30 June 2013

Blast from the Past review: Demon Kissed by H.M. Ward

What they say: The Valefar boy tricked Ivy Taylor into kissing him, but he took much more than a kiss - he stole her soul and left her within inches of death. By surviving, Ivy is drawn into the conflict between the Martis and the Valefar. The war between these two immortal forces has raged for millennia without distraction. Until now.

Ivy is an anomaly-she is the only person who has ever walked away from a demon kiss alive. Her survival gives her unique and deadly abilities. Too powerful to ignore, Ivy is a threat to both armies. These two ancient enemies will stop at nothing to kill the seventeen-year-old.

Surviving is nothing new for headstrong Ivy, but her survival has never depended on another person before. This time it does. And if she misplaces her trust, she's dead. To her horror, she starts falling in love at the worst possible time-with the enemy. He appears to be protecting her. But she can't be certain if he is trying to help her, or help himself to her power. For Ivy, trusting the right person is the difference between love and survival, or a deadly demon kiss.

What I say: Demon Kissed is the first book in H.M. Ward's series focusing on the war between Martis (good guys with Angel blood) and the Valefar (soulless baddies who have demon blood). After Ivy is attacked by her sort-of-boyfriend Jake (a Valefar), she finds out about the existence of these immortal creatures and her place in their world. Ivy is a Martis (sort of) who has a unique set of powers and a terrifying destiny.
Poor Ivy is having one hell of a time of it in this book. Her sister is dead, her best friend Collin is being weird, Jake tried to take her soul, and almost everyone around her seems to have an agenda. To top it off she is struggling to deal with her sisters death and is forced into an eternal battle between creatures she didn't know existed.
I did find Ivy a bit sulky and irritating at first, but she definitely grew on me as the book progressed. A couple of the characters reminded me of those from Abbi Glines's Existence series (I had Nicole pegged from the start, she was very similar to Leif's cheerleader girlfriend in Existence).
I really wanted to know what Eric was going to reveal to Ivy and if Julia has an agenda; she seemed really shifty to me! I liked Collin and felt really sorry for him, but I couldn't completely trust his motives because he kept so many secrets from Ivy.
I have to admit that I initially started reading Demon Kissed because of the pretty cover and it being on sale on Amazon, but I'm glad I read it and that I stuck with it. Demon Kissed definitely gets better as it goes along and the dramatic tension increases as Ward introduces more action and many twists. I'm looking forward to discovering where Ward takes this series.

3.5 Stars in my Sky!

My fav non-spoilery quotes:
  • Stupidly, I thought he seemed like a sweet guy, who cared about me. That made the blindsiding attack that bitch-slapped me much worse.
  • "I do lust after you in every way possible. I just can't have you in any way possible. It royally blows."
  • At this point my only friends were a demon kissed boy, and a nun.

28 June 2013

BLOG TOUR + REVIEW: Play with Me and Ryan Hunter by Piper Shelly

Piper Shelly proves there are always at least two sides to a story...
YA Romance

Book #1 Play with Me is Liza's story

Book #2 Ryan Hunter - This Girl is Mine revisits the story from Ryan's POV

Grover Beach Team Novellas.

What they say about Play With Me:

Ryan Hunter's parties are legend.
And tonight she's going to be there.
Liza Matthews anticipates the return of her best friend and only love since kindergarten from soccer camp. But when Tony finally shows up, his mind is more focused on another girl. And worse, she's a soccer player. Fighting for the attention Liza craves, she's just a hairbreadth away from making a very stupid decision. But when extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures, she's prepared to play ball to get her man.
The tryouts are hell, the first match ends bloody, and the morning after the selection party she wakes up in the worst place possible—in the arms of the captain of the soccer team. The hottest guy in school. Ryan Hunter.

What they say about Ryan Hunter - This Girl is Mine: 
Ryan Hunter kissed more girls than he cares to remember. But the only one he ever wanted is in love with his best friend. Watching Liza Matthews’ obsession with Tony Mitchell is a torture Ryan conceals from everyone. Until after a five-week soccer camp, where Tony gets involved with someone else, things suddenly take a different turn. Ryan knows if he doesn’t make a move now and grab his chance, he might never get another.
Asked by Tony to distract Liza, Ryan is only too happy. He subtly seduces her first into his soccer team and later on to his party. He does all in his power to make her see that he’s not just an insufferable playboy but a guy who really cares about her. Some one-on-one soccer training, a passionate kiss— things seem to be going the way he wants. Except Ryan didn’t reckon on his best friend showing up at the worst possible moment and destroying everything…
Where to buy: PLAY WITH ME - Amazon US  RYAN HUNTER - Amazon US

What I say (joint review):
I first read Play with Me last year and I loved it! As somebody who always wants to read the guys POV you can imagine how giddy I was to discover Piper Shelly had written Ryan's story and given him his own book. 
Play with Me is Liza Matthews' story. Liza is in love with her best friend and next door neighbour Tony. It's pretty much accepted (by Liza at least) that Liza and Tony will eventually get together and live happily ever after. Everything changes when Tony gets together with Chloe at soccer camp, and Liza is left devastated. Enter Ryan Hunter, the captain of the soccer team and Tony's friend (I'm British & you don't know how much it pains me to call football soccer).
Ryan motivates and supports Liza, helping her with not only soccer training, but also teaching her to go after what she wants and be more assertive (although perhaps if he had taken his own advice he could have saved everybody a whole world of pain). Ryan Hunter - This Girl is Mine is great because it allows the reader to see how he really feels about Liza, Tony and their situation. A lot of his inner thoughts came as a surprise, and even with his family's wealth I found myself feeling sorry for him.
In Play with Me I found Tony annoying and selfish and it was great to hear Ryan thinking along similar lines. By giving Ryan his own book/novella the reader can see him as a more developed character and it was nice to see him interacting with his family and other friends. It was actually really cute to see Ryan being insecure and love-struck.
For anybody who might be thinking Shelly is simply retelling the same story, then think again. She has actually created a different story following the same plot. Ryan Hunter has more scenes than Play with Me and the story is extended. Shelly has created a cute story of first love, and shows how people often ignore the obvious! Clean, YA fun, to make you smile.
For both books I'm giving 4 Stars in my Sky!
Instead of quotes here is an excerpt from Ryan Hunter:
She nodded, and it was clear that the little distance we’d run so far had troubled her a lot more than me. She sounded like a pair of bellows. As soon as we reached the beach, Liza slumped to the sand as though she had no life left in her any more.

That was not part of the plan. I stood over her, hands on my hips, and gazed at her reddened face. “What are you doing?”
I liked how she made me chuckle with such simple things. “No, you’re not. Get up, we’re not done.”
I am,” she protested. “But don’t mind me. You just go on. I’m sure in a few hours someone will come and scrape me off the pavement.” She waved a dismissive hand. “Dig me out of the sand. Whatever.”
Laughing about her antics, I squatted down and started to untie her shoes for what was to come next. We weren’t done yet.
“Hey, what the heck—” She pulled her leg away. “You don’t steal from a dying person.”
I surrendered, lifting my hands, palms up. “Fine, then take them off yourself.”
“What?” Her mouth sagged open as she propped on her elbows in the sand and looked at me with wide eyes. “Why?” Then her gaze moved to the sea and her lips spread in a hopeful grin. “We’re going to take a swim now to cool off after the training?”
“Nope,” I said, though she put a very beguiling thought in my head right then. I could be swayed to some fooling around in the water with her. But then this would be too much of a temptation. Kisses came along with such nonsense. And I had sworn to myself that I wouldn’t do that until she knew the truth about Mitchell. After a longing glance at the sea, I faced her again and said with a firm voice that wouldn’t get me into trouble, “The little run was only warm-up. The training begins here.”
All color disappeared from her face. “You can’t be serious.”
“What are you willing to bet on it?”
She grimaced and sighed, but I’d figured out by now, my word counted to her, and she slipped her shoes off to hide them with mine by the rocks. I wondered if it was just the captain she saw in me, or if she wanted to make a good impression because she saw me, the nice guy, and therefore stuck with me.
Only a few minutes later, she made clear I wasn’t a nice guy to her as she shot me a look filled with loathing. “Do your parents know about this sadistic side of yours?”
I remembered the first time that I had run on the beach for training. Her calves probably hurt like mad. But she had to get through this. We wanted to turn her into a kick-ass soccer player. I tugged gently at her high ponytail. “What can I say? You bring out my best side.”
“Ah, great. I feel so special now.” Liza shoved my shoulder, and I laughed as I struggled to steady myself with my feet sinking into the soft sand. “How far are we going?” she demanded.
“I never ran this route before, but I guess it’s about a half-mile. You know the houses at Misty Beach?”
“Your parents own a house down there?”
“Yep.” It was a nice little thing compared to the mansion we lived in, and I really liked to come out here after training on weekends and study or read on the wrap-around veranda. My dad had set up a porch swing for Rachel and me when we were kids, and it was the perfect place to relax and enjoy a warm summer day.
We still had a bit of a way in front of us, and when Misty Beach came into view, I thought Liza wouldn’t endure another step. She licked her lips, and her lungs made a weird, gasping sound. “I swear I’m going to drink up the ocean,” she cried.
“Chin up, Matthews. We’re almost there.” I grabbed her upper arm when she stumbled and didn’t let her stop just yet, dragging her along with me the last few meters. As I led her up to our bungalow, her face lit up, seriously proud of herself. And I was, too.
There was always a set of keys in the potted plant on the broad railing. I fished them out and let us in. The door slammed shut behind us.
While Liza stood rooted in the living room, her gaze traveling over the couch, wide-screen TV, and especially over the bookshelf, I headed into the sun-fused kitchen. From the fridge, I grabbed two bottles of water and tossed one at Liza.
She guzzled the water down as if she came equipped with a camel hump, then she wiped her lips with the back of her hand. “So, great tormentor, why did we run on the beach? Was it just for your personal pleasure to see me suffer?”
My personal pleasure would be to see her strip naked right now. Rolling my eyes at her, I smiled. “Why do you think so badly of me?”
“I don’t know.” She left her spot on the wall and leaned her delicious butt against the backrest of the couch. As she folded her arms over her chest, it gave her words that sweet edge of sarcasm. “Maybe because I lost my lungs somewhere on the way? Or because my legs are on fire?”
“Oh, come on now,” I teased her. “We jogged over two miles and you’re still standing. That’s great. And running in the sand will strengthen your legs a lot better than the pavement. Since we only run on grass at soccer, you need to get used to the additional—”
Smart-ass. “Exactly.” I walked toward her and gently swiped her sweaty bangs out of her eyes. Every time I touched her, I could think about nothing else than a first, tender kiss. Something in her look told me she was becoming aware of it, too. Breaking our locked gazes, I took the empty bottle out of her hands and tossed it along with mine into the trashcan. Then I stiffened at the sound of footsteps on the porch.
Shit. That was my mom.
My glance skidded to the door then back at Liza. Not a good moment to have her here. Liza seemed equally shocked, but maybe just because I sort of panicked right in front of her. There was not time for an explanation. As my mom’s key rattled in the lock, I started toward Liza and tried not to hurt her when I knocked her backward over the couch. We landed on the cushions together, then I rolled to the side and pulled her down to the hard wooden floor with me, out of my mom’s sight. Hands down, Liza landing on top of me was the summit of my dreams, but it also pushed all air out of my lungs.
As she scowled down at me, I could feel her warm breath on my face, and it made me harden underneath her. So not what I had planned, dammit. I clamped down on my jaw and fought for control. But I didn’t think she noticed, although something in her expression softened for a millisecond. Like she was surprised about what she saw there in my eyes.
“Who is it?” she hissed, then and her gaze turned annoyed once again.
“Can only be my mom,” I whispered back and suppressed a moan then shoved her off of me. It was safer for both of us if she didn’t stay on top of me in this unbelievable turn-me-on position. I squeezed her in between the couch and me and placed one hand over her mouth to keep her silent while my mom carried several boxes into the kitchen. “She’s stocking the fridge.”
As my lips brushed against her ear, Liza closed her eyes. Her warm breath caressed the back of my hand. I smiled. Enjoying it, was she? What the hell stopped me from kissing around her ear a little just to make her sigh like that again? Ah right, noise drifting from behind the couch did.
A few seconds later, Liza pulled my hand away from her lips. “Why are we hiding here?”
Because things like girls were a complicated issue with my folks and me. “My parents don’t like me bringing random girls to this place. Unless you want to be introduced as my girlfriend, I suggest you stay down.”
She didn’t move. Okay, being introduced as my girlfriend wasn’t her goal, however much it was mine. But I really didn’t want to answer questions from my mom, so I appreciated Liza’s silent agreement.
It didn’t take long until my mom was done and left the bungalow. Just to be sure, I waited another minute before I got to my feet.
Liza breathed a relieved sigh. She wouldn’t take my hand when I offered to help her up, but remained lying, legs bent, feet on the floor, and folded her arms behind her head. “You sure your dad isn’t on his way, too?”
“Yes, I’m sure.” Silly little girl. She always made me laugh with her cynicism. “He never comes here during the week.” Ignoring her belligerent behavior, I reached down for her hand and pulled. “Get up.”
Rising, she patted invisible dust off her bum. “Next time you feel the need to knock me over, I’d appreciate a little warning first.”
If that is all it takes to drag her down with me… “Gotcha!”
I went to the bathroom in the back of the house, right next to my bedroom, and fetched a fresh towel from the shelf. Walking back to the front, I wiped my face and neck with it then tossed it at Liza so she could towel off, too.
She caught it, then looked at the terry cloth with a wry face. “Ew.”
Ew? Seriously? I stopped, turning to her, and wanted to tell her that she was now a soccer player and not running for Miss California.
But her snappy tongue was faster than mine. “I don’t know how a little running together got us to that level of intimacy.”
It just does. Deal with it. She got my arching of a brow as an answer and, ignoring her grimace, I walked out on the porch and slumped down on the swing. It took only half a minute until she followed me, and hey, she was rubbing her neck with my used towel.
She tossed it back at me with a hard thrust. I caught it before the bundle smacked me in the face.
“Let’s go back,” she muttered.
Already? I didn’t want to just yet. “Are we in a hurry, Matthews?”
She looked around uncomfortably, clearly not in the mood to hang out in the swing, then decided to park her sexy body against the post next to the wooden steps that led down to the beach. “Not really. But I won’t stay in a place where I have to sign a marriage license to be welcome,” she snapped.
Was she still scared because of my mom? “She won’t come back.”
“I don’t care.” She cast me a glare that spelled Come back with me or drop dead.


Author Bio: Wow, this is always the hardest part for me to write…don’t know why. You would think talking about my life should be easier.

I was born and raised in Austria. Half my life I spent in Vienna, but I didn’t like the city. I much prefer the beautiful countryside, with its many meadows and the breathtaking Alps. That’s why I moved to Upper Austria right after graduation. There are trees now in front of my window instead of just another ugly gray building, and I love to be woken by the cacophony of birds every morning.

At seventeen, I met the love of my life, but it took another four years until we finally got together. It was the best decision I could have made. I’m now married to this man, and I count myself lucky for someone like him. Even I will admit it can be hard at times to live with me. I’m moody and tend to lapse into my fantasy world at any given minute—well in my defense, I’m a writer. :-)

We have a ten-year-old son, and together we travel a lot…although I sometimes wish the trips were shorter because I can’t wait to get back to my laptop and WIP. Yeah, that’s just me. I built my world around my passion, and I like it that way. So, you see, I’m leading a pretty normal life.

Of course it will all change the day my book follows the act of Harry Potter, and I’ll become richer than the Queen. I swear I’ll never again clean my windows myself then. Yeah, one day, LOL…
Where to find Piper: Website / Facebook

27 June 2013

ARC Review+BLOG TOUR: Playing For Keeps by Emma Hart

What they say: She's in love with him. He's trying not to love her. One night changes everything.

Aston Banks never meant to get close to Megan Harper – not even for that one night. Haunted by a childhood he refuses to face, he knew she could break through every wall he’d ever built and tear them down without even realizing she was doing it.

Betraying Braden by starting a relationship with Aston wasn’t on Megan’s to-do list, but the second she sees a glimpse of someone other than the arrogant ass she’s come to know, she can’t walk away.

Aston’s childhood is worse than Megan ever guessed, but as he tries and fails to push her away, it’s clear her love is stronger than the demons that cling to him every day. And now, because of it, he finally has to deal with what he’s buried deep down.

What he doesn’t want to face. What he’s fought against for so long. And they have to do it all without Braden finding out. Keeping a relationship secret has never been harder.

By day, New York Times and USA Today bestselling New Adult author Emma Hart dons a cape and calls herself Super Mum to a terrible two year old and growing bump, due September 2013. By night, she drops the cape, pours a glass of juice and writes books.
Emma is working on Top Secret projects she will share with her followers and fans at every available opportunity. Naturally, all Top Secret projects involve a dashingly hot guy who likes to forget to wear a shirt, a sprinkling (or several) of hold-onto-your-panties hot scenes, and a whole lotta love.
She likes to be busy - unless busy involves doing the dishes, but that seems to be when all the ideas come to life.
Find Emma online at: Blog / Facebook / Twitter

Playing for Keeps excerpt:

“You okay?”
I shake my head. “No. Every time. Every fucking time he brings her up. I thought he wouldn’t in front of you, but he did.”
“He has his own pain,” she says softly. “It doesn’t excuse it, but he does. He feels guilty for what happened to you – that he couldn’t stop it.”
My mind reels for a second and I look down at her. “He told you that?”
She nods, letting her hand drop from my back and standing in front of me. I stop.
“You’ve never let him tell you.” She reaches up and cups my face. “He hurts, too, Aston. You both hurt. It’s not something that will go away, but you can’t let it rule your lives. If you let pain rule you you’ll get lost in it.”
“What if I’m already lost?”
“You’re not lost. You’re hiding, but you’re not lost. I won’t let you get lost.”
I let my hands come up and rest on her back, pulling her into me. “What if there’s no map?”
“Then I’ll get lost with you,” she whispers. “I won’t let you let them win, Aston. I won’t let you get sucked in by those demons. I won’t let that happen. I care too much.”
And she does. I can hear it in her voice.
She wraps her arms around my neck, and I hold her to me tighter, our foreheads resting against each other.
“I’ll try, Megs,” I promise. “I can’t say I won’t, but as long as you’re here, I think I’ll be okay.”
“And you’ll talk to your Gramps? Just once?”
“I’ll think about it. How about we just focus on stopping me from getting lost for a bit?”
“You just need a place to aim for, that’s all. You need a place to go to.”
“Go on then.” I smile. “Give me a place.”
“Okay.” She pauses for a second, closing her eyes and chewing her lip.
“I’m waiting…” I tease her.
Her blue eyes open, shocking me with their vitality. “Aim for the moon, because even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”
“I don’t need to aim for the sky. The only star I’ll ever need is standing right in front of me.” I brush my lips over hers. “Maybe the place I need to aim for is nowhere other than where I am right now.”
“Maybe I’d go with you wherever you ended up.”
“Maybe I’d never ask that of you.”
“Maybe you wouldn’t need to ask. Maybe you’ll never need to ask me for anything, because I’ll always be here.”
You can read the first chapter of Playing For Keeps on Emma's website!

Playing For Keeps Purchase Links:
I received an ARC of Playing For Keeps in exchange for an honest review!
What I say: I really enjoyed Playing For Keeps because it provided a great mixture of the hot and sexy I expected, but also some genuinely moving moments!

Playing For Keeps is told in split POV focusing on Megan and Aston. If you've read The Love Game (and if you haven't then you REALLY should), you'll remember Megan is Bray's lifelong best friend/little-sister figure and Aston is his man-whore Frat buddy!

Braden is extremely overprotective of Megan and has instigated a don't look and definitely don't touch policy when it comes to guys and her. The book begins with Megan making the most of Bray's absence by getting close to Aston. Reading the events unfolding from both Megan and Aston's POV worked really well because it helps to understand their blossoming relationship when you can literally see their thoughts.
Aston had far more depth to him than I expected and I have to admit his past was really sad (cue snivelling)! I really liked the introduction of Aston's Gramps; he provided some really funny moments and some really poignant ones too. Aston was like the gift which keeps on giving; not only is he hot, but he's also really caring and thoughtful under all the frat boy swagger!
All power to Megan, because although (to her own admission) she didn't have a horrible childhood and can never hope fully understand Aston's suffering, she truly gets him. Megan really went out of her way to help Aston and never gave up on him.
I do think both Aston and Megan used the Braden issue as an excuse to cover their feelings and as an easy get out plan. Bray's overprotectiveness (although understandable at times) personally would have driven me round the twist, although I supposed nobody knows how untrustworthy a man-whore can be than a former man-whore like Braden! Maddie has done a great job of softening Braden, it's nice to see them living their HEA!
Playing For Keeps is a great follow up and if contemporary New Adult books are your thing, heck even if they're not, then give the book a try!
4 Stars in my Sky!
My fav non-spoilery quotes:
  • "What if I was in a book?" he grins. "Would I be your book boyfriend?"
  • "He offered to teach me the difference between a slapped ass and a spanked one," I mutter. "He's an ass."
  • "I thought we could go riding." "I get the feeling we're not talking about bedroom riding."

Playing For Keeps Book Playlist:

In case you haven't already got a copy of book #1 The Love Game then you can purchase it here:

ICYMI you can check out my review of The Love Game!



26 June 2013

Waiting on Wednesday: Allegiant by Veronica Roth

Waiting on Wednesday is my weekly post where I obsess over the shiny new books that I cannot wait to read!

This week, I'm waiting on... Allegiant (Divergent #3) by Veronica Roth

What they say: One choice will define you.What if your whole world was a lie?
What if a single revelation—like a single choice—changed everything?
What if love and loyalty made you do things you never expected?

The explosive conclusion to Veronica Roth’s #1 New York Times bestselling Divergent trilogy reveals the secrets of the dystopian world that has captivated millions of readers in Divergent and Insurgent.
  • Expected publication: October 22nd 2013 by HarperCollins Children's Books

Why I'm Waiting on Allegiant:

  1. Er have you not read books 1 and 2?
  2. Will Tris stop the corruption?
  3. Will Tris and Four ever...?
  4. I love Veronica's writing style and world building.
  5. I cannot wait to see how this story ends.

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