Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Review: Elite (Eagle Elite #1) by Rachel Van Dyken

For Tracey Rooks, life with her grandparents on a Wyoming farm has always been simple. But after her grandmother's death, Tracey is all her grandfather has. So when Eagle Elite University announces its annual scholarship lottery, Tracey jumps at the opportunity to secure their future and enters. She isn't expecting much-but then she wins. And life as she knows it will never be same . . .

The students at Eagle Elite are unlike any she's ever met . . . and they refuse to make things easy for her. There's Nixon, gorgeous, irresistible, and leader of a group that everyone fears: The Elect. 

Their rules are simple.
1. Do not touch The Elect.
2. Do not look at The Elect.
3. Do not speak to The Elect.

No matter how hard she tries to stay away, The Elect are always around her and it isn't long until she finds out the reason why they keep their friends close and their enemies even closer. She just didn't realize she was the enemy -- until it was too late. 


It has been a VERY long time since I have a read a book this quickly. I just devoured it. I tried so hard to slow my reading down but I was completely addicted from the first page. I have found a new author to follow and a new series to worship. I feel like we may need to have a group chant of "WE'RE NOT WORTHY", actually. Jeez. I loved this book.

Okay, let's get to something constructive other than me just gushing about the book. I've read quite a few New Adult novels lately and I really enjoy most of them. This one is a New Adult novel but it really goes off the beaten path of others in this genre. To be honest, I've never read anything quite like it and these days, that's not a comment that I can hand out willy-nilly. 

The characters ... I love discussing characters and even though I'm a little ashamed of it ... I kinda enjoy tearing characters apart. Meaning, I don't want to read about this perfect character in this perfect world with perfect hair, yadda yadda blah. It gets boring. Perfect is boring. Now screwed up ... screwed up is good. Everyone has a little cringe-worthy issue. Everyone. If you think that you don't then yours is worse than everyone else's. That's just how it works. Anyhow, these characters are screwed up and I love it!! I like being able to watch the metamorphosis of a character ... going from bottom of the barrel to the top or even the opposite of that. Rachel Van Dyken can write a perfectly flawed character. AND when she's piling more crap on top of her poor creations, she keeps it believable. I have seen more than one author just butcher a book because the characters are just all wrong, all the time, all over the damn place.

Oh, there's also not any down time in this novel. I didn't find myself getting bored or skimming sentences and paragraphs, no. I wanted to read every single last word. That's a pretty big thing for me. I've read so many things that I can just get ... disinterested ... faster than others might because more than likely, I've read what you're trying to do in your novel and I know EXACTLY where you are going next. But that just didn't happen with Elite. I had no freaking clue what was going to happen next and not knowing was exciting as hell!

I have other books that I'm supposed to be reading right now but I couldn't resist buying the next installment of Eagle Elite because I just had to know what was going to happen and so far, it's just as good as the first!! I'm going to be a lifetime fan of Rachel Van Dyken. I can't say enough how amazing this book really was. Bravo!

Review: Color Me Bad (Curl Up and Dye .05) by Sharon Sala

An original short story by New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Sharon Sala links to her full-length contemporary women's fiction novel, The Curl Up and Dye.

The novella centers around the four women who run the Curl Up and Dye hair salon and their relationships with the quirky customers of small-town Blessings, Georgia. Their meddlesome efforts at match-making run awry, but there's always another makeover just around the corner.

When I saw who the author was on this, I really wanted to read it because I enjoyed another book by her last year. Granted, this one was only a novella but it was a good one. Better than a lot of novellas that I have read, actually. 

First of all ... have you seen the movie Friday ... the one with Ice Cube and Chris Tucker? Great movie. Hilarious. Anyway, there is a scene in the movie where both guys say the word "DAMN!!". If you don't know what I'm talking about, Google it immediately. You need to see them say this because that is the EXACT way that I said damn when I was reading this book. 

Getting dropped into the story like you are is great. The author gives you a little moment of sink or swim because there are a lot of things going on. That's not necessarily a bad thing ... there are just quite a few names to keep track of. But it clears up really quickly and you get down to the nitty-gritty of the book and man, was it good. Have you ever heard that saying "A happy wife is a happy life"? Well, it's totally true. Especially in Color Me Bad. If you are a dude, write this down ... don't, under any circumstances, piss off your wife. You don't know how close to the edge that woman is and believe me when I say this, it's easier to just behave yourself than play Russian roulette with your junk. That didn't happen in the book and maybe it's a bit extreme ... but that is probably what goes through a woman's mind when you piss her off to the point that one poor sap did. Stupid, stupid man.

Anyhow ... this novella is full of humor and "damn" moments. Worth the read and it really piques your interest for the first novel in the series!! 

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Review: Night Sky (Night Sky #1) by Suzanne Brockmann, Melanie Brockmann

Skylar Reid is shaken when Sasha, the little girl she babysits, is kidnapped. Scared that the weird dreams she’s been having about Sasha are real—and even more afraid that Sasha is already dead. When a mysterious girl with extreme butt-kicking abilities roars into town on a motorcycle and, well, stalks Skylar things get even weirder. Supergirl Dana tells Sky that she also has abilities – that a hormone in their blood makes them stronger, faster, smarter. A hormone that the makers of a new drug called Destiny will murder to get their hands on.

Dana and Milo, her dangerously hot yet oh-so-forbidden partner in crime, want Sky to join them in their mission – to mold Sky into the ultimate weapon. She can sense there’s something about her abilities they’re not telling her. But the only way to save Sasha and stop other girls from being taken is to embrace the weird…and fight Destiny.

First of all, it needs to be said that I am a HUGE fan of Suzanne Brockmann. Huge. To be honest, I didn't even realize that she was one of the authors of this book until after I had already started reading it. The premise was so catching that I didn't even take a moment to look the book up before I practically begged NetGalley to let me have a shot at it. Anyhow ... there's that. I had a bit of a rating issue with this one as well. It see-sawed between 4 and 5 the entire time I was reading. It was a pretty difficult decision ... one I'm still struggling with, actually.

Getting back to the book ... it was a little slow going for me. And not because the novel was actually slow ... it was just a little confusing in the first few pages. Now, this could be totally my fault. I could have been trying to devour this too quickly and I skipped over some important bits. While this doesn't happen very often, it does happen and so this could be totally my fault. But once I was 2 or 3 chapters in, it was good. Too good. This was the point where I stopped what I was doing and checked to see who the author was. Man, was I surprised. And not surprised at the same time. The writing is stellar and the action scenes are so thought out that it feels like you are there. 

I was pretty attached to Sky from the very beginning. Sky and Cal are so endearing that you can't help but love them and be totally sympathetic to their individual and combined plights. Remember, these kids are in high school. The Brockmann ladies took me back to those days (which was FAR too long ago) and I felt like the story I was reading was one that could have happened in my high school. Their writing style is so realistic that you can almost hear lockers being slammed shut and sneakers squeaking across the linoleum as kids race to beat the bell. I derailed a bit, I meant to talk about how realistic the characters were and then I went ahead with everything else. 

Back on track ... the characters ... you'll love Sky, Cal, Milo and Dana. You'll eat up every interaction between the 4 of them and you'll be waiting with bated breath for the next one. It took me a couple of days to read this one but it was because I had to force myself to put it down. I didn't want to just blow through it and then wish I could get that magic back. You know the magic ... the stuff you get when you read an amazing novel for the first time. You only get that once so I had to make a conscious decision to not squander this first time. Night Sky was just a great novel that has everything in it, a little fantasy, a little romance, a few parental unit issues, and some amazing moments where people stand up for themselves, their friends and what they believe in. 

There is only one thing that really stinks about this book. It's the fact that Night Sky isn't even out yet and I'm going to have to wait for Lord only knows how long for the next installment and let me tell you, it will be an excruciating wait.

Release date is October 7th!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Review: Trapped (Private Justice #2) by Irene Hannon


When librarian Laura Griffin's sixteen-year-old sister disappears on a frigid February day, leaving only a brief note behind, Laura resolves to do whatever it takes to track down the runaway teen. That includes recruiting ATF agent turned PI James "Dev" Devlin to help. But the deeper he digs, the more he begins to suspect that something sinister is at work in the girl's disappearance. And the closer he gets to uncovering the truth, the clearer it becomes that the situation isn't just dangerous--it's deadly.
Chilling and at times terrifying, "Trapped" is the latest thrilling read from Irene Hannon, the queen of romantic suspense. Hannon outdoes herself with this fast-paced tale of fear, deception, and just the right dose of romance.

This is the first novel that I've read by Irene Hannon and honestly, I received this book a long time ago. Somehow it just fell through the cracks in my TBR list. All in all, it was a great novel that I thoroughly enjoyed. I will definitely pick up another novel by her ... if my huge issue with this book is resolved!! More on that a bit later ...

Now, this is the second book in a series and while I usually don't start a series in the middle because you never know if there is pertinent information that you might have missed by not reading the prior books, I'm glad that I didn't shy away from it. I don't think that I missed anything pertaining to this story by not reading the previous novel. It really could be a stand alone, I believe. So if you're interested in this one and you haven't read the first one, go ahead. It's good and you won't be disappointed.

I really enjoyed the character development. I was able to get to know Laura and Dev quite easily and become attached to them really fast. The way that Hannon wrote Laura, I really felt for her in her current situation. I was able to kind of coast along on her emotional roller-coaster as if she was a friend of mine. Same with Dev. I loved both of these main characters and I enjoyed all of the secondary characters as well.

There was a real sense of fulfillment when I finished this novel. I didn't have any questions unanswered or sense anything was left unfinished. Like I said, all in all, it was a great novel.

But. BUUUUUT. As my grandfather would say, this really chapped my ass. The copy I received did not say that it was an ARC. If you aren't familiar with the term ARC, it means Advanced Reader Copy ... basically it means that there will be some editing issues, either grammar or otherwise, within the novel but that the publishing house wanted to get these complimentary copies out as quickly as possible to get reviews all set up before the novel actually drops. Anyway, reading an ARC doesn't bother me - I know that I'm in store for some editing issues and I'm okay with that. But when this novel didn't say that it was an ARC and EVERY SINGLE word that has "ff" or "ffi" missing ... this is a problem. A big problem. Because it pulls you away from the story every time you have to decipher what these words are: oense, oce, o-limits, o, puy, muns, oers, o-the-cu. In case you couldn't figure it out, those words are offense, office, off-limits, off, puffy, muffins, offers, off-the-cuff ... and that was just a few!! It was all over the book and on every single freaking page. To be honest, I wanted to give the book even lower ratings because of this but I just couldn't because the story line was so great. I'm betting that there are some people who just wouldn't read the damn thing after the 785th spelling issue. I don't know what donkey messed up and had all of the ff's and ffi's deleted but I would really like to poke them in the eye.

Now that I'm done with my long rant, this was really a good book. I'm hoping that the above F-issue was resolved for final e-book copy that is everywhere. Because if it isn't, I'm grabbing a torch and I'm going to storm the publishing company castle.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Review: Unlimited: A Novel by Davis Bunn

Simon Orwell is a brilliant student whose life has taken a series of wrong turns. At the point of giving up on his dreams, he gets a call from an old professor who has discovered a breakthrough in a device that would create unlimited energy, and he needs Simon's help.

But once he crosses the border, nothing goes as the young man planned. The professor has been killed and Simon is assaulted and nearly killed by members of a powerful drug cartel.

Now he must take refuge in the only place that will help him, a local orphanage. There, Simon meets Harold Finch, the orphanage proprietor who walked away from a lucrative career with NASA and consulting Fortune 500 companies to serve a higher cause.

With Harold's help, Simon sets out on a quest to uncover who killed the professor and why. In due time, he will discover secrets to both the worldchanging device and his own unlimited potential.

This is the first novel that I've read from Davis Bunn and unfortunately, as excited as I was to read this, it just didn't really work for me. Man, I read the first few chapters and I was really enjoying getting to know the characters, the action was awesome and the storyline was great. But then it just fizzled out. 

I'm not totally for sure where it actually went wrong. I really connected with the main character, Simon. I thought that he was intriguing and I couldn't wait to get to know him more. But then he became one of those characters that was great at everything and knew everything ABOUT everything and it became tiresome. Even with the intrigue about his past, I was just bored with him. It almost felt like a cop out ... having the character perfect except for one thing in his past. I don't want to read about a perfect person ... I want someone who is flawed and struggling and that is what I thought that Unlimited had in store for me because of the beginning of the novel.

I don't know. Maybe I'm just sensitive to that because the constant preaching. Well, it wasn't preaching but it was too much. I know that this is a Christian Fiction novel. But this felt like it was being force-fed to the reader. If I wanted to read the Bible, I would have picked it up instead of this book. I found myself rolling my eyes at the, "What God has in store" comments that happened frequently. Maybe I'm not the Christian that this book was made for. I don't know that I could ever really enjoy a book that made me question my faith - i.e. Am I not Christian enough because I find this annoying?!? All I know is, after I was about halfway through the book, I just kept picturing Elaine from Seinfeld and the whole Jesus fish thing.

I wish that the excitement hadn't tapered off. I think it would have kept my attention more if the action had kept at the same pace it was in the beginning. I'm obviously in the minority with this one because there are only a hand-full of negative ratings, most everyone loves it so if you are on the fence, go ahead and get it ... statistically speaking, you'll probably like it. Good luck!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Review: The Wicked Girls by Alex Marwood

One fateful summer morning in 1986, two 11-year-old girls meet for the first time and by the end of the day are charged with murder.

Twenty-five years later, journalist Kirsty Lindsay is reporting on a series of attacks on young female tourists in a seaside town when her investigation leads her to interview funfair cleaner Amber Gordon. For Kirsty and Amber, it's the first time they've seen each other since that dark day when they were just children. But with new lives – and families – to protect, will they really be able to keep their secret hidden?

Oh, where to start. This one just didn't do it for me. At all. To be honest, I couldn't find one thing that I liked about the novel except the first part when the lost and found stuff was getting divided up at Funnland. That was really it. 

I didn't find any kind of connection with any of the characters. I don't even really know if I could tell you one trait each of them has ... the characters didn't seem deep or realistic at all. And that was when I could keep the characters straight. I found it to be a little confusing because I didn't know much about anyone, so they all just seemed to meld together into one big, confusing mess. With every page that went by, I kept thinking that I would eventually feel ... something ... for any of the characters and I just didn't. I couldn't care less about what was happening. 

Now, I enjoy a good mystery. Especially the ones that refer back to something that happened years ago ... which is why I was so interested in this novel to begin with. But again, I was let down. It was a crash and burn type of situation for me. With the blurb, you're led to believe that there is some heinous crime that these two girls committed. And this is a bit of a spoiler but it wasn't some heinous crime. It just wasn't. The ending was not that great either. It's not that a book has to end a certain way in order for me to like it ... I've read tons of books that ended in this piss poor way and I respected the novel even more for that kind of ending ... (Divergent). But I just couldn't respect the novel more. I ended up resenting it. 

Basically, the whole novel was just ... meh. That's it. Meh. I don't believe I'll be picking up another novel by this author again.  

Review: Friday Night Alibi by Cassie Mae

In the wealthy town of Sundale, Kelli Pinkins has hatched the perfect plan to capitalize on her sweet reputation. For a generous fee, she will be every trust-fund baby’s dream: a Friday-night alibi, the “girlfriend” or “BFF” that parents dream about. With college approaching in the fall, Kelli’s services are in demand more than ever, which means that her social life is nonexistent. But Kelli is A-okay with that. She’s raking in cash for school. Besides, relationships are tricky, and sometimes very messy. She’d rather be at home on Xbox LIVE, anyway. Then the unexpected happens: She meets college stud Chase Maroney.

Chase isn’t like the preppy, privileged guys Kelli usually meets in Sundale. For starters, he’s twenty-something, always wears black., and he shoots back one-liners as fast as she can dish them out. But Kelli’s attempts to drive Chase away falter when she realizes that he treats her like he really knows her, like he cares about knowing her. When Kelli finally gives in to the delicious kiss she’s been fighting for so long, she faces a tough decision: make Chase a real-life boyfriend and risk her heart . . . or keep her clients and lose her first true love.

I thought that this novel looked cute when I picked it up and it turned out that I would be right! It was very cute. Almost to the point of being too much cute ... you know? There is a fine sickeningly-cute line that this book coasted on top of most of the time but it never quite crossed that for me. 

Right out of the gate, this was a funny book. I found myself literally laughing out loud. Most of the time, an author can get a chuckle or a smirk out of me but a full laugh? I can count on one hand  how many times that has happened. This was just hilarious in spots. Two words: Tennis. Ball. That part in the book had me rolling!! I won't lie, I read it a couple of times because I thought maybe I misread it but that wasn't the case ... it was just funny. 

The main character, Kelli is super spunky and feisty. She actually reminds me a lot of myself when I'm giving my husband a hard time - which happens to be one of my favorite activities. There are a lot of people saying that this book read more on the immature side ... I got that a little bit but not to the extent that others did. I actually enjoyed how Kelli and Chase picked on each other and I didn't think that the nicknames that everyone is talking about were too much either ... I found it cute and endearing. But that's just me. I enjoyed this novel more than I thought that I would once I picked it up. It's an effortless read that is a great getaway. 

All of that being said ... Is this a good book? Yes. Would I read this book again? Probably. BUT. Geez ... I almost stopped reading the book because of one word that kept recurring over and over and over AND OVER again. I thought that it was annoying and if it weren't for the tennis ball thing in the beginning, I totally would have given up on this book. I know this probably sounds crazy ... lots of words get repeated over and over but this one was used as a description every 4,587,545.9 times it was said in the book and I just think that even a teenage girl would be able to come up with one other word to use and break up this craziness just a little bit. The descriptive word of the day (that if I ever see used like this in another book, I will totally lose my shit) is: POPCORN. I don't know if I can ever go to the movies again. This book has totally ruined popcorn for me. Totally.

Review: The Best of Me by Nicholas Sparks

"Everyone wanted to believe that endless love was possible. She'd believed in it once, too, back when she was eighteen."

In the spring of 1984, high school students Amanda Collier and Dawson Cole fell deeply, irrevocably in love. Though they were from opposite sides of the tracks, their love for one another seemed to defy the realities of life in the small town of Oriental, North Carolina. But as the summer of their senior year came to a close, unforeseen events would tear the young couple apart, setting them on radically divergent paths.

Now, twenty-five years later, Amanda and Dawson are summoned back to Oriental for the funeral of Tuck Hostetler, the mentor who once gave shelter to their high school romance. Neither has lived the life they imagined . . . and neither can forget the passionate first love that forever changed their lives. As Amanda and Dawson carry out the instructions Tuck left behind for them, they realize that everything they thought they knew -- about Tuck, about themselves, and about the dreams they held dear -- was not as it seemed. Forced to confront painful memories, the two former lovers will discover undeniable truths about the choices they have made. And in the course of a single, searing weekend, they will ask of the living, and the dead: Can love truly rewrite the past?

There used to be a time when I lived and breathed Nicholas Sparks books. But then I started broadening my reading horizons and these type of romance novels just kind of fell to the wayside for me for a very long time. I would read one sporadically every few years or so, but they weren't constantly by my bedside as they had been before. But then I found out that James Marsden was going to be in the movie version of this one and I knew that I had to snatch it up. I know, I know ... why pick up a book because a certain actor is going to be in the movie. It's really not a good reason but I kind of grew up watching everything that he did ... my mom worked in the same school as his aunt ... his aunt would give us these autographed pictures from him ... at the time, it was THE coolest thing in the world. Then when I was sitting in my high school drama class one afternoon, guess who walks in ... yep! James Marsden ... well ... it was Jimmy back then ... but anyhow he had graduated from my HS and had the same drama teacher ... anywhooo ... (very) long (and useless) story short, finding out that James was in this movie intrigued me and I knew that the book had to be good in order for him to sign on with it. 

Sooo ... yes, I realize that this review needs to be about the book and it is ... just after that whole first paragraph of useless info. Okay, from the first page of The Best of Me, I knew that it was going to be gut wrenching. What Nicholas Sparks novel isn't?!? But this one just started off in a different place than I remember all of the other ones ... except maybe Message in a Bottle ... but it started off very somber. It started off with complete and total heartbreak. Now, that isn't what the novel is even talking about in the first part, but you can just sense it. This will sound crazy, but the sadness is almost tangible. And true to Sparks fashion, you fall in love with Dawson from the very beginning. You can't even help it. You feel for the guy and you want to make it better for him. 

The rest of the novel goes about the same way ... the main characters of the novel become close to you. Almost like they are long lost friends or someone you were close to in another life. You feel for them as if they are real. That's one thing about the way this author writes, he is going to make you feel. I won't lie, most of the time it's heartache. I knew when picking this book up that I would need to make kleenex at the ready but I didn't really cry this time. Don't get me wrong, it was sad. All of his novels are sad. But this one didn't really shock me as others have in the past. I even noted about halfway through the book that I was waiting for the gut-punch but it never came. 

Another thing worth noting ... for the first time while reading a Nicholas Sparks novel, I actually predicted the ending. I was totally wrong about how the ending came about but I knew that it was going to happen and that was a little disheartening. I don't like being able to predict endings but I did on this one. All in all, a great novel ... one that is like a slow burn, there's no rush, no urgency ... you're just left to soak up the details. After putting this one down, I have a few Sparks novels that I need to catch up on. I didn't realize how much I had missed them. 

Friday, September 12, 2014

Review: Don't Look Away (Veronica Sloan #1) by Leslie A. Kelly


Detective Veronica Sloan isn't shocked by much. Having lived through the worst terrorist attacks in history — which destroyed much of Washington, D.C. — she's immune to even the most vicious brutality. But even she is stunned by the discovery of a murder in the basement of the under-reconstruction White House.

Sloan and FBI Agent Jeremy Sykes have been assigned to investigate the homicide because the victim was a participant in a top-secret experiment. Veronica has been training for just this kind of case, waiting to use her special skills, anxious to learn if a recording device implanted in a victim's head can help solve their murder … before the killer strikes again.

I love a good crime drama. Maybe it's because my dad was a crime scene investigator while I was growing up and I've come to love the whole process of catching a killer. I don't know. But when I saw that this was a crime drama with a (semi) futuristic twist to it, I jumped at the chance to read this novel. And then I let it sit on my TBR shelf for months. Months and months. For some reason, I just wasn't inclined to pick it up. I think subconsciously, I was wary. But I had no reason to be ... this is the first novel I've read from this author and I don't read reviews on a novel that I'm going to read because I don't want to taint my first impressions and feelings. I really had no reason to not pick this book up. I just didn't.

When I finally did pick it up, I wasn't disappointed. It really grabs you from the first page and immerses you into this world in the not too distant future and it is eerily close to home. With how things are in the world today, this book could be considered a bit foreshadowing if things play out as everyone fears. Anyhow, it was really cool ... the technology and the reasoning behind it ... it seemed feasible. Everything in this novel seemed like it could come to pass ... it was really kind of creepy. 

Anyhow, about a fourth of the way through the novel, I just kept hitting these patches of reader quicksand. You know what I'm talking about ... the story feels like it ran into a brick wall and is struggling to plow its way through ... it was just rough. I felt like I had to force myself to read further and further. Reading shouldn't be like that. But it kept this sluggishness up for pretty much the rest of the book. The beginning of the novel felt like it was just going to blow my mind and then this. I was pretty disappointed when I put this one down. Maybe I've hit a reading plateau and if I were to pick this up at another time, I would enjoy it. I don't know. What I do know is that while this book isn't badly written, it just wasn't for me.