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Something Like Hate by Claudia Burgoa–Review

Miller and Claire were a joy to read. Claudia brought us something lighthearted and fun, but still had emotional development throughout the book. Neither necessarily believed in love and romance, but sometimes you find what you’re looking for when you’re not really looking.

‘The only one holding me in one piece is Miller Archer, and I’m not sure how I’ll survive the rest of my life without him.’

Claire is a slave to her job. She loves what she does, but is always being disturbed by her boss, Darth Vader (Devon Evans) and ultimately by his boss, Emperor Palpatine (Miller Archer). Claire is on her way to a well-deserved vacation, where she runs into Miller. Miller is off to his sister’s destination wedding when he finds out his ‘plus one’ has cancelled. If he doesn’t want to be set up by his mother, he needs to bring a date. By sheer fate, he bumps into Claire Solis, his number one employee. World meet Miller’s plus one, Claire, only through a little bribery.

‘”So, it’s just for now, nothing serious?” she finally asks. “It’ll be casual, brief, and yet unforgettable,” I promise and seal it with another kiss.’

Things look like they are going swimmingly for this (fake) new couple, but be careful, because not all things are meant to last. Things begin to fall apart for them, both personally and professionally. Fast forward a couple years and Miller has a rough road in front of him. Claire is it, but he’s got a lot to prove.

Claire and Miller are incredible leads. Claire she’s feisty and a strong-willed person, while Miller is an Alpha, but soon learns that you catch more bees with honey than with vinegar. It’s nice to see a man that is alpha fall to his knees for ‘the girl’.
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Something Like Hate is a wonderful read. You will feel a tug on the heartstrings and get a little emotional as well.

‘Miller Archer and I were like two stars who collided one night. We merged together, burnt like a thousand suns, and instead of becoming a new star; we collapsed into a black hole.’

Hush, Hush by Lucia Franco–Review

Knock, knock…Please, enter into the world of hot, steamy, seductive, and oh, so forbidden, but I must warn you, leave your morals at the door!!

Aubrey is our heroine. She is your average twenty-one-year-old college student who lives with her best friend, loves her Grammy more than anything, and is trying to finish her senior year while struggling at two jobs to keep her and Grammy afloat.

Aubrey is your typical college senior, trying to figure out what she’s going to do with her life. She comes from nothing and is resolute that she most likely will have nothing (financially speaking). Her BFF, Natalie, is in the opposite boat. She has a trust fund but refuses to use it and does whatever she wants/can to live in the life of luxury that she is used to. Aubrey begins to like the perks she experiences while going out with Natalie and money soon becomes prominent is her pursuit of living. Aubrey is presented with what could potentially be a financial windfall, but it comes with one stipulation, leave your morals at the door.

Ok, so I’m going to upfront and honest here. I have sat on this review for a while, simply because I had no idea what I was going to say or how I was going to rate it. I’m not a prude, so that wasn’t my issue, although, there were a couple things that raised the ‘ole eyebrow. I had such a hard time getting into the book until about 52%. The first half was slow and disjointed and quite frankly, Aubrey annoyed me. She wasn’t a heroine I could get behind. The second half moved a little quicker, but we are also finally introduced to the hero and a big ole secret.

I have heard nothing but good things about this author and even though this is my first book of hers, I would be willing to try again.

Severance by N.N. Britt–Review

5 ‘Cupcake’ Stars

There are unfortunate tragedies that happen in the world today. Despicable, unfathomable and horrendous acts that occur every single day, hour, and minute. They are acts that may be uncomfortable and unpleasant to talk about and read about.  But have you ever put yourself in these people’s shoes and think what they may be going through or have gone through? N.N. Britt tackled a very heavy subject with sympathy, grace, understanding, and compassion. When she wrote, Severance, she left everything on the floor, including me. I have been drained and wrenched of any and all emotion within my body leaving me wrecked.

“We’re not victims” …” Survivors”

Alana Novak has many nicknames, Cupcake Queen, Virgin Mary, and church mouse, but who she really is, is an eighteen-year-old college freshman, who lives at home (not by choice), and has incredibly overprotective parents who are very religious. Alana is a young girl who is trying to find herself without all the restrictions laid before from her parents. Besides college, she has a passion for blogging and baking. She has a best friend, Jess, who is the quintessential friend who tries to ‘corrupt’, ahem, I mean push her outside of her box boundaries.

 

Alana and Jess attend a concert one night to see their favorite band, Black Rose. While there, they meet an up and coming new band, Midnight Rust and specifically, Alana meets her future boyfriend, Dakota Bennett. Immediate attraction brews between the two and they become as inseparable as two can be, with a set of overprotective parents. Dakota has a brother, Mikah Bennett, who is also part of Midnight Rust. If you think you know where this story is going, STOP, because it is so well done, that Ms. Britt has attached a part of Severance to my soul.

“I think I’m dreaming and one day, I’m going to wake up and he’ll be gone. And I’m dreading that moment like I’m dreading the end of the world.’

Mikah, Mikah, Mikah. My heart bleeds for him. He is a tortured, brooding, and silent screaming soul who is trying to find his place in this world. When a tragic event happens, this is even more amplified.

“Do you wanna know what I feel?” he continues. I hold my breath; my heart’s stuck in my throat. “Do you want to know what it’s like to always be second best, Alana?”

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I know Ms. Britt can write and if you’ve read, Rapture, you may know this as well. If you haven’t that’s ok, because she blew it out of the park in her writing skills in Severance. While she was pulling, twisting, and dragging the emotions out of me, she was also healing me with her writing style, unique situations and incredible storyline. Let me just say that I am in awe and privileged to have gone on this journey with her. I have to say, that honestly, I don’t know if I could ever give enough kudos, props, and accolades to N.N. Britt and Severance. What I can say is a definite ‘best of 2019’ book.

Honorable mention quotes:

“You’re my weird, Cupcake Queen.”

“I don’t know if he understands what I see is beautiful. I don’t have any other words to describe him.”

“He’s everything I ever wanted in a man. I just didn’t realize it until I got to know him.”

“I would die for you…if that would make you happy again.”

“No one wanted me. Ever.”

Defying Gravity by KK Allen–Review

I used to think that reading a second chance romance book was semi-pointless. I mean, you know how it’s going to end, right? They’ll end up together and all is well. I am more than happy to acknowledge that I have been wrong over the years. It’s not about the ending, it’s all about the journey. Cliché, I know, but when I read a book as well written as Defying Gravity, I just acquiesce.

Tobias and Amelia grabbed me from the beginning with their young love and hopeful optimism. What started as a spring fling turned into more than either expected. Tobias is the silent, brooding, tormented older brother to Trinity, Amelia’s best friend. He is ‘Malibu Gold’ (from Falling from Gravity, a free prequel out now), athletic, smart, and good looking. He was NBA bound and the future was looking bright, until some unknown news had rocked him off his axis.

“We kept moving forward. Apart. And time kept ticking on, until I tossed all hope into the ocean’s depths, knowing fully well it would drown there.”

Amelia had known from early on that she wanted to be a dancer. Specifically, for the LA Lions Dance Crew. Amie, as she is known by to her LA friends, also experiences some things that knock her off her axis. As off kilter as their lives may be, they both felt at home and content in each other’s arms. The funny little thing about life is that it happens and sometimes you can’t control it. Wrong place, wrong time. Wrong time, right place. Wrong place, right time. Right place, right time. In Tobias and Amelia’s situation, it didn’t matter what they wanted, because life was leading them to where they were supposed to go. They were two beings who were circling the drain, trying desperately to defy gravity.

“This isn’t you. This isn’t us. We make our own rules, remember? We defy gravity.”

Toby and Amie have experienced a lifetime full of life in their young ages, but they also gained a lot of perceptive. I loved the grit, tenacity and determination that they both possess. It was evident that these were individual characteristics that were only strengthened when they were closer together.

“We’re in the same city again. And you know what they say about gravity and proximity.”

“The closer objects are, the stronger their gravitational pull.”

What was beautifully written (but, oh, so frustrating to the reader) was the back and forth nature of the storyline. I promise it’s a good thing, but I just wanted to scream at them to get their crap together. Remember, I said it’s about the journey with these two and it was flipping incredible. When I read the final word, I just wanted to sit, smile, and cry. Well done, Ms. Allen. Defying Gravity is my favorite of yours by far!!

On a side note, I loved all the dances that were used as inspiration. As a former dancer, it was wonderful to see these hard working dancer/choreographers getting some recognition.

(In the upper right hand corner, three lines with a play arrow will allow you to see the whole list.)

 

First and Forever (Heartache duet, #2) by Jay McLean–Review

Jay McLean is a new author to me, but after reading the ‘Heartache duet’ she just gained a true lifelong reader. Heartache and Hope was well written, but First and Forever was so well written that if I could give it 10 ⭐, I would. The grammar portion of the writing was top notch (as it was in H and H), it was the extras in writing I’m talking about. Jay dug into these characters and pulled back the layers. She got to the meaty, nitty, gritty of it all and didn’t have to sacrifice a darn thing. She played your heartstrings like she was the third member of 2 Cellos or she was first chair in the violins at the New York Philharmonic playing, ‘Flight of the bumblebee’. She played hard and got the reaction she was looking for. Uber emotional.
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First and Forever picked up right where Heartache and Hope left off. Connor is still the standup man or kid trying to do right by everyone. The maturity he displayed was overwhelming, incredible and heartbreaking while retaining the little boy innocence of youth at the same time. Connor is truly a standout character.

I applaud Jay for tackling some tough real-life issues with Momma Jo, because as much as this is Connor and Ava’s story, Jo is a very vital character in it all. I have had the pleasure to work with patients like her and her depiction was spot on. PTSD and mental health are some overlooked issues. Easy to diagnose on paper, but not so accurate when speaking about each person individually and finding the best care for them. There a lot of misconceptions when these two diagnoses get thrown around. Well done, Jay!!
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As a sequel, it accomplished everything it should have, but it truly is the whole duet here. I felt torn apart, pulverized, shocked, stepped on, broken and full of tears. Then, magically, as if this story was written for me specifically, I felt being put back together piece by piece, held in such delicate hands to encourage healing and finally beaming in love and happiness knowing that I was made into a better person. Exquisite!
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Malum part 2 by Amo Jones–Review

Seriously, a part of me wants to just say to you all, ‘Just read the book. Don’t hesitate, don’t think twice, just one-click this baby and read.’ However, that really isn’t a review now is it?

I am wrecked, flabbergasted, suspicious of everything and everyone. Dare I say happy? I’m afraid if I do, Ms. Jones is going to throw another one of her epic monkey wrenches in everything and take that away. I’ll admit I said this before about a couple of books, but Malum part 2, truly did destroy me and rip me apart. I’m still unsure how I’m being put back together, but my love for Tillie and Nate is strong. 

Tillie is the epitome of savage. She is hardcore, smart, will defend herself and others, if needed. In a sense, she is like Robin Hood. He gave money to the poor, while Tillie defends those that are frailer and weaker than her. She doesn’t take any crap from anyone. However, there is one person that can slip past her defenses no matter how many times she puts a wall up. Nate.

Nate has left me speechless. He had just evolved tremendously from part 1 to now. Malum part 1 felt like boys playing King of the Hill on the schoolyard. Malum part 2 brings on a whole new ballgame for The Kings. It’s no more King of the Hill their playing, now it’s King of the World and watch out world, because these boys mean and do what they say. Their lives are one big chess match and you don’t want to cross Tillie and her Kings. They have matured, evolved in their roles within the group and quite frankly are bad@ss. Nate was larger than life. He appeared to fill in every space wherever he was. He is domineering, scary, hot and plain excelled in his role with the Kings. Tillie and Nate are two puzzle pieces trying to find their match. The downside to finding your match with these two is that they are explosive together and if you don’t watch out, you will get burned. 

Amo Jones has seriously done it again. She held back no punches, displayed the chemistry that just blew up the page, took you on a ride full of up’s, down’s, twist’s and turns. As jarring and addicting as it was, one of my favorite things was when Tillie and the Kings just sat back, relaxed, bantered and had a few laughs. They emanated the whole feeling of family, despite not necessarily being blood related. 

Amo you continually mesmerize me with your talented writing. I know when I read an Amo Jones’ book, I will have had everything drawn out of me and be left breathless. In Malum 1, I was full of ‘no way’ and ‘oh my gosh where is this going’? In Malum 2, all questions from part I were answered, and you have left me spent and emotional.

Congratulations on a well-done book and I can’t wait for what’s next!!

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️Wickedly and delicious Royal stars.

Trouble at Brayshow High by Meagan Brandy–Review

 

“Raven Carver, she does whatever the hell she wants, makes shitty judgment calls in a snap that you never see coming, and hopes it’ll all work out in the end, fuck the consequences. I can’t fucking stand it.”

Trouble at Brayshaw High, picks up where we left of in BOBH and, no, I will not tell you where it picks up or give you any spoilers. When BOBH ended, I had a lump in my throat and was sitting on pins and needles as to where this could go. I was never so excited than when I opened my library and 🎵AHHH🎵 Trouble had finally arrived. Now, here, I sit about five days later STILL trying to process everything I have read. If you read my emoticon review, it still all applies. I feel like I’ve gone on a roller coaster that is inverted, with eight consecutive loops, occasionally will go backwards all while swinging from side to side. Meagan Brandy, what have you done to me??

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I fell hard for the leads in Boys at Brayshaw High. I truly didn’t think I could love Trouble more, but I do. Gosh, Maddock, Captain and Royce are more realistic with a bigger than life presence. I fell HARD for Maddock. He just appeared to be bigger, badder and with `a more encompassing persona/presence. Oh, man, I love that guy. I was happy to see that Captain and Royce had also come out of their shell more and displayed a bigger part of their personalities. Captain is the guy you just want to cuddle with or get a big bear hug from. Royce is that sentimental guy with a jokester attitude.

“Go on, play your games, baby. I’ve got more moves than you can handle.”

Ms. Raven Carver. Round of applause for showing who has the bigger balls in the Brayshaw world. She is a force to be reckon with. She has fought her scrappy way to get respect and devotion from those around her. Raven has learned early on that she needs to be resourceful, independent and cunning to get by in this game called life. What was beautiful to see was how Raven matured between the two books. Ok, I will admit, she still does Raven-like things, but she is somewhat more cautious with it. The character development of the foursome was spot-on and enjoyable to watch.

“Together, three strong, we head inside for our fourth man.”

Madman and Raven are being their usual selves, continuing to butt heads yet fight for their relationship. They are learning to trust each other and rely on each other. Maddock and Raven’s relationship is a joy to watch. They are completely each other’s matching puzzle piece.
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Re-iterating from BOBH is that Meagan Brandy is a flipping genius. There are good storytellers and then there are out of this world storytellers. Any idea which category Meagan falls into? Her storytelling capabilities pull you in and make you feel like you are a part of the story and these characters are more than characters, they are your friends. Now, how many of you are willing to go back to high school? I sure am, if it includes being in this little posse!! Whether you follow the ‘5 essential elements of a story’ or ‘The 7 key elements of a narrative’, Meagan Brandy has it all!! So, again, here I sit on pins and needles, anxiously awaiting book three!!

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