Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Final Lesson Plan (Schooled 2) by Deena Bright

The Final Lesson Plan (Schooled 2)The Final Lesson Plan by Deena Bright
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I'm giving this a 3.5- but can't quite round up to 4. I had some gripes while I was reading it, but I also had some definite opinions about what I wanted to happen with the characters, which tells me that the author got me connected enough to the story to care. The story turned out the way I wanted it to, which was pretty sweet. I was confused at first by the lack of graphic sex scenes- but dismissed that difference between this book and the first one in the series pretty easily because the emotional and angsty stuff was all good. What I didn't like was the author talking directly to the reader. That is a sure way to take me right out of a story and irritate me. I almost felt like I was enjoying the characters in spite of the author sometimes, which I realize doesn't make a ton of sense. When I say I enjoyed the characters- I mean it. I can't think of one that I didn't care about in some way. Obviously the main three (Janelle, Briggs, and Leo) were at the center of my concerns, but I was pretty invested in all of their siblings and friends as well. I'd also like to give a shout out about the Kelly Taylor references- which I enjoyed more than I can express. Without spoiling anything I'll just add that I LOVED the letter Janelle got. I'm glad I read this- and would recommend it to anyone who has already read Schooled.

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Saturday, June 15, 2013

That First Kiss by J.C Valentine. Release date June 18th!

That First Kiss (Night Calls, #2)That First Kiss by J.C. Valentine
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Piper Donovan is thrilled to land a job that will keep her living in the city she loves and prevent her from having to go back to a life she doesn't want in rural Alabama. While out celebrating her new job with friends she has a very intense encounter with a man she meets at the club. She starts her new job only to realize that the incredibly challenging frustrating man she is now the assistant to is the same man she hooked up with at the club.

Tate is an author who is very demanding and has caused a number of assistants to quit rather than work for someone like him. Piper is able to stand up to him and deal with his moods and demands- but both of them find it difficult to deal with the serious sexual chemistry between them. Both have been hurt in the past, and both struggle to decide how to handle their feelings about one another, which are growing ever more complicated.

Based on the author's description of the book, I expected to like it- but I didn't expect it to hook me so quickly or to like it as much as I did. There are elements of the storyline that are familiar to this genre, but the characters felt fresh and there were many elements of the relationships that were unique. I really liked Piper and her girlfriends right from the start. They seem like a lot of fun and obviously create a good support system for each other. Tate was frustrating and screwed up a lot, but it didn't take long for him to hook me too. Piper and Tate had a lot of challenges to face- both personal and professional. Even with the serious chemistry they shared, it wasn't clear how or whether they were going to be able to sort everything out. This was a book that I had a hard time putting down. I found myself thinking about the characters and their situation when I was away from the book. Also- it is funny in a great way. A lot of books I've read lately have seemed a little too aware of how funny they are, and sometimes it seems that the author is trying too hard to be constantly hilarious and it ends up feeling a little fake. The great thing about this book was that a lot of the funny stuff caught me off-guard. I would just be reading along, and then all of a sudden one of the characters would totally crack me up. It felt great to experience.

This book is the second in a series, but I have not yet read the first. This book can easily be read as a stand-alone. The writing was good, and I will definitely be reading more from this author.

*A copy of this book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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Friday, June 7, 2013

Faking It by Cora Carmack

Faking It (Losing It, #2)Faking It by Cora Carmack
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Cade is in graduate school in the city where his former best friend and unrequited crush now lives with the love of her life. He is experiencing a painful transition from the fun and care free college life to the life of a poor graduate student getting a taste of the real post-college world. Max (Mackenzie) is wrestling with some ten year old grief following a life-altering loss. She and is struggling to be herself and follow her heart to a career performing music. In an attempt to keep her dysfunctional conservative family from cutting off her financial support- in a moment of crisis she enlists perfect looking and acting Cade to pose as her boyfriend to appease them. Cade finds that he is attracted to someone in a serious way for the first time in a long time, and Max finds herself breaking down some walls to allow herself to really feel something for someone else. It becomes clear quickly that the pretend stuff isn't so pretend.

I think it speaks favorably about Cora Carmack's writing that I didn't really like Cade in Losing It, but I sure came around quickly when I started this book. What it means to me is that in Losing It I was feeling from Bliss's perspective- which was that Cade's attraction was unwanted and unreturned, and a little annoying. I felt sorry for him, but not sorry with him. Then I start reading this and through Cade's eyes- start being irritated with Bliss and Garrick for being so hurtful in flaunting their love. What? I was totally cheering them on in the last book. Good job Ms. Carmack. It is an interesting feeling to be taken away from my own perspective as a reader because I'm forced to feel along with the character.

I liked Max, but I didn't love Max. Mostly I liked Max because of how much Cade liked her. I appreciated that his attraction to her helped him heal and feel good. I wanted them together from the beginning. Even the whole "pretend boyfriend turns into a real boyfriend" theme in a lot of books is a little played out I didn't feel that this was just that same story being told again. There was something about it that made it not seem as completely unrealistic as that situation would be in real life. Max and Cade's chemistry was fantastic, and I felt the heat from their interactions throughout the book. I thought Max's parents were a little over-the-top, as was their change of heart in a matter of hours after Max revealed her true self to them. I also wish the book was longer. I would have liked to see more of everything. Perhaps they both go to Texas and Max could meet Cade's grandmother? The ending felt a little abrupt. But since I wanted more and would recommend this to anyone who enjoyed Losing It- I'm giving it 4 stars.

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Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Jet by Jay Crownover

Jet (Marked Men, #2)Jet by Jay Crownover
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Jay Crownover is swiftly becoming a new adult author that I love. The guys in this series are spectacular- the main characters as well as their circle of friends. She writes characters who have experienced a lot of challenges and serious life problems, but have found their way to each other and provide a pretty great support system for one another. I was already attached to Rule, Shaw, Ayden and Cora after reading Rule (Marked Men, #1)- but I wasn't really prepared for Jet. I was very pleasantly surprised at all the depth I never expected from his character. I sort of assumed that he would be a hot awesome rocker who would fall in love and stop sleeping around with tons of women. While those things are true- that only presents a tiny sliver of his story. Jet is a truly talented musician and great performer- but that isn't what he is after. While he could easily make a successful career out of touring with his band and living as a rock star, that isn't what he wants for himself. He wants to make a living writing songs, recording music, discovering and developing other artists, but he doesn't need the spotlight. He wants to be close to his friends, and close to his mother who is in an incredibly abusive and dysfunctional relationship with his father. And he wants Ayden. Badly.

I knew from Rule that Ayden had sort of a wild past and had worked hard to re-create herself when she got to college. I definitely didn't realize the extent to which her life was out of control and why- which makes sense as even her closest friends only knew tiny bits and pieces of the story. Her strength, intelligence, and determination continued to impress me and cause me to really hope that one day she would get to have something wonderful for herself and that all of her sacrifice and hard work would pay off for her.

Also- the chemistry between Ayden and Jet is off the charts hot. I love them together and would recommend that anyone who has started this series continue it immediately by reading this one. I'm also completely excited for Rome's story- which should be coming out next!

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