Review: Hard Stick by L.P. Dover

Hard Stick
Series: Breakaway, #1
Author: L.P. Dover
Publication Date: June 13, 2017
Publisher: Loveswept
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Sports Romance
Note: I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

He carries a big stick. And he’s not afraid to use it.

On the ice, I’m Kellan Carter, powerhouse enforcer for the Charlotte Strikers. Off the ice, I’m just a regular guy. The last thing I want is to get mobbed by a bunch of groupies who are only after me for my fame and money. My ideal woman knows how to enjoy a little good, clean fun—and maybe some not-so-clean fun too. That’s the kind of girl I’d never let go.

When Kristen Robinson, the gorgeous, down-to-earth bartender I’ve been crushing on, agrees to let me take her out, I’m thrilled. We have an amazing night together, culminating in the most electrifying kiss of my life—and that’s it. Kristen tells me we can’t see each other again, but I know that kiss meant as much to her as it did to me. What I don’t know is that Kristen has a dangerous secret. . . .

I’ve proved to Kristen that she can trust me with her body and her heart. But when her past comes back to haunt her, I need to prove that she can trust me with her life. And I might have to get my hands dirty after all.


Hard Stick was my first foray into reading L.P. Dover’s novels. I was impressed with her writing style. I loved that she chose to use first person dual narration in her adult contemporary romance. So many authors use third person, and it makes it a lot harder to identify with the characters.

The characters in Hard Stick were a lot of fun. Kristen had been through and lost so much in her life. She rebounded well and had an inner strength not many people would have. I loved that Kristen did what she needed to do to live her life, and how serious she was about her physical strength and preparedness. Kellan was a reformed hockey bad boy who was looking for more in a woman than just one night together. He was a genuinely nice guy, and I loved how he wasn’t going to let Kristen dismiss him without proving himself to her. They were so cute together, and had amazing chemistry.

Hard Stick was a sports romance, but I didn’t realize it was going to have a romantic suspense aspect to it. I actually think it would be better characterized as romantic suspense. There was way more of that than hockey moments. I’m not complaining, though. Romantic suspense isn’t normally my favorite thing to read, but I did like it in Hard Stick. It was well written, and added a cool dimension to Kristen and Kellan’s relationship. I could see where the twist in the story was going to go from the minute I met Kellan, but it was fun watching everything unfold.

Hard Stick may have been my first L.P. Dover novel, but it won’t be my last. I am so excited to see what’s next in the Breakaway series. I’m really hoping Dallas’ book is next! I loved Kellan’s hockey buddy, and I think he’s got a special romance coming his way.

Review: Bad Mommy by Tarryn Fisher

Bad Mommy
Author: Tarryn Fisher
Publication Date: December 24, 2016
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Fiction, Suspense

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

When Fig Coxbury buys a house on West Barrett Street, it’s not because she likes the neighborhood, or even because she likes the house. It’s because everything she desires is next door: The husband, the child, and the life that belongs to someone else.


Bad Mommy is a mind$#%^. I don’t know how else to explain it. It was everything I expected from Tarryn Fisher, but nothing like I expected. Every time I thought I had a grasp on what was going on, I would start a new section of the book and become completely disoriented. It was such a trip!

I want to go back and read Bad Mommy a second time. That’s high praise because it’s rare for me to re-read a book. I feel like I would grasp more from the story a second time, and enjoy it even more.

Anyone who loves a great psychologically suspenseful novel will enjoy Bad Mommy. It’s dark, deceitful and will keep you turning the pages long after you should have gone to bed.

And that’s all I’m saying because I’m not going to ruin this book for anyone. 😉

Review: Iluminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

Illuminae
Series: The Illuminae Files _01
Authors: Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff
Publication Date: October 20, 2015
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do. This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.

BRIEFING NOTE: Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.


Umm….My mind is pretty much blown from reading this book. Excuse me as I try to make any sense in this review. It’s probably going to be one big ramble!

Illuminae was pure genius. Everything about it was amazing. I loved the way the story was presented. The format was so very smart. It made the story fast-paced and easy to become engaged in. I credit the format for making me, a non science fiction fan, a lover of this book. Well, the format and the characters.

I absolutely loved Kady and Ethan. I was amazed at how well I got to know them and how well developed their characters were despite Illuminae not being told directly from their point of views. Their communications were probably my favorite in the entire book. I couldn’t help root for them. I also loved every supporting character I got a glimpse of throughout this tale.

Honestly, I have no clue what else to say. Illuminae had been sitting on my shelf waiting to be read for over a year. I’m pretty mad that I let it sit all this time. It is totally worth any and all hype it’s received. Don’t be like me and wait any longer to read this book. Push it up to the top of your TBR list now.

Now, excuse me while I go purchase Gemina.

Release Day Review: Girl in the Mirror by Elizabeth Reyes

Girl in the Mirror
Series: Looking Glass, #1

Author: Elizabeth Reyes
Publication Date: March 10, 2017
Publisher: Elizabeth Reyes
Genre: New Adult, Mystery, Romantic Suspense
Note: I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

A girl without a past.

Margaret Hellman wakes in a hospital with no memory of the horrific accident that claimed the lives of her sister and their best friend.

After years of struggling to regain a fraction of her memories, Maggie is left with no choice but to accept her past is gone. Despite the tormenting void in her heart.

Then the triggers start.

Tiny indiscernible but profoundly emotional glimpses of her past. The day she meets him, at her sister’s graveside sets off the most explosive trigger to date. It’s so overwhelming Maggie’s convinced she’s supposed to remember—she needs to.

As the puzzling pieces of her past start to come together, it’s clear something’s amiss. But nothing can prepare her for the shocking reality of what really happened that fateful day seven years ago.

Girl in the Mirror is a psychological romantic suspense with a twist you’ll NEVER see coming!


I’ve been a fan of Elizabeth Reyes’ writing since I stumbled across her Moreno Brothers series. I love her independent women, alpha males, and the little twists she adds to her romances. I’m not a big romantic suspense fan because they aren’t always as entertaining as I want them to be. I usually avoid them, but I knew if anyone could craft a good one it would be Elizabeth Reyes.

I have to admit I was thrown off a little by the writing style of Girl in the Mirror at first. It didn’t really have the same feel to it as Reyes’ prior novels. So much of the beginning of this book is told to the reader by Maggie, the first person narrator. There wasn’t a whole lot of character interaction. It made more sense to me as the story went on, it just threw me off a bit at first. Maggie’s story did pull my in from the beginning, though. I was caught up in the mystery of her situation.

As the book went on, I was enthralled with the story. There was more to Maggie’s past than the blurb hints at. I loved trying to figure out what was going on and who was involved. Some of the answers were easier to guess than the others. Plus, as the romance and drama began to appear, that Elizabeth Reyes feel that I was talking about finally makes an appearance.

Another thing that surprised me about The Girl in the Mirror was the way the book wrapped up. I wasn’t expecting to move so quickly into where Maggie was now. I would have loved to see the period that wasn’t included. I wanted more of the romance of the story!

Girl in the Mirror was a great romantic suspense novel. It had fun twists, amazing characters, and kept me guessing. I’m really hoping some of the characters that were introduced get a book of their own.

Review: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Ready Player One
Author: Ernest Cline
Publication Date: August 16, 2011
Publisher: Random House Audio
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Fantasy

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

At once wildly original and stuffed with irresistible nostalgia, READY PLAYER ONE is a spectacularly genre-busting, ambitious, and charming debut—part quest novel, part love story, and part virtual space opera set in a universe where spell-slinging mages battle giant Japanese robots, entire planets are inspired by Blade Runner, and flying DeLoreans achieve light speed.

It’s the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place.

Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets.

And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune—and remarkable power—to whoever can unlock them.

For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday’s riddles are based in the pop culture he loved—that of the late twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday’s icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes’s oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig.

And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle.

Suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt—among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life—and love—in the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.

A world at stake.
A quest for the ultimate prize.
Are you ready?


I know what you’re thinking. Deanna read a YA science fiction novel??? Yes, yes I did. Well, actually I listened to it, but same difference. And I had so much fun doing it, too. I know, I’m just as shocked as you are.

One of the problems I have reading science fiction is that I’m just not interested in the topics many of them contain. I’m not into stories about science or the future of technology. I’m definitely not into aliens, zombies, or any of the other things that cross between fantasy, horror and science fiction. I don’t like reading about the world ending. So, why would I want to read Ready Player One? First, I saw the cover and was drawn to it. Second, I read a lot of great reviews. Third, I heard about the multitude of 1980’s references. Fourth, Will Wheaton narrates the audio version. It was pretty much the 80’s and Will Wheaton thing that made me give it a try.

Ready Player One was a fantastic book. I was obsessed with the story from the minute I began listening to it in my car. I would find myself sitting in my drive way long after I had returned home. I’m very happy I chose the audio version of Ready Player One. By listening to it I wasn’t overwhelmed by the amount of information I was being given. There was so much to take in, and I think I would have been easily overwhelmed by everything if I was reading it. All the information would have slowed down the pace of the story, but it didn’t in this format. Plus, Will Wheaton did an amazing job narrating. I actually pictured a younger version of him as Wade while listening.

As for the story, it’s really something you need to experience for yourself. It’s wrapped around a future video game called the OASIS and Wade’s quest to win its creator’s fortune. I loved how the story progressed and how action packed it was. The amazing number of references to classic video games and 80’s pop culture were really cool. I wasn’t a teenager like Halliday was in the 1980’s, but I was alive, and I absolutely loved every reference to the decade I got.

I’m not sure what else to say about this marvelous book other than I think you should listen to it, too. Rumor has it a Ready Player One movie is coming, and I’m excited to see what they do with it.

Release Day Blitz Review: Chain Reaction by Tara Wyatt

ABOUT THE BOOK
Title: Chain Reaction
Author: Tara Wyatt
Series: Bodyguard #3
On Sale: February 28, 2017
Publisher: Forever
Formats: Mass Market
Price: $7.99 (mass market)
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SYNOPSIS

Blonde. Beautiful. Talented. Alexa Fairfax is practically Hollywood royalty. But growing up in a family of legendary movie stars also puts her in the spotlight for danger. And after she discovers a plot more deadly than any movie script, Alexa desperately needs a bodyguard. A man like Zack De Luca. A true friend with a good heart, a protective nature-and the hard, chiseled muscles to back it up.

Zack has always been wildly attracted to Alexa. But since he’s training day and night to be an MMA fighter, he’s afraid his gorgeous friend will only distract him from his goal. Indescribably sweet and irresistibly sexy, Alexa needs Zack to pretend to be her boyfriend after her life is threatened. Now this fighter-in-training will have to fight his own intense feelings-to keep their little charade from turning into a major disaster . . .

BODYGUARD SERIES
Bodyguard #3
Series Page on Goodreads

BUY THE BOOK HERE
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REVIEW

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

Romantic suspense is one of those tricky genres for me. I either find myself deeply involved in the storyline or completely bored with it. In the case of Chain Reaction, it was deeply involved.

Tara Wyatt’s writing quickly pulled me into the story. It was fast-paced and moved the story along quickly. Nothing was too drawn out or boring. The story contained just the right amount of suspense, and was entertaining. I found myself easily connecting to the characters.

Alexa and Zach were so adorable! I loved how the author set up their back story. It turned what could have felt like insta-love into a believable romance. They way they tried to avoid a romantic relationship but couldn’t was cute. And once they acted on their feelings for each other — dang! The story took a super steamy turn. The last third of the book was over the top sexy times. I loved it!

The only slight issue I had with Chain Reaction was that it was written in third person dual points of view. This isn’t my favorite style of narration, but it worked for the most part in this story. The only problem I had with it was at the beginning when Zack is introduced. His character is presented in the middle of a party and his name kind of got lost in the mix of other male characters to me. It took me a while to remember who he was. That could be related to the fact I hadn’t read the previous two books in the series and had no idea who all of the other characters I was being quickly introduced to were. Had the story been told in first person, it might have been easier for me to navigate.

Overall, Chain Reaction was a great romantic suspense novel. It kept my attention the entire time, and had me invested in the characters’ lives. I highly recommend it to readers who like a series with interconnected characters.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tara Wyatt has been making up love stories ever since she fell head over heels for the Backstreet Boys almost twenty years ago. Winner of the Unpublished Winter Rose Award, Linda Howard Award of Excellence and the Heart of the West Award, Tara lives in Hamilton, Ontario with the cutest dog in the world and a husband that makes all of her heroes look like chumps.

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Review: Lauren by Leigh James

Lauren
Series: Silicon Valley Billionaires, #1
Author: Leigh James
Publication Date: February 21, 2017
Publisher: Jack’s House Publishing, LLC
Genre: Romantic Suspense, Contemporary
Note: I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Two Headstrong, Driven CEOs. One Undeniable, Scorching Attraction.

Being a scientist gives Lauren Taylor a purpose in life. At twenty-five, she’s the CEO of a billion-dollar biomedical company, Paragon Laboratories. On the brink of a major discovery, Lauren lets nothing interfere with her work. Until she meets Gabriel Betts, the gorgeous and brilliant CEO of another Silicon Valley startup, and is forced to face her inconvenient and overwhelming attraction to him.

Billionaire Gabriel Betts is a successful scientist in his own right. He’s made his way in the world by being an early adopter and never losing focus. Captivated by Lauren’s brilliance and unselfconscious beauty, he’s determined to win the reclusive female CEO over at any cost.

But what neither Gabe nor Lauren are prepared for is the white-collar danger that’s lurking in Silicon Valley… The danger that threatens not only their companies, but their very existence.

* This is an update to the previously released High Interest and contains significant edits.


I’m not sure if it’s the mood I’ve been in lately or what, but romantic suspense novels haven’t really been my thing. Unless they’re super fast-paced and have a storyline that really pulls me in, they all end just being okay.

I had that experience with Lauren. It was fast-paced and eventful, but I wasn’t into the danger Lauren faced. I felt like it was lacking a little suspense. I’m not sure if that was because I knew how smart Lauren was supposed to be and could get herself out of a jam, or if I just didn’t fall for the storyline.

I didn’t connect well with Lauren. She was immature, and all I could blame it on was her devotion to her job at such a young age. While I really love the idea of a brilliantly smart woman CEO as a main character, I didn’t like that Lauren had to be reclusive. Her inexperience with people and the way she communicated was unattractive. I wasn’t sure what, besides her looks, held Gabe’s interest.

Gabe was your typical alpha male. He took charge from the minute he met Lauren. Gabe forced her to believe in him and give him her trust. That worked well for them as a couple, and brought out a sexy side I wasn’t quite expecting from Lauren.

This review sounds a bit negative, but overall it was a good read. I just wasn’t as into the storyline as I could have been. I think a lot of romantic suspense readers will probably really enjoy Lauren. It just wasn’t for me.