Review – The Dorm Room Diaries: Freshman Year

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TITLE: The Dorm Room Diaries: Freshman Year (Book #1)
AUTHOR: T.L Steffe
GENRE: Young Adult – Contemporary Romance
PAGES: 168
REVIEWER: Nicole

BLURB:

For eighteen-year-old Monroe Reid, life is full of change. Her long-time best friend, Lennon Walker, confessed his true feelings for her and she hasn’t spoken to him since. That was eight weeks ago. On top of that, she is about to leave her family, who is growing increasingly distant from her, and begin her journey of independence in her freshman year of college.

With Lennon headed in the opposite direction of the country, Monroe knows she needs to confront their situation ASAP. Lennon has a shaky history and has struggled with obstacles in his past, while Monroe has always been his constant rock. Now, she is struggling with the blurred lines of their friendship.

Once at college, Monroe quickly finds herself in a world filled with new friends, opportunities, and a potential love interest.

Bad boy Brayden Stryker knows there’s something special about Monroe the moment he lays his eyes on her. It doesn’t take long for her to fall for him, especially when he confides his darkest secrets to her.

Can Monroe trust Brayden, or will he break her heart, leaving Lennon to pick up the pieces? Freshman Year is a tale of friendship full of love and laughter, and heartache and despair

REVIEW:

If you are drawn to college romance and love triangles genres you are going to love The Dorm Room Diaries: Freshman Year!

The protagonist of this story is Monroe, who is about to set off and start her first year of collage away from her family and best friend, Lennon. Before she leaves, Lennon a.k.a “Infamous”, expresses his true feelings for Monroe, leaving her confused and conflicted about her true feelings. Once she gets to College she meets Brayden a.k.a “Dream boy”, she realizes her feelings for Lennon was nothing like what she feels for Brayden. Brayden and Monroe fall in love fast but Brayden has a dark past and secrets, can he overcome his past? Will he trust Monroe with his secrets? And will their relationship survive despite his demons?

The first thing I have to express is opposite sex best friends in my opinion never works – though always make an interesting fictional love story! There is always one that starts to feel more than friendship, leaving the other person: A – feeling the same and they develop a fantastic relationship and a love story forms, or B – the other person doesn’t feel the same, they try to remain best friends, which we all know just can’t work and results in the platonic person losing their best friend, which is very sad.

So now that I have expressed my feelings on that matter, I have to say that I was constantly juggling between being on team Lennon to team Brayden in this story. I would be rooting for one of them and then they would go and do something stupid and I change my backing – in the end I was left being on team Lennon but this could once again change in the future.

Both Lennon and Brayden’s characters are damaged with a hell of a lot of baggage, terrible childhoods and lots of dark secrets. The scary thing is they both kept expressing how they “needed” Monroe, to me they were showing clear signs of desperation rather than love, especially Brayden in the end for his character definitely has major issues that are yet to be revealed.

I liked Monroe’s character, I like her personality which was likeable and real for girls her age, but I do feel at times she plays Lennon as back up at times to console her feelings regarding Brayden but once again this is how opposite sex best friends become tricky.

The Dorm Room Diaries: Freshman Year is a quick, easy read with great flow and pace and a great college romance/love triangle plot.  The only negative I will point out is we still know nothing about Brayden’s character which is frustrating, and I only wished I could understand him more to be able to connect with his character. Also, Monroe’s family are hiding something or going through some sort of turmoil  which  we still don’t have a clue about either, but I guess this is the hook to bet the reader invested and wanting to find out these unanswered questions – well Steffe has piqued my interest and definitely has me hooked!

So I guess I will have to wait until Book Two: Sophomore Year to see what awaits in this installment which will be very interesting I must say…will it be Brayden or Lennon? Or a new damaged character in the mix?

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Review- Carnelian (The Chalcedony Chronicles # 1) by B.Kristin McMichael

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Clever, clever, clever!

Title: Carnelian (Chalcedony Chronicles # 1)
Author: B Kristin McMichael
Genre: Young Adult/ Science Fiction (Time Travel)
Publication:
Release Date: 2014
Pages: 209
Reviewer: Kelly

Synopsis:
Everyone has a past, but for most it isn’t so far in the past as Seth Sangre. His past is literally from thousands of years ago. Seth’s past led him to the present seeking something that might help him save his country from destruction. He has been in the present for over three years now, and he just found exactly what he has been looking for.

Mari had dreams of college being a fresh start, one where she would start over and not fall for the good looking player like high school. Unfortunately for her, that’s exactly what ends up falling into her lap on the first day she moves into the dorms. Now she has to hold to her promise to herself not fall for the handsome Seth Sangre. But he doesn’t plan to make it easy for her. Seth has already marked her as his next conquest. As the semester progresses Mari learns that Seth might just have a past of his own that’s literally in the past.
Suddenly, Mari finds her future along with her past put into question. She’s connected to Seth far more than she ever wanted to be, and maybe he isn’t the player who she thought he was. If Mari can trust her heart enough to follow him, Seth will lead Mari on an adventure of a lifetime-and reveal family secrets she never knew existed.

Opinion:
Carnelian is a refreshing take on a modern college tale. McMichael has created characters that are not your “run of the mill” college students. There is no bleach blonde cheerleader or wealthy sorority boy. Granted there is still the super hot football star, but he is not the usual stereotype. He is soulful, insightful and exotic looking. His female counterpart is a tall red haired beauty, with an Indian best friend. I loved this more realistic and multicultural look at college life.

Then there is the storyline. It is not about fallen angels, vampires, dystopian societies or mythical creatures. For a dynamic change, it’s a mysterious adventure about time travel and ancient societies. It felt like a cross between ‘The time traveller’s wife’, a college romance novel and a history book. Well done McMichael! It kept me engaged from the beginning to end.

The romance between the two main characters is teased out in the opening chapters, keeping the reader wanting more. Mari is a strong, intelligent character who is cautious and calculating about beginning any new romances. Seth is aloof and persistent, with witty charm and charisma that makes you swoon! The combination of these two characters creates a perfect balance for the story, and maintains the momentum of the plot.

My only small criticism was that the middle was a little lack lustre there for a few chapters . The reader was left wondering what was going to happen next as the main characters romance had already been explored. The rapid pace of the last few chapters, however, made up for this lull in the middle. I was turning the pages faster than I could read properly, in order to get to the end. And what an end it was! It left me wanting more, but unfortunately I will have to wait patiently for the next instalment.

Summary:
B Kristin Mc Michael has created something punchy, refreshing and dynamic. Cannot wait to read the next book in the series!

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Review – Beautiful Player by Christina Lauren

Sigh….!

Title – Beautiful Player
Author – Christina Lauren
Genre – New Adult – Contemporary Romance
Pages – 402
Reviewer – Laura

Blurb:

When Hanna Bergstrom receives a lecture from her overprotective brother about neglecting her social life and burying herself in grad school, she’s determined to tackle his implied assignment: get out, make friends, start dating! 
And who better to turn her into this sultry siren every man wants than her brothers gorgeous best friend, Will Sumner, venture capitalist and unapologetic player? 

Will takes risks for a living, but he’s skeptical about this challenge of Hanna’s…until the wild night his innocently seductive pupil tempts him into bed – and teaches him a thing or two about being with a women he cant forget. now that Hanna discovered the power of her own sex appeal, its up to Will to prove he’s the only man she’ll ever need…

Opinion:

I have mixed feeling about this book. I have read the first two installments of this series, Beautiful Bastard and Beautiful Stranger, and fell in love with both of them! So, in comparison, this book was a little disappointing.

Whilst the chemistry between Hanna and Will was obvious from the start, I unfortunately didn’t find their story as enjoyable to read as I did with Bennett and Chloe from Beautiful Bastard or Max and Sara from Beautiful Stranger.

The first issue I had with the book was the fact that it took FOREVER for the two main characters to get together and hook up in the first place…like at least 7 chapters! And I just really felt that excess suspense was extremely boring to read.  The additional issue with all that suspense was their connection finally did happen, I found I wasn’t really that satisfied.

Like the previous books, Beautiful Player was written in Will and Hanna’s point of view in alternating chapters. This is one thing that I really love about the books as you get a better perspective of what both characters are thinking and feeling in each situation.

I don’t think that Hanna’s character was a very strong one, nor did I like her all that much, she seemed a little childish and annoying to me, and I found myself feeling awkward every time I was reading her chapters. She starts off as this shy, workaholic, with no friends at all, and then all of a sudden she becomes this outspoken girl who is obsessed with sex, which just seemed a little strange to me.  This sudden change of character with no explanation really upset the flow of the plot.

On the bright side, I really like Will’s character and found his chapters somewhat more enjoyable to read! Will was sexy, fit and obviously a well-known player, but he was also so sweet and caring that he came across as pretty much irresistible to me.  It is safe to say I’m pretty sure he is the main reason I even finished the book.

All in all whilst I didn’t enjoy it as much as the preceding installments, it did deliver a fairly good dose of sexual activity, and was quite easy to read, even though I didn’t love one of the main characters!

Anyone who has kept on top of the series like me will find it difficult to resist the temptation of more of the heat and passion delivered in the first two books.  It is unfortunate that this installment left me feeling so cold.

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Review- Out of the Ashes (The Ashes Series # 1) by Diana Gardin

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FLAMING HOT!

Title: Out of the Ashes (The Ashes Series #1)
Author: Diana Gardin
Genre: Young Adult/ Romance
Release Date: 2013
Pages: 179
Reviewer: Kelly

***Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy in exchange for an honest review***

Blurb:
Out of the frying pan and into the fire…
Paige Hill is discovering who she is again after losing everything she loves in a tragic fire. She’s endured a long road to recovery with the help of her best friend Gillian and is finally beginning her life again: college, a job, and a blossoming love she never even saw coming.
Clay Forbes is the notorious campus playboy. He’s a star athlete, a senior architecture major, and the only son in a family with power and money back in his hometown. When he crashes into Paige, his whole perspective on life shifts, and his world as he knew it becomes nonexistent. He’s wrapped up in her.

They’re both learning how to love, but Clay’s ex-girlfriend Hannah won’t make it easy for them. She puts a target on Paige’s back, and won’t stop until she’s derailed their budding romance once and for all. Who will be left standing after the ashes settle for the second time?

Opinion:
Out of the Ashes grabbed me from the first page. It already had an intriguing premise, with our main protagonist Paige waking up in a hospital bed. From the first moment the reader is absorbed in the story, wanting to know how and why Paige has been injured. As the title suggests Paige’s injuries are resultant from a fire, and from here the story progresses from the aftermath of the fire, to her loss and her ability to rebuild her life.

While rebuilding her life to some sort of normalcy Paige meets Clay, the dreamy love interest. This love story is a little different, as Paige is so damaged, both physically and emotionally. Gardin alternates between Clay and Paige’s perspectives so that the reader was able to garner a true understanding of what each character was thinking and feeling. This technique was also useful in introducing other secondary characters to the reader, such as Paige’s best friend Gillian and Clay’s frat buddies. Through the use of alternating points of view, the reader could appreciate just how important these characters were to both of the main protagonists.

Gardin added depth and variety into the plot line to keep the reader guessing all the way to the end. The ending floored me! It was not what I was expecting at all. Without being to cryptic or giving anything away, it was as if all the things I wish would happen did, but not with the consequences that I wanted! It is going to be very interesting to see how things play out in the sequel, as I have come to expect the unexpected!

Summary:
I read this book in a day so, needless to say, I cannot wait for the release of Book 2 later in 2014! If you love a good romance with a few twists and turns then this is the book for you.

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Review- Awakening (The Destined Series # 2) by Ashley Suzanne

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AMAZING AWAKENING!

Title: Awakening (The Destined Series # 2)
Author: Ashley Suzanne
Genre: Young Adult/ Romance
Release Date: 2013
Pages: 206
Reviewer: Kelly

***Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy in exchange for an honest review***

Explanation:
Awakening is the third and final book in The Destined Series. It completes the story of four college friends Mira, Skylar, Danny and Kylee. Awakening begins with Mira waking from a coma in hospital. It explores her recovery, both physically and emotionally, as well as how each of her friends copes with the aftermath of her accident. The love triangle between the main protagonists, Mira, Skylar and Danny is the crux of this story. The use of multiple viewpoints within the novel helps to explain every detail of the story.

Opinion:
After getting over my initial shock that Inception was a prologue to Mirage, which took us back in the story, I finally got my hands on Awakening. I read this book within 24 hours as I was dying to know what happened! Awakening did not disappoint. It finally told the present day story of Mira and her friends, and oh and was it fantastic. It was a little predictable in some parts, but it was so satisfying in other parts that it all but made up for it!

Suzanne delivered Awakening using multiple viewpoints once again, changing between Mira, Skylar and Danny. The reader had access to how Mira was really coping after waking from her coma, as well as where her true feelings lay. The reader was also privy to Skylar and Danny’s thoughts and actions in this very unique situation. Suzanne also used clever dialogue and descriptions to explain each circumstance from every angle.
I loved how this book ended with so much closure. I hate it when books leave things very open ended. Suzanne did a marvellous job in closing up all major storylines without leaving the reader guessing. Every characters storyline was explained with great plotlines.

Summary:
Well done Ashley Suzanne, Awakening was a great conclusion to The Destined Series. If you cannot get enough of these characters Suzanne has created a spin-off series from Mira’s best friend Kylee’s point of view. Facade is out February 17, 2014.

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Review- Mirage (The Destined Series # 1) by Ashley Suzanne

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Marvellous Mirage! 

Title: Mirage (The Destined Series # 1)
Author: Ashley Suzanne
Genre: Young Adult/ Romance
Release Date: 2013
Pages: 182
Reviewer: Kelly

*** Copy provided by Author in exchange for an honest review***

Explanation:
Mirage is the story of Mira Adams a newly graduated college student who tragically loses her fiancé to a motorcycle accident. Mira and Danny met on orientation day in their freshman year. They have been inseparable ever since. Danny’s best friend Skylar was always around, as was Mira’s best friend Kylee. Together this foursome navigated their college years, all graduating on the same day. On graduation day they decided to take the boys bikes out for a ride. This is when tragedy arose. The bike Danny and Mira were on wrecked and Danny didn’t make it. Mirage follows the lives of Mira, Skylar and Kylee in the months following Danny’s death and how they survive without him.

Opinion:
The story starts with a bang! Mira has just lost Danny to a motorcycle accident and is left utterly devastated. As a reader you are invested from the very beginning as you want to find out what becomes of Mira, Skylar and Kylee and how they can possibly recover without Danny. The plot line of the story then follows a seemingly predictable path, where you know just how and who Mira is going to seek comfort from. Then WHAM, the predictability ends in Chapter 4 and the path you thought this book was going to take does not go there at all!

The rest of the book has you grappling for answers, wondering what is going to become of the main protagonists and how Ashley Suzanne will end it. The paths you think the characters will go down are completely different now, especially with Danny’s passing. The once inseparable foursome seems to be poles apart. The best part, that leaves you GOBSMACKED, is the ending!

Suzanne wrote this book using dual protagonists Mira and Skylar. It was necessary to have the two characters points of view as they are often in different situations throughout the story. The time jumps within the novel also require this dual point of view so that the reader can catch up to what has been going on in each characters life. This style of writing also allows the reader to see how each character was feeling, how they were coping without Danny and through their inner monologue- if this was the life they thought they would be leading.

My one and only criticism with this novel was the poor editing! There were grammatical and punctuation errors in at least every chapter. Although tiny and sometimes irrelevant it makes it hard to appreciate the story as a polished and published piece of fiction with so many mistakes. My advice would be to have it re-read and edited!

Summary:
Mirage was an unpredictable, romantic and engaging read. The ending made me jump straight into Inception, the next book in The Destined Series.

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