This novella is an extra to Lia Riley's Off The Map Series. This is the story of one of Talia's best friends, Beth, and one of Bran's friends from aThis novella is an extra to Lia Riley's Off The Map Series. This is the story of one of Talia's best friends, Beth, and one of Bran's friends from a long time ago, Z. (Bran is the male lead in each of the full-length novels in this series.)
Beth works for "Z" at Zavtra Tech. She loves her job and feels fortunate to have it, but she has never seen her boss before - he communicates with Beth via phone messages and the computer only. He spends most days sitting at his desk and watches her on the security camera behind her desk, completely smitten with her. When Bran finds out that he has a huge crush on Beth, he suggests that Z ask her out -- but instead of asking her out, Z plans an elaborate weekend getaway for the two of them, taking Beth to the destination, and then hoping that Beth will want to stay.
This novella is a little different than the rest of the series. Darker in tone, edgier. I knew Z had a little bit of a different past from his scenes in the last book of the series, but I wasn't expecting Z to be quite so different. For example: Z's tendency to state or assume things instead of ask them could be seen as off-putting if you're bothered by that sort of thing. It doesn't bother Beth, however, because she finds him intriguing and has a crush on him based on their limited interaction. It also does not bother her that she has never seen Z and it doesn't bother her that he is a little socially rough around the edges. Beth is actually very different from Z and complements him nicely in that she is everything he is not, a gentle tone to his abrasive tone, and it is fun to see how the two of them initially interact.
Z's backstory is emotional and heartbreaking, and will strike a chord. He is a little on the slightly-creepy side, though, with a few of his behaviors - but I think that is the point? That he is socially lacking and in need of a human connection and love.
Taking all of that into account: this novella was a good addition because I want to know what Beth is up to since I already know about Talia and Sunny. I very much like the feeling of completion.
Where the Carry Me Home novella had extra plot secrets and character redemption, this story feels like it is tasked more with giving additional information about secondary characters, which it does. This was a fun read, and quick - one sitting. I recommend Into My Arms for fans of the Off The Map Series. It is not my favorite installment in this series, but it does bring the series full-circle for me and I'm glad that I read it. ...more
This novella is fun addition to Lia Riley's Off The Map Series. It tells the story of one of Talia's best friends, Sunny, and one of the guys from TThis novella is fun addition to Lia Riley's Off The Map Series. It tells the story of one of Talia's best friends, Sunny, and one of the guys from Talia's past, Tanner. (Talia is the female lead in each of the full-length novels in this series.)
Tanner and Sunny have their own past together - they grew up together and used to be the best of friends. Tanner has always loved her, but she hurt him deeply when they were very young. He has never gotten over it nor has he gotten over her. Tanner went on to find success as a pro skateboarder; Sunny works in a natural food store and is happy living a very hippy-like, no-commitment lifestyle. After living a sort-of estranged life for a long time, Tanner comes back around and the two become re-acquainted.
I'm so, so glad this story included Tanner. Throughout the series, he was talked about so much, and it wasn't usually pleasant. Talia had lingering issues with their last interaction, therefore my impression of him was not great for most of the series. However, at the end of the series + with the addition of this novella, there is amazing character redemption for Tanner, which I love. Not only do we get a backstory for his character, but we get a perspective from him on the last interaction he had with Talia plus he gives really great information about his relationship with Pippa (Talia's deceased sister), which I wasn't expecting! I feel like all of this was helpful for me and so much fell into place after hearing Tanner tell his story.
This novella isn't super long, but I think it is worth buying and reading to go along with this series. Sunny and Tanner have good banter, there is humor, and apparently they have an ability to get themselves into sticky situations just like Talia and Bran.
I recommend Carry Me Home for fans of the Off The Map Series. I personally suggest that it be treated as an essential component to the series. I LOVED getting Tanner's side of things because character redemption is spectacular. ...more
This book is set in the 1890's, in Denver, Colorado. Jake, a banker, has arranged a marriage with Marty, a widow from Texas. He specifically wants a "This book is set in the 1890's, in Denver, Colorado. Jake, a banker, has arranged a marriage with Marty, a widow from Texas. He specifically wants a "lone star bride" and is excited that Marty seems to be everything that he wishes for. He hopes that with their arrangement - a sensible marriage, no love required - they can eventually leave Denver and the banking world to head back to Texas so he can fulfill his dreams of owning a ranch. Jake doesn't realize that this is exactly the type of life that Marty is trying to leave forever and when she leaves Texas, she doesn't really ever want to go back.
I love marriage of convenience books. I never get tired of them.
Marty is a strong and independent woman, but she is flawed in that she lies consistently throughout the story. While this is certainly a redeemable flaw and Marty works to right her wrongs, I was baffled over why she told so many lies. Still, I loved that Marty was a juxtaposition to the Denver elite's social finery, joining into the social events because of her new social status + her husband's job, but despising and acting out against the way the wealthy placed themselves above people "beneath" them. Despite Marty's lies and lies of omission, I believe that she had a good heart and genuinely loved all people equally.
And I love Jake. With his gentle heart, good-natured demeanor, and total honesty, he complemented Marty's completely-opposite temperament very well. I enjoyed their awkward back-and-forth banter and inner dialogue as they found themselves falling in love. I'm not at all surprised that they ended up with a "true" marriage, as they called it.
I enjoyed this book. Outside of the marriage-of-convenience plot thread, there is a little bit of suspense in there dealing with a secondary character and some of the banking, which I didn't expect but enjoyed. I'm eager to continue with the series. ...more
Inside Out is the third and final book in the Lia Riley's Off The Map Series. I've inhaled this entire series, novellas and all, in just a few days,Inside Out is the third and final book in the Lia Riley's Off The Map Series. I've inhaled this entire series, novellas and all, in just a few days, approaching this final installment with both excitement and nervousness. This entire series follows the same couple, Talia and Bran, so I've been watching their adventures (and misadventures) throughout the first two books. The previous book ended on a slightly-cliffhangery-but-very-good note, so I couldn't imagine what would be ahead for these two, particularly after everything they went through in the first two books.
Inside Out begins with a load of excitement. Talia and Bran are separated, in a long-distance romance; she is working for the Peace Corps when she becomes gravely ill. Unconscious for a few days, Talia is taken to a hospital and then given leave from the Corps. Bran arrives at her side as soon as he possibly can, as his time with the Sea Alliance has also been cut short for reasons beyond his control. The couple decides to return to California while Talia rebuilds her strength, and they'll re-align their futures.
When they get back to America, sure the two have some great time together. The banter that I've loved is still present and the two still have their charm and sense of humor. Talia still has the OCD issue, though, and she is recovering from a grave illness - so there's that. They both also still have little issues nagging them that they've carried around the world, individually and as a couple. Stuff begins to pop up, one thing at a time, that the two have to navigate together - not all bad, but even good things can be very stressful and trying on relationships. I had to put the book down a time or two because I was like now this! are you kidding me! more than once.
Even so, even with the high stakes and issues, Inside Out never felt too dramatic or cheesy to me - and thank goodness, because it would have broken my heart after enjoying the story so much. I loved seeing resolution or progression with some of the things that kept surfacing for Talia and Bran - for example, issues with Talia's mom. It feels great that these two can shake off some of the weight that they've been carrying! I also love the way that Talia and Bran seem more equipped to talk through and plan for their future; they seem to understand that they will be moving ahead as a one if they remain together as a couple, and they begin to better plan accordingly. This was SO GREAT to see, because I think that they both felt like this was a struggle for them in the past.
I feel like I'm talking about these two like they are real people.
Regarding working through their past romantic histories: there is no love triangle here. These two have been committed to one another throughout this series and continue to be. What I meant here is that these two are confronting issues from their own pasts, resolving them, and laying them down forever.
While I omigosh-loved the Australian setting that was present in the beginning of the series, I have to say that I fell hard for some of the California setting in this book. I miss Australia, but if it had to be replaced with something, California isn't a bad replacement! There is one scene that I especially loved involving a rocky state park and some of the usual craziness that followed these two. I held my breath throughout the scene, but then practically squeaked with happiness at the end of it.
So, yeah, I'm a little sad that my first time reading this series is coming to an end. There are two novellas accompanying, as extras. Talia's best friends Beth and Sunny get a chance to tell their stories. I've read those too. In fact, I stopped reading Inside Out at around the halfway-point because I didn't want it to be over - then I read both novellas - then finished this one. I've enjoyed my time with Talia and Bran, and I've found myself a fan of Lia Riley's storytelling. I'll be moving onto her other romances, hoping they are just as fun as this one. I recommend Inside Out by Lia Riley and the entire Off The Map Series to readers that enjoy New Adult Contemporary Romance, true series, romances without love triangles, and HEAs.
Audiobook Notes: The audiobook format of Inside Out by Lia Riley is published by Hachette Audio and is 7 hours and 45 minutes, Unabridged. It is narrated by Brittany Uomoleale and Tim Wright. I've completely enjoyed listening to this entire series on audiobook, narrated by these same readers, and I'm a little sad that there isn't another book for me to listen to! I recommend this entire series on audiobook for first listens or for first reads, and I'm so glad that I purchased these audiobooks so I can re-listen in the future whenever I want a fun romance with an HEA! ...more
Sideswiped is the second book in Lia Riley's Off The Map Series and picks up soon after the first book ends. (You should read the first book beforeSideswiped is the second book in Lia Riley's Off The Map Series and picks up soon after the first book ends. (You should read the first book before you read this one because this is not a companion series, this series follows the same couple.) Talia is about to leave Santa Cruz, California to join Bran in Australia where she will continue her studies and they will continue their lives together as a couple.
I love the continuation of their relationship although it soon becomes clear that their time is limited: Talia's visa will expire soon so a decision has to be made about her next step or risk being deported. Will she join the Peace Corps, which has been her dream for years? Or will she stay with Bran, which is a new dream? Talia tries to manage her OCD and an unhealthy relationship with her mother while she ponders over what she truly wants for her immediate future.
Fearing the loss of Talia, Bran comes up with an idea that works in their favor, that keeps everyone happy, that keeps anyone from having to give up anything.
Bran changed his mind about his future when he fell in love with Talia. He doesn't do long-distance relationships after a past relationship nearly destroyed him, so going away to Antarctica to work with the Sea Alliance for a year is out of the question - he only wants to be by her side. He loves her too much to leave her. Bran is a little perplexed at how Talia is having a difficult time accepting his idea, with the back-and-forth she is experiencing in her thoughts. For him, the decision was super easy.
To be honest, Sideswiped began a teensy bit slowly. After a few chapters, though, I was right in there again, because I felt like I was living out the intensity of their relationship. Not necessarily that there is a high level of angry-angst here, but this is such a huge time in Bran's life and Talia's life, and the expiration of a visa is such a big deal - and the decisions they were making, almost all of them, were so big. Even with all of the intensity, I found myself chuckling again at Bran's wit and at the situations these two found themselves in - I appreciate the humor written into this book.
By the time I got to the last chapter, I was holding my breath because I wanted so many good things for Bran and Talia. And SO MANY DECISIONS had been made and they'd been through so much. Good grief. And gracious, that ending. I'm starting the next book as soon as I publish these thoughts.
Structurally, there are alternating chapters, just as with the first book, and I was delighted to see that Bran has more to say in this installment - I hope this continues into the last book. The setting continues to be STELLAR because: Australia! I felt like I was there.
With the way that I've experienced the first two installments in this series, and with my anticipation over the next book - I'm very excited to read it, but I'm almost afraid! I have no idea what's about to happen with Talia and Bran. I want the best outcome for them.
I recommend Sideswiped by Lia Riley to readers that enjoy New Adult Contemporary Romance and an excellent Australian setting.
Audiobook Notes: The audiobook format of Sideswiped by Lia Riley is published by Hachette Audio and is 8 hours and 28 minutes, Unabridged. It is narrated by Brittany Uomoleale and Tim Wright. I enjoyed the first installment of this series on audiobook, and this second installment is more of the same -- except for more of Bran's POV, which I love! I'm going to listen to the third installment of the series on audiobook as I follow along with print because I enjoyed listening so much. I recommend these audiobooks for first-time readers or those that want to reread....more
I finished this book a few days ago but I can't stop thinking about it, which usually tells me that I have a new favorite for my shelOh I loved this.
I finished this book a few days ago but I can't stop thinking about it, which usually tells me that I have a new favorite for my shelves. I only found Amanda Palmer a few years ago after hearing her husband speak - he mentioned her in his talk. I began reading her blog, and following her antics including the Kickstarter that changed music, her TED Talk, etc. I love some of the things that Amanda says - I think she is super-positive and energizing and I've always enjoyed reading her thoughts.
It was on a whim while on vacation that I downloaded this book and began reading - I couldn't stop reading, actually. I thought I'd learn a thing or two about how Amanda used crowdsourcing to change music a little bit...but I got SO MUCH MORE from this book, and now I want my own paper copy for my shelves so I can underline and circle and highlight and write in the margins.
In The Art of Asking, Amanda Palmer gives us insight into her life, her process actually. Things like: how she started working a job that isn't really that "normal" after graduating college and learned so much from it, and this propelled her into this amazing life that isn't exactly ordinary. She gives us plenty of her good experiences in her book, but she is also honest enough to share what hasn't worked for her, what were her fears, her insecurities, things like that. I appreciate the transparency of this book so much. I think that one of her main messages is that she arrived to the place she is at present largely because she allowed herself to rely on other people - her community - because she is as close to them as possible, and also honest and personal, by way of the internet. The relationship she has made with her fans and online community has allowed her to be as physically close to her fanbase as she can be, which is what she really seems to want as much as anything as a good artist, and her experiences with fan-interactions is very entertaining and encouraging to those of us that really enjoy interacting with artists that we support and admire.
Amanda talks about the criticism she has received, mostly online, when doing things like couch-surfing and asking for the things that she needs, mostly online. This is very interesting, because I think it is always easy to criticize other people behind a computer and I wonder if so many people would criticize what she has been doing if they talked to her face-to-face and heard her thoughts and ideas? Probably not.
"Asking" seems like such a simple concept when you take the time to listen to her story: when you make yourself vulnerable to people and ASK them for things that you need or want, most of the time people come through because people genuinely want to help one another. People want to see others and be seen, to trust and be trusted. People want to be part of the solution to a problem. People love art and don't mind paying for it.
One of the best things about The Art of Asking is not necessarily the story of how Amanda Palmer launched this wildly successful Kickstarter campaign to crowdsource an album and changed music forever, but how she interjected bits and pieces of her life into the story. I was sucked into the little pieces of Amanda throughout the story. For someone that is a rock star, she seems like someone that is very down-to-earth and so human, and I just love that. She also shared these great little interactions herself and Neil Gaiman, which felt like such a treat to those of us who are fans of the both of them. The exchanges between Amanda and her friend Anthony are like giant hugs. Immediately when I finished the book, I opened her music and listened again to her TED Talk, which I had already heard before. But this book is still with me.
It's just a great memoir. It's a great story. Oftentimes books like these are only a little bit okay to me; they're great for super-fans of the subject and sometimes even poorly written. But this book isn't that. I got so much more from this than I expected and I'm kind of fangirling this book so hard, days after finishing it. Not because I'm an uber-fan, and please don't take that wrong. But because it's a dang good book and I like what it says in there. I think that I'd like to have tea or coffee with Amanda one day and I would certainly like to see her perform live.
I recommend The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer for people that are interested in the music industry, people that are interested in making art or doing a job that they enjoy to the fullest, and people that enjoy human-interest stories. Actually, I recommend this one to anyone. This is definitely on my favorites list for this year. ...more
This is the story of four women living in Israel that come together to perform a traditional burialRead my full review HERE at Into the Hall of Books.
This is the story of four women living in Israel that come together to perform a traditional burial ceremony when a women dies in their community. These women are American Jewish women that have all moved to Israel for different reasons and consequently are all a part of the burial circle for different reasons. A Remarkable Kindness takes a look into the lives of Lauren, Emily, Aviva, and Rachel - at how they came to Israel, how they adjust to and enjoy their live in Israel, and how they feel about their part in the burial circle.
I went into this book fairly blindly, to be honest, which is how I love to begin novels. I was mainly interested in the interaction of these women from different backgrounds, how they interact and form friendships when they come together. The author sets this story over about six years, from 2000-2006, so we are really able to get to know each woman over time and see how she connects to the other characters. One follows her physician husband to Israel because he wants to make a difference where he is needed rather than in America, where he is sure to live a more comfortable life. One is in Israel alone, to volunteer and change things and make a difference in the world. One moved there years ago, is a widow, and has lost too many family members to the unstable political and religious military violence. One moves to Israel after a divorce breaks her heart, looking for a fresh start. I grew to adore each of these women, and I was so interested in the things that they loved, the things that broke their hearts, their successes and mistakes, and how they felt about one another. I loved them all. I felt like I could feel them and see them in my head so very well.
The burial circle ceremony is not something that I knew about before this book. Bodies are prepared and cleansed for burial and then watched or protected until they are actually buried, and this is uniquely special because the dead cannot thank them for their service. I loved watching these woman learn this process and in return, grow in their respect for living and for death, and I also loved how this process changed their own lives in unique ways.
It is in between the burial circle scenes that we really learn these characters' stories. I personally learned more about what was going on in this region at the time, and I always enjoy that, plus I learned more about the culture of the different groups of people living there. This book is so wonderfully character-driven and I was caught up in decisions and emotions and friendships and casual interactions with secondary characters. Long before the book ended, I was fully invested and wanted the very best for each woman/family.
I recommend A Remarkable Kindness by Diana Bletter for readers that enjoy women's fiction and readers that enjoy learning about cultures other than their own. This would make a great beach or pool read. ...more
A History of Glitter and Blood was so, so great. I inhaled it and I want to read it again right now, especially since I know how it all ends.
This isA History of Glitter and Blood was so, so great. I inhaled it and I want to read it again right now, especially since I know how it all ends.
This is a strange little book, yes, and complicated. It probably helps to know going into it that the narrator is unreliable and relays the story in a nonlinear pattern with a hurried, distressed tone. Oh yes, I know how this can feel a little confusing and jarring to us as readers but push through, just do it. Also, there are some unusual and uncomfortable things in the story, but again, push through it. Because the writing is spectacular and the story is so smart and I can't believe this book. This one was such a surprise for me and doggone it, I love surprises.
Once upon a time there were four fairies in the city who hadn't been maimed. p. 1, ARC
And here is the story of Beckan, Josha, Scrap, and Cricket, four fairies living in a city during wartime. ALL of the other fairies have fled, and the gnomes that live underground are at war with the tightropers that live in the sky. These four fairies work in the underground, with the gnomes, because this is how they earn food. And also how they manage to not get eaten.
Because gnomes eat fairies.
Gnomes can survive for a long time on even a small bite of fairy, like a finger or an arm or a tiny snippet off of the ear. And fairies taste delicious. So these four remaining fairies work for food and their lives, and they hope the war will end soon.
Hope begins to dwindle as food becomes scarce, as is often the case.
They meet a tightroper that doesn't really care to fight the war. Together this tightroper, the fairies, and a couple of rebel gnomes band together to create a group that wants to end the war. To protest. To have a movement. To do something, anything. They have ideas about how this should happen, so they talk about it and make some loose plans and maybe their ideas are pretty good.
Maybe? Or maybe not so much -
By the time things had begun to really unravel for this group, I had totally, unequivocally fallen so hard for this story, this world, these creatures that I WANTED EVERYTHING FOR THEM. I fell so hard for the city of Ferrum and these four fairies. From a certain point in the story, their plan looks pretty crazy, and it honestly never stops looking crazy. Even impossible, maybe. But I held my breath, I turned the pages, and the ending is really satisfying. I loved this ride.
I've noticed that there are some questions on Goodreads about the structuring of the story and about the inclusion of statements and paragraphs that look like this one:
Once upon a time there was a writer who couldn't write a fucking book. I don't know what comes next. That whole chapter's going to need to be thrown out anyway... p. 14, ARC
They're littered in throughout the narrative, which is partly told in Beckan's perspective and partly in other ways. There are illustrations and also paper/newspaper clippings used to tell this story. The narrator is working hard to complete this tale, using more than just his/her own voice, and it is absolutely brilliant. It is a little confusing in the beginning and it takes a little getting used to, so you have to give it a chance. The paragraphs like the one I've included above indicate the state of mind of the narrator, and also made me wonder who in the world was really telling this story (the actual author or one of the characters?). I second-guessed myself for a while, until this one particular scene, and then I wanted to jump up and down and dance and SHOUT OUT TO THE WORLD because good gracious, what a great idea, author. Well done.
I realize that since it took me a while to catch onto who the storyteller is, it probably will with other people too. And if there are quite a few people abandoning early on because of confusion...well, I'm cringing at how many are missing something truly spectacular.
Stick with this one! Because -
The world-building here is really fantastic. The tightropers live above-ground. The fairies live in what is left of the abandoned city of Ferrum, and the gnomes live underground. Ferrum is a walled city. There isn't often exploration outside of those walls but -
The characterization is lovely. The themes are apparent, as with many good fantasy stories: hunger, death, war. There is also some prostitution, racism (between the different creatures, yes, it exists!), and also antiwar resistance. Some of these are not as big-a-deal as others but, you know, the gnomes are hungry and the fairies have to work. So, hunger and prostitution.
There is also love. These friends call themselves a "pack" and this means that they are are close-knit group that genuinely loves one another. There are different kinds of love, sure, like family and romantic, etc, but it is there. The romance was my least favorite aspect of this book, to be honest. Everything else was just bigger and better to me. The overriding theme here in general is love and I think it totally drives this book.
I want more people to pick up A History of Glitter and Blood and read it completely. It is a very smart story. I haven't read anything that made me feel exactly this way in a while, and I'm interested in seeing the thoughts of other readers that see the story to completion. Do others feel surprised at the identity of the narrator? Or is it easier for others to figure it out? Do others squirm a bit at some of what goes down between some of these "races" (fairies vs gnomes, etc) and even what goes down between some of these characters? DO YOU LOVE IT LIKE I DO? This title needs to be out and about, and I would love to hear from anyone that has any thoughts on it.
Note: This isn't a book for younger readers and there are people that will not like it even if they choose to stick with it. But if you do, high fives to you for days.
I recommend A History of Glitter and Blood by Hannah Moskowitz to readers that enjoy fantasy stories, stories about fairies, and unreliable narrators. The story structure/unreliable narrator sealed the deal for me, LOVED.
Consume begins with Tristan way out in a secluded forest cabin with Savannah and her father, learning to adapt to his body and to the new cravings andConsume begins with Tristan way out in a secluded forest cabin with Savannah and her father, learning to adapt to his body and to the new cravings and lifestyle that accompany being a vampire. In a relatively short time, he and The Clann been through quite a bit, having lost Tristan's parents and the Clann leadership. When The Clann and the vampires finally go to war, Tristan, Savannah, and her father leave their secluded cabin and go on the run in order to stay safe. Tristan and Savannah are wanted by both sides because they are so powerful - being both witch and vampire - but they aren't sure at this point who they can trust.
Now that it seems like they can finally be together since they are both witch and vampire, there's this little war to deal with and also staying hidden and Tristan's new vampire needs. Oh, and Tristan's sister is with them and pregnant, and they're all stuffed into Savannah's mother's camper.
Being constantly on the go in the small camper makes this a grouchy. To this end, there is plenty of nitpicky drama in this book that became sort of wearying after a short while. Savannah and Tristan had additional problems because they could hear one another think, so their thoughts weren't protected and private anymore. I think that the dramatic arguing and complaining in this story made this third installment less enjoyable than the previous two in this series. (They also spent a huge chunk of the book on the run, and I found myself ready for that portion of the story to hurry up and be over.)
The parts of Consume that weren't the on-the-run, stay-hidden parts were fairly fast-paced with plenty of action, and I liked that. I liked that after the build-up of the past three books, everything finally came to a huge event. While the ending tied up pretty neatly, I liked it just fine and feel happy with the resolution and the way things are. There were some interesting things that popped up here and there throughout the book concerning the plot. The twists were fun.
The romance was satisfying. I'm happy that Tristan and Savannah were able to stick it out and work through their problems, and by the end they seem to be in a pretty good place. I appreciate this romance in this series - there are troubles, as with any couple (and plenty of drama, as with any couple), but they worked it out and persevered. It was entertaining. I really appreciate that this is a series that my entire family can read.
I recommend Consume by Melissa Darnell for readers that enjoy young adult paranormal stories with romance. ...more
I was attracted to this book because I love backpacking books, books that have great scenery in them, books where someone takes off on some adventureI was attracted to this book because I love backpacking books, books that have great scenery in them, books where someone takes off on some adventure looking for answers to whatever questions they have. I was also hoping that I would like it better than this book, which was really popular but crushed me for several reasons that aren't really important in the spirit of this review.
It reminds me much more of this book, which was amazing.
Even though I am mentioning the other two books, The Middle of Somewhere is a fiction book where the other two are nonfiction, so comparisons to the above-mentioned books are almost silly. Still, parts of this one did remind me of parts of the other stories. I can imagine that it would be hard to have adventure stories containing long hikes where women go off to find themselves without having some similarities.
A woman on an adventure? Yes! I want to read that story.
I could identify with the main character, Liz Kroft, in that YES SOMETIMES I WANT TO GET AWAY TOO. I want to take off on a hike and think and clear my mind and emerge on the other side of the trail a fresh person with a new perspective. Before the story even begins, Liz had made some decisions that she couldn't get out from under, and she needed a life overhaul. She carried some guilt, some shame, and too much weight for these things that happened before. She needed to make-right some things in her life, and she needed to start with herself. Spending time alone on this hike seemed the perfect idea, and I would like to high-five her for making this decision.
What do you say when your boyfriend wants to join you on your life-changing solo hike in a big romantic gesture? And then when he makes the necessary preparations, including buying the equipment, etc? I mean, this happens in the beginning of the story! Liz didn't have the heart (or gumption?) to tell Dante that she really wants/needs to do this alone, and WHOA I CAN SEE TROUBLE UP AHEAD WITH THIS, can't you? I mean, if I personally want to be alone just for several hours and someone invites him or herself to tag along, I'm having a royal meltdown in my own real life -- what would I do in Liz's shoes?
To be fair, Dante thought he was doing something wonderful and romantic, and he was. He was SO SWEET. But Liz thought he was being intrusive, and she is entitled to her own feelings. BUT! She never talked to him about how she felt, which isn't really fair. In fact, much of the book was her inner dialogue about how she needed to talk to him about ___ or ___ or ___ , as well as her difficulty in doing so (understandably, because these were some big issues). The trail hike was supposed to be about helping her gain whatever courage she needed to say the things she needed to say. And to move beyond the things that had happened in the past.
She had plenty she needed to say, trust me.
It makes for a compelling read, where the romance is concerned - a true test of whether these two are meant to be. Can they make it? But there are other forces at play here. Liz is severaly frightened of thunderstorms - a true, honest fear that cripples her. There are some mentally unstable people on the trail that are causing problems for regular hikers, and they keep popping up in the path of Liz and Dante. There is a celebrity on the trail, and can you imagine what kinds of issues that brings up? (You may think you can, but probably not!) This story is truly the test of a relationship, because it is also the test of the human spirit.
And in the middle of all of this, Liz experiences the growth she is looking for - but at what cost? She isn't expecting Dante to be there when she plans the trip, and she doesn't mean for several things to happen the way they that they do. Out on the trail, away from civilization and other people, Liz is forced to deal with everything she has run away from for years. It's interesting to watch her from the start of the book until the end of the book - I cannot imagine that many people finish a trial like that one the same way they began it.
I enjoyed The Middle of Somewhere tremendously. I did not love every event that happened in the story, but I was not supposed to. I loved the way some of the characters had to work together to overcome obstacles involving nature, the environment, or other people. I love the way Liz and Dante were forced to work together to get through their issues. I love that Liz was pushed to her limits because it was then that we saw what she was made of. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this setting and the descriptions provided because I have wanderlust like crazy, and I loved following this trail on the map as the story progressed.
I think other readers will enjoy this book too - different readers for different reasons. There are so many things in here that will appeal to so many different people. I recommend The Middle of Somewhere by Sonja Yoerg for readers that enjoy books about backpacking and nature, stories about adventure, stories about strong women, and readers that are interested in more books somewhat similar to this book or this book. ...more
An interesting shift on my calendar this week has put all three of my chRead my full review HERE at Into the Hall of Books, including audiobook notes.
An interesting shift on my calendar this week has put all three of my children either in camp or at their grandmother's house, which means that I was able to completely lose myself in both the first and second book of this series. And by LOSE MYSELF, I mean I flat-out went to the land of the Tear and lived there for a few days. I have solidly added this series to my "favorites" list for this year.
In the first book: Queen Kelsea lived a hidden life a life of seclusion while she was being protected and educated by foster parents. At the age of 19, the Queen's Guard came for her as it was time for Kelsea to take the throne. As soon as she arrived among her people, she was saddened, disappointed, and disgusted by what she found: poor conditions, mistreatment, fear. Kelsea knew practically nothing about the rule of her mother, Queen Elyssa, nor her Uncle, the Regent, who ruled after Elyssa's death -- but she could see that these previous rulers did not take care of her people. Kelsea vowed to fix all that was broken - which was plenty, for Elyssa was a weak ruler and her Uncle the Regent was a pathetic one - and she set to that task right away. The Tear people grew to love her and she proved herself as a strong and worthy Queen, a good Queen.
At the end of the first book, the Tear are anxiously expecting invasion from the Mort people and their evil leader, the Red Queen. And I had to immediately put the first book down and begin the second book. I HAD TO. I had to see what would happen.
The Invasion of the Tearling is a seamless continuation, picking up only a few weeks after the end of the first book. The first chapter is exciting, expanding into the backstory of one of the characters introduced at the end of the first book while simultaneously telling what is going on, and BOOM it begins right there. I was once again riveted from page one until the end. This is a world that I certainly would never want to live in, but I enjoyed visiting LIKE CRAZY. These are reread books for me.
By now the Queen has earned the trust of her people but she has also made some huge decisions to try and save the Tear from the dreaded invasion, or at least spare them in the best and most efficient ways possible, which is difficult because of the total lack of resources at her disposal. The Tear army does not have the same quality of weapons as the invading army, the area is not as prosperous, and the people are lacking the self-esteem at this point to put up the sort of fight that she would like - ohhh, if only she could have arrived a little sooner! While Queen Kelsea makes decisions with the best of intentions, her Guard supports her completely (even when they disagree). As the book progresses it becomes clear that not every decision that Kelsea has made has been the best for her people.
What to do, what to do? Think fast, Queen.
Kelsea is very smart, she has been educated well. She is a great thinker and is as fair as any. But she lacks the experience to execute great plans and decisions sometimes - sometimes she's just flailing and hoping for the best. She trusts the council of her Guard, as they are her closest advisors - but even when she receives it, she sometimes disregards it. Thus Kelsea still has plenty to learn; who wouldn't when they're thrown into the types of situations she has had to endure since the first day on the job? Kelsea is also learning to control the part of herself that identifies with her special abilities, or with magic, whichever it really is. She can do special things sometimes, and she often has visions of the past and the future, but these situations are not always things that Kelsea is able to control.
She has a lot going on, this Queen. Imminent war, controlling new magical powers, coming-of-age in the castle, trying to piece together her past, building up her people by patching up their broken hopes and dreams. She doesn't shy away from any of it. The only people that ever really see her weak places are those that are closest to her. I LOVE the Queen. I love the good and not-so-good-yet parts of her, because her growth across these two books has been phenomenal AND the two stories have taken place over less than one year. She's making remarkable progress in her throne.
ALSO occupying these pages is Lily, the girl from the pre-Crossing. Her chapters were initially odd-sounding to me because Lily comes from the Northeastern US during more modern times; she has modern conveniences and she is wealthy. However, she is living at a time when something has gone wrong: there is an even greater gap between the poor and the wealthy, between men and women, and between the majority and any type of minority. At first, I wondered what Lily's part would be in this story, and I was right to - it honestly takes A LONG TIME for her part to come to fruition but by the time I made all of the connections, I loved having her there.
Having both Kelsea and Lily be major players in this book made it feel like a very empowering read. These are women that both appear to be weak in the beginning, but they do very difficult things. Add to that Andalie, part of Kelsea's chamber service, and we have a group of very strong, very smart, very capable women doing some amazing things in this book. I appreciated this, particularly since some of the issues that they tackle are pretty tough.
Ultimately, this sequel is a solid middle-part to this series. I feel like it completely added to my excitement for this story arc and these characters, and I just want to high-five everyone after finishing it. I love the setting, I love the characters, I love the bond between Queen and her Guard, I love the lengths these women (and the Guard) will go to in order to make things right, I love so much about this book. And I'm so ready for the final installment because I still have just a few burning questions.
I recommend The Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen to readers that enjoy fantasy, strong characters, and unique worldbuilding.
Audiobook Notes: The audiobook format of The Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen is published by HarperAudio and is 18 hours and 10 minutes, Unabridged. It is narrated by Davina Porter, who basically needs no introduction because she has narrated so many worthy and amazing titles like this series. I have to admit that I was surprised to see this narrator reading after the also-excellent Katherine Kellgren read the first installment - I had grown attached to her narration for Kelsea and for this series. BUT as always, Davina Porter was great and I would recommend this audiobook to anyone looking to read this book for the first time or to keep on hand for rereads. One can not go wrong with either of these narrators, really. ...more
Lily McIntire has accepted a dare from co-worker Marcus Black: Spend the entire night in their town's local haunted mansion. If she can do it, MarcusLily McIntire has accepted a dare from co-worker Marcus Black: Spend the entire night in their town's local haunted mansion. If she can do it, Marcus will give up his recently-won trip to Hawaii. If she can't handle the entire night there, she has to go to a local dinner event with him - as his date!
Marcus has wanted to go on a date with Lily for ages. He even asked her once, but she turned him down - she doesn't realize that he likes her so much and that he really wants to go on a date with her.
Marcus has no intention of losing this bet to Lily, especially if it means he earns a date with her! ALSO, he won that trip to Hawaii fair and square. He certainly doesn't wait to give it up. When Lily settles in for a night at the mansion, complete with a few comforts from home (an air mattress, wine, sushi - the works), Marcus arrives on the scene ready to make her stay extra spooky.
That's right! Marcus isn't above cheating to win the bet.
It's great, though. Because it totally backfires on him. The results are super fun.
Lily has been burned in the past by going out with a coworker - I'll spare you the details, but Marcus has his work cut out for him in convincing her that it's okay to trust wherever their feelings take them. And Marcus is almost jumping up and down to finally get a chance to go out with this gal that he's liked so much for so long - he's a guy that used to play the field...until he found Lily. Yes, I've seen these types of characters before, but I never get tired of them!
If You Dare by Jessica Lemmon is a quick read, and I totally enjoyed it. My husband remarked to me more than once that I had a big smile on my face while I was reading and YES! that is what happens when I read books by this author. I've read several of hers now and I get so doggone excited when I'm about to pick up another one because I know that when I'm finished, my cheeks will hurt. They're just such fun stories.
This story was originally a much shorter story, but the author recently expanded it and viola! we have this longer version of the original. To be honest, this less-than-200 page story was exactly what I was looking for right now because I had just finished multiple long, heavy fantasy and nonfiction books - I wanted something light and fun. This book delivers plus has the HEA, without a triangle. I wish that I could have read If You Dare by the pool or at the beach, paired with a cold drink. However, I personally started my day off with this book, so it went perfectly with my coffee.
I recommend this story for fans of contemporary romances and fun, quick romantic reads. ...more
Hide Me by Lexi Scott is a compulsively readable summer story; I finished it in just a few hours. This is the first book in the Silver Strand SeriesHide Me by Lexi Scott is a compulsively readable summer story; I finished it in just a few hours. This is the first book in the Silver Strand Series, featuring Whit Conrad and Deo Beckett. Whit struggles to move beyond grief and guilt after the death of her brother. Deo has no clue as to what he wants to do with his life beyond surfing and hanging out on the porch with his best friend and grandpa.
The two meet at Whit's place of employment, when Deo comes in for a new tattoo. Deo was gifted a tattoo for his birthday and needs help choosing a design. He ends up choosing a design that Whit created, and he is both impressed with her and interested in her. Even as Deo tries to strike up conversation with her, Whit is cool, aloof actually, but all this does is make Deo even more interested.
Because of the way Whit wears her grief and guilt like baggage, and because of the way she puts Deo in the friendzone because she is afraid of commitment - it takes the two more than one try as boyfriend/girlfriend. They're GREAT as friends, though. The problem is that it is really difficult for the two of them to stay that way - they both have these feelings for one another that run pretty deep. Eventually Whit has to face her demons and Deo needs to grow up a little, or their friendship will fizzle out because these two can't continue to hold each other at arm's length and deny their true feelings.
I really like Hide Me by Lexi Scott a lot! (Lexi Scott = the writing team Steph Campbell and Liz Reinhardt, did you guys know this?)
Deo is a lot of fun to read. He enjoys surfing, cooking, things like that. He loves life, and this is apparent on these pages. He is also romantic and a great friend, which I really love, even though he isn't necessarily these things at the same time.
Often in contemporary romances I love both leading characters equally, but in this case I found myself on Team Deo - not-so-much Team Whit. I think that's okay because I eventually came around (even though it took awhile.)
With Whit, I had to tell myself more than once that she had to work through her issues before she could fully give herself to Deo. The way she treats him in a couple of scenes breaks his heart and mine too. BUT! He refuses to give up on her because he loves her so much, and that is one reason that I like his character so much. Deo is not a perfect person. He makes some decisions that are not the best, even though his intentions are always good. But I love the way these two take their flaws and imperfections and then use them to come out better on the other side.
I held my breath for them. I shook my head a few times at both of them. But in the end, I was really happy at how things turned out. I could totally see this type of story being a real one between two random people.
I love this secondary cast: Deo in particular has fantastic family and friends. They're great characters in the story on their own, but I love that they bring Whit into their fold and make her feel loved and appreciated. I love that once they do, they are honest and respectful of both Deo and Whit as individuals and as a couple; they're ALL trustworthy. They are an eclectic and colorful group of people, and so fun to read. Deo's mother is especially fun. Deo's best friend Cohen proves valuable to Deo with solid advice and loyalty; I enjoyed reading this healthy male friendship. I'm eager to read the next book in this series because I'm pretty sure that Cohen is the featured leading character.
I cannot leave out the setting because setting is so important to me. I loved this one because hello, the coast. I will probably always love reading about sand, salty wind, and waves. I especially love that Deo teaches Whit to surf, and it is an added bonus that Whit gets to experience the ocean for the first time - as a ocean-lover, I always find it fascinating when people have this experience.
So, yeah, I really liked Hide Me by Lexi Scott. The the second book in the series releases in a few days and I'm so, so ready for it. I recommend Hide Me to readers that enjoy new adult contemporary romance, great friendship/family relationships, and great settings.
I grabbed this book on impulse because I was looking for something similar to this book, which I thought was pretty fantastic in terms of humor + romaI grabbed this book on impulse because I was looking for something similar to this book, which I thought was pretty fantastic in terms of humor + romance. I grabbed both the Kindle book and the audiobook formats so I could read/listen together. Nick Podehl and Amy McFadden narrate the audiobook, and they do a great job - they're two of my favorites anyway, so it was a no-brainer to add the audio to the Kindle book for the sale price.
While this book has humor, it is a teensy bit over-the-top at times, and even ventured into a few eye-rolls and the-unbelievable in certain scenes. BUT I also think that this might have been on purpose, making this a different type of romantic comedy than the book I mentioned above, in my opinion.
So, this book features Milo and Colton. Milo has loved Colton forever, but they have never acted on this because Colton is her brother's best friend. (I love this trope, by the way.) The two are forced into close proximity when they are in a wedding, and there are about a thousand-million shenanigans that take place. Yes, a thousand-million. Everything crazy that could possibly happen does, and even some things that we would never expect. In the end, things turn out just fine, but WHOA getting there. No, not angst; I mean like accidents and mishaps.
It's completely crazy, this story. And it's completely unlikely. So if you can suspend belief and try to just enjoy it, you probably will. If you know that you can't suspend your belief, really consider this one before reading.
I was nervous about this romance from the beginning because Milo's best friend is a guy, Max. And honestly, Max was my favorite character in the book and I hate when my favorite characters get hurt! I was worried that this would venture into love-triangle territory (I'm not opposed when they're done well, but I was curious here). I have to say that I'm impressed with how Max carried himself and I'm hopeful for him in the next book. The author did something very cool with Milo-Colton-Max in that Max helped both Milo and Colton get together. Like, he worked for both of them. That's tricky, but it turned out just fine.
Will I read the next book? Sure, I'll likely listen to it because I did enjoy the audiobook. I know what to expect in terms of the humor. And I need books like this in my back pocket to listen to for completing house projects and for cooking/cleaning. And I want to see how Max's story plays out because the next book belongs to him.
I recommend The Consequence of Loving Colton to fans of romantic comedies. ...more
Not long ago, I decided that I was going to read some of the backlist-titles that I have on my Kindle. Since I had The Clann Series sitting there unNot long ago, I decided that I was going to read some of the backlist-titles that I have on my Kindle. Since I had The Clann Series sitting there unread, I decided to check it out. I read the first book in the series, Crave, and liked it okay - to be honest, it was fun to revisit the paranormal world after being out of it for a while. After finishing Crave, I started this second book pretty quickly.
Covet begins smoothly where the first book leaves off. From the very beginning of this book, Savannah and Tristan have problems with their relationship, now that everyone knows that it exists and pretty much nobody approves of it. In order to protect Tristan and to keep positive relations between the vampires and the witches, Savannah makes a deal to stay away from the boy that she loves. She breaks up with Tristan even though she doesn't want to; they're both very much in love with one another. (Despite its importance, it is clear that this break-up is destined to be unsuccessful.)
For a large part of this book, Savannah and Tristan are basically mourning their break-up. They both make semi-decent efforts at trying to move on, but neither of them make any real progress. All either of them really accomplish is making the other jealous and making assumptions about the other one without finding out the truth. After reading the first book in this series, it felt like there was more in the way of silly drama in this installment, which bogged the story down for a little while. I think that is why it took me a month to read it. I did not dislike this story and I wasn't disinterested in it - I got a little bit bored with the petty jealousy and childish behavior; it went on for what felt like many pages. HOWEVER -- I was happy when the two were able to move on and get back together because then I felt like the story began to progress.
And progress it did.
Things picked up at a certain point: there was more about the paranormal creatures interactions-on-thin-ice and a little less about the romance aspect. I loved this shift of focus. New characters were introduced, which I loved, and I'm hoping that this new part of the story carries over into the next installment. Also, some new conflicts and issues came to light that created a ton of great tension in the latter part of the book - it was very exciting. Additionally, some characters do not live to make it into the third installment and this could potentially create a shift in power among one or both of the groups. Now, will these parts of the plot continue in the final installment? I don't know, really, because something pretty huge happened with Tristan and I'm assuming it changes the entire trajectory of the series, and it will likely also involve Savannah.
What will happen now? I DON'T KNOW.
Despite the drama between Savannah and Tristan early on, I still really like them as characters. Savannah is working toward living safely as a vampire (aka controlling her bloodlust) and Tristan is just an all-around good guy. I like these two together as love interests. I also like Savannah's friends, and I super-duper-love how her father has really stepped up his parenting game in this book. (I have my eye on Tristan's sister!)
I forgive the slow-moving first portion of the book with the relationship drama because the latter portion more than makes up for it. I'm all geared up to to begin the next installment of this series to see what happens next, now that (view spoiler)[Tristan is a vampire and the Clann leadership is in chaos. (hide spoiler)] I want a happy ending for this couple and I also want these groups of creatures to be able to coexist and get along. Will this happen? No clue. I'll never get tired of these types of stories, though. I'm excited to find out what is next.
I recommend Covet by Melissa Darnell for readers that enjoy young adult paranormal stories with romance. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
This is the first book that I've read by Kristen Ashley and also the first "biker book" that I've ever read.
Own The Wind is the story of Tabby AllenThis is the first book that I've read by Kristen Ashley and also the first "biker book" that I've ever read.
Own The Wind is the story of Tabby Allen and Shy Cage. Tabby is the daughter of Chaos Motorcycle Club's leader, which means she gets some special treatments and also...hands off, guys. In the past, that hasn't been a problem for the members because she caused so much trouble for them as they tried to protect and guard her. She was so much work for then when she was out drinking and partying. One member in particular, Shy, took his job more seriously because had grown to really like her and want the best for her. In trying to teach Tabby a lesson one day, to help her turn her life around, Shy goes a little too far and wounds her deeply.
And Tabby holds the mother of all grudges.
It takes years and a ton of back-and-forth for the both of them to admit that they both have had the same feelings for one another for years and act on them. It is both torturous and fun to read their banter and arguing and bickering and making up. The grudge that Tabby has against Shy is fairly ridiculous and intense, even though he did treat her pretty awfully. But GAH I kept waiting for these two to just give it up already and get over their squabbling. And then they did and YAY because I like them together much more than not-together.
Stepping out as a couple came with an entirely new set of drama for Tabby and Shy: that of convincing Tabby's father that Shy was worthy enough for his daughter. (She was no angel herself, though, seriously.)
You know what? I loved reading it, all of it. The drama, the back-and-forth, the characters. The backstories. All of it. This is a world that is entirely new to me and I want more. I don't even care that the main characters were dramatic and stubborn sometimes - I forgive them for that because the story was so much fun and the secondary characters were so incredible. It was fun to be able to visualize everything so well and see it all play out inside of my head.
I found that I was reading Own The Wind compulsively pretty soon after starting the story. I didn't want to put it down. I love the relationships these biker-friends had, they were like a family, and I love those brotherhood-type bonds that were made as the club members moved up their ranks. Shy occupies an important place in the Chaos club and is highly respected by other members and by Tabby's father - any trouble he gets when he begins dating Tabby is purely of a fatherly nature and has nothing to do with his status in the club. He really is a stand-up guy, even though he has had a shady past, and the rest of the guys in the club are too. And Tabby - she is a strong, smart, feisty woman. (THAT BEING SAID: the way these two talk to each other is absolutely bananas, so not cool. But it worked for them and made the story interesting, so there's that. Shy is an alpha-male and Tabby very much likes that about him. And she gives as good as she gets, no worries there.)
I'm absolutely continuing this series. It was like reality TV + ice cream, this one. Sometimes I just want books like this and that's all. I recommend Own The Wind by Kristen Ashley to fans of Contemporary Romance and biker books. ...more
Crave by Melissa Darnell is the first book in The Clann Series, featuring Savannah Colbert and Tristan Coleman. Savannah and Tristan were the best oCrave by Melissa Darnell is the first book in The Clann Series, featuring Savannah Colbert and Tristan Coleman. Savannah and Tristan were the best of friends when they were younger, but their families forced them to end their friendship when they were still very young. They were not given exact reasons why. To this day, the descendants of The Clann continue to harass and bully Savannah both at school and outside of school, to the point she is practically an outcast.
The Clann is a group of powerful witches that live scattered among the population of Jacksonville, Texas.
Half-witch, half-vampire Savannah lives with her mother and grandmother, both witches that were exiled from The Clann in years past. They have been forbidden to teach Savannah any magic at all. Savannah has never understood the reason for the way Clann descendants treat her. Thankfully, she has one or two good friends and her dancing to keep her grounded.
Early in the story, Savannah misses several days of school because of a strange sickness. When she comes back, there is something different about her - her friends can't quite discern the reason for this change. Savannah also notices that nearly everyone is responding differently to her, some with excessive admiration which she finds very uncomfortable. Over time, she also notices other changes occurring, for example: her ability to dance has gone from not-very-good to better-than-anyone-else-at-school, and she eventually develops bloodlust.
Tristan is part of The Clann's head family - he is also a powerful witch. After having a crush on her for years, he hates that he has to stay away from Savannah. He nor the rest of the descendants have any idea that Savannah is part-vampire; they are only following the instructions of The Clann by staying away from her. Tristan's feelings toward Savannah grow to a point where he cannot deny them any longer and he chooses NOT to stay away from her, no matter the cost.
I initially was drawn to this book because the cover is so attractive. Admittedly, I've had this entire series on my Kindle for a few years. I put off reading it only because I saw some mixed reviews of this first book when it first released and I wanted to start the series without any influence. I think this was a really good decision. I ended up reading thru the entire book in just a few hours because I got caught up in the story. This is not the deepest paranormal story that I've ever read, but I found it very entertaining.
I liked Savannah. Reading her, I felt like I got a good handle on her character, what she had dealt with over the past few years, and what she was dealing with presently as her entire life began to change. Savannah's story didn't have a big coming-of-age feel to it; it felt more like a transition from thinking she is one thing to learning she is truly something different. Savannah is pretty honest with readers about how she feels by way of her thoughts and her dialogue - not all of her family/friends were privy to her entire thought processes, which made the story more interesting. Sometimes Savannah made some not-great decisions and I felt a little frustrated with her, but certainly this allows for some character growth across the series. Savannah has great friends and a great family and she appreciates these people. I love these well-written relationships.
Also regarding Savannah: (view spoiler)[With all of the changes associated with her turn into part-vampire, it seemed like Savannah was either slow to realize she was becoming a vampire or slow to want to admit this - this put her friends and family in danger. I couldn't really tell which, but it kept jumping out to me that perhaps she should realize what is going on over and over. I mean, I didn't like the story any less, but I did think this more than once while I was reading. (hide spoiler)]
I like Tristan too. At the end of the book, I feel like I know Savannah more, but I do like Tristan very much. I like that he wants to make his own plans for his future instead of move ahead with what his parents have laid out for him. I like the fact that he pushed back against the Clann rules that didn't feel right to him, especially the rule about contact with Savannah. I like that he sticks up for Savannah when she is being bullied by members of his own Clann. He is respectful of Savannah and I love this.
Both Savannah and Tristan are different people at the end of this book than they were at the beginning, and I'm curious about where the rest of this series will take them.
The romance between these two is very slow, built on top of a crush that already exists for both of them. For a couple of reasons, Savannah was unsure of Tristan's intentions. Because he really liked her, he was patient and respectful -- he took his time proving to her that he was not like the other guys, that he liked her truly, not because of her new, special, unusual circumstances. He also proved to her that he had always liked her and that his feelings were genuine and deep.
Crave was a fun read. It felt convenient plot-wise, yes. But in truth, I have never gotten tired of this type of story and I was transported someplace else while I read this, which is the main reason that I read anyway. FURTHER and even better, I think that my entire house could read this book - it felt safe for all-ages readers. I would recommend Crave to readers that enjoy young adult paranormal stories with romance. ["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
Veronica's relationship advice bit, Dear Veronica, is growing more successful, which is great. She should be happy about this, and she kind of is, butVeronica's relationship advice bit, Dear Veronica, is growing more successful, which is great. She should be happy about this, and she kind of is, but she's also a little bit freaked out that someone will find out that she has been lying - she doesn't really know all that much about relationships. People just think that she does because she lived in New York City for a while. Truth is, her time in New York wasn't all that great, she hated it, and that's why she came home. Faking her way through Dear Veronica is exhausting. And it could be embarrassing if anyone finds out.
Gabe is the new librarian in town. He only signed a one-year contract with the library, planning to live it up in the mountains while he can, before he has to head back to New York City to take over his part of his family's business.
Gabe meets Veronica while out one night. She doesn't make the best first impression on him, but she quickly grows on him. She eventually shares her secrets with Gabe, who decides that he can help her. Gabe doesn't count on falling for her in the process and having to decide what to do about working with his family in New York (Veronica hates it there) or staying in Wyoming where Veronica is happy.
You guys know that I love Victoria Dahl because of her take-charge, empowered, independent-women leading characters, right?
Veronica is not really one of these women, which makes Taking The Heat a little bit different than the other books in this series. At first, I thought that maybe I didn't like the book because I missed that strong-woman aspect, but Veronica began to grow on me in the second half of the book. After I thought about her for a little bit, I realized that I liked her (and the story) more than I originally thought. Veronica's insecurities over her "relationship" secrets did not define her, and she didn't let herself get too dragged down by these things. This is important because she had to make a decision to make some changes to herself, her career, etc and then actually DO them. It took courage to trust Gabe enough to tell him her deepest and darkest things, and then to let him help her out like he did. (It probably would have been much easier to just keep lying.)
(Also I'm not sure I could have done what she did. I'm not that great at faking things. I wouldn't be able to keep the secrets long enough.)
Veronica's character is not super strong, but she isn't weak either. She has just had different life experiences than the other women in her circle of friends.
Gabe's character is also a little different than the other guys in this series. Yes, he's outdoorsy and rugged like the others, but he doesn't have a "manly" job like the rest of them do. Also, Gabe is sensitive. Gabe felt very nerdy-is-sexy because of how he is written and I really liked that.
Veronica and Gabe go together well. They made me laugh, which is very true to a Victoria Dahl story. I think that the comic relief is particularly great in this book because (view spoiler)[the virginity aspect of their relationship (hide spoiler)] could have gotten a little awkward. Their ease with one another made this much better.
As usual, I love the setting. And I love the cameos from the secondary friends. I love how their romance grew and how they only had eyes for one another. I ended up loving this book and will likely reread/relisten to it even though it isn't my favorite from the series.
I recommend Taking The Heat by Victoria Dahl to readers that enjoy adult contemporary romance with great chemistry in the romance and some humor.
Audiobook Notes: The audiobook format of Taking The Heat by Victoria Dahl is published by RecordedBooks and is 11 hours and 8 minutes, Unabridged. It is narrated by Celeste Ciulla, who narrated the other books in this series. I've enjoyed listening to this series on audiobook and I'm glad that I bought these audios so I can re-listen. I plan to. They aren't my very favorite audiobooks, but I would certainly recommend them to first readers or for rereads.
I am such a big fan of Victoria Dahl's books. I say that over and over, but I am always excited about how she writes these strong, sassy, independentI am such a big fan of Victoria Dahl's books. I say that over and over, but I am always excited about how she writes these strong, sassy, independent women that are comfortable with themselves but also have vulnerabilities; this combination makes for such great storylines. (Her heroes are pretty awesome too.)
Flirting With Disaster features Isabelle West (finally!), one of the original trio of best friends from Looking For Trouble and Fanning The Flames, and US Deputy Marshal Tom Duncan. I've been waiting for Isabelle's story!
Isabelle is the most introverted of the three friends, preferring to live outside of Jackson city limits, keeping a low profile, and maintaining as much privacy as possible. Tom is in town on a temporary assignment. His assignment's base of activities is at a house near Isabelle's, which irks her a great deal since she chose her property for its privacy. When Tom stops by Isabelle's house to introduce himself and ask some routine interview questions, her less-than-friendly behavior makes him curious about what she could be hiding. Tom determines that she may have a secret or two up her sleeve, which she in fact does. The very fact that the US Marshal's office is in town sends Isabelle into panic-mode because she feels certain that she has finally been found. She isn't fooling Tom; he just needs to figure out why she is hiding.
But Tom likes her. He doesn't want to find out her secrets only to turn her in and get her into trouble - he knows that he can probably help her with whatever is going on. If, and it is a BIG if, she will just trust him.
Not having met Tom before, it is great to meet him as a US Deputy Marshal. He is professional and efficient and he does his job well. But his attraction to Isabelle presents a problem - he can't go around being massively attracted to the neighbor nearby when there are people depending on him to do good work, to stay safe and alive. But WHOA, Tom thinks, she is so pretty! And feisty, which he likes actually. And she is self-assured and confident, which is downright crushworthy.
Meanwhile, Isabelle is finally showing some of herself to readers after being so guarded in the previous installments of this series. NOW we are beginning to see WHY she is so guarded and holy batman! she has a great backstory! More than that, she has a great life carved out for herself in town but will she be able to keep it if she gets involved with Tom Duncan?
Lots at stake. Is trust an option?
I love the way Isabelle only makes herself more obvious the more she tries to be secretive. She is the one that tips Tom off herself, and he secretly begins to seek out what she is hiding. So here are two people that are increasingly crazy about each other...both keeping these secrets that just keep growing. It's funny at times, the way these two go back and forth, and this author is so good at writing humor into her stories. I was so into this particular installment that I couldn't stand to put the book down. Actually, I hardly put the book down. I cooked dinner with my Kindle on the counter beside of the stovetop and listened to the audiobook when I wasn't reading on my Kindle.
Flirting With Disaster is my favorite in this series so far, hands down. Writing secrets into romances and stories can feel tricky for me to read sometimes, but this isn't the first time that Ms. Dahl's has done it and done it very well. Here, it plays out realistically and works out for all parties in the end.
Sidenote: the new characters in this book are so, so great - Isabelle's neighbor and Tom's partner? Love them. Also there is a new friend that is invited to be a part of the girls' night out, and the next installment will be her story. Her name is Veronica! And as before with this series, I am smitten with Ms. Dahl's choice of Jackson, Wyoming for the setting.
I recommend Flirting With Disaster by Victoria Dahl for readers that enjoy adult contemporary romance with strong female heroines and a great accompanying plotline. I'm not sure how long this series will be continuing, but I hope it goes on for a while. I'm loving it.
Audiobook Notes: The audiobook format of Flirting With Disaster by Victoria Dahl is published by RecordedBooks and is 11 hours and 23 minutes, Unabridged. It is narrated by Celeste Ciulla, who narrated the first book in the series and continues this installment with her strong-sounding narrative, perfect for Isabelle who is a strong, independent character. It took me a little while to get used to this narrator's reading both in the first installment and again in this audio, but I eventually did and ended up enjoying the listen. **A note to this audiobook's credit: included at the end of Flirting With Disaster is the prequel novella, Fanning The Flames, which I have already read and loved. I listened to it, since I hadn't heard it yet, and of course, I loved it as well. So this audiobook is like a bonus, which is always a very cool thing. ...more