Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Review: The Hard Way by Katie Ashley

*****4.5 Stars*****

It's been a while since I read a New Adult book and this one definitely didn't disappoint at all.
In the past It's been no secret that I'm generally not a fan of chapters that revert to past events, I usually feel they affect the flow of a book for me however in this case, I have to say it was those parts I enjoyed the most and they were absolutely essential to the story anyway. It was these parts that were full of the most angst which really made me sympathise with Avery.
Cade was your typical College Jock. Lives a privileged life on the outside; Does whatever he wants and damns the consequences. That is until he meets Avery. I admit, I wasn't Cade's biggest fan for quite some time. I felt he needed knocking down a peg or two, despite Avery not putting up with his over inflated ego. However he eventually won me over. I especially loved the fact that he didn't seem to have a filter where his mouth was concerned, as he seemed to say things before engaging his brain a lot of the time, which made him such a fascinating character to me, with so many more dimensions than the All-American boy who was born with a silver spoon in his mouth.
I absolutely adored this book and if I had to say one thing that let it down in any way, it would be that towards the end I did feel there was something missing , but overall I really did enjoy it and I really really hope that this is the first book of a series and there will be more to follow.

Reviewed by Louise Dale

Cade Hall has always been the golden boy of the gridiron. Because of his talent at football, coupled with his father’s wealth, he’s always gotten his way. But when a night of drunken debauchery lands him in hot water with the college athletic board, neither his influential father nor his charming grin can save him. He finds it a total buzz kill when he is sentenced to community service with troubled youth at an inner-city shelter. But his nightmare is only beginning when his greatest high school regret is the very one in charge of the program, and she has him by the balls in more ways than one.

For Avery Prescott, senior year was a nightmare of epic proportions, and Cade Hall played the lead villain. After she fled her small town for college in the bright lights of Atlanta, she thought she had escaped the painful memories of her past. She never could have imagined Cade would waltz through the door of the outreach program she presided over. But Avery has news for Cade--she isn’t the same shy, doormat of a girl she was in high school. Since she holds Cade's football future in her hands, she’s more than ready to make payback a real bitch.

Will the two stay in the defensive zone or discover that sometimes life's greatest lessons are learned the hard way?

Review: Dropping In (The Vert Series #3) by Kristen Kehoe

*****5 Stars*****

I've been dying to get my hands on this book, the third in the Vert series. I loved both books #1 and #2 but I just knew that I was going to love Mal's story even more.
It's not essential but I highly recommend that you read this series in order. There's mention of all the characters in each others' books and the first two books are great and well worth reading in their own right but it's the build up, the tension that carried through so perfectly into this book.
Mal is shaped by his past. He's fiercely loyal, protective and although he's successful in his career, he know that he lost his heart a long time ago. Is there anything he can do to right his mistakes or will he makes things even worse? The journey that Mal and Nala take is spellbinding. It's emotional, tragic and uplifting. The lack of self-worth and the scars that run deep tear at your heart.
This book is beautifully written and this series just seems to get better and better. It's hard but I've got to admit that this was my favourite book.
I can't recommend this series highly enough - you won't regret it!

Reviewed by Vivienne Kauffer

Malcolm Brady thought breaking his leg was the worst thing that could happen…until he saw who was waiting for him at the airport.

Almost six years ago, Malcolm walked away from the love of his life, because she was too young, and he was too scared. But no matter how much distance he put between them, Malcolm could never convince his heart that he had done the right thing. When an accident sidelines him from his professional skate career, it’s Nala waiting for him at the airport. It only takes one look for all of the feelings he’s kept locked away to break free, and suddenly, Malcolm has a new mission: to show Nala Jansen exactly how much he loves her.

Nala fell in love with Malcolm Brady before her young heart really understood what love was. Even when he left her to become a professional skater, she never stopped loving him, never stopped wanting him. And she told him one night—just like that. I love you. Instead of saying the words back, he walked away, and Nala started on a course that would forever change her life.
Now, almost six years after her bold confession and his rejection, they are thrust together, making memories from the past unavoidable, especially when new feelings bloom. Except, Nala won’t share everything from their time apart, and Malcolm won’t accept anything less.

When emotions are high, and truths come to light, the lovers have to decide if their future is strong enough to withstand their past.

Review: Binary Code by D.H. Sidebottom & Rebecca Sherwin

*****5 Stars*****

I've got to start my review by saying that I absolutely love DH Sidebottom's work. She's one of my favourite authors. However, I haven't read any of Rebecca Sherwin's previous work so when I heard about this collaboration, I was both intrigued and apprehensive - after all, some collaborations work better than others.
My trepidation was wholly unwarranted - this book is brilliant! The first page grabbed me instantly and I just had to devour this story.
I'm not going to tell you too much about the tale itself, as there's just so much that happens and it would be so easy to ruin.
What I will tell you, is that it's beautifully written. It's dark, twisted, soul shattering and utterly compelling.
The characters are more than just superficial, there's a depth to them that rarely crops up. You'll feel their pain and sorrow and share their joy.
I cannot recommend this book highly enough and I'm ecstatic to see that these two authors are working together on another book.

Reviewed by Vivienne Kauffer

Binary: Relating to, composed of, or involving two things.
Code: A system of words, letters, figures or symbols used to represent others, especially for the purposes of secrecy.

Everything comes in twos. His and hers. Mine and yours. Love and hate. Life and death. The world is made up of pairs.
So what happens when the line is blurred, when the rules we use to define our lives become…skewed?
What happens when the rules are broken? His and hers becomes his, hers and…theirs. Mine and yours becomes mine, yours and ours. Love and hate become love, hate and conflict. Life and death become a battle, an infinite number of risks swinging on a pendulum.

Carter cracked my code. He dug deep into the genetics of who I was and he rewrote every moment of my life. He forced his way in, reshaping every thought in my head, manipulating every instinct that kept me alive.
Yet, in doing so he altered the structure of his own code and broke every single rule he lived by. He was the encryption I couldn’t decipher, and I was the mystery that finally forced him to reveal exactly who he was.

This book contains adult themes, including M/F/M

Review: Stripped Down (Stripped #2) by Emma Hart

****4.5 Star****

This is book two in the series, but can be read as a stand alone.

Beckett Cruz along with his best friend West Rykman are the owners of The Landing Strip and Rock Solid, two strip clubs in Vegas. West takes care of Rock Solid the male strip club and Beckett takes care of The Landing Strip, the female club. Beck is a player and has no plans to settle down, it's one of the reasons he loves running the club so much.

Cassie is a stripper at Beckett's club, she's a young mum that's doing what is necessary to take care of her daughter. Her parents have helped her where they can, now her dad is sick and she feels like she needs to give a little back and help her parents in their time of need.

I really enjoyed Beckett and Cassie's story. It is a complicated one, full of ups and downs and of course a little bit of heartbreak, but when it starts with a alcohol and a marriage then what were we as readers to expect. 

Emma Hart's writing pulls you into the story and doesn't let you up air until the end. I love how she develops the characters and the story, it's done in such a way that you don't want to put the book down. Even though Beck and Cassie's story took place over the space of two weeks the writing made it seem like a lot longer. 

As always Emma Hart has written something brilliant.

What do you get when you mix a bottle of tequila, a single mom moonlighting as a stripper, and her sinfully sexy boss with an impulsive side?
Married. You get married.

Rich. Demanding. Hot. Crazy.
That was Beckett Cruz in a nutshell.
Not to mention wild, determined, dangerous, and forbidden.
He was my boss—and, after a drunken moment of insanity, my new husband.
An annulment was impossible... so was keeping him.
I was taking my daughter and leaving, determined to give her a quieter life.
But Beckett Cruz had never taken no for an answer.
And he wasn't about to take mine.

What happens in Vegas... might just keep you there.

Monday, 29 August 2016

Review: The Form of Things Unknown by Robin Bridges

****3.5 Stars****

After reading Bridges' Dreaming of Antigone, I jumped at the chance to read more from the author and I really enjoyed this book although not as much as the first. This book deals with quite a lot: mental illness, underage drinking, peer pressure, and maybe even a touch of paranormal.
This book focuses on the life of Natalie Roman as her family moves in to take care of her schizophrenic grandmother. Natalie has just had her own stint in the psych hospital following hallucinations due to her ex boyfriend slipping her some ecstasy. Still trying to come to terms with her health, she just wants a fresh start in this new city. When her brother David convinces her to audition for a part in the Midsummer Night's Dream production, she quickly makes new friends. The only problem is Lucas. He is in the same group of friends she makes but he was also in the psych ward with her. She doesn't want everyone to know her secret. She is afraid of what her new friends would think about her mental breakdown and the fact that she is still on medication for it. What makes this story even more interesting is that while trying to fit into her new circle of friends, she consumes alcohol and does things that could compromise her medication. So when strange things start happening at the supposedly haunted theater, she starts questioning her sanity and wondering what's real and what isn't. Is it a ghost or is she hallucinating again?
This book had some great secondary characters like Natalie's kooky schizophrenic grandmother and Lucas''s kid sister Caitlyn. They both are guaranteed to make you smile and laugh and were an overall great addition to the story. I enjoyed Lucas and Natalie and while there wasn't a whole lot of romance in this book, I loved their connection.
This book paints a very vivid image of what living with a mental illness is like. Natalie's paranoia and anxiety over her 'hallucinations' is very well written by the author and you just want to empathize with her. This book was very much a psychological mystery and will definitely be a hit with the YA crowd. I can't wait to read more from the author.

Reviewed by Ashley Ziegler

Honest, nuanced, and bittersweet, The Form of Things Unknown explores the shadows that haunt even the truest hearts…and the sparks that set them free.

Natalie Roman isn’t much for the spotlight. But performing A Midsummer Night’s Dream in a stately old theatre in Savannah, Georgia, beats sitting alone replaying mistakes made in Athens. Fairy queens and magic on stage, maybe a few scary stories backstage. And no one in the cast knows her backstory.

Except for Lucas—he was in the psych ward, too. He won’t even meet her eye. But Nat doesn’t need him. She’s making friends with girls, girls who like horror movies and Ouija boards, who can hide their liquor in Coke bottles and laugh at the theater’s ghosts. Natalie can keep up. She can adapt. And if she skips her meds once or twice so they don’t interfere with her partying, it won’t be a problem. She just needs to keep her wits about her.

Review: When Stars Collide (Light in the Dark #2) by Micalea Smeltzer

*****5 Stars*****

I've been waiting for Thea & Xander to get their own book since they were introduced as the side characters in the author's Rae of Sunshine a couple years ago. You could tell they had chemistry and that their was more to be told about the two of them. I was super ecstatic to hear that their story was finally going to be told and it definitely went above and beyond all the expectations I had. When Stars Collide is a very well written, 5 star, captivating read that you won't ever want to put down and when it's all over you will still be wanting more. And that cover is absolutely gorgeous and eye catching.
Xander and Thea have been best friends and in each others lives for as long as they can remember. Xander is Thea's brother Cade's best friend and therefore any relationship other than friendship has been forbidden for them. When a drunken night in Vegas and the explosive chemistry between these two end up with them waking up married to their dream person, you'd think this would be a dream come true, right? Wrong! Thea freaks out because she knows their is no way her brother would ever approve even though she has always loved and had a special connection with Xander and she wants this annulled immediately. Xander says she can have her divorce if he can have the rest of the summer to prove to her that they belong together. All's fair in love in war, or is it?
The chemistry between them is combustible from the start. I always knew these two belonged together from the first moment they were introduced to us. They have a strong friendship which is a great basis for an even better marriage but all is not always easy between these two. Xander and Thea really take the whole for better and for worse line to the next level. You just want to hug these two and root for them to finally get the happily ever after they so deserve! I absolutely loved these two!
I was so happy to finally get Xander and Thea's story and to have it exceed my expectations was definitely great! This was a sweet captivating story that you won't want to miss. Micalea Smeltzer is definitely an automatic one click author for me and I can't wait to see what she brings us next!

Reviewed by Ashley Ziegler

We were like two stars orbiting each other—dancing around the possibility that one day we might collide. When we finally did, we opened up a black hole, obliterating everything around us. No one would be the same.
Least of all, us.

Waking up in Vegas married to the guy of your dreams sounds like a good thing, right? Not when you’re Thea Montgomery and said guy is your brother’s best friend.

Thea and Xander have always avoided the connection between them because her brother would never approve. Now, they’re married— the strongest bond you can have as a couple—and they’re not even a real couple…unless they want to be.

Thea wants an annulment immediately, but Xander’s waited too long to see her become his and he won’t let her go easily.

If she wants a divorce, fine, but he wants the summer to convince her that he’s the one. If at the end of the summer she still wants to end their marriage he’ll sign the papers, but until then…

All is
not fair in love and war.

Review: Parker (Striking Back #3) by S.M. Shade

****4 Stars****

Rules are made to be broken, or at least that's what they say - but for Parker, breaking this particular rule will get him in hot water with his brother, Mason.
Macy cannot believe what life has handed her. Forced to flee her home and go into hiding, the silver lining comes in the form of Parker.
Parker is a great character. Much like his brother (Mason, who we met in books #1 and #2) he's loyal and protective but he's a man-whore.
As Parker gets to know Macy, a connection is formed but there are lines that cannot be crossed.
What I've loved most about this series so far, is the camaraderie, the family bond. The way that this little group of people look out for each other. The further you delve into the series, the more invested you become. Of course this means that you share in their sorrows, as much as their joy.
Alex's story is next and I have a feeling I may need some tissues.

Reviewed by Vivienne Kauffer

Hit it and quit it.
One and done.
Hump and dump.

That has been my philosophy on relationships for the last seven years. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a bad guy. I'm always upfront and truthful with the women I date. I don't promise them anything but a good time.
I could've gone on happily sleeping my way through the major metropolitan area if it wasn't for her. The dark haired beauty who haunts my days and keeps me awake at night. Strong and sweet, she makes me reconsider everything I believe about love.

Too bad she's completely off limits.

I've never been good at following the rules.

Contains sexual scenes and violence. Intended for ages 18 and up.

Review: Wide Open Spaces (Shooting Stars #2) by Aurora Rose Reynolds

*****5 Stars*****

This is a second chance romance with a storyline that is close to the authors heart and that really shines through in this book and I thought she captured the emotions brilliantly.
Shelby and Zach were high school sweethearts but things went south when Shelby got pregnant. As a very young couple who are not financially stable they make the heartbreaking decision to put their baby up for adoption. It's a decision they both struggled with and even though they wanted the absolute best for their baby, giving him up tore them both apart and eventually tore their relationship apart too. Shelby ended up moving away and both of them moved on and married other people. Fifteen years later Shelby moves back to the area with her son, newly divorced, and guess who her new next door neighbour is? None other than Zach.
There are a lot of unresolved feelings and intense emotions in this story. It's one sure to pull on your heartstrings with the content, lots of hurdles for these two families to overcome.
I have a real soft spot for second chance romances so this book was right up my street. I love when a couple has to fight for their HEA, I find those endings so much sweeter.
Another fab read from Aurora Rose Reynolds, this is the second book in the Shooting Stars series but stands alone from the first book with only a short appearance from the couple from that book so this can definitely be read as a standalone. I'm looking forward to the next book which is Zach's daughter, Aubrey's story. The synopsis is at the end of this book and sounds brilliant, and possibly a weepy, can't wait to get stuck into that one!

Reviewed by Steph Lewis

That moment your life changes.
That moment that changes your life.
That moment you love someone more than you love yourself.
That was the moment we gave our son up for adoption and the moment I was left bare. A wide-open space that would forever be empty.
There are moments that define you as a person, moments that prove just how strong you are, moments you push yourself to keep going forward when all you really want to do is give up. It was in one of those moments when I reached out and found him waiting for me.

When Shelby Calder left home fifteen years ago, she never planned on returning to the Alaskan town she left behind. But after the death of her grandfather and a bitter divorce, she hopes going home will be a fresh start for her and her ten-year-old son.

Zach Watters has made a lot of mistakes in his life. But when he sees Shelby Calder, looking more beautiful than ever, standing outside her childhood home, he promises himself that letting her go won't be a mistake he ever makes again.

Some things never change and love is one of them.

Review: Called Up (Calling It #2) by Jen Doyle

***3 Stars***

Deke and Fitz are best friends but Deke is also best friends with her brother the famous Nate Hawkins, so when Deke realises he wants more than friend status with Fitz he knows his best friends sister is off limits. Fitz has mutual feelings but has persuaded herself she can never go there as she's scared of falling in love. With the loss of her parents and bad memories from the town bullies in school she believes anything she loves will be taken away and is struggling to come to terms with the way her life has panned out. However things change when Deke kisses her but maybe she can just do sex and best friends rather than anything else? Secrets are spilled to Deke about her past and every bad feeling gets dredged up from the pits of hell, leaving Fitz with choices to make about her life. Will they or won't they sort it out?
I am really sorry to say I struggled slightly with this one even though I enjoyed the first. There was a lot of whiplash going on with the 2 characters which left it feeling rather repeated in places. It covers 2 main topics that some people like in a book, there's the best friends to lovers and then the my best friend's sister element. I would have liked to have seen more of the angst going towards Nate getting angry because Deke was having sex with his sister Fitz rather than the repeatedly backwards and forwards of falling for your best friend. Overall the book flowed well and the character development was good. I would like to see and know more of Wash or even a story about Sam being the gorgeous businessman with a broken heart type story.

Reviewed by Claire Lamb

There's one thing Max "Deke" Deacon can always count on besides his old high school teammates: Angelica "Fitz" Hawkins. But no matter how much Deke might secretly fantasize otherwise, a relationship with his best friend's sister is off limits. Until one unexpectedly smoldering encounter has Deke and Fitz giving in to the feelings they've both been fighting for far too long.

Fitz knows for a fact that it is not better to have loved and lost. After losing her parents, she'd rather lock up her heart and throw away the key than endure that kind of pain again. If that means giving up any hope of a lasting relationship, then so be it.

But with Deke, Fitz feels dangerously close to falling in love. She can't risk another broken heart—especially if it means losing one of her best friends for good. Now it's up to Deke to convince her that the safest place she could ever be is right here with him.

Review: The Debt by Karina Halle

*****5 Stars*****

How is it I've never read anything by Karina Halle before. This book was absolutely brilliant from start to finish.
What first hit me about this book was the Epilogue. I was hooked from that moment. Secondly I was drawn to the fact that most of the book was set in Scotland, which to me helped set the scene for many parts of this book. Being British myself, I was able to visualise things so much more than my usual books, which for the majority of the time are set in the US. Some parts of this story were set deep into Northern Scotland, which I have to satpy, for me, created an eerie atmosphere with beautiful, tranquil moments. The setting I would say definitely complimented Jessica and Keir's relationship.
Jessica, one day has her life completely turned on its head when an ex soldier opens fire on the civilians. This scene alone for me was very poignant, especially with what is going on with the world at the moment. I felt it was sensitively and incredibly well written.
I loved Jessica, I loved the strength that she failed to see herself, but mostly I loved how she had an inner peace around Keir.
As for Keir, well let's just say I was smitten from the start. I mean who doesn't love a sexy, manly, rugged Scotsman who by Jessica's own account has a look of Gerard Butler. Now that's my kind of man. But despite that, we got to know Keir a lot, even before Jessica knew everything about him and that made this one incredibly emotional read for me. Yes, i admit there were tears.
I've mentioned before that this is my first book by Karina Halle and as such I can't be sure, but I had a feeling that some of the minor characters in this story, featured in Karina's previous books, perhaps. So this and the fact this was an absolutely cracking, read makes me want to read so much more of her work.

Reviewed by Louise Dale

Her life changed in an instant.
And he's the only one who could have prevented it.
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Pact and The Lie comes a new standalone contemporary romance about those McGregor men.

Jessica Charles shouldn't have even been in London when the unthinkable happened.
She should have been back at home in Edinburgh, perhaps hanging with her boyfriend, having drinks with her sister or doing yoga with her group of friends. She should have been going on in her normal, dependable life as always.
But on that fateful day in August, when a mentally-ill ex-soldier opened fire in public, Jessica's world changed forever.
Now single and crippled from the gunshot wounds, Jessica finds herself scared and alone, losing faith in herself and humanity with each agonizing moment that passes.
That is until a stranger enters her life. A stranger who makes her live again.
Keir McGregor has always been the strong, silent type. Throw in tall, dark, and handsome and you've got pretty much the perfect Scotsman.
Except Keir is anything but perfect. He's got a past he's running away from and a guilty conscience he can't seem to shed. But the more time he spends with Jessica, the more he falls in love with her.
And the more his secret threatens to tear them apart.
He may have been a stranger to her.
But she’s never been a stranger to him.

Review: Mason (Striking Back #2) by S.M. Shade

*****5 Stars*****

Mason is the second book in the Striking Back series and book two follows on from where we were left hanging.
There is so much that goes on in this book. An abundance of drama, tears, fear and love carry you through this story.
Mason, who you no doubt fell for in book #1, is a great character. He's strong, loyal and protective but he has a few secrets too.
Evie has had a lot to deal with. Shutting herself off from her emotions has kept her "safe" but lonely. Just when she thinks she may be able to open up, she's thrown another curveball.
Will things work out for this couple, or will things continue to come between them?
I loved book #2 more than book #1 but both are great stories. They're quick and easy to read (I finished book #2) in just a few hours and I'm sure you'll love it as much as I did.
The sub-characters are great too and I can't wait to read Parker and Alex's stories next.

Reviewed by Vivienne Kauffer

From the moment I saw her, I wanted her in my bed.

I should've stopped there.

Everly Hall burst into my complicated life and changed it forever. I'm a fighter, but I had no defense against this beautiful, stubborn woman.
Now, I stand to lose everything I have, everything I am. My secrets are dangerous, and put more lives at stake than my own. I intended to tell her in time, but my time is up.

Everything rests on Everly.

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Review: All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood

*****5 Stars*****

I think, if you are a book lover, you'd have had to have been living under a rock the last few months to have not heard talk of Brynn Greenwood's All the Ugly and Wonderful Things. It has been everywhere I look and I'll admit the buzz certainly caught my attention. When I heard words like 'controversial' whispered, I knew I needed to read this book.
This is the story of Wavy, an 8 year old girl who has been dealt a rough and difficult hand by fate. Her life changes the moment Kellen enters it and she in turn changes his. Over the course of 15 years we experience her curiosity, longing for family, pain, heartache, love and amazing ability to live despite the truly ugly and awful things the world can throw at a person. Through it all, she remarkably keeps a hold of her belief in the wonderful things that she can have and the special people that are hers to cherish, protect, cling to and love.
This book is an emotional read. It will tear your heart out at times - it certainly did mine. Interestingly, though, the author does not manipulate our emotions as we read. We are shown Wavy's life and we are taken along on her journey and are given the ability to feel how we will based on the story we see unfold. It is told through multiple points of view and with the amount of characters, it shouldn't work as well as it does. Somehow, the way it is told works perfectly and truly gives us a full picture of Wavy's life and the lives of those around her.
The controversy comes into play because of the love story that develops during this book between Wavy and Kellen. When they first meet he is an adult and she is 8. I know for some people, that fact right there will make them never pick this book up. It is important to note that nothing happens early on and he is very much a friend and protector to her (he is throughout the book though in the latter portion there is a role reversal of sorts). Feelings do begin developing though and despite the fact it may be 'wrong' given the age difference and the fact Wavy is not a legal adult, as you read, I think you will find that you can understand how both Wavy and Kellen find themselves in the position they do and trust me when I say it is heartbreaking. I cried many a chapter and I was rooting for them so hard!
All the Ugly and Wonderful Things is not an easy book to read. It is an emotionally draining, at times uncomfortable story that wrecked me and then began to put me back together again. This is hands down one of the best books I have read this year and I cannot recommend it strongly enough.

Reviewed by Rosemary Feil

As the daughter of a meth dealer, Wavy knows not to trust people, not even her own parents. Struggling to raise her little brother, eight-year-old Wavy is the only responsible "adult" around. She finds peace in the starry Midwestern night sky above the fields behind her house. One night everything changes when she witnesses one of her father's thugs, Kellen, a tattooed ex-con with a heart of gold, wreck his motorcycle. What follows is a powerful and shocking love story between two unlikely people that asks tough questions, reminding us of all the ugly and wonderful things that life has to offer.

Amazon UK: (Hardback edition - not available in ebook format on UK site at this time)