Publisher: Simon and Schuster

Guest Review: It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover

Posted September 14, 2016 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: It Ends with Us by Colleen HooverReviewer: Tracy
It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover
Published by Simon and Schuster, Atria Books
Publication Date: August 2nd 2016
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four-stars

SOMETIMES THE ONE WHO LOVES YOU IS THE ONE WHO HURTS YOU THE MOST

Lily hasn't always had it easy, but that's never stopped her from working hard for the life she wants. She's come a long way from the small town in Maine where she grew up - she graduated from college, moved to Boston, and started her own business. So when she feels a spark with a gorgeous neurosurgeon named Ryle Kincaid, everything in Lily's life suddenly seems almost too good to be true.

Ryle is assertive, stubborn, and maybe even a little arrogant. He's also sensitive, brilliant, and has a total soft spot for Lily, but Ryle's complete aversion to relationships is disturbing.

As questions about her new relationship overwhelm her, so do thoughts of Atlas Corrigan - her first love and a link to the past she left behind. He was her kindred spirit, her protector. When Atlas suddenly reappears, everything Lily has built with Ryle is threatened.

With this bold and deeply personal novel, Colleen Hoover delivers a heart-wrenching story that breaks exciting new ground for her as a writer. It Ends With Us is an unforgettable tale of love that comes at the ultimate price.

This book contains graphic scenes and very sensitive subject matter.

When Lily Bloom was fifteen years old she met Atlas. He was a senior in high school to her sophomore.  She’s wondering what he was doing living in the abandoned house behind her own.  She makes a point to talk to him and they soon strike up a friendship. It turns out that Atlas’s mother kicked him out because her new husband didn’t like him and since he was 18 she was under no obligation to let him live with her. Lily helps Atlas take showers, as well as get clothes, food and blankets to survive. Their friendship soon becomes love but then Atlas contacts his uncle in Boston and moves there so that he can have a real home.

Lilly’s own home life wasn’t fabulous either.  Her father abused her mother on a regular basis and she couldn’t understand why her mom didn’t take Lily and leave.  She thought of her as weak.

Fast forward to Lily at the age of 22 when she is just back in Boston – her new home – from attending her father’s funeral.  She decides to watch some stars and finds an apartment building near her own that has a great roof deck.  While there she unexpectedly meets Ryle.  Ryle is a neurosurgeon competing his residency.  They tell each other some hard truths – they call them naked truths – but when Ryle gets called away they don’t plan on seeing each other ever again.  Lily wants a husband and family and Ryle thinks marriage is repulsive and wants nothing to do with children.

Six months later and Lily is opening her own flower shop like she’s always wanted.  She hires Alyssa who wanders in off the street and she ends up being Ryle’s sister.  Neither Ryle nor Lily can get the other off their mind.  They end up together but it turns out that Ryle has some issues that cause Lily to really look at him, their relationship and their future together.  When she meets Atlas again after seven years apart Lily has to face her thoughts about him and how their relationship ended.

Let me tell you it’s so very hard to write this review without giving you HUGE spoilers but I’m gonna give it a whirl.

This story was incredibly hard to read at times.  The subject matter is about something that you hope, in your life, you never have to face, but Lily did.  Looking at things about herself and Ryle from the inside of their relationship made her see that nothing is black and white.  She assumed that if she saw the same issues in another couple that her decision would be non-negotiable but seeing things from the inside was different for her.  The way that Hoover made us look at matters from a different point of view was quite heart-wrenching.  While she had me smiling at different points in the book she had me crying at others.

The characters in the story are really amazingly written.  I really loved them all – yes, ALL.  Alyssa with her wonderful personality as well as her husband, Marshall who cracked me up whenever he was on page.  Atlas had an incredible soul – even at 18 years of age and that didn’t change when he was older, either. Lily was an incredible strong girl and woman.  I didn’t ever see her as weak and truly admired her.  Ryle, as much as I wanted to hate him I just really couldn’t.  Despite his issues I still liked him at the end of the book which is saying something, let me tell you.

I want to say that though the blurb alludes to a love triangle there isn’t really one in the book.  I truly hate love triangles.  I try to avoid them at all costs so went in to this book with a sense of trepidation.  I was thrilled with the way that Hoover dealt with Lily, Ryle and Atlas – it was so well done! (I did hate his name, however.  It threw me out of the book so many times it got a bit frustrating, I must say.)

The book was fun and funny at times. It was also painful and sad to read for a whole slew of reasons. A lot of people would stay away from it because of those reasons but you shouldn’t.  It’s not a typical Hoover book but it was definitely worth reading.

Rating: 4 out of 5

four-stars

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Review: To Have and to Hold by Lauren Layne

Posted July 27, 2016 by Rowena in Reviews | 3 Comments

Review: To Have and to Hold by Lauren LayneReviewer: Rowena
To Have and to Hold by Lauren Layne
Series: Wedding Belles #1
Also in this series: From This Day Forward, For Better or Worse, To Love and to Cherish
Published by Simon and Schuster
Publication Date: July 26th 2016
Genres: Romance, Contemporary
Pages: 384
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four-stars

USA TODAY bestselling author Lauren Layne is the “queen of witty dialogue and sexy scenes” (Rachel Van Dyken)! Now, Sex and the City meets The Wedding Planner in The Wedding Belles, her sizzling brand new contemporary romance series about three ambitious wedding planners who can make any bride’s dream come true…but their own.

Discovering her fiancé is an international con man just moments before they exchange vows devastates celebrity wedding planner Brooke Baldwin’s business—and breaks her heart. Now a pariah in Los Angeles, she seeks a fresh start in New York City and thinks she’s found it with her first bridal client, a sweet—if slightly spoiled—hotel heiress. Then she meets the uptight businessman who’s holding the purse strings.

Seth Tyler wishes he could write a blank check and be done with his sister Maya's fancy-pants wedding. Unfortunately, micromanaging the event is his only chance at proving Maya’s fiancé is a liar. Standing directly in his way is the stunning blonde wedding planner whose practiced smiles and sassy comebacks both irritate and arouse him. He needs Brooke’s help.

But can he persuade a wedding planner on a comeback mission to unplan a wedding? And more importantly, how will he convince her that the wedding she should be planning…is theirs?

I’ve said this before but I’ll say it again. Lauren Layne has fast become one of my favorite go to author for fabulous contemporary romances and she didn’t disappoint with the first book in her new Wedding Belles series. I was wrapped up tight in this story from beginning to end and I enjoyed the entire ride.

Seth Tyler’s sister is getting married to a guy that she just met and Seth doesn’t trust his soon to be brother in law. Seth and his sister Maya are the heir and heiress to the Tyler hotel riches and it’s not a surprise that Seth thinks Neil, Maya’s new out of nowhere fiancé is after the family riches. He’s got no proof of anything shady, just his gut feeling and after meeting Neil, his spidey senses are on high alert.

After a disastrous wedding that didn’t happen, Brooke left the West Coast for the chilly winters of New York City. Her disastrous wedding that didn’t happen wrecked her wedding planning career in Los Angeles so she’s hoping to take her services to New York City and start up the process of building her work reputation up again. Her first wedding in New York is Maya Tyler’s wedding to Neil Garrett and things would be going fine if it weren’t for Maya’s meddling and grumpy older brother, holder of the family purse strings, Seth. He’s not a fan of the idea that his little sister is marrying someone after knowing them for such a short time. He’s controlling and he quite frankly, gets on Brooke’s nerves. The more time that he spends hovering over Maya’s shoulder, the more fun he’s taking out of Maya’s pre-wedding experiences and Brooke is not having that. If that means she’ll have to meet with him weekly to keep him apprised of everything going on so that he won’t be there and then do a little snooping for him, she’ll do it. She’ll do it for Maya because Maya deserves to be happy during the happy times.

These meetings between Seth and Brooke are fraught with sexual chemistry and the heat between them singed my iPad with each passing page. I loved the way that their romance built up until they were both consumed with each other and their feelings. Their romance wasn’t perfect but it was interesting and entertaining and I was right there with the both of them as they tried and tried again to get things right.

There were times when they both got on my nerves with their bullheadedness over every little thing but in the end, they both won me over and I closed this book with a smile on my face.

I loved Seth. Even when he was being a complete dickhead and messing things up for everyone in his personal life, I loved him. I loved the controlling dumbass because at the root of everything, his intentions were good and even though I wish he had listened to both Brooke and Grant, he came around in the end and I truly felt like he learned from his mistakes. That was some grand gesture too. Total swoon-worthy move that only a freaking billionaire could make. Took me right to my happy place. I loved it.

Brooke was a great heroine as well. She was strong and she was independent and even though I thought it was a little soon for her to be moving on after her disrupted wedding, I came around to the idea because had it been me? I would have jumped Seth’s bone after two weeks instead of three months. LOL.

Overall, this was fun and it was flirty and it was everything that I love about reading a Lauren Layne book. Seth and Brooke were a great main couple and the lead up to Heather’s book was great too. I can’t wait to dig into Heather’s book and meet her noisy hot neighbor. This series started off on a great note with From this Day Forward and it continued to entertain me with this one so I’m on board for it all. Bring on Heather and Alexis. I want them!

Grade: 4.25 out of 5

four-stars

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Guest Review: Stormswept by Sabrina Jeffries writing as Deborah Martin

Posted July 1, 2016 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Stormswept by Sabrina Jeffries writing as Deborah MartinReviewer: Tracy
Stormswept by Sabrina Jeffries, Deborah Martin
Series: Wales series #1
Published by Simon and Schuster, Pocket Books
Publication Date: June 28th 2016
Genres: Romance, Historical
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four-stars

The first wedding night that Lady Juliana St. Albans spent with the dark and daring Rhys Vaughan was intoxicating, the heady culmination of her new husband’s driving hunger and her own awakened sensuality. When he mysteriously disappeared the next morning, she waited for him in hope and desperation. And when he was finally proclaimed dead in a shipwreck, she bitterly mourned the loss of her love.

The second wedding night that Juliana spent with Rhys Vaughan was six years later, after he returned to claim her just as she was about to wed another. This Rhys was different—bolder, harder, and convinced that she’d betrayed him. Only their blazing passion remains from their years apart. But is it enough to light their way through the maze of mystery, menace, and mistrust—to the love they once shared and would have to find again?

Juliana St. Albans is considered a blue-stocking.  Her and her family reside in Wales but are English.  She hears about a meeting of the Sons of Wales which was a group of men who were opposing the English and the loss of the Welsh language among many other things.  The speaker of the group that night was Rhys Vaughan who is the son of a local squire.  Rhys’s father had gambled against Juliana’s father and had lost their family estate because of it.  Dressed as a lady’s maid she attends the Sons of Wales meeting and can’t help but become completely infatuated with Rhys Vaughan.  He is compelling and a wonderful speaker as well as a gorgeous man.

Rhys stops Juliana after the meeting as he’s intrigued by her as well.  When he finds out who she really is he heads to her house to speak with her father as he’s just positive the father sent her to be a spy.  He’s very wrong and Juliana gets into some serious trouble.  As she’s confined to her room for a two-week period Rhys climbs a tree and visits her.  Juliana should hate him for getting her into trouble but she just can’t.  They become friends and Rhys ends up visiting every night.  They talk about books and poetry and soon find themselves in love.  They plan to elope, which they do, but instead of fleeing afterward as they had planned they get separated and Rhys is impressed into the English Navy.

Now it’s six years later and Juliana believes Rhys is dead.  He still has her heart but she also wants a family.  At her betrothal dinner Rhys shows up and Juliana is thrilled but completely shocked.  Of course when he starts flinging accusations at her that she knows aren’t true she finds she must clear the air.  While she’s incredibly mad at her husband she’s so happy he’s home.  If only he could trust that what she tells him is the truth they could be happy once again.  But Rhys had a very long time in the Navy to think about Juliana’s involvement in his impressment and he’s positive that it was all her idea.  Will they ever work through the lies and find the love they once shared for each other?

This was a really good story.  I liked so many things about it.  First and foremost were Rhys and Juliana.  While I was pissed at Rhys’s attitude for a lot of the book I was still impressed with how he survived all the years in the Navy and then in America.  Even as mad as he was at Juliana all those years he truly never stopped loving her and of course Juliana waited for him for years and years, hoping he would return to her.

The person behind it all made me incredibly angry.  He might have told himself that he was doing what he did for his sister but it was all purely selfish and I disliked him intensely.  The fact that he kept lying and lying straight to Juliana’s face made me want to slap him on numerous occasions.  Then there was his involvement with her lady’s maid and wow – what a bastard.

Anyway, the story was a really good one that I enjoyed reading.  This is a reissue of the original that was published in 1995 so you might have read it way back when.  If you haven’t read it you should and if you have, you should read it again.

Rating: 4 out of 5

four-stars

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Review: The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson

Posted June 13, 2016 by Rowena in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: The Unexpected Everything by Morgan MatsonReviewer: Rowena
The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson
Published by Simon and Schuster
Publication Date: May 3rd 2016
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 528
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From Morgan Matson, the bestselling author of Since You’ve Been Gone comes a feel-good story of friendship, finding yourself, and all the joys in life that happen while you’re busy making other plans.

Andie has a plan. And she always sticks to her plan.

Future? A top-tier medical school. Dad? Avoid him as much as possible (which isn’t that hard considering he’s a Congressman and he’s never around). Friends? Palmer, Bri, and Toby—pretty much the most awesome people on the planet, who needs anyone else? Relationships? No one’s worth more than three weeks.

So it’s no surprise that Andie’s got her summer all planned out too.

Until a political scandal costs Andie her summer pre-med internship, and lands both she and Dad back in the same house together for the first time in years. Suddenly she’s doing things that aren’t Andie at all—working as a dog walker, doing an epic scavenger hunt with her dad, and maybe, just maybe, letting the super cute Clark get closer than she expected. Palmer, Bri, and Toby tell her to embrace all the chaos, but can she really let go of her control?

Morgan Matson wrote one of my favorite contemporary YA books a few years ago (Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour) and I have been reading her ever since. Every couple of years, she releases a new book and I have to read it. I always enjoy her books but I haven’t loved any the same way that I loved Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour but they’re all still damn good reads. This was one of those.

Andie Walker has always had a plan. She’s got summer plans that include a pre-med study program but when a scandal involving her politician father derail those plans, Andie’s summer is up in the air and she’s without a plan for the first time…ever. Growing up as a politician’s daughter, Andie had to make sure that she stayed out of trouble, out of the spotlight and out of the media because her life could affect her father’s political aspirations. She’s a good girl and plays by the rules but when her father’s scandal starts to bleed into her life, she’s not at all happy about that.

Spending the summer with the father that has been largely absent from her life takes a lot of getting used to and Andie is in for one heck of a summer. On top of living with her father for the first time in years, she got a job as a dog walker. The very last job she’d ever thought she’d have but the upside to all of this was she could also spend her summer with all of her friends. It was the first summer that all of the girls in her foursome were together in the summer and that was something that she was looking forward to.

Then she meets Clark and her summer really starts looking up. He’s different from anyone that Andie has ever dated before and when her usual three week ending point comes around, Andie is surprised at how much she doesn’t want to end things with Clark. Things certainly are way different than Andie had originally planned for her summer.

There’s a lot going on in this book and I thought that was good because it kept the flow of the story going. Andie was dealing with getting to know her father again but she was also learning how to walk dogs and keep their leashes untangled and everyone happy, she was learning all there was to know about this new boy that she really likes and reading his books but she was also hanging out with her friends and getting grounded for the first time.

I really enjoyed Andie’s character. She was very mature for her age. She was smart and she was determined to succeed in life. She was also trying to figure out what she wanted to do with her future and figure out the kind of person she wanted to be. She was getting to know her father and all of these things were helping her really come into her own.

I loved Clark. I thought he was such an adorable love interest and so very perfect for Andie. I loved the way that he brought the real Andie out and showed her that being real didn’t mean losing herself. I loved getting to know him and my heart hurt for him where things were concerned about his father and his writing. He was a great book boyfriend!

Her friends were a lively bunch that I really enjoyed getting to know. They were all distinctively different from each other and yet together, they all made sense as a group. The whole Bri and Toby thing was disappointing. I was sorely disappointed in Bri and then later on Andie for her suggestion on how to fix everything but mostly with Bri because she tried to justify her relationship by belittling Toby’s crush on him. She kept saying that what Toby and Wyatt had wasn’t real, that they only kissed and maybe it was true for Wyatt but it wasn’t true for Toby and Toby was her best friend. Her feelings for him were completely real otherwise she wouldn’t have been as hurt as she was. But Bri’s whole, “Toby always came first when it came to Wyatt with you guys but what about me?” mentality drove me crazy because hello??? She had dibs on him, she spoke up about wanting him and if Bri wanted a chance at a relationship with him, she should have been upfront about it with Toby…from the beginning…or at least the night of the scavenger hunt. So in that whole debacle, I was Team Toby. It really sucked for Bri too because I wonder if she thought that whole summer and all of the lies were worth everything in the end considering how things end with Wyatt. I couldn’t help but feel like that was such a waste.

The way that the summer wraps up was interesting and yet very real. I loved that Toby chose herself and that not everything ended with a cookie cutter ending and bow tie. I’m kind of interested in a story with Toby at the center and a love interest named…Topher? Haha, that would be great cause I can totally see it. Toby choosing herself, spending a lot of time alone and then she runs into Wyatt months and months later and in her rush to get away from him, she runs into Topher and they strike up a conversation. She’s not a fan of him, he doesn’t really care for her but there’s something different about her these days and he finds himself intrigued so he turns on the charm. She doesn’t want to have anything to do with him because she’s not going to be another of her friend’s sloppy seconds and he doesn’t want to miss out on another girl so they bicker their way toward…a love match? Haha, I need to cut it out but that would be awesome!

Anyway, this was a great book with a charming cast and a lovely protagonist. Though it’s not my favorite Morgan Matson, it was still enjoyable.

Grade: 3.75 out of 5

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Guest Review: Deep Dark by Laura Griffin

Posted May 23, 2016 by Jen in Reviews | 10 Comments

Guest Review: Deep Dark by Laura GriffinReviewer: Jen
Deep Dark by Laura Griffin
Series: Tracers #10
Published by Simon and Schuster
Publication Date: May 24th 2016
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Suspense, Contemporary, General, Fantasy
Pages: 368
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
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three-half-stars

“If you like CSI and well-crafted suspense, don’t miss these books” (RT Book Reviews)! The tenth novel in the New York Times bestselling Tracers series is a gripping romantic thriller from the author who “never fails to put me on the edge of my seat” (USA TODAY).
The moment detective Reed Novak steps onto the crime scene, he knows the case is going to rock his world. A beautiful young woman murdered at home. No sign of forced entry. No motive. She’s obviously not the killer’s first victim, and Reed’s instincts tell him she won’t be his last. Reed’s first clue comes via a mysterious text that links to a dating profile, but even more intriguing than the clue is the person who sent it.
As a white-hat hacker in the Delphi Center’s cyber investigation unit, Laney Knox sneaks into some of the deepest, darkest corners of the Internet looking for predators. Laney would prefer to stay away from Austin PD’s most recent murder case, but she can’t ignore the chilling similarities between that crime and her own brutal attack years ago. Laney offers to help the sexy lead detective, but he wants more from her than just a promising tip—Reed wants her trust. Laney resists, but as their relationship deepens she’s tempted to reveal the closely guarded secrets that could make her a key witness…or the killer’s next victim.

Time for another Tracers book! This time we have Reed Novak, a detective with the Austin PD, and Laney Knox, a white hat hacker for the Delphi Center. When Laney hears about a recent murder that bears a striking similarity to an attack she experienced years ago, she contacts Reed and wants to help. She doesn’t trust him and he’s not sure how much he trusts her either, but as they both pursue the investigation, they start to uncover dangerous information that could put Laney at risk.

I thought the suspense aspect of the book was great. The villain is creepy and disturbing, and there are lots of twists and turns here as Reed and Laney close in on him. As usual, Griffin includes lots of details from the investigation to make the book feel realistic and based on science. Whether that’s actually true, I don’t know, but I love the geeky details she sprinkles in! We get to see some glimpses of other characters too, and I always enjoy that because, realistically, many of these investigator-types working in a medium-sized city would know each other, right?

The relationship between Reed and Laney just didn’t do it for me, though. First, Reed is fifteen years older than Laney, not a trope I love. I could get over it if they felt in sync, but I didn’t get that here. Reed is cynical and hardened and a very seasoned professional, but he meets Laney and he starts breaking protocol left and right for her. (I’d say he was largely thinking with his…lower brain.) Laney acts her age–she’s immature, rushes into things without thinking about the consequences, and behaves more like an infatuated girl than a grown woman. Sure, she’s also cynical based on her past and her work hunting online predators, but when it comes to general life skills she shows her age. The two had chemistry, but I didn’t feel a deeper connection, at least in this book. And the age thing isn’t really explored in great depth. Come on, 15 years is a long time! Some serious conversation seems in order.

Am I getting tired of this series and therefore being too harsh? I don’t know! I did really enjoy the last book in the series, and I haven’t hated a Tracers book yet, including this one. The storylines and suspense elements are always thrilling, and the science of investigation keeps me hooked.

I have no problem suggesting that everyone who enjoys this series read this one, and I’ll be first in line to keep reading future installments.

Grade: 3.5 out of 5

three-half-stars

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