Books: The Cheapest Vacation You Can Buy











The Things You Kiss GoodbyeFrom Goodreads: Bettina Vasilis can hardly believe it when basketball star Brady Cullen asks her out, and she just about faints when her strict father actually approves of him.

But when school starts up again, Brady changes. What happened to the sweet boy she fell in love with? Then she meets a smoldering guy in his twenties, and this “cowboy” is everything Brady is not—gentle, caring, and interested in getting to know the real Bettina.

Bettina knows that breaking up with Brady would mean giving up her freedom—and that it would be inappropriate for anything to happen between her and Cowboy. Still, she can’t help that she longs for the scent of his auto shop whenever she’s anywhere else.

When tragedy strikes, Bettina must tell her family the truth—and kiss goodbye the things she thought she knew about herself and the men in her life.

Leslie Connor has written a lyrical, heartbreaking, and ultimately hopeful story about family, romance, and the immense power of love.

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Connor captures the essence of a low self-esteemed, smitten teenaged girl traversing her first-ever relationship in this novel, and as we all know, love is “blind.” Thus, Bettina makes excuse after excuse for her abusive, sexually aggressive boyfriend, and she continually goes back to him time and time again, even after her hurts her in ways that no person should never allow. On the outside looking in, it’s easy to judge. I judged Bettina, and I’m sure any and all readers are going to do the same. We don’t understand her choices; we are screaming at her to wake up, to break up with Brady, to listen to Cowboy and pull it together. But sometimes it isn’t as easy for the person actually in the relationship to do that. If it were, I feel like there wouldn’t be as many domestic violence cases in the news—that no woman/man would allow it to happen to them, but think about it. There are many, many women in Bettina’s place right now. Why?

This novel is very realistic, and it’s not a happy story. There certainly is no happy ending, Bettina’s home life isn’t the best, her psyche is damaged, and she’s looking for love in all the wrong places. And though we may not want to acknowledge it, this is true for many teens out there in the world. It’s also true that there are teens out there with great families, great high schools, great relationships, and happy endings. This story isn’t one of them, though, and that’s okay. Even though it’s depressing and really not necessarily enjoyable for me as a reader, it’s real, and that’s why it’s so powerful. Perhaps that’s also why we don’t like it? No, I didn’t love this story. But I didn’t hate it, either. It’s somewhat eye opening for me as a reader, and makes me want to be even more vigilant and less condemning of others who are in situations that I just can’t understand. It also makes me want to help—to keep my eyes open and intervene when I can. Perhaps that’s the point of the story? Three and a half stars.

3.5 stars

I received this novel from the publisher, via Edelweiss, in exchange for an honest review.

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Strawberry WineFrom Goodreads: Ten years have passed since Tanya Smith’s last summer at Laurel Lake – the summer of Marie. Today Tanya is a confident, successful music promoter – a far cry from the naïve seventeen-year-old who showed up at the lake full of rosy notions of first love, lifelong friendships, and evenings spent sipping strawberry wine on the shore. That September changed everything, and as far as Tanya is concerned, there’s no going back. That is, until a mysterious phone call from Marie’s lawyer brings Tanya face to face with the past. Suddenly she finds herself returning to Laurel Lake and to everything she left behind there. Will the dark secret that haunts the lake break her heart all over again? Or will Marie’s legacy be the key that unlocks the future Tanya gave up on ten long years ago?

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Strawberry Wine is a NA/Adult novel with a splash of YA intermixed as the story focuses on both present day and the not-so-distant past. Revolving around Tanya, a 27ish, put together, self-made music promoter, readers are instantly drawn into her life as the novel opens with the death of her estranged friend Marie, a girl Tanya only knew for one summer during her high school years, a summer that for her is impossible to forget; a summer that changed everything. Almost instantly, the novel jumps from present to past, allowing readers to live through the events of that summer as Tanya begins to fall for Michael, explore the deeper recesses of love, and become friends with Marie, the quiet girl with abusive step-relatives. What starts off cute and carefree, turns jarring and sinister as the summer progresses, and everything abruptly comes to a halt when a few drunken decisions change everything for Tanya and Marie.

Here, the novel once again jumps back to the present, and it is also here that Adams sends readers a curveball, one I never saw coming, but in retrospect, should have. With the death of Marie, Tanya’s entire world is upended, altering the course of her world, should she so accept it, and in doing so, allowing her to go back to those carefree summer days and claim what she lost. It’s a beautiful tale, and I thoroughly enjoyed that present to past to present narration—it’s not back and forth, but steady, almost like a circular novel, but continuing on once it comes full circle to give readers deeper insight into current events.

From carefree to brokenhearted, from on top of the world to uncertain, from safe to vulnerable, this novel spans the gamut of emotions, and they’re a very tangible aspect of the novel. Although the story itself sometimes flows a bit clipped in terms of transitions, it’s well done just the same, and as surprise and fear edge their way into the story, so does the reliance on God—though not preachy. I wouldn’t say this is a religious novel by any means, but when faced with a bad situation, as Tanya finds herself in after the death of Marie, one does tend to rely more on God. For me, this was all a bit sudden, but understandable as the plot thickens, lives are threatened, and a sinister danger lurks on the horizon.

It is said that we write what we know, and Adams definitely does this in that Tanya is a music promoter, as is Lee, and a deadly kidney complication comes in to play—something Adams has also dealt with as a donor. Although fiction, Adams’ own personal experiences come through in the novel, adding validity and giving the novel extreme realism, which is an aspect I highly enjoy in my stories. Overall, this is a very well-done novel—and if you’re looking for an alluring summer read, I highly suggest adding Strawberry Wine to your reading pile. Four stars.

4 stars

I purchased this novel from the author at Martinsburg Chocolate Festival and Book Fair.

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StrongerFrom Goodreads: Two men are vying for a place in Lydia Strong’s life. Desmond has solid ties from her distant past, while Aiden is only concerned about being her future. But right now, party-girl Lydia has lost herself in a shot glass and dozens of one night stands. She’s forgotten her own worth and she’s plummeting toward the rock bottom of her life. While Des and Aiden compete to create her future, Lydia realizes she’s got to be stronger than she’s ever been, to fight her addictions and choose the life she wants now. She must find herself again, before the wrong man walks away.

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Welcome to the riveting world of Lydia Strong, a woman spiraling down the wells of addiction. A novel completely unique and jarring, in amazing ways, Stronger pulls readers in, making Provencher’s tantalizing story the readers’ own addiction. Definitely one of my top ten reads of the year, Stronger is an extremely real, well written story that is not to be missed. Intense, passionate, real; this novel will leave readers breathless as it unfolds.

Certainly a read for the more mature crowds, this NA novel tackles topics such as abuse, self-worth, alcoholism, theft, and manipulation. It’s intense, but it’s Oh. So. Good. I was wrapped up in the story and truly felt like I was a part of it as I watched Lydia slowly fall to pieces, searching out one night stands (not too graphic on the sexual escapades) and alcohol to try and put the truth of her heartbreaking, loveless life behind her. Manipulated and at rock bottom, Lydia has much to overcome in order to begin building up her world once more, and that includes separating herself from the worst sort of abuser and allowing herself to love, live, and take control. But in order to do that, she’s got to love herself, first.

This is an amazingly intense novel that I absolutely adore. Provencher has done a fantastic job creating vivid, real characters and situations, and I highly suggest giving this one a read. I was a little concerned it might not be my cup of tea going in, but Provencher soon quelled my fears as this utterly fantastic novel unfolded. Be prepared for a slew of feels as this novel takes you on an amazing journey. It’s so perfectly written that you will fall deeply in love, just as I did. Five epic stars.

5 stars

I received this novel as a gift from my friend Lisa M. Ammari and was lucky enough to meet Misty Provencher this past weekend and purchase a signed copy for my reading shelf.

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GripFrom Goodreads: Set in San Francisco in the 1970s, Grip: A Memoir of Fierce Attractions is the true story of how a teenager fends off an armed intruder with only her wits, then goes on to become the toughest female martial artist in her karate school and an early advocate for women’s rights. Yet in private this five-foot fighter forms one disastrous relationship with men after another. Ultimately, Nina Hamberg finds her real battle is an internal one. She has to bond with a different kind of man and allow herself to be vulnerable. Winner of the Maui Writers Conference Rupert Hughes Award and the Bay Area Independent Publishers Association Book Award for “Best Memoir,” Grip reads like a novel. It is by turns riveting, funny, poignant and wise.

Hamberg has woven a memoir with wide appeal. She traces her emotional journey while providing such fast-paced action that reviewers call Grip a page-turner.

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This is the true-life account of Nina Hamberg, a woman who experienced violence at the hands of others, and though she struggled, did not allow it to ultimately define her. Beginning in her teenage years, Nina learns true fear and doubt when a stranger breaks into her house in an attempt to rape her. Though she defends herself, both a physical and internal scar remain—an outward reminder of her trials and tribulations of that night, and an inward reminder of all those around her who did nothing to help. From the police who didn’t take her call seriously to her very own mother, who tried to brush it all under the rug, Nina found herself alone and ashamed, and through this memoir, she bares her soul as a way to finally lay her demons to rest.

Abusive relationship after abusive relationship, Nina struggles to remain in control, and watching her spiral downward, only to finally come out on top, was harrowing but rewarding. Though I don’t usually read memoirs all that often, I found Nina’s story to be one that kept my attention, especially with its ups and downs. This is a triumphant tale of survival, and though Nina experiences many hardships, her memoir is one that teaches readers a lot about what it is like to live a life haunted by a traumatic experience. Three stars.

3 stars

I received this novel from the author in exchange for an honest review.

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Where the Stars Still ShineFrom Goodreads: Stolen as a child from her large and loving family, and on the run with her mom for more than ten years, Callie has only the barest idea of what normal life might be like. She’s never had a home, never gone to school, and has gotten most of her meals from laundromat vending machines. Her dreams are haunted by memories she’d like to forget completely. But when Callie’s mom is finally arrested for kidnapping her, and Callie’s real dad whisks her back to what would have been her life, in a small town in Florida, Callie must find a way to leave the past behind. She must learn to be part of a family. And she must believe that love–even with someone who seems an improbable choice–is more than just a possibility.

Trish Doller writes incredibly real teens, and this searing story of love, betrayal, and how not to lose your mind will resonate with readers who want their stories gritty and utterly true.

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I picked up this novel on whim when I read the synopsis–it reminded me very much of one of my favorite novels, If You Find Me, so I just had to read it, and I was pleased to note from the start that it’s a very well written novel.  Focusing on Callie as she tries to make sense of her disheveled life and figure out where her loyalties truly lie, a feat no child or teenager should have to experience, Doller hooks her readers from the very first page, and as the story begins to unfold, it’s raw emotion will open a special spot in the readers heart for Callie.

For the past 12 years, Callie has been moving from place to place with her mother, a haggard, chain-smoking woman who changes her mind with the sunrise—always on the move. Callie has never been to school, she’s never known stability, and she’s never really missed it–that is, until her mother is caught during a traffic stop and Callie is reunited with her father and her family, a group of people she doesn’t know or remember. Suddenly, Callie has a stable home, two little brothers, a doting if not suffocating family, a best friend, a job, and even a love interest.

Torn between the woman who has raised her and the family she didn’t know she had, Callie has some extremely difficult choices to make. She has been hurt; hurt a lot in her life. As you can imagine, her mother has had many “lovers,” and one, Frank, was a little too “caring” for the 8 year old Callie. And as it would for any who experience abuse, it haunts Callie both day and night, causing her to be wary when it comes to trust of other.  Thankfully, Doller does not provide graphic detail, but the reader definitely knows what happened to Callie, and it helps explain the not so great decisions she’s made in the past and that and continues to make as the story unfolds.  Her entire understanding of love is tainted, having seen her mother’s strange definition of it, and this novel is ultimately one of healing as Callie’s learns what it means to be truly loved, and to love back.

I really loved the characterization and depth of this novel, and I also enjoyed that it takes place in Tarpon Springs FL. While I haven’t spent much time there, I’ve been through the area on a few occasions, and I have spent much time in Bradenton, so I was able to vividly imagine many of the scenes within the novel–something I usually can’t do because I have zero imagination.  This really brought the story to life for me, and I felt like I was right there with Callie, seeing through her eyes, which made it such an intriguing read.

The addition of a Greek family was awesome, and I loved getting to know them, seeing the ins and outs of their family and town, and it reminded me a little bit of My Big Fat Greek Wedding in terms of the family relationships, minus some of the humor, because this is a much more serious tale.

Overall, this is a beautiful tale that I highly recommend.  Four stars.

4 stars

I purchased this novel from Amazon:

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DesolateFrom Goodreads: A wedding massacre. An innocence stolen. Mortality stripped away.

In a single night, everyone Roseline Dragomir has ever loved is slaughtered before her eyes. Alone in the world and bound by a solemn marriage vow to a vicious murderer, she must find a strength buried deep within her to keep going or risk completely losing herself.

When a mysterious stranger crosses her path, Roseline will discover that not all immortals are evil. Some even bear emotional scars that run just as deep as her own.

Will she uncover a will not just to survive…but to fight back?

***DESOLATE is the first book of the prequel trilogy to my YA paranormal romance AROTAS trilogy. This book contains elements that may be sensitive for some YA readers. Please download a sample before purchasing this book to ensure it is suitable for your teen***

Desolate is book I of the Immortal Rose trilogy, prequel to the Arotas series.

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This is my first novel by Amy Miles, but it certainly won’t be my last! Desolate, the first in a prequel series to the bestselling Arotas trilogy, is indeed a beautiful novel, and though dealing with difficult topics such as abuse, rape, and attempted suicide, Miles eloquently addresses these issues, breaking Roseline down before building her back up again. I can’t say I didn’t cringe as the story unfolded, but I will say that it is a beautiful portrayal of resilience and self-worth.

As Desolate deals with incredibly sensitive issues, I was thankful that Miles didn’t flaunt the events, or give the gritty details. She glosses over many, instead giving the reader just enough information to make the peril and torture Rose is experiencing obvious for readers, but also leaving much to the imagination. But even so, it is enough to cause my heart to bleed for Rose. Miles has put herself in the shoes of an abuse victim and shown the inner depths of hatred, fear, and loss of innocence.

The characterization of this novel was superb, and though I absolutely hate Rose’s husband, a forced union knit together through sociopathic tendencies on his part, Miles portrays a true sociopath vividly, putting the reader right in the midst of events. And while I truly don’t want to experience anything Rose goes through in this novel, Miles makes it impossible not to feel as the novel unfolds. Rose in my hero.

I will admit that some of the events in the novel proved to be a bit much for me; I can’t fathom anyone reading this novel and walking away unscathed, but Miles has done a superb job expressing Rose’s experiences, and I can’t wait for the next novel in the series, and to read the Arotas trilogy itself, as I know Rose becomes stronger for all her suffering. Four stars.

4 stars

I received an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

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Coming Soon:

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amyAbout Amy Miles:

Amy Miles has been a carbaholic since birth and is hopelessly addicted to Frozen Cokes. When she’s not chatting with fans on Facebook she can be found goofing off with family, traveling or stomping her husband at golf. She is an obsessive writer and an avid reader who loves to chat about all things books.

She is the author of the Forbidden, Reckoning, Redemption and Evermore of the Arotas Series. Also Defiance Rising and Relinquish of the Rising Trilogy. She has a stand alone romance, Captivate and has just begun releasing books in her Immortal Rose prequel trilogy.

Want to know what she is currently working on? Check out her website: www.AmyMilesBooks.com
Follow on Twitter: @AmyMilesBooks
Facebook: www.facebook.com/AmyMiles.Author

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And don’t miss out on this deal: Get all three books in the Arotas series for just $4.99

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Arotas Trilogy____________________________________________________________________________

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Love Letters to the DeadFrom Goodreads: It begins as an assignment for English class: Write a letter to a dead person. Laurel chooses Kurt Cobain because her sister, May, loved him. And he died young, just like May did. Soon, Laurel has a notebook full of letters to people like Janis Joplin, Amy Winehouse, Amelia Earhart, Heath Ledger, and more; though she never gives a single one of them to her teacher. She writes about starting high school, navigating new friendships, falling in love for the first time, learning to live with her splintering family. And, finally, about the abuse she suffered while May was supposed to be looking out for her. Only then, once Laurel has written down the truth about what happened to herself, can she truly begin to accept what happened to May. And only when Laurel has begun to see her sister as the person she was; lovely and amazing and deeply flawed; can she begin to discover her own path.

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Love Letters to the Dead spans Laurel’s 9th grade year as she tries to sort through her life—her older sister May has only recently died and the circumstances behind her death remain shrouded in mystery as the novel unfolds, spurring readers on as Laurel relays many different facts about her life.  This is an extremely well written epistolary novel that captured my attention immediately.  I really adore novels told through letters, diary entries, and the like, and Dellaira does a superb job getting Laurel’s voice across using this writing style.

When the novel first picks up, Laurel is writing a letter to Kurt Cobain, and as she begins to relate to him through their shared experiences, she starts to tell the story of her sister, and soon finds herself working her way through multiple letters and truths about the past, present, and future.  With the death of May, Laurel’s family fell apart; her mother now lives in California, and Laurel splits her time between the homes of her father and aunt, yet none know the truth as Laurel does.  And as the story unfolds, readers learn that there are many heavy underlying truths that Laurel must eventually face in order to move from the past and begin living in the present.  I will admit that it took me a little while to warm up to Laurel, but as she pours out her heart, I found it impossible to not connect with her and her experiences, both trials and triumphs.

One aspect of this novel that I truly love is that, as Laurel writes letters to the dead, she connects the dead’s lives, music, accomplishments, and decisions with those that she is currently experiencing.  It flows together seamlessly, and helps bring validity and emotion to the novel as Laurel tells her story, asks her questions, and struggles with the answers.  The letters show how Laurel is on a downward spiral, and as it all comes to a head, we learn what Laurel really knows of the night her sister died, and why Laurel has slowly allowed herself to become someone else as the school year progresses.  It’s an intriguing, heartfelt read that I highly recommend.  Four stars.

4 stars

In exchange for an honest review, Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group and Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) have been extremely gracious in allowing me to read an ARC of this novel, via Netgalley, prior to its release on April 1, 2014.

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18039069From Goodreads: London. 1880. In the slums of Spitalfields apprentice blacksmith Luke is facing initiation into the Malleus Maleficorum, the fearsome brotherhood dedicated to hunting and killing witches.

Luke’s final test is to pick a name at random from the Book of Witches, a name he must track down and kill within a month, or face death himself. Luke knows that tonight will change his life forever. But when he picks out sixteen-year-old Rosa Greenwood, Luke has no idea that his task will be harder than he could ever imagine.

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This novel actually started off slowly for me. At 30% in, I was thinking that I really didn’t want to finish it–I just wasn’t hooked, but I always give books the benefit of the doubt, as I did with this one, and as I went on, it got much better, and by the end I was turning the pages so quickly I would have had whiplash had I not been reading on a stationary Kindle.

The way Rosa’s family treats her and those around them is disgusting and very hard to stomach. There is a scene with a puppy that horrified me, and I nearly put the book down right then because I hated the heir so very much, but I kept going, because by that point, I was very interested in the plot.  And, this novel tackles some great topics for younger readers, such as racism and abuse, two aspects that are rampant within the text, stemming from the Brotherhoods hatred of all “witches” and the abusive relationship between Rosa, her brother, and her “fiancé.” Through it all, the novel shows how clouded one’s judgment can be based on hatred, and how entitlement and greed can ruin families. They were great lessons for readers about refusing to take abuse, though for a while there I was afraid Rosa was just going to roll over and take it.

While it may sound like Rosa is a week character that needs saving, in truth she is not. She is the subject of abuse on many levels, from physical to mental, and as a 16 year old without a friend in the world, she struggles on a very real level with her own wants and needs versus pleasing her family. At times I did want to reach through the pages and shake her, but then again, she must contend with the lesser of two evils–abuse from her family, or the death and destruction of others. Her selflessness is very real, but when it comes down to it, she refuses to stand on the sidelines and allow others to be terrorized. I really did like her and Luke (and they’re the only characters I really did like, save Cassie, the fiancé’s sister, but she was extremely miniscule).

The love relationship in this novel was slow between Luke and Rosa, and I liked that he saw her for what she was, a young girl abused and afraid, versus a witch worth killing. His attempts on her life were extremely interesting to see unfold, especially as his conscious plays a huge part in it all, and his attempts to finally stand up for what is right, along with Rosa’s make them vivid and real.

I can’t wait to see where the sequel of this one takes us because, while not ending on a cliffhanger per se, we are right in the middle of the action and you just know there is so much more to be told.  Four stars.

4 stars

Hodder Children’s Books has been extremely gracious in allowing me to read an ARC of this novel, via Netgalley, prior to its release on January 2, 2013.



18046744From Goodreads: Orphaned at six and sent to live with abusive relatives in Bucharest, Mariah learned early in life to box up violent, agonizing memories and put them in permanent mental storage. Now almost nineteen, she has a paying job, a tiny apartment, and a plan to attend university. She loves her independence and is steadily overcoming her past, but when an enigmatic stranger walks into the pub where she works and the trajectory of her life changes yet again, she begins to wonder if she’ll run out of mental shelf space.

The only females unafraid of the Mephisto brothers are the extremely rare Anabo, born without Original Sin. Over one hundred years ago, Phoenix was first to find one, but he made a fatal mistake and she was murdered by his oldest brother and enemy, Eryx. Phoenix soldiered through the next century wrapped up in grief and guilt, his only outlet planning takedowns of those who pledged their souls to Eryx. When one of his brothers brings Mariah to Mephisto Mountain, he’s torn between his instinctive, powerful need to pursue her, and his certainty that he can never have her.

Drawn into the world of the Mephisto, Mariah sees the pain and misery Eryx unleashes on humanity, and the boxes in her mind begin to fly open, one by one. All that keeps her from slipping off the edge is her unlikely, sexually charged friendship with Phoenix. He’s incredibly screwed up; she’s completely broken. It would take a miracle for them to find happiness. Then Eryx brings the war for Hell to a whole new level, forcing Mariah and Phoenix to make a choice that will bind them together for all eternity, or rip them apart forever.

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Perhaps the darkest novel of The Mephisto Covenant series to date, Trinity Faegen once again captivates readers as she tackles the very raw topic of abuse.  Mariah, biological sister to Jordan (who is the heroine of the second novel, The Mephisto Kiss), takes the forefront in this third installment, allowing readers to connect with her on a much more personal level as the story delves deeper into her life, unleashing the scars of her past that readers so briefly learned about in The Mephisto Kiss.    

Readers beware, this novel touches upon both physical and sexual abuse, and while extreme details are not given, the allusion of these acts against a child create vivid enough depictions and it is impossible not to feel Mariah’s pain as she attempts to heal, especially as she begins to open up to Phoenix and tell how she survived.

Faegen does something extremely interesting in this series, which is something not often attempted by writers, and it is that she overlaps the storyline of The Mephisto Mark with its prequel, The Mephisto Kiss.  For those who have read the prior novels in the series, you may note that Mariah’s story sounds very familiar because we’ve indeed heard it before in the second novel.  However, whereas The Mephisto Kiss skates over much of Mariah’s life, focusing more so on the points that deal with Jordan, from her adoption from an orphanage to her reuniting with Mariah, readers get the other side of the story in The Mephisto Mark.  Here, readers who wondered how Mariah survived while Jordan grew up in luxury get their answers, and while it isn’t a pleasant or happy story, it is beautifully told.  It’s gut wrenching at times, but Mariah is a triumphant survivor of abuse, and as she works through her past, she opens doors for others, such as Phoenix, allowing him to move on and do what’s right by all his brothers and the memory of Jane.

The Mephisto Mark also charges on past the cliffhanger from The Mephisto Kiss, shedding light on what happens after Jordan’s naive decision concerning Eryx, weaving the two novels together even more as the story unfolds.  It’s a perfect set up, in my opinion, and I love how seamlessly both novels intertwine.  This is also why I strongly believe that readers of this series should read these novels in order.  While it is true that a new reader to the series could actually begin with The Mephisto Mark, I strongly advise against it for a number of reasons.  Because of the deep intertwining between The Mephisto Kiss and The Mephisto Mark, I believe too much information would be divulged concerning the events in The Mephisto Kiss and Jordan.  Likewise, a truth is outted in The Mephisto Mark that, until this third installment, I believed to be wholeheartedly true.  I was surprised to learn that it wasn’t, which is turn changed everything, especially as it’s a main focus in both of the prior novels, and this is another reason I believe this series should be read in order; otherwise it will take away from the extreme surprise Faegen has in store for her readers.

In my humble opinion, all the novels in The Mephisto Covenant series has been perfectly executed, and I’ve loved them all immensely.  I highly suggest you read all three because they’re that superb, but book three is now definitely my favorite.  It’s so raw and deep, getting under your skin, leaving long lasting memories.

I am excited to see where this series goes from here, especially as Faegen gives readers a hint of what’s to come in the fourth installment of this epic series.  And, based on what I know from The Mephisto Mark, the fourth installment is going to go into uncharted waters.  It will be like none other, that’s for sure, and I can’t wait. Five stars.

5 stars

Pink Publishing, LLC has been extremely gracious in allowing me to read an ARC of this amazing novel, via Netgalley, prior to its release on September 24, 2013.

The Mephisto Covenant (#1)

The Mephisto Kiss (#2)

The Mephisto Mark (#3)



For Everly by Raine Thomas

Released: May 27, 2013

For Everly Tour Sidebar Button_AToMR Tours

Publisher: Iambe Books, LLC

Age Group: New Adult (17+)

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Tour organized by: AToMR Tours

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EverlyecoversmallFrom Goodreads: **Mature Content Warning** This is a New Adult novel recommended for ages 17+ due to language, sexual content, and mature subject matter.

Determined to overcome a dark and tragic past, college student Everly Wallace is only months away from earning her degree in physical therapy. She’s consumed with school, caring for her ailing grandfather, and figuring out how to pay the next bill. The last thing she wants is a relationship, but it just might be the one thing she needs.

Major League pitcher Cole Parker hasn’t fought for anything in his life. He went from a privileged upbringing to a multimillion dollar All-Star career. But when his pitching shoulder starts to give him trouble at only twenty-four years old, he faces the possibility of his injury becoming public knowledge and costing him everything.

In a desperate bid to save his career, Cole decides to hire someone to treat his injury, someone who will keep things off the record and out of the media. He finds the perfect solution in Everly. As mysterious as she is beautiful, she provides an enticing distraction from his pain. Soon, physical therapy is the last thing on his mind.

When an act of betrayal brings the truths they both fear to light, Cole will have to fight for the first time in his life…not just for his career, but for Everly’s love.

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For Everly is an absolutely beautiful novel that pulled me in from the very beginning, wrapped me up tight between the pages, and kept me glued to the powerful storyline until the very last page.  Both Everly and Cole are vivid, real characters that hold a presence that’s impossible to ignore; it’s as if they lift off the pages and come to life before the reader’s very eyes, and long after the end they still resonate in our minds and hearts.

Raine Thomas has written a pure gem in this tale of love and redemption, investing readers in the story from page one as Cole comes tearing onto the scene in a very literal sense.  Though it took me a little while to warm up to Cole due to his numerous mistakes and occasionally dangerous actions, his heartfelt remorse made him likeable and real.  And as the story unfolds, and he learns the truth about Everly’s past and heartache, his love and will to protect her from all harm make him just shy of perfect in my eyes.

But Everly certainly isn’t a push over character in need saving.  She has a strong will, works hard for a living, cares for her grandfather, and puts other’s needs before her own.  She’s exceptionally smart, doesn’t fool around, and she has her head on straight, which makes her instantly likable in my eyes.  Yes, she has a rather abrasive past, though no fault of her own, and Thomas’ compelling novel also promotes extremely important themes concerning depression, suicide, and abuse.  These are difficult and heavy topics to address, yet Thomas lays their reality bare in such a delicate manner that it isn’t overbearing, yet it speaks loudly enough to capture the readers attention and root for Everly, Cole, and her grandfather as set back after set back lands in their path, some of which have deadly potential.  Five stars.

5 starsI received a review copy of novel from ATOMR Tours in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads – http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17835522-for-everly

Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/For-Everly-ebook/dp/B00D0TB1CE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1375889867&sr=8-1&keywords=for+everly

Barnes and Noble – http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/for-everly-raine-thomas/1115426502?ean=9781939453051

For Everly Book Trailer Link: http://youtu.be/5P2oZJupu6U

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Raine ThomasAbout the Author

Raine Thomas is the award-winning author of a series of YA Fantasy/Romance novels about the Estilorian plane, including the Daughters of Saraqael Trilogy and the Firstborn Trilogy, and a New Adult Contemporary Romance, For Everly. She is a proud member of Romance Writers of America and is a contributing blogger to The Writer’s Voice. When she isn’t planning weddings, writing, or glued to social networking sites, she can usually be found on one of Florida’s beautiful beaches with her husband and daughter or crossing the border to visit with her Canadian friends and relatives.

Author Social Media Links:

Twitter (http://twitter/Raine_Thomas)
Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/rainethomas)
Goodreads (http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5053436.Raine_Thomas)
Pinterest (http://pinterest.com/raine_thomas/)
Linkedin (http://www.linkedin.com/pub/raine-thomas/53/111/bb3)
Website (http://rainethomas.com)
Blog (http://RaineThomas.com/blog/)

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13617804From Goodreads: Dane Washington is one suspension away from expulsion. In a high school full of “haves,” being a “have not” makes Dane feel like life is hurtling toward one big dead end. Billy D. spends his high school days in Special Ed and he’s not exactly a “have” himself. The biggest thing Billy’s missing? His dad. Billy is sure the riddles his father left in an atlas are really clues to finding him again and through a bizarre turn of events, he talks Dane into joining him on the search.

A bully and a boy with Down syndrome makes for an unlikely friendship, but together, they work through the clues, leading to unmarked towns and secrets of the past. But they’re all dead ends. Until the final clue . . . and a secret Billy shouldn’t have been keeping.

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This is the story of an unlikely relationship that blooms from a bargain.  Dane is a hothead loner from the wrong side of the tracks that hates the world. Billy has down syndrome and just wants to find his father and learn to protect himself. Together, through clues left in an atlas, they begin to decipher the mystery that is Billy’s world, and they end up on some wild adventures, some of which seemed a little far-fetched to me, but then again, I was never the adventurous rebellious type, so I have limited experience when it comes to the run ins these two find themselves in. Honestly, this is a very intriguing story, but I never really connected with either of the characters.

I have to admit I was very intrigued by Billy’s cunning, though. I liked that very much and I feel that Lange works to dispel a lot of stereotypical thoughts through his character, which is great. I also liked the mystery surrounding the atlas, though the final revelation was somewhat disheartening. Of course, novels with their happy endings aren’t the norm in real life, as it were, and I feel like Lange is actually presenting a very real look at life in presenting the truth about Billy’s father.  It’s a little jarring, but one that many readers will probably figure out relatively quickly based on the foreshadowing, but it’s not real for the reader until the final blowout and Billy’s admittance.

Overall, this is a coming of age story, though, in the end, nothing is really resolved, leaving readers with just a small glimmer of hope. I was also left with some questions concerning legalities within the novel, but overall it was a good, clean read. Three stars.

3 stars

Bloomsbury USA Children’s Books has been extremely gracious in allowing me to read an ARC of this novel, via Netgalley, prior to its release on September 3, 2013.



whaleFrom Goodreads: There’s bad news and good news about the Cutter High School swim team. The bad news is that they don’t have a pool. The good news is that only one of them can swim anyway. A group of misfits brought together by T. J. Jones (the J is redundant), the Cutter All Night Mermen struggle to find their places in a school that has no place for them. T.J. is convinced that a varsity letter jacket–exclusive, revered, the symbol (as far as T.J. is concerned) of all that is screwed up at Cutter High–will also be an effective tool. He’s right. He’s also wrong. Still, it’s always the quest that counts. And the bus on which the Mermen travel to swim meets soon becomes the space where they gradually allow themselves to talk, to fit, to grow. Together they’ll fight for dignity in a world where tragedy and comedy dance side by side, where a moment’s inattention can bring lifelong heartache, and where true acceptance is the only prescription for what ails us.

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This isn’t a book I would normally pick up to read because sports novels really aren’t my thing, but since I am seriously lacking sports novels on my Outside Reading List for my students, and students keep asking me to add more, I read this novel on the recommendation of the school librarian.

Overall, it was a good story.  It’s well written and deals with many emotional topics, such as bullying, abuse, hatred, and even death.  Crutcher treads lightly, and I liked how he broached each topic throughout his novel, making this a great MG or YA read.  Although not really a swim team, T.J. Jones brings together a band of misfits who, through practice, swim meets, and long bus rides, learn to trust one another.  Through their personal stories that they share with one another, readers are further able to connect with them on a deeper level, and I enjoyed this aspect of the novel.  While I wasn’t necessarily a fan of T.J. and his cocky demeanor, I don’t think he means any harm; he’s just trying to do right by those around him and to dispel the bullying and prejudice others hold against himself, his friends, and even his family.  The ending is somewhat depressing, in my opinion, but overall it works to bring everything together and I thought it was a good read.  If you have any younger males looking for a good story, especially if they’re into sports, then I highly recommend this novel to them. Three stars.

3 stars

I borrowed this novel from the library.



15710557From Goodreads: “I can’t weep. I can’t fear. I’ve grown talented at pretending.

Elizabeth Caldwell doesn’t feel emotions . . . she sees them. Longing, Shame, and Courage materialize around her classmates. Fury and Resentment appear in her dysfunctional home. They’ve all given up on Elizabeth because she doesn’t succumb to their touch. All, that is, save one—Fear. He’s intrigued by her, as desperate to understand the accident that changed Elizabeth’s life as she is herself.

Elizabeth and Fear both sense that the key to her past is hidden in the dream paintings she hides in the family barn. But a shadowy menace has begun to stalk her, and try as she might, Elizabeth can barely avoid the brutality of her life long enough to uncover the truth about herself. When it matters most, will she be able to rely on Fear to save her?

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I really enjoyed how completely unique this novel ended up being. Elizabeth does not feel emotion, so she forces herself to play the part day in and day out as she struggles through her abusive existence. Her ability to talk to the emotions was intriguing and I liked how they materialized from nowhere and were able to carbon copy themselves to control all human emotions in the world at the same time. The novel went off in a completely different direction than I thought it would, and I loved the surprises. Kudos to Sutton because I believe it’s virtually impossible to write a character with zero emotions, and Sutton does a very good job with this, even though on occasion Elizabeth does show emotion in a muted sort of sense.

This novel has a great pace, but I felt that the ending went on for much longer than it needed to.  Everything seems to come to a climax about 70% in, but it doesn’t end there. Instead, it takes a turn for the worst and a whole new story seems to develop, fleshing out the truth behind Elizabeth’s past, and while it was definitely well done, I just found it a little long for my tastes.

I also would have liked to see the weak, abusive characters get their due. There are multiple instances in which characters hurt, mock, and abuse Elizabeth, and she allows it because she does not feel emotion, but these evil people are never put to task for their actions. Bullying should never go unpunished, and neither should abuse, in my opinion, and I really would have liked to see repercussions for these actions.

But all in all, this is a very interesting story about emotions, or lack there of, and the different plains that exist outside our reality.  I’ve never thought of emotions as having human thoughts and feelings (sort of like the four horsemen, in a way), and I loved how their characterization came across to really show their traits.  Fears appearance, actions, and dialogue fit him well, as did Courage’s and all the other emotions.  As I said before, this novel went in a completely different direction than I expected it to, and it was a fun read, though a little drawn out here and there.  Three and a half stars.

3.5 starsFlux books has been extremely gracious in allowing me to read this novel, via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.



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