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ARC Review + Blitz: Defensive Play by Jamie Deacon

Synopsis for Defensive Play (from Goodreads):

One glance is all it takes to bring his defences crashing down…

Seventeen-year-old Davey has never made friends easily. Shy, geeky, crippled with social anxiety, he feels isolated from his peers, and only his position as defender for the school football team fills the void of loneliness. On the pitch, his deft footwork has earned him the respect and acceptance of his squad, though at a price. Desperate to hold onto this camaraderie, Davey conceals the truth from everyone, even his own family.

Then, during the annual Brookshire football tournament, his eyes meet those of a rival player across the field and a spark flares between them, one neither boy can deny. Adam is everything Davey longs to be—confident, popular, comfortable with his sexuality. Davey aches to explore their connection, to discover where it might lead, but how can he follow his heart and risk rejection by his teammates, the closest thing to friends he has ever known?

Other books in the series:

breakdown

Series: Boys on the Brink
Author: Jamie Deacon
# of Books: 2 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order:  Standalone
Complete?: Unsure
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Sports, LGBT, MM Romance, Realistic Fiction
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: November 30, 2018
Source & Format: Author–eARC

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thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Over the course of the last year, I’ve had tremendous luck with gay romances; specifically, adult sport ones. So when Jamie asked me to read his newest YA sports novella, it just seemed like an obvious “yes” to me.

The Plot:

I always worry when I pick up a novella that things will seemed rushed or underdeveloped; but I’m happy to say that wasn’t the case here! This was a quick read but one that packs a lot of punch and love into it.

And it is also so genuine! I could easily see this story happening in real life and I think that’s part of the charm of it. The problems and insecurities these characters have could happen to anyone and are likely happening right now. It’s just a beautiful story that doesn’t rely on overdramatic plot devices to be an entertaining read.

The Characters:

I loved watching Davey become confident in himself. I think his story is one many people (boys and girls, regardless of sexual orientation) can relate to–finding the confidence in who you truly are. He transforms before your eyes and I always appreciate that in my stories.

Adam is this great counterpart to Davey’s story in so many ways. He isn’t perfect–he too has had some bumps along the way–but I think that makes this story all that more charming by showing off those all too human qualities. It would have been great to get his POV as well but I learned enough about his through Davey to be satisfied with his character.

The Romance:

Simply put: adorable! I loved the slow burning tension this one had! It starts as a friendship and slowly becomes more. It was the perfect vessel to get the point of the story across.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

This is the only story I’ve read in the series, but it has definitely impressed me so I can’t wait to further explore this series!

My Rating: 4/5

Caught Inside N/A | [Defensive Play 4/5]

overall
A sweet, realistic read that will no doubt charm your heart!

Read if You Like: realistic fiction, LGBT stories
Avoid if You: want a longer story

The rain has stopped. A soft mist hangs in the air, turning the distant streetlights a hazy orange. After the stuffiness of the clubhouse, the night is bitterly cold and I pull on my sweatshirt against the chill. I sit on the steps overlooking the car park, heedless of the damp that seeps through my jeans. Elbows on knees, I rest my chin in my hands and close my eyes, attempting to clear my mind. I don’t want to think anymore. I just want to sit with nothing but the dark and the quiet for company.

I haven’t been hunched there long when the door opens, ejecting a stream of warmth and thumping bass. I glance behind me, although I know who it will be. My body goes still. Adam lets the door swing shut and, just like that, we’re alone.

He doesn’t seem surprised to find me on the steps. Perhaps he saw me leave. Has he followed me? My insides clench. What if Adam thinks I did it deliberately, that I meant to lure him out here. Maybe I had. Maybe, deep down, a part of me hoped Adam might come, even while the rest of me prayed he wouldn’t.

This time, when our gazes connect, there’s no one to see, no football match to act as a buffer. I drink him in. Even in the faint glow filtering through the frosted pane in the door, his eyes are a vivid blue.

“Hey,” Adam says. Such a simple word that expresses so much. There’s recognition there, like we’re childhood friends meeting after years apart, but uncertainty, too. He has a nice voice, I register through my turbulent thoughts—warm and slightly husky.

“Hey.” My reply emerges somewhere between a croak and a squeak. Cringing, I stare down at my feet.

“It’s Davey, right?”

I fling him a startled look. Had this boy—this confident, gorgeous boy—actually gone to the trouble of finding out my name?

One side of Adam’s mouth lifts in a crooked smile. “Well, I had to know who the lunatic was who almost took my leg off.”

“God.” I bury my face in my hands. Of course Adam was going to ask about me after what happened on the pitch. “I’m so sorry.”

He laughs and nudges my thigh with the toe of his trainer. “I’m kidding. Seriously, you did us a favour.”

I dare a peep at him, unable to rid myself of the thought that he has pursued me out here to take the piss. That wouldn’t be anything new, after all.

“It’s true.” Adam crouches on the step beside me, his expression amused but without malice. “Rob warned me about you. He said the rest of your defence was pretty solid, but probably weren’t quick enough to catch me. You were the real threat.”

I grimace. “I’m guessing he wasn’t expecting me to take you out quite so spectacularly, though.”

“Funnily enough, that wasn’t included in the pep talk. Still, I should be thanking you. You made our job a whole lot easier.”

“Don’t remind me. You should’ve heard the guys after the match. I’ll never hear the end of it.”

Adam laughs again, and I can’t hold back a smile. Here I am, having an actual conversation with an amazing-looking boy—a boy who’d caught me checking him out, no less—and I’m not making an ass of myself.

The door behind us bursts open and several guys spill out. I tense, guard raised. Will they think it odd us sitting out here alone? I scan their faces, but none are from Farnstead. A moment later, they barrel down the steps without giving either of us a second look and head for one of the cars parked nearby.

As they pile in and the engine growls to life, I exhale, shoulders slumping. I can feel Adam studying me and keep my gaze lowered.

“You’re not out,” he says, “are you?”

“What?” My entire body goes rigid. He knows. I’d already guessed as much, but suspecting it is one thing; being confronted with the indisputable truth sends me spiralling back into panic mode. Why had he really followed me out here? I’d thought…been sure I’d read something in his eyes when they locked with mine, but what if I’m wrong? Do I truly believe someone like Adam, someone popular and self-assured, would have sought me out? Unless…

I see again the Brookminster players in their huddle, sniggering, moments after Adam caught me staring. I’d reassured myself they weren’t laughing about me, but perhaps my fears had been well founded. The cold certainty settles like a snowball in my gut. I’d given myself away, and now the other lads have sent Adam out here to chat me up, trick me into an admission I won’t be able to take back. For all I know, his mates are somewhere close by as we speak, listening in.

“Hey.” Adam extends his palms in what is probably supposed to be a calming gesture. “It’s all right. I know and it’s all right.”

“You don’t know anything,” I snap. The instinct for self-preservation, to keep my protective wall intact at any cost, propels me to my feet. “You hear me? You don’t know anything about me.”

Before he can respond, I’m down the steps and sprinting into the darkness, phone already out to call my parents. All I want is to go home, crawl into bed, and forget today ever happened.

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Jamie Deacon

Jamie lives in a tranquil spot close to the River Thames in Berkshire, England, and has always been just a little out of place—the only redhead in a family of brunettes; an introvert far more at ease with dogs than with people; a connoisseur of simple pleasures in a society intent on the quest for wealth and fame. Despite an outward cynicism, Jamie is a romantic at heart, and, when not immersed in a book, can mostly be found writing emotional stories where young men from all walks of life are forced to navigate the sometimes painful reality of growing up, coming out, and falling in love.

Author Links: Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

To celebrate the release of Defensive Play, Jamie Deacon is giving away a $10 Amazon Gift Card. For your chance to win, simply enter via the Rafflecopter below. The giveaway is open to entrants world wide, and closes at midnight EST on Friday December 7, 2018.

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Blog Tour: Illusions by Madeline J Reynolds

Synopsis for Illusions (from Entangled Teen):

Dear Thomas,

I know you’re angry. It’s true, I was sent to expose your mentor as a fraud illusionist, and instead I have put your secret in jeopardy. I fear I have even put your life in jeopardy. For that I can only beg your forgiveness. I’ve fallen for you. You know I have. And I never wanted to create a rift between us, but if it means protecting you from those who wish you dead—I’ll do it. I’ll do anything to keep you safe, whatever the sacrifice. Please forgive me for all I’ve done and what I’m about to do next. I promise, it’s one magic trick no one will ever see coming.

Love,
Saverio

breakdown

Author: Madeline J Reynolds
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Romance, Fantasy, LGBT, Magic
Heat Rating: cool **suggestive content**
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: November 6, 2018
Source & Format: YA Bound Book Tours–eARC via Netgalley

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thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I was drawn to this title for a number of reasons. The first is its historical setting–I love a good Victorian Era YA novel. The second is the gay romance between the leads–I haven’t read too many books set in this era with that romance. And the third is the premise itself–who doesn’t love some good magician sabotage?

The Plot:

This book took me awhile to get into probably because it is told through (primarily) journal entries and that delivers the story in a different way. You focus more on the characters, their feelings and daily events more so than the setting or interactions with other characters. In a sense, you are getting the story secondhand story because they are describing what has happened without you experiencing it first hand. But once I got into the groove of the POV format, the story was easy to read.

I, personally, would have enjoyed a more amped up rivalry between the two master magicians; with more sabotage. Instead, the focus remains on the two apprentices creating a very character driven story that is still very enjoyable to read because there is some great character growth (in addition to the very sweet romance).

The Characters:

It was amazing to watch these two transform before my eyes as the story progressed. The Thomas and Saverio we get at the start of the novel definitely aren’t the same boys we end the story with. I just loved the personal growth we see in these characters. I think the journal entries provided that touch of intimacy into these characters’ emotions and inner thoughts that really adds to the characters’ many layers.

The Romance:

These two were simply adorable together! I always enjoy romances that don’t start out with the nicest intentions, yet twist into something real and strong. When the plot isn’t focusing on them as individuals, I like how it concentrated on how they navigate their relationship given the various circumstances (their rivalry, the nature of their relationship in society, etc.). I also appreciated how it took the time to tackle them realistically; nothing ever felt rushed in that sense (and that isn’t always the case).

My Rating: 3/5

overall
Despite a slower start, this is a great read for fans of character driven historical YA reads!

Read if You Like: historical, stories told through journal entries
Avoid if You: want more than romance

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Madeline J Reynolds

Madeline J. Reynolds is a YA fantasy author living in Chicago. Originally from Minneapolis, she has a background in journalism and has always loved storytelling in its various forms. When not writing, she can be found exploring the city, eating Thai food, or lost in an epic Lord of the Rings marathon.

Author Links: Website | Twitter | Goodreads

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Blog Tour: The Right Fit by Daphne Dubois

Synopsis for The Right Fit (from Goodreads):

When Maxine Nicholls discovers her fiancé is cheating, she turns to fast food and nighttime soap operas, but her sister has a plan—unbridled rebound sex with a stranger.

As one of Toronto’s hottest players, Antony Laurent tallies scores on and off the ice, but when the chiseled defense man hits a slump, rumors of a trade to the minor league send him to ambush a managers meeting at a posh club.

That night a chance encounter ends up as an unforgettable evening of passion. But Maxine and Antony are about to discover a game of casual hook ups can lead to something neither one of them thought they deserved—the right fit.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Canadian Author
Author: Daphne Dubois
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Sports
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: April 12, 2017
Source & Format: Xpresso Book Tours–eARC

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thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m a sucker for a sports romance and when I saw that this one took place in Toronto, Canada, I was immediately on board! I didn’t know what else to expect given the synopsis but I was ready to explore this romance more.

The Plot:

I’ll admit that I struggled a bit with the first two chapters or so trying to figure out where this book was going to go. But once I started to learn more about the characters and see how dimensional they were, I truly became invested and had a hard time putting this down!

There was just the right amount of drama throughout this book. Nothing is over the top, it’s very grounded and it genuinely contributes in a positive way to the story and the characters’ development.

The Characters:

I was really surprised by how character driven this story was. Maxine and Antony have many layers to their characters so there is quite a bit to unpack with each of them. Maxine is coming of a bad breakup that has completely decimated her self-esteem and I loved watching her regain that confidence in herself though her relationship with Antony as well as her friends and family. Antony has a bit more of a mystery to him but I found that only drove me to read faster so I could figure out his character (and eventually become a fan).

The Romance:

These two have strong connection from the start! It’s cheesy to say but these two were the “right fit” for each other. They don’t know it at first though, just that they have this undeniable passion between them, so watching that grow into something more was such a treat as a reader.

concSLOW

My Rating: 4/5

overall
This is definitely one of those books where you need to give it a couple chapters to set up the stage for your enjoyment. Once you learn more about the characters, you’ll become completely invested in seeing where their stories will go and if happily ever after is in the cards.

Read if You Like: character driven stories, sports
Avoid if You: want more erotica

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Daphne Dubois

Daphne Dubois writes contemporary romance and believes the right book at the right time can make all the difference.

When she’s not putting her characters in compromising positions (ahem), she works as a registered nurse. She lives in Eastern Canada, the most romantic place in the world.

You can also find her writing for teens as B.R. Myers.

Author Links: Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter

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Blog Tour: Forever Fixed (Fixed #6) by Laurelin Paige

Synopsis for Fixed Forever (from Goodreads):

Hudson Pierce-

You act so high and mighty, you and your perfect pregnant wife Alayna. With your perfect child and your perfect home.

You weren’t always perfect. Your past is filled with misdeeds.

Does your wife know all your secrets?

Would she stand behind you if she did?

You think because she’s on bedrest you can protect her? How sweet.

Sleep tight, you two.

-An Old Friend.

Other books in the series:

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SERIESous’ Top Book Series: #1 Top Contemporary Read of 2013
Series: Fixed Trilogy

There is a spinoff series called The Found Duet.

Author: Laurelin Paige
# of Books: 6 (Full Reading Order Here)

There is a companion novel to the series called Hudson that must be read AFTER the trilogy. Chandler is a spin-off with another character. Forever Fixed is a continuation after Forever With You.

Book Order: Chronological, Companion (Hudson), Connected (Chandler)
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Drama
Heat Rating: hot (BDSM in Chandler: mild)
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: June 2013 – June 2018
Source & Format: Candi Kane PR–eARC
Full Series Review: Here

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thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

The Fixed Series is my gold standard for contemporary romance. It has everything I love in a series: strong characters, a plot full of secrets and twists, and a steamy romance.

So what a great surprise it was to find out that there was going to be one more book in this series! I couldn’t wait to read it and see what Laurelin Paige had for my favourite duo.

The Plot:

It’s hard to return to a world that has been seemingly wrapped up without things feelings forced. I wasn’t sure where this story would go when I heard about its conception but I shouldn’t have doubted Laurelin Paige. Once again, she has recreated that sparkle I love so much about this series.

What I loved most about this novel is that it takes us past the happily ever after. It shows us what time can do to our favourite couples once we leave them after the epilogue. Are things really truly resolved? Can they truly move on from the past?

The Characters:

Hudson and Alayna are probably my favourite contemporary romance couple of all time and I think this book only reaffirms that statement for me. They are a fabulous pair that truly compliment each other in every way that matters. These two are partners, even when conflict is in the way. I just love the way they communicate and accept each other. We are SIX books into this series and these characters still manage to impress me with their growth and development.

The Romance:

What’s not to love about these two? They have explosive chemistry every time they are on the page together. But my favourite thing about them is that they are truly partners in everything that they do. They have some of the best communication I’ve ever seen between two leads and you know why they love each other.

My Rating for Fixed Forever: 5/5

Fixed in You 5/5  |  Found in You  4/5  |  Forever with You 5/5  |  [Hudson] 4/5  |  [Chandler] 4/5 | Fixed Forever 5/5

overall
This was just a fantastic finale from start to finish! I loved every minute I spent with these characters (and how the spin-off stories were seamlessly woven in) and the suspense of the plot had me guessing until the very end. Fans of the Fixed Universe will definitely not be disappointed in this grande finale!

Read if You Like: great sexual chemistry, solid characters
Avoid if You: dislike contemporary romance

 

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Laurelin Paige

With over 1 million books sold, Laurelin Paige is the NY Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today Bestselling Author of the Fixed Trilogy. She’s a sucker for a good romance and gets giddy anytime there’s kissing, much to the embarrassment of her three daughters. Her husband doesn’t seem to complain, however. When she isn’t reading or writing sexy stories, she’s probably singing, watching Game of Thrones and the Walking Dead, or dreaming of Michael Fassbender. She’s also a proud member of Mensa International though she doesn’t do anything with the organization except use it as material for her bio.

Author Links:Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

 

You can enter to win a *signed* paperback copy by Laurelin Paige herself! Unfortunately this is only open to US residents at this time. Winner will be contacted via email so keep an eye out!

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Not a US resident? Never fear! You can snag a free copy of the book yourself at any of these fine eBook retailers:

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Giveaway: Signed Paperback of Fixed on You by Laurelin Paige

I don’t host a lot of my own giveaways on my site but I couldn’t resist this opportunity!

Laurelin Paige is one of my favourite authors and her Fixed Series is the gold standard for adult contemporary romance in my eyes. It’s one of my all time favourite series and one I make all my friends read! Fun fact: it is also one of my most viewed reviews of all time on my blog.

Fixed Forever (Fixed #6)

Pre-Order: Kobo | Amazon | iBooks | Nook

The 6th book in the series, FIXED FOREVER, is coming June 25th! I CANNOT wait! This was a book I didn’t know I needed until I knew it was coming!

Have you met Hudson Pierce yet? Find out where it all started in one of two ways:

Fixed on You (Fixed, #1)

You can enter to win a *signed* paperback copy by Laurelin Paige herself! Unfortunately this is only open to US residents at this time. Winner will be contacted via email so keep an eye out!

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Blog Tour: Let Me Love You by Jessica Jayne

Synopsis for Let Me Love You (from Goodreads):

Twenty-three year old Ren Haynes returns home after graduating college with two goals–start his engineering career and claim the heart of his parents’ thirty-one year old divorced neighbor, Stacey Williams.

Stacey is nursing her broken heart and shattered ego. Not only did her ex-husband have an affair, he got the woman pregnant. Picking up the pieces of her life isn’t easy, so when Ren taps into her need to feel desired again, she finds herself in a position she never imagined.

Can Ren help to rebuild her confidence and convince her that age is just a number?

breakdown

Author: Jessica Jayne
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: December 18, 2017
Source & Format: Xpresso Book Tours–eARC

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thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

In romances, age difference can play a huge factor in the relationship and so I always enjoy books that explore this situation because it can cause some tension. I was particularly drawn to this novel because it is an older woman/younger man relationship–one that we don’t often see in novels (as it always seems to be the reverse). So I couldn’t wait to explore this scenario and get some great sexual tension along the way.

The Plot:

I really enjoyed the fact that this story was all about the romance. We don’t get any unnecessary drama along the way. It’s focus is all on Ren seducing Stacey and showing her that he is serious about her and in turn, Stacey reacting to his feelings and deciding if she wants to pursue a relationship with him. I found that this singular plot helped to develop the characters a little more and focus on their hopes and fears about the relationship. It made the story more character focused–which is what you want in a romance.

The Characters:

I really liked this small cast of characters. Stacey is a great heroine. I found her wants and fears to be believable given her past. I loved watching her self confidence grow as the story progressed.

As for Ren, he’s a good lead. He’s mature and driven but a nice guy. He was really sweet with Stacey so I understand her hardship in trying to resist him.

But what I really liked about all these characters (including the side ones like Ren’s parents) was their honest and upfront conversations. They didn’t beat around the bush so to speak. I enjoyed their candid conversations and how they laid everything out. It created some great dialogue and helped progress the story in a positive way.

The Romance:

While I really liked Ren and Stacey as a couple, I wanted a little more build-up to the revealing of Ren’s intentions. We get told a lot that they had this great connection before the novel started; that they’ve talked and shared a lot over the last few years and consider each other friends. And while I never doubted Ren’s intentions (ie that he wanted Stacey as a forever girl), I think it would have sold me sooner on the romance if I had seen some of that tension build between them. If I got to see them fall in love instead of being told they were in love. Regardless, they did have great chemistry so I enjoyed their scenes together.

My Rating: 3/5

overall
This is a very quick albeit sweet romance about pursuing love and learning to love again after a betrayal.

Read if You Like: “off-limits” romance, romance focused plot
Avoid if You: want a longer read

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Jessica Jayne

Jessica is a born and raised small town Ohio girl, who moved to the Sunshine State after graduating from college. She graduated from college with a bachelor’s degree in English. What college major could possibly be better than one that makes you read novels and write about them! Now she is thrilled to be able to share all the hot stories floating around in her head!

Jessica loves to travel and travel often! She shares her love of travel with her husband and children. She’s a huge sports fan, especially football. She ❤ the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Ohio State Buckeyes! She’s a wine-making (and wine-tasting) aficionado. She loves all music. And nothing is better than sunset at the beach!

In the journey of life, she also married a wonderful man and had three beautiful (and sometimes crazy) children. Life is always an adventure!

Author Links: Website  |  Goodreads  |  Facebook  |  Twitter

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Blog Tour: Suitors and Sabotage by Cindy Anstey

Synopsis for Suitors and Sabotage (from Goodreads):

Two young people must hide their true feelings for each other while figuring out who means them harm in this cheeky Regency romance from the author of Love, Lies and Spies and Duels & Deception.

Shy aspiring artist Imogene Chively has just had a successful Season in London, complete with a suitor of her father’s approval. Imogene is ambivalent about the young gentleman until he comes to visit her at the Chively estate with his younger brother in tow. When her interest is piqued, however, it is for the wrong brother.

Charming Ben Steeple has a secret: despite being an architectural apprentice, he has no drawing aptitude. When Imogene offers to teach him, Ben is soon smitten by the young lady he considers his brother’s intended.

But hiding their true feelings becomes the least of their problems when, after a series of “accidents,” it becomes apparent that someone means Ben harm. And as their affection for each other grows—despite their efforts to remain just friends—so does the danger. . .

In Suitors and Sabotage, author Cindy Anstey delivers another witty young adult historical fiction novel that is the perfect mix of sweetly romantic and action-packed.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Canadian Author, Must Read Author
Author: Cindy Anstey
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: April 17, 2018
Source & Format: Xpresso Book Tours–eARC via Netgalley

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Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

It’s become a bit of a tradition on my blog that every April I take part in the blog tour for Cindy Anstey’s latest novel. She quickly became a must read author of mine when I read her debut novel, Love, Lies and Spies, thanks to is sweet romance and witty dialogue. It doesn’t hurt that she is a fellow Canadian either 😉

I was really excited when I read the synopsis for Suitors and Sabotage! I love historical fiction and Anstey writes fabulous YA stories as her previous novels can attest to. This book sounded like it would be filled with some great character chemistry and no doubt be utterly charming. I couldn’t wait to sit down and devour this!

The Plot:

This book was a lot of fun–and that’s not something that you would immediately think when you read the plot synopsis. I mean, someone is possibly trying to kill Ben and Ben is in love with the girl his brother is pursuing. Things could definitely take a turn for the dark but they never do and I think that’s where Anstey’s talent for writing shines the best. She has this ability to keep things light and captivating all the same.

I’ll get to the characters later but they honestly make this book. It wouldn’t be half as charming if it wasn’t for the cast of people Anstey has assembled to tell this story!

I did find that this book did suffer from a little too much filler at times. Not that I minded too much since I adored the characters and any scene they were in but I did find it dulled the suspense of the sabotage. The sabotage is more subtle than I anticipated it would be though it did bring excitement to the plot.

The Characters:

Honestly, the cast in this story is fabulous! Imogene is sweet and evolves before your eyes (I loved her character growth!). Ben will definitely steal your heart with his longing glances and kind intentions. But their friends and family are just as entertaining and genuine. Everyone contributes to this story in a way that takes it to the next level. They truly make this story!

The Romance:

Despite there being a bit of a love triangle/square situation happening, I couldn’t get enough of the romance! Again, this has to do with the great cast because I seriously loved everyone and hated to see anyone hurt. But you can’t deny the chemistry that lies between certain characters more than others. I love longing glances between characters and when the inner monologue drifts off as the character becomes absolutely smitten with the other. The romance here was simply perfect.

My Rating: 4.5/5

overall
Honestly, Cindy Anstey is the bar when it comes to writing fantastic, entertaining YA historical fiction. She always has a fabulous blend of romance, danger and wit that I’ve yet to come across in another book. This one is definitely another win!

Read if You Like: historical YA fiction, witty banter, subtle suspence
Avoid if You: want more “in your face” romance

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Cindy Anstey

Whenever she is not sitting at the computer, throwing a ball in the backyard, gardening or reading, Cindy can be found–actually, not found–adventuring around the world with her hubby.

She has lived on three continents, had a monkey in her yard and a scorpion under her sink, dwelt among castles and canals, enjoyed the jazz of Beale St and attempted to speak French.

Cindy loves history, mystery and… a chocolate Labrador called Chester. Love, Lies and Spies is her debut novel.

Author Links: Website // Goodreads // Facebook // Twitter

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Blog Tour: Rules of Rebellion by Amity Cross

Synopsis for Rules of Rebellion (from Goodreads):

1. Skinny dip (her idea)
2. Prank someone (his idea)
3. Stargaze (her idea)
4. Kiss someone (his idea)

Leo Zimmerman has had a crush on his curvy best friend Kylie Jenkins since forever, so When he discovers the girl with a flair for baking has a newfound plan to rebel against her overbearing parents, he’s determined to be the one to help her carry it out. Who better than a self-proclaimed rebel like himself to show her the ropes of letting loose?

Sure, taking her to her first high school party, helping her sneak out of the house, or watching a sunset together isn’t exactly a hardship, but much harder is masking his feelings the more time they spend together. And when he suggests adding “kiss a boy” to Kylie’s plan and she accepts…suddenly all his dreams seem to be coming true.

But Leo’s got a secret that could change everything between them, and it’s only a matter of time before it comes to the surface.

breakdown

Series?: This is a Spin-Off of The Rules of Persuasion
Author: Amity Cross
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date:  April 2, 2018
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC  |  Thank you Entangled Publishing!

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thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

For a girl who used to be afraid of the YA contemporary genre, I’ve been hitting all the right notes lately! I couldn’t resist signing myself up for this book when I read the synopsis. I’m a sucker for “secretly in love with” scenario–especially in high school settings–and I loved the idea of Kylie and Leo completing a high school bucket list of sorts. So I couldn’t wait to read this!

The Plot:

I think the synopsis is a touch misleading because it implies that Kylie and Leo are already good friends–or at least that’s how I read it. It’s more like they are within the same friend group but don’t know that much about each other. Which honestly, just makes this story even sweeter because you get to see them form that deeper bond of friendship…and watch it bloom into something else.

The pacing for this novel was fabulous. It simply strikes the right balance between romance, character growth, the “to-do” list plot as well as the “big secret”. I’ll admit, I had totally guessed that secret wrong so I liked the twist that provided as well.

The Characters:

What I love about Kylie and Leo is that they are genuine people. They have big hearts, care about their families and are just nice people. You really want them to succeed in whatever they set out to accomplish in this story.

But they are also human and have their flaws. It was great watching them grow a little more confident in themselves as the story progressed thanks to their relationship. They both have some solid character development throughout the story and I always like to see that in my YA contemporaries.

The Romance:

Well, I found myself a new book boyfriend with Leo! Swoon! He was just adorable and immediately stole my heart by the end of his first POV chapter. He is so in love with Kylie and watching him try to win her over was as sweet as it was fun.

The romance here was positively charming and everything I wanted it to be when I picked this novel up.

My Rating: 4/5

overall
This book will definitely melt your heart and put a smile on your face!

Read if You Like: YA contemporary, swoon-worthy heroes
Avoid if You: want a darker story

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Amity Cross

Amity lives in beautiful northern Minnesota with her two sons, two cats and their Rottweiler.

She has a degree in elementary education and worked in that field for ten years before deciding to self-publish.

Her first self-published novel, Twisted, was listed by Amazon as a Top 100 Kids & Teens Kindle Book of 2012. It hit Amazon’s Teen & Young Adult Contemporary Romance Best Sellers List in several countries. Truths and Dares held the #1 position on Amazon’s Best Sellers in Teen & Young Adult Contemporary Romance eBooks in the UK.

If she’s not writing or spending time with her boys, she’s most likely reading.

Author Links: Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest | Goodreads

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Blog Tour: The Unbelievable, Inconceivable, Unforeseeable Truth About Ethan Wilder by Cookie O’Gorman

Synopsis for The Unbelievable, Inconceivable, Unforeseeable Truth About Ethan Wilder (from Goodreads):

In the south, everyone has a secret–and murder is served with sweet tea.

The word’s out: Ethan Wilder’s coming back to town, and the people of Bowie, Georgia are in a southern tizzy. Everyone knows the story. He shot and killed his sister four years ago, and people say his father, Jim Wilder, the biggest holy roller this side of the Mississippi, sent him packing for just that reason. Even if her death was unofficially ruled a suicide, Ethan’s return has everybody talking.

Seventeen-year-old Delilah Doherty can’t go anywhere without hearing his name. Born and raised in Bowie, Delilah knows firsthand about the gossipmongers and how they love a good scandal. The daughter of a wild child and niece of the local psychic, she’s also the only one who doubts Ethan’s guilt.

After Ethan saves her life, the two start a slow and steady burn neither can deny. But when Bowie’s spiritual leader is nearly murdered, it rocks the small southern town to its core. Delilah and Ethan are caught in the crossfire, their relationship threatened before it’s even begun. Someone has it out for Ethan’s family. With everyone convinced of Ethan’s guilt, it’s up to Delilah to unravel the mystery before someone else gets hurt or worse…dead.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Author: Cookie O Gorman
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Mystery
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: April 5, 2018
Source & Format: YA Bound Book Tours–eARC

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thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’ve been a fan of Cookie’s since her first novel, Adorkable and her second novel Ninja Girl made me add her to my “must read” author list soon after. So I was excited to see what she would write next.

I’ll say that a mystery wasn’t what I was totally expecting her to write next (though technically, she wrote this first) but the title and synopsis definitely had me curious. So I couldn’t wait to see what this ridiculous truth about Ethan Wilder really was.

The Plot:

This book has a slower start to it as it sets up the exposition and introduces all the characters. This is a trend I often see when I read books set in the South. We get swept up into the mundane everyday lives of the small towns and the small cast of characters. Cookie has a talent for writing intriguing characters so I didn’t mind as much as I usually would.

We get a bit of a double mystery here. You have the infamous Ethan who has just returned to town and seems to keep to himself–except for a those interactions with Delilah. And then you have the incidences involving his family –which don’t really start until the 30% mark. I thought this would start a little early and become the main focus of the story but it doesn’t really. It’s more of something that runs in the background while Delilah carries on with her everyday life in this small town.

However, the introduction of the mystery does add this tone of suspense to the novel and that suspense carries you through the rest of the novel. As for the mystery itself, I definitely didn’t figure it out so that always gets bonus points in my eye!

The Characters:

As I said before, Cookie has a great talent for creating characters. She has quite the eclectic cast here and they really do work for this story.

I liked Delilah as a lead. She’s got a great heart despite all the stuff people throw her way. Sure, she’s a little oblivious to boys liking her but that’s part of her charm in a way.

What I really liked is that Ethan is kept a total mystery to us. We don’t get his POV, just whatever interactions happen with Delilah or ones she hears secondhand. He’s got that bad boy appeal but also has his swoon-worthy moments as well so I liked whenever he was in a scene.

The Romance:

Well, Ethan became a book boyfriend for me so I think it goes without saying I thought this was totally cute. Again, I just love the romances Cookie creates! This one was really sweet and very subtle. So when you got those cute moments between them, it just made you smile.

concSLOW

My Rating: 3.5/5

overall
This was a slow start for me so it took me a while to get truly invested. But once the pieces of the mystery start to reveal themselves, I found myself spinning various theories and eagerly awaiting the big reveal. Another great novel by Cookie O’Gorman.

Read if You Like: YA contemporary, books set in the South, mystery
Avoid if You: dislike slow starts, need lots of action

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Cookie O’Gorman

Cookie O’Gorman writes YA romance to give readers a taste of happily-ever-after. Small towns, quirky characters, and the awkward yet beautiful moments in life make up her books. Cookie also has a soft spot for nerds and ninjas. Her novels ADORKABLE and NINJA GIRL are out now! Her third book, THE UNBELIEVABLE, INCONCEIVABLE, UNFORESEEABLE TRUTH ABOUT ETHAN WILDER, will be released April 5, 2018!

Author Links:

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Blog Tour: The Amber Elixir (Two Realms Novella #1) by Ariella Moon

Synopsis for The Amber Elixir (from Goodreads):
Viviane, the new Lady of the Lake and High Priestess of Avalon, accepts a challenge from Merlin unaware her bold actions will have tragic consequences. Two of her priestesses are turned to stone. A forbidden love deserts her. Now alone, she has six young handmaidens to train and protect.

When Morgan le Fay demands assistance with a spell that could change the balance of power in the Two Realms, Viviane refuses her. But what if Morgan’s secret knowledge could restore the stone priestesses? Will an alliance prompt Viviane’s love to return? Or will the gamble cost her all she holds dear?

Other books in the series:
book3

breakdown

Series: Two Realms Trilogy / Two Realms Novellas
Author: Ariella Moon
# of Books: 2 (The Beltane Escape, The Viking Mist, Book 3)

There is a novella, The Amber Elixir. (Recommended to read after Book 1)

Book Order: Unsure
Complete?: No, The Viking Mist, is to be published
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Magic, Arthurian Legend
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: February 2016 – ongoing
Source & Format: Xpresso Book Tours–eARC

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thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I love Arthurian Legend! I even took a course about it for my English minor because I just love the whole idea of this epic story and world. When I saw that The Amber Elixir has a different take on the Arthurian world, I just had to see what was in store.

What I Liked:

–The World Building–

Ariella Moon has done a great job of weaving classic Arthurian elements and her own imaginings into this novella. It’s a really interesting blend of fantasy elements at play and I loved learning more as I read.

I think fans of classic fantasy novels will love the world we get here. It’s very complex and rich and completely captivates you.

–Weaving of Different Stories–

While the focus is mostly on Viviane and her role in the world, we get introduced to quite a few players and that just makes everything a little fuller and more complex. I like stories that have a lot going on; that have multiple storylines and characters involved and this one has it. I found this to be a very strong story and for its novella length, it reads more like a full novel.

–Viviane’s Forbidden Love–

While this isn’t a romance by any means, Vivane’s forbidden love does play a crucial role in Viviane’s development and actions. I’ll just say that I really liked why this was “forbidden” and how it upped the ante for this story.

What I Didn’t Like:

–That I Probably Should Have Read Book 1 First–

You can definitely read this novel without reading The Beltane Escape. It does a great job of tying the two together to get readers up to speed. It is noted on Ariella’s site she does recommend reading this novella after The Beltane Escape. My problem was that I didn’t know there was a Book 1 so I was a little confused during the prologue what was happening as I unaware we’ve been introduced to this world before.

But like I said, I quickly got up to speed and found myself immersed into this world as it does focus on other characters. And if anything, it made me curious to pick up The Beltane Escape 😉

 

My Rating: 3/5

The Beltane Escape N/A | [The Amber Elixir 3/5] | The Viking Mist TBP | Book 3 TBP

overall
Perfect for fans of stories involving Arthurian Legend and classic fantasy novels, this is a series you’ll want to read!

Read if You Like: Arthurian Legend, fantasy, magic
Avoid if You: dislike fantasy, want more romance

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Ariella Moon

Ariella Moon draws upon her experiences as a shaman to create magical Young Adult fiction. Her Two Realms Trilogy is a medieval fantasy adventure series. The Teen Wytche Saga is a series of sweet contemporary paranormal romances.

Ariella spent her childhood searching for a magical wardrobe that would transport her to Narnia. Extreme math anxiety and taller students that mistook her for a leaning post marred her youth. Despite these horrors, she graduated summa cum laude from the University of California at Davis. She lives a nearly normal life doting on her extraordinary daughter, two shamelessly spoiled dogs, and a media-shy dragon.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Goodreads

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