Mini-Reviews in anticipation of UTOPiAcon 2017

This week, I’m going to UTOPiAcon in Nashville with my best friend. I’ve been to this conference before in 2014 and had a blast. I’m looking forward to another weekend of fun and spending way too much money on books.

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There’s going to be a variety of indie authors there, and I’m always on the hunt for my next favorite read. Plus, I’m always down to support an indie author. In anticipation of my trip, I picked up books to try from the list of authors attending. (Ya know, so I can fangirl when I meet them.)

Here’s what I’ve read so far…

#Nerd by Cambria Hebert

23493256Two people from completely different worlds are about to be thrown together…

In more ways than one.

She wants to keep her scholarship. He wants to stay on the team. An awkward alliance doesn’t even begin to cover Rimmel and Romeo’s relationship.

But that’s about to change.

It starts with a dare. An initiation. A challenge.

Quickly, it turns into more. But when you’re a victim of your status, there is no room for anything real. The rules are clear and simple.

Stick to your circle.

And never fall in love with anyone on the outside.

This book was so cute! Yes, it was the typical hot jock falls for nerd because of a bet trope, but it was so well done. I was laughing, swooning and pretty much grinning from ear-to-ear while reading.

VERDICT: Read it if you like sweet contemporary romance. I’ll definitely be reading more from this author.

The Opposite of You by Rachel Higginson

33932353I’ve sworn off men.

All men.

Famous last words, right? You’re expecting some epic tale of reluctant love and my dramatic change of heart? Well, you’re not going to get it.

I’m stubborn. And headstrong. And I’ve just survived the worst three years of my life. After escaping an abusive boyfriend to live in hostels and cheap hotels while I worked my way across Europe, I’ve come to two conclusions.

The first? Now that I’m back home, I’m going to squander my expensive culinary degree on a food truck that caters to the late night drunk crowd.

The second? I’m going to prove to the bastard across the plaza that my street food is better than his fussy five course monstrosities.

Killian Quinn might be Food and Wine’s Chef to Watch Out For. He might have a Michelin Star. He might have every food critic in the city wrapped around his too-large fingers. But he’s also pretentious and unbearably arrogant and the very opposite of me.

So he can keep his unsolicited advice and his late night visits and his cocky smiles. I want none of it. Or him.

I want the opposite.

The Opposite of You was an unexpected surprise. This is an enemies-to-lovers romance, and they hold out from admitting their feelings to each other for a very long time. However, there is plenty of anticipation-building, witty banter between Vera and the hot chef. The star of this book, however, is the food. There is so much emphasis on cooking, recipes and eating.  I was hungry the entire time I was reading.

VERDICT: Very enjoyable. It dragged out a little too long but I was ready to gobble this couple up once they were baked juuuust right.

Nine Minutes by Beth Flynn

23253863On May 15, 1975, fifteen-year-old Ginny Lemon is abducted from a convenience store in Fort Lauderdale by a member of one of the most notorious and brutal motorcycle gangs in South Florida.

From that moment on, her life is forever changed. She gets a new name, a new identity and a new life in the midst of the gang’s base on the edge of the Florida Everglades—a frightening, rough and violent world much like the swamps themselves, where everyone has an alias and loyalty is tantamount to survival.

And at the center of it all is the gang’s leader, Grizz: massive, ruggedly handsome, terrifying and somehow, when it comes to Ginny, tender. She becomes his obsession and the one true love of his life.

So begins a tale of emotional obsession and manipulation, of a young woman ripped from everything she knows and forced to lean on the one person who provides attention, affection and care: her captor. Precocious and intelligent, but still very much a teenager, Ginny struggles to adapt to her existence, initially fighting and then coming to terms with her captivity.

Will she be rescued? Will she escape? Will she get out alive—or get out at all? Part psychological thriller, part coming-of-age novel, filled with mystery, romance and unexpected turns, Nine Minutes takes readers into the world of one motorcycle gang and inside the heart of a young girl, whose abduction brought about its fall.

This book messed me up! It was like an intoxicating drug — super harmful but very addicting. I’m still reeling from all the feels. Look for a full review later on, but I both loved and hated this book. I’m pretty sure I should join a support group. Let me know if you know of one.

VERDICT: Read it, but beware of the major heart-wrenching side effects.

Badd Motherf*cker by Jasinda Wilder

32333456Your wedding day is supposed to be the happiest day of your life, right? That’s what they say, at least. I went into that day hoping I’d get the happiest day of my life. What I got? The worst. I mean, you really can’t get any worse of a day without someone actually dying.

So…I may have gotten just a little drunk, and maybe just a tad impetuous…

And landed myself in a dive bar somewhere in Alaska, alone, still in my wedding dress, half-wasted and heart-broken.

***
Eight brothers, one bar.

Sounds like the beginning to a bad joke, yeah?

I kinda think so.

Wanna hear another joke? A girl walks into a bar, soaking wet and wearing a wedding dress.

I knew I shouldn’t have touched her. She was hammered, for one thing, and heartbroken for another. I’ve chased enough tail to know better. That kinda thing only leads to clinginess, and a clingy female is the last thing on this earth I need.

I got a bar needs running, and only me to run it—at least until my seven wayward brothers decide to show their asses up…

Then this chick walks in, fine as hell, wearing a soaked wedding dress that leaves little enough to the imagination—and I’ve got a hell of an imagination.

I knew I shouldn’t have touched her. Not so much as a finger, not even innocently.

But I did.

This book is exactly what you’d expect it to be based on the title and cover. It’s a hot and sexy romance with an alpha male and fiery heroine. I was thoroughly entertained but it was kinda cookie cutter, in my humble opinion. HOWEVER, this series follows a family of brothers, who are incredibly diverse on the hot spectrum — from brainy, boy-next-door to tatted and dangerous.

VERDICT: If you’re looking for an alpha male fix, try this. I’m looking forward to reading about the different brothers, and I’m hoping to see growth in the writing and originality of plot.

Making Faces by Amy Harmon

27237358Ambrose Young was beautiful. He was tall and muscular, with hair that touched his shoulders and eyes that burned right through you. The kind of beautiful that graced the covers of romance novels, and Fern Taylor would know. She’d been reading them since she was thirteen. But maybe because he was so beautiful he was never someone Fern thought she could have…until he wasn’t beautiful anymore.

Making Faces is the story of a small town where five young men go off to war, and only one comes back. It is the story of loss. Collective loss, individual loss, loss of beauty, loss of life, loss of identity. It is the tale of one girl’s love for a broken boy, and a wounded warrior’s love for an unremarkable girl. This is a story of friendship that overcomes heartache, heroism that defies the common definitions, and a modern tale of Beauty and the Beast where we discover that there is little beauty and a little beast in all of us.

Amy Harmon is going to be speaking at the conference, and I have a lot of her books but I’ve never read them. I started with Making Faces, but I have to be honest, I couldn’t finish it. I DNF’ed it at 40%. It was sooooo slow and boring. Her characters had depth but it was like watching a National Geographic documentary. It’s good to know but is it necessary to tell me every little detail? I’ve struggled with this because I’ve read so many good reviews. I WANT to like her and this book had so much promise from the premise. If you have any insight, let me know. Otherwise, I digress.

VERDICT: Didn’t finish it. Maybe she’s just not my cup of tea?

This is Falling by Ginger Scott

22756190First, I had to remember how to breathe. Then, I had to learn how to survive. Two years, three months and sixteen days had passed since I was the Rowe Stanton from before, since tragedy stole my youth and my heart went along with it.

When I left for college, I put a thousand miles between my future and my past. I’d made a choice—I was going to cross back to the other side, to live with the living. I just didn’t know how.

And then I met Nate Preeter.

An All-American baseball player, Nate wasn’t supposed to notice a ghost-of-a-girl like me. But he did. He shouldn’t want to know my name. But he did. And when he learned my secret and saw the scars it left behind, he was supposed to run. But he didn’t.

My heart was dead, and I was never supposed to belong to anyone. But Nate Preeter had me feeling, and he made me want to be his. He showed me everything I was missing.

And then he showed me how to fall.

Gah! I LOVE Ginger Scott! She’s becoming one of my auto-buy authors. She writes the best kind of sports romance with realistic characters that face hard life challenges and obstacles. This was such a sweet romance. It was endearing and made me laugh, but watching Rowe struggle was heart-breaking. It was so well done!

VERDICT: Read it! Read EVERYTHING by Ginger Scott. I know I will.

My Official #UTOPYA2014 Reading List

Earlier this year, I wrote a list of bookish resolutions. One of which was to attend some kind of book event, so this year I’ll be attending UtopYA Con 2014 in Nashville, Tenn.!!takeme2014This is my first time at this event or any book event really, so I am ecstatic and excited to finally meet authors and go to a book signing. It really will be a dream come true! Not only does it help me meet one of my goals, but Sylvia Day, who wrote the Crossfire series and is one of my favorite authors, will be there as a speaker!! It’ll be in June and if you’re interested in going you can find info at Utopyacon.com. In preparation for all the author meeting and book signing, I have created an official reading list of the authors I haven’t read yet to get me acquainted with their work. There are a lot of authors coming so I looked through all the books and selected the ones I liked the most based on the synopsis. I also tried to narrow it down to ten so I have time to read them in three short months.

1.Anew by Chelsea Fine

12875436Two years ago, Scarlet awoke in the forest alone, afraid, and unable to remember anything. Lost and confused, her life was a mystery…until she met a boy with a familiar voice.

Gabriel Archer has a voice from her past, and Scarlet’s determined to remember why. She immerses herself in his life only to discover he has a brother he’s kept hidden from her: Tristan Archer.

Upon meeting Tristan, Scarlet’s world becomes even more muddled. While she’s instinctively drawn to Gabriel, she’s impossibly drawn to Tristan–and confused out of her mind. As she tries to piece together her history Scarlet realizes her past…might just be the death of her.

I have had my eye on this author for a looong time but I’ve never gotten around to reading her stuff. All I know is that this series is amazing and I need to read it.

2.Inescapable by Amy Bartol

12925063My name is Evie Claremont and this was to be the making of me–my freshman year of college. I’d been hoping that once I’d arrived on Crestwood’s campus, the nightmare that I’ve been having would go away. It hasn’t.
I may be an inexperienced seventeen-year-old, but I’m grounded…sane. I look for rational explanations to even the strangest circumstances. Since meeting sophomore Reed Wellington, however, nothing makes any sense. Whenever he’s near, I feel an attraction to him–a magnetic kind of force pulling me towards him. I know what you’re thinking…that sounds fairly awesome. Yeah, it would be…if he liked me, but Reed acts as if I’m the worst thing that has ever happened to Crestwood…or him. But get this, for some reason every time I turn around he’s there, barging into my life.
What is the secret that he’s keeping from me? I’m hoping that it’s anything but what I suspect: that he’s not exactly normal…and neither am I. So, maybe Crestwood won’t be the making of me, but it could be the breaking of me. I’ve been left to wonder if the dark future my dream is foretelling is…inescapable.

This New Adult title sounds awesome with a love/hate connection. I’m sold!

3.Prince of Wolves by Quinn Loftis

11947156Jacque Pierce was just an ordinary 17-year-old girl getting ready to start her senior year in high school in Coldspring, Texas. When a mysterious foreign exchange student from Romania moves in across the street, Jacque and her two best friends, Sally and Jen, don’t realize the last two weeks of their summer are going to get a lot more interesting.

From the moment Jacque sets eyes on Fane she feels an instant connection, a pull like a moth to a flame. Little does she know that the flame she is drawn to is actually a Canis lupis, werewolf, and she just happens to be his mate; the other half of his soul.

The problem is Fane is not the only wolf in Coldspring, Texas.

Just as Fane and Jacque are getting to know each other, another wolf steps out to try and claim Jacque as his mate. Fane will now have to fight for the right to complete the mating bond, something that is his right by birth but is being denied him by a crazed Alpha. Will the love Fane has for Jacque be enough to give him the strength to defeat his enemy, will Jacque accept that she is Fane’s mate and complete the bond between them?

I love werewolves and this story sounds like it includes this love triangle/bonded mate thing, which is totally my kind of thing!

4.Shattered Promises by Jessica Sorenson

17166774For twenty-one year-old Gemma, life has never been normal. She knows nothing about her past and has been haunted by the same monsters in her nightmares for the last few months.  Unemotional and numb to life, she feels disconnected from everyone. Until the very first day she cries. After that, nothing in her life is the same.
Her emotions slowly surface and she starts experiencing love, happiness, and anger, feelings she never knew existed. But they leave her confused and she doesn’t know whether to embrace them or run away from them.
Her life only gets more complicated when she meets Alex. Sexy, arrogant, and secretive, Alex can get under Gemma’s skin like no one can. Yet she’s drawn to him by an invisible connection she has no control over. She’s also seen him before. In her nightmares.
Every part of Gemma’s mind is screaming at her to stay away from Alex, but every other part of her is begging to get close to him. But the closer she gets, the more she realizes Alex knows more about her than he originally let on.
As secrets about her past unravel, Gemma’s life becomes threatened. She needs to figure out what’s going on, before she winds up dead. But the only person she can turn to for answers is the one person she isn’t sure she can trust.

This sexy title includes monsters and nightmares. Another New Adult title I can’t wait to try.

5. The One by Heather Self

13564744Stranded on Earth two thousand years they’ve waited for the arrival of the One: some to save her, others to kill her. With her birth, the ancient prophecy could at last be fulfilled and the doorway between the worlds would open. Those who know the prophecy believe this event occurred almost eighteen years ago, and now, they’ll stop at nothing to find her.

Seventeen-year-old Eveline has lived her entire life on the move and she hates it. She knows her parents believe she’s the One, and they’ve done whatever it takes to stay one step ahead of those who want her dead. But Eveline isn’t fully convinced that her parents’ beliefs match her own. What she does believe is that Leadville, Colorado may be the chance she’s been waiting for. The chance to be somewhere safe. The chance for her to make friends and have fun. The chance to finally date a guy. The chance to be a normal girl, at least as normal as possible for someone not human.

With a combination of fantasy and science fiction, this book sounds exciting. Plus, Heather Self is like my homophone last name twin. I had to give her a try.

6. Jordyn by Tiffany King

17225270Hand to hand combat training: Check
Cardio and strength training: Check
Daemon hunting: Check
Anomaly: Check

Check, check, check, check…That’s all my life is. There’s nothing ordinary about me. I’m “special.” I know this because I’m reminded of it every stinking day. I can kick a Daemon’s ass with both hands tied behind my back. I can run up a mountain without breaking a sweat. Know what I can’t do? Get guys to notice me, or hang out with friends like normal people do. I can’t just be ordinary because I have an Arch Angel for a mentor who is always breathing down my neck, and a family of angelic Guides and Protectors who scrutinize every little thing I do. Just for a day I want a life where I’m no longer some anomaly, where I don’t have to feel like a lab rat.

And then I met Emrys. Okay, so my mentor and family hate him, but probably for good reason. After-all, he is a Soul Trader, and they aren’t the most trust worthy beings. But, he is sooo hot with his green eyes, leather jacket and the sexiest tattoo you’ve ever seen running down his back. And-he doesn’t treat me like a project.

I’ve got myself in quite a little quandary here. Choosing between my responsibilities and the Trader that holds my heart is something I didn’t sign up for. Torn between two different worlds, I must now decide who to trust and who to walk away from. What’s a girl to do? See what I mean? I am an anomaly. I am Jordyn.

This book is right up my alley, with soul traders and combat training. I’m all over this love/hate relationship. Plus, I hope there is lots of action.

7.The Modified by C.A. Kunz

15986049What would you sacrifice to save the one’s you love? To save the one who holds your heart? To save the world?

Kenley Grayson is all too familiar with these questions.

After Earth is thrust into its first intergalactic war with an unknown race called the Bringers, our military forces begin to suffer heavy losses. Desperate for a solution, the Allied Federation issues a worldwide draft for every able seventeen year old to enlist. As Kenley turns seventeen, she finds herself thrown into the very war that took her older brother’s life.

This year’s draft is a little different than in the past though. A new program, known as the Magnus Project, has been introduced, and only the best and brightest qualify. Kenley is amongst a select few whom are chosen to join this elite group of soldiers, and as a part of this project, undergoes a modification procedure that leaves her and her peers endowed with powers beyond their wildest dreams.

As Earth continues in its struggle against the Bringers, Kenley is transported to a high-tech training facility, the Magnus Academy, to prepare for the major battle that lies ahead. It’s here that she meets the California heartthrob, and son of a legendary war hero, Landon Shaw. As unexpected feelings toward Landon begin to develop, Kenley wonders if this is the right time or place for romance to bloom, especially when those feelings start to interfere with her training.

With the weight of the world on her shoulders, Kenley is constantly reminded of how important she and the rest of the Magnus cadets are to the fate of humanity. She is one of the Modified, Earth’s last line of defense against utter destruction.

Alien Invasion? Draft of teenagers to save the world? Hells yeah!

8.Madly by M. Leighton

12039404Madly is your average nearly-eighteen year old girl—for a princess, that is.

Madly James is thoroughly enjoying her internship in the small town of Slumber when the unthinkable happens—there’s a prison break in Atlas, the magically-protected home of Madly’s race.   A traitor has set free eight Lore, the spirits of what humans know as fairy tales, and they are making their way to Slumber to awaken their descendants.

In order to save her home, the lives of her family, and all of humanity, Madly must learn to wield her exceptional powers and recapture the Lore before it’s too late and all is lost.  But Madly’s only help are her two best friends and the Sentinel, Jackson Hamilton, that threatens both her heart and her destiny.  Madly has loved Jackson as long as she can remember, but he is the one thing even a princess can’t have.  Can she resist love to become the queen she was fated to be?  Or can she find a way to have both?

This novelette introduces you to Madly and prepares you for the quest of a lifetime.

This book has a princess and a traitor, a prison break and magic powers. Yes, please.

9. Shooting Stars by H.D. Gordon

18349596Surah Stormsong is one of the most powerful Sorceresses in the world. She is a princess who is next in line for the throne. As someone who has lost almost everything to this world, she only wants to pull away from it and live a normal life, but when Highborn ladies start being murdered and the Black Stone-a weapon that is capable of great destruction-goes missing, she is called upon to solve the issues and return her people to a state of safety. But danger lurks inside the castle walls as well, and when she runs into Charlie Redmine, a common Sorcerer Surah met once as a child, things grow complicated very quickly. He is the main suspect of the murders, but Surah is powerless against the connection she feels to him. Time is ticking, and if she doesn’t figure out what’s going on things will go from bad to worse, and an entire kingdom will suffer for it. From the author of the bestselling series, The Alexa Montgomery Saga, comes a tale of star-crossed lovers and magic, of hope and love and loss. The greatest question is, can love overcome all?

This book has a freakin’ tiger on the front. I don’t have to read the synopsis to know I want to read it.

10. Ephemeral by Addison Moore

13745675The last thing Laken Stewart remembers is the oncoming car, then bursting through the windshield.

Two months dissolve without her knowledge and she finds herself in unfamiliar surroundings with strangers who not only profess to know her but insist she’s someone else entirely.

Laken discovers her long dead boyfriend, Wesley, has been thrown into this alternate world as well. He is quick to inform her she suffered a horrible fall and that her memory hasn’t fully returned. According to Wesley the other life she had—her name, her family, they were simply a side effect of her brain trauma.

In her quest for answers she meets Cooper Flanders, the son of her psychiatrist who readily believes every word she says.

Laken Stewart knows she died on that hot July afternoon, but now she’s alive—or is she?

This book has an alternate world where people think she is someone else. I’m definitely intrigued!

11. Crewel by Gennifer Albin

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.

This book has time weaving, plus the author will be a speaker so I’m super pumped to read her stuff.

There are my top 11. Hopefully, I can read them all on top of all the other books I want to read. Now don’t forget about Sylvia Day (I’m so excited she’ll be there!), Tammy Blackwell, and C.J. Redwine among others that I’ve already read. Basically, I am just so flippin’ excited! June can’t come soon enough!