Ellie reads fiction

27 Jan 2015

Waiting on Wednesday: Waiting for the Flood by Alexis Hall


Waiting on Wednesday is a book meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine and it features books that we are eagerly awaiting to be released.

Title: Waiting for the Flood
Author: Alexis Hall
Genre/Themes: m/m romance
Release Date: 23 February 2015

Add on Goodreads
Pre-order links: Riptide




Synopsis

People come as well as go.

Twelve years ago, Edwin Tully came to Oxford and fell in love with a boy named Marius. He was brilliant. An artist. It was going to be forever.

Two years ago, it ended.

Now Edwin lives alone in the house they used to share. He tends to damaged books and faded memories, trying to a build a future from the fragments of the past.

Then the weather turns, and the river spills into Edwin’s quiet world, bringing with it Adam Dacre from the Environment Agency. An unlikely knight, this stranger with roughened hands and worn wellingtons, but he offers Edwin the hope of something he thought he would never have again.

As the two men grow closer in their struggle against the rising waters, Edwin learns he can’t protect himself from everything—and sometimes he doesn't need to try.

*** *** ***

I discovered Alexis Halls' books last year and he qucikly became an autobuy for me. This contemporary m/m romance is set in the same world as Glitterland which I loved (my review). Knowing Mr. Hall's absolutely mesmerizing writing style, I'm sure this story will a pleasure to read.

23 Jan 2015

Review: Holding Strong by Lori Foster


Title: Holding Strong (Ultimate #2)
Author: Lori Foster
Genre: Romantic suspense, MMA fighters
Release Date: 31 March 2015

Author's links:
Website / Twitter / Facebook / Goodreads

My rating: 3 Stars
Add on Goodreads



Synopsis

An up-and-coming MMA fighter wants more than just one night from a woman fleeing her past in New York Times bestselling author Lori Foster's irresistible new novel 

Heavyweight fighter Denver Lewis plays real nice, but he doesn't share. That's why he's been avoiding top-notch flirt Cherry Peyton. But a man can only resist those lush curves for so long. Their encounter surpasses all his fantasies, bringing out protective urges that Cherry's about to need more than she knows… 

Denver's combination of pure muscle and unexpected tenderness has been driving Cherry wild. Yet no sooner does she get what she's been craving than old troubles show up on her doorstep. And this time, Cherry can't hide behind a carefree facade. Because the man by her side is one who'll fight like hell to keep her safe…if only she'll trust him enough to let him.

Review

This is the second novel in the series after a full-length book on Cannon and a novella on. It's a nice MMA fighter romance but I felt it lacked something to make it stand out and there are a couple of things in it that really annoyed me.

There were far too many cliches which made the story predictable and somewhat boring. At the same time, the conflict seemed over the top and unrealistic which added to my overall disappointment.

The hero and heroine presented the whole set cliches about femininity and masculinity. She is cute and sweet, the damsel-in-distress and he is the big alpha fighter who comes and saves her. Both of them are sexy in very classical sense and they seem too good (in appearance) to be real.

Cherry acted immature and childish a lot of the time and it was annoying though Denver's character compensated for this. He was a bit of caveman - over-protective and possessive but I think his back story was good ground for his behaviour and he did work hard to tone it down and be a better partner to Cherry.

Cherry and Denver's story is similar in many ways to Cannon and Yvette's. Unfortunately, Cherry did have a lot of the characteristics which I hated in Yvette - naive, childish, stubborn.

The romantic relationship started really abruptly and it happened too fast. There wasn't much development at the beginning but towards the end, things seemed more realistic.

I did love the other fighters and their easygoing camaraderie, they were teasing each other all the time, yet they stood up by and supported each other when the occasion arrived.

I liked the side stories of Stack and Vanity and the additional peaks we get of Armie who is my absolute favourite in this series. There were two distinctive secondary plots which I found a bit distracting though they both facilitated the development of the main plot. 

It's a sweet romance, a bit over-the-top, a bit predictable and cliched but fans of contemporary romance, especially involving alpha male fighters and cute, a bit clueless heroines, would enjoy this. 

Pre-order link: Amazon

20 Jan 2015

Waiting on Wednesday: Nothing Like Paris by Amy Jo Cousins


Waiting on Wednesday is a book meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine and it features books that we are eagerly awaiting to be released.

Title: Nothing Like Paris (Bend or Break #2)
Author: Amy Jo Cousins
Genre/Themes: Romance, New Adult, M/M
Release Date: 3 March 2015

Add on Goodreads
Pre-order:  Amazon / B&N / Kobo / iBooks.







Synopsis


Humble pie wasn’t supposed to taste this sweet.

Jack Tarkington’s life is in the toilet. He was supposed to be spending his junior year studying someplace cool like Paris or Rome. Instead, after taking out his anger on the campus “golden boy”, whose dad ripped off his parents, Jack is facing possible expulsion.

Sure, it’s all his own fault, but coming back to the small Iowa town he thought he’d escaped, after crowing about his admission to a prestigious school, has been a humbling experience.

When he runs into Miguel, Jack braces for backlash over the way he lorded it over his old friend and flame. Instead, Miguel offers him friendship—and a job at his growing farm-to-table store and cafĂ©.

Against the odds, both guys bond over broken dreams and find common ground in music. But when Jack’s college gives him a second chance, he’s torn between achieving a dream that will take him far from home, and a love that strikes a chord he’ll never find anywhere else.

Warning: This book contains a humbled guy who’s on the brink of losing it all, a determined entrepreneur who seems to have it all together, apologies issued through banjo-picking duets, and two lovers who can play each other’s bodies like virtuosos.


*** *** ***

Why am I waiting for this? - I recently read the first book in the series, Off Campus (my review), and I quite enjoyed it. These are New Adult series (first two books are m/m but the third will be f/m) which I find very well and engagingly written. This is Jack's story and he was sort of the bad guy in the first book, so I'm curious how Ms Cousins will turn things around with him. 

19 Jan 2015

My 2014 in Books

My 2014 in Books


I'm late to this party but I figured it's still Januray, so it's OK to post how my 2014 looks in terms of the books I read.


Total books read: 135


1. Best Book You Read In 2014?

Can't pick just one, sorry. I've already posted my top 16 best reads of 2014 in two posts - Part I and Part II

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

No limits (Ultimate #1) by Lori Foster - I wanted so much more for Cannon in this book. I find the heroine really annoying
3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read in 2014? 
Complicated Creatures series (Part I, Part II and a novella in between) by Alexi Lawless. I started this series after the author sent me an unsolicited request to review the first book. I rarely take up such requests since I don't have the time any more but for some reason I decided to give this romantic suspense a try and I'm so happy I did. It was the best possible surprise, a very well written, fast-paced and engaging read with strong characters.

4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did) In 2014?

5. Best series you started in 2014? 
Psy-changeling by Nalini Singh - my first PNR and I'm loving it. I've also read all the free stories of the author's site and the accompanying novellas. Can't wait for the next book, Shards of Hope, coming out in June 2015.











6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2014?
A tie between Sarina Bowen (The Ivy Years series) and Molly O'Keefe (Boys of Bishop series)
   


7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read?
Half a King (Shattered Sea #1) by Joe Abercrombie - I don't typically read much fantasy but I enjoyed this one a lot


8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year? 
The Kraken King by Meljean Brook - steampunk adventure romance











9. Book You Read In 2014 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year? 
Prosperity by Alexis Hall - it's such a beautiful and complex story and I'm sure I'll discovered things I've missed the first time round










10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2014? 
Sun-kissed by Laura Florand- It's not my favourite Laura Florand's book but the cover took my breath away the first time I saw it











11. Most memorable character of 2014? 
Drew Runous - Beauty and the Mustache by Penny Reid - a beared poet, philosopher, musician, alpha man, mountain game keeper!

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2014?
Prosperity by Alexis Hall - written in thieves cant but the descriptions are mesmerizing,

The Chocolate Temptation - Laura Florand just writes the most deliciously sensual romances
 


13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2014?
Everything by Alexis Hall I read this year!

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2014 to finally read? 
Psy-changeling series - I'm late to this party but I managed to catch up and now I'm addicted to this series











15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2014? - Probably the most difficult question since I don't reread and rarelt mark passages in my books. Still, this one pretty much stayed with me.


"Dunno what I'd have done, if I'd been Ruben. truth is, I reckon most of us go through life begging folk to love us, one way or another. It's just I can't imagine having the bollocks, or the need, ot say it direct."
Piccadilly from Prospery by Alexis Hall 

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2013?
At Peace - Kristen Ashley - 660 pp.
Glitterland: Aftermath - Alexis Hall - 28 pp

17. Book That Shocked You The Most.
Unravel - Calia Read - not what you'd expect from a NA romance, more of a psychological thriller than romance











18. OTP (One True Pairing) of the Year
Miss Frederica "Free" Marshall and Edward Clark from The Suffragette Scandal by Courtney Milan. I loved this two and their coming together was just a pleasure to read!

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year
Shadowed heart by Laura Florand - the relationship between all the French chocolatiers











20. Favorite Book You Read in 2014 From An Author You’ve Read Previously. 
Beauty and Mutache - Penny Reid










21. Best Book You Read In 2014 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else.
Liesmith (Book of Wyrd #1) - Alis Franklin - It was an interesting and unusual read, a bit difficult and I wished I had enjoyed it more











22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2014? 
Drew Runous - Beauty and the Mustache by Penny Reid

23. Best 2014 debut you read? 
Bollywood Affair - Sonali Dev










24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year? 
The Kraken King by Meljean Brook

The Emperor's Blades by Brian Staveley




25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?
Love Hacked by Penny Reid











26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2014? 
Snow-kissed by Laura Florand. This short novella about love and loss touched me on a very personal level.











27. Hidden Gem Of The Year? 
Sand and Gold and Ruin by Alexis Hall - a beautifully written heart-breaking short story unlike anything I've read before











28. Book That Crushed Your Soul? (Take that question literally. Take that title seriously.)
Snow-kissed by Laura Florand. This short novella about love and loss touched me on a very personal level.











29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2014? (Don’t ask.)
Prosperity by Alexis Hall - unique both in style of writing and the story itself











30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?
All the books I didn't finish this year made me mad.

This topic was originally part of a blog meme done by Jamie at The Perpetual Page Turner with some more details and the link-up is already closed but I did it mostly fo myself beacuse I though it would be fun to go back through the books I read during the year and pick the most fitting ones for the different question. It took me a while and was frustrating at times, still I'm glad I did and I hope you will enjoy reading the list I've compiled. Feel free to share some of your choices, as always your comments are deeply appreciated.

15 Jan 2015

Review: Evenfall Vol. 1 and 2 by Santino and Ais

This review is of Evenfall: Vol. 1 and 2 Director's Cut  in the LGBT series In the Company of Shadows by Santino Hassell and Ais. It's a dystopian thriller involving secret organizations, assassins and a tender love story. The whole series is self-edited and self-published and it's available for free at http://www.inthecompanyofshadows.com/

I had a friend recommend this book to me more than a year ago but I was intimidated by the size - 4 books with more than 1000 pages each and I felt I jusct couldn't make that committment at the time. As th year went on more and more of my friends read and loved this series. At the end of 2014 I made a promise to myself to start the new year with it and  here I am in the middle of January already done with book 1.

This is more of suspense and action-packed thriller than a romance. There is great world building, enganing story, memorable characters, what more can a reader want.

Title: Evenfall: Vol. 1 Director's Cut
Author: Santino and Ais
Genre: Romantic suspense, Dystopia, M/M

Santino's links:
Website / Twitter / Facebook / Goodreads / Pinterest
Ais' links:
Website / Twitter / Goodreads / 

My rating: Vol.1 - 4 Stars and Vol.2 - 5 Stars
Add on Goodreads / Goodreads

Synopsis

In a post-apocalyptic future, the Agency works behind the scenes to take down opposition groups that threaten the current government. Their goals justify all means, even when it comes to their own agents.

Sin is the Agency's most efficient killer. His fighting skills and talent at assassination have led to him being described as a living weapon. However, he is also known to go off on unauthorized killing sprees, and his assigned partners have all wound up dead.

Boyd is not afraid to die. When his mother, a high-ranking Agency official, volunteers him to be Sin's newest partner, he does not refuse. In fact, his life has been such an endless cycle of apathy and despair that he'd welcome death.

In the newly revised Director's Cut of Evenfall, the first volume follows these two cast-offs as they go from strangers to partners who can only rely on each other while avoiding death, imprisonment, and dehumanization by the Agency that employs them.

Review

Vol. 1 started slow with a lot of descriptions and the introduction of many characters. They were necessary to set the stage but I found them overwhelming at times. On the other hand, I did enjoy the slow development of the relationship between the main characters, Boyd and Hsin.

In terms of plot and even romantically, things picked up around the middle and the ending was the perfect cliffhanger.

The story flowed very smoothly and had me captivated from the start. We got to know the characters in real time, just as they were getting to know each other. It felt natural and realstic if that is a suitable description for a dystopian novel.

The intensity of the realtionship between Boyd and Hsin was beautifully done. They start off as strangers, both of them resigned to their fate and pretty much dead inside and gradually became true partners and friends and ultimately lovers.

It's a pleasure to read the transition in Boyd and Hsin. In the beginning Boyd is lost and desperate, there is no spark or desire to live left in him. He makes more than one mistake but they only make him human and more real. Hsin's transformation was even more amazing. I just felt so much for him. It was not a magical change happening overnight, love/sex didn't cure him. It was a slow process, painful and often misguided, yet it was Boyd's acceptance of Hsin as a human being that ultimately made Hsin see himself as human as well. Their relationship explored a lot of issues, such as self-image, vulnerability, strenght and (self)conrtol. 

The romantic aspect of their relationship took center stage in the first half of Vol. 2. It was intense, and passionate and raw and tender and beautiful. This was a time of first for Hsin and I loved they were presented as unique and unfamiliar experiences for him, yet they reflected his experience in life so far. It was a re-awakening for Boyd who had loved and lost before.

The world building kept expanding, there was lots of action and the plot twists kept me on the edge.

I loved the complexity in both plot and character development and how they balance each other out. The romance is never completely lost even in the roughest times of battle and it never overtakes completely the military aspect of the story.

There are so many supporting characters I met in the series so far and I'm curious to learn more about them. Off to the next book in the series, Interludes.

Recommended read for fans of complex military stories with unexpected twists and turn and hot romance. 



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