Friday, November 22, 2013

Review: CRASH INTO YOU by @KatieMcGarry. #NewAdult #YA #AmReading

From acclaimed author Katie McGarry comes an explosive new tale of a good girl with a reckless streak, a street-smart guy with nothing to lose, and a romance forged in the fast lane

The girl with straight As, designer clothes and the perfect life—that's who people expect Rachel Young to be. So the private-school junior keeps secrets from her wealthy parents and overbearing brothers…and she's just added two more to the list. One involves racing strangers down dark country roads in her Mustang GT. The other? Seventeen-year-old Isaiah Walker—a guy she has no business even talking to. But when the foster kid with the tattoos and intense gray eyes comes to her rescue, she can't get him out of her mind.

Isaiah has secrets, too. About where he lives, and how he really feels about Rachel. The last thing he needs is to get tangled up with a rich girl who wants to slum it on the south side for kicks—no matter how angelic she might look.

But when their shared love of street racing puts both their lives in jeopardy, they have six weeks to come up with a way out. Six weeks to discover just how far they'll go to save each other.

Crash Into You is the third book in Katie McGarry’s Harlequin Teen series (that inexplicable has no series title), and I think it is her best yet. Rachel is a complex character with is host of issues. her family is one of the most messed up I’ve read, yet they still come across as real. (I can totally see this happening in a family who loses a child to an early death.) Rachel was born to be a replacement child. When her older sister died of Leukemia at thirteen, their parents went on having babies until they produced another girl. As her sister’s replacement, Rachel is expected to take on the interests and personality of the dead sister she never met. The therapy bills that will be needed to straighten these people out will rival the GDP of a small country.

Isaiah is another story. Honestly, I didn’t care for him all that much in Dare You To. His “best friend” Beth jacked him around something fierce and he let her. That kind of made me want to smack him. But Isaiah completely turned my opinion of him around in this book. He is also a complex character  who has had to grow up way too fast and still harbors a bit of that damaged child inside him.  Rachel calls him bossy, and he calls himself protecting, but unlike so many other male characters in New Adult books, he doesn’t come across as a controlling jerk. That is a big thing for me as you all may remember from my previous blog post on the how men are portrayed in New Adult books - Isaiah is not an asshole, although the author very easily could have made him be if she hadn’t been careful. For that, I am grateful.

The conflict in the story revolves around Rachel having an unfortunate run-in with the King Pin of illegal street racing and unwittingly finds herself indebted to him. Isaiah, being the protector sort, decides to help Rachel out of the mess. The two have to pull together to find a way to earn money to buy the bad guy off. It would have been easy for a “street thug” like Isaiah to earn the money illegally, but he has a strong moral code, and he wants to do it in the right way. I admire that.

One of my favorite supporting characters in the book was Abby, the drug dealer with a heart of gold. It is impossible not to like her. I’m sensing McGarry will give Abby her own book at some point, and I’d love to read it! (Hopefully not with Ethan as the love interest though. I’m mad at him.)

My only complaint about the book is that I wanted more punishment on Rachel’s family for the years of abuse they put her through. Not just her parents, but also her brothers, treated her like shit. I hated them all by the end.

Overall, I give Crash Into You...

Plot - 5 bookmarks
Character development - 4 1/2 bookmarks (I would have liked to see Rachel’s family evolve more in the end.)
Love story - 5 bookmarks

Dream cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) - Jessica Amlee (Rachel), Liam Hemsworth (Isaiah), Juno Temple (Abby)

** This title releases on 
November 26, 2013. **

Friday, November 15, 2013

Review: NO FLAG by @LizBorino #FridayReads

For Mike and Will, "No Flag" meant "come home alive", but will their love survive what happens next?

Captain Mike Kelley does not ignore his intuition, so when sexy bartender Will Hayes captures his heart, Mike embarks on a mission to win him over to a Domestic Discipline relationship. Will accepts with one caveat: Mike must promise not to renew his Army commission. Mike agrees, and they spend a year building a life together, getting married, and starting a business.

Only days before their café's grand opening, Mike receives news that threatens everything he and Will have built. The Army invokes the Stop Loss military policy to involuntarily extend his commission and send him back overseas. Will, left alone to cope with the café, must rely on the support of old friends who may be no longer be trustworthy. Through emails and Skype calls, Mike and Will keep their love and structure alive...until the day a horrific terrorist attack occurs on Mike's outpost.

Mike awakens in a hospital with a devastating injury and no his memory of the attack. As the only survivor, Mike's memory may be the key to national security. Mike struggles to cope with his injury and Will struggles to support the man who always held him up. Both fear they have lost their previous relationship. Will has Mike back rather than a folded flag, but in the aftermath of war, can they rebuild the life they had before? Especially when those closest to them may not have their best interests at heart?

I almost don’t know where to start discussing this book.  I suppose I should say first that I really, really liked it.  Not quite love, but close.  The story was emotional and drew me right in.  I get the purpose of Stop Loss, but I think it is royally unfair, and only should be used in the direst of circumstances. Mike and Will had everything set to embark on a life together when the government decided to play games with their lives. I support those who step up to serve our country, but that support includes letting them go when their service is over.  Of course, then Mike gets hurt and it made me even angrier at the injustice of it all.  (Angry at the situation, not the book. The book was quite good.) 

I loved the “no flag” catch phrase. I don’t have a whole lot of experience with the military, so I’m not sure if that is a common saying or not, but it tugged at my heart every time the guys used it.

Mike’s rehab and rekindling of his marriage were also very well written. I really felt how devastating and frustrating the whole situation must have been for them both.

Now, I am going to say something about a book that I don’t think I have ever said before in a review --- I wish the book would have moved a little slower.  I know! Really!  It’s just that I felt some of the build of the romance and the character development suffered a bit with the quick pacing. I like to fall in love alongside the characters, but the romance was too rushed for that here. There wasn’t a whole lot of build to the sexual tension/chemistry.  It worked out okay because there was a lot of story to carry me along without it, but the book could have benefitted from about ten pages of romance expansion to fill it out. 

This book is listed in erotica, but I didn’t see it that way -- more of a straight-up M/M romance. The sex is there, but not overly described in long, vivid detail.  The DD relationship added to Mike’s character. As someone who suffers from OCD, he needs exacting structure in his house hold. Will understood this and did all he could to accommodate.  That said, I thought Mike took the discipline a little too far a couple of times. It kind of made me hate him just a little.

Will was a wonderful character. (Mike was good too, but I connected more with Will.) Their character development was fine. But the supporting characters could have benefitted from depth.  The “bad guys”, Mike’s commanding officer and Will’s friend Casey, did not feel real to me. I could guess that Mike’s boss was probably a homophobe, but that was never explored. I wasn’t sure if he enacted Mike’s Stop Loss provision purposefully, or if the order came from someone else. As written, he seemed like a douche for douche’s sake.  I also didn’t buy Casey’s weird crush on Will.  Maybe it’s because I didn’t have a clear picture of her motives. Her actions seemed extreme for someone who didn’t have some sort of fucked up back story. I wanted to know what it was. Seth waffled between clueless and supportive, but I never really felt I knew him. Another ten pages could have been added to flesh out some of these side characters.  For me, that would have elevated this book from a four to a five star. 

Overall, I give No Flag...

Plot - 5 bookmarks
Character Development - 3 bookmarks
Love Story - 4 bookmarks (What was there was wonderful. I just wished it was less rushed.)
Dream Cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) - Wentworth Miller (Mike), Zachary Levi (Will), Ashley Benson (Casey). 

Monday, November 11, 2013

New release paperback - ARCADIA'S CURSE #Paranormal

Arcadia's Curse is now available in paperback! Makes a great stocking stuffer for the teen reader in your family. 

“The build of the story is a slow burn, like a fuse curling through an empty storehouse ONLY to find out that the fuse is attached to ten tons of fireworks. Holy Climax, Batman!” ~ Shannon Mayer, author of Priceless and The Nevermore Trilogy

Think high school sucks? Try being an empath who has to experience everyone else’s suckage on top of your own. (Literally.)

In the months since her family life imploded and her psychic gifts began to arise, Cady has struggled to figure out how she can fit into her normal life without going crazy from the constant presence of emotional energy. Her grades have tanked. Her best friend is afraid of her. And she begins to have doubts about why her boyfriend, Bryan, is really keeping her around. But a chance meeting with another gifted girl online opens up a whole new world of possibilities. Unfortunately, this new world comes at an awful price.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Review: THE IRON TRAITOR by @jkagawa #AmReading

In the real world, when you vanish into thin air for a week, people tend to notice.

After his unexpected journey into the lands of the fey, Ethan Chase just wants to get back to normal. Well, as "normal" as you can be when you see faeries every day of your life. Suddenly the former loner with the bad reputation has someone to try for—his girlfriend, Kenzie. Never mind that he's forbidden to see her again.

But when your name is Ethan Chase and your sister is one of the most powerful faeries in the Nevernever, "normal" simply isn't to be. For Ethan's nephew, Keirran, is missing, and may be on the verge of doing something unthinkable in the name of saving his own love. Something that will fracture the human and faery worlds forever, and give rise to the dangerous fey known as the Forgotten. As Ethan's and Keirran's fates entwine and Keirran slips further into darkness, Ethan's next choice may decide the fate of them all.

Is it wrong that I want Julie Kagawa’s faerie world to exist?  Life would be so much more interesting, if a bit more dangerous...

The Iron Traitor picks up Ethan Chase’s story. He desperately wants to avoid all things faerie and go about his normal, human life, but when you have the Sight and family ties to the Nevernever, that is just not meant to be. 

In a lot of ways, Ethan and Kierran are set against each other as foils.  Both of them are in love with a girl who is dying, but they are choosing to handle the situation very differently. I enjoyed the whole ethical dilemma over how far you should go for love. 

I really started to not like Keirran in this book, which is a shame because his father, Ash, is one of my favorite characters in the whole series.  Keirran might have noble intentions--he is driven by love to save the life of the dying Summer Girl Annwyl--but his unreasonableness and single-mindedness make him come across as a spoiled prince.  I know growing up as an only child in the Iron realm kept him sheltered, but he comes across as a brat whenever he doesn’t get his way.

Ethan, on the other hand, also grew up as an only child, but he behaves much more maturely.  He understands the seriousness of Kinzie’s illness, and he wants to help her live the fullest life possible while she can.  He knows it might be possible to strike some sort of bargain with the Fae to extend her life, but the stakes for doing so would cross many moral lines, probably harming others in the process, and Ethan is not selfish enough to pursue those options.  It is a very hard, very mature attitude to have. Yes, I think in future books there will be some way to fix Kenzie’s health, but I trust that Ethan will not have to betray his ethics to do so. 

Fans of the series will be happy to see a recurrence of some of their favorite characters, including Grimalkin, Razor, Puck and Ash. Meghan only appears briefly--she does have a kingdom to run, after all.  And as with all of Kagawa’s books, there is plenty of action to keep the plot moving. 

Overall, I give The Iron Traitor...

Plot - 5 stars

Character Development - 4 1/2 stars (I’m having a hard time connecting with Annwyl. Keirran might bug me, but he is supposed to, as the foil character to Ethan.)

Love Story - 4 stars (Ethan & Kenzie are awesome, but much of the book focuses on Keirran & Annwyl, and I just don’t connect with them as well.)

Action - 5 stars (Lots of fighting, bloodshed and all around mayhem.)

Dream Cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) - Britt Robertson (Annwyl), Jamie Campbell Bower (Keirran), Kaya Scodelario (Kenzie). I drove myself crazy for two hours scouring the internet for the guy I picture as Ethan. I have a very clear picture of him in my head, but I can’t remember what the actor’s name is or what I saw him in. Grrr!!!! Xavier Samuel comes close, but taller and darker. I don’t know.  I’m sure it will come to me at two in the morning like everything else does.