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

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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.

Review: The Feeling of Forever by Jamie Howard

The Feeling of Forever
Series: Unplugged Love, #2
Author: Jamie Howard
Publication Date: February 7, 2017
Publisher: Swerve
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance
Note: I received an ARC from the Publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Juliet St. Clair has spent her life under Hollywood’s spotlight. While being America’s favorite girl next door has had its perks, having to testify against her stalker to put him behind bars certainly wasn’t one of them. But when she thinks about walking away from it all, she can’t help remembering the enormous pile of medical bills her family is drowning under. Bills that just keep on coming.

Felix Donovan had it all–stunning good looks, gorgeous women, and a spot as the drummer to a band that’s sitting pretty at the top of the charts. Until one life-altering decision left him paralyzed from the waist down. He doesn’t know whether to laugh or cry when he wins this year’s Sexiest Man award, but the one thing he immediately does is send out a Non-disclosure agreement. Hiding his condition from the public is hard as hell, but he’s not ready to face the world while he’s still struggling to accept his new reality.

Except this year’s Sexiest Woman–Juliet St. Clair–never looks at him with pity, only desire. But falling for Juliet means a permanent spot in the tabloids, a decision Felix isn’t sure he’s ready to make. And when Juliet’s stalker re-emerges from her past, Felix’s secret isn’t the only thing at stake, it could cost Juliet her life.


I was super excited to be approved by NetGalley for The Feeling of Forever. I’ve never read a book by Jamie Howard before, but I’ve heard amazing things about her books and have wanted to read one. I’m so happy the opportunity came about with The Feeling of Forever. I absolutely loved this book!

Juliet and Felix’s relationship was adorable from the moment they met. I don’t think Jamie Howard could have come up with a better meet cute situation for a couple of celebrities. I adored everything about Juliet and Felix’s relationship from that very first moment they saw each other. Their thoughts about each other made me smile so much. As the story went on and their relationship strengthened, I fell in love with them even more. They were perfect for each other.

Juliet is one of my favorite female characters ever. She was such a good person. Her movie star status didn’t turn her into an entitled brat. Instead, she used her stardom for good. I loved the relationship she had with her family and how it made her see the world. I loved how it made her see Felix differently than other celebrity women might have. Even in her worst moments, Juliet put others first.

Felix could have been a frustrating character to read about, but Jamie Howard ensured that he wasn’t. His new path in life was tough and he hadn’t given up, but he wasn’t quite living to his full potential. Meeting Juliet changed his life in a good way. She gave him that little push he needed to get out of his own head.

All of the supporting characters in The Feeling of Forever were fun, too. I hadn’t read the first book in the series, but it didn’t really matter. The Feeling of Forever didn’t give away much from it. I was also still able to make connections with the characters that originated in that book. It was like reading a standalone novel, but it made me excited to go back and read All the Ways You Saved Me and any upcoming books in this series. I’m hoping there will be several more!

The only complaint I can see anyone making about this book was that it was a little predictable. That didn’t bother me. I had so much fun waiting for the story to unravel and reveal what I thought the outcome would be. There were still little surprises in store along the way.

New adult fans need to get their hands on this book when it comes out! I can’t rave enough about how much I enjoyed The Feeling of Forever. Jamie Howard has a new fan.

Review: Taking Care of the Target by Cindi Madsen

Taking Care of the Target
Author: Cindi Madsen
Publication Date: January 23, 2017
Genre: New Adult, Romantic Suspense, Contemporary
Note: I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Synopsis:

Vince DaMarco always liked Cassie, the shy waitress who works at the restaurant that serves as a front for his mob boss uncle. Unfortunately, she witnesses a back alley hit, and while fleeing, she’s struck by a truck. Now she’s at the top of the hit list. Desperate to stop anyone who’d draw out Cassie’s death, Vince volunteers to take care of it.

Cassie Dalton has no recollection of her accident, but she’s told she’s lucky to be alive. A few years are missing from her memory, and the unsettling feeling that something isn’t right—along with the creepy sensation that she’s being watched—won’t go away.

Vince shows up right when Cassie needs him most. In a world of confusion, the rugged stranger is the one thing that makes sense. But little does she know, she’s found refuge in the arms of the very man who’s been sent to kill her.


This is a difficult review to write. I wanted to love Cindi Madsen’s new release, Taking Care of the Target, but I had a hard time reading it. The writing was good — I just never connected with the characters or the mob-related story. I tried several times. I would put it down, and then come back later to see if it was a mood I was in or something. Sadly, I just wasn’t pulled in enough by a third of the way through to care about what was going on or to have a desire to finish reading it. I wish that wasn’t true. I have no doubt Taking Care of the Target will speak to other romantic suspense reader, but it just wasn’t for me.

Review: Lila by Elizabeth Reyes

Lila
Series: Boyle Heights, #1
Author: Elizabeth Reyes
Publication Date: January 26, 2017
Publisher: Elizabeth Reyes
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Sports Romance
Note: I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Synopsis:

When two unlikely paths cross . . . compatibility seems improbable.

Adrift in a foul-mouthed world of ass kicking to survive life on the tough streets of Boyle Heights, Lila is anything but a refined girlie girl. Fighting tooth and nail for those she loves has left her with a chip on her shoulder as big as the gloves on her fists.

After years of being surrounded by glamorous glitzy women, Sonny didn’t even realize how much he’s yearned for someone of real substance. So, when he meets the unapologetic, sexy-as-hell Lila, her in-your-face candor awakens something in him he’s never felt before.

Despite Lila’s suspicions about Sonny’s intentions, the two begin a seemingly innocent, yet deliciously dangerous, online flirtation as his business keeps him away a lot.

The more their rapidly growing connection intensifies, the more Lila feels Sonny is too perfect to be true. But when she’s blindsided by the truth about who Sonny really is . . .

Compatibility suddenly feels impossible.

The first in my new series “Boyle Heights.” A spin-off of 5th Street. Will feature character crossings from other series’. Stay tuned to find out who Lila’s love interest will be. 😉


Elizabeth Reyes was one of the first new adult authors I fell in love with. Her stories are filled with a diverse group of characters who are all mentally tough and willing to fight for what they believe in. I always appreciate the little connections she weaves in between her series, and the incredibly alpha males she creates.

Lila is a sports romance with a little romantic suspense woven in. It’s told in dual points of view. Lila is a badass fighter just trying to get by. Sonny is the guy who sees past her tough exterior to the woman she really is. I have to warn readers, Lila and Sonny kind of have an insta-love thing going on. That didn’t bug me, though. Their relationship might appear a little rushed, but it felt natural. I can see a lot of relationships being formed the way Lila and Sonny’s was with technology being what it is these days.

Lila was one tough chick. I loved how fierce she was and how she stood up for those she cared about. Her determination was amazing. I also liked that she was the fighter in this one. What I loved even more about her was her ability to get a little soft when it came to Sonny. It made her seem like a real human with insecurities like the rest of us.

Sonny was a surprise. I won’t give away who he is or how he’s connected to Reyes’ other books, but fans of hers are going to freak when they figure out who he is! I did. It made me happy that Sonny finally got the girl. He was a lot sweeter than I remembered him, but maybe that’s because he found his perfect match in Lila.

Sonny isn’t the only character making an appearance from Reyes’ series. The entire cast of the 5th Street novels are involved in this story because Lila trains in their gym. It was fun to see some favorites again. I’m hoping more of her characters will continue to pop up in the Boyle Heights series.

The only thing that kept me from giving Lila 5 stars was the ending. Things got a little crazy, and it wasn’t what I was hoping for the story. I did like the character growth shown by Lila. I just didn’t like how she was able to prove herself. I also felt things were sped through at the end with Lila and Sonny. I didn’t feel their relationship got the focus it should have at the end. Instead, the time was spent on Lila’s sister Ali and setting up the next book — which I can tell is going to be suspenseful! I liked the little preview, but would have liked more Lila and Sonny time.

That being said, I still really enjoyed Lila. I loved that Elizabeth Reyes created a character like Lila, who was both physically and mentally tough, and also gave her a soft side. It showed off her talent as a writer. I’m looking forward to finding out what’s up next in the series.