Thursday, April 24, 2014

Series Review: Ignite (#1) and Burn (Ignite #2) by R. J. Lewis

Title: Ignite (Ignite #1)
Author: R.J. Lewis
Published: January 12, 2014
Purchase: Amazon  

From Goodreads:
They grew up together as the closest of friends... and then more. When Sara Nolan and Jaxon Barlow decided to be together, their relationship as a young couple was consumed by a love that was both passionate and beautiful. Sara had it all when it came to a boyfriend: romance, trust, and a protector of all things bad. Jaxon had given her his bleeding heart for the keeping. The last thing Sara expected was to ruin it all. Falling into a darkness that turned her loving relationship into a chaos of deceit and violence, she walked away from the pain she was inflicting on the man she loved, never seeking to return again. But when Sara is forced to return to her hometown, she didn't anticipate for Jaxon to be there. Nor does she anticipate the change in him; a change so harsh and callous, he is a stranger with a dangerous agenda of his own. Ignited by her past feelings and the reminder of the guilt she carries in her heart, Sara attempts to avoid Jaxon at all costs… only to find herself trying to pull him out of the same darkness she was once in.

Title:  Burn (Ignite #2)
Author:  R.J. Lewis
Published: January 28, 2014
Purchase:  Amazon 

From Goodreads: 

Burn picks up where Ignite ended. 

Sara is in the hands of Remy "Reaper" Martinez, the VP of the much feared Black-backed Jackals MC. 

Following a violent altercation that leaves Sara's life in jeopardy, she is thrust into the world of the Jackals where trusting people is tricky... especially when there's a mole in the midst. 

A mole that answers to one man and one man only: Jaxon Barlow. 

**WARNING: There are many adult situations in this book that might be offensive to some readers: sexual situations (non-consensual and consensual) and strong language especially. Book is intended for mature readers.****


Ignite (Ignite, #1)“And like a magnet, I drew nearer to his flame, awaiting for him to ignite me and swallow me into his hopeful world where happiness is made possible with kind words and soft gestures.” 
This series consumed me for several days… long after I read the last page.  What I thought was going to be another angst-riddled, albeit good, story of young love and heartbreak turned into something I never expected.  We start out with sweet eight-year-old Sara being terribly bullied not only at school but also by her neglectful and abusive parents.  Sara’s life is completely changed the day 10-year-old coolest-boy-in-middle-school Jaxon steps in and rescues her from her childhood tormentor.  He makes her his “gofer”; and after months of doing his bidding, she becomes his friend.  Once Jaxon’s mother meets Sara, Sara’s life only gets better.  Throughout high school and even after Jaxon graduates, the two are inseparable – the very best of friends.  But one night changes everything.  Their relationship takes a step in another direction, and they discover the love they’ve always shared has grown into something new and beautiful.  Happily-ever-afters just aren’t ever that easy, though, are they? 

“And I was completely oblivious of the darkness that loomed inside of me;
 a darkness that would follow me and wait for the perfect moment
 to strike and destroy everything I held dear.” 

I struggled with the next portion of the book due to Sara’s behavior.  Having the information I do now, I get it… but it doesn’t make it any easier to read about what she put Jaxon through.  My heart shattered over what he suffered. 

After several years of separation, the two come face to face; and this is where most of the books I read lead to a dramatic show-down and then reconciliation, right?  No.  Oh my, no.  The turn this book took  was so unique and so mind-blowing.  I became OBSESSED.  I’ve never read a book about gangs – or bikies, as they’re known in this story with the Aussie vernacular.  Suspicious characters from the beginning of the book take center stage; and what follows is so intense, my heart was beating nearly out of my chest. 

While there was some closure, the book ended with a cliffhanger – and I swear to the heavens, had I not been able to immediately download the next and final book from Amazon, I would have thrown a bona fide southern belle hissy fit: 

Both Ignite and Burn are so incredibly reasonably priced – only 99 cents each. So don’t let the fact that Ignite ends with a cliffie sway you from the series  just grab them both.  While Ignite seems to be the favorite book of reviewers, it was Burn that took first place for me: 

My Rating: 

Burn (Ignite, #2)

“She was a match, lit with fire the second he drew near. 
 And if he got close enough, she ignited him, and together they burned.” 

The dust didn’t even settle from Ignite before I was diving into Burn, the series conclusion.  While some may not appreciate the incredible turn this story took, I reveled in it.  I can’t say much about this second installment in order to avoid spoilers and because it is pertinent that Ignite is read first. We get to know Remy in this story, and while my head said I shouldn’t like him after the things he’s done… it could not get that memo across to my heart.  Remy will stop at nothing to keep his Sara away from Jaxon and those he is affiliated with.  He’ll keep her safe; and he knows, in time, Sara will feel the same way about him that he has always felt about her.  This was my favorite of the two books.  I was so absorbed with this story and read it with a lump in my throat.  It’s been a while since a storyline made me this nervous.  I honestly wasn’t sure who would win this; but whoever didn’t, I knew my heart was going to hurt.  R.J. Lewis captivated me with this sequel and made me love not just one but two characters even when I knew I shouldn’t. 

“‘But love isn’t rational.  It’s a f*cking mess, that’s what love is.’ … Love was a different entity altogether.  It picked and chose what it wanted.  It disregarded logic – hell, it shat on logic – and then it buried away the pain and embraced the heart with feelings so euphoric, you’d forget all the bad just to feel it, even for a minute.” 

While we get a solid conclusion to the story with Burn, I am thrilled that other standalones of characters from the series are in the making.  A completely unique and mesmerizing series set in the Australian outback that tackles dark and sensitive subject matter in a truly beautiful way.  Ms. Lewis just landed herself on my auto-buy list. 

“Because [he], too, had reached the end of the line. 
 He’d given it all he had.  What he had wasn’t enough, and it never would be.” 

“He loved her enough to let her go.” 

My Rating: 


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (38): Talon by Julie Kagawa


Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine,
that showcases our most anticipated upcoming releases.

Author: Julie Kagawa
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Expected Release: October 28, 2014

Pre-order:  Amazon | B&N


Long ago, dragons were hunted to near extinction by the Order of St. George, a legendary society of dragon slayers. Hiding in human form and growing their numbers in secret, the dragons of Talon have become strong and cunning, and they're positioned to take over the world with humans none the wiser.

Ember and Dante Hill are the only sister and brother known to dragonkind. Trained to infiltrate society, Ember wants to live the teen experience and enjoy a summer of freedom before taking her destined place in Talon. But destiny is a matter of perspective, and a rogue dragon will soon challenge everything Ember has been taught. As Ember struggles to accept her future, she and her brother are hunted by the Order of St. George.

Soldier Garret Xavier Sebastian has a mission to seek and destroy all dragons, and Talon's newest recruits in particular. But he cannot kill unless he is certain he has found his prey: and nothing is certain about Ember Hill. Faced with Ember's bravery, confidence and all-too-human desires, Garret begins to question everything that the Order has ingrained in him: and what he might be willing to give up to find the truth about dragons.


This will be an entirely different kind of read for me -- but it's Julie Kagawa, and I read everything by Julie!  Plus... dragons disguising themselves as human??  Well, how can I not read that?

What book are you waiting to get your hands on?


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Release Day Review: How I Got Skinny, Famous, And Fell Madly in Love by Ken Baker

Title: How I Got Skinny, Famous, And Fell Madly in Love
Author: Ken Baker
Publisher: Running Press Kids
Source:  Publisher
Release Date: April 22, 2014
Purchase: Amazon  |  B&N

From Goodreads:

"Thick. Heavy. Big boned. Plump. Full figured. Chunky. Womanly. Large. Curvy. Plus-size. Hefty." To sixteen-year-old Emery Jackson, these are all just euphemisms for the big "F" word—"fat." Living on a Southern California beach with her workout fiend dad, underwear model sister, and former model mother, it is impossible for Emery not to be aware of her weight.

Emery is okay with how things are. That is, until her "momager" signs her up for Fifty Pounds to Freedom, a reality show in which Emery will have to lose fifty pounds in fifty days in order to win the million dollars that will solve her family's financial woes. Emery is skeptical of the process, but when the pounds start to come off and the ratings skyrocket, she finds it hard to resist the adoration of her new figure and the world of fame. Emery knows that things have changed. But is it for the better?


   Emery Jackson is a relatively happy sixteen-year-old girl living in Southern California. Emery wouldn't mind losing a few pounds, but it's not a top priority. Especially since it doesn’t bother her nearly as much as it seems to bother her family. Emery lives with three health nuts who make her feel less than stellar about herself. Emery is constantly under fire for her weight and appearance from none other than her own mother. Emery's mother is, for lack of a better word, awful. She's age-, image-, and size-obsessed. She belittles Emery on a regular basis. Not to mention she's a total ditz who's mentally stuck in her teens. But luckily, Emery has Ben. When her overbearing family becomes a bit too much, her boyfriend is there to remind her that she is beautiful no matter what size she is. That's a message that I feel really did not come across too clearly in this book. In Emery's race to lose fifty pounds in fifty days, an obviously unsafe and nearly impossible feat, she resorted to starving herself, taking pills, and drinking laxative tea -- all just to ensure that her family would win a million dollars and that she would reach her goal. It's great to have goals, but not to that extent. And along with Emery’s unhealthy mindset, another thing that bothered me was the people encouraging her to keep going and pushing her further and further every day. 

   Another thing that I couldn't get on board with -- "skinny." That word was used in this book way too much for my liking. It's even in the title. "Skinny" does not equal beautiful. Society has warped girls' minds so that they think that to be accepted and loved, they have to be thin. That is completely untrue. Beauty truly does come from within; and what's on the outside will change, but the person you are at heart never will. Emery didn't quite get that until the very end of the book – and I won’t give away whether or not she reaches her goal, but I can say that she finally realizes being healthy is more important than being "skinny." 

   When I first started this book, I wasn't sure if it was for me. It was a struggle reading from Emery's point of view because I felt like the author didn't have a very firm grasp on what really goes through a teenage girl's mind. It felt very stereotypical and forced in some parts. That being said, there were a few funny moments and even a sentimental scene between Emery and her sister; but not long after, we were right back to the book’s nauseating bad habits that I was so turned off by to begin with. This was a case in which the bad outweighed the good. I can see what the message of the book was intended to be, and a lot could have been done with it because it’s a great message; but in my opinion, the delivery was all wrong. I also feel I should mention that there were a few mature parts and expletives in this book that make it best suited for readers 15 and up. 

   All in all, How I Got Skinny, Famous, and Fell Madly in Love was an okay story, but I don't see myself revisiting it or recommending it to a friend. 

My Rating:  

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

Teaser Tuesday (41): Feed by Mira Grant


Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.
Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (Make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

This week’s Teasers come from the following book:

Author:  Mira Grant
Publisher: Orbit
Published: April 10, 2010

Purchase:  Amazon  | B&N


The year was 2014. We had cured cancer. We had beaten the common cold. But in doing so we created something new, something terrible that no one could stop. The infection spread, virus blocks taking over bodies and minds with one, unstoppable command: FEED. Now, twenty years after the Rising, bloggers Georgia and Shaun Mason are on the trail of the biggest story of their lives - the dark conspiracy behind the infected. The truth will get out, even if it kills them.


My Teaser: 

"My mother once told me that no woman is naked when 
she comes equipped with a bad mood and a steady glare."
                                                        - Kindle location 66%

Feed (Newsflesh Trilogy, #1) Deadline (Newsflesh Trilogy, #2) Blackout (Newsflesh Trilogy, #3)

I'd love to know what your Teaser is!


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Hoppy Easter Eggstravaganza Giveaway Hop

4th Annual Hoppy Easter Eggstravaganza Giveaway Hop
April 17th to 24th

I love Easter, and I'm so happy to be a part of this great Hop!  On my stop, I'm giving away your choice of book from The Book Depository ($15 limit).  This can be a new release or maybe a book you've had your eye on for a while.  This giveaway is open to all who can receive deliveries from The Book Depository (you can check their site for delivery info here).  Thank you for stopping by, and be sure to visit the other participating blogs in the linky list below. Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below for your chance to win!

Have a Happy, Hoppy Easter! 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Book and Author Spotlight: Borrowed Angel by Erica Kiefer

I've really enjoyed connecting with Erica Kiefer, the amazing author of Lingering Echoes. When I heard about her book Borrowed Angel and learned about Erica's story, I knew I wanted to share it with the readers of this blog. Many of us have either experienced or love someone who has experienced this kind of heartbreak as told in Erica's words about the loss of her beloved son, Ty.  Erica's hope is that, by sharing her experience, she can help ease some of the pain for those currently grieving the loss of a precious child.  Here's more about Borrowed Angel and this inspiring author:

Author: Erica Kiefer
Publisher:  Currawong Press
Published: April 9, 2014

Purchase:  Amazon | Deseret Book


 “A day at a time, a week at a time, we hoped we would survive this.” 

Borrowed Angel is the poignant story of a mother who lost her first child to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). In this captivating book, the author describes her journey through the gauntlet of grief and reveals how hope can be found even amid tragedy. 

Weaving spirituality with a practical approach to healing, Borrowed Angel reflects on motherhood, the grieving process, and the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.


Erica has generously shared these heart-wrenching but touching excerpts and a brilliant post on her blog.  Just click the links below to be directed to Erica's beautiful site: 

And here's a wonderful interview from Erica's Borrowed Angel launch party!  Thanks so much for sharing, Erica -- I love this Q&A!

What is your favorite part of writing? 

I enjoy helping people feel emotion, which is probably why Lingering Echoes is emotionally driven. In Borrowed Angel, while I know readers will cry, I know it will help people better understand (and feel to a certain extent) what it’s like to lose a child or feel out of control… and then I hope readers can feel the comforting spirit that I felt and the beauty of the messages that I came across in my experiences. One of my favorite parts of writing is also hearing feedback and how readers connect with my work.

Is there a word, phrase or quote you like? 

“You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.” ~ Plato

Before I was a mother and an author, I started my career as a Recreation Therapist. I’ll spare you the novel answer. In short, as a Recreation Therapist I believe in the power of spending time with people outside of conversation. When you interact with someone through play, whether it be sports or going for a walk, or whatever your favorite activities may consist of, barriers are quickly broken down. When people are having fun, I believe we all relax a little more and allow our true nature to emerge in ways that a formal conversation would not. I love to play!

Proudest moment? 

Giving birth to my son, Ty was my proudest moment. I went into the hospital to be induced and it all happened within four hours! The anesthesiologist didn’t make it in time, and my doctor arrived during the last ten minutes to “catch” my boy. It was scary and exhilarating at the same time to be able to hold my very first baby, especially under the crazy circumstances!

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? 

In both Lingering Echoes (which I wrote first) and Borrowed Angel, the underlying theme is finding ways to heal through grief. In Lingering Echoes, the two main characters, Allie and Damien, have painful experiences from their pasts that they are keeping to themselves, and it is only after meeting each other that their pain bonds the two of them. With my personal experiences in Borrowed Angel, like my characters in Lingering Echoes, I felt like certain people came into my life to help me work through my grief. There is power in grieving together.

Goals for your book? 

For Lingering Echoes, I would love to see it on the shelves of Barnes & Noble under “teen favorites.”

For Borrowed Angel, I just hope my experiences can ease some of the pain for parents suffering from loss or others struggling with challenges in their lives. That first year is so raw…if I could do anything to ease even a small measure of that hurt through the experiences shared in Borrowed Angel, that would make me happy.

Dream vacation? 

If I could have warm weather, a beach, and a place to lay out with a book or close my eyes and nap under the sun, that would be a dream vacation for me! Now, if I want to dream a little deeper…add in massages, manicure, pedicures, cheap shopping at a market and I’d be set!

Something unique about you? 

One of the things that bonded my husband and me in college was that we both played rugby for BYU in Provo. That was an incredibly fun time! The men and women’s rugby team hold a special place in our hearts, especially considering the touching act they provided on the day of Ty’s funeral. (You’ll have to read the book to find out!)

How many countries have you visited? 

United States, Taiwan, Fiji, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Phillippines, China, New  Zealand… 10! I lived in the first five.

About the Author: 

Erica Kiefer was born on Christmas Eve in Southern California to an American father whose ancestors arrived from Europe during colonial times and a Thai mother who moved to the US during high school. Adding to her rich and varied heritage, Erica grew up living abroad in Asia, including Taiwan, Fiji, Thailand and Indonesia. She gained a great respect for the beautiful mosaic of cultures found in various parts of the world. After graduating from International School Bangkok, she attended Brigham Young University in Utah, where she earned a degree in Recreation Therapy. Her career as a Recreation Therapist has allowed her to work with at-risk youth since 2007.

Erica made the best decision of her life by marrying her husband in 2005 and is currently a mother of three, one of whom awaits her in heaven. Erica also loves singing, reading, writing and satisfying her sweet-tooth with chocolate-chip cookies. Playing collegiate rugby was one of the most memorable experiences of her life, thus far. 

Erica's first book, Lingering Echoes, was signed by Clean Teen Publishing and is scheduled to release in early November 2013. 

Here's where you can find and follow Erica:

Thank you so much, Erica, for sharing your story and for stopping by the blog today.
 You are an amazing woman, my friend.


Waiting on Wednesday (37): Wings (Black City #3) by Elizabeth Richards


Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine,
that showcases our most anticipated upcoming releases.

Title: Wings
(Black City #3)
Author: Elizabeth Richards
Publisher: Putnam's Sons BYR
Expected Release: June 12, 2014

Pre-order:  Amazon | B&N


Following the cliffhanger ending of Phoenix, Natalie finds herself separated from Ash and unexpectedly reunited with her parents, including the father she thought was dead. But she can only think of Ash. She hasn't heard a word of him since she and Elijah were brought to the underground headquarters of the Sentry Rebellion. But she vows to find him.

Ash, meanwhile is back in Black City; it's the perfect place to hide from the Sentry government. But not for long. He won't give up on Natalie or bringing an end to the terrible reign of Purian Rose.


I really enjoyed book one in the Black City series, and I'm looking forward to continuing this exciting trilogy as soon as possible.  I think the covers are so beautiful!

Black City (Black City, #1) Phoenix (Black City, #2) Wings (Black City, #3)
What book are you waiting to get your hands on?