Close Enough to Touch by Colleen Oakley

Close Enough to Touch by Colleen OakleyNarrator: Candace Thaxton, Jonathan Todd Ross, Kirby Heyborne
Source: Netgalley

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Title: Close Enough to Touch by Colleen Oakley
Release Date: March 7th, 2017
Format:  e-ARC (366 pages)
Published By: Gallery Books
Purchase Links: Amazon US Barnes & Noble •  Books-a-million iBooks Indiebound

One time a boy kissed me and I almost died…

And so begins the story of Jubilee Jenkins, a young woman with a rare and debilitating medical condition: she’s allergic to other humans. After a humiliating near-death experience in high school, Jubilee has become a recluse, living the past nine years in the confines of the small town New Jersey house her unaffectionate mother left to her when she ran off with a Long Island businessman. But now, her mother is dead, and without her financial support, Jubilee is forced to leave home and face the world—and the people in it—that she’s been hiding from.

One of those people is Eric Keegan, a man who just moved into town for work. With a daughter from his failed marriage who is no longer speaking to him, and a brilliant, if psychologically troubled, adopted son, Eric’s struggling to figure out how his life got so off-course, and how to be the dad—and man—he wants so desperately to be. Then, one day, he meets a mysterious woman named Jubilee, with a unique condition…

An evocative, poignant, and heartrending exploration of the power and possibilities of the human heart, Close Enough to Touch is perfect for fans of the emotional novels of Jodi Picoult and Jojo Moyes.

three-half-stars

This book had a really interesting premise but it took me two-thirds of the book before I truly got invested in the characters. It was written well but there just wasn’t a connection with the main characters for most of the book. The beginning was like 2-3 stars and the second half was 4-stars.

As a three year old toddler, Jubilee Jenkins developed a rare skin allergy that made touching other humans deadly. Her mother went to specialist after specialist before abandoning her to marry some rich guy in another city. After a kiss in high school almost killed her, Jubilee grudgingly acknowledged that her life was meant to be different from others and without skin to skin contact.

When her mother died and her step father withdrew financial support, Jubilee was forced to find a job to pay for her own bills. She got hired at the library which placed her around people. Once Jubilee saved a little boy Aja from drowning, Jubilee was introduced to Eric Keegan, Aja’s father who slowly opened Jubilee’s heart to a future of happier possibilities.

I like that Eric Keegan wasn’t this hero that made everything better. He had his own messed up situation and was trying to figure out his own life. Eric’s drama made everyone including Jubilee made her face some things from her past as well as make some decisions about her future.

I like how the author used the library and reading as vehicle of communication to allow the characters to understand each other. I felt the most for the young boy Aja. He was clearly in pain and I just wanted to hold him so tight. It was after Aja and his X-men comments that I truly plugged into this story.

Colleen Oakley didn’t write a clean, smooth, cheesy story. It was a slow burner where the individual journey overshadowed the romance, which was okay with me. The writing in the first half dragged but the second half was more touching (pun intended). Overall, it was a good read.

*Special Thanks to Gallery, Threshold, Pocket Books via Netgalley for the e-arc given in exchange for an honest review.

Ezi

Review Blitz: The Hard Truth About Sunshine by Sawyer Bennett

Source: InkSlinger PR

 

FBHardTruthNowAvailable

The Hard Truth About Sunshine AMAZONNew York Times bestselling author Sawyer Bennett has written her most gripping and poignant tale yet. Provocatively heart-breaking, audaciously irreverent and romantically fulfilling, The Hard Truth About Sunshine exposes just how very thin the line is between a full life and an empty existence.

An angry, bitter amputee.

An optimist losing her eyesight.

A dying kid.

A suicidal thief.

Four people with nothing in common but their destination.

Despite having narrowly escaped death’s clutches, Christopher Barlow is grateful for nothing. His capacity to love has been crushed. He hates everyone and everything, completely unable to see past the gray stain of misery that coats his perception of the world. It’s only after he involuntarily joins a band of depressed misfits who are struggling to overcome their own problems, does Christopher start to re-evaluate his lot in life.

What could they possibly learn from one another? How could they possibly help each other to heal? And the question that Christopher asks himself over and over again… can he learn to love again?

He’s about to find out as he embarks upon a cross country trip with a beautiful woman who is going blind, a boy with terminal cancer, and an abuse victim who can’t decide whether she wants to live or die.

They will encounter adventure, thrills, loss and love.

And within their travels they will learn the greatest lesson of all.

The hard truth about sunshine…

Warning: This book deals with some tough issues including suicide and sexual abuse.

Amazon | Paperback | B&N | iBooks | Google Play | Kobo

LaurenBlakelyQuote

 

Jillian holds my gaze for a moment, her eyes drilling into mine before she gently tugs on the material of my jeans near the shin rod of my prosthetic. “What happened to you?”

She doesn’t look away. Not down at the fire, not down to my legs. She stares right at me. Although my gut is turning slightly at the thought of telling her what she asked, I forge straight ahead. For the first time, I tell someone who is not medical personnel or a shrink my story.

“I was driving a military Humvee and the right front tire ran over a roadside bomb,” I say, and Jillian makes a sound of distress low her in throat as her eyes turn sad. “It completely obliterated my buddy sitting in the passenger seat.”

To my surprise, Jillian scoots over closer to me and lays her head on my shoulder. She pushes her hand in between my ribs and my arm, curling her fingers over my bicep. It’s a show of support. Solidarity. That she’s settled in for the long haul of this story, and she wants to hear it all.

“It didn’t blow my leg off,” I tell her, and I can feel her body jerk slightly in surprise. Her fingers squeeze my bicep. “The fingers yes, the leg no. It just shattered and shredded it badly, but the doctors tried hard to save it.”

“Obviously, they couldn’t,” she whispers the obvious.

“They tried for three months,” I tell her, reaching down to grab my phone laying near my left hip. Jillian lifts her head up, watching as I pull up my pictures. I scroll backward, but it doesn’t take long to find what I’m looking for because I don’t take a lot of photos. I hold the phone out so she can see. “This was taken about a month after my injury.”

Jillian makes a strangled sound as she looks at the photo of me in bed. My eyes are half open because I was bombed out on so many heavy-duty pain medications, and I have a grimace on my face. I vaguely remember this picture being taken, and I think it may have been by my brother, Hank, when he came to visit once during that first month. He came a few more times after that, and then he didn’t.

Jillian’s eyes roam over the photo. My leg is encased in the external fixator with several rods leading from the outside of the cage right into my skin, where it’s drilled through and into the bone to hold the pieces together. The wounds on my leg are all open to the air, red and some of them dripping with puss and lined with blisters. I’ve got IVs in both arms and a PICC line in the right side of my neck to deliver the hordes of antibiotics and pain meds I needed to keep me alive and functioning. I took the maximum dosages they allowed me, preferring to try to be oblivious to what was happening. Yet, the pain was so great it just couldn’t be fully erased.

Jillian turns her head to look at me, and I lay the phone back down. “How long were you like that?”

“Three months. But they couldn’t get ahead of the infections, which were delaying the bones from knitting. I was in so much pain that I wanted them to amputate.”

“You had to make that decision?” she whispers.

I nod. “Yup. I mean… the doctors were at the point they felt it was the right way to go, although they were willing to keep trying if I wanted. But I wanted it gone. I was tired of being in the hospital and being in so much pain. I just wanted it gone.”

“Do you regret that decision?” she asks me bluntly, but with that still-sweet melody her voice makes. The question doesn’t bother me, because even her hard questions sound lovely.

“Yes,” I tell her without any shame. “I wonder what would have happened if I held on just a little bit longer. Not long after the leg came off, the pain receded and I became more lucid. Once I’d forgotten how bad the infections smelled, I regretted it.”

“Three months is an awful long time to be in pain like that,” she points out the obvious.

I shrug. “And the rest of my life is a long time to wonder ‘what if.’”

 

 

AuthorPhotoSince the release of her debut contemporary romance novel, Off Sides, in January 2013, Sawyer Bennett has released more than 30 books and has been featured on both the USA Today and New York Times bestseller lists on multiple occasions.

A reformed trial lawyer from North Carolina, Sawyer uses real life experience to create relatable, sexy stories that appeal to a wide array of readers. From new adult to erotic contemporary romance, Sawyer writes something for just about everyone.

Sawyer likes her Bloody Marys strong, her martinis dirty, and her heroes a combination of the two. When not bringing fictional romance to life, Sawyer is a chauffeur, stylist, chef, maid, and personal assistant to a very active toddler, as well as full-time servant to two adorably naughty dogs. She believes in the good of others, and that a bad day can be cured with a great work-out, cake, or a combination of the two.

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | BOOKBUB | AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE | INSTAGRAM

Blog Tour & Review: Any Boy But You (North Pole, Minnesota #1) by Julie Hammerle

Series:
(Website, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads)Source: Chapter by Chapter

ANY BOY BUT YOU (NORTH POLE, MINNESOTA #1) BY JULIEHAMMERLE

ADD TO Goodreads:

Purchase Links: Google Play | BAM | Amazon US | Indies | B&N| TBD | iBooks

Giveaway Information:

• One (1) winner will receive a signed copy of The Sound of Us by Julie Hammerle (US ONLY)

Embed Code:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Any Boy but You (North Pole, Minnesota #1) by Julie Hammerle
Publication Date: February 13, 2017
Publisher: Entangled: Crush

Elena Chestnut has been chatting with an anonymous boy late into the night. It’s a very You’ve Got Mail situation, and she has no idea who he is. He can’t be Oliver Prince, hot-and-bashful son of the family running the rival sporting goods store. Their fancy sales strategies are driving Elena’s family out of business. Elena’s mystery boy has teamed up with her in their latest sales strategy, an augmented reality game, to help her win the grand-prize plane tickets. Money’s so tight Elena’s going to miss senior year spring break with her friends if she can’t win this game.

The girl Oliver’s fallen head-over-heels for online had better not be Elena Chestnut. She’s his angry, vindictive Latin tutor, the daughter of his dad’s business rival, and the one girl he’d never even think of kissing. She’s definitely not his online crush, because that girl is funny, sweet, and perfect.

When Oliver asks to reveal their names at the Valentine’s Day dance, their IRL relationship will either ruin what they have online, or they’ll discover just how thin the line between love and hate really is.

Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book contains swearing, snowball fights, and sexual tension that could melt the North Pole. Read at your own risk.
four-stars

MY REVIEW
I really liked this young adult story that reminded me of those Shakespearian tragedies that featured families that had feuds lasting generations but had a romance entangled in it.

Elena Chestnut worked in her family’s sporting goods store which was struggling to keeping afloat thanks to the rival sporting goods store run by Oliver Prince’s family. Right from the beginning, the author set up the Chestnut versus Prince family feud. Thanks to the title, I already suspected how the story would conclude, but I was curious as to how the author would get the readers from loathing to love. I was really impressed by how the author wove the story around the Stash Grab app, which reminded me of the Pokémon Go that was all the rage this summer, and it really worked in keeping the story fresh.

I enjoyed the journey because it was not insta-love. The Chestnut – Prince feud was exasperating but betrayal is often the cause of long-lasting grudges. What I found thought-provoking was the parent’s indifference to the effects of their grudges on their children and the community. This self-centered attitude was evident in Elena and Oliver’s actions towards each other as well as their neighbors. I am glad that the main characters all grew as people and made better life choices. It was encouraging to witness characters develop as the story unfolded. I really ended up liking Oliver and Elena whereas in the beginning I didn’t really care for their attitudes.

The author’s writing was entertaining and the plot was laid out really well. I found the characters to be likable especially Elena, Oliver and Harper. The unsung heroes here were Harper and Oliver’s mom. The mother because her intervention caused Oliver to exist outside his computer and Harper because she was the link between Elena and Oliver. The second half of this story was a little more angst-filled and I was even more captivated by secrets that I could clearly see would blow up in people’s faces. I took pleasure in how Elena and Oliver got together and the effect on their families.

I would recommend this book to anyone who wants a light and charming read with a fresh twist on the enemy to lovers trope.
Ezi

About Julie Hammerle

Julie Hammerle is the author of The Sound of Us, which will be published by Entangled Teen on June 7, 2016. Before settling down to write “for real,” she studied opera, taught Latin, and held her real estate license for one hot minute. Currently, she writes about TV on her blog Hammervision, ropes people into conversations about Game of Thrones, and makes excuses to avoid the gym. Her favorite YA-centric TV shows include 90210 (original spice), Felicity, and Freaks and Geeks. Her iPod reads like a 1997 Lilith Fair set list.

She lives in Chicago with her husband, two kids, and a dog. They named the dog Indiana.

Audio Series Review: The Royals by Erin Watt

Series:
Narrator: Angela Goethals, Zachary Webber
  • The Royals Series by Erin Watts

Title: Paper Princess (Book 1); Broken Prince (Book 2); Twisted Palace (Book 3) by Erin Watt
Series: The Royals
Release Date: January 10, 2017
Format: Audiobook (about 9 hours each)
Published By: Everafter Romance; Audible
Purchase Links:
• •

four-half-stars

What a page turner. These books were so engaging, full of angst so be prepared to read the entire series without coming up for air. I must say that Erin Watt impressed me with their versatility as authors. This book featured a solid character building, plot development and completely absorbing story. What I liked best about this series written by Erin Watt (the duo Elle Kennedy and Jen Frederick) was the fact that this new adult romance was uncomfortable, disconcerting but yet incredibly addicting. The characters were developed in such a way that you both liked and disliked them but you were secretly hoping for them to be redeemed. It was a wild ride.


In Book 1 can best be described as a sort of rags to riches, but with a touch of Pretty woman, Cinderella, Beauty & the Beast. the reader is introduced to Ella’s past and shown how she came to be a fighter and street smart. The heroine Ella Harper has been through a lot but when it seems like she can’t be in a worse situation, an angel named Callum Royal appears. Ella is rescued from her life of poverty and transported to castle where Royals reign supreme.
Then Ella is rescued by her father’s best friend Callum Royal where she comes to live with his family, including five sons. Book 1 illustrates the transition of the Royal brothers hating Ella and treat her abominably to Ella eventually gaining their acceptance and esteem as a sister. Ella’s transition from public school into a highly prestigious prep school called Park Prep was full of teenage drama. In fact, that school was mean girls meets the old Eastside High from the movie Lean on Me starring Morgan Freeman. Their school theme song should have been “Welcome to the Jungle” by Guns-n-Roses. I’m not sure what would be harder, Park Prep or prison. Both institutions had bullies, hardened criminals and administrators that look the other way. It was a good thing Ella had experience from her days working at the strip club or she would have been destroyed by those rich kids. I could see the “good guys” lurking behind every mean word and action aimed at extinguishing Ella’s esteem, well from the Royals, not so much the school kids. Eventually, Ella and Reed Royal make a love connection, which puts them in a precarious position.
By the end of the book, Battle lines and alliances were revealed between the major players, Callum, Reed, Ella, Easton versus Brooke (Callum’s ex), Dinah (Ella’s stepmother), the Delacorte family from Park Prep school. It was intense to say the least. This book ends in a wicked cliffhanger so make sure to have book two ready to go.


Book 2 presented a change in narration, where the story was primarily told from Reed’s perspective as opposed to the first book where Ella was the primary story teller. It gives Reed the opportunity to introduce himself to the readers and attempt to explain his behavior.
The bulk of the story focused on the rebuilding of the broken trust between Ella Harper and Reed Royal as well as the unveiling of more family secrets. Ella’s father Steve who had been presumed dead returned so that shifts the battle lines a bit.
I didn’t feel like the authors really fleshed out Brooke and Dinah’s relationship as well as motivations at all. Plus, I can’t help but wonder if the real love relationship is between Callum and Steve. Again, this book ends in a cliffhanger as a major character is murdered.


In the third and final book in this angst-filled trilogy, I expected many of my long-standing questions to be address. I was somewhat disappointed because now I felt strung along for a long time.
In this book 3, The Royals are the town pariah right now, with the murder charge still shining a negative light on the Royals and more specifically Reed. I never doubted that Reed and Ella would figure out how to keep their relationship afloat. I knew the Royals would end up on top but I wanted to know who was getting the best of them and why. I also like the ceasefire with Jordan, but I would have liked to know that Jordan was turning over a new leaf in general. Most importantly, I wanted to know how the murderer got away for so long and who aided the murderer. I was right about the murderer but correct on the why and how. I was still confused as the nature of everyone’s relationships. These unanswered questions have left me dangling on but I still enjoyed this screwed up Royal Family.

With all that said, I need these questions answered.
Did Brooke not share with Dinah what she learned, or did Dinah know it before?
Did Steve erase the videos because Reed wasn’t the only one there?
Did Dinah know what really happened to her bestfriend?
What really happened with Steve?
How was Callum so oblivious about Steve?
What was the real deal with Gideon and Dinah? How could an intelligent guy like Gideon not seek easily available legal advice regarding Dinah?
How could Callum know about Reed & Brooke and not Gideon & Dinah, especially with all the cameras in the house?
So is Easton an addict and what’s the family going to do about it?
And Steve…I don’t understand Steve’s motivations at all.

Ezi

Release Day Launch: A Thousand Letters by Staci Hart

Source: InkSlinger PR

AThousandLetters_Banner_ReleaseDay

Today we have the release day for A Thousand Letters by Staci Hart! I love this fantastic new contemporary romance inspired by Jane Austen’s Persuasion.

Check it out and grab your copy today!

Cover

Title: A Thousand Letters

Author: Staci Hart

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Full Cover

About A Thousand Letters:

Sometimes your life is split by a single decision.

I’ve spent every day of the last seven years regretting mine: he left, and I didn’t follow. A thousand letters went unanswered, my words like petals in the wind, spinning away into nothing, taking me with them.

But now he’s back.

I barely recognize the man he’s become, but I can still see a glimmer of the boy who asked me to be his forever, the boy I walked away from when I was young and afraid.

Maybe if he’d come home under better circumstances, he could speak to me without anger in his voice. Maybe if I’d said yes all those years ago, he’d look at me without the weight of rejection in his eyes. Maybe if things were different, we would have had a chance.

One regretted decision sent him away. One painful journey bought him back to me. I only wish I could keep him.

*A contemporary romance inspired by Jane Austen’s Persuasion*

Get Your Copy Today!

Add on Goodreads

teaser 4 teaser 3

About Staci Hart:

Staci has been a lot of things up to this point in her life: a graphic designer, an entrepreneur, a seamstress, a clothing and handbag designer, a waitress. Can’t forget that. She’s also been a mom, with three little girls who are sure to grow up to break a number of hearts. She’s been a wife, even though she’s certainly not the cleanest, or the best cook. She’s also super, duper fun at a party, especially if she’s been drinking whiskey. Her favorite word starts with f and ends with k.

 

From roots in Houston, to a seven year stint in Southern California, Staci and her family ended up settling somewhere in between and equally north, in Denver. They are new enough that snow is still magical. When she’s not writing, she’s sleeping, cleaning, or designing graphics.

teaser 2

Connect with Staci:

Facebook: http://facebook.com/stacihartnovels.com

Twitter: @imaquirkybird

Instagram: @quirkybird

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/imaquirkybird

Website: http://stacihartnovels.com

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Staci-Hart/e/B00BFCANRW/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_ebooks_1

 

A Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet

Series:
Narrator: Mia Barron
A Promise of Fire Book Cover A Promise of Fire
Kingmaker Chronicles #1
Amanda Bouchet
Fantasy; Romance
Sourcebooks Casablanca
August 2nd, 2016
e-book; audiobook
448
Edelweiss

Catalia "Cat" Fisa is a powerful clairvoyant known as the Kingmaker. This smart-mouthed soothsayer has no interest in her powers and would much rather fly under the radar, far from the clutches of her homicidal mother. But when an ambitious warlord captures her, she may not have a choice…

Griffin is intent on bringing peace to his newly conquered realm in the magic-deprived south. When he discovers Cat is the Kingmaker, he abducts her. But Cat will do everything in her power to avoid her dangerous destiny and battle her captor at every turn. Although up for the battle, Griffin would prefer for Cat to help his people willingly, and he's ready to do whatever it takes to coax her…even if that means falling in love with her.

This was a breath of fresh air in a sea of young adult assassin stories. I loved that the heroine relied more cunning than magic and sword. Catalia “Cat” Fisa was a mysterious girl with special powers. She is hiding from someone and is constantly on the run. She found refuge blending into a crowd of circus but was discovered by soldiers sent by the ruling class, the Sinta. Cat immediately clashes with Griffin, the Beta of the Sinta.

From her capture, Cat and Griffin matched wits trying to outmaneuver the other. In the course of their constant bickering, the tension turns into fierce attraction.
In the beginning, it felt like the author was a setting a foundation for an awesome fantasy. Cat had this secretive background which was unveiled little by little. First, we saw she can absorb the powers of others. WE also saw the gods sent her messages or visions. Then it was revealed that she can tell when someone is telling a lie. Cat seemed to have a real assortment of gifts.

But her background and what she was running from started to take a back seat to the romance with the Beta Sinta, and that’s when I felt the story started running out of steam. While I love romance, the plot between the ruling classes and the usurpers was interesting enough. I would like have liked the romance to be a subplot and not used to distract from the drop off in the development of the story.
I will still read book 2 to find out more about Cat’s family and the ruling family, but I hope the author is more attentive to the world building.

Up in Flames (Rosemary Beach #13) by Abbi Glines

Series:
Narrator: Jeremy York, Sophie Eastlake
Up in Flames Book Cover Up in Flames
Rosemary Beach #13
Abbi Glines
Romance; New Adult
Atria Books
June 28th 2016
e-book
256

Spoiled. Selfish. Rich girl. Villain. Slut.

As the Prada-clad bad girl of Rosemary Beach, Nan Dillon has been called every vile name under the hot summer sun. Some of her reputation is deserved—she’s never had to worry about anything but maintaining her perfect figure and splitting Daddy’s private jet with her brother, Rush.

But Nan is far from happy. Rush has another kid on the way and doesn’t have time to catch up with his sister. Grant, the last guy she truly cared about, chose to be with her half-sister, Harlow, instead of her. And Harlow, who has never gotten over the way Nan treated her when she first moved to town, remains distant.

So when Major asks her out, she jumps at the chance to date the gorgeous charmer. Though she doesn’t know much about the sweet-talking Texan, and though it’s clear he doesn’t want to be exclusive, dating him beats hanging out with vapid socialites or watching Netflix alone at home.

For a while, Nan deals with Major’s playboy ways, but after he burns her one too many times, she takes off for an impromptu wild weekend in Vegas. There, she meets Gannon, a darkly seductive and oh-so-dangerous businessman who knows exactly how to handle her.

With Major asking for a second chance and Gannon haunting her dreams, Nan has to decide who to give her heart to. But what she doesn’t realize is that these players are involved in a much bigger game—and they’re already two moves ahead of her.

Finally, Nan Dillion gets her day in the sun and I have been waiting a long time for it. However, Nan herself summarized her character best by saying

“I wasn’t Blaire or Harlow. I didn’t inspire men to want to change for me.”

You’re damn right Nan. You lacked the goodness that those girls had and it was a disappointing series ending book. After reading this book, I still don’t like you one bit. We met Nan, Rush’s awful little sister in book 1 and I was ready for Abbi Glines to redeem this character and show the readers why Nan wasn’t the uber witch I had believed her to be for this entire series. I can say this author’s effort in showing Nan in a more favorable light didn’t work at all.

On top of this Nan’s unrepentant ways, the reader got a major dose of Major, who had an unsavory job as well as a large appetite for the ladies. *Eye roll*

I find the triangle with Nan, Major and Cope to be a red herring. The copious amounts of sex were intended to camouflage a shallow plot. I just didn’t feel genuine affection between Nan and these guys, not like the other couples. I think if Nan had that earth moving love, she would have been changed and truly understood the women she wronged along the way in this series.
I had to ask myself if the author even intended to redeem Nan because for the prior 12 books, Nan has been a conniving mean girl. Is it even possible to redeem such a villain after such long period of parading their schemes and plots? Unfortunately, the author for waiting for long for me.

Plus, there was nothing that Nan did take showed contrition. This one really lacked substance and frankly speaking I am shocked at how everyone seems to have forgiven Nan when I don’t recall her asking for forgiveness. I am glad she seemed to grow some and feel like she has some worth as a person. But I cannot point to anything I enjoyed about this story at all. It just was a huge disappointment for me.

*Special Thanks to Atria Books via Netgalley for the e-book given in exchange for an honest review.

Ezi

Pictures of You (’90s Coming of Age #1) by Leta Blake

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Title: Pictures of You by: Leta Blake
Series: ’90s Coming of Age, #1
Release Date:Sept. 19, 2016
Pages: 316 • Format: eARC
Published By: Leta Blake Books
Purchase Links:
Amazon

Growing up gay isn’t easy. Growing up gay in Knoxville, Tennessee is even harder.

Eighteen-year-old Peter Mandel, a private school senior—class of 1990—is passionate about photography. Peter doesn’t have many friends preferring to shoot pictures from behind the scenes to keep his homosexuality secret.

Enter Adam Algedi, a charming, worldly new guy who doesn’t do labels, but does want to do Peter. Hardly able to believe gorgeous Adam would want geeky, skinny him of all people, Peter’s swept away on a journey of first love and sexual discovery. But as their mutual web of lies spins tighter and tighter, can Peter find the confidence he needs to make the right choices?

Join Peter, in the first of a four-part coming of age series, on his search to love and be loved, and, most of all, how to grow into a gay man worthy of his own respect.

four-stars

The main thing I would tell readers!!!

Pictures of You is about heartbreak, sadness, love, and understanding. It’s about two young men falling in love in the early 90’s in Knoxville, Tennessee in their senior year of High School.

I am so shocked at myself, it was emotional at many different of times, but I didn’t cry as much as I thought I would. I’m also a fan of Adam!!! Don’t throw anything at me. I think I understand Adam so much, and his reasoning. He made me what to kidnap him and take him somewhere where he can be free. He also made me want to eviscerate him time and time again. **Big Sighs**, Oh Peter, Peter the Eater! I love you. I don’t know if I was this smart at 18. Peter was smart, but stupidly in love. I really enjoyed this story. The first time I picked it up, I cried at the beginning. I decided to pick it up at a later date, and now that I decided to give it a second chance, I was just blown away at the level of writing. Leta Blake is a definite auto-buy author for me. I love how her characters resonates with her readers. We might not be able to personalize with each character, but I guarantee you that we will be able to point out a detail on why they are just like me.

There was so many moments that I wanted Peter to open your eyes hun, he isn’t going to choose you moments. I don’t know if it was a relief when Peter came to that conclusion himself, because in doing so Peter excepted anything that was thrown at him. I loved Peter’s thought process. I thought he was such a splendid character. I really loved the time that he was around his Dad. Oh, that was super emotional for me as well. I’m one of the few people in romance that is okay with Cheating. Yeah, I know some people get ragey crazy mad, but cheating is normal. It happens daily, and in this story it was no better. Peter accepted the cheating and that hit me in the throat. Being in love with Adam had to be to hard. I know what its like to be in the love for the very first time. Its like sunshine, daisies and hearts galore. Its like feeling on top of the world. Adam!!!! **Grr**, I have to grr when I speak his name. I don’t want to say he was leading Peter on, but I do want to say he didn’t have to give up anything. Let me be clear, I understand Adam. His background, home life is as acceptable as Peter’s is. I don’t think Adam got the guise that he can end up leaving Knoxville at any time, and Peter is left broken and hurt. Sure Adam is going to be hurt, but I do think he was selfish enough to be in love with two people. That part hurt-ed me the most.

This is a 4 part series, and I can only imagine the level of emotions that I’m going to go through from each book. I will do this because Leta Blake proves to be amazing, and I love her writing. Sure this books leaves us with no HEA. I am happy with that, but I am so scared of whats to come. I only hope that Peter decided to put himself as a priority this go around. College is on the horizon, and both guys will be experiencing new things. Bravo, Mrs. Blake.

About Leta Blake

Author of the bestselling book Smoky Mountain Dreams and the fan

favorite Training Season, Leta Blake's educational and professional background is in psychology

and finance, respectively. However, her passion has always been for writing. She enjoys crafting

romance stories and exploring the psyches of made up people. At home in the Southern U.S.,

Leta works hard at achieving balance between her day job, her writing, and her family.

A Thousand Boy Kisses by Tillie Cole

Narrator: Katie Schorr, P. J. Ochlan
two-stars
A Thousand Boy Kisses Book Cover A Thousand Boy Kisses
Tillie Cole
Romance; New Adult
March 15th, 2016
audiobook
316 pages

One kiss lasts a moment. But a thousand kisses can last a lifetime.One boy. One girl. A bond that is forged in an instant and cherished for a decade. A bond that neither time nor distance can break. A bond that will last forever. Or so they believe.When seventeen-year-old Rune Kristiansen returns from his native Norway to the sleepy town of Blossom Grove, Georgia, where he befriended Poppy Litchfield as a child, he has just one thing on his mind. Why did the girl who was one half of his soul, who promised to wait faithfully for his return, cut him off without a word of explanation?Rune's heart was broken two years ago when Poppy fell silent. When he discovers the truth, he finds that the greatest heartache is yet to come.

A stand-alone young adult tearjerker romance, recommended for ages fourteen and up.

This book is up as a finalist for the Best Young Adult Fiction in 2016 Goodreads Choice Awards. So I decided to listen to it as I already bought it a few months ago.
This was NOT a feel good story. Nor was it a happy ending in my opinion. It definitely a tear jerker for those who love a good messy cry.

From the beginning, this story was was overly dramatic and their actions didn’t feel like that of young children. Honestly, I didn’t shed a single tear. I felt bad because I know I should feel bad for the characters. But I didn’t truly connect or engage with this story. From the beginning, this story was overly dramatic and their actions didn’t feel like that of young children. I didn’t enjoy any aspects of this story unlike the other Tillie Cole books I’ve read.

First of all, the narration was just terrible. I often wondered if I would enjoy the book better if I had just read the kindle edition. Second, the character’s dialogues felt strange and weird for kids. Imagine a five-year-old Poppy talking about Norway and Vikings to eight-year-old Rune talking about infinity love. It felt odd that they wanted to spend every waking moment with each other and never with a single other friend even when they were teenager. Something about their interactions didn’t feel like normal and genuine representation of little kids. Kids often have a best friend, but not to where no one, nor family existed outside this person.

Second, I never felt like I knew the Poppy nor Rune. The author Tillie Cole didn’t develop the character and thus it didn’t allow me to really connect with them individually nor as a couple. Instead, we were told how thy just were so mushy about themselves without us seeing them evolve.

Third, Rune’s treatment of his parents, specifically his father was over the top and disrespectful. It showed such a spoiled and thoughtless young teenager and I never witnessed a remedial action towards his father for those behaviors. Also, Poppy’s secrecy was surprising considering the infinity connection she claimed she had with Rune. It also was just too contrived for me.

The big twist didn’t feel so twisty because I suspected it having read other YA books with similar twists. It didn’t endear the couple to me either but I do suspect touched all the readers that rates the book so high. Personally, the Fault in our Stars struck those emotional chords much stronger for me. It was definitely the writing in this story and that’s why I am glad I have read her other series and know that Tillie Cole can deliver compelling stories.

The Shameless Hour (The Ivy Years #4) by Sarina Bowen

Series:
Narrator: Nick Podehl, Saskia Maarleveld
(Website, Blog, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads)
The Shameless Hour Book Cover The Shameless Hour
The Ivy Years #4
Sarina Bowen
Contemporary Romance
Rennie Road Books
April 12th 2015
audibook
279

The girl who’s had everyone meets the boy who has no one.

For Bella, the sweet-talking, free-loving, hip-checking student manager of the Harkness men’s hockey team, sex is a second language. She’s used to being fluent where others stutter, and the things people say behind her back don’t (often) bother her. So she can’t understand why her smoking hot downstairs neighbor has so much trouble staying friends after their spontaneous night together. She knows better than to worry about it, but there’s something in those espresso eyes that makes her second guess herself.

Rafe is appalled with himself for losing his virginity in a drunken hookup. His strict Catholic upbringing always emphasized loving thy neighbor—but not with a bottle of wine and a box of condoms. The result is an Ivy League bout of awkwardness. But when Bella is leveled by a little bad luck and a downright sinister fraternity stunt, it’s Rafe who is there to pick up the pieces.

Bella doesn’t want Rafe's help, and she’s through with men. Too bad the undeniable spark that crackles between the two of them just can't be extinguished.

I really enjoyed this book. It challenged some stereotypes and prejudices I have about women. I do want to be less judgmental of women and more respectful even if the choices aren’t ones that I’d make for myself.

Bella (before): Just a common groupie. Everyone has a turn on that ride.

Bella (now): Independent, confident, unafraid.

I was entertained with drama between Rafe and Bella because it was cool having the guy be the clumsy and inexperienced one. Rafe was very sweet and sure about what he wanted. It was always something monogamous and committed. I don’t think Bella and Rafe grew that much as characters, but they certainly gave each other strength to go for what they wanted and eschew fear.

I think the author dealt with a very sensitive subject without trivalizing it. I was comfortable with how it played out and I am happy that Bella learned more about herself in this book. I didn’t really care for Bella in the prior books, but I grew to appreciate her more in her own book. She has a certain inner strength that can be overlooked because of her cavalier attitude towards sex. Rafe was a really great guy from a good mother and he really helped Bella see herself in a different light.

Sarina Bowen really creates an interesting college environment that is fun but has real life issues. I look forward to the roommate’s chance at love.

About Sarina Bowen

Sarina Bowen is a USA Today bestselling author of contemporary romance. She lives in Vermont’s Green Mountains with her family, six chickens and too much ski gear and hockey equipment.