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Friday, August 29, 2014

ARC Review: Guardian by Courtney Cole


When I began reading this story, I had no idea what to expect. I found myself drawn to the main character Whitney Lane. She is strong, yet vulnerable and wise beyond her sixteen years. The story starts after Whitney experiences the death of her father Peter Lane, where she was actually present during the unexpected tragedy, followed by putting her father’s memory to rest. She is so devastated, and to make matters worse, she has become the sole provider in the home despite her mother being very much alive. I truly loved how the author brought life to her characters by way of them experiencing emotions so vividly. One could never comprehend how many people go through the pain of loss, grow up too fast, or how many become swallowed by grief. I honestly was surprised to find such raw emotion in a novel that is completely applicable to real life. Therefore, it goes without saying that Courtney Cole truly did write this book with every part of her being.

Whitney is an older sister to little Ellie, who is understandably quiet and introspective now that she has experienced death so close to her as a little girl. Whitney instantly assumes the role of Mother in the home because their mom has disassociated herself from the real world; she is like a ghost to her daughters. While Maricel Lane (the mother) is slowly withering away from what appears to be depression, Whitney is caring for her sister, paying the bills in her mother’s name, and slowly forgetting what it’s like to be a teenager. Then, of course, she finds herself enamored by a boy named Brady who has been a student for the past two years. Now, I’ll admit that I instantly found this unusual since Whitney’s best friend Delaney has always been the one to admit her fascination with the pretty boy football star of the school, not Whitney; until now.

On top of her attraction to Brady that happens suddenly, she is strangely curious about a new boy who has arrived in town named Carter. This interest made much more sense to me because not only does Carter appear to be equally attractive in comparison with Brady, but he seems to hate Whitney. Every time he sees her, she feels like he is trying to sear her flesh, his gaze is so dark with emotion that appears to be hate-filled. So, naturally, Whitney is drawn to him because the situation is inexplicable and young girls have a tendency to lock onto target’s they cannot have. With that said, it becomes clear soon afterward that there are supernatural forces at work around Whitney, and that these two boys both play a part.

Brady seems so perfect; he manages to be empathetic regarding Whitney’s mom and her catatonic behavior. He even enlists his father whom happens to be a psychiatrist to help. Carter turns out to be a really sweet guy, albeit a little bit of a tortured soul. With that said, after Samuel comes into the picture as Whitney’s guardian angel, nothing is as it seems. Nearly every person who appears to be helping her, who appears to be loyal, is using her; tricking her. Samuel, of course, cannot interfere by guiding Whitney to make decisions, but he is always watching out for her safety.

After Samuel’s appearance, I began to view the story as unique because of angels and demons existing so closely among humans. I liked how the author brought free will into the mix and how demons could create circumstances to push evil forward in a human’s decision making. However, it was hard for me to get on board with the idea that every single person has a plan according to God. That idea has been among many peoples’ beliefs for so very long, but according to the angel Samuel, what is supposed to happen to an individual is basically mapped out for potentially years in the making. If this is true, if our “plan” is mapped out for us, then we truly do not have as much freedom as we think. After all, despite our having free will to make our own decisions, all roads lead to our intended destiny regardless. That idea was a little hard for me to swallow, simply because I have a hard time liking the idea of anyone or anything having any control of my life. With that said, this is a story, so I suppose that if the writing made me think so deeply about one detail, the book is a success.

Ultimately, Whitney is a part of a disastrous plot involving demons and a plan to overtake the human world; to overthrow God and the angels. Her family just happened to be involved because of unforeseen circumstances. Her dad was an archaeologist and somehow his work is intertwined with ancient evil. Whitney is caught in the middle and somehow has to save her family, herself, and the world. Luckily, with the help of her guardian angel, a special boy with roots that go back to the beginning, and her own bravery, she wins the battle. To say that this story was great would be an understatement. There is creativity in each aspect brought to the book in the action, romance, and tragedy. I thought a few parts were predictable, but I only had an idea for the possibilities, not how the book itself would play out. Therefore, I can honestly say that I would be more than happy to get my hands on any books that Courtney Cole writes.

**ARC provided by InkSlinger PR**

Purchase: | Amazon | Kindle | B&N | Kobo | iTunes |



ARC Review: Rival Love by Natalie Decker


At this point, I don't read that many young adult books anymore. Not that I am against them, but there just usually aren't that many that really grab my attention. When I read the blurb for Rival Love by Natalie Decker though, I really wanted to get that story. I love a good enemies to lovers story, and I am a sucker for books with sports in them. Rival Love is the debut novel from Natalie Decker, so I was a little apprehensive about it but was hoping for the best. While I did enjoy a lot of this story, I also had some things that I didn't enjoy. I think that this was a good debut despite everything I had issues with though and I would look for more from Natalie Decker in the future.

Skylar Fletcher is a proud Bulldog! She lives for her sports, friends and boyfriend. She has her future all mapped out and has positioned herself to be as successful as possible. But when her mom decides to move in with her boyfriend Brian, Skylar knows her life is about to change. As if moving in with Brian wasn't bad enough, he lives in Bobcat territory and is also a teacher there. Skylar knows that she will never fit in with the Bobcats, but things quickly go from bad to worse when she finds out that Brian's nephew that lives with them is non other than Caleb Morgan the popular quarterback for the Bobcats. Caleb and Skylar want nothing to do with one another and agree to keep their living situation a secret from everyone at school. As they start to get to know one another though, they begin to see that they aren't as different as they thought they were. As their attraction and feelings continue to grow, they both begin to wonder if there is any way a bulldog and a bobcat could be together?

One of my favorite things about YA books is that they aren't usually as serious and tend to be more playful in nature. Rival Love definitely had that fun and flirty feel to it, and I loved Caleb and Skylar's pranks. It was so much fun to see them being playful with one another even while they didn't really like each other, and I couldn't wait to see what they would do next. I thought that Caleb was a little gruff at times and he made some bad choices. But I also saw that he was a different guy than you first think, and he really started to care about Skylar. I liked that she brought out his protective side and that he would look out for her even if he did it without being obvious about it or anyone knowing. Skylar was smart and dedicated, and I can't imagine being put in the position she was. It would have been so hard to lose everything as a teenager like that and I thought that she handled it pretty well all things considered. I really liked watching Caleb and Skylar get to know one another, and start to open up to the idea of more between them.

I did have some issues with this story though. First, I didn't understand why Skylar was forced to switch schools. I understand that she moved, but it was mentioned more than once that it was a private school. If that was really the case then location of residence wouldn't have mattered and she could have still attended her former school as long as she took care of her commute. It just didn't work for me and was the basis of the story, which really bothered me. If the school would have been public instead of being said to be private, it wouldn't have been an issue at all. I also didn't understand why Caleb was with Danielle at all in this story. He didn't like her, his friends didn't like her, and there was really no point other than to start some drama and conflict. Just didn't work for me. I also thought that there were portions of this story that could have easily been omitted and wouldn't have changed the story at all. But for me the biggest problem I had was the ending. Things are left unresolved and on a cliffhanger. It felt rushed and abrupt, and I was left feeling completely unsatisfied. I assumed this was a standalone story based on the blurb and the fact that it was never mentioned to have a sequel, but I am really hoping that that is not the case. I feel like what readers were left with was fine as long as there will be more, but if there isn't another book coming I think that most readers will be left wanting more and unhappy with the ending. I do think that this was a good start for Natalie Decker despite everything, and I am hoping that she continues to tell Caleb and Skylar's story in another book in the future.

**ARC Provided by YA Bound Book Tours**

Purchase: | Amazon |





Guest Post with Author Dixie Lee Brown and Giveaway


DIXIE LEE BROWN lives and writes in Central Oregon, inspired by what she believes is the most gorgeous scenery anywhere. She resides with two dogs and a cat, who make sure she never takes herself too seriously. When she’s not writing, she enjoys reading, movies, and trips to the beach.

Places to find Dixie Lee:
| Site | Facebook | Twitter

Guest Post with Author Maggie Shayne and Giveaway


Maggie Shayne is best known as the New York Times bestselling author of more than 50 novels, nearly 30 novellas, a former soap writer, (The Guiding Light, As the World Turns,) a former advice columnist (Shayne on You,) and RITA Award winner. But what’s less known about her is that she’s been a practicing Witch for almost as long as she’s been a published author.

Known within the Craft of the Wise as LadyHawk the Mythmaker, Maggie studied in the Black Forest Circle Seminary for three years, earning her 1st, 2nd, and 3rd degree elevations there. A licensed minister of Wicca, Maggie was later made a Craft Elder, and co-founded a new Wiccan tradition called RavenMyst Circle. Her coven, The Coven of the Redtail Hawk, turned out five new high priestesses, several of whom went on to form covens of their own, and making Maggie, according to the Old Ways, A Witch Queen.

Maggie has published westerns, category romances, romantic suspense, paranormal romances, urban fantasy, women's fiction, and just about everything in between. She's a winner of the RITA Award, the romance fiction industry's most prestigious prize, and has won countless others including several RT BOOK RREVIEWS "Reviewer's Choice" Awards, two RT Career Achievement Awards, the Daphne du Maurier Award, The Golden Leaf Award and numerous others.

Maggie's "Twilight" series of vampire novels, officially known as Wings in the Night, began in 1993 with TWILIGHT PHANTASIES from Silhouette Shadows. The series concluded with TWILIGHT FULFILLED in October 2011, but has come back to life now that she has gone indie.

Find Maggie at:

Feature and Giveaway: The Earl's Mistress by Liz Carlyle


Women rarely refuse the wicked Earl of Hepplewood, whose sensual skills are the stuff of legend. But when his new governess answers his proposition with a slap to his face, then stalks out with references in hand, Hepplewood finds more than his face is left burning . . .

Isabella Aldridge has brains, bravado, and beauty-but the latter is no use to a servant. With orphaned sisters to feed, eviction nearing, and Hepplewood’s words ringing in her ears, Isabella realizes she must barter her most marketable asset . . .

But when fate unknowingly sends Isabella back into Hepplewood’s arms, the earl must make an impossible choice-draw Isabella down into his sensual darkness, or behave with honor for the first time in his life.

Purchase: | Amazon | Kindle | B&N |