Hello, Goodbye, and Everything In Between by Jennifer E. Smith

Hello, Goodbye, and Everything In Between by Jennifer E. Smith
Series: N/A
Published by Poppy on September 1, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 246 : ARC edition
Source: An ARC was provided to me by the publisher (thank you SO much!)
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On the night before they leave for college, Clare and Aidan only have one thing left to do: figure out whether they should stay together or break up. Over the course of twelve hours, they’ll retrace the steps of their relationship, trying to find something in their past that might help them decide what their future should be. The night will lead them to friends and family, familiar landmarks and unexpected places, hard truths and surprising revelations. But as the clock winds down and morning approaches, so does their inevitable goodbye. The question is, will it be goodbye for now or goodbye forever?

This new must-read novel from Jennifer E. Smith, author of The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, explores the difficult choices that must be made when life and love lead in different directions.

This is only the second Jennifer E. Smith book that I’ve read, but she is well on her way to becoming one of my favorite authors. I love her writing style and her books are so adorable and such easy reads that I just fly through them.

That being said, I only gave this one 4 out of 5 stars, since the plot was what had me kind of saying, “ehhh.” I think I’m just a very non-sentimental person when it comes to high school sweethearts, so throughout the entirety of the book I wasn’t really rooting for Clare and Aidan from the start. Which sucks, because it totally tainted my view of their relationship, but it is what it is.

However, I did appreciate the story. I liked how we got glimpses of their relationship through the different locations they went to and explored how they were going to deal with being apart. Definitely made me nostalgic for my high school days and saying that first goodbye to all my friends, so that was something I could totally relate too.

In the end this was a really adorable romance story that had me smiling and thinking about the past. I love stories that take place just before leaving for college, so this was right up my alley in that sense. Jennifer E. Smith fans and fans of contemporary novels will not be disappointed by this one!

(Also, her covers are always SO awesome! I love them!)

The Lonesome Young by Lucy Connors

The Lonesome Young by Lucy Connors
Series: N/A
Published by Razorbill on April 8, 2014
Genres: Young Adult, Romance
Pages: 384 : Hardcover edition
Source: Purchased on Amazon
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Get swept away in the first book of the sensational romantic drama that is Romeo & Juliet meets Justified.

WHAT HAPPENS when the teenage heirs of two bitterly FEUDING FAMILIES can’t stay away from each other?

The Rhodales and the Whitfields have been sworn enemies for close on a hundred years, with a whole slew of adulterous affairs, financial backstabbing, and blackmailing that’s escalated the rivalry to its current state of tense ceasefire.

IT’S TIME TO LIGHT THE FUSE . . .

And now a meth lab explosion in rural Whitfield County is set to reignite the feud more viciously than ever before. Especially when the toxic fire that results throws together two unlikely spectators—proper good girl Victoria Whitfield, exiled from boarding school after her father’s real estate business melts down in disgrace, and town motorcycle rebel Mickey Rhodale, too late as always to thwart his older brothers’ dangerous drug deals.

Victoria and Mickey are about to find out the most passionate romances are the forbidden ones.

. . . ON A POWDER KEG FULL OF PENT-UP DESIRE, risk-taking daredevilry, and the desperate actions that erupt when a generation of teens inherits nothing but hate.

Let’s just start this off with me saying I’m not a fan of the cover AT ALL. This was super embarrassing to read in public, and my friend caught me once and gave me such a look of disdain. That being said, the content was more on the opposite spectrum.

I really enjoyed the story that went on here and the slight twist on what was dubbed a modern day Romeo and Juliet. I think I went in with too many high expectations of it being exactly like that tragic love story (which it wasn’t thank god), so when this one started going into more serious topics I was thrilled.

I also like reading books that take place in the south for some reason; probably since I’ve never been there and it has a very romantic charm to it. The whole thing about Mickey’s half brother hiding all his illegal activities was something I found particularly interesting. And though we’re supposed to hate Mickey’s aunt (his half brother’s mother) I found her to be a surprisingly strong character. She was a far more interesting character than Victoria’s mom who was the typical rich white mom that thinks the world revolves around her.

While I did think the story dragged on in a few places (more towards the middle) and the plot went in a few circles, I think the overall end game was there and it was executed pretty well. I did give this an overall 4/5 stars mostly for the dragging of the story in some parts, but also for the abrupt ending. It just…stopped. I wanted more closure and coverage on what was going to happen to all the characters. Even just one more page of epilogue would have been fine! Alas, the story is what it is, and it’s a great read for anyone interested in a read filled with romance, violence, southern belles and boys.

Curses and Smoke: A Novel of Pompeii by Vicky Alvear Shecter

Curses and Smoke: A Novel of Pompeii by Vicky Alvear Shecter
Series: N/A
Published by Scholastic on February 6, 2014
Genres: Historical Fiction, Romance, YA
Pages: 336 : Paperback edition
Source: Purchased at a Scholastic Warehouse sale
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When your world blows apart, what will you hold onto?

TAG is a medical slave, doomed to spend his life healing his master’s injured gladiators. But his warrior’s heart yearns to fight in the gladiator ring himself and earn enough money to win his freedom.

LUCIA is the daughter of Tag’s owner, doomed by her father’s greed to marry a much older Roman man. But she loves studying the natural world around her home in Pompeii, and lately she’s been noticing some odd occurrences in the landscape: small lakes disappearing; a sulfurous smell in the air. . . .

When the two childhood friends reconnect, each with their own longings, they fall passionately in love. But as they plot their escape from the city, a patrician fighter reveals his own plans for them — to Lucia’s father, who imprisons Tag as punishment. Then an earthquake shakes Pompeii, in the first sign of the chaos to come. Will they be able to find each other again before the volcano destroys their whole world?

This is the second YA historical fiction book by Vicky Alvear Shecter (the first being Cleopatra’s Moon) and I love the way she interweaves fiction with history to tell a fascinating and complex story. As you can tell by the title, this one focuses on the tragedy of Pompeii and the volcanic eruption of Mt. Vesuvias. Ever since I was little, I had been fascinated with the events of Pompeii (not 100% sure why) and when I saw this I just had to pick it up.

Our story focuses around two main characters, Lucia (a rich daughter of a man who owns and trains gladiator fighters) and Tages, aka Tag (a poor slave who is owned by Lucia’s father and was childhood friends with Lucia). I love that Ms. Shecter created Lucia as a character who, in a patriarchal society, she remained strong in her scientific beliefs and had a mind of her own. She defied a lot of what was considered “proper” and stood up for herself, sometimes a rare thing to find in even characters of this century. Tag was also a strong character and he went through quite a bit of development, even right up until the very last page.

I loved seeing not only their interactions, but their journey leading up to the eruption. The last quarter of the book moved along at quite a fast pace which I liked because it kept up with the confusion surrounding the post-eruption. That’s not to say that I didn’t like the first three quarters of the book; quite the contrary! Again, Ms. Shecter did an excellent job of transporting me to this ancient city/world and integrating and explaining different facets of life while also progressing through the characters own plots. Overall, just a really fantastic read and, as usual, I look forward to when she releases another historical fiction novel

The Accidental Assassin by Nichole Chase

The Accidental Assassin by Nichole Chase
Series: The Assassins #1
Published by CreateSpace on November 28, 2014
Genres: Suspense, Love, Romance
Pages: 354 : Paperback edition
Source: Purchased on Amazon
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Ava McKenzie is a creature of habit. Life is passing her by and she has nothing to show for it. She’s had the same job since she started college, she orders the same dish every time she goes to her favorite restaurant, and only reads books from authors she knows. There is nothing new or surprising in her life… until her best friend marries a man from London. When her newlywed friend asks her to house-sit while she honeymoons, Ava jumps at the chance. She thinks this could be the very thing she needs to shake up her life. Ava throws herself head first into her new lifestyle; she wants to try everything, go everywhere, and never get stuck in a rut again. Of course, offing a man in a car garage hadn’t been one of the things on her list to try.

Owen Walker spends every day in a new place with a new case. As one of the most renowned assassins in the world, he has his choice of marks—and he’s never failed in a mission. When a new hit takes him back to his hometown, he looks forward to spending time somewhere familiar. What he isn’t expecting is to help an attractive, confused American woman find out how she’s ended up on a hit man’s list.

As Ava and Owen dodge bullets, will they be able to escape their undeniable attraction to each other? Or will all of that chemistry blow up in a shower of hot and dangerous sparks?

Nichole Chase’s books always take me on such a fun ride (usually through Europe which is always a huge plus) and there’s romance along the way! Oh my! I loved her Royals series, and thought I would check this one out next and I’m so glad I did. Ava has got to be one of my new top favorite characters; she’s got so much spunk and attitude (plus loves to curse? Um hello, how can you not love her?) and she gets to run from life-threatening situations with a hot hunky British man at her side.

In all seriousness though, I did love this book. I’m not usually drawn to assassin style novels, but through a little romance in the midst of it all, and you’ve got me hooked! Owen’s character was so dark and mysterious, but once we got to know him, along with Ava, he showed his true side and that was an awesome experience as well.

The only thing I can wish for now is a sequel or spin off! I want to go exploring with these characters a little bit more and find out what’s in store for them next!

(I also appreciated the nod towards the Royals series by mentioning their country and one of its characters. Super cool!)

Finding Thor by Kai Strand

Finding Thor by Kai Strand
Series: N/A
Published by Whiskey Creek Press on March 12, 2015
Genres: Love, Romance
Pages: 277 : Kindle edition
Source: Received from the author in exchange for an honest review
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Tragedy has left Cara Cassidy broken and the only thing keeping her from giving in completely is her guilt. Until Nik Rock.

Nik stirs up feelings in degrees she has never experienced, and causes her to do things that most assuredly give him the wrong impression – like kiss him before their first date. Somehow, he breaks down the walls around her emotions until she has no choice but to forgive herself and feel again.

But a mysterious, troubled past follows Nik, and Cara may prove to be his weakest link.

When a royal princess shows up looking for Nik, and an international gang arrives looking for missing jewels, Cara lands in mortal danger. Will she be able to save herself? What will happen to her newly repaired psyche if she loses Nik?

Romance, mystery, and high stakes – just another day in high school.

I have always been drawn in by Kai Strand’s novels since they seamlessly blend together romance with tragedy and heartbreak, and Finding Thor is no exception. Cara and Nik are both such complex characters but they balance each other out through a dark and mysterious romance *swoon*

I really love finding stories where it’s more than just a romance, it’s something that’s deep and emotional. Finding Thor kept me at the edge of my seat and I kept wanting to know more and more about the backstories of both characters. What are they hiding not only from each other but from themselves? I was so intrigued that there was one point I could not put the book down one night!

I look forward to reading more of Kai Strand’s work since she always manages to blow me away. Five stars!

Dragon Her Back by Susannah Scott

Dragon Her Back by Susannah Scott
Series: Las Vegas Dragons #3
Published on December 15, 2014
Genres: Love, Romance, New Adult
Pages: 225 : Ebook edition
Source: Purchased on Amazon
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A paranormal category romance from Entangled’s Covet imprint…

How To Claim Your Dragon…

As the head of security of Vegas’s Crown Jewel casino―and its hidden dragonshifter sanctuary―ice dragon Darius Dachien commands respect. Unfortunately, that respect isn’t always reciprocated. In fact, when it comes to the stunning Mei Chen, hostility might be a better word. Which makes things even harder for Darius, since Mei is his dragon mate. Without her, his dragon form is fading fast… and once lost, will be gone forever.

Mei can’t deny the fierce chemistry that simmers between them. If Darius were ever to discover who―or rather, what―she really is, she wouldn’t just lose him, but her place with the dragonshifters. The moment Mei’s past comes crashing into her present, she realizes her time for secrets has ended. Now she must reveal her true self… and risk both her life and her heart with the one man who could destroy her.

I have to say, I’m really loving these Entangled Publishing novels/novellas. They’re short enough that I don’t get bored with the romance, but long enough to build up a connection with the characters and their situations that I don’t feel too much like I need more out of a story. And they’re oh so steamy too…

This particular novel was great! While it did feel a little rushed and confusing in the beginning (probably my own fault since I haven’t read the others in the series and I got confused with some of the dragon jargon they used) I felt that it was all wrapped up well later in the story.

It got really exciting around the 70% mark because everything started coming together and we were really hitting the high plot point of the story. I really enjoyed Mei’s character, as well as Darius’. They were both intriguing in their own ways and when they were together there was a very real electricity between the two. I often feel that sometimes the romance isn’t built up enough, but here it was just right. I didn’t want anymore because I felt it was left off at a good plot point, and I certainly didn’t want any less!

Overall, a really great novel and I’m intrigued to check out the other novels in the series! The entire concept surrounding the dragons/humans and the mating philosophy was really cool too and something I’ve never encountered in a story before, let alone a romance novel.

No Strings Attached by Nicolette Day

No Strings Attached by Nicolette Day
Series: Falling for You #1
Published on June 10, 2014
Genres: Love, Romance, New Adult
Pages: 77 : Ebook edition
Source: Purchased on Amazon
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She wants one night. He wants her forever.

Hayden Summers just landed the job of a lifetime taking pictures for Timemagazine, but she’s determined to leave with no regrets. The first thing on her list? Erase the memory of her cheating ex with a wild night of anonymous sex. The second? Figure out why her best friend, sexy bar owner Jace Jennings, stopped speaking to her the night she told him about the job.

Jace has a problem. Hayden isn’t just leaving the country, she’s risking herlife—just when he’s realized he’s in love with her. When fate traps them in the storage room of his bar together, barely contained desire simmers to surface. In one last attempt to keep her, Jace offers Hayden the one thing she wants: a night of hot sex, no strings attached. But when the night is over, will Jace be able to let her go? And will Hayden leave with her heart intact?

As promised, I had said I was going to read the first one in the series, and I’m so glad I did! I LOVED the relationship between Jace and Hayden and seeing them interact was so, so, cool. Especially in their own novella, whereas in Tempted by the Soldier, we only got to see snippets of it.

Reading this made me want to read the second novel all over again, mostly to see how their relationship has grown and developed. The only thing I wish was that this could be longer! I wanted to see MORE of their relationship and fall in love with each character more. Irregardless, I loved this short little novella, and it was so worth checking out. I hope Nicolette Day decides (or in the process of) putting out more novels either for this series or just in general, because I’ve grown to love her writing!