Monday, October 31, 2016

somewhat scientific: infinity by jus accardo

it took me a while to get into infinity, the first book in the infinity division series by jus accardo. it wasn't until cade and noah actually started filling in the back story that it really caught my interest. and part of me wonders if the bonus pov scene included at the end would have maybe worked better as a prologue. because even though we would have been very confused, i feel like it would have upped the stakes for the story in a way that the first couple of chapters needed.

but maybe the author tried that and it didn't work. regardless, once this story gets going it's good. noah and cade belong to another world, and in their world kori armstrong is dead. she was the love of cade's life and noah's sister. and she is in danger because dylan, also from the same alternate world as noah and cade, is out to kill her. in the guy's original timeline, dylan's love, ava harris, died in a car accident while cade was driving. and dylan wants her back at any cost. he's willing to destroy everything and anyone who gets in his path.

to save her life, kori joins forces with noah and cade in order to stop dylan. in the process she learns that there are so many infinite possibilities and struggles with the fact that she feels cheated by her reality without a noah and a cade. the intensity of their mission forces the characters to place trust in one another and open themselves to finding that they care about what happens to each other. it's not just kori's life they are trying to save. they don't manage to save everyone, and as dylan keeps changing the rules of the game he is playing, the stakes keep getting higher.

and as the novel comes to a close, it's with the promise of so much more. and believe me i am interested in seeing where it goes.

**infinity will publish on november 1, 2016. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/entangled publishing in exchange for my honest review. 

Sunday, October 30, 2016

seriously romantic: maybe this time by jennifer snow

the second colorado ice novel, maybe this time, tells the story of jackson westmore and abigail jansen. she's the girl he's always wanted, his best friend's girl, the girl he's never felt he deserved. she thinks he hates her because for as long as she can remember he's treated her with disdain.

these two souls have their communication wires crossed so badly, it's a little bit painful. again this is a second-chance at love story, which aren't my favorite, and i think it's because i do not understand these characters who hold onto grudges and feelings from their pasts as if they happened yesterday. that is so not who i am. and i find it sort of exhausting. so the whole first half of the book abigail is under the impression that jackson hates her and jackson is terrified that she will discover the truth and constantly putting his foot in his mouth.

it's not until becky, jackson's sister, spells it out for abigail that any progress is made. and jackson finally gets over some of his hang ups and finally starts trying to go after what he wants. jackson is so sweet and adorable and gruff and clueless. you just want to give him a hug. but he's also kind of a pushover so you want to smack him and say "dude, stand up for yourself, stop being so wishy-washy and go for what you want."

in the end these two crazy kids figure it all out, and it's very bittersweet and emotional. i did feel like there were a couple of threads that could have been further developed, but in the end, this was a nice, contemporary sports romance.

**maybe this time will publish on november 29, 2016. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/forever (grand central publishing) in exchange for my honest review.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

seriously romantic: let it snow by jeanette gray

i'm a sucker for a holiday novella, as i believe has been established by prior posts. in let it snow we have the stranded by blizzard holiday trope and the good news is that it's not two people who have never met. sam and holly have been flirting on the job for a while, so when their boss leaves them to close the small bookshop at midnight the night before christmas eve, being trapped in the store by a blizzard gives them an opportunity to explore all that tension simmering between them.

holly is a bit of a geek and she's got a lot of baggage that makes her feel unworthy of most things. so she doesn't trust the attraction that sam feels as something real. not until he bares his own insecurities. the amount of sharing, the quick pace of the unburdening might not have worked had the characters actually been strangers, so i'm glad the author avoided that particular trope. because here we get an unexpectedly emotional and deep story. one that works in spite of the short format.

holly and sam clearly have a ton of chemistry and they take advantage of being all alone in the bookstore. this is a short but sweet holiday read. a great thing to pick up if you need a bit of brightening leading up to the holidays. also the sneak peak to grey's next full length novel, nine kinds of naughty, is so good, i'm sad that it's not releasing until february 2017.

**let it snow will publish on november 1, 2016. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/ forever (grand central publishing) in exchange for my honest review.

Friday, October 28, 2016

simply running out

of time, of words, of energy.

life is a whirlwind, y'all. and today i am giving in.

i need to stop and veg for a while. just a little while.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

something from the archives: without color - part 1

so this is an alternate universe fic. michael is an artist and liz is blind and it's the contrast between someone who sees the world in technicolor and someone who is trapped in darkness that fuels the story. i was really proud of this fic at the time. i actually think it held up pretty well.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

seriously romantic: to the edge by anna del mar

to the edge is the second book in the at the brink series. but it is a standalone and there is no requirement that you read the series in order, since i had no trouble following the story without the first book. to the edge is about clara luz and noah blake. they fell in love as teenagers but were separated by clara's mother before things could get too serious. except it was already too serious.

in the intervening years, noah and clara do not forget each other. they also suffer emotional and physical trauma. clara's mother is a state senator, and she has controlled clara's life since the moment she was conceived. clara works for her mother's foundation, but bucks against the restraints kept on her by running a successful sex blog. when a fellow blogger encourages her to try bdsm for an article that could provide greater exposure to clara's blog, clara jumps into the scene without thinking twice.

but when her first encounter goes badly, she is rescued by noah. she hadn't seen him since they were teenagers and she believes he left her without a word. meanwhile, noah was told to stay away from clara or else, an order he wouldn't have obeyed had he not believed that clara was indifferent. that first meeting was shocking to both of them. but it also proves that the sparks are still there.

and when clara asks noah to be her new dom, he can't bring himself to say no. and so they both explore their relationship. and they both look for ways to heal from the trauma that keeps them from fully committing to one another. the book explores ptsd and sexual and emotional trauma, and how alternative lifestyles can be healing. and even more than that how lowering all your walls and allowing someone else to see what makes you vulnerable can be healing.

at the end, clara and noah find a way to be together in spite of all the obstacles.

**to the edge will publish on november 14, 2016. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/carina press in exchange for my honest review. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

seriously romantic: beneath the shadows by meghan march

the sixth book of the beneath series takes on bishop--the brooding tattoo artist first introduced in beneath these chains--and eden--a mob princess on the run from something, problem is, she's not entirely sure what that is. [full disclosure: i was not that enamored of the last installment of the series, for some reason i failed to connect with valentina and rix, and i'm still dying to get to hennessey's story, which rumor has is the next one up.] but beneath these shadows might be my new favorite. it's kind of a toss up, beneath these scars is so good too. it's hard for anyone to live up to lucas titan in the alpha hero department, but bishop does a pretty amazing job of it.

bishop whose last name i'm not entirely sure of. if it comes up somewhere in the book it's not a memorable moment, and for some reason i keep thinking of him as bishop connors but i also am aware that i totally made that up. for some reason that's the last name my brain keeps giving him. anyway, bishop is a lumbersexual who would despise being told that's what he is. he's got the man bun and the beard and the giant frame and the tattoos and the broody personality. bishop's thing is that he doesn't get involved. he never lets anyone get close, because he's already lost too much and the truth is his heart can't take losing more.

but when eden swoops into town and keeps running into trouble and crossing his path, he can't stop himself from saving her. he can't stop himself from thinking about her. and when it comes right down to it, he can't stop himself from tasting her. the chemistry between these two leads is crazy hot. eden is sheltered and naive and unworldly, and bishop definitely sets out to help corrupt her, but there is a sweetness to their relationship that makes their story that much more emotional and deep.

i also loved that what came between them at the end wasn't some crazy misunderstanding, because that is sometimes a trope that is so overused in romance novels. there was never a doubt about their relationship and the strength of their love, even when they were keeping secrets from one another. the only thing that came between them was distance when eden was kidnapped, but you know bishop would leave no stone unturned at get her back. and that let them get through all the revelations in record time, because the stakes were too high to worry about petty shit.

i like that they get their happy ending, but still take things slowly. it seems just right for them.

Monday, October 24, 2016

strictly literary: the nest by cynthia d'aprix sweeney

a couple of my friends recommended the nest, likening it to a literary arrested development. and to an extent the plumb family is very much like the bluths. except possibly a million times less likeable. they are just as entitled, just as narcissistic, but there is an undercurrent of love and affection in the television show that is not really present in the novel.

part of the problem is that so much of the narrative revolves around leo plumb--someone so selfish and self-destructive, so incapable of putting anything but his own self-interest first. we don't ever really see the leo that is kind and charismatic, the one who tricks people into thinking there is more to him than meets the eye. we are first introduced to him the night of his car accident, and that unflattering image sticks to him throughout the novel, even as his siblings try to find something worth believing in him. but leo is leo. he's got nothing to give to anyone, and yet somehow he still fools people into thinking he does.

the sibling relationships here do not resemble my sibling relationships at all. probably because we are real people who have no money to fight over. but the overall lack of interest in one another--which did actually improve over the course of the novel--felt so alien to me. i may not always get along with my siblings. but there is no doubt that we love each other. but here you wonder if the plumbs feel anything for each other than mild contempt. it's a very weird family to spend time with, because they are so unfamiliar to each other. and like i said, this does improve throughout the novel, but in small degrees. they don't change fundamentally.

in the end, i did enjoy reading this. i'm just not sure i liked it. which is a weird headspace to be in. some questions were left unresolved, but not in a way that made you feel like you still wanted more to the story, just in the why didn't the author answer this particular question more clearly. if she wanted things to be left open-ended that was one thing, but it didn't feel that way, really. it felt more like she forgot to tie up some of those loose ends. which is a disconcerting way to feel when you finish a  novel.

i suppose i have to say that in the battle of which family i'd rather spend time with i prefer the bluths to the plumbs. there's just a bit more fun to be had with the bluths.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

seriously romantic: the accidental elopement by maggie dallen

the accidental elopement feels somewhat inaccurately titled because the elopement happened on purpose. lucia brunelli proposed the marriage of convenience and she proposes running off to vegas to do it. ryan goes along with it because he's trying to get revenge on lucia's friend daniel, because way back when daniel took over his father's business and his family lost everything. and his brother and mother are still bitter and are being assholes about it and ryan wants to get revenge with minimal casualties.

actually he doesn't really want to get revenge because a part of him knows that it would be an insane thing to do, because obviously his father is at fault for the failures of his company and the financial ruin of the family. ryan isn't insane. he's actually a really nice guy who goes out of his way to help and protect lucia when he thinks she's a girl who has fallen on hard times and is in the u.s. illegally. and when they do get married and all the stuff comes out about his family, he owns up to it and is a decent and normal human being about the whole thing. he also admits his feelings for lucia way more easily than she does.

lucia on the other hand is a bit more of a challenge to like. she's a spoiled rich girl and her problems are totally #firstworldproblems. but at the same time she never doubts ryan's essential goodness. she only freaks out about having feelings for him and his feelings for her because everything happens mega-quickly. and she had career plans and life goals that didn't factor in falling in love with someone.

but these two crazy kids do love each other. so the misunderstandings and freak outs and craziness all gets worked out in the end. this is the third book in a series, and while it does stand alone, i think you miss a bit of character development, if you haven't read the previous two novels in the series, especially for lucia and some of the other secondary characters.

**the accidental elopement will publish on november 22, 2016. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/kensington books (lyrical shine) in exchange for my honest review. 

Saturday, October 22, 2016

simply 11 years

so i was researching what our eleven year anniversary would be, and it turns out it is our steel anniversary. and ever since i discovered that i can't get this out of my head:

(obviously the blue steel look is the one i'm thinking of, but all of the looks are hilarious and worth taking a gander at.)

Friday, October 21, 2016

seriously romantic: falling for the girl next door by tera lynn childs

falling for the girl next door is the second book in sloane and tru's story. when i picked this book up i wasn't really aware of that fact. it's also the fifth book in the creative hearts series, which just feels a bit confusing. like maybe the author is trying to build up a high school series like the sweet valley high books? maybe teens are on the look out for things like that?

while i hadn't read the first book, it didn't really matter because the first couple of chapters recap a lot of the stuff that happened in the first book. while i found it useful to have the background i also struggled with finding this recap stuff interesting. and if i was new to the series and not interested really, how bad would it be for a returning reader?

another thing i wasn't sure of, though i'm sure this is continuing the style of the earlier books, was that sloane's perspective took place in the first person. tru's perspective took place in third person. why do we need that shift in perspectives? i didn't mind the alternating viewpoints, but the shift from first person to third really got on my nerves for some reason.

i'm not sure why there was a sequel to sloane and tru's story from the first book. perhaps some of tru's issues hadn't been fully resolved, and they do take care of that here. but other than that, sloane and tru were working through stuff in their relationship. and they both were dealing with some serious family drama. and things mostly got resolved.

this was a perfectly fine read, but i'm not sure i'm interested enough to go back and catch up on the series.

**falling for the girl next door will publish on november 14, 2016. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/entangled publishing (crush) in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

something from the archives: headlong - parts 10a & 10b

so when i started writing this story i was so sure i would just be happy to put liz and michael together, because that's what i always did. but then as i wrote it i became more and more conflicted. i liked the kyle i created and liz did too. so i decided i would write alternate endings. either way liz ended up happy with one of the guys, and since she was my absolute favorite character it worked for me.

you can catch up with the earlier parts at the links: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9. and choose your own adventures for parts 10a and 10b after the jump.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

seriously romantic: the bad boy bargain by kendra c. highley

faith gladwell is a good girl. she's driven by her passion for theater and dance, and is not quite happy in her relationship with a handsy football player as the bad boy bargain opens. meanwhile kyle sawyer has done everything in his power to cultivate the image of a bad boy. but he's a bad boy with secrets, his biggest one being that he is in no way, shape or form a bad boy--the rumors about him at school are just that. rumors.

when faith's handsy boyfriend cheats on her at a party and publicly dumps her and starts spreading rumors about how she is a cold-hearted bitch, she knows she has to do something to take control of the situation. it just so happens that another of kyle's secrets is that he owns a successful gardening and landscaping business and he has been hired by faith's mother to re-do their yard. when faith proposes faking a relationship to change the narrative, kyle agrees in spite of himself. he and cameron have a history, one that informs who the person kyle pretends to be in the present day.

as faith and kyle get to know each other a couple of things happen. one, they have crazy chemistry, faith is stunned by how attracted she is to kyle. she had never had any interest in sex with cameron, but with kyle things are different. kyle is just as attracted to faith, except he is actually terrified, because contrary to the relationship rumors he has cultivated at school, he has no relationship history and faith is the first person he's wanted to pursue something with since middle school. two, both faith and kyle struggle with insecurities and trust. this feels so authentic to me. they misinterpret each other's silences and miscommunicate all the time, but it's because they feel too much, too strongly. and it's terrifying to trust your heart in someone else's hands. especially when you've been burned before.

when kyle comes through for faith in a really big way, he tears down the pieces of armor that had been helping him cope with school and his insecurities. in the end this is a super sweet young adult romance. i loved faith and kyle and i loved their story.

**the bad boy bargain will publish on november 14, 2016. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/entangled teen (crush) in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

seriously romantic: at last by addison fox

at last kicks of a series about three foster brothers who live in the fictional area of brooklyn called park heights. park heights basically functions like a small town within the framework of a larger city, which is weird because in a way this story could have been set anywhere. unlike most new york stories, the city wasn't an actual character in the novel. in at last local boy, nick kelley, former NFL player and up-and-coming bar owner is looking to expand his business by buying the union brewery.

meanwhile, emma vandenburg bradley returns home after a bitter divorce only to find that her father is selling her legacy to her former high school crush. she has all this unresolved drama from her marriage and divorce and miscarriage that it sometimes feels like we never fully get to figure out what makes emma tick. we spend more time getting to the bottom of nick's.

as part of a compromise for the brewery nick agrees to apprentice to emma, at the end of three months if he passes the same brewmaster's test she did, nick will get the brewery. and as they spend time together the attraction between them flourishes. and while their love story is at the heart of at last, it's not the only story being told. we also follow nick's adoptive mother louisa, and his foster brothers, landon and fender, as well as emma's friend holly and nic's friend hector. i'm imagining some of the threads begun in this novel will continue through the other ones as the setting of park heights does play an important role in the novel (it's just the new york city thing that isn't important).

the supporting characters play a strong role in this one, and maybe because the novel was so intent on establishing the unconventional family unit, at times you wondered if nick and emma were being short-changed. in the end their story is sweet, i wish a bit more time would have been spent on when their relationship was really good, because it takes them a while to get there and then things are in flux rather quickly. but it all works out in the end of course.

**at last will publish on november 1, 2016. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/st. martin's press (swerve) in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, October 17, 2016

seriously romantic: all the ways you saved me by jamie howard

in this new adult romance, bianca easton is a senator's daughter who has always toed the line and never put a step wrong. in all the ways you saved me she doesn't actually put a step wrong. all she does is stay in new york after graduating law school. but deviating from her parents' plans for her is apparently unforgivable. she chooses to stay after graduation when her friend, renée is killed in a car accident. renée had a bucket list and as a way to honor and remember her, bianca decides to finish crossing off all the items on the list.

used to being the good girl, some of the items are a bit of a stretch. so bianca decides to start small. buying coffee for the next person in line at a local coffee shop. she's not sure about the intent behind renée's task, but she fulfills it nonetheless. and this is how she meets ian, she buys him a coffee and gives it to him no strings attached. ian is a bit weird about it. but he feels compelled to seek her out the next time she's in the coffee shop. and then when she tells him about the list he decides to help her out with crossing things off.

as they start spending time together, they go through a series of ups and downs mostly caused by ian's inability to share more of himself. he's closed off, and we slowly start to get his story through a series of flashback chapters. i'm not sure this was the most effective way to tell this story, because we see who ian was eight years ago and read about his love story with maggie. so while he develops a relationship with bianca in the present day you know that there is a story of loss waiting in the wings.

i think it would have been more compelling to see him work through his guilt and grief in a more immediate sense, without also having to see him fall in love and get married to his first love. it's just really weird. like you are getting two stories for the price of one.

this isn't bad, i quite enjoyed it. i liked ian and his family and bianca and her friend harper a lot. there were a lot of dead characters in the story and i'm not sure the author did a good enough job dealing with the loss and grief and guilt and anger and hurt that those events would have caused in the characters' psyches, but as a story about love the book mostly worked. as an exploration of life after loss, i'm not sure it did.

**all the ways you saved me will publish on november 1, 2016. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/st. martin's press (swerve) in exchange for my honest review. 

Sunday, October 16, 2016

seriously romantic: crossed by ally condie

crossed is the second novel in the matched trilogy. narrated by both ky and cassia we see the world beyond the confines of the society. as both ky and cassia navigate life in the outer provinces, where the society is barely fighting a war that never ends, using the endless bombings to eliminate the aberrations and anomalies present in society.

when ky sees a chance to escape into the carving, a canyon where anomalies, who actually go by the term farmers, are said to leave he does. his only goal is making sure he has a chance to see cassia again. cassia has been sent to a work camp, but when she sees the chance to get to the outer provinces, she does. even though she has to pretend to be an aberration to do it. and once there, she learns of ky's escape into the carving, so she follows him there.

and even though it takes a while, they do meet up again. and though they still love each other, they are not necessarily on the same page. one thing cassia has learned is that there is a rebellion, and she wants to join it. but ky grew up with a father who was part of the rebellion, and he doesn't trust them to save anyone. he only trusts the love he has for cassia. everything else is ephemeral.

cassia lives on hope in a way ky doesn't. he sees reasons to be skeptical, but cassia looks for the good in people. this is part of the push-pull of their relationship. cassia sees the good, and ky sees where it can all fall to pieces. but they love each other so much still. no matter what it is clear that they will do anything, go through anything to be together. and so wherever cassia goes ky will follow, and wherever ky goes cassia will follow.

the expanded world is interesting, and once ky and cassia make it to the rebellion it is clear that the next part will deal with how they will take everything that the society stands for apart. and i can't wait to see that.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

seriously romantic: the untouchable earl by amy sandas

book 2 of the fallen ladies series, the untouchable earl, takes its title literally. avenell slade, the earl of harte, cannot bear to be touched. he can barely handle the feeling of clothes rubbing against his skin. so he very obviously has intimacy issues. it's only with the help of the renowned madam  pendragon that he is able to desensitize himself enough to handle going out in society. the most unexpected touch can cause him unmentionable pain and he's built up his defenses specifically to avoid situations that could cause him torment.

but when he meets lily chadwick, from the first moment he sees her across the room he feels the spark. he knows instinctively that she makes him feel more than he ever thought possible. being with her could be life-altering if only he let himself trust her. because perhaps her touch will give him more pleasure than pain. he resists knowing her from the outset, and it's only when he finds himself forced to save her after she is kidnapped by a moneylender and put up for private auction by the infamous madam pendragon, that he allows himself to get close.

when avenell saves her, lily sees her chance to explore the feelings that surge within her whenever she finds herself around him. she suspects that being with avenell could be immensely pleasureable. ever since she read her former governess' stash of erotic novels, she's wanted to experience the things she's read about firsthand. so she strikes a deal. she will become his mistress. she is ready and willing. and then avenell makes her wait.

for a long time he doesn't reveal his affliction. and eventually lily puts it together, although it almost takes her too long. there is a lot of foreplay in this novel, and maybe not enough follow through? it just felt like maybe the pacing was off. i think maybe it would have been better to have avenell admit his problem to lily much earlier in the novel, and to have them work together to figure out how to find pleasure together. i enjoyed their story, but i think that more depth could have been added to elevate it. but it's fair to say that this is a pretty enjoyable regency with some unexpected plot twists.

one thing that the copy i received didn't have was an author's note explaining what avenell's affliction was in modern medical terms. maybe the author made it up, but maybe she didn't. it would have been nice to know if there was a scientific basis for his problem or not, and what historical records show about how similar patients would have been treated. i always enjoy when fiction contextualizes historical reality. but i'm also a lit nerd.

**the untouchable earl will be published on november 1, 2016. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/sourcebooks casablanca in exchange for my honest review.

Friday, October 14, 2016

seriously romantic: in bed with the billionaire by jackie ashenden

in bed with the billionaire is the fifth and final book in the nine circles series by jackie ashenden. i haven't read the other books in the series, but that isn't necessary since this books fills in the blanks as needed. my guess is that both temple and theo/jericho played min
or and possibly villainous roles in the previous novels, and it is fitting that they are the couple that ties the whole thing together in the end.

temple is a hired assassin, and there's a contract on jericho's life, a contract that she is meant to fill after she does the one thing that has driven her to this point. she wants to know what happened to her sister, thalia. all she knows is that she ended up being sold to jericho, and after that nothing. she wants to find her and atone for the past, and she believes that she can get the information she needs from jericho and that she will derive pleasure from finally besting him.

except things don't go according to plan. jericho is more dangerous than temple gives him credit for. he is so broken, he is a man at the end of his rope. because the deep dark secret jericho carries, the deep dark secret that consumes theo is that he has built this criminal empire up in order to tear it down. he doesn't expect to be attracter to temple. no woman has caught his eye in years. and this attraction is most certainly a mistake. he knows she is more than what she claims to be.

he knows how to tear down her walls, because they are equals and they are the same. their damage is the same. they have blackened their souls for one purpose, and when that purpose doesn't end up the way the expect, then maybe they'll at least have each other.

the way it all unravels in the end is very satisfying. these two characters have a chemistry and connection that is not just steamy but so emotional. they are so far at the end of their rope that everything is raw and painful and so full of love that they can't even see it. these two are so broken, it makes sense that they would find redemption in each other. it's so worth it. even with the ridiculous title, one that actually makes this book seem more frivolous than it is. this is a romantic thriller not a harlequin presents, i wish people were better at titles sometimes.

**in bed with the billionaire will publish on november 1, 2016. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/st. martin's press in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

something from the archives: headlong - part 9

i''m remembering this story a bit more as i've posted it and as much as i was always a liz and michael fan, i had conflicting feelings about how to end this one. in fact i'm pretty sure that i wrote two endings for it. i can only find one preserved on the internets, but i will probably just rewrite part 10 again to account for both endings. anyway, catch up with parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 at the links. part 9 follows the jump.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

somewhat scientific: everything belongs to the future by laurie penny

everything belongs to the future takes place in a future where the elite have eliminated the need to age. but there is a rebel group ready to undermine it all. when they meet up with daisy, the original scientist who discovered the fix. they plan a way to make a generic version of the fix.

this proves harder than daisy originally assumes, she needs a recently deceased fixed corpse, and given that the fix is something that stops the aging process, those are a little hard to come by. but she does figure out a way to reverse the effects of the switch.

the rebels plot an attack. but they don't realize they have a mole. we know who the mole is. things go haywire and everything falls apart. but they still manage their attack.

in the end things are bleak. it's a pretty short read, a novella really. there isn't a ton of room for world-building, but the author does a decent job of it in the time she has. we only really get to know the rebels, and that's okay. they're an interesting group. but you don't really know them deeply. in the end they are still somehow mysteries. partly this is because this is an issues story.

so it's actually based on the issue of consent when an undercover agent has sex with someone they are spying on. is it rape? it's clear that the author believes it to be rape in some way. but we also are given the other side. the agent who is a person and genuinely loves the mark. even if everything is a lie, there is also truth. but is that truth enough to make the lies forgivable?

the fact that this is the actual central question is kind of surprising, because you'd think it would be about not aging and the effect of putting off death indefinitely on society. but that isn't really the main thread. i mean, the author touches on this, but it's more about the relationship between the rebels and their mole.

**everything belongs in the future will publish on october 18, 2016. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/tor in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

seriously romantic: lessons in gravity by megan westfield

lessons in gravity is megan westfield's debut novel, a new adult romance that i picked up and couldn't put down until the last page was read. and then i regretted it because i wanted to spend more time with josh and april. this story is so sweet and emotional. both the leads have a lot of emotional baggage and heartache that they need to work through. april, in particular, is dealing with the aftereffects of her father's death. he had been a stunt pilot and died in front of her when an aerial stunt went badly.

after that she's sworn to never get close to another daredevil. but when she meets josh knox, master rock climber, the attraction is instantaneous. even worse they share a deep emotional connection. so in spite of all the reasons april should stay away from him, she doesn't. she can't.

the whole book i was kind of waiting for the other shoe to drop. you know it's going to happen, because the only way josh and april will make it is if april confronts her biggest fear. she is terrified to lose anyone. and when she almost loses josh on a climb she's not sure she can stand the idea of him risking his life again. this is a romance, so the characters work through it. and the way it is written is so moving and satisfying.

all the secondary characters in this were great too. and i loved the whole backdrop of the documentary crew. i would have kept reading about different shoots and life on set just because i liked everyone so much.

**lessons in gravity will publish on october 24, 2016. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/entangled publishing (embrace) in exchange for my honest review. 

Monday, October 10, 2016

seriously romantic: maybe this kiss by jennifer snow

the colorado ice series about the westmore family kicks off with maybe this kiss. this is a second-chance at love type story, which isn't always my favorite romance trope. neil healy has loved becky westmore since they were kids. he had hoped to marry her before he got his first overseas deployment, but she didn't want to be a military wife.

when she ends up as a cop's wife, widowed when a rescue mission goes wrong, her reluctance to be with someone with a risky career seems justified. but when neil comes back to glenwood falls after twelve years away, he finds that he can't keep away from becky. she's been the woman in his heart his whole life, and even though the reasons they broke up are still the same obstacles they face now.

neil knows he wants a life with becky, the story is more about becky deciding between a life without love, without neil or a life with neil that is colored by risk. in the end there is no choice right? how could you choose a life without love? it's better to spend whatever time you can with the ones you love rather than spending a life alone. risking heartbreak is terrifying, but even if you never take a chance on the relationship you're still heartbroken, and full of regret. so  obviously in the end, neil and becky work things out.

**maybe this kiss will publish on november 1, 2016. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/forever (grand central publishing) in exchange for my honest review. 

Sunday, October 9, 2016

seriously romantic: baron by joanna shupe

unlike my usual romance reads, baron doesn't take place in nineteenth century england. even though you might think it did from the title. the only baron in the novel is not the aristocratic kind, at least not in the conventional sense of the word. will sloane is a railroad baron rubbing shoulders with carnegie and astor in new york's gilded age. definitely a different time period for me, but it shares a lot of familiar social mores with regency and victorian society.

the late nineteenth century also saw an increased interest in spiritualism and the paranormal, . mediums cropped up all over the place, and most of them were charlatans. this sadly includes our heroine, ava jones, also known as madame zolikoff. she has turned to performance as a way to get her family out of the tenements, and her actual goal is to get her siblings out of the city. she dreams of buying a farm somewhere upstate and having room to breathe. but when her professional relationship with a client gets in the way of sloane's political aspirations, ava and will find themselves at odds.

of course, since it is a romance novel, they also can't stay away from each other. when they eventually give up the pretense of fighting and begin an illicit relationship, they can't stop themselves from feeling more. from the moment they meet they are well-matched. will has found the one woman who won't just cave to his dictates and ava has found someone who will respect and cherish her the way she deserves.

when scandal threatens everything, will and ava have to make a choice. and will's decision to go for broke finally wins her over. a good thing, because clearly the guy could do nothing else to convince her that he loved her and wanted to make their relationship work. and honestly it's always easier for the guy to marry down than the other way around, so there was no need for her to protest that much.

**baron will publish on october 25, 2016. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/kensington books/zebra in exchange for my honest review. 

Saturday, October 8, 2016

seriously romantic: the unexpected everything by morgan matson

at 500+ pages the unexpected everything is a "big" book. and i think the size intimidated me a bit because i had to borrow it twice from the library before i found the time to sit down and read it. but once i got caught up in the plot and with the characters i found myself breezing through the novel in just two marathon sessions.

the plot goes something like this, we meet alexandra "andie" walker on the day her father has to announce that he is taking a leave of absence from his congressional role due to allegations of misconduct. she and her father barely have a relationship, he's too busy avoiding anything that isn't work and she has her life carefully scripted to avoid getting close to people and any messy emotions. she has a group of friends she's known forever, and she's got plans to go to a pre-college program for students intending to major in pre-med. but with the scandal surrounding her father, her admission is revoked and suddenly she finds that she has to make a new plan.

here's the thing, the way this all goes down is super last minute and doesn't really make any sense. sure this had to happen to get the rest of the plot going, but i wish it had happened in a somewhat more believable manner. i mean, maybe people can revoke their letters of recommendation, but for the program to act so unilaterally seemed insane. especially since the revocation had nothing to do with andie the person and everything to do with her father's situation. that just seems like such a dick move from the recommendation letter revoker and the school. but like i said, this had to happen to keep andie in town.

so she ends up finding a job as a dog walker, which is so not what she wants to be doing. except she meets a cute guy named clark. and slowly she opens up to him. and as she opens up to him, she starts opening up to the other people in her life. and suddenly she's not in her bubble anymore. and this is a good thing. you really get to see andie grow as a person, and you get to see how her relationships expand and deepen as she lets herself be real with more people.

it's a wonderful story about friendship and family and surviving loss and first love. in the end, andie learns that sometimes it's okay to not have a plan, or at least it's okay to be open to amending the plan.

so this brings us to the end of ya week on my blog. that was fun!

Friday, October 7, 2016

seriously romantic: all laced up by erin fletcher

"toe pick!"

so when i read the synopsis for all laced up of course i flashed back to the greatest figure skating/hockey movie of all time, the cutting edge. granted the only thing the two things have in common is that the main characters are a figure skater and a hockey player. all laced up is a unique story, it is just as swoonworthy and romantic as the cutting edge.

lia bailey has skating in her blood. her dad was a famous hockey player and she's been on skates since she was a toddler. but since her father died, she's lost focus on the dream of being an olympic champion. somehow not having her dad around to cheer her on made it feel wrong to be out on the ice. especially knowing that he couldn't be on the ice either. when the skating rink she'd trained at forever asks her help in teaching a workshop to young kids in order to help keep the skating rink operational she agrees without second thought.

it's when she finds out her co-teacher will be star hockey player pierce miller that she balks. pierce has been the center of attention due to his skills on the ice, and lia is determined not to feed his huge ego. or at least what she thinks is his huge ego, because the truth is there is more to pierce than what lia assumes at first glance. sure he can be arrogant, but he is amazingly talented. but he'd also a genuinely good person, who actually is way more considerate of others than lia gives him credit for.

their first workshop is a disaster, and later that evening when lia realizes that pierce had a game that was a disaster for him she can't stop herself from commenting on the video of his last shot--the one that lost the game--with some constructive criticism. what she doesn't expect is for pierce to respond, and she is especially surprised when he responds with good humor and self-deprecation and a thoughtfulness she hadn't expected. from their they start corresponding online.

and getting to know pierce online opens lia's eyes to who the real pierce might be. and as they get to know each other in person, things start to get complicated. but in the best kind of way. how is it possible to find yourself in a romantic triangle with yourself? that's something lia will have to figure out. and pierce, what he does and doesn't know, i won't spoil, except to say that when it comes time for him to put together a grand romantic gesture, it's pretty amazing. and this is a solid young adult romance.

plus it gives me the chance to post this all time classic scene! toe pick!!

**all laced up will publish on october 10, 2016. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/entangled teen (crush) in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

seriously romantic: matched by ally condie

i read matched for the first time on a trip to hawaii. i lugged the huge hardcover books in my carry on and basically devoured the series while at the beach and on the plane and the spare moments we were hanging out in the hotel room. this is dystopian ya at its finest. i needed an audiobook for my drive to work, and i decided to read this series again.

the society that rules the world in matched believes in order and perfect matches. everything is programmed for optimal performance. your life span is predetermined for maximum enjoyment. cassia has never questioned the society before. she has been looking forward to her seventeenth birthday and to her matching banquet, and to her great happiness they take place on the same night.

when she is matched to her best friend, xander carrow she is happy but sad too, because she will never have the thrill of getting to know someone new. it's not necessarily fair, because she could have let their pairing let her see xander in a new light.  the thing is, she does try, but when she goes to look at the microchip, it's not just xander's face that she sees. a glitch occurs and she sees the face of someone else she knows, ky markham.

the society tries to explain this error away to cassia, but she can't help but feel drawn to ky. when they end up paired during their hiking leisure activities, they get closer and cassia begins to question the rules that the society has always operated under. the control is absolute, and rebelling could have disastrous consequences not just for cassia and ky, but also for their families.

but when your eyes open to injustice, when you've experienced something forbidden and suddenly realize what it means to feel alive, there is no turning back. an ordered existence can't be enough. but to reach the highest of the highs, you have to risk it all. and that is what cassia does, and where that will take her...

well, that's why there is crossed.

something from the archives: headlong - part 8

things get a little crazy in part 8, to see how they got there catch up with parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 at the links. to see what happens follow the jump.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

seriously romantic: how to keep a boy from kissing you by tara eglington

she speaks poniards, and every word stabs: if her 
breath were as terrible as her terminations, there 
were no living near her; she would infect to the north star
--much ado about nothing, act ii, scene 1, lines 248-251

aurora skye, the heroine of how to keep a boy from kissing you, reminded me a lot of georgia nicholson, though clearly less absurd/insane. but you can't tell me that tara eglington wasn't inspired by louise rennison, and with aurora she gives us a lead character worth rooting for.

there were so many reasons i enjoyed aurora: she is smart and funny, she loves her friends and genuinely tries helping them succeed in their romantic endeavors, she is idealistic about love but isn't willing to settle. aurora has her ideals, and yes maybe it's a little ridiculous that she's basing her ideals on sleeping beauty. (especially since one of the reasons she hasn't kissed any boy at all is because she has this idea of her first kiss being the one, where in the story whether or not this was sleeping beauty's first kiss was irrelevant, it needed to be "true love's kiss" so one could argue that it didn't matter how many guys kissed sleeping beauty as long as her true love did at some point she would be okay.)

anyway, aurora has this great group of friends, particularly cassie and jelena. as well as sara and lindsay. and she also has a nemesis. her neighbor, hayden paris, who has witnessed many an embarrassing end to a date and who knows more than anyone what her life was before her mom left, and what it's become since then. aurora can't help but think the worst of hayden every chance she gets. and he can't stop himself from needling her. but in between the arguments and the teasing, you can's help but wonder if maybe, just maybe aurora should stop being so hard on him. maybe hayden really does mean well.

when hayden and aurora are selected to play beatrice and benedick in their high school production of much ado about nothing after a private argument inadvertently turns into a public audition, aurora does her best to resist seeing hayden in a new light. even as beatrice opens her eyes to the fact that perhaps there is love behind benedick's actions, aurora refuses to give poor hayden a chance. she looks everywhere and at anyone else for something that exists right next door.

but watching aurora realize how she feels is really an enjoyable process. even when she is being stubborn, you totally get why she has all this emotional upheaval. her feelings for hayden are mixed up with her feelings about her parent's divorce, her estrangement from her mother, her father's recent commitment to new age ideals, and her determination to stick to her find a prince program (tm).

the novel echoes some of the themes from shakespeare's play but overall it's a story about friendship and trusting your instincts about people and learning how to recognize what true love is. it's a really sweet novel, and i look forward to seeing more of aurora skye in the next novel in the series, how to convince a boy to kiss you which i believe is scheduled to publish in 2017.

**how to keep a boy from kissing you will publish on october 25, 2016. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/st. martin's press in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

strictly literary: the best possible answer by e. katherine kottaras

viviana rabinovich-lowe is in trouble. everything in her life has fallen apart and it doesn't seem like there will be a way to put it together, at least not the way it was. the only way forward for vivi will be to accept that everything she planned for has been changed, but that those changes don't mean that she has lost control of her life. it just means that she needs to forge a new way forward. the best possible answer lets us see how vivi finds her way, how she regains her strength and how she comes to terms with her past. she learns that it doesn't need to define her.

vivi is dealing with some pretty heavy stuff, her ex betrayed her trust and shared a sext that should have remained private. her parents marriage has been under severe strain and there are secrets her parents have been keeping that alter her sense of self to the most basic level. when the people closest to you have proven themselves untrustworthy how do you let people in again? the only two people in vivi's life that have been there for her are her best friend, sammie, and her baby sister, mila.

but vivi needs to share her burdens. the pressure of holding everything in is causing severe panic attacks. and there's evan, a boy she has a history with, who wants to get closer to her, and who she is too afraid to trust. learning to let go, stopping to breathe, letting people in, that's what vivi's journey in this book is about. and it's beautifully told. i can't even imagine dealing with some of the things that vivi faces, and the triumph is that she comes through it at the other side. how the people around her help her, that's the story. one very much worth reading, so i'm not going to say anymore.

**the best possible answer will publish on november 1, 2016. i received an advanced reader copy courtesy of netgalley/st. martin's press in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, October 3, 2016

strictly literary: we are still tornadoes by michael kun and susan mullen

i'm a sucker for an epistolary novel, possibly because it just reminds me of a different time, when letters were the easiest way to share your thoughts with friends across long distances. in we are still tornadoes it is 1982, and catherine osteen and scott agee are childhood friends who are separated when she goes off to college and he stays home working at his dad's clothing store and starting a band.

the letters are spaced out over the course of their first year apart, and follows the ups and downs of long distance correspondence. the misunderstandings that arise when you aren't communicating face-to-face. the way words can offer hope, comfort and love, and yet also cut you to the quick. how you can be brave and write things that you might never say otherwise.

even though all the action takes place through the letters, the authors do a good job of informing us about what is happening off-screen. both cath and scott are dealing with their share of heavy things as well as their own insecurities and hang-ups, and the letters allow us to see how they work through these things together. and we also see how they grow up as they experience life after high school and how that changes things, but through it all they are also still cath and scott, best friends, tornadoes. (it's an inside joke, but you'll have to read the book to get in on it.)

it being 1982 makes sense for the epistolary nature of the story, but also because music informs this novel incredibly. scott loves music. he starts up a band. he writes songs and shares his lyrics with cath. both scott and cath love to share their thoughts about the music being released, and looking back, it was an incredible time for music. it's the über 80s—so many songs that would define the decade were released that year.

**we are still tornadoes will publish on november 1, 2016. i received an advanced reader copy courtesy of netgalley/st. martin's press in exchange for my honest review.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

seriously romantic: p.s. i like you by kasie west

so this first full week of october, i'm going to focus exclusively on young adult fiction, some recently published, some upcoming releases. i don't know if there is a young adult week out there in the blog-o-sphere, but in my little corner that's what we're celebrating. and to kick it off i thought i'd start with kasie west's p.s. i like you. which is a quintessential young adult novel.

here's a quick run-through: quirky girl hates popular guy for #reasons. then she sees him in a new light and things begin to change between them. #misunderstandings abound and then everyone kisses and makes up. i mean that is a totally reductive way to look at the plot, because honestly what makes this book great isn't what happens in it, it's the characters. lily abbott has this great, sarcastic sense of humor. she's got this unique sense of style, but she also knows who she is. she might not be the most popular girl in school but she has the self-confidence to be exactly who she wants to be. sue she has her moments of self-doubt, but the truth is, she doesn't really care what others think of her. it's only when cade jennings is around that she gets sensitive and prickly. and you'd think she'd wonder more about why that is, but she doesn't.

lily has this great, crazy family that reminded me of my own, because just like in her family we were two older girls and two younger brothers. my parents weren't as creative or artistic as her parents, but the vibe of total chaos at home definitely rang true. one of the things that is nice about this novel is that lily comes to know cade in two ways, via the letters they exchange in chemistry class and in real life as she comes to realize that there have been times where she has misjudged him or misunderstood his reasons for doing something. as they both start to let down their guard around each other, you really start to root for these two crazy kids to figure it out.

there are some really nice moments in this book, dreamy in that sweet dreams romance kind of way. this book isn't re-inventing the wheel when it comes to young adult romance, but it's sweet and fun and the characters make you care about their happy ending.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

seriously romantic: like fresh fallen snow by tara wyatt

like fresh fallen snow is the companion short story to when snowflakes fall, it's new year's eve a chance for new beginnings, and that is all that matt grayson needs. he's planning to move to seattle and start over. since his divorce and since being shot on the job nothing has felt right in cheyenne, and even though he has never been far from his identical twin brother, a new start is just what he needs.

on his last day on the job as a cop he stops to assist a driver who hit a patch of black ice on the highway and skidded into a snowbank. ellie richards is full of enthusiasm for the new year. her professional life is thriving, she loves her home just outside of denver and the only thing she's looking to get on track is her currently nonexistent love life. but she has a good feeling about that too.

meeting along the highway ellie and matt find themselves flirting in spite of the circumstances. it can't possibly go anywhere, they are not likely to see each other ever again. but when they cross paths again at a new year's eve party, matt knows that he can't stay away from ellie. this is their one chance to explore the spark that lights up between them, and boy does it burn.

the short format makes the story slightly unbelievable. but you can't help rooting for these two characters who so clearly want to be together and make it all work out. as a fun holiday read, it works.

**like fresh fallen snow will publish on october 25, 2016. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/st. martin's (swerve) in exchange for my honest review.