Constant by Rachel Higginson

Blurb:
36286507Fifteen years ago I met Sayer Wesley. I fell in love with him. I promised I would never leave him. I swore nothing could break us apart.

Five years ago I broke my promise. I ran away. I took the one secret that could destroy us both and disappeared.

Five days ago I thought I saw him.

I knew it was impossible. Sayer was locked away, serving a deserved sentence in federal prison. He couldn’t find me.

He wouldn’t find me. I was too good at hiding. Too good at surviving.

Because if Sayer ever found me, there would be hell to pay for a plethora of sins. The worst of which, he didn’t even know about.

Five hours ago, I told myself I was crazy.

Five minutes ago, I saw him again.

Five seconds ago, I was too late.

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My Review:
4.5 stars — Another fabulous beta read!!

DAMN!!  Like holy shitsnacks people.  I was curious about this book from the first moment Ms. Higginson hinted at the blurb in her street team.  I mean, seriously…how can you not be intrigued by that??  It was both everything I was expecting and totally took me by surprise all at the same time.

This may be a slightly different genre for Ms. Higginson, but she brings her epic voice with her to each of the characters.  Honestly, for me it doesn’t matter what genre she writes, I know I’m going to fall in love.  Her characters have snark and sass and heart and depth.  And the voice of the BOOK even screams Rachel Higginson.  There’s just something about the way she writes that gets to me every time, and she got me this time too.  When you’re having to talk yourself out of highlighting Caroline’s conversation with a Cherry Coke bottle, you know you’re in trouble.

I’m neither a lover nor hater of past/flashback chapters.  But I can honestly say that they worked amazingly well in this story.  They were scattered about in such a way that we learn just enough to tantalize and give us glimpses at both past events and the past incarnations of our characters.  They melded with the storyline perfectly for me.  And if I’m being honest, my favourite chapters were the past chapters.  There’s just something about young Caro and Sayer (and Frankie and Gus) that had me hooked.  And I can’t tell you how many times I was on the edge of my seat.

The present chapters actually provided a contrast in pacing.  While the past chapters felt quick, the present chapters were a bit more introspective at times for Caroline.  Occasionally that didn’t work for me, but I felt like the pace picked up in the second half of the book, and it was a ride right to the end.  And can I just remind everyone that this is a DUET.  So, you know…try not to be too surprised with the ending.  I wasn’t.

The relationship between Caroline and Sayer was SUPER strange.  And I knew it had to be.  Honestly, I was wondering how Ms. Higginson was going to be able to pull it off.  I mean, from the blurb we know that she was in love with him, and we also know she’s now frightened of him…so I was curious how she was going to pull off convincing me of both of those emotions.  And I was a bit concerned with how *I* would feel about Sayer as a result.  But I honestly shouldn’t have worried, Ms. Higginson makes it all work out in the end.  I won’t give anything away, but I both loved him and was occasionally disturbed by him.  Which is a strange feeling to have for a hero.

Caroline was just everything I love in a Higginson heroine.  Which is not to say she’s a cookie cutter of any of her previous heroines, but she was flawed and frustrating and brave and sassy and all those things that I somehow end up loving.

Can I give props to secondary characters too?  From past characters (Frankie and Gus) to present characters (Juliet, Francesca, Maggie, and Jesse) to evil characters, they all just added their own something to the story.

And now we wait.  In agony.  You have no idea how hard it is for me not to beg and plead for hints.  But honestly?  I prefer to wait and devour the whole thing instead of ruining it.  I’ll just keep chanting February, February, February….

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Shattered Stars (Broken Skies #3) by Theresa Kay

36480990Blurb: Unexpected allies. Unexpected betrayals. Unexpected abilities.

The last thing Jax Mitchell ever wanted was to be a weapon. Her abilities are unpredictable at best, but with her twin lost, there’s no one else with enough power to take on Jastren and his mental manipulations. She doesn’t have to do it alone, though. Not only can she rely on the unwavering support of Lir, Rym, and her human friends, she also ends up with help from a surprising source.

Meanwhile, her twin brother Jace—his body controlled by Jastren, and the shattered pieces of his mind locked inside—has become a monster. The struggle to hold on to what’s left of his humanity has left him weak and more confused than ever before. Every thought, every impulse, and every memory has the potential to destroy him—and everyone else around him.

The futures of both the humans and the E’rikon are on the line, but as ulterior motives and political machinations are revealed, it becomes clear that the betrayals aren’t restricted to only one species. Can Jax and Lir get everyone to work together in time to prevent the two species from destroying each other? Can Jace find some measure of redemption for all he has done? And will Jax be able to harness her powers… without losing herself in the process?

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5 stars

This story was fast paced and attention grabbing from the first page. This is not some easy plot that you can guess at the 30% point.  No, it makes you think and gasp and cry and rage!  And if you are a fan of Sci-fi like me you will appreciate not only this story but HOW it was written. It’s almost a throw back to the older authors with their deep world building and danger from multiple directions.  Such great story telling.

Jax is one of my favoritist and most memorable characters I’ve had the pleasure of reading about.  I could read about her forever.  She’s feisty, intelligent, responsible and incredibly vulnerable.  She has no qualms about fighting for what she believes in. One of the things I love about her is the fact that half the time she is playing it by ear. She has no idea how to handle everything going on around but she just doesn’t quit!  I can relate so hard to that you guys.  She is forgiving and isn’t too proud to accept help when she needs it.  I mean, yeah she can be a stubborn little shit too but the good outweighs the bad.  🙂

Lir is so understanding, like the perfect counterpart to her wildness and impulsiveness.  He grounds her when she needs it and doesn’t try to control her when she gets wild.  He just accepts her as she is and loves her.  This little alien boy has grown and matured over the course of this series. I think maybe even the most in this book TBH.  I really enjoyed this aspect of their relationship. It evolved into something we don’t often see in a Science Fiction/Dystopian.

I’m sad to see this story end, hopefully we can get a novella from her cause I need just a little it more to satisfy my love of this world and all its players.

Curly Carla_small

Broken Skies (Broken Skies #1) by Theresa Kay

20764638Blurb: Thirty years ago, civilization collapsed. Few survived.
Ten years ago, the aliens arrived…and stayed.
One year ago, I killed two men and went a little crazy.
Today, the aliens took my brother and I will do anything to get him back.

In seventeen-year-old Jax Mitchell’s world, humans are nearly extinct and alien settlers have arrived.

Until recently, the E’rikon have remained segregated in their city and ignored the few humans who have tried to engage them… but now they have taken Jax’s brother. To rescue him, she forms an uneasy alliance with a teenage E’rikon left stranded in the woods. She agrees to guide him to the city if he sneaks her past the human-proof barrier. Too bad it’s not that simple.
Jax, who cannot stand to be touched, finds that she’s drawn to the alien boy with bright green hair and jewel-like scales on his back. And he’s equally affected by her, the courageous redhead with haunted eyes. But she doesn’t know the alien’s true motives and he has no idea that she is much more than she seems.

With the aliens and the humans at odds, the connection forming between the two teens has consequences. What started off as a rescue mission sets a chain of events in motion which threatens not only the remaining humans and the growing alien society, but Earth itself.

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5 stars

~I just realized I never posted a review for this book on our blog! ~

This kind of book is my favorite. Aliens, sci-fi and post apacolyptic. Trust no one. Evil is about. That is what this book screamed to me as I read it. Ooooooh! I love when evil is about. It had it all, equal parts action, love, war, internal strife.

Jax had it hard. Like post apocolyptic hard. The background was detailed and I totally felt a connection with Jax. We are like BFF’s now. In fact, I may have a bit of a girl crush on her.

Jax is a bit of a bad ass. She finds paths when none seem possible. She perserveres when all is hopeless. I admire her greatly. She doesn’t use her past as an excuse to give up. She goes on. It’s hard, but anything worth doing is right? Even when she has no idea what she is doing, she doesn’t allow the idea of failure to settle in her mind. Its amazing really. She just steamrolls on.

Lir is the like a warm sun to her dark cold night. Fire and ice people. He has a close, loving family. A promising future within his community and an easy going personality. He would have to after the crap that happens to him at camp. He is down to earth and protective without being pushy. He lets her in and shows her it is okay to trust.

Flint was a favorite supporting character. Jax and he have a sibling like relationship. He looks out for her and she has no appreciation for it. If you have siblings you understand.

Her bio-brother is pretty cool too. They are twins and they have that spooky twin thing which I love. It was just them two for the longest time so they know they can rely on each other. He is a bit over-protective since her incident. Oops, nuff said on that.

The bad guy is pretty evil. He has control issues and seriously needs to talk it out with a shrink. Maybe he wasn’t loved enough as a child.

I have read this book a few times and it never gets old, so you should go read it too. Just saying.

Curly Carla_small

Pillowtalk by Cassie Mae

Blurb:
33401722In this heartfelt romance from the author of the All About Love series, two people who thought they’d given up on passion turn to each other for emotional support—and maybe something a little more physical.

 
Kennedy Walters has had a tough year. Now she’s come to the lakeside town of Lyra Valley to finally say goodbye to the memory of her first love. But while she’s staying at his sister’s B&B, Kennedy is shocked to find herself undeniably drawn to a handsome local heartthrob—especially since she isn’t  sure if she’s ready to move on.

Aaron Sheppard returned to Lyra Valley because he was fed up with the big city and everything it didn’t have to offer—like the beautiful, down-to-earth girl staying at the B&B. Aaron’s enjoying a little flirtation until he realizes that she’s Kennedy Walters, the girl who was dating his best friend. But after a power outage strands them together, Aaron and Kennedy wind up sharing some intimate conversation. And over the course of a night that neither will ever forget, they learn just how compatible they could be—if only they knew how to let go and fall into each other’s arms.

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My Review:
4.5 stars — I received a free copy through NetGalley in exchange for an honest and unbiased review/opinion.  (and actually, I sort of alpha/beta read this story as well)

I was kind of worried about rereading this one, just because it does pack an emotional punch, and sometimes when I know that going in I’ll avoid it (I do this with movies and TV shows too — *cough*Season 3 of Rectify*cough*).  But I hadn’t written a review after beta-reading this one (which I normally do), b/c I knew parts of the story were going to change and I wanted to read the final version before giving my final thoughts.  I’ve also been in a really picky reading mood, so I didn’t want that to affect my reading either…but alas, with release day coming up (and being here today) I knew I couldn’t put it off any longer! Unfortunately I feel like my mood did affect my reading a tiny bit, so I’m trying to channel my earlier thoughts as well to compensate.  Because I truly adored this story BOTH times I read it, and I want to do it justice.

So that sounds like I’m going to say something bad about this book, and that couldn’t be further from the truth.  Ms. Mae is one of my favourite authors because she always manages to give me very *real* characters, and she has done it once again with Kennedy and Aaron.  What I mean by real is that I feel like these are real human beings out in the world, that they are inherently flawed, but are the kinds of people I’d like to know.  And in this story they BOTH go through a whole gamut of emotions, and some of the most difficult ones: grief, betrayal, and guilt.  Ms. Mae didn’t just sluff off her responsibility while giving them the love story they deserve, she sucked out all my feels.

I could understand Kennedy’s grief so much.  Even just imagining losing the love of my life to that hateful disease, I’m not sure how I’d ever pull myself out of that grief.  I felt like the road that she traveled in this book was one that I could empathize with.  Yeah, she’s under a very silly misapprehension for much of the book, but I can honestly see my brain making such weird assumptions when in the thick of that grief.  Perhaps if you’ve never experienced grief, you might not understand how consuming it can be, but as someone who’s lost her father as a teen, I can wholeheartedly say that it can mess you up big time, and that everyone deals in different ways and at different speeds.  And so I felt for what Kennedy was going through, and how much she struggled between what she thought in her head and what she felt in her heart.

When I first heard of the concept of this story from Ms. Mae, I hadn’t understood just how impactful *Aaron’s* story would be.  I kind of thought the heartache would mostly be centered around Kennedy’s side.  But oh no, we get so much more in this story.  I can’t even imagine what it must be like to be Aaron and living with his own guilt and remorse and never feeling like he had the chance to resolve it.  I felt just as many feelings for him as I did for Kennedy.  And I felt his grief over the loss of his best friend too.  I thought it was kind of perfect that they were able to share that, it wasn’t something I had anticipated, but it was something that I loved about their dynamic.

And hoo boy, Aaron is MEGA book boyfriend.  Quiet, unassuming, a bit more nerdy?  DAMN.  I want him.  I do.  I want him.  And his dog, Charlie, too.  And his glasses.  GAH!

And their chemistry together really worked for me.  Not just in the steam section (which OMG, from the laundry room to the boathouse to the bedroom, DAMN), but I really felt their connection as friends too.  I felt the intimacy of their bond.  It happened pretty fast, but it worked for me somehow.  But I don’t mind insta-love sometimes, especially when people are older and know what they want.

There were a million favourite scenes in this book for me.  From the tree party to the dirt biking to the lake party for making me smile and swoon.  And then there’s the moment in the closet and on the dock for making me cry.  I felt everything, from light to heavy.  And it flowed seamlessly in the book, just as it did for Kennedy and Aaron.  And the ending was sweet and perfectly satisfying.  Which pretty much sums up how I feel.  It may have taken me on a rollercoaster of emotions, but it left me feeling sweetly satisfied.

And that’s what I have to say about that.

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The Opposite of You by Rachel Higginson

Blurb:
33932353I’ve sworn off men.

All men.

Famous last words, right? You’re expecting some epic tale of reluctant love and my dramatic change of heart? Well, you’re not going to get it.

I’m stubborn. And headstrong. And I’ve just survived the worst three years of my life. After escaping an abusive boyfriend to live in hostels and cheap hotels while I worked my way across Europe, I’ve come to two conclusions.

The first? Now that I’m back home, I’m going to squander my expensive culinary degree on a food truck that caters to the late night drunk crowd.

The second? I’m going to prove to the bastard across the plaza that my street food is better than his fussy five course monstrosities.

Killian Quinn might be Food and Wine’s Chef to Watch Out For. He might have a Michelin Star. He might have every food critic in the city wrapped around his too-large fingers. But he’s also pretentious and unbearably arrogant and the very opposite of me.

So he can keep his unsolicited advice and his late night visits and his cocky smiles. I want none of it. Or him.

I want the opposite.

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My Review:
4.95 stars — I got to beta read this book!!!  And I was seriously just floored, I have SO MUCH LOVE for it, I can’t even tell you.  My hubby would come home from work to find me in my reading chair, with the biggest grin on my face.  Like seriously you guys, I could have highlighted all of the dialogue in this book…it was just everything I love about a Rachel Higginson book.

And the thing is, it’s not just the smart witty banter.  (but I will come back and rave about that in more detail in a second)  Ms. Higginson also writes some of the most beautiful lines I have ever read…even just a sentence that captures my imagination and really brings home whatever she’s trying to convey about how Vera is feeling and seeing the world and herself.  Because while I would say the predominant emotion I felt in this book was snortfully gleeful happiness and so much giddiness, there is a darker undertone to the story that addresses an important topic that face so many people (often women) — mental/emotional abuse in a relationship (that can bleed into domestic violence on occasion).  I think it’s something that is hard for people who don’t experience it to understand, and even harder for the victims to understand and make sense of.  And I really believe that Ms. Higginson gives it a voice in Vera.  While I don’t personally have experience with this, I felt like Vera’s journey was an authentic one.  It was hard at times to be in Vera’s head, and see how she felt about herself, but I thought it felt realistic.  As with any story dealing with hard topics, it won’t be everyone’s journey, but one possible journey.

So that was long.  ANYWAYS…what I think I was trying to say is that the story had a really nice balance between heavy topics and glorious light and sassy interactions.  They blended perfectly, giving us a story that GIVES SO MUCH.  And don’t even get me started on the romance!!  Seriously, I was gleeful.  I’m neither here nor there on “enemies to lovers” type stories, but this one just…seriously, I can’t even…it was just…LIKE SO MUCH tension and laughter and sass and adorableness and did I mention tension??  AHHHH!!!!

I wasn’t sure what to think of Killian when we first met him, b/c wow…first impressions were not strong with this boy.  But OMG, when you start to figure out as a reader what is going on with him, and where his heart is at, it’s just so swoony!  Especially b/c Vera is kind of oblivious (but it fits with her history and where her self esteem is at).  But I so wanted to hug the crap out of that boy so many times.  He’s not my typical book boyfriend, but I’m seriously in love.  What an odd, stoic, somewhat closed off, but capable of so much feeling guy….

It’s funny, b/c I am a die hard lover of dual POV stories, but Ms. Higginson somehow manages to make me love a story with just one POV.  I think a lot of that is because Vera has such a journey to go on, and so we needed to see her take that journey.  But the other major part is that she’s able to convey to me enough of what Killian is feeling that I don’t feel like I missed too much not being in his head.  Does that mean I don’t want bonus scenes from his POV?  Heck no!  I DO.  I REALLY REALLY DO.  But they weren’t necessary for me to fall in love and get where he was coming from.

And if you couldn’t guess from all of the above, the star really is Vera.  She made me laugh.  She made me ache.  She made me want to high five her all over the place.  She made me want to hit my head against a wall.  She made me love her.

The supporting cast in this story really helped in Vera’s growth too, it wasn’t just Killian.  Her family is amazeballs, you could just feel the love.  And Vera and Vann were such perfect siblings (again, so much laughing).  And then there’s Molly, the BFF.  Oh Molly, you are da bomb.  I am so intrigued where your own story will go, but I loved what you added to this story.  And then there’s Wyatt.  Oh Wyatt, you freaking killed me.  ❤ ❤ ❤

So why not full 5 stars?  Just a tiny personal preference.  I’m super greedy and impatient about wanting to know everything IMMEDIATELY.  And the details of her previous relationship were given in tiny bits as the story went along.  Which is a valid storytelling choice, just not my personal preference.

(Oh, and this book had one of the best descriptions of how hard reviews are for the creator, regardless of whether they know that reviews are subjective and affected by the consumer’s personal experiences/preferences).

And damn!  The food!  I don’t even like peppers and I wanted those tacos (though she had me at grilled cheese).  I know that makes no sense, but I totally believed the foodie stuff in this book.  And at this point I’m just talking about everything.

So yeah, I know, gushy review.  It’s my right, I am a mega fan.  But I’m an honest mega fan, and I can honestly say that this is everything I love about Rachel Higginson.  And….mic drop.

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Sweet Tea and Summer Love by Regan Claire

sweettea_finalcoverBlurb: It’s been more than a decade since Anna Lynne graced the home where she spent every summer of her childhood. Now, she’s back and overwhelmed by memories of her last summer there. One defined by loss, love, growth, and change. A few short months that changed her forever.

Anna Lynne was mourning her father while most of her friends were thinking about college, making her question everything about the life she used to live, and the person she no longer wanted to be. She felt isolated in her grief—until she met Will and his sister, outcasts far outside her normal social circle. Through them, she learned about sacrifice and strength; about loyalty and love. Ultimately, they taught her that tragedy comes in more ways than one.

As she recalls that fateful summer and the reason she stayed away from the only home she ever knew, Anna Lynne can’t help but wonder how the people she left behind managed to navigate the heartbreak she helped create—and if they can ever forgive her.

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4.5 stars

This is miss Claire’s first dip into the contemporary romance genre.I think she did beautifully and am excited to see where she goes from here.  I was lucky to get a last minute slot to beta read this book.  In fact, if I’m able, I will always volunteer to beta for this author cause she is so talented.  Oh my gosh, I just realized, she was the first author I ever beta read for!

I really like the timeline of the story.  The flashbacks broke it up in to little bite size chunks for me.  And I love that we get to see the past catch up to the present, I was getting giddy to see how it would play out.  I may have mentioned this before but RC has a way of bringing levity to a serious story without losing the impact of it. It’s not easy to do. The climax really stands out to me as one of her best sequences.  It was just written fantastically.

I totally identified with Anna Lynnes rebelliousness and her anger.  I felt betrayed with her.  I kept thinking, “Its like I’m reading about myself” And I loved how she was affected by Will. In a positive way.

He was such a great influence on her.  Will was solid.  That’s the best word for him I think. He was not afraid to tell you how he felt and while sometimes he came across a bit over-cautious, I admired his convictions.  It’s just a sweet story about second chances at first love.  And it is a prefect read for V-day!

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