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Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Sort-Of Return of a Terrible Blogger (aka Rapid Reviews #1)

Posted by Irish in Review1 Comment

Ack!!

2017 has not been a good year for me blogging wise. Its not that I don’t want to blog I just get so overwhelmed with how far behind I am on reviews and so run away from the open blog post window and escape into a book. Which then just makes the cycle repeat. So I think that I am just not going to try. Which is a terrible thing for a blogger to say…but its October 2017 and I’m like 158 blog posts in the hole….there is no way I am digging myself out that that with any grace. lol

So instead what I am going to do is draft up a series of posts listing out the books I’ve read each month. Starting with some of my 2016 backlog….yes, I still have books to review from 2016. 

 

I will mention the book, my star rating, and will add in a line or two of thoughts for those books I remember enough to comment on. Maybe one day, for some of them, I’ll write up something longer. But for now I think that this is what I can handle and then I can start of 2018 with a clean slate. Because I do miss blogging. I’ve just been doing this for ten years and got a bit overwhelmed so I think this break has been good for me. That said here are my first Rapid Reviews.

READ IN 2016 – Part 1

1. Title: All Note Long
Author: Annabeth Albert
Series: Perfect Harmony, Book 3
Genre: New Adult, MM Contemporary Romance
Rating: 4 stars
Source: Netgalley
Rapid Review: This was such a fun story and I just loved the push and pull between these characters. They gave me all the heart-achy feels that I love and I had such a hard time putting this one down. A great end to a fun series.
Recommend: Yes!

2. Title: Interference
Author: Kay Honeyman
Series: Standalone
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance
Rating: 3 stars
Source: Edelweiss
Rapid Review: This one left me wanting something more. I also did not like the main character. She was so clueless about everything, her love interest was always trying to make her look like an idiot, and her parents were just awful. I went into this one with high hopes and found it to be just so-so.
Recommend: Not really

3. Title: Even Odds
Author: Elia Winters
Series: Slices of Pi, Book 1
Genre: Adult, Contemporary Romance
Rating: 3 stars
Source: Netgalley
Rapid Review: So…I kind of recall reading this one but I also don’t really remember much else. GR says I read it in a day which is usually a good thing, but I made no notes. So, in the end a forgettable read.
Recommend: um…maybe? lol

4. Title: Two Summers
Author: Aimee Friedman
Narrator: Frankie Corzo
Series: Standalone
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Parallel World
Rating: 4 stars
Source: Purchased
Rapid Review: This was such a fun story!! I loved how Friedman pulled off the parallel words and how she brought everything full circle for a satisfactory ending. The narrator was A+ and really helped to bring these characters to life. I wasn’t always a fan of the secondary characters (Ruby 😡 ) but I could totally relate to Summer.
Recommend: Yes!

5. Title: The Star-Touched Queen
Author: Roshani Chokshi
Narrator: Priya Ayyar
Series: The Star-Touched Queen, Book 1
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Rating: 2 stars
Source: Purchased
Rapid Review: ZOMG this MC bugged the ever loving crap out of me! Talk about your TSTL sort of heroine. I spent much of the book wanting to shake her and the rest rolling my eyes. I found the plot to be repetitive and really the only thing that kept me in this one until the end was the narrator.
Recommend: Nope!

6. Title: Girl Against the Universe
Author: Paula Stokes
Series: Standalone
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Rating: 4 stars
Source: Publisher
Rapid Review: This was one of those books that I didn’t mean to start when I picked it up and then became so engrossed I couldn’t put it down. I loved these characters and the story that Stokes told. I do think that some things were a little rushed but overall just a great story that kept me up into the wee hours of the morning. <3
Recommend: Yes!

7. Title: Holding Up the Universe
Author: Jennifer Niven
Series: Standalone
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Rating: 4 stars
Source: Publisher
Rapid Review: This was sent to me by a sales rep friend of mine and I wasn’t sure if it was a me book. But my starts, this friend gets me and the books that I like. I fell in love with these MCs and had such a hard time putting this one down. It just hit me right in the feels and I can’t recommend it enough.
Recommend: Yes!

8. Title: Wolf by Wolf
Author: Ryan Graudin
Narrator: Christa Lewis
Series: Wolf by Wolf, Book 1
Genre: Young Adult, Alternate History
Rating: 3 stars
Source: Purchased
Rapid Review: I went into this one with high hopes and was terribly disappointed. It was so very sssllllooowww! Nothing seemed to happen for much of the story and then you blink and its over in this crazy convoluted climatic scene. Ugh. I was annoyed more than anything and not sure if I’ll ever pick up sequel as I really don’t care about these characters.
Recommend: Maybe

9. Title: Connection Error
Author: Annabeth Albert
Series: #gaymers, Book 3
Genre: New Adult, MM Contemporary Romance
Rating: 3.5 stars
Source: Netgalley
Rapid Review: Annabeth Albert is a total must read author for me as she writes such wonderful characters. There is angst and heart ache and everything just ends in a happy sigh. I know when I pick up an Albert book that I’ll most likely read it in one sitting and be left wanting more and this one was no exception.
Recommend: Yes

10. Title: Shadow Magic
Author: Joshua Khan
Narrator: Ramon de Ocampo
Series: Shadow Magic, Book 1
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy
Rating: 4 stars
Source: Purchased
Rapid Review: It took me FOREVER to start this one, not because anything was wrong with story but because I was so scared I wouldn’t like it that I was afraid to start it. But once I did I was totally sucked in. Loved these characters (HADES!!!) and this world. Such a fun, fast paced middle grade series. My only real disappointment was that they didn’t use two narrators. There were POV chapters from Lily’s POV and they would have been even better with a female narrator to go along with them.
Recommend: Most definitely!

11. Title: The Only Thing Worse Than Me is You
Author: Lily Anderson
Series: Standalone
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Rating: 4 stars
Source: Netgalley
Rapid Review: Holy geekery goodness! I loved everything about this story. Trixie was a character that I could easily relate to and this story took me notice or at all to read. I think I had a big smile on my face for much of the book. Lots of pop culture nerd references which you don’t see a lot of in YA characters. The only real thing missing was that the romance wasn’t super romancy (i.e. not enough kissing) but there is a companion coming out so I hope to see more of these characters in that book!
Recommend: Si Senor

12. Title: Gemina
Author: Amie Kaufmann and Jay Kristoff
Series: The Illuminae Files, Book 2
Genre: Young Adult, Sci-Fi
Rating: 4 stars
Source: Publisher
Rapid Review: I DEVOURED Illuminae and was super excited for Gemini. While I didn’t love this as much as the first I did still enjoy it. This one was a wee bit more love triangly (though not terribly so) than I would have liked. Overall this was still an addicting read and I am really curious to see where things go in the third book.
Recommend: Heck yeah!

13. Title: One Silver Summer
Author: Rachel Hickman
Series: Standalone
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Rating: 2 stars
Source: Gift
Rapid Review: This one seemed like it would be totally up my ally but oh my stars it was painful to read!! I did read it in a single sitting as I kept hoping for improvement but alas this one was a dud. Too many one off POVs, easy story lines to figure out and a way to annoying heroine just wrecked this one for me.
Recommend: Nope. Nope. Nope.

14. Title: Cold-Hearted Rake
Author: Lisa Kleypas
Series: The Ravenels, Book 1
Genre: Adult, Historical Romance
Rating: 3 stars
Source: Purchased
Rapid Review: Kleypas is usually an easy sell for me but I didn’t love this one as much as her others. I really wasn’t a fan of how the heroine’s sister hijacked much of the book. This is all the more annoying when you know that book 2 is the sisters book so much of what happened here should have happened there. I liked the characters for the most part those the heroine did annoy me more than I would have liked as well.
Recommend: Yes, but not to everyone

15.Title: The Deepest Blue
Author: Christina Lee
Series: Roadmap to Your Heart, Book 2
Genre: New Adult, MM Romance
Rating: 3 stars
Source: Purchased
Rapid Review: I always love a good Christina Lee story and have been enjoying her foray into MM romances. And while I enjoyed this one there was just something missing that kept me from loving it entirely. I liked the family interactions and the push/pull between the two MCs…I just can’t put my finger on what didn’t set my heart aflutter. Still worth the read though if you stumble on it 🙂
Recommend: Yes

16.Title: Overexposed
Author: Megan Erickson
Series: In Focus, Book 4
Genre: New Adult, MM Contemporary Romance
Rating: 4 stars
Source: Purchased
Rapid Review: Oh star this book!! Oh how these characters made my heart ache in all the best possible of ways. I could not put this book down and its totally my favorite in the series. I loved how this story progressed and how Erickson brought them to their HEA. Biggest regret is that it had to end.
Recommend: YES!!

17.Title: All the Wrong Places
Author: Ann Gallagher
Series: Bluewater Bay, Book 14
Genre: New Adult, MM Contemporary Romance (Ace MC)
Rating: 3 stars
Sourced: Library
Rapid Review: This one drew me because of the Ace MC but I did feel like I was being lectured to a lot about the different types of love. It also seemed a little too, gay for you at times as well, but that may have just been my frustration with how some of the characters acted and all the lectures. I also really hated on character and wasn’t a fan of the epilogue. Why oh why do I read epilogues? Overall though, I did like how different types of sexuality were explored in this book as there aren’t enough Ace characters in books.
Recommend: Yes

18.Title: Fly With Me
Author: Chanel Cleeton
Series: Wild Aces, Book 1
Genre: Adult, Contemporary Romance
Rating: 4 stars
Source: Publisher
Rapid Review: Hello sexy fly boys! I don’t read a ton of military romances but I did enjoy this one. The characters were fun and the chemistry sizzled off the page. There was lots of great banter and angst and I just rushed right through this one until I hit the end of the book.
Recommend: Yes

19.Title: Shuffle, Repeat
Author: Jen Klein
Series: Standalone
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Rating: 3.5 stars
Source: Purchased
Rapid Review: This one started off of so adorably cute and I was loving every page. I was flying through the pages but then it all just took a turn near the end. I still liked it but it totally killed some of my enjoyment of the whole story.  Definitely worth the read though if you are looking for something cute to pass the time.
Recommend: Yes

20.Title: Frazzled: Everyday Disasters of Impending Doom
Author: Booki Vivat
Series: Frazzled, Book 1
Genre: Middle Grade, Contemporary
Rating: 3 stars
Source: Edelweiss
Rapid Review: I don’t read a ton of middle grade but I did adore this one. Its a mix of drawing and story and it just all flowed really well. Abbie Wu is a character that was easy to identify with and the story made me laugh out loud at times. It was a super quick read and I am looking forward to reading more of Abbie’s adventures in middle school.
Recommend: Yes

Reviews Left in the Queue

2016: 30
2017: 111
Total Reviews: 138

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Friday, January 6, 2017

Review: Off Base by Annabeth Albert

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Adult, Review0 Comments

Review: Off Base by Annabeth AlbertOff Base (Out of Uniform, #1) by Annabeth Albert
Published by Carina Press on January 9th 2017
Genres: Adult, Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, Friends to Lovers, GLBT, Love & Romance, Contemporary Romance, Social Issues, War & Military
Pages: 304
Source: Netgalley
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars
Also by this author: Treble Maker, Status Update, Love Me Tenor, Beta Test

Place(s) Traveled To: West Hollywood, California // Coronado, California // San Diego, California

First Line(s): “What do you mean they’re not coming?” Zack tried hard to sound like the badass navy SEAL he was now.

OFF BASE is the newest release from a new favorite author of mine, Annabeth Albert. I’ve been devouring everything she’s written and so was very excited to get my hands on this one. Especially since its a spin off of her #gaymers series which I adored. We first meet the main characters in OFF BASE, in CONNECTION ERROR (review coming soon) and Zack seems even more up tight than he was when we first meet him. Its a good thing that Pike worms his way into his life because he is Zack’s opposite in many ways and the two of them really work well together.

OFF BASE is filled to the brim of heart achy feels because Zack is just so tortured about who he really is. He’s been brainwashed since he was young that being gay was wrong and he’s faced nothing but homophobia since which has made it hard to be comfortable in his own skin. Things start to change when he is roomed with Ryan in the VA hospital and he starts to see another side to what he thought he always knew. I loved all the moments between Zack and Pike and the cameos of Ryan and Josiah. They all just made my heart sing. What I didn’t like was the homophobia that ran rampant throughout the book. It just made my skin crawl whenever Zack’s teammates said something or when Zack talked to his parents.

Overall though, I really enjoyed the relationship between Pike and Zack. I do wish that Zack was a little more comfortable in who he was but I understood it. I also liked watching Pike come into his own as he found his grove in teaching. I liked that he learned that sometimes the unexpected path could lead to something even better than what he dreamed was possible. And once Pike and Zack started to put their difference aside this story because a favorite enemies to lovers story. There was just so much tension between Pike and Zack that I couldn’t stop turning the pages in order to see how they would reach their happily ever after.

I find that Annabeth Albert really excels at writing a feel good story that often packs a punch to the emotions. Her characters are real and raw and they are all so uniquely drawn. Every story she tells does follow a certain path but there is always a fresh spin that keeps me coming back for more. The are quick, engrossing reads that I just suck up when I get my hands on one. I lose track of time until I hit the final page and then I am sad because I can’t read the story for the first time again. If you are a fan of MM Romances then you really want to give Annabeth Albert a try.

Add Just Drive by L.A. Witt to Goodreads. (Review coming soon.)

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

four-stars
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Thursday, January 5, 2017

Audio Review: Hidden Bodies by Caroline Kepnes

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Adult, Review0 Comments

Audio Review: Hidden Bodies by Caroline KepnesHidden Bodies (You, #2) by Caroline Kepnes
on 23 February 2016
Genres: Abduction, Action & Adventure, Adult, Dating & Sex, Death & Dying, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Illnesses & Injuries, Love & Romance, Mystery & Detective, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Suspense
Length: 13 hrs and 3 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: You

Place(s) Traveled To: New York, New York // Little Compton, Rhode Island // Los Angeles, California // Malibu, California // Palm Springs, California // Cabo San Lucas, Mexico // Las Vegas, Nevada // Reno, Nevada

First Line(s): I buy violets for Amy. Not roses. Roses are for people who did something wrong.

Joe is back!

And he’s just as crazy as ever. HIDDEN BODIES is the sequel to Caroline Kepnes’s YOU (my review) which introduces us to Joe, a total sociopath that you just can’t help but love. As a reader, you know that Joe is crazy-pants and that what he is doing is wrong and yet it all seems so logical when you read his thoughts on why he does the things that he does. In HIDDEN BODIES, Joe has moved on to a new relationship “choosing better” as he says with a girl named Amy. As with the previous women that have come into Joe’s orbit Amy is a flawed character and that seems to be what draws Joe to them. Its as if the inevitable betrayal is what drives Joe to choose these women because deep down he really wants to give into his baser instincts of murder.

In HIDDEN BODIES, Amy does a thing that as a reader just makes you gasp as we know what Joe is capable of when he is betrayed. Amy does not. Which makes you feel for Amy but yet at the same time you are also angry at her for not living up to Joe’s expectations. Its really amazing just how much Kepnes’s writing puts the reader on Joe’s side as he’s usually the character we want the hero or heroine of the story to capture and put behind bars. But with YOU and HIDDEN BODIES all you want is for Joe to find peace and happiness. Its a strange feeling to be cheering for the bad guy and yet, how can you not?

HIDDEN BODIES is a fast paced thriller that will keep the reader on the edge of their seat. Santino Fontana returns to narrate the story and he just becomes Joe. Fontana’s is a voice that is going to be hard for me to separate from this character as it just fits Joe so perfectly. Fontana’s narration style just sets the perfect mood for HIDDEN BODIES and makes it so easy to fall for Joe and to want him to come out on top. To find his place in the world and to be happy. Happiness isn’t easy for our Joe, he’s had a hard life, but by the end of HIDDEN BODIES you think that maybe things will turn out ok for him.

HIDDEN BODIES takes the reader to new places and we meet new characters. Some of whom are even worse than Joe. There are lots of ups and downs and twists and turns and where you end up is no where near where you thought you would. I fell for this story and just loved everything about it. I’m in awe of everything that Kepnes managed to do and know that I am going to want to rush out to grab her next book in hopes that its even half as good as this duology. Kepnes is a master of suspense and in defying expectations and this series is one that you must check out if you love a good mystery.

 

 

four-stars
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Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Review: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Posted by Irish in 3 Stars, Adult, Review0 Comments

Review: The Girl on the Train by Paula HawkinsThe Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
Published by Riverhead Books on 13 January 2015
Genres: Abduction, Adult, Contemporary (No Romance Focus), Death & Dying, Mystery & Detective, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Suspense
Pages: 336
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
three-stars

Place(s) Traveled To: London, England // Ashbury, England // Whitny, England // Train between Ashbury & London (2012, 2013)

First Line(s): There is a pile of clothing on the side of the train tracks.

THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN by Paula Hawkins isn’t my typical book these days as I do lean more towards the YA but I do love a good mystery. So when I heard that THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN was going to be a movie and all the love for the story I thought that I would give it a try. I was initially intrigued by the story and found it to be very readable and I thought that I was in for a really good book. Then the middle happened and the book just lost all of its steam. It started to drag and I found myself not wanting to pick it up. That coupled with how easy it was to predict turned a story that was filled with promise to one that was just meh by the end.

At first I felt sympathy for the various POV characters but that too fizzled out over the course of the book. They were all flawed and that added realism to them but there was nothing to redeem them. Rachel starts off as a character that you think you can be friends with. But then as the layers are pulled back she just becomes pathetic and so very hard to like. By the end of THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN I really didn’t care what had happened to the missing girl and kind of wish that all the characters would be killed off.

THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN was a readable story but it wasn’t an enjoyable on for me. I figured it all out before the 50% mark so there were no great reveals and part of me wishes I’d just skipped to the end to verify before DNFing the story. I don’t get the hype for it and as such I am not sure if I’ll watch the movie. I like my mysteries to be engaging and filled with some sort of action but all I got from THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN was a static story that never really went anywhere.

 

Add Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn to Goodreads.

Add In the Woods by Tana French to Goodreads.

 

three-stars
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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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Thursday, October 6, 2016

Review: Dance with Me by Heidi Cullinan

Posted by Irish in 3.5 Stars, Adult, Review0 Comments

Review: Dance with Me by Heidi CullinanDance with Me by Heidi Cullinan
Published by Self-Published on 26 July 2011
Genres: Adult, Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, Family, GLBT, Illnesses & Injuries, Love & Romance, Performing Arts, Contemporary Romance
Pages: 418
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
Setting: St Paul, Minnesota (2010)
three-stars
Also by this author: Love Lessons, Fever Pitch, Lonely Hearts, Short Stay, Enjoy the Dance

First Line(s): Ed Maurer tapped his thumb on his steering wheel as he inched through Twin Cities traffic, sloughing off a rough afternoon as he headed to Halcyon Center.

I became a fan of Heidi Cullinan when I read her series Love Lessons, in that series we meet a character named Ed Maurer who is the hero of her book DANCE WITH ME. DANCE WITH ME is a book with a trope that I like, the ol’ hate to love scenario and Ed and Laurie do not get along when we first meet them. Part of the issues between Ed and Laurie is because they don’t talk to each other. Once they do things start to change between them and they grow closer.

DANCE WITH ME is far from perfect and there were a few times where I rolled my eyes and got frustrated with the characters. There were times when the forward progression of the story stalled and Ed and Laurie just seemed to keep circling the same issues…getting and giving the same responses with the same distraction as a way to change one scene to another. Then there was that one scene that had me cringing. I won’t go into full details here but it involved a hot tub and a man that, while not blood related (I don’t think), but who Laurie called Uncle. And just *shudders* it totally took me out of the story and I wish I could scrub it from my brain.

dance-with-me-quote

Overall though I did like DANCE WITH ME. It was a quick read with an interesting cast of characters and enough momentum to the plot to keep me reading until the end. I liked Ed when he was with Laurie and vice versa. They two were opposites sides of the same coin and they brought out the best within each other. They each needed qualities found in the other to bring out things within themselves that they didn’t know they had. I liked how they worked to build a relationship even if they did go in circles at times.

As with most Heidi Cullinan books, the ending was a little too cutsey and too neatly tied up with a bow but I get why she gives the endings she does. They allow each book to be a standalone even as her characters spill out into her other stories. I loved meeting this version of Ed and Laurie which are different than who they are when we meet them later in the Love Lessons series. I like how her characters make these cross overs as it fleshes out the world that Cullinan has created and makes it a little more real. Her stories aren’t perfect but they do make for a good afternoon distraction.

irishdarkblue

ir-dance-with-me

Add Beta Test by Annabeth Albert to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

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

three-stars
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Monday, October 3, 2016

Blog Tour Review: Say It Louder by Heidi Joy Trethway

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

Blog Tour Review: Say It Louder by Heidi Joy Trethway

Blog Tour Review: Say It Louder by Heidi Joy TrethwaySay it Louder by Heidi Joy Tretheway
Series: Tattoo Thief,
Also in this series: Tattoo Thief, Tyler & Stella, Revenge Bound
Published by Self-Published on September 28, 2016
Genres: Adult, Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Love & Romance, Music & Musicians, Performing Arts, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues
Pages: 246
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
three-stars
Also by this author: Tattoo Thief, Tyler & Stella, Revenge Bound

 

Place(s) Traveled To: New York, New York // Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

First Line(s): I’m shaking as I leave Tyler’s loft.

One band. Five love stories. Too many secrets.

We’ve been waiting a long time to find out how the band Tattoo Thief will deal with drummer Dave’s toxic ex—and the secrets she’s been collecting on everyone. It was worth the wait.

You don’t have to be a fan of the series to love a book that starts fast with a huge wow moment and then unpacks the band’s secrets. In fact, you don’t have to read the earlier books because each book is a different love story about a different member of the band.

 About Say it Louder:

I had a choice—dump my toxic girlfriend, or break up my band.

It should have been easy. But she’s been collecting dirt on all of us for years.

Just when I think I’ve hit rock bottom, a pink-haired street artist rocks my world. They call Willa “the Parking Lot Picasso.” I call her my refuge, my center, my last reason to hope.

When Willa’s life on the streets collides with a sudden spotlight on her art, I’ll stop at nothing to protect her. But when the spotlight turns on my secret shame, she might be my only salvation.

Review

SAY IT LOUDER is the long awaited sequel in Heidi Joy Tretheway’s Tattoo Thief series and it picks up almost immediately after REVENGE BOUND ends. We see Dave at a crossroads with the members of his band and the after effects of choices he makes from that meeting. Though its a decision that’s a long time in coming since readers are well aware of the toxicity that is Dave’s girlfried, Kristina. We also know that Kristina won’t go quietly though I did expect there to be more tension and drama from her. The scenes with Kristina just fell flat for me as did much of this book. Perhaps, because I’d been waiting for it for so long that my expectations were higher than they may have been and as a result SAY IT LOUDER just never really lived up.

As an installment in the series, I liked where SAY IT LOUDER went but just never really felt the heat between Willa and Dave. Willa was intensely dislikable at first and Dave seemed a little wishy-washy. Willa does change over the course of the book but it seemed pretty sudden and I never really bought her change in behaviour. I didn’t really feel the heat between Willa and Dave but as a couple they did work. They definitely worked better than Dave and Kristina ever did. For me, SAY IT LOUDER just didn’t seem to hit the right now. It was well written but it just seemed to lack the heart of the other books and while I liked it I just didn’t love it as much as I’d wanted.

A portion of SAY IT LOUDER was also spent introducing a new character, Ryan, and placing her into the path of the main characters. As with the introduction of Willa in REVENGE BOUND, this was all part of a set up and we learn that there is to be another book in the series, SKIP A BEAT. Which I’m not entirely sure how I feel about it. On one hand, I like the idea of another rock star musician book but on the other I was ready for this series to be over. Ryan also wasn’t really developed enough in this book to give a sense on who she is and if her story is worth reading. Although, deep down I know that I will because I do enjoy Tretheway’s writing.

irishdarkblue

 

Grab your copy today:

Amazon ebook | iBooks | Kobo | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads | Paperback

 

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Get the first book in the Tattoo Thief series free (on iBooks, Amazon, Nook or Kobo), or dive in to Say it Louder by downloading a free extended sample for Kindle or all other devices. Check out this excerpt, and then enter the Rafflecopter giveaway to win a signed paperback and special swag.

Tattoo Thief (#1) – https://heidijoytretheway.com/0px%20!important;%22%20/%3E

Tyler & Stella (#2) – https://goo.gl/WrLTff

Revenge Bound (#3) – https://goo.gl/Uq5VTR

Skip a Beat (#5) – releases Jan. 31, 2017

All buy links are at www.heidijoytretheway.com/books

 

About Heidi Joy Tretheway:

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Heidi Joy Tretheway is a sucker for campfires, craft cocktails, and steamy romance in books and real life. She sings along with musicals (badly), craves French carbs, and buys plane tickets the way some women buy shoes.

Her first career as a journalist took Heidi behind the scenes with politicians, rock stars, and chefs, all of whom inspire her stories. Heidi Joy is currently working on her tenth book from her home in southwestern Washington.

 

Connect with Heidi:

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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Review: His Royal Favorite by Lilah Pace

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Adult, Review0 Comments

Review: His Royal Favorite by Lilah PaceHis Royal Favorite by Lilah Pace
Series: His Royal Secret, Book 2
Also in this series: His Royal Secret
Published by Intermix on 16 August 2016
Genres: Adult, Dating & Sex, Family, GLBT, Love & Romance, Royalty, Emotions & Feelings, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Contemporary Romance
Pages: 245
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars
Also by this author: His Royal Secret

Place(s) Traveled To: Jomo Kenyatta, Kenya // London, England

First Line(s): “Fiona, it’s Ben.” Thank God he’d gotten her machine.

HIS ROYAL FAVORITE is the direct sequel to Lilah Pace’s HIS ROYAL SECRET (my review.) I’m usually wary of direct sequels as I hate to have manufactured drama break up a couples hard won happily ever after just to bring them back together again. But I also found that I couldn’t resist the temptation that HIS ROYAL FAVORITE presented so I found myself not only picking it up but then staying up into the wee hours of the morning just to finish it. I was hooked on this story from the very first page and I just loved the progression of Ben and James’s story. I also loved how HIS ROYAL FAVORITE showed a real relationship at work as that is something that is usually missing in romance novels.

HIS ROYAL FAVORITE deals with the very real aftershocks of James coming out of the closet and Ben has to decide if a public life is a life that he can accept. There are struggles for them both as they deal with their new relationship, family, and the onslaught of public opinion. New relationships can be hard enough but they become exponentially harder when they are lived in the public eye. Especially when you don’t know who is a true friend and who might sell your secrets just for a little cash and 15 minutes of fame. My heart totally ached throughout this book because it was just so real and I hated some of the things that Ben and James had to deal with.

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But what I loved most about HIS ROYAL FAVORITE is that there was no pointless breakup!! And while there was angst it wasn’t unnecessary or over done and everything just really worked for the story. I truly hated for HIS ROYAL FAVORITE to come to an end because it just hit all the right notes for me. HIS ROYAL FAVORITE isn’t a perfect book but it was compelling and held my attention. It had me cheering on this couple wanting them to overcome the obstacles in front of them and come out stronger on the other side. For me, HIS ROYAL FAVORITE was a total page turner and I couldn’t stop reading until I hit the final page.

HIS ROYAL FAVORITE will take you on an emotional roller coaster but at the end of the ride you’ll heave a happy say and want to make the journey all over again. I loved this story and I can’t say it enough how much I loved seeing a couple be a couple. I always feel a little cheated when it takes an entire book to get a couple to get together just to have it end before we experience their HEA. In HIS ROYAL FAVORITE, Pace gives that extra look into this world and I am so happy that she did. This series was just so sweet and lovely and its perfect for all fans of a good love story. Doubly good if you like books with a royal twist (and seriously who doesn’t like to read about a literal prince charming?) If you trust me at all then you’ll want to have this series on your radar.

Seriously friends….go buy it now!

irishdarkblue IR - His Royal Secret

 

Add All Note Long by Annabeth Albert to Goodreads. (Review coming soon)

Add Us by Sarina Bowen to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

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Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Review: Rookie Move by Sarina Bowen

Posted by Irish in 3 Stars, Adult, Review0 Comments

Review: Rookie Move by Sarina BowenRookie Move (Brooklyn Bruisers, #1) by Sarina Bowen
Series: ,
Published by Berkley on September 6th 2016
Genres: Adult, Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Love & Romance, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Sports & Athletics
Pages: 336
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
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, The Fifteenth Minute, Coming in from the Cold, Us, Bittersweet, Steadfast

Place(s) Traveled To: Brooklyn, New York // Denver, Colorado // Phoenix, Arizona // Dallas, Texas

First Line(s): Cobblestone streets did not pair well with high heels.

Long time readers will know that I am a big fan of Sarina Bowen’s books and I’ve really enjoyed her Ivy Years series. With ROOKIE MOVE, not only does Bowen make the leap from self-published to traditional publishing but she also starts her very first spin off series. We first meet Leo Trevi as a secondary character in the Ivy Years books but don’t learn a ton about him until THE FIFTEENTH MINUTE (my review) when his brother’s story is told. That first sneak peak was enough to have me eager for ROOKIE MOVE which is an adult read set in the same universe as the Ivy Years books only the characters aren’t in college any more. In ROOKIE MOVE, Leo is getting ready to start his first year on a professional NFL team and he’s both excited and nervous as this is everything that he’s ever wanted. Well, except for maybe his high school love, Georgia, who just happens to be the teams PR representative. To make things even more complex, Georgia’s dad is also the new Brooklyn Bruisers coach.

To say that ROOKIE MOVE has a lot going on is an understatement and I think that there are some plot points that could have been avoided. Especially the one where Georgia’s dad was just a complete and utter fuck-tard. Seriously, there was no reason for his attitude towards Leo and he acted more like a 3 year old in the midst of a tantrum than an adult professional. I don’t know why the team’s owner put up with it nor do I understand why Leo never took things up with HR because the man was out of control. That whole story line took away from my enjoyment of this book because there was no basis for it nor was it resolved well. It was just sort there and it didn’t fit in with the story as a whole. Drama for the sake of drama and really took me out of the story.

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The other part of ROOKIE MOVE that was a disappointment was Leo and Georgia’s relationship. It just seemed too easy and there was no angst or drama to it. The only real drama in this book came from Georgia’s dad and so the love story seemed to be a bit forgotten about. Leo and Georgia were apart throughout their college years and then they just seemed to reconnect so quickly without ever fully dealing with their issues. I also didn’t feel any real chemistry between the two and thought that Leo had better chemistry (non-romantic)/storylines with some of his teammates than he did with the love of his life.

I wanted to love ROOKIE MOVE but, for me, this one just fell short of my expectations. I am looking forward to reading more books in this series and am glad that I read the story but it was just an okay read for me, not a great one. I just needed something more in ROOKIE MOVE that never fully materialized and I hope that other books in the series will read better for me as the characters and plots will be more new. As much as I wanted to see Leo and Georgia’s reunion I am now thinking that their story may have been better told as a secondary storyline in another book.

irishdarkblue

IR - Rookie Move

Add Any Man of Mine by Rachel Gibson to Goodreads.

Add Fair Play by Deirdre Martin to Goodreads.

three-stars
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Monday, September 5, 2016

Review: Game On by Michelle Smith

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Review, Young Adult1 Comment

Review: Game On by Michelle SmithGame On by Michelle Smith
Series: Lewis Creek, Book 2
Also in this series: Play On
Published by Bloomsbury on 16 August 2016
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, Friendship, Love & Romance, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Young Adult
Pages: 328
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
four-stars
Also by this author: Play On

Place(s) Traveled To: Lewis Creek, South Carolina // Sommerville, South Carolina // Beaufort, South Carolina

First Line(s): It’s probably a bad sign when the hangover hits you before you even leave the party.

GAME ON by Michelle Smith is a companion to her debut story PLAY ON (my review) and that is where we first meet Eric. Eric is an underclassman on the baseball team and in this book he moves up to be the starting pitcher. Bringing with it all the pressures that anyone from a small town can understand. Sports is life in many small towns (and even some big ones) and adults are way too involved and get way too emotionally invested. These pressures only compound the issues that Eric is already dealing with as a preachers kid, a newly out gay older brother and his past as a player and a screw up. Eric is trying to make a new start in order to live up to all of his expectations but he keeps making poor choices and getting into trouble. It also doesn’t help that he has a bit of a drinking problem and a temper which lands him into more trouble than he needs.

Enter Bri, the girl next door. Bri and Eric used to be friends and then they drifted apart.  Eric has always had a thing for Bri but has always thought that he was too much of a screw up and not good enough for her. So you can imagine all the angst that the boy goes through over the course of GAME ON as Bri and Eric begin to reconnect. For Bri is dealing with a douche of an ex along with some abandonment issues which could have lead her to being a troubled teen. However, Bri is smart and has a good head on her shoulders and she becomes the rock that Eric needs to really get his life back on track. Through Eric, Bri also learns to deal with some of her issues and learns that she isn’t alone in the world. That there are people who will fight for her and beside her depending on what the situation calls for.

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GAME ON is a quick read and had everything I like to see in a contemporary young adult book. There was angst but not a ton of it and there were lots of heart achy feels throughout Bri and Eric’s journey. I loved their chemistry and I loved how Smith dealt with their issues and brought them together. It was realistic and emotional and had me flipping the pages quickly to see how it would all end. GAME ON isn’t a perfect read and there were things that I didn’t like but those flaws were small compared to all the things that I liked about this book. I like a book that can keep me entertained and invested even while there are things I disagree with or that I would do differently. But the things that happened all felt real to the characters and that is what matters most.

I enjoyed returning to the town of Lewis Creek with GAME ON and I hope that this isn’t the last time that we see this world or these characters. I like this group of teens and think that there are plenty of stories that could be told much like Miranda Kenneally does with her Hundred Oaks series. If you are looking for a fun, realistic read to keep you company then look no further than GAME ON. This book is great for the beach, a plane ride, or for sitting under a blanket on a snowy winters day. This is a must read for YA Contemporary lovers. I don’t think that you’ll be disappointed.

 

irishdarkblue

IR - Game On

Add Shuffle, Repeat by Jen Klein to Goodreads. (Review coming soon.)

Add The Distance from A to Z to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

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