Thursday, October 2, 2014

Sideswiped (Off The Map #2) by Lia Riley

Sideswiped (Off the Map, #2)Series: Off The Map
Publication: October 7, 2014
By: Grand Central/Forever 
Amazon | Goodreads 
4 Stars

It was only meant to last the summer . . .

Talia Stolfi has seen more than her share of loss in her twenty-one years. But then fate brought her Bran Lockhart, and her dark world was suddenly and spectacularly illuminated. So if being with Bran means leaving her colorless NorCal life for rugged and wild Australia, then that’s what she’ll do. But as much as Talia longs to give herself over completely to a new beginning, the fears of her past are still lurking in the shadows.

Bran Lockhart knows that living without the beautiful girl who stole his heart will be torment, so he’ll take whatever time with her he can. But even though she has packed up her life in California and is back in his arms for the time being, she can’t stay forever. And the remaining time they have together is ticking by way too fast. Though fate seems determined to tear them apart, they won’t give up without a fight—because while time may have limits, their love is infinite ... 


 *I received this eARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*
**This book is recommended for readers ages 18+**


 Can we just take a moment to appreciate the pretty that IS this cover?

I really enjoyed Upside Down, Book One in the Off The Map series, and would have been totally fine if Talia and Bran's story had ended there. But it didn't. And I started to get nervous. 

So much so, I began bugging Author Megan Erickson every few days like, 

"Have you read it yet?"

"Have you?" 

"HAVE YOU?!!" 



I was pretty sure Megan was going to "un-me" all over the internet, or throat punch me the next time she saw me. She didn't, thank goodness, but that probably had more to do with the chocolate peanut butter cupcakes I waved under her nose than anything else.
  
So, WHY was I nervous about reading SIDESWIPED?  Well, because most second books involve breaking up the couple we grew to love in the first book. In this case, Bran and Talia, or "Branalia" or "Talian". Take your pick. I felt like these two had already been through the ringer and truth be told, I didn't think my feels would be able to handle it. 

Whereas UPSIDE DOWN was really more Talia's story, SIDESWIPED is Bran's. We're still treated to alternating POVs, but we get to see what makes Brandon Lockhart tick, tock, and freak the hella out. He and Talia are both forced to face their fears and for Bran, it's like history repeating itself. For Talia, it's taking chances and living without regrets. And for both of them it's about having faith and believing that the love they share really is the "real deal." 

Bran's behavior frustrated me at times, and rightly so. I wanted to tell him to grow the cupcake up, while simultaneously wrapping him in a hug and reassuring him that everything was going to be okay. I understood why he was acting the way he was, but it didn't make it any easier to watch. Talia really comes into her own strength in this book. The choices and decisions she has to make are hard, but they're also representative of what a real-life relationship looks like. 

SIDESWIPED is gritty, painful and heart-wrenching at times, but there is hope as well.

What Left Me Wanting More: There were a few spots that felt rushed to me, but not enough to dissuade me from the story as a whole. It does have a bit of a cliffhanger in that a "decision" is made but we won't get to see how it plays out until the next book. 

Final Verdict: Great addition to the OFF THE MAP series! 


  

 ~About the Author~

Lia Riley Lia Riley writes offbeat New Adult Romance. After studying at the University of Montana-Missoula, she scoured the world armed only with a backpack, overconfidence and a terrible sense of direction. She counts shooting vodka with a Ukranian mechanic in Antarctica, sipping yerba mate with gauchos in Chile and swilling XXXX with stationhands in Outback Australia among her accomplishments.

A British literature fanatic at heart, Lia considers Mr. Darcy and Edward Rochester as her fictional boyfriends. Her very patient husband doesn't mind. Much. When not torturing heroes (because c'mon, who doesn't love a good tortured hero?), Lia herds unruly chickens, camps, beach combs, daydreams about future books, wades through a mile-high TBR pile and schemes yet another trip. Right now, Icelandic hot springs and Scottish castles sound mighty fine.


She and her family live mostly in Northern California.



Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Whatever Life Throws At You by Julie Cross

Whatever Life Throws at YouPublication: October 7, 2014
By: Entangled Teen 
Amazon | Goodreads
5 Stars!

Life loves a good curveball…

Seventeen-year-old Annie Lucas's life is completely upended the moment her dad returns to the major leagues as the new pitching coach for the Kansas City Royals. Now she's living in Missouri (too cold), attending an all-girls school (no boys), and navigating the strange world of professional sports. But Annie has dreams of her own—most of which involve placing first at every track meet…and one starring the Royals' super-hot rookie pitcher.

But nineteen-year-old Jason Brody is completely, utterly, and totally off-limits. Besides, her dad would kill them both several times over. Not to mention Brody has something of a past, and his fan club is filled with C-cupped models, not smart-mouthed high school “brats” who can run the pants off every player on the team. Annie has enough on her plate without taking their friendship to the next level. The last thing she should be doing is falling in love.

But baseball isn't just a game. It's life. And sometimes, it can break your heart…


*I received this eARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

What I LOVED: When I was asked to consider reading, Whatever Life Throws At You, I had recently finished several books that were heavy on the angst and light on the kissing. I needed something different to cleanse my reader palate. Something that was not only an engaging story with strong-willed, relateable characters who made me swoon, but something with humor and heart. Whatever Life Throws At You was just the "something" I was looking for!
  
Annie and Jason go from being frenemies of sorts to something more, but theirs is not a simple romance. They have his reputation to contend with along with the age difference which seems to be a bigger issue than necessary. (She's almost eighteen and he's barely out of his teens.) Not to mention her dad is his boss. Both Jason and Annie's father have a lot riding on his (Jason's) success as a pitcher and the backlash from their relationship could be disastrous for everyone. 

The family dynamic is unique, entertaining and a little bit heartbreaking, but made me smile more often than not. And I liked watching Annie and Jason work through their insecurities as well as the consequences of their actions. I'm not a big sport's fan, so any inaccuracies there may have been with the baseball element didn't make or break this story for me. 
 
What Left Me Wanting More: The ecopy I had did not include the epilogue and despite being happy with the way things ended, I'm still curious about it. 

Final Verdict:  "An irresistible story about family, first love and following your heart."

 





Tuesday, September 30, 2014

REVIEW + INTERVIEW: In Your Dreams by Kristan Higgins

In Your Dreams (Blue Heron #4)Series: Blue Heron #4
Author: Kristan Higgins
Publication: September 30, 2014
By: Harlequin HQN
Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | Goodreads
5 STARS!

Emmaline Neal needs a date. Just a date—someone to help her get through her ex-fiancĂ©'s wedding without losing her mind. But pickings are slim in Manningsport, New York, population 715. In fact, there's really only one option: local heartthrob Jack Holland. Everyone loves Jack, and he won't get the wrong idea…. After all, Jack Holland would never actually be interested in a woman like Em. Especially not with his beautiful ex-wife creeping around, angling to reunite ever since he rescued a group of teens and became a local hero.

But when the wedding festivities take an unexpectedly passionate turn, Em figures it was just one crazy night. Jack is too gorgeous, too popular, to ever end up with her. So why is she the one he can talk to about his deep, dark feelings? If Em is going to get her dream man, she'll have to start by believing in him…



*I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*


Thank you Little Bird Publicity and Harlequin for this ARC! Kristan Higgins is on my short list of "AutoRead" authors and her Blue Heron Series is one of my favorites!

There are really only two things you need to know about this book:

1) Jack Holland
Who I imagine looks a little like this with his blue blue eyes.
Photo: Pinterest



2) And chocolate cake.
Photo: Jenuine Cupcakes

Okay, so maybe there are a few other things you should know...like how Kristan Higgins continues to give readers a relateable female MC and a compelling story about family, friendship and fresh starts, all while sprinkling in copious amounts of humor, face-fanning romance and tons of swoon.

 In Your Dreams is witty, romantic and so much fun! 

Read it.


~ AUTHOR INTERVIEW ~

I'm so glad you could join me today, Kristan! 

I'm a big fan of your books, especially your Blue Heron series, and IN YOUR DREAMS was fantastic! I may have baked and eaten some chocolate cupcakes after I finished reading it. :)
Thank you, Jen! I hear you, girlfriend. I ate more than my fair share of chocolate cake during this book myself.

 
How many books do you have planned in total for the series? 


I think I’m going to end it with five. 



How do you decide which character's story to tell and when? 

Ever since Colleen O’Rourke walked into the kitchen of her bar to annoy her twin brother, I’ve been wanting to write Connor’s book. <-- I would LOVE to read Connor's book!


What is your research process like, do you do a lot of it online or do you prefer to experience it first hand? For example, did you go to one of those health retreat places and subject yourself to no caffeine, sugar or chocolate?
Actually, I go to the retreat houses that have buffets of sugar, caffeine and chocolate. Those other places sound like prison, if you ask me.

I love to experience things firsthand and talk to people who have the same jobs as my characters. I visit every location I write about so I can pick up the local flavor, and I try to learn as much as I can about the different issues and subjects in my books. I’d never just slap out a doctor, for example, without really researching what that type of doctor does (Grey’s Anatomy, I’m looking at you. Since when does a plastic surgeon get to perform brain surgery?).


Of all of your Blue Heron characters, who has been your favorite to write and why? (My favorite is still Levi.)
Aw, thanks! Levi…yeah. He’s pretty great. It was fun to write a guy who was both wonderful and a pain the butt, too. I loved the bromance part of that book. But as I’m typing this, I really want to say Emmaline, the heroine of IN YOUR DREAMS. She’s had a lot of strikes against her—her stutter, her weird, hovering parents, being dumped by her fiancĂ©—but she’s made a great life for herself, and I admire her so much. She’s someone I’d want to hang out with, you know? And that scene at the pool during the wedding of the damned…I just loved her so much there!




What is the last book you read and could not put down?

Sherry Thomas’s My Beautiful Enemy. I read it on a plane and practically ordered the pilot to circle my airport till I was finished.

I ask all of my blog guests this one...brownies, cupcakes or pie? 


Yes, please! (It’s cupcakes! Of course it’s cupcakes!)

Thank you so much Kristan!
A pleasure! Thanks for having me!

Monday, September 29, 2014

My True Love Gave To Me by Stephanie Perkins (& Friends)

My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories
Author(s): Stephanie Perkins, Rainbow Rowell, David Levithan, Holly Black , Kelly Link, Gayle Forman, Myra McEntireKiersten White, Mathew de la Pena, Jenny Han, Ally Carter , Laini Taylor 




If you love holiday stories, holiday movies, made-for-TV-holiday specials, holiday episodes of your favorite sitcoms and, especially, if you love holiday anthologies, you’re going to fall in love with MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME: TWELVE HOLIDAY STORIES by twelve bestselling young adult writers, edited by international bestselling author Stephanie Perkins.








*I received this eARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

This was a really cute read that offered a good selection of diversity both in authors and short stories. It's a great palate cleanser, especially if you're in between books and puts you in the holiday spirit too!

I enjoyed quite a few of these stories; Rainbow Rowell's, Kiersten White's, Myra McEntire, and Stephanie Perkins'. But my favorite by far was, "Star of Bethlehem" by Ally Carter. I laughed out loud, got a little misty-eyed, and swooned, but I was wearing a big stupid grin on my face when it was over which is all that matters.


Favorite Quote(s): "Right!" I agreed. "Some places there are twelve, but where I live there are nine because...the other three died because they forgot their shoes." 

Saturday, September 27, 2014

BLOG TOUR: Stay With Me by Jennifer L. Armentrout


Welcome to Jenuine Cupcakes, this is my stop on the Stay With Me blog tour which is being hosted by Ink Slinger PR!



Stay with Me (Wait for You, #3)
Series: Wait For You #3
Publication: September 23, 2014
By: William Morrow PB 
5 Stars!

At 21, Calla hasn’t done a lot of things. She’s never been kissed, never seen the ocean, never gone to an amusement park. But growing up, she witnessed some things no child ever should. She still carries the physical and emotional scars of living with a strung-out mother, Mona—secrets she keeps from everyone, including her close circle of college friends.

But the safe cocoon Calla has carefully built is shattered when she discovers her mom has stolen her college money and run up a huge credit card debt in her name. Now, Calla has to go back to the small town she thought she'd left behind and clean up her mom’s mess again. Of course, when she arrives at her mother’s bar, Mona is nowhere to be found. Instead, six feet of hotness named Jackson James is pouring drinks and keeping the place humming.

Sexy and intense, Jax is in Calla’s business from the moment they meet, giving her a job and helping her search for Mona. And the way he looks at her makes it clear he wants to get horizontal . . . and maybe something more. Before Calla can let him get close, though, she’s got to deal with the pain of the past—and some very bad guys out to mess her up if she doesn’t give them her mom.




Whenever I see one of Jennifer L. Armentrout's covers, I feel the urge to do this... 

Photo credit: Hannah McBride
And like STAY WITH ME, this maneuver involved a mystery (standing on a chair in the Harper Collins booth during BEA), thrills (I almost fell) and suspense (I was wearing a dress...). 
People stared, but it was totally worth it.

 It's no secret that I am a HUGE fan of the WAIT FOR YOU series. 

My lurve affair began with Cam, continued with my fictional cousin, Jase, and crazy but loveable, Ollie, and now Jax, has joined the others on my: JLA Book Boys Who Deserve Their Own Barbies Action Figures shelf.
(Seriously, somebody should get on that. I'm looking at you, William Morrow.)


Ten Reasons You Want To Read STAY WITH ME

1) Hot.Guy.Brigade.

2) Because I said so. 

3) No, really. If you like your romantic suspense with a side of mystery, a dash of thriller and a heaping dose of steam, then STAY WITH ME is the book for you. 

4) This one is unique in that it takes a detour off of the college campus. The change of setting was refreshing and showed another side to the "new adult" life.

5) The mystery/suspense element made it interesting and kept me turning the pages well into the night. 

6) Calla's strength. This girl has been through the ringer, y'all, with the scars to prove it. And while it would be easy (and understandable) if she was bitter and angry, she isn't. Any attempt to close herself off from the world around her gets blowns to bits when she meets Jax.

7) Once again, Armentrout gives a hero who is tall, dark and full of heart-melting, toe-curling, swoon-worthy goodness. Jax is a former Marine. (Yes, please!) He's protective, trustworthy and caring. But mess with his sleepy-time and he'll make you pay. 

(Mostly in kisses and cuddles.)

8) Katie. You never know what's going to come out of her mouth when she breezes into the bar, but you can bet it will be a little bit crazy and a whole lot entertaining. This girl CRACKED ME UP!

9) Cameos! I always enjoy seeing characters from previous books in a series and STAY WITH ME is no different. The tension between Roxie and Reece was intriguing and gives a glimpse of what's to come in the series. 

And last, but certainly not least...

10) Did I mention this guy was the inspiration for Jax? 







Jennifer L. Armentrout/J.Lynn Bio:

# 1 NEW YORK TIMES and USA TODAY Bestselling author Jennifer lives in Martinsburg, West Virginia. All the rumors you’ve heard about her state aren’t true. When she’s not hard at work writing. she spends her time reading, working out, watching really bad zombie movies, pretending to write, and hanging out with her husband and her Jack Russell Loki.

Her dreams of becoming an author started in algebra class, where she spent most of her time writing short stories….which explains her dismal grades in math. 
Jennifer writes young adult paranormal, science fiction, fantasy, and contemporary romance. She is published with Spencer Hill Press, Entangled Teen and Brazen, Disney/Hyperion and Harlequin Teen. Her book Obsidian has been optioned for a major motion picture and her Covenant Series has been optioned for TV.

She also writes adult and New Adult romance under the name J. Lynn. She is published by Entangled Brazen and HarperCollins.









Stay With Me Review Tour Schedule

September 16


September 17


September 18


September 19


September 20


September 21


September 22


September 23


September 24


September 25


September 26


September 27


September 28


September 29


September 30




Thursday, September 25, 2014

BLOG TOUR: The Clockwork Dagger by Beth Cato

Hello & welcome to THE CLOCKWORK DAGGER blog tour. I'm so thrilled to be on the tour. Check out today's post below & be sure to enter to win!


Published by: Harper Voyager
To Be Released on: September 16th, 2014
Add it to Goodreads
Get it From: Amazon | B&N


Book Blurb:
An extremely fun and very commercial fantasy debut, in the bestselling vein of Trudi Canavan and Gail Carriger. THE CLOCKWORK DAGGER is an enchanting fantasy debut about a young healer with incredible powers setting off on her first mission, when a series of strange occurrences (including murder) rock the airship she is traveling on. But the dashingly attractive steward may be one of the infamous Clockwork Dagger assassins, her cabin-mate hides secrets, and the conspiracy may reach the crown itself.

Praise for The Clockwork Dagger
“The Clockwork Dagger was just what I needed: A steampunk adventure with an uncommon heroine, a fascinating magic system, and a young gremlin! I’m hooked and can’t wait for more Octavia and Leaf!”
—New York Times bestselling author Kevin Hearne

About the Author:


Beth Cato resides in the outskirts of Phoenix, AZ. Her husband Jason, son Nicholas, and crazy cat keep her busy, but she still manages to squeeze in time for writing and other activities that help preserve her sanity. She is originally from Hanford, CA, a lovely city often pungent with cow manure.

Giveaway:


Enter to win a copy of THE CLOCKWORK DAGGER, complete with a gorgeous black-and-gold paper parasol, for your very own steampunk adventures and cosplays (seen above)!

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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

BOOK PROMO + GIVEAWAY: Can't Let You Go by Jenny B. Jones

Can't Let You Go (Katie Parker Productions #4*) by Jenny B. Jones 

*This is part of a series BUT can be read as a stand alone. 
Published: September 20th 2014 
 By: Sweet Pea Productions 

Can't Let You Go (Katie Parker Productions, #4)
An old love whose kisses make her weak, but whose secrets threaten to destroy all she holds dear...
 
Fresh out of college, Katie Parker had it all—a charming romance, a role in a famous stage production, and an idyllic life in London. Until she found her boyfriend cheating and got herself fired from the play. Leaving everything behind, Katie hops a plane home, only to run into her first love, Charlie Benson. As the couple returns to In Between, Katie questions everything she ever thought she wanted—including a renewed romance with her high school flame.

 
While she attempts to rebuild her life, Katie's plan to manage the family’s theater meets a devastating obstacle, dragging her into a legal battle that will rock her small town. And the boy who once broke her heart seems to have the power to do it again. As Charlie’s secrets unravel, Katie must make a choice. Can she overcome her past and trust Charlie with her heart again?

 
~ What Are People Saying About Can't Let You Go?~
"It's the best book I've ever read."
-Jenny's Mom

"So good, I didn't want to yak on it."
-Jenny's cat

"I felt like the lead character hogged the show."
-Mad Maxine Dayberry


~Where Can I Get This Book?~
Amazon |BN.com| iTunes | Google Play


~ Follow Jenny B. Jones ~


  

~ GIVEAWAY ~ 

1 ebook (Nook or Kindle) copy of Can't Let You Go by Jenny B. Jones.
Must be 13 years old to enter.
 
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