Monday, July 31, 2017

Spotlight/Giveaway: The Way It Hurts

Title The Way It Hurts
Author Patty Blount
Release Date August 1, 2017
Publisher Sourcebooks Fire
ISBN 9781492632788

From the award-winning author of Some Boys comes a new ripped-from-the-headlines story about the unthinking backlash of Twitter culture

There may be two sides to every story, but sometimes there’s only one way to set things right…

Music is Elijah’s life. His band plays loud and hard, and he’ll do anything to get them a big break. He needs that success to help take care of his sister, who has special needs. So he’d rather be practicing when his friends drag him to a musical in the next town…until the lead starts to sing.

Kristen dreams of a career on stage like her grandmother’s. She knows she needs an edge to get into a competitive theater program—and being the star in her high school musical isn’t going to cut it. The applause and the attention only encourage her to work harder.

Elijah can't take his eyes off of Kristen's performance, and he snaps a photo of her in costume that he posts online with a comment that everybody misunderstands. It goes viral. Suddenly, Elijah and Kristen are in a new spotlight as the online backlash spins out of control. And the consequences are bigger than they both could have ever imagined because these threats don’t stay online…they follow them into real life.

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Ride Out was hard rock, not pop. So, yeah, we didn’t attract mainstream fans, but the fans we did have were vocal and loyal. I grinned when I saw the latest comment from some chick calling herself BroadwayBaby17. She hated our stuff. Said our sound was just noise and what words she could make out in our lyrics were misogynistic and disrespectful. Like we gave a fuck. I didn’t know why she bothered to click any of it, but she did and then tried to give us shit about it that she claimed was feedback. I had to admit, she knew technique, but if her scene was Broadway, there was no way she’d ever get what Nick, Sam, and I were trying to do with Ride Out. I mean, anyone who went to a Metallica show expecting Michael BublĂ© is bound to be disappointed, right?

And vice versa.

Sure enough, BroadwayBaby17 wiped the floor with our latest cover.

BroadwayBaby17: Someone explain to me why growling into a microphone is considered talent ’cause I’m just not seeing it. (Can’t hear anything right now either. LOL.)

BroadwayBaby17: OMG, these lyrics are so incredibly sexist! Someone tell these guys girls aren’t really impressed by your “pogo sticks” *barfs*

BroadwayBaby17: Boom, boom, boom. That’s all this band does is play percussion like it’s sex. *sighs* Sex and drums, drums and sex. BORING.

Another user named Ride_On747 crawled up BroadwayBaby17’s ass: Beotch, go back to drama club and leave metal to the boyz! These guys rock!

Thank you, Ride_On747! He was a huge fan of ours. Neither user had a photograph in their profile, so I didn’t know if they were male or female. It was kind of obvious that BroadwayBaby17 was a girl because of the way she always harped on us. Our lyrics were sexist, our beat was too primal, and our sound was too noisy.


But Ride_On747 was always there to take BroadwayBaby17 down a peg. I grinned and sent the brother a mental high five. Don’t like us; don’t listen. Easy.

I logged in using my personal account FretGuy99. This was mine; I didn’t post band stuff from that account. The band’s account was Ride_Out. I liked keeping them separate. We all had the password, but it was usually Sam or me doing most of the band’s postings.

Looked like he’d just posted.

Ride_Out: Hey, BB! You ever shredded a guitar? You ever cut loose with a metal scream? You ever play any original stuff at all? Until you can say yes to any of those questions, you got no right telling us we suck so _|_.

Oh, crap! He’d given her the Internet version of the middle finger.

BroadwayBaby17: OMG, so mature. If you can’t take criticism, get off the forums. This is a place for serious artists.

Okay, time for me to make an appearance.

FretGuy99: BroadwayBaby17, you only think people like you are artists. You’re elitist. You can’t respect anyone who takes a different view.

BroadwayBaby17: Not elitist. Just telling it like it is. Dude, don’t suck up to Ride_Out. Take my advice and study classical guitar before you ruin your chances of being original.

My phone buzzed. Dude, I am going to rip this chick a new one for the trash she’s talking about us.

I texted back. Relax. Let her dig her own grave.

FretGuy99: I have studied classical guitar. I can play lead or rhythm. I can strum chords, and I’m hella good at fingerpicking. I can play it all, baby. Just because I want to play metal doesn’t mean I have no talent. So shut up about shit you don’t know anything about and go shopping or something.

BroadwayBaby17: And there’s the sexism! I didn’t say anything about you having no talent. I just don’t like Ride Out.

FretGuy99: Then why the hell are you here on a heavy metal forum? Go back to the show tunes forum!

My phone buzzed. The shopping bit was clutch, dude. LMAO!

I shrugged. She had it coming.

Sam changed the subject. Nick wants us 2C North’s play tonight. Said we’d B there. 7 PM.

Hell. I raked my hair off my face. Sitting through some boring school play for a school I didn’t even attend was just about the worst way to spend a Friday night. But it was for Nick, so yeah—I’d go. Nick and Sam were more than just guys in the band. They were my brothers. Not a lot I wouldn’t do for either of them.

About the Author

PATTY BLOUNT grew up quiet and invisible in Queens, NY, but found her voice writing smart and strong characters willing to fight for what’s right. Today, she’s the award-winning author of edgy, emotional contemporary romance. Powered by way too much chocolate, Patty supports women’s rights by giving a voice to characters facing realistic situations like rape (SOME BOYS, 2014), bullying (SEND, 2012), and grief (NOTHING LEFT TO BURN, 2015). She enjoys hearing from her readers so visit her website or follow her on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

Author Links


Open to US & Canada Residents Only

Friday, July 28, 2017

Book Review: Girl in Snow

Title Girl in Snow
Author Danya Kukafka
Release Date August 1, 2017

Who Are You When No One Is Watching?

When a beloved high schooler named Lucinda Hayes is found murdered, no one in her sleepy Colorado suburb is untouched—not the boy who loved her too much; not the girl who wanted her perfect life; not the officer assigned to investigate her murder. In the aftermath of the tragedy, these three indelible characters—Cameron, Jade, and Russ—must each confront their darkest secrets in an effort to find solace, the truth, or both.

In crystalline prose, Danya Kukafka offers a brilliant exploration of identity and of the razor-sharp line between love and obsession, between watching and seeing, between truth and memory. Compulsively readable and powerfully moving, Girl in Snow offers an unforgettable reading experience and introduces a singular new talent in Danya Kukafka.

A mystery this is not. It is, but not really. Finding out who killed Lucinda Hayes serves as a backdrop in a three person character study. While I originally thought I was going into a whodunit novel, I wasn't disappointed by what I read instead.

The story moves at an unrushed pace, taking place over just a few days. Told in expressive prose, the writing was the most enjoyable part of the novel for me. I'd love to read more from Danya Kukafka in the future.

The murder falls into the background and Lucinda seems to just be a thread that holds the story together rather than the focus. As such, I didn't feel much about the killer's reveal (or Lucinda in general).

I think if you go into Girl in Snow knowing that you're getting a character study more so than a mystery, you'll be more inclined to enjoy it. As such, I've rated it 4 stars (whereas my rating would be much different, i.e. lower, if I rated it viewed as a mystery novel).


4 out of 5 stars

* This book was received from Simon & Schuster via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. *

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Book Review: The Marriage Pact

Title The Marriage Pact
Author Michelle Richmond
Release Date July 25, 2017

In this relentlessly paced novel of psychological suspense, New York Times bestselling author Michelle Richmond crafts an intense and shocking tale that asks: How far would you go to protect your marriage?

Newlyweds Alice and Jake are a picture-perfect couple. Alice, once a singer in a well-known rock band, is now a successful lawyer. Jake is a partner in an up-and-coming psychology practice. Their life together holds endless possibilities. After receiving an enticing wedding gift from one of Alice's prominent clients, they decide to join an exclusive and mysterious group known only as The Pact.

The goal of The Pact seems simple: to keep marriages happy and intact. And most of its rules make sense. Always answer the phone when your spouse calls. Exchange thoughtful gifts monthly. Plan a trip together once per quarter. . . . Never mention The Pact to anyone.

Alice and Jake are initially seduced by the glamorous parties, the sense of community, their widening social circle of like-minded couples. And then one of them breaks the rules. The young lovers are about to discover that for adherents to The Pact, membership, like marriage, is for life. And The Pact will go to any lengths to enforce that rule. For Jake and Alice, the marriage of their dreams is about to become their worst nightmare.

The Marriage Pact is a fast paced and suspenseful read. A crazy and twisty ride from the very beginning, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I found myself rapidly flipping pages and devouring the story from the very beginning.

Don't get me wrong, The Marriage Pact isn't a perfect book. It's a bit over the top at times, perhaps. There are moments where you have to suspend some disbelief, but those times didn't take away from my enjoyment of a really engrossing story. Also, the story deserved a more forceful and definitive ending. For the majority of the book, the story is powerful and strong. The ending, though, felt weak and flat in comparison.

Overall, The Marriage Pact was an engaging read. I definitely enjoyed it, but I think it's one of those books that some will love while others will take a pass.


4 out of 5 stars

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

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday (#27)

"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 Little & Lion
Author Brandy Colbert
Release Date August 8, 2017

When Suzette comes home to Los Angeles from her boarding school in New England, she isn't sure if she'll ever want to go back. L.A. is where her friends and family are (along with her crush, Emil). And her stepbrother, Lionel, who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, needs her emotional support.

But as she settles into her old life, Suzette finds herself falling for someone new...the same girl her brother is in love with. When Lionel's disorder spirals out of control, Suzette is forced to confront her past mistakes and find a way to help her brother before he hurts himself--or worse.

* What are you waiting on this Wednesday? Share your links in the comments below and I'll be sure to drop by! *

Monday, July 10, 2017

Spotlight/Giveaway: Paper Hearts

Title Paper Hearts
Series Heartbreak Chronicles, book 2
Author Ali Novak
Release Date July 4, 2017
Publisher Sourcebooks Fire
ISBN 9781492653363

“I’m sorry,” he said, slowly untying the ribbon that held his mask in place. “It’s just—I didn’t want you to think of me any differently.”

Somehow I kept my mouth from falling open. I knew his face, but my mind couldn’t accept that he was the person looking down at me.

“My real name is Alec.”

Felicity has her entire future planned. Ever since her older sister ran away, she’s had the full weight of her mother’s expectations on her shoulders. So she works hard to get straight As and save for college.

Except sometimes the best things in life are unplanned—like when Felicity meets a handsome, masked stranger while she is volunteering at a charity masquerade ball. She never thought he’d flirt with her. And she certainly never thought he’d turn out to be a member of the world-famous Heartbreakers band, Alec.

Then Felicity uncovers a shocking family secret. Suddenly, she, Alec, and her two best friends are off on a road trip to find Felicity’s missing sister. And she’s about to discover that unexpected turns have a peculiar way of landing her right where she needs to be…

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“When I first saw you standing there,” he said, “I thought you were someone else.”
Of course
, I thought. Here we go again. I knew what his answer would be, but I asked, “Really, who?”
“Don’t laugh, but I thought you were Violet James. She’s the actress in—”
He’d asked me not to, but I couldn’t help but laugh. “Yeah, I know who she is.”
Violet James, a.k.a. vampire princess Lilliana LaCroix from Immortal Nights. The show was her first starring role, and ever since it aired, people insisted we could be twins. I didn’t see it. Violet had pale hair and light-brown, almost golden eyes, which was a stark contrast to my red mane and green ones. Yet, whenever I ventured into the touristy areas of LA, people would stop me on the street to ask for an autograph.
It wasn’t that I hated being compared to Violet. After all, she was beyond gorgeous, but it always came up when I met someone new. It didn’t matter who the person was. I could be meeting the president of the United States or the Little Mermaid, and sooner or later they would point out the resemblance. In fact, I’d heard it so many times that I knew exactly how the conversation would go. Normally I was asked personal questions about Violet (as if looking
like someone gave you the power to read their mind), when the next season would start (suddenly I had insider information?), and if I could do that Lilliana quote that everybody seemed to love. (No, I’m not quoting a sex scene!)
But tonight something entirely different happened. Aaron went off script.
“As soon as you glanced my way, I knew you weren’t her.” He said this like it was amusing.
“When Violet looks at you, she has a way of making you feel minuscule even if you’re six feet tall.” Aaron spoke about Violet as if they knew each other, but he was quick to change the subject. “So you never said. What are you doing here tonight?”
“Oh, I volunteer for the CCA.”
For the first time since I met him, Aaron smiled. It was one of those slow half grins, and my lips tugged up in response. “Normally my dad has to drag me to these social events, but I have a friend who”—he hesitated, his smile disappearing—“has a close connection to the cause.”
…meaning his friend has cancer. Or has a family member with cancer. Either way, it was terrible. My first thought was to offer some type of condolence, but I didn’t know anything about his friend’s situation, and Aaron clearly wasn’t willing to get into the details. The best thing I could do was be friendly and maybe try to wrangle another smile out of him.
“Well, you’ll be happy to hear that my particular job is integral to the cause,” I said, splaying a hand against my chest. “I spent the earlier part of my evening working coat check.”
This made him laugh. It wasn’t loud or long, but there was enough of a chuckle to make my heart flutter.
“In this heat?” And as if to make a point, he unbuttoned his tuxedo jacket and tugged it off. After folding it neatly and setting it down between us, he reached for his bow tie. “Do you
mind if I…?”
“Nope.” I grinned and kicked off my heels. “Oh, thank God. These evil things remind me why I’m not fond of formal wear.” As fun as it was to get dressed up in a ball gown, the pain in my feet was far from glamorous.
“Aside from your dress,” he said, and I couldn’t tell if he was teasing me or asking a question.
Dammit, we’re back to this topic again?
“I honestly don’t care about the stain.” I glanced down at the brown spot. Now that it was dry, it was much less noticeable. “It’s just…” I didn’t know how to explain my plan to return the dress without sounding horrible. Aaron didn’t prompt me further. He sat there, staring at me until I figured out what to say. “Okay, I’ll tell you why I flipped, but if I do, you’re going to think less of me.”
Aaron looked me directly in the eye. “I highly doubt that.”
“Wanna bet?” I asked, but I didn’t wait to hear his answer. “I left the price tag on.”
He was quiet for a moment as he considered my words. “That makes you a bad person?”
“Yeah, because I was going to wear it and return it. Look, I’ve never done something like that before, but all the volunteers had to dress up for the ball and I don’t own any formal dresses, and this was the least expensive one I could find, but tuition at Stanford is going to be ridiculous and—”
Before I could finish, he held up a hand to cut off my rambling. “No. I don’t think you would have done that.”
“How do you know?”
“I’m an excellent judge of character,” he said, like it was a fact and not his own opinion.
“How does that work? Wait, don’t tell me… Intuition? Spidey senses?”
Aaron shook his head.
“Then what?” I demanded. I needed to know how he understood something about me before I did, especially considering we’d just met. Because as soon as Aaron announced that I wouldn’t return the dress, I knew he was right. I didn’t have the guts to follow through.
“Because,” he said matter-of-factly. “I’ve never seen anyone look as guilty as you do over something they haven’t actually done.”
He stood and brushed off his pants, and I was positive he was ditching me—which, I realized, is probably a good thing, because our entire encounter thus far had been mortifying. But then he did something I didn’t expect. He sucked in a quick breath and held out his hand.
“Would you like to go for a walk?” he asked, gesturing at the gardens.
He seemed eager and cautious in the same instant, and it put every humiliating second from tonight out of my head. I glanced down at his outstretched fingers, and a slow smile worked its way onto my lips.
Okay, cute guy. Why not?
I put my hand in his and let him lead the way.

About the Author

Ali Novak writes contemporary young adult romance and is a recent graduate of the University of Madison Wisconsin's creative writing program. She wrote her first full length novel, My Life with the Walter Boys, at the age of fifteen. Since posting the story online, it has received more than 33 million reads and is now published by Sourcebooks Fire.


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Friday, July 7, 2017

Book Review: Behind the Hands That Kill

Title Behind The Hands That Kill
Series In the Company of Killers, book 6
Author J. A. Redmerski
Release Date May 7, 2016

Even professional killers need vacations, but for Victor Faust, his vacation in Venezuela is about more than relaxation and time alone with Izabel Seyfried. It is a chance for him to come clean to Izabel: to tell her the truth about why he sent her to Italy with his brother, the truth behind his interest in Nora Kessler, and about his knowledge of Izabel’s child with her former captor. But before Victor can spill his soul, reality proves that for some killers, vacations are just pipe-dreams.

Attacked and kidnapped, Izabel finds herself stuffed in a suitcase, while Victor later wakes up imprisoned in a cage. In any other situation, Victor would find a way out and save himself and the woman he loves—but not this time. When the identities of their kidnappers are revealed, Victor loses all hope, and begins the mental process of accepting his and Izabel’s last moments together. And Izabel’s final moments of life.

As if his circumstances are not complicated enough, members of Vonnegut’s Order are finally closing in on Victor. And when they do, he comes face-to-face with someone else he once knew and loved, who could either help him, or make a grave situation much worse. Victor’s past has finally caught up with him: the women he has cared for, loved, and killed; the families he has destroyed; the unforgivable crimes he has committed. And now he must face the consequences, and pay the ultimate price for absolution.

But when it is all over, Victor may not have the strength to pick up what is left and move on. Because the event changes him. Because love changed him. And because, unlike before when he thought it is was for the best, he cannot imagine a life without Izabel in it.

Reviews for previous books: book one, book two, book three, book four, and book five. There may be spoilers for previous books in this review. You have been warned!

So in The Black Wolf, we get a glimpse of something between Izabel and Niklas. It feels like there's this chemistry between them that's pulling them together. After reading Behind the Hands That Kill, I think I want that explored even more than after reading The Black Wolf (and I really wanted it then).

As a reader, I completely expect characters to undergo change throughout a series. Unfortunately, I'm not sure I like the direction that Victor's headed in. He doesn't feel like the same man. I know that makes little sense. How can he feel like the same man if he's changing, right? I don't know how to explain it, I guess. I think the best way for me to explain it is this... Izabel is changing into a fiercer, more badass version of herself. Victor is turning into a syrupy, more mushy version of himself. I can't see them together anymore. Perhaps that part of the reason I'd be down to explore a relationship between her and Niklas (who still retains his badassness).

Behind the Hands That Kill is definitely a filler book (the very first) in the series. It does, however, lay a pretty solid foundation for what's coming next in the series, taking down Vonnegut. While this book wasn't the strongest of the series, I'm still excited to read more.


3 out of 5 stars

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Book Review: Damaged Like Us

Title Damaged Like Us
Series Like Us, book 1
Author Krista & Becca Ritchie
Release Date June 27, 2016

Don’t date your bodyguard.
It was the one rule he had to break.

Maximoff Hale is a force of nature. A ship unwilling to be steered. Headstrong, resilient, and wholly responsible — the twenty-two-year-old alpha billionaire can handle his unconventional life. By noon, lunch can turn into a mob of screaming fans. By two, his face is all over the internet.

Born into one of the most famous families in the country, his celebrity status began at birth.

He is certified American royalty.

When he’s assigned a new 24/7 bodyguard, he comes face-to-face with the worst case scenario: being attached to the tattooed, MMA-trained, Yale graduate who’s known for “going rogue” in the security team — and who fills 1/3 of Maximoff's sexual fantasies.

Twenty-seven-year-old Farrow Keene has one job: protect Maximoff Hale. Flirting, dating, and hot sex falls far, far out of the boundary of his bodyguard duties and into “termination” territory. But when feelings surface, protecting the sexy-as-sin, stubborn celebrity becomes increasingly complicated.

Together, boundaries blur, and being exposed could mean catastrophic consequences for both.

The Like Us series is a true series, one continuous timeline, that follows a family of wealthy celebrities and the people that protect them. Damaged Like Us can be read and enjoyed without reading any of Krista & Becca's other novels.

This is such a difficult book for me to review. Krista & Becca have written 12 other books that I've read and absolutely loved. The Addicted series is my favorite new adult series. The Aerial Ethereal books were also fantastic. I'm always excited to read their next book. To say that I was excited for the Like Us series is a bit of an understatement.

Unfortunately, Damaged Like Us just didn't work for me. Chances are, if I had never read anything by Krista & Becca before, I would probably feel less disappointed. However, I've come to expect a book that's full of emotion, a solid story, and characters that I fall in love with from them. Damaged Like Us just didn't give me that.

Let's start with the biggest part of the book, the romance. It was wonderful to see more diversity in Krista & Becca's work with the M/M couple. However, Maximoff and Farrow's relationship felt so different than any other relationship they've ever written. There was a distinct lack of emotional connection between them. It felt like their entire relationship, as well as the majority of the book, was focused on sex. I get it, some relationships are more sexual than others. There's nothing wrong with that at all. But how am I supposed to believe this couple fell in love and will stand the test of time if that's all I see? How is their relationship any different than Moffy's one-night stands? (If you answer is because Farrow's still around in the morning, no. That's just disappointing.) This was the biggest letdown of the entire book. I didn't feel their connection. Krista & Becca's previous works were believable, realistic romances that I fell in love with. This relationship missed the mark completely.

The big twist that brought to light Maximoff and Farrow's relationship? Totally and completely awful. Besides, where did it even come from? Why now? Was it just to further the plot (because that's certainly how it feels) and force Moffy and Farrow's relationship out in the family? It made me sad that this was the direction they went with the story. And the parents' reactions? Unbelievable and completely out of character.

Aside from the relationship aspect, the book lacks a solid plot. Sure, you can have a character driven book. That's fine with me. I'm a fan of character driven books. However, in order for them to be successful, the characters need to be well developed and fully fleshed out. Definitely didn't feel like the case here

Let's talk Moffy. He's supposed to be a revered person in his family. The hero worship seemed over the top, though. Yeah, he'll go to great lengths to protect his family and he's always there for them. Their over the top love for him didn't feel authentic, though. To top it all off, his relationship with Ryke was disappointing. Didn't we put all of that to bed already?

I was hoping to see more from the other family members, especially the ones that will also be getting books (Jane and Sullivan, from what we know so far). Yes, the focus of this book was Moffy and Farrow. I get that. However, in previous books there was the main couple but still plenty of the other characters from the series. It was definitely disappointing that so much revolved around Moffy and Farrow, especially considering their relationship was so sexualized and lacking any real depth.

Though Damaged Like Us completely missed the mark for me, I will be reading the next book Lovers Like Us in hopes of some redemption. I sincerely want the Like Us series to be just as successful and amazing as the Addicted series. I'm holding out hope that it will get better.

It greatly pained me to write a negative review for this book because I love Krista and Becca's work so much. However, I really wanted to share my thoughts after reading Damaged Like Us. I apologize if my review is all over the place. I've got a lot of feelings about this book and wanted to get some of them out sooner rather than later.


2 out of 5 stars