Thursday, March 28, 2013

Reviews: Under the Hood by Juanita Kees & Slow Burn by Anne Marsh

Juanita Kees

Release Date:  March 1, 2013

Author: Juanita Kees

Genre:  Contemporary Romance

Spoilers:  No way!  Y’all get your own copy.  

Note:  This book contains mentions of drug use, foul language, and some sex scenes.  I do not place an age limit on readers, but if you are offended by any of these things Under the Hood may not be suitable for you.  


TJ is a kickass mechanic who has set up an apprentice program at an auto repair shop for teens in need of help.  Now that a new owner has purchased the shop, TJ is afraid her program is in jeopardy.  Little does she know, Scott is not running from his problems on the east coast . . . he is searching for a challenge in his new home on the west coast. 

After firing and re-hiring TJ, Scott becomes involved in getting the program up and running.  Attraction is inevitable in this cute, yet oddly tragic contemporary romance.  But will that be enough when the past makes an unwelcome appearance?


The story was fairly short, but it packed lots of goodness.  TJ is feisty, feminine, and ready to risk everything for kids who have nothing.  It is difficult to give my opinion without mentioning spoilers, but I will say I gave this book 4 stars up until about that last 70-80 pages.  The ending was left open and unresolved. With that said, I am really hoping there is second book in this series.  I’m not sure where the author would go with the main characters (which is exactly why I will be reading the second book if there is one!), but maybe there will be someone for Marty.  Marty!  Marty!  Marty!  

Actually, maybe Detective Mark Johnson deserves his own story.  Hmm.  Yes.  Yes, he will do quite nicely.

I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.  

Anne Marsh

Title:  Slow Burn

Release Date:  March 26, 2013

Author:  Anne Marsh

Genre:  Contemporary Romance

Spoilers:  No way!  Y’all get your own copy.  

Note:  This book contains foul language and some steamy sex scenes.  I do not place an age limit on readers, but if you are offended by any of these things Slow Burn may not be suitable for you.  


Faye Duncan is free from a marriage that was over shortly after it began.  Now she is on the road in her shiny new-to-her classic Corvette, headed to Strong, California for her job as a photojournalist and to escape the life of a firefighter's ex-wife.

Evan Donovan is quiet and devoted to family, his job, and his team of Smoke Jumpers.  He never wanted or expected to fall in love with a drunken lady singing karaoke in the local bar, but he's on a mission to fulfill a favor from an old friend.  An old friend who happens to be Faye Duncan's ex-husband.  

Complications surface when Faye’s ex-husband and a firefighting arsonist come in the middle of relationship that heats up with every turn of the page. 


Please read the entire review before you think I’m bashing this book.  Because I’m not.  I promise. 
I waited over a week to review just in case I decided I liked it more.  I think the main reason I didn’t fully love this book is because I found Faye and Evan to be more exasperating than lovable.

photo courtesy of
But I'm Really Not

I understand Faye is upset by her ex-husband, but she consistently tells the reader all the ways she knew the marriage was over before he decided to sleep with someone else.  So I know you're angry but I need you to take a shot, cry it out, walk it off, and keep it moving . . . preferably toward Evan.  If I could give Evan and Faye a piece of advice—and yes, I do this.  In my head.  Because out loud would be just crazy.  Right?  Anyway.  Back to the advice:  Communication is a beautiful thing.  If you just communicate accordingly, your relationship will not need as many buckets to hold the tears.  I like Marsh’s take on Evan.  He is not outgoing, not drop-dead drool on your sleeve gorgeous, and seriously lacks in social skills.  Evan's strongest point is the loyalty he has for his family and his team, but he also has (cliché alert!) a heart of gold and that draws you to him. 

The mystery of the arsonist and the call outs for the Smoke Jumpers are really the high points of this book.  I found the relationship between Ben and Nonna to be a bit more intriguing than Faye and Evan.  Here’s the thing, though.  I’m going to read the first book.  Not only will I read the first book, but I will read the next book in the series.  Why?  Because I like this author.  The romance between the main characters was not my favorite, but I like Anne Marsh’s style.  I am also pretty much in love with the idea of the Smoke Jumpers because their story is just so different from your basic sexy fire fighter love interests (although I do love those, too). 

I recommend this book to lovers of sexy insta-romance and insta-drama.  Now I’m off to purchase the first book. 

I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.  


Fall Out Boy-The Phoenix

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

YA Highway's Road Trip Wednesday

YA Highway

Not sure about Road Trip Wednesday?  Well how about you just click on over to YAHighway and see what all the fuss is about!  Why?  Because that's what awesome people do.  You're welcome. 

This Week's Topic: This month's Bookmobile selection, The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd, is inspired by The Island of Doctor Moreau, and its sequel takes inspiration from the Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. What other novellas would you like to see inspire YA books?

I Am Legend by Richard Matheson would be an amazing YA Paranormal.  There have been a few movie adaptations Hollywood has butchered produced, including the title film starring Will Smith that came out a few years ago.  That version deviated quite a bit from Matheson's novella (and he was also not credited. . . tsktsk, Hollywood, tsktsk), but it kept almostsortakinda with the general plot.

Vampirism? Check.  Zombies?  Check.  Virus that infects mankind? Check.  Survival?  Ch--well, that's a spoiler so I will spare you the details.  

Of course the protagonist would have to be changed from a middle-aged man with a wife to a teen whose parents/siblings are infected with the virus.  Maybe?  Yes?  Gosh, this makes me want to break my "Never Write Fan Fiction" Rule & go write some fan fiction.

What I'm Listening To:

Spoken-Word.  Panama Soweto's Powerful "I'm Taking My Ball & I'm Going Home."  Check him out on Twitter @PanamaSoweto

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Very Inspiring Blog Award!

The Rules 

1. Display the logo on your blog.

2. Link back to the person who nominated you.

3. State 7 things about yourself.

4. Nominate 15 other bloggers for the award.

5. Notify your nominees.

The Link Back

Fantasy and freelance writer, K.N. Lee, nominated me.  Her tweets and daily writing prompts are pretty amazing, as well as her short stories and fan fictions.  The Galloway Lake is still my favorite and I will shamelessly say I wish it were at least a novella so we could learn more.  Check her out at Write Like A WizardThe Chronicles of Koa and on Twitter.  

7 Things About Me

1)  I graduated culinary school in North Carolina a few years ago, yet I refuse to work in a restaurant.  Why?  The Man tries to hold me back on the creative front, so I work out of my house when I’m not bogged down with nursing school.

Photo Courtesy of Me
Dobos Torte

2)  My first piece of fiction was written in first grade.  The teacher instructed the class to write something interesting about our summer.  Even back then I was boring, so I made up an entire 6 weeks’ worth of goodness.  

3)  I am an Army wife . . . no, it’s nothing like the show.

4)  Why don’t I put my writing “out there” more?  Because I am, essentially, a weenie.  You can judge me now.  Go ahead.  I’ll wait.

5)  There are 2 things you cannot do in my house:  1) Speak hateful words 2) Leave Hungry . . . I am a southerner, you will probably gain 3 lbs before you leave.  You're welcome.  
Photo Courtesy of my front porch

6)  I have soundtracks for every short story, novella, and book I have written/am writing.  I make a playlist page so anyone who reads them can get a feel for the moods of my characters.  I also reference scenes on the aforementioned playlists. 

7)  I am extremely shy.  I'm that person who turns beet red at any little thing. I bite my lip when I'm concentrating really hard.  Yeah.  Not proud of either one of those.

My Nominations: In Random Order  

1)  K.N. Lee

I'm off to notify . . . You can stalk  follow me on twitter @PardonMyNaivete

Friday, March 15, 2013

Book Re-review: Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma

Title:  Forbidden
Author:  Tabitha Suzuma
Genre:  YA Romance

Spoilers:  No way!  Y’all get your own copy!  : D

Note:  This book contains a love interest that goes beyond what most define as normal.  What, exactly, is that foreign word anyway?  I do not place an age limit on readers, but if you are offended easily, Forbidden may not be suitable for you.  

I am re-reviewing because of a challenge by my book nerd friends to review something that stands out in the vast world of books.  And what a beautiful, beautiful world it is.  


Siblings Lochan (17) and Maya (16) have always felt more like friends than brother and sister.  With their alcoholic, practically non-existent mother and a father who long ago abandoned the family, Lochan and Maya have taken over the role of parents to their three younger siblings.  Along with the stress of becoming stand-in parents, high school, and the constant threat of child protective services, their lives have brought them close.  So close, in fact, that Lochan and Maya have fallen in love.  Although they know the relationship is wrong, they are unable to stop how they feel.


First, allow me to say that if you do not have an open mind, do not read this book.  Seriously.  Some of the reviews I have read are downright ignorant, and some are even quite disgusted by it.  Which means the point of the book is either 1) Received or 2) Not Received. 

Wait . . . what?

I don't know what this meeaaanns!

Confused?  Perplexed?  Do you need a moment?  Go ahead . . . take it.  Woooosahhhh!  Woo-sahhhh!

Now.  Take the time to read this amazingly heartbreaking story and you will see what I mean.

Yes, there is incest.  Yes, a few times throughout I stopped and thought, "Oh my."  But this is a love story.  A tragic, tragic love story that does not have a happy ending.  Actually, when I first read this book, I hated it because I was so bitter about the ending.  

However, my mind is changed.  I read Forbidden a little over two years ago and I cannot get this story out of my head.  It is one of those books where you find yourself wanting something to work out that maybe should not work out . . . and then you find yourself asking, "Well, why shouldn't it work out?  Who am I to judge love?  To judge anyone, for that matter?"

Forbidden will have you questioning things that have no answer.  And however frustrating, that's quite all right with me.

What I'm Listening To:
Big Mama Thornton-Give Me A Penny

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Book Review: Sketchy by Oliva Samms

Title:  Sketchy
Scheduled Release Date:  April 30, 2013
Author: Olivia Samms
Genre:  YA Mystery Suspense Paranormal Thriller (yes, all of those!)
Spoilers:  No way!  Y’all get your own copy.  : D
Note:  This book contains mentions of drug use, rape, and foul language.  I do not place an age limit on readers, but if you are offended by any of these things Sketchy may not be suitable for you.  


Kicked out of her all-girls high school and fresh out of a three-month stint in rehab, Bea is thrust into a new school with no friends, a pissed off demeanor, and a reputation any badass would be proud to have.  Life is hard enough trying to adjust to a sober lifestyle, but her reputation as a druggie, enviable fashion sense, and wild hair that has made her known as “Chia Pet” and “Beaver Head" to her tormentors are not the worst of Bea’s problems.

Bea is an artist.  While getting clean in rehab she discovers a new talent:  Bea is able to sketch images that come directly from the mind of people around her.  When she comes in contact with Willa, a popular cheerleader who was raped, beaten, and left for dead, Bea sketches someone she recognizes from her previous life as an addict.  The most recent attack is not the first in the area, but Willa is the first survivor.  For reasons all her own, Bea wants to help stop the attacker from hurting anyone again . . . even at the risk of her own life.  But Willa has secrets of her own that keep her from telling the truth about the attack, and those secrets may have gotten another girl killed.   

My Opinion:

Bea is quite a bit different from most other YA female protagonists, and for that reason I absolutely adored Sketchy.  Her behavior is all over the place (which is to be expected of a recovering addict), but her intentions are always well-placed.

I will be honest and say I did not care for her character at first.  I just wanted to yell, "Get your crap together, Sweet Pea!"  But I said to myself, "Self . . . you . . . hey!  That's the point of the book.  Goober."  Anyway.  Bea is feisty, emotional, confused, and not afraid to do what she thinks is right . . . even taking a chance of looking like a crazed junkie when she goes into the police station for the first time in an attempt to help Willa, however ungrateful she may appear. Bea has ultimately become one of my favorite YA female protagonists.  I stress female because all to often, girls and women in literature are seen as weak or needy, and that is something Bea is not.  

I also like that Miss Samms did not circle this book around Bea having or finding a relationship with a certain someone, although I am pretty excited to see where that goes in future books.  Chris, her best and only friend, brings out a playful side to Bea that is a refreshing break in the middle of all the serious situations this book offers.  I will go as far as saying he is my favorite character overall.

Now.  Onto my least favorite part of these reviews:  the cons. 

The cons are more personal preference than a gripe about what the author did or did not do or say, but I’m putting them out there anyway.  

Sketchy seemed a bit too rushed, especially the ending.  The mystery is pretty easy to solve, but Miss Samms builds this up throughout the book and not all at once.  I like that, but I wish the mystery would have been more of a mystery.  Does that make sense?  It does in my head.  That's a scary place to be, though.  Wait . . . am I blogging my thoughts out loud again?  *sigh*  

I would have liked the book to be a little longer in order to draw out some of the mystery and relationships, but I think (I hope!) this will happen in the upcoming books. 

I received a digital copy of this book from NetGalley in return for my honest review.  I most definitely will be purchasing a hardcopy of Sketchy when it is released April 30, 2013.  Not only do I want to see how Bea’s character will develop, but also how the author will develop.  Place this on your To Be Read list . . . I promise you will not be disappointed.  

What I'm Listening To:

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

YA Highway

Not sure about Road Trip Wednesday?  Well how about you just click on over to YAHighway and see what all the fuss is about!  Why?  Because that's what awesome people do.  You're welcome. 

YA Highway's Road Trip Wednesday topic for this week is:

Quarterly check-ins!  We’re already ¼ of the way through the year—where are you on your reading and writing goals?

According to Goodreads, I am 12 books ahead of schedule for my goal of 105 books this year.  Yayyyyy!  I am really hoping I can keep this up because I did not meet my goal last year.  Boooooooooo!  I have strayed a tinysmalljustalittlebit away from strictly YA and ventured into other genres.  Those other genres aren't so bad--and I'm even venturing my writing into the aforementioned genres--but I tend to always go back to YA.  That is my comfort zone, my pillow and mattress fort. 

After our move to Fort Knox, my writing is in bit of a slump.  I do write a little bit each day, and have found if I have a notebook and a pen I will write more often than if I start out on the computer.  Does this make me old school?  

My goal for my upcoming spring break is to writewritewrite! Did I mention write?  Yeah.  A lot of that.  Do any of you have that one project you've been working on for so long that you're afraid to even take a glimpse in its direction because it will distract you from everything else?  That is my number one problem as far as my writing goes.  It's like I can't fully develop my other characters because I keep returning to Those Characters on That Project.  Go ahead.  Call me a weenie.  I'll allow it.  

What I'm Listening To:
Ron Pope "A Drop in the Ocean"

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Book Review: More Than This by Shannyn Schroeder

Just a little side note:  My blog is currently under some major construction.  I began this as a class project a couple of years ago and have deleted a lot of the creative writing posts and even some of the book reviews I did back then.  I will be bringing in a new layout, content, and random book giveaways soon.  So spread the word, y'all!  Free brownies and free hugs will be involved.  Did I mention I am a pastry chef and a professional hugger?  I am.  

Now . . . Onward to the review! 

Title:  More Than This
Genre:  Contemporary Romance
Spoilers:  No way!  Y’all get your own copy.  : D
Note:  This book contains steamy, beautiful, sweet, sexy love making that may not be suitable for anyone who is offended by such things.


“Someday had become her mantra for years. Someday had already taken too long.”

High school English teacher Quinn plans everything—right down to the month she wants to be artificially inseminated in order for her work schedule to comply with the month her baby is born.  When she decides to carry out her “My Someday” list, she reluctantly hands over the reins to her sister and best friend to write out the list for her.  Quinn must carry out this list of eight things before the end of the summer. 

Quinn and her colleagues frequent O’Leary’s, a bar owned sexy, family-oriented Ryan.  When Ryan makes it his goal to become more than a bartender to Quinn, he gets a little more than he ever expected from the shy English teacher.  Between a sister who she thinks is prettier, more talented, and more experienced in the Man Department, and an ex-husband who worked at a bar throughout their marriage—which for him meant staying drunk all the time and countless infidelities—Quinn is reluctant to be anything more than friends with an unrelenting Ryan.    

My Opinion:

Ryan and Quinn develop a friendship that inevitably gets Ryan stuck in the friendzone.  Family, friends, a wallowing ex-husband, and numerous horrific internet dates get in the way of a story that could have held more. Since I do not want to add any spoilers, (not to mention I am very stealthily making you decide to get your own copy . . . gah, I'm like a book ninja!) the only thing I will say is the ending was so abrupt I had to go back and re-read a few pages to see what I missed.  That was one of the only cons I felt about this book. 

I like the author’s style.  She has a good mix of steamy and funny and seriousness to her characters that makes you want to give up your plans for the day and find out what happens.  This book, I believe, will appeal to readers who are looking for a romance that develops slowly, then all at once.  More Than This is not a story that is all-conclusive.  I’m a sucker for a good epilogue.  I love to see what the characters are up to—be it tomorrow or five, ten, twenty years down the road.  I did not get an epilogue with this book, but a preview into what’s going on in Quinn’s sister’s life.  I am pretty excited about that.  Actually, I would love to know what is going on with Kate, as well.  Oh, and throw some Colin in there, too.  I feel there are so many books that can come out of this one story and I will most definitely read all of them. 

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.  

Shannyn Schroeder

What I'm Listening To:
Song: Three Cheers for Five Years
Mayday Parade-Three Cheers for Five Years