Review- Don’t Look Back by Jennifer L. Armentrout

dont look back

Title: Don’t Look Back
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Genre: Young Adult/ Romance
Release Date: 2014
Pages: 384
Reviewer: Kelly

BLURB:

Samantha is a stranger in her own life. Until the night she disappeared with her best friend, Cassie, everyone said Sam had it all-popularity, wealth, and a dream boyfriend.

Sam has resurfaced, but she has no recollection of who she was or what happened to her that night. As she tries to piece together her life from before, she realizes it’s one she no longer wants any part of. The old Sam took “mean girl” to a whole new level, and it’s clear she and Cassie were more like best enemies. Sam is pretty sure that losing her memories is like winning the lottery. She’s getting a second chance at being a better daughter, sister, and friend, and she’s falling hard for Carson Ortiz, a boy who has always looked out for her-even if the old Sam treated him like trash.

But Cassie is still missing, and the facts about what happened to her that night isn’t just buried deep inside of Sam’s memory-someone else knows, someone who wants to make sure Sam stays quiet. All Sam wants is the truth, and if she can unlock her clouded memories of that fateful night, she can finally move on. But what if not remembering is the only thing keeping Sam alive?

OPINION:

The moment I opened the first page of this book, and read the opening lines I was hooked- line and sinker! I didn’t know where this story would take me. Having read a lot of Armentrout’s previous novels I knew she could have taken me to a universe full of mythical creatures, or included an alien invasion, instead she kept it really simple and let this story play out in the ‘real world’. It was relatable as the situation that Samantha found herself in could happen to anyone, anywhere or at anytime.

The story was written in the first person point of view, through the eyes of Samantha, the main protagonist. She begins the story with her memories and her best friend missing. As a reader we are learning all about her life at the same time that she is! Then as her memories begin to come back in dreamlike, flashbacks and visions you start to wonder, just like Samantha, where is Cassie? The plot thickens when mysterious hand written notes begin to appear, sending very cryptic messages, turning this novel into a real “who done it?”

The foreshadowing techniques used throughout the story really kept you guessing until the very last page. Armentrout was very clever to give out little hints and clues throughout the book, but never enough to give the ending away. This created a gripping and enthralling read that was refreshing and different to any other novel I have ever read!

SUMMARY:
Wow! Armentrout can do no wrong! This book was an intriguing, heart-stopping, page turner. I finished it in a day. I COULD NOT PUT IT DOWN!

lips grey 5

Advertisements

Review – Bully by Penelope Douglas

bully[1]

INTENSE  “FICTIONAL” LOVE STORY

Title: BULLY (Book #1 A Fall Away Novel)
Author: Penelope Douglas
Pages: 318
Genre: New Adult/Young Adult  – Contemporary Romance
Reviewer: Nicole
 

BLURB:

My name is Tate.

He doesn’t call me that, though. He would never refer to me so informally, if he referred to me at all. No, he’ll barely even speak to me.

But he still won’t leave me alone.

We were best friends once. Then he turned on me and made it his mission to ruin my life. I’ve been humiliated, shut out, and gossiped about all through high school. His pranks and rumors got more sadistic as time wore on, and I made myself sick trying to stay out of his way. I even went to France for a year, just to avoid him.

But I’m done hiding from him now, and there’s no way in hell I’ll allow him to ruin my senior year. He might not have changed, but I have. It’s time to fight back.

I’m not going to let him bully me ANYMORE!

REVIEW:

Wow! Bully by Penelope Douglas had such intense chemistry and sexual tension from the first chapter, that I got so consumed in this story I couldn’t put the book down!

One thing I will say is that Bully is a fairy tale.  If only there was a happy ending to all bullying like this story, and the only reason someone was being mean to you was for the simple, although jaded, fact that they are in love with you. I know we tell our little girls that when a boy in the playground teases you it’s because he likes you and maybe once upon a time this could be true but in today’s society Bullying is not this fairytale, it is a very real and cruel and seems to be magnified with all the technology and multimedia available today, not to mention broken homes, drug and alcohol issues.  No matter your gender, age, sexual preference, religion or race, anyone and everyone is a potential target to be bullied and it’s a REAL problem.

Bully’s protagonist is Tate who used to be best friends with her neighbor Jared, until the summer holidays before they started high school.  Jared went to spend his holidays with his Dad but came back from his Dad’s a very different person. He not only didn’t want to know Tate anymore but he came back ‘hating’ Tate and has made her last four years of high school a misery to the point she even went to France for a year to avoid him. Now Tate is back for her final year of high school with new confidence and direction, with her sole goal to get through this year and get into Columbia University.  Of course Jared doesn’t make that an easy option and the more encounters they endure they realize that the love and attraction they share for each other has never really gone away, you could even say its magnified.  But can Tate trust Jared again and open up her heart? Or is this all another charade to break Tate completely?

The chemistry between Tate and Jared was off the charts! Even when Jared was in his bullying phase you could feel the intense attraction and chemistry between these two main characters. To the reader it was very obvious that Jared was in love with Tate even with his conflicting actions and words, but the reader was desperate, like Tate, to find out “why” he was treating her this way? What were his reasons? What did Tate do? And this is one of the reasons you consume the book desperate to seek answers.

Tate’s character was strong, dependant and likeable. I liked her sense of morals and the values she displayed and how she was honest and conflicted in listening to her head or following her heart with Jared. She didn’t want to make it easy for him to come back into her heart after all the hurt she endured and I could empathize with her reasons.

Jared character screams “Sex” and “Bad Boy”!! Wow! Even though I don’t advocate Bullies, being the fairy tale that this story was – I loved him! He was hot, dark, sexy, swoon worthy, I mean I could go on and on describing his character but I think you get the point!  His dark tortured side was a heart breaker and you begin to empathize with his character and get a glimpse of what he is thinking and feeling over the past four years of his forced separation from Tate.

Tate’s best friend was K.C and I have to say I wasn’t a fan. I disliked her the moment she betrayed Tate and I feel that Tate was way too easy on her and if you read this story I would be interested in your opinion of her – do you feel that K.C broke the girl code?

Jared’s best friend was Madoc, who also a bullied Tate and like I said about Jared’s character, I don’t advocate Bullies but being this fairy tale, I really liked his character. I liked how we witnessed him stand up to Jared and question his feelings about Tate and I really liked him when he apologized to Tate for all his hurt he has conflicted towards her was displayed with such sincerity. Unlike K.C’s character, I liked how he showed true loyalty and dedication to his best friend and once Tate was a part of Jared’s life he portrayed his true loyalty and dedication to Tate.

Bully was fantastic read, the pace and flow was perfect. I have to say that the plot twist at the end definitely caught me off guard! Quite clever I must say and could have ended with the reader blindsided but like I have said many times in this review already – this story is ultimately a fairy tale and with all fairytales they have happy endings!

I loved this book and my sole reason for the half lip deduction is the display of the falsehood on bullying, I know this book genre is Fiction but it’s not the reality of today and I feel it still could be quite insulting to people who have been bullied in their life less significant, making their torment not worthy and for that I couldn’t give it 5 lips….but as a fictional love story, I loved it and would highly recommend it!!

lips grey 4.5

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

perf5.500x8.500.indd

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!

lips grey 4

Review – Greed (Seven Deadly Sins Series) by Fisher Amelie

17795023[1]

EVERYONE “NEEDS” TO READ THIS BOOK!

TITLE: GREED (Book 2 # of The Seven Deadly Sins Series)
AUTHOR: Fisher Amelie
GENRE: Young Adult/New Adult – Contemporary Romance
PAGES: 342
REVIEWER: Nicole

BLURB:

SPENCER BLACKWELL IS GREED.

Gather ‘round, love, because I want you. I want what you have, I want what you don’t have, I want more of what I already have. I want. But if you so much as ask for something in return, go ahead and walk away. Know if you want to play in my world, its every man for themselves and the weak become mine. Leeches will be obliterated because I make it my job to destroy them. I protect what’s mine and I take what’s yours….because that’s what I do. I want.

My story will not endear me to you and, frankly, I could care less if it does because I’m in this for the money and nothing else. There’s nothing redeeming about me. I’m a corrupt, money hungry, immoral asshole from Los Angeles. I’m every man’s worst nightmare and every girl’s fantasy.

I’m Spencer Blackwell…And this is the story about how I went from the world’s most coveted guy to the guy no one wanted around and why I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.

BREAK THE CYCLE

REVIEW:

Greed is the second installment to Fisher Amelie’s ingenious series focused around the seven deadly sins. As explained in my review of Vain, the first installment, this series showcases a deadly sin in each book wherein the respective protagonist bears a persona emulating that deadly sin.  The twist is found in the fact that the protagonist is given the opportunity to change their character and seek redemption.

While Vain inspired me and left an ever lasting impression on my soul, Greed opened my eyes up to this particularly evil and destructive sin in which someone can become so easily entrenched. Greed is an addiction and something so relevant and embedded in today’s society.  This story contains many valuable life lessons and for this reason alone, I believe Amelie has accomplished an amazing second installment to this series.

“Greed is a strange, strange sin.                                                                                                                                                All you want to do is acquire. Acquire money, acquire material, acquire time, acquire energy, acquire attention. The running mantra is “I want, I want, I want” but that quickly turns to “I need, I need, I need”.

The protagonist in Greed is Spencer Blackwell, who we originally met in Vain as Sophie Price’s friend.  Spencer, under his father’s control, is ordered to commit Illegal acts for his father’s business in exchange for large amounts money.

“I Can’t do that,” he said, exhaling sharply and staring out the glass into the street.

“Why Not?”                                                                                                                                                 His face softened. “I need his money”                                                                                                                Spencer looked at me, and I couldn’t help but stare back. We were all in the same boat, prisoners to greed.                                                                                                                                                                                        -VAIN – Sophie Price

But when his younger sister Bridge gets herself in a predicament their father makes it very clear that he will go to any means to look after his money and his reputation before his family.  In the best interest of Bridge, Spencer and Bridge run away from their life in L.A and their father’s hold and take refuge with the grandparents of Spencer’s college roommate August Hunt.   Emmett and Ellie Hunt own a ranch in Montana and it is at the Hunt ranch where Spencer and Bridge meet the most loving, caring, genuine, hardworking and down to earth people they have ever encountered.  Here, Spencer sees himself for who he really is and discovers “the want and the need” to change.  Spencer also meets Cricket Hunt who captures his whole heart from the moment he lays eyes on her.  Only problem is that Cricket has a boyfriend, Ethan – and a secret.  For the first time, Spencer is finding himself experiencing real emotions of love, happiness, sadness, anger and redemption.

Amelie’s writing style is impeccable.  Greed is extremely well written, full of depth and content with great flow and pace. Amelie also has the skill and knowledge to include symbolism in her story, regarding the inner demon taunting Spencer and I have to say the banishment of the demon once Spencer had finally sought his redemption was quite chilling.

Greed had the most powerful Prologue that stunned me with so much truth; it was the first of many of the life lessons shared in this book. The Epilogue was fantastic, jumping into the future by four years, revealing more insight not only into the characters in Greed also about our much loved characters from Vain, Sophie and Ian, which was a beautiful touch.

Amelie has the ability to really engage the reader and help us to develop an emotional connection with all the characters. I loved witnessing Spencer’s character transition and grow throughout the story from someone consumed with Greed to this,

“I lived by many things, but my top motto was “give”. Give, and you shall see the incredible rebound of it. The more you give, the more you get. It’s staggering notion, but the truth nonetheless”…Spencer

The chemistry between Spencer and Cricket was instant but frustrating at times to witness, as Cricket struggles to decide whether to follow her heart towards Spencer or remain loyal but not in love with her boyfriend Ethan. Though Bridge, Ellie and Emmett Hunt all contributed to bringing this story to life, I have to say that Jonah’s character really shone in this installment – he was such a humble, genuine, down to earth gentleman. Jonah was beautiful inside and out – pure lightness, some might say an angel in disguise, in contrast to Spencer’s father’s character who was the devil in disguise – pure evil had taken over his heart, with no redemption for this character.

Greed  is a book that makes you open your eyes to what our society is potentially becoming as so many of us are getting confused with the difference of “needing” and “wanting”. We are “wanting” more and fueling our greed to negative emotions and “giving” less and missing out on beautiful selfless emotions such and love, and this is a tragedy.

I really look forward to the next story to this series which focuses around the deadly sin of Fury.  This installment is focused around Cricket ex- boyfriend Ethan who shows his wrath throughout this story and promised Spencer his revenge, so I look forward to witnessing his redemption.

I would like to leave you with one of the many amazing quotes in this book that is so relevant and true;

“We’ll discover that our problem wasn’t genuinely a problem after all, not after we’ve seen it for what it actually is. In the light of day, when our adrenaline wears off, we’ll discover that all we truly feared was the unknown.”

lips grey 5

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

Out of the Ashes Covef[1]

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.

lips grey 4.5

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

Awakening_FrontCover_Web[1]

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.

lips grey 4.5

Review – Layers (Stark Series Book #1) by Sigal Ehrlich

layers[1]

 CLICHÉD GENRE!

TITLE: Layers (Stark #1 Series)
AUTHOR: Sigal Ehrlich
GENRE: New Adult – Contemporary Romance
PAGES: 299
REVIEWER: Nicole

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

BLURB:
According to Hayley love is a subject of ridicule, a myth created by hopeless romantics.

When Hayley makes a resolution to declare her loose lifestyle era R.I.P, it’s all good in theory…

That is until she meets Daniel Stark, a well-respected, mid-thirties business man who is known for his short temper, lack of steady relationships as well as his strict preserve of his private life.

Opinionated, sharp tongued Hayley accidently steps into his office leaving Daniel resolved to put Hayley in her place and have her in his bed.

Both Hayley and Daniel can’t avoid the immediate instigation of the attraction between them.

In a unanimously agreed upon verdict by Hayley and her two best friends, Ian the gay self-absorbed, aspiring model and Natasha the witty, borderline neurotic soul mate, Daniel Stark is to be Hayley’s pure physical attraction, emotions aside era closure.

Will it indeed be a closure, or a beginning to something neither Hayley nor Daniel ever bargained for…

REVIEW:
Layers by Sigal Ehrlich, a familiar read in this genre as of late, is another ‘extremely wealthy bachelor meets young beautiful girl and have wild and crazy sex’ romance storyline, which has many similarities to the some well-renowned books in the market place only a milder version.

Layers protagonist, Haley Grace Aka Hales is a young, beautiful, outspoken girl about to start her career. While accompanying her best friend Natasha to her orientation day at Stark Software Technologies, Haley accidently and unknowingly meets the dark, gorgeous and broody Mr Daniel Stark. As you might have guessed, Hayley makes a lasting impression on Daniel and one thing leads to another. At first their relationship is just pure lust – and sex – with no strings attached, until you guessed it, they quickly come to the conclusion they can’t do no strings attached since they are actually falling in love with each other.

Once I started reading this book I realized how many books I have read lately with this similar formula. I couldn’t get into this story as much as I hoped to, having to keep putting the book down and coming back to hoping to find some connection, but I struggled. I feel the plot and the characters lacked depth and content, which made the story drag. The main focus of the plot was centered on the mundane issues in any new relationship, there were no character pasts or secrets revealed and no real conflict in the story, and the so called conflict in the story, for me, fell very flat.

This is obviously a series and I found nothing really happened in this installment, which is a shame being the first book, you would think Ehrlich would want to hook the reader into the plot and characters in order to engage them into the series? But maybe she is leaving all her hidden aces in the new installment? Because the ending of the story was a HUGE disappointment for me, it just ended – no cliffhanger – just ended, so you need to read the next book to have some resolution to the story and characters.

The characters were ok but once again struggled to connect with any of them. Hayley was relatable but I found there was way too much inner monologue. I feel Ehlrich did this to try and express Hayley’s humourous personality, but I feel she was trying too hard. Daniel’s character was mediocre, I wanted more depth, mystery and baggage to him. I really didn’t like or connect with Tasha’s character, yes she was a good best friend towards Hayley but the way she was portrayed – having a affair with her boss who is already in a relationship – and stating that being in a existing relationship is “his” problem not hers – yep not my type of character.

The best character in this story for me was Daniels mother, straight away I liked and felt a connection. She felt real and her presence in the story was my favorite part not to mention my favorite quote of the book;

You need to think hard about what and how much is really enough. Once you find that out; it’s what makes you live in sheer bliss. Till then, there is constant doubts.

I actually took a moment to ponder this quote.

Even though I have stated quite a few negatives, I feel it just a sign that I need to move on from this particular genre but if you enjoy this genre and are not over this familiar storyline you will enjoy this story, just make sure you have book two ready to go!

lips grey 3