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: Whatever Life Throws at You by Julie Cross

Genre: 

Young Adult, side effects  Romance

Pages: 

373 pages

Part of a Series?:

Standalone Novel

Release Date: 

October 7th, 2014

You Can Find the Book At:

GoodReads

Barnes and Noble

Book Depository

iBooks

Author Website

GoodReads Summary: 

Seventeen-year-old Annie Lucas’s life is completely upended the moment her dad returns to the major leagues as the new pitching coach for the Kansas City Royals. Now she’s living in Missouri (too cold), attending an all-girls school (no boys), and navigating the strange world of professional sports. But Annie has dreams of her own—most of which involve placing first at every track meet…and one starring the Royals’ super-hot rookie pitcher.

But nineteen-year-old Jason Brody is completely, utterly, and totally off-limits. Besides, her dad would kill them both several times over. Not to mention Brody has something of a past, and his fan club is filled with C-cupped models, not smart-mouthed high school “brats” who can run the pants off every player on the team. Annie has enough on her plate without taking their friendship to the next level. The last thing she should be doing is falling in love.

But baseball isn’t just a game. It’s life. And sometimes, it can break your heart…

My Review:

I’ve been wanting to read this book for so so long. But I was avoiding baseball books, especially romances because I was writing my own. I’m so glad that I finally was able to read it and I’m so glad I did.

This book combines two of the things that I love the most: baseball and romance. And it makes me so happy. I also really loved that it was very different from the books I’m writing haha so I didn’t feel a despair at failing to write as well as Julie. Because she writes so well and I totally loved her story.

And I seriously loved Jason. Oh god. He’s a fictional baseball player but I love baseball players. Oh how I love baseball and baseball players and I was so in love with Jason Brody, both as the guy off the field that Annie falls in love with and the incredible pitcher on the field. He’s an incredibly complex character and I love him so much. Thank you, Julie Cross, for extending my love of baseball boys into the fictional world. Really, I didn’t need that.

I think the thing that made me love this book the most was the blend of romance and sports. There was a great balance between the two. I think that’s hugely important when it comes to sports related books. Not everyone is going to love it so you have to find a great balance. There’s a ton of romance, but great romance, a realistic beautiful friendship, leading into a believable, great romance. And there’s a lot of great baseball.

I loved every time the Royals played the Angels. I was like, ah, my babies. But, like, the Royals wouldn’t beat them ;)

Actually they probably would…

Go Angels!

Anyway, I really loved this book. Not only was it great to read a really great romance, it was great to get some baseball love too. I think Julie writes a great novel and I love all the characters in the book. Annie, Jason, Annie’s father, all of them. Great characters, great story. The story flows well and it works so great. I love it. I wish she would write more!

 

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: Nowhere But Here by Katie McGarry

Genre: 

Mature Young Adult, cost  Romance

Pages: 

496 pages

Part of a Series?:

First in the Thunder Road Series

Release Date: 

May 26th, 2015

You Can Find the Book At:

GoodReads

Barnes and Noble

Book Depository

iBooks

Author Website

GoodReads Summary: 

Seventeen-year-old Emily likes her life the way it is: doting parents, good friends, good school in a safe neighborhood. Sure, she’s curious about her biological father—the one who chose life in a motorcycle club, the Reign of Terror, over being a parent—but that doesn’t mean she wants to be a part of his world. But when a reluctant visit turns to an extended summer vacation among relatives she never knew she had, one thing becomes clear: nothing is what it seems. Not the club, not her secret-keeping father and not Oz, a guy with suck-me-in blue eyes who can help her understand them both.

Oz wants one thing: to join the Reign of Terror. They’re the good guys. They protect people. They’re…family. And while Emily—the gorgeous and sheltered daughter of the club’s most respected member—is in town, he’s gonna prove it to her. So when her father asks him to keep her safe from a rival club with a score to settle, Oz knows it’s his shot at his dream. What he doesn’t count on is that Emily just might turn that dream upside down.

No one wants them to be together. But sometimes the right person is the one you least expect, and the road you fear the most is the one that leads you home.

My Review:

I absolutely adore Katie McGarry. I think her books are absolutely fabulous. Before I turned my novel Benched into a straight up new adult novel, I was trying to accomplish that sort of in-between YA and NA feeling that she has in her books and damn, I just don’t do it the way she does. She blows my mind every single time in creating fabulous characters and incredible stories.

Here’s the thing: the whole motorcycle gang thing has never ever appealed to me. I don’t know. I love motorcycles but the story of it really never appealed to me. But its Katie and I figured…I need to read this. She just writes such fantastic romance stories and I was so in the mood for one of those.

Now I want to be part of the Reign of Terror. The camaraderie and the family feeling and all the amazing characters that Katie created in that family ….I love them all. I want to be a part of that. I love that there is such a family feeling to it. There’s a magic to the way Katie describes the Reign of Terror, who they are, what they stand for, the things that they do. God I loved every single bit of them. I wanted so badly to be a part of all that.

I also, of course, just loved the romance. The build up between Emily and Oz, the undeniable chemistry, the way they get together. Be still my beating heart, it was beautiful. As always. Katie writes amazing, but also incredibly realistic and relatable romances. I always love all the couples. They don’t always have happily ever afters, and they have to work hard for the things they want. Its not easy. Its ups and downs and Emily and Oz have all of those. And that’s what makes their relationship so beautiful.

But its more than that. Its more than just the romance novel. Emily creates a bunch of new relationships and I love every bit of her. Her grandmother, her grandfather, her biological father, new friends, Oz. She even builds different relationships with her mother and stepfather. I love that its about discovering different parts of herself and figuring out how she can expand her family, to both biological and not biological people. Its so much about her overcoming fears and growing up and I loved every bit of it.

And I’m seriously DYING for the sequel.

 

Rating: 

4 out of 5 Stars

Tuesday Top Ten Launch Day Edition – Ten Things You Should Know About The Awakened!

Happy Release Day to me!

Official Awakened Cover

That is probably one of the weirdest and most surreal things I’ve ever typed up on this blog. I’m seriously blown away by that!

But its today! Today, order  The Awakened is a real book out in the real world! All over the world, decease people can go online and buy a copy of MY book, either in Kindle and paperback format! This is crazy to me. But also it feels amazing. This is what I’ve spent most of my life hoping for. Working my ass off for. I’m glad its finally here.

Have you gotten your copy of The Awakened yet? Its okay! I’ve provided a beautiful link here for you ;)

Even better! In just half an hour, I’ll be starting my SIX HOUR Twitter party extravaganza. If you don’t follow me on my author twitter yet, you definitely should! I’ll be on Twitter from noon PST to 6 pm PST, celebrating the release of The Awakened. I’ll be answering any and all questions you have, and reading alongside anyone else who is reading it! I’m going to be sharing snippets from The Awakened and even smaller ones (but still cool) from the rough draft of The Awakened 2. I’ll have giveaways, including signed bookmarks, signed posters and Kindle copies of the book.

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Definitely come and check it out! You don’t have to stick around for the whole six hours so come by anytime, shoot a question my way, anything! I’ll be happy to chat with all of you!

Now moving on to this week’s Tuesday Top Ten. Today is a special one, since today is my release day! So excited! Today I’m sharing ten things you should know about The Awakened before you read it! There are NO spoilers below, so don’t be scared to go beyond this part!

Also below is the schedule for the blog tour! SO many amazing and fantastic blogs are participating, sharing in The Awakened celebration and hosting me as a guest writer or in interview form. There is also information for the giveaway as well! It runs until December 12th so get those entries in!

Now, let’s get to it!

The book is about zombies…sort of

For so long, I hesitated to compare the Awakened to zombies but there are similarities for sure. They’re both undead, and they both crave one thing: human flesh. However, the Awakened don’t really have the same origin as zombies and that’s a huge plot point in the novel. And they’re smarter. They’re reflections of their old selves, but their overwhelming hunger outweighs that and makes them the monsters they are.

Zoey and Ash aren’t perfect. 

I’ve had beta readers and reviewers and several people tell me, I loved the book but Ash drove me insane or god I got annoyed with Zoey. And I’m okay with that! I want you to feel that! Both of these characters are incredibly flawed! They’re 18 years old and kind of sheltered, very taken care of, until the world goes to sh*t and so they mess up a lot. They make a lot of mistakes. And that’s okay. That’s a huge part of the book, having these two figure out what the hell they are doing.

The bombing was an accidental scene. 

I didn’t intend to bomb every major city as part of a plot point. I remember watching The Walking Dead with my boyfriend at the time and saying, jokingly, “Why don’t they just nuke everything? Why do they just let it get out of control?” Well, because my brain can’t shut off, it got me thinking and I wondered, what if they DID bomb everything? Where would you go? What would be the consequences of that? And that’s why I wrote it in.

“Nightmare” by Set It Off is the unofficial theme song. 

I was having SUCH a hard time at the beginning of this novel. I had this idea and for me, it was very risky. I don’t write science fiction! I’ve always stuck to romance! So this was out of the box for me and I was feeling doubts about actually accomplishing it! I went to a concert where Set It Off was opening, the first time I actually saw them. They played Nightmare and it just immediately stuck to me, and that song, plus the entire Cinematics album was on repeat while I wrote.

All the settings are done by research not experience. 

I have not been to ANY of the settings that are in the novel. I know, crazy right? I was originally going to have Zoey from Los Angeles, since I’ve lived here in Southern California my entire life but my book before The Awakened took place here so I needed a break for sure. So New York, and all the other settings, were researched. It was hard at times. I forgot that Zoey and her companions would be FREEZING at times because it was winter. Winter isn’t much of a thing here so that was actually genuinely tough! There is a setting that appears at the very very end of the book, and I have been there. That setting is way more important in the second book and I’m glad I’ve actually BEEN there LOL.

The Awakened was supposed to be a standalone. 

When I originally started writing the book, I had no plans to write more than the one book. As I continued to write, however, I realized I had created a world and a scenario much, much bigger than just one book and I realized I’d have to split it in two. People keep asking if it’ll be a trilogy but I think I’d lose my mind if I attempted that LOL. It’ll be two books and that’s it!

Zoey and Ash used to be Kate and Nate. 

Kate. And. Nate. Did I ever mention how absolutely AWFUL I am at naming characters? I am truly truly awful at it. I would just name all my characters the same thing if I could because names are baffling to me. It took me a second to realize their names rhymed and I was so horrified at myself. So I changed Nate to Ash. Then eventually I changed Kate to Zoey. I tend to do that a lot, change character names. I like change and I get tired of names quickly. I almost changed it from Zoey too until my friends were like, NO. I’m so glad they keep me in line…

The 5th Wave, Alienated and Unremembered were the biggest influences on the book. 

I love all three of these books so much and they all had huge influences on The Awakened. The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey did a lot for the survival part, especially since my characters are teenagers like Cassie. It was beyond helpful. I LOVED using Alienated by Melissa Landers to incorporate the romance between Zoey and Ash, but also still make it about the science fiction. Though Alienated is definitely more romance, it was so helpful. I think one of the most helpful though was Unremembered Jessica Brody. Its SO science fiction but it has a heavy foot in reality, in the reality we know and it showed me that I could totally write this book. It had a HUGE influence on this book.

The Awakened gave me the confidence to write more science fiction. 

I honestly didn’t think I could write science fiction before this book. I still sometimes don’t think I can do it. The book I wrote about this one is called Benched and is a new adult sports romance novel. Much shorter, and felt much easier to me. But I do feel the confidence to take these ideas I have and go with it. I’m currently working on the sequels to both The Awakened and Benched but I have an idea for a sort of space/robot/cyborg story about a girl named Nadia, who is the last human, the last princess, left in existence, surrounded by robots and cyborgs, until she finds out maybe she’s not. Its daunting but I really believe I can tackle it.

The sequel to The Awakened will open the world even more. 

The Awakened focuses a LOT on the main characters and their own problems, their own survival. Its very very centered on them, and for good reason. Its all about Zoey and her companions. However, in the sequel, its going to be very much about the rest of the survivors as well. Its going to be much more about the bigger picture. This is SO daunting to me but I’m excited for it. I’m excited to open up this world and exploring the bigger consequences of everything that has happened.

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I hope you guys enjoyed that and that you enjoy reading The Awakened! I am so excited that its out today. Don’t forget that there is a great giveaway going on, hosted by me, which has no effect on me saying its great ;)

Up for grabs is a signed book, poster and bookmark, more signed posters and bookmarks and kindle editions of The Awakened!

Giveaway Graphic

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Don’t forget to check out the rest of the blog tour for interviews, guest posts and more!

November 26th: Reading and Reviews / What A Nerd Girl Says

November 27th:  Living Within Fiction

November 28th: Lisa of Literature / Seeking Bazinga

November 29th: Chloe’s Book Nook / Book and Movies Addict

November 30th: Tine’s Reviews / Escape from Realities

December 1st: What A Nerd Girl Says / The Book Academy / Bookish Wonderland

December 2nd: Recently Acquired Obsessions / Morgan Reads

December 3rd: Case Maynard, Author / Movies, Shows and Books

December 4thBout of Bibliophilia

December 5th: Tesairie’s Book Reads / iFandoms Collide

December 6th: Just One of Those Bibliophiles / A Traveling Book / Endlessly Readings

December 7th: My Life in Blog / Erin Rhew Books

December 8th: Metamorphic Books / Knightingale Reviews

December 9th: Reading Over Sleeping / Always and Forever Fangirl

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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