May 2, 2016

Review: Never Let You Go


 Never Let You Go (Never Tear Us Apart, #2)

Title: Never Let You Go (Never Tear Us Apart #2)
Author: Monica Murphy
Published: May 3, 2016

Synopsis:
Darkly sexy, emotional and forbidden, a woman unwittingly falls in love with the son of her abductor. The conclusion of a two-book contemporary romance series by New York Times bestselling author Monica Murphy.
Lies hurt. Lies destroy. I tried my best to understand why Ethan kept his secrets but it was so hard. Until I realized that I couldn't deny myself any longer -- I needed to be with him. We needed each other. Despite my family's wariness, the media's fascination with us, the fact that his father still has a stranglehold on our lives, we belong together. No matter what. I will never let Ethan go. But sometimes love destroys us too, and we're too weak to banish the demons. Especially when our demons are determined to ruin us... 


My Review:
I don’t know where to start with Never Let You Go. It was a hard story to read, but it was easier than the first one. I feel that this book was meant to give the reader the hope that humans have the capability to move on after a tragedy. That we are capable to grow stronger and find it within ourselves to carry on even during our darkest days. That’s what these books represented to me and I hope that you can find something within them to make you feel something.

I usually don’t read dark stories. Never Let You Go is the story of a women who has survived being kidnapped and raped as a pre-teen. There were definitely some hard themes within these two books and they should not be read if you have a difficulty with these subjects. But, Monica Murphy handled them really well. She built her story with an undertone of hope. Hope that one can move on and past these horrible events and become stronger. The writing really was excellent. I thought the story was handled well and now the book was about moving past terrible events and growing stronger.

Katie or Katherine, she is referred to as both, has had a difficult life. Nothing has been easy for her since she was 12 and things still are not easy for her. But, she is willing to move on and past the events that hurt her as a child. During this book, I truly watched Katie grow and become more of the person she was meant to be instead of the meek character that she has been for the past eight years. It was inspiring to see her struggle but still be able to try and live life differently than she has been. She was tired of being scared and not doing anything with her life. Instead, she was strong enough to take it into her own hands and make a change. Katie’s character was really well written. I do not know any rape survivor’s, but from what I understand, it is not easy to continue on with life like normal. Murphy wrote Katie trying to get her life back really well. She also didn’t let her character hide from the hard things in life. She made Katie work towards her troubles and it was beautiful to watch the story progress.

Ethan or Will, whatever you want to call him, kind of annoyed me. I don’t do well with over-protective characters well. They bother me. I wouldn’t want anyone hovering over me constantly and that is the kind of person Ethan is. For Katie, that personality worked. I don’t know how she put up with him though. The constant worry that Ethan’s character portrayed in the book was annoying enough, I would hate to see it in real life. Ethan also had this hot and cold thing going on. That was just plain annoying. If you can’t tell, I did not like Ethan’s character that much. Though one thing I will commend him on, he was always respectful of Katie. He was slow and careful with her, respecting her past, and making sure that she was okay with everything going on between. Sure, he’s a guy and sometimes does stupid things, but for the most part he was really good about being respectful.

We also got to see inside Aaron’s head this time around. If you have not read the first book, I would recommend stopping here. Aaron is one sick bastard. That is the only way to describe him. Reading his thoughts and seeing his actions actually disgusted me. Though, it did give some insight into a rapists head and what their motivations are. Reading how he thought about his victims and how he twisted everything was slightly frightening. I know why he was locked up in jail and I wish his death row would have come a little faster. I know that that sounds terrible, but this man is horrible and you will understand once you read this book.

All in all, the book was really well written and it handled delicate subject matter really well. The underlying tone of hope throughout the whole book really helped the story with what it was trying to accomplish. That tone kept things from being too dark and terrible so that it was still an enjoyable story to read. Don’t get me wrong, the story had its sad, depressing moments where I understood what Katie was really going through, but it also had happy moments where Katie prevailed and helped herself. I would recommend this book wholeheartedly, just be careful of the subject matter. It deals with the subject well, but it could cause some bad feelings if you are uncomfortable with this type of subject matter.

April 29, 2016

Cover Reveal: Damage Me by Shana Vanterpool


Damage Me
Shana Vanterpool
(Crystal Gulf #2)
Published by: Swoon Romance
Publication date: July 5th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
*** AUTHOR’S NOTE and CONTENT WARNING: This story contains triggers for rape victims and soldiers. I did my best to remain respectful to the healing process for both. Hillary’s feelings are hers alone and ONLY represent how she feels about her attack. Dylan’s emotions about his time at war are his ALONE. You are all strong and beautiful, and you will soar again! ***
A broken soldier …
Dylan Meyer lived his life fast and hard, doing anything to keep his emotions masked. In Crystal Gulf, Texas, women, drugs, and alcohol are in abundance. After all, it’s a college town. But eventually, his lifestyle caught up to him. The birth of his daughter, Aubrey, forced him to grow up and take responsibility for his actions. He let his vices go, cleaned up his act, and allowed himself to fall for Harley Evans.
But Dylan is a liar.
He lied to himself. To Harley. To his best friend, Bach. And then he lied himself right into a U.S. Army uniform. When he went to war, he left Harley with his best friend in hopes that he’d look out for her while he was deployed. Not in his darkest nightmares did he think Bach and Harley would fall in love.
A fallen angel …
Hillary Hayes is an eighteen-year-old sophomore in college who understands the importance of rules. She’s followed them her entire life. She gets perfect grades, avoids dating, and won’t stray from the future her mother mapped out. On the outside, she’s perfect. Inside, she’s drowning.
That carefully crafted future disappears when she downs a beer at a party. What’s left of that night is the wreckage of the girl she used to be.
Until she meets Dylan. Her brother’s best friend.
When Dylan returns from war, he can’t move past the betrayal. His daughter’s growing up without him. Flashbacks and PTSD from his time in Afghanistan consume him. He loses himself in a dark depression. There is no light in his darkness …until he meets Hillary. His best friend’s little sister is the only good thing among all the bad.
He’s her safe place.
She’s his light.
Can two damaged souls ever find peace, or is the damage too much to overcome?
Crystal Gulf #1:
25877008


Author Bio:
When I walk into a book store I feel at home. When I smell the pages of a brand new book things make sense. When I read I am who I always wanted to be. I read to escape and I write so others can as well. My family, my actress dog Bella, coffee, and a steamy love story are a few of my most precious things. My Sweet Demise is my debut new-adult contemporary romance novel. Keep up to date with future releases: shanavanterpoolauthor.wordpress.com

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April 28, 2016

Book Feature: Hleo by Rebecca Weller

Title: Hleo
Author: Rebecca Weller
Released: January 1, 2016

Synopsis:
Our choices seal our fate. Hannah Reed is about to learn just how important one little decision can be. Hannah's plans for a nice, quiet senior year of high school are rapidly disintegrating. It all starts when she innocently bursts in on Ethan Flynn in the change room of the clothing store where she works. Ethan's presence in Hannah's world is subtle but constant, and when he saves her life, they become linked by the workings of an ancient society and Ethan's sworn duty to protect Hannah. Working together to figure out what destiny wants with Hannah, the two of them stumble on a baffling mystery that leaves even Ethan questioning what is in store for her future. With Ethan's help, Hannah learns there is far more to this life, to her life, than she ever realized. As they attempt to untangle Hannah's unique past and emerging abilities, an unknown danger from Ethan's past looms ever closer. While racing to put together the pieces of the puzzle before it's too late, Hannah wrestles with the idea that she is anything but average, and that perhaps she is also more to Ethan than just a job. Hleo is the first book in the series with the same name. A story of destiny and how one decision can change everything. When you buy a copy of Hleo, your one decision also has the ability to change the lives of others across the globe. $3.00CAD from every copy of Hleo purchased goes towards the amazing efforts of the Because I am a Girl Education initiative. Fighting to bring literacy and safe learning resources to girls living in some of the poorest nations in this world.

I get to share the first chapter of this book with y'all today! Happy reading!

Hleo Chapter One:

It's been three years since my mother's death; my adoptive mother, I guess I should say. Three years since she lost control of her car while coming home from work one night, skidded into a ditch and wrapped the vehicle around a tree. I was 14 at the time, and just about to start my first year of high school.
Knowing what I know now, I suppose that would officially be when the madness began, but it would be another three years before I would learn the truth. Not until I was completing my final year of high school would I be drawn into an entirely different world than the one I had known my whole life; an incomprehensible world where secrets hid in the shadows of everyday life.
Every year before her death my mother threw a huge farewell to freedom bash on the last day of the summer, the last day before heading back to the rigidity and routine of the fall. Since her accident I’ve done everything possible to keep myself busy on that day so I wouldn’t be able to dwell on her absence, including taking shifts at my part-time job.
I pulled into my usual spot in the parking lot of The Patch. A store that sells a mix of stylish used clothes along with new, but vintage looking apparel, and a lot of one-of-a-kind items that my boss, Carmen Stephanopolous, finds in flea markets or at auction sales.
As I locked the doors of my trusty Toyota, I shivered at the unseasonable chill in the air; it was going to be a slow night. The final week of the summer in East Halton always has a certain amount of winding down to it. The town is set right on Lake Pocotoa. It’s scenic, quaint, and just far enough from Hartford and New Haven to be a prime holiday location in the summer, when the population of the town nearly triples with all the cottagers. By the end of August though, tourists turn their attention to backpacks and new school clothes instead of sundresses and sandals, and things are almost back to the way they always are in the off-season around East Halton: like a big family.
I strode across the small yard and deck that Carmen has packed with merchandise, displayed under strands of white lights, and pushed the door open.
“Carmen, I’m here,” I announced as I entered the store. I quickly scanned the sales floor but didn’t see anyone. Carmen designed the place to have a sort of nature-meets-nostalgic-chic feel. Wood paneling gives the impression of a log cabin, and built-in shelves, painted in a variety of bright colors, line the walls, framed classic movie posters hanging between them. She also has an entire wall devoted to her massive vinyl collection, and always has some sort of music playing on her turntable and throughout the store.
I dropped my backpack at the sound of a loud thud in the back room, followed by a muffled but familiar voice. “Crap.”
When I reached the storage area, Carmen was on the floor, almost completely buried in the remainder of last year’s unsold sweater collection. A cardboard box was crumpled at her feet, and only her mass of curly black hair and her left arm stuck out of the pile.
“Hey Carmen, were you cold?” I couldn’t help laughing as I started pulling sweaters off of her, setting them on one of the free shelves in the back.
“I’m fine, thanks for asking.” She attempted a scowl but it quickly spread into a smile.
I helped her to her feet, and she started picking up sweaters as well. “It’s been incredibly slow today. I swear the tourists are taking off earlier and earlier every year. I figured it's time to see what we still have from last year’s fall and winter collections that we can swap with the summer stuff.”
I piled the last of the sweaters on the shelf. “It must be slow if you’re going through stock; I know how much you love to do that.”
“You wouldn’t believe it. I think there have been maybe ten people in today.” Carmen grimaced. Then she turned her gaze on me with a mischievous glint in her eye.
She tapped a finger on her chin, deliberating, then pointed at me. “I really do hate going through old inventory, and since you’re here now, how about if you deal with this stuff?”
I rolled my eyes, but gave her a smile. Carmen’s voice was pleading, not commanding. That was her style; she treated me more like a co-worker than a subordinate, which made it difficult to say no to anything she asked. “I can do it, just let me know exactly what you want me to go through.” I surveyed the randomly sized boxes that lined the top shelves of the backroom.
“Why don’t you sort through those boxes?” She pointed to the containers right above my head. “See what we have lots of and we’ll start with that.”
I nodded. The bell on the door signaled that a customer had entered the store, and Carmen sauntered back to the sales floor.
I'd been right about the night. The doorbell only rang five or six times and the evening dragged on. Just before seven, I decided I should see if Carmen needed any help with the closing duties.
“She emerges,” Carmen proclaimed, as I came out of the backroom and joined her behind the counter where she was counting the day’s sales receipts.
The sun was setting, and Carmen had turned on the lights to compensate. I squinted as my eyes adjusted from the dimly lit storeroom. “Is there anything I can do before I leave?”
“I think everything is pretty much set out here, I’ve already brought in the stuff from the yard, but you can check the change rooms; there were a couple of people in and out of them and I haven’t had a chance to see if they left any merchandise back there.” Carmen waved a hand toward the back of the store.
“Sure.” I made my way towards the changing area, a curtained-off room with three wooden changing stalls, track lighting and lots of mirrors. I smiled at the inscription Carmen had painted on the full-length mirror fastened to the far wall. At the top it read, ‘you are beautiful’ and at the bottom she'd added, ‘especially in that outfit.’ I wasn’t sure if her strategy got her any sales, but it made people smile. My long auburn hair was messed up from lugging boxes around all night, and I took a second to smooth it down. Then I brushed the dust off of the front of my favorite—because it brought out the turquoise in my eyes—blue sweater, and pulled the sleeves back down before walking over to the changing stalls. The first two rooms were empty, and I moved on to the third one. As I pulled the door open, I was met with the lean, well-sculpted chest and stomach muscles of an unsuspecting guy who was pulling a shirt over his head.
“Sorry,” was all I managed to get out before I quickly shoved the change room door shut again. I leaned against it, so mortified I couldn’t move. Blood rushed to my face as I tried to take a deep breath. Move! I screamed silently, not wanting the embarrassed sales clerk with the bright red face to be the first thing the guy saw when he exited the change room.
“I’m sorry, am I not supposed to be in here?” a warm baritone voice asked from inside the change room.
Now what do I say? I concentrated on my breathing for a second so when I did speak, my voice wouldn’t crack.
“Um, we’re sort of closed for the evening.” I was still leaning on the change room door, painfully aware that at any second this guy would try to emerge and I would have to look him in the face.
“The sign on the door says you’re open until 9 p.m.,” he replied with a mixture of confusion and amusement. Obviously the embarrassment I felt was coming through in my voice.
I slapped my hand to my forehead in annoyance. Carmen had gone back to autumn hours that week, but of course she'd forgotten to take down the summer hours sign; she was terrible at remembering little details like that.
“We’ve gone back to our fall hours; I guess the sign was left up by mistake.” I finally pushed myself away from the change room door. “I’ll just give you a moment,” I added, before he could respond. I strode out of the changing area and made my way right for the counter, where Carmen was sliding an album back into its jacket.
Her forehead wrinkled when she saw the look on my face. “What?”
“Carmen, there’s someone back there; I just walked in on him in the middle of changing,” I whispered. I glanced towards the back to make sure he wasn’t on his way out yet.
“Oh, is it that really good-looking college-age guy? I thought I saw him leave.” Carmen frowned. After a second she shrugged and wriggled her eyebrows. “So how in the middle of changing was he?”
“Enough that I didn’t see his face to know how old he looked, and enough for me to be incredibly embarrassed,” I hissed. From the corner of my eye, I noticed the guy come out of the changing area, making his way towards us. I dropped my head down and pretended to be tidying something under the counter to keep from making eye contact with him.
“Can I ring something up for you?” Carmen asked as he approached the counter.
“I know you’re in the middle of closing for the night but I wondered if it would be okay for me to pay for the shirt I have on?” My eyes grazed upward just a little. He was wearing the shirt he'd been trying on when I barged in on him. Another shirt was balled up tightly in his hand.
“Sure, no problem at all. Hannah, could you ring that up for the gentleman?” Carmen turned to me with a look of pure innocence on her face.
I clenched my jaw. I wanted to throttle her; I couldn’t believe she would put me in such an awkward position. Still, my curiosity was starting to get the best of me. I was dying to know what sort of face belonged to that torso, especially since, judging from the way Carmen’s voice was coming out an octave higher than normal, she was clearly impressed.
“Of course,” I muttered, looking up into the deepest green eyes I’d ever seen. Emerald in color with fireworks of gold and copper flecked through them, they were beautiful, and yet, they were layered with an unmistakable sadness. I recognized it instantly, as the same expression that reflected back at me whenever I looked in a mirror. A caring smile extended across his lips, and my knees went weak.
It was strange, but for a split second, I thought I saw something flash in his gaze that I could’ve sworn was surprise. I’m not sure what he’d expected his change room intruder to look like, but it clearly wasn’t like me. In any case, the look was gone, before I had time to analyze it further.
“Good choice,” Carmen spoke up abruptly, dissolving the moment and pulling me back to the task at hand. She motioned to the dark blue t-shirt he was wearing.
“Thanks,” the guy replied, breaking his gaze with me to look down at the shirt and then up at Carmen.
“Would you like a bag for your shirt?” I held up a brown paper bag with The Patch logo on the side, after I’d rang up the purchase, and given him back his change, still feeling incredibly self-conscious.
“Oh sure.” He took the container and slipped the shirt inside. As he did I caught a glimpse of red stains streaking across the material before he closed his hand around the top of the bag. “Thanks.” The guy nodded to Carmen and offered me a quick smile before he turned and left the store.
Carmen waited a second and then rushed to the door. “I’ll just flip the sign and lock up,” she called back over her shoulder. I shook my head, pretty sure she just wanted to watch the guy leave.
Meanwhile, I felt glued to my spot. The brief interaction with this handsome stranger had rattled me. He was gorgeous for sure, with his dark, almost black hair cut into an intentionally messy style, and his tanned skin accentuating those beautiful green eyes and incredible smile, but it wasn’t a polished Ken-doll type attractiveness. There was a slight ruggedness to his features that only added to his appeal. And I felt myself compelled to learn what had marred his expression with that underlying sorrow. I barely heard Carmen blathering on about how you never find a guy with looks and manners, until she was standing next to me again.
“He’s gone; you can stop your very convincing impression of a lawn statue.” Carmen laughed as she went back to counting receipts.
“Right,” I answered with a little nod.
“I wonder what he did to himself; the stains on his shirt looked like blood,” Carmen commented.
I frowned. “It couldn’t have been anything too serious or he would've been at the hospital instead of shopping.”
“I don’t know; we have some pretty fabulous deals on right now. Maybe he couldn’t resist.” Carmen grinned. “And I swear I detected a bit of an accent, Irish or Scottish maybe. I love a guy with an accent.” She shut the till with a decisive clang. “Anyway, I think I’m pretty much done for the day. I know you’ve got school tomorrow so you can go home if you want. That is, if you think you can stop swooning enough to pay attention to the road.” She jostled me playfully.
Carmen had moved my backpack from the middle of the floor where I'd dropped it, to behind the counter, and I reached for it. “I can’t believe of all the people I could have walked in on while they were changing it had to be that guy.”
“Well, I’m sure he’s just one of the straggler tourists trying to get the most out of the dying days of summer. You can console yourself with the fact that you’ll probably never see him again. Although you never know,” she added with a mischievous grin.
“I hope I don’t. I’ve already seen more of him than I should have.” I raised my eyebrows and headed out the door, waving goodbye as I went.

A little about Rebecca Weller and her book! 

Writers begin as readers. I think before it can dawn on a person to sit down and type out thirty chapters of creativity they first have to have an appreciation for the written word. At least that’s how it was for me. Loving books always came easy, and getting drawn into different storybook worlds only made me want to be a storyteller of my own.

As far as my reading tastes go, they’re pretty eclectic; Jane Austen is my hero, I can always go for a good mystery, and a well-crafted fantastical world makes my heart happy. Ultimately I want a fairytale ending though; a conclusion where we leave our characters with all being right in their worlds.

Growing up with The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and all the other 90s classic Disney animations gave me a fondness for fairytales, as well as all things Disney, which has carried on into my adult life. Walt was quite a guy, and I greatly admire his ambition to see his dreams fulfilled.

For a touch of the personal; being a mom and wife always keeps my hopping, coffee and music are constant companions, and I love baked goods, a little more than I should, but it all works out since I can’t bake or cook to save my life, as in - struggles with boiling water - can’t cook. I also love connecting with others about books, and even have an ‘ask the author’ page on my website because I could talk all day about plot, characters and inspirations (but no spoilers!).

Giving Back:

I always knew that no matter how Hleo ended up released into the world I wanted there to be a small way for me to give back to the global community through it. I went looking for a charitable organization that fights for social justice and found the Because I am a Girl Campaign run by Plan International. They work in countries all over the world to provide girls with safe learning environments, protection from harassment and abuse, access to both nourishment and school supplies, and the opportunity to participate in literacy and business programs. And so, $3.00 from every copy of Hleo purchased will go towards supporting these amazing efforts.

Well that’s me and my mission in a nutshell. Hope you enjoy Hleo, and feel free to check out https://hleoweller.wordpress.com/ for more information.

To buy a copy of Hleo for yourself check out:

I hope you guys enjoyed that look into Hleo! :)