Review: After We Fell by Anna Todd

After We Fell
Series: After
Author: Anna Todd
Publication Date: December 30, 2014
Publisher: Gallery Books
Genre: Romance, Contemporary, New Adult

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

Synopsis:

Tessa and Hardin’s love was complicated before. Now it’s more confusing than ever. AFTER WE FELL…Life will never be the same. #HESSA

Just as Tessa makes the biggest decision of her life, everything changes. Revelations about first her family, and then Hardin’s, throw everything they knew before in doubt and makes their hard-won future together more difficult to claim.

Tessa’s life begins to come unglued. Nothing is what she thought it was. Not her friends. Not her family. The one person she should be able to rely on, Hardin, is furious when he discovers the massive secret she’s been keeping. And rather than being understanding, he turns to sabotage.

Tessa knows Hardin loves her and will do anything to protect her, but there’s a difference between loving someone and being able to have them in your life. This cycle of jealousy, unpredictable anger, and forgiveness is exhausting. She’s never felt so intensely for anyone, so exhilarated by someone’s kiss—but is the irrepressible heat between her and Hardin worth all the drama? Love used to be enough to hold them together. But if Tessa follows her heart now, will it be…the end?


In my review for After We Collided (After, #2), I said I didn’t want to continue this series but would because I had to know what crazy stuff Anna Todd could possibly come up with in the rest of the series. I couldn’t think of any crazier situations than she had already written. I mean, how much drama can one couple go through. Evidently, a lot because After We Fell continued the crazy.

Tessa and Hardin’s relationship continued to go through constant emotional upheaval. Their relationship sprung to abusive heights that disgusted me. I have said it in my previous reviews and I’ll say it again, Hardin needs psychological help. He is one messed up jerk. (And that’s putting it lightly.) Anna Todd gives us all these reasons why Hardin is the way he is, but it’s no excuse for how he treats Tessa. I was proud that he came to a couple of realizations in this book, but it didn’t rehabilitate him at all.

I was proud of Tessa a few times in this book. She’s began to realize things as well, and she did a better job of sticking up for herself. Tessa made some good decisions, but she has given Hardin too many chances. I still wish she would find a true knight in shining armor who wouldn’t treat her the way Hardin does. I was happy that she finally understood that Zed wasn’t her friend and how she ended up handling it.

There were several surprises in this book. Most I saw coming, but a couple shocked me. I was left wondering how Tessa and Hardin could know so many horrible people. I don’t think I’ve met this many horrible people in my lifetime. Maybe I have. I could be wrong. I just want to know where all the normal people are in their lives? Well, I guess they do have Landon, Karen and Kimberly.

I hate to say it, but I think the After series is starting to grow on me. Well, parts of it are at least. I know the series won’t end how I want it to, but I can curious to see how it all wraps up. So, yes, I will be reading the other books in this series.

Review: Beast by Elizabeth Reyes

Beast
Series: Boyle Heights, #2
Author: Elizabeth Reyes
Publication Date: August 4, 2017
Genre: Romance, Suspense, Contemporary, New Adult

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Synopsis:

She holds the power to tame the Beast . . .

or unleash him if he lets her in.

This close to turning his life around and just months away from the end of his probation, all Leo has to do is keep his inner demons in check.

But the Beast within is about to be reawakened.

One interview was all it was supposed to be. An interview with the daunting felon in the work-release program that leaves Allison breathless with anticipation for their next encounter.

Despite the risks of becoming involved, neither is able to fight the inexplicable draw they’re feeling.

Life keeps throwing them back together until the fateful night they stop fighting the inevitable and give into their desires. Suddenly, Leo has even more to look forward to in his new life.

Until his violent past catches up to him.

With the stakes infinitely higher now that Allison may also be at risk, the dormant Beast deep inside Leo threatens to unleash, ruining all the progress he’s made—worst of all any future with Allison.

My Review:

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

I have to admit that I wasn’t sure if Beast was going to be a book I would enjoy. Ali wasn’t one of my favorite characters when I read Lila (Boyle Heights, #1). I wasn’t fond of the disregard Ali had for her own safety in that book. Beast did a very good job of making me like and understand Ali. It overlapped the time frame of Lila and gave me new insight of Ali’s motivations and her falling for Beast.

Ali is one of the softest female character Reyes has written. She was young and sweet. Her insecurities about her body made her very easy to relate to. Ali was timid when it came to men, but also wasn’t afraid to go after what she wanted. It made her relationship with Beast pretty perfect. Beast was the typical Elizabeth Reyes alpha male. He was hard, older, and reluctant to corrupt Ali. He knew the most important thing was to keep Ali safe. I loved how their relationship built throughout the book, and developed into something really special.

I’m not a big romantic suspense fan, but I enjoyed the suspense created in Beast. It wasn’t over the top. It gradually increased throughout the book. Some of the twists in the story I expected, some caught me off guard. I liked how everything played out in the end. It wasn’t what I was expecting. That was a good thing.

Beast was a great addition to the Boyle Heights series. It had almost everything I want from an Elizabeth Reyes romance. (I did kind of miss a kick ass female character.) Beast was a fun read, and it made me excited for the next book in the series.

If you like diverse characters, alpha males, strong women and lots of fun drama, I highly recommend Beast or any other of Elizabeth Reyes’ novels.

Excerpt:

Reaching the room in question, Leo walked over to the car parked in front of the window and pretended to fumble with invisible keys at the door. He glanced up and saw the two figures move about in the room. That was when he got a glimpse of the other person—a much shorter person—who had long hair. There was a light on in the background possibly to the bathroom or hallway just outside the bathroom. The long-haired person’s body moved just so it was silhouetted by the light.

If Leo hadn’t been so obsessed with that ass and those curves he may not have been so sure it was her. The buzzing in his ears began even as he started toward the door, but only grew louder when both figures moved onto the bed. Fuck knocking. As soon as he was close enough, he kicked the door with the bottom of his foot as hard as he could. “Allison, you in there?”

Review: In Pieces by Danielle Pearl

In Pieces
Series: Something More, #2
Author: Danielle Pearl
Publication Date: October 10, 2017
Publisher: Forever
Genre: Romance, Contemporary, New Adult
Note: I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Synopsis:

Three years ago she was left in pieces . . . Most college freshmen love the newfound freedom of living on campus, but none of them craves it like Beth Caplan. One ill-fated night when she was fifteen left her locked in a posh prison of private tutors. It’s for the best, everyone said, and maybe it was. But after years of hard work and healing, the one person who never thought of her as broken could be the one to break her all over again. And Beth can’t seem to stay away now any more than she could all those years ago. As soon as David March learned his best friend’s little sister was enrolling at his school, he promised to look after her, and promised himself he’d keep a safe distance. But the sweet little girl he’d grown up with has transformed into a gorgeous young woman, and she’s attracting attention from people she shouldn’t-like the ex who nearly destroyed her and a strange new student with a disturbing habit of showing up wherever Beth goes. But for David, the most troubling discovery is realizing that he doesn’t just want Beth to be safe. He wants her to be his.


In Pieces is the first book I’ve read by Danielle Pearl. I really enjoyed her writing style. She told the story in first person dual points of view. That’s my favorite type of narration because it allows me to connect deeply with the characters. She also threw in some chapters set in the past that helped show how the characters had matured over the years.

My favorite thing about In Pieces was Beth and David’s relationship. David was Beth’s older brother’s best friend. He was supposed to be her protector at college due to her weaknesses, but Beth was constantly pushing his boundaries. She didn’t want to be seen as a little girl any longer. They both were harboring secret feelings for each other. I loved the way their relationship progressed from friendship to lovers.

The only problem I had with this book was that there was almost too much going on in it. Both characters had secrets in their pasts. That probably would have been enough to keep the story going on its own, but there was also a ton of other drama. There was the new stranger, David’s frat friends, and a surprise twist toward the end. It was entertaining for sure, but just too much at times. I just wanted to focus on the love birds.

Overall, In Pieces was a fun, quick read. It had everything I would expect from a new adult romance and more. I liked Danielle Pearl’s writing style so much that I would definitely pick up another of her novels. I would like to read the first book in this series.

Release Blitz Review: The Iron Tiara by Beth Flynn

 

BLURB

Anthony Bear and Christy Chapman are from two completely different worlds.Anthony’s the leader of a motorcycle gang that terrorizes Florida’s West Coast. As a child, he ran away from his family and the Cherokee Indian Reservation to enter a life of crime. As an adult, he leads a multifaceted life managing his two businesses—his legitimate landscaping venture, and his loan shark and underworld dealings. Driven by anger and betrayal, Anthony begins the hunt for Christy’s father, Van Chapman, after he runs out on a loan.

Christy’s privileged life is not as it seems. She has kept painful family secrets and hidden some of her own. She’s determined to find out the truth and expose Van, but her search delivers her right into Anthony Bear’s hands, adding kidnapping to his list of crimes.

Their worlds are as contrasting as the color of their skin. The only thing they seem to have in common is their mutual disdain for Van Chapman…and each other.

They couldn’t be more wrong.

The Iron Tiara is a spin-off novel from The Minutes Trilogy. It can be read as a standalone, and does not contain a cliffhanger.
 

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MY REVIEW

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Note: I received an ARC from Social Butterfly PR in exchange for an unbiased review.

The Iron Tiara is one of my most highly anticipated book releases of the summer. I’m a HUGE fan of the Nine Minutes trilogy, and I was so happy that Beth Flynn decided to grace her readers with a spin-off. I could read a book about any of the supporting characters from the original series. They had so much life and personality!

Fans of Nine Minutes will want to know how The Iron Tiara compares to it. The Iron Tiara is a more straight forward story than any of the books in the original series. That doesn’t mean that it’s without its own twists and surprises. There are definitely some of those in store. It reminded me of both Nine Minutes and Out of Time. It started out and ended by jumping around in time and perspective like Out of Time did, but the middle was all continuous story like Nine Minutes.

The majority of The Iron Tiara is told from Anthony and Christy’s points of view. There are a few other points of view strategically placed throughout the book that help explain the plot to the reader. The entire book is written in third person narration that can change from chapter to chapter or sometimes back and forth within a chapter. The latter was a little weird at first, but it gave me the feel of knowing what each character was thinking during a conversation or event. I ended up appreciating it.

Anthony and Christy’s story was engrossing. Their lives somewhat paralleled Grizz and Kit’s, and the two couples’ stories intersected at times. I remembered Anthony and Christy from the original series, but this book helped make sense of their roles in Nine Minutes. It also made me fall in love with them. Their story was just as interesting and eye-opening. I never thought I would fall for another character like Grizz, but Beth Flynn had me shamefully falling for Anthony Bear.

Overall, I loved The Iron Tiara. I loved the characters. I loved the twisted story line. I loved being back in the world of Nine Minutes. Like I said before, I would read a book about any of the characters from that series and now this book. I’m invested, so I’m crossing my fingers for more spin-offs and more pieces of the puzzle.

I know this review doesn’t really tell you anything about Anthony and Christy’s relationship, but it’s a book you’re going to have to experience for yourself. I don’t want to ruin the surprises for anyone. 😉

 

ABOUT BETH FLYNN

Beth Flynn is a fiction writer who lives and works in Sapphire, North Carolina, deep within the southern Blue Ridge Mountains. Raised in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Beth and her husband, Jim, have spent the last 19 years in Sapphire, where they own a construction company. They have been married 33 years and have two daughters and a temperamental pit bull named Lady , Beth enjoys writing, reading, gardening, church and motorcycles, especially taking rides on the back of her husband’s Harley. She is a seven-year breast cancer survivor.
 

 

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Review: Trust by Kylie Scott

Being young is all about the experiences: the first time you skip school, the first time you fall in love…the first time someone holds a gun to your head.                                                                                                                                                                         After being held hostage during a robbery at the local convenience store, seventeen year old Edie finds her attitude about life shattered. Unwilling to put up with the snobbery and bullying at her private school, she enrolls at the local public high school, crossing paths with John. The boy who risked his life to save hers.                                                                                                                                 While Edie’s beginning to run wild, however, John’s just starting to settle down. After years of partying and dealing drugs with his older brother, he’s going straight—getting to class on time, and thinking about the future.                                                                                                                             An unlikely bond grows between the two as John keeps Edie out of trouble and helps her broaden her horizons. But when he helps her out with another first—losing her virginity—their friendship gets complicated.

Meanwhile, Edie and John are pulled back into the dangerous world they narrowly escaped. They were lucky to survive the first time, but this time they have more to lose—each other.

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My Review:

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

Hmm…This was one of those books that’s hard to rate. It was a book I couldn’t put down, and yet, there were some things that bothered me about it. I’m going to break this review into things I loved about Trust and things I didn’t.

Things I loved:

  • I’ve read one other contemporary romance from Kylie Scott, but this book was way different from that one. It was way more raw and emotion filled. I don’t think I would have realized the two books had the same author if her name wasn’t on the front of the cover. I liked this darker novel more.
  • The explosive beginning of Trust was a great way to set up the entire book. The descriptions of everything that went on and Edie’s thoughts throughout the whole event were amazing. I loved how the incident changed Edie and set her on a different path.
  • Edie’s transition to public school opened so many new doors for her. I loved the new friends she made, and how it allowed her to reconnect with John. The friendship they developed slowly morphed throughout the story and I liked that path it took.

Things I didn’t love:

  • Edie was a “bigger” girl. She described herself as being flabby around the middle with thunder thighs. I could understand her body consciousness and thoughts relating to her body. I thought they represented true thoughts and feelings of a teenage girl who was larger in size than her peers. I appreciated that, but I also wanted more. If a writer’s going there with an overweight main character, I like to see some self-realization for the character. Maybe her body isn’t “perfect” in societal standards, but she comes to realize her body is just as beautiful as everyone else’s. I wanted something teenage girls who read this could learn something from body wise. I didn’t get that with this book.
  • It was a little weird was John’s character was a drug dealer. He was super popular and wanted by all the girls — for being a hot drug dealer??? That blew my mind. I get the cute part, but are drug dealers really super popular in high school these days? I don’t remember girls lusting after drug dealers in my high school years, but maybe I was oblivious to who was dealing drugs. Drugs and alcohol were prevalent in this book, and weren’t really a big deal.
  • Some moments I wasn’t sure I believed John’s attraction to Edie. It had nothing to do with her weight and everything to do with not having his point of view in this book. On one hand, John did a lot of sweet things for Edie. On the other, his only tell that he might have wanted more than friendship was the couple of times he checked out her boobs. Having his point of view included would have helped clear up John’s feelings a little better.

Overall, Trust was a book I truly enjoyed reading. It was dark, mature YA romance with a great cast of characters. I would love for this book to lead to a series. I was really interested in Anders and Hang’s relationship, and would love to learn more about them.

TRUST by Kylie Scott (Official Book Trailer) from FILM 14 on Vimeo.

Excerpt:

“You were going to give it up to Duncan Dickerson?” he sneered. “Are you serious?”

I halted, staring at him. This was not good. “How do you know about that?”

“Anders overheard you and Hang talking.”

“Bastard.”

“Well?” he demanded, acting all authoritarian. Idiot.

“To be fair, I didn’t know his last name was Dickerson,” I said. “That’s unfortunate. Though, I wasn’t actually planning on marrying him, so . . .”

“Not funny.”

I shrugged.

“You barely know the guy.”

“Um, yeah. None of your concern. We’re not talking about this.” How mortifying! My face burned bright. People should just gather around and cook s’mores. “I appreciate that we’re friends. You mean a lot to me. But this is going to have to fall under definitely none of your damn business, so go away please.”

“We’re talking about it.” He advanced a step.

“No we are not.” And I retreated.

“You were going to let a complete stranger touch you.” Advance.

Retreat. “People do it all the time. You do it all the time.”

“But you don’t,” he said, taking the final step, backing me up against the side of his car and getting all in my face. “Edie, this is your first time we’re talking about. Isn’t it?”

“Yes, and it’s going to be messy and painful and probably horribly embarrassing and I just want it over and done with.” I tried to meet his eyes but failed, settling for a spot on his right shoulder. “You’re not a girl; you wouldn’t understand. Also, last time I checked, you’re not the gatekeeper of my hymen, John Cole. So back the fuck off.”

He said nothing.

Deep, calming breaths. “Look, someday I’ll meet someone I really like and we’ll have a deep and meaningful relationship and go at it like bunnies. But I don’t want to be the dumb virgin in that scenario.”

He slowly shook his head.

“Also, I do not want to die a virgin.”

“What? What the hell are you talking about?”

“Hey, you and I both know death can occur at any time.”

“This is crazy.”

“I’m seeing a therapist!” I told his shoulder. “I don’t know if you noticed, but I’m a little bit messed up these days. It’s hard for me to trust people. That’s not going to change anytime soon.”

He screwed up his face at me. “Wha—”

“I’m just trying to be practical.”

“Well, you’re being ridiculous. None of this makes sense.”

“It does to me.”

Again, he said nothing.

In fact, he said nothing for so long that I finally looked him in the eye. The anger had left him, replaced by an emotion I didn’t recognize. Worst of all, he still smelled like summer. A little sweat and the open night air, everything I loved. Liked. I meant liked.

“What?” I said, finally.

He let loose a breath. “I’ll do it.”

About the Author:

kyliescottimageKylie is a New York Times and USA Today best-selling author. She was voted Australian Romance Writer of the year, 2013 & 2014, by the Australian Romance Writer’s Association and her books have been translated into eleven different languages. She is a long time fan of romance, rock music, and B-grade horror films. Based in Queensland, Australia with her two children and husband, she reads, writes and never dithers around on the internet. You can learn more about Kylie from http://www.kylie-scott.com/.

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Review: After We Collided by Anna Todd

After We Collided
Series: After, #2
Author: Anna Todd
Narrator:  Elizabeth Louise, Shane East
Publication Date: November 25, 2014
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

Tessa has everything to lose. Hardin has nothing to lose;except her. Life will never be the same…

After a tumultuous beginning to their relationship, Tessa and Hardin were on the path to making things work. Tessa knew Hardin could be cruel, but when a bombshell revelation is dropped about the origins of their relationship – and Hardin’s mysterious past – Tessa is beside herself.

Hardin will always be Hardin. But is he really the deep, thoughtful guy Tessa fell madly in love with despite his angry exterior; or has he been a stranger all along? She wishes she could walk away. It’s just not that easy. Not with the memory of passionate nights spent in his arms. His electric touch. His hungry kisses…

Still, Tessa’s not sure she can endure one more broken promise. She put so much on hold for Hardin – school, friends, her mom, a relationship with a guy who really loved her, and now possibly even a promising new career. She needs to move forward with her life.

Hardin knows he made a mistake, possibly the biggest one of his life. He’s not going down without a fight. But can he change? Will he change… for love?


I am honestly shocked I continued reading this series after how I felt about the first book in the series, After. I only continued because the cliffhanger ending caught my interest. I had to know what was next.

The beginning of After We Collided surprised me. I actually enjoyed it. I think maybe it was due to the fact that both Hardin and Tessa were miserable being apart from each other. I liked how they went about their separate ways. And then they reconnected…

Ugh. How many different times and ways can Tessa and Hardin break up only to make up over and over again? This is still a horribly abusive, messed up relationship. I should want them to be together since that’s where this series is heading, but I don’t. I want Tessa to move on. F’ing Trevor is looking like a decent choice, but Zed has to go.

Tessa may be a smart girl, but she makes the dumbest decisions. Her relationship with Hardin causes more pain than a relationship should, and she keeps coming back for more. Then, there’s her almost relationship/friendship with Zed. Why would she confide in Zed about Hardin when Zed’s interested in her? He’s not going to give her good advice. She needs a real friend to knock some sense into her.

Hardin is deeply troubled. He needs psychological help. I want him to get some therapy. After that, maybe he can meet someone other than Tessa and start a healthy relationship. I did appreciate getting his point of view in this book, though. It almost — and I mean almost — made me like him. He spent too much time being a jerk and making horrible decisions for me to like him.

Like I said before, Zed needs to go. The Hardin-Tessa-Zed love triangle made me sick. I really hated it. It adds even more unnecessary drama. Plus, Zed’s just as bad as Hardin. He was in on the bet thing. He creates drama on purpose. How does Tessa not get it?

I don’t know if I can continue this series any further. Tessa and Hardin’s relationship is so volatile and unhealthy. Listening to the story can be addicting, but it’s also stressful. But who am I kidding? I’ll keep reading because I just have to know what more Anna Todd could come up with next for these characters who don’t seem to learn from their actions.

Review: Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

Lilac Girls
Author: Martha Hall Kelly
Publication Date: April 5, 2016
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Genre: Historical Fiction

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Synopsis:

Inspired by the life of a real World War II heroine, this debut novel reveals a story of love, redemption, and secrets that were hidden for decades.
 
New York socialite Caroline Ferriday has her hands full with her post at the French consulate and a new love on the horizon. But Caroline’s world is forever changed when Hitler’s army invades Poland in September 1939—and then sets its sights on France.

An ocean away from Caroline, Kasia Kuzmerick, a Polish teenager, senses her carefree youth disappearing as she is drawn deeper into her role as courier for the underground resistance movement. In a tense atmosphere of watchful eyes and suspecting neighbors, one false move can have dire consequences.

For the ambitious young German doctor, Herta Oberheuser, an ad for a government medical position seems her ticket out of a desolate life. Once hired, though, she finds herself trapped in a male-dominated realm of Nazi secrets and power.

The lives of these three women are set on a collision course when the unthinkable happens and Kasia is sent to Ravensbrück, the notorious Nazi concentration camp for women. Their stories cross continents—from New York to Paris, Germany, and Poland—as Caroline and Kasia strive to bring justice to those whom history has forgotten.


Lilac Girls is one of those books I’ve been seeing around since its release but didn’t really know much about. It wasn’t until a friend picked it for our next book club read that I became aware it was based on a true story from World War II.

The history recapped in Lilac Girls was new to me. Or at least it felt that way. I’ve read several other books set in the same time period, but this was the first I’ve read that included the “rabbits”. I knew the Nazis experimented at concentration camps, but I’ve never experienced it quite the way I did in this book. Nor have I read a book that included the perspective of someone involved in the operation of a concentration camp. Those things made Lilac Girls stand out to me in the World War II historical fiction genre.

Novels revolving around World War II are always tough reads. They evoke so many negative emotions from me. Anger. Sadness. Frustration. Relief. I felt all of those things while reading Lilac Girls. It’s tough realities stuck with me evening when I wasn’t reading it. I woke at four in the morning thinking about this book. It’s hard to imagine such a horrible time. If it wasn’t based on a horrible truth, it would be hard to believe.

I can’t say I loved reading Lilac Girls because it made me incredibly sad, and it took me a bit to get into. I can say that it was well written and informative. It made me want to know more about the real story behind several characters in this book. I will be headed to Google to search them once I finish this review. Historical fiction readers or anyone who has an interest in World War II would enjoy this book.