Why The River Runs by JoAnna Grace

34856287Blurb: Some call this river a taker of souls, a reaper. Sanguine is the Spanish word for blood and God knows plenty has been spilled in its murky depths. As Tina floats on her back, she couldn’t help but feel its more of an artery, giving life to its limbs.
Not everyone would agree.

Tough as nails, Tina Foster, doesn’t have time for a relationship. She’s far too busy running her family construction company. Tina’s take charge attitude may intimidate some, but to others, she’s a rock, a woman with a plan. Taming a heart this strong will take a man up for a challenge, and so far, there haven’t been too many contenders worthy of her time.

Bo Galloway is returning to Riverview after a rough few years. He’s home to take care of his grandmother and prays for a chance at redemption and a fresh start. Untrusting of most women, he doesn’t know what to think of his new boss. He definitely didn’t expect to admire Tina Foster. Bo’s only shot at getting Tina to notice him is to be as strong as she is.

Just like the waters of the Sanguine, Bo and Tina must find their flow. Will the waters sweep away their only chance at true love, or nourish a relationship as steady as the river itself?

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4 Stars

I really liked this book.  Except, the fact that Bo went like super alpha towards the end which was a bit inconsistent with his character in the beginning of the book.

I liked Bo though, his personality was calm cool and collected.  He reminded me of one of those people that don’t speak that much but when they do, you listen, cause you know its something important.  Those kind of people fascinate me cause I can’t keep my gab shut! 😉 His love of family was inspiring considering his shaky past, but I loved that he wasn’t jaded by it.  I wouldn’t have blamed him one bit if he was.

And then there’s Tina. Ah, I may have a ladie boner for this woman!  She had sass without coming off as a diva.  She makes you think YES! Finally a woman who is REAL! The transition between her showing strength and being vulnerable was great!  It felt very authentic.

The love story started slow but then once it did it was like someone slammed on the gas which jarred me a bit but I got over it pretty quickly since the story was so good. The water references were consistent and relevant and I loved how they were incorporated into the story.

I’d read more from this author.

Curly Carla_small

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Stage Kissed by Cassie Mae & Kelley Lynn

Blurb:
35223581Sixteen-year-old Kate knows how to juggle. From basketball practices to her shifts at Jamba Juice, Kate flies through her days wondering if she got a decent meal. When she lands a role in the school play, adding yet another task to her already full schedule, Kate starts fumbling through her routine, resorting to desperate measures to get the grades expected of her.

Co-worker and classmate Seth isn’t much of a juggler. Crowds and attention? Not his thing. So witnessing Kate’s ability to handle it all leaves Seth in awe. He could never do it. But then one of the leading actors in the play gets tonsillitis days before opening night, and Kate volunteers Seth to replace him. With his eidetic memory and killer dance moves, Seth’s the obvious choice—if it weren’t for his social anxiety.

With Seth’s growing—and unwanted—popularity and Kate spreading herself too thin, they start to wonder if their friendship will even last through the performances. But putting these two into a romance on stage has an effect neither of them could predict.

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My Review:
4 stars — Technically I did receive an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest and unbiased review/opinion, but yet again I was behind so I only read half of the ARC and then switched over to my preordered copy when it showed up on my Kindle.

You guys, this book was just all sorts of young adult goodness.  It contained two very *real* characters dealing with teen problems that really do NOT get addressed that much in young adult books — how to deal with being so busy!!!  Honestly, I don’t know how Seth and Kate did it.  I still don’t, even after finishing the book.  But I guess that’s the point, they *didn’t* deal with it that well.  But seriously folks, when was the last time you read a book that dealt with a seriously relevant and not over the top topic?  I LOVE it!  It was so frustrating to read about too, b/c you just want to shout “SAY NO!” but at the same time both authors made me believe in how hard it was for both Seth and Kate (mostly Kate).

One of the other aspects that I adored about this book is that both main characters were extremely likable but very different.  Kate fascinated me.  She was uber popular because she was super nice and friendly to EVERYONE, but at the same time she avoided deep friendships.  And in some ways, her “niceness” became a bit of her downfall.  Honestly it’s been a long time since I’ve adored a character while simultaneously being ridiculously frustrated with the same character.  She made me want to bang my head on a wall, but I could also honestly see how things in her life spiraled so out of control.  My heart broke for her every time her life got overwhelming and she couldn’t see a way out.  I have no doubt that there are many teenagers who can relate (heck many adults can relate).  And while I hated that she made some of the choices that she did, I kind of got it.  A part of me wanted her to learn and grow faster than she was.  I missed some of that internal enlightenment I think.  I got some of it, but I wanted a bit more from her.  But she made me cry TWO SEPARATE TIMES in this book, she made me feel just so much.

And then there’s sweet Seth.  How can I not love a shorter, shy cutie??  I mean, seriously.  Seth was such an interesting counterpart to Kate, and yet I could see what drew them to each other.  And again, he was such a great guy!!  Not without his own flaws, though he frustrated me a lot less than Kate.  Honestly, the book felt a little less balanced b/c he didn’t seem to have quite the same struggles.  I know he had the social anxiety and shyness to overcome, but I felt like his development got a bit lost in favour of the struggles Kate was going through.  So again, I wanted just a bit more depth from him.  But despite that, I still loved him.  I loved how he took care of Shelby and helped out his family, and how completely oblivious he was to his own attractiveness (both physical and personality-wise).  I loved how he cared for Kate and really paid attention to her and noticed her struggling and tried to be there for her, pushing past her natural barriers.  And it was awesome to see him embrace the role of Will!!  And OMG his kiss made me swoon!!

So yeah, this book is great to put a smile on your face.  I think I wasn’t quite in the mood for a YA book right now, b/c you kind of have to be in the right frame of mind to read about teenagers being typical teenagers.  But it made me smile giddily, giggle, and of course cry big tears, so it was definitely a success.  🙂

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A Girl Like Me by Ginger Scott

Blurb:
35166507I’m not supposed to be here.

Death has come for me more than once, and each time it’s been a boy who’s stood between me and my final breath.

I called him Christopher when he saved me as a child. When he came into my life again, only months ago, I knew him as Wes. Just as he did the time before, he disappeared the moment he made sure I was out of harm’s way; as if I didn’t need any more saving.

This time, though, death left me with a reminder of how powerful it is. I know it meant to strip me of my spirit again, but it failed.

Even so, I know I need Wes to survive. Our souls are woven together somehow, our every breath in sync. I feel it, even though everyone says I shouldn’t.

The world thinks he’s missing.
His loved ones don’t want to believe he’s dead.
Only I know just how special he is.

I’m going to find him and bring him home, where he belongs. Together, we’ll face impossible—we’ll rewrite our ending.

And when the bad guys come calling, we will always win.

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My Review:
4.5 stars — Technically I did receive an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest and unbiased review/opinion, but since I was so behind, I just read the copy that I preordered and showed up on my Kindle.  🙂

I ended up rereading book one before diving into this book, hence why I was behind on my ARC reading, but it was so nice to be fully immersed in this book universe again so I remembered absolutely everything.  I’m just that kind of girl.  I always worry that the sequel is not going to live up to the first book, especially when the first book blows you completely away.  I’m happy to say that for *me*, this book did NOT let me down!!  While I did find it to be a slightly slower read than the first book, I was still so ridiculously satisfied with all the answers I got and where the story ended up going.

For those readers that are curious about the paranormal aspect, I can definitively say that this is not a strictly contemporary read.  I’ll leave the rest for the book to dive into, but the hint of paranormal/sci-fi is definitely there.  I know that’s not everyone’s bag, but I actually really enjoyed how it felt very natural to the story, but also didn’t take OVER the story.  It’s hard to place this fully into a paranormal/sci-fi genre, b/c it still had a very contemporary feel despite that aspect.  It was, in some ways, a bit of a coming-of-age story, or a story about a character’s growth and struggles with some very real life problems.  So take from that what you will.  I can see folks who are strictly contemporary maybe not enjoying this, and I can see folks who are all-paranormal-all-the-time not enjoying it either.  But for those readers that like to cross into both, it was a delicious mix.  There is a part of me that maybe was still left with a whole schwak of questions as a result, but for some reason I was OK with that.  It fit the story.

Joss was entirely inspiring in this book.  You really get to see her shine, and I was raising my hands in solidarity for her choices for most of this book.  I honestly had no idea where this book was going to go after the ending of the last one.  And it honestly surprised me a LOT with the different twists and turns it took.  Certain plot aspects that I thought would be the main ones ended up being somewhat resolved and we were plunged into the next obstacle.  Other side plots I had never even considered were presented and really added to the story as a whole (Grace).  But I particularly loved what Ms. Scott did with Joss, and how Joss handled some of the revelations.  She reacted just as I expected her to, even if I didn’t realize it until after I read it.  It was like “yup, that’s Joss.”  The thing that I really love about this character is that she’s NOTHING LIKE ME.  Like, nothing.  I would have totally reacted in completely different ways, but because of the way she was written, I fully bought into every decision and action she made.  I empathized with her, and genuinely LIKED her.  That’s good writing yo.

And then there’s Wes.  Oh Wes.  You know what I loved about him in this book?  He wasn’t perfect.  He made bad choices, decisions that hurt the people he loved.  He was vulnerable, and afraid at times.  He was confused.  He had a lot going on in his own story.  But through it all I still loved him.  And I still rooted for him.

And I loved Wes and Joss together.  They make my heart so happy.  Their journey is just so fraught with obstacles that I really feel like Ms. Scott owes it to them (and us) to write them a little short story where everything is happy and awesome and we get to just revel in the fun that is them for like 50 pages.  I realize most people would find that boring, and thus it will never happen, but a girl can dream.  They’re so sassy and snarky with each other, but also so ridiculously sweet, and just REAL with each other too.

I LOVED the developments we got with Joss’s Dad.  I fully bought into his growth, and the growth of their relationship.  He still broke my heart, but I was all in.  And I loved that we got to learn more about Joss’s Mom, often through Grace, and that the answers weren’t all Hollywood/storybook clean and good, but that they felt real and believable and shed some light on other topics.  I loved Grace and what she added to the story (as I’ve already said).

And as always, I LOVED our secondary characters.  Kyle, Taryn, TK and Levi were da bomb dot com.  Even Bria had a tiny moment.  I love when a book gives us not only fabulous main characters to love, but an amazing supporting cast.

So yeah.  There’s my novel of a review.  This book left me happy and satisfied.  The only reason it’s not a full 5 stars is because I felt like the pacing could have been tightened up in places.  But I was so satisfied with so many other aspects, that it really didn’t affect me as much as it might have in another novel.  And on a strange final sidenote, I do not have any interest in baseball as a sport whatsoever.  But this novel actually made me consider watching a game with my Mom…that’s a miracle folks, a miracle.

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Fix Her Up by Carey Heywood

Blurb:
34229481Fall in love with this hot and hilarious new romantic comedy from New York Times Bestselling author Carey Heywood!

Finley Reeves is the queen of bad mistakes. Fresh off a bad divorce, she decides to rebuild her life from the ground up – starting with a fixer-upper that’s got more leaks than the Titanic. Deciding to tackle this project alone might be her biggest mistake of all…. That is, until Noah Thompson shows up at her front door like a knight in a shining tool belt and makes her an offer she’d be crazy to refuse.

Noah’s sexy, rugged, and good with his hands, but Finley swears she doesn’t need his help – in the basement, or in the bedroom. Can this unlikely couple build a future together? Or will this be one fixer-upper that is better off left alone?

(A fun and sexy Contemporary Romance, ages 17+)

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My Review:
3.5 stars — I received a free copy in exchange for an honest and unbiased review/opinion.

This was just a good old fashioned adorable romance.  If you want a romance that’s gonna leave you feeling happy and basically like the world is awesome, then this is the book for you!  I LOVED Noah and Finley’s love story.  It was just cute, and fairly uncomplicated, and sometimes that’s just what you need, you know?  It’s not that they didn’t have a few pitfalls here and there, but they were pretty minor, so it was mostly just a feel-good read.

I loved how strong and motivated Finley was.  She really had something to prove to herself, and I think she accomplished that.  And seeing her tackle all those projects just screamed girl power!  I loved that she was wary of Noah’s offer of help too, it fit with her character, and come on…it does seem a bit too good to be true, you know?  I will admit that near the end I was growing a bit tired of her continual skepticism of Noah, not that I don’t think it could happen based on what she went through, but I think I needed a bit more diving into her past in order to make me really feel how slowly she was to warm up and trust.

Noah was just all around goodness.  Maybe a bit too good to be true, but honestly I’m not complaining.  And I loved that there really wasn’t anything hugely wrong with him, he didn’t have any hang ups, it really honestly was a case of him not meeting the right girl before Finley.  He was gentle and kind, but forceful when necessary.  He was supportive of Finley, and it just came naturally to him.  I loved the complicated relationships he had with his siblings, it wasn’t all sunshine and roses, but you could still feel the love.

And I really loved how slowly the relationship progressed.  Not that there wasn’t a part of me that was impatient for a kiss or for something more, but the other side of me was so happy to see them developing the friendship first, it made me really believe in the pace their relationship developed.  And when we finally got to the steamy scenes, they were so satisfying and worth the wait!  Occasionally I wanted to see a bit more of their conversations and connection beyond the renovations, it felt like that got skipped over at times in the time jumps, but it wasn’t enough to make me unhappy with it.

Obviously great side characters.  I loved both sets of parents, they were quirky but very loving.  And I’m so hoping that this series is going to follow all the Thompson siblings, b/c I’ve fallen in love with most of them.  If I’m right, then I’m especially looking forward to Asher’s story and Abby’s story.

All in all a great straightforward read!  Honestly, the only thing holding it off a full 4 stars is me wanting a bit more depth in both characters, but I’m greedy like that.

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Shifter in Paradise by Susan Kearney

shifter I paradiseBlurb: Ari Dillon is not your ordinary hero. He’s willing to lie, deceive, and hijack a private jet—all in the name of his cause. So if abducting billionaire Samantha Bessinger is the only way Ari can get her alone, he’ll do it.

Real estate mogul Samantha has never met anyone like Ari. He’s charming, ruthless, and almost irresistible. Yet when he crash-lands her jet onto a deserted Caribbean island and reveals his shapeshifting secrets, she can’t deny he’s one of a kind.

But just because he shows her things she never knew were possible, doesn’t prove they are soul mates as he claims. While Samantha didn’t become a success by being a pushover, is she enough of a match for the devil in paradise?

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DNF

I had to DNF this one at about 30%. As soon as the female MC allowed her attraction to override her common sense I was done. I just lost interest with this one REALLY fast after that.

Curly Carla_small

Never Let You Go by Katy Regnery

Blurb:
25653505Regret, betrayal, kidnapping, loss, madness, abuse, passion, love.

In this modern retelling of Hansel and Gretel, thirteen-year-old foster children Griselda and Holden escape from their abductor after three years of brutal captivity, and try to cross the Shenandoah River on foot. Tragically, one of them makes it to safety, but the other is left behind.

Ten years later, Griselda’s boyfriend drags her to a fight club grudge match, and her world is turned upside down when she watches Holden step into the ring.

Though the connection between them is fierce, bitter regret, simmering rage, and a tangle of physical and emotional scars lie between them, just as dangerous as the white water of the Shenandoah.

Never Let You Go is a story of fear and hope, defeat and survival, and two people–once profoundly broken–who discover that love is the only thing that can make them whole again.

***

This is a standalone novel inspired by Hansel and Gretel.

New Adult Contemporary Romance: Due to profanity, scenes of physical abuse and very strong sexual content, this book is not intended for readers under the age of 18. (Note: Children are not sexually abused in this book.)

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My Review:
4.5 stars — OK, I adore this author, so much so that I flew across the country to meet her this past weekend at an author signing, hence why I was trying to read her books beforehand.  But as yet that love had only been concentrated on her Blueberry Lane series.  I hadn’t been enthralled by the previous two Modern Fairytale stories I’d read of hers, despite the rave reviews — which bummed me out big time.  But in all honesty, when I initially bought these ebooks a few years ago, this is the story that grabbed my attention the most.  I’m not sure if it’s the tragedy of it all, the horror of a kidnapping, or just the uniqueness of doing a spin on the Hansel and Gretel fairytale (which you have to admit, does NOT get retold very often), but I was drawn to this story.  So to say that I was relieved that I fell in love with it is kind of an understatement.  I know it’s probably silly to put so much thought and angst into loving every story by an author, b/c even with my all time favourite authors I haven’t loved EVERY story, but I really loved the concept of contemporary fairytale retellings, so I *WANTED* to love these stories.  AND FINALLY I found my match!!

So after that long winded introduction, what did I fall in love with?  Oh it’s all Holden and Griselda.  From the many flashbacks, both good memories and nightmares, to the truly long and arduous journey to their HEA.  I’m not a huge fan of HIGH angst, and I wouldn’t say this is HIGH, but it is higher…  But there was just something about their obvious connection and love for each other that kept drawing me back in over and over again, cringing every time they hit a setback, and praying that their HEA was just around the corner.

I even understood all of their emotional turmoil, like Gris’s inability to trust the people she loves not to leave her, and her attempts to isolate herself.  And Holden sort of isolated himself as well, but in a bit of a different way.  In all honesty, they both behaved badly at times to those around them, but I forgave them for it because of all they went through.  And they both grew and changed and made really good choices in the end.

And come on, Holden was extremely swoonworthy.  I can’t even tell you how many times he made me rip my heart out and offer it to him on a silver platter.  He was that intriguing mix of sexy aggressive protective boy with this wounded puppy who just wants to be loved, his devotion to Gris was just unmatched.  And I felt like his stammer added something to his character and their experiences.

I loved the emotions that this book wrung out of me.  The desperation, the grief, the despair, the way they would latch on to each other.  OMG, I was just totally all in.  And I loved that we got periods of bliss throughout, so that it wasn’t all hardship over and over again.  We really got to see their relationship change and grow depending on what was going on in their lives.  I even loved the few sideplot loose ends that got tied up, that was an unexpected bonus.

So yeah, not my best review…that’s what happens when I read a book on holidays.  Not only do I have less time to read, so it takes me a few days to get through a book, but then I also find it hard to pin down my thoughts to more specifics, instead of just “I LOVED IT!”  I did find that the book dragged in places, but because of not being able to devote time to the book, I wasn’t sure if that was actually the case or more the circumstances of my reading.  Ah well, you get what you get and you don’t get upset.  H+G Forever baby.

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True North by Kelly Collins

true northBlurb:  Scarred.  Hopeless.  Lost.

Alexa Cross leaves Los Angeles with a scarred heart, beat-up car, and a secret. She’s ready to move on and leave her past behind, but fate has had a way of knocking her right back down.   Marooned in the middle of nowhere—she imagines misfortune has dealt its final blow, but this time, destiny seems to have a different plan when she ends up in a place aptly called The Last Resort.

Reassembling shattered lives is what innately sexy, bar owner, Zane Abbamonte, does best, and it rarely ends well for him.  When he sees a woman stranded on the side of the road, desperate and alone, the otherwise irascible biker rescues her without hesitation, but Zane harbors secrets of his own. When Alexa begins to uncover the truth about Zane, the weight of her past comes crashing back. Her instincts say, “Run!” but her heart tells her to stay.

Glimpsing the chance for a future together, Zane and Alexa must confront their “ghosts” and navigate through their fears. Will The Last Resort be the end of their encounter or the beginning of everything they desire?

Find out in True North.

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3 stars

The beginning was great. Then it just kinda lost steam. I felt her journey to find herself became something else entirely by the end.  There were too many cliches thrown in. Misconceptions, deliberate misunderstandings, stuff like that.  And I was rolling my eyes in the beginning but held out hope that it would get better.  But then…

Everything seemed to be over-explained. As if the author didn’t think the reader would get the subtle nuances of the relationship.  Which in turn forced the relationship to progress before it was ready.  They moved in together incredibly early, especially for him being a parent.  And I get the suspending of reality in a book, but I felt this was just too much to ask of us.  And its not like I don’t get it could happen, hell, I moved in my then boyfriend (now-husband) two months after we started dating so I get a fast progressing love story.  This one was just beyond my ability to believe.

By the end I was a bit disappointed honestly.  It was a feel good book with no real climax. And sometimes those are good.  but this time, for me, it was only okay.

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Enforce (Eagle Elite #1.5) by Rachel Van Dyken

23931211Blurb: There’s two sides to every story…

And ours?
Isn’t pretty… Then again,
what’s pretty about the mafia?
Trace Rooks, that’s what.
But she only wants one of us, and I’ll kill him before I let him have her.
The only problem ?
We’re cousins .
And she may just be our long lost enemy.
Whoever said college was hard, clearly didn’t attend Eagle Elite University.
Welcome to hell also known as the Mafia where blood is thicker than life, and to keep
yours?
Well, keep your friends close, and your enemies?
Even closer…

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DNF

This book made NO sense whatsoever! I’m so upset because I have never reacted this way to a book by RVD before. I don’t even know what plot was. Something like, mafia were trying to protect there asses by running a college and also they were the heads of their families, but they were only like 22? And then there was a new girl who was nice so they were mean to her to protect her? From what I have no idea. And they murdered and sexually manipulated people but I’m supposed to care about them? I just don’t get it.

Curly Carla_small

Capture (Seaside Pictures #1) by Rachel Van Dyken

26111797BlurbLosing your ability to speak at the age of seventeen; it’s not normal or fair.
But trauma, has a way of throwing normality out the window.
Dani lives anything but a normal life.
Her sister is married to one of the biggest names in Hollywood.
Her best friends are rockstar duo AD2.And she has more love around her than most people experience in a lifetime.
But that doesn’t change the fact their parents are dead.
Or that it’s her fault.

It seems her new normal is being a mute, living on the inside, unable to actually communicate on the outside.
That is until Hollywood’s newest heartthrob Lincoln Greene hires her as his assistant for the summer.
He’s gorgeous, completely unavailable, and unobtainable.
But that doesn’t stop her from wondering… if things were different…would he want her?
If she was whole, would he be the other half?

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3 stars

The beginning seemed a to start in the middle of the story and jarred me a bit but it picked up pretty quickly.  I don’t really know how I feel about this book. The caption reads #1 but apparently this is the second series set in this world so I feel like I missed so much of everyone’s back story.

There were so many side characters that were coupled I just knew that they each had their own book. And now I want to know their stories for GP but I don’t know if I like the book that much to read SIX other books to get all the subtle context.

I felt her selective muteness was made out to be a bigger deal than I it actually was. It seemed more of a plot device than a real part of the story.

Their attraction went from simmer to full boil too quickly in my opinion.  And they kept playing at staying away from each other when it was obvious they liked each other, so I kept wondering why stay away?  There was no real reason other than the overprotective men in her family. And honestly, that got a little stale after a while. They treated her like she was some fragile flower and it was quite annoying.

I think I’ll shelve this series and come back to it at a later time.  Maybe some time will change my perspective on the characters.

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Déjà Revu May 22nd, 2017

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Déjà Revu is a weekly review round-up that is open to all book review blogs.