Saving Detroit – Michelle Bolanger

34738008Title: Saving Detroit
Author: Michelle Bolanger

Publisher: Self – Indie Author
Published Date: April 29, 2017

Blurb: Luke Kelso is about to land what he thought was his dream job as crew chief for his dad’s pro-race team, but a celebratory night out with friends turns into a six-month nightmare of abuse after he is drugged and forced into service for a high-end sex trafficking ring.

His rescue and return home to a family that loves him should have given him a safe place to recover and begin rebuilding his life. But when the truth about his family’s involvement in his ordeal is revealed, Luke turns his back on God, his family, and his career, vowing to take down the one who shattered his world forever.

An emotional story of recovery and healing through faith in God, Saving Detroit is a heartbreaking look at the horrors of human trafficking seen through the eyes of a young man fighting a battle against an evil only God can defeat.

My Review:

Once again, Michelle has created a masterpiece that sucks you in right from the start and keeps you stuck until the very end. She is excellent at creating a scene, including you you in the conversation and causing you to feel. Saving Detroit is a small break from her previous, Urban Fantasy, genre. A small break that I expect to be repeated over and over, because Michelle is too busy writing whatever is in her heart at that moment to be stuck in a single category.

What I Loved: I loved that this book is a piece of Michelle’s heart, which is absolutely evident in every word, paragraph, chapter. She put her heart and soul into this book for many reasons. She clearly had a few purposes in writing this book; one of them was an introduction into the true character of God – not the version we see plastered in news stories on Facebook, or through the condemning words of the misguided, but the God of love and patience and persistence.

I loved the other purpose of this book, which is to draw attention to an overlooked issue in this country; sex trafficking, and the even more over looked victims; boys and men. When I first started reading this book I was thrown when things started to take a turn for the dark. In the back of my mind I’m thinking, ‘what?! no…’ but reality is, anyone and everyone can be a victim, and our culture such as it is, will constantly shy away from MEN being a victim of anything. Especially in this arena. Its a thought that often gets swept under the rug and ignored. Sure there are some news stories, especially when its children involved, but they tend to fade away and get forgotten. This book draws attention to this issue, not only that, but it kind of throws it in your face and makes you want to PAY attention. To do something about it.

Not So Much: This book gutted me at times, it was difficult to read, difficult to process at times. It was at those moments I really wanted to put the book down and take a break.

The Verdict: I implore you, whether you are a Christian or not, give this book a chance. Let it wiggle it’s way into your heart, and truly let yourself hear the message that it is singing through every page.

Pucked by Rachel Walter

Pucked
By: Rachel Walter
 
 

 

Does life get in the way of love or does love get in the way of life?

 

Riley Silk, captain of the Warriors Ice Hockey team at Dalesburg High, doesn’t think life can be lived if love is present. If there’s two things in life he knows to be true, it’s that love causes pain and hockey is his ticket to a better life. He’s worked hard to maintain his Frozen Silk reputation in order to stay focused on his duties and goals.

 

Audrey Jacobs, the Warriors’ number one fan, believes life can’t be lived without love. She can find love and beauty in the muddiest of situations. Her best friend, Riley, is under a lot of stress at home, so she does her best to brighten his mood whenever she can.

 

When lines cross and blur, they struggle to keep control of the simplicity their friendship once held. With Audrey’s outlook on life usually surrounded by light, the growing darkness of her doubts and insecurities threaten to deflect her toward the wrong path.

 

Can she find her true self before her world burns around her? When truths become lies, can Riley find the strength to fight his way through his own personal darkness that clings to his mind and soul? Can he win this face-off that life has dropped in his zone, or will fate take him out of the game completely?

 

Who keeps the puck?

 

**Warning- Several abuse topics are discussed in this story, which includes parental alienation, physical abuse, alcohol abuse, and mild drug abuse.**

 



Excerpt:

Riley

“This or that?” Audrey asks.

I drum my fingers on the armrest as I think. “Music or movies?”

She glances at me sideways. “Music. Fiction or non-fiction.”

“Fiction. Dancing or singing?”

She laughs. “Dancing in the rain. Dancing on ice or falling on ice?”

“I practically danced on the ice tonight!” I snort. “I don’t fall…often.”

“I don’t mean that kind of dancing.”

“Like? A slow dance or something?” She nods. “And shall I ask Rob to be my partner?”

“Well, you could do a crazy one armed, one legged, booty shakin’ dance after a win,” she offers.

I laugh, loudly. “Where do you come up with this?” She shrugs a shoulder as she merges with interstate traffic. “In that case, fall. High heels or bikini wax?”

“You say fall because you’re a chicken. Do you even know what a bikini wax is?”

“If it’s like the name…then yes, and I’m not a chicken.”

“You are too, and I’d choose high heels. Feathers or snow?”

“You’d break your ankle! Snow. I’m still not a chicken,” I argue.

“I’d likely break both, but you are a chicken.”

“Will you stop calling me a chicken?”

The sound of her laughter centers me, I was meant to be right here with her. Just to hear her voice, her laugh…

“I will stop when you do a one armed, one legged, booty shakin’ dance on ice for me.” I hang my head. “Oh, and it has to be after a win, on home ice, and everyone has to see it.”

“Not gonna happen, Aud.”

“Same as usual, Chicken?” she asks as we pull into McDonalds drive-thru.

“Not a chicken, yes.”

“Okay.” She waits with the window cracked for an employee to take our order. A feminine voice comes through, asking what we’ll have. “One chocolate shake for the chicken and one vanilla shake for the tomboy,” she replies with a laugh.

“How many piece chicken nugget?”

Audrey laughs harder. “No chicken please, just the two shakes.”

“See, a sign you should knock the chicken shit off.”

“Not a chance, Chicken.” She clucks for good measure.

“No electricity or no plumbing,” I ask, hoping to pull her away from the teasing.

“No electricity, Chicken. One girl or all the girls?”

“One,” I say, burning a hole in the side of her head.

“Aw, a romantic chicken. I don’t think I’ve ever heard about one of those.” She tilts her face toward mine. Both of us just staring at the other, with very little space between us. My eyes fall shut and I lean back further into my seat. Way to make things awkward again, idiot. Chicken.

“Pink or purple?” I ask.

She groans, passing me the milkshakes the guy in at the window handed her. “Purple. Doer or dreamer?”

I chew on the inside of my cheek as I work the straws out of their wrappers. “Doer.” I’m too much of a dreamer. Or planner, but I don’t follow through.

 

About the Author

 

Rachel Walter is a wife and mother first and a coffee-addicted,chuck-wearing, hockey-watching, snark-spewing author second. She primarily writes Young Adult, but enjoys challenging herself in other genres, like Adult Contemporary. In 2012, Rachel began writing her first novel, True Connection, which she published in 2013. True Connection was re-released in 2014 as part of a boxed set, Pandora, which landed on USA Today’s Best Seller list. When she’s not writing or making images for her Instagram feature, #authorslog, she can be found doing almost anything in south central Pennsylvania, where she lives, to avoid washing dishes.
Social Media links
snapchat: rachelw_auth

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/Rachel_Walter

My Review:  I very rarely sign up for blog tours or accept review requests anymore (sorry for the collective groan I just heard from all hopeful authors and tour companies), mostly because of time, but also because when I do  find time to read, I don’t want it to be because I obligated myself, but because I really want to sit and read the book I have purchased, borrowed, whatever.  However, the tour for Pucked popped up in my email and I was interested in it the first time.  It popped up again, and I took the bait.  Why?  Well, it’s a YA and it’s a sports book, AND it’s a best friends book.  I happen to like all of the above.  (And see…it’s not a hopeless cause to contact me, it just has to be the right fit!)

What I Loved:  I loved the dynamic between Audrey and Riley.  Their friendship within the first pages was easy and fun, as long as they are alone.  Riley starts off the book over-protective and there’s always a part of me that really enjoys this.  However, this book has all kinds of other issues wrapped up in with it.  And the heat between these characters is very, VERY well written.  There were moments in this book that left me breathless due to the emotions flowing between them.

Audrey is such a strong character with a strong support group (parentals).  She has a defined growth arc throughout this book where as the rules of her and Riley’s friendship start changing, she finds herself a bit lost, however she is able to work through this and readjust to where she needs to be.

So before I head to the next part of my review….I want to note here that I really loved this story.  There are so many elements that I felt were well written and what was happening in Riley and Audrey’s lives really kept me invested.  If I didn’t have kids and a job, this would have been an all-nighter read for me, however I cannot elaborate too much as to what these elements and parts of the story that I loved so much were because I make it a rule not to mention more information than what is listed in the blurb if I can help it…and I haven’t been given much wiggle room in this area this time!

Not So Much:  The growth arc for Riley isn’t quite as well played out in my mind.  I loved this story, and him especially, but I felt like the internal issues he was dealing with were sort of dealt with in the outskirts of the scenes written on the page – and then was mentioned in the description of time passing or something like that so that the readers knew that it wasn’t missed all together.  I really wish to have actually seen Riley take some of the very necessary steps he needed to take instead of just being told that they happen.

Throughout the story I got the impression that Riley wasn’t as into hockey as much as he was using it as a means to an end.  Then later in the book you learn a little more about how/why Riley got into hockey.  I also would have liked to have seen this sport become something he loved again, rather than his ticket to college.

The Verdict: Pucked was at times a very sweet read, and at other times was a little difficult.  I feel like there are so many teenagers out there who would relate to this book and it’s message.  This book is very clean and YA appropriate, and I do highly recommend it!

Book Review: Dalysian Hope – Jamie Summer

Title: Dalysian Hope
Author: Jamie Summer
Genre: YA – Fantasy/Paranormal/Romance
Publisher: Self-Published
Pub Date: March 23, 2016

Buy Link: http://smile.amazon.com/dp/1530803020

Blurb (From Goodreads):One night that changed everything.
Sophie Evans is sure about one thing: she’s a normal teenage girl. Until one night her life is turned upside down. 

Attacked in her own apartment and saved by two handsome strangers, she’s thrown into a whole new world. Suddenly dealing with powers she knows nothing about and having half-truths thrown at her from every direction, she realizes that the definition of normal might not fit her after all. 

When Sophie is told that she has to fight in a matter of life and death, she’s left wondering what chance does she really have? And how can she be the only hope of a race she never even knew existed? 

Can Sophie fight the odds stacked against her, or will she lose herself in the process?

My Review:

Dalysian Hope was a review request sent to me. I’ve slowed way down on accepting requests, just because the time I used to spend on reading/blogging/promoting just isn’t available anymore. But since I was interested in the blurb I was given, and the cover of this book was beautiful, so I decided to give it a shot.

What I Loved: This story is very unique in many ways, and yet still falls into what is popular in YA-Fantasy/Dystopian type novels. I enjoyed Sophie’s character. She was witty and strong, yet at the same time took things in stride and didn’t have a tendency for the dramatic ‘this is not fair’ attitude that sometimes comes with these novels. This book was not too forthcoming with information, but there were some elements that of foreshadowing I was able to pick up on, and I love when I’m able to do that.

The chemistry between Sophie and Ash….and Sophie and Ren was pretty decent. Yes, unfortunately we have the makings (not exactly there yet…) for a love triangle here. I have my ‘side’ but I will keep that to myself for now.

Not So Much:
As previously mentioned, this book is not too forthcoming with the information. I was just as frustrated as Sophie about this, but mostly because it caused some of the story to just not make sense, or even flow very well. Keeping information so far under wraps that nearly the entire book is us discovering Sophie’s abilities, her training, and her internally swooning – it really just could have used a little more movement. There were things happening, lies that were being told (though not very well at times) and plots forming; however we never really figured out the reasons behind some of these things. I have my suspicions on a few of them…but no confirmation. That is not to say the book wasn’t without its action, and once there was some information starting to get shared, the book picked up pace considerably. It was just that I had to wait until the final 3/4ths of the novel for that to really happen.

The Verdict:  

    

I did enjoy the concept of this story, it was a unique idea with a lot of potential. I will be interested to see what more can be made of it as the series progresses. This book is clean, very YA appropriate.

Book Review: Creatura – Nely Cab

Title: Creatura
Author: Nely Cab
Genre: Young Adult – Fantasy, Romance

Buy Link:  https://amzn.com/B00WQ5YUAS

Blurb (from Goodreads):
When seventeen year-old Isis Martin is having trouble sleeping due to perturbing dreams of a horrific growling beast, she decides to confront her fear. But what Isis discovers is something other than a menacing entity.

The human-like creature offers Isis assurance that he is not a figment of her imagination. Unwilling to accept his avowal, Isis sets his words to contest by asking the entity to prove himself—a dare, he readily welcomes.

It is in her dreams that Isis innocently stumbles upon the silent existence of the divine lineage of those that man has long forgotten.

In a quaint town, deep in south Texas, this story leads Isis onto the path of impermissible love and captivating life-changing truths. Isis Martin’s journey is sure to leave any reader ravenous for more.

Blurb 2 (from Amazon):
Isis can control her dreams. Or she could—until recently. The creature in her nightmares has been haunting her for months. As if being dumped wasn’t bad enough, now she dreads going to sleep. She decides to confront the creature and win back some of her peace; only, she finds that he’s not a monster and he’s not a dream. A sacrifice for love, a shocking discovery and a jealous ex-boyfriend blur the lines between reality and dreams, making it hard to tell who the real monsters are.
Who would’ve known…that sometimes love is lethal?

My Review:
This book is not one I would have picked up on it’s own.  Judging from the blurb (I had read the Amazon version) and the cover, it sounded a bit more thriller/horror for my taste.  However, this was voted as the May book of the month in a book group that I belong to, and since it otherwise fit my ‘type’ of book, I decided to suck it up and give it a chance.

What I Loved:  So, I try and make it a rule to not reveal anything about a book that isn’t already in the blurb, in the attempt not to spoil anything, so I’m sorry if I’m vague – I’m working with what I’ve got! 🙂

I enjoyed the world building and back story of Creatura, especially when it came to the human/creature. The concept behind these creatures was unique and interesting.

 Isis has great family and friend connections throughout this book, everyone in her life is very supportive, especially considering her months of insomnia, which is having its effect.  While at time I felt Isis’ mother behaved a lot more like a friend than a mother during times, and then switched back – I loved the comradery between them.

Not So Much:  I really was expecting something more with this book.  I already mentioned that I felt like it was going to be thriller/horror like, and I feel like the cover indicates this too, however the reality is that this book was closer to a typical young adult, paranormal romance novel.  There is little real action, and a lot of smoldering glances.

I really thought that Isis’ dreams would play a much bigger part in this book, but after the beginning the fact that she could control her dream and was able to dream into this place that the creature dwells sort of became a back-burner detail after the first couple chapters. Then there was her jealous ex-boyfriend, who played his part but I really thought he was something more and in the end it felt anti-climatic to me.

The Verdict:     +.5

While the writing was decent and the world building was pretty good, I felt like this story just fell short for me.  My expectation based on the blurbs was that this book was going to be a paranormal version of when the girl falls in love with the boy who isn’t what he seems – he’s much more dangerous – and it turns into an action filled drama of her attempting to escape.  This book is good for the Young Adult genre, age appropriate.

Book Review: Reasons I Fell for the Funny Fat Friend – Becca Ann

Title: Reasons I Fell for the Funny Fat Friend
Author: Becca Ann (Cassie Mae)
Genre: Young Adult – Romance, Self Image

Buy Link:  https://amzn.com/B00AY6OT70

Blurb (from Goodreads.com):
It’s stupid to fall for your brother’s ex. It’s even worse to enlist another’s help to win the ex over. But Brody is desperate and Hayley, his partner in American Sign Language, is more than willing to lend him a few tips.

She’s the school’s matchmaker,’ and with her bizarre and positive personality, Brody finds her easy to talk to, even about the most awkward situations. Hayley’s tips seem to be working, but as Brody learns more about his matchmaker, he starts finding reasons to spend time with her, and not the girl he thought he was in love with.

But Hayley isn’t ready to fall for anyone. Labeled the “Funny Fat Friend” within her group, her self image makes it impossible for Brody to share his feelings without Hayley shrugging it off as a joke.

Convincing her Brody can, and did, fall for the “Funny Fat Friend” turns out to be harder than simply falling in love.

My Review:  
After being in the supernatural world for a bit, I decided I wanted something light and fun and normal to read. What better author to turn to than Mrs. Cassie Mae?

What I Loved: This book was exactly what I needed. It was a sweet romance with likable, real characters who were goofy and down to earth. I loved that this story was told from the guys perspective, which is always a little refreshing, despite me wrinkling my nose every time he talked about how badly his bedroom smelled (at least he was aware of it!). Hayley was pretty funny, and a lot cheesy, but I could tell the person she was meant to be right off. I’ve met those people who seem so incredibly self-aware and confident, who are easy to talk to and know how to keep conversations moving, yet have something going on underneath. I could see why Brody would have a hard time understanding her reluctance to believe that he actually liked her.

Not So Much: Part of me is happy that Hayley’s home life wasn’t as bad as I had originally thought, at the same time I kind of felt like that part of the story was a little underdeveloped. It could have been me wishing to get into Hayley’s head (since I’m used to the girls being the narrator) but I kind of wanted more there.

The Verdict:    

As always a great read! There is mild cussing, and there IS non-descriptive sex in this book, so older YA would be my recommendation.

Book Review: Onyx – Jennifer L. Armentrout

Title: Onyx (A Lux Novel – Book 2)
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Genre: Young Adult – Paranormal, Romance

Buy Link:  http://amzn.com/1620610116

Blurb (from Goodreads): 
Being connected to Daemon Black sucks…

Thanks to his alien mojo, Daemon’s determined to prove what he feels for me is more than a product of our bizarro connection. So I’ve sworn him off, even though he’s running more hot than cold these days. But we’ve got bigger problems.

Something worse than the Arum has come to town…

The Department of Defense are here. If they ever find out what Daemon can do and that we’re linked, I’m a goner. So is he. And there’s this new boy in school who’s got a secret of his own. He knows what’s happened to me and he can help, but to do so, I have to lie to Daemon and stay away from him. Like that’s possible. Against all common sense, I’m falling for Daemon. Hard.

But then everything changes…
I’ve seen someone who shouldn’t be alive. And I have to tell Daemon, even though I know he’s never going to stop searching until he gets the truth. What happened to his brother? Who betrayed him? And what does the DOD want from them—from me?

No one is who they seem. And not everyone will survive the lies…


My Review:

No sooner did I finish Obsidian then I went and purchased Onyx. While I may have had some character troubles with Obsidian, I was still captivated by this story and wanted to know more about what was going to happen.

What I Loved: The continuing building of heat between Katy and Daemon. I enjoyed Daemon much more in this book than the previous. He was done fighting what were obviously very strong feelings for Katy, and he was in aggressive pursuit. There was a lot more kissing in this book – and boy can Jennifer Armentrout write a good kissing scene!

We learned more about what is going on between Katy and Daemon’s strange connection and what it might all mean. We also are introduced to Blake who is more than he seems.

In Onyx we get a few more twists and turns in the story, while the progress on the relationship front seems to be more the issue here.

Not So Much: Katy is driving me crazy. She is still so obtuse and just wishy-washy. She says things that she desperately wants to believe, but are obviously not true. She has become a horrible friend and really not admirable at all. She lies, and hides things that should be brought to light, and trusts way more information to people outside of her alien circle than she should.

The Verdict:    

Gosh, the romance draws me in. The story is interesting enough…but I’m just a bit perturbed by Katy. Some reviews of the third book indicate that she gets better, but I’m not sure if I’m quite ready to move on yet.

Book Review: Obsidian – Jennifer L. Armentrout

Title: Obsidian (A Lux Novel – Book 1)
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Genre: Young Adult – Paranormal, Romance

Buy Link:  http://amzn.com/1620610078

Blurb (From Goodreads): 
Starting over sucks.

When we moved to West Virginia right before my senior year, I’d pretty much resigned myself to thick accents, dodgy internet access, and a whole lot of boring… until I spotted my hot neighbor, with his looming height and eerie green eyes. Things were looking up.

And then he opened his mouth.

Daemon is infuriating. Arrogant. Stab-worthy. We do not get along. At all. But when a stranger attacks me and Daemon literally freezes time with a wave of his hand, well, something… unexpected happens.

The hot alien living next door marks me.

You heard me. Alien. Turns out Daemon and his sister have a galaxy of enemies wanting to steal their abilities, and Daemon’s touch has me lit up like the Vegas Strip. The only way I’m getting out of this alive is by sticking close to Daemon until my alien mojo fades.

If I don’t kill him first, that is.

My Review:

Pay attention book bloggers – this one goes out to you! Last week I did a quick search on my WordPress app on Book Reviews, just to see what would pop up. I can’t tell you the blogger who did it, but I ran across a review for Obsidian and knew that I had that book for kindle, so I stopped to read the review. This review wasn’t a 5 star all praise this book in all its ways, it revealed some thing that the reader didn’t care for, but she gushed about Daemon and a few other aspects of the book. As a result, I searched for it in my library (because who KNOWs when I bought it, but it was pretty buried in my list) and started reading it.

Note – I don’t usually read reviews…but I might start after this. I just really hate spoilers, I like to be surprised by stuff…and some bloggers have a difficult time with this. I read a review during this same search that basically spoiled an entire book (that I had already read) with her discussing what she liked/disliked about every part of the book. I have moments when I want to do this too..and I’m starting to wonder if we should call these blog posts “Book Discussions” rather than “Book Reviews” to alert the reader?! Anyway.

What I Loved: So, alien books aren’t actually my ‘thing,’ I’m not sure why, since in the last few years I’ve read a few good ones, but they just aren’t the first books that I tend to grab first. But I did really enjoy this take on Aliens. I didn’t fully understand what they could do and why – well, I vaguely understood why I guess – but I also just know it’s a book and it doesn’t have to make complete sense to me. The back-story of how they came to exist on earth and what had been established was flushed out to a satisfactory degree for me. All of the fight scenes were enjoyable to read, I didn’t get lost in the movements and what was actually happening, which can happen sometimes when there is a battle going on.

I totally loved Daemon and Katy’s back and forth constant battering of each other. It was some really good heat between the two of them.  The fact that they were both fighting attraction kind of helped dial up the heat quite a bit.  Some of my favorite scenes where the ones where Daemon was displaying jealous.  And w-o-w, the kiss scene.

Not So Much: Despite that the back story and the fight scenes were well done, I did feel like the overall story had some holes in it. At some points it felt like the entire town was alien, and at other points it felt like a select few were, and the people of the town knew they were alien or at least ‘other.’ At other times it seemed like their secret was completely locked down and humans put off the whole thing as “this town is weird.” I kind of felt like the lines were blurred a bit on the alien powers also, mostly when it came to the trace, or mark that could be left on humans. I kind of felt like they knew the logistics of it, and then at some point it was like – “hey, let’s try this.” In fact – as far as the instance I’m referring too, I kind of felt like it was put there so the scene would happen – and I would NEVER want that scene removed, but the reasoning behind it seemed a bit under-processed.

Katy is so dense. I loved her personality for the most part, but how many times does one have to refer to “your kind” or call you “human” before you really get it, and not have to have it spelled out to you? She doesn’t want to believe anything, including that Daemon isn’t quite as uncaring as he seems half the time. Read between the lines! It’s only frustrating because she is only like this to drag this storyline and hot/cold heat between the characters on for as long as possible – she is a strong character otherwise. The hot/cold stuff could probably be done without her playing dumb about it.

The Verdict:    
I’m completely engrossed in this series, and just bought book 2. I want to know what happens, and I do want a little bit more Katy/Daemon heat in my life. My hope is that the story and writing just gets better as we go through the books. The book is okay for older teenagers, there is cussing. Kissing and a little bit of touching that isn’t overly descriptive.