Lyric is the daughter of musicians Micah and Ella (unfortunately, I haven't read their series yet). Lyric is fun and impulsive, and plays about four musical instruments herself. When her neighbors adopt another child, she must run over and meet him.
Ayden is a newly adopted 16-year-old who appears haunted. He doesn't know what to make of the boisterous Lyric, but her presence does eventually relax him. We learn that his neglectful, drug-addicted mother allowed some creeps to kidnap him and his siblings, and the kidnappers abused him. But we don't learn the specifics and *poof* suddenly the book is over. I'm okay with cliffhangers for the most part, but in this case I felt cheated because there's not much character development for Ayden.
I do like the intrigue behind Lyric's effusive personality. When she mentions that her aunt has Bipolar Disorder, I thought "Aha!" I had wondered if she was in a manic phase. And the author explores PTSD well in her stories. I shed a few tears over Ayden.
Will I continue the series? Not sure. The author is prolific so I wouldn't have to wait long, but I wish she focused more on quality than on quantity. ...more
Family systems fascinate me, but the story of the Lee family held only mild interest. For most of the book, I was angrDepressing Breakdown of a Family
Family systems fascinate me, but the story of the Lee family held only mild interest. For most of the book, I was angry at the dysfunctional behavior of the parents, who foist their own wounds upon their children. While racism, sexism, and other factors influence James and Marilyn's behavior, it's tragic that their daughter Lydia has to die for them to realize their mistakes.
Lydia, five years old, standing on tiptoe to watch vinegar and baking soda foam in the sink. Lydia tugging a heavy book from the shelf, saying Show me again, show me another. Lydia touching the stethoscope, ever so gently, to her mother's heart. Tears blur Marilyn's sight. It had not been science that Lydia had loved.
I liked the jumping timeline of the story and the exploration of social dynamics in the 1970s.
James Lee is a Chinese-American grad student at Harvard who faces racism. He longs for acceptance by other Americans so much that he studies cowboys. One of his students is Marilyn. She dreams of becoming a physician but her mother dreams of her becoming a housewife. When Marilyn falls for James, her pregnancy all but snuffs out her doctor dreams.
A Caucasian man gets the Harvard job James wants, so James has to accept a teaching position at a small Ohio college. James and Marilyn raise their son Nath and daughters Lydia and Hannah as they pine for lives they don't have. At one point, Marilyn ditches the family to attend college. When she returns, her children are so terrified of her leaving again that they do anything to please her. Especially Lydia.
The story opens when 15-year-old Lydia has gone missing. Her body turns up in a lake. What the hell happened for her to get there? Sadly, the parents unwittingly play a role in the tragedy.
This novel is well-written. But I didn't like the horrible parenting.
Part of James wanted to tell his son Nath that he knew: what it was like to be teased, what it was like never to fit in. The other part of him wanted to shake his son, to slap him. To shape him into something different...James would think back to this first disappointment in his son, this first and most painful puncture in his fatherly dreams.
What about your son's dreams, James?
Some women in my book club liked this more than me, possibly because they are mothers and can identify with how difficult parenting can be. Since I'm not a mother, I identified more with the younger daughter Hannah, who is horribly ignored.
What about Hannah? They set up her nursery in the bedroom in the attic, where things that were not wanted were kept. Hannah, as if she understood her place in the cosmos, grew from quiet infant to watchful child: a child fond of nooks and corners.
I just wanted these intelligent parents to get their act together! Overall the tone is morose and regretful. I prefer reads that are more uplifting....more
Nicki Elson has a talent for writing humorous, engaging characters, and Lyssa Bates is my favorite so far. Lyssa’s an inves Funny, Heartwarming Romance
Nicki Elson has a talent for writing humorous, engaging characters, and Lyssa Bates is my favorite so far. Lyssa’s an investment analyst in her twenties who dates a cute, skinny nerd named Keith.
He was a runner and also dabbled in martial arts and whatever else was the current rage in nerd culture.
Keith buys her a vibrator to spice up their sex life, and Lyssa likes her new toy. A lot. Lyssa likes her vibrator so much that she nicknames it Vibrizzio, her sexy Italian lover.
Keith isn’t so enamored of Vibrizzio, especially when Lyssa always insists on a threesome. That’s gotta be a new low when a boyfriend is jealous of a lil’ machine.
Meanwhile, Lyssa get assigned to an important account at work: Project Pineapple. Heading the team is the gorgeous Hayden King. He’s a rising star in the company, confident and competent. He’s curious about Lyssa, but she seriously doubts his interest in her.
Hayden learns about Vibrizzio in an unfortunate airport incident. Damn the TSA! Lyssa tries to play the vibrator off as a flashlight. Later, at a dimly lit restaurant:
He nodded and squinted. “This lighting’s pretty dim. I’m having trouble seeing my choices—do you have that flashlight handy?” His handsome features stayed perfectly composed as he narrowed his eyes further and tilted his head to the side. “Can I borrow it for a sec?”
Lyssa stared at him, hard, and didn’t say a word. Flicking his eyes up, he held her gaze while the corners of his mouth twitched.
“Having fun?” Lyssa asked.
He shrugged. “Not as much as you apparently plan on having later.”
Lyssa disdains the plentiful women Hayden seems to attract. After one of his trysts, they chat.
”That woman has an ass that won’t quit.”
Lyssa wrinkled her face. “What exactly does that expression even mean? An ass that won’t quit? Think about the primary function of an ass—I’d think that’s the sort of thing you might want to quit.”
Lyssa’s sister is rather bitchy, but Lyssa dishes it right back:
”How’s the big bad city treating you,” Jessica asked, pulling back and holding her hand to her sister’s face, running a thumb over her cheek. “Yikes, all those exhaust fumes are hell on the pores, I see.”
“The city’s great, Jess. Too bad you never got a chance to live there.”
“Well, some of us move on with our lives and can’t stay stuck in the party-party atmosphere of the college years forever.”
“True. And some of us feel the need to experience life before bending to the will of an arcane society.”
I would hate a judgmental sister like that.
I could feel the romantic tension building between Lyssa and Hayden, but it’s tough for her to see. When the idea arises of Hayden dating Lyssa’s friend Trish, Lyssa tries to be okay with it.
He pursed his lips. “Normally this is something I’d be all over, but I haven’t been feeling normal lately.” He leveled his eyes at her.
“Is this something you should talk to your gynecologist about?” Lyssa asked.
He grinned. “You’re extra sassy today, which means you’re using humor to divert your discomfort. I think maybe you’re not as okay with this as you claim to be.”
Hayden knows Lyssa well.
This story had me beaming and cheering at the end. HIGHLY recommended! ...more
My Goodreads buddy Mitsy told me I must read Lauren Stewart novels, and I’m glad I followed her advice. I particularly enjoyed tDeeper Water Is Better
My Goodreads buddy Mitsy told me I must read Lauren Stewart novels, and I’m glad I followed her advice. I particularly enjoyed the ending of this contemporary romance.
Laney is stuck in a reverse fairytale, dating princes who turn into frogs.
’You have to kiss a lot of frogs to find your prince.’ My mother’s favorite expression was completely wrong. If you kiss a lot of frogs, all you end up with is sore lips and a bunch of frogs. And if you kiss a lot of princes, hoping at least one of them will stay that way, all you get is a horrific amount of disappointment and even more frogs.
When her boyfriend Kevin breaks up with her (oh yeah, he’s marrying the woman he’s been seeing on the side), she declares him yet another frog and swears off all men, amphibian or otherwise.
Five months later, she’s hanging in a coffee shop when a cute guy flirts with her. She’s not having it.
”Trust me, you don’t want me to get to know you, not if you like who you are right now. I’m cursed. I could turn you into a frog with barely any effort at all. Go find someone else to pretend to be in love with. I wish you luck.”
Naturally, her blow-off intrigues Carson to no end. Men do enjoy the chase!
For the first half of the story, there’s a lot of snappy dialogue as Laney and Carson get to know each other…as they pretend they’re not falling in love. I didn’t feel connected to either character at that point. It's like they're in the shallow end of the pool.
Then Laney discovers why Carson says he can’t fall in love, and I was hooked. Here he has a confrontation with his mother:
I rubbed my cheek and jaw to lessen the sting and get the blood moving. “It hurts even more than the hit does, but if you rub the area right away, you don’t get as much bruising.” My next words were soft. “My mother taught me that.”
I thought Carson’s mother demonstrated good insight into why she stayed with abusive men.
There is excellent character development for both Laney and Carson. Laney learns that her needs are important. Finding our voice seems like such a universal struggle for women. Carson muses:
She needed to learn how to say what she wanted instead of pretending she was fine with every decision someone else made for her.
And Carson learns that he isn’t doomed to repeat his father’s abusive behavior. Laney pleads with him:
”You’re great and you’re not broken and you won’t hurt me. The only person you’re hurting is yourself. Over and over in some stupid, useless kind of penance.”
With each other’s support, maybe the water will be lighter and smoother for these two?...more
Landon Lucas Maxwell Tries to Triumph After Trauma
What an excellent New Adult series with lovable characters and substance. I rated the first book EasLandon Lucas Maxwell Tries to Triumph After Trauma
What an excellent New Adult series with lovable characters and substance. I rated the first book Easy, from heroine Jacqueline's point-of-view, with 5 stars. While hero Lucas's POV in Breakable wasn't quite what I'd hoped for, it was still a good read.
Lucas alternates his story from the present, as a college senior, to the past, from ages 13-18. I don't think I like this format, which reminded me of Ugly Love. I like to learn about characters' pasts, but flashing back to the hero's interest in another girl makes it difficult for me to feel his desire for the heroine in the present. It's almost like he's cheating, in a weird way.
And the jumps in time seemed jarring, preventing connection with the characters in both time frames. My complaint about the timeline jumps in Ugly Love was that neither the past nor the present had enough time to fully develop. Breakable, in contrast, felt quite long, but I still didn't get the satisfaction of going deep into the story due to the constant time travel.
Perhaps one reason the story felt long is Lucas's somewhat distant narration. His mother was raped and killed when he was 13, and he has the PTSD symptom of numbness. While Jacqueline begins to awaken emotion in him, I found the love scenes from his POV to be mechanical instead of passionate. Lucas was a mysterious hero in Jacqueline's eyes, and I expected the unraveling of that mystery to be even more compelling. Unfortunately, his perspective fell short for me.
Another book this story reminds me of is The Goldfinch. Both male heroes have to claw their way back to life after losing their mothers as pre-teens, and both heroes had thuggish best friends to show them the way. (I loved Boyce Wynn!)
At times the writing wowed me, like:
But she opened her mouth, and my blood ignited, rolling below my tattoos like tiny ribbons of fire.
I give the author major props for exploring the substantive issue of rape, and I thought she handled the psychological aspects quite well. Both Lucas and his father blamed themselves for the mother's death, and that resulting shame created a deep chasm of silence between them. And I adored the way Jacqueline helped Lucas know the truth:
What a treat to read this Christmas novella about the MacKinnon brothers, Scottish-American warriors in eighteenthThe MacKinnon Brothers' Happy Ending
What a treat to read this Christmas novella about the MacKinnon brothers, Scottish-American warriors in eighteenth century New York. I loved Ian in Surrender, Morgan in Untamed, and Connor in Defiant. Each brother met an incredible woman in his story, and now the three couples live in wedded bliss on the MacKinnon farm, eager to celebrate the birth of Christ with their collective families.
But when the brothers discover the dastardly British never paid their fellow Rangers for 5 years of military service, they know they must right this wrong. So they head to Albany to seek reparation for the men who fought with them. The last time they headed to Albany, they were wrongfully accused of murder and forced into military service, leading to imprisonment and whippings. Naturally they fear a similar outcome, but their bravery compels them to take care of their men.
I continue to enjoy the shades of grey of Wentworth, the man who engineered the brothers' downfall years ago. Can he redeem himself? Earn forgiveness from the brothers?
Pamela Clare, one of my favorite authors, knows how to write strong women. Morgan's wife Amalie uses some of her considerable wealth to buy Christmas gifts to make life better at the farm. One is a massive, unruly bull.
The bull bellowed and turned as if to run, the sudden motion causing Farmer Fairley to drop the rod. For a moment, Amalie feared the bull would charge the poor farmer, perhaps even gore him.
Without thinking, she stepped between the farmer and the terrified animal, raised her hand, and struck the bull as hard as she could on its nose. "Non!"
It quietened at once, turning its head to gaze at her.
Any fear she'd felt subsided. She took the rope from a startled Farmer Fairley, then chastised the bull in her native tongue. "Comporte-toi bien ou tu seras castre et finiras dans ma marmite!"
Behave, or you will be gelded and put in my stewpot!
I loved these honorable hottie heroes getting the good lives they deserve....more
I've read almost every novel by romance author Pamela Clare but I finally had the pleasure of delving into the one sAnother Great Read by Pamela Clare
I've read almost every novel by romance author Pamela Clare but I finally had the pleasure of delving into the one series I haven't read: Kenleigh/Blackwell Family Saga. And it's another winner!
In 1730, Alec Kenleigh owns a shipbuilding company in London. His ne'er-do-well younger brother Philip is an alcoholic up to all sorts of mischief. When Alec decides to withhold money until Philip gets his act together, Philip threatens that he'll regret it.
Months later, Cassie Blackwell lives in eighteenth century Virginia but has a modern sensibility about the role of women. She's feisty and strong, and secretly runs a huge tobacco plantation because her father is incapacitated by dementia. When it's time to buy slaves off the boat, her heart goes out to a badly beaten Englishman convict, and she decides to buy him (basically saving his life). His reported crime? Ravishment of women, aka rape.
Turns out the suspected convict is Alec Kenleigh. Someone wanted him out of the picture and swapped his identity with a dead prisoner. But nobody in America believes his story. He will have to serve 14 years as an indentured servant unless he can prove his real identity.
Cassie starts to question his reported crimes when she witnesses Alec's strong work ethic and kindness toward her young brother. She's under great pressure to hide her father's infirmity -- no way a woman could be CEO of the estate back then -- and her pressure only builds with the growing attraction she feels toward Alec. As an unmarried woman, she would risk everything by having sex with him.
Alec, unfortunately, can't get Cassie out of his head. He doesn't want to ruin her reputation but all he can think about is bedding her. The Virginia summer isn't the only part of the story that's steamy!
Pamela Clare is masterful at creating strong heroines and honorable heroes, and Cassie and Alec definitely fit the bill. Alec is slightly pompous but quite lovable. I enjoyed learning about the tobacco farms and the morays of that time. I felt sickened reading about slaves, particularly how the villainous Crichton family treated them. Geoffrey Crichthon is an odious man who lusts for Cassie but will never deserve her sweet attention, and he vows to make Alec pay for that.
There are elements of suspense and imprisonment (yay!) and interesting characters like the Native American healer Takotah. At times I had trouble keeping the bondsmen, bondswomen, and slaves apart, and there are some plot elements that were a little clunky (like the identity of Alec's betrayer and Alec's slowness in appreciating Cassie's wishes about where to live). But this was a page turner that I devoured, and I can't wait for Carnal Gift, book two in the series....more
Mia Sheridan, from my hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio, is fast becoming one of my favorite authors. When I met her at the QPorn Star With a Heart of Gold
Mia Sheridan, from my hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio, is fast becoming one of my favorite authors. When I met her at the Queen City Indie Con, told her how much I loved Archer's Voice, and asked for a recommendation for my next read, she suggested Stinger. I'm so glad she did!
Grace Hamilton is Type A all the way. She's a law student who plans to graduate in two years (who the hell can accomplish that?) She attends a law student conference in Las Vegas and notices there's another conference happening at the Bellagio. What is it? The Adult Entertainment Expo. Law students and porn stars together in one hotel? Tee hee.
When Grace bumps into hotel guest by the elevators, she sees his conference name tag and assumes he's another law student, until she reads:
Carson Stinger Straight Male Performer Adult Entertainment Expo
He was about my age with sandy colored hair that was just a little too long and curling up at the ends, and one of those handsome faces that manages to be both manly and boyish at the same time. Simultaneously rugged and pretty. His hazel eyes were fringed with thick, dark lashes, his nose straight and his full lips curved into a half-smile.
Grace feels flustered and Carson feels amused.
"Well, have a good time ... er, a nice time, um, enjoy," I gestured toward his name tag, "the show. Or rather, not the show, but the ... well, enjoy the weekend."
And that's when he burst out laughing, deepening the tiny dimple by his mouth. "I will, Buttercup. And you enjoy your weekend too. Let me guess, law student conference?"
I started to walk around him, but stopped when I heard the clearly condescending nickname and the amusement in his voice. "Yes, actually. Is there something wrong with that?"
"No, not at all. Looks like we're both here to learn how to be the best at getting people off."
Ha ha ha! He's a live one. It doesn't seem possible for these two to have any sort of future, but Carson's quite the charmer, and Grace doesn't know how much she needs a little levity in her life.
I enjoyed the mystery as to why Carson calls her "Buttercup", and it's sweet when he talks her down from a panic attack. Carson's merciless teasing when he discovers Grace's favorite movie is Titanic (mine too!) cracks me up. At one point they're watching the beautiful fountain show at the Bellagio and "My Heart Goes On" plays over the speakers. Then they're in the pool and Carson spends hours trying to convince Grace that two people can fit on a small raft.
Both characters have sadness in their backgrounds that fostered some personality flaws. After her brother died, Grace became the overachieving caretaker in her family, putting her father's and younger sisters' needs ahead of her own. At her worst she's a rigid control freak who tries to make everyone else happy. But with Carson's encouragement, she begins to speak her voice with her father.
He sighed. "Gracie, I'm sorry I never made it clear to you that your happiness was important to me. You stepped right in and started taking care of this family when your mom left. I saw it and I let you do it, and that probably wasn't fair to you."
"No, Dad," I said quickly, shaking my head. "I wanted to do that. It made me feel like I was doing something to make things better for everyone. Better for you."
"You were darlin', but I should have made that more my job, than yours. It was too much pressure for a kid. And you always put enough pressure on yourself as it was."
Insightful words from Grace's father.
Carson's mother was also a porn star, and his chaotic upbringing leads him to believe he's not worthy beyond his good looks. Grace helps him challenge his low self-worth. But how can a porn star offer anything of substance to a woman like Grace? Carson's desire for her leads him to a huge life change, and I love how his background ties into the risks he later takes to help victims.
There are some minor editing errors, like misspelling blonde, two characters speaking in the same paragraph, and the inclusion of copyrighted song lyrics (unless the author obtained permission to use them).
What a beautiful story about two wounded people helping each other develop and grow. It's also a hot and humorous adventure! As Carson says, "Life is wild."...more
While I've heard good things about this story, I only read about one-fifth of the novel before deciding it's not for me. I prefer a tighterNot For Me
While I've heard good things about this story, I only read about one-fifth of the novel before deciding it's not for me. I prefer a tighter writing style with more creativity and less repetition. I knew exactly where the plot headed, and the characterization seemed cliche.
The last straw was at the music fair when Kellan gave the stuffed animal he won to the little girl who dropped her ice cream cone. *rolls eyes* I get that he is a kind person--I don't need to be knocked over the head with that obvious ploy.
If the book wasn't 500+ pages, I might have continued, but my difficulties with the story combined with the length made me decide not to finish. If you give it a try, I hope you enjoy it more than I did!...more
A Woman in Search of Her O, And Clive the Cat Steals the Show
While I giggled throughout Alice Clayton's debut novel The Unidentified Redhead, this booA Woman in Search of Her O, And Clive the Cat Steals the Show
While I giggled throughout Alice Clayton's debut novel The Unidentified Redhead, this book stepped up the zany fun to the point I was laughing almost every page! Added to the humor was compelling characterization, crisp dialogue, and emotional punch that made this a definite 5 star read for me.
Interior designer Caroline Reynolds (hey I just realized that's the name of the evil vice president from the TV show Prison Break) moves into a San Francisco apartment. Her mischievous cat Clive comes with her, but her orgasm does not. It's been missing for months after a not-so-sexy rapid-fire bed battle with her ex Cory, and Caroline is climbing the walls to get it back. It doesn't help when her bedroom wall bangs with the sexcapades of her neighbor Simon and his "harem", including the spankee, giggler, and meower. The meower totally turns Clive on.
They say when a soldier loses a leg in battle, sometimes, late at night, he can still feel twinges of that leg -- phantom pain, they call it. I lost my O in battle, the battle of Cory Weinstein, that machine-gun fucker -- and I was still feeling the aftershocks. I'd been feeling twinges of the phantom O all week long.
One night Caroline dons a pink nightie to get in the mood and starts fantasizing about George Clooney. She's about to recapture her missing O when the banging interrupts her, and she flies next door to chew out her man-whore neighbor. It's the beginning of a hilarious wallbanger of a romance.
Caroline has no filter, much to the delight of her best friends Sophia and Mimi:
"So, has he been wall banging at all this week?" Sophia asked. "Relatively quiet, actually. Either he really listened to me and is being neighborly, or his dick finally broke off in one of them and he's sought medical attention," I said, a little too loudly. The table of businessmen must've been listening pretty closely as they all choked a little just then and shifted in their seats, perhaps crossing their legs in unwitting sympathy.
Like Caroline, I am dying to visit Spain, and when she discovers that Simon is an international photographer with an upcoming trip to Spain, she likes him even more. When Simon discovers Caroline bakes bread, he goes all mushy. Clive thinks they're both nuts.
"You smell GREAT when you're all worked up," he said, waggling his eyebrows at me like the devil. "Seriously, you pick women up with lines like that?" I turned away from him to take off my jacket and squeeze my thighs together maniacally. Clive came bounding out of the bedroom when he heard my voice and stopped short when he saw Simon. Unfortunately, he had little traction on the hardwood floor and skidded rather ungracefully under the dining room table, Trying to regain his dignity, he executed a difficult four-foot leap from a standing position onto the bookshelf and waved me over with his paw. He wanted me to come to him -- typical male. I dropped my gym bag and sauntered over. "Hi, sweet boy. How was your day? Hmm? Did you play? Did you get a good nap?" I scratched behind his ear, and he purred loudly. He gave me his dreamy cat eyes and then turned his gaze to Simon. I swear he cat-smirked at him. "Zucchini bread, huh? You want some more, I take it?" I asked. "I know you have more. Simon says gimme it," he deadpanned, making his finger into a gun. "You're oddly into your baked goods, aren't you? Support group for that?"
Clive gets jealous of any man pursuing "the feeder" Caroline. This balloon won't last long.
While the last fourth of the book didn't hold quite the screwball humor and pacing of the prior chapters, overall I loved the story. I adored the unique POV of the last chapter. I thought Clive might turn the bottles of sand into a litter box!
The Asshole and the Bitch: Fun, Unconventional Romance
Let's be honest, pornos aren't known for their riveting story lines. So why does wicked Warren wThe Asshole and the Bitch: Fun, Unconventional Romance
Let's be honest, pornos aren't known for their riveting story lines. So why does wicked Warren watch porn non-stop? The reason relates to the feelings he has for bitchy Bridgette, his roommate. Their evolving relationship is full of conflict, originality, and humor.
Warren is a college student who manages a band. He lives with one band member, Ridge (the hero of Maybe Someday), as well as Bridgette and their new roommate Sydney. I loved Ridge and Sydney's relationship (see my 5 star review here). While Warren doesn't exactly give Sydney a warm welcome, Bridgette spits fire at her, and it's great to glean an understanding of what makes each character tick in this companion novella.
There's more to Bridgette than meets the eye. When we learn that she's had a rougher childhood than Ridge, we know it's gotta be bad. And the only person to coax some vulnerability out from behind that tough exterior is a man who matches her hard shell: Warren.
Warren and Bridgette's banter made me laugh:
"You kiss like you're trying to resuscitate a dead cat," she says, disgusted. "You kiss like you ARE a dead cat." She pulls her knees up to her chest and wraps her arms around them. She looks extremely uncomfortable in the silence, so it doesn't surprise me when she spits out another insult. "You probably fuck like a limp noodle." "I fuck like I'm Thor." I'm not looking at her, but I know that comment had to make her smile.
I also giggled when they "move in together".
Colleen Hoover is a rock star, and I love her characterization. Since this novella came as a surprise, I'm wondering if we will get another story from Ridge's brother Brennan's point-of-view....more
A Second Chance at Love--This Time the Sex Actually Satisfies!
This is a quick, fun read that I devoured in one sitting.
Allison is depressed after herA Second Chance at Love--This Time the Sex Actually Satisfies!
This is a quick, fun read that I devoured in one sitting.
Allison is depressed after her divorce. Her husband was nothing like the handsome and strong Jesse, her best friend's brother she pined for as a teen. The straight and narrow life of her marriage didn't work for her, so she boldly decides to try a BDSM club. Will venturing into life as a submissive provide the spark she's missing?
Her first assigned Dom comes as quite a surprise: Jesse, her former crush! And has he ever filled out nicely. But how will they negotiate this new type of relationship? And will Allison's best friend disapprove of Allison and her brother hooking up?
I enjoyed the sexiness and humor of this novella.
I went with ultra-casual tonight, kind of like wearing your "fat pants" to Thanksgiving dinner. You know that food baby is coming, so you prepare. Yoga pants and an old college sweatshirt.
Nah, I think my favorite is still Hopeless and its companion novel Losing Hope. But I also lovedMaybe Someday!
CMaybe My Favorite Colleen Hoover Read?
Nah, I think my favorite is still Hopeless and its companion novel Losing Hope. But I also lovedMaybe Someday!
College student Sydney lives with her boyfriend Hunter and best friend Tori in a Texas apartment. At night she studies on the balcony and listens to a guy play his guitar from his balcony across the courtyard. His music is soulful, and she finds herself singing her own lyrics to the songs.
Ridge is the guitar player across the way. He's in a band with his brother Brennan and roommate Warren, but he has writer's block for writing lyrics. When he catches Sydney singing to his songs, he's intrigued. Would she mind telling him those lyrics?
When Ridge convinces Sydney to text the lyrics, he tells her how amazing they are. And that compliment makes Sydney feel pretty good:
The words he just texted were like stairs stacked one on top of the other, and each compliment was like me running up each step until I reached the top of the damn world.
Things turn to hell when Sydney discovers her boyfriend cheating with her best friend. She moves out in a huff, only to find she has nowhere to go. Ridge invites her to stay in the empty bedroom at his place. YEAH!
Sydney learns three key facts about Ridge: 1) he's deaf, 2) he has a deep connection with his hot girlfriend, and 3) Sydney is falling in love with him. No matter what happens, Sydney doesn't want Ridge to become the cheating Hunter nor for her to become the "other woman" Tori. But what to do when the attraction is so freaking strong?
Desire is easy to fight. Especially when the only weapon desire possesses is attraction. It's not so easy when you're trying to win a war against the heart.
The heart is a constant theme in this story. Sydney's head might tell her one thing, but her heart tells her another. Since Ridge is deaf, he is more in tune with his heartbeat than the average person, and that plays an important role in his attraction to Sydney. And hearing each other's heartbeat is a deciding factor for both of them.
To fight their attraction, they try to repulse each other by sharing their flaws. Hilarious!
Me: One time in high school, I spent the night at a girl's house who I didn't know very well. We made out. I wasn't into it, and it was really gross, but I was seventeen and curious. Ridge: No. That does NOT count as a flaw, Sydney. Jesus Christ, work with me here. Me: I like the smell of puppy breath. Ridge: Better. I can't hear my own farts, so sometimes I'll forget that other people can hear them. Me: Oh, my God. Yes, this is the type of thing that definitely sheds a different light on you.
I also loved the music element of the story. Hoover returns to her roots of slam poetry by writing beautiful lyrics. I haven't heard any of Griffin Peterson's songs yet but I hope to soon. The lyrics from Where She Went were more emotional for me, but Sydney and Ridge's lyrics are still compelling and meaningful.
I thought the author deftly handled Ridge's deafness. How Sydney responds to his disability makes him fall for her more:
She understands me. She respects me. She astounds me. She predicts me. She's never once, since the second I met her, made me feel as if my inability to hear is even an inability at all.
The reason Ridge doesn't verbalize is heartbreaking, and I love the wounded male characters the author creates. Now, I have a little theory I want to share. I happened to read Ugly Love before this one, and unfortunately Ugly Love was my least favorite from this author, partly because the characters rarely speak. I wanted more of Colleen Hoover's funny, snarky, revealing dialogue! After reading Ridge's story, I kind of wonder if the author became accustomed to writing more internal and less loquacious characters? Just a thought.
Luckily, obnoxious Warren's story is releasing tomorrow as a novella, so I don't have to wait to get more Colleen Hoover, yay!...more
When my book club chose this story about a 1920's married couple building a child out of snow, I was doubtfulThe Thin Line Between Reality and Fantasy
When my book club chose this story about a 1920's married couple building a child out of snow, I was doubtful I would enjoy it. But I'm glad I gave it a try because this book was a delight!
Mabel and Jack have endured quite a few sadnesses in their years of marriage, but the most notable is their inability to conceive following the stillborn death of their first child. Motherless Mabel feels less than whole as a woman, and Jack feels helpless to ease her pain. Perhaps in an effort to escape their grief, they leave family in Pennsylvania to relocate to Alaska, where they try to farm the harsh, desolate land.
The first snowstorm brings out Mabel's playful side, and when she throws a snowball at her over-worked husband, he seems to come alive as well. They build a snowman (snow-girl) and dress her with a scarf and mittens. The next morning the showgirl has disappeared. But then a blond pixie girl who lives in the snowy forest starts showing up to the homestead. Did they create this girl out of snow?
This story is magical. I love the blurred lines between cynical realism and whimsical fantasy. There is also excellent characterization. I grew to love Mabel and Jack, and the little girl fascinated me. But my favorite character was their outspoken neighbor Esther, who reminded me of Kathy Bates on steroids. They grow 'em tough in Alaska!
Amazingly, this is a debut novel, and the author captures the vast beauty of her home state of Alaska exquisitely:
Everything was sparkled and sharp, as if the world were new, hatched that very morning from an icy egg. Willow branches were cloaked in hoarfrost, waterfalls encased in ice, and the snowy land speckled with the tracks of a hundred wild animals: red-backed voles, coyotes and fox, fat-footed lynx, moos and dancing magpies.
I read this as we got an early snowfall in Ohio--perfect timing. I have some questions about the ending and I look forward to discussing them in book club. Highly recommended!...more
"There's souls not at rest here. It's a troubled place, this."
A historical romance set in Chicago, one of my favorite citieSecret Lives, Secret Deaths
"There's souls not at rest here. It's a troubled place, this."
A historical romance set in Chicago, one of my favorite cities? Sign me up! The classy cover also drew me in.
In the year 2000, 25-year-old Kate moves into an apartment complex that used to be a 1920's hotel. She meets a cast of quirky elderly neighbors who report they didn't find the former tenant Olive in the apartment until three days after her death. *shudders* Then Kate gets locked in her bathroom, and it feels like she's not alone. Eek!
Kate works at a museum with her boyfriend Dexter. While Dexter is sweet, he's no Jake Ryan from Sixteen Candles. (The 80s and 90s references make me happy.) Kate also feels intrigued by her hottie neighbor and wants to take a break from her relationship with Dex. (Anyone who knows the Ross/Rachel saga from Friends worries this won't turn out well.)
As Kate gets to know spunky Vera and kind-hearted Leo from the geriatric crowd, they tell her more about the ghostly Olive and her older sister Eva from the well-to-do 1920's Hughes family. The story then travels back through time to the scene of a decadent house party, full of flappers and moonshine. Bachelor Lon meanders through the crowd with cynical distaste, until he comes upon an "exquisite nymph" of a woman, Eva.
Lon first notices Eva's eyes:
They burned with a jade green he'd once seen in a great bonfire, the hottest of flames devouring all they came into contact with.
A bit of foreshadowing, perhaps? Sadly, Eva is betrothed to a man from another of Chicago's socially elite families. But Lon won't give up easily.
The historical romances in the 20s and 00s gradually pulled me in deeper to the point that it felt like I lived in Camden Court myself. The descriptive writing style authentically captures the proper debauchery and impending sense of doom from the twenties. This is a long novel, which allows both stories to unfold at their own pace (unlike my dissatisfaction with jamming two stories into one in Ugly Love).
One story has a happy ending and the other ends on a tragic note, but a common thread woven throughout is the search for love with the right partner, no matter how tangled the threads (or bonds) of life become. Kate's friend Blair tells it so well:
"Kate, trust me. When a guy's genuinely into you, the rules don't apply. Real love isn't a game, and that's how you'll know it when you see it. You'll recognize The One when you aren't overanalyzing him. You'll just ... be, and it'll play out organically."
And Kate responds:
"Why do I always feel like Enya should be playing in the background of your advice? I can almost smell herbal incense spraying out of my phone." Hehe....more
This Young Adult suspense was a book club read, and an entertaining one at that.
Cady (love her name)We Were Rich Kids Summering on an Island Until...
This Young Adult suspense was a book club read, and an entertaining one at that.
Cady (love her name) and her three cousins hail from the Sinclair family, an upper-crust clan that summers on a private island off Martha's Vineyard. They read, swim, play tennis, and avoid their younger siblings ("The Littles") each summer before returning to their school lives elsewhere. Cousin Johnny is bounce, effort, and snark. Cousin Mirren is sugar, curiosity, and rain. Cady tolerates Johnny and Mirren, but she loves Gat (the nephew of her aunt's boyfriend) who is ambition and coffee.
The author touches on class and race dynamics by exploring the romance between Caucasian Cady and Indian Gat, as well as through intriguing fairy tales that echo the family dysfunction. Gat senses the family patriarch's disdain so much that he compares himself to Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights.
Cady's father swiftly leaves her mother for another woman when she is fifteen, and that's just the beginning to a dramatic summer. "The accident" leaves Cady with post-concussion syndrome and unreliable narrator syndrome. What exactly happened that summer?
Maybe I was hungry when I read this, but I think E. Lockhart should write cookbooks. She makes their meals sound tantalizing!
The rest of us were eating grilled swordfish with basil sauce. There was a salad of yellow tomatoes and a casserole of zucchini with a crust of Parmesan cheese.
That first afternoon we spread out food on an old picnic blanket. We eat Portuguese sweet bread and runny cheeses in small wooden boxes. Berries in green cardboard. Cold bottles of fizzy lemonade.
Overall I enjoyed this story but felt let down by the big reveal. It reminded me of a shocking movie (I won't say the title to avoid spoilers) without the emotional punch. But it was unique and well-written....more
I loved Beck Anderson's debut novel Fix You, so I jumped at the chance to read an ARC of her second novel, The JewelIntriguing Plot, Quirky Characters
I loved Beck Anderson's debut novel Fix You, so I jumped at the chance to read an ARC of her second novel, The Jeweler. When I heard about the clever plot, I was even more excited.
Fender Barnes is a cynical jeweler who regards his eager, love-struck, engagement-ring-buying customer Brad with disdain. Love isn't real, right? But then Brad dies in a car accident right outside the jewelry shop, and Fender knows he needs to get the ring to its intended recipient: Ginger Stevens. But Fender never does anything right or easily, and when he sees the grieving woman at Brad's funeral, things go pear-shaped.
Ginger is a ski instructor who's stunned by her boyfriend's death. She's "love, light, green eyes, and freckles." Just like in Fix You, the author's portrayal of grief is authentic and eloquent:
The house was filled with his things, their things together. What upset her was looking at all the mundane stuff. Toothbrush. Who cared about his toothbrush? How could she get rid of it, though? A person accumulated stuff, never figuring he wouldn't be around to tie up the loose ends. Brad had arrogant, unfinished stuff, like half-drunk Gatorade bottles in the fridge.
In Fix You, the heroine's husband died. In The Jeweler, the heroine's almost-fiance kicks the bucket. Which begs the question: is Beck Anderson's husband worried at all? ;-) I hope he's exercising and taking his fish oil.
There's a host of wacky side characters, including Fender's dad "Pop", a man with some romantic tricks up his sleeve, and his bff Sam, a slovenly guy who shows his affection the best way a male buddy can: by insulting the hell out of Fender.
As per usual, Pop focused on the woman in the conversation. "Fender went after a girl? Really? Does this mean little Sandy didn't make you swear off women forever?" Sam brightened. "I'd almost forgotten about Sandy. Isn't she the one that wrote I HATE YOU with weed killer on your front lawn?"
I love the understated humor.
Jewelry customers Jimmy the mobster and his bling-seeking girlfriend Naomi provide some color as well. Naomi has a heart-to-heart with Fender:
"That's what my therapist says. She says no woman should be bought for a shiny piece of glass." Fender realized he was in the wrong profession, obviously. He should be blowing smoke up somebody's ass for a hundred bucks an hour.
Hey! Therapists make way more than $100 an hour now, hehe.
This is a sweet and subtle love story, and I encourage you to give it a try!...more
I've been wanting to read this Young Adult romance for some time. I've read raving reviews and the cover is adorable.Completely Original and Endearing
I've been wanting to read this Young Adult romance for some time. I've read raving reviews and the cover is adorable.
Eleanor is sixteen, with a mop of wild red hair and a fashion sense straight out of Goodwill and her flair for creativity. She's so different from other high school students that sadly they bully her. The 1986 setting means there's little awareness about bullying, and no help for Eleanor. What makes the bullying at school even more painful is that Eleanor is also bullied at home. Her mother is with a despicable man named Richie who's one of the creepiest and meanest stepfathers I've encountered, and they live in poverty.
Park is sixteen, with a Korean mother and American father and a much stabler home situation. He loves punk rock and superhero comics, and doesn't quite fit in with his jock friends. There's an atypical depth to him.
When Eleanor has nowhere to sit on the bus, she's force to cram next to Park. There, an unlikely friendship begins, and blossoms to more out of sheer desperation.
The writing is exquisite, like this description of the exuberant English teacher:
"So, you're going to memorize a poem," Mr. Stressman continued, pausing a moment to smile down at Park like Gene Wilder in the chocolate factory.
When Park first holds Eleanor's hand:
Or maybe, he thought now, he just didn't recognize all those other girls. The way a computer drive will spit out a disk if it doesn't recognize the formatting. When he touched Eleanor's hand, he recognized her. He knew.
If you've ever wondered what that feels like, it's a lot like melting--but more violent. Even in a million different pieces, Eleanor could still feel Park holding her hand. Could still feel his thumb exploring her palm. She sat completely still because she didn't have any other option. She tried to remember what kind of animals paralyzed their prey before they ate them... Maybe Park had paralyzed her with his ninja magic, his Vulcan handhold, and now he was going to eat her. That would be awesome.
Park's mother is wary of this girl from the other side of the tracks, but when she sees Eleanor with all her siblings, all grubbily dressed, she changes her tune.
"I come from big family," his mom said. "Three little sisters, Three little brothers...In big family, everything...everybody spread so thin. Thin like paper, you know?...Nobody gets enough," she said. "Nobody gets what they need. When you always hungry, you get hungry in your head."
What a spot-on description of Eleanor's home life, where she doesn't even have a toothbrush.
This is an extraordinary romance between two ordinary young adults. I love how these two aren't gorgeous or super-talented. The last fourth of the book fizzled a bit for me, but otherwise it's a wonderful read....more
What a thought-provoking romance! It's rare for me to feel such fondness for the hero and the heroine, butThe Course of True Love Never Did Run Smooth
What a thought-provoking romance! It's rare for me to feel such fondness for the hero and the heroine, but I loved both Daniel and Aubrey. It's also rare for me to understand Shakespeare, but Georgina Guthrie provides an excellent guide to the Bard in this story.
Aubrey Price starts her last year at the University of Toronto with a tight budget, a set of close friends, and a passion for all things Shakespeare. She works as an assistant to Dean Grant in addition to taking a heavy course load. The TA for her Shakespeare course is Dean Grant's son Daniel, who's scruffy and gorgeous. Aubrey tries to suppress her attraction to Daniel's forbidden fruit due to the anti-fraternization policy. (Good luck, Aubrey.)
Daniel is a puzzle. He crisply calls her "Miss Price", at times seeming standoffish and pompous. At other times he smiles warmly and appears impressed by her depth of knowledge and wit.
Daniel had been livid with me, which was definitely not without its strange appeal. Angry-Daniel was something to behold. But then he was Tail-Between-His-Legs-Daniel, followed shortly afterward by Tiny-Piece-of-Heart-on-His-Sleeve-Daniel. The episode was rounded out nicely by Dimpled-Smile-and-Lip-Biting-Daniel. Smorgasbord, right?
Aubrey has no idea how he feels about her until Dean Grant invites her to a family dinner and Daniel unexpectedly shows up. When he has one drink too many, he reveals his true feelings.
O God, that men should put an enemy in their mouths to steal away their brains! that we should, with joy, pleasance, revel, and applause, transform ourselves into beasts! ~William Shakespeare, Othello
Hehe. Before Daniel makes a total beast of himself, he attempts to rein himself in, though it's tough to avoid Aubrey's charm. The secret that likely drives him to drink that night also ups the professional stakes to dangerous levels.
Aubrey has a winsome sense of humor which her roommate Matt draws out of her:
"I didn't know you guys were headed in that direction," I said. "I knew you liked each other. Some nights I could tell you really liked each other." I rattled the headboard, and he shot me a poisonous glare.
Matt also made me laugh:
"I had to get up. My brain was screaming for Advil," he groaned. "And I have the worst case of the zacklies." "What the hell are the zacklies?" "You know, when your mouth tastes zackly like your ass."
The banter between Aubrey and Daniel kept me grinning. Her F-bomb explosions surprise and delight him. His pair of jeans with a hole over the knee makes Aubrey swoon.
"Now tell me," I said, eager to lighten the tone. "Am I going to get a look at one of those sweet knees tonight?" Daniel sighed again. "Don't worry. Mr. Ratty Pants will be making an appearance this evening."
Instructors getting it on with students is abusive and wrong. But this story never feels icky that way. Aubrey is a strong, independent woman and Daniel does his best to exhibit self-control. Can they keep their paws off each other until semester's end? I look forward to finding out in the next two books in the series!
A very little thief of occasion will rob you of a great deal of patience. ~William Shakespeare Coriolanus, Act II, sc. 1...more
I'm dying to visit Spain one day so I enjoyed the setting for this story: Mallorca. Mallorca was summer done right, hot enougRealistic Family Vacation
I'm dying to visit Spain one day so I enjoyed the setting for this story: Mallorca. Mallorca was summer done right, hot enough to swim but not so warm that your clothing stuck to your back. I also enjoyed the dynamics of one family and four romantic couples, with their ups and downs, and the moments of wry humor or clever metaphors. But overall this book club read felt a bit flat.
The Post family (Mom Frannie, Dad Jim, 28-year-old son Bobby, 18-year-old daughter Sylvia) embarks on a two-week vacation to Spain before Sylvia is off to start college at an Ivy League school. Frannie and Jim have had a pretty good marriage, up to the recent time when Jim lost his job due to boinking a young intern. Frannie is understandably ticked off at him.
Luckily Frannie has her bff Charles and his partner Lawrence along for the vacation. Gay men make the best friends and I love the relationship between Frannie and Charles. Charles and Lawrence are secretly hoping to adopt a baby, and receive news in Spain that they're on the short list for a mother who just gave birth.
One guest the family dreads hosting is Bobby's cougar girlfriend Carmen (over 12 years his senior). She's a personal trainer who just doesn't seem to fit in with the rest of the group. I had a tough time getting a feel for her character in particular. She urges Bobby to tell his parents about his money problems but he's quite embarrassed.
Sylvia is reeling from a disaster back home in NYC where photos of her kissing multiple boys at a booze-fest surfaced on social media. Fortunately, she has hot Spanish tutor Joan to help soothe her social standing. As her mother observes, Being eighteen was like being make out of rubber and cocaine.
The characters are somewhat interesting but didn't jump off the page for me. I guess I like Frannie the best--she's a talented cook with a real middle-age body and an appreciation for food and the finer things in life. She's caring but not selfless. Another "character" I liked was the swimming pool out back, a focal point of the house.
A good swimming pool could do that -- make the rest of the world seem impossibly insignificant, as far away as the surface of the moon.
As I'm writing this review, I wonder if this family is so realistic that they seem a bit boring!...more
If you don't know Archer Hale yet, what are you waiting for? He's one of the sweetest book heroes I've met.
Bree is a recent coSweet and Honorable Hero
If you don't know Archer Hale yet, what are you waiting for? He's one of the sweetest book heroes I've met.
Bree is a recent college graduate whose father was just murdered by a man robbing their family deli. She flees from the tragedy to Maine, a peaceful location on the lake. As she settles in, she makes a trip to the drugstore, where she runs into a bearded man whose longish hair and ratty clothes belie a set of beautiful whiskey-colored eyes: Archer.
Their first meeting is noteworthy in that Bree's bag of drugstore purchases breaks, spilling Almond Joy bars and of course tampons that roll toward Archer's feet. *dies*
Their journey toward love is so endearing, including sharing clever lists and sign language. I especially enjoyed when Bree made a list of names for the puppies that matched Archer's uncle's Soviet paranoia.
Archer lacks experience with most aspects of life, including sex. But he's a quick learner, according to Bree:
I thought dazedly how much of this dance between a man and a woman was pure instinct, pure unspoken communication...
When I leaned back, his face broke into a huge grin. Oh God, my heart. My heart couldn't take those grins. They were too much -- too beautiful and too overwhelming. I laughed at the smug look on his face.
This really is a coming-of-age story for both characters that made me cry with its innocence and insight into love. And I liked feeling surprised by some of the suspense elements of the story.
The setting of Maine is perfect and I love that Bree and the author are from Cincinnati, my hometown. Hopefully I'll meet the author at the Queen City Indie Con October 24 & 25, 2014.
There are some things I question about the story. I think the editing could have been a little tighter, knocking out repeated "nodding my head" or "shrugging my shoulders". I also believe the impact of Archer's back story becomes muted when he remembers a tragic scene from his past then later tells the flashback to Bree. I think the history would be more powerful without the retelling. The ending of the story is a little saccharine for me, as well.
But overall, this is a lovely New Adult romance....more
I read some excellent reviews for this adult romance/erotica/psychological thriller (I'm not even sure what genrFabulous Twist, Questionable Execution
I read some excellent reviews for this adult romance/erotica/psychological thriller (I'm not even sure what genre to label Black Lies) and decided to jump in to try it for myself. While the plot twist was stunning, I failed to experience a huge "a-ha" moment when reading. I think this is because I didn't feel completely drawn into the characters, particularly Brant. And then my nerdy psychology career interfered with my enjoyment of the twist because of the inaccuracies.
Layana hails from a wealthy family that controls her every move. When she breaks free, she insists on living her own life, which includes dating the computer tech gazillionaire Brant. They have mucho sex. At first I thought "How did I start reading ANOTHER billionaire erotica?" *rolls eyes* But then things get interesting when Layana meets Lee, a landscaper with immense sex appeal who is everything the refined Brant is not.
It appears that Layana is cheating on the man who loves her, which makes it tough to like her. Lee has a girlfriend, and Layana's cruel attempts to break them up represent another strike against her. Can she be redeemed?
The story flips from present to past and I had trouble keeping track of the timeline. Apparently Layana has been with Brant for three years and Lee for two. Infidelity rarely stays secret, and if the men find out about each other, explosions will rip hearts apart.
In order to avoid spoilers, I won't say much about the psychological aspects other than many of them are not quite right. I understand that authors need to take liberties to make their stories work, but the inaccuracies still bothered me.
Recommended for those who love erotica and great plot twists. ...more
I would choose another title for this story, because Colleen Hoover never writes anything that's ugly. And "Ugly Love" makes me think ofTraumatic Love
I would choose another title for this story, because Colleen Hoover never writes anything that's ugly. And "Ugly Love" makes me think of hostile arguments, violence, and deeply dysfunctional characters a la The Silver Linings Playbook or The War of the Roses. This story is more about a drowning man who tries to claw his way back to the surface after suffering a trauma. Hopefully he won't drag the heroine down to the depths with him on his journey.
Tate Collins is a fresh college graduate who moves in with her brother Corbin in San Francisco as she pursues her master's degree in nursing. Corbin and his friends are airline pilots, an interesting profession. (And those pilot uniforms are sexy!) When Tate first arrives to her brothers apartment, one such pilot is drunk, propped up against the door. Why is there such sadness in his sky-blue eyes?
The next morning Tate finds out the hungover man is Miles Archer from across the hall. She feels instantly attracted, but Miles barely speaks to her. Because 25-year-old Miles hasn't been with a woman for 6 years, Corbin believes he's gay. But the smoldering looks Miles gives Tate challenge that hypothesis.
The story is told in alternating viewpoints between Tate and Miles, and between present and past. While Tate pines for the emotionally unavailable Miles, Miles shares his relationship with Rachel, a girl he met in high school who ended up being a forbidden love. While Tate agrees to a sex-only relationship with Miles in the present, Miles develops a deep attachment to Rachel in the past.
While I sometimes enjoy bouncing from the present to the past, I think this format prevented me from truly getting to know the characters, because there's not enough time for either storyline. It's like there are two incomplete stories in this book. First, I don't have a good handle on Tate. Why is she so quiet? What is her family background? What drew her to nursing? Why does she put up with such a dissatisfying relationship? Then there's Miles. I didn't really care about his relationship with Rachel at first, because I had no idea who Rachel was. I got frustrated when things would heat up between him and Tate, followed by a jarring shift back to him and Rachel.
I have mixed feelings about the poetic style of Miles's POV. It was sometimes difficult to follow on the page, but I like how the author takes risks and tries new things. The whole "it's my new favorite spoon" or "new favorite word" is getting a little repetitive, so I like fresh approaches.
We don't get to hear about Miles's feelings for Tate until the very end, when the past catches up to the present, which feels unfinished to me.
Another aspect of the story interfering with character development, in my opinion, is the lack of dialogue. Colleen Hoover has a gift for writing funny, realistic banter, and I missed that here. Brooding Miles rarely speaks, and Tate isn't loquacious either. To have both characters fall mute for much of the story makes it hard to connect with them.
Still, I stayed up until 2:30 a.m. finishing this book. The story gains momentum about halfway through, and I had to see what happened to turn Miles into such a sad man. This story reminds me of the movie Angel Eyes with Jim Caviezel. Colleen Hoover excels at writing wounded men who are kind, intelligent, and competent. The one novel of hers I haven't read yet is Maybe Someday and I'm looking forward to it!
Recommended for: Readers of New Adult, romance, and redemption stories....more
Thank you to Karla for alerting me about this novella when I posted my review of Protecting What's His. I loved Ginger and DerekGood Companion Novella
Thank you to Karla for alerting me about this novella when I posted my review of Protecting What's His. I loved Ginger and Derek from that romantic suspense novel, and this novella is a follow-up to their story one year later.
Unfortunately Lieutenant Derek doesn't do such a great job of protecting what's his (aka Ginger) in this story. He has a dangerous police assignment looming, and he doesn't want his woman to worry about him so he avoids telling her about it.
Keeping silent isn't a good idea in the best of circumstances, but given Ginger's insecurities from a loveless childhood, it's a recipe for disaster. His absence festers in her catastrophic thinking. She believes he's going to leave her right as she discovers she's pregnant.
Will he get his head out of his ass?
This novella is short but sweet and I'm glad I got to spend more time with these characters....more
Hopeless and Losing Hope are two of my favorite reads. Too bad it took me a while to figure out this novella isThe Best Friends' Story: Daniel and Six
Hopeless and Losing Hope are two of my favorite reads. Too bad it took me a while to figure out this novella is part of the Hopeless series or I would have jumped on it sooner! The amazing Colleen Hoover wrote this for her fans and gives it away for free. If you've read Hopeless and haven't read this, GET ON IT.
Daniel is Holder's foul-mouthed best friend. He's thrilled that school administrators screwed up his schedule, giving him 5th period free without a scheduled class. How does a resourceful young man spend that hour? Napping in the broom closet, of course!
One day a girl interrupts his slumber and they strike up a conversation. Then they strike up a kiss. Then they strike up a... *fade to black*
Fast forward to months later and Daniel meets Sky's best friend Six, who has been in Italy for some time. Though he's cynical about love after breaking up with his bitch-beast girlfriend Val, he feels instantly drawn to Six. But she has a secret that may threaten their future together.
Nobody can top Holder as book boyfriend extraordinaire for me, but I have to say I LOVE Daniel's humor. The banter between him and Six is priceless.
Six switches her books. "Sky crawls through my window every night. You can't be in my room." "I thought your window was out of commission." "Only to people with penises." I laugh. "What if I told you I didn't have a penis?" She glances at me. "I would probably rejoice. My experiences with people who have penises never end well." I shake my head. "That's not something my penis wants to hear. He has a very sensitive ego." "Well, maybe you should go home after school and stroke his ego a little bit until he feels better."
And I truly appreciate an author who shows good parents in the YA/NA genre--a rare treat.
"You mean all of you hated Val?" My father turns to face me. "Your mother and I are masters at reverse psychology, Danny-boy. Don't act so surprised." I lean against the frame of the door and stare at them. "You guys were just pretending to like Val? What the hell for?" My dad sits at the table and picks up a newspaper. "Children are naturally inclined to make choices that will displease their parents. If we had told you how we really felt about Val, you probably would have ended up marrying her just to spite us. Which is why we pretended to love her." Assholes. All three of them. "You're never meeting another one of my girlfriends again."
The only time I don't give CoHo stories 5 stars is when I believe she goes a little over the top with the drama. I felt that way in Point of Retreat and in this story as well, when Daniel learns Six's secret. I thought the novella would've been stronger without that element, but that's just me. (view spoiler)[So are we to assume that the condom broke? Or maybe he didn't get it on correctly in the dark? (hide spoiler)]
Thank you to Brooke from The Cover Contessa for alerting me to the epilogue available for this story, available here http://www.wattpad.com/story/13919732... . It tied up Sky and Holder's secret, as well as Six and Daniel's secret, nicely.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
This compelling novel demonstrates that premise ten-fold. Love based solely on appearance -- romantic attraction based on the "hotness" factor -- over promises and under delivers. In fact, what's on the inside is more important than what's on the outside. Though we all know this to be true, most romance novels overemphasize the hero's bulging muscles and smoldering gaze, and the heroine's lush, long locks and slim physique.
Now, we do need "good enough" physical chemistry to be attracted. As Ty Tashiro says, "Kissing your partner shouldn't be like eating your vegetables." But we need to get deeper, to the person's inner core, to make love work. And wow does this story do just that. It's a story filled with heart-squeezing emotion and meaning.
Cousins Fern and Bailey are best friends. Fern's red-headed, smart, and spunky, pining for the gorgeous, most popular boy in school but knowing she's way out of his league. Bailey's in a wheelchair due to a muscular wasting disease and expecting to die before he reaches twenty. Sounds maudlin, right?
Wrong. Fern is irrepressible, and Bailey doesn't let a little thing like a fatal disease suppress his free spirit. Not only are these two full of surprises, but the gorgeous boy, state wrestling champion If dark chocolate could sing it would sound like Ambrose Young is far from the stereotypical dumb jock. His larger-than-life persona and wrestling success lead Bailey to nickname him "Hercules". And Ambrose later refers to Bailey's bravery by quoting Shakespeare: The robbed that smiles steals something from the thief.
The emotional depth of this story keeps it real and gut-wrenching, not cheesy at all. I haven't cried so much since Me Before You.
Fern's arduous longing for Ambrose is palpable. I could feel it in my toes. She secretly helps a pretty friend write love notes to Ambrose, and these notes express Fern's inner beauty. But Ambrose feels duped when he discovers the real identity of the poetic writer, making him even more inaccessible to Fern.
The characters navigate their senior year of high school in typical fashion until September 11, 2001 hits. What a spot-on description of the days following the terrorist attack:
In the days and weeks following the attacks on 9/11, life returned to normal, but it felt wrong, like a favorite shirt worn inside out -- still your shirt, still recognizable, but rubbing in all the wrong places, the seams revealed, the tags hanging out, the colors dulled. But unlike the shirt, the sense of wrong couldn't be righted. It was permanent, the new normal.
The setting for the story, Pennsylvania, makes this attack even more unsettling due to the proximity of the downed plane on which passengers fought back. 9/11 affects Ambrose deeply. He wrestles with accepting his wrestling scholarship at Penn State or signing up for the Army.
When Ambrose makes his decision, at times he feels regret.
If he was being honest with himself, he wasn't Hercules and he wasn't The Tin Man. He was The Cowardly Lion. He'd run away from home and brought his friends with him, his security blanket, his very own cheering section. He wondered what the hell he was doing in Oz.
When Ambrose returns home, he's a shell of his former heroic self.
Fern and Ambrose's relationship is twisted and painful. For the first half of the story, she tries to convince him she's worthy of his love. For the second half of the story, she tries to convince him he's worthy of her love. But the pain is well-worth the satisfying conclusion of the story.
Amy Harmon is DEFINITELY an author I'll read again. ...more
I Fell For this Heroine, Her Foul-Mouthed Sister, and Her Yummy Lieutenant Neighbor
I believe my buddy Roche recommended this romantic suspense story tI Fell For this Heroine, Her Foul-Mouthed Sister, and Her Yummy Lieutenant Neighbor
I believe my buddy Roche recommended this romantic suspense story to me, and I thank her for the wonderful recommendation! This is my first Tessa Bailey read but I want to come back for more.
Great first line: To steal or not to steal, that was the question.
Ginger Peet is in her young twenties but has to function as an older adult in terms of caring for her teenage sister Willa. Why is she saddled with this responsibility? Her mother is a drug addict involved with some scary dudes in Tennessee. When Ginger's mother passes out drunk next to her purse full of $50,000, Ginger pauses. Should she take the money and run, to try to give her sister a better life?
Derek Tyler is a 30-year-old police lieutenant in Chicago. He takes his job quite seriously but still has room in his life for humor, as evidenced by his amused curiosity for the two young women moving in across the hall from his apartment. Their life-size Dolly Parton mannequin piques his interest the most. But Ginger's soft Southern drawl, sass, long legs, and cowboy boots are what hold his attention. He can sense these girls have something to hide.
Ginger is equally intrigued.
Well, dang. They'd gone and moved in right across the hall from a cop. A hot cop, if you liked the whole uptight, sexually repressed vibe he had going on. Personally, she didn't care for the belligerence on his freshly shaven face or the way he stripped her bare in one sweep of his dark green eyes.
Yeah, right, Ginger.
Ginger's sad backstory and her strong will in fighting against heavy odds really got to me, and I had a lump in my throat for much of her story. It made her relationships all the more meaningful and poignant.
I have a thing for men in uniform and Derek fits the bill as a swoon-worthy hero. He's an Alpha that doesn't turn me off with his boorish ways, maybe because Ginger clearly loves and needs what he gives to her. The brief spanking scene is actually hot in this.
Ginger's relationship with her sister Willa is endearing. Willa couldn't ask for a better mother figure.
Ginger glanced over her shoulder, smiling at Willa's black Misfits T-shirt and ripped stockings. Somehow Willa managed to pull off the look. "How'd the first day of school go? Did you refrain from setting the place on fire?" "Just barely. I'm choosing my moment." "Well. Don't forget your lighter fluid or it won't take." "Noted."
Of course the sisters won't get away with stealing that amount of money. When the past comes a-calling, can Derek help save them?
Recommended for lovers of contemporary romance and romantic suspense....more
This New Adult romance will be released 8-1-14, and the psychological aspects of the story enticed me to read an advaLove Blooms in Wilderness Program
This New Adult romance will be released 8-1-14, and the psychological aspects of the story enticed me to read an advanced copy.
Kelsie is a 17-year-old cheerleader who’s a hot mess. Her best friend died in a car accident, and Kelsie unfairly blames herself. To numb her emotional pain, she starts self-injuring. While cutting oneself is horrifying, I didn’t fully appreciate the horror until I was right there with Kelsie, feeling her pain and her disgust from taking it out on her body.
To try to curb her harmful behavior, Kelsie’s father sends her to a wilderness therapy program. She is ill-prepared and ticked off, with her huge suitcase and even bigger attitude. But the counselor Chris knows just how to handle her, and Kelsie settles down enough to get through the first day, eventually growing closer to the other teens in the program.
JC is the young man who captures her attention the most. He’s athletic, light-hearted, and also blames himself for a loved one dying.
Keslie tells her story to the woman hired to keep her safe—Marta—after she finishes the program. Therefore, the novel consists of flashbacks, which might not have been the best choice for the pacing of the plot. I thought the story took a while to get going. Also, the nicknames Kelsie bestows on each program participant seemed to interfere with clarity and my connection to the characters.
But once the plot kicks into gear, I was riveted. Another boy in the program has it out for JC, and a brewing storm threatens the safety of the group. That’s when Kelsie is forced to grow up fast, discovering that people may not be what they seem.
I dislike when parents are portrayed as incompetent twits in YA and NA stories. Though Kelsie's stepmother is a shrew, I'm glad her father works hard at redeeming himself.
Kelsie’s interactions with JC provide much-needed lightness given the darkness they’ve experienced. The characters seem to be their age, which I appreciate.
I grab a handful of shirts and organize them by type, short-sleeved or long-sleeved, and color. After a few minutes, JC stands behind me and places his hand around my waist. “You really are OCD.” “Is that a problem for you?” “Yes, that is the final straw. I can handle everything else, but putting my shirts in rainbow order is too much.”
I loved the ending, which left me with a relieved, buoyant feeling. This is a wonderful debut novel! ...more