The Fire Between High & Lo (Elements #2) by Brittainy C. Cherry

Book Description:

Published: March  25, 2016

Format: Audio/Audible

There once was a boy, and I loved him.

Logan Francis Silverstone was the complete opposite of me. I danced while he stood still. He was quiet, and I was always running my mouth. He struggled to find a smile while I refused to frown.

The night I saw the darkness that truly lived inside of him, I couldn’t look away.

We were broken together, yet somehow whole. We were wrong together, but always right. We were the stars that burned across the night sky, searching for a wish, praying for better tomorrows.

Until the day I lost him. He threw us away with one hasty decision—a decision that changed us forever.

There once was a boy, and I loved him.

And for a few breaths, a few whispers, a few moments, I think he loved me, too.

Review –

This is the second book in the Elements series by Brittainy C. Cherry and boy oh boy can she write the Hell out of angst!

The Fire Between High & Low is not an easy book for me to read. There was so much angst. I had to take breaks. I even knew at 4% that this book was going to wreck me, and it did. The author is like a puppeteer who pulls at your heartstrings until you have no choice but to feel. I sniffled, I cried, I bawled big, fat, ugly tears. It wasn’t within my power to NOT feel empathy for these characters and their situation. This made their HEA so much more powerful, too.

Alyssa (High) and Logan (Lo) came from opposite sides of the track. Each had different interests. Each lived very different lives. They were opposite in most every way that should have mattered. But their spirits were the same. Each was damaged from their parents — whom I hated with every fiber of my parental being! Each was lonely and desired to be loved.

What started out as childhood friendship eventually turned into teenage love. They depended on each other for their mental well-being. Spending time with one another, laughing with and supporting each other, they were inseparable. High needed Lo as much as she needed him. And then due to lies and manipulation, Lo left. Leaving High to figure out how to live without him.

Fortunately, this is written in dual POV. I don’t think this would have worked any other way. Because when Lo acted like an ass, we eventually found out why.

This story shows the power of how people can endure so much hurt, but overcome it. They couldn’t catch a break. Bad things kept getting between them until they didn’t.

Their story is a train wreck happening in slow motion and I couldn’t look away!!!!!

Five stars!

 

Advertisements

The Air He Breathes (Elements #1) by Brittainy C. Cherry

Book Description:

Published: September 25, 2015

Format: Audio/Audible

I was warned about Tristan Cole.

“Stay away from him,” people said.
“He’s cruel.”
“He’s cold.”
“He’s damaged.”

It’s easy to judge a man because of his past. To look at Tristan and see a monster.

But I couldn’t do that. I had to accept the wreckage that lived inside of him because it also lived inside of me.

We were both empty.
We were both looking for something else. Something more. We both wanted to put together the shattered pieces of our yesterdays.

Then perhaps we could finally remember how to breathe.

Review –

The Air He Breathes had all the makings of a rich, romantic and beautifully told  “second chance at love “story between two wretchedly broken characters seeking solace with, and in each other following the loss of their loved ones.

The slow to smolder relationship was superbly and sensitively handled by the author,Brittainy C Cherry, the romance was emotional and yet encompassed a swoon factor that took my breath away.

The slow burn relationship was superbly and sensitively handled by Brittainy C Cherry, the romance was emotional and yet encompassed a swoon factor that took our breath away. She also showed us that the previous relationships were just as important as the new one.

The sex scenes are HOT  but low-key so I place this book in the “soft smut” category, meaning they are there for a purpose and not just to take up space.

It’s a sad but beautiful love story with a shocking event near the end and I gave it five stars!

 

 

Lady in the Lake by Laura Lippman

Book Description:

Published: July 23, 2019

Format: Audio/OverDrive

The revered New York Times bestselling author returns with a novel set in 1960s Baltimore that combines modern psychological insights with elements of classic noir, about a middle-aged housewife turned aspiring reporter who pursues the murder of a forgotten young woman.

In 1966, Baltimore is a city of secrets that everyone seems to know–everyone, that is, except Madeline “Maddie” Schwartz. Last year, she was a happy, even pampered housewife. This year, she’s bolted from her marriage of almost twenty years, determined to make good on her youthful ambitions to live a passionate, meaningful life.

Maddie wants to matter, to leave her mark on a swiftly changing world. Drawing on her own secrets, she helps Baltimore police find a murdered girl–assistance that leads to a job at the city’s afternoon newspaper, the Star. Working at the newspaper offers Maddie the opportunity to make her name, and she has found just the story to do it: a missing woman whose body was discovered in the fountain of a city park lake.

Cleo Sherwood was a young African-American woman who liked to have a good time. No one seems to know or care why she was killed except Maddie–and the dead woman herself. Maddie’s going to find the truth about Cleo’s life and death. Cleo’s ghost, privy to Maddie’s poking and prying, wants to be left alone.

Maddie’s investigation brings her into contact with people that used to be on the periphery of her life–a jewelery store clerk, a waitress, a rising star on the Baltimore Orioles, a patrol cop, a hardened female reporter, a lonely man in a movie theater. But for all her ambition and drive, Maddie often fails to see the people right in front of her. Her inability to look beyond her own needs will lead to tragedy and turmoil for all sorts of people–including the man who shares her bed, a black police officer who cares for Maddie more than she knows.

Review –

In this most recent book by Laura Lippman, she tells the story of Maddie Schwartz, an attractive thirty-seven year-old Jewish housewife who abruptly leaves her husband and son to pursue a long-held ambition to be a journalist, and Cleo Sherwood, an African-American cocktail waitress about whom little is known.

Sherwood’s body was found in a lake in a city park months after she disappeared, and while no one else seems to care enough to investigate, Maddie becomes obsessed—partly due to certain similarities she perceives between her life and Cleo’s, partly due to her faith in her own detective skills.

The story unfolds from Maddie’s point of view as well as that of Cleo’s ghost, who seems to be watching from behind the scenes, commenting  on Maddie’s nosing around like a bull in a china shop after getting a job at one of the city papers.

We also see her effect on some of the people she comes into contact with: a jewelry store clerk, an about-to-be-murdered schoolgirl, “Mr. Helpline,” a bartender, a political operative, a waitress, a Baltimore Oriole, the first African-American female policewoman (these last two are based on real people), and many more. Though allusive for one, make a single appearance  they greatly add to the enjoyment of the novel.

Maddie’s ambition propels her forward despite the cost to others, including the family of the deceased and her own secret lover, a black policeman.

To achieve realism for the newspaper part of the story the author interviewed associates of her father, Baltimore Sun journalist Theo Lippman Jr., and included  fascinating historical facts.

Mixing noir with hints of hard-boiled fiction, Lady in the Lake gives readers unlikeable but entertaining characters surrounding a mystery loosely based on actual events of the time period.

Five stars!

Lock Every Door by Riley Sager

Book Description:

Published: July 2, 2019

Format: Audio/OverDrive

No visitors. No nights spent away from the apartment. No disturbing the other residents, all of whom are rich or famous or both. These are the only rules for Jules Larsen’s new job as an apartment sitter at the Bartholomew, one of Manhattan’s most high-profile and mysterious buildings. Recently heartbroken and just plain broke, Jules is taken in by the splendor of her surroundings and accepts the terms, ready to leave her past life behind.

As she gets to know the residents and staff of the Bartholomew, Jules finds herself drawn to fellow apartment sitter Ingrid, who comfortingly, disturbingly reminds her of the sister she lost eight years ago. When Ingrid confides that the Bartholomew is not what it seems and the dark history hidden beneath its gleaming facade is starting to frighten her, Jules brushes it off as a harmless ghost story—until the next day, when Ingrid disappears.

Searching for the truth about Ingrid’s disappearance, Jules digs deeper into the Bartholomew’s dark past and into the secrets kept within its walls. Her discovery that Ingrid is not the first apartment sitter to go missing at the Bartholomew pits Jules against the clock as she races to unmask a killer, expose the building’s hidden past, and escape the Bartholomew before her temporary status becomes permanent.

Review –

Sager’s debut novel, Final Girls, wasn’t so much a horror novel as a commentary about horror movies in novel form. It was clever but also very well-crafted. The author tried to do something similar with The Last Time I Lie, which came out a year later and with significantly less satisfying results. This new novel is another attempt to make the model work. Whether or not it does depends on how invested one is in formula for the sake of formula.

Jules Larsen is getting over a breakup and the loss of her job when she finds a gig that seems too good to be true: The Bartholomew, a storied Manhattan building, wants to pay her thousands of dollars to simply occupy a vacant—and luxurious—apartment. Jules soon gets the feeling that all is not as it seems at the Bartholomew, which is, of course, a perfect setup for some psychological suspense, but the problem is that there is little in the way of narrative tension because Jules’ situation is so obviously not right from the very beginning. While interviewing for the job, she’s asked about her health history. She’s informed that she is not allowed to have guests in the apartment. She’s warned that she must not interact with or talk to anyone else about the building’s wealthy and famous inhabitants. And she learns that she will be paid under the table. While this might not be enough to deter someone who is broke and desperate, it does mean that Jules should be a bit more concerned than she is when the really scary stuff starts happening. 

Once the reader/listener discovers the secret of The Bartholomew, things start happening at a faster pace and the ending appears in hyper speed, almost too fast for me, but still very satisfying.

As I was listening I couldn’t help being reminded of Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin, The Sentinel by Jeffery Konvitz and The Graveyard Apartment by Mariko Koike.

The paranoia and tension will make this a great book to take on vacation this summer, but perhaps reading it alone at night would be second guessed.

 

 

The Wish Collector by Mia Sheridan

Book Description:

Published: November 26, 2018

Format: Audio/Audible

When ballet dancer Clara Campbell arrives in New Orleans, lonely and homesick, she is immediately captivated by the story of Windisle Plantation and the tragic tale that is said to have transpired beyond its gate. Legend has it that it is abandoned by all living souls, but to Clara’s great surprise, it is not a ghost she hears through the stone wall surrounding the property, but a flesh and blood man. A scarred stranger with a pain deeper and darker than the churning waters of the Mississippi river that flows beside his self-imposed prison.

The ruined man behind the wall hides himself from the world. The last thing he expects is to find a friend in the selfless girl who speaks to him through the cracks in the rock. The girl who keeps returning week after week. The girl who makes him wish for things he has long since given up on. The girl who strikes both fear and hope within his wounded heart. But there can be no future for them, no life beyond Windisle, for no one knows better than him that monsters only live in the dark.

The Wish Collector is the story of shame and triumph, of loneliness and love, and the miracle of two hearts connecting despite the strongest of barriers between them.

Review –

“Amongst the city streets of New Orleans you’ll find Clara Campbell, a ballerina. She just arrived to this mysterious and magical city, still trying to find herself and she pursue her dreams. She hears a legend of an abandon house and a love that ended in tragedy making her curious and wanting to know more. The talks of Windisle Plantation lead her to a wall and ultimately to the stranger behind the wall. The Wish Collector as she called him. A enigmatic and dark man hiding behind the fence of the property she is so curious about.

They’re both lonely for very different reasons and she begins a weekly visit to the man behind the weeping wall. They strike up an unusual friendship. Build a delicate companionship. Their story is equal parts heartbreaking and heartwarming.

The man who deemed himself undeserving and broken beyond repair and the girl with a heart of gold and a spirit that shines off the pages take a journey that will tear them down and lift them up as they uncover all the secrets of the plantation and their hearts too.

A fairy tale dust mixed with New Orleans’s dark magic and mystery of present and past will keep you pulled in till the last page. I was mesmerized, enchanted, completely put under the spell of this unique plot with exquisite story-telling that made this book fascinating and engrossing.”schemexygirlbookblog.com

Loved this book!   Five stars.

Little Black Book (Little Black Book #1) by Tabatha Varga and Melissa Andrea

Book Description:

Published:

Format: Audio/Audible

Here’s my offer…
I’ll put your name in my LITTLE BLACK BOOK, and when I want you, I’ll call you. When I call, you’re going to come, in more ways than one. It will be mutually pleasurable for both of us.

There are only two rules:
DON’T EVER DENY ME.
DON’T FALL IN LOVE.

If you do either, I’ll remove you from my book and payment stops.

Do we have an understanding?

Review –

Sebastian Black is a man fully in control of his life. He doesn’t do emotions. He just does pleasure and kicks ass along the way professionally. Rosslyn is desperate. He life is crashing down on her. When Sebastian offers her a way out, things get interesting.

Rosslyn was a rock star in my book. I completely identified with her personality and how she handled things with Sebastian at the beginning. She and Sebastian both grew so much in the story and the  emotional baggage both of them harbored and finally let go of was what made the story for me.

That being said I only gave the book three stars because of the female narrator. Rosslyn is twenty-two in the story line but the narrator sounds like a ten year old. It made the “listen” very disconcerting.

 

 

Drunk Dial by Penelope Ward

Book Description:

Published: August 21, 2017

Format: Audio/Audible

t seemed like a good idea at the time. Look up Landon Roderick, that boy from childhood whom I’d never been able to forget—even though he so easily forgot about me—and call him.

Then again, anything sounds like a good idea when you’ve had a little too much wine before bed, right? It was supposed to be just a quick, meaningless, prank call. Instead, I went off on him—unloading thirteen years of pent-up emotions.

I didn’t think he’d call me back.

I certainly could never have anticipated the weeks of sexually tense phone conversations that followed as I got to know the man he’d become.

Turned out, Landon had never really forgotten me, either. That special connection we had was still there. I opened up to him, but there were also things about me he didn’t know. And he had his own secrets.

ver the countless hours we talked on the phone, I wondered what would happen if we actually saw each other. One night, I did something impulsive again. Only this time, I went to the airport and booked a ticket to California. We were about to find out if one phone call could bring two lost souls together or if my drunk dial really was all just a big mistake.

Review –

I absolutely loved Drunk Dial! I listened to the audio version of this book and the narration was amazing. I didn’t want to stop listening once I started.

After the first drunk call, Landon and Rana soon make calls to each other regularly and what starts out as witty banter between the two, soon turns into an undeniable connection. Their attraction towards each other develops, so much so that neither can ignore it and love blossoms. There are a few massive problems that stand in the way; not only does Landon live in California and Rana live in Michigan, but they are both harbouring BIG secrets. They need to own up to these secrets in order to continue their relationship and the undeniable love they have for each other. Will they both be able to accept each other’s past, to make a life together in the future?

Once again Penelope Ward has created another swoony hero for her readers to fall in love with. There was really nothing not to love about Landon. He was sweet and sexy with plenty of ink and piercings to make you have hot flushes whilst reading. What I especially loved about him was, yes, he has made some mistakes in the past but, he doesn’t shy away from them. Landon owns his past and has learnt from his mistakes in order to make something of his life.

Drunk Dial is a sweet friends to lovers story with just the right mix of emotion and humor to keep you fully invested from start to finish. If you are on a search for your next BBF, then I strenuously suggest you meet Landon, he will melt your heart and make you fall in love.

Five stars!

Say I’m Yours by Corrine Michaels

Book Description:

Published: March 25, 2017

Format: Audio/Audible

I spent twenty years waiting for Trent Hennington to open his eyes and see me. But it was all for nothing. He chose to keep himself guarded and let me walk away, proving that my time and efforts were wasted.

I’m done being invisible.
It’s time to move on.

A single dance sets my new reality into motion, and I welcome it. After all, Cooper Townsend is perfect. He’s kind, sexy, and attentive—everything a girl could want.

I thought I got it right this time.
That my heart could mend, and I would be happy.
Apparently, some things really are just too hard to walk away from.

Review –

Say I’m Yours  is a heartbreaking story about not giving up on your own dreams. Grace and Trent have been together for a long time, but Grace wants more than Trent is willing to give her. Choosing her own happiness breaks Grace’s heart, but in the end she’s living her dream.

For the past twenty years Grace and Trent have been “together”, but Grace is ready for more; marriage and her own family. Trent has proven over and over again he won’t give her that so Grace does the hardest thing in her life; walking away from the man she so deeply loves. Dating Cooper is sweet, but also weird. She knows him and his family so well, and Trent sudden change of heart doesn’t make it easy for her. Choosing between the two men seems impossible, but in her heart Grace already has the answer.

My heart breaks for Grace and I feel so sorry for her. She didn’t ask Trent for outrageous things, all she wanted was to build a normal, happy life with him. I felt her hurt when she told Trent it was over for real this time, and like her I was stunned when he did his 180. I know I’m probably in the minority, but I think Trent is a arrogant SOB. Yes, in the story told in this book he’s the standup guy who realizes his mistake and fights for his woman. But he and Grace also have a twenty-year history and during those years he wasn’t always that standup guy. He hurt her time and time again by refusing her into his heart, by making her believe she wasn’t loved. And a few lovely words and romantic promises doesn’t make it okay in my book right away. But I believe Trent is serious with Grace this time, and that he doesn’t just say the words to win her back.

Second Chance Romances are really not my thing but It was free on Audible Escape and so I thought I’d give it a try.

 

Corrupt (Devil’s Night #1) by Penelope Douglas

Book Description:

Published: November 17, 2015

Format: Audio/Audible

Erika

I was told that dreams were our heart’s desires. My nightmares, however, became my obsession.

His name is Michael Crist.

My boyfriend’s older brother is like that scary movie that you peek through your hand to watch. He is handsome, strong, and completely terrifying. The star of his college’s basketball team and now gone pro, he’s more concerned with the dirt on his shoe than me.

But I noticed him.

I saw him. I heard him. The things that he did, and the deeds that he hid…For years, I bit my nails, unable to look away.

Now, I’ve graduated high school and moved on to college, but I haven’t stopped watching Michael. He’s bad, and the dirt I’ve seen isn’t content to stay in my head anymore.

Because he’s finally noticed me.

Michael

Her name is Erika Fane, but everyone calls her Rika.

My brother’s girlfriend grew up hanging around my house and is always at our dinner table. She looks down when I enter a room and stills when I am close. I can always feel the fear rolling off of her, and while I haven’t had her body, I know that I have her mind. That’s all I really want anyway.

Until my brother leaves for the military, and I find Rika alone at college.

In my city.

Unprotected.

The opportunity is too good to be true as well as the timing. Because you see, three years ago she put a few of my high school friends in prison, and now they’re out.

We’ve waited. We’ve been patient. And now every last one of her nightmares will come true.

***Corrupt can be read as a stand-alone. No cliffhanger.

Review –

This is the first book in the Devil’s Night series by Penelope Douglas.  Each book focuses on a different man from the main group of friends. The story takes place in the same world as stand alone Punk 57(whose main character is cousins with a character from the Devil’s Night series). You could read this as a stand alone too because there is no cliffhanger and it’s currently available on kindle unlimited.

The book revolves around the events of one night, three years prior and the revenge planned in the present. There is a lot of going back and forth in the timeline.

Four former students who used to be considered “kings” of the school come back on Devil’s Night (the night before Halloween) to whip the basketball team into shape. They do this by showing the current team how to haze, drink, and screw their way into a brotherhood that can hopefully perform on the court. After helping out their old school team, they then proceed to relive their youth by spending the rest of Devil’s Night pulling off some pranks that include sex with an underage girl, arson, and vandalism. They do all this while dragging along a sixteen-year-old girl and basically daring her to participate while constantly treating her to verbal abuse and veiled and not so veiled threats of rape etc. yet she stays. 

Something goes terribly wrong and the videos of their adventures (yes, they record everything) fall into the wrong hands and three of the four end up going to jail for three long years. They think the girl betrayed them so they spend those three years planning an elaborate revenge that will result in her being at the mercy of all four boys to be used by them in every way imaginable. Do they confront the girl, ummm…no. They just assume and plan. The fact that they did everything they were accused of meant nothing, they were just mad they got caught.

It’s dark, uncomfortable, twisted, creepy, exciting, intense, thrilling, and still very sexy.  This wasn’t a romance story that’s just set within a suspense plot, the romance itself was suspenseful and nerve wracking

This is one where I feel like TRIGGER WARNINGS are important but really the whole thing could be triggering so I don’t even know how piece it apart.  Consent is on the shakiest ground here and there are multiple nonconsensual interactions where the main female  character is clearly saying NO and being harassed or attacked and an almost rape scene situation.  Pretty much all of this behavior is meant to add to the scary suspense of the story and it definitely works, making you question just how far these characters are going to go and if you can handle it.

It had a HEA but it is a f***ed up story meant to push your limits – I’d be getting restraining orders and therapy after this sh*t if it happened to me, but again, what a ride. Also if you’re not into sex scenes in public places and mfm threesomes, steer clear!

Five stars!

 

War Storm (Red Queen #4) by Victoria Aveyard

Book Description:

Published: May 15, 2018

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Victory comes at a price.

Mare Barrow learned this all too well when Cal’s betrayal nearly destroyed her. Now determined to protect her heart—and secure freedom for Reds and newbloods like her—Mare resolves to overthrow the kingdom of Norta once and for all… starting with the crown on Maven’s head.

But no battle is won alone, and before the Reds may rise as one, Mare must side with the boy who broke her heart in order to defeat the boy who almost broke her. Cal’s powerful Silver allies, alongside Mare and the Scarlet Guard, prove a formidable force. But Maven is driven by an obsession so deep, he will stop at nothing to have Mare as his own again, even if it means demolishing everything—and everyone—in his path.

War is coming, and all Mare has fought for hangs in the balance. Will victory be enough to topple the Silver kingdoms? Or will the little lightning girl be forever silenced?

In the epic conclusion to Victoria Aveyard’s stunning series, Mare must embrace her fate and summon all her power… for all will be tested, but not all will survive.

Review –

FINALLY!!!!   I finished this book after borrowing it from OverDrive THREE times. To be the final book in the series, I found it to be anticlimactic and the ending was a bit like Gone With The Wind, in that, Mare, insinuated that she wouldn’t think about Cal right now BUT might ONE day to back to Norta. Very disappointing!  Enough said.