ARC Review: Complete Me (Stark Trilogy #3) by J. Kenner

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Title:  Complete Me
Author: J Kenner
Publisher/Year: Random House Publishing Group 7/30/13
Length:  320 pages
Series: Stark Trilogy #3

Overview

Our desire runs deep. But our secrets cut close.

Beautiful, strong, and commanding, Damien Stark fills a void in me that no other man can touch. His fierce cravings push me beyond the brink of bliss—and unleash a wild passion that utterly consumes us both.

Yet beneath his need for dominance, he carries the wounds of a painful past. Haunted by a legacy of dark secrets and broken trust, he seeks release in our shared ecstasy, the  heat between us burning stronger each day.

Our attraction is undeniable, our obsession inevitable. Yet not even Damien can run from his ghosts, or shield us from the dangers yet to come.

My Thoughts

you guys have no idea how excited i was to come across this ARC since i wasn’t sure that i’d be able to survive the wait until the end of July for this finale of the trilogy.  Let me tell you – you will NOT be disappointed.

What we get here is the resolution to quite a bit, and while you are pretty certain how things will go, J Kenner does an amazing job bringing this story to life in a way that doesn’t make us want to flip through the pages too quickly.

When we left of in Claim Me, Nikki had flown to Germany to be at Damian’s side while he stands trial for the murder of his old tennis coach.  At the tail end of book 2, Damian finally says those words to Nikki that she so wanted~ ‘I Love You’ and that puts Nikki on cloud nine.

What we know that we can always expect from hot steamy novels like this is that it’s never going to be that easy.  We know that Damian tends to push people away when he’s trying to protect himself and others, and the fear here is that the trial is going to take it’s toll on him.  I think that our fear here is that he’ll be convicted and go to jail – leaving Nikki alone to face the world, he’ll get off but only by testifying about what he went through, meaning this his past will come out in public or something completely unexpected.  I don’t know which could be worse though.

I don’t want to give away too much, but there’s something to be said for sure about an author who knows that we know what the outcomes are going to be in certain situations and gets to the point quickly so that we can pick up another plot line.  That’s exactly what happens here.  There’s so much suspense once one story line is wrapped up that we’re trying to figure out who the stalker is, who’s being targeted and what’s going to happen.

There are a few folks that i’m not sure that i trust fully.  Ollie – i don’t know why but he’s been rubbing me the wrong way even after the cheating on his fiance thing.  Giselle – i think at times she’s still interested in Damian and i don’t know what she’s going to do.  Lisa – the timing that she meets Nikki is just too coincidental that i don’t know what to think here.    And don’t forget about Sofia.

Jamie is definitely here in full face – being the bestie that Nikki needs at the exact right moments.  We see Nikki grow and become savvy in her own skin, and we want nothing more than to root for the relationship that has been growing.

The other thing to note is that we don’t go more than a couple pages without an amazingly HOT steamy scene between Nikki and Damian.  Their chemistry is palpable and so intense that i literally felt the need to turn on my A/C last night.

i hope you guys enjoy this read when it comes out – you certainly won’t be disappointed at all.

Review: Outpost (Razorland Series #2) by Ann Aguirre

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Title:  Outpost
Author: Ann Aguirre
Publisher/Year: Feiwel & Friends 2012
Length:  336 pages
Series: Razorland Series #2

Overview

Deuce’s whole world has changed. Down below, she was considered an adult. Now, topside in a town called Salvation, she’s a brat in need of training in the eyes of the townsfolk. She doesn’t fit in with the other girls: Deuce only knows how to fight.

To make matters worse, her Hunter partner, Fade, keeps Deuce at a distance. Her feelings for Fade haven’t changed, but he seems not to want her around anymore. Confused and lonely, she starts looking for a way out.

Deuce signs up to serve in the summer patrols—those who make sure the planters can work the fields without danger. It should be routine, but things have been changing on the surface, just as they did below ground. The Freaks have grown smarter. They’re watching. Waiting. Planning. The monsters don’t intend to let Salvation survive, and it may take a girl like Deuce to turn back the tide

My Thoughts

I really enjoy this series and can’t put my finger on what makes it so different.  In this story, we’ve got our classing YA love triangle, but i’m not sure who i’m rooting for.  This 2nd installment takes us on a few different paths, and the outcome is still kind of ambiguous to me (probably the reason that i’m loving it).  So as the overview above states, Deuce finds herself in a place that she’s just not made for (or so she thinks).  In the enclave, she was an adult, never had to answer to parents or teachers other than Silk and the Wordkeepers and that’s absolutely not how it is in Salvation.  She’s also at a crossroads since Fade wants nothing to do with her and Stalker does, and Tegan’s an entirely different story since she keeps trying to make it seem as though everything that happened on the journey never happened.

This means that there HAS to be trouble brewing outside their little world since they are so involved in this story line right?  Well, that’s exactly what we get.  While we’re led to believe that the Freaks (or Muties) are primitive and without the ability to plan and develop strategy and think on their own, we learn that evolution is taking place and things are going to be flipped faster than we know it.

Some of the secondary characters in also begin to be more important here which is nice.  Longshot not only has a soft side for Deuce, but he really believes in her.  Through this book we learn a bit more and see where their relationship will take them.  we also see more from Momma Oakes and Edmund which is nice since Deuce needs someone to be a parent and these 2 are PERFECT for the job.

So, there’s a lot of ups and downs in this story, and the lead into the 3rd book Horde is really putting me on edge.  i can’t wait to see what comes next and here’s what i hope we find out

1) What is Longshot asking Deuce to do and what will come of that?

2) What’s going on with Fade?  (really?!?)

3) What’s happening outside the walls of Salvation and how long will those walls hold up?

4) what is it that the Freaks really want?

5) who will survive?

happy reading all!!

Review: Endurance (Razorland Series #1.5) by Ann Aguirre

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Title:  Endurance
Author: Ann Aguirre
Publisher/Year: Square Fish 2012
Length:  32 pages
Series: Razorland Series #1.5

Overview

When rebellion destroys the underground world in which Thimble and Stone have grown up, they take Stone’s son and try to escape the chaos. Along the way, they must evade the Freaks, beings who feed on human flesh. Leaving behind the roles of Builder and Breeder which they were assigned at birth, they wander the underground tunnels, looking for safety yet afraid to go “topside” where legend has it that the light and water will burn their skin from their bones.

Their journey takes them upward to an unimagined world of tinned food, comfortable furniture, and books. Away from their regimented society for the first time, and still facing imminent danger, Thimble and Stone acknowledge the forbidden attraction which both have denied for years.

My Thoughts

This is what i LOVE about .5 books (or novellas as we like to call them too).  they give us a great continuation of the story from someone else’s POV which we hope will come into play in the following installments of the series.  in this case, i’m fairly certain that these 2 characters will play a good role in the next book and i hope that we get to see where things go with them.

so as you remember from reading Enclave – book 1 in the series, Thimble and Stone are Deuce’s best friends.  They have their own paths in life with Thimble being a Builder since we learned that she was born with a slight disability – one leg is shorter than the other and i think that she may have a club foot.  it’s not a major issue compared to what it could be however given the circumstances that society lives in now, they typically leave the deformed out to be eaten by the Freaks.  Thimble we learn through the course of Endurance though is INCREDIBLY smart and will be quite valuable down the line

Stone we learned in book 1 is quite handsome and has been put into the Breeder caste – charged with maintaining the population of the enclave.  They choose the strongest, best looking of the brats to become Breeders in the hopes to keep a strong population coming along.  We heard that he had ‘sired’ one boy and that boy comes on the jounrey with Thimble and Stone.

So back to the story.  When Duece and Fade were cast out of the enclave, there were rumblings that there was imbalance and that people weren’t willing to just abide by what the elders told them to do.  We also heard that Nassau another enclave close by had been taken by the freaks and all this was BAD news.  so in Endurance, we’re finding ourselves in the midst of a power struggle where only the best can survive.  while Stone and Thimble manage to do that, they decide that they have better odds to go out on their own and see what safety and life they can make for themselves and Boy23 (Stone’s son).

This is a great few chapters where we get to see friendship grow and family bonds become tighter.  i really can’t wait to see what happens in the next installment since there’s so much that can be done with this.

so per usual – here are my questions:

1) what’s going to happen between Thimble and Stone

2) will they find helpful information in the computer that they’ve found?

3) will they make it topside and once they are there what will happen?

4) what role will Boy23 play?

 

**Click the cover above to buy!

The Joy Of Reading (at all ages)

I know that i typically write reviews but i wanted to share with you something that i found to be really interesting, heart warming and somewhat a result of our technology.  So if you don’t know much about me, i’m a mom of 3 little ones.  i have 3 yr old twin girls and a son who’s almost 2.  We live in NYC and while it’s great on nice weather days because you can take your kids outside for HOURS and enjoy what there is to quench their attention, on those less than nice weather days, you can be stumped.

What i’ve learned though is that my kids thing that Barnes and Nobles is a playroom.  This is FANTASTIC news to any parent because while i don’t always want to spend money on frivolous things, i’m more than happy to buy books on top of books on top of books.

So here’s where my entertainment stems from most recently.  a couple weeks ago, i took all my kids to BN on a Sunday morning, and as soon as we get into the kids sections, one of my girls goes directly to the Dr Seuss section and proceeds to pick up 6 new books that i’m not sure how she knew that we didn’t have.  it literally took her 30 seconds to pick out these 6 and she wouldn’t settle for me getting her anything else.  This of course meant that i had to be equitable with her twin and what she got (which lately has been Strawberry Shortcake or Fresh Beats Band books).  Then my son entered into the game and wanted Blues Clues and Yo Gabba Gabbe.  a lot more money than i wanted to spend later, we were off back to our apartment.

FAST FORWARD to last night.  Typically after we’ve done the dinner routine and baths/PJs, i’ll sit on the couch and pick up my iPad and read a book.  Because we tend to travel quite a bit, my kids all have their own tablets too (kindle fires).  So last night, while i’m reading, they all go scurry off and return a few minutes later and plop them down in what i’m told is ‘circle time’ with their tablets, and they are each reading a book.  at times aloud to each other.  It was quite possibly the cutest thing in the world.

When i asked my kids what they were doing – they said ‘mommy – we’re reading on our ‘puters’ like you’

Parting thought:  What more could a mom want!

 

Review: Enclave (Razorland Series #1) by Ann Aguirre

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Title:  Enclave
Author: Ann Aguirre
Publisher/Year: Square Fish 8/7/12
Length:  288 pages
Series: Razorland Series #1

Overview 

New York City has been decimated by war and plague, and most of civilization has migrated to underground enclaves, where life expectancy is no more than the early 20s. When Deuce turns 15, she takes on her role as a Huntress, and is paired with Fade, a teenage Hunter who lived Topside as a young boy. When she and Fade discover that the neighboring enclave has been decimated by the tunnel monsters—or Freaks—who seem to be growing more organized, the elders refuse to listen to warnings. And when Deuce and Fade are exiled from the enclave, the girl born in darkness must survive in daylight, in the ruins of a city whose population has dwindled to a few dangerous gangs. As the two are guided by Fade’s long-ago memories, they face dangers, and feelings, unlike any they’ve ever known.

What I thought

I Have to say that i really enjoyed this story – it’s a new take on dystopia and it was nicely written.  I wasn’t quite sure what to expect since i’ve been reading a lot of end of the world, people driven into hiding or new shelter/communities, wiped out by disease.  While we have that in this story, there’s such a great deeper story there too.  The usual isn’t thrown in our face in the onset.

What i mean by that is that you typically come to expect that there’s a ‘conforming side’ and those are all the people who fear the folks in power because that’s all they know and ‘the rebellion’.  In this story, while you come to assume that there are both sides, it’s not obvious and you don’t know who’s part of what and what the motives are.  You do know that you don’t want to believe the leaders of College Enclave, and you want there to be something better.

So we meed Deuce at her naming ceremony and we know from experience that she’s going to be a tough girl if not naive as well.  We get this, but at least she knows that she’s good at something – fighting and being a huntress.

We then meet Fade a little later on who’s an ‘outsider’ if you can even believe that there are any since everyone’s living underground.  No one knows his story since he was found in the tunnels and it’s never been shared with the enclave where he came from.

Through nothing more than being forced together, a friendship builds between the 2 and you hope that possibly there’s more to come.  Who knows if that will happen though.  These types of stories are typically slow to build to that.

From a case of bad circumstances, Fade and Deuce are some what targeted by the powers that be in the Enclave, resulting in bad jobs, and then being kicked out of the enclave to fend for themselves topside.  here is where Deuce learns a LOT about what’s real and what’s fiction and it’s a great growing experience to see how her eyes open up.

Along their fight for survival topside, they meet Stalker and Tegan, and their duo becomes a messy bit of a foursome.  Lots of fighting and animosity, distrust, and maybe some sexual tension?

I won’t continue more with the story in the fear of giving things away but….i do have a few questions of what i’m hoping for in the next book

1) What happens to Tegan?

2) What happens to all 4 of them actually?

3) Is there a love triangle going on and who’s going to win out?

4) Is Fade’s father alive?

I can’t wait to read the next installment now since i’m truly intrigued.  i hope you guys enjoy it as well and feel free to leave me a note with your thoughts.

Review: Release by Beth Kery

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Title:  Release
Author: Beth Kery
Publisher/Year: Penguin Group (USA) 4/2/13
Length:  320 pages

Overview

Genny loved her husband, Max, but something was missing—a sexual charge that was instead ignited by his business partner, Sean. He was ruggedly handsome, and he knew it. He had a heart-stopping smile and a slow, sexy New Orleans drawl that made Genny weak. The more time they spent together, the stronger the attraction between them became. Then her husband offered to share her with Sean for one intoxicating encounter…

But what begins as a night of forbidden desire quickly spirals into a whirlwind of murder, sensual submission, and secrets, and a scorching passion is kindled that threatens to consume everyone it touches.

What i thought

Let’s start off by saying that i really wanted to like this book since i’m a huge fan of almost everything that Beth Kery writes, but in this case, i think that that my expectations finally fell a bit short.  What we have here is a story about a romance that wasn’t appropriate at one point in time and seems like it could work out in the present day, yet one of the pair won’t let it happen.

So circumstances of a force of nature (i.e. a blizzard) and a crime (Genny’s house burning down )force Genny and Sean together.  what happens from there is far from unexpected and literally took the exact path that i figured.

The other frustrating piece to me is that there was a definite element of suspense written into this story.  who killed Max and were the house fire, break in and accident against genny intentional and if so who was behind it?

Long story short, i had hoped that the answers to all those questions would lead us somewhere besides exactly where it did.  I was hoping for a little bit of a twist and i didn’t get that.

The redeeming quality

what’s great about Beth Kery’s writing though is that she tends to get very descriptive and graphic in the nature of her sex scenes.  we really get a sense of what’s going on, what each character is feeling in the moment, and it’s definitely hot and steamy.  so from my perspective – that and that alone saved this book from being a 2.  i give it 3 stars.  let me know if you have a difference of opinion though, i’m always open to hearing about it!

 

Review: Life Before Legend: Stories of the Criminal and the Prodigy (Legend #.5) by Marie Lu

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Title:  Life Before Legend:  Stories of the Criminal and the Prodigy
Author: Marie Lu
Publisher/Year: Penguin Group (USA) 1/15/13
Length:  48 pages
Series: Legend #.5

Overview

Find out more about June and Day in this never-before-seen glimpse into their daily lives before they met in Marie Lu’sNew York Times bestselling LEGEND series. As twelve-year-olds struggling to survive in two very different worlds within the Republic’s stronghold, June was starting her first day of school at Drake University as the youngest cadet ever admitted, and Day was fighting for food on the streets of the Lake sector. LIFE BEFORE LEGEND contains two original stories written by Marie Lu that give readers a sneak peek into the lives of their favorite characters in a thrilling new context.

My Thoughts

I really wanted to like this novella – i’m a HUGE fan of novellas since they give you a glimpse into characters and their lives that you dont get in the bigger book.  what happened here though, wasn’t that at all.  we get just a short chapter for each of them, and it’s just a snippet into a day or 2 for each as well so you don’t even really get into anything of any substance.  We get a preview into how Day’s mind ticks in terms of being a loner, but we don’t get the story on how his knee gets better since we know that it does to an extent since he scales walls and all that

We also only get the beginnings of the story of June – and hear about everyone’s perceptions on how she’s managed to excel and all that – which was nice, but still not quite enough.

so sadly, as much as i wanted to feel happy about this one, i’m really on the edge of 2-3 stars.  sorry Marie Lu, i really do LOVE the series itself, this was just a #novellafail in my eyes.  If any of my readers though think otherwise, i’d love to hear your take on the novella.

Review: Stranded with a Billionaire (Billionaire Boys Club #1) by Jessica Clare

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Title:  Stranded with a Billionaire 
Author: Jessica Clare 
Publisher/Year: Penguin Group (USA) 4/16/13
Length: 260 pages
Series: Billionaire Boys Club #1

Overview

The Billionaire Boys Club is a secret society of six men who have vowed success – at any cost. Not all of them are old money, but all of them are incredibly wealthy. They’re just not always as successful when it comes to love… 

Billionaire Logan Hawkings needs a vacation. 

He’s had a rough time after the death of his father and the betrayal of his fiancée. But with a visit to a recent business acquisition—a private island resort in the Bahamas—he has a chance to mend his broken heart. 

When a hurricane blows in, a misplaced passport and a stalled elevator bring Logan together with an unusual woman named Bronte. She’s unlike anyone he’s ever met—down to earth, incredibly sensual, and even quotes Plato. 

She also has no clue that he’s rich… 

Bronte Dawson, a waitress from the Midwest, is stranded with the hotel’s domineering yet sexy manager Logan. What’s the harm in a little fling when it’s just the two of them, alone in paradise? But after several steamy island nights in Logan’s arms, Bronte’s ready to give her heart—and her body—to the man in charge. 

But she soon discovers there’s more to Logan than he’s told her…a billion times more. Now, Bronte’s caught in a whirlwind affair with one of the world’s most powerful men. But can their love endure their differences or will it all just blow over? 

What i liked

One of the interesting things here is that more than half of the story is from the POV of Logan which is nice.  We get the sense that Bronte is our strong female, but it’s more about Logan here and that’s a nice change.  We get that he has trust issues and that he had a tough upbringing, and we see how that’s changed him.

I also liked the glimpses into the other 5 gentlemen in the Brotherhood and i can’t wait to see how they are brought to life in the follow ups to this story

What i didn’t like

Bronte was VERY predictable in all of her actions.  Seriously, you knew where this story was going to go and you knew exactly what you were going to get from her in terms of response.    I also didn’t care much for the lack of depth that we got throughout some of the  character development.  I mean, everything was pretty much on the surface.  you don’t get a real back story on any of the characters aside from the little glimpse into Logan.  you don’t really know what the point of the society is and why they need to keep it so secret.  

all in all, it was pretty average, but since it’s a series, i’m not going to count it down and out just yet.  if you need a quick read, then i’d suggest you check it out.  took me just a few hours last night to read through the whole thing.

What i’m looking forward to

1) learning more about Hunter and what made him scarred

2) learning more about the other guys in general since i really enjoy Jonathan, Griffin, Cade (and i guess Reese)

3) seeing where things go with Logan/Bronte since I”m sure that there will be some continuation of their story in the next books 

4) finding out why it’s so taboo for the brotherhood to exist, although i kind of have a little idea…..

 

Review: Through the Ever Night (Under the Never Sky #2) by Veronica Rossi

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Title:  Through the Ever Night
Author: Veronica Rossi
Publisher/Year: HarperCollins Publishers, 1/8/13
Length: 341 pages
Series: Under the Never Sky #2

Overview

It’s been months since Aria learned of her mother’s death.

Months since Perry became Blood Lord of the Tides, and months since Aria last saw him.

Now Aria and Perry are about to be reunited. It’s a moment they’ve been longing for with countless expectations. And it’s a moment that lives up to all of them. At least, at first. Then it slips away. The Tides don’t take kindly to former Dwellers like Aria. And the tribe is swirling out of Perry’s control. With the Aether storms worsening every day, the only remaining hope for peace and safety is the Still Blue. But does this haven truly exist?

Threatened by false friends and powerful temptations, Aria and Perry wonder, Can their love survive through the ever night? In this second book in her spellbinding Under the Never Sky trilogy, Veronica Rossi combines fantasy and sci-fi elements to create a captivating adventure—and a love story as perilous as it is unforgettable.

What I liked

One of the best things about what Veronica Rossi does is that she keeps things pretty edgy and ‘real’ with giving us just enough of what we expect and then throwing us for a loop.  What we get in this story is a relationship that’s meant to be but of course things can’t be that easy.  I’m not just talking about Perry/Aria but of Roar and Liv as well.  We know how things are among both couples, and you have to wonder if it’s enough.

We are reunited with Marron in this tale which is really nice since he brought a level of sophistication to it all, and we get to know the guys that Perry met on his trip back to the Tides as well, which gives us the rough and tumble crowd.  Brooke is featured in the sense that she’s our typical girl who’s jealous and completely unaccepting of a ‘dweller’ and that seeps out into a bunch of others.

In this installment, we see Perry come into his own, and you get the sense that he’s much older than his 18/19 years.  We come to have a new appreciation for Soren for any number of reasons (mostly because Aria’s mother let us in on a DLS secret), and we realize that Hess and Sable are even worse than we imagined.

So what’s next

I’m always curious about:

1) Where’s the Still Blue and is Cinder (and his whole pod) the means to get in?

2) How is Roar going to continue on?

3) What will Soren’s role be in everything

4) will we see Liv again (for some reason i think that we will….call it the soap opera watcher in me)

5) will Marron create some magical scientific thing to help save the Tides?

6) will we ever learn who Aria’s father is?  I’m thinking that it’s someone that we know…or is related to someone that we know

so….can’t wait until Still Blue comes up on my list.  enjoy reading!

Review: Roar and Liv (Under the Never Sky #.5) by Veronica Rossi

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Title:  Under the Never Sky:  Roar and Liv
Author: Veronica Rossi
Publisher/Year: HarperCollins Publishers, 10/30/12
Length: 80 pages
Series: Under the Never Sky #.5

Overview

Before Perry and Aria, there was Roar and Liv.

After a childhood spent wandering the borderlands, Roar finally feels like he has a home with the Tides. His best friend Perry is like a brother to him, and Perry’s sister, Liv, is the love of his life. But Perry and Liv’s unpredictable older brother, Vale, is the Blood Lord of the Tides, and he has never looked kindly on Roar and Liv’s union. Normally, Roar couldn’t care less about Vale’s opinion. But with food running low and conditions worsening every day, Vale’s leadership is more vital—and more brutal—than ever. Desperate to protect his tribe, Vale makes a decision that will shatter the life Roar knew and change the fate of the Tides forever.

Set in the harsh but often beautiful world of Veronica Rossi’s “unforgettable” Under the Never Sky (Examiner.com), this captivating prequel novella stands on its own for new readers and offers series fans a fascinating look into the character of Roar. Poignant and powerful, Roar and Liv is a love story that will “capture your imagination and your heart.” (Justineon Under the Never Sky)

What I liked

not only did we get a quick glimpse into the dynamic between roar and liv’s relationship since it was teased a bit in Under the Never Sky, we get to see the dynamic between the family (all of them) and with Brooke a bit which is nice.  i think that there’s something to be said about having a deeper dive into what makes relationships into what they are.

What frustrates me…

when i’m reading novellas like this, i feel like there’s so much more that we could get into, but that’s not the purpose right?  these are more like ‘tie me overs’ until the next installment comes out and it serves a purpose.  i’m sure that once i get into #2, Through the Ever Night i’ll feel better about things with all the relationships, but for now i feel like it was a bit light.  regardless, at least we know what the relationship between Roar and Liv really is, how that related to Perry/Vale/Brooke and what will happen next.