Source: Owned

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Off Campus by Amy Jo Cousins – Review

September 21, 2015 Review 0 ★★★★½

Off Campus by Amy Jo Cousins – ReviewRelease Date: December 30, 2014
Title: Off Campus
Series: Bend or Break #1
Author: Amy Jo Cousins
Pages: 317
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Source: Owned
From the Publisher: Everyone’s got secrets. Some are just harder to hide.

With his father’s ponzi scheme assets frozen, Tom Worthington believes finishing college is impossible unless he can pay his own way. After months sleeping in his car and gypsy-cabbing for cash, he’s ready to do just that.

But his new, older-student housing comes with an unapologetically gay roommate. Tom doesn’t ask why Reese Anders has been separated from the rest of the student population. He’s just happy to be sleeping in a bed.

Reese isn’t about to share his brutal story with his gruff new roommate. You’ve seen one homophobic jock, you’ve seen ’em all. He plans to drag every twink on campus into his bed until Tom moves out. But soon it becomes clear Tom isn’t budging.

Tom isn’t going to let some late-night sex noise scare him off, especially when it’s turning him on. But he doesn’t want any drama either. He’ll keep his hands, if not his eyes, to himself. Boundaries have a way of blurring when you start sharing truths, though. And if Tom and Reese cross too many lines, they may need to find out just how far they can bend…before they break.

Warning: This book contains cranky roommates who vacillate between lashing out and licking, some male/male voyeurism, emotional baggage that neither guy wants to unpack, and the definitive proof that sound carries in college housing.
4.5 Stars

I’m going to be honest here, at the risk of sounding like a terrible person.

I’d never really read m/m romance before. I did read a novella by Amy Jo a while back, but that’s been my only experience with this particular genre. I always assumed that I’d never enjoy reading about two men falling in love and getting their rocks off.

But I was so, so wrong.

As is typical for me when I follow the author of a book I find myself falling into, my reaction to the book is best told through my tweets to the author:

I’m guessing a lot of that doesn’t make sense to those of you who haven’t read the book… but I couldn’t stop grinning like crazy and telling Amy Jo just how much I adored her characters.

Tom and Reese were both very broken characters – but not in a way that made me want to turn from them. It wasn’t over the top; it was really rather realistic. Humans are usually broken in some way. And sometimes relationships that try to navigate that wreckage are hard and wonderful.

And those sex scenes I thought I wouldn’t enjoy? Hot, hot, hot, hot, hot.

Time to go read the next one!

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Three Nights with a Rock Star – Review

August 17, 2015 Review 2 ★★★★

Three Nights with a Rock Star – ReviewRelease Date: May 29, 2014
Title: Three Nights with a Rock Star
Series: Half-Life #1
Author: Amber Lin, Shari Slade
Publisher: Self-Published
Source: Owned
From the Publisher: When Hailey crashes a Half-Life after party, she expects to find the bastard who knocked up her little sister. Instead she meets the sexy front-man who agrees to give her access to his crew if she gives him access to her body.

All Lock demands in return is three days of complete control over the Sunday School teacher. With a contract, because he’s been burned before. One misstep could send the band—and his tenuous sobriety—up in flames.

Hailey and Lock push each other’s limits… Against the penthouse window. Backstage. In the limo and on the elevator. But as the contract counts down, neither are ready for the party to end.
4 Stars

Minor spoilers ahead.

Three nights with a rock star simply isn’t enough. I want ALL of the nights with Keaton “Lock” Shaw.

*swoon*

Three Nights with a Rock Star is a teensy bit like 50 Shades of Grey. But this is the book you wished 50 Shades was. Lock is the front man for a rock band. And he keeps contracts in his nightstand (more CDA and less kink allowances). When Hailey shows up at his hotel to ask for his help in finding the man who got her little sister pregnant, the last thing she expected was to end up bent over his couch. But she agreed to stay with him for 3 nights in exchange for his help.

And every hair pull, bite, and spank over those three nights left me wanting to spend more time in my fantasy where I was Hailey and in Lock’s bed.

I think that the reason I like this book so much is that it plays out a fantasy that I’ve had over and over. What would I do if a total stranger – even if (especially if) he’s a celebrity – asked me to share his bed? In the fantasy, I’d do exactly what Hailey did. I’d forget who I was for a few days and give myself over to wanton abandon. And then I would get under his skin so much that he’d fall head over heels in love with me.

Who doesn’t fantasize about that?

What Shari and Amber did in this book is give us the fantasy we want without falling into the trap of talking down to the reader or devolving into gratuitous sex. And it absolutely left me wanting more.

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Heating Up the Holidays 3-Story Bundle – Review

December 20, 2013 Review 0 ★★★★

Heating Up the Holidays 3-Story Bundle – ReviewRelease Date: October 28, 2013
Title: Heating Up the Holidays
Author: Lisa Renee Jones, Mary Ann Rivers, Serena Bell
Pages: 356
Publisher: Loveswept
Source: Owned
Available: Barnes and Noble | Kobo | iBookstore
From the Publisher: As leftover turkey and stuffing give way to stockings and little black dresses, this tantalizingly sexy eBook bundle offers up holiday-themed novellas from a trio of beloved romance authors. Lisa Renee Jones gives a dedicated reporter and a powerful businessman a chance to count their Thanksgiving blessings in Play with Me; Mary Ann Rivers presents Snowfall, the story of a woman who confronts a life-changing event—hopefully with a special man by her side—just in time for Christmas; and in Serena Bell’s After Midnight, an explosive New Year’s kiss leaves two strangers wondering whether they’ll ever see each other again.

PLAY WITH ME by Lisa Renee Jones

Kali Miller has spent three years reporting fluff stories, waiting for the article that will launch her career to new heights. When she suddenly finds herself forced to take a job as an executive secretary at a Vegas casino, Kali meets the subject of what will surely be a shocking exposé: her boss, Damion Ward, the arrogant and undeniably sexy CEO. But after Damion invites her to help him plan a Thanksgiving charity event, Kali begins to see another side of the man. And when she surrenders to the exhilarating tension simmering between them, Kali hopes her story will have a happy ending.

SNOWFALL by Mary Ann Rivers

Jenny Wright can’t get enough of her erotic conversations with someone she knows only as “C.” Flirting online helps Jenny temporarily escape confronting the changes to her life as she slowly loses her vision. Jenny’s occupational therapist, Evan Carlisle-Ford, is helping her prepare for the challenges ahead, but the forthright, trustworthy man can no longer ignore his growing attraction to his fiercely intelligent client. Now Jenny must choose between the safe, anonymous “C”—or the flesh-and-blood Evan, whose heated kisses can melt snow faster than it can fall.

AFTER MIDNIGHT by Serena Bell

The clock is ticking down to midnight on New Year’s Eve, and all Nora Hart and Miles Shephard can think about is kissing each other—even though they met just minutes before. Then, as fast as Miles enters Nora’s life, he’s gone . . . and she never even gets the name of the man she thinks might just be “the one.” One year later, Nora and Miles are reunited. The chemistry between them is just as strong as they remember. But Miles broke her heart once before—and this time around, Nora’s not sure whether she can give love a second chance.
4 Stars

Heating Up the Holidays is a bundle of three holiday novellas that are sure to leave you wishing for someone special this holiday season!

Play With Me by Lisa Renee Jones

This one was probably my least favorite of the three stories (though honestly, it’s hard to rank them). While reading it, I remember thinking that there were some logical inconsistencies in the writing, but now all I can remember is the sizzling romance. And since it was the romance that left a lasting impression – well that should tell you all that you need to know!

Snowfall by Mary Ann Rivers

Mary Ann is one of my very favorite writers. I raved about her debut novella, The Story Guy, and while this one didn’t get me going quite as much as that one did – I wasn’t disappointed. Once I figured out what was going on, I found myself yelling at Evan, begging him to talk to Jenny. Any story that gets me that invested and involved in the characters is an automatic win.

After Midnight by Serena Bell

This one has all of the makings of a fairy tale romance. Kissing at midnight, losing touch for a year, and then reconnecting again. It’s the stuff dreams are made of – with a hefty dose of reality tossed in for good measure. But Nora and Miles muddle through and they certainly had me cheering them on.

Overall, it was a good anthology. The stories were a bit different than what you’d expect from a holiday collection, but there was steam and sizzle and swoon.

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Allegiant by Veronica Roth (Divergent #3) – Review

November 25, 2013 Review 1 ★★★★

Allegiant by Veronica Roth (Divergent #3) – ReviewRelease Date: October 22, 2013
Title: Allegiant
Author: Veronica Roth
Pages: 526
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Source: Owned
Available: Barnes and Noble | Kobo | iBookstore | The Book Depository | Powell's
From the Publisher: The faction-based society that Tris Prior once believed in is shattered—fractured by violence and power struggles and scarred by loss and betrayal. So when offered a chance to explore the world past the limits she’s known, Tris is ready. Perhaps beyond the fence, she and Tobias will find a simple new life together, free from complicated lies, tangled loyalties, and painful memories.

But Tris’s new reality is even more alarming than the one she left behind. Old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningless. Explosive new truths change the hearts of those she loves. And once again, Tris must battle to comprehend the complexities of human nature—and of herself—while facing impossible choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice, and love.

Told from a riveting dual perspective, Allegiant, by #1 New York Times best-selling author Veronica Roth, brings the Divergent series to a powerful conclusion while revealing the secrets of the dystopian world that has captivated millions of readers in Divergent and Insurgent.
4 Stars

Dear Ms. Roth,

When I first heard that spoilers for Allegiant had leaked onto the web, I was angry. I love the way it feels to uncover a story for the first time, savoring the emotions and the experience. That someone wanted to ruin that for me and those like me caused me pain. I knew, based on the veritable outcry from those who saw the spoilers that whatever it was must be bad but I didn’t break. I avoided all mention of your book wherever I went online.

When release day came and I couldn’t purchase it right away, I stayed away from Twitter and my RSS feed. I knew better than to go to places where my people – those in the book blogging community – would be talking about your book.

It didn’t matter.

One person who had never read your books had seen the spoilers and managed to make an errant comment to me, spoiling the ending. Her rationale was, “I’m sorry. It was all over my Twitter feed so I didn’t think there was anyone left who hadn’t seen it.”

I was devastated. Not only at learning the outcome of your book without the knowledge of the journey, but at being robbed of the experience that might have helped me be okay with your decision.

It took me nearly two weeks to pick up your book after that. I stared at it every day knowing that it was going to break my heart. But I knew that one day I would need to finish Tris and Four’s story. I would regret it if I didn’t.

And when I closed the final page of the book there were tears streaming down my face. But I understood. I may have been robbed of the initial experience of your intention, but I still grasped the meaning behind your decision. You stayed true to your characters. And that’s when I re-learned that just because a book doesn’t end the way I wanted it to doesn’t mean the book isn’t a good one. Allegiant was a great book.

You gave me back the Tris and Four that I fell in love with in Divergent.

And for that, I say thank you.

Mandi Kaye

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The Archived by Victoria Schwab (The Archived #1) – Review

October 21, 2013 Review 2 ★★★★★

inanutshell2Victoria Schwab can do no wrong. First I read about villains and now I’m reading about a library of the dead. Can I go live inside her imagination? I’m pretty sure it’s much better there than it is here in the real world.
 

The Archived by Victoria Schwab (The Archived #1) – ReviewRelease Date: January 22, 2013
Title: The Archived
Series: The Archived #1
Author: Victoria Schwab
Pages: 328
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Source: Owned
Available: Barnes and Noble | Kobo | iBookstore | The Book Depository | Powell's
From the Publisher: Imagine a place where the dead rest on shelves like books.

Each body has a story to tell, a life seen in pictures that only Librarians can read. The dead are called Histories, and the vast realm in which they rest is the Archive.

Da first brought Mackenzie Bishop here four years ago, when she was twelve years old, frightened but determined to prove herself. Now Da is dead, and Mac has grown into what he once was, a ruthless Keeper, tasked with stopping often—violent Histories from waking up and getting out. Because of her job, she lies to the people she loves, and she knows fear for what it is: a useful tool for staying alive.

Being a Keeper isn’t just dangerous—it’s a constant reminder of those Mac has lost. Da’s death was hard enough, but now her little brother is gone too. Mac starts to wonder about the boundary between living and dying, sleeping and waking. In the Archive, the dead must never be disturbed. And yet, someone is deliberately altering Histories, erasing essential chapters. Unless Mac can piece together what remains, the Archive itself might crumble and fall.

In this haunting, richly imagined novel, Victoria Schwab reveals the thin lines between past and present, love and pain, trust and deceit, unbearable loss and hard-won redemption.
5 Stars

Mackenzie Bishop is one of my new favorite characters.

Her life is so complicated but she handles it pretty well. She doesn’t always make the best of decisions (I am still incredibly tired of people keeping secrets because they believe they can handle the world by themselves) but she does her best with what she’s been given.

The story is expertly woven so that we see how Mackenzie’s life ended up the way it is now. Her training with Da, her grief from losing her brother, the part of her life she must keep hidden from her parents… I can’t imagine how she manages such things.

And I am completely fascinated by the world that Victoria created. There are libraries of the dead. The dead are archived in vessels that look like the bodies they inhabited when they were alive. These vessels are called Histories – because they contain the history of the person who was once alive. And occasionally a History is disturbed and wakes up. When that happens, a Keeper must find them and return them to the Archive.

Mackenzie is a Keeper. She has been one since she was 12 years old.

When her family moves to an old building (we’re talking old), she realizes that she’s returning far more Histories than she’s accustomed to. And then… she meets Wes.

Things change after she meets Wes, but I can’t tell you what or why – you need to read that for yourself.

But overall, it isn’t just the story that makes this book so compelling to me. Victoria’s writing will always make me catch my breath. When I read her words, I can feel them through the page. Mackenzie’s story is one of pain, grief, and death. Her life is one that is destined to be surrounded by death. Yet, when Victoria writes it – there is still a youthful hope and exuberance surrounding Mackenzie that I hope stays with her through the next installment. Victoria understands how to use words to create an experience rather than simply tell a story.

What Others Are Saying:

  • CuddlebuggeryIt’s the perfect murder mystery to keep you on the edge of your seat. It’s the kind of book that had me thinking about the events long after I finished and now I’ll be desperately waiting for book 2.
  • The Book SmugglersThe Archived is a beautifully written book, a morose, slow-simmering modern gothic novel, with a truly intriguing premise.
  • The Hopeful HeroineI found myself turning page after page because I had to finish it–only to realize it’s part of a trilogy and now I have to whine and cry and mope around in waiting until next year for The Unbound.

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