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Don't Let in the Cold by Keely Parrack

Saturday, November 12, 2022
The storm isn't the only thing they'll have to survive.

It was supposed to be just one night in the cabin: one night for Lottie and her brand new stepsister, Jade, to try to get along. When a solar flare causes a massive blackout―no power or cell signal―Lottie knows they've got a long night ahead of them.

Then, in the dark, someone else shows up at the cabin―a stranger named Alex, claiming to be lost and needing shelter from the coming snowstorm. But later that night, Lottie spies him in the driveway talking to two mysterious men in a pickup truck, and she's sure he's lying about why he's here.

Before Lottie can find out more, a fire forces her, Jade, and Alex out into the blizzard, where they must rely on one another to get to safety―wherever that is. In the remote, freezing Tahoe wilderness, they have to survive more than just the elements. Soon it becomes clear that Alex's accomplices are hunting for all three of them, in a scheme that's gone too far and taken a chilling, deadly turn.

Goodreads Summary

I think in order to enjoy this book it would help if the reader kept an open mind to practically everything that can happen to the two most unlucky people in the world during a blizzard with a solar flare. With this perspective, I ended up liking the book in a generic way. It's a little difficult for me to truly become engrossed in a novel with unlikable characters. I wasn't a fan of Lottie, the main character. However, her stepsister Jade was a little redemptive. The entire plot seemed a little goofy: their parents threw them together in Jade's dad's Tahoe cabin while they went on a very quick honeymoon. From the beginning the reader should be thinking: this is just a bad idea. Well, it gets worse. Alex, another unlikable character, quickly becomes a thorn in their side and the source of some of the problems. 

I'm a little unique in reading others' reviews - I didn't hate the romance. I figured that if the author threw every problem under the sun that could occur to these two unfortunate teens then why not throw in a little romance. Overall, I didn't hate this book and I'm glad I finished it, but I would have preferred a book that isn't almost comically survivalist focused. 

3 Stars

This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews. COPYRIGHT © 2014 LIVE TO READ

I'm the Girl by Courtney Summers

The new groundbreaking queer thriller from New York Times bestselling and Edgar-award Winning author Courtney Summers.

When sixteen-year-old Georgia Avis discovers the dead body of thirteen-year-old Ashley James, she teams up with Ashley's older sister, Nora, to find and bring the killer to justice before he strikes again. But their investigation throws Georgia into a world of unimaginable privilege and wealth, without conscience or consequence, and as Ashley’s killer closes in, Georgia will discover when money, power and beauty rule, it might not be a matter of who is guilty—but who is guiltiest.

A spiritual successor to the 2018 breakout hit, SadieI'm the Girl is a masterfully written, bold, and unflinching account of how one young woman feels in her body as she struggles to navigate a deadly and predatory power structure while asking readers one question: if this is the way the world is, do you accept it?

Goodreads Summary

I love this author and was more than excited to pick up this book right around Halloween. It didn't disappoint. I quickly became engaged in the mystery behind who killed Ashley James. Georgia is introduced as a young sleuth who the world views as beautiful. Unfortunately, she's economically disadvantaged and hopes to utilize her beauty to break out of the poverty cycle she's trapped in. The world the author introduces us to is seedy and, at times, just gross. It was hard to read some of the more sexually charged scenes. I was happy that the author included a semblance of female friendship in Nora's character. I felt that Nora and Georgia worked very well together to tackle a world that neither is accustomed to. 

Georgia's character took some adjusting for me to get used to. I definitely didn't always like her and sometimes I regretted rooting for her, but I liked that the author was able to pull off writing about a character I didn't even really like and I still wanted to finish the book. I'm the Girl focused on character development and revealed possible struggles that young girls in Ashley's situation may go through. The ending, I will warn future readers, killed me. I was hoping for a different ending and the final scene that I read was not even one that I was anticipating. 

3 Stars

This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews. COPYRIGHT © 2014 LIVE TO READ

The Depths by Nicole Lesperance

Thursday, November 3, 2022

A tropical island full of secrets. Two Victorian ghosts, trapped for eternity. And a seventeen-year-old girl determined not to be next.

Eulalie Island should be a paradise, but to Addie Spencer, it's more like a prison.

Forced to tag along to the remote island on her mother's honeymoon, Addie isn't thrilled about being trapped there for two weeks. The island is stunning, with its secluded beaches and forests full of white flowers. But there's something eerie and unsettling about the place.

After Addie meets an enigmatic boy on the beach, all the flowers start turning pink. The island loves you, he tells her. But she can't stop sleepwalking at night, the birds keep calling her name, and there's a strange little girl in the woods who wants to play hide-and-seek. When Addie learns about two sisters who died on the island centuries ago, she wonders if there's more to this place, things only she can see.

Beneath its gorgeous surface, Eulalie Island is hiding dark, tangled secrets. And if Addie doesn't unravel them soon, the island might never let her go

Goodreads Summary

I loved Addie's character. The plot of The Depths was unique in many ways, but what truly enticed me to finish the book in one sitting was Addie's character and wanting the best for her. The beginning of the novel started off with a bang: a video of Addie drowning and being resuscitated. Unfortunately, the video acts as a symbol of foreshadowing for Addie's upcoming adventures.

When Addie meets an unusual love interest on the sunny, wet, tropical island vacation for her mother's honeymoon she probably isn't aware that she's setting off a string of unusual events. As she delves more into the island's idyllic love for her and the two spooky corpselike beings that inhabit it she will find she has more than she bargained for. 

The story slowly unravels like a slow burn in a horror film. I found myself hoping for the best for Addie and Violet and kind of sick of Addie's mom, stepdad, and other useless adults that populated the book. I was a bit surprised by the ending and the "secret" behind the island. I loved how the author wove human anatomy into the island itself and somehow made it work. 

4 Stars

This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews. COPYRIGHT © 2014 LIVE TO READ

Papillon by Miwa Ueda

Sunday, October 30, 2022

It’s no fun being a high school outcast. It’s even harder when your twin sister is the most popular girl in school! The ultra-glam Hana is the ultimate teen queen, but her sister, Ageha, is just a shy tomboy. Hana loves being the center of attention so much that she’ll do anything to keep her sister in her shadow. But Ageha has a plan that will change her life. Because no one, not even Hana, can hold Ageha back forever. . .

Goodreads Summary

I love Miwa Ueda's stories and this one is no different. The story develops with Ageha feeling "othered" in her own home; she grew up with her granda while Hana was raised by their parents. Although Ageha and Hana were twins they were very different in both personality and focus with Ageha working hard on her studies and Hana focusing more on fashion and boys.   The author takes care to develop Ageha while leaving Hana's character less developed until later in the series. Right away, the reader is drawn to Ageha and her gentle, empathic nature. 

Within the first half the story, the reader meets two potential love interests of Ageha's. The story continues with Hana plotting to give Ageha's happily ever after trouble at every turn. I loved the romance and relationship development between Ageha and her "sensei." It was a relationship that the reader could only dream of having in reality. The romantic scenes were more than just physical, but also emotional. I found myself hoping that Ageha would achieve her happily ever after with her Sensei after the first book in the series. 

5 Stars

This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews. COPYRIGHT © 2014 LIVE TO READ

Mere Mortals by Erin Jade Lange

"Two teenage vampires are turned mortal and must face the greatest nightmare of all--high school"--

This hilarious, fresh take on a classic vampire tale follows a pair of hundred-year-old teenage vampires who are turned mortal and must face the greatest nightmare of all—high school.

Charlie and her brother, Reg, have been vampires for…a very long time. For a century, they enjoyed the glitz and glamour of life as members of the wealthiest vampire clan. But now, after one careless mistake, they’ve been expelled from the vampire community and dumped in the middle of Nowhere, Iowa, to live as mortals.

Suddenly Charlie has to deal with zits, tears, and—worst of all—high school. But things start to change when she and Reg find a group of friends, including the deliciously good-looking Dexter. And though Charlie would give anything to be vampire again, she begins to appreciate some of the new experiences that humanity brings too.

But nothing could make them forget the life they’ve left behind. When they’re offered a second shot at immortality, Charlie is desperate to seize it. It’ll just mean a total betrayal of all her new friends, who will have their minds wiped of their memories of her. She can handle that if it means she can live forever…right?

Goodreads Summary

I was enjoying this book up until the end. It will be difficult to give a solid review on Mere Mortals without alluding to the ending. When I first met Charlie and Reg, they had been changed from vampires to humans by an Elder council as punishment for their transgressions. Charlie was ardently against being human while Reg appeared to be adapting better. As the plot continued, the reader observed Charlie repeatedly attempting to contact vampire clans to gain backup for her attempt to transition back into a vampire by appealing to the Elder council. When Charlie meets Lina, her attempts appear to have finally found a sympathetic ear. 

I enjoyed the story. For whatever reason, I wasn't overly attached to the supporting characters and the love interest of Lena's, Dexter, wasn't very "romantic." Reg's love interest, Poe, was a little more interesting and true-to-life due final events of that relationship, but I didn't feel a strong attachment to that duo, either. The premise was well-developed and enjoyable, but the ending, for me, felt a bit like a waste. Althought I know there was supposed to be some kind of moral lesson behind the ending it felt more to me like a disappointment of one's own convictions. I do hope to read more from the author in the future; her ideas are innovative. 

2 1/2 Stars

This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews. COPYRIGHT © 2014 LIVE TO READ

Violet Made of Thorns by Gina Chen

A darkly enchanting fantasy debut about a morally gray witch, a cursed prince, and a prophecy that ignites their fate-twisted destinies—perfect for fans of The Cruel Prince and Serpent & Dove.

Violet is a prophet and a liar, influencing the royal court with her cleverly phrased—and not always true—divinations. Honesty is for suckers, like the oh-so-not charming Prince Cyrus, who plans to strip Violet of her official role once he’s crowned at the end of the summer—unless Violet does something about it.

But when the king asks her to falsely prophesy Cyrus’s love story for an upcoming ball, Violet awakens a dreaded curse, one that will end in either damnation or salvation for the kingdom—all depending on the prince’s choice of future bride. Violet faces her own choice: Seize an opportunity to gain control of her own destiny, no matter the cost, or give in to the ill-fated attraction that’s growing between her and Cyrus.

Violet’s wits may protect her in the cutthroat court, but they can’t change her fate. And as the boundary between hatred and love grows ever thinner with the prince, Violet must untangle a wicked web of deceit in order to save herself and the kingdom—or doom them all.

Goodreads Summary

I loved this book. I read it in a day, it was a perfect blend of romance and fantasy, and I loved it. The romance that bloomed (pun intended) between Violet and Cyrus was genuine and easy to get wrapped up in. I would have preferred more romantic scenes between the two of them, but the scenes provided by the author felt very realistic. The romance was easily the best part of the story. 

The fantasy portion was very well-developed. I could picture the scenes as they flew by from the ball to the arrival of Cyrus's potential bride to the true evil behind the mystery. The author's ability to lay out the prophecy and fulfill it so neatly was fun to read. The red herring she wove into the story's plot was both intentional and hard to look away from. The supporting characters were funny and fleshed out despite being more secondary. When it came time to turn the last page I found myself hoping for this to be a series even though it seemed unlikely from the ending. The ending itself was not very predictable; I was a little surprised by it. 

4 1/2 Stars

This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews. COPYRIGHT © 2014 LIVE TO READ

The World Deserves My Children by Natasha Leggero

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

A laugh-out-loud funny collection of insightful and razor-sharp essays on motherhood in our post-apocalyptic world from comedian Natasha Leggero.

When Natasha Leggero got pregnant at forty-two after embarking on the grueling IVF process, she was over the moon. But once her feelings of bliss dissipated, she couldn’t help but shake the lingering question: Am I doing this right? And then, Should I be doing this if the world is about to end?

In The World Deserves My Children, Natasha explores themes like “geriatric” motherhood, parenting in an environmental panic, fear and love, discipline (and conflicting schools of thought on how not to raise a brat), and more. Ultimately, Natasha determines that motherhood is worth it. After all, where do you think the next five generations of humans will be if the only people who are having kids don’t believe in science? The world deserves my children.

Goodreads Summary

This book contains everything from the midnight rantings of a sleep-deprived new mom to gallows humor. One thing the title won't do is fail to make the reader laugh. Readers who have children are likely to nod along with the author's observations of motherhood while readers without children will do...well, the same! This book is very relatable and easy to finish in a few days. I didn't know much about Natasha prior to reading this book, but now I feel as if I could pat her shoulder consolingly on the street as her child does something embarrassing. Although the author uses humor to express her frustrations at new motherhood and everything (joys and evils) that accompany it, I could also feel how much she loved her daughter through the pages of the book. 

I enjoyed the author's portrayal of her experience with IVF, finding "The One," and dealing with him after the wedding. I can appreciate almost every example the author cites. I was excited to pick this book up because it is difficult to find novels that touch on "geriatric motherhood" in any way other than negatively. It was refreshing to read a positive take on late maternity and a different perspective into biology's rat race. I hope to read more from Natasha in the future. 

5 Stars

This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews. COPYRIGHT © 2014 LIVE TO READ

Lore Olympus: Volume One by Rachel Smythe

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Experience the propulsive love story of two Greek gods—Hades and Persephone—brought to life with lavish artwork and an irresistible contemporary voice.

Scandalous gossip, wild parties, and forbidden love—witness what the gods do after dark in this stylish and contemporary reimagining of one of mythology’s most well-known stories from creator Rachel Smythe. Featuring a brand-new, exclusive short story, Smythe’s original Eisner-nominated web-comic Lore Olympus brings the Greek Pantheon into the modern age with this sharply perceptive and romantic graphic novel.

This volume collects episodes 1-25 of the #1 WEBTOON comic, Lore Olympus.

Goodreads Summary

I was very skeptical when my sister brought this volume home from Barnes and Noble. However, I soon fell in love with the character of Persephone. The pictures, though crudely drawn, are enticing and help make the book difficult to put down. I soon associated certain characteristics and mannerisms with each character. The author's rendering of ancient Greek gods is a fun, fresh new take on ancient beliefs. Although the reader probably has a good idea of where the story is going and what might occur along the way, the author has new ideas and manages to insert humor and evoke emotional reactions within the reader. I found myself quickly turning the pages to find out what would happen next despite knowing the myth of Persephone and Hades. There were moments when I wished the author fleshed out the characters a little more as it was sometimes difficult to feel connected to them; however, I tried to appreciate the flawed characters for what they were.  I was surprised, but happy to learn that there were more books in this series and can't wait to read more from this author! 

This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews. COPYRIGHT © 2014 LIVE TO READ

Poison Princess by Kresley Cole

Wednesday, September 28, 2022
#1 New York Times bestselling author Kresley Cole introduces The Arcana Chronicles, post-apocalyptic tales filled with riveting action, the dark mysticism of Tarot cards, and breathtaking romance.

She could save the world--or destroy it.
Sixteen year old Evangeline"Evie" Greene leads a charmed life--until she begins experiencing horrifying hallucinations. When an apocalyptic event decimates her Louisiana hometown, killing everyone she loves, Evie realizes her hallucinations were actually visions of the future--and they're still happening. Fighting for her life and desperate for answers, she must turn to her wrong-side-of-the-bayou classmate: Jack Deveaux.

But she can't do either alone.
With his mile-long rap sheet, wicked grin, and bad attitude, Jack is like no boy Evie has ever known. Even though he once scorned her and everything she represented, he agrees to protect Evie on her quest. She knows she can't totally trust Jack. If he ever cast that wicked grin her way, could she possibly resist him?

Who can Evie trust?
As Jack and Evie race to find the source of her visions, they meet others who have gotten the same call. An ancient prophesy is being played out, and Evie is not the only one with special powers. A group of teens has been chosen to reenact the ultimate battle between good and evil. But it's not always clear who is on which side...

In Poison PrincessNew York Times bestselling author Kresley Cole introduces a dark and intriguing world, full of unspeakable danger and irresistible romance.

Goodreads Summary

I don't think I've read a more creative author than Kresley Cole in the young adult genre. I love the idea of characters represented by tarot cards interacting in a barren world recently devastated by an apocalyptic event. The author did not shy away from gruesome scenes and the more bitter aspects of humanity during an apocalypse. Some of it was hard to read, but it gave the book a level of realism when you're reading about human tarot cards. She introduced Evie in the best possible way and slowly developed her character to the point where I was able to look past some of her more annoying traits. I grew invested in her and rooted for her to have a nice outcome in this nasty world. 

Evie's "friends" and fellow players varied in levels of development. Some perished immediately in the fight while others befriended Evie. Jack left me unsure of his motives though for Evie's sake I hoped they were pure. The slight love triangle between Jack, Selena, and Evie felt manufactured and fake. I wish this has been left out of the book. The plot was fast-paced and intricately developed. I felt as if Evie was a character the reader could really slip into and feel the scenes of the book with. I plan on reading this series until the end. 

4 Stars

This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews. COPYRIGHT © 2014 LIVE TO READ

Crown of Crimson by Karina Halle

All Hanna Heikkinen wants is to be reunited with her father again. After all, that's why she ventured into the dark and dangerous fantasy world of Tuonela, the Land of the Dead, in order to save his life. But this time her devotion to her father comes at a cost---her growing relationship with Tuoni, the God of Death himself, who held Hanna captive in exchange for her father's life. The last thing she expects is to feel remorse at how she left things with Death, yet the dark and sexy God is all she can think about.

Death has always prided himself on never trusting the living, but Hanna's apparent betrayal has left a scar fathom's deep. Vowing revenge on his future bride, and making sure she upholds her end of the bargain, Death sets out across his realm to steal Hanna back, which only fans the flames between them. But Death and Hanna aren't just fighting each other---malevolent Old Gods are rising to power within the realm, magic is being poisoned, and buried secrets are brought to light, secrets that may cause Hanna to lose everyone she loves dear once again.

Goodreads Summary

I am dying to read more from this author. The second book in the Underworld Gods series made me regret reading this book before the third in the series was released. The book picked up right after the first. Hanna and Death remain a swoon worthy couple with an incredible chemistry between them. The author's style of writing is easy to slip into; I enjoy her descriptions and can actually imagine the scene unfolding in front of me. The author's timing in the introduction of Death's ex-wife was perfect. She didn't introduce her too early in the first book, which would have hurt the reader's investment in Death and Hanna's relationship, but she didn't wait too long to introduce little Ms. Drama. Fortunately for the reader, Death's ex-wife was not written to be part of a love triangle. She's just another antagonistic character in Tuonela who is part of a larger scheme to rid Death of his throne. 

The characters are developed beyond even that of the first book in the series. Hanna and Death become closer as a couple while still maintaining both humorous and agitating banter. The intimate scenes are out-of-this-world and will make the reader wish they had a personal Death as a partner. The side characters also received more action and development. I loved the author's approach to prophecy and little hints to the reader about what is likely to occur in the next novel. Unfortunately, it's nothing but teasing until we can get our hands on the next in the series!

5 Stars

This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews. COPYRIGHT © 2014 LIVE TO READ

River of Shadows by Karina Halle

Sunday, September 18, 2022

River of Shadows is an adult dark fantasy romance based on Finnish mythology and the underworld of Tuonela.

When 24-year old Hanna Heikkinen's estranged father dies, she reluctantly makes the trip to Northern Finland for his funeral. Being in the enchanting land of ice and snow feels miles away from Hanna's busy life back in Los Angeles, especially under the complicated circumstances.

But when Hanna discovers that her father's body is missing, that's when things really get weird. A mysterious man, Rasmus, tells Hanna the truth: her father was a powerful shaman who went into Tuonela, the Realm of the Dead, in order to barter for more life, and has been held captive by Tuoni, the God of Death. The only way her father can be freed is if she travels with Rasmus into the mythical underworld to rescue him.

Willing to do anything to have a second-chance with her father, Hanna accompanies Rasmus into the dark and bloody realm, traveling via the River of Shadows, stalked by dangerous creatures, monsters, and the living dead, until they finally come into the haunted kingdom ruled by Death and his family.

Only for her to be captured and held prisoner by the God of Death himself.

Turns out Death is intrigued by Hanna's beauty and fierceness and makes a bargain with her. If she marries him, and spends an eternity in the Realm of the Dead as his wife, he'll set her father free.

But even the most noble sacrifices come with hidden costs, and Hanna's might involve the most unexpected of all things: her heart.

Goodreads Summary

This must be one of my favorite finds of the year. I was so surprised with the delicate intertwining of romance, fantasy, intrigue, and comedy. The book starts out with a bang; Hanna, our main character, discovers that her father has passed away and comes for the funeral. After what can only be referred to as "not really a funeral," she ends up in Tuonela (more or less The Underworld). In Tuonela she meets interesting creatures and secondary characters that really help move the story along and add to the already magical plot and storyline. This book has mermaids, monsters, and mushrooms. 

The romance was shockingly steamy. I don't think I expected such elaborate depictions of what reminds me of 50 Shades of Gray. Tuoni, death, wants to take a second wife and fulfill a peculiar prophecy and Hanna may fit the bill. The scenes went on for several pages and built on each other. They had a bit of a modern feel; I could picture Hanna in "her typical life" worrying about the same issues with online dating guys. I liked how the author meshed old world themes with modern day worries and topics. The ending absolutely killed me and I immediately ran to the library to get a copy of the second in the series. 

5 Stars

This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews. COPYRIGHT © 2014 LIVE TO READ

The Ballad of Never After by Stephanie Garber

Thursday, September 15, 2022

The fiercely-anticipated sequel to the #1 New York Times bestseller Once Upon a Broken Heart, starring Evangeline Fox and the Prince of Hearts on a new journey of magic, mystery, and heartbreak.

Not every love is meant to be.

After Jacks, the Prince of Hearts, betrays her, Evangeline Fox swears she'll never trust him again. Now that she’s discovered her own magic, Evangeline believes she can use it to restore the chance at happily ever after that Jacks stole away.

But when a new terrifying curse is revealed, Evangeline finds herself entering into a tenuous partnership with the Prince of Hearts again. Only this time, the rules have changed. Jacks isn’t the only force Evangeline needs to be wary of. In fact, he might be the only one she can trust, despite her desire to despise him.

Instead of a love spell wreaking havoc on Evangeline’s life, a murderous spell has been cast. To break it, Evangeline and Jacks will have to do battle with old friends, new foes, and a magic that plays with heads and hearts. Evangeline has always trusted her heart, but this time she’s not sure she can. . . .

Goodreads Summary

This book was absolutely swoon-worthy. My only complaint is that it ended too soon and with too many unanswered questions. Evangeline, "Eva," and Jacks picked up their little flirtatious banter and continued it through most of the book leaving my hanging on each page hoping to see more of a romance blossom. However, Apollo is not "out of the scene" and Eva still tries to maintain a semblance of loyalty to him. Without giving too much away, this book contains a bit of a love triangle without over-emphasizing it. 

The scenery and storyline are rich and easy to imagine as the reader is quickly running through the book. I consistently found myself meaning to only read a few chapters, but when I was finished I would have gone through at least fifty pages. If possible, I would recommend that you try to enjoy the book over at least a few days. Enjoying the book will make the heart ache over Eva a little more palatable, too. 

The author continues to illustrate fun and memorable supporting characters while giving the reader hints of Jacks' past life and how his past may have shaped him. I loved picking up on some of the backstory and guessing at how the characters will react based on their experiences. The ending, without giving too much away, felt a bit cliché and I am hoping for another in the series so both the reader, Eva, and Jacks aren't left with what occurred the last few chapters. 

5 Stars

This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews. COPYRIGHT © 2014 LIVE TO READ

Good Morning, Love by Ashley M. Coleman

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

For fans of My (Not So) Perfect Life and Jasmine Guillory’s While We Were Dating, a disarmingly fun debut novel follows Carlisa Henton as her life comes undone after a chance meeting with a rising pop star.

Carlisa “Carli” Henton is a musician and songwriter hoping to follow in her father’s musical footsteps. But, biding her time until she makes it big in the music industry, she works as a junior account manager at a big-name media company to cover her New York City rent. Carli meticulously balances her work with her musical endeavors as a songwriter—until a chance meeting with rising star Tau Anderson sends her calculated world into a frenzy. Their worlds collide and quickly blur the strict lines Carli has drawn between her business and her personal life, throwing Carli’s reputation—and her burgeoning songwriting career—into question.

A smart, timely, energizing romance, Good Morning, Love shows us what the glamorous New York’s music scene is really like and takes us into the lives of a rising but somewhat troubled R&B star and a promising protégé who knows her job better than she knows herself.

With fresh and honest prose, Good Morning, Love examines the uncertainty of being a new professional looking to chase a dream while also trying to survive in a world that’s not always kind to ambitious women.

Goodreads Summary

I can still remember when I learned the difference between a driven, confident woman vs a man. This novel has so many layers to it, but one of the subjects that I feel it touches on very well is how a woman like Carli can be viewed in a world where being a professional woman means that any misstep is heavily penalized. I liked Carli as a person. She has goals and values her achievements. When the author chose to throw a love interest in the mix I was a little disappointed that the book didn't focus solely on Carlie; however, I grew to like the somewhat antagonist feel of the relationship between Carlie and Tau. Their relationship is not one that I'm used to reading about in this genre. I felt like it was a bit like You Tarzan, Me Jane and it was unexpected for me. 

The plot itself didn't have a particularly fast pace, but I enjoyed reading this book over the course of a few days. The scenes were well-thought out and there wasn't too much fluff in the novel despite having a love story at its center. I suppose I would have liked to see a little further development with their relationship and I had a bit of trouble connecting with Tau initially. The ending surprised me; I thought that the reader would get to learn a little more about what ended up happening to Carlie than they did. Overall, this is a lovely book to take with on an airplane or on the way to the beach. 

3 1/2 Stars

This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews. COPYRIGHT © 2014 LIVE TO READ

Bad Things Happen Here by Rebecca Barrow

I Killed Zoe Spanos meets The Cheerleaders in this haunting mystery about an island town with a history of unsolved deaths—and a girl desperate to uncover the mystery behind it all.

Luca Laine Thomas lives on a cursed island. To the outside world, Parris is an exclusive, idyllic escape accessible only to the one percent. There’s nothing idyllic about its history, though, scattered with the unsolved deaths of young women—deaths Parris society happily ignores to maintain its polished veneer. But Luca can’t ignore them. Not when the curse that took them killed her best friend, Polly, three years ago. Not when she feels the curse lingering nearby, ready to take her next.

When Luca comes home to police cars outside her house, she knows the curse has visited once again. Except this time, it came for Whitney, her sister. Luca decides to take the investigation of Whitney’s death into her own hands. But as a shocking betrayal rocks Luca’s world, the identity Whitney’s killer isn’t the only truth Luca seeks. And by the time she finds what she’s looking for, Luca will come face to face with the curse she’s been running from her whole life.

Goodreads Summary

I was surprised by how much I liked this story. Parris, a decadent island only available to the elites of the world, was really fun to think about. I thought the world-building was really in-depth and detailed; I could practically visualize the setting in my mind and picture the characters walking around this idyllic little world. Unfortunately, this world is far from perfect. Every once in a while an unexplained death or disappearance takes place and the victim is always a young female. Luca's life has been touched twice by this "curse." First, she lost her best friend to an unusual drowning and then her sister is the victim of a sad murder. Luca resolves to discover the true cause behind these deaths even as she feels the curse coming for her. 

Luca's character was intricately written. She was flawed in her own way, but I found her one of the few "heroines" that I truly enjoyed consistently reading about. I admired her dedication to her family and friends and her determination to try to make things right for them. She has some trouble with her anxiety, depression, and self-harm/doubt thoughts, but the book doesn't fixate on her mental issues. Instead, Luca's mental health struggles are depicted more realistically and the character has developed coping mechanisms. She also enjoys a romance with the girl who moves into her best friend's old house. The romance is the light-hearted, sweet, and innocent part of the story. It felt almost untouchable even amongst the mystery and murders. 

The author managed to make the intrigue behind the so-called curse a slow reveal. There were portions that I still think about and definitely didn't guess ahead of time. I really liked the thought process that went into the plot and I'm looking forward to reading more from Rebecca Barrow in the future!

4 Stars

This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews. COPYRIGHT © 2014 LIVE TO READ

We Made It All Up by Margot Harrison

Celeste is the talk of the town when she moves to Montana from Montreal, but the only friend she makes is Vivvy, the heir to the town’s name and a social pariah. Inspired by a passion-fueled school incident, they begin writing a love-story fan fic between the popular guy and the school stoner, one that gradually reveals Celeste’s past. While their bond makes Celeste feel safe and alive again, Vivvy keeps prodding Celeste to turn fantasy into reality. When they finally try, one drunken night on a dark mountainside, Celeste is the one who ends up kissing golden boy Joss. And Joss ends up dead.

Celeste doesn’t remember the end of that night and can’t be sure she didn’t deliver the killing blow. Could she still be that scared of getting close to a boy? Secrets are hard to keep in a small town, and even Vivvy seems to suspect her. Exploring the winding passages of the cave where Joss died, Celeste learns he had his own dark secrets, as does Vivvy. The town isn’t as innocent as it appears.

Goodreads Summary

This book seemed more October-ish than an April read to me, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I'm not used to reading "fan fiction," much less fan fiction written about people around me. In this novel, Celeste and Vivvy write fan fiction about their classmates that quickly blurs the lines between reality and fantasy. The world-building in this book is superb. The author uses a "now/then" format with time stamps to ensure the reader can follow along with the plot and build anticipation up before that fateful day when their classmate dies. I found myself actually nervous for the eventual recounting of that day as the time stamps drew nearer. 

I love books that focus on female friendship. Admittedly, this friendship is a little different, but Celest and Vivvy have a strong and intriguing friendship that grows deeper as the book progresses. It's nice to take a break from books that focus on teen romance. I was very surprised by the ending. Some of the ending is probably more predictable than I was able to guess at; however, the bulk of the rationale and detail behind what really happened is like a slow unspooling of a really long mystery. I felt like the author had put a good deal of thought into the plot and ending and resolved a lot of loose threads for me at the end - so much so that I forgot about some of the loose threads that didn't feel entirely resolved or resolved all too quickly. 

4 Stars

This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews. COPYRIGHT © 2014 LIVE TO READ

Love Radio by Ebony LaDelle

Hitch meets The Sun Is Also a Star in this witty and romantic teen novel about a self-professed teen love doctor with a popular radio segment who believes he can get a girl who hates all things romance to fall in love with him in only three dates.

Prince Jones is the guy with all the answers—or so it seems. After all, at seventeen, he has his own segment on Detroit’s popular hip-hop show, Love Radio, where he dishes out advice to the brokenhearted.

Prince has always dreamed of becoming a DJ and falling in love. But being the main caretaker for his mother, who has multiple sclerosis, and his little brother means his dreams will stay just that and the only romances in his life are the ones he hears about from his listeners.

Until he meets Dani Ford.

Dani isn’t checking for anybody. She’s focused on her plan: ace senior year, score a scholarship, and move to New York City to become a famous author. But her college essay keeps tripping her up and acknowledging what’s blocking her means dealing with what happened at that party a few months ago.

And that’s one thing Dani can’t do.

When the romantic DJ meets the ambitious writer, sparks fly. Prince is smitten, but Dani’s not looking to get derailed. She gives Prince just three dates to convince her that he’s worth falling for.

Three dates for the love expert to take his own advice, and just maybe change two lives forever.

Goodreads Summary

This was one of my favorite reads of April. It's rare to find a book depicting Multiple Sclerosis; while reading, I had the distinct feeling that the author in some way had personal experience with this nasty disease. Although the book centered more around Prince's personal growth, I found his experience as the primary caretaker of his disabled mother and how the obligations for his younger brother fell to him to be entirely relatable. 

Prince was quite literally a prince of a character. He is helpful, kind, and patient; he seemed "older" than his given age, but the sorts of problems he's dealt with in the past few years can age a character. Dani was a shy and quiet character; her experience with some serious problems at a party that she attended was heavy subject material, but entirely realistic for the age group. I really loved these two characters together. They meshed easily and helped make this book a quick read. The overall subject material ranged from heavy to comedy (with a focus on the heavy material such as parental illness, sexual assault, parental abandonment, etc...).  The author did a wonderful job of detailing these two teenagers' experiences of growing up in a difficult world. I loved the light-hearted, innocence behind their budding romance. I really appreciated the setting of Detroit; there aren't enough books taking place in this city. 

4 Stars

This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews. COPYRIGHT © 2014 LIVE TO READ