Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Revelry by Kandi Steiner

                                              ⭐⭐⭐⭐ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Wren Ballard is trying to find herself.

She never expected to be divorced at twenty-seven, but now that the court date has passed, it’s official. The paperwork is final. Her feelings on it aren’t.

Spending the summer in a small mountain town outside Seattle is exactly what she needs. The peaceful scenery is a given, the cat with the croaky meow is a surprise, but the real kicker? A broody neighbor with nice arms, a strange reputation, and absolutely no interest in her.

Anderson Black is perfectly fine being lost.

He doesn’t care about the town’s new resident — he’s too busy fighting his own demons. But when he’s brought face to face with Wren, he can see her still-fresh wounds from a mile away. What he doesn’t see coming is his need to know who put them there — or his desperation to mend them.

Sometimes getting lost is the way to find yourself. Sometimes healing only adds a new scar. And sometimes the last place you expected to be is exactly where you find home.


I had just grabbed my oversized hat and slipped my sunglasses on when I spotted Anderson walking up the drive with a large trash bag slung over his shoulder. He wore a simple, black V-neck and distressed jeans, an outfit way too dark and hot for the heat. A light sheen of sweat gathered on his neck as he made his way toward my cabin, his eyes hidden behind all-black sunglasses.

"Change your mind?" I asked, not even fighting the grin on my face as I walked outside and leaned against the banister.

Anderson squinted up at me, his boots heavy as they hit each stair. "About?"

"Tubing?" I asked. That was why he was here, right?

"Oh." He shook his head as he hit the top stair, shrugging the bag off his shoulders to hold it by the neck in one fist. "No, I have somewhere to be..." His voice trailed off, and even through the tinted shades of his glasses I felt his eyes on my chest. I'd strapped on my favorite boho print bathing suit and paired it with a dainty gold chain that wrapped around my neck once before dipping between my chest and crossing over my ribs.

He sniffed, holding the bag out toward me. "I just came to drop these off. My clothes. Well, the ones that could probably use a little TLC."

My eyes lit up and I reached for the bag, but Anderson snatched it back, brows shooting up into his forehead.

"No frills, Wren."

I threw my hands up in surrender. "I promise."

He smirked, just slightly, and handed the bag over, tucking his hands in his front pockets.

"Are you sure you don't want to come?" I asked, peering into the bag at my project before setting it just inside the cabin and locking the door behind me.

"I can't," he said, lips pressed together. He was tense, the muscles on his forearms tight as he glanced around at pretty much everything but me.

I opened my mouth to ask why but was cut off by the sound of a truck flying into my drive, tires sliding against the gravel.

Tucker was in the driver's seat with Davie in the passenger. Sarah and Yvette sat in the back, laughing with their hands up as the truck skidded to a stop. They were both sprawled out on a pile of tubes, wearing bathing suit tops and tiny shorts.

All of their faces froze when they saw Anderson.

"Hey, you ready, Wren?" Tucker asked warily, his eyes moving from where Anderson stood in front of me, to me, and back again.

"Yeah, one sec!" I called back.

I turned to Anderson, but his eyes were hard on Tucker, jaw ticking under his skin. When he faced me once more, an anchor fell from my throat into the pit of my stomach, immobilizing me completely. Because even though I 'd tried to convince myself I was wrong, I recognized the look in his eyes.


And when his nose flared and he took one big step toward me, our chests brushing, his hand reaching out to rest almost imperceptibly on my hip, the anchor in my stomach exploded into flames, burning a desire so fierce I inhaled a toxic breath and didn't let it go.

"Be careful, okay?" His eyes locked on mine just before he leaned in and swiftly kissed my cheek.

He turned on his heel and jogged down the stairs and past the truck. Sarah called his name, but he didn't acknowledge her, just kept his gaze forward until he'd disappeared from view.

And then everyone looked at me.

*I received an arc in exchange for an honest review*

I wasn't really sure what to expect when I started reading this book because I haven't read a lot of books where the heroine is divorced. I had read Weightless before and really enjoyed it so I had a feeling that this book wouldn't let me down. I have to say that Revelry didn't let me down.

When we meet both Wren and Anderson they are both in pretty bad places emotionally. Wren is coming off of the heels of being divorced and Anderson is not really focused on living his life and instead is existing day to day. They can recognize the pain that the other carries and I believe that this is what draws them to each other. They are both searching for meaning and understanding and I believe that the find those things in each other. 

I really appreciated the word of the day at the beginning of each chapter. It was a creative way to title the chapters as well as let the reader know what the chapter was about or what was to come. I also thought that the name of the book was inspired. I couldn't grasp why a book that started out so melancholy would have the title Revelry but it made much more since later on. 

I enjoyed both of the main characters and even a few of the secondary characters even though we don't learn very much about them. I have to say that I liked Anderson more so because his personality didn't seem as forced as Wren's personality. I'm not sure if that was the author's intention but it may have been because she is trying to not change even though she is still grieving the loss of her marriage. People tend to change and grow as they go through trials and losses in their lives. Even so, it turned me off to Wren a bit because I felt at times she was trying to hard to be her "old self". 

I really liked this book! I feel that Kandi Steiner doesn't sugar coat the issues that she has her characters deal with and is honest about what happens in relationships. I especially appreciated that in this book! The characters may have found each other when they needed help facing their issues and learning to face their new realities but that doesn't mean that their relationship will be perfect. Timing and learning to deal with your own issues are also important when wanting to have a relationship with someone. 

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Tortured by Nicole Williams

AP new - synopsis.jpg
When he left for a twelve-month deployment, she knew it would feel like forever before they saw each other again. She didn’t realize how right she was. 

When Lance Corporal Brecken Connolly gets taken as a POW, Camryn hopes for the best but steels herself for the worst. In the end, steel was what she needed to survive when he didn’t. She moves on the only way she knows how—gilding herself in more steel. 

Years go by. 
She builds a new life. 
She leaves the old one behind.

Until one day, she sees the face of a ghost on the news. Brecken seems to have risen from the dead, but she knows she can’t perform the same miracle for herself. While Brecken was held in a torture camp for the past five years, she’s been trapped in her own kind of prison. One she can't be saved from.

The man she mourned comes back to join the living, but the girl he wanted to spend his life with isn’t the same woman he comes back for. Brecken isn’t the same person either. The past five years have changed them both. While he’s determined to put the pieces back together, she’s resolved to let hers rot where they shattered. 

Broken or not, Brecken wants her back. He’ll do anything to achieve that. Even if it means going against the warden of Camryn’s personal prison—her husband.

  “It’s been six years. Everything’s changed. I have. You have.” My eyes lifted. “Why? Why are you trying to win me back?”

He exhaled, his lips parting. “I’m going to win you back.”
When his hand slid around the bend of my waist, winding behind my back, I jerked. His touch was different tonight, hungry, determined. My head clouded, blocking out reason or letting it surface to the top, one or the other.
“I married him,” I whispered even as my hand found his chest.
“But you belong to me.”
My eyes closed as he bowed me against him. I wasn’t sure how two bodies that had been as broken as ours could be so strong when joined. “How do you know?”
“I can see it in your eyes. Every time you look at me.” His other hand lifted to my chin, tipping it until our eyes connected. His brow rose slowly, like I was proving his point right that very moment.
“That’s a confident statement.” My voice shook, but my body felt steady. Unwavering.
“It’s the truth.”
My chest was moving so hard, it brushed his with every breath. What was I doing? Where had I found myself? The man holding me had died only to be resurrected six years later. It was too late, but it wasn’t over.
No matter what, Brecken Connolly and I would never be over.
“Twenty-six days,” I said slowly. “That’s all I have to give you. That’s all I have to give. Four weeks. Once he’s back, you know the way it has to be.”
His face broke, but his hold didn’t budge. “It’s not enough.”
My fingers curled into his shirt, looking for some way to hold on to him. “I know.”
His other arm suddenly looped around me and he lifted me off the ground, his grip going around my backside when my legs tied around him. “But a fucking eternity wouldn’t be enough either, so it’ll just have to do.”
He carried me through the sand and up the stairs of the cabin, then he propped me against the wall so he could open the screen door. Something slipped out of my mouth when he flexed his hips into mine.
“Told you it wasn’t a morning issue,” he whispered in my ear, but I could hear the smile in his voice. “Just a Camryn one.”
He made the same motion with his hips, applying a little more friction this time, causing a louder sound to echo from my lungs.
Opening the screen door as silently as he could, he carried me inside.
“You can set me down, you know?” I whispered.
“I know,” he said, his arms tying tighter. Once all of the lights were off, the cabin closed up for the night, he padded down the hall.
“You know where you’re going?”
His head nodded beside mine. “I’ve always known.”
My hands went behind his neck. His skin was warm and familiar. “And where’s that?”
He exhaled against my skin as he closed the bedroom door. “Toward you.”
He set me down once he’d untied my legs from around his waist, and he took a few steps back. He stared at me for a moment then reached for the lamp on the dresser.
“What are you doing?” I asked.
“Turning on the lights.”
I watched him flip on another. “Why?”
“Because I want to see you. Because I want to watch your face as I move inside you. Because I want to see your skin flush when I make you come.” He flipped on one more light, then all of his attention turned to me. “Because I want to see everything.”
My heart took off as I imagined being intimate with him with every light in the room on. My body wasn’t the same one he’d left. It had carried a burden; it bore the scars of a shattered soul and a broken body. “I don’t want you to see me. Not like that. In the dark, you can imagine the way I was before.”
When I reached for the closest lamp to switch it off, he stopped me. “I don’t want to imagine.” His hand curled around mine, guiding it away from the lamp. “I want the real thing. I want the real you.”
“You’ve seen my body. You know what I look like beneath all of this.” I motioned at the fresh clothes hanging off of me, covering me from my wrists to my ankles to my neck.
“When I look at you, I see beauty and strength, and the one person in the world who gives me a reason to live and a reason to die.” He drew me to him, his face creased in lines of concentration. “That’s what I see when I look at you.”

                                                 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ out of⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐stars

ARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review

She's done it again, folks! I have liked every book I have read from Nicole Williams and I am wondering is she is even capable of writing an awful book! Tortured was different from the books that I have read from Nicole so far but I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised. 

The plot of the book caught my attention before I even started reading it. I have always been interested in POWs and the kind of scars that can leave on a person. I imagine being in the military is hard enough on a person as evidenced by some of my family members that have served. I can't imagine being a POW and having to endure the torture mentioned in the book. 

My absolute favorite thing about this book were the parallels that were drawn between Brecken's experience with being a POW and Camryn's own brand of hell. I don't want to spoil anything for people who haven't read this book so I won't mention what Camryn's situation involves. I thought that the parallels were brilliant! The thought process behind this impressed me. It wasn't something that I had ever thought about in that particular light before. I think that each person has gone through something where they feel trapped and want to break out. 

The characters jump off the page. They feel so real and they are beautifully flawed in similar and also unique ways. Brecken and Camryn were both incredibly brave over the course of the book and I admired them for it. I loved how Brecken was able to show Camryn that it was okay to be vulnerable and that his love for her was unconditional. 

There was something that bothered me about the book. I couldn't wrap me head around why Camryn made some of the choices that she did. People grieve in different ways and being under duress can't help matters. I suppose she could have panicked which caused her to make decisions that she later regretted. I don't really know but it caused me to deduct a star. I didn't understand what made Camryn get married in the first place and keep the secret that she did from everyone. It kind of threw everything out of whack for me but I still LOVED the book! Tortured is a must read! 

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

The Mother Road by Meghan Quinn

                                                  🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 out of 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟stars

Never in a million years would I have pictured myself as an axe-wielding, dragon lady, chopping up multi-colored flannel shirts into my very own plaid mulch. But here I am, chopping away my frustrations.

It all started when my brother, Paul, convinced me to go on one last family road trip across the Mother Road with him and my dad.. Just like old times, right? Wrong. What Paul fails to mention is his best man, Porter, will be joining us, who just so happens to be my childhood crush and the man who broke my heart four years ago.

What is supposed to be a fun, family bonding experience across Route 66 turns into a war of pranks, awkward moments and bathrooms full of dirty flannel shirts and day old beard clippings. Paul’s know-it-all attitude and Porter’s devilish charm brings me to the brink of my sanity on my seven day trek across the United States with three bearded men in a small 1980’s RV.

I cannot praise this book enough! I started off thinking that this book sounded really good but being afraid that it would be like the other romantic comedy books that I have read in the past. To be honest, I thought that I hated the genre because none of the books that I read in that genre were ever good in my opinion. 

Meghan Quinn's book The Mother Road proved me wrong!!! I loved this book from start to finish. She really paints a picture with her words. I felt like I was on the road trip with the characters taking part in the hijenks and hilarity that ensued. I have to say that no other book has ever made me laugh out loud the way that this book did! I literally had tears of joy streaming down my face while reading it. I made my husband stop what he was doing just so I could read parts of the book to him. I barely able to read without laughing but he got the gist and laughed with me too. 

I have never felt so uplifted when reading a book. I think that it was not only the comedy but also the relationships between the main characters in the book. Each person was quite a character, pun intended! Marley was such a sweetheart but also feisty when she was pushed too far. Her brother Paul made me laugh so many times with his girly-manness as well as the facts that he told everyone that would not necessarily be socially acceptable to talk about with anyone other than family. Their dad Bernie was caring and enjoyable in his own way of razzing his son and shouting out presidents' names when he got angry. And what can I say about Porter?! He held my heart in the palm of his hand. He was such a gentle soul and loved those around him fiercely. I feel like I knew each of the characters and loved each of their individual personalities. I don't think that I have read a book where the secondary characters jump off the page quite as much as The Mother Road. I wanted to hear from Bernie and Paul as much if not more than Marley and Porter. 

I also feel that it is important to mention that even though this book was filled with humor, the plot was not sacrificed. I loved that at the heart of the story it was about the importance of and love within a family, dealing with loss, believing in yourself, and loving without restraint. 

Monday, April 3, 2017

Vicious (Sinners of Saint) by L.J. Shen

                                                     ⭐⭐⭐ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐stars


They say love and hate are the same feelings experienced under different circumstances, and it’s true. 
The man who comes to me in my dreams also haunts me in my nightmares. 
He is a brilliant lawyer. 
A skilled criminal. 
A beautiful liar. 
A bully and a savior, a monster and a lover. 
Ten years ago, he made me run away from the small town where we lived. Now, he came for me in New York, and he isn’t leaving until he takes me with him. 


She is a starving artist. 
Pretty and evasive like cherry blossom. 
Ten years ago, she barged into my life unannounced and turned everything upside down. 
She paid the price. 
Emilia LeBlanc is completely off-limits, my best friend’s ex-girlfriend. The woman who knows my darkest secret, and the daughter of the cheap Help we hired to take care of our estate. 
That should deter me from chasing her, but it doesn’t. 
So she hates me. Big fucking deal. 
She better get used to me.

I'm not really sure what the main character saw in Vicious. To be honest, I was hoping she would end up with anyone else during the course of the book. I didn't see anything redeemable about him. He did monstrous things throughout the book and didn't even seem to care about the consequences of his actions. All he cared about was himself. He didn't care that he was obviously hurting Emilia because he wanted her for himself. It was like Emilia had Stockholm syndrome without ever being kidnapped.

 The book was well written and the flow of it was good but if this was supposed to be romance it just didn't do it for me. I couldn't understand how Emilia would let Vicious treat her the way that he did and apologize to him for making him upset. Who cares about him!?! I know that horrible things happened to him but that doesn't mean that he is allowed to treat everyone around him like garbage! He didn't even give a good explanation for why he treated Emilia the way that he did. When that revelation came, I couldn't help but ask myself if the author was kidding or not. 

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Anti-Stepbrother by Tijan

                                                       ⭐⭐ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐stars

He told me to 'settle, girl.' 
He asked if 'something was wrong with me?' 
He said I was an ‘easy target.’ 
That was within minutes when I first met Caden Banks. 
I labeled him an *sshole, but he was more than that. Arrogant. Smug. Alpha. 

He was also to-die-for gorgeous, and my stepbrother’s fraternity brother. 

Okay, yes I was a little naive, a tad bit socially awkward, and the smallest amount of stalker-ish, but if Caden Banks thought he could tell me what to do, he had another thing coming. 

I came to college with daydreams about being with my stepbrother, but what if I fell for the anti-stepbrother instead?

There was quite a bit of hype surrounding this book so I decided to give it a read. I wish that I would have spent my time reading something that I would have enjoyed more. I know that I am in the minority with this book so hopefully I don't get too much hate for this review. 

Anti-Stepbrother started off interesting enough. We are introduced to Summer who followed her stepbrother to college  because she is in love with him. She has a run in with his fraternity brother whom she is attracted to as well. This continues on with relationships growing, falling apart, and changing. I think that if the book would have continued to center on the relationship dynamics between Summer, Caden, and Kevin I would have enjoyed it more and it would have received a higher rating from me. 

Eventually, I just got tired of Summer's whining.  Add to that the fact that issues within families in the story as well as with main characters that were not even hinted at became the focus later in the book. I hate it when authors do this! If a character is going to have a trauma or trial to deal with in the book make it known early on. I'm sorry but you cannot just spring an issue on a reader. It throws off the flow of the story and can make things confusing and hard to read.