Release Day Review: Six Feet Under by Whitney Barbetti

Six Feet Under
Series: Mad Love Duet, #1
Author: Whitney Barbetti
Publication Date: April 25, 2018
Genre: Contemporary Romance, New Adult
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Six wasn’t the hero I needed.

But he was the man I wanted.

And it was my selfish craving, the desire to own him, that would be our undoing.

No one tells you that love is a disease. An infection that tears your heart apart, leaving you half the person you were before. A malady that leaves open wounds. An invisible disorder tracing scars in the places you couldn’t see if you weren’t looking for them.

I was sick, but love didn’t heal me.

Instead, it festered in my marrow, and drove me to unforgivable mistakes.

Six was my first mistake, but he wouldn’t be the last.


I’m not quite sure where to start with this review, so I’m just going to jump right into it. Six Feet Under was painful to read. The angst was so heavy and the content so dark that it affected me physically. I was tight, tense, and agitated while reading it. I was so uncomfortable at times that I thought I might need to put the book down, but the thing was, I couldn’t put it down. I couldn’t put it down even though I was miserable. I couldn’t put it down even though I knew there was going to be a next book, that I was going to be left most likely reeling by a cliffhanger. I had to know what was going to happen to Mira with all her issues and Six with his unending compassion.

This book was long. The story is not a simple one. Mira is a drug addict with mental health issues. She lives by the day, her vices helping to ease her pain. Mira’s unapologetic in her abuse of drugs and use of others. She hides her feelings and refuses to acknowledge them. Her decaying lifestyle hits a bump when she meets Six. Six comes striding into her life like a white knight. He isn’t fearful of who Mira is. Her attitude and lifestyle don’t frighten him away. Six is nothing like Mira. He’s strong where she is weak, and yet, he stays. He’s what Mira needs to survive — if her brand of crazy doesn’t push him away first.

Oh, man. I hated Mira. She made me so angry because all I wanted was for her to love and value herself. I wanted her to get help. I wanted her to survive. There were so many things I wanted for that chick, and she refused to give them to me. She refused to give them to Six, and that made me so damn sad. I wanted Six’s love to be the thing that ultimately saved her. For the majority of the book, I had those feelings. Then, something shifted in Mira. I found myself actually rooting for her.

I want to say I loved Six. Maybe I would have if his point of view was included. (I really wish his POV had been included!) Instead, I found myself wondering what the heck he was up to. I felt like there had to be angle with all the stuff he was doing for Mira. I loved what he gave both emotionally and physically to Mira, but did he truly love her? Why? What was so attractive about her? I honestly didn’t get it. Still, I liked him being around. I liked what he did. I wanted to know more about his secrets. Six seemed like a really great guy.I need to know him better.

Mira and Six’s relationship was the definition of complicated. There’s really nothing better to say about it. It had its ups and devastating downs. Just when I thought I was truly getting to know them as a couple, the story ended. That dreaded cliffhanger appeared, and I didn’t know what to do with thoughts about them.

I had to think long and hard before giving Six Feet Under a rating. I hated how this book made me feel, but the story was so…I don’t know. It left me almost speechless. (Which is totally weird because this review is beginning to feel long.) I finished shortly before bedtime, and I couldn’t fall asleep. I kept thinking about it. The ending and the preview to the next book in the series wouldn’t let my brain quit. The frustrations I had and the anticipation to know what comes next was on a loop in my head. No matter how I felt about the book or the characters, the inability to let go of Six Feet Under proved to me what a powerful book it was. I planned on giving it 3 stars, but I knew it deserved 4.

It sounds like I don’t have anything positive to say, but there a lot of things I liked about this book. I feel like listing the things I liked will give away stuff I think other readers should experience on their own. I guess I’ll give you three things: Norah, Griffin, and George.

Now, I know you’re wondering after this weird review whether you should read Six Feet Under. I want to immediately respond with yes. The problem is that it’s not that simple. Six Feet Under is a dark read. It’s a romance, but it’s also more than that. It deals with untreated mental illness, drug and alcohol abuse, self-harm, and a bunch of other stuff. It’s real, raw, and gritty. It’s long and drawn out. There is nothing pretty about it. This isn’t the book you read for a happily ever after. If you can stomach that, then I recommend you pick up Six Feet Under. It’s an experience you won’t be able to stop thinking about — or at least I haven’t been able to.

Review: Sweet Little Lies by Sierra Hill

Sweet Little Lies
Series: The Sweetest Thing, #5
Author: Sierra Hill
Publication Date: February 6, 2018
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Sports Romance
Note: I won this book in a Goodreads’ giveaway and this review is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

Lance:
Some lies are meant to deceive. Others to protect.
My lies have done nothing but harm. They push people away. Even the people that I want to hold onto for dear life. Mica Reyes is too beautiful and pure for my tarnished soul, although I want her with a fierceness of a caged lion.
They say letting go of your grief and your sins will unburden you and set you free. But it’s her I need to set free from the pain I’ll cause from loving her too much.

Mica:
My Abuelita always said I should never give my heart away unless I knew it would be in capable hands. To give it to a man who would love and cherish me and put me first above all others.
But my heart didn’t listen. I fell for Lance Britton, the college basketball player who uses humor to outwardly disguise the emotional turmoil that lives inside him. To hide his painful secrets.
But I know him. And although I hate ultimatums, I may need to give him one before the lies between us grow any deeper. Letting go may be the only way to reach him.

This is a standalone book that can be read alone or accompanied by the other books in this series.
This book covers sensitive topics such as drug and alcohol addiction, recovery and racism.


Sweet Little Lies is a college sports romance that digs deeper than just falling in love and playing sports. It’s a story of two young adults finding love while dealing with addiction and racism.

Lance has wanted a relationship with his friend Mica since they met. He knows she’s different from all the girls he’s hooked up with in the past. She’s a forever kind of girl. Lance knows he doesn’t deserve her, but he can’t help but want her. Mica has kept her attraction for Lance hidden deep. She can’t afford to let her feelings free. Her family expects her to end up with a Mexican man. Lance is not one. He’s also a serious partier and womanizer. Mica has standards, and she won’t be just another hook up.

When Mica finally gives into Lances advances, they find a love neither could have truly imagined. They have a connection and chemistry that can’t be denied. Life isn’t easy, though. Soon their families’ views on interracial relationships and Lance’s addiction issues are tearing them apart. Their new-found relationship will have to weather obstacles it may not be able to survive.

I have to give Sierra Hill props for taking on two very tough topics. I loved how she dealt with racism in this book. Hearing Mica’s thoughts on her family’s opinions and those of other people was cool. Her truths were a little devastating, but I loved how strong she was. I also loved how Lance’s addiction was portrayed. He slowly and then quickly succumbed to it, and I imagine that’s how it might be in real life.

There is one question I had while reading Sweet Little Lies. How did Mica truly feel about Lance’s alcoholism and drug abuse? I don’t feel the book touched on this deeply enough. Mica was completely in love with and supportive of Lance, but other than her worries about him drinking, I didn’t learn how she felt about him using drugs. There was no hesitation or heavy thinking about whether she could handle the pressure of having a relationship with an addict. For someone as grounded and determined as Mica was, I expected her to have more internal strife about that than just worrying about if Lance was done with her. It just felt like a huge piece of the equation was left out. That might sound mean on my part because most of us want love to be unconditional, but there’s also the reality of how Mica was treated by Lance.The love Mica and Lance had for each other was sweet, but if I’m going to be honest, it was also a little toxic. If this would have been touched on, this would have been a 5 star read for me.

Overall, Sweet Little Lies was a good book that covered some very tough and socially relevant topics. Even though I found it to missing a little something, it is still a book I would recommend. I think we need more romance novels that deal with both racism and addiction.

Mini Reviews: Briarwood Academy series by Ilsa Madden-Mills

Today, I’m reviewing an entire New Adult series:

Briarwood Academy
Author: Ilsa Madden-Mills

Publisher: Little Dove Publishing


Very Bad Things
Book #1

Publication Date: September 7, 2013

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Born into a life of privilege and secrets, Nora Blakely has everything any nineteen-year-old girl could desire. She’s an accomplished pianist, a Texas beauty queen, and on her way to Princeton after high school. She’s perfect…

Leaving behind her million-dollar mansion and Jimmy Choos, she becomes a girl hell-bent on pushing the limits with alcohol, drugs, and meaningless sex.

Then she meets her soulmate. But he doesn’t want her.

When it comes to girls, twenty-five-year-old Leo Tate has one rule: never fall in love. His gym and his brother are all he cares about…until he meets Nora. He resists the pull of their attraction, hung up on their six year age difference.

As they struggle to stay away from each other, secrets will be revealed, tempers will flare, and hearts will be broken.

Welcome to Briarcrest Academy…where sometimes, the best things in life are Very Bad Things.


For a debut new adult romance, Very Bad Things was very good. It had everything I would expect a book in this sub genre to have. It was filled with romantic angst. I could feel the deep connection between Leo and Nora. Their chemistry vibrated off the pages. The only thing that I wasn’t sure if I liked or not was Nora’s brother Finn’s storyline. It made me a little sick. This book has been out for a while, so I’m going to add a

**SPOILER / TRIGGER WARNING RIGHT HERE**

There is talk of incest in this book. If you can’t handle it, you may want to avoid reading it.

**END SPOILER / TRIGGER WARNING**

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I loved Nora, Leo, and Leo’s brother Sebastian. It’s made me excited to read more of the story.


Very Wicked Beginnings
Book #1.5
Publication Date: May 11, 2014

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

A ballerina from the wrong side of town…
The wealthy football star who can’t forget her…

Meet Cuba Hudson, the heartbreaker of Briarwood Academy:

I’m the tattooed bad boy girls think they can change.
I have it all: a football career, a stellar GPA, and a family that owns half of Dallas, Texas. Everyone wants to be me, but all I want is to forget…

Then she shows up.

Dovey Beckham arrives at Briarwood Academy and looks right through me, unconcerned that I rule the school. I wasn’t part of her precious plan, and it drove me insane…so I made it my mission to claim her, to put her notch on my bedpost.

She would be mine and her heart would be broken.

I didn’t plan on falling for her, and I sure as hell didn’t plan on losing her…

Welcome to Briarwood Academy…where sometimes, the best things in life are Very Wicked Beginnings.


Very Wicked Beginnings made me want more of Cuba and Dovey’s story. I liked everything I learned about them in the book. I also like seeing Spider. When I read his book, I didn’t realize his character originated in this series.


Very Wicked Things
Book #2
Publication Date: May 10, 2014

Rating: ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Born on the poor side of town…

Ballerina Dovey Beckham is a scholarship student at Briarwood Academy, determined to prove she’s more than just a girl with the wrong pedigree. She does whatever it takes to succeed in her endgame, even if it means surrendering her body…but never her heart.

Until the day she meets him, and he rips apart all her well-laid plans. Suddenly, the girl everyone thought unbreakable might just shatter.

Born into wealth and privilege…

Cuba “Hollywood” Hudson is rich, spoiled, and a star football player. With his fast cars and superficial girlfriends, he lives the high-life, hiding his secrets from the world.

Until the day he meets her, and she offers him something he’s never tasted…love.

But once in a lifetime kind of love doesn’t come easy. When trust crumbles and doubts creep in, both will have to decide to either love or let go…forever.

Welcome to Briarwood Academy, where sometimes, only the wicked survive.


Very Wicked Things was so angst filled I almost couldn’t handle it. When I started it, I felt like I missed something from the Very Wicked Beginnings. The story didn’t start off where I was expecting. I still liked Cuba and Dovey as a couple, and I loved their back stories. The only thing I didn’t like was one major ARC of the story. I wasn’t into the whole mob thing and the choice Dovey made. It made me sad. Very Wicked Things stressed me out too much!


Very Twisted Things
Book #3
Publication Date: February 27, 2015

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

A sassy violinist who lives next door.
An obsessed rock star who watches her through binoculars.
And one night when she bares it all.
Life will never be the same in Tinseltown.

Vital Rejects front guy Sebastian Tate never imagined his YouTube music video would go viral, sky-rocketing him to acting success in Hollywood. Okay, maybe he did. After all, he’s a cocky dude who knows he’s hot-as-hell, and it was only a matter of time before his stars aligned.

But life in Tinseltown is never what it seems.

After being cheated on by his ex-lover, his only rule to falling in love is simple: Keep Calm and Don’t Do It. So, spying on his mysterious new neighbor with binoculars seems innocent enough, but quickly escalates into an erotic game between two very unlikely people.

Twenty-year-old Violet St. Lyons is a world-renowned violinist who’s lost her mojo on stage. She hides away in a Hollywood mansion, trying to find her way through her twisted past in order to make her future.

He’s the life of the party with girls chasing him down for his autograph. She’s the introvert with a potty mouth who doesn’t even know who he is.

When they meet, stars collide, sparks fly, and clothes come off. Yet, giving his heart to a girl isn’t Sebastian’s plan; falling for a guy who craves attention isn’t Violet’s.

Welcome to Briarcrest Academy—Hollywood style—where sometimes the best things in life are VERY TWISTED THINGS.

This book is a standalone even though it’s part of a series. Everything you need to know is in this book. Genre: 18+ Hot New Adult Romance.


Ever since I met boisterous Sebastian in Very Bad Things, I’ve wanted his story. Everything that’s happened from the moment I met him in that first book to the kind of cliffhanger of his ARC in the second book had me wondering who he’d end up with. I liked Violet as his love interest from the moment I met her. Her story started off in a heartbreaking fashion, and I couldn’t wait for Sebastian to fill the hole in her heart. This book was my favorite in the series.

Review: Midnight Blue by L.J. Shen

SBPR-BT-BANNER.jpg

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

LJSMidnightBlueBookCover6x9_BW_324

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

Read Today!

(Free in Kindle Unlimited)
Amazon US:
http://amzn.to/2FNBCMg
Amazon Universal:
http://mybook.to/MidnightBlue|

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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: Spider by Ilsa Madden-Mills

Spider
Author: Ilsa Madden-Mills
Publication Date: November 13, 2017
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary

Rating: ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

He’s a British rock star.
And my stepbrother.
What can go wrong?

He called himself Spider. I just knew him as the sinfully gorgeous guy with eyes of fire that fate sat next to me on the airplane. I didn’t know who he really was…rock star…my stepbrother.

He kissed me because he thought we’d never see each other again. We would.

Everyone warned me about him.
They said he was ruthless and cold and screwed up.
They said he’d leave me with a hole in my heart.

Maybe I should have listened.
Maybe I should have built up a fortress to keep him out.
But I crumbled instead.

Some have said there’s an unbreakable thread that connects those who are destined to meet. If that’s true, then the moment he sat next to me, we were bound together forever.

He just had to figure it out before it’s too late…


I almost didn’t read Spider. I saw “step-brother” in the blurb, and was like no thank you. Then, I reconsidered. I love Ilsa Madden-Mills’ writing. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to miss out on one of her books. When I realized Spider was part of the KU program, I went ahead and downloaded it.

I have some mixed feelings about Spider. I liked it for the most part. The whole step-brother thing wasn’t an issue for me. Rose and Spider are newly acquainted step-siblings. They didn’t grow up together. Their attraction preceded their knowledge of their new familial status. I liked their connection and most of the scenarios they ended up in.

My biggest problem was Rose’s age at the beginning. She was only seventeen, not quite an adult. Spider didn’t know this at first, but once he did I felt a little uncomfortable with his attraction to Rose. He wasn’t that much older, but it still kind of bugged me. Luckily, not all of the story was in this age gap.

Another thing I had issues with was Trenton. I’m not going to say what went down, but I was a little disappointed in Rose. It was all resolved well, but still. She was too good of a person for it.

Despite this all sounding negative, I did enjoy reading Spider. The story kept my attention, and I loved the ending. I just wish those couple of things didn’t bug me so much.

Release Day Review: Logan by Jay McLean

 

Release Day Blitz

Title: Logan – A Preston Brothers Novel #2

Author: Jay McLean

Release Day: October 1, 2017

PURCHASE
LINKS:
BLURB
As
a kid, Logan Preston was a brat.
Through his teens, he
became the bad boy.
Now, at nineteen, no one knows what the
hell to expect.
High
school dropout, Logan Preston is a
good-for-nothing
stoner.
A black sheep.
A disappointment.
The
worst Preston Punk of the lot.
At least that’s how everyone in
his small town
makes him feel.
But Logan Preston
has secrets.
Secrets so dark and so deep below the surface
that the only way he can fight them is to stay high, high, high.
He
wears cockiness as a mask.
Arrogance as his armor.
Until
one girl, one night, asks one life-changing question:
What’s
beneath the bravado, Logan Preston?

REVIEW:

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Note: I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an unbiased review.

I’m all out of feels right now, people!

I have to admit I put off reading this ARC for a few days after receiving it. Normally, I would dive right into a Jay McLean novel, but I couldn’t do it with this book.There were two reasons. One, I knew the moment I started reading Logan I wouldn’t be able to stop. I would read it until I was done, and then I would have to pathetically wait for McLean’s next book. Two, I knew Logan was going to wreck me. That was a self-fulfilling prophecy. Both of those things happened.

Once again, Jay McLean wrote a book that held me in its clutches from the moment I began reading it. Shockingly, it wasn’t a love at first read for me. That had nothing to do with McLean’s storytelling and all to do with Logan. He and his decisions drove me absolutely crazy. I didn’t understand how someone with such an amazing family and support system could act the way he did. (He was definitely someone I would have avoided as a teenager in real life). I, like Aubrey, wanted to know what was behind his bravado.

The more I read, the more Logan made sense to me, and the more I loved his character. There was so much more to him than I originally thought. His inner demons were way stronger than I was expecting. His experience was so different from Lucy or Lucas’ and I came to admire him by the end of this book.

As for Aubrey, that girl rocked. She was so much stronger than she gave herself credit for. She may have been all sweetness, but there was so much fight in her. She was exactly the person Logan needed in his life.

I can’t end this review without saying how much I loved the part the rest of the Preston family played in this story. Lachlan especially stood out. That kid was wise beyond his years. I also can’t leave out Tom Preston. What an amazing father.

There’s not much else I can say about Logan without spoiling the story other than it was an emotional journey that I loved. Logan is one of those books you really have to experience for yourself to understand its magic.

GOODREADS
LINK:
OTHER
BOOKS IN SERIES:
More
Than Forever (More Than #4):
http://amzn.to/2gUKZOq
Lucas
(Preston Brothers Novel) #1:
http://bit.ly/2vLc8JP

GIVEAWAY:

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AUTHOR
BIO
  She writes what she loves to read, which are books that can make her laugh, make her hurt and make her feel.
 Jay lives in the suburbs of Melbourne, Australia, in a forever half-done home where music is loud and laughter is louder.
 Jay McLean is an international best-selling author and full-time reader, writer of New Adult Romance, and most of all, procrastinator. When she’s not doing any of those things, she can be found running after her two little boys, playing house and binge watching Netflix.
 
 

Review: After Ever Happy by Anna Todd

After Ever Happy
Series: After, #4
Author: Anna Todd
Publication Date: February 24, 2015
Publisher: Gallery Books
Genre: Romance, Contemporary, New Adult

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

Tessa and Hardin have defied all the odds, but will their fairy tale ending be turned on its head? AFTER EVER HAPPY…Life will never be the same. #HESSA

It’s never been all rainbows and sunshine for Tessa and Hardin, but each new challenge they’ve faced has only made their passionate bond stronger and stronger. But when a revelation about the past shakes Hardin’s inpenetrable façade to the core—and then Tessa suffers a tragedy—will they stick together again, or be torn apart?

As the shocking truth about each of their families emerges, it’s clear the two lovers are not so different from each other. Tessa is no longer the sweet, simple, good girl she was when she met Hardin—any more than he is the cruel, moody boy she fell so hard for. Tessa understands all the troubling emotions brewing beneath Hardin’s exterior, and she knows she’s the only one who can calm him when he erupts. He needs her.

But the more layers of his past come to light, the darker he grows, and the harder he pushes Tessa—and everyone else in his life—away. Tessa’s not sure if she really can save him—not without sacrificing herself. She refuses to go down without a fight. But who is she fighting for—Hardin or herself?


I liked this book. I can’t believe I’m saying that after my feelings for the previous books in this series. The only thing that’s kept me reading is Anna Todd’s knack for creating cliffhangers that I can’t resist. I’ve hated Tessa and Hardin’s abusive relationship for so long. I honestly can’t believe After Ever Happy had me changing my tune. I actually wanted Tessa and Hardin together in this book! Say what?

I wish Anna Todd would have written this book sooner in the series. After Ever Happy had everything I have wanted from this series in it. Tessa, Hardin and their relationship went places I wish they would have gone a lot sooner. If this somehow had been the second book in the series, things would have been so much better for me!

Tessa finally got a clue. She realized what everyone has known about her relationship with Hardin from the moment they met. I was proud of the growth she made in this book. Tessa finally made the changes she needed to make to change the cycle of her life. The changes Tessa made forced Hardin to confront his faults.

Hardin… Another thing I can’t believe I’m saying, but Hardin wowed me. He redeemed himself in ways I thought would never happen. Hardin did everything in his power to make himself a better person. He won me over, and I would have never ever expected that to happen. I have hated him for so long that I can’t even understand how I can love him now, but I do. Well, just in this book.

Tessa and Hardin’s relationship came full circle in After Ever Happy. It was just as drama filled as the rest of the series, but the drama felt less crazy and more productive. Everything that happened was for a reason and pushed Tessa and Hardin to the place they needed to be. Nothing felt completely unnecessary. (Well, except for Zed. He’s always unnecessary in my book). I was surprised at how much angst I felt, and how I longed for Tessa and Hardin to reach a happy place.

My only big complaint is that the last 25% of this books had way too many time jumps. I felt like an important time frame was skipped in the first two year jump. I liked some of the other jumps, but overall I was left with a lot of questions.

I’m happy I kept reading this series because this book was its salvation in my eyes. It dealt with Tessa and Hardin’s abusive relationship in a more positive way, and was able to show how long it can take to change an unhealthy pattern. I also have to say that Anna Todd’s writing has grown so much from the beginning to the end of this series. I am happy to say that I am finally excited to read more of her books. (Yes, that means I’ll be reading Before and Landon’s books.)

Review: After We Fell by Anna Todd

After We Fell
Series: After
Author: Anna Todd
Publication Date: December 30, 2014
Publisher: Gallery Books
Genre: Romance, Contemporary, New Adult

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

Synopsis:

Tessa and Hardin’s love was complicated before. Now it’s more confusing than ever. AFTER WE FELL…Life will never be the same. #HESSA

Just as Tessa makes the biggest decision of her life, everything changes. Revelations about first her family, and then Hardin’s, throw everything they knew before in doubt and makes their hard-won future together more difficult to claim.

Tessa’s life begins to come unglued. Nothing is what she thought it was. Not her friends. Not her family. The one person she should be able to rely on, Hardin, is furious when he discovers the massive secret she’s been keeping. And rather than being understanding, he turns to sabotage.

Tessa knows Hardin loves her and will do anything to protect her, but there’s a difference between loving someone and being able to have them in your life. This cycle of jealousy, unpredictable anger, and forgiveness is exhausting. She’s never felt so intensely for anyone, so exhilarated by someone’s kiss—but is the irrepressible heat between her and Hardin worth all the drama? Love used to be enough to hold them together. But if Tessa follows her heart now, will it be…the end?


In my review for After We Collided (After, #2), I said I didn’t want to continue this series but would because I had to know what crazy stuff Anna Todd could possibly come up with in the rest of the series. I couldn’t think of any crazier situations than she had already written. I mean, how much drama can one couple go through. Evidently, a lot because After We Fell continued the crazy.

Tessa and Hardin’s relationship continued to go through constant emotional upheaval. Their relationship sprung to abusive heights that disgusted me. I have said it in my previous reviews and I’ll say it again, Hardin needs psychological help. He is one messed up jerk. (And that’s putting it lightly.) Anna Todd gives us all these reasons why Hardin is the way he is, but it’s no excuse for how he treats Tessa. I was proud that he came to a couple of realizations in this book, but it didn’t rehabilitate him at all.

I was proud of Tessa a few times in this book. She’s began to realize things as well, and she did a better job of sticking up for herself. Tessa made some good decisions, but she has given Hardin too many chances. I still wish she would find a true knight in shining armor who wouldn’t treat her the way Hardin does. I was happy that she finally understood that Zed wasn’t her friend and how she ended up handling it.

There were several surprises in this book. Most I saw coming, but a couple shocked me. I was left wondering how Tessa and Hardin could know so many horrible people. I don’t think I’ve met this many horrible people in my lifetime. Maybe I have. I could be wrong. I just want to know where all the normal people are in their lives? Well, I guess they do have Landon, Karen and Kimberly.

I hate to say it, but I think the After series is starting to grow on me. Well, parts of it are at least. I know the series won’t end how I want it to, but I can curious to see how it all wraps up. So, yes, I will be reading the other books in this series.

Review: Trust by Kylie Scott

Being young is all about the experiences: the first time you skip school, the first time you fall in love…the first time someone holds a gun to your head.                                                                                                                                                                         After being held hostage during a robbery at the local convenience store, seventeen year old Edie finds her attitude about life shattered. Unwilling to put up with the snobbery and bullying at her private school, she enrolls at the local public high school, crossing paths with John. The boy who risked his life to save hers.                                                                                                                                 While Edie’s beginning to run wild, however, John’s just starting to settle down. After years of partying and dealing drugs with his older brother, he’s going straight—getting to class on time, and thinking about the future.                                                                                                                             An unlikely bond grows between the two as John keeps Edie out of trouble and helps her broaden her horizons. But when he helps her out with another first—losing her virginity—their friendship gets complicated.

Meanwhile, Edie and John are pulled back into the dangerous world they narrowly escaped. They were lucky to survive the first time, but this time they have more to lose—each other.

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My Review:

My Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Note: I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

Hmm…This was one of those books that’s hard to rate. It was a book I couldn’t put down, and yet, there were some things that bothered me about it. I’m going to break this review into things I loved about Trust and things I didn’t.

Things I loved:

  • I’ve read one other contemporary romance from Kylie Scott, but this book was way different from that one. It was way more raw and emotion filled. I don’t think I would have realized the two books had the same author if her name wasn’t on the front of the cover. I liked this darker novel more.
  • The explosive beginning of Trust was a great way to set up the entire book. The descriptions of everything that went on and Edie’s thoughts throughout the whole event were amazing. I loved how the incident changed Edie and set her on a different path.
  • Edie’s transition to public school opened so many new doors for her. I loved the new friends she made, and how it allowed her to reconnect with John. The friendship they developed slowly morphed throughout the story and I liked that path it took.

Things I didn’t love:

  • Edie was a “bigger” girl. She described herself as being flabby around the middle with thunder thighs. I could understand her body consciousness and thoughts relating to her body. I thought they represented true thoughts and feelings of a teenage girl who was larger in size than her peers. I appreciated that, but I also wanted more. If a writer’s going there with an overweight main character, I like to see some self-realization for the character. Maybe her body isn’t “perfect” in societal standards, but she comes to realize her body is just as beautiful as everyone else’s. I wanted something teenage girls who read this could learn something from body wise. I didn’t get that with this book.
  • It was a little weird was John’s character was a drug dealer. He was super popular and wanted by all the girls — for being a hot drug dealer??? That blew my mind. I get the cute part, but are drug dealers really super popular in high school these days? I don’t remember girls lusting after drug dealers in my high school years, but maybe I was oblivious to who was dealing drugs. Drugs and alcohol were prevalent in this book, and weren’t really a big deal.
  • Some moments I wasn’t sure I believed John’s attraction to Edie. It had nothing to do with her weight and everything to do with not having his point of view in this book. On one hand, John did a lot of sweet things for Edie. On the other, his only tell that he might have wanted more than friendship was the couple of times he checked out her boobs. Having his point of view included would have helped clear up John’s feelings a little better.

Overall, Trust was a book I truly enjoyed reading. It was dark, mature YA romance with a great cast of characters. I would love for this book to lead to a series. I was really interested in Anders and Hang’s relationship, and would love to learn more about them.

TRUST by Kylie Scott (Official Book Trailer) from FILM 14 on Vimeo.

Excerpt:

“You were going to give it up to Duncan Dickerson?” he sneered. “Are you serious?”

I halted, staring at him. This was not good. “How do you know about that?”

“Anders overheard you and Hang talking.”

“Bastard.”

“Well?” he demanded, acting all authoritarian. Idiot.

“To be fair, I didn’t know his last name was Dickerson,” I said. “That’s unfortunate. Though, I wasn’t actually planning on marrying him, so . . .”

“Not funny.”

I shrugged.

“You barely know the guy.”

“Um, yeah. None of your concern. We’re not talking about this.” How mortifying! My face burned bright. People should just gather around and cook s’mores. “I appreciate that we’re friends. You mean a lot to me. But this is going to have to fall under definitely none of your damn business, so go away please.”

“We’re talking about it.” He advanced a step.

“No we are not.” And I retreated.

“You were going to let a complete stranger touch you.” Advance.

Retreat. “People do it all the time. You do it all the time.”

“But you don’t,” he said, taking the final step, backing me up against the side of his car and getting all in my face. “Edie, this is your first time we’re talking about. Isn’t it?”

“Yes, and it’s going to be messy and painful and probably horribly embarrassing and I just want it over and done with.” I tried to meet his eyes but failed, settling for a spot on his right shoulder. “You’re not a girl; you wouldn’t understand. Also, last time I checked, you’re not the gatekeeper of my hymen, John Cole. So back the fuck off.”

He said nothing.

Deep, calming breaths. “Look, someday I’ll meet someone I really like and we’ll have a deep and meaningful relationship and go at it like bunnies. But I don’t want to be the dumb virgin in that scenario.”

He slowly shook his head.

“Also, I do not want to die a virgin.”

“What? What the hell are you talking about?”

“Hey, you and I both know death can occur at any time.”

“This is crazy.”

“I’m seeing a therapist!” I told his shoulder. “I don’t know if you noticed, but I’m a little bit messed up these days. It’s hard for me to trust people. That’s not going to change anytime soon.”

He screwed up his face at me. “Wha—”

“I’m just trying to be practical.”

“Well, you’re being ridiculous. None of this makes sense.”

“It does to me.”

Again, he said nothing.

In fact, he said nothing for so long that I finally looked him in the eye. The anger had left him, replaced by an emotion I didn’t recognize. Worst of all, he still smelled like summer. A little sweat and the open night air, everything I loved. Liked. I meant liked.

“What?” I said, finally.

He let loose a breath. “I’ll do it.”

About the Author:

kyliescottimageKylie is a New York Times and USA Today best-selling author. She was voted Australian Romance Writer of the year, 2013 & 2014, by the Australian Romance Writer’s Association and her books have been translated into eleven different languages. She is a long time fan of romance, rock music, and B-grade horror films. Based in Queensland, Australia with her two children and husband, she reads, writes and never dithers around on the internet. You can learn more about Kylie from http://www.kylie-scott.com/.

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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.