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.

 

 

A Twist of the Knife (Brigid Quinn #3) by Becky Masterman

Book Description:

Published: March 21, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Ex-FBI agent Brigid Quinn, “the most original female character to anchor a crime series in years,” (The New York Times) is back—on a case staking family, friendship, and a man on death row.

Ex-FBI agent Brigid Quinn, now happily settled in Tucson, doesn’t go back to visit her family in Florida much. But her former partner Laura Coleman, whose life she has saved and who saved her life, is living there now. When Laura calls about a case that is not going well, Brigid doesn’t hesitate to get on a plane.

On leave from the Bureau, Laura has been volunteering for a legal group that is trying to prove the innocence of a man who is on death row for killing his family. Laura is firmly convinced that he didn’t do it, while Brigid isn’t so sure—but the date for his execution is coming up so quickly that she shares Laura’s fear that any evidence absolving him from the crime may come too late.

Edgar Award and CWA Gold Dagger finalist Becky Masterman’s third Brigid Quinn novel is the masterful follow-up to Fear the Darkness and Rage Against the Dying.

Review –

“Even though her father is hovering near death, Brigid Quinn, put out to pasture in Tucson, can’t help responding to another request from her old FBI friend Laura Coleman (Rage Against the Dying, 2013) to help with a cold case that turns red-hot.

Near-bankrupt wine importer Marcus Creighton, whose only hope for repaying his debt to loan shark Manuel Gutierrez seems to have been his wife Kathleen’s insurance policy, was convicted back in 1999 of killing her. Only the missing remains of his three children prevented Florida State’s Attorney David Lancer of throwing even more charges at him. But Laura’s new boss, William Hench, an attorney specializing in appealing old convictions, is convinced that he’s innocent despite the damning testimony of Shayna Murry, the mistress who refused to give him an alibi, and his fingerprint on the plug of the hair dryer tossed into Kathleen’s bathtub to electrocute her. Though Brigid appreciates the convenience of spending time in Vero Beach as her father, stricken with pneumonia, fights for life in a nearby hospital, it’s clear that the members of Creighton’s ill-assorted defense team have their work cut out for them when a judge refuses to stay his impending execution. Some tiny cracks in the case are their only hope—the absence of any phone records that would show Creighton asking Shayna for the alibi she maintains he wanted and the hope that fingerprint expert Dr. Tracy Mack, recently indicted for the fraudulent handling of evidence, got his start much earlier—along with the superhuman determination of abused-child specialist Alison Samuels to find some trace of the Creighton children, who she’s convinced are still alive. Will that be enough to vindicate their father before his date with lethal injection?

Against all odds, the harrowing back story and repeated doses of present-tense violence make the investigation not so much shocking as deeply, heart-wrenchingly sad. It’ll be a long time before intrepid readers who enter Masterman’s latest labyrinth shake off its suffocating spell.” Kirkus Reviews

I love this series and can’t wait for the next one which comes out in June.

Five stars!!!!!!

The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware

Book Description:

Published: May 29, 2018

Format: Audio/Audible

On a day that begins like any other, Hal receives a mysterious letter bequeathing her a substantial inheritance. She realizes very quickly that the letter was sent to the wrong person—but also that the cold-reading skills she’s honed as a tarot card reader might help her claim the money.

Soon, Hal finds herself at the funeral of the deceased…where it dawns on her that there is something very, very wrong about this strange situation and the inheritance at the centre of it.

Review –

In the author’s fourth novel in as many years, Harriet “Hal” Westaway is barely making ends meet as a tarot reader on the Brighton Pier.

Her mother died in a hit-and-run several years before, and in her grief, Hal has drifted into a solitary and poverty-stricken life. Worse still, she’s under threat from a loan shark who’s come to collect the interest on an earlier debt. So when she receives a letter saying she’s been named in the will of, possibly, an unknown grandmother, she decides to travel to Cornwall, despite fearing that it’s probably all a mistake.

There she meets several possible uncles and a creepy old housekeeper right out of a Daphne du Maurier novel, all against the backdrop of a run-down mansion. As Hal desperately tries to keep up her charade of belonging to the family, she realizes that the malevolent atmosphere of Trepassen House has strong roots in the past, when a young girl came to live there, fell in love, and was imprisoned in her bedroom. Hal just has to figure out exactly who this girl was…without getting herself killed.

The author continues to refine her gift for the slow unspooling of unease and mystery, developing a consistent sense of threat that’s pervasive and gripping. She uses tarot readings to hint at the supernatural, but at its heart, this is a very human mystery. The isolation of Trepassen House, its parliament of magpies, and its severely creepy housekeeper cultivate a dull sense of horror. Ware’s novels continue to evoke comparison to Agatha Christie; they certainly have that classic flavor despite the contemporary settings.

I rated this book 4 1/2 stars because it was slow to get started but the second half was on fire and I highly recommend it for any mystery/horror enthusiast.

 

Without Merit by Colleen Hoover

Book Description:

Published: October 3, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Not every mistake deserves a consequence. Sometimes the only thing it deserves is forgiveness.

The Voss family is anything but normal. They live in a repurposed church, newly baptized Dollar Voss. The once cancer-stricken mother lives in the basement, the father is married to the mother’s former nurse, the little half-brother isn’t allowed to do or eat anything fun, and the eldest siblings are irritatingly perfect. Then, there’s Merit.

Merit Voss collects trophies she hasn’t earned and secrets her family forces her to keep. While browsing the local antiques shop for her next trophy, she finds Sagan. His wit and unapologetic idealism disarm and spark renewed life into her—until she discovers that he’s completely unavailable. Merit retreats deeper into herself, watching her family from the sidelines when she learns a secret that no trophy in the world can fix.

Fed up with the lies, Merit decides to shatter the happy family illusion that she’s never been a part of before leaving them behind for good. When her escape plan fails, Merit is forced to deal with the staggering consequences of telling the truth and losing the one boy she loves.

Review –

I just finished listening to Without Merit by Colleen Hoover and had tears of joy in my eyes. I had also laughed out loud  at parts of the book and normally I abhor comedy or humor of any kind in books, movies, etc., but every member of the Voss family (the main focus of the book) are so dysfunctional that the humor somehow fit.

Merit Voss lives in a converted church with her father, stepmother, and siblings, and although her parents have been divorced for years, her mother still lives in the basement, struggling with social anxiety.(We initially think she is recovering from cancer) No one in her family is religious, so her brother Utah updates the church marquee every day with fun facts instead of Bible verses. Merit is less accomplished than her identical twin sister, Honor, so she likes to buy used trophies to celebrate her failures. But Honor seems to have a fetish for terminally ill boys, so it’s a surprise to Merit when Sagan, who is perfectly healthy, kisses Merit after mistaking her for her sister—and then reveals that he’s living in their house.

Soon they have another houseguest, Luck, whose connection to the family makes Merit even more convinced she’s living in a madhouse.(He is the half-brother of her step-mother) So why is everyone so angry at her? Merit has a love/hate relationship with her sister. She’s conflicted by her feelings for Sagan, who leaves intriguing sketches  around the house for her to decipher. She’s simultaneously intrigued and repulsed by Luck, who annoys her with his questions but is also her confidant. She can’t sit through dinner without starting a fight; she’s been skipping school for days; and when she decides to give her whole family the silent treatment, Sagan is the only one who notices. In fact, he and Luck are the only people in the house who recognize Merit’s quirks for what they really are—cries for help.(They believe she is suffering from depression) And when Merit takes drastic measures to be heard, the fallout is both worse and much better than she feared. The author  does an excellent job of revealing the subtle differences between healthy teenage rebellion and clinical depression, and Merit’s aha moment is worthy of every trophy in her collection.

Merit is quirky, complex, and frustrating but  will win hearts and challenge assumptions about family dysfunction and mental illness in a life-affirming story that redefines what’s normal.

Five stars!

Side Note – Sagan is swoon worthy and has been added to my list of Book Boyfriends.

 

Blood Red Road (Dust Lands #1) by Moira Young

9917938

Book Description

Publication Date:June 7, 2011
The book that will “blow you away”** has a dazzling new look in paperback!
Saba has spent her whole life in Silverlake, a dried-up wasteland ravaged by constant sandstorms. The Wrecker civilization has long been destroyed, leaving only landfills for Saba and her family to scavenge from. That’s fine by her, as long as her beloved twin brother Lugh is around. But when four cloaked horsemen capture Lugh, Saba’s world is shattered, and she embarks on a quest to get him back. Suddenly thrown into the lawless, ugly reality of the outside world, Saba discovers she is a fierce fighter, an unbeatable survivor, and a cunning opponent. Teamed up with a handsome daredevil named Jack and a gang of girl revolutionaries called the Free Hawks, Saba’s unrelenting search for Lugh stages a showdown that will change the course of her own civilization.
Blood Red Road has a searing pace, a poetic writing style, and an epic love story—making Moira Young is one of the most exciting new voices in teen fiction.
Review –
I started reading this book on my Ipad but somehow deleted it when I was only 28% into the story.  What to do?  I checked online with the local public library and miracles of miracles they had it so I drove down and picked it up and had it finished the next day.  It’s a fast read if you don’t let the writing style get in your way.  This is yet another dystopian young adult book but it was compelling and hard to put down.  Again, I have found another series to follow.  Hope I can keep track.