This is Sarah by Ally Malinenko Review

Release Date: July 3rd, 2014
 Summary from Goodreads:
When Colin Leventhal leaned out his bedroom window on the night of May 12th and said goodbye to his girlfriend, he never expected it would be forever. But when Sarah Evans goes missing that night, Colin’s world unravels as he transforms from the boyfriend next door to the main police suspect. Then one year later, at her memorial service, Colin makes a phone call that changes everything. Is it possible that Sarah is still alive? And if so how can he bring her back? As Colin struggles with this possibility, across the street, Sarah’s little sister, Claire learns how to navigate the strange new landscape of life without her sister. While her parents fall apart, Claire remains determined to keep going even if it kills her. THIS IS SARAH serves as a meditation on loss, love and what it means to say goodbye. 

Review:

*I received an eCopy in exchange for an honest review.

Hi, this is Sarah. You know what to do.

This is Sarah is a harrowing tale about the disappearance of a teenage girl and the devastating impact it has on the two people closest to her. Although the book is called This is Sarah, it isn’t Sarah’s story, but rather the story of the people Sarah left behind.

Although the subject matter of This is Sarah is tough to stomach, it was one of my favorite reads of 2014. The story is told from alternating POV between Sarah’s boyfriend, Colin, and her sister, Claire. It was an emotional journey through the minds of both Colin and Claire. Colin struggled to deal with his own anger and grief, while Claire was suffocated by the impact Sarah’s disappearance had on her family. It was devastating seeing them both react to Sarah’s disappearance.

Where are you, sweetheart? Where did you go that you can’t come back from? Why can’t you come back?

 I really liked both Claire and Colin. I thought Malinenko really breathed life into them.  I think it would have been easy for Claire and Colin to tell us about their grief and pain and devastation but instead through Malinenko’s words the reader is really able to feel what they both felt. I was really able to delve into the deepest, darkest parts of both characters thoughts. I think the rawness and realness of both characters was what drew me into the story most. It was painful to see both characters suffer through this tragedy but what I found most heartbreaking was Claire’s struggle. Not only was her sister likely abducted, but she also felt the “survivor’s guilt” of being the sister left behind. Her whole world was turned upside down and she wasn’t able to find solace in her family, instead she found more pain. This was really hard for me to stomach. As for Colin, his love for Sarah was one of the purest loves. He is undeniably loyal to her, even a year after her disappearance. However, his feelings for her and the guilt he feels over her disappearance is crippling and begins to tear his world apart.

I still see her face, turned up at me, with that smile. My God, how she smiled.

The mystery that surrounded Sarah’s disappearance kept me thoroughly engrossed and invested in the story. Malinenko was able to plant seeds of doubt in my mind that left me wondering if someone closest to Sarah could indeed be responsible for her disappearance. I enjoyed the artful way the mystery was entwined with the characters’ stories.

With its gut-wrenching and heartbreaking subject matter, This is Sarah is a powerful book that will take readers on an emotional rollercoaster.  Although I found the ending to be rather satisfying, This is Sarah is definitely one of those stories that concentrates more on the journey than the destination so it may leave some readers wanting more. I highly recommend this book and I look forward to reading more from Malinenko in the future!

Tangled by Emma Chase – Audiobook Review

Release Date: August 2nd, 2013
Summary from Goodreads:

Drew Evans is a winner. Handsome and arrogant, he makes multimillion dollar business deals and seduces New York’s most beautiful women with just a smile. He has loyal friends and an indulgent family. So why has he been shuttered in his apartment for seven days, miserable and depressed?

He’ll tell you he has the flu.

But we all know that’s not really true.

Katherine Brooks is brilliant, beautiful and ambitious. She refuses to let anything – or anyone – derail her path to success. When Kate is hired as the new associate at Drew’s father’s investment banking firm, every aspect of the dashing playboy’s life is thrown into a tailspin. The professional competition she brings is unnerving, his attraction to her is distracting, his failure to entice her into his bed is exasperating.

Then, just when Drew is on the cusp of having everything he wants, his overblown confidence threatens to ruin it all. Will he be able untangle his feelings of lust and tenderness, frustration and fulfillment? Will he rise to the most important challenge of his life?

Can Drew Evans win at love?

Tangled is not your mother’s romance novel. It is an outrageous, passionate, witty narrative about a man who knows a lot about women…just not as much as he thinks he knows. As he tells his story, Drew learns the one thing he never wanted in life, is the only thing he can’t live without.

Review:

I wish I had loved Tangled more, but unfortunately I did not. I struggled getting into the story and once I did, it didn’t hold my attention nearly as much as I would have liked. In all honesty, I listened to it on audiobook and it took me almost four months to get through. Now don’t get me wrong, this book is by no means horrible or badly written. It just wasn’t necessarily my cup of tea.

The book starts off with Drew lying on his couch, defending his current situation. He hasn’t showered in who knows how long, there are half-eaten meals left in to-go containers strewn across his apartment, and he’s convinced he has the flu. It isn’t until The Bitch aka his sister, Alexandra comes to check on him that we find out the real story. Drew may be sick, but it isn’t the flu, playboy has a bad case of heartbreak. Rewind, and the story begins with Drew meeting Kate Brooks, a recent graduate and new employee at the same investment bank he works at. He has a strict, do not sleep with coworkers rule but there is just something about Kate. To make matters worse, even if Drew wanted to break the cardinal rule, Kate’s off the market. She’s been engaged to her fiancé for 7 years. Even with these two big red flags waving in Drew’s face, Kate is constantly on his mind. So what will he do about it? Guess you’ll have to read to find out.

I am a big lover of characters; I like to dissect them and get to know them. I felt it a little difficult to get to know Drew in the first 1/3 of this book. I felt that his true personality was hidden behind crass and vulgar comments that made it difficult to like him. I don’t mind if a guy thinks dirty thoughts or says inappropriate things but sometimes this book took it a little too far for me. However, once Kate came into Drew’s life in full-force I think he was a lot more likeable. I felt that we finally got to see Drew’s personality come to a whole. Additionally, his interactions with his family, especially McKenzie allowed me to see a little more of humanity.  In fact, his interactions with McKenzie often stole the show. Drew’s real redemption came when he accepted  responsibility and learned from his mistakes. And although his tactics were a bit unorthodox, and over-the-top (something I’ve come to expect from him), his character development was enough that he eventually won me over. I will say that I am in the minority. A lot of my friends loved Drew from the very beginning, but for me he was an acquired taste.

As for Kate Brooks, I actually kind of loved her. She was fierce and honest and didn’t take any crap from Drew. She held her ground and after Drew was a royal jerk to her, she didn’t just let him back in with open arms. In fact, I was surprised at her self-control and self-respect. Usually a guy screws a girl over and with one “I’m sorry” she goes skittering back to him. Not Kate Brooks, she’s too smart for that. This leads me to another thing about Kate, she’s intelligent and not just superficially. She’s got a really good head on her shoulders and I appreciated that. She didn’t let the men in her life dictate her actions and she definitely proved to be a forced to be reckoned with in the office.

Overall, I liked Tangled but it was an almost miss for me. It’s hard to get into specific plot points without giving away the entire story so I’ll just say that the plot was cute and fun. I just struggled with the pacing and my initial hesitation with Drew. However, I did enjoy last 1/3 of the book, a lot and I will most likely read the sequels.

Now as for the audio portion of this review. Holy smokes. Sebastian York has one of the best voices I have ever had the pleasure of listening to. He made me believe he was Drew and quite honestly, I think his ability to bring Drew to life made the character more appealing to me as the story progressed. He was the perfect narrator for this book and I actually bought another book he narrated specifically to listen to him again (don’t judge). So basically, if you want someone who’s going to make you weak in the knees and cause your heart to race, Sebastian York should be your new audio book crush.

Mud Vein by Tarryn Fisher – Review

Release Date: April 5th, 2014
Summary from Goodreads:
When reclusive novelist Senna Richards wakes up on her thirty-third birthday, everything has changed. Caged behind an electrical fence, locked in a house in the middle of the snow, Senna is left to decode the clues to find out why she was taken. If she wants her freedom, she has to take a close look at her past. But, her past has a heartbeat…and her kidnapper is nowhere to be found. With her survival hanging by a thread, Senna soon realizes this is a game. A dangerous one. Only the truth can set her free.

 

 

Review:

I’ve been trying to write this review for a month. My mind tends to wander back to this story a lot. It definitely struck a chord with me. I didn’t expect it to make me feel the way it made me feel. I went in completely blind which is something I totally recommend to anyone who wants to read this book. So instead of doing my normal review where I go in depth about the story and characters, I’m going to keep this brief.

Mud Vein is not a love story. I repeat, it is not a love story. So if you go into Mud Vein expecting one, you will be sorely disappointed. Does this mean there isn’t love woven throughout MV? No. And that’s about all I’m going to say on that front.

What was Mud Vein to me? It was a story about the human condition. It was about the beauty and the darkness each of us has within. It was about the selfish and the selfless, the broken and the mended.

I hated Senna at first. My goodness, did I despise her. But then I did something more than look at Senna, I saw her. I saw Senna in myself, in my best friends, in my worst enemies. Senna represented the darkest and most difficult parts of each person’s psyche. This is Senna’s story, it’s her journey to find the truth, her truth. There’s a palpable level of mystery and intrigue surrounding her circumstance. Why is she locked in the cabin with the one person she never expected to see again? Who is responsible?

I thought the plot and characters were fascinating. I couldn’t put Mud Vein down once I picked it up. It appealed to the darkest parts of my heart. It made me feel numb, elation, and heartbreak. I don’t think this book will appeal to everybody, in fact, I’ve noticed it hasn’t, but to me, it spoke volumes. There is nothing like an author who can capture the human condition so wholly. Mud Vein showed the darkness and the self-destruction we are each capable of, but also the utter selflessness and love that makes humans what we are. So if you’re looking for a book that will challenge you and really make you consider humanity, pick this one up.

 

Favorite quotes (non-spoiler):

“You’ve been silent your whole life. You were silent when we met, silent when you suffered. Silent when life kept hitting you. I was like that too, a little. But not like you. You are a stillness. And I tried to move you. It didn’t work. But that doesn’t mean you didn’t move me. I heard everything you didn’t say. I heard it so loudly that I couldn’t shut it off. Your silence, Senna, I hear it so loudly.” 

“There is a string that connects us that is not visible to the eye. Maybe every person has more than one soul they are connected to, and all over the world there are those invisible strings… Maybe the chances that you’ll find each and every one of your soul mates is slim. But sometimes you’re lucky enough to stumble across one. And you feel a tug. And it’s not so much a choice to love them though their flaws and through your differences, but rather you love them without even trying. You love their flaws.” 

Late Call (Call, #1) by Emma Hart Blog Tour – Review & Giveaway

I am so excited to share my review of Late Call with you! Be sure to enter the giveaway, as well!
Release Date: April 28th, 2014
Summary from Goodreads:
She’s a high class call girl. He’s taking over his father’s business.
Seven years ago, they fell in love in Paris.
They walked away at the end of the summer, never imagining they’d meet again.
Now he’s her client.We fell in love the way you jump from a cliff. Hard and fast with a reckless sense of abandon. The six weeks we spent together changed my life, but at seventeen, I was naive. I was a dreamer. A believer.
Now I’m twenty-four and cynical. I don’t believe in love. There’s no place for such emotions as a high class escort. The only things I’m allowed to feel are physical – and that’s why it’s so damn hard when the client of a last minute job turns out to be the man I left in France seven years ago. When he buys me for six weeks at triple my rate, my agent makes it clear I have no choice but to take the job despite our previous relationship. And my heart makes it very clear I have to stay firmly on top of the cliff this time.
Because for six weeks, I once again belong to Aaron Stone.
PURCHASE LINKS:Barnes and Noble: bit.ly/1qkZ6KP
iTunes: bit.ly/1lN16cH
Amazon US: http://amzn.to/QTUbUm
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/QOyuFr
Amazon AU: http://bit.ly/1isYHiu

 Review:

*I received an eARC of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

I have a confession: I ventured far outside my comfort zone picking Late Call up. I am so glad I did, though. I enjoyed Emma Hart’s other books so when I saw the blurb for Late Call, I had to read it. I really enjoyed this book, a lot. I will be honest, I was a little nervous that there would be little plot and a lot of sexual situations. I was really, really wrong, at least about the little plot part (insert winky face).

Mia Lopez is a high class call girl. Spending a night with her costs more than the average person’s yearly income. She’s smart, feisty, and extremely good at her job. She seems to be comfortable in her life and knows exactly what she wants. That is, until the night she’s ordered by her agent, Monique, to attend a dinner party with a mystery client. Little does Mia know that the man she’s about to take on as a client, is her former boyfriend and first love, Aaron Stone. It’s only one night, right? Wrong, Mia is contracted for the next six weeks to stand by Aaron’s side and play the part of Dayton, his girlfriend. It’s a tricky situation because call girls don’t fall in love…

I loved the relationship between Aaron and Dayton. The chemistry between them is palpable, starting as a slow simmer until it boils over. They’re both so headstrong and feisty which provides for a lot of entertainment. I can get on board with Aaron’s bossy, alpha demeanor. It’s obvious that Dayton let’s him make up the rules without sacrificing her self-respect and dignity. I love that about their relationship. There is a level of respect there that could have easily not existed. I found myself rooting for them throughout the entire book.

I really enjoyed the overall story-line as well. Hart takes us to some of the most romantic cities in the world and the descriptive language made me feel like I was there with them. I also thought the tension between Aaron and Dayton was well done and not too over the top. I think the conflicting feelings Dayton has are completely rational and I was actually kind of in love with her character. She was strong-willed, feisty, and willing to stand up for herself when Aaron was being a jerk. I also loved that we got to see more than just the call girl persona Dayton has mastered. We get to  see her. Her thoughts, her feelings, her passion.  I liked the more vulnerable side of Dayton.

 Seeing as this is an erotic novel, there are a lot of sex scenes. I didn’t feel that they were really repetitive or over the top. I also enjoyed that they flowed with the story rather than feeling like there was sex for the sake of sex.

I’ve read quite a few of Emma Hart’s books and I have to say that this is my favorite one so far. You can really tell she’s becoming a master wordsmith and her writing has continued to get stronger and stronger. I would definitely recommend this book, but beware of the cliffhanger! I’ll be anxiously awaiting the arrival of book 2 in June!

Giveaway!

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About the Author:

By day, New York Times and USA Today bestselling New Adult author Emma Hart dons a cape and calls herself Super Mum to two beautiful little monsters. By night, she drops the cape, pours a glass of whatever she fancies – usually wine – and writes books.
Emma is working on Top Secret projects she will share with her followers and fans at every available opportunity. Naturally, all Top Secret projects involve a dashingly hot guy who likes to forget to wear a shirt, a sprinkling (or several) of hold-onto-your-panties hot scenes, and a whole lotta love.
She likes to be busy – unless busy involves doing the dishes, but that seems to be when all the ideas come to life.

Find Emma online at:
Blog: http://www.emmahart.org
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/EmmaHartBooks
Twitter: @EmmaHartAuthor
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6451162.Emma_Hart

Torn (Torn #1) by K. A. Robinson Review

Summary from Goodreads:

Chloe hasn’t had the best life. With a mother who is gone more often than not, she has had to raise herself. After graduating high school, she leaves to start a new life away at West Virginia University with her best friends Amber and Logan, determined to leave her demons in the past. 

On her first day, she meets a stranger who takes her breath away at first sight. Until she met Drake, no one had ever sparked her interest. Now this tattooed and pierced bad boy is all she can think about, no matter how hard she fights it.

Falling for Drake was never part of her plans, but when it happens, things seem to do anything but fall into place.

Dealing with a tragic past, Drake has never cared about anyone else but himself and his band. But when Chloe takes the empty seat next to him in class, things start to change. Instantly drawn to her, he begins to wonder if one girl can take a cold hearted womanizer and change every part of him?

Long hidden feelings are revealed and friendships tested to the brink.

Link to Goodreads

Cover:

17969353

Review:

*I received an eCopy of Torn through Netgalley from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

I wanted to love Torn, I really did, but unfortunately it fell a bit flat for me. I was excited by the premise of the story, I’m a sucker for a bad boy but the story didn’t live up to my expectations. There were parts that I did enjoy but those didn’t come until about 40% through. I’m going to do a what worked and what didn’t work for me review.

What didn’t work:

– The love triangle. I felt like it was forced and that really, there was absolutely no option of who Chloe was going to choose. It just felt like both guys were just being strung along the whole time and that Chloe was just causing a whole mess she could avoid.

– Chloe. I really wasn’t impressed with her. I understand she had it rough but that’s not excuse to do the things she did throughout the story. I felt she was immature and selfish and I didn’t see much growth from her throughout the story.

– Logan. I did like his loyalty and friendship with Chloe but often times he came off overbearing and caveman-like (and not in the good way). I felt sometimes his jealousy border-lined obsessive and it kind of freaked me out.

What did work:

– Chloe’s friendships with Amber and Logan. Although they had their ups and downs it was nice to see that friendships weren’t totally ruined by some of the immature actions of these characters. I love when friendship is made to be important in a novel because more often than not, friendship is either brushed under the rug or torn apart.

– The cliffhanger-ish type ending. Although I struggled through parts of this book, the ending made me want to pick up the second book in the series Twisted. 

– The chemistry between Drake and Chloe. It was palpable and believable. And Drake was actually a nice guy under his bad-boy persona.

Overall, Torn and I had a rocky start but I did end up enjoying parts of it. The writing was on par but after reading a lot of NA’s in the past year it wasn’t anything terribly new so that might have been its weakness for me. However, I will most likely pick up Twisted as I’m curious to see where Chloe’s life goes next.