I Dare You by Ilsa Madden-Mills

4 Stars!!

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Synopsis:

Badass Athlete: I dare you to…
Delaney Shaw: Who is this?

The late night text is random, but “Badass Athlete” sure seems to know who she is…

Delaney Shaw.
Good girl.
Lover of fluffy kitties and Star Wars.
Curious.

His dare? Spend one night in his bed—a night he promises will be unforgettable—and she can solve the mystery of who he is.

She knows she shouldn’t, but what else is she going to do with her boring Valentine’s Day? One sexy hook-up later, her mind is blown and the secret’s out.

Maverick Monroe.
Bad boy.
The most talented football player in the country.
Just ask him.

Too bad for him Delaney’s sworn off dating athletes forever after her last heartbreak.

But Maverick wants more than one night and refuses to give up on winning Delaney’s heart. She isn’t one to be fazed by a set of broad shoulders.

Will the bad boy land the nerd girl or will the secrets they keep from each other separate them forever?

I DARE YOU is a full-length stand-alone novel.

Review:

Jock + Nerd = I’m definitely reading it!

I’m a sucker for the jock romances to be honest. And when you add in some nerdy, you’ve completely won me over. Delaney is a fun main character, and while I sometimes felt she wasn’t empathic enough, I think overall she was pretty realistic. Maverick is also realistic in the sense that as the reader you’re going a little crazy over his choices, yet people do these types of things in real life all the time! Overall, the majority of the characters were great examples of caring and understanding. I would have loved if the author dove a little deeper into Skye and Delaney’s friendship, because it seems really healthy and supportive. Anyway, another fun romance from Ilsa Madden-Mills!

Come Sundown by Nora Roberts

5  Stars!!

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Yes! This is the Nora Roberts I know and love. Some of the more recent stuff hasn’t had me hooked, but this one did. Suspense, romance, and family. I also love how her characters and narratives have progressed with the times. Bodine is a strong independent woman that I loved reading about.

Synopsis: 

Love. Lies. Murder. A lot can happen… COME SUNDOWN

Bodine Longbow loves to rise with the dawn. As the manager of her family’s resort in Western Montana, there just aren’t enough hours in the day – for life, for work, for loved ones. She certainly doesn’t have time for love, not even in the gorgeous shape of her childhood crush Callen Skinner, all grown up and returned to the ranch. Then again, maybe Callen can change her mind, given time…

But when a young woman’s body is discovered on resort land, everything changes. Callen falls under the suspicion of a deputy sheriff with a grudge. And for Bodine’s family, the murder is a shocking reminder of an old loss. Twenty-five years ago, Bodine’s Aunt Alice vanished, never to be heard of again. Could this new tragedy be connected to Alice’s mysterious disappearance?

As events take a dramatic and deadly turn, Bodine and Callen must race to uncover the truth – before the sun sets on their future together.

 

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From Here to You by Jamie McGuire

4.5 STARS!!

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Release Date: August 21, 2018

Publisher: Forever Romance, Hachette Book Group, Inc.

Synopsis: As Darby Dixon sits in a tiny Texas church bathroom on her wedding day holding a positive pregnancy test, she realizes that marrying her fiancé would be the worst decision of her life. She’s never been very good at standing up for herself, but she’ll sure as hell stand up for her baby. With very little cash and a ton of courage, she flees town to take a new name and start a new life.

As a Marine, Scott “Trex” Trexler worked in the most treacherous, corrupt, war-torn places on earth. With his new top-secret security job, he finally has a chance to return to the one place he’s felt at peace: Colorado Springs, Colorado.

The moment Trex checks in at the hotel where she’s working, Darby knows he’s dangerous. He may want her to think he’s another hotshot firefighter, along with all the others battling the nearby mountain blaze, but something doesn’t add up. No way will she get involved with another man she can’t fully trust – and Trex clearly isn’t telling her everything. As Darby’s ex gets closer and closer to finding her, both she and Trex will soon find out that what you don’t know can hurt you.

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Review: 

Jamie McGuire does it again. This story sucked me in from the very beginning when we met Darby and kept me engulfed until the very end. Jamie McGuire beautifully creates struggling characters that the reader will want to simultaneously shake some sense into and comfort with a tight hug. Darby is strong, independent, and a little bit of a mess. Trex is so caring, but his alpha male role isn’t helping his case. It’s amazing to see how those characteristics interact, and create the ups and downs of the relationship development.

 

The development of the characters, and their relationships with those around them, were done in a way that I’m looking forward to the rest of this series. Here’s to hoping Naomi gets a book! NOMES! While I knew there would be some sort of “show down,” I wasn’t bored waiting for it to happen. I loved getting to know Darby and Trex along the way. The action thrown in here and there just spiced up the story. You need to read this book, and I need time to pass so I can read the rest of the series!

 

 

 

Girl at the Grave by Teri Bailey Black

4 STARS!

The general plot of this book really intrigued me, as I love a good murder mystery. Valentine, the main character, lives her life in the shadow of her mother’s crime of murder over a decade ago. When new murders begin, she is of course the prime suspect. Oh, and let’s not forget the love triangle, which is making her life even more difficult! The historical setting, in the late 1800s, really interested me, because it played a part in how the story progressed and its characters reacted. I was also thoroughly impressed by the fact that I had no idea who the killer was! Not to mention the feminist themes that were thrown in. I really did enjoy this book. The only reason I wouldn’t give it five stars, is because of the readability. I felt like the book was going to wrap up, and then some other big event would happen. It seemed like some of the events could have been cut out, and the book would have been just as good. It was like there was just too much going on in the later part of the book, and I started to wonder if it would ever end. Overall, I enjoyed the story, and the happy ending was a pleasure.

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Counselor Considerations contain SPOILERS.

Do not read further if you don’t want to PLOT SPOILERS!

School Counselor Considerations:

Social/Emotional: Family: Mother put to death for murder, father travels for work, parents die Social: Judged for mother’s crime, strong friendships with males that are interested in more than friendship

College/Career: Desire to go to college, desire to work with change agents after high school, career planning

Academic: Valedictorian, Importance of high school and college, desire to be at school

 

Empress of All Seasons by Emiko Jean (ARC Review)

4.5 Stars!!!!

Cover Reveal

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Synopsis:

In a palace of illusions, nothing is what it seems.

Each generation, a competition is held to find the next empress of Honoku. The rules are simple. Survive the palace’s enchanted seasonal rooms. Conquer Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall. Marry the prince. All are eligible to compete—all except yōkai, supernatural monsters and spirits whom the human emperor is determined to enslave and destroy.

Mari has spent a lifetime training to become empress. Winning should be easy. And it would be, if she weren’t hiding a dangerous secret. Mari is a yōkai with the ability to transform into a terrifying monster. If discovered, her life will be forfeit. As she struggles to keep her true identity hidden, Mari’s fate collides with that of Taro, the prince who has no desire to inherit the imperial throne, and Akira, a half-human, half-yōkai outcast.

Release Date: November 6, 2018

Publisher: HMH Teen

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My Thoughts:

I loved this book.

First, the world building is beautiful, especially the four seasonal rooms. The Japanese elements were new to me, and made the story that much more fascinating. The magic is alluring, yet can be deadly. The female competitors are just so strong and fierce when they enter these magical rooms. Every single female in this book is just trying to survive, and I love each and every one of them, even when they do despicable things.

Mari, the main character, is fighting societal norms, trying to do what is right, and kicking butt. She has insecurities, but she knows her strengths and uses them, which makes her that much more relatable. The other two perspectives are Taro and Akira. Prince Taro gives me so many mixed feelings, but I still kind of love him. As for Akira, talk about tugging on your heart strings. I just wanted so much more for Akira. Truly, I was invested in all of the characters, and the on-going fight between the humans and the yōkai. The underlying themes of social justice and feminism were woven in wonderfully.

The only reason this wasn’t a five-star read for me was that the ending seemed kind of abrupt, and I wanted so much more from this story (it definitely could have been a wonderful duology or trilogy). Also, there is a classic literature inspired part that I’ve never been a fan of, but I’ll let you read and figure out what it is, because maybe you’ll like it.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who loves a good fantasy, strong female leads, and the fight for equality and social justice!

Rock Legend by Tara Leigh (ARC Review)

4 Stars!

(adult romance read)

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This is the second book in a series about the band members of Nothing but Trouble (synopsis below).

Review: This second chance romance was full of ups and downs. I’m always interested to see how the book will proceed when huge life-changing events happen to the main characters right in the beginning. Is it going to be them just dealing with those events the rest of the book? Will another life-changing event happen? How will this affect the pacing of the book?

Tara Leigh did a good job of keeping the story engaging, which is a feat in and of itself after such a punch in the beginning. I saw one of the later events coming, but this is just because I’ve read so many romance books over the years. Even with knowing part of what was to come, I still wanted to find out what happened to these characters, and I believe that is due to the pacing of the story. I really appreciated that the characters took steps to grow, and didn’t just magically change over night. Little events happened to progress the story. Also, the characters were their own people. It is so wonderful to see that the character’s story isn’t just dependent on the love interest, but they have their own journey to complete.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book, and I will definitely be checking out the other books in the series. I’ve read a few rock star romance series, and I’m still very interested who these specific band members are, and how they will each find their HEA.

Thank you to NetGalley and Forever Yours for the ARC to review!

 

Synopsis:

I’m no Prince Charming.

Most people know me as the drummer for Nothing but Trouble. Depending who you ask, I’m also a playboy, a loner, the life of the party, a screw-up, or according to my fans, “The Sexiest Rock Star on the Planet.” Apparently, I’m a legend.

Am I surprised? Hell, no. It’s a reputation I’ve earned behind my drum kit and behind closed doors. No one thought foster kid Landon Cox would become famous. Infamous, maybe. Notorious, probably. But successful? Never. No one except Piper Hastings. But I had to make a choice: my woman or my career. I picked fame and fortune… and spent every damn day since pretending I don’t regret it.

Now fate’s dropped Piper back into my life. I want to believe it’s a second chance for me – for us. But while I can give her a few great nights, I can’t give Piper a future.

Because there’s a difference between a legend and a fairy tale…
Only one of them ends happily ever after.

Release Date: July 17, 2018

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Get the first book here.

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Freshmen by Lucy Ivison & Tom Ellen (ARC Review)

4.5 Stars!!

I read this book in one sitting, that is how much I enjoyed it. I’ve also been in a horrific reading slump where I’ve started 5 different books, so this is saying something. I was completely invested in Phoebe and Luke, as well as their friends.

CAN WE TALK ABOUT THE STRONG FEMALE FRIENDSHIPS!?!?!

This is what I hope for my students, friends that have your back and accept all your quirky differences. I loved the scenes with Phoebe, Negin, and Frankie! Not to mention D Dorm just rocked. I wish I had experienced college like this group. I just really enjoyed the exploration of starting college/university, and trying to meet new friends that you actually wanted to be around.The exploration of the character’s identity was just so realistic–especially the element of trying to fit in, which can cost you and not really lead you where you want to go.

The ending. I did not see that coming, which made me enjoy it that much more. It left me wanting to know where the lives of these characters are going (Psssst. Please do a sequel). Anyway, I really enjoyed this burst of college freshmen life, and I’d definitely recommend this to YA readers!

Synopsis:

Getting in is just the beginning.

Phoebe can’t wait to get to college. On her own, discovering new things, no curfew . . . she’ll be free. And she’ll be totally different: cooler, prettier, smarter . . . the perfect potential girlfriend. Convenient: the only person from her high school also going to York is her longtime crush, Luke.

Luke didn’t set out to redefine himself, but as soon as he arrives on campus, he finds himself dumping his long-term long-distance girlfriend. And the changes don’t stop there. In fact, being on a soccer team is the only thing that stays the same.

Just when things start looking up (and Phoebe and Luke start hooking up), drama looms on the horizon. Rumors swirl about the Wall of Shame, a secret text chain run by Luke’s soccer team, filled with compromising photos of girls. As the women on campus determine to expose the team and shut down the account, Luke and Phoebe find themselves grappling with confusing feelings and wondering how they’ll ever make it through freshman year.

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Counselor Considerations contain SPOILERS.

Do not read further if you don’t want to PLOT SPOILERS!

School Counselor Considerations:

Social/Emotional: Family: Long distance/Away at college, Social: Meeting new people, searching for new friends, dorms, social identity, navigating social circles, peer pressure, strong female friendships, strong friendships, heavy drinking, sex, partying, marijuana,  adapting to college life, romantic relationships, casual relationships, standing up for what is right, feminism

College/Career: Responsibility, College Life, working while in college, joining on-campus clubs/sports

Academic: Studying, group projects

Intercepted by Alexa Martin (ARC Review)

4 STARS!

(adult contemporary romance)

This book was really interesting to me in that it had a lot of typical romance story characteristics, but it didn’t fall into the extremely over dramatic—don’t get me wrong there were a few things that could “only happen in a book,” but that didn’t take away from the story for me. It was a little long, but once I finished I saw why the author did what they did. I like the innocent mistakes Gavin makes, because they make him more real. I also enjoyed the contrast between him and Chris. And I loved Marlee’s sass! She has very normal ups and downs which I appreciated.

Gavin 🙂 That’s all I’ll say about that.

AND DONNY! I almost forgot about Donny, the loud mouthed and obscene agent. I loved him, and I just wanted more of his antics!

Overall, if you love to read romance stories, you’ll enjoy this read. It comes out September 11th of this year!

I received this ARC from the First to Read program through Penguin Random House in exchange for an honest review!

Synopsis:

Marlee thought she scored with the man of her dreams only to be scorched by a bad breakup. Now there’s a new player on the horizon and he’s in a whole league of his own…

Marlee Harper is the perfect girlfriend. She’s sure had enough practice, dating her NFL-star boyfriend for the last ten years. But when she discovers her wide-receiver boyfriend has been tackling other women on the sly, she vows to never date an athlete again. Only one problem: Gavin Pope, the new hotshot quarterback and a fling from the past, has Marlee in his sights.

Gavin fights to show Marlee he’s nothing like her ex and what a future can be like for them. Unfortunately, not everyone is ready to let her escape her past. Gavin’s teammates’ wives, who never led the welcome wagon, are not happy with her return, and they have only one thing on their minds: taking her down. But when their gossip attack makes Marlee public enemy number one to the rabid fans of the team, she worries about more than just her reputation.

Fearing she’s causing Gavin’s life more harm than good, she tries to ignore the articles and the comments. However, when Gavin makes a life changing decision without her, she’s hit with the fact that she’s allowed herself to fall back into the back-seat life of an NFL girlfriend she promised to leave behind. Marlee must learn how to balance loving Gavin without losing the independence and respect she’s worked so hard to gain; otherwise their relationship may not survive the season.

Release Date: September 11, 2018

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Stephanie Garber – Legendary Launch Party

THIS LAUNCH PARTY WAS AMAZING!!

First of all, I loved Legendary, so I was already beyond excited for this event. And then when I got to the event (two hours early), they were setting up and my excitement just flew to the next level.

The setup:

 

Then Stephanie started handing out goodies and announced the games had begun, and I was just in heaven. Not to mention that the Starbucks inside the Roseville Barnes and Noble made a Legendary inspired drink! And this was all before Stephanie even started talking about her amazing book.

The Starbucks Drink:

The Discussion Starts:

 

Stephanie was in conversation with Kristin Dwyer (an aspiring writer and Adrienne Young’s critique partner), and she did a wonderful job. She asked great questions, made a few fun jokes, and wore black for our new book boyfriend Dante.

 

They talked about the evolution of Legendary, which was scrapped multiple times, and had multiple endings. Stephanie also spoke about how her writing is really influenced by music, and that her Tella inspiration started with Taylor Swift songs, but changed to Bishop Briggs songs, which makes since after you read Legendary! Someone asked her what she would do if she could go into the world of Caraval, and she said she would find Legend. Kristin said she would find Dante. Let’s talk about that after you read the book!

While Stephanie couldn’t give details, Caraval is being optioned to become a movie! Also, there will be a third book in the series, Finale!  Which I am beyond thankful for, because the ending of Legendary almost ruined me. I need resolution NOW!

Also, Stephanie is the SWEETEST ever, and it was such a pleasure to meet her. I definitely found a new auto-buy author!

What goodies were handed out:

Red Caraval Bag

Caraval Map Coloring Poster with Colored Pencils

Legendary Chocolates and Bookmark

The Games & Prizes:

Tell the woman in the top hat that Legend sent you (it was Stephanie’s mom, how sweet is that?) and receive a sticker that is good for one mask.

Find one of the Golden Crowns hidden throughout the Barnes and Noble Bookstore, and pick a mystery foreign edition book!

YES, I did get both, and I’m not convinced I could win Caraval.