Review: “More Than Once” (Chasing the Dream #4) by Elizabeth Briggs

"More Than Once" by Elizabeth Briggs A review by Amanda.

Becca Collins and Andy West were introduced to each other in More Than Comics (Chasing the Dream #2). Andy had just proposed to his ex-girlfriend, Tara, and Becca was trying to get her life together after leaving her band under less than ideal circumstances. They shared a fabulous night together, and neither expected to see the other again. Flash forward five months, to Dallas, Texas, where Becca is working in a department store on Christmas Eve. The customers are rude, her boss hates her, and the only thing getting her through the shift is knowing that her parents are finally going to meet her boyfriend, Brett, that night. If she can show them that she’s growing up and settling down, they’ll help her pay for college. Unfortunately, Brett has other ideas about their future together and he breaks up with her via phone call on her break. The last thing she’s expecting, on this awful day, is for her former one night stand to show up at her register. Five minutes of awkward conversation gets Becca hot and bothered – and fired.

Andy, who goes by Andrew now, hasn’t forgotten Becca. That one night five months ago was the first time he’d felt comfortable being himself in the bedroom. He knows he should’ve called when he moved to Dallas, but his heart was still hurting from Tara’s rejection and he wasn’t sure that Becca would want to hear from him anyway. He’s just as surprised as she is when he runs into her at the store. He feels terrible when she’s fired right in front of him, so he follows her to the parking lot to apologize. Becca doesn’t want an apology, but she does want that money for college. Reluctantly, Andrew agrees to be Becca’s pretend boyfriend at dinner, but only after she agrees to go on a real date with him.

I recently reviewed More Than Comics and jumped at the opportunity to read another book by Elizabeth Briggs. I was eager to find out what had happened between Andrew and Becca in San Diego. The sexual tension and vulnerability between the characters brought a delightful edge to a quick, fun read. Familiar faces make an appearance, which always feels like a special treat. The alternating narration really made a difference by allowing the reader to see the same events from different perspectives, and made it easy to follow the characters’ growth and developments. As in More Than Comics, much of the drama came from miscommunication and assumptions, which felt predictable. The sex scenes were frequent, quite steamy, and very lightly BDSM-oriented. I enjoyed this book as much as the last, and will continue to read more from this author.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

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Review of “Phoenix Awakens” (The Phoenix #1) by Eliza Nolan

Review of “Phoenix Awakens” (The Phoenix #1) by Eliza Nolan A review by Amanda.

Julia Long, a sixteen year old in Minnesota, is woefully unprepared for the upheaval that siblings Graham and Clara bring to her life when they move into town from South Carolina. Bubbly Clara instantly befriends the awkwardly shy Julia, while Graham alternates between intense and aloof. This makes Julia’s insta-crush on him even more embarrassing, and the weird dreams she’s been having about both Graham and Clara don’t help at all. Julia’s dreams feature cloaked figures, swampy woods, and ritualistic ceremonies, as well as a mysterious young woman who bears a resemblance to Julia’s absent mother, claiming to be a guide. Between her father’s overprotective attitude, her best friend’s desertion, and Clara and Graham both hiding things, Julia is fed up with the secrets and lies. Slowly, she starts to piece together the clues she can garner from any source she can, including her dreams. Slowly, she’s finding the answers she needs. The question is, will she be able to figure out the truth before her ignorance puts her in danger?

Phoenix Awakens built the suspense at a slow but steady pace, and it really picked up in the second half. Julia was a fairly average teen, and utterly relatable. She didn’t make friends easily, quietly rebelled against her father’s strict rules – only the unreasonable ones – and was just trying to make it through high school each day without crossing paths with Libby, the resident mean girl. Graham and Clara throw everything into disarray from day one. Being thrust into one tricky situation after another revealed a strength of character that Julia didn’t know she had. Her instant attraction to Graham was predictable, but the unique aspects of the supernatural side of the story countered that quite nicely. Clara and Samantha balanced Julia in different ways, and I would love to see more development of both characters in future books. I am eager to read the next book and find out more about Julia and how the events from book one will affect her life.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

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BOOK TOUR Review: “Lindsey: Love and Intrigue” by Kimberly Kolb

A review by Maria.

I would like to thank author Kimberly Kolb for letting me read and review her new novel Lindsey: Love and Intrigue.

Lindsey moved to her small town when she was in 8th grade; but even now as a junior in high school she’s still considered the new kid by many students. She feels awkward and out of place. She’s always considered herself to be one of the guys instead of going on dates or having girlfriends. Her parents are busy, powerful lawyers who deal with dangerous criminals, and often leave her home alone. She does have one thing going for her though. Lindsey is an impressive gymnast and is excited to be competing on her high school team as well as her extracurricular one this year. She spends much of her time obsessing over her crush, Chris, even after a senior starts to pay attention to her. However once Lindsey starts receiving flat tires and threatening texts she wonders if they’re merely cruel pranks or an obsession gone too far.

Lindsey was kind but rather average for a main character. She spent too much time doubting herself but that’s normal for a teenage character. She also spent too much of her time obsessing over boys, but again, that’s normal too. So in a genre where YA literature often makes teenagers seem like adults, Lindsey: Love and Intrigue was refreshing in the aspect that it kept its teen characters as actually teens. So much so that we as readers, could remember why the teenage years weren’t really the best. Lindsey did start to grow on me though. She had a charming and endearing way of viewing herself and the ones around her, making me like her all the more.

Chris was a little bit more of a mystery throughout the book. Through much of the book he was the far, unreachable crush. However when Lindsey and Chris both land the leads in the school play, much more interaction starts to happen between these characters. Chris also endears himself to me as a reader; mostly because of his absolute patience in dealing with Lindsey and all her doubts in herself and in him. Most teenage boys would have walked away from her long ago. He proves to be an extremely smart, capable, and charming character who is able to keep a level head in dangerous moments. He proves to be much more aware of his surroundings and people, than Lindsey.

This book was very much the typical angsty teenage romance for much of the novel. It really didn’t become much of a suspense until much later. Once it went the suspense route, it kicked it up from an interesting but slow book, to a tense nail-biting thriller. Lindsey: Love and Intrigue. is appropriate for teenangers as well as adults. .

My rating: 3/5 stars.

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Welcome to my tour stop for Lindsey: Love and Intrigue by Kimberly Kolb. This is a young adult mystery and the tour runs Nov. 16-27th with reviews, interviews, guest posts and excerpts. Check out the tour page for the full schedule.

About the Book:

Fifteen-year-old Lindsey Morgan Brooks is still considered the new kid in the small town of Emit, Michigan. Both of her parents are lawyers, but her father has built his reputation prosecuting some of the worst criminals in New York and Chicago. Now, as a high school junior, she is trying to choose her own path.

Lindsey feels the demands and pressure from school, gymnastics, and her parents as she battles insecurities to build friendships while steering clear of the many land mines in high school-such as the group of popular girls she has dubbed the “Fab Five” Busy with activities and consumed with thoughts of her secret crush, Chris, she takes little notice of what’s happening around her.

She gets a flat tire, gets caught with the lights-out and starts receiving strange text messages-things she assumes are just high school pranks gone too far. Her father wants her to be able to handle herself, so she should be able to handle this.

But while she steals a glimpse at Chris, who is watching her?

Kolb, Kimberly - 2013 Woods Head shot (1)About the Author:

Kimberly Kolb earned a bachelor of science degree in industrial organizational psychology from the University of Illinois. She began writing while waiting for her daughter to finish ballet and tap classes. Kolb lives with her husband and three children north of Chicago. This is her debut novel.

Kimberly Kolb received the Editor’s Choice and Rising Star Award from iUniverse.

$50 Amazon gift card (INT)
Ends Dec. 2nd, 2015
Prizing is provided by the author, hosts are not responsible. Must be 13 or older to enter and have parental permission if under 17. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary to win.

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This event was organized by CBB Book Promotions.

Review of “Blood Rose” by Danielle Rose

"Blood Rose" by Danielle Rose A review by Domoni.

Avah Taylor has trained her whole life for one thing: to hunt and kill vampires. Her coven, like all witches, despise them and want to rid the world of the foul beings. The only witch in her coven with the power of Spirit, which enables her to slightly control all the elements, she must rely on her senses and reflexes more than magic. Chosen to receive The Power, given by the gods to one witch in each generation, she hopes she will be the one to finally destroy all vampires. Every previous generation has died before being able to master The Power. On the night of her birth rite ceremony her coven is attacked by vampires and then saved by other vampires. Avah is dying and begs to be saved. Now she is a vampire and turned out by her family, forced to go with the creatures she despises. Why did they save her and her coven? And why is Avah so drawn to Jasik, the vampire that saved her. She is forced to accept that everything she thinks she knows may not be true.

I very much enjoyed this story. Following Avah’s transformation from witch to vampire to hunter is exciting. It evokes the battle with one’s own self that many people deal with when they find themselves stuck in a place they do not want to be, and learn they were wrong about many things. Avah hates all vampires and has only ever been told that they are evil and must die. As she learns the truth and accepts who she has become, I found I liked her character more. The hunters and the coven of vampires they protect are a very civilized society with its owns rules not unlike the coven Avah knew as a witch. Their battle against the rogues, the vampires that are everything Avah thought all vampires were, is the same battle she had always fought.

The romance between Avah and Jasik is interesting but not my favorite part of the story. It was very much a romance novel type of interaction. They were just drawn to each other with no real explanation other than a momentary mention of a sire bond popping through Avah’s thoughts. This pinpoints the parts of the story I was disappointed in. I wanted more depth to some areas. I loved the story I just felt like I wanted more information; more history to Avah’s life in the Coven, the feud with the vampires, the basics of transformation and sire bonds. I felt like things were rushed. Avah barely questioned what happened and just ran off with the vampires without much argument and settled in in one night. The story up until she reached the vampire compound felt like a basic synopsis and I wish it had more depth. Once she arrived there the story got much better and I was sucked into the world and loved it. I am very much looking forward to reading the next book in the series.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

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Review: “Seven Ways We Lie” by Riley Redgate

Review of "Seven Ways We Lie” by Riley Redgate A review by Amanda.

Seven Ways We Lie tells the story of seven high school students, whose lives are rocked when a scandal erupts at their school. An anonymous email claims that a student is having an affair with a teacher. No names are given so the school administration must open an investigation. Meanwhile, life unravels in different ways for Olivia, Juniper, and Claire – best friends since the sixth grade; Olivia’s twin sister Kat; Claire’s ex-boyfriend Lucas; quiet stoner Matt; and social outcast Valentine. Rumors abound, lies are told, secrets are spilled, and relationships develop and change as everyone tries to figure out who the illicit lovers are, while trying to juggle the usual high school issues on top of everything else.

This might be the best book that I have read in 2015. The narration switched between the seven students and each one had a distinct, natural style. Each character had pieces to the puzzle, and most didn’t even realize. They all had their own, separate dramas happening, with connections to others, that it was easy to set the bigger mystery aside for a bit. Every one of the seven main characters was a fully developed individual, and the writing reflected that when the narrator changed. No topic was off limits. These characters dealt with breakups, divorced parents, abandonment, sexuality and sexual preference, jealousy, drinking, pressure to do well in school, loneliness, bullying, gossip, basically everything that high school students go through in real life. There was a mix of happy endings and bittersweet ones; not everything worked out to everyone’s satisfaction. I enjoyed the candor with which the story was written. The difficult issues were not sugar-coated or glossed over. I believe that any teenager, or adult for that matter, could relate to some aspect of this story and I strongly recommend it to anyone who likes contemporary fiction.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

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Review of “Marked” (The Soulseer Chronicles #1) by Sue Tingey

Review of “Marked” (The Soulseer Chronicles #1) by Sue Tingey A review by Amanda.

Lucinda “Lucky” De Salle sees ghosts. After a painful childhood, because of her unusual ability, Lucky has made peace with her life and learned to take advantage of her ability; namely as a medium and an author. Despised by charlatans in the psychic world, and wary of meeting new people, Lucky’s only real friend is Kayla, a spirit who has been around for as long as Lucky can remember. Something about Kayla has kept Lucky safe from other spirits invading her home, and Lucky considers them to be best friends. A string of odd coincidences in a twenty-four hour span twists Lucky’s entire world upside down, and now she doesn’t know who to trust – her closest friend; Jamie, the unassuming medium who shows up out of the blue; or Philip, the handsome and wealthy man with sad eyes? Secrets begin to emerge from every corner of her life. Can she even trust her own instincts?

Marked was a thrill ride to the very end. The intrigue and action began immediately, drawing the reader in and keeping their eyes glued to the pages. The supporting characters were well-defined and varied greatly in both looks and personality. Kayla was sarcastic and mischievous, with an occasional cruel streak. It was difficult to get a read on her true intentions. Jamie was the definition of enigmatic, the angelic golden boy with hidden depths. Jinx oozed sensuality and playfulness, and his serious side only highlighted his sex appeal. The only character I had difficulty liking was Lucky herself. I related to her as an introvert with an awkward past, but her naïveté became grating and overdone after a while. A lack of experience is one thing; making multiple foolish choices for the sake of “doing the right thing” is something else entirely. On the plus side, Lucky has a lot of room for growth. The romantic pieces of this story were both sweet and sexy, as well as unexpected, and I cannot wait to see where it goes from here. I will definitely be picking up the next book in this series.

My rating: 4.5/5 stars.

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Review of “Gambit” by C.L. Denault

Gambit by C.L. Denault A review by Amanda.

I would like to thank the author and publisher for allowing me to read Gambit in exchange for an honest review. There are mild romantic spoilers in the last paragraph of this review.

Sixteen year old Willow Kent has a secret. More than one, actually. She has a skill, a genetically enhanced ability that makes her extremely valuable to the Core, the ruling industries of war-torn Earth. It’s been centuries since battles over genetic coding destroyed Earth as we know it. Now, the population is divided. Those who live in the Core have every technological advantage conceivable; elsewhere, citizens live in primitive villages where technology is forbidden. Patrols from the Core round gifted individuals up to be put to use working for the wealthy or breeding to make stronger skills. Willow has done everything she can to keep herself out of the hands of those who would use her skill, to keep her freedom, and to keep her loved ones safe. When an elite patrol arrives just ahead of terrifying news from the Core, everything Willow has worked for will be undone.

I am a big fan of speculative and dystopian fiction. As such, this story drew me in immediately. Willow is smart, stubborn, and tenacious. While those traits could have made her come across as harsh or cold, the author does an excellent job of balancing with Willow’s warmth and humor towards her family and closest friends. The story itself is intriguing, combining science with fantasy. The differences between Willow’s village and the Core give the story a time-travel effect; the village lifestyle has a 19th century feel to it, whereas the Core is much more modern and advanced further than today’s technology by far.

The Core commander who throws Willow’s life into disarray is sharp, cruel, and intimidating. He alternates cruelty with kindness and confuses Willow more than anything. This is the only aspect of the book that gives me pause. It bothers me to see another YA story with the heroine finding herself attracted to someone who has hurt her, both emotionally and physically. He blames her for his actions and either apologizes or does something kind to make up for it. He also uses his powerful position to manipulate her. That being said, he is still a fascinating character and to my chagrin, I found myself warming to him. I can only hope that his character changes for the better.

The real heart of this story is in the richness and depth of the supporting characters. I will definitely continue with this series.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

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