Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Review: Unteachable by Leah Raeder @LeahRaeder


Title: Unteachable

Author: Leah Raeder

Publication date: March 24th, 2014

ISBN: 9781476786414

Synopsis (according to Goodreads):
Maise O'Malley just turned eighteen, but she's felt like a grown-up her entire life. The summer before senior year, she has plans: get into a great film school, convince her mom to go into rehab, and absolutely do not, under any circumstances, screw up her own future.

But life has a way of throwing her plans into free-fall.

When Maise meets Evan at a carnival one night, their chemistry is immediate, intense, and short-lived. Which is exactly how she likes it: no strings. But afterward, she can't get Evan out of her head. He's taught her that a hookup can be something more. It can be an unexpected connection with someone who truly understands her. Someone who sees beyond her bravado to the scared but strong girl inside.

That someone turns out to be her new film class teacher, Mr. Evan Wilke.

Maise and Evan resolve to keep their hands off each other, but the attraction is too much to bear. Together, they're real and genuine; apart, they're just actors playing their parts for everyone else. And their masks are slipping. People start to notice. Rumors fly. When the truth comes to light in a shocking way, they may learn they were just playing parts for each other, too.

Smart, sexy, and provacative, Unteachable is about what happens when a love story goes off-script.

Review:
I received an e-copy of this book from the publishers on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

With Leah Raeder's second book, Black Iris, come out soon I decided that it was a little unfair of me to desire it when I had not even read the first book she wrote. Out of that guilt came the determination to try my hand at her writing before I started coveting her second piece of work. When I learned that this book was also about a relationship between a professor and his student, I was even more intrigued. I was worried that the controversial subject matter would hurt the overall story, but my curiosity was piqued none-the-less.

Maise sees herself as a lost cause. Her mother is a drug addict and her life is nothing special. She has no ambitions and no real friends. She merely exists from one day to the next. That all seems to change when she visits the local fair one night and comes face-to-face with a handsome older man who seems to spark something inside her that she never knew existed. She leaves him after there one-night stand thinking she would never see him again. Little did she know that she would see him sooner than she realized. It seems that Maise had just had sex with her new film class teacher.

Evan tries to resist Maise. He tries to keep her at arms length but something happened to him the same night that they met. He felt something for Maise that he had never expected to feel. Now the two of them must confront their feelings for each other and navigate a relationship in secret for fear of the consequences if they are found out. Unfortunately, secrets are never secrets for long and rumors are starting to circulate. Now Evan and Maise face a new problem: give up on each other or risk it all.

There are those books that you read and you think you can predict how the story will play out. After being a reader for so long, I tend to come to a conclusion of how the story will go in the very first chapters. I did the same with Unteachable. It's not a great thing to do when you are trying to approach a book with no expectations, but it's sometimes instinctual. The difference with this book and my expectations are night and day. Raeder is not afraid to push the envelope and touch on things that would make any close-minded person squirm. The characters were just so poetically perfect to me. Maise made me ache for the tough hand she was dealt. Evan was that storybook prince whose armor is a little tarnished but still will do anything to save the princess.

I loved that Raeder was not afraid to cross that line from fluff piece romance to bold literature. This book. This masterpiece is one of the best books I have read in years.

Be bold, followers of mine, and give Unteachable a read. You won't be disappointed. Besides, who doesn't find a romance between a student in a hot professor a bit enticing?


Available at:
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Thursday, February 5, 2015

Review: This is Falling by Ginger Scott @TheGingerScott


Title: This is Falling

Author: Ginger Scott

Series: Falling #1

Publication date: August 29th, 2014

ISBN: 9781310983993

Synopsis (according to Goodreads):
First, I had to remember how to breathe. Then, I had to learn how to survive. Two years, three months and sixteen days had passed since I was the Rowe Stanton from before, since tragedy stole my youth and my heart went along with it.

When I left for college, I put a thousand miles between my future and my past. I'd made a choice--I was going to cross back to the other side, to live with the living. I just didn't know how.

And then I met Nate Preeter.

An All-American baseball player, Nate wasn't supposed to notice a ghost-of-a-girl like me. But he did. He shouldn't want to know my name. But he did. And when he learned my secret and saw the scars it left behind, he was supposed to run. But he didn't.

My heart was dead, and I was never supposed to belong to anyone. But Nate Preeter had me feeling, and he made me want to be his. He showed me everything I was missing.

And then he showed me how to fall.

Review:
I received an e-copy of this book from the publishers on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Ginger Scott is one of those authors that you hear a lot about and see their books plastered all over the interwebs. I had heard glowing reviews of her books and even her as a person from fellow bloggers and readers alike. When looking through my reading list I was astonished to learn that I had not yet read any of her books. Being as I had a few for review, I decided to rectify this snafu and get down to reading some of her books. This is Falling, being the first in the series was, of course, the first up to bat.

Rowe is an introvert finally stepping out of her comfort zone. After a traumatic incident she has kept herself at home with her family, unable to move on. But when her parents started begging her to choose a college she chose one as far away from her home as she could get. She thought her parents would quickly veto the choice but instead they were more on-board than she imagined. And so, Rowe found herself completely ill at ease in a strange environment which held a number of triggers for her anxiety. The only person who seems able to calm her is the catcher for her college's baseball team, Nate. With him she feels like she can finally breathe and that the world is not as scary as she thought it was.

Nate was destroyed in a previous relationship and had decided to keep things casual for a while. That was until he met Rowe and started to feel that the long line of one night stands wasn't all it was cracked up to be. But Rowe is damaged and Nate must navigate the minefield that is her fear to find some way to make a relationship work when all Rowe wants to do is run.

I am not a baseball fan by any means but I find myself thinking in baseball analogies when it comes to this book. I have read a lot of new adult books recently with the troubled heroine overcoming her issues with the help of a good man. I thought this would be just another rendition of the same ole thing. I expected a swing and a miss.

But surprisingly it was a three-base hit instead. I thoroughly enjoyed the storyline and the characters. I found myself sympathizing with Rowe and rooting for Nate to have patience with her. It was nice to take a break from the chronic bad boys that seem to plague the new adult genre and meet a good natured man with a heart of gold.

This is Falling has all the brightness of a packed stadium and has definitely made me a fan (but not of pitchers. I'm a catcher type of woman now).


Available at:
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Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Review: Third Degree by Julie Cross


Title: Third Degree

Author: Julie Cross

Publication date: March 25th, 2014

ISBN: n/a

Synopsis (according to Goodreads):
Fans of Monica Murphy and Tammara Webber will savor this novel about coming of age in the heat of the moment from Julie Cross, the internationally bestselling author of the Tempest trilogy.

I used to be "Isabel Jenkins, child prodigy." As lame as that sounds, at least it was an identity. But now I'm not sure what I am. I just failed the most important exam of my life--the emotional readiness test required to get into a medical residency program--and it turned out my parents can't stand each other. Now I'm trying to figure out how to pick up the pieces of my life, shutting the books and majoring in being eighteen.

But so far, my roommate hates me and I'm not into the party scene. The only good thing about school has been getting to know my insanely hot RA. Marshall Collins makes me wonder about everything I missed while I was growing up too fast. Pretty soon we're hanging out constantly, but for the first time, I find myself wanting more than a no-strings-attached physical relationship. And the lesson I really need is one Marsh definitely can't teach me: love. Because I'm going to be alone forever if I don't learn fast.

Review:
I received an e-copy of this book from the publishers on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

One evening, I found myself in a sour place with a series I was reading (not for review, simply for pleasure). I was tired of the cliffhangers. I was tired of wondering how my characters faired and having to only get little snippets of their lives after I finished their installment to find out more about them. I was in need of a book that gave me all I needed in one single book. I needed a stand-alone. When scouring my options among my review books, this one jumped out at me. Hmm. Author I had not heard good or bad things about to which I could go into the reading experience completely blind with absolutely no expectations. Perfect. I dove in.

The story starts with our protagonist, a teenage doctor very reminiscent of Doogie Howser but more experienced with the opposite sex. Isabel is the best at what she does. She can diagnose a problem in a patient faster than anyone else and is almost never wrong. The problem is she has a hard time relating to her patients. Her bedside manner is appalling and she has just learned that she failed her emotional readiness exam that would place her in her dream position at Johns Hopkins. Left with no other choice but to wait to take the exam again, she enrolls in a university determined to go through some of the normal teenager milestones her employers believe she is lacking. It is there that she meets Marshall.

Marshall has his own issues but for some reason he can understand Isabel better than anyone else around her. He takes her under his wing and starts to show her the ropes. He guides her on how to handle social situations that cause her such distress. Along the way, as Marshall moves from helpful RA to something more, Isabel starts to consider him more than a friend and more than a possible one night stand. Marshall pushes past her defenses and causes her to feel things she had never felt before. But could her sudden emotional awakening become more of a hindrance than a help?

Isabel was hard to like, but I think she was meant to be that way. It is later revealed why she is the way she is, but until that moment I wanted to smack her one a few times. Marshall, to me, had the patiences of a saint. He more than made up for Isabel's abrasive characteristics. As much as I liked the characters and found the revelation at the end interesting, I had a hard time really deciding whether I was for this book or against it. The background (Isabel being a genius doctor but socially inept) was a little hard to swallow. I like stories that I can actually place myself in the role of the female protagonist and feel connections to the other characters. This one... I just couldn't. It left me a little lacking in my reading experience.

That by no means makes the story not worth reading. I do believe that the heart and soul was there within the pages, the bones of the story were just a little brittle.

Third Degree is story of how one can be the epitome of academia but still be naive to the world around them. Even geniuses don't always have all the answers... especially where love is concerned.


Available at:
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Monday, January 26, 2015

Review: Ten Tiny Breaths by K.A. Tucker @kathleenatucker


Title: Ten Tiny Breaths

Author: K.A. Tucker

Series: Ten Tiny Breaths #1

Publication date: February 12th, 2013

ISBN: 9781476740324

Synopsis (according to Goodreads):
Just breathe, Kacey. Ten tiny breaths. Seize them. Feel them. Love them.

Four years ago Kacey Cleary's life imploded when her car was hit by a drunk driver, killing her parents, boyfriend, and best friend. Still haunted by memories of being trapped inside, holding her boyfriend's lifeless hand and listening to her mother take her last breath, Kacey wants to leave her past behind. Armed with two bus tickets, twenty-year-old Kacey and her fifteen-year-old sister, Livie, escape Grand Rapids, Michigan, to start over in Miami. Struggling to make ends meet, Kacey needs to figure out how to get by. But Kacey's not worried. She can handle anything--anything but her mysterious neighbor in apartment 1D.

Trent Emerson has smoldering blue eyes, deep dimples, and he perfectly skates that irresistible line between nice guy and bad boy. Hardened by her tragic past, Kacey is determined to keep everyone at a distance, but their mutual attraction is undeniable and Trent is determined to find a way into Kacey's guarded heart--even if it means that an explosive secret could shatter both their worlds.

Review:
This was another of my first giveaway wins from a long time ago. I had also accumulated the next installments in the series for review, but I just never got around to reading any of them. That had to change. Especially since I had heard nothing but good things about this little gem and the author who wrote it. I decided to give it a go.

Kacey is completely closed off from every single person in her life aside from her baby sister. She refuses to let herself get close to people because she is sure that the minute she does, they will leave her in some fashion. She struggles with flashbacks of the tragic accident that she was the sole survivor in. She takes her sister away to Miami to escape odd relatives who seem to have ulterior motives for keeping the girls around. On her way she finds herself in situations where she is presented with two new relationships she hadn't thought she'd ever struggle with again: friendship and love. But the demons of her past are always there to threaten any shred of happiness Kacey may find in her new surroundings. With the help of the hunk-next-door can Kacey finally put an end to her anxiety issues and fear to find true happiness?

However, the hunk-next-door, Trent, has his own demons and his own reasons for wanting to get close to Kacey. He has secrets that if Kacey ever found out about, it could destroy her world entirely.

This story was one of the hardest I have ever had to read. Not because it was a bad plot or a bad story but because the main character went through so much. The pain Kacey felt every waking moment was palpable and dripped off the pages to make even my own chest ache for her. Kacey dealt with so much and it seemed every time she found a bit of happiness or forgot her problems for even a nanosecond, something happened to drag her back into her pits of despair and fear. I loved when Kacey went into her "bitch mode" where she got snarky and sarcastic. The other characters always seemed so put off by it and I am sure they saw it as her defense mechanism, but I almost wished to see more of that side of her.

I could tell something monumental would happen with Trent and I almost resented the further I got into the story because I feared the grand revelation. Avoiding spoilers, let me just say... it's a doozy. I alternated between hating Trent and loving his patience with Kacey. I have not had such a rollercoaster love affair with a book boyfriend in ages. It shifted from chapter to chapter. I hated him in chapter so-and-so but flip the page and I was swooning. I wonder if I should sent K.A. an angry letter for all the heart palpitations she inflicted on me!

Ten Tiny Breaths is a story that sends it's readers on an emotional upheaval of love, hate, and absolute despair when it ends.


Available at:
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Saturday, January 17, 2015

Review: Masquerade by Nyrae Dawn

Title: Masquerade

Author: Nyrae Dawn

Series: Games #3

Publication date: January 7th, 2014

ISBN: 9781455576333

Synopsis (according to Goodreads):
A biker. A tattoo artist. A love to last a lifetime.

Maddox Cross has always had to be tough. When his father went to jail for murder, the teenager took care of his sister and mother. Now on his own and working security at a night club, Maddox wants to become a tattoo artist--a dream that comes closer to reality when he falls for the hottest, most tatted woman he's ever seen. She's wild and beautiful, and Maddox will do anything to be with her.

Bee Malone came to town to open up her new tattoo parlor, Masquerade. Since being kidnapped as a young girl, Bee has had trouble getting close to anyone. But when she meets Maddox, she sees that under his hard biker's body is the sensitive soul of an artist. What started out as a sizzling one-night stand soon becomes so much more.

Bee wants Maddox to join her tattoo business, but letting him into her life means revealing all her most intimate secrets. And as the past begins to intertwine with her present, Bee fears their love may not be as permanent as their ink...

Review:
I received an e-copy of this book from the publishers on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

So, this book has been sitting on my TBR list for a long time. I figured after reading the first two books, what better way to finish off a series AND get one of my review books reviewed than to continue on with my Nyrae Dawn marathon. I didn't see much of Maddox in the first two books so... interest was peaked.

Maddox has demons of his own from his father ruining Adrian's life much the same as his baby sister Delaney does. The difference is that Maddox feels what happened was his fault. The brooding man of few words felt that he should have spoke up and that possibly if he did the entire situation with his family and Adrian's could have been fixed. He takes the burden upon his own shoulders for what happened and with that he doesn't allow himself to dream of much anymore. He turns to tattooing and bed hopping as a way of coping. Little did he know that one of his conquests would be the tattoo shop owner he hopes to apprentice for.

Bee also has a way of keeping people away. She never allows herself to feel any sort of closeness with anyone ever again. She felt close to her birth parents and they were taken away when she was kidnapped, then she allowed herself to care about her kidnappers and they, too, were taken away. There is no stability for Bee aside from her new tattoo shop, Masquerade. When Maddox enters her life she is set to keep him away. She doesn't ever see her bedmates again after that one night. But Maddox has talent. He could be good for business and she can see he desperately needs the chance. Reluctantly she takes him on but the more time they spend together the deeper their emotions become.

Two people who are not looking for any sort of commitment may not have any other choice.

Finally, a female protagonist I loved. I liked her even more than Maddox. She was quick witted and sassy. I love sassy female leads. She gives Maddox a challenge which is clearly what the boy needs to get his head out of his butt. The only problem was that the emotional turmoil they both had seemed a little diluted. Maddox feels guilty for not speaking up when something was wrong in his family and Bee, while loved by her kidnappers and birth family alike, can't seem to trust anyone? Eh, not really strong enough reasons to be as closed off as they both are... at least to me. If Bee's kidnappers had mistreated her or Maddox had had a bigger role in what his father did then maybe all their issues would have made a little more sense. This book was a case of the characters being flawless but the storyline being lackluster. It was unfortunate.

However, Masquerade was translucent in its depth of love between Maddox and Bee. I found myself wanting to read more about their present and less about their pasts.


Available at:
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Friday, January 16, 2015

Review: Façade by Nyrae Dawn @NyraeDawn

Title: Façade

Author: Nyrae Dawn

Series: Games #2

Publication date: September 24th, 2013

ISBN: 9781455576319

Synopsis (according to Goodreads):
Can love save them?

After her father commits a crime that shatters her family, eighteen-year-old Delaney Cross is tired of pretending everything is all right. Packing up her car, she sets out to find the people her father hurt. Her search leads her to places she's never been--and into the arms of Adrian Westfall.

To the outside world, Adrian is a sexy, charming ladies' man. But his playboy persona is just an act. Secretly his soul is tortured by a memory too painful to share. Only Delaney seems to see through his façade to the real man underneath. And for the first time in his life, Adrian feels he can begin to open up about his past.

Together, Adrian and Delaney share a passionate love they never expected to find. Yet both still harbor their own secrets. When the dark truth is finally revealed, will it bring them closer together--or tear them apart forever?

Review:
After reading the first book in the series and taking the journey with Colt and Cheyenne I was anxious to see how the womanizing Adrian found love. I didn't much care for him as a character when he was introduced in the first book but I still wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt.

Adrian is known for his parties. He is known as the guy who is chronically high and always down to have a good time. His house is known as the party house where people randomly show up and start to drink and sleep around without even getting his permission first. Why would they need it? That Adrian is a lie. Adrian gets high to mask the pain of losing someone near and dear to his heart. He finds himself in bed with random women in hopes of feeling good for even a second of his life. He allows the parties because the noise drowns out the voices in his head. Adrian is a sinking ship and he knows it. He doesn't know how to find his way back to reality so he wallows in his suffering. Until Delaney sneaks past his defenses and makes him feel things he had thought he would never feel again.

Delaney is an eternal optimist. She believes that she can right her father's wrongs if she is determined enough. Her mother hates her for how close Delaney was with her father before that tragic day when he was taken away from them. Her mother continues to harbor ill will toward her despite Delaney's attempts to make everything right. She hopes if she can apologize to Adrian for her father's role in his tragedy that everyone's lives can get better. But as she gets closer to Adrian she starts to wonder if telling him will solve anything. She doesn't know if she should risk the budding relationship the two are forming by revealing her awful truth.

Can Delaney's ever present optimism bring the downtrodden Adrian into the light once more or will she ruin everything and would the man even more?

I absolutely adored Delaney and Adrian's story. I didn't know how Delaney was ever going to tell Adrian what her father did after they started to find a connection between each other. I thought that once Delaney told her secret, Adrian would be gone. Now, of course, romance novels rarely ever end that way but I was worried. I knew if some guy's father was the source of all my heartache, I'd have a hard time not holding that against the guy I was interested in.

As I stated before, I really didn't care for Adrian when he was introduced in Charade. But I hoped that I would grow to like him as I got to know him a little better. My opinion of him did a complete 180. I found him to be the most charismatic male lead even with sexy, cocky Colt as his competition. Adrian was so wounded and destroyed I just wanted to wrap him in bubble wrap so he'd never hurt again.

Delaney's optimism was a little annoying at times. I don't know what my issue is with the female protagonists in this series. I don't outright hate them but there is always something about them that I find a little tedious. However, Delaney's peppy-ness didn't take away from my love of the story.

Façade is hands down one of the most harrowing love story I have read. My heart felt a little worn after reading it.


Available at:
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