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Thursday, May 26, 2016

Review: Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Adult, Review1 Comment

Review: Alexander Hamilton by Ron ChernowAlexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow
on 29 March 2005
Reading Challenges: 2016 Reading Challenge
Pages: 818
Format: Paperback
AmazonAudibleBarnes & NobleThe Book DepositoryGoodreads
four-stars

Like so many other people I know, I have fallen down the Hamilton Musical rabbit hole. I have become a bit obsessed with listening to the soundtrack and its not uncommon for me to use lyrics in my every day conversations. With this, I’ve had a renewed interest in reading non-fiction. I used to read a lot more non-fiction books than I do now and I do miss it. I miss learning things but non-fiction reads often take longer to get through and I’m so busy that I often pass them over in favor of lighter reads. But once I started to listen to the Hamilton soundtrack I became more interested in learning more about the man that inspired it. This led me to picking up Ron Chernow’s biography ALEXANDER HAMILTON as it was the source material for the show.

ALEXANDER HAMILTON is a *BIG* book and I admit to being intimidated by it as the print is also small. So I decided to tackle this one in small chunks at a time and I was very glad that I did. I really enjoyed learning more about this founding father as I really don’t remember much of him from when I was learning about American history in school. All I could really recall was that he was a founding father, he was never a president, and he was on the $10 bill because he helped found the financial system. After reading ALEXANDER HAMILTON, I learned that he did just so much more. Its a bit intimidating when you think about just how much he did in such a short amount of time and here I am thankful I managed to make it through the day without spilling coffee on myself.

I will admit though there there was a huge chunk in the middle of ALEXANDER HAMILTON that went over my head and bored me. Those were the sections where Chernow covered Hamilton’s financial plan and covered in detail all that he did to set up the banking system, stock market, and so much more. It was dry and my brain doesn’t naturally gravitate to numbers and such so the book lost me a bit there. But I do know that so much of what we know of modern American banking and government wouldn’t exist as we know it if it wasn’t for Hamilton’s influence. Hamilton was a genius and a visionary and we are so lucky to have had him on our side during the revolution.

What I loved about this book was learning all the personal details of Hamilton’s life. I was happy/sad to learn all the details that Lin-Manuel Miranda changed to make the musical flow better. I also may have cried when I got near the end of this tome. The musical has effected me on such an emotional level that its hard not to get teary eyed when it comes to reading about Phillip’s death and then Hamilton’s. I think this may be the first time that a non-fiction read has effected me this much. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. If you are a fan of the musical, or even of history, then ALEXANDER HAMILTON is a book that you should pick up. Its informative and important and gripping in many ways. Reading ALEXANDER HAMILTON has also renewed my interest in reading non-fiction and now I want to read more about our founding fathers to see how other biographers portray Hamilton and how their subjects contrast to how Chernow wrote about them. When I was reading the book I was lost in Hamilton’s life and at the end I was so glad to have invested the time to read it.

irishdarkblue Hamilton Quote
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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Audio Review: Love, Lucas by Chantele Sedgwick

Posted by Irish in 3 Stars, Audiobook, Review, Young Adult0 Comments

Audio Review: Love, Lucas by Chantele SedgwickLove, Lucas by Chantele Sedgwick
Published by Audible Studios on 17 July 2015
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Death & Dying, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Friendship, Love & Romance, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Young Adult
Reading Challenges: 2015 Reading Challenge
Narrator: Allison McLemore
Length: 6 hrs and 47 mins
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible.com
AmazonAudibleBarnes & NobleThe Book DepositoryGoodreads
three-stars

Place(s) Traveled To: Unnamed, Utah // Huntington Beach, California

First Line(s): Everyone tells me funerals help with the grieving process, but I think those people are full of crap.

LOVE, LUCAS by Chantele Sedgwick is a book that I picked up on a whim one day while browsing Barnes and Noble where it then promptly sat on my shelf for a bit. Then one day later on I was browsing Audible looking for a new book to listen to and noticed that they had LOVE, LUCAS so I decided to use one of my credits to download a copy. From a listening point of view I really enjoyed this one. This was the first time that I think I’ve listened to Allison McLemore and I thought that she did a good job bringing Oakley and the rest of these characters to life. From a wishlist standpoint I do wish that there was a male narrator to read the letters written for Oakley by her brother Lucas but overall I really liked how this one play out. I also found myself listening to LOVE LUCAS whenever I could and managed to get through it in just a few days time.

The plot of LOVE LUCAS though is where things kind of go sideways for me. LOVE LUCAS is one of those books that reminds me a lot of an ABC Family (sorry Freeform) or Lifetime movie. Which doesn’t make it bad but it doesn’t make it great either and yet there is something addictive about it. Oakley annoyed me as she was just filled with so much angst. I get that she was grieving so I can give her a little bit of leeway but it just got to be a bit much for me over the course of the story. However, I don’t think that this will bother others as much. I also think that if I’d read my print version of this book that her angst wouldn’t have seemed as great. There is just something about listening to a book that really highlights the words in a story. As a reader, your forced to slow down and to really pay attention as to what is being said. So little things can something become bigger than what they really are.

Love Lucas Quote

I enjoyed the plot of LOVE LUCAS and liked how Oakley worked through her grief. Although the timing seemed off on some things. I also found LOVE, LUCAS to be repetitive, always giving same info several times but treating as if it was first time we’d heard it. I get some repetition in a book but this just seemed excessive. But again this could just be more noticeable (re: annoying) to me because I listened to the story instead of reading it. Like I said above though, I really did like this audiobook and would recommend it in that format but if your book pet peeves are similar to mine then maybe try it in print as these things might be more muted.

LOVE, LUCAS is a quick read. I got lost in the story when I was listening to it and I do plan on reading more from Sedgwick. This is a book that reminded me in a lot of ways of TWENTY BOY SUMMER and I think that while it has sad undertones is a book that makes for a good summer time read. LOVE, LUCAS is a book that isn’t really about grief but rather how does one move on from losing someone you love so much. Its a bittersweet journey but its ones that I am glad that I took with Oakley.

irishdarkblue

IR - Love Lucas

Add Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

Add Hold Still by Nina LaCour to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Review: Short Stay by Heidi Cullinan

Posted by Irish in 3.5 Stars, Blog Tour, New Adult, Review0 Comments

Review: Short Stay by Heidi CullinanShort Stay by Heidi Cullinan
Series: Love Lessons, Book 3.5
Also in this series: Love Lessons, Fever Pitch, Lonely Hearts
Published by Self-Published on 24 May 2016
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Friendship, GLBT, Illnesses & Injuries, Love & Romance, New Adult, Road Trip, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Short Story / Novella
Reading Challenges: 2016 Reading Challenge
Pages: 272
Format: eARC
Source: Author
AmazonBarnes & NobleGoodreads
three-half-stars

Place(s) Traveled To: Chicago, Illinois // Las Vegas, Nevada

First Line(s): Elijah Prince would rather go to a sing-along showing of Frozen dressed as Elsa with a thousand whining children than go to the Acker Annual New Year’s Eve Party.

SHORT STAY is a novella by Heidi Cullinan that is a crossover between her Love Lessons and Special Delivery series. SHORT STAY is told from the POVs of Elijah and Baz from LONELY HEARTS (my review) and picks up not long after that book ends so you’ll definitely want to read that book before seeing where these two end up. SHORT STAY also includes lots of cameo interactions from Cullinan’s Special Delivery series which I had not read prior to reading this novella. So there were times when I was a little lost about which character was with who but overall I was able to make it through more easily than if I’d read the Speical Delivery series and not the Love Lessons.

I enjoyed reading SHORT STAY as I really missed Baz and Elijah but felt that there was a little more telling in this book than showing. The story felt a little more surfacy but it was a worthwhile story to read if you are a fan of these two characters. Even though only a few months have passed since LONELY HEARTS ends and SHORT STAY begins it was nice to see where these two were. I liked seeing how they still struggled a bit settling into their happily ever after but without adding in any unnecessary drama or pointless breakups. Elijah and Baz as still broken but they are much more healed than they were in LONELY HEARTS and by the end of SHORT STAY the reader knows that they are going to mend all their broken bits.

I do wish that there were more Walter and Kelly moments since they traveled to Las Vegas with Baz and Elijah as they almost seemed forgotten about once there in favor of all the Special Delivery characters. A cast that I may have been more excited to see if I knew more about them. Though I do plan on picking up those books as soon as I can just to see where all those characters originated from. Overall though, I did enjoy this story and would recommend it to fans of the series. There are some good heart achy moments and the story flows in a natural and organic way. It was fun revisiting old friends again along with meeting some new people. SHORT STAY is a book that will leave you smiling by the end and those are always the best sort of reads.

 

irishdarkblue

Short Stay Quote
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Monday, May 23, 2016

Review: Lonely Hearts by Heidi Cullinan

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, New Adult, Review0 Comments

Review: Lonely Hearts by Heidi CullinanLonely Hearts by Heidi Cullinan
Series: Love Lessons, Book 3
Also in this series: Love Lessons, Fever Pitch, Short Stay
Published by Samhain Publishing on 11 Aug 2015
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Friendship, GLBT, Health & Daily Living, Illnesses & Injuries, Love & Romance, Music & Musicians, New Adult, Performing Arts, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance
Reading Challenges: 2016 Reading Challenge
Pages: 355
Format: eBook
Source: Library
AmazonAudibleBarnes & NobleThe Book DepositoryGoodreads
four-stars

Place(s) Traveled To: Saint Paul, Minnesota // Chicago, Illinois // Minneapolis, Minnesota

First Line(s): As far as Elijah Prince was concerned, gay weddings could choke on their own cheery goddamned glitter and die.

LONELY HEARTS is the third and final book in Heidi Cullinans Love Lessons series and follows two characters that we’ve met in previous books, Baz and Elijah. LONELY HEARTS picks up not long after FEVER PITCH (my review) ends and it deals with a lot of the fall out from that book. Of the three books in this series, I think that LONELY HEARTS is my favorite. This is a series that just keeps getting better with each book and LONELY HEARTS is sure to make readers feel ALL THE FEELS. At least, it did for me. I just loved Baz and Elijah and the growth that they both go through over the course of the story. These two are both broken in different ways and I just liked how they both helped each other to heal.

There are times that I felt that LONELY HEARTS was a bit surfacy and even a little cutesey near the end but overall I just fell head over heels for the story and found it really hard to put down. Overall though, LONELY HEARTS is a bit deeper and grittier than the previous books and that is due in part because the demons that Baz and Elijah are fighting are bigger. Elijah had such a screwed up upbringing and at the end of FEVER PITCH he’s left adrift and seemingly alone. But fortunately for him, he had Aaron for a roommate and Aaron isn’t about to let Elijah disappear into himself. Between Aaron and Baz and the rest of the gang Elijah really comes into the person that he was always meant to be. He’s not perfectly in his happy place by the end but he’s definitely on his way there.

Lonely Hearts Quote

Baz too is dealing with issues and I really liked how Elijah accepted his medical issues and also helped him to deal with them. Baz was injured badly in an accident years before LONELY HEARTS begins and so some of the affectations that you see in FEVER PITCH are really much needed shields that he’s put into place to help him lead as normal a life as possible. Baz is also pretty adrift at the start of the book unsure where to go especially with most of his friends having recently graduated. So it helps him to have a project (if you will) in Elijah as it helps to give him purpose. And through that he also stumbles onto a path that will give him a life after graduation because that’s not something he can put off forever.

I just loved how Baz and Elijah interacted throughout the entire story. Oh they had their ups and downs but overall they were just perfectly matched. They made my heart ache and had me turning the pages as fast as I could just to see how their story would end. But at the same time I hated to hit that last page because I didn’t want to say goodbye to them. This is one of those stories that I wish was longer, more drawn out, because then I could stay with these characters longer. Saying goodbye is the hardest part with a book series and that is so very true with this one. If you like a heart achy romance then you should definitely give this series a try!!

 

irishdarkblue

Lonely Hearts Quote

 

Add Strong Signal by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell to Goodreads. (Click here for my review)

Add With This Heart by R.S. Grey to Goodreads. (Click here for my review)

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Friday, May 20, 2016

Review: The Revolution of Ivy by Amy Engel

Posted by Irish in 3 Stars, Review, Young Adult0 Comments

Review: The Revolution of Ivy by Amy EngelThe Revolution of Ivy by Amy Engel
Series: The Book of Ivy, Book 2
Also in this series: The Book of Ivy
Published by Entangled Teen on 03 Nov 2015
Genres: Action & Adventure, Dystopian, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Friendship, Futuristic Romance, Health & Daily Living, Love & Romance, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Young Adult
Reading Challenges: 2015 Reading Challenge
Pages: 290
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
AmazonAudibleBarnes & NobleThe Book DepositoryGoodreads
three-stars

Place(s) Traveled To: Unknown, America // Westfall, Unknown

First Line(s): No one survives beyond the fence.

THE REVOLUTION OF IVY is the final book in Amy Engel’s Book of Ivy duology. It picks up right where THE BOOK OF IVY (my review) leaves off and jumps right into the story. I really enjoyed THE BOOK OF IVY and its sequel continues in the same addictive voice although I did find Ivy a bit more annoying in this book than the first. It just seemed that in THE REVOLUTION OF IVY that she was much more whiny and less sure of herself. Granted when you are thrust out into an unknown world with little means to survive I can understand her hesitations, to a point. What I didn’t get were her interactions with Mark, a known killer, and how she continually let him berate her and convince her that her crimes were just as bad as his and so she must keep his secrets. When all Ivy’s crime really was, was to be born a Westfall and how she married a Lattimer.

THE REVOLUTION OF IVY, like its predecessor, is a quick brain candy sort of read. Its engrossing even though it remains a bit short on details when it comes to the building of the world. Most of the characters remain two dimensional and are forgotten almost as soon as they leave the page but there are a few that do stand out. Most notably is Bishop, who I liked more and more with each interaction with him. Bishop is a good balance for Ivy as she tends to be all over the map in this book while he remains a strong and steady force. Bishop is the sort of book boyfriend that you really want to know. After all, how many people do you know would leave the protected walls of their village just to find you?

Revolution of Ivy Quote

 

The middle of THE REVOLUTION OF IVY was a bit slow at times as not much happened. There was lots of waiting about as Ivy tried to figure out who she was in this new world and just how Bishop fit into it all. Then there were all the things that she left behind and the role she played in events that were still in motion. This resulted in a crazy rushed ending that left me a little unsatisfied as it just lacked something. I think it just all comes back to the fact that while Engel writes pretty prose she tends to put much weight and meaning into the words. This makes the book sound bad, which is wasn’t, its just more of a surface sort of read than anything too deep.

I enjoyed THE REVOLUTION OF IVY and thought that it was a fitting end to the duology as any more books would have just dragged things out unnecessarily. For all of Ivy’s annoyances she is a character that I will miss along with Bishop and some of the new characters that we meet in this book. I like Engel’s writing style and know that I will be reading more of her in the future. While I can’t recommend this duology to hard core dystopian fans I think those that are interested in stepping foot into this genre will like it. I also think that this series would make good beach/vacation reads as they don’t take a whole lot of thought to read. Its a fun series not an amazing one.

irishdarkblue IR - Book of Ivy

 

Add Matched by Ally Condie to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

Add The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

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Thursday, May 19, 2016

Review: Beta Test by Annabeth Alberts

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, New Adult, Review0 Comments

Review: Beta Test by Annabeth AlbertsBeta Test by Annabeth Albert
Series: Gaymers, Book 2
Also in this series: Status Update
Published by Carina Press on 30 May 2016
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Friendship, GLBT, Love & Romance, New Adult, People of Color, Road Trip, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues
Reading Challenges: 2016 Reading Challenge
Pages: 178
Format: eARC
AmazonAudibleBarnes & NobleGoodreads
four-stars

Place(s) Traveled To: Santa Monica, California // Los Angeles, California // Seattle, Washington // Weed, California // Eugene, Oregon // Glendale, California // Pasadena, California // Unknown, New Jersey

First Line(s): Tristan read the manual.

In BETA TEST, the newest book in Annabeth Alberts Gaymers series, Ravi and Tristan are co-workers and the total opposite of the other. Where Ravi is bold and fearless surrounded by chaos and people Tristan is muted and more focus on his lists and spreadsheets than the world around him. But despite how different they are Ravi and Tristan are drawn to each other time and time again. While there are times that their differences cause conflict, especially as they wage an inner war trying to deny the attraction, they compliment each other. They just need to find some common ground and stop letting their differences get in the way of all that makes these two perfect for each other.

The conflict between Ravi and Tristan in BETA TEST is such an epic journey (both literal and internal) that its sure to delight many a reader. For BETA TEST includes one of my favorite tropes….a road trip. Oh how real people become when they find themselves trapped in such close quarters for days on end. You can’t hid and you can’t just walk away (at least not easily) and at the end you’ll either be really close to the person in the car with you or never want to speak to them again. Luckily for us, Tristan and Ravi, find their way to each other. They learn to admire the difference they see in the other, to compliment it, and are just so tender with each other at times they just make your heart melt.

Beta Test Quote

There is definite conflict between the two men and as with 99.9% of romances, Ravi and Tristan go through a separation as real world difficulties throw some stumbling blocks on the path to their happily ever after. But all the pain of that is worth it for that super delightful ending. And, as a reader, you just know that Ravi and Tristan come out stronger for those road bumps which help build the foundation of their forever love. BETA TEST is a slow build romance and I just loved reading how these two came together. I do love a slow build as those sort of romances seem to burn brighter by the time the last page is turned.

BETA TEST is a quick read and its so easy to get lost within its pages. Its not perfect, the ending seemed a little rushed and I would have liked a few more pages to really round things out a bit. But overall, BETA TEST hit all the right notes for me. It made my heart ache and made me sigh with happiness as Ravi and Tristan worked through all their issues in order to find love and happiness in each other. Its a sweet romance and I think that if your reading tastes in any way align with mine that I think you’ll like this one.

irishdarkblue

IR - Beta Test

 

Add Tied to Trouble by Megan Erickson to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

Add Love Lessons by Heidi Cullinan to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Audio Review: Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

Posted by Irish in 3 Stars, Audiobook, Review, Young Adult0 Comments

Audio Review: Carry On by Rainbow RowellCarry On by Rainbow Rowell
(Website, Blog, Twitter, Goodreads)
Published by Macmillian Audio on 06 Oct 2016
Genres: Abduction, Adolescence, Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, Fantasy, Friendship, Love & Romance, Mystery & Detective, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Witches & Wizards, Young Adult
Reading Challenges: 2015 Reading Challenge
Narrator: Euan Morton
Length: 13 hrs and 42 mins
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible.com
AmazonAudibleBarnes & NobleThe Book DepositoryGoodreads
three-stars

Place(s) Traveled To: Hampshire, England // London, England // Watford, England

First Line(s): I walk to the bus station by myself.

When talking with my friends after reading Rainbow Rowell’s FANGIRL (my review) it seems like I am one of the few that actually liked the little excerpts from Cath’s fan fiction story called Carry On. So when I heard that she was turning that into a book I was excited. Until I was not. CARRY ON is the name of Cath’s fan fiction but for this story its presented as the very last Simon Snow story and as such, I feel, as though it should have been titled something along the lines of Simon Snow and the <<blah blah blah>>. Although that may have been too close to HARRY POTTER which the Simon Snow story is clearly a  spoof of. Title aside though I still had some excitement but it all sort of fizzled by the time I had this very large book in my hands.

CARRY ON started off really really slow for me and I wasn’t a fan of the fact that they didn’t use a female narrator for the female POV chapters. Euon Morton does a fair enough job overall as the narrator but as with all male narrators female voices aren’t where he excels. I did like his vocal choices for Simon and Baz but the rest? Not as much. Speaking of Baz, this is a character that takes his own sweet time in showing up in the story. Things in CARRY ON do pick up a bit when he does but its still kind of a hot mess with little to no direction. There isn’t a whole ton of plot and the whole book is just sort of ramshackled together and I found myself rolling my eyes. A lot.

Carry On Quote

CARRY ON is also billed as this great M/M Romance and it fails there too because for a lot of the book Simon has a girlfriend. Then when he decides he likes Baz it just never feels real. Simon is such a surfacy 2D character that its hard to believe any of the emotions that he’s supposed to be feeling. And for a book that is a romance there should be more push/pull/something that happens between the characters. But with CARRY ON this doesn’t really develop until a good three quarters of the way through the book and then it just falls flat. A lot of this I think is due to the poor writing and the very mediocre narrator that was Simon Snow. I think if Baz had been telling CARRY ON I may have liked it a little more. Maybe.

From a fantasy standpoint, CARRY ON only barely squeeks by. Its just cobbled together with a bunch of tropes and its so very predictable. I guessed all the big twists very very early on and as such just sort of rolled my eyes at the attempted mic drop moments. I also felt that at times the POV just shifted way too rapidly that I almost got whiplash. I also didn’t get why certain characters were in the story at all since they did nothing to move the plot along and just bogged down the story. In the end, I was pretty disappointed with CARRY ON as I just expected so much more from this story. I think in the future I’ll still to Rowell’s contemporary works and turn to others when I am looking for a fantasy read.

 

irishdarkblue

IR - Carry On

 

Add Wizard’s Hall by Jane Yolen to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

Add The Spirit Thief by Rachel Aaron to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

 

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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Picked up on a Whim

Posted by Irish in Top Ten Tuesday5 Comments

Graphic made by David at From My Bookshelf

Graphic made by David at From My Bookshelf

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish this weeks topic is all about those books that we buy that we really didn’t plan on buying. Maybe it was because of the cover or the synopsis or because the friend you were will pushed it into your hands and said BUY THIS BOOK! Here are the last ten random books that I purchased with no plan. (Links go to Goodreads.)

1. Dan vs. Nature by Don Calame – Dan Weekes has two dreams in life: to become a famous graphic novelist and to one day muster the courage to ask Erin Reilly out on a date. Dan’s mom, however, has just one goal: to date every man in the state of California until she finally finds her Prince Charming.

When Dan comes home to find a Hugh Jackman look-alike in his kitchen, he’s prepared to write off this mountain-man-slash-dentist as another soon-to-be-ex. But then his mom drops a bomb: she and Hugh—er, Hank—are engaged, and she’s sending her “two favorite men” on a survivalist camping trip in the wilds of Idaho to “bond.”

But Dan knows that it’s only a matter of time till Hank shows his true—flawed—colors, so together with his nerdy, germophobe best friend, Charlie, Dan launches Operation Torment Crusade—a series of increasingly gross and embarrassing pranks they’ll pull on Hank until he breaks like a twig. But the boys didn’t count on a hot girl joining their trip or a man-hungry bear stalking their every move. How can Dan possibly scare off Hank when his very survival now depends on him?

2. Down for the Count by Christine Bell – Truth or dare…or TKO?

When Lacey Garrity finds her groom in flagrante delicto in the reception hall closet with her bridesmaid, she’s saved by her best friend’s older brother—childhood tormentor, crush, and boxing bad boy Galen Thomas. Galen’s solution is both exciting and dangerous. What better way to forget the mess of her life than go on her honeymoon with a hot guy who can’t promise anything beyond today?

Galen had been counting on Lacey’s wedding to put her out of reach—and out of his mind—once and for all, but their steamy Puerto Rican escape is testing all his boundaries. Now that Lacey’s embracing her inner bad girl, Galen is tempted to throw in the towel and claim her for himself. But with the biggest fight of his career on the line and an important business merger threatening to derail Lacey’s resolve, their romance might be down for the count before it even begins.

3. Lumberjanes Volume 3: A Terrible Plan – This New York Times Bestselling series continues with Jo, April, Mal, Molly, and Ripley as they take on everything that goes bump in the night. From scary stories to magical portals that lead to a land untouched by time, it’s definitely not your average summer. (Lumberjanes #9-12)

4. Sutphin Boulevard by Santino Hassell – Michael Rodriguez and Nunzio Medici have been friends for two decades. From escaping their dysfunctional families in the working-class neighborhood of South Jamaica, Queens to teaching in one of the city’s most queer friendly schools in Brooklyn, the two men have shared everything. Or so they thought until a sweltering night of dancing leads to an unexpected encounter that forever changes their friendship.

Now, casual touches and lingering looks are packed with sexual tension, and Michael can’t forget the feel of his best friend’s hands on him. Once problems rear up at work and home, Michael finds himself seeking constant escape in the effortless intimacy and mind-blowing sex he has with Nunzio. But things don’t stay easy for long.

When Michael’s world begins to crumble in a sea of tragedy and complications, he knows he has to make a choice: find solace in a path of self-destruction or accept the love of the man who has been by his side for twenty years.

5. Alex by Sawyer Bennett – Hockey star Alexander Crossman has a reputation as a cold-hearted player on and off the rink. Pushed into the sport by an alcoholic father, Alex isn’t afraid to give fans the proverbial middle finger, relishing his role as the MVP they love to hate. Management, however, isn’t so amused. Now Alex has a choice: fix his public image through community service or ride the bench. But Alex refuses to be molded into the Carolina Cold Fury poster boy . . . not even by a tempting redhead with killer curves.

As a social worker, Sutton Price is accustomed to difficult people–like Alex, who’s been assigned to help her create a drug-abuse awareness program for at-risk youth as part of the team’s effort to clean up his image. What she doesn’t expect is the arrogant smirk from his perfect lips to stir her most heated fantasies. But Sutton isn’t one to cross professional boundaries–and besides, Alex doesn’t do relationships . . . or does he? The more she sees behind Alex’s bad-boy facade, the more Sutton craves the man she uncovers.”

6. Hidden Bodies by Caroline Kepnes – Joe Goldberg is no stranger to hiding bodies. In the past ten years, this thirty-something has buried four of them, collateral damage in his quest for love. Now he’s heading west to Los Angeles, the city of second chances, determined to put his past behind him.

In Hollywood, Joe blends in effortlessly with the other young upstarts. He eats guac, works in a bookstore, and flirts with a journalist neighbor. But while others seem fixated on their own reflections, Joe can’t stop looking over his shoulder. The problem with hidden bodies is that they don’t always stay that way. They re-emerge, like dark thoughts, multiplying and threatening to destroy what Joe wants most: true love. And when he finds it in a darkened room in Soho House, he’s more desperate than ever to keep his secrets buried. He doesn’t want to hurt his new girlfriend—he wants to be with her forever. But if she ever finds out what he’s done, he may not have a choice…

7. Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh – This is a book I wrote. Because I wrote it, I had to figure out what to put on the back cover to explain what it is. I tried to write a long, third-person summary that would imply how great the book is and also sound vaguely authoritative–like maybe someone who isn’t me wrote it–but I soon discovered that I’m not sneaky enough to pull it off convincingly. So I decided to just make a list of things that are in the book:

Pictures
Words
Stories about things that happened to me
Stories about things that happened to other people because of me
Eight billion dollars*
Stories about dogs
The secret to eternal happiness*

*These are lies. Perhaps I have underestimated my sneakiness!

8. Hamilton the Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda – Lin-Manuel Miranda’s groundbreaking musical Hamilton is as revolutionary as its subject, the poor kid from the Caribbean who fought the British, defended the Constitution, and helped to found the United States. Fusing hip-hop, pop, R&B, and the best traditions of theater, this once-in-a-generation show broadens the sound of Broadway, reveals the storytelling power of rap, and claims our country’s origins for a diverse new generation.

HAMILTON: THE REVOLUTION gives readers an unprecedented view of both revolutions, from the only two writers able to provide it. Miranda, along with Jeremy McCarter, a cultural critic and theater artist who was involved in the project from its earliest stages–“since before this was even a show,” according to Miranda–traces its development from an improbable perfor­mance at the White House to its landmark opening night on Broadway six years later. In addition, Miranda has written more than 200 funny, revealing footnotes for his award-winning libretto, the full text of which is published here.

Their account features photos by the renowned Frank Ockenfels and veteran Broadway photographer, Joan Marcus; exclusive looks at notebooks and emails; interviews with Questlove, Stephen Sond­heim, leading political commentators, and more than 50 people involved with the production; and multiple appearances by Presi­dent Obama himself. The book does more than tell the surprising story of how a Broadway musical became a national phenomenon: It demonstrates that America has always been renewed by the brash upstarts and brilliant outsiders, the men and women who don’t throw away their shot.

9. Ruthless by Michelle St. James – Two years out of college, Angelica Bondesan spends her time working as a barista, keeping in touch with her prodigal brother, and trying to figure out how to bridge the gap with her father, a wealthy real estate developer.

But all of that changes the night she’s kidnapped. Thrown into a windowless room, Angelica is positive there’s been some kind of mistake — until she meets Nico Vitale.

Gorgeous and frightening, Nico became the boss of New York City’s Vitale crime family after the execution style murder of his parents two years earlier. Since then he’s turned the old-school mob into a sleek, modern army of ruthless men who understand that physical violence — while always an option — isn’t the only way to get what you want.

Now Angel is forced to face the truth;

Her father is not the man she believed him to be.

Nico Vitale is dangerous, possibly lethal.

She is falling in love with Nico Vitale.

10. Lafayette in the Somewhat United States by Sarah Vowell – From the bestselling author of Assassination Vacation andUnfamiliar Fishes, a humorous and insightful account of the Revolutionary War hero Marquis de Lafayette–the one Frenchman we could all agree on–and an insightful portrait of a nation’s idealism and its reality.

On August 16, 1824, an elderly French gentlemen sailed into New York Harbor and giddy Americans were there to welcome him. Or, rather, to welcome him back. It had been thirty years since the Revolutionary War hero the Marquis de Lafayette had last set foot in the United States, and he was so beloved that 80,000 people showed up to cheer for him. The entire population of New York at the time was 120,000.

Lafayette’s arrival in 1824 coincided with one of the most contentious presidential elections in American history, Congress had just fought its first epic battle over slavery, and the threat of a Civil War loomed. But Lafayette, belonging to neither North nor South, to no political party or faction, was a walking, talking reminder of the sacrifices and bravery of the revolutionary generation and what they wanted this country to be. His return was not just a reunion with his beloved Americans, it was a reunion for Americans with their own astonishing singular past.

Lafayette in the Somewhat United States is a humorous and insightful portrait of the famed Frenchman, the impact he had on our young country, and his ongoing relationship with some of the instrumental Americans of the time, including George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, and many more.

irishdarkblue

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Monday, May 16, 2016

Excerpt: The Only Thing Worse Than Me is You by Lily Anderson

Posted by Irish in Blog Tour, Excerpt0 Comments

 

The Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You

.

THE ONLY THING WORSE THAN ME IS YOU: A Novel

By Lily Anderson

St. Martin’s Griffin

On Sale: May 17, 2016

Hardcover: 9781250079091 / $18.99 USD

eBook: 9781466891722 / $9.99 USD

 

SUMMARY:

Trixie Watson has two very important goals for senior year: to finally save enough to buy the set of Doctor Who figurines at the local comic books store, and to place third in her class and knock Ben West—and his horrendous new mustache that he spent all summer growing—down to number four.

Trixie will do anything to get her name ranked over Ben’s, including give up sleep and comic books—well, maybe not comic books—but definitely sleep. After all, the war of Watson v. West is as vicious as the Doctor v. Daleks and Browncoats v. Alliance combined, and it goes all the way back to the infamous monkey bars incident in the first grade. Over a decade later, it’s time to declare a champion once and for all.

The war is Trixie’s for the winning, until her best friend starts dating Ben’s best friend and the two are unceremoniously dumped together and told to play nice. Finding common ground is odious and tooth-pullingly-painful, but Trixie and Ben’s cautious truce slowly transforms into a fandom-based tentative friendship. When Trixie’s best friend gets expelled for cheating and Trixie cries foul play, however, they have to choose who to believe and which side they’re on—and they might not pick the same side.

Excerpt

Chapter One

Ben West spent summer vacation growing a handlebar mustache.

Seriously.

Hovering over his upper lip—possibly glued there—was a bushy monstrosity that shouted, “Look out, senior class, I’m gonna tie some chicks to the train tracks and then go on safari with my good friend Teddy Roosevelt. Bully!”

       I blindly swatted at Harper with my comic book, trying to alert her to the fact that there was a mustachioed moron trying to blend in with the other people entering campus.

“I know I should have made flash cards for the poems that Cline assigned,” she said, elbowing me back hard, both acknowledging that she wasn’t blind and that she hated when I interrupted her monologues about the summer reading list. “But I found Mrs. Bergman’s sociolinguistics syllabus on the U of O website and I’m sure she’ll use the same one here.”

The mustache twitched an attempt at freedom, edging away from West’s ferrety nose as he tried to shove past a group of nervous looking freshmen. It might have been looking at me and Harper, but its owner was doing everything possible to ignore us, the planter box we were sitting on, and anything else that might have been east of the wrought iron gate.

“So,” Harper continued, louder than necessary considering we were sitting two inches apart. “I thought I’d get a head start. But now I’m afraid that we were supposed to memorize the poems for Cline. He never responded to my emails.”

Pushing my comic aside, I braced my hands against the brick ledge. The mustache was daring me to say something. Harper could hear it too, as evidenced by her staring up at the sun and muttering, “Or you could, you know, not do this.”

“Hey, West,” I called, ignoring the clucks of protest coming from my left. “I’m pretty sure your milk mustache curdled. Do you need a napkin?”

Ben West lurched to a stop, one foot inside of the gate. Even on the first day of school, he hadn’t managed to find a clean uniform. His polo was a series of baggy wrinkles, half tucked into a pair of dingy khakis. He turned his head. If the mustache had been able to give me the finger, it would have. Instead, it stared back at me with its curlicue fists raised on either side of West’s thin mouth.

“Hey, Harper,” he said. He cut his eyes at me and grumbled, “Trixie.”

I leaned back, offering the slowest of slow claps. “Great job, West. You have correctly named us. I, however, may need to change your mantle. Do you prefer Yosemite Sam or Doc Holliday? I definitely think it should be cowboy related.”

“Isn’t it cruel to make the freshmen walk past you?” he asked me, pushing the ratty brown hair out of his eyes. “Or is it some kind of ritual hazing?”

“Gotta scare them straight.” I gestured to my blonde associate. “Besides, I’ve got Harper to soften the blow. It’s like good cop, bad cop.”

“It is nothing like good cop, bad cop. We’re waiting for Meg,” Harper said, flushing under the smattering of freckles across her cheeks as she turned back to the parking lot, undoubtedly trying to escape to the special place in her head where pop quizzes—and student council vice presidents—lived. She removed her headband,  pushing it back in place until she once again looked like Sleeping Beauty in pink glasses and khakis. Whereas I continued to look like I’d slept on my ponytail.

Which I had because it is cruel to start school on a Wednesday.

“Is it heavy?” I asked Ben, waving at his mustache. “Like weight training for your face? Or are you just trying to compensate for your narrow shoulders?”

He gave a half-hearted leer at my polo. “I could ask the same thing of your bra.”

My arms flew automatically to cover my chest, but I seemed to be able to only conjure the consonants of the curses I wanted to hurl at him. In his usual show of bad form, West took this as some sort of victory.

“As you were,” he said, jumping back into the line of uniforms on their way to the main building. He passed too close to Kenneth Pollack, who shoved him hard into the main gate, growling, “Watch it, nerd.”

“School for geniuses, Kenneth,” Harper called. “We’re all nerds.”

Kenneth flipped her off absentmindedly as West brushed himself off and darted past Mike Shepherd into the main building.

“Brute,” Harper said under her breath.

I scuffed the planter box with the heels of my mandatory Mary Janes. “I’m off my game. My brain is still on summer vacation. I totally left myself open to that cheap trick.”

“I was referring to Kenneth, not Ben,” she frowned. “But, yes, you should have known better. Ben’s been using that bra line since fourth grade.”

As a rule, I refused to admit when Harper was right before eight in the morning. It would just lead to a full day of her gloating. I hopped off of the planter and scooped up my messenger bag, shoving my comic inside.

“Come on. I’m over waiting for Meg. She’s undoubtedly choosing hair care over punctuality. Again.”

Harper slid bonelessly to her feet, sighing with enough force to slump her shoulders as she followed me through the front gate and up the stairs. The sunlight refracted against her pale hair every time her neck swiveled to look behind us. Without my massive aviator sunglasses, I was sure I would have been blinded by the glare.

“What’s with you?” I asked, kicking a stray pebble out of the way.

“What? Nothing.” Her head snapped back to attention, knocking her glasses askew. She quickly straightened them with two trembling hands. “Nothing. I was just thinking that maybe senior year might be a good time for you to end your war with Ben. You’d have more time to study and read comics and…”

Unlike the tardy Meg, Harper was tall enough that I could look at her without craning my neck downward. It made it easier to level her with a droll stare. Sometimes, it’s better to save one’s wit and just let the stupidity of a thought do the talking.

She rolled her eyes and clucked again, breezing past me to open the door.

“Or not,” she said, swinging the door open and letting me slip past her. “Year ten of Watson v. West starts now. But if one of you brings up the day he pushed you off the monkey bars, I am taking custody of Meg and we are going to sit with the yearbook staff during lunch.”

“I accept those terms,” I grinned. “Now help me think of historical figures with mustaches. Hitler and Stalin are entirely too obvious. I need to brainstorm before we get homework.”

Lily Anderson_CREDIT Sarah Lambert

AUTHOR BIO:

Lily Anderson is an elementary school librarian and Melvil Dewey fangirl with an ever-growing collection of musical theater tattoos and Harry Potter ephemera. She lives in Northern California. THE ONLY THING WORSE THAN ME IS YOU is her debut novel.

 

AUTHOR LINKS:

Wesbite: http://mslilyanderson.com/about/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mslilyanderson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ms_lilyanderson

Tumblr: http://mslilyanderson.tumblr.com/

 

PUBLISHER LINKS:

Website: www.griffinteen.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GriffinTeen?fref=ts

Twitter: https://twitter.com/GriffinTeen

Tumblr: http://griffinteen.tumblr.com/

 

PRAISE:

“There’s a lot to enjoy in debut novelist Anderson’s geek-positive update of Much Ado About Nothing, including intense comic book fandom, a cheating scandal, student council drama, themed dances, and two central characters engaged in an epic love-hate relationship. Readers familiar with the Shakespeare will enjoy Anderson’s riffs on the original’s plot points as Trixie and Ben get their nerdily-ever-after ending.” —Publishers Weekly

“This is the kind of book that would get lost with you in a comic book shop. It would stay up late with you for a midnight release movie. It would let you practice your moves in a fighting game, before things got started. Basically, this book is the geeky best friend you’ve always wanted. A hilarious, heartfelt book that treats pop culture and Shakespeare with the same reverence and adoration, The Only Thing Worse than Me Is You a perfect geeky read that I wish I’d had in high school. If you could rate books on a scale of comic book conditions, this book would be MINT.” —Eric Smith, blogger and author of The Geek’s Guide to Dating

“This was a super fun retelling of Much Ado! I absolutely loved the voice in this book and the banter was A+++++.”

Ashley Herring Blake, author of Suffer Love

“I raced through the arc of this fast paced, smart, funny high school mystery inspired by Much Ado About Nothing! Trixie Watson’s senior year at her high school for the gifted and talented goes wildly awry. First, her lifelong nemesis has a surprising change of heart about her and second, a cheating scandal involves one of her closest friends. Trixie’s evolving romance was pitch perfect and the mystery of the cheating kept me hooked until the last page. This is a sweet, intelligent and clever story. The dialogue is phenomenal! Highly, highly recommend!” —Karen Fortunati, author of The Weight of Zero

“I loved The Only Thing Worse than Me Is You. It’s not only fun and witty—it’s also generous and big-hearted. And as a bonus, it’s thoroughly appreciated of fandom culture AND has good parental relationships.” —Jennifer Mason-Black, author of Devil and the Bluebird

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Monday, May 16, 2016

Blog Tour Review + Excerpt: Charged by Jay Crownover

Posted by Irish in 3 Stars, Adult, Blog Tour, Contest, Excerpt, Review0 Comments

Blog Tour Review + Excerpt: Charged by Jay Crownover

Blog Tour Review + Excerpt: Charged by Jay CrownoverCharged by Jay Crownover
(Website, Blog, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads)
Series: Saints of Denver, Book 2
Also in this series: Leveled
Published by William Morrow on 24 May 2016
Genres: Adult, Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Family, Friendship, Love & Romance, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance
Reading Challenges: 2016 Reading Challenge
Pages: 361
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
AmazonAudibleBarnes & NobleThe Book DepositoryGoodreads
three-stars

Place(s) Traveled To: Denver, Colorado

First Line(s): Don’t worry, Sprite, bad decisions always make for good stories…

CHARGED is the newest book in Jay Crownover’s Saints of Denver series and involves characters that we’ve met in this series and also in Crownover’s Marked Men books. Avett is the daughter of the man who used to own the Bar that Rome (my review) now owns and Quaid is the lawyer who helped Asa (my review) out when he got in too deep. CHARGED is the quintessential opposites attract story with the very uptight straight laced lawyer falling for the girl who can’t seem to stay out of trouble. They meet when Quaid is hired to help Avett when she’s arrested as a result of the events that happened in ASA. Avett is one of those characters that I’ve been interested in since she first walked across the page because she just seemed in desperate need of a HEA so I was excited to read her story. However, for me, she went from being an interesting character to one that annoyed me at every turn.

Like most broken characters, Avett has a tragic backstory but I don’t buy her actions that result from it. She claims that she’s trying to redeem herself for the mistakes of her past and yet she only continues on her path of self-destruction. If someone was truly on a path of redemption then wouldn’t they be trying to become better than they were and not continue to make poor choices? Although if she didn’t then she may not have encountered Quaid as they don’t come anywhere close to running in the same circles even though Quiad is friends with people who are part of her circle.  One thing I did like is the growth that both Quaid and Avett went through over the course of the novel as they each found a way to bring balance and stability into their lives.

CHARGED - Tour Teaser 2

CHARGED is more than just a boy meets girl love story and while I often love romances that have a little meat on their bones this one just seemed a little too over the top. I also wasn’t a fan of the random POV that happened at the 80% mark. There was absolutely no reason for it and it didn’t add anything to the story. All it did was set up a character for the next book to come, a character which was already introduced in the Marked Men series and so really didn’t need a POV chapter here. Especially since, to date, Crownover has stuck with POVs just from her hero and heroine. To me, this just distracted me and took me out of the story as it just didn’t fit.

Overall, CHARGED was just an ok read for me. It was a book that I wanted to love as I often love Crownover’s characters but Avett just annoyed me too much. CHARGED is a quick read and I know that it is going to appeal to many readers. I know I am picky and can be hard on books so what bothers me is sure to not be an issue for other readers. If you are a fan of Jay Crownover then pick up CHARGED you will probably like it.

irishdarkblue

From New York Times bestselling author Jay Crownover comes CHARGED, the latest in her sexy The Saints of Denver Series, releasing May 24th! Known for her strong heroines and alpha males, you won’t know what hit you as you read Avett and Quaid’s story. Keep reading for more about the Leagle Eagle and Avett and order your copy today.

Excerpt

Avett

                I blew out a breath and felt that bottom I had careened onto reach up to embrace me even tighter. “It is what it is. I’ve let both my folks down a lot over the last few years but getting caught up with a guy that would rob the bar, a guy who could threaten my dad’s people.” I shook my head. “I deserve to rot.”

                I was being overly dramatic but that’s how I felt. I deserved to sit in jail and so much worse than that. Self-pity was good company down here at rock bottom and I wasn’t ready to let go of the warmth it provided just yet.

                He gave me a look I couldn’t read and headed for the door. “I’ll call your parents for you and see if we can have something in place before tomorrow. Working on your case will be a lot easier for both of us if you aren’t incarcerated. Remember, you need to listen to me, Ms. Walker. That’s the first rule in all of this.”

                Panic hit me like a truck. What if he called my dad and my dad told him he’d had enough of his problematic daughter and her endless nonsense? What if he couldn’t love me anymore? Jail I could survive; losing my father for good, well, it would be the end of me.

                Without thinking I jumped to my feet, which had the chains on both my hands and my legs rattling loudly, and two uniformed officers hurried into the room. I was about to make maybe the worst decision to date but I couldn’t stop the words from sliding off my tongue.

                “Don’t call my dad!” Recklessness, thy name was Avett Walker.

                The attorney turned around and looked at me like I had grown a second head. He didn’t say anything as the officers moved to either side of me and told me to calm down.

                “You can’t call my dad.” The words sounded as panicked and as desperate as I felt on the inside.

                His broad shoulders lifted and fell in a shrug like he really couldn’t give a shit that he was about to ruin my life…which was saying a hell of a lot considering where I was.

                “I have to.” He sounded bored and impatient with my outburst.

                I narrowed my eyes at him, and that vortex of awful, which I always seemed to be smack dab in the center of, started to spin faster and faster around me.

                “Then you’re fired.” I saw the cops exchange a look and my rushed words had the blond man turning fully back around to look at me. “I don’t want your help. I don’t want anything from you.”

                Finally, there was something other than indifference in his gaze. There was surprise, maybe a hint of admiration colliding with a huge splash of humor in the pale depths.

                “Sorry, Ms. Walker, but you didn’t hire me, so that means you don’t get to fire me.” That grin of his, which should be registered as a deadly weapon, flashed across his face again as he watched me, and then he was gone.

 

Amazon ** iBooks ** Barnes & Noble ** Kobo

About CHARGED:

From the New York Times bestselling author of the Marked Men books comes the second installment in the Saints of Denver series featuring a bad girl and a by the book attorney who could be her salvation…or her ruin.

Avett Walker and Quaid Jackson’s worlds have no reason to collide. Ever. Quaid is a high powered criminal attorney as slick as he is handsome. Avett is a pink-haired troublemaker with a bad attitude and a history of picking the wrong men.

When Avett lands in a sea of hot water because of one terrible mistake, the only person who can get her out of it is the insanely sexy lawyer. The last thing on earth she wants to do is rely on the no-nonsense attorney who thinks of her as nothing more than a nuisance. He literally has her fate in his hands. Yet there is something about him that makes her want to convince him to loosen his tie and have a little fun…with her.

Quaid never takes on clients like the impulsive young woman with a Technicolor dye job. She could stand to learn a hard lesson or two, but something about her guileless hazel eyes intrigues him. Still, he’s determined to keep their relationship strictly business. But doing so is becoming more impossible with each day he spends with her.

As they work side-by-side, they’ll have to figure out a way to get along and keep their hands off each other—because the chemistry between them is beyond charged.

 

CHARGED - Tour Teaser 1

 

 

And don’t miss the first titles in The Saints of Denver Series!

 

LEVELED - cover

LEVELED

 

Studio portrait of young bearded man --- Image by © pinkypills/Corbis

BUILT

 

 

Jay Crownover - author picAbout Jay Crownover:

Jay Crownover is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Marked Men, The Point, and the Saints of Denverseries. Like her characters, she is a big fan of tattoos. She loves music and wishes she could be a rock star, but since she has no aptitude for singing or instrument playing, she’ll settle for writing stories with interesting characters that make the reader feel something. She lives in Colorado with her three dogs.

 

 

 

Website ** Blog ** Facebook ** Twitter

CHARGED Goodreads ** Jay Crownover Goodreads

 

 

 

 

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CHARGED Review & Excerpt Tour

May 16th

Ramblings From This Chick – Review & Excerpt

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Booky Ramblings of a Neurotic Mom – Review & Excerpt

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May 17th

Never Judge a Book by its Cover – Review & Excerpt

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Desert Divas Book Addiction – Review & Excerpt

Literati Literature Lovers – Review & Excerpt

BFF Book Blog – Review & Excerpt

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May 18th

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May 19th

Ineffable Book Blog – Review & Excerpt

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