Monday, November 23, 2015

Book Review: Long Way Down

Title Long Way Down

Series Calloway Sisters, book 4

Author Krista & Becca Ritchie

Release Date November 20, 2015

With a seven-year age difference, Ryke & Daisy have faced an uphill battle in the eyes of the world and their families. Known as the most adventurous, fast-paced couple — their next step has always been elusive to the rabid media.

Behind the scenes, heartbreaking troubles continue to test Ryke & Daisy’s resilience and shape their future together.

They promise:

To never slow down.
To never compromise who they are.
To never abandon their love for each other.

But preserving their happiness also means adding more risks. Ones that Connor Cobalt wouldn’t even take. As a professional free-solo climber, Ryke is no stranger to risk, but his next step with Daisy wagers more than just his health.

With their lives on the line, Ryke & Daisy head towards the vast, wild unknown in this epic final conclusion to the Addicted series.

***Authors' Note***
It's possible to only read the Calloway Sisters spin-off series without reading the Addicted series, but you MUST read Fuel the Fire (Calloway Sisters #3) before reading Long Way Down (Calloway Sisters #4).

It's highly recommended to read the books in the recommended reading order, which is in tangent with the Addicted series.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22024907-long-way-down
Review

Long Way Down is listed as the fourth book in the Calloway Sisters series (and it is), but it is also the ninth book in the Addicted series. While it is technically possible to read only the Calloway Sisters series, I highly recommend that you read the entire Addicted series. All of the books are absolutely amazing! Here is the recommended reading order (along with my reviews) for the entire series.

This book... this book was fucking amazing.

I know many fans of the Addicted series were worried about what would happen with Daisy and Ryke. I was one of them. I didn't know if my heart could handle this book. But I put my trust in Krista & Becca. These characters are their babies. They knew the story they needed to tell. They wouldn't let Daisy and Ryke down. And they didn't.

These characters, all six of them, have a special place in my heart. I've grown attached to them. To see the series come to an end is, like Krista & Becca said, bittersweet. It's so sad to say goodbye, but it feels like it's time. Their stories are ending in a good place. I couldn't ask for anything better for characters that I've come to love.

Long Way Down was a whirlwind of emotions for me (more than any of the other books). I smiled. I laughed out loud. I worried. I cried (the ugly kind, I admit it). By the end of it all, though, my heart was full of love. I couldn't have asked for anything better or more perfect.

Krista & Becca are, without any doubt, two of my all-time favorite authors. I can't wait for Some Kind of Perfect and everything else they have planned to share with the world. You rock, girls! Thank you so much for sharing these characters and their stories with us.

Rating

5 out of 5 stars

Friday, November 20, 2015

Book Review: Finding Hope

Title Finding Hope

Author Colleen Nelson

Release Date March 19, 2016

Hope leaves her small town for a fresh start, but her plans are derailed by an online romance and the appearance of her brother.

Hope lives in a small town with nothing to do and nowhere to go. With a drug addict for a brother, she focuses on the only thing that keeps her sane, writing poetry. To escape, she jumps at the chance to attend Ravenhurst Academy as a boarding student. She’ll even put up with the clique-ish Ravens if it means making a fresh start.

At first, Ravenhurst is better than Hope could have dreamed. She has a boyfriend and a cool roommate, and she might finally have found a place she can fit in. But can she trust her online boyfriend? And what can she do after her brother shows up at the school gates, desperate for help, and the Ravens turn on her? Trapped and unsure, Hope realizes that if she wants to save her brother, she has to save herself first.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25365508-finding-hope
Review

This was a very quick read. I really enjoyed the writing style. It felt like every single word mattered. I found it strangely refreshing since I'm almost always a fan of longer books. It felt very concise, but the brevity worked very well here. It's a lot of story in a small package.

While the story focused on Hope, I felt more connected to Eric. He felt like the stronger of the two characters. And while the title Finding Hope feels like it's about Hope finding herself amidst her brother's addiction, I felt it worked more strongly for Eric.

Overall, a book that I really enjoyed.


Drug abuse and sexual abuse

Rating

4 out 5 stars

*This book was received from Dundurn via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.*

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday (#8)

"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly event that's hosted by Breaking the Spine. It spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week, I'm waiting on...

Title The Forgetting Time
Author Sharon Guskin
Release Date February 2, 2016

Noah wants to go home. A seemingly easy request from most four year olds. But as Noah's single-mother, Janie, knows, nothing with Noah is ever easy. One day the pre-school office calls and says Janie needs to come in to talk about Noah, and no, not later, now - and life as she knows it stops.

For Jerome Anderson, life as he knows it has stopped. A deadly diagnosis has made him realize he is approaching the end of his life. His first thought - I'm not finished yet. Once a shining young star in academia, a graduate of Yale and Harvard, a professor of psychology, he threw it all away because of an obsession. Anderson became the laughing stock of his peers, but he didn't care - something had to be going on beyond what anyone could see or comprehend. He spent his life searching for that something else. And with Noah, he thinks he's found it.

Soon Noah, Janie and Anderson will find themselves knocking on the door of a mother whose son has been missing for eight years - and when that door opens, all of their questions will be answered.

Sharon Guskin has written a captivating, thought-provoking novel that explores what we regret in the end of our lives and hope for in the beginning, and everything in between. In equal parts a mystery and a testament to the profound connection between a child and parent, THE FORGETTING TIME marks the debut of a major new talent.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25527908-the-forgetting-time
There's a couple of reasons why this is my WoW pick this week. First, the blurb sounds incredibly interesting. Mysterious and emotional sounds like my kind of book. And secondly, there's something about the cover that really draws me in. Yes, it's simple, but it really makes me want to pick this book up.

What are *you* waiting on this week? Leave a link to your WoW and I’ll be sure to visit!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Release Day: Finish Him

Title: Finish Him

Author: Deanna Dee

Release Date:November 17, 2015



Blurb

Round One, FLIRT

Sonya Black never expected a petty sibling quarrel could lead to her sister being drugged. Overcome with guilt, Sonya vows to bring the jerk to justice. When she dives into her own investigation, she lands belly up in the company of Jaxon Nyles, the security guard who may have all the answers.

But being a detective isn’t as easy as Sonya thinks. On top of that, Jaxon always seems to be in the right place at the right time. Is he a suspect, or is he falling for her? More important, is she falling for him?

The round has begun. Who will flirt? Who will win? Will hearts break in the process?
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/27231488-finish-him

Buy

Amazon


Excerpts


With a complex pressing of buttons, the screen goes dim, and my opponent explodes into a fountain of blood and innards. Take that, pixels. The familiar zing of a victory glides through my blood, and it’s all I can do to keep the smirk off my lips. I haven’t been on Thanksgiving break for three hours, and already I’m kicking ass at video games and racking up the bragging points.

Dawn mutters a string of unintelligible syllables. It’s too bad not everyone’s having as good a time as me. “I will defeat you, Dwarf.”

I hit X on my controller to bring us back to the character selection screen. Dawn is the GM, Game Master, of the Marshalls and Magics campaign our group has going, and I play a dwarf. Possibly, she thinks calling me by my race will unhinge me enough for her to win a round. Not likely. “Yeah, yeah. Pick a character.”

Dawn sighs and selects Kerdwin, a random character who appeared in one of the side stories ten years ago. His combos are weak, and his powers are weaker. I keep all this to myself. Dawn pulls no punches during M and M. It’s not my fault if she’s bad at selecting characters in Bloodrage Anarchy: Silver Edition…or any other edition, really.

“Good choice,” I say instead and, with automatic movements, navigate three down and two over to Dalara, warrior princess of the outer realm of Simenia. The screen goes dark for the loading process, and our characters appear on the top of a narrow mountain. Lightning arcs overhead, and drums pound a war beat.

Round One, the game’s automated voice, which sounds like a constipated ogre, says. Kerdwin stands in a pathetic pose Dawn probably knows a name for. Dalara also stands in a pose she would know, but hers looks kick-ass and involves balancing on the balls of her feet and swaying. FIGHT! The constipated ogre bellows his call to arms.

Constipation or not, the call is all I need. I send Dalara into a flying kick and knock Kerdwin backwards. Next, I close the distance to execute Dalara’s strongest combo, a series of kicks and punches that will result in Kerdwin flying across the screen.

“Damn you.” Dawn blocks, breaking my combo. She jumps back until there’s an entire screen of distance between us.

Unfortunately for her, the reprieve will be slight. I regain my feet and go into attack mode, pressing forward twice and then the A button to activate a special attack. Dalara says something understandable only by the people of some tiny country in Asia, and dark flames erupt from her hands. I do this twice more, and Dawn’s life bar drops to a quarter remaining. She ducks my fourth attempt, leaps my fifth, and comes at me, getting through my defenses and landing a punch. The tip of my health bar turns red.

Oh hell no. That shitake will not fly. “Nice.” I send a high kick into Kerdwin’s face and follow with a punching combo. Kerdwin sways on his feet, and I shoot more black flame. “But not nice enough.” Dalara shifts to her ready stance. Kerdwin falls, and the game constipatedly announces my victory. Vacation has never been sweeter.

“Rah!” Parker screams. He’s sitting across the room on my bed, and somehow, he still almost makes me go deaf. “Excellent! Continue! Piff the Eviscerator desires more bloodshed!”

Dawn’s character staggers to his feet, and Dawn and I exchange the kind of sideways glance gamers use when they don’t want to take their attention from the screen. Parker plays an illusionist mage in M and M and, because he’s Parker, has named his illusionist mage Piff the Eviscerator.

“Silence, Gnome,” Dawn says in her intimidate-everyone-but-Parker voice. She’s probably hoping the boy will one day have enough sense to fear her and be quiet.“Eviscerate!” Parker punches the air. “Blood!” However, that day is not today.

I check the clock on my phone for the tenth time in the last five minutes. Jaxon must really want to apologize for what happened at Fantasmic’s. There’s no other reason for him to choose Kransten’s, an actual sit-down restaurant, for this lunch. I’m not complaining. This is an ideal atmosphere for the informal interrogation I spent the better part of yesterday preparing. I suffered for my obsession by having homework to do until almost midnight, but it was worth it. As a bonus, I got to hide in my room and avoid my family.

A black car pulls into the lot. It parks facing me one spot over, and Jaxon gets out. He’s wearing a black jacket, black jeans, and black boots.

My brain raises the red warning flag, and my insides dance a little. The all-black get-up is understandable in his line of work, but he’s wearing it outside the club. He’s a bad boy. I shouldn’t be here alone with him. I plug my key back into the ignition but can’t bring myself to turn it. Dawn dresses in all black, and she’s one of my best friends. Clothing choice is no reason to blow Jaxon off. Besides, his outfit doesn’t change how much I need information. I put my keys away and get out of my car. The late fall air hits my skin and works its calming magic. I’m in a public place. If Jaxon tries anything, there are security cameras and restaurant employees. Everything will be fine.

“Hey.” Jaxon stops beside me and meets my gaze with sparkling eyes.

My internal stone shield cracks the tiniest bit. Bad people’s eyes don’t glitter with the joy of life. “Hey.” I scuff my sneaker against the blacktop. Maybe he’s not a dangerous psychopath. Never mind he’s given no signs of such. “Nice eating choice.”

“Thanks.” He gestures to the restaurant. “Shall we? I’m starved.”

I nod, and we meander toward the building with an arm’s length between us. Jaxon doesn’t try to get close to me or act in any way threatening. He maintains his distance, and the sparkle stays in his eyes. In other words, he’s a gentleman.

At the restaurant, he holds the door. So more than the clothes follow him from the workplace. I thank him and get the next door. Jaxon doesn’t object with some lame chauvinistic argument. He goes in and stops beside the host desk.

I follow. The place hasn’t changed since my last visit a few months ago. Kransten’s is American. There is no other word for it. The d├ęcor is of either sports teams or rock bands. The tables are simple wood. There’s a bar with a TV, and the floor is tile. The lighting is recessed, giving the place a dark feel despite all the windows. As I noted earlier, it’s an ideal place for an informal interrogation.A hostess comes over and asks if we want a booth or table. Jaxon defers to me, and my snap bad-boy judgement sinks farther into the corner of my mind. He’s not controlling or dominating. I opt for a booth, and the hostess leads us to one, sets down menus, and tells us our server will be right over.


About the Author

Deanna Dee is strictly human and does not, to her knowledge, own a hyena. She lives by the sea, which she takes full advantage of in the summer time. People, reading, and pop culture make up the shameless downtime of her life. The rest of it is writing, and she’s okay with that.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Book Review: Just Visiting

Title Just Visiting

Author Dahlia Adler

Release Date November 17, 2015

Reagan Forrester wants out—out of her trailer park, out of reach of her freeloading mother, and out of the shadow of the relationship that made her the pariah of Charytan, Kansas.

Victoria Reyes wants in—in to a fashion design program, in to the arms of a cute guy who doesn't go to Charytan High, and in to a city where she won't stand out for being Mexican.

One thing the polar-opposite best friends do agree on is that wherever they go, they’re staying together. But when they set off on a series of college visits at the start of their senior year, they quickly see that the future doesn’t look quite like they expected. After two years of near-solitude following the betrayal of the ex-boyfriend who broke her heart, Reagan falls hard and fast for a Battlestar Galactica-loving, brilliant smile-sporting pre-med prospective... only to learn she's set herself up for heartbreak all over again. Meanwhile, Victoria runs full-speed toward all the things she thinks she wants… only to realize everything she’s looking for might be in the very place they've sworn to leave.

As both Reagan and Victoria struggle to learn who they are and what they want in the present, they discover just how much they don't know about each other's pasts. And when each learns what the other’s been hiding, they'll have to decide whether their friendship has a future.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25223115-just-visiting
Review

Just Visiting made me realize just how much I love books about friendship. Especially when it's friendship between two girls that isn't toxic and full of backstabbing. Not that I don't enjoy those (I do), but sometimes a book about healthy friendship is what I really need. And this is a great book about female friendship that shows just how wonderful friendship can be.

Part of what I loved about Just Visiting is that it shows that growing up doesn't necessarily mean growing apart. Two people are allowed to be different, want different things, and go through completely different experiences, but still be best friends. Reagan and Victoria are perfect examples of this. I love them independently and together.

And even though this is a book about best friends, there is a some romance. Normally, I'd be worried that the romance would try to steal the spotlight, but not here. The friendship between Reagan and Victoria is clearly the focus of the book. I'm thankful for that because I would have been disappointed if this turned into a romance focused book.

Another fantastic book from Dahlia Adler!

Rating

5 out of 5 stars

* This book was received from the author in exchange for an honest review. *

Friday, November 13, 2015

Book Review: After You

Title After You

Series Me Before You, book 2

Author Jojo Moyes

Release Date September 29, 2015

A NOTE FROM JOJO MOYES ABOUT HER EXCITING NEW NOVEL, AFTER YOU:

Dear Reader,

I wasn't going to write a sequel to Me Before You. But for years, readers kept asking and I kept wondering what Lou did with her life. In the end the idea came, as they sometimes do, at 5:30 in the morning, leaving me sitting bolt upright in my bed and scrambling for my pen.

It has been such a pleasure revisiting Lou and her family, and the Traynors, and confronting them with a whole new set of issues. As ever, they have made me laugh, and cry. I hope readers feel the same way at meeting them—especially Lou—again. And I'm hoping that those who love Will will find plenty to enjoy.

—Jojo Moyes
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25041504-after-you

Review

My review for Me Before You can be found here.

Me Before You was a wonderful book. It was powerful and emotional. It was heartbreaking. It made me ugly cry. I loved it so much.

When I heard that there was going to be a sequel, my first thought was "Oh yay!" Who wouldn't want a sequel to a book that they loved? Well... maybe I wouldn't. As the release date came and went, I still hadn't picked up After You. The more I thought about reading the sequel, the more hesitant I became. What if it's just not as good? Is a sequel really necessary?

The answer, for me, is no. No hesitation. No doubt. After You wasn't needed. It didn't enhance Me Before You. I didn't feel like I did when I read the first book. Luckily, it didn't ruin my enjoyment for it, either. It just made me kind of... sad and disappointed.

Lily didn't improve the story. In fact, I would have preferred she wasn't there at all. Sam didn't really make me feel much of anything. There's wasn't some big spark between him and Louisa that I wanted after her and Will.

Sometimes, I think a standalone should remain a standalone. Me Before You definitely falls into this category. Not all questions need to be answered. Sometimes it's best to just let readers wonder.

Rating

2.5 out of 5 stars

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Book Review: Need

Title Need

Author Joelle Charbonneau

Release Date November 3, 2015

"No one gets something for nothing. We all should know better."

Teenagers at Wisconsin's Nottawa High School are drawn deeper into a social networking site that promises to grant their every need . . . regardless of the consequences. Soon the site turns sinister, with simple pranks escalating to malicious crimes. The body count rises. In this chilling YA thriller, the author of the best-selling Testing trilogy examines not only the dark side of social media, but the dark side of human nature.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20550148-need
Review

Well, this was an interesting book. I'm not entirely clear whether it's good interesting or bad interesting, though. The best way I can say it is this... I liked the idea behind Need. I just didn't like the way it was executed.

So, let's talk about some of the the things that didn't work for me...

There's lots of characters in this book. Okay, I don't mind multiple points of view. Except for when I do. Like in Need. The characters read the same and don't feel very unique. What's the point of having multiple characters if they all seem the same?

Speaking of characters, does no one have a conscience in this book? Besides a little hesitating here and there for a few characters, no one seems to question these outlandish requirements to get what they want. It's almost like you could hear a character have this internal dialogue, "Oh, I'm supposed to do _______? That sounds really bad and I probably shouldn't do that. I really want _________, though, so I guess I have to! Darn." Really? It's laughable.

The ending also didn't work for me.


Rating

2 out of 5 stars

* This book was received from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. *

Monday, November 9, 2015

Book Review: Until We Meet Again

Title Until We Meet Again

Author Renee Collins

Release Date November 3, 2015

They exist in two different centuries, but their love defies time

Cassandra craves drama and adventure, so the last thing she wants is to spend her summer marooned with her mother and stepfather in a snooty Massachusetts shore town. But when a dreamy stranger shows up on their private beach claiming it's his own—and that the year is 1925—she is swept into a mystery a hundred years in the making.

As she searches for answers in the present, Cassandra discovers a truth that puts their growing love—and Lawrence's life—into jeopardy. Desperate to save him, Cassandra must find a way to change history…or risk losing Lawrence forever.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23277959-until-we-meet-again
Review

It seems like a sweet romance was just what I needed.

When I first started reading, I was worried about the slow pace of the book. Sometimes my attention wanders if a story doesn't immediately grab me. However, Until We Meet Again did pick up its pace and pull me in. It just took a few chapters to get there.

The story is told in two points of view, Cassandra's and Lawrence's. Unfortunately, I found Cassandra to be less than ideal. She seemed very self-centered to me. Even more so than the typical teenage girl she's supposed to be. Her melodrama could have easily killed the book. However, Lawrence is a peach and redeems the story.

The time travel aspect was... interesting, I guess? It wasn't a make or break aspect for me. It was just simply part of the story. Does that make sense? Anyway, I do like how the book ended. If it had ended differently, I might have knocked it down a star.

Until We Meet Again was a wonderfully written sweet and fluffy romance (with a gorgeous! cover).

Rating

4 out of 5 stars

* This book was received from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. *

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Book Review: Not That Easy

Title Not That Easy

Author Radhika Sanghani

Release Date November 3, 2015

Ellie used to be a virgin, but now she’s a woman with sexual experience. Well, some sexual experience. She also has debt, an unpaid magazine internship, and three flatmates who left her with the single room to match her single status.

That’s okay. She doesn’t want a boyfriend anyway—she wants several. And if the sex is exciting enough, her ruthless magazine editor boss can exploit her dating life for a column.

After countless hook-ups, a disastrously fiery encounter with some heat lube, and one orgasm class, Ellie is faced with the sad reality of her sexual ineptitude. But when she starts to witness the emotional wreckage she’s leaving in her wake, Ellie realizes that sex can be hard, and there’s a down side to giving it up too easy.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26166436-not-that-easy
Review

This is the sequel to Radhika's debut novel, Virgin (see my review here). I absolutely loved the first book. So, how does it stack up against its predecessor? It's just as amazing!

Ellie is back with more shenanigans than ever. And bless her! She's positively clueless about so many things. While I can understand other reviewers when they mention just how whiny she could be or how ridiculous she was, I simply believe Radhika was being true to Ellie's character. She's an adult, but she's still so naive in both sex and relationships. So, yes, she was a bit ridiculous and whiny, but she's still growing up and becoming a woman. She just happens to be doing it a little later than some.

The greatest thing I loved about Virgin and Not That Easy was how relatable these books are. I applaud her for being so open and honest about these things. Whether it's worrying about having an orgasm with a partner or figuring out just how much trimming is necessary in personal grooming, Radhika holds nothing back. I want more books like this!

Another great treat from both books is the humor. These books are hilarious! The situations that Ellie gets herself into are incredibly funny (of course, we probably wouldn't be laughing if they were happening to us... such is life).

If you're looking for a great laugh and a wonderful new adult read, pick up these books! As for me, I'll be waiting to read more from Radhika Sanghani.

Rating

5 out of 5 stars

* This book was received from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. *

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Spotlight/Giveaway: Until We Meet Again

Title: Until We Meet Again
Author: Renee Collins
Release Date: November 3, 2015
Publishers: Sourcebooks Fire
ISBN: 9781492621164

They exist in two different centuries, but their love defies time

Country clubs and garden parties. The last thing Cassandra wants is to spend the summer before her senior year marooned in a snooty Massachusetts shore town. Cass craves drama and adventure, which is hard when she just feels stuck.

But when a dreamy stranger shows up on her family’s private beach, claiming that it is his property—and that the year is 1925—Cass is swept into a mystery a hundred years in the making. As she searches for answers in the present, Cass discovers a truth that thrusts Lawrence’s life into jeopardy. It won’t matter which century he is from if he won’t live to see tomorrow.

Desperate to save the boy who’s come to mean everything to her, Cassandra must find a way to change history…or risk losing Lawrence forever.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23510106-the-sister-pact

Praise for Until We Meet Again

“Mystery, romance, time travel, and danger…this one has it all…Suspenseful, poignant, and romantic: well worth the read.” — Kirkus Reviews

“A hazy, romantic mystery that might appeal to fans of Nicholas Sparks.” — School of Library Journal

“Until We Meet Again is tragically beautiful with twists you won’t see coming.”—Martina Boone, author of Compulsion and the Heirs of Watson Island trilogy

"A beach house, a mystery, and time-travel love make Until We Meet Again a romantic, engaging read."—Deb Caletti, National Book Award Finalist for Honey, Baby, Sweetheart

 

About the Author

Renee Collins grew up on a beach in Hawaii. Sadly, she never met anyone from the past on those shores, but she did go on to get a degree in History, which is almost the same. She currently lives in Colorado with her family.

 

Author Links

Website
Twitter

 

Excerpt



GPrologue

The beach is empty. In the fading glow of twilight, the waves roll up to the rocks in sweeping curls of white foam. The sand glistens like wet steel. The grass bends low in the briny night wind. Always changing, yet always the same. I imagine the beach has looked like this since the beginning of time.

Stepping onto the soft terrain, I feel transported to some ancient evening, eons ago. Long before my uncle claimed this land as his own. Long before man even dared to taint these shores.

I wish the fleeting vision was true.

My gaze falls to the full moon’s reflection on the water. It’s broken into shards on the black sea, tossed about with each wave. A small, white shape catches my eye. It’s in the glare of the reflection, so I nearly miss it.

I step into the wave break. A seabird, dead and limp, is rolling back and forth in the foam. Her wings are spread open, her white-and-brown-speckled breast exposed.

I lift the small creature into my palm. What killed her? I wonder. There’s no sign of injury. Did she drown in the sea? Pinching her brittle, fragile leg gently between my fingers, I notice a small metal band snapped around her ankle. The sight of it startles me. Examining it closer, I catch the faint impression of numbers and letters etched into the band, but something in me resists reading them. I can’t say why.

What does it matter, anyhow? The poor creature is dead. And she reminds me that there is no going back. Time howls on, like the wind. And it is not only weaker creatures like this bird that succumb to it. Even the strongest man will fall before its crushing forward push.

I set the bird out into the water. As the tide pulls her away, I accept this truth. Soon the summer will be over. Too soon.


Chapter 1

Cassandra


Date: July 8.

Days at my mom and stepdad’s new summer home: 22

Hours spent at the froufrou country club: 0

Hours spent on the fancy private beach: 0

Hours spent lying on the couch bemoaning my lack of a life: somewhere in the 100s.

Number of times Mom has told me to make some new friends and stop moping around: also somewhere in the 100s.

To paraphrase Shakespeare: Oh, for a muse of fire to convey how utterly and completely bored I am.

Given the circumstances, it should be clear that I have no choice but to try to sneak into my neighbors’ yard and swim in their pool at 2:00 a.m.

My two accomplices are less than ideal. Travis Howard and Brandon Marks are local royalty of this ritzy, historic neighborhood slapped on the coast of Massachusetts’s North Shore. Both have the classic all-American look—tall, sparkling blue eyes, and a crop of blond hair that’s been gelled to scientific levels of perfection. But given the circumstances, they’ll have to do.

Brandon can barely keep pace as we cut along the tailored brush that adorns the Andersons’ back fence. Maybe because he’s too busy shooting nervous glances behind us.

“We’re being followed,” he says.

Travis and I exchange a look.

“Chill out, dude,” Travis says.

I sigh. “Seriously. I didn’t pack my smelling salts, so try not to faint.”

Travis holds out his fist for a bump.

Brandon is resolute. “At the very least, we’re being watched. You think these people don’t have security cameras?”

“No clue,” I say brightly.

“Well, that’s reassuring.”

“I try.”

I probably should have come on my own. Trouble is, I need a pair of hands to boost me over the fence. My little brother, Eddie, couldn’t do it, since he’s three. And for obvious reasons, I couldn’t ask Mom or Frank. That left the only other person I knew here: Travis.

He and I met at a garden party. How bourgeois is that? I was so bored I was ready to claw my eyes out. Then I saw this crazy guy doing a chair dance, to the utter shock of the local hens, and I decided he might be okay. Travis is pretty cool. He reminds me a little of my friend Jade back in Ohio. A delightful troublemaker. Having Travis’s buddy Brandon tagging along, however, has proved to be an unwelcome change of plans.

It’s late, but humidity still hangs in the air. Not as oppressive as during the day, but enough to make the hair against my neck damp. Crickets chirp loudly in the surrounding brush, which makes me uneasy somehow, as if their incessant noise will draw attention to us. As if they’re crying, “Look! Look! Look! Look!” to some unseen guard. Brandon’s nerves must be contagious.

Luckily, I spy the edge of the fence before I can dwell on my uneasiness for too long.

“We made it,” I say.

Gripping the bars, I look for a good spot to grab midway up. Travis helps me with the inspection.

“Right over here,” he says, motioning. “The ground’s a little higher on the other side, and those bushes will break your fall.”

“Nice,” I say, impressed. “You have a lot of experience breaking into private property?”

“Yeah, except we usually go for cash and high-value items. Breaking in to go swimming should be a nice change of pace.”

I smirk and he gives me a Mr. Teen USA wink.

“All right then,” I say. “Hoist me up.”

Brandon steps in between us. “Are we seriously doing this? You know, your stepdad’s house has a huge private beach. If you want to swim so badly, can’t we go there?”

“You’re missing the point, Brandon.”

“You never explained the point.”

“Only a fool asks to understand that which cannot be grasped,” I say, pretending to quote some ancient philosopher.

Travis blinks. “Dude. That was deep.”

“I know, right?” I turn back to Brandon. “See? He gets it.”

“This is really stupid,” Brandon says, unamused.

I pull out my phone. “So, I guess you don’t want to be in the group shot then?”

Travis comes to my side and puts his arm around me. “Sweet! Selfie time.”

I hold out my phone, and he and I make an overly enthusiastic thumbs-up pose.

Brandon folds his arms impatiently across his chest. “Can we get on with this?”

“Well, look who’s eager to have some fun,” I say, giving him a hearty slap on the back. “About time you came aboard.”

Brandon shakes his head and holds out his interlocked hands. Travis stands across from him. Together, they form the perfect ladder. Pushing off of their shoulders, I reach for the top of the fence. One push and my leg tips over the edge.

“Got it!” I shout. Perched on the top of the wall, I survey my target. The pool is lit, even with the Andersons away for the week, and it gleams an appealing turquoise blue in the dark night. If I had time and my stuff, I’d paint the scene. For now, however, an immersive, performance-art type of scenario will have to suffice.

“Let’s do this,” I say, hopping onto the grass below. I land firmly on my feet and unlatch the side gate.

Brandon remains frozen at the threshold. “Cass…”

“Let me guess. You don’t think this is such a good idea.”

Travis laughs. “Seriously, dude, don’t be such a pansy.”

He starts through the gate when Brandon grabs his arm. “Trav. You know why we can’t.”

Travis says nothing, but a shadow crosses his expression. I frown. “What?”

When Travis doesn’t reply, Brandon exhales. “We could go to jail.”

“Oh, don’t be so dramatic—”

“No, seriously. We’re both…kind of on probation.”

He officially has my attention. “Explain.”

Travis shakes his head. “It’s not that big of a deal. Brandon’s freaking out.”

“Then tell me,” I say.

His eyes shift away from mine. “It was me and Brandon and some of the guys from the lacrosse team. One night a few weeks ago, we were a little drunk. It was late. And we sort of…broke into a liquor store.”

Brandon scrambles to explain before I can react. “It wasn’t my idea. We never would have done it—it was really stupid, okay? Anyway, we got caught, but Austin’s dad pulled some strings and got us off with a warning.”

I nod slowly. “I see. So, you got Daddums to skirt the law for you?”

“It’s not like that,” Travis says, but I can tell he’s really embarrassed.

Brandon sighs. “I can’t get into trouble. I’ve got a lacrosse scholarship on the line, and my parents would murder me if I screwed that up. Trav’s the same.”

I’m not sure which is more irritating, the sham justice system in these ritzy areas or the fact that there’s actually a legitimate reason to cut our little excursion short.

I fold my arms. “So after all this, we’re leaving?”

“I never said that,” Travis says, defensive.

Brandon glares. “Don’t be an idiot, Trav. It’s not worth it.”

I can tell by the look Brandon gives Travis that he actually means I’m not worth it. Irritation flares up in me.

“Well, I haven’t come all this way to wuss out now. You boys and your lacrosse scholarships are free to go back home.”

“Fine,” Brandon says. “I’m out of here.”

He storms off without a glance back. Travis lingers, but I can tell he’s seen the error of his ways and wants to go as well.

“Go ahead and leave,” I say. “I’m over the fence. I don’t need you anymore.”

Travis sighs. “Brandon’s right. We should probably get out of here.”

I plant my fists on my waist. “Nope. I’m going to swim.”

“Cass.”

“Seriously, go. I can take it from here.”

“I’m not leaving you alone at two in the morning. It isn’t safe.”

I laugh. “How very gallant, Travis.”

“I’m serious. It isn’t safe.”

With only a smile, I turn and head for the pool. He calls my name in a sharp whisper, but I ignore him.

Little garden lights illuminate the path and surround the flagstone patio. The pool shimmers. You’ve got to hand it to the Andersons. They have a nice place here.

I circle the pool thoughtfully, then dip one toe in the water. “Ideal temperature.”

No simple entrance into the pool will do. It’s got to be diving board or nothing. With determination, I march to the elaborate diving area and grip the ladder.

Travis calls my name again. I glance over my shoulder with a sigh. He’s in the shadows by the shrubs.

“You’re crazy,” he whisper-yells.

“Guilty as charged, Travis, my dear.” I blow him a kiss and climb the diving-board ladder. My nerve ends tingle as I approach the long plank. It’s a stupid little thing, but I feel more alive now than I have all summer.

“Okay. Here goes nothing. One…two…”

The porch lights snap on with the fury of midday sun. It startles me so much that I throw my arms up to block it and almost fall backward into the pool.

“All right, kids,” a man’s voice booms. “Fun’s over.”

Who knew an uber rich gated community would have twenty-four-hour guards on staff? Oh wait. I knew. I just didn’t care.

A big man in a bouncer-type jacket strides in at the side of the deck, right near where I entered. To my left, Travis flattens against the house. Trapped. If he runs, the guard will notice for sure.

The beam of a high-powered flashlight blasts in my face.

“Get down from there.”

I shoot a look to the gently rippling pool water, then to Travis, then back to the guard. He’s clearly not in the mood to screw around.

Something about this situation feels so symbolic of this whole summer. There I was, about to plunge into that film internship in New York. Or go to Paris with Jade. Or maybe the acting camp. I hadn’t really decided. Either way, I was ready to start living and get out of Nowhereville, Ohio. And what happens?

Mom and Frank get the crazy idea to rent a beach house in Massachusetts. And because Frank can work remotely with his finance job, they don’t rent it for a week like a normal family. They rent it for the entire summer. And of course, they insist on dragging me and Eddie down with them. To sit on my butt all day and to go to garden luncheons.

“Where are the two guys I saw you with?” the guard calls out.

Cameras. Of course there are cameras. The beam of the flashlight cuts from me to scan the yard. Travis’s whole body tenses, and a wash of guilt passes over me. As much as I initially wrote him off as a rich jock, I actually kind of like the guy. He’s been cool and willing to play along with my ridiculous little shenanigans. I can’t let him suffer serious, long-lasting consequences.

Meeting Travis’s eyes, I mouth the word “go” and then wave to the security guard with both arms. “It’s just me, big guy. Me and my lonesome.”

The flashlight snaps up to me. My pulse races. What I’m doing, I’m not exactly sure. But the recklessness feels good.

“I thought I saw someone else,” the guard says.

He starts to pull the light away to search the yard. I have to act quickly. Drawing in a breath, I pull my sundress over my head and toss it on the patio. For a single, humiliating moment, the guard’s flashlight illuminates my red bra and underwear for all the world to see. Travis better be halfway home by now.

The guard’s voice is calm but laden with warning. “Miss…”

“Last one in the water’s a rotten egg!”

Drawing in a breath, I give one good bounce on the diving board, leap into the air, form the perfect swan position, and plunge into the water.

Buy Links

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Blog Tour: Traffick

The sequel to “Tricks,” Hopkins’ latest book follows five teenage victims of sex trafficking — from all walks of life and gender orientations — as they try to extricate themselves from their current situations and find a new way of life.
About The Book:
TRAFFICK (Tricks, #2) By: Ellen Hopkins Release Date: November 3, 2015 Pages: 528 Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Five teens victimized by sex trafficking try to find their way to a new life in this riveting companion to the New York Times bestselling Tricks from Ellen Hopkins, author of Crank.
In her bestselling novel, Tricks, Ellen Hopkins introduced us to five memorable characters tackling these enormous questions: Eden, the preacher’s daughter who turns tricks in Vegas and is helped into a child prostitution rescue; Seth, the gay farm boy disowned by his father who finds himself without money or resources other than his own body; Whitney, the privileged kid coaxed into the life by a pimp and whose dreams are ruined in a heroin haze; Ginger, who runs away from home with her girlfriend and is arrested for soliciting an undercover cop; and Cody, whose gambling habit forces him into the life, but who is shot and left for dead.

And now, in Traffick, these five are faced with the toughest question of all: Is there a way out? How these five teenagers face the aftermath of their decisions and experiences is the soul of this story that exposes the dark, ferocious underbelly of the child trafficking trade. Heart wrenching and hopeful, Traffick takes us on five separate but intertwined journeys through the painful challenges of recovery, rehabilitation, and renewal to forgiveness and love. All the way home.
Pimps - The Trailer:

Traffick Teasers:
Review:
There's so many reasons that I love Ellen Hopkins's books. First, I love her writing. Novels written in verse are hit and miss for me, but I can always count on her books being a hit. Second, Ellen's books deal with heavy issues. Traffick (and Tricks) deal with sex trafficking of minors. Third, not only does she tackle heavy issues, she shows them in such a realistic and raw light. There's definitely not any sugar coating here.

While Tricks focused on the individual characters, Traffickgives us the broader picture about how each teen's actions have affected their families and friends. We're finally able to see how each character is moving on with their lives and the challenges that they face. It was a fantastic and much needed follow up to Tricks.

And, just in case it's needed, Traffick deals with heavy stuff and could be triggering for some. You can expect rape/abuse, drugs/substance use, LGBT-phobia, and death.
Rating:
5 out of 5 stars
About The Author:
Ellen Hopkins is a poet, freelance writer, and the award-winning author of twenty nonfiction titles and five NY Times Bestselling novels-in-verse. She has published hundreds of articles on subjects ranging from aviation to child abuse to winegrowing. Ellen mentors other writers through her position as a regional adviser for the Nevada chapter of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). She is a regular speaker at schools; book festivals and writers conferences across the US, and now throughout the world.
Giveaway:
Event Hosted by:

* This book was received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. *

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Spotlight/Giveaway: The Greatest Zombie Movie Ever

Title The Greatest Zombie Movie Ever
Author Jeff Strand
Release Date March 1, 2016
Publisher Sourcebooks Fire

After producing three horror movies that went mostly ignored on YouTube, Justin and his filmmaking buddies decide it’s time they create something noteworthy, something epic. They’re going to film the Greatest Zombie Movie Ever. They may not have money or a script, but they have passion. And, after a rash text message, they also have the beautiful Alicia Howtz—Justin’s crush—as the lead.

With only one month to complete their movie, a script that can’t possibly get worse, and the hopes and dreams of Alicia on the line, Justin is feeling the pressure. Add to that a cast of uncooperative extras and incompetent production assistants, and Justin must face the sad, sad truth. He may actually be producing The Worst Zombie Movie Ever…
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26534110-the-greatest-zombie-movie-ever

Jeff Strand’s Five Favorite Zombie Movies

My five favorite zombie movies are very similar to many other people’s five favorite zombie movies. I could’ve gone the condescending click-bait route and written about “The Five Best Zombie Movies You’ve Never Seen!” but, no, I’m going with my five real favorites….

#5: DAWN OF THE DEAD (2004 version). I was one of the many people bellowing, “You can’t remake DAWN OF THE DEAD! This is blasphemy! Blasphemy!!!” But somehow this remake to a sequel (but not a sequel to the remake) turned out to be awesome. Not quite as good as the original (SPOILER ALERT: That’s #3 on this list) but one of my all-time favorites.

#4: RE-ANIMATOR. I’ve now seen plenty of movies that are more over-the-top insane than RE-ANIMATOR, but this was the first movie where I simply couldn’t believe what I was watching. It was hard to believe that a movie so dark and gruesome could be so funny.

#3: DAWN OF THE DEAD (1978 version). Shameful confession: When I first saw this in high school I thought it was stupid and boring. Fortunately, I matured and accepted that it’s one of the high points of zombie cinema. It’s the reason I know to duck before walking toward spinning helicopter blades.

#2: RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD. Fast zombies long before 28 DAYS LATER! The first time zombies ate brains! It doesn’t often get the credit it deserves, but this is one of the most influential zombie movies ever.

#1: SHAUN OF THE DEAD. The greatest zombie comedy ever. The greatest zombie movie ever. The greatest MOVIE ever.

About Jeff Strand

Jeff Strand has written more than twenty books, and is a four-time nominee (and four-time non-winner) of the Bram Stoker Award. Two of his young adult novels, A Bad Day For Voodoo and I Have A Bad Feeling About This, were Junior Library Guild picks. Publishers Weekly called his work “wickedly funny.” He lives in Tampa, Florida

Website -- Twitter

Excerpt from The Greatest Zombie Movie Ever


The vampire, whose fangs were too big for his mouth, turned to the camera and hissed.

"Don't look at the camera," said Justin Hollow, the director.

"I keep poking my lip on these things," said Harold, spitting the plastic fangs out onto the ground. He hadn't been a very frightening example of the undead before, and he was even less scary with no fangs and a thick line of drool running down his chin.

"Cut!" shouted Justin, loud enough to be sure that the command was heard by his production crew of two. "C'mon, Harold. Stay in character. We're three hours behind schedule."

"I don't care. I hate this. You promised that I'd get all the girls I wanted. So where are all of the girls I want?"

Justin let out his thirty-ninth exasperated sigh of the night. "The movie has to come out first."

"It's not even a real movie."

Justin bristled. It was a full body bristle, head to toe, which he hadn't even realized was physically possible. Bobby, who handled sound recording, and Gabe, who handled everything else, both stepped back a couple of feet. Neither of them truly believed that they were about to witness a murder, but they wanted to get out of the splash zone, just in case.

Had this been one of Justin's movies, he would have very slowly lowered his camera, stared directly into Harold's eyes with a steel gaze, and then after an extremely dramatic pause asked "What...did...you...just...say?"

His actual response, delivered in a squeakier voice than he would have allowed from his actors, was: "Huh?"

"I said it's not a real movie." Harold started to wipe the fake blood off his mouth. It didn't come off, and probably wouldn't for several days. Justin had planned to feel guilty about this later, but now he wouldn't bother. "Nobody's ever going to see it. You probably won't even finish it."

"I finished my last three movies!" Justin insisted. "I got hundreds of hits on YouTube!"

That statement was technically accurate, though it was the lowest possible number of hits you could get and still use "hundred" in its plural form. The only comment anybody posted about his latest film had been "This twelve year-old filmmaker sort of shows promise," which really frustrated Justin since he was fifteen.

Harold shrugged. "This is a waste of time. I've got better things to do on a Friday night."

"Nobody ever said this was going to be easy," said Justin, who had indeed said that it was going to be easy when luring Harold into the role. "You can quit now, but what are you going to think about your decision ten years from now?"

"I'm going to think, wow, it sure is nice to be such a well-paid dentist."

Harold walked off the set. It wasn't an actual set, but rather a small park near Justin's home, where they were filming without a permit. Justin knew he should shout something after his ex-actor. Something vicious. Something devastating. He thought about shouting "You'll never work in this town again!" but, no, it had to be something that Harold would consider a bad thing.

"Fine!" Justin shouted. "But when we record the audio commentary track for the Blu-Ray, I'm going to talk about how you abandoned us, and how much happier everybody was with the new actor who took your role, and how we all agreed that he should have been cast in the first place, and how he had so many girlfriends that he couldn't even keep track of them, and how they all found out about each other and had a great big awesome catfight in his front yard! And I'll pronounce your name wrong!"

Harold continued walking, apparently not heartbroken.

Pre-Order Links



Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Book Review: The Sister Pact

Title The Sister Pact

Author Stacie Ramey

Release Date November 3, 2015

A suicide pact was supposed to keep them together, but a broken promise tore them apart

Allie is devastated when her older sister commits suicide - and not just because she misses her. Allie feels betrayed. The two made a pact that they'd always be together, in life, and in death, but Leah broke her promise and Allie needs to know why.

Her parents hover. Her friends try to support her. And Nick, sweet Nick, keeps calling and flirting. Their sympathy only intensifies her grief.

But the more she clings to Leah, the more secretes surface. Allie's not sure which is more distressing: discovering the truth behind her sister's death or facing her new reality without her.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23510106-the-sister-pact

Review

This is a hard book to review. There's many things that I enjoyed, but there's also things that just didn't work for me.

I'm a big fan of books that deal with heavy issues. They are some of my favorite books. We've got suicide, mental health, and drug abuse as the big ones in The Sister Pact. While I feel like the author paints a good picture of how suicide affects those left behind, I don't feel like enough was done in regards to the mental health issue. Obviously the women in Allie's family deal with mental illness, but we're never told much of anything other than they're crazy and it runs in the family. Is just just depression that they're dealing with or something more? It just felt too glossed over, especially in a book dealing with suicide.

The other characters in this book were pretty toxic (although I feel like John had the most redeeming qualities out of everyone) and poor Allie was so clueless. And frankly, I felt like the romance with Nick was unnecessary. I would have preferred to see him as a friend to Allie rather than a romantic interest.

Overall, the story was okay. It just left me wanting more. More developed characters, deeper story, or something. Something was missing, but I can't place my finger on exactly what it was.

The writing was so good. I thoroughly enjoyed the author's style. It definitely saved the book for me. I'd be interested in reading more from Stacie Ramey in the future.

Rating

3 out of 5 stars

* This book was received from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. *

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Release Day: Sweet Nothing

Sweet Nothing_Final Banner

We are celebrating the release of SWEET NOTHING 

by Author Jamie McGuire & Teresa Mummert!


Sweet Nothing Cover

AVAILABLE NOW for ONLY $4.99.


Add to Goodreads

Synopsis


When you think you know what's happening, you're only half way there.

It is enough to break any man: watching what could have been my future slip away before it was ever in my grasp.  The possibility of losing someone I loved before she was even mine is something I never would have imagined -certainly nothing I'd ever wish on anyone. I went to her every day and waited.  Waited for the impossible, for a sign, for her to look at me ... hoping sinner are granted miracles, too.

Just one glimpse of him was all it took. In the next lane, at a stop light was the man I would fall in love with and marry.  People talk about love that takes time - the kind you fall in to. We were more like a crash and burn. When our lives intertwined I knew I would never be the same.  He was the man I would cherish the rest of my life, who would father my children. In an instant our life together began, and in an instant it would end.  The late nights; the excuses; the lies. And in the blink of an eye, it was like we never were.


Sweet Nothing Teaser_One Cent

Buy Links


Amazon | iBooks | Amazon Paperback | Kobo | Nook | Google Play


About the Authors

Jamie Headshot

Jamie McGuire was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She attended Northern Oklahoma College, the University of Central Oklahoma, and Autry Technology Center where she graduated with a degree in Radiography.

Jamie paved the way for the New Adult genre with the international bestseller Beautiful Disaster. Her follow-up novel, Walking Disaster, debuted at #1 on the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestseller lists. Beautiful Oblivion, book one of the Maddox Brothers series, also topped the New York Times bestseller list, debuting at #1. Beautiful Redemption and Beautiful Sacrifice, books two and three of the Maddox Brothers series, respectively, have also made appearances on the New York Times bestseller list.

Novels also written by Jamie McGuire include: Red Hill, an apocalyptic thriller; the Providence series, a young adult paranormal romance trilogy; Apolonia, a dark sci-fi romance; and several novellas, including A Beautiful Wedding, Among Monsters: A Red Hill Novella, and Happenstance: A Novella Series.

Jamie lives in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, with her husband, Jeff, their three children, three dogs, three horses, and a cat named Rooster. When Jamie is not writing, you can find her hiking, running, or looking for a sweater.

Find Jamie at www.jamiemcguire.com or on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!





Teresa Mummert Head Shot

Teresa Mummert grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania where she began dating her husband when they were only sixteen years old. They married at eighteen and soon moved to Louisiana as her husband began his military career. They are the proud parents of four children, that they are raising in Georgia.

Teresa began writing when her husband was deployed to Afghanistan as a way to cope with him being away at war. She soon became a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author. Her work includes, the word of mouth bestselling, White Trash Trilogy which landed here a three book publishing deal with Simon & Schuster. She has also written the New York Times and USA Today bestselling novel The Note, The USA Today bestselling novel Safe Word, Perfect Life, Pretty Little Things, the Honor Series, Rellik, The Good Girls, Something Wicked, and Sweet Nothing.



Sweet Nothing Teaser_I looked up at him

Sweet Nothing Teaser_My Mouth Crashed Into Hers