Miranda Kenneally’s A Woman On A Mission

Backstory:

While introducing her new book Miranda explains that during her early twenties she was working 15 hour days, with no opportunity to go to the gym or do drinks after work… And she doesn’t want her readers to make the same mistakes, especially whilst still in high school.

The main character in Defending Taylor, is so worried about ‘earning her way’ and getting into the right college, that she does every extracurricular she can and takes AP class, after AP class. And when this becomes too much for her she abuses prescribed medications to stay awake – putting herself and her future at risk. 

The story opens as Taylor’s world comes crashing down, when she’s caught with drugs on school property and expelled. At the same time Taylor breaks up with her boyfriend Ben, but she can’t tell her friends why. She won’t share that secret. To top it all off, Taylor’s senator father is not happy; he’s up for re-election and now her actions have effected his campaign. To force her to buck up, he sends her to the local state school, Hundred Oaks, where the soccer team sucks and the girls are mean, mean and meaner. The only bright spot in Taylor’s days is Ezra, her brother’s best friend, who for reasons unknown is home from college. 

My Thoughts:

This series just works for me. I usually beatle through these books in a day and this book was no exception. I read late into the night in order to finish it. It’s a compulsive read. And of course, our favourite guidance councillor makes a couple fun appearances! As do a few other familiar couples… 

The soccer elements weren’t as prominent in this novel as I expected them to be (do not anticipate another Catching Jordan style read) and the terminology/mechanics of the game were definitely dumbed down. I’d be interested to know if this last part was the author’s choice or an editor’s…

The romance was ramped up in Defending Taylor. I would not give this book to a younger teen! It borders on being a New Adult book, rather than YA. #sexytimes

Fortunately Erza was pretty crushable – I’d like a yummy construction worker boyfriend too please Miranda! And he was patient with Taylor, which I appreciated. So often romance authors write bolshy, pushy male characters who dominate the story… But Ezra’s the kind of guy you and I would actually want to get to know. #real #READit!


Sourcebooks Fire will be publishing Defending Taylor on July 5th 2016.

What did you prioritise in high school – fun or grades? And do you regret your choice?

Book Review: Summer Skin by Kirsty Eagar

img_5207-1

Jess Gordon is out for revenge. Last year the jocks from Knights College tried to shame her best friend. This year she and a hand-picked college girl gang are going to get even. The lesson: don’t mess with Unity girls. The target: Blondie, a typical Knights stud, arrogant, cold . . . and smart enough to keep up with Jess.

A neo-riot grrl with a penchant for fanning the flames meets a rugby-playing sexist pig – sworn enemies or two people who happen to find each other when they’re at their most vulnerable? It’s all Girl meets Boy, Girl steals from Boy, seduces Boy, ties Boy to a chair and burns Boy’s stuff. Just your typical love story.

Summer Skin’s the first book I’ve purchased by Aussie author Kirsty Eagar and I read it in no time at all! You can expect a really refreshing, super-funny New Adult romance, which also explores the pains of growing up in a hip, new, media-friendly age.

Jess is a firecracker on the page and a great main character. I loved how loud she was. Some characters creep across the page and can be just a little bit boring – but not Jess! The secondary characters were also really well developed; proving that people and relationships (friendships or LTRs) can certainly be a lot more complicated than you’d ever expect them to be!

Mitch is a flawed love interest, but that’s the thing about this book. The romance isn’t ‘novel perfect’ (despite its superb pacing) and there’s heaping, steamy spoonfuls of reality mixed in. Jess makes mistakes and Mitch has moments where he buries his head in the proverbial sand, or is a big fat grump. But this just makes the novel more honest, more real.

#shipshipship! #21stcentury #girlpower #wowbook

Book Review: Foreplay by Sophie Jordan

Foreplay

Synopsis:

Pepper has been hopelessly in love with her best friend’s brother, Hunter, since she was twelve. She thinks he’s the key to everything she’s always craved: security, stability and family. But Hunter’s never seen her as anything more than a ‘sister’, so she decides she needs an education in seduction and her roommates have the perfect teacher in mind… But bartender Reece is nothing like the player Pepper expects as her teacher.

Review:

4/5 Stars – A quick and compulsive read.

This storyline sounds all sorts of clichéd but the truth is a little left of centre and very enjoyable! At no point during this novel did I think ‘that’s just like a scene from…’ which surprised me immensely.

Pepper thinks she knows what she wants (Hunter) and at times this makes her seem rather hard headed, but I forgave her by the final page. We never get Reece’s p.o.v. which is sort of unusual these days in NA; we only just saw enough of him, although I liked what I saw. He’s hard working, tough, caring, and observant – probably more observant than most of the men I’ve met in real life! Which of course was very sexy…

I loved Pepper’s roommates, they were a riot and had attitude (they weren’t just wallpaper), so I am very happy that Ms Jordan is currently penning companion novels for both of them. This story wasn’t just about romance, it was also about Pepper herself; she had to face reality and let go of her ‘safe’ dream in order to realise an even better one, a major turning point for her character. So expect similar depth in the upcoming additions to this series…

If you’re looking for fun NA Romance that doesn’t involve cage fighting – that’s just a bit original – then this deserves to be on your shortlist.

Book Review: Bully by Penelope Douglas

Bully

Synopsis:

Three years ago Tate’s neighbor and best friend Jared stopped talking to her, visiting, or smiling. He started bullying her instead, turning her into a high school pariah. And yet she still misses him. When Tate returns home from a year studying abroad to find that nothing’s changed (Jared still hates her and she still has no idea why) she’s decides it’s time to stand up for herself.

Review:

5/5 Stars – finished at 2:30AM on a work day.

This book is compulsive reading; I liked the main character and Jared was an interesting hero! Which of course led to lots of feels… This novel has a little bit of everything: romance, despair, loss, funny moments, drag racing, tree climbing, high school teachers and characters you’ll recognized from your own youth. It’s all thrown in, mixed about and spat out in book form. Delicious!

Is it perfectly plotted? Nearly. I’m not sure I really understood Jared’s motivations clearly enough – although I plan to remedy this immediately by reading Until You – or that he apologized enough. However, the car scene (you’ll know the one) and his reply of ‘it’ll just give me an excuse to do some upgrades’ won him a lot of love from me.

Read it! Read it! 

The best news: there will be companion novels. I can’t wait to read Madoc’s story in 2014!

Book Review: Forever Too Far by Abbi Glines

image

This is the final book in the Fallen Too Far trilogy.

I assumed that we’d see more resolution in this third book – e.g. Blaire’s relationship with Nan and Rush’s mum improving – and that Abbi would be focused on on wrapping up any loose ends. Instead she uses this novel to set up her next spin off series (with Grant), while dragging Woods and his 2 spin off books into the novel whenever possible.

What really bothered me though was that Rush promised Blaire she’d always come first (AGAIN), Rush then messed up (AGAIN) and Blaire then ran off (AGAIN), then she forgave him (AGAIN). And Nan was a raging bitch with no redeeming qualities (AGAIN).

The big difference between this book and the first two? There was a wedding. Also Rush was sickeningly sweet and romantic, totally tame. He now seems to have no existence outside of being Blaire’s man, he doesn’t even have a job. (And he had 80% of the narration.)

Why I can forgive AG for all of this: It’s Rush and Blair, come on, how am I not gonna to enjoy this book? There’s baby drama, love drama and family drama: it’s loaded with page turner moments. And it’s a sexy read!

Book Review: Frigid by J Lynn

frigid

For twenty-one-year-old Sydney, being in love with Kyler isn’t anything new. They’d been best friends ever since he pushed her down on the playground and she made him eat a mud pie. Somewhere over the years, she fell for him and fell hard. The big problem with that? Kyler puts the ‘man’ in man-whore and Syd doesn’t want to risk their friendship by declaring her love.

But when they’re stranded together at a posh ski resort due to a massive Nor’easter, there’s nothing stopping their red-hot feelings for each other from coming to the surface. Can their friendship survive the attraction? Better yet, can they survive at all? Because as the snow falls, someone is stalking them, and this ski trip may be a life-changer in more ways than one.

I was really looking forward to this one – J Lynn’s Wait For You set my New Adult romance expectations pretty darn high, so I pre-ordered this.  Frigid met some of my expectations but not all of them.

Okay, so this was quite a hot read – Kyler did not disappoint – but while I liked the dual P.O.V. and found myself flipping through the pages quickly – hooked by both the romance and the thriller elements of this read – the story line did not feel as original as ‘Wait For You’.

In fact some aspects of this book seemed to have been ‘borrowed’ directly from previously successful NA romances:  Supposedly Kyler’s never done it missionary style but the reason for this isn’t substantial enough to feel real;  and part of the way through the book he admits to Syd that before they got together “that’s all I was really about, was screwing, you know?”  Attractive Kyler, really attractive.

I would have liked to have heard more about their friendship before the romance, maybe in flashbacks, but otherwise this was a fairly solid read.  Some of the secondary characters could have been more fully developed, although this might have slowed the pace of the novel slightly.

My Rating: ☼☼☼

Book Review: Mephisto Mark by Trinity Faegen

18046744
I think I’m in shock. I feel like Trinity Faegen just mugged me or something. Anyone who’s read the last two instalments of the Mephisto Covenant can break this series down real easy for you: HOT guys + sexy banter, fight scenes, Christian based mythology, soulmates. Simple, appealing, satisfying. Now imagine that recipe when you add ingredients like ‘horror show’, ‘crying like your dog just died’ and ‘abject misery’ – all things I just lived through when reading this book. Trinity Faegen just took my goddamned heart out and stamped on it. Repeatedly. I have yet to decide whether this was a good experience or not. I mean we still got a happy ending, the good stuff was still there, I just had A LOT MORE FEELS.

Yeah. I guess I need to explain. To put it plainly the author is donating a portion of the profit from this book to RAINN – the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network – which is appropriate. Poor Mariah, I knew she’d be a bit different from the previous heroines, there were hints, but… This, more than the bedroom scenes I think (extensive though they were), is why the series has recently been re classed as ‘New Adult’ on Netgalley but frankly I don’t think that even covers it. I may have nightmares. However, you’ll note I did finish this book. I couldn’t stop reading. At the beginning that was definitely because of Phoenix (yep, hormonal tension was present) and I wanted to see something nice happen for Mariah, towards the end of the novel it was the ‘car crash in adjacent lane, must look’ experience. Yeah, and then came the shell shock. This is one romance which is NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART.

I don’t want to give too much of the story away, but it occurs during the same timeline as the events of The Mephisto Kiss (Book 2) so most of the major plot points you’ll already be familiar with and the action came fast and thick and totally hooked me. I also liked the dynamic which developed between Mariah and Phoenix – Trinity Faegen has a talent for writing couples who just work. It was great to see a different side to a few of the other brothers as well, which in particular has made me really excited about the next book (no spoilers, promise!) and Eryx’s character is as bad ass and hateful as ever.

Okay, so: NOT for younger teenagers; consider the subject matter before you delve in; just as addictive as the past few novels but will leave you feeling (emotionally) like you’ve just gone a few rounds in a professional boxer’s cage sans gloves. I’m glad I’ve read it because now I can read the next instalment knowing everything that happened in this one, but when I reread it I’m skipping certain chapters. 😦

Side note: The cover appears to have rather sinister undertones now I’ve read the novel, which is unfortunate as I used to love this series’ artwork.

My Rating: ☼☼☼☼

Release Date: September 24th

Mini Book Review: The Virginity Mission by Cate Ellink

image

It’s lust at first sight when Mac sees Jason shirtless and sweating on the back of a truck. Jason is the army sergeant assigned to support the six‐week scientific expedition that Mac is participating in, and might just be the perfect candidate for another journey of discovery that Mac is desperate to undertake — sex.

Fraternisation between students and staff might be strictly prohibited, but everybody knows fruit always tastes better when it’s forbidden.

Okay, so this short story was never intended to win The Booker but it was just what I fancied reading yesterday morning. What I liked best:

– How the expedition forced Mac to realise that she’s allowed her personality to limit her…

How have I become an ‘okay-achiever’ with no confidence?

– And how her relationship with Jason made her more comfortable with her body shape.

– That the story was sexy, but not just an excuse for those scenes. 🙂

My Rating: ☼☼☼☼

Book Review: Left Drowning by Jessica Parks

image

Goodreads Synopsis:

Weighted down by the loss of her parents, Blythe McGuire struggles to keep her head above water as she trudges through her last year at Matthews College. Then a chance meeting sends Blythe crashing into something she doesn’t expect – an undeniable attraction to a dark-haired senior named Chris Shepherd, whose past may be even more complicated than her own. As their relationship deepens, Chris pulls Blythe out of the stupor she’s been in since the night a fire took half her family. She begins to heal, and even, haltingly, to love this guy who helps her find new paths to pleasure and self-discovery. But as Blythe moves into calmer waters, she realizes Chris is the one still strangled by his family’s traumatic history. As dark currents threaten to pull him under, Blythe may be the only person who can keep him from drowning.

Publishing July 16th 2013.

My Thoughts (ARC Review):

This is a super sexy, funny and touching read – but you wouldn’t know it from the first 100 pages… You have to persevere with this one to get to the good stuff.

The beginning lacks tension and is quite wordy as Blair wanders from one random event to another. The heating up of Blair and Chris’ relationship and the resulting angst finally locks suspense into the story. I didn’t feel that there was enough of a build up to the physical intimacy though and later on ‘love’ just sort of clicked into place, mostly thanks to the steamy happenings. (A certain TV scene may have been bookmarked by myself…)

Initially Blair’s character is vulnerable and afloat, then she latches onto Chris and uses him to pull herself back into the world:

“Some people believe in God; I believe in Chris.” – Blair

Early on I found myself shaking my head incredulously at some of the things she just blurted out to him, like ‘my parents died in a fire’. However, Jessica Park works very hard throughout the book to sell the idea that these two people were meant to help one another – MTB. This means there are a lot of ‘coincidences’ and ‘star-crossed’ moments in their pasts which stretch the concept of probability pretty far. I did like how Blair took more and more control of her life as the story progressed.

“When my suitcase is packed, I stop by Chris’s room to give him his present. I’m giving him something that’s actually wrapped in snowflake paper, even though I certainly felt the temptation to announce instead that I was gracing him with the honour of deflowering me for Christmas (Happy holidays!), but it didn’t seem like a good idea. We have a good thing going right now.” – Blair

This is clearly a romance book – other parts of Blair’s life are soundly ignored e.g. we don’t really experience her university life at all. We do get some touching scenes with her brother and her mum’s former best friend though, as she starts to heal old wounds. The secondary characters (mostly consisting of Chris’ siblings) all have troubled pasts. Estelle, Chris’ sister, is hilarious, I loved her character – she’s religious, foul mouthed, sexually liberal, outrageous and kind – and her account of the ‘Michael Buble incident’ had me in stitches!

So after a slow start this turned out to be a novel about healing, forgiveness, redemption, finding ‘the one’ and finding yourself – with a sprinkling of humour, family and a large spoonful of sex. Yep, I just wrote that!

My Rating:
image

Book Review: Gabriel’s Inferno by Sylvain Reynard

Goodreads Synopsis:

Enigmatic and sexy, Professor Gabriel Emerson is a well respected Dante specialist by day, but by night he devotes himself to an uninhibited life of pleasure. He is secretly tortured by his dark past and consumed by the profound belief that he is beyond all hope of redemption. When the sweet and innocent Julia Mitchell enrolls as his graduate student, his attraction and mysterious connection to her not only jeopardizes his career, but sends him on a journey in which his past and his present collide.

10140661

I quite enjoyed this. I would read more books by Sylvain Reynard in future, he’s officially made it onto the short list of ‘male authors whose books I like’.

Pros:
~ Addictive, utterly addictive. Read this on my kindle and was astounded to realise it was actually 545 pages long!
~ Umm that perfect ending. Yeah. Perfect. I’m not sure that EVER happens in real life, but I’d like to think it does. 🙂
~ Sexy.

“You don’t have to take your clothes off in order to capture my attention. You have it. Completely. You don’t have to have sex with me in order for me to make you feel wanted.” – Page 458

Cons:
~ The elevator scene which initiated a 180 degree turn in Gabriel’s behavior towards Julia gave me whiplash – as a reader I was thinking ‘she’s still the same nice girl you’ve been rejecting, she’s still your student – how does this particular revelation suddenly convince you to risk everything Gabriel?’
~ All the intellectual Dante et al references. I may have skim read, especially the verses in Italian!!
~ Stranger than fiction ‘dark’ back stories to give the characters depth.

Rating: ☼☼☼☼