Blog Tour: Tough Love by Lori Foster

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I am so happy to be part of the blog tour for Tough Love By Lori Foster. I’ll share my review with you today and an excerpt from the book. There’s also a tour wide giveaway.

Book 2_Tough Love by Lori Foster_coverTitle: Tough Love
Author: Lori Foster
Series: Ultimate #3
Rating: 4 stars
Genres: Contemporary Romance/ Sports Romance
Links:

Blurb:
She’s playing hard to get… to win the MMA fighter of her ultimate fantasies in a sultry new novel from New York Times bestselling author Lori Foster…

Vanity Baker loves a good, clean match, but she’s not above playing a little dirty. She’s wanted Stack “The Wolf” Hannigan from day one. Seems as though the best way to corral the famously commitment-phobic fighter is to insist on keeping it casual. And her plan works—deliciously well—until Stack’s past steps out of the shadows.

Stack learned early to stay free of attachments. But with sexy, forthright Vanity, he’s the one always left wanting more. Then his troublemaking family comes back into the picture, threatening everything Stack cares about—Vanity included. Suddenly he realizes they’re much more than friends with benefits. He’s ready to go to the mat for her…but will it be in time to protect the woman who’s tamed him for good?

My Review:
This was a great read and I adored the world-building and thoroughly entertaining characters.

Vanity has it bad for Stack, but he’s notoriously commitment-phobic, so she comes up with a grand plan to seduce him and hook him for life. And it succeeds fabulously until he becomes aware of some cards she was holding close to her chest, and then it kind-of falls apart.

I loved Stack’s mad dysfunctional family and the network of MMA fighters he surrounds himself with. One of the things I especially liked was the close male friendships that Vanity has developed with some of the fighters. It’s a refreshing change and one I could relate to. When I was in my late teens and early twenties, I had way more male friends than female friends. Though my mom will tell you they were all in love with me (that’s Moms for you) I never thought that, and I totally believe it’s possible to have platonic relationships with guys. Most books dispute that notion so I liked that we got to see a different side of it in Tough Love. That’s not to say that Leese didn’t admit to an attraction to Vanity, because he did, but the fact is he was a great friend to her and I loved that.

I struggled a little with the first 10/15% of this book – I felt it dragged a little and that some of the dialog between Stack and Vanity was a little stiff and unnatural. Thankfully, those concerns melted away after that. I also struggled to reconcile Vanity’s behaviour regarding her financial position. It didn’t feel natural that she would tell Stack’s family about her wealth in such an open way. To me, it would have been way more natural for her to be cagey about it. Anyway, it’s a relatively minor complaint and it didn’t deny my enjoyment of this book.

I’m interested in Yvette and Cannon’s story and I’m definitely going to read that book. I also can’t wait to read about Armie and Merissa, and Leese’s story when it releases. I warmed to all the guys in this book and they were all intriguing in their own unique way.

The writing style is decent, and while it didn’t blow me away, it’s solidly written and very well edited.

In summary, this was a great book and I look forward to reading more of this series.

I received an ARC of this book via the publisher and Inkslinger PR in exchange for my honest review.

Tough Love Available Now

Excerpt:
The breath she held came out in a gasp as he pulled her against him, locked an arm around her waist and took her mouth with hot, incredible greed.
Whoa. And here she thought she’d been on the ragged edge.
He was so much bigger than her in every way, he made her feel tiny and feminine and fragile. In all other situations her independent soul might have rebelled, but not now. Not with Stack. She trusted him one hundred percent, and wanted him even more than that.
Flattening her hands on his chest, she smoothed over the solid wall of his pecs, up to those rock-solid shoulders. Heat poured off him, and—oh God—he smelled so good. With his big hands opened on her, his mouth eating at hers, she forgot… everything.
The music and the conversation of other guests faded away. She tunneled her fingers into his hair and tried to get closer still.
Someone bumped into them; Stack didn’t stop kissing her. If anything, his tongue became bolder, exploring, tasting.
Laughter, probably from his friends, sounded nearby, and still he didn’t stop. He gathered her closer.
Jarred back to the here and now, Vanity pressed against him. A true gentleman, Stack immediately eased up.
Her lips tingled. Shoot, her whole body tingled. She drew in a shaky breath. “Wow.”
Proving he hadn’t, in fact, forgotten they stood in the middle of the floor at a friend’s wedding, he whispered against her lips, “Let me get you someplace private.” A softer kiss of persuasion. “I’ll give you reason to be wowed.”
Such a tempting promise.
Oh, how she wanted to haul him to the nearest quiet closet. But that would be dumb. What she wanted, what she hoped he ultimately wanted, would require hours, not a few frenzied minutes.
Voice filled with regret, Vanity explained, “I can’t go just yet.”
His rough growl proved his impatience.
“Very soon, I promise.” Adjusting their embrace, her arms around his neck, his hands at her waist, she put some space between them. “Let’s dance while you cool down and I—”
“Dream on.” But he eased his hold and fell into step with her. Gaze burning over her, then lingering on her cleavage, he asked, “How much longer do I have to wait?”
Vanity didn’t pretend confusion; she knew exactly what he meant, exactly what he wanted. “One dance. Then I need to get the bouquet out of the fridge and gather up some presents and—”
He groaned again, prompting Vanity to laugh.
“Let’s talk.” Maybe casual conversation would help cool his jets and give her a needed opportunity to regroup.
“Okay.” He leaned in. “I can’t wait to taste you—all over.”
All over?
“And to get you under me. Or over me. Your preference.”
“Stack.” Her shaky voice sounded weak. “Let’s talk about something that isn’t provoking.”
“Like what? Because honest to god, darlin’, after weeks of your verbal foreplay, I’m feeling pretty damned provoked.”
The smile came slowly. Teasing Stack was a true pleasure.

Tough Love promo

Tough Love is part of the Ultimate series.

The full series includes the following stories:
– Hard Knocks (Ultimate #0.5)
– No Limits (Ultimate #1)
– Holding Strong (Ultimate #2)
– Tough Love (Ultimate #3)
– Fighting Dirty (Ultimate #4)

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Don’t miss the earlier books in the Ultimate Series!
Hard Knocks (Ultimate #0.5)
No Limits (Ultimate #1)
Holding Strong (Ultimate #2)

Lori - Dec 2014About the Author:
Since first publishing in January 1996, Lori Foster has become a USA Today, Publisher’s Weekly and New York Times bestselling author. Lori has published through a variety of houses, including Kensington, St. Martin’s, Harlequin, Silhouette, Samhain, and Berkley/Jove. She is currently published with HQN.

Lori hosts a very special annual “Reader & Author” event in West Chester, Ohio. Proceeds from the event have benefited many worthy causes, including the Hamilton County YWCA Battered Women’s Shelter, the Animal Adoption Foundation, The Conductive Learning Center for children with spina bifida and cerebral palsy, and The One Way Farm, Children’s Home.

Each year Lori donates all proceeds from one book to charity. You can see the benefit romance books here: http://lorifoster.com/benefit-books/

Links:

And there’s a tour wide giveaway! Enter the rafflecopter below for a chance to win:
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Review: Prodigy (Legend #2) by Marie Lu

prodigyTitle: Prodigy
Author: by Marie Lu
Series: Legend #2
Rating: 5 stars
Genres: Dystopia
Links:

Blurb:
Injured and on the run, it has been seven days since June and Day barely escaped Los Angeles and the Republic with their lives. Day is believed dead having lost his own brother to an execution squad who thought they were assassinating him. June is now the Republic’s most wanted traitor. Desperate for help, they turn to the Patriots – a vigilante rebel group sworn to bring down the Republic. But can they trust them or have they unwittingly become pawns in the most terrifying of political games?

My Review:
I absolutely loved this book! Prodigy was far superior in ways in which Legend fell down, in my opinion. This book hooked me from the get-go and I ended up reading it in 2 sittings, in less than 24 hours. I thought both the pacing and the writing was vastly improved from the first book in this series.

In Prodigy, we follow June and Day as they struggle to identify whom they can trust. As they get sucked into a ruthless battle for control of the Republic, their relationship is tested as the cultural differences between them become more apparent. Though they still share a strong connection, and are undeniably attracted to one another, their vastly different upbringings threaten to tear them apart. I always love a strong romance element to these type of fast-paced action-packed adventures, and Marie Lu doesn’t fail to deliver in this regard. June and Day are loyally protective of each other and it’s really sweet. Sometimes I struggle to relate this with the fact that they are only 15, however, they are presented as mature 15-year-olds with strong intelligence and keen observational skills, so I can overlook it.

The plot is a lot less predictable in this book, and the suspense and drama is deliciously built the whole way through the novel. There were a couple of twists at the end that I didn’t see coming, and I always love when the author retains the ability to surprise me.

The ending was so shocking, and bittersweet, and my heart was literally in my mouth. Now I can’t wait to read Champion to see how things end up for June and Day.

Blog Tour: Breakout (Dred Chronicles #3) by Ann Aguirre

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Today I am part of the release day blitz for Ann Aguirre her newest book Breakout, which is the third book in her Dred Chronicles series. There’s an excerpt and a giveaway.

BreakoutTitle: Breakout
Author: Ann Aguirre
Series: Dred Chronicles #3
Genres: Adult Romantic Science Fiction
Links:

Blurb:
All hell is breaking loose in the edge-of-your-seat follow-up to Havoc and Perdition from New York Times bestselling author Ann Aguirre…

The prison ship Perdition has become a post-battle charnel house with only a handful of Dred’s soldiers still standing and now being hunted by Silence’s trained tongueless assassins. Forging an uneasy alliance with mercenary commander Vost—who is their only chance at escape—the Dread Queen will do whatever it takes to end her life sentence on Perdition and keep the survivors alive long enough to cobble together a transport capable of getting them off station.

If Dred and her crew can win the deadly game of cat and mouse, the payoff is not only life but freedom—a prize sweeter than their wildest dreams. Yet the sadistic Silence would rather destroy Perdition than let a single soul slip from her grasp…

Excerpt:
They didn’t speak until they had put a fair amount of distance behind them, then Dred signaled her desire to pause by tapping his ankle. He couldn’t turn fully because the ducts had narrowed, but he glanced over his shoulder.
“You all right?”
“Just . . . spooked.” The somber tone told him he hadn’t been alone in what he felt, watching those crazy, tongue-less bastards.
“It’s different now,” he said.
“With what she did to Queensland . . . she seems larger than life. I’ve been afraid before, but . . . not quite like this.”
The words were barely a whisper, and they roused an answering prickle of gooseflesh on his arms.
“I know. There’s run-of-the-mill evil, like Priest and Mungo. And then there’s Silence.”
“It’s like she can do worse than kill me. Rationally, I know that’s not true—”
“But it’s uncanny the way she’s last one still standing, moving through the carnage.” He didn’t say it out loud, but he thought, *Like Death itself. *
Dred nodded. “I’m still here, too, but I’m not the Dread Queen anymore.”
“If it’s any consolation, I don’t miss her.”
“Me either,” she whispered.
There was no space to touch her as he wanted to, and it wasn’t the time anyway, so Jael continued on. They slid out of the ducts near the closet, but when he opened it, there were no droids plugged in. He choked out a curse. It was impossible to predict when a bot would come back, and it was dangerous to wait out in the open. They desperately needed some intel about how many men Silence had left, how often they patrolled, and where, but with manpower as scarce as it had become on their end, recon had to wait.
“Back up?” Dred whispered.
He nodded. This time, they found a way in that gave them vantage over their target, so they’d know when a bot returned. He’d just finished fitting the vent panel in place behind them when he heard the familiar, shuffling sound of Silence’s men. From her expression, Dred registered it, too, and she practically stopped breathing. The fact that her killers were roving freely must signify that she believed herself the undisputed ruler of Perdition.

When they rounded the corner and came into sight, he stifled a surprised sound. This group was huge, compared to the usual numbers, ten this time, and horror jolted through him like lightning when he realized they were carried a human-sized bundle. They’d wrapped their captive in dark fabric, so he couldn’t tell anything about the person, but the worst part was, he or she was still moving, thrashing against his bonds.

*Who is that? And why the hell would Silence want someone taken alive? *

Praise for the Dred Chronicles:
“There’s so much action, so much adventure, and more than that, it’s great writing.” – USA Today

“Sirantha Jax fans may be intrigued to see what befell Jael after his ill-considered actions there, and new lead Dred is a strong linchpin for a promising new series.” — Publishers Weekly

“Spectacularly and spell-bindingly perfect with high octane action that keeps you on the edge of your seat and a romance that is surprisingly sweet and tender in a harsh and unforiving setting…This is honestly one of the best SF romance series I have read.” — Book Pushers

And don’t miss the previous books in the Dred Chronicles!
Perdition (Dred Chronicles #1)
Havoc (Dred Chronicles #2)

Ann AguirreAbout the Author:
Ann Aguirre is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling author and RITA winner with a degree in English Literature; before she began writing full time, she was a clown, a clerk, a voice actress, and a savior of stray kittens, not necessarily in that order. She grew up in a yellow house across from a cornfield, but now she lives in sunny Mexico with her husband, children, and various pets. Ann likes books, emo music, action movies, and she writes all kinds of genre fiction for adults and teens, published with Harlequin, Macmillan, and Penguin, among others.

Links:

There’s a tour wide giveaway, for a chance to win, enter the rafflecopter below:
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Review: Legend (Legend #1) by Marie Lu

LegendTitle: Legend
Author: Marie Lu
Series: Legend #1
Rating: 3.5 stars
Genres: Dystopia/ sci-fi/ post-apocalyptic
Links:

Blurb:
What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic’s wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic’s highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country’s most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.

From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths—until the day June’s brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family’s survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias’s death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.

My Review:
Actual Rating 3.5 Stars.

Overall, I enjoyed this book, and I’m invested enough to continue with this series. However, initially I really struggled to get into the story. I felt it was very slow-paced at the start, and there was hardly any dialogue so it was difficult to feel a connection with the characters. At around the 30% mark I contemplated throwing in the towel, but I didn’t, and I’m glad that I persevered.

What I like most about this book is the two main characters – June and Day. Initially I was a bit luke-warm on June. She appeared to be spoiled, a little selfish and naive; which was surprising for someone so intelligent and keenly observant. She redeemed herself as the story progressed, particularly towards the end where she made a difficult decision in order to do the right thing. That took huge guts and she embraced that decision with gusto.

Day was a shoo-in for me from the first minute. I never doubted that his intentions were genuine and he struck me as a modern day Robin Hood type, a rebel with a heart. I love the developing relationship between him and June, and I can relate to the strong attraction they feel toward one another: It’s believable.

The plot was fairly predictable, and I guessed everything that happened pretty early on; though there were enough twists and turns to keep my attention.

The book is well written and the prose is decent, but after a 2 month long Jennifer L. Armentrout read-a-thon, there wasn’t anything uniquely stand-out about it for me.

I read the paperback and I struggled at the start with the style choice for Day’s POV. I understand and like the idea of two different style pallets for the different POV’s, but using a bold font for Day was the wrong decision in my opinion. It was jarring to read; however, I got over it as I got hooked into the story.

I’m invested enough now to continue the story, and I look forward to seeing where the author brings it next.

Review: Frigid (Frigid #1) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

FrigidTitle: Frigid
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Series: Frigid #1
Rating: 4.5 stars
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Links:

Blurb:
For twenty-one-year-old Sydney, being in love with Kyler isn’t anything new. They’d been best friends ever since he pushed her down on the playground and she made him eat a mud pie. Somewhere over the years, she fell for him and fell hard. The big problem with that? Kyler puts the ‘man’ in man-whore. He’s never stayed with a girl longer than a few nights, and with it being their last year in college, Syd doesn’t want to risk their friendship by declaring her love.

Kyler has always put Syd on a pedestal that was too high for him to reach. To him, she’s perfect and she’s everything. But the feelings he has for her, he’s always hidden away or focused on any other female. After all, Kyler will always be the poor boy from the wrong side of tracks, and Syd will always be the one girl he can never have.

But when they’re stranded together at a posh ski resort due to a massive Nor’easter, there’s nothing stopping their red-hot feelings for each other from coming to the surface. Can their friendship survive the attraction? Better yet, can they survive at all? Because as the snow falls, someone is stalking them, and this ski trip may be a life-changer in more ways than one.

My Review:
4.5 Stars.

This was quite a short read, but an enthralling one all the same. Ordinarily I don’t like contemporary romance unless there’s other key sub-plots behind it. There was a little drama/suspense in this book but primarily it centers on the relationship between Sydney (Syd) and Kyler. I’m therefore impressed that Jennifer managed to write a book like this that hooked me in quickly and kept my attention the full way through.

Kyler and Sydney have been BFF’s since they were kids. Both of them harbor romantic feelings for the other but neither has been brave enough to broach the subject, for fear of ruining their friendship. That is a very believable story line and I could completely relate to both characters as they reacted in different ways to things that happened between them.

Kyler is described as a ‘man-whore’ and it’s a very unlike-able trait. I started off hating him but he quickly won me over. At times I was reminded a little of Christian Gray. That I still loved him is down to Jennifer’s ability to create totally swoon-worthy guys that you just can’t help falling for. His sweet protectiveness of Syd also won him additional points.

All in all, another great read from JLA.

Review: Cursed by Jennifer L. Armentrout

CursedTitle: Cursed
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Series: standalone
Rating: 5 stars
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Links:

Blurb:
Dying sucks
…and high school senior Ember McWilliams knows firsthand.

After a fatal car accident, her gifted little sister brought her back. Now anything Ember touches dies. And that, well, really blows.

Ember operates on a no-touch policy with all living things–including boys. When Hayden Cromwell shows up, quoting Oscar Wilde and claiming her curse is a gift, she thinks he’s a crazed cutie. But when he tells her he can help control it, she’s more than interested. There’s just one catch: Ember has to trust Hayden’s adopted father, a man she’s sure has sinister reasons for collecting children whose abilities even weird her out. However, she’s willing to do anything to hold her sister’s hand again. And hell, she’d also like to be able to kiss Hayden. Who wouldn’t?

But when Ember learns the accident that turned her into a freak may not’ve been an accident at all, she’s not sure who to trust. Someone wanted her dead, and the closer she gets to the truth, the closer she is to losing not only her heart, but her life.

For real this time.

My Review:
Gifted or Cursed? That’s the dilemma facing our heroine Ember.

Ember awoke from death a changed person. Quickly realizing she now has a death-touch, she has lived the last two years shielding herself from coming into contact with others. Good to the core, she sacrifices a normal teenage life to care for her uniquely-talented kid sister Olivia. Her only friend is Adam, her mom treats her as if she’s invisible, and the kids at school are horrible to her. I felt for her from the get-go.

Then this hot, mysterious guy starts showing up and soon her whole world is turned on its head.

Hayden is an intriguing male lead. Clearly fond of Ember, and willing to literally put his life on the line to protect her, he’s also hiding his own dark secrets.

Cursed reminded me a little of X-Men with the school for gifted kids, but set in a more contemporary environment. There are plenty of twists and turns in this book – some predictable, some not – but plenty to propel the plot forward nicely.

I liked these characters, a little less run of the mill than JLA’s normal characters and I really enjoyed that. There were parts where I literally cringed inwardly for Ember, and could scarcely read on. I love when a book makes you feel that emotionally connected, and that’s what Cursed did for me.

Superbly written as usual, I’m surprised that this book isn’t one of her more popular ones. I’m suffering separation anxiety now though as this one looks like it won’t ever be anything more than a stand alone, and I’d love to read more of these characters.

I really loved this book. In my opinion it’s a great addition to JLA’s paranormal YA romance collection.

Review: Obsession by Jennifer L. Armentrout

ObsessionTitle: Obsession
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Series: standalone, spinn-off from the Lux series
Rating: 5 stars
Genres: Paranormal Romance/ sci-fi
Links:

Blurb:
This is a stand alone novel that is an adult spin-off of the Lux Series You do not need to read a Lux book to read Obsession and vice versa.

He’s arrogant, domineering, and… To. Die. For.

Hunter is a ruthless killer. And the Department of Defense has him firmly in their grasp, which usually doesn’t chafe too badly because he gets to kill bad guys. Most of the time he enjoys his job. That is, until he’s saddled with something he’s never had to do before: protect a human from his mortal enemy.

Serena Cross didn’t believe her best friend when she claimed to have seen the son of a powerful senator turn into something… unnatural. Who would? But then she witnesses her friend’s murder at the hands of what can only be an alien, thrusting her into a world that will kill to protect their secret.

Hunter stirs Serena’s temper and her lust despite their differences. Soon he’s doing the unthinkable—breaking the rules he’s lived by, going against the government to keep Serena safe. But are the aliens and the government the biggest threats to Serena’s life… or is it Hunter?

My Review:
Holy smoking aliens, this book is so hot it’s scorching!!

I’m a massive fan of the Lux series, and I was intrigued enough about Hunter and Serena from the scenes in that series to read Obsession. I’m glad I did as I loved it.

Hunter starts out being a total douche, and I could relate to Serena’s initial sense of fear around him. As the story develops we start to understand him a little more, and I found myself changing my opinion of the Arum. Hunter thoroughly redeems himself in his one-man/alien quest to protect Serena from the Luxen who are out to kill her. That she falls for him is totally believable, and I was readily rooting for both of them by the end.

I love that Jennifer writes so many bonus scenes, and novellas, from different POV’s, showing different sides to the story. Obsession has inspired me to read Lux again, now that I have a different interpretation of the motivations behind Arum like Hunter.

This book is definitely not for young teens though, as the heady mix of sex and violence are for mature readers only.

Another epic read from the NA, YA, Paranormal, Fantasy, Sci-Fi Queen!

Review: Bitter Sweet Love (The Dark Elements 0.5) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Bitter Sweet LoveTitle: Bitter Sweet Love
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Series: The Dark Elements 0.5
Rating: 3 stars
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Links:

Blurb:
Dez wasn’t just Jasmine’s crush. A gargoyle Warden like Jas, he helped her come to terms with her destiny—fending off demons and maintaining the balance between good and evil. He was her everything…right until the moment he disappeared without a trace. It didn’t help that Jas’s father had just announced that she and Dez would one day be mated. Hard not to take that personally.

And now he’s back, three years older, ten times hotter, ready to pick up exactly where they left off. But Jas isn’t taking that risk again. Dez has seven days to meet all her conditions and earn back her trust. Seven days filled with terrifying danger and sweet temptation. Seven days to win her heart—or shatter it all over again…

My Review:
I adore Jennifer’s Dark Elements series so I was looking forward to reading Bitter Sweet Love, but unfortunately it didn’t live up to expectations.
There is nothing wrong with the writing or the pacing, I just didn’t connect with either Jasmine or Dez and found that I really didn’t care what happened to them.
It was incredibly short, an easy, quick read, but it may have benefited from a little more detail and depth.
I really enjoyed the glimpse we got of a younger Layla and Zayne, and the scene with Roth was brilliant. It got extra brownie points for that, and I’d recommend it to fans of this series purely on that basis alone.

Review: Unchained (Nephilim Rising #1) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

UnchainedTitle: Unchained
Author: by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Series: Nephilim Rising #1
Rating: 3.5 stars
Genres: Fantasy/ Paranormal Romance
Links:

Blurb:
Between the pissed off creatures that want demon-hunter Lily Marks dead and the fallen angel who just…wants her, Lily is about ready to trade in forever for a comfy job in a cubicle farm.

The fact that she and Julian are civil to one another is enough to have her thrown out of the Sanctuary, but she can’t shake her not-so-angelic stalker or how he brings her dangerously close to ecstasy.

Her forbidden relationship with Julian provides the perfect fuel for suspicion when a traitor is discovered to be working within the Sanctuary. Lily quickly finds herself hunted by well, everyone.

Her only hope is to discover the real traitor before she loses everything–and she’ll need Julian’s help. That is, if Julian is really there to help her…and not destroy her.

Yeah, being a Nephilim isn’t everything it’s cracked up to be.

My Review:
I have mixed feelings about this book. While I definitely enjoyed reading it, it didn’t grab me in the way Jennifer’s books usually do. It lacks her usual finesse, and isn’t up to the normal superb standard. In the acknowledgments section she admits that this was the second book she ever wrote, back in 2008, and that made total sense. So I’ve adjusted my views accordingly, reviewing it as a debut work of sorts.

It took me a little while to engage with both Lily and Julian. Julian seemed like a total creeper at the start and his description was off-putting, I couldn’t understand how Lily would be attracted to him. As the story progressed and I learned more of his character he grew on me. For a 26-year-old I felt Lily was quite immature at times, but I made allowances given her background She grew up in the Sanctuary and really didn’t have much opportunity to be a kid, so I can understand how she’s mature in some ways, and immature in others. Believable.

Michael was the character I felt most connected to in this story, and I would have loved it if he had stronger plot lines. However, if she continues this series I’d expect to hear more about him in future novels given how this one ended.

In the main the writing is not as good as normal, but I’ve addressed that above. One of the things I love most about JLA’s writing is her ability to write really compelling dialogue between her characters. I still can’t get the Seth/Aiden/Alex dialogue from ‘Pure’ out of my head – totally bloody brilliant in the way it’s written. Not so much here, but she was only starting out.

Pacing is a little slow in parts, but overall okay. Plot is good but nothing overly original. Once I got half-way in I got totally sucked into the mystery and enjoyed it much more.

If you are a fan of JLA you might be a little disappointed with this one so I’d say go into it with an open mind and you’ll enjoy it more.

3.5 stars.

Review: The Six, and the Crystals of Ialana (The Six, #1) by Katlynn Brooke

the six and the crystals of ialanaTitle: The Six, and the Crystals of Ialana
Author: Katlynn Brooke
Series: The Six #1
Rating: 5 stars
Genres: Fantasy
Links:

Blurb:
A mysterious island, strange dreams and a powerful healing crystal lost centuries ago: seven young people must discover what their connection is to the disastrous events that took place five hundred years before they were born. Who are the Six Healers, what is their mission and how did it once fail?
The Six, along with a seventh companion, must navigate perilous mountain passes, caves and tunnels guarded by monstrous creatures, and embark on a sea voyage that is doomed from the start. Not only that, there is a potential traitor in their midst who may sell them out at the first opportunity.
The story takes place on the Continent of Ialana, a mythical place in a long-forgotten time that inspired legends and blurs the distinctions between science and magic. The Six discover that all magic is only an understanding of the true nature of reality and the construct of the universe. All they know is that their lives will never be the same again.

My Review:
The Six, and the Crystals of Ialana is a captivating fantasy book that is suitable for everyone from young teenagers upwards.

Relaying the story of six teenagers who are inextricably linked, this is a story of reincarnation, discovery, fate, inner strength and belief. We meet the six main characters as they experience the power of mysterious, shared dreams. These turn out to be memories of themselves in a previous lifetime, and thus begins a new chapter in their journey. Things went disastrously wrong the last time they were all together. Now they’re in a desperate race against time to change their destiny, and the the fate of their country and loved ones. They set off on an exciting adventure, meeting many characters and creatures on the way. Blaidd is clearly the villain of the piece, though I never stopped hoping that he’d turn over a new leaf and see the error of his ways.

Containing many magical elements that are often found in fantastical tales, the author creates her own believable world with engaging characters and vivid details.

I’ll admit that I was initially a little confused over the different characters, POV’s and various locations, but it all makes sense after a few chapters and that became a non-existent issue thereafter.

Exceptionally well written, the writing flows smoothly and it was an easy read.

I think this book would appeal to fans of Percy Jackson, The Chronicles of Narnia and the Hobbit. An enjoyable read.