Seeking Mansfield (Kate Watson)

Sixteen-year-old Finley Price has perfected two things: how to direct a world-class production, and how to fly way, way under the radar. The only person who ever seems to notice Finley is her best friend and godparents’ son, Oliver Bertram. Since Finley moved in with her godparents after the death of her father, she and Oliver have grown close. If Finley could just take Oliver’s constant encouragement to heart and step out of the shadows, she’d finally chase her dream of joining the prestigious Mansfield Theater. But when teen movie stars Emma and Harlan Crawford move across the street from the Bertrams, they shake up Finley and Oliver’s stable friendship. As Emma and Oliver grow closer, Finley realizes that Harlan’s attention is shifting to her. She discovers she might have feelings for him too. Or, is she only interested in Harlan because Oliver is taken? Finley doesn’t want to be won, and she doesn’t want to see Oliver with anyone else. To claim Oliver’s heart — and keep her own — she’ll have to find the courage to do what she fears most: step into the spotlight.


I read this book as a buddy read with Cátia @The Girl Who Read Too, go to her blog in the next few days to read her review of this book, which I’m already warning you, will be slightly more flattering than mine.

You know when you are reading something with the most amazing reviews, and all you can think is “WTF? Did they read the same thing as me?!”. That’s how I felt about this book. I was excited to read it because it had some amazing reviews on goodreads, also, it’s a Jane Austen retelling, so what could go wrong, right? Well, for me, almost everything.

The redeeming quality of this book was the great writing. I have to say that Kate Watson sure has her way with words and she made the writing great on this one. However, the story and the characters just didn’t live up to it.

I have to admit that Mansfield Park is probably my least favorite of Austen’s stories, though I haven’t read the book yet, only saw the adaptation on the TV. But while the story works in that setting, I didn’t think it worked at all in the modern world.

The characters were all flawed, and I could have been on board with it, but they weren’t at all likable. I felt some sympathy for Finley and Oliver, and that was it. I HATED everyone else.

Finley felt like such a weak character, and I while I understand that she was broken from her past experiences, she still subjected herself to way too much abuse. She had no voice, and she allowed people to speak for her, in all areas of her life. I mean, by 90% of this book, she was still allowing herself to be stepped on by people who she supposedly loved and loved her back. And while I appreciate that she grew a lot and took charge of her life throughout this book, it still happened more because of other’s people’s influences, than her own will.

Oliver was my favorite character of the bunch, and I felt like he truly wanted Fin to find her own way, instead of constantly fighting her battles for her. But the thing is, he still fought her battles way too many times, and he neglected her big time when he got a girlfriend. And while I understood his reasoning behind being with Emma, I still thought it could have been dialed down a bit.

I hated Emma and Harlan, and yet, their feelings were sincere and they were super important to make Finley come out of her shell. They were still pretty horrible human beings, and the fact that Finley and Oliver were in relationships with these two characters, made me a bit sick.

I’m gonna drop some situations in the book that didn’t make any sense to me and that I honestly hated, ok? So, a bit of SPOILERS ahead…

  • Finley sees Harlan and Juliette kissing. Juliette had a boyfriend at that point, which was not Harlan. And yet, after this Finley gives him a chance and FALLS IN LOVE with him. HOW? Their relationship felt way too physical for me. She hated that he smothered her opinions. And yet, she loves him?!
  • Her godfather, Oliver’s dad, opens his eyes by the end, and makes sure that Fin is happy and has everything she needs. And yet, for 2 years she was treated horribly. She only had hand-me-down clothes, she didn’t have a proper phone, she sacrificed all her time to do whatever they wanted. And this might have not been so bad, if not for the fact that they were filthy rich, and he made sure he told her how “lucky” she was for what they gave her.
  • Tate, Oliver’s older brother, technically likes and treats Finley like family. But has no problems waking her up drunk at 4 am, so she can pack for him. Or almost kiss her at some point. Those things are not addressed, especially the fact that he was always hitting on her and making his moves.
  • By the end of the book, I still wasn’t sure if Harlan was just that stupid, or if the author didn’t know the difference between Portuguese and Spanish…
  • Harlan blames the fact that he cheated on Finley on… FINLEY! Yep, his excuse was that it was her fault because she wasn’t there. Her thoughts?! “He might have a point”… WTF?!
  • I had a tough time buying the whole thing about Finley’s past. Liam, her older brother, was almost 18 by the time their dad passed away, and I found it kind of unbelievable that he would let their mom abuse her like that and not say something before. The whole story would have made much more sense to me if she was an only child.
  • Oliver offers the spot of someone working hard and proving themselves to go on a mission with him, to his girlfriend Emma, who had no interest in the work whatsoever. That felt so cheap and wrong for me.

Overall I really disliked this book. The writing was great though, and it was the only reason I kept reading it. That and the fact that Cátia wasn’t allowing me to give up on it. So, it was not my thing at all, and I honestly don’t understand all the raving reviews, but hey, to each its own…

Let’s Talk About: Problems of Being an International Reader & Blogger… ARCs

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Hey people! Last week I started this whole “Problems of Being an International Reader & Blogger” thing talking about the difficulties we have accessing books. But did you know that we also have a major drawback when it comes to obtaining ARCs? Yep… so let’s see what’s up with that, shall we?


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This is as much as a common problem to us, international book bloggers, as not being able to access a published book whenever.

If you’re just starting out this whole book blogging thing, you might be a little clueless, because I know I was when I first started out. Heck, I didn’t even know what an ARC was. And just to clarify (in case there is someone out there doing this o_O), ARC stands for advance reading copy, and it’s a copy of the book given to librarians, booksellers, bloggers, etc, to create a buzz around said book and get the reviews going.

So, back on topic, if you’re like me, you’ve probably already gone to google and typed out “how to get ARCs” or any variation of those words, and you’ve come across a bunch of amazing posts telling you exactly what to do, who to write to, how to word your request, …, everything. Those posts are awesome! Except for the fact that they don’t really apply to us, international peps.


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You’ve read those tips, and they all tell you some important points, like you should blog frequently and for a few months before attempting a request, you should review books frequently on said blog, you should have an X number of followers and daily views, etc. When I first read this, I jumped and down from excitement, because I ticked all those boxes at the time.

So I kept following their advices, like explaining to the publisher why you want to review that specific book, and so on. I then gathered a list of books I was dying to read (and knew the arcs were starting to make their way out), compiled the mails, wrote and rewrote my email to them, and then clicked “send”. I repeated the whole process a few times, until it dawned on me that every single blogger I had seen with physical arcs came from the US, UK, Canada, Australia and Philippines.

I was dismayed!

The right thing to do here would be to write the publishers from YOUR country and ask them for those ARCs, but again, most books don’t make it out of the English speaking market, and those few that do, take time to do it. Also, that would mean that I would have to read in portuguese or spanish and I don’t have enough brain cells for that.

Now, I’m not saying that they NEVER send out physical ARCs to international bloggers, because I’m sure they do. I’m just saying that said bloggers will have to have worked 5 times harder, have 5 times the following, and so on, to even make it worth their while.

And while I do get it, because for publishers the goal is to market the book where it will actually be sold, it sucks big time nonetheless.

International Bloggers, raise hands if you ever got a physical ARC from the publisher! Go ahead, tell me!


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You’re probably thinking: “yeah, that kind of sucks, but there are other ways to get physical ARCs”, and sure, you would be right.

Events like BEA are huge in the US. And there are similar things going on around some other countries. Not here though! So when the whole commotion starts around the conventions time, or the “selling” drama starts on twitter, we are left wondering what would it be like to actually stand in line and grab an upcoming book, because we have no clue.

There are some other ways to get one, like several contests and giveaways, but those are random and some of them don’t even apply to us either.


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Resigning myself that I would probably never get a physical ARC, I focused my efforts on getting digital galleys. Netgalley is probably the paradise for us International people who love to read and review, given that they are a little more flexible on the whole “where the heck you’re from” thing. But still, have you’ve ever been denied because you don’t live in the US or UK? I know I have! Look at some examples:

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I mean, I’m not saying that they can’t have refused me because of other factors, but it’s pretty clear in some cases that the problem is that you simply do not live in some places.

I remember back in March I was denied for two ARCs from the same publisher, telling me that the country was the culprit. This bugged me at the time because I had reviewed the previous books by both authors just a couple of months before through Netgalley too, and from the same publisher, of course. So, what the hell, right?! I really wanted both books, so I went ahead and wrote to them, and in no time I had the two widgets on my email. With this I’m saying that it’s not that they’re not allowed to allow for international reviewers, it’s just that it’s completely random sometimes.

It’s very hard to do your best, when the decision factors are a random mess.

In several cases I was denied, I went through the trouble of writing to them, because people… I have a reasonable number of followers, I do OK in views, I mean, these are my Netgalley stats:

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… so I think I do ok, right? I post everyday. I try to post at least 3 reviews per week, both in YA and NA, so unless we’re talking about a pretty sought out book, I would think that I would manage some more approvals. Still, approvals for titles from bigger publishing houses never come, and it’s really hard to get books that I’m dying to read.


Sometimes I feel like there are totally different standards for ARCs approvals depending on where you’re from. And while I understand the different countries’ rights, I also think that if we are all blogging in the same language and putting up much of the same content, it doesn’t make sense for someone with 400 followers and who blogs twice a week, to receive an ARC that I won’t be allowed to read. When in reality, we’re targeting the exactly same audience.

Hey guys, so, this is nothing against US/UK/… bloggers. Just the opposite! Also, no ARC envy here. I’m just pointing out how unfair it is for us international people, ok?

So, hit me. Tell me your experience with ARCs as a blogger, international or otherwise. I wanna know if I’m alone in this :P.

Blog Tour: Stroked Long (Meghan Quinn)

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We’re so excited about the release of STROKED LONG by Meghan Quinn! 

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STROKED LONG by Meghan Quinn

Scheduled to release: September 20, 2016

Sports Romance

Cover Designed by: Indie Solutions by Murphy Rae

Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | iBooks | Kobo


Review:

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From his dirty-blond hair and breathtaking smile, to the abs from heaven and the irresistible V in his waistline, everything about Bodi Olympic-gold-medalist Banks screams hot piece of @$$.

Yet there’s more. 

Dark shadows lurk behind his soulful, serious eyes.

I’m enamored. He’s captured me.

How can running an art foundation with Bodi Banks turns into a slow-burning, epic romance, even though he tries to push me away at every chance? How can I stay away from a broken, routine-driven man whose soul cries to be forgiven for a crime only he believes he committed? Or is that a lie?


I read this book as a buddy read with Cátia @The Girl Who Read Too Much, so go there on Monday to check her review of this book. SPOILER ALERT: she also loved it!

First of all, I loved the writing style. YES! First person is completely me and I love it. This is my third Meghan Quinn’s book, and I’m in love with her writing, for sure. Luckily in this one, we only have the two main POVs, Bodi’s and Ruby’s – I don’t know if I could have dealt with anymore insight into Bellini’s brain! I’m now thinking that if Stroked didn’t have her POV, I might have enjoyed it even more.

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I’m totally in love with the two main characters of this book. I was intrigued by Bodi in book 1, because he was so difficult to read, but here we finally understand the reasoning behind the way he acts, and his obsessive compulsive behaviours, and honestly? It broke my heart. I really liked his evolution, and how he was able to open up to Ruby, at least a little bit, and include her in his life.

I LOVE Ruby! Her behaviour is hilarious and her rants are amazing. While Bodi is all broody and quiet, Ruby is a ray of sunshine! She’s so strong and understanding. I love her. I love him. I love THEM!

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The romance was amazing and I liked that it evolved slow. They first became co-workers, then decided to be friends, and then finally, finally, they went beyond that. Their talks – and texts – were AWESOME!!! It made sense that way, because Bodi was so closed off and it was so hard for him to became close to someone. So, when they’re finally in a relationship, they are IN. I just loved them together, even when it was clear how they would fall apart, I just wanted my babies to be happy.

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The fall-out was very well done, and it made a lot of sense, even though I didn’t want it to happen. I really liked how their friends and family were supportive of both of them, and helped them to come together again.

I didn’t find this book as predictable as the first one, and the only big problem I had with it was the repetition, mainly on Ruby’s POV. I loved that the ending was real, and it wasn’t all sunshine and roses.

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People, if you guys like hot romances and olympic swimmers, then read this book. NOW!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

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Born in New York and raised in Southern California, Meghan has grown into a sassy, peanut butter eating, blonde haired swearing, animal hoarding lady. She is known to bust out and dance if “It’s Raining Men” starts beating through the air and heaven forbid you get a margarita in her, protect your legs because they may be humped. 

Once she started commuting for an hour and twenty minutes every day to work for three years, she began to have conversations play in her head, real life, deep male voices and dainty lady coos kind of conversations. Perturbed and confused, she decided to either see a therapist about the hot and steamy voices running through her head or start writing them down. She decided to go with the cheaper option and started writing… enter her first novel, Caught Looking

Now you can find the spicy, most definitely on the border of lunacy, kind of crazy lady residing in Colorado with the love of her life and her five, furry four legged children, hiking a trail or hiding behind shelves at grocery stores, wondering what kind of lube the nervous stranger will bring home to his wife. Oh and she loves a good boob squeeze!

 Website | Goodreads | TwitterFacebook


GIVEAWAY:

$25 Gift Card

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Also Available!

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STROKED by Meghan Quinn

Released: July 19, 2016

NA Romantic Comedy

Cover designer: Indie Solutions by Murphy Rae

Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Kobo | Nook | iBooks

Reese King: Olympic medalist, underwear model, Greek god.

His body is chiseled from rock, sculpted by the weight room, and refined by water.

On a daily basis his skin is completely bare for everyone to see, tan and defined, only covered up by a minuscule piece of spandex. There is no denying his sex appeal.

I hate to admit it, but I’m head over heels infatuated with him.

There is one HUGE problem though. His achingly gorgeous abs, inked up arm, and cocky swagger belong to my boss, the high-profile, reality star bitch from hell and certified heinous human being, Bellini Chambers.

What I think is going to be an easy job assisting a glorified wench turns into a cluster f*ck of epic proportions.


BLOG TOUR:

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Eight Ways to Ecstasy (Jeanette Grey)

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In this stunningly sensual sequel to Seven Nights to Surrender, acclaimed author Jeanette Grey reunites readers with a young artist and the man who’ll stop at nothing to have her . . .  

Kate Reid’s whirlwind romance with billionaire playboy Rylan Bellamy complicated her life in ways she’d worked to avoid. She’d fallen hard for his flirtatious charm and given him the one thing no other man had: her trust. Just as Kate began to imagine a future with Rylan, everything fell apart.  

Now she’s starting over in New York…but even the glittering streets of Manhattan can’t erase the memory of Rylan knocking her off her feet and sweeping her into the most erotic, unforgettable week of her life.

It’s been months, and Rylan still can’t forget Kate. Months since he bared his soul at her feet. Months since he drove away the only woman to ever make him feel. Kate changed his world and now Rylan is determined to win her back-no matter what it takes. After crossing an ocean to reach her, he makes a deal with Kate: One more week, for one more chance. Now it’s up to Rylan to show Kate all the ways they fit together . . . and prove that this player has met his perfect match.


A while back I read my first erotica novel, Seven Nights to Surrender by Jeanette Grey, and although it wasn’t my favorite thing ever, it was also not the worst, and I gained a new appreciation for the genre. Still not one I reach for very often, but I do enjoy it. So when I saw Eight Ways to Ecstasy, the sequel to Seven Nights to Surrender, on Netgalley, I needed to request it.

(Funny thing… the publisher actually denied my request because of country restrictions. But I didn’t fold and wrote to them asking for the book, and they graciously allowed to read and review it… THANK YOU!)

I enjoyed this sequel so so much. I can’t even! I was fangirling the entire time…

While one of the main problems of the first book was the little action and plot, this book breaks both of those problems. Kate and Rylan actually have lives in this book, outside of the time they spend together, and even when together, they actually go out and interact with other people. Also, they have so much going in their lives besides each other… and the characters’ growth! WOW!

I had some problems with Kate’s reactions on the first book, but I finally understood them here. It was such a different thing to see both of them in their element, and the inclusion of friends and family in the story.

I loved their dynamic in this book. Kate was more assertive to some extent, and Rylan was doing whatever he could to make her see how much he wanted “them” to work. But when things fell apart I was actually surprised… the things they said to each other were real, and they were both so right that it hurt a little.

Ultimately, this being an erotica novel and all, there were some HOT scenes. Hotter than the first book actually 😉 . And it was so beautifully written…

Honestly people, I think I’m in love with this book and these characters a bit. I adored it, it was a perfect conclusion to Kate and Rylan’s story, and now I’m excited to read Lexie’s story in the next book. 🙂 So, if you’re into this genre, give this series a go, it’s well worth it.

March Book Haul

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Hey! I got a ton of books this month, 32 to be exact, but mostly eBooks or review copies. Let me show you what I hauled.


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At the first week of the month I went into Barcelona, to my beloved bookstore, and saw a single copy of The Girl Who Fell by Shannon M. Parker, I picked it up immediately and marched to the register. We were still almost a week from Lady Midnight release date, but I decided to ask if they were going to receive the book right away, because if not, I was ordering it online. The lady was super nice, and she informed me that they had received 2 copies of the book that morning, one was already sold, but the other was available, and if I wanted it… did I ever?! Of course! So, I bought Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare before it came out and I love it!

Last, but certainly not least, Kat @Life and Other Disasters had a small problem with her order of Kindred Spirits by Rainbow Rowell, and ended up receiving 50 copies of the book instead of one. And because she’s the best, she sent me one. To be honest, I still haven’t opened it, since it is in Portugal and I am not, but I just couldn’t not mention it. Also, she just achieved 500 WordPress followers on her blog, and she’s hosting a giveaway that you can check out here.


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This month I took advantage of a lot of kindle deals, and bought some books that I just needed to read…


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I requested a lot of ARCs from Netgalley this month, and got a few books from the authors as well. Even though these are a lot of review copies, I already read 8 of them during this month, and I’m on my way to finishing the 9th, so all is good.

 

South of Sunshine (Dana Elmendorf)

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What is Kaycee willing to risk for the sake of love?

And what will she risk for acceptance?

In Sunshine, Tennessee, the main event in town is Friday night football, the biggest party of the year is held in a field filled with pickup trucks, and church attendance is mandatory. For Kaycee Jean McCoy, life in Sunshine means dating guys she has no interest in, saying only “yes, ma’am” when the local bigots gossip at her mom’s cosmetics salon, and avoiding certain girls at all costs. Girls like Bren Dawson. 

Unlike Kaycee, Bren doesn’t really conceal who she is. But as the cool, worldly new girl, nobody at school seems to give her any trouble. Maybe there’s no harm if Kaycee gets closer to her too, as long as she can keep that part of her life a secret, especially from her family and her best friend. But the more serious things get with Bren, the harder it is to hide from everyone else. Kaycee knows Sunshine has a darker side for people like her, and she’s risking everything for the chance to truly be herself.


A while back I was commenting with Kat that I hadn’t read any book about a F/F relationship. Yes, I read books that had lesbian relationships in the background, such as The Mortal Instruments or More Than Fashion, but I still hadn’t read one book where the F/F relationship took front and central. That’s why, when this book became available on Netgalley, I was super excited and requested it instantly. I had high hopes for it!

Unfortunately, despite the very strong issues touched on this book, and the occasional tear jerker moment, the most dominant feeling I had while reading it was: RAGE!

Yes, I was enraged for like 50% of this book. It didn’t feel good. I was messaging Cátia the whole time, and my most used expression was “WTF??!!“. I wanted to throw my phone away and yell at the skies and I even let out an occasional “OMG!” outloud and the occasional scream of frustration… yeah… this book was an experience, all right.

Let me first tell you a bit about the plot, because I feel like the blurb is not all that illuminating… Kaycee likes girls, she has liked girls since she can remember, she was never confused or in doubt, she is gay, she knows it, she just never admitted it to others or to herself. Her plan was to get through high school, have a few boyfriends, go to community college, save money and then get the hell away from Sunshine. Her plan was also never to tell a soul in her life about who she truly is, not even her mother. Then a new girl arrives at school and it’s a bit of instacrush… Kaycee can’t keep her eyes out of Bren, and Bren is also interested, but Bren has no problems with who she is, though she doesn’t flaunt it, she also doesn’t hide it.

Things get tricky as their relationship progresses. Kaycee being raised religious, is torn between her true self and what people at her small southern town and her church deems acceptable – that is: homosexuality is a NO NO! In a town that it’s socially and racially segregated, Kaycee is afraid, so she hides herself. Until her relationship with Bren comes out, that is, and Kaycee has to decide what is more important to her.

Now, see, isn’t that a good premise? I think it’s fabulous. My problem was the execution…

The writing took me a bit to get into, mainly because of the southern colloquialisms and expressions that I’m not familiar with. Eventually I kind of got used to it. But the pacing was slow, oh so slow, and honestly, after finishing it, I felt like the whole direction was a bit lacking.

I had a LOT of problems with Kaycee, our main character. I won’t even begin to understand how hard it is to come out of the closet in normal circumstances, much less in a small and small minded town, but I wanted to slap this girl in the face a few times… ok, many many times. I understood the fear, I swear I did, but her denial of herself and those who loved her hurt. The things she did and said to try to extricate herself from some situations was too hurtful and nonsensical. The fact that after an unpleasant situation, she turned the tables around and did the same to a person who was one of her best-friends was the worst.

In the end I felt like she grew a little, but not nearly enough, and her motivations weren’t the right ones. You should do things for YOU and not because you’re in love. Speaking of the romance, it was another thing I wasn’t totally sold on. I loved Bren, I just kept wishing that she would find someone better, because Kaycee didn’t treat her like she deserved.

I know that I live in a pretty idyllic place. It’s not that bullying and bigotry and so on doesn’t happen here, because it does, but definitly not in the dimension that is portrayed in this book. But some things that are said during this book totally turned my stomach around, because they’re just so wrong! I know this happens, I know it happens a lot and in a lot of places, but I don’t think that most of the book should have had this theme, where people said the most offensive things, and Kaycee or Van just went with them, because it was easier I guess… no, I didn’t like it at all. Some examples:

“You and your troublesome friends need to git your asses out of my theater. This ain’t no homosexual social club. You take your gay crap to California where all them other liberal hippies live. Law or no law, you’ll never be equal in my book. And you ought to be ashamed. You all disgust me. it ain’t normal, I tell ya. You gay people are destroying marriage and family values across the country. We don’t tolerate that around here.”

This is Kaycee’s BFF talking to her…

“I thought if you finally admitted you were gay, then somehow, I’d lose you. That I wouldn’t be able to be your friend because you’d hit on me or something, and then everybody would think I was gay too.”

This is the same BFF and one clueless dude…

“It’s the only gay shirt I’ve got.”

“Just because they’re gay, doesn’t mean they all wear pink. Do they, Van?”

I mean, I can’t even! I think the themes treated in this book are so important, but unfortunately I don’t think the execution appealed to me at all. I was rooting for the characters simply for my sense of morals and right and wrong, and nothing more, because these weren’t likable characters. Ultimatly I managed to reach 3 stars of rating because of this, because this type of books ARE IMPORTANT and because this book made me feel (though not very good…).

Have you read South of Sunshine? Did you like it?

Heartbreaker (Kat Bastion with Stone Bastion)

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Kiki Michaelson wants one wild night to forget her starving-artist worries. Simple.

Only instead of Darren Cole becoming her one-night stand, he taunts her with a challenge. Then while she’s trying to best him at his own game, he turns out to be the last thing she’s prepared for: someone she wants to keep.

Which means all he can ever be…is a friend.

Darren Cole never allows a girl to get close—not close enough to matter.

Then storms in Kiki Michaelson, a beautiful, fearless temptation that rocks his world off-balance. But he fights their attraction, unwilling to gamble something physical with their close ties. Until the passionate sculptor exposes her heart and breaks his wide open.

In that moment it becomes clear: she could never be just a friend.

Sometimes what you run from…is exactly what you need.


Sometimes that are some books where the cover and the title have nothing to do with the plot or the characters. This is one of those books. But it was good! Better than I was expecting.

This book is told in dual POV and the writing is great, it actually paints images and art and music in your head while reading it, and that is always a great thing, when books can pull you like that.

The characters were fun and had such a depth to them… Darren and Kiki made sense, and I was happy that they actually became good friends before anything happened between them. Neither was prepared (or thought they wanted) for a relationship, but it was great to see the walls fall and them allowing the feelings to show. Each of them holds a secret at the beginning of the book, and they explain a lot of their hesitations towards feeling anything real.

I really liked the side characters. Logan was a riot, and Kiki’s “family” was amazing. It made me want to read more about this gang.

All in all, it was a good slow burning romance, with a lot of sexual tension. I didn’t exactly have any problem with the book, it just didn’t completely blew me away, though it was a nice, fun and emotional read. I would easily recommend it.

This One’s For You (Brandy Jellum)

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All alone in a new state, Brennan Daniels has only the memories of her best friend, Reagan, to keep her company as she starts college.

Reagan is the reason for everything Brennan does—before she died, she made Brennan promise to stay good until she found a man worth keeping. No boys, no dating, and definitely no falling in love — those were the rules for college, and Brennan carved them into the brick walls guarding her heart…

But there’s a fire burning behind those walls, and when Brennan meets Owen Scott, the (mysterious) new guy across the hall, she can’t deny the pull between them. He is everything she should never want. Everyone warns her to stay away — even Owen himself — but the heart wants what the heart wants, even if it knows that it’s going to get hurt — even if it means throwing old promises to new flames…


I had such high hopes for this book, I really did, but it felt flat… 😦 .The concept is really good and this is something that I really liked, the fact that our main character is dealing – though not very well – with the death of a person that meant more to her than anything else. I really appreciated how the book doesn’t gloss over the hard stuff, and reading about Brennan’s panic attacks and hesitations broke my heart.

The writing was ok, but this book ran too long. In all honesty it needed a good trim, because it was way too repetitive. Other thing that bothered me a bit was the typos, the missing words and the wrong verbal tenses in some places. It’s something that I can overlook in ARCs quite often, if the writing is pulling me enough into the book, but that just wasn’t the case here :(.

Another negative for me ended up being some of the characters. Actually, I didn’t love either one of them, except for maybe Brenn’s brothers. Brennan herself was an OK MC, but she got under my skin. I understood her mood swings, given that it was part of her inability to deal with her trauma, but I couldn’t relate to her. Also, her clinging to that promise annoyed me to no end, maybe because I felt that the promise itself was a bit of nonsense.

Surprisingly I kind of liked Owen, though he was a bit hot and cold too. I did understand his reticence at first, and I loved reading about his fears of giving in to the relationship, what I didn’t quite get was his actions towards the end of the book… moving on…

I just want to say something, because I’m kind of sick of reading this in books. Why is it that guys who are casual about sex are viewed as douchebags in books? I don’t get it! What is so wrong with that behaviour, if they’re not hurting anyone in the process or making false promises? 

I need to talk about Amelia (Brenn’s roommate), because seriously, what even?! I liked her at the beginning, but then, oh boy, no no no. First she – pardon my french – cockblocks Brenn and Owen like 100 times! WTF girl?! WHY? Then, after giving Brenn grief for not opening up, she decides to lie to her friend for THE WHOLE TIME THEY KNOW EACH OTHER! And why, you may ask? Well, that’s a good question, because I reached the freaking end of the book and I still don’t have any idea as to why. Worse! Everyone else knew! This is also true about Owen’s past, everyone surrounding Brenn knows all about his past, except for her. And I mean EVERYONE, including at least one of her brothers. I mean, come on people… really?

The romance itself was part of the redeeming qualities of the book, when Brennan was not freaking out over not keeping her promise to her dead BFF, she and Owen were happy and beyond cute together. Also, he said the most romantic stuff… I enjoyed those parts.

One thing that really put a damp on my enjoyment of this book was how judgmental Brennan came of at the beginning of this book. Slut shaming is never ok. And not only does she do it, but she also says not very nice things about people who decide to engage in threesomes. I mean, it’s a personal thing, but calling the girls who are into it “sluts” and saying that the guy who does it clearly has no respect for women… I mean… why? What? Why?

I’m rambling now. Ultimately I think this book needed seriously editing. It’s way to extensive and the pace is way too slow at times. The characters show some growth, but that doesn’t make them that more appealing. Some situations are quite bad, and I felt that most didn’t have a proper resolution.

The Total Package (Stephanie Evanovich)

thetotalpackage

Star quarterback, first-round draft-pick, and heartthrob Tyson Palmer has made a name for himself with his spectacular moves. When the head coach of the Austin Mavericks refuses to let him waste his million-dollar arm, Tyson makes a Hail Mary pass at redemption and succeeds with everyone . . . except Dani, whose negative comments about his performance draw high ratings and spectacular notices of her own.

Dani can’t forgive Tyson’s transgressions or forget the sizzling history the two of them shared in college, a passionate love Tyson casually threw away. And even more infuriating, he doesn’t realize that the bombshell with huge ratings is the cute girl whose heart he once broke. 

But can a woman trying to claw her way to the top and a quarterback who knows all about rock bottom make it to the Super Bowl without destroying each other? And what will happen when Tyson—riding high now that he’s revived his career—realizes he needs to make an even more important comeback with Dani? Can he make some spectacular moves to get past her defenses—or will she sideline him for good?


I usually love sports romances, but I have to admit that this one just wasn’t for me.

First of all I had some problems with the writing. This book is written in omniscient third person and while it was fun to read for some chapters, it became confusing and not very enticing later on.

In the first chapter we see Tyson and Dani hookup, after she had tutored him a few years back. Tyson was a terrible point of his life, an addict, about to lose his job and with a lot of scandals surrounding him. Somehow, Dani believes she can fix him, so she decides to sleep with him, in hopes that from just that, he’ll turn his life around. Obviously things don’t turn out that way, at all.

The book then follows Tyson road to sobriety, which was quite interesting to read, but utterly slow and it provided nothing to the romance development. We spend the first third of the book learning how deep Tyson has fallen and how he has risen… rehab, training, eating, making friends… it’s a kind of boring exposition his day to day life for a few months. Then he get’s back to the team and the book jumps ahead 4 years. I was ok with the time jump, but all that came before should have been shortened.

When the time jumps, we finally get another look at Dani. Well, let’s just say that her hookup over 4 years before had consequences, and while building her reporting career – which she does because she somehow wants to get near Tyson, she got mad at him because Tyson didn’t recognized her and accidentally uttered some words of animosity towards him. When they end up working on the same place, it’s clear that she’s still has feelings for the guy, and they end up becoming close in the process…

As I said, I had a lot of problems with this one. Apart from the writing style, which irked me at times, the dialog, especially between Dani and Tyson, was cringeworthy. I mean, who says “I could love you” after not seeing someone for years?

Then there’s the characters… while I appreciated Tyson, I couldn’t bring myself to like Dani. This is a girl who at 19 decided she was in love with a guy, which is ok, but almost 10 years later, and without that much contact, she was still very much in love with him. Then she did something that is on my “shit” list, and while I understood it at first, I couldn’t stand it after they got closer again.

Ultimately the pacing was off, the writing style was not my favorite and the main couple lacked something… and said the most weird things to each other… I didn’t love it, but it’s not that it’s bad, you know? Just OK…

Always For You (Tawdra Kandle)

AlwaysForYou

Maureen Evans has had a crush on Smith Harrington since they were in college together. She always knew he didn’t see her as anything more than his best friend—just one of the guys—but that didn’t stop her from weaving sexy fantasies about him.

Now, after years of maintaining a long-distance friendship, Smith’s moving to Burton, Georgia, Maureen’s hometown, to become her partner at the veterinary clinic. After all this time, she should be able to handle working with him without getting hot and bothered.

Or maybe not.

The more determined Maureen is to maintain their just-friends bond, the more Smith seems intent on testing those boundaries. And when flirting crosses the line into something more, it ends in a night neither of them can forget.

When friendship is no longer enough, there’s always love.


A couple of months ago, I reviewed another book by Tawdra Kandle, The Last One, to which I gave 3 stars. The Last One was the first book of the The One Trilogy, what I didn’t realize was that this book right here, Always For You, the first one of the Always Love Trilogy, was intimately connected to that other series. So when Meghan – the main character from The Last One – appeared, it gave me all sort of feelings. Even if The Last One was not my favorite read, I did get attached to the characters, and I just loved getting to see them all again, and see how their lives were going. It also made me want to read all the other books in the series soon, because I’m so curious about all the couples.

This time I actually enjoyed the writing, it flowed well and simply, enough that I read the book in one sitting.

I wasn’t overly impressed with the 2 main characters. I do love a story of best friends in love, I’m a sucker for them actually, but Maureen and Smith were frustrating at times, mainly Maureen. Even when it was clear to all the freaking town how Smith felt about her, she was still doubting it so much because she felt that no one could love her… I mean… NO!!! Girl, the guy was practically throwing himself at you by this point in the story… oh well.

The romance is a a burn so slow, too slow, but it’s kind of nice too. Because they are friends, and because Smith ends up making friends with all the gang from the previous books too, and they have a huge weight on the story. And because Smith spends the whole book trying to prove how much he loves Maureen… it’s sweet. I even shed a tear or two (but to be fair, it was not because of them… damn you Meghan and Sam…).

All in all, it was a fun and sweet read, for a night I just needed something quick and with a happy ending :).