Tag Archives: 4 stars

Review – These Battered Hands – Laurel Ulen Curtis

these battered handsThese Battered Hands
Author: Laurel Ulen Curtis
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Review Copy Provided by Author

Blood, sweat, hard work, and a disconcerting lack of tears—my entire life—was meant to culminate in a flourish of glory and significance.
I’d thought I’d always known exactly what that meant.
But I’d had the timing wrong by about three minutes.
I knew now.
This moment wasn’t everything. The one person I found myself wanting more than anything during it was.
One preconceived notion can haunt you for the entirety of your life.
I thought I owed it to myself and to everyone who’d ever backed me to do what was expected. What was right. What I was supposed to do.
But nothing is forbidden in love. Not circumstances or propriety or the denial of the object of said affection.
I knew now.
This was it.
If I wanted it, I had to take it.

This gymnastics love story is more than grips, rips, and battered hands.
For Calia Nickleson and Nikolai Bagrov, it was everything.

Its really hard to say what exactly caught my eye about These Battered Hands, but there was something in the book description that just screamed read me and I am glad that I did. These was something so raw about Ms Curtis’ writing style that I just found myself sucked it and didn’t want to leave the world that she had created. I’ll admit that I know next to nothing about gymnastics, aside from the fact that I watch it during the Olympics and gaze in awe at what these men and women can do (I tried gymnastics growing up, and let’s just say it wasn’t all that successful…lol). But even I could tell that the author was well-versed in the world of gymnastics – she was able to easily fuse the different technical explanations for routines into the story, in a way that made it educational and yet fun to read. I actually felt like i learned quite a bit which could make watching the 2016 Olympics all the more entertaining next year ;)

I liked how the romance between Callie and Nik developed – it wasn’t a wham bam type one, but rather a severe dislike (at least Callie’s side) and a desire to help her (on Nik’s side) and it just happened. I also enjoyed how the author didn’t have to rely on the sexual scenes the move the story forward – they were there, but it just felt natural – there wasn’t too much or too little (if that makes sense?). And while there were definately a few angsty spots towards the end, it wasn’t the totally manufactured type angst that is so often used, but rather a potentially naturally occurring incident used to provide some angst/tension, as well as moving the story towards its ultimate conclusion. I will admit that I wasn’t a fan of Callie’s dad (in fact he was a manipulative bastards), but then, as a reader i wasn’t supposed to be – although I could see why he did some of the things that he did – i just didn’t agree with them…at all!

One of the things I found really cool with the authors writing style was how the words from the end of each chapter and the start of the new chapter merged together and yet each one was from a different POV (the story alternated chapters between Callie and Nik). It was definitely a writing technique that I had never really noticed before in books, but it made the flow between the 2 POV’s much smoother and less choppy. The symbology of Callie’s battered hands from being a gymnast, the power in them was something that i kind of felt awe over – we take our hands for granted every day, so to hear them described in this way throughout the book just make it all the more poignant.

This was the first book i’ve read by Laurel Ulen Curtis, but it wasn’t be the last, in fact, I hope to check out some more of hers in the near future. I gave These Battered Hands 4 stars and definately recommend for people looking for a solid, fairly non-angsty sports-based (since I count gymnastics as a sport) romance.

LaurelUlenCurtissmallerAbout Laurel:
Laurel Ulen Curtis is a 28 year old mother of one. She lives with her husband and son (and cat!) in New Jersey, but grew up all over the United States. She graduated from Rutgers University in 2009 with a Bachelor of Science in Meteorology, and puts that to almost no use other than forecasting for her friends and writing a storm chasing heroine! She has a passion for her family, laughing, and reading and writing Romance novels. She’s also addicted to Coke. The drink, not the drug.

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Posted by on October 1, 2015 in Book Review


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Blog Tour/Review – Treasured by Thursday – Catherine Bybee

Treasured 400x600Treasured by Thursday
Author: Catherine Bybee
Series: #7 in the Weekday Brides
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Review Copy Provided by NetGalley

Gabriella Masini: She’s a woman haunted by her past, with the scars to prove it. She believes that fairy tales are for other people. An elite matchmaker at Alliance, she’s great at crunching numbers, but something doesn’t add up with her latest prospective client: a billionaire bad boy with his own secrets. When Gabi refuses to be his temporary wife, Hunter forces her hand with an offer she can’t refuse. But marriage to a man like that could never last…or could it?

Hunter Blackwell: Only his bank account is bigger than his ruthless ability to obtain anything he wants. These days, he has a secret reason to settle down, at least for a while—and he thinks the sensual and sassy Gabi will fit the bill perfectly. But when their marriage of convenience becomes downright dangerous, Hunter must decide how far to take his vow to honor and protect Gabi forever.

Ok, I’ll admit there might have been literal jumping up and down from excitement when I got the email from Catherine Bybee’s assistant wanting to know if I would participate in the upcoming blog tour for her newest book. I’ve been blogging for a while now and still get excited when authors (and their assistants) ask me if i’m interested in reviewing their books, because it lets me know that people do actually read my reviews/blog ;). Double bonus for this one was that I have been working my way through the series in the last couple of months – but I have been trying to savor the books, knowing that one day it would all end (and unfortunately, that day seems to be now (sad panda).

One of the things I like the most about this series was that I didn’t necessarily have to read the books in order (I mean my OCD makes me want to…but you don’t have to)…in fact, I jumped from reading books 1-3, to reading book 7 for the blog tour and while you see the HEA’s for some of the later couples in the series, there was nothing that occurred in those books that caused me to be confused in reading (which is always good, since i tend to get confused very easily at times!) But at the same time, I loved seeing the couples from the first 3 books (that I had read) and how they were still so much in love with each other (considering the fact that the books are all based on a marriage of convenience premise).

I will admit that now that i’ve finished Treasured by Thursday, I have a hard time picking which book (of the 4 I’ve read) feature my favorite couple. Up until yesterday, I would have said the first book, because I was a total Blake/Sam sucker (and love the fact that they renew their wedding vows every year) – but now, I think Gabriella and Hunter might try to push them out of the running (but it could be an interesting battle, that is for sure). Honestly, its hard to describe what i love about Catherine’s writing…she just seems to nail the emotion perfectly and I can rave all day about her (in fact, she is one of my go-to authors for contemporary romance recommendations). I also know that when I sit down to read one of her books that I need to block out at least several hours, because I find it really hard to stop once I start (nothing wrong with that right?)

But on to Hunter and Gabriella – I will admit that I don’t remember Gabriella from previous books, her name doesn’t ring a bell (it could be that she was there, but a minor character, or she could not have been introduced yet – i guess, I’ll find out when i jump back to book 4 in a little while). But when she was introduced and her horrible driving record was brought into the storyline I just laughed (I will admit mine isn’t as bad as hers, but i’ve had a few issues in my time, including a run-in with a deer) – so it was like we were made to be book friends. And as for Hunter, well, i couldn’t help but like him, i mean how many people are honest enough to say they don’t have a lot of close friends (I don’t know many)…

I will admit that i liked how the romance between Hunter and Gabriella was relatively slow to build – they had their ups and their downs and times when as a reader, i wanted to slap both of them upside the head (a la gibbs)…but i think for me that is why i like these books – they show how marriage (be it true love or one of convenience) isn’t necessarily going to the a smooth path, like many romances out there – makes them more believable (for lack of a better word) and shows the individuality that each person brings to the relationship.

It was bittersweet reading the last book in the series (or is it, since she is out of weekdays), knowing that there won’t be any more (as of right now), but i can always hope/dream that maybe a spin-off will occur because i would love to read more (and I’ll be going back to pick up the other 3 books in the series that I haven’t read yet)…Treasured by Thursday got 4 stars from me and I highly recommend it to someone who is looking for a contemporary romance that is sweet and yet sexy at the same time. Fans of Kimberly Kincaid and Tracy Brogan would enjoy.

Bybee PhotoAbout Catherine:
New York Times & USA Today bestselling author Catherine Bybee was raised in Washington State, but after graduating high school, she moved to Southern California in hopes of becoming a movie star. After growing bored with waiting tables, she returned to school and became a registered nurse, spending most of her career in urban emergency rooms. She now writes full-time and has penned the Weekday Brides Series and the Not Quite Series. Bybee lives with her two teenage sons in Southern California.


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Posted by on September 2, 2015 in Blog Hop, Book Review


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Review – Audacity – Melanie Crowder

Author: Melanie Crowder
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

A gorgeously told novel in verse written with intimacy and power, Audacity is inspired by the real-life story of Clara Lemlich, a spirited young woman who emigrated from Russia to New York at the turn of the twentieth century and fought tenaciously for equal rights. Bucking the norms of both her traditional Jewish family and societal conventions, Clara refuses to accept substandard working conditions in the factories on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. For years, Clara devotes herself to the labor fight, speaking up for those who suffer in silence. In time, Clara convinces the women in the factories to strike, organize, and unionize, culminating in the famous Uprising of the 20,000.
Powerful, breathtaking, and inspiring, Audacity is the story of a remarkable young woman, whose passion and selfless devotion to her cause changed the world.

One of my favorite things to do (if I have the time) at the library is to just browse the new releases/new purchases shelf and see if there is anything that catches my eye. While I was looking at the young adult shelf a couple of weeks ago, there was something about Audacity that made me pick it up. I can’t explain exactly what it was, but the cover caught my eye, as did the brief description on the book flap – so I said, what the heck and added it to my stack of books. I will say that I didn’t look close enough to realize it was a novel told in verse until I got home (not that that’s bad, it just took me by surprise) – but since I have read/enjoyed books told in that format before, I figured I would enjoy it and I wasn’t wrong.

Audacity tells the story of Clara Lemlich, a young Russian immigrant who became involved in the rise of labor unions in the early 1900’s. I had never heard of her until this book, but now I want to read more about her. I knew a little bit about the establishment of the unions in NYC during that time period, and a bit more about the Triangle Fire which occurred during that time period – but it’s not one that i’ve really studied (and honestly, don’t really remember it being covered in any of the US history courses I took in college). I thought this went well with my idea to read books about different women in history and how they contributed (as a follow-up to listening to The Invention of Wings, about the Grimke sisters). Clara Lemlich lived up to this quote that I love, “well-behaved women rarely make history” – even from a young age she wasn’t destined to be the meek mannered female that she was expected to be – she pushed all the boundaries that were available to her – wanting to learn more, do more and be more – not just being settled with her lot in life.

I found that the novel told in verse approach was something unique to historical fiction – i honestly don’t know how popular it is, I know its the first time i’ve come across it in this genre (my other experiences with it have been for contemporary/realistic fiction writings). I kind of want to see if I can find more like it because it was really well done. The pages and segments of the book flowed well between the different events that occurred in Clara’s life, including not only her union work, but also events in her life prior to that. I’m intrigued to not only read more by this author, but also more about the time period in history.

This is a book that I would recommend to adults and teens alike, its written in a way that teens would find it enjoyable, as well as adults and for adults, it may cover a slice of history that you aren’t familiar with. Overall, I gave Audacity 4 stars and intrigued to read more by the author in the future.

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Posted by on August 6, 2015 in Book Review, Review


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Review – Just One Taste – Kimberly Kincaid

23433952Just One Taste
Author: Kimberly Kincaide
Series: #4.5 in the Pine Mountain series
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Review Copy Provided by Publisher

A little home improvement can go a long way…

Jesse Oliver was a medic in Afghanistan, but back home in Pine Mountain he’s happy to switch gears as the Double Shot bar’s new sous chef. When his apartment floods and his old Army buddy offers the family’s dilapidated lake house as temporary quarters, Jesse thinks a little remodeling on the creaky duplex sounds like a fair return favor. That’s before he sets eyes on the gorgeous woman moving into the other side of the cabin—and discovers she’s his buddy’s kid sister, a.k.a totally off limits.

Kat McMarrin has fought hard for her space, and she’s not too interested in sharing it. Of course, her job as a physical therapist means she won’t see much of Jesse, even if he’s a few thin floorboards away—unless she seeks him out. And with his sculpted body and slow-burn gaze, she might be tempted. Maybe the fixer-upper projects she has planned for the cabin will keep her mind off him. Or maybe her instincts to strip the place down will get out of hand…

Normally I glom Kimberly Kincaid’s books as soon as I get my hot little mitts on them, but for some reason, I didn’t jump into Just One Taste as soon as I got my copy. Looking back now, I am thankful for that, because one Sunday when I was stuck in bed feeling cruddy, I had a favorite author that I could read – which always makes you feel better. This was a cute/short entry into the Pine Mountain series and was just what I needed.

We previously meet Jesse in the last book of the series and knew that he had some secrets/background that he didn’t necessarily want to talk about and I remember after reading the last book, I was like, I want to know more about him. I will also admit that I’m a sucker for friend/sister (or friend/brother) type romances, mostly because there is that idea of the idea of a hands-off type approach (meaning does any brother want their friend dating little sister…). But Kat wasn’t the meek heroine that seems so present in many contemporary romances today – in fact she was uber-smart and not scared to show it (and you could tell that Kimberly had done her research into the educational background that Kat possessed because it rang true to me). The conflict between Kat and Jesse was intriguing and I totally sided with Kat on the need for own space (that’s why i’ve not had roommates since college). But seeing the relationship develop between the two of them was a fun ride and I enjoyed how they had multiple points of intersection in their lives before they ended up staying in the same cabin.

Just One Taste had Kimberly’s trade-mark sassy dialogue and witty humor, as well as steam resulting smexy scenes. I’m just disappointed to know that this series is wrapping up soon (even if I know she’ll have other books coming out). If you want a smexy handyman type romance, with an extremely smart heroine, then Just One Taste might be the book for you.


Posted by on July 23, 2015 in Book Review


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Review – Trouble on Tap – Avery Flynn

25465775Trouble on Tap
Author: Avery Flynn
Series: #3 in the Sweet Salvation Brewery
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Review Copy Provided by Publisher

What fun is life without a little bit of trouble?

Retired supermodel and forever wild child Olivia Sweet is nothing but trouble. The youngest Sweet triplet is back in her hometown, but instead of a triumphant return it’s a parade of humiliations. She’s broke, homeless and dealing with the fallout from her scumbag ex-boyfriend publishing naked pictures of her to a revenge porn website.

Staid and stalwart veteran Mateo Garcia has seen more trouble than a man ever should in his lifetime. He’s gone from pretty boy Marine to a small town police chief with a chip on his shoulder and scars covering the left side of his face. Now his former lover, Olivia, is back in town and living next door.

When the two are forced to work together to fix up the crumbling veterans’ center, the sparks fly between the beauty and the man who sees himself as a beast. Not everyone is happy that Olivia is back home though and Mateo has to choose between the town who wants her gone and an uncertain future with a woman who he thinks could never love him…

There are always series that I am sad to see end and the Sweet Salvaltion Brewery is one of them. Over the last year, I have highly enjoyed the adventures of the Sweet sisters, but I kept waiting for Olivia’s story – I guess because she is the wild child and while I am more similar to Natalie as a character, I harbor an inner wild child (or at least, I think I do). And i’m a sucker for second chance romances, so Trouble on Tap hit all my happy spots. I will admit that I am honestly trying not to go all fangirl on my review because this book was what I needed after a series mediocre reads.

I think what I enjoyed the most about Trouble on Tap was seeing Olivia’s struggle to find her place in the world. As a former model she had been top of her career and then having to make a transition and essentially start over again – its something that many of us have to face – be it a new job, transitioning from the military (like Mateo) or any other kind of scenario where a major change occurs. I found her struggle to be real in a way that was almost scary to me. I saw so much of myself in that struggle from when I changed career fields a few years ago – that idea of how/where are you going to land and will I/you succeed?

And Avery did a great job of continuing the theme of small town hatred for the Sweet sisters – I felt so bad for all of them throughout the series. Maybe because I grew up in a small town and know how they operate, but everything just hit home – the behavior of people to those they consider outsiders (in my home town, if you didn’t have a certain last night it didn’t matter what you or your family did to contribute)…it was almost like at times, Avery was channeling some of my experiences growing up.

I loved the relationship between Mateo and Olivia and how they reconnected. There is something about a wounded solider realizing that they aren’t just their injuries that makes them attractive. That Olivia was able to look past his injuries and see him for the guy she loved way back when (even if he had been a dick to her)…

Trouble of Tap was a roller coaster of emotions for me (thanks Avery!) but I don’t regret it for one second. I would say make sure you have time to sit down and read, because if you are anything like me, once you start, you’ll read through to the end (and that made for a sucky day at work the next day). I gave Trouble on Tap 4 stars and am sad to see the series end (although hopefully my craving for Pecan Pie will now disappear – since I don’t even like the stuff!).

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Posted by on July 16, 2015 in Book Review


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Review – Finding Fisher – Dakota Madison

finding fisherFinding Fisher
Author: Dakota Madison
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Review Copy Provided by Author

Franklin Smith was the perfect fiancé. He was at the top of our class at Stanford and had been recently accepted to Harvard Law. But Spring Break our senior year of college changed everything. He went back home to New Jersey and never returned. At his funeral I discovered a guy I never knew. His secret past. And a twin brother, Fisher, I didn’t know existed.

For me, this was one of those books where I went into it expecting something totally different than I got – not that that is entirely bad. When I was reading the description, I saw there was a note from the author stating that donations were going to go towards supporting a non-profit providing housing support to individuals with AIDS in Atlanta, so that combined with the fact that several people on goodreads had tagged this as a mm romance, rather than a mf one…I was quite surprised to find out that the main character was a college aged female named Chloe…(which even now reading the description gives no clues away). That being said, I really enjoyed the premise of the story – a significant other with a secret and what happens when it all goes wrong.

This was a relatively quick read (less than 200pgs), but I thought the author managed to pack a lot of plot into that relatively short period of time. There was a well-defined beginning/middle and end (which is often a gripe of mine when it comes to shorter novellas) and all of the characters seemed to be well-rounded and developed rather than one-dimensional. I found myself sucked into Chloe’s feelings as she discovered everything that she had known for the last few years had been a lie. I will say that I thought my biggest issue with the book was how quickly Chloe seemed to move on with her life – I get that she wasn’t married to Franklin, but even then, everything just seemed to go too quickly – I actually wish that there had somehow been a bit of a time delay – yet, at the same time, I think that would have potentially ruined the flow of the novel.

This was the first book that I have read by Ms Madison, but it wasn’t be the last. I found that her writing was solid and very relatable. Overall, I gave Finding Fisher 4 stars and found it to be a solid weekend read.

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Posted by on July 9, 2015 in Book Review


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Review – Before I Fall – Jessica Scott

before I fallBefore I Fall
Author: Jessica Scott
Series: #1 in the Falling series
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Review Copy Provided by Publisher

Stay focused. Get a job. Save her father’s life.

Beth Lamont knows far too much about the harsh realities of life her gilded classmates have only read about in class. She’ll do whatever it takes to take care of her father, even if that means tutoring a guy like Noah – a guy who represents everything she hates about the war, soldiers and what the Army has done to her family.

Noah Warren doesn’t know how to be a student. All he knows is war. But he’s going to college now to fulfill a promise and he doesn’t break his promises. Except he doesn’t count on his tutor being drop dead gorgeous and distracting as hell. One look at Beth threatens to unravel the careful lies Noah has constructed around him.

A simple arrangement turns into something neither of them can deny. And a war that neither of them can forget could destroy them both.

I’ve been a fan of Jessica Scott’s for over a year now because I love the realism that she manages to inject into all her books. As I warn people when I recommend her stuff, don’t expect a military romance that is full of bunnies and rainbows – you will be disappointed – they are gut-wrenching and realistic, and you will often find yourself going through an emotional roller-coaster (and that is what I love about her stuff). But at the same time, I’m firmly in the skeptical camp about the New Adult (NA) sub-genre of books – mostly because for me, they are a time period that I want to forget (I mean, what woman REALLY wants to be reminded of herself in those years between high school and college). So I will admit that when I saw Jessica was branching off into NA and trying something, I wasn’t sure if I would pick up Before I Fall or not – but when it was offered as a review copy via NetGalley – it just seemed like fate.

In Before I Fall, you meet Beth and Noah – Beth a struggling college student, acting as a primary care-taker of her father (an injured military veteran) and Noah, a former Army soldier, now pursuing a college degree. From the get-go, I was pull into the trials and tribulations of Beth and her struggles. I will admit that compared to her other books, Before I Fall, was much more in your face (as the reader) for highlighting issues with the VA medical system. I mean, you hear from veterans and in the media how much it is broken, but Jessica was able to elevate the level of horror I felt to mind-boggling. As a former Navy member, I just don’t get it and I guess I should thank my lucky stars every day, that I haven’t been forced to use their services yet.

Its always hard for me to peg what exactly I love about Jessica’s writing – its not only the realism that she brings to her books, but also the emotions. So many books nowadays just leave me feeling empty because I don’t experience the emotional connection – but I do with her books (and often will read it in a single sitting, or very soon after). Before I Fall did have a high level of angst, mostly inter-personal with Beth and her father; and Noah and his PTSD, and less on the Beth/Noah front – that I appreciated – although there were a few places, where I just wanted to reach out and shake her because I expected her to know better based on her experiences. But that being said, Jessica Scott delivered another solid read and I’m intrigued enough to want to pick up the second one in this series (as well as read her other new series). Before I Fall got 4 stars for me, but as a warning – make sure you have a box of tissues nearby while reading – you may need them.

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Posted by on May 21, 2015 in Book Review


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