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Friday, July 8, 2016

Audio Review: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Audiobook, Review, Young Adult0 Comments

Audio Review: Six of Crows by Leigh BardugoSix of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Narrator: Brandon Rubin, David LeDoux, Elizabeth Evans, Jay Snyder, Lauren Fortgang, Roger Clark, Tristan Morris
Series: Six of Crows,
Published by Brilliance Audio on 29 Sept 2015
Genres: Abduction, Action & Adventure, Assassins, Death & Dying, Diseases, Emotions & Feelings, Epic Fantasy, Espionage, Friendship, Health & Daily Living, Illnesses & Injuries, Mystery & Detective, People of Color, Politics & Intrigue, Road Trip, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Suspense, Witches & Wizards, Young Adult
Length: 15 hrs and 9 mins
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible.com
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
four-stars
Also by this author: Shadow & Bone, Summer Days and Summer Nights

Place(s) Traveled To: Ketterdam, Kerch // Dierholm, Fjerda

First Line(s): Joost had two problems: the moon and his mustache.

Narrators: Jay Snyder (Matthias), David LeDoux (Kaz), Brandon Rubin (Jesper), Lauren Fortgang (Inej), Roger Clark (Pekka), Elizabeth Evans (Nina), and Tristan Morris (Joost)

Confession time, although this won’t come as a surprise to some, but I did not like SHADOW & BONE (my review). It was such a struggle to get through and I just couldn’t be bothered with the other books in that series. So when I heard that Leigh Bardugo’s next series was also set in the Grisha universe I wasn’t sure if I would read SIX OF CROWS. But I was curious and so I kept sussing out what people thought about it and then when I was looking for a new audiobook it just up and stumbled into my basket. The SIX OF CROWS audio is a full cast recording and uses different narrators for each POV. I was intrigued by this and it wasn’t long before the story grabbed a hold of me in a way that SHADOW & BONE never did.

Curiosity

I’ll admit SIX OF CROWS did start a little slow but it wasn’t long before I was engrossed in the story. I loved how all the different narrators approached this story and the life that they gave to these characters. Each narrator really helped bring out the personality of the characters, not just the one of the POV they were acting out but all the characters that they voiced. It was interesting to see how the narrators saw the others in this motley crew and I never had any issues figuring out who was who. I also found it  very help to listen to the audio as I’m sure I’d have stumbled over many of the names and words used in this book.

Six of Crows Quote

At its heart SIX OF CROWS is a heist story and if you like a good heist story then you will like this book. There is intrigue and betrayal and a whole lot of shenanigans. But its also a story of friendship, of family, and of finding oneself despite all of the odds. Its a coming of age story and its even a love story on some levels. There really is something for everyone in SIX OF CROWS and its fast paced enough to keep the reader on the edge of their seat. I know that I spent every free moment I could listening to this audio because once I became invested in this story I couldn’t stop listening. I just wanted to know more and when I hit the end I was bereft because it was over.

Another thing I like about SIX OF CROWS is that it has an ending. Oh there are still things that are left to be done and even a wee cliff hanger but you know were most of the players stand and you see the set up for things that will happen in CROOKED KINGDOM. But best of all, its not predictable. I have no idea where this story is going I just have my hopes and my fears on what Bardugo is going to go. SIX OF CROWS is an intricately woven story and I h ave no doubts that CROOKED KINGDOM is going to be the same. There are twists and turns around every corner and a whole lot of heartache and shenanigans ahead.

I did not expect to like SIX OF CROWS as much as I did. I wasn’t even sure that I would read it. But I am so very very glad that I did because I was so engrossed in this story. For me, its a whole different style and delivery than SHADOW & BONE. The characters have more depth and they are smart and feisty and while flawed they aren’t broken. Bardugo weaves in the history of the Grisha world and the backstorys of this crews expertly in the story that there are no slow info dump moments. SIX OF CROWS is definitely a story that can be read independently of SHADOW & BONE. So if you haven’t gotten around to reading that one yet, or if you are like me and you didn’t like it all that much I would say that you can easily pick this one up and know what is going on with the world and not be lost.

thumbs up

irishdarkblue

IR - Six of Crows

Add The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

Add Heist Society by Ally Carter to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

four-stars
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Thursday, July 7, 2016

Review: The Long Game by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Posted by Irish in 5 Stars, Review, Young Adult0 Comments

Review: The Long Game by Jennifer Lynn BarnesThe Long Game by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Series: The Fixer, Book 2
Also in this series: The Fixer
Published by Bloomsbury on 07 Jun 2016
Genres: Abduction, Contemporary (No Romance Focus), Emotions & Feelings, Family, Friendship, Mystery & Detective, Politics & Intrigue, Social Issues, Thrillers, Young Adult
Pages: 368
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
five-stars
Also by this author: The Fixer, The Naturals

Place(s) Traveled To: Washington, DC

First Line(s): “Tess, has anyone ever told you that you’re an absolute vision when you’re plotting something?” Asher Rhodes shot a lazy grin in my direction.

I don’t know about you dear reader but I was crazy excited to be able to get my hands on THE LONG GAME after finishing the wild ride that was THE FIXER!! There was an ending with THE FIXER but there were also just enough threads to leave this reader lusting for more and THE LONG GAME did not disappoint! THE LONG GAME picks up almost immediately after the events in THE FIXER end only the mysteries are bigger and the stakes higher and poor Tess may just be a tad bit over her head. Tess is still reeling from revelations that happened in THE FIXER and dealing the the consequences of that story so she really doesn’t need anything else going on. But trouble as a way of finding Tess and she just can’t let sleeping dogs lie. After all, who can be a normal teenager when your related to the biggest fixer in DC and go to one of the most elite schools in America?

I was totally sucked into this story right from page one and really hated to put it down for such mundane things as sleep or food. I just needed to see where Jennifer Lynn Barnes would take the story even as she broke my heart a time or two in the process. As I said above the stakes are higher in THE LONG GAME, lives are at stake and there is betrayal around every corner. The twists are twister and Barnes does an amazing job at keeping the reader guessing while not being so obtuse that the big reveal comes out of left field. THE LONG GAME is a crazy intense ride and its so hard to talk about without giving anything away.

One thing I really liked in THE LONG GAME is how Tess really comes into her own despite all the upheavals in her life. She is strong and smart and can take care of so much on her own but she always knows when things are above her and to ask for help. She may run head long into danger at times but she always makes sure that help is on the way. I also like how this series is not romance focused. Yes, there is a romance in the book but it sits more on the sidelines as THE LONG GAME is a straight up thriller. Its a book that will keep you on the edge of your seat while occasionally making you laugh and a few breaks in tension for a kiss or two.

I also really really really hope that this isn’t the end for this series because I would love to see more from Tess and the gang. Especially with some of the reveals that happened in THE LONG GAME. There are still threads that could be followed to bigger and crazier things. Although, I am not entirely sure that my heart could take more of the intensity that Barnes brings to this story. For me, THE LONG GAME was a total edge of my seat read and I count it as one of my top books of the year. You are really missing out on good crafty story telling if you haven’t picked up this series yet. There really aren’t words to describe how good it is just know that you won’t be disappointed if you pick up these books. If you are, then we can’t be friends. (kidding….maybe…gives you haters the stink eye)

intense

 

irishdarkblue IR - The Fixer

 

Add The Fixer by Jennifer Lynn Barnes to Goodreads. (click here for my review.)

Add Clarity by Kim Harrington to Goodreads. (click here for my review.)

Add Also Known As by Robin Benway to Goodreads. (click here for my review.)

five-stars
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Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Cover Reveal: Long Way Home by Katie McGarry

Posted by Irish in Cover Reveal0 Comments

LongWayHome-CoverRevealBanner

 

 

Being released on January 31st, 2017, the highly anticipated third book in Katie McGarry’s Thunder Road Series has a cover that we can’t wait to share with you! LONG WAY HOME is a Young Adult Contemporary Romance being published by Harlequin Teen! Pre-order your copy of the next book in this emotionally charged series, and don’t miss Violet and Chevy’s story!

 

 

LongWayHome-cover

Seventeen-year-old Violet has always been expected to sit back and let the boys do all the saving.

It’s the code her father, a member of the Reign of Terror motorcycle club, raised her to live by. Yet when her dad is killed carrying out Terror business, Violet knows it’s up to her to do the saving. To protect herself, and her vulnerable younger brother, she needs to cut all ties with the club—including Chevy, the boy she’s known and loved her whole life.

But when a rival club comes after Violet, exposing old secrets and making new threats, she’s forced to question what she thought she knew about her father, the Reign of Terror, and what she thinks she wants. Which means re-evaluating everything: love, family, friends . . . and forgiveness.

Caught in the crosshairs between loyalty and freedom, Violet must decide whether old friends can be trusted—and if she’s strong enough to be the one person to save them all.

“An intoxicating and unforgettable story that kept me glued to the page.”

Kami Garcia, #1 New York Times bestselling author, on Walk the Edge

 

Add it to your Goodreads Now!

 

LONG WAY HOME Pre-Order Links:

Amazon | Kobo | BAM | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | IndieBound

 

 

And Don’t Miss the First Two Titles in the Thunder Road Series!

Nowhere But Here - cover

NOWHERE BUT HERE

Walk the Edge - cover

WALK THE EDGE

 

 

Katie McGarry - author picKatie McGarry Bio:

Katie McGarry was a teenager during the age of grunge and boy bands and remembers those years as the best and worst of her life. She is a lover of music, happy endings, reality television, and is a secret University of Kentucky basketball fan.

Katie is the author of full length YA novels, PUSHING THE LIMITS, DARE YOU TO, CRASH INTO YOU, TAKE ME ON, BREAKING THE RULES, and NOWHERE BUT HERE and the e-novellas, CROSSING THE LINE and RED AT NIGHT. Her debut YA novel, PUSHING THE LIMITS was a 2012 Goodreads Choice Finalist for YA Fiction, a RT Magazine’s 2012 Reviewer’s Choice Awards Nominee for Young Adult Contemporary Novel, a double Rita Finalist, and a 2013 YALSA Top Ten Teen Pick. DARE YOU TO was also a Goodreads Choice Finalist for YA Fiction and won RT Magazine’s Reviewer’s Choice Best Book Award for Young Adult Contemporary fiction in 2013.

 

 

 

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr | Pinterest | Goodreads

 

 

 

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Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Blog Tour Guest Post: The Virgin and the Viscount by Charis Michaels

Posted by Irish in Blog Tour, Contest, Excerpt, Guest Post, Spotlight0 Comments

Blog Tour Guest Post: The Virgin and the Viscount by Charis Michaels

VirginandtheViscountCOVER

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About THE VIRGIN AND THE VISCOUNT

In the next sparkling romance in debut author Charis Michael’s Bachelor Lords of London series, a proper viscount meets his match in a beguiling virgin who can’t help but break all the rules.

The Virgin
Lady Elisabeth Hamilton-Baythes has a painful secret. At the innocent age of fifteen, she was abducted by highwaymen and sold to a brothel. After two days, a young lord discovers her and enacts a brave rescue to get her out. Now she’s a grown woman, working to save other girls from the horror she saw that night and never forgetting the young man who rescued her.

The Viscount
Bryson Courtland, Viscount Rainsleigh has overcome an abusive boyhood, neglectful parents, and a bankrupt title to be one of the wealthiest noblemen in Britain. He works tirelessly to be upright and forthright and proper to a fault. Now he requires only one thing: A proper, forthright, proper wife.

The Unraveling
When a charity event puts Lord Bryson and Lady Elisabeth face-to-face, Bryson has no memory of the wounded girl of long ago. All he can see is a perfect candidate to be his future wife. Elisabeth has never forgotten him, but she worries that the brave boy who saved her so long ago has become a rich man with an unfulfilled life.

As a whirlwind courtship reveals the truth, Bryson must accept that Elisabeth is actually a shadow from his dark past, while Elisabeth must show that love is the noblest virtue of all.

 

Guest Post

 

Crafting a Book Title with a Title:  How The Virgin and the Viscount Got Its Name

The Virgin and the Viscount was the very first romance manuscript I ever wrote, way back in 2004, twelve years before it would reach the hands of readers.

Back then, it had a working title of, A Proper Scandal.

Back then, it was not connected to another book like it is now.

Back then it was double the word count.

            After I finished the first draft, it languished with its old title and original length until I was able to revise it into my Bachelor Lords of London series.  To my delight, the revisions came easily, almost as if it belonged in the series from conception. Characters were combined.  Chapters were cut. My writing became more succinct.

What did not come as easily was giving the book a new title.

            When an author names a work of commercial fiction like romance, she has the challenge of making quite a lot of people happy.  Herself (obviously), her editor, the editors above her editor, the marketing and publicity teams, her readers, and simply the trending Zeitgeist.

But before I could please everyone, I had to think series, I had to think “Bachelor Lords,” I had to make this book fit with the book before it, The Earl Next Door.

Since Book I in the series contains the aristocratic title “Earl,” we felt second book should hit on the hero in general and mention his rank particular.

Ha! Easier said than done….Here, I share with you a very few of my many, many rejected false starts:

The Stone-Cold Viscount, The Viscount’s Vow, The Viscount’s Vice, The Viscount’s Only Vice, The Viscount Takes a Vice, Unraveling the Viscount or The Viscount Unraveled.

When these were all rejected and I was pulling my hair, I sent up:

Stand and Viscount-ed,  Down for the Viscount (personal favorite worst of the worst), Where the Viscount Ends, or Viscount on the Verge.

And finally (pathetically):  Don’t Viscount the Chickens Before They Hatch, which is what I felt I had done by writing this book into the series without deciding on a viable name at the onset.

Alas, we all know a title emerged and the book is called The Virgin and the Viscount.  To arrive at this, I finally caught on to what my publisher seemed to want, the perfect balance of little bit sexy + a little bit catchy.

I began to search words that began with “V” (for the catchy) that might also be provocative (for the sexy).  When I stumbled on “Virgin,” I thought, fingers crossed, I might I might have a winner—and I was right.  I got the thumbs-up from my publisher, my writing buddies, and I even felt like my characters would approve.

Now, ahem, if I can only convince my mother.

Excerpt

 

Prologue

 

On April 12, 1809, Franklin “Frankie” Courtland, 6th Viscount Rainsleigh, tripped on a root in the bottom of a riverbed and drowned.  He was drunk at the time, picnicking with friends on the banks of the River Wylye.  According an account later given to the magistrate, his lordship simply fell over, bumped into a fallen log, and sank.

It was there he remained—“enjoying the cool,” or so his friends believed—until he became too heavy, too slippery, and, alas, too dead to revive.  But they did dislodge him; and after that, they claimed he floated to the surface, bobbed several times, and then gently glided downstream.  He was later found just before sunset, face down and bloated (in life, as also in death), beached on a pebble shoal near Codford.

At the time the elder Courtland was sinking to the bottom of the river, his son and heir, Bryson was hunched over a desk in the offices of his fledgling shipping company, waiting for the very moment his father would die.  It had been an exceedingly long, progressively humiliating wait.  Years long—nay, decades.

Luckily for Bryson, for his ships and his future, he was capable of doing more things at once than wait, and while his father drank and debauched his way through all respectability and life, Bryson worked.

It was an unthinkable thing for a young heir and nobleman—to “work”—but Bryson was given little choice, considering the impoverished state of the Rainsleigh crest.  He was scarcely eleven years of age when he made first foray into labor, and not so many years after, into private enterprise.  His life in work had not ceased since.  On the rare occasion that he didn’t work, he studied.

With his meager earnings (he began by punting boats on the very river in which his father later drowned), he made meager investments.  These investments reaped small gains—first in shares in the punting station; later in property along the water; later still, in other industry up and down the river.

Bryon lived modestly, worked ceaselessly, and spared only enough to pay his way through Cambridge, bring up his brother, and see him educated him, as well.   Every guinea earned was reinvested.  He repeated the process again and again, a little less meagerly each time ‘round.

By the time the elder viscount’s self-destructive lifestyle wrought his river- and drink-soaked end, Bryson had managed to accrue a small fortune, launch a company that built and sailed ships, and construct an elaborate plan for what he would do when his father finally cocked up his toes and died.

When at last that day came, Bryson had but one complaint: it took fifty-two hours for the constable to find him.  He was a viscount for two days before anyone, including himself, even knew it.

But two days was a trifle compared to a lifetime of waiting.  And on the day he learned of his inheritance—nay, the very hour—he launched his long awaited plan.

By three o’clock on the fourth day, he’d razed the rotting, reeking east wing of the family estate in Wiltshire to the ground.

Within the week, he’d extracted his mother from the west wing and shipped her and a contingent of discreet caregivers to a villa in Spain.

Within the month, he’d sold every stick of furniture, every remaining fork and dish, every sweat-soaked toga and opium-tinged gown.  He burned the drapes, burned the rugs, burned the tapestries.  He delivered the half-starved horses and the fighting dogs to an agricultural college and pensioned off the remaining staff.

By the six-week mark, he’d unloaded the London townhome—sold at auction to the highest bidder—and with it, the broken-down carriage, his father’s dusty arsenal, what was left of the wine stores, and all the lurid art.

It was a whirlwind evacuation, a gutting, really, and no one among polite society had ever witnessed a son or heir take such absolute control and haul away so much family or property quite so fast.

But no one among polite society was acquainted with Bryson Anders Courtland, the new Viscount Rainsleigh.

And no one understood that it was not so much an ending as it was an entirely fresh start.  Once the tearing down ceased, the rebuilding could begin. New viscountsy, new money, new respect, new life.

It was an enterprise into which Bryson threw himself like no other. Unlike all others, however, he could only do so much, one man, alone. For this, he would require another.  A partner.   Someone with whom he could work together towards a common goal.  A collaborator who emulated his precise, immaculate manner. A matriarch, discreet and pure. A paragon of propriety.  A viscountess.  A proper, perfect wife.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

About CHARIS MICHAELS

 Charis Michaels is thrilled to be making her debut with Avon Impulse. Prior to writing romance, she studied Journalism at Texas A&M and managed PR for a trade association. She has also worked as a tour guide at Disney World, harvested peaches on her family’s farm, and entertained children as the “Story Godmother” at birthday parties. She has lived in Texas, Florida, and London, England. She now makes her home in the Washington, D.C.-metro area.

 

Where to buy THE VIRGIN AND THE VISCOUNT

Avon

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Google Play

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Contest

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Excerpt + Contest: Defending Taylor by Miranda Kenneally

Posted by Irish in Contest, Excerpt, Spotlight1 Comment

Praise for Defending Taylor

 

“I can’t quite put my finger on what is so enthralling about Kenneally’s newest novel, but it totally sucked me in. I loved that Kenneally didn’t go with an easy, traditional happy-go-lucky ending. I also enjoyed the flawed nature of the characters, which made them feel more relatable. This is a great summer read and my favorite novel by Kenneally so far!” –RT Book Reviews, 4 Stars

 Defending Taylor

Summary:

 

There are no mistakes in love.

Captain of the soccer team, president of the Debate Club, contender for valedictorian: Taylor’s always pushed herself to be perfect. After all, that’s what is expected of a senator’s daughter. But one impulsive decision—one lie to cover for her boyfriend—and Taylor’s kicked out of private school. Everything she’s worked so hard for is gone, and now she’s starting over at Hundred Oaks High.

Soccer has always been Taylor’s escape from the pressures of school and family, but it’s hard to fit in and play on a team that used to be her rival. The only person who seems to understand all that she’s going through is her older brother’s best friend, Ezra. Taylor’s had a crush on him for as long as she can remember. But it’s hard to trust after having been betrayed. Will Taylor repeat her past mistakes or can she score a fresh start?

 

Goodreads // Amazon //  Apple // Barnes&Noble //  BooksAMillion // !ndigo // Indiebound

 

Excerpt 

Excerpt from Defending Taylor:

I now understand culture shock: it’s me experiencing Hundred Oaks High for the first time.

A lot of kids go here. Five hundred? A thousand? There are so many I can’t tell. At St. Andrew’s, there were only forty kids in my entire class. We lived on a calm, sprawling, green campus. Walking down the halls of Hundred Oaks feels like last-­minute Christmas shopping at a crowded mall.

Two guys wearing football jerseys are throwing a ball back and forth. It whizzes by my ear. A suspender-­clad male teacher is hanging a poster for the science fair, while a couple is making out against the wall next to the fire alarm. If they move another inch, they’ll set off the sprinklers. At St. Andrew’s, kissing in the hall was an über no-­no. We snuck under the staircase or went out into the woods. Ben and I did that all the time.

Thinking of him makes me stop moving. I shut my eyes. Dating Ben was stupid. Going into the woods with him was stupid. Thinking about what happened makes me so mad, I want to rip that newly hung science fair poster off the wall and tear it apart.

A boy shoves past me, slamming my arm with his backpack. That’s what I get for loitering in the middle of the hallway with my eyes closed. He looks me up and down. “You coming to Rutledge Falls this afternoon?”

“What?”

“Paul Simmons challenged Nolan Chase to a fight. Rutledge Falls. Three o’clock. Don’t tell the cops.”

A fight? Where the hell am I? Westeros?

A girl bumps into my side. “Watch it!” Flashing me a dirty look, she disappears into a classroom with a group of friends, chattering away.

Seeing those girls together reminds me of my best friends, Steph and Madison. Right now, they’re probably gossiping before trig starts. I miss Steph’s cool British accent and Madison’s cheerful laugh.

I take a deep, rattled breath. And then another. I feel trapped, like the time I got locked in my grandpa’s garage and no one found me for an hour and I banged on the windows until my fists turned purple from bruises.

I can’t believe I had to leave my school. My home.

All because I made one stupid decision.

I check my schedule. My first class is calculus 1, the most advanced math course Hundred Oaks offers. Just a week ago, I was taking an advanced calculus quiz at the University of the South. St. Andrew’s is one of the best prep schools in the country, and they offer seniors the opportunity to take courses at the university, which is up the road. Even though I was still in high school, the professors treated me just like a college kid. I was only in the course for two weeks, but still. It was insanely difficult. The truth is, unlike everybody else in my family, I hate math. I have to work at it harder than anything else in my life.

But if I didn’t take college calc, there’s a good chance I wouldn’t get into an Ivy League school. I need to go to a top-tier school because that’s what people in my family do. My father attended Yale, and my sister Jenna is there now. According to Dad, my brother Oliver—­Jenna’s twin—­is a traitor for going to Princeton, but I think Dad respects him for having the balls to make his own decision.

Me?

When Dad called me into his home office last night, he barely looked at me as he pored over my new schedule. The silence was killing me.

“I don’t know how Yale will still consider me if I’m not taking all AP courses,” I said. “Hundred Oaks only offers AP chemistry.”

Dad sighed, took off his glasses, and set down my schedule. “I’m incredibly disappointed in you, Taylor.”

I looked him straight in the eyes. His quiet restraint worried me. I’d never seen him so upset.

But I was upset too. He rarely had time to call me when I was away at school, but he could spare a few minutes to comment on my one screwup? After how hard I’ve always worked?

Over the years, I’ve done hours of homework every night. I had a 4.2 GPA at St. Andrew’s. A 1520 SAT score. I was on track to be valedictorian. I was captain of the soccer team and on the debate team. I did everything I could to show Yale that I worked hard. That I am a unique individual. Because that’s what Yale wants.

But my one misstep has muddied my glowing record.

Dad ended our conversation with a death knell.

“Tee, I gave you all the tools you needed to succeed,” he said. “I’ve paid for your private school education since first grade, and you squandered it by getting kicked out.”

“I’m sorry,” I said, my face burning. “I’m going to keep working hard at Hundred Oaks though.”

“You’re damn right you will.”

My father had me so flustered, I wasn’t thinking straight when I said, “Maybe Yale will still take me because of who I am.”

“You mean because of who I am.” Dad rubbed his eyes. “I’ve always taught you kids the importance of integrity, and the minute you got into trouble, instead of owning it, you called me to bail you out. And now you’re doing it again. Using my name to try to get ahead.”

I hung my head. “I’m sorry, Dad.”

“I love you more than anything, but you have to take responsibility for what you did. You’ll have to figure college out on your own.”

“What does that mean?” I asked slowly.

“It means I’m not lifting a finger. I won’t be calling the alumni association or the school president to put in a good word for you.”

“But didn’t you do that for Jenna and Oliver?” I blurted.

He put his glasses back on. “You need to own up, Tee.”

So here I am, glancing around the unfamiliar halls of Hundred Oaks. The school is neat and orderly, but it doesn’t look completely clean, like no matter how hard you scrub, it still looks old. At least it’s not juvie.

I step into my math class, which is already filled with kids. I choose an empty seat at a wobbly wooden desk and stare out the window at the sunny, seventy-­degree September day. I bet at St. Andrew’s, my world politics teacher is telling my friends, “Gather your books. It’s a beautiful day out. Let’s have class in one of the gardens.”

I check out the problem set on the whiteboard. I could do this level of math years ago…

My former guidance counselor told me that colleges look for trends in our GPA and activities over four years of high school. So that means when colleges see my application, they will see:

      I’m taking easier classes;

      I’m no longer doing debate;

      I’ve lost my soccer captainship this year; and

      I was expelled.

I have never simply given up when calculus got a lot tougher or an opponent ran faster than me on the soccer field. So I refuse to believe my entire future is over because of one mistake.

I just need to figure out how to move forward.

Defending Taylor Quote

About the Author:

Growing up in Tennessee, MIRANDA KENNEALLY dreamed of becoming an Atlanta Brave, a country singer (cliché!), or a UN interpreter. Instead she writes and works for the State Department in Washington, D.C., where George W. Bush once used her shoulder as an armrest. Miranda loves Twitter, Star Trek and her husband. Visit mirandakenneally.com

 

Social Media Links:

Website: http://mirandakenneally.com/

Twitter: @MirandaKennealy

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mirandakenneally/

Contest

 

Rafflecopter Giveaway Link for 2 Copies of Defending Taylor

 

Runs July 1-July 30 (US & Canada only)

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Friday, July 1, 2016

Review: Deeper by Robin York

Posted by Irish in 3 Stars, New Adult, Review0 Comments

Review: Deeper by Robin YorkDeeper by Robin York
Series: Caroline & West,
Published by Bantam on 28 January 2014
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, Love & Romance, New Adult, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues
Pages: 370
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
three-stars

Place(s) Traveled To: Putnam, Iowa // Ankeny, Iowa

First Line(s): Sometimes I hate the girl I was back then.

 

DEEPER by Robin York is a book that came to me highly recommended by a few different people. But once I saw there was no HEA and that the story continued in another book I was a bit hesitant to try it. I like my romance stories to be contained in one book and I most definitely like there to be a HEA. While I found DEEPER to be a quick read it hasn’t been a very memorable one. And my one Goodreads note, at 68%, declares West to be an asshole. This, ladies and gentleman, is the love interest. If he’s not a super likable character at 68% then how am I to be invested that he and his lady love, Caroline, are meant to be?? Caroline and West are your typical New Adult trope characters. She’s the goody goody rich girl that everyone loves and he’s the ultimate bad boy that she’s warned to stay away from. But there are sparks the moment they meet and while they don’t speak for years they both secretly lust after each other.

Then when Caroline’s super perfect (on paper at least) boyfriend, the golden boy of her high school and the guy her daddy adores doesn’t like that she broke up with him he lashes out. He posts intimate pictures of Caroline and posts her personal information (address, email, phone, etc) on-line like the true dickhead he is all while pretending it wasn’t him and that he’s shocked and upset and they should totally get back together. Everyone on campus of course can’t see that he did something wrong and she’s slut shamed and harassed on every level. Renege porn is a real and terrifying thing and I think that York handled that aspect of the story well. But I hated how everyone blamed Caroline for it, even her own father, and of course only West saw the crime of it which brings the two closer together.

Deeper Quote

Then things happen, there is drama and angst and all the new adult book cliches that you would expect. DEEPER is filled with ALL THE TROPES and then to go through all of that and not get a HEA?? Ugh. No. Not a fan. There is also nothing truly memorable about this book. Before starting my review I had to go and read reviews written by others on Goodreads because I was drawing such a blank as to what happened in this story. The only thing I really remembered was the whole revenge porn aspect. Other than that this story did not stick. Which, for me, is never a good sign for a book because me plot recall is usually pretty good. As such I’m not sure that I’ll read the sequel, HARDER (seriously NA please come up with better titles!!! You do your genre a disservice.)

I think that I just expected more from DEEPER because of all the hype and it just didn’t live up to my expectations. For a story that spans two books I wanted to be wowed and filled with an eager expectation to see what happened next. But in all honesty I really don’t care if Caroline and West ever find their HEA. I’m not invested in them enough as a couple for that. And despite being told over and over I’m just not sure that I believe in their romance. Yes, they lust after each other but as people I’m not sure just how well they mesh or believe that they’ll work in the long term. There were parts of DEEPER that were good but they just weren’t enough so in the end I was just meh on this one.

irishdarkblue

IR - Deeper

 

Add Revenge Bound by Heidi Joy Tretheway to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

Add All the Rage by Courtney Summers to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

three-stars
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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Audio Review: Winter by Marissa Meyer

Posted by Irish in 3.5 Stars, Review, Young Adult0 Comments

Audio Review: Winter by Marissa MeyerWinter by Marissa Meyer
Narrator: Rebecca Soler
Series: Lunar Chronicles,
Also in this series: Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, Fairest
Published by Macmillian Audio on 10 November 2015
Genres: Abduction, Action & Adventure, Death & Dying, Dystopian, Emotions & Feelings, Fairy Tales, Folklore, & Legends, Friendship, Futuristic Romance, Illnesses & Injuries, Love & Romance, Politics & Intrigue, Royalty, Sci-Fi, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, War & Military, Young Adult
Length: 23 hrs and 30 mins
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible.com
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
three-half-stars
Also by this author: Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, Fairest, Heartless

Place(s) Traveled To: Atemesia, Luna

First Line(s): Winter’s toes had become ice cubes.

Sometimes I wonder why I acquire a print version of a book because if I start a book (or book series) on audio then I typically like to finish in that format. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that despite my wonderful secret sister giving me a signed copy of WINTER by Marissa Meyer I ended up buying the audio version from audible. WINTER is a long book (824 pgs) and as such the audio seemed to take me forever to get through. For me, I think that WINTER could have done with another round or two of editing as there was a lot of repetition and things that just weren’t really relevant to the story at hand. The bulk of the story also took place over just two days so it just seemed overly drawn out.

I also think that WINTER suffered from too many POVs. I can see if it stuck to the main cast but there were many that were one off and to me that just comes across as lazy story telling. I love multiple perspectives to get a well rounded story, I hate a switch in POV just because it makes something a little easier to tell. My heart also wept for all the mangled science in this book. Oh my poor poor scientific heart and just when I’d become able to ignore (kind of) the antidote/vaccine issue too. But poor science aside, I do think that WINTER was a decent end to a series. There were many a heart achy (because emotions not bad science) that kept me invested in this story and the characters. I also adored Winter and Jacin and was glad to see things from their perspective this time around.

Winter Quote

 

I did have some issues with the narration as it seemed liked it was Rebecca Soler’s first time out of the gate and not the fourth book in a series. Soler would confuse voices that had been around since CINDER and the scene transitions were bad. Which made it difficult to follow along with the story. I often found myself hitting the rewind button to figure out what I’d miss and I’d also consult my physical copy (thank you secret sister!) just to verify what was going on when and who was the main POV at that time. I wouldn’t have thought that WINTER would have been a more polished audio than it was. And while I don’t entirely regret my choice to listen to this one over reading the print there were times I considered switching over before the book was done.

Now that the Lunar Chronicles is over I can say that I am glad that I read the series even if I didn’t fall head over heals in love with it. I do like Meyer’s take on all the different fairy tales and how she set them in a dystopian back drop. It was a fresh take on them and entertaining read. Though I will admit that Cinder wasn’t my favorite character of series and I lean more towards, Winter, Jacin, Cress and Thorne. Those are all characters that I would love to know more about and ones that I hope we’ll see in the anthology STARS ABOVE. Now I just need to find the time to read it and determine if I want to go print or audio. Oh, who am I kidding…I’ll most likely go audio.

irishdarkblue

 

IR - Cinder

 

Add Cinder by Marissa Meyer to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

Add Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

Add Shadow & Bone by Leigh Bardugo to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

three-half-stars
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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Book Connections

Posted by Irish in Top Ten Tuesday4 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 a freebie! I was wondering what I should do for today’s post and thought about skipping it altogether to tackle one of my 20 out backlog reviews. But then Andi over at AndiABCs this this fun Book Connections post (click here!!) and I thought how cool is that? Her post, is about books that immediately bring to mind a blogger type person. If you’ve been a member of this book blogging world for any length of time then there are just certain books that when you see the cover or hear the title you think of a particular person. So here is my book connections list and don’t forget to head over to Andi’s blog and see what book connections she made. (links go to Goodreads except where indicated)

 

What Happens

1. Andi from AndiABCsWhat Happens Next by Colleen Clayton

I know what you are thinking “wait…what?” are you sure you want to choose THIS book for Andi? And the answer is yes! I know that the very first book that like 99.9% of people associate with Andi is Anna and the French Kiss (because seriously, her crush on that book is bigger than the universe) but I thought that was such an obviously pick. Andi is a big advocate for many books and this one came to mind second because its another one that she holds near and dear to her heart. I never would have read this book without Andi forcing me too and I’m super glad that she did.

2. Sarah from Sarah Reads to MuchInto the Woods by Tana French

If there is one book that makes me think of Sarah its Into the Woods by Tana French…and pretty much just Tana French. She and French are totally linked in my mind that I really can’t think of one without thinking of the other. Its a book that been on my list for eons, mostly because of her, and one that I really need to get to because she just loves it so much.

Lead2

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3. Sarah from GoodreadsLead by Kylie Scott.

Ok Sarah say it with me now….JIMMY!! Sarah and I bonded over beers and rock star romances one night in NYC via mutual friend Andi. I recommended the Stage Dive series to her and both of us were very hesitant to pick up Jimmy’s story because we disliked him so much in the previous books. But then we both took a gamble and fell super head over heals in love! This is a book (or rather male lead) that we’ll use as a heart achy gauge when recommending other books. So Lead is a book that I’ll forever associate with Sarah. (*sighs* Jimmy *sighs)

jellicoeroad3

4. Danielle from Love at First PageJellico Road by Melina Marchetta

Danilelle has a few book boyfriend loves but the one that I associate with her most is Jonah Griggs from Melina Marchetta’s Jellicoe Road. So much so that when I was her secret sister I spent six months pretending to be Jonah on the packages and letters that I sent. She is Mrs Jonah Griggs and when I think of this book I most often think of Danielle.

Sugar Daddy Quote

5. Sarah from Treat Yourself with BooksSugar Daddy by Lisa Kleypas

For this Sarah (I really know a whole heck of a lot of Sarah’s!!) the book/author that comes to mind for me first is Lisa Kleypas. Sugar Daddy is the first one that I thought of but any of Kleypas’s historicals also remind me of Sarah and vice versa.

Book of Ivy Quote

6. Jaime of Fiction FareThe Book of Ivy by Amy Engel

If you know Jaime then you know that there are several books that could probably be THE book to associate with her. But the one that came to mind for me first was The Book of Ivy. If it wasn’t for her talking about this one (a lot) on social media then I probably would never have read it.

7. Isalys from GoodreadsHalfway to the Grave by Jeanine Frost

If you want to bring the Cuban out of Isa then just ask her to talk about romance books. That girl gets so excited it isn’t even funny. One series that I always link with her is the Night Huntress series by Jeanine Frost. I love Isa’s passion for books and love to hear her crazy gushing rants when it comes to characters that she loves. If you ever run into at an event just ask her to recommend a romance and you’ll see what I mean.

Demon's Lexicon

8. Dani from Overflowing Shelf – The Demon’s Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan

I’ll never forget the day that I was in a car with Dani and another friend of ours Jen and The Demon’s Lexicon book was brought up. I don’t think I’ve seen two heads whip around so fast as theirs when I said that I hadn’t read it yet. Over the next hours, days, weeks, etc these two set up a campaign of gush and bullying until I caved and picked up the series. Something that I’ll always be super forever grateful for because Holy Goodness Batman!!! And as such the thought of Dani and Demon’s Lexicon will forever and always be linked in my brain.

9. Alea formerly of Pop Culture JunkieGoing Too Far by Jennifer Echols

The book that always makes me think of Alea is Going Too Far by Jennifer Echols. I don’t think I would have picked up Echols if it wasn’t for Alea. Her passion and excitement for the book came across loud and clear despite the miles that separate us.

Secret Society Girl Series

10. Tiff from Mostly YA BooksDiana Peterfreund

Ok…so Diana Peterfreund isn’t technically a book but Tiff and I totally bonded of Diana when we first met and its really hard to pick just one book that screams Tiff. To me, when I think of Peterfreund’s books I think first of a favorite character (*sigh* Poe) and then usually Tiff. So closely is she link in my mind with Peterfreund’s books. And if you haven’t read the super gloriousness that is Peterfreuend’s Secret Society Girl then do yourself a favor and get on it. So so good.

irishdarkblue

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Friday, June 24, 2016

Review: In Her Defense by Juliana Keyes

Posted by Irish in 3 Stars, Adult, Review0 Comments

Review: In Her Defense by Juliana KeyesIn Her Defense by Juliana Keyes
Series: Time Served, Book 2
Published by Carina Press on 05 Sept 2015
Genres: Adult, Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Love & Romance
Pages: 272
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
three-stars

Place(s) Traveled To: Chicago, Illinois // Los Angeles, California

First Line(s): Whoever said it was lonely at the top was wrong.

At first glance, IN HER DEFENSE by Juliana Keyes seemed like it would be the perfect book for me. Strong, intelligent heroine meets her match in a techy guy who helps her to unwind. Caitlin is a high powered attorney who is an uber control freak with a huge chip on her shoulder and she’s one of the most unlikable heroines that I’ve ever read. She is mean to everyone and seems to love looking down her nose at people, including our hero who has the misfortune to have to shut off all her corporate access when she makes a mistake is forced to take a vacation. First off, I think the whole scenario is completely unrealistic and I don’t think that she’d be punished to the extent she was in the real world when she’s one of the firms top lawyers. Though, I do know, that in the real world she’d delegate some of these more menial tasks to underlings and so such a thing wouldn’t have happened.

But we aren’t in the real world. We’re in a romance novel so I can accept a certain level of unrealisticness. But I just couldn’t get behind Caitlin as there was nothing redeemable about her. She did go through some character growth throughout the book and I liked her by the end but it was a definite struggle and I almost DNF’d the book a few times because I couldn’t stand her. I did like Eli, at first, but it seemed the better being human that Caitlin got the worse he became. He was such an asshole by the end that I really didn’t want these two to be together. They just didn’t seem to mesh, at all. It also didn’t help that most of their issues resulted from a failure to communicate and how they over-reacted as a result from misconceptions.

About the only thing that IN HER DEFENSE had going for it was that it was a quick read. Buy oy…it was a struggle. The writing was decent enough and I will probably check out Keyes’s other books but I just couldn’t really get over how poorly written these characters were. They were mismatched and lacked chemistry and everything just seemed so forced. IN HER DEFENSE was a book that just wasn’t for me but I do know many people who loved it so definitely give it a try if you like a beauty meets the beast story, where the beast in this case was Caitlin.

irishdarkblue

IR - In Her Defense

Add Down for the Count by Christine Bell to Goodreads. (Review coming soon)

Add Playing to Close by Kat Latham to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

three-stars
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Thursday, June 23, 2016

Review: Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Adult, Review0 Comments

Review: Me Before You by Jojo MoyesMe Before You by Jojo Moyes
Series: Me Before You,
Published by Viking Adult on 31 December 2012
Genres: Adult, Contemporary Romance, Death & Dying, Emotions & Feelings, Friendship, Health & Daily Living, Illnesses & Injuries, Love & Romance, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues
Pages: 481
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
four-stars

Place(s) Traveled To: Stortfold, England // Mauritius // Zurich, Switzerland (2007, 2009)

First Line(s): There are 158 footsteps between the bus stop and home, but it can stretch to 180 if you aren’t in a hurry, like maybe if you’re wearing platform shoes.

ME BEFORE YOU by Jojo Moyes is one of those books that I’d heard about but didn’t give much thought about until I saw previews for the movie version of it. I was intrigued by the previews and like many readers I decided to read the book before trying to see it. While I liked ME BEFORE YOU and found it to be a quick and emotional read the more I thought about it the more complex I felt about it. At first read, I really liked this book and the journey that Lou Clark takes in living the life that she was always meant to live. At the start of ME BEFORE YOU, Lou is stuck working dead end jobs in a small town in order to support her family. She’s shy and unassuming and completely miserable. It also doesn’t help that her family is absolutely retched to her.

Then Lou meets Will and her life changes in ways that she never thought possible. Will is a quadriplegic and is suffering from severe depression as he used to lead a very adventurous life.  When Lou first starts to work as a companion to Will their relationship is very strained but I loved watching them bother get to know each other and to grow and change from that interaction. But most of all I loved who Lou became through her association with Will. She grew into herself and became more confident and self assured and that is a message that I loved in ME BEFORE YOU. That its ok to be who you are. That you should live each day to its fullest and to always try to find wonder and adventure in even the smallest of things.

Me Before You Quote

But where ME BEFORE YOU leaves me feeling less that good is with the ending. Oh how I didn’t like how things went the way they did and it wasn’t an ending I was expecting. Well, I knew the what I just didn’t know the how and its the how that I didn’t care for. That is a message that we see all to often in books and media and its one that doesn’t paint the best of pictures. It was an easy out and one that definitely involved emotions but I don’t think that it was the right choice. There is more that I want to say on this but its hard without spoiling (well, any more than I’ve probably done) and its hard to find the right words for my thoughts.

I also didn’t like the random POV changes to Lou’s sister which only made me dislike Lou’s family more. I really wish that the entire story was told from Lou’s perspective and I wish that the ending had been a little different. If so, then I think that ME BEFORE YOU would have been a book that I was completely and utterly over the moon about. Instead I liked it, I’ll probably recommend it to some, but its not a book that I long to be able to read against for the first time. I am also on the fence on if I want to read the sequel, AFTER YOU. Its a book that has come up in my library queue but I keep tossing back and then putting back on my holds list.

I liked where Lou was at the end of ME BEFORE YOU despite all the heartbreak that she had gone through. In terms of how Lou thought about herself she was in a very good place. She was hopeful and ready to live the life she’d always dreamed about. I’m afraid that if I read AFTER YOU that will changed. Books need conflict in order to move forward after all so Lou can’t be happy in the way that I want her to be. So I may not read it. I may just keep Lou in that place where she is in my mind and continue her story in my own way.

irishdarkblue

IR - Me Before You

Add God-Shaped Hole by Tiffanie DeBartolo to Goodreads.

Add P.S. I Love You by Cecelia Ahern to Goodreads.

four-stars
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