The Line That Breaks (The Line That Binds #2) by J.M. Miller

The Line That BreaksBlurb: While searching for answers involving Stockton Estate’s stone well, Ben Shadows and LJ Wayde discover one truth: the curse is real.

Unfortunately, that truth has LJ facing the same fate that’s been tied to her bloodline for generations. The curse has given her the ability to help others conquer their greatest weaknesses, but it comes with a torturous price. As the rush of helping people starts to outweigh the pain of the consequences, LJ moves toward acceptance. She considers it a gift, a chance to make up for the way she treated people in the past.
Ben pushes on to find an end to the curse despite LJ’s reluctance. He fears the real consequences are far worse than LJ’s current symptoms, possibly linked to her Aunt Janine’s memory loss. His love drives his need to protect her, even if it means hiding the next piece of the well’s mystery.

When LJ finds what Ben has kept secret, she may never forgive him.

Will he lose her heart before he can save her mind?

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Favorite Quote:

The memory had me fighting tears while his arms flexed against me and his tongue caressed mine. The kiss suddenly became more powerful and expressive than any I’d ever felt. It was packed with so much emotion that I knew I could live an infinite amount of lives and never experience this raw beauty with anyone else.

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3.5 stars

I remember liking the first one more. They kept going on about how much they love each other but they don’t really give a solid reason why except for their mutual phyisical attraction.  And that got a bit repetitive.  Although, it has been a loooong time since I read the first one so I could just be remembering it wrong.

One thing I did not like was how stubborn LJ was when she found out this ‘secret’ Ben had.  I didn’t feel the secret was that large to elicit such of a response from her. I felt she overreacted and I found her to be kinda whiny this time around.

Ben was sweet to LJ and attentive to her needs, especially when things started to go downhill for her. I can’t really go into that more without spoilers so I’ll have to just leave it at that.  But his willingness to sacrifice for her was incredibly endearing.

Great ending if a bit of info dumping. I did like how there was no tangible bad guy but a past that literally haunts them.  It was a bit of a trip to not see a big bad vanquished. The end was neat and tidy.  I’d read more from this author.

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The Nanny Arrangement by Rachel Harris

Blurb:
29561320Soft-spoken and shy Hannah Fisher is determined to make the man she’s loved her entire life finally see her as a woman. With the help of a makeover, a new mission—Operation Find My Happy—and the convenient forced proximity of a tour bus, she vows to win her best friend Deacon’s heart.

Former bad boy and current fiddle player Deacon Latrell has the world at his fingertips: a new gig with a famous band, plus his best friend on tour as his son’s nanny. Life couldn’t get much sweeter. Now if only he could stop imagining kissing the daylights out of his childhood BFF…

With one friend set on pushing the boundaries and the other afraid to rock the boat, one thing’s for certain—their story would make one heck of a country song.

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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.

Mmmm, I love me a good friends to lovers story.  I was hooked from the prologue too, I just felt Hannah’s voice in her 14/15 year old self, and how much she put on the line to approach Deacon.  And I felt his overwhelming loneliness and despair.  Honestly, it was so good I was bummed for a tiny second that I wasn’t getting the young adult novel of their story.  😛  I will admit that that prologue was a full 5 stars for me, and that it was sort of on a different level.  But saying that, the story that followed was still all sorts of satisfying and grin inducing.

I really enjoy these romances from Ms. Harris.  They just have the perfect blend of sweet characters, great chemistry, steamy scenes (even if the books are fade to black, there are still tummy tingling hot spots), fabulous supporting characters, with just the right hint of strife without going overboard.  I can honestly say I was worried that Deacon’s inability to trust would wear on me…and it almost did.  It rode the edge (probably more than I would have liked, it got a bit frustrating).  But I was satisfied that the turnaround was short, so I didn’t have to be disappointed in him for long.  And it’s always so satisfying to see a reluctant hero nudged in the right direction (go Sherry and Arabella!).

I was also concerned with the kid aspect, b/c I’m not really a kid person.  And while the kid speak didn’t really work for me (sue me, I’m not won over by “wovins” and “mes a cowboy”), I did really appreciate the way Hannah was with the kids.  I respected the hell out of her, she really seemed to genuinely love the job, and it made her happy, and she treated them with respect and encouragement.  I love seeing positive adult role models…or parents…or whatever.

Hannah was a bit of a contradiction.  I loved the strong parts of her I saw, and I felt for her shyness and insecurity.  I LOVED the friendships she formed with Sherry and Arabella, it made my heart happy.  And when she finally made her move (in the limo) I loved the passion in her and the way she stood up for herself and Deacon…  I will admit that I wish I’d seen more earlier on, but I’ll take what I can get.  It seems both my hero and heroine had awesome bits, but the things that they clung to and allowed to get in the way got a bit frustrating.

As a side note, while it’s not required to read any other books in this series (or the related one), if you have read Tyler & Sherry’s story and Charlie & Arabella’s story, you will be very satisfied with the glimpses you get into their lives!!

So all in all, it was a great read!  Especially if you’re looking for a solid, Harlequin-esque romance (the Harlequin Romance line, not the Blaze line.  😛 ).  I wonder if it will be Nate or Miles next?

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Perfectly Oblivious by Robin Daniels

Blurb:
35276925Cameron Bates (Cam) could have almost any girl at Franklin High School…except for the one he wants. Unfortunately Bebe seems to be immune to his flirty charm and good looks, which means one of two things: a) she’s completely oblivious to how he feels, or b) she’s just not into him. If that’s the case, declaring his love would be disastrous for their friendship.

Bianca Barnes (Bebe) has a huge problem: the universe hates her. Every time she admits feelings for a boy, he ends up falling for her sweet, popular, and beautiful sister Beth. To avoid a broken heart, Bebe has sworn herself to secrecy. Nobody can know how she feels about Cam…Ever!

Neither person wants to confess their feelings, but the universe has its own plan. Out of the blue, Bebe is courted by a secret admirer. Cam has to step up his game and Bebe has to make a choice. Play it safe and accept the affections of her mystery man or challenge fate and take a chance on the boy she loves.

Content Description: This is a stand-alone YA contemporary romance with companion novels to follow. It contains minor language, innuendo, crude humor and steamy tension but is generally very clean. No sex. Recommended for ages 12 and up.

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

This was a wonderful debut, and a super cute YA.  Honestly, if it hadn’t been for my personal tastes, I would have rated this book higher.  As you can tell from the blurb, the entire premise of this book is based on not communicating…it’s what drives the plot.  Cam is afraid to tell Bianca about his feelings for fear of losing the friendship and being rejected, and Bianca refuses to tell ANYONE about her feelings for Cam b/c of what boils down to self-esteem issues.  Both are super valid feelings for teenagers, and it definitely felt realistic.  But I still have a hard time reading it personally, b/c it can result in a really frustrating book.  As far as books with “near misses” go, this one wasn’t horrible for me.  I think I was OK with it up to about 70%, and then I started to get tired and want more.  What it can provide is some great tension between the characters, and I thought that Cam and Bebe had that.  But if I’m (personally) not given enough growth and development of the characters, then I tend to be left with more frustration than I can handle.  I need something to balance it out, you know?

Now, with all that being said, I was honestly sucked in and hooked for a good portion of the book.  I’m not sure if it was great characters, or just me loving the double unrequited love trope (where they both secretly love each other, but assume the other doesn’t feel the same), but I was invested in seeing how their story would unfold.  I found both characters to be equally ADORABLE, CUTE, QUIRKY on one hand, and FRUSTRATING as all get out on the other.  You have no idea how many times I huffed in annoyance when something would get in the way and delay my gratification.  I know a lot of readers enjoy that, so I know not everyone will feel the same as me.

Bianca had a lot of traits that draw me to a heroine…I find it so easy to empathize with heroines that have self-esteem issues, and don’t see their own worth.  What I enjoyed about her is that it wasn’t all that she was about.  I LOVED how strong and confident she was in her basketball skills, and how sassy she could be with Cam and the other people she hangs out with.  I thought the relationship with her sister, Beth, really added to Bianca’s depth…her feeling conflicted b/c Beth was her best friend, but also the source of her feelings of inferiority in some ways.

Cam could be soooooo freaking cute, and I ADORED what he did to show Bianca his feelings.  Seriously, he gave me total tummy tingles, and I just wanted to hug him so many times!!  I loved seeing what he would do next.  And the pickup basketball game scene??  SWOON!!  BUT.  But.  Sometimes when he was going overboard with his jealousy, I was a bit disappointed in him.  I had to keep reminding myself he was a 16 year old boy…  So he didn’t quite get put in my top book boyfriend lists, but he still made me smile.

There were some great secondary characters as well.  I loved that there weren’t any stereotypical bad characters either, you could see hints of depth in a few of them (I’m intrigued by Michael, and even Angelica surprised me).  So many times authors will cop out and make characters overly evil, so it was refreshing that Ms. Daniels did not go there in this novel.  And of course Brady and Beth were fantastic additions.  It would have been so easy to make both of those characters too good to be true, you know?  But they weren’t.  They had depth as well, they made mistakes (particularly Beth), and they both won me over.  I loved how each of their little stories played out.  Honestly the only characters I could have stood to see more of were parents…they were noticeably absent (both BeBe’s and Cam’s).

All in all a solid debut.  If it hadn’t been for my personal aversion to lack of communication, it would have been an even bigger hit with me.  Will definitely look forward to seeing more from this author.

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Fix Her Up by Carey Heywood

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Hook by Elisabeth Grace

Blurb:
29379163From USA Today Bestselling Author, Elisabeth Grace, comes her most suspenseful, sexy, and thrilling book yet!

Women loathed me without even knowing my name. Men coveted the very idea of me.

Escort. Call girl. Prostitute. Hooker. Wh*re.

I’d heard it all. Done it all.

Over the years I’d felt a lot of things about my occupation…but not regret–never regret. I had my reasons for doing what I did and nothing and no one had ever made me question them.

UNTIL MARCO VALENTI.

He’d changed me and I’d naively fed into the fairy tale.

But Marco wasn’t my Prince Charming. He had secrets of his own. Secrets that would eventually rip away everything I held dear.

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My Review:
3.5 stars — OK, so I will admit that I tend to shy away from mob/mafia feeling books, and with a name like Marco Valenti and a guy with secrets, I had a hunch something like that would appear.  It’s the same as I shy away from Motorcycle Club books, I just have a hard time falling in love with a hero who does questionable things.  But the hooker part intrigued me.  And since the author is going to be at a signing event I’m attending, and gave away this book for free, I figured I’d give it a shot.  And I must say, I was actually pleasantly surprised for the first more than half!!

For one, it was nice to have a woman in a questionable profession who isn’t some virginal girl, but who owns the choices she’s made to get where she’s at.  And who doesn’t regret them.  And when you learn why she’s chosen this path for her life, I could buy it.  A son with MD can NOT be an easy financial burden, especially as a young single mother.  And I think that’s particularly where our heroine shines, in her love for her son Daniel.  I really felt her love for him, her worry, and you could see the different choices she was making to truly give him the best life possible.  And I LOVED that she had goals outside of that too.  Like, with the amount of money she was making, she could have just coasted, but she was going to school, and she had dreams of something more.  It really made her a more interesting and 3 dimensional character.  That caught me by surprise, and I was impressed with that.

Marco was a bit harder to love, but I also didn’t hate him.  He had some spectacular moments (such as how he handles Daniel), and I loved how forceful he was about reminding our heroine that she is not just her profession.  I thought the balance was good.  He could be a bit…emotionally volatile?  Or something.  That wasn’t really a turn on for me.  But he had lots of sweet moments as well.

Honestly, I almost rated this one a full 4 stars because I really enjoyed the first part, even despite some reservations…  But I started to get a bit impatient/bored near the end of the book, b/c I had forgotten that it was a duet, and so I was wondering when we were going to get some resolution.  Answer?  We weren’t.  Cliffhanger.  Which is fine.  It was my fault for forgetting.  And so it just lost a bit of the good steam it had going.

So what were my reservations?  Well, what exactly drew Marco to her in the first place?  He was quite infatuated.  That was mitigated in that at least we got to see them get to know each other, so I could accept the development of the relationship past that point.  The name thing was a bit weird too…it went on longer than I was anticipating.  And it did pull a few things directly from Pretty Woman, which I didn’t feel like it had to be so close (the kissing thing, the opera).

And then we get to the ending.  Well, I’m a bit of a skeptical girl, so I don’t buy it all.  It felt a bit like a cheap play on emotions.  And I REALLY don’t like where that takes our heroine and hero.  In fact, the ending didn’t make me super keen on continuing on (despite the fact that having a cliffhanger is supposed to do the exact opposite).  So I read a few bad reviews for the next book, and I know darned well that my personal tastes are going to run towards that end of the spectrum, so I think I’ll just leave it at this.  Once that decision was made, I read some spoilers so I could at least have a question answered.  No regrets.  Enjoyable book, just not quite in my wheelhouse enough to continue on.

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The Prince & The Player by Tia Louise

Blurb:
34305655Let the games begin…

Runaway Zelda Wilder will do whatever it takes to secure a better life for her and her sister Ava. Crown Prince Rowan Westringham Tate will do whatever it takes to preserve his small country.

“Playboy Prince” MacCallum Lockwood Tate will do whatever it takes to steal Zelda’s heart…

When Zee is blackmailed into humiliating the brooding future king, she never expects to be pulled into a web of international intrigue–or to fall for Rowan’s naughty younger brother Cal.

Cal is determined to capture the sexy player, but Zelda is in over her head with very dangerous men. Time is running out, and it may be too late for the prince to save this player.

Cinderella meets Ocean’s Eleven in this CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE featuring secrets, lies, royal high jinks, scams and double-crosses; breathless, swooning lust, cocky princes, dominant alpha future-kings, and crafty courtiers, who are not always what they seem.

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My Review:
3.5 stars — This one started a bit slower for me, I was enjoying it, but it wasn’t blowing me away.  It ended with a blast though!  It just sped right up and kind of overwhelmed me!  But strangely, even though it ends on a cliffhanger, I haven’t decided if I’ll continue.  Probably not.  While I thought the plot/action was very intriguing, I wasn’t completely sold on the romance and characters, which are kind of the things that most draw me into a story.

I had a few problems with the romance, and I think one of those problems stems from the fact that there are TWO love stories in this book, and that while it is dual POV, we get to read from the heroine of ONE COUPLE and the hero of the OTHER COUPLE.  Which is kind of cool and unique, but ultimately not satisfying for me.  Basically I didn’t really get to focus on either couple well enough, and since I didn’t get to see both sides of each love, I didn’t really buy into the emotions necessarily.  Obviously some romances are written in single POV, so you don’t need to see both sides to buy a love, but then the author really needs to show me what the other half is feeling through our POVs eyes, kwim?  Does that make sense?  And I really did not get a feel for what Cal or Ava were feeling…  Ava maybe a bit moreso, but honestly I felt like I didn’t really get much from that love story at all, it felt more pushed to the background.  So it kind of felt unnecessary.

And BOTH couples suffered from a lot of lust that didn’t transform into love for me at all.  I guess Ms. Louise was trying to go for insta-love or something, and I definitely felt the lust, but I have NO IDEA what drew them to each other (BOTH COUPLES) other than physical attraction.  I guess I don’t mind that quite as much if we get that development later in the relationship, like I’ll give it a pass.  But I NEVER really got a feel for what they were so infatuated with wrt their partner, besides the physical attraction.  I really needed more emotion.  Maybe it’s because the love story I felt I got more of was Zee and Cal, and he was just so blunt and dirty talking and kind of forceful, that I didn’t understand what made Zee different to him than the others.

And I guess that’s the other thing.  While I didn’t dislike any of the main characters, I also did not fall in love with any of them.  They were all ok, but maybe because the narrative was split between 4 main characters, I never really got a lot of development of any of them.  And I must say that they all acted a lot younger than their ages.  The girls felt like teenagers (particularly Ava, who is supposed to be 21), and the boys felt like college age.  *shrugs*  Which, some people really do behave that way at those ages, but I don’t understand why in their particular case.

And while I felt like Zee was a bit naive with Reggie, I did end up enjoying the suspense and action that the book ended with.  I was on the edge of my seat wanting to see how it was going to play out.

So yeah.  Not a bad book, just didn’t have enough of what *I* personally enjoy the most in my favourite books to keep me captivated.  Oh well, not every book is a match for every reader.

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Pucked by Helena Hunting

Blurb:
25422262With a famous NHL player for a step-brother, Violet Hall is well acquainted with the playboy reputation many hockey stars come with. She’s smart enough to steer clear of those hot, well-built boys with unparalleled stamina. That is until she meets the legendary team captain—Alex Waters.

Violet isn’t interested in his pretty, beat-up face, or his rock-hard six-pack abs. But when Alex inadvertently obliterates Violet’s previous misapprehension regarding the inferior intellect of hockey players, he becomes more than just a hot body with a face to match.

In what can only be considered a complete lapse in judgment, Violet finds out just how good Alex is with the hockey stick in his pants. But what starts out as a one-night stand, quickly turns into something more. Post-night of orgasmic magic, Alex starts to call, and text, and e-mail and send extravagant—and quirky—gifts, making him difficult to ignore, and even more difficult not to like.

The problem is, the media portrays Alex as a total player, and Violet doesn’t want to be part of the game.

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My Review:
3.5 stars — HUGE thanks to my girl Kelly for loaning this book to me!!  I’ve seen this book around quite a bit, and I’ve been so torn on whether to read it or not.  See, I LOVE sports romance.  And I f-ing LOVE hockey romances in particular.  BUT.  And this is a big BUT.  I am NOT a fan of over the top comedy.  It’s not that I don’t understand why others enjoy it, it’s HONESTLY just a personal taste thing.  And I’d heard that this one was pretty OTT, so I was hesitant to pick it up.  And quite honestly, it both surprised me and didn’t.  I DID find the OTT very annoying, and it’s ultimately what has me giving this a 3.5 star and *wanting* to round down.  BUT, unlike other OTT comedies I’ve read (most of which I’ve cringed through and even DNFd) this one had a lot of redeeming qualities to it — and *that* was the surprise (and is what’s making me want to round up…we’ll see what wins).  So even this review will be kind of 2 sided.

So let’s start with the annoyances.  I had heard about the overuse of “Beaver” and “Monster Cock”.  And it was just as bad as I’d been told.  That was a bummer.  It’s funny, b/c I don’t mind crass, I enjoy certain parts of it.  But the overuse was too much.  It was humorous for the first maybe 20%, then it just got tiring.  And cooter?  Really?  I mentioned it to my husband, and he was like “are they 12 year old boys?”  And the way she played with “snuffie” when he was sleeping actually just disturbed me.  That was the side of the humour that *didn’t* mesh with me at all.

The ultimate problem for me with OTT comedies, is that the balance is off.  I guess I don’t really want pure comedies.  I need the heart too.  I WANT both.  I don’t think I’m meant to read about characters that feel like caricatures.  And quite honestly, that was what Violet ended up being for me.  I didn’t see any depth to her character, and I didn’t even really empathize with her as much as I was probably meant to when the big climax/breakdown happened.  I was just annoyed with her…though not majorly annoyed, just minorly annoyed.  Because here’s the thing…there were parts of her that I actually found quite amusing.  Her crass mouth wrt swearing and saying inappropriate things actually *did* work for me.  The moment when Buck first sees them kissing and asks what they’re doing and she says she’s sucking his dick?  And then proceeds to talk about mouth f*ing?  Hilarious to me.  I even embarrassed my husband by explaining the scene when we were on a date at the Melting Pot.  He was wondering how many more times I was going to say f*.  So I guess I can vibe with Violet on that one.  It was the more childish stuff that didn’t work for me with her.  And I was kind of sad with how judgey she was wrt Buck and his intelligence.  Not cool man.

So what worked for me then?  Cause that probably seems like a lot of negative.  Well, while the balance may not have been…well, balanced enough for me, it wasn’t completely one-sided either.  I did get to see some romance between them.  OK, let’s stop joking around.  You know what worked for me?  Alex worked for me.  BIG TIME worked for me.  Like, I’m a beta hero LOVER and while Alex wasn’t strictly a beta hero, he had a lot of beta in him.  Give me an unsure, nerdy/smart, awkward, trying too hard, bumbling guy and I’ll fall in love with him EVERY SINGLE TIME.  The single-minded and purposeful way he pursued her?  The sweet way he checked with her EVERY STEP OF THE WAY during their steamy encounters?  The way he kind of put his heart on the line?  OMG, yes baby, that’s my kind of man.  I even got why he allowed the playboy rep to spread…it was disappointing, but I got it.  And all the Canadiana (Tim Horton’s, The Hip)?  YES!  Love it.  And I loved that he balanced it out with his own bit of pervy boy, I enjoyed how fascinated he was with Violet’s tits, and I loved how grrrr he could be once given the full go ahead.  I mean damn, what a strange combination of aggressive and awkward.  Yup, works for me.

And if you could overlook all the beaver and MC comments during EVERY SEX SCENE, then they were actually pretty steamy and enjoyable as well.

So there you have it.  Not my fave heroine, but I didn’t dislike her…she just annoyed me.  Mixed with a total BOOK BOY WIN for me with Alex.  And…yup, going to round up.  Alex is just that worth it for me.  However, I’m not sure I can handle the comedy stylings going forward.  I’m definitely skipping Buck’s book, b/c I read some reviews that pointed out things that will annoy the crap out of me.  Still debating about Randy’s book.  And super intrigued by Lance’s book…that sounds like it might have more of my kind of balance.  Thanks again to Kelly for the loaner!!  I got to indulge in my curiosity without committing to buying.  😉

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Waiting on the Sidelines by Ginger Scott

Blurb:
18807015Nolan Lennox had things figured out. Named after a baseball legend, she enjoyed being the Tomboy, her closet filled with her brother’s hand-me-downs, cut-off jeans and soccer shorts. But when her first trip to high school results in a broken heart from the first boy to ever make her heart flutter and cruel words from an older girl she once thought a family friend, Nolan starts to question the very person she thought she was and wonders if her humble upbringing can compete with the afforded luxuries of her privileged peers.

Throughout the next four years, Nolan struggles to maintain herself throughout her path of discovery, learning just how cruel teenagers can be through the pressures of underage drinking, sexuality and class. And despite how life seems to continue to work against her, she still manages to listen to her heart, falling deeper and deeper for the guy the entire town adores, even if he only sees her as a friend. Can Nolan strike a compromise between her own integrity and the boy she loves? And can she make him notice her before it’s too late?

Reed Johnson came to Coolidge High School with a lot of fanfare. The son of a hometown football legend and the brother of a local football hero, Reed wore all the pressures of carrying a town without hope into the spotlight. Thankfully, he had the talent to back it up. But when he meets a girl who makes him think twice about exactly what being a hero means, he starts to wonder if following in his brother’s footsteps might be all wrong.

Nolan Lennox was everything that was opposite of expected. She didn’t flirt, she didn’t drink and she didn’t sleep around. Nothing about her was easy, but something about her made Reed want to try harder. Though she didn’t look the part, she seemed to be spending a lot of time in Reed’s thoughts, and he wondered if she could be the one who made it all worthwhile. But could Reed handle letting her down? And would breaking her heart break him beyond repair?

Waiting on the Sidelines explores young love to its fullest, exposing how real young heartbreak and passion is and how important it is to discover yourself and hold onto your own identity. The story follows two young characters as they deal with mature situations, including the prevalence of bullying and promiscuity in today’s high school setting. Ultimately, Waiting on the Sidelines is a story of hope, honesty and those powerful, first true loves–the ones worth holding onto at any cost.

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My Review:
3.5 stars — Well crap.  I can’t even tell you how bummed I am right now.  This book started off AMAZINGLY.  Like, I stupidly started it at midnight (I know, but I couldn’t get my brain to sleep), and then I proceeded to stay up til 4am reading — THAT kind of amazingly.  Like, amazingly enough that I gushed on Facebook about it.  But little things that bothered me kept building up and building up until I was left with an ending that was so unsatisfying for me.  I’m so sad right now.  😦

OK, so we’re going to sprinkle the good with the bad, b/c each aspect of the story had both for me.

Nolan was initially my kind of girl.  I love reading about insecure heroines (I know, kind of weird, but I can relate).  But she was so strong in other ways as well.  And this was truly a coming of age story.  She made some cringeworthy decisions at times, but it also felt authentic to a teenage experience (even if I don’t want that to be true).  She bowed to peer pressure on occasion, right from the very start…she wasn’t immune to the horrible things other teenagers can say and do.  I actually loved this part.  Because you know what?  Not every teen girl is strong and can brush that stuff off.  Especially early on in high school.  And I did get to see some growth there, she had strong moments and weak moments and vacillated between them in the way that often happens when a person is growing up.  So while I *hated* some of the things she did (mostly wrt her romantic relationships), I initially forgave her because I expected growth and change.  The problem is, I didn’t quite get enough growth and change to satisfy me.  Mostly wrt her relationship with Reed.  So while I actually celebrated the growth we did see — I adored the passion she developed with Nancy, and her memoir was beautiful — it wasn’t enough to make up for what ended up being a very unhealthy relationship that she continually pursued.

And that’s where the major problem lies for me in this book.  I ended up hating the romance.  There were glimmers in the beginning that had me sooooo excited.  I truly felt Nolan’s crush on Reed, and I could even see his feelings for her.  I found it so intriguing to read about Nolan’s high school journey and how her relationship with Reed changed over those years.  I kind of liked that it was initially unrequited, but that there was a strong friendship there.  But at a certain point I wanted to see more of what was keeping them interested in each other.  Again, I wanted growth and change, and I didn’t quite get that.  Reed had these glimmers of goodness, and the summer after sophomore year looked like it was going to be amazeballs!  I had so many tummy tingles, and I had forgiven him for his teenaged choices earlier.  I was just happy.  I knew it wouldn’t last, but I was not expecting what happened.  Or rather, I sort of was, but this time I was disappointed (there had been some other predictable plot choices earlier on, but I was fine with them).  The main reason I was disappointed was lack of communication.  I *hate* when the whole reason things don’t work is a lack of communication.  It’s so unrealistic to me that Reed wouldn’t have yelled out the reason right away.  Or that someone else wouldn’t have told Nolan.

And at that point, the romance spiraled out of control for me.  Not saying there weren’t good moments, but it stopped being enough.  Reed was a dick.  I could forgive earlier moments, but when he continued to make horrible and hurtful choices without learning and changing, his apologies didn’t end up feeling sincere.  I felt like Nolan bent over backwards for him, and that’s just not healthy.  It made Nolan look a bit more doormat-like, and it made Reed more and more unredeemable.

(This paragraph might be a bit spoilerish, so please stop reading if you haven’t read the book and still want to) I still held out hope though.  I sincerely did.  I vacillated between two major desires for an ending.  I WANTED that redemption for Reed, or I wanted it to not be a HEA for Reed and Nolan.  And I got neither.  I actually was leaning more towards the second scenario, and then this book really would have been more of a coming of age.  I wanted Nolan to realize that while she might love Reed, it wasn’t healthy for her and it never would be.  I wanted her to love herself more.  I wanted her to go to College and find a better love, and know that Reed would be her first, but that she deserved better.  BUT, if I couldn’t have that, then I wanted Reed to understand that he needed help.  Because he did.  He was unhealthy.  He had goodness in him, but he wasn’t treating Nolan well.  I at least needed him to truly change and make a grand gesture.  A hat is not a grand gesture.  And he should have been mortified that he had made Nolan believe she was at fault.  I needed to *see* him change before I could give him another chance.

(OK, end spoilers) I enjoyed a lot of the secondary characters though.  I found her best friends to be interesting, and I almost wish she had listened to them more (especially Sienna, she seems to have a good head on her shoulders).  I really loved Sean (and eventually Becky), and that *really* pleasantly surprised me.  And I loved most of the parents in this story.  Nolan’s were actually pretty good people, and pretty tapped into her.  And then there was Buck.  I wanted more from him for *Reed*, but I guess I can’t say what kind of conversations they had since we never had Reed’s POV.  But I LOVED what he was for Nolan.  He was a big pleasant surprise.

So yeah.  A super strong start, but for me it was mired with an unhealthy relationship, an unredeemable hero, and too many problems that boiled down to communication.  So, basically, bummer.  And reading the bad reviews for the next book, it sounds like more miscommunications, so I won’t be continuing on.

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Wild Reckless by Ginger Scott

Blurb:
25059516Kensington Worth had a vision for her senior year. It involved her best friends, her posh private school in downtown Chicago and time alone with her piano until her audition was perfected, a guaranteed ticket into the best music programs in the world.

Instead, a nightmare took over.

It didn’t happen all at once, but her life unraveled quickly—a tiny thread that evil somehow kept pulling until everything precious was taken from her. She was suddenly living miles away from her old life, trapped in an existence she didn’t choose—one determined to destroy her from the inside, leaving only hate and anger behind. It didn’t help that her neighbor, the one whose eyes held danger, was enjoying every second of her fall.

Owen Harper was trouble, his heart wild and his past the kind that’s spoken about in whispers. And somehow, his path was always intertwined with Kensington’s, every interaction crushing her, ruining her hope for any future better than her now. Sometimes, though, what everyone warns is trouble, is exactly what the heart needs. Owen Harper was consumed with darkness, and it held onto his soul for years. When Kensington looked at him, she saw a boy who’d gotten good at taking others down when they threatened his carefully balanced life. But the more she looked, the more she saw other things too—good things…things to admire.

Things…to love. Things that made her want to be reckless.

And those things…they were the scariest of all.

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My Review:
3.5 stars — Well, this book left me really torn.  The good stuff was REALLY REALLY GOOD.  Like really good (in case the capital letters didn’t sell you).  But the stuff that didn’t sit right with me is just hovering at the back of my brain, disallowing me from loving this book.

So what let’s do good stuff first.  I really love this author, and I love the way she can just drag out my feels and rip up my heart at times.  And she decided to go for the jugular right from the prologue.  I thought that the way she addressed Owen’s grief over his father, and the issues that he dealt with with his older brother was done REALLY well.  I really felt his confusion, and loss, and could kind of understand why he was such a dick and how he cultivated the attitude that he did, especially in the town he grew up in.  And my heart broke for everything that he was trying to do to protect his family.  And I could FEEL his pain.  Even though we don’t get in his head, I could feel it through Kensi.

I LOVED the way Kensi grew a backbone and remained steadfast with Owen through the tough times.  Even when her heart was breaking over things he was doing, she was still trying to be there for him, to try to pull him back.  And Owen was there for her too, trying to push her and not let her lose herself.

And I loved some of their sweet moments.  Particularly some of the sweet moments Owen had with Kensi, he could be so adorable because he just wasn’t used to normal relationships.  And hoo boy, when I eventually got on board with their chemistry, it was freaking hot!

I will also give a shout out to Grandpa, he was da bomb.  I wish we’d seen more of him.

OK, so that was all awesome.  I really did feel sooooo much with this book, and I enjoyed the moments when the characters surprised me and didn’t do what I expected.  BUT.  But…  *sigh*  While I *get* why Owen was a dick, some of the things he did to Kensi went too far for me to come back from, and I just couldn’t put him on my book boyfriend list.  It’s funny, b/c it’s not that I didn’t expect some of those bad things…he wouldn’t be an authentic “bad boy” if he didn’t have some slip ups, and people are complex creatures, so it’s reasonable to assume that he wouldn’t get it right all the time.  But I didn’t get to see enough of his transition, where he started embracing more of the sweet side and letting it shine through.  I didn’t get to see his regret over some of those bad decisions, some of those dickish moments.  And I needed that.  I really really needed more than we were given.

And along those same lines, b/c of the horrible initial encounters between the two, I didn’t understand what drew them together.  I get that she thought he was cute, but she was also terrified of him, so I needed some moment or action from him that changes her mind.  And not being in Owen’s head, I honestly don’t know WHAT he was thinking about Kensi.  I don’t know what attracted him to her.

And there were other little things.  Like Kensi’s side story was actually really heartbreaking, but I felt like it fell to the wayside in favour of the Harper story.  Which is fine, but then why have it at all?  It felt like it was unnecessary if you weren’t going to give it time and attention.  And while I get that she’s a teenager, I didn’t always appreciate how she talked to her Mom and didn’t seem to care about her, and I guess I just needed her to apologize and grow in that relationship.  It’s not that I didn’t agree wholeheartedly with Kensi, but there should be some respect there, or it should at least develop.  And I was kind of disappointed with how focused Kensi was on Owen, to the exclusion of her new friends.  It didn’t really feel healthy.  I guess that’s it, a lot of the things that bothered me were because they didn’t feel healthy.  Which happens in real life, but then I want some resolution to them, you know?  I want my characters to realize it’s not healthy and grow.  And I kind of felt bad for Morgan.  If you don’t remember who she is, then that’s exactly my point.  Why introduce an element, and then let it flounder.

I did really love Andrew though, so I’m excited to read his story.  *fingers crossed* that the little things don’t get in the way of my enjoyment on that one too.  I actually can’t decide how to round this one.  Up because I love the author and I loved all the feels and the chemistry?  Or down because the unhealthiness was too much?  Hmmm…

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Blood Warrior (The Alexa Montgomery Saga #1) by H.D. Gordon

Blood warriorBlurb: When her home is attacked by murderous vampires, 17-year-old Alexa is forced to leave her mother for dead in order to save her sister. She soon learns that she is the last known member of an elite race of supernatural Warriors, and is thrust into a world full of vampires and werewolves who all seem to regard her as some sort of savior. Meanwhile, Alexa battles a monster within herself that seeks to gain control; a monster that seeks blood.

The hidden city she finds herself in appears perfect, but Alexa’s instincts tell her that all is not right within its walls. When she is asked to attend a school of fighters, whose exams consist of gladiator-style competitions, she must decide who she can trust among the smiling faces. And, when she meets Kayden, a vampire she feels undeniably drawn to, she must decide if she can trust herself.

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2.5 stars

This book was okay I guess.  Honestly, and I know this is gonna sounds rude but I need to let this out, I forgot the whole thing shortly after reading it. I had to re-read the blurb to jog my memory.  This is a thing that rarely happens to me so when it did I knew that I wasn’t going to have nice things to say about this story.

First off, the world building was sub-par for me.  And that’s saying a lot because I’m one of those people that doesn’t really like world building.  I like an author to give me just enough that I can fill in the blanks.  But I don’t feel I even got that. It seemed all very rushed and intuitive.  But like so intuitive an outsider (such as me) is thinking, “Okay, but how do you know that’s right?” Am I making sense?

Second, I didn’t really get why her not knowing what she was, was such a huge deal.  It was never really explained to us.  So when things don’t make sense or are never really explained, I tune out of the story. I almost DNF’d the book TBH but I was at like 75% in and I thought, might as well see if it turns around. Plus, I have had A LOT of DNF’s recently and I wanted to get out of my funk.

Third, it was unoriginal and a bit tropey.  And while I am not a hater of tropes in general,(an author can make me LOVE a trope if written well) the lack of originality just made it a run of the mill read for me.  I feel like a dick for this review but this is how I feel.  Not a fit for me.

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