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Review: Hero by Samantha Young

Image from Goodreads

Image from Goodreads

Title: Hero
Author: Samantha Young
Publisher: Piatkus
Publication Date: Feb 2015
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 4/5

Synopsis from Goodreads

Alexa Holland’s father was her hero—until her shocking discovery that she and her mother weren’t his only family. Ever since, Alexa has worked to turn her life in a different direction and forge her own identity outside of his terrible secrets,. But when she meets a man who’s as damaged by her father’s mistakes as she is, Alexa must help him.

Caine Carraway wants nothing to do with Alexa’s efforts at redemption, but it’s not so easy to push her away. Determined to make her hate him, he brings her to the edge of her patience and waits for her to walk away. But his actions only draw them together and, despite the odds, they begin an intense and explosive affair.

Only Caine knows he can never be the white knight that Alexa has always longed for. And when they’re on the precipice of danger, he finds he’ll do anything to protect either one of them from being hurt again…

Hero by Samantha Young is published by Piatkus in paperback and eBook. You can find of all Samantha Young’s titles in the Kobo website here

REVIEW 

Boy oh boy you are going to LOVE Hero.

Told from Alexa’s (Lexie) point of view. She has one very messed up family situation that has encroached onto Caine’s. Tragedy draws them together while simultaneously creating impenetrable barriers to getting to know each other. I would have loved to have seen pivotal parts of the plot through Caine’s eyes (begs Samantha).

I loved Lexie, she is a wonderfully sassy character, genuinely caring and empathetic. While Caine, the powerful CEO with a dark past, has more security around his emotions than Fort Knox. Their attraction to each other is undeniable, yet there are too many obstacles in their path to form a real relationship. The roller-coaster of emotion emanates through the pages, I could literally feel my stomach flipping as I was reading.

The narrative explores family bonds and how parents are human and therefore, fallible. Family deception, past secrets, as well as the weight of guilt and regret add to the emotional distance between Caine and Lexie. The casual relationship they embark on, shows how emotionally shattering such an arrangement can be.

The plot examines the way in which people can not be held accountable for the actions of others. Everyone has to create their own path and be judged solely on their own actions. Learning from mistakes and letting the positive shape you rather than the negative. Ultimately, forgiveness is the key to moving forward in life.

There is a lot going on within the plot, it keeps you on your toes. Having read it twice already, I can honestly say I picked up new points each time.

I have to mention the wonderfully quirky character we have in Effie, she adds such humor to the narrative you can’t help but fall in love with her.

Hero is one of those books you know is going to be on your re-read pile.

Wonderful characters and depth of emotion make Hero a must read.

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Review: Fading Out by Trisha Wolfe

Received from AToMR

Received from AToMR

Title: Fading Out
Series: Living Heartwood #3
Author: Trisha Wolfe
Publisher: Self Published
Publication Date: Feb 2015
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 4/5

Synopsis from Goodreads

Love means fading out so another shines brighter.

Right clothes. Right school. Right fiancé. As a Wyndemere, Arian’s expected to abide by the rules. The most important: be perfect. But Arian’s seemingly flawless life is far from it. An embarrassing expulsion from her parents’ alma mater spirals an already unhealthy obsession out of control, exposing a dark truth.

Faced with having to attend a small private college after a stint in rehab, Arian’s just ready to coast under the radar and repair some of the wreckage, but her father’s looming control is like a vise choking off her air supply.

When a run-in with Braxton’s beloved star quarterback, Ryder Nash, puts Arian squarely in the crosshairs of his devoted teammates, the last of her controlled, orderly world unhinges. As the pranks and paybacks escalate, Arian and Ryder’s rivalry takes a passionate turn. And once Arian glimpses beneath the all-star-athlete exterior Ryder projects, she realizes he’s far more than just a jock.

As their relationship intensifies, outside forces feel the threat. Outrunning their pasts doesn’t mean history won’t repeat itself, but Ryder can’t let that happen. He’s just one Championship game away from breaking the mold. Only one moment, one choice, might change everything.

Told from both Arian’s and Ryder’s POV. New Adult Contemporary Romance intended for readers 17 years of age and older.

REVIEW 

Going off tangent to begin, I have to say Trish captures the way in which different socio-economic classes use different methods of control to cope with the stresses of the life they lead. Having worked within a school environment for the past 5 years, in two very different socio-economic areas I have witnessed the truth behind the portrayal first hand. I know this is a generalisation, but that doesn’t prevent it from being the truth for the majority; poorer areas and families tend to resort to alcohol/drugs in order to cope/escape while more affluent areas have issues with eating disorders and OCD/anxiety.  I have been pondering this over the past weekend looking for an explanation as to why this should be, considering the fact poorer areas have less money to spend on things like drink and drugs it makes very little sense. I do think that poorer families have a greater appreciation of food, maybe having experienced hunger personally or having less abundance of nutrients available. While, more affluent families place greater pressure on their children to achieve and perform to higher standards. It really is something to think about.

Arian (Ari) falls into the affluent category, complete with ridiculous expectations from her parents, constant criticism wearing her already low self-esteem to oblivion. The pressure Ari is subjected to can be viewed as a huge weight quite literally crushing her. The pressure manifest in OCD and anxiety disorder, leading to an eating disorder. Ari views her eating disorder as a way of having some form of control over her life.

My heart went out to Ari, the only love she has known has been conditional leaving her in constant fear of its withdrawal. She doesn’t have any real friends having either not fitted into her social status or not allowing them close because of her issues. She requires careful handling and support. I really liked the re-appearance of Melody from Losing Track within the narrative and how she proves to be a rock for her friends.

As with the other books in the Living Heartwood series the story is told in dual narrative but with more focus on the female protagonist :)

Ryder is a wonderful character, he connects with Ari from their first encounter. Something calls to both of them, it is as if they can see inside each other. While this gives them insight on how to help each other it also gives them the means to cause the most amount of pain.

Ryder has his own problems stemming from bullying and family pressure. Having grown up in a poor household he has some residual self-esteem issues stemming from the humiliation he felt at the hands of his tormentors in high school. Translating in a short fuse where certain topics are concerned and resulting in misunderstandings.

The theme of identity is strong within Fading Out, with both Ryder and Arian living the life that has been mapped out for them rather than navigating their own path. It is very hard to know who you are when you have been confined by so many rules and regulations/parental expectation. It is no wonder Arian especially considers herself as no-one :(

Eating disorders, in the same way as addiction, are a live long battle and not simply cured. There are all sorts of mental health problems and they should be treated with care and respect.

Fading Out in true Trisha Wolfe style is a gritty, realistic romance with engaging characters. I am so glad that Trish provides an epilogue in her books, allowing me to fill my heart and put my mind at ease ♥

Review: Losing Track by Trisha Wolfe

Received from AToMR

Received from AToMR

Title: Losing Track
Series: Living Heartwood #2
Author: Trisha Wolfe
Publisher: Self Published
Publication Date: Oct 2014
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 3.5/5

Synopsis from Goodreads

Sometimes you have to lose your way before finding the right track.

The roar of a bike engine. The vibration between her thighs. The feel of cool darkness kissing her skin as she coasts along twisty back roads at night—Melody Lachlan lives for these things. Ever since Mel and her best friend Darla escaped their small, backwoods town, they’ve traveled the countryside in search of fast rides, tatted bikers, and good times.

A self-proclaimed poet and lover of all things free, Mel views her life as one long bike ride—with pit stops along the way to numb the pain. But she never saw herself as a junkie. Party as hard as you ride. That’s her motto…until a tragic night steals her soul. Then she’s forced to delve below the surface, to where her demons rage.

When she meets recovered drug addict Boone Randall, she’s more likely to deck him than kiss his dimple-adorable face. She doesn’t want his help; doesn’t want to own up to her part in that night. She just wants to do her time and keep her promise to her friend. Yet Boone challenges Mel, and soon she doesn’t mind sharing the road. Only when Boone’s own secret demons threaten their newfound, fragile security, Mel’s course becomes rocky, and she must decide if letting her well-worn track marks fade is worth finding a new path.

Told from Dual point of view from Melody and Boone, this is a New Adult Contemporary Romance intended for readers seventeen years of age and older.

REVIEW 

I have to tell you I initially struggled with Losing Track, not because it isn’t a good story BUT because I have my own issues with reading about addiction. Having an alcoholic ex-husband has left me much less sympathetic to characters battling addiction. It is human nature to project your own experiences onto characters, also proving my point that reading is subjective ;) However, I will say that with the help of Trisha’s beautiful writing style and Melody’s depth of character I was able to put aside my own issues and connect with Melody in a way I would not have thought possible at the beginning of the book.

I also have to mention the deep and meaningful quotes placed at the chapter headings, pay special attention to these as they take on a much more profound meaning than I anticipated ;)

Both Melody and Boone are far broader characters than initial observation would suggest. While the story is told in dual narrative I did feel as if we gained more perspective on Melody than we did on Boone; Melody’s background was more filled out than Boone’s enabling that deeper connection.

Melody appears rough around the edges and fiercely independent, until you dig below the surface. Having a MC member for a father she has been immersed in the lifestyle since birth, never shielded from the brutality of this lifestyle. Drugs were an everyday occurrence, socially acceptable even a requirement in a way.  It was frightening to think of a 13-year-old Melody scoring drugs and it being accepted by her family :( it makes you wonder just how many children of addicts become addicts themselves, having seen that behaviour as normal. While I can understand the need to escape reality there has to be a line; sometimes that line gets blurred due to the growing addiction BUT when a tragic wake-up call comes it needs to be heard.

Trish doesn’t sugar coat addiction, the reality is that once an addict, it will be a life long battle to remain clean. The learned habitual behaviour was well portrayed – certain situations acting as triggers for the cravings, I am sure it is something everyone can relate to whether an addict or not.

Losing Track shows that all actions have a consequence, each single decision along the way has a repercussion. Trish’s writing style flows effortlessly drawing you in while connection you to the characters (however reluctantly) ;)

Melody really grows on you, she is very charismatic, a real people person although she has tended to keep people at arm’s length apart from her friend Darla. She is a wonderful friend to have, loyal and trust-worthy, full of compassion, and always there when she is needed without judgement or accusation. As she moves forward she realises that to be truly happy she has to let people in. Boone is her equal, they fit together with ease, the passion also helps :)

Losing Track is one of those books that help build empathy within the reader. Perfect for fans of gritty, realistic romance dealing with contemporary issues.

Review: Fake Mustache by Tom Angleberger

Image from Goodreads

Image from Goodreads

Title: Fake Mustache
Author: Tom Angleberger
Publisher: Amulet
Publication Date: April 2012
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 4/5

Synopsis from Goodreads

Regular kid Lenny Flem Jr. is the only one standing between his evil-genius best friend—Casper, a master of disguise and hypnosis—and world domination. It all begins when Casper spends money from his granny on a spectacularly convincing fake mustache, the Heidelberg Handlebar #7. With it he’s able rob banks, amass a vast fortune, and run for president. Is Lenny the only one who can see through his disguise? And will he be able to stop Casper from taking over the world?

REVIEW BY JACK 9:6

Fake Mustache, a children’s comedy story, is American as is clear from the title. The novel takes place in a slightly bizarre version of modern day America, within the fictional state capital of Hairsprinkle. It is initially narrated by Lenny Flem Junior but later swaps to Jodie O’Rodeo. The action is spread through Lenny’s house, the Heidelberg novelty company factory, Sven’s Fair Price Store and the Hairsprinkle Municipal Stadium.

The plot is surprisingly complex, but basically Lenny Jr. saves the world from his best friend Casper and his fake mustache with the help of his favorite TV star, Jodie O’Rodeo and the mustaches inventor, Hank Heidelberg. Casper meanwhile has used the unknown powers of his mustache to raise vast amounts of money and get himself elected/chosen for increasingly important governmental roles.

My favorite part of this tale is a short section narrated by Lenny where he meets Jodie while in fancy dress as her. It is one of the funniest parts of the book. The character I like best is Hank Heidelberg, who is wonderfully old-fashioned and quirky. He knows all sorts of things which he does not at all understand the implications of and he stubbornly insists on remaining in a near-suicidal situation in a classic hero/martyr manner.

Something that annoys me about this book is that the American title has not been translated into British English and consequently says “mustache” rather than “moustache”. However, this is just my problem. The only real issue is that, for a comedy book there is not that a huge amount of humor in it. This does not really detract, though, from and excellent and complicated story.

I thought this comedy might be a bit childish but it was actually great, even for me at age 14. I might get another book by this author if I saw it, but I have a feeling my friends would consider themselves too old for it.

I would give the story four out of five stars.

Review plus Give-Away: Rebound by Noelle August

Received from Publisher

Received from Publisher

Title: Rebound
Series: Boomerang #2
Author: Noelle August
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: 10 Feb 2015
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 3/5

REBOUND
—a Boomerang novel—
By Noelle August

At Boomerang, one night can change everything… 

Adam Blackwood has it all. At twenty-two, he’s fabulously wealthy, Ryan Gosling-hot and at the top of his game in the business world. His life is perfect, until a scandal from his past resurfaces and threatens to knock the tech wunderkind down and throw his company, Boomerang, a hook-up site for millennials, into chaos.

Alison Quick, the twenty-one-year-old daughter of a business tycoon—and the very ex-girlfriend of Boomerang’s former intern, Ethan—has a problem of her own. After nearly flunking out in her senior year of college, she has one chance to redeem herself to her father by proving that she deserves a place in his corporate empire. That means spearheading her father’s plan to sink big money into Adam’s company and launch it into the stratosphere—provided Adam has no skeletons in his closet.

When the two meet, their sizzling chemistry makes it tough to keep things strictly professional. But when Alison discovers Adam’s secret, she knows she should bring it right to her father, who’ll leverage it for his own gain and use it to ruin Adam. The only problem: she’s falling for Adam—hard.

Will earning her father’s approval come at the price of losing her first real love? Or can Adam and Alison leave behind past mistakes and conquer the world—together?

REBOUND will be available wherever books and e-books are sold on February 10th, 2015 (ISBN: 9780062331083 | $13.99 | e-ISBN: 9780062331090 | $11.99).

Excerpt One – Alison POV REBOUND

Excerpt TWO – Adam POV REBOUND

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Question: What do you get when friends pen a story with heart, plenty of laughs, and toe-curling kissing scenes? Answer: Noelle August, the pseudonym for renowned editor and award-winning writer Lorin Oberweger and New York Times bestselling YA author Veronica Rossi, the masterminds behind the Boomerang series. You can visit them at NoelleAugust.com, @Noelle_August, and facebook.com/NoelleAugustBooks.

REVIEW 

In all honesty, I entered Rebound with a lot of preconceived ideas about the main characters based on the limited information provided about them in Boomerang. I was fully prepared to hate Alison for what she did to Ethan, as well as feeling a little antagonistic toward Adam for creating a dating site purely for hook-ups :( (where is the romance in that). However, I am happy to report n this occasion I admit, I was wrong. Although I still rant and rave over any form of cheating, there is far more going on under the surface to explain certain actions.

Both Adam and Alison have led privileged lives, yet it hasn’t spoiled them and turned them into shallow people. In fact, they both have a depth of compassion not easily seen behind their public personas. Something I think they subconsciously recognise in each other, an underlying vulnerability, that draws them together.

Their physical attraction and chemistry is off the charts but more than that they fit together perfectly. Both have emotional barriers in place due to incidents in both of their past. Adam is initially emotionally unavailable and happy with it. Although,  the more time he spends with Alison, he can’t help but crack his defences.

Both Adam and Alison have deep levels of insight into human nature. Their insight provides them with a deeper connection to each other; something neither of then expected or particularly wanted but desperately needed. I really liked how mistakes were viewed with both regret and as a learning process (the positive within the negative).

Outside pressures, secrets from the past alongside work and family pressure create problems between Adam and Alison forming a relationship. There is far more depth to both main characters than I would have given them credit for. Misunderstandings, anger and hurt lead to an emotionally charged plot; leading to both Adam and Alison facing their personal demons. Their self-reflection and developing self-awareness added depth to the narrative as well as their characterizations.

I really liked the use of team building and trusts exercises within the story and how their themes paralleled interactions within relationships.

Rebound is a slow build with a quick ending, personally I would have liked to have seen more of the relationship and less of the angst but you know me, IT’s ALL ABOUT THE ROMANCE ;)

I just have to get this out there – I still hate COOKIE. However, I am really, really liking Adam’s younger brother, Grey ;) I am so happy he is getting his own book, Bounce, coming August 25th.

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