Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Review | "I'm With You" by Taylor Dean

I'm With You by Taylor Dean
Contemporary Romance published April 15, 2014
Author's website  |  Goodreads  |  Buy the Book on Amazon

Synopsis from Goodreads

Can three little words irrevocably change your life? 

When the doctors inform Chloe Brennan that her pregnancy is “incompatible with life,” her subsequent choices will change her path forever. 
She becomes one of the quiet, unsung heroes of this world, incredibly strong, yet somehow wrongly looked upon as damaged. 
Three people will pierce Chloe’s existence: her husband, a stranger, and a precious baby. 
One will say goodbye, one will say hello, and one will say both at the same time. 
I’m With You is a novel about selfless love and the sacredness of life. 
Please note: While this book is a romance novel, it also deals with the sensitive issue of baby loss grief. 
The emotions are real, and sometimes dark. 
If you are sensitive to this issue, this may not be the book for you.
My Thoughts...
It took me some time to pick this book up and for that I apologize, but once I did it was a one sitting read for me.  I literally read it cover to cover without stopping.  I was up until 1am, but I couldn't put it down!  Taylor Dean has once again hit one out of the park for me.

There is no doubt that this is a heart wrenching story, so be prepared to cry some ugly tears when you read this book.  I will say from the start that this isn't a story that I relate to so in the beginning it was a little hard for me to connect with Chloe.  Because of that I liked Jack even more.  He was so sympathetic to her situation without ever going through it himself, something I wasn't able to do at first.  This story messed with my emotions and with my head at times.

I was so angry when Chloe's husband left her, angry that he could just pack his things and go.  Then I was angry when Jack showed up, but it didn't take long and I fell for Jack just like Chloe did.  They have a wonderful relationship built on a solid friendship.  He is there for her when everyone else has left her because she can't seem to just move on with her life.  They don't understand, I didn't understand, how she could let something like this stall her life completely.  Then as she slowly starts to open up to Jack we start to realize just how devastating a loss like this can be.  He stands there beside her quietly urging her to start to live again and we start to root for them as well.  

It's so hard to review a book like this because of the emotion involved in reading it.  I can only imagine what Taylor must have went through while writing it.  I want to commend her for turning an event that could only have been devastating for a family and turning it into a wonderful and heart felt story.  A story that teaches us all that horrible things happen and they are things that have to mean something. Sometimes those things lead us to the things we are meant to have, to the lives we are meant to live.  In this case the children we were meant to raise and tell our stories to.

Despite the emotion, and ugly crying I did while reading this book, I think it's my favorite of Taylor's books yet.  If you haven't picked up one of her books, you need to do so right away!

XOXO, Shelly

*Disclaimer: I was provided with a copy of this book courtesy of the author in exchange for my honest review.*

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Blog Tour Review | "Favors and Lies" by Mark Gilleo

Favors and Lies by Mark Gilleo
Mystery/Thriller published July 1, 2014
The Story Plant

Where to find Mark Gilleo Online:

Synopsis from Goodreads

Dan Lord is a forty-year-old private detective with a law degree working the blurred line between right and wrong in the Nation’s Capital. As a self-employed solutions broker and legal consultant, he works for a very select clientele. He doesn’t advertise and only takes cases on referral. But when two people close to him are murdered, Dan's work becomes very personal.

With the assistance of a newly hired female intern, extracting clues from a ladder of acquaintances, Dan bounds through both the underbelly and elite of society, each step bringing more questions and yet ultimately taking him closer to the answer he seeks. A bail bondsman, a recluse hacker, a court clerk, a university student, an old-school barber, a high-class madam, an intelligence officer, a medical doctor, and a police detective are among the list of people Dan must cajole for help. His quest will lead him to discover things he never wanted to know, and put him in the position to reveal things that important people would prefer remain unrevealed.

Tense, ingenious, and filled with the unforgettable characters that have become a Mark Gilleo trademark, FAVORS AND LIES is the most thrilling novel yet from one of the great new voices in suspense fiction.
My Thoughts...
This is the second book by Mark Gilleo that I have read and I must say that I enjoyed this one even more than the first one.  I think I managed to finish this one in 2 sittings, I was hooked from the first chapter and I really didn't want to put it down.  

Dan Lord is a 40 year old man with a very complicated past that lends a thick air of mystery to his character throughout the course of the book.  Dan gets a call in the middle of the night that changes the course of his life and it takes all the resources he has in his repertoire to solve this case.  As he gets more involved things become more dangerous for him and anyone he has contact with.  Even the people he starts to trust aren't who they seem and when we finally find out who is behind the whole thing it's a huge shock.  This is all I am going to say about the plat for fear of spoiling it and that would be a shame to do since this whole book is so plot driven.

The whole book is full of twists and turns and it's pretty much non stop from the very first chapter.  The characters are very well written and Dan is just one of those guys you love from the first page.   There were a few rambling bits that I didn't feel were altogether necessary to further the story.  They did provide back story for some of the more minor characters and I suppose they did lend them an air of credibility in the end.  Marks' writing style is very easy to be drawn into and I can't wait to see what he comes up with next, although I would love to see more of Dan Lord in the future!

If you love a good suspense, murder mystery story then I can't recommend Mark Gilleo enough and this book is a great way to get a sense of his writing style for sure.

XOXO, Shelly

Author Bio
Mark Gilleo holds a graduate degree in international business from the University of South Carolina and an undergraduate degree in business from George Mason University. He enjoys traveling, hiking and biking. He speaks Japanese. A fourth-generation Washingtonian, he currently resides in the D.C. area. His first two novels were recognized as finalist and semifinalist, respectively, in the William Faulkner Wisdom creative writing competition. 

*Disclaimer: I was provided with a copy of this book courtesy of the publisher in exchange for my honest review.*

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Blog Tour | "Beautiful Oblivion" by Jamie McGuire

Beautiful Oblivion by Jamie McGuire
New Adult Romance published July 1, 2014
Atria Books

Synopsis from Goodreads

The Beautiful Disaster and Walking Disaster phenomenon continues in the first heart-pounding new adult romance in The Maddox Brothers series.

Fiercely independent Camille "Cami" Camlin gladly moved on from her childhood before it was over. She has held down a job since before she could drive, and moved into her own apartment after her freshman year of college. Now tending bar at The Red Door, Cami doesn’t have time for much else besides work and classes, until a trip to see her boyfriend is cancelled, leaving her with a first weekend off in almost a year.

Trenton Maddox was the king of Eastern State University, dating co-eds before he even graduated high school. His friends wanted to be him, and women wanted to tame him, but after a tragic accident turned his world upside down, Trenton leaves campus to come to grips with the crushing guilt. 

Eighteen months later, Trenton is living at home with his widower father, and works full-time at a local tattoo parlor to help with the bills. Just when he thinks his life is returning to normal, he notices Cami sitting alone at a table at The Red. 

As the baby sister of four rowdy brothers, Cami believes she’ll have no problem keeping her new friendship with Trenton Maddox strictly platonic. But when a Maddox boy falls in love, he loves forever—even if she is the only reason their already broken family could fall apart.

In the first installment of the Maddox Brothers books, readers can experience the rush of reading Beautiful Disaster for the first time, all over again.
My Thoughts...
HOLY Maddox Brothers Batman!!  Ok, so I loved Travis...so much, but I gotta tell you there is a new Maddox boy in my life now and his name is Trenton.  Even when Travis showed up in this book I was like, "Travis who?"!!  This book is happening pretty much at the same time as Beautiful Disaster so Travis and Abby do show up from time to time in the bar that Cami works in.

So we already know Trenton since we met him in Travis' book and we even met Cami in that book as well, but we know so very little about who they really are...until now.  Cami is the lone girl surrounded by men, brothers, a cousin and a father who is a drunk.  Sure, her mother is there, but after years of living with a drunk she's not much help.  Cami gets out on her own as soon as she can and she tries her best to stay away from her family except for dinners occasionally.  She is a strong woman.  She's know the Maddox boys pretty much all her life, but she's never been more that friendly with Trenton.  When he starts coming in to The Red, wanting to spend time with her she is more than happy to be friends, but she has a boyfriend.  They start spending more and more time together she still keeps him at arms length even though she is falling for him.  Cami has been dating TJ for awhile now, but he has a job that keeps him away from her most of the time.  He doesn't seem to place the same priority on their relationship that she does so it's not hard to see why she is falling for Trenton.

Trenton is amazing!  He has suffered the loss of his mother and then a horrible accident changes his life yet again.  He lives with his dad, but he's saving to get a place of his own.  He works as a tattoo artist.  He falls pretty quickly for Cami, in fact he's been in love with her since they were in school, but he always kept his distance.  He continues to keep his distance, somewhat, because he knows she's dating someone.  They spend time together as friends and he is always there for her when she has trouble with her family.  He is there for her when her boyfriend isn't and it's not long before they both get in too deep to walk away.

I gave this book 4 stars on Goodreads and I will tell you why.  All of the New Adult books I have read either have a twist or they get to a point where there is a big conflict, they break up and then realize how much they really love each other, etc.. In this book, because Cami has a boyfriend there isn't the same "formula" if you will.  There is a big secret that I was able to figure out fairly early on and that didn't bother me.  What did bother me was that once the big reveal is over there wasn't much left of the book.  There was all this build up to the "conflict" but not much time for resolution so the ending felt really rushed to me.  Granted, I did get an ARC of the book so I will most definitely be buying a finished copy just in case any changes were made.

All in all, I LOVED this book even more than Beautiful Disaster I think.  I loved that it all happens during the same time frame so we got little snippets of Travis and Abby.  I adored Trent so, so much!  I can't even imagine how much I am going to love the rest of the Maddox brothers...

XOXO, Shelly

Buy the book!

About the Author
JAMIE McGUIRE is the New York Times bestselling author of A Beautiful WeddingRed HillWalking DisasterBeautiful Disaster, andThe Providence trilogy. She and her husband, Jeff, live with their children just outside Enid, Oklahoma, with three dogs, six horses, and a cat named Rooster.

Find Jamie Online
Twitter: @JamieMcGuire
Instagram:  @JamieMcGuire_

Say hi to Atria Books
Twitter: @AtriaBooks
Instagram: @AtriaBooks

Visit the Beautiful Oblivion BuzzRoom and enter to win the blog tour prize.

*Disclaimer: I was provided with a copy of this book courtesy of the publisher in exchange for my honest review.*

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Review | "Your Perfect Life" by Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke

Your Perfect Life by Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke
Contemporary Women's Fiction published June 10, 2014
Washington Square Press
Author's website  |  Goodreads  |  Buy the Book on Amazon

Synopsis from Goodreads

With “a delicious, page-turning premise, and sweet and surprising insights” (New York Times bestselling author Jen Lancaster), Your Perfect Life perfectly illustrates that old adage: Sometimes, you to have to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes to see what’s in her heart.

Best friends since childhood, Casey and Rachel couldn’t lead more different lives. While workaholic Casey rubs elbows with celebrities daily as the host of Gossip TV and comes home nightly to an empty apartment, stay-at-home mom Rachel juggles an “oops” baby, two fiery teenagers, and a husband who barely seems the man she fell in love with two decades before. After an argument at their twentieth high school reunion, Casey and Rachel throw back shots to get the night back on track. Instead, they get a life-changing hangover.

Waking up in each other’s bodies the next morning, they must figure out how to navigate their altered realities. Rachel is forced to confront the reason she gave up her broadcasting dreams when she got pregnant in college, and Casey finally steps out of the spotlight to face the truth about why she’s alone. And they soon discover that they don’t know themselves—or their best friend—nearly as well as they thought they did.

Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke bring humor and heart to every page of this novel that is sure to please fans of In Her Shoes and The Opposite of Me. Your Perfect Life is a story about two very different women, what they didn’t know about each other, and how, by switching lives, they each learn to appreciate their own.
My Thoughts...
I enjoyed this book quite a lot.  It was a great quick read where once I started reading I didn't want to put it down.  This is a "freaky Friday" type tale, done it a very believable way.  Rachel and Casey have been friends for years.  For a time they were headed in the same direction, but in college life got in the way and while Casey continued on the course she had set Rachel's life took a different direction.  Now, years later they are attending their 20th high school reunion.

Rachel is a stay at home mom to 3 girls, married to the man she fell in love with 20 years ago. She's feeling like she is a failure, she's just a mom.  Her husband doesn't seem like that same man from all those years ago.  On the other hand Casey is a successful Gossip TV anchor who appears to have it all.  Casey, of course wins the award for most successful in their graduating class.  When Rachel is given the award for least changed this sparks an argument the brings up all sorts of feelings and resentments in both women.  They are each thinking that the other one ended up with the better life... The next morning they awake in each other's body and soon start to realize that maybe their life wasn't all that bad to begin with.  They each see things in the others life that need the kind of help that can only be seen from an objective point of view.  Being in another person's body can also help you to see the little things that you could be doing differently in your own life.  When they are finally able to return to their own bodies they are each able to live a more fulfilling life because they appreciate what they have so much more.

I just love the premise of this book and I enjoyed every minute of it.  I laughed and cried with each of these women as they began to learn and change as they dealt with the other side of the coin, so to speak.  I mean, come on, how many times have we wondered what our lives would be like if only we had made that choice instead of this one?  Or wondered what it would be like to live that persons life for just a couple days...  I know that I have.

If you are looking for a quick summer read then I highly recommend picking this book up.  I know that I will be looking for more from these ladies, I really enjoyed the writing style and I think they did a phenomenal job blending their voices into these characters.

XOXO, Shelly

*Disclaimer: I was provided with a copy of this book courtesy of the publisher in exchange for my honest review.*