Archive for the ‘4 Star Books’ Category

Lie Lay Lain by Bryn Greenwood

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Lie Lay Lain is the story of Jennifer and Olivia, and of the  people in their separate and shared orbits. The two know each other at the outset of the book, as they attend the same church, but their lives are completely different. Jennifer is engaged, part of an extended social circle, and has a good job. Olivia is single and lives at home with her parent and older brother, who suffered a brain injury in a motorcycle accident and cannot live independently. She works in the church that her family has always attended and has no life outside of home and church.

I think that people generally expect to be prepared in life for the big decisions that change everything (choosing a career path, who to date, where to live, etc), but neither Jennifer nor Olivia could have imagined the changes that they would experience as a result of the lies that they tell. In doing a kindness for a dying woman, Jennifer feels a sense of responsibility to see that promise through, although only Olivia seems to understand why Jennifer wants to check up on Shani, daughter of the dead woman. Jennifer becomes invested in Shani’s welfare, at times paying less attention to her job and her relationship with her fiancé. Olivia’s sense of guilt over lying makes her turn a small untruth, that she is dating a paramedic, into reality. Asking Rindell out on a date is her first step toward becoming an Olivia she never suspects could even exist. Her new romantic relationship confuses and excites her, but helps her find the courage to be less passive with others in her life.

This book is engaging and gripping, and I skipped working on an this awesome hat that I’m knitting to keep reading it. Respect. Even if the story had been only so-so, I would say that this book is worth reading just for the perspective on truth, lies, and honesty. Who could fault Jennifer for helping to ease a dying woman’s mind, or Olivia for trying to keep people out of her business? While there are some pretty blatant bad lies in this book, most instances of dishonesty are less clear-cut in their right or wrongness. Amazingly, as if encouraging heavy rumination on the nature of truth isn’t enough of an accomplishment, Ms. Greenwood also manages to squeeze in a nuanced perspective on race and identity in the midst of all of the other things happening in this book. Although this book is relegated on Netgalley to the Women’s Fiction ghetto, I would recommend this book to any lover of well-written fiction.

 

Full Measures by Rebecca Yarros

Title:Full Measures
Author:Rebecca Yarros
PublisherEntangled Publishing
Publication Date:February 10, 2014
Publisher's DescriptionThree knocks can change everything…

"She knew. That’s why Mom hadn’t opened the door. She knew he was dead."

Twenty years as an army brat and Ember Howard knew, too. The soldiers at the door meant her dad was never coming home. What she didn’t know was how she would find the strength to singlehandedly care for her crumbling family when her mom falls apart.

Then Josh Walker enters her life. Hockey star, her new next-door neighbor, and not to mention the most delicious hands that insist on saving her over and over again. He has a way of erasing the pain with a single look, a single touch. As much as she wants to turn off her feelings and endure the heartache on her own, she can’t deny their intense attraction.

Until Josh’s secret shatters their world. And Ember must decide if he’s worth the risk that comes with loving a man who could strip her bare.
My rating:****

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I really enjoyed this book. Ms. Yarros did a great job depicting the agony experienced by Ember’s family in the wake of her father’s death, and of showing how each family member coped and moved on. Ember was a great character; she was strong for her family and for herself, and I totally understood why Josh liked her so much. This novel was heavy, but the emotions presented always felt genuine, and not just there to up the novel’s emotional ante. I highly recommend this book to fans of new adult, military, and contemporary romance in general.

I received this book from Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.

Believe by Erin McCarthy

Title:Believe
Author:Erin McCarthy
PublisherPenguin Group
Publication Date:January 2014
Publisher's DescriptionRobin used to be a party girl… until she got black out drunk and woke up in bed with her best friend's boyfriend. Now she's faced with being THAT girl, and couldn't be more disgusted with herself. She can't even tell her friends the reason for her sudden sobriety and she avoids everyone until she meets Phoenix—quiet, tattooed, and different in every way that's good and oh, so bad…

Phoenix is two days out of jail when he meets Robin at his cousin's house, and he knows that he has no business talking to her, but he's drawn to her quiet demeanor, sweet smile, and artistic talent. She doesn't care that he's done time, or that he only has five bucks to his name, and she supports his goal to be a tattoo artist.

But Phoenix knows Robin has a secret, and that it's a naïve dream to believe that his record won't catch up with them at some point. Though neither is prepared for the explosive result when the past collides with the present…
My rating:****

believeI found this book totally heartbreaking and ultimately satisfying. I feel that I connected to it in a way that I think a lot of New Adult titles try and fail to reach me, the reader. Robin’s sense of bewilderment at what her life has become and subsequent heartbreak is so palpable that it’s hard to witness, and I kept wishing that she didn’t spend so much of the book feeling alone. Likewise, Phoenix’s criminal record and jail time isolate him from the people that one would expect him to be able to lean on; I’m glad that he and Robin find each other. I like their dynamic, and the cautious but hopeful way that they get to know each other. I love that they are both artists, and are able to connect with and understand each other on that level. I really believed this relationship, and that these characters don’t just need somebody, but that they specifically each fulfill some need in the other person.

I didn’t realize when picking up this book that it was the third in the series, although it became clear pretty early one when other couples appeared. Regardless, this book can be read as a standalone title without losing anything, although I liked it enough that I am going to go back and read the first two books. I’ve read other books by Erin McCarthy, and although I’m sure that I enjoyed them, this is by far my favorite of her works.

I received this book free of charge through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review and my knowledge of Jimmy Hoffa’s whereabouts.

Perfect Summer by Katie Graykowski

Title:Perfect Summer
Author:Katie Graykowski
PublisherSelf published
Publication Date:October 2013
Publisher's DescriptionHigh school teacher Summer Ames is trapped in the nightmare morning from hell. Her alarm clock didn’t go off, she accidentally backed over the rosebush her grandfather gave her grandmother right before he accepted defeat against prostate cancer, she’s wearing clothes she picked up off the floor, and when she opens the door to her classroom, the lights from the TV cameras nearly blind her. She's won Teacher of the Year. But unlike the past winners, she doesn't get a new car or a Hawaiian vacation or even new school supplies, she wins an over privileged quarterback with a bright smile and questionable intentions.

Clint Grayson is an NFL quarterback in need of a reputation makeover. If he has any hope of landing a hundred million dollar endorsement deal, it will take some pretty impressive PR for the public to forget the photos of his battered and bruised ex-girlfriend. In an attempt to polish his tarnished reputation, Clint agrees to be a high school class mentor.

When these two get together all hell breaks loose and they both learn that all is fair in love and football…and winning is just the beginning.
My rating:***.5

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I really enjoyed this book. Summer’s belief that she was fat and unloveable was sad, but while it stained credulity a bit (why is there such a massive disconnect between characters about whether she’s curvy, fat, or obese?), I found her to be sympathetic and was invested in things working out for her and Clint. I liked that Davis and Lilly’s stories were included here as well. It’s good that this particular evil Texan mother repented, although there were things that went unexplained that I would have liked to see resolved (like, why is Lilly holding out on giving Summer her money?). I enjoyed this book enough to pick up Place Your Betts by the same author immediately after finishing this novel.

Faster Harder & Faster Deeper by Colleen Masters

Title:Faster, Harder (Take Me...1)
Author:Colleen Masters
PublisherHearts Collective
Publication Date:October 2013
Publisher's DescriptionHow does a responsible, intelligent, career-driven girl find herself half-naked and hooking up with a bad boy Formula One driver in a Barcelona night club bathroom stall?

Siena Lazio is a lot of things but reckless isn't one of them.

She's only in her mid-twenties and already Team Ferrelli's Director of Public Relations and heiress to the top Formula One racing team. The esteemed daughter of Alfonso Lazio, the greatest driver F1 has ever seen, Siena seems to have it all figured out. All she has to do is uphold her family's honor and ensure her brother Enzo's public image is pristine while he rises to fame and clenches the title as Formula One's new champion.

Everything is perfect...

...Until she's swept mercilessly off her feet by the one man she can never be with. The one man who can fuck it all up.

Harrison Davies is Team McClain's secret weapon and he's the only driver who threatens to steal the championship from Enzo. The tattooed British bad boy knows how to get what he wants. And always gets what he wants.

Harrison and Siena fall deeper and deeper with each secret tryst. Passion flares, reality fades, and the lines between right and wrong begin to blur. Driven by lust and ambition the couple delves into a world of treachery, deceit, lies, and ultimate betrayal. Is Siena ready to place her fragile heart into the hands of a speed demon and will the thrill of falling for him be worth it when they wreck?

Book #1 in the Take Me... Series
Full Length New Adult Contemporary Romance Novel
READERS 18+ ONLY - Contains adult themes and explicit sexual content.
My rating:***.5

fhLet’s just get this out of the way: these titles are so on the nose that they’re hilarious. It’s like the author gave a 14-year-old naming rights to her works. That being said: it doesn’t matter what you call these books, they’re entertaining. The separation of books one and two in this series felt arbitrary and artificial to me; the action in these books take place over a portion of a single F1 season, which is still taking place going into the third book (I gather, from book 2′s epilogue). I will never understand the compulsion to break into three parts stories that should be two or even one book. What is gained in revenue will probably be lost in poor reviews from readers who don’t appreciate the tactic. The revelation at the end of the second book felt like a fitting place to pick up the action in this series, and would have made for a more natural break from the first part of the story.

Another thing: this is a very enjoyable series, but these books should not be considered “new adult”. This is a contemporary romance novel featuring adult characters, period. The protagonists aren’t on the brink of adulthood, they’re full-fledged adults of 25 and 28(ish) with demanding jobs, extensive social support networks, and only semi-tragic parents. Having determined what I think these books are not, let me tell you now what they are: hot, enjoyable little escapes from reality.

I appreciate that Ms. Masters gave us a bit more character development than people might think to expect from erotic romance titles. I liked seeing Siena embrace with both hands what she wants out of life; when hot, sexy Harrison is who she’s embracing, so much the better. In a few well-executed scenes, Ms. Masters was able to show that pre-Harrison, Siena typically balanced familial duty with her own wants in such as way that her own desires always took a backseat to everything F1-related (sorry for the car metaphor; totally unintentional). Likewise, although there’s less of Harrison’s backstory and none of his perspective, he seems to change for the better once he becomes involved with Siena.

Title:Faster, Deeper (Take Me...2)
Author:Colleen Masters
PublisherHearts Collective
Publication Date:November 2013
Publisher's DescriptionFast Cars.

Beautiful Women.

Sexy Drivers.

Pain, Lies, Deceit, Tears, Violence, Anger, Blackmail, Passion, Love, Lust...

Sex.

Siena wants Harrison, needs him, more than anything in the world, but she's falling in love with a man she can't have—Not without losing everything and everyone she's ever loved.

Harrison's set his sights on Siena and nothing can stand in his way—He's going to get her, or die trying.

Book #2 in the Take Me... Series.

A Contemporary Romance/New Adult Romance Novel.
My rating:***.5

fdAlthough their romance is undeniably hot, seeing Siena become her own person, instead a cog in the Ferrelli machine or a supporting player in the Enzo show, was what I found to be most rewarding about these books. I liked how she and Harrison have to figure out how to navigate their relationship, and that they both make realistic missteps. I am anxious to learn of the resolution to their problems, and can’t wait to read book three.

I gave this book a 3.5/4 star rating, because I’m annoyed that I had to pay for a second book when this should have been one $3.99 title, but this is why Jesus invented Kobo coupon codes (50DEC).

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