Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Release Day Blitz: Duke of Sin by Elizabeth Hoyt

Welcome to the release day blitz for Duke of Sin by Elizabeth Hoyt! I am a huge fan of the Maiden Lane series, and this latest novel stole my heart. Read more about this amazing HR novel!

About the Book:

Duke of Sin by Elizabeth Hoyt
Book Ten of the Maiden Lane series
Publisher: Grand Central
Publication Date: May 31, 2016

***Warning: this is an adult book, and for the eyes of mature readers***

Summary (from Goodreads):


Devastatingly handsome. Vain. Unscrupulous. Valentine Napier, the Duke of Montgomery, is the man London whispers about in boudoirs and back alleys. A notorious rake and blackmailer, Montgomery has returned from exile, intent on seeking revenge on those who have wronged him. But what he finds in his own bedroom may lay waste to all his plans.


Born a bastard, housekeeper Bridget Crumb is clever, bold, and fiercely loyal. When her aristocratic mother becomes the target of extortion, Bridget joins the Duke of Montgomery's household to search for the incriminating evidence-and uncovers something far more dangerous.


Astonished by the deceptively prim-and surprisingly witty-domestic spy in his chambers, Montgomery is intrigued. And try as she might, Bridget can't resist the slyly charming duke. Now as the two begin their treacherous game of cat and mouse, they soon realize that they both have secrets-and neither may be as nefarious-or as innocent-as they appear . . . 

About the Author:

Elizabeth Hoyt is the New York Times bestselling author of over seventeen lush historical romances including the Maiden Lane series. Publishers Weekly has called her writing "mesmerizing." She also pens deliciously fun contemporary romances under the name Julia Harper. Elizabeth lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with three untrained dogs, a garden in constant need of weeding, and the long-suffering Mr. Hoyt.

The Excerpt:

“I was told you had need of me, Your Grace,” she reminded him, folding her hands at her waist to hide the trembling that had begun again. She’d been in demand before this position. Duchesses and lionesses of society had wanted her.

“So practical,” he mused, tilting his golden head back to gaze, presumably, at the gaudy sky-blue velvet canopy of his bed. She’d always thought it rather vulgar, actually. “I suppose that would be considered a good thing in a housekeeper.”

“It’s generally considered so, Your Grace.”

“And yet, I find it somewhat…”—he raised his naked arm straight up above his head and twirled his hand as he thought—“irksome.”

“I am sorry, Your Grace,” Bridget said as pleasantly as she could, which, sadly, was not very.

“Oh, don’t be,” the duke murmured silkily. “One can’t help one’s nature, no matter how irritating it is to others.”

His azure eyes suddenly dropped to pin her, hard and merciless, and she lost her breath as she fell into his predator’s stare. It was like looking into the eyes of something inhuman, almost otherworldly. Her chest ached as she stared at him, the air still locked within her, but at the same time the place between her legs ached as well. 

Then she inhaled, filling her lungs with sweet air, as he watched her still, his eyes half-lidded, and she felt an odd exhilaration, as if a gauntlet had been thrown down. As if they were adversaries, equal on the field.

Which was completely ridiculous.

Possibly she shouldn’t have indulged in that third cup of tea this morning.

“I wonder whom you work for, Mrs. Crumb?” he whispered.

“Why, for you, Your Grace,” she replied, holding his gaze.

He snorted.

She felt a bead of perspiration trail down her spine.

He strode, nude, to his desk, and, bending over it, afforded her a quite scandalous view of his muscular bottom. He seemed to have a dark mark of some kind on the left cheek. Good God, it looked like a tattoo. What—? “Why, Mrs. Crumb,” he drawled, and she snapped her gaze belatedly up to find that he’d turned back to her—damn it! “Were you ogling my arse?”
She opened her mouth and then wasn’t sure, exactly, what to say. Was he about to dismiss her or not? “I…I—”

“Ye-es?” He took one long stride toward her.

She was suddenly, overwhelmingly aware of what she’d until now successfully ignored: He. Was. Nude.

His shoulders were wide, his chest highlighted by pale-pink nipples drawn tight, with but a few curling golden hairs between. His torso narrowed in a perfect V to a slim waist and a shallow belly button. A thin line of slightly darker hair led to his genitals.

During his supposed absence Bridget had had plenty of time to study the life-size nude portrait of the duke hanging next to his bed. She’d long thought the dimensions of his manhood exaggerated.

They were not.

She hastily glanced up to find him standing far too close to her, a wicked smile playing about his mouth.

“Oh, Mrs. Crumb, such a look,” he murmured, his voice a deep purr, his bare chest brushing against her snowy white apron. “Why, I don’t know whether to guard my bollocks…”—his gaze dropped to her mouth—“or to kiss you.”

Discover the entire Maiden Lane series!





(Click on each cover for more information!)

Release Day Blitz and Giveaway: The Darkest Torment by Gena Showalter

Welcome to the release day blitz for The Darkest Torment by Gena Showalter! This in the twelfth book in the Lords of the Underworld series. Find out more, and enter the giveaway for the first eleven books in the series!

About the Book:

The Darkest Torment by Gena Showalter
Book Twelve of the Lords of the Underworld series
Publisher: Harlequin HQN
Publication Date: May 31, 2016

Official Summary:

New York Times bestselling author Gena Showalter returns with her most explosive Lords of the Underworld tale to date, about a fierce warrior on the brink of sanity who will stop at nothing to claim the exquisite human with the power to soothe the beast inside him...

Driven to his death by the demon of Distrust, Baden spent centuries in purgatory. Now he's back, but at what cost? Bound to the king of the underworld, an even darker force, he's unable to withstand the touch of another...and he's quickly devolving into a heartless assassin with an uncontrollable temper. Things only get worse when a mission goes awry and he finds himself saddled with a bride—just not his own. 

Famed dog trainer Katarina Joelle is forced to marry a monster to protect her loved ones. When she's taken hostage by the ruthless, beautiful Baden immediately after the ceremony, she's plunged into a war between two evils—with a protector more dangerous than the monsters he hunts. They are meant to be enemies, but neither can resist the passion burning between them...and all too soon the biggest threat is to her heart.

But as Baden slips deeper into the abyss, she'll have to teach him to love...or lose him forever.

Check out the series:

(Click on the above image to go to Goodreads.)

About the Author:

Gena Showalter is the New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of the spellbinding Lords of the Underworld and Angels of the Dark series, two young adult series--Everlife and the White Rabbit Chronicles--and the highly addictive Original Heartbreakers series.  In addition to being a National Reader's Choice and two time RITA nominee, her romance novels have appeared in Cosmopolitan (Red Hot Read) and Seventeen magazine, she's appeared on Nightline and been mentioned in Orange is the New Black--if you ask her about it, she'll talk for hours…hours!  Her books have been translated in multiple languages.

She’s hard at work on her next novel, a tale featuring an alpha male with a dark side and the strong woman who brings him to his knees. You can learn more about Gena, her menagerie of rescue dogs, and all her upcoming books at genashowalter.com or Facebook.com/genashowalterfan

The Excerpt:

Katarina wasn’t afraid of Baden. Not anymore.

He took a step to the side, intending to move around her. Oh, no. She flattened her hands on his shoulders, keeping him in place.

“I want to know what’s wrong with you.” She said. “Tell me.”

He snapped his teeth at her in a show of dominance. “You think you want to know my problem. You’re wrong.”

Her tone dry, she said, “I’m so glad you know my mind better than I do.”

“Very well. I need sex.” He threw the words at her as if they were weapons. “Badly.”

Whoa. Blindside!

Heart pounding, she jerked her hands away from him. “Sex...from me?”

“Yesss.” A hiss. “Only from you.”

Only. Amazing how one little word could send pleasure soaring through her, warming her. “You told me never to touch you.” Which she’d just done, she realized. My bad.

“I’ve changed my mind.” His gaze dropped, lingered on her lips.

Burning her... “But you and I...we’re a different species.” As if that mattered to her body. Gimme!

He took a step closer, invading her personal space.  “We’ll fit, I promise you.”

Tristo hrmenych! The raspy quality of his voice, all smoke and gravel...she shivered with longing. Must resist his allure.

But...but...why? Before she’d committed to Peter, she’d dated around, had made out in movie theaters, cars and on couches. She’d liked kissing and touching and “riding the belt buckle,” as her friends had called it. Then, after committing to Peter, she’d gifted him with her virginity. At first, he hadn’t known what to do with her—he’d been just as inexperienced—and she’d left each encounter disappointed. When finally she’d gathered the courage to tell him what she wanted, he’d satisfied her well.

She missed sex. But connection...intimacy...she thought she missed those more.

The dogs barked, jolting her from her thoughts. They’d cleaned their food bowls, and now wanted to play. She clasped Baden’s hand to lead him out of the kennel. He jerked away, severing contact.

One action. Tons of hurt.

“I’m allowed to touch you and you want to have sex with me, but you’re still disgusted by me.” She stomped outside the kennel, done with him. “Well, I’m leaving. Good riddance! Your do-what-I-say-or-else attitude was annoying, anyway.”

He darted in front of her, stopping her. Breath caught in her throat as sunlight streamed over him, paying his chiseled features absolute tribute, making his bronzed skin glimmer.

So beautiful. Too beautiful.

“I’m not disgusted by you. You need me. I’ve come to accept it,” he admitted, looking away from her. “But being skin-to-skin with another is painful for me. We’ll have to proceed carefully. And you’ll get over your annoyance.”

Another order!  She would show him the error of his ways.

The Giveaway:

Sweet Talk with the Sweet Sixteens: May 31st

Welcome to Week Twenty-Two of Sweet Talk with the Sweet Sixteens! To see more details about Sweet Talk as well as previous posts, see the introduction post. Thanks to Charlene (Bookish Whimsy), for designing the banner and button for Sweet Talk.

Today, I'm featuring the authors and books publishing during the week of May 31st!

The Questions:

1. Describe your debut novel in sixteen words.
2. Pitch your book! For fans of _____, _____ meets _____, etc.
3. What are you working on now – is it related to your debut novel?

The Authors:

Unfortunately, our lovely May 31st authors were extremely busy with pre-publication and publication day business! And that is quite okay. Happy pub day, folks!

The Books:


(Click on the cover to go to Goodreads!)

The Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Review: The Good Fight by Julianna Keyes

The Good Fight by Julianna Keyes
Book Three of the Time Served series
Publisher: Carina Press
Publication Date: July 25, 2016
Rating: 4 stars
Source: eARC from NetGalley

***Warning: this is an adult book, and for the eyes of mature readers***

Summary (from Goodreads):

I was born a fighter. You had to be, to survive in Camden. Lucky for me, I loved it. The thrill, the pain, the glory. Until one night things went too far and I almost lost my ticket out.

So I swore off fighting. Never again. No matter how much I wanted it.

I went to college. Got a degree. A job on Wall Street. Yet I still wasn't smart enough to stay away. So now I'm back. And it's just as bad as I remember.

Enter Dr. Susan Jones, superstar neurosurgeon. She's brilliant, she's sexy and she's a pain in my ass. I can't get enough and she's too busy for a relationship. She wants to hook up, get off, go home. She doesn't have time for a thug from Camden. But she keeps coming back.

This place brings out the worst in people. Every day it threatens the project I'm working on, the plans I'm making. Every day it drags me down just a little more, until the hands I vowed to keep clean start itching to get dirty.

If I don't start fighting for what I want, I'll wind up with nothing.

I didn't come back to Camden for nothing.

I came back to start something. And when people hurt the things I care about, the gloves come off.

What I Liked:

I am a huge fan of Julianna Keyes' books. I loved Time Served, In Her Defense, and Undecided, and The Good Fight did not disappoint me. The books in the Time Served series are all super steamy, scorching hot adult romance novels, and Undecided (currently a standalone) is a super steamy, scorching hot New Adult romance novel. The Good Fight follows Oscar Hall, a character we meet in Time Served

Oscar has been back in Camden for years, which makes no sense because people are usually trying to get out and stay out of Camden. He used to work in Wall Street, has a ton of money, and decided to move back where it all started. Oscar is an accountant by day, and he works out and sometimes fights at Oreo's gym in Camden. It's coincidence that brings Oscar to the hospital, where he meets Dr. Susan Jones. She intrigues him from the start, and he intrigues her. Susan is a bit robotic and mechanical, totally absorbed in her work and yet, somewhat cold and apathetic. But Oscar hasn't wanted someone this badly in a long time, and he doesn't back down from a challenge.

This book is written entirely from Oscar's first-person perspective! I was extremely excited when I realized this. I don't know why I didn't expect this, since Time Served and In Her Defense were both written in solely Rachel's and Caitlin's first-person perspective, respectively. Anyway, I really liked getting into Oscar's head, just Oscar, and not Susan. I'm not sure I would have found Susan very interesting, to be completely honest. Oscar, on the other hand, has always been very interesting.

I can't quite remember how I felt about Oscar in the previous books, but I adored him in this one. He's been struggling with himself, feeling unfulfilled and such. He's decided to buy a building in Camden and rebuild it into something positive for the dying community. He's also a hard-working account, and a good friend. He helps out everyone in any way. He seems rough on the edges, and maybe a little mysterious, but he's such a good guy.

We meet Susan in In Her Defense - she's Caitlin's sister. Susan is a top surgeon and workaholic. She's also a little detached, and has no empathy. She has an eleven-year-old daughter and she's finalizing her divorce, but it honestly seems like Susan doesn't care about anything. She's very robotic and wants to do things to be the best, like get an A in this or that. I totally get Oscar's frustrations with her. It's like she's not even human - completely devoid of feeling. 

And yet, the two of them together are fireworks and dynamite. Susan is blunt and bold and has no filter - probably because she really doesn't think about what she says. Susan says what she wants and expects to get what she wants, and she's met her match in Oscar, who isn't chasing after her. In the end, they each do a little bit of chasing. They both make mistakes and they both have to apologize.

So I liked the progress of their relationship. I didn't love Susan like I loved Rachel (in Time Served), and I think I even like Caitlin (In Her Defense) more than I liked Susan, but I really like Oscar and I liked seeing Oscar and Susan fit together. Oscar humbles Susan, and vice versa.

The chemistry between them is seriously on fire. I don't think this book was as hot as the other two books in the series, but still, very scorching. Keyes has a way of writing very different and very unique steamy scenes, unique and different between books, as well as unique and different from other authors' steamy scenes in general.

This book is all about Oscar and how he changes and handles certain situations, and then changes some more. Oscar has demons in his past that he has to deal with, but nothing that really dragged the story down and detracted from the story, the character growth, the romance. Susan has her own personal problems, and I liked seeing some life breathed into her.

Slight side note - the cameo from Dean (our hero in Time Served)! Love! That was such a sweet scene. No Caitlin/Eli cameo, unfortunately. Or Rachel, for that matter.

Overall, I was really happy with this book. Not a favorite in the series (hard to beat Time Served, to be honest), but probably my second favorite? It's a tie between this one and In Her Defense. If this is the end to the Time Served series, then I'm quite content!

What I Did Not Like:

There is nothing huge that I did not like, though there is one thing that is bothering me. I don't want to go into details for fear of spoiling things, but there is a point in the book in which there is a newspaper article and a miscommunication, and basically Oscar doesn't get the credit he rightfully deserves. There was no real resolution to this part of the plot. I expected this part of the story to circle back and reappear, or at least get resolved concretely. It never did. I wanted to see Oscar get his credit, and it never happens. This is a small complaint, in the grand scheme of the story, but it felt very important. Especially since this affected both Oscar and Susan.

Would I Recommend It:

If you've read any of Keyes' adult books, I would recommend this one! All of the books in the Time Served series are VERY different from Undecided, which is a much more lighthearted book (it's also New Adult). So, if you're not an adult romance reader, or if you've only read Undecided, don't go expecting something like Undecided. Keyes's adult romance novels are very raw, gritty, primal, intense, and very steamy. Like, thirteen out of ten flames kind of hot. I highly recommend this book (and series) if you enjoy hot hot hot adult romance novels! There is no love triangle and it's not erotica, so don't worry if you're not into those types of things.


4 stars. Another great story by Keyes! And this one was really unique to me, because it was written in the male's POV, which I found very intriguing and refreshing. No dual POV, no female POV. Like I said before, if this is the end of the series, then I am satisfied! I hope not though. Jade and Wyatt have me curious...

Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!

Review: A Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet

A Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet
Book One of the Kingmaker Chronicles
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: August 2, 2016
Rating: 5 stars
Source: eARC from NetGalley

***Warning: this is an adult book, and for the eyes of mature readers***

Summary (from Goodreads):

Catalia "Cat" Fisa is a powerful clairvoyant known as the Kingmaker. This smart-mouthed soothsayer has no interest in her powers and would much rather fly under the radar, far from the clutches of her homicidal mother. But when an ambitious warlord captures her, she may not have a choice…

Griffin is intent on bringing peace to his newly conquered realm in the magic-deprived south. When he discovers Cat is the Kingmaker, he abducts her. But Cat will do everything in her power to avoid her dangerous destiny and battle her captor at every turn. Although up for the battle, Griffin would prefer for Cat to help his people willingly, and he's ready to do whatever it takes to coax her…even if that means falling in love with her.

What I Liked:

OH MY GOODNESS HOW I LOVED THIS BOOK! I had a feeling I would enjoy it, but I really really liked it. This is EXACTLY my type of romance novel! Fantasy romance is definitely a favorite of mine, and I'm really excited that Sourcebooks Casablanca's first fantasy romance novel was a real hit for me.

Cat has been part of the circus for months, as a soothsayer. She's actually really powerful, able to discern lie from truth, to turn in invisible, and numerous other things, but she is hiding in the circus. Until one day, a warlord finds her, figures out what she is (the Kingmaker), and abducts her. Cat fights him at every turn, even if she's starting to feel some kinship towards the other three warriors with the warlord. Even if she's starting to feel the stirrings of powerful attraction between her and the warlord. Beta Sinta - or Griffin - may need her as the Kingmaker, but he isn't her enemy. Cat realizes that the Sintans are not as cruel as they seem, but Griffin is as stubborn as she is.

Gosh I loved this book. It's been so long since I've read a good fantasy romance. If you like this one, try The Winter King by C.L. Wilson. Or if you liked The Winter King, try this book. Both books have AMAZING hate-to-love romances, between two very powerful people.

The tone of this book is hilarious! The book is written in first-person, solely via Cat's perspective. Nope, we never get in Griffin's head. Cat's voice is so fun! She is funny, stubborn, spitfire-y, honest, and refreshing. She's extremely clever and strategic, and she's powerful. She wields her magic well.

Griffin is a warlord - specifically, Beta Sinta. Beta meaning second, and Sinta being where he is from. The Sintans have recently dominated lots of territory. So Griffin - Beta Sinta - is the second in commend, after his sister, Alpha Sinta. Griffin is equally as stubborn as Cat, equally as intelligent, very fierce and protective and SUCH an alpha. I wish I had my own Griffin. He's very dominant and likes being in control... too bad Cat is basically a female version of him. He is a fiiiiine specimen, that's for sure. I have a visual image of him in my head and holy guacamole! *fans self more*

They are seriously perfect together! Their relationship starts out really hostilely - as one would expect, since Griffin kidnaps Cat. He needs her to help his sister (Alpha Sinta), because the newly crowned Sinta royal family are not experienced in ruling. They used to be a warlord family. Cat and Griffin have so much animosity and tension between them! Cat is constantly spitting fire at him (figuratively speaking), and defying him, and punching him. Griffin is constantly ordering her around and keeping her close to him. And yet, both of them instinctively act to protect each other, in dangerous situations along the way to Sinta City. This "hate" thing and banter go on for more than half the book, which was SO fun. Hate-to-love romances are my favorite!

I can't remember when they share their first kiss but *fans self*. Whew! Griffin initiated that, and Cat turned invisible for several days after that kiss (she was embarrassed). There are so many subtly steamy scenes before any kissing happens, which is really well done by the author. There is lots of kissing in the second half of the book. The sex doesn't come until three-fourths of the book, maybe a little after, but the author definitely knows how to right some steamy scenes, and ramp up the intensity. So much tension!

I like how complex the authors makes the characters. Cat has a complicated history, one that Griffin is not fully aware of. Cat's mother is actually insanely and heartless. We don't get all the information about Cat's past all at once. I like how there is a slow reveal, gradually happening throughout the story. Everything is not revealed to Griffin by the end of the story, so I hope the author will address this in future books. 

This book is an awesome fantasy book! The world-building is so well-written, in my opinion. Initially, I thought it was set in a contemporary world with some fantasy elements, but nope. Purely fantasy world, totally created and very well crafted. There are Greek mythology references left and right, and there is a dragon!

Girl power is strong in this book. Cat is physically tough, but mentally and emotionally so as well. She isn't always emotionally tough - she has to work through some heavy stuff, especially before she lets Griffin in. I liked seeing Cat's progression in development. 

I can't imagine not having convinced anyone of my love for this book by now! I am so pleased with this story and I can't wait to read the next book. Initially I was concerned about how the ending felt incomplete, BUT I learned from the author herself that this series is NOT a companion series (which is typical of romance series), and will continue to follow Griffin and Cat over the next two books. While this book did not end with a cliffhanger, I do have questions and it looks like they will be answered in the two future books. Hurray!

What I Did Not Like:

Originally, when I wrote this review, I mentioned how the ending felt incomplete, because I was expecting a showdown between Cat and her mother, and between Cat and Griffin (when Griffin finds out certain things about Cat). But, the author said that the series will continue Cat and Griffin's story, so the ending is no longer a complaint of mine!

Would I Recommend It:

I HIGHLY recommend this book. If you read adult romance novels, do yourself a favor and do NOT miss this book. Do it for Griffin! Sexy warlord! The banter! The hate-to-love dreaminess! The conflict, the overarching plot, the strong characters. And how about that kickbutt cover? So much to love!


4.5 stars -> rounded up to 5 stars. This is easily a new favorite romance novel! If I compare it to The Winter King by C.L. Wilson, then you KNOW it must be good (I am so in love with The Winter King! And now, A Promise of Fire). I cannot wait to read the next book in this series!

Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Stacking the Shelves (#179)

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews, in which bloggers share the books and swag they've received in the past week!

So, what did I get in the week of Sunday, May 22nd to Saturday, May 28th?

(all links to Goodreads are provided!)

In the mail:

(My pictures are weirdly dark and blurry - I'm sorry for that!)

Unsolicited - thank you, S&S!

I won this from the publisher - thank you, Forever Romance!

I didn't know about this copy! Thank you to the publicist for the surprise. :)

Fun investigation swag ("bloody" passport holder, "dirt"-covered key, fingerprints)

EEP! WOAH! Thank you, HMH and BHM! This is a really great surprise!

Thank you so so so much, Maryssa! This was from a trade. She is awesome!

From NetGalley:

YAY! Thank you, Harlequin TEEN. =)

This past Wednesday, I started working (recall the internship excitement!). I like things so far and I've learned a lot of engineering design aspects in just three days. I'm really thankful for this long weekend though - somehow, I've been going to work from 8:00 to 4:30! I haven't woken up at 6:30 AM every morning since high school. o_o So far so good!

Friday, May 27, 2016

Review: Another Little Piece by Kate Karyus Quinn

Another Little Piece by Kate Karyus Quinn
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: June 11, 2013
Rating: 4 stars
Source: Copy won from a giveaway

Summary (from Goodreads):

On a cool autumn night, Annaliese Rose Gordon stumbled out of the woods and into a high school party. She was screaming. Drenched in blood. Then she vanished.

A year later, Annaliese is found wandering down a road hundreds of miles away. She doesn't know who she is. She doesn't know how she got there. She only knows one thing: She is not the real Annaliese Rose Gordon.

Now Annaliese is haunted by strange visions and broken memories. Memories of a reckless, desperate wish . . . a bloody razor . . . and the faces of other girls who disappeared. Piece by piece, Annaliese's fractured memories come together to reveal a violent, endless cycle that she will never escape—unless she can unlock the twisted secrets of her past.

What I Liked:

First, I would like to apologize to the author, because I won this book in one of her giveaways around the time of the publication of the book. This was just about three years ago. No one is required to review or even read the books they win in giveaways, but I still feel a little bad knowing that I won the giveaway and read it three years later, while someone else could have won and might have read it immediately. But it is what it is! I liked the book (which is actually pretty surprising!).

This is my May Pili-Pushed read! To see any of my Pili-Pushed reads, see the "Pili-Pushed" tag at the bottom of my blog. Also, me winning the author's giveaway in no way influenced my opinion of the story. I liked it because it was great!

I honestly would not even know where to begin when trying to describe this novel. This books starts with Annaliese making her way over to a girl by a trailer. Annaliese has no recollection of where she is, or was. As it would turn out, Annaliese is the missing girl on Dateline, who was missing for a year. A year ago, Annaliese walked out of a forest covered in blood and screaming, and then she vanished. A year later, Annaliese is back, but with no memory. Annaliese does not seem like Annaliese though. She must rely on her the little memories that come back to slowly piece together what really happened a year ago, and why she's back.

What a strange book! And incredibly creepy. The first couple of passages were bewildering. I couldn't get a good feel of what was happening, but I was hooked. 

This book is deceptively contemporary, and paranormal, and horror-ish. It's heavily paranormal, though I can't really say why without going into spoiler-y things. It's somewhat horror-y, or maybe that's just me and my scaredy cat self. The book is CREEPY. When you find out why Annaliese isn't exactly Annaliese, and what she's been up to... *shivers*

Despite this creepy stuff, I liked Annaliese (I'm going to call her Anna from now on). Anna isn't a kickbutt fighter like we see in so many YA novels. She's quiet and contemplative, and she has her quirks. She also has no recollection of anything, so she's a clean slate. But she's still a teenage girl. She doesn't remember anything, and this frustrates her parents, which frustrates Anna. She feels trapped and smothered, especially by people she doesn't know.

We meet several peers of Anna's fairly quickly. Eric, who is flat-out creepy. Logan, who shoulders some guilt and blame relating to what happened to Anna (not his fault though). Dex, the next-door neighbor who knows a lot more than he wants to know, who is quiet and understanding. Gwen, who was Anna's best friend. Kayla, who is mean.

There is a little romance in this book! I found it sweet and charming. At first it seemed to have caught on very quickly, but I think there was lust first and then the emotional response. Which I'm fine with. I like the pair (Anna and someone else...). No love triangle!

I don't want to say anymore about this book, for fear of ruining surprises. The author weaves in twist and turn and surprise with ease. We don't get to know everything up front, but I love how the author reveals information slowly but sensibly.

So, overall, I liked this book! I see that there are lots of mixed reviews for this book, but I'm glad I liked it. It was creepy and haunting - two things I generally don't go for - but definitely intriguing and it had me hooked. And the ending was weird! A little open-ended, but not really. It wrapped up pretty well. A very good job by the author!

What I Did Not Like:

I can't think of anything specific! I liked this book but didn't love it, so it's getting four stars (and not five stars). It was a good read!

Would I Recommend It:

If you like some creepy fiction, I definitely recommend this book! It's not really scary (unless you're me and are afraid of everything and anything remotely scary), but it has horror-ish aspects woven into the story. The paranormal is both very present and barely there. If you like a good suspense-type novel to read (it's not a mystery book though), this is a good one!


4 stars. I'm glad I tried this book! I had the copy for three years without picking it up. Thank you, Pili, for pushing me in the direction of this one!

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Thursday, May 26, 2016

Review: Defending Taylor by Miranda Kenneally

Defending Taylor by Miranda Kenneally
Book Seven of the Hundred Oaks series
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Publication Date: July 5, 2016
Rating: 3 stars
Source: eARC from NetGalley

Summary (from Goodreads):

Captain of the soccer team, president of the Debate Club, contender for valedictorian: Taylor’s always pushed herself to be perfect. After all, that’s what is expected of a senator’s daughter. But one impulsive decision—one lie to cover for her boyfriend—and Taylor’s kicked out of private school. Everything she’s worked so hard for is gone, and now she’s starting over at Hundred Oaks High.

Soccer has always been Taylor’s escape from the pressures of school and family, but it’s hard to fit in and play on a team that used to be her rival. The only person who seems to understand all that she’s going through is her older brother’s best friend, Ezra. Taylor’s had a crush on him for as long as she can remember. But it’s hard to trust after having been betrayed. Will Taylor repeat her past mistakes or can she score a fresh start?

What I Liked:

Hmm. I'm not entirely sure why this book didn't all work for me, but it didn't. Maybe I was expecting so much more from Kenneally - this is my first book of hers that I've read, and I had crazy high expectations. I've seen so many blogging peers rave about her books, so I was hoping to be able to do the same. Overall I enjoyed this book, but I don't think I can give it more than 3.5 stars.

Taylor was kicked out of her fancy private school for having Adderall in her possession - but the pills weren't hers. They were her boyfriend's pills (he's now an ex), but she covered for him because he is a poor scholarship kid who needs a clean sheet, and she's a senator's daughter with a perfect record and model student grades/participation. But St. Andrew's kicks her out, and she is now attending Hundred Oaks. She tries to fit in, but even soccer is not the same. The team blindly follows the captain, Nicole, who goes out of her way to make Taylor miserable. The only person that Taylor connects with is Ezra, her older brother's best friend, a boy whom Taylor used to be in love with, when they were younger. But involvement with a boy isn't what Taylor needs right now - or is it?

Kenneally captures teens really well, in my opinion. Taylor is an overachiever, with perfect grades, a ton of participation in extracurricular activities, a star on the soccer team. She puts a lot of pressure on herself, to graduate from high school, study business in Yale, and join the family firm when she graduates. I could relate to Taylor on academic levels - I'm not stranger to that kind of pressure, though I'm not a rich senator's daughter. Not all of us can hide under daddy's name, and not all of us have parents who can call in favors at universities, and such. Taylor has it made, has a ton of privileges, and she wastes it.

In the next section of my review, you'll see me complain about Taylor's decisions, but I see why Kenneally chose this story. Taylor must learn how to do things without her father's name influencing things. Her father won't put in a good word with Yale (his alma mater) for her. She's no longer at St. Andrew's, so she has to work even harder at a public, easier school, to keep up the high standards she was upholding at St. Andrews. Taylor has to grow up a lot, and do things more on her own. I liked seeing this, because she needed the dose of reality.

I really liked Ezra. He comes from a similar background as Taylor - rich parents, privilege, great schooling. He is a freshman at Cornell, but he's currently back in town, taking a leave of absence from Cornell. He works at a construction company and has his own apartment, much to his parents' disgust. Ezra is taking charge of his life and figuring out what he wants - which isn't an academic life at Cornell, not at the moment. I like how mature Ezra seems, especially compared to Taylor (at first). Ezra is sweet and considerate. 

There is history between Taylor and Ezra. He's her brother's best friend. She's loved him for forever, and we find out that he has loved HER for forever. He missed her Sweet Sixteen party, and Taylor never finds out why for years (until later in this story), so that's why they stopped talking. It was awkward at first, watching these two reconnect. But then they become friends again, and then more.

Cute romance! I do like the romance a lot. I can see why everyone swoons over Kenneally's books, in terms of the romance. Ezra is a sweetie and Taylor goes after what she wants. It doesn't take long for both of these two to realize that they both want each other. I like that Kenneally makes intimacy something very important in this book.

Overall, I do like this book. I had issues with it (which I'll discuss), but I did like it. I'm not sure I want to go back and read any of Kenneally's other books, but I may keep an eye out for books by her in the future.

What I Did Not Like:

The whole premise of this book is ridiculous. I'm sorry, but I couldn't get past it. Taylor covers for Ben (her then-boyfriend) by saying that the Adderall pills were hers, when she is found with them (she was sleeping outside on a blanket at the time, and Ben had gone to the bathroom). Then she covers for Ben, because 1) he's poor and needs the scholarship and can't get kicked out because he needs the opportunity at St. Andrew's and 2) she was hoping her father's name would be enough to bail her out and get her a slap on the wrist at most.

But she covers for Ben, and she gets kicked out, and it's all over the news. See, it's election season, and the good senator is up for reelection. And Taylor's stunt has his numbers in favor dropping. Honestly, this move is both selfless and selfish. Taylor chooses Ben over her family in this moment. She's doing it for somewhat noble reasons, but you can tell that she is being incredibly stupid, by covering for him.

I couldn't get past this. It bothered me throughout the entire book. She could have gone to jail! She's a minor found with possession of drugs. NO ONE is worth covering for, when it comes to drugs. I mean, maybe my perspective is different because my family is incredibly poor, and we've never been able to take anything for granted, so covering for someone so that they won't get in trouble but we might? Nope, that wouldn't happen. It's lying, it's dishonest, and it costs us. 

Another complaint - we never get to see some sort of conclusion or resolution in terms of Taylor and the Hundred Oaks captain, Nicole. Nicole is a terrible person, constantly trying to make Taylor's life miserable (probably to get Taylor to quit the team). Nicole isn't even a good soccer player! But anyway, this part of the story kind of just fizzles out after a while. It's there, but Nicole's presence disappears towards the end. Same with the idiot coach. I wanted to see some sort of resolution there, but all we got was Taylor's father swooping in to save the day for Taylor. Hmm...

There was something else but I can't remember and didn't note it, so I will stop here.

Would I Recommend It:

I have a feeling that my complaints are limited to me and me alone, so I think I'd probably recommend this book, for YA contemporary fans. This book is not totally light and fluffy, and deals with some tough issues. I didn't like Taylor covering for the boyfriend to begin with, so it held back my liking of the book. BUT, I think Kenneally fans will be just fine with this one.


3.5 stars -> rounded down to 3 stars. I don't mind that I read this book and didn't completely love it - I do like it and I'm glad I read it. I'm just not as in love with Kenneally's books like everyone else? Perhaps I should read a different one to test this hypothesis. Fluff, please!

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