Tag: new adult

September 26, 2014

Review | Stolen Dreams by Christine Amsden

Title: Stolen Dreams
Author: Christine Amsden {website}
Publication Date: October 2014
Publisher: Twilight Times Books 

Series: Cassie Scot {Book 4}
Source & Format: Author; paperback

Links: GoodReads | Amazon| Barnes & Noble

Edward Scot and Victor Blackwood have despised one another for nearly a quarter of a century, but now their simmering hatred is about to erupt.

When Cassie Scot returns home from her sojourn in Pennsylvania, she finds that her family has taken a hostage. Desperate to end the fighting before someone dies, Cassie seeks help from local seer Abigail Hastings, Evan Blackwood’s grandmother. But Abigail has seen her own death, and when it comes at the hand of Cassie’s father, Victor Blackwood kills Edward Scot.

But things may not be precisely as they appear.

Evan persuades Cassie to help him learn the truth, teaming them up once again in their darkest hour. New revelations about Evan and his family make it difficult for Cassie to cling to a shield of anger, but can Evan and Cassie stop a feud that has taken on a life of its own?

This book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review. This in no way altered or influenced my review. Promise!

Check out my reviews of the first, second and third book to see the complete Cassie Scot series! 

I’ve fallen in love with the characters of the Cassie Scot novels over the series, so I couldn’t wait to see what Amsden had in store for the final novel in the series. Cassie has been constantly evolving over the series and in Stolen Dreams, she really comes into her own. There’s a new aura of strength and power about her, a confidence in her own person that creates an entirely new element in her character that I loved. 

Cassie isn’t the only character to grow. The attention to detail and secondary characters creates an immersive world that forces each character to grow beyond their stereotype. I loved the development of Cassie’s two friends, Madison and Kaitlin, the most: their role in their series changed from secondary characters in the plot to major characters by the fourth book. These three women represent completely different aspects in the magical/paranormal world, dealing with the reality of the presence of magic. 

What I truly loved about Stolen Dreams was the plot. It was nearly impossible to pull myself away from this novel; there was simply so much going on, but in the best way possible. Each and every character was involved and influencing the plot in one way or another, which not only kept the main plot moving, but created fascinating secondary plots. I fell in love with Cassie’s character development, the family feuds, the battle over magic. The outstanding plot was Cassie and Evan’s romance…well, kind of a romance. To call it a traditional romance is completely wrong: instead, it is the struggle of two strong-willed people fighting each other and themselves at every turn. How could you not love that?

Stolen Dreams was the perfect end to the series. Amsden’s writing clearly ties off Cassie’s world, leaving me feeling satisfied and happy, instead of constantly wondering what if, or even worse, what now. Amsden’s writing and plot decisions in the last chapter warmed my heart and made it easy for me to close the book on Cassie. 


Posted September 26, 2014 by Ellen in Uncategorized / 2 Comments
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March 29, 2014

Review: Four Seconds to Lose by K.A. Tucker

Title: Four Seconds to Lose 
Author: K.A. Tucker {website}
Publication Date: November 2013
Publisher: Atria Books
Series: Ten Tiny Breaths {Book 3} 
Source & Format: Netgalley; ebook
Links: GoodReads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

When a gorgeous young dancer walks through his door, a strip club owner must decide whether to follow his rules or his heart in the third novel by the author of One Tiny Lie and Ten Tiny Breaths.

Owning a strip club isn’t the fantasy most guys expect it to be. With long hours, a staff with enough issues to keep a psych ward in business, and the police regularly on his case, twenty-nine-year-old Cain is starting to second guess his unspoken mission to save the women he employs. And then blond, brown-eyed Charlie Rourke walks through his door, and things get really complicated. Cain abides by a strict “no sleeping with the staff” rule. But being around Charlie challenges Cain’s self-control…and it’s been a long time since any woman has done that. 

Twenty-two-year-old Charlie Rourke needs a lot of money, really fast, in order to vanish before it’s too late. Taking her clothes off for men makes her stomach curl but Charlie tells herself that at least she’s putting her acting and dancing skills to good use. And though her fellow dancers seem eager to nab their sexy, sophisticated, and genuinely caring boss, she’s not interested. After all, Charlie Rourke doesn’t really exist—and the girl pretending to be her can’t get distracted by romance.

Unfortunately, Charlie soon discovers that developing feelings for Cain is inevitable, and that those feelings may not be unrequited—but losing him when he finds out what she’s involved with will be more painful than any other sentence awaiting her.


I fell in love with Tucker’s work in Ten Tiny Breaths and One Tiny Lie. Four Seconds to Lose goes above and beyond the bar set by these amazing earlier novels. From the characters to the plot to the romance…I stayed up all night to finish this book.


Charlie is extraordinarily observant, a talent that has kept her alive in many situations in her past. She had the qualities of a fairy-tale princess: gorgeous, strong, and in love and in trouble. I loved Charlie’s character because she became the damsel-in-distress that saved herself. Instead of discovering the trouble on her doorstep and struggling to discover how to fix it, we meet Charlie and immediately learn about the danger she faces. Instead of waiting for someone to save her (the white knight), Charlie is devising a plan to save herself.

Cain is the epitome of the self-made man. His character is a combination of confidence and weakness that is irresistible. I loved the many layers of this man: can’t let himself forget the past, supports his own employees like another would his family, and is trying to not fall madly in love with Charlie. His history might have made him, but his presence defines him. That mysterious quality kept me coming back for more. 


The plot of Four Seconds to Lose is heavily character-driven, like the rest of the Ten Tiny Breaths series. The entire story balances on Cain, Charlie, and the many emotions the two of them carry between them. With so much resting on these two characters, the plot could have been a disaster, but it was incredible. The constant romantic tension between Cain and Charlie supported the entire story, bringing in the side plots to play a part as well. 

Both of the main characters faced off with an outside force of sorts, but Charlie’s was the most terrifying. I won’t include too much here because I don’t want any spoilers. Let’s just say that Charlie’s battle against her foe kept me on the edge of my seat. This particular battle forced Charlie to grow in ways that she might not have been able to otherwise; without it, she would have been an interesting character still, but the depth wouldn’t have been there.

In the entire Ten Tiny Breaths series, Tucker focuses on the importance of family. Sure, the romance is amazing, breathtaking, gorgeous (pick a word), but the themes of family are what keeps me coming back each time. All of the characters in their own stories are lost in some way, needing a support system. As each book progresses, they’ve created a family to love and support each other.

I can’t leave this section without talking about the romance. Oh my, the feels in this book were astonishing. Having read two of Tucker’s work previously, I didn’t think she could surprise me, but the romance between Charlie and Cain knocked my socks off. 


I enjoyed the dual narration between Charlie and Cain. Being able to see the story through each character’s perception made the story and the tension more intense. The dual narration let the character’s individual motives and emotions become fleshed out even more, letting me as a reader get to know the characters.


I’m in love. At the end of the day, I am in love with Four Seconds to Lose. It’s a great book for romantics, readers looking to move away from YA romance to something a little more intense, and the contemporary reader. Tucker’s writing style is fresh and engaging, her characters vibrant and memorable, and I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.  

Posted March 29, 2014 by Ellen in Uncategorized / 1 Comment
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January 6, 2014

Review: Crash Into You by Katie McGarry

Title: Crash Into You
Author: Katie McGarry {website}
Publication Date: November 2013
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Series: Pushing the Limits {Book 3}
Source & Format: Library; hardcover
Links: GoodReads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

The girl with straight As, designer clothes and the perfect life-that’s who people expect Rachel Young to be. So the private-school junior keeps secrets from her wealthy parents and overbearing brothers…and she’s just added two more to the list. One involves racing strangers down dark country roads in her Mustang GT. The other? Seventeen-year-old Isaiah Walker-a guy she has no business even talking to. But when the foster kid with the tattoos and intense gray eyes comes to her rescue, she can’t get him out of her mind. 

Isaiah has secrets, too. About where he lives, and how he really feels about Rachel. The last thing he needs is to get tangled up with a rich girl who wants to slum it on the south side for kicks-no matter how angelic she might look. 

But when their shared love of street racing puts both their lives in jeopardy, they have six weeks to come up with a way out. Six weeks to discover just how far they’ll go to save each other.

It’s been a few days since I finished Crash Into You, and for my reviews, that’s a little strange. I usually sit down to write right after I finish my book notes. But there was something about Crash Into You that made me want to linger over it a bit. I have very strong, very mixed feelings about this entire novel.


For the most part, I felt that Rachel and Isaiah were well-developed. Both struggle with their identities and living up to expectations, a mark of teenage years. Rachel’s worst battles took the form of her (somewhat annoyingly) overbearing brothers and her parents. Unlike Isaiah, Rachel is actually completely in control of her life, despite her panic attacks. Isaiah, on the other hand, is a product of the system: his mother issues are exactly new, but they do paint an interesting character. I loved that McGarry switched between their narration, giving each a chance to show their motives behind the actions.

My only true disappointment with these characters is that it doesn’t feel that groundbreaking. I’ve read the good-girl-meets-bad-boy YA novel before. I’ve read the broken girl meets broken boy & they heal together novel before. As much as I wanted to adore this book, that nagging feeling wouldn’t let me alone. My complaints really lie with Rachel; she had the power to change all this & waiting for her to do it was agonizing. 


First, just to say, Eric is terrifying. I felt like Rachel, intruding accidentally into an underground world of drugs, gambling and cars. It was fascinating and a little scary all at the same time. I loved how the plot wasn’t built solely around Isaiah & Rachel’s romance; the foundation is actually laid on Eric and his evil plans. This gave the story a little more wiggle room to expand (slightly) into other genres. 

Not to say Isaiah & Rachel’s romance wasn’t good – it was fantastic. I let dinner char burn once because I was so engaged in their story. Although I do wish the characters had a little more depth, I am a goner for this type of romance

Rachel’s family relationship and dynamic was one of the more interesting parts of the plot & one I feel wasn’t completely resolved. To be honest, I had trouble reading how her family treated her. Although it was probably meant to be loving, the misogynistic actions the men in her family took against her mother and herself really irritated me. In the end, there is a bit of a resolution, but for me, I wanted more. 


McGarry’s writing was flawless, as always. As many ups & downs with this novel, I can’t help but admire the way she draws the reader into the story (see above: burned dinner). The two separate narrations were smooth and invisible, weaving together perfectly to create the plot. 


I’m in the middle. One hand: great writing, interesting plot. Other: familiar romantic storyline & a heroine that needed more oomph. I’m still a fan of McGarry’s, but I think her other books in the Pushing the Limits series are more my style.

Posted January 6, 2014 by Ellen in Uncategorized / 0 Comments
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December 23, 2013

Review: One Tiny Lie by K.A. Tucker

Title: One Tiny Lie 
Author: K.A. Tucker {website
Publication Date: June 2013
Publisher: Atria Books
Series: Ten Tiny Breaths {Book 2}
Source & Format: Netgalley; ebook
Links: GoodReads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Livie has always been the stable one of the two Cleary sisters, handling her parents’ tragic death and Kacey’s self-destructive phase with strength and maturity. But underneath that exterior is a little girl hanging onto the last words her father ever spoke to her. “Make me proud,” he had said. She promised she would…and she’s done her best over the past seven years with every choice, with every word, with every action.

Livie walks into Princeton with a solid plan, and she’s dead set on delivering on it: Rock her classes, set herself up for medical school, and meet a good, respectable guy that she’s going to someday marry. What isn’t part of her plan are Jell-O shots, a lovable, party animal roommate she can’t say ‘no’ to, and Ashton, the gorgeous captain of the men’s rowing team. Definitely him. He’s an arrogant ass who makes Livie’s usually non-existent temper flare and everything she doesn’t want in a guy. Worse, he’s best friends and roommates with Connor, who happens to fits Livie’s criteria perfectly. So why does she keep thinking about Ashton?

As Livie finds herself facing mediocre grades, career aspirations she no longer thinks she can handle, and feelings for Ashton that she shouldn’t have, she’s forced to let go of her last promise to her father and, with it, the only identity that she knows.

I received a copy of this novel from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

There’s something about K.A. Tucker’s world that makes me ridiculously excited to dive back in. I found One Tiny Lie on Netgalley a few weeks ago, and it was impossible to keep myself from skipping ahead of my schedule to it. In her first novel of the series, Ten Tiny Breaths, we meet Kacey and her sister, Livie, two girls orphaned at a early age and forced to live with a overly Christian aunt and a perverted uncle. When Kacey and Livie make their escape, Ten Tiny Breaths begins (my review here.) Livie’s story, One Tiny Lie, lives up to the extraordinary standards set by the first novel. 


In Ten Tiny Breaths, Livie is the stable one, the rock, and Kacey’s consistent strength. I had already admired her in the beginning, so it was easy to fall in love with her character a second time around. 

Livie’s struggle to live up to expectations – hers and others – weighs on her, even though she doesn’t discover this struggle for a while. She sees herself as the responsible one, the one who has to uphold their dad’s dream of his girls attending his alma mater, Princeton, and the one who has to graduate medical school. All of her intentions are well-meant, but Livie has never considered doing exactly what she wants. She’s used to people outside of her family (her sister, their friend Storm, Storm’s daughter) telling her that everything will be fine instead of truly listening to her. When Ashton steals her Jell-O shot (possibly my favorite scene in the book), he changes that all for her. 

Ashton and Livie are magnetic. Even though neither of them want to admit it, they fit. Ashton’s bad boy charm hides something that Livie wants to heal for him, fitting back into her role as the responsible one (like she does with Kacey in the first book). Ashton, in turn, is the one to listen, to take on the role of cracking Livie’s expectations so she can find out who she truly is.


Typically through college, young adults search for their identities and who they want to be in the future. Livie has always wanted to be a Princeton graduate and an oncologist. Most of us setting foot on the campuses around the globe don’t have a huge idea of what we want to do. I loved that Livie had her life mapped out and Tucker took that plan and tossed it in the air. I loved the plot; I loved that once Livie achieves her first goal of attending Princeton, the rest of her goals open up for her to decide what she wants to do. Tucker forces Livie to finally live outside her box, to make a decision for herself


If I hadn’t had to go to work, I would have finished this book in one sitting. Tucker’s smooth delivery and dialogue make One Tiny Lie a sinking into Livie’s world instead of reading her story. I loved the narration, the strong characters, the plot. 


This book is definitely a keeper for me. I’m hooked. Livie’s story lives up to the expectations – and goes beyond – of what I expected from Ten Tiny Breaths. Definitely recommended!

Posted December 23, 2013 by Ellen in Uncategorized / 0 Comments
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December 12, 2013

Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Title: Fangirl 
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Publication Date: September 2013
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Source: Library
Links: GoodReads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

A coming-of-age tale of fan fiction, family and first love. 

Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan . . .

But for Cath, being a fan is her life — and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?

Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

I finished college this last May (WHEE!) and I remember avoiding YA for a while during that time because it felt like none of the stories really applied to me. The characters were struggling with – more often than not – high school issues and which college to go to. But what about those of us that are struggling with what major, what choice, which way? Fangirl is the exact book I was yearning for in those days & even now, months after graduation, it still feels like Rowell is speaking to me. 


I loved Cath right off. Beyond her love for Simon Snow (which made me think of my obsession with Harry Potter), Cath’s yearning to keep things exactly the way they are really struck home with me. Change is terrifying, and her character’s struggle to deal with it makes the heart of the entire story.

Levi and Cath’s slow relationship was one of the highlights of this book. Cath had to learn how to change (one of the main themes of Fangirl) and to let someone into her life. It’s always been just her and Wren – a team. Learning to let Levi into her life was one of the most romantic and lovely moments I’ve had in YA.

I just love Reagan’s character. Her hard, gruff exterior hides a character that is a fantastic friend, warm, and witty. She is the perfect roommate for Cath in that she dislikes change just as much as Cath does. 


Cath’s struggle to accept change is the beginning of the plot, but when it is forced on her, the real conflict begins. As a twin, Cath has never really been on her own; suddenly, she is in a strange new place with her twin, Wren, more interested in partying and boys than the Simon Snow fandom. Cath’s struggle to accept (and sometimes fight) all the changes in her life, from family to her writing, make Fangirl extraordinary. 


It was extraordinary how each character in the novel became alive. I felt like I was living in Cath and Regan’s dorm room or sitting with them at dinner, people-watching. I loved the feeling of being immersed in Rowell’s world; it was hard to surface from this story to go to work or make dinner. 

Rowell’s writing is familiar, smooth and flowing. I never felt bored or inclined to skip a few pages. There was always some conflict, something for Cath to work out, and I had to stay with her until she did. It’s a mark of good writer when I can’t help but stick with your character.


I loved, loved, loved this book. I don’t know what took me so long to get on this bandwagon, but now I’m on for life. Fangirl has something for everyone: romance, family, drama, and the love of a good nerd. I adored this book. 

Posted December 12, 2013 by Ellen in Uncategorized / 0 Comments
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October 22, 2013

Review: Ten Tiny Breaths by K.A. Tucker

Title: Ten Tiny Breaths
Author: K.A. Tucker
Publication Date: December 2012 
Publisher: Papoti Books
Series: Ten Tiny Breaths {Book 1}
Source & Format: NetGalley; Kindle ebook
Links: GoodReads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Kacey Cleary’s whole life imploded four years ago in a drunk-driving accident. Now she’s working hard to bury the pieces left behind—all but one. Her little sister, Livie. Kacey can swallow the constant disapproval from her born-again aunt Darla over her self-destructive lifestyle; she can stop herself from going kick-boxer crazy on Uncle Raymond when he loses the girls’ college funds at a blackjack table. She just needs to keep it together until Livie is no longer a minor, and then they can get the hell out of Grand Rapids, Michigan.

But when Uncle Raymond slides into bed next to Livie one night, Kacey decides it’s time to run. Armed with two bus tickets and dreams of living near the coast, Kacey and Livie start their new lives in a Miami apartment complex, complete with a grumpy landlord, a pervert upstairs, and a neighbor with a stage name perfectly matched to her chosen “profession.” But Kacey’s not worried. She can handle all of them. What she can’t handle is Trent Emerson in apartment 1D.

Kacey doesn’t want to feel. She doesn’t. It’s safer that way. For everyone. But sexy Trent finds a way into her numb heart, reigniting her ability to love again. She starts to believe that maybe she can leave the past where it belongs and start over. Maybe she’s not beyond repair.

But Kacey isn’t the only one who’s broken. Seemingly perfect Trent has an unforgiveable past of his own; one that, when discovered, will shatter Kacey’s newly constructed life and send her back into suffocating darkness.

One of the most remarkable aspects of this novel is the pacing and format. Usually, this is a structural element that most of us don’t notice unless it’s a) really bad, or b) really good. In this case, the structure and layout of Ten Tiny Breaths made the novel the unforgettable book that I didn’t want to end. The pacing and the format really go hand-in-hand in K.A. Tucker’s masterpiece, so I want to look at them as one. The book itself is divided up into sections, called stages. I think they are the stages of grief and recovery, but don’t quote me on that. Each stage consists of a little story that makes up the novel, detailing a problem and the hurdle Kacey must overcome. It isn’t a collection of short stories, but a more detailed system of marking chapters. Kacey’s first stage, Denial, details their escape to Miami and the first meeting with the grumpy landlord at the apartment complex for the lost. 

The apartment complex itself is such a pivotal figure in the novel that once I started thinking about it, I couldn’t ignore it. In the beginning, Kacey and Livie are essentially homeless. Their Bible-thumping Aunt Darla is more concerned with hellfire and damnation then helping her two heartbroken nieces, and pervy Uncle Raymond is just that – pervy. Since the night of the accident, the girls have been lost, and I loved that the first few scenes in the novel puts them in an apartment complex catering to people who tend to come and go without any warning. In this unusual place, they finally find a home where they feel comfortable, safe. This is crucial to Kacey’s life in the rest of the novel. 

When I first cracked (or clicked, in my case) this book open, I expected to find the typical tough-girl heroine. You know the kind, the one that’s rough on the outside, doesn’t let anyone in without a fight, and is generally, well, unlikable. In Kacey’s case, she is definitely rough on the outside, leans more towards antisocial (although I’m sure she would argue with that characterization) and is extremely wary of those outside of her immediate family (Livie). Considering what she’s been through, I can’t blame her. But instead of being unlikable, Kacey has this softness about her. Maybe it stems from her constant mantra of ten tiny breaths that she recites in her mind whenever she’s upset, thinking of her mother. Or maybe it’s the fierce love she shows concerning her little sister, akin to a mother dog guarding her pups. Maybe it’s both of these things and more. Kacey wiggled her way into my heart, and I couldn’t help but love her. 

Although she ranks as my favorite character in the novel, I marveled at the delicate characterization of each person in the novel. They were extraordinary, even those who wavered on the sidelines, like Storm’s daughter, Mia. There was the perfect amount of information about them, and enough left to the imagination. Each character was crucial in some way to Kacey’s growth, and I loved how important they were to the plot. Nothing was extraneous, no loose ends left to tie up. 

The relationship between Trent, the sexy neighbor in 1D, and Kacey left me fanning myself with my Kindle. Trent was -is? (those who have read the novel, let me know: Do you think Trent & Kacey…?) – exactly what she needed. He was patient, kind, and loving in a way that Kacey had never experienced before. Through him, she began to find what she called “Before” Kacey. It was the support – or kick in the bum, however you see it – she needed to get her life back on track. I have to say though, as a reader, I realized that I spent so much time focusing on Kacey’s problems that I didn’t consider whether or not Trent had some skeletons of his own hidden in the closet. 

Final Thoughts: I haven’t had a book hangover like this since The Hunger Games. I finished this book more than a week ago, and I haven’t been able to get it out of my head. Kacey’s journey is remarkable and the way it’s told strikes a chord in me that I can’t forget. The characters are alive in this novel, not just flat words on a page/screen. I couldn’t help but fall in love, and it’s the plot twist that really caught my attention. Ten Tiny Breaths is a must read. 

Posted October 22, 2013 by Ellen in Uncategorized / 0 Comments
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