Here Lies Love by Dan Thompson

I received a copy of Dan Thompson’s Here Lies Love in exchange for an honest review. I was honored to be part of his cover reveal back in January, so I was excited to get a chance to read it!

Here Lies Love Promo CoverWould death be less painful than life?

When she is sold by her father, Abbey discovers that nightmares can occur when you’re awake. Trapped inside a wooden cage, Abbey is forced to listen to the horrors and atrocities above; time ticking down until it is her turn. But Abbey isn’t prepared to become a victim; she will escape.

Although, what Abbey isn’t prepared for, is how harsh and unfair the world can be. With the sun turning its back on humanity long ago, life gives no opportunity. The only thing Abbey can do is learn to survive. To exist. And that means stealing any opportunity that comes her way. Haunted by the unpleasant memories bestowed upon her only nurtures Abbey’s paranoia, until she realises that to truly live in the world, she must confront the person who was responsible for her misfortune – her father.

Here Lies Love is a New Adult tale of actuality, of facing up to the fact that love comes in many guises. Can Abbey find the one glimmer of hope or will she be overcome with the darkness of revenge?

This is going to be a tough review to write.  I was really excited to read this story once I read the synopsis but I feel like my expectations were too high.

This is the story of Abbey, her escape from confinement, a pit stop sleepover with two boys and a revenge-filled adventure back to her father. This is a controversial story; it covers some sensitive subjects, such as rape and suicide. The writing was great and the plot was brilliant, but something just didn’t connect.

I couldn’t relate to Abbey. Her emotions were all over the place and there were wild swings in her personality. She went from survivor to suicidal, from shy to vengeful. I couldn’t figure out who she was. I really enjoyed Tristan and Ryan. I felt their voices were genuine and their characters were a bit better fleshed out. They showed a better range of human emotion, and compared to Abbey, they didn’t carry the same kind of madness inside them. I found both men rather intriguing and wanted to know more about them and their survival, more so than continuing Abbey’s story.

I feel like this story was two books in one. In the beginning, she is trying to escape and undergoes unspeakable torment, but the story doesn’t take off until Abbey meets Tristan and Ryan. I feel like her time in captivity could have been better explained through flashbacks, similar to the story of how she was sold by her father. Even though there was a lot of action in the beginning, there was a noticeable shift once she gets free, like an entirely new story with an entirely new set of characters. There was a disconnect there. I wanted it to be one cohesive story, where it was either the first part or the second half, but not both.

The world-building was well done and I loved the science behind what caused the sun to go away.  Plus, the writing was great, but it didn’t fit the story. The main character can’t read; she’s uneducated and because the world had gone to pot, a lot of history was lost. With this characteristic, it made no sense that she used words such as “callous” and “uncouth” in conversation. The whole narrative around her was well-worded and what I’d call “literary,” but it didn’t fit the descriptions of the main character. In this case, the author overwrote this story and for whatever reason, I couldn’t get past it. The writing distracted me from the story to the point that I didn’t want to read it, no matter how exciting the plot.

In the end, there were some parts I really enjoyed but I kept getting distracted by things that caused me to disconnect from the story, whether it was the writing style or the main character’s personality. Here Lies Love comes out on June 28, 2014.

STARS: 2 out of 5

Thanks to Dan Thompson for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

My #UtopYA2014 Experience

Last weekend, I attended the UtopYA Conference in Nashville, Tenn. for the first time. It was the most amazing experience! I don’t even know where to start!

Me at UtopYA2014!

Me at UtopYA2014!

UtopYA is a conference for authors, writers, bloggers and readers for the Young Adult/New Adult genre. But whatever you are, you will come out inspired. I made a goal to attend some kind of book event this year; UtopYA was it and I’m so glad I picked it!

I was so nervous and intimidated the first day. Everywhere I turned, there were aspiring writers and published authors. I couldn’t help but be timid when I explained I was just a humble blogger. Everyone was so nice, though. By the end of the weekend, I felt like, I too, could write a novel if I just tried!

At the book signing with Sylvia Day!

At the book signing with Sylvia Day!

This year’s speakers were Sylvia Day, author of the steamy crossfire series (one of my all-time favs!), and Gennifer Albin, author of Crewel. Can I just say that Sylvia Day is a badass!? I loved her. Her speech was filled with good advice, encouraging words for writers but also business savvy for females in the workforce. I wanted to jump up and yell “Preach, sister!” She was so amazing! Gennifer Albin had a very touching story about how she got published and won major points with me when she mentioned the 18th century work, “Pamela.” (I totally know what you meant! Thanks to my 18th Century Studies grad class, I have a soft spot for 18th century novels.)

Author Gennifer Albin during her speech at #utopya2014.

Author Gennifer Albin during her speech at #utopya2014.

The best part of the whole event was the books. I was in book heaven!! I brought a lot of books to get signed but I brought even more home with me. (I went a bit over my budget, but Shh! don’t tell my hubby. It was a book emergency!) All of them signed by the authors who wrote them. The next best thing? The authors! It was crazy to see the people behind some of my favorite characters. They are unbelievably talented!

I pretty much embarrassed myself when I met Quinn Loftis, author of the Grey Wolves series (Read it, people! It’s awesome!). I was totally fangirling. She was the sweetest thing and I bought the most awesome Tshirt that says, “Keep calm and listen to your inner Jen.” Love it!

Author Quinn Loftis and me holding my new tshirt!

Author Quinn Loftis and me holding my new tshirt!

I also got to meet Chelsea Fine, author of the Archers of

Me and Author Chelsea Fine!

Me and Author Chelsea Fine!

Avalon series. She is beautiful, inside and out! I met so many authors — too many to mention here. I also met a lot of wonderful aspiring writers, and I will most definitely buy their work once it gets published. (And it will get published! Don’t be afraid to pursue your dreams!)

While at UtopYA, I went to a lot of awesome panels, where I got to see the authors I love talk about interesting topics surrounding the publishing industry and writing. My main takeaway from the experience, from a blogger point of view, is my approach to bad reviews. As readers, it’s easy to say how much you just “hated” something. But when someone poured their heart and soul into it, we, as reviewers, need to be critical but sensitive, honest but analytical. Don’t just say you hated it, tell us why. I’ve always felt this way about reviewing. I don’t know if it’s my journalism background, but it’s important to give criticism not spread hatred. It was great to see that feeling affirmed by other writers. Now I’ll just be a lot more conscious of how I share my thoughts. I’m also a lot more informed on the Indie v. Traditional publishing. We, as readers, have the power to boost these authors’ careers (especially indie authors!). We need to buy their books and spread the word! Blogging has always been about sharing my thoughts with other readers, but my eyes have been opened to the marketing aspect of the publishing industry. My day job is working in Public Relations, so I can’t believe I haven’t seen it before, but it reaffirms the purpose and importance of the blogging community. Plus, we all do this because we love it, and if you love a book/author, spread that love!

The weekend was so much fun and I’m absolutely exhausted. (It’s been a week and I’m still recovering!) I’d like to thank my friend Courtney for coming with me. (I totally begged her to come!) I have a huge stack of books to read and another stack of signed books that will be carefully displayed. As Sylvia Day says, “These books aren’t for reading.” I can’t wait until next year’s conference. I’m on such a book high, I may just give this writing a novel thing a shot, but for now I’m going to curl up with a good book and escape — it’s what I do best.

 

Releases and Recommendations: The Young Elites by Marie Lu

It’s Tuesday! The wonderful day that books are released to the world! Today, I’m anticipating the release of The Young Elites by Marie Lu, which comes out Tuesday, October 7.

17984141I am tired of being used, hurt, and cast aside.

Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood fever. A decade ago, the deadly illness swept through her nation. Most of the infected perished, while many of the children who survived were left with strange markings. Adelina’s black hair turned silver, her lashes went pale, and now she has only a jagged scar where her left eye once was. Her cruel father believes she is a malfetto, an abomination, ruining their family’s good name and standing in the way of their fortune. But some of the fever’s survivors are rumored to possess more than just scars—they are believed to have mysterious and powerful gifts, and though their identities remain secret, they have come to be called the Young Elites.

Teren Santoro works for the king. As Leader of the Inquisition Axis, it is his job to seek out the Young Elites, to destroy them before they destroy the nation. He believes the Young Elites to be dangerous and vengeful, but it’s Teren who may possess the darkest secret of all.

Enzo Valenciano is a member of the Dagger Society. This secret sect of Young Elites seeks out others like them before the Inquisition Axis can. But when the Daggers find Adelina, they discover someone with powers like they’ve never seen.

Adelina wants to believe Enzo is on her side, and that Teren is the true enemy. But the lives of these three will collide in unexpected ways, as each fights a very different and personal battle. But of one thing they are all certain: Adelina has abilities that shouldn’t belong in this world. A vengeful blackness in her heart. And a desire to destroy all who dare to cross her.

It is my turn to use. My turn to hurt.

I really enjoyed Marie Lu’s Legend series, so I’m looking forward to what she has to offer next. This book looks like it’ll have a very strong heroine and a love triangle — two of my favorite things. 🙂 It also sounds like it’ll be action-packed and suspenseful. I’m really looking forward to this one.

ARC:The Millionaire Affair by Jessica Lemmon

I recently saw 50 Shades the Musical (It was hilarious but too insulting to the book to really enjoy.) and left me needing a 50 shades fix. When I saw The Millionaire Affair on NetGalley, I hoped it would be just the thing. I definitely enjoyed the book but it wasn’t what I expected.

18453467LOVE IS A DEAL BREAKER . . .

Millionaire ad executive Landon Downey has a policy: no romantic relationships allowed. So when he’s saddled with his six-year-old nephew for a week, he doesn’t think twice about asking Kimber Reynolds to act as live-in nanny. What he doesn’t expect is the undeniable attraction to the woman he hasn’t seen since they were kids. And not only does she like him back-she suggests they work their way down a list of extracurricular activities in the bedroom. How can he resist?

Kimber wants to prove once and for all that she can love ’em and leave ’em with the best of them. All she has to do is keep her sixteen-year crush on Landon out of the equation. No problem . . . until she realizes she may not be the only one whose heart has gotten completely tangled up in their no-strings agreement.

Unlike the expected “millionaire” storyline, this book was romantic and sweet without anything outrageous. There was nothing crazy about it despite the “list” of sexual experiences that they decide to complete together. This romance had depth and sincere characters with none of the over the top personalities or wild expectations. It was a love story of two misguided individuals who took a chance on love.

Landon and Kimber were such an endearing couple and even though the story was predictable (what romance isn’t?), I enjoyed every minute of it. There were a few laugh out loud moments and others that had me blushing and giggling. This book was tons of fun to read.

A unique aspect of this story was the love scenes. Although there is plenty of lovemaking, it wasn’t the typical double/triple simultaneous orgasms. There were many scenes that “faded to black” and alluded to what happened. This was refreshing since it was more realistic, and the author didn’t fall into the trap of the same sex scene over and over again. With that said, I wish the top ten list of things to do together was a bit crazier or more drawn out. They basically finish the list in two days and with things like “talk in bed” it wasn’t as exciting as I had hoped.

Overall, I enjoyed this book and since it’s the third book in a series, I’m looking forward to catching up with the first two. I’m giving this book five stars because I really enjoyed it but I’m realizing lately that I rank based on genre not of “All Time.” I guess what I’m saying is you’ll really enjoy it as a light, romantic read, but it won’t make your top ten of all time list. The Millionaire Affair comes out of June 24.

Thank you NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review!

STARS: 5 out of 5

Last Second Chance by Caisey Quinn

Last Second Chance by Caisey Quinn had me from the first page. Literally. The author’s note in the beginning practically had me in tears because this book is about addiction. The personal connection with the author really set the stage for this book.

20723588When Stella Jo Chandler gets an offer to work at the Second Chance Ranch celebrity rehab facility right after graduating from Texas A&M, she’s tempted to turn it down. She wants to help real people with real problems, not spoiled celebrities going on vacation for publicity. But growing up on her family’s ranch left her with a love of horses that draws her to the opportunity. How bad can babysitting a bunch of strung out celebrities be?

What she didn’t count on was being roped into a tangled mess with infamous rocker and three-time rehab drop out Van Ransom on her first day. And she sure didn’t expect to feel the overwhelming attraction that pulls her to the man who has more issues than she can count on both hands. Like the hotel rooms and tour buses he’s famous for trashing, the havoc he could wreak on Stella’s heart would be irreparable.

Van isn’t at Second Chance for publicity or because he’s suffering from “exhaustion”. He’s on the brink of destruction, and he needs the kind of help Stella isn’t sure she can give. But without her, he’ll lose everything. Because he’s on his last second chance.

This is one of those typical bad boy falls for good girl plots and it was very well done. I enjoyed the Texas vibe with the horses and the southern influences. This story alternates between two perspectives, Stella and Van’s. I really enjoyed seeing the story from both sides. It adds the anticipation and expectation, which heats up the romance.

I’m torn on how I feel about the main protagonist, Stella Jo. She was a strong individual with ambition but she made questionable decisions. However, those decisions led to hot and steamy events with the recovering addict Van Ransom, which I enjoyed. Those scenes were certainly exciting and with the added “forbidden” component, since Stella couldn’t be involved with a patient, it raised the stakes.

I really enjoyed the depth behind each character in this book. Stella had her issues with her parents and Van was haunted by his dark past. I liked how they came together to heal each other. However, I found the truth behind Stella’s past strange to say the least and Van’s ability to just stop drugs cold turkey a bit far-fetched. I was expecting a relapse to add some tension to the story.

Overall, if you don’t take the story too seriously, it was definitely enjoyable and easy to get lost in. It doesn’t really sound like I liked it but I did. This book had everything you’d expect from a great New Adult book. Last Second Chance was released on May 6 and is the first in a series. I will be keeping my eye out for more books by Caisey Quinn.

STARS: 4 out of 5

 

Crewel by Ginnifer Albin

Crewel by Ginnifer Albin was the last book on my #UtopYA2014 reading list. Unfortunately, it didn’t live up to my expectations.

11556960Incapable. Awkward. Artless.
That’s what the other girls whisper behind her back. But sixteen-year-old Adelice Lewys has a secret: She wants to fail.

Gifted with the ability to weave time with matter, she’s exactly what the Guild is looking for, and in the world of Arras, being chosen to work the looms is everything a girl could want. It means privilege, eternal beauty, and being something other than a secretary. It also means the power to manipulate the very fabric of reality. But if controlling what people eat, where they live, and how many children they have is the price of having it all, Adelice isn’t interested.

Not that her feelings matter, because she slipped and used her hidden talent for a moment. Now she has one hour to eat her mom’s overcooked pot roast. One hour to listen to her sister’s academy gossip and laugh at her dad’s jokes. One hour to pretend everything’s okay. And one hour to escape.

Because tonight, they’ll come for her.

Once I turned the last page of Crewel, I was speechless because I couldn’t believe I didn’t like it. I mean, it had everything I usually go for: a dystopian, a love triangle, the whole works. But once the story was over, I didn’t care to continue. I didn’t wonder about the characters or their futures. I literally went over to my large TBR pile and picked up another book in the hopes that I could feel something from another story. And maybe that’s it. I didn’t emotionally respond to Albin’s tale, despite the fact that the main character’s parents were dead and her sister held captive.

I really enjoyed the creative aspect of the story with the time-weaving and the dystopian world-building. However, the weaving went way over my head at times and I found myself skipping entire sections of description. The plot itself was interesting but the plot twists were so obvious you could see them coming a mile away. The biggest issue I had with this story was the relationship dynamics. The main character’s relationship with various characters was so confusing. Who’s supposed to be the best friend? The enemy? The love interest? I think in an effort to muddle the obvious plot twists, the author tried to make the status of each character mysterious but I was just left confused. It was like the main character had interactions with all these characters but didn’t care either way how she felt about them.

By the end of the novel, I was a bit disappointed that the author went “there.” I don’t want to ruin the plot for anyone but it was incredibly predictable. I found my mind wandering many times while reading which usually indicates I’m not feeling it. So I’m going to end with that. I just wasn’t feeling it and there are many other better dystopians out there in the YA genre so I can’t bring myself to recommend this book.

STARS: 2 out of 5

Releases and Recommendations: Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas

It’s Tuesday! The wonderful day that books are released to the world!

Today, I’m anticipating the release of Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass #3) by Sarah J. Maas, which will be released on Tuesday, September 2.

20613470Lost and broken, Celaena Sardothien’s only thought is to avenge the savage death of her dearest friend: as the King of Adarlan’s Assassin, she is bound to serve this tyrant, but he will pay for what he did. Any hope Celaena has of destroying the king lies in answers to be found in Wendlyn. Sacrificing his future, Chaol, the Captain of the King’s Guard, has sent Celaena there to protect her, but her darkest demons lay in that same place. If she can overcome them, she will be Adarlan’s biggest threat – and his own toughest enemy.

While Celaena learns of her true destiny, and the eyes of Erilea are on Wendlyn, a brutal and beastly force is preparing to take to the skies. Will Celaena find the strength not only to win her own battles, but to fight a war that could pit her loyalties to her own people against those she has grown to love?

I am sooo in love with this series. Throne of Glass was kick ass! I’m in love with Celaena and Chaol’s story. I can’t wait to see how it all turns out. Plus, this cover is absolutely gorgeous!