Sonntag, 3. Juli 2016

Breaking Skin - Debra Doxer

Title: Breaking Skin
Author: Debra Doxer
Rating: 4/5

Thanks to NetGalley and Xpresso Book Tours for letting me receive a digital copy of this book before its official release date.
Dancing is like magic. It makes me disappear.

When I dance I’m not a sister or a daughter, not a lover or a friend. I exist in the moment, onstage, where I turn pain into art and pretend the illusion is real. My past is an abomination and my future is unwritten, but my present is pure, fluid, and focused. I’m content, or at least I think I am, until the night I meet a man who makes me want more.

He’s broken, just like me, but in different ways. He’s older and nothing like the men I’m used to. Compared to him, they’re all boys, immature and insipid, while he’s a force of nature, confident and virile. Virile is a word I’ve never used before, and I only use it now because he embodies it so completely.

At first, he fights the attraction between us almost as hard as I do. But when words like destiny and soulmate whisper through my thoughts, how can I ignore them? He can have any girl he wants, but he looks at me as if I’m the girl he’s waited for his whole life. How can I tell him I’m not that girl?

I wish I were enough for him, wish I were whole. But beneath my facade, I’ve been falling to pieces for a long time, and I don’t know if I’m strong enough to resist the downward momentum.

In the beginning, I almost wanted to quit reading the book. I couldn't stand the prologue at all. I didn't like the writing and I didn't feel good about the story. There was a dark vibe to it, like the main character Nikki was some kind of hooker. Did I really just say that? I am sorry if it sounds offensive, I don't mean it like that. She just appeared to be something like that, a stripper maybe or perhaps I got that impression because of the location. Anyway, I didn't delete the book from my app and I am glad I didn't. It turned out to be a really great one.

How come a show about ballet is one of my favourites of all time, but I don't like any dance movies or books about dancing?! I have no idea. Being a dancer myself, I guess I get offended easily, because dancing is so much more than what these movies and books tell you. However, Debra Doxer didn't focus on the ballet topic. Well, she kind of did, making Nikki be a ballerina, but you won't be reading a story about a girl who spends twenty-four hours practicing in a studio. I'm glad for that. Her profession is an important part for the story and her doubts about a solo are real, but there's no nerve-racking competiton with another ballerina going on. Those are the worst.

Honestly, Breaking Skin is about love and trust and dealing with the past. It's about putting yourself first when necessary and counting on others when you're ready.

The writing and the character's voices improved with each chapter. I liked reading about the progress Nikki went through from page to page. Her life was never easy, but when she's with her niece, you read about a lighter version of that same Nikki. And I think the speed of Nikki's and Cole's relationship was just simply perfect. Often, I think everything happens a little too fast, and the period of time wasn't exactly a large one either, but it felt like it.

Judged on Nikki's sister's story, this book has got a mystery to it too. But it didn't overshadow the story, it just added some chills, some adventure to it.

I loved what Debra Doxer made Cole deal with. I have never read about that before and I think more novels, especially novels about sports, should pick this up. There's danger in everything, but these days, everyone is only after fame, being the best, never admitting when something feels wrong. And that can lead to horrible things, as read in Breaking Skin. And Cole's pretty lucky, considering the other guy we read about at the end. Sports people should take better care of themselves and their coaches should have the best intentions for their health, not for the winning.

One more thing I would like to speak about... Debra Doxer doesn't seem to care about the length of chapters. Luckily. There seem to be a lot of authors who write chapters that contain 7k words and end up having fifteen chapters in total. I don't know why it's become such a trend to write long chapters and have less chapters in total, but I don't like it. I like an organized book, chapters that make sense to me. Scenes and actions are great, but does a chapter really need twenty of them? I don't get it. Write fifty chapters if it makes you happy. I like that much better.

So, although my review doesn't really tell you anything about the plot, I highly recommend Breaking Skin. It's a refreshing story that will make you become Nikki, you will feel whatever she is feeling. Her character's voice is a really strong one and if you happen to like male point of views, I can tell you that Cole gets to tell his point of view a couple of times too. And gah, I loved those parts!

In Your Dreams (Falling #04) - Ginger Scott

Title: In Your Dreams (Falling #04)
Author: Ginger Scott
Rating: 4/5

Thanks to NetGalley and Captured Press for letting me receive a digital copy of this book.
Casey Coffield has a growing list of personal flaws he keeps locked away in his head:
He’s never on time.
His list of IOUs to his best friend is endless.
Money is always short.
Goals are never in reach.

Oh, and he’s decided to add college drop-out to that list, too. He doesn’t really think that last one’s such a bad thing, but his family insists it is, so it stays on the list.

On paper, he’s a zero. But in person, when he’s mixing tracks for a sea of bodies at the hottest clubs and parties, he’s downright irresistible. Just-right stubble on his chin, body of a boxer and a smirk that stimulates all the right nerves—women have never been a problem. They flock to his swagger and fall for his charm…fast.

All except for this one.

Purple hair, gray eyes, a raspy voice and sass, Murphy Sullivan is a little bit country and a little bit rock-n-roll. And her and Casey? They have history. He can’t remember it, but she wrote a song about him—and it’s not exactly a love song. But it is good. Damn good. And uncovering her inspiration just might be the key to solving a few of his shortcomings—not to mention open doors to his own big break in the music industry.

But sometimes dreams get messy when they collide. Sometimes life changes patterns. A past paints the wrong picture and futures get cloudy. The only question that remains is who will you choose when the dust settles—you? Or the girl of your dreams?

I've been a bad girl, I admit it. Usually, I am a very organized reader. I would never, never - and I repeat - never pick up the fourth book in a series when I still haven't read the third one. But I had to do it with this one. The Girl I Was Before is patiently waiting for me to be read on my eReader, but In Your Dreams screamed at me. Or maybe it was just my inner voice, telling me to read it before the download deadline is up.

Casey knows Murphy is the one for him - the one to make famous in order to be talked about as well. Years of trying to become a well-known DJ seem wasted to his father, who wants Casey to take up on a different path. Of course, he won't have it. That's why he's got to convince Murphy to sign with the label he's currently working with. Her voice is too good to not be heard. But developing feelings for her were never part of the plan - for either one of them. But what happens when dreams shatter and doubts grow?! (That has got to be my worst self-written summary ever. I am so sorry! It doesn't do the book justice.)

It's really weird. Normally, I hate stories about music. Don't get me wrong, I love music. It's the second best thing right after or maybe even along with reading. But I dislike the stories about rockstars who fall for the shy girl next door and such things. It's sweet, it's romantic, but also super boring and predictable to me. Maybe that's why I was so pleasantly surprised by Ginger Scott's book. I adore her work, she's super fabulous and one of my ultimate idols when it comes to writing, but she also managed to write a book about music, with the focus on it, but she didn't pressure it. There's no big celebrity in this who has it all and wants to find love. It's about two people finding their passion, finding each other. It was refreshing to all these other music-based books in the genre.

The plot is very realistic, which is so rare whenever an author decides to pick up this topic. And it wouldn't be a Ginger Scott book if there wasn't just the right amount of humor and tragic in it, too. As always, her characters all have their own voices, even those that aren't playing a main part for this book. I see Ginger posting pictures of her working next to baseball fields all the time and I can't help but wonder how she manages to be so good. I mean, that's a compliment. Obviously. But talking about the voices of the characters, it's a miracle she remembers everything about her story, about the history of the characters and such. And she seems to be a fast writer too. Oh my, so many reasons to be jealous of this woman.

I love the unusual scenes Ginger comes up with, like in one scene Murphy is taking care of her nose's pores. It might not sound romantic or whatever, but this scene was so important for the book. Fantasy is the best weapon and my, Ginger Scott has one perfect fantasy when it comes to her novels.

My favourite character was Lane, Murphy's brother - for obvious reasons. He is such a cutie. You know, this series might be one of the best ever, because the characters all have flaws, they aren't perfect and they know it, they struggle, they cry, they deal with things and then comes Lane who has every right to be upset and hate life, but he's this cute, positive thinking human being that shines so damn bright, it hurts. Reading about his and Casey's friendship always had me smiling.

I feel like I didn't write about the main characters. Uhm... There isn't much for me to say. Casey's a hottie and Murphy's... Well, Murphy. I wasn't sure whether I was gonna like her in the beginning, but reading about her family and seeing her defend herself, standing up to Casey made me change my mind.

I'm not sure why but I feel like, right now, I should declare a favourite in this series. But that's impossible. In Your Dreams really blew me away, but This Is Falling and You and Everything After did that too. It was strange to read about adult characters without them really being in an adult age. There's no mentioning of frat parties, sharing a bathroom with the rest of the dorm and such. But I am not complaining about that. It's what makes series so interesting - the characters become older, their life goes on. And Ginger Scott creates the best lives. Just saying. You should see for yourself.

Sonntag, 19. Juni 2016

The Sun In Her Eyes - Paige Toon

Title: The Sun In Her Eyes
Author: Paige Toon
Rating: 4/5
Blinding sunshine… A bend in the road… What became of the little girl with the sun in her eyes?

Amber was three when a car crash stole her mother's life. She doesn't remember the accident, but a stranger at the scene has been unable to forget. Now, almost thirty years later, she's trying to track Amber down.

Amber, meanwhile, is married to Ned and living on the other side of the world in London. When her father has a stroke, she flies straight home to Australia to be with him. Away from her husband, Amber finds comfort in her oldest friends, but her feelings for Ethan, the gorgeous, green-eyed man she once fell for, have never been platonic.

Again, I didn't receive this book in exchange for a review, but I wanted to share my love for it with anyone who is interested.

Actually, I am still a bit lost for words. I think this is the most emotional I have been after reading a novel written by Paige. It turned out so different than I originally thought. That's not a bad thing, but my emotions are still a mess. A real, fuzzy mess. Can't say I like that feeling too much. Yet, yes, of course I secretly aren't mad and admire Paige for having me feel this way.

There are so many small things that I loved about this book, starting with the fact that Paige takes us back on a journey through Australia. Alright, through Adelaide, to be exact, but I'm not picky, haha. My very, very favourite book will always be Pictures of Lily which is set down under as well, so at the mention of the country itself I became so excited. And then I read about Hahnsdorf, which almost had me in tears. Fans of Paige will understand me. I hope. I am not crazy, I swear. And then it's also the story idea that had me hooked. The way things were described with her father and the way she felt for Ethan when they were teenagers. Oh, my poor heart.

As Amber decides to go back to Australia to check up on her dad, she finds herself getting closer to Ethan, whom she always loved. He never loved her back, though and anyway, she has got a husband back in England. She shouldn't have feeling toward Ethan, right? She is happy, or so she tells herself. Truth is, I adored Ethan. And how much! It was only a bit closer to the end of the book that I felt confused about him. The way he spoke, the way he behaved. I never would have seen this coming.

You don't have to be Team Ethan in order to love this book or feel any emotion at all. You can become an emotional wreck being Team Ned (that's Amber's husband) too. It's nerve-racking, really. Paige is the best at that. So many feelings! I loved reading about how the two of them met, it was really important for the further actions. Everything about The Sun In Her Eyes was so well thought-through. I'm impressed. Starting with the sights we get into a person who just suffered from a stroke, to a woman who left behind her friends and now finds herself wanting to pick up where things ended, to a woman who is caught between two men she loves in a utterly different way that it makes your heart clench. It does! And every once in a while you'll find yourself asking: 'What would I do if I was Amber?' And though I hate to admit it, I think Paige Toon solved it out really brilliantly in the end.

I know I said I liked the country setting, but I also wanted to point out how I loved every single location. I loved reading about Ethan's family business, about the trip he and Amber went on (though that was one horrifying thing). The bars and clubs Amber and her friends went to. I found that amusing, because I usually dislike reading about party people, but it seemed fitting in here somehow. The characters had to connect to one another and that was obviously through meeting each other in bars. Is that what adult life is gonna be like?! haha.

A personal aspect I'd like to mention and let Paige know this - whenever I read lines written by her, I feel better. I feel a bit lighter. Like some burden has been lifted off my shoulders. And no one does that like Paige. I can be the worst mood possible, but when I get to start a new chapter in one of her books, I am connected to the characters and stop doubting things that I worried about before. And even if it's just for the shortest while, for the time amount I need to finish a book, I appreciate Paige's writing. Does this paragraph sound cheesy? I am sorry, but anyway. Thank you, Paige!

And when it comes to her books, I always find myself thinking of songs that remind me of the story, so here comes another playlist.
Darleen's playlist for The Sun In Her Eyes: (more titles might be added)
Hilary Duff - Tattoo (feat. Ed Sheeran)
Walking On Cars - Speeding Cars
Gwen Stefani - The Real Thing
The Summer Set - Where Are You Now (feat. Dia Frampton)
Meg Frampton - Say I Said Yes
Charlie Simpson - If I Lose It

Hooker - J.L. Perry

Title: Hooker
Author: J.L. Perry
Rating: 3/5

Thanks to NetGalley and Hachette Australia for letting me receive a digital copy of this book before its official release.
Jade's young life was tough. After her mother died during childbirth and her father could no longer look after her, she was placed in foster care where she stayed for the next ten years. She grew up feeling unloved and unwanted as she was passed around from one screwed up home to the next.

Things began to look up for her when she was adopted by a wealthy socialite at the age of eleven. Sometimes, though, things aren't always what they seem. Jade didn't know it at the time, but her new adoptive mother had big plans for her . . .

Brock grew up privileged. He had everything going for him. Money, looks, charm, success and an endless array of beautiful women. He wasn't interested in commitment. To him women were easy. They practically threw themselves at his feet. All they wanted was to do something nobody had ever managed before. Snare the hot, rich bachelor.

Then he met Jade. She was like a breath of fresh air. A challenge. Nothing like the women he was used to. Their one night together ignited something within him. A burning desire to own her, possess her, but Jade had other plans. Nobody says no to Brock Weston, nobody.

But, when fate brings them together again, will he get what he wants? Or will Jade's secrets crush him, and destroy any chance they have of being together?

I decided to leave this review a bit shorter than the rest, simply because there isn't much for me to tell. I prefered J.L. Perry's former book, called Bastard. Both books are pretty long, so if you are looking for a quick read, her books aren't for you. Her writing is really good though, no matter if you like the plot or not, it will have you continue reading.

Jade meets Brock at the airport - I liked that setting. They are both on their way to New York and seem pretty attracted to one another right from the start. Though they know nothing about each other, they're happy when they run into each other again and share a night of wild passion. Alright, so you don't have to read 50% of the book to get to that part when they meet. I liked that. I hate when the meetings are dragged into infinity. I want the story to be focused on the love birds.

However, though their love story was enjoyable, I disliked the main history of Jade. It was too adult-ish for me. I mean, it's thrilling and really unique - she is a hooker. Name one other book in which the character is a hooker. A stripper, yes, maybe, but a hooker? And the way she turned into one? That one is heavy! I so didn't like reading about that, but then again J.L. Perry is good for these heavy histories of her characters. It was the same with Bastard. People screaming, calling others bad names or worse... You name it. That's her thing. I think, secretly, she is a thriller writer, haha.

Up until like the middle of the book, I would only read a chapter or two and then put it aside again. Yeah, I wasn't really into it. Sadly. But then finally, when Jade was in danger, I continued and continued and was finished with the book a day later. As mentioned before, it is NOT because of the writing. I think J.L. Perry is a real talent at what she does, it was just the story itself, the life of Jade, that I didn't find appealing. That's my NA heart - struggling to accept any other genre. Sorry!

So, don't mind my rating or my thoughts. That's all me. If you like to read about love and fear and characters with a troubled past, who overcome their issues finding one another - I suggest you read Hooker because it's keeping all these promises. And I actually did like the other characters in this book, such as Joshua, Brock's brother, or Theo, one of Jade's clients who is the nicest of them all. And of course Brock is swoon-worthy. No doubt about that.

Montag, 13. Juni 2016

Skyscrapers & Camelot (Renovate #01) - Mindy A. Carter

Title: Skyscrapers & Camelot (Renovate #01)
Author: Mindy A. Carter
Rating: 2.5 - 3 / 5

Thanks to NetGalley and Book Enthusiast Promotions for letting me receive a digital copy of this book.
Keegan was my world since I was six years old. When he walked out of my life, I was certain I would never see him again. He broke my heart, but truthfully I only have myself to blame. Now I'm looking into his incredibly beautiful blue eyes. He came back into my life as quickly as he left. Both of us have changed over the years, but I can't imagine living another day without him.

My name is Aimee, and this is the story of how I lost and found my best friend and love of my life. The journey may be tough but there is no denying that Keegan, and I were destined to be together. He rescued me the day we met and had always been my prince charming. One thing I'm sure of, I'm not letting my happily ever after get away this time.

Again, unfortunately this was a book that I expected a bit more of. I am not a huge fan of second chance romances, however I decided to give it a try. The thing is, that this book wasn't utterly bad, I would never say that, but things went on quite fast and I found the female main character - Aimee - really annoying. In the beginning, I was surprised this book happened to be about adult people, heading to their thirties, but then again Aimee's voice was so childish sometimes, I felt like I was stuck in a YA book. And not a good one.

I really hate to say this and I hope I am not hurting anybody's feelings. Considering the storyline, the author had a really good idea in mind and it's probably just my dislike for second chance romances that doesn't leave me impressed by Skyscrapers & Camelot. Actually, I didn't even understand why there is a Camelot in the title. Did Aimee consider Keegan as her very own Camelot? That would make sense.

So, I guess my complaining about the speed of the actions is pointless to whoever loved the book. Of course, the characters already know each other, have been through highs and lows, the story is allowed to take on speed, but it's just my taste. I don't like that very much.

Keegan was a really sweet guy, I happen to always come up with excuses on why I love the male characters in books, haha. As every reader who get the chance to read this book, I hated Gretchen right from the start. She's his "assistant" and the typical arrogant one that hates on the boss' girlfriend, yes. And then there is Kaleb, Keegan's brother, who gets his own side story in the book, along with Aimee's female best friend. I kind of hoped Kaleb would be the one for Aimee or that they had some romance going on in the past. I was totally susprised when Aimee's best friend's brother appeared and suddenly we came to find out she and Liam - that's the brother's name - had a relationship in college. Did I skip a part or was that sudden? And what's up with his attitude? Didn't understand that either.

I guess that's it. Not all positive words, I am sorry, but I am not trying to hate on this book either. Anyhow, I am glad it wasn't that long and I didn't need days in order to finish it. It was sweet and cute, but it didn't make me feel any heartbreak or other necessary emotions that I like while reading a story.

Mittwoch, 8. Juni 2016

Lessons of the Heart - Jodie Larson

Title: Lessons of the Heart
Author: Jodie Larson
Rating: 2.5 - 3/5

Thanks to NetGalley and Patchwork Press - Cooperative for letting me receive a digital copy of this book.
The first time we met, James Dumont knocked me off my feet.

He's sexy and smart, the classic good guy... Exactly what I want, and everything I've ever dreamed of. The most perfect guy at Somerset High School.

He even makes sixth-period Geography interesting.

Everyone says high school is tough. Fighting my attraction to James? That's the hardest part, because this guy, my perfect match, the one who makes my heart overrule my head...

He's my teacher.

What if the greatest lesson you could learn in school couldn't be found in a book?

Usually, teacher/student romance novels are one of my favourite kind. However, this book disappointed me. And I hate to say that. It wasn't about the writing, that part was good, but the storyline happened too fast - the emotions didn't appear real to me. Too many things, too many love declarations were said too soon. And so, romantic is important and it felt a bit forced to me. I didn't see real sparks, real chemistry between the two main characters.

I understand that sometimes, real life is like that too. You meet someone and connect with them. That's perfectly fine, but I would have liked to read more about that. Because I missed that part. Suddenly, they knew everything about each other and no one understood how that happened, when exactly they told each other their secrets, dreams and wishes. Also, there were quite a few phrases that were used a lot. Like, when Britta sees James, she never says so. She always implies on his green eyes. And whenever there is something wrong, James will request: "Look at me, Britta", a hundred times.

So, the idea of a teacher/student romance is always nice, and the given scenes were worked out very well too, but Lessons of the Heart just didn't knock me off my feet. I'm very sorry to say that, but things happen... I also didn't understand why everyone was so supportive of their relationship, from the very beginning. I would have thought it might take Britta and James some convincing on Britta's friends, especially when you read the first few chapters and there is a familiar situation, which everybody is really gossiping about. Didn't make any sense to me.

And I am very sad that we never got to see James family. At all. Maybe that's what made their relationship seem hallow to me. They said these super cute things to each other, after knowing each other for about a week and I felt zero chemistry (though those cute and sweet words still kind of melted my heart anyway), but nothing major happens. No family issues, no big secret. Everything's a bit too bright for my taste. And yes, I know I would be complaining if something major had happened as well. I can never be pleased, haha.

Montag, 23. Mai 2016

The Other Side of Gravity (Oxygen #01) - Shelly Crane

Title: The Other Side of Gravity (Oxygen #01)
Author: Shelly Crane
Rating: 3.5 - 4/5

Thanks to NetGalley and Red Coat PR for letting me receive a digital copy of this book.
My name is Maxton and I’m a trader.
I live on a soulless planet where gravity, oxygen, and everything else are sold to the highest bidder on the black market. People are sold on the black market, too. You have to work really hard not to become one of those people. Pay your taxes, keep your friends and family close, and more than anything else—don’t get caught by the Militia. But all the rules changed for me the day I found her.

My name is Sophelia and I’m a stowaway.
I’ve been a slave for almost as long as I can remember. Waiting for the one day, one second, for my proprietor to turn his head so I could run and never look back. Now I'm on the run. And on a planet where no one is on your side and people would turn you in for a good meal or a piece of a silver, being on the run on Landu is the last place you want to be. Until he found me.

I won't survive without him.

I can't breathe without her.

On Goodreads, I came across a lot of negative reviews or bad rating, at least. I don't understand why. I know - different tastes and all that, but The Other Side of Gravity wasn't 'stupid' or 'boring' or whatever other word people wrote about it. Of course, it's not all smiling unicorns, either. There were things I didn't like as well, yes, but I'd never think of rating it with one or two stars only. When I first found out about Shelly writing this one, I was sure it'd become a huge hit, because everyone seemed so in love with her Significance books. Guess some just liked those better.

I never really thought I'd enjoy reading about future settings so much. But lately, I read a lot of these stories and I happen to like them a lot. Especially if the world within is so well figured out as Shelly did it. Honestly, I'd like to write such a book myself, but I think I'd go mad, never able to keep up with who is who or how that certain world works and such things. It's crazy. And I am really impressed by any author who manages to create another universe. You know, it's not all fantasy in this book. About the story, I mean. Because the people choose to move to another planet after the earth became a bad place. And to me, that's an important topic, up-to-date.

So, the story is told from two point of views - Maxton's and Sophelia's. To be honest, I liked reading Maxton's point of view a little more, but that's because I am a fan of getting into the boy's head in a book. At times, I was really angry at Sophelia, because she misunderstood so many things and acted all shy and then all feisty in the next scene. But coming to think of it, I think that's a needed aspect for her character. I mean, she was a slave for so long, she doesn't really know how to interact with other people, who to trust, what certain feelings mean. She's like a lost puppy. And then of course Maxton is the saviour. I adored him! Though he seemed kind of arrogant and mean in the beginning (I also didn't like that hipster language he used to with co-workers on the ship), you'll grow to love him really quickly. He's awesome!

When you start reading the book, the first few pages will kill you - emotionally. That's what they did to me. I sobbed so hard and wanted to hug my own mom so bad. I felt so sorry for Soph, aww. I feel like crying all over again. But things get better... You gotta have faith in that. It doesn't seem that way in the next chapter, but Soph never gives up hope either, so you shouldn't do it. Give this book a chance, it's not all every-human-hates-Soph-like. She had a hard time, that much is true, but please don't be annoyed by finding out about it. It's what makes the further line in the story so much more thrilling. I loved reading about Soph's and Maxton's journey, especially when they got to Maxton's family. I hope we'll get to find out more about them.

Towards the end, when the two met two guys, described as Dee and Dum (Hello, Alice in Wonderland), I got annoyed. Not annoyed, exactly, but I lost interest. Things seemed to take on speed, far too much speed. Don't get me wrong, the book is pretty big, at least that's what it felt to me, reading it on my cell. I'm not complaining about its length at all, but due to how many pages the book had, I felt like a few more couldn't hurt, just to keep the pace right. Also, when they got to the beach, that's when everything got out of control for me. It seemed too predictable. Those who read the book yet might know what I am talking about.

So, having everything said that I can think of right now, I still think The Other Side of Gravity is one of my favourite reads when it comes to other planets, sci-fi stuff. And let's face it - the cover is one of the most beautiful I have ever seen. I could stare at it for days. And for me, it captures the emotion Soph feels when she is with Maxton. I love it.