What He Doesn’t Know

What He Doesn’t Know by Kandi Steiner

4 stars! 

Many of you who follow my reviews should know by now my reading tastes fall under ANGST. Anything angst, I gobble it up!

So when Kandi Steiner, an amazing author known for ANGST, releases a duet that revolves around a love triangle, you bet your ass I was ALL OVER THAT SHIT.

I bought the book right away, there was only one problem: the second book wasn’t out yet. So, I sat on my ass and waited to start the first book until the second one was out. And I made it… almost. I made sure to preorder the second book so it would hit my kindle at 9pm (thank you PST) and I wouldn’t have to wait.

Well now it’s 11:30 pm, I have work tomorrow and I am DYING to start the second book! Clearly I didn’t think this through.

What He Doesn’t Know is about Charlie, a woman in a broken marriage who has lost herself. When a childhood friend and love Reese, returns to town and begins teaching at the same school she does, feelings are bound to blossom. But Charlie is torn, because despite everything, she loves her husband. But Reese may be the only one to turn Charlie back into the woman she was.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, Kandi Steiner is an author I am always meaning to read more of. This book hit the spot perfectly in terms of reading mood and angst. I have my favorite guy, but I don’t want to say anything because I am worried he will not be picked. I desperately want to peek at the end of book 2 but also don’t want to cheat, so we will see how long I’ll last, shall we?

Anyways, both books are out now, so if you are intrigued go ahead and one click. There’s nothing to be scared of as they are both available and no waiting!

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Pestilence

Pestilence by Laura Thalassa

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH 

ALL THE STARS! 

In a totally random and weird review, I will be using gifs from the movie Elf to express ALL THE FEELINGS!

So me about Laura Thalassa all the time:

Which will probably lead to this:

Anyways… from the moment I saw the cover reveal for Pestilence, I was DYING (get it?) to get my grubby hands on a copy of this book. I preordered and everything, which I rarely ever do. Then once it hit my kindle I couldn’t put it down (except for sleep. Stupid stupid sleep).

Here’s what I was like reading the book:

And I loved it so much! My first 5 star book in over a month!

This is about Sara, a young firefighter who attempts to kill Pestilence when he comes to her town. BUT, he cannot be killed. So Pestilence takes Sara captive in order to make her suffer. Over time Sara finds herself conflicted because of the horrible things he does, but she cannot help but see another side to the horseman. The question is, can he ever change and go against his nature?

Laura writes the best new adult fantasy/dystopia novels. I get completely sucked into her world building, her characters and her stories. I demand more of my book friends read her books!!! Seriously, you won’t regret it.

And now, to wait for the next book….. le sigh.

Also, here’s one more gif just cause:

High Voltage

High Voltage by Karen Marie Moning

WARNING! GIF HEAVY REVIEW!

4.25 stars 

First off, all you Dani haters….

That being said, I am still supremely PISSED that because of all the Dani backlash after Iced we never got the story that KMM meant to tell. I won’t even rehash that terrible BOOK thing that happened in Feversong with Mac.

We could have had SO. MUCH. MORE.

Anyways, enough of me being crazy. Dani is probably my favorite of the female characters that KMM has written. I mean a strong, confident woman who fears a guy that could rip her heart to shreds? Let’s just condemn her as annoying why don’t we? Okay, I’ll stop now I promise.

This story revolves around Dani being practically left alone for a few years after the events of the last book. New threats come along and pretty soon no one can help Dani, not even Ryodan. This book gets all the stars just for those angst filled moments between him and Dani, and all of the verbal sparring moments between them as well. KMM has a very unique and creepy imagination and I can honestly say I would never want to live in her head. I do hope we get more of Dani and Ryodan in the future. I am even wildly hoping for a Lor book. Can that be a thing please????

Anyways, if you don’t hate Dani (and are basically awesome) you will enjoy this book. It’s like KMM threw us Dani/Ryodan lovers a bone and it’s one I’ll gladly accept.

Under Locke

Under Locke by Mariana Zapata

3.5 stars 

“You’ve gotta be the best thing I never knew I wanted.” 

This is the story of Iris, broke and living with her brother, she takes a job at a tattoo parlor. Unfortunately her new boss is a total jerk. She just has to work there long enough to get another job elsewhere….

“Babe, I’ve handpicked everythin’ and everyone in here. I know what I want and I get what I want,” he breathed. “And I keep what’s mine.” 

The first half of this book I really enjoyed, the second half got a little bit boring for me and could have been edited down in my opinion. I love Zapata’s books but this is probably my least favorite of the ones I’ve read by her. It’s like pizza though, even if it’s not great it’s still good.

On Hart’s Boardwalk

On Hart’s Boardwalk by Samantha Young

4 stars! 

“By the end of this vacation you’ll never doubt my love for you again.” 

This is a novella that depicts the couple from Before Jamaica Lane about fourteen years later. Nate and Liv have a happy life with two beautiful kids, but while they love each other, Liv feels disconnected from Nate. When he discovers this, he whisks Liv away to the small seaside town in Hartwell, Delaware hoping time for the two of them will bring them back together.

“I can’t lose you, babe. You’d take my soul with you.” 

Nate and Liv are my favorite couple from this series, in fact Before Jamaica Lane is one of my all time favorite books EVER so I jumped on the chance to revisit this couple. I really enjoyed this sweet (with a hint of angsty) story between a couple who loves each other, but seems to have lost their way.

Young did a really good job combining her series, I’ve read the Hart’s Boardwalk books but I feel someone who hasn’t could easily fall into this book, nothing is confusing and the writing style makes reading it effortless. I did get really confused on the timelines, because if this is 14 years later (2013+14=2027) and yet it takes place at the same time as the other series (2017) it doesn’t make any sense. I know I should let it go, but it is something that bothered me a bit when I was reading it. I can’t help it lol.

If you read this, you will fall in love with Nate and Liv all over again. Seriously, look up relationship goals and you’ll just see their names in the dictionary.

Also, can we PLEASE get Emery’s book? I’ve been dying for it ever since The One Real Thing and the wait is killing meh!

“I don’t need to walk this boardwalk with my hand in yours to know we’ll last forever, Liv. I know we’ll last forever because I’m never letting you go.” 

ARC provided by the publisher via netgalley. All/any quotes in this review came from an advance unedited copy and may be subject to change in the final product. 

Diversity in the Romance Publishing Market: What YOU can do to help it grow

Hey all!

This is an opinion piece. I normally don’t publish more than reviews on my blog, but I felt this needed to be said. In the last few years I’ve seen a large push for more diverse books and authors in the market and yet, we still don’t have a lot. In this post, I will be addressing the romance genre, but know what I say here I feel can be applied to all genres.

First off, check out this report from the women who run The Ripped Bodice, a bookstore in LA, compiled and wrote. Link to their report here.  If you don’t feel like reading the entire report, I’ll paraphrase. Romance publishers are barely publishing titles with diverse characters or books written by people of color, in fact some of them published even less in 2017 than the year before.

Here are two infographics from their report (photo credit to The Ripped Bodice).

It is astonishing to me that we are still in such low numbers!!!

What I want to address now is what YOU as a consumer can do to change this.

1) Publishers are a business, they publish what they think will SELL. It is our responsibility as the customer and the consumer to purchase books with diverse characters or written by people of color in order to show that yes, this is a profitable endeavor. BUY THE DANG BOOK! In my opinion, this is the BEST strategy to show those in charge that these are the stories we want to hear and the ones that matter to us! Create a demand for this product!

2) If you’ve read and loved a book with diverse characters or written by a person of color, LEAVE A REVIEW. The book world in general always talks about the importance of reviews for book sales (but more in context of authors making sales). So why not take advantage and make it public that you enjoyed what you read and you want more of the same? This creates even more proof on top of sales that there is a demand for these books and these stories.

3) If you don’t have a lot of spare change to buy these books or are on a budget, go to your public library and suggest a purchase! Many public libraries have this option already available on their website. If they know that you, the patron, wants to read these materials, they will most likely purchase them, leading back to my first point!

4) The power of social media: share on the social media pages of publishers and authors you want these books! Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter, Instagram, and more! In fact, email the publisher yourself and tell them what you want to see more of. This way they know directly from the source what readers want.

I’m not saying that this is the one true answer or solution to getting books with more diverse characters or more authors of color published in the future. In fact, I personally need to buy more of these books and broaden what I’m reading. I’m just offering up a suggestion of what you can do to contribute if you really want to see change. I also believe that it is our responsibility as readers and customers to buy and share these books and stories with others.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, unless we demand these stories, I fear they will not just be given to us by the publishing gods. We need to ask for them, purchase them, and share them with the world. That’s the only way I can see change happening in the publishing world, and not just with romance publishers.

Thanks for reading my opinion! And thanks to The Ripped Bodice for their research and report that influenced this post.

 

Rock Chick Revenge

Rock Chick Revenge by Kristen Ashley

4 stars! 

“He isn’t my man.”
“Girl, it don’t matter you don’t think he is, he thinks he is. Therefore in Badass Motherfucker Land, that means he is.” 

This is a book that truly surprised me with how much I enjoyed it. 26% in or so I thought the hero was a bit rapey, but then it got so so good and I ended up loving Luke.

Rock Chick Revenge is about former “fatty” (as she put in her own words) Ava who goes to an old friend Luke with a problem her best friend is having. Right away Luke is more than happy to reunite, in fact he all but abducts Ava into his life.

“I’m not stupid, I know your heart’s involved in this and I’ve never, not once in all the time you’ve known me, given you the idea that I won’t handle it with care.” 

My weakness with romance is an insecure heroine and angst. This book had heaps of both so I thoroughly enjoyed it. I loved Ava and her journey, how she didn’t just give in to Luke and believed everything right away. Their relationship took work and Luke was willing to put in the time.

I also thought this book was funny as hell and almost no one pissed me off which is a miracle cause with this series, normally someone is pissing me off. I got frustrated at some times with how Luke treated Ava, but later he more than made up for it and I ended up loving him. Even if he was a little bit rapey.

I think I’m off to binge what’s left of KA’s back list. I don’t wanna run out but her books are hitting the spot!!!

“Ava, you missed it when it happened so I’ll clue you in. Last night, around the time you fell asleep against me, you became mine.” 

The Nature of Cruelty

The Nature of Cruelty by LH Cosway

4 stars! 

“Cruelty is easy, and it breeds only misery. Kindness is harder, and you have to be brave to give it.” 

When Lana was a young girl she fell in love with her best friends brother, Robert. Very quickly, those feelings went away when Robert began to torment her, calling her names and saying cruel things.

Now Lana is an adult and hasn’t seen Robert in six years, much to her relief. But when she moves in with her best friend for the summer, it turns out Robert will be there too. Except Robert seems different now and appears to want to make amends with Lana. But can Lana let go of the past and forgive Robert for all his wrongs against her?

“Sometimes you can be so deeply wrapped up in a person that the only way to deal with it is to use cruelty to push them away.” 

This is a Cosway book I’ve always been meaning to read and never got to. Lots of mixed reviews on this book, but Cosway has never let me down before and I decided to give it a try. I really loved the first 75% of this book! Lana’s struggles with trying to trust Robert and his intentions but also so wary, it made for a great emotional ride. In turn I loved seeing Robert try his hardest to show he changed and explain his past actions. To me, this was similar to Bully by Penelope Douglas, but I felt this hero had better justifications for his actions and he didn’t fill me with rage the majority of the book. Robert was apologetic, he wasn’t perfect but he tried to be good.

I felt the ending or last 25% of the book could have been much more developed, it felt a little in the wind in terms of story and the finish kind of came and went. The issues these characters had needed more work than what I as a reader saw, and I felt an epilogue could have helped with that.

This is a wonderful story, and one I enjoyed in the middle of a gigantic life book slump. Cosway is an author whose writing I just connect with and I always fear I will run out of books by her to read for the first time. You savor her works, not rush through them.

“Nothing worth having is easy. The same goes for people. The ones who take cold, hard guts to get inside of are the most worthy of all. The ones you have to fight for. 

Marriage of Inconvenience

Marriage of Inconvenience by Penny Reid

4 stars 

“This isn’t a movie. Sorry, but I do not believe people just get married to protect themselves from greedy family members’ nefarious scheming.” 

When her pharma-bro cousin tries to take legal action over her life, Kat must turn to a friend for marriage right away to escape his evil grasp. When she asks her friend Dan, he’s happy to help her with her situation.

I wish I could say more than that, but anything else is much too spoilery.

“It doesn’t seem fair. I’m asking so much of you, and you get nothing out of this.” 

This is the book that all of Penny Reid’s fans have been waiting for and it’s here! There were swoony parts, funny parts, sexy parts and frustrating parts. But it all made up an excellent romance novel that many readers will thoroughly enjoy.

I liked that we finally got to see Kat and Dan’s perspective, after so many books before where we saw the perspectives of the other characters in the Knitting series. I think this book did a good job of clarifying what took so long for these two to get moving with their romance (I mean seriously it was like a 3 year slow burn or something).

I really liked Kat as a heroine, she’s not perfect and while she strives to be, she also knows she’s made mistakes and tried to own up for them along the way. Because of her past some things aren’t what she’s used to but with a little love that could all change. Dan was a great hero, with all the handsome and broody aspects he was there for Kat and was exactly what she needed.

I do wish this book had been a tad bit angstier, but that’s just me and my angst whore preferences. Reid is excellent at dishing out the angst and I had my spoon ready to eat it up. There were also parts of the book where I couldn’t tell if some things the characters said were their own opinions and not the author’s opinion, and that took me out of the story a bit. It felt a little preachy and that’s not something I enjoy in my romance/escape reading.

Overall a really solid novel and as I said before I think all of Penny Reid’s fans will love this story. Now I just have to impatiently wait until Billy’s novel in the Winston Brothers series is here!

“Trust me that I want every part of you.”
“What if parts of me are messy? Or ugly?”
“Parts of you are ugly and messy. I still want you. I want the ugly and the beautiful and everything in between. You don’t pick and choose the parts of a person you want.” 

ARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review. All/any quotes in this review came from an advance unedited copy and may be subject to change in the final product.