Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday (#235): Shadowsong by S. Jae-Jones

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week, I'm featuring:

Shadowsong by S. Jae-Jones
Book Two of the Wintersong series
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Publication Date: January 30, 2018

Summary (from Goodreads):

Six months after the end of Wintersong, Liesl is working toward furthering both her brother’s and her own musical careers. Although she is determined to look forward and not behind, life in the world above is not as easy as Liesl had hoped. Her younger brother Josef is cold, distant, and withdrawn, while Liesl can’t forget the austere young man she left beneath the earth, and the music he inspired in her. 

When troubling signs arise that the barrier between worlds is crumbling, Liesl must return to the Underground to unravel the mystery of life, death, and the Goblin King—who he was, who he is, and who he will be. What will it take to break the old laws once and for all? What is the true meaning of sacrifice when the fate of the world—or the ones Liesl loves—is in her hands?

I've read Wintersong. I desperately wanted a sequel. But y'all, I'm mostly here for this book's COVER. Holy guacamole, it is gorgeous! We thought Wintersong's cover was breathtaking! *dead*

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Blog Tour and Giveaway: A Most Unlikely Duke by Sophie Barnes

Welcome to the blog tour for A Most Unlikely Duke, book one of a brand new series by Sophie Barnes. I've read this book and I enjoyed it. If you like historical romance novels, don't miss this new one!

About the Book:

A Most Unlikely Duke by Sophie Barnes
Book One of the Diamonds in the Rough series
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: June 27, 2017

Summary (from Goodreads):

He never thought he'd become a duke, or that the secrets of his past would cost him his greatest love... 

Raphe Matthews hasn’t stepped foot in polite circles since a tragedy left his once-noble family impoverished and in debt. The bare-knuckle boxer has spent the last fifteen years eking out an existence for himself and his two sisters. But when a stunning reversal of fortune lands Raphe the title of Duke of Huntley, he’s determined to make a go of becoming a proper lord, but he’ll need a little help, and his captivating neighbor might be just the woman for the job…

After her sister’s scandalous match, Lady Gabriella knows the ton’s eyes are on her. Agreeing to tutor the brutish new duke can only lead to ruin. Although she tries to control her irresistible attraction to Raphe, every day she spends with him only deepens her realization that this may be the one man she cannot do without. And as scandal threatens to envelop them both, she must decide if she can risk everything for love with a most unlikely duke.

About the Author:

Born in Denmark, Sophie Barnes spent her youth traveling with her parents to wonderful places all around the world. She's lived in five different countries, on three different continents, and speaks Danish, English, French, Spanish, and Romanian. But, most impressive of all, she's been married to the same man three times—in three different countries and in three different dresses.

When she's not busy dreaming up her next romance novel, Sophie enjoys spending time with her family, swimming, cooking, gardening, watching romantic comedies and, of course, reading.

The Excerpt:

London, 1818

Thick clouds darkened to shades of gray as they rolled across the London sky. Beneath them, standing in the middle of the Black Swan courtyard, Raphe Matthews drew back his fist, his muscles bunching tightly together—just long enough for him to assess the angle and speed with which to release all that power. Instinct made it a brief calculation. Less than a second, and then he sent his fist flying. The punch snapped his opponent’s face sideways, producing a spray of spit and blood that painted the air with specks of crimson. A cheer erupted from those who’d come to witness the fight—a motley selection of hardened individuals. This place was not for the weak or the wealthy. It reeked of filth and the daily struggle to survive. This was St. Giles, but it might as well have been the bowels of hell for all the difference it made.

“Come on!” someone shouted.

Raphe’s other fist met a hard chest with a crunch. His knuckles ached, the force of the punch vibrating through him.

“Matthews, Matthews, Matthews . . .” The chant shook the air while Raphe shifted his footing, regaining his balance just in time to accept the blows that followed. He didn’t mind, for it only revealed his opponent’s sudden desperation.

Raising his fists to block the attack, Raphe bobbed to the side, turning away, just out of reach. And yet, he was close—so close he could smell the sweat on the other man’s skin, see the fear that shone in his eyes, the beads of moisture clinging to his hair that dripped onto his brow.

More shouts flooded the air, drowning him in a cacophony of unintelligible noise. The wave of encouragement shifted, alerting him that support had changed—no longer in his favor.

Forcing it into the background, Raphe focused on the man he was meant to beat. Today his name was Calvin Butler. Raphe launched himself forward, surrendering to the rage, and let the punches fly, beating back pain and anger until Calvin Butler lay stretched out on the ground, hands covering his face in surrender. A fleeting second of silence passed, just long enough to be sure of the outcome, and then the spectators sent up a roar in response to Raphe’s victory.

Exhausted, he stumbled back, a light drizzle dampening his skin. A coat was draped over his shoulders while Butler was helped to his feet—a sorry sight, with his blackened eye and swollen lip distorting an otherwise handsome face.

Turning away, Raphe pushed his way in the direction of the taproom. All he wanted right now was a drink. Fast.

“Butler ain’t lookin’ too good,” Raphe’s friend, Benjamin Thompson, said as he came up beside him. A couple of inches shorter than Raphe, his green eyes were a handsome complement to his ginger hair and freckles. He was without a doubt the kindest and most dependable person Raphe knew, besides his own sisters. Together, they made their way to the bar, where Ben promptly called for a server. “Give us a couple o’ pints.”Resting his elbows on the counter, Raphe grunted his response to Ben’s question. “He knew what ‘e was in fer.”

Ben nodded. The beer arrived, and both men took a healthy swig. “Ye could ‘ave been gentler, though. The man was done. No need to keep beatin’ at him like that.” Stilling, Raphe slid his gaze toward his friend. “I couldn’t ‘elp it.” The rage had burned its way through him, driving him forward and filling his mind with one singular purpose: The need to win. “I don’t know ‘ow to fight any other way.”

“I know,” Ben said softly. No, you don’t. You have no bloody idea.

In this, he’d never been completely honest, not even with Ben. “In any case, the blunt’s pretty good—lets me keep a roof over me sisters’ heads.”

“Aye, an’ a decent one at that.”

Raphe couldn’t argue. He’d visited Ben’s home once—an overcrowded single room that he shared with his parents and five siblings. By comparison, Raphe and his sisters lived like royalty. “Have ye ever thought of gettin’ out of this place? Out of St. Giles?”

Ben shrugged his shoulders. “An’ go where?”

“Somewhere better. Christ, Ben, anywhere’s betterthan this. Ye’re a likeable man. Ye could probably snatch up a job at one of ’em fancy ‘ouses in Mayfair.”

His friend snorted. “An’ ‘ave some nob lookin’ down on me, demandin’ I polish ‘is boots—or worse, empty ‘is chamber pot? I’d rather stay by the docks, thank ye very much. At least there I can take some pride in me work.”

“Understood. But the pay there’s never goin’ to afford ye with yer own home. Don’t ye wish to marry one day?”

“Sure. But there’s a limit to what I’m willing to do for a bit of blunt, Raphe.” He took another sip of his beer. “I’ll not lose me dignity by workin’ for a class o’ people I can’t abide, nor by lowerin’ meself to doin’ demeanin’ work.”

The words speared Raphe to his soul, filling him with shame. “I know,” he muttered with admiration. If only he could be more like him, not wanting anything beyond what life had tossed his way. Perhaps, if he didn’t have his sisters to consider, he wouldn’t care so much.

The Giveaway:

Monday, June 26, 2017

Review: Prom Queen by Katee Robert

Prom Queen by Katee Robert
Book Three of the Bad Boy Homecoming series
Publication Date: June 27, 2017
Rating: 4 stars
Source: eARC from NetGalley

Official Summary:

A high school reunion is about to get down and dirty and a whole lot more complicated in this new erotic romance from NYT Bestselling Author Katee Robert.

Jake Davis had it all in high school—a scholarship to his college of choice, a promising football career, and the gorgeous prom queen for a girlfriend. And then he lost it all when he was injured right after graduation. Ten years later, he’s mostly made his peace with that, and now runs a company that provides women with dates for special events. Imagine his surprise when he discovers that the ex who left him in the dust needs a fake boyfriend for their high school reunion…

Jessica Jackson used to be the mean girl to end all mean girls. But life didn’t turn out like she’d thought it would, and now she’s twenty-eight, single, and works as an insurance agent to A-listers instead of being the A-lister like she’d always dreamed. She can’t go back to her home town and admit just how thoroughly she’s failed, so she lets her friends set her up with a fake date for the reunion.

The second Jessica realizes that her fake date is Jake, she tries to call the whole thing off. The problem is the chemistry between them is even hotter now than it was when they were teenagers. Against her better judgment she lets herself get drawn into Jake’s arms again—and into his bed. But time doesn’t heal all wounds—sometimes, it actually makes them worse—and if Jessica and Jake can’t learn to forgive each other, their second chance might not last the weekend.

What I Liked:

At first glance, this doesn't look like a book for me. I typically don't read or like second-chance romances, though this year I have read more second-chance romance novels than I think I ever have, in my life. Second-chance romances are usually really angst-ridden and filled with hurt, so I like to avoid them. But I adore Katee Robert - she is one of my favorite adult romance authors - so I knew I would be reading this book, regardless of the romance trope. I ended up enjoying the book!

The story starts with Jessie's roommates talking her into going to her ten-year high school reunion. They know she doesn't want to go alone, due to how terrible of a person she was back in high school, so they "buy" her a date who will be by her side but won't be doing anything else. What Jessie doesn't know is that her ex-boyfriend, Jake Davis, is the creator and owner of that company. When Jake sees Jessie's application, he decides to be the one to be Jessie's date. She doesn't know he is the owner, and she is very surprised to see him waiting for her at the airport. With a day left before the reunion, the pair decides to go through with the arrangement, especially since Jessie will need all the help she can get at the reunion. But the chemistry between them hasn't diminished in the ten years they've been broken up, and they'll have to decide if this reunion weekend is enough.

I'll start with Jake because he is the best part of this book! He was a football star in high school, but a car crash left him injured in the shoulder and so he didn't get drafted or play ball in college. And Jessie dumped him right after his injury (because she was superficial and scared like that, back then). Jake is really sweet and understanding to Jessie, even though she really doesn't deserve it. Ten years is a long time to let things go and stomach the bitterness, and even though Jake is still angry and hurt over what happened, he forgave Jessie. Jake is a good guy, and a great human being. I would make sure never to have an ex like him, because he is worth keeping. A good guy, you know?

Jessie, on the other hand, was a terrible person in high school. She says she was worse than Regina George, and Regina was a horrible person. Usually I would hate heroines like Jessie, but it's clear that after ten years, Jessie isn't the same brat/b***h she was. I wanted to hate her, and I wanted to see her suffer more (especially after how she broke up with Jake when they were teens), but I also felt bad for her, and felt for her, in general. She has a Tragic Backstory, and it's no excuse for how she treated people, but I understood her, if nothing else. Also, I would have hated past Jessie, but I would get along with present Jessie.

The tension and chemistry in this book is seriously scorching! Jake and Jessie never lost their spark, even though ten years passed. This book is relatively short but there are several very hot and very well-written sexy times. I love how creative Robert is with these scenes - I feel like it'd be easy to fall into a repetitive pattern, when you write so many romance novels, but Robert never falls in this trap. And her books' sex scenes are always hot, and unique.

The whole high school reunion thing is a great backdrop for this book (and series)! And the fake date thing is one of my favorite tropes (fake date, fake boyfriend, fake fiancee, etc.). I loved how Jake and Jessie were forced together in multiple scenarios of the story, especially when Jake and Jessie had to stay in her old room in her parents' house, because she told her family she was bringing a date. You already know this arrangement led to some really steamy times!

Like I said about Jessie, I should have hated her, based on her high school past. But one of the things she wanted to accomplish, by coming to the reunion, was making amends. To Jake, but also to her former "friend" Leah Camacho (they weren't really friends, but then, Jessie never had real friends in high school, except Jake). The reunion, as expected, is a nightmare, and for several different reasons. But it was a very symbolic event, and I think Jessie got what she needed from it.

I liked this book and I could definitely see myself rereading it! I hope to have the chance to check out the other Bad Boy Homecoming books, especially since they are all linked. Maybe Drew's book, Trouble, since he is Jessie's brother!

What I Did Not Like:

This is going to sound terrible but I wanted Jessie to feel slightly more guilty about dumping Jake, especially since they had the fake date arrangement going on! The ending is a HEA and I liked how Jessie's mother gives Jessie a kick in the pants, but I sooooo wanted to see Jessie do some serious groveling. Oh well! They both did some apologizing, which was fine with me.

Would I Recommend It:

This book will not disappoint any Katee Robert fan. I feel like I am never disappointed by her. If you like hothothot contemporary romance, give any of her books a chance! This one included. 


4 stars. This series is such a fun idea and I can't wait to check out the other books! Prom Queen did not disappoint and I'm sure the others won't either. 

Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!

Blog Tour and Giveaway: Prom Queen by Katee Robert

Welcome to the release week blog tour promotion for Prom Queen by Katee Robert! This new novel by Katee Robert is part of a five-book series, each book written by a different author. You can check out my review of Prom Queen HERE

The Interview:

Alyssa: Hi Katee! Welcome to The Eater of Books! My first question - did you go to prom?

Katee: Nope! I was 100% pregnant for prom and dating an older guy, so I just skipped it.

Alyssa: How did the idea for this series come to be? (i.e. five authors writing five companion novels that make up a series)

Katee: It was all Avery Flynn and Carrie Ann Ryan. They came up with the concept, and I was seriously thrilled for the invite. From there, we all picked high school character tropes and ran with it.

Alyssa: How did you come up with the idea for your book specifically?

Katee: I knew I wanted to write a former mean girl prom queen who has to come home and face all the people she was horrible to—and the former star quarterback boyfriend who she dumped like yesterday’s trash after an injury ruined the “perfect” future they’d planned together. From there, it was a matter of coming up with a worst case scenario for her. She’s single, She hasn’t accomplished anything she said she would when she blew out of town with two middle fingers in the air. She’s a mess.

So she books a fake date to bring to her ten year reunion so she doesn’t have to face that embarrassment on her own…except that ex-boyfriend she left behind? Yeah, he owns the company she booked with. So HE shows up as her date to get a little revenge, and things promptly spiral out of control.

Alyssa: I see you like ""J"" names! How did you come up with those - any specific inspiration?

Katee: I totally picked the most “it” couple names I could think of. Jessica and Jake sound like that couple you’d see walking down the high school halls with their hands in each other’s pockets, or after the football game with her in her cheerleading outfit and him in his letterman’s jacket. I normally pick names individually, but because I was looking for a specific feel, I picked theirs as a pair for this book.

Alyssa: What's your favorite adult second-chance romance?

Katee: I have so many! But for contemporary, it’s probably Megan Erickson’s Dirty Thoughts. It’s such a great book!

Alyssa: Ahhh, I loved that book a lot. Thanks for stopping by, Katee!

Katee: Thanks for having me!

About the Book:

Prom Queen by Katee Robert
Book Three of the Bad Boy Homecoming series
Publication Date: June 27, 2017

Official Summary:

A high school reunion is about to get down and dirty and a whole lot more complicated in this new erotic romance from NYT Bestselling Author Katee Robert.

Jake Davis had it all in high school—a scholarship to his college of choice, a promising football career, and the gorgeous prom queen for a girlfriend. And then he lost it all when he was injured right after graduation. Ten years later, he’s mostly made his peace with that, and now runs a company that provides women with dates for special events. Imagine his surprise when he discovers that the ex who left him in the dust needs a fake boyfriend for their high school reunion…

Jessica Jackson used to be the mean girl to end all mean girls. But life didn’t turn out like she’d thought it would, and now she’s twenty-eight, single, and works as an insurance agent to A-listers instead of being the A-lister like she’d always dreamed. She can’t go back to her home town and admit just how thoroughly she’s failed, so she lets her friends set her up with a fake date for the reunion.

The second Jessica realizes that her fake date is Jake, she tries to call the whole thing off. The problem is the chemistry between them is even hotter now than it was when they were teenagers. Against her better judgment she lets herself get drawn into Jake’s arms again—and into his bed. But time doesn’t heal all wounds—sometimes, it actually makes them worse—and if Jessica and Jake can’t learn to forgive each other, their second chance might not last the weekend.

Check out the series:

(Click on the image to go to Goodreads!)

About the Author:

New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Katee Robert learned to tell her stories at her grandpa’s knee. Her 2015 title, The Marriage Contract, was a RITA finalist, and RT Book Reviews named it 'a compulsively readable book with just the right amount of suspense and tension."  When not writing sexy contemporary and romantic suspense, she spends her time playing imaginary games with her children, driving her husband batty with what-if questions, and planning for the inevitable zombie apocalypse.

The Excerpt:

Taking a fortifying breath that did nothing to fortify, she scrolled through her texts to find the number that had shown up last night. The words were short and to the point.

I’ll pick you up at the airport.

Nothing there to tell what kind of man she’d ended up with, and she’d been too cowardly to text back anything other than a generic agreement. Now there was nothing left to stall with. Jessica hitched her purse higher up on her shoulder and headed through security. The big red line tiled into the floor was a point of no return in so many ways. Why did I think this was a good idea?

Her mama didn’t raise a coward, though, so she lifted her chin and marched forward. No matter who this guy was, she’d faced down worse. She’d been worse. It couldn’t be more horrifying than the Miss Texas Teen USA pageant of 2005 where that little brat Misty Brennan cut holes into her dress and she didn’t realize it until she was out on stage and had her pink polka dot bra showing to the audience and God. Jessica had powered through that and walked out with second place, and she’d power through this, too.

She joined the people from multiple flights crowded around the baggage claim, her body practically vibrating from nerves. The scent of too many people in too little space assaulted her, but she was more focused on the faces she didn’t recognize from the plane. Too many, all filtered in with the travelers—there was no way she’d be able to pick him out of the crowd. Her date had her picture, so he’d have to be the one to approach. What if he doesn’t? What if this is just karma giving me one last kick in the teeth?

Oh, for God’s sake, stop being so dramatic.


A thrill shot down her spine, quickly eaten up by a dread so strong, she wished the ground would open and swallow her whole. She shot a look at the nearest exit, but if she took off now, she’d have to admit that she fled instead of turning and facing her Number One Nightmare.

Jake Davis.

Praying she was wrong, she turned slowly to face him. Nope. That was definitely Jake Davis, ex-quarterback, ex-boyfriend, just all around ex when it came to Jessica. And he was definitely way better in real life than he’d been in the pictures she’d seen while she was creeping on him. Her heart picked up and her body sparked to life in a way it hadn’t in far too long.

Something like ten years.

She was staring. She couldn’t stop. Jessica licked her lips, her breath stalling in her lungs when his green eyes met hers. His eyes had always been one of her favorite features—a true green that brightened depending on what he was wearing, framed with thick, dark lashes that had always made her jealous when she was a teenager. Going by those eyes, Jakes would be judged downright pretty.

At least until you saw the rest of his face. His hair had darkened over the years, closer to brown than blond, and his lantern jaw was covered with… “What the hell is that on your face?”

He blinked, the only outward sign that she’d surprised him.

“Nice to see you too, Jessie.” He touched his scruff. “A lot’s changed since you left.”

Her gaze jumped to his right shoulder. There was no outward sign of the injury that had started the end of it all, but then, he was wearing a light-weight black T-shirt, so it wasn’t like it would show. Focus, Jessica. “What are you doing here? Are you picking up someone for the reunion?” There you go. Nice and casual.

“You might say that.” He kept looking at her like he could see the inside of her head. Another new trick.

She glanced around, trying to be subtle. The baggage claim had started to clear out, and there weren’t any conveniently gorgeous men standing around alone. Where was her date? Now would be the perfect time for him to sweep in and do the job she’d hired him for. “I’m here with someone.”

“I know.”

She frowned. “What are you talking about?” On second thought, escaping Jake before she met her date was probably a better choice. She didn’t want to have to deal with meeting this new guy and trying to pretend they’d been dating forever. And how was she going to explain how she’d magically lost him between getting off the plane and the baggage claim.

Cora’s so-called perfect plan was teetering toward disaster.

“Your order from Diamond Dates.” He gave her a slow, knowing grin that she felt all the way to her toes, and offered his hand. “Jessica Jackson, I’m your date for the reunion.”

Copyright © 2017 Katee Robert

The Giveaway:

Enter for your chance to win one of these fabulous prizes:
One (1) $50 Amazon Gift Card
One (1) Signed Paperback Set of the Bad Boy Homecoming Series
One (1) Prom Queen themed Scented Candle

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Review: Wesley James Ruined My Life by Jennifer Honeybourn

Wesley James Ruined My Life by Jennifer Honeybourn
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Publication Date: July 18, 2017
Rating: 4 stars
Source: ARC sent by the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads):

Sixteen-year-old Quinn Hardwick’s having a rough summer. Her beloved grandmother has been put into a home, her dad’s gambling addiction has flared back up and now her worst enemy is back in town: Wesley James, former childhood friend—until he ruined her life, that is.

So when Wesley is hired to work with her at Tudor Tymes, a medieval England themed restaurant, the last thing Quinn’s going to do is forgive and forget. She’s determined to remove him from her life and even the score all at once—by getting him fired.

But getting rid of Wesley isn’t as easy as she’d hoped. When Quinn finds herself falling for him, she has to decide what she wants more: to get even, or to just get over it.

What I Liked:

This book was adorable! Light, cute, and a quick read - exactly what I needed at this present time. I had a good feeling about this book and I'm glad it went my way. I'm not a huge YA contemporary fan, so I try to be as selective as possible when I read them. This book was worth it!

Quinn life is not so great at the moment. The one bright spot is that she's going to London with her high school's band over the summer, which is going to be awesome, since Quinn has been dreaming of going to London for years. She has to work often at Tudor Tymes restaurant to come up with the money for costs, but it's worth it. With everything else going on, she needs this. Her grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's and the family had to put her in a home. Quinn's parents have been divorced for several years, and her father has not been able to get back on his feet since the divorce. He has no job and is constantly gambling. And then there is the source of all of Quinn's problems - Wesley James, who recently moved back to Seattle, after living elsewhere for five years. Quinn wants to exact her revenge on Wesley, but the more she schemes, the more she falls in love with him. Would it be so bad to fall for the guy whose life you're trying to ruin?

I'm not really big on second-chance romances so I was a tiny bit apprehensive about this one, at first. But it's not a second-chance romance at all. Quinn and Wesley were childhood friends for years, until they were eleven years old, when Quinn and his family moved to Portland. The going-away party was the night that everything changed - in which Quinn and Wesley fought, and then Wesley did the thing that Quinn thinks ruined her life forever. Five years later, Wesley is back, and Quinn still hasn't let go of that grudge.

Quinn is hilarious, even if her rationale was a little misguided. She likes doing things by the rules, which Wesley thinks makes her uptight, and she doesn't really play around. She is stubborn and really good at holding a grudge, which I found more impressive than anything else. I liked Quinn a lot, more than I thought I would. I could relate to her on some level, whether it was her annoyance with the customers in the restaurant, working at the restaurant in general, dealing with a boy she didn't want to see ever again, etc. 

Wesley is a charming sweetheart. Everyone likes him, and it's no surprising, since he is charismatic and fun. He tries very hard to have conversations with Quinn and get along, but she is never having it. Wesley is just as stubborn as Quinn, though in his case, it's persistence. He's a good guy, not a sleazy or douche-y character. I would have loved to meet and fall for a guy like him in high school (or college!).

The romance is kind of there, though there is only one kiss between these two (and it's at the end!). I loved seeing them reconnect in their own way (Wesley trying to make nice, Quinn stubbornly having none of it, circumstances forcing them together, etc.). They have a subtle chemistry that was fun to watch unfold. I wanted more actual swoon, but the romance was cute nonetheless.

The story doesn't just deal with Quinn trying to ruin Wesley's life and her falling for him instead. I like how the focus is also around Quinn's dad (who is broke and jobless and has a gambling problem), Quinn's grandmother (who both Quinn and Wesley loved), and really, Quinn's family in general. Family is an important part of this book, in a subtle way. And Quinn's friendship with her bestie Erin - I loved their relationship! Such a lovely friendship.

I liked the light, humorous tone of this book. So many funny times in Tudor Tymes, or with the band, or in a truck. Lots of serious times too, or moments filled with some yummy tension. But the overall tone of this book is humorous, and I liked that.

This book ended really well, exactly how I was hoping it would end. It's a great ending, one that Quinn deserved. I really enjoyed reading this book and would probably reread it in the future!

What I Did Not Like:

The thing I've noticed about Swoon Reads books is the lack of actual swoon. Where are the scorching kisses? Warm, tight hugs? Almost kisses? KISSES? There was only one kiss between Wesley and Quinn, and it was at the end, and it was very short. More swoon is needed, especially for a cute and chemistry-laden romance like this one!

Would I Recommend It:

I do recommend this book, despite the lack of kisses. If you're a YA contemporary fan, this is a good one to check out. I mean, even if you're not a YA contemporary fan, it's a good one to check out. I like that it was so dense for such a light and compact read. I breezed through it though - it's a very engaging and enjoyable read. So cute!


4 stars. I will definitely be keeping an eye out for more books by Honeybourn in the future. Hopefully more Swoon Reads books, with more swoons. More kissing is always good!

Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Stacking the Shelves (#235)

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews, in which bloggers share the books and swag they've received in the past week!

So, what did I get in the week of Sunday, June 18th to Saturday, June 24th?

(all links to Goodreads are provided!)

In the mail:

This is a cool surprise from Abrams - thank you!

YAY! I had no idea this was coming and I was pleasantly surprised! Thank you very much, PRH!

A bunch of swag, including a What to Say Next sampler, The Forgetting notebook, Warcross sampler, The Forbidden Wish bookmark, and more!

This is actually two trades from the same person - thank you so much, Katharine! She is awesome!

A bunch of buttons

Have I ever mentioned how amazing Jenefer is? Because she is totally amazing. Thank you for another great trade, lady!

Pique Beyond and Eleanor & Park buttons

Thank you, Carrie! More To All the Boys swag for me! Thank you for the trade, Carrie!

AHHHHHH! Thank you so much, Katie! She is the BEST! This was a fantastic trade and I feel so blessed to have worked with her (for a second time) to make this happen. I wish I could have gone to BEA to do this myself but Katie had my back. She is so great!

Hmmm, I think that's all. No ebooks this week, which is probably a good thing. In other news, this week was my first week at my new job! These past few weeks have been a whirlwind of activity - from graduation to vacation to first day of work. It has been so fun and I'm ready to see where this new path takes me. Things have a way of working out! (Trust me, I'm an engineer. 😉 I can officially say that now!)

Friday, June 23, 2017

Review: Returned by Kimberley Griffiths Little

Returned by Kimberley Griffiths Little
Book Three of the Forbidden series
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: February 7, 2017
Rating: 4 stars
Source: Copy won from a giveaway

Summary (from Goodreads):

After tragedy strikes on the day they were to wed, Jayden must support Kadesh as he ascends the throne and becomes king of Sariba. But with the dark priestess Aliyah conspiring to control the crown, and the arrival of Horeb, Jayden’s former betrothed, Kadesh’s kingdom, as well as his status as king, is at stake. 

Jayden knows that the time to be merciful has come and gone, and that some enemies can only be halted by death. Now she and Kadesh must prepare to fight not only for their love, but also for their kingdom.

What I Liked:

You don't come across too many YA books set during Mesopotamia, 1759 BC - or set during any biblical times (or thereabout), really. Forbidden (book one) stood out to me back in 2014 because of the setting. I love historical fiction, but I'd never read a YA series set in this time period and location. I loved Forbidden and Banished, and the author did the series justice with Returned.

Banished ended with Kadesh and Jayden's marriage ceremonies being interrupted, and their marriage contract being stolen. Kadesh is the King of Sariba, and he must strike quickly in order to stop Horeb from stealing his lands and his bride. Meanwhile, the High Priestess Aliyah has stolen something that Jayden wants back, and Aliyah is demanding power and the crown - and she wants Kadesh. A war on all fronts will put Sariba - and Kadesh and Jayden - to the test.

I'll try to be as vague as possible with this review, as this is a conclusion novel. However, you may see light spoilers from Forbidden and Banished. This is a worthy conclusion novel, and it wraps up the series very well. There is a HEA!

This book had more action than the other two (or so it seemed to me), which I loved. It was a lot of high-stakes action so I was constantly on the edge of my seat or biting my nails. Either Jayden was in danger, or Kadesh, or both of them separately, and there was a lot of other important things going on. Jayden kept going on dangerous excursions that drove Kadesh crazy, but I like that he never tried to stop her. Jayden's efforts definitely paid off. 

I adore Jayden - she has grown so much throughout the series. This book really shows her determination and her strength. She stands up for herself as a woman, but also as the (future) queen of Sariba. She hasn't married Kadesh yet so she isn't technically queen yet, but she holds herself like a queen and she also fights alongside her people and Kadesh. Jayden is still sweet and compassionate, but she has become a more assertive, brave woman with a stubborn streak.

Kadesh, on the other hand, has a soft, understanding heart hidden behind a will of iron. He is a capable king and leader, despite all of the obstacles that lay before him and behind him. He thinks of his people and minimizing the effects of the war, and puts himself in last. He is a good strategist and a good man. He's much more than a love interest, as his role as king and commander of his armies is possibly the most important in this book, and in this series. This series may be told in Jayden's first-person POV, but Kadesh is equally as important as Jayden, throughout the series.

As a pair, I love Kadesh and Jayden. This book doesn't focus on the romance but it is always obvious, how much they love each other. It is little things that make their love obvious. Their bond has grown so much strong over the trilogy, despite all impediments. The romance is barely there (i.e. there isn't a ton of on-page chemistry and I-love-yous and kisses), but it is an important part of the story.

This book is action-packed and has a fast pace, so I was never bored. I almost read this book in one sitting, but unfortunately I had to go to bed to get up for work the next morning (aw man!). Given the chance, I would have read this book in one sitting. It's extremely engrossing, especially since the author piles the stakes higher and higher, from the beginning, on top of everything from the previous two books. Very good storytelling by the author!

Speaking of action-packed, the body count is incredible in this book! So many deaths, both in terms of the war, and in terms of characters important to the plot. Some really key people died and I was shocked! All I will say is that Kadesh and Jayden get their happy ending - everyone else is fair game. 

You already know how much I love the setting. There aren't a ton of YA books set in ancient or biblical times, which is a shame. The author did a beautiful job with the world-building and the imagery and the setting. I thought she did her research well and made the culture and customs come to life. I know the author traveled extensively in the Middle East, and to me, it showed.

Overall, this was a wonderful conclusion to the series. I've found that I struggle with YA trilogies for various reasons, and one of the reasons is the quality of the conclusion novel. More often than not, I don't like the conclusion novel. But this conclusion novel was excellent, and well worth the wait (the series in general, too). 

What I Did Not Like:

The only thing I really wanted to see more of was (you guessed it) the romance. I really wanted to see more kisses, more adorable scenes, more sensual scenes, you get the idea. I had a tough time finding a swoony scene that was more than one sentence long, for my weekly Swoon Thursday post. Maybe I wanted the romance to be more present - that would have been nice!

Would I Recommend It:

I recommend this series to anyone who enjoys historical fiction. And desert fantasies, though this isn't really a fantasy novel. It is a desert-set fiction novel, which I loved. It is a YA novel but it is a great crossover novel (and series), for adults who like historical fiction (note the difference between historical fiction and historical romance though). If you read Forbidden, or Forbidden and Banished, keep going! This conclusion novel might be the best of the series (it's hard for me to pick a favorite!). 


4 stars. I've really enjoyed this trilogy and I'm sad to be finished with it! But I'm also really happy with how everything played out, and with Kadesh and Jayden's happily-ever-after. I would love to read whatever YA fiction the author has planned (hopefully something)! If it is anything as intriguing and imaginative as this series, then I'm ready!

Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!