not enough to bother you if you haven’t read one of the previous novels. I actually started the series in the middle and then caught up with the beginning books later. There are so many and they have been written for years, so it’s easy to get them from the library. My library even had the majority of them in a digital format.

So, having read all of the previous seventeen Fool’s Gold novels and all its novellas, I was a little nervous about reading Kiss Me. It pains me to admit it, but Hold Me (Fool’s Gold #16) wasn’t one of my favorite Fool’s Gold novels. It just didn’t have enough of a love story for me. The background stories of the characters were amazing; I just wanted more of the love birds together. I was worried maybe the series was going to start to fizzle for me.

I was happy to find that was not the case. Kiss Me was a fun cowboy romance. I say cowboy because the majority of it is set on the cattle drive in Fool’s Gold. Phoebe was a hoot. I loved her relationship with the animals. She was a little too sweet for me at times, but grumpy Zane definitely rounded her out. The sexual tension between them was hot.

I also enjoyed all of the supporting characters’ stories. They were unique and added a lot to the entire cattle drive experience. I do wish there would have been more of the town of Fool’s Gold in it. It always makes for cool and interesting storylines.

I’m very happy Kiss Me brought back my love for the Fool’s Gold series. It’s a series I’d highly recommend to contemporary romance readers that like a series with an interesting setting and characters.

Other books and novellas in this series (in order):

Chasing Perfect (Fool's Gold, #1) Almost Perfect (Fool's Gold, #2) Sister of the Bride (Fool's Gold, #2.5)  Finding Perfect (Fool's Gold, #3)  Only Mine (Fool's Gold #4)  Only Yours (Fool's Gold, #5)  Only His (Fool's Gold, #6)  Only Us (Fool's Gold, #6.1) Almost Summer: A Fool's Gold Novella (Fool's Gold, #6.2)   Summer Days (Fool's Gold, #7)  Summer Nights (Fool's Gold, #8)  All Summer Long (Fool's Gold, #9)  A Fool's Gold Christmas (Fool's Gold, #9.5)  Halfway There (Fool's Gold, #9.75)  Just One Kiss (Fool's Gold, #10)  Two of a Kind (Fool's Gold, #11)  Three Little Words (Fool's Gold, #12)  Christmas on 4th Street: Yours for Christmas  When We Met (Fool's Gold, #13)  Before We Kiss (Fool's Gold, #14)  Until We Touch (Fool's Gold, #15)  Yours for Christmas (Fool's Gold, #15.5)  Hold Me (Fool's Gold, #16)

Amber to Ashes

Amber to Ashes (Torn Hearts, #1)Amber to Ashes (Torn Hearts #1) by Gail McHugh

Publication Date: June 9, 2015

Publisher: Atria Books

Synopsis: 

Amber Moretti made it through a tough childhood, one horrible moment defining her entire existence. Now, thanks to her amazing foster parents, Amber’s starting college and getting a chance to start her life over. No one there will know about her past. Nor will they know how she used to escape from the memories that still haunt her.

But just as one moment defined her childhood, another moment will define her life now. When Amber walked into the college dining hall, she never expected to meet and connect deeply with one man, let alone two. She’s always kept herself emotionally unavailable to men, but she can’t help but need both of them now.

Brock Cunningham and Ryder Ashcroft may be completely different in looks and attitude, but they both want Amber in the same intense way. Brock is the hunky football player that every girl wants. Amber can’t help but be attracted to his slick words and the way he wants to be everything she needs. Ryder is Brock’s opposite. He’s tough, tattooed and pierced. His every word disgusts Amber….until he kisses her. Then, she feels powerless to his touch.

Quickly, Amber finds herself falling for these two men. She knows she can’t possibly be in love with each of them, but she finds it harder and harder to fight her feelings for them. Amber knows she’ll be forced to choose to between Brock and Ryder, but she has no idea what would lead up to her decision.

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Um….Wow. I’m not quite sure what my reaction should be after reading Amber to Ashes. This book was so gritty, dirty and all sorts of messed up…but I think I liked it. It’s hard to say because, while I was really disturbed by most of the story, I couldn’t put the book down. It was crazy. Every time I thought the story couldn’t get any more disturbing, it did.

I wanted to know how everything was going to play out for Amber and her need for both Brock and Ryder. Each character was so messed up with their own issues that all together they were just one gigantic disaster waiting to happen. I couldn’t see how this could end positively for any of them.

I really liked how most of the book was in Amber’s POV, but that I also got a sprinkling of Brock and Ryder’s as well. That really helped shape their relationships with each other — especially Brock and Ryder’s relationship. Which was a good thing, considering how Amber felt about both of them.

My least favorite parts of the book were the violent ones because I’m just not into violence. BUT I will admit the violent parts were a good addition to the storyline. They made this more than just a love triangle story.

The ending, though. The ending killed me! What a cliffhanger! I’ll definitely be reading the next book because I have to know what happens.

If you’re interested in reading this book, I’d just warn you ahead of time to be prepared for a lot of sexually explicit encounters (one F/M/M), violence, and drug use. The story will suck you in and then twist and turn in ways you aren’t expecting. It’s an entertaining read, but in it gets messier and messier the deeper into the book you go. It’s definitely not for someone expecting a HEA filled with sunshine, rainbows or unicorns.

Thank you to Atria Books for the opportunity to read and honestly review Amber to Ashes.

unDefeated

unDefeated (Wayward Fighters, #3)unDefeated (Wayward Fighters, #3) by J.C. Valentine

Publication Date: May 26, 2015

Publisher: J.C. Valentine

Synopsis:

Undefeated is the third book in the Wayward Fighters Series. The story continues from the end of Tapout and is in Spencer and Olivia’s POV’s.

Spencer’s trip to rehab has finally brought him to terms with the gambling addiction that ruined every good relationship he had. His goal now is to stay away from those he loves and prevent them from facing any future harm his addiction could bring. But when he has no where else to go after rehab ends, he find himself on Olivia’s doorstep.

Olivia tried to give Spencer the support he needed to face his addictions. He made it pretty obvious he didn’t want anything from her. So when Spencer shows up on Olivia’s doorstep, she hopes it will bring them closer together. But Olivia has demons of her own and her insecurities with their relationship may cause her to self-destruct. Will their relationship give them the strength they need to survive their addictions or cause them both to spiral out of control?

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

In the previous books in the Wayward Fighters Series, it was hard to find anything redeeming in Spencer. He caused so much pain for Jami, Ally and Olivia. I wondered if I was going to like reading unDefeated with him as one of the narrators. I was pleasantly surprised to find that, while I didn’t absolutely love him, I didn’t hate him so much anymore. I may have actually started to like him by the end! Reading from Spencer’s POV about his background and his struggles with his addiction made him more human and less of a monster. The way he tried to take care of Olivia in her lowest points, really helped redeem him. I could finally see what she saw in him. I loved how their relationship started bringing out the best in each of them. I also loved the way he dealt with the fall out of his actions and their impact on his relationship with his best friend, Jami.

Overall, unDefeated was a great story about love, friendship and the ongoing struggle with addiction. I think fans of the series will be extremely happy with Spencer and Olivia’s story of redemption.

Other books in the Wayward Fighters series by J.C. Valentine:

Knockout (Wayward Fighters, #1)  Tapout (Wayward Fighters, #2)

On the Fence

On the Fence

On the Fence by Kasie West

Publication Date: July 1, 2014

Publisher: Harper Teen

Synopsis:

It’s no surprise that sixteen year-old Charlotte “Charlie” Reynolds is a tomboy. She’s been competing against her three older brothers and neighbor, Braden, in every physical competition they can come up with her entire life. Her single father hasn’t been much help in all things girly either. Charlie knows nothing about clothes or makeup. She’s completely fine with that until one too many speeding tickets forces her to get a job at a boutique.

Working at the boutique opens up a whole new feminine world to Charlie. Not only is she learning about fashion, she’s making female friends. Charlie even meets a boy that’s interested in her and not just competing against her.

But Charlie isn’t completely comfortable with the changes she’s making and finds herself hiding her new found femininity from those closest to her. When hiding becomes too much for her, Charlie finds herself confiding in Braden. Their late-night talks have Charlie wondering if she wants more than friendship with Braden.

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I absolutely loved On the Fence. It had me laughing from the very beginning. Charlie and her brothers were hilarious. It was so much fun to read their competitions with each other. It was also easy for me to identify with Charlie. I may not have been quite the tomboy she was, but I’ve never been big on wearing makeup. I can remember wearing it for the first time and looking into the mirror. I’m pretty sure I felt just as awkward as Charlie!

Kasie West has quickly become one of my favorite YA contemporary romance authors. I honestly couldn’t put this book down. It was cute and funny. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a nice, fun read to brighten their day. You won’t stop smiling the entire time you read it. It’s also very appropriate for any age reader. There’s no sex or even talk about it in this one.