Review: What I Never Knew by C.L. Collier

What I Never Knew
Series: What I Never Knew, #1
Author: C.L. Collier
Publication Date: March 15, 2018
Genre: Women’s Fiction, Contemporary Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

I told myself I was done with men. After a string of bad relationships, then the devastation of losing my mom to cancer, I knew life would never be the same.

Losing my mom was hard enough, but finding out she had lied to me my entire life has rocked me to the core. Even still, I carry out her last wishes and return to her hometown in California.

I was expecting to learn about my mom’s life and extended family, but of course, it’s never that simple. My world changes when I meet Dax, and he makes me question everything.

I have to return home to Seattle, but I also have to make a choice. I swore I was done with relationships and I was happy being single, but there’s something about Dax that I don’t want to leave behind.


I am very excited and proud to introduce to you a new author today. Her name is CL Collier, and I have a feeling her name is one you’ll be hearing in upcoming years. CL and I went to school together during our teen years. She’s someone I’ve reconnected with as an adult over Facebook by noticing we have some favorite authors in common. When I learned she was writing a novel, I wanted to read it.

Normally, I would be super hesitant to read a book by an author I grew up with. There’s always that niggling feeling in the back of your head saying, “What if I don’t like it?” I didn’t have that hesitation with CL’s book. I think that love of the same authors thing gave me faith in her ability to tell a story I would like to hear. My instincts totally paid off because I really enjoyed What I Never Knew.

What I Never Knew was the story of woman discovering her mother’s past after her death. Thirty-eight year old Amanda was incredibly close to her mother prior to her death. When a journal her mother wrote for Amanda is given to her after her mother’s death, Amanda is shocked to find out her mother had a secret past. Determined to get to know her mother better, Amanda departs on a journey to her mother’s hometown. Her mother’s past isn’t the only thing that awaits Amanda on her journey. Amanda might just find love when she least expects it.

Like I said above, I really enjoyed What I Never Knew. For a first novel, the writing was impressive. I’ve read first novels where the writing felt bogged down or not as smooth as a seasoned author. I didn’t feel that way with What I Never Knew. I was pleased at how quickly I was pulled into Amanda’s story, and how well it flowed.

Amanda was an interesting character. She was a single woman who taught for a living. She wasn’t pining over finding a man or having a family. The only disappointment Amanda felt was of losing her mother. Even in grief, Amanda was a strong woman. I loved that she was content in her life the way it was. I also loved the curiosity she had regarding her mother’s previous life. I could really identify with that. There’s so much we never know about our own parents.

Dax was actually my favorite character in What I Never Knew. For some reason, I really loved reading from his perspective. It was a little more relaxed than Amanda’s. I could understand her pull to him by reading his thoughts and actions. He swept me off my feet while he was sweeping Amanda off hers.

One of my favorite things about What I Never Knew were the friendships in it. Amanda had an amazing support system. Laura and Krista were so different, but each had a role in Amanda’s life. They lifted her up when she needed it, and she did the same for them. I loved reading their shared experiences. It made me think of my own special, lifelong friendships.

I only had a couple of little frustrations with What I Never Knew. First, I would have loved for Amanda’s mom’s secrets to be even more juicy, even more salacious. They were good, but I wanted more drama. Maybe I just needed the secrets to be described even more. Second, I felt for a minute like I missed a turning point in Dax and Amanda’s relationship. Amanda reacted to something heavily, and it caught me off guard. I don’t know if it was something I personally missed or if things just jumped in time and circumstance faster than I was prepared for.

Another thing I wasn’t prepared for was the ending! It was great! I was so shocked! I didn’t expect it to end when it did or in the way it did. What I Never Knew definitely left me hungering for more! I’m so excited to find out where this story goes in the next book!

What I Never Knew was a great début novel. If you’re a fan of women’s fiction with a heavy dose of romance, What I Never Knew would be right up your alley. CL Collier’s storytelling reminds me a bit of Kristan Higgins’ newer novels or somewhat of Kristin Hannah’s early novels about family relationships and love. It was filled with love, friendship, and family.

BUY NOW!

Review: Still Me by Jojo Moyes

Still Me
Series: Me Before You, #3
Author: Jojo Moyes
Narrator: Anna Acton
Publication Date: January 23, 2018
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary, Women’s Fiction, Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Louisa Clark arrives in New York ready to start a new life, confident that she can embrace this new adventure and keep her relationship with Ambulance Sam alive across several thousand miles. She is thrown into the world of the superrich Gopniks: Leonard and his much younger second wife, Agnes, and a never-ending array of household staff and hangers-on. Lou is determined to get the most out of the experience and throws herself into her job and New York life within this privileged world.

Before she knows what’s happening, Lou is mixing in New York high society, where she meets Joshua Ryan, a man who brings with him a whisper of her past. In Still Me, as Lou tries to keep the two sides of her world together, she finds herself carrying secrets–not all her own–that cause a catastrophic change in her circumstances. And when matters come to a head, she has to ask herself Who is Louisa Clark? And how do you reconcile a heart that lives in two places?


I read Me Before You when it was released. It was the first book I read that made me question some of my beliefs. It really hit me hard, and I was so excited to hear the series would continue with After You. After You was…well, it was a rough read. It was full or mourning and devastation. It was uncomfortable and nothing like Me Before You. I didn’t feel inspired after reading it, BUT (and that’s a big but) the end left me curious. It left me believing there was more in store for Louisa Clark. That brings me to Still Me.

Still Me was a pleasant surprise. Louisa was back to that original Louisa from Me Before You. She’s got her groove back — even if it is still an awkward, fumbling sort of groove. Louisa’s in a new country with new employers trying to figure out where she fits in. She’s trying to keep her relationship with Sam going from a distance while meeting new people and forming new bonds. I loved the Louisa in Still Me. I loved how she approached her new life. She made me a little crazy at times, but I understood each decision she made. Her journey in Still Me was very special.

My favorite thing about this book was that Louisa’s story went full circle. It felt she finally hit her stride and got to be the person she was meant to be. Her life might have been a rollercoaster from the very beginning, but it was one that ended with my smile when I closed the book. Jojo Moyes did right by Louisa and I felt so happy to have experienced all of her ups and downs in Still Me and the entire Me Before You series.

Review: Then There Was You by Claire Contreras

Then There Was You
Series: Second Chances Duet, #1
Author: Claire Contreras
Publication Date: March 1, 2018
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Love and the right timing were two things I didn’t believe in.

Love is about walking to the edge of the cliff and taking the leap together.
Timing was never on our side.
My first mistake was hooking up with my best friend.
My second came years later, when we met again, and I fell for her.
My third was letting her go, because I had to. Because a love like this wasn’t built to withstand the winds coming in our direction.

Love and timing.
I didn’t believe in either.
Then there was you . . .


Hmm… This is a tough review for me to write. I love Claire Contreras’ writing, but I didn’t exactly love this book. It wasn’t the story that rubbed me the wrong way, but the tone of it. Really, it was because of Tessa. I had a hard time connecting with her character. She was so hostile and angry for the majority of the book. Her anger and resentment made me feel those exact emotions while reading. It was so uncomfortable! That’s actually a compliment to Claire Contreras’ writing. She’s so talented that she made me feel what her characters were feeling. I just didn’t like feeling that way, and it affected my reading experience.

That being said, there were some great things about this book. The plot was unique and very good. I couldn’t have guessed where the story was headed, even though I did guess what the big shocker would be at the end. The last third of the book was definitely my favorite part of the story because of everything that went down. It’s made me excited for the next book in this duet.

I also liked Rowan. Many of his decisions drove me nuts, but he tried to do what he thought was the right thing. His relationship with his family interested me. The more I learned about them, the more I wanted to know. I was especially curious about his relationship with his brother.

While I didn’t love this book, I think it was well worth reading because I have a feeling the next book in the duet is going to be epic. I really, really want to know what’s to come!

Review: Cracked Kingdom by Erin Watt

Cracked Kingdom
Series: The Royals, #5
Author: Erin Watt
Publication Date: February 28, 2018
Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Young Adult

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ 

Synopsis:

These Royals will ruin you.

Ever since Hartley Wright met Easton Royal, her life hasn’t been the same. There are enemies behind every corner and dangers beyond each door. When tragedy strikes and steals her memories, she can’t trust anyone, not even the blue-eyed boy who promises her that everything will be all right.

Because while Hartley’s memory is full of gaps, her instincts tell her Easton is dangerous. She doesn’t know if he’s the snake in the garden or her chance at salvation. The chaos he brings wherever he goes is too much to handle, the intense feelings he evokes are too confusing to unravel.

Easton wants her to remember. Hartley thinks it’s better to forget.

She might be right.

Tragedy. Treachery. Trust. Hartley has to face the facts—in this world, you can’t escape the Royals.

Either you live by their rules or you die by them.


Fallen Heir, book four in The Royals series, gave us an Easton we weren’t familiar with. Gone was the protector and friend we thought we knew. In his place was a womanizing alcoholic. It was hard to match the Easton of the first three The Royals books up with the broken boy from Fallen Heir. Because of this change in Easton, some people weren’t very happen with that book. I still really enjoyed it, but I was curious to know how Erin Watt would get us back to the Easton we knew and loved.

The answer to that was Cracked KingdomCracked Kingdom felt more like the first three books than the fourth. It had Erin Watt’s amazing writing, all of my favorite (and not so favorite) characters, a swoon-y love, and drama galore. I also can’t leave out the shocking surprises it had in store. Those are what make The Royals series so hard to put down.

I have to admit that I was a little hesitant about Cracked Kingdom‘s storyline at first. I’m not usually into amnesia plots. This one really worked, though! It was set up a little differently, and I loved that. Hartley was uneasy most of the book, and that was actually fun. I also found myself connecting better with her character as she got to know herself. I ended up liking Hartley a lot more than I did in Fallen Heir. Having her own point of view really helped.

Easton… Well, Easton still had problems, but what happened at the end of the fourth book and the beginning of this one seemed to pull him out of what held him captive. I truly felt like I had one of my favorite characters back. I loved how he was with his family and Hartley in this one. This book felt almost like a fresh start for Easton and Hartley.

As for the rest of the Royal clan, they were as fun to read about as always. I loved being back in their world with all the deceitful people surrounding them. Every character brought something I wasn’t expecting to the story.  I even liked seeing those characters I hate.

I flew through Cracked Kingdom and enjoyed every minute with it. I was surprised by some of the directions the authors went, but I liked how it all worked out. I’m sad The Royals series is over because I would have loved a book about the twins (I still need to know exactly what was up with them and Lauren.), but I understand why the authors are ending things where they did. Cracked Kingdom was a great end to a truly amazing series.

Review: All You Need by Lorelei James

All You Need
Series: Need You, #3
Author: Lorelei James
Publication Date: April 4, 2017
Publisher: Berkley Books
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Sports

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

A hockey romance burns up the ice in the third sexy Need You novel from the New York Times bestselling author of the Mastered Series and the Blacktop Cowboys® Series.

PR agent Annika Lund can spin any disaster into a win. But revamping the reputation of a notorious Swedish hockey player will take every trick in her arsenal, especially when his agent insists that convincing everyone he’s no longer a playboy is top priority. And that it requires a sham relationship—with Annika playing the part of loving girlfriend.

On fire in the rink and in the bedroom, Axl Hammerquist couldn’t care less about being anyone’s golden boy. So when his agent forces him to play nice with a new publicist, he takes satisfaction in being as much of a pain as possible. But the more time he spends getting to know Annika, the more Axl starts to think that being Mr. Nice Guy might be worth it if it gets him the girl…


Okay hockey romance fans, I have a book for you to read!

All You Need is a hockey romance that had so many of the things I love in it. Axel and Annika’s story includes a fake relationship, a hate to love story, and a bad boy who needs redeeming. It’s filled with witty dialog and amazing chemistry, and the plot was so much fun.

I loved Annika and Axel. Both were stubborn, independent people. This might be something that kept two people apart, but it brought these two together. They made a really great team whether they were pretending or being real. I loved that about them. I also loved how they both had a soft side only brought out by the other. It was sweet.

All of the series regulars also make an appearance in All You Need. I especially loved Annika’s mom’s crazy comments and learning more about Lucy. I really hope Lucy and Annika’s cousin get a second chance romance of their own! But not worry — if you haven’t read any of the other books in the series, you don’t need to. It can totally be read as a standalone.

I can’t leave out the hockey in this book! There aren’t a lot of actual hockey moments, but there are some great teammate moments. The guys on the Wild brought even more comedy and fun to All You Need.

I’ve been reading the Need You series a little out-of-order. I read the first book, the fourth, and then the second. I was sure the fourth book about football player Jensen would always be my favorite. I was wrong. All You Need is my new favorite. I loved it so much. I really, really hope Lorelei James continues this series! I would love books about the Lund cousins.

Review: Emerald by Elle Casey

Emerald
Series: Red Hot Love, #2
Author: Elle Casey
Publication Date: April 12, 2018
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Genre: Contemporary Romance, New Adult
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

A million reasons to go home. One hot reason to stay.

Emerald Collins is nothing like her strong-willed sister Amber. When she found out her father was a member of the legendary rock group Red Hot, sensitive Em was determined to carry on as normal—she had no interest in finding out more about her dad or leaving her quiet sanctuary in Maine.

But while visiting Amber in New York, Em meets Sam, a tortured, sexy, and utterly unsuitable musician. Sam and Em are used to life behind the scenes but their undeniable attraction is about to put them right in the spotlight.

When Sam reveals a shocking secret about his past, Emerald has to make a choice. Will she follow her head and return home or is the magnetism between them and the excitement of the big city enough for her to follow her heart?


Emerald is not happy with her sister Amber for moving to New York to work for the band her father is in. They had an agreement not to let the band into their lives, but that’s something Amber seems to have forgotten now that she’s in a relationship with the band’s new guitar player Ty. Emerald is determined to avoid anything to do with the band. She’s able to do just that until Amber forces her to visit New York.

In New York, Emerald meet’s Ty’s brother Sam and they instantly hit it off. They have a lot in common, and Emerald decides Sam might just make this trip to New York worth it. Things are going perfectly until Sam’s secret calls him back to Los Angeles. Emerald has to decide if his secret is too much for her and the short time she’s had with Sam is over, or if she can open her heart to new adventures.

I have to admit that I didn’t love Amber. I liked it, but her personality really put me off. I was curious as to where the series would continue to go, so I wanted to read Emerald. I was hoping I would enjoy this sister’s personality and therefore the book more.

Emerald was easier to digest than Amber. Her personality was quieter, less in your face. I loved that she felt such a deep connection to her upbringing, and wasn’t so quickly swayed from that way of life. I did get frustrated with her stubbornness at times, but I understood it. I felt she had a genuine connection with Sam. I enjoyed how their love bloomed.

Sam was a surprise. I don’t know what I expected from his character, but it wasn’t what I got. He was a really great guy. Sadie proved that. The whole story around Sam and Sadie was sad, but sweet. I really liked it, and I liked how it fit with Sam and Emerald’s story. It made me like Emerald even more.

I do have a couple of complaints about Emerald. One was the insta-love. Everything happened within a week or two, and it felt too fast for me. I needed more time for Sam and Emerald’s love to grow. I guess I sort of got that with the epilogue, but I needed more. The other thing that bugged me a bit was the father storyline. I don’t want to give it away, but I still feel unresolved with it. I’m scared Rose’s book won’t give me what I want.

Emerald was a fun, fast paced romance. I had some frustrations with it, but overall I enjoyed reading it. It continued to keep me interested in the series storyline, and I am very interested to find out what comes next.

Review: Forgetting You, Remembering Me by Monica James

Forgetting You, Remembering Me
Series: Memories from Yesterday, #2
Author: Monica James
Publication Date: February 28, 2008
Genre: Romance, Contemporary
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

The stunning conclusion to this epic love story that began with Forgetting You, Forgetting Me from International Bestselling author, Monica James.

The truth sets you free…but what happens when everything you believe in changes in the blink of an eye?

All I ever wanted was for my fiancé, Samuel Stone, to remember me. And now that he does…all I want is for him to forget. Through tragedy, I found myself and who I was destined to become. But more importantly, I found who I was destined to be with.

With a single word, Saxon Stone changed my life forever. He taught me how to live again. But now that Samuel remembers and all secrets have been revealed, I’m left to wonder which life I’m meant to lead.

Divided by my head and my heart, I’m torn between duty and desire. Samuel is my past while Saxon is my forever. The choice should be easy.

But love never is…


A while back, I read Monica James’ Forgetting You, Forgetting Me. It began Lucy’s story of losing one brother and then falling in love with another. It was a love triangle that worked for me. I was pleasantly surprised by that, and knew I need to know how everything was going to work out for Lucy. Would she end up with her new love (Saxon) or back with her fiancé who had amnesia and forgot her (Sam)?

Forgetting You, Remembering Me started off exactly where Forgetting You, Forgetting Me left off. Lucy was confronted by a recovering Sam after being caught with Saxon. Lucy in that moment had to make a choice between the brothers. She does, and I loved how she responded. I really enjoyed how things played out shortly after that moment.

Then, things changed. All of a sudden it felt like her personality changed. Lucy was this jealous monster — and that applied with both brothers. Maybe that was part of her remembering herself, but it was uncomfortable to read. Lucy’s out of control feelings brought back the love triangle I was hoping was done and gone.

Nope, it wasn’t. That’s where my enjoyment of the book started to tank. Forgetting You, Remembering Me gave me emotional whiplash. I felt like I had it as bad as Lucy did. I just wanted a resolution to it all a lot quicker than I got.

Things started to get better again for me as the story progressed toward the end. Lucy made a couple of smart decisions that I respected. I also really loved the advice both her mom and best friend gave her.

Unfortunately, that didn’t last very long because I wasn’t a big fan of how the story came full circle and ended. It a little tragic, very emotional, and just way too out there for me. The end had it’s cute moments, but it didn’t win me over.

Overall, Forgetting You, Remember Me was not really for me. I blame it on the love triangle. It was too much for me. Way too much drama. Way too many over the top situations. But if you’re a fan of a good, crazy love triangle, you would most likely love this one.

Review: One Last Time by Corinne Michaels

2018-SBPRBANNER-OLT-BT.jpg

One Last Time by Corinne Michaels
Release Date: February 26th, 2018
Genre: Contemporary Romance

OLT_FrontCover

From New York Times bestselling author, Corinne Michaels, comes a new heartwarming standalone romance.

I’m getting really good at cutting my losses.

First, the husband. Divorcing him was the best decision I ever made. But between single-parenting and job-hunting, I can’t catch my breath. When a celebrity blogging position falls into my lap, I’m determined to succeed.

That is, until I get my first assignment and actually see Noah Frazier for the first time . . . practically naked and dripping wet. My heart races and I forget how to form complete sentences. His chiseled abs, irresistible smirk, and crystal blue eyes are too perfect to be real. So, what do I do? Get drunk and humiliate myself, of course.

I’m ready to forget the awkward night, yet Noah has no intention of allowing me to move on. Instead, he arranges for me to write a feature on him, ensuring a lot more time together. One embarrassing moment after another, one kiss after another, and before I can stop myself, I realize—I’m falling in love with him.

But when the unthinkable happens, can I even blame him for cutting his losses?

What I wouldn’t give for just one last time . . .

OLT-AN-1


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Review:

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

Here’s the thing I love about Corinne Michael’s books. They are contemporary romances about women over 30 that have the feel of new adult romances. It’s a little hard to explain, but there are times I read contemporary romances about women my age and I cannot connect to them. The women read so much older than I feel. I can’t imagine myself acting or talking like them. (I guess in my mind, I’m still in my early 20’s or something.) That’s not how I feel when I’m reading Corinne Michael’s books. I can identify with them easily and put myself in their places.

I absolutely loved One Last Time. There were so many amazing things about it, but my favorite part was the transformation Kristin went through. While I haven’t been through Kristin’s situation, I could identify with many of her feelings. It’s easy to feel like you’re not enough — not skinny enough, not productive enough, not a good enough parent or spouse, not good enough at just about everything. Kristin embodied what it feels like to be in your late 30’s and 40’s. You’re supposed to be an adult and have your stuff figured out, but there are a lot of times you feel like you don’t know what you’re doing. I loved how Kristin dealt with it all and learned to value herself. I loved how her friends were there to help her through it all. I loved how all the positive changes she made led her to Noah.

Noah met Kristin at the perfect time in his life. He was a favorite actor, but he was beginning to yearn for more than just a career. I loved how helping Kristin through her struggles made him come to a realization about his own life. They both had so much to learn, and figuring things out together made their relationship fun to read. It was also very sweet and sexy.

As much as I loved Kristin and Noah, I must say the breakout star of this book was Audrey. Kristin’s daughter was the cutest thing ever. She added an adorable humor that was perfect. Her moments with Noah made me smile so hard.

One Last Time was filled with tough emotions, but felt lighter than other Corinne Michael’s books I’ve read in the past. It was a really fun, great read. Now that we’ve got Kristin and Heather’s books, I’m hoping we’ll get Danielle’s and Nicole’s!

Excerpt:

Before I can make a move either way, the glass door slides open and Noah walks through the threshold.

My legs start to quiver as his eyes meet mine. All I can think about is how I’d like to climb him like a tree and shake his coconuts. I thought he was hot in the photo, then he was better through the window, but up close, he’s otherworldly.

“Hi.” Noah’s throaty voice floats around me. “You must be Kristin.”

Instead of speaking, I stand here with my mouth hanging open. Some small sounds that could be words escape, but they aren’t coherent.

Kill me now.

“Noah, this is my best friend, Kristin. Who we told you about.” Heather elbows me.

“Yes. Me. Hi. Kristin. I. You. Hi.”

Smooth. Someone should video this because I’m sure it’s highly entertaining.

“Right.” Noah flashes a blinding smile. “I hear you’re a reporter?”

Okay, Kristin, you have to speak in more than one-word increments or grunting noises.

I grab Heather’s glass she just poured and hope it’ll act as a talisman. “Yes, for a small blog, but I’m that. A reporter. For a blog. I write.”

And a bumbling idiot.

Noah’s green eyes are filled with humor. He moves a little closer and places his hand on top of mine. “Eli filled me in a little. I’m happy I came.”

I’m pretty sure I just came. At least we’re all coming.

“Me, too.”

His lips turn up as his eyes rake my body. “See you out there.” He winks and walks back out.

My ovaries have officially disintegrated.

I turn back to Heather, who bursts out into a fit of laughter. “Oh, that was epic. You all said I was starstruck when I met Eli? You should’ve seen that!” Heather continues to laugh at my expense. “Yes. Me. Um. Blog. Er—” She mocks.

“Shut up.” I laugh—because, really, what else can I do—and bump her hip before moving around the bar and grabbing a glass. “Now, pour me a shot before I drink straight from the bottle.”

There’s only one way to get through tonight.

Alcohol.

Lots of Alcohol.

OLT FB Group Available

Meet Corinne:

New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal Bestseller Corinne Michaels is the author of nine romance novels. She’s an emotional, witty, sarcastic, and fun loving mom of two beautiful children. Corinne is happily married to the man of her dreams and is a former Navy wife.

After spending months away from her husband while he was deployed, reading and writing was her escape from the loneliness. She enjoys putting her characters through intense heartbreak and finding a way to heal them through their struggles. Her stories are chock full of emotion, humor, and unrelenting love.

Connect with Corinne:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CorinneMichaels
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AuthorCMichaels
Instagram: http://instagram.com/corinnemichaels
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7753662
Amazon: http://amzn.to/1NVZmhv
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/corinnemichaels/
Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/corinne-michaels

 

Review: Far from the Tree by Robin Benway

Far from the Tree
Author: Robin Benway
Publication Date: October 3, 2017
Publisher: HarperTeen
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Fiction

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

A contemporary novel about three adopted siblings who find each other at just the right moment.

Being the middle child has its ups and downs.

But for Grace, an only child who was adopted at birth, discovering that she is a middle child is a different ride altogether. After putting her own baby up for adoption, she goes looking for her biological family, including—

Maya, her loudmouthed younger bio sister, who has a lot to say about their newfound family ties. Having grown up the snarky brunette in a house full of chipper redheads, she’s quick to search for traces of herself among these not-quite-strangers. And when her adopted family’s long-buried problems begin to explode to the surface, Maya can’t help but wonder where exactly it is that she belongs.

And Joaquin, their stoic older bio brother, who has no interest in bonding over their shared biological mother. After seventeen years in the foster care system, he’s learned that there are no heroes, and secrets and fears are best kept close to the vest, where they can’t hurt anyone but him.


Far from the Tree is about three biological siblings who have been raised in three separate homes. After giving her own baby up for adoption, Grace is desperate to find her biological mother. In her quest, she discovers she has two siblings: Joaquin and Maya. Grace and Maya were each adopted at birth. Joaquin, the oldest of three, was raised in the foster care system. As they get to know each other, the siblings begin to discover their similarities, their differences, and what family really is.

So here’s the deal. I just… I don’t even know how to put into words how I feel about Far from the Tree. Please forgive me if this review rambles or makes no sense. Far from the Tree broke me in so many different ways.

First, it broke me because I ached for Grace. Grace’s story was the one I was most curious about. After having my own child, I cannot imagine giving up a child — especially one I desperately wanted — no matter how much I knew it would be the best thing for that child. It would kill me. Grace’s experience brought me to tears more than once.

Second, I’m an adoptee. While I haven’t been through much of what happened to Grace, Maya, and Joaquin, I have felt some of the feelings they felt. Maya’s thoughts were the ones I could relate to the most. Our situations were the most similar. We are both adoptees whose adoptive parents went on to have biological children of their own. Maya’s thoughts gave validity to ones I have felt in the past. Her feelings combined with those of Joaquin and Grace touched something deep inside me.

Third, Joaquin’s whole situation hurt. I can’t imagine what it would be like to live in his world. It makes me ache for all the foster care children out there. I want an adoption as amazing as mine for them.

My review is making Far from the Tree a complete downer. It’s not. There’s heartache, but there are so many amazing moments. The characters learn so much about themselves and what family and loving someone means.

I was a fan of Robin Benway’s writing from her début novel, Emmy & Oliver, but Far from the tree blew me away. It is my favorite book I’ve ever read about adoptees. It encompassed so many different feelings surrounding being adopted. In my opinion, Far from the Tree was perfection. It’s a very special book.

Release Day Blast & REVIEW: Memphis by Ginger Scott

We’re celebrating the release of Memphis by Ginger Scott!
Check out my review and an excerpt below!
Memphis by Ginger Scott
A Contemporary New Adult Romance
Release day: February 23
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Blurb:
My mom always said it was just something about the way he moved.

The same swagger Archie Valentine wore in the ring when he took his opponents down followed him like a halo everywhere he went. But make no mistake about it—he was no angel. He was like a drug. My mother was his addict.I never understood it…how love could make you blind and convince you to drink the poison. Not until I met Memphis Delaney.

At first, it was the familiar form. He’s a fighter, built like a god from the past, the kind of man the universe doesn’t make anymore. His eyes hide a story, and every time I’m in his presence I want to keep reading him until I get to the end. And then…there’s the way he moves. His boxing is violent but beautiful, and his body is a seductive weapon. When he’s in the ring, he wears the stare of a man committed to the battle until his very last breath.

He could end me; turn me into her. Too much of him will leave me as a shadow, and I’ve lost so much of myself already.

But I have discipline. It came the hard way. Lessons learned, scars left behind, and trust stripped away from life.

I will breathe his air, but I won’t fall for a man like him. The only boxer who’s ever going to break my heart is the one who gave me my name.

REVIEW:

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Note: This review is for an ARC I received from WordSmith Publicity and is my unbiased opinion.

Ginger Scott keeps amazing me. I have read every book she’s written to date, and with each I see her writing evolve. It keeps getting better and better, which is remarkable when I found it perfect to begin with. None of her books feel like a carbon copy of another. They’re all so different, yet incredible. Memphis was different, yet incredible.

When I started reading Memphis, I was immediately wrapped up in the story. I was so uncomfortable the entire time I was reading it. I knew there would be harsh truths and heartbreak — this is Ginger Scott’s writing after all — but I didn’t know I would be on edge the entire book. There was such a darkness to Memphis. It’s set in this dingy, dark place. Reading it felt a little dirty. It was a weird and disturbing feeling, but in a good way. I truly felt like I was right there with the characters experiencing their drama.

Memphis and Olivia were such complex characters. Their separate histories went deep and dark. Olivia’s broke her, while Memphis’ speared him on. Their meeting brought a tentative balance to them. I was scared the entire time I was reading how this balance could/would/might break. I loved Memphis and Olivia together, and I didn’t want to experience anymore heartbreak than I already had. I enjoyed watching them learn and grow throughout the story.

Memphis, but I wasn’t supposed to. I did appreciate what they brought to the story. The horrible characters added to the plot, and created some twists I never saw coming. I did love one supporting character, though: Miles. Miles certainly was something special. Ginger Scott did what she does with Miles, and spotlighted an issue that needs more attention in our society today. I applaud her for that.

One thing that separates Ginger Scott’s sports romances apart from the rest is her attention to detail. Her descriptions of the sport she’s writing about are vivid and almost educational. I feel like I learn so much about a sport from reading them. I felt this way about Memphis. The rawness and beauty of the sport of boxing were so well described that it felt like I was watching it all unfold on television or in person.

Obviously, I’m a fan of Ginger Scott and now I’m a fan of Memphis. It was a wonderfully written sports romance set in the dark world of boxing. It’s one of those books I’m sad I have finished because I will miss the characters, and now I’m left anxiously awaiting Ginger Scott’s next release.

EXCERPT:
I turn so our feet are squared and glance at his home that I think he probably knows I went through while he was gone. Somehow the money he paid for it seems not enough and too much all at once. My gaze shifts back to his, and he steps forward until the toe of his left shoe rests against the right side of mine.

“That’s a nice story, Memphis. I’m glad you found the bike, but I’m not sure what that has to do with me,” I say, my breath catching as his fingertips trace along my jaw, his touch so faint I find myself leaning my head to encourage his palm to rest along my cheek more boldly.

He brings his other hand up with more confidence, and I’m caught. The other option I had, to walk away, is gone. I never really wanted it, though.

Memphis dips his chin, hunching slightly to bring his eyes in line with mine. We’re so close that I can feel the tickle of his breath against my lips, and they tingle at the familiar. Each experience with him weaves itself into my heart in this way that terrifies me. This is how people lose themselves.

But I let it in—each breath, each sound, the smells and words. His story. I am surviving on the very being of him, and I think I have been for a while now.

“I was eighteen when I tracked down that bike. I knew it was mine…”

“I don’t belong to you, Memphis,” I cut in, my heart pounding.

His mouth forms a crooked smile. He holds my eyes hostage in silence for few long seconds. “Maybe it works the other way,” he says, his eyes moving over my face with a softness that feels intimate and vulnerable. His forehead falls forward until it rests gently on my own, and I let go of the grip I have on myself, exchanging it for fistfuls of his T-shirt. My knuckles run along his chest as I gather the material and close my eyes, his muscles hard from discipline.

“I can’t watch you get hurt. I can’t…”

His hand moves to my chin, and he lifts it until our eyes meet. Suddenly, breathing just got a lot harder to do.

“I won’t lose, Liv. I work too hard, and I study too much, and I will never be in a ring I’m not supposed to be in,” he says, and I breathe out what sounds like a laugh but feels like hurt.

“My fifty-year-old uncle kicked your ass in some display of alpha-male, teacher-student bullshit. I couldn’t watch that…how am I supposed to watch you step in with some guy who really wants to kill you? How am I supposed to kiss you knowing that your lips might never be the same after a fight. How…”

Memphis’s mouth takes mine before I can protest anymore, nothing like our stolen moment from earlier. His hands cup my face and his mouth moves possessively over my bottom lip, sucking it in and letting it slide loose through a graze of his teeth. He turns my head with a gentle nudge and kisses me deeper, and his hands fall from my face in long, possessive drags down my shoulders to my waist, stopping with his thumbs just above my hips and his fingers splayed out around my sides.

My hands roam up his chest and neck until my thumbs run along the roughness of his chin, and my touch seems to somehow make him hungrier.

“My god.” He breathes the words against my lips, restraint giving way…

 About the Author:

Ginger Scott is an Amazon-bestselling and Goodreads Choice Award-nominated author of several young and new adult romances, including Waiting on the Sidelines, Going Long, Blindness, How We Deal With Gravity, This Is Falling, You and Everything After, The Girl I Was Before, Wild Reckless, Wicked Restless, In Your Dreams, The Hard Count, Hold My Breath, A Boy Like You and A Girl Like Me.

A sucker for a good romance, Ginger’s other passion is sports, and she often blends the two in her stories. (She’s also a sucker for a hot quarterback, catcher, pitcher, point guard…the list goes on.) Ginger has been writing and editing for newspapers, magazines and blogs for more than 15 years. She has told the stories of Olympians, politicians, actors, scientists, cowboys, criminals and towns. For more on her and her work, visit her website at http://www.littlemisswrite.com.

When she’s not writing, the odds are high that she’s somewhere near a baseball diamond, either watching her son field pop flies like Bryce Harper or cheering on her favorite baseball team, the Arizona Diamondbacks. Ginger lives in Arizona and is married to her college sweetheart whom she met at ASU (fork ’em, Devils).

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