Unhinged by A.G. Howard {Review}

Unhinged by A.G. Howard {Review}Title: Unhinged
Author: A.G. Howard
Series: Splintered #2
Publisher: Amulet on January 7th 2014
Format: Paperback, 387 pages
Source: Traveling ARC
4 Stars
The sum up

This is a solid follow-up to Splintered. I really enjoyed it, and it left me eager for the next book in the series.

Summary

Alyssa Gardner has been down the rabbit hole and faced the bandersnatch. She saved the life of Jeb, the guy she loves, and escaped the machinations of the disturbingly seductive Morpheus and the vindictive Queen Red. Now all she has to do is graduate high school and make it through prom so she can attend the prestigious art school in London she’s always dreamed of.

That would be easier without her mother, freshly released from an asylum, acting overly protective and suspicious. And it would be much simpler if the mysterious Morpheus didn’t show up for school one day to tempt her with another dangerous quest in the dark, challenging Wonderland—where she (partly) belongs.

As prom and graduation creep closer, Alyssa juggles Morpheus’s unsettling presence in her real world with trying to tell Jeb the truth about a past he’s forgotten. Glimpses of Wonderland start to bleed through her art and into her world in very disturbing ways, and Morpheus warns that Queen Red won’t be far behind.

If Alyssa stays in the human realm, she could endanger Jeb, her parents, and everyone she loves. But if she steps through the rabbit hole again, she’ll face a deadly battle that could cost more than just her head.

My thoughts

Alyssa is glad to be back to her normal life. Her mom is home from the asylum, and even though she’s gone overboard on the mothering thing, Alyssa’s still glad to have her back. She and Jeb are getting along great, and he’s forgotten all about Wonderland and everything that happened there. When Morpheus starts appearing, telling Alyssa she must come back to Wonderland and defeat Queen Red once and for all, it’s annoying at first. But then he gets more insistent, and signs of Queen Red start appearing in the human world.

I liked the growth that Alyssa showed from the previous book, with her mother, Jeb and even Morpheus. She has become stronger and more secure in herself, and what she wants. Jeb was just your average nice guy, but he was ignorant of Wonderland, so it’s hard to hold that against him. He did the best he could with Alyssa, without knowing her whole story. Luckily he had the chance to flex his personality quite a bit in the second half of the story, and I liked seeing that new aspect in him. Morpheus again appeared selfish, but you could see how he really cared for his world. He didn’t want anything to happen to it, or the creatures in it.

There was more romance in this book than the previous one. I struggled to find the chemistry between Jeb and Alyssa, though there was one particular scene near the end that was so fantastic, I might even suggest you read the book just for it. I’ve never been a fan of Morpheus as a romantic interest for Alyssa, but we learned more about him in the book, and some of the reasons behind his motivations. And if you’re a fan of the love triangle, you’ll be pleased with this one.

Howard continues with her gift of making even the craziest scene or setting so realistic, they’re easy to picture. The blood artwork, the spider-like Queen Red, the bony Rabid White, the talking flowers, all of it is rendered so descriptively, it’s amazing. The scary scenes are very scary, and I may have even gasped a time or two.

About the author


A.G. Howard was inspired to write SPLINTERED while working at a school library. Her pastimes are reading, rollerblading, gardening, and family vacations which often include impromptu side trips to 18th century graveyards or condemned schoolhouses to appease her overactive muse.

Her debut YA fantasy, SPLINTERED, a dark Alice in Wonderland spinoff, is now available from Amulet Books. The sequel, UNHINGED, is due to launch January 2014.

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Wild Cards by Simone Elkeles {Review}

Wild Cards by Simone Elkeles {Review}Title: Wild Cards
Author: Simone Elkeles
Series: Wild Cards #1
Publisher: Walker Books for Young Readers on October 1, 2013
Format: Paperback, 342 pages
Source: Book Divas
3 Stars
Summary

After getting kicked out of boarding school, bad boy Derek Fitzpatrick has no choice but to live with his ditzy stepmother while his military dad is deployed. Things quickly go from bad to worse when he finds out she plans to move them back to her childhood home in Illinois. Derek’s counting the days before he can be on his own, and the last thing he needs is to get involved with someone else’s family drama.

Ashtyn Parker knows one thing for certain–people you care about leave without a backward glance. A football scholarship would finally give her the chance to leave. So she pours everything into winning a state championship, until her boyfriend and star quarterback betrays them all by joining their rival team. Ashtyn needs a new game plan, but it requires trusting Derek—someone she barely knows, someone born to break the rules. Is she willing to put her heart on the line to try and win it all?

My thoughts

Derek played an (awesome!) prank at graduation and ended up getting kicked out of his exclusive private school as a result. Since his dad’s away on deployment, his young stepmother takes Derek and moves back home with her father and younger sister. The younger sister just happens to be a cute teenage football all-star who drives Derek nuts.

I liked both of the main characters, they were fully fleshed-out, though Derek was by far my favorite. I’m not sure why, but Ashtyn seemed to grate on my nerves a bit. Derek was a cutie, though he had some attitude. I felt sorry for him; missing his father, getting kicked out of school and having to move to a new place all at the same time. Ashtyn had the advantage, she was on her home turf. Her boyfriend didn’t seem like a very good person. He was cute, popular and a good ball player, but he just didn’t seem very nice, even before he turned into a real ass.

Derek and Ashtyn had chemistry and it was delicious, but it took too long for them to finally get together. By the time it happened, I felt like the chemistry was gone and I was barely interested in them as a couple anymore. I liked the snarky attitudes they both had, I find that sort of thing highly entertaining.

I kind of look at this book as split into two halves: the first half had no real purpose, other than introducing us to Derek and Ashtyn and having them not get along. More “stuff” happened in the second half of the book, but it seemed to be missing the spark or personality that the first half had. It also felt rushed; the first half was slow and steady, but the second half zoomed to the conclusion. (Also of note, I spotted at least three typos in the last third of the book.)

Speaking of the conclusion, I was disappointed. Everything was solved nice and neat, and a little too quick. One of the characters was acting like a complete douchcanoe throughout the entire story, then simply turned into a nice (even helpful) person with no warning or reasoning.

Simone Elkeles can definitely write, and she perfectly captures the angst and everyday drama that teens experience. One of her specialties is the switching point of views, between the male and female characters, and she does a fabulous job of it. I tend to like a female main character, just because I can relate to a female better than a male, but Simone makes it easy to get in the male’s head and appreciate their point of view.

The sum up

Great first half and a so-so second half equal a 3-owl read. I disliked some parts but found it overall enjoyable.

About the author

Simone was born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago, where she still lives today. Simone went to the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign and received her Bachelor’s of Science there in Psychology in 1992. She continued her education at Loyola University-Chicago where she received her Master’s of Science degree in Industrial Relations while working for a manufacturing company creating diversity programs for their employees.

She loves animals (she has two dogs – a labradoodle and a German Shepherd), kids (she also has two of those) and her family. In her spare time she’s the Hockey Mom for her kids hockey teams and is an active Girl Scout leader specially trained in outdoor education. She also spends time mentoring other teen and adult authors. (She also loves sushi, which you can probably tell by reading her books.) Simone writes about teens because she was a teen in the 80’s (when spiked hair and blue eye shadow were “rad”) and she loves writing about those exciting teen relationships and romances.

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Endless by Jessica Shirvington {Review}

Endless by Jessica Shirvington {Review}Title: Endless
Author: Jessica Shirvington
Series: The Violet Eden Chapters #4
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire on October 1st 2013
Format: eARC, 480 pages
Source: Publisher
5 Stars
Summary

LOVE WILL KILL US ALL

Violet Eden thought she was getting things under control. Then all hell breaks loose—literally. In the war between angels and exiles, she’s about to face the biggest baddie of all time. Except she’s not nearly ready.

The dark exile Phoenix is still messing with her head—not to mention her heart. And her undeniable attraction to Lincoln has gotten downright dangerous. When Hell unleashes its worst, Violet must embrace every facet of her angel self to save the people she cares about and the world as she knows it. But death is not the worst thing she will face…

My thoughts * Beware of spoilers for the previous books *

Endless picks up shortly after the conclusion of Emblaze, with Violet’s mother back from the dead, her dad unconscious (from a punch to the face by her mother!) and Lincoln having finally admitted he cares for her. Of course, it’s not all chocolate and roses now. The bad guys have just resurrected the baddest of them all for an as-yet-unknown evil plan, Phoenix still has a mental hold over Violet and The Academy has taken a strong interest in Violet and her fellow Grigori.

I really loved all the characters in this book. Violet was even stronger this go-round. Not only could she kick ass and take names, but she could handle disappointments and just generally rise above the petty stuff that would have upset her in the past. Lincoln was finally over the whole secretive crap and totally upfront about his feelings, which was a nice change of pace. We learned a lot more about Phoenix and got to see his personality, emotions and the reasons behind his behaviors. And dare I say, I actually felt sorry for him by the time all was said and done.

We got to know Violet’s dad and mom, plus witness their interactions with each other. (Remember, until now, he thought she was dead.) Unfortunately, they didn’t have a lot of time to get to rehash the past and do some explaining; a Grigori’s work is never done. Violet’s bestie, Steph, was back and again playing a part in the story. Onyx was still there, causing trouble wherever he could, and Dapper, trying hard to avoid it. There were a lot of new characters involved, especially as Violet and the gang spent an extended period of time in the Grigori Academy. Speaking of the Academy, Violet took some classes about the history of the Grigori, but sadly we weren’t privy to what she learned. I would have liked to know more.

Violet and Lincoln had amazing chemistry, made all the more poignant by the fact that they were soul mates who couldn’t be together. If they were to truly be together (i.e. get it on), it would have joined their souls forever. Then, if one were to die, the other’s soul would literally shatter. So in order to protect the other, they both agreed to hold off on the sexy times. You can imagine all the lip biting sexual tension that might ensue.

The dialogue was just as ironic as the previous books. Violet had a tendency to get a little snarky when the mood struck her. And Lincoln was getting better at responding in kind. Phoenix still liked to say exactly what he knew would rile someone up. All of it added up to highly entertaining conversations.

Jessica Shirvington creates wonderful fantasy worlds that exist within our own world. The mythology, language, even the buildings people visit, were vividly described and I could picture it all. The fights were exciting, the sexy times were very sexy (though not too graphic), the sarcasm was funny and the sad parts made me tear up.

The end of the book finished with not quite a cliffhnager, but not quite a resolution. Somewhere in between. I am anxious to pick up the final book [DON'T click that link unless you've already read books 1-4.] and see how everything shakes out.

The sum up

This is my favorite book of the series and I don’t see how the final one can top it. But I’ll be first in line to find out!

About the author

Jessica Shirvington is the author of THE VIOLET EDEN CHAPTERS also known as THE EMBRACE SERIES, and stand alone novel, BETWEEN THE LIVES. An entrepreneur, author, and mother living in Sydney, Australia, Jessica is also a 2011 finalist for Cosmopolitan’s annual Fun, Fearless Female Award. She’s also one of the lucky few who met the love of her life at age seventeen: Matt Shirvington, a former Olympian and current sports broadcaster for FOXTEL and Sky News. Married for twelve years with two beautiful daughters, Sienna and Winter, Jessica knows her early age romance and its longevity has definitely contributed to how she tackles relationships in her YA novels.

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The Liberator by Victoria Scott {Review + Giveaway}

The Liberator by Victoria Scott {Review + Giveaway}Title: The Liberator
Author: Victoria Scott
Series: The Collector #2
Publisher: Entangled Teen on August 27th 2013
Format: eARC, 350 pages
Source: Publisher
5 Stars
Summary

Dante has a shiny new cuff wrapped around his ankle, and he doesn’t like that mess one bit. His new accessory comes straight from Big Guy himself and marks the former demon as a liberator. Despite his gritty past and bad boy ways, Dante Walker has been granted a second chance.

When Dante is given his first mission as a liberator to save the soul of seventeen-year-old Aspen, he knows he’s got this. But Aspen reminds him of the rebellious life he used to live and is making it difficult to resist sinful temptations. Though Dante is committed to living clean for his girlfriend Charlie, this dude’s been a playboy for far too long…and old demons die hard.

With Charlie becoming the girl she was never able to be pre-makeover and Aspen showing him how delicious it feels to embrace his inner beast, Dante will have to go somewhere he never thought he’d return to in order to accomplish the impossible: save the girl he’s been assigned to, and keep the girl he loves.

My thoughts

Oh, Dante. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. You’re a badass, you’re an undercover softy, you’re crazy protective of your friends, girlfriend and even her friends and family, you’re sexy and you know it, you know how to party, you dress to impress, you appreciate the finer things in life, you’re a sarcastic smartass, you have a secretly tortured soul, you’re head over heels in love with a good girl. Oh, and you’re a totes hottie.

I absolutely LOVED Dante in The Collector, and he made me fall for him even more in this one. He was still the same guy, just in love. And while the sappiness was a little overwhelming at times (find your balls already, Dante), he still had the same basic attitude about him. Even with the cuff that meant he had to save souls instead of stealing them, he still felt like the demon he used to be. That created serious conflicts of interest for him, which was where the tension between he and Charlie mostly came from.

Charlie was back and just as good as ever. She’d grown up a bit and was more mature, which I liked. She had much more on her shoulders, what with being the one who will bring 100 years of peace to the world and all. Annabelle was back and just as sassy as before. She had more of a presence in this story, though it was mostly comic relief and to rein in Charlie when needed.

Aspen, truly the focus of the novel, had some serious issues, and she had a helluva wall up, preventing anyone from getting too close. It was so nice to see Dante get close to Aspen and become her friend. What Aspen needed was a true friend, and Dante was that for her. (For those of you worried about a love triangle with the new female, don’t be. Victoria herself announced that wasn’t where they were headed. I was glad to hear that. I like a good triangle, but Dante belongs with Charlie.) All of the same supporting characters were back, and a few new faces popped up.

There was a lot of action in this one, both actual fighting and in the training room. There were a ton of tense moments and once or twice I just knew it was going to end badly.

One of my favorite things in The Liberator was finally seeing hell.
One of my favorite things in The Liberator was finally seeing hell. We got a pretty complete tour, starting with where it was and how to get inside. Incredibly detailed and so creepy.

There was some lovin’ going on, but it was romantic and sweet without anything graphic. It might have been nice, though, to have some sexy time details with Dante… Just sayin’.

There were unanswered questions, which was frustrating, but Victoria Scott writes crazy fast, so hopefully it won’t be too long before we find out the answers. The ending was a quasi-cliffhanger; enough to make you worried, but not enough to drive you crazy. A nice compromise.

I can be specific and continue to point out all the great and wonderful things about Dante and this book, but I’m going to stop here and just say this: READ THE BOOKS.

The sum up

Sexy bad boy tries to mend his ways. Good times ensue.

About the author

Victoria Scott is a teen fiction writer represented by Sara Crowe. She’s the author of THE COLLECTOR trilogy (Entangled Teen) and the FIRE & FLOOD series (Scholastic). Victoria lives in Dallas with her husband and hearts cotton candy something fierce.

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Review: The Collector by Victoria Scott

Title: The Collector
Author: Victoria Scott
Publisher: April 2nd 2013 by Entangled Teen
Format: Paperback, 352 pages
Source: Publisher
Series: The Collector | The Liberator | The Warrior

5 owl rating

Summary

He makes good girls…bad.

Dante Walker is flippin’ awesome, and he knows it. His good looks, killer charm, and stellar confidence have made him one of hell’s best—a soul collector. His job is simple: weed through humanity and label those round rears with a big red good or bad stamp. Old Saint Nick gets the good guys, and he gets the fun ones. Bag-and-tag.

Sealing souls is nothing personal. Dante’s an equal-opportunity collector and doesn’t want it any other way. But he’ll have to adjust, because Boss Man has given him a new assignment:

Collect Charlie Cooper’s soul within ten days.

Dante doesn’t know why Boss Man wants Charlie, nor does he care. This assignment means only one thing to him, and that’s a permanent ticket out of hell. But after Dante meets the quirky Nerd Alert chick he’s come to collect, he realizes this assignment will test his abilities as a collector…and uncover emotions deeply buried.

My thoughts

Dante has been a Collector for 2 years; he jaunts around town minding his own business, and when he sees someone committing a sin (or just being a jerk), he gives them a “tag,” a black square that sticks on their soul. Once someone’s soul is completely covered in black squares, it can be collected. They continue to live normally, but after their death, they head downstairs. Dante’s tired of having to go back to hell when his collections are done, and this latest mission comes with a nice promotion: a permanent home on earth from which to supervise other Collectors. But his last collection, Charlie, is not making things very easy.

If there’s anything I can say now to sum up my thoughts on this book, allow me to show you the very articulate message I sent the author, Victoria Scott:

The characters were so different! Dante was a cocky, uncaring asshat. He was very confident in his abilities and in his looks. He was good at his job, and he knew that part of it was the effect he had on women. He knew he looked good and he enjoyed spending money to keep himself in the high life. I’m the first to admit I like the sweet boy next door much more than the bad boy, but Dante had my heart from the beginning. I’m not sure why that was, maybe I saw something in him before anyone else did, or maybe because he was so good at being bad. At any rate, I loved him from the get-go.

Charlie was a spectacular person, pretty much the girl we should all be. She was not traditionally pretty, but she was beautiful on the inside. She was kind, thoughtful and selfless. Even when someone made fun of or bullied her, she still managed to be happy at something as simple as the weather. The secondary characters were just as entertaining; Charlie’s 2 besties and Dante’s fellow Collector bestie, who was almost as arrogant as Dante.

A lot of times in the bad boy/good girl type of stories, you don’t often get the bad boy point of view, so I loved getting Dante’s POV as he changed from an egotistical self-centered badass into something else. It took him a while to understand what was going on, and he fought it mightily, which only made me like him even more. And Charlie was content with being his friend. There was no flirting or insta-love.

I loved lots of little things: the dialogue, the way Dante always said what he was thinking, the way Charlie always managed to see the bright side of things, the way Max stood by Dante and even seemed to look up to him, Blue’s (not so) secret love for Charlie, the incredibly slow way Dante figured out what was happening, Valery’s no-nonsense approach… All of it added up to one big ball of amazing entertainment.

The story started out with a bang, as we’re introduced to arrogant Dante, then Scott’s writing just drew me in and kept me hanging on until the end. There was a touch of religious talk, but it wasn’t overwhelming. There was a bit of mystery, as Dante wondered what was so important about Charlie, why his boss wanted the soul so badly. Will he manage to collect her soul? Will Blue finally tell Charlie how he feels? There wasn’t any sex, but there was passion and romance. And also, lots of cussing. Definitely not a book for the kids (though there were a few nice life lessons hidden in there).

The sum up

If you like your bad boys very bad, this book is for you. And, this is probably only the third time this has ever happened, even though I’ve already read the eARC, I will also be purchasing the paperback copy. I need Dante on my bookshelf.

 

About the author


Victoria Scott is a teen fiction writer represented by Sara Crowe. She’s the author of THE COLLECTOR trilogy (Entangled Teen) and the FIRE & FLOOD series (Scholastic). Victoria lives in Dallas with her husband and hearts cotton candy something fierce.

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Review + Giveaway: Drowning in You by Rebecca Berto

Title: Drowning In You
Author: Rebecca Berto
Publisher: April 5th 2013 by author
Format: Paperback, 316 pages
Source: XPresso Book Tours
Series: Drowning in You | Finding Forever in Us
3 owls

Summary

Secretly crushing

Crushed by a tragedy

Charlee May’s been crushing on Dexter Hollingworth since she was fifteen. Five years later, a horrific skiing disaster at Mason’s Ski Lift Resort leaves her millionaire dad critically injured and her mom dead at the hands of Dexter operating the lifts. Charlee is suddenly the sole caretaker for her little brother while their world falls apart.

Dexter couldn’t be more different from Charlee. He’s tattooed, avoids exclusive relationships and his Dad has a fair share of illegal dealings. With Dexter’s reputation, almost everyone believes he planned the Mason’s skiing disaster.

And after all these years he’s still crushing on Charlee May, the girl who’s too good for him.

When this cruel twist of fate ties Charlee’s family and Dexter’s reputation together, Charlee and Dexter wonder if their feelings are reciprocated, while Dexter discovers his dad is trying to steal the May’s millionaire fortune.

But like an addiction, one look, one touch, one taste—they’re hooked no matter the consequences.

My thoughts

Charlee just lost her mom and her dad is clinging to life, thanks to an accident at a ski resort, where her long-time crush just happened to be working the ski lift that failed. She tries to be strong for her little brother, but she’s finding it harder and harder, especially as her dad starts to talk about his death like it’s coming any minute. Dexter feels terrible about his part in the accident, but doesn’t let that stop him from finally making a move on his long-time crush.

Dexter was a typical bad boy – tatted man-whore with a hidden gentle soul. Everyone thought he was a druggie, but really, he just had a problem maintaining his diabetes, and his hypoglycemic episodes made everyone think he was high. He had a close relationship with his mother, a nurse who was caring for Charlee’s dad, but his dad was an asshat who he didn’t get along with. We never got to know Charlee before the accident, so I can’t say a lot about her personality, but she seemed like a fairly strong person with a good head on her shoulders. Her little brother was a very mature 10-year old, and I liked his character quite a bit.

The plot was an interesting one; can someone person love the person who’s responsible for their parent’s death? And can the person responsible move past the guilt to love the other? It was presented realistically, though I did have a few issues with it overall. We didn’t learn the details of the ski lift accident right away, and I felt the story would have benefited from having this information at the same time as everyone else. People were blaming Dexter for the accident but I kept wondering why.

Every other chapter or so was told in alternating point of views, which was nice. I always like being right in the head of the characters. It makes it easier to understand them and their motivations. The dialogue was kind of choppy, with incomplete thoughts. Actually, the entire thing was choppy and jumpy. In fact, the one thing I kept thinking was how frantic everything was. Not the story itself, but the way people spoke and acted. It lacked a smoothness and finesse.

There’s a sadness (obviously) with Charlee’s mother’s death, and her father’s declining health, and usually it was handled realistically. But I also felt some of it was rushed or just glossed over. There was one part I loved though, when Charlee was coming on to Dexter and he recognized it was her pain speaking, not her, and he handled it so beautifully. That really showed how mature he was, and made me think maybe he did deserve her after all.

This shows on Goodreads as the first book in a series, but I don’t see where the story can go from here, and unless the plot is a fantastic one, I probably won’t check it out.

The sum up

An entertaining and somewhat realistic look at sadness and hope.

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Review: Friends and Lovers Trilogy by Bethany Lopez

Title: Friends and Lovers Trilogy – Make It Last | I Choose You | Trust In Me
Author: Bethany Lopez
Publisher: CreateSpace
Format: Kindle Edition, about 584 pages
Source: AToMR Tours
Overall Trilogy Rating:
3 owls

Make It Last

 
In a small town, it’s hard to recover from being dumped by your high school sweetheart. That’s just what Briana has to do after Colin leaves her to follow his dreams. She focuses her energy into her friendships and the pursuit of her own goal of becoming a chef. Just when she finally feels like she’s on the right path, he comes back to town.

Colin knew breaking up with Briana before leaving for college was the right thing to do. He was determined to leave small-town life behind forever, and that included his high school girlfriend. But when a sports injury puts him on the sidelines, he’s forced to return home. Seeing Briana again brings back a lot of memories, and Colin wonders if he made the right decision. It doesn’t take long for him to realize he wants her back, and this time, he wants to make it last.

I Choose You


Up until now, Nicole’s life has been mapped out for her. She’d go to college, marry Jake and become the upstanding minister’s wife. When she leaves that life to begin again in a small town in Texas, she finally has the freedom to live as she chooses. There, she meets Kent, a guy whose charm and passion make it hard to stick to her morals.

Dodging his father’s fists and protecting his twin sister made Kent into the man he is today. He learned by watching his mother stay by his father’s side that it’s better to keep relationships simple. Then he meets Nicole. Her sweet smile and genuine response to him land like punches to his resolve. After a lifetime of learning to protect his heart, can he finally let down his guard?

Trust In Me


Roni’s dreams of becoming a contemporary dancer were smashed under the brutal rage of her ex-husband’s fists. Getting divorced and starting over at the age of twenty-two was never her plan, but maybe in Texas, she’ll find her path. When the town’s local player, Rich, opens a Rec Center, she sees a way to rekindle her dancing dreams…and maybe have a little fun with her sexy new boss.

Rich never expected to fulfill his dreams in the town he planned to leave behind, but that’s just what he’s doing. His reputation as a noncommittal ladies’ man might make it challenging to earn respect in the business world, but he’s willing to prove that he’s serious. In fact, when it comes to pursuing Roni, he’s more than willing. But she’s taking a page out of his book, not wanting to risk another relationship. Can he convince her that his playboy days are over and that she can trust him with her heart?

My thoughts

Rather than talk about each novella in the trilogy, I’m going to do the whole shebang at once.

The first novella was probably my least favorite. It lacked any conflict at all. The couple broke up in the very beginning, there was some heartache, fast forward a few years, a few awkward scenes, then bam, they’re back together. That all happened in probably the first third of the story, the rest of it was spent following them around as they flirted, talked and made out. That was it. That made for a bit of a boring story, with no action, tension or excitement. The rest of the novellas, though, had more content to keep me interested.

I liked the variety of characters. There were rich kids and poor kids, abused kids and privileged kids, nice kids and asshats. You knew from the beginning of each story how it would all end for everyone, no real surprises there. Some of the situations they found themselves in, however, were unbelievable: Briana forgave Colin awfully fast; for someone so virginal, Nicole got naughty pretty quickly; Rich’s Rec Center was just too perfect a solution…

There were some deep situations the characters got into that were handled nicely, although they were resolved a little too quickly and cleanly, in my opinion. All of the novellas were zippy and moved along at a fast pace. And I liked the 3 brief bonus chapters at the end of the trilogy that acted as epilogues for each novella. I enjoyed seeing the couples a bit later in their lives.

Overall, the trilogy was entertaining and fun, with a touch of substance. A perfect choice for a beachy summer day.

The sum up

Quick, flirty and fun.

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Review: True by Erin McCarthy

Title: True
Author: Erin McCarthy
Publisher: May 7th 2013 by InterMix
Format: ebook, 238 pages
Source: NetGalley
3 owls

Summary

When Rory Macintosh’s roommates find out that their studious and shy friend has never been with a guy, they decide that, as an act of kindness they’ll help her lose her virginity by hiring confident, tattooed bad boy Tyler Mann to do the job…unbeknownst to Rory.

Tyler knows he’s not good enough for Rory. She’s smart, doctor smart, while he’s barely scraping by at his EMT program, hoping to pull his younger brothers out of the hell their druggy mother has left them in. But he can’t resist taking up her roommates on an opportunity to get to know her better. There’s something about her honesty that keeps him coming back when he knows he shouldn’t…

Torn between common sense and desire, the two find themselves caught up in a passionate relationship. But when Tyler’s broken family threatens to destroy his future, and hers, Rory will need to decide whether to cut her ties to his risky world or follow her heart, no matter what the cost…

My thoughts

Rory’s nerdy and shy and not able to make friends easily. Luckily, she’s managed to bond with her 2 dorm mates, even though they’re very different. They help her get out of her shell a bit. When they find out she’s a (gasp!) virgin, they secretly pay Tyler, who happens to be a booty call for one of them, to deflower her. At first, Rory’s unsure why Tyler is suddenly paying so much attention to her, but she likes it.

Rory was a funny person, she had a great sense of humor, though she sometimes had a hard time letting her hair down. She lost her mother when she was young, and you could tell that played a part in her personality. She loved her father very much, but they weren’t a loving family. She was smart and confident in her abilities.

Tyler was your typical bad boy – tattooed, dangerous, ladies’ man with a secretive home life that made him want to protect himself from further hurt, but a real softy on the inside. He really did have a horrible home life, no father and a drug-addicted, abusive mother. Luckily, he had his older brother to help him out, and his younger brothers to keep him grounded. He made some stupid decisions throughout the story (not the least of which was accepting money to take a girl’s virginity), but you could tell that underneath he was a pretty decent guy.

Rory’s roommates were pretty nice, until you realized that they’d paid someone to sleep with her. Why they felt it was so necessary for Rory to have sex was unclear. I thought that was a pretty underhanded thing, and it colored my opinion of them for the rest of the book.

The plot is pretty repetitive these days: girl is almost raped, boy comes to her rescue, they fall in love. Don’t get me wrong, though, it was entertaining. It was a little disappointing, however, that the near-rape wasn’t dealt with. No police were called, no counseling was sought, nothing. It was spoken of a few times immediately after, then once or twice later, then nada. That was a missed opportunity, as far as I’m concerned.

The story moved along at a brisk pace, and that was nice. It made it easier to overlook the parts that bothered me, such as Rory’s inconsistent behaviors, her roommates’ attempt to prostitute her out and Tyler’s inability to simply talk about what was bothering him. The romance felt authentic, like 2 college kids getting to know each other and learning to trust one another. The ending was a bit rushed, it could have used more attention. Otherwise, it was a nice quick read.

The sum up

Predictable but entertaining.

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