Thursday, September 12, 2019

Review: The Liar's Daughter - Megan Cooley Peterson

The Liar's Daughter
by Megan Cooley Peterson
Published: September 10, 2019 by Holiday House
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Fiction, Cult

Piper was raised in a cult.
She just doesn't know it.

Seventeen-year-old Piper knows that Father is a Prophet. Infallible. The chosen one.

She would do anything for Father. That's why she takes care of all her little sisters. That's why she runs end-of-the-world drills. That's why she never asks questions. Because Father knows best.

Until the day he doesn't. Until the day the government raids the compound and separates Piper from her siblings, from Mother, from the Aunts, from all of Father's followers--even from Caspian, the boy she loves.

Now Piper is living Outside. Among Them.

With a woman They claim is her real mother--a woman They say Father stole her from.

But Piper knows better. And Piper is going to escape.


Review
4 Stars
Piper knows her father is the Chosen One. He is a Prophet that is hoping to protect the people from the Government, from the poisonous food, from the radiation of cell phones. Living with the other children far from the community, Piper helps manage the other children and run end-of-the-world drills, preparing herself and the others for the day when they will be called upon. Only, that day doesn't come and Piper's father might not be telling the truth, because the Government has broken apart the community and Piper finds herself in a strange house, with a strange woman they say is her real mother, and with no idea what has happened to her siblings or the boy she loves. Ripped from the life she knows, Piper grapples with what she believes is the truth and the story she is being told, that she had been kidnapped and that everything she once knew was a lie.

Told from Piper's perspective, The Liar's Daughter alternates between past and present, giving readers a glimpse into life before and after the cult. Rather than focusing on the cult itself, something many authors do, Megan Cooley Peterson gives us only the perspective of one teen, Piper. We understand the beliefs as she understands them, we know her terror and concern about being separated from her family, and we feel just as she does when the kidnapping blow is delivered to her. Piper isn't the most likable character, her childhood upbringing and her family's manipulative beliefs have shaped her and she lacks the childlike, scared quality we expect of a kidnap victim. She instead plans, provokes, or dissociates, bringing a fierceness to her that felt realistic to me. She is a steadfast believer in her father, it is only through time that Piper begins to face the real truth. Jeannine, the woman who has taken her in for the Government as Piper believes, is really her mother and the interactions she has with Piper are so powerful. It is an incredible testament of the love and devotion a mother has for a child.

Megan Cooley Peterson does an incredible job of telling the harrowing story of Piper as she transitions into a life post-cult. The conditioning, the adjustment to life outside the community, and the frightening moments of Piper grappling with what is real and what is not, all bring a touch of realism to this emotional story. A tad on the predictable side, at least for this cult-book fan, The Liar's Daughter is a suspenseful and fascinating young adult read.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Review: Finding the Way Back - Brittney Sahin

Finding the Way Back
(Stealth Ops #5)
by Brittney Sahin
Published: August 29, 2019
Genre: Romantic Suspense, Military, Contemporary

Years ago, he chose duty over love. He's not sure if he can do it again.

Charlie "Knox" Bennett traded medical school for the Navy and never looked back. After almost eight years of working top-secret missions for the commander in chief, Knox's greatest regret is lying to his best friend. But when his father decides to make a run for the White House, and with the fate of his team resting in the hands of the future president . . . the truth threatens to come out.

Following in her mother's footsteps to serve and protect, Adriana Foster joined the Secret Service, never expecting one day she'd be assigned as detail to her best friend's father. After twenty years of keeping her true feelings hidden from Knox, will working together finally be what pushes them out of the friend-zone?

As Adriana and Knox track down the shooter who attempted to assassinate his father, they soon realize they're not the only ones who have been harboring secrets. With both his family and a teammate in grave danger--can Knox make the tough choice of putting everything on the line, even if that includes Adriana?

In what could be Knox's final mission, he may win the battle, but he could lose his heart.

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Review
5 Stars
A slow-burn, friends-to-lovers read with all the action-packed suspense you could want from a military romance novel. Finding the Way Back has been my most anticipated release from Brittney Sahin since the moment we met Knox in the Stealth Ops series. As the son of a senator, and Presidential candidate, Knox knows what the spotlight is like, but he's avoided it for years both while he was in the Navy and now as a member of Scott and Scott Security. When an attack against his parents is attempted Knox knows he has to come out of the shadows and protect his family, despite their lack of support over the years. What he doesn't plan for is his best friend, Adriana, a Secret Service member to be there too, willingly putting herself in the line of fire. He's harbored love for Adriana for so long, since their first kiss as teens, but seeing her in action and watching her put herself into danger makes him finally realize he can't keep it a secret any longer. The opportunity to protect the Senator is one Adriana can't say no to, even if she'll have to put her feelings for Knox and his family to the side for a time. The threat against the Bennett family is serious though and as Knox's team and Secret Service are pulled into a deadly game of cat and mouse Knox and Adriana are forced to face their feelings.

"It was a way to keep her guard up, and he knew it. He hated it. And he wanted to tear it the hell down."

I have been dying for Knox's book, this man has been my favorite from day one. He's giving, honest, and has a good head on his shoulders, plus he's attractive just like all the Stealth Ops men. What I loved the most was how unselfish he has been, willingly putting himself into danger in order to protect his men and the women in their lives. Of course, he's also the obnoxious guy with a female best friend he's uber protective over, but we all knew that couldn't last. These two have smoking hot chemistry and I've just been biding my time, waiting for it to bubble over. Adriana is a tough as nails woman, having lost her mother at a young age and setting her sights on completing her mother's dream of being in the Secret Service. I love her determination, I am obsessed with their friendship, and I cannot get over how this slow burn romance EXPLODED on the pages.

"'Who the hell are you guys? And for real.' She could no longer hold back. After seven years, se needed answers."

Finding the Way Back is the slowest paced of Brittney's novel and yet the suspense and action is non-stop. I didn't even realize we hadn't gotten to the heat of their lust until halfway in, because I was so distracted by the fast-paced mission Knox and Adriana found themselves working together on. For me, this book was such a win, because we got to see a different side to all of the Stealth Ops team. Loyalty was such a big part of this book and watching the team fold Adriana into their own was just amazing, it was the key to unlocking Knox's future. However, it was impossible to predict if these two would finally get their happily ever after, that's how intense the action is. So many what ifs tumbled from my mouth while reading, but I can happily report that Brittney Sahin manages to mix the romance into the action and suspense perfectly. I got the book I dreamed of reading about and Knox, he's still my number one for sure, but now I'll willingly share him with Adriana.

"She matched his pace, but in truth, she was hanging on to the edge."

Brittney Sahin hits it out of the park again with Stealth Ops #5, Finding the Way Back. This series, its characters, have evolved and changed overtime and I love that Brittney found a way to make each book a standalone yet still tie in all the other characters. The Stealth Ops men are my favorite military characters ever and I happen to love Military Suspense reads, it's a high honor. This book, like the previous in the series, feels authentic and there's a perfect mix of mission and romance in the story. Add this well-written, engaging romance read to your list, trust me, it's a must.

About Brittney Sahin
Brittney Sahin began writing at an early age, with the dream to be a published author before the age of 18. Although academic pursuits (and, later, a teaching career) interrupted her aspirations, she never stopped writing–never stopped imagining.

It wasn’t until her students encouraged her to follow her dreams that Brittney said goodbye to Upstate New York in order to start a new adventure in the place she was raised: Charlotte, North Carolina. Here, she decided to take her students’ advice and begin to write again.

In 2015, she published her first novel, The Safe Bet. When she is not working on upcoming novels, she spends time with her family. She is a proud mother of two boys, and a lover of suspense novels, coffee, and the outdoors.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Review: Broken Knight - L.J. Shen

Broken Knight
(All Saints High #2)
by L.J. Shen
Published: August 18, 2019
Genre: Romance, Contemporary, New Adult

Not all love stories are written the same way. Ours had torn chapters, missing paragraphs, and a bittersweet ending.

Luna Rexroth is everyone’s favorite wallflower.

Sweet.
Caring.
Charitable.
Quiet.
Fake.
Underneath the meek, tomboy exterior everyone loves (yet pities) is a girl who knows exactly what, and who, she wants—namely, the boy from the treehouse who taught her how to curse in sign language.
Who taught her how to laugh.
To live.
To love.
Knight Cole is everyone’s favorite football hero.
Gorgeous.
Athletic.
Rugged.
Popular.
Liar.

This daredevil hell-raiser could knock you up with his gaze alone, but he only has eyes for the girl across the street: Luna.

But Luna is not who she used to be. She doesn’t need his protection anymore.
When life throws a curveball at All Saints’ golden boy, he’s forced to realize not all knights are heroes.

Sometimes, the greatest love stories flourish in tragedy.
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Review
4 stars

I'm kicking off this review by sharing that Broken Knight took me out of my book slump within the first 15% of the novel. I had struggled for two weeks to read anything, starting and stopping books like it was my job, but this book, this book stuck. I already knew I loved Knight's parents and we all remember little Luna, but slumps are hard and I didn't know upon opening the pages of this novel that I'd be pulled back into the All Saints High world so quickly. Every character's face, personalities, their stories, came rushing back to me. L.J Shen has created a world that is impossible to forget and in this case, felt like a place I was coming home to.

“There were two Knight Coles. One was mine. The other was everyone else's.”

Like the previous novels in this series and the Sinners of Saint series, Broken Knight takes us into the world of teens Knight and Luna, best friends from the wealthy Todos Santos neighborhood in California. They are surrounded by money, the guys in Knight's friendship circle are treated like Gods, and mute Luna escapes social torture due to her role as Knight's closest confidante. Their high school experience features similarities to our own and in other ways is vastly different. The alcohol, the drugs, the sex, and the unique parenting styles done by our favorite sinners have these teens growing up so quickly. Luna and Knight have been friends forever, but this isn't a story of their friendship, Broken Knight is the story of their falling. Falling out of friendship and falling into love, lust, something, all while denying each other their honesty.

“'Moonshine,' he whispered. 'You fill up the empty, dark space—like the moon owns the sky. It is quiet. It is bright. It doesn’t need to be a ball of flame to be noticed. It simply exists. It forever glows.'”

Oh my word, the relationship between these two is a wild one. It's all smooth sailing and then a ginormous wave crashes over them and at various times each is caught in the undertow. The love they have for one another is as deep as the ocean they visit, but it's equally as dark. Fraught with tension and a lifetime of half truths, Broken Knight finds Knight Cole and Luna Rexroth grappling with the realities of growing up. Knight's mother's health is failing, Luna is forced to find strength in herself, and together or apart, the two must finally face their long buried feelings. At times it was hard to continue reading, I did cry (are you surprised) quite a bit, but I also found myself so angry, matching the emotions of the characters. The push and pull in this novel can be overwhelming and admittedly takes this novel into a different territory than the previous associated novels did for me. It was difficult to see light at the end, L.J. Shen really outdid herself with the angst this time, but just like every mountain you overcome, Broken Knight gives readers a beautiful peak at the top.

"'Baby'
'Don't baby me. I'm not your home. People don't ruin their homes; they build them. They cherish them.'"

Broken Knight is a passionate, volatile story about love and loss, an intense friends-to-lovers romance that will have you reading well into the night to finish. L.J. Shen takes readers on a tumultuous journey that at times was so heavy and at others as bright as a rainbow in the sky. If you're looking for your next emotional romance read, this is it, no need to search further.
 
About LJ Shen:
LJShen.jpgL.J. Shen is an International #1 best-selling author of Contemporary Romance and New Adult novels. She lives in Northern California with her husband, young son and chubby cat.
Before she’d settled down, L.J. (who thinks referring to herself in the third person is really silly, by the way) traveled the world, and collected friends from all across the globe. Friends who’d be happy to report that she is a rubbish companion, always forgets people's’ birthdays and never sends Christmas cards.
She enjoys the simple things in life, like spending time with her family and friends, reading, HBO, Netflix and internet-stalking Stephen James. She reads between three to five books a week and firmly believes Crocs shoes and mullets should be outlawed.

Connect with L.J. Shen:
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Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Release Blitz & Review: Handle with Care - Helena Hunting

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“Lincoln and Wren had me flipping through the pages frantically, begging for more. Their chemistry was explosive, their love story both hilarious and tender.”- L.J. Shen, USA Today bestselling author

12_13_Handle With Care (1) 6.00.05 PM

Handle With Care, an all-new romantic comedy from New York Times bestselling author Helena Hunting is available now!


HE WANTS TO LOSE CONTROL.
Between his parents’ messed up marriage and his narcissistic younger brother, Lincoln Moorehead has spent the majority of his life avoiding his family. After the death of his father, Lincoln finds himself in the middle of the drama. To top it all off, he’s been named CEO of Moorehead Media, much to his brother’s chagrin. But Lincoln’s bad attitude softens when he meets the no-nonsense, gorgeous woman who has been given the task of transforming him from the gruff, wilderness guy to a suave businessman

SHE’S TRYING TO HOLD IT TOGETHER.
Wren Sterling has been working double time to keep the indiscretions at Moorehead Media at bay, so when she’s presented with a new contract, with new responsibilities and additional incentives, she agrees. Working with the reclusive oldest son of a ridiculously entitled family is worth the hassle if it means she’s that much closer to pursuing her own dreams. What Wren doesn’t expect is to find herself attracted to him, or for it to be mutual. And she certainly doesn’t expect to fall for Lincoln. But when a shocking new Moorehead scandal comes to light, she’s forced to choose between her own family and the broody, cynical CEO.
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Review
5 Stars
Wren Sterling is a fixer. She's given all of her time and energy to Moorehead Media to ensure their success and to hopefully secure her own future. An opportunity to spend less time with the difficult younger Moorehead brother has Wren signing up to bring the brooding Lincoln up to speed. His suits don't fit, he's less than patient in the board room, but something about him just tugs at her. Lincoln Moorehead would rather be helping impoverished communities, anything but sitting in a stuffy suit with his insufferable family. Wren makes his days a little better, but he still doesn't see this being his future. Sparks fly between the two, but when a new scandal comes to surface Wren must choose between her future and the brooding, handsome Lincoln.

Wren Sterling is your stereotypical go-getter. She is all business attire, driven, no-nonsense attitude with a coffee in hand and a glare on her face. Except, she's also human and I love how Helena Hunting brought her to life. She is every woman that's been accused of going after too much and yet she really has a heart of gold. She's willing to grin and bear it in order to reach her goal, to make her dream of helping others come true. It is impossible not to like this woman, which is of course something Lincoln sees in her beyond her beauty. Lincoln, on the other hand, besides his good looks and his desire to help others doesn't seem to have a nice bone in his body. He's the word gruff to a t. Yet, like Wren, we fall for him. I loved how his true personality, his thoughts he'd held onto for so long, came to light. These two, despite their initial meetings and their vastly different opinions of one another, really are quite the match. We may be in an office building fighting over money and business future, but what the two really share is the same kindhearted nature and love of life. I think Helena Hunting hit it out of the park, this relationship and story didn't feel like or read like all the other workplace romances out there and that made it a unique read for me.

You know those books that just give you that romantic butterfly feeling that seems to go missing once we all turn into jaded adults? Handle With Care gave me that feeling. It's romantic, it's sweet, it's laugh out loud funny. Lincoln and Wren don't fit like the two puzzle piece matches we're used to in most books, resulting in what felt like reading a truly natural dating story. They butt heads, they flirt, the lust between them is insane, and in the mix of all that they have work and a seriously challenging situation to deal with. While I loved the entire Shacking Up series, Handle With Care, the fifth and final book, just might be my personal favorite.
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About the Author:
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of PUCKED, Helena Hunting lives on the outskirts of Toronto with her incredibly tolerant family and two moderately intolerant cats. She's writes contemporary romance ranging from new adult angst to romantic sports comedy.

Connect with Helena:
Facebook Fan group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/385795934890523/
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Saturday, August 24, 2019

Review: Say You Still Love Me - K.A. Tucker

Say You Still Love Me
K.A. Tucker
Published: August 6th 2019 by Atria Books
Genre: Contemporary, Romance

Life is a mixed bag for Piper Calloway.

On the one hand, she’s a twenty-nine-year-old VP at her dad’s multibillion-dollar real estate development firm, and living the high single life with her two best friends in a swanky downtown penthouse. On the other hand, she’s considered a pair of sexy legs in a male-dominated world and constantly has to prove her worth. Plus, she’s stuck seeing her narcissistic ex-fiancĂ©—a fellow VP—on the other side of her glass office wall every day.

Things get exponentially more complicated for Piper when she runs into Kyle Miller—the handsome new security guard at Calloway Group Industries, and coincidentally the first love of her life.

The guy she hasn’t seen or heard from since they were summer camp counsellors together. The guy from the wrong side of the tracks. The guy who apparently doesn’t even remember her name.

Piper may be a high-powered businesswoman now, but she soon realizes that her schoolgirl crush is not only alive but stronger than ever, and crippling her concentration. What’s more, despite Kyle’s distant attitude, she’s convinced their reunion isn’t at all coincidental, and that his feelings for her still run deep. And she’s determined to make him admit to them, no matter the consequences.

Review
4.5 Stars
What's summer without summer camp, crushes on boys, and unrequited love? My answer is, it isn't one, but main character Piper Calloway might have an argument against that. Piper's mom believes in the quintessential youth experience, a sleep away summer camp and the serious role of camp counselor. Piper's in it for the new car, there's no way camp will be better than jet-setting with her best friends, but summer camp has a way of seeping into your heart. As an adult, Piper's all business as the VP of a multi billion-dollar real estate business, but the boy from summer camp has never left her mind. Where is he now, where did he go then, and why in the world does he call her the wrong name when they run into one another several years later?

"He turns and our eyes meet, and thirteen years seem to evaporate in the air between us."

Say You Still Love Me is a sweet, romantic journey that blends both new-adult and adult romance into one. K.A. Tucker tells a story of young love, broken hearts, and second chances. Piper is a force to be reckoned with in the business world, but she still sometimes cries into ice cream with her lifelong best friends and pines for the unknown. While she must be cutthroat in the boardroom, in real life she's still the sweet girl who cares for people more than she cares about their financial situation. Kyle was the first boy to steal her heart and for the last several years she's wondered what happened to him. When he becomes a security guard in her office she takes it as a sign, a chance to write the wrongs and rekindle their romance, but people don't stay missing for thirteen years for no reason. Piper, Kyle, and some of the old camp crew, must finally face the past they left behind at the lake.

"'There was a place where you and I worked, but it was thirteen years ago and we can't go back in time, Piper.' ..."

Told from the perspective of Piper, Say You Still Love Me takes readers on a trip through the past that shaped her into the woman she is today. It's an incredibly well written novel that doesn't follow the typical plot of rekindled romance, there's a secondary story line here that I never could have guessed at. There's also beautiful friendships and family members that make up a stunning cast of secondary characters, each bringing me more into the story and making me want to live inside their camp days forever. Say You Still Love Me is out just in time to make my summer reads list and is the perfect book to sit out on the dock with as you say goodbye to the warmer days and welcome in fall.
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