Monday, July 20, 2015

Review | If You Dare by Jessica Lemmon

If You Dare by Jessica Lemmon
Published by Entangled Lovestruck
Publish Date: July 21, 2015
Source: Publisher
Find it here:  Goodreads / Amazon 


He'll make her a bet she can't refuse...

Lily McIntire is in the creepiest mansion in town. Alone. At night. Because she's an idiot-and can't ignore a dare from her cocky and infuriatingly hot co-worker, Marcus Black. But she'll be damned if she's going to give him the satisfaction of winning.

Marcus has had a thing for Lily for ages, and he has no intention of losing this bet. His plan? Scare her out of the house, and into his arms. Once there, scaring her turns into protecting her and soon after, into seducing her. And his plan is working...

Lily is having trouble relegating Marcus to the role of "asshat" as easily as before. He came to her rescue, and he's actually funny. Charming. Sexy as sin on a stick. But Lily has a strict no-love-in-the-workplace rule, and even one night of the best sex ever won't make her change her mind. So she's calling everything off...

Surviving a night in the mansion might just be the easy part. Surviving Marcus's increasingly convincing advances is going to take everything she has. Losing is not an option...
 (Goodreads) 

If You Dare by Jessica Lemmon

My Thoughts:  Lily McIntire has accepted a dare from co-worker Marcus Black: Spend the entire night in their town's local haunted mansion. If she can do it, Marcus will give up his recently-won trip to Hawaii. If she can't handle the entire night there, she has to go to a local dinner event with him - as his date! 

Marcus has wanted to go on a date with Lily for ages. He even asked her once, but she turned him down - she doesn't realize that he likes her so much and that he really wants to go on a date with her. 

Marcus has no intention of losing this bet to Lily, especially if it means he earns a date with her! ALSO, he won that trip to Hawaii fair and square. He certainly doesn't wait to give it up. When Lily settles in for a night at the mansion, complete with a few comforts from home (an air mattress, wine, sushi - the works), Marcus arrives on the scene ready to make her stay extra spooky. 

That's right! Marcus isn't above cheating to win the bet

It's great, though. Because it totally backfires on him. The results are super fun. 

Lily has been burned in the past by going out with a coworker - I'll spare you the details, but Marcus has his work cut out for him in convincing her that it's okay to trust wherever their feelings take them. And Marcus is almost jumping up and down to finally get a chance to go out with this gal that he's liked so much for so long - he's a guy that used to play the field...until he found Lily. Yes, I've seen these types of characters before, but I never get tired of them! 

If You Dare by Jessica Lemmon is a quick read, and I totally enjoyed it. My husband remarked to me more than once that I had a big smile on my face while I was reading and YES! that is what happens when I read books by this author. I've read several of hers now and I get so doggone excited when I'm about to pick up another one because I know that when I'm finished, my cheeks will hurt. They're just such fun stories. 

This story was originally a much shorter story, but the author recently expanded it and viola! we have this longer version of the original. To be honest, this less-than-200 page story was exactly what I was looking for right now because I had just finished multiple long, heavy fantasy and nonfiction books - I wanted something light and fun. This book delivers plus has the HEA, without a triangle. I wish that I could have read If You Dare by the pool or at the beach, paired with a cold drink. However, I personally started my day off with this book, so it went perfectly with my coffee. 

I recommend this story for fans of contemporary romances and fun, quick romantic reads.

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If You Dare will appeal to fans of:

Adult Contemporary Romance
Romance: No triangle. 
Humorous

If You Dare by Jessica Lemmon
will be available for purchase on July 21, 2015.

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The Second Chance Series by Jessica Lemmon:

 

The Second Chance Series is one of my favorites! 

Friday, July 17, 2015

Review + Giveaway | The Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen - with Audiobook Notes

The Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
Series: The Queen of the Tearling #2
Published by Harper 
Publish Date: June 9, 2015
Source: Book - Publisher, Audiobook - Bought
Find it here:  Goodreads / Amazon 


With each passing day, Kelsea Glynn is growing into her new responsibilities as Queen of the Tearling. By stopping the shipments of slaves to the neighboring kingdom of Mortmesne, she crossed the Red Queen, a brutal ruler whose power derives from dark magic, who is sending her fearsome army into the Tearling to take what is hers. And nothing can stop the invasion.

But as the Mort army draws ever closer, Kelsea develops a mysterious connection to a time before the Crossing, and she finds herself relying on a strange and possibly dangerous ally: a woman named Lily, fighting for her life in a world where being female can feel like a crime. The fate of the Tearling —and that of Kelsea’s own soul—may rest with Lily and her story, but Kelsea may not have enough time to find out
.
  (Goodreads) 

The Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

My Thoughts: An interesting shift on my calendar this week has put all three of my children either in camp or at their grandmother's house, which means that I was able to completely lose myself in both the first and second book of this series. And by LOSE MYSELF, I mean I flat-out went to the land of the Tear and lived there for a few days. I have solidly added this series to my "favorites" list for this year. 

In the first book: Queen Kelsea lived a hidden life a life of seclusion while she was being protected and educated by foster parents. At the age of 19, the Queen's Guard came for her as it was time for Kelsea to take the throne. As soon as she arrived among her people, she was saddened, disappointed, and disgusted by what she found: poor conditions, mistreatment, fear. Kelsea knew practically nothing about the rule of her mother, Queen Elyssa, nor her Uncle, the Regent, who ruled after Elyssa's death -- but she could see that these previous rulers did not take care of her people. Kelsea vowed to fix all that was broken - which was plenty, for Elyssa was a weak ruler and her Uncle the Regent was a pathetic one - and she set to that task right away. The Tear people grew to love her and she proved herself as a strong and worthy Queen, a good Queen. 

At the end of the first book, the Tear are anxiously expecting invasion from the Mort people and their evil leader, the Red Queen. And I had to immediately put the first book down and begin the second book. I HAD TO. I had to see what would happen. 


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The Invasion of the Tearling is a seamless continuation, picking up only a few weeks after the end of the first book. The first chapter is exciting, expanding into the backstory of one of the characters introduced at the end of the first book while simultaneously telling what is going on, and BOOM it begins right there. I was once again riveted from page one until the end. This is a world that I certainly would never want to live in, but I enjoyed visiting LIKE CRAZY. These are reread books for me.

By now the Queen has earned the trust of her people but she has also made some huge decisions to try and save the Tear from the dreaded invasion, or at least spare them in the best and most efficient ways possible, which is difficult because of the total lack of resources at her disposal. The Tear army does not have the same quality of weapons as the invading army, the area is not as prosperous, and the people are lacking the self-esteem at this point to put up the sort of fight that she would like - ohhh, if only she could have arrived a little sooner! While Queen Kelsea makes decisions with the best of intentions, her Guard supports her completely (even when they disagree). As the book progresses it becomes clear that not every decision that Kelsea has made has been the best for her people. 

What to do, what to do? Think fast, Queen. 

Kelsea is very smart, she has been educated well. She is a great thinker and is as fair as any. But she lacks the experience to execute great plans and decisions sometimes - sometimes she's just flailing and hoping for the best. She trusts the council of her Guard, as they are her closest advisors - but even when she receives it, she sometimes disregards it. Thus Kelsea still has plenty to learn; who wouldn't when they're thrown into the types of situations she has had to endure since the first day on the job? Kelsea is also learning to control the part of herself that identifies with her special abilities, or with magic, whichever it really is. She can do special things sometimes, and she often has visions of the past and the future, but these situations are not always things that Kelsea is able to control. 

She has a lot going on, this Queen. Imminent war, controlling new magical powers, coming-of-age in the castle, trying to piece together her past, building up her people by patching up their broken hopes and dreams. She doesn't shy away from any of it. The only people that ever really see her weak places are those that are closest to her. I LOVE the Queen. I love the good and not-so-good-yet parts of her, because her growth across these two books has been phenomenal AND the two stories have taken place over less than one year. She's making remarkable progress in her throne. 

ALSO occupying these pages is Lily, the girl from the pre-Crossing. Her chapters were initially odd-sounding to me because Lily comes from the Northeastern US during more modern times; she has modern conveniences and she is wealthy. However, she is living at a time when something has gone wrong: there is an even greater gap between the poor and the wealthy, between men and women, and between the majority and any type of minority. At first, I wondered what Lily's part would be in this story, and I was right to - it honestly takes A LONG TIME for her part to come to fruition but by the time I made all of the connections, I loved having her there. 

Having both Kelsea and Lily be major players in this book made it feel like a very empowering read. These are women that both appear to be weak in the beginning, but they do very difficult things. Add to that Andalie, part of Kelsea's chamber service, and we have a group of very strong, very smart, very capable women doing some amazing things in this book. I appreciated this, particularly since some of the issues that they tackle are pretty tough. 

Ultimately, this sequel is a solid middle-part to this series. I feel like it completely added to my excitement for this story arc and these characters, and I just want to high-five everyone after finishing it. I love the setting, I love the characters, I love the bond between Queen and her Guard, I love the lengths these women (and the Guard) will go to in order to make things right, I love so much about this book. And I'm so ready for the final installment because I still have just a few burning questions. 

I recommend The Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen to readers that enjoy fantasy, strong characters, and unique worldbuilding. 

Audiobook Notes: The audiobook format of The Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen is published by HarperAudio and is 18 hours and 10 minutes, Unabridged. It is narrated by Davina Porter, who basically needs no introduction because she has narrated so many worthy and amazing titles like this series. I have to admit that I was surprised to see this narrator reading after the also-excellent Katherine Kellgren read the first installment - I had grown attached to her narration for Kelsea and for this series. BUT as always, Davina Porter was great and I would recommend this audiobook to anyone looking to read this book for the first time or to keep on hand for rereads. One can not go wrong with either of these narrators, really. 


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The Invasion of the Tearling will appeal to fans of:

 Fantasy
Romance: Some, no triangle.
Great Friendship-Relationships
Great characterization
Alternating POV's & Settings
Great Worldbuilding

The Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
is currently available for purchase.

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Thanks to the generosity of Harper 
and Author Erika Johansen, I am able to offer one copy of 
THE INVASION OF THE TEARLING to a lucky reader! 

(US Only) * (Ends August 1) 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Queen of the Tearling Series:


 
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