Review for The Sum Of All Kisses (Smythe-Smith Quartet #3) by Julia Quinn

The Sum Of All Kisses by Julia Quinn

TITLE: The Sum Of All Kisses
SERIES: Smythe-Smith Quartet #3
AUTHOR: Julia Quinn
PUBLICATION DATE: October 29, 2013
PAGES: 373 pages
SOURCE: Gift from my husband
RATING: 5 bows

Lady Sarah Pleinsworth will always hate Hugh Prentice. He has never done anything to her directly but his actions caused her beloved cousin Daniel to be exiled from England for several years. Now that Hugh has fixed that and Daniel is home at last, everyone wants to forgive and forget. Not Sarah, though. Sarah isn’t the forgive and forget type. Sarah is determined to hate him for all eternity. So when Honoria assigns Sarah to make Hugh feel welcome at the weddings, she’s beyond irritated. Doesn’t Honoria know she hates this man? Forced to make nice, she makes it known to Hugh that she doesn’t not enjoy this arrangement, but will suffer through it because Honoria asked it of her. The more time she spends with him, though, the more she realizes that maybe she doesn’t hate him after all. For his part, Hugh is just as irritated at Lady Sarah. She’s loud and dramatic and down right annoying. But the more time he spends in her company, the more he comes to appreciate her hidden wit and think that maybe she isn’t as bad as he originally thought. Are these two destined for all head over heels, or will they soon learn that all of their original impressions were spot-on?

Sarah is a character I could clearly understand Hugh’s irritation at. She is, in fact, very dramatic. It’s even more annoying because she doesn’t seem to realize that she’s dramatic. She’s also highly opinionated. I can relate to her more than I’d like because I’m also very opinionated. Hopefully I’m less dramatic because I tend to hate drama, but I’ll never see myself through someone else’s eyes, so I guess I’ll never know! But back to Sarah. I admire how loyal she is to her family. The Smythe-Smith brood is intimidatingly large, so it’s no wonder she always has someone hanging about. It must be nice to have such a close-knit family. I must admit that I love her sisters. All of them, but especially Harriet and Frances. They are so terribly darling that I cannot express my love completely. It was so very much fun to watch Sarah discover more about herself. The realization that she is indeed dramatic was a priceless moment.

Hugh was someone I loved immediately. I must confess that I swoon easily for the heroes of historical romances. They are always so dashing, with just the right amount of rakish-ness. Hugh is no exception to that, but he’s a bit different than your average HR male. He’s handsome and charming and witty, as you’d expect, but he’s also went threw a great deal with his leg and then with convincing his father to allow Daniel to live his life in England unscathed. The length he went to to assure that would happen is astounding. You want to both congratulate him on his genius and slap him for being an imbecile. His penchant for maths is astounding as well. I can’t do basic addition without a pencil and paper (or a calculator preferably), but this guy can do them in his head in a matter of seconds. He’s relationship with his father is heart-breaking. Parents are supposed to love you, period.

What can I really say about a JQ novel? She’s brilliant. My favorite thing about her collective works is the humor. She always incorporates wit and humor. Humor is very important to me. Reading is an escape that should make me happy and laughter is the best way to show that happiness. I fear she has spoiled me for all other historical romances. I go into them all expecting JQ levels of awesome and am usually disappointed. How to do you go back to loving mediocre once you’ve had perfection? Beyond my fanatic level of love for all things Julia Quinn, this is also one of my favorite types of stories. That whole I hate you, I like you, I love you dance is always entertaining to watch. It promises epic disputes, witty repartee, and the perfect sigh worthy moments.

Basically, what I’m saying is that this is a novel for everyone. As with most historical romances, even though this is the middle book of a series, it can be read as a stand-alone. It might enhance the experience if you know some of the backstory, but it is by no means necessary. I think anyone who enjoys romance novels of any kind would love this. It’s everything you could want in a novel. 🙂

5 bows
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Review for The Temptation Of Lila & Ethan (The Secret #3) by Jessica Sorensen

The Temptation Of Lila & Ethan by Jessica Sorensen

TITLE: The Temptation Of Lila & Ethan
SERIES: The Secret #3
AUTHOR: Jessica Sorensen
PUBLICATION DATE: October 22, 2013
PAGES: 400 pages
SOURCE: Purchased
RATING: 5 bows

Everyone believes Lila Summers has the perfect life. She is a very pretty girl with rich parents who always has a smile on her face. That is exactly what she wants you to think. Beneath that facade, though, Lila is a very troubled girl. Her life has recently started spirally out of control, more than normal. When she hits the bottom, only one guy is there for her. One guy who drags her ass out of the places she shouldn’t be. That guy is Ethan Gregory. Ethan has sworn to never love again. His first love went way wrong and that put him on the path to no strings attached hook-ups and friendship for his lifetime. That’s what Lila is, a friend. She can’t be more. He won’t let her. But the more he fights his attraction, the hotter it burns, and soon it’s too much to fight. Can they make things work or will things end in disaster.

Damn. I thought I knew Lila & Ethan pretty well from their parts in the two previous Ella & Micha books. I was wrong. I knew they had damaged past. That’s pretty much a given because Sorensen likes her main character’s twisted, but I wasn’t expecting it to be so bad for Lila. I wasn’t expecting Lila to have a drug habit or a set of parents that are the biggest assholes on the planet. This novel proves that sometimes mental abuse is worse than physical abuse. Lila had it so rough and drugs/drinking are the only way she knows how to cope. Those habits cost money, though, and that’s something she doesn’t have anymore. Daddy cut her off since she refuses to come home and play the role he puts her in. She doesn’t have any skills to really get a job on and she’s having to sneak out her windows to avoid the landlord because she’s so behind on rent. She genuinely believes there is no way out for her. And she refuses to try to get help. She won’t even tell Ella about it, even though Ella is her best friend. She doesn’t want to drag Ella into her shit when Ella just got her stuff together. The only one who is there for her is Ethan. Non-judging, sweet, helpful Ethan. The nice guy who acts tough.

Ethan, in typical Sorensen fashion, has a bad past that he blames himself for. It’s funny because when you think about Sorensen’s hero’s as a unit, they have so much in common and you’d think we’d be sick of hearing basically the same story over and over again, but we’re not. She writes it in a way that they all feel unique and different. Anyway, Ethan is that sweet guy underneath the bad boy exterior that reminds me a lot of Micha. It’s no wonder the two are best friends, they are so similar, even though Ethan does his best to hide it. I feel bad about his first experience with love. It went so wrong, but there was nothing he could have really done to prevent it, which he realizes eventually. Still, I had the urge to slap him in the head a few times to knock some sense into him.
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He’s just so damn stubborn! We’ve all got issues, dude, but you’ve got to get over them because avoiding shit isn’t living. On my list of Sorensen heroes, her rates third….forth….Quinton…Kayden…Luke….Okay, I don’t know exactly where he rates, but it’s below Micha! Micha is still my favorite.

Lila and Ethan’s journey is a bit difficult for me to read. I really thought they’d be a lighter read on the drama end than the rest of the characters because they seemed to be less damaged than any of the others.
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I am just floored by that. This novel was great, right up to Sorensen’s normal level of awesome, but I’m still sad that Lila & Ethan couldn’t have better pasts. Or at least handle it better. Lila with the drugs was just shocking as hell. The way her mom handled the school situation was also appalling. Woman, you should have been outraged, not hassling your daughter. The really sad thing is that there are real people out there in this world like Lila’s parents. Real people who abuse their children and don’t think twice about it. What is the point of having a kid if that is how you are going to treat them? I’m the first to admit that I’m iffy on the subject of having kids, but I know one thing for sure, I’ll do a damn sight better than that.

As for writing and plot, well, it’s Jessica Sorensen, so really, what is there to say? She’s fantastic. She knows how to hook my so I don’t want to stop reading. She knows exactly where to place the twists and turns to keep me begging for me. She knows exactly where to stab the needle to cause the most pain, both for me and the characters. She’s sadistic and it’s amazing. Speaking of sadistic, even though Lila & Ethan’s story ends rather well, she manages to throw in a Ella & Micha cliffhanger, so be prepared for that.

Lila & Ethan’s story is all you’d expect it to be and so much more. As I said, Sorensen, really knows how to bring you pain, something I should have learned by now. This novel is as heartbreaking as the rest of her NA works, but she makes it (mostly) all better by the end. We get that happily ever after that we rarely see in a set of character’s first novel. Typically, that moment doesn’t really happen until the second (sometimes the third) novel for that particular set of characters. It’s all you could want in a new adult romance, so get to reading!

5 bows
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Review for The Brokenhearted (The Brokenhearted #1) by Amelia Kahaney

The Brokenhearted by Amelia Kahaney

TITLE: The Brokenhearted
SERIES: The Brokenhearted #1
AUTHOR: Amelia Kahaney
PUBLICATION DATE: October 8, 2013
PAGES: 336 pages
FORMAT: Hardback
SOURCE: Purchased
RATING: 2 bows


Anthem Fleet was just a normal rich girl with a pushy boyfriend, barely there parents, and a drive to be the best prima ballerina she can be…..until she sneaks out for a party, meets a new boy who subsequently get’s kidnapped for ransom causing her to run away and fall into a lake where she is saved by a boy who takes her to a crazy doctor who gives her a chimeric heart because she’ll die otherwise. Then she goes all vigilante to save the oh so special boy and get vengeance on the people who took him in the first place.

Before I get started with the usual shenanigans that are involved in my angry reviews, I want to get something out of the way. I’m going to try something new here. Since talking with Lauren about this book and how absolutely insane it is, I have been inspired to make it a themed gif post. All the gifs used here will be taken from the Nostalgia Critic. This will happen for two reasons. The first being I’m a huge fan. The second is that this book inspired Doug Walker level rage and I feel his expressions can help me express my feelings to you. If it goes well, I may attempt to do more gif themed reviews, but we shall see. Also, instead of just giving you my thoughts, I’m going to walk you through the novel and it’s craziness. This may go horrible wrong, but I’ll never know unless I try. Now, back to the review.

We start off with Anthem whining about life. She is a replacement kid, you see. Her parents had another daughter who died and they had Anthem to replace the dead one. So we see her parents pressure her to fit into Rachel’s (the dead one) mold even though they are ssssoooo different (Hint: they really aren’t). She is supposed to attend this fancy party with her parents and meet up with her boyfriend of several years, but since he has been pressuring her to sleep with him and she doesn’t want to, she lies and tells her parents she is sick and stays home. Then she sneaks out with her friend and goes to a rave. She meets Gavin, a oh so hot, but sweet and sensitive, guy. The two talk a little and then the police break up the party so they get separated and she assumes she won’t see him again. Up until this point, I was fine. The novel was okay, but not amazing. Then we get to the next bit.

Anthem realizes that she doesn’t really want to be with Will because her night with Gavin showed her better things are possible, so she dumps him. She goes to ballet practice as normal and Gavin is waiting outside for her. Now, at the party, Anthem didn’t give him any of her info besides a fake name and the general direction of her home. The fact that he was able to find her suggests stalker tendencies because he had no logical way of knowing we she’d be. But Anthem, being the idiot that she is, is just overjoyed to see him and skips Ballet practice (something she’s never done before) to spend time with him. She ends up skipping practice all week, telling her instructor that she has an injured ankle which the instructor believes without any kind of corroboration from a doctor or her parents, to continue hanging out. Now, at the end of this single week, she follows Gavin home and gives him her virginity because she loves him so much.
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That’s right, Will, the obnoxious boyfriend of years doesn’t deserve it, but guy of the one week knowledge is worth it. After they get it on, things get really interesting. Or maybe interesting isn’t the right word because there was no point in this novel where I would have had a problem sitting it down for something else. But anyway, things take an unexpected turn with thugs break in and kidnap Gavin. They tell Anthem to get them an exorbitant amount of money by Friday or they’ll kill precious Gavin. They leave and Anthem tries to run back home, but gets accosted by a hobo. Then Ford, another random guy, saves her and tells her that she needs to give him a reward for such an act.
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Thinking he is a creep, she runs off again and ends up falling off a bridge into a river that kills her. But oh so heroic Ford jumps in and saves her and takes her to his demented doctor friend who gives her a heart transplant to save her. She gets a chimeric heart and she’s all healed.
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Now, when Anthem awakens, she realizes several days have passed. She runs home, against the good doctor’s recommendation, to beg her parents for the money to save Gavin. She decides they don’t need to know about her death and surgery and new heart. She begs them to save Gavin, but they refuse because they won’t negotiate with terrorists and they’ll probably just demand more money anyway.

Anthem then steals some of her mom’s jewelry to try to negotiate with them. Her family’s body guard, Serge, helps her in this endeavor, volunteering to go in and make the trade. This goes badly and Anthem swoops in the save him because her chimeric heart gives her many new abilities. She’s super fast, super strong, super healing…basically a lot of supers. Why does the chimeric heart allow her to do these things? I don’t fucking know. It’s never explained!
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Anyway, after that she decides to find the baddies on her own because she doesn’t want anyone else she loves to get hurt. Meanwhile, in normal life, because she is a teenager and that means parents and school and drama, Will is black mailing her into being his girlfriend. Apparently after she dumped him he planted a camera in her room and recorded her acting like a chimeric heart freak and says if she doesn’t pretend to date him, he’ll post it online so the world can see what she really is. Instead of using her new found abilities to sneak into his home, beat him senseless, and take his computer with the files, she angrily agrees to his plan. Because she is powerless against him?
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So in real life she is going through the motions and in night life, she is using Ford to help her hunt down Gavin’s kidnappers. They find him, she goes to save him, he gets shot through the heart and dies. At which point I just freak the fuck out.
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You make such a big deal about the instalove and how she can’t let him die and then just like that, you shoot him and it’s game over? Interesting. That wasn’t a twist I saw coming. I don’t like it, but kudos to you for shocking me. After that, Anthem goes into a short depression and then a rage filled training session with Ford to learn to fight. I personally think this is useless because she has super-human strength and super-human speed and super-human healing, so the basics are combat aren’t really necessary, but hey, it’s your life! She takes out the gang that killed Gavin one by one. When she gets to the ringleader chick, she actually kills her. The others she just gift wraps for the police, but the girl who actual shot Gavin gets to die.

Her quest is complete, so the novels over, right?
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No? Damn. Anthem, despite missing all those practices, is the lead in the ballet’s performance of Giselle. She performs and then finds a note about the boss of the gang that the kidnappers worked for is going to be at a party and she should go and handle him. And she does. Anyone wanna guess who the boss is?
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It’s Gavin! He’s not really dead! He faked his death and used Anthem to get her money!
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Apparently Anthem is dumber than we thought because even though he dies in her arms, she doesn’t notice the fake blood or how it’s cold or possibly how he is still fucking breathing!
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But yeah, they fight, he shoots Ford, who followed Anthem to save her and Gavin gets away while Anthem rushes Ford to his crazy doctor friend. Don’t worry people, he is fine. She uses her super-sleuth abilities…
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to find Gavin and throws him off a cliff, killing him. Then she realizes that her dad is in cahoots with Gavin and his gang and book over!

Oh! And somewhere in the middle, Anthem convince’s Will’s parents that he is on drugs and needs help so they ship him off to rehab while she makes off with is damning video! YAYAY!

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The problem with this besides the insta-love and love triangle (rectangle?) and the crazy plot and my annoyance (read: hatred) for the lead character, is the complete lack of world building. It is apparent that this does not take place in modern day America (or modern day anywhere). It’s obvious that it’s a dystopian world of some kind. But we never get anymore information than that.
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Just like an explanation for why a chimeric heart suddenly allows her to do so many new things, we get no explanation about this world. We get no background or history on when things changed or why or how. We get nothing to explain away the crazy people names and don’t even get me started on the names for the drugs people take.
Doug Walker see the problem? gif

What it comes down to is this novel was a big mess. It gets 2 stars instead of one because the last 50 pages or so were very intense and interesting and I like that she realizes what an idiot she was in the beginning with Gavin. This novel is billed as The Dark Knight meets Cinder and in that respect it fails hopelessly. It resembles neither work. It fails on all counts, barely keeping me motivated enough to put in the effort to finish it. And now I have to read the sequel because I requested it for review. This novel is why I’m going to stop doing that. I’m only going to request first books or books in a series I have already started to avoid having to force myself to read something I’m pretty sure I’m not going to enjoy.

So there you have it! My very first novel walk through! What did you think? Did you like the themed gifs? Did you hate them? Are you also a Nostalgia Critic fan? Inquiring minds need to know! Mostly just I need to know, but I’m sure someone else out there is curious!

2 bows
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Review for When The Marquess Met His Match (An American Heiress In London #1) by Laura Lee Guhrke

When The Marquess Met His Match by Laura Lee Guhrke

TITLE: When The Marquess Met His Match
SERIES: An American Heiress In London #1
AUTHOR: Laura Lee Guhrke
PUBLICATION DATE: October 29, 2013
PAGES: 384 pages
SOURCE: Purchased
RATING: 4 bows

Lady Belinda Featherstone is a happy widow. Though her marriage was a painful experience (she loved him, but he was only in it for her money), her husbands death pushed her into the world of matchmaking, something she is quite talented at. Now, she is a respectable member of British society, assisting young American heiresses in making smart matches. So it was nothing out of the ordinary when Nicholas Stirling, Marquess of Trubridge, winds up on her doorstep asking for her assistance. The problem? Well, Trubridge is only marrying because his father has cut him off and he needs money. To Belinda’s eye, he is a fortune hunting scoundrel and she has no intention of making it easy to trap some poor naive heiress into matrimony just so he can replenish his coffers. With the decree that she is not only refusing to help him, but will actively attempt to ruin his prospects, the gauntlet has been thrown. Will Nicholas find a wealthy heiress to marry? Or will Belinda stand in his way?

Belinda is my favorite kind of historical romance heroine, sassy and mouthy, but still able to conform to societies expectations when in public. She’s managed to create quite a reputation as a matchmaker, the good kind of reputation. She’s built her personal fortune by helping American heiresses find matches with titled peers and she is an excellent judge of character. However that ability to accurately judge most people with a cursory glance means she trusts her opinion and doesn’t really realize that she can be wrong at times. She immediately sees Nicholas as a scoundrel who is exactly like her late husband and refuses to even consider that she is wrong….until it’s inescapable.

Nicholas was a character I could identify with a little too well. He’s broke and he has to do something to keep himself afloat because he can’t subsist on air and sunshine. He has to marry well because the only other option is an occupation. The fact that titled men don’t have normal jobs doesn’t bother him as much as the fact that he has no such training for any jobs. Who would hire him at a wage that he could keeping living in the style he is accustomed to for what meager skills he has? A feeling I understand all too well….but ANYWAY, marrying is the only resort. He intends to be as honest about it as possible with the chit lucky (or unlucky) enough to be his bride, going into the marriage all his cards on the table. Why Belinda is so eager to put him in the shoes of her deceased husband, he has no idea. Sure, he has the reputation of a rake, one he quite enjoyed building, but he has no intention of tricking some poor infatuated girl into matrimony. And it doesn’t help that he compares every society airhead to Belinda and they all come up short. But marrying Belinda is out of the question….isn’t it?

The banter and wit between these two had me grinning like a maniac for the entire novel. It’s got all the good parts of a romance with a lower level of angst than most of the recently published book. I loved everyone bit of it. I love Belinda’s stubborn nature and Nicholas’s determination to win her respect and how well they fit together. It has just the right amount of fluff to keep me happy. Oh, who am I kidding, I’d be happy with nothing but fluff.

This is exactly what you would expect from Laura Lee Guhrke, a love story with wit and charm and the fated happily ever after. What more do you need?

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Review for Trust In Me (Wait For You #1.5) by J Lynn

Trust In Me by J Lynn

TITLE: Trust In Me
SERIES: Wait For You #2
AUTHOR: J Lynn (AKA Jennifer L Armentrout
PUBLICATION DATE: October 22, 2013
PUBLISHER: William Morrow Impulse
PAGES: 352 pages
FORMAT: Paperback
SOURCE: Purchased
RATING: 5 bows

Cameron Hamilton is that hot guy that can get any girl he wants, so when Avery Morgensten turns him down flat, he’s intrigued. She’s gorgeous and more than a little awkward and he’s entirely fascinated with watching her emotions play across her face. It’s obvious she’s hiding something, but she won’t let him close enough to figure it out. He refuses to give up, though, continually asking her on dates and pushing past her barriers. Will she finally relent and give him a chance or will she remain stubborn and continue to refuse?

Dayum. Did I mention in my review for Wait For You that Cam is awesome? Because, seriously, he is. If you loved him in book one, he’ll steal your heart even more here. He’s the same nice guy hiding under that cocky exterior, which shines even more here. He’s so fucking confident about his awesomeness that it’s impossible to argue the point with, though I don’t know why you’d want to. He’s just so terribly sweet to Avery and so fucking charming. The fact that he constantly refers to her as Shortcake in his head had in an endless giggle-fest.

Avery, via his perspective, is even more skittish than she seems in hers. There isn’t much to say beyond that, besides it’s really obvious she is hiding something. And it’s even more frustrating watching her refuse to open up to him when you are reading his thoughts. All he wants to do is comfort and protect her and she won’t allow him that opportunity.

I think I have said at one point that I’m not a huge fan of the type of books like this, where it’s the exact same storyline as the previous one via a new perspective, but Jen may have changed my take on that. I would gladly have read any new scene or rehashed scene she wanted to give me though Cam’s eyes. For a lot of authors, it becomes incredibly boring to read the same damn scenes in a voice that sounds too similar to the original one, but here, they both felt so distinct that it was impossible to confuse the two. I also really love getting more of Ollie and Jace, plus the preview for Be With Me because you can feel the attraction rolling off Jace and Teresa, whether Cam wants to admit it or not.

Bottom line? This is everything you’d expect out of a JLA sequel. It makes me want to say to hell with my carefully laid out reading list and binge on her novels. Cam is just….there aren’t words, okay. He’s almost better than Daemon, which should be recommendation in and of itself. If you liked Wait For You, you’ll love this. If you haven’t read Wait For You, then remedy that and then you’ll love this. Don’t read this first because it obviously gives away major spoilers….unless you don’t care about spoilers, in which case the sequence is up to you. 🙂

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Review for The Forever Of Ella & Micha (The Secret #2) by Jessica Sorensen

The Forever Of Ella & Micha by Jessica Sorensen

TITLE: The Forever Of Ella & Micha
SERIES: The Secret #2
AUTHOR: Jessica Sorensen
PUBLICATION DATE: October 15, 2013
PAGES: 416 pages
FORMAT: Paperback
SOURCE: Purchased
RATING: 5 bows

Ella has finally agreed to be wih Micha and things look like happily ever after between the two….except Ella has to go back to school and Micha is going on the road with his newly found band-mates. They both know it’ll be hard, but together they can accomplish anything and the worst is behind them, right? But Ella is becoming more and more effected by the depression that plagued her mother and Micha can’t always get through to her. Micha is beyond frustrated that Ella keeps shutting him out and he can’t just drop everything to run and help knock her out of her funk. He loves her more than anything, but is that enough to overcome Ella’s walls?

It’s been a while since I read The Secret, but Ella seems to be the same girl. Smart and determined to do things her way, stubborn the core, with self-worth so low that she’s constantly worrying about bringing Micha down to her level. She has spent her entire life taking care of everyone and just doesn’t know how to let go and allow Micha to help her. She worries about everything so much, especially the possibility of succumbing to the craziness that drove her mother to suicide. She feels the depression creeping in more and more every day but doesn’t know how to accept her therapists help to improve….until she hits rock bottom with a nervous breakdown. Then things finally start to improve for her, learning how to breathe through the bad stuff and focus on the good.

Micha, my badass Micha, is one of my top swoon-worthy males. He has that great combination of being a total rocker badass, but also being a complete sweetheart to Ella. He is so completely in love with her (and always has been) and is determined to pull her through whatever shit she’s gotten herself into and show her that she isn’t like her mother and she’s amazing. Even when Ella fucks up royally****SPOILER****and convinces him that she cheated so he’ll break up with her because she’s in the middle of a nervous breakdown****END SPOILER**** he still can’t bring himself to hate her or abandon her. She’s the center of his life, whether she likes it or not and now amount of depression or craziness is going to push him away. He’s only downfall is the fact that she demands Ella not hide her problems from him when he hides his sometimes, worried that she can’t handle it. Dude, that’s not how it works. It’s a give and take and if you hide things, you can’t expect her to act any differently.

Ella and Micha have to be Jessica Sorensen’s crowning achievement. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Callie & Kayden and all their side characters, but there is just something more magical about Ella & Micha’s story. These two have that all consuming romance that most people would kill for and I just can’t get enough. They are so attached to the other that it’s impossible to really imagine life with anyone else. These two give hope to everyone who searches for that lifelong love. Even though it’s obvious that they have problems, it’s equally clear that they will figure out a way through it.

We get a bit more of Lila and Ethan here, a taste I expect of what the next novel will be like. I’m pretty excited to see those two finally get together because there is definitely something there, despite how much they both deny it. We get a glimpse at a few other side characters, but the story focuses on Ella & Micha pretty tightly so there isn’t room for much else.

Though I had a nervous suspicion this would venture into love triangle territory to provide adequate conflict for these two, it never does. There is a new possible partner for each character but neither shows interest in anything other than a platonic relationship, thank goodness. I would have hated to see Ella & Micha’s love degraded in that manner. They both seem above the cheating path and I’m glad to see that Sorensen agrees on that point. And no cliffhangers either, the story wrapping completely, so well that I was suprised to learn there would be/is another sequel about them, not just Lila and Ethan spinoffs. Not that I’m not excited to read more of then, I just hope they don’t get put through too much more drama. They deserve a happily ever after.

Why can’t all NA authors write this well? Jessica Soresen has proved over and over that she is a master of this genre, making me love her characters and their stories even when I don’t initially like them. All aspects are perfect, making me feel the characters pain, making me curious about the past that caused whatever hangups they have in the present, and drawing me into perfectly steamy love scenes. Her characters are so deeply flawed, but lovable. The type of character you can’t help but sympathize with and root for. I eargerly await the chance to get ahold of her next novel. I can only hope Lila and Ethan’s tale is half as enthralling as Ella & Micha’s is! If you like contemporary romance, NA, or are just a fan of Jessica’s other works, definitely pick up this series. It doesn’t disappoint!

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Review for Playing Dirty (Stargazer #2) by Jennifer Echols

Playing Dirty by Jennifer Echols

TITLE: Playing Dirty
SERIES: Stargazer #2
AUTHOR: Jennifer Echols
PUBLICATION DATE: October 29, 2013
PUBLISHER: Pocket Books, A Division Of Simon & Schuster Inc
PAGES: 448 pages
SOURCE: Edelweiss
RATING: 3 bows

Sarah Seville screwed up royally in Rio with crazy rocker Nine Lives. Sure, she kept him concentrating long enough to record his album, but now he’s stuck in prison and when he gets out shit’s really going to hit the fan. To save her career, she takes on The Cheatin’ Hearts, a country group famous not only for their perverted lyrics, but also for their antics. This group is constantly starting fights and hitting the hospital for overdose’s. It’ll be a miracle if she can pull this off, but she’ll try anything to keep her mind off Nine Lives. The Cheatin’ Hearts have three golden rules to keep them together: no drugs, no sleeping with other band members, and no sleeping with record company spies. Quentin laid the rules out in the beginning and expects everyone to follow his lead. It’s kept the band together and successful for several years now and he isn’t willing to risk that, no matter how attracted to Sarah he is. But the longer she stays, the harder he has to fight his urge to seduce her and let all his walls down, a dangerous prospect indeed.

This is moderately better than it’s predecessor, but that isn’t saying much. It still falls desperately short when measured to Jennifer Echols other works. The best way to describe this novel is one word: DRAMA. The drama contained in just the four members of The Cheatin’ Hearts was enough to set me over the edge, then adding Sarah & Quentin’s tension-y relationship to it and I was just a bit miffed. I’m not a huge fan of drama. In fact, I like to keep it to a minimum, so you can image how I felt about all the subterfuge between the band, Sarah, and the media circus they create. The “dumb hick” act Quentin is so fond of had me screaming to just fucking stop. Seriously, it’s not attractive in the least and no, you’ll overly muscled body doesn’t compensate. I get you are physically attractive, but dumbing yourself down so the media will “like” you is about as dumb as girls who act brainless to get the guy. It’s infuriating.

What’s more is he keeps the act up throughout most of the novel, so by then end I feel like he and Sarah don’t know each other well enough to profess the feelings they claim to have. How can you love someone you don’t know? Sarah, by the way, is just as guilty. After her husband asked for a divorce, she had a massive makeover and has tried to match her new personality to it. But new Sarah and old Sarah are pretty different and it’s hard for me to reconcile the two when I’ve been in her head for half the novel, much less for Quentin who’s just been catching what she lets slip on occasion.

The rest of the cast is alternatively annoying or absent. Erin can’t seem to settle on whether she wants to be friendly or bitchy. Since the audience knows her and Quentin’s “relationship” is bullshit, it’s unclear why she plays that card. I mean, I know Sarah expects jealousy, but seriously, just pick a side and stay there. Same with Owen, who obviously hates Sarah intensely one moment and then is friendly the next. And they all blindly follow Quentin’s lead. You claim he’s genius level intelligent, but we rarely see him back it up because I don’t consider engineering the band’s publicity as a genius act. I consider it stupid. I get that it’s what got you the attention you needed to get a recording contract, but you got it so let the drama go!

The writing was mediocre at best and the plot felt highly predictable. ****SPOILER****Yes, Erin and Owen are sleeping together and of course Nine Lives is going to show up at an inopportune moment.****END SPOILER**** It almost felt like Echols recycled the end of Star Crossed, just changing the bare minimum of details so it would fit here.

It’s difficult to express my level of disappointment. This isn’t a bad read. It’s not great, but it’s tolerable and if almost anyone else had written it, I probably would have liked it more. But I know Echols is capable of more. She’s one of my favorite contemporary writers and to see her produce this hot mess makes me endlessly sad. Here’s hoping.

****Thank you to Pocket Books for providing me with an eARC via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review****

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Review for Resist (Breathe #2) by Sarah Crossan

Resist by Sarah Crossan

TITLE: Resist
SERIES: Breathe #2
AUTHOR: Sarah Crossan
PUBLICATION DATE: October 8, 2013
PUBLISHER: Greenwillow Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
PAGES: 400 pages
SOURCE: Edelweiss
RATING: 4 stars

Picking up right where Breathe left off, we follow Bea, Quinn, and Alina through the final stage of their journey. Quinn’s words started a full-fledged rebellion and now, it’s up to the trio to make sure thousands of innocent people don’t die in the cross-fire. The small band of RATS left after the decimation of the Grove start a journey to Sequoia, the only other place on the planet with oxygen, hoping it will be their salvation. But it’s definitely not all that they imagined and now they are left with a hard decision. Stay and try to make the best of Vanya’s insane world or go and fight for the pod, before it’s too late. One thing is certain: war is coming. The only question is which side will win.

What I really liked most about this novel was the massive amount of character growth. In the first novel, we get to see all three of the main characters step out of their comfort zones and change a bit. Here, we get to see them become all new people. Bea continues to get stronger and really fight for the cause. She starts pushing the rebellion forward and eventually comes up with a plan to help. Quinn grows a backbone and steps out of his typical Premium role. Alina’s change is a bit more subtle. She becomes so much more compassionate. It’s almost as if her and Bea rubbed off on each other enough to make them similar.

We also get a new character, Ronan, who’s faced with very difficult decisions. He’s a Special Forces member who, after the attack on the Grove, decides that he doesn’t want to fight and kill anymore. Too many innocent lives have already been taken and when Jude Caffrey offers him a way out, he has no choice but to take it. Except, it really leads in deeper into the middle of the battle, where he must choose sides and fight for what he believes in. He’s definitely not my favorite character, but I did enjoy seeing a new perspective.

What I didn’t like is it still felt love triangle-y because, though Bea shows no outward interest in Ronan, he’s lightly implied that something might happen between the two. I would have been beyond pissed if something had split Bea & Quinn apart. The plot felt a little predictable, with Sequoia being a bust and the way the war took place. I didn’t like a certain character’s death ****SPOILER****Alina.****END SPOILER**** The ending felt very rushed. They are fighting and they are fighting and then….book over. Then whole thing with Sequoia felt a little under developed. Maks states that there is more going on than meets the eye and it’s implied that it’s not all negative, so I’m dying to know what positive thing might have been lurking behind the scenes. I really wanted more of what was happening in Sequoia period. More on Vanya’s crazy theories and how she expected to keep her population going infinitely.

Overall, this really was a great read. It’s a bit slow to start, but definitely has more action than Breathe did. The ending isn’t everything I had hoped for, but it is an inspirational ending that leaves you feeling that things can always improve, if you are will to fight for it.

****Thank you to Greenwillow Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, for providing me with an eARC via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review****

Review for My Date From Hell (The Blooming Goddess Trilogy #2) by Tellulah Darling

My Date From Hell by Tellulah Darling

TITLE: My Date From Hell
SERIES: The Blooming Goddess Trilogy #2
AUTHOR: Tellulah Darling
PUBLICATION DATE: October 31, 2013
PAGES: 288 pages
SOURCE: From author
RATING: 5 stars

Sophie’s life is never going to get back to normal. After that fateful kiss from Kai that unlocked her true self (AKA Persephone) and battling a dragon, you think poor Soph could catch a break. Nope, not yet. Zeus and Hades are more determined than ever to find (and destroy) the ritual location, so Sophie needs Persephone’s memories more than anything. The only catch is to unlock those, she must go on a mission for Aphrodite to prevent Hermes from making Bethany a celebrity, all the while acting like she and Kai are on a romantic date. That’s right, Aphrodite thinks the pair should give it the old Greek try and date. Tons of chaos ensues and we’re left wondering, yet again, if Sophie can pull this off.

Sophie is just as snarky and sassy as in MEFH. Smart and very irrational when it comes to all things Kai, Sophie still has that kick-ass heroine vibe that I’ve come to adore. No damsel in distress to be found here. She actually saves Kai a time or two. And speaking of Kai……can I just say wow? I mean, I liked him before even though he was a jackass, but I LOVE him now. He reminds me a great deal of Daemon from Onyx, you know, when D was trying to win Katy. Kai really turns up the charm in this installment, trying to show Sophie that he really does care for her, and not just because she’s Persephone’s reincarnation. Seeing Kai’s sweet side really sealed the deal for me (and for Sophie, though she takes forever to admit it).

Then there is the rest of this ensemble cast. Hannah and Theo, plus a few new additions: Pierce (aka Cupid), Festos, Aphrodite, and Hermes. Hannah is still her normally geeky self, with one glitch: a major crush on Pierce. Watching Hannah try to balance science and attraction was epic. I love that there is an attractive geeky character. I love that Hannah is never portrayed and ugly or mousey, like most geeky or smart characters are. Theo is just as sarcastic and grumpy as ever. I loved Festos immediately. It’s obvious he and Sophie are kindred spirits, being so similar. Pierce I was initially on the fence about, but he won me over. I didn’t care for Aphrodite or Hermes, both seemed like selfish asshats.

I’m still battling with myself over the rating. 4 stars or 5 stars? Goodreads doesn’t allow half-star rating, so there is no viable way to compromise. Ultimately I’m going with 4 because of the major cliffhanger. If you thing the ending of My Ex From Hell was bad, well you were wrong. This is much, much worse. If the novel would have ended a little sooner, it would have been absolutely perfect, but they….he…she…

****SPOILER****It was PERFECT. Kai and Sophie finally admit their feelings and Sophie has recovered Persephone’s memories, though she hasn’t had time to sort through them yet, and then we learn that Felicia is really Demeter and she is the one who killed Persephone because Persephone was a back-stabbing bitch who was going to seize power and leave everyone else in the dust. Which would have been fine, we could live with that, but Kai takes the irrational route and blames Sophie for everything and runs off before saying she betrayed him. Felicia runs away and then Bethany FUCKING STABS HER. Hannah and Theo arrive to find Sophie bleeding out on the pavement and cue curtains. How can you leave me like that? HOW? Stupid Sophie, WHY DIDN’T YOU TELL KAI YOU LOVED HIM BEFORE YOUR MEETING? Things would have turned out alright and he wouldn’t have run off then. Hopefully. I NEED the next novel, like I need my next breath.****END SPOILER**** Let’s just say it doesn’t end the way we were all hoping for, K?

This novel was everything I was expecting and more. Sophie’s journey forces her to grow a bit and realize some hard truths. Darling’s writing style is just as believable and honest-feeling as her previous works. I am yet again floored by her ability to create such a realistic, grounded character with all the crazy tearing her world apart. Another accomplishment is the ability to write characters who are similar but still feel different. Sophie and Festos are so close in personality and all of characters show signs of Darling’s signature snarkiness, but they never felt like they were just carbon copies of the original character. They all have enough individuality to make them stand on their own.

She also has this amazing ability to write twists that I didn’t see coming. Call me naïve, but I didn’t see the ending of this coming, at all. It smacked me in the face as hard as it did Sophie and I cannot believe how that all came together. Sophie, with the people and the things, and just…fuck me, that was not what I was expecting. I know I was sincerely (and naively) hoping for a happy-ish ending to tide me over until the final installment and I knew that things wouldn’t go as smoothly as I was dreaming, but DAMN.

In all honesty, I really did love this. In spite of the appalling cliffhanger, it has everything that I need for a book to be shelved with the rest of my favorites. It has the clever dialogue we have come to expect from Tellulah Darling, with a plot that will have you sighing and keep you guessing until the last minute. The tag line from her website is so highly appropriate that it’s what I’ll leave you with: Sassy girls. Swoony boys. What could go wrong?

****Thank you to Tellulah Darling for providing me with a eARC in exchange for an honest review****

Review for The Lost Prince (The Iron Fey: Call of the Forgotten #1) by Julie Kagawa

The Lost Prince by Julie Kagawa

TITLE: The Lost Prince
SERIES: The Iron Fey: Call Of The Forgotten #1
AUTHOR: Julie Kagawa
PUBLICATION DATE: October 23, 2012
PUBLISHER: Harlequinn Teen
PAGES: 377 pages
SOURCE: Edelweiss
RATING: 5 stars

Ethan Chase has always been able to see the fey. What’s worse is that they know he can see them and take great pleasure in torturing him whenever possible. He does his best to ignore them and stay out of trouble, but then they start to disappear and he is forced back into the Iron Realm, seeking the help of his half sister, the Iron Queen. Ethan is determined to protect his family…and Kenzie St James, a nosy girl who refuses to let him alone. A girl that is getting too close for comfort that Ethan can only ignore for so long.

Let me just state for the record that I have not yet read any of the books in the Iron Fey series. I was under the impression that this was a new spinoff series and it wasn’t necessary. I stand by that assessment, though understanding some of the characters in the Iron Realm as well as that world itself may have been a little easier if I had. I have wanted to read them and that desire has only increased after reading this. Now that I have that out of the way, let me just say that I’m a little glad I read this one first because at least I know throughout all the expected angst of the Iron Fey series that Meghan will end up with Ash and I’ll be able to enjoy seeing Ethan as a little kid.

Ethan is a great leading man, with just a touch too much angsty and brooding, but with great reasons to be that way. Listening to him berate himself for being a dick to Kenzie while still giving her pissed off stares was priceless. You can’t help but feel sorry for the guy, with all the shit he gets blamed for that’s rarely his fault. Despite knowing better, he ends up getting involved in all manner of mayhem because he can’t seem to stop himself from saving the day. He does everything from save a kid from bullying to striving into a cavern filled with evil fairies just to save a guy he barely knows. That buried hero complex completely balances out most of the angst. Add that to the banter between him and Kenzie and you’ve got me hooked.

Kenzie, well I liked her instantly too. If I had to describe her in one word, it would be determined. Her overly cheery personality hides a fierce determination to accomplish her goals, whether Ethan likes it or not. I loved finally seeing a female character who didn’t back down from the broody male just because he said too. If you are hoping for a mousey shy heroine, look elsewhere because she’s definitely not here.

There was a plethora of other characters, including a talking cat that was like the love child between Cheshire Cat and the cat from Coraline who I really enjoyed. Then there was Kieran, who is a certain pairs child and that shocks the hell out of Ethan. My favorite side character though, was definitely Puck. Holy fuck, I LOVE HIM. I would read The Iron Fey series just for more of HIM! He’s got that attitude where he’s always smiling and flinging out one liners and saving the day. All of the side characters where enjoyable and memorable, but he was a special treat.

The writing was great, and the plot kept me interested. I read several reviews stating that they found the story rather boring, but I wholeheartedly disagree. I was enthralled once I got a decent way in and before that point I was still pretty interested to see where it was all going to lead. The Fey world Kagawa describes is fascinating and I am as captivated by it was Kenzie was. Speaking of Kenzie…****SPOILER****I KNEW SHE HAD CANCER. I saw coming pretty early on, when everyone was treating her slightly different. Of course she has cancer, because we couldn’t just let her be a normal teenage girl. X_X They better fucking find a damn cure and her and Ethan will live happily ever after or you will suffer my wrath!
****END SPOILER****Beyond that very spoilery blip, this has a pretty happy ending, with the majority of the story wrapping up nicely and only a few tolerable loose ends. I can’t wait to read the next one!

****Thank you to Harlequin Teen for providing me with an eARC via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review****