Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Review: Captive by Brighton Walsh

He’s the most dangerous man she’s ever met…and she’s falling in love with him.

Madison Frost is desperate to escape her life. Daughter of a prominent businessman, she has everything a girl could ask for. Except for a family who’s present in her life, and anyone to talk to outside the four walls of the prison she calls home. Madison dreams of one day leaving her life behind. She never thought being kidnapped is how it would happen.

Now she’s being held captive by a man who’s as frightening as he is sinfully gorgeous. Enormous, muscular, and filled with secrets, the man they call Ghost is an enigmatic mercenary, and Madison is trapped with him. She doesn’t know who hired him or why, but the more time she spends at his mercy, the more she realizes he’s not what he seems. Beneath his rough exterior lies an unexpected gentleness and a heart as broken and battered as her own.

But as Madison lets down her walls, Ghost holds tight to his, hiding secrets that could destroy everything.


4 out of 5 stars

The very second that I heard that Brighton Walsh had a new book coming out, I added it to my to-read list.  There was no doubt in my mind that it would be great and that I would love it and that I would be inundated with swoons and UNFs.

Then I read the synopsis and a teeeeeny tiny little bit of me got worried because I am not generally a fan of  captor/captive story lines.  Okay, so maybe I was a little more than worried.   Maybe I was a lot worried.

But then I remembered that I am a huge fan of Brighton Walsh and that I have thoroughly enjoyed every single things she has written.   And there was no way she would write something squicky.  No way.

So I told that teeny tiny worried voice in the back of my head to get over it and I jumped at the chance to get my hands on an ARC.

Yeah...I was not disappointed.

At first glance, Madison and Ghost seem like polar opposites.  She is a college student that comes from a life of privilege and he is a hired thug that dropped out of high school.  But you know what they say about judging a book by its cover -- don't.   They have more in common than either one of them ever expected.

And without giving anything away, that's when things get interesting.  

At its simplest, yes, Captive is a story where the captive and her captor develop feelings for one another.  That much is true. But once you peel back that first layer, there is soooo much more.  And not one single word of it is squicky.

Definitely give this one a shot.   You'll be glad you did.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Review: Trust the Focus by Megan Erickson

With his college graduation gown expertly pitched into the trash, Justin Akron is ready for the road trip he planned with his best friend Landry— and ready for one last summer of escape from his mother’s controlling grip. Climbing into the Winnebago his father left him, they set out across America in search of the sites his father had captured through the lens of his Nikon.

As an aspiring photographer, Justin can think of no better way to honor his father’s memory than to scatter his ashes at the sites he held sacred. And there’s no one Justin would rather share the experience with more than Landry.

But Justin knows he can’t escape forever. Eventually he’ll have to return home and join his mother’s Senate campaign. Nor can he escape the truth of who he is, and the fact that he’s in love with his out-and-proud travel companion.

Admitting what he wants could hurt his mother’s conservative political career. But with every click of his shutter and every sprinkle of ash, Justin can’t resist Landry’s pull. And when the truth comes into focus, neither is prepared for the secrets the other is hiding.

4 out of 5 stars

I finished this book just over a week ago and thought for sure that as soon as the snow melted and my kids were back in school that I'd sit down and my thoughts on this book would flow.  Because I had all the thoughts and all the feelings and Justin and Landry thawed my frozen book heart.

Yeah...I'm staring at the screen again wishing I could just say "read this book" and you would say "okay" and then you would love it and everybody would be happy.   

It would certainly make writing reviews easier - especially in this case.  Because I have no idea where to start.

I love book boys.  Boys in books.  NA/YA/Adult...I fall for them every time.  Because they are perfect in their own fictional way -- and in this book, THERE ARE TWO OF THEM!!!!   

PLUS, it is a friends to more story which will never lead you wrong.

AND...there is a road trip.

It is like the perfect storm of my favorite things.  

All this even before emotions got involved -- and once the emotional floodgates were opened, I was a lost cause.  This book was everything I want to feel as a reader.  There was humor and snark and romance and unf and fear and loathing and dread and tears and anger and pure love and love and love and love.  I am so afraid that somebody will see this book and be turned off without giving it a chance solely because it is a M/M story -- but that isn't what this story is about.   Finding the inner strength to trust himself, getting beyond the fears, the "rules", the prejudices that have kept him from feeling whole -- THAT was the journey for Justin.

I have a twelve year old who is so worried about what others think that he is afraid to take chances.  There have been instances where I can SEE his desire to let loose and be silly, and yet he doesn't let go because he is afraid to do things "wrong".  And I'm talking about insignificant things -- diving from the blocks during swim team practice, dancing at cotillion, playing soccer.  He is so terrified of being ridiculed that he holds himself back.  Just watching him hold back on the small things makes me want to hug him and I constantly try and figure out ways to make him get past the perceived social constructs of 6th grade.   

I can't even fathom watching somebody I love struggle with the bigger things.  Just reading Justin's -- a FICTIONAL character's -- battle within himself just about broke me.  

Reading Landry's struggles with Justin's struggles -- are you following me, here -- they were almost worse.  His light dimmed with every hesitation and while I knew Justin had to get "there" on his own, I wanted to smack him and make him see what was happening around him.  


Trust the Focus isn't my first Megan Erickson read...but I think it may be my favorite.       

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday -- Favorite Books From The Past Three Years

Each week, The Broke and Bookish host a Top Ten Tuesday based on various bookish topics. Other bloggers are able to participate and post their own top ten list based on the topic.  What a fun way to add new titles to your to-read list!
This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic is a Top Ten Books You Would Classify As ALL TIME Favorite Books From The Past Three Years.

It has been quite a while since I took part in Top Ten Tuesday -- so it makes complete sense that I would choose such a difficult list to mark my return.  Nothing like jumping in with both feet, right?

Here is my Top Ten in no particular order:

Monday, February 23, 2015

Review: Fighting Silence by Aly Martinez


Sound is an abstract concept for most people. We spend our lives blocking out the static in order to focus on what we believe is important. But what if, when the clarity fades into silence, it's the obscure background noise that you would give anything to hold on to?

I've always been a fighter. With parents who barely managed to stay out of jail and two little brothers who narrowly avoided foster care, I became skilled at dodging the punches life threw at me. Growing up, I didn’t have anything I could call my own, but from the moment I met Eliza Reynolds, she was always mine. I became utterly addicted to her and the escape from reality we provided each other. Throughout the years, she had boyfriends and I had girlfriends, but there wasn't a single night that I didn’t hear her voice.

You see, meeting the love of my life at age thirteen was never part of my plan. However, neither was gradually going deaf at the age of twenty-one.

They both happened anyway.

Now, I'm on the ropes during the toughest battles of my life.
Fighting for my career.
Fighting the impending silence.
Fighting for her.

Every night, just before falling asleep, she sighs as a final conscious breath leaves her.

I think that's the sound I'll miss the most.

Each book in this series can be read as a standalone.


5 out of 5 stars

I first became a fan of this author with her Wrecked and Ruined series and when I saw the sign ups for this book, I jumped on the chance to read it.  The books I have read (and reviewed) were all 5 star reads.  I loved the plots, the characters, the way the story flowed off the pages.  I had no doubt that I would enjoy Fighting Silence, but I had no idea that "enjoy" would be a total understatement.

Y' love for this book knows no limits.

Let me put it to you this way...after I finished reading Fighting Silence, I proposed to Aly Martinez.  

She said yes.  And I have the tweets to prove it.

I'm not even sure where to start when it comes to Fighting Silence.   As I've said from the very beginning of my blogging days, I am an emotionally driven reader.  Aly has never let me down in that department, but what I got from Fighting Silence was so much more than I was expecting.  The vulnerability in her added a depth to this story that knocked my socks off.

Till and Eliza.  Maybe it was that their story starts when they are thirteen.  Maybe it is their "apartment".  Maybe it was the fact that they were friends first and foremost.  I don't know how to describe it, but I absolutely fell in love with them as individuals and as a couple.  They make sense, they complement each other, they just work in a way that I celebrated and cried and laughed and fist pumped and unf'd and felt all the feels for them.

I made a comment to another blogger today about how I wasn't sure how to write this review.  How to translate "puffy heart eyes and stupid grins" into coherent thoughts and reasons.  What I should have done was take live actions shots of my face as I read and posted them in chronological order because there were so many cheesy grins and flails and tears...and all of them were integral to the story.  There wasn't a single part of the story that didn't make sense.  It all worked.  It all fit together like this perfect emotional puzzle.

I cannot wait to see where she takes this series.  Till and Eliza...their story ends where it should and I'm content.  But Flint and Quarry - Till's brothers -- they have so much to give and I know Aly will do wonderful things.

I've struggled recently with this blog, not really wanting to read or write reviews and I have seriously considered riding off into the bookish sunset -- but Fighting Silence has reminded me just how much fun it is to get excited about a book and how much fun it is to talk about it.

Thank you, Aly.  I look forward to starting our life together :)


"That wasn't yours to take away," he exploded into the otherwise silent night. His words echoed off the surrounding buildings, each wave slicing me to the quick all over again. "That was our place. Not yours." His voice cracked right alongside my heart.

"Yeah, well, there was a lot of stuff that wasn't yours to take either." I held his gaze, desperately trying to be strong, but as his eyes grew wide, I whimpered.

His long legs strode forward, stopping only inches away from me. He was crowding me, but he still leaned in closer to my face. "There is nothing in this world that was ever more mine than you," he stated. Though it was the absolute truth, I wished with all my heart that it were a lie.

"Till," I cried, swiping the tears from my eyes.

"Why!" he shouted, causing his muscles to tense under the force. "Goddamn it! I needed that place."

Porch lights flashed on from the surrounding apartments, illuminating not only the dark but also my rage.

I shoved my hands into his chest. "What about what I needed? You left! I waited in that fucking apartment for weeks."

He didn't budge, but my bare feet slipped, sending me toward the ground. Impossibly fast, Till's hand snaked out and caught my arm. I didn't let his chivalrous gesture douse my fire. I had six months’ worth of words to say to the man I was irrevocably in love with.

"You took what you wanted. Then you left me."

"Doodle," he whispered.

I had been perilously close to the edge of insanity, and with one single word, he’d pushed me over.

I lost it completely.

Pounding my fists against his chest, I screamed at the top of my lungs, "It's Eliza! My name is fucking Eliza! Not Doodle!" I spun to march away, but Till's arms folded around me, lifting me off my feet to restrain me.

I was miniscule compared to him. There was no use in fighting, but I still kicked my legs, irrationally desperate to get away from him—but only because I knew I couldn't keep him for forever.

"Stop it!" he growled into my ear. "I know your Goddamn name—probably better than I know my own."

 Born and raised in Savannah, Georgia, Aly Martinez is a stay-at-home mom to four crazy kids under the age of five, including a set of twins. Currently living in South Carolina, she passes what little free time she has reading anything and everything she can get her hands on, preferably with a glass of wine at her side.  
After some encouragement from her friends, Aly decided to add “Author” to her ever-growing list of job titles. Five books later, she shows no signs of slowing. So grab a glass of Chardonnay, or a bottle if you’re hanging out with Aly, and join her aboard the crazy train she calls life.

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Friday, February 20, 2015

Fading Out (Living Heartwood #3) by Trisha Wolfe

Love means fading out so another shines brighter.

Right clothes. Right school. Right fiancé. As a Wyndemere, Arian's expected to abide by the rules. The most important: be perfect. But Arian's seemingly flawless life is far from it. An embarrassing expulsion from her parents' alma mater spirals an already unhealthy obsession out of control, exposing a dark truth.

Faced with having to attend a small private college after a stint in rehab, Arian's just ready to coast under the radar and repair some of the wreckage, but her father's looming control is like a vise choking off her air supply.

When a run-in with Braxton's beloved star quarterback, Ryder Nash, puts Arian squarely in the crosshairs of his devoted teammates, the last of her controlled, orderly world unhinges. As the pranks and paybacks escalate, Arian and Ryder's rivalry takes a passionate turn. And once Arian glimpses beneath the all-star-athlete exterior Ryder projects, she realizes he's far more than just a jock.

As their relationship intensifies, outside forces feel the threat. Outrunning their pasts doesn't mean history won't repeat itself, but Ryder can't let that happen. He's just one Championship game away from breaking the mold. Only one moment, one choice, might change everything.


4 out of 5 stars

Fading Out is the third book in the Living Heartwood series and the third book I've read by Trisha Wolfe.  I've been all in since the very beginning -- which is saying something because I'm notorious for not seeing things through to the end.

What I like so much about these books is that yes, they are a series, but no - they don't have to be read AS a series.  Make sense?  There are characters that carry over from previous books, and characters that show up in future books, but they're not an integral part of each book.  So if you want to pick up with book 3...pick up with book 3.  You'll be fine.

And I love that.   (I think a big part of it is the fact that I don't like to be told what to read so knowing the flexibility is there is a definite plus).   Not to mention that Trisha Wolfe doesn't shy away from the tough topics.  Her books are New Adult, but they aren't just fluffy lovey dovey romantical unicorns and rainbows.  There is just the right amount of darkness to balance out the romance. 

Now...on to the characters.  

I loved Arian from the start.

As the mom of a daughter, I wanted to hug her and tell her that she is beautiful.  I wanted to fix all of her issues and feed her all the things -- healthy things, but all the things. 

As a person who has struggled with self-esteem issues for most of my life, I totally got her.  Guarded with a strong sense of self-preservation with the few parts of her life she could control...I totally related.   And I admit, my first impression of Ryder was that he was going to be an ass and I didn't want to like him.

But yeah, that didn't last long.  He managed to finagle his way into my feels and I started to crush on him a little bit.  And then the two of them together...perfect.  The tension, the chemistry, the swoony moments, the tenderness, the humor...all woven together through dual points of view to tell a story that grabbed my attention from the very beginning and is a solid part of a series I recommend to anybody looking for a good read.



From an early age, Trisha Wolfe dreamed up fantasy worlds and characters and was accused of talking to herself. Today, she lives in South Carolina with her family and writes full time, using her fantasy worlds as an excuse to continue talking to herself.
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