24 May 2016

Supremacy (Supremacy, Book 1)

Synopsis from Goodreads: Kate Parker is a 17 year old senior living in Texas. She's on the swim team, has two incredible best friends, and a passion for saving animals. She falls hard when she meets a mysterious and fascinating guy named Lucas. He has a sexy accent and a killer smile. However, she sees unexplained pain and anger in his dark brown eyes. He claims he’s a foreign exchange student from Spain who is attending the local University—Kate knows there’s more to his story than that. She works hard to discover who he is—what he is.

How acquired: ARC sent to me by the author for review. Scheduled release date June 3, 2016. 

My thoughts: I didn't know much about this book other than it's a YA/Urban Fantasy, and I really had no idea what to expect. Kate is an interesting character. The word “hyperthymesia” is never used, but Kate has it. In case you're unfamiliar with it, it's also called Superior Autobiographical Memory, and those who possess it can remember every detail of everything that ever happens to them. Kate tells Lucas if she hears it or sees it, she will remember it. Other than her memory, Kate is a pretty normal teenager. She's on the swim team, she likes hanging out with her best friends, she fights with her little brother. She also loves animals, and seems to feel a connection to them. I thought in the beginning that might be explored a little more or be more intrinsic to the plot, but after the first part of the book, where Kate is trying to rescue a starving stray in the woods, it became more secondary.

Lucas is a mysterious motorcycle riding foreigner. He's come to the US from Spain to attend college. They have a “meet cute” moment when Kate walks out of the woods to find Lucas stranded on the side of the road, and she ends up fixing his motorcycle for him. (“Lucas, if you hold my pork chop, I will fix your bike.” That line made me laugh out loud.) There's a slight element of paranormal introduced, as Kate feels a strange anxiety inducing energy when Lucas touches her. Kate's father is a psychiatrist, and she tells him about this weird feeling (I can't imagine telling my dad anything like that at 17!), which leads to an extremely embarrassing moment for Kate when her father meets Lucas for the first time. Her father was a little off the wall with the over protectiveness, and I'm not sure if it's just the way he's wired, or if there's something about Kate that will be revealed in a future book.

Overall the writing felt a little simple, which may be typical of a lot of YA? Since I don't read a lot of it I can't really compare it to the rest of the genre. I was interested in the story, but did not really get engrossed until Kate learned the secret Lucas was hiding about himself. Until then I think I had mixed feelings about him. He had very violent tendencies, and while he seemed to really care about Kate, he did inadvertently physically hurt her at one point, and not knowing what drove him made it hard to feel completely sympathetic to him.

Some of the descriptive passages were vivid, and there was a very funny scene between Kate and her mother in the kitchen, as mom is getting dinner ready and Kate starts acting like a boxer and pretending to throw punches at her exasperated mother. I could see the scene play out in my head and it made me laugh.

This is the author's debut novel, and I think she shows a lot of promise. The book ends a tad abruptly, not on a cliffhanger, exactly, but sort of...I can't tell you any more than that, but it will be interesting to see what unfolds in future books. 

16 May 2016

Taste (A Love Story, Book 3)


Synopsis from Goodreads: In her twenties, Kara Malendar found herself at Le Cordon Bleu culinary school in Paris, thousands of miles away from the harsh media coverage of her political family. But Paris ended abruptly when she was summoned home to Los Angeles and expected to stand in again as the senator’s perfect daughter.

Now, thirty, Kara has made a different kind of life for herself. As a food critic for the Los Angeles Times, she casts a critical eye on other people. That is, until her past finds his way back into town and opens a new restaurant.

Logan Rye, the youngest son of the Ryeland Farms family, is a chef and knows exactly what he's doing with his life. After a few years spent getting his head and heart together, he's opened a new farm-to-table restaurant, The Yard, in Los Angeles. It’s his passion, but according to the LA Times, he’s a trend.

Kara and Logan haven't seen each other since she left him in the lobby of her Paris apartment building, but when she is asked to write a feature on him, it's not long before they are rediscovering the delicious parts of each other. As things heat up, all recipes are forgotten, and Kara and Logan realize nothing was what it seemed in Paris.

If Logan can only find a way to trust, he may be exactly what Kara needs . . if she's ever going to taste life again.

Stats for my copy: Kindle edition, 2015.

How acquired: NetGalley for review.

First line: Kara Malendar was a bitch.

My thoughts: I read RESERVED last month, which is the fourth book in this series, after this one, and I loved it. Five stars loved it. So I was excited when I looked on NetGalley recently and discovered this one was also available.

I love the opening line: “Kara Malendar was a bitch.” Kara, a restaurant reviewer, is the heroine. She's a senator's daughter and has grown up in the spotlight of politics. She's spent her life conforming to what her parents, namely her mother, expects of her. The happiest time of her life was a brief period at a cooking school in Paris, where she used an assumed name and had a wild and hot affair with a fellow American student, Logan. And then her mother dragged her home and she never heard from or talked to Logan again. Until she's assigned a three part story about Logan's restaurant and farm.

Logan grew up taking care of his family, especially his younger sister, Kenna, after their mother walked out when they were kids. He still takes care of everyone and he doesn't do commitment. When Kara left Paris, he was hurt that she had lied about who she was, and he closed his heart off and told himself he didn't care.

Of course sparks fly when Logan and Kara meet again. But they both have a lot of issues to work through before they can even think about an HEA.

I liked Logan. He was a good guy, charming and funny. However, I struggled to connect with Kara. I could understand her issues, where she was coming from, but I found her a little blah. I loved the characters of Kenna and Travis in RESERVED. They were so incredibly vibrant and well written. Kara and, to a lesser extent, Logan, just didn't live up to my expectations. I laughed a lot less with Logan and Kara. But the ending was satisfying, and while overall the book just fell a little flat for me, I still want to read the rest of the books in the series. 

07 May 2016

Forever Road (Peri Jean Mace Ghost Thrillers, Book 1)

Synopsis from Goodreads: Peri Jean Mace’s knack for seeing ghosts made growing up in her rural East Texas hometown a living hell. Now an adult with her own business, she thinks she’s finally got things under control.

But the murder of Peri Jean’s trailer trash cousin, Rae, forces Peri Jean to face long buried issues. She owes her cousin a favor from beyond the grave and must solve her murder. The more Peri Jean pokes around, the more she realizes everyone in Gaslight City has something to hide.

Uncovering the wrong secret will send Peri Jean straight into the arms of a killer.

Stats for my copy: Kindle edition, Long Roads and Dark Ends Press, 2016.

How acquired: Given to me by the author's publicist for review.

First line: An inhuman shriek sliced through the pre-dawn darkness, stabbing at the haze of sleep coating my brain.

My thoughts: Peri Jean Mace is an interesting character. She can see ghosts, a condition which caused her mother to commit her to a mental institution as a young child, where the word schizophrenia was bandied about. She's not the first heroine I've read about who has the ability to see ghosts, but I believe she is the first who has not embraced this particular trait. Seeing ghosts has caused Peri to become an outcast in the little town of Gaslight City, where everyone is aware of it, whether they believe it's true or believe she's crazy, but pretend they don't know anything. Even in her own home, her ability is never talked about, as if it doesn't exist. It was a different take on the “ghost whisperer” genre, and a welcome one.

The story starts out a little slow,with Peri's cousin, Rae, shrieking up a storm and yelling at Chase, her flavor of the month who is also Peri's best friend. Peri lives with her grandmother, and Rae lives in a travel trailer parked on grandma's property. When Peri hears the shouting she flies out to the trailer to shush them before her grandmother is woken up, and in exchange for Rae shutting up Peri agrees to owe her an unspecified favor. It was all a little melodramatic, and the favor for silence a little silly.

But Rae cashes in that favor pretty quickly when Peri walks into her trailer later and finds her cousin's been murdered. And then Rae's ghost appears, and Peri realizes that Rae wants and expects her to find the killer.

From there the story picks up nicely. Dean Turgeau is introduced, Gaslight City's newest deputy, and he and Peri clash from the beginning, especially since Chase is suspect number one and Dean is determined to prove it, while Peri is determined to defend her friend. Which becomes more difficult when Chase pulls a dissapearing act. Dean brought to mind (to my mind, anyway) Aiden Quinn's Detective Hallett from the movie Practical Magic.

I loved watching Peri and Dean dance around each other, and I also enjoyed Peri's interactions with her childhood friend turned nemesis Hannah. As Peri gets deeper and deeper into her investigations there were quite a few twists, and the mystery was unpredictable. I didn't figure out who the murderer was until she did.

A nicely written whodunit, which got a bit violent during the big reveal, but with a satisfying conclusion. 

01 May 2016


Synopsis from back cover: Sky, a senior in high school, meets Dean Holder, a guy with a promiscuous reputation that rivals her own. From their very first encounter, he terrifies and captivates her. Something about him sparks memories of her deeply troubled past, a time she's tried so hard to bury. Though Sky is determined to stay far away from him, his unwavering pursuit and enigmatic smile break down her defenses and the intensity of the bond between them grows. But the mysterious Holder has been keeping secrets of his own, and once they are revealed, Sky is changed forever and her ability to trust may be a casualty of the truth.

Only by courageously facing the stark revelations can Sky and Holder hope to heal their emotional scars and find a way to live and love without boundaries.

Stats for my copy: Trade paperback, Atria Books, 2013.

How acquired: Loaned to me by my daughter.

First line: I stand up and look down at the bed, holding my breath in fear of the sounds that are escalating from deep within my throat.

My thoughts: I see references to Colleen Hoover and her books constantly, on blogs, and on Instagram, where it seems the majority of the book-related accounts belong to teenagers and twenty-somethings. So much hype about this author and her books. I've gotten away from the YA genre in the last few years, so I didn't really have any interest in reading her.

My daughter, who will be twenty-three in a couple of weeks, loved books as a child, but once past elementary school she didn't spend much time reading. In fact, she hardly read at all, other than at work (a daycare) during nap time, and then she mostly read Joyce Meyer or similar, or self-help books related to relationships and nutrition and healthy eating. But one of her co-workers convinced her to try a Colleen Hoover book, and suddenly she's reading like crazy, wanting more Hoover books, and then she read Nicholas Sparks and wanted more of his books, and then she just wanted me to find anything similar that I thought she might also like. So I am forever grateful to Ms. Hoover for helping my daughter rediscover her love of books and reading. And when my daughter texted me and said I should read this Colleen Hover book she just finished and would I want to borrow it, I said yes, because I owe it to Ms. Hoover to give her books a chance.

So, I read HOPELESS. It took me awhile to get through the first half. Partly because of work and life and being so tired at night that I sometimes could only read for ten or fifteen minutes before I had to go to sleep. Partly because it just did not quite captivate me the way it did my daughter and all those other Hoover fan girls out there. To begin with, I'm not a big fan of present tense narration, so that put me off just a little, but I got to used to it fairly quickly and it didn't bother me too much in the long run. I just found the story kind of blah in the beginning. Sky tells us early on that Karen, her mother, adopted her when she was three. And yet all throughout the book she always refers to her mother by her name. When speaking to her mother she calls her mom, but when telling us about her mother she calls her Karen. I just didn't like the connotation that gave, as if since Karen is not her biological mother she's not entitled to be referred to a her mother. Even though she is.

And then there's just all the angst of being the new girl in school. Of having the reputation of being the loose girl in school who sleeps with everybody even though she's not actually had sex with anybody. Of the one person becoming her friend being the weird gay kid. And then of meeting Holder, who is a little disturbing with his violent outbursts.

And then the big secret comes out, and from that point on I was suddenly reading faster and was much more invested and it was intense and at times a little nerve-wracking, and I can't really say much more about it without giving away too much plot, but the ending was fantastic and I even cried a little bit. So while I don't necessarily want to run out and buy every Colleen Hoover book I can find, I understand why she's so popular and beloved, and she deserves to be.