Ryan’s Bed by Tijan

Book Description:

Published: January 22, 2018

Format: Audio/Audible

I crawled into Ryan Jensen’s bed that first night by accident.

I barely knew him. I thought it was his sister’s bed—her room. It took seconds to realize my error, and I should’ve left…

I didn’t.
I didn’t jump out.
I didn’t get embarrassed.
I relaxed.
And that night, in that moment, it was the only thing I craved.

I asked to stay. He let me, and I slept.

The truth? I never wanted to leave his bed. If I could’ve stayed forever, I would have.
He became my sanctuary.

Because—four hours earlier—my twin sister killed herself.

Review –

This book was an emotional roller coaster ride! This book was heart wrenchingly good. It hit me right in the heart and I was left emotionally drained. It took a while to really get into the story line  because it felt like a typical YA romance but damn the second half totally changed my mind. Ryan’s bed was completely different from Tijan’s other books.  It not only deals with loss, grief, acceptance, and healing but it also deals with  sensitive issues like suicide and depression.

The writing was beautiful and I loved the characters. My heart ached for both Ryan and Mackenzie and the loss they’d both experienced. On the surface they might’ve seemed like an odd pairing, but it just worked. They understood each other and what they were going through and I loved the bond that formed as a result of that. It gave me all kinds of feels. There was a certain amount of escapism, too, as Mackenzie used Ryan to dull her pain, but something beautiful grew as a result of it. It was really interesting to watch Mackenzie develop throughout this book as she dealt with the loss of her sister. She gutted me at times – her pain was so visceral, so real.

Ryan was a pretty special character, too. He was popular and had a certain amount of power, but he was sweet and thoughtful and absolutely all in for Mackenzie. That’s the kind of hero I can get behind so easily. He was absolutely crush-worthy. I wouldn’t call him perfect, because who is really, but he was darn close. He protected and cared for Mackenzie in a way she needed, a way he understood because he’d lost someone close to him, too.

You should give this book a try and if you do decide to read it or listen to it ,expect angst and pain and more than a few heartaches, but know you’ll also find something beautiful amongst all that heavier stuff. At the risk of saying too much, you should also expect a jaw-dropping ending. I DID NOT see that coming. Just to be clear, it’s not a cliffhanger and this is a standalone book, but W O W. It was kinda perfect, but I still couldn’t help but trying to flip further to find more story. I’ll be adding this one to my “must reread at some point” list so I can get the full experience again, knowing the ending.

Five stars!

A Simple Favor by Darcy Bell

Book Description:

Published: March 21, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

She’s your best friend.
She knows all your secrets.
That’s why she’s so dangerous.
A single mother’s life is turned upside down when her best friend vanishes in this chilling debut thriller in the vein of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train.

It starts with a simple favor—an ordinary kindness mothers do for one another. When her best friend, Emily, asks Stephanie to pick up her son Nicky after school, she happily says yes. Nicky and her son, Miles, are classmates and best friends, and the five-year-olds love being together—just like she and Emily. A widow and stay-at-home mommy blogger living in woodsy suburban Connecticut, Stephanie was lonely until she met Emily, a sophisticated PR executive whose job in Manhattan demands so much of her time.

But Emily doesn’t come back. She doesn’t answer calls or return texts. Stephanie knows something is terribly wrong—Emily would never leave Nicky, no matter what the police say. Terrified, she reaches out to her blog readers for help. She also reaches out to Emily’s husband, the handsome, reticent Sean, offering emotional support. It’s the least she can do for her best friend. Then, she and Sean receive shocking news. Emily is dead. The nightmare of her disappearance is over.

Or is it? Because soon, Stephanie will begin to see that nothing—not friendship, love, or even an ordinary favor—is as simple as it seems.

A Simple Favor is a remarkable tale of psychological suspense—a clever and twisting free-fall of a ride filled with betrayals and reversals, twists and turns, secrets and revelations, love and loyalty, murder and revenge. Darcey Bell masterfully ratchets up the tension in a taut, unsettling, and completely absorbing story that holds you in its grip until the final page.

Review –

“The formula is familiar: The author’s debut is a pale facsimile of The Girl on the Train. True to template, the novel tells the same story from the differing and self-serving perspectives of three narrators. Stephanie is a blogger who writes about mom issues. Recently widowed and raising small son Miles alone, she overshares all manner of anxieties on her blog. Her husband and her half brother died together in a tragic auto crash, but later we learn the edgy part: her husband had suspicions about her ongoing affair with her half brother. Stephanie forms a play-date friendship with fellow Connecticut mom Emily, a busy publicist for a top Manhattan fashion designer. Certainly, Emily has an unusual fondness for serial-killer movies and Patricia Highsmith novels—and, thanks to her high-powered job, is always sticking Stephanie with the kids—but Stephanie thinks, and blogs, that she’s finally found a true friend. The two do share a common dysfunctional past: estrangement from Midwestern parents. After Emily disappears during a business trip, however, the POV shifts to her, and we learn that she and her Wall Street trader husband, Sean (who’s the third narrator), planned to fake her death in order to cash in on a $2 million life insurance policy so they and their son, Nicky, could escape the rat race. From here, the typical who’s-playing-whom standoff between the three principals unspools, and violence accelerates. There are plenty of rationalizations cited by Sean and Emily as to why their scam makes sense, in spite of the likelihood that $2 million is a drop in Sean’s annual bonus bucket, and, in any case, how much time away from the rat race would it really buy? This is just one of many unconvincing motivations driving the plot, which will amply satisfy readers’ lowest expectations.

More like “girl on a train wreck.”” Kirkus Reviews

This would make the perfect book to pack for vacation!

 

Anti-Stepbrother by Tijan

Book Description:

Published: August 22, 2016

Format: Audio/Audible

He told me to ‘settle, girl.’
He asked if ‘something was wrong with me?’
He said I was an ‘easy target.’
That was within minutes when I first met Caden Banks.
I labeled him an *sshole, but he was more than that. Arrogant. Smug. Alpha.

He was also to-die-for gorgeous, and my stepbrother’s fraternity brother.

Okay, yes I was a little naive, a tad bit socially awkward, and the smallest amount of stalker-ish, but if Caden Banks thought he could tell me what to do, he had another thing coming.

I came to college with daydreams about being with my stepbrother, but what if I fell for the anti-stepbrother instead?

Review –

I just finished listening to my first “read” by Tijan. I saw it recommended on an Instagram feed and saw it was available in the Audible Romance Package so I gave it a try. I’m so glad I did!

Summer had a one night stand with her step brother Kevin. Kevin is a GIANT douche. (I wanted to strangler his most of the time)I was more than a little irritated with Summer because she watched him parade girls in and out of his life, cheating on them and using them. But, she was somehow convinced she would be different. You can guess how that turned out…

Kevin’s fraternity brother Caden runs into Summer a few times and they strike up an odd friendship. I liked this aspect of the story. Weeks go by of them just hanging out and doing normal stuff-watching TV, studying, going bowling. To me, THIS is how a real relationship begins. Caden is not a fan of Kevin (WOOHOO!!!) and the 2 have come to blows before.

Because the story is told only from Summer’s point of view, you never really know whats up with Caden. He has a bit of a reputation at the school for being standoffish and ‘above’ everyone else. I was always curious about what was going on in his head. I think it adds to the tension of the story. As Summer is starting to have feelings for him, you really have no idea how he feels. And, as we already established, Summer doesn’t exactly have good skills at reading people.

I loved that Summer didn’t change who she was either. She is kind of weird and a bit scattered at times. She didn’t want to change her appearance or be a person she wasn’t. She kind of just embraced her personality. She admitted to being dull in high school and she didn’t want to be that any more; However, she didn’t have to change her personality or who she was in order to be ‘not dull’. It was refreshing to read a college aged character who wasn’t so debilitatingly self-conscious and desperate to be someone she isn’t.

I did get a bit irritated at the back and forth romance. She has feelings for Kevin, then she doesn’t, then she does. Then she loves Caden, he tells her she doesn’t love him. It’s so NA but it really gets kind of old after a while. You just want to say “enough already”!

It’s classified as NA (New Adult) and I would also say it is “soft smut” because of the sexual situations and the implied sex happenings. Just goes to show that an author doesn’t have to use explicit sex to make a scene hot and steamy!

Loved the story and will be reading more from this author.

 

 

The Boy and His Ribbon (The Ribbon Duet #1) by Pepper Winters

Book Description:

Published: April 1, 2018 

Format: E-Book/OverDrive

What do you do when you meet your soul mate? No wait…that’s too easy. What do you do when you meet your soul mate and have to spend a lifetime loving him in secret?
I’ll tell you what you do.
You lie.”

REN

Ren was eight when he learned that love doesn’t exist–that the one person who was supposed to adore him only cared how much he was worth.
His mother sold him and for two years, he lived in terror.
But then…he ran.
He thought he’d run on his own. Turned out, he took something of theirs by accident and it became the one thing he never wanted and the only thing he ever needed.

DELLA

I was young when I fell in love with him, when he switched from my world to my everything.
My parents bought him for cheap labour, just like they had with many other kids, and he had the scars to prove it.
At the start, he hated me, and I could understand why.
For years he was my worst enemy, fiercest protector, and dearest friend.
But by the end…he loved me.
The only problem was, he loved me in an entirely different way to the way I loved him.
And slowly, my secret drove us apart.

A True Coming Of Age Story.

Review –

This is the story of Ren and Della through the span of ten years. How they met, what they faced, how they protected each other. Every low and every up. Every hope and every despair. Every moment of innocent joy and every lust filled thoughts.

Told in dual POV with Della writing her story for a school assignment it had an enthralling quality.

But, you have to go into this story with an open mind. You have to believe in something that’s hardly believable. Don’t shy away. Don’t be picky and think it’s just impossible. Just go with the flow and let the story lull you into its depth.

The reader witnesses  Ren going from a young boy to a man and Della from baby to young woman. All this through incredibly harsh circumstances. It’s about taboo feelings and angst that sometimes has no place to go. 

 It ends on a cliffhanger or rather an open ending or an ending that you want to change and I can’t wait for the sequel.

Fear the Darkness (Brigid Quinn #2) by Becky Masterman

Book Description:

Published: January 20, 2015

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Ex-FBI Agent Brigid Quinn thinks she has a second chance at life. After too many years spent in the company of evil, she’s quit the Feds and is working out what normal is meant to feel like. She’s swapped serial killers, stakeouts and interrogation for a husband, friends and free time. But when you’ve walked in darkness for so long, can you stand the light? When a local teenager dies in a tragic drowning accident, the community thinks Brigid might be able to help comfort the family. But when she does so, something doesn’t add up. And it’s no easier at home: after a bereavement in the family, Brigid has reluctantly taken in her niece to give her a break before she starts college. Brigid’s ever-patient husband Carlo tells her they must go easy on Gemma-Kate, the grieving youngster. Which is fine, until she starts taking an unhealthy interest in dissecting the local wildlife. For Brigid, death still seems to be wherever she turns. But as she herself starts to feel unwell, it’s her own mortality that is the most troubling. And as she tries to get to the bottom of a series of allegedly accidental deaths and increasingly gruesome occurrences at home, she slowly realises that maybe this time, she’s let the darkness inside the only place she ever felt safe. Sometimes, death is closer than you think.

Review –

This was another five star, page turner, edge of your seat listen by author, Becky Masterman (IMO).

As a former FBI agent who’s lived a very private and secretive life in many different identities, Quinn is slowly adjusting to being a new wife and to making real friends for the first time. She’s shopping, gossiping, enjoying a glass of wine with new friend Mallory, hiking and attending church socials and local events.

But there are threats in the most unexpected places and hiding just below the surface in the most unlikely people. After her sister-in-law dies following a long illness, Quinn fulfills a promise by taking in her seventeen year-old niece, Gemma-Kate. The girl seems oddly unemotional and occasionally disconnected, causing Quinn to wonder whether Gemma-Kate is involved in the odd occurrences that begin to crop up.

The book’s multilayered characters continue to offer surprises, including Mallory’s (Brigid’s first real friend-ever) bedridden husband, Owen, paralyzed in an accident and unable to speak; and Owen’s doctor, Tim Neilsen, and his wan, lost-looking wife, Jacquie. There’s an added sense of menace when she agrees to look into the strange death of the Neilsens’ son, after she picks up a piece of paper on which Jacquie has secretly scribbled “Help me”.

As Brigid’s unease mounts, she begins to wonder whom she can trust. This story thrives on the unexpected and unforeseen, and as tension builds, readers can expect a plot that morphs into something bigger than a curious death or two. There’s something to boggle the mind on nearly every page and a death-defying scene near the finale that’ll curl your hair. The monsters in the shadows—the ones we thought were completely exaggerated—are only too real.

It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover

Book Description:

Published: August 2, 2016

SOMETIMES THE ONE WHO LOVES YOU IS THE ONE WHO HURTS YOU THE MOST

Lily hasn’t always had it easy, but that’s never stopped her from working hard for the life she wants. She’s come a long way from the small town in Maine where she grew up – she graduated from college, moved to Boston, and started her own business. So when she feels a spark with a gorgeous neurosurgeon named Ryle Kincaid, everything in Lily’s life suddenly seems almost too good to be true.

Ryle is assertive, stubborn, and maybe even a little arrogant. He’s also sensitive, brilliant, and has a total soft spot for Lily, but Ryle’s complete aversion to relationships is disturbing.

As questions about her new relationship overwhelm her, so do thoughts of Atlas Corrigan – her first love and a link to the past she left behind. He was her kindred spirit, her protector. When Atlas suddenly reappears, everything Lily has built with Ryle is threatened.

With this bold and deeply personal novel, Colleen Hoover delivers a heart-wrenching story that breaks exciting new ground for her as a writer. It Ends With Us is an unforgettable tale of love that comes at the ultimate price.

This book contains graphic scenes and very sensitive subject matter.

Review –

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First of all, I want to say that I gave this book five stars ***** and it deserved more.

It got a LOT of hype and some readers didn’t like it and some loved it. I’m in the latter category. It deals with a subject whose depth you can not comprehend unless you are a part of it. Thank my lucky stars, I was not ever, nor do I think I will ever be a part of it. 

I would love to tell you everything about this book but I can’t because it would give too much away and I want you to read it or listen to it. I want everyone to read or listen to it. Men and women.

This book broke my heart because I was rooting for the man I thought was “perfect”, but I guess if something looks perfect it’s too good to be true. Love can hurt and love can heal but one person can’t do both.

The blurb makes it sound like a “love triangle” is involved but it’s not. That is not the point, or the focus. Whatever it is you’re thinking this book is, just trust me — it’s so much bigger than that. Seriously, trust Colleen. I did.

This book is now at my top favorite books of the year. I was unable to stop listening for long periods of time and other times I HAD  to stop listening. My heart couldn’t take it and I needed more Kleenex. I know that this is one of those profoundly beautiful and unforgettable stories that will stay with me for a long time.

I highly recommend it to everyone!

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Uses For Boys by Erica Lorraine Scheidt

Book Description:

Published: January 15, 2016

Anna remembers a time before boys, when she was little and everything made sense. When she and her mom were a family, just the two of them against the world. But now her mom is gone most of the time, chasing the next marriage, bringing home the next stepfather. Anna is left on her own—until she discovers that she can make boys her family. From Desmond to Joey, Todd to Sam, Anna learns that if you give boys what they want, you can get what you need. But the price is high—the other kids make fun of her; the girls call her a slut. Anna’s new friend, Toy, seems to have found a way around the loneliness, but Toy has her own secrets that even Anna can’t know.

Then comes Sam. When Anna actually meets a boy who is more than just useful, whose family eats dinner together, laughs, and tells stories, the truth about love becomes clear. And she finally learns how it feels to have something to lose—and something to offer. Real, shocking, uplifting, and stunningly lyrical, Uses for Boys is a story of breaking down and growing up.

Review –

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This was the most depressing book that I think I have ever read or listened to but it is also very haunting.

In the “tell me again times”, Anna’s mom tells her the story of how she was alone and had always wanted a daughter. But Anna slowly learns the truth, having a daughter is not enough to fill the void inside her mother. So she watches as her mother marries, divorces, marries, divorces, and then spends a great deal of time dating man after man and leaving Anna in the house alone.
Anna often spends night after night alone in the lying house. It looks beautiful, but it is empty. She turns on the TV to fill it with noise. She wanders from room to room. And when nothing she can do fills that emptiness, she begins to try to fill it with boys in much the same way she sees her mother trying to fill her own emptiness with men.

Anna’s story is a series of relationships, very few of them real or fulfilling:
Her mother – absent, distant, unaware
The first boy – a boy who assaults her on the school bus, although she doesn’t realize at the time what it is.
Joey – For a while, he fills the void. But then just as her mother told her all men do, he leaves.
The rapist – he haunts her.
Toy – the best friend, lost herself, but Anna doesn’t recognize this until much later.
Josh – For a while, he too fills the void.
And then Sam – here she sees for the first time what a real family must look like, and it creates in her a longing so real, so palpable that the world around her shifts.

By the time Sam comes along Anna has gotten pregnant and had an abortion but he is a virgin and wants to WAIT for their first time together.  They do wait-for awhile but the temptation is too great and they have sex, whenever and where ever they can. One afternoon Anna goes over to Sam’s house because he is sick and one thing leads to another and they have sex and his mother walks in on them and tells her to leave.  

It’s during this time of depression and loneliness that Anna discovers that Toy is as broken as she is and has been lying about all her romantic boyfriends (none of whom exist). Anna  has been trying  fill the emptiness inside of her with boy after boy after boy until she sees something else and decides she is going to find a way to make it happen for herself, and it’s  important because Anna realizes this for herself and acts upon it for herself.

The book ends with Anna feeling hopeful and that’s something she has never felt before.

Very thought-provoking.

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How to Tame Beasts and Other Wild Things by A. Wilding Wells

Book Description:

Published: April 11, 2016

An artsy young woman, given the impossible task by her estranged father to score her widowed brother-in-law a wife, instead finds love, self-discovery and redemption.

“My name is Matilda Pearl. My life is a non-stop riddle I hope to one day solve.
I’ve learned to protect my heart; fate has dealt me more than a few shit cards in my twenty-two years. Invisibility tops my list, not to mention tragedy.
I was yanked out of a Paris-France life by my ass of a father, and thrown into a one year journey on a farm in Wisconsin. I’ve been assigned the impossible: Wife Catcher.
Simply put, until I replace myself I’m Mary Poppins, the beast tamer, ringmaster of the unruly, complete with twin toddlers and a beast of a man. Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to my three-ring circus.
“The Beast – Balthazar Cox – is repulsive…as in that sexy, I-just-died-and-went-to-heaven sort of repulsive. He walks the earth like he owns it, with his tatted trunk of a body and chiseled-rough, blazing good looks. The beastly Brit – did I mention that he’s English? – also happens to be my widowed brother-in-law, a man haunted by betrayal and abandonment, and for whom I’m on task to find a wife. If I succeed I’ll be rewarded with my juicy trust fund. And, yes, it will happen. You can keep your diamonds and designer clothes…. With my bag of loot, I plan on becoming the Patron Saint of Lost and Found Animals.

“When the past resurfaces more than once for both of us, all hell breaks loose. Can you be lost and found at once? In other words, sometimes lies can be cathartic. Some people heal us; some of us heal others.
“This is mostly a love story, an unlikely sexy romance with whiplash twists, boundaries that shouldn’t be crossed, and multiple risks of losing everything. It may have more heartache, and drama than some but in the end it’s about truth, discovery and forgiveness. Maybe it was wrong to fall for him. Or maybe the hole in his heart was always waiting for me to fill it. Now there’s a riddle for you.”

Review –

Fantastically quirky with humor for good measure, is how I would describe this book. I can’t tell a lie – I chose to read this book because of the cover and really had no idea what to expect. It made me feel emotion at every turn. I loved it!

Apart from an impossibly sweet and hot romance, there are also moments of absolute hilarity. House trained donkeys, horny bees, foul mouthed parrots, chandeliered chicken coops and a possessed staircase all play a part in this crazy ride. I laughed about as hard as I swooned and I shed a tear about as many times as I had to fan myself. What an absolutely charmingly odd little gem of a book.

Highly recommended!

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Wild Reckless (Harper Boys #1) by Ginger Scott

Book Description:

Published: March 17, 2015

Kensington Worth had a vision for her senior year. It involved her best friends, her posh private school in downtown Chicago and time alone with her piano until her audition was perfected, a guaranteed ticket into the best music programs in the world.

Instead, a nightmare took over.

It didn’t happen all at once, but her life unraveled quickly—a tiny thread that evil somehow kept pulling until everything precious was taken from her. She was suddenly living miles away from her old life, trapped in an existence she didn’t choose—one determined to destroy her from the inside, leaving only hate and anger behind. It didn’t help that her neighbor, the one whose eyes held danger, was enjoying every second of her fall.

Owen Harper was trouble, his heart wild and his past the kind that’s spoken about in whispers. And somehow, his path was always intertwined with Kensington’s, every interaction crushing her, ruining her hope for any future better than her now. Sometimes, though, what everyone warns is trouble, is exactly what the heart needs. Owen Harper was consumed with darkness, and it held onto his soul for years. When Kensington looked at him, she saw a boy who’d gotten good at taking others down when they threatened his carefully balanced life. But the more she looked, the more she saw other things too—good things…things to admire.

Things…to love. Things that made her want to be reckless.

And those things…they were the scariest of all.

Review –

Five-star-feedback-on-oDesk

When I started reading this book I thought it was a Young Adult novel, but the more I got into it, I changed my mind. I thought it would fit into the New Adult category, but by the ending I’m sure that it is somewhere in-between.

The plot of this story isn’t new: Girl from the city moves to a small town and right next door to the town’s BAD BOY and at first there is only indifference/hatred between them. But of course we all know that eventually the good girl will fall in love with the bad boy and will do things she knows she shouldn’t. What makes this NOT  young adult book is all the talk of drugs, alcohol and sex throughout the book, but don’t get me wrong, I LOVED IT, but I’m not a YA or a NA, so I can read anything I like. But, I wouldn’t want my teenage daughter (13-17) reading this because it makes sex, drugs and alcohol seem perfectly okay and it’s like no big deal .

The author writes a very steamy and descriptive  first time,Kensi was a virgin, sex scene between Owen and Kensi that is also beautiful. I was listening to it on Audible and it was in Chapter 21.

We learn that Owen has a train trunk full of baggage and why he is the dare-devil that he is. You can’t help but feel sorry for him and more than once I found myself yelling at the book, “Oh, good God, give the boy a break.” Kensi is also troubled but it’s because she learns the move was brought on by her father’s affair with her best friend and a weak mother figure,(most of the time).

As in all good YA or NA books there is a HEA and there isn’t another couple in the fiction world that deserved it more than Owen and Kensi.

Five stars *****

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