Monday, July 30, 2012

Trust In Advertising by Victoria Michaels

Lexi White finds herself at a crossroads. After putting everything on hold to care for her ailing father, it’s finally time for her to start living her life again. An exciting new job holds the promise of a fresh start, until she comes face to face with someone from her past who has always stopped her dead in her tracks, and who evidently still has the power to make her forget her own name. This time around, Lexi’s a grown woman who refuses to back away from her dreams, even if it requires working with her old high school crush. Side by side. Every day. Will he end up being her downfall or exactly what she needs?
Vincent doesn’t even remember Lexi from high school, but he begins to take notice when the fiery young woman is hired as his new assistant. Quickly, Lexi turns his world upside down and becomes an invaluable addition not only to his team, but to his life. Having learned a few hard lessons about trust in the past, Vincent is reluctant to let down his guard, especially when it appears that someone is out to sabotage his family’s advertising agency. Professionally, they are dynamite together, but when sparks fly between them personally, will Vincent let lies and jealousy ruin everything between them, or will he finally learn not only how to love, but ultimately trust…in advertising?

As far as I’m concerned, 3 stars still signifies a good book; just not a great book. Trust In Advertising was a good book, for the most part. I had a bit of a hard time figuring out where to start with this review, mainly because about half way through the book I felt myself getting more and more disappointed. I read Boycotts & Barflies by Victoria Michaels about a month ago and loved it so I had high hopes for this book as well. Sadly, it didn’t quite live up to my expectations…and in some parts was just a little farfetched.

The storyline is pretty cut and dry: Lexi White moves back to San Francisco and interviews at different ad agencies to try and get her foot in the door; unfortunately, she never finished college because she was helping her father who had developed Alzheimer’s…I loved Lexi for that, by the way. Of course, the company she desperately wants to land a job at calls her the same day as her interview and offers her the job. She couldn’t be more excited until she finds out that her boss is Vincent Drake; her infamous high school crush. While working together, they get closer and they both start to wonder if they could be exactly what the other needs.

At first, I absolutely loved this book. The witty banter between Vincent and Lexi was adorable and had me grinning from ear to ear. She knew how to hold her own without being overbearing, and seemed to be the only assistant he has ever had that didn’t piss herself when he flipped his sh*t over something. She also doesn’t take sh*t from Vincent’s demon-spawn, supermodel girlfriend, Jade. I loved that Lexi seemed to be a strong female character that wasn’t going to be somebody’s doormat…..

All that changed when I was about 75% done. Lexi started to annoy me. Actually, her and Vincent both started to annoy me. First of all, Lexi wanted to make it very clear that she was in no way interested in being involved with Vincent while he was still with Jade. Well, sorry to tell you honey…but actions speak louder than words. You can slap him and “take a stand” all you want, but when you kiss his cheek for photo ops on the red carpet, walk arm-in-arm into a fashion show, and then tell him he can kiss your hand all he wants…you aren’t a strong woman anymore. You are what people call a hypocrite. I understand her feelings for Vincent may have been overwhelming and by God, Jade was vile…but if you are going to make a big speech about how you refuse to be put in the middle of a relationship, then don’t do sh*t that you know is absolutely going to put you in the middle.

 I also noticed that Lexi tended to cry a lot. I mean, a lot. She cried when Vincent simply told her “Not everything is about you, Lexi.” First of all, he had every right to make that comment to her considering the situation, and second of all I don’t believe that warrants tears. (Keep in mind, this is coming from someone who is pretty damn emotional.) Vincent annoyed me in the sense that he never stood up to Jade, no matter what she said to Lexi or Vincent’s family. He claims to be this macho man but seems to lose his backbone when it comes to putting Jade in her place. Whatev.

Honestly, it was a good book but the second half is what took it from being great to just good. It was a little long in my opinion, and it seemed to drag once I hit around 65%. If I find myself constantly checking how close I am to finishing a book, it’s not a good sign. I feel like it’s just confirmation that I’m getting bored. I hate that feeling. I did like that it revolved around the advertising world, but then again, I’m a little biased considering advertising/public relations is my major. That being said, I find it hard to believe a huge advertising agency would promote Lexi as fast as they did considering she didn’t have a degree in advertising…let alone a degree at all. I just found that a little unrealistic, but oh well. The two characters that completely saved this book from plunging from a 4 star to a 2 star? Hope and Sean. I loved them. I liked Sean more than Vincent to be completely honest. Overall, it’s a good book although it does drag a little once you hit the halfway mark, and the storyline is a tad predictable. I’d still encourage people to check it out…even if it is just to read about Hope and Sean :)

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Cranes Dance by Meg Howrey

I threw my neck out in the middle of Swan Lake last night.
So begins the tale of Kate Crane, a soloist in a celebrated New York City ballet company. Kate is struggling to keep her place in a very demanding world, a world she can’t help satirizing even as she balances injury and self-doubt to maintain her place within it. At every turn she is haunted by her close relationship with her younger sister, Gwen, a fellow company dancer whose career quickly surpassed Kate’s, but who has recently suffered a breakdown and returned home to Michigan.

Alone for the first time in her life, Kate is anxious and full of guilt about the role she played in her sister’s collapse. As we follow her on an insider tour of rehearsals, performances, and partners onstage and off, she confronts the tangles of love, jealousy, pride, and obsession that are beginning to fracture her own sanity. Funny, dark, intimate, and unflinchingly honest, The Cranes Dance is a book that pulls back the curtains to reveal the private lives of dancers and explores the complicated bond between sisters.

“I felt something stir in me. That feeling dancing well can give you. I was almost scared to take in that drug. It’s so easy to get hooked.” - Kate

I love that quote, and I absolutely understand that feeling. Here’s a little background info for you about me: I was a dancer for 14 years, and took every class my studio offered: ballet, pointe, tap, jazz, hip hop, and contemporary.  I considered dancing professionally, but ultimately decided college was a safer route; however after eating, breathing, and sleeping dance for 14 years of my life, I can relate to a lot of this book. I actually thought I would finish it a lot faster than I did, because it revolved around the life of a ballet dancer. I jump at the opportunity to read any dance-related book, especially if it’s written by someone who has experienced the dance world firsthand. I thought the first half was a bit sluggish in parts, but the second half read much faster.

Kate Crane is a soloist with a prestigious ballet company in New York City, along with her younger sister, Gwen, who is a principal dancer. Kate watched her sister’s career surpass her own, while at the same time coming to the realization that her sister was going through some serious psychological problems. She developed an obsession with numbers, taped X’s to the walls with duct tape, and sometimes intentionally hurt herself. Finally, Kate calls their parents and Gwen is taken back to Michigan to get help; in the meantime, Kate has managed to throw her neck out during a performance of Swan Lake and starts popping Vicodin like they’re mints because she refuses to sit out due to injury.

The first 15 or so pages are used to explain the meaning behind Swan Lake, but she actually describes it in a funny, almost sarcastic way. I contemplated skipping ahead since I already knew the meaning behind it, but I’m really glad I didn’t. It’s pretty comical. Kate in general is actually pretty funny, even if she is hooked on Vicodin and constantly dealing with the aftermath of her sister leaving New York. Throughout the book, it seems almost as though Kate isn’t a ballerina because she loves to dance; she’s a ballerina simply because she wants to be great at something, and she just happens to be great at dancing.

There were so many moments throughout the book where I got a pretty nostalgic, because I knew exactly what Meg Howrey was talking about; here are just a couple of my favorite examples:

“ Always left hand on the barre first, then turn around and repeat with the right hand on the barre. Hand on the barre lightly, please. It’s not a crutch.”

“Pliés, tendus, dégagés, fondus, rondes de jambe, rondes de jambe en l’air, frappes, développés, grande battements. You do all this from your first ballet class and it’s part of you.”

“Technique. There’s one right way to do everything. Every other way is wrong.” (I would be a rich lady if I had a quarter for every time I heard one of my dance teachers preach this!)

This, however, is my favorite quote from the book:

“Is there a better sound than when the house lights are brought down and a lowering murmur takes hold of the audience?” (While you’re a dancer waiting in the wings doing your final stretches before taking the stage, I can tell you that there absolutely is not. I get chills just thinking about it.)

This is a pretty good book with a lot of inside knowledge to the world of ballet, and dance in general. The curtain gets pulled back and you see the grueling, competitive, exhausting rehearsals that lead up to the performances, the drama between fellow dancers, the injuries, and the constant need to keep your weight down. I don’t think you have to be a dancer to enjoy the book, although I don’t know how much I would have liked it if I didn’t have a lot of interest in dancing. The relationships, romance, etc. all take a backseat in this book; the main storyline is Kate’s journey through the ballet company, and it’s a pretty wild one.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

COVER REVEAL: Avoiding Commitment by K.A. Linde

Expected Publication: August 1, 2012

Avoiding Commitment is the first book in a series, and is followed by Avoiding Responsibility. K.A. Linde has yet to set a release date for the second book in the series.

Jack and Lexi never had a typical relationship. After 2 years without speaking, she receives a phone call that changes everything. He unexpectedly asks her to convince the new girl, Bekah, that he's ready to commit. Jack is calling now after everything they had been through because there is another woman. She can't believe it. Follow Lexi in this heart wrenching drama as she relives her past relationship, or lack thereof, with Jack, and not just in her own mind, but to his fiancee-to-be. Throw in Bekah's hot brother who always seems to be in the right place at the right time, a past with more secrets to unravel than you can even imagine, and you get a recipe for disaster. Find out what happens to Lexi as she travels to Atlanta to get the closure she so desperately desires from Jack, and how the bumps of life seem to keep getting in the way.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Easy by Tammara Webber

When Jacqueline follows her longtime boyfriend to the college of his choice, the last thing she expects is a breakup. After two weeks in shock, she wakes up to her new reality: she’s single, attending a state university instead of a music conservatory, ignored by her former circle of friends, stalked by her ex’s frat brother, and failing a class for the first time in her life.
Her econ professor gives her an email address for Landon, the class tutor, who shows her that she’s still the same intelligent girl she’s always been. As Jacqueline becomes interested in more from her tutor than a better grade, his teasing responses make the feeling seem mutual. There’s just one problem – their only interactions are through email.
Meanwhile, a guy in her econ class proves his worth the first night she meets him. Nothing like her popular ex or her brainy tutor, Lucas sits on the back row, sketching in a notebook and staring at her. Ata downtown club, he disappears after several dances that leave her on fire. When he asks if he can sketch her, alone in her room, she agrees – hoping for more.
Then Jacqueline discovers a withheld connection between her supportive tutor and her seductive classmate, her ex comes back into the picture, and her stalker escalates his attention by spreading rumors that they’ve hooked up. Suddenly appearances are everything, and knowing who to trust is anything but easy.

“Please don’t ask me to say stop.” – Jacqueline

Seriously, I’m sitting here writing this review and pouting like a 5-year-old who’s upset because she isn’t allowed to have a cookie before dinner. The difference between me and a 5-year-old is that I don’t care about the damn cookie; I’m upset that I’m done with this book! I want MORE! I never wanted this book to end. It kind of felt like a catch 22; I wanted to read it fast because I was dying to know what happened next, but I didn’t want the story to end so I was trying to cool my jets and make this book last longer than a day. I have willpower in a lot of situations; putting off a book just because I don’t want the story to end isn’t one of them.

I was hooked from page 1. I love books that start off with something huge instead of making me mosey through a few chapters before I finally start getting into the meat and potatoes of the story, and Easy definitely didn’t make me wait. I feel like I don’t even know where to start with reviewing this book, because it’s so good that it almost puts me beyond words. The storyline was perfect and flowed wonderfully. I honestly don’t think there was one dull moment where I was thinking “okay, let’s speed this up a little, homegirl’s gettin bored.” I was just enthralled from start to finish.

The chemistry between Lucas and Jacqueline turned me into a huge freaking cheeseball. I was just sitting there reading with a ridiculous grin plastered on my face any time they interacted with each other. Well, almost any time. When I finally found out what happened to Lucas’s mom, I wanted to cry. And when he tells her to leave after he finds out what she did behind his back, my heart sank. I just wanted to hug both of them in that moment! They are so perfect together it’s ridiculous! And seriously, Lucas is the perfect guy. The. Perfect. Guy. He has the bad boy look that I always seem to swoon over, he’s smart, he’s artsy, he can cook, and he’s so damn sweet! I love that he didn’t try to rush anything physical with Jacqueline…although the buildup to them finally “completing the transaction” was about to drive me crazy! That being said, it was definitely worth the wait. I actually thought there would be more angst in their relationship, but I was pleasantly surprised. Yes, they both had their own issues but there wasn’t any major drama between them.

Honestly, I don’t really know what else to say about it other than it was in-freaking-credible. There is a very real issue presented in the book that is rarely talked about, and I love how Tammara handled it. Seriously, this is a book that you need to buy right now. It’s a wonderfully written romance, and I’ll just add Lucas and Jacqueline to the list of couples from books that I have soft spots for. Now, I’ll if you’ll excuse me…I’m going to go look for a Lucas ;)

Friday, July 20, 2012

A Whisper To A Scream by Lauren Hammond

(The Sociopath Diaries, book 1)
Sometimes love…can be deadly.
Ellory Graham detested high school. She relished the fact that she was a rebel. A wild, carefree, type of girl. She basked in the glory of being the type of girl who stood up to authority. Unfortunately for her, her upfront, honest and bitchy nature always managed to land her in some kind of trouble.
Adam Jacobs was everything Ellory was not. Not only was he beautiful, but he was smart, artistic, and sweet. To almost every girl he seemed like the total package – that all around perfect guy. But in a town where nothing particularly interesting happens, and gossip seems like the only fun thing to do, sometimes those perfections become flaws. And it doesn’t take long for Ellory to find out, even Adam has secrets.
But Adam’s secrets are the kind of secrets people die for…

I really wanted to like this book, really I did; I just recently read two other books by Lauren Hammond and I just absolutely loved them, so I was hoping I would love this one just as much. *Le sigh* I didn’t. Maybe it’s just not my cup o’ tea because the majority of the reviews I have read were positive, but there was just too much I couldn’t get past. Let’s dive right in, shall we?

Ellory is a rebel with a mouth like a sailor and a just-don’t-give-a-damn attitude. She sneaks out of the house, gets drunk at high school parties then proceeds to make out with random dudes, and generally doesn’t care for anyone except her two friends, Wren and Molly.  She doesn’t want to be in a relationship…ever…because she refuses to even entertain the idea of possibly getting her heart broken.

Adam has issues. Not small issues like he doesn’t like the circus because clowns creep him out, or he thinks there is a zombie under his bed; no…the dude is obsessed with blood. It starts when he sees his dad cut himself shaving, then he escalates to killing animals, and then…well… he starts wanting to slit girls’ throats. He is accused and acquitted of murdering his former girlfriend in Chicago just before his parents pick up and move to a small town in Ohio. He’s trying to keep his “urges” under control, and Ellory is the only girl he can be around and not want to slice her throat. Charming. Any who, he tries to hide the fact that he’s a monster from her, but how long can he keep his urges at bay…and if she does find out what he really is, will she run away screaming? (Um… she should!)

This book just didn’t do it for me. I think part of it was the fact that him being a sociopath was kind of downplayed, and Ellory was just like “Oh, you’re a sociopath? Ain’t no thang!” I get that she’s in love with him, but the fact that she seemed to accept this maaaajor issue with the solace of knowing he would never hurt her just bothered me. I couldn’t get past it. I like female characters that have a backbone and are independent, as opposed to the ones who act like they need a man to survive (I’m looking at you, Bella Swan) but I just didn’t really care much for Ellory. Not to mention, if she’s such a b*tch to everyone, how in the world did she end up on the homecoming court? It’s not like she has a ton of friends, she seems to sleep through quite a few of her classes, and doesn’t go out of her way to be friendly to her classmates. I’m…confused.

I still don’t quite understand the end. I may go back and re-read the last 15 or so pages just to try and maybe figure out what in holy hell actually happened…but that’s a solid maybe. I know it’s a self-published book, but even so, there were an extreme number of typos and words left out of sentences all together. I try not to let that stuff bother me because I love indie authors, but it was a bit excessive in this book.

Oh, and there’s a quote that explains Adam’s skills as a quarterback, saying he can “throw a football like Jerry Rice.” I’m a huge sports fan and maybe that’s why this bothers me…but Jerry Rice wasn’t a quarterback. He was a wide receiver. Not just a wide receiver, but probably the best wide receiver to ever play in the NFL! He’s doesn’t throw the football; he catches the football. I know, I know, I feel like I’m being a nitpicker (and I’m really not trying to be, I swear) but that just killed me!

Now there were some redeeming qualities about the book: I liked Wren, even if she wasn’t a huge character, and there were some really sweet moments between Ellory and Adam; but the dude is crazy. The suspense and mystery surrounding Miss Miller was intriguing, and honestly, that was a big part of why I kept reading. I needed to know what the sh*t was up with this weirdo teacher!

Overall, this just didn’t do it for me. Like I said, I loved the other two books by Lauren Hammond that I’ve read, so I really wanted to like this; I just couldn’t. Clearly a lot of other people enjoyed this book so maybe I’m just not getting something, who knows. I hate giving bad reviews, especially to authors who have written books that I love, but I just can’t pretend to like a book if I don’t. I just can’t do it.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Thomas & January by Fisher Amelie

(Sleepless series, book 2)
Thomas Eriksson thinks he has it all figured out.
“People crossed the street when they saw me. I’m not really sure why that was. I mean, okay, I might have looked a bit intimidating if I was being truthful with you. I’d changed since New York. New York represented a life that wasn’t real, not truthfully, anyway. No, New York was the ‘young, immature, in love, idiot’ side of Tom. The ‘Tie-Dye Tom of New York City’ didn’t exist anymore. Tie-Dye Tom was dead.”
January MacLochlainn thinks she’s her own worst enemy.
“I quit Berkeley. Threw away a full scholarship. Plans, you ask? What plans?”
But they’re both wrong. Life for Thomas and January will never be the same again…whether they like it or not.

 “You revived me. You saved me. You did what I’m convinced no other person could have done and believe me they’d tried.” – Thomas

Alrighty, I just want to start out by saying this: Don’t go into this book and expect another story like Callum & Harper, or I think you’ll unfortunately be disappointed. This book’s issues aren’t nearly as heavy as in Callum & Harper; it’s a lighter romantic story. I put Callum & Harper out of my mind and tried not to compare to the two books, because they are very different.  That being said, I loved Thomas and January’s story.

When Thomas is offered a job in Austin, TX as a talent scout, he jumps at the opportunity and takes his broken heart far away from Kelly and New York City. He drops his lighthearted attitude and adopts the personality of an asshole. He starts dressing in dark t-shirts, black hoodies, and black boots. He never lets girls in because he refuses to have his heart broken again; Enter January.

Fresh off being kicked out of her parent’s house because she dropped the bombshell that she wouldn’t be going back to Berkeley, she lands a job at Seven; the same company Thomas works for, and soon learns she will be accompanying him to Europe to scout bands overseas. Why are both of them dreading traveling together? Well, because they’ve already met…sort of…and let’s just say it didn’t go so well. While they are clearly attracted to each other, they have both put up a wall against the other…but just how long will that last?

I just love Thomas and January. Their witty banter back and forth was hilarious, and seeing the progression in both of their feelings towards each other made my heart smile. Thomas started out so cold towards January that I almost didn’t like him, but what he does for her on the ferry is the first time I think I realized that sweet New York Tom was still in there somewhere, and January progressively gets him to break down the walls he’s built up one by one. I think my favorite part of the book is when he finally completely opens up to her about his past while they’re sitting on the floor of the hotel room…or when they’re in the back of the cop car…or when he shows up at her grandma’s house. Okay, okay, fine! I have a lot of favorite parts, but it’s because I loved their story so much! Their issues weren’t as big as Callum and Harper’s, but they were issues they had to work through nonetheless, and some of those issues broke my heart a little.

One other plus is that you get to catch up with the characters from Callum & Harper, which I loved because I adored all of them.  If you enjoyed Callum & Harper, I would definitely recommend this book, but you just can’t go into it expecting the same type of love story. Thomas and January have their own story, and it’s adorable, frustrating, sometimes a little steamy, and incredibly entertaining.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

White Walls by Lauren Hammond

(Asylum series, book 2)
Adelaide Carmichael knows that she lost her mind. She’s aware that she’s being sent to The Oakhill Institution, but she’s been told that she’s being sent there to get better. She’s been told that the staff is there to help.
And it doesn’t take Adelaide long to discover that she was very, very wrong about The Oakhill Institution. Patients roam the halls like zombies. Electric current vibrate through the plaster walls. Patients are fed sedatives like mashed potatoes and now Adelaide knows one thing for sure, she wants out.
And she’ll do whatever she can to escape.

“Something else tells me that we just might be what each other needs to keep each other from falling apart.” – Addy

Lordy, Lordy, Lordy. I’m kind of at a loss for where to start with this a good way. Although White Walls wasn’t quite as good as Insanity, I still absolutely loved it. First of all, I have to admit something… when I started this book, I didn’t know it was going to tell the story of Addy’s first trip to Oakhill and finally tell us why she always felt a connection to Dr. Watson in Insanity; I thought it was picking up where we left off so I was all sorts of confused. Whatever, I’ll chalk it up to having a blonde moment I guess. Secondly, I loved that this book had a different feel to it; Insanity was kind of a f*cked up, heartbreaking rollercoaster ride, but White Walls kind of has the overlying feelings of hope and contentment. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still intense, but I think the crazy is dialed down a notch or two.

Addy seems a little more lucid while she’s at Oakhill during this book, and isn’t quite as defiant and batsh*t crazy as she is in Insanity, although she’s definitely a few crayons short of a box. She’s dealing with finding out the truth about what really happened to her mother, the aftermath of father’s trial, and of course, Damien. You know, I’m just not really digging Damien anymore. The way Addy sees him and how he “acts” towards her makes me want to punch him in the throat…if I could, of course. And honestly, who needs Damien when you have Elijah Watson?!

My, oh my…Elijah Watson. I swooned over him more than I ever did for Damien to be completely honest. The relationship between him and Addy had me grinning like the freaking Cheshire cat, and the more I learned about Elijah’s background, the more I was convinced that he and Addy are two peas in a pod; they just belong together.

I loved this book, just not quite as much as Insanity. I am super antsy to read the third book, and judging by the short excerpt at the end of White Walls, it’s going to blow my freaking mind!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Insanity by Lauren Hammond

(Asylum series, book 1)
Sometimes love…can drive you crazy.
Adelaide Carmichael and Damien Allen couldn’t be more opposite. Adelaide’s mother abandoned her when she was ten years old, leaving her to be raised by her abusive and alcoholic father. Damien on the other hand came from a wealthy family, was a local celebrity, and seemed to have a bright future ahead of him.
Despite their differences, Adelaide and Damien were young, wild, and fiercely in love. And they had a plan. They were going to run away. Be together forever. And their plan was set in motion, until tragedy struck and for some reason, Adelaide wound up in The Oakhill Institution for the insane.
Adelaide has no idea what she did to wind up at Oakhill, but she knows one thing for sure…she wants out. And after Damien follows her there to aid in her escaping, Adelaide slowly begins putting together the pieces of her memory that are missing.
And it doesn’t take Adelaide long to figure out that sometimes…that one true love never dies.

“I’m like a whirlpool in the middle of a choppy sea, once you’re in my grasp I’ll have no choice, I’ll snatch you by the leg, and pull you under.” –Addy

I just…How can I…WHAT THE F*CK JUST HAPPENED?!? I finished this book a few hours ago, and I am still trying to put this review into words. I had heard that Insanity would mess with my head but I had no idea just how much! It seemed like just when I was starting to maaaaybe understand what was going on, I got sucker punched in the back of the head and lost my bearings…again! There were several instances throughout the book that I went back and read again because I’m not gonna lie, I felt dumb. I hate when I read a book and I feel like I might know what just happened but I’m not completely certain. I’m sitting here talking to myself saying, “well, I think she did…but maybe she didn’t…or maybe HE…” Yes, I was sitting here having a conversation with myself trying to decide if I had just read this sh*t right…I started feeling like maybe I should be committed to Oakhill! Kidding…maybe ;) 

The crazy love story of Addy and Damien is just freaking wonderful. The sacrifices he was willing to…and did make…just to be with her proved that she really was his whole world. They were the couple that never should have been; he came from old money, planned on going to Yale for college, and was the hottest bachelor in town. She came from nothing, felt like she had no future, and dealt with an abusive, drunk father on a daily basis. With his mother telling Addy that she didn’t want her son “slumming it” with her, and her father never letting her ride in a car with a boy…let alone DATE a boy…they had the odds stacked against them, and they never let it matter. They found a way and made a plan to run away together.

The parts of the book with Addy in Oakhill…just…wow. I feel like I can’t really say a whole lot because I absolutely don’t want to give away any spoilers and ruin it, but sweet sassy molassy! Oakhill is just…not right. The pills that make people go mentally numb, the screams they hear from time to time coming from the basement because of electroshock therapy, her crazy roommate, and the handsome but terrifying Dr. Watson all make up the horrifying reality that is now Addy’s world…but she’s determined to escape with the help of Damien, because she’s not crazy. She’s not. Or is she???

This is one of the best books I have read this year and the ending, of course made me freaking cry! Honestly, could I be any more emotional?! Let’s all hope not…cripes. Any who, if you like trippy books, I would absolutely recommend Insanity. But hey, don’t say I didn’t warn you…prepare to be mindf*cked!! (I would say mindfreaked to keep it clean, but that makes me think of Criss Angel and that guy is a douche.)

Thursday, July 12, 2012

COVER REVEAL: Valley Girl by Amy Asbury

Expected Publication Date: Sept. 1, 2012

Valley Girl: Childhood in the 80's is a prequel to Amy Asbury's first book, The Sunset Strip Diaries. You can see my review for The Sunset Strip Diaries here

Pop some pink bubblegum and turn up the boom box: It's time to visit the 1980's. Crazy cartoons, wacky food, crackhead-like candy and the most important decision of a pre-teen's life: new wave or heavy metal? Jelly shoes or checkerboard Vans?
Growing up in California's San Fernando Valley in the 80's was chock full of sunshine and skateboards, but author Amy Asbury takes us through the lesser known issues such as creepy pervs in cars and overly sultry sixth graders. Amongst these lively essays are the 80's pop culture: Why did Simon LeBon's sexy stare work straight through the TV? Why did Cabbage Patch Kids start to run out of good names like Jennifer and start coming out with names like Bertha and Edna? Why did we love camel-toe inducing designer jeans? Why did the bass of "Billie Jean" make us stop in our tracks like a dog hearing a silent whistle? Why did a boy's entire social life depend solely on his kickball skills?
Read about the fights with neighborhood kids, taking down bullies and trying to fit in with the cool chicks; slumber party games, crushes, scary teachers; rivals, finding one's talent (double joints, rolling tongue, or wonky eye tricks), looking at boobs in Sears catalog and forays into capitalism by way of lopsided homemade carnivals and melty sno-cone stands. 
Jump into the salty waves at Zuma beach, eat your 30-scooped zoo sundae at Farrell's Ice Cream Parlor, and get yourself down to the North Mall: It's time to dive into the world of the Valley Girl. 

Preorder your copy of Valley Girl from Barnes & Noble today

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Lean On Me by Cherise Sinclair

(Masters of the Shadowlands series, book 4)
Andrea wants to submit, but not to just any so-called Dom. He has to be tougher than the slum-bred bullies she grew up with. She’d given up finding a true Dom when her friend finagles her a place as a trainee in an exclusive BDSM club with the powerful Shadowlands Masters. Andrea’s thrilled…and terrified.
Forced to accept an unknown submissive into his carefully run trainee program, Master Cullen is furious. Not only is the young woman new to BDSM, but she’s unsuited to her role – armored in leather like a Domme, she’s more liable to punch a Dom than kneel. He decides to push her right back out the door. But as he ruthlessly intimidates her, punishes her, then comforts her, his glimpses of the woman inside the emotional armor intrigue him and her utter surrender captures his heart.
Although Master Cullen is famous for his unfettered lifestyle, Andrea believes he might be interested in her, until she discovers he’s not just a bartender – he’s a cop. Maybe he’s overlook her past brush with the law, but when another trainee accuses her of stealing money, Andrea’s sure she’s lost the Master she wanted with all her heart.

WARNING: This book contains explicit sexual content, graphic language, and a strong BDSM theme.

Well, shit. I think i jinxed it when I said in my review of Breaking Free that there hadn't been any main characters I didn't like so far. After this book, I'm sad to say I can no longer say that. I did enjoy some parts of the book, but this one was by far my least favorite of the series so far.

Andrea is a mouthy, independent sub who can’t seem to find a Dom that she’s willing to submit to. Given her background of growing up in the slums with an alcoholic father who always taught her to stick up for herself and taught her to fight when she was just 10 years old, being a sub isn’t something that naturally comes easy for her; that is, until she becomes a trainee at Club Shadowlands and meets Master Cullen. He’s intimidating, big, and just the type of Dom she needs to make her truly submit. Andrea begins to develop feelings for Master Cullen, but there’s one problem: he never gets involved with his trainees. Well, he never has until now. As much as he tries to talk himself out of it, he finds himself wanting to pursue Andrea beyond the Master/trainee relationship. He becomes frustrated with her attitude at times, but just when it seems that they may be able to take their relationship to the next level, Andrea finds out Master Cullen’s day job is in law enforcement. She has kept her background from everyone except her best friend, and had her previous records sealed in an attempt to forget that part of her life. Unfortunately, her past comes into full focus when fellow trainee, Vanessa, accuses Andrea of stealing her money from her locker. Master Dan, also in law enforcement, manages to obtain Andrea’s record and what he finds in it only backs up Vanessa’s claim that Andrea is a thief. After being kicked out of Club Shadowlands, Andrea fears she will never see Master Cullen again, and worse…he will never want to see her again after he finds out about her past.

Okay. I was so excited for this book because I have liked Master Cullen since the first book, but I was actually kind of disappointed. Don’t get me wrong, there were still some parts of the books that I loved (I’ll get to that a little later) but Andrea just ruined this book for me. I really did try to like her, I promise I did! I just couldn’t. Her whole attitude was more Domme than sub, and her unwillingness to show fear or ask for help at all was just beyond ridiculous. Not to mention, I lost track to how many Doms she accidentally punched just because they touched her. If you want to be a sub, you miiiight want to get used to Doms touching you without freaking punching them! She was just super annoying to me and if I had to hear her say Dios one more time, I was probably going to lose it. I get that she’s Mexican, but cripes…I thinks the word Dios is on every other page. She’s by far my least favorite sub so far…as if you couldn’t already figure that out.

I liked Master Cullen, but not quite as much as I thought I would. He seemed so much wittier and outgoing in the previous three books. My favorite parts of the book were actually the scenes with the other Doms and subs: Master Z, Master Dan, Master Nolan, Jessica, Kari, and Beth. I love that Dan and Kari are married now, and I still think Jessica and Kari are my favorite subs.

I didn’t hate the book, but I didn’t love it either. I didn’t even really like a lot of it, just because Andrea wasn’t my cup of tea. I thought it was okay. The saving grace was the incorporation of the characters from previous books, who I all love. The BDSM content seems to get a little more intense with each book, although there hasn’t been anything that made me really cringe yet…thankfully! Overall, the book was just alright. Am I still looking forward to the next book in the series? “Yes, Sir.” ;)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Breaking Free by Cherise Sinclair

(Masters of the Shadowlands series, book 3)
A sadistic husband left Beth scarred, inside and out. Only at the Shadowlands BDSM club does she feel like a woman. But her fears limit her to Doms who won’t overwhelm her – the ones who cannot arouse her. The Master of the Shadowlands gives her an ultimatum: accept the Dom he assigns or lose her membership. The last thing Beth wants is a ruthless, powerful Dom, but that’s just what she gets.
Asked to take on a problem sub, Nolan sees the issue immediately – although truly submissive, the little redhead is too scared to relinquish control and her Doms have let her get away with it. That will change right now.
As Master Nolan takes Beth under command, compelling her submission, she’s terrified, but the experienced Dom brings her pleasure, not pain. His only demand is that she never lie to him. Under his capable hands, her body comes alive, and she begins to heal. As he pushes her limits, she learns to trust…and then to love. And she realizes he is beginning to care for her in return.
But now her cruel husband has found her, and Master Nolan discovers that she’s been lying and lying and lying…

WARNING: This book contains explicit sexual content, graphic language and a strong BDSM theme.

“Well, hell. He’d gotten sucked right into caring for this little bundle of troubles…” – Nolan

After I finished the third book in the Masters of the Shadowlands series, I realized that I like each book a little more than the last. This book was by far my favorite so far, because it mixes in the steamy, BDSM scenes with a new element that I felt lacked from the previous two: suspense.

Beth has finally run away from her sadistic husband, Kyler, relocated to Florida, and is attempting to dive back into the BDSM scene but not having much luck. She is a submissive to the core, but the previous physical and emotional abuse she endured from her husband has her scared to choose a strong, powerful Dom, so she chooses ones that don’t intimidate her. The problem? The Doms she is choosing don’t get the job done. The solution? Master Z gives her an ultimatum; either she is paired with the Dom of his choosing to remedy her situation or she will lose her membership. With her hands tied (pun intended) she finally agrees and is paired with Master Nolan; a strong, intimidating Iraq veteran. When Master Nolan sees all her physical scars, he realizes he is going to have to do a hell of a lot to get Beth to trust him the way a sub should. While he pushes her limits and gains her trust, they both start to realize there is more to their relationship than just Dom/sub play. Unfortunately, Beth hasn’t been perfectly honest with Nolan about her relationship with Kyler, and it’s only a matter of time before she will have to spill the beans. Not only that, but Kyler isn’t ready to give Beth up yet and is embarking on a manhunt to find her…and then punish her mercilessly for running away.

I have liked all the couples so far in the Shadowlands series, but I think Beth and Nolan just might be my favorite (out of Zachary & Jessica and Dan & Kari.) Beth had the farther to go trust wise because she had been abused so horribly in the past, and Nolan was just so sweet and patient with her. He knew exactly how far to push her without making her turn and run, and he proved that during the 4th of July party at his house. He has Beth restrained and blindfolded, and just as she starts to have a panic attack and use the mild safeword (yellow) he is already in the process of removing her blindfold to calm her down. He is so nurturing and sweet to her, but is incredibly intimidating when he’s in Dom mode…and I dig that!

I loved the incorporation of characters from previous books: Master Z, Jessica, Master Dan, Kari, and Cullen. There hasn’t been one major character from all three books that I haven’t liked, which is rare. It seems like every book I read, I always get annoyed with a main character and wish they would get hit by a bus or something. This series hasn’t disappointed me yet, and I can’t wait to read the fourth book, which focuses on Master Cullen (FINALLY!!) The subplot with Beth and Kyler is what made me like this book a little more than the previous two, because it added the element of suspense that the other two lacked a little bit. If you want a book that involves romance, suspense, and crazy-hot BDSM sex, this is where it’s at y’all! Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m getting a little hot and bothered just thinking about all this, sooo….just read the book. You can thank me later.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Gabriel's Inferno by Sylvain Reynard

(Gabriel's Inferno series, book 1)
Professor Gabriel Emerson, a specialist in Dante and the art of seduction, believes he has already earned his exile to the lower circles of hell. Since redemption is impossible, there is no reason to refrain from indulging in a life of pleasurable sin, using his notorious good looks and sophisticated charm as a means to gratify his every whim. But when he meets Julia Mitchell, a brilliant, lovely, and innocent grad student with the achingly familiar eyes of an angel, all of his cynical convictions are challenged. Her mysterious allure and the havoc she wreaks on his self-satisfied existence cause him to lash out at her, while her quiet beauty and innate goodness consistently undermine his control, tempting him beyond measure.
Despite surviving a traumatic childhood, nothing has shaken Julia’s faith that redemption is possible for everyone – everyone but her. Her unworthiness torments her, since the only man she will ever love has managed to forget her very existence, failing to even recognize her when they reconnect. Too naïve to see that Gabriel’s hostility is a mask for his increasing obsession with her, Julia forces him to come to grips with his past while she continues to unwittingly torment his senses. His fascination grows into a dangerous preoccupation, for Julia is forbidden fruit…
Will Gabriel survive the inferno, or will he succumb to the flames?

“Maybe we don’t deserve each other, but I can choose who I love. And I choose you.” - Julia

I have always been interested in anything regarding Dante’s Inferno and The Divine Comedy, which is the main reason why I chose to read this book and I’m so glad I did. This isn’t your typical romance novel; Gabriel and Julia have a very distinct love story and I was reeled in from the very beginning.

The story starts off with Julia being called on by Professor Emerson in one of her classes at the University of Toronto. Julia has been in her own little world, and is unable to answer his question; he begins to get angry with her (yet he can’t quite understand why he’s being this way towards her) and embarrass her in front of the whole class. Luckily, a handsome classmate named Paul happens to be sitting next to her and comes to her rescue…well, sort of. He decides to distract her from the Professor’s angry, burning glances at her, and slides her a note that reads “Emerson is an ass.”  Thinking that the only person who can see her is Paul, she giggles at the note and once again attracts Professor Emerson’s attention, and this time he demands that Julia see him in his office after class.

It’s after this that we begin to piece together the history between Gabriel and Julia, although I will say…I didn’t care for Gabriel one bit at first. He came off as an arrogant, condescending, asshole and poor, skittish Julia was his prey. The way he reacted when he first walked into her little studio apartment for the first time made me want to smack him! She’s a grad student living on student loans, homie! Do you think she’s going to be able to afford a penthouse apartment with marble countertops, hardwood floors, and a view of Toronto’s skyline?! Ugh. I just wanted to punch him right in the throat. That is…until he finally put the pieces together and remembered who Julia was and how he knew her. Their backstory was incredibly unexpected (at least to me) and oddly refreshing, not to mention I love the entwinement of Dante and Beatrice that stems back to the first time they met each other.

I adored Julia and her innocence actually made me like her even more. There are some novels I’ve read where the virgin is just too innocent and it bugs the crap out of me! Julia wasn’t written that way and so appreciated that. Her innocence was sweet and endearing. She was ignored by her father and emotionally abused by her mother as a child, not to mention had some horrible experiences with an awful ex-boyfriend during college which have left her self-conscious, shy, and with the feeling that no one will ever love her. My heart went out to Julia multiple times while reading this book, and I loved watching her progression to finally realize that she deserves to be treated like a queen…and more importantly, that she absolutely does deserve to be loved.

The issues Gabriel and Julia had to overcome to be together…including the whole student/teacher relationship, which the university has a zero-tolerance policy on…prove just how much they really love each other. They are perfect together, and she really is the Beatrice to his Dante. She’s the sunshine to his darkness, and he spends his days showering her with love and building up her confidence that was beyond broken. They both have emotional scars from their pasts, but seem to be each other’s cure to make the scars just a little less visible. The story of their relationship is beautiful, satisfying, and at times incredibly steamy. I absolutely adore Gabriel and Julia together!