Saturday, September 27, 2014

Review: Upon Your Honor by Marie Lavender

Deception is a dangerous path…

New York City, August, 1891 – Orphaned after the death of her father, Chloe Waverly stows away on La Voyageur to escape the clutches of her cruel fiancé, Lamonte Beckett. Gabriel Hill, a strange and compelling gentleman, comes upon Chloe and promises to protect her without knowing the true circumstances of why she is running away. During their journey, Gabriel doesn’t bargain on being distracted by her fair beauty or succumbing to her many charms. As their attraction to each other grows, so does the danger and Gabriel suspects things are not as they should be.

Both are determined to get to New Orleans, where she can start a new life. But, once they reach their destination, events spin out of their control and Chloe is captured by the fiancé she escaped. Gabriel is left wondering if he can overlook her betrayal. Soon he finds himself in a race against time, to reach her before Beckett can exact revenge.
My Rating
My Review
Upon Your Honor is the second novel of Marie Lavender's Heiresses in Love series (the first of which, Upon Your Return, I reviewed here). I actually think that I loved Upon Your Honor even more than the first novel. It was an absolutely gorgeous read that I couldn't put down for a moment.
The connection between this novel and the first in the series was wonderful. The hero is now Gabriel Hill, the son of Grant and Fara, and the heroine is a fresh face, Chloe Waverly. It was fantastic to still be in the same historical world as the first novel, with familiar characters, but also have the main spotlight be on new faces.
I felt that this plot was very tight, with high stakes and great pacing. The pages kept turning, especially for a romance novel, and I was constantly eager as to what would happen next. The romantic development may have readers yanking their hair out on occasion, but it is so so worth it. I could not get enough of the pairing between Gabriel and Chloe. It was both sweet and sexy, realistic, and fun and somewhat aggravating. But I'd sail that ship from New York to New Orleans anyway.
Speaking of which, I loved how a large chunk of the book was set at sea. I definitely did not get enough of life on La Voyageur before, and that added an interesting spin to the story. The sense of time passing by worked wonderfully, and allowed for a much more believable transition in the relationship.
Chloe is a wonderful character, as she is sweet but intelligent, and can even be coy when she wants to be. Getting a glimpse of her complex backstory made for an even more interesting character. Gabriel is just as deliciously swoon-worthy (if not more) than his father, so ladies need not be disappointed. Even outside of the fantastic romantic leads, other characters were very well-developed. Although Lamonte may not be likable, it's great how his thought and image acts like a menacing shadow throughout the novel. He makes quite the impact, and he isn't in the story long, which definitely shows how fantastic supporting characters can be.
I loved Upon Your Honor. It has romance, suspense, action, laughs, and just about everything one can look for in a novel. Fans of historical romance, especially those who already indulged in Upon Your Return, are sure to enjoy.  

Friday, September 26, 2014

Review: Upon Your Return by Marie Lavender

Fara Bellamont has been back in society for a year after leaving Cluny Abbey, where her uncle sent her long ago. When he chooses a suitor for her for marriage, she fears that she will be forced to marry a stranger and live a miserable life.

But, Fara finds herself thrust into an adventure of a lifetime when unforeseen circumstances cause her to place her trust in a strange man for protection. His intervention not only saves her, but puts her in an even more compromising position.

Grant Hill, a trading captain, is enchanted by the young heiress not only because of her beauty, but because she is hardly conventional. Underneath her ladylike exterior lies a tigress. Grant cannot help but offer his protection as she is in need and he is far from immune from her charms.

Fara just never bargained on the passion that she feels for Grant Hill. As events unfold, she must decide whether her desires and the dictates of her heart should trump the rules of society in this exciting tale
My Rating
 My Review  

Upon Your Return is a wonderfully written historical romance that a variety of readers will enjoy. The premise is quite fantastic in itself. A romantic hero that is also captain of his own ship? I can definitely jump onto that boat. The events of the story are smoothly intertwined, and make for a very interesting read. 

The characters of the novel are all very strong, and each are enjoyable in their own way. Fara may be unconventional in the sense that she is outspoken and fiery, which I absolutely loved but Lavender didn't go overboard as trying to sell just how different she was. There are ways for a female heroine to be strong without physical strength, and occasionally needing "saving" doesn't make one weak. Fara is proof of both these facts, and it's wonderful. She's strong, intelligent and passionate - but still has the convincing image of a lady. It's a wonderful blend.
Just as Fara was a fantastic female lead, Grant Hill is a complete showstopper. If he has one thing, it's personality, and it's a good one. He's smart, sexy, and courageous - and he really cares about Fara. Definitely swoon-worthy. Say what you want, but that's important for me in romances.
And although the romance between Fara and Grant is sweet and steamy and just really great, there is so much more to the novel than the two of them. There is danger, excitement, complex characters and emotional situations. It's more than a romance, but it has fantastic romance.
Although some parts read a bit slow, the overall pacing was fine. There are a few unanswered questions which make certain actions not totally clear and seeming no more than convenient, but not in abundance. (The only thing that really stuck out involved the motives of the first fiance, which is a pretty significant plot event.)
Nonetheless, I thoroughly enjoyed the read and recommend it for fans of historical romance.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Review: Holly Hearts Hollywood by Kenley Conrad (Tour Stop)

Holly Hearts Hollywood
Release Date: 09/23/14
Swoon Romance

Seventeen-year-old Holly Hart wants to be a star. She moves to Los Angeles from the small town of Cedar Junction, only to hear she’s too fat and ugly to be a famous singer.

But when Shell Shocked Records looks past Holly’s plus-size and less-than-graceful-personality to offer her a recording contract, Holly cannot believe her good fortune. On closer inspection, however, the record execs want Holly to do all the singing, and a thinner and more beautiful girl, Lacey, would lip-sync and get all the credit. Holly goes for it because after all, she wanted to sing.

Contractually bound to secrecy, Holly is more than happy to sit backstage while Lacey shimmies in the limelight and basks in the fame. Before she knows it, Holly is friends with Serena, the pop-star daughter of a music-mogul, flirting with an intern, and developing a strange half-friendship with Lacey.

When Grayson Frost, the biggest country star in America, and coincidentally, a former school bully begins dating Lacey, Holly hopes that he won’t recognize or torment her.

Through a series of embarrassing and weird events, Holly gets to know Grayson and learns that he is much nicer and more mature than he was four years ago. Holly is horrified when she starts falling for him. When Grayson admits he fell for Lacey's voice, what is a girl to do when she can’t legally tell the truth at the moment when the truth matters the most?

Buy Links:

About the Author
I'm the author of the upcoming YA series Holly Hearts Hollywood, coming September 2014 by Swoon Romance. I'm a twenty-something cat lady who lives in Phoenix, Arizona. When I'm not working my office day job or writing books, you can find me either singing and dancing or binge-watching TV shows on Netflix.

Author Links:

My Rating


My Review

It took me a little bit to really get into Holly Hearts Hollywood, but once I did, I couldn't stop. The novel is a light read that a variety of YA fans will completely devour. It's funny, fabulous, and all around an enjoyable read.

I loved the POV of the novel and how it was told. The diary-style entries really allow the reader to connect with the main character, and it was so refreshing to have them be realistic, as Holly actually comments on the time she takes to write everything down. Not to mention, Holly has a wonderful voice. She isn't perfect, and she definitely isn't the average character, but this just makes her easier to relate to. She has such a strong personality that really shines through the writing, and she behaves and talks like a teenage girl  - which is always nice.

The rest of the characters were just as strong, and I loved the complexity behind them. I ended up changing my mind about some characters multiple times before their true colors really showed through. Grayson is a total heartthrob, and if he were an actual celebrity, I would most definitely be a fan. (And I don't like country music. I vote showtunes.) Although Amanda and Meredith were not in the majority of the novel, I thought that their relationship and personalities could steal the show. This novel definitely contains some unforgettable characters, and I can't think of one that wasn't well developed.

Some parts of Holly Hearts Hollywood may be a bit stereotypical, but any cliches are immediately forgiven by the humor or some swoon-worthy thing that Grayson does. (I can't stay mad at him.) Between that and Holly's voice, the pages really do keep turning. It definitely wasn't my intention, but I nearly finished the novel in one sitting.

I think that Holly Hearts Hollywood is a wonderful YA contemporary, and a fantastic start to a series. I love the characters and the concept, and the ending left me desperately begging for more.


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Trailer Release: Press Play by Eric Devine

Author: Erid Devine
Release Date: October 28, 2014
Publisher: Running Press Kids

Greg Dunsmore, a.k.a. Dun the Ton, is focused on one thing: making a documentary that will guarantee his admission into the film school of his choice. Every day, Greg films his intense weight-loss focused workouts as well as the nonstop bullying that comes from his classmates. But when he captures footage of violent, extreme hazing by his high school’s championship-winning lacrosse team in the presence of his principal, Greg’s field of view is in for a readjustment.
Greg knows there is a story to be told, but it is not clear exactly what. And his attempts to find out the truth only create more obstacles, not to mention physical harm upon himself. Yet if Greg wants to make his exposé his ticket out of town rather than a veritable death sentence, he will have to learn to play the game and find a team to help him.
Combine the underbelly of Friday Night Lights with the unflinching honesty of Walter Dean Myers, and you will find yourself with Eric Devine’s novel of debatable truths, consequences, and realities.



Eric Devine is the author of multiple works of Young Adult fiction, most recently Dare Me, withPress Play being published 10/28. He is also a veteran high school English teacher who spends as much time teaching as he does completing field research for his novels. His work has been listed byYALSA and Booklist for reluctant readers and for Best in Sports. He is married to his high school sweetheart, and his wife and he have two wonderful daughters and two not-so-wonderful Labradors. Find out more at, or Twitter: @eric_devine

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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The YA Flick Chick: The Maze Runner Movie Review

As you likely know, I normally review books on this blog. But, after coming home from a screening of The Maze Runner, I thought, why not try my hand at reviewing films? Especially if they are YA adaptations. So, here goes.

Release Date: September 19th, 2014

My Rating


My Review

There have been plenty of films released this year that were based off of YA novels. And many of them received a lot of hype.

Well, The Maze Runner just blew all the rest of them out of the water. 

The film opens right in the heart of the conflict (or what will become the conflict, at least) in which Thomas (portrayed by Dylan O'Brien (if you heard a sound at the mention of his name, that was millions of girls all swooning at once) waking up, confused and with no memory, in a rising cage and being thrust into the Glade. From there on, the fast-pacing will keep viewers at the edge of their seats.

The visuals are incredible. Man, what a setting. The maze itself is a star, and the Grievers are sure to creep you the hell out. The audio paired brilliantly. I'm pretty sure I'll be dreaming of those maze sounds for the next couple of weeks.

I can't go on about this film forever, as such an action packed film shouldn't have a review that runs on for hours. But, to be honest, I don't have much to complain about. It had everything I could have asked for. All the characters were brilliant, and it's quite the entertainment ride.

I can tell you this: I laughed, I cried, and, frankly, I think it deserves MORE hype.

So, go see The Maze Runner in theaters on Friday, or you'll be a shank.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Review: The Professional Freelancer by Rory Scherer


After being laid off at my latest company that fell victim to insider fraud, and the job market at its lowest point in years, I decided to follow the advice of my self-made millionaire friend and become 'The Professional Freelancer'. Spiraling out of control, I found myself involved in several extremely dangerous situations that strangely all seem to be connected involving the mafia, a Korean street gang, a white-collar crime, and masterminding the annual euchre championships at a senior citizens retirement home.
The Professional Freelancer is a humorous ebook that was not written in a traditional format. It was written from the protagonist’s point-of-view. He is talking directly to you; the reader.

 My Rating


My Review

Sometimes, as a reader, you don't want a serious book that is going to have you crying yourself to sleep for the next couple of nights. Sometimes you don't want a lengthy epic that makes you feel like the running guy in Monty Python's The Holy Grail. Sometimes, you simply want a short read that is a ton of fun and thoroughly enjoyable. When you experience one of those times, The Professional Freelancer is a wonderful way to satisfy that craving.

The book reads as if the protagonist is sharing his story directly to us, which is a pretty cool spin on the first person perspective. It allowed to me to connect to him easily, as he begins in a realistic and fairly common situation - before it spirals a bit out of hand. Plus, the writing has such a fantastic and memorable voice, with some of the best analogies I've seen in my life. I definitely appreciated the sense of humor, which persisted throughout the entire novel. An impressive feat alone - only improved by the many references to movies and music (all of which I understood).

But nearly every character, even the ones that only appear for a few pages, were all very enjoyable and well-developed. Even some of the gang members, which normally feel a bit more cinematic, felt fairly authentic. They all had distinct personalities, which definitely made for a more interesting read.

The pacing of The Professional Freelancer is fast and exciting. Even before the action of the gangs really get moving, the strong characterization carries the novel easily. The pages keep turning, and had my chuckling to myself nearly the entire run. I enjoyed reading it, and recommend it to anyone looking for a quick read with a nice laugh.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Review: Exo by Steven Gould (Tour Stop)


Cent can teleport. So can her parents, but they are the only people in the world who can. This is not as great as you might think it would be — sure, you can go shopping in Japan and then have tea in London, but it’s hard to keep a secret like that. And there are people, dangerous people, who work for governments and have guns, who want to make you do just this one thing for them. And when you’re a teenage girl things get even more complicated. High school. Boys. Global climate change, refugees, and genocide. Orbital mechanics.

But Cent isn’t easily daunted, and neither are Davy and Millie, her parents. She’s going to make some changes in the world.


My Rating


My Review
Exo is the fourth book to Steven Gould's Jumper series, but it can also be read as a standalone novel. Which is how read it. But I loved Exo so much that I immediately want to go back and reread the first three so I can experience more of this story. For Exo is science fiction at it's best. The concept is not so completely elaborate that no one knows what to expect. In fact, it's a rather simple idea. But the explanations and treatment of the ability to teleport, or jump, is so believable that you might even forget your reading a work of fiction.
Exo may be over four hundred pages, but it's still incredibly hard to put down. It's the kind of novel that makes you want to call in sick, not get out of bed, and just continue to read until you get to that final page. The plot is exciting and intriguing from the very first page, and will hold on to the attention of the readers the entire way through. I can't think of a single scene that I didn't enjoy.

The characters of Exo are stunning achievements. Plenty of times, in novels, authors that make teenagers intelligent seem to forget that the characters are still, well, teenagers. This isn't the case with Cent. She may be brilliant, and know plenty, but she still reads as an authentic teenager. She has a wonderful voice and it's very easy to connect to her character. Still, I loved the point of views of Davy and Millie as well. There was a large enough difference in the voice to make the multiple perspectives work, and they offered a new insight into the work that was incredibly fun to read.
The best novels are the kinds that can suck you in, and this one definitely does just that. It has such a strong world, even though - thanks to the jumping - the setting changes quite often. Nonetheless, a place where this method of transportation is even possible is created, and it will have readers falling in love. If they haven't already.

Exo is very well-written, and will take readers on quite the jump themselves. It's a wonderful continuation to a series, and I couldn't get enough of it as a novel. A definite must-read.

STEVEN GOULD is the author of Jumper, Wildside, Helm, Blind Waves, Reflex, and Jumper: Griffin’s Story, as well as many short stories. He is the recipient of the Hal Clement Young Adult Award for Science Fiction and has been nominated for both the Hugo and the Nebula Awards. Gould lives in New Mexico with his wife, writer Laura J. Mixon, and their two daughters.

International. 13+

Cover Reveal: To Make a Witch by Heather Hamilton-Senter



To Make a Witch by Heather Hamilton-Senter
(Sword of Elements #1.5)
Publication date: October 1st 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult

At her old school, Lacey found herself on the wrong side of a conflict between Celtic gods. Making a new start in an exclusive boarding school in New Orleans, she hopes to forget that she was once on the verge of becoming a powerful witch—and everything she has lost since then.

When a gruesome murder occurs in the very heart of Westover Academy, Lacey senses a connection between it and the desecration of the tomb of Marie Laveau, the Voodoo queen. Haunted by a trauma in her past and the resulting OCD, Lacey must solve the mystery before she becomes the killer’s next target.

Circumstances beyond her control may once again make Lacey McInnis—cheerleader, scholar, and all-around good girl—a witch.


(no author photo)
Heather grew up in a family where books of myth and legend were used to teach the ABCs and Irish uncles still believed in fairies. Raised with tall tales, she has always told stories too- first as an actor and singer, then as a photographer, and now as a writer.

Heather lives in rural Ontario, Canada happily raising three children ranging in age from 6 to 18 with her biggest fan, her husband Steve.

Author links: 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Review- Anne Hawksmoor: Time in the Tower by K.C Harry

The life of a pre-teen is hard enough... but the bullies at ANNE HAWKSMOOR’s school make it even worse. Every day, Anne finds herself seeking refuge in the Chicago Public Library, burying herself in her favorite history, science, and math books... distant from all of her peers.

But while on a summer visit to her ancestral home in Greenwich,
England, Anne visits the Tower of London with her cousin Claire...only to find themselves trapped in the year 1548. With a young King Edward and his servant James, Anne and Claire must journey on an epic adventure to find a way home before they are stuck in the 16th century forever.

Note: This is a 3-part series in one book
My Rating
My Review
Anne Hawksmoor: Time in the Tower is a lovely middle grade/lower young adult novel that can appeal to a wide variety of tastes. I loved the combination of science fiction, fantasy and historical fiction. After all, there is just about everything you can ask for crossover genres of the sorts: time travel, kings and dragons. It's a fun, lighthearted adventure that makes for an equally enjoyable read.
The characters have many wonderful qualities, even if certain aspects are a bit stereotypical. I loved the interactions between them, and how everyone had their own strengths and weaknesses. At times, it felt like the dialogue and wisdom was a bit mature for their age, and I forgot how young they were, but that made an interesting development that added to their personalities.
I found the themes of Anne Hawksmoor: Time in the Tower to be absolutely brilliant. There are great messages that the characters learn from their adventure that will carry with them through the future. I'm sure that the same lessons will follow readers long after finishing the novel, and that's something pretty incredible.
The plot of the novel was both exciting and enchanting, and after reaching a certain point, I couldn't put it down. In fact, there were certain scenes that I would have liked to see more of, just because I enjoyed them so much. But I can't complain, not with the quick pacing of the read.
Anne Hawksmoor: Time in the Tower is thoroughly enjoyable, and I loved how magical of a read it was. I definitely would not mind to read more from these characters in the future, as I do believe that ending leaves for the possibility.