Book Review: Us by Elle Kennedy and Sarina Bowen

Genre: 

New Adult, cialis 40mg Romance

Pages: 

328 pages

Part of a Series?:

Him #2

Release Date: 

March 8th, search 2016

You Can Find the Book At:

GoodReads

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Book Depository

iBooks

Elle’s Website / Sarina’s Website

GoodReads Summary: 

Five months in, side effects NHL forward Ryan Wesley is having a record-breaking rookie season. He’s living his dream of playing pro hockey and coming home every night to the man he loves—Jamie Canning, his longtime best friend turned boyfriend. There’s just one problem: the most important relationship of his life is one he needs to keep hidden, or else face a media storm that will eclipse his success on the ice.

Jamie loves Wes. He really, truly does. But hiding sucks. It’s not the life Jamie envisioned for himself, and the strain of keeping their secret is taking its toll. It doesn’t help that his new job isn’t going as smoothly as he’d hoped, but he knows he can power through it as long as he has Wes. At least apartment 10B is their retreat, where they can always be themselves.

Or can they?

When Wes’s nosiest teammate moves in upstairs, the threads of their carefully woven lie begin to unravel. With the outside world determined to take its best shot at them, can Wes and Jamie develop major-league relationship skills on the fly?

My Review:

I loved this book. I love both Elle and Sarina and I think they both have such a way with romance, especially when it has a hockey element in it, and I loved loved loved this sequel to their first novel, Him.

I just gotta say…the biggest reason why I loved this book so much is because of the realism of it. And there are two parts to that. One…I love that Jamie and Wes don’t just live happily ever after after book one. Relationships are hard work. They aren’t all sunshine and rainbows as much as we wish they were. Some books and movies just paint relationships as so perfect. We never really get to see what happens AFTER the kiss, you know what I mean? The fact that there are struggles in this relationship, and there are ups and downs, and they have to fight for each other, even when they sometimes don’t feel like it, just made the book feel so much more real to me.

And the second part of that is…I’ve only had experience with heterosexual relationships. And I connected with this so much. Which just shows again and again and again how much you can connect with love and friendship and affection and compassion and all of that, whether its a heterosexual and homosexual relationship. I loved every minute of that.

Plus I just adore Jamie and Wes so much. Everything about them is so genuine, so real, and I wish I knew them in real life because I would so want to be friends with them. Except I wouldn’t interrupt them so often like the others… ;)

Also, I just don’t think anyone is as capable as causing my cheeks to go as red during steamy scenes the way these two do! I know that I definitely use them as inspiration when I write my own NA. Those scenes are just so good, and I read a good chunk of this book in public, which was even better, because no one knew what was going on with my red cheeks haha.

 

Rating: 

4 out of 5 stars

Book Review: Leveled by Jay Crownover

Genre: 

New Adult, buy Romance

Pages: 

224 pages

Part of a Series?:

Prequel Novella to the Saints of Denver series. This is a spinoff of the Marked Men series.

Release Date: 

November 2nd, clinic 2015

You Can Find the Book At:

GoodReads

Barnes and Noble

Book Depository

iBooks

Author Website

GoodReads Summary: 

Orlando Frederick knows what it is to be leveled by pain. Instead of focusing on his own, he’s made it his mission to help others: sports stars, wounded war vets, survivors of all kinds. But when Dom, a rugged, damaged, sinfully attractive cop, makes his way into Lando’s physical therapy practice, he might be the biggest challenge yet. Lando loved one stubborn man before and barely survived the fallout. He’s not sure he can do it again.

Dominic Voss is a protector. The police badge he wears is not only his job, it’s his identity, so when he’s sidelined because of an injury, the only thing he cares about is getting back on the force. He expects Lando to mend his body, he just doesn’t realize the trainer will also have him working toward a hell of a lot more. As attraction simmers and flares, Dom sees that Lando needs repair of his own…if only the man will let him close enough to mend what’s broken.

My Review:

Dear Jay Crownover:

Damn girl, you write some good M/M. And I think this was a GREAT introduction into the Saints of Denver. It may have taken me some time and push to get into the Marked Men series but I fell hard and I’m so excited for the Saints of Denver series. More tattoos, more sexy men and more romance and drama. Everything that makes Jay’s novels fabulous.

So I loved this short introduction into the series. I discovered recently that I really enjoy reading M/M stories. I wasn’t sure if I could relate to them at first. I’m obviously not a boy. I’m not a boy attracted to other boys. I’m great at hetero-romances and I’m great with lesbian romances (yay for being bi!) but I wasn’t sure if I could connect.

I was proven so so so wrong. I loved the first few M/M books I read and now I seriously love this book. Dom and Lando have such a quick, and crazy relationship but I love every single moment of it. I love how they meet, I love the immediate chemistry, I love how they fall in love. I’m rooting for them from page one to the last page. There’s something about them that just seems to work.

Plus, sweet jesus, Jay Crownover has a way of writing the sexiest scenes sometimes. She makes me pant even in an M/M story and I love it.

I did have a small problem with a decision that Dom makes at the end of the novella. I thought it was a slight cop out and I was a little disappointed that he made it. I have been trying to rationalize it as sacrifice or compromise or something like that but I don’t know, its hard for me, especially…okay, its so hard to do this without spoilers. But read it and talk to me and I’ll explain haha. Because despite this little tiff I had, I still loved this novella and can’t wait to read the first book in less than a month!!!

 

Rating: 

4 out of 5 Stars

Book Review: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Genre: 

Young Adult, order Fantasy

Pages: 

465 pages

Part of a Series?:

1st in the Six of Crows series

Release Date: 

September 29th, price 2015

You Can Find the Book At:

GoodReads

Barnes and Noble

Book Depository

iBooks

Author Website

GoodReads Summary: 

Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone…

A convict with a thirst for revenge.

A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager.

A runaway with a privileged past.

A spy known as the Wraith.

A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.

A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.

Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.

 

My Review:

Leigh Bardugo has created yet another masterpiece that completely blows my mind. Its not just a great YA novel and its not just a great fantasy novel…its just a great book period. She created this incredible world in the Grisha trilogy, and made it so that it was one of my favorite series, period.

Then she goes and continues in this world, and she opens it up even more. She’s already created this beautifully complicated but addicting world, and she opens it up and it is so easy to just fall into it. This new place is so different than Ravka and what we were used to with Alina but it also feels familiar, like you’re stepping out of Ravka and traveling the rest of the world. That’s how great Leigh is at writing, that’s how fantastic she is at world building. World building is the one thing that I struggle with the most and its a HUGE part of why I admire Leigh so much.

But I also love how much more she opens up her world, and its more than just it taking place in another country. We get so close to Alina in the Grisha trilogy but in this book, there are six characters, so different from each other and yet they all have to work together in order to make this incredibly impossible thing work. Leigh’s ability to create such rich and interesting characters in the same book and make them all insanely likable and yet you kind of want to wring their necks too…I love it.

I never know what to say about Leigh’s books because I always just feel sort of socked in the stomach after I read her books. In a good way, of course. She’s just such an incredible writer. She tells amazing stories with these compelling characters and sometimes you feel like you could get lost in what’s going on, but it also is so easy to be a part of. Give it a few pages, you get yourself centered in the story and then bam! You’re there, you’re involved and literally can’t stop reading. She blows my mind. I throw myself at her feet. I could only hope to write as well as she does.

And she’s my friend. That part blows my mind too. I’m friends with someone who writes incredibly amazing books, YA or not, fantasy or not, just straight up these books ARE so good and I’m already addicted to this characters (Inej = life) and I can’t wait to read more!

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Rating: 

5 out of 5 Stars

Book Review: Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

Genre: 

Young Adult, health Fantasy

Pages: 

522 pages

Part of a Series?:

Spinoff of Fangirl

Release Date: 

October 6th, 2015

You Can Find the Book At:

GoodReads

Barnes and Noble

Book Depository

iBooks

Author Website

GoodReads Summary: 

Simon Snow just wants to relax and savor his last year at the Watford School of Magicks, but no one will let him. His girlfriend broke up with him, his best friend is a pest, and his mentor keeps trying to hide him away in the mountains where maybe he’ll be safe. Simon can’t even enjoy the fact that his roommate and longtime nemesis is missing, because he can’t stop worrying about the evil git. Plus there are ghosts. And vampires. And actual evil things trying to shut Simon down. When you’re the most powerful magician the world has ever known, you never get to relax and savor anything.

My Review:

 

You know what I think amuses me the most about this book? This book is literally a fan fiction of a fandom that only exists in another fictional book. Its beautiful, and I love that this is a thing, and that its successful and even more, its SO damn good.

Its no secret that Fangirl literally is one of my favorite books that I’ve ever read. From page one until the last, I connected with Cath so much, and the story. Its just…its me and Harry Potter, easily. Which gave me an emotional attachment to Simon Snow and Baz and the rest of the characters…these characters that don’t even really have a story but Rainbow makes you love them.

And then there’s this book. THIS BOOK. Its just…I love it. Its a fan fiction of a not real story. And its a fan fiction of the finale to the not real series. Its absolutely absurd when you really think about it, but this is exactly what it is and it just WORKS.

I adore Simon. I adore Penelope and Baz and I love them all. My love for Baz is so deep, I can’t even begin to explain it. Even though this isn’t a real story, I guess, Rainbow makes it real. She makes it seem like you’ve been part of this huge Simon Snow for years and that’s exactly how I felt. I was like, HOW IS THIS GOING TO END? IS SIMON GOING TO FULFILL HIS DESTINY? WHATS GOING TO HAPPEN WITH PENNY? AND OH GOD I SHIP SIMON AND BAZ SO MUCH.

Any author that can make me love these fictional characters so much, so easily, totally wins all the marbles in my book. Seriously. Because its just such a fun story. It has everything that I love about Harry Potter, which makes it the perfect fictional stand-in for Cath in Fangirl. Its hilarious and its action packed, but it has that sort of whimsical and magical feel of Harry Potter…and it has this romance that KILLS me in all the good ways, because there is just not enough fantasy out there with a M/M love story and I adore Simon and Baz together SO much.

But I also think that it makes such a great Harry Potter fan fiction as well. Its obvious what Simon Snow is supposed to be but that’s what makes it so great. Its Rainbow’s own little shoutout to this amazing series, and she takes it and writes her own fan fiction and its beautiful, and cheeky and the bad words make me laugh because its a total fan fic thing to do. It literally feels like a Harry Potter fan fiction but one of the best written and it doesn’t feel fake or, like its taking advantage of an already established fandom. Its like, she’s paying it a huge compliment.

It also really makes me want more Simon Snow, which makes NO sense because really, its ONLY the one book. It just makes me laugh at the absurdity and yet its just so freakin perfect.

Rating: 

5 out of 5 Stars

Book Review: The Fifteenth Minute (ARC) by Sarina Bowen

Genre: 

New Adult, find Contemporary, website Romance

Pages: 

294

Part of a Series?:

5th in the Ivy Years Series

Release Date: 

October 13th, 2015

You Can Find the Book At:

GoodReads

Barnes and Noble

Book Depository

iBooks

Author Website

GoodReads Summary: 

Freshman Lianne Challice is known to millions of fans as Princess Vindi. But sometimes a silver screen sorceress just wants to hang up her wand, tell her manager to shove it, and become a normal college student. Too bad that’s harder than it looks.

She’s never lived a normal life. She hasn’t been to school since kindergarten. And getting close to anyone is just too risky — the last boy she kissed sold the story to a British tabloid.

But she can’t resist trying to get close to Daniel “DJ” Trevi, the hot, broody guy who spins tunes for hockey games in the arena. There’s something haunting his dark eyes and she needs to know more.

DJ’s genius is for expressing the mood of the crowd with a ten second song snippet. With just a click and a fade, he can spread hope, pathos or elation among six thousand screaming fans.

Too bad his college career is about to experience the same quick fade-out as one of his songs. He can’t get close to Lianne, and he can’t tell her why. And the fact that she seems to like him at all? Incredible.

My Review:

Dear Sarina Bowen,

I have always had a soft spot for hockey. I have. I used to live next to this big empty lot when I was a little kid…that eventually became the Arrowhead Pond, now called the Honda Center…which houses the Anaheim Ducks. I love hockey. I had a friend in grade school who had season tickets. I got to meet some seriously awesome players back then. I love hockey. I haven’t been as attached to it over the past couple years because my first love is baseball. This is true.

Because of your writing, your stories, and your characters…I am now massively in love with hockey. Your stories freakin ROCK. Every single story is so different and the characters so unique, but you make them all lovable and you make it so we want to keep reading about them, book after book after book. Seriously. This fictional world you’ve created at Harkness College feels so incredibly real to me and I love every moment of it.

Which brings me to DJ and Lianne. I ADORE every moment of Lianne. I love that she’s this super famous actress in this super cheesy film series, and that she just wants to go to school and be normal but even without the whole famous-actress-super-rich-thing, she’s just SO awkward as hell and it just makes the whole book to me. You’re trying to figure out how to handle that she’s this famous person, but you’re too busy laughing at how insanely normal and silly and awkward and awesome she is. Seriously. I’m jealous of Bella for being her sort of roommate because I want Lianne to be my best friend. I love that behind this facade of supposed perfection is this girl who is literally just trying to figure out who she is, and where she stands. She’s insecure with boys and she is embarrassed at Bella and Rafe’s sexy times next door. She’s so refreshingly normal and I fall in love with her at every page.

And then there’s DJ. I adore DJ and I think its because we’re able to keep this connection to the hockey theme of the whole series but in a totally different new way. I love that he used to play but that being in the booth, playing music, playing with the reactions of the crowd, and using the music to interact with the players. I love music, a lot, but I have no connection to it other than loving it and listening to it. DJ makes it seem like so much, and connects it with something I do love: sports. I never thought of the music other than something they play through the speakers but it can have an effect on the crowd and the players and I LOVE it.

Plus, okay, besides all of that…you just write amazing books. I laugh a lot, and the sexy times are ALWAYS so good, and it makes me want to become a better NA sports romance writer, and you are a huge influence.

Keep writing these. I’ll keep reading. For sure.

Also, can I, like, HAVE Rafe? I know he belongs to Bella and all that, but I’d like him to kind of belong to me too? Is that okay? Is that a real thing…

Let me know.

Love, Sara

Rating: 

5 out of 5 stars

Book Review: Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy

Genre: 

Young Adult, sildenafil Contemporary

Pages: 

364 pages

Part of a Series?:

Standalone Novel

Release Date: 

September 15th, 2015

You Can Find the Book At:

GoodReads

Barnes and Noble

Book Depository

iBooks

Author Website

GoodReads Summary: 

Self-proclaimed fat girl Willowdean Dickson (dubbed “Dumplin’” by her former beauty queen mom) has always been at home in her own skin. Her thoughts on having the ultimate bikini body? Put a bikini on your body. With her all-American beauty best friend, Ellen, by her side, things have always worked…until Will takes a job at Harpy’s, the local fast-food joint. There she meets Private School Bo, a hot former jock. Will isn’t surprised to find herself attracted to Bo. But she is surprised when he seems to like her back.

Instead of finding new heights of self-assurance in her relationship with Bo, Will starts to doubt herself. So she sets out to take back her confidence by doing the most horrifying thing she can imagine: entering the Miss Clover City beauty pageant—along with several other unlikely candidates—to show the world that she deserves to be up there as much as any twiggy girl does. Along the way, she’ll shock the hell out of Clover City—and maybe herself most of all.

My Review:

 

I was so incredibly impressed with the first book that I ever read by Julie Murphy. I do own her first book but honestly just haven’t had the chance to dive into it yet. Have you seen my TBR pile? Its massive!

Anyway, I had heard some really good things about Dumplin’ and I knew I eventually wanted to get my hands on it and was SERIOUSLY stoked when I got it in one of my OwlCrate boxes (You rock, OwlCrate). I decided that I needed to get on that right away and I did. And I read it fast.

Here’s the thing: I could sit here and tell you that its a great book about body positivity and that we should have more books like this and that it preaches self confidence and all this stuff. I could go on and on about that but I’m not going to.

Because even though that’s all true, very very true, there’s just so much to this book. I absolutely adore Willowdean. I love that she just sort of accepts the person that she is, and I love that. Willowdean is Willowdean. She’s big but that’s just the way it is. But she has insecurities and she has a hard time sometimes believing in herself or her own attractiveness but I never sit here and feel like its specifically because she’s fat. She has this because she’s a teenager and she’s going through the same shit that we all go through when we’re teenagers. THAT is what I love about it. Sure, we have body positivity, sure we have diversity with a character that isn’t perfect and pretty and skinny. But Julie doesn’t make it a big thing, not to me anyway.

Willowdean is a great, familiar, awesome character that just happens to be bigger and THAT is what makes it so good. She creates this character that is SO different from maybe what we’re used to in YA but we all connect with her because she feels so real and familiar. She has a shitty job and there’s a cute boy that can’t make up his mind about her and she’s like WTF (I’m 27 and I still deal with this crap…) and that’s what makes it so good. Creating diversity by making a diverse character who has these differences but connects with everyone…GENIUS.

I have no idea if I’m making any sense.

Basically, I totally loved this book. I adore Willowdean and kind of wish she was my best friend. She’s a great character and THAT is what makes this story so damn good. The story itself is great but Willowdean carries it and its definitely one of my favorites of the year.

 Rating: 

4.5 out of 5 Stars