Review: Beautiful Bedlam (Beautiful Bedlam #1) by Ali Harper

Beautifull BedlamTitle: Beautiful Bedlam
Author: Ali Harper
Series: Beautiful Bedlam #1
Rating: 4 stars
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Links:

Blurb:
Sixteen-year-old Sienna Rivers has it all, the looks, the smarts, oh and the dysfunctional family from hell, a distorted mind of epic proportions coupled with the return of a childhood sweetheart bad boy Logan Jackson with his smoldering dark eyes, tousled hair, leather jackets and cherry red Mustang, her life suddenly got a lot more complicated.

Before the start of her junior year of high school, Sienna’s greatest problems were studying for the SAT’s and trying to watch Game of Thrones alone in her room without her mother walking in unannounced thinking she was watching some form of adult entertainment.

Now that Logan is back in their small town of Haven Falls, she has to face heartbreak and falling in an all-consuming love for the first time whilst simultaneously dealing with her strange hallucinations, her parents’ crumbling marriage, family secrets crawling out from under the woodwork and her mother’s growing alcohol abuse problem, and of course deciding what dress to wear to her first ever high school dance.

Falling in love had never been so insane.

“He was stunning, striking, charismatic, extroverted, grand and greater than life, every guy wanted to be him and all the girls wanted to be with him. He was the spark, twinkle and gleam of the stars and she was merely the contrasting dark night sky behind that allowed him to shine.”

“She’s everything right in this world, she’s kind, and funny and so beautifully insanely weird and she just gets it. She gets me.”

My Review:
Beautiful Bedlam is in the main a romance story, with elements of suspense, family drama, betrayal, intrigue and a hint at some paranormal twists.

Sienna is like-able if a bit naive at times. Her family life is very dysfunctional, and her best friend betrays her in the worst possible way. Sienna has been pining for Logan Jackson since he upped and left very mysteriously a couple of years previously. As soon as he reappears, she gets sucked back into his life, and falls for him all over again.

Logan was definitely rocking the whole bad-boy vibe, but I’m a total sucker for these type of fictional boyfriends, so I loved him (sad to admit I know). Noah was just too sickly-sweet, no contest if you’re Sienna.

Ali Harper writes beautifully in the main, though I was a little confused in parts at some unclear scene and POV changes.

It’s a very quick, easy read and I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next for Logan and Sienna, especially now they’re properly together. I’m also keen to see how the author develops the paranormal theme throughout the rest of the series.

FAVORITE QUOTES:

“Sienna Rivers, ex-nerd, undisputed reigning chess champion of the class of ’09 and the proverbial all around wise-ass degenerate pain in your backside.”

“Be careful. He uses that line on all the girls.”

“All clichés aside, sometimes a girl needed to cry in the rain.”

“Meet Logan Jackson, smug, self-entitled, proud, arrogant, trust-fund brat.”

Actual Rating: 3.5 Stars

I engaged in a R4R swap in exchange for my honest review.

Review: Don’t Look Back by Jennifer L. Armentrout

dont look backTitle: Don’t Look Back
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Series: standalone
Rating: 4 stars
Genres: Mystery/ Suspense/ Romance
Links:

Blurb:
Samantha is a stranger in her own life. Until the night she disappeared with her best friend, Cassie, everyone said Sam had it all-popularity, wealth, and a dream boyfriend.

Sam has resurfaced, but she has no recollection of who she was or what happened to her that night. As she tries to piece together her life from before, she realizes it’s one she no longer wants any part of. The old Sam took “mean girl” to a whole new level, and it’s clear she and Cassie were more like best enemies. Sam is pretty sure that losing her memories is like winning the lottery. She’s getting a second chance at being a better daughter, sister, and friend, and she’s falling hard for Carson Ortiz, a boy who has always looked out for her-even if the old Sam treated him like trash.

But Cassie is still missing, and the facts about what happened to her that night isn’t just buried deep inside of Sam’s memory-someone else knows, someone who wants to make sure Sam stays quiet. All Sam wants is the truth, and if she can unlock her clouded memories of that fateful night, she can finally move on. But what if not remembering is the only thing keeping Sam alive?

My Review:
Sammy wakes up bloodied and battered with no recollection of where she is, or how she got there. This is further confounded when she can’t even remember her name, or who she is. Her family arrive at the hospital to reclaim her and that doesn’t jog her memory. Her brother Scott, his girlfriend Julie and Carson the sorta-boy-next-door all try and help her to piece back the memories of her life. She discovers that she wasn’t a very likable person and quickly realizes this is a ‘second chance’ that most don’t get.

Her best friend Cassie is still missing and her body is subsequently discovered prompting the police to begin a murder investigation, with Sammy prime suspect.

Her parents have a non-existent relationship and the family atmosphere is tense, heightened by Sammy’s obvious distaste towards long-term boyfriend Del and some serious crushing on Carson.She quickly discards the majority of her so-called friends, who are in the main nasty and bitchy.

Sammy’s mind is playing tricks on her as she suffers hallucinations/visions, surges of memory/recollections, eerie images of dead Cassie, and mysterious warning notes that are left in close proximity.

It’s no secret that I’m a massive fan of JLA’s writing and I adore the Lux, Covenent and Dark Elements series. This is the first contemporary novel I’ve read from JLA and while I thoroughly enjoyed it, it didn’t hook me as much as the other books did. The romance is quite muted compared to her other novels, and I missed that. Because boy can JLA write great romance scenes.

However, she has deftly developed the mystery/suspense theme within this novel and as a reader, you constantly wonder whether Sammy is being told the truth by those around her, and continuously ponder who is trustworthy. I did guess the culprit pretty early on – the clues are subtly embedded throughout the story – but I constantly questioned myself, and switched my mind a few times.

The writing was sublime, and the pacing bang-on, as usual. I don’t think the dialogue was as engaging as normal, lacking the humorous/satirical element that is regularly found in her fantasy books, however I felt the characters were a bit more unique and individual as a result.
I finished this book in less than 24 hours, and that says it all really.

Another epic read from writing power-house Jennifer L. Armentrout.

Review: Stone Cold Touch (The Dark Elements #2) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Stone Cold TouchTitle: Stone Cold Touch
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Series: The Dark Elements #2
Rating: 5 stars
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Links:

Blurb:
Every touch has its price

Layla Shaw is trying to pick up the pieces of her shattered life—no easy task for a seventeen-year-old who’s pretty sure things can’t get worse. Her impossibly gorgeous best friend, Zayne, is forever off-limits thanks to the mysterious powers of her soul-stealing kiss. The Warden clan that has always protected her is suddenly keeping dangerous secrets. And she can barely think about Roth, the wickedly hot demon prince who understood her in ways no one else could.

But sometimes rock bottom is only the beginning. Because suddenly Layla’s powers begin to evolve, and she’s offered a tantalizing taste of what has always been forbidden. Then, when she least expects it, Roth returns, bringing news that could change her world forever. She’s finally getting what she always wanted, but with hell literally breaking loose and the body count adding up, the price may be higher than Layla is willing to pay…

My Review:
I started reading Stone Cold Touch as soon as I turned the last page on White Hot Kiss. I was sold on Roth. Completely. Unflinchingly. He’s the man. But goddammit JLA had to go and mess all that up for me!I’m now referring to White Hot Kiss as Book Roth and Stone Cold Touch as Book Zayne.

You can’t help but fall in love with Zayne in this book, even though there are moments where you want to shake some sense into him. He loves Layla with such intensity that he overlooks the fact that she’s running off on little adventures with Roth left, right and center.

Layla’s mind and body are in a bit of a mess, as she feels torn between the two guys. I don’t blame her, it’s a real dilemma as both guys are incredibly hot, very protective of her and offer distinct possibilities. However, Zayne always errs on the side of caution while Roth is more your typical bad-boy (rocking some Seth/Daemon qualities in my opinion, not that there’s anything wrong with that!)

I felt there was a lot more focus on the romance in this book than usual, but there’s still plenty of action to propel the story along.

I hated Abbott in this book and really couldn’t understand how he could throw Layla under the bus so easily. She was supposed to be like a daughter to him, but he never treated her this way and was always quick to think the worst of her. Zayne in comparison was resolute in his defence of Layla, and his belief in her inherent goodness.

I hate snakes, they give me a serious case of the heebie-jeebies, but I love Bambi! Go Figure.

I worked out the identity of the Lilin pretty early on, the subtle clues were there, but that ending was still incredible.

I only read this after the whole voting on Roth vs. Zayne had ended so I couldn’t contribute to who Layla ends up with. I’m guessing it’s going to be Roth. It’s a tough call as both guys are great. However, ultimately I think she’s better suited to Roth as it’s easier to be with him. If she ends up with Zayne she’ll constantly have the whole no-kissing-or-I’ll-take-his-soul type dilemma. No one could live like that. It seems more natural for her to belong with Roth.

Another epic read from JLA, and I can’t wait for Every Last Breath.

Review: White Hot Kiss (The Dark Elements #1) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

White Hot KissTitle: White Hot Kiss
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Series: The Dark Elements #1
Rating: 5 stars
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Links:

Blurb:
One kiss could be the last.

Seventeen-year-old Layla just wants to be normal. But with a kiss that kills anything with a soul, she’s anything but normal. Half demon, half gargoyle, Layla has abilities no one else possesses.

Raised among the Wardens—a race of gargoyles tasked with hunting demons and keeping humanity safe—Layla tries to fit in, but that means hiding her own dark side from those she loves the most. Especially Zayne, the swoon-worthy, incredibly gorgeous and completely off-limits Warden she’s crushed on since forever.

Then she meets Roth—a tattooed, sinfully hot demon who claims to know all her secrets. Layla knows she should stay away, but she’s not sure she wants to—especially when that whole no-kissing thing isn’t an issue, considering Roth has no soul.

But when Layla discovers she’s the reason for the violent demon uprising, trusting Roth could not only ruin her chances with Zayne… it could brand her a traitor to her family. Worse yet, it could become a one-way ticket to the end of the world.

My Review:
Layla is half demon, half warden and very confused over her identity and her place in the world. Having grown up with the Wardens, her entire belief system comes into question the minute she meets Upper Level Demon Roth. Inexplicably drawn to him, her feelings towards him are initially conflicted, but as she gets to know him she can’t help but fall in love.

However, she also has ill-conceived feelings for her ‘adopted’ Warden brother Zayne, and is fending serious bouts of jealousy and envy at his apparent closeness to his proposed mate Danika.

Throw in a seriously bad-ass Mom who is chained in the fiery pits of hell, and an errant Dad who seems hell-bent on eliminating her, and you get a sense of the turmoil that is Layla’s life.

White Hot Kiss contains all the elements that make a JLA novel completely riveting. Superb prose, engaging characters, fiery romance, action packed scenes,compelling dialogue and roller-coaster twists and turns.

By the end of the book Roth had won me over completely,never more so than when he made a massive sacrifice in the name of love – all to protect Layla and those she loves.

A must-read for fans of Jennifer L. Armentrout.

Review: Unmasked by EM Kaplan

UnmaskedTitle: Unmasked
Author: EM Kaplan
Series: standalone
Rating: 4 stars
Genres: Fantasy/ Paranormal
Links:

Blurb:
Mel can sense the blood beating through her companions’ veins. She can count the moments between heartbeats to tell who is sincere and who is lying. She can make herself stronger for short periods of time, heal small wounds on her body, and manipulate light to change her appearance subtly. These abilities are useful skills for a Mask—a preternaturally sensitive, cloaked and imposing, impartial arbitrator, both revered and feared by everyone.

Mattieus Ottick, or just Ott to his friends, comes from the frozen north to hunt the strange ogre-like creatures, or trogs, that threaten the northern mines. Magical beasties? Nightmares come to life? The world as Ott knows it is about to change. Blessed by easy charm and good looks, Ott is used to the attention of females, but, gods above, he is knocked flat by the kiss of the ethereal woman he rescues. How could she possibly be a Mask?

——————————————-

Rated approximately PG-13 for fantasy violence and some smooching.

My Review:
Unmasked is the story of Mel, a young girl with special paranormal abilities, who is in training to be a Mask. The community of Masks are skilled mediators, called upon to negotiate disputes, and they are as revered as they are feared.Trained to be neutral, objective and emotionless, they lead a rather solitary life. Mel is sent to Cillary Keep to study human nature, and to see where she fits in society. A chance encounter with a hunter named Ott changes her destiny forever.
It took me a little while to get into the story, but once I got to Chapter 5 I was drawn into the world and quickly became engrossed.
This book is beautifully written and EM Kaplan has a magical way with words.
I’d highly recommend this book to fans of fantasy/paranormal romance.

Review: Sentinel (Covenant #5) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

SentinelTitle: Sentinel
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Series: Covenant #5
Rating: 5 stars
Genres: Paranormal Romance/ Mythology
Links:

Blurb:
It’s a beautiful day for a war.

As the mortal world slowly slips into chaos of the godly kind, Alexandria Andros must overcome a stunning defeat that has left her shaken and in doubt of their ability to end this war once and for all.

And with all the obstacles between Alex and her happily-ever-after with the swoonworthy Aiden St. Delphi, they must now trust a deadly foe as they travel deep into the Underworld to release one of the most dangerous gods of all time.

In the stunning, action-packed climax to the bestselling Covenant series, Alex must face a terrible choice: the destruction of everything and everyone she holds dear… or the end of herself.

My Review:
I was so hoping that the last book in the Covenent Series would deliver, and I wasn’t disappointed. Another roller-coaster of a read. Alex has really come into her own in Sentinel and she maturely handles the cards she has been dealt. Her selfish tendencies have diminished and her concern for Aiden, Seth, Marcus and her friends tends to override personal concerns for her own welfare.
I’m so glad that Seth redeemed himself in this book, as I’ve always felt he was decent underneath it all. I understand that he needed to do what he did, to try and atone for his sins, but I’m sad at the prospect of the life he has chosen. I’d love another Novella to prove that he made the right choice (pretty please Jennifer.
Aiden – oh my gods, what can I say? He’s awesome, the most amazing boyfriend ever and I love him to bits. Swoon. Not without his flaws mind you, but his unwavering loyalty and love of Alex is mind-blowing. Their romance/sex scenes are incredible, though I felt there were a few too many, and it could have been toned down a little.
I’m not ashamed to admit that I blubbed like a baby towards the end, and I actually skipped a few pages to make sure I got the ending that I NEEDED. Thank the gods, Jennifer delivered, the ending is perfect.
I feel quite grief-stricken at this point, because there is no more. I’m not ready to say goodbye to Alex, Aiden and Seth and I really hope Jennifer. L. Armentrout gives us another Novella.
This is a truly amazing series, and I’ve read some incredible ones recently, but this is up there at the very top of my list. A must-read.

Blog Tour: Just a Kiss by Kate Kisset

JustaKiss bt banner
Today is my stop during the blog tour for Just a Kiss. I’ll share my review with you and there’s a tour wide givaway.

JustaKisseBook-1Title:Just a Kiss
Author: Kate Kisset
Series: A Wine Country Romance Series #1
Rating: 3 stars
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Links:

Blurb:
One Wine Country Villa
Six Santino Brothers
And lots of wine…

Reeling from the loss of her mother, Sarah Dupont catches her fiancé doing the nasty on top of her pastry table at their San Francisco Bakery.

Devastated, she calls her best friend, lifestyle reporter, Danica Vargas. Danica convinces Sarah to start fresh, and rent a room with her at an historic mansion in Sonoma Valley.

With two roommates who act like the sisters she never had and a feisty landlord to stand in as the grandmother she always wanted, Sarah’s opens a café on the Sonoma Plaza. Her life changes the moment the little bell on the door rings and the notoriously sexy actor Jamie Santino, swaggers in.

Jamie, one of the six Santino Brothers, of Napa Valley Winery fame, needs baking lessons for his new movie and Sarah is just the woman to teach him.
Wine flows, their love affair heats up and a tempestuous femme fatale enters the scene.

How can Sarah trust that Jamie isn’t acting when everything he says seems too good to be true?

My Review:
Sarah’s whole life has been falling apart at the seams thanks to a heartless ex-fiance who betrayed her in every way possible. Broke and alone, she moves to be with her friend Danica and sets about rebuilding her life.

Jamie Santino’s film career has been in the doldrums thanks to a disastrous ex who manipulated his feelings to further her own career. He now has the chance to turn things around, but he needs Sarah’s help. Sarah reluctantly agrees to allow him conduct some ‘research’ in her cafe and thus our story begins.

While I liked this book, I didn’t love it.

The writing is decent and the style consistent with other books of this genre. Certainly, Kate Kisset shows enormous promise as a writer. The pacing is good and the story flows without any need to skim. There is a decent amount of descriptive text without it being overbearing. I loved the addition of the girls wine club, the Santino winery, and all the wine-related references (not that I’m a lush or anything, you understand.)

However, this book is too short, and both plot and character development suffered as a result. It was hard to feel an emotional attachment to either Sarah or Jamie, and I didn’t feel a connection to them as a couple. At times, the dialogue was really witty, and at other times it was stiff, unnatural, or downright cringy.

This book has the potential to be better with stronger developmental editing. I’ve recently read a couple of other books with the same issues and it’s quite frustrating, especially when the author clearly has talent.

If you are looking for a light, quick, summer read then you’ll most likely enjoy this book.

Thanks to Inkslinger PR and the author for providing me with a review copy of this book in exhange for my honest review.

Excerpt:
Help me get a grip, I’m melting into her eyes… He took a beat to compose himself.
“What would you like me to do Sarah?” he asked.
She moved closer and parted her lips.
I’m going, going…
“I think I’d like you to kiss me now.”
Gone…
On tiptoe and cradling the back of his head, she guided him to her.
No one could surprise him in the love department except Sarah Dupont. He skimmed his hands over the outline of her soft curves and pulled her in tighter. She tasted like cabernet and cake, and he closed his eyes so he could savor her lips.
A low moan escaped her, and hit him in the gut. He didn’t know where to start with his hands and moved them over the sexy arch of her back and pressed her closer to him.
“The tree,” he said quickly, not wanting to be away from her mouth. “Does the tree hurt your back?”
“Don’t stop kissing me,” she said. The need in Sarah’s voice surprised him, making him strain against his jeans. He fought to slow down, to wait, to catch a breath before he lost it.
He swept his lips across her cheek. “Sarah.” When he reached her earlobe, he nipped. She felt luscious and pliable in his arms. He almost couldn’t handle listening to her quick breaths and the feeling of her heart pumping so fast against him.
“Sarah.” He nuzzled behind her ear, kissing and sucking her neck. “Don’t make me stop.”
She groaned between breaths.
He felt drunk, but he’d had only had a few glasses of wine. Touching, kissing and listening to her whimpers made him feel like he could tip over any minute and bury himself into her.

HeadshotKateKissetLGFile.About the Author:
Former San Francisco Radio Disc Jockey Kate Kisset has a passion for telling great stories. After playing thousands of Hot AC, Country, Rock and Oldies tunes, for her primarily female fan base, she changed her tune and became an author.

Just a Kiss is the first book in her wine country romance series, The Single Girls Wine Club.

She lives in Northern California and Santa Barbara with her family and rescue pup “editor” Luciana Parmigiana, where she hikes, reads, listens to music, and drinks wine.

Links:

There is a tour wide giveaway, which you can enter below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Review: Apollyon (Covenant #4) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

ApollyonTitle: Apollyon
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Series: Covenant #4
Rating: 5 stars
Genres: Paranormal Romance/ Mythology
Links:

Blurb:
Fate isn’t something to mess with… and now, neither is Alex.

Alex has always feared two things: losing herself in the Awakening and being placed on the Elixir. But love has always been stronger than Fate, and Aiden St. Delphi is willing to make war on the gods—and Alex herself—to bring her back.

The gods have killed thousands and could destroy entire cities in their quest to stop Seth from taking Alex’s power and becoming the all-powerful God Killer. But breaking Alex’s connection to Seth isn’t the only problem. There are a few pesky little loopholes in the whole “an Apollyon can’t be killed” theory, and the only person who might know how to stop the destruction has been dead for centuries.

Finding their way past the barriers that guard the Underworld, searching for one soul among countless millions, and then somehow returning will be hard enough. Alex might be able to keep Seth from becoming the God Killer… or she might become the God Killer herself.

My Review:
Another fast-paced, addictive, page turner from Jennifer L. Armentrout. Seriously, these books are so hard to put down and I’m feeling a little annoyed that I’ve read them so fast, because now I only have Sentinel left and I’m already missing this series.
Apollyon is epic and the plot twists and turns just keep on coming. I really loved how Alex and Aiden’s relationship blossomed in this book and they are a real partnership now. I just couldn’t get enough of those romance scenes, swoon-worthy in the extreme. I suspect I know what’s around the corner for them, and I’m excited to see how the next chapter enfolds.
I missed Seth dreadfully in this book, yes – he’s there, at the end of the cord, but it’s not the same. Poor Seth, he’s just so lost and all he wants is to be truly loved. I really hope Alex can get through to him because I’d hate it if she actually did have to kill him.
I suspected Romvi from the start, and in Deity, I pretty much figured it out. All the same, he turned into an even nastier piece of work than I’d expected.
Alex has matured in this book and it was a natural progression for her, though I loved her when she was being consistently snarky and irrational.
I think my favorite scene of the novel was when Alex and Aiden were in the Underworld. To combine romance, action, and suspense so expertly is the sign of a really talented author.
This is an incredible series; awesome writing, engaging characters, action packed plot and compelling dialogue. A must read for all fans of YA fiction.

Review: Elixir (Covenant #3.5) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

ElixirTitle: Elixir
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Series: Covenant #3.5
Rating: 5 stars
Genres: Paranormal Romance/ Mythology
Links:

Blurb:
Aiden St. Delphi will do anything to save Alex.
Even if it means doing the one thing he will never forgive himself for.
Even if it means making war against the gods.

My Review:
Loved reading from Aiden’s point of view and his devotion to Alex is beyond doubt. It’s certainly getting creepy with Seth and I’m so afraid for Alex, I hope she is strong enough to overcome and break the connection. Difficult to read of her change under the elixir. Strong writing, another great read from Jennifer L. Armentrout.

Review: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

the coldest girl in coldtownTitle: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown
Author: Holly Black
Series: standalone
Rating: 3.5 stars
Genres: Paranormal
Links:

Blurb:
Tana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. In them, quarantined monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. The only problem is, once you pass through Coldtown’s gates, you can never leave.

One morning, after a perfectly ordinary party, Tana wakes up surrounded by corpses. The only other survivors of this massacre are her exasperatingly endearing ex-boyfriend, infected and on the edge, and a mysterious boy burdened with a terrible secret. Shaken and determined, Tana enters a race against the clock to save the three of them the only way she knows how: by going straight to the wicked, opulent heart of Coldtown itself.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is a wholly original story of rage and revenge, of guilt and horror, and of love and loathing from bestselling and acclaimed author Holly Black.

My Review:
3.5 Stars. The writing is excellent and Holly Black is obviously very talented but I had issues with the plot, it felt a bit non-existent the first half of the book and only just made up for it in the second half. The pacing was very slow at the start and with every page I turned I was hoping it would pick up – it did eventually. I liked the characters, they were very easy to love/hate. I actually liked Aidan; yes, he’s a total ass but a harmless one really, and I thought he had a certain charm. The biggest disappointment for me was the Tana and Gavriel romance, I really would have liked more. However,that scene towards the end – wow, very dark and decadent indeed. More of that would have heightened my enjoyment of this book. I would still recommend it, it’s a good read, it just didn’t live up to my expectation – I expected more from an author of this caliber.