Monday, July 22, 2013

Fading by E.K. Blair

Can a guilty conscience keep wounds from healing? Fine arts major, Candace Parker, grew up with a mother who thinks image is everything, and her daughter’s perfection will never be good enough. About to graduate college and pursue her dreams of becoming a professional ballerina, Candace decides it’s time to let go and have a little fun. But fun is short-lived when a brutal attack leaves her completely shattered.

The memories that consume and torment Candace are starting to destroy her when she meets Ryan Campbell, a successful bar owner. He feels instantly connected and tries to show her that hope is worth fighting for. But is Ryan harboring his own demons? As walls slowly begin to chip away, the secrets that are held within start to become painful burdens.

At what point do secrets become lies?

Initial Thoughts:
The description was a little bland, but I've always loved movies/books about ballerinas. I think my clumsy self wishes I could be all Center Stage and kick ballerina ass. So I was intrigued by the ballerina aspect. And the cover is gorgeous.

The Pros:
HO. LY. CRAP. This book was intense. SO INTENSE. The blurb does it NO justice whatsoever. This book was incredibly deep, emotional, and real.

Ryan. RYAN. Swooooon all over the place. Can all men be just like him? I mean, really. He was a dark haired Ryan Gosling superhero figure to me in this book.

This book makes you really examine what "family" means. Is it something you're born into? Or is it people you care about and look after?

Unlike most other romance novels out there, the relationship between Candace and Ryan evolves over time. They don't meet, fall in love, and get married in a month. Although there are extenuating circumstances, I really appreciated the gradual evolution of their relationship. Starting out holding hands, a first hug, a kiss on the cheek, this is real life. No "ohmygod I need you right now let's go to the bedroom" nonsense on the first date. It was refreshing.

Jason and Mark. Can you guys be my best friends too? I loved them.

The Cons:
This book isn't a light read, and is not intended for younger readers. The subject matter can be disturbing and hard to get through, but it's worth it. So just a word of a caution.

Kimber annoyed the living daylights out of me. I was expecting to like her character after the first few pages, but after her and Candace's falling out, I wished that she had just been written out of the story.

NO EPILOGUE. I know that E.K. Blair is coming out with the story told from Ryan's point of view but I wanted an epilogue because I am greedy like that.

The Wrap Up: 5/5
BUY THIS BOOK RIGHT NOW. It is seriously one of the best books I've read this year. And maybe last year too. It will take you on an emotional roller coaster, but it is so, so worth it.

Buy Fading by E.K. Blair on Amazon.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Last Boyfriend by J.S. Cooper

Lucky Morgan has had her share of heartbreak. She is devastated when her boyfriend dumps her after sleeping with him and she vows to herself that she won't be used again. She decides that the next guy she dates and sleeps with, will be her one true love.

Zane Beaumont is the mysterious and snooty guy that comes into her diner every Friday night with a different girl. He's the type of guy she's learned to avoid: carefree, fast, handsome, rich, and sarcastic. Unfortunately, she can't stop thinking about the devilish gleam in his eyes.

When Lucky's car breaks down one night after a party, it is Zane who comes to her rescue. As Zane attempts to sweep Lucky off of her feet, she soon realizes that nothing is as it seems and that Zane may very well be the guy for whom she changes the rules. That is until she meets Braydon.
Initial Thoughts:
I was looking for a light, quick read and this one had some good reviews. It also fit with my ridiculous romance novel streak I've got going on lately.

The Pros:
Lucky's "rules" that she instated were really smart. I wish I would have given myself some of those rules back in my early 20's.

I liked the scenes in the diner. Something about being a bystander watching someones life unfold intrigues me.

There was an element of suspense that I somewhat enjoyed throughout the book.

The Cons:
Ugh. Where to begin?

Zane is a crazy psycho stalker. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. It is NOT romantic when a guy controls and follows you and every move you make.

Needless to say, I did NOT find Zane swoon worthy. At all.

Oh you set some rules up so your heart didn't broken again, did you Lucky? Let's throw all of them out the window for the first guy you met! Sounds like a plan to me.

The Braydon/Angelique/party crowd was confusing. It took me a really long time to understand what the hell was going on.

The whole civil rights era documentary, while a cool idea, was totally out of place. It felt like it was just shoved in there to give the story some sort of substance.

The Wrap Up: 1/5
I didn't like this book very much. I only kept reading to see what was going to happen next in this train wreck of a book, so they got me there I guess. How is this a NYT Bestseller?

Buy The Last Boyfriend by J.S. Cooper on Amazon.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Forever Black by Sandi Lynn

When Ellery moved to New York with her boyfriend, she thought they’d live happily ever after in their small New York apartment. She never thought he’d pack his bags and leave because he “needed space.” With her newfound single status and fear of being alone, Ellery buries herself in her artwork and paintings until one night she helps a mysterious intoxicated stranger get home safely. Little did she know the mysterious stranger is none other than CEO and millionaire Connor Black. After finding Ellery in his kitchen the next morning and assuming she broke his #1 rule about sleepovers, he becomes intrigued, not only by her stubbornness and defiance, but by her kindness. Connor Black, emotionally dead and damaged, that stemmed from a personal tragedy, made a vow to never love or fall in love with a woman, until Ellery Lane walked into his life by accident. After she opens up and shows him her world, Connor starts to feel emotions and feelings he never knew existed. Despite the rumors and warnings regarding Connor Black and his use and misuse of women, Ellery finds herself being drawn into his world. Ellery knows they can never be together because she is harboring a deep secret that could destroy Connor emotionally forever. Join Connor and Ellery as they embark on a journey of courage, love and strength. Will it be enough to save them?

Initial Thoughts:
This one had been at the top of my Amazon recommendations for some time now and I finally gave in to see what all the hype was about.

The Pros:
I really liked Ellery's character. She was stubborn and feisty and I loved it. It seems that in a post Fifty Shades literary world, the shy, "I'll do whatever you say" heroine is far too prevalent. Since that is the opposite of what I am, I hate that trend. Ellery was someone I could relate to. If I want ice cream, I want ice cream, and there is nothing you can do to stop me.

Ellery's secret was something I was but at the same time wasn't expecting. It was a huge secret, and it was something I hadn't experienced in a book before. It definitely changed the course that the book was going in.

Peyton was a great friend. She wasn't one of these fair weather "best friends" I often see in romance novels. She was really there for Ellery, even though they hadn't known each other for that long.

I liked the dynamic between Connor's staff and Ellery. There was no disconnect or hierarchy, and they all genuinely cared about Connor and Ellery.

The Cons:
The whole situation with Ashlyn pissed me off. I get that Connor was scared of what she would do, but  christ on a bike.... bitch was cray!

Ellery's stubbornness grated on a me a few times during the novel. I know that is just her character, but it got a little too much at times.

I didn't find Connor that swoon worthy. I know, you think I'm crazy. I just didn't.

The ending seemed rushed and confusing. The two epilogues were disjointed and left me with a lot of questions. I guess it kept it open for the second book, but it was in a really weird way.

The Wrap Up: 3.5/5
I wanted to absolutely love this book like it seems everyone else did, but I didn't. I did like it, but it is nowhere near the top of my list.

Buy Forever Black by Sandi Lynn on Amazon.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Collide by Gail McHugh

A missed first encounter…

Colliding with a second chance…

On the heels of graduating college and trying to cope with her mother’s death, Emily Cooper moves to New York City for a fresh start.

While harboring secrets of his own, Dillon Parker takes care of Emily through her grief. Knowing he can’t live without her by his side, he’s sweet, thoughtful, and everything Emily has ever wanted in a man.

Until she meets Gavin Blake—a rich and notorious playboy who is dangerously sexy and charming as hell. Emily tries to deny the instant connection she feels, but Mr. Tall, Dark, and Handsome is not inclined to let go so easily. Recovering from his own painful past, Gavin will stop at nothing to win Emily over.

This unexpected encounter compels Emily to question her decisions, forcing her to make a choice that will destroy friendships, shatter hearts, and forever change her life.

Initial Thoughts:
Yet another "girl meets rich playboy but will be his undoing" novel. I didn't have very high expectations.

The Pros:
Emily seemed like a relatable character. Her mother just died, she's clinging to the support of her boyfriend, and she's in a new city. Her life is a train wreck, naturally, and this book shows that. There is no pretending Emily is perfect in spite of her difficult position in life. She's real, and she's flawed. Like us readers.

HELLO GAVIN BLAKE. I love him. He's perfect. Honestly, I think he blows Christian Grey out of the water.

This book was full of DRAMA, but in a good way. You never knew what was going to happen next, and I love that in a book.

This was a true love triangle... none of this "oh I might love this super nice guy because he's what's best for me". This was a gritty, serious, drag out love triangle.

The Cons:
The cliffhanger ending! I nearly died. But thank god there is a second book.

Olivia kind of bothered me. She seemed a little too self centered.

I hate Dillon. He reminds me of every guy I dated in my early 20s. But that's a personal problem... ha.
This book got me MAD. I'm not sure if that's a good or a bad thing, but I was seriously emotionally invested in this book and found myself radiating anger more than once.

The Wrap Up: 4/5
Definitely not what I expected. AT ALL. This book kept me guessing, and the characters were real. There was no "sudden billionaire that grew up poor" or "innocent girl turned wild thing". Those characters have been overdone, and the characters in Collide were a refreshing change from the romance novel selection out there right now. This book shows you how your choices change your path of life.

Buy your copy of Collide by Gail McHugh on Amazon today.