Wednesday, January 22, 2014

{A Kelly Coffee Review} The Return by Brad Boney

Title: The Return
Author: Brad Boney
Publisher: DreamSpinner Press
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Male/Male Romance
Publication Date: July 5, 2013

Music. Topher Manning rarely thinks about anything else, but his day job as a mechanic doesn't exactly mesh with his rock star ambitions. Unless he can find a way to unlock all the songs in his head, his band will soon be on the fast track to obscurity.

Then the South by Southwest music festival and a broken-down car drop New York critic Stanton Porter into his life. Stanton offers Topher a ticket to the Bruce Springsteen concert, where a hesitant kiss and phantom vibrations from Topher's cell phone kick off a love story that promises to transcend ordinary possibility.

Okay, so the holiday kind of ate my life and I haven't had much time to read/listen to anything since November. However, today I was called for jury duty selection, which involved sitting around for almost the whole day, giving me a chance to get caught up on some reading. 

As you can see from the publication date, this one has been on my to-read list for a while. So, you may remember my review of Brad Boney's The Nothingness of Ben two years ago. In that review, I praised the building of the love story, the pacing and the dialogue. The Return shows us that it wasn't a fluke. 

The Return takes place in the same world as The Nothingness of Ben and even includes cameos and supporting roles from most of Ben's cast, but they are not (that I can find) listed as part of the same series, and it can be read independently just fine. 

I have had this book bought and downloaded pretty much since the day it came out. But it also came out when I was in the middle of the Wheel of Time books and when I started doing most of my reading via audiobooks on my commute. Today, literally locked in a room with strangers that I wasn't encouraged to engage with and no internet access, was the perfect excuse to get some reading caught up on.

I did not expect to read this whole book today, but I could not put it down. The rhythm and pacing of this book is different than Ben. In fact, I was a little worried when I began reading. While dialogue is one of the author's greatest strengths, some of the dialogue in the beginning of the book is a little choppy and could stand some more narrative interruption. I was also confused by a flashback chapter early in the book, and it took a couple of those chapters to figure out why they were there. 

One of the things the synopsis doesn't warn you about is the fact that this romance is what is usually called a May-December romance, meaning there is a significant age difference between Topher and Stanton. Usually May-December romances aren't my thing, and it was a bit of a surprise, but there's a really good reason for it and I fully embraced it.

Though the first 6-7% of the book was not quite as smooth as I expected, there are ways in which I think that The Return may even surpass Ben. Where Ben crafted a relationship beautifully, showing its evolution and life with a care and development that I think is so often missing from "romance" novels, The Return shows less the development of the relationship and more the emotional journey of two people who are inexplicably drawn together and trying to reconcile those feelings with both past issues and the realities of a relationship between two people with such a significant age difference (Topher is 26 and Stanton is 50). 

Here, it is not just about the relationship, there is the building of a world and a mythology within that world. There are some paranormal elements in this book, but I don't want to say anything else. Seeing it unravel and putting the pieces together myself from the unexpected twist was so much fun, I do not want to spoil, but I will give this teaser:

"Have you ever heard of the I Ching?"

"No. Why?"

"It's a book of Chinese philosophy. It explores the idea that everything happens for a reason, that nothing in the universe is random."

With Ben, there was great sympathy with the couple who seem to make sense but they make real and relatable mistakes with each other. There is something about The Return that evokes less sympathy and more heartbreak. I mourned with these characters, my heart wrenched for them... I cried. There is an innate tragedy in Topher and Stanton's story that takes a while to unravel, but once it does, watching them struggle is really heartbreaking. The resolution is beautiful, leaving you with relief, satisfaction and joy which almost cause happy tears. I blasted through this 350-page book today and all I want is more from Boney. More of this world. More of this mythology. More of these characters. I love them all.

5 stars for both narrative crafting and sheer emotional impact. Next book in this world is due out sometime this year. I'm not waiting six months to read it this time.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

{Book Review} Rome by Jay Crownover

Title: Rome
Series: Marked Men #3
Author: Jay Crownover
Publisher: Willow Marrow
Publication Date: January 7, 2014


Sometimes the wrong choice can be just right . . .

Fun and fearless, Cora Lewis knows how to keep her tattooed "bad boy" friends at the Marked in line. But beneath all that flash and sass is a broken heart. Cora won't let herself get burned again. She's waiting to fall in love with the perfect man—a baggage-free, drama-free guy ready for commitment. Then she meets Rome Archer.

Rome Archer is as far from perfect as a man can be. He's stubborn, rigid, and bossy. And he's returned from his final tour of duty more than a little broken. Rome's used to filling many roles: big brother, doting son, supersoldier—but none of those fit anymore. Now he's just a man trying to figure out what to do with the rest of his life while keeping the dark demons of war and loss at bay. He would have been glad to suffer through it alone, until Cora comes sweeping into his life and becomes a blinding flash of color in a sea of gray. Perfect may not be in the cards, but perfectly imperfect could just last forever . . .

Due to explicit sexual content, not recommended for readers under the age of 17.

Jay Crownover is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors with her sexy, action-packed, tattoo parlor filled with all sorts of broken playboys. Rome, brother to Rule and retired soldier in the Army, isn't in the tattoo business, but spent many years of his life protecting others: Rule & Remy, Shaw, and an entire country's freedoms. He's had a difficult time forgiving himself for not protecting Remy from a terrible car accident that claimed his life, even though Rome was away fighting a war.

When Rome returns home after his tour, he finds himself having trouble fitting in. Everyone has moved on with their lives. Rule has straightened his life out and has taken over the role of protecting Shaw, he's furious with his parents because of a secret they kept from him and Rule, and those nightmares that keep haunting his sleep leave him tired, cranky, and lost. Lucky for him, there's a girl who can handle all of him. The good, bad, and the ugly. Now he only needs to trust her.

Cora continues to be one of my favorite characters in this series. She's all girl with a side of kick ass, and this little pixie with her different colored eyes are just what Rome needs to put a smile back on his face. People should really stop doubting Cora's ability to take care of herself. The girl has some moves!

I'm going to admit to crying more than once during this novel. Jay ratcheted up the action three-fold, threw in several twists I never saw coming, and made me fall in love with this extended family more than I already had. I especially enjoyed learning more about Remy, although the amount of tears shed will never be divulged. I will admit to not being a big fan of an all too common trope being used entirely too often lately, but Jay found a unique way to make it work.

I highly recommend the Marked Men series to anyone looking for a few bad boys slowly finding their ways to the women they love. Rome's book is slightly more intense than Rule or Jet, but so very good.

Reading Order:
Rule (Amazon buy link)
Jet (Amazon buy link)
Rome (Amazon buy link)

Saturday, January 11, 2014

{Book Review} Lucky Number Four by Amanda Jason

Title: Lucky Number Four
Author: Amanda Jason
Published by: C.A. Kunz LLC
Publication Date: January 5, 2014
Genre: New Adult


Pandora Ann Phillips' life is just normal-crazy

Her mom's a psychic, her dad's mom is a snob, her mom's parental units are "too down to earth" and her best friends are newlyweds. Okay, so her best friends being newlyweds isn't really abnormal, but living with them in a cramped two-bedroom apartment definitely is. Sex, sex, sex is totally on their minds. Actually it's not only on their minds, but it's on the kitchen table, couch, on top of the washer...well, you get the picture.

Being a celibate (not by choice, mind you) full-time college student, and an almost full-time barista, Pandora can't afford to lose anymore sleep. So, she seeks out a new place to lay her head. Enter three "drool worthy" male models that are looking for a fourth roommate and they want her...and won't take no for an answer.

Hilarity ensues as Pandora's life turns completely upside down, and she begins to wonder if it will ever be the same again!

Man, I had to scroll up and hide those enigmas on the cover so I could concentrate on my review and ignore the three brutally handsome men's lips smirking at me. Talk about sidetracked. Wowza!

I think I bought into the hype a little too much on this one, not to say it wasn't cute and funny and an all together good read, I just expected so much more from a story of three men and one woman sharing an apartment. I waited for hijinks to ensue, the boys bringing girls home at all hours of the night, heck, even all three of them fighting for her attention, but none of that happened. Not once, and it made me sad.

What did not make me sad is the actual interaction I experiences through multiple characters in the book.

Pandora decides to take a gander at a loft apartment she found advertised in a grocery store, hoping to find somewhere she can study and sleep without the oohs and aahs of sex creeping into every second of her day. Her newly married roommates haven't moved past the honeymoon stage yet, and she's going insane. And seeing her best friend's penis when she wanted a drink late one night gave her the creeps. She needed a new place to live, but being a broke college student didn't leave her with many options, so she chanced the before mentioned apartment.

Once introduced to the three yummy men, they wanted her as their roommate, no one else, so they resorted to bribery and just a little bit of blackmail. By the time she finished talking with Drew, she realized he'd offered Kevin and Julie, her best friends, an apartment in another part of the building and they'd accepted, so she literally had nowhere to live, except with three exceptionally hot men. How her life must suck!

Throughout the book, we catch a glimpse of which of the guys might be interested in her, and honestly, if you look at all the clues, you'll figure it out far before she does.

I'm going to interject something here... I'm getting a little tired of every girl in every book I read thinking she's nothing special. Come on guys, let's write about some girls who have some self-esteem. It's perfectly okay to think you're pretty, actually, it's healthy, because when Dora decides to tell her roommates they only want to hang with her because they've taken her on as a charity case, I wanted to scream. And to have to hear another friend say "you really don't see yourself, do you?" sends me running in another direction.

These are three famous models. They wouldn't hang out with you if they didn't want to. Pandora wasn't their kid sister, or even kid sister's best friend.


Once Pandora finds out who her admirer is, it's off for some fun in the sun, but not before some unprotected sex in the bed. This is becoming a trope I'm tired of reading about. Maybe it hits too close to home, I don't know. But getting pregnant out of wedlock was not as fun as these authors make it seem. The guy rarely says "Oh Happy Day" and does the Snoopy dance even when they've been dating for years, much less a couple of months, and the girl, well, I, personally, was a complete mess.


Outside of what I revealed in the spoiler sections, there were definitely some twists and turns I never saw coming, and yes, my eyes teared up once or twice. There was a lot of "tell" and not enough "show" in Lucky Number Four. And while I know what happened to two of the three guys, I'm left wondering about one. He seems to have just disappeared somewhere near the end.

Would I recommend this book to a friend? Absolutely, after a warning that the hype around it has been built up, and if you're looking for a steamy, sexy read, this might not be it. If you're looking for something fun and entertaining... go for it!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Bout of Book Read-a-Than 9.0 Goals

Eeps! Goals, oh my! I'm so bad at these, but here goes!

Bout of Books

Time Devoted to Reading

I will be reading everyday, this isn't really a challenge for me as I read each night before bed anyway.

My Goals

I plan on finishing Lucky Number Four by Amanda Jason. I'm really enjoying the story so far. Then who knows what I'll read. I know I will start Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi and possibly Angelfall by Susan Ee, but I'm not really certain. I also plan on participating in as many of the challenges as possible.

Books to Read

Lucky Number Four 
Under the Never Sky


Who's Doing Bout of Books?

ME! I messed everything up the last time I tried to do Bout of Books, but I've been very careful and I am going to read my rear end off over the next couple of days.

Bout of Books

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, January 6th and runs through Sunday, January 12th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 9.0 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team
Goals to come!!!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

{Waiting on Wednesdays} Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Title: Maybe Someday
Author: Colleen Hoover

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Colleen Hoover, a passionate tale of friendship, betrayal, and romance—and the enchanting music that inspires one young woman to put her life back together.

At twenty-two years old, aspiring musician Sydney Blake has a great life: She’s in college, working a steady job, in love with her wonderful boyfriend, Hunter, and rooming with her good friend, Tori. But everything changes when she discovers Hunter cheating on her with Tori—and she is left trying to decide what to do next.

Sydney becomes captivated by her mysterious neighbor, Ridge Lawson. She can’t take her eyes off him or stop listening to the daily guitar playing he does out on his balcony. She can feel the harmony and vibrations in his music. And there’s something about Sydney that Ridge can’t ignore, either: He seems to have finally found his muse. When their inevitable encounter happens, they soon find themselves needing each other in more ways than one…

Colleen Hoover has become one of my favorite authors to date. Slammed being my favorite of her books, but she'll remain one of my automatic buy authors forever!!! 

Have you read any of her books? If so, which is your favorite? If not, what are you waiting for?

Happy 2014 from Better Read Than Dead

Well, the New Year is upon us, and I for one couldn't be more excited to put this year behind me and usher in a fresh and joyous new start.

Just before Christmas, my husband lost his job of 22 years and reality is finally starting to set in. I've never been particularly superstitious, but as he lost his job on Friday December 13th, 2013, I may find myself being a little more leery around things involving the number 13, so bring on 2014. Of course, life moves on and we persevere. Our family always has and will always continue to do so.

While 2013 ended in disaster, there are also so many things I'm thankful for. Tried & true friends like Robin, Kelly M, and my girls at Starbooks, especially the Mafia. Brand new friends like Francesca. Series finales such as Goddess by Josephine Angelini, Allegient by Veronica Roth (though I haven't read it yet), and so many others. CATCHING FIRE blew my mind and Jennifer Lawrence continues to entertain me in her movies and interviews. I've discovered some of the best music in years: Fun., Imagine Dragons—Demons being my current personal anthem, Thirty Seconds to Mars new album: LOVE LUST FAITH + DREAMS. And last, but certainly not least, my husband and two daughters. Without them, I couldn't, wouldn't be here.

And each and every single one of my followers for sticking with me!

There are so many things I'm looking forward to in the year to come. New books, new movies, new projects, and new friends! I mean DIVERGENT is coming to the big screen, the final Mortal Instruments book—The City of Heavenly Fire—releases, I personally will be querying for agents and publishers, and with all those things I hope to find new people who share my passions for books, movies, writing, and music. There'll be changes to the blog and amazing reviews to share.

I'm not one for New Year's Resolutions, in reality they're promises begging to be broken. All I wish is to be a better person, more goal oriented and patient, than in the past.

With that... I wish each of you a HAPPY NEW YEAR & may all your dreams come true!


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