I rate books on a 5 star system including 1/2 stars. Basically this means the following:
5 stars - loved loved loved it! I will become a book bully for this book
4 stars - liked it didn't love it but will recommend
3 stars - varies - but more of a middle of the road reacting. didn't love it or hate it. May not recommend to others
2 stars - didn't like it, won't recommend it
1 star - hated it
DNF - Did not finish (these may not be mentioned on the blog)
Top 12 List
There are 12 months in the year and so I thought that I would try to highlight my reading year by choosing that one memorable book from each month.
JAN - A Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet
FEB - Dance with the Devil by Sherrilyn Kenyon
MAR - Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer
APR - The Day of the Duchess by Sarah MacLean
MAY - The Heir of Novron by Michael J. Sullivan
JUN - Mature Content by Megan Erickson & Santino Hassell
JUL - More Than We Can Tell by Brigid Kemmerer
AUG - Dream Magic by Joshua Khan
SEP - Far From the Tree by Robin Benway
OCT - TBD
NOV - TBD
DEC - TBD
First Line(s): The guy was late. Lissa Kingsman glanced at the clock on the wall of the office and tried not to look as irritated as she felt.
Ever since we first meet Ethan in Megan Erickson’s PLAYING FOR HER HEART (my reivew). I always love a good tortured hero story and I couldn’t wait to meet the girl who would break Ethan out of his shell. And Lissa did not disappoint. LEVELING THE FIELD is the final book in Erickson’s Gamers series and Ethan is the perfect character to conclude the series. I loved getting to know more about him and I loved watching as Lissa helped to break him out of his self-imposed solitude. Lissa is a fierce, strong heroine who doesn’t put up with any of Ethan’s bullshit and I loved that about her. I also loved her family and so it kind of makes me sad that this series is over because we won’t be able to see more of them, particularly her brother who I just adored. As with the other books in this series, the secondary characters really help to make the story and I loved being able to check in with characters from the previous books.
LEVELING THE FIELD is a short book and I do wish that it had been longer but this story totally sucked me in and kept me up into the wee hours of the night. I liked the tension between Lissa and Ethan and their chemistry but do with that they had more time together to be with each other and not just hooking up. Seemed liked they’d meet up, hook up, get into a fight and then part for a couple of weeks and then repeat. It was frustrating to me because I just wanted them to be together and find that happily ever after that I knew they each deserved. Although Ethan did have a lot of emotional baggage to deal with first and I think that Erickson handled that aspect of the story well. But I do think if could have been better if LEVELING THE FIELD was longer and if maybe Ethan saw a therapist. The man’s issues ran deep and I think that having him talk to a therapist would have been more realistic.
The writing, plot, and pacing in LEVELING THE FIELD is everything that I’ve come to expect in a Megan Erickson book but for me this one didn’t pack the emotional punch as some of her other reads. I think that this story, while dealing with some serious issues, stuck close to the surface and so I didn’t get as emotionally attached as I sometimes do. LEVELING THE FIELD is a good book but its not my favorite of Erickson’s or in this series. But I do think that it is worth the read because Ethan really deserves that happily ever after. I enjoyed LEVELING THE FIELD and I do recommend it I just think that, in this series my heart will always belong to Chad and Owen. <3
Place(s) Traveled To: Unknown, America // Westfall, Unknown
First Line(s): No one survives beyond the fence.
THE REVOLUTION OF IVY is the final book in Amy Engel’s Book of Ivy duology. It picks up right where THE BOOK OF IVY (my review) leaves off and jumps right into the story. I really enjoyed THE BOOK OF IVY and its sequel continues in the same addictive voice although I did find Ivy a bit more annoying in this book than the first. It just seemed that in THE REVOLUTION OF IVY that she was much more whiny and less sure of herself. Granted when you are thrust out into an unknown world with little means to survive I can understand her hesitations, to a point. What I didn’t get were her interactions with Mark, a known killer, and how she continually let him berate her and convince her that her crimes were just as bad as his and so she must keep his secrets. When all Ivy’s crime really was, was to be born a Westfall and how she married a Lattimer.
THE REVOLUTION OF IVY, like its predecessor, is a quick brain candy sort of read. Its engrossing even though it remains a bit short on details when it comes to the building of the world. Most of the characters remain two dimensional and are forgotten almost as soon as they leave the page but there are a few that do stand out. Most notably is Bishop, who I liked more and more with each interaction with him. Bishop is a good balance for Ivy as she tends to be all over the map in this book while he remains a strong and steady force. Bishop is the sort of book boyfriend that you really want to know. After all, how many people do you know would leave the protected walls of their village just to find you?
The middle of THE REVOLUTION OF IVY was a bit slow at times as not much happened. There was lots of waiting about as Ivy tried to figure out who she was in this new world and just how Bishop fit into it all. Then there were all the things that she left behind and the role she played in events that were still in motion. This resulted in a crazy rushed ending that left me a little unsatisfied as it just lacked something. I think it just all comes back to the fact that while Engel writes pretty prose she tends to put much weight and meaning into the words. This makes the book sound bad, which is wasn’t, its just more of a surface sort of read than anything too deep.
I enjoyed THE REVOLUTION OF IVY and thought that it was a fitting end to the duology as any more books would have just dragged things out unnecessarily. For all of Ivy’s annoyances she is a character that I will miss along with Bishop and some of the new characters that we meet in this book. I like Engel’s writing style and know that I will be reading more of her in the future. While I can’t recommend this duology to hard core dystopian fans I think those that are interested in stepping foot into this genre will like it. I also think that this series would make good beach/vacation reads as they don’t take a whole lot of thought to read. Its a fun series not an amazing one.
First Line(s): No one wears white wedding dresses anymore.
THE BOOK OF IVY by Amy Engel is one of those books that I hadn’t heard much about until I recieved an ARC of its sequel THE REVOLUTION OF IVY (goodreads). It was also around that time that talk about BOOK OF IVY started to appear in my social media streams and while I haven’t been much into dystopian reads of late I decided to give this one a chance. Like most YA dystopians THE BOOK OF IVY is very thin on details. There isn’t a whole lot of world building or history given to why the world is how it is. As a reader you are immediately thrust into the every life of this society that has formed in the bones of the former United States and its up to the reader to figure out what’s going on.
At first, I thought THE BOOK OF IVY was going to be a standard ‘girls are only good for making babies’ sort of story which is all too common a theme in YA dystopia and so I was hesitant on the story. But then there was just something about this one that really lulled me into its pages. Amy Engel’s writing is seductive even as it doesn’t have a ton of substance behind the words. I found myself engrossed in Ivy’s story and found this book really hard to put down. I liked her struggle between what she had been raised to do and what she wanted to do. And most of all I liked Bishop.
Bishop is one of those book boyfriends that I’m surprised I don’t hear much about. He’s smart and funny and he appreciates Ivy for who she is. He doesn’t have lofty expectations of her nor does he expect her to be a simpering housewife with him the general of the household. He’s sweet and caring and the sort of character that you really wish you could meet in real life. He’s the bright light in an otherwise cliched and fairly typical YA dystopian novel.
THE BOOK OF IVY is what I’d call a brain candy read and would be perfect for a day at the beach. It doesn’t take a lot of thought and makes for a good distraction. Its a really fast read with a likable main character even though it does lack for a bit of a plot. As I said the writing is seductive so while you are reading the story its easy to forgive its flaws and just get lost in the nuances and flow of the words. THE BOOK OF IVY is one that I think would be great on audio with the right narrator as it really is a lyrical story. I was invested enough in Ivy’s story to read the sequel but its not a series that will win any awards. If you like YA dystopian then you’ll probably enjoy THE BOOK OF IVY. I also think those new to dystopia will enjoy it as well.
Place(s) Traveled To: Alderwood, Texas // Dallas, Texas
First Line(s): “All in all,” Mr Granger said, ” the scores on the midterm were pretty good, so I didn’t feel the need to grade on a curve.”
Sometimes when you pick up a book its not the right time and so you may not like it as much and others its that perfect moment to read the book so just leaves with all those happy heart achy feels. Such was the case with me and FINDING PERFECT by Kendra C. Highley. If I’d read this in a different time and place I may not enjoyed it as much as I did but as it was I was totally swept away in the story and feel head over heals for it. Granted, there were things that I epicaly despised like Paige’s mother who was super duper awful. I hated the pressure that Paige’s parents put on her and how they told her that there would be time for fun later and now was the time to work work work! So much pressure that she’d freak out over a grade that was anything less than an A and even an A wasn’t acceptable as it wasn’t an A+.
While I agree that teens should have a focus on school and grades, I don’t think that it should take up all of their time. Balance is needed in order to live a rich and full life. Especially when you are 17. There is plenty of time to work and be serious and the longer you put off having a life the less likely you are to actually have one. Its so much harder to be free when you have a job and a house and bills to worry about. To put so much pressure on a girl at 17 is just a recipe for said girl to self destruct and burn out long before she’s an adult.
But what I did love was the relationship between Paige and Ben. Oh there were times I wanted to shake them both because a big part of the plot centered around a failure to communicate (and we all know how that trope annoys me) but I loved them when they were together. They had great chemistry and banter and complemented each other so well. I liked the people that they were when then were around each other and its Paige and Ben that totally made FINDING PERFECT for me. I also adored the character of Zoey, Paige’s BFF, because she was a true BFF. She was there to support Paige when she needed it and tell her the truth when she needed that as well. No frenemy here.
The best way for me to describe the plot of FINDING PERFECT is to relate it to a 90s rom-com. The plot is a little hokey at times and the ending was super cutesy and too neatly tied up. But it was everything that you’d expect from a 90s romantic comedy. FINDING PERFECT has its ups and downs and its far from a perfect book but it made my heart ache and it hit all the right note with me. So because of that I really fell for this story. I hated to hit the last page and to leave this world and its characters. I’m hoping that Highley decides to write some companion stories so that we can see more of Paige and Ben and see where they end up after The End. For me, FINDING PERFECT was a story that I got lost in. It was a quick read and exactly what I needed. If you are a lover of 90s rom-coms and contemporary YA then you should totally give FINDING PERFECT a shot.
Place(s) Traveled To: Nashville, Tennessee // New Orleans, Louisiana // Magnolia Springs, Louisiana
First Line(s): “He’s not gonna know what hit him.”
Every reader knows that there are some books that they read where the secondary characters really stand out and this was true for me with Charlie from Rachel Harris’s ACCIDENTALLY MARRIED ON PURPOSE (my review.) So I was really excited to learn that Harris was writing a spin off series and the first book, YOU’RE STILL THE ONE, would feature Charlie. I was bouncy with excitement and I think that I fell victim to my own hype as I didn’t love this book as much I wanted to. It was cute and charming and everything that one would expect in a Rachel Harris book but for me it was just missing the heat.
YOU’RE STILL THE ONE is a slow burn novel and for me it was almost too slow of a build up between Arabella and Charlie. While I did like how the two really got to know each other and build a relationship built on friendship it just lacked chemistry. I wasn’t racing to the end to see how their story would end because I never really became invested in their story. I also found the set up of this one to be really choppy and wish that the scene transitions and other aspects of the story had been smoother.
I also wish that some more time had been spent developing the secondary characters. I have no idea who the next story will be about and familiar characters, like Tyler and Sherry, were notably absent throughout much of the book. I didn’t dislike YOU’RE STILL THE ONE I just think that I expected something more since I loved ACCIDENTALLY MARRIED ON PURPOSE so much. Perhaps is there was more romance to it I would have liked it more but its hard when characters don’t even kiss until the book is almost over. So while I think that Charlie and Arabella make great friends I’m just not entirely sure that I buy them as a couple.
For me, YOU’RE STILL THE ONE was a book of missed opportunities. I wanted to love it but it just fell a little flat for me. But I do still love the world that Rachel Harris has created. I’ll still read the other books in this series and hope that we see more cameos in the future of old friends. This is a book that I know that I’ll recommend to some friends of mine because the things that didn’t really work for me I know will really work for them. YOU’RE STILL THE ONE isn’t a perfect read but its a quick read and worth considering for when you are looking for a slow burn escapist read.
Yup, this was a recipe for unmitigated disaster. With the hot sting of jealousy currently roiling in his gut, demanding he lay claim to what was his, the smart thing for Charlie to do would be to turn tail and run before they breached the point of no return.
Don’t push too far, Tucker. Remember, she’s not for you.
Even his conscience knew better than to suggest bailing. Completely walking away wasn’t an option anymore. The attraction was too strong. The oppressive Louisiana heat boiled his blood just enough to make dangerous ideas seem possible.
“It’s a beautiful night.” Arabella was a low whispered voice behind him, and when Charlie turned it was in time to watch her cover-up fall to the ground.
Sweet Jesus. The dress she’d worn all day had been typical Arabella, classy and feminine. She’d looked beautiful as always, so much so that it hadn’t been a shocker to find another guy hanging on her with drool on his chin. But the swimsuit hidden beneath the simple dress almost dropped Charlie to his knees.
The two-piece was emerald green, a spectacular color set against her olive skin that made those doe eyes pop. It was vintage in style, like everything she owned, and the bottom consisted of more fabric than half the women’s shorts today, but it cupped her hips and thighs in a way that his hands itched to replicate. And the swimsuit’s top… Charlie swallowed thickly. Arabella’s small, high breasts were lifted in a mouthwatering display of cleavage that was a feast for the eyes.
She looked seductive and innocent and, goodGod, she was trying to kill him.
Charlie was moving before he even realized it, walking in a lust-filled daze toward her. But then, his feelings were more complicated than simple lust…and that was the problem.
“You take my breath away.” The line was cliché, like a lyric from some lame power ballad, but for the first time in his life, Charlie understood the meaning. Arabella’s eyes latched onto his, and her chest rose and fell as her pink lips parted in an exhale and, for a moment, he legitimately forgot his own name.
Arabella made his chest ache with want. She made him forget everything in the world other than how it felt to hold her in his arms. How their bodies aligned, her height allowing her to rest her head on his shoulder if she wanted to. Or stare into his eyes if and when he kissed her.
Right now, he wasn’t thinking about the many reasons why he shouldn’t want that, why he didn’t deserve her or why it would be so wrong to reach out and slide his hand along the gentle curve of her waist. No, Charlie forgot all those things, so when his palm grazed across her petal-soft skin, and Arabella’s gasp hit his ears, he also forgot why it was wrong, so very wrong, to act on his needs.
Lowering his head, he breathed in her floral fragrance and closed his eyes.
“Baby girl, you destroy me,” he whispered against her lips. “You have to tell me if you don’t want this, because I’m holding on by a thread.”
“Then let go.”
Rachel Harris’ YOU’RE STILL THE ONE – Review & Excerpt Tour Schedule:
Love is one dare neither of them can take…
Arabella Stone, Nashville’s darling, is eager to shuck her prim-and-proper rep, and a few wild months spent checking items off her ” summer bucket list” is the way to do it. First up: kiss the man she’s crushed on since she wore a training bra, the bad boy of country himself, Blue bassist Charlie Tucker.
For Charlie, a beautiful woman flirting with him isn’t out of the norm–but a beautiful woman bolting after the hottest kiss of his life sure is. And when he finds out his kiss-and-run Cinderella is none other than Arabella Stone, daughter of his label’s CEO, he knows he’s in trouble. Because not only is she a Stone, she’s also his employee for the next few months at the recording studio he just bought.
Over the course of one thrilling summer, Arabella and Charlie chip away at her bucket list and fight the simmering attraction between them…knowing that once it’s all over, so is their time together.
About Rachel Harris:
New York Times bestselling author Rachel Harris writes humorous love stories about sassy girls-next-door and the hot guys that make them swoon. Vibrant settings, witty banter, and strong relationships are a staple in each of her books…and kissing. Lots of kissing.
An admitted Diet Mountain Dew addict and homeschool mom, she gets through each day by laughing at herself, hugging her kids, and watching way too much Food Network with her husband. She writes young adult, new adult, and adult romances, and LOVES talking with readers!
First Line(s): Chad leaned over the candy apple-red fuel tank of his Honda Interceptor and prepared to gun the engine.
My stars where do I even begin when it comes to TIED TO TROUBLE by Megan Erickson? This is the book that was the whole reason why I started to read her Gamers books. And after meeting Chad and Owen in CHANGING HIS GAME (my review) I couldn’t wait to get to know them even better. Chad and Owen are like oil and water at times and yet they compliment each other so very well. These boys are seriously so OTP that it hurts. The push and pull between just made my heart ache and their chemistry was seriously off the charts!!
TIED TO TROUBLE is an opposites attract story and so there is much butting of heads between Chad and Owen but it works well as they really are each others yin and yang. They balance each other out even as they are driving each other crazy. Another thing that I loved about TIED TO TROUBLE was that we finally got all those cameos of Austin and Marley that I felt were missing from PLAYING FOR HER HEART (my review). I loved seeing where they were and how their continuing story was woven into the budding relationship of Chad and Owen.
As with the previous books in the Gamers series, TIED TO TROUBLE is a short book which then makes for a fast read. But despite its short length it feels longer. Erickson has a way of really building her world and her characters that more pages aren’t necessary. That isn’t to say that I don’t want more pages because I most definitely do! But TIED TO TROUBLE is a full and complete story and as a reader I don’t think that anything is missing. Well, except for those 100 or so more pages that further detail the roller coaster ride that is Chad and Owen’s relationship.
As with CHANGING HIS GAME, TIED TO TROUBLE is oh la la hot when it comes to the sexy times! These boys like to play and I swear I’ll never look at a bow tie the same way again! The story isn’t perfect there were things that I think could have been avoid if these two knuckheads just COMMUNICATED a little better but over all I loved TIED TO TROUBLE and it was so worth the read for me. This is a book I know I’ll be re-reading and also bullying others to read as well. So do yourselves a favor just go out and read it now and make me a happy little blogger.
Place(s) Traveled To: Willow Park, Pennsylvania // Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
First Line(s): He was the perfect Beck.
PLAYING FOR HER HEART is the second book in Megan Erickson’s Gamers series and picks up almost exactly where CHANGING HIS GAME (my review) leaves off. PLAYING FOR HER HEART is the story of Grant and Chloe. Grant we met in CHANGING HIS GAME as Austin’s BFF and business partner and Chloe is a new introduction but she’s connected to the group through Ethan, who is a friend of Grants. I loved Grant in CHANGING HIS GAME so was happy to read his story but it took me a bit to warm up to Chloe. Chloe just ran a bit too hot and cold for me and she just seemed to be a walking contradiction. On one hand she was very shy and almost reclusive but then on the other she was bold and experimental when she was engaging in various role plays. She never really seemed to mesh the two sides of herself either.
Grant was a sweetheart and everything that I expected he’d be from CHANGING HIS GAME and then some. I also loved getting to know Sydney more and seeing their interactions and that is saying a lot from me because kids are so hard to capture realistically in books. I’m usually not a fan of child characters but in this case it worked and that says a lot of Erickson’s writing and characterization. But what I was disappointed in with PLAYING FOR HER HEART was the lack of scenes with Austin. It seemed like his parts were given over to Ethan and while I get that Grant and Ethan are good friends they aren’t best friends like Grant and Austin. There were just moments that it seemed would have worked better if they’d played out with Austin instead of Ethan.
Even though I didn’t think that Ethan was always the right person for a scene I loved him as a character. I loved his relationship with his sister, Chloe and oh how he made my heart ache! For me, Ethan was a distraction in PLAYING FOR HER HEART because he stole every scene that he was in. He and Sydney tended to steal the lime light from the two main characters, Grant and Chloe so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I didn’t like PLAYING FOR HER HEART as much as CHANGING HIS GAME. Chloe was just too inconsistent a character and her love story was overshadowed by secondary characters which is never a good thing.
But like CHANGING HIS GAME, PLAYING FOR HER HEART is a quick read. It makes for a great escape for an afternoon is an enjoyable story but not one that wows me. I think that might be in part because I’m not really into the whole role play aspect of the sex scenes between Grant and Chloe. I get the escapism of it all and even the appeal to become someone else but I am more or a realist and so that’s why CHANGING HIS GAME is my favorite of the two Gamers books that I’ve reviewed. PLAYING FOR HER HEART is worth reading and its an important book in the series, mostly because we learn more about Ethan, but its not going to be my favorite.
Place(s) Traveled To: Willow Park, Pennsylvania // Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
First Line(s): Marley Lake hated the spinning rainbow wheel.
Holy hotness batman!! CHANGING HIS GAME by Megan Erickson is one sexy ass read! I wasn’t sure what to expect when I picked up CHANGING HIS GAME. What I did know was that it was the first book in a series and I really wanted to read the third book, TIED TO TROUBLE. When I can I like to read a series in order and so I grabbed myself a copy of CHANGING HIS GAME and was very happily surprised. This book is smart and funny and off the charts sexy.
I loved this cast of characters and Marley and Austin are so OTP that it hurts. They made me smile throughout this entire book, well, that is when they weren’t busy breaking my heart as they go through those pesky trouble times that are part of the romance formula. The secondary characters really help to flesh out this world and I hope to see more of them all in the books to come.
CHANGING HIS GAME is a short book and as such its a quick read. I got lost within its pages and I hated to put it down. It was filled with a great story line that was realistic and it made my heart ache in all the ways that I love. The push and pull between Austin helps to fuel their chemistry and it just sizzles off the page. This is one book that I hated to end because I hated to leave this world and these characters.
With every book that I read of Megan Erickson’s I become more and more a fan of her work. Her stories are so diverse and real and so very easy to get lost in. I am really looking forward to discovering the other books in this series and learning the stories of the other characters. Erickson is also fast becoming an autobuy author from me. Her stories are crack in the best sort of way.
Pretty much whenever I'm not listening to an audiobook I am listening to this soundtrack:
Don't be surprised when books sit here for a while...this will be where I try to tackle some of the larger books on my shelf and my non-fiction reads. I don't always put as much priority on these as I should so progress will be slow.
Click the image about to be directed to www.booksforsoldiers.com and learn how you can clean off your bookshelf and help out our men and women in the military at the same time.
Wondering where my Top Character lists went? I decided to move them to a post as my side bar was looking a bit cluttered. I'll post the full list of all my favorite characters of the year in January but until then check out my previous lists: