All Closed Off by Cora Carmack COVER REVEAL

Hey guys!

Today I’m bringing to you something super exciting today! In case you didn’t know, I’m obsessed with Cora Carmack. I love all the books she writes, but the Rusk University series is my absolute favorite. All Lined Up, All Broke Down and All Played Out are such great stories. Now, Cora has surprised us with the next installment….

ALL CLOSED OFF!

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From New York Times bestselling author Cora Carmack, comes the highly anticipated fourth standalone title in her Rusk University Series, ALL CLOSED OFF! A passionate story and journey, get ready to be mesmerized with Stella’s story! ALL CLOSED OFF is coming your way May 1, 2017!

Stella Santos is fine.

Maybe something terrible happened to her that she can’t even remember. And maybe it drives her crazy when her friends treat her like she’s on the verge of breaking because of it. Maybe it feels even worse when they do what she asks and pretend that it never happened at all. And maybe she’s been getting harassing emails and messages for months from people who don’t even know her, but hate her all the same.

But none of that matters because she’s just fine.

For Ryan Blake, Stella was always that girl. Vibrant and hilarious and beautiful. He wanted her as his best friend. His more than friends. His everything and anything that she would give him. Which these days is a whole lot of nothing. She gets angry when he’s there. Angry when he’s not there. Angry when he tries to talk and when he doesn’t.

When Stella devises an unconventional art project for one of her classes all about exploring intimacy—between both friends and strangers—Ryan finds himself stepping in as guinea pig after one of her subjects bails. What was supposed to be an objective and artistic look at emotion and secrets and sex suddenly becomes much more personal. When he hits it off with another girl from the project, Stella will have to decide if she’s willing to do more than make art about intimacy. To keep him, she’ll have to open up and let herself be the one thing she swore she’d never be again.

Vulnerable.

Add it to your Goodreads list here: All Closed Off by Cora Carmack

The beautiful photography and cover was done by Kelsey Kukal Keeteon at K. Keeton Designs

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About Cora Carmack:

Cora Carmack is a twentysomething New York Times bestselling author who likes to write about twentysomething characters. Raised in a small Texas town, she now lives in New York City and spends her time writing, traveling, and marathoning various TV shows on Netflix. She lives by one rule: embrace whatever the world throws at you and run with it (just not with scissors).

 

 

 

 

 

Links:

Website: http://www.coracarmack.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CoraCarmackBooks

Twitter: https://twitter.com/CoraCarmack

Cora Carmack Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6535659.Cora_Carmack

A Day in the Life..

I’ve been thinking of different posts to include on my blog other than book reviews (which I love, btw) and I found an idea that will allow you to follow along with my on my typical day. I thought it would be be interesting to try and capture my day in pictures when my day is typically uneventful. So, I chose Friday, March 10. No other reason than because Friday is my favorite day.


 

1-Coffee

Friday morning – 7:15 a.m. 

I wake up every day around 6:45 a.m. It gives me a little over an hour to take a shower and get ready, as well as drink my coffee and eat my breakfast. I live on the second floor of an apartment building, located across from a pretty central business in my community, so I like to watch people come and go from the business from the comfort of my coach. I watch some morning TV and prepare for my day.

3-Walking2

8:00 a.m. 

I live only a block from my job, so I walk to work. My neighbor and I work together and sometimes we talk together. But I’m typically on my own on my quick commute. My headphones are always in, listening to either an audio book, Ed Sheeran or Hamilton. I hate when it’s raining, but I have this really cool umbrella that reminds me of Mary Poppins that I use. The snow and the cold is the worst. Iowa winters can be brutal. Our temperatures can be all over the place, and sometimes it’s -40 degrees in the morning. That’s not pleasant. Right now, it’s been sun shining and beautiful, so I’m ready for some spring. I’m at work usually by 8:00 a.m.

4-Desk

10:00 a.m.  

This is my desk, well a portion of it. I’m trying this new organizational system where I write down all the stuff I have to do on the corresponding post-in notes that say the days of the week. So far it seems to be working. I like to show off my nerdiness on my desk with a Hans Solo bobble head, a mushroom, a TARDIS and a typewriter. Also, the little pink thing under my computer says “Always be yourself. Unless you can be a unicorn then always be a unicorn.” I also always have a note stuck to my computer that says, “The best thing someone can do is tell me I can’t do something. Thanks for the spark. I’ll light the fire.” I’m doing some research on TIF – a financial tool used by city governments. I’m writing an article about it so I have to understand it completely before I can tell the public about it in a way they’ll understand. It’s hard because this topic is about as clear as mud. (I took my background picture when I visited Lake Michigan)

5-Lunch

12:00 p.m. 

Lunch on Fridays is my favorite. It’s the one day of the week my friends and I (we all work at the same place) all go to lunch together. The place we eat is within walking distance of our jobs, so it’s absolutely perfect for us. We spend an hour complaining about stuff we’re doing, our lives, whatnot. It’s usually an hour filled with laughs and weird conversations, and I love it. Having coworkers you like and get along with makes your job a little it more enjoyable.

6-Proofreading

3:00 p.m. 

I wrapped up a story for a special section we’ll be publishing soon and I had to have it proofed, like usual. I was pretty excited there weren’t too many red marks because I tend to type faster than I think, so I have plenty of typos. I was pretty happy with this story; I thought it turned out nice. We do many special sections throughout the year, and this one focuses on different programs or people throughout the community that help others stay healthy physically, mentally or spiritually. This story is about a dance class from children and it’s benefits.

7-Driving Around

4:15 p.m. 

Our work days ends at 4:00 on Fridays, an hour earlier than the other days of the week. I usually walk home, but my neighbor had to have her car at work so she and I commuted back home in her car (after driving around town for a little bit to listen to a good song on the radio). Our town is pretty small, about 2,000 people, so it’s a short drive down Main Street, but it’s enough to go through some good music before going home. It reminds me of growing up with my siblings. They’re six and eight years older than me, so they were stuck watching me all the time. They’d cram me in the backseat of their cars so they could cruise the town with their friends while still babysitting me. I felt pretty cool riding around town with these older kids when I was this weird little eight-year-old. Good times. Anyway.

10-Concert

6:50 p.m. 

I attended my niece’s band concert Friday night. She rocks the drums, and is one of the goofiest and funniest children I know. She is known as my mini-me because she looks a lot like me and acts like me too. When it’s just her and I out and about, people think she’s my daughter, that’s how much she looks like me. Her concert was fun, and it featured all the bands in our school district, from fifth grade to high school. I love living close enough to my family because it gives me the opportunity to go to their events like this, to their sports games and concerts and whatnot. (If you want to know which one she is, find the one that’s making the weirdest face and hand gestures. Yup, that’s my niece.)

11-Buffy

9:00 p.m. 

I spent the rest of my night watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It premiered 20 years ago today and it’s my favorite show of all time. I realized watching episodes from Season 1 that I can quote pretty much the whole thing, so that might be a little sad. But it will always be my favorite show. I watched a few episodes before I fell asleep on my couch. It was a great night in, a Friday night where I didn’t have anything to do. Sometimes those are my favorite nights. A nice bowl of ice cream, my TARDIS blanket and Buffy. It was a good night and nice way to end a stressful week.

So there’s my day! I know, it’s not super eventful, but this is a typical day in my life. I work a lot of nights and weekends with my job, so a night to myself is pretty rare. I hope you enjoyed the trip!

 

An Ember in the Ashes.. I am IN.

I know for a fact I have a book buying problem. It’s really hard to contain myself when I enter the book section of any store, and I’m lucky Barnes & Noble is 45 minutes away. I’m lucky Half Price Books is 1 1/2 hours a day or else I’d be in trouble. At least I would be broke and happy!

I have been obsessed with YA fantasy lately. It’s a genre I’ve been really into over the past few months, and I’m super glad I find them because they make me so happy. I bought this book a long time ago and it’s just been sitting on my shelf looking sad. I honestly had no idea what it was about, and sometimes I think that’s the best way to go into books.

27774758An Ember in the Ashes – Sabaa Tahir

Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free.

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.

It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.

But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.

There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

“Life is made of so many moments that mean nothing. Then one day, a single moment comes along to define every second that comes after. Such moments are tests of courage, of strength.”

“You are an ember in the ashes, Elias Veturius. You will spark and burn, ravage and destroy. You cannot change it. You cannot stop it.”

Sometimes I think I just hate sleep. It is also sacrificed for a good book, and An Ember in the Ashes was no exception. This is not the type of book to read before bed because it’s very hard to put it down when it’s full of constant suspense, constant action. How am I supposed to go to bed when I’m in the middle of this plot? It’s impossible. It was so dark and intense, and it had me hooked from the opening pages.

This story is told from two perspectives, Elias and Laia. They come from completely different backgrounds and are part of two very different walks of life. Laia comes from scholars, a formerly flourishing group of people now rules by the empire. They were stripped of their culture, their  power, and are living in poverty and illiteracy. Her family has been destroyed by the empire, and she’s going to all she can to save the one person she has left in her life. Then we have Elias. He is trained in the elite special forces division of the empire – the masks. But he’s not like the others in his training class. He doesn’t want to be a mask – which are the enforcers of the martial empire and are ruthless.

Laia is forced to ask for help from the Rebellion, a group of people working to overthrow the empire and free themselves from their oppression. They ask her to be a spy, in the very same brutal training camp Elias has been at his whole life.

Each one has their own separate line, their own story filled with sacrifice, love and pain. Their lines weren’t meant to cross. They slowly become woven together as they each fight for freedom, as they are each driven by passion to do what’s right. Elias is lethal but with a noble heart, and Laia is week and scare but finds the will to do tame it to help the people she loves. They are pulled together despite of all their differences.

Some people can say they enjoyed one perspective more than the other, but I cannot. I lived for each chapter, for each moment we’re pulled from one to the other because their stories were so complex and intricate, I had to know how each one was doing. I couldn’t stop reading because these characters and the lives they lived and the trials they faced were so intense and dark and intriguing. This was a world filled with war, battles, trials, rebels, slaves, spies, ancient creatures, wraiths, ruthless villains and much more, stitched together in a story that keeps you on the edge of your seat. You felt every moment, every betrayal, every cut, every pain these characters felt. And I love every single moment of it.

 

Elias is such a wonderful character. I love him so much. I love this idea of a soldier, trained to ruthless and violently kill for the empire, has a heart and feels so much compared to his fellow soldiers. He wants out. Laia is a person I admire greatly. I feel terrible for her and her people, to live the lives they do in oppression and slavery, to have all their knowledge stripped away like that by their rulers is terrible. After all she goes through, she still has the strength to help the one person left in her life, her brother. She fights, tooth and nail, to get into a position to help him. And the work she has to do, be a slave to that ruthless, evil woman, is terrible. I shed tears for her and her life, the terrible things she has to go through.

Overall, this book is amazing. I have absolutely no complaints. I have to pick up the next one, which of course I bought because I have a problem, as soon as possible.

 

Amazing New Covers and an Awesome Goodreads Update

In the past few weeks, there have been some amazing cover reveals for two of my most anticipated upcoming releases! 2017 is going to be a great year for books, I tell you what.

This first one is a recent favorite series of mine. I have been obsessed with it since I picked up the first book, and have reread the two books that are out several times. The cover was revealed at the end of January. The other is a series is that I’ve invested a lot of time and money into and freaking love. The cover was just released yesterday.

img_0023A Court of Wings and Ruin – Sarah J. Maas

To be released May 2, 2017

Looming war threatens all Feyre holds dear in the third volume of the #1 New York Times bestselling A Court of Thorns and Roses series. Feyre has returned to the Spring Court, determined to gather information on Tamlin’s maneuvering and the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees. But to do so she must play a deadly game of deceit – and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well. As war bears down upon them all, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords – and hunt for all allies in unexpected places. In this thrilling third book in the #1 New York Times bestselling series from Sarah J. Maas, the earth will be painted red as mighty armies grapple for power over the one thing that could destroy them all.

DOESN’T THAT SOUND SO GOOOOOOD??  Oh man, I am so excited for this book and this cover is gorgeous. I loved A Court of Thorns and Roses and was OBSESSED with A Court of Mist and Fury, so I know this will be just as amazing. I can’t wait to see what happens to Feyre and Rhysand and their world. Sarah is an amazing writer and I know she’ll produce something amazing! Is it May yet?

img_0022The Trouble with Twelfth Grave – Darynda Jones

To be released October 31, 2017

Ever since Reyes escaped from a hell dimension in which Charley accidentally trapped him, his volatile tendencies have put Charley in a bit of a pickle. But that’s not the only briny vegetable on her plate. While trying to domesticate the feral being that used to be her husband, she also has to deal with her everyday life of annoying all manner of beings—some corporeal, some not so much—as she struggles to right the wrongs of society. Only this time she’s not uncovering a murder. This time’s she’s covering one up.

When someone starts attacking humans who are sensitive to the supernatural world, Charley knows it’s time to let loose her razor sharp claws. Then again, her number one suspect is the dark entity she’s loved for centuries. So the question becomes, can she tame her unruly beast before it destroys everything she’s worked so hard to protect?

This series is amazing. I love that it’s so different from other books out there, but it’s a big time investment because there are SO many books. But it’s worth it because this story is addicting. I’m a little behind, I think about two books, but you bet your buttocks I’ll be caught up by the time October 31 comes around!

Are there any books that you’re excited about this year? Let me know in the comments because I love to discover new books and authors!

Also – there has been a freaking amazing update to Goodreads!

I am a person who rereads books. It love reading new books, obviously, but I find myself about every other book or so returning to a book I’ve loved before. I am new(ish) to Goodreads and have been a lot more active on it within the past year. But now that I’m committing to reaching my Goodreads goal, I’ve been rereading less and it makes me sad. BUT NOW THE TIME HAS COME.

Goodreads has listened to us amazing readers and added in the reread option! I AM SO EXCITED. IT’S THE LITTLE THINGS IN LIFE THAT MAKE ME HAPPY.

https://www.goodreads.com/blog/show/817-rereading-is-here-let-s-say-it-again-rereading-is-here

That is the official announcement for Goodreads and I am so pumped. I love spending time with my utmost favorite characters and their stories from my favorite books. Goodreads has made it so you can add the books that you reread toward your reading challenge goal. It also keeps track of how many times you’ve reread a book in a much easier way. Thanks Goodreads for looking out for us rereaders! We greatly appreciate it!

I tried it out because I just reread It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover, because I love to cry apparently, and all I had to do it mark as Currently Reading and then when I finished it I say that I’ve finished it and ta-da! Like magic!

I’m hoping to get back to reviews soon. I’ve been out of town because of work (we were at an awards banquet where I won first and third place – woohoo!) and now I’m super sick so… yay life!

 

 

 

 

My inner Whovian freaked out..

You might not know this about me, but I love Doctor Who. I’m a Whovian… there, I said it. Are you happy?

Great, me too.

Anyway. That relates to this book I read, I swear.

I found this book because of the Booktube, as usual, and I bought it when it was on sale on Amazon. I didn’t read it for awhile, and I don’t really know why. I just had other things to do. But when I did finally decide it was time, it was at like 9:00 p.m. One of the only times I can read on a regular weeknight is before I go to bed, but when I do that, I can’t stop and stay up until 3:30 a.m. finishing a book. I work at 8:00 a.m., so it’s not really conducive to my every day life. But I can’t be stopped. Send help.

Hey, just a heads up. My “reviews” are usually full of spoilers. I can’t contain myself. If you love Doctor Who, Sherlock and contemporary books – you’ll love this. Take my word for it. Go read it! Once you do, come on back. We’ll have a good ol’ chat.

Allons-y!

30532736London Belongs to Me – Jacquelyn Middleton 

Meet Alex, a recent college graduate from Tallahassee, Florida in love with London, pop culture, and comic cons. It’s not easy being twenty-one-years-old, and Alex has never been the most popular girl. She’s an outsider, a geeky fangirl … with dreams of becoming a playwright in a city she’s loved from afar, but never visited. Fleeing America after a devastating betrayal, she believes London is where she’ll be understood, where she belongs. But Alex’s past of panic attacks and broken relationships is hard to escape. When her demons team up with a jealous rival determined to destroy her new British life, Alex begins to question everything: her life-long dream, her new friends, and whether London is where she truly belongs.

 

“The coolest thing about fandom is the friendships made along the way with people who share your passions.”

I am a fangirl. Yes, I’ll admit it. I’m almost 29 and I still fangirl about a lot of things. No reason to hide it. I will not be ashamed of the fact that I like to freak out about the things I love. Like Doctor Who, for instance.

I think maybe that’s why I loved this book so much. It wasn’t the best written book, but I loved this main character because I could relate so much to her. Alex is 21/22, just graduated college and leaves everything behind to move to London, the place she’s been in love with but has never visited. I was jealous of her, in awe of her for being able to do that. I myself love London even though I’ve never been. I think it’s gorgeous, and I love all things British. Yes please, give me that good accent.

She follows her dream of being a playwright, and what better place than London! It helps to have a friend there, good ol’ Harry, who I liked, didn’t like and then kind of liked in the end. Harry and I are on shaky terms. They were inseparable in college, and he was there for her during an extremely rough time in her life, so I’ll give him props for that.

What I won’t give him props for is his girlfriend/evil villain, Olivia. UGH. So anyway, Alex moves into Harry’s flat (!) with Olivia and her brother Tom and lives in this shoebox of a room/closet. I felt terrible for her. But she’s written this really great play about these super strong and amazing women. She’s ready to see what London can do for her.

I knew that Olivia was going to steal Alex’s play from the moment she offered to read it. I knew that Alex was going to be the better writer and Olivia would be jealous and steal it. And guess what – she did! I freaking hated Olivia from the moment we met her. I didn’t really know Harry that well yet, but if he chose to be with someone like Olivia, then my opinion of him plummeted. Just… why? There were times I felt like Olivia was too over-the-top bitchy, if that make sense. I mean, she was pure evil. Deep into her core evil. I kind of like my villains to have just one nice quality. Humanize them, in a way. Olivia had none. (Jefferson has beliefs. Burr has none – just popped into my head. HAMILTON!)

Alex meets up with Lucy, who turns out was once her online friend. I really liked that Jacquelyn added this relationship into the book – the online friendship. Especially as a fangirl, it’s great to have that kind of friend who understands you like an online friend can. I think she did a great job developing Alex’s and Lucy’s friendship. Then Lucy introduces her to Freddie and I feel like the three musketeers have formed. Those two saved Alex in London – I don’t know what she would have done without them.

Then there’s Mark. Oh Mark, how swoonworthy. That Irish accent, yes please. He was such a nice guy, and I liked how their relationship began as a friendship. So many contemporary books nowadays have that instalove – they fall in love right away and just know that they’re each other’s soulmates. I hate that. Alex and Mark started out as friends and built a foundation onto which they build a romance. They respect each other, they know each other. Loved it.

Alex has a lot of bad luck starting out in London. Olivia gets jealous of hers and Harry’s relationship, even though it’s purely platonic, and makes Alex’s life a living hell – even after stealing her play! I felt terrible for Alex, and I can understand why she would want to give up. But going back home to Florida, where there’s nothing for her, was never an option. I was frustrated with her when she wanted to go back home. Honey, that’s not a good plan. Think that through – you have great friends here in London, you have Mark (swoon) and you have family that cares about you close by. What’s in Florida? A mom who doesn’t care? No job? Friends? Nothing. I was so glad when she figured out she needed to stay. And then moved in with Lucy! How perfect!

I was super proud of her for starting over on a new play, even though it was stupid that she had to in the first place. She created something even better than her first play! Oh – and when Olivia poured coffee onto her laptop! Man, so much freaking drama. I loved it. Of course Alex hadn’t backed up. If that was me, I would have backed up every other minute when creating another piece of work. Look what happened to your first story, girl, learn from your mistakes. Oh well.

Can we just talk about the number of Doctor Who references in this book. I LOVED THEM ALL. I freaked out at every mention of that show. It’s hard for me to find people that love it like I do because apparently no one in my small Iowa town has watched Doctor Who, except for the 15-year-old that got me into it. So it was nice to read about someone who had a my-level obsession. It made my little fangirl heart happy. AND THAT ENDING – “We’re all stories in the end. Just make a good one, eh?” It 3:35 a.m. and I was lying in bed reading on my phone when I got to that point. I read that line, put my phone down and just squealed (sorry neighbors). It’s one of my favorite lines from the show, even though Matt Smith is not my favorite doctor, but a very close second to the one and only David Tennant. But I can still picture Matt sitting on little Amy Pond’s bedside, saying that before he jumps into the crack on her wall, all the while I have tears streaming down my face. Anyway – the amount of Doctor Who in this book just made me so happy. I am not big into Sherlock, but I have watched it and understand the references. But still, that’s one of the reasons why I love this book so much. I want to be Alex’s friend, I want to be in this friend group because I don’t have people like this in my life who I can fangirl with.

I was so proud of Alex in that ending. For standing up to Olivia and for her work. She got her suffragettes back! Eat shit Olivia! An overall happy ending. Other stuff happened, but you’ll just have to read it to find out.

Overall – such a good book. It was cute, fun and enjoyable to read. It was a little hard for me to get into it because of the writing style. She has a very detailed style, and I found myself skimming through some parts because I just didn’t caaare about every single tiny minute detail. The second half of the book flew by, though.

 

Goodbye Ketterdam, it’s been real.

I had high hopes for this book. I loved Six of Crows, so I was hoping its sequel could live up to the hype.

Crooked Kingdom surpassed anything I thought it would be. Leigh Bardugo is a master. I had been reading this for a few weeks now, which is a long time for me. I tend to fly through books because I can’t stand the suspense. But I took my time with this book, that was until last night. I read until 3:00 a.m. I work full time and had to be at my job at 7:30 a.m. Let me just tell you how awake I was for work today….. yeah not.

ANYWAY. Books!

22299763Crooked Kingdom – Leigh Bardugo 

Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn’t think they’d survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they’re right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and left crippled by the kidnapping of a valuable team member, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz’s cunning and test the team’s fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the city’s dark and twisting streets―a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of magic in the Grisha world.

Just an FYI – I have so many favorite quotes from this book. Leigh’s words are magic. She has a beautiful way of writing and I’m living for every moment of it. So here are a FEW of my favorite things.

“I would have come for you. And if I couldn’t walk, I’d crawl to you, and no matter how broken we were, we’d fight our way out together-knives drawn, pistols blazing. Because that’s what we do. We never stop fighting.”

“Have any of you wondered what I did with all the cash Pekka Rollins gave us?”
“Guns?” asked Jesper. “Ships?” queried Inej. “Bombs?” suggested Wylan.
“Political bribes?” offered Nina. They all looked at Matthias. “This is where you tell us how awful we are,” she whispered.”

“Wait,” he said. The burn in his voice was rougher than usual. “Is my tie straight?”

I never thought I’d like a book as much as I love this duology. I thought I was mostly into contemporaries. Little did I know what was waiting for me inside these blood-red pages.

Seriously, I was emotionally destroyed after reading this book. I was crying my eyes out the whole last quarter of that book while lying in my bed at 3:00 in the morning. Not a good look. I adored Six of Crows with a passion so I knew this had to be good. But DAMN this was good.

As part of a spoiler free review: listen. Read this book. The world building is incredible. We get to see so many different cultures, people and places, it’s absolutely amazing.

This book, and Six of Crows, are character driven. And I love all these characters individually. We get such a diverse cast including a disabled main character, victims of trauma working on overcoming their past, those dealing with addictions, characters of different color and religions, abilities and powers, different sexualities. I FREAKING LOVE IT. Leigh does it so well, she gives us so many different lenses to look through by giving each character their own point of view.

Also – the relationships in this book. Ugh. I think they’re much stronger in this book than in Six of Crows, where we’re just getting to meet them and sort of feeling them out. I loved getting to watch them grow in their each own unique way. From different friendships to different romances, each one is wonderful and I love them.

Leigh’s ability to create such a clever plot is outrageous. Things come out of nowhere, but then not out of nowhere at the same time. I was never able to quite connect the dots and figure out what was going on, which is such a breath of fresh air.

LOVED IT.

Okay, so I’m going to go all spoiler-y on you. So if you haven’t read it, go ahead and depart. Thanks for taking the time to read my review! Go read it now. You’ll thank me later.

Here is a picture of with this book before I got to the seriously emotionally devastating moments of this book. I was so happy and naive. img_3648

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Are you gone? Okay great. We’re left with the people who can understand my devastation with this book. It just seemed to have wrecked me.

We start back off in Ketterdam, which I really liked because we didn’t get to see much of it in Six of Crows. I liked getting to know this city and the place that they call home.

But MATTHIAS. Man, I can’t believe it. I’ll be honest and say I never saw it coming. Until he turned around and say that little boy with a gun and I knew he was a goner. We couldn’t have everyone live, could we Leigh? I heard her say in an interview that he was killed by his younger self, which kind of blew my mind. That little boy was how he used to be, filled with so much hate and anger. But Matthias doesn’t die with hate in his heart. His last thought is to save his country and to save Nina. And that made me cry more.

If someone was going to die, I thought it would be in this epic way. Sacrificing themselves for one of their friends, not Matthias quietly getting shot when no one else was around. It was still heartbreaking though. I cried ugly tears.

It made me feel so much for Nina. I really hope that Leigh gives us more Nina because I want to know more about her story. How his death will affect her future, more about her how her powers have changed, etc. She has so much more to tell.

Jesper and Wylan. I LOVE IT. I was so excited when Jesper found “Wylan” at the piano and just went up and kissed him. I was cheering him on, until he realized it wasn’t Wylan but Kuwaii and then I just cringed so hard. And of course Wylan saw it happen. But it ends happily for those two and I was so excited.

Inej and Kaz. Man, they are my favorites forever. I know, Kaz is not a good guy, but he’s not a bad man. I loved getting to watch him change throughout this book, working through his feelings for Inej and oh my god, that scene where he was changing her bandages. Leigh has a great way in creating sexual tension without any sexual content because that scene was HOT.

This ship has sailed, my friends. I have loved them together from the start and I was so beyond happy with this ending for them. When she got that letter from him and went to the docks and there he was with NO GLOVES. WHAAT?! Then the ship comes and it’s for her with her name on it. I about died. And then he found her PARENTS! I love the line, “Wait, is my tie straight?” Bring on the tears! Ugh it’s so cute. I’m so happy about it.

Such amazing characters. I loved them all.

This was such a character-driven book, but the plot was crazy good. There are so many different heists and twists and turns, it was great. Except about three-quarters of the way through, I took a little break. I was getting a little frustrated because we hadn’t resolved a single thing yet. We kept piling this on top of each other of stuff they had to do before they got to do this OTHER stuff. We had to do this and this and this and then we get to do this. I think that’s what took me so long to read this because I was just at a point in this book where I was like – okay, I’m a little confused. What’s happening again? How are we going to fix all of this?”

But Leigh pulled it through in ways that seemed to have come out of nowhere, but really didn’t. It was just so intricately intertwined and well-plotted out. Little details just threw me for a loop because I just kept thinking – WHAT?! And then THAT happened?!

There are so many heartbreaking, tension-filled moments in this book, I could probably write for days. It was beautifully written with amazing characters and a kick-ass plot. Overall, a spectacular book. I’m sad it’s only a duology, but then again I’m not. I’m happy that it’s all wrapped up. Leigh keeps her endings open so she can come back to these characters one day. I hope that happens because I don’t think I’ve had my fill of these criminals.

10 out of 10 will recommend forever! I have not read the Grisha trilogy but I think I will now. I have become addicted to Leigh’s writing.

 

 

A Surprise Book is the Best Kind of Book

I do love me a good surprise, that is for sure.

Have you ever had an author drop a bomb on you before? A surprise new book, for instance? Well, that’s what Jay Crownover did. I’m a huge Jay fan, the Marked Men series is my ultimate fave – and Rule is my bae (God, I hate myself for using that word. Bleh).

A few weeks ago, Jay dropped the big surprise on all of us – she’s released a surprise book! She’s been vocal in the books she’s releasing, and I’m excited about each and every one, but this one is different. She self-published this one, which I respect very much. She believed enough in this story and had faith in us readers as well. And boy, did she deliver.

This was my last book of 2016 and it ended on a pretty steamy note…

33558912Retreat – Jay Crownover

Every once in a while, you need to get away from it all. I was a woman on the edge, shaken and shattered after a breakup that felt like it tore my entire world apart. My best friend, sick of watching me drown in misery and melancholy, harassed me until I agreed to go with her on a week-long wilderness retreat.

She promised days spent bonding and getting in touch with our inner bad-asses.
It was supposed to be all about the two of us roughing it and making do with the bare minimum. She assured me we were going to be pushed to our limits in ways that were unimaginable. Neither one of us could have ever guessed just how right she was.

Nowhere in the glossy brochure did it say anything about the fact I was going to have to battle the insufferable but deliciously rugged and sexy trail guide instead of the elements. The brochure also forgot to mention the part that warned when you left civilization behind, there was no place to pack your inhibitions and fears.

I was told that I would be facing a week where the only thing I should expect was the unexpected. However, no one mentioned that I was going to have to fight for my life…and my heart as soon as I ventured into the unknown.

I was a pro at hiding from my feelings but when it came time to face a real threat, one that could change everything, I learned I was more of a no surrender, no retreat kind of girl.

“For this man, I could be a pillar. He taught me how. He showed me I could stand and not fall, even with someone else’s considerable weight learning into me for support. I could be just as unmovable and as strong as he was. I could hold him up effortlessly.”

“I could definitely more than like you, Leo.”

“Everything that is precious and valuable is usually kept behind glass. It takes someone unafraid of the shards and the edges to break through that so that they can get to the treasure inside.”

“Women need to hold other women up and not drag them down.”

I have loved Jay’s work for a long time. I wish I could remember the first time I found out about her, but I’m glad I did because she’s introduced to a lot of other New Adult authors, and really the New Adult world in general. Now I can’t be stopped! Jay’s amazing writing and storytelling instantly transported me to the wilderness of Wyoming, and I never wanted to leave.

There was so much to love about this book. I can honestly say I enjoyed it a lot more than some of her other books. If you look back on some of my other Jay reviews, her Saints of Denver series is not my favorite. But this book was like a breath of fresh air. Don’t get me wrong, I love The Point and the Marked Men. It was just nice to dig into something completely different, and a western no less! Those types of books are what got me into romance books in the first place – I bought so many mass market paperback western romances at many a garage sale and devoured them. Who doesn’t love a hot cowboy?

Which leads me to Cy. He is one hunk of a not quite a cowboy. He is pretty much everything a girl could ask for: protective, rugged, rough around the edges but with a sweet center. He’s a hero through and through, and that hits right at my soul. I’m a sucker for a guy who can step up and be the hero. Ugh. Be still my heart.

And then there’s our leading lady, Leo. Jay warned us going into this book that she might take some getting used to, but I loved Leo immediately. I related to her in a lot of ways, although we didn’t go through the same types of situations,  I really understood where she’s coming from and why she feels the way she does. Jay excels at making her characters real and relatable. Not matter what situation these characters find themselves in, there’s always some way to find a connection with them deep down. I loved getting to watch Leo grow and evolve in her own way. Such a good character. Which is a nice change because there are some female characters in the Saints of Denver series I do NOT enjoy…. Anyway.

I don’t want to go into the thick of the plot because I think that’s something you should dive into blind because that’s what I did and it was a fun ride. The suspense was high and I loved it! I also enjoyed the world Jay created in this book – this awesome ranch in the middle of nowhere Wyoming. It made me want to go out and do what Leo and Emrys planned to do, even if I’m not an outdoors person whatsoever. Well, I do like to go camping, especially if I pack some books! Big surprise…

Not only does Jay create great main characters, but the supporting cast was great. I can’t wait to read about Cy’s brothers, both of whom will get their own books. I really liked Emrys as well. She goes through some really tough stuff on this trip to Wyoming and I can’t wait to read how she moves on from what she experienced in a story to come!