Rumpel’s Prize (Kingdom #8) by Marie Hall

Rumples prizeBlurb:  Imp, deceiver, villainous mastermind… Rumpelstiltskin’s been called all these names and more, and for the most part, they’re entirely true. But there is more to the brooding, blond haired Adonis than brokering deals for the devil. He’s hiding a terrible, hideous secret. One that threatens to fray the already delicate strands of his sanity and reason. A secret that he’s desperate to make right, to see whole again, and there is no one and nothing that will stand in his way of getting what he wants—no one except a slip of woman with hair like fire and skin like finest porcelain. Something about Shayera Caron calls to the beast inside him and makes him question his motives for the first time in his life.

Shayera Caron is the daughter of the infamous Gerard Caron, former lothario of Kingdom but now a reformed rake and settled husband and father. She can go nowhere in her tiny hamlet without seeing the sneers of women and hearing the murmurings of their disdain for the blood that runs through her veins. Shayera is desperate to get away from the gossiping hens, so when Rumpelstiltskin rides into town, she doesn’t think twice before going wherever he leads. Only thing is Shayera is not as innocent as she might seem, for she hides a secret too. One that will bring the most feared man in all of Kingdom to his knees…

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4 stars

I like this one way more than the others.  It might be because the Gerald is one of my favorite bad guys in this series so since his daughter is in it I paid extra close attention to it.  And she had her own demons to deal with, so to speak.  She was a bit of a firecracker and I really loved her protectiveness of her family.  

Also I’m also a huge fan of Rumpelstiltskin.  I absolutely loved his backstory, it gave a lot of insight into his present character and made me love him even more. He is one sexy demon.  

This love story was more drawn out than the others as well so I got a bit of simmer before the boil if that makes sense.  And the plot twist at the end was unexpected.  I was pretty shocked at the things Rumple was willing to sacrifice to get what he thought he wanted. 

I enjoyed this one and since I had previously read the next one I’m very excited to finish this series.  

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Things I Should Have Known by Claire LaZebnik

Blurb:

31375784An unforgettable story about autism, sisterhood, and first love that’s perfect for fans of Jenny Han, Sophie Kinsella, and Sarah Dessen. New York Times bestselling author of Tell Me Three Things Julie Buxbaum raved: “I couldn’t put it down.”

Meet Chloe Mitchell, a popular Los Angeles girl who’s decided that her older sister, Ivy, who’s on the autism spectrum, could use a boyfriend. Chloe already has someone in mind: Ethan Fields, a sweet, movie-obsessed boy from Ivy’s special needs class.

Chloe would like to ignore Ethan’s brother, David, but she can’t—Ivy and Ethan aren’t comfortable going out on their own so Chloe and David have to tag along.  Soon Chloe, Ivy, David, and Ethan form a quirky and wholly lovable circle. And as the group bonds over frozen yogurt dates and movie nights, Chloe is forced to confront her own romantic choices—and the realization that it’s okay to be a different kind of normal.

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

OK confession time!  I got this one a few months ago, and when I decided to start reading it, I kind of forgot exactly what it was going to be about.  So in essence, I kind of went into the book a bit blind.  Like so blind that I forgot her sister was on the autism spectrum, and then I was like “oh yeah!!”  So it took me a bit to really get into the story, but once I did I was seriously sucked in.

At the beginning, Chloe isn’t necessarily that endearing, and it takes a bit to really get a feel for who she really is…and part of that is that you start off seeing the facade that she shows to her peers, and not necessarily all of who she is inside.  And she’s not the only one I was unimpressed with, I really didn’t fall in love with many characters at the beginning, from her family to her friends and boyfriend.  In fact, I felt more antagonistic towards many of them, particularly her stepfather.  But I’ll get back to that.

As the story progresses you get to see why Chloe chooses to put on the persona and maintain her status in the popular crowd, with the “hot” boyfriend.  I actually think this is one of the best depictions I’ve ever read of a teenager going along and trying to fit in.  With all that she struggles with at home, I could see how she would want to be liked and how much easier it would be for her to just keep her opinions to herself.  You could see a bit of that internal struggle for her, but ultimately she didn’t want to make waves, and she kind of just wanted to feel what she perceived to be “normal”.  It’s always disappointing, for sure, but I *got* it.  Not sure if that makes sense.  But it also makes her development as a character that much more satisfying.  Seeing her start to feel like “enough is enough” and that perhaps other qualities are more important in friends and boyfriends than what she was initially seeking just really felt natural and believable.  That it’s OK to have different priorities, and to stand up for yourself against the norm.  Seriously, I really ended up loving Chloe by the end of the book.  It’s actually kind of nice to see a main character who is popular not because she’s secretly a nerd and tired of being bullied, but because she just likes being liked.

David, Ivy and Ethan were the other stars of this show.  If you’re looking for a book with a grand romance, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this one.  The romance with David is very slow building, and while I adored it, it’s really not the primary focus of the story.  It kind of gets shuffled to the background.  In the end I appreciated their developing friendship and banter more than the romance, which kind of felt rushed and tacked on in the end.  But seriously people, the developing relationship was SOLID.  I enjoyed that David wasn’t all sunshine and roses, that he was kind of a difficult character to love, but you could understand him as well, and how he came to be the way he was.  And he didn’t lose all those antagonistic qualities at the end, he was still kind of a dick to people, but you love him anyways.

And Ivy and Ethan were depicted so well.  I mean, I haven’t really had many encounters with folks on the autism spectrum, but I really thought that this was a fantastic representation of some of the unique attributes that can make them up…particularly because they were even different from each other.  And I really enjoyed the conversations that Chloe and David had, and the representations of the encounters they had with different types of people when out with their siblings.  It was heartbreaking, but unfortunately realistic.  And I loved that the story was from the siblings perspective, and showed the different challenges that they can face.  They’re not perfect, but you could really feel their love for their siblings.

Chloe’s mother and stepfather were challenging characters.  I really hated so many things about her stepfather.  He’s not evil, he’s got many shades of gray…in that way he’s really realistic.  And I know we’re seeing him from Chloe’s perspective, but damn he made me mad sometimes.  I’m up in the air with how his role played out in the story…I guess because he really is realistic in that he’s still got these really bad qualities, but he’s not all bad, and he can have some good moments too.  Sometimes I can’t deal with so much real, you know?  It’s so much easier when people are black and white.  In fact, many of the characters in this book are that real…from James and Sarah, to David’s parents, to Chloe’s parents.  I admire it as much as it vexes me as a reader.

OK, I’m getting seriously verbose here.  And I haven’t even talked about everything.  I enjoyed the Ivy twist in the middle of the book…I kind of saw it coming, but I thought it was another piece of diversity that was handled really well.

My only real complaint with the story is that the ending was odd to me.  It just kind of ended.  I didn’t feel that normal story flow, with a solid and clear ending.  And I guess my one other niggle is that occasionally we would encounter scenes that seemed meaningless in the overall scheme of the plot (like a moment in Camp’s class would just happen, and then we’d be onto lunch, and I didn’t really understand the point of it being included).

So basically if you’re looking for a diverse read with a fantastic look at life with someone on the autism spectrum, you NEED this book.  If you just love good YA coming of age tales, I would really recommend it as well.  Despite the few things that niggled me, I really really enjoyed this book and highlighted so many of Chloe and David’s interactions.

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Swinging at Love by Kendra C. Highley

Blurb:
34387362Outfielder Tristan Murrell has a problem. As the number two slugger for the Suttonville Sentinels, his team is counting on him to make their very first run at the state championship. But he has a secret—his swing has totally deserted him. As in, he can’t hit anything. He needs to fix the issue, and fast, but how?

Ballerina Alyssa Kaplan has a problem, too. The shiny new sports complex in town has left her family’s batting cage business on the verge of going under. Nailing her audition for a prestigious dance company is everything, but there’s no way she’s letting her some shiny big-box company destroy her family’s livelihood.

Tristan needs a miracle. So does Alyssa. And maybe, just maybe, Tristan’s secret weapon might be the girl of his dreams…

Disclaimer: This book contains hot, shirtless baseball players, kisses that bring a ballerina to her knees, and a lot of baseball smack-talk.

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

OK, this was a solid next book in the series that I didn’t know was going to be a series!!  And while I’m a little disappointed Faith and Kyle’s BFFs weren’t the focus of this story, Tristan and Alyssa were a pretty freaking spectacular consolation prize.  😉  And no, you don’t have to read book 1, but honestly, why wouldn’t you?  Shoot, I’m not even a baseball fan, or really a big muscular arms on a guy girl, but DAMN.  Ms. Highley knows how to make me swoon.  This is exactly what I love from a young adult romance…a fun quick read, lots of lightness and sweetness and swooning, but with just enough depth to give me more.

I think the thing I love most about both this book and the previous one is the sweetness of the heroes.  Tristan was just adorable!  He didn’t have the same background that Kyle did, but he was just really down to earth, and he knew what attracted him.  He had his own struggles coming from a family with completely different interests to him, and I could really appreciate that aspect to his story.  I liked that while he did feel like the odd man out in his family, his family was still good peeps…just lost in the world of baseball.  It’s an interesting facet that I don’t necessarily read a lot, where you have that dichotomy, but still have the love you know?  Not that that makes it any easier.  It was nice that he had Keller too.

And Alyssa was just awesomesauce.  I loved her sass, her insecurities, her straight talking, her confidence in certain things.  If I swung that way, I would totally be intrigued by her.  And I loved her own family dynamic.  I loved how close she was, how much her family influenced her, and it was nice to see a story where it wasn’t rich guy with poor girl (or vice versa), but there was a money/lifestyle disparity. But it wasn’t really the focus.  It was about how her family was struggling with their local business in an economy that’s hurting everyone.  I loved how important Swing Away was to her, and what she was willing to sacrifice for it.

And oh wow, Tristan and Alyssa’s chemistry was fantastic.  Right from their first interaction, you could just feel it.  I enjoyed that.  I was SERIOUSLY concerned with the way things would play out with Dylan and Lauren, and I was kind of disappointed in how it went initially, but it didn’t drag on like I thought it would, and it resolved better than I expected.  So phew.

And now, this girl who has no interest in baseball whatsoever, is seriously hoping for more from this series.  I love book baseball.  It’s way more exciting.  And I want more swoony guys from Ms. Highley, she seriously excels.

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Conquered by M.A. Wilder

Blurb:
20810385Beckit Wright has survived a string of attempted murders that spans her entire young life. And as Crimson’s attacks grow bolder and bolder, Beckit is faced with the grim reality that safety is no longer a possibility for her loved ones either. As the té-trad’s four members finally come together and Beckit masters her té-trad ability, Beckit is committed to defeating Crimson once and for all. However, the balance between work and her growing family is a precarious one, and she soon finds the cost of her success comes at too high a price. Powerful and gripping, this highly anticipated conclusion to The Té-trad Tale promises an epic ending to the tragic narrative of loss and love that has captured the hearts of readers.

WARNING: This book contains some adult language, violence, and sexual content. Reader and parental discretion is advised.

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My Review:
4 stars — This was a solid conclusion to what turned out to be a very entertaining trilogy!!  I think the strengths of this story lie in their diversity, the rich and varied world the author describes, and the humour mixed with emotion.

This book, like the previous ones, gave me things I both loved and not so much.  It was a bit of an up and down read, but balances in the good (obviously, since I gave it 4 stars).  Since I finished this while on a vacation where I didn’t have my laptop, this review is going to be more terse, since all I could do is send myself bulletpoints to try to remember.  Here goes…

I wasn’t super happy with the way certain conflicts were resolved with very little explanation, it seemed really easy and kind of like a copout.  But then the author did bring it back in the end and gave it more purpose, so I’m not as disappointed as I initially was.  But I still kind of wish that things weren’t resolved in that way.  And yes, I know that’s super vague, but I don’t want to spoil things.

I was disappointed that Aaron suffered from a case of assumptionitis not once but twice…  Once made sense, the second time was annoying and I was disappointed that there wasn’t another reason for the wall.

I loved some of the developments with some of the secondary characters, particularly Ran and Frost.  Thinking back on the series as a whole, I do wish we’d learned more about Frost and his backstory, but since I got some great developments in the Ran and Frost area, I’m still satisfied.  I also really enjoyed all the new creatures that were introduced, both bad and good.  The Tables amused me.  And Era and Hakeem Wyvem were cool, I liked knowing more about those other members of the Té-trad.

Strangely, I didn’t feel quite as much emotion at the first battle with the losses that occurred there, but I liked how it changed the story entirely, and kind of stepped things up a notch.  I just wish that I’d been able to feel those losses more…not sure if it’s because of the way they came about, or just the mood I was in when it occurred.

On the other hand, I felt a LOT of emotion with the final battle and climax, and really felt the sacrifices and desperation.  Like really felt it.  It was so well done.

One of the things that was vexing me at the end of the 2nd book was the lack of development with the overarching plot…like who was Crimson?  What is the Té-trad?  And what is Beckit’s ability?  Thankfully I loved the twists and turns of who Crimson was and other bad guys.  And I was thoroughly satisfied with the way the Té-trad stuff played out, and Beckit’s ability was really rather cool and added some great twists of its own in how the battle would play out.

So yeah, like I said…solid conclusion to a very entertaining series.

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Honored by M.A. Wilder

Blurb:
18912410Beckit Wright thought she would be safe on Traterra. However, she soon discovers that safety is no longer a possibility thanks to a shaky relationship with her new erone and the ever-increasing unrest across the planet. As she confronts issues of love, loyalty, and responsibility, Beckit must do her part to protect Traterra before Crimson stops her once and for all.

WARNING: This book contains some adult language, violence, and sexual content. Reader and parental discretion is advised.

 

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My Review:
4 stars — YAAYYYYY!!!  Much better!!!  I’m not sure if I just got used to it, or if it was really done better (I’m convinced it’s the latter), but the 3rd person felt more limited and less omniscient to me…or else it just wasn’t as jarring.  But really, the majority of it was in Beckit’s head, and I just loved it a lot more.  I was able to stay absorbed in the story.  And I didn’t notice the use of “the human” and “the poh iverstànt” as much.  I’m not sure if they were eliminated, or if I was just so absorbed in the story it didn’t matter, but whatever it was it was MUCH BETTER!!!  And the editing in general was much better, a lot less missed typos…

Holy schnike a lot happens in this book.  Well, a lot of different things.  We have a few strange twists and turns, some villains to play out, and new creatures to meet.  And overall I really enjoyed myself along the ride.  There was tension, and action (some gruesome), and oh the feels!!

Normally I’m not a fan of drawn out romantic drama, but I kind of felt for what Beckit was going through, and her reluctance made sense in terms of her background.  But I did enjoy how that all developed and played out over the story line.  And the steamy scenes fit better somehow, or maybe I’d just accepted them…it’s funny how things that will bug me about a first book just won’t matter as much in later books b/c it’s my choice to continue on, so I just accept that this is the way it’s going to be.

I also really enjoyed that Beckit put Aaron in his place a bit about the jealousy and high-handedness.  *high fives Beckit!*

And the secondary characters are still freaking amazing, and make up a great cast for this story.  And we just ended up with even more in this story, from ones that were constantly present (Xoe, Denzin and Dozen are da freaking bomb), to ones that only appeared for short times (Penn).

And as always, the diversity is still quite present in this book, even adding a little glimpse at transgender as well.  I kind of like that not a lot of time is spent on it, it’s just present.  You know, like real life.

So on the reasons this didn’t make 5 stars, I still feel like some of the plot devices? used felt a bit contrived (the whole tension and action at the end of a chapter that is quickly resolved)…or maybe not contrived, but just not my favourite tactic in writing?  And I was disappointed that more people didn’t clue into what was going on with Beckit and the villain in the first half of the story.  It was sort of explained away with other things occupying her friends minds, but it didn’t feel like enough for me.  And finally, I wish we had learned more about what the heck is going on in the overall plot.  Like who is Crimson?  What is the Té-Trad supposed to be doing?  When is she going to get her abilities?  How in the world is this war going to play out?

But despite those little things, I am so sucked in and already eagerly reading the final book.  And can I just say that the humour is fantastic?  It’s the little bits of levity and sass that really win me over every time.

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The Law of Moses by Amy Harmon

Blurb:
23252517If I tell you right up front, right in the beginning that I lost him, it will be easier for you to bear. You will know it’s coming, and it will hurt. But you’ll be able to prepare.

Someone found him in a laundry basket at the Quick Wash, wrapped in a towel, a few hours old and close to death. They called him Baby Moses when they shared his story on the ten o’clock news – the little baby left in a basket at a dingy Laundromat, born to a crack addict and expected to have all sorts of problems. I imagined the crack baby, Moses, having a giant crack that ran down his body, like he’d been broken at birth. I knew that wasn’t what the term meant, but the image stuck in my mind. Maybe the fact that he was broken drew me to him from the start.

It all happened before I was born, and by the time I met Moses and my mom told me all about him, the story was old news and nobody wanted anything to do with him. People love babies, even sick babies. Even crack babies. But babies grow up to be kids, and kids grow up to be teenagers. Nobody wants a messed up teenager.

And Moses was messed up. Moses was a law unto himself. But he was also strange and exotic and beautiful. To be with him would change my life in ways I could never have imagined. Maybe I should have stayed away. Maybe I should have listened. My mother warned me. Even Moses warned me. But I didn’t stay away.

And so begins a story of pain and promise, of heartache and healing, of life and death. A story of before and after, of new beginnings and never-endings. But most of all…a love story.

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My Review:
4 stars — I’m often loathe to read books that are so highly regarded by so many people, b/c I’m always worried I will be the black sheep.  And I sort of am in a way for this book, in that unlike my friends, this was not a full 5 star read for me.  In fact, part 1 was not super compelling for me.  Ms. Harmon’s writing is really beautiful, but it’s not always my favourite style personally.  It’s really…lyrical?  Or you know, just more formal and literary-like than is usually my bag.  I just end up enjoying more straightforward writing sometimes.  Ms. Harmon is actually one of the few authors that tends to break me from my norm b/c her storylines are just very heartfelt and emotional, and they are worth taking me outside my comfort zone.

I was so glad that a few of my friend’s reviews mentioned that this story had a paranormal aspect, b/c I would have been really surprised otherwise.  Not that I don’t love a paranormal touch, but I hadn’t expected it from this story when I bought it so long ago.  But it was really intriguing, and I loved the way it was woven into the story, and the way it was described.  And how it changed and molded Moses, and how it affected his relationship with Georgia.

So why did Part 1 not compel me?  It was Moses.  He was kind of a dick.  I mean, I could sort of understand why he was the way he was, and I sort of understood how he became that way and why he acted the way he did towards Georgia…but at the same time I needed something to pull me in, and I don’t feel like I got enough from his perspective to really have me give him enough benefit of the doubt.

And Georgia was definitely more interesting of a character, but I couldn’t always understand who she was all the time either.  But I think that’s my failing, not the failing of the book.  I enjoyed how different she was, how spunky and straightforward and how she saw something special in Moses.

I didn’t expect all the different aspects to the story…not just the paranormal aspect, but the mystery as well.  And while I could see that the mystery was going to come into play, I can say that I didn’t predict the outcome to that at all.  And while I knew this book was going to slay me, I don’t think I knew in quite what way and so it still really got me.  I’m definitely glad I packed my pockets full of kleenexes for the end of this story, b/c I used them all.

So in the end it was part 2 that really made this book for me.  It was full of heartache and beauty and growth and just sucked me in and made me feel and gave me exactly what I was looking for.  And now I’m definitely going to have to read Running Barefoot.  Super intrigued.  And that’s my distracted review.

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Hooked on Trouble by Kelly Siskind

Blurb:

31359036Reality bites. Hard.

The last time Raven did “real” was sixteen months ago, when she spent one unforgettable night with the tattooed, impossibly sexy Nico, and then he disappeared the next day. Since then, she’s kept her guard up and her feelings to herself. She doesn’t have time for relationship drama when she’s busy searching for her long lost sister.

Nico hasn’t stopped thinking about Raven—her sultry curves, inked skin, or the fact that he ditched her after their night together. Now that they’re living in the same city, he knows this is his chance to make things right. What better way to prove to Raven he’s for real than helping her find her sister? But when the lines between right and wrong start to blur, putting his job on the line, Nico has to decide if the risk is worth the ultimate reward.

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

This review is going to suffer b/c I wasn’t able to immerse myself in this book like I normally would…it actually took me an unprecedented week to read, and it had NOTHING to do with the story.  But as such, I don’t have my thoughts all nicely gathered as I normally do.  So bear with me.

I find I’m really loving Ms. Siskind’s writing and characters.  While I’ve only read book 2 in this series of hers, I still feel like I can say that with confidence.  What’s funny to me is that I just finished reading my review for that book, and I gave it the same number of stars, but it wasn’t because I was as in love with Nico as I was with Sawyer.  I just enjoyed the story, and thought it was a solid romance with a lot of depth, and flawed characters that seem to grow over the course of the book.  There were little things that left me a bit unsatisfied, but nothing egregious, you know?  So it’s kind of funny to give it the same star rating, but for this one it was just an overall feel, whereas for book 2 it was a balance of one amazing character and one meh character.  Annnnndddd you really didn’t want to hear all that, did you?

ANYWAYS.  So both Nico and Raven were actually super cool characters, but in kind of opposite ways.  They are both so damaged by troubling childhoods, but it shaped them into completely different individuals.  But I kind of still understood what drew them to each other.  It’s like they balanced each other off, you know?  Raven is kind of jaded, and edgy, and standoffish, and not exactly a rule follower.  Whereas Nico is very soft, and gentle, and goes all in, and is ALL ABOUT THE RULES.  They’re sort of extremes on their own.  And it was interesting to see how that all kind of clashes and results in the ultimate climax of their relationship.  I wasn’t expecting it, and yet looking back I kind of should have, you know?  I was initially a bit put off by both of their mistakes, but in the end I was happy with how it played out…it felt true to both of their characters, even if it made me temporarily mad at them.  But it made the learning feel more authentic I guess.  Like neither changed, but they both learned to compromise.  Nicely done Ms. Siskind, props.

I will say that although I enjoyed their banter, I did miss the lightheartedness that came with Sawyer’s ridiculous personality.  That boy shone even in this book in his little appearances.  I LOVED seeing the group all together, they really made me laugh and I wished they really existed somewhere out in the world.  That epilogue was basically ALL OF THE THINGS.  And now I want to read book one even more, I need to figure out how to squeeze it in.  *SIGH*

So yeah, solid final book in the series.  Dealt with some difficult issues on both their ends, but in the end I was missing falling deeply in love with the MCs to really push it over the top (*groan* pun not intended) for me.  Will be watching for more from Ms. Siskind in the future, especially since she gives good Canadianness.

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Storm Warrior (Grim #1) by Dani Harper

17899157Blurb: Enslaved for millennia by the masters of the Welsh faery realm, the fierce Celtic warrior Rhys is doomed to wander the earth forever. But when a brave beauty unwittingly breaks the enchantment, he is drawn into a strange new world…and an all-consuming desire.

Sensible Morgan doesn’t believe in magic—until a mysterious being saves her from a fate worse than death, and life as she knows it changes forever. Now the man of her dreams has become flesh and blood, igniting a spark in Morgan’s soul which science cannot explain. But even a love that transcends time may not be strong enough to withstand the power of an ancient curse.

From the best-selling author of Changeling Moon, this stirring novel of passion and magic launches an addictive new series for fans of paranormal romance.

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4 stars

This story started out great, then it slowed down a bit, then it picked up, then…you get the idea.  I had a hard time with the ebb and flow of the pacing TBH.  I generally have found that the books I read are pretty consistent in their pacing so this one threw me off.

Rhys is a strong, typical welsh/celtic warrior.  I wasn’t too impressed with him except for his assimilation into the current culture.  Jay and Starr were happy hippies who loved their hobbies and were very supportive of Morgan.  Almost like older siblings. Leo was my favorite supporting character.  He was funny, straight to the point and I liked how he wasn’t the same age as the MC.  It gave the story a little more non-linear feel to it if that makes sense.

I found Morgan to be a bit confusing because the author kept referencing her love of her grandmothers fairy tale/myth stories yet she refused to believe that they could be true.  Then the major epiphany came across to me as a bit melodramatic.  Even the climax seemed a bit of a let down.  Her inner conflict seemed very important to her, yet it all seemed to fall away once the physical attraction came into play.   I will say I loved how she tried to always protect herself and doesn’t expect others to step in.

I did enjoy the story, character flaws notwithstanding.  I don’t think I will be reading the rest of the series anytime soon though.  I got everything I wanted out of this story and have no desire to continue in this world.  Maybe that could change in the future, but for now I need to focus on the series I have to finish before I go deeper into another one.

I received this book from the Kindle for Samsung app on my phone.  I get some great books from there.  Who turns down a free book a month?  Crazy people, that’s who.

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A Matter of Grave Concern by Brenda Novak

a-matter-of-grave-concernBlurb: When Maximillian Wilder hides his noble identity and joins the notorious body snatchers known as the London Supply Company, the last thing on his mind is love. He’s worried about Madeline, his vanished half sister, who was last seen in the company of Jack Hurtsill, the gang’s conscienceless leader. Raiding graveyards, stealing corpses, and selling them to medical colleges as dissection material is dirty work, but Max knows he must gain Jack’s trust. He’s determined to find out what happened to Madeline—and to bring Jack to justice if she was murdered for the coin her body could earn.

Beautiful, spirited Abigail Hale, daughter of the surgeon at Aldersgate School of Medicine, detests the challenging, hard-bargaining Max almost as much as Jack. But she must procure the necessary specimens if she is to save the college and her father’s career. She believes she is going to be successful—until Jack double-crosses her. Then she’s swept into a plot of danger and intrigue, one where Max must intervene to protect her, no matter the risk to his plan…or his heart.

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4 stars

This book was a great mystery/love/historical that made really sucked my in and made me believe it.

The chemistry was amazing!  The restraint and passion they both showed had a wonderful ebb and flow. It really gave this mystery a deeper layer that I enjoyed very much.  I suppose I should have been concerned with the fact that Abigail clearly suffered from Stockholm Syndrome but it was written so well that I couldn’t have cared less.

Abigail was a feminist during a time when it wasn’t socially accepted to be.  Her desire to prove herself was (I think) a driving force behind most of her actions.  That and her need to be treated equally.  And Max was pretty supportive of her for the most part.  He didn’t shy away from treating her differently than the men, for example the vulgar language he used around her wasn’t held back.  It was pretty funny to hear Abigail throw the same words back at him as if she spoke that way all the time.  Her manner was very clinical and came of as funny from an outsider.  But Max was there whenever she was unable to defend herself properly.  It was a nice combo.

The mystery was great and pretty intricate.  The author clearly didn’t hold back in any aspect of her story telling.  Sometimes you will see that one aspect is emphasized more in a novel but this one had equal billing between the love story and the mystery.

The only thing I will say kinda bothered me was the ending.  Without giving anything away I felt the ending was a bit melodramatic.  It would have read just fine without the added drama.  But that’s such a small part of the story as to barely tweak my radar.

I received this book from Kindle for Samsung‘s app.  Kindle for Samsung is a free reading app designed exclusively for Samsung customers. It gives customers a free eBook every month through Samsung Book Deals.

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Hard Hitter by Sarina Bowen

Blurb:

30307297From the USA Today bestselling author of Rookie Move comes the second novel in the series that’s hot enough to melt the ice.

 
He’s a fighter in the rink, but he’s about to learn that playing nice can help you score…
 
As team captain and enforcer, Patrick O’Doul puts the bruise in the Brooklyn Bruisers. But after years of hard hits, O’Doul is feeling the burn, both physically and mentally. He conceals his pain from his coach and trainers, but when his chronic hip injury becomes too obvious to ignore, they send him for sessions with the team’s massage therapist.

After breaking up with her long-term boyfriend, Ari Bettini is in need of peace of mind. For now, she’s decided to focus on her work: rehabilitating the Bruisers’ MVP. O’Doul is easy on the eyes, but his reaction to her touch is ice cold. Ari is determined to help O’Doul heal, but as the tension between them turns red hot, they both learn that a little TLC does the body good…

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

This was a solid followup book in this series!!  I’m still anxious to find out what’s going on with Nate and Becca, but I actually really loved Ari and Patrick’s love story.  I probably would have enjoyed it even more if I had more dedicated time to read it, and wasn’t constantly interrupted…a bookworm’s nightmare, am I right?

I think I’d read a teaser for this one at the end of the first book, and for some reason I thought there would be something more specifically devastating in O’Doul’s past, particularly with his dislike of being touched.  So often that screams of abuse that’s more than just physical.  So I kind of kept waiting for that to be revealed at the beginning, but then I figured out it wasn’t quite that.  But in the end his dislike of being touched wasn’t really explored in any great detail, and while I was a bit disappointed to not delve into his past, it was kind of interesting that it wasn’t given specifics, b/c sometimes people can’t explain why they feel like that, just that that’s the way life has shaped them, you know?  It’s not always sexual abuse or something like that.  And sometimes sexual abuse trumps the horrors of just plain physical abuse.  Not sure if I’m making sense.  Basically I was conflicted about the amount of background we got on Patrick.  I’m a background kind of girl, so I can always dive in for more.  🙂

I really enjoyed the depth we did get on how Patrick felt being the enforcer.  I’m not sure if Ms. Bowen interviewed some enforcers to get their thoughts on their role, but I was fascinated to see the dread he felt, but also how he felt it was so important to his career.  I’m not big into the hockey fights myself, and must say I agree with Nate: I sincerely hope they are going out of style.  There’s just too much danger in them for the benefits we get out of them.

Ari was an intriguing heroine for me.  I loved how she was a bit of a contradiction with her yogi lifestyle, but her inability to give herself a break for some of the mistakes she made in the past.  But I thought she grew over the course of the book, and it was believable for me.  I loved seeing her friendships develop with Becca and Georgia as well.

For those who are a fan of the Ivy Years series, there were some awesome glimpses of past characters in this one…some just tiny, but it was nice all the same.

Patrick and Ari had some great chemistry as well, I was definitely enjoying both the steamy moments, and Patrick’s sweet attempts to woo her.  That moment when he enlists the help of his fellow players had me just laughing.  Loved it.

My one complaint would be with how what could have been a major obstacle in their relationship was sort of left to the epilogue and then just resolved super quickly.  It was almost like the author forgot about it, and had to do something with it at the end.  Not super impressed with that.  Also, what happened in the playoffs??  You can’t just have a count down for the chapter headers for the whole book and then bam, 3 months later…bit cheesed.

All in all really enjoying this series, and the romance in this one was top notch.  And I totally called Beacon having the next book!  But his heroine surprised me, even though it shouldn’t!  Can’t wait for more in this series.

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