Friday, January 31, 2014

Review: Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo
Book Two of the Grisha trilogy
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Publication Date: June 4, 2013
Rating: 4 stars
Source: ARC won from a giveaway

Summary (from Goodreads):

Darkness never dies.

Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land. She finds starting new is not easy while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. She can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long.

The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her--or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm.

What I Liked:

What. A. Sequel. Wow. It took me long enough to read this one, right? I needed a little push, but I read it and I'm reviewing it, so that's what counts, right? But seriously, I have the worst fear of sequels - especially when the first book was SUPERB. I always think that the sequels are going to be painful (and possibly horrible) - and granted, sometimes, it happens! But the last bunch of sequels that I've read haven't been bad at all! And not too many cliffhangers, which is great.

THIS sequel is pretty amazing. I read Shadow and Bone about or over a year ago, so I'll be honest: I didn't remember too many specific things about the book. I remembered some names and roles and a few major events, but not much. I barely even remembered the climax of the book. HOWEVER, Bardugo does a fabulous job of getting readers back into the story. She actually didn't do too much of reminding readers what happened - she sort of jumped right into this book. It's definitely necessary to read book one, but if you were like me, and couldn't remember basically anything from book one, don't worry! You'll have no problems getting back into the story.

I actually think the summary is kind of vague and doesn't encompass the book very well, but I understand why - it would spoil A LOT if the summary included more general events of the book. Basically, Alina and Mal are on the run from the Darkling. But then he finds them somehow. Alina and Mal must work with a certain privateer and others in order to gather forces and fight the Darkling. But Alina must also gather power for herself, which is dangerous, as it makes her more and more like the Darkling. The stag's horns were just the beginning.

The book is long, but the plot is very active and engaging. Alina and Mal and the story don't just stay in one place. At first, they were in a town far away from the Darkling. Then they were on a ship at sea. Then they were running again from the Darkling - and they were taken to a place where they could get sufficient (hopefully sufficient) help against the Darkling. Vague, yes, but it's on purpose.

I love what Bardugo is doing with Alina. Alina is slowly becoming power-hungry, more and more like the Darkling. I feel like with fantasy novels in YA, in which the protagonist is extremely powerful, don't show this very well. Power brings about selfishness, a sense of entitlement, a sense of dictatorship. Bardugo is doing a very good job of showing this progressive change in Alina. Alina is NOT evil, and yet, as she tries to gain more power to fight the Darkling, she is becoming a little greedy with power. This makes her more like him than she realizes - until she DOES realize it.

This affects everything, including her disposition. She is sometimes cruel, and at times, enjoys the emotional pain of people that she does not particularly like. While I don't like this in Alina, I LOVE that Bardugo makes this an issue in this series. I love the Bardugo is willing to go there, to mess with her protagonist THAT MUCH.

Alina's change in conjunction to her increasing power also affects her relationship with Mal. Ah, yes, I have reached the romance. Alina and Mal are a couple, but as Alina grows stronger as a Sun Summoner, the pair seems to grow apart. Mal doesn't belong in Alina's world, but he belongs with Alina. Conundrum, no? But Alina's power, her role, her alliance with Sturmhond, it takes a toll on Mal. Their relationship is highly tested in this book, and I can't wait to see how Bardugo concludes the romance in this series.

In Shadow and Bone, one of the things I hated was that there was potential for a love triangle between Alina, Mal, and the Darkling. I didn't really see the Darkling as a love interest in book one, nor do I see him as one in this book. Now, there is another male in THIS book that could be a part of the love triangle, but I doubt it. We'll see.

I mentioned Sturmhond once? He's the privateer, and he is EASILY my favorite character of this book, and of the series. There are other fabulous characters introduced in this book, such as Toyla and Tamar, but STURMHOND. He is fabulous! He is so much more than a greedy privateer, as we find out in this book (not telling!). I really he gets what he wants, and that things work out for him. Hugs for you, Sturmhond!

Overall, I must say that this book is stunning. I could kick myself for waiting so long to read it, but at the same time, it means that I have to wait less to read Ruin and Rising! I cannot wait to see it all ends.

What I Did Not Like:

There wasn't much that I didn't like about this book. As usual, I must say that no book is perfect. HOWEVER, I honestly cannot think of anything in particular that I did not enjoy. It's quite long, and I admit, I did skim a few times, but not often enough that it was annoying, or that I didn't understand something.

This one is getting four stars, not five stars, because this isn't a favorite book of mine, and it didn't blow me away. Granted, favorite books aren't the only books that get five stars from me. Books that are incredible amazing and totally worth the buy get five stars. I really enjoyed this one, but I'm not overcome with emotion or anything. I don't think I'm a hardcore fan like some bloggers/readers, but I am totally invested enough to read the next book.

Would I Recommend It:

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who read the first book. I was blown away by the first book, and I was nothing short of impressed with this book. I would also recommend this series in general. The debut was amazing, the sequel was astonishingly awesome, and I'm quite sure the conclusion to this trilogy will not disappoint!


4 stars. I can't believe I waited this long to read this book! But you all know my fear of sequels. As I continue to learn, some sequels just aren't that scary! 

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

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Swoon Thursday (#53): Landry Park by Bethany Hagen

Swoon Thursday is a hot meme hosted by the fabulous ladies at YA Bound!

- From the book you’re currently reading, or one you just finished, tell us what made you SWOON. What got your heart pounding, your skin tingling, and your stomach fluttering

- Try to make the swoon excerpt 140 characters (or less), if you are going to tweet about it. Use the hashtag #YABOUND when tweeting

This week, my swoon is from Landry Park by Bethany Hagen!

"I want to kiss you," he said, his mouth very close to mine now. 

That white fire was dancing from his hair to my hands to my chest to my stomach to my lips -

"I've wanted you to kiss me again for a long time," I whispered.

"Then I shall." And he did. His lips were on mine, warm and spicy and smoky. Something needy and hot pulled at my stomach, and I pulled him closer, kissed him harder, breathed him in deeper and deeper until I saw starts and static at the edges of my eyes.

His hands slid under my coat, and his lips found my neck and and my hair, and now there were galaxies, a million infinitesimal stars pricking at my eyelids.

- eARC, 88%

Read my review and enter to win HERE.

I LOVED this book! I highly recommend it :D

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (#57): Dark Metropolis by Jaclyn Dolamore

"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:

Dark Metropolis by Jaclyn Dolamore
Book One of the Dark Metropolis series
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Publication Date: June 17, 2014

Summary (from Goodreads):

About a city in which corruption and vice are rampant and disappearances warrant a shrug from the authorities: when a girl vanishes, her best friend must search the city's underground, only to find that here, people who die don't necessarily stay dead.

Sounds good to me! And the cover is stunning, in my opinion.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Blog Tour Review and Giveaway: Landry Park by Bethany Hagen

Welcome to the Landry Park tour! I am super excited to be a part of this wonderful tour! Be sure to read my review, and enter the awesome giveaway! Enjoy and good luck!

Landry Park by Bethany Hagen
Book One of the Landry Park series
Publisher: Dial
Publication Date: February 4, 2014
Rating: 4 stars
Source: eARC provided for the blog tour

Official Summary:

In a fragmented future United States ruled by the lavish gentry, seventeen-year-old Madeline Landry dreams of going to the university. Unfortunately, gentry decorum and her domineering father won't allow that. Madeline must marry, like a good Landry woman, and run the family estate. But her world is turned upside down when she discovers the devastating consequences her lifestyle is having on those less fortunate. As Madeline begins to question everything she has ever learned, she finds herself increasingly drawn to handsome, beguiling David Dana. Soon, rumors of war and rebellion start to spread, and Madeline finds herself and David at the center of it all. Ultimately, she must make a choice between duty - her family and the estate she loves dearly - and desire.

What I Liked:

Oh, what a novel! I read this book in one shot, and I simply loved it. It's a mix of several genres, and I think the blend really works. I don't really know what I was expecting from this novel, but I was blown away with what I got! 

Madeline is the sole heir of Landry Park - which means that she has to marry rich, she can't go to the university, and she doesn't get a say in, well, anything. Several eligible bachelors arrive, including one very handsome and charismatic David Dana. But everything seems to unravel after one fateful event - the attack of a gentry lady. The gentry believe that the Rootless are behind the attack - the Rootless being basically the poor class of people who deal with the nuclear radiation to power the lamps that saved the environment (designed by one Jacob Landry, Madeline really great grandfather).

So, it seems like your typical dystopia novel - in which there are the "rulers" (the gentry, who are rich and powerful), and the "enslaved" (the Rootless, who are powerless and poor, but numerous and angry). There is an incident (the attack), and soon Madeline much choose.

The thing about Madeline was that she already had preconceived notions about the Rootless. She felt sorry for them, and wasn't all that suckered to the gentry (even though she is one). The incident with the gentry lady (who happened to be a peer of Madeline's) piqued Madeline's curiosity, because Madeline didn't think it was the Rootless.

Nevertheless, the Rootless were blamed, and sides had to be taken. Madeline learns key things about several people, including the Rootless themselves. I really liked watching Madeline grow as a character. She didn't become a full-out revolutionary, which I thought was authentic. She helped as best she could, while still being gentry. Hagen emphasized that Madeline (and other characters) are still human, still gentry, and still enjoy their rich, opulent lives.

The plot of this book sounds straightforward, but it wasn't. I loved how Hagen kept twisting the story - both stories. The love story wasn't simple, and the revolution story wasn't that simple. Things weren't as predictable as they might seem on the surface.

The romance. It makes me sad, but the romance isn't clear-cut. YES, this is a GOOD thing, but I was rooting for David and Madeline, and things just didn't go their way ALL THE TIME. The romance seems really doomed at first, but read until the end - things start to look up. I just *knew* Hagen couldn't do that to the characters or the readers. Or could she...

Well, no matter, I hope that the series continues to be amazing! And the romance builds beautifully. I have a feeling that David and Madeline could be quite the couple, given the chance! I hope to see more of them in book two. And more of everything good I saw in this book! What a lovely start to a new series.

What I Did Not Like:

There wasn't much I didn't like - maybe just the romance. I could have sworn a love triangle was going to break out (in which I would have been extremely upset), but once I got to the end, I saw that that was not going to happen. Just read the entire book, don't jump to conclusions.

I would have liked to see more interactions between David and Madeline. It seemed like they were always arguing to fighting or not speaking to each other. Maybe start the next book with their relationship taking a softer turn? But I can't complain too much.

Would I Recommend It:

I most certainly would! This is a really fantastic novel with blends of many different genres - futuristic, dystopian (sort of), romance. I love the world that Hagen has created, the characters, the story, and I cannot wait for more! This one doesn't have the most straightforward romance, so don't expect too much, but it has a wonderful story and creative worldbuilding. I recommend it to any YA lover!


4 stars. You really do NOT want to miss this debut novel! I will definitely be looking out for the sequel.

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

About the Author:

Librarian by day, Bethany Hagen is the author of the forthcoming LANDRY PARK, set to be released from Dial February 4th, 2014. She lives in Kansas City with her husband and two children.

The Giveaway:

Release Day Blitz and Giveaway: Seeking Her by Cora Carmack

Welcome to the Seeking Her release day blitz! I have not read this novella yet, but you all know that I loved Losing It, and enjoyed Faking It and Keeping Her. I hope you enjoy the post, and enter the fabulous giveaway!

Seeking Her by Cora Carmack
Book 3.5 of the Losing It series
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: January 28, 2014

Official Summary:

Jackson Hunt gets his turn in this Finding It prequel novella …

Jackson Hunt hasn't been out of the military for long, but he needs to get a job and find a sense of normalcy if he is going to keep his demons at bay. The job that falls into his lap, though, is anything but normal.

Becoming bodyguard (and babysitter) to spoiled rich girl Kelsey Summers isn't exactly what he had in mind, but it's a chance to travel, to get away. The catch: Kelsey's father doesn't want her to know she's being followed.

She's vibrant and infuriating, exciting and reckless, mysterious and familiar. When Jackson sees her falling into the same patterns he suffered years ago, he decides it's time to stop watching and help her instead. But getting to know Kelsey is more difficult than he thought, especially because the more he knows her, the more he wants her.

About the Author:

Cora Carmack is a twenty-something writer who likes to write about twenty-something characters. She's done a multitude of things in her life-- boring jobs (like working retail), Fun jobs (like working in a theatre), stressful jobs (like teaching), and dream jobs (like writing). She enjoys placing her characters in the most awkward situations possible, and then trying to help them get a boyfriend out of it. Awkward people need love, too. Her first book, LOSING IT, is a New York Times and USA Today bestseller.

The Excerpt:

I was going to have to find some way to cope with this. If not, I was better off calling Mr. Summers and suggesting he find someone else to take over his daughter-watch.

I felt a pang of something at that thought. It was a general kind of discomfort, and I wasn't sure whether it was the thought of returning home or something else that made that thought so unappealing.

After the cooling walk earlier, and now standing under the cool, calming rush of water, it was easier to think that I could control myself, but I knew better. It always seemed easier in my head than it really was.

I wiped the water from my eyes, and tried to think of some other way to deal. There was always the hope that Kelsey would get bored. That she would mellow out. If she only partied a couple nights a week, I should be able to resist. But that seemed unlikely.

All that restless energy; the way she’d soaked up the attention from the people around her. I couldn't see her giving that up. And it was working for her. She was still in the phase where partying made her feel good. That was the one thing that helped me stay clean. The few times I’d slipped up since I started the program had left me miserable and angry, and even more frustrated than when I started. I’d found new ways to chase the high. And maybe that wasn't any healthier, not when one way involved being in the midst of flying bullets.

It wasn't the same kind of rush, but it did the trick. I pictured Kelsey again, laughing with her head thrown back, her shirt falling off her shoulder and displaying the gentle curve of her neck. It reminded me of the way she’d tossed her head back that first day out in the woods.

The memory of that caused a different kind of rush in me, and I groaned, pressing my forehead into the tile. Before I could help myself, I pictured her long legs straddling that guy in the gardens. The bright green material of her bra, and the way it conformed to her perfect chest. She leaned back, her fingertips trailing from the bark of the tree to his shoulders.

In an instant, the memory shifted into fantasy, and those were my shoulders she clung to, not his.

That was my undoing. There was only so much resisting I could do in one night.

The Giveaway:

Monday, January 27, 2014

Review: Faking Normal by Courtney C. Stevens

Faking Normal by Courtney C. Stevens
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: February 25, 2014
Rating: 2 stars
Source: eARC from Edelweiss

Summary (from Goodreads):

An edgy, realistic, and utterly captivating novel from an exciting new voice in teen fiction.

Alexi Littrell hasn't told anyone what happened to her over the summer. Ashamed and embarrassed, she hides in her closet and compulsively scratches the back of her neck, trying to make the outside hurt more than the inside does.

When Bodee Lennox, the quiet and awkward boy next door, comes to live with the Littrells, Alexi discovers an unlikely friend in "the Kool-Aid Kid," who has secrets of his own. As they lean on each other for support, Alexi gives him the strength to deal with his past, and Bodee helps her find the courage to finally face the truth.

A searing, poignant book, Faking Normal is the extraordinary debut novel from an exciting new author-Courtney C. Stevens.

What I Liked:

I know, I know. I'm as shocked as you are, when looking at the rating. I was so sure that this one would blow me away. I love Courtney - she's amazing and super sweet - and I have been looking forward to reading this one. I don't read too many tough-issue books, so it has to sound pretty good for me to decide to read it. Right?

In this book, we have Alexi, who was raped by someone (we don't find out definitely until the end, but the astute will pick it up from the beginning, it was super obvious to me), and Bodee, whose mother died (it's more complicated than that). Bodee comes to live with Alexi's family (his mother and Alexi's mother were good friends). Throughout the book, the pair help each other battle their demons and heal. 

But neither teen's road is straight and narrow. Alexi struggles physically and mentally, by harshly scraping her nails down her neck to make herself bleed, and by shutting out everything about the rape. She blames herself for not stopping him. Bodee blames himself for watching his mother die. He is quiet and serious, but no where near as twisted and messed up as Alexi (in my opinion). 

I really like how Stevens brings about Alexi and Bodee's relationship. That is a truly progressive and meaningful relationship. It starts with an understanding between the two, but then develops into friendship, then trust, then love. That was well done by Stevens.

I really, really like Bodee. Stevens didn't make him out to be a sex demon on legs, like most YA heroes seem to be these days. He's a teen boy who seems awkward and quiet and dyes his hair different colors. I really, really like him. Somehow, he understands, he empathizes, and he KNOWS. He's a genuinely good guy, an old soul, a decent person. I wish I knew a guy like that. 

Bodee is basically why this book got two stars, and not one star. BUT, not in the way you're thinking. Read above. He's a well-rounded character, well-developed, and truly likable.

What I Did Not Like:

On to the difficult part. I hate writing in this section when I know that this book could be a perfectly amazing read for someone else. Like, it's probably just me who didn't enjoy these things! I mentioned that I don't read a lot of tough-issue books - well, this book features some of the reasons why I don't read them.

Let me preface this by saying that I am in NO WAY ridiculing the act of rape. I sympathize with rape victim, and I would never ask that on anyone, to be raped. No woman deserves that, ever.

For example (exhibit A, etc.), I really, really dislike Alexi's excuses. It's utter bulls*** (oh, you thought I was finished with the bulls*** reviews? Nope. You were wrong. I don't think this is first one of 2014 though!). She blames herself for getting raped, because not at any point did she try to stop him, and neither he nor she was drunk. WELL, GIRL. SEX DOESN'T JUST HAPPEN. IT'S NOT SOMETHING THAT OCCURS IN 10 SECONDS. Especially the way the author described it - the dude massaged her shoulders. He touched her. He put on a condom. THESE THINGS TAKE TIME. HOW THE HECK DO YOU NOT FEEL UNSAFE. There is a part in your brain that detects when you feel unsafe - that's what makes the hairs on your neck stand, or whatever. FOLLOW YOUR INSTINCTS.

And at no point during the rape did she cry out or scream or tell him to stop or anything. She CRIED, and even that was silent. According to the book, she ran out of words. REALLY?! That's such bulls***, in my opinion. You're about to have a traumatic experience, and you don't think to, I don't know, FIGHT BACK, OR SCREAM, OR SAY GET AWAY FROM ME?! That's utter bulls***. Girls these days no better, ESPECIALLY if they are sober or not under any influences, and ESPECIALLY if the guy is sober and not under any influences as well.

So, I think Alexi is full of s*** and excuses. She didn't want to tell anyone, because she blamed herself. Okay, wow. THAT makes sense. Yes, you didn't fight back or scream. But that doesn't mean you didn't get RAPED. That doesn't justify the fact that something bad happened. Oh, and get this: she didn't want to say anything not just because she blamed herself, but because she didn't want to ruin his life. OH MY GOSH YOU ARE SOOOO SMART, ALEXI. I'd want to ruin his life just as badly as he ruined mine. He'd be serving some serious jail time, or worse. I wouldn't be sparing him because I want him to have a good life! Are you f***ing kidding me?!

And even in the end! What was that?! Did he get life in prison?! NO. I'm not going to say what his punishment was, but it wasn't enough. It was NOWHERE NEAR ENOUGH. He got off with a slap on the wrist, basically. 

Ugh, the ending. It was so hunky dory. Miraculously, Alexi's relationship with her sister is cut and pasted back together. Everything just happens to fall into place for Alexi. Everything works out. You know what gave Alexi the courage to speak up? A bird. A bird flew past her and she was like, oh, freedom, I want that. WELL IT TOOK YOU LONG ENOUGH. And goodness, there are birds EVERYWHERE. NOW, you conveniently see one and decide to spill. THAT makes sense.

Also? Someone please explain to me why cutting yourself (or scraping your fingernails against the back of your neck, like Alexi does) makes sense. Tell me how that makes things better. Tell me how physical pain makes emotional or mental pain go away. It. Does. Not. This is more of a general thing, than something to do with the book. I know it is a response that victims of crimes have, but it really makes no sense to me. 

Anyway. I don't deal well with excuses and bulls***, and Alexi is full of both. And when you have a problem with the main character, and  the book is written in first person, then you have serious problems with the entire book. Sad life.

Would I Recommend It:

This is tricky. If you're anything like me, then no, don't waste your time with this one. Tough-issue books are definitely NOT meant for everyone, but that doesn't mean that I don't enjoy one every now and then. I thought this one would be different, but alas, it wasn't for me. 

However, I know that this book is a much-anticipated read for many people. And to them, I say, READ IT! Go for it! Don't NOT read it because I didn't like it! Because chances are, you'll love it! This is an excellent book... for those who deal with the things I hated.


2 stars. I totally understand why most readers will LOVE this book, but it just was NOT for me.

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

Cover Reveal: The Fine Art of Pretending by Rachel Harris


Today, I'm featuring one of my favorite authors, Rachel Harris!

AND, her latest contemporary romance novel!!


(You'll see what I mean in a second)

The Fine Art of Pretending by Rachel Harris
Book Two of The Fine Art of Pretending series
Publisher: Spencer Hill Contemporary 
Publication Date: September 30, 2014

Official Summary:

According to the guys at Fairfield Academy, there are two types of girls: the kind you hook up with, and the kind you're friends with. Seventeen-year-old Alyssa Reed is the second type. And she hates it. With just one year left to change her rank, she devises a plan to become the first type by homecoming, and she sets her sights on the perfect date—Justin Carter, Fairfield Academy’s biggest hottie and most notorious player.

With 57 days until the dance, Aly launches Operation Sex Appeal and sheds her tomboy image. The only thing left is for Justin actually to notice her. Enter best friend Brandon Taylor, the school’s second biggest hottie, and now Aly’s pretend boyfriend. With his help, elevating from “funny friend” to “tempting vixen” is only a matter of time.

But when everything goes according to plan, the inevitable “break up” leaves their friendship in shambles, and Aly and Brandon with feelings they can’t explain. And the fake couple discovers pretending can sometimes cost you the one thing you never expected to want.

About the Author:

When not typing furiously or flipping pages in an enthralling romance, she homeschools her two beautiful girls and watches reality television with her amazing husband. Taste The Heat is her adult romance debut. She’s the author of MY SUPER SWEET SIXTEENTH CENTURY and A TALE OF TWO CENTURIES. She loves hearing from readers! Find her at

What do you all think?

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Review: White Hot Kiss by Jennifer L. Armentrout

White Hot Kiss by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Book One of the Dark Elements series
Publisher: Harlequin TEEN
Publication Date: February 25, 2014
Rating: 4 stars
Source: ARC sent by the publisher/eARC from NetGalley

Summary (from Goodreads):

One kiss could be the last.

Seventeen-year-old Layla just wants to be normal. But with a kiss that kills anything with a soul, she's anything but normal. Half demon, half gargoyle, Layla has abilities no one else possesses. 

Raised among the Wardens—a race of gargoyles tasked with hunting demons and keeping humanity safe—Layla tries to fit in, but that means hiding her own dark side from those she loves the most. Especially Zayne, the swoon-worthy, incredibly gorgeous and completely off-limits Warden she's crushed on since forever. 

Then she meets Roth—a tattooed, sinfully hot demon who claims to know all her secrets. Layla knows she should stay away, but she's not sure she wants to—especially when that whole no-kissing thing isn't an issue, considering Roth has no soul. 

But when Layla discovers she's the reason for the violent demon uprising, trusting Roth could not only ruin her chances with Zayne…it could brand her a traitor to her family. Worse yet, it could become a one-way ticket to the end of the world.

What I Liked:

It came as no surprise to me that I loved this book immensely, upon finishing it. I generally enjoy JLA's books, and this one was no exception! I can say this is one of my favorite JLA books, if not my clear favorite. We'll have to see how the series goes, because there was one giant red flag in this book that I really didn't like. But I have good feelings about the rest of the series, because I think I have JLA figured out (for the most part?), so as I said, we'll see!

Read the prequel novella, Bitter Sweet Love, to get a good feel of how the Wardens and the clan work and the demons and whatnot work. I found it really helpful, holding a wealth of information that made White Hot Kiss easier to understand and follow. Not that you won't be able to understand and follow this book, if you didn't read the prequel novella. That's something really great about JLA's books - for the most part, she does a really good job of introducing readers to the world and characters of the series, without confusing anyone or making any big leaps or assumptions.

So. Layla is half-demon, half-Warden. She's a mixed-bred girl, not really fitting in. She lives with Wardens, but every day, she feels the disapproval and apprehension of some Wardens. See, Layla is also half-demon, and she could take the souls of those who have souls by just breathing it out of them (or something). Hence the title, and the tagline (one kiss could be the last). And Layla recently turned seventeen; since then, demons have been trailing her, including one who wants to help her - Roth. But who does she trust - the Wardens, or Roth?

Roth, duh. Of course, that may or may not be the answer to the question I posed - you'll have to read the book to find out. Suffice it to say, I ended up really NOT liking the Wardens in general. They seem really pretentious and overbearing and backwards. In the prequel novella, I noticed this as well. I hope this is what JLA intends readers to think. If not, oops? I just don't like them. I see their side, and I sort of get it, but eh. They seem like the losing side, to me. The demons seem more attractive, and not just in the physical sense.

This book moves quickly. That's one thing I really like about JLA's books in general - I seem to zip right through the ones I've read. She knows how to keep them interesting, and yet, she adds a good amount of depth to the plot, so it's not just a light and fluffy read with funny characters and hot chemistry-filled scenes. This book involves a good bit of lore behind it, as well as knowledge of demons and Wardens and books and keys and honestly, I was a bit blown away by the depth of the paranormal world. I think JLA did her best work with this book; while the other books have great world-building and whatnot, I feel like they were more about the romance and chemistry rather than the actual plot/story. So, good for JLA on that!

Now, in another review, I mentioned that the characters in JLA's books all seem to be the same, as you read more and more of her books. They don't seem to be original or "real" with unique ticks and things that make them THEM. Like, the heroines seem to be feisty and spunky and fire-tongued, and the heroes seem to be sexy, smooth-talking man-beasts who are simply perfect and amazing. This book is kind of no exception - Layla really isn't unique, and neither is Roth. HOWEVER, Roth is definitely my favorite of JLA's boys. He does seem a bit different (maybe because he's ACTUALLY "bad'?), even if Layla doesn't.

The romance... is kind of messed up. I love love love Roth, and will be team Roth no matter what JLA does to him. Roth is a demon and has no soul, so Layla has no soul-related problems with kissing him. Plus, she actually likes him. And he actually likes her. It's not a misguided childish girly crush, like with someone. Yes, there could be a dreaded love triangle. Zayne is a factor (RAWR. NO.). But as I said, team Roth.

No matter what I say, I really enjoyed this book. It's probably my favorite JLA book, and it's definitely a favorite of the year (despite it not being a five-star rated book).

What I Did Not Like:

The ending. Well, one part of the ending. A couple parts of the ending. Roth. The Wardens. Abbott. Stupid, stupid Layla, for going back. Zayne. Stupid, idiot Zayne. Don't get me wrong, I like Zayne as a person. But not as a potential love interest. 

Not only do I hate love triangles, but I hate that Zayne could be a part of a love triangle. Like, leave Roth and Layla alone. You don't have to complicate the romance by adding another person to the romance (i.e. making it a love triangle). Complicate it by... well, doing exactly what you did at the end of White Hot Kiss, Mrs. Armentrout. That's a complicated romance right there.

Nevertheless, this book is still getting 4.5 stars, despite my abhorrence of the ending (and Zayne and the potential love triangle and Roth and AGHHHH). I have a feeling that Roth will be huge in book two (and/or book three), and that JLA will be fair with the romance. She usually makes it pretty obvious (we ALL knew it would be Aiden, even those of us, like me, that haven't even read the series).

Would I Recommend It:

YES! JLA fan or not, you don't want to miss this book. The concept and lore are fresh and interesting, and the characters, while not the most original JLA characters, are fun and quirky and humorous. I really like this paranormal romance novel, and I totally get why Harlequin TEEN is pushing this one so much - it is bound to be a bestseller!


4.5 stars -> rounded down to 4 stars. This one is definitely my favorite book by Jennifer L. Armentrout YET, despite the ending. I cannot wait to read the remaining books in the series!

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Release Day Blitz and Giveaway: Collaboration by Michelle Lynn and Nevaeh Lee

Welcome to the release day blitz for Collaboration! Happy release day, Michelle Lynn and Nevaeh Lee! Learn more about this book, and enter to win!

Collaboration by Michelle Lynn and Nevaeh Lee
Publication Date: January 26, 2014

Official Summary:

This is not your typical rock star romance. For one, the “rock star” is a rapper. And not just any rapper. Trace is the hottest ticket in the music industry right now, regardless of which definition of ‘hot’ you choose.

Taryn Starr is not the girl-next-door who unknowingly meets a celebrity. Known as “America’s Sweetheart,” the reigning country music princess and world-renowned superstar knows exactly who Trace is…or does she?

Their worlds collide when the musicians whose paths were never destined to cross are forced by their joint record label to collaborate on a song. The sparks fly and ignite a fire that blazes hotter with every minute they spend together—for better or worse. One thing’s for certain, the two media magnets can’t deny their explosive chemistry, but will life in the spotlight ultimately bring Trace and Taryn together or force them apart?

***This contemporary romance new adult novel is for mature audiences. The language alone would make a sailor blush (the guy’s a rapper, remember?) so 18+ only, please.

About the Authors:

Michelle moved around the Midwest most of her life, transferring from school to school before settling down in the outskirts of Chicago ten years ago, where she now resides with her husband and two kids.  She developed a love of reading at a young age, which helped lay the foundation for her passion to write.   With the encouragement of her family, she finally sat down and wrote one of the many stories that have been floating around in her head. When she isn’t reading or writing, she can be found playing with her kids, talking to her mom on the phone, or hanging out with her family and friends.  But after chasing around twin preschoolers all day, she always cherishes her relaxation time after putting the kids to bed.


Nevaeh’s first exposure to writing began in a middle school creative writing class. She was reprimanded for composing a politically incorrect story and forced to re-write about a “safer” topic. Being the writing rebel that she is, Nevaeh always likes to push the envelope a bit and never re-writes, unless her editor insists on it.

When she’s not writing, Nevaeh is a freelance book editor ;). And when she’s not reading, writing, or editing, she can be found spending time with her family and taking road trips, exploring the area around wherever she happens to be living at the time. Even though “home” will always be Texas, she has lived in several different states and countries, but currently resides in the DC metro area.

She also adores her really big dog who frequently takes her for walks while enduring her many story ideas and rambling dialogue, which sometimes occurs in multiple languages. After many years of this, she finally decided to start writing out some of these stories and her first book, a joint effort called Collaboration, will be self-published on January 26, 2014.

The Excerpt:

Speaking of which, we’d better get the fuck out of this car and into her house before one of those tour buses stop by and the lucky bastards end up with photos worth way more than the chump change they paid for the tour. 

I reluctantly pull away from her, loving the sound of the whimper I hear before I throw the door open and slam it shut. I run around the car to help her out and lead her toward one of the few places where we will be safe from prying eyes. We both move quickly, ducking our heads in a now natural response, even when there aren't any cameras around.

Taryn already has her keys in hand and opens the heavy wooden door. Thank the fuck she has an alarm system at least, which she turns off while I close the door behind us. As soon as the door clicks closed, I turn toward her and I have no doubt that the look in my eyes as they meet hers would be described as predatory. But instead of looking like frightened prey, I only see pure lust emanating from those staggeringly beautiful eyes. I've always thought Taryn’s eyes changed color depending on her mood and now I’m sure of it. Right now, they look like they’re on fire, with gold flecks bursting through the wild and intense green, a forest on the verge of erupting in uncontrollable flames.

I stalk closer and she backs up against the foyer wall, where I cage her in, my hands beside each of her shoulders. I lean in, bypassing her lips and moving mine toward her ear. Although her eyes are telling me one thing, I need to hear what her mouth says. 

“Do you want me?” I whisper. She leans her head back against the wall, further exposing her neck, and I take the opportunity to trail kisses from her ear down to her collarbone. I kiss across the delicate area, which judging by the sounds she’s making, is also an erogenous zone for her.  Then I proceed to kiss my way back up her neck before whispering in her other ear, “Although I like that answer, I need to hear you say it, sweetheart. Do. You. Want. Me?” I ask, nibbling on her earlobe with each word spoken.

“Yes, dammit, I want you,” she says forcefully and reaches down to pull my shirt apart, ripping the buttons, before tearing it off me. That’s all the answer I need.

The Giveaway: