Made for You by Lauren Layne

Blurb:
21965116Some mistakes are worth making…

When the Wrong Guy is Oh-So-Right

Will Thatcher is exactly the type of sexy playboy good girls like Brynn have always avoided. And yet there was still something about him she just couldn’t resist. When Will moved across the country three years ago, Brynn vowed it was time to put him behind her. She never thought Will might have other plans . . .

Back in town, Will intends to get what he’s always wanted-gorgeous, unforgettable Brynn. For years, he tormented the untouchable ice princess in a desperate bid for her attention. Now he has a new plan, and he’ll do anything to rewrite their stormy past. This time, he’s out to show Brynn that the imperfect man might be the best mistake of her life . . .

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My Review:
3 stars — Oh dudes…  I know I’ve been conflicted about books before, but I can honestly say this one is probably my most conflicted ever.  Because the things I loved, I LOVED.  But there were things that I essentially hated too…or at least strongly disliked, b/c I really try not to hate things.

So what did I love first: the essential quality of Lauren Layne-ness to the book.  There is a reason I love most Lauren Layne books, and it’s often in the witty repartee of the characters.  There’s just something that always makes me laugh and has me delighted by either the dialogue or the internal thoughts of the characters.  And while this seems like a really small thing, it was enough to level this book off at 3 stars for me, b/c I would give that aspect 5 stars if I could.  She also writes pretty great kissing/steamy scenes, and this book was no exception.

What did I decidedly NOT like: when it comes right down to it, I really didn’t *like* either character.  They both had good moments, so it’s not an all-out hate or anything…there were even things I loved about both of them.  But in the end I mostly just wanted to smack them, for different reasons.

Brynn was a witch with a b.  There’s no other way to put it.  I get (and love) the depth of history that went into explaining how she became this person of lists and regimented everything.  And I actually really felt for how her childhood bullying stayed with her right into her 30s.  I think people underestimate the scars of systematic bullying and how it can affect you.  I actually liked that.  But the problem is, even if you excuse her walls to protect herself, she was still kind of mean.  And judgmental (of everyone, including other girls…bordering on slut shaming occasionally, but not quite).  And stupidly oblivious (stupidly because I really honestly couldn’t buy someone being that oblivious to Will’s affections).  AND SELFISH!!  She didn’t seem to care to learn about anyone else (most notably her sister and Will).  And I didn’t buy into her growth.  All of a sudden being an orthodontist is boring?  So who is she??  What does she want out of life?  What defines her?  I have zero answers.

And while I wanted to love Will, b/c on one side of the coin, the way he held onto his love for Brynn through 15 freaking years was kind of adorable (and even the epilogue almost had me swooning).  And he was freaking hilarious sometimes.  But he was also REALLY REALLY mean.  Like, I’m only so-so on enemies to lovers tropes as it is, but to hear the things these two said back and forth to each other just made me cringe and made my heart hurt.  He was basically a bully.  And he wasn’t nearly as understanding as I would have liked when he found out about her childhood bullying.  And OMG, the games!!  WHY WOULD YOU NOT JUST TALK TO HER AND FESS UP???  Why would you constantly test her, and then get mad when she thinks you hate her and isn’t getting it?  Why’d you have to break my heart by having these horrible qualities so I can’t love you for your good qualities??  It just wasn’t enough.

The whole book is basically just terrible communication, and you know I hate lack of communication tropes.  And when he finally just tells her THE TRUTH, he gives her 5 seconds to absorb it, and then bails.  UGH.

So you see what I mean?  If it hadn’t been for the witty dialogue and moments of great connection scattered here and there, it would have been a 2 star.  That’s how much I love the things I loved.  Because these characters just didn’t redeem themselves.  I’m just not a forgiving reader I guess.  I can’t tell you how bummed I am, b/c honestly there were moments of awesomeness that obviously had me hoping for a good ending.  *sigh*  OK, I’m just going to stop.  😦

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Top Ten Book Boy/Girl Crushes

Top Ten Tuesday
(Images link to Goodreads, Titles link to Amazon using Amazon Affiliate links)

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish in which you make a list of ten to do with a certain topic.  This week’s topic is “Top Ten Book Boyfriends/Girlfriends (Which characters do you have crushes on?)”

Curly Carla’s Top Ten:

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  1. Red Rising (Red Rising #1) by Pierce Brown. Darrow, dear god, this kid has got some fierce love and loyalty for Eo.
  2. Imperfect Chemistry (Imperfect #1) by Mary Frame. I love nerdy romances.
  3. The Collectors Society‘ (The Collectors’ Society #1) by Heather Lyons. Finn is such a sweet yet deep soul. And I loves him.
  4. Broken Skies (Broken Skies #1) by Theresa Kay. Lir is hawt!
  5. The Hard Count by Ginger Scott. Nico’s smarts are super attractive and his intensity is… well intense.
  6. The Faerie Prince (Creepy Hollow #2) by Rachel Morgan. I’ve re-read this series so many times! It’s one of my favorite series of all times. Ryn goes from enemy to lover in this one. In such a slow simmering way. ::swoon::
  7. Anti-Stepbrother by Tijan. I love Caden! He goes from friend to lover.
  8. Shacking Up by Helena Hunting. Bane is an exception to my usual resistance to adonis’ comparisons.
  9. Desire (Brightest Kind Of Darkness #4) by P.T. Michelle OMG Ethan! He is so sensual and sexy. ::fans self:: Seriously, everyone should read this series!
  10. Neanderthal Seeks Human (Knitting in the City #1) by Penny Reid. Did I mention I love nerdy romances?

Lenoreo’s Top Ten:

So we actually did a Top Ten Fictional Crushes in 2016, and I could have listed those all again and again.  But I kind of wanted to avoid repeats…so I’m pulling out some more recent favourite book boys, *and* adding a couple book girls for this one.  Basically I just searched the blog for “book boyfriend” and “girl crush”.  😛  (also, totally ditto Lir and Nico from Curly Carla’s list)

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    1. Tom from If Ever by Angie Stanton.  “Tom was RIDICULOUSLY swoon.  Like, added to my top book boyfriends list swoon.  Like, I had tummy tingles almost from their first interactions.  And he was more of a beta boy, and you know how I love me a beautiful beta boy!!  I loved that he was technically the celebrity, but he was really very down to earth, humble, and at times insecure.  If you couldn’t tell, I ADORED him.”
    2. Casey from In Your Dreams by Ginger Scott.  “Casey just may be the most surprising book boyfriend on my list, he won me over hook, line and sinker, even despite his flaws.”
    3. Esben from 180 Seconds by Jessica Park.  “I really expected a much different hero after reading the blurb and seeing social media star, and the glimpse we get before the experiment.  My preconceived notions were blown away.  He made me feel so many emotions all on his own, and he is totally my kind of book boyfriend material.  I want an Esben.”
    4. Aaron from Pillowtalk by Cassie Mae.  “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!”
    5. Killian from The Opposite of You by Rachel Higginson.  “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….”
    6. Cooper from Operation Prom Date by Cindi Madsen.  “And then there was Cooper.  OMG, book boyfriend city man.  He was just so sweet and thoughtful, and dealing with his own set of struggles, and just trying to survive in a way.  I loved being in his head and reading about his thoughts.”
    7. Will from Hold My Breath by Ginger Scott.  “Will.  *sigh*  Just breathe him in folks, he’s divine.  I ADORED that he wasn’t an alpha.  He wasn’t a beta necessarily, but he definitely wasn’t an alpha male.  He was just this quiet, sensitive, melt me with his thoughts kind of guy.”
    8. Sawyer from A Fine Mess by Kelly Siskind.  “I was hooked from the first Sawyer chapter.  He just has an internal dialogue that drew me like flies to sugar…moth to a flame…you know, one of those catchphrases.  And it wasn’t just his hilarious (and often horribly childish) sense of humour.  He was so vulnerable and broken and my heart just ached for him…”
    9. Sammy from Shoot the Gap by Jordan Ford.  “Sammy was the star for me.  I don’t have a lot in common with her, but I fell for her regardless.  I loved how strong she was in wanting to be who she was inside, regardless of the pressures she felt from family to be something else (more girly). … I really loved who she was and totally have a girl crush on her.  I don’t tend to get a lot of book girl crushes, so she’s in a bit of an elite club.”
    10. Sierra from Love & Music (formerly Finding the Dream) by Mia Josephs.  “I swooned all over Van (and now have a increased hankering for some ginger goodness), and I girl-crushed all over See. I’m starting to wonder if I have a thing for Sierra’s, b/c she is the 2nd Sierra that has me clamoring to be her friend.”
    11. BONUS GIRL CRUSH SHOUT OUT: My first two girl crushes ever were Hayley from Reasons I Fell for the Funny Fat Friend and Sierra from How to Seduce a Band Geek, both by Cassie Mae.  I won’t go into deetz, but if you like quirky girls, these two are amazeballs.

So who are your go to book boys and girls?  Who do you have crushes on?  Do you share the same love for some of our crushes?  If you think you’ll win in a fight with me, you might want to think again…I claim all of these.

ps – I was too lazy to link to our reviews for these books, but a good chunk of them are on the blog…search them out to hear more about these awesome books.

The Princess and the Pizza Man by Cassie Mae

Blurb:
36255092Matchmaking, mansions, and murder – just another Tuesday for this princess. 

Twelve years of tossing pizzas in his hometown in Alabama is like a dream come true for William Monroe, but his sister is ready to leave the Podunk place, desperate to find herself a man and get hitched. He’s not too thrilled to hear about the mansion she’s dragging him to, claiming it’s haunted with the spirit of Cupid, and it’s his job to make sure she doesn’t fall for the first guy who looks her way.

Winter’s been running the Frostville Murder Mysteries ever since she inherited a hefty sum of cash, wanting to give back in a fun and profitable way for her home city. Noticing a lot of puppy-eyed patrons, she gives herself the job of matchmaking, picking out the ones who seem best suited for one another. But when the outspoken and grumpy man from Alabama arrives with his eager-to-be-matched sister, her focus starts to falter, and she wants nothing more than to prove to Will that her mansion can feel like home, too.

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

This was an adorable little story.  I will admit that I started off on the wrong foot with it…partially b/c I had a terrible cold that was making concentrating hard, and partially because I’m not really a huge fan of spelling out accents…it’s a stupid pet peeve, but there you go.  I was a little concerned that I wasn’t going to fall in love, but I got sucked in like I always do with a book by Ms. Mae.

I was concerned when we first met Will and his sister Maybelle (Bells) that they would be too stereotypically southern.  I should have had faith.  While they do have some stereotypical southern quirks, they fleshed out into really intriguing characters to me.  I loved how easily embarrassed Will could get, especially given how supposedly loud he was.  I also loved hearing the story about how his passion for cooking started…  And I really appreciated how much he loved his sister, and how he went above and beyond for her.

And Winter was just delightful to me…quirky and odd and not at all what I was expecting.  She just sounds delightful, I felt like I could really picture who she was, and I’d want to be her friend.  She has a really big heart.

And Winter and Will were so adorable together.  It was a truly sweet romance, and I loved how it played out at the end.  It fulfilled everything my romantic heart was hoping it would.

I also enjoyed the murder mystery, and the cast of goofy actors and guests at the mansion.  I will say I didn’t solve the mystery, I was totally surprised by that one!  And I didn’t quite peg what was going on with Bells…that’s one bit I wouldn’t have minded learning more of what happened.  She was a fun character in her own right, almost a caricature, but pulled back into realism with her feelings and conversations with Will and Winter.

So all in all, while it may have had a bit of a bumpy start for me, I was utterly delighted with how this little story played out in the end.  Made me a happy camper.

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The Unforgettables by G.L. Tomas

32048502Blurb: Back home in Chicago, Paul Hiroshima had it all.

Popularity, charming looks and a talent for the arts that made him admired by his peers. Moving to Portland, Maine the summer before his senior year was going to change all that. With his city life behind him, there was definitely no reason to make the best out of a bad situation—that is, until he meets the amazing Felicia Abelard.

Over a love of comic books and secret identities, Felicia becomes the sidekick to his hero; there’s just one problem: they weren’t supposed to fall in love.

As the season comes to an end, Paul and Felicia face in-depth challenges to preserve their summer formed bond. With the brink of the new school year at hand, this tale of best friends and first loves will make this year unforgettable.

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5 stars

I Floved this book!  It had all the ingredients for a fantastic YA diverse romantic read.

At first I wasn’t really digging it.  It started off a bit slow and jumped around quite a bit.  And the sex scene was quite awkward for me to read honestly.  But then I realized that that’s exactly how high school was.  So it started to make sense the more I read.

Paul was a pretty easy going character and I could relate to his being the new kid in school. I went to eight different schools growing up so I could totally get his feelings of homesickness.  His background was pretty cool too.  He was a half Japanese/half white Buddhist that could dance like nobodies business.  The author really gave him dimension and layers.  And his family wasn’t a background prop either.  YA’s are notorious for sticking the parents and siblings in the corner but not with this one and for that I am glad.  They even addressed how different they are treated and how they handled it.

While Paul was easy going, Felicia was a bit uptight.  She was what one would call a loner.  Not really something I can relate to but that didn’t take away from how much I ended up loving her.  I liked how she wasn’t afraid to stand up to the people who bullied her, even to her detriment.  And I dug her nerdiness!  Their mutual love of comic books is what initially brings them together.  And the fact they were neighbors.  Felicia was a Haitian american with very strict parents.  And she struggles between wanting to fit in and pretending she doesn’t care.

Their story is fast-paced and turbulent.  And I loved every second of it.  Highly recommended.

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Take the Lead by Alexis Daria

Blurb:
35832861The first book in a sizzling duology about dancers who find love from #OwnVoice’s Alexis Daria.

Gina Morales wants to win. It’s her fifth season on The Dance Off, a top-rated network TV celebrity dance competition, and she’s never even made it to the finals. When she meets her latest partner, she sees her chance. He’s handsome, rippling with muscles, and he stars on the popular Alaskan wilderness reality show Living Wild. With his sexy physique and name recognition, she thinks he’s her ticket to the finals—until she realizes they’re being set up.

Stone Nielson hates Los Angeles, he hates reality TV, and he hates that fact that he had to join the cast of the The Dance Off because of family obligations. He can’t wait to get back to Alaska, but he also can’t deny his growing attraction to his bubbly Puerto Rican dance partner. Neither of them are looking for romantic entanglements, and Stone can’t risk revealing his secrets, but as they heat up the dance floor, it’s only a matter of time until he feels an overwhelming urge to take the lead.

When the tabloids catch on to their developing romance, the spotlight threatens to ruin not just their relationship, but their careers and their shot at the trophy. Gina and Stone will have to decide if their priorities lie with fame, fortune, or the chance at a future together.

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

There were a few things that stood out and made this a must request book for me, and it was those things that I enjoyed the most in this story.

First, I’m a sucker for a book about dancing.  I’m really not a very good dancer myself (though I still try, I have, like, ZERO grace), so I ALWAYS admire dancers of all types, from ballet to ballroom and beyond.  And it boggles my mind how anyone can not understand the athleticism involved.  So I loved seeing the bits of dancing thrown into this story.  Strangely, having just read another book based on a dancing with the stars type show, I will say that while the dancing bits were good, they didn’t live up to that other books inclusions somehow…  Maybe because Stone was so large and strong, you didn’t get to see his struggle enough.  The author made it look easier than I think it is…and I just didn’t *feel* the dancing quite as much…  BUT if I didn’t have the other book to compare to, I probably would have loved it more.  And there was the practice with the Argentine Tango…that was pretty awesome.  Maybe it’s that the dancing was more glossed over in the second half, and I just wanted to bring back more of my own memories learning ballroom dance.  Huh.  This was a part I thought I loved, and I *did*…just maybe not as much as I thought.

OK, SECOND: Ms. Daria NAILED the diversity component.  I think this is what you get from #ownvoices…because the author is latina, you get a very realistic latina heroine.  I loved that aspect of Gina’s character, and seeing her fight to not be viewed as a stereotypical oversexualized latina was just so well done.  And you know what else I loved?  It wasn’t just one heroine that was hispanic!  There was actually a lot of diversity in the whole cast of characters (and not just hispanic)!  From other dancers to production staff to judges to hosts…it was just so real, you know?  I don’t understand why more authors don’t diversify the whole cast more.

And the great thing about this book is that the author doesn’t just tackle the issues surrounding Gina being latina…she also tackles how women in the entertainment industry are treated differently than men, particularly in regards to romantic relationships with other people in the industry.  AND we also get to see some of the effects of sexualizing men through Stone, and how he’s portrayed and what producers want from him (just take his shirt off).  I really loved that those things were all silently woven into the plot, but weren’t too preachy.

This review is already getting long, and I haven’t even gotten to characters, which is what I tend to focus on.  I enjoyed Gina for the most part, and while I understood her reasons for how she approached her relationship with Stone (wanting to keep it secret), I did start to lose my patience with her…  It started feeling really selfish the longer it went on, and like she didn’t even try to understand it from Stone’s perspective.  So in the end, I had a hard time believing her love for him.

Stone, on the other hand, was pretty adorable.  Don’t get me wrong, he had his own selfish moments…but he was kind of a beta boy, and you know how I love my beta boys.  He may have the appearance of an alpha, but his personality was anything but.  He was sweet, considerate, respectful…he made me swoon with how much he cared for Gina, and how, once he changed his tune, he was willing to do so much to make her dreams come true.

In the end, the reason I’m knocking it half a star (but still rounding up) is that I just felt like I was missing some magic…  There was just something missing in the writing…something I can’t put into words…that just kept me from getting sucked in and getting my emotions fully involved.

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Cocky Bastard by Penelope Ward, Vi Keeland

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Blurb: He was someone who belonged in my wildest fantasies instead of a rest stop in the middle of Nebraska.
A sexy, cocky, Australian named Chance was the last person I expected to run into on my cross-country drive.

When my car broke down, we made a deal. Next thing I knew, we were traveling together, spending sexually-tense nights in hotels and taking unplanned detours. 

My ordinary road trip turned into the adventure of a lifetime. It was all fun and games until things got intense.
I wanted him, but Chance wouldn’t make a move. I thought he wanted me too, but something was holding him back. 

I wasn’t supposed to fall for the cocky bastard, especially when I knew we’d be going our separate ways.

All good things must come to an end, right? 

Except our ending was one I didn’t see coming.

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Favorite Quotes: 

“What am I supposed to do?” She eventually whispered. I blew out a heavy stream of air. “Do what’s in your heart, Aubrey. If that’s not being with me—it will suck—I’m not going to lie. But I want you to be happy. That’s how I’m sure I’m in love with you. If the choice is you being happy or me…there is no choice. You come first.”

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3 stars

Eh, I was a bit underwhelmed with this story.  It tested my believability in some scenes.  I actually put this book down after a couple chapters because she mentioned how much of an Adonis he was.  If there is one thing that will make me put a book down fast it is when the FIRST thing that is mentioned is how hot he is.  I mean, I get it, physical attraction is important, but when its the first thing mentioned it just makes my interest level plummet.   

The relationship was pretty fast paced.   I mean, she allowed him to ride with her halfway across the country after knowing him a whopping 20 minutes!  I just couldn’t get past that. That raised a flag for me because in this day and age EVERYONE knows not to pick up strangers. Maybe I just can’t suspend my belief but the situation seemed way to easily manufactured to get them in close quarters for long periods of time.  And I know it’s order for them to form a bond quickly but it was just too convenient for me. It didn’t really impress me.  And it kinda went down hill from there.  

I will say this; The chemistry was pretty hot though.  Like Rose and Jack in the Titanic steamy!  

I didn’t click with Chance’s character.  I found his stalker mannerisms a bit over the top.  I didn’t see how their relationship was that deep to begin with.  He seems more invested in the relationship than she was, especially for all the things he did for her. Frankly I didn’t think she was worth the effort on his part. I would have walked after a week.

Aubrey was a forgettable character.  I honest to god had to look up her name while writing this! That’s how much she didn’t stand out.  Man, reading this back makes me think I should lower my rating even more.  Anyway, I’m glad this isn’t a series so I don’t have to worry about more books.  But hey, not everyone will have the same experience as me. In fact, my co-pilot Lenore happened to love this book.  

Curly Carla_small

 

Stacking the Shelves — September 30th, 2017

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(Images link to Goodreads, Titles link to Amazon using Amazon Affiliate links)

Stacking The Shelves is feature/weekly meme created by Tynga’s Reviews in which you share the books you are adding to your shelves, both physical and virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical stores or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

Lenoreo’s Haul

(All Ebooks unless otherwise specified)

NetGalley ARC Requests Approved:

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  • Show Me by Abigail Strom from Montlake Romance — releases January 2nd, 2018.  An astronaut, a sheltered heroine, and do I smell an unexpected pregnancy?  YES!  Plus that cover alone had me requesting!
  • The Corner of Forever and Always (Everland, Georgia #2) by Lia Riley from Forever (Grand Central Publishing) — released September 26th, 2017.  This is all Lillian @Mom With a Reading Problem‘s fault.  I read her review, and she sold me.  Then I saw that this author will be attending Apollycon 2018 in Washington, D.C. next March, and I figured it was worth a shot trying to request.  SCORE!
  • Man Candy (Real Love #3) by Jessica Lemmon from Loveswept (Random House Publishing Group – Loveswept) — releases January 9th, 2018.  I’ve read the first book in this series (read the review for Eye Candy) and I have an ARC of the 2nd book that I’m overdue on, so now I can finish off the trilogy.

NetGalley ARC Widgets Offered (and Taken):

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  • Christmas in Kilts by Terri Brisbin, Lecia Cornwall, Bronwen Evans, Lavinia Kent, and May McGoldrick from Swerve (St. Martin’s Press) — releases October 31st, 2017.  I will admit, I don’t usually go for historical books…but who can resist men in kilts, am I right?  Plus, I need more books for my 12 Books of Christmas Challenge (yeah right).

ARCs from Authors/PR Companies:

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  • Unloved by Katy Regnery — releases October 8th, 2017.  No preorder on Amazon (though it is on preorder on the other vendors, I’m just too lazy to post links).

Newsletter Freebies:

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  • Filthy Beautiful Lies (Filthy Beautiful Lies #1) by Kendall Ryan — I seem to be a newsletter subscriber of Staci Hart (I’m assuming because of some giveaway, I don’t question), and this was a book that was being offered for free for her newsletter subscribers (which will likely sign me up for Ms. Ryan’s newsletter now).  I noticed that this author will be attending both Apollycon 2018 and Book Bonanza, so I figured why not give her a shot with a free book?  Although in preparing this post, I just noticed that this book is also free on Amazon, so I could have just got it there.  In fact, maybe I will do that…then when I review it, it will actually be a verified purchase.  Excuse me while I talk to myself.  😛

Gifted/Won It:

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  • Butterfly Tattoo: Ultimate Edition by Deidre Knight — Birthday Present from my partner in crime, Curly Carla!!  For the life of me, I can’t remember how I came across this one, but I know it was recommended!
  • Rather Be (Songbird #10) by Melissa Pearl — I won this book during Ms. Pearl’s Songbird Read-a-thon this summer!!  Which is fantastic, b/c I had the privilege of beta reading this one, so I’m so happy I can now put it on my shelf and pet it!

Signed Paperbacks:

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  • A Girl Like Me (Like Us #2) by Ginger Scott — I was able to meet Ms. Scott at Romancing the Falls in May this year, and I collected a large stack of her books signed (and no, they’re not on any Stacking the Shelves, b/c I kept putting it off, and now it seems silly).  Unfortunately this second book in the duo wasn’t out yet, so when Ms. Scott put up signed copies for sale on her website, you can bet I took advantage.  I can’t have the first and not the second!

Book Outlet:

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  • First & Then by Emma Mills — I think Deanna @A Novel Glimpse keeps pimping this author, so I snagged it.
  • The Girl of Fire and Thorns (Fire and Thorns #1), The Bitter Kingdom (Fire and Thorns #3) and Walk on Earth a Stranger (The Gold Seer Trilogy #1) by Rae Carson — I’ve read The Girl of Fire and Thorns and really enjoyed it, but have yet to finish the series.  So I grabbed these two on the cheap, and thought I’d snag the first in another of Ms. Carson’s series for cheap too.
  • Forget Me Always (Lovely Vicious #2) by Sara Wolf — I LOVE this series, and already snagged the first book from Book Outlet, so I was stoked to find this one there as well.
  • Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen — I’ve read 2 YA’s by Ms. Dessen and loved them both, so figured why not grab another on the cheap?
  • The Fill-In Boyfriend and On the Fence by Kasie West — I haven’t read any of Ms. West’s books, but they come highly recommended.
  • Epic Fail by Claire LaZebnik — I read my first book by Ms. LaZebnik this year and really enjoyed it, so figured I’d grab another.
  • Appealed (The Legal Briefs #3) by Emma Chase — I’ve only read the second book in this series, but I LOVED it.  So I snagged this one too, to either get signed at the Big Apple Author Event in October, or Apollycon in March.
  • Harry Potter Box Set: The Complete Collection (Harry Potter #1-7) by J.K. Rowling — This is all the fault of an Instagram Challenge I was participating in.  The theme one day was your HP collections, and I realized I only have one set…and I’ve always wanted this rainbow set.  And then I saw it on Book Outlet, and it was all over from there.

Got the Paperback:

(I got all of these in anticipation of the Big Apple Author Event October 2017, Apollycon March 2018, or Book Bonanza July 2018)

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  • Him (Him #1), Us (Him #2), Good Boy (WAGs #1), and Stay (WAGs #2) by Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy — I love all of these books, and while yes, I could have preordered them from Ms. Bowen for BAAE, they would have come with signed book plates from Ms. Kennedy.  But since I’m hoping to meet Ms. Kennedy at Apollycon, I kind of wanted to get her autograph then.
  • Them (Him & Her #3) by Carey Heywood — Something went wrong in my pre-order for BAAE, and this book got missed…so guess I’m bringing it with me!
  • Royally Matched (Royally #2) and Royally Endowed (Royally #3) by Emma Chase — I still haven’t read this series, but I took a leap of faith.  Now to decide whether I drag these to BAAE, or wait to read them first and bring them to Apollycon.
  • It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover — When the paperback is temporarily cheaper than the Kindle version, I go for it…and maybe if I love it, I’ll bring it to Book Bonanza with me.

Got It On Sale:

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  • Cinderella Screwed Me Over by Cindi Madsen — I love this author, and so when I got an eReaderIQ alert that this book was on sale for 99 cents from its usual $5.99, I one-clicked!  Still on sale!  And bonus, I get to meet her again at Apollycon!
  • Paper Fools (Hearts and Arrows #1) by Staci Hart — This author will be attending the Big Apple Author Event in October, and so when I saw her mention in the BAAE Facebook Group that this book was on sale for free (and the next two books were 99 cents to celebrate her upcoming release of the 3rd book), I figured I’d take a chance.  I just finished it and unfortunately it wasn’t quite my cup of tea (see my review here).  Still free (usually $2.99 I think).

Paper Fools by Staci Hart

Blurb:
34854820Bestselling author Staci Hart brings you an addictive romantic mythology series where love is the ultimate game, and Aphrodite always wins.

She’s everything I want, and she can never be mine.

I thought my heart was too mangled to love.

I thought my soul was too sullied to touch something so pure.

I thought I knew myself. But the truth is that it’s all a lie, and she’s the only one who can save me from myself.

But I don’t deserve her.

And she can never be mine, no matter how much I need her.

*This rockstar romance novel, formerly titled Deer in Headlights, has been rewritten and reedited for your enjoyment.*

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My Review:
3 stars — I snagged this one for free as this author will be going to a signing I’m attending, and the 3rd book in the series was coming out.  And I’m intrigued by mythology stories.  But there were so many things that just didn’t quite work for me personally…things that might not bug other people, but just made this not a Lenore read.

First: There was too much going on.  There are two separate stories in this book, and neither one got enough attention to truly capture me and suck me in.  This might be ok for others, but it left me disappointed and inevitably bored.  I think I would have enjoyed it more if it was mainly one story, with just a tiny bit of the other story thrown in, but it was pretty equal.  There’s the overarching story of the Greek gods and goddesses, and the competitions they are holding, and the challenge between Aphrodite and Apollo that is the basis for the story in the human realm.  And if it had just been a little bit of that, it actually could have been fun.  But within that realm we also get a lot of backstory about Aphrodite, Adonis, Apollo, and Ares (all the A’s!!).  And if that had been the whole story, I actually would have enjoyed it more…I found the backstories kind of intriguing and I was sucked in and even cried a bit.  But then there is the story about Lex and Dean, the humans that are part of the challenge.  And if they had been the main story, I might have liked it better.  Do you see where I’m going with this?  If any one element had been more prominent, I would have enjoyed myself more, because they all had potential.  But because we kept getting shuttled back and forth, I never really got a chance to fall in love and empathize with any of the characters.  I would start to, and then I would have to switch gears and go to the other story.

Second: There were too many POVs!!!  If it had just been the 4 main players (Lex, Dean, Apollo and Aphrodite), I would have been OK.  But we also got to hear from Kara (Lex’s BFF), Roe (Dean’s BFF), Travis (the boyfriend), and I feel like maybe another god or goddess…I can’t even remember you guys.  Now, there are two sides to this coin, because I actually enjoyed some things I learned in the other POVs, but it kind of left me whirling occasionally.

Third: I’m not a cheating girl.  It’s one of my button topics, it’s totally a personal preference thing, but it just puts a barrier towards liking a cheating character.  And while there wasn’t really a huge instance of cheating, there was an element in the human story (Lex has a boyfriend when she falls in love with Dean), and Aphrodite (Dita) herself is not a monogamous goddess.  At least Dita didn’t really promise monogamy to anyone, but I’m just a stupid romantic reader who likes to root for one couple, so watching her go from guy to guy never let me root for any one pairing, you know?  I’m serious when I say it’s just my own personality quirk, I’m trying not to judge, but…*sigh*  OK, I guess I’m a bit judgey.  If she supposedly LOVES Adonis, then the Ares stuff ends up feeling like cheating.  I don’t know.

I never really liked Lex or Dean, though I really did feel for Dean and his past.  I couldn’t help but wonder if he was on the spectrum, because that’s what his emotional coldness felt like to me.  I’m also not huge on love at first sight stories (lust yes, love no), and their love moved very quickly (but at least we could blame the gods/goddesses for some of that).  So I really had no investment in their love story at all.  That love story just ended up leaving me bored because of my lack of investment.  The bright spot were Roe and Kara, which is where having their POVs was a mixed blessing.  I rooted more for their romance than Lex and Dean’s.  And both Kevin and Travis were also very likable secondary characters!  It’s bad when you like the secondary characters more than the main ones.

And that brings us to the gods/goddesses story.  I actually really loved Apollo, and really felt for him (especially with all we learn about him).  His story made my heart ache.  His was done very well and added things.  Dita was harder to love.  She was as you would expect a goddess to be, so it was at least realistic…she was spiteful, vengeful, had a temper, all those less desirable qualities.  She did have good ones too, and I enjoyed how she developed over the story, and I did have sympathy for her.  I also really enjoyed her friendship with Perry, they made me laugh.  And Heff was so sweet, I just felt sorry for him.  And I actually really enjoyed the whole backstory of what happened to create this feud, and I liked how it resolved.

So as you can see, I’m seriously torn.  Like, I enjoyed quite a few elements of the story, but when you put them altogether it got to be too much, and not enough all at the same time.  Oh well.  Not for me.  I’m also not sure if Ms. Hart’s writing style is for me, because it was a bit flowery at times (which is not the right word, but I never know how to describe it).  I would catch myself stumbling over sentences, and growing impatient to get to the good stuff.  That’s all me too, just might not be the right match.

Get It (Enemies to Lovers #2.5) by Anyta Sunday

34535520Blurb: Unrequited love is a bitch. It sucks you into a narrowly focused world and leaves you blind as a bat to other things…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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4 stars

This was a cute short story.  I loved how we got to see them come together.  It was nice to see Benny finally see what he had right in front of him.

James was quite the forgiving character. I’ve been where he is and I had to walk away.  I’m a huge fan of this author so I expected to love it as much as I did.

Curly Carla_small

Never Let You Go (A Modern Fairytale) by Katy Regnery

25653505Blurb:  Regret, 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.

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4 stars

This book was pretty intense, highly emotional and not for the faint of heart.  It involved overcoming some pretty graphic physical abuse.  Not something I usually read, it was done well IMO.  Sometimes when a read a graphic story, I will start to feel sick to my stomach if it’s too much physical abuse, but this one was just shy of that so I was able to finish it without cringing too hard.

With Holden, I identified a lot with how his feelings were portrayed. Not because I was abducted, but I have some experience with violence in my past.  One of the reasons I generally avoid too much of it.  He almost seemed to have this self sabotage ideal about him.  Like he punished himself because he didn’t believe he deserved to be happy.  And when Griselda came back into the picture he went into shock and became hyperfocused on her.  It was pretty fast paced and intense.  I know I said that already but IT’S TRUE!

Griselda was a bit of a hard sell for me.  I get her guilt ridden soul.  We all carry some form of guilt on our shoulders at some point in our lives.  I think I have a hard time with how much abuse she put herself through because of it. And yes, I do get that it doesn’t make sense since Holden chased the violence as well…. but as a woman it’s real hard for me to see how that would be penance for a perceived wrong.  The best way to get revenge on an abuser is to live the best life you can, despite their attempts to scare you otherwise.  At least that’s how I have coped.

I don’t know if I’m making sense at this point cause it’s late and I’m tired.  Really the only way you may understand what I mean is to read it, so go forth bibliophiles, and let me know what you think.

Curly Carla_small