Thursday, May 29, 2014

Review: The Collector by Victoria Scott @VictoriaScottYA

Title: The Collector

Author: Victoria Scott

Series: Dante Walker #1

Publication date: April 2nd, 2013

ISBN: 9781620612422

Synopsis (according to Goodreads):
He makes good girls... bad.

Dante Walker is flippin’ awesome, and he knows it. His good looks, killer charm, and stellar confidence have made him one of hell’s best—a soul collector. His job is simple: weed through humanity and label those round rears with a big red good or bad stamp. Old Saint Nick gets the good guys, and he gets the fun ones. Bag-and-tag.

Sealing souls is nothing personal. Dante’s an equal-opportunity collector and doesn't want it any other way. But he’ll have to adjust, because Boss Man has given him a new assignment:

Collect Charlie Cooper’s soul within ten days.

Dante doesn't know why Boss Man wants Charlie, nor does he care. This assignment means only one thing to him, and that’s a permanent ticket out of hell. But after Dante meets the quirky Nerd Alert chick he’s come to collect, he realizes this assignment will test his abilities as a collector... and uncover emotions deeply buried.

Review:
I recently received the third book in the series for review and figured, if I was going to read the third book in a series not made to be read independently that I needed to read the first few books as well. So, I went to the library and grabbed myself a copy of the first book.

Dante is an egotistical, smartass, with an odd job. His job is to tag souls when they are naughty until they reach their quota. Once that happens he is mean to collect the soul and take it down to Boss Man who lives wayyy down below, if you catch my drift. As a promotion becomes available for Dante to lead the collectors and find a permanent place above ground on Earth he is stoked. But there is one catch. He must collect Charlie Cooper's soul in just ten days time. It seems like it would be a piece of cake but when he meets innocent and angelic Charlie, it is apparent this would not be anything like a cake walk.

Charlie is the queen of the nerds. She is far from attractive, prefers volunteering to partying, and seems to be the butt of every joke at her school. Dante couldn't be more annoyed with this assignment and how hard it is to get innocent little Charlie to sin. Eventually, Dante is given a contract that promises Charlie's soul to him once she makes enough wishes to fill up her sin quota. Slowly, Charlie starts wishing to be all the things she never was. And Dante, who should be happy to see Charlie change, finds himself wishing for the old Charlie back.

Charlie seems to be on Dante's boss's radar for a reason. Dante must choose between following his orders or raging against them and trying to free Charlie in the ultimate story of good vs. evil.

Not many books are written through a male's perspective, at least not through the entire length of the story. That was an interesting change to get a male's view on situations. The book confronts some harsh subjects like bullying, physical appearance, and also the battle between good and evil. You would think with so much talk of Satan and God that the book would seem a bit overly religious. It wasn't. It was the perfect amount. There were moments when I really disliked Dante, but of course that was the author's intention. Dante is one of those characters that you love to hate in the beginning.

I found The Collector to be a fun YA read that confronts the trials and tribulations of remaining good with a snarky, sexy protagonist leading one astray.

Available at:
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Sunday, May 25, 2014

Blog Tour with Except + Teasers + Giveaway: Synchrony by Cindy Ray Hale @lolasblogtours @CindyRayHale



Synchrony by Cindy Ray Hale
Series: Destiny #2
Publication date: April 8th, 2014

Synopsis (according to Goodreads):
When her parents discover she’s been sneaking out with Isaac Robinson, the forbidden Baptist boy, Mormon girl Destiny Clark decides it’s time to keep their relationship quiet. As their relationship moves to shakier ground, Destiny discovers that Isaac has a terrible secret, and she is left completely shattered.

The moment Destiny feels all hope is lost, Preston Nelson, her longtime church friend and Isaac's bitter rival, arrives like a beacon of light. It isn't long before two separate disasters strike for Preston and Destiny's best friend, Hannah. As Destiny helps them through their issues, she discovers that sometimes the best way to forget about your own problems is to help a friend in need.

Just as her heart begins to mend and her friendship with Preston begins to heat up, Isaac walks back into her life, threatening to rekindle the feelings she’d hoped to bury forever. Will Destiny and Preston find the synchrony they so desperately need, or will she find a way to forgive Isaac and return to his outstretched arms?


Available at:
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Excerpt
My scattered emotions continuously wove themselves around each other chaotically, growing from a few errant threats of thought into a tangled mess, snagging tighter and tighter until I was ready to explode.

I began wailing hysterically, and Preston grabbed me by the shoulders, pulled me back, and said, "Destiny, stop." But I couldn't. The tears just kept coming. Living without Isaac was like being held underwater and being told to breathe. I would take water into my lungs, and it would burn. And eventually everything would grow dimmer until it become back.

Preston shook my shoulders, jarring me from my despair. "Look at me, Destiny." I cracked open my eyes and peered into his trustworthy green eyes. They were full of concern. "He's not worth your tears. Do you hear me?"

I stared back at him. Not worth my tears? Did he have any clue what Isaac really meant to me?

"Don't let him hurt you worse than he already has. It's going to be hard for a long time, but you're going to survive this."

"How can you possibly know that?" What did he know about getting his heart ripped out? He'd never even had a girlfriend.

A corner of Preston's mouth quirked up. "Because the Destiny Clark I know is a fighter."






Rest of the Series


Destiny by Cindy Ray Hale (Destiny #1) - Goodreads / Amazon / B&N / Kobo

About the Author:
Cindy Ray Hale lives in a little slice of wooded heaven near Atlanta, Georgia with her husband and children. She spends way too much time following up-and-coming musicians on YouTube and dreams of joining their ranks one day. She’s a bit of a health food nut and can’t live without her daily green smoothies. She tries to stay sane as she juggles writing with four kids, staying active on social media, and keeping up her book blog at http://cinnamoncindy.blogspot.com/. In addition to writing and self-publishing two Young Adult Contemporary novels, she has also written articles for "New Era" magazine and The American Preppers Network.

For more information on The Destiny Trilogy and Cindy’s upcoming books visit http://destinybycindyhale.blogspot.com/ or follow @CindyRayHale on Twitter.


  • A $25 Amazon Gift Card (INTL), and a Destiny Swag Pack which includes: a signed copy of Destiny, a signed copy of Synchrony, a Destiny bookmark, a Destiny magnet, a Destiny keychain and a Synchrony keychain
  • An ecopy of My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century by Rachel Harris and a swag pack
  • A Camp Boyfriend swag pack by JK Rock
  • An ecopy of Definitely, Maybe in Love by Ophelia London
a Rafflecopter giveaway


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Sunday, May 18, 2014

Review: Shadow Bound by Erin Kellison

Title: Shadow Bound

Author: Erin Kellison

Series: Shadow #1

Publication date: June 29th, 2010

ISBN: 9780505528292

Synopsis (according to Goodreads):
Death... Some people will do anything to avoid it. Even trade their immortal souls for endless existence.

Wraiths... Secretly, inexorably, they are infiltrating our world, sucking the essence out of unsuspecting victims with their hideous parody of a kiss.

Segue... Adam Thorne founded the Institute to study and destroy his monster of a brother, but the key to its success is held in the pale, slender hand of a woman on the run. There is something hauntingly different about Talia O'Brien, her unknowing sensuality, her uncanny way of slipping into Shadow.

Twilight... This is the place between life and what comes after--a dark forest of fantasy, filled with beauty, peril, mystery. And Talia is about to open the door.

Review:
I received the second book for review and in order to read that one, I needed to first dive into the first book in the series. I have not read anything Fae related in a long time so it was great to get into that world again with a new and exciting author. The world created by Erin Kellison seems to be a totally unique take on Faes and the strive for immortality in lieu of the threat of death.

Talia never knew her parents. Her mother died after giving birth and her father was never around. Talia had learned to live with it, but when the origin of her father starts to play a role in the dark and dangerous men tailing her every move, she starts to wonder who she is and why so many people want to get their hands on her. She vacates her life and goes into hiding for months only to be found by the handsome Adam Thorne when she seems to have needed him the most. Can Adam help Talia understand who she is and why her life is anything but ordinary?

Adam is tracking Talia not to protect her, but to find answers in how to destroy the monster his brother has become. Adam is desperate and Talia and her knowledge of the Shadowman seem to be the only leads he has. But once Adam meets Talia he founds he desire more than just answers from the mysterious beauty.

Talia and Adam are caught in the clutches of the battle between good and evil. It is up to Talia with her unusual powers and Adam with his unique knowledge of the supernatural to save the world and stop the Wraith war. All the while the two also must battle their growing feelings for each other.

As far as paranormal romance goes, I found this book to be middle of the road for me. I found the romance aspects of the story to be almost forced and unnatural. The rest of the book was fantasy gold. It was a different take on the supernatural and how to ties into death and immortality. If not for the so-so romance, I think this book could have been masterful. The love scenes seemed to be a bit painful to watch. There was no swooning for me. I think that if the author would have written the book as more of an urban fantasy, it would have been even better.

Talia was not a very powerful heroine. She was actually pretty foolish a lot of the time. It was hard to watch her forge her way along her destined past and even harder to watch her struggle with the romance between her and Adam. Where Talia was too weak, Adam seemed too strong. I wanted to see a softer side of Adam and I never really did. Even when Talia and he were whispering sweet nothings to each other, I still felt he was too abrasive. The two protagonists were just a little mismatched.

Despite the issues I had with the book, I will still read the sequel and continue the series, hoping that the next set of characters are a bit more believable in the romance department.

Available at:
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Thursday, May 15, 2014

Review: Made in Nashville by Mandy Baggot

Title: Made in Nashville

Author: Mandy Baggot

Publication date: February 6th, 2014

ISBN: 9780007591916

Synopsis (according to Goodreads):
An on-stage attack left Honor Blackwood with more scars than just the one on her face. It's been ten years since she left her spot as Nashville's brightest country music star. Is now the time to return? And is she brave enough to do it?

Country rebel and rock star, Jared 'Jed' Marshall is hot property on the Tennessee music scene in more ways than one. He's wild, he's sexy and everybody wants a piece of him. But when he sets his sights on Honor, is it pure attraction or just distraction on his mind?

Honor's record label sign the ex-boyfriend that dumped her and suddenly going back to her old life is harder than she thought. Can she get a new contract? Will she get to perform at the Marlon Festival? Or will Dan Steele destroy everything?

When a secret from the past becomes public knowledge it's no longer just about the music. Are all the people in her life lying to her to get what they want? And who is really behind the anonymous gifts she keeps getting sent?

Join the country scene to find out!

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

It is no surprise that a girl, such as me, raised in the south would find a contemporary book written about country music intriguing. I have started to notice a spike in rock star books and have drank the kool-aid. I find myself loving rocker romances and all their gritty drama that comes along with them. What was unique about this book was that instead of being rock 'n roll as most of the rocker romances seem to be, this was about country music. Southern men are often seen as gentlemen in literature. I was curious to see if this held true in the world created by Mandy Baggot.

Honor has issues. She has several, in fact. A little over a decade ago she was attacked on stage by a maniac and was left with a Z-shaped scar marring her face. Since that event, Honor has been in hiding. She dropped from the music scene and started working at a music store instead. She has no desire to go back into the studio, but when her adviser approaches her with a deal she is hard-pressed to refuse, she has to consider overcoming her fears and getting back into the swing of things. What Honor didn't expect was a hunky country superstar approaching her with yet another deal. Accompany him on his tour and he will not take no for an answer. Honor has to decide what she wants to do with her career and whether she wants to get back into the music that she fell in love with so many years ago.

Jared doesn't want any sort of romantic entanglement right now. He just wants to star in his first countrywide tour and find an act to accompany him on it. When he hears Honor's voice for the first time he is transfixed and has to have her on his tour. What he didn't expect was that he would find the tormented singer so attractive. Jared struggles to fight his feelings for Honor while trying to convince her to join him on tour. He also must tango with his dark past and keep it well hidden from Honor and the world.

When Honor's ex-boyfriend becomes a part of her record label, Honor wants out of her record contract and away from the man who broke her heart. Can Jared be the savior she needs or will he be yet another man who does nothing but lie to her?

I don't know what has been going on with my reading material but I have found the last two authors to be very repetative in their writing. Whereas the last was the repeat of 'chortle', this one was the constant reference to Vince Gill. I am not sure if that was intentional to hammer home the fact that the protagonists are involved in the country music scene or whether the author just REALLY likes Vince Gill. It was another instance where I really wanted to turn the reading into a drinking game. Mention Vince Gill, take a shot.

Other than that, the story was fairly well written. There were points where I grimaced and there were moments when I actually laughed out loud (usual for me). I found Jared's chaste ways to be very unrealistic since he was a big time country singer and I found Honor's fear being overcome so easily as to dismiss seemingly maleficent scenarios as coincidences. If one is afraid of their own shadow then they jump when something dark and mysterious starts to happen in their lives. It's just not something that is easily gotten over.

All in all, I liked some of the book, but it wasn't as good as I had hoped it would have been. It was a bit shaky, but I can't say I hated it.

Available at:
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Sunday, May 11, 2014

Review: Fierce by Clarissa Wild

Title: Fierce

Author: Clarissa Wild

Series: Fierce #1

Publication date: January 27th, 2014

ISBN: 9781494957612

Synopsis (according to Goodreads):
Nerdy girl Autumn Blakewood is the prime example of a goody two-shoes. She studies every night, is never late for class, and always follows the rules. She has never felt the need to step out of her comfort zone. That is, until she meets Hunter.

Hunter Bane is a cocky, confident bad-boy, who's nothing but trouble. He's a dangerous distraction to everyone around him. Sexy and strong, Hunter enjoys the swooning effect he has on women. Especially those who aren't used to attention, like Autumn.

Autumn finds it hard not to give into Hunter's advances, even though it all seems like a game to him. Trying to understand him is impossible, because he shrouds himself in mystery. What she doesn't know is that Hunter has more baggage than anyone should have to carry. When she discovers he's in an illegal frat club to save the one person that matters to him, Autumn realizes this could mean the end of her undeniable connection to him. Even their lives are at risk.

But it's too late to turn back now ...

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

Why did I choose to read this book? Two words. Cover. Appeal. Who can honestly look at this cover and say 'nah, not today'? I was curious about Clarissa Wild's writing since I had not read anything by her as of yet. I figured while I am exploring new authors, why not try this New Adult read out and see what I think. On a side note, the downfall of e-books is you can't close the book and admire the cover without losing your place. It's unfortunate in the case of this book.

Autumn is your typical nerd girl. She doesn't normally go out and have fun because there is studying to do. Her parents are not well off so the fact that they saved every penny they could to send her to college just makes her that much more adamant to do her best. She has never had a hard time focusing on schoolwork before. That is, before Hunter. He comes into her life with his smug smirks and stormy gray eyes and completely unsettles her. Autumn finds herself doing things she never would have thought she'd do. But Hunter has secrets that Autumn is dying to get to the root of at any cost. The boy that intrigues her so much is a mystery she longs to unravel.

Hunter has secrets all right and they all seem to center around his brother. He is involved in something nefarious and he just wants to do what he has to do to survive, but Autumn is a road block he wasn't prepared for. Hunter tries to push her away. He tries to tell her he is no good for her, but the sweet bookworm doesn't seem to believe him. Hunter has had a life of being seen as a bad seed, but Autumn seems to see him as much more.

Can Autumn find out what is going on with Hunter and help him find his way out of his troubles? Or will she simply be another smug conquest of Hunter's?

When I first started reading the book, I longed to love it. I wanted so badly to find a book about a nerd who finds love with a hunky bad boy. But, it just wasn't there for me. The writing was a little lackluster and the story just didn't jibe well. It spent most of it's time relaying how scared and emotional Autumn was every single time she thought about Hunter, saw Hunter, touched Hunter... it got tedious and I found myself rolling my eyes a lot of the time. I wanted to fall in love with the characters but they just didn't feel real to me. They didn't suck me in like other authors have been able to do.

Also, there was a gross overuse of the word 'chortle' and 'fazed'. I ended up more focused on shaking my head and grumbling over another use of either of these words than I was on getting engaged in the story. In the case of 'chortle', it got so bad that now, if I see the word I internally grimace. It's a weird word to begin with but having it uttered almost ever ten pages made the word painful within the confines of my mind.

One last pet peeve I found in the book was the fact that the author seemed to gloss over the word 'lesbian' but had absolutely no problem saying words like 'pussy'. If the homosexuality was such an uneasy topic that the correct term can't be uttered, then why include it at all?

I really wanted to like this book. I was DYING to love this book so I could buy a physical copy for my shelf of hunktastic cover models, but it wasn't there for me. It was just not written to the level I would have liked and the characters were not developed as thoroughly as they should have been.

Available at:
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Thursday, May 8, 2014

Review: Defy by Sara B. Larson @SaraBLarson

Title: Defy

Author: Sara B. Larson

Series: Defy #1

Publication date: January 7th, 2014

ISBN: 9780545597586

Synopsis (according to Goodreads):
A lush and gorgeously written debut, packed with action, intrigue, and heart-racing romance.

Alexa Hollen is a fighter. Forced to disguise herself as a boy and serve in the king's army, Alex uses her quick wit and fierce sword-fighting skills to earn a spot on the elite prince's guard. But when a powerful sorcerer sneaks into the palace in the dead of night, even Alex, who is virtually unbeatable, can't prevent him from abducting her, her fellow guard and friend Rylan, and Prince Damian, taking them through the treacherous wilds of the jungle and deep into enemy territory.

The longer Alex is held captive with both Rylan and the prince, the more she realizes that she is not the only one who has been keeping dangerous secrets. And suddenly, after her own secret is revealed, Alex finds herself confronted with two men vying for her heart: the safe and steady Rylan, who has always cared for her, and the dark, intriguing Damian. With hidden foes lurking around every corner, is Alex strong enough to save herself and the kingdom she's sworn to protect?

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

I have found myself on a debut author kick recently and am trying to branch out and get to know different authors' writing styles. There are so many different facets to them and there are good and bad writers (a lot more of the latter when you attach the word 'debut' to their title). Sara B. Larson is a name I heard a lot about after her book Defy came out. I had gotten the e-book for review but with how large my pile is it seemed to have escaped my review schedule. Of course, I had to rectify this and the medieval fantasy vibe of the book intrigued me to no end.

Alexa, the female protagonist of the story, has had a raw deal her whole life. She has had to pretend to be a boy in order to escape an evil dictator of a king's breeding houses. In these breeding houses girls who have matured enough to procreate are used and abused by the king's soldiers in hopes of creating more and more troops for his army. Alexa's twin brother, upon watching their parents burn to death, decides in flash to make Alexa into Alex, his mirror image by cutting her long hair and putting her in boys clothing.

Alex, determined to survive adapts quickly. She even exceeds expectations by becoming one of the best swordsmen of the Prince's royal guard. Her duty is to protect the haughty Prince Damian from harm, however, when an attack is made on the Prince's life, Alex risks exposing herself to protect her honor and her charge. It is only after she, another guard, Rylan, and Prince Damian are captured that she learns that Rylan's affections may not be as brotherly as she first thought and the Prince's fleeting softening may not simply be because of a trying situation. She finds herself caught in the middle of two men she longs to trust but fears she never will. Can Alex protect herself from discovery, free herself and her men, and find a way to help her kingdom thrive?

Alex is a wonder of a woman. I could not imagine having to watch every move I make or every word I say to remove all feminine quality from them. I couldn't fathom having to live a lie for years just to avoid being raped and tormented my entire existence. Alex is a crazy strong heroine who I found incredibly likable. There were a few characters that I was supposed to like that I just couldn't. One was namely Damian. He just struck me as a weasel of a man with nothing but manipulation in his personality. Rylan seemed the more true at heart and the better match for Alex as she navigated the tough waters of her capture and internal strife.

The love triangle hurts me a little. It truly does. If I were a guy and I was feeling a little something-something for my boss or soldier buddy beside me, I'd be a little skeeved. I'd start wondering if I may be a little gay. Nothing really wrong with that, but... I'd question it, oh, I'd question it. In this book... not so much with the questioning. Odd. To avoid spoilers I will just tell you that you will find out in the book WHY that is and it just leads to further disappointment really. If the book had lacked the romantic aspects of the story, it would have been a fundamentally greater book.

Defy is a classic gender-bender bred and nurtured in a medieval world full of evil sorcerers, ruthless kings, and the pursuit of freedom and honor.

Available at:
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