To Bottle Lightening (North Oak: Book 4) by Ann Hunter


To Bottle Lightning (North Oak #4)

Title: To Bottle Lightning

Author: Ann Hunter

Publisher: Rebel House Ink

Date of publication: September 30th, 2016

Genre: Young Adult

Number of pages: 156

POV: 3rd person

Series: North Oak

Born to Run – Book 1 (review here)

Yearling – Book 2 (review here)

Morning Glory – Book 3 (review here)

To Bottle Lightning – Book 4

Where you can find To Bottle Lightning: Amazon

Book synopsis (from Goodreads):

Alex is almost fifteen and convinced she’s ready to train for jockeyhood. Only one man stands in her way: North Oak’s gruff old trainer, Joe Hendricks.
Joe doesn’t think Alex can handle the demands of being a real rider– she’s reckless, doesn’t follow instructions, and not exactly humble.
Dejado Augustun, on the other hand, is already licensed to ride, does as he’s asked, and does it well.
He drives Alex nuts.
No way can this Dejado guy be a match for Promenade in the upcoming Breeders Cup Juvenile. It would be easier to hate him if he weren’t so darn nice. Worst of all for Alex, he likes her, and Promenade likes him.

Can Alex overcome her pride and realize she may not be the rider Promenade needs?

My review:

To Bottle Lightning answered a lot of questions that I had leading up to it. Questions that I posted at the end of my review for Morning Glory. Questions that I was happy to find out, were answered in To Bottle Lightning.

I was really happy to see that Alex had come a long was as a person in this series. She is still battling her demons, though, and I was waiting for someone to tell her to get help. Well, color me surprised when not only did Cade and Hilary bring it up but Carol did too. I wanted to cheer when I read that scene. For Hilary to bring it up to her actually meant something to me. It meant that Hilary cared.

What I also liked was that Alex was finally getting answers to her questions. She wanted to know why Cade and Hilary weren’t adopting her and they kept telling her to ask North. Well, North wasn’t answering that question and Hilary finally had enough. She brought Alex to North and told him to answer her questions and left. Which he did and surprised Alex. If you had read Born to Run, then you already knew the secret. But I’m not going to ruin the surprise. Read the books to find out. Oh and I thought his answer why things were left the way they were was bullsh*t. Pardon my French but it was.

I also liked that the author made Alex’s friendships realistic. Her friendship with Carol, which was wonderful, hit a bumpy patch when they started high school. Alex met another girl and Carol started spending time with Dejado…..the jockey that came in between Brooke and Alex’s friendship in Morning Glory. But what I liked, even more, was that Alex was questioning her sexuality and it was done in a way that didn’t take away from the book. She was attracted to her new friend and she also had feelings for Dejado. Even her new friend asked her if she liked girls and Alex couldn’t really answer that question. I loved it!!

Speaking of Dejado, I really liked him but felt he was put in an unfair position with Brooke. Brooke had a huge crush on him and he knew it but he liked Alex. He was very honest about it with Brooke but it did end up hurting her and damaging her relationship with Alex and Dejado. Meanwhile, Alex could care less about Dejado and let him know it. Why he kept on chasing after he is beyond me but I figured because he’s a teenage boy and that’s what they do. But with Alex’s new feelings towards him, I smell romance in the air. Or could the romance be with Carol, who is getting driving lessons from him?

As with Morning Glory, part of this book focuses on a different character. This time, it is Joe. His chapters went back from the time he met Dot, his wife, to when he was offered a job at North Oaks to when Dot was diagnosed and eventually passed away from cancer to when Rowan, Brooke’s mother, showed up pregnant, at his doorstep shortly after Dot’s funeral. What got me was how deeply he cared about everyone, including Alex. That was not something I was expecting when I read his chapters. It made me feel bad for him and I kind of wished that he would open up to Brooke about how he cared about her.

I did think that Alex training to be a jockey was a great move on North’s end. She was a natural rider and she had talent. Her only issue was that she was 15 and she wasn’t trained. So having Brooke, Alex’s frenemy, was a good choice. The two girls actually bonded, which I liked. They had so much going on in their friendship that it was tough to read their scenes. Then Joe took over and Alex started bonding with him too. It was weird to read that because Joe was so against Alex in the first few books.

The end of the book was a nail biter, for sure but I loved it. I am so ready to read book 5, it isn’t even funny. I do have a couple of questions that I hope are answered in book 5:

Will Alex ever race? (the most important one)

Will she have to choose between Katie or Dejado?

Will Brooke ever get over Dejado?

How many stars will I give To Bottle Lightning: 4

Why: Another great installment in the North Oaks series. Great plot lines, great characters

Will I reread: Yes

Will I recommend to family and friends: Yes

Age range: Young Adult

Why: Mild language.

**I received a free copy of this book and volunteered to review it**

Morning Glory (North Oak: Book 3) by Ann Hunter


Morning Glory (North Oak, #3)

Title: Morning Glory

Author: Ann Hunter

Publisher: Rebel House Ink

Date of publication: February 5th, 2016

Genre: Young Adult, Middle Grade

Number of pages: 184

POV: 3rd person

Series: North Oak

Born to Run – Book 1 (review here)

Yearling – Book 2 (review here)

Morning Glory – Book 3

To Bottle Lightning – Book 4

Where you can find Morning Glory: Amazon

Book synopsis (from Goodreads):

Sequel to Born to Run and Yearling

Can Alex & Brooke help Morning Glory overcome her racing slump?

When a terrible accident shakes the Showmans, Alex finds herself questioning her place in the family. Feeling like a second class citizen, she turns once again to find her solace in horse racing.
With a new filly to manage with Brooke, and Venus Galaxies’s first foal on the way, the girls must rely on each other to make things work out.
But will a handsome, foreign newcomer split them apart once again?

Find out in MORNING GLORY

To learn more about Morning Glory, check out this cool video by former jockey, Frankie Lavato:

My review:

Morning Glory picks up shortly after the events of Yearling. What I liked is that instead of focusing solely on Alex, the book shifts focus to Brooke and examines her relationship with Alex (which had been touched upon in the first two books), Laura and her grandfather, Joe….who is the head trainer at North Oaks. I thought that it was great that Brooke’s story got to be told in tandem with Alex’s because they shared so many similarities. The only thing is that Brooke was raised with love and Alex, well, if you read Born to Run, you know what happened to her.

Alex was still the wise guy as in the first 3 books but she was settling in with Cade, Hilary, and Laura. She was part of a family, something that she never had before and she was coming out of her shell. She even had a best friend (and I will get into more of her relationship with Carol a little later). Then there was a horrible accident involving Laura, and Alex was there (she didn’t cause it). Even though she saved Laura’s life, she was still shunted off to the side while Cade and Hilary dealt with every parent’s worse nightmare. I felt awful for her during those scenes because she went from being included and loved to being ignored by the person she needed the most.

Speaking of that, I really wanted to smack Hilary upside the head. What the heck was she thinking and it was almost like she blamed Alex for the accident. No words of thank for Alex, who dragged Laura out of a burning car. Just a cold shoulder and she freaked out on Alex two separate times, almost injuring Alex once when she pulled Alex from Prom. I seriously got mad and Cade explanation didn’t cut it. It took Alex taking a personal item and giving it back to Hilary while freaking out on her to wake Hilary up.

Alex’s friendship with Carol was a beautiful thing to read. Carol loved her unconditionally and wasn’t afraid to tell Alex that she needed to face her demons before they got worse and consumed her. I just couldn’t get a grip on how Alex felt about Carol. I didn’t know if it was romantic love or friendship love. There were a few scenes where it seemed like romantic love (because of the way they were written) but then it would morph into a more friendship like love. Not that it had any bearing on the story but it was definitely something that I was wondering about as I read it. And for the record, even if Alex turned out to like girls, I would let my 11-year-old read the book. As I tell her, “Who a person loves doesn’t define them. Their actions do, so never a judge a person by who they love

Alex’s PTSD and her survivor’s guilt came across very strong in this book also. My heart bled for her when Carol found her in her room on the 4th of July, hiding from the fireworks. I could not understand why she wasn’t put into therapy after the first book. She was dealing with everything by herself, well with Carol’s help, and I just couldn’t wrap my head around it. But again, it goes back to the theme I talked about it Yearling, about her issues not magically going away and to be honest, it was refreshing to read a book where everything was out in the open and the character was struggling to come to terms with her traumatic events (and yes, I phrased something very similar in Yearling‘s review).

I like I said above, I liked that Brooke got some love in this book and I liked how similar she was to Alex, in ways. She was independent and was able to make adult decisions at the age of 16. She also took care of her grandfather, Joe and made sure that his drinking didn’t get out of control. She was also a great trainer in training (mouthful much). But she was a teenager and made decisions that are well, teenager like. Like taking her earnings and buying a racehorse who was a dud. While I thought Joe was a jerk, because of how he treated Alex but there is a back story there, I thought he was right in telling Brooke that she needed to find another place to board Morning Glory. I also thought that North was right to do what he did towards the end of the book.

The end of the book was pretty standard and like Yearling, it did leave the book open for book 4. There are a few questions that I want to be answered that will, hopefully, be answered in book 4. Like, will Alex ever find out who North is to her? Will Joe ever accept Alex? Will Dejado make an appearance in book 4 and will he ever be more to Brooke? So many questions!!!

How many stars will I give Morning Glory: 4

Why: Complex characters and an engaging storyline kept me reading until late into the night.

Will I reread: Yes

Will I recommend to family and friends: Yes

Age range: Early teen

Why: Mild language

**I received a free copy of this book and volunteered to review it**

Yearling (North Oak: Book 2) by Ann Hunter


Yearling (North Oak #2)

Title: Yearling

Author: Ann Hunter

Publisher: Rebel House Ink

Date of publication: October 1st, 2015

Genre: Young Adult, Middle Grade

POV: 3rd person

Series: North Oak

Born to Run – Book 1 (review here)

Yearling – Book 2

Morning Glory – Book 3

To Bottle Lightning – Book 4

Where you can find Yearling: Amazon

Book synopsis (from Goodreads):

A new year has come to North Oak and with it a new life for Alexandra Anderson. Will she be able to open her heart to others when it’s still battling demons from her past? Or will she go so deep into herself where no one can touch her, and risk losing Promenade in the Keeneland Yearling Sale?

Don’t miss this sequel to North Oak #1: Born to Run!

On the heels of Joanna Campbell’s beloved Thoroughbred Series, and Walter Farley’s Black Stallion comes a brand new young adult horse racing series that will sweep you away like a runaway Thoroughbred.

EXCERPT:
“I should be happy,” Alex sighed. “These folks, they’re real nice. For the first time in my life, I’m wanted. Well, they say that they want me. I almost feel needed sometimes. I don’t have to steal food anymore, or run away from what I’ve done, I’ve even got a warm bed. But the fact is… when I think of Ashley, I just want her back and nothing else. I want a life she exists in. And wanting that… it spoils what I have. I feel so ungrateful when I think of the life we could have made if we ran away from Haven together like we planned. I feel ungrateful because I would rather have a life on the streets with Ashley than a warm bed and you. I mean who in their right mind wants something like that? There’s something wrong with me.”

My review:

I am always on the hunt for a good middle-grade book for my 9 and 11-year-olds. Mainly my 11-year-old, who is an insatiable reader. So when Ann approached me to review Yearling, I gladly accepted. I am glad I did because this book was fantastic. There was no sophomore slump and honestly, that along with the vivid characters and background is what sold me on the book. Also, what sold me, was that it is a great book for anyone 11 and older (and the main reason I read it).

Alex, I wanted to reach through the book and give her a hug and tell her “It will be alright”. I am glad that the author made her as flawed as she did because it made her more relatable. I also liked that the author showed that traumatic events and losses (if you want to know what…read Born to Run) aren’t magically healed in between books. But, the author also showed how animals, in this case, a yearling named Promenade, can help a person with their healing….along with a support system and people who love unconditionally.

Now, saying what I said above, Alex was a very funny, sarcastic tween. Looking at my tween, I can say that the author is dead on with the mannerisms and attitude that Alex had. Gave me some really good laughs when I was reading. The biggest laugh was when Alex started her monthly and thought she was dying. I was outside and started laughing my butt off. Then when Hilary finds out and finds out that Alex doesn’t know anything about puberty or even had “The Talk“, she goes into Mom mode big time. Which included having Alex watch “A League of Their Own“(which personally is one of my favorite movies) and that becomes a running joke through the rest of the series. Also, Alex’s sex ed lesson was very interesting as was her reaction….lol.

The friendship storyline was fantastic and I like how the author took the time for Alex and Carol to build up their friendship. It went from Alex keeping her at arm’s length to embracing her as a friend and she was willing to do anything to protect her. Which meant standing up to Carol’s bully.

Now, I will be the first one to admit, I know nothing about Thoroughbred racing, racing farms or horses so I loved that the author explained everything in the book in ways that were understandable and interesting. From the stud services (see, I know that much…haha) to foaling to training the yearlings to training the racehorses, everything was explained in a way that never made you go “Eh”. Instead, it makes you go “Oh, well that makes sense”.

The end of the book really didn’t feel like an ending. While certain storylines were wrapped up, new ones were revealed and there are old ones that weren’t wrapped up. There was definitely an opening for book 3 (Morning Glory) and I will be posting my review of that soon!!

How many stars will I give Yearling: 4

Why: A wonderfully written middle grade book that actually brings to mind The Black Stallion series. I loved the plotlines, the characters…everything about the book.

Will I reread: Yes

Will I recommend to family and friends: Yes

Age range: Young Teen

Why: Mild cursing, no sex or violence

**I received a free copy of this book and volunteered to review it**

Hot Shot (Last Shot: Book 2) by Kelly Jamieson


Hot Shot (Last Shot, #2)

Title: Hot Shot

Author: Kelly Jamieson

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group – Loveswept

Date of publication: May 16th, 2017

Genre: Romance

Number of pages: 235

POV: 3rd person

Series: Last Shot

Body Shot – Book 1

Hot Shot – Book 2

Where you can find Hot Shot: Amazon

Book synopsis (from Goodreads):

A former Navy SEAL and current bad boy bar owner learns to trust a free spirit in this steamy novel of unexpected romance from the bestselling author of Body Shot and the Heller Brothers series.

Marco Solis knows that if he gets too close to people they disappear. His parents were deported back to Mexico when he was fourteen, his fiancée married someone else while he was in the military, and now his business partner’s spending more time with his girl than with Marco. For better or worse, that’s how Marco meets Carrie Garner. She’s legitimately model-hot. She’s also a nut—a wild, artsy, unapproachable nut. So why is Marco so interested in cracking her shell?

Although Carrie Garner is a natural in front of the camera, her dream is to make it as a photographer. Soon she’ll be heading to Spain for design school, and she’ll miss her best friend, Hayden, like crazy. She’ll even miss Hayden’s boyfriend, Beck—but she won’t miss Beck’s partner, Marco. Bossy, brooding, and annoyingly sexy, Marco really pushes her buttons, though he obviously wouldn’t mind pushing her buttons in an up-against-the-wall, hard-and-fast kind of way. The craziest part is if Carrie lets him do that, well . . . she may never want to leave.

My review:

Hot Shot is the dreaded 2nd book in the Last Shot series. If you have followed my blog for any length of time, you know my feelings about starting off reading 2nd books in a series and how I keep punishing myself by not looking the title up on Goodreads or Amazon before I ask for it from NetGalley. It is not often that I get the 2nd book in a series that actually could be read as a stand alone. Fortunately for Hot Shot, it can be read separately. Which I wasn’t expecting with how heavily the main characters from Body Shot are involved in Hot Shot. 

Marco was such a complex character and yes, I used the word complex in a romance novel. He had some deep-seated issues that I didn’t expect a former SEAL to have. The biggest one is his fear of abandonment, which stemmed from his parents being deported back to Mexico when he was 14, him losing track of his younger sister while being bounced from foster home to foster home and then his fiancé deciding to cheat on him while he was on deployment. So, it was understandable that he was uptight and didn’t trust people outside of his SEAL brothers.

He was also probably the single sexiest character that I have read to date. I seriously wish that I could make him jump off the book pages into my life, that’s how much I loved this character. He was funny (the one liners were hilarious and “Occupying Vagistan” stands out the most even though he didn’t say it), brutally honest about what he wants from Carrie and omg, he talked dirty during sex. Like legit dirty talk, use your imagination…trying to keep this review Amazon PC….lol. Besides that, he was also kind and very fair…..read the book to find out what I mean. So, the perfect man.

In a way, Carrie was just as complex as Marco. Her issues, though, were more that she didn’t feel that she fit into her family. Her brothers and sister were all businesspeople/lawyers, as was her parents. I actually didn’t like Carrie’s mother or sister, at all. The way they talked to Carrie’s grandmother, a free-spirited ex-burlesque dancer, made me fume while reading those scenes. No wonder Carrie felt the way she did about her modeling career and her budding photography career. Ugh, made me so mad.

Out of all the characters in all the books I have read, I think I related to Carrie the most. I loved that the author wrote her as this slightly raunchy girl who wasn’t afraid to go after her dreams…even if it meant leaving loved ones behind. I think, if she was real, I could be BFF’s with her (move out-of-the-way, Hayden…..lol).

Let’s talk about the sex scenes. Oh. My. God. They were beyond hot and I loved that Marco was a dirty talker. But even more, I loved that Carrie wasn’t the type of girl who just laid there and let the guy do all the work. Which made those part of the books burn.

The storyline with Carrie’s niece was pretty sad, not that I think about it and again, my dislike for her sister grew. But, I loved what came out of it and how it was resolved.

I will say that the end of the book had me in tears. I think I ugly cried from Hayden and Beck’s wedding to the epilogue. Oh and by the way, I thought the epilogue was probably the best part of the book. I am looking forward to seeing what Cade’s book is going to be like. Seeing that he is a manwhore, I can’t wait to read his story (the girls showing up at the bar was hilarious…btw).

How many stars will I give Hot Shot: 4

Why: Oh where do I start. This book was funny, sad and sensual….all rolled up into a wonderfully written story. What I wrote in my review doesn’t even begin to explain the book so it would be better if you all just read it instead. The only reason why I didn’t give it five stars is because of Carrie’s family. I couldn’t stand them.

Will I reread: Yes

Will I recommend to family and friends: Yes

Age range: Adult

Why: Explicit sex, explicit language. No violence

**I received a free copy of this book and volunteered to review it**

Clifton Chase and the Arrow of Light by Jaimie Engel


Clifton Chase and the Arrow of Light

Title: Clifton Chase and the Arrow of Light

Author: Jaimie M. Engle

Publisher: JME Books

Date of publication, September 24th, 2013

Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy

POV: 3rd person

Where you can find Clifton Chase and the Arrow of Light: Amazon

Book synopsis (from Goodreads):

Clifton Chase is the latest target for bully Ryan Rivales. But after he finds a mysterious arrow in his closet, he takes Ryan’s bet to see who can hit the target. Ryan nails the bull’s-eye, but Clifton’s piece of junk arrow sails out of sight and when he finally finds it, something isn’t right. Somehow, Clifton has been magically transported back to 1485 England, where he meets two princes bullied by their tyrant uncle who locked them in prison to steal their throne. Only after Clifton learns the true meaning of friendship, bravery, and sacrifice can he help the princes escape and find the courage to face his own bully. Befriended by a dwarf, a mythical bird called Simurgh, and a cast of comical characters, Clifton’s fantasy adventure through medieval times is perfect for boys and girls of all ages, and the young at heart. For those who like fantasy kids books like Percy Jackson and Harry Potter.

My review:

I was setting up to review Clifton Chase and the Arrow of Light and my 11-year-old happened to wander over and was looking over my shoulder. She was very excited after reading the blurb and begged me to buy the book for her once I was done reading it. I asked her what made her want to read it and she said “Mom, just read the blurb. A bullied boy gets transported back in time and help other bullied boys. Sounds like something I would love to read.

I would have to agree with her about that. Clifton Chase and the Arrow of Light was a book that I loved reading. Wonderfully written, I was taken on a journey of self-discovery and courage and Clifton realizes his worth and gets the courage to do what is right.

I will admit that Clifton was a little bratty in the beginning of the book. To be honest, I thought his first interactions with Ryan were more about jealousy than being bullied and he started to annoy me….big time. But the more I read, the more I started to understand that Ryan was being a bully and my annoyance with Clifton started to fade. By the time I got to the part of the book where Clifton’s parents were making him write an apology letter to the coach and Ryan, my annoyance faded and I felt bad for him.

I thought that the historical fantasy part of the book was fantastic. From the minute Clifton landed in 1485 England and met Dane, I was entranced. There were dwarves, dragons, sea monsters, mermaids, a magical arrow and a magical bird who has a human face. Add in that it takes place in 1485 England with real historical people, places, and events and I couldn’t get enough of it.

I did have a small complaint about the modern language that Clifton used with talking to Prince Edward, Prince Richard, and Lady Elizabeth. But, then I thought about it a bit and how was he supposed to talk. He was a visitor sent back in time….how was he supposed to talk? So my little complaint ended shortly after I had that thought.

The growth of Clifton in the book was great. He went from being an insecure little boy who didn’t know how to deal with a bully to a confident young man who had the wisdom to know when to walk away from his bully. While the transformation was gradual, it really showed at the end of the book with the choices that Clifton made both in his life in Melbourne, Florida and in 1485 England.

Speaking of the end of the book, I really liked it and I also liked that the author chose to leave it with the possibility that there could be a book 2. Which I hope there is because I can’t wait to see what adventures Clifton will go on next.

How many stars will I give Clifton Chase and the Arrow of Light: 4

Why: This is a book that I would feel very comfortable letting both my 9-year-old and 11-year-old read. It has a great plot line with relatable characters.

Will I reread: Yes

Will I recommend to family and friends: Yes

Age range: Tween

Why: mild violence but otherwise a very clean book.  I will add a trigger warning because of the bullying scenes.

**I received a free copy of this book and volunteered to review it**

Alpha Kaden (Alpha: Book 2) by Midika Crane


Alpha Kaden

Title: Alpha Kaden

Author: Midika Crane

Publisher: Inkitt

Date of publication: May 17th, 2017

Genre: Romance, Paranormal, Shapeshifters, Werewolves

Number of pages: 234

POV: Alternating 1st person

Series: Alpha

Alpha Landon – Book 1

Alpha Kaden – Book 2

Alpha Grayson – Book 3

Alpha Jasper – Book 4

Where you can  find Alpha Kaden: Amazon

Book synopsis (from Goodreads):

“Lock your doors. Hold them tight. Close your windows. Every night. Don’t go out, if he’s there. Always live in total fear.”

Everyone knows of Alpha Kaden, a man of twisted riddles and cryptic puzzles. His identity is one of them. His touch, another. He is feared throughout all 13 packs for his reputation of stealing young women out of their beds. And tonight he has come to steal Mara to make her a player in his wicked game.

But when Mara discovers the truth behind his sadistic mind games everything changes and she finds herself questioning what is real, and what is not. Mara always assumed her mate would be a man from her own pack. A good man. Not a sadistic, sinful Alpha named Kaden.

My review:

Good werewolf books are hard to come by. Usually, the author chooses to make the books either all about the sex (which isn’t a bad thing…believe me) or all about the violence. I can count on one hand the books that I have read that actually incorporates the two and does it well. So, when I was offered the ARC for Alpha Kaden and read the blurb, I thought to myself “Eh, going to be a typical werewolf book. Either a lot of sex or a lot of violence“. I decided to accept it because there was something about the cover that called to me. I don’t know if it was Mara’s expression or if it was the way that Kaden was glowering behind her. It was like the book said, “Don’t judge me by the blurb, read me“. Let me tell you guys, I am glad that I did because all I have to say is “Wow!!”

What I liked, and what people are going to say “Whaaaaat” about is that the main characters didn’t shapeshift into their wolves very often. But that didn’t take away from their powers. They are able to smell like wolves and the Alpha males definitely came across as Alphas. Kaden’s scenes, especially in the beginning, exuded his Alphaness (is that a word….lol). It was actually refreshing to read a book where they weren’t turning into a wolf every other chapter and it made me enjoy the book even more.

This is a first for the last few books that I have read/reviewed. I absolutely loved Mara. While she was very innocent about the ways of the werewolves outside of her clan, she didn’t let that hold her back. She wasn’t afraid to stand up to Kaden when she met him and every time after that. She also wasn’t afraid to let people know what she felt. Coen, Kase, Amelia, Landon and oh, let’s not forget Kaden. She needled him without even knowing she was.

Let’s talk about Kaden. He was the epitome of the boogeyman. The Purity Clan didn’t let their girls near the windows after dark because he took them. And he definitely did play the part. But little things slipped out. He treated her differently and he was different when he was around certain people. He did give off a dark vibe throughout the book. Very dark but there was light in him too. I felt awful when he told Mara the truth about him. Actually, my exact words were “Holy sh-t!! No way” after their talk.

The romance between Kaden and Mara, at first, really didn’t jive with me. Only because she was his prisoner and I really didn’t like it when the captor and the prisoner fall in love. It always screams Stockholm Syndrome to me. There was a definite attraction but it was kept under wraps until she went to Landon and Amelia’s clan to do a very dirty mission. It was only after Kaden kisses her (she was drunk and passed out) that it is revealed what she is to him and how hard he is trying to protect her. When she realizes what he is to her….Oh. My. God. Talk about an insanely hot, hot, hot sex scene.

Like I said above, Kaden really wasn’t what he projected. But I was surprised at who was behind his reputation and the reasons that this person had for forcing Kaden to do what he did. Put it this way, I wasn’t happy when certain events happened and that person got what was coming to them. Just saying. Wasn’t sad at all.

The secondary characters made the book. While Kaden and Mara were the stars, the secondary characters were close seconds. The author was able to successfully weave these characters into the main and secondary plotlines without them taking over the book. Which I enjoyed….a lot.

The end of the book was a little sad and it left on a small cliffhanger. Which means I have to read book 3 to see what happens with Grayson and Lexie. Not that I would mind.

How many stars will I give Alpha Kaden: 4

Why: I really enjoyed reading Alpha Kaden. It was a truly original werewolf love story that kept me engrossed for the book.

Will I reread: Yes

Will I recommend to family and friends: Yes

Age range: Adult

Why: Sex, language, and violence

**I chose to leave this review after reading an advance reader copy**

Roses (Golden: Book 2) by Melinda Michaels


Roses (Golden #2)

Title: Roses

Author: Melinda Michaels

Publisher: REUTS Publications

Date of publication: May 16th, 2017

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance

Number of pages: Unknown

POV: 3rd person

Series: Golden

Golden – Book 1

Roses – Book 2

Where you can find Roses: Amazon (will update once it appears on Amazon)

Book synopsis (from Goodreads):

When Poppy Pruette comes home for the summer after her first year at college, she expects it to be just like every summer before it: filled with cookouts, nosy neighbors, town hall meetings and long, hot days.

She never expects a murder. Not in Miner’s Way, Virginia.

But the sanctity of her small town is shattered when Poppy’s widely beloved grandmother, Rose, is brutally killed the night of a neighborhood barbecue. No one knows what to make of it or who might be responsible, least of all Poppy—until Detective Owen Peirce arrives from out-of-town with strange questions and a family history far more sinister than Poppy ever imagined.

Owen believes Poppy was the intended target, not Rose. Now, to save herself, Poppy must go into hiding and learn the truth about her family legacy. What she uncovers will change her life forever.

A grim and delightfully plausible fairy tale retelling, Roses is the story of a young woman contending with the question: what do we owe to our ancestors?

My review:

I enjoyed reading Roses but I had issues with following some of the content. See, Roses is book 2 in the Golden series by the same author and the characters and storylines from the first book are heavily involved in the latter part of the book. Which made it very hard to follow at times because the characters (mainly Owen) would talk about events from the last book. If I had read Golden first and then read Roses, then I would have a better grip on the storyline.

Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed the book. The original retelling of Little Red Riding Hood with shades of Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella and 1001 Nights thrown in really kept my attention. I also liked the distinctions between the Good,  the Others and the Storytellers(basically the fairy tale characters descendants, the villain descendants and the fairy tale writers descendants). I never gave thought to what happens after the fairy tale ends and there are children on both sides. Also, that both the fairy tale descendants and the villain’s descendants are destined to relive the fairy tale is pretty interesting too.

I felt bad for Poppy but that girl got on my one last nerve. She came across as a childish, spoiled brat who defied Owen at every turn. I mean, someone is out to kill her and she just takes off for New York City to go see her best friend. Doesn’t answer her phone and then acts like a brat when Owen tracks her down. Made me want to tear my hair out or reach through the book and give her a shake. She did grow on me after New York City and I actually liked her at the end of the book.

Owen, I liked and I felt bad for him. He had such a tragic backstory and what happened to him when he was younger did shape him into the person he became as an adult. I also liked, really liked, that he didn’t want to follow his story. He wanted to make his own story and in a way, he did. He did go to California to rescue his princess but came back for Poppy. If I had any doubt about his feelings for her, they were definitely cleared up when they reunited.

The end of the book really had me on my toes. The author did a great job keeping the killer’s identity hidden up until the end of the book. I was a little surprised by who the killer was but it fit perfectly with the book.

How many stars will I give Roses: 3.5 (rounded up to 4 on Goodreads and Amazon)

Why: Roses definitely kept my attention while reading. From the complex characters to a great plot, Roses is on my keeper list. Now, why I gave it a 3.5 rating: It is not a stand-alone book.

Will I reread: Yes

Will I recommend to family and friends: Yes

Age range: Older Teen

Why: This is a very clean book. Some mild violence and language and one kissing scene.

**I chose to leave this review after reading an advance reader copy**