Monday, June 30, 2014

He Belongs With Me by Sarah Darlington (Indie)

He Belongs With Me
Sarah Darlington
Pub.: February 28th, 2014

He Belongs with MeTwo girls. One Leo. Identical twins, Maggie and Clara Ryder, both grew up with Leo Maddox, billionaire playboy, apparent alcoholic, and heir to his grandfather's world-famous Maddox hotel empire. Their roles were cemented long ago: Maggie, as his best friend and Clara as his childhood nemesis. But when a simple twist of fate changes everything and both girls start to fall for the lean, mean, ridiculously sexy and seemingly spoiled Leo... which girl will win his heart? Throw in a little mischief, drama, and one smoking-hot bartender and lines are sure to blur. But one thing's for certain, neither good-girl Maggie nor rebellious Clara will be satisfied until they each figure out where they belong.

This was a cute story. After reading the first two chapters you go in thinking you know the two girls and are probably already choosing sides - but you're probably choosing wrong! Two twins, who have been clashing their entire lives because of different personalities, oddly enough seem to find the same men attractive. Maggie is down to earth, classy and responsible. Clara is spunky, eclectic and a little more lazy with it comes to taking responsibility seriously. But oddly enough, it's actually Clara who is more protective of her twin and not the other way around.  
I found Clara captivating. Her story was so raw and honest I could see why Leo always secretly longed for her, waiting like a wallflower for her stubborn ass to see the light day already. I actually found myself rooting for the pathetic train wreck that is Clare's mentality, who's been planning her escape from these people since childhood.
So why only 3.5 stars? Maggie. Had this just been Clara's story, I probably would've 5 starred it. It wasn't that Maggie's story wasn't interesting to read, it's just that it seemed sorta flat compared to her sister's. Where I felt like I got to know the raw, internal workings of a misguided, semi-neglected twin with Clara, I didn't feel that way about Maggie. With Clara, I got to watch as she put the pieces together and realize her attraction to Leo wasn't all of sudden, but something that had been building through the course of their lives. Maggie? A boy who stole her heart when she was younger comes back for her, baggage in tow, and she more or less accepts it and is happy. Which is good, but I guess I longed for that boy to put in a lot more effort into the chasing since he uprooted his life to finally makes his way back to her. Instead, he kinda sat back and just awaited her decision. And I guess I expected her father to add a little friction to their relationship, given the way that boy was kicked out of their lives to begin with. Maggie's story came together like a pretty little bow. Clara's bow, albeit tied after awhile, looked like it had been yanked, stretched and shredded by the family cat.  
Read it. Clara's story makes it worth it alone.

Novel provided by author for honest review.

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Friday, June 27, 2014

Sunrise by Mike Mullins (ARC)

Sunrise (Ashfall #3)
Mike Mullins
Pub.: April 25, 2014

Sunrise (Ashfall, #3)The Yellowstone supervolcano nearly wiped out the human race. Now, almost a year after the eruption, the survivors seem determined to finish the job. Communities wage war on each other, gangs of cannibals roam the countryside, and what little government survived the eruption has collapsed completely. The ham radio has gone silent. Sickness, cold, and starvation are the survivors' constant companions.

When it becomes apparent that their home is no longer safe and adults are not facing the stark realities, Alex and Darla must create a community that can survive the ongoing disaster, an almost impossible task requiring even more guts and more smarts than ever — and unthinkable sacrifice. If they fail . . . they, their loved ones, and the few remaining survivors will perish.

This epic finale has the heart of Ashfall, the action of Ashen Winter, and a depth all its own, examining questions of responsibility and bravery, civilization and society, illuminated by the story of an unshakable love that transcends a post-apocalyptic world and even life itself.

Wow. I think this might've been my fave of the three. It actually reminded me of that show Jericho that aired several years back where nearby towns in a post-apocalyptic world began feuding and killing each other off for supplies. Alex and Darla et all find the townspeople of Warren living off their land because a nearby town came in, took over and ran off with their supplies. Using the knowledge of one very war-minded individual, they're lucky enough to get it back. Unfortunately the town's people are stubborn about going on the offensive and putting up defenses, so Alex and Darla don't want their group to move back with them. Instead they move to a windfarm, and with the skills of Darla and her uncle, manage to set up greenhouses and longhouses with electricity. But the supplies they need aren't easy to find - and come at a horrendous price. But you've gotta hand it to the two for what they're willing to sacrifice to keep their group alive in a world gone terribly wrong.
If you could stomach the first two, you can probably handle this one too, though there were plenty of cringe-worthy moments.

ARC provided by Tanglewood Press for honest review.
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Monday, June 23, 2014

The Dare by Hannah Jayne (ARC)

The Dare
Hannah Jayne
Exp. Pub.: July 1, 2010

The DareTwo jumped off the pier that night...but only one came back alive

Bryn did everything with her best friend Erica. So when someone dared Erica to jump off the pier one night at Harding Beach, Bryn was right by her side. But when Bryn made it back to the surface, Erica was nowhere to be found. Bryn tries to make a fresh start by burying her memories of that awful night. But when a Twitter post from "EricaNShaw" pops up on her feed and a chilling voice mail appears on her phone, she realizes that someone isn't ready to let go of the past...
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One night, a group of friends playing games on the beach led to a dare, one with deadly consequences. Besties Erika and Bryn jumped off the pier and into the chilly ocean, but only Bryn made her way back out again. After drowning her grief with drugs and alcohol and forced by the court to go through a mandatory stay at rehab, her parents move her an hour away to start over at a new school. High school was hard enough just being the new girl, especially when you suffer from a heavy case of survivor's guilt, but when messages begin pouring in from Erika's old account, Bryn completely loses it. Now she keeps seeing her best friend everywhere - and it's making her absolutely nuts!

Sorry, but this one just didn't work for me. Bryn came off wimpy and weak, and when someone clearly began screwing with her, she wouldn't tell anyone. Not her friends, not her parents. And she felt everything that happened to her was Erika's doing - who she didn't believe was a ghost, but alive somewhere pissed that Bryn moved on with her life. Her new friends turned out to be anything but. One is an office aid and snoops through Bryn's file, and when Bryn argues she didn't have the right to do that and needed to keep it to herself, she was mad! Like it's a huge inconvenience for her to keep her trap shut now that she knows some things about Bryn's past - who's trying to leave a tragedy behind and start a new life. And when a flyer goes around teasing a friend about something the entire school seems to know anyways, all but one of her so-called friends blame her - without any kind of evidence - and absolutely throw her under the bus. Great friends you've got there.
Also, I'm not entirely convinced of Bryn's phobia. As a competitive swimmer from the age of four on, being in the water was second nature to me. Sorry, but if a friend of mine got sucked out by a riptide, I might develop an aversion for swimming in the ocean, but what does that have to do with a pool? I'm not going to fear walking because I tripped and broke my ankle. And I'm not suddenly going to fear drowning in a pool when I'm the experienced swimmer than I am. It was awful luck, but riptide's are fierce, and even the best swimmers can struggle getting out of them. And speaking of riptides, how come all the adults seemed to know about it, but their kids didn't? Tell your freakin' kids people! You live near the beach and you know eventually they're gonna go swimming at night!
I also felt the ending was really abrupt. Some things were left unanswered and I find that highly unsatisfying. For instance, we never truly learn who wanted the punch spiked, because if a certain student did it at request of someone else, it would've had to have been a student at school to get him to agree. We're never told how it is all these phone calls and tweets and such were being sent to Bryn. When she dialed one of the phone numbers harassing her, she was told the line couldn't dial out. And I'm not a tweeter, but wouldn't these leave a trace over the internet? Even if they were private, wouldn't she be able to show them as proof of harassment if she didn't delete them? And her own phone is apparently used to get her old friends in trouble. Is the person hounding her some kind of hacker? Hell if I know, because nothing is ever explained. And we're told a certain family member of Erika's had an unhealthy obsession, but we were never really given any kind of insight on that. Like why? What kind of obsession? Jealousy? Sexual interest? There's a meaningful story there somewhere but it goes completely untouched. And as for the eye witness to the account, how could someone who couldn't swim and hanging out on the pier go unnoticed by all that night? Doesn't make much sense to me, because it was never addressed.
For me, Dare bobbled in the ocean for a bit, then shot straight to the bottom like an anchor. Too many plot holes made me feel unsatisfied, and at times, straight up annoyed. I do have a couple of Hannah Jayne's others novels, and I can only hope those will make me feel better about her work. 
ARC provided by Sourcebooks Fire for honest review.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Before He Was Famous by Becky Wicks

Before He Was Famous (Starstruck #1)
Becky Wicks
Pub.: May 25, 2014

Before He Was Famous (Starstruck, #1)One guy, one girl. One in the spotlight. One in the shadows.

Falling in love with your best friend isn’t always a great idea, especially when he’s Noah Lockton - the sexiest, most famous new talent on the planet. When 21-year-old small-town photographer Chloe Campbell is offered the chance of a lifetime – to join her celebrity childhood friend Noah on tour as an exclusive blogger for a New York magazine – she’s certain both have put what happened four years ago behind them. But his eyes still burn; his voice is still a jackhammer to her heartstrings; all his songs are about her. Is it possible that that night still haunts them both?

The music industry is a machine, spinning hype and rumors as much as his records. It’s not just Noah’s girlfriends who’ve got it in for Chloe (there’s no stopping the Twitter-obsessed, cat-loving pop-star Courtney Lentini for starters). Pretty soon, the jealousy and media frenzy surrounding these so-called-friends takes a life-changing turn and it seems making love means making enemies at every turn. When tragedy threatens to pull the final curtain on their relationship, both Chloe and Noah must make a choice. As much as this world leaves them starstruck, is living their dream really worth living without each other?

Two people friends since childhood, both in the love with the other but not wanting to ruin the relationship already established, only to be silently miserable watching the other take on different lovers as their relationship statuses never seem to hit single at the same time.
Chloe finds herself caught up in the limelight of Noah's new life. The latest winner on a reality singing show, he's off to start recording and touring from the get-go. But he wants his best friend to move to New York with him, and urges her to apply for a job with a magazine to be a photographer. Of course she lets it slip during her interview that she's besties with the suddenly famous Noah Lockton, and the magazine is drooling to use her to scoop the other magazines. So much that Chloe runs a daily blog on the life of Noah Lockton, as she follows him every where he goes. But not only is she forced to watch the guy she loves in a relationship with the runner-up, she herself gets pulled into the public drama and begins to get some nasty death threats being the one true thing Noah Lockton wants in life.
I will say that I liked the romance grow between the two, as it seemed heartfelt and natural, but I think two friends who knew each other so well should've been able to see through the crap that was happening between and around them. For me, this was just an okay novel, as it lacked originality in the new adult market these days. But all in all, it was still a sweet read that I breezed through in a single night, so don't let that deter you from checking it out for yourself.
Novel provided by author for honest review.

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Sunday, June 8, 2014

Dollhouse by Anya Allyn

Dollhouse (Dollhouse #1)
Anya Allyn
Pub.: May 20, 2014

DollhouseDress-up turns deadly. . .

When Cassie’s best friend, Aisha, disappears during a school hike, Cassie sets off with Aisha’s boyfriend Ethan and their best friend Lacey, determined to find her. But the mist-enshrouded mountains hold many secrets, and what the three teens discover is far more disturbing than any of them imagined: beneath a rundown mansion in the woods lies an underground cavern full of life-size toys and kidnapped girls forced to dress as dolls.

Even as Cassie desperately tries to escape the Dollhouse, she finds herself torn between her forbidden feelings for Ethan, and her intense, instinctive attraction to The Provider, a man Cassie swears she has known before…

Because Cassie’s capture wasn’t accidental, and the Dollhouse is more than just a prison where her deepest fears come true—it’s a portal for the powers of darkness. And Cassie may be the only one who can stop it

Creepy dolls everywhere just got dismembered. Just in case...
(Hell, I would've done it anyway!)

 photo blackandwhiteventriloquistdoll_zps5569e701.gif

When Aisha goes missing during a group nature hike and her boyfriend Ethan gets blamed for her disappearance, friends Cassie and Lacey trek back into the forest after Ethan, who's determined to clear his name. But he's running out of time, because police and their hound dogs are closing in fast. And when they spot the owner of a creepy mansion in the middle of the forest burying something in the ground, their last ditch effort has them sneaking inside. But unfortunately, what goes in, doesn't always come back out again.
I'd love to tell you a little more of the world inside, but that would be completely spoilerish. I will say that it involves creepy oversized dolls, several kidnapped girls, a mild love triangle with the worst timing ever, captors who are beyond messed up and secret tunnels that open up for a strange reason. Gothic horror fans are in for a treat, and if you haven't read one before, this is a goody to get your feet wet with. Just be sure to lock up the creepy dolls before you read. Better yet, spare yourself the anxiety and just chunk the nasty things.

Copy provided by publisher for honest review.
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Sunday, June 1, 2014

Previously Loved Book Giveaway - June 2014

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...June 2014!
A paperback of Need by Carrie Jones!
Need (Need, #1) 
Pain shoots through my head. Fireworks. Explosions. All inside my brain. The white world goes dark and I know what's about to happen.

Zara White suspects there's a freaky guy semi-stalking her. She's also obsessed with phobias. And it's true, she hasn't exactly been herself since her stepfather died. But exiling her to shivery Maine to live with her grandmother? That seems a bit extreme. The move is supposed to help her stay sane...but Zara's pretty sure her mom just can't deal with her right now.

She couldn't be more wrong. Turns out the semi-stalker is not a figment of Zara's overactive imagination. In fact, he's still following her, leaving behind an eerie trail of gold dust. There's something not right - not human - in this sleepy Maine town, and all signs point to Zara.

In this creepy, compelling breakout novel, Carrie Jones delivers romance, suspense, and a creature you never thought you'd have to fear.
Want a chance to win? Head here to enter!