Books: The Cheapest Vacation You Can Buy











The Kiss of DeceptionFrom Goodreads: In this timeless new trilogy about love and sacrifice, a princess must find her place in a reborn world.

In a society steeped in tradition, Princess Lia’s life follows a preordained course. As First Daughter, she is expected to have the revered gift of sight—but she doesn’t—and she knows her parents are perpetrating a sham when they arrange her marriage to secure an alliance with a neighboring kingdom—to a prince she has never met.

On the morning of her wedding, Lia flees to a distant village. She settles into a new life, hopeful when two mysterious and handsome strangers arrive—and unaware that one is the jilted prince and the other an assassin sent to kill her. Deception abounds, and Lia finds herself on the brink of unlocking perilous secrets—even as she finds herself falling in love.

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This novel is fairly intense; although the beginning had a bit of a slow start, as the novel evolved, I found myself completely wrapped up in the world that Pearson has created in this fantastical novel. Lia is a well-written, layered character, and as the story progresses we learn so much about her. She is strong-willed, compassionate, devious, and good-hearted all in one, and getting to know her was an absolute joy. Her plight is one that, while I don’t identify with from personal experience, I completely understand—if you’ve ever found yourself in a situation with no decent possible outcomes, then you, too, will be able to connect with Lia’s thoughts and feelings as this novel unfolds.

Reader beware, tissues are a necessity. I was not expecting it in the least, but Pearson definitely made me ugly cry on multiple occasions as I read. There are some awful situations that leave the characters destitute and destroyed, and as Pearson wove the story, I found myself caring for even those I thought I hated. Thankfully, the novel is not too graphic when it comes to the gruesomeness that is war, and the novel is 100% clean as well, which is an added bonus, but know going in that when you least expect, Lia’s world will come crashing down on you. I wept more times than I can count, but I loved it just the same. Pearson has created a poignancy that permeates the story, and it’s amazing.

In terms of other characters, I found myself falling hard for Rafe almost instantly. It’s the tragic “what if” scenario—if either Rafe or Lia had to have submitted to their impending marriage, none of the tragedy would have ensued, but at the same time, neither would have the love. For Lia and Rafe’s sake, I wish they would have gone along with the pressures of their society in this one instance, but I loved their story just the same. Pearson really draws the reader in with her characterization and pacing, and I highly recommend picking up this novel.

I will admit that the cliffhanger in this one made me angry, though. It’s such a great story, and about 80% in I knew there weren’t enough pages left for it to have a satisfactory conclusion—and it didn’t. We are left with an awful cliffhanger that just isn’t fair—I need book two now. Four stars.

4 starsI received this novel from the publisher, via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.  This title releases July 8.

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Of Noble BirthFrom Goodreads: He Was a Man Who Took What He Wanted. And He Wanted Her.

To escape her cruel stepfather, seamstress Alexandra Cogsworth envisioned sailing far from England…though not as a captive aboard a pirate’s ship. Pirate Captain Nathaniel Kent’s strategy for exacting revenge on his cold-hearted father involved taking a valuable hostage…not a seamstress he mistakenly thinks is his half sister. Yet fate has designs of its own, landing them both on board the Royal Vengeance.

At sea, Nathaniel intercepts and plunders his father’s ships, all the while tormented by his illicit hunger for the tempting prisoner he thinks is his blood relation. And although Alexandra wants no part in this terrifying voyage, to reveal her true identity to the handsome, blue-eyed Nathaniel would invite danger. Not only would she become worthless cargo, but the revelation would surely unleash what she and Nathaniel have been fiercely battling – a rising undercurrent of impossible desire that could sweep them away for good.

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Truth be told, I tend to flock to the YA section of the bookstore, so Novak’s novel, Of Noble Birth wasn’t even on my radar until a review request piqued my interest, and I am very glad for it. Sometimes I miss out on gems like this historical romance because of my gravitation towards YA, and it takes books like this one to remind me to expand my horizons.

Novak’s novel is awesome. It’s not too hot and heavy, which is great for a prudish reader like me, but it does have just enough romance and steamy kisses/smoldering glances to really make it a romantic adult novel, and as one of my first in this category, I have to admit that I really enjoyed it. The story itself is extremely interesting from the very beginning, as readers learn of Nathan’s birth, his missing arm, and his father’s murderous intent due to the “imperfection,” as he deems it. The novel then jumps ahead about twenty years, presenting readers with the now grown Nathan and a new character we quickly fall in love with, Alexandra.

A seamstress, Alexandra gets more than she bargained for when she dons a proper ladies dress in hopes of escaping the notice of her drunken step-father. Unfortunately, she finds herself in the wrong place at the wrong time, and Nathan, now a rogue pirate intent on harming his estranged nobleman father as much as possible, mistakes Alexandra for his half-sister. As events unfold, and the mistaken identity plays itself out, both of these main characters, intent on a better life, find themselves suddenly falling for one another, a revelation that neither of them can admit, and their snarky retorts and slow dance around one another is incredibly well-written.

I loved being whisked away on the high seas, and I really enjoyed getting to know the characters as well—though a little gruff and unforgiving, they really do work their way into the readers heart. While a little repetitive at times, and a tad long, the case of mistaken identity was humorous and an enjoyable aspect of the novel—one I liked very much. If you’re like me and usually stick to YA or NA novels, I highly suggest giving this one a go; it’s unique and much fun, especially as Nathan comes to realize his mistake and everything comes crashing down upon him. Spanning multiple years, with up and downs on all fronts, Novak really engages her readers; this is not one to miss. Four stars.

4 stars

I received this novel from the author in exchange for an honest review.  This novel is being re-released on May 27, 2014.

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The Rules for BreakingFrom Goodreads: Anna Boyd almost lost her life to get what she wanted most in the world: freedom.

But just when it seems that her family has finally escaped Witness Protection, the illusion that Anna could resume a normal life comes crashing down.

The deadly man Anna knows as Thomas is still on the loose, and now he’s using her as a pawn in a dangerous game with the drug cartel determined to silence her forever. When Thomas and a mysterious masked man capture not only Anna but also her fragile younger sister and her boyfriend, Anna decides it’s time to break all the rules-even if it means teaming up with the lesser of two evils.

Anna will do whatever it takes to protect the people she loves and win her life back once and for all. But her true enemies are hidden in plain sight. Before long, Anna will learn that putting her trust in anyone may be the last mistake she ever makes.

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Somehow I keep missing the fact that the books I’m picking up are indeed sequels and not the first in a series. Luckily, like Elston’s novel, I didn’t need to read the first novel in order to understand the second from the get go. While I do wish I’d read the first, mainly because Elston does such a great job writing this intense heart-pounding story, you don’t need to (though I eventually will because this one was so awesome).

Elston introduces readers to her characters and paints the entire background for readers without even letting on that she’s doing it. I actually read 25% of the novel before I began to wonder if maybe it was a sequel, and that right there is a testament to Elston’s sheer writing capabilities.

When Anna, Ethan, and Teensy are abducted by Thomas, a trained assassin that’s been on their tale for far too long, the plot thickens immensely, and it isn’t obvious who should be trusted. While a serious jerk, Thomas has qualities that make Anna question whether or not he really intends to harm them, and I have to admit, I was on his side for a while, too. Someone is not telling the truth, though, and it could be any number of people, from Thomas, to Tyler, to any of the FBI agents… someone is not to be trusted, and Elston takes readers on a ride while it all comes to a head.

I really enjoyed the characterization, and while I certainly didn’t agree with half the decisions Anna makes in the novel, I have to admit that I probably would have been in the same boat had it been me. I found that all the characters reacted in a real way throughout the novel, and that really made it even more scary. Imagine being kidnapped and knowing you were most likely going to die. Yikes.  I highly recommend this one to any and all YA readers out there looking for a heart-pounding adventure.  Four stars.

4 starsI received an ARC of this novel from the publisher during NCTE 2013 in exchange for an honest review prior to its release tomorrow, May 20, 2014.

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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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Crows Row (Crows Row #1)

(Re-edited & new content!)

Release Date: April 11th 2014

Crow's Row

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For college student Emily Sheppard, the thought of spending a summer alone in New York is much more preferable than spending it in France with her parents.

Just completing her freshman year at Callister University, Emily faces a quiet summer in the city slums, supporting herself by working at the campus library.

During one of her jogs through the nearby cemetery while visiting her brother Bill’s grave, Emily witnesses a brutal killing—and then she blacks out. When Emily regains consciousness, she realizes she’s been kidnapped by a young crime boss and his gang.

She is hurled into a secret underworld, wondering why she is still alive and for how long.

Held captive in rural Vermont, she tries to make sense of her situation and what it means. While uncovering secrets about her brother and his untimely death, Emily falls in love with her very rich and very dangerous captor, twenty- six-year-old Cameron. She understands it’s a forbidden love and one that won’t allow her to return to her previous life.

But love may not be enough to save Emily when no one even knows she is missing.

 

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Scare Crow

(Crows Row #2)

Release Date: April 16th 2014

Scare Crow

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unnamedNineteen-year-old Emily Sheppard is losing her sanity.  

Ever since her mob king boyfriend, Cameron Hillard, abandoned her for her own good, Emmy has been attempting to move on with her charmed college student life as if nothing happened. Now rejected from the underworld and left grieving over Cameron’s alleged death, Emmy realizes she belongs nowhere.  Worse yet, she is now keeping a dangerous secret. 

After just a short time with Emily, Cameron has lost control over his world. 

As he miserably attempts to return to what is left of his life and unravel the mess he has made of the underworld, Emily’s hate turns to desperation. She needs to kill the kingpins responsible for Cameron’s death before they come looking for her. As Cameron secretly observes Emily, he has no idea of the danger he has placed her in—or that it may already be too late for him to save her.

Scare Crow is a tale of revenge, terror, and love as Emmy and Cameron embark on separate journeys to face enemies, correct past mistakes, and………….. find their way to their destinies.

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A former germaphobe and clean-freak turned mother of two, Julie collects enough tears and snot in a month to recreate Slimer Monster from Ghostbusters. Other than playing devoted wife and mama, Julie is the funniest person in the room (according to the 3 year-old and 2 year-old in said room) and can build the most awesome Lego rocket ship you’ve ever set your eyes on (according to her). Oh, and she has a full time career and has also written a bestselling novel. Superhero, or just downright insane?
 

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