Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Blog Tour and Giveaway: Jane, Unlimited by Kristin Cashore


Welcome to the blog tour for Jane, Unlimited, which is officially available TODAY! This is Kristin Cashore's latest novel. You all probably know how much of a Cashore fan I am, so this book/author needs no further introductions. I'll be sharing information about the book, and my Jane, Unlimited-inspired mood board!


About the Book:


Jane, Unlimited by Kristin Cashore
Publisher: Kathy Dawson Books
Publication Date: September 19, 2017

Summary (from Goodreads):

Jane has lived an ordinary life, raised by her aunt Magnolia—an adjunct professor and deep sea photographer. Jane counted on Magnolia to make the world feel expansive and to turn life into an adventure. But Aunt Magnolia was lost a few months ago in Antarctica on one of her expeditions.

Now, with no direction, a year out of high school, and obsessed with making umbrellas that look like her own dreams (but mostly just mourning her aunt), she is easily swept away by Kiran Thrash—a glamorous, capricious acquaintance who shows up and asks Jane to accompany her to a gala at her family's island mansion called Tu Reviens.

Jane remembers her aunt telling her: "If anyone ever invites to you to Tu Reviens, promise me that you'll go." With nothing but a trunkful of umbrella parts to her name, Jane ventures out to the Thrash estate. Then her story takes a turn, or rather, five turns. What Jane doesn't know is that Tu Reviens will offer her choices that can ultimately determine the course of her untethered life. But at Tu Reviens, every choice comes with a reward, or a price.



About the Author:

Kristin Cashore grew up in the northeast Pennsylvania countryside as the second of four daughters. She received a bachelor's degree from Williams College and a master's from the Center for the Study of Children's Literature at Simmons College, and she has worked as a dog runner, a packer in a candy factory, an editorial assistant, a legal assistant, and a freelance writer. She has lived in many places (including Sydney, New York City, Boston, London, Austin, and Jacksonville, Florida), and she currently lives in the Boston area. Her epic fantasy novels set in the Graceling Realm--Graceling, Fire, and Bitterblue--have won many awards and much high praise, including picks as ALA Best Books for Young Adults, School Library Journal Best Book of the Year, Booklist Editors Choice, and Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year. In addition, Graceling was shortlisted for the William C. Morris Debut Award and Fire is an Amelia Elizabeth Walden Book Award Winner.



My Mood Board:





Want to see my Cashore collection?


(It includes five USA ARCs, one UK ARC, three USA hardcovers, three USA paperbacks, one Catalan hardcover, and one Italian paperback!)


See Kristin on tour:



The Giveaway:

Enter for a chance to be one (1) of three (3) winners to receive a hardcover copy of Jane, Unlimited by Kristin Cashore. (ARV: $18.99 each).

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter between 12:00 AM Eastern Time on September 11, 2017 and 12:00 AM on October 9, 2017.  Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older. Winners will be selected at random on or about October 11, 2017. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Follow the Tour:

Week One:
September 11 – Alexa Loves Books – Bookish Style Files
September 11 – The Bookiemoji – Review
September 12 – Tales of the Ravenous Reader – Playlist
September 12 – Wandering Bark Books – Review
September 13 – Sarcasm & Lemons – Umbrellas Jane Would Make for YA Characters
September 13 – Arctic Books – Review
September 14 – Book Nerd Addicts – Review
September 14 – In Wonderland
September 15 – YA Book Central – Excerpt
September 15 – My Friends are Fiction – Promo

Week Two:
September 18 – YA Bibliophile – Review
September 18 – Across the Words – Umbrellas, A History
September 19 – The Eater of Books! – Mood Board
September 19 – NovelKnight
September 20 – Great Imaginations – Review
September 20 – The Wednesday Blog for Books – Review
September 21 – Icey Books – Jane, Unlimited Quote Candy
September 21 – A Page With a View – Favorite Quotes
September 22 – A Thousand Books to Read – Review
September 22 – BookCrushin – Review

Week Three:
September 25 – Teen Librarian Toolbox
September 25 – The Young Folks – 10 Reasons to Read Jane, Unlimited
September 26 – Live Love Read – A Mood Board for Every Story
September 26 – No BS Book Reviews – Review
September 27 – Andi’s ABCs
September 27 – The Novel Hermit
September 28 – Paper Trail YA – Review
September 28 – Swoony Boys Podcast – Jane, Unlimited Fan Cast
September 29 – I Am A Reader
September 29 – Fiction Fare – Review

Week Four:
October 2 – Don’t Fold the Page
October 2 – Rants and Raves of a Bibliophile – Characters & Tea
October 3 – MuggleNet – Review
October 3 – Xpresso Reads – Top 10 Awesome Umbrellas
October 4 – The Book Wars – Review
October 4 – Once Upon a Twilight – Guess the Story in GIFs
October 5 – Mundie Moms – Review
October 5 – YA Romantics – Review & Quiz
October 6 – Bookworm Everlasting – Book Photography
October 6 – Here’s to Happy Endings – Bookish Style Board

Monday, September 18, 2017

Blog Tour Reviews and Giveaway: Hot in Hollywood Series by Katee Robert


Welcome to the release week of Ties That Bind and Animal Attraction by Katee Robert! These two short novels are part of the Hot in Hollywood duology, and both are publishing tomorrow. Today, I'm sharing my review of both books, and more!


My Reviews:

Ties That Bind by Katee Robert
Book One of the Hot in Hollywood series
Publication Date: September 19, 2017
Rating: 4 stars
Source: eARC sent for review

Official Summary:

Once upon a time, Cora Landers was America’s Sweetheart and destined to be the Next Big Thing in Hollywood—but that was before her sex tape ruined her image and eliminated her contracts. These days, instead of being an A-lister, she’s divorce attorney to the A-listers. So when her ex—and fellow sex tape star—Jack shows up, needing her expertise, she wants nothing to do with it.

Jack McArthur might have costarred in that sex tape, but he didn’t share Cora’s fate—instead of tanking his career, the tape skyrocketed it. Now, as one of Hollywood’s most buzzed about new directors, Jack has everything to lose—especially when he wakes up after a friend’s bachelor party gone wrong to find that he’s apparently married a woman he’s never met before…and now can’t find. Desperate, he goes to the only person who he knows can help—Cora.

Cora reluctantly agrees to help Jack—both because he’s offering an absurd amount of money and because she loves seeing him as a disadvantage for once. Neither of them anticipate the very real problem of their being unable to keep their hands off each other—or that Jack’s accidental marriage might be anything but accidental. With both her heart and career on the line—again—Cora has to decide if she’s going to take the high road or leave Jack hanging in the wind the same way he left her twelve years ago.

What I Liked:

Usually I don't read books set in Hollywood, focused on actors or actresses or big shots living in L.A. I make many exceptions for books by my favorite authors, including Katee Robert. While a sex tape in the mix definitely didn't appeal to me, the ensuing romance did, and I'm glad I gave this book a chance. It was a lovely story, not quite second-chance romance but definitely one with a lot of history between the hero and heroine. The story is short and steamy and very satisfying.

Cora used to be a child actress, but she got out of the industry when a sex tape of hers with Jack McArthur leaks. Twelve years later, she's pushing thirty and she's a divorce lawyer with no love life to speak of. But enter Jack McArthur, after twelve years, who needs her help. After getting blackout drunk and having no recollection of the night - definitely not signing a marriage certificate - Jack needs Cora to help him get a divorce. It has been twelve years, but the chemistry between Jack and Cora never diminished. Cora wants to keep things strictly business, but she finds it impossible when it comes to Jack.

Cora is so prickly and tense, not a sweet and charming girl, but not a mean and rude one either. She's assertive and tough as nails, and she doesn't take crap from anyone. But she can't help but bend when it comes to Jack - Jack, whom she started to fall in love with when she was eighteen and lost her virginity to him. I can't say Cora is my favorite heroine (I didn't really love some of her logic), but I didn't hate her and I definitely understood her. 

I adored Jack (surprise!). He's a good guy with a good heart. Twelve years ago, Cora used him and didn't feel bad about it, and twelve years later, it is Jack who wishes he could have been better. Jack is always looking out for others, even as he is looking out for himself with the marriage he doesn't recall. In many ways, I don't think Cora deserved Jack, even if she is exactly who he wanted.

The romance is pretty steamy! Jack is a control freak, inside and out of the bedroom. I personally like this type of hero, especially since he is decent sort of alpha male. There is a hint of kink in this book (not nearly enough, in my opinion. I mean, hellloooo, the title!), and I was all for it. I liked that Jack and Cora were well-matched in their preferences - Jack was very alpha-y, and Cora liked him that way. It is not quite a dom-sub sort of thing, but it mirrors that. 

Did I mention that this book is hot? It is very steamy. You can always trust Robert's books to be filled with sexy, sexy times. This book is short, and there could always be more, but I thought Robert did just fine with the page count of this book. 

A neat things - Jake and Jessica from Prom Queen are mentioned in this book! If you recall, Jessica used to be Cora and Brooklyn's roommate, until she moved in with Jake, in Texas. I adored Prom Queen, by the way!

The conflict of this book involves a bit of a revisit from the past, and of course the pending divorce. Things worked out just fine for Jack, and he wasn't swindled out of half of his assets. Things worked out well for Jack and Cora too. There is some apologizing on both sides (though I definitely think Cora should have been the one to grovel), and things work out. The ending is a very sweet one. I can always trust Robert to deliver a good HEA!

What I Did Not Like:

There was nothing really wrong with or bad about this book! I would have liked to see Cora grovel some, at the end of the book, but they both groveled, so that made sense. I always like seeing a woman own up to her mistakes and apologize and chase her man. What is wrong with that? Why is it always the guy (even when he isn't in the wrong, when it she is?)? See my review for Animal Attraction though. That book got a five-star rating for a reason.

Would I Recommend It:

If you're in the mood for a short, steamy romance novel involving a divorce attorney and a movie director in Hollywood, give this book a go. It was fairly low on drama, even though you'd think there would be (given the sex tape, and the fact that Jack somehow married someone in the beginning of the book). 


Rating:

4 stars. This is yet another success by Katee Robert! The next book, Animal Attraction, is even better (in my opinion). I loved Levi!


Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!


Animal Attraction by Katee Robert
Book Two of the Hot in Hollywood series
Publication Date: September 19, 2017
Rating: 5 stars
Source: eARC sent for review

Official Summary:

A private investigator might not be as glamorous as Brooklyn James had expected, but it pays the bills. Or at least it used to. In dire financial straits, she no longer has the luxury of saying no to jobs if she wants to pay her bills—which is how she ends up in a tree, spying on a billionaire who’s accused of dognapping. Not her finest moment.

Levi Turnbull made his fortune by creating tech that melds exercise with video games. It sounded great at the time, but now he’s got more money than he knows what to do with and he’s bored out of his mind waiting for the next game to launch. When he realizes a neighbor has been neglecting his dog, he takes matters into his own hands—by taking the dog. If he’s been trolling the neighbor ever since with hilarious fliers around the area… Well, he’s only human. When he finds a pretty redhead trespassing on his property in search of the missing dog, he sees the ultimate distraction until the launch.

Brooklyn initially agrees to a date in order to get close enough to Levi to find evidence of his dognapping—but that motivation gets complicated when they end up in bed together. She’s unable to resist his charm, and as they grow closer, Brooklyn can’t avoid the truth—not only did Levi steal a million dollar dog…he’s in danger of stealing her heart, too.

What I Liked:

This book follows the story of Levi and Brooklyn, both of whom were present in Ties That Bind. Levi is Jack's best friend, and Brooklyn is Cora's best friend (and roommate). This book involves lots of dogs, cats, and crime that seems fun and noble (oddly enough)!

Brooklyn, a private investigator, has been struggling to get jobs that pay well. She needs the money to pay for the extravagant mortgage of the house she lives in with her roommate Cora, especially since their third roommate Jessica moved out. When a rich but horrible client throws a bunch of money at her in order to investigate the theft of his job, Brooklyn doesn't hesitate, even if the job is unusual. It turns out that Levi Turnbull is most definitely guilty of stealing the dog... but why? And how is Brooklyn going to get inside Levi's home to get pictures? Levi knows exactly why Brooklyn was hired, and he knows why she wants in his house. That doesn't stop him from wanting her, and wanting her close. Brooklyn agrees to go on a date with him in order to get close to find evidence, but she doesn't expect to like him. Or want to break laws for him. Or return Fisk's money and not investigate the theft anymore. Levi is more than a dog thief, and Brooklyn can't help falling for him.

This book was so fun. It is short, possibly even shorter than Ties That Bind, but it was such a fun novel. Levi is a strange and charming guy, and Brooklyn is the type of girl that doesn't want to be bothered. But something about Levi definitely bothers her, and in a I-want-to-jump-him kind of way. 

I'll start with Levi. He is easily my favorite character of this book - of this series, even. He has cats and dogs and an iguana, and he lives with all of them in his enormous mansion. He is such a sweetheart and he seems playful, but he is also charming and a little wicked. He doesn't hesitate to ask Brooklyn out on a date, even though he knows exactly what her game plan is (without her having to tell him). He knows what he wants and doesn't hesitate to go after it (or her, in this case). He has a dominant, powerful side, which makes sense because he's basically a bearded, mountainous lumberjack. He's a sweetie though!

Brooklyn is the human equivalent of a cat (Levi's words, not mine!). She likes to do her thing and she doesn't like to be pushed around. She is in a tough spot financially, when she accepts the job to investigate the dog snatcher. She doesn't want to fall for him, but she does. Levi is so different from Brooklyn, but he is actually who she needs.

Their chemistry is so hot! I love how the two of them connect, and then collide. Brooklyn is more skittish and doesn't always follow her heart, but something brings her back to Levi, every time. These two are such a fiery and passionate couple, even with Brooklyn's task of investigating Levi lying between them. The sexy times are so steamy! There is a lot of good intensity and buildup. And the progression of their relationship is sweet, even with Brooklyn being unsure of if she should go into a relationship with Levi. She likes him so much - too much, in her mind. But she works through this and realizes that it's okay to like him "too much".

This book is getting five stars (as opposed to four stars), and it's because of the climax and ending. There is very little drama in this book, which was good. There is the cliche "breakup" thing at the climax, in which Levi is hurt by Brooklyn, and Brooklyn has a decision to make, about her task. This book is getting five stars because Brooklyn is the one to fix her mistake. She is the one to grovel and apologize. I love this. You know why? Because often in romance novels, we see the male apologizing and groveling, even when the woman is the one who messed up. I was so happy to see Brooklyn trying to earn back Levi's favor. It's so good to see a woman in romance fiction stand up and own her mistakes. It isn't healthy when the woman is in the wrong but the man is the one apologizing and groveling. Good on this character for being better.

The ending is a wonderful HEA! But of course, right? I love HEAs.

What I Did Not Like:

I have nothing to complain about! This book was lovely. I may reread it soon (already!), because it was quite wonderful. And steamy!

Would I Recommend It:

I'm pretty much always going to recommend Katee Robert's novels. I don't think I've read one that I didn't like. This one is ranking among my favorites of hers though. It was such a good romance story, the climax and ending were perfect, and there were lots of adorable pets! This is a short novel, so if you're in the mood for short and steamy and to the point, try this book!

Rating:

4.5 stars -> rounded up to 5 stars. I rarely round up and I rarely give 5-star ratings, but this book was great. I always have high expectations when it comes to Katee Robert, and she never disappoints!


Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!


About the Author:


New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Katee Robert learned to tell her stories at her grandpa’s knee. Her 2015 title, The Marriage Contract, was a RITA finalist, and RT Book Reviews named it 'a compulsively readable book with just the right amount of suspense and tension." When not writing sexy contemporary and romantic suspense, she spends her time playing imaginary games with her children, driving her husband batty with what-if questions, and planning for the inevitable zombie apocalypse.



The Excerpt from Ties That Bind:

Jack opened the back door, every inch a gentleman—if it was gentlemanly to plan to ravage her in his backseat. Cora climbed in slowly, letting her dress ride up to give him a peek of her panties. His sharp inhale was reward in and of itself.

She expected him to follow immediately, but he stood there blocking the open space, his blue eyes forbidding. “Take those off.”

Cora settled back against the far door and pulled her dress up so she could slide her panties off. She tossed them in his direction, and Jack snaked a hand out to catch them. He slid them into his pocket and only then did he climb into the backseat with her.

“Really? You’re going to…what? Take them home as a memento? Bragging rights?”

“Cora.”

She licked her lips. “Yes?”

“Shut up. You know goddamn well and good that I’m not a douche like that, so stop pretending that I am.” He hooked her thighs and pulled her to the edge of the seat as he went to his knees next to the seat itself. “And stop pretending that it doesn’t get you wet knowing that I’ll be jacking myself to the scent of you later.”

Her jaw dropped. “Holy shit.”

“Now, stop talking.” He nudged her shoulder until she leaned back against the seat. Jack ran his hands up her thighs, spreading her legs farther. “It’s been a long time.”

There was nothing to say to that because it was the truth. Cora grabbed the hem of her dress and arched off the seat so she could drag it over her head. It left her in only her bra, but Jack’s curse made the bold move more than worth it. She shook her hair out of her face. “It won’t be much longer.”

He didn’t take his gaze off her as he reached for the center console. “Fuck, Cora.” The blatant appreciate in his tone made her smile despite herself. Jack met her eyes. “This isn’t a one-time thing.”

“Excuse me?”

“You. Me. This.” He motioned between them. “We do this, we’re doing this.”

The words were less than enlightening, but with his thumbs stroking intoxicating circles on her inner thighs, she wasn’t sure she cared. “Fine. Whatever. I need you inside me.”

His slow grin was foreplay all on its own. Jack traced his thumbs along the dip where her thighs met her hips. “Getting there.” He didn’t give her a chance to curse him. One second he was teasing her, the next he pushed two big fingers into her, filling her in a way that was nothing compared to the main course. She rolled her hips, trying to take him deeper, but Jack just chuckled and kept his strokes light.

Need built, stronger than it had any right to be. His scent wrapped around her in the close confines of the car, the tinted windows creating an intimate atmosphere despite where they were. Cora didn’t want intimate. She didn’t want soft. She sure as hell didn’t want slow. She grabbed his wrist. “Stop teasing me.”

“Come home with me.”

She blinked, surprised for what felt like the thousandth time that day. “What?”

“Come home with me, Cora.” Jack kept stroking her, his fingers unerringly gravitating to that sensitive spot inside her that could motivate her to do damn near anything. She gasped and he leaned down to eat the sound. His tongue stole her words even as his fingers continued their wicked work. Jack consumed her.

And then he stopped.

He pressed one last light kiss to her lips and sat back. “What’s your answer?”

She wasn’t even sure what the question was. Cora shook her head, trying to clear it. “This is emotional blackmail.”

“Hardly.” His thumb idly circled her clit, sending a wave of tension through her body. “This is me flat out saying that I want you naked in my bed, to do with as I please for several hours before we pass out. Reality can wait until tomorrow.”

Common sense said it was the perfect time to stop this before she got herself—and her heart—into trouble. No one had ever seen her the way Jack threatened to. She didn’t relish the thought of being stripped bare, only to be left in the dust when he moved on from his current crisis.

But if she didn’t jump now, she might never get the chance to again.

The thought of spending the rest of her life kicking herself for missing the chance to be with Jack again had her finding words she never thought she’d say. “Yes.”

“Yes?” His cobalt eyes watched her every move, making her feel strangely like prey. It wasn’t a comfortable feeling, but it wasn’t entirely unpleasant, either.

Cora swallowed hard. “Take me home with you, Jack.”

Copyright © 2017 Katee Robert


The Excerpt from Animal Attraction:

He spun her around and pressed her hands to the door, his big body at her back. “This is the door.”

“It’s a very nice door.”

“Mmm.” His hips thrust against her ass, and she swallowed hard, her body clenching in anticipation. The first-time nerves were gone. She knew what was coming, and she knew she would be coming before long. They might not be compatible in life, but their bodies didn’t know that. Levi pulled her hair off her neck and kissed her there, taking his time, the sensation of his lips and beard making her toes curl. “I picked it out myself.”

Picked out… Oh, right. The door.

She arched back into him, rubbing her ass against his cock. “You have good taste.”

“Funny you say that, because what I want most right now is to taste you.” He backed off enough to pull her jacket off and then one hand was on the front of her jeans, unbuttoning them deftly and dragging the zipper down. She felt that tiny vibration all the way through her body. There was nothing to say, though, because he slipped a big hand into her jeans, dipping beneath her panties, and speared a single finger into her.

Brooklyn moaned and tried to spread her legs. The move tightened her jeans, holding his hand in place. “I need you.”

“Tour’s not done yet.” He pumped as much as he was able. And then he withdrew his hand.

She couldn’t keep her whimper of protest in. She spun to face him, trying to shove out of her pants in the process, and nearly face-planted. “Levi.”

“Dresser.” He lifted her, and walked the handful of steps to the dresser to set her on it. Then he yanked off her jeans and tossed them behind him. “Better.”

“Much.”

He stepped between her thighs and kissed her. It was nothing like the last time. There was no careful and teasing exploration. Levi sucked and stroked and nipped her into a frenzy. His mouth drew sounds from her she wasn’t aware she could make. She wrapped her legs around his waist and clung to his shoulders and basically tried to climb him like a big, sexy tree, because she needed his cock and she needed it now. 

He shifted and set her back on the dresser, untangling from her. “Mahogany.”

It took Brooklyn a few beats to catch up. She looked down at the piece of furniture she sat on and back at the man in front of her, his hard length creating a mouthwatering outline against his jeans. “I don’t care.”

“You should. It’s a family heirloom. My grandfather built it.” He hit his knees in front of her and spread her legs wider. “It was his wedding gift to my grandmother.”

She blinked. Didn’t expect that, either. Brooklyn tried to get a better look at the massive piece of furniture, but Levi chose that moment to lean in and drag his tongue up her center and suddenly, she didn’t give two fucks about what she sat on, as long as it didn’t fall apart beneath her. She gripped the edge of the dresser to keep from levitating right off it and looked down her body to meet his gaze.

The switch had been flipped again. Gone was the playfulness, replaced by that intensity that had tingles shooting down her spine. He really was something.

She half expected him to rush through the oral, but she really should have known better. Levi hitched her legs higher and went after her clit like it owed him money. He sucked and licked and growled against her skin as his grip tightened on her thighs. 
Brooklyn was so lost in her pleasure, she didn’t notice that he’d half released her until she looked down to watch him again and saw that he was stroking himself. He jacked himself while licking her, as if he couldn’t contain himself and…

Her back bowed and she came with a cry. “Oh, my God.”

“You don’t have to call me God. Levi will do.” He kissed first one thigh and then the other. “But if you’re going to insist, I won’t stop you.”

“Shhhh. You don’t get to talk shit when I’m too weak from my fantastic orgasm to fight back.”

Levi rose and kissed her shoulder, her collar bone, her neck. “Honey, that’s the best time to talk shit.”

Copyright © 2017 Katee Robert


The Giveaway:

Enter to win a $50 Amazon Gift Card and three (3) eBook copies of Prom Queen from Katee Robert!



Sunday, September 17, 2017

Review: Devils & Thieves by Jennifer Rush


Devils & Thieves by Jennifer Rush
Book One of the Devils & Thieves series
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: October 3, 2017
Rating: 4 stars
Source: ARC sent by the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads):

Eighteen-year-old Jemmie Carmichael has grown up surrounded by magic in the quiet town of Hawthorne, New York. In her world, magic users are called "kindled," and Jemmie would count herself among them if only she could cast a simple spell without completely falling apart. It doesn't help that she was also recently snubbed by Crowe, the dangerous and enigmatic leader of the Black Devils kindled motorcycle gang and the unofficial head of their turf.

When the entire kindled community rolls into Hawthorne for an annual festival, a rumour begins spreading that someone is practising forbidden magic. Then people start to go missing. With threats closing in from every side, no one can be trusted. Jemmie and Crowe will have to put aside their tumultuous history to find their loved ones, and the only thing that might save them is the very flaw that keeps Jemmie from fully harnessing her magic. For all her years of feeling useless, Jemmie may just be the most powerful kindled of all.

What I Liked:

It has been forever and a day since we got a new Jennifer Rush novel! Well, not that long, but her last book, Reborn, published nearly three years ago. I loved the Altered series so much. Altered remains one of my favorite Young Adult books of all time. When I saw that Rush was publishing a new book, I knew immediately that I wanted it. I didn't even need to know what it was about. As it would turn out, it's about magic and motorcycle clubs and it was AWESOME. 

Jemmie Carmichael has always been surrounded by magic. She is one of the "kindled", magic users who live among non-magic users (drecks). Jemmie is a locant, like her father, but she hasn't been able to cast a spell in years. Jemmie feels like an outsider in the kindled world, and especially among the Black Devils, the kindled motorcycle club of the town of Hawthorne. Her best friend Alex is the daughter of the former president of the Devils, and the sister the of current president, Crowe. Crowe took over when his and Alex's father died of an accident that Crowe is convinced was not an accident. Crowe is dangerous and ruthless, and all of the kindled know it. The entire kindled community comes to Hawthorne for the annual festival of the kindled, which is hosted by the Black Devils this year. But something strange is happening; people from each MC club goes missing, and tensions start to rise. All fingers point to Crowe, but someone else's magic is at work. Jemmie and Crowe will have to uncover who the traitor among them is, before it's too late.

Does this book sound kickbutt? It really was. I love stories that are set in modern contemporary times, but involve magic. There is something about this type of supernatural/paranormal story that appeals to me. Throw in a motorcycle club, and I'm sold. As an adult romance reader, I LOVE romance novels involving a guy in a motorcycle club. Maybe it's something about him being patched in, and she isn't, and he has to protect her but also stay loyal to his club. Anyway, I'm rambling, but I love motorcycle clubs, and I love magic in contemporary stories, so this book really worked for me, on the world-building level. It was so cool to learn about the different types of magic. There are many, like Jemmie's (locant), and Crowe's (venemon). Crowe's is my favorite!

The back of the ARC has a comparison to the Beautiful Creatures series, which I'm now more inclined to try. I'd never really been dying to read those books, though they'd caught my interest before. If they're anything like Devils & Thieves? Then I'll give the series a shot.

I had no trouble liking Jemmie, from the start. She feels like an outsider in her own community, because she can't wield her magic like everyone else can. She isn't part of the Black Devils motorcycle club, even though she could become a prospect, at eighteen. She doesn't think she belongs, and she tries to hide her loneliness. In truth, she has a hard time with her locant magic, but she also has a sensitivity to magic and she has never told anyone. This sensitivity makes her sick sometimes, and she drinks to take off the edge. All of this makes her feel even more isolated, since she doesn't want anyone to pity her if they knew about her sensitivity to magic. Jemmie is a tough and strong person, even when she is bitter, hurt, and struggling within herself. I really felt for her and understood her. With her father having left her and her mom, the boy she loves rejecting her, and her magic not responding to her, her life is pretty bad.

Jemmie is one of a kind and I adored her. I loved her interactions with Crowe; all of the interactions were charged with tension, hurt, and a little bitterness, after everything between them. We don't get to know exactly what happened between them at first - Rush reveals that information slowly.

Crowe is a few years older than Jemmie, and already he is the president of the Black Devils. He takes his position in the club very seriously, and stops at nothing to protect the members. He is ruthless and deadly and he has no problem laying down the law or putting down insurrection. Crowe is to be feared, and all of the kindled know that. But Jemmie knows that he is grieving, given that his father died somewhat recently, and Crowe thinks it wasn't an accident. Honestly? I like the dark, dangerous edge that Crowe has. He earned his brutal reputation, and you can't help but respect it. He has done what he needed to do for the club, and he has no fear or remorse.

This story isn't just about Jemmie, or Crowe, or Jemmie and Crowe. There are so many other important secondary characters that I loved. Alex (Crowe's sister and Jemmie's best friend) is such a sweetheart. She is total trouble and always seems to be wreaking havoc somewhere. But she is also a solid best friend and loyal to a fault. I loved her friendship with Jemmie - they are so supportive and good to each other. I also liked several members of the Devils - Hardy and Flynn, for example, who were funny and pretty cool. Old Lady Jane was creepy but good people.

I loved the romance between Crowe and Jemmie, even though there was basically nothing going on between them physically, in this book. One single thing happened in the recent past, and Crowe rejected Jemmie, and that pretty much ruined their relationship for the next year. Now, they antagonize each other in every interaction. There is anger and bitterness between them, a good amount of angst that I surprisingly really got behind. I lived for their high-intensity interactions - so much tension! It's so obvious that Jemmie loves Crowe, and eventually it becomes obvious that Crowe loves Jemmie. Crowe is incredibly protective and alpha-male-y, and I liked this about him (though I'm sure there are some that don't love the alpha male thing). 

I will mention A Thing about the romance below.

The climax of this story takes form after people start disappearing - including Alex. By the time the climax of the story comes about, we find out a big thing that was pretty obvious to me from the start, but was still a game-changer when it was revealed. The story ends on a wrapped up but not resolved note. This book is part of a series, so it's okay! It's not a cliffhanger ending, but there is definitely more to come. And I am looking forward to that more!

What I Did Not Like:

There is kind of a love triangle this book. You're probably thinking, whaaaaaat, Alyssa, there is a love triangle in this book and you still LIKED the book?! (I hate love triangles with a passion, in case anyone didn't know. I usually rate books very poorly when I discover a love triangle, regardless of how good the story could have been.) Here me out.

I knew that the "other guy" was not The One, and I knew there was something... off about him. I don't want to venture too much into the spoiler zone, but to me, I knew from the start that there was something vague and off-putting. This guy is Jemmie's friend (emphasis on "friend"), but no one knows that he and Jemmie are friends because he is from a rival MC club that is currently in a truce with the Devils, but they are still on rocky terms with the Devils. This friend very obviously wants more from Jemmie, but Jemmie is very hung up on Crowe.

The thing is, at no point in this book are Crowe and Jemmie together. Crowe owes Jemmie nothing, and Jemmie owes Crowe nothing. They never dated. They never hooked up (technically). Yet they love each other... but Crowe had his reasons for rejecting Jemmie. Anyway, my point to this is, Jemmie and her friend are friends. The friend wanted more. Jemmie didn't really know if she wanted more (and it turns out, she never did, and that becomes clear when things are revealed). 

Just trust me when I say that this isn't really a love triangle. It's kind of there and I hated that it was there but the reason for it being there made a lot of sense and I could look past it because of those reasons. There was no romantic feelings on Jemmie's part (to her friend), and it was so obvious that she wanted Crowe and only Crowe.

Anyway, so it's kind of a dislike because the "love triangle" does in fact exist to an extent, but it wasn't bad enough to bother me, and the purpose of the other guy made sense. Also, for what it's worth, there is no need to worry about an actual love triangle in future books. It's not going to be a problem, if you catch my drift.

Would I Recommend It:

I highly recommend this book, if you love magic and motorcycle clubs and some really passionate/angry banter between the heroine and hero. I really can't wait to see more from Crowe and Jemmie in the next book. They are fire and fire together! I wanted more physical "interactions" between them in this book (if you know what I mean) but I'll just expect more in book two.

Rating:

4.5 stars -> rounded down to 4 stars. I adored this book and would have rated it five stars, had it not been for the thing I talked about above. Still, I think this book was so excellent and I loved. I'll definitely be rereading my favorites parts soon! And swooning over all of the non-swoon between Crowe and Jemmie. Hopefully there will be swoon to swoon over, in book two!


Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Stacking the Shelves (#247)


Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews, in which bloggers share the books and swag they've received in the past week!


So, what did I get in the week of Sunday, September 10th to Saturday, September 16th?


(all links to Goodreads are provided!)


In the mail:



Ahhhhhh. AHHHHH. It's here! I won this from Kincaid's giveaway on Twitter. I feel blessed! I loved The Diabolic and can't wait to dive in. Did I mention that it is signed? And personalized!



Thank you, Random House! It's a lovely finished copy. Modeled by my sister!


From NetGalley:

  


As soon as these were available for download, I one-clicked! I couldn't resist. I loved A Promise of Fire and Breath of Fire. Kincade is new to me in terms of her romance, but not her YA!


From Edelweiss: 



HelenKay Dimon is an amazing romance writer! I really enjoyed the previous companion novels in this series, The Fixer and The Enforcer. This new one sounds great!


Reviews from this week:

(Click on the covers to go to my reviews!)


Favorite Instagram post from this week:



This week was an up-and-down one for me. I had a lot of deadlines to meet, and I worked a lot of overtime. Friday was rough for personal reasons but I'm doing better. This week went by incredibly quickly and I'm looking forward to taking advantage of this very lovely weekend!

Friday, September 15, 2017

Review: Blood Guard by Megan Erickson


Blood Guard by Megan Erickson
Book One of the Mission series
Publisher: Loveswept
Publication Date: September 11, 2017
Rating: 4 stars
Source: eARC from NetGalley

Summary (from Goodreads):

Enter a world of immortal danger and desire—and discover an incredible fate borne of blood.

Tendra: One minute, I’m a bartender in gritty Mission City; the next, I’m whisked away by a vampire named Athan who tells me that I’m the lifeblood of his clan. It sounds unbelievable, but he’s got evidence I can’t deny. Turns out, Athan belongs to an underground society of vampires who feed only on humans with their consent. Their enemies have no such qualms, and they want me dead. The only thing standing in their way is strong, sexy Athan. And the closer we get, the more tempted I am to let Athan feed. . . .

Athan: How could I have known when I snatched this snarky, beautiful human off the streets that she would change my destiny? As a loyal soldier, I must deliver Tendra to our future king—my brother. Empowered with the blood of ten generations of the Gregorie breed, she is fated to rule as our queen. But there’s something between us that’s so intoxicating, so carnal, I can’t help wanting Tendra for myself . . . even if it’s treason.

What I Liked:

I'm going to be honest: I've always loved (adult) vampire romance novels, specifically male vampire/female human ones. I know the vampire thing has been exhausted and beat dead over the last ten years or so, and there are certainly many novels that sound the same when it comes to this trope. I've not read a good PNR novel featuring vampires in a long time, and Blood Guard was exactly what I wanted and needed. I've been a huge fan of Erickson's so I would have read this book even if I hated vampire romance novels. But luckily, I love them, and I love Erickson's books, so this book is a huge win for me! And even better - it was a good book. 

Tendra has been living in Mission for a short time, since her mother passed away. She and her mother moved a lot over the years, and the latest place was Mission. Tendra has no attachments to Mission, but she likes her job and her coworkers. One night at the bar she works at changes everything. She finds out (the hard way) that her blood is special and will make the head of the Gregorie vampire clan stronger and more powerful. Oh yeah, and she finds out that vampires exist. Athan Gregorie has come to take her to his brother, Idris, who is the vampire who will be strengthened by Tendra's blood. Athan's duty is to bring Tendra safely to Idris, with none of her blood spilled. Tendra's duty is to be the queen of the Gregorie clan by giving her blood to the king (Idris). But duty comes up against their growing feelings for each other, and they will find that the closer they get to the Gregorie stronghold, the harder it is to let go.

Sometimes in romance novels, I adore the hero and HATE the heroine. It's so sad when that happens, because the story is pretty much ruined at that point. I'm always slightly nervous when starting a new romance novel, for that reason. In this book's case... I loved Athan, and I loved Tendra.

Tendra is such a likable heroine. She is tough and smart, and she speaks her mind. One thing I hate about some heroines is how they seem feisty and assertive, but when it comes down to some things, they shut their mouth. This definitely isn't the case with Tendra. She makes many things clear - that she doesn't want to be some guy's blood bank, that she doesn't want to have her free will taken from her, that she doesn't want to leave Athan. Tendra doesn't lie back and accept fate - no, she fights for what she wants. Her safety, Athan's well-being, their relationship, the fate of the Gregorie clan and the human world... Tendra understands her duty as Sanguivita, but she also isn't letting an old prophecy rule her life. I'm a huge fan of Tendra.

I also loved Athan, just as much as or even more than Tendra. He is gruff and unsmiling, the kind of hero that doesn't really joke around but isn't a total grump either. He's the broody, protective type, who is a warrior but also a sweetheart. Athan puts his duty and his respect for his brother above everything... or he tries, when it comes to Tendra especially. But I liked how even though he was always trying to carry out his duty (bring Tendra safely to Idris), he still accepts his growing feelings for Tendra. It's tricky, falling in love with someone who will be crucial in keeping peace between vampires and humans. 

This book was a little on the short side - not novella short, but not a full-length romance novel. So it seems fairly fast-paced and it almost seems like the plot is too simple. I know some readers didn't like how it seemed like there was nothing going on. The main objective of the story is getting Tendra to Idris without getting killed or anyone drinking her blood. It's a journey of action and high stakes, so it isn't boring by any means. Simple, yes, but not boring. There weren't huge twists and turns, and the one "big thing" didn't surprise me, but I liked it.

Speaking of that, the ending of the book was fantastic. There is no drama in this book and absolutely no love triangle. By the time Athan and Tendra get to the Gregorie home, they are very much in lust and in love. Idris never enters the picture as a love interest, and it's clear from him and Tendra meeting that he has no interest in her. There is no drama in this book - no shenanigans, no lies, no fighting between the brothers. I loved this! I hate it when romance novels involve a woman coming between two brothers, whether it's because of a love triangle, or anything else.

I should mention that the romance is lovely! There is definitely lust at first sight, but no insta-love. I liked seeing Athan and Tendra get more and more comfortable with each other, and fall for each other. They have really hot chemistry and there are several scorching hot scenes in this book. It's a short book, and I definitely wanted more!

Also worth noting - I love the bodyguard/protector trope. In contemporary novels, it's usually a male bodyguard and a female woman to be protected. I love those stories, and I liked this one. I don't usually go for novels involving a brother (or friend) falling for his brother's/friend's intended, but there was no drama and no love triangle in this story. Which was awesome!

Overall, this was a great start to the series. I liked Athan and Tendra a lot, and I hope they will appear in the future books of this series.

What I Did Not Like:

Nothing really major, but like I mentioned before, this book is a little short, and its plot is pretty simple. It's a quick read, but I would have loved more. I definitely would not have wanted any drama and love triangles though.

I also kind of wanted some answers on Brex, Tendra's cat. Is he a supernatural kitty? Maybe a familiar or something? This isn't a huge thing, but the author made it seem like the cat was going to play a huge role in the book, and that there was something significant that would be revealed about him. But then there never was. Honestly, I half-expected Brex to shape-shift into a human form. (Surprise, I've been peeping you two all along, during all of your hot sexy times! That would be weird. Never mind.) Here's hoping Brex will show up in the next book!

I'm hoping the next book features a little more vampire politics and whatnot. I feel like this book had a lot of good vampire/bad vampire politics, where it is black and white. But are all of the Valarian vampires bad? The Quellen? Probably not. I definitely want to see more of both of those clans of vampires, to better understand them.

But, these are minor things!

Would I Recommend It:

If you're in the mood for a quick and steamy paranormal romance novel, this is definitely for you. It's a good vampire romance novel, not a generic repetitive one. I doubt vampire novels are making a comeback, but this one felt so refreshing and satisfying. 

Rating:

3.5 stars -> rounded up to 4 stars. I only wish this book was longer! I really enjoyed it and wanted much more. This is a companion series so the next books won't feature Athan and Tendra as the protagonists. But, I'm excited to read Idris's story (I'm assuming he is the hero of Blood Veil)!

Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!


Did you know? The prequel novella, Bite the Hand that Bleeds, is free!