Girl in Snow by Danya Kukafka

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Girl in Snow by Danya Kukafka

WHO ARE YOU WHEN NO ONE IS WATCHING?

When a beloved high schooler named Lucinda Hayes is found murdered, no one in her sleepy Colorado suburb is untouched—not the boy who loved her too much; not the girl who wanted her perfect life; not the officer assigned to investigate her murder. In the aftermath of the tragedy, these three indelible characters—Cameron, Jade, and Russ—must each confront their darkest secrets in an effort to find solace, the truth, or both. In crystalline prose, Danya Kukafka offers a brilliant exploration of identity and of the razor-sharp line between love and obsession, between watching and seeing, between truth and memory.

Compulsively readable and powerfully moving, Girl in Snow offers an unforgettable reading experience and introduces a singular new talent in Danya Kukafka.

This is easily one of the most interesting, and also somewhat disturbing, books I’ve read in a long time. The start of our story is raw and honest, and it chilled me immediately.

This story follows Cameron, the boy who loved Lucinda too much; Jade, the girl who wanted her life; and Russ, an officer assigned to investigate the murder. The first thing I will say is that this author impressed me with how she took what is considered a thriller, and flipped it all around. While Lucinda’s murder is the glue binding everything together, you almost start to forget about her at points. You get so engrossed with the characters, what’s happening, their secrets, their thoughts. It was a unique take on the idea of a thriller and I enjoyed that.

I read this book in about six hours. I only put it down the first night to sleep and immediately started in again the next day. The way this story is laid out worked well. Each chapter focuses on one particular character and even with a large cast of characters, it was easy to follow, and not lose anyone in the story.

Cameron’s character swung from scary to timid. You weren’t sure if you wanted to help him or hide from him. Jade…I felt for her character. As we learn more about her as the story continues on, you feel your heart break for this teenage girl who is trying to figure things out while also protecting herself. Russ’s character is unique, and yet almost what you’d expect at the same time. He’s lost. Even though he’s a police officer and middle-age, he’s lost. All of our characters are. I think that’s what makes this story captivating; everyone is lost in their own way.

If you’re looking for a thriller that brings a fresh perspective to what we normally think of as a thriller, this is the book for you. The story is painful, visceral, and almost feels a little too raw in parts. But those are the aspects that I enjoyed the most. The characters are extremely flawed, but also not unlike most of us. A fantastic debut for the author.

 

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Believe by Zoe Danielle

Believe

Believe by Zoe Danielle

Believe follows the story of Kate, whose marriage unexpectedly comes to an end when her abusive husband leaves her. Although, it’s probably a good thing, it still knocks her to the ground.

Needing a fresh start, Kate asks for a transfer in her company and moves to the UK for a six month period. Hoping this will give her the time she needs to clear her head and mend her broken heart.

That’s when she meets Luke.

Luke Bennett is a sexy, dirty, arrogant and an extremely alluring police officer who is interested in getting to know Kate better. Kate’s friends convince her to use this brilliant opportunity as a ‘distraction’ which will help her take her mind from her failed marriage and divorce proceedings.

But a one night stand quickly turns into something more as Kate finds herself falling for Luke…

Advanced readers have described Believe as an addicting read which will make your heart race and mouth water.

This is my first book by this author and I was extremely honored to be asked to review this for her.

The story starts with Kate, and her husband, Dale. To be entirely blunt, Dale is a jerk. I had an ex named Dale so it was extremely easy for me to loathe him. The way he treated Kate made my blood boil. It really did. With that said, as much as it pained me to watch Kate experience his abuse, I felt the author did a really great job with the thoughts that Kate would be going through. I felt like I was right in the room with Kate after Dale was telling her how ugly and worthless she was.

I enjoyed seeing Kate take her remaining strength and go to the UK for work. I think when you’re really beaten down, there are still glimmers of fight and I admired Kate took the sliver insider her and ran with it.

When she finally meets Luke, its a bar and she’s out with her co-workers, who encourage her to just have a one night stand with him. But one night stands sometimes turn into multiple nights…

The chemistry between Luke and Kate was smoldering. I loved Kate’s character; many times we see her reflecting on how Luke treats her nothing like Dale did. How he respects her and is admiring. He isn’t just giving her lip service, he does show her with his actions. Obviously, their physical chemistry is intense. One thing I loved about Luke and Kate is how they managed to push each other, but it was never some insane thing. Yes, they also push the boundaries sexually, but its never into a land of crazy fetishes.

Let me clarify: nothing wrong with crazy fetishes, but I don’t think either of these characters would have really fit that mold. It would have been forced, so I admired the author for restraining them.

I don’t want to give more of the story away, because of spoilers. I really enjoyed this book. The only parts of it I didn’t necessarily like was the ending because it felt like too much happening all at once. For me, I wished the conflict of her divorce came up sooner. There are other conflicts but I just felt they were a bit rushed at the end. Again, its not something that would deter me from this book, but from my personal perspective, I would have liked it spread out a bit.

BelieveTeaser

 

Wednesday by E.L. Todd

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Wednesday by E.L. Todd

It took me a long time to forgive Hawke—a very long time.

But now that I have, I feel nothing but unbridled joy. Everything is exactly as it should have been two years ago. He’s just what I need, and not just now, but forever.

Until disaster strikes.

We promised each other forever, but will Hawke honor that promise when his world comes crumbling down? When the ground cracks below his feet, will we still stand?

Or will we fall?

Did this book give me a heart attack? Yes. I swear…I think E.L. Todd might like to torture readers and her characters.

This book broke my heart. It truly did. I think once you read the first two books (Monday and Tuesday), its so hard to watch Frankie and Hawke ever struggle in anything. At this point, I’m so invested in them that I’m worried if they hit a patch of ice while walking on the sidewalk. I mean, its intense and sort of crazy.

To be entirely honest, I really love E.L. Todd’s writing. She manages to evoke such imagery and very intense feelings for me. I feel like writing about love is truly her calling. She nails it.

But I did not love this book. As a reader, I felt like we Hawke and Frankie go through some of the same battles over and over and to be honest, it was starting to drain on me a bit.

With that said, I did admire aspects of the book. One is that Hawke finally seeks help. I apologize if that is a spoiler for some, but its a part of the book that is paramount. I also valued that Frankie rises above Hawke and manages to achieve other goals of hers. But to be honest, while I liked these things, they also annoyed me. There was a part of me that almost didn’t want them to end up together anymore. A part of me wanted them to not be together just because their back and forth was starting to drain on me mentally.

I still would recommend this book and when I post my review to Amazon, I’d still do 4 stars. This book isn’t written badly or anything like that. Its just that for myself, I feel like two books would have been more adequate or if this book were shorter. But I think to keep seeing Frankie and Hawke do this push and pull, it just became too much for me at certain points.

Its a great series and Frankie and Hawke have a love like no other. Its a love that I think most of us can only hope to find for ourselves.

Something to Believe In by Ella Fox

 

SomethingToBelieveIn

Something To Believe In by Ella Fox

A rock star with millions of adoring fans.
A country girl with a broken heart.

Rock star, Tyson Allen, is the hilarious, in-your-face bass player for one of the world’s most popular bands. Behind his funny-guy exterior hides a tragic past full of unbearable horror. After turning to drugs and alcohol to numb the pain, Tyson hit rock bottom on a New York City sidewalk. For several minutes, Tyson Allen was gone–dead. And now, he’s trying to rebuild a life he nearly lost. He found a way to move forward and live life—a way he was comfortable with. All was going according to plan until he met the new assistant for his band.

In an instant, everything changes.

Daisy Hammond has a slew of her own tragedies. And the last thing she needs is a crush on one of America’s rock legends. But unlike Tyson, her kind and generous heart refuses to push people away. Working with the band isn’t easy as Tyson doesn’t want anything to do with her. Despite his standoffish and rude demeanor, Daisy can’t deny the pull she has for him. Determined to stay away from the bass player with an attitude, she goes about her business without getting in his way. But one night, their desire for one another erupts. Now it’s up to Daisy to pull Ty out of his shell before the tour ends and they go their separate ways. Will she find a way to break down Ty’s walls before it’s too late?

Dear Ella Fox,

what am I supposed to do now? This is the last book in the Renegade Saints series and so now, unfortunately, I’m going to need something else from you. So get cracking.

Being serious for a moment, Ella Fox is one of my go-to’s. We all have them. Its that group of authors that could literally write about the process of cleaning their toilet and we’d one-click and be fascinated. So that is Ella to me. And now I’m lost.

If you’ve read the other books in this series, you’d have to be insanely curious about Tyson. After reading the last book (Cole & Devon’s story), I was like…what is happening with Ty? I mean, this seriously plagued me for months.

I truly can say that I appreciated the approach that Ella took with this book. I actually felt like she went a bit outside of her norm. Not that every book is the same at all. But in past books, we might see more of the Hart family sneak in, or the couple may have more conflict. This book is different. And Ella might say I’m giving her too much credit here, but I felt like this book was the perfect one to give closure to the series as the characters are gaining a certain amount of closure too.

Tyson and Daisy spark immediately. I mean, its intense. And he’s a huge jerk to her to try and push her away. One thing I loved is that the Saints boys know each other so well, so the others are well aware of the this connection. They see it immediately. Instead of leaving Tyson to screw this up royally, they just call him out on it. Which is what a true friend would do for each other.

Once Daisy and Tyson start getting closer and opening up to each other, its explosive. Ella Fox writes the most intense sex scenes. I mean…Tyson and Daisy are off the charts. But its the way they interact otherwise that makes the story really special.

Tyson has had addiction issues and an extremely rough childhood. As someone who has had family members with addiction issues, I felt she gave a lot of reality to Tyson’s character and some of the anxiety that he experienced, especially as he became intimate on a more mental level with Daisy. You knew he really wanted to open up but was scared that she wouldn’t be accepting or that something bad would happen.

As for Daisy, I just loved her. It was hilarious to watch her be professional and then when she would get mad, she just lit up and then her more country roots came out. I enjoyed that a lot. As she learns more about Tyson, and his past, she isn’t trying to slap a band-aid on him. She listens. She understands. She never throws anything in his face or betrays his trust by using his past against him.

I want to give this review more and more of my words, but I keep retracting because I’m scared I’ll leave a spoiler. And of any book, I do not want to spoil this one for you. I want you to experience it for yourself because it will make you think and it will truly make you appreciate the fragility of life and how important it is to have those great people in your corner.

Ella closes out the series so beautifully with Tyson and Daisy. I am not sure how intentional it was for Tyson to be the end, but I thought she did it flawlessly and I adored this book.

Neighbor Dearest by Penelope Ward

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Neighbor Dearest by Penelope Ward

From New York Times bestselling author, Penelope Ward, comes a friends-to-lovers story with sexy new characters.

After getting dumped, the last thing I needed was to move next door to someone who reminded me of my ex-boyfriend, Elec.

Damien was a hotter version of my ex.

The neighbor I’d dubbed “Angry Artist” also had two massive dogs that kept me up with their barking.

He wanted nothing to do with me. Or so I thought until one night I heard laughter coming through an apparent hole in my bedroom wall.

Damien had been listening to all of my phone sessions with my therapist.

The sexy artist next door now knew all of my deepest secrets and insecurities.

We got to talking.

He set me straight with tips to get over my breakup.

He became a good friend, but Damien made it clear that he couldn’t be anything more.

Problem was, I was falling hard for him anyway. And as much as he pushed me away, I knew he felt the same…because his heartbeat didn’t lie.

I thought my heart had been broken by Elec, but it was alive and beating harder than ever for Damien.

I just hoped he wouldn’t shatter it for good.

I was REALLY looking forward to this book. Like, really looking forward to it. And then I didn’t get an ARC. Ugh, #firstworldbloggerproblems. HaHa. So of course, I bought this thing and devoured it in a few hours and kept bouncing between loving Penelope Ward and wondering if she and I would be ending our imaginary friendship before it really had a chance to develop.

Poor Chelsea. Elec was such a tool. Ugh. That guy. The nerve. My poor Chelsea. Sorry, I became really invested in Chelsea. I think it was because you really can see her point in wanting closure and wanting to know what she “did wrong”.

Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on how you look at it, Damien was listening in on all of her conversations with her therapists and he had no problem making pure fun of her for it. (That therapist was sort of a quack though, I mean…a unicorn?). Thus, their friendship begins.

I really enjoyed how Penelope Ward let this friendship turn into more, but it was so gradual that you could have almost missed it. And I don’t mean that we don’t see moments of steaminess or heat between Chelsea and Damien, I mean she wove it in so easily. You could easily see two friends having the conversations they had and interacting the way they did. It made total sense.

But when Chelsea gets a surprise and sees Elec, Damien rescues her with what I would call the kiss to end all other kisses. You knew it was a moment that Damien both had been wanting and yet, dreading.

Chelsea and Damien were such great characters. Chelsea is just that kind-hearted friend that has no idea how much much people really see in her. I wouldn’t call her oblivious, but I think she is one of those characters who is living life and isn’t spending all of her time worrying about other things that people say about her. That isn’t to say she doesn’t worry, but its not her whole life focus.

Damien is just this observant, super-intelligent guy. Its funny how as we learn more about him in the story, more and more surprises come out. And its not like you’re surprised once you learn the secret. You sort of can see it when you look back. You almost wonder how you didn’t see it.

I don’t want to give away the reasoning why Damien keeps pushing Chelsea away. I will say it was not something I saw coming at all. I thought Chelsea and Damien’s love story was one that was so beautiful and I felt it covered so much true love. Not just the love we like to read about. But the love that really is out there. The love that makes sacrifices. The love that may lead to pain, knowingly. Penelope Ward really did an excellent job with Damien and Chelsea and you are completely missing out if you do not take time to read “Neighbor Dearest”.

Tuesday by E.L.Todd

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Tuesday by EL Todd

Getting over Hawke is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.

I couldn’t breathe, sleep, or eat. Every day was more agonizing than the one that followed. But somehow, after two years of suffering, I finally got back on my feet.

And I moved on.

Now I’m living in the city and running my own bakery. Life is good again. I’m surrounded by good friends that I love, and every day is even better than the last.

Until everything changes.

Now I have to face him after two years of silence. I have to look him in the eye and act like he has no effect on me. I have to hold my head high and pretend he didn’t shatter me into a million pieces.

I have to act like he doesn’t mean a damn thing to me.

Can I fool him? Can I fool myself?

I highly would recommend all bloggers have surgeries that put them on bed rest. I am blazing through books I need to review. Its ridiculous how much time one can really devote to reading when they aren’t supposed to be doing anything else.

So after the way “Monday” ended, I am not going to even try and act like I was looking forward to reading “Tuesday”. E.L. Todd has woven such a connection between Frankie and Hawke and I honestly felt like a part of me died at the end of book 1. But back to that surgery that’s left me with more time than I know what to do with…

“Tuesday” starts with Marie and Axel becoming engaged. Frankie has her bakery in Manhattan and its been two years since she’s seen Hawke. We don’t hear about anything else that’s happened in the meantime. I, personally, appreciated that the author took that approach. There is a scene where Frankie and Hawke basically have almost a confessional type of moment and I actually felt that although it was intensely painful to experience, I felt it was right for Frankie to be the one to tell Hawke everything she experienced. Had it just been narrated, I don’t think it would have done it justice.

It was really interesting to see Frankie and Hawke both just existing. I don’t think anyone really noticed their connection until they truly focused on it. I appreciated that when Frankie or Hawke tried to communicate to Axel or Marie about being soul mates, no one really understood. Not because I don’t think Marie and Axel aren’t meant to be together, but I think when you have that special connection with someone, its just there.

I think in life, we sometimes meet people and that connection is just there. No one else understands but its there. That’s what Frankie and Hawke have. This book seemed to more, to me, about both Frankie and Hawke both healing. Its like they were both forgiving themselves and each other at the same time. But even as those things are happening, we are seeing them evolve as a couple. There is a scene where Frankie was upset about the other women in Hawke’s past who have been in his bed. He initially talks to her about it but he rectifies the situation. Not because he just has money and can, but you can tell he truly can see why Frankie feels the way she does. To me, it was a poignant moment.

Not going to lie, I am SO nervous for “Wednesday” because I just don’t know that I think E.L. Todd will make it easy on Frankie and Hawke and I want them to have their happily ever after like, 5 books before this even existed.

Stranded: A Winter Romance Duet by Samantha Chase and Noelle Adams

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Stranded by Samantha Chase and Noelle Adams

What happens when two people who are supposed to hate each other are stranded together in a winter storm? Cool down after a hot summer with two fun, festive winter romances available together for a limited time.

Moonlight in Winter Park by Samantha Chase – When Hope barges into the mountain retreat of her brother’s boss, demanding that he not be forced to work through the holidays, she doesn’t except to be trapped alone with him in a snow storm. And she doesn’t expect them to give into the attraction that was there all along. But will the magic still be there when the storm is over?

One Night in the Ice Storm by Noelle Adams – When she returns to her hometown for the holidays, Rachel doesn’t expect to be stranded in an ice storm with only David Harris for company. Eight years ago, David took her virginity and then broke her heart, and she doesn’t plan to forgive him. She thinks she doesn’t care about him anymore, until one hot night…when the ice finally melts.

Okay, so my guilty pleasure (and its not even guilty because I am not ashamed at all, y’all), is Christmas in July. So when I was given a Christmas duet book in August, it was like a perfect storm. Like, believe me when I say I could have had a panic attack from my excitement.

So let’s start with Book 1: Moonlight in Winter Park

This book was so sweet and yet started out so sadly. We meet Hope and her brother, Ted. They are both dealing with the grief of their parents loss but while her brother is just working non-stop, Hope is hanging onto traditions and trying hard to help them live on. I really felt for her. She was just trying so hard. Hope harbors some resentment towards her brother and his boss, the elusive GB James, who is always demanding more hours and then asks Ted to work over Christmas. Hope is beyond angry.

In the meantime, Hope does meet a nice man named Beckett, but its only the early stages of a few dates. As Christmas approaches, Hope makes plans with friends until she gets a call for Ted about his fiance’. Of course, she can’t get a hold of Ted since he’s off with his boss but she manages to find them out in the mountains at a winter park resort. Ted sort of pulls a fast one on Hope when he realizes that Hope knows his boss. The elusive GB James is also Beckett.

It was so fun watching them fall in love. I mean, it truly was. Its so easy to read romance and not love every single love story and every couple, but seeing Hope and Beckett both change around each other was really heartwarming. There are aspects in the story where we see Hope somewhat understanding why Beckett operates the way he does, but we also see Beckett coming around to Hope’s side of things, where he should ease up a bit.

I don’t want to add more because it’ll spoil it for you, but its just fantastic. Trust me on this.

Book 2: One Night in the Ice Storm

This was my first experience reading Noelle Adams and I was definitely not disappointed. The story starts with Rachel coming into town to visit her mother but there is an ice storm in town and its intensifying. Rachel’s mother and brother are stranded in town, and a longtime family friend, David Harris, stops by to check on her. However, he also becomes stranded.

Rachel and David’s dynamic is sort of hilarious because he’s insistent on helping her and she’s hell bent on having no help at all. When we realize the backstory that David took Rachel’s virginity years ago and then left her high and dry, then we realize her hatred for him. Hatred that is still really love. And David’s feelings for Rachel have clearly never changed, not once in eight years.

Again, I don’t want to give away the ending because that would be spoiling a great ending for you.

I am eagerly hoping that Samantha and Noelle hook up again to do a book duet or possibly write something together because I definitely think their styles meld well and I loved both of these stories.