Review for Game For Marriage (Game For It #1) by Karen Erickson

Game For Marriage by Karen Erickson

TITLE: Game For Marriage
SERIES: Game For It #1
AUTHOR: Karen Erickson
NARRATOR: Deanna Hurst
PUBLICATION DATE: January 11, 2013 / January 13, 2015
PUBLISHER: Entangled Publishing (Brazen) / Audible Studios
PAGES: 170 pages / 7 hours 36 minutes
FORMAT: Audiobook
SOURCE: Review copy via Wordsmith Publicity
RATING: 3 bows

Sheridan Harper is the textbook definition of struggling artist. She loves her work and is very talented, but she is barely scraping by. So when Jared Quinn makes her an offer that promises a lot of money, she really doesn’t have any choice but to take it. After a one night stand with explosive chemistry, Jared’s publicist makes offers her a truckload of money to fake a marriage to Quinn so they can improve his image. The only problem? The contract has a no-sex clause and despite how much they fight it, both parties feel the attraction.

Okay, so that description sucks and I am well aware. Maybe after reading this, you guys will understand why I am taking a that review-writing break. Why am I writing this as I am on said break? One of the conditions of reviewing this audiobook was to have the review up within 30 days of the download and I endeavor to be a woman of my word. I’m also a tiny bit scared that I’ll take a longer break from reviewing than I originally intended and I don’t want this review to be late. It’s bad enough that this is not going to be a 5 star review as I did not love the book. Let’s not add injury to the insult of a mediocre review.

Sheridan was someone I could pretty easily empathize with. Though I can’t draw (or paint or color or doodle) to save my life, I understand the situation she was in. Struggle to get all the bills paid is a pretty common situation to those of us in the upper lower class/lower middle class life. I could immediately see why she would want to take the deal. But then she starts annoying me. The no-sex clause, first of all, was a moment of pure idiocy. It’s obvious you want to sleep with him again. It’s also obvious that Jared is a man-whore of the highest order. He can’t sleep with anyone else during this year or the press will paint him a cheating scum-bag and you aren’t allowing him to sleep with you. Are you expecting him to take a year-long vow of celibacy? That seems like a disaster waiting to happen and we both know it. Completely ignoring that fact, it’s clear that you want to sleep with him again and it’s equally clear that a lack of bedroom activity is not enough to keep you from falling in love with the man. It’s just an idiotic plan from top to bottom, so you should go ahead and wave the white flag now. Basically, from the moment she was offered the deal, I wanted to shake her.

I wasn’t that much more fond of Jared. He’s arrogant and controlling. He is determined to make everything his fault and he refuses to accept help. He makes a big deal on how everyone is counting on him, but when they bring someone in to take the stress off him, he resents it and gets mad. Also, he acts like a caveman when it comes to Sheridan. He shows the occasional sweet side, but most of the time he just wants to throw her over his shoulder and haul her into his bedroom and never leave. I found that….irritating.

My biggest issue with this is same one I’ve had with the past few romance/erotica novels I’ve read. I’m so sick of hearing about how huge his cock is. I get it! I understand that the man has a dick the size of my forearm. Mental image received. I don’t need to hear about it ad naseum and I certainly don’t want to either.
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I understand this is a fantasy for many a housewife, but what part of that sounds appealing? It sounds rather painful to me. Also, life is just about sex.
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There are many things that cause people joy beyond the physical pleasures, but I feel like that is all the contemporary novels focus on lately. Maybe this is why I’ve stuck to YA for so long because YA never puts all the focus on sex. There is the meeting and getting to know you and mutual interests. There is a general building of a relationship in contemporary YA. Not necessarily in other parts of YA where instalove is everywhere, but I digress.

This is also a novel about a hot man meeting a beautiful woman and each loving the other’s perfect body. The pretty people make sweet sweet love and, I’m sure, will some day have gorgeous children.
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At some point, is anyone else going to get tired of this? I mean, I get it, fantasy-world, we want the guys to be super tall with six-pack abs and a gorgeous face. Fantasy-world us would be slim with hug tits, a nice ass, flat tummy, and slim thighs. But life isn’t a fantasy and isn’t it exhausting trying to live up to that image? What kind of message does that send? Women doing millions of crunches because we believe no “hot” guy would want us as is. Men spending hours at the gym because what “attractive” female would want them if they don’t have a six pack and enough arm strength to carry them around. Besides the idea of fantasy is that we can live it out ourselves in our heads and how can we do that if we believe the leading man would want us once he glimpses our not perfect body? ::end rant::

Basically, this had some good in it. I did listen to it quite quickly, so it was interesting enough to keep me going. I did have that hope that the main two would eventually work things out and ride off into the sunset. I am vaguely curious about the rest of the series. But I didn’t love it like I expected to. In fact, I didn’t love it at all. I like it, but definitely not love.

Audio notes:
Deanna does a pretty fair job narrating this. There is nothing about her that stands out as irritating in my mind. I enjoyed her voice and her pacing. I didn’t especially love her, but I did enjoy her work. I would definitely be okay with listening to more of her work.

****Thank you to Wordsmith Publicity and Karen Erickson for providing me with an audio copy in exchange for an honest review****

3 bows
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Review for Vortex (Tempest #2) by Julie Cross

Vortex by Julie Cross

TITLE: Vortex
SERIES: Tempest #2
AUTHOR: Julie Cross
NARRATOR: Matthew Brown
PUBLICATION DATE: January 15, 2013 / January 15, 2013
PUBLISHER: St Martin’s Griffin / Macmillan Audio
PAGES: 352 pages / 10 hours 51 minutes
FORMAT: Hardback / Audio
SOURCE: Purchased / Borrowed
RATING: 4 bows

Jackson Meyer dedicated himself to the role of Tempest agent. Sometimes training is a pain in the ass, but at least it keeps him busy so his mind doesn’t wander to Holly. Once he gets out in the field, things go well…until he accidentally runs into Holly at a bookstore, making his heartbreak over her impossible to ignore. Then Eyewall, another division of the CIA, starts poking around and suddenly Jackson and his fellow agents are in trouble. Jackson is in even more trouble because it appears that someone knows about his alternate timeline relationship with Holly. Someone out there knows how much she means to him and has put her in danger all over again. With the fighting between the two divisions becoming more common, can Jackson pull it together enough to save Holly again?

I liked Jackson just as much here as I did in Tempest. He’s still smart and charming and totally head over heels for Holly. Even though I’m not a fan of the whole star-crossed romances (because those don’t tend to end happily), I can’t help but respect Jackson for manning up enough to let Holly go because it’s the only way to save her. He’s trying so hard to do the right thing that I just wanted to hug the poor guy. Adam and Holly are here as well, though in smaller amounts. Adam is exactly the same, but that’s not necessarily true for Holly. I won’t spoil it for you, but she’s changed just a little. We get more of Jenny Stewart (Stuart? Listening to audios really makes spelling things properly difficult!), as well as a few new characters. Kendrick is probably my favorite new addition.

Real talk for a moment here, if you don’t mind.
Big Bang Theory Penny Thinking Gif
I have spent the last few days trying to write this review. I honestly don’t know what to say. I enjoyed listening to this book. It was smart and entertaining and just a little heartbreaking, but when I try to come up with eloquent ways to say that and other things to comment on, my brain just refuses to compute.
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I thought stepping away from it for a few days would help, but here I am again, staring at a screen, fingers poised to let out a review with no words in my brain. It’s not just this book either. I have 3 other drafts to finish and I don’t know what to say for them either.

With that being said, here is what I can say. This book is very entertaining. If you enjoyed the first one, you’ll like this one. You definitely want to have the third book on hand for when you finish because we get a massive cliffhanger. Be warned, there is character death that will make you sob, so have some tissues. I also wouldn’t recommend trying to read this without reading Tempest first. This is not a series where you can just jump in willy nilly. It has a proper order and that needs to be adhered to. Cross does a great job of building the tension on where this whole thing is going and even at keeping me in the dark on how it’s going to turn out. I’m pretty good at guessing the outcome of novels, but I didn’t have a clue with this. I still don’t know where the series is going to end up taking me and that is a great feeling. There is a certain comfort in knowing where things are going, but there is also great fun in being kept guessing. Cross does a great job at straying from a predictable story line. I’m really excited to see how it all wraps up!

Audio Notes:
Matthew Brown has grown on me a bit. I really liked his narration in this one. Naturally, just as I start to really appreciate him, we run out of material. There is no audio version of Timestorm, so I’ll be forced to read it the old fashion way with Matthew’s voice weaving in and out of my head as I go. It’s funny that once you start an audiobook, that is forever how the character sounds to you. Regardless, I definitely recommend listening to these two on audio, even if it does send you into audio withdrawal when it comes time to read Timestorm.

4 bows
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Review for Stand-In Star by Rachael Johns

Stand-In Star by Rachael Johns

TITLE: Stand-In Star
AUTHOR: Rachael Johns
PUBLICATION DATE: January 1, 2013
PUBLISHER: Carina Press
PAGES: 250 pages
SOURCE: Publisher via NetGalley / Purchased from Audible
RATING: 4 bows

Holly McCartney has never wanted fame or the media’s attention. That was always more of her sister, Daisy’s mission in life. But when Daisy dies unexpectedly, Holly travels to Tinsel Town to attend the Academy Awards to accept an award Daisy may win. From the moment she arrives in Hollywood, things go far away from what’s she’s planned. She is ambushed at the airport and then rescued by a handsome stranger. Nate Devlin is that handsome stranger. Daisy was his best friend and he is determined to confront Holly on why she never visited or kept in contact with Daisy before her death. But the more he pushes, the more he discovers that things may not be what he assumes and the more difficulty he has fighting his attraction to her. Can they figure out the past together or will Holly forever resent her sister for her wrongdoings?

Holly is a very understandable character in many ways. She is very different from her sister, both in looks and personality. They are like night and day, with Daisy getting the better looks and the desire for the limelight and Holly getting the curves and the penchant for research. She’s so far from comfortable with the paparazzi terrorizing her that it’s not funny. I’d be in a similar frame of mind, dying to get back home and into a good book and away from the crazies with cameras. You can’t help but sympathize with her plight, not only over her sisters death, but of the resentment she harbors against her. Daisy was obviously the golden child and her parents favor and then she gets one thing all her own, and Daisy has to take that too. She just wants to pay her respects and get back to Australia as soon as the planes can get her there, but Nate Devlin is making that taste impossible. He keeps treating her like she is the bad guy in this scenario and as curious as she is to why, she doesn’t really want to know. She also doesn’t want to be attracted to him. He’s constantly being as ass.

As for Nate himself, I really liked him. Sure, he’s a jerk to Holly in the beginning, but that doesn’t last long and he has good reason for it. He’s total devotion to his family is admirable. Not many people would rise to that challenge like he did. Also, once he gets over his issues, he is quite charming. He’s determination to get Holly through this event, as well as his determination to show her how gorgeous she is was swoon-worthy. We need more guys like that.

One thing I loved about this is the fact that Holly isn’t a stick. Though her actual size is never disclosed, it’s made clear she has curves and is entirely self-conscious of her looks. She doesn’t feel attractive, at all. I think it’s a feeling we can all relate to. I also just enjoyed the basic story line. I like romance, especially ones where the characters have misconceptions about each other. I love those confrontation scenes where they learn the truth and are stunned by it. This is no exception. When Nate and Holly finally have it out, I was in heaven. They both learn how wrong they are.

I only had a few issues with it. The first being the sex thing. I realize this is a romance novel and it’s a fantasy and that’s great, but listening to Holly go on and on about how each orgasm was better than the last had me rolling my eyes. Yeah, we get it, Nate is very skilled. Can we move on? My other issue was Holly forgiving Daisy’s past digressions. This may be just me being biased because I am not the forgive and forget type, but I just can’t understand how she can forgive Daisy. What Daisy did was horrible and, for me, the reasons she gives doesn’t excuse her actions. Period. Some lines cannot be crossed and some things cannot be undone.

Beyond that, this was a highly entertaining romance. When I listen to audiobooks, I usually just listen for half and hour or so per day during my lunch break. By that method, it usually takes about a month to get through a decent audiobook because they are all so long. That is not the case with this one. I binged on it. I started listening Thursday during lunch, listened more on Friday, and then spent a great deal of Saturday trying to complete it. So it’s good enough that I completely disregard my normal audiobook reading habits. It’s sweet, it’s sassy, and it’s completely heart-felt. It’s all you can really ask for in a contemporary romance.

****Thank you to Carina Press for providing me with an eARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review****

4 bows
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Review for A Shimmer Of Angels (Angel Sight #1) by Lisa M Basso

A Shimmer Of Angels by Lisa M Basso

TITLE: A Shimmer Of Angels
SERIES: Angel Sight #1
AUTHOR: Lisa M Basso
PUBLICATION DATE: January 29, 2013
PAGES: 321 pages
SOURCE: Publisher via NetGalley
RATING: 2 bows

Rayna has been seeing angels since her mothers death. Believing the visions are hallucinations, she is quickly shipped off the the mental hospital to get better. Now, she has been released with a clean bill of health (provided she take her meds) and is now starting high school. The problem? She has quit her meds and is now seeing angel wings attached to the new kid at school. Then a kid at school commits suicide and Ray’s life changes. The angels are not only real, but dark ones are responsible for the suicides. The angels need Rayna’s help to save her classmates, but is she up to the task?

Ray was a character I was on the fence about. I loved the fact that she thought she was crazy. It’s the natural response when you start seeing things that aren’t supposed to be real, but it’s one we don’t see in YA much. Most YA heroine’s just accept that the things are real with little to no convincing. My problem initially started when I learned she was off her meds. You are finally at a point that you have stopped “hallucinating” and you just decide it’s not worth it anymore? We don’t get much of a reason she stops the meds beyond the normal “bad side-effects” excuse. This always bugs me and it’s a decision I can’t understand. The meds are meant to help you and you are just giving up on that help. I get that for the plot of this novel to move forward, she has to be able to see the wings and discover that angels are real, but it was a flimsy reason for me. I know all medicine has side effects. My husband is bipolar, so trust me, I get it. But either you want to get better or you don’t and I have a hard time relating to a character that throws away her chance for better.

The males, Cam and Kade, are nothing new or excited. The same basic points in a normal YA love triangle. Cam is the good guy, the angel, and Kade is the supposed bad guy, the fallen angel, but who isn’t all that bad. These two were the start of another problem. I hate love triangles. I was pleasantly surprised when Ray’s male BFF, Lee, doesn’t make a play for Ray. I breathed a sigh of relief to avoid that particular cliche because I hate to see the nice friend character lose, but it’s not here. That avoided, I was sure the love triangle element would be avoided, but no such luck. Not long after Cam enters the picture, Kade shows up. Kade, by the way, is clearly the better choice. Cam is righteous and silent and just blah. I wasn’t a fan. Whereas Kade actually helps Ray when she needs him and pushes her to stay safe instead of pushing her to help with a cause that will obviously put her in danger.

The writing was decent enough, but the plot was wholly predictable. It starts off pretty interesting. The premise of the novel, with a “crazy” heroine was pretty attractive when I requested it and it starts off on that angle, with Ray fighting for sanity and completely believing she is crazy. Angels aren’t real. People don’t have wings. It’s just a hallucination brought on by the stress of her mom’s death and she needs to stay away from stressful situations (and stay on her meds!). I felt like that was a believable storyline, the type that would really happen if I started seeing blindingly bright wings attached to people that no one else could see. We get a crazy heroine, a spunky best friend, and the normal family drama that would go with the crazy. Great start, really, it was difficult to put down for the first 50 or so pages. And then it was like Basso forgot was she was doing. From that point on, it’s all the typical YA stereotypes shoved into one. We get the love triangle, the bad boy vs good boy, the “unexplanable” connection, the heroine’s need to sacrifice herself to save her friends/family, and several more wrapped into one. It felt like Twilight and Fallen had mashed together to create a new and boring tale. I don’t even understand how Ray manages to fall for Cam. He’s there a good bit in the beginning, but I didn’t feel them connect at all, whereas I could definitely feel the tension between her and Kade.

With this book I feel like the author set out to write a new and different YA angel novel and then either forgot that was her goal or became self-conscious about the ability of the idea to succeed. I feel like it was trying too hard to give people what they wanted as opposed to following where the characters lead. It has great potential, but there was just no follow through. It could have been epic and different and new, but instead feel prey to the same tired YA troupes we see constantly. I think people who loved Fallen or other basic angel stories will love it, but if you are looking for something different, this definitely isn’t it.

****Thank you to Month9Books LLC for providing me with an eARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review****

2 bows
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Review for The Dead And Buried by Kim Harrington

The Dead And Buried by Kim Harrington

TITLE: The Dead And Buried
AUTHOR: Kim Harrington
PUBLICATION DATE: January 1, 2013
PUBLISHER: Scholastic Point
PAGES: 295 pages
RATING: 5 bows

Jade finally has what she’s always wanted: a nicer house in a bigger town. Her dad and stepmom has moved them from their small hometown to a bigger city with a better school system. She wonders how they can afford it since money was always what prevented this type of move before, but decides to just accept her good fortune. That is until she learns the reason they can afford it: the house was sold at a deeply discounted price due to the murder that occurred there months prior. With her little brother freaking out over a ghost in his room, she tries in vain to convince her stepmom that another move would be best, but eventually takes matters into her own hands. The only thing that will make Kayla (aka The Ghost) to leave is to find out who pushed her down those stairs. A difficult task, but Jade will do anything to protect her brother, even square off with the vicious popular crowd at school. Can she figure out who didn’t before Kayla’s patience runs out?

Can I just say creepy? Is that enough for a review. Maybe I’m a scary stuff wimp, but this gave me goosebumps every time I picked it up. Every. Single. Time. I don’t think I’ve ever read anything that gave me the willies as bad as this did. On that same note, can I also say that the original cover was so much better?

I mean, look at it! It’s so much creepier than a girl lying on a purple carpeted floor. The ARC I have actually has the original, with a big sticker covering it with the words “Revised Cover” at the bottom, I’m almost tempted to take it off, but I don’t want to damage the book. I actually liked the new cover, until I saw the old one….anyway, I’m getting off topic, aren’t I?

Jade was a character I didn’t initially love. She was a bit too standoffish in the beginning, but it was clear that it was mainly due to lack of people she comfortable around than actual antisocial tendencies. Her devotion to her brother was endearing, but mostly I loved how she was always herself. Here is a girl who we never see put up a facade to get people to like her or do stupid stunts to get attention. She is who she is and you either like it or you don’t. It was intensely refreshing to read from the eyes of a character who didn’t pander to the popular crowd. She does become entangled in their group because that’s the only way she can solve the murder, but she doesn’t go out of her way to be accepted by them.

Then we have our dear sweet Donovan. He was Kayla’s boyfriend and everyone at school believes he killed her, but one look into those sensitive eyes and anyone with a brain could tell this guy wouldn’t hurt a fly, much less kill his girlfriend. He’s sweet and artistic and adorable. Though he isn’t making my list for top ten swoon-worthy male YA characters, I can definitely see the appeal.

Kayla, the ghost, was a straight up bitch. Seriously, this girl played everyone around her for her own gain or just for the hell of it. She was cruel at times, even by her own admission, and the fact that she tormented a little boy just to push Jade into finding her killer is beyond sick. Harrington definitely knows how to write a bad guy who is bad through and through. I can sympathize with anyone who decided to push her down those stairs because the bitch had it coming. Everyone around her had motive, even her supposed best friend, so watching Jade try to unravel this particular ball of yawn was intriguing to say the least. It made it that much easier to get on Jade’s team for this impossible task.

I loved that we actually get to see parental interaction in this. I also loved that Marie straddles that line between bitch-y stepmom and geniunely caring parent. Jade’s relationship with Marie was one that really caught my attention. Though Marie has been married to Jade’s dad for many years, it seems like the two never got comfortable. I can imagine how difficult that must be, stepping into the mom role while trying not to completely overshadow or forget about the dead mother.

This has everything I was looking for and a few things I wasn’t. I knew it would be a YA murder mystery, but I wasn’t expecting the high creepiness factor. I really adored the whole thing and how engaging it is. Within the first 20 pages I was hooked and once I got past 100, I literally couldn’t put it down, binge reading until it was over. It takes a dark turn because it’s hard to avoid that when we are talking about teenage murder, but it leaves you with that hopeful feeling that everything will improve. It left me with a smile on my face, and really, what more can you ask?

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Review for Through The Ever Night (Under The Never Sky #2) by Veronica Rossi

Through The Ever Night by Veronica Rossi

TITLE: Through The Ever Night
SERIES: Under The Never Sky #2
AUTHOR: Veronica Rossi
PUBLICATION DATE: January 8, 2013
PUBLISHER: HarperTeen, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
PAGES: 341 pages
FORMAT: Hardback
SOURCE: Purchased
RATING: 4 bows

Perry & Aria want nothing more than to be together after the months of separation, but it’s just not in the cards. Aria is being blackmailed into finding the Still Blue, that mythical land free of Aether storms and Perry, as much as he wants to, can’t leave his tribe to go with her. His position as Blood Lord is too new and the people will rebel if he leaves. Aria leaves with Roar, heading to the Rim to find Liv and gain information from Sable about the Still Blue’s location. Meanwhile, Perry stays with the Tides to try and hold things together and keep them safe from Aether storms until something else can be arranged. He’s not handling the role of Blood Lord as well as he had hoped and he misses Aria more than he’d care to admit.

In the first book, we watcher Aria grow as she learned the truth about her parents and tried to survive outside the wall. The scared girl who needed protecting is long gone and, in her place, stands a woman who is more than capable of taking care of herself. She’s now a heroine I hope many young girls read about and aspire to be. Having Prince Charming save you is awesome, but being able to save yourself? That’s even better. She’s still more than a little off balance about her heritage and how she fits into the world, since she obviously don’t belong in the pod and Perry’s tribe hates her because she’s half “mole.” She’s become closer to Roar and you’d think this would turn into a love triangle, but, at least from this aspect, that never happens. It’s clear that Roar and Aria are just (close) friends, even though others imply more.

I was once again on the fence about Perry. In the same amount of time he and Aria are together in the beginning (and then at the end), I was head over heels with his swoon-worthiness. It’s like his swoon-worthy gene is only activated around her. For the vast part of the middle, I admired his dedication to his tribe and his refusal to leave even a single member behind, but I wasn’t in love with him. He’s doubts about Aria ****SPOILER****and how she left without telling him, which was for his own fucking good. Seriously dude, she knew the Tides were giving you shit because of her staying in your house and she knew that if you left with her, they’d revolt but that you wouldn’t allow her to leave without you anyway. She knew you’d make the wrong decision by coming with her and she knew that she couldn’t stay, not only because your tribe would keep trying to kill her, but also because she has to find the Still Blue in order to save Talon.****END SPOILER**** but get the hell over it. It’s clear that she did it for you and you fucking know it so stop whining and man up! The fact that he allows other people to place doubts in his mind pissed me off beyond logical reasoning.

Then there is Roar, my dear sweet Roar. He’s the real swoon-worthy guy of this trilogy. He’s hot and sweet and charming and completely in love with Liv, despite their issues. Speaking of Liv****SPOILER****WHY WAS IT NECESSARY TO KILL HER?!?!? You could injury her without mortally fucking wounding her? There had to be a better way out of that than torturing my precious Roar by murdering his soul mate. Now I won’t be able to fully enjoy reading their novella because I know their story is doomed…and not in a good way. Please don’t’ use this as an opportunity to open that Perry-Aria-Roar love triangle.****END SPOILER**** One thing I, surprisingly, enjoyed was Soren’s return. I won’t say much for fear of spoilers, but his personality has improved since his crazed moments at the beginning of Under The Ever Sky. I’m more excited than I care to admit to see more of him (and his interactions with the rest of the gang) in the final installment of this series.

Rossi manages to steer clear of most YA stereotypes in this installment. Though the love triangle idea is skirted several times, with not only Brooke secretly vying for Perry’s attention, but a second female “maybe” character, no true triangle is formed. I hope it stays that way in book *hint hint hint*. There wasn’t a massive cliffhanger either, just the basic, things are still unresolved theme. Most of the main storyline is tied up, with just the Still Blue being the only real mystery left. The prose are just as beautiful and witty as before, managing to give all the important characters that perfect balance of strength, courage, and uncertainty to keep you guessing at exactly how they’ll tackle the challenges they face. It was a thrilling ride that was over too soon and I can’t wait to start the next one.

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Review for Double Crossed: A Spies and Thieves Story (Gallagher Girls #5.5 & Heist Society #2.5) by Ally Carter

Double Crossed by Ally Carter

TITLE: Double Crossed
SERIES: Gallagher Girls #5.5 & Heist Society #2.5
AUTHOR: Ally Carter
PUBLICATION DATE: January 22, 2013
PUBLISHER: Hyperion Books, an imprint of Hatchette Book Group
PAGES: 89 pages
SOURCE: NetGalley
RATING: 5 stars

Macey McHenry and W. W. Hale are both incredibly bored at an upper crust societal ball. There is more to both than meets the eye and when the simple party turns into a hostage situation, they both learn more about each other and the people around them than they ever thought they’d need to know. Can they use their spy/thief know-how to prevent any bloodshed? Or will the bad guys prevail?

The entire ensemble of characters in this novella are all equally intriguing. Macey is smart and cunning, with that fighting knowledge that makes me wish the magical academy she attends were real and that I could sign up. Hale is an upstanding guy, in a manner of speaking. Sure, he’s a thief in his spare time, but he’s completely loyal to Kat, refusing to even flirt with Macey in the most superficial way. He’s also pretty intelligent, seeing a few minor details that Macey missed. Then there is Kat, the woman behind the scenes. She redefines the word smooth. Slick as hell with plenty of knowledge and background in everything from a con job to an upscale heist to picking a strangers pocket.

I must confess that though both the Gallagher Girls series and the Heist Society series have been on my reading list for quite some time, I’ve never been overly excited about either. Sure, they had looked interesting, but they were not something I was just dying to read. I wasn’t entirely sure how well the spy/heist stuff would play out in a novel. It works great on screen (I’m a huge fan of heist movies), but I wasn’t sure if all the minute description required would bore in writing. Well, I can now officially say that they have been bumped significantly higher on my to read list. If they are half as good as this novella I’ll be in for a treat. It was everything I could want, with the right amount of humor and suspense to keep me guess and craving more. If you want to give this series a try, this is the perfect thing to start out with. Yes, it is in the middle of the series, but it’s easy to follow along and, right now, it’s free for the kindle. Go give it a try!

****Thank you to Disney Book Group for providing me with an eARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review****

Review for All Over You (Devoured #0.5) by Emily Snow

All Over You by Emily Snow

TITLE: All Over You
SERIES: Devoured #0.5
AUTHOR: Emily Snow
PUBLICATION DATE: January 1, 2013
PUBLISHER: Touchstone, an imprint of Scribner, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Inc
PAGES: 57 pages
SOURCE: Borrowed
RATING: 4 stars

Sienna Jensen does all kinds of internet research when she gets the job assisting wardrobe for Your Toxic Sequel’s latest music video, but she learns nothing that will help her when she comes face to face with the band’s lead singer. Lucas Wolfe is not used to hearing no, but when Sienna refuses to go on a date with him, he’s determined to turn that particular no into a yes. He has three days to make it happen before the video ends to make Sienna his next conquest, before she walks out of his life forever.

Like all good prequels, this just leaves you wanting more. The ending leaves much to be desire and I immediately starting reading the next book. You don’t get enough to properly gage Sienna’s or Lucas’s personalities, beyond Lucas’s need to be in control and Sienna’s normally submissive nature. Sounds like a match made in heaven, right? Nope because Lucas seems to be the one person she can tell no. You’ll have to read on to book two to see if they ever work it out.

Review for Ethan (Brightest Kind of Darkness #0.5) by P.T. Michelle

Ethan by P T Michelle

TITLE: Ethan
SERIES: Brightest Kind Of Darkness #0.5
AUTHOR: P T Michelle
PUBLICATION DATE: January 11, 2013
PUBLISHER: All Night Reads
PAGES: 65 pages
SOURCE: NetGalley
RATING: 4 stars

Ethan Harris is haunted by incredibly vivid violent dreams and a voice that speaks to him of dark things. He struggles to maintain a normal façade, keeping all his secrets at any cost and it works fine until he sees Nara Collins. For reasons he cannot understand, her mere presents calms his darker sides and though he knows he can never allow himself to be close to her, he is too fascinated to stop watching and obsessing over her. The more he watches, the more he realizes that there is more to Nara then meets the eye and it makes it that much harder to fight his attraction to her.

Like most prequels, this makes me really want to read the first book in the series which I have had sitting on my kindle for quite some time. I’ll have to make more of an effort to find the time to read it. Ethan was a very interesting leading man, with his darkness and his affinity for animals, dogs especially. It’s obvious his life has been far from easy and I just want to see things improve for him. Nara is a bit of a mystery since we only see her via Ethan’s perspective and they don’t actually speak until the very end of this shockingly short novella, but if the synopsis of the next book is any indication, she will be a fascinating character as well.

This has successfully done its job of whetting my appetite for more and I definitely plan on starting the next novel as soon as possible!

****Thank you to All Night Reads for providing me with an eARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review****

Review for Shredded by Karen Avivi

Shredded by Karen Avivi

TITLE: Shredded
AUTHOR: Karen Avivi
PUBLICATION DATE: January 15, 2013
PUBLISHER: Independent
PAGES: 314 pages
SOURCE: From Author
RATING: 5 stars

Josie Peters thinks she has everything she needs, a decent boyfriend, good friends, and the drive to make sure her BMX skills are always improving. Then her boyfriend dumps her just before prom and she learns her friends are all going away for the summer and she is forced to find other means of distraction which leads her to connect with a few other BMX girls and sets her on the journey to compete in more than one tournament this summer.

This is EXACTLY what I was looking for. Josie is a strong heroine who keeps pushing for what she wants despite the opposition and her own fears. She isn’t perfect, she makes mistakes, but she continues to pick herself up and try again. I think YA especially needs more heroines just like Josie. No Bella Swan syndrome here, Josie is beyond basing who she is off the guy she’s with and doesn’t sit around whining when things don’t go her way. When she wipes out completely, ended up with a badly bruised face and a sprained wrist, she lets her friend post the video online and instead of bitching about needed a new frame for her bike, she goes out and makes a plan to try to get a local bike shop to sponsor her or at least give her a discount and succeeds.

The writing was done so well with the perfect balance of realism and humor. I just can’t stress enough what a great character Josie is, breathing life into this story in a way that was completely relatable. I’m happy to say that though this could have easily fallen into love triangle land with the multitude of hot males, it doesn’t. This book is more about Josie’s path to BMX tournaments than her endless need to find her next boyfriend, though there is definitely a bit of romance mixed in. It’s a stand-alone, so no worrying about the dreaded cliffhangers and it has my favorite kind of ending, a happy but realistic one. Josie definitely doesn’t get everything she wants, but what she does get is enough and it was perfect. Her triumphs outweighing her failures and all that jazz.

I think this is a book for everyone, especially teen girls showing that with enough determination, you really can achieve your goals. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do what you want, period. I think that’s the biggest lesson this is trying to teach and it succeeds.

****A big thank you to Karen Avivi for providing me with a digital copy in exchange for an honest review****