Review: The Raging Ones by Krista & Becca Ritchie

The Raging Ones
Series: The Raging Ones, #1
Authors: Krista & Becca Ritchie
Publication Date: August 14, 2018
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Genre: YA, Science Fiction, Fantasy
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

In a freezing world, where everyone knows the day they will die, three teens break all odds.

Franny Bluecastle, a tough city teen, dreams of dying in opulence, to see wealth she’s never known. Like the entire world, she believes it’s impossible to dodge a deathday.

Until the day she does.

Court Icecastle knows wealth. He also knows pain. Spending five years in Vorkter Prison, a fortress of ice and suffering, he dreams of life beyond the people that haunt him and the world that imprisoned him.

Mykal Kickfall fights for those he loves. The rugged Hinterlander shares a frustrating yet unbreakable connection with Court—which only grows more lawless and chaotic as their senses and emotions connect with Franny.

With the threat of people learning they’ve dodged their deathdays, they must flee their planet to survive. But to do so, all three will have to hide their shared bond as they vie for a highly sought after spot in the newest mission to space. Against thousands of people far smarter, who’ll live longer, and never fear death the way that they do.


I requested The Raging Ones from NetGalley solely because it was written by Krista and Becca Ritchie. I didn’t even read the blurb. If I had, I might not have requested it. I’m not a science fiction or fantasy fan. I try to avoid books in those genres. I’m happy I didn’t read that blurb because I would have missed out on something wonderful. Krista and Becca Ritchie may be known in the contemporary romance world, but they’re taking the YA science fiction world by storm with The Raging Ones.

The writing in this book was exceptional. I wasn’t overwhelmed by the science and fantasy details of the story. I was immediately pulled in and engaged with the setting and characters. I loved the plot. It was so different from anything I’ve read before. I adored Franny, Mykel, and Court. They had such a special connection and how it was woven through the story was so cool. The supporting characters were all very interesting and had important roles to play.

I loved everything about The Raging Ones. If I could have stayed up any later, I would have read this book in one day. It was that fascinating to me. I loved how the action built. The ending — well, let’s just say I didn’t see that coming. It was perfect! I cannot wait to read the next book in this series! Bravo, Ritchie twins!

Series Review: Losing It by Cora Carmack

Losing It
Series: Losing It, #1
Author: Cora Carmack
Narrator: Phoebe Strole
Publication Date: April 30, 2013
Publisher: HarperAudio
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Virginity.

Bliss Edwards is about to graduate from college and still has hers. Sick of being the only virgin among her friends, she decides the best way to deal with the problem is to lose it as quickly and simply as possible—a one-night stand. But her plan turns out to be anything but simple when she freaks out and leaves a gorgeous guy alone and naked in her bed with an excuse that no one with half a brain would ever believe.

And as if that weren’t embarrassing enough, when she arrives for her first class of her last college semester, she recognizes her new theater professor.

She’d left him naked in her bed about eight hours earlier. . . .

I hadn’t read this book before now because I didn’t think I would like it. I’m not a fan of the whole student-teacher forbidden romance thing. As a parent, those type of romances disturb and concern me. Losing It didn’t bother me, though. Cora Carmack did a very good job of not crossing over a line I couldn’t handle. This student-teacher romance worked for me for a number of reasons.

  • Bliss was a college senior. She was an adult a few years over the age of 18.
  • Garrick wasn’t too much older than her. He had recently graduated from college himself.
  • Bliss and Garrick’s relationship went slow. Based on the title, that seems false. It was truly a very slow burn romance.
  • There weren’t a lot of scenes where I worried they were going to get caught. The ones that were made me laugh. They were actually kind of funny.
  • I also think that listening to the audio version of the book made a difference. It was like being even more in Bliss’ head and feeling her feelings.

All of these things made the student-teacher concept easier on me. It also helped that I loved the writing and the characters. This book really surprised me, and in a good way. I truly wanted Bliss and Garrick to be together.

The only things that bugged me were lack of depth/growth of the characters and the switch from the entire book being in Bliss’ point of view to Garrick’s for the epilogue. I wanted Bliss to learn something more and to get a greater insight into Garrick. As for the narration switch, it was mostly because the narrator. He talked so much faster than the person who did Bliss. It was a shocking change. That wasn’t that big of deal, though. I got used to it. Overall, Losing It was a good classic NA read.


Faking It
Series: Losing It, #2
Author: Cora Carmack
Narrators: Emma Galvin, Dan Bittner
Publication Date: June 4, 2013
Publisher: HarperAudio
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Mackenzie “Max” Miller has a problem. Her parents have arrived in town for a surprise visit, and if they see her dyed hair, tattoos, and piercings, they just might disown her. Even worse, they’re expecting to meet a nice wholesome boyfriend, not a guy named Mace who has a neck tattoo and plays in a band. All her lies are about to come crashing down around her, but then she meets Cade.

Cade moved to Philadelphia to act and to leave his problems behind in Texas. So far though, he’s kept the problems and had very little opportunity to take the stage. When Max approaches him in a coffee shop with a crazy request to pretend to be her boyfriend, he agrees to play the part. But when Cade plays the role a little too well, they’re forced to keep the ruse going. And the more they fake the relationship, the more real it begins to feel.

Review:

Faking It was definitely more my style than Losing It. I really enjoyed this take on the fake relationship trope. I liked Cade in Losing It, and was happy he got a chance at real love. He was slightly broken, but his heartache was nothing compared to Max’s. I loved what Cade was able to bring to Max’s life. It was really sweet.

Faking It felt like a standard new adult romance. It had two broken characters who didn’t realize they were looking for the wrong thing until they found each other. The story had a little angst, but it wasn’t over the top. Faking It is definitely a must read for new adult fans.


Finding It
Series: Losing It, #3
Author: Cora Carmack
Narrators: Soneela Nankani
Publication Date: October 15, 2013
Publisher: HarperAudio
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

Sometimes you have to lose yourself to find where you truly belong . . .

Most girls would kill to spend months traveling around Europe after college graduation with no responsibility, no parents, and no-limit credit cards. Kelsey Summers is no exception. She’s having the time of her life . . . or that’s what she keeps telling herself.

It’s a lonely business trying to find out who you are, especially when you’re afraid you won’t like what you discover. No amount of drinking or dancing can chase away Kelsey’s loneliness, but maybe Jackson Hunt can. After a few chance meetings, he convinces her to take a journey of adventure instead of alcohol. With each new city and experience, Kelsey’s mind becomes a little clearer and her heart a little less hers. Jackson helps her unravel her own dreams and desires. But the more she learns about herself, the more Kelsey realizes how little she knows about Jackson.

Review:

Finding It was my least favorite book in the series. It had several things stacked against it. I like books set in countries outside the U.S., but books where a character travels around don’t always work for me. This one did at times, but didn’t at others. I also didn’t immediately fall in love with Kelsey’s character. I didn’t like her or the decisions she made at first. It took me almost until half way though the book to start to be interested in her story. It waswhen she let me in on her secret. Then, I could at least start to understand her. I was seriously considering DNFing the book prior to her revelation. Even after I considered it. I think I just needed more of Kelsey and Jackson sooner. If I would have been reading instead of listening, I honestly would have skimmed to get to the heart of the story faster.

Overall Thoughts:

I had put off reading the Losing It series because I mistakenly thought it wasn’t for me. After reading Cora Carmack’s other NA series, I decided to take my chances. I’m happy I did. The first two books in this series were well worth reading. The last book wasn’t for me, but I’m sure others would enjoy it.

Blog Tour Review: The Varlet and the Voyeur by L.H. Cosway & Penny Reid

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The Varlet and the Voyeur, an all-new standalone in the USA Today bestselling Rugby Series from Penny Reid and L.H. Cosway is available NOW!

Cover

He kept his salacious secret for years. But soon, everyone is going to be reading about it in their morning paper…

THE VARLET (and the VOYEUR)

William Moore is a long way from home. A farm boy from Oklahoma, he’s now the most well-respected member of the Irish rugby team. But appearances are often deceptive, and Will isn’t the clean-cut, all-American good-guy everyone imagines him to be. He’s got a secret, one that will tarnish his reputation forever.

THE VOYEUR (and the VARLET)

Josey Kavanagh is a self-proclaimed mess, but she’s finally get her shi…uh, act together. She’s set her sights on becoming a veterinarian, but there’s one teeny tiny road bump. Her living arrangements are coming to an abrupt end, leaving Josey homeless and in need of a job to pay her way through college.

THE PLAN

What he needs is a companion to keep him on the right path.

What she needs is an apartment with free rent.

Will is convinced Josey will make the perfect companion, since she’s brutally honest and basically ‘just one of the guys.’ Josey is convinced she can ensure Will doesn’t succumb to his voyeuristic proclivities by keeping a scrupulous eye on him.

Except, what happens when the varlet is tempted by the voyeur, and vice-versa?!

Perchance something very, very volatile. And vexing.

The Varlet and the Voyeur is a full-length romantic comedy novel, can be read as a standalone, and is the 4th(and last) book in the USA TODAY bestselling Rugby Series.

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Download your copy today or read FREE in Kindle Unlimited!

Amazon US: https://amzn.to/2l89gDn

Amazon Universal: http://mybook.to/TheVarlet

Add to GoodReads: https://bit.ly/2jqFMiU

Enter the giveaway to win a amazing signed paperback bundle!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Start the Series of standalones with The Hooker and the Hermit!

Amazon US: https://amzn.to/2wp3GoC

Amazon Universal: http://mybook.to/TheHookerandtheHermit

Review:

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

I wasn’t sure what to expect by the title of this book. First, I had no idea what a varlet was. Second, a voyeur? That sounded way more erotic than this series normally is. All this made me a little hesitant and a whole lot curious to read this book.

Thankfully, The Varlet and the Voyeur was not a departure from the rest of the series. It was just as fun, witty, and hilarious. I was also surprised by how enlightening it was. L.H. Cosway and Penny Reid took the voyeurism topic to a different place. Will’s whole reason behind his kink was actually respectful and thoughtful. I didn’t see that coming. I also didn’t know how much I would learn from Josey on an array of subjects. It was all so cool.

Before I get away from how well written this book was, I need to praise the authors’ writing. This collaboration was one where it was easy to tell who wrote what. Normally, that might not be a good thing. In this book, it was a great thing. It made Will and Josey’s voices stand out. Their points of view felt like two different individuals.

Will was a stoic man. He seemed to take everything in stride, and he was willing to accept his faults and mistakes. His whole back story fascinated me, and I enjoyed the way he learned to think differently about himself thanks to Josey.

Josey was a ball of fire. She was hilarious. Her strange ramblings were so endearing. I didn’t fault the people closest to her for being on the edge of annoyance with her. I probably would be, too. What I loved about her strangeness was that it made her unique and somehow perfect for Will.

Will and Josey were simply adorable together. I won’t say more because the way they ended up together was so fun to read. All you need to know was that their chemistry was off the charts. Every interaction they had was a priceless experience.

Obviously, I loved The Varlet and the Voyeur. Whether you’re a fan of the Rugby series or new to it, you’re in for a fun ride. This is a romantic comedy you won’t want to miss.

Excerpt:

*Will*

When I saw how spotless the shared living space was, I allowed my curiosity to get the better of me and peeked my head into her bathroom, Rocky dancing around my feet as I entered the space. The counters were covered in woman-products, but the marble surface and sink were free of water spots, and the glass of the shower had been wiped clean.

I glanced at Rocky. He glanced at me. Bemused, I chuckled to myself, about to turn back to the door, and that’s when I spotted it.

A dildo.

A big, Pyrex dildo.

With ridges.

In the shower.

I froze, blinked, and I stared at it, my brain sluggish. Oddly, I had to remind myself to breathe. Likely because I was . . .

I was—

I was shocked.

I shook myself, tearing my eyes from it and rubbing my chest where an odd kind of pang was spreading mild warmth up my neck.

But why was I shocked?

Why should I be surprised?

Despite my never seeing her that way, Josey was a woman and women have needs.

Don’t they?

I hadn’t grown up around women—any women. My mother died when she had my youngest brother. My grandmother died before I was born. I had no sisters. We lived on a farm, way out in BFN Oklahoma.

Girls—women—and their bodies were sacred lands of the unknown to us Moore boys.

Unbidden—completely unbidden—an image of Josey flashed through my mind’s eye. Her full lips parted, her big eyes closed, causing her thick black lashes to catch droplets of water before they dripped over her sharp cheekbones. Her head would be lolled back as shower spray melted bubbles of slippery soap, sliding down her bare skin as they dissolved. Her legs would be parted, and maybe one hand would be braced against the wall of the shower while the other moved in a steady rhythm.

Holding that huge, glass dildo.

I swallowed a sudden rush of salvia and, unable to help myself, I leaned closer to the sex toy, examining it and comparing its size against my own.

I was bigger.

But not by much.

And for some reason, this realization made me instantly hard.

Crap.

Of course I knew Josey was a woman, but until this moment, I’d never really thought of her that way. Not even the tampon-mountain drove the point home. Up until this point, she was someone I liked as a person, someone who made me laugh, who was smart and compassionate, someone around whom I felt completely comfortable. A good—no, a great companion.

She was still all of those things, except—

Except now I’ve pictured her naked.

Meet Penny Reid:

Penny Reid is the Wall Street Journal and USA Today Bestselling Author of the Winston Brothers and Knitting in the City series. She used to spend her days writing federal grant proposals as a biomedical researcher, but now she just writes books. She’s also a full time mom to three diminutive adults, wife, daughter, knitter, crocheter, sewer, general crafter, and thought ninja.

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Connect with Penny:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PennyReidWriter/

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2lakzsD

Twitter: @ReidRomance

Newsletter: http://pennyreid.ninja/newsletter/

www.pennyreid.ninja

Meet L.H. Cosway:

L.H. Cosway has a BA in English Literature and Greek and Roman Civilisation, and an MA in Postcolonial Literature. She lives in Dublin city. Her inspiration to write comes from music. Her favorite things in life include writing stories, vintage clothing, dark cabaret music, food, musical comedy, and of course, books.

She thinks that imperfect people are the most interesting kind. They tell the best stories.

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Connect with L.H. Cosway:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LHCosway/

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2jVTDk8

Twitter: @LHCosway

Newsletter:http://lhcoswayauthor.com/newsletter/

Website: www.lhcoswayauthor.com

Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Awaken the Travel Bug In Me

Welcome to Top Ten Tuesday!

Top Ten Tuesday is an original weekly feature created by The Broke and the Bookish and is now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s is Books That Awaken the Travel Bug In Me. Here are books that make me want to hop on a plane even though I hate flying.


1. Juniors by Kaui Hart Hemmings

2. The Descendants by Kaui Hart Hemmings

3. Chasing Crazy by Kelly Siskind

4. Burning Moon by Jo Watson

5. Almost a Bride by Jo Watson

6. Finding You by Jo Watson

7. Roman Crazy by Alice Clayton & Nina Bocci

8. Hooking Up by Helena Hunting

9. A Place in the Sun by R.S. Grey

10. Interference by Mignon Mykel

Release Blitz Review: Part-Time Lover by Lauren Blakely

PART-TIME LOVER promises full-time satisfaction…

What do you get when you mix a charming British hero, a temporary marriage of convenience, and a smart & sassy heroine? PART-TIME LOVER, the brand new, standalone rom-com from #1 New York Times bestseller Lauren Blakely! Get your copy of PART-TIME LOVER now!

✮✮✮PART-TIME LOVER is here! Grab your copy today! ✮✮✮

I’ll say this about Christian — he made one hell of a first impression. When I first saw the strapping man, he was doing handstands naked on a dock along the canal. His crown jewels were far more entertaining than anything else I’d seen on the boat tour, so I did what any curious woman would do — I took his photo. I might have looked at the shot a few dozen times. Little did I know I’d meet him again, a year later, at a secret garden bar in the heart of the city, where I’d learn that his mind and his mouth were even more captivating. But given the way my heart had been trampled, I wanted only a simple deal — No strings. No expectations.

Our arrangement worked well enough until the day I needed a lot more from him…

***

Let me just say, this whole part-time lover thing was her idea. I’d have gone all-in from the start, but hey, when a gorgeous, brilliant woman invites you into her bed, and only her bed…well, I said yes.

But then, one hysterical phone call from my brother later, begging me to find myself a wife so grandfather’s business stays in the family, and I need a promotion with Elise. Turns out a full-time husband suits her needs too, and a temporary marriage of convenience ought to do the trick, until we can simply untie the knot…

As long as no one finds out…
As long as no one gets hurt…
As long as no one falls in love…

But our ending was one I never saw coming.

ORDER YOUR COPIES HERE!

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✦ Kindle UK ➜
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✦ Google Play ➜
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✦ Amazon PB ➜
http://blkly.pub/PT-Lover-PB

REVIEW

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Earlier this year, I read Lauren Blakely’s Wanderlust. I was smitten with the characters and the Paris setting.  In that book, I got to meet Christian and Elise. They were just a vibrant as the main characters in that story, and I couldn’t wait to get to read their story.

I adored Part-Time Lover. It was a very fun take on a fake marriage turned real. I loved that Christian and Elise bonded in a non-romantic but sexy way. There was more than just physical attraction to their story,  and that made it all the more sweeter.

If I had to pick a favorite thing about Part-Time Lover, it would need Christian. He had a great sense of humor. I also loved his sense of family and loyalty. He was the perfect person for a woman like Elise who had given up on love.

Part-Time Lover was a quick, romantic read that left me smiling. The Paris (and Denmark) setting combined with amazing characters made this a fun summer read. I highly recommend it.


✦The audiobook is narrated by Shane East and Grace Grant! ✦
✦ Audio ➜ http://blkly.pub/PT-Lover-Audible OR http://blkly.pub/PT-Lover-Audio


EXCERPT:

~Elise~

A year ago

The boat slides under another bridge then motors through a more residential area, passing homes on the water and private docks every few feet. My eyes hungrily eat up the view. My current hometown of Paris is my love, but I could get used to weekends in Copenhagen. It’s a delightful mix of old and new, like a Swiss alpine town mated with a futuristic sky-rise city.

As I gaze at the sun-soaked homes, I imagine lazy afternoons drinking strong coffee on the deck, reading delicious tales under the rays. That seems like a recipe for happiness for the rest of my days.

I want to feel that way. Happy. It’s been so damn elusive lately, and for a fleeting moment, it feels as if I grasp it again, so I’m no longer teetering on the edge of grief and shame.

But that’s why I’m here, to move past that terrible duet.

I try valiantly to simply enjoy everything in front of me: the buildings, the water, the view.

As we round the bend in the canal, I blink at the view.

Holy hell, the unexpected view.

Nearby is a private dock.

On that dock is a man.

He’s performing a downward-facing dog, and his rear is facing us.

What a spectacular ass.

It’s not covered in sweatpants or basketball shorts.

It’s au naturel, as finely sculpted as the statue of David.

He’s a dog all right.

I sit up.

I practically stand. I lean on the edge of the boat, agog. I won’t even pretend I’m not looking. I’m ogling.

The Japanese friends whisper and point. The couple shifts closer to get a better look. The college girls titter and laugh.

We slide along on the calm water, and now we’re fifty feet away from a sight way better than the Little Mermaid statue, more magnificent than the royal palace.

He bends forward, pressing his palms into the wood, lifting his legs, and flipping them upside down.

Full. Frontal. Birthday suit.

He’s a tall drink of a man, and I’m so very thirsty.

“Look,” I whisper to Veronica, though of course she’s already engaged in the fine art of gawking. “Did you know the Mad Naked Handstander of Copenhagen was on the tour?”

She sighs contentedly. “I am so glad you forced me to go to the buffet.” She parks her chin in her hands, watching the tall upside-down creature.

“My favorite part of the buffet is dessert,” I say, as my eyes gobble him up.

This man wears nudity well, even in this unusual position.

“I enjoyed the rubies and emeralds in Rosenborg Castle, but I like these crown jewels even better,” I say.

And hey, perhaps I’m perving, but I’m an equal-opportunity spectator at this private dock show. I don’t merely peer at the centerpiece of his physique, resting majestically against the grooves of his abs. My eyes take a most happy stroll up and down his carved body, from the planes of his stomach, to his strong thighs, to his arms ripped with muscles. His face is hard to read at 180 degrees, but I see the shape of his cheekbones, carved by angels.

Then, he moves. He walks on his hands. Back and forth.

Like he’s performing.

Showing off his most unique skill set.

I chuckle louder.

Then louder still when he holds himself up on one hand only, waving to us.

“What a show-off,” Veronica says.

Lars clears his throat. “And sometimes, we see the unexpected sights of Copenhagen.”

I do what any curious onlooker might do. I grab my phone and snap.

Snap.

Snap.

The man stands, takes a bow, and waves.

My chest heats up. The temperature in me flirts with mercury levels. He’s a stunner. My God, he’s like Skarsgård, from this distance.

And because I believe in speaking my mind, I cup my hand over my mouth and shout, “Bravo. All of it.”

He doffs an imaginary top hat and takes a bow. “My pleasure.” His voice books across the water, his accent a British one.

Sparks unexpectedly race down my chest. That accent is delicious. “Oh no. The pleasure is truly all mine.”

ADD IT TO YOUR GOODREADS TODAY!

“Characters that are as bold and carefree as they are vulnerable and introspective, banter that’s rife with wit, humor, and innuendo, and a teasing, agonizingly slow-building romance make Part-Time Lover a gripping love story. From start to finish, Part-Time Lover will have you laughing and swooning and falling in love with love.” -Yvette, Nose Stuck in a Book

“Jam-packed with Blakely’s keen attention to detail, her fabulous sense of humor and a sexy, sweet, consuming romance, Part-Time Lover was a heart-fluttering, full of hope joy to read.” -Red Cheeks Reads

“…a beautiful, compelling, alluring story of opening up your heart again to love and all the possibilities of it.” –Bookish Aurora

✮✮✮Get full-time satisfaction with this PART-TIME LOVER giveaway! ✮✮✮

Let’s celebrate the release of Christian and Elise’s romance
with a Kate Spade Tote ($200 value) and $50 Gift Card to Sephora for your own Scentsual Fragrance!

https://laurenblakely.com/part-time-lover-giveaway/

About Lauren Blakely:

A #1 New York Times Bestselling author, and #1 Wall Street Journal Bestselling author, Lauren Blakely is known for her contemporary romance style that’s hot, sweet and sexy. She lives in California with her family and has plotted entire novels while walking her dogs. With fourteen New York Times bestsellers, her titles have appeared on the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal Bestseller Lists more than 95 times, and she’s sold more than 2.5 million books. In June she’ll release PART-TIME LOVER, a sexy new standalone romance. To receive an email when Lauren releases a new book, sign up for her newsletter! laurenblakely.com/newsletter

Website ** Facebook ** Twitter ** Newsletter ** Goodreads

Review: Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett

Starry Eyes
Author: Jenn Bennett
Publication Date: April 3, 2018
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Ever since last year’s homecoming dance, best friends-turned-best enemies Zorie and Lennon have made an art of avoiding each other. It doesn’t hurt that their families are the modern-day, Californian version of the Montagues and Capulets.

But when a group camping trip goes south, Zorie and Lennon find themselves stranded in the wilderness. Alone. Together.

What could go wrong?

With no one but each other for company, Zorie and Lennon have no choice but to hash out their issues via witty jabs and insults as they try to make their way to safety. But fighting each other while also fighting off the forces of nature makes getting out of the woods in one piece less and less likely.

And as the two travel deeper into Northern California’s rugged backcountry, secrets and hidden feelings surface. But can Zorie and Lennon’s rekindled connection survive out in the real world? Or was it just a result of the fresh forest air and the magic of the twinkling stars?


If you’re looking for the perfect summer YA contemporary romance, this is it. Starry Eyes had everything I look for in that category. Let me break it down for you.

The writing: Jenn Bennett’s writing is amazing. I haven’t found a book of hers I haven’t loved yet. Each book she writes gets better and better. Starry Eyes is my new favorite of hers. I loved the whole Romeo and Juliet vibe it had going on.

Perfect summer setting: The whole glamping thing was hilarious. I want to glamp now so bad! I also loved the camping and hiking in the wilderness of Northern California. Lennon not only taught Zorie about a lot of things, he taught me too!

The characters: Zorie was a real girl with real problems. A lot of them were caused by avoidance and miscommunication, but that felt true to her age. I saw a lot of her in my younger self. Lennon cracked me up. His sense of humor and sarcasm made me smile.

Perfect summer romance: I loved the evolution of Zorie and Lennon’s relationship. It was sweet in the way only childhood best friend to more can be. They went through a lot together and apart. It made their friendship/relationship stronger in the long run.

Real life problems: There were so many different friendship dramas in here, and I could see them playing out in real life. Popularity wasn’t really a thing for either Lennon or Zorie, but you could see some of it in the side characters. The miscommunication could be trying at times, but it really fit well into Zorie’s personality. I

Parents: can’t leave out the parental units. They were some meddling parents, that’s for sure. Zorie’s dad took things to a whole new level. I haven’t quite experienced that in YA before, but I liked it even though I didn’t like him. Lots of parental drama, people.

Starry Eyes  was the perfect summer reading adventure. I loved every minute I “roughed it” with Zorie and Lennon. I was sad to finish it because I would have been happy to keep reading about them. I highly recommend reading Starry Eyes if you love fun summer YA contemporaries.

Mini Reviews: Salt to the Sea & More Than Word

Salt to the Sea
Author: Ruta Sepetys
Narrators: Jorgeana Marie, Will Damron, Cassandra Morris, Michael Crouch
Publication Date: February 2, 2016
Publisher: Random House
Genre: Historical Fiction, Young Adult

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

The author of Between Shades of Gray returns to WWII in this epic novel that shines a light on one of the war’s most devastating yet unknown tragedies.

In 1945, World War II is drawing to a close in East Prussia, and thousands of refugees are on a desperate trek toward freedom, almost all of them with something to hide. Among them are Joana, Emilia, and Florian, whose paths converge en route to the ship that promises salvation, the Wilhelm Gustloff. Forced by circumstance to unite, the three find their strength, courage, and trust in each other tested with each step closer toward safety.

Just when it seems freedom is within their grasp, tragedy strikes. Not country, nor culture, nor status matter as all ten thousand people aboard must fight for the same thing: survival.

Told in alternating points of view, and perfect for fans of Anthony Doerr’s Pulitzer Prize-winning , Erik Larson’s critically acclaimed #1 New York Times bestseller Dead Wake, and Elizabeth Wein’s Printz Honor Book Code Name Verity, this masterful work of historical fiction is inspired by the real-life tragedy that was the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff–the greatest maritime disaster in history. As she did in Between Shades of Gray,, Ruta Sepetys unearths a shockingly little-known casualty of a gruesome war, and proves that humanity can prevail, even in the darkest of hours.

Review:

Salt to the Sea is my first Ruta Sepetys novel. I was so very impressed by it. It was such a heartbreaking, beautiful story. I loved the way it switched back and forth between the characters. The way their sad stories intertwined was special. I truly loved listening to the way the narrators brought life to the story. Whether you read or listen to this book, you’re in for an amazing book.


More Than Words
Author: Mia Sheridan
Publication Date: June 12, 2018
Publisher: Forever
Genre: Contemporary Romance, New Adult
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

The moment she met Callen Hayes, eleven-year-old Jessica Creswell knew he was a broken prince. Her prince. They became each other’s refuge, a safe and magical place far from their troubled lives. Until the day Callen kissed herJessica’s first real, dreamy kiss—and then disappeared from her life without a word.

Years later, everyone knows who Callen Hayes is. Famous composer. Infamous bad boy. What no one knows is that Callen’s music is now locked deep inside, trapped behind his own inner demons. It’s only when he withdraws to France to drink his way through the darkness that Callen stumbles into the one person who makes the music return. Jessica. His Jessie. And she still tastes of fresh, sweet innocence . . . even as she sets his blood on fire.

But they don’t belong in each other’s worlds anymore. There are too many mistakes. Too many secrets. Too many lies. All they have is that instinctive longing, that need—and something that looks dangerously like love.

Review:

Years ago, I read Archer’s Voice. That book broke me. I have several other of Mia Sheridan’s books, but have yet to read them. I guess I’ve been scared of the emotional impact. I decided to brave her writing again with More Than Words. There were several things I loved about this book. That initial connection between Jessie and Callie was so sweet. I loved that fate brought them back together, and that they got more than one chance to be together. I also loved how Jessie’s job and her interpretations paralleled with her relationship with Callen. The only thing I wasn’t a big fan of was Callen’s womanizing and drinking. I guess I’m just over that in romances right now. It made it harder for me to emotionally connect to Jessie and Callen’s relationship. Other than, I enjoyed reading More Than Words.

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

What I Never Knew I Needed
Series: What I Never Knew, #3
Author: C.L. Collier
Publication Date: May 10, 2018
Publisher: C.L. Collier
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

Divorced….

I never thought I would be checking this box as a life accomplishment. Apparently, my cheating husband had other plans and no longer wanted to uphold our vows. Life as I knew it will never be the same. Not only do I have to worry about how I will pick up the pieces for myself, but I have to help my son recover from the lies and deceit as well.

When my best friend Amanda asks me to go on a road trip to California, I jump at the chance to help her recover from the loss of her mom, as well as escape my own life in turmoil.

I finally decide to let loose and have a care-free night. Little do I know just how much that one magical night will change my world.


What I Never Knew I Needed is the third book in the What I Never Knew series. The first two books were about Amanda and Dex. This book is about their best friends, Laura and Chris. Laura and Chris’ relationship began when Amanda and Dex’s did. They meet at a bar, and their one night stand turns into more. Parts of their relationship are featured in the first two books, but only from Amanda and Dex’s perspectives. What I Never Knew I Needed starts back at the beginning for Chris and Laura and continues on. Some of the events are the same, but it’s like reading about them through new eyes. In my opinion, for that reason, What I Never Knew I Needed can either be read as part of the series or as a standalone.

I have to be honest. Before (and even during parts of) reading this book, I wondered how Chris and Laura’s relationship could ever work out. They live in two different states and both share children with their exes. Those are two HUGE hurdles no matter how much you want to be with someone. I was incredibly impressed with how C.L. Collier dealt with this issue. Her characters acted the way I would expect real people to act in this situation. Another thing I was impressed with was her solution to the problems Chris and Laura were facing. I never saw what she had planned coming!

The only thing I wasn’t sure if I liked was the other romantic interests that come into Chris and Laura’s lives when they’re not together. I understood why they were included. It made sense for them to look for love in their zip codes. Sometimes it was just more than I wanted to know about those relationships. If you don’t like reading about your main characters with other people, parts of this book might bother you.

What I Never Knew I Needed was my favorite book in the What I Never Knew series. I loved this second chance at love for Chris and Laura. It was such a sweet story. It was the perfect way to end the series. I have loved seeing C.L. Collier’s writing get better and better with each of these releases. It makes me excited to see what she has in store for us next.

Review: Take Me Back by Meghan March

Take Me Back
Author: Meghan March
Narrators: Andi Arndt, Zachary Webber
Publication Date: March 20, 2017
Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.
Genre: Romantic Suspense, Contemporary Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

We fell in love on a beach, got married in paradise, and I carried her off into the sunset. It should have been perfect, but saying “I do” doesn’t guarantee a happily-ever-after.

Two years later, I barely recognize either of us behind the walls we’ve built.

It’s time to bring it full circle. Back to a tropical paradise. Back to find out if we can still make this work.

I’m not willing to give her up, but to save us, I have to risk everything.

Two damaged people.

Countless secrets.

The fight of our lives.

We might be broken, but we’re not done.


This winter I’ve been binge listening to Meghan March’s books. I love her writing style and the voices she gives her characters. I also love the narrators she uses for her audiobooks. Listening to them is such a joy.

That being said, most of the books I’ve read of March’s have been contemporary romances. Usually there is a little mystery involved, but it’s not one that’s super suspenseful. That’s one way Take Me Back differs from the previous books I’ve read. It had me on the edge of my seat for the majority of the book! I was surprised by how much I liked that. Normally, I’m not a big fan of romantic suspense plots, but it really worked in this book. I loved the entire plot!

Another way Take Me Back was different was the type of relationship featured. Cat and Dane were an established married couple. Their relationship had started to fall apart of the past year, and they were embarking on a vacation to try and salvage what was left of it. This was another good surprise. I liked how they each had things they needed to tell the other, and how they both wanted to make things work. It was refreshing to read about them both putting in the effort to make their marriage better.

These two difference made Take Me Back standout — not only among Meghan March’s many titles, but among contemporary romantic suspense novels. I loved listening to this book and I think other will really enjoy it, too.

Review: Love Songs & Other Lies by Jessica Pennington

Love Songs & Other Lies
Author: Jessica Pennington
Publication Date: April 24, 2018
Publisher: Tor Teen
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ 

Synopsis:

It’s summer romance and second chances, the songs that stay in your head, and the boy you’ll never forget.

Two years after rock-song-worthy heartbreak, Virginia Miller is looking forward to a fun, carefree summer. Her friends just landed a spot on a battling bands reality show, and Vee is joining them for her dream internship on tour. Three months with future rockstars seems like an epic summer plan. Until she learns she’ll also be sharing the bus with Cam. Her first love, and her first heartbreak. Now Vee has more than just cameras to dodge, and Cam’s determination to win her forgiveness is causing TMZ-worthy problems for both of them. With cameras rolling, she’ll have to decide if her favorite breakup anthem deserves a new ending. And if she’s brave enough to expose her own secrets to keep Cam’s under wraps.


Every so often I read a tweet or blog post by someone wanting a young adult novel set in college. Love Songs & Other Lies might just fit the bill for those people. It’s set in two different time periods. The present is the summer after Vee and Cameron’s freshman year in college when they are 19 years old. Vee has been conned into touring with Cameron and the rest of her friends in the band. That wouldn’t be so horrible if Vee and Cameron hadn’t had a rocky break up a couple of years ago. The second is when they’re seniors in high school. That part is the story of how Vee and Cam got together and then fell apart. The mix of these two ages give the book a not quite YA but also not quite NA feeling. It’s actually a really great mix of the two genres.

It’s not very often you get a second chance romance in YA. Normally, there’s several a break up spanning several years before the characters get back together. I like that Vee and Cam didn’t have to wait that long. Both of Vee and Cam’s love stories were good. I liked getting to know how their relationship began, ended, and then began again. I also liked their individual back stories and how it affected their relationship. They were great characters.

I only had one problem with it all. The story started out great. I was instantly drawn into Vee and Cam’s lives. I was invested in their characters within a short period of time — in the present. I liked what was happening in the past, but I got frustrated with how slowly that part unraveled. What it comes down to is that Love Stories & Other Lies didn’t give me what happened in the past quickly enough for me to know why I should want Cam and Vee together. Their original love story was still unfolding — way too slowly and almost boring. I needed to know what the problem was so that I could root for them to get back together.

Once everything was out in the open, I was back to being entranced with the story. I loved the last third of the book. I felt like I was back in my YA summer contemporary happy place. I could forgive the moments of boredom in the middle because everything turned out exactly right. I gave it 4 stars because by the time I finished reading it, I was in love with Love Songs & Other Lies.