Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Through to You by Lauren Barnholdt

Title: Through to You
Author: Lauren Barnholdt
Release Date: July 8, 2014
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pages: 288
Source: Bought

Overall: 3.5 Stars

Summary:
Opposites attract—and then complicate—in this romantic, relatable novel from the author of Two-way Street and Sometimes It Happens.

It starts with a scribbled note in class: I like your sparkle. Harper had casually threaded a piece of blue and silver tinsel through her ponytail in honor of school spirit day. And that carefree, corny gesture is what grabs Penn Mattingly’s eye. Penn—resident heartbreaker of the senior class. Reliably unreliable. Trouble with a capital “T.” And okay, smolderingly sexy.

Harper’s surprised by Penn’s attention—and so is Penn. The last thing he needs is a girlfriend. Or even a friend-with-benefits. The note is not supposed to lead to anything.

Oh, but it does. They hang out. They have fun. They talk. They make out. And after a while, it seems like they just click. But Penn and Harper have very different ideas about what relationships look like, in no small part because of their very different family backgrounds. Of course they could talk about these differences—if Penn knew how to talk about feelings.

Harper and Penn understand their attraction is illogical, yet something keeps pulling them together. It’s like a crazy roller coaster—exhilarating, terrifying, and amazing all at once. And neither knows how to stop the ride… 
My Thoughts: 
After years of reading Lauren Barnholdt's novels, I'm always hit with a rush of familiarity when I turn the first few pages. It's rather like greeting an old friend, and Lauren Barnholdt's latest YA book is no exception. Through to You has all the classic traits of a Lauren Barnholdt novel: an over-dramatic heroine, a love interest who doesn't mind breaking the rules, and a high school setting that adds further complications, especially when the two protagonists come from different backgrounds.

When Penn Mattingly leaves a scribbled note on Harper's desk with a single sentence—I like your sparkle.— it sets in motion an unlikely relationship. Honestly, if the book had only been told from Harper's perspective, I wouldn't necessarily understand Penn's appeal because he didn't stand out as a particularly great boyfriend. Sure, Penn is attractive, a good kisser, and certainly has his charming moments, but he was also quick to shut out Harper when she tried to be more personally involved with him. He could really be a jerk at times and Harper didn't deserve it.

It was the alternating chapters revealing Penn's side of the story that convinced me to give him a second chance. While Harper seemed to have her life in order with a steady job at her mother's dance studio and a goal to someday become a professional choreographer, Penn's future was very uncertain and he took it on others to avoid the issue. A serious shoulder injury could ruin his plans to play baseball and he's tired of his family pretending everything is fine at home when it really isn't. 

Through to You will appeal to Lauren Barnholdt and YA contemporary romance fans alike. While the ending seemed a little rushed, the book is an addictive and fast-paced read, offering a few hours of entertainment on a summer afternoon. Harper and Penn's relationship may be bumpy at times, but you can't help rooting for them to be together in the end.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover

Title: Ugly Love
Author: Colleen Hoover
Release Date: August 5, 2014
Publisher: Atria Books
Pages: 336
Source: Bought

Overall: 4 Stars

Summary:
#1 New York Times bestselling author Colleen Hoover returns with a new heart-wrenching love story.

When Tate Collins meets airline pilot Miles Archer, she doesn't think it's love at first sight. They wouldn’t even go so far as to consider themselves friends. The only thing Tate and Miles have in common is an undeniable mutual attraction. Once their desires are out in the open, they realize they have the perfect set-up. He doesn’t want love, she doesn’t have time for love, so that just leaves the sex. Their arrangement could be surprisingly seamless, as long as Tate can stick to the only two rules Miles has for her.

Never ask about the past.
Don’t expect a future.

They think they can handle it, but realize almost immediately they can’t handle it at all.

Hearts get infiltrated.
Promises get broken.
Rules get shattered.
Love gets ugly. 

My Thoughts:  
Colleen Hoover's Ugly Love hits you with the emotional intensity of a wrecking ball. I don't think there was anything I could have done to mentally prepare myself for this novel and all the overwhelming feelings it left me. Colleen Hoover continues her streak of writing memorable romances that completely tear your heart apart before slowly piecing the parts back together again. 

What seemed like a simple sexual arrangement at first between Tate Collins and Miles Archer becomes very complicated all too soon. Miles warns Tate from the very beginning not to talk about the past and not to expect a future, but she can't help falling in love with Miles the more time she spends around him. Tate secretly hopes he will one day change his mind, especially in those rare moments when Miles lets his guard down, but her actions also leave her very vulnerable and give him the power to incredibly hurt her. 

The book alternates between the present, told from Tate's perspective, and the past, told from Miles's point of view. Normally, I don't mind this kind of narration, but these chapters are written in such different tones that it was sometimes difficult to put myself in the right frame of mind immediately. Tate's chapters are all-consuming and intense as she continues to fall for a man who is emotionally unavailable, but the Miles we get to know in the past is practically another man, one who was happier and optimistic. I absolutely dreaded learning what kind of life-changing, traumatic event could so alter and haunt a man.

The chemistry between Tate and Miles practically sparks right off the page, but there's also always an underlying tension that leaves you wary of being completely burned if you get too close. There were times when I was so focused on the story that I forgot to breathe. You'll be hard-pressed to find another New Adult contemporary romance like Colleen Hoover's Ugly Love

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Monster in His Eyes by J.M. Darhower

Title: Monster in His Eyes (Monster in His Eyes #1)
Author: J.M. Darhower
Release Date: April 27, 2014
Publisher: Self-Published
Pages: 350
Source: Bought

Overall: 5 Stars

Summary:
Ignazio Vitale is not a good man.

I suspect it, the first time I see him, sense the air of danger that surrounds the man. He has a way of commanding attention, of taking control, of knowing what I'm thinking before I even do.

It's alarming and alluring. It's dark and deadly. It's everything I've ever wanted but the last thing I truly need. Obsession.

It doesn't take him long to draw me into his web, charming me into his bed and trapping me in his life, a life I know nothing about until it's too late. He has secrets, secrets I can't fathom, secrets that make it so I can't walk away, no matter how much I beg him to let me go. I see it sometimes in his eyes, a darkness that's both terrifying and thrilling. He's a monster, wrapped up in a pretty package, and what I find when I unmask him changes everything.

I want to hate him.

Sometimes, I do.

But it doesn't stop me from loving him, too.
 

My Thoughts:  
I really don't know how to describe my love—or rather, obsession— for J.M. Darhower's Monster in His Eyes. It's probably unhealthy the amount of times I've already reread the novel again and again. If you love romantic contemporary novels with a dark edge and a touch of suspense, then Monster in His Eyes will be perfect for you.

A freshman at NYU just hoping to gain some independence from her overprotective mother, Karissa Reed's life is forever changed the moment she meets Ignazio Vitale. Naz is a wealthy, older, and very mysterious man... and underneath the sophisticated suits he wears everyday, there's a barely restrained incivility and raw power just ready to be unleashed. There's an inner darkness and possessiveness in Naz that should frighten Karissa, but she's helpless to escape his charismatic presence and can't help falling for him.

Monster in His Eyes is an addictive and sensual novel. As the secrecy surrounding Naz and his past steadily unravels, tension builds until the novel reaches a breaking point that will make it too late for anyone to turn back. J.M. Darhower drops enough bread crumbs to foreshadow future revelations, but it was still shocking to learn the truth!

If you're a NA or romance fan, J.M. Darhower's Monster in His Eyes is not to be missed. This book will captivate you from beginning to end and leave you wishing the sequel, Torture in Her Soul, was already in your hands. I'm absolutely eager to learn how Naz and Karissa's story will conclude. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Better When He's Bad by Jay Crownover

Title: Better When He's Bad (Welcome to the Point #1)
Author: Jay Crownover
Release Date: June 17, 2014
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Pages: 384
Source: Bought

Overall: 4 Stars

Summary:
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jay Crownover returns with a heart-stopping new series… Welcome to the Point.

There’s a difference between a bad boy and a boy who’s bad . . . meet Shane Baxter.

Sexy, dark, and dangerous, Bax isn’t just from the wrong side of the tracks, he is the wrong side of the tracks. A criminal, a thug, and a brawler, he’s the master of bad choices, until one such choice landed him in prison for five years. Now Bax is out and looking for answers, and he doesn’t care what he has to do or who he has to hurt to get them. But there’s a new player in the game, and she’s much too innocent, much too soft…and standing directly in his way.

Dovie Pryce knows all about living a hard life and the tough choices that come with it. She’s always tried to be good, tried to help others, and tried not to let the darkness pull her down. But the streets are fighting back, things have gone from bad to worse, and the only person who can help her is the scariest, sexiest, most complicated ex-con The Point has ever produced.

Bax terrifies her, awakening feelings she never thought she’d have for a guy like him. But it doesn’t take Dovie long to realize . . . some boys are just better when they’re bad. 

My Thoughts:  
Dovie Pryce may have had a rough childhood, but she hasn't let her past jade her. Dovie's a good girl, willing to work hard and keep her head down, and hopes to someday get a degree in social work to help kids who grew up in similar circumstances. She may come across as naive and innocent at first glance, but to her credit, Dovie knows just how tough and corrupt a place The Point truly is and she can definitely take care of herself.

There's nothing soft about Shane Baxter—he's a bad boy through and through. After five years spent in prison, Bax is free and hunting for answers about the night he was arrested. His best friend Race set him up to take the fall and now Bax will do anything it takes to find him. His search leads him to Dovie, Race's secret half-sister, but Race has recently gone off the grid and no one can find him. As Dovie helps him to find Race, Bax learns there was much more to Bax's arrest than he ever could have imagined...

I absolutely loved the chemistry between Dovie and Bax! It may not seem like it at first, but the pair are actually quite similar to each other. They both know what it's like to fight to survive when the odds are against them, but they never give up trying. Bax has a fearsome reputation in The Point, but Dovie gets right under his skin and exposes a side of him that is only seldom seen; he's very protective, warm and loyal to those he cares about.

Addictive and suspenseful, Better When He's Bad is a gritty introduction to Jay Crownover's new Welcome to the Point series. While I'm definitely a fan of Jay Crownover's Marked Men series, there's just something about the darker tone of Better When He's Bad that really appeals to me. There still aren't too many New Adult romantic suspense novels available yet, so I find the premise for the Welcome to the Point series to be rather refreshing. I cannot wait to read Race's story in Better When He's Bold!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Cover Reveal: Letting Go by Molly McAdams

I'm thrilled to be helping participate in the cover reveal for Molly McAdams's upcoming New Adult novel Letting Go

The book description alone for Letting Go has already left me reeling, so I'm rather nervous what actually reading the novel will put my heart through...

I'd love to hear your thoughts on the cover!

Release Date: November 4, 2014
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Add to Goodreads

Summary (from HarperCollins):
The New York Times and USA Today bestselling New Adult author returns with a sizzling novel of love, loss, guilt, and forgiveness.

Grey and Ben fell in love at thirteen and believed they’d be together forever. But three days before their wedding, the twenty-year-old groom-to-be suddenly died from an unknown heart condition, destroying his would-be-bride’s world. If it hadn’t been for their best friend, Jagger, Grey never would have made it through those last two years to graduation. He’s the only one who understands her pain, the only one who knows what it’s like to force yourself to keep moving when your dreams are shattered. Jagger swears he’ll always be there for her, but no one has ever been able to hold on to him. He’s not the kind of guy to settle down.

It’s true that no one has ever been able to keep Jagger—because he’s only ever belonged to Grey. While everyone else worries over Grey’s fragility, he’s the only one who sees her strength. Yet as much as he wants Grey, he knows her heart will always be with Ben. Still they can’t deny the heat that is growing between them—a passion that soon becomes too hot to handle. But admitting their feelings for each other means they’ve got to face the past. Is being together what Ben would have wanted . . . or a betrayal of his memory that will eventually destroy them both?

Molly McAdams's Video Cover Reveal:


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