Review: Defy by L.J. Shen

Defy
Series: Sinners of Saint, #0.5
Author: L.J. Shen
Publication Date: January 31, 2017
Publisher: L.J. Shen
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

Synopsis:

Defy is a smutty, insta-love, insta-lust short novella. Defy is a prequel to Vicious (Sinners of Saint #1). It is recommended, but unnecessary, to read Defy before reading Vicious.

First included in Hot for Teacher Anthology: 19 Stories Filled with Lust and Love.

My name is Melody Greene, and I have a confession to make.
I slept with my student, a senior in high school.
Multiple times.
I had multiple orgasms.
In multiple positions.
I slept with my student and I enjoyed it.
I slept with my student and I’d do it all over again if I could turn back time.
My name is Melody Greene, and I got kicked out of my position as a teacher and did my walk of shame a la Cersei Lannister from the principal’s office, minutes after said principal threatened to call the cops on me.
My name is Melody Greene, and I did something bad because it made me feel good.
Here is why it was totally worth it.


If you read the blurb for Defy, it mentions that it should be read before Vicious. Well, I didn’t do that. In fact, I read the entire Sinners of Saint series backward starting with Ruckus. I’m glad I did that. Why? Well, to be honest, student-teacher romances are not my thing. I’m not sure I would have picked up this awesome series if I had read Defy first. The only reason I read it was curiosity. Vicious and Ruckus mention Melody and Jaime’s relationship a lot, and I had to know more about Jaime since he’s one of the HotHoles.

Defy was a good read. I still wasn’t 100% on board with the student-teacher aspect, but it was fun to see how Melody and Jaime ended up together. I liked how it played out. I could almost —almost— understand why Melody broke her code of conduct. It helped that Jaime was eighteen, more manly, and more mature than most high school seniors.

The one thing that could have maybe made me fall in love with Defy would have been Jaime’s point of view. Unlike the other books in this series, we don’t get it. 🙁 I liked reading Defy from Melody’s point of view, but Jaime’s would have added so much more to it!

Overall, Defy was a good, short novella that added to my enjoyment of the Sinners of Saint series.

Review: Vicious by L.J. Shen

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

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Emilia

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

Vicious

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


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

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

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

Pay close attention and you might solve this.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Review: Sweet Summer Love by Sierra Hill

Sweet Summer Love
Series: The Sweetest Thing, #3
Author: Sierra Hill
Publication Date: January 27, 2017
Publisher: Createspace Independent Publishing Platform
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Sports Romance
Note: I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

Logan Everyone’s had a summer crush. One that’s etched into your memories so hard that it leaves an indelible mark, like a scar on your heart. For me, that crush is my first love, Carver Edwards. I met him at fifteen at summer camp, and for three perfect summers, he was mine. Until the blazing heat of the summer sun faded and reality crashed in. Carver went off to college, leaving me trapped in my small farming town, with no way of reaching him and a problem I needed solving. Carver As the senior captain of my college basketball team, all I’ve been focused on the past four years has been playing, school, getting drafted in the NBA, and steering clear of relationships. I didn’t want them. I had nothing to give another girl. I’d given it already. So, I built my rep as a player, and honed my natural ability to charm the pants off girls. It’s what I did. Who I was. Who I am. Until March, when a lay-up during a tournament landed me in an emergency room, under the care of Logan Shaw – my first love. Of all the people I could run into, why did it have to be her? Not only did my face get split wide open, but so did the locks that held the pain I’d attempted to bury for so many years. Now that she’s back in my life, we must face the truth and the consequences of our actions – even if it could destroy us. We must uncover the truths that have kept us shackled from moving forward. That could possibly set us free.


A rating was really hard for me to come up with for this book. It’s the first book I’ve read by Sierra Hill, and I actually loved reading it. The writing was really good, and I immediately fell in love with the characters. Logan and Carver’s story sucked me in right away starting with the foreshadowing in the prologue. I loved the little bit of mystery behind the history of their relationship and the way Logan and Carver came back into each other’s life. That’s where things get a little sticky for me.

I couldn’t keep some big things from staying in the back of my mind for the rest of the book. First, Logan and Carver’s previous relationship was based off being together at summer camp for two weeks a year for three years. They had no contact in between those summers. I honestly couldn’t understand how they were in love back then. Lust and like I get, but love? I just didn’t think their bond could have been as strong as it was. That leads to the second thing that bugged me. There was a major event that split them apart. Both were harboring some bad feelings from it. It only took one brief conversation for them to get over it and jump back into things. I had a hard time believing they could get over the negative feelings they had been keeping inside for five years in one conversation. All their troubles seemed to easily be fixed.

There was one other thing that threw me off a bit. Graduating college senior Carver was into kink. Like really into it. I mean, I guess I could understand it since he became quite the ladies man in college. Experimentation and all. What surprised me was that it didn’t seem to shock Logan. She hadn’t been with him since she was seventeen, yet she was willing to give him everything and anything. It made for some sweet sex scenes, but I have to admit shaking my head in wonderment a couple of times over how easily Logan was up for it. I think I would have been more questioning.

Despite those things, I really did love Sweet Summer Love. It obviously had some issues for me, but they didn’t stop from my enjoyment. I would still recommend reading it. It was a cute second chance romance. I want to go back and read the first two books now.

Review: Fallen Fourth Down by Tijan

Fallen Fourth Down
Series: Fallen Crest High, #4
Author: Tijan
Narrators:  Saskia Maarleveld, Graham Halstead
Publication Date: January 13, 2015
Publisher: Tantor Audio
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Synopsis:

My mother tried to destroy me. She doesn’t exist to me anymore and my father, the one who raised me and the biological one, are both works in progress. The only two people that I can trust are Mason and Logan, and they’re the two people who I could lose. It won’t happen. I won’t let it. No matter the truth, no matter who loves me, I won’t let anything or anyone come between us.
They’re my world. They’re my life.
They’re my family.


Surprise! (Not really.) I’m back with another Fallen Crest High audiobook review! I’m flying through these books. I can’t help it. The story has me so committed. I need to hurry up and finish all of the books so I can get back to real life!

Fallen Fourth Down was a weird transition book. Sam’s in Fallen Crest and Mason’s three hours away at college.The distance hasn’t lessened their love for each other, but it’s made it easier to keep things from each other. Sam’s trying hide the fact that she knows Logan’s in love with her. Avoiding the awkward conversations has made her tension and she hates keeping things from both of her boys. Mason’s keeping things to himself to avoid feeding Sam’s fears. They’re together, but living separate lives. When someone from Sam’s past ends up in Fallen Crest, things get even tougher.

Like I said, this was a weird transition book. Mason and Sam are apart most of the book, so I didn’t get to feast on their interactions. I missed them together. I love the intensity of their relationship. I guess it did make their times together that much more explosive, but I wanted more of the fearsome twosome and threesome.

Instead of basking in Sam and Mason’s relationship, I was stuck living through Sam’s fear of Logan’s love for her. There was so much uncomfortable tension between Sam and Logan. I worried a lot about how that was all going to play out. Sam was also dealing with a guy from her past who had a renewed crush on her. I really liked this part of the story. It was kind of sweet, and felt like it helped me get to know Sam before the Kades a little better. I liked the guy. That was probably because I knew he didn’t stand a chance next to the Mason Kade.

As for Mason, he was in a whole new world. His being at the bottom of the totem pole was cool. He had to prove himself for once, and I liked that. He was still Mason Kade, so he wasn’t an underling for long but it was fun to see him not in charge. I loved meeting all of Mason’s new football buddies and the camaraderie they shared. I even loved meeting Mason’s new nemesis, Park. I can tell their rivalry is going to amp up the drama of Mason and Sam’s college experience.

A couple of things surprised me in Fallen Fourth Down. One surprise was Nate. The Kade brothers’ relationship with him changed a bit, and I wasn’t expecting that. It made me a little sad, but I liked how it all ended up resolving itself. The second surprise was Marissa. I wasn’t quite expecting her to be as crazy as she was. I ended up hating her after this book.

Overall, I enjoyed Fallen Fourth Down. It did a good job answering some questions I had about both Sam and Mason’s pasts. It also finally cleared up Logan’s feelings about Sam. At times, it felt like a filler novella since Sam and Mason were apart, but it ended up doing a great job setting up things for Fallen Crest University.

Review: Fallen Crest Public by Tijan

Fallen Crest Public
Series: Fallen Crest High, #3
Author: Tijan
Narrators: Saskia Maarleveld, Graham Halstead
Publication Date: October 6, 2014
Publisher: Tantor Audio
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

Sam’s first day at Fallen Crest Public doesn’t go well. Some girls want to be her. Some girls want to destroy her. And some just don’t like her. All in all, despite being protected by Mason and Logan, it’s still only the strong survive. Sam will not only have to survive, she needs to learn how to conquer too, but there’s another battle growing. Things are about to come to a disastrous end between the towns, Roussou and Fallen Crest. Sam’s other main dilemma? Keeping Mason and Logan from getting arrested or hospitalized.


I am utterly addicted to the Fallen Crest High series.  It’s on my mind all of the time. Last night, I couldn’t sleep because I was worrying about Sam. She’s a freaking book character! What is wrong with me? I can’t stop listening to this series. I’m only pausing listening right now to write this review.

In Fallen Crest Public, Sam’s just beginning to navigate the halls of Fallen Crest Public High School. It’s different from Fallen Crest Academy, but some thing are still the same. There are still mean, horrible girls who run the school. Girls who want Mason and Logan to themselves. Girls who will do anything and everything to make sure Sam goes away. The girls aren’t Sam’s only problem, though. There’s also a Roussou/Fallen Crest rivalry making things tense for them. Sam is worried that Mason and Logan may go up against Bud and Brett. She couldn’t stand to lose her family if something bad were to happen, so Sam’s keeping secrets.

Holy crap! We FINALLY get Mason’s point of view in this book!!! It’s what I’ve been dying for after reading the first two books. I loved being inside of Mason’s head and finally understanding why he does some of the stuff he does. I didn’t always like or agree with his actions, but knowing his thoughts made my opinion of him soar. My only teeny tiny complaint about Mason has to do with the audio book version of this story. I was so used to the female narrator doing Mason’s voice that I had a hard time adjusting to the male narrator for Mason. His voice didn’t sound deep enough to me. I actually kind of like the female narrator’s version of Mason better.

Sam was Sam. She was strong and weak all at the same time. Sam had strength when dealing with the mean girls of her new school and anyone who threatened her family. She wasn’t quite as strong when it came to the guys. Her weakness was in her worries about losing Mason and Logan. Those worries and her rampant sexual desire for Mason consumed her this entire book. Despite that, Sam continued to grow and mature in this installment.

In this book, we see less of the Academy students. A few pop up here and there, but they’re mostly in the background. Sam still has Heather by her side, but we get to meet a whole bunch of new people. Most of them aren’t very nice. They were a great addition for the drama, but I hated them right along with Sam. They were horrible people. My favorite new addition was Melinda, Mark’s mom. Her warmth and acceptance of Sam added a nice touch. I can’t wait to see where Sam’s relationship goes with her in the future.

Fallen Crest Public is my favorite book in this series so far. I loved where Tijan took Sam, Mason and Logan in it. There was such a rawness to their feelings. Everything that happened propelled the story along, and gave me new insights. It was so much fun to listen to!

The Fallen Crest series keeps getting better and better as the story goes on. I never imagined there were so many different dramatic high school situations Sam, Mason and Logan could get into. I love it! But I am scared where the next book may be going…I’m off to listen to it now!