Sunday, June 30, 2013

Losing Hope (Hopeless #2), by Colleen Hoover

6 out of 5 stars

Ok, let me start by saying this is the first advanced copy of a book I have ever received.  I was fortunate enough to get an approved copy through NetGalley and honestly you would have thought I had just won the lottery.  But really that is EXACTLY what happened.  To have the opportunity to read something I've been anxiously awaiting since the day it was announced on Colleen Hoover's website.  It felt as though July 8th would never get here, so when that advanced copy downloaded to my kindle at 10:00 pm my heart immediately started racing and I was up until 1:00 am reading and only put it down then because I knew I had to get up for work the next morning.  Here are my immediate first reactions....  

Colleen Hoover you've done it've managed to blow my mind!  It would be impossible not to give this book as many stars as Hopeless because it's just as amazing of a journey this time as it was with Hopeless.  Honestly, for me this book was impossibly better. I feel like I'm cheating on Hopeless, my all time favorite book, saying this but it's the truth.  However, if you haven't read Hopeless do not read any more of this review.  STOP, go buy and read Hopeless this instant, then treat yourself to Losing Hope.  You absolutely do not want to miss out on this book.  You have to have Hopeless to appreciate Losing Hope, because you fall in love with Holder in Hopeless and see his emotions on the surface but in Losing Hope you experience, feel and understand why he does what he does.   This isn't just Sky's story told from Holder's perspective.  No, this is Dean Holder's story and it's every bit as emotional, surprising and moving as Sky's. 

Honestly, as a stand alone, Losing Hope is an entirely different story but when you read it with the knowledge of Hopeless it's like every piece of the puzzle comes together and you get the beauty of the entire story.  Losing Hope is Holder's story during Hopeless but it's also his story before and after the events of Hopeless.  The every brilliant Colleen Hoover uses journaling by Holder to give us an insider's perspective to every thought and feeling running through his mind.  Those journal entries were hands down the best part of the book for me.  I ended the book feeling an intimate connection to Holder.      

My journey was emotional and not just because I had an idea of what was going to happen.  My heart didn't just break for him because I knew what was going to happen it broke with him because I was experiencing it with him, when Less died, when he thought he found Hope, when he realized he did but really wished Sky wasn't her.  I didn't just see him fall in love with Sky I felt it.   Holder is a passionate loving, incredibly thoughtful, selfless and brave character who's actions during Hopeless may have come across as frustrating but after Losing Hope they are without a doubt the actions of a man who with all the shit life has thrown at him still finds a way to live life with hope.  At the end of Hopeless I may have thought Holder was the perfect book boyfriend but now there's no denying it's the truth!

This books has everything from pain to heartbreak and from passion to love.  There is absolutely nothing Colleen could have done to make the ending better or given Holder and Sky's story more closure, simply put it was perfection.  If you haven't already pre-orderd this book don't hesitate, go do it right now.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Flat-Out Matt, by Jessica Park

4.3 out of 5 stars

Honest confession, I decided to read Flat-Out Love when I kept hearing people tweet about Flat-Out Matt.  I wasn't sure what Flat-Out Matt was about but I did figure out I would need to read the other book first.  As soon as I finished Flat-Out Love I immediately purchased and read in one sitting this fabulous novella.  If you haven't read both of these stories yet, then I suggest you immediately go purchase them and start reading!  I can promise this is going to be a story unlike anything you've read before and you're going to surprise yourself when you fall for geeky romantic Matty.

In Flat-Out Love you see, experience and fall in love with Matt through Julie's eyes, however in Flat-Out Matt you get a deeper look into Matty's mind and heart during some of the most pivotal chapers of Flat-Out Love.  As a bonus Jessica Park has gifted us with a couple of pre-Julie chapters and one seriously hot and steamy post Flat-Out Love scene.  Who knew geeky boys could be so incredibly hot!  Those two things alone are enough for me to recommend you buy and experience this book.


Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Game Changer (The Perfect Game #2), by J. Sterling

4.5 out of 5 stars

The Game Changer picks up where The Perfect Game left off.  The story literally begins the day after Jack shows up on Cassie's doorstep begging her forgiveness and professing his love. 

I'm not going to lie because I was really hesitant to read this book.  I enjoyed the Perfect Game but I just didn't love it and I wasn't sure if I wanted to spend money on something I was going to have mixed feelings about.  I think maybe what bothered me the most in the first book is that it seemed like all the sudden one day Jack finally got it together, realized he needed Cassie and goes to win her back.  I am not sure after the first book I felt he deserved her forgiveness so quickly nor was I sure he could be faithful and fight for their relationship after he threw it away so quickly the first time.  I was left at the end of The Perfect Game really needing more to the story.  

Right away in The Game Changer J. Sterling has Jack tell us what he was doing those 6 months away from Cassie and now I can honestly say his actions, everything he did, any thought he had was nothing short of romantic and honorable and by the end of his confession I felt he deserved that second chance.  I finally understand why it took him so long.  I now believe he learned his lesson and will never make that kind of mistake again and throughout this entire book he proves his love and devotion to Cassie.

After Jack pours out his heart to Cassie you watch as the two of them navigate the ups and downs of a relationship in the public eye.  So there is definitely drama in this book but its so much different than what we read about in The Perfect Game.  One of the things I loved most was being able to watch Jack and Cassie learn to trust each other and work together fighting for their relationship.  

Now that you know Jack's grown as a person and has no doubt he is right where he wants to be with Cassie regardless of whether or not that life includes baseball, in his mind, his life will forever include Cassie.  The Game Changer is Cassie's story of growing up and realizing that Jack is the one she wants no matter how hard thats going to be.  You really see her work through her questions and doubts of whether or not she is strong enough to handle all that comes with being Jack's girlfriend.

J. Sterling has done and absolutely beautiful job finishing Jack and Cassie's story and as the last page was turned I couldn't have been more happy for those two characters.  I can now officially say I am a huge fan of Jack f'n Carter!  This is a beautiful story about finding true love and fighting as a team to withstand the pressures that are thrown at you in life.  Jack and Cassie's story teaches us it may not be easy but when you find the person you're meant to be with all the ups and downs are worth it.  Don't hesitate to read this book, you're going to love it!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Killing Sarai, by J.A. Redmerski

4.7 out of 5 stars

Sarai was brought to Mexico as a young 14 year old girl, by her drug addict mother, to live with powerful and dangerous Mexican drug lord, Javier Ruiz. After 9 long years in bondage as a sex-slave to this horrible man, Sarai finally spots a chance to escape.

Secretly she watches a meeeting between Javier and an unknown American, something she hasn't seen in 9 years.  Every instinct she posses tells her she can trust this stranger even though he is a dangerous assassin.  Upon her escape from Javier's compound, Sarai begins to question her instincts completely as it appears the American, Victor, is just as ruthless as Javier and may not be the savior she so desperately needs. Still for some reason, even with all her doubt, she places all her trust in him because inevitabely he makes her feel safe.

Victor, much like Sarai, has seen violence and death since he was a young boy.  He trusts no one and never allows himself to beome emotionally involved whether it be with his jobs or with people.  His detachment is what keeps him alive.  So what happens when he breaks his own rules to help Sarai?  This is a story about two people who've witnessed so much in their young lives that they've become numb to danger.  Will this growing connection get them killed or will they help one another stay alive?

Victor and Sarai's story is unlike anything I've ever read before and it addresses serious issues.  Their emotional connection isn't instant but it is slowly blossoming into what I think will be a force to be reckoned with.  Whether or not either one of them wants to admit it they need each other.  They make each other better.  Be warned though is is not your typical romance novel.  It's a thriller jam packed full of suspense with a side dose of romance.

This fantastic book keeps you on the edge of your seat and you will have trouble doing anything other than reading until the last page. And then once it's over you will want more. Thank God there is going to be a sequel.

J.A. Redmerski is an unbelievable author, I highly recommend all her books. As an added bonus, the first chapter off The Edge of Always has also been included, but read The Edge of Never, its prequel before hand. It is one of our most loved 5 star reads!!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Edge of Never, by J.A. Redmerski

5 out of 5 stars

Camryn Bennett, a twenty-year old who thinks she knows exactly how her life is going to turn out, decides after one out of control night at a bar in Raleigh that she needs to escape and search for a new destiny.  Once she makes up her mind she grabs her purse, cell phone and boards a greyhound bus headed towards anywhere away from her life in North Carolina.

It's on this road trip that Camryn meets Andrew, who is not only good looking but lives his life with no regrets.  In no time these two forge a friendship, which of course blossoms into more.  Andrew is instrumental in helping Camryn find herself and fight for what she wants out of life, but when Camryn learns Andrews secret will it tear them apart of pull them together?

How can I even begin to explain my love for this book??  When I first read this book, back in December 2012, I hadn't been really reading much and seeing it was on sale bought this book on a whim.  I thought why not give it a whirl!  That same day I had lunch with my best friend, told her about it and she also bought it.  We started reading The Edge of Never that afternoon at work (Don’t judge us, we know you all do it too!) and we were immediately drawn to Andrew and Camryn.

This book takes you on the road trip of your life, where the characters are so much fun to read about.  We both literally laughed out loud, cried like babies and just were so sad when it was over!  Further evidence this book was special were the constant text messages and phone calls back and forth as we worked our way through the pages of the story to discuss what was going on with the characters and what we thought or hoped was going to happen next.  This book is responsible for making us obsessed with reading again.  I cannot wait until the sequel The Edge of Forever is released later this year.  

J.A. Redmerski has an unbelievable talent for making you fall in love with the characters and every aspect of this book is excellent from beginning to end.  She also has some fabulous paranormal romance books The Dark Woods trilogy, which hooked me in as soon as Ian Somerhalder (Damon on the Vampire Diaries) was referenced.  Needless to say they just got better from that point.  Pick up all of her books, they are all really good, captivating stories that once you start you aren't going to want to put down.

Hopeless, by Colleen Hoover

6 out of 5 stars

I don't even know how to begin to describe my feelings for Hopeless!  I'm not sure there are enough words to describe how passionate I am about this book.  I think every person who loves to read needs to read this masterpiece.

Colleen Hoover with Hopeless has absolutely changed the way I read books.  It is the standard for which I grade every other book with and nothing has yet to compare for me.  Ever.

Hopeless starts by introducing Sky, a teenage girl who has been sheltered her entire life.  I'm talking seriously sheltered, no cell phone, no computer or Internet access and absolutely no TV, but surprisingly she harbors no resentment towards her mother for this lifestyle.  Her only friend is leaving to study abroad in Europe just days before she is slated to begin her first day ever at a public school, she grew up being homeschooled.

And let's not forget about Holder, upon being introduced, you learn he is the ultimate good looking, seriously bad boy with a shady past and a great sense of humor.  He is passionate yet you find yourself just as frustrated with him as Sky, not understanding his ever present mood swings.  I was constantly racking my brain trying to figure out what made him tick, what set him off.  Does he care for Sky or has whatever he keeps hidden from his past ruined him?

Sky and Holder have a strong connection and intense feelings neither one can deny nor do they seem capable of facing them.  Colleen's writing links you emotionally with Sky, she allows you to feel and experience everything Sky does.  There were times I found myself laughing out loud, not just a chuckle but genuine laughter.  Then in a matter of a couple of pages real tears were running down my face!  This story is an emotional roller coaster and you don't even see the falls, twists and turns that Colleen throws at you!  I can tell you I was shocked as all the details of this story poured out and the pieces of the puzzle were put together.  This is a tragically beautiful story about first love, finding yourself and confronting the demons of your past.  Yes, Colleen you are seriously brilliant!  God gifted you with an amazing imagination and then paired it with the gift of story telling.

Sky and Holder's story invoked so many consuming thoughts and feelings that I'm still thinking about it now, six months since I first read the book!  This is not just a book but a journey.  Fortunately for us Losing Hope a companion book to Hopeless told from Holder's POV comes out in July and I have no doubt it will be just as amazing.  Check back next month for our review of Losing Hope.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Flat Out Love, by Jessica Park

4.3 out of 5 stars

Flat Out Love is the story of freshman college student Julie Seagle.  Upon her arrival to Boston from Ohio, Julie’s craigslist apartment turns out to be a scam.  Her mother immediately calls on her college friend, Erin Watkins for help.  Julie moves in with the Watkins family, a family she has never met before and who has a very “Big Bang Theory” feel to their home.

Each member of the Watkins family has their own quirky qualities, which undoubtedly I love.  Celeste, the youngest daughter of the Watkins, age 13, is especially unique as she insists on carrying around a cardboard cutout of her oldest brother, while he is traveling the world.  She does this because she misses him so much and she wants him to continue being a part of the family while he is gone.  While Finn comes across as the hysterically funny world traveler without any seemingly responsibilities, Matt, her other brother, is a MIT student who basically eats, sleeps, studies and takes care of Celeste, acting like more of a parent than their actual parents.  Flat Finn is as much of a "real" person as everyone else in Boston and you will find yourself as attached to him as Celeste.  I especially loved the interactions with Julie and Celeste and I appreciated how easily Julie accepts and loves this family just as they appear, strange tendencies and all.

This is a moving love story that encompassed me.  There are parts of this story that had me laughing out loud and there were parts of the story where I wanted to scream out in frustration towards Julie to put the pieces together before her cozy status as a surrogate Watkins family member came tumbling down.  Normally book boyfriends are written as physically fit, drop dead gorgeous and confident so you are pleasantly surprised to find yourself falling and rooting for shy geeky Matt to profess his feelings and win Julie's heart.  I can honestly say I was truly sad when the story ended because I grew to love Julie and the entire Watkins family and I just wanted to read more about them.  (Obviously, I am super excited for Flat Out Matt, a companion novella to Flat Out Love!)   Matt, Julie and Celeste worked hard to overcome their pasts and choose to live for their futures.  Jessica Park is an exceptional author and I highly recommend this book.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Real, by Katy Evans

4.3 out of 5 stars

Brooke Dumas and Remington Tate meet at an underground fight when Brooke catches Remy’s eye from the ring.  Remy is a fighter and Brooke is scared to live her life and take any risks.  

I loved the story of the personal issues and struggles that each character faced.  I truly fell in love with the characters, although, I found myself irritated with Brooke through a lot of the book.  Remington is caring and loving but also has issues with his mental health and sometimes even anger management.  Katy writes this story with so much emotion and gives Remy such depth that as a reader you cannot help but feel his emotions and agonize with him.  I truly thought this was a great book with an excellent plot and character development.  The only thing I disliked was sometimes feeling like Katy overwhelmed me with descriptive details.  I love details and enjoy the picture they paint but sometimes so many details can end up taking away from the story.  Details aside I recommend you jump on this story's emotional roller coaster, its a ride you don't want to miss.

Tangled (The Tangled Series), by Emma Chase

5 out of 5 stars

This story is told completely from a male's (Drew) point of view. It was refreshingly funny and I was hooked before the first chapter even ended! Drew is the ultimate bachelor - smart, good looking, driven, passionate, wealthy, cocky, witty and absolutely loveable.

Drew tells his story and makes no apologies for the kind of man he was or has become. His story starts while he's sick with the flu, "At least I'm pretty sure that's what I have. That's why I've been holed up in my apartment the last seven days. That's why I turned my phone off, why I've gotten off the couch only to use the bathroom or to bring in the food I order from the delivery guy." It's not until his sister Alexandra "The Bitch" shows up and forces him to open his door does he finally admit the truth, "It finally happened....What you've been wishing on me all these years, I whisper. I fell in love."

Thus begins Drew's story, the story of how he feel in love with Katherine Brooks and of how very thin the line between love and hate really is. Will Drew be able to grow up and become the man Kate deserves? Will he choose to fight for something that doesn't come easily?

"Women fall in love quicker than men. Easier and more often. But when guys fall? We go down harder. And when things go bad? When it's not us who ends it? We don't get to walk away. We crawl."

Tangled is a must-read. It's funny, it's hot and so addictive you'll be hooked quicker than you think. I started and didn't put it down until the last page was turned!  Emma Chase is a brilliant author who completely nails a male perspective, so much so you're going to wonder if she's a mind reader???  This is a must-read and I promise you don't want to miss out on it.

Lost in You, by Heidi McLaughlin

3.5 out of 5 stars

Does it matter if love doesn’t know your age?

Lost in you is a story about falling in love and the struggles, which also come along, when it happens and the timing just isn’t right.

Even though being a pop star has given Hadley anything money can buy what she wants most is true love.  Someone to share her life with, someone who sees past her fame and simply loves, someone for her to love in return.

Ryan has been sheltered his whole life.  He lives each day one at a time counting them down till the one where he’ll turn 18 and can leave it all behind.  Falling in love never entered his mind so when it happens he doesn’t understand the rush of emotions he experiences nor does he have the confidence to navigate around his inexperience with girls.

I found myself frustrated and torn with this story, especially with the characters and how they dealt not only with each other but their lives.  For me the first part of the book was excellent.  I believed that they loved each other enough to overcome whatever obstacles life threw at them, even though I knew eventually something would come to try and tear them apart.

I enjoyed watching that curveball be thrown at their relationship and I loved watching each character deal with the consequences.  However, I felt like Heidi really rushed the last part of the story and even though Hadley and Ryan get their HEA I was left disappointed.  As a reader I would like to have seen more of their individual growth as opposed to just being told in a very brief synopsis.  I think maybe because I didn’t get to experience it I didn’t really find myself happy for them.  I would have also like to of seen more of their story after they re-united.  Perhaps with an epilogue or a chapter of reflection from each character.  Overall the ending was rushed and after watching both Hadley and Ryan struggle for so long when they finally did get back together it felt as though something was missing.

All of these things aside Heidi is an excellent writer and I had no problem loosing myself in the book.  I always enjoy it when authors allow readers to be able to see inside each character’s mind.    

Paris Love Match, by Nigel Blackwell

3.0 out of 5 stars

A suspenseful and thrilling story with a touch of humor and romance…

Paris Love Match follows two strangers, Piers and Sydney, who are accidentally thrown together as targets when a bleeding man being chased by the mob jumps into a cab they have already been fighting over.  The story continues following Piers and Sydney as they work together to not only stay alive but also recover the stolen goods they were wrongfully accused of taking.

Overall this was a very entertaining read.  Nigel’s writing is very easy to follow and before you realize it you’re vested in the book wanting to know what crazy stunt Piers and Sydney are going to pull next.  I enjoyed the characters back and forth banter between each other as well as glimpses into each one’s thoughts.  However, it wasn’t enough for me to fall in love with either one individually or as a couple.  In the end, I thought it was a fun read, just not something that left me wanting to read again and again.  I always enjoy it when I am emotionally connected to the characters but with Paris Love Match it just didn’t happen, which is the main reason it only gets 3 stars.