The Simple Wild by KA Tucker ~ Sarah A’s Review

Calla Fletcher wasn’t even two when her mother took her and fled the Alaskan wild, unable to handle the isolation of the extreme, rural lifestyle, leaving behind Calla’s father, Wren Fletcher, in the process. Calla never looked back, and at twenty-six, a busy life in Toronto is all she knows. But when Calla learns that Wren’s days may be numbered, she knows that it’s time to make the long trip back to the remote frontier town where she was born.

She braves the roaming wildlife, the odd daylight hours, the exorbitant prices, and even the occasional—dear God—outhouse, all for the chance to connect with her father: a man who, despite his many faults, she can’t help but care for. While she struggles to adjust to this rugged environment, Jonah—the unkempt, obnoxious, and proud Alaskan pilot who helps keep her father’s charter plane company operational—can’t imagine calling anywhere else home. And he’s clearly waiting with one hand on the throttle to fly this city girl back to where she belongs, convinced that she’s too pampered to handle the wild.

Jonah is probably right, but Calla is determined to prove him wrong. Soon, she finds herself forming an unexpected bond with the burly pilot. As his undercurrent of disapproval dwindles, it’s replaced by friendship—or perhaps something deeper? But Calla is not in Alaska to stay and Jonah will never leave. It would be foolish of her to kindle a romance, to take the same path her parents tried—and failed at—years ago. It’s a simple truth that turns out to be not so simple after all.

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The Simple Wild is billed as a romance novel, but I felt like the romance in this novel played second fiddle to the more powerful story of Calla finding herself and figuring out what was truly important to her in life. I’d definitely qualify this book as women’s fiction, rather than romance.

Calla was an insipid child when this book first started; I found her superficial, immature, and irresponsible. Despite living with her mother and step-father, having a good job for four years, and basically having no bills, she was still reliant on her step-father to buy her a plane ticket. She was more obsessed with her shoes and getting an insta-worthy photo than she was other human beings. In short, she was self-absorbed and materialistic. Throughout the novel Calla grew, so much, she learned more about herself, the world, and all different types of love than she could have anticipated when she decided to visit her father. Her growth arc in this book was everything. Calla, much like her Instagram posts, evolved from a thing of shallow frivolity to a person more concerned with substance, interpersonal connections, and true happiness.

As much as I didn’t feel like the romantic element of was the focal point of The Simple Wild, it did play a vital role in helping Calla grow. Jonah was instrumental in making her see the world as more than just the sum of its parts; he forced her to see the humanity behind the masses. He pushed her so far out of her comfort-zone she had no choice but to recalibrate her life and find a new outlook. And while he was doing all that, he was also helping her come to terms with the pending loss of the father she was barely getting to know. Her journey to Alaska was her catalyst to change, but Jonah was one of the major reactants that stimulated her rebirth.

I quite enjoyed the plot of The Simple Wild. It was intriguing and unlike anything I’ve read in recent memory; it was also wholly dependent on the location of the novel. Though I’ve never visited Alaska – it’s a bucket list item for me – I felt like I was there with Calla, Jonah, and the crew. I especially appreciated the juxtaposition of the well-dressed, appearance-obsessed, city girl against the simplicity and grittiness of the Alaskan tundra. In truth, Alaska was just as much a character in this book as the people were and it contributed in so many ways to move this book forward. The Simple Wild gave me a glimpse of a different, slower, simpler way of life and it felt almost like a balm to my soul to know there is still a world independent of the hustle and bustle of the instant gratification of the digital lives to which we are all so accustomed.

I’ve read a handful of KA Tucker books and always find them fascinating in ways I haven’t anticipated. I’m not sure how she’s so capable of taking a concept and turning it on its head, but she consistently makes me think I’m going into a particular type of story then, when I come out the other side, I find I have experienced something unexpected and entirely new. Her prose has a phenomenal way of drawing you in and holding you captive to her words with single-minded obsession; it’s as if nothing exists but the world she’s created. I’m in awe of Ms. Tucker’s story-telling skills and love that she continually writes fresh, captivating books that deliver more to her readers than just a simple story.

K.A. Tucker writes captivating stories with an edge.

She is the USA Today bestselling author of 17 books, including the Causal Enchantment, Ten Tiny Breaths and Burying Water series, He Will Be My Ruin, Until It Fades, Keep Her Safe, and her upcoming contemporary fiction, The Simple Wild. Her books have been featured in national publications including USA Today, Globe & Mail, Suspense Magazine, and Publisher’s Weekly.

K.A. Tucker currently resides in a quaint town outside of Toronto with her husband and two beautiful girls.

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Tell Me Lies by Carola Lovering

Lucy Albright is far from her Long Island upbringing when she arrives on the campus of her small California college, and happy to be hundreds of miles from her mother, whom she’s never forgiven for an act of betrayal in her early teen years. Quickly grasping at her fresh start, Lucy embraces college life and all it has to offer—new friends, wild parties, stimulating classes. And then she meets Stephen DeMarco. Charming. Attractive. Complicated. Devastating.

Confident and cocksure, Stephen sees something in Lucy that no one else has, and she’s quickly seduced by this vision of herself, and the sense of possibility that his attention brings her. Meanwhile, Stephen is determined to forget an incident buried in his past that, if exposed, could ruin him, and his single-minded drive for success extends to winning, and keeping, Lucy’s heart.

Lucy knows there’s something about Stephen that isn’t to be trusted. Stephen knows Lucy can’t tear herself away. And their addicting entanglement will have consequences they never could have imagined.

Alternating between Lucy’s and Stephen’s voices, TELL ME LIES follows their connection through college and post-college life in New York City. With the psychological insight and biting wit of Luckiest Girl Alive, and the yearning ambitions and desires of Sweetbitter, this keenly intelligent and staggeringly resonant novel chronicles the exhilaration and dilemmas of young adulthood, and the difficulty of letting go—even when you know you should.

Carola Lovering attended Colorado College, and her work has appeared in W Magazine, National Geographic, Outside, and Yoga Journal, among other publications. Tell Me Lies is her first novel. She currently lives in Brooklyn.

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The Elizas by Sara Shepard ~ Sarah A’s Review

When debut novelist Eliza Fontaine is found at the bottom of a hotel pool, her family at first assumes that it’s just another failed suicide attempt. But Eliza swears she was pushed, and her rescuer is the only witness.

Desperate to find out who attacked her, Eliza takes it upon herself to investigate. But as the publication date for her novel draws closer, Eliza finds more questions than answers. Like why are her editor, agent, and family mixing up events from her novel with events from her life? Her novel is completely fictional—isn’t it?

The deeper Eliza goes into her investigation while struggling with memory loss, the closer her life starts to resemble her novel, until the line between reality and fiction starts to blur and she can no longer tell where her protagonist’s life ends and hers begins…

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I often get caught in such a loop of romance novels I forget how much enjoy a true psychological thriller.  The Elizas was quite the mindfuck, and I’m still not sure what was real, what was fiction (within fiction), and what was completely imagined.  I’m certain this is one book I will be thinking about for some time.

The Elizas is a standalone novel.  This is a psychological thriller with minimal romance, for those of you who are used to me reviewing romances.  The Elizas is written in two different styles, Eliza’a narration is in first-person perspective, and her novel, The Dots, is written in third-person limited perspective.

I loved how this novel was delivered, the book within a book format, and reading the book Eliza is about to have published as we are getting her story.  The play back and forth between Eliza and Dot was fascinating.  Sarah Shepard did a sublime job of building up two different plots in order to tell the incredibly riveting story of a fickle girl.

The story within a story aspect of this book was ingenious.  I found myself completely caught up in both stories so much; it eventually became difficult – for Eliza and me – to delineate where she stopped, and Dot started.  Between the fluidity between Dot and Eliza, Dot’s aunt Dorothy and Stella, and the shadowy figure Eliza continually glimpses, the security of self and the identity of those we think we know was constantly changing and in question.  It was enthralling.

By the time I finished the novel, there wasn’t a single person I hadn’t questioned the intentions of.  The characters, no matter the time they spent on the page, were highly developed and unique.  It seemed as if each and every one of them was hiding things.  From Eliza, from each other, from the reader.  Such is the intention of an unreliable narrator, and Ms. Shepard gave us a great one in Eliza.

Sara Shepard’s Pretty Little Liars series fascinated me, and I was ecstatic to get the chance to check out her foray into adult fiction.  She delivered a multi-faceted and engaging story, full of fascinating characters with dubious intentions.  I was wholly invested in figuring out the intricacies of Eliza’s world and was left reeling by the time the novel finished.  Ms. Shepard is truly a fantastic author with an incredible knack for weaving a quirky, intense, psychological thriller.

Sara Shepard is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Pretty Little Liars series. She has also written other Young Adult series and novels, including The Lying GameThe Heiresses, and The Perfectionists. Sara now lives in Pittsburgh with her family.

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Blog Tour and Review-Up in Flames by Abbi Glines

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UP IN FLAMES

A Rosemary Beach Novel

ABBI GLINES

 #1 New York Times bestselling author Abbi Glines returns to Rosemary Beach one last time in this highly-anticipated finale and much beloved series.

 Spoiled. Selfish. Rich girl. Villan. Slut.

As the Prada-clad bad girl of Rosemary Beach, Nan Dillon has been called every vile name under the hot summer sun. Some of her reputation is deserved—she’s never had to worry about anything but maintaining her perfect figure and splitting Daddy’s private jet with her brother, Rush.
But Nan is far from happy. Rush has another kid on the way and doesn’t have time to catch up with his sister. Grant, the last guy she truly cared about, chose to be with her half-sister, Harlow, instead of her. And Harlow, who has never gotten over the way Nan treated her when she first moved to town, remains distant.
So when Major asks her out, she jumps at the chance to date the gorgeous charmer. Though she doesn’t know much about the sweet-talking Texan, and though it’s clear he doesn’t want to be exclusive, dating him beats hanging out with vapid socialites or watching Netflix alone at home.
For a while, Nan deals with Major’s playboy ways, but after he burns her one too many times, she takes off for an impromptu wild weekend in Vegas. There, she meets Gannon, a darkly seductive and oh-so-dangerous businessman who knows exactly how to handle her.
With Major asking for a second chance and Gannon haunting her dreams, Nan has to decide who to give her heart to. But what she doesn’t realize is that these players are involved in a much bigger game—and they’re already two moves ahead of her.

ALP SarahLReview Owl

I have really enjoyed the Rosemary Beach series by Abbi Glines and am very sad that it has come to an end. I was very excited to have received an ARC of this book. I have been a #NanHater from the very first book and I was curious to see if Abbi could get me to change my mind about her.

Nan has always been the villain in this series and I was really hoping that she would redeem herself. If you have read the series, you know that she has never really felt loved and I was hoping she would finally find her HEA. Nan and Major were a mess from the very beginning and I never really felt a connection between them. He didn’t treat her very well and all she wanted was to feel loved and appreciated. When Gannon entered the story I was really hoping that there would be a deep connection between them but aside from a few dates most of their interaction took place in the bedroom. The best part of this story was seeing Blair and Nan getting along better and watching Nan interact with her nephew Nate. I was happy that Nan finally did end up finding her place in this world. Abbi didn’t turn me into a #NanLover but I am happy that she finally found love and happiness.

I really enjoyed this book even though I didn’t connect with the male main characters. I did love the twists and turns this story took. I was happy with the way Nan’s life turned out and loved seeing the way she interacted with Nate. Even though she comes across as an evil witch most of the time it was nice to see that she really does have a big heart. I can’t wait to see what Abbi is working on next!!

**3.5 Stars**

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ABOUT ABBI GLINES:

Abbi Glines is the New York Times, USA TODAY, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of the Rosemary Beach, Field Party, Sea Breeze, Vincent Boys, and Existence series. A devoted book lover, Abbi lives with her family in Alabama. She maintains a Twitter addiction at @AbbiGlines and can also be found at Facebook.com/AbbiGlinesAuthor and AbbiGlines.com.

 

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UP IN FLAMES by Abbi Glines

Atria Books | 256 pages | ISBN: 9781501115394, $15.00 | June 28, 2016 | eBook ISBN: 9781501115400, $7.99

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Spotlight Review-Unteachable by Leah Raeder

“Complicated dynamics, forbidden sexual tension, and untamed passion. Easily one of my favorite reads.” –Gail McHugh, New York Times bestselling author

“Lyrical, vivid, and poignant, Unteachable is one of the best forbidden romances I’ve ever read,”

— Lauren Blakely, New York Times bestselling author

unteachable

UNTEACHABLE by Leah Raeder

Paperback | On sale: 10/14/14 | ISBN: 9781476786407 | 320 pages | $15.00 eBook | ISBN: 9781476786414

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BY LEAH RAEDER

An edgy, sexy USA TODAY bestseller about falling for the one person you can’t have.

Maise O’Malley just turned eighteen, but she’s felt like a grown-up her entire life. The summer before senior year, she has plans: get into a great film school, convince her mom to go into rehab, and absolutely do not, under any circumstances, screw up her own future.

But life has a way of throwing her plans into free-fall.
When Maise meets Evan at a carnival one night, their chemistry is immediate, intense, and short-lived. Which is exactly how she likes it: no strings. But afterward, she can’t get Evan out of her head. He’s taught her that a hookup can be something more. It can be an unexpected connection with someone who truly understands her. Someone who sees beyond her bravado to the scared but strong girl inside.
That someone turns out to be her new film class teacher, Mr. Evan Wilke.
Maise and Evan resolve to keep their hands off each other, but the attraction is too much to bear. Together, they’re real and genuine; apart, they’re just actors playing their parts for everyone else. And their masks are slipping. People start to notice. Rumors fly. When the truth comes to light in a shocking way, they may learn they were just playing parts for each other, too.
Smart, sexy, and provocative, Unteachable is about what happens when a love story goes off-script.

Sarah’s 4 Star Review

Unteachable by Leah Raeder  is a not just a story about a student/teacher relationship. It also focuses on some very difficult issues such as drug abuse, neglect, and sexual abuse. This book took me on a very emotional roller-coaster.

Maise O’Malley is an 18 year old high school student who has pretty much taken care of herself her entire life. She grew up with a drug addicted mother and a non-existent father. Although she is not a drug addict like her mother she has her own addiction which is sleeping with older men. She never sticks with them for very long though, usually just long enough to dull the pain of never being loved by her own father.
“Thanks, Dad, for leaving a huge void in my life that Freud says has to be filled with d*ck.”
At the end of the summer before her senior year Maise goes to the community fair and there she meets an older man on the roller-coaster. Things heat up very quickly between these two strangers and in true Maise style she leaves the situation as quickly as she can. The separation doesn’t last long as Maise soon finds out that the stranger is her film class teacher.
Evan Wilkes can’t believe his eyes when the girl that took off on him at the fair is one his students. He tries to ignore Masie but the attraction between them is so strong that he finds it almost impossible. They both fear that Evan could lose his job if they continue their affair but find it difficult to deny the feelings that have for each other.
“There are moments, when you’re getting to know someone, when you realize something deep and buried in you is deep and buried in them, too. It feels like meeting a stranger you’ve known your whole life.”
Maise’s friend Wesley is also in love with her and she struggles with keeping her relationship with Evan a secret from him. She loves the time she spends with Wesley and his mom and doesn’t want to ruin their friendship by telling him about Evan. Wesley is a smart guy though and knows that Maise is hiding something from him. When the truth comes out with she choose to stay with Evan or decide that her friendship with Wesley is more important to her?
I really enjoyed Ms. Raeder’s writing style and the depth this story had. I loved the connection between all the characters. They all played such an important role in this story. The one thing I didn’t like was how abruptly the story ended. I was hoping for a look into the future of these characters lives. I definitely look forward to reading more from Ms. Raeder.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Leah Raeder is a writer and unabashed nerd. Aside from reading her brains out, she enjoys graphic design, video games, fine whiskey, and the art of self-deprecation. She lives with her very own manic pixie dream boy in Chicago.

Find Leah online: WebsiteFacebook | Twitter

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