Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead {Review}

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead {Review}Title: Vampire Academy
Author: Richelle Mead
Series: Vampire Academy #1
Publisher: Razorbill on August 16, 2007
Format: Paperback, 332 pages
Source: Gift
4 Stars
The sum up

Snarky, sexy and fun. A promising start to the series.
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On Dublin Street by Samantha Young {Review}

On Dublin Street by Samantha Young {Review}Title: On Dublin Street
Author: Samantha Young
Series: On Dublin Street #1
Publisher: Penguin Audio on January 24, 2013
Format: Audiobook, 10 hrs and 48 mins
Source: Purchased
3 Stars

Summary

Jocelyn Butler has been hiding from her past for years. But all her secrets are about to be laid bare…

Four years ago, Jocelyn left her tragic past behind in the States and started over in Scotland, burying her grief, ignoring her demons, and forging ahead without attachments. Her solitary life is working well—until she moves into a new apartment on Dublin Street where she meets a man who shakes her carefully guarded world to its core.

Braden Carmichael is used to getting what he wants, and he’s determined to get Jocelyn into his bed. Knowing how skittish she is about entering a relationship, Braden proposes an arrangement that will satisfy their intense attraction without any strings attached.

But after an intrigued Jocelyn accepts, she realizes that Braden won’t be satisfied with just mind-blowing passion. The stubborn Scotsman is intent on truly knowing her… down to the very soul.

My thoughts

Joss (as she prefers to be called) never faced the devastating events of her childhood, and has lived with a wall around her heart ever since. When she moves in with Ellie, that wall begins to crumble. When she meets Ellie’s hot brother Braden, the walls are shattered.

Poor Joss really has had it rough. She lost her entire family in one fell swoop, then not much later lost her best friend. Deciding it was better to not feel anything than to get hurt again, she hadn’t let anyone close in a long time. She had friends, but nobody she would call family. It was not hard to understand why she’d done that, I can’t imagine the pain she must have felt. On the other hand, I recognized that it wasn’t healthy and she needed help. Braden was also damaged, but not nearly as much as Joss. He’d had his heart broken by his ex, and had been content to play the ladies man ever since.

I loved Ellie, she was sweet, but kind of dense when it came to men. She was clearly in love with someone who was clearly in love with her (I’m not spoiling anything, it’s obvious as soon as you meet them), but they were both too stupid to do anything about it. She was an awesome friend to Joss, and really was the first step in getting Joss back to normal. Her subplot, however, was predictable and convenient.

He was what some might call an alpha male, but I would just call a dick.
The sexy scenes were extremely sexy. Lots and lots of hotness. They were very graphic, so if that’s not your thing, this is not your book. While I thought it was sexy, I can’t say it was romantic, but only because of how I felt about Braden. He was what some might call an alpha male, but I would just call a dick. He was cocky, arrogant, possessive and demanding. Luckily, Joss thought those were  endearing qualities and called him “caveman.”  And really, more than once I half expected him to knock her down and drag her around by her hair or lift his leg and pee all on her to mark his territory. That kind of male attitude just doesn’t do it for me. More than once, my jaw dropped and I waited for Joss to tell him where he could stick it. But no, it just turned her on and they had sex again.

While I had my problems with Braden, he did have a few likable qualities. He was quite sweet when he wanted to be, and he was protective of, and very generous with, his sister Ellie. While he was aggressive about it, he also managed to get through to Joss, help her see the way she was living wasn’t healthy for her. He had good intentions, at least.

I was not a fan of the audio version of the book. I liked Paula Costello’s voice, and she did a pretty good job with the accents, but she kept chuckling at inappropriate times. She would kind of say a sentence with laughter in her voice, like she thought Joss would say it. But I didn’t think Joss would laugh in a lot of those instances. It just came across as kind of awkward. Also, I had a hard time telling when Joss was thinking something to herself and when she was speaking out loud. The narrator could have done a better job of delineating which was which.

The sum up

Sexy with a side of sweet, this is perfect if you like your men large and in charge.

About the author

Samantha Young is a New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author from Stirlingshire, Scotland. She’s been nominated for the Goodreads Choice Award 2012 for Best Author and Best Romance for her international bestseller ON DUBLIN STREET. ON DUBLIN STREET is Samantha’s first adult contemporary romance and has sold in twenty-five countries.

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Burning by Elana K. Arnold {Review}

Title: Burning
Author: Elana K. Arnold
Publisher: Delacorte Press on June 11th 2013
Format: eARC, 320 pages pages
Source: Publisher
3 Stars

Summary

Ben: Having just graduated from high school, Ben is set to leave Gypsum, Nevada. It’s good timing since the gypsum mine that is the lifeblood of the area is closing, shutting the whole town down with it. Ben is lucky: he’s headed to San Diego, where he’s got a track scholarship at the University of California. But his best friends, Pete and Hog Boy, don’t have college to look forward to, so to make them happy, Ben goes with them to check out the hot chick parked on the side of Highway 447.

Lala: She and her Gypsy family earn money by telling fortunes. Some customers choose Tarot cards; others have their palms read. The thousands of people attending the nearby Burning Man festival spend lots of cash–especially as Lala gives uncanny readings. But lately Lala’s been questioning whether there might be more to life than her upcoming arranged marriage. And the day she reads Ben’s cards is the day that everything changes for her. . . and for him.

My thoughts

The town of Gypsum is literally about to close up shop. Nobody needs the gypsum from the mines, so the town has lost their greatest source of both income and jobs. Almost everyone has already moved away, but there are still a few families left. Ben is weeks away from leaving town to start college with a full ride. His friends are crazy jealous since they don’t have college to look forward to, they’re going straight into jobs once they move to Reno. Lala is a gypsy fortune teller, camping with her family on the side of the road leading to Burning Man. In an effort to placate his friends, Ben joins them on a trip to see the hot gypsy girl and ends up getting a Tarot card reading.

Ben and Lala were both likable characters. Ben was driven, and he knew he wanted to go to college and really make something of himself. He felt bad about leaving his friends (and his little brother) behind, but he knew that going to college was a great opportunity which he couldn’t pass up. Lala had recently become disenchanted with her lifestyle as a gypsy. She was dreading her upcoming arranged marriage and was dreaming of things other kids got to experience.

I’m torn on the love aspect here. On the one hand, it was so sweet and truly lovely. On the other hand, it was a classic case of instalove. Seriously, after 2 (very short) conversations, they were already in luuuuuurve. But, other than that, I really enjoyed the way it was handled. The two were mature and respectful of each other and the people around them. If it weren’t for the instalove, I might even have called it a great love story.

I found some parts of the book unbelievable. Lala did something completely out of her comfort zone that I almost rolled my eyes at. And now that I think about it, Ben did the same thing. He was ready to give up the thing he’d worked at all his life at the drop of a hat. His friends, however, were understandably jealous. Ben was actually going to college, going to make something different for himself. He had an opportunity that they never would.

I liked that the story was told from both points of view. It helped me understand not only what Lala was going through as she became more and more unhappy with the direction her life was heading, but what Ben was going through as he struggled with his decision to leave his family and friends and accept his brother’s differences.

We got to know a lot about Lala and her gypsy family. It all sounded pretty real to me, so I trust that Elana did her homework and researched their lifestyle and way of doing things. I found it all very interesting, how they view puberty, marriage and familial relationships. And the Tarot cards played a big part of the story, too. I’m only vaguely familiar with them, and I learned a lot about what all the cards mean, and even how their placement during a reading matters.

The sum up

Interesting background information and a sweet (if unbelievable) love story make this a quick, fun read. I think it lacks the emotional punch Elana might have intended.

About the author

ELANA K. ARNOLD completed her M.A. in Creative Writing/Fiction at the University of California, Davis. She grew up in Southern California, where she was lucky enough to have her own horse–a gorgeous mare named Rainbow–and a family who let her read as many books as she wanted. She lives in Long Beach, California, with her husband, two children, and a menagerie of animals. She is represented by Rubin Pfeffer of the East/West Literary Agency. Sacred is her debut novel.

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A Little Too Much by Lisa Desrochers {Review + Giveaway}


 
Title: A Little Too Much
Author: Lisa Desrochers
Series: A Little Too Far #2
Publisher: William Morrow Impulse on November 12, 2013
Format: eBook, 416 pages
Source: Mundie Moms Blog Tours
4 Stars

Summary

In the follow-up to Lisa Desrochers’ explosive New Adult novel A Little too Far, Alessandro Moretti must face the life he escaped and the girl he loved and left behind.

Twenty-two year old Hilary McIntyre would like nothing more than to forget her past. As a teenager abandoned to the system, she faced some pretty dark times. But now that’s all behind her. Hilary has her life on track, and there’s no way she’ll head back down that road again.

Until Alessandro Moretti—the one person who can make her remember—shows up on her doorstep. He’s even more devastatingly gorgeous than before, and he’s much too close for comfort. Worse, he sees right through the walls she’s built over these last eight years, right into her heart and the secrets she’s guarding.

As Hilary finds herself falling back into love with the man who, as a boy both saved and destroyed her, she must decide. Past or future? Truth or lies?

My thoughts

Alessandro is the character I fell in love with in A Little Too Far. I was not happy that Lexie chose her stepbrother over the obvious awesomeness that was Alessandro. Big mistake, Lexie. However, thanks to her stupidity, Hilary gets a chance with the one who got away. Hilary and Alessandro (and his brother Lorenzo) spent time together at a group home many years ago. They connected, but circumstances tore them apart and they lost touch. Now that Alessandro realizes entering the priesthood isn’t the way to atone for his past, he goes to New York to find Hilary and make things right. But she’s not the same girl she was when he last saw her. She’s got big dreams and an even bigger wall around her heart.

As you may have guessed from the above summary, I loved Alessandro. He was pretty much perfect in every way, and I was glad to get a chance to read more about him. He had his troubled past, which only served to make him sexily tortured, and he was kind and gentle and so sweet. He had a great sense of humor and was always willing to try something new or go outside his comfort zone for someone else. And, as an added bonus, he looked amazing. Hilary was an arm girl (as am I) and she admired and described his sexy cut arms many times, which was quite nice.

He was able to look past Hilary’s flaws and appreciate her for who she was. And he never sugar coated that he had been in love with someone else recently (the stupid Lexie). I thought that was nice, how he didn’t try to shy away from the facts. He always told the truth, but in a nice way.

On the other hand, I didn’t like Hilary as a character as much as I did Lexie from A Little Too Far. There was no logical reason, I just didn’t click with her. She was nice enough with her friends, but not overly friendly with others. She was in a relationship of convenience, without emotional attachment, and while I think that works fine for some people, that’s just not my thing.

One thing I had to wonder about was why Hilary refused to see how perfect for her Alessandro was. We find out later why (more on that in a minute), but still, she resisted much longer than I would expect anyone to. It was kind of frustrating, I kept thinking “Just kiss him, already!” and “Why are you still denying how great he is?” I didn’t understand the reluctance.

Hilary’s bestie, Jess, was super cute. She was also an actress and we didn’t spend a lot of time with her, but she was genuinely nice, which I always like to see. The boyfriend was fairly likable, considering he was only with Hilary for the sex. They lived together, though, and he was faithful to her, plus he did what he could to help her career. Of course, he turned out not to be quite so charming in the end.

Hilary had a dirty mouth and the f-word was slung around a lot. And there was a fair amount of graphic sex. The build up before the big moment with Hilary and Alessandro was nice; lots of heavy breathing and lip biting. But it still wasn’t as romantically sexy as it was for Alessandro and Lexie. Maybe I’m always going to compare those two couples…

One of the themes in the book was discovering the New York that nobody else knew about and that was fun. We learned a bit about different New York “attractions” that are under-appreciated by the everyday people who live there. In fact, one or two of them sound interesting enough that I might check them out if I ever go back to the city.

There was a big twist about 2/3 of the way through the book, however, I knew it was coming. I’m not sure if it was a lucky guess, but after reading the preview bit at the end of A Little Too Far, I immediately knew what the big event was going to be, and I was right. It’s a big one, but it’s not easy to figure it out as you read. I’m not sure if I would have felt any differently about the story if I hadn’t known what was going on. I think it would have been a big surprise, and I might have been less frustrated with Hilary’s actions.

At any rate, I enjoyed the book and will definitely be reading the next book in the series.

The sum up

Steamy and dramatic with lots of angst, this is an older “new adult” book perfect for romance and drama fans.

About the author

Lisa Desrochers is the USA Today bestselling author of A LITTLE TOO FAR , courtesy of HarperCollins, and companions, A LITTLE TOO MUCH (Nov 12, 2013), and A LITTLE TOO HOT (Jan 21, 2014). Also in stores is her YA PERSONAL DEMONS trilogy (Macmillan).

She lives in central California with her husband and two very busy daughters. There is never a time that she can be found without a book in her hand, and she adores stories that take her to new places, and then take her by surprise.

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The Program by Suzanne Young {Review}

The Program by Suzanne Young {Review}Title: The Program
Author: Suzanne Young
Publisher: Simon Pulse on April 30th 2013
Format: eARC, 408 pages pages
Source: Publisher
5 Stars

Summary

In Sloane’s world, true feelings are forbidden, teen suicide is an epidemic, and the only solution is The Program.

Sloane knows better than to cry in front of anyone. With suicide now an international epidemic, one outburst could land her in The Program, the only proven course of treatment. Sloane’s parents have already lost one child; Sloane knows they’ll do anything to keep her alive. She also knows that everyone who’s been through The Program returns as a blank slate. Because their depression is gone—but so are their memories.

Under constant surveillance at home and at school, Sloane puts on a brave face and keeps her feelings buried as deep as she can. The only person Sloane can be herself with is James. He’s promised to keep them both safe and out of treatment, and Sloane knows their love is strong enough to withstand anything. But despite the promises they made to each other, it’s getting harder to hide the truth. They are both growing weaker. Depression is setting in. And The Program is coming for them.

My thoughts

Sloane lives sometime in the near future when science has declared teen suicide an epidemic. Luckily, science has found a cure – The Program. Kids who show signs of depression can be forcibly admitted into The Program. Once the kids come out, they’re happy and without care. But they also can’t remember things from their past, even their friends. Sloane, who has already lost her brother to suicide, spends all her time with her boyfriend James, who was her brother’s best friend. The two of them are just trying to stay “happy” until they turn 18 and are no longer eligible for The Program.

Sloane was an amazingly strong female lead character. She knew she had to remain stoic, but it was hard for her; not only was she still upset from her brother’s suicide, she was scared of being taken away. She had James to lean on, but only in private, when nobody else was around. He was also strong; not only was he carrying guilt for not having saved his best friend, but he had made it his personal mission to take care of Sloane and their small circle of friends. That’s a lot of weight on such young shoulders.

There were other characters: friends, classmates, doctors and her parents, who added their own thing to the book. There were a few special ones whom I can’t call out specifically for fear of spoilers, but I will say I enjoyed them all (except for the really bad guy). There were some sexy times, but it was not at all graphic. Boo.

The story was incredibly suspenseful. The tension was just amped up over and over until I didn’t think I could take it anymore. The kids were afraid to show any emotion at all, and you know keeping it inside wasn’t any good for them at all. They couldn’t have a bad day or get in a simple argument without fear. Every time they saw a handler from The Program, they were scared to death that they were next. And since they knew what would happen, some felt suicide was the better option.

Several times, I found myself holding my breath, wondering if it was the end of Sloane, or someone else we’d gotten to know.
Several times, I found myself holding my breath, wondering if it was the end of Sloane, or someone else we’d gotten to know. The people from The Program were always lurking around the school, waiting for someone to look sad so they could scoop them away and erase their memories. And there’s no running away, The Program would just track them down and drag them back. It’s no surprise that some chose suicide as their only option.

In the beginning, I wondered why parents would voluntarily send their kids away to a place like that, I just knew that Sloane’s parents were going to be there for her and let her be unhappy, at least in the home. But no, they were pro-Program. And after a while, I could almost see it. If you had already lost 1 child to suicide, wouldn’t you do basically anything to keep from losing the other one, even if it made them unhappy?

I just went from reviewing the book to discussing the ethics of The Program, so let me get back to the former.

I can’t imagine how it would feel to be in the situation these kids were in, but thanks to Suzanne Young, I absolutely felt the terror and fear Sloane, James and their friends did. Young created a not-too-distant place where a government-mandated non-voluntary treatment for suicide prevention was totally believable. I was caught up in the story and lost myself in it many times. As far as I’m concerned, that’s the sign of an excellent writer.

I was left with a few unanswered questions, and though I think this was originally going to be a standalone, I was very pleased to find out that a sequel is due next year.

The sum up

Believably realistic and surprisingly romantic, this is an excellent entry in the dystopian genre. I can’t wait to see what happens in the follow up.

About the author


Originally from New York, Suzanne Young moved to Arizona to pursue her dream of not freezing to death. She currently resides in Tempe, where she teaches high school English. When not writing obsessively, Suzanne can be found searching her own tragic memories for inspiration.

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The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay {Review + Giveaway}

The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay {Review + Giveaway}Title: The Sea of Tranquility
Author: Katja Millay
Publisher: Atria Books on June 4th, 2013
Format: Paperback, 448 pages
Source: Purchased
5 Stars
Summary

I live in a world without magic or miracles. A place where there are no clairvoyants or shapeshifters, no angels or superhuman boys to save you. A place where people die and music disintegrates and things suck. I am pressed so hard against the earth by the weight of reality that some days I wonder how I am still able to lift my feet to walk.

Former piano prodigy Nastya Kashnikov wants two things: to get through high school without anyone learning about her past and to make the boy who took everything from her—her identity, her spirit, her will to live—pay.

Josh Bennett’s story is no secret: every person he loves has been taken from his life until, at seventeen years old, there is no one left. Now all he wants is be left alone and people allow it because when your name is synonymous with death, everyone tends to give you your space.

Everyone except Nastya, the mysterious new girl at school who starts showing up and won’t go away until she’s insinuated herself into every aspect of his life. But the more he gets to know her, the more of an enigma she becomes. As their relationship intensifies and the unanswered questions begin to pile up, he starts to wonder if he will ever learn the secrets she’s been hiding—or if he even wants to.

The Sea of Tranquility is a rich, intense, and brilliantly imagined story about a lonely boy, an emotionally fragile girl, and the miracle of second chances.

My thoughts

You guys. You guys. This book. I just… I don’t think I have the words to express how much I loved it. Nothing I can say could possibly convey the amazingness that is this book. And the feels. My god, the feels!

Nastya is the new girl at school, and everyone wants to know all about her. But nobody knows a thing because not only does she dress like a prostitute, she doesn’t speak. Ever. What they don’t know is that something traumatic happened to her a few years ago, and her silence and provocative dress are her way of dealing with things and taking control of her life. On the other hand, everyone knows everything about Josh. Everyone in his family has died, one by one, until he’s all alone. Between those who are afraid his “bad luck” will be contagious, and those who just don’t know what to say to him, he has no friends, except for Drew, the slutty but honest guy he’s known forever.

From the very first chapter, I was completely invested in what was going on in these characters’ lives.

The point of view switched between Nastya and Josh, which I loved. We learned what happened to Nastya before Josh did, and I enjoyed seeing things from his point of view, as he struggled to understand what made her tick. I also liked seeing her point of view, as she let herself relax around him, and learned to face her past.

I really liked Drew, Josh’s friend, who also became Nastya’s friend. He was a manwhore, but he never lied about it to the ladies. He was always up front about his interests, and of course, there was more to him than met the eye.

The way the characters spoke to each other was so honest, nothing flowery or unreal. They always said what was on their mind, even if it didn’t make sense, or paint themselves in the most flattering light. But they were honest, and they respected each other for it. Drew was definitely the comic relief; he had a great sense of humor and knew how to make the other two take a break from their inner turmoil.

Katja Millay has a gift for writing honest and real emotions, and for making me care about the characters. From the very first chapter, I was completely invested in what was going on in their lives. And I wanted them to work out, I wanted them to heal and be there for each other. I wanted them to have a happily ever after. It mattered to me what happened to them.

Not since reading Where the Red Fern Grows as a child have I cried so much for characters in a book. I’m not talking getting a little teary-eyed, either. I’m talking full on ugly sobbing.

It’s a long one, at over 400 pages, but believe me, you won’t notice. In fact, as I neared the end, I started to slow down my reading because I just didn’t want the story to end. I am absolutely blown away that this is Katja’s debut novel, I never would have guessed that. She was born to write and I will, without doubt, read anything else she puts out.

The sum up

Heart-wrenchingly sad, but also hopeful and funny. It broke my heart, stomped on the pieces, then put it all back together again. Truly a book that everyone must read.

About the author

Katja Millay grew up in Florida and graduated with a degree in film & television production from Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. She has worked as a television producer and a film studies and screenwriting teacher. The Sea of Tranquility is her first book.

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On the Island by Tracey Garvis Graves {Review}

On the Island by Tracey Garvis Graves {Review}Title: On the Island
Author: Tracey Garvis-Graves
Publisher: Penguin on August 16th 2012
Format: Paperback, 347 pages
Source: Giveaway
5 Stars

Summary

When thirty-year-old English teacher Anna Emerson is offered a job tutoring T.J. Callahan at his family’s summer rental in the Maldives, she accepts without hesitation; a working vacation on a tropical island trumps the library any day.

T.J. Callahan has no desire to leave town, not that anyone asked him. He’s almost seventeen and if having cancer wasn’t bad enough, now he has to spend his first summer in remission with his family – and a stack of overdue assignments – instead of his friends.

Anna and T.J. are en route to join T.J.’s family in the Maldives when the pilot of their seaplane suffers a fatal heart attack and crash-lands in the Indian Ocean. Adrift in shark-infested waters, their life jackets keep them afloat until they make it to the shore of an uninhabited island. Now Anna and T.J. just want to survive and they must work together to obtain water, food, fire, and shelter.

Their basic needs might be met but as the days turn to weeks, and then months, the castaways encounter plenty of other obstacles, including violent tropical storms, the many dangers lurking in the sea, and the possibility that T.J.’s cancer could return. As T.J. celebrates yet another birthday on the island, Anna begins to wonder if the biggest challenge of all might be living with a boy who is gradually becoming a man.

My thoughts

I absolutely adored this book. When I went in, I had some misgivings: would this be one of those creepy things where the older chick likes the way younger dude? Would there be a bunch of naked sexy times on the beach? Would it be horribly depressing, them being stuck there for so long? How interesting can years on a beach be? Luckily, every one of my fears with misguided.

The characters were wonderful. Anna was dealing with a relationship whose direction she wasn’t sure of. She was strong and confident in herself. When the pilot started having trouble, she was the one who stepped up and tried to help. She remained strong after the crash and helped keep them safe. T.J. was your average kid who just wanted to hang out with his friends instead of spend the summer with his family and a tutor. He was understandably scared after the crash, and tried to be strong, but needed to lean on Anna a lot.

One of the most interesting things about the book was watching as their roles changed, as T.J. became stronger and Anna learned to rely on him more and more. It was subtle, real and so sweet.

The plane crash, their fight to survive and their hope for rescue were all heart-wrenching. Tracey Garvis Graves can write suspense, action and romance like nobody’s business. And there’s more than just their need for food and water; there’s bad weather, illnesses, bathing and much more. I was worried that it would be boring, with nothing but the island to read about, but Graves managed to make everything interesting. There was more than 1 occasion that involved me rushing through to see what happened next.

I really liked that the point of view switched from Anna’s to T.J.’s, I could get inside their heads as they matured and fell for each other. The romance was sweet and factually graphic. The actual romance didn’t start until after T.J. came of age, so need to worry about that aspect.

There were a few “Well, that was convenient.” moments that were a bit annoying, but I just rolled with them. The survival part of the story was taken over about halfway through by the romance part. While this might bother some, I enjoyed it.

The sum up

This is a survival story perfect for the romance fan.

About the author

Tracey Garvis-Graves is the author of On the Island and Covet. She lives in a suburb of Des Moines, Iowa with her husband, two children, and hyper dog Chloe. She blogs at www.traceygarvisgraves.com using colorful language and a snarky sense of humor to write about pop culture, silly television shows, and her suburban neighborhood.

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Ten Tiny Breaths by K. A. Tucker {Review}

Title: Ten Tiny Breaths
Author: K.A. Tucker
Series: Ten Tiny Breaths #1
Publisher: Papoti Books on December 11th 2012
Format: eARC, 262 pages
Source: Publisher
5 Stars
Summary

Kacey Cleary’s whole life imploded four years ago in a drunk-driving accident. Now she’s working hard to bury the pieces left behind—all but one. Her little sister, Livie. Kacey can swallow the constant disapproval from her born-again aunt Darla over her self-destructive lifestyle; she can stop herself from going kick-boxer crazy on Uncle Raymond when he loses the girls’ college funds at a blackjack table. She just needs to keep it together until Livie is no longer a minor, and then they can get the hell out of Grand Rapids, Michigan.

But when Uncle Raymond slides into bed next to Livie one night, Kacey decides it’s time to run. Armed with two bus tickets and dreams of living near the coast, Kacey and Livie start their new lives in a Miami apartment complex, complete with a grumpy landlord, a pervert upstairs, and a neighbor with a stage name perfectly matched to her chosen “profession.” But Kacey’s not worried. She can handle all of them. What she can’t handle is Trent Emerson in apartment 1D.

Kacey doesn’t want to feel. She doesn’t. It’s safer that way. For everyone. But sexy Trent finds a way into her numb heart, reigniting her ability to love again. She starts to believe that maybe she can leave the past where it belongs and start over. Maybe she’s not beyond repair.

But Kacey isn’t the only one who’s broken. Seemingly perfect Trent has an unforgiveable past of his own; one that, when discovered, will shatter Kacey’s newly constructed life and send her back into suffocating darkness.

My thoughts

Kacey is just barely surviving after the accident that left both of her parents, her best friend and her boyfriend dead. She’s just biding her time until she can whisk her little sister away from their crazy aunt and uncle. When their uncle gets a little too close to young Livie, Kacey packs them up and runs. With the little money they have, she finds them a cheap apartment and they start over.

Kacey was the definition of dysfunctional. She hadn’t dealt with any of her issues following the accident and instead used violence to cope with things. She tried hard to keep it together for her little sister, but was having a hard time. Besides violence, her way of dealing was to keep everyone from getting too close. She enjoyed a good time in the bedroom, but was not a fan of emotions.

Trent and Kacey had great chemistry, and their relationship was a nice, slow burn.
Kacey’s little sister, Livie, was such a sweetie, and way too mature for her age. Several times, she was the one with the calm head who had to reason with Kacey. In her grief, I think Kacey sometimes forgot that her sister had also lost a lot in that accident. Livie is the focus of the next book in the series and I look forward to reading her story.

I loved the stripper next door with a heart of gold and her darling little girl. I would love to have a friend like Storm! The grumpy landlord was clearly a sweetheart in disguise who looked after his tenants. And of course, Trent. Overall, I was a fan of his, though I had issues with the way he went about doing things. He had a slight stalkerish tendency, though that led to some sweet scenes of him rescuing Kacey. And he had a manipulative way about him. I really liked the way the neighbors became a family unit.

Trent and Kacey had great chemistry, and their relationship was a nice, slow burn. He seemed more intent on “fixing her” than bedding her. He was pretty much trying for boyfriend of the year, encouraging her to seek counseling for her PTSD and saying all the right things.

I don’t hate you. I could never hate you. Give me your heart, Kacey. I’ll take everything that comes with it.

There was a surprise twist near the end, though I saw it coming. Because it was really the only option that made sense. That did not, however, take away from the emotion of it all.

The dialogue was straight forward, and Kacey had a tendency to say anything that popped in her head, which made for some amusing scenes. The sex scenes were graphic and steamy. Loved them!

The sum up

The story is sexy, sweet and sad, but the flawed characters really make it special.

About the author


Born in small-town Ontario, Kathleen published her first book at the age of six with the help of her elementary school librarian and a box of crayons.

She is a voracious reader and the farthest thing from a genre-snob, loving everything from High Fantasy to Chick Lit.

Kathleen currently resides in a quaint small town outside of Toronto with her husband, two beautiful girls, and an exhausting brood of four-legged creatures.

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Other opinions

A Reader of Fictions | Corrie, the Book Crazed Girl | Unconventional Book Reviews