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Genre: Health & Daily Living

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Review: Steadfast by Sarina Bowen

Posted by Irish in 3.5 Stars, Adult, Review0 Comments

Review: Steadfast by Sarina BowenSteadfast by Sarina Bowen
Series: True North, Book 2
Also in this series: Bittersweet
Published by Self-Published on 12 July 2016
Genres: Adult, Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Health & Daily Living, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues
Pages: 310
Source: Author
Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
three-half-stars
Also by this author: The Year We Fell Down, The Year We Hid Away, The Understatement of the Year, Blonde Date, The Shameless Hour, Him, The Fifteenth Minute, Coming in from the Cold, Us, Bittersweet, Rookie Move (Brooklyn Bruisers, #1)

Place(s) Traveled To: Colebury, Vermont // Montpelier, Vermont // Tuxbury, Vermont

First Line(s): The last time I drove through Colebury, Vermont I sat behind the wheel of a 1972 Porsche 911 restored to mint condition with a sweet new paint job in Aubergine.

STEADFAST by Sarina Bowen is the second book in her True North series and a companion novel to BITTERSWEET (my review.) Its in BITTERSWEET we first meet Jude and learn a little of his backstory but you don’t get the full details of his past until the start of STEADFAST. All that you really know about Jude is that he’s a recovering drug addict and that he spent the last few years in prison. On the Shipley farm he tries to keep to himself as he isn’t used to letting people get close but if you’ve read BITTERSWEET and have met the Shipley clan than you know that Jude was fighting a losing battle. He needs the Shipley’s because Jude is a man who was made to love people even though he hasn’t had the best of luck in finding the right ones to let in.

The Shipley’s aren’t the only ones that Jude learns to love in STEADFAST but we also meet his high school girlfriend, Sophie. The girl he loved above all other, except for maybe his drugs, and the one who he hurt the most when his world came crumbling down. Which means that STEADFAST has one of my favorite tropes, the second chance at love scenario and I just knew I was going to like it. And like STEADFAST I did, I just didn’t love it and I can’t fully put my finger on why. Because I liked Jude, more than I thought I would even, and I liked Sophie and I liked their story but something just seemed a bit off. Perhaps it just seemed a little too fast and that forgiveness came too quick that it didn’t seem real.

Steadfast Quote

There was also the whole subplot plot that while realistic also didn’t fully mesh well in my brain with the story that I was expecting. That and the ending just felt so rushed. I made a goodreads comment during one scene at the end where things just escalated very quickly that I got reader whiplash and thought to myself, what just happened? The events aren’t things that come from out in left field but I just think that it would have worked better in my brain if there were more words leading up to it. But this is just a me thing I am sure because I am an Angelica and I am never satisfied. I also really want Zach’s story and I think my desire for that may have taken away some of my eagerness for STEADFAST.

Overall though, I did enjoy Jude and Sophie’s story and was happy that they found their HEA at last. I was happy to see how Bowen incorporated the Shipley clan into this book because I loved seeing that whole family again. I liked the journey that Jude took because it wasn’t an easy one and it had its up and downs but it was real and raw and an important story to tell. As with all Bowen’s books, STEADFAST is a quick and engrossing read and it is hard to put down once you start. Bowen has a real gift for writing real relationships and I just love the families that she makes in her books. STEADFAST can be read as a standalone but I think that it works better if you first meet the Shipley’s and learn all of their quirky ways in BITTERSWEET.

irishdarkblue

IR - Steadfast

 

Add Lead by Kylie Scott to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

Add Double Full by Kindle Alexander to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

three-half-stars
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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, 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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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Review: The Epidemic by Suzanne Young

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

Review: The Epidemic by Suzanne YoungThe Epidemic by Suzanne Young
Series: The Program,
Also in this series: The Program, The Treatment, The Remedy
Published by Simon Pulse on 29 April 2016
Genres: Action & Adventure, Death & Dying, Diseases, Dystopian, Emotions & Feelings, Health & Daily Living, Love & Romance, Mystery & Detective, Romance, Sci-Fi, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 384
Format: ARC
Source: Book Expo (BEA-ALA-et al)
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
five-stars
Also by this author: The Program, The Treatment, The Remedy

Place(s) Traveled To: Portland, Oregon / Roseburg, Oregon / Eugene, Oregon / Myrtle Creek , Oregon/ Grants Pass, Oregon / Weed, California

First Line(s): My entire life is a lie.

When I finished THE REMEDY by Suzanne Young I wanted to immediately jump into its sequel, THE EPIDEMIC because whoa Nelly that was one crazy way to end a book!! Thankfully, this was just a duology so I knew that Young couldn’t toy with my emotions TOO much but it was still a wild and crazy ride from the start of THE EPIDEMIC all the way until the end. I firmly believe that Suzanne Young is an evil mastermind as its pure genius how she connects all her books in this series together. I admit, there were times where I gasped allowed at a reveal and was taken by surprise by some of the twists and turns in the story. In the end, about the only real coherent thing I could say for THE EPIDEMIC is that it was mind blowingly good.

Blew My Mind

I still didn’t like, or trust, Deacon for much of the book but I did eventually come around to that ship. But who I shipped most was Quinn and all the things that she went through throughout THE EPIDEMIC. She had such an amazing story ARC that I am so very very sad to see it all come to an end. Although its good for Quinn because after what she went through I don’t think she’d survive any more of what Young could cook up for her. (Have I mentioned that Young is an evil author? Because if not she is.)

lots of feelings

THE EPIDEMIC is a book that kept me on the very edge of my seat from start to finish and one that I couldn’t put down once I started. I pretty much read THE EPIDEMIC in a single sitting and barely paused to eat or do anything because I was so invested in what would happen next. THE EPIDEMIC was so creepily delicious and by the end I was an emotional wreck of a reader who just wanted to cry in a corner and then maybe re-read THE PROGRAM because I think that book will be even more creepily good now that I know what I know about you know what.

the more you know

 

I have so much that I want to say about THE EPIDEMIC but its hard to do so without spoiling anything in the series. This is definitely one of those books where its best to go in fairly blind because then everything just feels a little bit more raw and the discoveries are that much more exciting. I also have real trouble finding words to fully express my feelings and thoughts about THE EPIDEMIC but I can show you what I was thinking as I read it via my Goodreads updates:

epidemic reactions

This world that Young has created in her Program series is nothing short of fantastic and all too scarily real. As you read this series you can see how these progression of events could happen and that just makes it all the more terrifying. Young is also a super talented writer and just has this way with words and language that really set a scene and pulls out real and raw emotions from a reader. I always become so invested in her stories and when each one ends I am left pining for the next one. If you haven’t experienced the crazy emotional roller coaster ride that is then what are you waiting for? Its totally worth it…and I’ll be waiting for you over on twitter with hugs and cookies if you need them.

shock - still processing

irishdarkblue

IR - The Remedy

 

Add The Remedy by Suzanne Young to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

Add Altered by Jennifer Rush to Goodreads (Click here for my review.)

Add The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

five-stars
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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,
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
Pages: 355
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
four-stars
Also by this author: Love Lessons, Fever Pitch, Short Stay, Dance with Me, Enjoy the Dance

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)

four-stars
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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
Pages: 290
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
three-stars
Also by this author: The Book of Ivy

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.)

three-stars
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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Review: Strong Signal by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Adult, Review1 Comment

Review: Strong Signal by Megan Erickson and Santino HassellStrong Signal by Megan Erickson, Santino Hassell
Series: Cyberlove,
Also in this series: Fast Connection
Published by Self-Published on 15 Feb 2016
Genres: Adult, Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Friendship, GLBT, Health & Daily Living, Illnesses & Injuries, Love & Romance, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, War & Military
Pages: 235
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars
Also by this author: Trust the Focus, Focus On Me, Make it Count, Changing His Game, Playing for Her Heart, Tied to Trouble, Out of Frame, Fast Connection, Leveling the Field

Place(s) Traveled To: Unnamed, Afghanistan // Philadelphia, Pennsylvania // Rickston, Pennsylvania // Peoria, Illinois

First Line(s): There’s only one thief in the Army, and everyone else is just trying to get their shit back.

Recently I’ve been on a contemporary romance kick, especially contemporary MM romance, and also blitzing through most of Megan Erickson’s catalog of works. So I was very excited to see that she co-wrote STRONG SIGNAL an MM romance with Santino Hassell. I pre-ordered this baby as soon as I was able and began to read it the moment it was available. I had initially intended to alternate between STRONG SIGNAL and other read but once I started this book I couldn’t put it down and was up late as I couldn’t stop reading. I just loved the story of Kai and Garrett and thought that they had some amazing chemistry. I loved how their story developed and how they really got to know each other by talking on line. I adored their meet cute and well just everything about them!

I liked how accepting that Kai and Garrett were of each other and of their issues. On one hand, I do think that Garrett enabled Kai a bit too much but on the other it was really nice to see that Garrett never tried to cure Kai of his agoraphobia. Garrett accepted him for who he was and would have made things work as he knew that any changes made had to come from Kai in order for their to be any success. I loved how these two characters really supported one another and how they both became better people for the meeting. And oh how they both made my heart ache!!!

Strong Signal Quote

I loved how Kai and Garrett really talked to each other and oh how their separation slayed me!! No pointless breakups here just the realities of life that are sometimes hard to overcome. STRONG SIGNAL is as real as it gets for a book that still remains on the page. I know there are times when I don’t like too much reality in my books, especially the romances, but it worked so well in STRONG SIGNAL and I really wouldn’t change much at all about this story. Well, other than the need for the two leads to have to separate in the first place but that is all part of the romance formula so its needed. Plus, its sometimes takes a parting for characters to really know just how much the other person means to them.

STRONG SIGNAL was well plotted and well written and I am looking forward to the next book in the series, FAST CONNECTION (Goodreads), which will be out later this year. FAST CONNECTION will involve, Dominic Costigan, who we meet here in STRONG SIGNAL and its his character that may have annoyed me the most in this book. He was just mentioned and used way too much. While I’m curious on his story, Costigan was just too much of a distraction in STRONG SIGNAL and wish he’d been edited down a bit more. But other than that I did adore STRONG SIGNAL. Its a fresh, fun, heart achy story that I think will appeal to many a romance reader. Just be warned…you may needed a lot of coffee the day after starting this one as it really is hard to put down.

irishdarkblue

IR - Strong Signal

Add There You Stand by Christina Lee to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

Add Lonely Hearts by Heidi Cullinan to Goodreads. (Review Coming Soon.)

four-stars
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Monday, April 11, 2016

Review: Us by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy

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

Review: Us by Sarina Bowen and Elle KennedyUs by Elle Kennedy, Sarina Bowen
Series: Him, Book 2
Also in this series: Him
Published by Self-Published on 08 March 2016
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Friendship, Health & Daily Living, Love & Romance, New Adult, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Sports & Athletics
Pages: 328
Format: eARC
Source: Publicist
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
three-stars
Also by this author: The Deal, The Mistake, Him, The Score, The Year We Fell Down, The Year We Hid Away, The Understatement of the Year, Blonde Date, The Shameless Hour, The Fifteenth Minute, Coming in from the Cold, Bittersweet, Steadfast, Rookie Move (Brooklyn Bruisers, #1)

Place(s) Traveled To:  Toronto, Ontario, Canada // Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada // Quebec City, Quebec, Canada // Chicago, Illinois // Nashville, Tennessee // Saint Paul, Minnesota // Dallas, Texas //  San Rafael, California

First Line(s): Vancouver is a beautiful city, but I can’t wait to leave it.

When it came to reading US by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy I was torn. On one hand, I wanted more story for Wes and Jaime after the end of HIM (my review) and on the other I have a severe dislike for direct sequel romances. I really really really don’t like when my happily ever afters are toyed with and so often in a direct sequel there is just unnecessary angst, drama, and pointless breakups. I just don’t see the need to have a story told in 600 pages and two books when authors can always show the beloved couple in cameos in companions if (s)he decides to stay within a certain world for other books. In the end though, my love of Jaime and Wes was bigger than my dislike of sequels so I picked up US and devoured it in quick succession.

US picks up not long after HIM ends and follows Wes and Jaime as they live a mostly closeted life during Wes’s first year playing professional hockey. As you can imagine, this isn’t an easy arrangement for either of them as it makes it difficult to form friendships when you are keeping such big secrets from other people. Where HIM had this magical falling in love quality there was just a little bit too much reality in US. Life isn’t all sunshine and rainbows and relationships can be hard, especially when there is so much strain to keep secret. So you can imagine that there is a lot of angst and drama within the pages of US and while its all very realistic it really hurt my heart at times. And not in the happy gooey way that I love its the sad and depressed sort of heartache and I didn’t want any of that for my boys.

Us Quote

US also introduces the reader to many new secondary characters all of which had a good presence when they were on the page. The biggest of all was Blake who I absolutely did not like at the start of the book. But as he’ll mention to Wes and Jaime, he grows on folks, and its so true because by the end I adored him and hoped that he and Jess (Jaime’s sister) would get a book. Because my of my did those two have some sparks!! I was also glad of Blake by the end because he added in some much needed light and laughter into the story that was a little to real and depressing. US is a good story and I like how it tackled some serious issues in regards to loneliness and depression but it was just a little too real for me to love as much as I did HIM.

While I didn’t love US I was glad that the angst and drama, while a bit much at times, all stemmed from real issues and wasn’t over something silly like most new adult reads. There was no easy fix here, like one character keeping a secret that wouldn’t amount to much if they just talked to their partner. There were real issues and it all worked and fit with the story. I also liked how there was no pointless breakup. Yes, Jaime and Wes hit a rough patch but they work through it and move on until they find their joy once again. Both in life and in each other. Its nice to see a book that shows that couples can survive troubles and come out stronger on the other side. Though my original statement still stands, I hate when my happily ever afters are messed with so while I loved parts of US I would have been happy with cameos in companion reads over a full on story.

irishdarkblue IR - Him

 

Add Him by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy to Goodreads. (Click here for my review)

Add The Understatement of the Year by Sarina Bowen to Goodreads. (Click here for my review)

Add Come Back to Me by Mila Gray to Goodreads. (Click here for my review)

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Thursday, March 31, 2016

Blog Tour Review + Excerpt: The Natural History of Us by Rachel Harris

Posted by Irish in 3 Stars, Blog Tour, Contest, Review, Young Adult1 Comment

Blog Tour Review + Excerpt: The Natural History of Us by Rachel Harris

Blog Tour Review + Excerpt: The Natural History of Us by Rachel HarrisThe Natural History of Us by Rachel Harris
Series: The Fine Art of Pretending
Also in this series: The Fine Art of Pretending
Published by Spencer Hill on 05 April 2016
Genres: Adolescence, Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Diseases, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Friendship, Health & Daily Living, Illnesses & Injuries, Love & Romance, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Young Adult
Pages: 297
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
three-stars
Also by this author: Taste the Heat, Seven Day Fiance, Accidently Married on Purpose, The Fine Art of Pretending, You're Still the One

Rachel Harris’s THE NATURAL HISTORY OF US is already getting swoons from readers everywhere! We can’t wait for you to get your hands on it. Known for her sweet romances, Rachel’s THE NATURAL HISTORY OF US, is no different! Check out everything we have for you on this amazing title and then go grab your copy today. Justin and Peyton’s story is sure to put a smile on your face and keep you turning pages long into the night!

Review

Place(s) Traveled To: Fairwood City, Texas

First Line(s): They say once rodeo gets into your blood, you’re never the same.

THE NATURAL HISTORY OF US by Rachel Harris is a companion story to THE FINE ART OF PRETENDING (my review) which I read and enjoyed last year. In FINE ART the main character Aly wants to date her long time crush, Justin, and uses her BFF Brandon to help her out. Things don’t work out the way Aly plans and while she finds her HEA Justin does not. I liked Justin’s character in FINE ART so was really curious to see who Harris would pair him with in THE NATURAL HISTORY OF US. In this book we meet Peyton who is a smart, quiet girl who just happens to share a past with Justin. We learn of their history via flashbacks as they reconnect in the present when they are forced to work together on a school assignment. Which Justin sees as an opportunity to win her back and Peyton sees as the worst punishment ever.

While THE NATURAL HISTORY OF US is told in classic Harris style there was just something missing in it for me to love it completely. For me, the flashbacks just took away from the story as they were overly long and the lead ins to them were a bit too cliched. Learning the history of Justin and Peyton is important but I think it was just too drawn out and I wanted more of them in the now. There was just so much potential for their story and in the various class assignments that the two of them had that just weren’t really explored. But the think that bothered me more about THE NATURAL HISTORY OF US was how Peyton had a boyfriend for a good 75% of the book. I do not like love triangles and while this wasn’t as angsty as they tend to be it still could have been a cleaner story without the added complication of a boyfriend.

What I did like was how Justin and Peyton interacted together. They were cute together and their personalities fit well. I do think that Peyton was a little too forgiving but I also liked how Justin worked to prove himself to her. I liked how his character changed for the player to the committed boyfriend and I would have liked to see this story continue on for a few more chapters just to see them as a couple. Justin’s backstory hurt my heart at times as well and I thought that he was a boy who really needed a hug and I liked that Peyton saw beyond the facade and saw the real him.

THE NATURAL HISTORY OF US isn’t a perfect book but it is a quick read and is out just in time for beach season. This is a great book to read on the beach or by the pool as its just not overly complicated. Its a fun coming of age story with some more serious undertones as Justin and Peyton are both working through some life issues that they are both too young to deal with. I adored Peyton’s family and her BFF Faith and really wish that they’d had more on page time. In the end, I liked THE NATURAL HISTORY OF US but it I just wanted sometimes more from this story so I didn’t love it. But I do think that it will appeal to many of my readers….after all….I do tend to be harder on books than all of you. If you liked THE FINE ART OF PRETENDING then you will most likely like this one.

 

irishdarkblue

 

 

Excerpt

“Hold out your hand.” At the expression on his face, I rolled my eyes. “Just do it.” Cautiously, as if I was going to put out a cobra or something, he uncurled his fingers and lifted his palm. I dropped a small silver coin in the center. “For luck.”

Wonder warred with confusion in his gorgeous brown eyes and my heart melted.

“On this side there’s a horseshoe,” I said, my cheeks warming with a blush. “You know, the universal symbol for luck… and a small reminder of me.”

I bit my lip, hoping he didn’t think that was too corny—or that it revealed too much.

I flipped the coin over, exposing the other side, and my fingers slid across his rough skin. My breath caught. When I lifted my eyes, I found him watching me with so much intensity, so much heat, that an actual shiver rolled through me. Just like in my favorite books.

Huh. So that was what smoldering looked like. Good to know.

I swallowed hard and noticed him do the same, and nothing could hold back my smile. Justin glanced down and laughed. “Kick some ass!” he read, skimming his fingernail over my initials.

“I figured…” I cleared my throat. “I thought you could hide it in your sock or something,” I said, unable to tell if he liked the gift or not. He just kept staring at it. “If it’s dumb, you don’t have to—”

“No.”

He’d said it so quietly I almost wasn’t sure he’d spoken at all. But then he closed his hand around the coin and raised his head. Time ceased to exist as Justin’s eyes trailed across my face. I held my breath waiting and a sweet smile crossed his face.

“Damn.” He shook his head softly. “You’ve done it now.”

“What?” I asked, hoping whatever it was that it was a good thing. “What did I do?”

Justin merely shook his head again and smiled. “Wait for me after the game.” Shifting his gaze to the old concession stand, he took a step back and said, “Over there, okay?”

When I nodded, excitement lodging in my throat, making it impossible to speak, he winked and then took off to join his teammates. As I watched his cute butt in those uniform pants run across the field, a giddy grin found my lips.

 

 

 

TNHoU - Signed Books

You can order a signed and/or personalized copy of THE NATURAL HISTORY OF US now through April 8th HERE!

TNHoU - Tour Teaser 1

 

About THE NATURAL HISTORY OF US:

One class assignment. One second chance at love. The school player is all in. Now he needs to win back the sweet commitment girl who’s forever owned his heart.

Justin Carter has a secret. He’s not the total player Fairfield Academy believes him to be. Not really. In fact, he used to be a one-woman guy…and his feelings for her never went away. Too bad he broke her heart three years ago and made sure to ruin any chance she’d ever forgive him.

Peyton Williams is a liar. She pretends to be whole, counting down the days until graduation and helping her parents at the family ranch. But the truth is, she’s done everything she can to get over Justin, and salvation is just around the corner. With graduation one short month away, she’ll soon break free from the painful memories and start her life fresh. Of course, she has to get through working with him on one last assignment first.

For Justin, nothing ever felt as right as being with Peyton, and now that fate’s given him a shot at redemption, he’s determined to make the most of it. And for Peyton…well, Justin Carter has always been her kryptonite.

Order THE NATURAL HISTORY OF US Today!

Amazon **Barnes and Noble ** Kobo ** IndieBound

Add to your Goodreads

 

Rachel Harris - Author photoAbout Rachel Harris:

New York Times bestselling author Rachel Harris writes humorous love stories about sassy girls-next-door and the hot guys that make them swoon. Vibrant settings, witty banter, and strong relationships are a staple in each of her books…and kissing. Lots of kissing.

An admitted Diet Mountain Dew addict and homeschool mom, she gets through each day by laughing at herself, hugging her kids, and watching way too much Food Network with her husband. She writes young adult, new adult, and adult romances, and LOVES talking with readers!

 

 

Website ** Facebook ** Twitter ** Newsletter Signup ** Goodreads

 

 

TNHoU - Tour Teaser 3

 

Tour Stops

Rachel Harris’s THE NATURAL HISTORY OF US– Review & Excerpt Tour Schedule:

March 28th

For the Love of Books & Alcohol – Excerpt

A Leisure Moment – Review

SnoopyDoo’s Book Reviews – Excerpt

Home.Love.Books. – Review

My Nook, Books & More – Excerpt

Swoony Boys Podcast – Review & Excerpt

JOJO THE BOOKAHOLIC – Excerpt

March 29th

A Crave For Books – Review

Becky on Books – Review & Excerpt

Angel Reads – Review

Girl with a Pen and a Dream – Excerpt

Lovin’ Los Libros – Review & Excerpt

I Read Indie – Excerpt

The Phantom Paragrapher – Review

March 30th

Bookish Things & More – Review & Excerpt

Stuck In Books – Review & Excerpt

Reading Adventurously – Review & Excerpt

Typical Distractions – Review & Excerpt

Crazii Bitches Book Blog – Review & Excerpt

What Is That Book About – Excerpt

March 31st

Dazzled by Books – Review & Excerpt

Kindle and Me – Review & Excerpt

The Cover Contessa – Review & Excerpt

Book Groupies – Excerpt

We All Make Mistakes in Books – Review & Excerpt

The Bibliophile Confessions – Review & Excerpt

Ticket To Anywhere – Review & Excerpt

April 1st

Bookaholics Reading Haven – Review & Excerpt

Books Eater – Review & Excerpt

SprinkleofBooks – Excerpt

Melena’s Reviews – Review & Excerpt

Ficwishes – Review & Excerpt

Gaga Over Books – Review & Excerpt

My fictional escape – Review & Excerpt

April 2nd

Collector of book boyfriends – Excerpt

Caitlin Audet – Excerpt

Andi’s ABCs – Review

My Slanted Bookish Ramblings – Review

A Dream Within A Dream – Excerpt

Defiantly Deviant – Review

Book Briefs – Review

April 3rd

The Romance Reviews – Review

Cheyanne Young – Review & Excerpt

Adventures in Writing – Excerpt

Reading Between the Wines Book Club – Review

Short and Sassy Book Blurbs – Review & Excerpt

Ashleyz Wonderland – Excerpt

Blogging For The Love Of Authors And Their Books – Review & Excerpt

April 4th

The bookworms obsession blog – Review

Bookaholics Not-So-Anonymous – Review & Excerpt

Addicted to Books – Review & Excerpt

Bookish Escapes – Review & Excerpt

Adventures of a Book Junkie – Review & Excerpt

The Bookish Thought – Review

Tween 2 Teen Book Reviews – Review & Excerpt

April 5th

Book it – Review & Excerpt

Julie Antonovich Reece – Excerpt

Book Junkie: Not-So-Anonymous – Review & Excerpt

YA Book Madness – Excerpt

The Book Hammock – Review & Excerpt

A Full Bookshelf – Review

April 6th

Books and Boys Book Blog – Review & Excerpt

Reading Is My Bliss – Review

Behind Closed Covers – Review & Excerpt

Jackie’s Book World – Review

The Procrastinator’s Corner – Review & Excerpt

KatyaRath – Review

The book slayer77 – Review

April 7th

Southern Vixens Book Obsessions – Excerpt

The Lovely Books – Review

thebookdragon – Review & Excerpt

Aira Reads – Review

Reviews from the Heart – Review & Excerpt

Literary Misfit – Review & Excerpt

Love & Life & Learning – Review & Excerpt

April 8th

Alpha Book Club – Excerpt

Crawling Over the Pages – Review

Three chicks and their books – Review & Excerpt

Reviews By Rah – Review & Excerpt

All For Love of the Word – Excerpt

Library of a Book Witch – Review & Excerpt

The Bookmark Blog – Review & Excerpt

 

TNHoU - Tour Teaser 2 Contest

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And don’t miss Rachel Harris’s

The-Fine-Art-of-Pretending
THE FINE ART OF PRETENDING!

 

three-stars
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Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Review: Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy

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

Review: Dumplin’ by Julie MurphyDumplin' by Julie Murphy
Published by Balzer + Bray on 15 September 2015
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Friendship, Girls & Women, Health & Daily Living, Love & Romance, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 375
Source: Edelweiss
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
four-stars

Place(s) Traveled To: Clover City, Texas // Odessa, Texas

First Line(s): All the best things in my life have started with a Dolly Parton song.

I’m not going to lie, when I first heard about DUMPLIN’ by Julie Murphy I had my reservations. Even before all the hype around it began and that hype only increased my wariness of this book. I really didn’t think that DUMPLIN’ was going to be a me book and I didn’t even consider picking it up until I was traveling in Greece with a friend and she sold me on this book. A thing for which I’ll be forever grateful to her for doing because I *loved* Willowdean and couldn’t get enough of her story. DUMPLIN’ is a powerful little story and I found that once I picked it up I couldn’t put it down again. I was engrossed. I was enthralled. I was completely and totally lost in its pages.

DUMPLIN’ is a story that will speak to many readers on many different levels. Its not just Willowdean’s story but the story of everyone who has ever struggled to fit in and find their place in the world. Its raw and amazing and I wish that I had this story when I was a teen. Willowdean is a perfectly flawed character. She’s strong and insecure. She’s smart and naive. She’s everything and nothing all at once. Her journey is all about learning to love yourself and learning that your imperfections are what make you uniquely wonderfully perfectly you. Willowdean teaches us that no one can do you better than yourself so you better be the best dang you that you can be.

Dumplin Quote

Another thing that I like about DUMPLIN’ is that while there is a romance to the story the story isn’t about the romance. Its not about Willowdean trying to find someone to love her but about her learning to love herself. But what romance there is will just make your heart ache! My only complaint is that there weren’t enough scenes between Willowdean and Bo as I would have liked to have seen more of them together. Because even though DUMPLIN’ is the story of Willowdean I do so enjoy my swoony moments. So I do hope that these two make a decent cameo in the upcoming companion which will be released a millenia from now in 2018.

DUMPLIN’ is a book that I think everyone should read. If you are one the fence then jump off of it and into this story. If I’d listened to my first instincts I would have missed out on reading this amazing unputdownable read. It was fresh and funny and had all the things that I love in a story. There was laughter and tears and moments that just hurt my heart. We’ve all been a Willowdean and we all could learn from her knowing that its okay to let our sparkle shine no matter what anyone else says. We are all beauty queens and we don’t need the crown to prove it.

irishdarkblue

IR - Dumplin

Add Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon to Goodreads. (Click here for my review)

Add The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

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