Anew by Chelsea Fine

Synopsis:
13164574Two years ago, Scarlet awoke in the forest alone, afraid, and unable to remember anything. Lost and confused, her life was a mystery…until she met a boy with a familiar voice.

Gabriel Archer has a voice from her past, and Scarlet’s determined to remember why. She immerses herself in his life only to discover he has a brother he’s kept hidden from her: Tristan Archer.

Upon meeting Tristan, Scarlet’s world becomes even more muddled. While she’s instinctively drawn to Gabriel, she’s impossibly drawn to Tristan–and confused out of her mind. As she tries to piece together her history Scarlet realizes her past…might just be the death of her.

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My Review:
3.5 stars — Another mixed bag read for me.  Definitely better than the previous one (obviously, since I actually finished it).  But it’s another case of me probably not continuing on in the series.  It’s funny because I kind of want to know the end result, but I don’t want to put the time in to get there…bad Lenore.  It’s just that there were a number of things that just didn’t work for me, and I found myself getting impatient while reading it.

The characters had some great moments, and I loved some more than others.  In general Scarlet was not too bad.  It was frustrating that she didn’t seem to want answers as much as me, but then I wondered if it was because I knew the brothers were hiding a lot b/c I could read their POVs.  Gabriel was OK, but I just didn’t really get much for chemistry there…probably b/c the love story is going to be with Tristan.  But again, I’m not a love triangle kind of girl, and knowing this about myself now, I might not have gotten around to reading this if it wasn’t for Utopia.  So the only good romantic stuff happened with Gabriel, but he was kind of boring and overly sweet.  Tristan threw me off at first, I wasn’t sure how I was supposed to eventually like him, but oh boy did I ever.  He was my favourite.  I have my suspicions about Laura, and quite frankly I wasn’t all that impressed with Heather (the BFF).  I think she’s a love her or hate her kind of girl, and I leaned more towards hate.  She was kind of mean at times.  Maybe I just didn’t understand their friendship dynamic, you know?

The paranormal elements were intriguing.  For some reason I totally thought this was going to be a story about Elves, don’t ask me why.  I honestly don’t know what all it’s going to be about, b/c it seems there might be more than just the immortality stuff, but it wasn’t really delved into too deeply in this book.  I honestly was not a fan of the way the author kept secrets throughout the book and left the reader in the dark purposely.  I know it was probably to try to drive curiosity and tension or some literary thing, but honestly it just annoyed the crap out of me.  I just wanted to start skimming to the answers.  I found I just wasn’t caring about a lot of the little bits in between and just wanted to finally know.  And then you find out about the symbol for example (although I think there’s more to it), and it was like “oh, that was it?”  I guess I just like to be fed some answers along the way, and it felt almost contrived the way the reader was kept in the dark.  Or I don’t know, something about it just rubbed me the wrong way.  Like Tristan’s victim.  At least we learned that about half way through, but I’m not sure what the point was in hiding it for so long.  Meh, I’m just going to shut up now, but really that’s the main reason I won’t be continuing on…that and the love triangle of sorts.

Now saying all that (and holy crap, that was a lot of babble, sorry about that), I did find there were some great moments of tension and I really enjoyed whatever was happening with Tristan and Scarlet.  But it was almost too little too late if that makes sense.  If I didn’t have a bunch of books on my plate, I might have finished the series, but it’s just not enough to win me over at this point.

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Cornerstone by Misty Provencher

Synopsis:
25759896Nalena Maxwell has been branded ‘The Waste’ at her new school, due to her mom’s obsessive paper hoarding. Nalena desperately wants something to change in her life, but when she receives a sign (and it’s the wrong dang one) inviting her into a mysterious, ancient community, too much changes. What she knew of her family, what she thought of her life and what she believed about her future, is no longer applicable. Seventeen years worth of family skeletons come crashing into Nalena’s life and it is the boy…the one that smiles at her like he wants to hear everything she’ll ever say…that already knows her powerful secrets. But it is only Nalena that can choose between protecting the life that is already crumbling beneath her feet and the one that might sacrifice everything she could ever have.

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My Review:
3.5 stars — I’ve had this book on my TBR pile for YEARS it feels like.  I’d heard good things, and since she’s going to be an author at Utopia this year (again), I wanted to read it before then!  I ended up with mixed feelings about this book.  There were aspects that I adored and totally sucked me in, but there were also quite a few aspects that just rubbed me the wrong way….  And even with this higher rating, I highly doubt I will continue on with the series…I just have way too much to read, and so my standards have shifted, you know?

I found Nalena to be very intriguing from the beginning.  I tend to gravitate towards main characters with self-esteem issues (the bullied in this case), and so my heart ached for her and her precarious situation at school brought on by her mother’s paper hoarding.  The problem is that she could be hard to get behind all the time.  Sometimes the way she saw her crush on Garrett had me cringing internally, and that’s a me problem all the way.  She just flip flopped in her emotions so much it was giving me whiplash.  Now, quite frankly, this is probably pretty accurate for a 17 year old…but I guess I’ve lost my memories of those times, so it was so hard to empathize with her.  One minute she’s agonizing b/c he can’t possibly feel the same way, and the next she’s reacting with amazing amounts of hope from the slightest grin from him.  It just didn’t work for me personally.  It’s funny though, b/c I would start to sympathize with her and get a good feel for her and what kind of character I would be reading, and then it just felt like there was a 180, so it probably aggravated me more than it normally would.

Garrett was intriguing.  I kind of loved him and his whole chaotic family.  I loved how happy and smiling he always was.  I loved watching the siblings fight like real siblings would.  I loved just how gregarious they all could be.  I kind of wanted more from the romance department there, but I’m sure I would get more if I continued with the series.

I can’t decide how I feel about Nali’s mother.  It’s such a strange situation that they’re in.  Because of who she is and what she does and what her role is in this paranormal world, there is an excuse for the paper hoarding.  But because she kept that all from Nali, she kind of let her unnecessarily suffer for it, you know?  And I kind of get her reasons, but it’s hard.  So I’m just a big old ball of conflict when it comes to her.

As for the the paranormal aspects — it was amazingly unique.  But at times I had a hard time following it and keeping up with all I was being told.  Now maybe it was just that I wasn’t in the right mode for such a detailed world, but I still don’t really feel like I “got” all of it, you know?  And sometimes the descriptions for what was happening to Nali (like her first description of the bubble I guess) just weren’t enough for me.  I just honestly could not picture it in my head.  Again, this could be just me.  I’m not going to lay this at others feet if I just wasn’t having good brain time, you know?  I will say I loved Addo Larry though.  He killed me.

So all in all, I was sucked in to the book, but there were just too many moments of confusion to have me clamouring for the next one.  And quite frankly, I just have too many other books to read to keep going on a book that left me feeling downs as well as ups.

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Addicted to You by Krista & Becca Ritchie

Synopsis:
22746816She’s addicted to sex. He’s addicted to booze…the only way out is rock bottom.

No one would suspect shy Lily Calloway’s biggest secret. While everyone is dancing at college bars, Lily stays in the bathroom. To get laid. Her compulsion leads her to one-night stands, steamy hookups and events she shamefully regrets. The only person who knows her secret happens to have one of his own.

Loren Hale’s best friend is his bottle of bourbon. Lily comes at a close second. For three years, they’ve pretended to be in a real relationship, hiding their addictions from their families. They’ve mastered the art of concealing flasks and random guys that filter in and out of their apartment.

But as they sink beneath the weight of their addictions, they cling harder to their destructive relationship and wonder if a life together, for real, is better than a lie. Strangers and family begin to infiltrate their guarded lives, and with new challenges, they realize they may not just be addicted to alcohol and sex.

Their real vice may be each other.

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My Review:
3.5 stars — Wow.  I’m still trying to process what I just read.  While reading this, I think I realized that I don’t tend to read a lot of super angsty books.  And this is not angsty in like a bad way…huh, so this just spurred me on to look up angsty in the dictionary, and I’m not sure I mean that word.  It’s just that this book deals with a lot of real and sometimes very negative emotions, and our two main characters are ridiculously self-destructive.  So it makes it hard to read for me.  I’m a fairly sensitive reader, and so my heart just cringed for these characters over and over again.

And there just wasn’t a balance of lightheartedness to compensate for the heaviness…which don’t get me wrong, I definitely wasn’t expecting any lighthearted moments in this book (I wasn’t confused about what I was getting into).  I mean, objectively there were some (Connor providing a lot of it), but I think I was stuck in horrified mode and it wasn’t enough to get me out of that place.  It’s more that I realized something about myself as a reader, and that I tend to gravitate more towards books that have a balance of the two (heavy and light), does that make sense?  And so there’s a part of me that really enjoyed this book and all the issues it tackled…and there’s another part of me that’s just emotionally exhausted.  So I find myself desperately wanting to read book 2 and find out what happens with Lily and Lo, and there’s another part of me that’s more cautious of the emotional strain I’d be subjecting myself to.

And so I guess that brings me to what this book does well (much to my dismay): the authors do an amazing job of portraying characters struggling with addiction.  Or at least to me it felt very authentic.  And it broke my heart.  B/C you could see glimmers of who Lily and Lo were beneath it all, but for the most part they were just smothered by their addictions.  I can’t even honestly decide how I feel about their romance, b/c it was so hard to see their love beyond how they were enabling each other.  It really wasn’t much of a love story…at least not yet.  It’s not that you didn’t see that they cared for each other, but they both genuinely loved their addictions more and always put those above each other.

I actually wasn’t sure how I would feel about following a character with a sex addiction, b/c it’s not something that we as a society focus on as something real.  I wondered if the authors would just use that as an excuse to have a really racy book, but it wasn’t that AT ALL.  And so I really applaud them for that.  I could believe it.  And I hated it.  I hated how it controlled Lily.  😦

I feel like I honestly didn’t get a great feel for Lo.  Maybe it’s because the story was told from Lily’s POV, so we were able to get inside her head?  Maybe it’s because addiction twists characters, and so we end up seeing so many different sides of him (including some mean sides)?  I don’t know.  I wonder if the rest of the series is all from Lily’s POV, b/c I would love to see into Lo’s head so badly.

I thoroughly enjoyed the side characters in this book.  I have a feeling the more I learn, the more I’m going to want to read all nine books, including the sister spin-offs…  Maybe they’ll be a bit more reprieving in the emotional distraught-ness area.

Other than that this book is a bit outside my wheelhouse and left me a bit scarred, I also felt like it dragged on a bit at times, and so that was where that extra half star loss falls.  Also, I’m not sure how I feel about how things went with Lo’s father and Lily’s thoughts about him at the end (how’s that for vague and not spoilery).  But I’ve decided I’m definitely going to give the next book (Ricochet) a try and decide how much my heart can take from there, and see how I’m feeling at that point.

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Room for Just a Little Bit More by Beth Ehemann

Synopsis:
22730721Five years ago, my dreams were shattered in an instant.

One year ago, a horrible rainstorm flooded a bridge in town, leaving us with an Inn full of stranded travelers. Turns out one of those travelers would give me a whole new set of dreams, ones I never thought possible. Brody Murphy spent the last year teaching me what it was like to live, and more importantly love, again.

Two days ago, he asked me to marry him, and if I’d said yes any faster, I would have interrupted the most romantic proposal ever offered. I can’t wait to marry him and spend the rest of our lives spoiling our Twinkies.

One year from now I’ll be Mrs. Kacie Murphy, assuming everything goes nice and smooth.

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My Review:
3.5 stars — I’m actually usually a huge fan of epilogue type novellas, and that’s exactly what this was.  But since I was only so-so on the first two books (well, my second read through of the first), I wasn’t chomping at the bit for this as I’d expected to be when I dived into this series to finish it.  As such, I wasn’t looking for what this book gave me — which was a lot of glimpses into their lives after the HEA, and of course the wedding.  Since I wasn’t as invested with them as a couple, I found it a bit more boring than I normally would of.  But if you enjoyed the first two books and you love epilogues, then I guarantee you’ll love this book too.  This was a me problem, not a book problem.  Just not a great match.  All the same, I still smiled, laughed, and even aww’d, hence the bump up a half a star.  🙂Lenoreo_small

Room for More by Beth Ehemann

Synopsis:
21524456.jpgFour years ago, my dreams were shattered in an instant.

Three months ago, I found something I haven’t had in years.
Hope.
That hope came in the form of a sexy, carefree hockey player named Brody Murphy. He swooped in and won me over with his big heart and the way he cared for me…and my girls. When they look at him, they see the father they’ve never had.

Now, my past and present are colliding and the outcome might just be too much for me to bear. Can I make the right decision when I’ve spent my whole life making the wrong ones?

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My Review:
3 stars — Well, I was already not feeling the first book upon rereading it, so I probably wasn’t in the right mood for this sequel…but I wanted to finally finish this series, you know?  It wasn’t bad by any means, but I just wasn’t captured.  It felt kind of blah for me.  It was probably largely just a mood I was in, I just didn’t read anything outstanding.

I think the biggest problem for me with this book is that the major conflict came from Kacie not telling Brody about encountering Zach.  It’s a common trope for books, and I read them a lot, so it’s not like it’s a huge no-no for me.  But occasionally it does get to me, and this was one of those times.  It’s hard to read a whole book where the problem is that the characters aren’t talking and being honest.  And in the end I wasn’t super impressed with how it resolved…

I also didn’t quite get the inclusion of the drama with Brody’s parents…it felt unnecessary and I’m not sure what we learned from it.

I loved the sweet times between Brody and Kacie…and Brody was adorable with the twins.  And in the end Zach wasn’t as predictable as I expected him to be — he actually had a valid story.

On a totally stupid TINY sidenote — it really irked me when Alexa said she wasn’t going to have kids and Kacie was all like “you’ll change your mind”.  I realize that Kacie knows Alexa much better than I do, but as someone who genuinely doesn’t want kids, it just irked me that Kacie blew it off like that.  But again, Kacie knows Alexa better, so I’m totally blowing this all out of proportion.

So yeah.  Will read the final novella, but it looks like it’s not a book I’ll need on my shelf.  Ah well, chalk another one up to my bad reading mood.

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Indebted by Amy A. Bartol

Synopsis:
13502963I hang my head in sorrow for just a moment when I know I am truly alone. I feel like I’m going to my execution, just as he had said. Then I move forward again. I hop a fence of fieldstone and cross a field dotted with Queen Anne’s lace. Goose bumps rise on my arms as I pass the cluster of windmills that I have seen in a dream. The scent is sweet in the field though, not the scent of heat, like it had been when it was forced upon me in visions. I gaze down the hill, beyond the small, whitewashed house that I knew would be there. The church looms dark and grim with its rough-hewn, timber façade, capped by tall, oblong spires reaching to the sky. Black, ominous clouds have collected above the roofline, as if Heaven is showing me the way.

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My Review:
3.5 stars — Oh look, yet again I’ve finished another book and I sit here completely conflicted and truly unable to decide how I feel about it.  I found that the reading of this book was a lot slower than I was expecting.  I’m not sure if the mood I’m in is impacting the books I’m reading, but I’m just having a hard time remaining focused.

I think part of the problem is that certain aspects of this book became drawn out and occasionally repetitive.  After awhile I just stopped being surprised or impressed when every person/creature that encounters Evie is immediately enthralled with her and wants her for themselves.  Maybe if we’d started to get more of a hint as to why they all feel that way I would appreciate it more?  I mean, I get it — she’s stunningly gorgeous.  It’s kind of hard to relate to that as a character trait.  And apparently her lethal-ness is very attractive.  Part of me could get on board with this aspect, b/c you could see that while there is an immediate draw to her, as soon as she opens up her smart mouth they go crazy.  And I will admit, Evie can be frickin hilarious when she starts getting all sassy up in there.  So *part* of me gets it.  I guess it would have been just nice to get some variety — to have SOMEONE not be enchanted by her, kwim?

And while I never had a problem with Evie’s overblown sense of self-sacrificing (it’s not a character trait that tends to bother me in heroines like I know it does for many other readers), even I must admit that it became a bit old hat in this book.  Maybe it’s that it would be nice to see some growth in her character?  Some trust shown to her friends and family?  Then again, at the beginning Reed was still treating her with kid gloves and not letting her get involved, but at least by the end of the book you could see he FINALLY learned that lesson.

And then there’s the Brennus situation.  (SIDE NOTE while I think of it — I am *personally* not a fan (AT ALL) of the written out accents that are represented by both the Gancanagh and Russell…it kind of irks me and in general doesn’t work for me.  But that’s a personal preference thing).  OK, so yes, the Brennus situation.  The great majority of this book is spent with Brennus and the Gancanagh, and I’m not entirely sure what Ms. Bartol’s aim was for them, and what she was hoping her readers would feel.  Because I have a few theories, and in each instance she falls just short of reaching that mark.  I don’t quite hate them…she effectively gives them enough personality, and likability despite their inherent evilness that you kind of feel things for them along with Evie.  But then are they redeemable?  Well, not quite that either, are they?  It’s like, if they were *actually* redeemable, then I could get on board with Evie’s feelings for them…but Ms. Bartol writes them (mostly Brennus) just that little bit creepy and…you know what?  Maybe it’s like Stockholm Syndrome.  It’s like I would have felt better if Evie was fully magically influenced into seeing them as family, but Ms. Bartol makes sure that that isn’t quite the case.  Or maybe if they were redeemable, I would feel better, but that’s not the case either.  So it makes it hard to sympathize with Evie and hard to sort out your own feelings about the whole situation.  And I don’t like feeling icky, you know?  Like, I’m kind of a bleeding heart, so I mourned when Evie mourned over the one death.  But…but…they’re killing humans.  I guess I just don’t like feeling so confused…  I suppose some people enjoy that, but this reader does not.  To some minor degree, fine, but this is a whole book where I end it feeling out of my depth.  Not my favourite feeling. (and we’re not even going to get into Molly — don’t like that situation whatsoever)

So out of that rabbit hole, whoops…sorry.  So you’re probably reading all that and thinking “how the hell did she get to 3.5 stars?” (and I still haven’t decided whether to round up or down).  Well frankly, I still enjoyed myself.  There’s sassiness and snarkiness galore.  There are elements of Evie’s personality that just tickle me to death.  The action sequences and paranormal elements are fantastic.  I’m still somehow entrenched and want to know what’s going to happen.

In the end I’m going to round down, b/c part of what I truly loved about this series are the secondary characters (Zephyr, Buns, Brownie, Russell, Phaedrus, Preben, and of course Reed).  And we do not get nearly enough of these characters in this book…  I so thoroughly enjoyed the parts where they were there, and in a strange way that made me miss them more.  Also — I’m still not a fan of multiple beaus for our heroine.  And GOOD GOD, if I have to hear them all say “she’s mine” much more, I’m going to have a coronary…turns out I don’t find possessiveness sexy, who knew?  (it’s starting to make my love of Reed fade just a little bit…like it’s tarnished)

Ooooo, ps – am I the only one who was intrigued by Reed’s theories about the immediately preceeding Russell/Evie past life??  It was such a short little snippet, I sincerely hope it’s not lost and gets explored in the next 2 books.

So yeah.  Still really enjoying this series, but with some reservations.

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Neanderthal Seeks Human by Penny Reid

Synopsis:
neanderthal seeks humanThere are three things you need to know about Janie Morris: 1) She is incapable of engaging in a conversation without volunteering TMTI (Too Much Trivial Information), especially when she is unnerved, 2) No one unnerves her more than Quinn Sullivan, and 3) She doesn’t know how to knit.

After losing her boyfriend, apartment, and job in the same day, Janie Morris can’t help wondering what new torment fate has in store. To her utter mortification, Quinn Sullivan- aka Sir McHotpants- witnesses it all then keeps turning up like a pair of shoes you lust after but can’t afford. The last thing she expects is for Quinn- the focus of her slightly, albeit harmless, stalkerish tendencies- to make her an offer she can’t refuse.

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My Review:
3.5 stars — Hello, my name is conflicted.  So I was in the middle of reading another series in preparation for Emerald City Author Event when Ms. Reid announced her preorders for the event would be closing soon, and so I panicked and switched to reading this book immediately, b/c I just can’t preorder a book unless I know I’m going to love it.  And even though pretty much every friend I know who’s read this book has fallen in love, I wanted to see for myself before committing.  I had pretty strong feelings that I was going to love it just as much, even if I’d been conflicted on some of the other Penny Reid reads (which is fun to say) that I’d read to date.  Unfortunately I ended up falling to the same conclusion with this one.  Ms. Reid’s writing is so close to being something I would love, but somehow each time it falls short for me.  It’s like there’s this dissonance  between her brain and mine, and it’s just enough to leave me baffled…somewhere caught between entertained and aggravated.

So…where to start?  I enjoy the quirkiness of Ms. Reid’s characters, and the neurotic Janie was no exception.  She was awkward and…well, just extremely awkward.  And in general I found that extremely amusing and endearing (her internal thoughts had me laughing on many occasions).  But there were also occasions in which I just found myself confused and frustrated by her instead.  And maybe it wasn’t her so much as the writing?  I’ll come back to that.

I also enjoyed the cast of colourful knitting group girls, and I will wholeheartedly admit that reading the first chapters of the next 3 books at the back of this book made me want to dive right into each of their stories (which I totes would if I wasn’t such a cheapass and I wasn’t a bit gunshy from this experience).

Quinn unfortunately suffered from me having false expectations for his character.  I honestly have NO IDEA where I came up with these impressions, but for some reason I thought he was going to be this super normal average nice guy…so I was epically surprised when he ended up being a billionaire “Wendell” with a bit of an Alpha streak.  Now, I have nothing against billionaire playboy heroes….but when you’re expecting one thing and get something else entirely, it affects you no matter how hard you try not to let it (like when you’re expecting Coke, but you drink Root Beer, and so the drink just tastes bad, even though you love Root Beer normally).  I can also waffle about alpha heroes, so when I’m expecting something different, then every time he was a bit controlling it rubbed me the wrong way (like stupid things — like him ordering for her).

Their relationship had me conflicted too.  There were some things I loved — like how genuinely interested he was in her quirks, and how he interacted with her when she’d start spouting off trivia.  They really felt like a good match in those moments.  And while I definitely felt some chemistry between them, I kind of wanted more.  More of what I’m not sure, but just more…  Maybe because she was a bit awkward, and she would always describe her butterfly moments in such clinical ways, I ended up losing a bit of the magic.  In the end I just wasn’t sucked in by the romance.

And that brings me to the writing.  Sometimes I was delighted by the writing and the way in which Ms. Reid would describe things.  And quite frankly, other times I was bored or my brain just wasn’t engaged.  I don’t know how many times I would get to the end of a paragraph and not realize what I’d just read and have to go back and reread it very slowly.  Now truthfully that could be me.  But since it wasn’t happening with my previous book, I have to assume it was my compatibility with this particular book and the writing at least in part.  Ms. Reid is very descriptive, and sometimes the flow of words just didn’t work for me.

So I finished the book and initially wanted to rate it 4 stars, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized I was gravitating towards a higher ranking because I didn’t want to be left out of an exclusive club.  Don’t mind me…I’ll just stand here on the outside looking in, wishing my brain worked like so many people I love.  QQ

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Beauty from Pain by Georgia Cates

Synopsis:
17337340They agreed on three months…but their love knew no boundaries.

Jack McLachlan is a winemaking magnate and easily one of Australia’s most eligible bachelors. His success and wealth make him no stranger to the complications of romantic relationships and that’s why he goes to extreme measures to avoid the hassle. He prefers simplicity in the form of a beautiful female companion with no strings attached. He arranges relationships like business deals and they’re always the same. No long term relationships. No real names.

It’s his game and his rules. He’s content to play as usual, but when Laurelyn Prescott enters his life, his strategy must change because this player is like none he’s ever encountered. His world is turned on its head after he begins a three month affair with the beautiful American musician. Nothing goes according to plan and as he breaks more and more of his own rules for her, she’s exceptionally close to becoming something he never thought possible. His ultimate game changer.

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My Review:
3 stars — This one’s going to be hard to review.  I wasn’t particularly sucked into this one, but I’m not sure if I’ll be able to pinpoint why.  I guess I just wasn’t that enamoured with the characters to start.  Laurelyn had some funny moments, I enjoyed her playfulness.  But I just didn’t feel much depth to either her or Jack.  There was a backstory to Laurelyn, and I felt a bit for her past and the way she grew up, but I guess I wanted more…  And we didn’t really get to explore Jack’s past at all — I mean, mostly just why does he feel the way he does about relationships?  It just felt a little glossed over.

Didn’t care for the secondary characters at all.  Which is not a necessity, but it’s nice to have a supporting cast.  But this book was really the Jack and Laurelyn show.  Maybe it’s that I didn’t buy into the arrangement and why she would accept it in the first place.  Particularly b/c we’re told that she’s not sure she can do a casual affair, but it seems like she fell into this one pretty fast.

I wasn’t even all that engaged in the sex scenes.  Again, not sure why — they were just lacking that extra magic and chemistry for me.

I guess all in all I was a bit bored.  I had noticed this was a series, and so I can’t say I was too surprised with the cliffhanger…I practically saw it coming from the beginning of the story.  I’m mildly curious about how this romance will play out, b/c it was getting a bit better towards the end, but definitely not curious enough for the price of the next book.  (not that I’m saying it should be cheaper, just my own personal threshold of interest — if it had been cheaper, I might have said screw it and continued on, but now I don’t feel too bad about quitting after this one)

Basically there wasn’t a lot I could point out as bad about the book, but I just didn’t personally connect with it.

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Come Away With Me by Kristen Proby

Synopsis:
16070521Being confronted on the beach by a sexy stranger wasn’t part of Natalie Conner’s plans for a peaceful morning taking photos. And why on earth would he think she’s taking pictures of him, anyway? Who is he? One thing’s for sure, he’s hot, and incredibly romantic, feeding Natalie’s wounded soul.

Luke Williams just wants the world to give him a break, so seeing yet another camera aimed at his face has him ready to pounce on the beauty behind the lens. When he finds out she has no idea who he is, he’s intrigued and more than a little tempted by her. Natalie has a body made for sex, a sassy mouth and Luke can’t get enough of her, but he’s not ready to tell her who he really his.

Natalie is a no nonsense girl who doesn’t do well with lies and secrets. What will happen to this new relationship when she discovers what Luke’s hiding?

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My Review:
2.5 stars — So I’m reading books in preparation for an upcoming author event, and this book was on my list…except I was sure I’d read it.  But Goodreads doesn’t lie my friends, so I picked it up and started it.  And again, everything sounds SOOOOOO familiar.  So I go back to my trusty Goodreads, only to see the status for this book is 30% — but I never update those.  Well, turns out this must have been before I started DNFing books for real, b/c I left a note saying I abandoned it almost 3 years ago saying “*sigh* I don’t know why, but this book isn’t doing it for me. I don’t hate it by any means, I just can’t get into it. SO I shall set it aside and maybe one day I’ll come back…. Everything just feels so perfunctory, I’m not sympathizing with the characters much at all….“.  Turns out it wasn’t just a mood thing, I really just did not feel this book.

I honestly probably should have just DNF’d this book.  I really ended up having to concentrate on reading it instead of having it just flow over me.  I found myself bored.  I’m not sure if this book was supposed to be an erotica, I really didn’t get that impression from the blurb…but quite honestly, this book was mostly just sex scenes.  Now don’t get me wrong, I like erotica as much as I like everything else, but I guess since it wasn’t what I was expecting it just wasn’t working for me.  Maybe there wasn’t much variety (though they did try to have sex in every conceivable location — limo? check. airplane? check. desk? check.)?  Maybe I just didn’t feel that explosion of chemistry?  Whatever my problem, it wasn’t enough to save this book.

I actually really enjoyed the premise, b/c I enjoy reading Harlequins and this sounded like so many of those — movie star meets normal girl who doesn’t know who he is…  But their love affair progressed incredibly quickly…especially considering their histories.  She’s a serial one-night-stand girl (b/c of things in her past that honestly didn’t feel like they were necessary to the plot, since they didn’t come into play AT ALL).  He’s a burned movie star who’s been used for his money and fame.  And yet in 2 days they’re having sex without a condom, hanging out all the time, and even meeting parents.  I guess I just didn’t buy it.

And in the end, not much happens plot wise.  They get into some seriously stupid fights and she behaves childishly while he starts to scare me with his sudden tempers and jealousy.  Quite honestly, I know the author tried to explain away his jealousy as cute, but that didn’t work for me at all.  And I guess b/c of these flaws in their characters, they just felt shallow and I never really liked either one of them that much.  And on a stupid note (stupid about me), I just don’t get the appeal of spending so much money and having that be equated with love — the ridiculous amount of flowers, the expensive shopping spree (thousands of dollars spent when she didn’t really want to accept his credit card in the first place?  Um, ok), the impromptu Tahiti vacation on a private jet…  But I’ve never seen the appeal of these brand name shoes and handbags, so that’s totally a me thing…but it’s yet another way in which I didn’t connect with Nat.

So yeah.  Another fairly popular book that just did not work for me.  I’ve said it before and I stick with it — I’m a hipster reader folks.

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Smash Into You by Shelly Crane

Synopsis:
18338512Jude has spent the whole twenty one years of his life running. From what, he wasn’t quite sure. His mother tried to keep him safe; a low profile, a constant move on the horizon, a week’s pay always stashed away. She tried to instill in him that he was special somehow, though would never elaborate. He never felt different. He was so completely normal and vanilla that he wondered if it had all been in her head. But then she was murdered and all he saw was a running silhouette of a man as his mother said three final words to him. Three words that changed his whole being.

Never stop running…

Now he’s semi-settled into a big town. The college is huge and easy to blend into. It’s been three months since he had to move because ‘Biloxi’, as he calls the man who killed his mother, found him once more.

Then Marley, an eighteen year old girl who is as infuriating as she is blissfully ignorant of her gorgeousness, smashes into his car with hers. Then smashes into his life as he realizes that whatever it is he has that Biloxi wants, she has it, too. And now, they’re after them both.

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My Review:
2.5 stars — *sigh*  When I first started reading this and wasn’t getting into it, I wondered if I just wasn’t in the mood for this type of book (a mystery/suspense/thriller), but unfortunately I think that was only a tiny bit of the reason.  In the end the plot and characters just never ended up grabbing hold of me and taking me on a ride.  The ride was there, but it felt like it was malfunctioning, so I just never hopped on board.

Jude was kind of a jerk, and I just never really ended up falling for him…I didn’t see a whole lot of depth to his character, or maybe it just didn’t feel authentic to me.  I honestly don’t know what other people saw in him, b/c I just never got the same sexy vibe about him.  And after reading some other reviews, I’m so glad I’m not the only one who was totally flabbergasted by the repeated use of “Daggumit”.  Uh, what?  I have never heard anyone use this word before, and I just could not picture some supposed alpha loner male using it unless he was making fun of somebody.

Marley was, in some ways, worse than Jude.  I never really got a full grasp on her personality. She just felt very flat to me…like she was being given qualities, but I didn’t believe them.  Sometimes she was sweet, sometimes sassy, sometimes scared, but they just didn’t feel like a full picture of her.  It was like she didn’t have a personality or something.  I’m not sure.  And some of the stuff we learn about her in the past just felt totally gratuitous and didn’t add anything to her character or storyline.  It was like we were meant to see how horrible her foster home life was like, but they were just little side stories that didn’t shape her at all…one incident in particular, should have had a bigger impact, but it was just occasionally mentioned like a forgotten about fact.

And their chemistry?  At first I didn’t feel it AT ALL.  Like not at all.  It felt forced, and I didn’t understand what they saw in one another, just what I was told they saw in each other I guess.  If I just accepted that they liked each other, then later when they started flirting, I actually enjoyed it.  But I had to let go of my skepticism first.

And then there’s the plot.  *sigh*  I just could not suspend my disbelief in this one.  I kept internally asking questions — like how does Biloxi find them?  Why aren’t they more careful about hiding the car sometimes?  How does Biloxi escape all law enforcement even though he doesn’t appear to leave the crime scene immediately?  Why didn’t anyone ever go to the cops????  Seriously.  And then once we found out what they were running from, I had questions about that whole set up too.  And when they were in tense situations, why in the world would they stop to kiss???  Mind just would NOT shut up for me.  And then the whole suspense plotline was just miraculously resolved, and I did not feel like I got enough answers there…it just seemed so sudden and neatly tied up.

So yeah.  Part of me wants to round this up to 3 because I actually love a lot of Ms. Crane’s work.  But I’m trying to be honest with myself…and this book just didn’t work for me in too many ways to ignore.  And I didn’t even get started on the need for some better editing…usually I can ignore that, but when it takes me a minute to figure out what a sentence is supposed to say, it takes me out of the reading zone.

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