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Review : Crash Into You

Crash into You - Katie McGarry

I know. Everyone has been waiting for this book with Isaiah’s story, me included. There was a lot of hype around this book from the bloggers, flinging out 5’s like candy.  Of course this just made me want to be even more critical. This has been a challenging review to write.  I had to re-read before I could even begin to put my thoughts together.

 

This series has always been about family to me, with Katie McGarry pairing the family of foster kids with the seemingly have-it-all ‘normal’ families that underneath are incredibly dysfunctional in some very serious ways. It’s always been somehow easy and natural for these young adults to pair up, in spite of their socio-economic differences.

 

In Crash Into You, Isaiah meets Rachel, a car-loving, slightly rebellious and very naive seventeen-year old with secrets of her own.  Her family is fairly messed up too, with a mother that’s still grieving for a lost child, a father who will do anything to appease the mother, and brothers that are frankly just awful to Rachel under the guise of protecting her. Oh, and she has a health problem she’s hiding from everyone, although her twin brother is catching onto her.

 

Rachel and Isaiah get into a bit of trouble with the local gangster, Eric, and their initial attraction turns into a real relationship as they navigate the dangerous situation they find themselves in.  There were some really sweet moments between these two, including their first kiss and a scene at Lover’s Leap that epitomizes what young, first love is all about.

 

Much of the hype surrounding this book came from wanting to know more about Isaiah and we do get his story.  Even though the scenes with his mom are emotionally charged, the brief scenes where he finally opens up to his case worker are a window into his fears, and these packed a powerful punch for me. These were the moments that I look for in this series, and I wasn’t disappointed.

 

I was disappointed that Isaiah’s partying seemed to have been a big fabrication, and that seemed odd since a lot was made of his smoking in previous books.  It seemed a little too convenient to write away his drug use in that way. It sounds odd to say that this bothered me, but it did. Another disappointment was Rachel never taking on her brothers for what they did to her.  She left them off the hook much too easy.

 

But in spite of these little things that itched me, this was still a good read for me, and a perfect wrap-up of the three main characters from this series.  

 

I absolutely loved the scenes where the gang  was all together, and Beth Risk remains my all time forever favorite character in this series. I loved the scenes between her and Isaiah as they resolve the tensions in their relationship. The scenes where everyone was together, even though the circumstances were less than ideal were some of the favorite parts of the book for me. I love how this ‘family’ of teenagers come together to help each other.  Makes me feel hopeful for the future.

 

Honorable mentions go to Logan and Abby for providing great supporting characters.

 

Crash Into You did a nice job of telling Isaiah’s story in the same style as the previous two books in the series and with the same emotional impact.  Recommended.

Review: With or Without Him by Barbara Elsborg

With or Without Him - Barbara Elsborg

There's a lot I liked about this story. I've always felt that Barbara Elsborg does a very good job with M/M relationships in her books. They feel very authentic to me, so when I saw this release,I wanted to give it a read. Very hot cover, too.

In this story, Tyler is a college student paying off his loans by selling his body to other men at Saturday night "parties" set up by a man named Prescott. Tyler doesn't really like what he's doing, but he likes the money. When Tyler encourages the new boy, Jeremy, to stay away and not live this lifestyle, he buys himself a heap of trouble from Prescott, who then retaliates with demands that mess with Tyler's college music recital and his life in general.

Haris is a wealthy man who happens to be at the recital and overhears what's going on. He's intrigued and on a hunch, he follows Tyler. Good thing he does, because Tyler is in some trouble. When Haris saves him, so begins their relationship.

Haris makes a deal with Tyler to live with him, but he also has problems of his own that impact how he reacts in his life. His secrets aren't revealed until the end of the story, so its tempting to judge him as just a rich and selfish man who only knows how to buy his way into and out of relationships.

But the reader does get some of the innermost thoughts of both men. I thought this was a great way to show how these men felt about each other, but they end up acting in a different way. I liked having that glimpse into their fears and desires and watching how each interaction brought them closer to sharing what was really in their hearts. It did take a long time for that to happen, but it seemed very believable considering what these characters have been through.Some of my favorite scenes were those that had Tyler trying to break Haris from his tight shell of control.

There's a nice little mystery plot threaded through this that I really enjoyed. I appreciated the twists and turns in the story and that there were multiple villains to choose from. Kept me guessing all the way until the end.

This is a very rich story, with many twists and turns and interesting reveals of the background of both of these men. Honestly, Tyler and Haris's backstory broke my heart and I was rooting for them to overcome their history so they could find happiness together.

I read this book in less than a day. The story held my interest in a way that I wanted to keep reading to find out what happens to Tyler and Haris. Even though a good part of the story was dark, I liked the complexity and diversity of it.

I think it's challenging to write sex scenes dealing with prostitution without sensationalizing sex-for-hire and Barbara Elsborg does a great job with this. I really liked the contrast between the prostitution sex and the love scenes between Tyler and Haris. That was very well done.

So great main characters, even though Haris was bit frustrating with his jumping to conclusions. I liked that his trying to use his money to buy everyone was a subject that was dealt with thanks to the fabulous and funny butler Wilson. I loved his contributions to the plot, his sense of humor and his common sense were a relief to the darkness of this story.

So overall, a good read for me. If you like M/M stories with realism, you might like this one.

5 stars to Breaking Nova by Jessica Sorensen

Breaking Nova - Jessica Sorensen

I loved this read. It has all the characteristics of a 5 star read for me: I stayed up all night reading it and it ended with me feeling that I can’t wait for the next book in this series.

This is not a story that will appeal to everyone. It deals realistically with some very difficult subjects: suicide, accidental death, hard-core drug use, and depression. If these topics are triggers for you, you may want to pass.

This is the story of Nova. She’s a mess, still grieving after losing her boyfriend and best friend. And there’s Quinton, dealing with same emotions under slightly different circumstances. There’s a lot of pain here. When they meet, neither one knows that they are fighting frighteningly similar demons. I couldn’t help but wonder what was going to happen when so much pain came together. How could these two damaged souls be good for each other?

But they are drawn to each other, and over the summer, their shared experiences may change the course of their lives. Yes, I’m being deliberately vague because this book is a journey and I wouldn’t want to spoil it for you.

There is a lot of drug use in this, but in my opinion it wasn’t glorified.I loved the gritty real feel of this book. It was a realistic depiction of how kids get involved with drugs, and what it takes to get away. I thought this aspect of the book was very well done without preaching about it.

The emotional content in this book is huge. If you like a story that takes you deep into the heart and mind of the characters and like a darker story, this may be for you. The emotions dripped from the pages, but yet I did not find this maudlin. I think that’s pretty darn good writing, because there is so much sad in this.

So for me, this book had a lot of what I look for in a read. It was fast paced, had some interesting multi-dimensional characters, had supporting characters that weren’t just placeholders, and it left me wanting more when I got to the end. I liked the dark realism of this read. Jessica Sorensen isn’t afraid to give the reader a heaping dose of it in this.

I also loved how Nova moves forward as the book comes to a close. It was a very hopeful ending.

I can’t wait to find out what happens to Quinton. Will he pull himself out abyss or will he fall? What will happen to Nova when she tries to help him? I will definitely be making a note of the release date for the next book in this series.

 

Thanks to Forever (Grand Central Publishing) and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this in exchange for an honest review.

Tell Me by Olivia Cunning

Tell Me (One Night with Sole Regret) - Olivia Cunning

Two very disappointed stars for this book. Maybe it was a case of mismatched expectation and reality. The first book in this series, Try Me, deals with these same two characters, Melanie and Gabe "Force" Banner. I was really looking forward to their "second date" but this book was just a train-wreck to me. I could understand Nikki's fascination with Jacob after the weekend she spent with him, and could even understand her wanting to accompany Melanie on her weekend with Gabe. But Melanie explicitly asks her not to come, which she ignores, then proceeds to get into situations that have potential for great harm not only to Nikki, but to her friends. That's not really friendship, is it?I liked that Melanie was concerned about her friend, but she was also an enabler. Nikki needs more help than Melanie can provide. I don't know, but the friendship between Mel and Nikki really bugged me. Nikki thought nothing of ruining the weekend of the one person who truly cares about her. And I just did not feel the spark between Gabe and Mel that burned so very bright in the first book. There was lots of talk in Try Me to get the reader pumped up for Mel's visit to Austin, and frankly it just sputtered out for me. I didn't feel the same connections between these two characters. The spark wasn't there. Their time out of bed fell flat for me, and even the erotic scenes were lacking. Where was the passion? Gabe seemed angry for a good portion of this story (not that I blame him after Nikke messes up the weekend.)I don't know if its the format or the content, but this book did not work for me, not in the way their first meeting in Try Me did at least.

Covet - Tracey Garvis-Graves I absolutely loved this book! I had a very tough time putting this down once I started it. Covet tells the story of Claire and Chris. They’re experiencing the first real, long term test of their marriage. Told primarily through Claire’s point of view, this story is a very well paced and engaging study of a marriage in trouble. I’m guessing that many married readers will relate to the scenarios here in one way or another. What I truly loved about this story is that the circumstances are presented in a very non-judgemental way. It wasn’t about temptation or cheating so much for me, but about the pain these three people are experiencing and the choices they make. The many emotions of the situation came through very clearly in the writing and I really loved how things flowed in this story. It was so easy to get caught up in it. I loved this very intimate inside view of marriage. I liked getting some of Daniel’s and Chris’s point of view as well. It balanced things out for me and was another way this story focused on emotions of the situation. The concept of the neighborhood and their troubles as secondary characters worked very well in this story too. I really couldn’t wait to get to the end of this book to see how it was all going to turn out, and what revelations Claire and Chris would take away from it. I was not disappointed.This is going on my favorites shelf. Recommended. Thanks to Netgalley and PENGUIN GROUP Dutton for the opportunity to review this in exchange for an honest review.
Everything For Us (The Bad Boys, #3) - M. Leighton I was really looking forward to this book to learn more about Nash. Well, I got that. Much of this book revolves around the very personal and intimate thoughts of Nash and Marissa. It's been a while since I read the first two books in this series, but this book seemed to have less action and more thinking from the main characters. Written in first person, with alternating POV's from Nash and Marissa, the reader gets up close and personal with both of them. I was surprised to end up liking Marissa. She makes a dramatic turnaround in her personality. There was a strength to her character that I really liked. And some of the best scenes in the book consisted of Marissa shedding her past persona for something better. I loved that she stood up to her father and became an accomplished, recognized attorney in her own right. I knew that I would like Nash, in spite of his crusty attitude and his focus on revenge. What I liked about his story was that he changed too, for the better. I wasn't thrilled with his behavior in New Orleans, although the rest of the smexy scenes between Marissa and Nash were fairly hot and spicy.I was disappointed with the pacing of this through the middle section and the lack of real action. To me, this was more a story of these two characters coming to terms with their own feelings, and not so much resolving the gangster-related story line, which takes a back seat to the relationship between Nash and Marissa.I also missed any real presence of Olivia and Cash. There were a few scenes, but it needed more action to involve these other characters. So overall, an okay read.
Decadence - Karen Stivali This is a fun, compact sized read perfect for when you are looking for something hot and sweet. Eric and Jessica are caught in the day-to-day grind of kids, jobs, household stuff. Eric comes up with an idea to rekindle the passion and spontaneity in their relationship with The Spice Rack. I loved that Eric was the initiator of all of it, and the Spice Rack was a nice way to give it a special twist.
Facade (Games, #2) - Nyrae Dawn I liked this. A lot. Facade hit the mark for me with a story about two young adults learning to deal with loss, only in this second book in the Games Series, the circumstances are not exactly typical. Both are working through an incredibly painful situation, and the reader gets very close to their agony in this book. I personally like the deep point of view that we get from Adrian in this book, although it is sometimes hard to take because his wounds are so very raw. When drugs,alcohol and all night parties no longer provide the release from his pain (more like avoidance, really) his struggle intensifies. Then he meets Delaney. At first he’s just looking for a one-night stand, but as their relationship progresses she starts to mean something to him. He also doesn’t know how Delaney is linked to him, setting up for a huge moment in the story.Delaney is dealing with loss too. Her family has fallen apart and all she has is her brother, Maddox, who tries to help her realize that she can’t fix the situation they are in. But Delaney doesn’t listen, and she falls for Adrian, knowing that it will probably mean heartbreak for her when he finds out the truth. I loved Delaney’s innocence and her belief that she could somehow make a difference. (ps. I wanted to smack her mother upside the head.) This is a very poignant story, full of heartbreak and sadness, so if you choose this be prepared. There’s a bit of repetition of their thoughts, but it didn’t bother me because it seemed natural for their circumstances. If you’ve ever experienced this level of grief, you know that it just doesn’t go away, and it come back to haunt them both, over and over. That might be cryptic, but I don’t want to spoil. I wasn’t expected the big reveal from Adrian near the end, and it made his situation all the more heartbreaking. It was good to see Cheyenne and Colt in this story as well, and I was thrilled to read that Maddox will be featured in the next story, because that boy has some issues he has to deal with as well. So it was a nice setup for the next book in this series. This was a beautiful story of how people can accept and move on from really bad things that happen to them and how you can learn to live with the consequences of the past. In the end, I thought Delaney did make a huge difference in Adrian’s life and she helped him move to a better place. The book ends on a very upbeat note, making this journey all the more sweet. If you like deep, emotional stories this might be for you. Thanks to Forever (Grand Central Publishing) and Netgalley for providing a review copy in exchange for an honest review.
Charade - Nyrae Dawn In spite of some editing issues (typos, bad grammar, missed words and an ending that went on too long), I did like Charade quite a bit. It held my interest. The situations that Cheyenne and Colton deal with are simple and ones that most young adults face at some point at that time in their life-- dealing with old relationships in the face of new ones, the death of a parent, dealing with more intense relationships and feelings, learning to take responsibility for your health. There weren't any big reveal moments or surprises with this. It was more about how these characters dealt with their situations. I loved Colton's awakening as he realizes his feelings toward Cheyenne, and vice versa. What starts off as a casual situation turns more serious and I thought the way it happened in the story rang true to me. There was definite heat between Colt and Cheyenne.The situation with Colton's mother was dealt with realism and sensitivity, and I appreciated that as well. So if you are looking for a NA romance that's more about the journey rather than didn't-see-that-coming moments and can overlook the editing errors, you might really like this. Looking forward to Facade, the second book in this series.
The Edge of Never (The Edge of Never, #1) - J.A. Redmerski Two young adults running from their problems meet up and find insta-love on a bus. I thought this story had promise with the opening scene, but I was a little disappointed to see that Camryn thought the answer to her problems was to get on a bus for some random destination. If you have ever traveled by bus across country, you know that's not a fun way to run. She meets Andrew who is on his way to his father's deathbed in Wyoming. It isn’t obvious at first that he too is running from something. I wanted to like this. But for me, the pacing was much too slow, especially when they are on the bus and later when they are traveling by car from Wyoming to Texas.. Too much minutiae for me that slowed the pace of the story. The shopping lists and vagisil took me out of the story. I did like both of these characters though and I did read to the end. The ending is very gut-wrenching and my heart hurt for both of them. But things seemed to be resolved rather quickly and I had trouble believing the ending because of that. I will say that I liked the ending, but it felt a bit contrived because of the short time span, and so much of the details occurred off-page. So for me, this was an okay read, not one of my favorites. Thanks to Hachette Book Group, GRAND CENTRAL PUBLISHING and Netgalley for the opportunity to read this in exchange for a honest review. This review also appears on my blog at: http://redhotbluereads.blogspot.com/2013/09/reviewthe-edge-of-never-by-ja-redmerski.html
Origin (Lux, #4) - Jennifer L. Armentrout Now that I can breathe again after another incredible closing scene, I've got to say this was an awesome read that I started and couldn't put down until I was at the end.The first half of the book is a bit sad and scary and I was glad that J. Armentrout didn't drag that part out, but there wasn't a lack of hope as Katy and Daemon learn more about the Daedelus project and the other aliens and their agendas. Even though Katy goes through some pretty nasty stuff, it is tempered by the fact that Daemon is with her. But the second half of the book more than makes up for the horrors of the first half with a roller coaster ride of action, action and more action and a very sweet and special interlude leading up to another unexpected final scene. I gotta say that Daemon had some incredible one liners in this one, too. There's a reason we love his snarky humor and its out in full force in Origin along with his swoony tender moments. Archer was a super secondary character and it was great to learn more about Luc. There's even an appearance by Hunter. It was also nice to get reacquainted with Dee, Dawson and Beth. Daemon and especially Katy have come a long way in this series, and I'm really looking forward to seeing how this all turns out in the final book, especially with how Origin ends.
Origin - Jennifer L. Armentrout

Now that I can breathe again after another incredible closing scene, I've got to say this was an awesome read that I started and couldn't put down until I was at the end.The first half of the book is a bit sad and scary and I was glad that J. Armentrout didn't drag that part out, but there wasn't a lack of hope as Katy and Daemon learn more about the Daedelus project and the other aliens and their agendas. Even though Katy goes through some pretty nasty stuff, it is tempered by the fact that Daemon is with her. But the second half of the book more than makes up for the horrors of the first half with a roller coaster ride of action, action and more action and a very sweet and special interlude leading up to another unexpected final scene. I gotta say that Daemon had some incredible one liners in this one, too. There's a reason we love his snarky humor and its out in full force in Origin along with his swoony tender moments. Archer was a super secondary character and it was great to learn more about Luc. There's even an appearance by Hunter. It was also nice to get reacquainted with Dee, Dawson and Beth. Daemon and especially Katy have come a long way in this series, and I'm really looking forward to seeing how this all turns out in the final book, especially with how Origin ends.

Ride With Me

Ride with Me - Ruthie Knox

A very sweet and entertaining falling in love story. Tom and Lexie couldn't be any more different. He's gruff and barely approachable while Lexie is friendly and open but somehow Lexie manages to break through his barriers. When Lexie realizes that she's going to end up in love and heartbroken, everything threatens to fall apart.This is a sexy, fun romance that won't take you long to finish. Perfect for when you want something light.

So Tough to Tame - Victoria Dahl This is one of those times that I wished goodreads allowed half stars in their rating, because this was really more of a 3.5 for me, but since I did enjoy it, I'm rounding up. I really liked this adult romance. It was simple, sweet and sexy. Charlie and Walker both have baggage, they’ve been around the block once or twice or more, and it’s not easy for either of them to totally give into the attraction between them. Charlie really knows what she wants in her life and in the bedroom, and even though she had some crappy stuff happen to her in the past, she keeps moving forward,and doesn’t let it stop her. I liked that about her. Walker is hot, sweet, and has troubles of his own that are making his life difficult, like family illness, loss of a job, and a learning disability. He doesn’t even have a HS diploma, but he manages. He’s not really looking for much out of life, until Charlie comes along. She won’t give up on him, even when he pushes her away, causing some conflict there. She sees what he’s good at and pushes him in that direction. There is some light mystery, no really huge conflicts, and the sex is hot and spicy. I loved Charlie and Walker together and was invested enough to hope they made it at the end. This is a perfect read when you want something that isn’t too heavy. Thanks to Netgalley and Harlequinn for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

The Redemption of Callie and Kayden (The Coincidence, #2)

The Redemption of Callie & Kayden - Jessica Sorensen Really probably a 3.5 I was very grateful to have been able to read this immediately after finishing the book one in this series, because after the cliffie that ending book one, I'd be sorta upset to have to wait too long to read book 2.Book two doesn't really offer much beyond everyone dealing with the aftermath of book one, and to say it doesn't go well is an understatement. As with book 1, I found myself thinking .. "where's the one adult that will help these young people".What happens to Kayden is just beyond belief, and it doesn't get any better in this book. I really felt his pain, and I give the author kudos for that, although it made for a very sad story. Even though there was light at the end, it was easy to see there was still a very long road to recovery here.Callie was just lovely, as she struggles through her own issues. I liked her tenacity, her deep commitment to her friends, and just how she handles a lot of the bad stuff that continues in this book. I liked her parents reaction to things once everything came out in the open. I could have used more Seth and Luke, they were great friends throughout this series. Especially Luke's situation which seemed just as bad as the rest, and the little reveal at the end regarding Luke's sister seemed like an awfully big bombshell to just get a few lines in the story. I'm rating this a 3.5 since there wasn't a heck of of a lot of new story in this book. Still a good read if you like lots of emo and don't mind some very dark and sometimes disturbing content.
The Coincidence of Callie and Kayden (The Coincidence, #1) - Jessica Sorensen Oh my, four lovely young people with scars, and no adult in their life to help them deal with things because the parents are screwed up too.This is a story about what happens when secrets are kept about serious matters, like physical abuse, sexual abuse, mental abuse and homophobia. Yeah, that sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? Lots of heaviness in this novel and the kind of hurts and sadness that last a lifetime. I was immediately sucked into this story. When Callie saves Kayden from yet another serious beating by his father, their brief meeting sets off what becomes a lovely friendship that develops into a serious first love. That was the beautiful part of this story, and when Callie and Kayden’s trust grows, and their most intimate secrets are revealed, things don’t go so well. There’s a real nice build up to the end of this book, and I found I didn’t want to put it down. There was so much potential for disaster at the end, it was impossible to even anticipate the emotionally charged and potentially devastating ending. I was glad to see that the story was going to be continued.I started reading this thinking that I’d seen these characters before in other YA/NA books, but by the end of the story, they really were very distinct Callie and Kayden. And very nice secondary characters too. Seth and Luke are just great, and they carry secrets of their own. I liked them both. So overall, a dark, emotional tale dealing with the impact of keeping family secrets. Good pacing, interesting characters, with a conclusion that left me wanting more. On to the next book in the series.