Ellie reads fiction

24 Oct 2014

Mini Review: Take by Slivia Ami

Title: Take
Author: Silvia Ami
Date of publication: 29 Aug 2014
Genre: Romantic suspense

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

My rating: 3.5 Stars





Synopsis

When FBI special agent Joss Dubois discovers that her best friend’s life is being threatened, she volunteers to be the Vegas dancer's official protection. Determined to solve the case before she loses one of the only people she loves, Joss becomes caught up in terrorism, attempted murder, and life behind-the-scenes of the seedy nightlife of Sin City.

Joss is forced to partner with the security manager at the Desert Casino, former Intel Marine, Ethan Gallagher. Despite her resistance to his charm, and her stubborn insistence on controlling the investigation, Ethan finds himself drawn to the smart, beautiful, tempting FBI agent. But Joss isn’t so eager to risk heartbreak after the tragedies of her past and her job has become the only thing she can count on.

When the threats against the people they’re protecting turn deadly, Ethan and Joss have to find a way to trust each other to track the hunter who lies in wait for the Desert’s dancers. But trust is a rare and fragile thing to Joss, and Ethan may not be up to the task despite the mutual attraction they can't deny or fight.

Will their new partnership blow up, or can it survive to take down the predator before it’s too late?

Mini Review

It's a debut novel by Silvia Ami and I was provided a copy in exchange of an honest review. I rather enjoyed this complex romantic suspense story.

The romance was strong and slow burning and the chemistry between Ethan and Joss was great. The mystery element was also well done and kept me guessing till the very end. 

I appreciate the strong and professional heroine and the hero who respected her professionalism and tough exterior which hid a tender heart. There was no unnecessary drama and angst in their relationship though there was a lot of going back and forth between them before they came together as a team not just professionally but also as a couple. The chemistry and the sexual tension between Ethan and Joss was just sizzling and i couldn't wait for them to get together.

I had some issues with flow of the story,  it read as choppy and not very smooth at times, but still I liked it a lot. I couldn't really warm up to Dom and Iris. They were good friends to Joss and Ethan and Iris was central to the suspense plot, yet I didn't feel invested in their story. 

Overall, it was a fast-paced romantic suspense with very real and likeable characters. It was easy for me to relate to them and I rooted for their HEA from the start. I loved the refreshing heroine, a strong professional woman who knew who she was and what she wanted and the sensible, sexy hero who was protective  and caring without coming off as oppressive. 

Purchase link: Amazon

23 Oct 2014

Review: Echoes of Scotland Street by Samantha Young

Title: Echoes of Scotland Street (On Dublin Street #5)
Author: Samantha Young
Date of publication: 7 Oct 2014
Genre: Romance
Add on Goodreads

Author's links: Website / Twitter / FacebookGoodreads

My rating: 3.5 Stars



Synopsis

Shannon MacLeod has always gone for the wrong type of man. After she drifted from one toxic relationship to the next, her last boyfriend gave her a wakeup call in the worst possible way. With her world shattered, she’s sworn off men—especially those of the bad-boy variety.

Cole Walker is exactly the sort that Shannon wants to avoid—gorgeous, tattooed, charming, and cocky. But his rough exterior hides a good man who’s ready to find “the one.” He’s determined to pull Shannon from her self-imposed solitude and win her heart.

As Shannon opens up in the face of Cole’s steady devotion, the passion between them ignites to blazing levels. But when Shannon’s past comes back to haunt her, her fears may destroy the trust Cole has built between them—and tear them apart for good…

Review

This is book 5 in On Dublin Street series. I’ve read all the books, except book 2, and I’d recommend that you read them in order, though they can be appreciated as standalones as well.

I was rather disappointed with Hannah and Marco's story in the Before Jamaica lane this made anxious about Cole’s story. I liked it better but still it’s not one of my favourites in the series.

This was a very sweet, NA romance between a supposedly bad boy hero and a heroine who has sworn off of dangerous men.

Cole, whom we met first as a kid in the beginning of the series has grown up to be a fine young man. He is a famous tattoo artist, rough looking, covered in tattooes himself, yet his appearance is totally misleading. He hides a heart of gold and he was the perfect gentleman with everybody. I felt his goodness a bit overdone, too perfect made him bland and far too unrealistic. Still, he was great with his friends and family, and that made him pretty adorable and irresistible.

My main issue in the story was Shannon. She was just shallow and judgemental, quick to dismiss Cole as someone unworthy of her time/attention just because of his looks. Even when they overcame their initial misunderstanding, she kept making wrong decisions and some stupid choices which hurt the people who loved her. She did try to make up for her wrongdoings, yet I wasn’t conviced she deserved Cole.

We see a lot of the previous couples, all with children now. Unlike in the previous novel, here their presence was not overwhelming, but warm and nice. There was the usual craziness surrounding them, together with some touching family moments.

Overall, it was a nice installment in the series, but there was too much artificial drama and angst. All the happy times and the hot chemistry between Cole and Shannon led to just a 3.5 star rating for me.

We meet Shannon’s brother, Logan,  in this story and he will be the hero in the next instalment of the series. The blurb for his story is really intriguing and I can’t wait to read it next year.


Purchase links: AMAZON / B & N

21 Oct 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: Darker Than Desire by Shiloh Walker

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: Darker Than Desire (Secrets and Shadows #3)
Author: Shiloh Walker
Genre: Romantic suspense

Release Date: 3 March 2015

Pre-order links: BN | Amazon | Indiebound | The Book Depository

Add on Goodreads



Synopsis
LUST FOR LIFE

No matter how many times he’s left her in the past, Sybil Chalmers can’t ignore her feelings for the one man who stole her heart years ago. For countless nights, she has waited for him—for his kiss, his touch—and has longed for him to emerge from the shadows of his past. Only when she is in his arms does Sybil really feel alive…and finally, after all these years, that time is now.

A DEADLY DESIRE

He’s a man raised in a world of strict rules and unbreakable traditions and he’s always yearned to break free. But when a family tragedy lures him back home, he finds his one true passion has been there all along. With Sybil, he can explore his greatest potential—and allow her to discover a whole new level of ecstasy. But will a long-buried secret threaten to tear them apart? The only thing he knows for sure is that he will do anything to keep Sybil in his life…and keep her coming back for more.
*** *** ***

This is the final installment of an intense and intriguing romantic suspense series. I recently finished book 2 and it left far too many unresolved issues for me to wait patiently for book 3. March 2015 seems so far away. It’s captivating series, a bit darker than I usually read but I can’t wait for that happy end coming with retribution for terrible crimes. 

Release Day Launch for Rowdy by Jay Crowover

ROWDY RDL Banner 2  

RowdyTitle: Rowdy (Marked Men #5)
Author: Jay Crownover
Publisher: William Morrow, and imprint of HarperCollins
Genre: New Adult, Romance

Release Date: 23 Oct 2014

Purchase links: Amazon * iBooksBarnes and NobleKobo * IndieBound





EXCERPT

WHEN I PUT THE key he had given me in the door to his apartment it felt like the end of a long journey. Really it was only a little over twelve hours and I had stopped to nap once along the way, but it still felt like too long since I had seen his face or been able to touch all that toned and tattooed skin. Jimbo greeted me at the door when I pushed it open. His tongue lolled out of his mouth and he jumped up and put his paws on my legs. He was going to be huge when he finally grew into his fuzzy body and I was overwhelmed at how happy I was to see him. I dropped to my knees and rubbed my face in his neck as he licked me all over my face. I was obviously missed and I had to say it was just one more reason I knew I was finally where I was supposed to be. It was late, so the apartment was dark. 

I checked the dog’s food and water, trying to be quiet in case Rowdy was already asleep. I was winding my way toward his bedroom when a haphazardly discarded sketch pad lying on the couch caught my eye in the dim light. I paused for a minute to pick it up and felt my heart stop and then start to race as I flipped through the first few pages. There were a couple of drawings that were obviously for clients, tattoos that hadn’t made it from paper to skin yet, but most of the pristine white pages were covered with images wearing my face. There was mermaid me, and naughty- sailor- girl me. There was sassy Indian girl me with long Pocahontas braids and there was sexy devil me standing next to angelic me. There were dozens of them all in different shapes and sizes, but every single image was undoubtedly modeled after my distinct look. I wasn’t sure if he had drawn them all over this last week while I had been gone or over the months we had been chasing each other in circles. 

Either way it made my heart swell and the full certainty that I was it for him settle deep inside my bones. I set the pad down and tiptoed through the hall. Jimbo took one look at where I was going and huffed out a disgusted- sounding snort. The poor guy had learned early on that he wanted no part of what happened between his humans when they were together in the bedroom. The light was off and Rowdy was sprawled on his stomach across the covers. His blond hair was sticking up every- where and he hand one arm bent up under his head. The only thing that could have made the sight better would have been if he hadn’t bothered with the black boxers before crashing out. 

Even with them obscuring the view, I couldn’t complain. I let out a breathless sigh and crept closer so that I could lean over and touch my lips to that anchor on the side of his neck. I felt his pulse leap and tasted the salt on his skin as he murmured sleepily and rolled over onto his back. Those infinitely blue eyes glowed at me in the dark as a grin pulled up the corner of his mouth. 

“Hey.”

  Rowdy Teaser 2   

About ROWDY: The New York Times and USA Today bestselling Marked Men series continues with this sizzling, sexy story of love, heartbreak, fate, and second chances. After the only girl he ever loved told him that he would never be enough, Rowdy St. James knocked the Texas dust off his boots and set out to live up to his nickname. A good ol’ boy looking for good times and good friends, Rowdy refuses to take anything too seriously, especially when it comes to the opposite sex. Burned by love once, he isn’t going to let himself trust a woman again. But that’s before his new co-worker arrives, a ghost from the past who’s suddenly making him question every lesson he ever learned. Salem Cruz grew up in house with too many rules and too little fun—a world of unhappiness she couldn’t wait to forget. But one nice thing from childhood has stayed with her; the memory of the sweet, blue-eyed boy next door who’d been head over heels in love with her little sister. Now, fate and an old friend have brought her and Rowdy together, and Salem is determined to show him that once upon a time he picked the wrong sister. A mission that is working perfectly—until the one person that ties them together appears, threatening to tear them apart for good.     
  

Jay Crownover
About the author: Jay Crownover is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Marked Men series. She will also be introducing the dark and sexy world of The Point in a new series this summer starting with ROWDY. Like her characters, she is a big fan of tattoos. She loves music and wishes she could be a rock star, but since she has no aptitude for singing or instrument playing, she'll settle for writing stories with interesting characters that make the reader feel something. She lives in Colorado with her three dogs.         

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20 Oct 2014

Book Blogging #2: How to Get Review Copies of Books (ARCs)



I started this new feature on my blog with advise on books and blogging with my post on How to Get Free Books last week.

Today I want to tell you more about the services of NetGalley and Edelweiss as a way to get free books in exchange of reviewing them online.

I have been using NetGalley for over a year now and I’m very happy with it. It’s very easy to use. Basically you register there and request the books you want to read. I after you’ve read them you have to provide feedback and it’s desirable to publish your review on your site/blog, Goodreads or other platforms for readers and on booksellers sites (Amazon, B&N, ect.).

Now, the tricky part is the approval of your requests. Initially, I was often declined, since my blog was new, I didn’t have many reviews posted there or elsewhere. As a good way to start, I’d suggest that you check out the Read Now section which lists books free for download. It’s important to provide feedback on the books received regularly, even if you didn’t like the book. I, personally, try to maintain my request/review ratio around 60%, though it’s better to be keep it higher than that.

People often go overboard with requests because initially they don’t get many approvals and then suddenly they get far too many review copies to be able to go through them.

The publishers providing copies of their titles for review have different criteria for approving reviewers. Some don’t approve request outside US at all, the UK publishers also provide titles only to UK-based bloggers. 

Edelweiss offers the same service but I have more difficulties with it. As an international reader based in Bulgaria, I can't really use the search option. The only way for me to see the titles available for review is through the email they sent me every week.

This site works in a slightly different way than NetGalley. You have to register with the site and provide some general information about you/your blog but when you request a specific book, you also write a short note explaining why you want this particular title. I get the feeling that Edelweiss offers more YA titles, while NetGalley gets more adult and romance titles but this is pure speculation on my part based on personal observations. 

So far, Edelweiss is not working very well for me and I get more rejections than approvals there and very often I don’t get any response. Still, I check regularly the title offered for review and place my requests when I see something that I like. 

Here is some useful tips for you on how to request ARCs:

-          Start with Read now books (there such sections both on Netgalley and on Edelweiss)
-          Don’t be shy when requesting, you never know when you will be approved, at the same time
-       Go only for books you really want to read, otherwise you will loose the desire to review them
-          Provide honest feedback regularly
-          Don’t depsair if you get declined often. 
-          Sing up for the site’s newsletter, it’s a great way to learn for a limited-time only read now books

Lately, I’ve noticed that some of the companies organizing book tours and promotional events also offer copies of books for review.

-          InkSlinger PR
-          Xpresso BookTours
-          AToMR Book Blog Tours
-     IndieSage

Note: I will be writing a seprate post on PR companies prganising book tours, blitzes, etc. soon (I hope)

Now, if you are a blogger, it’s good to have a section on the blog with your Review requirements/criteria. In this way authors can send you copies of their books for review. I’m swamped with books to review at the moment and I recently went back to work fulltime, so I’m not accepting review requests. I did make an exception recently, since the blurb of the proposed book intrigued me and it ended being a wonderful surprise (Complicated Creatures by Alexi Lawless). 

That's pretty much all I have gained as personal experience in requesting and reviewing ARCs. Feel free to ask any questions you might have and I'll try to answer them to the best of my abilities and knowledge. Your own thoughts and tips on requesting and reviewing ARCs are most welcome!

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