Review: So Much More by Kim Holden

So Much MoreTitle: So Much More

Author: Kim Holden

Publication Date: March 29, 2016

Publisher: Do Epic LLC

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Goodreads Synopsis:

Love is strange. It comes out of nowhere. There’s no logic to it. It’s not methodical. It’s not scientific. It’s pure emotion and passion. And emotion and passion can be dangerous because they fuel love…and hate.

I’m now a reluctant connoisseur of both—an expert through immersion. I know them intimately.

When I fell in love with Miranda, it was swift and blind. She was the person I’d elevated to mythical status in my head, in my dreams.

Here’s the thing about dreams, they’re smoke.

They’re spun as thoughts until they become something we think we want. Something we think we need.

That was Miranda. She was smoke.

I thought I wanted her. I thought I needed her.

Over time reality crept in and slowly dissected and disemboweled my dreams like a predator, leaving behind a rotting carcass.

Reality can be a fierce bitch.

So can Miranda.

And I can be a fool…

who believes in dreams.

And people.

And love.

Note from the author: Due to strong language and sexual content, this book is recommended for mature audiences only.


★ ★ ★ ★ ★


I feel like I’ve been hit by a semi truck. I don’t think a book has ever taken me through such an array of emotions before. Happy, sad, angry, frustrated, devastated, elated, surprised. Name an emotion, I felt it. I was amazed at the amount of topics Kim Holden was able to cover in this story. It wasn’t the most comfortable story to read the majority of the time, but it was beautiful written.

Most stories begin at the beginning of a relationship. So Much More begins at the end of one. Miranda and Seamus are in the midst of a turbulent divorce. Miranda will do anything to come out on top and be the winner — even if it means destroying the only person who has ever truly loved her. Seamus is taking the divorce hard. He’s putting on a brave face for their children, but it’s taking it’s an emotional and physical toll on him. As they each strive to get what they want from their uncoupling, Miranda and Seamus are forced to confront their pasts together and their futures apart.

So Much More was told in three view points: Miranda, Seamus and Faith. They were well-developed and complex characters. Each had something different and important to bring to the story.

First, let’s talk about Miranda. I absolutely, positively HATED Miranda. I can honestly say I’ve never hated a character so much. She was such a bitch. Every time I read a chapter in her point of view, I would cringe and pray for karma to kick her ass. Reading her chapters made me ill. Did I mention I hate her? I can’t say it enough. Grrr…

Next, there’s Seamus. I loved Seamus. Even at his worst, he couldn’t have been a better person. The love he had for his children was heartwarming. His struggles were real and broke my heart. Seamus’ chapters were hard to read at times because I’ve known several people who have gone through what he was going through on the emotional and physical end of things. I had such admiration for the way he lived his life. He was truly inspirational.

Finally, a ways into the story, there’s Faith. She’s kind of a free spirit who has made the best out of what life has thrown her way. Faith’s positive outlook and loving nature were incredibly beautiful. I loved the perspective she brought to the Seamus and Miranda’s story. She was the light Seamus needed in the storm of his divorce.

The three main characters weren’t the only important ones in this story, though. All of the supporting characters had a major part. They helped shape Miranda, Seamus and Faith’s lives in many different ways. Most of them I loved, a few I loathed. My favorites were definitely Seamus’ kids. Each of their personalities was so special and I felt like I had met them somewhere before.

So Much More was a hard book to rate. It wasn’t the emotionally uplifting story that Bright Side (one of my favorite books EVER) was. I went back and forth several times on how many stars to give it. So much of it filled me with anger and hate. I didn’t like feeling uncomfortable in that way. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized I didn’t dislike the book. I disliked a character and her actions. The story was actually rather brilliant. Kim Holden approached the topic of a nasty divorce head on and laid it out for everyone to see. It may have been emotionally brutal to read, but in a time in my life where more of my friends are getting divorced than married, it felt real and honest. So Much More is a book that will stick with me for a long time because of all the things it made me feel and, to me, that’s a mark of a 5 star book.

 

Review: Save Me, Kurt Cobain by Jenny Manzer

22055480Title: Save Me, Kurt Cobain

Author: Jenny Manzer

Publication Date: March 8, 2016

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Goodreads Synopsis:

What if you discovered that Kurt Cobain is not only alive, but might be your real father?

Nico Cavan has been adrift since her mother vanished when she was four—maternal abandonment isn’t exactly something you can just get over. Staying invisible at school is how she copes—that and listening to alt music and summoning spirits on the Ouija board with her best friend and co-conspirator in sarcasm, Obe. But when a chance discovery opens a window onto her mom’s wild past, it sparks an idea in her brain that takes hold and won’t let go.

On a ferry departing Seattle, Nico encounters a slight blond guy with piercing blue eyes wearing a hooded jacket. Something in her heart tells her that this feeling she has might actually be the truth, so she follows him to a remote cabin in the Pacific Northwest. When she is stranded there by a winter storm, fear and darkness collide, and the only one who can save Nico might just be herself.


★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆


As a Washingtonian who was a teenager in the Kurt Cobain era, I couldn’t wait to read Save Me, Kurt Cobain. While I was never obsessed with them, Nirvana (and several other grunge bands of the time) was the soundtrack to a special time in my life. I was looking forward to see how the author was going to craft a story around Cobain.

I’m shocked that Save Me, Kurt Cobain is Jenny Manzer’s debut novel. It definitely didn’t feel like it when reading. Her story flowed smoothly and her characters were expertly crafted. Each chapter was titled with a perfectly corresponding Nirvana song title. I really enjoyed all of her nods to the rock history, local landmarks of Seattle and the long lost Sonics. Oh, and I especially loved her perfect description of Aberdeen.

My problem with Save Me, Kurt Cobain was Nico. While everything about the set up of Save Me, Kurt Cobain was outstanding, I became annoyed with Nico fairly early on. Her obsession with Nirvana and Kurt Cobain got old fast. I empathized with the mysterious loss of her mother and loved that she felt close to her through Nirvana’s music, but the unsafe things she did based on that drove me nuts.  I agree with her father’s idea that music can influence mood. Nirvana’s had a negative affect on Nico for sure. I wanted to give her a good shake and send her to therapy. Her actions made the majority of the book hard to read. I did enjoy the way the story wrapped up and brought everything full circle, though.

So. Would I suggest reading Save Me, Kurt Cobain? Maybe. It might just depend on how much you love(d) Nirvana or if you’re interested in finding out more about them.

And now for a random fact…

My favorite version of Nico’s favorite Nirvana song Sliver is actually performed by another famous musician: Caspar Babypants. You haven’t heard of him? Well, maybe you’ve heard of Presidents of the United States? Caspar Babypants is PUSA singer, Chris Ballew. He makes awesome kids’ music now. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

Review: More Happy Than Not

19542841Title: More Happy Than Not

Author: Adam Silvera

Publication Date: June 2, 2015

Publisher: SoHo Teen

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance, LGBQT

Goodreads Synopsis:

In the months after his father’s suicide, it’s been tough for 16-year-old Aaron Soto to find happiness again–but he’s still gunning for it. With the support of his girlfriend Genevieve and his overworked mom, he’s slowly remembering what that might feel like. But grief and the smile-shaped scar on his wrist prevent him from forgetting completely.

When Genevieve leaves for a couple of weeks, Aaron spends all his time hanging out with this new guy, Thomas. Aaron’s crew notices, and they’re not exactly thrilled. But Aaron can’t deny the happiness Thomas brings or how Thomas makes him feel safe from himself, despite the tensions their friendship is stirring with his girlfriend and friends. Since Aaron can’t stay away from Thomas or turn off his newfound feelings for him, he considers turning to the Leteo Institute’s revolutionary memory-alteration procedure to straighten himself out, even if it means forgetting who he truly is.

Why does happiness have to be so hard?


4.5 / 5 Stars


Adam Silver is a brilliant storyteller. I loved the way the story was set up and flowed in More Happy Than Not. It was creative and not what I was expecting at all. There were twists and turns I never saw coming. It was amazing how seamlessly many different issues were woven into the story.

Not only was the way the story unfolded different and interesting, but so were the characters. The main character, Aaron, could have been very annoying and frustrating to readers because of the way he complained about the hardships and unhappiness in his life. Instead, Aaron was easy to relate to. I could empathize with him and liked him. I wanted him to achieve his ultimate happy ending. I rooted for him the entire time.

The other characters were whipped cream on top of the Aaron sundae. Thomas had a maturity about him, even if he was lost in life. You couldn’t ask for a better girlfriend than Genevieve. She stood by Aaron through it all, no matter what happened. I have to admit my favorite character was Me-Crazy, even if he was a horrible person. The fact that he gave himself that nickname was perfect. He had me laughing most of the time.

 

The only thing missing for me in More Happy Than Not was more information about what came next for Aaron. I kind of felt like I was left hanging a bit. I needed an epilogue or something. I’m dying for more!

More Happy Than Not is a book I’ll be thinking about for a long time to come. It’s definitely a book I would recommend.

 

Review: Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma

7600924Title: Forbidden

Author: Tabitha Suzuma

Publication Date: May 27, 2010

Publisher: Definitions

Genre:New Adult, Contemporary Romance

Goodreads Synopsis:

She is pretty and talented – sweet sixteen and never been kissed. He is seventeen; gorgeous and on the brink of a bright future. And now they have fallen in love. But… they are brother and sister.

Seventeen-year-old Lochan and sixteen-year-old Maya have always felt more like friends than siblings. Together they have stepped in for their alcoholic, wayward mother to take care of their three younger siblings. As defacto parents to the little ones, Lochan and Maya have had to grow up fast. And the stress of their lives—and the way they understand each other so completely—has also also brought them closer than two siblings would ordinarily be. So close, in fact, that they have fallen in love. Their clandestine romance quickly blooms into deep, desperate love. They know their relationship is wrong and cannot possibly continue. And yet, they cannot stop what feels so incredibly right. As the novel careens toward an explosive and shocking finale, only one thing is certain: a love this devastating has no happy ending.


Forbidden is probably the hardest book I have ever reviewed. I wish I could say I loved this book, but I can’t. The subject matter was just too disturbing and taboo to be enjoyable to read. What I can say is that it was beautifully written. Only an exceptionally talented writer could deliver a story so brutally wrong and still have you empathizing with its characters.

I felt sympathy for every character in this book. My heart went out to them. Despite their flaws, I loved them. There were so many wrongs committed to each of them on so many levels. I wanted happy endings for them all. Mostly, I wanted to be able to forgive Maya and Lochan their actions, but I couldn’t. It was frustrating and devastating because there could never be a happy ending for them. There could never be an ending that would be completely satisfying to me. What I was left with at the end of Forbidden was a deep sadness. It’s a book that will stick with me for a very long time to come.

You probably noticed there are no stars on this review. I honestly couldn’t come up with a rating. How do you rate a story which makes you super uncomfortable, but love the characters? I haven’t been able to figure it out. Would I suggest reading it? That depends entirely on the reader.

 

 

 

Review: Rage by Elizabeth Reyes

25795634Rage (Fate #5) by Elizabeth Reyes

Publication Date: November 20, 2015

Synopsis:

Baseball player A.J. “Rage” Moreno  is known for his temper on and off the baseball diamond. When he was a teenager, he let himself become unhinged easily. As an adult he’s managed to tame his rage and channel it into his position as catcher with the San Diego Padres.

Addison Lara has one rule when it comes to dating: No baseball players. She learned that lesson the hard way. But thanks to her biggest mistake, she has a beautiful little girl. A little girl she’ll do anything to protect — including keeping the father’s identity a secret from everyone for as long as she lives.

When his catching coach introduces A.J. to his daughter Addison and granddaughter Claire, A.J. can’t help but fall in love with both of them fast. There’s something special about the mother and daughter duo.

As A.J. begins to get closer to them both, he begins lose his ability to channel his rage. He can’t help but feel possessive of the Lara girls. It doesn’t help that Addison’s relationship with Clair’s father is a secret she can’t or won’t share with him. A.J. has zero tolerance for secrets or lying and the situation will put his temper to the test.


My rating: 5 out of 5 stars


One of my favorite things about all of Elizabeth Reyes’ books is the way she creates strong male and female characters. The men are always alpha males with jealousy issues and the women are independent and stand up for themselves. The combination of those two types of characters leads to dynamic love stories because when they get together the chemistry is off the charts! Rage is the perfect example of that with A.J. and Addison.

A.J. was your typical hotheaded sports star — except he wasn’t a jerk. He had a huge heart and cared a lot about the people he loved. He won’t let anyone talk poorly about the people he loves. He sees red any time anyone mistreats them. He also has a jealous side that comes out when he thinks of Addison with anyone but him.

The way A.J. was with Addison’s daughter Clair was my favorite thing about him. He didn’t just placate her, he was actually interested in what the little girl had to say. I loved the way he was with Addison, too. He was willing to support her through (almost) anything.

Addison was a little harder to love all of the time but that’s what made the story so entertaining. The way she snuck around behind A.J.’s back to deal with Clair’s father was totally wrong but I could understand why she did it. I just couldn’t believe how long she did it knowing how irate it would make A.J.

Clair was my favorite character in the book. The little smartypants was just too dang cute! I couldn’t help but smile every time she talked to A.J. I loved that she was such a huge part of A.J. falling for Addison.

Rage was so much fun to read. The story was entertaining and fast-paced. I couldn’t help but fall in love with the characters. I would highly suggest Rage or any other of Elizabeth Reyes’ books to contemporary romance readers.

Other books in this series:

Fate (Fate, #1) Breaking Brandon (Fate, #2) Suspicious Minds (Fate, #3) 

 

Review: Trouble by Elle Casey

Trouble (Rebel Wheels #3)  by Elle Casey

Publication Date: January 23, 2014

Synopsis:

Alissa Benson knows she’s a burden to her new roommates. She has no money, no job, no family, no boyfriend, no place to go…and she’s pregnant. Alissa knows she should be more thankful, but her nosy roommates won’t leave her alone. They’re pushy, swear like sailors and they have enough trouble of their own to deal with. All she wants is to escape in her books and not think about the future that is quickly coming.

If all that wasn’t enough, she has to deal with her roommate’s brother. One minute, Colin seems to despise her so much he can’t even look at her. The next, he won’t leave her alone. Colin’s super sexy and surprising sweet. Alissa knows she should just ignore him. He’s trouble and she has more important things to deal with.


My rating: 5 out of 5 stars


Trouble was a really great ending to a fun series. I liked Alissa as the narrator for this one. Her perspective was so different from Teagan and Quin’s in the first two books. She was no where near as snarky and she didn’t use (much) foul language. I loved watching Alissa’s secrets unravel and learning more about her baby daddy situation.

My favorite thing about Trouble, though; was Colin. He was presented as such a trouble maker in the previous books. It was nice to find out even more why he was one and to see another side of him. I loved the way he wanted to take care of Alissa. I also adored his fascination with her pregnancy. It was really cute.

As for the rest of the Rebel Wheels cast and their storylines, I thought they were wrapped up nicely in Trouble. I loved the way everything worked out in the end. It was a lot of fun to read.

My only complaint about Trouble is that I would have loved to have read about what was going on in Colin’s head from his point of view. I wanted to know more about him. But all of the books in the series were written from the female point of view, so I understand why I didn’t get that.

If you’re looking for a fun, steamy New Adult romance with a bit of mystery, you should try the Rebel Wheels series. It’s a lot of fun to read. You can find my review for Rebel here and Hellion here.

Other books in this series:

Rebel  

Review: Sustained by Emma Chase

Sustained (The Legal Briefs #2) by Emma Chase

Publication Date: August 25, 2015

Publisher: Gallery

Synopsis:

Jake Becker is a hot-shot Washington D.C. defense lawyer on his way to making partner. His cold demeanor helps him win cases. It also helps deter women that think he could be more than a one-night stand.

Jake’s not interested in having a wife or family. Having a girlfriend isn’t even on his radar. He’s content with a revolving door of women and his busy work life. Or so he thinks until Chelsea McQuaid and her seven nieces and nephews bump into his life.

All of a sudden, Jake finds himself involved in the McQuaid’s family life. If he’s not saving one kid from trouble, he’s taking one to a class. And it’s all worth it to see Chelsea McQuaid smile.


My rating: 5 out of 5 stars


Sustained was so much fun to read. I absolutely adored it. I loved that the story was told from Jake’s POV. His thoughts were hilarious! I loved how cocky and sure of himself he was. I also loved the sweet side of him that wanted to help Chelsea and the rest of the McQuaid family. I would have fallen in love with him too, if I was Chelsea.

I also loved each and every one of the McQuaid kids. Emma Chase created an amazing and fun bunch of kids. I don’t think I could pick a favorite if I tried. Their interactions with Jake were so much fun to read.

This book was just so sweet! I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a contemporary romance that will leave them in a happy mood.

Review: The Air He Breathes by Brittainy C. Cherry

The Air He Breathes (Elements #1) by Brittany C. Cherry

Publication Date: September 25, 2015

Publisher: BCherry Books

Synopsis:

Elizabeth knows she should stay away from Tristan Cole. Everyone has told her he’s bad news. But there’s something inside Tristan that Elizabeth can relate with. Elizabeth sees Tristan and knows he’s not what they make him out to be. She knows he is just damaged like she is.

As Elizabeth gets to know Tristan, she finds an understanding and shared loss they can both relate to. It brings them closer together and soon they find themselves using each other in ways they never planned.

But they can’t go on forever living in the past and the future hold surprised neither of them could ever imagine.


My rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars


The Air He Breathes began as New Adult romances normally do: Messed up guy meets messed up girl. They are the only ones who really see each other. Then, Elizabeth and Tristan’s relationship went in a weird direction I didn’t like. They started using each other in a way that disturbed  me. The story lost me for a bit. Thankfully, Tristan and Elizabeth’s relationship got back on the right track and it went back to being what I have to come to expect from NA romances. But then, BAM! Surprise twist — in more ways than one.

Holy smokes. The Air He Breathes was not what I was expecting at all. Well, that’s not entirely true. I could foresee what was going to cause the biggest problem in Tristan and Elizabeth’s relationship from the beginning of the book. Other parts of it were a complete surprise, though. I didn’t expect the twist toward the end. That blew my mind.

For the most part, I really enjoyed Brittany C. Cherry’s writing and characters. I loved the bits and pieces I got to read of Tristan’s past life. Even though they had been through a similar situation, Tristan was more interesting of a character than Elizabeth was to me. I would credit that to some of the secrecy behind Tristan.

My favorite character in the whole book, though; had to be Elizabeth’s best friend Faye. She was outspoken and hilarious. Some of the things she said — oh, my! She was such fun to read.

Honestly, I wasn’t quite sure how to rate The Air He Breathes. There was so much going on in this story. It almost felt like two or three different books in one. Some of it I loved, other parts I hated. Overall, it was really good. So when it came down to rating it, I kept having to ask myself if I just liked it or did I really like it? It falls somewhere in between, so I went with 3.5 stars.

So, would I suggest reading it? Yes! If you like NA romances, give this one a try. While my rating is on the average side, I did really enjoy The Air He Breathes.