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Friday, May 31, 2013

Review: Dare You To by Katie McGarry

Title: Dare You To
Author: Katie McGarry
Series: Pushing the Limits, book 2
Genre: YA, Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Source: Review copy from publisher
Format: E-book
“If anyone knew the truth about Beth Risk's home life, they'd send her mother to jail and seventeen-year-old Beth who knows where. So she protects her mom at all costs. Until the day her uncle swoops in and forces Beth to choose between her mom's freedom and her own happiness. That's how Beth finds herself living with an aunt who doesn't want her and going to a school that doesn't understand her. At all. Except for the one guy who shouldn't get her, but does.... 
Ryan Stone is the town golden boy, a popular baseball star jock-with secrets he can't tell anyone. Not even the friends he shares everything with, including the constant dares to do crazy things. The craziest? Asking out the Skater girl who couldn't be less interested in him. 
But what begins as a dare becomes an intense attraction neither Ryan nor Beth expected. Suddenly, the boy with the flawless image risks his dreams-and his life-for the girl he loves, and the girl who won't let anyone get too close is daring herself to want it all....”
Dare You To is the second book in the Pushing the Limits series by Katie McGarry.

Dare You To starts couple of months after the events in Pushing the Limits (first book in the series).
Beth Risk is arrested after taking the blame for something her mother did. What Beth wasn’t expecting was to be bailed by the uncle (Scott) she hasn’t seen in many years; especially after she resents him for abandoning her many years ago when he left her to play professional baseball and never looked back.
Now Scott is her legal guardian and she’s forced to move with him and his wife to a rural area far from her mother and her best friends Noah and Isaiah.
Apart from baseball Ryan Stone loves dares and loves even more to win them. He still hasn’t recovered from the dare he lost to the Skater girl in a Taco Bell, the only girl that didn’t give him her number.
Ryan can’t believe that his baseball hero, Scott Risk, is living in his town and even more he can’t believe that Skater girl is his niece. He still has a chance to get her number and win the dare.
Beth hates living with Scott and her presumptuous wife, she hates her new house and her new school and if that wasn’t enough the jock that asked for her number is her classmate. Ryan is showing interest in her but she knows for experience that golden boys don’t go for girls like her, they only want one thing and she’s not willing to go through that again.
What started as a dare has come to mean much more to Ryan. Beth is intriguing and makes him want to be better and honest about his not-so perfect life.
Beth and Ryan may find what they are looking for in life in the arms of the other if they only are willing to believe and strong enough to take a chance in love. 

I started to read Dare You To without reading the blurb. After reading Pushing the Limits I was sure that this was going to be Beth and Isaiah’s book, but to my great surprise it wasn’t. To say I was surprise by this is an understatement. Still, I gave the benefit of the doubt to Mrs. McGarry and carry on reading, I’m very glad I did just that.

Beth is a difficult character to like and to connect with. Her life and mine couldn’t be more different so it was a little bit tough to put myself in her shoes and understand her behavior. Beth comes as a moody bitchy girl with enough anger to feed a small town. Her life has been a very difficult one, her mother is an alcoholic and drug addict with a perch for abusive men. Since Beth can remember she has been the one taking care of her mother not the other way around. She’s not used to people caring for her and now that Scott has come back to her life she doesn’t know what to do or what to feel. The only thing she can think of is that she’s far from her mom and her mom needs her to survive.
My heart really hurt for her, but at the same time I wanted her to open her eyes and realize that her mom didn’t have salvation and if Beth continue trying to save her she was going to go under along with her.

Ryan was a little too perfect and on the beginning he was also a bit weak regarding his family problems. I understand he has lived a sheltered life and for him seeing beyond what was in front of him wasn’t that easy, until Beth came to his life and show him there was more to life than just black and white.
I really liked how he stuck to Beth despite her not so charming personality. I loved how he saw the real Beth under all the gothic/emo façade she used to protect her heart.

The romance was believable because it wasn’t rushed; it was developed with time and after sharing different experiences. Will it be a long lasting love? I really don’t know, only time will tell.

I really liked that we see Noah and Echo, they don’t have a lot of page time but in the little we see them is clear they are still very much in love and together.

Isaiah broke my heart; he had silently loved Beth for years and in a second he lost her to a jock. He not only lost the girl he loved but also his best friend. The only good thing that gave me some peace regarding him is that next book, Crash Into You, will be his book. I really hope he gets the HEA he so much deserves.

In Dare You To we meet new characters, like Beth’s uncle Scott. My heart went to him; he really loved Beth and wanted the best for her. I loved how protective he was of her and how he gave her what she needed, understanding, love and a house with rules. I didn’t like his wife, Allison, she was self-absorbed and I didn’t try to help Beth once. At the end she kind of came around but it was almost too late for me to like her.

Beth’s mom is a disaster, she was more like a child than an adult, and it wasn’t fair to Beth one bit. The saddest part about her is that mothers like her really exist. 

We also meet Ryan’s friends from school; they are fun and brought more to the story, especially Lace which became Beth’s friend and protector.

Dare You To is a book full of angst, it’s also a book about second chances and the power of love, one that will have you laughing, crying and hoping for the better future Beth and Ryan deserve.

I loved this book and I recommend you to read it. Dare You To can be read as a stand-alone but I recommend you to read Pushing the Limits first not only to get the whole Beth’s experience but also because Pushing the Limits is an amazing book.

My Verdict: 4 ½ Paws

Other books in the series
Dare You To
Crash Into You (November 26th)

Other reviews Goodreads

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Covers Revealed: Secret Unleashed by Sierra Dean & The Sharpest Blade by Sandy Williams

Today I have two very special covers for you. The first cover is the cover Secret Unleashed. Secret Unleashed is the sixth instalment in the Secret McQueen series by Sierra Dean. The Secret McQueen series is one of my top 5 favorite series ever, one I can't recommend you enough to read. 

If you like kickass heroines, dreamy heroes, non-stop action and top-notch writing this series is for you.

The second cover I have for you is The Sharpest Blade by Sandy Williams. The Sharpest Blade is the third book in the Shadow Reader series. I read first book in the series (The Shadow Reader) and really liked it, I'm planning to read second book (The Shattered Dark) before The Sharpest Blade is released. 

Secret Unleashed
Sierra Dean
Secret McQueen #6
Urban Fantasy
October 2013
"The darkest secrets are the hardest to unearth.

After her last mission tested the limits of her humanity and took her out of this world, Secret’s friends, determined to keep her safe from her old nemesis Alexandre Peyton, keep ushering her from one babysitter to the next.

Couch surfing would be a lot more fun if Alexandre would let up on her long enough to allow her to get in some alone time with her lovers. Including Holden, her self-appointed shadow.

As if living out of coffin isn’t bad enough, Secret literally brings down the house while hunting a rogue, causing the council to exile her from New York—for her own safety, of course.

With her list of people to trust getting shorter and shorter, Secret ends up embroiled in a mystery to find a vampire warden gone AWOL and a missing artifact. Things go from bad to worse when she falls into the hands of a man who will prove that humans can be the worst monsters of them all.

Warning: Contains a cross-country journey, an unexpected family reunion, heated lovers’ embraces and a hell of a lot of trouble."

The Sharpest Blade
Sandy Williams
Shadow Reader # 3
Urban Fantasy
December 31st 2013
"Torn between two worlds.
Torn between two lives.

McKenzie Lewis’s ability to read the shadows has put her—and …those she loves—in harm’s way again and again. The violence must end, but will the cost of peace be more devastating than anyone ever imagined?

After ten years of turmoil, the life McKenzie has always longed for may finally be within her grasp. No one is swinging a sword at her head or asking her to track the fae, and she finally has a regular—albeit boring—job. But when a ruthless enemy strikes against her friends, McKenzie abandons her attempt at normalcy and rushes back to the Realm.

With the fae she loves and the fae she’s tied to pulling her in different directions, McKenzie must uncover the truth behind the war and accept the painful sacrifices that must be made to end it. Armed with dangerous secrets and with powerful allies at her side, her actions will either rip the Realm apart—or save it."

What do you think of these covers? Are you familiar with these series? 

Monday, May 27, 2013

Review: The Temporary Wife by Jeannie Moon

Title: The Temporary Wife
Author: Jeannie Moon
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: InterMix
Source: Review copy from publisher
Format: E-book
“It was an offer she couldn’t refuse…from a man she couldn’t resist. 

Kindergarten teacher Megan Rossi is devoted to being a mother to her best friend’s five-year-old daughter, Molly. When the child was orphaned, Meg became the little girl’s legally named guardian—over the objections of Molly’s wealthy grandparents, the Campbells. Now the Campbells are petitioning for custody, and Meg is faced with a long and expensive legal battle. The last thing she expects is for her former high school boyfriend—and the Campbells’ estranged son—to offer a solution: marriage. 

Billionaire software developer Jason Campbell knows his parents don’t have Molly’s best interests at heart—it’s all about control for them. There is one way he can ensure that his sister’s last wishes are honored. He will offer Meg the protection of his name and lawyers until the custody arrangement has been finalized , then he’ll secure his niece’s future with a very generous divorce settlement. Jason’s considered all the scenarios, except one—that the sparks that once flew between he and Meg might reignite a burning passion. And that his confirmed bachelor heart might just melt away from the heat…” 
The Temporary Wife is the debut novel of Jeannie Moon.

The blurb explains pretty well what this book is about, I won’t add more to it.

Megan Rossi is an all heart character; she loves deeply what she does and those whom she cares about.
After many years Megan still hasn’t been able to forget her first love, the one that broke her heart, Jason Campbell, her love interest in the story. Now they have married to protect Molly, the daughter of her best friend (Jason’s sister). A marriage from convenience that becomes more with time.

Jason is a man focused on his job and with no expectations of love, marriage or a family. He asks Megan to marry him because it’s the only feasible way he sees to protect Molly and Megan from his not very nurturing parents.
I had some problems with Jason; my biggest problem was that he didn’t give Megan her place and let people walk over her without any consequence. Just with that he lost many points with me. On the beginning he was also ashamed of her because she was just a “simple kindergarten teacher”… really? At the end he came around but it was a little too late.

Molly is supposed to be five years old but sometimes her behavior was of a child older than her age. I don’t mean she was mature for her age but more that it was a problem of characterization.

From the other secondary characters one that stands out is Jason’s assistant, Harper or Harpy as Megan calls her. Harper was mean and abusive towards Megan and Jason allowed it. I really didn’t like her one bit. I was completely flabbergasted with her drastic change at the end. It was so much that it didn’t feel realistic, it felt more as if she had multiple personalities than a believable change.

The other characters felt flat and underdeveloped. I wish Mrs. Moon would have develop them more because they could have been interesting.

The plot is one used many times before, marriage for convenience to protect a child. That was not a problem because still The Temporary Wife was an entertaining read, one about second chances.

The biggest problems I had with The Temporary Wife were the use of clichés and many overused formulas. (Spoiler ahead) Mrs. Moon threw “the car accident” formula from nowhere just to add drama and justify the moment when Jason realizes he was in love and couldn't live without the Megan. It was never explain why Megan left the house or where she was going when the accident happened. Just a distraught woman getting into an accident and hero realizing he could have lost her and wanted her in his life for ever and ever…. Blah! (End of spoiler)

Another problem I had with The Temporary Wife was that scenes that should have been developed more weren't. For example, something big was going to happen in a place, the characters arrived at the place and the next scene it has already happened and they just talked about it.

The Temporary Wife was a fun and entertaining read with some flaws that at sometimes were a bit difficult to overlook.
Despite my problems with The Temporary Wife I think Mrs. Moon is a talented writer and I wouldn't hesitate to read further books by her.

My Verdict: 3 Paws

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Saturday, May 25, 2013

Movie Trailer: Gravity

"Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) is a brilliant medical engineer on her first shuttle mission, with veteran astronaut Matt Kowalsky (George Clooney). But on a seemingly routine spacewalk, disaster strikes. The shuttle is destroyed, leaving Stone and Kowalsky completely alone-tethered to nothing but each other and spiraling out into the blackness. The deafening silence tells them they have lost any link to Earth...and any chance for rescue. As fear turns to panic, every gulp of air eats away at what little oxygen is left. But the only way home may be to go further out into the terrifying expanse of space."


Friday, May 24, 2013

Early Review: Binding the Shadows by Jenn Bennett

Title: Binding the Shadows
Author: Jenn Bennett
Series: Arcadia Bell, book 3
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Pocket Books
Source: Review copy from author
Format: E-book
“Demons sure know how to kill a girl’s buzz.

Renegade mage and bartender Arcadia Bell has had a rough year, but now the door to her already unstable world is becoming completely unhinged. When a citywide crime wave erupts, Cady’s demon-friendly tiki bar is robbed by Earthbounds wielding surreal demonic abilities that just flat-out shouldn’t exist. With the help of her devilishly delicious boyfriend, Lon Butler, Cady sets out to find the people who wronged her—but her targets aren’t the only ones experiencing unnatural metamorphoses. Can Cady track down the monsters responsible before the monster inside her destroys everything—and everyone—she loves? If she survives this adventure, one thing is certain: it’s last call for life as she knows it.”
Binding the Shadows is the third book in the Arcadia Bell series by Jenn Bennett.

Sometimes after reading a first book in a series you can’t believe it’s a debut novel. After finishing it you start to follow the author and look forward to the second book, and then you read the second book and can’t believe it was even better than the first one. After that, you start to stalk the author and start the countdown to the release of the following installment. Then you read the third book and you can’t believe it, it’s even better than previous two books, you are in awe with the author and start to consider moving to the same town where the author lives; if you are her neighbor there is a possibility that you could spy through her window and get a peek to the manuscript of next book. Then it occurs to you that maybe the author writes about demons because she has dealings with them, maybe she sold her soul to one or promise to make them famous in exchange of gifting her with a genius writing style. If that is the case demons could visit her frequently and it would be better if you don’t live close to her.
All those thoughts and more passed through my head after I finished Binding the Shadows. Why? Because this book was made of awesome.

One of the best things about this book and this series in general is how Mrs. Bennett writes her characters in a way that they grow in front of our eyes.

I loved Cady since the moment I met her in Kindling the Moon (first book in the series) and my love for her has only intensified throughout the books. I love that she is not perfect and as any other person has insecurities. I also love that she can ask for help when needed and loves Lone and Jupe unconditionally because in them she has finally found the family she never had.
In Binding the Shadows Cady is experiencing many changes, things she can’t explain are happening to her, and when she look for answers what she learns is not pretty or easy to take. The good thing is that she’s not alone; Lon is there and will be there for her when she needs him.

Lon is a dreamy hero, he’s an alpha and a protector at heart. He feels life has giving him a chance to be happy in Cady’s arms and is willing to do anything to keep her safe and by his side.
Cady and Lon together are stronger than apart, they know this and they won’t permit anything to come between them.

In Binding the Shadows we meet Lon’s ex-wife, his ex-mother in law and ex-sister in law. As is expected this brings some conflict to the story and increases Cady’s insecurities, but Lon as the gentle, caring and loving man he is makes sure that it’s clear to everybody around him than Cady is very important in his life and is there to stay. *swoon*

I usually don’t like kids in books because (usually) they don’t bring anything to the story and feel more like fillers than real characters. That’s not the case with Lon’s son, Jupe. Jupe is as important in this series and as well-written as Cady or Lon. I really could not imagine these books without him.
Jupe is another character that we have seen grow page by page. I really like how awkward (in a good way), funny, different and sweet he is.
I also love how he has accepted Cady in their lives and sees her almost as the mother he has never had and wish he could have.
I like Jupe so much and he is such a great character that I think he should have a spin-off (YA) series just for him.

In Binding the Shadows we also see some characters from previous books like Cady’s best friend Kar-Yee, the demon/drug dealer Hajo, Cady’s mother and the head of the Hellfire Club, Ambrose Dare. These characters played important roles in many of the events in Binding the Shadows. I don’t want to say much about them, let’s just say that one these characters will get what he/she deserves and for the others we’ll have to wait and see what Mrs. Bennett has in store for them in future books.

Mrs. Bennett character and relationships development is top-notch. Her world building is creative, vivid and realistic. Her writing is fluid, spotless and with the perfect balance of drama and humor. Binding the Shadows is not only action packed, but it’s also an emotional rollercoaster-page-turner that you won’t be able to put down.

Binding the Shadows exceed my expectations and left me dying for more. The end may be considered a cliffhanger for some; for me it was actually something I was expecting because there were signs here and there of what it was to come, so it wasn’t a shocking surprise for me but one that left me wanting to move near to Atlanta, more specifically Mrs. Bennett neighborhood.

Binding the Shadows could be read as a stand-alone because Mrs. Bennett does a good job reminding us about events from previous books without being repetitive, still I recommend you to start with Kindling the Moon and go from there to get the whole Arcadia Bell experience. I can’t recommend you enough this book and this series in general.

I’m eagerly waiting for May 2014 to the release of next book in the series, Crossing the Æthyr.

My Verdict: 5 Paws

Other books in the series
Kindling the Moon
Leashing the Tempest (novella)
Binding the Shadows
Banishing the Dark (May 2014)

Other reviews Goodreads

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Cover Revealed: The Spider by Jennifer Estep

The Spider
Elemental Assassin # 10
Urban Fantasy
December 31st, 2013

"For the first time, the origins of Gin Blanco’s career as the deadly assassin “the Spider” are revealed in full. In a story that pre-dates the other nine books in the series, Gin Blanco goes through her paces to become the most feared assassin in the Ashland."

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Jessica McClain Ultimate Swag Giveaway

Amanda Carlson is hosting an Ultimate Swag Giveaway to celebrate the release of Hot Blooded, second book in her highly successful Jessica McClain Series.

This giveaway is open internationally, to participate you only need to fill up the Rafflecopter form below. 

Full Blooded 
Jessica McClain #1 
"Born the only female in an all male race, Jessica McClain isn’t just different—she’s feared. 

After living under the radar for the last twenty-six years, Jessica is thrust unexpectedly into her first change, a full ten years late. She wakes up and finds she’s in the middle of a storm. Now that she’s become the only female full-blooded werewolf in town, the supernatural world is already clamoring to take a bite out of her and her new Pack must rise up and protect her. 

But not everyone is on board. The werewolf Rights of Laws is missing text and the superstitious werewolves think that Jessica means an end to their race. It doesn’t help when Jessica begins to realize she’s more. She can change partway and hold her form, and speak directly to her wolf. But the biggest complication by far is that her alpha father can't control her like he can the rest of his wolves. 

When a mercenary who’s been hired by the vampires shows up to extract information about the newly turned werewolf only days after her change, they find themselves smack in the middle of a war and there's no choice but to run together. When it’s up to Jessica to negotiate her release against her father’s direct orders, she chooses to take an offer for help instead. In exchange, Jessica must now swear an oath she may end up repaying with her life."

Hot Blooded 
Jessica McClain #2
"It hasn't been the best week for Jessica McClain. 

Her mate has been kidnapped by a Goddess hell-bent on revenge --- but Jessica is playing for keeps. 

Because she's the only female werewolf in comes with its own set of rules...and powers. 

Aided by two vamps, two loyal Pack members, and one very reluctant human, Jessica must rescue her man while coming to terms with what being a wolf really means. 

All in a day's work for a girl. 

The second novel in the Jessica McClain series is a full on action adventure featuring one angry Goddess and plenty of monsters, demons, and a few newly risen beasties..."

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, May 20, 2013

Review: All He Ever Dreamed by Shannon Stacey

Title: All He Ever Dreamed
Author: Shannon Stacey
Series: Kowalski Family, book 6
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Harkequin
Source: Review copy from publisher
Format: E-book
“Josh Kowalski is tired of holding down the fort—better known as the Northern Star Lodge—while his siblings are off living their dreams. Now that his oldest brother has returned to Whitford, Maine for good, Josh is free to chase some dreams of his own. 
As the daughter of the lodge's longtime housekeeper, Katie Davis grew up alongside the Kowalski kids. Though she's always been "one of the guys", her feelings for Josh are anything but sisterly. And after a hot late-night encounter in the kitchen, it's clear Josh finally sees her as the woman she is. 
Katie's been waiting years for Josh to notice her, but now that he has, she's afraid it's too late. Giving her heart to a man who can't wait to leave town is one sure way to have it broken. But Josh keeps coming up with excuses not to leave—could it be that everything he's ever wanted is closer than he could have imagined?” 
All He Ever Dreamed is the sixth book in the Kowalski Family series by Shannon Stacey.

Before All He Ever Dreamed I had only read first two books in this series; despite noticing there was a backstory regarding some of the characters I can say All He Ever Dreamed can be easily read as a stand-alone.

Since the death of his father Josh Kowalski has been stuck managing the family business. Years have passed and Josh is tired of his life, the last thing he wants is continuing managing the Northern Star Lodge. All his siblings went away and live their lives while he was left behind with all the responsibility. After being honest for the first time to his brothers and sister about his feelings towards the lodge and his dissatisfying life, Josh is just waiting for an opportunity to leave the lodge and the town behind.
Katie Davis has been Josh best friend since she can remember, she has also being in love with him for much of her life, but sadly Josh only sees her as his buddy. All this changes suddenly one night when Josh realizes Katie is not only his friend but also a very beautiful woman. Katie takes advantage of these new awaken feelings in Josh and despite knowing that Josh’s ultimate plan is to leave the lodge and the town behind they start a relationship.
Things are going well between them but the ghost of Josh’s leaving is always on the horizon, until one day when the opportunity arises. Now Josh will need to decide if his dream is out of town or if it has been by his side all his life.

I have mixed feelings about All He Ever Dreamed. There were things I like and some others not so much.
I liked Josh siblings and the interest they show in helping Josh in this book; but still I couldn’t believe that they all had been so selfish and no one of them ever thought about asking Josh if managing the Lodge was what he wanted to do, or if he wanted to go to college or do something else with his life like they all have done. It was easy to see they felt guilty and they should because what they did it was not fair with Josh.

I liked Josh and understood his desire to do something else, what I didn’t understand was that if he wanted to leave town so much and do something else with his life why he didn’t have a plan. What he said he wanted to do was something he could have easily done if he only would have taken couple of weeks of vacation a year. His lack of planning in his life made him feel immature for his age.
Another thing I didn’t quite believe is that he never saw Katie as a woman and only as a “buddy”, he never noticed she had a nice body or that she was beautiful. He’s a man and he could be the best friend/buddy or anything, guys always notice those things.

I felt bad for Katie; I can’t imagine being in love with somebody very close to you and that person being oblivious to your feelings for so many years. I also felt that she settle for anything with him. For example, on the beginning of their relationship she didn’t know what kind of relationship they were having, she was ok with only being friends with benefits just to be with him. Also at the end, after what happened between them (I’m trying not too give spoilers away), when Josh’s professes his love for her she was to quick to accept, if I would have been her I would have liked to have more guarantees to make sure that I was what he really wanted and not the best option because he couldn’t find anything better. 

Talking about their relationship there was something lacking here. I believe they were friends and had a good friendship, but when their relationship changed I didn’t feel the romance. It was very physical but I didn’t feel a real romantic connection between them.

Notwithstanding the little problems I had with the story and the characters All He Ever Dreamed was a well-written, fun and sweet read. All He Ever Dreamed is perfect for those days when you want something light and easy to read or if you like small town romance stories.

My Verdict: 3 ½ Paws

Other books in the series
Exclusively Yours
Undeniable Yours
Yours to Keep
All He Ever Needed
All He Ever Desired
All He Ever Dreamed

Other reviews Goodreads
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