Saturday, April 29, 2017

Cover Reveal: Keeping Claudia

About the Book:
Title: Keeping Claudia (Toby & Claudia #2)
Author: Suzanne McKenna Link
Publication date: May 2017
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Synopsis:
Back home in a town she once fled, headstrong Claudia Chiametti returns to the arms of the only guy ever to awaken her heart. Everything about Toby Faye contradicts her family’s traditions and values, but she’s ready to take a chance on love.
Toby finally has the girl he’s long dreamed of within his reach. But, it’s only a matter of time before light will be cast on the dark corners of a secreted past.
Can Claudia love him unconditionally …or will the truth cost Toby what he wants most?
Falling in love is easy. Staying in love is hard.



Author Bio:
Suzanne McKenna Link works for a family of newspapers that cover events in and around the South Shore of Long Island, New York. She lives in the town of Sayville with her husband and two children.
SAVING TOBY is her debut novel. The literary love story follows the moving journey of a damaged young man and his love for a girl who might just save him. An avid interest in psychology has Suzanne digging deep into the reasons for her characters' behaviors. The native Long Islander is fascinated by the how and why of people's actions. As a result, her characters come to life on the pages.

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~Cassie

Friday, April 28, 2017

ARC Review: Deliciously Thick (Naked Brews #2)

Deliciously Thick (Naked Brews, #2)About the Book:
Title: Deliciously Thick (Naked Brews #2)
Author: KB Jacobs
Pub. Date: April 28, 2017
Publisher: KB Jacobs
Pages: 251
Rating: 4/5 stars




Synopsis:
Triple B...the Bad Boy of Boarding. 

That’s me and I own that title. I’m a professional snowboarder and my life IS the party. 

You want to hang out for a good time? Come to Triple B’s house. 
You need a hot chick to bang? There are tons of them at my place. 
My bar is stocked and the music is jamming. This is my life.

Until Juliet. No, that’s not her real name. That’s just what I called her when I fell in lust with her those nights when she read in her window.

But then a fire changed everything. 

I saved her life and it ruined mine. Now my sponsors say I either fix my party-boy image or else I’m through making the big bucks. I figure she broke me, she can fix me. 

She’s sweet and innocent, exactly what I need to fix my image. But I’m not sure either of us will survive the legacy that is Triple B.

Review:

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Holy snowboard babies this book was off-the-charts amazing! After the major cliffhanger that KB Jacobs left in the first Naked Brews book, I was extremely excited to get my hands on the ARC of the second book in this series. And boy was I happy to have this book early. It blew me away, and while it's not my normal type of thing (you'll see what I mean when you read it), I still loved it! Doesn't hurt to be adventurous now and then ;) 

So it's no secret that I loved the first book in this series, Deliciously Smooth, but this second installment in the series definitely made me love the series even more. KB Jacobs' writing is excellent and makes you fall in love with the characters so easily. In this book (which technically could be read as a standalone but is so much better when you read them in as a series), we are introduced to Anthony "Triple B" Millett. If you couldn't tell by the cover, he's smoking hot on and off the slopes, and basically the party never ends for him. He's your typical playboy that has every girl at his beck and call. Until he sees his Juliet in the window every night when he goes for his run. He becomes intrigued by her, and when an unfortunate incident makes their paths cross, well let's just say he has his hands full when he actually meets his Juliet. 

"Juliet" in this case is actually Melissa, one of Lake's best friends. She's easy to love and I'm sure many of us bookworms can relate to her quite easily. She's obsessed with all things British, and she loves her reading. But she has a dirty little secret, one that not even I saw coming. But it definitely made for an exciting read. But Melissa doesn't put up with "Triple B's" antics. And frankly, I wouldn't either. Triple B is a jerk to the highest degree. He's brash and bold, and doesn't know how to stop the crazy antics that have become his persona. However, Anthony...Anthony was simply swoonworthy. Every time Anthony came out, well both Melissa and I fell in love just a little bit more. Which basically meant...

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The chemistry that Anthony and Melissa have explodes off the page. You know from the minute they meet that they'll be an interesting pairing, and it is a relationship that is well worth exploring. Melisssa became more herself and Anthony helped her embrace her wild side. In turn, Melissa helped Anthony realize that the whole Triple B persona didn't need to exist anymore, or it could, but in a different way. All in all, they were perfect for each other and give each other a perfect balance that few can find. 

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While this one doesn't end of such a huge cliffhanger like the first novel, KB Jacobs definitely let me wanting that third book sooner rather than later...and by sooner I mean like maybe next week. A whole new level is added to the story by the conclusion, and I just want everything to be okay for all these characters! Melissa and Anthony's story comes to an end in this book, but we'll definitely be seeing more of them in future books. I can't wait to see what KB Jacobs has in store for us next!!



Happy reading :)

~Cassie

Special thank you to KB Jacobs for letting me have an ARC of Deliciously Thick in exchange for an honest review!

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Blog Tour: Harmful Rush

About the Book:
Title: Harmful Rush (Remedy #3)
Author: Debra Doxer
Publication date: April 24th 2017
Genres: Paranormal, Romance, Young Adult
Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis: 
Harmful Rush is a standalone, full-length novel set in the Remedy world. You do not have to read the first two books to read this book.
Skylark Samuels has a secret.
She’s not a normal teenager, although she plays one in real life. Pretending to be something you’re not isn’t easy, especially in high school where gossip is gold. For years, Sky manages to hide her uniqueness, until one fateful day when she exposes her gift, her curse, and all her fears come to pass. Now instead of going to college near home like she planned, she has to leave town and go someplace where the rumors can’t follow. The plan when she gets there: keep to herself and stay under the radar.
But blending into the background is impossible when local heartthrob Dylan Parks notices her. Even though Sky keeps her distance and doesn’t act like one of Dylan’s adoring fans, he goes out of his way to talk to her. Her. The girl who wants to be invisible.
Sky isn’t immune to Dylan’s charm, but getting close to him is a bad idea. It goes against the promise she made to herself. Besides, if Dylan knew the truth, he wouldn’t want her. If he discovered her secret, he’d treat her differently and possibly fear her. It’s happened before. But the more Sky gets to know Dylan, the harder it is to resist him, until fate intervenes.
A tragic event forces Sky to reveal herself to the one person she’s come to care for, and his reaction is unexpected. For the first time, she doesn’t feel so alone. But what she doesn’t realize is that she’s never been alone. When she finally lets her guard down, someone comes along who threatens to unravel everything, because being normal was never Sky’s destiny.

Author Bio:
Debra Doxer was born in Boston, and other than a few lost years in the California sunshine, she has always resided in the Boston area. She writes fiction, technical software documents, illegible scribbles on sticky notes, and texts that get mangled by AutoCorrect. She writes for a living, and she writes for fun. When her daughter asks when she’ll run out of words, her response always is, “When I run out of time.”




Review:

"I want to live in the same moment I'm breathing in." 

This is the first book I have read by Debra Doxer, and boy was I impressed. I received an ARC of this book as part of the upcoming blog tour, and was relieved when I saw that it was a stand-alone. I was worried that I would be missing something or that I wouldn't be able to connect to the story as much as I wanted because this was technically the third book in the series. However, this is definitely not the case!! Debra Doxer wrote an excellent story that I would highly recommend checking out. It's the perfect mix of paranormal elements and contemporary romance. The college setting made for the perfect backdrop to the story, and every character was well-developed. 

"My whole life has been spent waiting for something more. Answers, reasons, truths." 

Skylark (whose name I love by the way for its uniqueness) is our MC, and she was absolutely amazing. I loved her from the get go, and she is easily relatable. She has a secret and when that secret is exposed, she's forced to start her life over in a new town and around new people. I loved how seamlessly this "paranormal" element was incorporated into the story. It definitely drove the book forward, and I was eager to see how exactly it would come into play during the story. One of the first people Sky meets when she starts her life over and begins college is Dylan. And boy did I love him! The chemistry that Sky and Dylan have is off-the-charts!! I loved their scenes together and he truly helped her become the person she was meant to be. 

"Every touch of his skin scorches mine, and the way he tastes is as though I've been craving some intangible thing forever, and I've finally found what satisfies it." 

One thing that I appreciated was the slow burn of Sky and Dylan's relationship. Ms. Doxer never forces their relationship in your face...she just lets their relationship build naturally. They experience ups and downs like any couple their age (or any age for that matter). They work together to build each other up and support each other in any way the other needs. From the minute they meet, you can easily see they are meant for each other. And I was definitely rooting for them the entire novel! 

"Just when I think he's going to push me away, he gathers me in his arms like he'll never let go." 

I wish I could go into the plot but I don't want to spoil anything. However, what I will say is that it is extremely unique and exciting. Ms. Doxer balances the mystery element with the romance/contemporary elements very well. There is plenty of exciting/thrilling scenes, especially toward the end, when Sky's secret is threatened to be exposed and she is left vulnerable and torn on what she should do. Ms. Doxer's writing is gorgeous, and the entire story is beautifully written. The story is very compelling and addicting, and I never wanted to stop reading!

I would highly recommend checking out this story by Debra Doxer! It is definitely one you do not want to miss, and it makes it even better that it's a standalone. I know that I will 100% be checking out the other books in the series as soon as possible though! The story is unforgettable and will stay with you long after you finish reading. With fantastic writing and an exciting story, this is a must read for 2017!


Happy reading :)

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~Cassie

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday #96

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event that is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine and spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

Cassie's Waiting On: 

Brave New Girl by Rachel Vincent
Brave New GirlPublication Date: May 9, 2017

Synopsis:

In a world where everyone is the same, one girl is the unthinkable: unique. A high-stakes fast-paced series launch from New York Times bestselling author Rachel Vincent.

We have brown hair. Brown eyes. Fair skin.
We are healthy and strong and smart.
But only one of us has ever had a secret.


Dahlia 16 sees her face in every crowd. She's nothing special—just one of five thousand girls created from a single genome to work for the greater good of the city.
Meeting Trigger 17 changes everything. He thinks she’s interesting. Beautiful. Unique. Which means he must be flawed. When Dahlia can't stop thinking about him—when she can't resist looking for him, even though that means breaking the rules—she realizes she's flawed, too. But if she’s flawed, then so are all her identicals. And any genome found to be flawed will be recalled.
Destroyed.
Getting caught with Trigger would seal not only Dahlia's fate, but that of all five thousand girls who share her face. But what if Trigger is right? What if Dahlia is different?
Suddenly the girl who always follows the rules is breaking them, one by one by one. . . .
 

I'm always interested when Rachel Vincent writes a new story, so I added this to me TBR without even reading the description. But after reading the synopsis I knew I wanted to read it more than ever. This is the first time Rachel Vincent is writing a sci-fi novel, so I can't wait to see how it turns out!

Jocelyn's Waiting On: 

Roar (Stormheart, #1) by Cora Carmack 
Publication Date: June 13th, 2017


Synopsis:

In a land ruled and shaped by violent magical storms, power lies with those who control them.

Aurora Pavan comes from one of the oldest Stormling families in existence. Long ago, the ungifted pledged fealty and service to her family in exchange for safe haven, and a kingdom was carved out from the wildlands and sustained by magic capable of repelling the world’s deadliest foes. As the sole heir of Pavan, Aurora’s been groomed to be the perfect queen. She’s intelligent and brave and honorable. But she’s yet to show any trace of the magic she’ll need to protect her people.

To keep her secret and save her crown, Aurora’s mother arranges for her to marry a dark and brooding Stormling prince from another kingdom. At first, the prince seems like the perfect solution to all her problems. He’ll guarantee her spot as the next queen and be the champion her people need to remain safe. But the more secrets Aurora uncovers about him, the more a future with him frightens her. When she dons a disguise and sneaks out of the palace one night to spy on him, she stumbles upon a black market dealing in the very thing she lacks—storm magic. And the people selling it? They’re not Stormlings. They’re storm hunters.

Legend says that her ancestors first gained their magic by facing a storm and stealing part of its essence. And when a handsome young storm hunter reveals he was born without magic, but possesses it now, Aurora realizes there’s a third option for her future besides ruin or marriage. 

She might not have magic now, but she can steal it if she’s brave enough. 

Challenge a tempest. Survive it. And you become its master.


Has Cora Carmack ever published a fantasy book? I'm not really sure, but I know her contemporaries are great. I know it sounds weird, but I love books about arranged marriages. I think because most times it doesn't work out and the girl ends up being a huge badass. It seems like Aurora is going to be such a great character in this book and I can't wait to for it to come out!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Book Blitz: How We Fall

About the Book:
Title: How We Fall
Author: Melissa Toppen
Publication date: April 21, 2017
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Synopsis: 
It’s not always about how we fall- it’s about where we end up once we land.
I remember the very first time I laid eyes on Cole Lincoln. It still feels like yesterday when he stumbled into my life with his messy brown hair and dark eyes. Even though I was only ten years old at the time, I knew right then and there that he was going to change everything.
From that point on Cole and I were always together—inseparable—and I naively believed we’d be best friends forever. But forever didn’t last nearly as long as I expected.
We grew up and grew apart, life driving the distance between us, but my love for Cole never faltered. Even long after he moved away, leaving me and our little town behind, I still carried a piece of him with me every single day. Because Cole wasn’t just my childhood best friend- the boy who knew me better than anyone else in the whole world. He was also my first love- a part of my very core.
When a tragic death brings us face to face again after six years, every single memory comes rushing to the surface. Only this is not the boy I fell in love with all those years ago. The man before me is hardened, intimidating, and so damn sexy I practically melt when those dark eyes meet mine for the first time in six years.
And like the first time he walked into my life, I know with complete certainty that everything is about to change.
How We Fall is a STANDALONE Contemporary Romance.


Author Bio:
Melissa Toppen is a Reader's Choice Award Winning and Bestselling Romance Author of New Adult, Contemporary, Erotic and Romantic Suspense. She is a lover of books and enjoys nothing more than losing herself in a good novel. She has a soft spot for Romance and focuses her writing in that direction; writing what she loves to read.
Melissa was born and raised in a small town in Ohio and now resides in Cincinnati with her husband and two children, where she writes full time.
In addition to spending time with family and friends, Melissa loves going to concerts and is obsessed with the T.V. shows Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, Once Upon a Time and Outlander.

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~Cassie

Monday, April 24, 2017

Discussion: Why Thirteen Reasons Why is Not OK

I'm sure you've heard the buzz surrounding the book/tv show Thirteen Reasons Why. As book bloggers, we may know Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher was published in 2007 by Razorbill. Since the debut of the TV show on Netflix, book sales skyrocketed on numerous bestseller lists including NYT and Audible. Was it a good book? When I read it, I was in middle school and I hated it. I didn't feel the need to re-read it before watching the TV show, so these opinions are solely based on my opinion of the TV-show adaptation. As a school psychologist, I watched this show critically from a mental health standpoint and cringed during many of the parts. I am writing this blog post to share with you the main problems I have with this show and how it portrayed suicide.

If you are unaware of what this book is about: here is a short summary

You can't stop the future.
You can't rewind the past.
The only way to learn the secret . . . is to press play.


Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker--his classmate and crush--who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah's voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he'll find out why. 

Clay spends the night crisscrossing his town with Hannah as his guide. He becomes a firsthand witness to Hannah's pain, and as he follows Hannah's recorded words throughout his town, what he discovers changes his life forever.



#1) Hannah blamed everybody for her suicide 
Not just Hannah, EVERYONE pointed fingers. It was his fault, her fault, the schools fault, the parents fault. These tapes were the blame game, and it finally put the power of voice back in her hands. I am aware that many of the individuals on the tapes were in the wrong for bullying and engaging in other illegal actions. However, this gives the illusion that someone is to blame in the case of suicide, which is not the case. This is dangerous and can perpetuate the idea of revenge suicide being the only way to get someones point across. 

#2) There was no mention of mental health/depression 
90% of those who commit or attempt to commit suicide have depression or another mental illness such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, etc. Isn't that worth bringing up? Suicide is an important topic, but so is mental health. Everyone always talks about the "stigma" of mental illnesses, but how can the stigma disappear if it's pushed away and superficial causes are brought to the surface?

#3) No School Support 
Why was this demonstrating that schools react like this when students reach out for help? INACCURATE! That is illegal. Threat assessment would have been performed, mental health professionals and parents would have been notified. This is extremely upsetting given that if adolescents who might be depressed are watching, they may be discouraged from seeking help because they think that nobody will listen to them.

#4) It shows that there is a point to suicide 
Hannah's point was to make other people think about their actions. Is it good to reflect on bullying and realizing that you made a wrong decision? Of course! However, killing oneself doesn't "teach anyone a lesson". Suicide never has a positive outcome and this TV show is demonstrating that this was the only solution to seeing a change in anyones actions. Basically, it seemed like Hannah was a martyr whose death finally allowed people to see the problems of their actions. Say it with me, suicide is never the answer. 

#5) "Research shows that exposure to another person's suicide, or to graphic or sensationalized accounts of death, can be one of the many risk factors that youth struggling with mental health conditions cite as a reason they contemplate or attempt suicide."
Where does this come from? NASP (National Association of School Psychologists) issued a cautionary article regarding the TV show "13 Reasons Why" and this was included in the article. This show portrayed graphic rape and suicide scenes which correlates with "graphic or sensationalized accounts of death". If you'd like to read the article, I have a link for you right here:
NASP Article


I'd just like to know - who is this helping? I'd love to know your opinions of this show or the book. Now I realize that on the surface that the "moral of the story" is to be nice because you don't know how your actions are really affecting people. However, I feel like this TV show does NOT accurately depict suicide or mental illnesses, as a lot of books about mental health actually don't. I didn't mean to offend anyone with this post, they are simply my opinions and I'd also love to hear yours in the comments below!


- Jocelyn

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Book Review: The Girl in the Picture

The Girl in the PictureAbout the Book:
Title: The Girl in the Picture
Author: Alexandra Monir
Pub. Date: Nov. 15, 2016
Publisher: Delacorte Press/Random House
Pages: 272 
Rating: 3/5 stars




Synopsis:

Nicole Morgan has been labeled many things — the geeky music girl, the shy sidekick to Miss Popularity, and the girl with the scar. Now only one name haunts her through the halls of Oyster Bay Prep.

The Girl in the Picture.

After high school heartthrob Chace Porter is found dead in the woods near the school, the police are in search of the girl whose picture with Chace is the only clue found amongst his personal belongings. A girl who no one knew was even close to Chace–and whose dormmate, Lana Rivera, was Chace's girlfriend.

Nicole is that girl and now she's the primary suspect in his murder.

But what really happened that night? Were Nicole and Chace dating behind Lana’s back; were he and Lana over? Could either of them have killed him?

Told in alternating points of view, that of our suspect, Nicole Morgan, and her former best friend and roommate, Lana Rivera, readers will piece together the story of a starcrossed love, a fractured friendship–and what really happened the night Chace was killed.

Review:

This is a tough review to write because on one hand I really liked the story, but also it was a bit predictable and cliche which ended up taking away from the entire book. I loved the mystery part of the novel and I thought it was very well done. It kept me interested until the very end, and while the person behind the murder wasn't a big surprise to me (I did figure it out before the person was ultimately revealed), it still was a jaw dropper when everything comes to light. Alexandra Monir has always known how to weave a good mystery and this book is certainly no exception. I love her writing, and her novels are the perfect length. The story is fast-paced and extremely well written (especially since it's dual POV). If you're already a fan of Alexandra, then this book is for definitely for you! 

The story is told for 2 perspectives, Nicole, the shy girl who is a brilliant musician, and Lana, the queen-bee who's not so nice and gets everything she wants. I thought that Alexandra wrote the dual POV very well, and the stark contrast in their personalities really drove the story forward. When secrets come out, and Nicole becomes "The Girl in the Picture" everyone turns against her. However, it was nice to see that her mom played a major role in supporting Nicole. It's refreshing when the parent actually plays a role in the story, and helped her avoid making mistakes that could have irrevocably changed her life. Both characters are extremely well-developed, and I felt that we knew both girls very well by the end of the story. 

The one thing that I didn't like though was the love triangle. I didn't think it served a purpose at all and wasn't really needed. I thought it was going to play a much bigger role in the murder in the end, but it didn't. I would have been perfectly fine with how much focus was placed on the love triangle if it did actually end up being the answer to everything. Another thing that slightly bothered me was the ending. I thought it was a bit rushed and it was a bit too easy for the truth to be revealed. 

Overall, The Girl in the Picture was a solid story that had well-developed characters and an intriguing mystery that keeps the reader interested. There is a paranormal element (just like all of her books) which added a thrill to the story but it didn't distract from the plot in any way. While it wasn't everything I wanted, I would still recommend checking it out especially for fans of psychological thrillers and suspense novels.



Happy reading :)

~Cassie