End of the year Signed Giveaway! 4 signed books + 5 non signed books!

I love end of the year posts with lists of favorite books and all of that – so I will be doing one of those next week because I just can’t resist! But this post is not that. Earlier this year I was lucky enough to go to Chicago and go to an incredibly fun book event at a Library with a bunch of really amazing authors. I went specifically because Amy Jo Cousins, Julie James, and Sonali Dev were going to be there and those are three authors I adore. But I was really thrilled to get to see Lori Handeland, Kate Meader,  Julie Ann Walker and more. They had fun panels and overall it was a great day for me since there are not these kinds of things near me in Ohio. The best part about it was getting to talk to the authors one on one. All 3 authors I went to see were incredibly nice and willing to talk to me more than just for about 5 seconds which is how the previous signings I’d gone to had been.

These are the pictures from that day – from L to R – Amy Jo Cousins, Julie James, Sonali Dev. (And yes I’m wearing a shirt about dragons because I’m a big nerd!) Don’t they all just look ridiculously friendly?

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Anyway, I left there with signed books for me and signed books for the blog! Also I won a few books that I planned to give away on here as well. So here’s the list of what I have to give away:

Signed paperback of Suddenly One Summer by Julie James

Signed paperback of A Bollywood Affair by Sonali Dev

Signed paperback of Nothing Like Paris by Amy Jo Cousins

Signed paperback of Girl Next Door by Amy Jo Cousins

NOT SIGNED:

The Girls of Mischief Bay by Susan Mallery

Baby It’s Cold Outside – Christmas Anthology by Jennify Probst, Emma Chase, Kristen Proby, Melody Anne, & Kate Meader

Burn For Me by Ilona Andrews

Hell or High Water by Julie Ann Walker

A New Hope by Robyn Carr

 

So if you’re interested in winning these 9 books just comment either on this blog post or comment on the FB page posts by 12/29 at 5 PM Eastern. Giveaway is US only. Winner will be picked by random.org. Good luck!!

90s Playlist – a romance rewind anthology

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This review is only for The Belle vs. the BDOC

The Belle vs. the BDOC by Amy Jo Cousins
Shelby Summerfield is a gold star lesbian, even if she doesn’t look like one. Florence Truong is the only other dyke at Carlisle College in 1993 not wearing plaid flannel, and Shelby sets her sights on seduction. But instead of a delightful tumble in the sheets, Florence calls her out for being a straight girl. With seduction off the table, Shelby settles for revenge for her humiliation. But if all she wants is to show up her campus rival, how come Shelby can’t stop herself from saving Florence instead of annihilating her?

I didn’t read all of the stories in this anthology yet but I did skip to Amy Jo Cousins The Belle vs. the BDOC because I generally love this author and everything she writes. This wasn’t any different. I haven’t read many f/f stories previously so this was a bit different for me. I really liked the character of Shelby as she dressed very girly and hated when people judges her based on her looks alone. So when Florence does this I loved Shelby’s reaction of incredible anger. Over and over again Florence judges her based on stereotypes. I enjoyed Shelby’s anger turning to indignation and revenge.

Cousins’ books have all been set mainly on college campuses and this one is the same. Part of Shelby’s revenge takes place during a quiz game at a bar and then on campus itself for the majority of the book for a very fun game of Assassin. The chemistry between Florence and Shelby was palpable and to add in the tension of the game made everything, including the romance, heightened.

Shelby was a great, fun loving character. She pursues Florence relentlessly which is fun to watch. The lesbians were accepted without question and that’s always something I love to see.

ARC received in return for an honest review.

4 stars

~ Melinda

Amazon

Level Hands by Amy Jo Cousins

25611509 Rafael Castro is so far out of his element he can’t even see it anymore. Carlisle College in Massachusetts is a long way from his Chicago home, even farther from his Dominican Republic roots.

The only thing keeping him attached to his last nerve is the prospect of seeing Denny Winslow again. The first time they met, Denny taught Rafi to fly across the water, rowing hard in a knife-like boat. Now, two years later, on the wings of a rowing scholarship, Rafi is attending Denny’s elite college.

Even before the excitement wears off, Rafi is struggling with classes and fending off rumors that Denny’s family, not Rafi’s talent, won him his spot. To quash the gossip, Rafi tries to steer clear of the man he wants. A plan that evaporates in the fire of renewed attraction.

But Carlisle’s academic pressure cooker has Rafi barely treading water. And when a family crisis hits, both Rafi and Denny must pull hard to keep their relationship from capsizing in rough waters.

I love Amy Jo Cousins’ books, just in general and this series – Bend or Break – in particular just kills it specifically. Every book of this series has included characters that have been really real, which sounds so generic to put it like that! But the characters in this series are all struggling with real life issues. It’s pretty common in the New Adult genre to either have characters dealing with issues on either end of the spectrum – real life or total angst filled unrealistic drama (not that real life is not angst filled!). So I love that Amy Jo Cousins’ characters usually are realistic as well as grounded.

Denny and Rafi, who we met in the last book, are no different. Denny, on the one hand, is a reserved kid who is used to having his parents pay for things. He’s been in love with Rafi for a few years since he met him when he ran away from home because he was afraid what his parents would say about him being gay. Denny’s been quietly waiting for Rafi for years. Rafi, on the other hand, struggles with so much when he accepts a rowing scholarship and comes to college with Denny. He’s used to having no money and dealing with issues of social class and racism but he’s not used to trying to deal with that within a potential relationship. Both of these characters seemed so genuine to me because Rafi was so freaking stubborn that at some points I wanted to smack him and say what is wrong with you!? But that is pretty accurate for a normal person I think. Denny’s patience was almost too much and I was happy to see it break so I could see he wasn’t a Saint.

I felt that the author did a wonderful job describing the overwhelming parts of coming to college. Parts of this book dealt with just not being a genius and being able to ace classes right away. It’s been a while since I was in class but she took me right back there instantly. Rafi’s struggle throughout the book with a variety of issues and his evolution just made me want to give him a hug.

This was also the first book I’ve read that had crew as the sport in it and I loved it! Oh and the cover is ridiculously hot – love the arms. I would highly recommend this series (as always) and this entry is a great one.

ARC provided in return for an honest review.

4.5 Stars

~Melinda

Amazon

B&N

Review + Character Interview: The Girl Next Door by Amy Jo Cousins

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I’m so excited because Cash from The Girl Next Door agreed to stop by and answer some questions for me.

Hi Cash, thanks for joining me here and answering a few questions for me!
Since we saw you last you your life changed a lot which was really surprising to see at first. One of those major changes included moving away, on your own, to Chicago. What was your favorite and least favorite thing about living in Chicago?

Chicago totally rocks. My one favorite thing? Gaaaaahhhh, I can’t pick just one! The lake is awesome and the people are super cool. I got my favorite tamale guy. Ooh, there’s a giant sculpture fountain thing downtown where you can splash around in this really shallow pool of water. It’s mostly kids who do it, but dude, taking off your shoes and stomping around in a giant puddle on a hot day? Nothing better. I got Steph so wet when we went there. *pauses, laughs at your gigglesnort* I meant I splashed her! Jeez. Mind. Gutter. But yeah, that’s awesome in the summer. Um, least favorite thing? When my window AC unit breaks down in July. I don’t know if Chicago was built on a swamp or what, but man, it gets fricking humid and hot here. You can sweat your balls off.

First your best friend came out to you a few years ago and you became really good friends with his boyfriend. Then you became friends and even friends with benefits with Steph who’s bisexual and now your rather young cousin who is newly out shows up on your doorstep in Chicago. What do you think it is about you that draws people to you?

*looks down, scratches his head* Aw, I don’t know, man. The world is full of people who are dicks sometimes, you know? I try not to be a dick. I think my friends know I got their backs and, like, there’s nothing they can tell me that’s gonna make me not like them. I mean, except if they’re, I don’t know, serial killers or something. I got limits. But being gay or bi or whatever? No biggie. People who freak out about that are scared, maybe. And I get it. It was weird at first. I mean, dudes kissing was all gross, no way, dude for me at first. But now I’m like, “Yo, get off your boyfriend. We’re playing Call of Duty here.” *shrugs* Don’t be a dick. That’s a good rule.

Speaking of Steph, she’s pretty badass, which makes me kind of love her. What did you miss the most about her when you weren’t in contact?

*turns pink* I’m maybe not gonna say the first thing I thought of here, okay? But seriously, Steph is just…awesome. She’s a badass who doesn’t take my shit. Or anyone’s shit! She’ll throw down in a heartbeat. But the thing is, she’s really a softie on the inside, so you gotta make sure to take extra care with her. Because it’s easy to think nothing can hurt her, but that’s like the opposite of true. Plus, she makes me laugh my ass off. Oh, and she totally murders songs when she sings in the shower. Don’t tell her I said that. But girl cannot sing. At all. It’s totally great. Cracks me up.

One of my favorite things about you and Steph as a couple is that you listen to each other when it comes to sex and fantasies. And even better is that you indulge them occasionally! Which leads to a ridiculously hot threesome scene with another guy. Do you have any regrets about that and would you do that again?

No regrets, man. None. Nope. That was fucking hot. The thing is, we talked so much about it and we both knew it was totally okay to call it off at any point, so we had, like, a safety net. And that made it super chill. Man, talking about sex is so hot. I’d do that all day long. Would I do a threesome again? Now that I’ve done it, I can see how that kind of thing can go way wrong, so I don’t know. I think the circumstances and the people have to be pretty damn perfect. We got hella lucky. I’m not about fucking up friendships or making my girl feel bad. And Varun moved back home! Which still sucks. I miss that guy. But if we all ended up alone together in a room again? Yeah, things might go down. *laughs* Or up. I don’t know which way sounds dirtier!

Okay, just one silly question for you – if your love story with Steph were going to be made into a movie who would you cast to play her? And who would you cast as you?

Who’s the hottest chick out there? That smoking hot, smiling girl from Game of Thrones, Natalie Dormer. Give her dark hair and shave the side of her head and yeah, she could play a mean Steph. And me? Chris Pratt. That dude’s awesome. He’s funny as hell and has a great ass. That’s me all over. *winks*

Thanks so much for stopping by, I really appreciate it! You’re one of my favorites.

Thanks! You’re totally awesome, too. This was a ton of fun. But seriously, don’t tell Steph I said that thing about her singing in the shower. She’ll kill me.

So obviously I love Cash. He’s just a great character from start to finish. Anyone who has read any review of mine knows I have a thing about covers and this cover is wonderful – featuring such a strong looking woman on it that it’s truly why I wanted to read it immediately. I actually read this completely out of order and fell in love with this book so much that I then went back and read the first two books. Since then I’ve read this another two times and my enjoyment hasn’t changed at all. The cover had almost everything to do with me reading out of order. The Girl Next Door is part of the overall series but works as a standalone. I didn’t feel lost when I read this the first time, I knew what was going on so if you jump right in here don’t worry about that. I will say that you get more enjoyment if you read book 1 though because you’re introduced to both Steph and Cash in that book.

At first I gave this 4 stars but after having this book stick with me for 2 months and recommending it to everyone I know who likes this genre- and people who don’t- I realized it was actually a 5 star read for me. Steph is a complete badass, a complex heroine, which is the kind I love. And Cash I fell in love with in Off Campus where we first met him. He’s hilarious yet tender hearted and so incredibly open minded. This couple is definitely one of my favorites in all of NA and that’s saying a lot with how much I read in this genre.

If he was going to bare his soul, he’d do it with this girl, and no one else, but he’d cop a feel at the same time, because hey, multi-tasking.

This is both a really hot book and a very touching one. Some people have questioned why the author wrote a m/f book in the middle of a m/m series but it worked so well for me. The heroine is bisexual and the hero is best friends with the gay couple from the first book. I think that more and more series having a book be m/m in the middle of a m/f series like Sarina Bowen did and Amy Jo Cousin did here can only make things better and move things along for diversity.

ARC received via Netgalley in return for an honest review.

5 Stars

~Melinda

Amazon

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