Friday, July 24, 2015

Review: Out of Time (Nine Minutes #2) by Beth Flynn

They thought with his execution it would all be over.  They were wrong.

The leader of one of South Florida’s most notorious and brutal motorcycle gangs has been put to death by lethal injection. Days later, his family and friends should have been picking up the pieces, moving on. Instead, they’ve been catapulted into a world so twisted and dangerous even the most ruthless among them would be stunned to discover the tangled web of deception, not only on the dangerous streets of South Florida but all the way to the top.

In this gripping follow-up novel to Nine Minutes, Out of Time takes readers from the sun-drenched flatlands of 1950s Central Florida to the vivid tropical heat of Fort Lauderdale to the halls of Florida’s Death Row as we finally learn the gritty backstory of Jason “Grizz” Talbot, the terrifying leader of Satan’s Army motorcycle gang, and the secret he spent his life trying to conceal.

Not even Grizz’s inner circle knows his full story—the tragedy that enveloped his early life, the surprise discovery that made him the government’s most wanted and most feared, and the depths of his love for Ginny, the tenderhearted innocent he’d once abducted and later made his wife.

Once Grizz’s obsession and now the mother of his child, Ginny has spent years grieving the man she’d first resisted and then came to love. Now remarried to Tommy, a former member of the gang, the pair have spent more than a decade trying desperately to live a normal existence far from the violent, crime-ridden world they’d once carved out on the edge of the Florida Everglades. For Tommy, especially, the stakes are high. Desperately in love with Ginny for years, he’s finally living his dream: married to the woman he never thought he could have. But even with the fa├žade of normalcy—thriving careers, two beautiful children, and a genuinely happy and loving marriage—they can’t seem to put the past behind them. Every time they turn around, another secret is revealed, unraveling the very bonds that hold them together.

And with Grizz finally put to death, now Ginny has learned secrets so dark, so evil she’s not even sure she can go on.

Will these secrets tear their love to pieces? And how far will Grizz go to protect what he still considers his, even from beyond the grave?
~My Review~

I originally read Nine Minutes back in November of 2014.  I was totally not expecting what I read, and I mean that in a good way.  So when it ended on a cliffhanger, I knew I was going to have to read book 2 when it came out.  I bought Out of Time the day after it released (I somehow missed the release day, but happen to get an email from another blogger that it had been released).  I started reading it as soon as it got delivered to my kindle, and I read until the very end.  I may have stayed up well past my bedtime just so I could keep reading.

I really liked this book, but at the same time, was so frustrated.  This story is on par with the first book, yet so different.  It's so unlike any other books I've read in the past, and that's a good thing...It's nice to switch things up once in a while.  While there was a lot of story that needed to be told (the book was 450 pages), it was done in a very interesting manner.  There was story told from Ginny and Tommy's point of view in present time (2000).  There was story told from Grizz's point of view as a child in the 1950's.  There was story told from Tommy's point of view as a child - before he came to the motel, while he was living there, and after he left.  And there was story told from Grizz's point of view as an adult, watching Ginny while she was still living at home before he took her to the Motel.  In essence, there was a ton going on and with the switch of storylines and point of views, we were able to get a lot of answers and a lot of new information.  

I liked that we were able to learn more about Grizz, his childhood, and see some the decisions that he made throughout his life.  I also loved reading about Grunt and his childhood.  I knew from Nine Minutes that he was in love with Ginny, but Out of Time really made me understand how he came to be in love with her.  And it was these stories that I think I liked the most about the book.

There was so much information in this book.  While Ginny was left out of a lot of information, as she learned different aspects of the past, we learned them too, and I really liked that.

Nine Minutes gave us a really good story that introduced us to all of the characters, and presented story with great conflict.  This book continued on what was built in the first story, it presented new conflict and resolution, and then it also presented a couple new story lines that we didn't know about in the first book, that have yet to be resolved.

I think one of the reasons that I was up in the air about this book was that while I really appreciated getting a lot of answers, I was frustrated by the addition of new story that was left on a cliffhanger.  While lots of my questions from Nine Minutes were answered in Out of Time, we were left with another cliffhanger and I may have just as many questions, if not more than before.  There were major plot twists written into this story, and I totally wasn't expecting them.  These plot twists created new information which essentially created the cliffhanger.  When I did finally get to the end, I was almost confused as to why these plot twists took place and things didn't just stay buried.  But I didn't realize there was going to be a third book to this series, so I'm sure there must be a good reason for these plot twists and I'm interested to see how everything moves forward.

At the end of the day, my frustrations aside, this was still an amazingly well written book with deep characters and an awesome story line.  I still enjoyed what I read and I can't wait for what is hopefully the final chapter.

Link to Goodreads 
Link to Kindle

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Review: Dream Man Series by Kristen Ashely


Mystery Man: Dream Man #1
Gwendolyn Kidd has met the man of her dreams. He's hot, he's sexy, and what started as a no-names-exchanged night of passion has blossomed into a year and a half-long pleasure fest. Sure, it's a little strange that he only appears in her bed at night, but Gwen is so sure he's the one, she just can't turn him away...

Hawk Delgado knows more about Gwen than she could ever imagine. She's gorgeous, headstrong, and skittish about relationships. But Hawk is facing his own demons, demons that keep him from connecting with anyone. Yet when Gwen is drawn into Denver's lethal underground scene, Hawk's protective nature comes out full force. The problem is, when Gwen gets a dose of Hawk's Alpha attitude in the daylight, she's not so sure he's the one anymore....

Wild Man: Dream Man #2
While filling the display case in her bakery, the bell over the door sounds and Tessa O'Hara looks up to see the man of her dreams. Within thirty seconds he asks her out for a beer. But after four months of dating, she discovers he's an undercover DEA agent-and he's investigating her possible role in her ex-husband's drug business. For Tess, this means their relationship is over.

Brock disagrees. He's committed to his anti-drug mission, but he's fallen in love with the beautiful woman who's as sweet as her cupcakes-and he'll do anything to win her back. Standing between Tess and Brock are their own exes, one of them a drug lord who's determined to get what he wants. Now as danger threatens, can Brock break the rules he's lived by and let loose his wild side to protect the woman he loves?

Law Man: Dream Man #3
Sweet, shy Mara Hanover is in love with her neighbor. For four years, she has secretly watched her dream man from afar. Handsome police detective Mitch Lawson is way out of her league. She's a girl from the wrong side of the tracks, and there's no way a guy like Mitch would want anything to do with her. But when Mara has a leaky faucet that she can't fix, it's Mitch who comes to her rescue.

Mitch has been eyeing his beautiful neighbor for a long time. He jumps at the chance to help her, and soon their formerly platonic relationship gets very hot and heavy. But when Mara gets a disturbing phone call from her cousin's kids, she gets pulled back into the life she's tried so hard to leave behind. Can the hot law man convince Mara to let go of her past-and build a future with him?

Motorcycle Man: Dream Man #4
Tyra Masters has had enough drama to last a lifetime. Now, she's back on track and looking forward to her new, quiet life. Until she meets the man of her dreams. The tattooed, muscled biker plies her with tequila-and the best sex of her life. She knows it isn't the tequila and hot sex talking. He's the kind of man she's always wanted. Unfortunately, he's also her new boss . . .

Kane "Tack" Allen has a rule. He doesn't employ someone he's slept with. So when he learns he spent last night in bed with his new office manager, he quickly fires Tyra. Yet when Tyra stands up to him and fights for her job, Tack is intrigued. He tells her she can keep her job on one condition: no more sex. Ever. But as things heat up between them, Tack finds that he'll be the one breaking all the rules...
~My Review~

I don't think I've hidden the fact that I love all books by Kristen Ashley.  After reading her Colorado Mountain Series, I decided that I should keep reading her other books.  I read Rock Chick, and while I liked it, I knew there were quite a few (like a ton) of other books in that series, and so I wanted to read a shorter series because I knew that I would have to devote quite a bit of time to the series.  Therefore, I went with the Dream Man Series, given that there were only four books in the series.  I'll be honest with you - I had seen Mystery Man pop up more times that I can count in my Goodreads Recommendations, but I always skipped right over it.  Honestly, I the reason I always skipped over it was because of the cover - a while back, the cover was a martini glass instead of a hot guy....And for some reason, it turned me off.  Well, shame on me!  

Consistent with her other books, these books are long.  They are all 500+ pages long, but I feel they still keep you interested and don't have any major lulls.  I never felt at any time that I wasn't to put the book down and read something different instead.  I loved all of the characters but I especially liked how they carry over from story to story, but not in a way that you absolutely need to have read one before the other.  But it is helpful.  I loved a lot of the auxiliary characters, and I loved how they often carried over, as well.  The ladies martini nights were always a hoot, and I loved the relationship between the girls.

I loved the relationship between the two main characters in each book.  I loved Gwen and Hawk.  Tess and Brock.  Mara and Mitch.  Tyra and Tack.  They all have very unique relationships, and I love how we're introduced to Brock, Mitch, and Tack in the first book - it's a great teaser of what's to come in each of the books.

While I loved the entire series, I did have a favorite among the bunch.  and if I rated the books individually, I would rate them as follows:

Mystery Man - ««««
Wild Man - «««««
Law Man - «««««
Motorcycle Man - ««««

I think I liked both Wild Man and Law Man better than Mystery and Motorcycle mainly because I liked Tess and Mara better than I liked Gwen and Tyra.  While I liked all the girls, I felt that I related more toward Tess and Mara.  Tess because of the bakery - while I don't have a bakery of my own, I do love to bake.  I bake at home for no reason, and I'm always showing up to a party or a family gathering with some kind of dessert.  I felt like that alone gave me a connection with Tess.  As for Mara, I think I related to her incredible shyness.  I would totally be the type of person who would crush on a guy from afar for months before plucking up the courage to talk to him.  And while my self-esteem issues are in no way rooted as deep as Mara's, I'm sure there would be similarities in our rating systems for who was worthy of dating me and who wasn't.  As for Gwen and Tyra - I liked them both, but at the same time I found them both a bit confrontational, and while that defined who they are, I just didn't relate as well with them.  But it doesn't mean that I didn't enjoy their stories.

As always, the characters are amazingly developed, and the stories and intricate and meaningful.  There was an aspect of suspense in all of the books, but I loved the way they were laid out and how the stories ended up playing out.  I loved how all the men were super Alpha Males who took charge of situations - Alpha Males who also happen to be in some kind of law enforcement is just so sexy. And I loved seeing these Alpha Males dote on the girls they were falling in love with, and how it shaped the story.  I also loved how in both Wild Man and Law Man, there were children involved.  I absolutely love reading books where there is a single father, or single mother and the man she's dating takes to her children.  It just makes the story that much more lovable.

The only thing that I really wasn't too enthused with was how there was mention to the 'Rock Chick' people as famous people who had books written about them.  Maybe because I haven't read that whole series yet it didn't make much sense to me, but I did think it was odd how those characters was sometimes referenced - it was almost like name dropping.  Weird, but it still didn't take away from any of the stories.

So, as this was the second complete series of Kristen Ashley books that I've completed, I think it's time to start reading the Rock Chick series.  She's definitely a favorite of mine and I'm excited to read more!

Dream Man Series - Goodreads

Mystery Man on Goodreads
Mystery Man via Kindle
Mystery Man via Nook

Wild Man on Goodreads
Wild Man via Kindle
Wild Man via Nook

Law Man on Goodreads
Law Man via Kindle
Law Man via Nook

Motorcycle Man on Goodreads
Motorcycle Man via Kindle
Motorcycle Man via Nook

Friday, June 19, 2015

Grey (Fifty Shades #4) by EL James

Christian Grey exercises control in all things; his world is neat, disciplined, and utterly empty—until the day that Anastasia Steele falls into his office, in a tangle of shapely limbs and tumbling brown hair. He tries to forget her, but instead is swept up in a storm of emotion he cannot comprehend and cannot resist. Unlike any woman he has known before, shy, unworldly Ana seems to see right through him—past the business prodigy and the penthouse lifestyle to Christian’s cold, wounded heart.

Will being with Ana dispel the horrors of his childhood that haunt Christian every night? Or will his dark sexual desires, his compulsion to control, and the self-loathing that fills his soul drive this girl away and destroy the fragile hope she offers him?
~My Review~

The deliciously anticipated book by E.L. James.  Grey.  Fifty Shades of Grey from Christian's point of view.  I'll admit that when she posted that this was coming out, I might have rolled my eyes. I wasn't sure what to think.  So many people were excited about the book, and while I did enjoy the trilogy, I still couldn't decide if I would read this book.  At the end of Fifty Shades Freed, we got a little glimpse into Christian's world when the first chapter of FSOG was translated into his POV.  And it was delicious.  So I decided that since I really liked that, I would take the plunge and read Grey.

I was disappointed.  I'm not going to lie.  That first chapter glimpse held so much promise - I loved seeing what Christian thought of the interview, the ways he would go about getting information (the background check), and what was going on.  However, what I really wasn't expecting was an exact replica of the first FSOG book just from another POV.  Every single scene was the same.  Every conversation, every email, every text between Ana and Christian seemed to have been copied from FSOG and pasted into Grey.  There was nothing original.  No new material.

I've read a lot of reviews.  I've seen that a lot of people loved the book and they didn't expect a whole new story.  But I can't agree with them.  I didn't expect a whole new story, but I really thought there would be better insight to Christian and what makes him tick.  It really wasn't until Ana broke up with him and left him (about 90% of the way through the book) that we finally get some insight.  We finally get some new story.  I felt that this small part of the book was the best part.  We finally get some understanding of what happened to Christian to make him the way he is.

Aside from the fact that there was no original material (everything was 'recycled,' as another reviewer said), what I really didn't like was how every single one of Christian's thoughts was spelled out whether we wanted to know or not.  It made him into a dreary, annoying fool who was just a bit annoying.  His internal monologue was almost as annoying as Ana's inner goddess.  The little thoughts that came after each scene, each conversation, was just annoying...It made it so that Christian was turned into a very simple human being instead of the amazingly smart and successful person that he's supposed to be.  It gave him Tarzan like qualities that doesn't do anything to build up his character.

It was even more surprising because in FSOG, while I thought the story was fun, I found Ana to be immature and somewhat annoying at times - but I chalked that up to the fact that she was a 21-year old recent college graduate.  However, Grey turned Christian into someone who I don't like, someone who is just as immature but in a different way.  It wasn't becoming, and while he has a boatload of issues that took him 90% of a 600 page book to get through, it just wasn't fun to read.

I hate giving negative reviews.  I hate taking a widely anticipated book and saying that I didn't enjoy it.  But the fact of the matter is that Grey is almost an exact replica of the original Fifty Shades of Grey.  With extremely little original material, I most often found myself bored and hoping something new would come along.  The last 10% of the book mildly redeemed the book, which is why I gave it two stars.  Unfortunately, this book just wasn't for me.

I'd like to quote another review that I found on Amazon.  I normally don't do this, but I really felt that what this reviewer wrote really hits home with Grey:  "What matters is is [sic] whether a re-used plot is fun to read or not.  And since this particular re-used plot wasn't fun to read, I'm obviously not going to give it a good review."

UPDATE:  There are 2 more things I would like to point out that I forgot about.  #1)  The blatant use of Google Maps.  Honestly:  I really couldn't give two hoots about which streets Christian is running and driving on.  Is it really necessary to be that specific??  We all know that you (James) live in England - how could you possibly be this familiar with the outlines of Seattle and Portland??  In the grand scheme of things, you promised a book that would give us more insight into Christian, and for the most part we just got a regurgitated story with very little new material.  We don't need the new material to be street names and running paths!  And #2)  Going along with the point that James is from England:  I had issues with the original FSOG Trilogy because of the clear uses of English English instead of American English and I found that it was even more pronounced in this book.  "I've not had sex before...." - NO!!  I haven't had sex before!  It's a difference of where to land the contraction, but it's also the difference of how Americans usually speak.  If you're going to write in first person in America, you need to write the way Americans would talk!  ::end rant::

Link to Goodreads 
Link to Kindle
Link to Nook

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Review: Kane (Slater Brothers #3) by LA Casey

Aideen Collins is a free spirit. She is outspoken and tough as nails, but she has to be after growing up in a house full of men. Family means everything to Aideen. Her family consists of her four brothers, her father, and her group of wild friends. Aideen is protective of her family, there is not a lot she wouldn’t do to keep them safe.

Kane Slater is a tortured soul. Literally. He is misunderstood by people, even feared by them thanks to the scars that mar his face and body. He relishes in their fear because people who fear you, won’t want to know you. He likes his circle limited to his brothers and their girlfriends, but a thorn from an Irish rose is dug deep into Kane’s side, and her name is Aideen Collins.

Aideen and Kane don’t get along… at all. Aideen is the only woman who stands up to Kane and throws his bullshit back at him without fear of hurting him. Kane is the only man who can see right through Aideen's tough exterior. He knows her deepest, and darkest secrets. They can’t stand each other, but they want each other. Badly. They hide their need behind arguments, and banter, but when Kane drops his guard for all to see, and succumbs to an illness within his body, it’s Aideen who steps up to the plate to take care of him.

An illness is the least of their worries when a devil from Kane’s past comes back to play with him. Everybody in Kane’s life is threatened, and with his body fighting against him, he doesn’t know if the luck of the Irish is enough to keep his family safe and his demons at bay.

Kane needs Aideen, and what Kane needs, Kane takes.
~My Review~

I'm pretty sure that I found the first Slater Brother's Book, Dominic, as a recommendation on Goodreads....Maybe over a year ago.  I remember really enjoying the book, despite the fact that the characters were still in high school (I was a little skeptical at first that they may be too young, but I was quickly proven wrong).  As time went on, I kept reading the new books that LA Casey was releasing.  The companion novella to Dominic, Bronagh, then Alec and Keela.  When I had the opportunity as a blogger to post a release day post promoting Kane, I decided to go for it!  I mean, why not?? 

As many of you know, I took a bit of a hiatus from reading and writing over the last couple months.  I don't know what it was but I think I had been impulsively reading so much that I just needed a little break.  A lot of what I was reading was just quick little finds that were really mediocre, and I didn't want to write about them because they really weren't great.  However, Kane was released today and I just had to go for it.  Kane is the first new book (new release, new for me) that I've read in a long time, and I'm happy to say that I really enjoyed it.

We learned a little bit about Kane in the previous books, but we generally knew very little about him.  I only ever knew that he was a tough guy  in the whole scene with Marco and he was thus covered in scars.  He may have been the bad boy, but he still seemed like a gentle and kind soul, even from the little information that we got from the previous books.  I really loved getting to know him in this book.  It picked up right where Keela left off, continuing with the girl's adventure with the pregnancy tests and Kane's collapse in the grocery store. We learned about his collapse and why it happened, and we got to see his and Aideen's relationship grow right from the beginning.  I knew a little bit about Aideen because she has been present, at least a little bit, in all of the books so far.  She is a sassy thing, and I really loved her.  Even though the entire book was written from Aideen's point of view, I felt like a good job was done in also presenting information about Kane.

I really liked the dynamic between Kane and Aideen.  I loved how they bickered and argued, and then how they finally were able to admit their attraction to each other.

There was a lot of conflict and resolution in this book.  There's the obvious trouble of Kane collapsing and them finally discovering what his illness is and the challenges to overcome it.  Then there are troubles from Kane's past that come to haunt him.  I like how everything came together with these troubles - I never felt like they came out of nowhere or were just there for the same of having conflict.  It ends on a mini cliffhanger - in that some things are resolved, but other things are not.  This obviously gives us some talking points for Aideen's novella.  I wish I could talk through the things that weren't involved, but by mentioned them I would totally give away so much about the book that I don't want to spoil.

As usual, all of the brothers and their girls have presence in this book.  I love them all, and it's interesting to see how their relationships are going.  I felt that quite a bit was built up between Ryder and Branna, so I'm excited for Ryder's book to see how that plays out.  I have my suspicious, but who knows.  I also liked the introduction to Aideen's family (all of her brothers), and while they had small roles in this book, they still brought a lot of entertainment.

I actually sent LA Casey an email today because a friend of mine and I were trying to figure out the timeline between the books.  I remember she had posted something at some point about the years between each book, but I can't remember when or where I read that.  So hopefully she points me in the right direction.  In this book, Dominic and Bronagh are about 23, so it is about 5 years after the first book, but I'm interested to see how much time will elapse between this book and Ryder & Branna's.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book.  I felt like it moved quickly, but there was never a time where I felt like things were moving too slow or too fast.  There was never a time where I felt like conflict was thrown in for no reason.  

I've really come to love the Slater Brothers series, and I honestly can't wait for Aideen's novella, as well as the rest of the books in the series!!

Link to Goodreads
Link to Kindle
Link to Nook