Review – The Coincidence of Callie and Kayden by Jessica Sorensen

 

WHAT’S YOUR SECRET?

Title: The Coincidence of Callie and Kayden
Author: Jessica Sorensen
Pages: 353
Genre: New Adult – Contemporary Romance
Reviewer: Nicole
 

BLURB:

Callie has grown up keeping her feelings locked away from the outside world, and as her painful past threatens to consume her life, most days it’s a struggle just to breathe.

For as long as Kayden can remember, suffering in silence has been the only way to survive, until one night when Callie and Kayden’s worlds collide.

After that moment, Kayden can’t stop thinking about Callie and when they end up at the same college, he does everything in his power to convince her that it isn’t coincidence – it’s fate.

REVIEW:

Wow! I have to say I was nervous to read this book after being so disappointed with my first introduction to Jessica Sorensen books with, The Secret of Ella and Micha, but I have to say that Sorensen has done a complete one eighty degree turn and wowed me with The Coincidence of Callie and Kayden. I couldn’t believe the same author wrote this book – her writing style, plot detail and depth kept me completely invested and intrigued throughout the whole story not to mention her ability to create such engaging characters, each with their own deep and dark secrets.

The Coincidence of Callie and Kayden, focuses on Callie and Kayden, both characters broken from tragic events that have happened in their lives and the secret of these events is consuming them into personal darkness.  When Callie saves Kayden one night, she has no understanding of the impact of her actions.  When Kayden realizes that Callie attends the same college, he is determined to get to know her. But Callie has a secret of her own, which makes it hard for Kayden to get as close as he would like.  As they spend more time together they very slowly open up, start to trust each other and discover that they are each other’s light within all the darkness.  The trouble is holding onto the light gets to be very hard once faced with one’s darkest secret.

This is a story where everyone has a secret and is struggling to keep it together. All the characters show this false confident exterior but on the inside they are all crumbling, broken and vulnerable. It proves that it is often those people who portray themselves to be too perfect or happy are generally hiding something, and the more perfect it seems, the more they are hiding.  A lesson that can be applied to a lot of situations in life, I guess?

I love the alternating point of view between Callie and Kayden, it allowed the reader to have a more emotional connection to both characters.  The reader had access to their internal struggles, the chemistry and attraction they share and the fear they have of not wanting to burden each other with their problems. Sorensen did a great job of slowly revealing Callie and Kayden’s blossoming relationship. I also really liked the secondary characters in this story, the best friends of the main characters Seth and Luke – who are also hiding secrets and I am sure there is more to their story which might come out in the sequel. In this story Seth and Luke seem to ground both main characters, they understand their best friends well and support them without judgment. I like the way Callie and Seth have a list they have to accomplish to help them break away from their darkness and the notes Sorensen makes on the accomplished task at the beginning of each chapter adds lightness to the story.

Now, as a mother I need to get this off my chest! I believe a mother’s role is to protect their child at all costs and provide for them the perfect safe haven (home). It is so sad that these characters’ tragic events happen in their safe haven causing them to fear their homes.  While the mothers of our main characters had only cameo roles in this story, they play a huge overall role to these characters tragic events. One of these mothers, though unaware the tragic event occurred, witnessed her child change overnight physically, emotionally and mentally, all clear signs for a cry for help – but refused to see the truth of what was in front of her. The other mother who was way worse, she may not have committed a crime buy she certainly didn’t do anything to stop it from happening.   She knew exactly what was going on with her family yet she chose to ignore reality and make excuses, she is equally responsible for was happened and should be locked away for life.  Both of these mothers in this story FAILED to protect their children which I found tragically sad and really affected me emotionally.  I was verbally abusing these mothers while reading this book.   I just wanted to reach into the book and give the love and protection to Callie and Kayden that they deserved and needed.

This story leads to a huge climax, leaving the story on a “holding your breath” very sad and emotional cliffhanger! So make sure you have the sequel, The Redemption of Callie and Kayden, so you can keep going with the story.

Overall this is a very emotional read, if you liked Hopeless by Colleen Hoover or Reason to Breathe by Rebecca Donovan, you will definitely like this book.

lips grey 4.5

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Review – If I Should Die by Amy Plum

A UNIQUE AND BEAUTIFUL SERIES!

TITLE: If I Should Die (Book #3 Revenants Series)
AUTHOR: Amy Plum
GENRE: Young Adult – Paranormal Romance
PAGES: 405
REVIEWER: Nicole

BLURB:

I will not lose another person I love. I will not let history repeat itself.

Vincent waited lifetimes to find me, but in an instant our future has been shattered. He was betrayed by someone we both called a friend and I lost him

It shouldn’t be possible, none of it should be, but this is my reality. I know Vincent is somewhere out there, I know he’s not completely gone, and I will do anything to save him.

After what we’ve already fought to achieve, a life without Vincent is unimaginable. He once swore to avoid dying – to go against his nature and forsake sacrificing himself for others – so that we could be together. How can I not risk everything to bring my love back to me?

 REVIEW:

Praise to Amy Plum for writing this unique series, with such a romantic story and setting, with beautiful characters that captured my heart. Thank you!

What captured my heart about this series was its unique plot and paranormal element.  It’s not another overdone vampire, werewolves or witch series. This series is about Revenants, which is a euphemism for Zombies – I know what you’re probably thinking and picturing but it’s nothing like the zombies in The Walking Dead series! You have the good Revenants (Undead Angels) called the Bardia, who spend their existence sacrificing  themselves to save humans and fight against the evil Revenants (Undead demons) called Numa, who spend their existence manipulating and influencing humans to commit evil acts or self sacrifice.

Then you have the fact that this series is set in Paris, which is, in my opinion, the most magical, romantic, historical and artistic place on earth.  Paris provides the perfect setting for the series overall plot and the beautiful love story between Kate and Vincent.  The chemistry between these two characters was so magical and magnetic.

The first book of this series, Die for Me, captured my attention by its beautiful cover and I loved this book so much I read it in a day – I simply couldn’t put it down. Then I was left waiting for the next installment, Until I Die, to be released and after the long wait I felt slightly deflated due to the book’s slower pace and the fact that Kate and Vincent spent a lot of their time apart causing me to miss the magnetism of their relationship.  I am glad to say this installment, If I Should Die, brought the series back with a vengeance.  It has a great pace, great plot, intriguing character twist and turns and more romance with Kate and Vincent working together throughout this installment.

If I Should Die, picks up the story right where it left off in, Until I Die. Vincent has been captured and murdered by the new Numa Leader in an attempt to steal his powers under the assumption he is the Champion, but there is a flaw in the Numa Leader’s plan. Kate, Jules, Vincent and the Bardia, are racing against the clock not only to save Vincent’s spirit and resurrect him back to his body, but to stop and defeat this new Numa Leader and their Numa army before they destroy the city.

All characters in this installment were amazing, especially the characters at La Maison, with a few unexpected and sad surprises. Kate’s character experiences so much growth in this installment, showing so much strength and maturity. Then there is Vincent’s character, which is perfect! He is tall, dark, handsome, romantic and French – what’s not to love? The way I hear him speak to Kate and call her “Mon Ange” (my angel) in my mind in his French accent has me swooning!! Overall, it was Jules’s character that made the biggest impact on me in this installment.  I really felt for him and the feelings he had for Kate which she could never reciprocate.  The romance was always a Kate and Vincent story with Jules falling in love on the side. Amy Plum detailed the exact scene for the reader to witness the exact moment Jules realizes his feelings for Kate in the first book, Die For Me. I truly hope Jules’ story is not over, because it would seem that Plum has set up a perfect spin-off series based around his character and the Revenants in New York City, in which he may have a chance at the happy ending that his character deserves – fingers crossed!

So this is goodbye to a beautiful series. Kate, Vincent and all the characters at La Maison will be sadly missed!

C’est donc au revoir à une belle série. Kate, Vincent et tous les caractères de La Maison sera malheureusement manqué

lips grey 4.5

Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth

divergent

UNEXPECTED!

Author: Veronica Roth
Genre: Young Adult – Dystopian
Publication: HarperCollins
Release Date: 2011
Pages: 487
Reviewer: Kelly

Blurb:
Three flying birds…one for each of the family I left behind.

Sixteen-year-old Tris is forced to make a terrible choice. In a divided society where everyone must conform, Tris does not fit in.

So she ventures out alone, determined to discover where she truly belongs. Shocked by her brutal new life, Tris can trust no one. And yet she is drawn to a boy who seems to both threaten and protect her.

The hardest choice lies ahead.

Explanation:
Divergent is the first book in the Divergent Series by Veronica Roth. It is set in a futuristic, dystopian city where people are divided into five factions. The five factions are the areas and groups of people that the city is divided into based on their ideals and beliefs. The five factions consist of the Abnegation who believe in selflessness, the Candor who believe in truthfulness, the Erudite who believe in knowledge, the Dauntless who believe in bravery and the Amity who believe in peace. Each faction rules a different part of the city and has different responsibilities so they all work together for the greater good.

The book begins on the eve of the ‘Choosing Ceremony’, where every 16 year old from each faction must take a test to determine of which faction they will be apart. The test tells them if they are destined to remain in the faction they were born into or if they are better suited elsewhere. Ultimately, regardless of the results, it is the individual’s choice. People who choose incorrectly or cannot handle the initiation processes end up ‘factionless’, the worst possible outcome to be without purpose or a community.

The story is told through the eyes of Beatrice ‘Tris’ an Abnegation born 16 year old, who is the protagonist of the book. Tris learns that her test results prove inconclusive making her ‘Divergent’. ‘Divergent’ meaning that she is suitable for more than one faction. It also means that Tris is in grave danger, as she is not able to be easily manipulated into one set of ideals and beliefs. Tris has to keep her ‘Divergence’ a secret, while making the decision to stay with Abnegation and her family, or move to another faction.

Opinion:
Divergent was very unexpected. I had been recommended to read this book as I was told it was very much like the Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. I loved Hunger Games so I was a bit reluctant to read this once I heard that, as I hate ‘knock-off’ books where authors write the same story only changing the setting and the name of the characters. I was pleasantly surprised! The only similarities between Divergent and the Hunger Games are that they are both based in a dystopian and futuristic world. The rest of the story is Roth’s own original and fantastic work!

The book was so interesting, with hidden plots twists and surprising character connections. Roth introduced new characters quite rapidly in the opening chapters, but did so in such a way that the reader was not over-whelmed. As the story continued the characters were explained and explored in greater depth, revealing associations between characters and other factions and expanding on the plot.

Exploring the story through Tris’ point of view helps to explain to the reader this strange and unfamiliar world as she explores it. Roth makes it engaging with its explanation of this dystopian world and the factions. Tris is learning just as much as the reader as she develops relationships and greater understandings with other factions and people she meets. Tris transforms throughout the story from the silent and dutiful Abnegation, to the strong and independent person she was destined to be.

The book had many ‘nail-biting’ moments. It was exhilarating with the suspense and action scenes. It was poignant with the mental strain placed on the characters and the gruelling and necessary decisions they had to make. It was also passionate, both with familial love and romantic love. It has so many unknown outcomes and possibilities that it keeps the reader engaged all the way to the end. The ending itself leaves things so incomplete that you are clawing for the next book!

Veronica Roth creates such a new, original and refreshing story. It is so stimulating to read something that is not paranormal and doesn’t involve supernatural. Her dystopian world is something to which readers can relate. It encompasses five main character traits in the five factions that could be perceived as either good or evil. Relatable and invigorating all at the same time!

Summary:
A fantastic read! I have already started to read Insurgent- Book 2 in the series! The Divergent movie is out in March 2014, cannot wait!!

lips grey 4.5

Review – Out Of Breath by Rebecca Donovan

BREATHLESS! 

Title – Out of breath (Book #3 Breathing Series)
Author – Rebecca Donovan
Genre – Young Adult – Comtemporary Romance 
Number of Pages – 488
Reviewer – Laura

Blurb:

Those she trusted betrayed her. Her broken heart still wounds her…
Emma trusts no one and she can’t let anyone in, not when she knows all they’ll find is darkness. But some people won’t take no for an answer and Emma must decide if the hidden truths and painful secrets are enough to let go of the possibility of love – forever.

Review:

Out of Breath is the third book from the Breathing series by Rebecca Donovan. It begins with Emma Thomas, who has left her life in Weslyn behind to attend Stanford University in California, where she has been for the last 2 years. Here, she has built a new life, with a brand new group of friends, however, Emma is still struggling greatly with her past, and the secrets that lie there. These secrets seem to be stopping her from moving on until, due to untimely circumstances, she needs to return to Weslyn, where she can start facing her past decisions, one step at a time.

Opinion:

***Spoiler alert***

After finishing Barely Breathing some time ago, which left off with a major cliff-hanger, I was so excited to read the third, and final, installment of this series.  I am glad to say that the wait definitely did not disappoint!

This series has actually shaken me to the core! After reading all the awful things that poor Emma Thomas had to go through, I am so happy that the book started with her in a somewhat positive state of mind. While Emma seems to have met some really great new friends, it’s clear that she is still feeling the repercussions of her past and the way she left things two years ago.  In reality, she is still the same broken girl that left Weslyn, and Evan, behind!

I found that I didn’t feel as sorry for Emma in this book as I did in the previous two installments. Admittedly, she has had a very hard and heartbreaking life, but the person I felt the most sympathy for this time around was Evan Matthews. I felt horrible for him when he saw Emma after all that time, only to find that she was still the same broken girl that left him behind. What I loved the most, was the fact that from that day forward, he knew that even though she had left him, he would not leave her side ever again!

Emma’s character did frustrate me a little at times. The fact that she suddenly turns to alcohol to solve her problems really bothered me, especially after everything she has been through. I still can’t get my head around why she felt the need to keep getting in touch with Jonathon (the other boy she left behind). My loyalty obviously rests with Evan, and the connection that Emma thinks she and Jonathan had frustrates me when I feel they nothing alike at all!

I loved Emma’s new group of friends and I felt that Meg, Serena, and Peyton really added a lot to the story. I enjoyed the way they looked out for Emma, and could tell what she really wanted before even she knew what it was – especially Serena.

The introduction of yet another love interest in Emma’s life seemed a little unfortunate; like she didn’t have enough going on already!  Overall, I have to admit that I liked the character of Cole – he is the ultimate nice guy.  His appearance definitely added intrigue to the plot as it resulted in the Emma – Cole – Evan love triangle (I was definitely Team Evan all the way!).

Arriving at the conclusion of the Breathing series, I feel satisfied and happy with the outcome! It was a great end to Emma’s story, and I would definitely recommend anyone to go out and get these books, if you don’t have them in your TBR pile already!

lips grey 4.5

Check out my reviews on Reason To Breathe (Book 1) and Barely Breathing (Book 2) to the Breathing series.

Review – Just for Now by Abbi Glines

just for now

A PERSONAL CONNECTION!

Title: Just for Now (Book 4 from the Sea Breeze Series)
Author: Abbi Glines
Pages: 307
Genre: New Adult – Contemporary Romance
Reviewer: Nicole

Blurb:

Preston Drake is one bad boy. He has a different girl in his bed every night, which is just how he likes it – no strings, no issues, just fun. The problem is, he keeps finding himself thinking about the one girl he shouldn’t….his best friend’s little sister, who’s suddenly all grown up. Amanda Hardy has had a crush on Preston forever, but his reputation always kept her away. Now that it seems the attraction might be mutual, it’s getting harder to ignore her feelings… No one wants them to be together – but their attraction is too strong to keep them apart.

Review:

Abbi Glines has delivered on another fantastic installment to her Sea Breeze Series with Just for Now, which is definitely my favorite installment yet – I absolutely loved it! Just for Now has its usual “Abbi Glines” dosage of great chemistry, passion, lust, love and sex, focused around our favorite Breathe characters, with Preston and Amanda Hardy being in the spotlight this time.  What makes this installment the best so far is its excellent plot, which showed more depth, detail and emotion.  The contributing factors of the complexity and experience of Preston’s character mixed with the sweet innocence of Amanda’s character made the overall package a perfect combination. I love how this book shone the light onto a completely different side of Preston’s character. I wouldn’t have expected that the happy go lucky, and some may say even shallow, character portrayed in the previous books was actually a camouflage hiding Preston’s real life.  This camouflage was concealing his mystery job as well as his inner turmoil, conflict and embarrassment of looking after his family, which created a depth to this plot that wasn’t present in the previous books. I also had the biggest soft spot for Amanda’s character because I could relate to her so well.  Being my brother’s little sister, I know fair well the hardships and challenges you face to create your own identity, instead of being “branded” as “so-in-so’s little sister”, with no one other than his close friends and people around you even knowing you by your “actual” name.  Gaining your identity is a big enough hurdle to overcome, never mind the following hurdle of his friends realizing that you actually do grow up, mature and have hormones kick in! What a surprise to everyone that “so and so’s little sister” actually has become a sexual person like the rest of the world and you didn’t stay the young naïve teenager forever!! So, I guess you can say this installment will always hold little place in my heart!  I cannot wait to see where Abbi Glines takes the next installment and find out which characters will be in the spotlight next to get their happy ending! lips grey 4.5

Review – Beautiful Stranger by Christina Lauren

ROLE REVERSAL AT ITS FINEST!

Title: Beautiful Stranger
Author: Christina Lauren
Pages: 342
Genre: New Adult – Contemporary Romance
Reviewer: Nicole

Blurb:

A charming British playboy.

A girl determined to finally live.

And a secrete liaison revealed in all too vivid color.

Escaping a cheating ex, finance whiz Sara Dillon’s moved to New York City and is looking for excitement and passion without a lot of strings attached. So meeting the irresistible, sexy Brit at a dance club should have meant nothing more than a night’s fun. But the manner – and speed – with which he melts her inhibitions turns him from a one-time hookup and into her Beautiful Stranger.

The whole city knows that Max Stella loves women, not that he’s ever found one he particularly wants to keep around. Despite pulling in plenty with his Wall Street bad boy charm, it’s not until Sara – and the wild photo’s she lets him take of her – that he starts wondering if there’s someone for him outside of the bedroom.

Hooking up in places where anybody could catch them, the only thing scarier for Sara than getting caught in public is having Max get too close in private.

 
Review:

I loved this book! Beautiful Stranger, sequel to Beautiful Bastard, had me captured from beginning to end!

What captured me about Beautiful Stranger, was how the female character, Sara, held all the power in the relationship (or agreement) for a change, it was an complete role reversal from – let’s face it – reality! Sara set the rules, the boundaries and the pace of the agreement and managed to keep herself distant and mysterious! It was our beautiful stranger Max, who was out of his element and in complete battle with himself and the situation wanting and needing more from the agreement and Sara.

Beautiful Stranger is focused around Sara Dillon (Chloe’s best friend from Beautiful Bastard), who left her cheating fiancée and Chicago behind to join Chloe and Bennett as head of the finance department at the new branch of Ryan Media in New York City. Sara decided to take this opportunity to start over and explore all “her” wants, needs, desires and fantasies for a change. So when Sara meets her beautiful stranger Max in a dance club, their attraction and chemistry is instant and consuming allowing Sara to take her personal desires and fantasies to a whole new level. That one evening changed everything for Sara and Max; they both felt things they have never felt or experienced before, which left them wanting and craving more! After finding out more about each other, Sara puts forward a sex with no strings attached arrangement opportunity to Max, which he, of course, agrees to, finding Sara the most curious girl he has ever met. After a while the rules of the agreement start to get blurry and they fall in love…but old ways die hard and trusting someone with your heart after being burnt is even harder!

What I loved most about this book, was the two main characters and really seeing their different personalities through their alternating point of view chapters. I loved how Sara’s character had a real cloak and dagger personality going on with her internal struggle to balance the person she is and perceived to be with the person who she wants to be in her fantasies and desires. But I have to say it was Max’s character that had me swooning in this book – I really did fall in love with him, British accent and all! As the reader, he had me laughing, he had me blushing, he made my heart pump and he almost had me tears when he was heartbroken. Witnessing his character filled with confusion and being in unchartered territory while falling in love with Sara was beautiful!

Christina and Lauren delivered on a fantastic sequel to this series; I cannot wait to read where this series takes me next!

RATING: 4.5/5 Stars

Check out my review on Beautiful Bastard, Book #1 of the Beautiful Bastard Series by Christina Lauren.

Review: Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry

PUSHING PAST ALL EXPECTATIONS!

Title: Pushing the Limits (Book 1 Harlequin Series)
Author: Katie McGarry
Pages: 367
Genre: New Adult – Contemporary Romance
Reviewer: Nicole
 

Blurb:

They say be a good girl, 
Get good grades, be popular
They know nothing about me.

I can’t remember the night that changed my life.                                                                                                 
The night I went from popular girl to loner freak.
And my family are determined to keep it that way.

They said therapy was supposed to help.

They didn’t expect Noah.

Noah is the dangerous boy my parents warned me about.                                                                                             
But he’s the only one who’ll listen.
The only one who’ll help me find the truth.

I know every kiss, every promise, every touch is forbidden.

BUT what if finding your destiny means breaking all the rules?

 Review:

Pushing the Limits, pushed way passed all my expectations! I honestly just thought I would be reading another good dose of, “popular girl with issues falls for the bad boy” but this book was so much more. The back bone of the story behind these two main characters had me so emotionally consumed, that I felt like I was travelling with them on their journey of self discovery, falling in love, family confrontations, learning to trust and facing their greatest fears.

The two main characters Echo and Noah, share the same therapist, Mrs. Collins, but for totally different reasons.  Echo is a broken girl, her father married her nanny, her brother Aires died recently in Afghanistan and her bi-polar mother is not allowed to come near her due to a restraining order, after trying to kill her. But Echo has no recollection of that night for she has repressed her memories, her only constant reminders are the scars that cover her arms and back. Noah is in foster care and was separated from his two brothers after his parents we killed in a house fire. The system has failed Noah and has been handed the raw end of the stick by labeling him “unstable”, making his fight even harder to get his brothers back.  Drawn together by their desire to escape their lot in life, Echo and Noah work to help each other to find the answers they need to move forward but they soon realize the only thing they need to move forward is each other.

Even though I felt an emotional connection to both characters, it was Noah’s character that had me completely invested. I found I could relate to and understand his internal struggle and turmoil. His realization at the end of the book and his emotional breakdown of guilt and grief, brought me to tears, I just wanted to hug him. Empathy was the overwhelming emotion I felt towards Echo’s character, especially when she experienced her spontaneous memory flashbacks or when she had her intense moments of hypnosis.

Pushing the Limits was very well written and the story was executed with such wonderful detail and character development that it kept me totally invested to the very last page. I cannot express what a pleasant surprise this book was for me and I would greatly recommend this book to my fellow readers.

lips grey 4.5

Check out my review Dare You To (Book #2) of this Series by Katie McGarry.