Thursday, 19 January 2017

Review: Defending Taylor by Miranda Kenneally

Defending Taylor by Miranda Kenneally
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Publication Date: July 5th 2016
My rating: 4 stars. 

There are no mistakes in love. Captain of the soccer team, president of the Debate Club, contender for valedictorian: Taylor's always pushed herself to be perfect. After all, that's what is expected of a senator's daughter. But one impulsive decision-one lie to cover for her boyfriend-and Taylor's kicked out of private school. Everything she's worked so hard for is gone, and now she's starting over at Hundred Oaks High. Soccer has always been Taylor's escape from the pressures of school and family, but it's hard to fit in and play on a team that used to be her rival. The only person who seems to understand all that she's going through is her older brother's best friend, Ezra. Taylor's had a crush on him for as long as she can remember. But it's hard to trust after having been betrayed. Will Taylor repeat her past mistakes or can she score a fresh start?

Defending Taylor was such a brilliant read; it was full with funny, quirky characters, but all of who had to deal with tough everyday issues that you could relate to. This is one of the reasons I adore Kenneally’s books so much she’s able to make you enjoy the heck out of a book, but also deal with several underlying themes very well. Our MC Taylor finds herself in the toughest of situations; she gets kicked out of one of the most prestigious schools for covering up for someone she cared about. Not only does she have to enrol at the local school, she has to start all over again, she knows nobody here, she has to see a councillor on a daily basis for what she did and with her deadline for early acceptance at Yale looming around the corner Taylor really needs to sort everything out. On top of that her brothers best friend is back in town, (did I mention that Taylor had the biggest crush on him, until Ezra let her down a few years back in the biggest way). But now it was Taylor’s time to get back on track and put everything right, may even with Ezra. 

Taylor was a MC I could easily relate to, she’d put a lot of pressure on herself to succeed and meet her parents expectations and she had been let down in the biggest way because she put her trust in somebody. I just really wanted Taylor to succeed but also have fun at the same time; there were huge changes and obstacles in front of Taylor, especially a soccer team that wouldn’t give her the time of day. But I admired Taylor’s strength, determination and most of all her loyalty. She refused to turn in who she was covering up even though they totally deserved it and she didn’t quit on the soccer team even though she wanted to. I’m glad that through her struggles she had a friend in Ezra. Ezra was a tough guy to resist despite Taylor doing her hardest to do so, he was sweet, could always bring a smile to Taylor’s face (but in most cases weak in the knees) but he was also going through a similar situation with his own parents. So I’m glad that Ezra was someone that Taylor could lean on, the development of Ezra and Taylor’s relationship despite some struggles was magical and beautiful. 

Once again Kenneally also made the importance of family a central part of Defending Taylor. Taylor’s family had a lot to deal with, but at the end of the day they were always there for each other despite the mistakes they made along the way. I don’t know why it took so long for me to pick up Defending Taylor, but I think this was the perfect time for me to do so, the swoony romance and fantastic characters makes me want to dive into more contemporary YA reads straight away!

Monday, 9 January 2017

Review: Worth the Wait by Claudia Connor

Worth the Wait (McKinney/Walker #1) by Lisa Gardner
Publication date: January 10th 2017
My rating: 4.5 stars 
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo
He broke her heart. When he finds out just how badly, it will break his too.

Nick Walker found the love of his life when he was just nineteen.

Found her.
Loved her.
Lost her.

It's been ten years since Nick watched the only woman he ever loved walk out of his life. Now this FBI Special Agent will do anything to win her back.

But it won’t be easy…

Mia’s heart was shattered by Nick. They'll have to face their painful past if they want a future, including Mia's own secret about that day it all fell apart.

Do you believe in second chances?

My Thoughts:
Nick and Mia met and fell in love in college right after Nick’s parents died and he became guardian over his younger brothers and two-year old sister, Hannah.  Both Nick and Mia knew their love was the forever kind, and I loved going back and watching them fall for each other; loved seeing Mia become an integral part of Hannah’s life.  But tragedy strikes, and the aftermath shatters them.  Guilt, anger and blame deals the final blow to their relationship and Mia leaves, no longer able to bear Nick shutting her out. 

They haven’t spoken in the ten years since Mia left, but neither has really moved on, so when they run into each other it brings all the hurt and pain back, but also the undeniable, intense love they had.  Like Mia, I wondered whether Nick could ever let the past go to have a future with Mia. And I wondered if Mia would ever be able to forgive Nick for pushing her away. 

Even though I felt for Nick and everything he went through, my heart went out to Mia more.  I hurt so much for her! With their breakup Mia not only lost the love of her life, she lost Hannah who was basically like their daughter, and Nick’s little brothers, too.  But Nick felt so guilty, angry, and helpless over what happened he had no room in his heart for anything else.  He didn’t feel like he deserved any happiness because of what happened on his watch, and so he let Mia go. I was glad that this time Nick wasn’t going to make the same mistake.

Back when I read Hannah’s story in Worth the Risk, I begged for a Nick and Mia story, because it seemed like it would be an amazing second chance romance, and it was!  I’m so happy Ms. Connor granted my wish!  Worth the Wait was a very emotional read, I cried several times while reading.  I was so invested in Nick and Mia’s story I couldn’t put it down and ended up reading it in one sitting. It was heart-wrenching at times to see what Nick and Mia went through, but that just made their journey back to happiness all the more satisfying. My heart soared and I cried happy tears in the end! 

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Friday, 6 January 2017

Review: The Third Victim by Lisa Gardner

The Third Victim (Quincy & Rainie #2) by Lisa Gardner
Publisher: Bantam
Publication date: January 30th 2001
My rating: 4 stars 
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository

The past isn't over....

An unspeakable act has ripped apart the idyllic town of Bakersville, Oregon, and its once-peaceful residents are demanding quick justice. But though a boy has confessed to the horrific crime, evidence shows he may not be guilty.

Officer Rainie Conner, leading her first homicide investigation, stands at the center of the controversy. It's hitting too close to home, bringing back her worst nightmares, threatening to expose her secret sins. But with the boy's life at stake, she won't let anything stop her from finding the real killer.

With the help of FBI profiler Pierce Quincy, Rainie comes closer to a deadly truth than she can imagine. Because out there in the shadows a man watches her and plots his next move. He knows her secrets. He kills for sport. He's already brought death to Bakersville and forever shattered the community. But what he has really come for is Rainie -- and he won't leave until he has destroyed her....

My Thoughts:
I think this is my 5th re-read. I've been a fan of Lisa Gardner for years and this book is the first book Quincy and Rainie appear together. Rainie is a small-town cop, and Quincy is an FBI Profiler drawn to her town when a school shooting happens.

The little town of Bakersville, Oregon is a town where everyone knows everyone and neighbors look out for one another. Not a place where you'd expect a school shooting. But three are dead, and it appears a thirteen-year old Bakersville boy did the deed. Quincy and Rainie discover the shooting isn't as cut and dry as it first appears and the key seems to be with the third victim, the pretty computer science teacher, Miss Avalon.

Rainie is a complex character, a Bakerville native with a colorful past the locals have gossiped and theorized about for years. What really happened fourteen years ago? As Quincy finds himself drawn to Rainie more and more, he pushes for answers. But Quincy has his own personal troubles.

The main murder mystery is solved, but a few things are left in up in the air with Rainie and Quincy. Their story continues in The Next Accident.

As far as the audio version goes, C.J. Critt sounded too old for the voice of Rainie and her performance of Quincy did not give the impression of a smart, sophisticated FBI Profiler. Her performance didn't turn me off of the story, probably because I've read it so many times before, but I wouldn't recommend it.

I do completely recommend the Quincy & Rainie series! Love the mysteries and their developing relationship! If you haven't read a Lisa Gardner book before The Third Victim is a perfect place to start.  

Connect with Lisa Gardner:

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Thursday, 5 January 2017

Reviews: Sweet Filthy Boy and Sweet Filthy Morning After by Christina Lauren

Sweet Filthy Boy (Wild Seasons #1) by Christina Lauren
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Publication Date: May 13th 2014. 
My rating: 4.5 stars. 

One-night stands are supposed to be with someone convenient, or wickedly persuasive, or regrettable. They aren’t supposed to be with someone like him. But after a crazy Vegas weekend celebrating her college graduation—and terrified of the future path she knows is a cop-out—Mia Holland makes the wildest decision of her life: follow Ansel Guillaume—her sweet, filthy fling—to France for the summer and just…play. When feelings begin to develop behind the provocative roles they take on, and their temporary masquerade adventures begin to feel real, Mia will have to decide if she belongs in the life she left because it was all wrong, or in the strange new one that seems worlds away.

I’d tried Lauren’s Beautiful Bastard series just a few weeks before and I hadn’t been as successful with it as I was hoping to (I actually made it to book 2.5, before calling it quits, maybe I’ll come back to it one day). Alas I decided to give Lauren’s Wild Seasons series a go, and seriously the audiobook was probably one of the best decisions I’d made, as the narrator Shayna Thibodeaux had me hooked from the very beginning. She did Ansel’s French accent perfectly, that I was swooning throughout. Typically I’m really fussy with a woman doing the voice for a guy, but Shayna nailed it! 

Also the situation that Ansel and Mia found themselves in was really awkward; they’d only met a few hours before and had woken up the next day married and could only remember bits of the best sex they’d had the night before. But Lauren really made their relationship work for me and make it appear so realistic. I could understand the connection that they had and why they didn’t want to get their marriage annulled. I’m glad that despite not knowing one another, they decided to take a chance with their relationship. 

Having visited Paris just last year I adored the days that we were given with Mia exploring her new life out there, it made the traveller in me want to go back and visit as soon as possible. This alongside Mia and Ansel slowly learning to adjust to one another in their lives made Sweet Filthy Boy an addictive read. I was eager for more Mia and Ansel time, their chemistry was off the charts, but I was also scared for what could be around the corner for them. I could see that they were perfect for each other, but how could they make it work? So you could say that little bombshell at the end was a complete shocker to me, it sort of left me reeling. 

All in all Sweet Filthy Boy was a truly wonderful read, I honestly can’t wait for more from these two in the rest of the series, as by the end of this book, I was totally in love with Ansel! Readers you do not want to miss out on this gem of a book!

Sweet Filthy Morning After (Wild Seasons #1.5) by Christina Lauren
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Publication Date: October 14th 2014. 
My rating: 5 stars.  

This audio exclusive short tells of events from Sweet Filthy Boy from a new perspective.

This 30 minute audiobook really wasn’t enough, after finishing Sweet Filthy Boy I knew I would devour anything Ansel-related, so this book from his perspective was perfect! I already knew that Ansel was a person that wore his heart on his sleeve and this short book went onto show that even more. I loved getting into his head and learning his exact feelings about Mia and the situation they found themselves in. His fascination and concern for her was always apparent, but actually getting it from his own perspective made me love Ansel that much more. Also Jason Carpenter’s French accent was on point! This 30 minute audiobook made me want to buy all the books that he narrated immediately! And just to move to France so I could be around this sexy accent all the time. Sweet Filthy Morning After is a super short book, but definitely worth it. Fans of Ansel, I highly recommend giving this book a go.

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Review: The 4th Man by Lisa Gardner

The 4th Man (Quincy & Rainie #6.5) by Lisa Gardner
Publisher: Dutton
Publication date: January 3rd 2017
My rating: 3.5 stars 
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo
 FBI Profiler Pierce Quincy and Officer Rainie Conner return in a baffling cold case in this exclusive eBook short story by New York Times bestselling author Lisa Gardner.

A young woman is found strangled in the stairwell of a college library, only her sneakers missing. With no physical evidence, no signs of sexual assault, and no witnesses, all the police have to go on are the three men who were in the library with her: her boyfriend and two campus security guards . . . all of whom have secrets, none of whom can be proven guilty.

Five years later, ex-FBI profiler Pierce Quincy and his wife, former police officer Rainie Conner, agree to consult on the still-unsolved case, delving into deep background to comb for any clue that will lead to the woman's murderer. But with no leads and the case colder than the body, will they be able to build a case against one of the three suspects, or is there a fourth man out there? And if the killer has eluded the police this long, how far will he go to ensure justice is never served?

With Gardner's singular ability to delve into the minds of criminals and law enforcement alike, The 4th Man is a shocking look at the reasons for taking a life . . . and just how far profilers need to go to learn them.

It also includes an early look at Gardner's next chilling thriller, Right Behind You, coming February 7, 2017.

My Thoughts:
The 4th Man was based on a true story/murder, which definitely underscores the idea that “truth is stranger than fiction”.  The reasons a person will murder are quite baffling sometimes! 

Detective D.D. Warren has been working on cold case murders and this one committed ten years earlier stumped the investigators.  A college student was strangled, and her body left in the stairwell of the campus library.  No physical evidence was left on the scene and there were no eyewitnesses to the crime.  But D.D. is a persistent woman, and she’s uncovered a lie told by each of the three persons of interest involved.  She doesn’t want to miss any opportunity to catch the killer so she calls in profiler experts Quincy and Rainie to question these three men.  What follows is an interesting discovery of what actually happened that night. 

I’m a huge fan of Lisa Gardner’s mysteries, I’ve been reading her stories for years, but the first book I read of hers was a Quincy and Rainie book: The Third Victim, the first book they were put together, and I was hooked!  Ms. Gardner has been writing mysteries featuring other detectives/FBI agents since then so it’s be quite a while since I’ve “seen” Quincy and Rainie.  I’ve always wanted to catch up with them again, and with this short story I got a little to whet my appetite before their full-length return in, Right Behind You.  As usual their clever deductions impress!

Even though The 4th Man is part of a larger series, it isn’t necessary to read the other books in the series to enjoy.  This is mainly a crime procedural/mystery without much personal from Quincy, Rainie or D.D. Warren. And its very short; probably took me an hour to read the whole story.

There’s a teaser at the end for Right Behind You, and after reading I can’t wait to pick it up!  As a side note, I noticed Luke Daniels is the narrator for the audio version of The 4th Man.  He’s one of my all-time favorite narrators so I’m sure that would be an excellent way to “read” this story!

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