Saturday, 19 August 2017

Review: Pushing the Limits by Brooke Cumberland

Pushing the Limits by Brooke Cumberland 

Publishing Date: September 16, 2015
Publisher: BC Books
Pages: 566

The Premise by the Author: "He's my art professor. I'm his student. With an electric connection and undeniable chemistry, I know it won't be long until one of us cracks. When the opportunity arises to pose naked for the entire art class, I can't help the thrill of knowing he'll be watching me. While they all look past me with their eyes narrowed and concentrated, drawing only the lines and angles of my body, he sees right through me down to my vulnerability. He sees more than just the physical aspects--he sees me. That's when I see the struggle in his features as he tries to stay in control. How do we keep our distance when everything seems to be pulling us together? What feels so right can only go wrong if we keep pushing the limits" (Cumberland).

**Recommended for 18 & above due to explicit sexual content, language, and adult content.**

My overall thoughts and review: So if you follow me on Goodreads, you will see that I've been working my way through Cumberland's backlist recently and that is because she came out of the literary closet and it's been revealed she is one part of the duo of Kennedy Fox (books that I absolutely LOVE!). I was so excited to learn of this literary reveal since that meant more books for me to read. I have two more serials of Cumberland's to read but I wanted to stop and write a review for a book I recently finished and just LOVED. To begin with, both characters: Morgan and Aspen come together with very dark and traumatic pasts. They've both experienced lost in a big way and this has affected their life completely. They also come together over their passion for art and creating art. As someone who has dabbled a bit in art history and art in my undergraduate days, I really enjoyed this aspect of the book because Cumberland was incredibly detailed with how the characters viewed art and created their own art works. It is definitely a taboo topic to touch on since it is Professor and Student relationship, but I feel like Cumberland handled it in a very nice way. There was a touch of drama added with another fellow professor involved but overall, it worked out quite nicely. I love that although their relationship was incredibly sweet and sexy, they stood on their own as very strong characters and I really loved and admired that. Aspen, who has been dealing with the death of her twin all her life, you really see her vulnerabilities and how she handles being a student and getting out of her comfort zone. Before meeting Morgan, she would only hold her friendships at an arm's length and it was nice to see her grow out of that. Morgan, on the other hand, is left to be his late brother's daughter's guardian, really handled being a single parent really well. He had a great relationship with his aunt as well and you could really see him grow into the "father/guardian" role. I loved seeing Morgan and Aspen come together through all the hardships thrown at them and become stronger for it. Overall, it was a really romantic and sweet contemporary romance that I really enjoyed. There were of course some pretty swoon-worthy sexy moments, but it was more than just a romance book in my opinion. There were so many layers to this book and I loved the character development! It touched on areas of grief/mourning, the world of academic, and family/friendship. This one definitely brought on the feels and I have to say it is my favorite Brooke Cumberland book yet! I can't wait to see what else she writes next.

My rating of the book: ✮✮✮✮✮ (5/5 stars)

Available for purchase at:
Audible, Amazon, and Kindle

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Review: Checkmate: This is Reckless (Drew & Courtney, #1) by Kennedy Fox

Checkmate: This is Reckless (Drew & Courtney, #1) of the Checkmate Duet Series by Kennedy Fox 

Publishing Date: February 7, 2017
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Pages: 402
Contemporary Romance

The Premise from the Author: "Are you ready to play the game? Drew Fisher is the type of guy every girl wants. Noble police officer by day, charming prince by night. He has no idea the effect he has on women, especially me--his little sister's best friend. I'm the blonde Southern belle who lives up to the cliché, except I have my own quirks. I'm smart as a whip, can change my own oil, and recite The Pledge of Allegiance backward, but he doesn't see that girl. It'd be easier to forget him if he wasn't my roommate and if the first thing I saw in the morning wasn't his shirtless body covered in tattoos. I've crushed on him since the day we met, but he's made it perfectly clear where we stand. Just friends. I know I need to move on and accept that his feelings will never be mutual, but every day he smiles at me, I'm left dreaming of what if. He has girl issues, and I've got a crush I can't deny. We're friends, but I want more. One drunken hookup leaves us with much more than a platonic friendship. Pretending it never happened proves to be more difficult than anticipated. A crazy ex-girlfriend, a dangerous war of stolen glances, and passionate kisses leads to the most reckless battle yet. I won't be a pawn in his game, but I'll play by his rules if it will show him I'm the one worth breaking them for. Checkmate, Prince Charming" (Fox).

*Recommend for ages 18+ due to sexual content and adult language.* **This is book 1 of 2 in the Checkmate Duet Series--a friends to lovers romance. Highly recommended to read the Checkmate Duet, This is War and This is Love first, but not necessary. This can read as a standalone duet.**

My overall thoughts and review: I am seriously falling in love with Kennedy Fox books. This one is definitely up there as one of my favorites now. It follows Courtney (Viola's bestfriend who is known for her blueberry muffins, LOL I was craving blueberry muffins the entire time reading this) and Drew (Viola's brother). They became roommates after Travis and Viola got together and Courtney has always had a thing for Drew. Unfortunately "Mia Effin Montgomery" complicates things and she was seriously a psychopath that added some drama to the mix. It is pitched as a friends to romance story and I'm seriously a sucker for those. I think personally, good relationships are first built on good friendships and I really liked seeing that develop with Drew & Courtney. You get to see other couples interacting like Viola & Travis, which was nice if you as a reader came to this book after reading their duet. It was like a continuation of their story since their wedding takes place in the book and their honeymoon. You also get to see Courtney and Drew with Viola & Travis' kids: Ginny and James, which was really cute so a huge factor of family. I really liked that KF touched on Drew's worklife - the dangers of being a policeman, working with his partner Logan (AHH!).You see the risks of it really towards the end of the book. A huge step in their relationship was when Drew visited Courtney's family with her and it was really sweet. He got to see her upbringing and meet her family (she has four brothers who clearly love her!) Some of my favorite swoonworthy moments include: their texting which is adorable and just how Drew falls so hard for her. Again, I love that they were friends first which makes their relationship all the more special. They also have traditions together like drinks on Ladies Night, and watching two films on Halloween (so cute)! Like the previous Duet series, this first book does end on a cliffhanger and had me raging, so I really hope my OTP #Drewtney are ok in the next book or else I will not be pleased. I just really love both as characters. Courtney, like Viola, is incredibly strong and independent and when she loves, she loves hard.  Drew was frustrating in the beginning not seeing Mia for the manipulative person she was, really grows as an individual. He loves hard as well, but he just stands up for himself and takes such good care of Courtney and his sister, Viola.Overall, I absolutely loved this book. I didn't think I'd be swooning over Viola's brother tbh (especially after Travis King lololol), but goodness, I love this couple so much and I can't wait to see their relationship grow even further in the next book.

My rating of the book: ✮✮✮✮✮ (5/5 stars)

Available for purchase at:
KennedyFoxBooks, Kobo Books, Amazon, Kindle, and Book Depository (Free Worldwide Shipping)

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Review: Shade the Changing Girl Vol. 1: Earth Girl Made Easy by Cecil Castellucci

Shade the Changing Girl Vol. 1: Earth Girl Made Easy by Cecil Castellucci, Marley Zarcone, Ande Parks, Ryan Kelly, & Kelly Fitzpatrick. 

Publishing Date: July 18, 2017
Publisher: DC Comics / Young Animal
Pages: 144

The Premise from the Publisher: "Far away on the planet Meta, Loma's going nowhere fast. She's dropped out of school, dumped her boyfriend and is bored out of her mind. She longs to feel things. That's where her idol, the lunatic poet Rac Shade, and his infamous madness coat come in. Loma steals the garment and makes a break across galaxies to take up residence in a new body: Earth girl Megan Boyer. Surely everything will be better on this passionate, primitive planet with a dash of madness on her side and this human girl's easy life. Only now that she's here, Loma discovers being a teenaged Earth girl comes with its own challenges and Earth may not be everything she thought it'd be. Megan Boyer was a bully who everyone was glad was almost dead, and now Loma has to survive high school and navigate the consequences of the life she didn't live with the ever-growing and uncontrollable madness at her side. Not to mention that there are people back on her homeworld who might just want Shade's coat back" (DC).

"SHADE, THE CHANGING GIRL is a part of DC's Young Animal--a four-book grassroots mature-reader imprint, creatively spearheaded by Gerard Way, bridging the gap between the DC Universe and Vertigo, and focusing on the juxtaposition between visual and thematic storytelling" (DC).

My overall thoughts and review: I'm not familiar with the previous presentation of Shade, so I went into this graphic novel with no prior history. Apparently, previously, Shade was the Changing Man and in Castellucci's iteration, Shade is re-imagined as a teenage girl. It was quite confusing when it first started off because Shade steals this coat that allows her to travel across galaxies and take residence in a new body. Shade chooses the body of Megan Boyer, who is brain dead but miraculously wakes up. The reader soon learns that Megan was actually a horrible bully and now Shade is facing those consequences. She is trying to learn about what really happened the night of Megan's accident that landed her in a coma, how she was on the swim team, and who her true friends are. The art can be quite beautiful at times but I'm not a big fan of the art style to begin with. I found it really confusing to follow at times and that really slowed down my entire reading process for this graphic novel. The flip flop between earth and Shade's planet back home was incredibly confusing and it didn't take until the second issue/chapter to really learn about the jacket and how Shade stole it. The collected series, which follows issues #1-6, does resolve the mystery of the Megan arc somewhat (but what really happened that night and who did it?!?) and it appears that Shade is trying to make amends for what Megan had done which is nice since its technically not her mess to clean up. But it was incredibly unbelievable how other humans just simply accepted that Shade was now an alien in Megan's body (her parents for example) and it was hard to distinguish memories at times. Overall, I really tried to enjoy this read, but with the art style really not hooking me and the narrative confusing me more than ever, I don't think I'll continue on with this series.

My rating of the book: ✮✮ (2/5 stars)

Available for purchase at:

Disclaimer: An advanced reader's copy of the book was provided by Penguin Random House Canada in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Review: Sparrow by L.J. Shen

Sparrow by L.J. Shen

Publishing Date: March 1, 2016
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services LLC
Pages: 310

The Premise from the Author: "Troy Brennan. Every Southie in Boston knows that name. The son of a dead mobster. The heart-throb with steel-blue eyes. "The Fixer" who can make or break you in this city. Oh, and my new husband. Sparrow Raynes. That's me. No one seemed to remember my name up until he barged into my life. But then he caged me. Kidnapped me. And killed every chance I had to run away from the place where we grew up. Put simply, Troy Brennan clipped my wings. I have dreams, big ones, but I doubt he'll ever let me chase them. I have no idea why he decided to take me as his wife. But I do know this: pissing off this man will not do me any good. At all" (Shen).

My overall thoughts and review: So I first started my love with L.J. Shen's writing with her book Vicious, I absolutely loved it and I'm slowly working my way through her backlist. I always have such a hard time writing reviews for books I really love because I feel like all I say is, it's good, it's good, it's good. But I really want to write a review promoting L.J. Shen's books because she is slowly becoming one of my favorite romance authors ever. I'm going to slowly write reviews for all of her books, and this one is one that I've read recently and literally devoured in a day. I had a day off and spent the entire day in bed reading this. I could not put it down and when it ended, I was pretty sad that there wasn't more. There is something about her writing that is so captivating and I'm immediately drawn into the world and the characters. The story of Sparrow has the premise of an arranged marriage between a mob boss' son. Sparrow is forced into marrying Troy, who she barely knows and has only heard some rumors about. Those rumors she heard also weren't really good and they were about Troy murdering some people. Immediately, Troy is definitely a hard-to-love character, but you can't help falling for him. Everything he even says to Sparrow, makes you as the reader, fall for him. He is so mysterious, charming, and cutthroat. He doesn't make excuses and gets right to the point which I like. I also really liked how Sparrow was because she was his equal. She didn't stand for any of his crap, and anything that he dished out to her, she was able to throw it right back. They had a slow-burn romance that I am a big fan of. I love seeing relationships develop and do a complete 180 and surprise the reader. I absolutely loved watching their story unfold and how much of their relationship began with their family and their mistakes. I will say that this story does not get a full five stars from me simply because of some questionable things that happened with Troy and also with another character, Catalina (who I absolutely hated!). Some things simply didn't sit well with me, regardless of technicalities (Sparrow and Troy weren't a 'real' couple yet, but still). Besides that, I really enjoyed this read and it is my second favorite of her books after Vicious. There are so many layers to Troy & Sparrow, and I loved that it was more than simply a relationship between a girl and a mobster's son. Shen does an amazing job at world building and making sure that her characters actually live in the narrative as opposed to simply relying on dialogue. I was definitely surprised to with a few revelations so the story is always keeping you on your toes. If you haven't been introduced to L.J. Shen yet, what are you waiting for? She mixes romance perfectly with crime and suspense.

My rating of the book: ✮✮✮✮ (4/5 stars)

Available for purchase at:
Amazon, Kindle, and Book Depository (Free Worldwide Shipping)

Links for L.J. Shen: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram