The Hard Count by Ginger Scott

The Hard Count by Ginger Scott is the first book I’ve read from this author, and right off the bat, I was struck by how detailed and intimate the writing was. It was like I was right. There. This let me connect with the main characters on an emotional level fairly quickly.

30304059Nico Medina’s world is eleven miles away from mine. During the day, it’s a place where doors are open—where homes are lived in, and neighbors love. But when the sun sets, it becomes a place where young boys are afraid, where eyes watch from idling cars that hide in the shadows and wicked smoke flows from pipes.

West End is the kind of place that people survive. It buries them—one at a time, one way or another. And when Nico was a little boy, his mom always told him to run.

I’m Reagan Prescott—coach’s daughter, sister to the prodigal son, daughter in the perfect family.
Life on top.
My world is the ugly one. Private school politics and one of the best high school football programs in the country can break even the toughest souls. Our darkness plays out in whispers and rumors, and money and status trump all. I would know—I’ve watched it kill my family slowly, strangling us for years.

In our twisted world, a boy from West End is the only shining light.
I hated him before I needed him.
I fell for him fast.
I loved him when it was almost too late.

When two ugly worlds collide, even the strongest fall. But my world…it hasn’t met the boy from West End.

Another aspect of the writing that struck me right away was the meticulously detailed sports scenes. Football is a huge piece of this story as Reagan captures it on film and Nico attempts to pursue his dream as a starting quarterback. As a football fan in real life, I was impressed at how specific the football scenes were, down to the details of each individual play of the game. I’ve never read a sports romance with so much attention on the game itself. I found it upped the ante and made the story more exciting.

This story was very emotional. It was built on the give and take of people’s emotions whether it’s how the daughter feels about her father or brother or potential love interest. There’s a particularly moving and heart-breaking scene toward the end that had me in tears. It’s been awhile since a novel made me cry. Seeing, or reading rather, a guy completely lose it will do that to a girl.

The underlying theme of racism and “class-ism” was an intriguing element of the story. There were times that I thought it was a bit much or too cliché with the diverse boy dating a white girl in a prejudice private school setting. However, it’s a cliché for a reason and I enjoyed the way the author used this stereotype to complete her story. It reminded me a lot of Simone Elkeles Perfect Chemistry series.

STARS: 4 out of 5


Releases and Recommendations: Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller

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

Today, I’m anticipating the release of Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller, which will be released Tuesday, February 28, 2017.


A 17-year-old pirate captain intentionally allows herself to get captured by enemy pirates in this thrilling YA adventure.

If you want something done right . . .

When the ruthless pirate king learns of a legendary treasure map hidden on an enemy ship, his daughter, Alosa, knows there’s only one pirate for the job—herself. Leaving behind her beloved ship and crew, Alosa deliberately facilitates her own kidnapping to ensure her passage on the ship, confident in her ability to overcome any obstacle. After all, who’s going to suspect a seventeen-year-old girl locked in a cell? Then she meets the (surprisingly perceptive and unfairly attractive) first mate, Riden, who is charged with finding out all her secrets. Now it’s down to a battle of wits and will . . . . Can Alosa find the map and escape before Riden figures out her plan?

Debut author Tricia Levenseller blends action, adventure, romance, and a little bit of magic into a thrilling YA pirate tale.

It’s been awhile since I’ve read a pirate tale and this one looks very intriguing. The daughter of a pirate king staging a kidnapping in pursuit of treasure? Count me in.

Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas

I don’t know how to start this review.

Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas is the fifth book in the Throne of Glass series. When I first started this series, I never would have guessed it would have grown to such epic proportions. SJM does YA fantasy like no one else. Her characters are strong-willed badasses with big hearts deep down, and the setting of Erilea, where they dwell, is diverse and exotic. This series has become such a well-rounded story with multiple plot threads weaving in and out as the story progresses, leaving the reader wanting more and more.

28260587The long path to the throne has only just begun for Aelin Galathynius. Loyalties have been broken and bought, friends have been lost and gained, and those who possess magic find themselves at odds with those who don’t.

As the kingdoms of Erilea fracture around her, enemies must become allies if Aelin is to keep those she loves from falling to the dark forces poised to claim her world. With war looming on all horizons, the only chance for salvation lies in a desperate quest that may mark the end of everything Aelin holds dear.

Aelin’s journey from assassin to queen has entranced millions across the globe, and this fifth installment will leave fans breathless. Will Aelin succeed in keeping her world from splintering, or will it all come crashing down?

I love the characters in this series. Who knew I’d be cheering for the merciless witch Manon Blackbeak? Who knew my heart would squeeze in sympathy for the bloodthirsty fae Lorcan? However, even I knew I’d fall even more in love with Aelin and Rowan. Their relationship went to a whole other level in this book, and because of that, I think this is my favorite book of the series so far. They are so good together. I ship them so hard. They are powerful and beautifully broken. They are vulnerable but hard as steel. Gah! I love them. There are multiple scenes where they each help the other control their power when it gets overwhelming, and I loved those scenes. It brought to the surface their true feelings and revealed hidden parts of themselves.

Other than Aelin and Rowan, there are other secondary characters coupling up and I’m all for it. The tension between Manon and Dorian was off the charts. The desperation and desire between Aedion and Lysandra was practically painful to watch. My heart is too full with wanting…for them to be together…for them to be safe…for them to stay alive despite the horrible obstacles they must overcome in the books to come. And there will be more books (according to goodreads) and I’m both overjoyed to have more to read but full of despair because I must know how this story ends. Now.

Empire of Storms was the best kind of roller coaster. There were tender, character building moments and then action-packed battles where at any moment tragedy could strike. Whether it was a fight scene or a love scene, my heart was pounding just the same. SJM can create the most delicious and torturous tension and anticipation, whether it relate to matters of the heart or the sword. I particularly enjoyed the wyverns and the last minute turn of the tide that “saves” the day. Unfortunately, last minute seems to be the theme in this book and sometimes last minute is too late.

The ending of this book tore my heart out. It just sat there, on the floor, pumping a few times before falling still. (Okay, dramatic much?) The ending was devastating but there is a hope for the future. This book delivers some hard truths that are difficult to swallow and I’m already preparing my half-dead heart for the impact of what may come. (I’m PRAYING that SJM doesn’t go all Divergent on us.)

In the end, SJM can produce a tale of good v. evil in a fantasy setting like no other. Her words are magic and her storytelling is masterful. I love, love, love this series and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

STARS: 5 out of 5

Releases and Recommendations: Crimson Death by LKH

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

Today, I’m anticipating the release of Crimson Death by Laurell K. Hamilton, which is being released TODAY, October 11, 2016.

27836564In her twenty-fifth adventure, vampire hunter and necromancer Anita Blake learns that evil is in the eye of the beholder…

Anita has never seen Damian, her vampire servant, in such a state. The rising sun doesn’t usher in the peaceful death that he desperately needs. Instead, he’s being bombarded with violent nightmares and blood sweats.

And now, with Damian at his most vulnerable, Anita needs him the most. The vampire who created him, who subjected him to centuries of torture, might be losing control, allowing rogue vampires to run wild and break one of their kind’s few strict taboos.

Some say love is a great motivator, but hatred gets the job done, too. And when Anita joins forces with her friend Edward to stop the carnage, Damian will be at their side, even if it means traveling back to the land where all his nightmares spring from…a place that couldn’t be less welcoming to a vampire, an assassin, and a necromancer.


To be perfectly honest, I’m way behind on this series. I’m about three to four books behind, but that doesn’t stop me from anticipating and purchasing the next book in this series. Anita Blake was my first taste of Urban Fantasy. If I’d never picked up that first book in high school, I’d never have discovered dark paranormal. At the time, horror was my thing and the transition from that to Urban Fantasy was easy and perfectly fit my growing literary tastes. Laurell K. Hamilton is one hundred percent my guilty pleasure and I won’t stop reading her until she stops writing (which doesn’t seem like any time soon).

Stinger by Mia Sheridan

Stinger by Mia Sheridan was a heart-wrenching read but that’s what I’ve come to expect from this author.

18138948A full-length, standalone romance from the New York Timesbestselling author of Archer’s Voice.

Grace Hamilton was the girl with a plan. She knew exactly where her life was going and prided herself on always achieving her goals. It was who she was, and how she lived her life. She never stepped outside the lines, and never considered what she might desire and whom she was actually trying so hard to please. Until him . . .

Carson Stinger was a man who didn’t play by any rules except his own. Working in the adult entertainment industry, he didn’t care what others thought, and took each day as it came, no direction, no plan. He knew what women wanted from him and believed it was all he had to offer. Until her . . .

When circumstances forced them to spend several hours together, they walked away changed. But for two people who never should have meshed, overcoming the reality of their vastly different lives wasn’t possible. At least not yet . . .

I have a confession to make. I have a new favorite trope – two people trapped in an elevator.  I know, I know. I can’t help it. Ever since I read Hearts in Darkness, my heart jumps a little when I get on an elevator (and I work on the 10th floor of my building). In Stinger, there are two people who hate each other trapped on an elevator together. The confined quarters and unusually stressful situation leads them to unexpectedly open up, and when one of them is a porn star and the other an uptight attorney, the tension is off the charts.

I listened to the audiobooks version and I’m glad I did for this particular book because at one point Carson Stinger sings and the voice actor did an awesome job. Typically, the voice actor doesn’t sing when there are lyrics but since this was a popular, well-known song it worked.

Once Carson and Grace really get to know each other. I was on board, full head over heels. They had unbelievable chemistry, witty banter and unexpectedly deep conversations. They really got to the core of each other.

The pace of this story is agonizing. The first part is fast-paced, exciting and exhilarating, but then things go awry (as they often do) and then there are…breaks in time. With each chapter, the anticipation of their reunion was tearing me apart, and once they were reunited, additional obstacles created another layer of agony until sweet, sweet relief when the main character comes to her senses.

The story takes place over a number of years and each character grows tremendously from their first meeting until they reunite. I loved that they were each other’s catalyst to make life changes. I really enjoyed this book. The writing was well done and the story takes on a murder-mystery feel towards the end. It felt a little like two books in one but it was all worth it for the happily ever after in the end.

STARS: 4 out of 5

5 Book Quotes That Help Me with Anxiety

giphy-1Reading isn’t so much a hobby for me as it is a lifestyle. It isn’t that I want to read. It’s that I have to read. If I go more than a few days without sticking my nose in a book, I’m going to be a mess — a cranky, stressed-out mess. (Just ask my poor husband.)

There are scientific studies that show the benefits of reading. It can increase intelligence, make you more empathetic, help you relax, and even prevent Alzheimers. There is even a new wave of book therapy called bibliotherapy, where books are subscribed to patients based on their needs to promote healing. If I’m ever going to be diagnosed with a disease, I hope it includes reading as a treatment.

I prefer to read because it’s fun and relaxing, but it’s also stimulating and broadens my horizons. Books — no matter the genre — can have an impact in a reader’s life. That’s why I wanted to share five quotes from novels that have helped me with my anxiety. And (*gasp*) most of them are from romance novels.

1. “Just breathe,” my mom would say, “Ten tiny breaths… Seize them. Feel them. Love them.”  – Ten Tiny Breaths by K.A. Tucker

Ten Tiny Breaths was the first New Adult novel I ever read. It was raw and moving and you can read my review HERE. The idea of taking deep breaths while facing a stressful situation isn’t new. However, when I face real-life difficult situations, I remember Kacey and what she faced and this quote. It reminds me to breathe, truly breathe to get through the moment and move on. If Kacey can survive what she did, I can make it through a tough Monday.

2. “I hate losing, but I don’t allow myself more than ten minutes to dwell on it…”You have ten minutes,” he told me. “Ten minutes to think about what you did wrong and how bad you feel right now. Are you ready?”…”There. It’s over now,” he said. “Now you look forward and figure out how you’re going to get better.” I fucking loved my dad.”The Score by Elle Kennedy

I recently finished The Score, and it’s what inspired this blog post because I thought it was really good advice. Anyone who knows me knows that I have very high standards. And no one is held to a higher standard than myself. It doesn’t matter if it’s in my personal life or professional one. I want to be the best, and sometimes that drive, that ambition, tears me apart. I’m working to be a less stressed, less uptight version of myself and that includes limiting the time I spend beating myself up after a failure. Ten minutes seems to be the perfect amount of time to dwell, brood, sulk and wallow, and when it’s over, it’s time to get on with my life.

3. “I squeeze my eyes shut and try to blink away the pressure behind them. Five things, my father’s voice echoes inside my head. Find five things you can smell, hear, see, and touch. Ground yourself, Sasha.”Reaper by A. Zavarelli

Reaper was an okay story, but I loved this idea of finding five things to ground yourself when fear, anxiety or panic overwhelm you. When the smallest things feel like big things and the ant hills turn into Everests, I remember to find five things to ground myself and it helps me to put things back into perspective. It puts me back in the present, away from my fears of the future or pain of the past. It puts me back in the moment instead of stuck in my own head.

4. “Let go and you will see.”The Dandelion Seed by Joesph Anthony

The Dandelion Seed is my favorite children’s book. I still read it to this day when life gets overwhelming. It’s the story of a Dandelion seed that is afraid to let go and go out into the world…into the unknown of the future. Every time uncertainty clamps down tight on my heart, I remember this book or read through it to remind myself to let go. God is in control and I will see at the end of everything that it will all work out for the best.

5. “Don’t feel bad for one moment about doing what brings you joy.”
A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

For me, anxiety creeps up when I don’t have time for all the things I need to do because I spend time doing things that I love, that I enjoy. This quote from my all-time favorite author and book series (Read my reviews HERE and HERE) helps remind me to never feel bad about that because it does bring me joy. And if SJM said it, it must be true. 🙂

What about you? Any book quotes that help you in life? 

Releases and Recommendations: Goldenhand by Garth Nix

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

Today, I’m anticipating the release of Goldenhand by Garth Nix, which will be released Tuesday, October 11, 2016.

23302838Lirael is no longer a shy Second Assistant Librarian. She is the Abhorsen-in-Waiting, with Dead creatures to battle and Free Magic entities to bind. She’s also a Remembrancer, wielder of the Dark Mirror. Lirael lost one of her hands in the binding of Orannis, but now she has a new hand, one of gilded steel and Charter Magic.

When Lirael finds Nicholas Sayre lying unconscious after being attacked by a hideous Free Magic creature, she uses her powers to save him. But Nicholas is deeply tainted with Free Magic. Fearing it will escape the Charter mark that seals it within his flesh and bones, Lirael seeks help for Nick at her childhood home, the Clayr’s Glacier.

But even as Lirael and Nick return to the Clayr, a young woman named Ferin from the distant North braves the elements and many enemies in a desperate attempt to deliver a message to Lirael from her long-dead mother, Arielle. Ferin brings a dire warning about the Witch with No Face. But who is the Witch, and what is she planning?

Once more a great danger threatens the Old Kingdom, and it must be forestalled not only in the living world, but also in the cold, remorseless river of Death.

Goldenhand is the long-awaited fifth installment of Garth Nix’s New York Times bestselling Old Kingdom series.

I had a mini-heart attack when I found out that Garth Nix was coming out with another book in the Old Kingdom series. I devoured the first three in high school, and even though I don’t remember much about the plot, I remember how much I loved them. Nix’s world was dark and different. I’m really looking forward to delving back into this world.