Genre: Coming of Age

Review: Before I Fall by Jessica Scott

Posted March 14, 2016 by Holly in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: Before I Fall by Jessica ScottReviewer: Holly
Before I Fall by Jessica Scott
Series: Falling Series #1
Published by Self-Published
Publication Date: March 1st 2015
Genres: Fiction, Coming of Age, New Adult
Pages: 228
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Stay focused. Get a job. Save her father's life. Beth Lamont knows far too much about the harsh realities of life her gilded classmates have only read about in class. She'll do whatever it takes to take care of her father, even if that means tutoring a guy like Noah - a guy who represents everything she hates about the war, soldiers and what the Army has done to her family.

Noah Warren doesn't know how to be a student. All he knows is war. But he's going to college now to fulfill a promise and he doesn't break his promises. Except he doesn't count on his tutor being drop dead gorgeous and distracting as hell. One look at Beth threatens to unravel the careful lies Noah has constructed around him.

A simple arrangement turns into something neither of them can deny. And a war that neither of them can forget could destroy them both.

Scott is one of the few authors who write military romances that just annihilate me. They aren’t sappy, feel-good fluff pieces. That’s not to say there aren’t sweet, romantic elements, but the tone of her books is generally darker. She doesn’t shy away from looking at the problems facing the men and women who serve in the military today.

In this case, Noah got out of the Army and started college almost right away. He’s been struggling with PTSD. Beth is assigned as his Stats tutor and he’s drawn to her right away. Unfortunately for him, Beth has seen what the war can do to an individual, and she wants nothing to do with a former soldier.

Beth’s father is a Vet who suffers from a severe back injury. Between broken appointments and lack of funds required for surgery, he’s become a painkiller addict. She manages their lives and juggles school as best she can, so she can hopefully graduate and get a job with benefits that will help him get what he needs.

She isn’t even remotely interested in starting something, especially not with a soldier. But she can’t help her attraction. When Noah puts on the full court press, she can’t resist him. Until she finds out what secrets he’s been hiding, she really thinks they have a chance. But those secrets are threatening to destroy him, and they just may take her down, too.

I struggled a bit with Noah’s addiction. Maybe I wasn’t paying enough attention, but it didn’t seem like he was as bad off as it turned out he was. His addiction to sleeping pills and anxiety meds wasn’t a surprise, but when it was revealed that he had trouble with painkillers, too, it took me by surprise.

On the one hand, I liked that Beth walked away from him, but on the other I struggled with how easy it was for her to walk away. As the sole caregiver to an addict, it was easy to understand why she wouldn’t want to stick with Noah and watch him spiral. Yet, it was obvious they cared for each other and Noah had a very serious and real reason to need sleeping pills, anxiety meds and painkillers.

One thing Scott excels at is looking at both sides of an issue. Just when I was getting frustrated with the narrow view of one character, another would arrive with a conflicting point-of-view.

Though I struggled a bit with some of the content, I can’t deny this was an engrossing read. I didn’t finish it with a happy sigh in my heart, but rather feeling introspective.

3.75 out of 5 


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Review: Liam Takes Manhattan by Thea Harrison

Posted January 7, 2016 by Holly in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: Liam Takes Manhattan by Thea HarrisonReviewer: Holly
Liam Takes Manhattan by Thea Harrison
Series: Elder Races #9.5
Also in this series: Lord's Fall, Pia Saves the Day & Peanut Goes to School, Dragos Takes a Holiday, Night's Honor, Night's Honor, Dragon Bound, Midnight's Kiss, Midnight's Kiss, Dragos Goes to Washington, Shadow's End, Pia Does Hollywood, Pia Does Hollywood

Publication Date: December 22, 2015
Genres: Coming of Age, Fantasy, Fantasy & Magic, Fiction, New Adult, Paranormal Romance
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Warning: This story contains a major spoiler from SHADOW’S END (book #9, released December 1st, 2015). If readers do not want to be spoiled, they should read the stories in order of their release dates.

This is a short story (15,000 words or 50 pages) intended for readers of the Elder Races who enjoy Liam Cuelebre as a character.

Reeling from a deep loss, the magical prince of the Wyr, Dragos and Pia’s son Liam Cuelebre, turns inward and withdrawn as he struggles to come to terms with who he is, along with the challenges that lie before him.

Hoping to ease his heartache and offer comfort, a concerned Dragos and Pia offer him a gift, something he has desired for a long time. Liam’s response has a ripple effect across all of New York. Soon miracles of all kinds start arriving just in time for Christmas, along with a visit from a mysterious person who gives Liam hope and a vision of his future.

LIAM TAKES MANHATTAN is the third part of a three-story series about Pia, Dragos, and their son, Liam. Each story stands alone, but fans might want to read all three: DRAGOS GOES TO WASHINGTON, PIA DOES HOLLYWOOD, and LIAM TAKES MANHATTAN.

Liam Takes Manhattan takes place after the events of Harrison’s latest full length release, Shadow’s End, and includes major spoilers for that book. For those who haven’t read it, I suggest waiting to pick up this one (unless, like me, you don’t mind spoilers).

Liam is growing at a ridiculous rate. Though he’s technically only a year old, he has the body and intellect of a twenty-something. What he lacks is real-world experience, something he isn’t getting living at home. He wants to stretch is wings a bit (heh) and isn’t sure how to do that, what with his father being the most powerful Wyr alive and Liam’s inner dragon having a hard time accepting orders from him.

Pia and Dragos are having a hard time, too. They love Liam, but they thought they’d have years to grow accustomed to him becoming an adult..not months. When they offer him a gift he’s been wanting for years, his reaction is so unexpected it leaves all of them reeling.

I love Liam. It’s strange knowing he’s only a year old, but he’s growing into a strong man I really enjoy reading about. Watching him grow and change has been a delight. I was looking forward to this story for many reasons, not the least of which is the way things ended for Liam in Shadow’s End.

While I really enjoyed the story itself and liked seeing things from Liam’s perspective, the end really frustrated me. Usually I finish these novellas feeling satisfied, but this one left me frustrated and wanting more. That isn’t to say it wasn’t a good story, but why did it have to end the way it did?? Especially since the next novel won’t be available for a million years </slightexaggeration>??

Still, I love watching Liam grow and change. Here we saw flashes of temperamental teenager, as well as chafing-at-restraints young adult. I can’t wait to see where the future takes him.

3.5 out of 5 


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Joint Review: The Game Plan by Kristen Callihan

Posted November 6, 2015 by Holly in Reviews | 2 Comments

Joint Review: The Game Plan by Kristen CallihanReviewer: Holly and Rowena
The Game Plan by Kristen Callihan
Series: Game On #3
Also in this series: The Hook Up, The Friend Zone, The Hot Shot

Publication Date: November 1st 2015
Genres: Fiction, Romance, New Adult, Contemporary, Coming of Age, Sports
Pages: 331
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A beard-related dare and one hot-as-hell kiss changes everything.

NFL center Ethan Dexter’s focus has always been on playing football and little else. Except when it comes to one particular woman. The lovely Fiona Mackenzie might not care about his fame, but she’s also never looked at him as anything more than one of her brother-in-law’s best friends. That ends now.

Fi doesn’t know what to make of Dex. The bearded, tattooed, mountain of man-muscle looks more like a biker than a football player. Rumor has it he’s a virgin, but she finds that hard to believe. Because from the moment he decides to turn his quiet intensity on her she’s left weak at the knees and aching to see his famous control fully unleashed.

Fi ought to guard her heart and walk away; they live vastly different lives in separate cities. And Dex is looking for a forever girl. But Dex has upped his game and is using all his considerable charm to convince Fi he’s her forever man.

*We call this a joint review but really it’s just the two of us discussing the book. There may  be spoilers and bad language. 

Holly: Fiona is Ivy’s younger sister. We met her in the previous book, The Friend Zone. We also met Dex in the previous book (I don’t remember him from book 1). He was the wise, quiet one in that book and we learn here that he’s like that all the time. He has deep thoughts and tends to be introspective.

He’s also huge, tattooed, bearded, has a man-bun and he’s a virgin. SWOON.

Rowena: I feel like this review is going to be me fan girling over how much I loved Dex.

Love You

Like it’s going to be filled with heart eye emoji’s and that’s it.

Heart Eyes

But IDGAD, let’s do this.

Holly: Now Dex is in the NFL and like her sister, Fiona wants nothing to do with professional athletes. Her father was a professional basketball player before becoming a sports agent. He cheated on their mom and has mostly been absent from their lives. Fi wants nothing to do with anyone who might even closely resemble their dad. But right from the beginning Dex is different. He’s quiet and observant, funny and sweet…she doesn’t want anything to do with him, but she can’t stay away. I loved how drawn they were to each other.

Rowena: The story really takes off right from the very beginning and I like that we didn’t have to slog through huge backstory to get to the meat of their romance. I liked seeing them both become aware of each other and I loved the forthright way that Ethan was with Fiona. There was none of that silly back and forth between these two. Fiona knew where Ethan stood right from the very beginning. I dug that

Holly: I dug that, too. And I liked that Fiona decided to be just as forthright with Ethan. She could have played games, but instead she met his honesty with her own. There were a couple times I thought she was going to close down or not share with him what was going on in her head, but she always came through.

The first half of the book worked better than the second for me. Something about the big drama rubbed me the wrong way. It’s not that I disliked it, or thought the reactions of the characters weren’t appropriate, but I guess I felt like it was a bit over the top.

Rowena: I thought the big drama was pretty interesting, especially considering everything that went down in the real world with a similar big drama. Does that make sense?

Holly: Yeah, it makes sense. I guess it just felt really dramatic. Though, you’re right, in this day and age it isn’t outside the realm of possibility. I think maybe I struggled so much because she was so selfish during the whole ordeal. She wasn’t the only one affected, yet she was the only one she thought about. Would I have acted differently? I can’t say. But the fact that Ethan fought for her the whole time, yet she turned him away when he needed her most..well. I guess I didn’t like that.

Rowena: That’s kind of realistic though, isn’t it? Wouldn’t you be more worried about yourself because it’s your naked body out there for the masses eyes. For your parents to see, everyone at work, at school, at CHURCH, everyone has access to private photos of you and they got it without your permission. I think I would have been more worried about myself first and foremost. I wouldn’t have thought about Dex for at least two days. ;D

Holly: Sure, I get that. I even agree. But the theme of the entire book was Fiona pulling away and Ethan working for her, for them. So then this big thing happens and yes, it definitely affected her, but it affected him, too. He had his own issues and he got fucked with, too, over that. So this one time, when he really needed her, she couldn’t have looked past her own issues to help him with his?

Ron Swanson WTH

Rowena: I guess not. Ha.

One of the things that low key frustrated me was Fiona’s workplace issues. I wish Fiona would have been as forthright with her boss, or maybe not even the boss but the problem girl, as she was with Dex. I really liked her revenge though. That was some shady and petty goodness.

Holly: You’re right, she shouldn’t have been so quiet about what was happening. I get sometimes you have to eat shit at work. You can’t just run around and demand things. I get that. But she said nothing.

I did love her form of revenge, though. It was petty and shady, but I still laughed. Though, thinking on it a bit more, it was pretty immature. I’m going to laugh instead of worrying about it, though, because that girl at work deserved everything she got. And so did her boss.

Rowena: Holy cow, how dumb was that girl?

Holly: That girl was a moron. For real.

Rowena: The thing that kept me frustrated was that the stuff at work happened more than once. I get not wanting to be the office snitch but hell, don’t be the office bitch eithe/r. Stand up for yourself. Put that bitch in her place. I’ve had to do that and it’s not easy but it needs to be done sooner rather than later because that shit is not cool. At all. Those people are messing with your livelihood. Don’t let them. I kept wanting to yell at Fiona to cut that bitch up (professionally, of course…can you cut a bitch up professionally? Eh, you know what I mean) and I felt like it took too long for her to fix that shit.

cut you like bad bangs


Holly: I completely agree. She needed to stand up for herself way sooner than she did. That was no time to be timid and wait for something to magically change on its own.

Rowena: I did like her office friend Alice. We all need someone at work like Alice.

Holly: Yes, Alice was great and I’m glad Fiona had someone she could talk to.

Rowena: As far as the romance goes? I liked it. I liked that their feelings for each other weren’t in question. It was dealing with the dynamics of their lives that was the issue. She lives in New York, he lives in New Orleans. Him being on the road all the time, her hating that lifestyle because of the issues she had with it growing up. That world is so foreign to me so I found that part of their romance quite interesting. I wish I had the kind of money where if my bestie in New York City needed me, I’d be on the first flight out there. To bad for you, since if you need me, you have to settle for phone calls and cyber hugs. Sigh.

Holly: Ha. I wish we could afford to fly to each other every weekend. I will say, I loved that they were both willing to do that for each other.

The romance was sweet. They had good chemistry and a solid understanding of how the other worked.

Rowena: I thought that Callihan handled Dex’s story incredibly well. His insecurities and his background made perfect sense and sold me on Ethan Dexter as a whole. I loved the person that he grew up to be…and I really loved that his friendship with Grey and Drew was solid and long lasting.

Holly: I agree. Dex was wonderful. One of the best aspects of this entire series is the friendship between the guys. I love that they’ve maintained it even after their lives split and they ended up in different cities and on different teams.

Rowena: OMG, what about how Dex flew to San Francisco to watch the baby so that Gray and Ivy can catch up on their sleep? Gah. He’s the best.

Holly: I LOVED THAT! When he was like “I know babies and you need help” I about died. I want a Dex!

I loved Fiona. I loved Dex. Like, OMFG LOVED him. I thought the major drama toward the end of the book – or, more specifically, Fiona’s reaction to it – was a bit disappointing, but that didn’t take away from my overall enjoyment of the book. I loved the way their romance developed and I wanted to see them work it out.

All About the Fairytale

I’m going to give this a 4 out of 5

Rowena: Like you, I really enjoyed this book. I loved Dex. I loved Fiona. I loved getting all of the Gray and Ivy and Baby Grayson bits. The romance between Dex and Fiona was hot and believable and my favorite part of the entire book. The minor disappointments of the happenings at Fi’s work didn’t take too much away from my enjoyment of the book because in the end, that revenge rocked my socks.

I’m giving this book 4.25 out of 5.

Final Grades

Holly :  4/5
Rowena : 4.25/5


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Review: Undressed by Shannon Richard

Posted September 16, 2015 by Holly in Reviews | 3 Comments

Review: Undressed by Shannon RichardReviewer: Holly
Undressed by Shannon Richard
Series: Country Roads #5
Published by Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date: February 3rd 2015
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary, Coming of Age, Contemporary Women, Sports
Pages: 224
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She knows the rules of the game . . . but she can't resist his moves
Publicist Abby Fields's career is on the rise. And with failed romances in her past, she has no time for men. When a job opportunity opens up with a sports team in Florida, Abby eagerly packs up and heads south. Yet after a work event in Mirabelle, Florida, Abby finds herself in the arms of a hockey player whose heartstopping smile leads her to the steamiest night of her life . . .
Logan James is hot on and off the ice. With his team on an epic winning streak, life couldn't get better . . . until he meets Abby, the fiery redhead assigned to protect his team's image. Now Logan's finding it difficult to concentrate on anything other than getting Abby undressed. But after a secret is leaked to the press, the taste of betrayal opens old wounds. If they can't learn to trust each other, they may risk losing more than their hearts.
(50,000 words)

I haven’t read any of the other books in this series. I was kind of hoping to get a feel for the author’s writing by testing out a novella first. I enjoyed it enough to search out the first full-length book.

Abby recently moved to Florida and accepted a position in PR for the Jacksonville Stampede, a professional hockey team. Career-wise, this a great move for her. It’s also a good move for her on a personal level, since she recently had a bad breakup and wants nothing more than to be away from her ex and to focus on her career. All is going well except when it comes to star player Logan James. They rub each other the wrong way on a personal level, and professionally Logan blocks her attempts at promoting him at every turn. He wants his private life to stay private, which makes Abby’s job very difficult.

There’s an undercurrent of attraction and desire neither acknowledged until they ended up snowed in a small cabin on their way to a publicity event. They start drinking and playing a game and …well, it wasn’t long before they spent the best night of their collective lives together. Abby has a no-fraternization policy in her contract, so she pushes to keep their night quiet and a single thing. Logan understands why, and he’s all for keeping it quiet since he’s a very private person, but he doesn’t want it to be a one-time thing. He realizes there’s more to Abby than he first thought and he wants more of her – both in bed and out.

When the reason for Logan’s private reserve is made public, Abby and Logan have to take a hard look at their relationship and decide if what they have is worth fighting for.

I liked both Logan and Abby. Their antagonism toward each other in the beginning was kind of fun, and I liked how much chemistry they had. The main conflict – the no-fraternization clause in Abby’s contract – seemed believable given her profession and his position with organization. It was easy to see they had physical chemistry, but they formed a deeper connection as the story progressed. Their solid connection early on helped see them through their tribulations.

This was a sweet, well done romance. I fell right into the story and look forward to finding more from Richard.

3.75 out of 5

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Review: A Summer Like No Other by Elodie Nowodazkij

Posted August 6, 2015 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: A Summer Like No Other by Elodie NowodazkijReviewer: Rowena
A Summer Like No Other by Elodie Nowodazkij
Series: Broken Dreams #1.5
Published by Self-Published
Publication Date: July 30, 2015
Genres: Coming of Age, Contemporary, Young Adult
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She’s his best friend’s little sister. He’s the biggest player of them all.

They shouldn’t be together. But this summer’s just too tempting.

Sixteen-year-old Emilia Moretti’s goal for the summer is simple: forget her brother’s best friend—Nick Grawsky—ever existed. It should be easy: He’s spending his summer in the Hamptons, adding girls in tiny bikinis to his list of broken hearts. Guarantee he won’t be telling them they’re like his little sisters. This summer, Emilia won’t stay awake at night thinking about him. She’ll need flawless ballet movements to have a shot at next year’s showcase, and she’s finally ready to search for her birth parents. But when Nick decides to stay in the city, Emilia’s resolve disappears in a pirouette. Maybe it’s the spin they needed to be together. As long as she doesn’t get stuck believing in happily ever after…

Nick is tired of pretending to be the happy, let’s-have-fun guy. His father wants him to change his career from professional dancer to…lawyer. He needs to put all of his focus on dancing to prove to Daddy Dearest he’s good enough to make it big. And he may have a case of the bluest balls in history courtesy of Emilia. She’s off-limits: The bro code with Roberto even forbids the dirty thoughts he has about her. Besides, he’s not boyfriend material. He only has time for flings, for girls who don’t expect much, for girls he doesn’t want to kiss goodnight. He knows he should resist her, but he’s not sure he wants to…

At least for this summer.

It’s going to be a summer like no other.

This was a quick read.

I wanted to read this one because it sounded like a cute summer read that I could sink into for a couple of hours and wouldn’t bog me down with angst and what not. I thought I could dive right in and enjoy a cute story and while I did like it, I didn’t exactly love it.

Em’s father got fired from his job so their summers in the Hamptons are a thing of the past. She’s stuck in the city for the summer and can’t stop thinking about her brother’s best friend, Nick who is probably sun-bathing and flirting with every girl in a bikini nearby – out in the Hamptons. She’s shocked as all get out when Nick walks into her rehearsal room to practice his own dancing. Turns out, Nick didn’t head out to the Hamptons either and when he starts showing genuine interest in Em, things get interesting.

This is a short story so things happened pretty fast. It’s implied that Em and Nick have a history together. A history of friendship with crushes on both parts. A crush that Em thinks is not returned and a crush that Nick can’t act on because of promises made to Em’s brother Roberto. For such a short story, there’s a lot going on. There’s the relationship brewing between Em and Nick, there’s the secrets that Nick doesn’t tell Em about then there’s the secrets that Nick and Em’s fathers are keeping about Em’s real mother. See? Lots of things going on…and when all is said and done, I don’t feel like much of anything got resolved. The ending felt more of the “read the next book to see what happens” kind of ending and I didn’t really dig that. It’s one thing to tease but this felt more like a build up that just stopped.

I also wasn’t much of a fan of Nick keeping that Jen secret, Nick’s Dad and then all of the secrets that both his Dad and Em’s Dad kept from…everyone.

This book wasn’t a bad book, it was a solid story with characters that were interesting but more than anything, I was left wanting more and not in a good way. Does that make sense?

Grade: 2.5 out of 5

This book is available from Elodie Nowodazkij. You can purchase it here in e-format. This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


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