Posts by LibrarianLaura

MLS Librarian and Book Blogger. Wife, Mom of boys & dogs, lover of books, baking, running, and strong coffee. SLJ/LJ Reviewer. Cross Country Coach.

Us, Again by Elle Maxwell

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Us, Again is a standalone, contemporary second-chance romance and the debut novel from author Elle Maxwell. I couldn’t stop reading it – both main characters, Graham and Mackenzie, will stay with readers long after the final page.

5 years ago, Mackenzie Thatcher and Graham Wyatt were young teenagers in love. The high school seniors were dreaming up their future together, when two weeks after graduation Graham’s parents were killed in a car crash. Unable to cope with the loss and grief, Graham turns to drugs and alcohol, keeping secrets from Mackenzie. While purchasing pills from his dealer one evening, Graham finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time and a man is shot right in front of him, landing him in prison for 5 years as an accessory to the crime. At this point, Mackenzie’s heart and future plans with Graham are shattered. She wonders if he ever really loved her at all, if he was able to keep such  major secrets from her. Determined to ward off relationships, Mackenzie moves on, growing a thicker skin and attitude along the way. Now she lives with a roommate, her hilarious Latina best friend Marisa, and has a job in social work, which is tough but rewarding. Her love life is rather nonexistent, because though she tries not to, she is always comparing them to Graham, the one who will always have her heart. Super sexy, alpha male Graham is released from prison and he has one goal in mind – find Mackenzie, apologize, tell the truth, and do whatever it takes to win back her trust. However, Mackenzie’s a lot stronger than she was 5 years ago, but every bit as beautiful to Graham. Getting her back into his arms and heart is going to be a lot more work than he thought. Good thing he doesn’t give up on a challenge. I won’t give up any more of the plot, but trust me, you’ll love it! Elle Maxwell has nailed the second-chance romance story with steamy romance and a bit of suspense/danger thrown in for good measure. I can’t wait for her next book!!

Thank you to the author for the chance to read an Advanced Review Copy and provide my honest review.

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The Voice in My Head by Dana L. Davis

imagesOriginally published in School Library Journal, May 2019.

Gr. 9 & Up: Davis’s second YA novel set in Seattle, follows 18 year old black twins Indigo and Violet and their chaotic family on an unlikely road trip. While attempting suicide, Indigo hears a voice say that her terminally ill twin Violet will live if she hikes the Wave, a 2 ½ mile scenic rock formation in the Arizona desert. Unsure whether the voice is God or a symptom of a concussion, Indigo bravely pleads to her family before Violet’s medically assisted death plans unfold. Thanks to a resourceful Pastor, Jeb, everything falls in place allowing the family to set off in a rainbow-colored paratransport bus covered in eyeballs. Pastor, the twins, their retired parents, a 16 year old brother Alfred, and 33 year old nurse practitioner sister Michelle and her husband and biracial children are a motley group of passengers, seeking healing for Violet’s pulmonary fibrosis. From kidney stones to an attempted robbery with a paintball gun, there is never a dull moment for the Phillips family. Indigo’s perspective of herself and her family changes along the way, allowing her acceptance and hope. The writing is refreshing and characters relatable. Though the novel tackles heavy subject matter of terminal illness, mental health, and death; light-hearted, comical scenes make for a heartfelt, yet entertaining read. VERDICT: Readers of diverse realistic fiction will enjoy the sibling banter, unique characters and authentic dialogue.

 

Cursed by Karol Ruth Silverstein

imagesOriginally published in School Library Journal, May 2019.

Gr. 9 & Up – Recently diagnosed with arthritis, 14 year old, Ricky Bloom, now lives in “the Batch Pad” with her dentist father, and attends a new middle school in Philadelphia. Ricky begins “the Charade,” ditching school to avoid the pain of getting there and the bullying. Instead she spends her time sleeping, taking hot baths, and daydreaming about Julio, a cute drummer. Embarrassed by her pain and limitations, she prefers to keep to herself; the only person she chooses to see being her older sister Dani, a college basketball player who lives with her girlfriend of three years.  When Ricky’s truancy is discovered, she risks having to take 9th grade over again, which would bring more unwanted attention to her already miserable, angry days. Back to school (IRL this time), she finds unlikely support from an English teacher and an adorkable guy named Oliver, a cancer survivor. These relationships and a new doctor who actually listens to her provide Ricky a new sense of hope, allowing her to become a better version of herself. Silverstein’s debut young adult novel provides an accurate portrayal of both the challenging relationship between parents and teens, as well as the frustration of living with a chronic illness. Not recommended for younger teens to the mature language. VERDICT: Readers will enjoy this contemporary coming of age story featuring a resilient protagonist and charming plot.

Beyond the Pale by Jennifer Millikin

IMG_4614 copyLibrarian Laura’s Review

I couldn’t put this book down, guys! If you like love triangles and angst, this is the one for you!

Lennon first met Brady and Finn in the 3rd grade when the was the “new girl” in Agua Mesa, Arizona.  They have been the best of friends ever since. So much so, that they made a pact 8 years ago that if one of them went back to Agua Mesa, the other two would go along in solidarity and support. When Lennon’s mother unexpectedly dies of a heart attack, she is forced to go back home to handle the arrangements. Lennon had a terrible home life growing up, so she doesn’t really feel any sort of loss. However, she is once again faced with the painful events of the past that she has tried and failed to outrun ever since. And the hardest part of it all is that her two best friends that she loves, Brady and Finn, are now men who are both in love with her. Brady, the steady, level-headed young lawyer who grew up with everything handed to him, but would still give anyone the shirt off of his back. Finn, an app developer and hard worker, has been stealing kisses with Lennon since they were teenagers, and he isn’t afraid to profess his love to her. Raised by his uncle in a trailer on the wrong side of town, he was not handed anything like Brady. He is also fiercely protective of Lennon. Being in constant close proximity to both men is cause for some very angst-filled romance, my friends. The romance is actually quite tame throughout the book, but Millikin definitely knows how to amp up the passion, through tender scenes with stolen kisses in this impossibly difficult love triangle. Lennon knows that she loves both Brady and Finn, and she always will. But, which one is she in love with? 

You’ll have to read it and find out. I don’t want to give away any more of the plot, and you’ll thank me for that later. I loved this story and can hardly wait for the next book in the series (One Good Thing) to come out in Spring 2020. The cliffhanger on this one, though. Jeesh, everything was going along just fine and then the last sentence…Boom!

Thank you to InkSlinger PR for the review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

 

Today we are celebrating the release of a new, standalone title from Jennifer Millikin by participating in the blog tour. BEYOND THE PALE is available now to purchase or read for FREE as part of Kindle Unlimited, and you will not want to miss this love story! Be sure to follow Jennifer for exclusive updates about the book.

Read it now as part of Kindle Unlimited

CLICK HERE: http://bit.ly/beyondthepalebook

 

Beyond the Pale by Jennifer Millikin

Available Now  |  Contemporary Romance

Read it now as part of Kindle Unlimited

CLICK HERE: http://bit.ly/beyondthepalebook

Book Blurb:

My whole life I’ve known Finn Jeffries and Brady Sterling would be my undoing.
The three of us were inseparable, but growing up with two boys as your best friends comes with it’s own certain type of growing pains.
As a child, Finn was wild and free, and grew up to be a devilishly handsome man with a smirk that frustrated me as much as it did other things to me.
Brady was brave and loyal, and the kind of man he grew into didn’t surprise me a bit: devoted and gallant, with a handsome, trustworthy face that made my heart beat faster.
We went our separate ways for college, but now it’s eight years later and a pact we made back then has brought us back to our hometown.
Back to the complicated situation we ran from.
Back to the love triangle we never really escaped.
I love them both, and it’s time for me to make a choice.
I’ve always known one of them would be my forever, I just never knew which one.
And I still don’t.

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AUTHOR INFORMATION:

 

Jennifer Millikin is a contemporary fiction author of five full-length novels and a contributor for Scottsdale Moms Blog. When she isn’t writing she can be found cooking, hiking, or in downward dog.

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Grayton Beach Dreams by Melissa Chambers

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Librarian Laura’s Review

Grayton Beach Dreams is #5 in the Love Along Hwy 30A series by Melissa Chambers. This could be read as a stand alone romance, but readers will appreciate reading it in order so they know the full back story of the characters and their friend group in the picturesque beach town of Seaside, Florida. Chambers does a fabulous job of connecting the characters between the books. This novel is Cassidy’s story. Cassidy Anderson, the 44-year-old owner of Seaside Sweets, a popular bakery, believes that she is past her prime and too old for romance. Cassidy usually dates older men who have been convenient, like Todd, one of the compassionate volunteers on her recent trip to Jamaica. It doesn’t help that all of her close friends are now married or getting married, leaving her feeling a bit like an extra wheel at times. When the smoking hot, young bar owner, Jesse Kirby, starts shamelessly flirting with her and making his interest known, she gets hung up on their age difference, even though it doesn’t bother 29-year-old Jesse or their mutual friends in the slightest. Things really heat up between Cassidy and Jesse when they end up on the same luxurious (private jet, anyone?) weekend getaway for mutual friends Chase and Shayla’s pre-wedding festivities. Jesse treats Cassidy like no one has ever treated her, not to mention he’s sexy as all get out. Enter some family drama and a few surprise visitors from their pasts and the odds seem to be stacked against the two lovebirds. Will Cassidy give in to the warnings of others or choose to follow her heart and be all in with Jesse. You’ll just have to read it and find out. Thanks to the author for an early review copy in exchange for honest feedback. I can’t wait for the next book in the series to be released!

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Book Details:
Grayton Beach Dreams 
by Melissa Chambers 
(Love Along Hwy 30A series, #5) 
Publication date: October 15th 2019
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Synopsis:

Having spent his college years and early twenties faithful to his sweetheart who ultimately dumped him for his brother, Jesse Kirby will never again be anyone’s fool. He’s been making up for lost time by sampling every woman he missed out on. But as thirty approaches, the revolving door to his bedroom isn’t doing it for him anymore. When he meets the altruistic Cassidy Anderson, he realizes it’s time to make some meaning out of his life. Sure, she may only be interested in him for his body and his literary tattoos, but he will make her see him for the man he now knows he can be.

Cassidy Anderson has always lived her life to serve others and dated stable men her own age or older with the same goals in mind. As she considers an offer from one of those stable men, twenty-nine-year-old bartender Jesse Kirby sets his sights on her, giving her options she doesn’t need to consider. It’s been so long since Cassidy has experienced a body and a libido like his that she isn’t sure if she can pass him up. But just for a taste, because a relationship like theirs could only be headed for heartbreak.

AUTHOR BIO:
Melissa Chambers writes contemporary novels for young, new, and actual adults. A Nashville native, she spends her days working in the music industry and her nights tapping away at her keyboard. While she’s slightly obsessed with alt rock, she leaves the guitar playing to her husband and kid. She never misses a chance to play a tennis match, listen to an audiobook, or eat a bowl of ice cream. (Rocky road, please!) She has served as president for the Music City Romance Writers and is the author of the Love Along Hwy 30A series, the Before Forever series (YA), and Courting Carlyn (YA).
Author links:

Giveaway: Win a $20 Amazon Gift Card

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A Lie for a Lie by Helena Hunting

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Librarian Laura’s Review

A Lie for a Lie is the first book in the new All In series by Helena Hunting. A remote cabin setting in Kodiak Island, Alaska. A sexy, alpha male hockey player on a solo fishing trip. An anxious, beautiful young woman working on her thesis.  Chicago based, professional hockey star and team captain, Rook “Rookie” Bowman wants to just be a normal guy for a few weeks, away from the media and the ladies throwing themselves at his feet. While he enjoyed it for a while, a few quiet weeks to be himself is really tempting. He flies out to Alaska for an annual fishing trip with his brother, but this year his brother’s wife is expecting a baby and Rook ends up solo. It would have been the first trip to the cabin with his brother since their father passed away. His plans of actually being alone change dramatically when a beautiful woman literally falls into his lap on the plane. And the best part of all, she has no idea who he is. He doesn’t want Lainey to know about his drama-filled past, or to be starstruck for his wealth, so he tells a little white lie about his background, using his parent’s alpaca farm as inspiration. It’s only a matter of time, however, before the truth comes out.

Lainey is researching dolphin mating behavior on Kodiak Island, Alaska, working on her third thesis. She is the youngest of 7 children and her parents treat her as such, questioning all of her decisions and sheltering her as much as possible. A comical mishap with a scarf propel Lainey right into the lap of a very handsome and charming Rook on the plane. He then acts as a security teddy bear for her anxiety during a turbulent ride out to Kodiak Island. As fate would have it, Lainey’s broken-down, cobweb-filled rental cabin turns out to be only a few miles from Rook’s Alaskan vacation home – a mansion as far as I’m concerned. After a pulse pounding storm and a leaky roof bring poor Lainey back to the safety of Rook’s arms and home, he encourages her to move in with him for the duration of her stay.  Thus begins a 4 week long, blissful honeymoon-esque trip for Lainey and Rook. Everything is roses for the young researcher and hockey megastar, until a family emergency calls Rook back to Chicago very abruptly. Unfortunately, Lainey knows him as “RJ”, an alpaca farmer, and is therefore unable to find him once she returns home. After Rook leaves, a huge storm cuts the power to the cabin, leaving him unable to call Lainey and get her number so they can reconnect.

Flash forward to a year down the road, after both Lainey and Rook have sulked and reminisced over one another, fate intervenes again. Rook is attending a birthday party for a teammate’s son at the aquarium where Lainey is working. He would recognize her voice from anywhere and can’t believe his luck for a second chance. But , how can he tell Lainey who he really is, a famous, filthy-rich hockey superstar, without losing all of her trust and a chance for a future together. To liven things up a little more, Lainey has a lie of her own, and it’s a big one. You’ll have to read it and find out. I promise you won’t be disappointed. I loved this book and can’t wait for the next book in the series. Helena Hunting is skilled at hitting readers right in the feels, and for that I thank her. H squared will always be one of my favorites!

Thank you to Montlake Romance for providing me with an early copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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A Lie for a Lie, an all-new sexy second chance romance from New York Times bestselling author Helena Hunting is available now!

Download your copy today or read FREE in Kindle Unlimited!

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2KeBlqZ

Amazon Worldwide: http://mybook.to/ALieforLie

Amazon Paperback: https://amzn.to/2MTMWOC

Audio: https://amzn.to/2KM4CZF

Add to GoodReads: http://bit.ly/2MJpbIG

About Helena Hunting 

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of PUCKED, Helena Hunting lives on the outskirts of Toronto with her incredibly tolerant family and two moderately intolerant cats. She’s writes contemporary romance ranging from new adult angst to romantic sports comedy.

 Connect with Helena

Instagram: http://instagram.com/helenahunting Twitter: https://twitter.com/HelenaHunting
Facebook: http://on.fb.me/Zt1xm5
Facebook Fan group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/385795934890523/
Website: http://www.helenahunting.com/

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Blackberry & Wild Rose by Sonia Velton

9781538507759_1faedOriginally published in Library Journal, May 2019.

Velton’s intriguing historical fiction spotlights both the successes and hardships of Huguenot silk weavers in 18th century England. Young and alone, Sara Kemp, arrives in Spitalfields, London. She is soon swept away to the Wig and Feathers tavern by a forceful brothel proprietress, thus beginning a dangerous, dismal life of prostitution. Esther Thorel, the wife of one of the finest master silk weavers, offers Sara a position as lady’s maid and a fresh start away from her unsavory past. Esther, a painter, longs to design silks, but her husband Elias dismisses her talent while resenting her barrenness and inability to provide a son to teach his trade. Enter Bisby Lambert, an exquisitely talented journeyman commissioned by Elias to weave his masterpiece on the Thorel’s attic loom. As the weaving begins to take shape, the tumultuous Thorel household, full of secrets and longing, begins to unravel.  The story unfolds in alternating points of view between Sara and Esther, women of vastly different life circumstances who are both harboring secrets. VERDICT: Fans of Tracy Chevalier and Jennifer Chiaverini will be captivated by Blackberry & Wild Rose for its atmospheric, historically-rich drama and forbidden romance.