April 28, 2014

Book Review: DEFY by Sara B. Larson

Book:  Defy
Author:  Sara B. Larson
Publisher:  Scholastic Press
Genre:  Children’s Fiction; YA Fiction

“I need you, Alex…..Alexa.”- Prince Damian
“Why?”- Alexa
“Because you understand.  More than anyone.  Because you know what it's like never to trust anyone….to be completely alone, lost in a disguise of your own making.  Because….because for quite some time I’ve……”- Prince Damian

Synopsis via NetGalley:

Alexa Hollen is a fighter. Forced to disguise herself as a boy and serve in the king's army, Alex uses her quick wit and fierce sword-fighting skills to earn a spot on the elite prince's guard. But when a powerful sorcerer sneaks into the palace in the dead of night, even Alex, who is virtually unbeatable, can't prevent him from abducting her, her fellow guard and friend Rylan, and Prince Damian, taking them through the treacherous wilds of the jungle and deep into enemy territory.

The longer Alex is held captive with both Rylan and the prince, the more she realizes that she is
not the only one who has been keeping dangerous secrets. And suddenly, after her own secret is revealed, Alex finds herself confronted with two men vying for her heart: the safe and steady Rylan, who has always cared for her, and the dark, intriguing Damian. With hidden foes lurking around every corner, is Alex strong enough to save herself and the kingdom she's sworn to protect?

My Summary:

Seeing her parents get killed changes Alexa forever.  This is the catalyst for her transition from Alexa to Alex, as she has to hide her true self and pretend to be a boy to survive

Author Sara B. Larson
With the help of her twin brother Marcel, and her natural skill in fighting, she ends up as one of Prince Damian’s personal guards. 

After an assassination attempt, Alex works closer to the Prince where she realizes her attraction to him.  When he is kidnapped, he forces his kidnappers to bring along Alex and her fellow guard and closest friend, Rylan.

She eventually finds out that both know who and what she truly is and that both care about her.  Alexa has to train hard for she is told that she is the only one who can defeat the black sorcerer who stands in the way of freedom and peace for the kingdom of Antion.  But a battle rages within her: can she trust Prince Damian despite his many secrets or should she entrust her heart to her true friend Rylan?

My Review:

I will not lie.  I had a hard time going through the first few chapters of this book.  It is dark, with the words rape and breeding house repeated every few pages it seems.  It was hard for me to digest mentally and emotionally the idea that young girls, children as young as 5 being herded into a breeding house like animals to produce children for the army of Antion.  Plus the repeats!  I cannot count how many times the words olive skin and Damian’s blue eyes were mentioned, to my chagrin.

That said…..

I still loved Defy.  The story has a good plot, full of political intrigue and a strong heroine, all that I look for in these kinds of books.  Plus the use of sorcery… lately we’ve been inundated with vampires, zombies and mermaids so having sorcery as a new factor is refreshing. 

Some parts of the story reminds me of (books) Twilight, Hunger Games and The False Prince but overall, it still comes out strong on its own 
I like the main characters.  Alexa is one hell of a fighter and it was nice to see that underneath all that bravado still beats the heart of a woman.  And that although her world falls apart repeatedly and all those she loves are killed, she still has the inner strength left to do what is expected; to fulfill her duty to the Prince and the kingdom.

I like both Rylan and Damian equally for their loyalty, bravery and open heart.  But Damian gets more sympathy from me because he is so much like Alex; he has lost so much, so many of those he loves and has a secret so big, he changes everything in the end.

What broke my heart were Marcel and Jude….They deserve more.  I truly felt the loss.  On the other hand I cried tears of joy when Damian gives Alex her due

Intrigued enough? Pick up this book with an open mind but expect to cringe at some points that you wish to never see happen in real life EVERLosing sleep to read DEFY was absolutely worth it.

Photos have been lifted from the author's site http://sarablarson.blogspot.com/ and goodreads.com

April 25, 2014

Book Review: SEARCHING FOR PERFECT (Searching For Book #2) by Jennifer Probst

Book:  Searching for Perfect (Searching For series #2)
Author: Jennifer Probst
Publisher:  Gallery Books
Genre:  Adult Contemporary Romance; Women’s Fiction

“Back off.  My job is to find you love and I intend to do it.”-Kennedy
“What if you already did?...what if I believe in the risk?  What if I think she’s worth it?”- Nate
“She’s not Nate.  And she never will be.  Not with you.”- Ken

Synopsis Via NetGalley:

The up-and-coming matchmaking agency Kinnections is the hottest thing to hit Verily, New York—just like Kennedy Ashe, social director for the service she owns with her two best girlfriends. A coach, consultant, and cheerleader rolled into one super-sizzling package, Kennedy creates dream dates, encourages singles to shine, and never refuses a challenge—not even her new client, Nate Ellison Raymond Dunkle, rocket scientist and nerd extraordinaire.

Kennedy vows to transform this hot mess in a lab coat with a disastrous relationship track record into the most wanted man on the Verily dating scene. If only she could turn the wand on herself. . . .

Though she radiates confidence and sex appeal, Kennedy harbors deep-seated insecurities from her tormented past. When she realizes she and Nate are cut from the same cloth and might be perfect together, can Kennedy learn to let her heart lead the way? Or will her fears sentence her to the sidelines as Nate finds love—with someone else?

My Summary:

Nate is a full blown nerd in need of major help from the experts to find true and lasting love.  As a rocket scientist, he can outsmart anyone with scientific facts.  But with everything else.....not so much.

Enter Kennedy Ashe of matchmaking agency Kinnections.  She
vows to give him an overhaul: from his clothes, down to his social skills, or lack thereof.

She proceeds to
change him physically, making him not just acceptable but actually gorgeous.  Who knew that underneath all those ketchup stains on lab coats, big dorky 80s glasses, ill fitting trousers and unibrow, he is a swan waiting to emerge!

But even before
that Big Change, Ken already feels different towards Nate... She feels, not just attraction, but a spark that scares her.  She has always believed that she isn’t meant for love, no matter who may want her, she can only do short relationships and nothing more.

Nate wants more.  He wants all of her and nothing less. From the very moment he laid eyes on her he knew Ken was THE ONE.
But what if she
believes in her heart that the best thing she can do for the man she loves is to turn around and walk away? 

My Review:

Nerds are underrated

I’ve always loved nerdy-turned-sexy plots, especially when it’s a man who has the CHANGE instead of the opposite sex.  So that alone made me pick this up and read through the night. But what kept me reading was the romance between Nate and Ken.  They’re so different yet so similar.  Both innately good people with bad pasts, the difference is, Nate willingly moves forward while Ken is at a standstill.

Probst wrote Kennedy in a way that she is relatable:  the tortures she went through, the hate and loss she still feels, her lack of confidence and fear of love, are all things I felt while reading this book.   Ken is a tortured character who just needed the right white knight

Nate is the perfect savior.  He is sweet, romantic, honest with just the right push to make Ken see what she needs to be forced to see.  Who knew that the nerdiest character I have ever come across would also be the sexiest of them all? The sex scenes are through-the-roof HOT without need for a red room or silver balls. Move over Christian Grey! Nate the nerd is the better man.

There’s also a cameo of some characters from the Marriage to a Billionaire series which I truly appreciate and expect more of in the next installment of this series. More to the point, I highly look forward to Wolfe stealing Gen from her fiance’…but that’s getting ahead of the next book.

I love, love, love Searching for Perfect.  If you’re looking for something to curl up with, I suggest you read this one….and afterwards take a really cold shower.  You’re gonna need it.
Talk nerdy to me!

All photos have been lifted from www.goodreads.com

April 23, 2014

Book Review: SEARCHING FOR SOMEDAY (Searching For Series #1) by Jennifer Probst

Book:  Searching For Someday (Searching For series #1)
Author: Jennifer Probst
Publisher:  Gallery Books
Genre:  Adult Contemporary Romance; Women’s Fiction

“I’ve got new for you.  I play by my own rules and by the end of this contract, I’ll rip down those neat little walls you built and show you what it's like to be in love.i’m gonna do it for two reasons.  One, I'm damn good at my job.”- Kate
“What’s the second?”- Slade
“Because payback is a bitch.”- Kate

Synopsis via NetGalley:

Kate has given up on love—at least for herself. She is both blessed and cursed with the ability to sense a romantic connection between two people—a gift that her family passed down for generations. When Kate launches her own matchmaking company, Kinnection, with her two best friends in a cozy New York town, she has to put aside her own romantic disasters to make her business a success.

But when a
furious man stalks into her office and accuses her business of being a scam, Kate is given the ultimate challenge to prove herself. Slade puts himself in her hands and asks Kate to find him love. Enraged at his arrogance but stubbornly eager to prove herself, Kate agrees, dedicating herself to the journey of finding him love...only to find herself falling for him along the way

My Summary:

Love isn't in the cards for Kate...or at least that's what she believes after all her failed relationships and loser dates with different men.  Which is actually ironic because she, along with two of her best friends, run a successful matchmaking company called Kinnections, boasting of several weddings and counting.

Slade doesn't believe in love.  More so after finding his sister almost lifeless after a bad breakup from an ass of a boyfriend.  It scarred him for life and made him vow to never fall in love and marry.

Which is exactly why, his sister signing up with Kinnections scares the bejesus out of him.  Thinking that the company is out to scam his sister and afraid of what this would do to her emotionally, Slade charges into Kinnections and ends up signing up himself with the goal of ultimately proving that Kinnections is a fraud.

What he never expected was the
strong pull he would feel for Kate.  While Kate, who has an unusual ability to feel soul matches between people by a simple touch, can't believe she would feel the strongest connection with her enemy, Slade.

Is it just temporary, albeit
crazy sexual chemistry? Is Slade out to destroy Kinnections and Kate herself? Or could it possibly be true love?

My Review:

Having read Jennifer Probst’s previous series Marriage to a Billionaire, I had very high expectations from this new one…and I was not disappointed.  

Probst has the ability to make readers laugh out loud and squirm in their seats from scenes that are so exciting, it’s hard to put the books down. Even with Kate’s supernatural ability, the story is grounded enough that believability is never a question.

Both main characters are funny but I mostly love Slade’s sense of humor.  He is funny, a foodie who calls Kate and distracts her with food descriptions even when she clearly doesn’t want to talk to him. But he also has a serious side, especially when it’s about his sister Jane of whom he is extremely protective

I like Kate’s solid friendship with Kennedy and Arilyn, it reminds me of Carrie and her friends from the show Sex and the City.  And much like the show, this book has sex…lots of it!

I appreciate that the characters I fell in love with in the Billionaire series are also here, especially Wolfe, who happens to be a close friend of Gen, Kate’s bestfriend.  It is nice to see the happily ever afters of Alexa, Nick, Michael and Maggie, at the same time knowing that it will happen to Kate and Slade as well.  For I love happy endings, and knowing that Probst never disappoints, is the best part.

All photos have been lifted from www.goodreads.com

April 18, 2014

Book Review: TAKEN WITH YOU by Shannon Stacey

Book:  Taken With You
Author:  Shannon Stacey
Publisher:  Carina Press
Genre:  Contemporary Adult Romance; Fiction

“I was right from the beginning.  You're definitely not the man for me.”- Hailey
“No I’m not.  You’ve been waiting for some fairy tale prince in a fancy suit to come waltzing into Whitford and take you dancing in glass slippers.  I'm no prince.”- Matt
“You're not Prince Charming that’s for damn sure.  Prince Asshole, maybe.”- Hailey

Synopsis Via NetGalley:

Hailey Genest has seen most of her friends marry and have babies, and she's happy for them, but it was a lot easier before she hit forty. She's spent her entire life in Whitford, Maine, and if she hasn't found her Prince Charming by now, she has to accept she's probably not going to. When a new friend suggests they go on an adventure and embrace being single, Hailey agrees.

Surviving in the woods is game warden Matt Barnett's idea of a relaxing vacation. But when he meets two women in need of help, he leads them back to safety—a task that proves more fun than expected, thanks to a certain hot blonde. He can't resist pushing her buttons, even though she's made it clear that the rugged, outdoorsy type just isn't for her.

Hailey is glad to see the back of her tempting-tour-guide-slash-pain-in-the-ass. When he shows up in her life again, she's determined to avoid him, no matter how good he looks in his uniform. But that's easier said than done in Whitford, especially when he's renting the house right next door….

My Summary:

Being rescued by a hermit backwoodsman wasn’t in Hailey’s celebrate-singlehood plan, but that’s exactly what she got after getting lost on a nature trail with her friend Tori.  Never mind that he’s got the body of a god, scruffy was, and never will be, her thing. 

Then she meets the town’s new game warden days later.  Attraction is inevitable until she finds out Matt is the same man who rescued her in the woods, he also happens to be her new next door neighbor.  Living next to each other proves too much for her self control and eventually, she gives in to their sexual attraction.

Diving into their not-quite-relationship isn’t without its kinks.  But knowing very well that they are not each other’s choice of Forever clears their eventual combustion from the very beginning.  That is until they find out they’ve fallen in love.  But can love really conquer even the worst of opposites?

My Review:

Hooray for Shannon Stacey.  Here’s another Kowalski story that has captured my heart.  Though neither of the main characters is a Kowalski by blood, Hailey is almost part of the clan and both her and Matt are surrounded by them in this story…. and what a romantic one it is.

As with all Shannon’s female characters, Hailey is tough outside but a softie on the inside.  I like that she doesn’t bend over backwards just to please her man but at the same time knows when to be supportive and pull back when he needs her to.  Matt on the other hand is just like a Kowalski, strong, honest and with a good heart especially for people he loves.

So what’s not to like?  The writing is smooth, the pace is good, the setting is familiar and therefore comfortable.  It’s like going back to my hometown and enjoying a quick stay.  It isn’t as funny as the other Kowalski stories since the entire clan is not involved, but nonetheless, the story has heart.  And in the end, that’s what makes it an enjoyable read.

Here are my reviews for Shannon Stacey’s Kowalski series:

All photos have been lifted from www.goodreads.com