Book Review: Something Like Spring by Jay Bell

5199022Okay, so I had to read this. It just seemed fair that I finish? the series, I mean there aren’t any seasons left. But we will see if Bell decides to write anymore with these characters.

In Something Like Spring, we meet Jason, who is a teen going through the foster care system. His caseworker Michelle, who we remember is Jace’s sister, drops him off at his 24th foster home. The Hubbards seem like the ideal family, they’re rich and even willing to adopt. Although he is skeptical, Jason decides to follow the rules and not self-sabotage his chances at having a permanent family. Well, at least he tried being on his best behavior.

Jason is dealing with his homosexuality and it just so happens that the Hubbards, have a biological son, named Caesar who is just down the hall. Yay for temptation!!! Despite the awkwardness of them almost being brothers, Jason falls in love with Caesar. And as luck would have it, Caesar falls for Jason. Once again we are exposed to the innocence and excitement of a young relationship. But we have already read a couple Jay Bell books, and we know damn well where this is going!

To quote Jay Bell himself: Happy couples are boring.

Eventually, Jason grows out of the foster care system and ends up in Austin. Once in Texas, he is put into contact with, yup…you guessed it…Ben and Tim. They are currently in their first year of their revived relationship. They fell in love, fell apart, reconciled, and finally, have a happy and healthy relationship. Despite not being a fan of Tim, they really do appear to be madly in love this time around. Michelle and Tim are friendly towards each other even though her husband, Greg (remember…Jace’s best friend), hates him. Emma, Michelle and Greg’s daughter, is just a happy child who adores both Ben and Tim. It’s not a picture-perfect family, it’s the kind of support system that Jason needs. He’s a young man now, but he is still in need of some guidance.

I wasn’t sure how Jason was going to fit into the series at first, but he ended up becoming a great addition. All he ever wanted was a family, for people to love and to love him back. It was nice seeing this unconventional family through his eyes and watching him grow into a man from it. Tim hate aside, Something Like Spring confirms him and Ben were meant to be together. We know this because Jason flat out tells us, and he has been searching for a love just like theirs.

As for our realist romantic, Jason, he ends up finding a love like Ben and Tim’s. After a little scheming, he lands himself, William. William is great, sweet and loving, and just perfect for Jason. He is everything Jason had been searching for and so much more. But this is also a Jay Bell novel, so don’t let your guard down!

This book was a great read, and thankfully is not as heart wrenching as the others. It has its moments, but I was fully prepared for the worse to happen after every page turn. Jay Bell novels do that to you. If you’re a fan of the series, this a great wrap-up to it.

You weren’t my second choice. You were the right choice.

5/5 stars

~Eddie

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Big Brother by Lionel Shriver

16128105Edison is a Jazz pianist who left home at 17 to go to New York to make it big. His sister Pandora was always the quiet one who loved her brother and enjoyed living vicariously through him. She has always wanted to go unnoticed and live life. She had a successful catering business and loved cooking for her husband and his two children. She then moved on to another very successful business of custom made dolls. While her star was rising, unknown to her, her brothers star had fallen. She gets a call from a friend of her brothers telling her that she needs to help Edison, whom she hasn’t seen in 4 years. In that time Edison has gained over 200 pounds.

Pandora’s husband Fletcher has an over the top view of healthy eating , so much that as healthy as he eats Pandora and his children try not to. Fletcher goes to the point of denying himself anything unhealthy out of spite to his wife. He goes on 50 mile bike rides and pretty much bashes her choice of food.

There is so much plot in this book and I can’t really do justice to it but mostly this book is about food, our unhealthy association with it. This book deals with obesity, extreme diets, under eating, over eating and everything in between

Ms Shriver brings to the table the views of how we eat and to a point, how we taste/not taste what we eat. It also shows how food can alter family dynamics as with Fletcher and his children and with Pandora’s view of her extra 20 pound weight gain. This book deals with siblings as well, how each deal with the way their lives are going. It focuses a lot of how society deals with obesity and how women view their bodies if they aren’t the ideal. This book gets ugly at times emotionally. Sibling rivalry, dysfunctional families, addictive personalities abound in this book but so does love, humor, empathy and compassion. There is just so much going on.

I love Lionel Shriver and I think she did an amazing job highlighting these issues.

5/5 stars

Crash

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Book Review: Breakable by Aimee L. Salter

18585972 Don’t judge a book by its’ cover in this case because while this cover actually does fit this book pretty well I don’t know if a ton of people would automatically want to buy this based just on the cover. However, it’s an interesting read, and one with an intriguing premise, although a little weird. Stacy is a 17 year old girl who looks in the mirror and sees her future self. She’s been talking to herself in the mirror (and having herself talk back) for years now. Meanwhile her social life is a hot mess. She’s been in love with her best friend, Mark, for years but he’s clueless of course. Everyone else at schools bullies her viciously, to the point that Stacy hides herself literally and figuratively in her art.

There are some big pros and some big cons for this one. I really loved how the narrative was set up – the story starts off with Stacy being in an institution and with us having no idea why. A therapist is having Stacy tell her how she ended up in this place so we get to hear everything about the bullying, Mark and her future self from the beginning plus we get the therapist’s questions and input. I’m always a fan of unique ways of presenting the actual story and this felt unique enough. Stacy is hesitant to share her story – she’s been in the institution a while and not exactly there voluntarily.

The other pro for me was how the bullying was presented. That part felt very real to me and I can see this being a book used for teens to learn a lesson. It’s interesting enough and doesn’t come across as being preachy in any way so this would be a good book for parents or teachers to use to have, either in a classroom or just to have their kids read. There are some particularly mean situations presented that weren’t exactly over the top, it seemed to me exactly like the horrible crap I read about in papers all the time.

The cons were definitely here too. While the future self in the mirror gave the book a unique feel to the book the fact that Stacy actually called the being in the mirror “future self” drove me crazy. As in “Future Self, oh future self, come here!” Wouldn’t you give yourself a name or something? Especially considering she was talking to herself in mirrors in public bathrooms too, risking being overheard. And was, in fact, overheard. Multiple times. So this just made me angry -she was obviously a smart girl so why could she not figure out this small fact?

The other con was Mark. Stacy was madly in love with him which was a huge part of the book but I could not really see why. He was a good friend to her, yes, but he was also a douche. He begins to go out with the main bully of Stacy, which makes no sense to me and throughout the book is not explained in any way that satisfied me.

Overall this was a good book and I think it has its’ appeal. The ending was particularly good and I would say the last half was better than the first. For the price I would definitely pick it up.

3.5/5 Stars

~Melinda

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Book Review: Once in a Lifetime by Jill Shalvis

17899855 This is #9 in Jill Shalvis’ Lucky Harbor series and I have only read the first book in this series. Thankfully not reading the others had no affect on this book for me. Set in the small town of Lucky Harbor and having all of the characters interconnected just lent the book a nice history to it, making it feel more like watching a movie that has a back story set up already.

Aubrey is trying to remodel the bookstore she just inherited, wanting to make it an integral part of the town where people can gather to be together. Ben is hired by her Uncle to do some of the construction and the two do not get along well. They bicker all the time and even so Ben finds himself making excuses to be near Aubrey more and more but isn’t sure why. Meanwhile, Aubrey doesn’t have the greatest reputation in the town. She’s misunderstood and considered bitchy and troubled which is more than a little wrong. She’s trying to right these wrongs and having Ben around all the time is making the task a little difficult to accomplish.

This was an adorable and funny light-hearted romance. It was the perfect read for right around Valentine’s day too. Their bickering is cute and slowly gets to the meat of what is bothering both Aubrey and Ben. I wasn’t surprised that the writing was so well done since this is Jill Shalvis and she’s a well established author. Since I haven’t read the other books in the series I can’t say how well this one goes with the rest.

3.5/5 Stars

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in return for an honest review

~Melinda

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Book Review: Cut and Run by Madeleine Urban and Abigail Roux

5199022Okay, so I am super late to the party but thank God I finally showed up!!! I received this book as a gift from my book-dealer to get me a new addiction, and now I’m hooked to the series. I finished the book in two days, and I’m totally jonesing for the next book!

The story starts out with a serial killer loose in New York City, who is doing rather extravagant murders. It’s a difficult case because there is no discerning pattern amongst the killings. The guy has no MO. No preference on who he kills. Nothing. The only way they know he’s a serial killer is because he leaves behind weird tokens, well that, and the fact two FBI agents were killed who were investigating the case. But in all honesty, you’ll most likely figure out who the killer is or at least have a really good guess after a couple chapters.

Figuring out who done it doesn’t detract from the story, at least not for me. The real charm of the book comes from the deliciously complicated relationship of the two main characters: Ty Grady and Zane Garrett. Special agents of the FBI, who take on a whole new meaning to opposites attract.

Ty is cocky, abrasive, and indisputably the best at what he does. But Zane is the perfect image of an agent: serious, sober, and focused, which makes their partnership a classic cliché: total opposites, good cop-bad cop, the odd couple.

And though this type of romance has been done a thousand times, Cut and Run kept it entertaining. The bickering, fighting, playful banter, and sexual tension between the agents were intoxicating. They were continuously at odds, making it extremely difficult for them to work together. There’s even an all-out brawl between them in an alley.  But even then you could sense the want they had for each other.  I found myself constantly wanting them to just kiss and make-up throughout the whole book. Could they put their differences and sexual desires aside and figure out the case? I mean, you did…but could they?

Should I go back to my room tonight?” Ty asked out of the blue. “Or will we be able to work together and fuck each other senseless at the same time?

My only criticism is that Ty and Zane have their fair share of close calls. I mean the killer is after them, resulting in explosions, car wrecks, gunshots, and other dangerous situations. And let me remind you of them beating the shit out of each other in the alley. There are a lot of injuries that occur from these events and although they were both tough, I really thought they should be in hospitals during parts of the story.

Overall, the book was a great read and I will be following the series closely. I highly recommend this series. Ty and Zane are like crack and you should give them a try. Come on, all the cool kids are doing it!

I’ve never made fun of you. Making fun of you would imply that something about you is fun.

5/5 stars

~Eddie

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Book Review: The Party Girl by Tamara Morgan

18365257 I’ve really enjoyed the Tamara Morgan books that I’ve read and this one is definitely no different. This is the third in her Getting Physical series of books but I can attest that they do not need to be read in any particular order. Somehow I picked up the second book first and the first book second, and while the characters are connected they were not so connected that I couldn’t figure out what was going on. It didn’t dampen my reading enjoyment in the slightest.

Kendra Khuso is a highly confident woman who loves her job and is focused mainly on building her business that she’s built with her partners. While her traditional Indian family doesn’t exactly agree with her lifestyle she doesn’t care and chooses to regard men as much more of a casual part of her life. When one of those casual parts of her life, Lincoln, is in trouble and needs her, she doesn’t hesitate to step in and help – thanks to her big heart. She’s introduced to Noah Walker, who lives completely off the grid and is unwilling to act on the lighting bolt of attraction they feel for each other because Lincoln is his best friend and has been in love with Kendra for about a year.

There are quite a few things I loved about this book. First of all Kendra is a character of color, which I consider a great thing as that’s not an extremely common aspect in popular romance novels. However, the cover seemed a little whitewashed for me. I do know that there are always things behind the scenes with getting covers so I have no idea what happened with that. Kendra is a character that is completely confident, high maintenance and loves the plastic surgery that she’s had done. It’s a refreshing change from a more typical self conscious type of woman who wants to change to please the man she’s with. Kendra knows who she is and doesn’t really have that desire to change, which I loved.

The conflict in the book is one that makes sense and is realistic which was another refreshing change of pace. I love reading romance books with plots that could actually happen. Noah is extremely attracted to Kendra but doesn’t want to betray his friendship with Lincoln. Instead of having hijinx and mis-communications ensue, Noah discusses this with Kendra so that everyone is aware of the issues and why there can’t be any relationship between the two. Kendra can’t accept that and doesn’t really understand the way he lives or why he chooses to seclude himself away from everyone.

It was hard to see how these two could make their differences work out. Both are stubborn and like what they like but their attraction to each other is impossible to ignore. There’s a lot of passion and tension building up throughout the book due to that, which is always fun and when it explodes it does so in a spectacular fashion.

I thought this was a very well written, fun book. The ending in particular was great. There is a moment that I really wish I could quote here because it was incredibly sweet and made me actually tear up but I don’t want to give it away. Trust me, you should read this book!

4/5 Stars

~Melinda

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Book Review: The Magpie Lord by KJ Charles

17730586One for sorrow, Two for joy,
Three for a girl, Four for a boy,
Five for silver, Six for gold,
Seven for a secret to never be told.

If Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds left you traumatized, then this is probably not the book for you. There are magpies everywhere. You almost expect Samual L. Jackson to pop out at some point to complain about them.

The story starts with Lucien Vaudrey coming back to London after being exiled to China. His father, who helped drive him away, and his monstrous brother have both committed suicide, granting Lucien a Lordship and leaving him as the sole heir to the Vaudrey’s estate called Piler. As the new Lord Crane, Lucien isn’t really happy about any of this. He hates the estate and the memories it holds. So with the help of Merrik, his faithful butler, he plans to clear up the heritage and get rid of the old estate. Once home, Lucien suddenly finds himself trying to commit suicide under the persuasion of dark magic. Merrick convinces Lucien, who is not fond of witches or sorcerers, to seek help from a shaman in order to save his life.

Enter Stephen Day.  Stephen is a practitioner of magic, small in stature and unassuming in appearance, with expertise in ferreting out the nefarious forces. Picture a cute little ginger. But Stephen also happens to be the son of a man ruined by Lucien’s father. DRAMA!!!

Stephen soon realizes that Lucien is nothing like his father and helps rid the curse. However, it becomes clear that there are powerful things lurking in the shadows that are threatening Lucien’s life. Stephen decides to stay at the estate and help figure what is with the magpies. Enough is enough! I have had it with these motherfucking snakes on this motherfucking plane! Sorry, had to. Stephen also stays because once Lucien starts getting under his skin, he is drawn to the man more and more. He is definitely falling for the charm of the new Lord Crane.

The sexual tension between Lucien and Stephen is probably the most frustrating part of the book.  It is constantly building and you are waiting in anticipation for something happen. They just keep getting interrupted! But don’t worry, wait till you get to the desk scene. Just wait.

The snarky connection and playful banter between the two men is the most enjoyable part of the book for me. Lucien’s dry wit is my favorite part and I related to him immediately. He had so many great comebacks that I wish I would have thought of. And Merrick also had some great parts.

The book was a great read and it sets you up nicely for the sequel. The thing that was a little annoying was that magic sometimes got over-explained. But other than that, I have no real complaints.

What the fuck, what the fucking, bloody devil-shit, what in the name of Satan’s swollen cock was that?

5/5 stars

~Eddie

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