When Terror Comes Home: I AM THE MISSION–A Review

Hi there! Couple of weeks ago I crushed hard for a teenaged assassin who had five days to kill the mayor of New York. Well, Zach’s back in Allen Zadoff’s sequel–I AM THE MISSION–and this time he’s meant to kill the head of a ultra-conservative running a military training camp for teens. Yikes!

I Am the Mission (The Unknown Assassin, #2)About the book:

He was the perfect assassin. No name. No past. No remorse. Perfect, that is, until he began to ask questions and challenge his orders. Now The Program is worried that their valuable soldier has become a liability.

And so Boy Nobody is given a new mission. A test of sorts. A chance to prove his loyalty.

His objective: Take out Eugene Moore, the owner of an extremist military training camp for teenagers. It sounds like a simple task, but a previous operative couldn’t do it. He lost the mission and is presumed dead. Now Boy Nobody is confident he can finish the job. Quickly.

But when things go awry, Boy Nobody finds himself lost in a mission where nothing is as it seems: not The Program, his allegiances, nor the truth.

The riveting second book in Allen Zadoff’s Boy Nobody series delivers heart-pounding action and a shocking new twist that makes Boy Nobody question everything he has believed.

My Review:
Sometimes sequels disappoint. Not this time.

Zach is emotionally scrambled after his last mission. Being an isolated human isn’t as fulfilling as it had been, and his doubt draws him to get close to others–to their detriment. His brief “lose himself in humanity” experiment nearly backfires when Father–his male contact and advisor with The Program–tracks him to a boys camp in the northeast. Tense doesn’t begin to describe the confrontation.

Zach’s loyalty to The Program is being tested. If he accepts the mission, he’ll have one chance to neutralize the threat–a single meeting with Eugene Moore at a recruitment event for Moore’s Camp Liberty. Under no circumstances is Zach supposed to enter Camp Liberty–a place where all communication is monitored and where a previous Program operative disappeared four months prior.

Posing as disaffected teen “Daniel”, our determined assassin watches as his one chance to prove himself to The Program slips away before he can get within striking distance. Then, he’s given the opportunity to spend the night at the camp and check it out for himself. Against his mission directive, Daniel does.

Having made it past the first levels of security, Daniel scopes chances to hit his target–they aren’t great, but Daniel has infiltrated the inner sanctum by befriending Moore’s teen children: Lee and Miranda. Moore’s bodyguard, Francisco, isn’t letting Daniel close, however.

Drawn in, Daniel goes on a couple of practice missions for Liberty–and he sees how very dangerous the man, and his camp of paramilitary teens, can be up-close and very personal. Trouble is, Daniel can’t reach his “parents”. Every chance he tries to make contact with The Program is a failure. Cut loose, Daniel reaches out to the one and only real friend he’s made in four years, a teen hacker named Howard.

This pair makes sense of the chaos the mission has become. Especially when hitting the target only escalates the danger.

I thoroughly enjoyed Zach/Daniel and his handling of the mission. He was constantly compromised, and didn’t waver for a second. His loyalties were tested completely–Francisco nearly killed him, not to mention all the snipers and “clean up” teams dispatched, and yet Zach/Daniel kept his cover and his focus. Sure, he had to call in Howard, but that (for me) signaled a level of maturity in his development. The cracks exist, however. Zach isn’t the killing machine The Program intended. Well, perhaps he is, but he’s not a mindless killing machine who simply follows orders.

Sure, he’s got skills, but he’s not prepared when he meets another operative in the field. Particularly, when Zach learns Moore knew he was an operative and accepted him into Camp Liberty in order to convert him to their cause. We see Zach’s thought processes clearly: he’ll soon be too old to be a teen assassin, and then what? What will The Program do with him? Disposal? Because it seems likely considering how efficiently they have wiped his access and left him to fend for himself. Camp Liberty holds Zach’s skills in high regard–he’d have a place of honor, and the companionship he now desires. Lee could be a real friend, and Miranda’s interested in more than that….

And, what is Mike doing? The guy kills Zach’s family and recruits him into The Program, but it seems Mike works off the grid just as much as on. He was The Program’s first operative, yet, Mike’s presence is that of an ally in a way Zach hadn’t expected and isn’t sure he can trust. Especially when Howard’s life is on the line.

Oh, and domestic terrorism, Boston bombings, and Taser-torture. So, yeah–super intense. Bit of a YA Bourne series, which is a bit of alright, in my book.

Interested? You can find I AM THE MISSION on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and probably six dozen other outlets. Even your library. I read an advance review copy via NetGalley. This is my honest review.

Allen ZadoffAbout the Author:

Allen Zadoff is the author of the new thriller series, The Unknown Assassin which earned starred reviews and has been optioned for a feature film by Sony Pictures and Will Smith’s Overbrook Entertainment. His YA novel, Food, Girls, and Other Things I Can’t Have won the Sid Fleischman Humor Award and was a YALSA selection for Most Popular Paperbacks of 2012. His second novel was My Life, the Theater, and Other Tragedies, the story of a techie hiding from life after a family tragedy. His third novel Since You Left Me is set in Los Angeles and tells the story of a religious school student who doesn’t believe. He also wrote the memoir for adults, Hungry:Lessons Learned on the Journey from Fat to Thin.

Allen is a graduate of Cornell University and the Harvard University Institute for Advanced Theatre Training. Visit him on his website, Goodreads and twitter.

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends! 🙂


0ed81-coffeehouseHi there! Welcome one and all to the Cephalopod Coffeehouse, a cozy gathering of book lovers, meeting to discuss their thoughts regarding the tomes they enjoyed most over the previous month.  Pull up a chair, order your cappuccino and join in the fun.

This month I chose a YA Romance–because, basically, I had THE WORST book hangover after reading it. THE STATISTICAL PROBABILITY OF LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT by Jennifer E Stein carved my heart into mincemeat, no joke.

The Statistical Probability of Love at First SightAbout the Book:

Who would have guessed that four minutes could change everything?

Today should be one of the worst days of seventeen-year-old Hadley Sullivan’s life. Having missed her flight, she’s stuck at JFK airport and late to her father’s second wedding, which is taking place in London and involves a soon-to-be stepmother Hadley’s never even met. Then she meets the perfect boy in the airport’s cramped waiting area. His name is Oliver, he’s British, and he’s sitting in her row.

A long night on the plane passes in the blink of an eye, and Hadley and Oliver lose track of each other in the airport chaos upon arrival. Can fate intervene to bring them together once more?

Quirks of timing play out in this romantic and cinematic novel about family connections, second chances, and first loves. Set over a twenty-four-hour-period, Hadley and Oliver’s story will make you believe that true love finds you when you’re least expecting it.

My Review:

To get right down to it: Hadley’s family was unexpectedly torn apart by love. That’s right. Her dad went on a four-month sabbatical to London and he didn’t return. He’s alive, and well, and currently completely divorced from Hadley’s mother. In fact, he’s marrying the woman who stole her father away. And Hadley’s a bridesmaid. She’s never met his bride, and she hasn’t seen her dad in more than a year. In fact, Hadley wouldn’t be staring at her plane pushing back from the jetway right now if her mother hadn’t pushed her into accepting the wedding invitation.

So, Hadley’s not keen on love. She thought her parents had it–everyone seemed so happy–but love pretty much sucks if it rips your dad away to a new country and life. At least, it does in Hadley’s opinion. She gets rescheduled to the next flight, and encounters Oliver in the terminal. He’s a quiet, unassuming young English man–he’s nearly 19 and a college student returning home for a family event. They strike up a conversation that spans the flight. It’s a purge. All the misery Hadley had bottled up in the past year and half since her dad took his trip to London is spent out.

Oliver is an excellent sounding board–and distraction. Especially when he kisses her and the seeds of attraction blossomed into a budding love.

Then he’s gone–and Hadley’s still got to face her father and the wedding she wishes wasn’t occurring. It is a twisted experience, to see one’s parent so happy–knowing the misery this happiness created for one’s self and one’s loved ones. Having rid herself of her anger, Hadley is able to experience her father’s abounding joy in a way she hadn’t predicted. And, she’s able to give the one thing she never fathomed:  forgiveness.

That isn’t the end of the story however, and Hadley learns that Oliver had kept a pretty large secret to himself aboard that long flight. Can they find the common ground they had in transit or is the L-word a statistical impossibility?

Normally, I’m no huge fan of instalove, but this book–while the time frame is two days–unfolds so seamlessly it feels genuine. I was wrung out in Hadley’s point of view. What an overwhelming experience she’s had with the devastation of her parent’s marriage. Often kids know there are problems–but in this case, there hadn’t been any warning signs. Her parents were happy. Fun. Planned big vacations touring the US. Hadley and her mother were going to visit London at the end of the sabbatical. And then everything changed.

Hadley’s abandonment is a palpable presence in her life. She develops panic attacks, and spends months caretaking for her shell-shocked mother. She never has a chance to breathe, to grieve the loss of her previous life before it’s all gone. Wracked by anger, Hadley plans to cut her dad out of her new life–and had been rather successful at it–until the wedding. Understandably, Hadley wants nothing to do with the woman who caused so much heartache–who, by the by is not a step-monster. Still, after over a year’s separation seeing her dad is a knife wound to the chest. She has missed him terribly. And she comes to realize that having a relationship with him means accepting terms she couldn’t have previously considered.

See, there is no cliche here. There is pain. There is love. There is loss. There is gain. There is human life unfolding in a way that voids all plans and cancels all debts. I seriously ached for Hadley–over and over again. Her mom has moved on–met a man who adores her, yet the child in Hadley holds a serious grudge. I would have, too. Watching her let go of that pain, however, was excruciating. My heart had to stop feeling in order to not be overwhelmed. Oliver was a spectacular love interest. And the promise that these two might find love, together, was the jump start I needed to get past the strong emotions I’d suffered in the course of reading. (Disclaimer: I didn’t even hate Hadley’s dad when all was said and done–which is saying quite a lot about how well this story was told.)

Interested? You can find TSPoLaFS at Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and likely in your neighborhood library. I picked up a reviewer’s copy from NetGalley.

Jennifer E. SmithAbout the author:

Jennifer E. Smith is the author of The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, The Storm Makers, You Are Here, and The Comeback Season. She earned her master’s degree in creative writing from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, and currently works as an editor in New York City. Her writing has been translated into 28 languages.

You can find her on Goodreads and twitter.

Thanks for popping by my friends. Don’t forget to hit the rest of the blogs on the Coffeehouse. I know I find some great suggestions this way! 🙂

1. The Armchair Squid 2. mainewords
3. I Think; Therefore, I Yam 4. Words Incorporated
5. StrangePegs — Up So Down 6. The Writing Sisterhood
7. BOOK NOOK 8. Hungry Enough To Eat Six
9. StrangePegs — Lost and Found 10. Cherdo on the Flipside
11. My Creatively Random Life 12. StrangePegs — The Faerie Guardian
13. StrangePegs — The Ghost Brigades 14. Adornments looks at books
15. V’sReads

Cover Reveal! RUINED by Marian Cheatham

Hi there! Today I’m sharing the cover for RUINED, a contemporary retelling of a Shakespearean classic.


Coming July 2014

About the book:
When your life has been ruined by lies, do you seek justice … or revenge?

Blythe Messina spends her senior year focused on her studies and college, and not on her ex, Stratford High’s lacrosse star, DB Whitmore. At least, that’s what Blythe keeps telling herself. But her younger cousin, Bonni, knows otherwise. Same goes for DB, who professes to be over Blythe and their breakup, but his teammates aren’t fooled.

When scandalous photos of Bonni and the lacrosse captain are texted around Stratford, Bonni’s virtuous reputation is ruined. She pleads innocence, but no one believes her. No one, except Blythe and DB, who come together to uncover the truth. But, will they stay together?

Ruined is a modern twist on a classic Shakespearean romance.

“Deceit, loyalty, honor, and romance–Ruined has it all! A teen version of Much Ado About Nothing that Shakespeare aficionados are sure to savor!”
Kym Brunner, Author of Wanted: Dead or in Love & One Smart Cookie.

Click here to add RUINED to your Goodreads TBR!

b59e6About the author:
Marian Cheatham lives in a suburb of Chicago with her family and their menagerie of pets. A graduate of Northern Illinois University, Marian taught Special Education for many years before becoming a full-time writer.

You can find her on her webpage, Goodreads, and Facebook.

Thanks for popping by and keep reading my friends!

Changing THE RIVER LEITH–A Review

Hi there! Today’s book is a contemporary M/M romance from Leta Blake. I just adored TRAINING SEASON and jumped at the chance to read more of her work. THE RIVER LEITH is a mind-bender. Mostly because Leith has retrograde amnesia and can’t remember the past three years of his life….

The River LeithAbout the book:

Memory is everything.

After an injury in the ring, amateur boxer Leith Wenz wakes to discover his most recent memories are three years out of date. Unmoored and struggling to face his new reality, Leith must cope anew with painful revelations about his family. His brother is there to support him, but it’s the unfamiliar face of Zach, a man introduced as his best friend, that provides the calm he craves. Until Zach’s presence begins to stir up feelings Leith can’t explain.

For Zach, being forgotten by his lover is excruciating. He carefully hides the truth from Leith to protect them both from additional pain. His bottled-up turmoil finds release through vlogging, where he confesses his fears and grief to the faceless Internet. But after Leith begins to open up to him, Zach’s choices may come back to haunt him.

Ultimately, Leith must ask his heart the questions memory can no longer answer.

My Review:
One month ago Leith was hit by an illegal blow in the ring causing a traumatic brain injury. When he wakes from his coma, memories of the past three years of his life are gone. He thinks he’s still in prison, that his father is still alive, that he’s a straight man. None of these are true. Or, are they?

Leith latches on to his brother, Arthur, adrift in loss. Arthur tries to help, but the advice is to reveal little in terms of the lost years, to wait until Leith recovers the memories–if Leith does. See, they don’t want to upset Leith with too many uncertainties–he’s a bit unmoored emotionally, and strong. When he first saw Arthur and learned all he had lost, Leith struck out and clocked his brother in the jaw. Control of his life, and his temper, is hard for the new Leith.

“Friends” visit the hospital to help his transition, but Leith doesn’t remember any of them–not even Zach. Zach is introduced as his “best friend”, but the reader knows more than Leith. He and Zach had been lovers for a year, and totally committed. Zach’s heartbroken, and trying to maintain a brave face, but his video blogs show the gaping cracks in the facade.

Throughout, Leith agonizes to regain his foothold in his new reality. The only thing he knows for sure is the calmness he feels when Zach visits. He longs for more time with his “best friend” and is confused by the sexual arousal he feels in Zach’s presence. Zach’s nearness yet seeming indifference leads Leith to believe his attraction to Zach was one-sided before the injury, and he’s conflicted about revealing his “new” feelings. Meanwhile Zach is falling apart thinking Leith will never love him again. It sparks a one-night stand that comes back to haunt Zach. Big time.

In some ways, Leith died in the ring. The post-injury Leith is a different man in so many aspects, but it may be that this man is a better man, a more stable partner, than the man Zach first loved.

As time moves on, Leith is better able to control his temper–revealing his feelings for Zach helped immensely–but there are still struggles. Leith wants to box again. It was a major way he coped throughout his life, and the absence of that physicality brings its own strain. And Zach is terrified that one bad hit will kill the man he has had to woo, and come to love, twice over.

While this book centered on amnesia, there are lots of people who endure other neurological injuries and have personality changes. The hardest thing for their loved ones to reconcile is the change–Zach is a good partner, but a confused man in his own right, understandably so. His love has suddenly and without question forgotten him completely. He could walk away, but he doesn’t. His struggle is no less hard than Leith’s–overcoming his own memories to make a totally new life with a Leith is a decision. I was glad he made the right one.

The book is brutal in its emotional landscape. Highs and lows. Confusion and resolution. Anger and peace. And, love. At the center, love shines. Zach’s patient acceptance, bringing all Leith’s fave foods to the hospital. Moving out so Leith can have his own space to reconnect. Coming back after Leith clobbers him in a blind rage. All of these are acts of love. Leith working to regain his memories, his sense of self, so he can recover the good times of his life with Zach is an act of love. Even more so, Leith abandoning this effort and committing to simply making new memories is the biggest show of his love.

At times I just wanted to reach into my iPad and grab these two into a group hug and whisper that it was all going to work out. To that end, I kinda felt the resolution was a teeny bit rushed. That said, I loved the book. The smexytimes were predictably hot and fantastic, so thanks for that. I had to chuckle when Leith’s doctor said it was time to leave the hospital because all the nurses were distracted trying to get a peek of Zach and Leith together….LOL, for real. The book steams, so not safe for the youngin’s.

Interested? You can find THE RIVER LEITH on Goodreads, Amazon and Barnes & Noble. I snatched a copy from NetGalley in exchange for this honest review.

About the author:

While Leta Blake would love to tell you that writing transports her to worlds of magic and wonder and then safely returns her to a home of sparkling cleanliness and carefully folded laundry, the reality is a bit different. For as long as Leta can recall, stories have hijacked her mind, abducting her to other lands, and forcing her to bend to the will of imaginary people. This absence from reality results in piles of laundry and forgotten appointments. In between abductions, Leta works hard at achieving balance between her day job, her writing, and her family.

You can catch up with Leta on her website, Goodreads, and twitter.

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends! 🙂



Hi there! Today I’m featuring a contemporary romance set in my hometown: Chicago! THE MILLIONAIRE AFFAIR, third in the Love in the Balance series by Jessica Lemmon, is a fun steamy read with a feel-good ending.

The Millionaire Affair (Love in the Balance, #3)About the book:


Millionaire ad executive Landon Downey has a policy: no romantic relationships allowed. So when he’s saddled with his six-year-old nephew for a week, he doesn’t think twice about asking Kimber Reynolds to act as live-in nanny. What he doesn’t expect is the undeniable attraction to the woman he hasn’t seen since they were kids. And not only does she like him back-she suggests they work their way down a list of extracurricular activities in the bedroom. How can he resist?

Kimber wants to prove once and for all that she can love ’em and leave ’em with the best of them. All she has to do is keep her sixteen-year crush on Landon out of the equation. No problem . . . until she realizes she may not be the only one whose heart has gotten completely tangled up in their no-strings agreement.

My Review:
Landon is in a fix–he’s a perfectionist business owner AND he’s a doting uncle. But, he’s not a care giver. Scheduled to watch his nephew while his widower brother is having a retreat is more of a challenge than Landon can meet. Plus, he’s got a HUGE contract int he bablance at his ad agency and needs to micromanage his office. So he calls in the Big Guns:  his sister. Unfortunately, she just took off the previous week to watch Lyon and her boss (Landon!) is a slavedriver…

She does, however, recommend her childhood friend Kimber to work as a nanny.

See, Kimber lives in Chicago–not far from Landon’s Magnificent Mile penthouse condo. Kimber owns a boutique selling upscale resale clothes and her own designs. While she’s making money, she hasn’t earned enough to buy out her business partner-slash-ex-boyfriend. With the money Landon’s offering she could get her business going exactly right. If only she doesn’t fall into a puddle of admiration when she crosses the threshold–Landon’s always caught Kimber’s eye…and heart…and quivery girly-bits.

Living in close quarters with the grown woman Landon only remembered as his sister’s frizzy-haired-brace-faced friend proves to be a difficult proposition. Kimber is stunning, and friendly, and engaging. She dotes on Lyon as if he were her own son, and Landon is considering some very wanton thoughts when she’s in the room. Or, on the phone. Or, anywhere.

In fact, they fairly steam around each other. Kimber cannot believe the wealthy man who usually dates willowy models could be interested in her bootylicious self, but then, she’s NOT going to get serious.

That’s always Kimber’s downfall–taking the relationship to Seriousville when her beaux are more interested in Good Time Town. Instead, she and Landon strike a tantalizing bargain–they each write a list of TEN EROTIC EXPERIENCES and vow that once they check off their Sex Bucket List, they will walk away without a string. Funny thing, strings seem to catch even the most tenacious.

Kimber and Landon are really a cute couple. They have some D-Lish smexytimes unencumbered by the risk of their hearts. They share affection, and lust, but soon they share a whole lot more. Kimber is torn–she wants more with Landon, but doesn’t want him controlling her life. Landon wants into Kimber’s world–in whatever capacity Kimber will have him–but his desire to help sometimes comes off as HOLY FREAKING COW TOO MUCH. Still, I adore main characters who take time to figure things out, as Landon and Kimber do.

Oh, and it looks like Landon’s revised list–featuring Number 11–is just the start of their very naughty future.

Interested? You can find THE MILLIONAIRE AFFAIR on Goodreads, Amazon and Barnes & Noble. I received a copy of this book via NetGalley. This is my honest review.

Jessica LemmonAbout the Author:

Jessica Lemmon writes sexy contemporary romances with a squeeze of humor for Grand Central (Tempting the Billionaire, Hard to Handle) and Entangled (If You Dare).

She is an artist, dreamer, former meateater, fun-loving, fast-talking wife, and a den mother to two dogs. She loves to hear from her fans.

You can also find her on her website, Facebook, twitter, and Pinterest.

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!

She Finds Her HEART SHAPED ROCK–Review and Giveaway


Hi there and welcome to my stop on the HEART SHAPED ROCK blog tour sponsored by YA Bound Blog Tours. For other stops on the tour click here. This YA Romance is the debut novel from Laura Roppe–and it’s a heartbreaker.

5ea0a-heart_shaped_rock_ebook_cover_finalSummary from Goodreads:

“If you liked the music collaboration of Maybe Someday, you’ve got to check out Heart Shaped Rock.” — New York Times best-selling author of Maybe Someday, Colleen Hoover

“Laura Roppé has written a moving and emotional novel of first love, accurately capturing the voice and mind of a dramatic and emotional sixteen year old girl caught in a maelstrom of grief and loss, love and heartbreak. And then there’s Dean…you’ll just have to read the book, ‘cause I can’t do him justice in a few short sentences.” –Jasinda Wilder, New York Times and USA Today best-selling author of Falling into You

Sometimes a shattered heart needs to sing to love again . . . Sixteen year old singer-songwriter Shaynee Sullivan hasn’t so much as touched her guitar since her mom died six months ago. In fact, Shaynee hasn’t felt like doing much of anything lately, except maybe playing Whack-a-Mole on her “emotionally intelligent” brother’s head. But when she meets a gorgeous and surprising rocker named Dean, her shattered heart begins to mend . . . and then burst at the seams. Heart-wrenching, heart-warming, and sometimes even heart-racing, Heart Shaped Rock will leave you laughing through tears and rooting for love in all its forms.

My Review:

My heart absolutely broke for Shaynee! Six months ago her mom died of cancer. Her mother was one of those magical people–the kind who can coax a smile out of a sulky teen. She was a vibrant woman–a singer and songwriter. In death she is mourned steadfastly. Shaynee’s father grieves terribly–working too much and enlisting Shaynee to care for herself and her younger brother, Lennox. Lennox is 11, and vastly better at coping with his mother’s death. He delights in listening to her recordings and openly discusses their mother–as if she’s keeping watch over the family.

Shaynee, on the other hand, can’t bear to even speak of her mother. She’s so angry–she lashes out at Lennox, her dad and even her BFF Tiffany.  Nor can she pick up her guitar. Shaynee’s always been into music. Has written countless songs and performed since she was little, but the music died with her mom, and so did Shaynee’s social life. Tiffany has tried to be there, but Shaynee won’t let her in. So, Tiff tricks Shaynee into getting a job at the coffeehouse where she works.

The freedom of finding new social connections–people who know nothing about about her personal tragedy–liberates Shaynee’s spirit for the first time in months. Meeting first surfer Jared, and then singer Dean, sparks the long-dead beat of Shaynee’s heart. She falls for Dean hard–but Dean has secrets that shatter the tenuous peace Shaynee had established. Jared alternates between confidante and c*ckblock. He’s every bit as smitten with Shaynee as Dean is–and thinks his affection is returned. Well, not so much, but Shaynee is quick to tell Jared she’s mean. So, when she acts mean, he’s been properly warned.

Truthfully, Shaynee knows that Dean is her better match. He’s a singer and plays three instruments. Oh, and he’s kind and understanding. If only he’d been honest from the start. Then again, Shaynee hasn’t been honest much, either. In fact, her denial is crippling her. It’s a long road to acceptance–but it’s great to see Shaynee walk it under her own power.

Shaynee could clearly play the grieving child card to win Dean’s forgiveness–but she wises up, and ‘fesses up, too. I was grateful. In lots of parts of the book, Shaynee’s struggles are so suffocating, she falls into panic attacks. By the end this girl walks tall and strums a bold tune. Lennox (and her mom) would have been proud to see it. I liked it. You might too.

Interested? You can find HEART SHAPED ROCK on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and iTunes. Hear the original music performed in Heart Shaped Rock at http://www.LauraRoppe.com. All music available on iTunes.

d8910-lauraroppeAbout the Author

Laura Roppé is an award-winning singer/songwriter, author, audio book narrator, speaker, and former attorney from San Diego, California. In 2011, Billboard Magazine ranked her as Number Three on its chart of the Top 50 “uncharted” artists in the world. In May 2013, Laura began hosting Amazon’s weekly podcast, “Kindle Love Stories,” for people who love hearing about love stories, romance, and happily ever afters.
Her first book is the non-fiction memoir, Rocking the Pink. Her latest is a YA-teen romance novel entitled Heart Shaped Rock, featuring a soundtrack.

You can find Laura on her website, Goodreads, twitter and Facebook.

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Good luck and keep reading my friends!


Time to get SYNCHRONIC–A Review

Hi there! Not sure how clear I have been about my love for time travel romance–I discovered Diana Gabaldon, wow, must be seven years ago–yes it’s not that long considering she’d been published for more than twenty–and her Outlander series pretty much changed my life, at the time. I’d been depressed and isolated in a community far from my family due to work. My childhood love of fiction was supplanted by work and mothering constraints. In those days, reading fiction had become only what I did with my kids. I truly hadn’t read an adult novel in years.

Then Outlander smashed me over the head and I could breathe in a way I hadn’t since, probably, motherhood. I devoured the series, among other time-travel based stories and came alive within my own skin. So, I continue to explore the genre of time travel fiction–even if romance isn’t always part of the story.

Synchronic: 13 Tales of Time TravelToday’s book has a bit of everything, because it’s a time travel anthology. Thirteen (short) stories written by amazing authors in their own right–all working time travel into their stories. Some are longer–nearing novella length–others not quite so long.

Some are written in colloquial speech, others are futuristic. The variety is refreshing, and the science-y aspect varies as well.

This is what I love about anthologies: a quick read. If I don’t like one story I can get through it quick, or breeze over it for another. I haven’t had the need to breeze while reading this one, however.

I’m going to give some highlights of the first few stories, just to give you a “taste” of what you will find if you dive in. Rest assured that the book is excellently crafted throughout. The stories stand on their own, and are perfect for a “snack” or lunchtime read. Not sure how all of you fare in the summer, but my kids are sometimes even more active–what with camps and sleepovers and extra activities, so I have to squeeze in my reads around that kooky schedule. Reading short works gets me my fiction fix.

My Review:

I’m not a huge sci-fi reader, but I love a well-told story. In this short-story collection I found a huge spread from heavy sci-fi to quirky romance.

Bunker’s THE SANTA ANNA GOLD just sucked me in. The funniest thing is, I usually hate tales when I can’t trust the narrator, and yet, I was completely entranced.

Quinn’s CORRECTIONS, featuring a time-traveling therapist for death row convicts, had great twists. I almost felt like I was watching an episode of Quantum Leap.

Peralta’s HEREAFTER honestly brought tears to my eyes. Such a tender, heartbreakingly romantic story of a love that transcends time.

Tozzi’s REENTRY WINDOW was a chilling sci-fi adventure of Mars exploration. Ugh! I just wanted to scream, wishing I could change astronaut Brett Lockwood’s fate.

Cole’s SWIMMING POOL OF THE UNIVERSE dealt with PTSD in a future world where life goes on. I think we all got a bit of Sgt. Collins in us.

I could go on, but I’m going to go back to reading instead. Catch you on the flip-side….

Interested? You can find SYNCHRONIC on Goodreads, Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!


Who Doesn’t Love a VANILLA TWIST?–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m reviewing a contemporary romance from CJ Ellison. I picked up VANILLA ON TOP and VANILLA TWIST a few weeks back when they were on sale–and boy am I glad I did! Perfect reads to kick off the summer. You can find my review of VANILLA ON TOP here. Prepare for a smexy time….

Vanilla Twist (Walk on the Wild Side, #3; Heather and Tony, #2)About the book:

Heather thinks she has it all—an interesting lover, a dream job, and a new wardrobe to match her take-charge attitude. But everyone has a past, and when Heather confronts hers at work she’ll be hard-pressed to hold onto her newfound confidence and resolve. Does she trust Tony enough to let him help her or will she tackle the issue on her own?

Still intrigued by the young woman and the multiple layers she presents to the world, Tony begins to change his life, too—for what he hopes is the better. He quit his high-powered career to find peace in a less stressful day-to-day existence. Desire for Heather still invades his every waking moment, and when trouble threatens their sexual explorations he makes the hardest choice of his life. One he may soon regret.

My Review:
Tony and Heather are moving into the “getting to know you” phase of their relationship. They have great sexual chemistry, and a budding emotional connection, but have only known each other a few weeks. Too bad everybody has baggage….

Heather’s last serious boyfriend was a manipulative, cheating D-bag. How fun that he’s also the newest sales rep at her firm. Oh, and that he’s hitting on Heather’s administrative assistant. Yay! Not. This dude has some serious cahones, however, and Heather’s stressed by his unwelcome attention. Why is he always showing up when she’s alone? And, does he even mean the compliments he gives her–or are they a means to engage her so he can manipulate her again?

Tony is done being the ‘manwhore’–Heather fulfills him in ways he never had been with his scores of sexual partners. Unfortunately, one of those gals has turned up with big, BIG, news. Is Tony a daddy? He’s terrified that Heather will walk if she finds out–but he’s also suspicious that he’s being played. Baby Mama is a known party girl, and Tony wants proof before he commits to any long term plans. See, Tony’s freaking loaded–and his money has always been the attraction for his playmates. Only Heather had no interest in turning Tony into a paycheck–which was why he was drawn to her initially.

Reading this book I had Shel Silverstein’s THE MISSING PIECE MEETS THE BIG O rolling around in my brain.

The book is classic and just a poignant for adults as it is interesting for children.

Anywho, it seems to me that Heather and Tony compliment–not complete–each other. They confess their new, and important, problems and find a partner with whom to share the journey. Tony immediately wants to confront Heather’s ex, but lets her handle the situation in the proper manner–this gives Heather confidence that she can solve her own problems. And Heather embraces Tony’s potential paternity with grace. After all, she’d want him to be involved in his own child’s life–even if she wasn’t the mother.

And, being all roly-poly like an industrious missing piece, Tony makes overtures to foster Heather’s creative side–in the bedroom and out of it. This bring into focus how terribly smitten he is–and engages the attention of Tony’s brothers–who are fun. So much good smexytimes I know I’ll be thinking about them for quite a while. The loose ends are tied here. The only plot line going forward is the growing relationship between two characters I really enjoy.

Interested? You can find VANILLA TWIST on Goodreads, Amazon and Barnes & Noble. While the sequel can be read as a standalone, I recommend both books to be read in order. Because, really, who wants to miss a smoking hot romance?

C.J. EllissonAbout the Author:

In the spring of 2008, C.J. started undergoing medical tests for issues she’d been ignoring for a few years. We’ve all done it ignored a problem we hoped would go away because our lives were too busy to give attention to some minor inconvenience.

Tests led to more tests and answers started to slowly trickle in. To keep her mind off of all that she couldn’t do and to focus on what she could do, she started writing in February 2009. A lover of books for decades, she owes her husband, Pete, her first writing partner, and many close friends a big hug of thanks for thinking she should even attempt to write a book.

In five months C.J. managed to: Write her first 90,000-word Urban Fantasy novel, join several writing guilds and writing sites, start an Author Page on Facebook, enter several writing contests and become a finalist in most of them, attend her first National writing conference and learn a lot about how to write. Who knew it could take so much work and still be so much fun?

You can find CJ on her website, Facebook and twitter.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!



Hi there! Today’s book is another YA adventure–of the killing sort. Yeah. I know. V…where’s the romance? Patience, grasshopper. I AM THE WEAPON, first published as BOY NOBODY, is a G-force thrill ride, a 7 on the Richter scale, and an F6 Tornado. It freaking blew me away.

I Am the WeaponAbout the Book:
They needed the perfect assassin.

Boy Nobody is the perennial new kid in school, the one few notice and nobody thinks much about. He shows up in a new high school in a new town under a new name, makes a few friends, and doesn’t stay long. Just long enough for someone in his new friend’s family to die-of “natural causes.” Mission accomplished, Boy Nobody disappears, moving on to the next target.

But when he’s assigned to the mayor of New York City, things change. The daughter is unlike anyone he has encountered before; the mayor reminds him of his father. And when memories and questions surface, his handlers at The Program are watching. Because somewhere deep inside, Boy Nobody is somebody: the kid he once was; the teen who wants normal things, like a real home and parents; a young man who wants out. And who just might want those things badly enough to sabotage The Program’s mission.

In this action-packed series debut, author Allen Zadoff pens a page-turning thriller that is as thought-provoking as it is gripping, introducing an utterly original and unforgettable antihero.

My Review:
Zach Abrams is a 16 year old spook. That’s right, he’s a trained assassin, working for The Program, neutralizing threats by befriending the children of his targets before taking them out. (I’m going to call him Zach as that is his actual name–Ben is his cover name for this mission…)

I was simply astounded. The calculating precision by which Zach infiltrates his targets is clear, and his lack of a moral compass is a learned behavior–one that developed in the two years after his parents are murdered by another operative–Mike, who wormed his way into Zach’s home. Mike also inducted Zach into The Program when he was only twelve. Two years later Zach had graduated, and–in the two years since–he’s notched six authorized kills.

Now, Zach has new orders and the tightest timeframe yet. As “Ben”, Zach will befriend the daughter of NYC’s mayor. He has five days to take the mayor down. And Zach never fails.

Problem is, memories from Zach’s previous life–when he was just a normal kid–keep intruding. The mayor is extraordinarily similar to Zach’s dad, and Zach can’t help being attracted to Sam. She lost her mother a couple of years past, in an attack while visiting Israel, and she and Zach can commiserate on that level. Plus, she’s gorgeous and challenging. She won’t take any crap–and sees through Zach’s attempts at ingratiation. It doesn’t mean there is no attraction, however. Zach’s no stranger to sex, but he’s never had an emotional attachment to a girl before Sam. Also, it seems one of Sam’s ex’s is an Israeli commando. Oh, and he might just be following Zach…

Zach is messing up the mission, wanting to be close to Sam–and her Dad–prompting some tough love from The Program. Mike has been called in to ensure the job gets done–even if Zach can’t do it.

Of course, when the mission target changes to Sam, Zach’s turmoil reaches a breaking point. He’s never killed a kid before. How can he kill the girl he connects to? Zach does something he never has before–he gets outside help. And, hopefully, the computer whiz kid he enlists can help him keep Sam safe.

I thoroughly enjoyed this antihero. Zach has not questioned his role, or his job, since becoming a member of the Program. The internal battle he experiences as he chooses how to proceed with his mission is real and honest–even if Zach is a trained liar. I loved how he questioned authority, and I REALLY loved the twist about his own father–something I had expected and was delighted came to fruition. Mike, in this book, seems to be a great foil. I am hopeful that these two boys will become allies down the road. The pace is blistering. Not a spare word in the entire novel. I almost hesitated using the toilet, unable to set my pad for even that long…. Cannot wait to read the next book! I received a review copy of this book via NetGalley. And I loved every page of it!

Interested?  You can find I AM THE WEAPON on Goodreads, Amazon and Barnes & Noble. I’m also pretty sure you can find BOY NOBODY on you local library shelves. I’m prepping to read the sequel,  I AM THE MISSION, which is newly released….stay tuned for that review in a week or so.

Allen ZadoffAbout the Author:

Allen Zadoff is the author of the new thriller series, The Unknown Assassin which earned starred reviews and has been optioned for a feature film by Sony Pictures and Will Smith’s Overbrook Entertainment. His YA novel, Food, Girls, and Other Things I Can’t Have won the Sid Fleischman Humor Award and was a YALSA selection for Most Popular Paperbacks of 2012. His second novel was My Life, the Theater, and Other Tragedies, the story of a techie hiding from life after a family tragedy. His third novel Since You Left Me is set in Los Angeles and tells the story of a religious school student who doesn’t believe. He also wrote the memoir for adults, Hungry:Lessons Learned on the Journey from Fat to Thin.

Allen is a graduate of Cornell University and the Harvard University Institute for Advanced Theatre Training. Visit him on his website, Goodreads and twitter.

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!

They find the PERFECT KIND OF TROUBLE–Review and Giveaway!

Hi there! Welcome to my stop on the Perfect Kind of Trouble blog tour. This is the second book I’ve read form Chelsea Fine–and I love her New Adult romances! (Check out my review of BEST KIND OF BROKEN…)
Fine_PerfectKindofTrouble_ebookABOUT THE BOOK:

Sometimes when perfect falls apart, a little trouble fixes everything . . . 

Twenty-one-year-old Kayla Turner has lost everything. After spending most of her life taking care of her ailing mother, she just wants to spot a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. So when her late father-a man she barely knew-leaves her an inheritance, she finally breathes a sigh of relief . . . until she learns the inheritance comes with strings. Strings in the form of handsome playboy Daren Ackwood, her father’s protégé. To see any of her inheritance, she’s forced to team up with him. From his expensive car to those sexy dimples, Kayla’s seen his type before. But Daren isn’t who he seems to be . . .

Struggling to make amends for his family’s mistakes, Daren has a life more Oliver Twist than Richie Rich these days. He’s beyond grateful that James Turner included him in his will, but working with Turner’s princess of a daughter to fulfill his cryptic last wish is making Daren wonder if being broke is really so bad. Still, she’s just as beautiful as she is stubborn, and the more time he spends with Kayla, the less it feels right being without her. Soon Daren and Kayla begin to wonder if maybe the best gift Kayla’s dad could have left them . . . was each other.

My Review:

This book has hijinks. Lots of them. Kayla has long believed her father abandoned her. She hasn’t had any contact in five years–since he cut all child support and alimony. She’s broke, and indebted to a shady character to the tune of 20G’s–a debt incurred by her mother who has recently died. She arrives at her father’s funeral, for closure, only to learn that there’s an inheritance–and a catch. In order to pursue the undisclosed fortune, she must be (literally) shackled to her father’s former garden keeper–richboy/playboy Daren Ackwood. Ugh.

Daren can’t believe Kayla even dares to show her face in their small town. She’s as heartless as her mother, he supposes, cutting all ties with her father and living like a princess on her trust fund. She didn’t even have the decency to visit when he was dying. And now she wants a piece of the joint inheritance? Daren doesn’t think so.

Their constant interactions help reveal the complete misconceptions these two have. Neither of them is rich–and haven’t been for some time. As the story is revealed we learn that Kayla’s trust fund was squandered by another–she never even knew she HAD a trust fund, and Daren’s wealth was consumed by his father’s alcoholism and legal troubles. They are, essentially, indigent. Revealing all these frailties brings Daren and Kayla close in a way they hadn’t experienced with another.

It turns out Kayla’s dad has set up a scavenger hunt, something he had done often when she was young. The memories evoked and letters he left behind gut Kayla. She learns so much about him, and his love for her, with no way to make amends for all they lost. Coupled with Daren, Kayla’s emotions are on overload and he gains compassion for her. He sees that she was abandoned–not by choice–and really connects with Kayla. Their attraction is mutual, but neither can easily admit the need to be together–they’ve been abandoned too many time to trust another person.  Until, maybe, it’s too late.

The device of hitching these two played better than I had expected. There’s some fun moments when they take tumbles or bang around due to their physical attachment. I would have liked even a bit more of their coping–with, say, toilet time. Nothing more intimate then defecating in front of someone….unfortunately. It wasn’t even mentioned. I kinda felt the “love” was rushed–even in this extreme case–but I was glad to see the emotional shifts these two made. They are already old beyond their years, due to crap parental influences, so their brief bouts of silliness was refreshing. A quality HEA I could get behind! I received a copy of this book for review via NetGalley.

How’s about a little taste? (From Daren’s POV)

I smile at the ground. “Okay, that’s fair.” I glance at the dark streets again. “I’m just a concerned citizen that wanted to make sure you got home safely. That’s all.”

She nods. “How very kind of you, citizen. Would you rather I be going back to the Quickie Stop with someone?”

The idea of Kayla going home with someone—anyone, other than me—rakes down my spine like nails on a chalkboard. I don’t know when I got so possessive of this girl but holy hell. My veins are on fire.

How very unexpected. And somewhat annoying.

I don’t get possessive of women. Ever. Sure, I care about Amber and Pixie but that’s different. I care about them like sisters. I’m protective of them. I couldn’t really give a damn who they, or any other female in this town, go to bed with.

But Kayla?

Hot jealousy darts through my veins.

How very annoyingly unexpected.

I set my shoulders back in a casual manner. “Not particularly,” I say coolly. “I just wasn’t sure if you had a ride or not.”

“Oh.” She runs a finger over her lips. “And what, you were going to offer me a ride?”

I watch the tip of her finger skim over the pink fullness of her bottom lip and my breath hitches. She can’t say things like “give me a ride” and touch her mouth at the same time. That’s just not fair.

“Well I might have offered you a ride,” I say, inwardly cursing as I remember sweet, precious Monique, “except I’m pretty sure you’re not supposed to take rides from strangers. And since that’s what you and I are…” I sigh dramatically. “It would have just been a waste of time to ask you.”

She smiles behind her moving fingers and I start to wonder if she’d let me kiss her. My guess is, yes. Maybe.

I want to kiss Kayla. Badly. But the idea of kissing her, of touching her at all, also makes me a little nervous. And I’m never nervous when it comes to women.

Goddammit. Everything about this girl is unexpected.

“You’re so obsessed with us not being strangers,” she says, and her eyes shine. “That can’t be healthy.”

I probably shouldn’t kiss her. We have an inheritance to claim tomorrow. We have shit to follow through with. Kissing her is a bad idea. A very bad idea.

“No. Probably not.” I step closer so we’re only inches apart. “But I can’t seem to let it go.”

She doesn’t move away. She doesn’t break eye contact.

Yes. She’d definitely let me kiss her. I’m sure of it.

My heart pounds and it’s all I can do to keep my nonchalant demeanor in place.

“Is that what we are, Kayla?” I lower my voice with a crooked grin. “Strangers?”

She meets my crooked grin and raises me a tipped chin. Her eyes are steel and sure, not giving anything away, and I suddenly feel unsure.

I lean in.

She doesn’t react. But she also doesn’t back away.

Kissing her is a bad idea.

Her lips part, ever so slightly, a thin seam of wet flesh forming between the soft skin of her pretty lips, and all my reservations vanish.

Interested? You can find PERFECT KIND OF TROUBLE on Goodreads, Amazon, B&N and iTunes.
About the author
Chelsea lives in Phoenix, Arizona, where she spends most of her time writing stories, painting murals, and avoiding housework at all costs. She’s ridiculously bad at doing dishes and claims to be allergic to laundry. Her obsessions include: superheroes, coffee, sleeping-in, and crazy socks. She lives with her husband and two children, who graciously tolerate her inability to resist teenage drama on TV and her complete lack of skill in the kitchen. You can find Chelsea on her website,  Facebook,  Twitter and Goodreads.
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