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Posts Tagged: America: Massachusetts

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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Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Review + Interview: Bittersweet by Sarina Bowen

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Adult, Contest, Interview, Review1 Comment

Review + Interview: Bittersweet by Sarina BowenBittersweet by Sarina Bowen
Series: True North,
Also in this series: Steadfast
Published by Self-Published on 14 June 2016
Genres: Adult, Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Friendship, Love & Romance, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues
Pages: 293
Format: eARC
Source: Publicist
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, The Shameless Hour, Him, The Fifteenth Minute, Coming in from the Cold, Us, Steadfast, Rookie Move (Brooklyn Bruisers, #1)

Place(s) Traveled To: Tuxbury, Vermont // Boston, Massachusetts // Norwich, Vermont // Fairlee, Vermont

First Line(s): “Giffin?”

Regular readers to my blog will know that I am a big fan of Sarina Bowen’s work. I love her real and complex characters and the love stories that she tells. So I was very excited to be able to read BITTERSWEET which is the start of a new series and is set in Vermont. BITTERSWEET alternates POVs between Audrey, a flightly free spirit who is trying to find her place in the world, and Griff a gruff farmer who loves what he does and who doesn’t believe in happily ever afters. So its a good thing that he and Audrey collide because despite all that she’s been through she still finds rainbows on rainy days. Griff and Audrey’s relationship is a mix between opposites attract and a second chance at love because when Griff pulls Audrey’s car out of a ditch we learn its not the first time that they’ve met. Nor is it the first time that sparks have flown between them.

And boy do the sparks fly.

The chemistry between Griff and Audrey leaps off the page and I loved the tension and how well these two worked together. Their journey isn’t without its bumps in the road and both are wary about putting it all out on the line but I loved the entire thing. And best of all….there is no pointless break up!! Yes, there is drama and separation…this is a romance story after all. But the parting is a bittersweet one (see what I did there) as Audrey and Griff aren’t quite ready to admit that they are each others forever dream. Especially Audrey, who has worked so hard to find her place in a world that seems to always want to put her down. She comes from a privileged life but she isn’t quiet the personality that her mother was expecting. So, Audrey finds it especially hard to come to the conclusion that dreams can change and that the path you thought was solid may not be the right one for you.

.

Bittersweet Quote

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Another thing that I loved about BITTERSWEET was the secondary cast. I almost loved them more than Griff and Audrey! Griff’s family is hilarious and fun and I loved what they brought to the page every time they made an appearance. Then there is Zara who is a little caustic but also who becomes a good friend to Audrey, which is something that they both really need. But one of my favorites was Zach. Oh sweet, adorable blushing Zach. He’s quiet and shy but he sees so much and what little we learn of his backstory in BITTERSWEET leaves me aching to know more. I desperately want him to find a happily ever after.

BITTERSWEET is a beautiful story with a good message and one that will make even the coldest readers heart ache. Its real and emotional and I was so glad that I brought this on a plane with me because it gave me hours of uninterrupted reading time. I was able to get lost in this world and I hated it when I hit the last page. I was even tempted to read the chapter sampler of STEADFAST and if you know me at all you know that I don’t read samplers!!  Thankfully though I won’t have long to wait as STEADFAST is expected to be released in July followed by KEEPSAKE in October. This is both good and bad. Good because I don’t have to wait three years to finish the series but bad because it means it won’t be long until I can’t experience this world for the first time again. *sighs* The reading life…its so hard.

But what isn’t hard is to fall in love with BITTERSWEET so go forth and buy your copy today!! If you like a good love story then this is one you won’t want to miss!! (Seriously….that orchard scene!! #swoon)

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irishdarkblue

Read chapter one of BITTERSWEEET here!!

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IR - Bittersweet

 

Add Accidentally Married on Purpose by Rachel Harris to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

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

 

Q&A

 

1. Describe yourself in one sentence.

I am a total goofball.

2. Can you describe your newest book, BITTERSWEET, in five words or less?

Hot grumpy farmer vs. chef.

3. What inspired you to write the TRUE NORTH series?

I always knew I’d write another book about Vermont, because it’s just such a cool place in the world. It’s rugged and sexy in a way that’s different from my hockey books.

4. Which character in the TRUE NORTH books was your favorite to write and why?

Audrey, because she never gives up, even when people try to convince her she’ll fail.

5. Which line do you find harder to write, the first or the last?

The last one. I hate last lines. Real life doesn’t have last lines, ergo they are tricky in fiction.

6. What’s the craziest/strangest thing you’ve googled (to date) in the name of research?

Oh boy. I’ve Googled some things that made me warn the family, “when the FBI comes to investigate, tell them it was for the novel.” How to buy a gun on the internet, etc.

7. What is your favorite Hard Cider to drink….and have you ever had one that tasted like the one that Griff and Audrey make together?

The ciders by Farnum Hill at Poverty Lane Orchard are awfully funky. 🙂 I like Champlain Orchards Cidery, too.

8. Without spoiling, what was your favorite scene to write in BITTERSWEET?

The cider tasting scene! I cracked myself right up there.

9. One thing I loved about BITTERSWEET was its celebration of local, farm fresh items and small businesses. What are some of your favorite products that you can only get when you are in Vermont?

There ARE a million awesome Vermont foods. Vermont Peanut Butter company makes a flavor called Good Karma that has dark chocolate in it. I love it desperately.

10. Any teases or hints you want to give about STEADFAST or KEEPSAKE? (AKA what I really want to know is will Zach get a story? Because I adored him!)

I will tell you that Zach is book #3 and that you haven’t met his heroine yet. But that’s all I’ll say!

Interesting

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Contest

 Enter to win an kindle, kobo, or nook copy of Bittersweet by Sarina Bowen.

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rippling

four-stars
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Monday, May 30, 2016

Audio Review: You by Caroline Kepnes

Posted by Irish in 5 Stars, Adult, Audiobook, Review0 Comments

Audio Review: You by Caroline KepnesYou by Caroline Kepnes
Narrator: Santino Fontana
Series: You,
Also in this series: Hidden Bodies (You, #2)
Published by Simon & Schuster Audio on 30 Sept 2014
Genres: Abduction, Adult, Contemporary (No Romance Focus), Dating & Sex, Death & Dying, Emotions & Feelings, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Suspense, Thrillers
Length: 11 hrs and 6 mins
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible.com
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
five-stars
Also by this author: Hidden Bodies (You, #2)

Place(s) Traveled To: New York, New York // Bridgeport, Connecticut // Little Compton, Rhode Island // Fall River, Massachusetts

First Line(s): You walk into the bookstore and you keep your hand on the door to make sure it doesn’t slam.

 

My first thought upon finishing YOU by Caroline Kepnes was “what the heck did I just read?” but more than that I was lost in just how good it was. YOU is supremely well written and takes a character, in this case Joe Goldberg, who is a terrible terrible person and makes you LIKE him. Not just that but you kind of sympathize with him and understand why he is doing what he is doing. Which is a total mind fuck since Joe is a deranged stalker who kills people and so shouldn’t be a sympathetic character. From the moment that I started YOU on audio I was enthralled. Santino Fontana *is* Joe Goldberg and he totally brings this character and this world to life. I can’t imagine experiencing this book in any other format than the audio because Fontana is just such a great narrator. He gave me chills and he made me like Joe. Again, Joe is not a character to like so its slightly disturbing and part of what makes YOU such a good book.

I know that YOU isn’t a book that is for everyone and I think that a reader will either love it or hate it. I don’t think that there is any shades of grey with this one. Because Joe is crazy. There is no way around it but the people that he meets aren’t the best either. Not that any of them deserve their fate but when you see them through Joe’s eyes and hear his thoughts you can believe his rationale as it works for him. Even as you sit on the edge of your seat begging the other person to make a different choice since you know what Joe has planned if they make the wrong one. Before I read YOU I really didn’t think it would be a book that I would like but after…well…after I found it hard to leave Kepne’s world behind because she is just so talented and her words so powerful that I wanted the story to last.

You Quote

If you like thrillers and audiobooks that I strongly recommend that you experience YOU in that format. I think that the spoken word is just so powerful at times and with Fontana as the narrator it almost feels like you are sitting across form Joe listening to him tell his story. Which is terrifying since, as I’ve said, he’s a crazy stalker who kills people and not the sort of person that you ever want to cross paths with. Joe is a total sociopath and I just bow down to Kepnes in her characterization of this character. Joe is just so real that you really think he’s in the room with you as this book progresses whispering in your ear and sending chills down your spine. The images that Kepnes’s words evoke are so vivid that if I closed my eyes I could picture each and every one.

YOU was a fantastic listening experience and one that I wish I could experience again for the first time. This is seriously one of my favorite reads of the year and I like it more the more I think back on it. YOU is the sort of book that stays with you long after you read it and is a really hard experience to describe to others. I could not stop listening to this book and think its unlike any other story out there. Its totally riveting and I really can’t wait to see what Kepnes comes up with next. If you haven’t experienced this book yet then you need to move it up your TBR pile. I don’t think that you’ll be disappointed!!

irishdarkblue

IR - You

Add Stolen by Lucy Christopher to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

As of this posting, there is only one book that I can think of that makes a good read-a-like for YOU. If I think of something later then I will update this post. Or if you know of I good read-a-like then let me know in the comments and I’ll credit you and link back to your review!

five-stars
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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Review: Nothing Like Paris by Amy Jo Cousins

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

Review: Nothing Like Paris by Amy Jo CousinsNothing Like Paris by Amy Jo Cousins
Series: Bend or Break, Book 2
Also in this series: Off Campus
Published by Samhain Publishing on 03 March 2015
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, Friends to Lovers, Friendship, GLBT, Love & Romance, New Adult, People of Color, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues
Pages: 249
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
three-stars
Also by this author: Off Campus

Place(s) Traveled To: Colchester Falls, Iowa // Carlisle, Massachusetts

First Line(s): The girl whose nonstop monologue about intersectionality and film had kept him company for eleven hundred miles – from the East Coast all the way to the cornfields of Iowa – kicked him to the vurb in the pre-dawn hours, duffel bag at his feet, banjo case strapped across his back.

NOTHING LIKE PARIS is the second book in Amy Jo Cousins’s Bend or Break series and stars a secondary character from the first book, Jake. Jake was a bit of a bully in the last book and despite the reasons he thought he had the school has a low tolerance for bullies and he’s put on probation and might be kicked out. As a result he heads back to the small town where he is from feeling as though all his hopes and dreams are over and not sure where he will go from there. When he returns home he runs into his old boyfriend, Miguel. The two have some issues to work out but from the moment that their paths cross again there is chemistry. For the most part I liked their relationship and story better than OFF CAMPUS (my review) but I still had some issues with it.

Most especially with all the derogatory comments about Community Colleges. Miguel is a small business owner taking classes to get a degree and Jake kind of shits all over that. Jake thinks it would be better for Miguel to go to his big fancy school and that it was the only way for Miguel to live his dreams. But it seemed like Miguel was living his dream and that the only thing that was missing was someone to love and share that with. It seriously went up my butt sideways though all the horrible comments made on Community Colleges. Community Colleges can make for a great stepping stone to a four year college and they have some tougher and more challenging curriculums than some four year universities. Credits and that Associates degree are also transferable so I hated the implication that NOTHING LIKE PARIS gave that they weren’t, that the time Miguel spent at a Community College was wasted and he’d have to start from scratch at a four year university if he transferred to one. *hulk smash*

Nothing Like Paris Quote

My issues with how Cousins deals with Community Colleges aside, and when I strip away my ragey feelings, I did enjoy NOTHING LIKE PARIS. I have always had a soft spot for second chance romance stories and NOTHING LIKE PARIS did hit all the right notes there. I loved traveling though Jake and Miguel’s journey as their story made my heart ache. I was cheering for them all the way through to their happily ever after. Though I do wish that there had been a little bit more from that ending which felt a little inconclusive to me. Although maybe we’ll get mentions of Jake and Miguel in other books in this series so I’ll have to read them to find out.

I don’t think that NOTHING LIKE PARIS will ever be a total fan favorite for me but it was a quick read and kept me entertained on the plane ride home from Greece. Its a good brain candy sort of read that would make a good beach or crappy weather read. I liked how Cousins redeemed Jake from the first book and how he made amends for his actions. I always do enjoy a good redemption story because the characters are always so much stronger in the end. I enjoyed the bond that regrew between Miguel and Jake and they are characters that I will miss now that their book is over so I do hope that we see them again, some how, as the series progresses.

 

 

irishdarkblue

IR - Nothing Like Paris

 

Add Focus on Me by Megan Erickson to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

Add Love Me Tenor by Annabeth Albert to Goodreads (Click here for my review.)

three-stars
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Monday, March 28, 2016

Review: Bookishly Ever After by Isabel Bandeira

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

Review: Bookishly Ever After by Isabel BandeiraBookishly Ever After by Isabel Bandeira
Series: Ever After,
Published by Spencer Hill on 19 January 2016
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Family, Friendship, Love & Romance, People of Color, Young Adult
Pages: 378
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
three-stars

Place(s) Traveled To: Lambertfield, New Jersey // Pine Barrons, New Jersey // Boston,

First Line(s): I rocked forward, balancing my book on my knees and tried to ignore the yelling and chatter around me.

BOOKISHLY EVER AFTER by Isabel Bandeira is a book that had me written all over it and I was very excited to receive a review copy of it. For me, this was a short read and I read it on the plane on the way home from visiting a friend in Michigan. It kept me awake and entertained but it was also kind of forgettable. This is the sort of book that I’m wishing I’d read on my ereader or when connected to wifi because I have no notes for it and only a few dog-eared pages (*gasps…I know!!*) to make things of interest in the story. I do recall that there were things that I liked out the main character, Phoebe, but there were things I didn’t like about her either.

Phoebe is the sort of girl that most bookish souls can relate to (and maybe even were in their high school days) she’d rather read at lunch than discuss fashion trends or gossip. Her idea of a fun day is to go to a book signing at the mall over shopping at the mall. That’s not to say she’s a total geek, because she’s not, she just isn’t always into the same things as her friends are. Her friends, for the most part, accept this side of Phoebe and let her live in her books but also make sure she gets out and enjoys the life of your average teenage. I did like the friendship aspect of this book and thought that Phoebe and her friends were solid and realistic and no frenemies in sight.

Bookishly Ever After Quote

Where Phoebe got on my nerves was with how actively she seemed to avoid the realization that a boy she liked actually liked her back. Despite all evidence to the contrary, and even with her friends shooting her therories down, she had blinders on when it came to Dev. As such, this girl ran so hot and cold when it came to him that it was frustrating to watch and I don’t blame Dev for how he acted at times. Dating is hard enough without adding mental obstacles to the whole ordeal…especially in the shark infested waters that is high school! I often wanted to reach into this book and give Phoebe a good shake because she was just so over the top clueless.

On the whole BOOKISHLY EVER AFTER isn’t a bad book. Its cute and fun but it is forgettable. This isn’t a book that I’ll reach for when my brain can’t handle words but yet wants words because I’m not entirely sure that it will stick in my brain for the long term. Its a clean book (from what I recall) and good for a younger teen but older teens may not like it as much as there is little in the way of drama. Which isn’t always a bad thing but sometimes you just want something more in a story. Perhaps it just wasn’t the time or place for me to read this book. Depending on its plot, I may check out the sequel but if its more Phoebe cluelessness and a breaking up of the HEA then I will probably give it a pass. I like HEAs and even though HS relationships rarely last forever I do like ending a book with happy characters.

 

irishdarkblue

IR - Bookishly Ever After

 

Add On the Fence by Kasie West to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

Add The Art of Lainey by Paula Stokes to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

three-stars
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Thursday, February 11, 2016

Review: Off Campus by Amy Jo Cousins

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

Review: Off Campus by Amy Jo CousinsOff Campus by Amy Jo Cousins
Series: Bend or Break,
Also in this series: Nothing Like Paris
Published by Samhain Publishing on 30 December 2014
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, GLBT, Love & Romance, New Adult, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues
Pages: 317
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
three-half-stars
Also by this author: Nothing Like Paris

Place(s) Traveled To: Boston, Massachusetts // Carlisle, Massachusetts

First Line(s): His bed was missing.

I forget how I first heard of OFF CAMPUS by Amy Jo Cousins but I do recall being drawn to it because it was an opposites attract story. OFF CAMPUS is the story of Reese and Tom who are both unexpectedly sharing a dorm room at their elite college in Western Massachusetts. Tom is mostly just looking for a place to crash as he finishes up his degree after taking some time off due to a scandal that left him broke and his father in jail. Reese is openly gay and was bullied the previous year and thought that he’d be getting a single for this year in school. What’s worse is that Tom is a former jock and as Reese’s bullies were jocks they don’t get off on the right foot. What Reese doesn’t realize is that Tom is bisexual and doesn’t mind that Reese is gay, in fact, he likes his new roommate more than he wants to admit.

Off Campus Quote

OFF CAMPUS is a slow burn romance with a lot of push and pull between Reese and Tom. Reese, while attracted to Tom, decides the best way to deal with a potential homophobic jock roommate is to flaunt his flings in front of him. I do love a good slow burn story and Tom and Reese really made me smile. Even if I wanted to shake them at times because initially Reese could be such an asshole to Tom. But I did love watching the two of them come together and form a bond of friendship and then of something more. I also enjoyed most of the secondary characters in this book, especially Cash, who just brought a lot of humor into every scene that he was in. Tom was a little overly paranoid for my tastes and that aspect of his character did get old. I much preferred him when he became more comfortable in his own skin.

OFF CAMPUS was a quick read that I enjoyed a lot though the third person narration was a little off putting. The POV would shift to focus on both Tom and Reese but more time was spent with Tom and I wish that it had been a more even split. The third person narration also acted like a wall between the reader and the characters and so you don’t get them as well as you might otherwise. This story also got a little choppy and uneven at the end and there are some events that happened that left me shaking my head in confusion as they seemed to come out of nowhere. Overall though, I did enjoy this story and I liked Amy Jo Cousins’s writing enough that I am curious to check out more titles by her.

irishdarkblue

IR - Off Campus

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

Add Treble Maker by Annabeth Albert to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

three-half-stars
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Thursday, November 12, 2015

Review: The Fixer by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Review, Young Adult4 Comments

Review: The Fixer by Jennifer Lynn BarnesThe Fixer by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Series: The Fixer,
Also in this series: The Long Game
Published by Bloomsbury on 07 July 2015
Genres: Contemporary (No Romance Focus), Emotions & Feelings, Family, Friendship, Mystery & Detective, People & Places, Politics & Intrigue, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 384
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
four-stars
Also by this author: The Naturals, The Long Game

Place(s) Traveled To: Unnamed, Montana // Washington DC // Boston, Massachusetts // Unnamed Virginia

Fist Line(s): As far as I could tell, my history teacher had three passions in life: quoting Shakespeare, identifying historical inaccuracies in cable TV shows, and berating Ryan Washburn.

If you’ve ever heard my stance on book epilogues then you know my stance on book comparisons, you know what I mean, when a book x is compared to book y or z because so rarely is the initial book anything like the ones its compared to. So when I heard that THE FIXER by Jennifer Lynn Barnes was compared to Scandal and Veronica Mars I was intrigued but wary. Veronica Mars is among my more favorite of television shows and while I am not as big a fan of Scandal as I once was I do still tune in every week. With both shows I loved the mystery and the drama and the snark of the characters and these are all things that you will find in THE FIXER. Rarely has a book comparison ever been more perfect because THE FIXER is a combination of those two things and more.

The story centers around Tess Kendrick who is uprooted from her home in Montana to live with her sister, Ivy, who is the Olivia Pope-like character in this book. And because of who Tess’s sister is she sort of gets forced into that role in her new school where things quickly spiral out of control. Along the way you meet a wonderful cast of side characters that really bring this whole story to life. THE FIXER is a fast paced story that I found absolutely addictive. It was smart and funny and kept me on the edge of my seat until I hit the last page. I loved how all of these characters interacted and my only real complaint is that there wasn’t enough romance in the story. Although there is plenty of potential and in some ways I do like how this one just has the beginnings of a relationship because its more real than insta-love.

The Fixer Quote

THE FIXER is filled with mystery, drama and suspense but at its core its a story about family and friendship. Tess and her sister were estranged for many years and there is much animosity and secrets that exist between them. There is tension and angst and anyone with a sibling can probably find something in their relationship to relate to. Not to mention the friendships because as I said the secondary characters in this book are really something special. THE FIXER is a book with meat behind it and when you read it the story feels real. Barnes creates such a vivid world that its so easy to picture the events in your mind as they unfold and this is a book that I would love to see as a TV Series.

THE FIXER is also really hard to talk about without giving anything away. Its a mystery and as such there are twists and turns along with various red herrings to try and fool the readers. There is no major cliff hanger to the book but there are enough open threads that will easily feed into its sequel, THE LONG GAME, which is due to be released in June 2016. Words can’t express just how excited I am for this book and with luck maybe more books to follow because I really enjoyed Tess’s story and I don’t think that I’ll be ready for it to come to an end. This is definitely a book that you don’t want to miss.

irishdarkblue

IR - The Fixer

 

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

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

four-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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Monday, June 15, 2015

Audio Review: The Book of Luke by Jenny O’Connell

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

Audio Review: The Book of Luke by Jenny O’ConnellThe Book of Luke by Jenny O'Connell
Narrator: Cassandra Case
Published by MTV Books on 31 May 2013
Genres: Adolescence, Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Friendship, Love & Romance, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Young Adult
Length: 7 hours 24 minutes
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible.com
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
three-stars

Place(s) Traveled To: Chicago, Illinois // Brandford, Massachusetts (2006)

First Line(s): There are two problems with being the daughter of a best-selling etiquette guru.

The Book of Luke by Jenny O’Connell is one of those books that I bought forever ago because it came to me highly recommend. This book, originally published in 2007, has then been recommended me to me several times over so when looking for a new audio I decided to finally give it a try. Then I proceeded to wonder if I was reading a different book than everyone else because I really didn’t like this one much at all. I found the main character, Emily, to be one of the most annoying and self-centered characters ever. She was so judgmental of those around her and refused to see people for who they were now and instead kept trying to push them into who they were when she last lived in town many years ago.

So much of The Book of Luke was spent with Emily reflecting on events in the past. More time seemed to be spent in the past than in the now and it just got frustrating because I wanted to now more about who those people where now and not when they were 12 or so. This then gave a skewed look at the various characters because kids grow and change so much from junior high to high school. Although Emily seems to have stayed the same, the judgmental good girl who thought she knew best while her BFFs became petty and borderline mean girls. And while Emily tried to be a mean girl she really just wasn’t and this resulted in many sighs and eye rolls on my part.

Book of Luke Quote

Then you have the plot of The Book of Luke where Emily and her friends are trying to “cure” Luke of his bad behavior because of how he broke up with one of them. So Emily fake dates him in order to write a guide for other girls on how to train their men to behave how they want. Of all the crazy egotistical things. You can’t change how people are and not all people aren’t meant to be together. How Luke acted with the friend, who wasn’t the best behaved person in that relationship, really isn’t a total reflection on him because the two were like oil and water and they did not work. Emily and Luke worked as they had more in common only she saw common courtesy as proof that she changed him. Oy with the poodles!!

The ending of The Book of Luke was quick and not unexpected. There was conflict and drama and people doing mean things to their friends instead of talking to each other. Then in a blink all was well and everything was wrapped up in a neat little bow. And I was left wondering what was so amazing about this book when it was just so-so.  The narrator of this one, Cassandra Case, also didn’t help me to love this book as it often seemed like she was holding her nose when she was speaking for certain characters. When she wasn’t doing that her voices all seemed very similar and so it was often hard to know who was talking when. But my biggest issue with Case was her inability to pronounce some basic words and phrases. So I may have enjoyed this one more if I’d read it rather than listened to it but probably not by much.

irishdarkblue

IR - Book of Luke

 

Add The Art of Lainey by Paula Stokes to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

Add Fool Me Twice by Mandy Hubbard to Goodreads.

three-stars
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Monday, May 25, 2015

Review: The Mistake by Elle Kennedy

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

Review: The Mistake by Elle KennedyThe Mistake by Elle Kennedy
Series: Off-Campus, Book 2
Also in this series: The Deal, The Score
Published by Self-Published on 28 April 2015
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Love & Romance, New Adult, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Sports & Athletics
Pages: 297
Format: eBook
Source: Gift
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars
Also by this author: The Deal, Him, The Score, Us

Place(s) Traveled To: Hastings, Massachusetts // Munsen, Massachusetts

First Line(s): Lusting over your best friend’s girlfriend sucks.

Once I finished The Deal by Elle Kennedy (my review) I was itching to dive into Logan’s story, The Mistake. Luckily I didn’t have too long to wait from finishing The Deal in order to do so. The Mistake was just as good as The Deal, if not better because I liked both the main characters so much better. Grace was just so sweeet and likable and Logan….well Logan was totally swoon worthy and I loved beyond loved how he wasn’t to woo Grace. Granted he did make a big mistake and while I wanted to shake him for it I liked how he owned up to it and did all he could to win Grace back. I liked that he was less domineering with Grace and let her set the terms of potentially getting back together. The terms being a list of things for him to do to prove his seriousness. Things like finding a red chaise lounge chair for example, the purpose of which you’ll have to read The Mistake to find out.

I also liked how we had some amazing cameos from Garrett and the various characters from The Deal as I find that these things really help flesh out a story and make it more real. Friends don’t just disappear from a persons life when they find their happily ever after, well, not true friends. So it always seems a little false that in many books that we rarely see the characters that came before the current story just because they already found their happy ending. For the most part, I really loved The Mistake. I did hate Grace’s BFF and wish that I could have skipped scenes with her in it. She just didn’t seem like a good fit for Grace and she was definitely one of those fake best friends who care more for herself than for anyone around her, Grace included.

The Mistake Quote

But Logan, oh dear sweet foolish and lovable Logan he totally made up for any and all dislike I had for Grace’s BFF. My heart ached for him so much and when you learn his backstory you will know why. Though I do think that the resolution to The Mistake was a bit too nicely wrapped up in a bow I am glad that things worked out as they did. Reality can be hard. And in the real world things would have ended up differently for Logan so I am glad in a work of fiction the author can engineer things that the realities of the world aren’t too harsh and soul crushing.

Now I’m sure that Elle Kennedy gets various things wrong with hockey and the draft and other things too but sometimes you just don’t care about any of that when you fall for the story. The Mistake is the sort of book that I would have read in a single day if I was able. I hated to put it down and was very sad when I ran out of words to read. Its the sort of book that I almost turned back to page 1 in order to read it all over again. Its a sweet story and a believable one. Its a book that can be read independently but the reading experience can only be better if you first meet Logan in The Deal. I fell in love with this world and these characters and I can’t wait to see what Elle Kennedy comes up with next.

 

irishdarkblue

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

Add The One & Only by Viv Daniels to Goodreads. (Click here for my review)

 

four-stars
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