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.

Review: Fallen Crest Family by Tijan

Fallen Crest Family
Series: Fallen Crest High, #2
Author: Tijan
Narrator:  Saskia Maarleveld

Publication Date: September 15, 2014
Publisher: Tantor Audio
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Synopsis:

Samantha and Mason are together. Everyone knows it. But not everyone is dealing with it. While Mason is ready to give them all the middle finger, there’s one who is not going away: her mother. Threats are issued. Ultimatums are given. Even blackmail is used. But only Samantha can put a stop to Analise. However, when a trauma from her past is triggered, she may not have the courage or strength to do what’s needed. And if she doesn’t, Mason’s future could be destroyed.


I was going to wait for my library hold on Fallen Crest Family to come available, but I just couldn’t. I had to buy the Kindle book and add the Audible option because I needed to know what happened next in the Kade/Stratton family saga. I’m so addicted to this series already that it’s not even funny.

Fallen Crest Family is the second book in the Fallen Crest High series. It begins immediately following Fallen Crest High, and continues Sam’s story. Sam and Mason have been forced to reveal their relationship to everyone. No one is excited about them being together. (Well, except Logan and maybe Nate.) The person taking their relationship the worst is Sam’s mother. Analise is willing to do everything and anything to keep Sam and Mason apart. Sam knows she’s the only person who can put Analise in her place, but her mother is crazy and conniving. Poor Sam isn’t sure she has what it takes to stand up to her mother.

Okay, so first I need to tell you that Sam’s annoying man-ish voice from the first audio book did not appear in the Fallen Crest Family audio book. (Or maybe I just didn’t notice it?) Sam sounded like a normal girl the entire time. Well, at least her voice sounded normal. Sam’s not exactly normal.

Sam changed a bit in this book. She lost some of the hard edge she had in Fallen Crest High. She was a little bit more whiny and more sullen due to the new memories and living situation she was facing. That didn’t really bother me. I felt like Sam’s evolution throughout the story made sense, and that she’ll continue to grow throughout the series. What did still bug me was her obsessive running. Did no one in her life find all this running to be a problem? Three and four-hour runs until she’s collapsing seems extreme. The only thing positive about it (maybe) is the possibility of a track scholarship. Oh, and I have to mention her obsessive lusting after Mason, too. I wish I would have kept a tally of how many times she mentioned she was wet. It felt like she said it at least once a chapter. I’m probably wrong, but it felt like it was mentioned a few too many times. I get it, girl. Your body melts for him. Not that I’m complaining about all the sexy times. I would never complain about that! 😉

I still don’t know what’s going on in Mason’s head, but I don’t care. He’s such a rock for Sam. I love what he’s willing to do for her. Same with Logan. He’s like a big brother and best friend all wrapped into one. He loves Sam in his own way, and I love the words and humor he brings to every situation. I even found myself liking Mason and Logan’s buddy Nate in this book. He surprised me with how much he was willing to go to bat for Sam. The four of them are like one big family.

All of the friends and nemeses were back to add to the fun of this story. Sam’s main problem wasn’t with her friends this time, but with her mom. That lady was bat$#!t crazy. I loved everything that was revealed about her in this book. Sam also made some new friends. Heather and the Manny’s gang were amazing! I enjoyed what they brought to the story, and I can only imagine how they’re going to influence things in the next book.

Fallen Crest Family was just as much fun to listen to as Fallen Crest High. I can’t tell you enough how obsessed I am with this series. I am going to continue to binge listen to it until I finish all of the books. I’ve fallen in love with Sam, Mason and Logan. I want to know how their story ends.

Review: Broken and Screwed 2 by Tijan

Broken and Screwed 2
Series: Broken and Screwed, #2
Author: Tijan
Narrator: Jillian Macie
Publication Date: July 21, 2015
Publisher: Tantor Audio
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Alexandra is pissed about her parents abandoning her. She’s beyond pissed that her friends did the same. She’s enraged because things are unclear about her brother’s death now. So her first stop is at Jesse’s house to demand answers. She wants to know why her brother was friends with the criminal crowd before he died and she knows he holds the answers. But when she sees him, she doesn’t get the answers she expected. Instead, she finds out that their chemistry never faded and soon heats up again! Some habits die hard. Soon Jesse and Alex are back to their ways of sneaking around. He’s a near-celebrity at school and she doesn’t want to deal with the backlash of being his girlfriend. Alex is tired of being hurt so she’s learned the lesson not to confide and lean on others. However, she can’t seem to help herself when it comes to Jesse Hunt. The big question isn’t if she will survive if their relationship goes public, it’s if she will survive when the real truths about her family and brother come out? Or when she learns that Jesse knows more than what he’s told her?


I am officially obsessed with Tijan’s writing. I couldn’t stop listening to this audio book. I found excuses to drive places, stuff to clean, and listened to it instead of music at the gym. I was beyond addicted. Broken and Screwed 2 took over my life.

Broken and Screwed 2 continued Alex’s heartbreaking tale of abandonment. She’s slowly lost everyone she’s ever cared about. She’s bitter, but she’s also ready to move on and start a new life. Alex is going to college. The same college as Jesse. And he’s going to give her the answers she needs about her brother’s death.

Only things aren’t that simple. Alex quickly falls back into her sexual relationship with Jesse, but insists on keeping it a secret. She wants to blend in at college and being seen with THE Jesse Hunt won’t help. Plus, Jesse’s still not giving Alex the answers she needs.

Being in Alex’s head was a little easier in this book than the first one. She still had all of her negative thoughts and pain, but she also made some great discoveries. I liked her more than I did in the first book. I still wanted to throttle her at times for stupid decisions she made, but I liked the growth she went through.

Jesse really redeemed himself in this book. Getting to read more of him, and see him around Alex more made it easier to imagine what he was thinking. I still would have loved his point of view, but I loved the mystery not having it gave Jesse and what he was hiding. I was surprised at what an amazing guy Jesse really was.

Luckily, Angie and Marissa weren’t around much in book 2. Their scenes were minimal, but they played a huge part in the story. I liked that they weren’t around much. Alex made some new college friends who she could be herself around. Beth and Hannah weren’t as annoying, and they added some interesting drama. Plus, there were all of Jesse’s roommates and their girlfriends. I adored those characters. They made the story so much fun. I was especially surprised to find myself liking Chord. I seriously fell in love with that jerk in this book. He was so good to Alex and also to Jesse. Chord needs his own book.

Broken and Screwed 2 was even better than the first book. I loved the college scene and all the life events Alex went through. Tijan knew exactly when to throw in the twists and turns to keep the story going. I was pleasantly surprised how the mystery surrounding Ethan’s death played out.

I’m happy I chose to read Broken and Screwed 2, even though Broken and Screwed left me feeling completely unhinged. I needed this book for Alex and for myself. I highly recommend this series to anyone who likes an angst filled new adult romance. It’s well written and highly addictive.

Now, what Tijan book can I get my hands on next…

Review: Broken and Screwed by Tijan

Broken and Screwed
Series: Broken and Screwed, #1
Author: Tijan
Narrator: Jillian Macie
Publication Date: June 23, 2015
Publisher: Tantor Audio
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Synopsis:

When Alexandra’s older brother dies the night of his graduation, it changes everything for her. No longer is she the party girl. No longer does she care about being popular, and no longer is her family the happy unit she always thought existed. The only person who can help her heal is the same person who loved her brother as much as she did, his best friend. She only hopes to keep her heart from breaking when Jesse moves on, and she knows he will. After Ethan dies, Jesse focuses on basketball, partying, and girls. He uses it all to turn his emotions off, but the irony is that Alex is the only person who can do that for him. She helps him forget, but she is the one person he shouldn’t be with, because the secrets he knows could shatter everything. They could shatter her.


Broken and Screwed is an accurate title for this book. Every thing about this book was so messed up, and yet, I couldn’t stop listening to it. This is the first time I’ve read a book by Tijan, but I understand why fans flock to her books. It would be hard not to fall in love with her writing. Every word she writes drips with emotion.

Broken and Screwed is told from Alex’s point of view. Since the death of her older brother, Alex has been slowly drowning. She’s not the person she used to be before. The only thing holding her together is her brother’s best friend, Jesse. The scattered hours Alex spends with Jesse are the only peace either of them have. Alex knows they don’t have a normal relationship. She knows they never will. Alex takes what she can get from Jesse, hoping that when he truly leaves her she won’t be even more broken than she already is.

This book has left me emotionally drained. The entire book was one big ball of angst. Alex was truly broken inside, and keeping up with her feelings was exhausting. I was always looking for the light at the end of the tunnel for her, but I could never see it. The only time I felt comfort for her was when she was finding comfort with Jesse. It felt so messed up because both Alex and I knew she deserved better. She just didn’t want better. It was frustrating, but I got it. Not all relationships are healthy, and sometimes the love you feel for someone overrides everything else.

I didn’t like or dislike Jesse. He had moments of greatness when he was comforting Alex, but was also a jerk. It was hard not knowing what was going on in his mind. I felt like I didn’t really get to know him, and I wanted to.

Alex’s friends were a large part of this book. I hated them. When they were in a scene, I cringed. Neither was truly a great friend to Alex. Marissa was a backstabbing (self-proclaimed) slut. Now, I’m not slut shaming. I have no problem with Marissa hitting the sheets with multiple men. What I didn’t like was the way she disregarded her friends’ feelings and went after guys they liked. She had her moments of goodness, but the bad tended to outweigh the good. And then there was Angie. In some ways, Angie was worse than Marissa. She thought she knew what was best for everyone. Maybe she did, but no one wants to have her friend constantly trying to push a guy who’s not the guy she’s in love with at them. No one wants to have her best friend trash the guy she’s in love with and tell her he’ll never love her. That’s just messed up. Angie did help Alex out in some amazing ways, but I wish she could have been supportive in the way Alex needed the most.

There are two people I hated even more than Alex’s friends: her parents. Grief is a heavy thing, but come on. Alex may have been 18, but she still lived under their roof. I didn’t get the detachment. It was so damn sad.

Broken and Screwed has left my mind in turmoil. It was addicting but uncomfortable to listen to. My heart broke over and over for Alex…and Jesse, too. I knew this book had a cliffhanger at the end, but it was an odd one. There were so many questions left at the end, and I’m in need of the answers. On to book 2.

Sorry, if this review is disjointed. That’s exactly how Broken and Screwed left me feeling.

Review: The Butterfly Project by Emma Scott

The Butterfly Project
Author: Emma Scott
Publication Date: February 28, 2017
Publisher: CreateSpace
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Note: I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

“Where you are is home…”

At age fourteen, Zelda Rossi witnessed the unthinkable, and has spent the last ten years hardening her heart against the guilt and grief. She channels her pain into her art: a dystopian graphic novel where vigilantes travel back in time to stop heinous crimes—like child abduction—before they happen. Zelda pitches her graphic novel to several big-time comic book publishers in New York City, only to have her hopes crash and burn. Circumstances leave her stranded in an unfamiliar city, and in an embarrassing moment of weakness, she meets a guarded young man with a past he’d do anything to change…

Beckett Copeland spent two years in prison for armed robbery, and is now struggling to keep his head above water. A bike messenger by day, he speeds around New York City, riding fast and hard but going nowhere, his criminal record holding him back almost as much as the guilt of his crime.

Zelda and Beckett form a grudging alliance of survival, and in between their stubborn clash of wills, they slowly begin to provide each other with the warmth of forgiveness, healing, and maybe even love. But when Zelda and Beckett come face to face with their pasts, they must choose to hold on to the guilt and regret that bind them, or let go and open their hearts for a shot at happiness.

The Butterfly Project is a novel that reveals the power of forgiveness, and how even the smallest decisions of the heart can—like the flutter of a butterfly’s wings—create currents that strengthen into gale winds, altering the course of a life forever.


The Butterfly Project has been sitting on my Kindle waiting to be read since February. I kept putting off reading it because I knew I was going to be in for an emotional ride. Emma Scott is an amazing author, but she packs a powerful emotional punch in all of her books. I wasn’t sure I was ready for the experience The Butterfly Project was going to give me yet.

I’m so happy I went ahead and started reading it. I loved The Butterfly Project! It was definitely an emotional read, but it immediately drew me and had me invested. I wasn’t willing to put the book down. I stayed up way too late reading it because I needed to know what was going to happen to Zelda and Bennett.

If you haven’t read Emma Scott’s Full Tilt duet, you may not know that Zelda was an employee of Theo’s Las Vegas tattoo shop. She’s decided to branch off on her own, and take her comic book to shop publishers in New York. The reception of her comic book is not what she had hoped, and she has to figure out how to spend more time in New York to make the revisions she needs to it. Zelda refuses to give up on the one thing that may help her entire family heal. A chance encounter with Beckett gives her the possibility to stay in New York.

Beckett isn’t super thrilled to have Zelda around. He’s got his own tragedies and regret to deal with. What begins as a partnership, slowly turns into companionship for Beckett. He realizes maybe he’s not as alone as he thought. His friendship with Zelda is the only thing heating up his cold and dreary days.

The more entwined their lives get, the more Zelda and Beckett want more from each other. Before they can truly fall, let will have to decide if they can let go of the past and live in the future.

Zelda and Beckett were really amazing characters. Both were living their lives by the day, trying to make it through. They were emotionally stunted by things they wished they could change in their pasts. The sadness and guilt connected them, but their different outlooks on each other’s situation brought a strength to their friendship. Zelda knew what Beckett needed and Beckett knew what Zelda needed. Their friendship turning into a romantic relationship was inevitable. They got each other and their chemistry was off the charts. I loved every minute of their romance.

All of the secondary characters were magic. Each brought a little bit of something special to the story. I especially loved Zelda and Beckett’s Italian neighbor lady. She cracked me up! I also loved getting a tiny bit of Theo in this story. I had forgotten how much I missed him.

One thing I thought was super cool in this story was the use of the comic book. I liked the glimpses of it I got to see and how the story created helped Zelda and Beckett heal. It was a cool way to connect two characters.

I don’t know what else to say about The Butterfly Project except that I loved it. I would highly recommend it to new adult romance readers. The healing and love in this story is amazing. I’m so happy I finally read it!!!

Review: Aftercare Instructions by Bonnie Pipkin

Aftercare Instructions
Author: Bonnie Pipkin
Publication Date: June 27, 2017
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Genre: Young Adult, Fiction, Contemporary
Note: I received an ARC from the publisher via Goodreads in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Synopsis:

In the tradition of Jandy Nelson and Rainbow Rowell, a big-hearted journey of furious friendship, crazy love, and unexpected hope after a teen’s decision to end an unwanted pregnancy

“Troubled.” That’s seventeen-year-old Genesis according to her small New Jersey town. She finds refuge and stability in her relationship with her boyfriend, Peter—until he abandons her at a Planned Parenthood clinic during their appointment to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. The betrayal causes Gen to question everything.

As Gen pushes herself forward to find her new identity without Peter, she must also confront her most painful memories. Through the lens of an ongoing four act play within the novel, the fantasy of their undying love unravels line by line, scene by scene. Digging deeper into her past while exploring the underground theater world of New York City, she rediscovers a long-forgotten dream. But it’s when Gen lets go of her history, the one she thinks she knows, that she’s finally able to embrace the complicated, chaotic true story of her life, and take center stage.

This powerfully immersive and format-crushing début follows Gen from dorm rooms to diners to house parties to auditions—and ultimately, right into readers’ hearts.


Reading Aftercare Instructions was a bit of a weird experience for me. I entered a Goodreads giveaway for it without having read the blurb. I know that’s a little weird, but I do it sometimes. When I won and received the book, I still didn’t read the blurb. So when I started reading it, I had no idea what I was in store for. Aftercare Instructions was a really sad story. It wasn’t a bawling my eyes out sad, but more of a depressing sad.

Aftercare Instructions, as the blurb statesis about an almost eighteen-year-old girl who finds herself in the tough position of having an abortion. Gen knows having one is the right decision for herself and her boyfriend, Peter. But when Gen walks out into the waiting room after the procedure and finds Peter gone, she’s not so sure about anything anymore.

I’m going to jump right into my impression of Peter. I don’t care what his reasons for leaving Gen at the clinic by herself were, they weren’t good enough. No one should have to go through what Gen did, and then be left to suffer alone. I hated Peter and wished someone would have kicked the crap out of that kid. For someone who was supposed to be so good, he was pretty horrible. I understand his reasoning and beliefs, but Gen deserved better.

As for Gen, I understood her emotions and rationale. I didn’t always agree with the decisions she was making, but I didn’t fault her for them. She made a very tough, adult decision and the ramifications of it hurt. Gen had every right to be as broken as she was. She had every right to do anything she could to feel better.

One truly great thing about Aftercare Instructions was the bond between friends. Gen had a few people on her side that were willing to do everything they could to make sure Gen was in a safe emotional and physical state. They showed up when she wasn’t expecting and took charge. I applaud the author for showing how friends can support each other when a character can’t reach for a parent.

Another really great thing about this book was the way the title, chapter headings, chapters and story all meshed together. Obviously, the title Aftercare Instructions refers to the guidelines Gen needed to follow after her abortion. Each chapter is headed with one of those instructions. That instruction fit what Gen was going through physically and emotionally at the time. By the end of the book, we can see the way all of these instructions and Gen’s actions led to her moment(s) of healing. This was genius. I also really enjoyed the way the author used a play script as the method of delivering Gen and Peter’s past. That was so unique and cool.

Aftercare Instructions is an important book. Never before have I read a young adult novel that so honestly deals with the topic of abortion. Not only does it cover the emotional aspects of having one, but it details the physical. I’m not just talking what happens the moment of the procedure, but also in the week to come. It’s not romanticized. It’s not over and done. This is a good thing. It gives teenagers (and adults) down and dirty look at life after. I think that’s important. It gives girls/women who have gone through it a book they can identify with. Maybe it will give someone who might be making a similar decision peace or make them re-examine the decision they’re making. I don’t know. Like I said, I think it’s an important book.

I do have to admit I had some problems rating Aftercare Instructions — no matter how important I thought it was. I almost didn’t give it a rating at all. How do you rate a book that’s written so well, but wasn’t a fun experience? Honestly, this book depressed the hell out of me and made me so angry at Peter. Those aren’t fun emotions. I ended up giving it 4 stars because I think it deserves to be read.

Review: The Pieces of Us by Jennifer Loring

The Pieces of Us
Series: The Firebird Trilogy, #3
Author: Jennifer Loring
Publication Date: April 11, 2017
Publisher: Limitless Publishing
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Sports Romance
Note:
 I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

Aleksandr Volynsky thinks he’s experienced the worst life can throw at him, until the most devastating loss leaves him questioning everything…

One year later, Alex and his daughter, Anya, are still picking up the pieces. In the process, he realizes how far apart their mutual grief has driven them and how lonely he has become—especially when the Buffalo Gladiators’ beautiful anthemist, Hannah Kent, finally introduces herself.

Anya Volynsky is a high-school senior with plans—her father’s plans—to become the first woman on a professional hockey team’s starting roster…

But Anya is toying with the idea of staying in Buffalo and caring for her father rather than accept a scholarship to play hockey at Boston College. Her decision becomes even more difficult when she meets her school’s new athletic trainer, Lucas Donovan. Their experience with similar losses draws them together, and soon their friendship blossoms into a forbidden love that neither of them expected.

With lives torn apart by sorrow, Alex and Anya try to restore their bond, but it’s not that easy…

Alex’s attraction to Hannah keeps growing stronger, and he needs to decide if he’s ready to overcome his pain—but also if he’s willing to do it without Anya’s approval. Anya, on the other hand, is headed for trouble, and while Alex tries to do the right thing in order to protect her, all he manages to do is push her further away.

Can Alex and Anya find the courage to pick up the broken pieces of their lives, or will the heartache of the past ruin their chances at finding happiness again?


I’m a big fan of hockey romances. I’ve read so many of them, and yet, Jennifer Loring’s still stand out. The Firebird Trilogy isn’t filled with bubbly, sexy sports romances. It’s filled with deeper situations and an all-consuming love between the main characters.Alex and Stephany drown in each other, and I can’t help but drown in them, too.

The Pieces of Us is different from the first two books in the series. Alex has lost Stephany for good this time, and he’s not sure how to go on without her. He must learn to heal from the pain and be the father he needs to be to seventeen year-old Anya. Anya isn’t having an easy time either. She’s finally fallen in love, but it’s the forbidden type. She knows it’s wrong to love him, but she’s always been told to follow her heart.

Alex and Anya’s journey was emotional. Alex had so much pain he was dealing with. He couldn’t see a light at the end of the tunnel until he met Hannah. Navigating a new romance was really hard for him, and I felt like Jennifer Loring did an amazing job of capturing what it would be like for someone as devoted as Alex was to Stephany to move on. There were also so many great father-daughter moments between Alex and Anya.

I hate saying this, but I wasn’t a big fan of Anya’s relationship with her athletic trainer. The Student-teacher relationship trope is not one I’m a fan of. Anya’s relationship with Lucas was not quite a student-teacher relationship, but close enough. If it was in college, it wouldn’t have bugged me as much, but she was a seventeen year-old high school student. I didn’t like the line Anya and Lucas crossed. Anya was still so emotionally young. Her actions and thoughts proved it. I didn’t think her relationship with Lucas, who was five years older, was a good thing. I’m happy things worked out for her in the end, but it still wasn’t my favorite storyline.

The Pieces of Us was a story of healing and learning to live life again after a devastating loss. It was a story of finding love again and making mistakes along the way. It was beautifully written, and the perfect conclusion to an amazing trilogy. I highly recommend The Firebird Trilogy to hockey romance fans who like a darker love story filled with heart.