Review: Scorched by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Scorched by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Series: Frigid #2
Genres: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Release Date: June 16, 2015 by Spencer Hill Press
Format: Trade Paperback
Source: Purchased
Find it here: GoodReads | Amazon 















Jennifer Armentrout has kicked it up a notch with Scorched. This is new adult at its best, with depth and heart.

Readers who enjoyed Frigid will remember Andrea, Sydney's best gal pal, and Tanner, best friend to Kyler. The two have long had a relationship built on bickering, snarky comments, and put-downs. But things are changing and they're seeing each other in a new light.

Andrea first noticed Tanner in freshman year and has harbored feelings for him ever since. But he's a major player and doesn't do relationships. Add to that the fact that they can't be in the same room without throwing barbs, and obviously there's no future there. Andrea is smart and funny and can be the life of the party, but inside she is struggling. Plagued by feelings of doubt and uncertainty, too often she finds that having a drink (or five) is the best way to quiet her thoughts and just forget. Concerned friends are just making a big deal over nothing. They drink too, so what's the problem?


It was impossible not to fall for Tanner. He was charming and funny and cocky and as the story progressed I saw a softer side to him that was positively swoon worthy. Early on, when he showed up at Andre's apartment to check on her and to make an apology face to face, he showed that he was a stand-up guy. I'm a sucker for dual POV and I loved getting in Tanner's head. His thoughts and feelings about Andrea, especially when he was appreciating her curvy figure, added so much. I loved both his persistence and his patience. Over and over again he proved himself to be the kind of guy who knew what he wanted and was willing to work for it and, when needed, wait for it.

I really enjoyed the way Andrea and Tanner's relationship progressed. It felt completely realistic. Both were hesitant to start anything - and rightfully so. Andrea was well aware of Tanner's player status. And Tanner was attracted to Andy and feeling like there could be more, but he was perplexed by her hot and cold demeanor. Watching as these two navigated this new relationship was so satisfying. Tanner was more willing to put his heart on the line but Andrea was dealing with so much more than her feelings for Tanner. She opened up to him, and she shut him out. She allowed herself to hope, and she was convinced she was not worthy of a relationship.

"Usually the people who smile the most and 
laugh the loudest are the ones who suffer the most."

Scorched tackles some serious topics without being heavy-handed. There's Armentrout's signature banter and humor but here it is balanced with the sobering tale of a young woman struggling with issues that even she cannot understand. Andrea is a character worthy of admiration as she shows a strength and resolve to make changes in her life.


Fans of Armentrout will love her latest release and be fully invested in Angela and Tanner's story. Readers who have been wary of new adult can pick up Scorched with confidence. Highly recommended.

(Note: The nod to Armentrout's Lux series in the first chapter was priceless!)



Top of the TBR: What I'm Most Excited to Read

Confession time. I have a habit of *not* reading the books I'm most excited to read. It's okay to look confused... I know it makes no sense. If I had to come up with a reason it would go something like this: I buy a book that I am super excited about. We're talking full-on grabby hands. One of those that you just somehow know you're going to love. I place it lovingly on the bookshelf. I admire it. I get happy knowing it's there. I look forward to picking it up, ogling the cover, rereading the synopsis (for the zillionth time), opening it up to that first page, getting drawn into the story, falling in love with the characters, getting all mushy/swoony/teary, and being happy and/or destroyed by the inevitable ending. This is all good stuff. But then it's all over. Finito. But in between that 'putting it on the bookshelf/admiring it' stage and the 'actually reading it' stage there is that delicious in-between stage of ANTICI... PATION. (*high five* if you get the movie reference. You are my people.) I truly enjoy the anticipation of knowing a book is *right there.* Ready and waiting. There is an awesome story with All The Feels at my fingertips. I can pick it up at any time... but I don't. Because I enjoy the anticipation too much. 

The downside of this special brand of crazy? I find myself reading books that I'm less than excited about. Books that may be good, may be enjoyable, but I'm not getting wowed. I finally had an epiphany of the what-are-you-waiting-for variety and I immediately came up with my Top of the TBR list. (Any excuse for a list, am I right?) I went through every physical book on my bookshelf and every book on my Kindle and came up with a list of books that has me happy, shiny, and doing jazz hands every time I look at it. (Okay, not really. That would just be weird.) But I am super excited to FINALLY be reading these books - many of which have languished forlornly on my bookshelf for a looong time. I'm ready to show 'em some love. Have you read any of the books on my list? I'm not reading them in order, so are there any that I need to move to the top of the list like yesterday? Let me know! 

So do you ever put off reading a book you're excited about? Or do you inhale those books as soon as they're in your greedy little hands? Do you have any bookish quirks you want to share? Come on, I shared mine. Tell me in the comments. :)



Review: Frigid by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Frigid by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Series: Frigid #1
Genres: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Release date: July 15, 2013 by Spencer Hill Contemporary
Format: Trade Paperback
Source: Purchased
Find it here: GoodReads | Amazon









Mix one JLA clumsy/insecure girl with one JLA smokin' hot/man-whore guy, add a snowpocalypse that traps them together, and you have a sweet/sexy romance that is as delicious as hot chocolate on a cold day.

Sydney and Kyler have been inseparable since childhood. Sydney has also been in love with Kyler for years and has stood by and watched as he worked his way through an endless stream of girls. Kyler has been in love with Sydney for ages. But he's put her on a pedestal and considers her out of reach.


"I was Kyler's best friend. And because of that, 
he would never love me the way I loved him." - Sydney

"Sydney was perfect. She was untouchable. 
She was everything to me." - Kyler

Frigid didn't have the most original plot or the most original characters. Sydney was a petite dark haired beauty who was gun-shy and insecure after a hurtful comment from a previous boyfriend. Kyler was gorgeous and the object of every girl's affection lust but due to his humble start in life didn't consider himself worthy of Sydney. Then there were several tried and true plot devices: friends secretly in love with one another but neither comes forward to say anything, trapped together alone, a not-so-mysterious baddie (did *anyone* not know who was behind the misdeeds?), a big misunderstanding, and the inevitable come-together. Pretty typical/predictable fare, but that's not always a bad thing. Sometimes you just want an easy, swoony read where there are few surprises and you know the happily-ever-after is coming. Nothing wrong with that, and that's exactly what you get here.

Even though Sydney and Kyler had their share of cliches, I still really enjoyed them as characters. I found Sydney's insecurity understandable and relatable and I loved how that one aspect did not turn her into a shrinking violet. She was still sassy and sweet and gave Kyler plenty of grief. Kyler wasn't necessarily enjoying his lifestyle and saw it for how empty it was. I loved how he looked out for Sydney even when they were just friends. Seeing their HEA come together really put a smile on my face.

Frigid is a fun friends-to-lovers romance filled with funny/snarky banter (which JLA is so good at), unrequited love, and good dose of sexytimes. Fans of Armentrout will love this one.



Review: In Her Wake (Ten Tiny Breaths #0.5)


Find it here: GoodReads | Amazon


I destroyed her life and then got caught in her wake.
And I realize now that it’s exactly where I’m meant to be.

Oh Trent, you've destroyed my heart.

Having read Ten Tiny Breaths last year, I was excited to read this novella from Trent's point of view. One night, one decision, six people dead and his life forever changed. In the aftermath of a horrific accident, Trent is struggling under the crushing weight of grief and guilt. Despite the efforts of family and friends who want him to somehow 'move on', Trent feels he doesn't deserve it. The only thing giving him a sense of purpose? His desire to ensure that Kacey Cleary, the only other survivor of the accident, is made whole again.

In Her Wake was a emotional read and K.A. Tucker did a fantastic job of conveying Trent's feelings of grief and despair. He was in a position that no one should ever be in: weighted down by grief, suffering the loss of his friends, but also dealing with the larger-than-life guilt over his role in the tragedy. It made my heart hurt to watch as Trent went from outgoing all-American college student/football player with a bright future to a shell of who he used to be. And the ripple effect... the impact was felt by so many people in so many ways. Trent's girlfriend, his parents, Kacey and Livie. So many lives changed by the events of one night.

Getting Trent's POV and a better understanding of his actions and motivation makes me want to go back and read Ten Tiny Breaths again. It brought so much more to the story. I liked the scenes he had with Kacey that weren't known/mentioned in TTB. He tried so hard to keep her safe, to make things right.

One of my favorite things was the authenticity of Tucker's writing. Getting a male POV right (from a female author) can be tricky but Trent's voice here was so spot on. It was completely believable and I never doubted that I was reading from a 20-something male perspective. It made the whole reading experience so much better to have that believability factor.

In Her Wake is an excellent addition to TTB and I'm so glad I read it and learned even more about Trent. I will say that calling this #0.5 in the series is truly misleading as it contains major spoilers for Ten Tiny Breaths (#1). This should be considered #1.5 and I definitely recommend reading TTB *before* picking up In Her Wake.


Beautiful Blogger Award

I was nominated for the BEAUTIFUL BLOGGERS AWARD by the lovely Ashley at Bookish Realm Reviews. Thanks Ashley! 

From what I can tell, the Beautiful Bloggers Award is a tag where you tell people a little about yourself and then share the blogger love. Unfortunately I don't know the original creator of the tag so I can't give credit where it's due. 

RULES:


1. Link to the blogger who took the time to nominate you.
2. List 7 random things about yourself.
3. Nominate 7 creative, beautiful bloggers.
4. Notify the amazing people you nominated for the award.

MY RANDOM FACTS:


1. I'm a major list-maker and will invent reasons to make a new list.
2. I love to travel. Favorite trip/city to date: London.
3. I am a hopeless optimist.
4. I read magazines back to front. Don't ask why... I have no idea. :)
5. My fear of lizards is almost pathological. Naturally they're everywhere in Florida.
6. I don't drink coffee and can't stand the smell. 
7. I never leave home without a book. Ever.

MY NOMINATIONS:

I enjoy all these bookish blogs and highly recommend checking them out.

Crystal @ Infinite Ink
Ashley @ Wholly Books

- TANYA


Review: Hopeless by Colleen Hoover



Find it here: GoodReads | Amazon

Welcome to the world of Colleen Hoover. And hold on to your heart. It's about to be broken, in the most beautiful way possible. You'll laugh and you'll cry (if you don't please pause now to check that you actually have a heart) and you'll hurt for these characters who feel oh-so-real in all their damaged glory.

At 17, Sky lives a fairly uneventful, sheltered life with her adoptive single mom - home schooled, no TV, no cell phone, no Internet. Her best friend friend is leaving to study abroad and Sky is about to enter public school for the first time. 


A chance encounter brings Dean Holder into Sky's life and all of a sudden life isn't so uneventful. There is an instant connection that Sky has never felt before. Holder has good looks and charm but he's also angry and mysterious and there are rumors aplenty about him at school. Against her better judgment, Sky falls fast and hard for Holder and they embark on a slow-burn romance that might burn slowly but still burns hot.

I'm not thinking about anything else right now 
but how much I love this boy and how much 
he loves me and how despite what's going on in 
my life, I wouldn't want to be anywhere else 
than in this moment with him.


But Sky and Holder's story is just beginning. As secrets are revealed and memories are reclaimed, the past comes back full force and must be reckoned with before there is any chance of a future.


And once again in my new world full of 
heartache and lies, this hopeless boy 
somehow finds a way to make me smile.

As with all Colleen Hoover's books, Hopeless is so much more than meets the eye. More than the synopsis. More than you might imagine even when you're halfway through it and think you know where the story is going. Hopeless deals with darker subject matter than some of Hoover's other novels and watching as Sky slowly pieces together her past, with Holder by her side, was often difficult to witness. But it was also amazing to experience such a strong, funny, sarcastic, straightforward and resilient character. Because Sky truly was amazing. I loved that giving up was never an option. She pushed herself forward even when doing so meant opening herself up to painful circumstances. And despite her apprehension about opening herself up fully to Holder, she loved completely.


And then there's Holder. He had *so* many qualities that I love in a male protagonist. He was so perfectly flawed and it was obvious there was much more going on with him. Holder was so utterly selfless. He was so concerned with others and their struggles and was so quick to shoulder blame even when it was not warranted. He was dealing with guilt and regret and it made my heart hurt for him. A young character showing great maturity and shouldering responsibility is a quality that gets me every time. And that was Dean Holder. I loved how he was so present for Sky. He was there for her in a way that was beyond his years and that made me love him even more. He was protective and in love and had no problem being open with Sky when it came to his feelings for her. 

"Let me inform you of something," he says in a low voice. 
"The moment my lips touch yours, it will be your first kiss. 
Because if you've never felt anything when someone's 
kissed you, then no one's ever really kissed you. 
Not the way I plan on kissing you."


Colleen Hoover's characters never fail to impress. No matter what tragedy they face, they always strive to overcome it together. These aren't people who fall apart and desert one another in times of trouble. Instead you have a couple who pulls together, leans on one another, is strong for each other and truly wants the very best for each other. It's impossible not to love characters like that and feel for them and and hurt for them and hope and wish for better things to come their way. 


"I've been looking for you my whole damn life."

And then there are all the perfect little Colleen Hoover touches that make every book she writes so exquisite. My favorites from Hopeless: Holder's ego-deflating texts to Sky, Breckin, that moment when I understood the full meaning behind Holder's tattoo, the quotes from The Jerk, Sky's baking binges for her sweet tooth, the Dinner Quest game. Every little element only served to make Hopeless a richer experience.


Hopeless is a beautifully written story of survival and forgiveness and hope. It is powerful. It is truly memorable. And it is yet another treasure from Colleen Hoover.


Review: Kaleidoscope Hearts by Claire Contreras


Find it here: GoodReads | Amazon


I went into Kaleidoscope Hearts with huge expectations. I'm not even sure why. But for some reason, between the cover (gorgeous) and the synopsis (so, so good) and the reviews (gushing), I had it in my mind that it was going to be one of those books that just blew me away and I would totally love it. I realize it's not fair to go into any book with those kind of expectations. That's not allowing the book to stand on its own and be judged for what it is. Instead I'm now trying not to judge it against what I expected/wanted it to be.

Kaleidoscope Hearts is the story of Estelle (Elle) and Oliver. Oliver is best friends with Elle's older brother, Vic, and has been a part of Elle's life since childhood. As they mature there are mutual feelings of attraction but both consider a relationship impossible, mainly because Elle is "Vic's little sister" and therefore off-limits. Several encounters over the years meant they both maintained that connection despite moving in separate ways. Now Oliver is back in Elle's life and she is conflicted by her feelings for him. Does she accept that any chance they had has passed and the timing was never right, or does she take yet another chance on the man she never forgot?

"It's a heart. They always break at some point. 
Sooner or later someone will come along 
and shatter it anyway - might as well be you."

Elle and Oliver both had qualities that I liked but I also found them both to be plenty frustrating at times. Particularly Elle. Despite the fact that it had been years since they first connected (9 years, I think?), Elle continued to judge Oliver by the person he was then. It was as if he was unable to be all that she wanted when he was a young man of only 19-20 and she continued to hold that against him even now, when he is a 28 year old man. As if it were unthinkable that he could possibly have changed at all. She was certainly in a different place in her life at that point, but I felt she continued to judge Oliver so harshly. There was also a maturity (or, rather, immaturity) issue with Elle. This was a woman in her early/mid 20's but some of her actions smacked of a teenager. She would do/say things specifically to make Oliver jealous... and then be surprised or angry when he got jealous. It just smacked of high school antics/drama and gave their relationship a one-step-forward-two-steps-back feel. Lastly, Elle was possibly the most obtuse character ever when it came to Oliver's feelings for her. Here was a man who was actively pursuing her, was plainly interested, was crazy about her and wasn't quiet about it, but Elle always seemed confused about his feelings for her. I understand that some of that could be because of their history together, but come on... this guy was knocking himself out to spend time with her and make her happy, begging her for "just one date." Does he need to hire a skywriter? I often felt like Elle ran hot and cold with Oliver and it was frustrating at times.

As for Oliver, my only real issue was his continual feelings of not being good enough for Elle. Lines like 'that made me want to be a better man for her, even though I knew I couldn't' or 'she looked at me like I was somebody, even though I knew I wasn't' left me a little confused. I didn't feel it was adequately explainedwhy Oliver felt that way. Besides that, it was impossible not to fall for such a charmer. :)

"We live in a galaxy of our own. 
Where the storms pass, and the light fades, 
and everything ceases to exist except for us."

With all that being said, I don't mean it to sound like I didn't like Kaleidoscope Hearts. I really did enjoy this story and was definitely pulling for Oliver and Elle. I think it would have been easy for Contreras to make Elle bitter and cynical after what she experienced (no spoilers) but she never resorted to that. Elle's grief and feelings of acceptance and moving forward rang completely true and never felt false or rushed. I loved the ease that was between Oliver and Elle (when she wasn't doubting his feelings for her). They were friends and so much more. With shared childhood memories, they were able to tease and bicker like the friends they were, but there was also amazing chemistry. I also loved how open they could be with one another, especially when they had their dates where they asked each other question after question. There shared things with each other that they shared with no one else. I loved seeing them connect like that.

Kaleidoscope Hearts was a sweet/sexy second-chance romance. I will definitely read more by Contreras because her writing is beautiful. And when I do, I will go into it with reasonable expectations. :)

Every second counts. Live in this moment. 
This is life. This is what matters.



Review: The Story of Us by Dani Atkins


Find it here: GoodReads | Amazon
Release date: June 9, 2015

The Story of Us is so much more than meets the eye. I was expecting a pleasant contemporary romance but what I got was an emotional tale that touches on themes of grief, infidelity, love, friendship, family, and so much more.

Emma is days away from marrying childhood sweetheart Richard but the night of her bachelorette party takes a tragic turn when an auto accident ends with a horrific loss. Thankfully, Emma was pulled from the wreckage by Jack, who happened upon the scene of the accident, and quite literally saved her life. The impact of the accident is far-reaching as truths are revealed even as Emma is struggling to deal with her grief.

The aftermath of that night includes the postponement of Emma’s wedding to Richard. As Emma struggles to adjust to life after the accident, she finds herself drawn to Jack and feeling a connection to him that has her questioning her feelings for her fiancĂ©. Is it gratitude she feels toward Jack for saving her life… or something more?

Dani Atkins is a remarkable storyteller and I was captivated from the very beginning. What I loved most about The Story of Us is how completely realistic it felt. It wasn’t angsty or melodramatic but instead felt totally plausible. Emma was faced with situations where there were no easy answers. Atkins never took the easy way out by creating heroes and villains. Characters were imbued with human flaws and weaknesses but also love and compassion and kindness. There were times I truly wanted to dislike certain characters and it’s a credit to Dani’s writing that I was often conflicted and felt empathy for those same characters.

The few flash-forward sections interspersed throughout the book were so cleverly done. Kudos to Atkins for those just-vague-enough snippets which kept me guessing and ultimately led to a conclusion that had me shedding tears.

My only quibble: I would loved to have seen the aftermath of Emma’s decision and been able to enjoy more of the couples’ life together beyond the journey of them coming together. But this in no way detracted from my reading experience. The story was realistic and heartbreaking and heartwarming and I loved it.

The Story of Us is top-notch contemporary romance/women’s fiction with substance and I highly recommend it.

*Note: ARC kindly provided by NetGalley and RandomHouse/Ballantine books in exchange for an honest review.




Top 5 Wednesday: Favorite Books of the Year So Far


Top 5 Wednesday was created by Lainey at GingerReadsLainey.
Click HERE for a complete list of participants.


FAVORITE BOOKS OF THE YEAR (SO FAR)

Surprisingly, it was pretty easy for me to pick my Top 5 this week because there have been some obvious stand-outs for me so far this year.


#5 - Leo by Mia Sheridan (Read in January 2015)

I took a chance on an unknown (to me) author and ended up striking pure gold. Loved this story so much and found an author that I'll read again and again.

#4 - Thrive by Krista and Becca Ritchie (Read in April 2015)

An unforgettable installment in the Addicted series, this one again focusing on Lily and Lo. They struggle so much and have such an emotional journey.

***These next three are all so good that any one 
of them could easily be at the #1 spot.***

#3 - Confess by Colleen Hoover (Read in May 2015)

I just read this one last week so it's still so fresh in my mind. This one was so unique and I was just captivated by Auburn and Owen's story and how their lives intertwined.

#2 - The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah (Read in February 2015)

Kristin Hannah is one of those authors that writes stories with such depth about real people facing adversity or dealing with situations that are life-altering. The Nightingale, based in WWII Nazi-occupied France, was utterly heart-breaking and truly unforgettable.

#1 - Slammed by Colleen Hoover (Read in April 2015)

Is anyone surprised to see two Colleen Hoover books on this list? I think not. Slammed is Colleen's first novel but for some reason I only just read it a couple months ago. And I was blown away. The story of Lake and Will was just perfection: filled with laughter and heartache and surprises and twists of fate and love. And Will Cooper is simply one of my favorite fictional characters ever.

So what are your favorite books that you've read so far this year? 
Let me know in the comments below so I can enjoy them, too! :)