Review: Bad For You by J. Daniels

“If you’re a fan of Kristen Ashley, then you will love this book.” -Aestas Book Blog on Four Letter Word

He didn’t want to be bad. He just didn’t have a choice…

Shayla Perkins isn’t the kind of girl who makes the same mistake twice, especially when it comes to Sean “Stitch” Molina. So when he gives her the world’s biggest rejection, that’s it–she’s done. Until the sexy, silent, unavailable Sean makes Shay a very personal offer. Of course, it still doesn’t mean he’s interested in her. Or does it?

Sean has done things in life. Bad things. And he’s paid the price. All he wants now is to make up for his past by doing good in the present. And no one deserves more good than Shay. Beautiful on the inside and out, Shay is the kind of woman who should be cared for and protected–especially from a man like Sean. He’s tried to keep his feelings for her in check, but a single, reckless impulse pulls them closer than ever before.

Soon the two are sharing their biggest dreams and satisfying their deepest desires. But what will happen if the only way to truly give each other what they want most…is to let each other go?

“The perfect mix of funny, hot and heartwarming. I enjoyed it immensely!” –Mia Sheridan, New York Times bestselling author, on Four Letter Word

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MY REVIEW

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

You know that book that is just so amazing you want to call and tell all your friends to read it? Well, that’s Bad For You. I cannot get over how awesome it was. It had everything: humor, romance, angst, heart, emotion, depth…I could go on and on.

I always thought no other Dirty Deeds book could top Four Letter Word. The connection between Syd and Brian that started this whole series was one I didn’t think J. Daniels could beat. Well, I was wrong. Bad For You surpassed Four Letter Word by far. The connection between Sean (“Stitch”) and Shay was so raw and so much deeper than I expected. Their romance was not light and fluffy. There was so much for them to overcome — especially for Sean. The darkness they had to navigate to get to each other was heartbreaking. Not that there wasn’t humor. There was a ton of it. It’s what helped bring light to this book and to Sean and Shay.

My favorite thing about Bad For You is the way Sean and Shay supported each other. Sean’s support showed up in the sweetest, most unexpected ways. Shay’s was a little more exuberant and entertaining. When it came down to it, the support they had for each other is what helped build their friendship and relationship. I loved the progression of it.

Bad For You is J. Daniels’ best book yet! I absolutely adored everything about it. I feel like I can’t adequately express how outstanding it was. I guess I’ll just close by saying YOU NEED TO READ THIS BOOK!!!

J.Daniels is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Sweet Addiction series, the Alabama Summer series, and the Dirty Deeds series.

She would rather bake than cook, she listens to music entirely too loud, and loves writing stories her children will never read. Her husband and children are her greatest loves, with cupcakes coming in at a close second.

J grew up in Baltimore and resides in Maryland with her family.

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Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Really Liked but Can’t Remember Anything/Much About

Welcome to Top Ten Tuesday!

Top Ten Tuesday is an original weekly feature created by The Broke and the Bookish and is now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s topic is Books I Really Liked but Can’t Remember Anything/Much About. 

Honestly, this could be almost any book for me! I hate saying that, but I read so dang much. Don’t get me wrong, I remember pieces of these books, but there are a lot of blank spots. Here are the books that come to mind…


1. The Thirteenth Tale
by Diane Setterfield

2. Salem Falls
by Jodi Picoult

3. Midnight Bayou
by Nora Roberts

4. A Wrinkle in Time
by Madeleine L’Engle

5. Amber Beach
by Elizabeth Lowell

6. Lost & Found
by Brooke Davis

7. Magic Hour
by Kristin Hannah

8. Simply Irresistible
by Jill Shalvis

9. Until There Was You
by Kristan Higgins

10. Say Goodnight, Gracie
by Julie Reece Deaver


Have you read these? Do you remember them?

Review: Ryan’s Bed by Tijan

Ryan’s Bed
Author: Tijan
Publication Date: January 22, 2018
Genre: (Mature) Young Adult , Contemporary, Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

I crawled into Ryan Jensen’s bed that first night by accident.

I barely knew him. I thought it was his sister’s bed—her room. It took seconds to realize my error, and I should’ve left…

I didn’t.
I didn’t jump out.
I didn’t get embarrassed.
I relaxed.
And that night, in that moment, it was the only thing I craved.

I asked to stay. He let me, and I slept.

The truth? I never wanted to leave his bed. If I could’ve stayed forever, I would have.
He became my sanctuary.

Because—four hours earlier—my twin sister killed herself.


WOAH. I cannot stop thinking about this book. I actually had a hard time falling asleep after finishing it I couldn’t get it out of my mind.

Ryan’s Bed was an interesting book. It definitely fit the Tijan YA mold. Girl who is deeply scarred from an emotional death/family event. She’s tortured by it, but finds comfort in a guy willing to go the distance for her and protect her at all cost. Mackenzie had a little bit of both Samantha (Fallen Crest High) and Alexandra (Broken and Screwed) in her, but that’s where the similarities end. I couldn’t help comparing her story to theirs, but this one was actually very different.

You see, Mackenzie didn’t just lose a sibling, she lost a twin. She lost what she considered to be half of herself to suicide. It sent her over the edge. Mackenzie no longer felt like herself. Her family no longer felt the same. The destruction in the wake her twin’s death felt catastrophic to her. Mackenzie’s grief and anger made Ryan’s Bed a very dark YA read.

I have to admit I had no idea where the story would go even at half way through. Mackenzie was so messed up mentally that I feared there wouldn’t be a good ending. Everything about it was heartbreaking. The sadness of it all consumed me. I didn’t like feeling the way it made me feel…and then there was a subtle reprieve. Slowly, things started coming together in a way I could see some relief.

And then the end came. I have to say I wasn’t expecting it. I wasn’t prepared.

Ryan’s Bed isn’t a joy to read, but it’s a very well crafted book. If I’m going to be honest, I probably would have given Ryan’s Bed three stars if it wasn’t for that ending. I couldn’t tell where this book was going for the first several chapters. I didn’t know if I wanted to know where it was going at that time. But the progression to the end was good, and then that damn ending was spectacular. So, four stars it is.

You’ll notice I didn’t say anything about the romance in this novel. Ryan’s Bed has a romance, but it’s not the front and center star of the show. Mackenzie’s journey is, and I think it needs to stay that way. All I will say is that I loved Ryan and his support of her.

I can’t end this review without saying that the Author’s Note at the end was worth reading. It helped me process what I had read, and I loved how Tijan’s thoughts about the beginning of this book reflected how I felt. I applaud her for her courage in writing this book.

TIJAN’S ULTIMATE RYAN’S BED GIVEAWAY:

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Review: Midnight Blue by L.J. Shen

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Midnight Blue, an all-new sexy standalone from LJ Shen is available NOW!

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Midnight Blue
Author: LJ Shen
Release Date: January 18th

It should have been easy.

I needed the money. He needed a babysitter to keep him from snorting himself to death.

I was cherry-picked especially for him. Responsible. Optimistic. Warm. Innocent.

The worst part is that I should have known better.

Alex Winslow. British rock star. Serial heartbreaker. Casanova with whiskey eyes.

“Don’t get near the devil in a leather jacket. He’ll chew you up and spit you out.”

Sounds familiar? That’s because it was a headline in a tabloid the second time he got arrested.

Guess what? I didn’t listen.

I signed the contract.

World tour. Three months. Four Continents. One hundred shows.

My name is Indigo Bellamy, and I sold my soul to a tattooed god.

Problem was, my soul wasn’t enough for Alex Winslow. He ended up taking my body, too.

Then he took my heart.

Then he took my all.

Review:

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Midnight Blue was a darker, angst filled romance. It’s about two people who do not want to fall in love with each other, but cannot fight the pull between them. Indie is a sweet young woman who took a job baby-sitting a volatile rockstar on tour to help erase her family’s debts. Alex Winslow is a recovering drug addict and alcoholic bad boy with only his career to lose. Using Indie is just a game to Alex. She’s his muse, his hanny, and hopefully his next lay. That doesn’t stop Indie from wanting him even when she knows shouldn’t.

You know how sometimes you read a book and you’re struck by the beauty of the words in it? That was Midnight Blue for me. It was a powerful book. Every emotion conveyed was so raw. I don’t know if it was the fact that some of those words were song lyrics or simply because they were so heartfelt. There was such beauty in this story — even when what was happening wasn’t so beautiful.

I wouldn’t say that Indie and Alex’s love story was my favorite. Alex hurt Indie in ways that were almost unforgivable. Their romance wasn’t one for the ages. It wasn’t perfect. But that’s what was special about it. Alex and Indie had painful pasts. Falling in love didn’t magically fix everything, but it showed them that there was more to life than their losses. That was the beauty of Midnight Blue.

I liked Indie’s character. There was something about the way she admitted her shortcomings and wrong decisions that I could relate to. She was also a little quirky, which was fun. It fit her past perfectly, and the rest of the story as well. Her demeanor and style gave Alex the perfect ammunition.

I didn’t like Alex for most of the book. Dude was messed up in all the wrong way. I got it, but it hurt to read his thoughts at times. My favorite part of Midnight Blue was the last 20% of it. This, to me, was the most important part of the story. It was more Alex’s journey than Indie’s at this point, and there was such an honesty to it. His acceptance of his struggles and truths were so well done. I didn’t care for Alex until I got to this point. He proved to me he was more than an arrogant rockstar, and was worthy of Indie’s love.

Overall, Midnight Blue was a well written, emotion packed romance. I could feel the angst coming off the pages. If you’re looking for a rockstar romance with an edge, this is the one for you.

Excerpt:

Nat’s words came back and haunted me like a bad haircut from the eighties. An irrational need to check the goods took over me. It wasn’t like he minded. According to the rumors, his dick had seen more cameras than Kendall Jenner. Slowly—so painfully slowly—my eyes drifted down his sinewy body. I just wanted to see what all the fuss was about. Whatever I had in mind, though, didn’t come close to the real thing. Thick, long but not atrocious. With thin veins running through its length.

“Nice view?” he groaned, tucking his junk back into his briefs. His profile was glorious. Strong jaw, pouty lips, eyes like sex…

My eyes snapped up when I realized he was talking to me. “I wasn’t…”

“Looking? Yes, you were. Next time take a picture. It lasts longer.” He rolled his zipper upward and flushed the toilet with the toe of his boot. He turned around and squirted soap into his palm, washing his hands almost violently—rubbing between each finger and scratching his knuckles like he wanted to shed his own skin. When he was done, he looked around for a towel.

I cleared my throat, scrambling to regain my wits. “Longer than the glimpse or longer than your performance?”

Casually—so unbearably casually—he wiped his wet hands over my purple dress. I gasped, moving sideways. It looked like he was about to open the door and get out, but before I had the chance to yell at him for using me as a human towel, he slammed me against the wall, bracing both his arms above my head and pinning me to my spot. I let out a shriek of surprise at the sudden proximity.

Alex Winslow is touching me. Willingly, my surprisingly pitiful brain squealed.

Heat rolled off his body, making my back arch and my breath catch in my throat.

“Let’s make one thing clear—I could fuck you to a point of numbness without even breaking a sweat if I wanted to. Now, careful, New Girl. If you don’t keep your distance from me, I think I just might.”
MidnightBlue-AN

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About LJ Shen:

L.J. Shen is an International #1 best-selling author of Contemporary Romance and New Adult novels. She lives in Northern California with her husband, young son and chubby cat.

Before she’d settled down, L.J. (who thinks referring to herself in the third person is really silly, by the way) traveled the world, and collected friends from all across the globe. Friends who’d be happy to report that she is a rubbish companion, always forgets peoples’ birthdays and never sends Christmas cards.

She enjoys the simple things in life, like spending time with her family and friends, reading, HBO, Netflix and internet-stalking Stephen James. She reads between three to five books a week and firmly believes Crocs shoes and mullets should be outlawed.

LJShen

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Review: Unqualified by Anna Faris

Unqualified
Author: Anna Faris
Publication Date: October 24, 2017
Publisher: Dutton Books
Genre: Memoir, Comedy

Rating: ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Anna Faris has advice for you. And it’s great advice, because she’s been through it all, and she wants to tell you what she’s learned. Her comic memoir and first book, Unqualified, will share Anna’s candid, sympathetic, and entertaining stories of love lost and won. Part memoir, part humorous, unflinching advice from her hit podcast Anna Faris Is Unqualified, the book will reveal Anna’s unique take on how to navigate the bizarre, chaotic, and worthwhile adventure of finding love.

Hilarious, authentic, and actually useful, Unqualified is the book Anna’s fans have been waiting for.


I love Anna Faris, but Unqualified was a bit of a let down. It was interesting reading her thoughts and stories. I know it’s her memoir and her truths, but a lot of what she shared was self-deprecating. It wasn’t quite as funny as I expected.

One of the things that bugged me about this book was that it felt like an ode to Chris Pratt. It was definitely written prior to the end of their marriage, and so it feels odd to read about how much she loves him and how amazing he is when you know they have gone their separate ways. I also found it hard to read her description of her relationship with her first ex-husband. She wasn’t exactly bashing him, but it wasn’t nice either.

The shining chapter of Unqualified was the story of the birth of her son, Jack Pratt. This was the most emotional and real part of the book. This was the chapter I loved. I felt like I was truly getting to know Anna in this moment. I wish more of the book would have delved as deeply as this chapter did.

Overall, Unqualified was a fun read. It wasn’t my favorite celebrity memoir, but it did leave me feeling like I had a little more insight into the life of Anna Faris. I loved hearing about her life in Washington (I live there), and how she made it big. Her fans will enjoy this book. Although, like me, I’m sure they will wish she touched on her split from Chris Pratt.

 

Review: Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills

Foolish Hearts
Author: Emma Mills
Publication Date: December 5, 2017
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

A contemporary novel about a girl whose high school production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream leads her to new friends—and maybe even new love.

The day of the last party of the summer, Claudia overhears a conversation she wasn’t supposed to. Now on the wrong side of one of the meanest girls in school, Claudia doesn’t know what to expect when the two are paired up to write a paper—let alone when they’re both forced to try out for the school production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

But mandatory participation has its upsides—namely, an unexpected friendship, a boy band obsession, and a guy with the best dimpled smile Claudia’s ever seen. As Claudia’s world starts to expand, she finds that maybe there are some things worth sticking her neck out for.


So. Stinking. Cute.

Really. That’s all I need to say. I’m not joking.

But I know you’re here for an actual review, so I’ll go ahead and write one.

Foolish Hearts is the story of an average girl navigating friendship, love, and family relationships. Claudia is that average girl. She doesn’t see herself as anything special — but of course she is. (Just like we all are.) Claudia has her best friend, but doesn’t feel the need to really have any other close friends even though she doesn’t go to school with Zoe. She also doesn’t have any desire to fall in love again. Claudia learned how easy it was to have her heart-broken. Claudia’s happy flying under the radar.

Life isn’t that simple, though. When Claudia witnesses a major breakup at school, it has a ripple effect that lands her working on the school play. Suddenly, people are noticing her. She’s being forced to make new friends and there’s this guy who might be into her. All of this makes Claudia uncomfortable, but also teaches her a lot.

Like I said before, Foolish Hearts was so stinking cute. I adored Claudia. I felt a lot like her when I was in high school oh so many years ago. I could relate to feeling average and then shocked when people liked me. I think so many of us feel this way in life, whether it’s in high school or as adults. I loved how much Claudia learned about life and herself throughout the story. It felt so true to real life.

If I adored Claudia, I don’t know how to describe how I felt about Gideon. If you follow my blog or Twitter, you’ll know one of my most favorite characters EVER is Frank Sanger (This Adventure Ends by Mills). My love for Gideon isn’t quite on the Frank Sanger level, but it’s pretty darn close. Gideon was an amazing friend. He put others first, and it did it in a way that was fun and interesting. I couldn’t get enough of his dialog. The things he said. Oh, Emma Mills, you make me smile so much!

I can’t leave out the rest of the characters. They were all awesome. Emma Mills has a way of making a cast of characters as important as the main characters without having them takeover the story. I loved the whole Iris and Paige thing, but especially Iris. That girl was a gem in this story. Same with Noah. He just added that extra something special. And I can’t leave out Claudia’s family — such great storylines! I love that family is actually a big focus in Mills’ books. They’re so often MIA in YA books.

Another thing I must touch on is the drama aspect of Foolish Hearts. Not drama as in what goes down, but drama as in a play. I’ve read books before with a theatrical theme, and they’re not normally my favorite. I loved the way the whole play thing was done in this book! It was fun. It worked well with the story and the characters. I was surprised by how much I loved it! I’m so happy Claudia was the Shakespeare Whisperer.

Obviously, Foolish Hearts gets a standing ovation from me. It was just so stinking cute and amazing and everything I ever want in a YA contemporary. If you haven’t read it yet, you must. If you haven’t read anything yet by Emma Mills, you must go and devour all of her books. They’re simply all so good.

Review: Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy

Dumplin’
Author: Julie Murphy
Narrator: Eileen Stevens
Publication Date: September 15, 2015
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

For fans of John Green and Rainbow Rowell comes this powerful novel with the most fearless heroine—self-proclaimed fat girl Willowdean Dickson—from Julie Murphy, the acclaimed author of Side Effects May Vary. With starry Texas nights, red candy suckers, Dolly Parton songs, and a wildly unforgettable heroine—Dumplin’ is guaranteed to steal your heart.

Dubbed “Dumplin’” by her former beauty queen mom, Willowdean has always been at home in her own skin. Her thoughts on having the ultimate bikini body? Put a bikini on your body. With her all-American-beauty best friend, Ellen, by her side, things have always worked . . .  until Will takes a job at Harpy’s, the local fast-food joint. There she meets Private School Bo, a hot former jock. Will isn’t surprised to find herself attracted to Bo. But she is surprised when he seems to like her back.

Instead of finding new heights of self-assurance in her relationship with Bo, Will starts to doubt herself. So she sets out to take back her confidence by doing the most horrifying thing she can imagine: entering the Miss Teen Blue Bonnet Pageant—along with several other unlikely candidates—to show the world that she deserves to be up there as much as any twiggy girl does. Along the way, she’ll shock the hell out of Clover City—and maybe herself most of all.


Hmm…This is going to be a tough review to write. Get ready for a long one.

Dumplin’ started out strongly. I loved Willowdean and her declarations about weight. I imagine anyone who has ever been overweight or self-conscious can relate to many of her thoughts and feelings. But…there were so many things that bothered me.

Willowdean’s negativity about herself and others got to me quickly. Her thoughts made me uncomfortable. Listening to them was rough. Mostly, I hated how she thought about and treated people.

I hated how she discounted Mitch and his feelings. Mitch was a nice guy. He didn’t deserve to be led on by Willowdean. She used him for his companionship, and I think she generally liked him, but she let him think they were more than they were. That made me sad. I don’t get why she didn’t feel a spark for him. I felt like there was a spark between them.

I hated how Willowdean thought about all of her new friends. She looked down on them. I didn’t get why she thought she was so much better than them. They were there for her when she was friendless and supported her. I was happy she learned what great people they were, but her thoughts were hurtful and upset me.

I hated Willowdean and Bo. There were some sweet moments between them, and they were a good couple. I just didn’t like how she thought of herself in relation to Bo. I didn’t understand her embarrassment of being seen with him. I get not liking to be the center of attention, but I figured she was be elated to be seen with someone who was so good-looking. (I only say that due to her low self-confidence and how she talked.) It was like being with Bo made her feel bad about herself, and that’s not healthy. Mitch didn’t have that same effect on her.

Last, I hated the way Willowdean handled everything with Ellen. I completely understood it because I’ve felt the way Willowdean felt at times in my life, but I feel like she should have apologized a whole heck of a lot sooner. Friendship is worth more than how she treated it.

This has been really negative so far, so let me tell you some of the things I loved.

I loved Willowdean’s new friends. They were all good people. They added so much to this story.

I loved Willowdean’s rocky relationship with her mom. I could relate to both Willowdean and her mother. You always want what’s best for your kids — want more for them than you had yourself.

I loved Mitch and all of his wisdom. He was a great human being who deserved more.

I loved Bo’s step-mom. She was a little kooky, but sweet.

I loved the performers and bouncer from the gay bar. Oh, and I can’t leave out Dolly. I loved all the Dolly Parton stuff.

I loved the narrator and the way she voiced Willowdean.

I loved how Elle and Willowdean worked out their friendship.

I loved how everything worked out with the pageant and her mom.

Most of all, I loved the many times Julie Murphy gave incredible thoughts and insight.

Despite all of these great things, reading Dumplin’ made me kind of miserable. Maybe it would have been better to read than listen to it. I don’t know. I felt consumed by Willowdean’s negativity and that was just so hard. I don’t know what else to say about this book. I think it will probably resonate differently for each person who reads it.