Review Tour ~ Figure Eight by Calia Read ~ Sarah A’s Review

figure-eightDear Selah,

Do you remember me?

Of course you don’t. So I’m going to give you a refresher course.

I’ve known you for years and years. We used to have beautiful conversations. There was no one that knew you better than me. We were handmade for each other.

Lately, it’s become achingly obvious you’re miserable. You’ve moved back home to take care of your ailing mother. You’ve been looking for a new job, but that’s not going well. Admit it: it’s all too much.

Everyone around you sees your suffering, but they’re not willing to help you.

Everyone but Jackson.

He comes into your life at the perfect moment and offers you everything you could want: a shoulder to lean on, love, and most importantly, hope.

But there’s no one that can compare to me. You seem to forget that I’m your figure 8. Your infinity. You try to run, but I will always find you.

Yours Truly,
Figure 8

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I’m reeling from this book.  Just circling back and back and back trying to figure out when was the first time I had an inkling of what was going on and I find myself feeling a lot like Selah; I think I knew the whole time but I didn’t want to acknowledge it.  There were times I wasn’t sure if the book was full of tiny, almost imperceptible, errors or if I was crazy or if it was intentional and made to make me feel crazy.  Honestly, I’m still not sure; though, I suspect the latter.

This is a book that has so many layers, so many facets and secrets, telling any one of them would destroy the experience that is Figure Eight.  There are so many beautiful things that happen in this book, so many things I desire to dissect and tell you about in great detail, but to do so would ruin the sublime magic that Calia Read wove with this story.  More so than almost any other book I’ve read, Figure Eight must be read with no foresight as to what is going to happen; the experience of being Selah, of living what she lived in these pages is important and intense.

Calia Read constantly amazes me with her words, the way she constructs each sentence to draw you in and then makes you question every second of the words you’ve read is unique and wildly impressive.  I am in love with her writing and the important stories she tells.  Her stories are consistently among the most wonderfully written and compelling books I’ve read.  I always find myself wanting more story, while simultaneously being totally satisfied that the story is complete and left exactly where it should be.  It’s not an easy balance to strike, but Ms. Read is near perfection in finding that balance in all of her books.

I have discovered that from a distance it is incredibly easy to read people. In the shadows, people don’t notice you. They let their guard down. Let you into their life without even knowing it. After a while their movements become predictable and you start to feel more intimate with them. You know when they’re irritable or sad. Happy or anxious. And while they keep desperately seeking a cure- all for their afflictions, you stand there in shadows, knowing what they need. My last gift was what you needed. But you barely noticed. You were too busy with your despair.

Ah, despair, despair, despair. Too many people get caught in that bitch’s web. And the sad truth is that they never find their way out. They never find their figure eight.

They never find me.

Yet the truth of the matter is that you didn’t find me. You got lucky and had the tables turned.

You may not see me yet. But you will.

Something as big as me takes time to acclimate to. Until then I’m going to give you another present. This one you’re going to take notice of. It is truly something.

I’m actually quite proud of myself with this one. It’s so good that I’m going to let you think that fate, kismet or whatever bull shit you call it, was responsible for it. Besides, I have a million more gifts just waiting for you, that I can take credit for.

Each one is bigger and better than the last.

You’ll see.

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13319891_838523882920080_9005192063279712585_nCalia Read is the author of Unhinge, Unravel, Breaking the Wrong, Ruin You Completely, and Every Which Way. She lives in Texas with her husband and their five children.

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GIVEAWAY & Review Tour ~ Saying Goodbye pts 1&2 by Abigail Drake

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sg1Synopsis part 1:
Samantha Barnes always dreamed of seeing the world and only has a few months left before she starts a semester abroad in Japan. Enough time to say goodbye to her friends, polish up her language skills, and maybe even squeeze in a quick fling with handsome fraternity boy Dylan Hunter.

All she wants from Dylan is something casual, and perhaps some mind-blowing sex, but things don’t work out as planned. Dylan wants a lot more from her than a hook-up. Before Sam realizes what’s happening, their relationship has become serious, something she never intended. And then she discovers Dylan is hiding a dark secret that makes breaking up with him nearly impossible.

Sam is running out of time. She has to leave soon. She has no choice. But leaving Dylan could mean more than just the end of their relationship. It could also mean destroying him completely.

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sg2Synopsis part 2:
What if you meet the right person…at absolutely the wrong time?

When Samantha Barnes starts her semester abroad in Japan, she brings along a heavy load of emotional baggage. With her ex-boyfriend in the midst of a mental health crisis back home, she’d been forced to make some difficult choices, choices that now fill her with guilt and remorse. She also made promises to him she isn’t sure she can keep, especially when she meets Thomas MacGregor, an irresistibly charming Scottish rugby player. Thomas is studying at the same university as Samantha, and, although she tries to fight it, she begins to fall for him. Hard.

Life in Kyoto is everything Samantha could imagine, but, when tragedy strikes, it sends her on a downward spiral into darkness. Will she be able to come to terms with what happened, and have a future with Thomas, or will she forever be plagued by regret?

Forgiveness is a tricky thing, especially when the person you need to forgive most is yourself.

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Saying Goodbye was my first Abigail Drake book and I was pleasantly surprised by her unique writing style and fresh story lines.  In a genre where books often have very similar structure and themes, this book stood out as something uncommon.

Saying Goodbye, particularly part one, was full of very heavy subject matter.  The book was rife with taboo subjects and how people react to those situations with which they aren’t comfortable.  I was quite impressed by how tastefully it was done.  Each scene and every moment was carefully constructed to demonstrate how every single thing that happens affects a person.  They also served to show how a person’s temperament can make those experiences have completely different outcomes.

Abigail Drake incorporated several cultures and languages into Saying Goodbye in a way that felt very natural.  I am in no way educated in any of the cultured or languages she used, but it seemed very true to what they were.  I loved that each part was set in a different place, it made it much easier to keep the storylines separate while I was reading.  I fell in love with the glimpses into worlds I’ll likely never experience, that she included in the story.  The way she used the cultural references to help the characters grow and used languages to bring them closer together were so fresh and unique, it was something I relished experiencing.

3.5 Feathers
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abigailAbigail Drake has spent her life traveling the world and collecting stories wherever she visited. She majored in Japanese and International Economics in college and worked in import/export and as an ESL teacher before she committed herself full time to writing. She writes in several romance genres, and her books are quirky, light, fun, and sexy. Abigail is a trekkie, a book hoarder, the master of the Nespresso machine, a red wine addict, and the mother of three boys (probably the main reason for her red wine addiction). A puppy named Capone is the most recent addition to her family, and she blogs about him as a way of maintaining what little sanity she has left.

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GIVEAWAY & Review Tour ~ The Tattered Gloves by JL Berg

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ttg-amazonHead down.
Don’t look up.
Never make eye contact.

Those were the words I lived by growing up, the words that protected me in an unsafe home. But words are only letters and eventually even they couldn’t keep his hands off me.

Hoping to leave behind the shattered life of my past, I find myself in a boring, small town, with an aunt I’ve never met and at a school I loathe.

But soon I learn, not everything in this world is as black and white as I’ve determined. Sometimes those we are so quick to judge often need a second, third or even fourth time to make a first impression.

And often, there are friendships and even love waiting just around the corner, if we are brave enough to take the first step.

Am I brave? Or will I hide behind these tattered gloves of mine forever?

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The Tattered Gloves had the potential to be a truly powerful and moving piece about the horrors that can befall a child in a home where there is little care for their well-being.  It could have been an inspiring message of hope and healing but it fell short of that, for me.

I am a big fan of the journey characters take within a book and if their growth and story arc is healing, the ending doesn’t necessarily have to be happily ever after, it just needs to be the thing that is best for the characters.  I didn’t quite get that from this book.  Everything ended up tied up in a nice little bow and I just didn’t quite feel like it was a realistic ending for the characters involved.  At about 2/3 of the way through the book, I had an inclination this was going to be the case, as there just wasn’t enough book left to properly resolve all of the things that were going on with the characters.  There was also a point where it where the aunt alluded to going through something similar to what Willow had and that ball was totally dropped in favor of a much less horrific back story.

It is because of the expectations I formed while reading this book that I was left wanting.  There was just so much potential to tell such an important story, a story bigger than a girl falling in love with a boy, and I wanted THAT story.  The story The Tattered Gloved ended up being was a lovely story, it held an important message and told of the dangers of judging people without getting to know them first.  It demonstrated, wonderfully, the differences of living in a home filled with love and acceptance to one filled with indifference and distrust.  While I had thought, this was going to be a gritty story about the worst things that can happen to a person with a dash of love and romance thrown in, it was actually more about the different types of love a person can experience and how important each of them are, with a dash of how the residual effects of past trauma color those relationships.

Letting The Tattered Gloves stand on its own, leaving all of my expectations and hopes for the story aside, it was a very touching story.  The relationships between each of the characters was wholly unique and beautiful.  I came to love each of them, for different reasons, and the all brought their own messages about love and life to the book.  It was well-written and help my attention, the words made me care deeply for the characters and their futures, the plot, while not as fleshed-out as I’d have preferred, was riveting.  For a person looking to dip their toe into deeper subject matter without going headlong into the darkest reaches of those subjects, this is an amazing place to start.

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J.L. Berg is the USA Today bestselling author of the Ready Series, The Walls Duet, and the Lost & Found Duet. She is a California native living in the beautiful state of historic Virginia. Married to her high school sweetheart, they have two beautiful girls that drive them batty on a daily basis. When she’s not writing, you will find her with her nose stuck in a romance novel, in a yoga studio or devouring anything chocolate. J.L. Berg is represented by Jill Marsal of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency, LLC.

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Review Blitz ~ Egomaniac by Vi Keeland

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00072]The night I met Drew Jagger, he’d just broken into my new Park Avenue office.

I dialed 9-1-1 before proceeding to attack him with my fancy new Krav Maga skills.

He quickly restrained me, then chuckled, finding my attempted assault amusing.

 

Of course, my intruder had to be arrogant.

Only, turned out, he wasn’t an intruder at all.

 

Drew was the rightful occupant of my new office.  He’d been on vacation while his posh space was renovated.

Which was how a scammer got away with leasing me office space that wasn’t really available for rent.

I was swindled out of ten grand.

 

The next day, after hours at the police station, Drew took pity on me and made me an offer I couldn’t refuse.  In exchange for answering his phones while his secretary was out, he’d let me stay until I found a new place.

I probably should have acted grateful and kept my mouth shut when I overheard the advice he was spewing to his clients.  But I couldn’t help giving him a piece of my mind.

I never expected my body to react every time we argued.  Especially when that was all we seemed to be able to do.

 

The two of us were complete opposites. Drew was a bitter, angry, gorgeous-as-all-hell, destroyer of relationships.  And my job was to help people save their marriages.

The only thing the two of us had in common was the space we were sharing.

And an attraction that was getting harder to deny by the day.

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I would like to start this review by expressing my regret for having never picked up a VI Keeland book before.  I now realize my mistake and plan to rectify it as soon as humanly possible.  Egomaniac was on the fringes of the books that I usually read, so I almost passed up my chance to read it.  I can not tell you how glad I am that I didn’t pass, it was such a great book.

I was very pleasantly surprised by how emotionally connected I felt to this book.  Egomaniac is on the light side, for me, but it was rich and varied in the emotions in evoked.  I had picked it up for a bit of light reading after reading a heavier book but it wasn’t nearly as light as I had been expecting.  It was actually the perfect balance of light and heavy.  I appreciated the short moments of comedic interlude and fell in love the heavy themes that were the backbone of Emerie and Drew’s story.

Vi Keeland did an excellent job with her character development and growth in this book.  I slowly fell in love with both Emerie and Drew.  Emerie was sweet and naïve but grew into a strong, fierce woman who fought for what she knew she needed.  Drew, on the other hand, was jaded and cold, forged by deceptions from his past, his growth into a person who loved and trusted with abandon was quite lovely to behold.

Egomaniac was quite well-written and kept me wholly invested in what was going to happen next.  I was impressed with Ms. Keeland’s ability to lead me to believe that the story was going in one direction then completely surprise me with a turn I didn’t quite see coming in the way I anticipated.  The situations that Drew and Emerie faced in this book and the way they dealt with the hardships they faced kept me fully invested in them finding their happy endings.

Vi Keeland will be going on my list of go-to authors when I need something a little different from my usual reads.  Her writing is engrossing and he obviously cares greatly for her craft.  I am highly impressed with her ability to draw me in to a story and care deeply for the characters she has created.

4.5Feathers2

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author-photoVi Keeland is a #1 New York Times Bestselling author. With more than a million books sold, her titles have appeared in over fifty Bestseller lists and are currently translated in twelve languages.  She resides in New York with her husband and their three children where she is living out her own happily ever after with the boy she met at age six.

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GIVEAWAY, Review, & Excerpt Tour ~ HONOR by Jay Crownover ~ Sarah A’s Review

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honorpbNew York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Jay Crownover returns with her most complicated hero yet, in the first book in the romantic suspense series The Breaking Point. 

Don’t be fooled.

Don’t make excuses for me.

I am not a good man.

I’ve seen things no one should, done things no one should talk about. Honor and conscience have no place in my life. But I’ve fought and I’ve survived. I’ve had to.

The first time I saw her dancing on that seedy stage in that second rate club, I felt my heart pulse for the first time. Keelyn Foster was too young, too vibrant for this place, and I knew in an instant that I would make her mine. But first I had to climb my way to the top. I had to have something more to offer her.

I’m here now, money is no object and I have no equal. Except for her. She’s disappeared. But don’t worry, I will find her and claim her. She will be mine.

Like I said, don’t be fooled. I am not the devil in disguise… I’m the one standing front and center.

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If you preorder HONOR you will receive a super sweet bonus scene that features both Rule and Bax…as well as their leading ladies. The scene will NOT be shared anywhere else. It will be exclusive to those who preorder HONOR and fill out this form: https://a.pgtb.me/tD739Q 

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ALP SarahAReview OwlIt’s no secret that Jay Crownover is one of my favorite romance authors.  Maybe because she is semi-local to me.  Maybe because she’s so true to herself.  Maybe because her writing is so relatable.  Definitely because her heroes and heroines are always perfectly balanced counterpoints to one another.  All so tragically flawed you have no choice to root for them regardless of how bad they are.

When I first heard Nassir was getting his own story I wasn’t completely sold.  He had started to have some appeal to me by the end of Better When He’s Brave, I was unsure if there was anything Jay could make such an unrepentant man win me over.  As I saw more teasers and comments, my curiosity was piqued.  By the time I had the chance to review it, I couldn’t wait to walk through the fires of hell to get inside the Devil’s head.  I was not disappointed.

Honestly, by the time  I made it through the prologue every transgression Nassir had made was completely forgiven by me.  I didn’t even care if he ever sought redemption, his story was so heartbreaking it earned him a complete pardon from me.  I’m disappointed in myself that I didn’t have full faith in Jay, from the get-go, to deliver me a broken bad boy who would win me over heart and soul.

Jay kept me completely invested in every page of HONOR.  Even in the moments where Keelyn was desperately trying to fight her connection to Nassir, there was enough action and tension to keep me satisfied with the forward progress they were making.  The action, the drama was en pointe for the duration of the book, there were periods of respite that allowed me to settle into the intensity of Nassir and Key while having enough action interspersed to leave me anticipating when te next shoe was going to drop.

The only thing I wish there would have been more of was Keelyn’s backstory.  There were little tidbits here and there, enough information to know her life wasn’t all sunshine and roses, but I would have liked to know more about her.  When I was finished with the book, I felt completely satisfied with who she in the here and now, but I would have loved to have the same pieces of her past as we had of Nassir’s.

4 Feathers

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KEELYN

                “What are you doing here, Nassir?”

Nassir Gates, half man and half monster. He was lethal and toxic, keeping all that sinister beauty covered up in a ridiculously expensive suit that made him look elegant and falsely civilized. To the untrained eye, Nassir was an outrageously handsome man that looked like he was on his way to a business meeting, but if you had spent any time on the streets, were familiar with life in the gutter, there was no missing who he really was, what he was. The top of the food chain. If you knew about what it took to make it where I came from, you could look at Nassir and see that he not only thrived in chaos but was comfortable there. He even managed to make it look good.

I left all of that behind. I liked Denver. I liked the laid-back vibe. I liked the monotony. I liked the predictability. I liked that I could walk to my car after my shift at the diner and not have to worry about taking a knife in the ribs or getting a revolver shoved in my back. I liked that I didn’t have to shake my ass or get naked to pay my bills. I liked that here, soccer dads were just that, and weren’t secretly banging hookers in the back room or gambling the family’s grocery money away at an illegal poker game. Most importantly I liked that I didn’t have to look my biggest addiction, my worst temptation, in the eye every single day and pretend like I didn’t want him. Here I didn’t have to deny that I had been infatuated with him for years. I was foolishly obsessed with this particular devil in a designer suit and I knew he was absolutely detrimental not only to my safety but to the thing I valued above all else…my independence.

After a childhood spent evading the hands of my mother’s overzealous and unhinged boyfriends and barely escaping the clutches of a sick and twisted stepfather, and too many years working my ass off—literally—to make a life for myself, I could never risk letting myself care for Nassir the way I wanted to because I knew that if I did, I would become nothing more than his, and I refused to be any man’s possession or accessory.

When the opportunity arose to take off without an explanation or without looking like I was running from him and the promise and future I saw so clearly in his eyes, I grabbed it. Ran away with both my heart and my tail tucked between my legs. But now he was here in this fragile and predictable paradise and I wanted to stab him with the broken pen and jump in his lap and put my mouth on his smirking lips all at the same time.

You’re here, Key. Where else would I be?”

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headshot-3Jay Crownover is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Marked Men, The Point, and the Saints of Denver series. Like her characters, she is a big fan of tattoos. She loves music and wishes she could be a rock star, but since she has no aptitude for singing or instrument playing, she’ll settle for writing stories with interesting characters that make the reader feel something. She lives in Colorado with her three dogs.

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