Monday, February 1, 2016

What Did You Read This Month? || January Edition


In which I share the books I read (or attempted to read) this month + other bookish ramblings...


The Last Boy and Girl in the World by Siobhan Vivian [review coming soon! 5 stars!]
Heart-Shaped Hack by Tracey Garvis-Graves [read my review]
The Score by Elle Kennedy [no review -- 2 stars]
Wicked Sexy Liar by Christina Lauren [read my reivew -- LOVED!]

I finished four books in January, two of which I gave 5-stars to (really, really loved)... while the other two didn't quite do it for me.  The definite stand out this month for me was WICKED SEXY LIAR.  If you know me, then you're already aware of my love for this series by Christina Lauren.  I was super excited to receive a copy early from the publisher and immediately dove in to it.  There's just something so addicting about their writing, and these characters, that hits me right in the spot.  I can't get enough -- and I refuse to believe this is the end to that series. I want more!!!

---


The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner [still reading]
Suffer Love by Ashley Herring Blake [still reading]

Right now I am currently in the middle of reading these two books.  Both are holding my interest and I hope to finish in the next week or so.  THE SERPENT KING came highly recommended, with a lot of glowing reviews.  The expectations were set high, and they are definitely delivering so far.  But it's the type of story I have to let digest a bit as I read, and that's probably why I am taking my time with it.  SUFFER LOVE is hitting me in my "love for contemporary YA" spot.  It reminds me a bit of Jessi Kirby's writing, mixed in with Heather Demetrios -- which is a definite win for me!  Stay tuned for my final thoughts on these two books.

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Earlier this month I went to Boston for ALA-Midwinter.  It was such an awesome experience!!  I had the best time finally meeting a lot of my bookish friends face to face.  We spent two days surrounded by books and endless laughs... what could be better?!  Below are the books I picked up, as well as a "blustery" cold pic of Jess and me as we explored the historic city of Boston, and the infamous lobster roll I devoured!


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I can never stick to a reading scheduled, so it's hard for me to say what I'll definitely be reading in February.  I do know that a highly anticipated pre-order of SUMMER SKIN by Kirsty Eagar will be making its way to me all the way from Australia.  As soon as that book arrives in my hands, you bet I'll be stopping everything to start it!  Be sure to check my instagram feed for the latest on what I am reading.


Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Review: Wicked Sexy Liar by Christina Lauren



Wicked Sexy Liar (Wild Seasons, #4) by Christina Lauren
Published: February 2, 2016 by Gallery Books
Source: From the publisher
When three college besties meet three hot guys in Vegas, anything can—and does—happen. Book Four in the New York Times Wild Seasons series that began with Sweet Filthy Boy (the Romantic Times book of the year that Sylvia Day called “a sexy, sweet treasure of a story”), Dirty Rowdy Thing, and Dark Wild Night.

For two people ambivalent about dating and love, they sure get naked around each other an awful lot . . .

London Hughes is very content to surf daily, tend bar, hang out with her group of friends, and slowly orient herself in the years after college. Everything’s going great and according to the non-plan.

But when a wave knocks her for a loop one morning, then Luke Sutter’s flirtatious smile knocks her for another that evening, she veers slightly off course…and into his path. Sure, he’s a total player, but the Why not—it’s only one night is a persistent voice in her ear.

For his part, Luke’s been on hookup autopilot for so long that he rarely ever pauses to consider what he’s doing. But after an amazing time with London, he realizes that he hasn’t been moving on from a devastating heartbreak so much as he’s been drifting to wherever—and whomever—the current takes him. With London he wants more.

Every relationship involves two people…plus their pasts. And as much as she enjoys her fling with Luke, when London learns about his past—more specifically, who’s in it—everything becomes the brand of complicated she strives to avoid. It’s up to Luke then to change some things in order to try and ensure he’s not something she’ll outright avoid as well. [goodreads]

A Christina Lauren book, especially in this series, never fails to disappoint me.  I was lucky to receive a copy from the publisher so that I could share my love for this series yet again.  Losing myself to the pages of this fictional, yet so irresistible world, has become my ultimate happy place.

I feel like Luke and London are the two characters I knew the least in this series so far.  That's one of the beauties about these stories is that we get glimpses of past characters, or up and coming characters from book to book, so it feels as though each story steadily flows into the next.  However, with Luke and London, I was only aware of their statuses of who they were, never truly know HOW they were.  I liked that mystery quite a bit.

London is tending bar at night, while surfing the waves during the day.  Her dream to be a graphic designer still lingers, yet she hasn't quite found the push to turn dream into reality.  One night while pouring drinks, she meets Luke -- every bit the opposite of her usual type.  A proposition is made, and in true Christina Lauren fashion, these two act first and think later.  What should have been just a one night thing, slowly creeps into something more as Luke continues to show up at London's bar, and its not just the drinks that are mixing with her mind.

I loved the push and pull these characters had on one another.  Their intensity was so infectious, immediately causing me to root for them.  Understanding London's hesitancy, and Luke's throw caution to the wind, there were some serious sparks flying back and forth.  There is also a deeper story, from both their pasts that plays a big role into the people they are today.  It always amazes me how the writing duo of Christina Lauren can so perfectly articulate the messy side to love, yet portrays the beauty in what letting go can become.

It's no surprise that I read this book in 24 hours.  I am, and continue to be, a total Christina Lauren fangirl -- especially for this particular series.  I'm curious if this will be the final chapter in the lives of these characters I've grown to love... or will they come back and surprise us with another irresistible tale?  Either way, I know I can always rely on a good re-read to pull me away and surrender to an addicting literary experience.


Monday, January 25, 2016

Review: Heart-Shaped Hack by Tracey Garvis-Graves



Heart-Shaped Hack by Tracey Garvis-Graves
Published: August 25, 2015
Source: Purchased e-book
When Kate Watts abandoned her law career to open a food pantry in Northeast Minneapolis, she never dreamed it would be this difficult. Facing the heartbreaking prospect of turning hungry people away, she is grateful for the anonymous donations that begin appearing at the end of each month. Determined to identify and thank her secret benefactor, she launches a plan and catches Ian —a charismatic hacker with a Robin Hood complex—in the act.

Ian intrigues Kate in a way no man ever has. But after learning he’s snooped around on her personal computer, she demands retribution. Impressed with her tolerance and captivated by her spirit, he complies and begins to slowly charm his way past her defenses. Time spent with Ian is never boring, and Kate soon finds herself falling for the mysterious hacker.

But Ian has enemies and they’re growing restless. In the hacking world, exploiting a target’s weakness is paramount, and no price is too high to stop an attack. And when Kate learns exactly how much Ian has paid, she’ll discover just how strong her love is for the man who has hacked his way into her heart. [goodreads]

I've decided I am a hit or miss with this author.  I read her debut, On the Island, a few years ago and was really swept away by it.  But since then, I haven't been as wow'ed by her stories.  This one though, definitely held my interest, but I wouldn't claim it as a favorite.  There were equal part enjoyable moments, as well as other times that didn't quite sit well with me.  So I'm sort of on the fence as to how I'd rate this novel -- maybe somewhere in the middle?

The story begins with Kate working in her food shelter, where she receives an anonymous donation that basically pulls her non-profit business out of the almost going under zone.  She is gracious for the donation, but also skeptical and wants to discover who this mysterious giver may be.  I had hoped that the mystery played out a bit longer.  I felt that by Ian revealing himself right away, sort of sucked the romance out of the story.  Perhaps they could have met, but he could have revealed his identity as the donor later on?  Anyway... as she gets to know Ian, she also realizes that his personal identity is quite the mystery.  His professional life as a computer hacker soon surfaces, but still possesses its own mysteries as to who Ian truly is.

The tone of the novel felt quirky and humorous in just the right moments, which I think deflected what could have been some seriously awkward moments.  Especially when Ian hacks into Kate's computer, looking at her credit card activity to reveal where she is.  To be honest, that screams CREEP FACTOR to me.  Yet, Kate's personality, even though she was skeptical at first, went with the flow.  I'm not sure how realistic that would be, because let's be real -- if a guy you barely knew owned up to looking at your credit card activity, wouldn't that freak you out just a bit?  But alas, the joy of fiction.. I knew not to take it too seriously.  And as Kate did, I went with the flow and kept an open mind.

As the story progresses, so does their relationship.  Their feelings deepen, but so does Kate's questions about Ian's true identity.  What started out as fun and games, is now taking on a more serious tone.  As the story reaches its climax, I found myself swept away again as Tracey Garvis-Graves has that effect on me.  In these moments is when I remembered what I enjoyed about her writing -- the balance of humor and emotion which causes me to keep reading, cresting til the very end.  Though the novel possessed some questionable plot lines, and had me second-guessing the character's intentions, it definitely held my interest.  I'm definitely sticking around for what's to come from this author.


Friday, January 22, 2016

Exclusive Excerpt: LOUD IS HOW I LOVE YOU by Mercy Brown


Yesterday on the blog, I kicked off this amazing giveaway for LOUD IS HOW I LOVE YOU + other really awesome goodies (be sure to stop by that post after you read this one, because you do NOT want to miss this opportunity!).  Today I am thrilled to be sharing an exclusive excerpt from the book, thanks to the lovely Mercy Brown.  Fair warning: You'll definitely be needing/wanting this book after reading what's below!

Hi all! Thanks for stopping by for an exclusive LOUD excerpt! I’m so excited Ginger let me drop by to share some of Emmy and Travis with you!

The following scene comes a little bit later in the book, (Chapter 14), after Emmylou has put Travis through a lot of indecisive flailing. They both know she’s in love with him by now, but she’s terrified of screwing everything up and she just can’t figure out how to handle the situation.

This scene comes after they stay up all night to write a new song to play on the air at the local college radio station--and end up having their most intense hookup yet. But the next day, when Travis lets Emmy know his future plans may not be as band-centric as hers, they get into an argument and things are tense between them yet again. This excerpt opens when Travis is dropping Emmy off after brunch.

Hope you enjoy meeting Emmylou and Travis Soft and getting a peek at their story!


~~~
FROM LOUD IS HOW I LOVE YOU – CHAPTER 14

“Look, I just don’t get it,” I say. “I thought we were of the same mind on this.”

“On what?”

“The band, Travis. Come on, don’t be so dense.”

He’s gritting his teeth he’s so irritated with me, and he’s just not that easy to piss off—I should know, since I’m probably better at it than anyone.

“Is that all you ever think about? The only thing in the world you even care about?”

“I take it seriously. Don’t you?”

“Of course I do,” he says. “But maybe that’s not the only thing I take seriously. Maybe there are other things in life I care about, too.”

“Then that’s your problem,” I say. “Because those other things are going to hold you back.”

“Oh, right. Now I see,” he says, and turns to look away from me, dead ahead out the windshield. His eyes are cold and so far away. “I get it.”

“Get what?”

“Everything,” he says.

***

I go inside and curl up in a ball on my bed. I’m tired, I don’t want to do any schoolwork, I don’t even want to play my guitar because that makes me think about him and every time I think about him I just picture the moment he leaves, all pissed off at me again. I spend the day scribbling in my lyrics notebook, different crappy lines of songs I’ll never finish writing. I watch Raising Arizona and eat a bag of microwave popcorn. I look at the clock. It’s seven p.m. and I anxiously await the sound of van tires on my gravel driveway and get up to look out the window several times. Twenty-five minutes pass before Travis calls to say he’s still working on his paper so he’ll meet me at the studio at eight. Here we go, I think. Here it comes. He’s finally done.

I drive my CRX over the bridge into New Brunswick and park behind the Student Center. At a quarter to eight, Travis is there and he’s taken a shower and he’s in a black button-down over a Girls Against Boys T-shirt and jeans and Converse and his hair is wet and he’s got his acoustic guitar. He’s so cold to me that I feel frozen enough to crack. Billy has left the outside door propped open with a brick, so we go in up the stairs and Billy hands us each a beer (which is illegal, by the way) while Ween’s new single is playing. We drink them, and after the single, Billy interviews us on the air.

“Emmy and Travis Soft from New Brunswick’s very own Stars on the Floor are here tonight, and they’ll be opening up the Ag Field Day show,” Billy says into the microphone. “For those who are either dead or unconscious, Ween is coming home to headline, so it’s going to be mobbed. Congrats to you guys for nailing a sweet slot.”

“That sounds so wrong,” Travis says.

“It’s a gift. That’s why I’m the guy with the radio show,” Billy says. “So how’d you end up getting it? You deserve it, of course, but there were about twenty bands jockeying for it.”

“Well, after our last show at the Melody I barfed on Travis,” I say. “But the catch is, I was lucky enough to do it in front of Dean Ween.”

“Who could pass up a class act like that?” Travis says.

“Remember this is showbiz,” I say. “It’s not how good you are, it’s who you humiliate yourself in front of.”

“Everyone loves a spectacle,” Billy says.

He asks us to play our song, and I tell him the Overnight Sensations audience is getting to hear the debut of our latest tune, even before the rest of the band has heard it, which makes Billy super happy. He introduces us again and we start to play.

Even though we’ve played through “Loud” about four hundred times since last night, it’s not quite in my hands yet and Travis is mad at me so I’m distracted and nervous. The song is new enough that I still have to think about what I’m doing and what comes next. I worry if Travis has it down, but I shouldn’t because he obviously does. He glances up at me when we get to the chords and I start to sing. I close my eyes and try to lose that nervous wiggle in my voice, but I’m nervous, I can hear it. I hate that. We get to the chorus in one piece, though, and I sing it and it sounds even better than it did when I recorded it on the four-track. But the second verse comes, and as I’m about to sing the first line, I choke—I forget what the hell the words are, and for some stupid reason, I don’t have the lyrics out. I’m playing, so I can’t grab them from my guitar case at my feet. I just choke. And then I panic. I’m in the control room of WRSU and I’m dying up here.

I look at Travis with an apologetic look, and he just nods: It’s okay. When the riff comes back and I don’t sing, he starts singing the words for me and his voice is so good that even though I can remember the words now, I just play along and listen to him. He looks up at me, raises his eyebrows, and then I jump back in for the chorus, but he doesn’t drop out, he sings it along with me and breaks into this really cool-sounding harmony that he just makes up, right now, and it makes the song even better. It ends and Billy is on his feet, clapping and saying, “Bravo, bravo, magnifico!” in the control room, and I’m staring at Travis thinking he just saved my ass again. He’s my f***ing hero. And he’s looking back at me with a reassuring smile that I really don’t deserve.

Outside in the parking lot after we’ve loaded our guitars, Travis is leaning against the driver-side door of the van, his arms folded across his chest, and I’m facing him, leaning against my car feeling sheepish.

“I’m so sorry, Travis,” I say, and I can’t look at him so I look down at the blacktop under our feet.

“For what?”

“A lot of things. Screwing up on air tonight, for one.”

“You don’t need to be sorry for that,” he says. “That was no big deal.”

“Well then, I’m sorry that I’m like this,” I say.

“Like what?” he asks, raising his eyebrows.

“I don’t know, bossy?”

“For starters?”

“Flaky?”

“As a county fair pie crust?”

I know he’s teasing me but it still hurts.

“I’m sorry I was a jerk today. I’m just so afraid of losing what we have together.” My voice cracks and I don’t realize until now how close I am to crying. I think I’m talking about Stars on the Floor and his MBA, but now we both know that I’m not. His face softens and he drops his arms and wraps them around my shoulders, pulling me into him, and I let him because I have grown very fond of the feeling of him holding me.

“Emmy, we could have a lot more than this, you know?” he says. “If you’d just relax and let it happen.”

I look up into his face, lit all soft and dreamy by the streetlamp. I do and don’t want him to kiss me. Like, I’m longing for him to put his lips to mine, to put his hands in my hair, and I’m terrified of it. It doesn’t matter because he’s not kissing me, he’s waiting for me to say something back. Unfortunately, I do.

“Yeah,” I say. “But we’d have so much more to lose.”

He lets me go and leans back against the van again, shaking his head at me.

“Bean, you’re my best friend and you know how rare it is to find someone you get along this well with and can write music like this with.”

“Of course I know that,” he says, his tone with me rightfully exasperated.

“You’re my unicorn,” I say, and I don’t even care how dumb it sounds. “You’re like this magical, mythical beast and I never had a horse so maybe I don’t know how to take care of unicorns very well, but I do know I’ll never find another one.”

“I’m your unicorn?” he says, giving me a funny look. “Really, Emmy? Your magic beast?”

“Well? Unicorns are awesome, aren’t they?”

“Of course they’re awesome—they aren’t real. Unicorns don’t have school loans to pay off or parents to deal with or an alcoholic boss or concerns about supporting themselves on eight dollars an hour, and they don’t have any expectations of you, either.”

“It’s a metaphor.”

“Yeah, well I’m not a metaphor. I’m real and I’m right here in front of you, waiting for you to figure your shit out.”

And I don’t know what to say, because it’s not like I’m not trying.




Visit the author: Mercy Brown's website
Buy the book: Amazon | B&N | iTunes

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Giveaway [Prize Pack]: LOUD IS HOW I LOVE YOU by Mercy Brown


I had the opportunity to read an early copy of LOUD IS HOW I LOVE by Mercy Brown, late last year, and completely fell head over heels for it.  The book first popped up on my radar due to a recommendation from the amazing writing duo Christina Lauren (hopefully you know their books? if not, stop what you're doing & invest in the Wild Seasons series asap!).  LOUD is every bit addictive, angsty, and sexy!  I could not stop reading it once I started.  If you're a fan of adult romances, that highlight music (especially the 90s alt scene), and deliver an achingly irresistible climax -- then you definitely need this book in your life.

Below is your chance to win this amazing prize pack, put together by the lovely ladies at InterMix, a division of Berkley Romance.  I was so jazzed to host this giveaway, that even I am envious of the winner!  Check out the details below and enter for your chance to win a copy of LOUD IS HOW I LOVE YOU + plus even more awesome goodies.

About the book:
One girl’s heart gets rocked to the core in the first novel in this sexy New Adult series.

Twenty-one-year-old front girl Emmylou knows that getting her band noticed in the ‘90s indie rock scene will be no easy task. She definitely knows better than to break the number one rule of the band: Don't sleep with your bandmates! But after she ends up having the best sex of her life with her guitarist, Travis, she finds following that rule is a lot harder than it sounds.

When the band gets the gig of their dreams, making it big seems just within reach. But Emmy’s inability to keep her hands off Travis threatens everything they’ve worked for. Can Emmy find a way to break the rules and not blow the chance of a lifetime? [goodreads]




LOUD IS HOW I LOVE YOU Prize Pack Giveaway


GIVEAWAY ITEMS:
  • One army-green canvas SOFT gig bag (perfect for carrying your e-reader or books)
  • DVDs of Raising Arizona and Empire Records
  • Two magnets with Hub City book covers on them
  • One Nirvana and one Ween (Boognish) iron-on patch
  • Teen Spirit!
  • Some local New Jersey music
  • A cassette tape/USB drive that will have a special Hub City mix and some book-related graphics. The USB drive can also be erased and re-used as a regular thumb drive (with a huge cassette tape attached).
  • Two custom Sharpies
Not pictured, but to be included:
  • Lipsmackers!
  • An Amazon or B&N or iTunes gift card for $25
  • A copy of LOUD from their preferred seller.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

+ Open to US residents only
+ Must be 18 years old
+ Ends on 1/31/16 @midnight (CST)
+ Please see my policies page for further contest rules

 
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