Review: Vicious by L.J. Shen

Vicious
Series: Sinner of Saint, #1
Author: L.J. Shen
Publication Date: December 27, 2016
Publisher: L.J. Shen
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Emilia

They say love and hate are the same feelings experienced under different circumstances, and it’s true.
The man who comes to me in my dreams also haunts me in my nightmares.
He is a brilliant lawyer.
A skilled criminal.
A beautiful liar.
A bully and a savior, a monster and a lover.
Ten years ago, he made me run away from the small town where we lived. Now, he came for me in New York, and he isn’t leaving until he takes me with him.

Vicious

She is a starving artist.
Pretty and evasive like cherry blossom.
Ten years ago, she barged into my life unannounced and turned everything upside down.
She paid the price.
Emilia LeBlanc is completely off-limits, my best friend’s ex-girlfriend. The woman who knows my darkest secret, and the daughter of the cheap Help we hired to take care of our estate.
That should deter me from chasing her, but it doesn’t.
So she hates me. Big fucking deal.
She better get used to me.


This book totally did it for me. I’m not really sure how or why, but it did. I think it may have had to do a little bit with having read the second book in this series, Ruckus, first. I got a little bit of a preview of Emilia and Vicious’ relationship in that book. It made me really curious to how they ended up together. I loved discovering how it all happened.

Without any prior knowledge of Emilia and Vicious’ tumultuous past, I’m not sure I would have fell in love with Vicious like I did. Vicious is a tough character to love. He’s a complete alpha male with control issues. He wants everything done his way and in his time. There’s so much hate living inside him, and it’s constantly spewing out. It’s directed at everyone and everything. I hated him most of the time. Well, all of the time except for when it came to Emilia. I didn’t always like what he did to her, but his heart was its purest when he was giving into his feelings for her. It gave me hope for Vicious. And when I learned his story, I couldn’t help fall all the way in love with the jerk.

Emilia may have been artsy fartsy and put her family’s needs first, but that didn’t make her a wilting flower. She was a tenacious and strong woman. Emilia had no problem standing up to Vicious and challenging him. I loved how she brought out his soft side. Their love-hate relationship created a potent chemistry. It didn’t matter whether they were loving or fighting, there were always sparks.

One thing I really enjoyed in Vicious was getting to see more of the past I got a glimpse of in Ruckus. Learning about what went down in high school from Emilia and Vicious’ point of view was very different from learning it from Rosie and Dean’s. I got to see more sides of the story and how it wove together. I loved that. I made me even more curious to read Jaime and Melody’s story in Defy.

If you’re a fan of dark and gritty new adult romances, I highly recommend Vicious and the Sinners of Saint series. It’s a series I’ve fallen in love with.

2017 New Adult Reading Challenge Update #6

I’m back again with another monthly 2017 New Adult Reading Challenge update! For those of you who aren’t familiar with the challenge, it’s hosted by Cátia @ The Girl Who Read Too Much. I’ve been steadily inching toward my goal of 100 New Adult novels this year. I’m at 82 books! I’m over ¾ way toward my goal.

I’ve also made great progress on the 2017 New Adult Reading Challenge Bingo. I just need 3 more books to finish the card. I’ve listed them below and linked them to their Goodreads pages in case anyone is interested in finding out more about them.

  1. book set in college: No Bad Days (Fisher Brothers, #1)
  2. a re-read: Confess
  3. book about friendship: Love Story (Love Unexpectedly, #3)
  4. book with only male POV: Undeclared (Burnham College, #2)
  5. book based on its cover: Maybe Never
  6. new to you author: Bossman
  7. diverse novel: Goodbye Paradise
  8. book you can finish in one day: Troublemaker (Prescott Family, #1.5)
  9. hyped book: A Boy Like You.
  10. book set in summer: Co-Wrecker
  11. book that makes you laugh: The Cad and the Co-ed (Rugby, #3)
  12. 2017 release: The Rule Maker (The Rule Breakers, #2)
  13. star (free choice): Sweet Soul (Sweet Home, #4)
  14. book with with music or art: The Feeling of Forever
  15. book about road trip: Unwritten
  16. book out of your comfort zone: Johnny and Jamaal
  17. book you knew nothing about: Sweet Home (Sweet Home, #1)
  18. new adult bestseller: Fake Fiancée
  19. start a new series: Lila (Boyle Heights, #1)
  20. debut novel: Last Semester
  21. one word title: Cheater (Curious Liaisons, #1)
  22. book about sports: Cross Check (Bayard Hockey, #2)
  23. LGBTQ novel: Off Campus (Bend or Break, #1)
  24. book recommendation: Bad Penny
  25. bottom of your TBR: Sweet Fall (Sweet Home, #2)

I am finished with bingo! Woohoo!

Review: Ruckus by L.J. Shen

Ruckus
Series: Sinners of Saint, #2
Author: L.J. Shen
Publication Date: May 23, 2017
Publisher: L.J. Shen
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Rosie

They say that life is a beautiful lie and death a painful truth. They’re right.
No one has ever made me feel more alive than the guy who serves as a constant reminder that my clock is ticking.
He is my forbidden, shiny apple.
The striking fallacy to my blunt, raw, truth.
He is also my sister’s ex-boyfriend.
One thing you should know before you judge me;
I saw him first. I craved him first. I loved him first.
Eleven years later, he waltzed into my life, demanding a second chance.
Dean Cole wants to be my bronze horseman. My white knight has finally arrived. Hopefully, he isn’t too late.

Dean

They say the brightest stars burn out the fastest. They’re right.
She sets my mind on fire.
All smart mouth, snarky attitude and a huge heart.
In a world where everything is dull, she shines like fucking Sirius.
Eleven years ago, fate tore us apart.
This time, I dare it to try.
Getting to her is a battlefield, but man, that’s why they call me Ruckus.
Rosie LeBlanc is about to find out how hard I can fight.
And conquering her will be the sweetest victory.


When Ruckus released last month, I saw a ton of good reviews for it. I had never read L.J. Shen’s books before, so I decided to give Ruckus a try. I downloaded it, but couldn’t get to it right away. This week, I was feeling a bit of a book hangover and decided to start Ruckus. I’m really happy I did. I have found a new author I’m excited to read more from.

Rosie LeBlanc has felt a connection to Dean “Ruckus” Cole ever since she first met his glare in high school. She knew Dean was the one for her at that moment. Sadly, a relationship with him wasn’t in the cards. Dean was her sister’s boyfriend, and that made him off-limits even after they broke up.

Now, year’s later, Dean’s back in Rosie’s life. They live in the same building, and no matter how hard Rosie tries to avoid Dean, she always runs into him and his harem. His blunt cockiness and womanizing ways should make Dean the least desirable guy, but when Rosie’s sister’s wedding requires them to spend time together, she can’t help but be drawn further into his web.

I loved L.J. Shen’s writing style. It’s a little bit dark and a whole lot gritty. I love that she gives a voice to both the male and female main characters. The first person dual points of view are raw and emotion filled. Her characters are alpha males and strong females who won’t step down from a fight. They have something traumatic that pulls them together, while at the same time breaking them apart.

Rosie was an inspiring character. Her life was harder than most due to physical challenges, but she didn’t let that stop her from trying to achieve her dreams. She was so good deep down inside, and saw good in Dean when others wouldn’t have.

Honestly, Dean was a cocky jerk. He may have had a lot going for him career and looks wise, but he wasn’t a nice guy. Dean had moments where his compassion and sweetness showed through, but they were rare. He was pretty messed up, and it took a lot to get him started on the right path. It took me a while to really like Dean. I would have liked to have seen more of the redeemed Dean. I could have used about 5 epilogues to believe he could be who he needed to be — I’m not just saying that because I fell in love with him even more in the epilogue provided.

Rosie and Dean’s relationship was a rough one. There were a lot of barriers trying to keep them apart. Whether it was her health, his addictions or their friends and family, nothing was strong enough to break them apart. Their chemistry and love for each other was too strong. I loved how they fought for their love and for each other.

Since this is the first book I’ve read in the Sinner of Saint series, I feel the need to point out two things. First, the side characters are just as intriguing as the main characters. Hearing about everyone’s combined past makes me want to hurry up and read the other books in the series. I need to know more about the rest of the HotHoles and their women. Second, this book can be read as a standalone. You don’t have to have read the first book to read this one. It might have made it more fun (I don’t know since I didn’t read the other books first.), but it was a great reading experience without having read the other books.

Oh! And I can’t leave out the fact that Ruckus surprised me! I thought I knew what Dean’s secrets were going to be, but I didn’t! I was completely surprised a couple of different times while reading. I loved that!

Overall, I loved reading Ruckus. This enthralling romance was combined with just the right amount of mystery and darkness. It was everything I expect from a great new adult book. I will be immediately reading the rest of the series.

WWW Wednesday: June 28, 2017

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at Should be Reading but is now hosted by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words.

The Three W’s are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

So here we go…


Currently reading:

I’m reading Alex, Approximately right now. I’m also listening to After We Collided (After, #2).


Recently finished:

This past week was made for reading. I didn’t have to work because the schools didn’t need office subs the last week of school, my daughter had 3 hours of soccer practice for me to read through, and I stayed up way past my bedtime reading each night. I’m tired, but it was worth it! I got to read some fun romances. That always makes me happy.

Shut Out (Bayard Hockey, #1)
Vicious (Sinners of Saint, #1)
Ruckus (Sinners of Saint, #2)

Defy (Sinners of Saint, #0.5)
Hello Forever (Pay it Forward, #2)
Lilac Girls
Eye Candy (Real Love, #1)

Click on the book titles to read the reviews that I have already posted.


Reading Next:

I’m dropping everything and reading Damaged Like Us next.

Review: One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

One of Us is Lying
Author: Karen M. McManus
Publication Date: May 30, 2017
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Genre: Young Adult, Mystery

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

One of Us Is Lying is the story of what happens when five strangers walk into detention and only four walk out alive. Everyone is a suspect, and everyone has something to hide.

Pay close attention and you might solve this.

On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.

Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.

Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.

Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.

Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.

And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app.

Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention Simon’s dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose?

Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.


This is Karen M. McManus’ debut novel? I’m having a hard time believing that because One of Us Is Lying was so well written. It’s rare to find a YA thriller/mystery that’s as intricately woven as this books was. That fact that a début author wrote it blows my mind! 

One of Us Is Lying kept me guessing from beginning to end. I thought I might have known the killer, but every twist and turn made me reexamine what I thought I knew. The four different points of view spurred that on. Every time the character narrating changed, something new and important was revealed. Those revelations were key in keeping the story moving and changing.

I loved every minute of reading this book. It’s one of best YA debuts I’ve read in a while. The fact that author’s inspiration was The Breakfast Club with criminal twist makes it even more of a gem! I can’t wait for Karen M. McManus to publish her next novel. I will definitely be reading it!

Top Ten Tuesday: Best Books I’ve Read In 2017 So Far

Top Ten Tuesday is an original weekly feature created by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme is Best Books I’ve Read In 2017 So FarI’ve read so many amazing books this year, but here are ten of the best books/series I’ve read that so far. Click on the book cover to be taken to the Goodreads page for that book.


1. A Boy Like You / A Girl Like Me
Like Us Duet
Ginger Scott

2. The Queen and the Cure
The Bird and the Sword Chronicles, #2
Amy Harmon

3. What I Need
Alabama Summer, #4

4. Bad Mommy
Tarryn Fisher

5. When It’s Real
Erin Watt

6. 180 Seconds
Jessica Park

7. Co-Wrecker
Meghan Quinn

8. First & Then
Emma Mills

9. The Last Thing You Said
Sara Biren

10. Stay
Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy

Review: Wrecked by J.B. Salsbury

Wrecked
Author: J.B. Salsbury
Publication Date: July 18, 2017
Publisher: Forever
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Note: I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

When you can’t trust yourself, how can you ask anyone else to?

It’s been months since Aden Colt left the Army, and still the memories haunt him. When he moved into a tiny boat off the California coast, he thought he’d found the perfect place to escape life. Then Sawyer shows up and turns his simple life upside down. Beautiful and sophisticated, she seems out of place in this laid-back beach town. Something is pushing her to experience everything she can-including Aden. But as much as he wants her, starting a relationship with Sawyer puts them both at risk. For Aden, the past doesn’t stay there; it shows up unexpectedly, uncontrollably, and doesn’t care whose life it wrecks.


Sawyer’s sister is on her death-bed in Phoenix. She requests that Sawyer go to San Diego to pack up her stuff and bring it home. Celia asks that Sawyer pretend to be her so that none of her friends know she’s dying. She can’t bear them thinking of her wasting away. It’s not something that will be hard to do because Sawyer and Celia are identical twins.

In Celia’s world, Sawyer has to be someone she’s not. She has to be more carefree, less rigid. She uses the flip of a coin Celia gave her to help her make decisions. Most of those decisions revolve around a troubled ex-Army soldier she meets. Both Aden and Sawyer have troubles they’re trying to escape in each other’s arms. Sawyer quickly falls for Aden, but he has no idea who she really is. He doesn’t even know her real name.

This was my first experience reading a J.B. Salsbury novel. I liked her writing style. It included both Sawyer and Aden’s first person perspectives, which was very helpful in understanding what each character was going through.

Another thing I liked was the plot. I thought it was fun that Sawyer had to be Celia and let go. I don’t think I could have held onto that secret as long as she did, but I understood why she did it. I also liked the PTSD part of the story. Aden’s struggles with it were very real and disturbing. I wanted help for him so badly.

Which leads to my major problem with Wrecked. I thought the PTSD was a great topic to tackle, but I was disappointed in how it was dealt with at times. I liked how Sawyer “helped” Aden feel comfortable and get through some of his attacks. I did not like how Aden was not pushed to seek treatment. It especially disturbed me after one scene. Sawyer quickly dismissed the problem and ignored what happened. That bothered me. Even in the end, I didn’t feel like I got enough resolution when it came to Aden’s PTSD. It was severe and I wanted more explanation to how he was able to deal with it.

Overall, I enjoyed reading Wrecked, and I’m looking forward to reading more from J.B. Salsbury.