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Friday, October 7, 2016

Blog Tour Review: Enjoy the Dance by Heidi Cullinan

Posted by Irish in 3 Stars, Adult, Blog Tour, Review1 Comment

Blog Tour Review: Enjoy the Dance by Heidi Cullinan

Blog Tour Review: Enjoy the Dance by Heidi CullinanEnjoy the Dance by Heidi Cullinan
Series: Dancing, Book 2
Also in this series: Dance with Me
Published by Self-Published on October 11, 2016
Genres: Adult, Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Friends to Lovers, Love & Romance, Performing Arts, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues
Pages: 224
Format: eARC
Source: Author
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
Setting: St Paul, Minnesota (2012)
three-stars
Also by this author: Love Lessons, Fever Pitch, Lonely Hearts, Short Stay, Dance with Me

First Line(s):  One cool October day, after a dispiriting seven hours of teaching privileged kindergarten children, Spenser Harris returned to his apartment to discover a teenage boy – battered, bruised, and coiled into a ball – in front of his door.

ENJOY THE DANCE is the second book in Heidi Cullinan’s Dancing series and takes place about a year after the events in DANCE WITH ME (my review) ends. While this book features cameos from people that we’ve met before the two main characters are new ones to the reader, Spenser and Tomas. Both of whom I really liked and I also really liked their story and the journey that they took over the course of the book. I liked how they became friends first and then worked up to something more. I liked the slow burn aspect of this book but also liked that it wasn’t so slow that I lost interest. I also liked how Spenser and Tomas interacted with the people around them.

What I didn’t like about ENJOY THE DANCE was just how much was going on in this book. There was the issue with Duon, there was the political aspect, and then there was what was going on with Tomas’s family. Just one of those plot points would have been a lot but all three together and it all got a bit jumbled and distracting. The political portion of the story line, while an important part of modern history, isn’t something that I really want to encounter to the extent mentioned in this book. As a bit of filler here and there fine but it was just so much. Although, I do think that part of this dislike of mine comes from politic fatigue. We are in the midst of Presidential election season and I’m just really really really tired of politics. So this portion of the story may not have bothered me if I’d read it at a different time.

ENJOY THE DANCE is a quick read and I liked it I just didn’t love it as much as I would have liked. I think if there was more focus on the romance and less on the political situation than I would have liked it more. I enjoyed the cameos of the characters we knew and I won’t be surprised if Duon eventually gets his own story. The boy has been through a lot of the course of the two books in this series and ENJOY THE DANCE ends in 2015 so there is potential for it. Speaking of the ending, ENJOY THE DANCE had an epilogue that did not suck. You know me reader, I am not a fan of epilogue but I think that Cullinan did a good job with this one. Although I did think that the timing of things didn’t seem entirely plausible for a 3 year stretch from the start. A year, maybe, but three? It just seemed forced. But overall, I liked it and I liked how Tomas and Spenser’s story ends. Unlike make of Cullinan’s books I didn’t find this ending to be too sugary although it does end in a way that is so very Cullinan.

If you are a fan a Cullinan, then you will like ENJOY THE DANCE. There is a lot to like about this book and I think that new fans and old will enjoy it. ENJOY THE DANCE can be read as a standalone book but there is something added when you know the other characters involved. This was a quick read for me and I do look forward to reading more of what Cullinan comes up with.

enjoy-the-dance-quote

three-stars
Rating Report
Plot
three-stars
Characters
four-stars
Writing
three-half-stars
Pacing
three-stars
Cover
three-stars
Overall: three-stars
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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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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Review: Fast Connection by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Adult, Review0 Comments

Review: Fast Connection by Megan Erickson and Santino HassellFast Connection by Megan Erickson, Santino Hassell
Series: Cyberlove, Book 2
Also in this series: Strong Signal
Published by Self-Published on 11 July 2016
Genres: Adult, Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, GLBT, Love & Romance, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues
Pages: 260
Format: eARC
Source: Author
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, Strong Signal, Leveling the Field

Place(s) Traveled To: Staten Island, New York // Boston, Massachusetts

First Line(s): The smell of bagels permeated the entire shop.

FAST CONNECTION is the second book in Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell’s Cyberlove series and features a minor character in that book, Dominic Costigan, who I will freely admit I didn’t like all that much in STRONG SIGNAL (my review.) But I shouldn’t have doubted the Erickson/Hassell writing team because they sure did deliver on a character with a lot of heart and lovability and oh how my opinion of him changed. In fact, this time around I found myself getting annoyed with Garrett and how he treated Costigan in this story! Boy did some of those text/phone conversations just break my heart because Costigan really needed a friend and Garrett was just being an ass.

Good thing that Dominic met Luke because oh my stars did those two have chemistry!! I just loved the two of them together and it just about tore me in two when they had drama. Which then made me want to glower at Garrett some more since Dominic didn’t have someone that he could rely on. FAST CONNECTION was such a heart achy read and I had so much trouble putting it down. I loved the connection between Dominic and Luke and their story was so real and raw and just everything that I love in a romance book. And its so hard to talk about everything that I love about FAST CONNECTION because words are hard and I don’t want to spoil.

Quote from: http://meganerickson.org/

Just know that FAST CONNECTION has it all. There are likable characters, even when they do stupid stubborn shit that makes you just want to shake them. There are real storylines that make your heart hurt. There are secondary characters that flesh out this story and just add to its depths and layers. There is emotion and romance and ALL THE FEELINGS!!! So many feelings and its a book that can be read as a standalone even though its listed as part of a series. Yes, there are connections and allusions to STRONG SIGNAL but I don’t think readers will be all that lost if they haven’t read that book yet (though you should be cause its awesome) but for me FAST CONNECTION was even better because to me it just felt more real. The issues that Dominic and Luke face are ones that I can relate to more and these two don’t enable each other. Instead they tend to call each other out on their bullshit which is part of why they have drama.

FAST CONNECTION is a book that kept me up as I couldn’t put it down. I was so sucked into this story and as I’ve said in various different ways just hit all the right notes with me. There really isn’t anything that I would change in this story….well except the stupid angsty drama that tore a hole in my heart…but other than that FAST CONNECTION was a wonderful roller coaster read and one that I know I’ll be re-reading a time or two (or a dozen) in the future. I really like the Erickson/Hassell writing team and I can not wait to see what these two have in store next. Because they need to co-write more. It’ll make me a sad little blogger if they don’t they just mesh so very well together.

irishdarkblue IR - Fast Connection

 

Add Flat-Out Sexy by Erin McCarthy to Goodreads.

Add All Note Long by Annabeth Albert to Goodreads.

four-stars
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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Review: Short Stay by Heidi Cullinan

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

Review: Short Stay by Heidi CullinanShort Stay by Heidi Cullinan
Series: Love Lessons,
Also in this series: Love Lessons, Fever Pitch, Lonely Hearts
Published by Self-Published on 24 May 2016
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Friendship, GLBT, Illnesses & Injuries, Love & Romance, New Adult, Road Trip, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Short Story / Novella
Pages: 272
Format: eARC
Source: Author
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
three-half-stars
Also by this author: Love Lessons, Fever Pitch, Lonely Hearts, Dance with Me, Enjoy the Dance

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

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

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

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

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

 

irishdarkblue

Short Stay Quote
three-half-stars
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Monday, November 16, 2015

Review: Just Visiting by Dahlia Adler

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

Review: Just Visiting by Dahlia AdlerJust Visiting by Dahlia Adler
Published by Spencer Hill on 17 November 2015
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Friendship, Girls & Women, Love & Romance, People of Color, Road Trip, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 348
Format: eARC
Source: Author
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars
Also by this author: Behind the Scenes

Place(s) Traveled To: Charytan, Kansas // Lawrence, Kansas // Various Unnamed Places, Kansas

First Line(s): There comes a crossroads in every great friendship in which one of you has to tell the other a painful, ugly truth.

Its no secret that I love a good road trip book and so when I heard about JUST VISITING by Dahlia Adler I knew that I had to read it. JUST VISITING is the story of Reagan and Vic who are best friends and seniors in high school. Since they met, two years before the start of the book, all they’ve talked about is going off to college and leaving their small town. They have a plan and they are counting down the days until graduation when they can start the next stage in their life. JUST VISITING shows Reagan and Vic heading off to various colleges that while still in their home state are far enough from home to offer a whole new start. Along the way though they learn that maybe all their carefully laid plans may not be what is the best thing after all.

I loved the friendship in JUST VISITING. Reagan and Vic were so real and you feel their bond. They aren’t perfect and they get into fights but they make up, they apologize and move on. There is no fake-BFF syndrome to be found in this story so when they hit a rough patch your heart breaks for them. Just as when Reagan and Vic start to realize that their paths might not be going in the same direction your heart aches for this bump in the road. But at the same time you know that these girls are going to be ok. They are in it for the long haul and they will be stronger because of it. Part of what I love about JUST VISITING is how Adler shows that its ok to change your plans even though you were certain that they were set in stone. That the world won’t end because you decide that may this college over that one is really the right one for you. That life is about making choices and finding your path and that even if you make a wrong turn you can always find your way back to where you were meant to be.

Just Visiting Quote

There is more to JUST VISITING though than just the friendship although that is the main story line. There is also a romance and family drama. Oh is there family drama. And then there is this whole random story line about why Reagan is a bit of a social outcast in her small town and that just bugged me throughout the book. I get that small towns can hold a grudge but this just seemed so extreme and just took me out of the story. Just as the over emphasis on race and the huge chip on Vic’s shoulders. I loved how there was a lot of diversity in this story but Vic just seemed to hate on everyone and make such snap, harsh judgement on what people were thinking before they even spoke because she was Mexican. Those moments often had me sighing a bit and seemed a little out of character for Vic who was always so happy and looking on the bright side of life. In my opinion, the judgementalness would have seemed more in character for Reagan over Vic.

My issues aside, I did love Reagan and Vic and I also adored the character of Dev. Oh he annoyed me at times but then so did Reagan and Vic. The annoyances are part of what made all these characters seem so very real. There were times when JUST VISITING was a bit hard to like but that was partly because the book was so real. JUST VISITING is a fun read but it does deal with real world issues. There are times when JUST VISITING is very raw and powerful and its definitely a book worth reading. JUST VISITING is also one of those rare unicorn books where the epilogue did not suck. Its an epilogue with substance and I liked it. Though I do feel like there could have been another chapter or two between where the book ends and where the epilogue begins. It just felt like something was missing between the two and I just wish that gap had been filled. But overall, I was very happy with JUST VISITING and its a book that you should have on your shelf.

irishdarkblue

IR - Just Visiting

Add Open Road Summer by Emery Lord 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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Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Review: The Fifteenth Minute by Sarina Bowen

Posted by Irish in 3 Stars, New Adult, Review1 Comment

Review: The Fifteenth Minute by Sarina BowenThe Fifteenth Minute by Sarina Bowen
Series: The Ivy Years,
Also in this series: The Year We Fell Down, The Year We Hid Away, The Understatement of the Year, Blonde Date, The Shameless Hour
Published by Self-Published on 13 October 2015
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, Friendship, Love & Romance, Movie Stars, New Adult, Short Story / Novella, Social Issues
Pages: 294
Format: eARC
Source: Author
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
three-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, Coming in from the Cold, Us, Bittersweet, Steadfast, Rookie Move (Brooklyn Bruisers, #1)

Place(s) Traveled To: Harkness, Connecticut // New York, New York // Huntington, New York

First Line(s):promised myself that I wouldn’t spend my second semester of college huddle in my room playing Dragonfire.

In The Fifteenth Minute, Sarina Bowen returns once again to Harkness University and this time tells the story of Lianne and DJ, both of whom we meet in The Shameless Hour (my review.) Though this is part of a series, just like the other books, it can be read independently. The story starts the semester after Shameless Hour ends and so Lianne and Bella have settled into their friendship. Lianne is still shy about wandering out in public due to the mixed reactions she gets but she is trying. She and DJ also have a really cute meet/cute near the end of Shameless Hour and I was glad to hear that they would be the stars of this book.

Both Lianne and DJ are dealing with complicated life issues and while Lianne’s issues are known (she’s an actress in a famous book to series film franchise – think Emma Watson as Hermione) DJ’s are not. Over the course of the story you do learn what demons DJ is facing and while at times the crypticness of it all annoyed me it wasn’t overdone. The story was heartbreaking at times as these two characters couldn’t always find a common ground despite the growing attraction that they had for each other. As with many a romance it tended to come down to all or nothing and there was no way to exist in between. Which also frustrates me in books. When that happens I just want to reach into the pages and shake the characters and yell at them to find a compromise!

Fifteenth Minute Quote

DJ could also be such a Debbie downer at times but I did love seeing him start to find hope in his situation. And I loved how he and Lianne interacted. I also loved Lianne’s interactions with DJ’s housemates and other hockey team members. It was fun watching them learn that she was more than just a childhood movie star and was someone who could kick their collective asses at one of their favorite past times, outside of hockey. The Fifteenth Minute was a quick read and I enjoyed it but in the end it didn’t give me those heart achey feels that I adore in stories. There was just something missing that kept me from loving this one completely.

Maybe it was because of DJ’s doom and gloom side or maybe its because I wanted a little more from the ending or maybe it was just that DJs epiphany came on so quick and sudden that it was hard to believe. There just seemed to be a few things left incomplete and it left me feeling unsatisfied. But overall I do still love this series and I enjoy each installment. I love all the cameos of characters from previous books and seeing where they are traveling to outside of their stories. I’m looking forward to Bowen’s next Ivy Years book as I do so adore the students of Harkness University and I am looking forward to catching little peaks into DJ and Lianne’s life to see where they end up next.

irishdarkblue

IR - Fifteenth Minute

Add Not in the Script by Amy Finnegan to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

Add Revived by Samantha Towle to Goodreads. (Review coming soon.)

three-stars
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Monday, July 20, 2015

Review: Him by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, New Adult, Review2 Comments

Review: Him by Sarina Bowen and Elle KennedyHim by Elle Kennedy, Sarina Bowen
Series: Him,
Also in this series: Us
Published by Self-Published on 28 July 2015
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, Friends to Lovers, GLBT, Love & Romance, New Adult, People & Places, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Sports & Athletics
Pages: 268
Format: eARC
Source: Author
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars
Also by this author: The Deal, The Mistake, The Score, Us, 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: Boston, Massachusetts // San Radael, California // Lake Placid, New York // Toronto, Ontario, Canada

First Line(s): The coffee shop line is a little long, but I know I’ll make it to the rink on time. Some weeks just click.

Over the last year or so I’ve discovered and become a fan of Sarina Bowen’s writing. More recently I discovered Elle Kennedy and then to learn that the two were collaborating on a book together? Well, I knew that was a book that I needed to read. The moment the egalley of HIM arrived in my inbox I knew I had to start it and that is exactly what I did and I didn’t stop reading until I’d finished the book and the clock was ticking into the single digits. But the loss of sleep was worth it because HIM was everything that I was expecting and maybe even a little bit more. Yes, there were things that I had issues with (hello awkward and pointless breakup) but overall I loved the vibe of this story and the connection that existed between Wes and Jamie.

From the very beginning HIM had my heart aching as both these characters struggled with events that had happened four years prior and wondering if there was a way to move forward. These two didn’t always make the right choices but sometimes, in the heat of the moment, you just can’t see clearly and its easier to ignore an issue than to face it. And boy did I love how Wes and Jamie faced their past issues. I loved their journey throughout this book and though there were times when I wanted to shake them both and make them talk it out I get where they were coming from. Falling for your best friend, be it male or female, is never any easy thing to do and Bowen and Kennedy handle all the complexities of it so well.

Him Quote

HIM is filled with many a hot and steamy moment so its definitely not for everyone but if you like kissing in the rain and all that comes after well, then you’ll want to have this book on your shelves. HIM manages to hit all the right notes in what I like in a story and even with the weird, awkward breakup moment I still loved the overall story. The epilogue was a little too cutesy but I LOVED…like LOVED LOVED LOVED seeing Jamie’s family and it made me wish that they all had a more active roll in the book. They were just so much fun and with their short stint on the page they provided so much entertainment. There were also times when HIM reminded me of Sarina Bowen’s other books, especially The Understatement of the Year (my review) but I am ok with that because its another story that I adored.

HIM was total book crack for me and I am not ashamed of it. Bowen and Kennedy created a wonderful story and I hope to see them collaborate again at some point in the future. They are a solid writing team and as a reader you wouldn’t know that this story had two authors if it weren’t for the two names on the cover. This book felt like a Sarina Bowen novel and it felt just as strongly as an Elle Kennedy one. This book was just pure fun and as I said above once I started reading it I just couldn’t put it down. Seriously folks, this is one you are going to want on your shelves so go forth and get it now because it was just one deliciously, hot and steamy and heart achy read.

 

irishdarkblue

IR - Him

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. (Review coming soon)

four-stars
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Sunday, April 26, 2015

Review: The Shameless Hour by Sarina Bowen

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, New Adult, Review1 Comment

Review: The Shameless Hour by Sarina BowenThe Shameless Hour by Sarina Bowen
Series: The Ivy Years,
Also in this series: The Year We Fell Down, The Year We Hid Away, The Understatement of the Year, Blonde Date, The Fifteenth Minute
Published by Self-Published on 14 April 2015
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, Friendship, Girls & Women, Love & Romance, New Adult, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Sports & Athletics
Pages: 317
Format: eBook
Source: Author
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars
Also by this author: The Year We Fell Down, The Year We Hid Away, The Understatement of the Year, Blonde Date, Him, The Fifteenth Minute, Coming in from the Cold, Us, Bittersweet, Steadfast, Rookie Move (Brooklyn Bruisers, #1)

Place(s) Traveled To: Etna, Connecticut // New York, New York

First Line(s): It had been two hours since I blew out twenty candles on the cake Ma made for me, but my ass was still parked at Restaurante Tipico.

The Shameless Hour by Sarina Bowen is the fourth book in her Ivy Years series and is Bella’s story. Bella is a well known secondary character in the series and you learn a bit more about her in The Understatement of the Year (my review) and I was really excited when I heard that she was finally getting her own book. Bella’s love interest is Rafe, a quiet guy who lives in her building and who is an acquaintance of Bella’s. After a bad night for them both they end up sleeping together which is no big deal for Bella but is huge for Rafe because he was a virgin and while he wasn’t saving himself for marriage he would have preferred to be in a more committed relationship. There are then awkward moments between the two as they both misunderstand the other until something happens that shakes Bella to the core and brings her and Rafe closer together.

Oh how my heart ached for Bella in this book and I thought that Rafe was the perfect boy for her. They are both flawed but together they make this perfect whole, that is when they aren’t totally misunderstanding each other. But unlike most books where misunderstandings lead to breakups as the people involved never talk Bella and Rafe only end up closer together. Yes, there are things between them that aren’t said right away but when details are revealed they listen and grow more and more in like with each other. They may have started as casual acquaintances with a one-night stand but over time they become friends and then fall in love.

Shameless Hour Quote

There were a few things that I didn’t like though, like how Bella was sometimes so stubborn that she wouldn’t really listen to Rafe was saying but I loved how he kept trying. Or that there weren’t enough cameos from Graham and Rikker because those two!!  Though I did like the addition of, Lianne, the semi-reclusive neighbor of Bella and who becomes a really good friend to her when Bella allows her to be. Because Bella, for all her spunk and brash behavior has a habit of never letting anyone get to close to her. She’s flirty and fun but she doesn’t get real until life really forces her to take a hard look at herself and she allows herself to trust and let people in. And in the end she’s still flirty, sassy and brash but she’s also so much more because she has people beside her holding her up when she needs it.

If you like new adult romance then I would highly recommend Sarina Bowen’s The Ivy Years series, they are books that just keep getting better with each one. I loved seeing Bella in flashes over the previous books but it wasn’t until The Shameless Hour that you really get to know her in all her complexity. I loved Rafe and I adored the two of them together. This was a real heart-achy book and I hope that we get to see more of these two in the next book in the series because I do hate saying goodbye to them. Though I am sure that this is a couple that I’ll re-visit every so often with a re-read and so even though the story is over it doesn’t really end.

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IR - Shameless Hour

 

Add Raw Blue by Kirsty Eagar to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

Add Easy by Tammara Webber to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

four-stars
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Friday, July 11, 2014

Review: Her Dark Places by Kelly Killarney

Posted by Irish in 3.5 Stars, New Adult, Review1 Comment

Review: Her Dark Places by Kelly KillarneyHer Dark Places by Kelly Killarney
Series: The Sutton Files,
Published by Self-Published on 03 June 2014
Genres: Action & Adventure, Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Death & Dying, Emotions & Feelings, Girls & Women, Love & Romance, Mystery & Detective, New Adult, Social Issues, Survival Stories, Thrillers
Pages: 175
Format: eARC
Source: Author
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
three-half-stars

Place(s) Traveled To: Unnamed, New Hampshire

First Line(s): I always knew it was Saturday morning when the elevator smelled like puke, piss, and sex.

Her Dark Places by Kelly Killarney is a new adult thriller set on a college campus. Its a books of secrets and snarky moments and one that I enjoyed. It focuses on Jasmine “Jazz” and how she attended Sutton University with a purpose and getting an education there is only a small part of that. Because Jazz is smart and she could have gone to any other school, in fact, her plan was to attend college with her boyrfriend Graham. But things happened and plans changed and now Jazz is looking for answers. She doesn’t want to make friends but she finds it impossible to keep her roommate Audrey at arms length. Especially when Audrey acquires a stalker so Jazz makes it her mission to figure out who is tormenting Audrey.

Along the way Jazz meets two very opposite guys, Brennan and Sean. Brennan is the all-American good boy that every girl says she wants all while falling for the Seans of the world. Sean is an aloof, loner that has bad boy written all over him. He is also the Veronica Mars of Sutton University in that he’s an amatuer private investigator and for reasons known only to himself he decides to help Jazz and Audrey. So there is the love tirangle, or rather the love square since Jazz is attacted to both Sean and Brennan but she also has a boyfriend. But rest assured, dear readers, while there is attraction there is no cheating involved. Things go as they so often do when teens leave high school for college, they change and grow appart and find it hard to maintain a long distance love. Its not impossible to stay together but its rare when it does. So SPOILER Jazz and Graham eventually break up and she is free to focus on the two very different boys in her life. And even though Her Dark Places is the start of a series she does make a definate choice at the end.

Yay for choices!!

I really hate when a girl waffles between two guys for the length of a series especially when its usually pretty obvious who she is going to end up with. So while this one does have a bit of a love triangle it does have an ending.

Overall I did enjoy Her Dark Places but I felt that the ending was a little rushed and that it glossed over some things that shouldn’t have been. I do feel that the series shows promise as I enjoyed the main characters and do plan on checking out the next book once it becomes available. I liked how the main mystery was resolved in this book that but that there are threads still open for another one, mainly that secret that Jazz has, which you do find out during the course of reading Her Dark Places. In a way Her Dark Places is a bit like season 1 of Veronica Mars where you have the mystery of the week and then the overall mystery of who killed Lily Kane. Jazz is no Veronica but I liked her and I liked her friends and I hope to see more of them all as the series continues. 

If you are looking for a New Adult book that is a bit different from your angsty, broken character storites that currently flood the market then I suggest giving Her Dark Places a try. The writing and pacing of the story are solid and while I did figure out the mystery I think there is enough there to keep those who aren’t avid mystery readers guessing.

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three-half-stars
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Friday, August 30, 2013

Review: Anywhere by J. Meyers

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, New Adult, Review, Young Adult6 Comments

Review: Anywhere by J. MeyersAnywhere by J. Meyers
Published by Self-Published on 25 August 2013
Genres: Contemporary Romance, New Adult
Pages: 256
Format: eARC
Source: Author
Goodreads
four-stars

Place(s) Traveled to: Paris, France // Rome, Italy // Venice, Italy // Baratolo, Italy // Bern, Switzerland // Barau, Switzerland // Munich, Germany // Rothenburg, Germany // Arcachon, France // New York, New York

First Line: “Do you think there’s a phrase for this in French?” Paige called out from the tiny yellow bathroom, her voice wobbling.

When I first heard about Anywhere by J. Meyers I was immediately attracted to it as not only is it a road trip book, but its a road trip book set in EUROPE. I adore Europe and get there every chance I get and so I just loved the idea of backpacking through several countries…even if it was just in the pages of a book. Anywhere is told entirely from Skye’s POV and while sometimes this was annoying it was also right for the story. I say annoying because Skye could sometimes be annoying. She’s 22 and never really been off on her own doing her own thing so she’s really just coming into her own. When her Plan A fizzles she is off to Plan B and that leads her to Asher.

If ever there was a swoon worthy guy its Asher. He’s just so sweet and fun and the perfect person for Skye in that moment. He helps her to find her courage and be brave enough to go on the adventure that she’s always dreamed of. Their romance is quick but it never feels rushed. There is no insta-love but there is a fast friendship which deepens into something more. It feels real and wonderful and I loved reading about their journey together. The fact that they were in Europe just seemed to make it all the more magical. I also loved the relationship that Skye had with her brother. Their exchanges were so cute and fun, that as a reader, you get a real sense of their bond for each other.

Skye’s mother on the other hand….well, she is your typical horrible mother in a YA/NA novel. She doesn’t listen and tries to guilt and berate to get what she wants. And for most of Skye’s life she’s given in think that maybe if she did she’d get approval. But when it comes to the reason why Skye left I think she made the right decision and she made the right decision to finally start standing on her own two feet and listening to what she wants. Not what other people want for her. If there was a character that I would like to punch in this book it would have been her. I cringed each and every time that Skye had to talk to her and I applauded when Skye found her courage and stood up to her. I am sure that the ocean between them helped and I hope that Skye continues to live for herself and not her mother when her adventuring is done.

I also liked Paige and wish that we’d seen more of her. Though if Paige was there then there may have been no Asher so I am glad that things ended up how they did. Because, hello Asher. lol That thing at the end that he did….if you’ve ever read Persuasion and liked that letter well then you know the sort of heart achy feels that happens in this part of the book. Like I said. Total swoon worthy character and he totally makes up for any imperfections of this book.

Because there are some imperfections like Meyer’s overuse of parenthesis  I think by the end my eye was getting a little twitchy (really it was) (I mean it). What almost made me lose it was parenthesis used when a video was supposed to be playing. Because people don’t speak in parenthesis…at least not in my brain…and so there should have been none. *deep breath* Ok my rant is done…its a minor quibble but for me they began to take me out of the story. Especially when a phrase in parenthesis was followed by another set of them. *eye twitch*

The other minor quibble I had was a phrase that Skye loved to say. She’d ask a question and then quickly say “no wait don’t answer unless the answer is x.” and it was cute at first but by the end of the book I was ready to never see those words again. Though at the same point the phrase was so perfectly Skye. So while it annoyed me by the end it didn’t make my eye twitch like the minor issue I had above.

Other than that I really enjoyed this story. It was a quick read and it was fun to get lost in its pages. I hated to have it end and really wish that it had gone on more to see where Skye ended up and what happened at that thing she had to get back for. There could have been some deliciously awkward scenes but I guess I’ll just have to imagine what would happen in my head. And when I still think about a book after its final page then you know that its worth taking the time to read. So go forth and pick this one up. If you like fun contemporaries then you will like this one. It reminds me a little of Anna and the French Kiss mixed with some of my other favorite reads.

A good quote that describes Skye and Asher

four-stars
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