Thoughtless by S.C. Stephens

This book should come with a warning label that says, “WARNING: This book will make you f***ing crazy!” I’ve never had such a physical reaction to a novel before. This book was a rollercoaster ride and I felt every high and every low.

13517535For almost two years now, Kiera’s boyfriend, Denny, has been everything she’s ever wanted: loving, tender and endlessly devoted to her. When they head off to a new city to start their lives together, Denny at his dream job and Kiera at a top-notch university, everything seems perfect. Then an unforeseen obligation forces the happy couple apart.

Feeling lonely, confused, and in need of comfort, Kiera turns to an unexpected source—a local rock star named Kellan Kyle. At first, he’s purely a friend that she can lean on, but as her loneliness grows, so does their relationship. And then one night everything changes…and none of them will ever be the same.

Thoughtless by S.C. Stephens has been on my TBR list for a while now. I picked it up on a whim during a road trip. (I literally made my husband get off on an exit so I could find Wi-Fi to download a book.) The title of this book is perfect. The main character, Kiera, was completely and utterly thoughtless throughout the entire story. She was initially so relatable but as the story went on I flip-flopped between love and hate.

Her relationship with Denny was perfect. They were so great together. He was hot and they had bangin’ chemistry and they were just so cute. I think that’s what made this book so hard to read. As Kiera’s feelings for Kellan grew, Denny was still there, her rock, a boy who’s in love with her. If he was a jerk it would have been easier to cheer for Kiera and the scandalous but hot interactions with Kellan to continue. I was literally in pain over this situation. I was so enthralled and involved that I had to continually remind myself that Kiera was the one cheating, not me!

With that said, Kellan was so swoon-worthy. A bad boy rock star with a secret pain that made him the way he is. I couldn’t help but understand why Kiera would want him. My only issue was she let the lying go on too long. If she knew she didn’t want to be with Denny, she should have just been honest. Now I know it seems like I’m ruining the book but it’s so obvious from the beginning what’s going to happen that Denny never stood a chance. Plus, the ending is a bit of a shocker and I can only describe it as miserable.

This book was almost packaged too perfectly by having an explanation for everything either character did. There was an answer for everything which almost made it seem less real because life is generally full of loose ends.

I’m still not sure how I feel about this book because I feel like I’ve just been through an affair and a break-up. I guess that can be a testament to how great this book was since I could connect with it on such a deep level, but it made me crazy so I’m only giving it three stars. I couldn’t think about anything else and, quite honestly, it made me miserable. I will be reading the next book, Effortless, but I think I need a breather before I can dive back into the world of Kiera.

STARS: 3 out of 5

Venom by Fiona Paul

Venom by Fiona Paul has always been on my radar, and when I was able to pick it up cheap, I decided to give it a go.

9999795Cassandra Caravello is one of Renaissance Venice’s lucky elite: with elegant gowns, sparkling jewels, her own lady’s maid, and a wealthy fiancé, she has everything a girl could desire. Yet ever since her parents’ death, Cassandra has felt trapped, alone in a city of water, where the dark and labyrinthine canals whisper of escape.

When Cass stumbles upon a murdered woman—practically in her own backyard—she’s drawn into a dangerous world of courtesans, killers, and secret societies. Soon, she finds herself falling for Falco, a mysterious artist with a mischievous grin… and a spectacular skill for trouble. Can Cassandra find the murderer, before he finds her? And will she stay true to her fiancé, or succumb to her uncontrollable feelings for Falco?

Beauty, love, romance, and mystery weave together in a stunning novel that’s as seductive and surprising as the city of Venice itself.

The two things I loved most about this story was the setting and the mysterious plot. It’s set in renaissance Venice and includes murder! I loved the descriptions of the architecture and the gondola rides, and I’m always a sucker for stories about girls oppressed by their position in society that get to wear fabulous clothes. If only I could wear something like that today! Cassandra was a very likable character. She’s a free spirit with a sense of adventure but still knows what is right and wrong. Falco was so endearing. He was dark, sensual which made him dangerous but he’s really just a sweetheart trying to find his way in the world. Throughout the book, I questioned some of Cassandra’s decisions but each one led to some exicting plot point so I guess it’s justified.

The only thing that didn’t sit well with me was how the plot seemed pieced together, like it was a few stories put into one. By the end of the book, the plot was so incredibly different than what the beginning portrayed, and the problem with that was the story didn’t lead into it as well as I would have liked. I was also a bit disappointed in the ending. There was all of this momentum and it ended in a fizzle. I understand this is the first book in a series, but it was obvious that the author was trying to end it so that she could write a second book.

Regardless, I really enjoyed this story. There was a lot of excitement and romance. It didn’t completely blow me away but I’ll be reading the next book, Belladonna, which comes out on July 16, 2013. I have high hopes this sequel will really solidfy this series as a winner.

STARS: 3 out of 5

Lover At Last by J.R. Ward

This is going to be epic –my only thought as I cracked open the 11th book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series, Lover At Last by J.R. Ward. This 591-page behemoth has got to be the longest book yet. It’s no wonder because this book not only (finally) offers the story of Blay and Qhinn, it expands this story by three additional plotlines. The world of the brotherhood is about to be an entire galaxy.

13570854Qhuinn, son of no one, is used to being on his own. Disavowed from his bloodline, shunned by the aristocracy, he has finally found an identity as one of the most brutal fighters in the war against the Lessening Society. But his life is not complete. Even as the prospect of having a family of his own seems to be within reach, he is empty on the inside, his heart given to another….

Blay, after years of unrequited love, has moved on from his feelings for Qhuinn. And it’s about time: The male has found his perfect match in a Chosen female, and they are going to have a young—just as Qhuinn has always wanted for himself. It’s hard to see the new couple together, but building your life around a pipe dream is just a heartbreak waiting to happen. As he’s learned firsthand.

Fate seems to have taken these vampire soldiers in different directions… but as the battle over the race’s throne intensifies, and new players on the scene in Caldwell create mortal danger for the Brotherhood, Qhuinn finally learns the true definition of courage, and two hearts who are meant to be together… finally become one.

It’s been awhile since I’ve read Ward, so it was so refreshing to hear her witty, crass tone jump off the page. Ward is badass. period. She’s really outdone herself with this one. Not only is she tackling one of the first mainstream romances about (gasp!) two males, but she’s expanding the world surrounding the brothers three-fold. Ward not only delivers fresh, new characters but she revisits practically everyone– Wrath, Beth, Rhage, Thor, Z, V, Rehv, Hhex, John Matthew, Fitz, Butch…all of them! Practically everyone gets their own cameo in this book and I loved seeing everybody. What’s amazing is her characters are so diverse and unique that you can tell every single one of her characters apart. They all have their own pasts and personalities that lead them to different but similar futures. I love living in her world.

Ward writes with such unforgiving honesty that I envy her ability to just create, no judgment, no holding back–just an ass-kicking good time. (Side note: There was one thing that stuck out to me this time around. Ward references so many modern-day things, which I like because I can see what she’s talking about, but 20 years from now the reader won’t be able to understand “Mayhem” from Allstate is a comical character on an insurance commercial from the early twenty-teens. Sometimes it’s just a little too much, no matter, I enjoyed the crap out of it anyway.) I’m amazed that she keeps building and building her series and I don’t want it to ever end.

Now to the good stuff, Blay and Qhinn. This relationship was a loooong time coming. I thought the story itself was good. There was a lot of drama between the two because they couldn’t be honest with each other but the emotions just added to the sexual tension. And Ward does not hold back on the love scenes in this book. They are as dark and sexy as ever. However, between Qhinn and Blay I was more fascinated with the subject matter than turned on. It didn’t really do anything for me but I’m so, so glad they got their happily ever after. (They LITERALLY got a happily ever after people.)

One thing that surprised me was the additional storylines that were created in this book. We only get to see Blay and Qhinn half the time. We get to see the stories of Xcor, Trez and Assail unfold–complete with sexual tension of the heterosexual variety. (A good call on Ward’s part to play to what some of us ladies need to see to get our fix.) I loved the potential for another book with each of these characters. I would be lying if I said that I didn’t want Xcor and Layla to be together because I do, for like forever. One of their scenes was so sweet and hot at the same time I thought I was going to spontaneously combust!

There is also a lot of action in this book. Between the Band of Bastards and the Lessers there’s a lot of political intrigue and ass-kicking. My favorite part of the whole book was the plane scene with Qhinn and Zhadist. I was practically in tears. There is just so much I could say about this book. It was truly, truly epic and I cannot wait to read more. Some people feel like Ward should wrap this series up but I could keep reading for many, many years to come.

The next book in the series, The King, comes out in 2014. This one will be about Wrath and Beth coming full circle back to the characters from book 1. Perhaps that’s why she changed up the title by not including the word “lover.” Regardless of the name, I will most definitely be devouring this next installment.

STARS: 5 out of 5

Prey by Andrew Fukuda

I loved the originality and excitement in The Hunt by Andrew Fukuda; the sequel, The Prey, is just as original and exciting but it takes a very strange turn.

14740456For Gene and the remaining humans—or hepers—death is just a heartbeat away. On the run and hunted by society, they must find a way to survive in The Vast… and avoid the hungry predators tracking them in the dark. But they’re not the only things following Gene. He’s haunted by the girl he left behind and his burgeoning feelings for Sissy, the human girl at his side.

When they discover a refuge of exiled humans living high in the mountains, Gene and his friends think they’re finally safe. Led by a group of intensely secretive elders, the civilization begins to raise more questions than answers. A strict code of behavior is the rule, harsh punishments are meted out, young men are nowhere to be found—and Gene begins to wonder if the world they’ve entered is just as evil as the one they left behind. As life at the refuge grows more perilous, he and Sissy only grow closer. In an increasingly violent world, all they have is each other… if they can only stay alive.

The Prey starts off where The Hunt left off, with Gene and his human (or should I say heper?) friends running (or should I say floating?) for their lives down the river. Fukuda delivers another suspense-filled installment to this series. I felt the palpable fear of being discovered and devoured by clicking, snarling vampires!

The dynamic between Gene, who’s hidden his ‘humanity’ his entire life, with the rest of the group really added to the story. Gene had to learn to let go, smile, laugh, cry. He always has it together and it keeps him separated from the group because he doesn’t show his human side. It was fun to see his perspective on their actions. He was so wary of their screaming and dancing, something we don’t even think twice about.

Their escape takes them to this place, this paradise. All is not what it seems, and here’s where the story gets weird. It was really hard to read about the group falling into this trap. It’s obviously this creepy cult thing, and I wanted to kick and scream at their stupidity for allowing themselves to get into that kind of situation. Run, just RUN! That was probably my biggest frustration with this book. However, Fukuda reveals the genius to his plot. All of these answers and secrets are coming to light and the group has to decide what to do. And the ending! I couldn’t believe it!

Again, I’m impressed with Fukuda’s amazing skills. The writing was impeccable and the story was well thought out. This book was a bit bizarre and I found myself fading out, but with the ending, I found myself with a renewed vigor for this series. The last book in the trilogy, The Trap, will be out on November 5, 2013. I’ll be checking it out to see how Gene and the gang (hopefully) survive.

STARS: 3.5 out of 5