Book Reviews, Indie Author, Review Archives

LOST & FOUND!! (EMI LOST & FOUND SERIES – BOOK #1)

When artist Nate Wilson falls in love, he falls hard. The problem is, he’s only been in love once, and the girl of his affections is his best friend, Emi Hennigan. 
 
In high school, the two bonded over painful breakups, and swore off a relationship to save their friendship. Thirteen years later, Nate has had more than his share of emotionally-unfulfilling, sexual relationships with beautiful women to distract himself from his true romantic feelings.
 
When a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity takes Nate away from his friend and his comfortable lifestyle, he is forced to reflect on the distinct void that Emi’s absence leaves in his life. To Nate’s surprise, Emi has a similar experience; but as the friends embark upon their journey toward happiness together, destiny reveals other plans for Emi. 
 
This is the first of three books in the Emi Lost & Found series. This second edition features cover artwork by Summer Ortiz.

Author: Lori Otto  
Title: Lost & Found (Book #1 of the Emi Lost & Found Series)  
Genre: Young Adult>Contemporary>Romance>  
Publication Date: August 2010
Links to Purchase: Amazon
Reviewer: Megan
 
My Review: 4 out of 5 Stars. 
 
I really grappled with wether or not I wanted to write one big review for all three of the books in this series or write them separate. It took me until the moment I began to set up the post, to realize that separate was better, here’s why: 1. I really enjoyed the series as a whole, but I think each book has it’s own likes and dislikes that deserve attention. 2. I want you, the reader, to be able to quickly see those likes and dislikes without wadding through a really looong review. 3. I had it in my head that I had separate star scores for each book, and a final star score for the series… but I wanted to do both the book and the review(s) justice by differentiating this. 4. I would have separated my review of the whole series by book anyways (even if in one post), so why not just give each book it’s own review, it’s own page… and just make it more fun. This way, everyone can see what I thought of each book as it is. I promise in the review for book 3 to tell you all what I thought of the series as a whole! 
 
I was already drawn into this series after reading the prequel, Not Today, But Someday; therefore, I knew it wouldn’t take much for me to settle in and just let the story take hold of me. I already loved Emi and Nate, but I never really saw this book coming. While I initially was intrigued by the fact that Emi and Nate were now older, I quickly began missing the younger versions of them from the prequel and wished that I had gotten more of it. However, this dissipated just as quickly as it came. I was elated when the author would tie in bits and pieces from the prequel and you saw how it all fit together. It made me start thinking of some of my other favorite books and how cool a prequel would be. Then I even thought of how fascinating it would be to maybe someday write a prequel to my own Harvest Series… before Angela was murdered or maybe even leading up to her murder – the prequel from her eyes. Ohhh, the possibilities. This was where I realized, I am truly a series whore! 
 
Overall, I really liked this first book in the series. I loved the friendship that developed over the years between Emi and Nate, I liked (for the most part –* I say for the most part because some of the choices they make are less than stellar and as a result of some of those choices, their behavior was frustrating), who they became as adults, how they helped one another become the people they became. I liked that Emi found her passion in life as a result of the friendship she found in Nate. The story flowed well and kept me beyond entertained. It was a long book (a long series), so I was reading other books for reviews in between, but always found myself longing to get back to Emi and Nate. And never feeling disappointed when I finally made my way back.     
 
I don’t want to ruin anything by saying too much, especially since there are two other books. But, here is why this book in the series got only 4 stars and not 5.  The book was too long. There were parts that felt repetitive and parts that felt like they just dragged on and on for no reason. I felt as if the story could have been 100 pages shorter than it was and been just as fabulous, but I understand, from a writers point of view, that it’s hard to cut things out when you feel they are important to the character development and the final climax of the story.  Speaking of climax, the only other thing, besides the length of the story, that I didn’t like was the borderline erotica sex. I know I have drilled this pet peeve into the ground, but I can’t help how I feel about this. The sex scenes with Nate and his girlfriends were just too much – too graphic, too explicit, and often made me cringe. I loved Nate as a character, but during these scenes I loathed him. And when he began carrying some of this behavior over… I was infuriated. I realize it was meant to be this way… it was his internal struggle once he got what he always wanted, but the other two books were never as graphic or borderline erotica as this one, and it made me appreciate those intimate moments so much more.  These two things, by no means, diminished my opinion or liking of the book. They are just things that I didn’t particularly care for and things I want my readers to know.  
 
The ending of this book, book #1 in this series, TOTALLY, COMPLETELY, 100% caught me off guard!!! I had a range of emotions running through me as I read the final lines and I found myself thankful that all I had to do was turn the page and I could see what happened… not like that made it any better…. those same range of emotions just hit me again and left me with tears streaming down my face and utterly devastated and confused. 
 
This, is the point where I thought, what the hell? Why? And as I leave you with this and start the review of book #2, I will say… all I kept thinking was “Bold Move Lori, very very bold move!! WOW!!”
 
 
 
 
 
 
Book Reviews, Indie Author, Review Archives

MERCH GIRL!!

Seventeen-year-old Lacey Kind doesn’t have the guts to talk to cute boys, isn’t a size two, and would rather stay home and listen to music than go to a party. But in the summer before her first year of college, she ends up thousands of miles away from home, in the back of a tour bus, underneath the half-naked body of the hottest teen rock star in the country.
When Lacey and her best friend Trina sneak into a Boston nightclub to see their favorite band, they not only get to watch their rock gods perform for the first time, but score a chance to meet the band too. Lacey’s heart races as she comes face-to-face with her idol, nineteen-year-old lead singer, Logan Shire.
The girls charm their way into being hired to sell merchandise on Lansdowne’s first summer tour. As “merch girls” Lacey and Trina quickly find themselves transported from their ordinary, suburban life to an exhilarating few months on the road. But they soon realize that life on the road isn’t always a smooth ride…
 
Author: Rebecca Lewis  
Title: Merch Girl 
Genre: Young Adult>Contemporary>Romance>Music  
Publication Date: May 2013
Links to Purchase: Amazon
Reviewer: Megan
 
My Review: 5 out of 5 Stars. I ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT!!
 
Let me first crush on the cover just a bit. It fits the story P-E-R-F-E-C-T… perfect! It draws you in and makes any music lover swoon to read this story. After reading the book, and then I look at the cover, I see Lacey. I can picture the moments in the story where her and Trina dance in the doorway while the band performs, waiting for the rush to sell the merch.   I will admit, when I first got a copy of the book for review and read the description, I thought it was going to be similar to “Almost Famous”. But it wasn’t. It showed a totally different side of the music industry, a band starting out, and the people who help bring it all together. On that note, I will say, I could not have been happier with the way the story unfolded. I thought it was fantastic. I loved loved loved it!
 
So let me tell you why I absolutely loved this book. First, I love music. I am a huge fan of rock bands (Breaking Benjamin, Shinedown, Daughtry, Theory of a Dead Man… just to name a few) and I thought back to some of the concerts I have been to over the years. It made me completely nostalgic. It made me jealous.  Second, it was a fun, easy read. I got through it quickly. It would have been read and reviewed in one day if not for my JOB, grrr. Once I started reading I was drawn in. It was a believable story with truly captivating characters. I loved Lacey. I thought she was a strong, confident, loyal protagonist who reminded me what it feels like when you start to fall for someone. I enjoyed Trina’s sassiness, but she was kinda mean to the fans, but I am sure this happens all the time in the celebrity world and is probably one of the biggest downfalls of dating a non-celebrity.  I’d probably be the same way as Trina… I could never watch my boyfriend let girls  hang all over him, kiss him, or throw themselves at him. Especially if you no one knows he’s spoken for. That would be horrible. Nice touch though Rebecca!  I cannot say enough how gratified I was to see Jenna get what was coming to her. I loathe… loathe, girls like her!! 
 
I Liked how the author was able to show us this unknown side of the music world (the “Merch Girl” world) while also giving us a glimpse of a band starting out. At first I thought that maybe Lacey and Trina’s luck was too good, too coincidental, but then I stopped and thought about a friend of mine from high school who is in the music industry. I have gone to some of his shows, spent time with him in the midst of his music career and he continues to be down to earth and maintains real relationships. I also reminded myself that these guys were young and just starting out – they had yet to be tainted by the industry yet. Which only made me swoon even more for the relationship between Lacey and Logan. As many readers of my blog know, I am not a fan of over the top, erotic love scenes or relationships that go from “hi, nice to meet you” to kinky S&M sex in 24 hours. Merch Girl was NONE of that. It was real. It was honest. It left me wanting more.  
 
Yes, I said it again… I want more of the band, more of Lacey and more of Logan. I warned all of you that I love series and I can only hope this isn’t the last time we see Lacey and Landsdowne.
 
I loved Merch Girl, and I highly recommend it to anyone who loves music and contemporary YA!!  
 
 

 

Book Reviews, Indie Author, Review Archives

THE BULLY!!

Nathan Pratt, the school bully, picks on everyone smaller than him. But he soon learns the old saying “What goes around, comes around.”

Author: Colby Jones 
Title: The Bully
Genre: Young Adult  
Publication Date: April 2013
Links to Purchase: Barnes & Noble, Smashwords
Reviewer: Megan
 
My Review: 4 out of 5 Stars. I LIKED IT!
 
When I added this book to the Manic Monday line up, I had no idea how short a short story it truly was. I’ve actually become fond of Indie short stories.  While this story was super short (read it in like 5 minutes), it packed a good punch, had an interesting story line, a cool twist at the end, and set a great message above all. 
 
We all hear about bully’s in school and it seems like they are even worse today with all the technology we have at our disposal. “The Bully” reminds us that we don’t always know or understand what someone else is going through, therefore we shouldn’t pick on others to make ourselves feel better. Nathan, the bully in this story, says that those he picks on are his prey and he’s the vulture. This is what his father has taught him. However, someone else offers him some sound advice that he chooses not to take and sure enough the old adage “what goes around comes around” surely comes back to bite Nathan in the rear. 
 
A neat little short short story with a positive message about bullying. 
Book Reviews, Indie Author, Manic Mondays, Review Archives

INSEPARABLE!!

Manic Monday Indie/Self-Published Author Feature 
Week #5
 
Can you imagine losing your twin?
 
Nineteen year old Lily is still struggling with the death of her identical twin, Abby, a year later when she moves away from home for college. Even in death though, their bond is still strong, with Abby visiting Lily in her dreams.
 
When a chance encounter with Twenty-One year old Dane Hansen changes Lily’s life, Lily’s friends warn her off becoming involved with Dane. He’s bad news, according to the rumors, anyway.
 
Dane has experienced loss himself, he understands Lily, and the more time he spends with her, the harder he falls. There is something he hasn’t told her though, something almost nobody knows, and it’s something that might stop Lily from feeling the same way.
 
Abby holds the key to something that will change Lily and Dane’s life forever, but how do you get someone else to believe something you don’t quite understand yourself?
 
Author: Missy Johnson
Title: Inseparable
Genre: New Adult >Contemporary >Romance >Fantasy >Paranormal 
Publication Date: May 2013
Links to Purchase: Amazon
Reviewer: Megan
 
My Review: 2 out of 5 Stars! GOT THROUGH IT!
 
**May contain some minor spoilers**
 
If there is one thing I hate more than anything, it’s not enjoying a book I am reading and then having to write a less than stellar review. However, I promised my readers I would be honest and while the writer in my cringes, the reader/blogger in me knows this comes with the territory of writing reviews.  
 
This was the second book I have reviewed by this author and once again I can say, there was promise when the story began, but it quickly fell short and turned into an awkward rendition of erotica. I will say for the record that I have never been a fan of erotica, but some of is bearable. After reading this book I can honestly say I am not a fan of erotica at all and I truly believe that books should be labeled this way rather than being labeled “romance”.  In my opinion, there is a big difference. 
 
As for the actual storyline, like I said, it had promise. I liked the twin aspect, the actual paranormal storyline… This is what drew me the book.  But then there is a relationship that begins too quickly, turns too sexual and dominates the pages. There were discrepancies from what the author said in one section of the book to something said later. And as I have said before, I typically never critique grammar (only content), but the spelling errors were in abundance. There were times that there were numerous mistakes on a page, and the sentence made no sense because of it. Also, there were times when the author bounces between english slang and british slang and it gets hard to keep track of. 
 
My 2 star rating was because I got through it, but it took much longer than it should have. In the midst of searching for his abducted sister, Dane and Lily are tearing (literally) one another’s clothes off.  I kept reading, because I was fascinated with the paranormal aspect and the abduction. They go to New York, they follow these leads and then BAM…. no climax, nothing… one moment we are preparing for a major bust and then all we get is a two line phone call telling us it’s all over?  I was beyond disappointed. 
 
I don’t want to give away any other spoilers, so I can’t talk about the ending, aside from saying that it did not redeem the story at all in my eyes. This story could have been very fascinating and at first almost reminded me of a paranormal/psychic series of books by famous author Kay Hooper, that I used to love reading… but it fell very short very fast and I truly believe it’s greatest downfall was the erotica. It took away from the storyline that should have focused more on the paranormal aspect while still focusing on Dane and Lily’s relationship, from a more tasteful perspective. 
 
Book Reviews, Indie Author, Review Archives

SHREDDED!!

Drop into the world of girls’ freestyle BMX for an action-packed summer road-trip adventure.
 
Josie Peters thinks she’ll do anything to qualify for the Ultimate BMX freestyle event the summer before her senior year. She can handle road trips and back flips, but when flashy rider R.T. Torres tempts her with an easy “in,” the sacrifices required threaten to send Josie spinning out of control.
 
 
Author: Karen Avivi
Title: Shredded
Genre: Young Adult >Contemporary 
Publication Date: April 2013
Links to Purchase: Barnes & Noble, Amazon
Reviewer: Megan
 
My Review: 5 out of 5 Stars I ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT!!
 
What a Fantastic Story by Karen Avivi!! Okay so maybe I have a soft spot for girls who push the limits with sports that are dubbed “guys sports”, but the storyline, the characters, the flow of the writing – it was all there. I read this book in one sitting. I started it early in the morning over coffee and finished it before my overnight shift at work. It was enthralling, captivating, and kept me intrigued.  There was no real major drama or over the top climax, just a real life look at an extreme sport and the girls who refuse to take no for an answer. 
 
I liked Josie A LOT. She was a strong character and she didn’t get everything handed to her with a big shiny bow. She actually had to work for it. And she worked hard. I am not sure if I would be so eager to get up and keep going after the major wipe out she took. But I loved her guts, I loved her charisma, and I loved that stood up for what she wanted. I liked all of her friends – Lauryn, Alexis, Miguel! They all fit well and brought out something in Josie. Okay, Alexis was a little annoying, but that was the point! I also liked R.T. and I liked that the story didn’t get caught up in major romance. It was nice to see the dynamic of Josie’s family… it was more realistic and as I have said a million times, I love realistic  authenticity! So, another reason I will mention about why I loved this book was how through the whole thing I could see the movie playing in my head… I pictured the characters, the events, the crowds of people… It was so clear!!
 
A little tid bit about me and a final reason why I LOVED this book… I used to skateboard and freestyle rollerblade with a group of guys in junior high into early high school. I was a lot more daring and put together with my rollerblading than I was the skateboard. I never could master keeping it attached to my feet. But the rollerblading, whoa, watch out. I was a psycho on wheels! Ptts… we called ourselves “The Psycho Chickens”.  
 
When Josie would talk about grinding, the half pipe, or jumping stairs, my heart would pound harder as I remembered those days for myself. The feel of the rush as you push harder toward the jump, praying as you fly through the air that you land it – Whoa, it was a blast! Even her infamous wipe out reminded me of a pretty bad fall I took. Nothing broken, just a concussion, but the adrenaline in the situation is intense. Unlike Josie, I was a bit more leery after this fall. I think I was finally aware that I could actually get hurt. 
I’m fascinated by BMX riders, especially girl BMX riders. The level of guts and bravery is exceptional and that is another reason why I loved this book so much. It was a fun, easy read that showed me another sport that girls can excel at as well as reminded and rekindled some of my own childhood memories. Memories, that as I read felt so fresh.  Back then, girls on skateboards was frowned upon. My parents Loathed it and it was the cause of much tension, but like Josie, I didn’t care what other people thought. I loved the way it made me feel and that was all that mattered. 
 
I truly truly hope to see more from this author in the near future. I cannot thank her enough for bringing this fantastic book into my world and letting me write a review. And if she accepts, I think we just might be hearing a lot more from her soon… in the form of an author interview. Because I don’t know about you, but I am beyond intrigued about her knowledge of BMX riders and I just want more!! 
I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves contemporary YA, and who also loves extreme sports and the girls who participate in them. 
Book Reviews, Indie Author, Manic Mondays, Review Archives

SHATTERED!!

Manic Monday Indie/Self-Published Author Feature 
Week #4
 

Identical twins, Miranda and Nastasia Moralez, couldn’t be more different. Being the head of the cheerleading team, Natasia is the most popular girl in the school. Miranda is not, taking photographs in her spare time for the school paper. Life is normal until a tragic accident takes the life of one twin. Miranda quickly realizes that the car crash that took her sister’s life was no accident. It was planned. Now, Miranda has to find out who wanted her sister dead before she succumbs to the same fate.

 
Author: Sandra Madera
Title: Shattered 
Genre: Young Adult >Short Story >Mystery/Suspense 
Publication Date: April 2013
Links to Purchase: Barnes & Noble (Free)
Reviewer: Megan
 
My Review: 4.5 out of 5 Stars 
 
I really enjoyed this short story by Sandra Madera. I thought it was really well written, well put together and had a great plot. I was left in suspense throughout the whole story and found myself liking or disliking characters, that in the end were justified.  There is one detective (all who have read will know who I mean) that I wanted to bitch slap at every turn of the page… being a criminal justice professional myself, I kept thinking who the hell is this (BLEEP) and how is no one keep her in check. Then…. it all became clear. 
 
I LOVED the ending.  I really thought it was fantastic. What a great twist of events and the author did a great job of bringing the whole thing together. It wasn’t predictable at all and kept me guessing. I even judged a couple of the characters, just as the author wanted us to do I’m guessing. 
 
The only thing I didn’t like, but it helped tie the book together, was that these two identical twins seemed to barely know one another. Most twins I know are inseparable, run in the same circles, and are very similar. Not the case with shattered. Like I said though, it helped tie the mystery and suspense together so I get it… but I think I would have liked to see it come from a different angle. Fear maybe? Or threats? So much juicier and SO much more personal had she wanted to tell her and couldn’t… (that’s all I will say about that.)
I highly recommend this fantastic short story to anyone who likes YA Mystery and Suspense!! 

Book Reviews, Indie Author, Review Archives

WHAT I DIDN’T SAY!!

Getting drunk homecoming night your senior year is never a good idea, but Jake Hayes never expected it all to end with a car crash and a t-post embedded in his throat. 
 
His biggest regret about it all? What he never said to Samantha Shay. He’s been in love with her for years and never had the guts to tell her. Now it’s too late. Because after that night, Jake will never be able to talk again.
 
When Jake returns to his small island home, population 5,000, he’ll have to learn how to deal with being mute. He also finds that his family isn’t limited to his six brothers and sisters, that sometimes an entire island is watching out for you. And when he gets the chance to spend more time with Samantha, she’ll help him learn that not being able to talk isn’t the worst thing that could ever happen to you. Maybe, if she’ll let him, Jake will finally tell her what he didn’t say before, even if he can’t actually say it.

Author: Keary Taylor 
Title: What I didn’t Say
Genre: Young Adult >Contemporary > Social Issues > Romance
Publication Date: April 2012
Links to Purchase: Amazon;Barnes & Noble
Reviewer: Megan
 
My Review: 4.5 out of 5 Stars 
 
I really really really liked this book. I almost absolutely loved it… It kept me entertained, hanging on and turning page after page. I loved Jake and Sam, well lets be honest, I liked Jordan, Rain, and Carter too! I think the message in the book is a great one -something we can all learn from. 
Underage drinking has become an epidemic in this county and teens think they are indestructible. I have seen first hand the way a car accident caused by carelessness can destroy lives. My story doesn’t have the same outcome as Jake’s… yes he is mute, but at least he is alive. My personal experience resulted in the death of my best friend. 
 
We all endure hardships in our lives, but it is how we move on from there, what we do to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves on and keep moving forward that defines us. Life is about obstacles and yes, there are some that make us want to give up. I think this was one of the things that made me really enjoy this book. The author shows us how easy this would be for both Sam and Jake- to just give up and say who cares. But, that’s the cowardly way out and it takes a bigger person, a stronger person to keep moving forward. 
 
I felt connected to Jake and Samantha as people. They both went through some major life struggles at such a young age, but their perseverance was up-lifting. The way they learn to lean on one another is also touching. Their friendship wasn’t over the top or unrealistic, which made it that much better for me. They were genuine, honest, and real. 
 
There wasn’t anything I didn’t like about this book… no gripes or rants I need to go on. Oh wait, okay maybe one… but this seems like a constant pattern for me… I wanted an epilogue. LOL. I was hoping to see a glimpse of Jake in college or later on in his life. However, not having this, in NO WAY changed my opinion of the book.  This book was great. It will leave a lasting impression on me forever. I was impressed by the authors portrayal of Orcas, of her character development, and her rich storytelling! 
 
 I highly recommend this book, you will no be sorry you read it!