Book Review: A is for Abstinence – Kelly Oram

Title:  A is for Abstinence
Author: Kelly Oram
Genre: NA – Romance
Blurb (from Goodreads): 

Best selling YA romance author Kelly Oram takes her first dive into new adult romance with this heartfelt and hilarious tale of a rockstar and a virgin.

Rockstar to the core, Six-time Grammy Award-winning musician Kyle Hamilton has it all—money, fame, talent, good looks, and a job he loves. His only regret in life: walking away from a certain notorious virgin because he was too prideful, stubborn, and even afraid to give her the only thing she asked of him—his abstinence.

Four years and a broken heart later, Kyle realizes that sex isn’t everything, and he suddenly can’t stop thinking about the girl that got away. Virgin Val Jensen got under his skin like no one else ever has. He wasn’t ready for her then, but things are different now. He’s grown up, he’s learned a few things, and he’s finally figured out exactly what he wants, or, rather, who he wants.

Kyle Hamilton wants a do-over, and this time he’s willing to do—or not do—whatever it takes.


My Review:
So I broke my rule TBR Challenge rule.  Kelly Oram is NOT on my “pre-approved to buy” list for this year, but I couldn’t leave Val and Kyle up in the air like that.  I lasted 4 months.  That’s pretty decent, right?  And it doesn’t mean I’m going to run out and buy all the books…not necessarily. 
What I Loved:  Getting the rest of the story.  
I loved what Kyle was willing to do to prove to Val that he loved her and wanted to be with her.  I loved the growth his character went through between the two books in understanding Val’s perspective and even as far as understanding just why waiting was so special.
Not So Much:  I didn’t really feel like there was much of a story arch in this second book.  There were some minor issues and a little drama, but this was mostly a story about how Val and Kyle got their HEA.   I expected some kind of grand gesture from Marissa that would mess up something between Val and Kyle, or maybe someone from Val’s side. 
The Verdict:     
I really glad I picked up and read this book, but kind feel like it could have been more.  This book is still clean, despite the NA category.  Mild cussing, and of course there is sex talk.

Book Blitz: The Touch (The Cotiere Chronicals Book 2) – Michelle Bolanger

Alexander Koch lives a life most men would kill for. As the sole heir to his family’s enormous wealth, he enjoys the finer things in life despite the crippling pain that increases with every passing day. Until he meets the one he’s intended for. The one whose slightest touch makes the pain vanish. But after a chance meeting at the first Gathering of their kind, the girl runs from him in terror. Now he’s willing to spend every last cent to find her.

Jessalyn Vogt escaped her father’s controlling ways and has settled into a simple life, caring for her horses and brewing coffee for her customers. Until Alexander Koch tracks her down. She wants nothing to do with his arrogance, his money, or the undeniable attraction drawing her to him. But she knows she is the only one who can relieve him of the horrible pain racking his body.

The Cotiere has been reunited, but that was the easy part. Greed and old traditions threaten to tear it apart again. Trust has been compromised and hidden agendas are destroying the fragile truce between parents and children. It’s in the hands of the new counsel to keep it together, even if it means some must be willing to lose everything.

Exerpt:

       Fighting to keep the echo of confusion out of her voice, she replied as coldly as she could. “I’ll have your pour over right up, Alex, but I have work to do.”
   

     Alexander stiffened, and she flinched harder this time, sure he would raise his voice. His expression grew puzzled. “If you don’t mind please, it’s Alexander, and I can wait until you have the time.” His tone never changed, but there was doubt in his face. He slid a fifty-dollar bill across the counter, his stance softening when she didn’t immediately take the offered money. “Keep the change, Jessi.”

     Frustrated by her body’s response to him, and angry at his ridiculous tip, she gritted her teeth. She swiped the bill off the counter, slapped it into the register, and slid his full change back. Hurt flickered on his face before she turned away and let her echo punctuate her frustration. “I can’t be bought.” Instead of the anger she expected, she was hit with his confusion. Her own doubt was followed by regret, but she reminded herself who he was. He’s just not used to anyone telling him no. He’ll get over it.

     Her eyes involuntarily rose to the mirror as she reached for a mug and pour over vessel. Peter was leaning against the far wall with his left foot planted beside the opposite knee. His arms were crossed while he watched them. Peter lifted his chin toward her as a satisfied quirk curled his lip. Unfolding his arms and kicking away from the wall, he took a seat across from Alexander at a table near the counter. Sitting together, they looked like two lions prepared to wait for their next meal. A cold shiver raked Jessi’s back at the thought.

My Review:
The Touch is Michelle’s 2nd book, and her writing has just gotten better! I knew from the moment I started hearing about Alexander and Jessi that I was going to love them, and I was 110% correct! This book brought so many goofy grins to my face, and then there were moments where I just had to put the book down and walk away because of the emotional roller coaster.

What I Loved: I’ve already mentioned that I knew I would love Alexandar and Jessi, but really I loved their individual personalities and how different they were. I really enjoyed their banter and emotional dance. The tension between the two was spot on, and leaves you either wanting to throw a bucket of ice on them or screaming “get on with it already.” Both of Alexander and Jessi have uneasy backgrounds, but at this point in their lives they are primed to be ready to move forward and move past their past…but how? Especially when the past wants to come back and bite them.

The back stories in The Touch really made this book interesting. We met Alexander in The Kiss, but to know more about where he comes from, and some of what he’s gone through within The Cotiere really helps to build the backbone of this book. Then you’ve got Jessi’s story, and together it’s all a bit of a mess.

Not So Much:
There never seems to be enough book. There’s not really anything I can say here, honestly. I knew I was going to love Alexander and Jess!

The Verdict:

 I wish I could get more people to take a chance on Michelle’s books – they are awesome stories! I would consider these to be clean New Adult books, with a slight paranormal/fantasy aspect – and I highly recommend them.

Author Bio:

Michelle Bolanger has been an avid reader all her life. In 2014 and with the encouragement of her family and friends, she decided to take the leap and publish her own books. The Kiss is her first full length novel and the beginning of what is to be a four book series titled The Cotiere Chronicles. Michelle is also a talented vocalist and amateur photographer. She enjoys going on cruises, cheering for her favorite professional hockey team, and falling asleep to the sound of auto racing on TV. Michelle lives in Ohio with her husband and two dogs.
Website: http://www.michellebolanger.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/michellebolangerauthor/
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/MBolangerAuthor
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mbolangerauthor/

Book Review: There are No Vampires in This Book – Megan Bailey

Title: There are No Vampires in This Book
Author: Megan Bailey
Genre: NA – Fiction

Synopsis:  
TARYN HAD NEVER BEEN NORMAL.She wasn’t like other girls- not after that night, that thing, took her parents from her. She made it through hospitals, doctors, and therapy by playing by their rules and saying all the things they wanted to hear. But, inside, she held on to the truth.
She knew what she saw.

SHE SPENT HER TEEN YEARS PREPARING IN SECRET
With her two closest friends at her side, she dedicated herself to a mission. She would train and she would hunt. When the time came, she would be ready. No one she loved would be hurt by one of those monsters ever again

But with high school behind them, new found freedom comes with new responsibilities and new problems. Instead of weapons and self defense classes, she now has jobs and bills. The relation-ship with her best friend was suddenly shifting into new, scary territories. How could she take down bad guys if she couldn’t get her own life in order?

AND THEN THERE WAS HIM.
A mysterious stranger who pops up in suspicious places and throws off all sorts of bad vibes. His face now starred in her regular nightmares and plagued her thoughts in the day. Was she overre-acting? Or, was this finally the monster she had been waiting for? As the scars of Taryn’s past rise up to haunt her, she begins to question herself. With her mission faltering and her friendship off kilter, would life ever be the same again?
Would she ever be the same?

My Review:  

This is a book that was recommended by another blogger, and that was chosen by a group of us lovely blogger-people to read together. (You can find their reviews linked at the bottom!) I loved the idea of reading a book together and all posting a review. It’s even better when the book that is picked out is a good one!

What I Loved: I loved that this book wasn’t exactly predictable. I’ve been reading so many books lately that are lovely and wonderful but from the beginning you kind of know where it is going to go. It’s not that books like that are bad. In fact, I find sanctuary in those easy read kind of books at times, but I love it when one jumps out at you and keeps you guessing. I enjoy that it keeps my mind active, ‘what’s going to happen – perhaps this or that.’ This was true all the way up until the last chapters of the book, I was pretty sure I knew what was going to happen – and still yet there was that lingering thought that the author could throw me for a loop.

I loved the friendship bond in this book, and let me tell you it was quite a bond. The three of them were actually quite different people, but their dynamic worked so well. I loved the idea of just hanging out at home eating pizza and being goofy – is that even acceptable anymore? It seems like people always have to be doing something!

Not So Much: At first I had a hard time switching from first person journal entries to third person story – I got over it pretty quickly, but it sometimes had me thinking, ‘wait what?” or “why is she referring to herself…oh that’s right…” While I DID get over it – there is a part of me that wishes that it would have been told in first person, because there were questions regarding her parent’s death that I wanted answered as a third person perspective that in first person perspective would have been easier for me to let go.

The Verdict:   
I really, really enjoyed this book. There was sufficient action, and mystery. There was the internal battle without having the sullen or moody vibe about it. I loved Taryn and her desire to do what she thought was right, as well as facing her fears. At the end of the book she said something about how the new her faced her fears, but I felt like she was doing that all along. This book is clean, and I’m not 100% sure if it’s because I was engrossed in the story and forgot to pay attention, or because there just wasn’t any – but I don’t even recall there being any cussing. There is alcohol – but the book is NA, and I recommend it for such. I do look forward to reading more from author Megan Bailey, as I enjoyed the adventure she took me on.

About the Author:
Megan Bailey is a novelist and short story author. When not writing, she loves playing video games for way too many hours and reading everything she can get her hands on. Megan is married to her own wise-cracking, romantic hero. They live in Central Illinois with their two devious/darling daughters and three furbabies: Minna the boxer dog, Logan the black cat, and Gimli the dwarf bunny.

Book Review: Crane – The Legends Saga #1 – Stacey Rourke

Title: Crane (The Legends Saga #1)

Author: Stacey Rourke
Synopsis: 
The Horseman is unending,
his presence shan’t lessen.
If you break the curse,
you become the legend.

Washington Irving and Rip Van Winkle had no choice but to cover up the deadly truth behind Ichabod Crane’s disappearance. Centuries later, a Crane returns to Sleepy Hollow awakening macabre secrets once believed to be buried deep.

What if the monster that spawned the legend lived within you?

Now, Ireland Crane, reeling from a break-up and seeking a fresh start, must rely on the newly awakened Rip Van Winkle to discover the key to channeling the darkness swirling within her. Bodies are piling high and Ireland is the only one that can save Sleepy Hollow by embracing her own damning curse.

But is anyone truly safe when the Horseman rides?


My Review:
Crane (or this entire series really,) is one of those books that I picked up mainly because of the amazing cover.  In fact, I’m pretty sure that regardless of how I feel at the end of all of them, I’m going to want hard copies of all of these books.  The covers are dark, and beautiful.  I love them!  This series is one of those I really, really want to judge by its cover.
I have read a few books by Stacey Rourke and I really enjoy her work.  Her characters are fun and just make me want to continue reading, couple that with the fact that on her birthday she gave us all of her books for $.99 each….it was a steal, so I got the entire series.

***Please know – there is minor spoilery type content below…***

 What I Loved:  I am a huge fan of retellings.  I love it when authors take a famous story line and carve their own path into it.  There are many retellings that I actually like better than the originals.  This book is a great retelling of The Legend of Sleepy Hallow, and it includes several ‘characters’ you will recognize.  I really liked this version of Ichabod;  instead of the scared wimp you get in some of the cartoon versions of this story – you have this handsome, socially inept hero.  There is something sweet about a strong man who is also shy.

 In Crane, Rourke took a fun method of taking us back and forth between timelines, blending the original story with a modern-day take.  I don’t always like it when books jump back and forth like that, however it really worked for this book.  It was never confusing, but I’m sure that had a lot to do with the fact that the “voices” of the two POV’s were very different – even if the stories were parallel(ish). 

 Not So Much:  I had a hard time connecting with our modern-day main character, Ireland.  I loved her voice, she was funny, sarcastic and all the things that I like in a character, but I don’t really feel like I got to know her all that well.  I also had a very difficult time with the Ireland/Noah relationship – probably for the same reasons.  Noah, quite honestly, wasn’t really IN the story as much as you would like him to be.  He seemed like a great guy, but again I couldn’t really tell.  Then the two of them together – well, they were just playing at the edges of ‘together’ in this book…I imagine that is rectified in the future installments,  however the fact that they were truly together by the end of the story (sorry minor spoiler) – I just wasn’t ready for it yet.

And if I’m going to pick on the relationships, I did kind of feel the rush of Icabod and Katrina’s relationship as well.  Perhaps my problem is I like to see people’s feelings unfold rather than having this insta-attraction turn into love.  Life rarely works that way – so I think I enjoy books where the characters have to work at it a bit, too.  Spend some quality time together, you know.
 Finally, there is the parallel of the legend; in the old version you have a reason the horseman showed up and the events transpired, but in modern-day it I believe the reason it was happening again was because all the right people in all the right place.  That felt flimsy as a story-line, in my opinion.  WHY did it happen again when all of the people were in the right place?  Just because it was foretold, and that’s it?  

 The Verdict:  I really, really wanted to love Crane.  I was looking forward to reading it, and felt this was (is) the perfect season to read it in; however while I liked it, I didn’t love it.  I have been told by mega-fans to keep reading.  I do have Raven and Steam on my iPad, and I will likely continue with the series.  Perhaps by the end this will be one of those series I re-read over and over again and discover all the things I missed in this first book and how they relate to the following – who knows.
 I do think it’s worth your time, especially if you’re like me and enjoy a good retelling.  Give it a chance, because you know – my opinions are my own, and there are many who loved this book!

Rated: 3 Stars
Rating: PG-13 – some sexual content, mild cussing

Book Review: Hawthorne & Heathcliff – R. K. Ryals

Title: Hawthorn & Heathcliff

Author: R. K. Ryals
Genre: Young Adult/New Adult
Synopsis (from Goodreads):

Two names that didn’t belong to us. Two shoes that did.

Intense and introspective, seventeen-year-old Hawthorne Macy knows all about being abandoned. She’s felt the stark pain of being left behind by the people who are supposed to love her the most; her parents. Raised by her caring uncle on an old plantation, Hawthorne lives her life on the fringes of her small Southern town.

Until she meets his shoe.

Senior year, last period English class, and a pair of silent tennis shoes resting next to hers in the back of the room throws Hawthorne into a world she’d learned to stay outside of.

His name is Max Vincent, but in her mind, he’s Heathcliff. The handsome eighteen-year-old boy behind the shoes will pull Hawthorne into a passionate and unforgettable adventure of self-discovery during a time when love seems impossible.

Shoes can tell a lot about a person. The journey they take you on can tell a lot about how they’ll hold up.

My Review:
Hawthorne & Heathcliff is the perfect example of social media advertising at it’s best.  I have never read one of Ryal’s books previously, and I’m not even sure how she started pulling up in my newsfeed – could have been a result of me liking random pages via one of those “post your page here” posts, who knows.  What I do know is that the cover for the book started showing up, and it appealed to me very much.  Sweet an simple, and more often then not, the kind of cover that appeals to me the most.  Once I read the synopsis of the book I kind of knew I would read it eventually.  It was during the H&H themed shoe contest when I finally pre-bought the book.  It just goes to show, you generate enough buzz an hype on a book, you will get people to bite.
What I Loved:  Although in many ways the writing is poetic, not in the rhyming way, but in verse, Hawthorne & Heathcliff is very real.  The reality seeped through the seams with love and grief.  My story is so different from Hawthorne’s, but I can relate to how stand-offish she was, and the hesitancy to let people in.  I also relate to her being forced to grow up and understand the realities of life beyond the thoughts and cares of most teenagers, while simultaneously sort of wanting that kind of innocence/freedom to care about nothing more than your hair, clothes and the boy you like.  I was drawn to her just as much as Heathcliff (Max) apparently was.
I loved the growing relationship between her and her uncle, and how because she was afraid to ask, there were so many assumptions that Hawthorne made about herself that just weren’t true.  This book was a different kind of ‘coming of age’ novel.  Normally the teens in this kind of novel are maturing and realizing the things that are important in life.  Hawthorne is discovering who she is, crawling out from under her issues and looking at life in a different light.  
Of course the relationship between her and Heathcliff was such a steady burning flame throughout the book, just the kind of romance I love to read.  I enjoyed how Heathcliff was both persistent and patient with Hawthorne, and how eventually the roles reversed.
Not So Much:  I’m not a huge fan of sex in novels, especially with teenagers.  This is not a surprise to any of my regular readers.  I wasn’t sure if this novel would or would not have it, it’s hard to say sometimes.  However, there was a little in this book, and it was mostly emotionally based in description, but there were a few visuals (which is where I sort of draw my line).  However, I will say that as teenagers, Hawthorne and Heathcliff were very mature about it, there was discussion and protection, and it was based in reality and not this all amazing, perfect experience.  I respect that much more than glamorizing the entire experience.
Rating: 5 Stars – Sometimes a beautifully written novel with words like lyrics is exactly what I’m looking for.
Rated: R – due to sex and cussing (remember, I try to do this based of movie standards! 🙂 )
P.S. I still wish I would have won those amazing shoes!  I hope the winner loves them!  🙂

Book Review: His Haunted Heart – Lila Felix

Title: His Haunted Heart

Author: Lila Felix
Genre: New Adult – Clean, Historical, Romance

Synopsis (from Goodreads): Six years ago, deep in the swamps of Louisiana, Delilah’s face was marred forever at the hands of her sisters by the point of her mother’s kitchen knife. Despite her protest, her parents insist she make haste in finding a husband. But finding a husband isn’t an easy feat with a scar running the length of your face.
Porter Jeansonne keeps to himself. He lives in his mansion, set apart from the town he’s grown to detest. One night, walking through the town, seeking to collect a debt, he hears a man selling off his daughter in the most deplorable part of the darkened streets. He chooses to take pity on her and set her free from her despicable family. Until he sees her face. He then knows that maybe she is the mend for his haunted heart

“Some scars are too devastatingly beautiful for the world to see.”

My Review: His Haunted Heart sort of threw me for a loop, this is not Lila Felix’s normal style. Honestly, I thought she was going to throw a twist in the story about halfway through, and it was going to be a little bit more “The Village” than historical. (Though I’m pretty sure she makes it pretty clear in the beginning its historical, I just choose to set aside that detail). I like to try and find foreshadowing while I’m reading – so I tend to look for things that aren’t quite there.

While I had some reservations about some of actual story-line, this book really did suck me in. I enjoyed reading it because it’s been so long since I’ve been swept away from my world and felt like I left the cares of life behind to get lost in the book’s world – because it’s so different. Lila’s writing actually felt ‘haunted’ in this book – making this time of year (the time between summer and autumn) seem almost the perfect season in which to read it. (That might be silly and fantastical, but it was true for me!)

What I Loved:
There was just something about the melancholy setting of this book that drew me in from the very beginning. I was immediately rooting for Delilah, which is normal – you’re usually suppose to like the main character, but her life from the start just made me want her to have much better things.  Truly all of the sub-characters were perfectly written, as well as being melancholy, I felt like the story had an air of ‘fairytale’ as well, so the ‘good’ characters were great, upstanding people while the ‘bad’ characters were obviously bad.

I really enjoyed the chemistry between Delilah and Porter, their love and affection was pretty evident from the beginning. While there were some ups and downs, mostly on Delilah’s end – I kind of enjoyed that there was no major dividing line between them as a couple in the story. There wasn’t a huge falling out or major break in the relationship. They actually talked things out and there were even legitimate apologies for the way they behaved. I did like this for the simple fact that it breaks the norm when it comes to relationships in novels. It’s also worth noting that I am sooo thankful that this wasn’t a love triangle.  I had about a three second time-span in which I thought it was going to be – but Lila quickly nipped that one!

Not so Much: First of all, I felt like the ending was quite abrupt. It was like there is all this stuff, and then – done. So that was a little unsatisfying. It wasn’t in a cliff-hanger sort of way, but just a ‘…huh, that’s it…’ kind of scenario. I also felt like either we didn’t get enough correlation to things that seemed important in the story, and their purpose. There was a necklace, there was a lake, there was a witch-type person, there were ghosts and hidden backstories. There are the obvious facts which are laid out in the book, but throughout the story it felt like certain parts and scenes had much more significance, then when the “real story” or the mystery sort of unfolded I couldn’t decide if we were deceived and they weren’t really as significant as they seemed, or if I was just needing more detail – HOW was this used, what was the mechanics behind it. (My vagueness is purposeful to avoid spoilers).


Rated:
PG – Sensuality, no cussing, no sex
Rating: 3 Stars – I enjoyed this book!

Book Review: Song of David – Amy Harmon

Title: Song of David

Author: Amy Harmon
Genre: Adult Romance Fiction – Age-wise this seems like it would be New Adult, but this does NOT fall easily into that category. It especially does not fall into what most people expect out of a New Adult Book.

Synopsis (from Goodreads): This is David ‘Tag’ Taggert’s book, a supporting character introduced in The Law of Moses. This is a stand-alone story, but it is highly recommended that The Law of Moses be read first to avoid spoilers.

She said I was like a song. Her favorite song. A song isn’t something you can see. It’s something you feel, something you move to, something that disappears after the last note is played.

I won my first fight when I was eleven years old, and I’ve been throwing punches ever since. Fighting is the purest, truest, most elemental thing there is. Some people describe heaven as a sea of unending white. Where choirs sing and loved ones await. But for me, heaven was something else. It sounded like the bell at the beginning of a round, it tasted like adrenaline, it burned like sweat in my eyes and fire in my belly. It looked like the blur of screaming crowds and an opponent who wanted my blood.

For me, heaven was the octagon.

Until I met Millie, and heaven became something different. I became something different. I knew I loved her when I watched her stand perfectly still in the middle of a crowded room, people swarming, buzzing, slipping around her, her straight dancer’s posture unyielding, her chin high, her hands loose at her sides. No one seemed to see her at all, except for the few who squeezed past her, tossing exasperated looks at her unsmiling face. When they realized she wasn’t normal, they hurried away. Why was it that no one saw her, yet she was the first thing I saw?

If heaven was the octagon, then she was my angel at the center of it all, the girl with the power to take me down and lift me up again. The girl I wanted to fight for, the girl I wanted to claim. The girl who taught me that sometimes the biggest heroes go unsung and the most important battles are the ones we don’t think we can win.

My Review:
Amy Harmon makes it difficult to write a normal review, because I’m afraid if I share any littlest detail from the book I’m bound to give something away. The teasers that were put out for the book were intimate scenes, and yet were probably the safest words to put out to the world in order to entice without giving things away. I had this same trouble with Law of Moses, and I wasn’t 100 percent happy with my review because I still felt like I was leaking information from seams I’d prefer to keep shut so that the reader can find out the information themselves. I’m just like that – I hate spoilers, and I hate to spoil, too.

I will say that Song of David is another emotional roller coaster brought to you by Ms Amy Harmon; this seems to be her forte. While the overall feel of the book was bittersweet, woven in the details of Tag and Millie’s story is joy, love, laughter, fun, happiness, frustration, confusion, and anger fueled by love. Every single emotion is out there for you to latch on to and experience yourself within the pages of this book as you fall into this dance with Tag and Millie.

What I Loved: David (Tag) and Amelie (Millie). I loved their story front, center and end. I loved Millie’s brother, Henry, and his way of communication – sometimes he was the most profound character in the chapter. I loved still “seeing” Moses and Georgia and their baby! I love how Amy chose to tell this story (yet another secret that you must find out on your own). I loved that Tag is both the nice guy, and the bad guy; and yet he’s the perfect guy!

Not So Much: I’m not big on ambiguous – I’ll say that and leave it alone.

Rated: PG-13 – some cussing, and this book has sensuality, and a black out scene.
Rating: 5 Stars – Stellar writing, Awesome story.

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