Wednesday, December 17

Buddy Review: Whatever Life Throws at You

**After taking a bit of a break, Rowena and I have decided to catch up on our monthly reviews. So this here is September's review. You can blame me for the delay since my reviewing muse up and left me this year. I think she's making overtures about coming back, but we'll see. **

Whatever Life Throws At You by Julie Cross
published by Entangled Teen
Life loves a good curveball...

Seventeen-year-old Annie Lucas's life is completely upended the moment her dad returns to the major leagues as the new pitching coach for the Kansas City Royals. Now she's living in Missouri (too cold), attending an all-girls school (no boys), and navigating the strange world of professional sports. But Annie has dreams of her own—most of which involve placing first at every track meet…and one starring the Royals' super-hot rookie pitcher.

But nineteen-year-old Jason Brody is completely, utterly, and totally off-limits. Besides, her dad would kill them both several times over. Not to mention Brody has something of a past, and his fan club is filled with C-cupped models, not smart-mouthed high school “brats” who can run the pants off every player on the team. Annie has enough on her plate without taking their friendship to the next level. The last thing she should be doing is falling in love.

But baseball isn't just a game. It's life. And sometimes, it can break your heart...
Genre: New Adult
Series: n/a

Ames: All right Wena, what did you think of Whatever Life Throws at You?

Personally, I really enjoyed it! I was wondering how Julie Cross was going to manage a teenage heroine falling for a baseball player but I thought she did a really good job of the age thing and explaining how Annie and Jason got to know each other and develop a relationship. It was sweet.

Wena: Me too!

I was curious to see if I'd like this because I HATE the older person and younger person story line but I thought Cross did a great job of showcasing Jason's struggle with his feelings for Annie. I loved that she didn't breeze over the fact that she was a minor and make it out to "not be a big deal". I also thought that their story is a real story. It happens more than we think and it was nice to have an author pay attention to the little details of Jason and Annie's relationship. The little things that brought them together because I may hate older guys who date minor girls but I was rooting for Jason and Annie throughout the entire book.

Ames: I agree, I liked that Cross didn't gloss over their age difference. It created some good conflict too. Especially when one person wants to take their relationship public and the other doesn't.

There was so much else to like about this book besides the main characters. I loved Annie's dad and that he had a physical handicap. And the team's PR person...what was her name? And even the characters I didn't care for, they were well drawn and fleshed out. You know who I'm talking about, the owner, Annie's friend's dad. Jerks.

Rowena: I know exactly who you mean. I can't stand parents that let their kids get away with stupid shit and try to buy their way out of things. Discipline your kids and they won't go about town acting a damn fool. Ugh. The owner was a POS too. I didn't like him at all. But you're right...they were well written characters. Fleshed out and not one dimensional at all.

Crap, what the heck was the PR lady's name? That's going to bother me because I really liked her. I thought she was a good fit into Annie's life. Well, both Annie and Jason.

Cross did a great job of writing all of those different relationships. This review is probably going to be boring because I can't remember if there was anything that I didn't like. Hmm, let me think on it.

Ames: LOL I know what you mean. Even Annie showing her age, sometimes acting immature, didn't bother me because Cross did such a good job describing her character. What makes this book so good for me was how the relationship developed between Annie and Jason. Like their first meeting? When she pretended to interview him? And their texting and even how they were there for each other during the tornado. All the other good stuff was gravy to their main dish.

I also liked that Annie was an athlete in her own way. Yeah Jason was a baseball player, but she was a serious athlete too and I loved how they ran together. So good.

Rowena: Oh yeah. When he showed up at her first meet and tried to be all undercover about it, I was grinning like a madwoman. It was so freaking cute.

I really liked seeing Jason and Annie come together. From their first meeting (that interview was pretty awesome) and all of the other meetings in between, you saw their relationship grow. It wasn't one of those love at first sight things. They struggled with their feelings, with each other and trying to find middle ground with each other and I loved reading about it all. Like Brenna would say, their struggle was real. LOL.

I also liked that the Dad had a handicap and I also liked that it wasn't shoved in our faces and forced into the storyline. It was just one more element to the story that just felt real. This was one of those real life, real problems kind of stories and I completely loved it. Why in the world have I not read anything by this author before? I'm trippin'.

Ames: Ok, for some odd reason I thought you did read this author before? If you haven't, then you definitely need to. She does the athlete heroine well. She has a series about a gymnast and another one with a young genius doctor who's forced to go back to college. She's really good!

Rowena: Nope, this was my first Julie Cross book though I think that I have read a short story of hers in one of those anthologies but looking back, it didn't really stick out to me. But this book? Yeah, I won't be forgetting these characters any time soon. Adored them!

I'd give this book an A. You?

Ames: You definitely need to check out her other contemporary books. I can't say anything about her paranormal series.

I'm giving this one a B+. I highly recommend it.

**Ok stay tuned for three more reviews! Hopefully we can get them done...oh shoot! I was going to say hopefully we can get them done by the end of the year but that's so soon!! Christmas is right around the corner!! How did that happen?!**

Monday, December 1

New Releases - December 2014

OMG, we're coming in the last stretch of the year!! Can't believe it's already December! Where did November go?!? Where did 2014 go?!?

Well it seems that this year, the publishers were looking out for us. They wanted to make sure that we have enough money for the holidays... because there are so few releases. You thought the November list was a short one? December is even shorter ^_^;

Here is what we're looking forward to. Please, please, please, let us know if we missed something! Because I'm pretty sure I'm going to go in withdrawal this month...

December 01

Hell on Wheels by Z.A. Maxfield
published by Riptide Publishing
Nash is the reliable one in the Holly family, the guy everyone counts on to keep things going. His genius twin brother is off at university, so Nash runs the family’s auto repair business and cares for his partially-paralyzed little sister while his crackpot father invents. His life seems mapped out for the foreseeable future, however much that might chafe.

So when Wolf’s Landing actor Spencer Kepler-Constantine lands in his life, Nash is ready for a diversion. Spencer is in the middle of a very painful, very public divorce and isn’t ready for a relationship—not that Nash wants one. But they both need a friend, especially one with benefits.

As they grow closer, Nash starts to see his family in a whole new light. Do they really need him so badly? Or does he simply need to be needed? Then Spencer’s ex reappears with a grand romantic gesture, and Nash has to figure out what he wants—and how to get it—before Spencer’s gone for good.
Genre: m/m, Contemporary
Series: Bluewater Bay, Book #3

Ames: I love ZA Maxfield's writing so I'm really looking forward to this one.

December 02

Wickedly Wonderful by Deborah Blake
published by Berkley
Known as the wicked witch of Russian fairy tales, Baba Yaga is not one woman, but rather a title carried by a chosen few. They keep the balance of nature and guard the borders of our world, but don’t make the mistake of crossing one of them…

Though she looks like a typical California surfer girl, Beka Yancy is in fact a powerful yet inexperienced witch who’s struggling with her duties as a Baba Yaga. Luckily she has her faithful dragon-turned-dog for moral support, especially when faced with her biggest job yet…

A mysterious toxin is driving the Selkie and Mer from their homes deep in the trenches of Monterey Bay. To investigate, Beka buys her way onto the boat of Marcus Dermott, a battle-scarred former U.S. Marine, and his ailing fisherman father.

While diving for clues, Beka drives Marcus crazy with her flaky New Age ideas and dazzling blue eyes. She thinks he’s rigid and cranky (and way too attractive). Meanwhile, a charming Selkie prince has plans that include Beka. Only by trusting her powers can Beka save the underwater races, pick the right man, and choose the path she’ll follow for the rest of her life…
Genre: Paranormal romance
Series: Baba Yaga, Book #2

Nath: I've been enjoying this series so far. I liked the concept of Baba Yaga. It'll be interesting to read Beka's story :)

Razed by Shiloh Walker
published by Berkley
Tattoo artist Keelie Jessup can handle that someone else has claimed the man of her dreams. She’s just not pleased with her remaining options…

Keelie doesn’t believe in the “perfect man.” But the men who are worth the trouble are usually taken—like her business partner Zach Barnes. After a string of bad luck and the lost chance with Zach, Keelie decides that maybe flying solo—and living with suppressed desires—is the key to happiness.

As a photographer, Zane Barnes has an eye for the human form, and his eyes can’t get enough of Keelie’s curves. Unfortunately, Keelie is like most women—always fawning over his little brother, Zach. Zane is about ready to give up, but then a few stolen moments at his brother’s wedding have him thinking maybe there’s a chance there after all. Now he just has to prove that the perfect man does exist…for her.
Genre: Contemporary romance
Series: Barnes Brothers, Book #2

Ames: I read Wrecked last year and really enjoyed it. I'm so glad that we're getting more. Keelie wasn't my favourite character in Wrecked but I liked Zane so I can't wait to see how Shiloh Walker gets me to like Keelie. LOL

Nath: It's nice to see that Wrecked is getting a sequel. I'll probably be picking this one up.

The Good Chase by Hannah Martine
published by Berkley
Gleann, New Hampshire’s annual highland games always deliver the best of Scottish culture—rowdiness, rugby, whiskey, and unexpected romance…

Even though Shea Montgomery’s swanky bar and distinguished palate have made her a highly regarded whiskey connoisseur, she’s happiest bringing her favorite spirit to various highland games around New England. Her demanding ex made her wary of men obsessed with money and status, and she’s now more comfortable in the country than in the city. Still, when a gorgeous rugby player straight from Wall Street barrels into her whiskey tent, she’s tempted to change her mind…

J.P. Byrne went from poor beginnings to international high roller by using his charisma and wit, and holding fast to his dreams. A strong, independent woman like Shea is exactly what he’s looking for, only he has no idea how to prove he’s more than his three-piece suits—especially when he’s spent years doing just the opposite.

But as Shea and Byrne battle old demons, they discover together that the best remedy for past pain is a good, stiff shot of present pleasure…
Genre: Contemporary romance
Series: Highland Games, Book #2

Nath: Ms Martine is an author I've been wanting to try. This one sounds interesting. I need to find out what highland games are... Seems so many books are about it!

The Winner Takes All by Jennifer Dawson
published by Kensington (Zebra)
For two stubborn people…

Corporate mogul Shane Donovan sees the ultra-cool, collected Cecilia Riley as an ice queen—even if he can't deny that, on the surface, she's a work of perfection his body can't ignore. Forced to spend two weeks in the same house for his sister's upcoming wedding, Shane senses that deep down Cecilia mirrors his need. And he's determined to draw her into a sexy game that will melt away her reserve…

Losing is not an option…

Career-driven Cecilia Riley has just enough free time in her schedule to head out of town for her brother's wedding. But her agenda is thrown for a loop by the presence of Shane. Though his over-confident attitude leaves a lot to be desired, his insanely hot body has kept Cecilia up nights. Unsure what game Shane is playing, Cecilia takes the bait, bent on resisting him at all costs.

But as Shane and Cecilia discover, temptation follows no rules…
Genre: Contemporary romance
Series: Something New, Book #2

Nath: I liked the cover... For some reason, the female model makes me think of the 1920s LOL. But it's not. Anyway, the blurb had me at 'corporate mogul.' Yes, I'm still nostalgic.

December 16

Running Hot by HelenKay Dimon
published by Harpercollins Publisher (Avon Impulse)
Camped out at a resort bar in Fiji, CIA operative Ward Bennett may look like he's on vacation but he's really deep undercover, hunting a dictator on the run. Ward may be on the job, but that doesn't mean there isn't time for the sexy female bartender. That is, until she drugs him.

When Tasha Gregory discovers the hottie on the barstool isn't who he pretends to be, her MI6 training kicks into gear, and she has no choice but to take him out. Problem is, Ward's not an easy man to put down for long. More than once, his interference almost blows her surveillance operation—and her ability to keep her heart to herself.

As the situation heats up, these two must decide whether they can trust one another—and quick. Working together might just make everyone safer, but getting close enough for comfort … might just get them killed.
Genre: RS
Series: Bad Boys Undercover, Book #00.5

Ames: I like the sounds of this one. I like Dimon's writing and I really enjoyed the last few books I've read by her. I like female spies/assassins and the fact that it sounds like Tasha can dish it out as well as Ward? That makes me intrigued.

Nath: Whew, seems like Ms Dimon is having a really busy year :) I'll give this one a chance since it's a prelude ;)

December 30

A Deadly Web by Kay Hooper
published by Jove
John Brodie is a Guardian, a member of a secret network devoted to protecting the psychics in his charge from a ruthless—and virtually invisible—enemy.

Tasha Solomon is unaware of the Guardians’ existence—until the night the gifted psychic suffers a shocking and violent attack and Brodie saves her life.

Tough and resilient, Tasha isn’t used to depending on anyone. But the assault has left her vulnerable. Tasha doesn’t know who wants her dead, or why, or when he will strike again. Now, she is forced to trust that Brodie can guide her through a tangled web of danger and deception toward a safe harbor—one she fears is more elusive with each dark and endless night.
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Series: The Bishop Files, Book #2

Nath: Kay Hooper is one of my favorite author so this is an auto-buy. Love the cover and I'm looking forward to it :) I hope though it's a bit more straightforward than The First Prophet.

You're So Fine by Kieran Kramer
published by St. Martin's Press
Lacey moved to Hollywood to make it big. What she got was an actor boyfriend who fathered a child with a woman who abandoned the baby. Lacy breaks up with the cheating boyfriend, but not before she adopts the baby, Henry, because his father has no interest in him.

Lacey takes a job assisting an actress, Monica, and gets another actor boyfriend who is set to work on a movie in South Carolina with Monica. Then her boss and boyfriend run off to Italy. Left with a new resolve to never date another actor, she moves into the South Carolina lighthouse she had rented for Monica.

However, her ex-boyfriend has sublet the lighthouse to an actor. They agree to share, and while Beau seems like everything Lacey has vowed to avoid, he may be just what she and Henry need…
Genre: Contemporary romance
Series: None

Ames: Awwww, this one sounds cute. Even the baby isn't putting me off. LOL

Nath: LOL, the cover just pulled me in :)

Say Yes to the Marquess by Tessa Dare
published by Harpercollins Publisher (Avon)
Your presence is requested at romantic Twill Castle for the wedding of Miss Clio Whitmore and... and...?

After eight years of waiting for Piers Brandon, the wandering Marquess of Granville, to set a wedding date, Clio Whitmore has had enough. She's inherited a castle, scraped together some pride, and made plans to break her engagement.

Not if Rafe Brandon can help it. A ruthless prizefighter and notorious rake, Rafe is determined that Clio will marry his brother—even if he has to plan the dratted wedding himself.

So how does a hardened fighter cure a reluctant bride's cold feet?

● He starts with flowers. A wedding can't have too many flowers. Or harps. Or cakes.
● He lets her know she'll make a beautiful, desirable bride—and tries not to picture her as his.
● He doesn't kiss her.
● If he kisses her, he definitely doesn't kiss her again.
● When all else fails, he puts her in a stunning gown. And vows not to be nearby when the gown comes off.
● And no matter what—he doesn't fall in disastrous, hopeless love with the one woman he can never call his own.
Genre: Historical romance
Series: Castles Ever After, Book #2

Ames: I still need to read Romancing the Duke but I'll still get this one. I need to have it on hand for when I do read RtD. LOL

Nath: I haven't been in the mood for historical romances this year... However, Ms Dare is always on my radar :)

Variables of Love by M.K. Schiller
published by Ominific Publishing
Meena Kapoor knows what life has in store for her. She’s in her senior year at Stanford where she’ll graduate summa cum laude, and then she'll begin her interviews…her marriage interviews. Meena is Indian, and she’s never questioned that she’ll have an arranged marriage like all the generations before her. Not until she meets gorgeous math major Ethan Callahan. Ethan’s sense of humor and free spirit stir feelings in Meena she didn’t know were possible outside of Bollywood movies. It doesn’t hurt that he’s charming and has the uncanny ability to make math sound like poetry, but Meena knows their equation makes no sense in the real world.

Ethan finds himself intrigued by the mysterious, beautiful girl, whose big, brown eyes reflect great pain. His goals are small at first—to make her smile and then to laugh. But he soon wants more, and though Meena is adamant they have no future, he convinces her to share the present. Ethan believes every problem has a solution, but with cultural expectations and family duty among the variables, they will struggle to solve the ultimate equation to find happiness.
Genre: Contemporary romance
Series: None

Ames: I've been buying anything that hints at geeky characters and Ethan sounds like one for sure. I also like that Meena is a woman of color. I've seen some positive reviews for Schiller's other books (average rating for books on GR is around 4) so I'm looking forward to this one.

Nath: Interesting one. I like geeky characters too!

December 31

Bounty Hunt by Kelley Armstrong
published by Subterranean Press
After the Australian Pack murdered Reese William’s parents, the young werewolf fled and took refuge with the American Pack. Three years later, the Australians have tracked him down and dispatched a bounty hunter to bring him back. That bounty hunter, though, isn’t the lone wolf who owes them a debt, but his twenty-one-year-old daughter, Madison. Maddie is determined to bring in the rogue Reese for her ailing father. Now Reese has to show her the truth behind her client's lies…and avoid being the cause of an all-out war for Elena and the rest of the American Pack.
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Otherworld Stories, Book #13.2

Nath: Fair warning, Bounty Hunt is a graphic novel. Not usually my genre, but it's Ms Armstrong. Plus, Reese is one character I've been wanting to know more about :)