Audiobook Review: Hard Hitter (Brooklyn Bruisers #2) by Sarina Bowen

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Author: Sarina Bowen
Narrator(s): Nicol Zanzarella and Rock Engle
Publication Date: January 3, 2017
Format: Audiobook
Audiobook Length: 9 hours and 56 minutes
Page Length: 331 pages
My Rating: 2 / 5 stars

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SYNOPSIS

He’s a fighter in the rink, but he’s about to learn that playing nice can help you score… 

As team captain and enforcer, Patrick O’Doul puts the bruise in the Brooklyn Bruisers. But after years of hard hits, O’Doul is feeling the burn, both physically and mentally. He conceals his pain from his coach and trainers, but when his chronic hip injury becomes too obvious to ignore, they send him for sessions with the team’s massage therapist.

After breaking up with her long-term boyfriend, Ari Bettini is in need of peace of mind. For now, she’s decided to focus on her work: rehabilitating the Bruisers’ MVP. O’Doul is easy on the eyes, but his reaction to her touch is ice cold. Ari is determined to help O’Doul heal, but as the tension between them turns red hot, they both learn that a little TLC does the body good…

I feel like this series is just one of those, it’s-not-you-it’s-me kinda situations. I like the team, I like reading the hockey scenes. But the relationship in the book? I don’t know, you guys. I’m not really connecting with any of the characters while they’re the MCs. I liked O’Doul just fine in Rookie Move, but it’s almost like a step back reading his POV in this book?

I don’t know if maybe listening to the audiobook means that I feel differently about the characters than I otherwise would if I read the book as an e-book or in paperback first, since I’m just so-so on the male narrator’s take on the characters? Has that ever happened to you guys?

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Audiobook Review: Rookie Move (Brooklyn Bruisers #1) by Sarina Bowen

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Author: Sarina Bowen
Narrator(s): Nicol Zanzarella and Rock Engle
Publication Date: September 6, 2016
Format: Audiobook
Audiobook Length: 9 hours and 53 minutes
Page Length: 335 pages
My Rating: 2 / 5 stars

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SYNOPSIS

In high school they were the perfect couple—until the day Georgia left Leo in the cold… 

Hockey player Leo Trevi has spent the last six years trying to do two things: get over the girl who broke his heart, and succeed in the NHL. But on the first day he’s called up to the newly franchised Brooklyn Bruisers, Leo gets checked on both sides, first by the team’s coach—who has a long simmering grudge, and then by the Bruisers’ sexy, icy publicist—his former girlfriend Georgia Worthington.

Saying goodbye to Leo was one of the hardest things Georgia ever had to do—and saying hello again isn’t much easier. Georgia is determined to keep their relationship strictly professional, but when a press conference microphone catches Leo declaring his feelings for her, things get really personal, really fast….

I thought the story was just…okay? It was a good intro to the characters and the hockey team. I just felt like the story didn’t have anywhere to go after a certain point. I didn’t really connect with either the two MCs either, but what kept me reading was a certain other couple in the background that was hinted at for future books.

This story is about Georgia and Leo. Leo is a rookie getting his call into the NHL team, the Brooklyn Bruisers, who is still kinda new to the league, and Leo figures that this is it. It’s his calling into the big leagues. That is, until he finds out that the new coach is his ex-high school girlfriend’s dad, and the publicist on his new team is that ex-girlfriend. Georgia is suddenly promoted to be the head of publicity while there’s no one else to fill the spot for the new season, and the last thing she needs is for her job to get any harder. But her ex-boyfriend starting the Bruisers line is the last person she wants to see.

Trigger warnings: mentions of a rape that occurred before this story started.

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ARC Review: Pisces Hooks Taurus (Signs of Love #4) by Anyta Sunday

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Author: Anyta Sunday
Publication Date: October 16, 2018
Format: ARC
Page Length: 285 pages
My Rating:  5 / 5 stars

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SYNOPSIS

It’s a time for searching, and a time for finding, Pisces: keep casting your line and you will hook what you’re looking for.

Zane has it all planned out: land the perfect Meet Cute, fall in love, and live happily ever after.
Should be simple enough if he put his mind to it. A little creativity and some thinking outside of the box, and voila, he’d be married to the woman of his dreams.
It would be perfect.
And it would be before his visa ran out.

But why are his feelings running wild now that the pressure’s on? Why is his picture-perfect plan turning into a muddled mess of morphed metaphors he can’t make sense of anymore?

Just as well he’s met an English professor to help. And even though their first meet is anything but cute, this down-to-earth teacher may just be the realist Zane needs to ground him and give him a shot at love after all.

Don’t cast your line too wide, Pisces. Your perfect catch may already have bitten.

I had high expectations for this book. Like. Astronomically high. Why? I’m a pisces and I WAS SO EXCITED FOR THIS BOOK WHEN IT WAS ANNOUNCED. And guess what??? I LOVE THIS BOOK SO MUCH. ZANE AND BECKETT ARE EVERYTHING. This book just exceeds expectations and is the cutest, sweetest book EVER.

I really like Anyta Sunday’s Signs of Love series. This book though? It just blew me away. The author has a way of making me cry over the literal sweetest moments. I will reign in my all-caps screaming in this review, but know that I love this book a LOT.

This story features Zane, an artist from New Zealand who has everything planned out – he’s going to be fall in love, and fall in love hard. If he tries hard enough, he’ll get the love of his life, he’ll get his visa to stay in America, and he’ll have his happily ever after.

The downside to his plan? His enthusiasm and wanting to jump into a relationship so fast is scaring off potential partners.

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ARC Review: Criminal Intentions: “Changing Faces” (Season 1, Episode 4) by Cole McCade

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Author: Cole McCade
Publication Date: October 10, 2018
Format: ARC
Page Length: 185 pages
My Rating: 3 / 5 stars

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SYNOPSIS

With Malcolm on forced bed rest and off duty, Detective Seong-Jae Yoon faces his first solo case since joining the BPD–and it’s one that will challenge his morals, his sense of duty, and his insistence on adhering to the letter of the law, especially when his actions in the Bishop case leave him questioning his own integrity. When the supposedly accidental death of a husband and father points to foul play in the victim’s family, how close will Seong-Jae look to determine if the ends justify the means…and will he be able to live with the choices he makes?

Especially when his mind is as far from the case as possible, and lingering on Malcolm Khalaji, Malcolm’s ex-wife, and Seong-Jae’s own conflicted feelings?

I’m kind of bored, you guys.

I did read this book all in one sitting, but it just wasn’t all that interesting. I pretty much guessed who the murderer was after reading the prologue, so there just wasn’t much to keep me engaged except for Seong-Jae and Malcolm. And that was frustrating to read too, because they don’t really have that many scenes together in this book. Sure, they’re thinking about each other a lot, but that’s about it.

Malcolm is dealing with what happened at the end of The Man with the Glass Eye, and Seong-Jae is left handling a case on his own before flying off to LA to testify in court. I don’t know if you can even call it character development, because this book poses an ethics question for Seong-Jae. He’s forced to weigh the pros and cons and comes to a realization that being a detective isn’t as black and white as he wants it to be.

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Audiobook Review: Remember Tomorrow (Mnevermind #1-3 Collection) by Jordan Castillo Price

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Author: Jordan Casitllo Price
Narrator: Seth Clayton
Publication Date: September 18, 2018
Format: Audiobook
Audiobook Length: 18 hours and 45 minutes
Page Length: 482 pages
My Rating: 4 / 5 stars

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SYNOPSIS

When artificial memories are everywhere, how can you tell what’s real?

Daniel was a hotshot memorysmith, a major innovator in the field of recreational memories—until his father, Big Dan, suffered a freak persistent memory that sent their business into a tailspin. Now Daniel labors behind the scenes, seeking only to cure the persistent false memory and salvage their failing shop.

Elijah is the most talented mind in the memory industry, but because that mind is far from neurotypical, his potential is wasted teaching beginners at the mall. When his cobbled-together gear projects him into one of Daniel’s memory programs, a colorful but challenging relationship sparks to life.

The two men are an unlikely pair, but they have so much in common. Each is fiercely driven. Each is stunningly creative. And when Daniel and Elijah finally connect, each one realizes just how desperately he’s been searching for someone who truly understands him.

Most of all, they’re utterly committed to curing the persistent false memory. Daniel finally gives up his workaholic smokescreen. Elijah fends off the advice of everyone he trusts and joins forces with Daniel. Even Big Dan says he’s on board with their plan…but will he remember tomorrow?

This collection contains the novels The Persistence of Memory, Forget Me Not, and Life is Awesome. 

I never read these books separately while they were being released, so this review is going to be about all three novels that make up this collection. As a whole, I really liked the characters and I found the story intriguing and kept me hooked. The story is heart-wrenching and makes you feel like you want to wrap these characters in a soft blanket and give them hot chocolate.

However, I wasn’t a big fan of the ending. It seemed more like an afterthought cobbled together to give a resolution. It’s pretty disjointed from the rest of the story and feels incredibly rushed. Does the ending ruin the books for me? I would say, no. But, it does leave a lot to be desired.

I probably missed a few things since I listened to this on audio as opposed to reading this as text, but trigger warnings for this book include ableism, fat-shaming, homomisa, and harassment.

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Review: Mr. Big Empty (Hollow Folk #1) by Gregory Ashe

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Author: Gregory Ashe
Publication Date: January 17, 2017
Format: E-Book
Page Length: 381 pages
My Rating: 5 / 5 stars

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SYNOPSIS

Vie Eliot arrives in the small town of Vehpese, Wyoming with little more than the clothes–and scars–on his back. Determined to make a new life for himself after escaping his abusive mother, he finds that living with his estranged father brings its own problems.

Then Samantha Oates, the girl with blue hair, goes missing, and Vie might be the only one who can find her. His ability to read emotions and gain insight into other people’s darkest secrets makes him the perfect investigator, with only one small problem: he wants nothing to do with his gift.

When the killer begins contacting Vie through a series of strange cards, though, Vie is forced to hone his ability, because Samantha was not the killer’s only target.

And, as Vie learns, he is not the only psychic in town.

This is one of those unexpected books I just happened to read. I started off with the author’s Pretty Pretty Boys, but it just wasn’t my thing. I had liked the mystery aspect, but the relationship in that one was a bit troubling. I saw a review that pointed to this series instead, and I winded up liking this one a LOT. What I wasn’t expecting was that this is technically a YA series. The characters are high schoolers, so there’s not really any romance in this series, or at least, it’s not the focus when there’s so much other stuff happening.

This story is dark, grim, and intense. It’ll definitely keep you on your toes trying to figure out who’s behind the crimes. It’s a super fucked up story, but I really like it? It’s a weird feeling to have. I biggest issue with this book is that this is a recent self-pub and does not contain a content warning page, when it definitely needs one. There’s a LOT of triggering content in this story.

Trigger warnings include suicidal thoughts, attempted suicide, physical abuse, emotional abuse, drug use, a kid getting shot, kidnapping, and homomisia. There’s also two murders of high school girls and an underage relationship mentioned in passing.

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Review: Strays by A.J. Thomas

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Author: A.J. Thomas
Publication Date: September 25, 2018
Format: E-Book
Page Length: 210 pages
My Rating: 2 / 5 stars

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SYNOPSIS

Orphaned at a young age and raised in the foster system, Jory Smith has no idea he’s half incubus. He only knows he has the power to heal people, making himself sick in the process. Exploited by a crooked faith healer who sells his abilities and his life to the highest bidder and then left for dead, Jory flees, falling into a job at a small-town café where he can put his lifelong obsession with baking to good use.

But the minister who exploited him wants him back.

Exiled hellhound-turned–bounty hunter Malpheus Pelle has no idea why his human client wants him to track down an incubus. Jory is traumatized and afraid to touch anyone, an emotional handicap that could prove fatal for a demon who requires physical contact. Needing answers, Mal concocts a disastrous plan: pretend to date Jory to uncover the truth. Unfortunately, his plan never included dealing with an ancient demon assassin, Jory’s orgasmic pumpkin cookies, or losing his heart to the incubus he’s supposed to be hunting….

This book has a stunning cover, but I’m afraid the story is a disappointment. A.J. Thomas is a new-to-me author, and I’m not sure I’m tempted to read another book by this author after reading Strays. This book is the author’s first PNR, and it shows. I’m used to reading ARCs and knowing that books aren’t complete when I do read them, but I read a final copy of Strays, and it just feels like a few more rounds of editing for this book were sorely needed.

The premise of this story is interesting, and based off the blurb, it seems like the story would be slightly dark in the beginning, and then lighten up to be a cute rom-com (even with a demon assassin in the mix). Unfortunately, this book never really finds the right tone to settle on, and winds up drifting aimlessly between being too serious and then lighthearted fun with no warning.

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September 2018 Wrap-Up

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Hello, lovelies! Can you guys believe that it’s almost October? Where has the year gone??? Well, I didn’t get a chance to read all that many books this month because I was out of town for a week for a vacation up in Vancouver, and then I spent a weekend in Austin of Wizard Wizard Comic Con. It’s been a very busy month, so that’s why I’ve been kinda quiet on the blog. All pictures and reviews below the cut! ❤ I hope you guys are having a wonderful weekend!

GOODREADS 2018 CHALLENGE UPDATE

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Review: All Kinds of Tied Down (Marshals #1) by Mary Calmes

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Author: Mary Calmes
Publication Date: July 4, 2014
Format: E-Book
Page Length: 290 pages
My Rating: 3 / 5 stars

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SYNOPSIS

Deputy US Marshal Miro Jones has a reputation for being calm and collected under fire. These traits serve him well with his hotshot partner, Ian Doyle, the kind of guy who can start a fight in an empty room. In the past three years of their life-and-death job, they’ve gone from strangers to professional coworkers to devoted teammates and best friends. Miro’s cultivated blind faith in the man who has his back… faith and something more.

As a marshal and a soldier, Ian’s expected to lead. But the power and control that brings Ian success and fulfillment in the field isn’t working anywhere else. Ian’s always resisted all kinds of tied down, but having no home—and no one to come home to—is slowly eating him up inside. Over time, Ian has grudgingly accepted that going anywhere without his partner simply doesn’t work. Now Miro just has to convince him that getting tangled up in heartstrings isn’t being tied down at all.

I know people love this series, but I just wasn’t really what I wanted from a romantic suspense. Maybe I made the mistake of starting a Mary Calmes book too far back into her backlist and should have started with a more recent publication, because nothing really hooked me into the story. I had previously set this aside at 12% before finally picking it back up again while I was on a romantic suspense reading binge, but even then, I’m not quite loving the plot or the characters. I didn’t hate any of it, but it was just okay for me.

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ARC Review: One-Eyed Royals (Seven of Spades #4) by Cordelia Kingsbridge

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Author: Cordelia Kingsbridge
Publication Date: September 10, 2018
Format: ARC
Page Length: 366 pages
My Rating: 5 / 5 stars

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SYNOPSIS

Spoiler Alert! The following blurb contains spoilers for Cash Plays, book three of Seven of Spades.

Shattered by their devastating breakup, Detective Levi Abrams and PI Dominic Russo find themselves at war right when they need each other most. While Dominic is trapped in a vicious cycle of addiction, Levi despairs of ever catching the Seven of Spades. The ruthless vigilante’s body count continues to climb, and it’s all Levi can do to keep up with the carnage.

When Levi’s and Dominic’s paths keep crossing in the investigation of a kidnapping ring with a taste for mutilation, it feels like history repeating itself. Thrown together by fate once again, they reluctantly join forces in their hunt for   the mastermind behind the abductions.

But the Seven of Spades hates sharing the spotlight, and they have an ace in the hole: a new batch of victims with a special connection to Levi. Their murders send shockwaves through Las Vegas and change the rules of the game forever.

The Seven of Spades has upped the ante. If Levi and Dominic don’t play their cards right, they’ll end up losing everything.

This book was a LOT. I wouldn’t say the book ends in a cliffhanger like the previous books, but it certainly leaves you wanting and ready for some ACTION. My emotions were all over the place when I read this and I just felt so overwhelmed by everything. It’s the next-to-the-last book and everything is just building up to the big reveal (in book five). I’ve waited to write this review in a chance to gather my thoughts, but NOPE. I still don’t really know what to say about this book, guys. I finished the book in one sitting because I was obsessed and couldn’t put it down. This series just puts me into a romantic suspense reading mood every time I read a book from the series and nothing compares.

SPOILERS AHEAD.

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