Thursday, March 21, 2013

Review: Love on the Lifts by Rachel Hawthorne

Title: Love on the Lifts
Author: Rachel Hawthorne

Winter Break super-secret perfect cocoa recipe:
8 oz steamed whole milk
(no skim! doesn't work!)
2 tbsp. dark cocoa powder (big scoops)
1 tbsp. sugar (can't be too sweet)
4 dried, crushed mint leaves
(or 1 tbsp. mint syrup)
Stir thoroughly. Add mint swizzle stick. Combine with cute ski instructor, or brother's cute best friend, or cute guy you never noticed was so cute...Enjoy.

Love on the Lifts on Goodreads
 Kala's Review:

This book was sweet and cute and clean - basically a generic romance for teens. It just didn't have that WOW factor. The plot line is one that's overused and Hawthorne does nothing new with it here. Girl likes Douchebag guy. Sweet guy likes girl. Girl takes awhile, but eventually realizes Douchebag guy is a douchebag and falls for the sweet guy. Happily ever after.

Kate was one of the most oblivious and idiotic romantic heroines I've ever read. She met Brad (her brother's college roommate) once and "fell in love" with him. Right from the start she can't give any reasons why she's head over heels for him except that he's hot. She even says "What else is there?" when her Aunt asks her what other reasons she has for liking Brad.

The setting for this book is a ski resort where Kate and her two friends (all high school seniors) have to share a 3-bedroom condo with her brother Sam and his two friends (Brad and Joe). Brad is the roommate that Kate has a crush on.

As soon as Brad enters the picture it's made VERY obvious that he's a complete dirtbag. One of his first lines is about how his favorite things are "driving fast and kissing babes." He hooks up another girl on the very first night of their vacation and moves in to the other girl's house for the duration. His lines are all skeevy and douchebaggy, he moved in with another girl, and Kate still thinks he's the most amazing thing since sliced bread.

Enter Joe. The other friend of her brother's. It's made VERY obvious from the start that Joe has a thing for Kate. He's super sweet, super attentive, flirtatious with her, asks her on a date, kisses her, and is generally awesome. But she is wishy washy about it for the majority of the book (gotta get conflict SOMEWHERE I suppose).

It bugs me that authors don't realize the best characters are not 100% evil or 100% good. Making Brad a complete tool and making Joe Mr. Perfect makes them BOTH boring. There was never any 'love triangle' or any reason for the reader to ever believe that Kate wouldn't come to her senses and go for Joe instead of Brad.

I had two other issues with the book.

1) Were they or weren't they all having sex? It's kind of implied that they were. ALL of them. Kate's friend Allie sleeps in the same bed as Sam. Kate's other friend Leah moves in with a ski instructor for the duration of the vacation. Brad moves in with his new girlfriend. Kate sleeps in the same bed as Joe. While there isn't any explicit mention of sex, it's kind of implied that everyone is pretty much doing it like jackrabbits and that's something that annoys me in a YA novel - especially one that is otherwise packaged as a sweet and clean romance.

2) The "Kate-have-a-good-time fund" .... DROVE ME ABSOLUTELY NUTS. How many times did this saying need to be uttered? ZERO in my opinion, but instead it's brought up OVER AND OVER AND OVER. I know it's minor, but I admit I have occasional pet peeves and this is one of them.

Overall, the book was just mediocre. I didn't hate it, but I didn't like it that much either.

2 out of 5 stars.

Link to Kala's review on Goodreads:

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Review: Breathless by Brigid Kemmerer

Title: Breathless (an Elemental novella)
Author: Brigid Kemmerer
Too many secrets. Not enough time.

Nick Merrick is supposed to be the level-headed one. The peacemaker. Since it’s just him and his three hotheaded brothers against the world, that’s a survival tactic.

But now he’s got problems even his brothers can’t help him survive.

His so-called girlfriend, Quinn, is going quick as mercury from daring to crazy. Meanwhile, Quinn’s dancer friend Adam is throwing Nick off balance, forcing him to recognize a truth he’d rather shove back into the dark.

He can feel it—-the atmosphere is sizzling. Danger is on the way. But whatever happens next, Nick is starting to find out that sometimes nothing you do can keep the peace.

Breathless on Goodreads
 Kala's Review:

I don't usually like novellas. They're just too short and always leave me wanting MORE MORE MORE. However, I'm addicted to Brigid Kemmerer's Elemental series and as soon as I read the blurb for this one I HAD to read it. I couldn't stand Quinn in Spark and I was curious about Nick, so getting a little insight in to their relationship and Nick's head was something I've really been looking forward to.

While it was short, this book REALLY makes me want a full length Nick book! I know the third book is a Hunter book, but I've heard rumors the next one is about Nick (please please please).

I don't think it's a big spoiler to say that Nick is having sexual identity issues - he's dating Quinn, but he finds himself attracted to her dance partner (a guy named Adam). I don't usually enjoy reading M/M (mostly because I like to imagine myself in the female part of a romance novel... who doesn't??), but reading about his inner conflict was quite fascinating. Usually gay characters in YA are already self confident and sure about their sexual preference and know what they want. Nick definitely has no idea what he wants and is scared about the reactions of his family and friends if they find out.

Gabriel's book was my favorite, so far, but I have a feeling I'm really going to like Nick's. Nick has this inner insecurity that I think we all feel, but he doesn't come across as a pathetic weakling. Can't wait to see more by Kemmerer!

**I received a free copy of this novella from Thank you!!!**

4 of 5 stars

Link to Kala's review on Goodreads:

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Review: Reckless by S.C. Stephens

Title: Reckless
Author: S.C. Stephens
Can love survive when life gets Reckless?

When the band hits it big, Kiera and Kellan must ask themselves: Can their love for each other survive the constant pressures of superstardom? The friendships they've formed, the new family they've found, and the history they've forged will all play a part in helping them navigate the turbulent waters of the band's exploding popularity. A greedy executive hell-bent on success, a declining pop star looking for an edge, and a media circus that twists lies into truths are just some of the obstacles the lovers will have to overcome if they are going to remain together. Fame comes with a price-but will it cost Kiera and Kellan everything?

Reckless on Goodreads
 Kala's Review:

I really really really wanted to like this book a lot. While Thoughtless and Effortless weren't without flaws, the books were both compelling and I found myself sucked in to Kiera and Kellan's trials and tribulations. Reckless just doesn't come anywhere near that.

This book just shouldn't have been written. It really brings nothing new to Kellan and Kiera's relationship. In fact, the two get along just fine for pretty much the entire novel outside of a few minor spats that Kiera gets over almost instantly. The first 20-25% of the book is downright boring. I was wondering what the heck I was reading, because I haven't ever been BORED by S.C. Stephens before.

Perhaps it's because nothing new was introduced. I mean, yes, Kiera gets drunk and Denny takes her home and takes care of her (Kellan is out of town). But Kellan doesn't get mad about it and Denny is a perfect gentleman. Yes, one of Kellan's exes shows up and blackmails him about a sex tape, but Kellan's former man-whore status was already a dead horse beaten to death in the first two books. Kiera is mildly upset about the tape, but gets over it after a page or two. We spend the majority of the first 20-25% listening to KIera and Kellan call each other husband and wife (THEY ARE NOT ACTUALLY MARRIED) and be all lovey dovey with each other. It's cute, but a couple getting along perfectly doesn't make a good novel.

The middle of this book is good. I really liked the conflict that Sienna Sexton brought to the picture. While Kellan and Kiera still got along perfectly throughout all of it, it made sense and was still interesting because I wanted to find out exactly how everything was going to play out with Sienna as Kellan's fame continued to rise.


Then we get to the last 20% where things just go to shit again. Not in the sense that Kiera's life goes to shit. Quite the opposite. There is a car accident, but we're never afraid Kellan will die. He doesn't, of course, and the accident suddenly changes the public opinion on Kiera and from that point on, we spend probably 100 pages reading about how perfect life is for Kiera and Kellan and all the D-Bags.

Seriously, it's like a 100 page epilogue and that doesn't even include the ACTUAL epilogue which is pretty much pointless. Before we even get to the epilogue, we get to read all about how Kiera and Kellan have a 'perfect' wedding (in the hospital), how all of Sienna's fans suddenly hate her and now everyone loves Kiera (when before all the fans thought Kiera was 'stealing' Kellan from Sienna), how Kiera and Kellan go to the Grammys and of course the D-Bags win, how Kiera gets pregnant and has a baby, how her book becomes a huge self published bestseller and gets picked up by a traditional publisher, how they buy a huge house on 11 acres and it's so just goes on and on and on. Complete overkill!

Then we get a horribly long epilogue that really doesn't say anything new. I mean, we already know that Kiera and Kellan are happily married with a baby and a Grammy and a #1 album and a bestselling novel. What could the epilogue POSSIBLY TELL US? And the answer is... nothing really.

Stephens also tied up EVERY OTHER character's storylines as perfectly as possible. Griffin turns in to the perfect dad who marries Anna. Denny and his girlfriend get married and live happily ever after as they become the perfect managers for the D-Bags.

This book just reeked of Breaking Dawn syndrome. Completely unnecessary and everyone gets exactly what they want in the end without really losing anything. If the first 20% and the last 20% were cut out, this book would have been a lot better. Pretty much the only interesting parts were the entire storyline with Sienna (til the end) and almost everything with Griffin and Anna.

I don't know. This book just really disappointed me.

2 out of 5 stars.

Link to Kala's review on Goodreads:

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Review: Wait for You by J. Lynn

Title: Wait for You
Author: J. Lynn (aka Jennifer Armentrout)
Some things are worth waiting for…

Traveling thousands of miles from home to enter college is the only way nineteen-year-old Avery Morgansten can escape what happened at the Halloween party five years ago—an event that forever changed her life. All she needs to do is make it to her classes on time, make sure the bracelet on her left wrist stays in place, not draw any attention to herself, and maybe—please God—make a few friends, because surely that would be a nice change of pace. The one thing she didn’t need and never planned on was capturing the attention of the one guy who could shatter the precarious future she’s building for herself.

Some things are worth experiencing…

Cameron Hamilton is six feet and three inches of swoon-worthy hotness, complete with a pair of striking blue eyes and a remarkable ability to make her want things she believed were irrevocably stolen from her. She knows she needs to stay away from him, but Cam is freaking everywhere, with his charm, his witty banter, and that damn dimple that’s just so… so lickable. Getting involved with him is dangerous, but when ignoring the simmering tension that sparks whenever they are around each other becomes impossible, he brings out a side of her she never knew existed.

Some things should never be kept quiet…

But when Avery starts receiving threatening emails and phone calls forcing her to face a past she wants silenced, she has no other choice but to acknowledge that someone is refusing to allow her to let go of that night when everything changed. When the devastating truth comes out, will she resurface this time with one less scar? And can Cam be there to help her or will he be dragged down with her?

And some things are worth fighting for…

Wait for You on Goodreads
 Kala's Review:

This is more of a 3.5, but I'll round up to 4 because I'm a fan of Jennifer Armentrout's other stuff.

Wait for You is good, but it's just not anything special in the NA genre. It's well written, characters are fleshed out, decently paced, interesting plot... but it just doesn't have the same spark for me that the Lux or Diety series have.

Avery is way different from the rest of JLA's heroines. She's skittish and weak and for awhile, it was difficult to like her. She was realistic, but she definitely wasn't my favorite. I tend to prefer strong heroines, the weak ones drive me nuts.

Cameron is perfect, but he tends to be too perfect. He's amazingly good looking playboy, has a sexy tattoo and a six-pack, all the girls fall all over him... but the minute he meets Avery he is a sweetheart who turns in to a one-woman man. I struggled to find a flaw with him and I have a hard time believing a guy can be THAT perfect.

I found the back story and the conflict between Avery and her parents more interesting and complex than her relationship with Cameron. Cameron chases after Avery like a puppy dog for the majority of the book, until she finally gives in and starts dating him.

That said, the story was still cute and a fun read. There just isn't much originality here.

4 out of 5 stars.

Link to Kala's review on Goodreads:

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Review: Escorted by Claire Kent

Title: Escorted
Author: Claire Kent
She hired him to take her virginity...but now she wants even more.

Lori might be a popular romance writer, but she's never been anything but a flop with sex and love in her personal life. Still a virgin at twenty-six and increasingly frustrated by her inexperience, she decides to take matters into her own hands. She hires a talented, sexy male escort to take care of her inconvenient virginity.

She assumes one time with Ander will be enough, but she never dreams how much pleasure he can make her feel. Once isn't nearly enough. Twice isn't enough either. Soon, she becomes one of his regular clients.

Lori knows that nothing would be as foolish as falling in love with her paid escort, but she's never been wise with her heart. And, despite his professionalism, he doesn't seem entirely immune either.

Escorted on Goodreads
 Kala's Review:

I went in to this book expecting to dislike it because I don't like the idea of a male prostitute (er, escort), but so many reviewers I like had good things to say about it so I decided to give it a shot. Glad I did, because it was surprisingly good!

However, in order to like it I had to get past a few small grievances.

1) The pen name of our main character is Claire Kent (aka, the same name as the author of the book). This drove me nuts.

2) A best selling romance author is 26 years old and a virgin. I don't know. It's possible, but it just seems unlikely.

3) Very clinical and unsexy first few sex scenes. After reading the first sex scene, I was tempted to put the book down. Ander was very clinical about it - describing exactly what he was going to do in a very matter of fact way. Like, "We are going to watch a porn movie now. After that, you will be aroused and I will put this plastic mouth guard in before I give you oral sex." (That is not a direct quote, but that is about how UNsexy the scene was)

Fortunately, the book starts to take off after that. Once Lori actually loses her virginity and she and Ander start having more and more appointments, their lovemaking got hotter and hotter. My favorite scene - ELEVATOR SEX! Woo, that's when Ander finally let go and we got to see a little of the wild side.

Escorted flops a little at the end, becoming slightly cheesy and predictable, but overall it was very sweet. The progression of the relationship between Ander and Lori was as realistic as it can get when you're talking about a male prostitute and a romance author. I believed in them and liked them both and really enjoyed seeing their story unfold.

Definitely recommend this book!

4 out of 5 stars.

Link to Kala's review on Goodreads: