#ReadIndie Book Review: The Foxhole Court by Nora Sakavic

Neil Josten is the newest addition to the Palmetto State University Exy team. He’s short, he’s fast, he’s got a ton of potential—and he’s the runaway son of the murderous crime lord known as The Butcher.

Signing a contract with the PSU Foxes is the last thing a guy like Neil should do. The team is high profile and he doesn’t need sports crews broadcasting pictures of his face around the nation. His lies will hold up only so long under this kind of scrutiny and the truth will get him killed.

But Neil’s not the only one with secrets on the team. One of Neil’s new teammates is a friend from his old life, and Neil can’t walk away from him a second time. Neil has survived the last eight years by running. Maybe he’s finally found someone and something worth fighting for.

This is going to be a little different as a review because this is the third time I’ve read this trilogy this year (if that tells you anything about my opinion), and I’ve also read all of the extra content available on Sakavic’s tumblr. After finishing the series, you can definitely see how Sakavic sets up for the final book and where the story is going to go. However, the first time I read it I had no idea where it was going, so if that happens to you, I encourage you to keep going. Especially, since this is a book about a demisexual character written by an aro/ace author. It was probably the first book I ever read about someone on the ace spectrum, so it’s definitely worth it to keep going.

The book starts out about a kid on the run from his father just trying to find some kind of happiness in playing a sport he loves. As it turns out, Neil’s running from more than just his father, he just didn’t know it. The story does get pretty dark and graphic as Neil’s complicated past catches up with him. What I love about Neil though is that he is a survivor. No matter what is thrown at him he continues to get back up and keep living, sometimes out of pure spite (which is definitely something I can relate to).

I do love every single character (that’s not trying to kill Neil) in this series. They’re all flawed and complicated and it makes them more real. But they’re also sarcastic little shits that make you shake your head and laugh in disbelief. Wymack is the perfect example of all bark and no bite when it comes to his team, he yells at them day in and day out, but would lay down his life for any one of them. Andrew becomes the steadying force in Neil’s life if only because he’s been through just as much as Neil and Neil comes to learn that relying on Andrew could be the easiest thing he’s ever done. The rest of the Foxes stick with Neil even through all the crazy drama he brings with him. They make him believe he can have nice things (if he doesn’t up his big mouth and call his biggest rival an asshole on National TV) and a home with them.

At the end of the day The Foxhole Court is a story about home and finding a family, and sticking around on a chance of hope, even when you don’t think you deserve it. That’s why this story resonates so much with me, why I’ve read it three times this year. The struggle to find a balance between what you’ve known your whole life and what you desperately want instead is something I think a lot of people can relate to.

I’d give the trilogy an overall 4.5 bards.

Book Review: Secret Society Girl by Diana Peterfreund

205057Elite Eli University junior Amy Haskel never expected to be tapped into Rose & Grave, the country’s most powerful—and notorious—secret society. She isn’t rich, politically connected, or…well, male.

So when Amy receives the distinctive black-lined invitation with the Rose & Grave seal, she’s blown away. Could they really mean her?

Whisked off into an initiation rite that’s a blend of Harry Potter and Alfred Hitchcock, Amy awakens the next day to a new reality and a whole new set of “friends”—from the gorgeous son of a conservative governor to an Afrocentric lesbian activist whose society name is Thorndike. And that’s when Amy starts to discover the truth about getting what you wish for. Because Rose & Grave is quickly taking her away from her familiar world of classes and keggers, fueling a feud, and undermining a very promising friendship with benefits. And that’s before Amy finds out that her first duty as a member of Rose & Grave is to take on a conspiracy of money and power that could, quite possibly, ruin her whole life.

I first read Secret Society Girl nine years ago when it first came out, and let me tell you, it still holds up. I love this book just as much now as I did then. Mostly because I can still relate to Amy so much, as a sarcastic (kind of know-it-all) twenty-something who feels like they barely have their life together. Within the first 30 pages I found myself writing “same” in the margins many times. Amy’s not a perfect character, she makes mistakes, she overanalyzes, and sometimes she’s judgmental, but that’s what makes her a great character and that’s why I love her.

The book itself is pretty straightforward and easy to read. Women finally get “tapped” into an all-male secret society and the stereotypical “old boys” push back against being brought into the 21st century for reasons like, “it will turn is into a goddamn dating club” and “I can already foresee the accusations of rape.” Yeah. These old guys are really great. But because the previous class of Rose & Grave actually decided to “tap” women, and this year’s class are also top-notch students, they all save the day and the women are allowed to keep their society status and all the benefits that come with it. Because of all this though, there are some really strong female friendships that come out of this. It’s an amazing representation of different types of women coming together for this common cause and developing strong bonds because of it.

So the book is a little cheesy, and sometimes a little stereotypical. But for the time it was released, I thought it was revolutionary. It was one of the first books I’d read where the main character had THREEE close friends who identified as LGBTQ, and one of them was openly pansexual, and everyone just moved on from her announcement. I was so shocked to see the word pansexual outside of any LGBTQ/ally organizations, PLUS the nonchalant reaction from everyone else was so refreshing.

All in all, it’s one of my favorite books, so four bards!

fourbards

 

 

 

Book Review: The Wild One by Gemma Burgess

Sweet, innocent Coco has always been the good one. But when she catches her boyfriend cheating on her, she decides it’s time to break bad.

Coco swiftly goes from spending all her time baking and reading to working nights in (and dancing on) a bar, falling in and out of love (and lust), stealing education – and along the way discovers that she is stronger than she ever knew… In a time when her best friends are suddenly plunged into break ups, break-downs, big breaks, and on the verging of quitting New York City altogether, it’s up to Coco to keep them together and find herself along the way.

Gemma Burgess’ The Wild One: A Brooklyn Girls Novel is the inspiring story about the turmoil, uncertainty, and heartache that every twenty something faces and survives – with the help of her friends. 

Release Date: November 10, 2015

FINALLY, the third book in the Brooklyn Girls series has arrived!  Don’t go too much further without checking out my reviews of the first two novels (click on the titles to see), Brooklyn Girls and Love and Chaos.

Not going to lie, Coco wasn’t exactly my favorite character in this series up until this novel.  She kind of fades into the background of Pia and Angie’s respective stories with the exception of one or two important details about Coco’s past.  She was basically glazed over as the young, pretty, baking enthusiast roommate that is shy and keeps kind of to herself.

This novel, however, really shows a different side to Coco and breaks down her walls and gives her much more depth than in the previous books.  So shit hits the fan pretty hard for Coco right at the beginning of the novel when she finds her boyfriend cheating on her in a crowded bar.  Not one to confront problems head on, Coco just ignores him and doesn’t bother telling her friends how she has been hurt.  Eventually, of course, she does and some pretty epic embarassment happens for her cheating ex which really was his “just desserts.”

Coco basically reboots her life at 21.  It takes a lot of courage to change paths completely at such a vulnerable time and she definitely has no idea what she is doing, but she does that spectacularly.  In an attempt to reinvent herself, she takes on a casual sex partner, starts to work at a unsuccessful dive bar, and “steals education” by attending classes without being enrolled.  Can I do that?  Where do I sign up for free college?

Burgess’ writing continues to be filled with humor, sexual innuendos, and a realistic view of what life is like in your early twenties while you are trying to find your place in life and while you are making mistake after mistake.  I think that’s why I relate to this series so much, as I am in my twenties and I’ve made some of the mistakes these characters have.

Anyway, I was so pleased by Coco’s story and I really hope she doesn’t fade into the background with any of the other installments (please let there be more!).

4.5 Bards

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Thanks so much to St. Martin’s for the opportunity to read and review this great book!

Release Day Celebration

Last year, on February 4, I participated in a review tour for Jessica Sorensen’s excellent follow up to the novel, Breaking Nova.  Now, the novel is available in print!

For those of you who haven’t heard of Sorensen’s Breaking Nova trilogy, let’s just say that it is filled with deep emotion, loss, and two characters who are learning to live again.

You can check out my review of Breaking Nova here.

Synopsis for Saving Quinton:

Nova Reed can’t forget him-Quinton Carter, the boy with the honey-brown eyes who made her realize she deserved more than an empty life. His pain was so similar to her own. But Nova has been coming to terms with her past and healing, while Quinton is out there somewhere, sinking deeper. She’s determined to find him and help him . . . before it’s too late.

Nova has haunted his dreams for nearly a year-but Quinton never thought a sweet, kind person like her would care enough about a person like him. To Quinton, a dark, dangerous life is exactly what he deserves. And Nova has no place in it. But Nova has followed him to Las Vegas, and now he must do whatever it takes to keep her away, to maintain his self-imposed punishment for the unforgivable things he’s done. But there’s one flaw in his plan: Nova isn’t going anywhere . . .

In honor of Saving Quinton finally being available in print, check out my review:

I absolutely adored the first novel in this series, Breaking Nova, and I ardently request that everyone go and pick up the first one.  If you are unsure, be sure to check out my review, which you can find by clicking on the title.

I’m always on the fence when I pick up a sequel and it takes place a significant amount of time after the first one.  However, A.G. Howard did this with Unhinged, and it turned out pretty well so I tried not to let the fact that Saving Quinton takes place almost a full year after the events of Breaking Nova throw me for a loop.  Basically the two characters take some seriously different paths after the ending of the first novel.  Nova is doing excellent after coping and working to move past the horrible suicide of her boyfriend Landon, by helping other people at a suicide hotline.  Good job, Sorensen, I really liked that since it is something that I know sometimes friends and family of suicide victims participate in.

Quinton, on the other hand, is about 8 or 9 adjectives past “hot mess.”  I felt really connected to him as a character in the first novel due to how relatable his guilt was over the accident that killed two people.  In this novel, however, Sorensen does a really good job of not glazing over how bad things can get when a person falls deeper and deeper into addiction to the addiction to being numb.  Because for a lot of the novel and even after finishing it, the drugs aren’t really the main addiction for Quinton–it is self punishment and the need run away from all of his feelings.

I ended up reading this novel all in one sitting, and I can’t help but crave more resolution and the chance to spend more time with both of these characters.  The third and final installment, Quinton & Nova: No Regrets will be released in print in April of this year.   These characters will probably always be my favorites of Sorensen’s, no matter how much I enjoy the others as well.

5 Bards.

fivebards

Book Review: The Edge of Never by J.A. Redmerski

16081272Twenty-year-old Camryn Bennett thought she knew exactly where her life was going.  But after a wild night at the hottest club in downtown Raleigh, North Carolina, she shocks everyone–including herself–whe she decides to leave the only life she’s ever known and set out on her own.  Grabbing her purse and her cell phone, Camryn boards a Greyhound bus ready to find herself.  Instead, she finds Andrew Parrish. 

Sexy and exciting, Andrew lives life like there is no tomorrow.  He persuades Camryn to do things she never though she would and shows her how to give in to her deepest, most forbidden desires. Soon he becomes the center of her daring new life, pulling love and lust and emotion out of her in ways she never imaged possible.  But there is more to Andrew than Camryn realizes.  Will his secret push them inseparably together–or destroy them forever?

 

In The Edge of Never, the main character is from Raleigh, NC (I went to NC State) and her favorite band is The Civil Wars (love them).  Naturally, I’m going to be a fan.

Camryn Bennett and Andrew Parrish, both in their twenties and needing an escape from reality,  board a bus leaving North Carolina.  Whether it be problems with family, friends, or lovers, they both need to escape the drama in their lives.  Did they expect that they would end up sitting beside the love of their life?  Probably not.  Did it happen?  Yes.  It’s fun watching the relationship grow as the two slowly get to know each other and slowly start to form a deep connection.  I love the way they pick on each other, challenge one another, and learn to totally let their guard down.  These two are on the road, going wherever it takes them.   Road trips are always fun and with The Edge of Never the reader gets to be in the front seat for this journey.

Imagine yourself sitting back, reading this sweet love story when BAM!!!  There’s an intense sex scene that just comes out of nowhere.  And it is awesome.  No, this is not some Fifty Shades of Grey wannabe.  The Edge of Never holds its own.  The story is well done and the romantic scenes are  just a pleasant little surprise thrown in the middle.  The sex makes the  characters feel real and you  get to experience their intense love.  The scenes are a bit hot and heavy so I do recommend this novel be for a mature,  young adult.

The only thing that annoys me about this book is how extremely good looking both Camryn and Andrew sound.  She’s a beautiful, hot bodied blonde and Andrew is a muscle man with dreamy green eyes and the perfect smile.  They are perfect human specimen and they have the perfect love story.  Gag me.  But I love them.

To put it simply, this book made me love…love.  There’s nothing more special than the love between two people and this book lets you in on that bond with Camryn and Andrew.

Also…

Throughout the book the reader feels like Andrew might be hiding something. IS HE?… WHAT IS IT?!…  I will never tell.

fourbards

Book Review: The Life We Bury by Allen Eskins

College student Joe Talbert has the modest goal of completing a writing assignment for an English class. His task is to interview a stranger and write a brief biography of the person. With deadlines looming, Joe heads to a nearby nursing home to find a willing subject. There he meets Carl Iverson, and soon nothing in Joe’s life is ever the same.

Iverson is a dying Vietnam veteran–and a convicted murderer. With only a few months to live, he has been medically paroled to a nursing home, after spending thirty years in prison for the crimes of rape and murder.

As Joe writes about Carl’s life, especially Carl’s valor in Vietnam, he cannot reconcile the heroism of the soldier with the despicable acts of the convict. Joe, along with his skeptical female neighbor, throws himself into uncovering the truth, but he is hamstrung in his efforts by having to deal with his dangerously dysfunctional mother, the guilt of leaving his autistic brother vulnerable, and a haunting childhood memory. 

Thread by thread, Joe unravels the tapestry of Carl’s conviction. But as he and Lila dig deeper into the circumstances of the crime, the stakes grow higher. Will Joe discover the truth before it’s too late to escape the fallout?

Release Date: October 14, 2014

Awesome murder mystery! Great story, great characters, and great suspense. I honestly have nothing bad to say about this book. It was a great read and it sucked me in from the very beginning.

It made sense when I found out the author, Allen Eskens, is a criminal defense attorney. The whole plot was very intricate and it was evident that he was very knowledgeable about what all goes into a criminal case. There was never doubt that what I was reading was not exactly how things would go in an actual murder trial. I actually learned a few things about the whole process.

What impressed me even more was the fact that this is Eskens first novel. He writes with the ease of a seasoned veteran.

Totally did not expect the ending. The sudden twists throughout the story left me unable to put the book down.  Eskens kept me interested by diving in to each character…Really giving the reader an understanding of whose these people were.

If you want a good thrill, read this book. One of my favorites this summer!

4 Bards

fourbards

Book Review: The Beautiful Ashes by Jeaniene Frost

17158976In a world of shadows, anything is possible. Except escaping your fate.

Ever since she was a child, Ivy has been gripped by visions of strange realms just beyond her own. But when her sister goes missing, Ivy discovers the truth is far worse—her hallucinations are real, and her sister is trapped in a parallel realm. And the one person who believes her is the dangerously attractive guy who’s bound by an ancient legacy to betray her.

Adrian might have turned his back on those who raised him, but that doesn’t mean he can change his fate…no matter how strong a pull he feels toward Ivy. Together they search for the powerful relic that can save her sister, but Adrian knows what Ivy doesn’t: that every step brings Ivy closer to the truth about her own destiny, and a war that could doom the world. Sooner or later, it will be Ivy on one side and Adrian on the other. And nothing but ashes in between.

 

 

Oh. My. God. LOVE!

First off, I already adore the author and both of her other series she’s written. So, I had high hopes going into this book, and she didn’t let me down! Writing this book in New Adult format meant there was some adult content but nothing like the adult novels she’s written before. New Adult is going to be a great genre to write in and she’s leading the way with The Beautiful Ashes. It was fantastic!

I have to admit I was a little shaky on the idea of Angels and Demons battling it out, because I feel it’s been done and done, and never different, but Jeaniene delivered a new take of the epic battle of good vs evil. Taking snippets from the Bible and transforming them to something otherworldly gives the reader something to truly think about and say, hey, that really maybe could have happened that way!

Adrian is your typical bad boy, vintage car and all, but under that outward appearance of bad ass, comes a tortured soul that is determined to change his fate. Ivy is going to be that deciding on factor of if his fate can change, While she’s determined to change him, she goes through tragedies that leads her to have nothing to lose but everything to gain. That being said, she dives head first into a world she knows nothing about, but is destine to be submerged into.

I loved the characters. The tension and passion between Adrain and Ivy was just enough to make me go, awww, at points and want to smack both of them upside the head at others. Their struggles are believable and their goals are obtainable. The secondary characters give the story life and drive and I felt emotions, good and bad, for every single one of them.

My biggest issue with this book is that it’s not even out yet and I want the second to be released so I know what happens next!

5 Bards!

fivebards

Novella Review: Finding Cinderella by Colleen Hoover

A chance encounter in the dark leads eighteen-year-old Daniel and the girl who stumbles across him to profess their love for each other. But this love comes with conditions: they agree it will only last one hour and it will only be make-believe.

When their hour is up and the girl rushes off like Cinderella, Daniel tries to convince himself that what happened between them only seemed perfect because they were pretending it was perfect. Moments like that with girls like her don’t happen outside of fairytales.

One year and one bad relationship later, his disbelief in insta-love is stripped away the day he meets Six: a girl with a strange name and an even stranger personality. Daniel soon realizes the way he pretended to feel about Cinderella and the way he really feels about Six may not be so different after all. Especially when the two loves of his life end up being one in the same.

Unfortunately for Daniel, finding Cinderella doesn’t guarantee their happily ever after…it only further threatens it

Have I ever mentioned how much I love a novella? Well I do. They are the perfect length for a cute little beach read or to read between some serious YA dystopian novels. This book was super cute and made me feel all warm and cuddly inside. For the sake of honesty it is a YA book but I wouldn’t let teens read it. It has some strong language and sexual content.

I love that it was written from Daniels point of view. It is a nice change of pace to read a novella from the male POV. I thought his personality was refreshing and if he was 10 years older I would have a major crush on him. I also really like Six, I thought she was a great female lead character. Loved Daniel and Six’s relationship and banter. It was all great.

I really didn’t think the story needed the twist at the end. I would have been fine without it. It didn’t really add much to the story and felt a little pushed. I can appreciate that it shows real life consequences to adult decisions that you make as a teen, however for me it wasn’t necessary. But that was the only thing I can find off about this book.

I give this cute novella 4.5 bards.

four.fivebards

Top Ten Tuesday

toptentuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted for us book blogger types by the Broke and the Bookish. They provide a topic, and all of us participants post our answers on our blogs and we hop around checking out one another’s answers! This week’s topic is 

Ten Books That Will Be In My Beach Bag This Summer

1. This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen
An old staple, I tend to reaad this every year at the beach.

2. Take Me On by Katie McGarry
I tend to get in a serious mood to read romance when I’m sunbathing.

3. All Lined Up by Cora Carmack
Same reason as the one above!

4. Brazen by Katherine Longshore
I’ve just been waiting for this one to come out, and I think saving it for my beach bag might make me even more excited.

5. Landline by Rainbow Rowell
Let’s be honest, you can’t go wrong with a Rainbow Rowell book, no matter where you are when you read it.

6. Let’s Get Lost by Adi Alsaid
This just seems like the penultimate summer read.

7. I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
I’m a sucker for books about sibling relationships.

8. Talon by Julie Kagawa
Oh you know, I have to have some fantasy for good measure!

9. Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer
Another book that I’ve been looking forward to like crazy, so we will see if I am able to leave it packed for the beach!

10. Get Even by Gretchen McNeil
School thriller? Just what I need to keep me awake and entertained in the warm sun.

 

What are some of your MUST READS for the Beach?

Book Review: Third Degree by Julie Cross

18590125I used to be “Isabel Jenkins, child prodigy.” As lame as that sounds, at least it was an identity. But now I’m not sure what I am. I just failed the most important exam of my life—the emotional readiness test required to get into a medical residency program—and it turns out my parents can’t stand each other. Now I’m trying to figure out how to pick up the pieces of my life, and that means re-enrolling as a college freshman, but this time I’m shutting the books and majoring in being eighteen.

But so far, my roommate hates me and I’m not into the party scene. The only good thing about school has been getting to know my insanely hot RA. Marshall Collins makes me wonder about everything I missed while I was growing up too fast. Pretty soon we’re hanging out constantly, but for the first time, I find myself wanting more than a no-strings-attached physical relationship. And the lesson I really need is one Marsh definitely can’t teach me: love. Because I’m going to be alone forever if I don’t learn fast.

Gah, Julie Cross did it again.  This book was so good I read it straight through and it only took me 4 hours.  There is something about the way Julie Cross writes that sucks you into the story immediately.  You feel like you know the characters and are feeling what they feel.  Its truly a beautiful thing.

I love that Izzy was so relatable, like she wasn’t so smart that I felt dumb in comparison or that she was totally unlike anyone I had met before.  I loved that she was just as awkward and nervous socializing and flirting.  And yet she was confident in her skills and her body.  And that romance between Marsh and Izzy, whew *fanning myself*.  It is hot.  As with most of Julie Cross’ books the secondary characters are really fun and add to the story in some way.  I love Shirtless Carson, and Kelsey together (I am secretly hoping for a book based on their romance).

I thought the pace of the book was really good too.  There were no lag times where I was like “is something going to happen?”.  At the same time the book didn’t move so fast that the events were unrealistic.  The romance was that slow building kind that makes you get all giggly and anxious for them to figure out their true feelings.  It didn’t feel rushed in anyway.  I thought it was interesting that Izzy could have been diagnosed with Asperger’s, I would have not come to the conclusion by myself but it does explain her personality.

I have no complaints about this book. None,  I love it and so will you.  Pick it up!

5 Bards

fivebards

 

 

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