Easy Prey by Catherine Lo

Book Description:

Published: October 16, 2018

Format: Audio/Audiobook Sync

Stars: 5

Only three students had access to a teacher’s racy photos before they went viral. There’s Mouse, a brainy overachiever so desperate to escape his father and go to MIT that he would do almost anything, legal or not. Then there’s Drew, the star athlete who can get any girl’s number—and private photos—with his charm but has a history of passing those photos around. And finally there’s Jenna, a good girl turned rebel after her own shocking photos made the rounds at school last year, who is still waiting for justice. All three deny leaking the photos, but someone has to take the fall. This edgy whodunit tackles hot-button issues of sexting and gossip and will have readers tearing through the pages to reach the final reveal.

Review –

Sexting, lies, and consequences.

Jenna, Drew, and Mouse(Matthew) are thrown together for their senior law final project. Instead of being the easy “A”  Drew expected, the class ignites controversy about dangerous social media issues. Jenna hasn’t spoken to her ex-boyfriend Troy since the day he publicly tweeted topless pictures of her. She has since cut her hair short, dyed it jet black, cut up her girly wardrobe and set his truck on fire, exchanging ballet shoes for a court-mandated anger management class. Drew is an unapologetic player on and off the basketball court but finds himself drawn to Jenna’s newfound strength. Uber-intelligent Mouse is bound for MIT and painfully in love with Jenna. He stands to lose everything if anyone finds out that the basketball team hired him to build a database to house photos of naked girls. What all three students have in common are grievances against their law teacher, Mrs. Bailey. When shocking photos of Mrs. Bailey are posted on the internet, the threesome begin to suspect each other while confronting their own moral transgressions. The author creates realistic, multidimensional characters while exploring the legal and ethical ramifications of privacy as it plays out in a hormonally charged high school environment. Drew and Jenna are white, and Mouse and Troy are black.

I thought I knew where this book was going and BOOM, a twist I didn’t see coming. Fantastic and well deserved ending.

A provocative story about the consequences of poor decisions in our digital world.

I highly recommend it to all young adults who have ever thought about posting something they shouldn’t on social media!

 

 

The Shuddering by Ania Ahlborn

Book Description:

Published: June 18, 2013

Format: Audio/Scribd

Stars: 4

Ryan Adler and his twin sister, Jane, spent their happiest childhood days at their parents’ mountain Colorado cabin — until divorce tore their family apart. Now, with the house about to be sold, the Adler twins gather with their closest friends for one last snowboarding-filled holiday. While commitment-phobic Ryan gazes longingly at Lauren, wondering if his playboy days are over, Jane’s hopes of reconciling with her old boyfriend evaporate when he brings along his new fiancée. As drama builds among the friends, something lurks in the forest, watching the cabin, growing ever bolder as the snow falls — and hunger rises. After a blizzard leaves the group stranded, the true test of their love and loyalty begins as the hideous creatures outside close in, one bloody attack at a time. Now Ryan, Jane, and their friends must fight — tooth and nail, bullet and blade — for their lives. Or else surrender to unspeakable deaths in the darkened woods.

Review –

This book could be described as an old-school creature feature in novel form. When a host of sarcastic twenty-somethings stage a reunion at a secluded winter cabin, a devastating blizzard traps them indoors, forcing them to circle the wagons against an onslaught of attacks from ashen, long-limbed monsters that legend has it only come out when it snows.

The creatures are introduced in a riveting prologue, but once the author  establishes her mundane characters, winter woods setting, the plot devolves into a slow plod toward a final confrontation. We know the monsters are there, we know our heroes will be forced to fight them, but Ahlborn insists on saving the good stuff until the finale.

Essentially, there are no twists or turns just very predictable actions by the cabin dwellers. For the first half of The Shuddering, tension and suspense are clearly lacking. Though a peripheral character does become the first to “bite the dust” (or should I say snow).

But then, suddenly, things start getting good. Once the characters are fully aware of their plight and begin to mount a defense, The Shuddering magically transforms from rich boy melodrama into a stark, unsettling tale of snowbound survival. Things get dirty, things get nasty, and when the author  finally forces her twenty-somethings to knuckle up, the book really delivers. It’s a few chapters  of good old-fashioned monster magic tacked onto the back end of some super predictable happenings.

The ending is right out of Twilight Zone or a Stephen King novel and you can see it coming a mile away. Is the book good? I gave it four stars just because I love a good spooky story and I don’t care how predictable it was! 

I wish I had waited and read it in the winter instead of a hundred degree Spring day.

 

 

Need: Ari and Jackson (Fettered #7) by Lilia Moon

Book Description:

Published: February 4, 2018

Format: Audio/Audible

Stars: 4

The end of the Fettered series.

Review –

This is the final book of the Fettered series and it gives us the story of Ari and Jackson. I’ve read two or three others but this is the first one that held my attention.

Ari is the beating heart of Fettered, which is a BDSM club. She is a switch, in other words she is a sub who can also be a Domme. She needs both to fully express herself. She has longed for the kind of relationship that she sees all her friends getting and knows because she is a switch it is a very difficult job to find someone who can let her fully express both sides of herself.

She has long derided the “baby doms”, the doms that have little experience and their skills are under-developed. Her bratty sub personality pushes too hard against unskilled doms and she often finds herself in training mode, which is part of her job, to let go and really surrender herself.

Jackson is a very interesting character. He has only been out of dom training for a few months, but he has been watching and longing for Ari. He knows he isn’t skilled enough for her yet, but realises that time is running out for him as he sees Ari desperately lonely and longing for a real relationship. He decides to take a chance and ask for an opportunity to show Ari what he can do.

I have always love Ari throughout the other books I’ve read and it’s really interesting to explore her personality more thoroughly. I really enjoyed seeing how a new Dom learns to find his feet in the kinky world. In most BDSM books I’ve read, it is always the sub who is new and this book really explores both sides of the BDSM coin and it is very interesting.

 

 

 

The Getaway by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

Book Description:

Published: April 30, 2020

Format: Audio/Audible

Stars:3

In this short thriller from number one New York Times best-selling authors Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen, a young woman’s dream getaway becomes her worst nightmare.

Prepare yourself for a transformative experience. Sometimes, life’s setbacks contain hidden gifts. Here at Lakewood, you’ll find the space to unwrap them.

A weekend at the Lakewood Retreat is exactly what Chloe Powell needs. Freshly unemployed after her boss loses a reelection campaign, the former press secretary desperately wants a break from the bustle of Washington DC. A flier posted at her yoga studio leads her to the getaway, which looks amazing: organic meals, celebrity testimonials, and a serene private property within driving distance of the city.

It’s so perfect, in fact, that Chloe’s barely bothered by the intensely personal questions she’s asked in her application, or the unnerving social experiments her enigmatic host, Sebastian, imposes on her once she arrives at his remote cabin. But when a mysterious new guest shows up, Chloe can no longer suppress her rising panic: This place is not at all what it seems.

A pulse-pounding story from the first minute to the last, The Getaway explores the weight of the small choices we make every day, and their staggering, unintended consequences.

Review-

I have loved everything I’ve read by these authors up until now.  This was released as a Audible Original free for the month of May. If I had used a credit – I would have been devastated.

It’s only two hours and twenty four minutes long so that should tell you something. The blurb sounded good, but the actual book left a lot to be desired.

Everything felt rushed and very predictable and the end came way too quick. 

Maybe the authors were contracted by Audible for something short, I don’t know what determines an Audible Original but this one missed the market least for me.

 

 

 

Pretty Girls Dancing by Kylie Brant

Book Description:

Published: January 1, 2018

Format: Audio/Scribd

Stars: 5

Years ago, in the town of Saxon Falls, young Kelsey Willard disappeared and was presumed dead. The tragedy left her family with a fractured life—a mother out to numb the pain, a father losing a battle with his own private demons, and a sister desperate for closure. But now another teenage girl has gone missing. It’s ripping open old wounds for the Willards, dragging them back into a painful past, and leaving them unprepared for where it will take them next.

Bureau of Criminal Investigation agent Mark Foster has stumbled on uncanny parallels in the lives of the two missing girls that could unlock clues to a serial killer’s identity. That means breaking down the walls of the Willards’ long-guarded secrets and getting to a truth that is darker than he bargained for. Now, to rescue one missing girl, he must first solve the riddles that disappeared with another: Kelsey Willard herself. Dead or alive, she is his last hope.

Review –

Pretty Girls Dancing is Kylie Brant’s latest standalone  novel, and the first book of hers that I’ve tried.  It’s described as a dark thriller, although I disagree.

A series of kidnappings/murders is devastating a small town and the families involved. The world is believed to be done by a serial killer called the Ten Mile Killer (TMK for short). Okay, so a lot of this is probably pretty obvious from the description of the novel. The TMK villain kidnaps and tortures little girls. While the torture is necessarily graphic, it is still very much torture. Bodies are found during the course of the novel, as is (spoiler warning) a surviving victim. While they don’t use the word, it’s very clear that she has been sexually assaulted by her TMK captor. I know these themes can be upsetting to many, so just be aware of them going in.

 

The Summer Children (The Collector #3) by Dot Hutchison

Book Description:

Published:

Format: Audio/Scribd

Stars: 4

This FBI agent has come to expect almost anything—just not this…

When Agent Mercedes Ramirez finds an abused young boy on her porch, covered in blood and clutching a teddy bear, she has no idea that this is just the beginning. He tells her a chilling tale: an angel killed his parents and then brought him here so Mercedes could keep him safe.

His parents weren’t just murdered. It was a slaughter—a rage kill like no one on the Crimes Against Children team had seen before. But they’re going to see it again. An avenging angel is meting out savage justice, and she’s far from through.

One by one, more children arrive at Mercedes’s door with the same horror story. Each one a traumatized survivor of an abusive home. Each one chafing at Mercedes’s own scars from the past. And each one taking its toll on her life and career.

Now, as the investigation draws her deeper into the dark, Mercedes is beginning to fear that if this case doesn’t destroy her, her memories might.

Review –

The Summer Children is the third book in the series The Collector by Dot Hutchison. Though I did read it as a standalone, because it has been over two years since I read the first two books in the series. There are characters that come and go in this book who have made their appearance in the previous installments. The Summer Children is a about an FBI team of which Mercedes Ramirez is a member. They are in Crimes Against Children section of the FBI. She has been there for ten years and has helped  and rescued more children than she can count.

The book begins with Mercedes and her girlfriend returning to Mercedes’ home where they come across a little boy waiting for Mercedes. The little boy, Ronnie, is covered in blood and holding a teddy bear with gold wings. He claims to be deposited on her porch by the angel who killed his parents. A few days later, Mercedes and her teammate Eliza Sterling return to Mercedes’ place to see three kids on her porch. Sarah, Ashley and Sammy with faces streaked with blood and holding a teddy bear with gold wings  say the same thing as well. All the children were brought here by the angel who killed their parents and deposited here because Mercedes would keep them safe. These kids had to watch their parents be killed, and then they were told they’d be safe with Mercedes. Safe because they are all victims of abuse. Ronnie was abused by his father while Sarah by her stepfather. As more and more children from similar backgrounds turn up at Mercedes’ place, the local PD asks to partner with the FBI to solve the crime. And solve it they do.

There is a good plot in this book. While abuse is a thread running strong throughout the book, certain sections of the book have a much horrific version than the rest. Stomach turningly horrific. There is evil in this world and sometimes we choose to ignore it willfully. This is something that a few characters do with confidence in The Summer Children.  But the CAC team tries hard to stop further damage. So, if you are someone who can not read about bad things being done to children, then skip this book.

What I loved about this book was the team in which Mercedes works. A unit that works together in sync and a team that’s more family than friends. Office politics and other distractions do not hinder their investigations or stop them from pursuing criminals. Each of them, be it the head of the unit or the newest member, is involved in their job hoping to save one more child. A noble cause, for which they all have their own reasons to contribute to.

The book starts off a bit slow, but, never does it get boring. There is a nice pace that begins once the children start arriving. It is a book that has blood, sweat and tears and makes us question rules and regulations, between right and wrong.

Again, there is a lot of child abuse, be it physical, sexual or emotional in this book.  If you can handle it, then put on your TBR list.

Fantastic read!

 

Here to Stay by Mark Edwards

Book Description:

Published: September 1, 2019

Format: Audio/Scribd

Stars: 4

A beautiful home. A loving wife. And in-laws to die for.

Gemma Robinson comes into Elliot’s life like a whirlwind, and they marry and settle into his home. When she asks him if her parents can come to stay for a couple of weeks, he is keen to oblige – he just doesn’t quite know what he’s signing up for.

The Robinsons arrive with Gemma’s sister, Chloe, a mysterious young woman who refuses to speak or leave her room. Elliot starts to suspect that the Robinsons are hiding a dark secret. And then there are the scars on his wife’s body that she won’t talk about . . .

As Elliot’s in-laws become more comfortable in his home, encroaching on all aspects of his life, it becomes clear that they have no intention of moving out. To protect Gemma, and their marriage, Elliot delves into the Robinsons’ past. But is he prepared for the truth?

Review –

Author Mark Edwards describes his psychological thrillers as stories “in which scary things happen to ordinary people”. No kidding! I actually had nightmares about this book and felt so stressed throughout that it gave me a tension headache. I’m serious. I had to turn off my listening device, take a decompressing break by listening to a lighter/no angst book and ONLY then go back and finish it.

After a whirlwind romance followed closely by marriage to the gorgeous Gemma, science teacher Elliot feels like his life is complete. He has everything he can ever want: a loving partner, a beautiful home, a job he loves and an adored cat who is like a child to him. That’s until his in-laws come to stay for two weeks – and never move out. Which in itself is terrifying, except that you have no idea how bad it can get, because these are not your average family but a bunch of utter psychopaths! Sweet Elliot, whose own parents are long dead, has no chance against the destructive force that is about to be unleashed on his life.

 There are crazy twists at every turn, some so hair-raising that if this was a scary movie I would have to turn the volume on low and peek through my fingers. No such luck here, though. The story slowly unrolled in all its horrifying glory, and I felt like I had knives thrown at my heart. 

As I am sitting here writing this review, I still feel the remnants of tension in my gut, the sort that only a strong White Russian and a night off the thrillers can fix. 

if you suffer from high blood pressure, anxiety or poor impulse control (i.e. book throwing), do not enter into this without consulting your doctor first. Also, this book is like reading about a plane crash before embarking on a long-haul flight, so if your in-laws’ visit is imminent, I recommend skipping it for now. Who am I kidding? This book is pure hell!!!!! Enter at your own risk! And don’t say I didn’t warn you ….

I Bet You (The Hook-Up #2) by Ilsa Madden-Mills

Book Description:

Published: October 25, 2018

Format: Audio/Audible

Stars: 4

New Standalone Sports Romance

Sexy Athlete: I bet you . . .
Penelope Graham: Burn in hell, quarterback.

The text is random but Penelope figures out exactly who “Sexy Athlete” is. And why she shouldn’t take his wager.

Ryker Voss.
Football star.
Walks on water and God’s gift to women.
Just ask him.

His bet? He promises Penelope he’ll win her the heart of the guy she’s been crushing on. His plan—good old-fashioned jealousy. Once her crush sees her kissing Ryker, he’ll realize what he’s missing. Sounds legit, right? The only question is . . . why is Ryker being so nice to her?

Penelope Graham.
Virgin.
Lover of sparkly vampires and calculus.
His mortal enemy.

Penelope knows she shouldn’t trust a jock, but what’s a girl to do when she needs a date to Homecoming? And Ryker’s keeping a secret, another bet, one that will destroy Penelope’s heart forever.

Will the quarterback score the good girl or will his secrets mean everyone loses this game of love?

*Author’s Note: This is a standalone sports romance with an HEA.

Review –

I Bet You is a fun new adult sports romance, (which I normally don’t read). The main character, Penelope, was a little quirky and a whole lot sassy and a great Southern accent .She had a thing against football players and knew that she wanted a smart, nerdier type of guy in her life. That was all blown to pieces when Ryker Voss inserts himself into her life and offers to help Penelope get the guy.

Ryker was the college’s well-loved quarterback. Despite being a cocky jock, he was actually a nice guy. Penelope wasn’t the type of girl he normally went for, but the more time he spent with her the more he wished it wasn’t someone else she was pining for.

I really liked both Ryker and Penelope. My issue with I Bet You wasn’t their romance, but a bet that was going on in the background. It was predictable. I knew what was going to happen and I hated it. BUT I ended up really liking how it was all handled and explained at the end.

The book also had a great cast of supporting characters. I loved Penelope and Ryker’s friends. Charisma, Margo, and Blaze were so much fun! I also liked the bad guy in this book, Archer, he was just the right amount of scummy. LOL. Oh, and I really liked everything that went down with Penelope’s family situation. That was a great story line.

With all the angsty books I’ve listened to lately, this one was very refreshing and fun.

Reign of Brayshaw (Brayshaw #3) by Meagan Brandy

Book Description:

Published: October 1, 2019

Format: Audio/Audible

Stars: 4

“Trust only those who earn it.”

A sentiment I follow without direction but holds more consequence than ever before.

One decision, five lives, three futures.
This is what’s at stake.

One night, one choice, four broken Brayshaws.
That is where we’re headed.

Unless I stop it.
I 𝘩𝘢𝘷𝘦 to stop it.

I have to remind him of what he’s chosen to forget.

My town. My choice. 𝘔𝘺 ending.

Review –

Reign of Brayshaw picked up exactly where Trouble at Brayshaw left off. Thank god because that ending was freaking crazy as hell to try to get over.  Once I started this novel, I had zero power when it came to putting it down. I sat on the couch and lounged in my bed the entire day while I binged this bad boy. So let that be a lesson for you, if you have a long fulfilling day planned to the max of stuff you absolutely have to get done….. I highly recommend you hold off on reading this book until a day when you have nothing on the schedule. Because this book will consume your every thought and you’re going to want to know what happens next, and what happens after that. It’s a continuous ‘just one more chapter’ broken promise on an endless loop.

This book is full of twists and turns, you truly never know what waits around the corner. The shocking moments are just as brutal as the angst. My heart was in hyper overdrive thinking the best but expecting the worst possible outcomes.

My heart broke for Raven  repeatedly because all she wanted in life was to find acceptance and love. Given her past history though, letting people in wasn’t an easy task for her to accomplish. So it was great to watch her find that acceptance and love she’s been searching for her entire life.

Maddoc lies down when he needed to stand up but  I still loved him.  And, you can understand the helplessness he’s feeling and the extreme jealously anyone in his position would be dealing with.

The story wrapped up with a bang and I was left an emotional mess. I love stories like this that make me just FEEL SO MUCH!

This will go down as one of my favorite NA series. It’s sexy, angst filled drama that also had sweet, emotional, heartfelt moments. I absolutely recommend!

OMG…. I completely forgot why I rated Reign of Brayshaw a four instead of a full 5 stars rating. I dropped a star because some of the moments seemed a bit far fetched and really  unreal. I understand this is fiction, but I like a little realism mixed into the romances I read. I like to walk away thinking, damn that could really happen in someone’s life. But I unfortunately didn’t walk away with that notion. A bit of the content was extremely far fetched.

Love the cover, too!

Trouble at Brayshaw High (Brayshaw #2) by Meagan Brandy

Book Description:

Published: May 28, 2019

Format: Audio/Audible

Stars: 5

“You don’t belong.”

No words whispered in anger have ever rung more true.

They’re the Kings of Brayshaw with the world at their feet, destined for greatness and in need of control.
I’m the girl from the ghetto with nothing to offer and as defiant as they come.

They say it doesn’t matter, that I’m one of them now, and nothing could ever change that. Not even me, should I dare try.

But they’re wrong.
They underestimate how far I’ll go to protect them.

Trouble is coming…and they have no idea.
—–

Review –

Picking up right after the events of the first book, The Boys of Brayshaw High,  Raven has put her pride and happiness on the line to protect her Boys, and is at the mercy of the Gravens, who are making their move to take the Brayshaws down. The Boys know that there is something deeper happening, something that Raven is keeping a secret, and don’t want to believe that she betrayed them. Raven’s name has been run through the dirt, but her Boys know better than to believe gossip. They will get her back, no matter the cost.

Their ties will continue to be tested as the head of the Brayshaw name, the boys’ father, pulls major strings from behind bars. But if its up to him, he won’t be in jail much longer, and his Boys will be fighting a war that doesn’t have Raven on the winning end.

In this book the heartwarming relationships between the Boys and Raven grow even stronger, through trials that have them second-guessing everything they thought they knew. They may have to be strong in order to survive the betrayals headed their way, but they will have to stand together to overcome the revelations that threaten to shatter their kingdom.

I wasn’t sure what I was expecting after the first installment.  I knew that I was going to be pissed after that cliffhanger with the Gravens, and I was right. The first 15% of this book was so angsty, but I’m not going to lie: I had to shut down my listening device so I could decompress for a couple of hours. We really got to see Raven and the Boy’s relationship tested during this time, in a way we never seen before. We got to see how they truly feel when they are knocked down and hurt, when they think they were blindsided by one of their own. And they still wanted to love and trust each other, no matter what. 

I could probably gush about their relationships all day, and how I love the way they just mesh together so perfectly, despite their awful histories and inner darkness. But I have to move on, cause lets be real: the first 15% held NO FIGHT to how the rest of the book attacked them. I can’t rant too much, cause I’m awful for spoilers when I rant. But I’ll say this: rethink everything, trust no one, and fucking be ready to fight in book 3 because  by the end of this book our King and Queen are going to have to play one hell of a game to come out on top. But I know they can do it.

Other than the mind-blowing, secrets that were revealed, I loved this book for it’s honesty on the characters. We all know that no one in Brayshaw is perfect, and that the author  knows how to make diverse characters who are full of motive and angst and sass and grit. Part of why people love the books is because of the completely imperfect harsh reality our characters live in, much like our own, but they stand up and fight their problems head on with so much bad-assery. This world made our characters who they are, and this book dug even deeper into their pasts in ways I never imagined. There are so many triggers due to this, so much sadness and hate and anger, but we see our characters more vulnerable and even more deeply connected than in book 1 because of it.

There’s not much more I can say without going into a rant,  but for now, I’ll leave you with this. If you love dark romances, if you love high school contemporaries, if you need a love story with more than just happy endings, a book with so many levels of secrets and lies, where the characters are thrown into situations you wouldn’t wish on anybody, Brayshaw is for you. I honestly did not think I would enjoy it as much as I did, but I wish I could go back and be surprised by this series all over again. Of course I can’t, but you can. 

As much as I loved the first book, I loved this one ten times more, even though it almost gave me a heart attack!