Top 13 Books for 2013 (via The Book Lovers)

Sunday, December 29, 2013

This was my Guest Post at The Book Lovers:

Top 13 Books for 2013

Without a doubt,
I must read,
all the books
I’ve read about.

See the artworks
hung on hooks,
that I have only,
seen in books.
-          Love & Misadventure, Lang Leav

This was absolutely the toughest thing one could ask me. Honestly, this was torture, Babycakes!
I’ve weighed this books on how much I could think about it immediately and how it created an impact to me, sweet! Here you go:

1.      Making Faces – Amy Harmon

HANDS DOWN! Whenever someone asks me what is my favorite read for 2013, it has become a knee-jerk reaction to say: Making Faces. This book was the total grandslam for me – I shed every ugly cry I could have managed. The story was so captivating, the plot was well-thought and honestly, the characters were so real and inspiring. Every emotions and feelings were ineffable and most definitely the book that MUST be read!

2.      Falling: Falling Into You / Falling Into Us – Jasinda Wilder
add-to-goodreads-button3  add-to-goodreads-button3   

To this I’m torn. I loved these two books. SUPER! Both were so heartfelt but really dealt on the acceptance and of romance. Falling Into You was about forgiving one’s self and being able to love again. Then in Falling Into Us, it dealt on family problems – strict parents and broken family but then it also portrayed the romantic ‘one true love’. So really, I could not just pick one, they were both a different side of moving on, independence and of course, love.

3.      The Edge of Always – J.A. Redmerski

The Edge of Never was my BEST READ for 2012 and the book wherein I met Zoe (Hi Babycakes!). One thing that enticed me about this book? Roadtrip. I am a sucker for those types of stories and would meet the love of your life alongside of it. The discovery of places without worrying what your destination would be. Those were not lost at The Edge of Always, now, Andrew and Cam were very much together and they would encounter several bumps along the way. It still managed to capture what it had at the previous book and made me seat back, relax and just travel.

4.      One to Hold – Tia Louise

BRILLIANT. That was the first thing that popped my head. I was consumed by this book and I read it at one-sitting. It was short yet it was jammed-pack with details and its story. I loved the protagonist, Melissa, as she fought what was her right, the depiction of vulnerability and of strength that was awesome. But that aside, the romance aspect was just steamy and the sexual tension was so powerful, it was about to combust right there and then. And the writing, it was crisp, clear and real – it was written to be felt.

5.      Tangled – Emma Chase

What can I say about this one? The POV won me and I was able to delve into the wicked mind of a man. Then the humor was totally there. I had my fair share of laughter, swear words and of course, the jerk-ness of a guy who needed to feel superior, strong and non-caring. It was a story about a guy who fell in love and he just did not know what to do. This was such a breath of fresh air and for ladies who wanted to read what was in a guy’s mind.

6.      Cinderella Screwed Me Over – Cindi Madsen

I just love this story! It had humor and detailed story about it. What literally won me over: The Case Studies. Oh don’t get me wrong these case studies were about Darby’s exes whom she compared with the Princes on the fairytales we grew up with. She had two-thumbs up proofs! But then she met this one guy whom she almost lost because she kept on finding a fault about him that she was not able to see the real him. It was a fun read and for those hopeless romantic; or for anyone looking for an enjoyable read.

7.      The Blackstone Affair: Eyes Wide Open – Raine Miller

ETHAN BLACKSTONE. Would that be enough? It should be. He was like this ultimate megalomaniac ever but at Eyes Wide Open, I saw the real Ethan and how he was under Brynne’s spell. That was why I could not wait for their baby (2014. 2014. 2014. Last book)! Refer back to the quote I used, it made me feel that here. Brynne was like this art – precious and treasured. I was completely fixated with the drama, bad guys and all intense romance. And art also have its special place in me, the feeling to appreciate it even with the perplexing thought of what the piece of art was.

8.      The Bad Boys Series: Everything for Us – M. Leighton

CASH AND NASH. Oh my heart, I love Cash. And Nash. Both. Okay, Cash. Okay, first things first: they were twins. In the first book we knew there were two but during the whole Book it was only one person; in the second, the twin showed up. I love Cash, he was this perfect man – flexible, powerful, intelligent and strategic. I loved a Lawyer in a book (I am bias with my background). But I should not be side-tracked. The last book, about Nash (yes, I loved Cash but Nash has some things on his sleeve) was just like a constant bomb-dropping moment. Marissa was a great lawyer but it was just not how she was. She did that to prove herself to her father, please him and all that. But with Nash, she was able to let go and their happily-ever after was the perfect conclusion to the series. With the fire of their passion and love never wavering from the very start ‘til the end.

9.      Breathe Series: Breathless – Rachel Brookes

I love Rachel’s writing style – detailed and entrancing. That was why I loved Breathless more; it showed Tate’s character without it being less of a man. It showed a strong, confused yet fragile man who loves unconditionally. Actually, Unconditionally by Katy Perry kept on messing with my head whenever I remember Breathless. I loved Just Breathe, it was just that, Breathless was thoroughly focused on Tate and his emotions and I was greedy for every moment in it. I felt the character, the story; with the feeling of being dazed (in a good way, like hypnotized to read it all) while reading.

10.  Losing It Series: Finding It – Cora Carmack

I did mention I was a sucker for roadtrips, right? Well, traveling in particular. I love different destinations and in this book, I was given the chance to country-hop. As much as I loved the awkwardness at Losing It and the somehow seriousness at Faking it; Finding It showed me a book where I could totally relate. I just finished college and I do am taking a year off though I am a bum and not as productive as Kelsey in the story, I felt her as a character. Lost and waiting for that path where I could be passionate about. The whole travelling really was enthralling and the love that brewed with connection and time. Worth a read, I swear.

11.  Cancer-themed books: What’s Left of Me – Amanda Maxlyn / No Attachments – Tiffany King   

I think I am a masochist of sorts, cancer-themed novel, really? Yet these books were inspiring and luminous. Did I just write that? Luminous? Yeah, I did. It really was. Both the heroines on the books had cancer and they were seeking normalcy in their life. Even for just a bit. I loved how What’s Left of Me showed all the procedures and effects of the intakes a cancer patient feels but also depicted a true and blissful romance (constant swoon over Parker). Then at No Attachments, the bucketlist of Ash and how she had fallen for Nathan. As much as both craved for normality, the romance it had was downright real, raw and genuine (both guys did not know about the girls’s cancer).

12.  YA reads: Eleanor & Park – Rainbow Rowell / How to Love – Katie Cotugno   

Again, with the torn feeling. Both dealt on first love. Eleanor & Park was just in nostalgia side and of course, in its high school setting; though I liked how it worked on friendship and to falling in love. Then at How to Love, it was much deeper – faced with issues of teen pregnancy, family (and sort of community – since they lived in a small community) with the look of disappointment and humiliation towards you, then the father of your unborn child left – no goodbyes (or that was what she thought). How to Love also had that nostalgia but there was alternate past and present happenings but all in all it showed how a person could accept, forgive, learn to be independent but mostly, to love again. Still, both were a standalone and had the feeling of wonder: “What happens next?” without the cliffhanger.

13.  Love & Misadventure – Lang Leav

I thought it was obvious by the way I used the quote above. I did save the best for last. Sometimes I write poetry and sometimes you just don’t know what it meant because you wrote it when you were overwhelmed by an emotion of some sorts. But in this book, it was a collection of poetry one could relate; it was sort of a journey in its way and very enjoyable. Short, indirect or direct, emotions on the go.

-     Jassie

Blog Tour + Giveaway: Stripped Without You - Brooklyn Skye

Monday, December 23, 2013

Stripped Without You - Brooklyn Skye
Release date: November 30th 2013
Purchase: Amazon

STRIPPED (a novel) 
College freshman Quinn Montgomery will do anything to avoid the mistake her sister made—killing herself over a boy. But when she is forced into nude modeling at a local college to support her family after a bankruptcy, she begins to crack, just enough to let Torrin, the university’s top varsity oarsman, see that the real Quinn is not as feisty and unapproachable as she wants everyone to think. But letting someone in comes at a steep cost and, it turns out, Torrin is connected to Quinn’s family in more ways than she could ever imagine.

WITHOUT YOU (a novella)
She was broken when I met her, shattered from the death of her sister and running from love. Not to sound like an egotistical douche or anything, but I fixed her. Put her back together, filled in the cracks, and made her whole. A true fairytale in her eyes. 

But now real life is getting in the way: school, jobs, and the unexpected opportunity to travel the world under a legendary photographer. This internship will open doors not even my father’s influence could. It’s something I’ve been waiting all my life for. But so is Quinn, and accepting this internship will mean leaving her. 

And breaking her all over again.

My Thoughts:
The combined cover was just beautiful. I saw the original covers for both books before and both were beautiful. It had that sense of sadness yet it embraced something like longing (and it did). Then both the titles fitted the book and mixed together, it made sense too: Stripped Without You – like she or he would be lost without the other. The first book was a novel about Quinn, in her POV; the second, the novella, was in Torrin’s POV, but nonetheless revolved about them too.

These were two of the books I coveted so imagine my enthusiasm when I received the eARCs months ago! I had been waiting for this book since I saw the cover since it had this essence of tragedy or sadness. But fortunately, this was not as dramatic as I thought it would be. I had my fair share of reading those NA books that made me weep and cry my heart out and I told myself to take a break with those kinds for gut-wrenching emotional rollercoaster. Though Stripped had some gloomy side, I was glad that it was not that saddening. It had its moments but enough to be able to appreciate the story and the characters themselves. Then Without You was a novella that made me wanted more because it was about Torrin and Quinn’s relationship and what they would face together, as a couple.

At Stripped, it was like the literal meaning of it, being exposed. There were secrets lurking, secrets that broke the protagonist, Quinn; almost destroyed the relationship that she had built with Torrin and those which were misunderstood.

“High dive into frozen waves where the past comes back to life
Fight fear for the selfish pain, it was worth it every time
Hold still right before we crash ‘cause we both know how this ends
A clock ticks ‘til it breaks your glass and I drown in you again

‘Cause you are the piece of me I wish I didn’t need
Chasing relentlessly, still fight and I don’t know why

If our love is tragedy, why are you my remedy?
If our love’s insanity, why are you my clarity?”
-          Clarity by Zedd ft. Foxes

Stripped (verb): To take the covering or clothing from; To take off one’s clothes; To pull or tear off; To make bare or clear (as by cutting or grazing); To deprive of possessions: Plunder – taken forcefully.
These definitions described the story well. It justified the definitions as I read the story. I was enveloped with Quinn’s story. Even if there were times I wanted to shake her and stop being so confounding, I understood her. There was something more than what she was portraying. Stripped made me see a person reliving, fighting and dealing with a suicide by a loved one.

“Sometimes losing yourself is the only way to find yourself.”
Quinn, the protagonist, was a college student striving to pay her tuition with the help of her job – a nude art model. She vowed that she would never fall in love as it was the reason why her sister, Zoe died. She looked up to her sister so much that there were times that most of her decisions were for her dead sister— she was living the life that was supposed to be lived by her sister. When she decided to model at an art class for another University, she met someone, Torrin. Torrin was the head of the rowing team, a kind, charming-handsome lad and a guy who knew what to do, when to move and knew when he needed to chase someone he loved.
Was Quinn defiant enough to hold her promise to never fall in love?
Or would Torrin prove her wrong?

“Puttin’ my defenses up,
‘Cause I don’t wanna fall in love
If I ever did that
I think I’d have a heart attack.”
-          Heart Attack by Demi Lovato

The cover and title itself were both meaningful, story-wise. Then, the necklace (Stripped) was a treasure and very significant. ‘Save yourself.’ I thought of this as a double entendre; if not misunderstood: ‘Save yourself from falling in love and save yourself to not follow what I did.’ That was what Quinn instilled in her brain and the reason why her sister, Zoe, died was because Zoe fell in love. So when this happened: ‘Your necklace, it’s gone.’ I felt that Quinn was more lost that before. But it felt like it was also a sign for her to take. That maybe it was a sign about what she was holding back was to be set free. Yes, it was important because the necklace was her sisters. The sole and tangible memory of Zoe for her was lost and could never be found.

“Never break a sweat for the other guys
When you come around, I get paralyzed
And every time I try to be myself
It comes out wrong like a cry for help
The feelings are lost in my lungs
They’re burning, I’d rather be numb
Yeah, there’s no one else to blame (no one else)
So scared I take off in a run
I’m flying too close to the sun
And I burst into flames”
-          Heart Attack by Demi Lovato

This story mixed a lost heroine, a hot mysterious guy, humor, family problems and of course, romance.
Quinn was fighting against her feelings, I gave her credit because she was not used to it. She was so closed-off and the nagging feeling that she was betraying her sister because she felt she was falling in love. This spoke of how you could not avoid falling in love. It showed that you would be falling in love – take the risk and believe that there would be a person out there for you. That person who would open your eyes.  That would love you with such willingness and realness that you would not give up without trying. It showed how Quinn avoided and found herself falling upon the walls she built. I pitied Torrin because he was really trying: ‘I can’t keep trying especially if that someone doesn’t acknowledge or gives you hope.’ And when a person doesn’t believe, it would fight its way to make you believe. And that was what Torrin did and like what he said, ‘it takes some rejection before a guy gives up’. Falling and being in love were about heartaches; both bad and good – the one that would want you to give up and feel ripped into pieces; and the one that would make you feel alive. There were hindrances and secrets between Quinn and Torrin, but their connection was not forced. They dealt with Quinn’s defiance and denial about love but she was willing to try (after everything). I loved their dates: rowing and the tree house. I super love those parts as it were also glimpses about Torrin and how Quinn was trying to take a risk about love. Even if she was in denial. Another was that picture session with Quinn. Torrin entitled his photographs as ‘Imperfect’ and it was a double entendre about Quinn too.

What I loved at Stripped: the sequence was paced timely and the flow was just continuous. As a reader, I was not guessing that much, I was letting the story unfold itself. So my shock when I encountered the twist was just unexpected. As the secrets were being divulged, the twist arose. I didn’t expect that twist, never did that logic popped in my head. Quinn would be proven wrong, what she thought she knew was not what it was and she needed to hear the whole story. Then how the secrets were revealed was consistent with the story. Maybe Quinn misunderstood but anyone in her position would be jumping into conclusions and then after the anger was let out, they tried to speak up the truth – the whole and ugly truth. Another thing I appreciated what the author did was that every emotion and reaction were genuine; and I felt the characters as they were.

As far as the continuity was concerned – how it mixed the expectations and surprises, the need to point out the characters were in order: I felt the characters and everyone was a character to be praised. This story showed me that most (if not all) of the characters were brave enough. From the parents to Derek, yep even Derek. The characters grew in there on ways, they learnt how to realize things and they became truthful to themselves. Also, I needed to point out Evan. My heart broke for him, aside from Quinn and her parents, Evan lost everything. As much as he was still hurting, he tried to let go and moved on. He was moving on but he was still there for the Montgomery family because like them, he lost someone who was once his everything. And that strip of paper Quinn gave to him? That was when I really cried. Because the emotions caught up in me and every word was both a weight that was heavy and also something that I knew would lift Evan up and continued to freely move on.

Before the author released the novella, I had this opinion: “My only problem at the end was that Quinn still pursued a course that was for her sister, I would like to think she wants to pursue it because she wants it not because it was her sister’s dream.” I guess that Brooklyn (the author) could read minds, because my opinion was answered at Without You.

At Without You, it expressed the feeling of belonging to each other. Of realizing that they needed each other.

“Walk through a red parade and refuse to make amends
It cuts deep through our ground and makes us forget all common sense
Don’t speak as I try to leave ‘cause we both know what we’ll choose
If you pull then I’ll push too deep and I’ll fall right back at you

‘Cause you are the piece of me I wish I didn’t need
Chasing relentlessly, still fight and I don’t know why

If our love is tragedy, why are you my remedy?
If our love’s insanity, why are you my clarity?”
-          Clarity by Zedd ft. Foxes

It was a journal-like story of Torrin’s love for Quinn, A true depiction of how a guy ultimately loved his girl that he would have an ultimatum that he already decided what to choose:
‘Will he sacrifice his passion for his priority or will his passion surpass his priority?’
Would he regret not choosing his passion?
Or would he pick his passion and lose his priority?
The question lies, was there really an option?
Does Torrin needed to choose?
It was already known what or who was his priority but it was different because he had fallen too hard. So again, Passion or Priority? That was the question (no pun included, Hamlet). What I was looking for:
More Torrin on the rowing boat: CHECK. Though I was expecting more like a competition with another team/University?
More background about Torrin and glimpses of people from Stripped: Not Really. But it was understandable because of the limit since it was a novella.
Self-discovery. Still be together? Future plans?: CHECK. CHECK. CHECK.

For a novella, it had deepen the story after what happened in Stripped. It dealt on Torrin and Quinn’s relationship. Mainly, Torrin’s dilemma and them as a couple. They portrayed that they were still new as a couple. Torrin could think of what would be best for Quinn yet Quinn might do the opposite of it. They were still trying to figure out each other. Quinn was sort of depicted as vulnerable here but then again, she had overcome her past and she was having a new beginning with Torrin. Oh, Quinn was clingy to Torrin here (fan-girl squeals). As much as so much became different, Quinn still had her stubbornness and she was still in control of herself. (Let me rant something: I mean, who can resist Torrin? Goodness that body. Really, Quinn? He’s all yours. I’m so shocked you can still keep your hands off most of the time! I totally feel you! Haha!) Nonetheless, it was a story about a couple, though I loved reading their relationship as their interactions were so normal and free, it also showed what couples encountered in their relationship. Also, it was a story about reaching your dreams, choosing and knowing what would be the best for yourself (and for your loved one).

“Ooh, ooh, ooh, the reason I hold on
Ooh, ooh, ohh, ‘cause I need this hole gone
Funny you’re the broken one but I’m the only one who needed saving
‘Cause when you never see the light it’s hard to know which one of us is caving

Not really sure how to feel about it
Something in the way you move
Makes me feel like I can’t live without you
It takes me all the way
I want you to stay, stay
I want you to stay, oh”
-          Stay by Rihanna

It felt like I was in a pensieve or when Tom Riddle’s diary sucked Harry Potter. I was just followed what was happening and that was what I felt while I was reading it. The time sequencing was something I liked about this novella. The prologue was “What? Why?” then it became clearer. Torrin recounted his memories for us (more like journal entries). The story was about Torrin and had started his story about dilemma and keeping it a secret towards Quinn. Torrin had his alpha-male shown here: a “manly-way” of being a gentleman and a guy in love. He was this ‘I’m a guy and I’ll punch lockers because I love you and I want you to tell me to stay.’ He just loved Quinn so much that he would throw anything for her. But of course, what did Quinn felt? A burden. Because she felt she was holding Torrin back but for Torrin’s case it was not. Torrin was overly-protecting Quinn that it seemed he lacked trust on her but the truth? Quinn was still learning on how to learn herself but she was trying and it was normal for her to feel what she felt. It was just that Torrin thought he knew Quinn so much that he already jumped into conclusions. Both were afraid: Torrin, to leave Quinn in the early parts of their relationship; and Quinn, for being a baggage for Torrin. Yet Torrin knew what Quinn would do. And the thing was Quinn would always be Torrin’s priority. There was no denying that.

I bet a reader would wish to have a boyfriend like Torrin, the love he has for Quinn. But other than that? Torrin knew his charms. And boy did he flash those charms. Teaser Torrin. What was it with Torrin and the T’s? Torrin and the Tequila Shots and Torrin that would leave your Throat dry or would let you max that Thermostat. He was broodingly handsome. Let me get back to that body shot. Imagine that scene with a voice sounding deep and husky. Breathless. Plus, whenever he mentioned “Babe”? My heart skips a beat. Was it possible that I imagined how he uttered that single syllable with a distinct voice?

The story also focused on Torrin’s passion, Photography. As a reader, I felt how he knew about his camera. He knew what the angles, lighting and these distances for a perfect picture. I knew that it was something he was passionate about and how real and buoyant he was when he was with his camera. And Quinn saw that too and as the story progressed, she learnt what she wanted to do too, and I was so proud of her! It was what she was also passionate about and Torrin would be with her all the time.

Even though I wanted to know more Torrin, this novella made me love Torrin more. At Stripped, I already loved how he was. But in here, he showed who he was. I always said to my friends: a guy who could cry in front of a woman he loved was a man who was truly, madly, deeply (sings the Savage Garden song) in love with that woman. That was why I loved Torrin more. He did just that and I felt his sincerity and his overwhelming love for Quinn. How passionate he was of his dreams and of his loyalty and love for his girl… and of course, how they were both growing, together. They respected each other’s decision and they supported themselves as a couple. That was why I envy their relationship. It was wonderful. How they took turns on knowing the bounds. Lingering. Figuring out. The way they get out of control then they would let the problem and anger subdue then apologize and made it work? They were already open to each other; it was just that, there was a hindrance – Torrin’s dilemma. When that was sorted Torrin and Quinn became sweeter (not on the sappy side). They had this new communication and they knew that there was no need to conclude for one because they could ask anytime. I loved how they were proud at each other’s desires and achievements. But most of all, what I loved about this couple? Their relationship and the utterance of “we” as they made their decision, “together”.

In the end, there was really never a question. The couple was able to fix their misunderstandings and strengthen their relationship. They needed both to understand each stance. It would always be the same for Torrin because his passion was also one of his priorities and the priority was the continuation of his passion – the sources and the things that kept him going.

Overall, as imperfect as the story, it managed to make me fall in love… I fell in love, not only with the characters and the story but at everything –  the lack and the excess, the focus and the distance. As much as ‘Stripped’ focused on Quinn, her independence and her brewing relationship with Torrin, it also focused on fixing family ties. The value of honesty, love, letting go, moving on and of forgiveness were there. Quinn as a character progressed and learned a lot. In ’Without You’, Quinn was still learning and growing with Torrin. Yes, she was still sort of independent but she knew that she also controlled her life and moved on at what happened to her sister. ‘Without You’ focused on Quinn and Torrin themselves, how Torrin described Quinn on his point-of-view what a headache but lovable person Quinn was; how she was trying to fix her life and so on. Also, it showed what people in a relationship was – the arguments, happiness and togetherness.

Brooklyn Skye amazed me on how familiar yet unique her stories were. From Stripped to Without You, I was still in her spell as she knew how to write a heartfelt story, from how we could find love (Stripped) to how we could fall deeper into love (Without You).

Overall rating: 4.75 – 5 out of 5.

My “STRIPPED Without You” Playlist:
Heart Attack – Demi Lovato
Secrets – One Republic
Please Don’t Say You Love Me – Gabrielle Aplin
Tonight I’m Getting Over You – Carly Rae Jepsen
If This Isn’t Love – Jennifer Hudson
Learn to Love Again – Lawson
Red Sky – Lawson
Clarity – Zedd
Stranded – Jennifer Paige
Stay – Rihanna

***I personally dubbed as official soundtrack: ‘Heart Attack’ for Stripped, ‘Stay’ for Without You, and ‘Clarity’ for Stripped Without You. These songs were so fitting and when I watch or hear it, the book just pops in my head.

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Author Bio:
Brooklyn Skye grew up in a small town where she quickly realized writing was an escape from small town life. Really, she’s just your average awkward girl who’s obsessed with words. Stripped is her debut novel.

Author Links:
Website     |     Twitter    
Goodreads     |     Facebook

-     Jassie

Blog Tour + Giveaway: Forged by Fate - Reese Monroe

Friday, December 20, 2013

Forged by Fate - Reese Monroe
He’s waited more than 900 years to love her…

Being the Gatekeeper to Hades is no small feat, and waiting almost a millennia to meet your mate is damn near impossible. But Theo Bradford’s mark has finally surfaced on his intended. Now all he has to do is find her and convince her to embrace her supernatural heritage.

Young genius, Sadie Nowland, has got life figured out. Graduating college at the age of eighteen and accepting a six-figure job is just what she needs to prove she’s made something of herself. But when a strange tattoo mysteriously appears on her shoulder and Theo starts talking about Mates, it catapults her neatly laid out life into chaos.

Somehow a vicious demon banished to Hades defies Theo’s vanquish and returns, setting his target on Sadie, and she is thrust into the volatile world of Shomrei warriors and a connection to Theo her brain can’t comprehend and her body can’t deny. That primal bond proves more imperative to their survival than either could have ever imagined—and just may be the key to the world’s survival.

My Thoughts:
I had been stuck on reading New Adult nowadays – those on the sides of real life: bad boy types or awkward ladies, typical, right? I was seeking for more “oomph” and I missed reading paranormal stuffs then lucky, Ink Slinger PR had this and boy this I grabbed at the opportunity! This story was awesome, enticing and paranormal in the NA genre just amped up things up!

The first thing that popped in my mind was that: Hercules met Constantine. I could not thing of a girl version though; oh, how about Lara Croft? She was badass. That would suit them, the hero and the heroine of this story: Theo was the Gatekeeper of Hades and was destined to meet his Ahavah, his mate. He was very determined, patient, understanding but his loving side was the most dominant. He was all sorts of powerful but his weakness comes with his destined. To which led us to, Sadie – the one badass chick. She was a tough heroine, to be able to stand everything as what or who she was crashed her like a strong waves, held herself together to face the evil yet learnt and appreciated what was to be her destiny (with her mate) that was the resilience that was awe-inspiring. She learnt how to be open to the possibilities and accepted things but kept in mind that she held control and was given her free will. As they were intended to mate – it would be a bond so powerful: Each other was one’s weakness and strength, together unbeatable. The thing was, there was so much about the characters – more on Sadie’s side as she was beyond what she thought she was. Aside from being Theo’s mate there would be more in store about her. They were both chosen and they would remain together, for eternity.

I loved the normalness of Sadie, her kickass side, genius and more than human abilities. And for Theo that was able to hold on to his tasks and responsibilities. The normality in the story was little by little wavering off. The way the normalness took off was natural as the things were delving to the darkness and the prophecy. Not really prophecy but it was destined. There was still God who was resilient and all command yet gentle and conversing. It helped them aid what was needed to be done. It was all planned, as the creatures were given to obey, they were also given the freewill. Some had obeyed Him yet some had swerved their path. In latter was Aggie, that powerful demon that was an adaptation on the wicked that was self-proclaimed one to beat Lucifer and rule the world with chaos. Aggie was beaten down profusely and was exiled to Hades yet he continued to rise up. There were specific people who could beat him – Sadie and Theo. As the story progressed, the lead characters would fend off other demons, the minions of Aggie. With the help of Justin, the Companion-Brother of Theo and Halena, the Gatekeeper from Europe. Moments of darkness would compel the weakness, the lost of hope, the heart-pumping thrill and of course, the urge to almost cry as I had felt a momentarily lost of hope. But we all knew how it would end yet the beguiling pacing and unraveling would definitely make a reader eager to read it in one-sitting.

She met her mate as desire unfurled. Captivated by his tantalizing eyes and his brooding self. There was this connection yet Sadie was fighting against it, her body was betraying her but her logic was trying to defy it. It was both exhilarating, consuming and confusing, even. As Sadie realized that it was fate to be together and to be destined, they needed to mate. Yes, in the sexual way. The story was unraveling as Sadie was taking her time while Theo was being patient, even if it was torture to be in that moment. Theo prepared himself for almost a millennium while Sadie was still dumbstruck. There was the fear for Sadie but the unmistakable overwhelming passion was brewing and was enchanting her to give her soul, heart but mostly, her body for Theo. It took time, baby steps on both sides. They made it work without it being forced and respected one’s decision. Yet it was fluid, strong and intense. Their mating was of such power alongside frailty. Thought it was twisted on its own way: you find your mate and mate (sexual way) with the catch that you would become strong and weak. It was the perfect depiction of gaining something but also losing something. Which was too much of a risk, but worth risking for. It would both give them power but would leave them vulnerable.

Overall, I was captivated by the trance they held against me. The details and the characters, even the setting was easy to comprehend that it felt the story unfolded right before my eyes. The alternate POV won me over and I loved how I was given that chance to perceive on Theo and Sadie’s minds. I could not help but turn the pages as the story heightened my excitement! The story held familiar creatures like Angels, Demons and Gatekeepers, yet it was unique as it added its own spice. Its twists were unexpected the use of different languages and the power each character held on made the story more interesting. Nevertheless, it was still the romance book that I loved, as the characters were bound by love at first sight but was not that instalove that gave off the immediate “I love you” or anything. The story gave a background about the lovers, as they learnt each other. As the other kept his patience and told the story that his mate must know; and the other to learn how to be open-minded as she was secluded by logic. It also gave time as to built a foreground to their relationship, yes it was fast as the enemies were already a step ahead but it held the romance at a fiery distance… cracked every intimate moment even just by sniff of a scent, they were already in that desire-induced trance. It was a romance book that never lost its paranormal essence. It built precision and a solid ground as a book. It laid a good plot – the sequencing, the climax, the twists, the characters, mostly the connection. The lead characters were so connected as it focused on them while the story unfolded about the reality for them. And they would fight it together, until the end.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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Author Bio:
Originally from Minnesota, Reese Monroe currently enjoys living in the sunny Arizona desert with her husband of seventeen years and her loveable Shetland Sheep dog, Maddux. Monroe holds a degree in psychology from Southwest Minnesota State University and a master's degree from the University of Iowa. When she’s not busy writing her next trilogy, she can be found pounding the pavement, training to run her first marathon.

Reese Monroe is a contributing blogger at the widely popular site New Adult Alley ( and has been part of the New Adult revolution for years having penned over thirty novels in the exciting new category. Look for her Bound by Hades trilogy coming soon from Entangled Publishing.
Connect with Reese on Twitter (@ReeseMonroe1), through Facebook ( or her website

Author Links:
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-     Jassie

Release Day Launch + Giveaway: First Night & Ever Afters - Lauren Blakely

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

First Night & Ever Afters - Lauren Blakely
A sexy short story of handcuffs, lace and one hot night in a bar featuring supporting characters from the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling novels TROPHY HUSBAND and PLAYING WITH HER HEART.

Fiery bartender Julia Bell has been hit on by her fair share of customers and has never so much as batted an eye in response. After all, she wants a man who can claim her body AND captivate her mind. Enter Clay Nichols, the entertainment lawyer with a dirty mind and a mouth to match. Their connection is off the charts hot, but can it last beyond the first night?

What happens after the happy ending? Bestselling author Lauren Blakely gives readers a glimpse of the happily ever afters for her popular romantic couples – Kat and Bryan from Caught Up In Us, Chris and McKenna from Trophy Husband, Jill and Davis from Playing With Her Heart, and Jane and Matthew from Far Too Tempting.

Purchase Links:
The ebook is FREE!
Amazon     |     iTunes     |     B&N

In addition, Lauren released a box set that's specially priced through the holidays!
Called TANGLED UP IN LOVE and featuring a gorgeous never-seen-before cover, the box set includes the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling novels CAUGHT UP IN US, TROPHY HUSBAND, and PLAYING WITH HER HEART and the bestselling novella PRETENDING HE'S MINE for only $3.99 through Christmas!! That's nearly 75% off the price of the books individually and that price lasts one more week only! (For readers that own all her books, TANGLED UP IN LOVE makes for a great Christmas gift for a friend; for someone who's new to her books, this is an ideally priced starting point; and if you've only read one of her romances, the box set is still an economical way to snag the rest of her contemporary romance novels!)

Amazon US     |     Amazon UK     |     Amazon CAN     |     B&N     |     iBooks

To celebrate the launch of these 2 new ebooks, Lauren is offering a specially themed original giveaway with prizes including:
 1 Pair of Pink Fur-Lined Handcuffs (To celebrate FIRST NIGHT AND EVER AFTERS)

1 gorgeous perfume bottle from the famous Paris perfume shop La Belle Jour (to celebrate TANGLED UP IN LOVE and the visit to Paris in CAUGHT UP IN US)

1 Charms and Necklace! (A collection of charms and a necklace from THE THRILL OF IT, just for fun)
a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Author Bio:
Lauren Blakely writes sexy contemporary romance novels with heat, heart, and humor, and her books have appeared on the New York Times, USA Today, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iBooks bestseller lists. Like the heroine in FAR TOO TEMPTING, she thinks life should be filled with family, laughter, and the kind of love that love songs promise. Lauren lives in California with her husband, children, and dogs. She loves hearing from readers! Her novels include Caught Up In Us, Pretending He's Mine, Playing With Her Heart, Trophy Husband, and Far Too Tempting. On November 21, she'll release the edgy new adult novel THE THRILL OF IT.
She also writes for young adults under the name Daisy Whitney.

Author Links:
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-     Jassie