Every time I finish a book, I like to think about the things that made the book memorable to me. What was it that spoke to me. With at any moment it would have to be the prevailing themes; love, loss, and finally redemption. Those are things that stick out the most when you read this book from the Gaming the system series. The story picks up a few days after Adam finds out Mia’s secrets. Almost immediately you come to see that they are each walking on egg shells just to get through the day. Avoiding the proverbial landlines in their relationship that they haven’t yet figured out how to deal with. Mia is not in the best head space at the start, she has a great deal of guilt that she is allowing to override her judgement. So her reactions to things are born out of fear and guilt rather than having been thought out logically. Adam by contrast is burying his emotions and avoiding his own feelings in a single minded attempt to get them through this hurdle. While his approach it admirable it keeps him from having a settled relationship with Mia that he wants. They each have profound love for each other but they can’t seem to get past the things that have happened in their pasts. Mia is very vulnerable and Adam doesn’t want to take advantage of that where she will have more regrets over their relationship. The problem is that while both Mia and Adam are burying their feelings, they continue to bubble up to the surface and challenge what they have for each other. This story is told from both of their points of view and that makes the dialogue flow richly where each of them has an opportunity to express the things they have going on inside of their minds, however, misguided some of it tends to be. The emotional turmoil they endure battling with hardships and losses takes its toll on them and they both realize that they are at a crossroads but neither one of them truly wants to take the necessary steps to make drastic changes to the relationship because they see it as this intensely fragile thing. They weather the storms together but once they are over the hurdle they realize that they are mostly empty. For Adam there is resentment and anger, for Mia there is guilt and mistrust. When they finally give a voice to those feelings they realize that in order for them to get past this and move forward they are going to have to make tough choices and embark on journeys that they didn’t see for themselves when they first began seeing each other. As with any relationship their bonds are tested to the limits and they both come to realize that love is a choice and not a mantle. Love is something that is ever growing and ever changing. Its the responsibility of the parties involved to continuously work on it and to see things through once they have made the commitment to love. As reader you will come to love the honesty and depth of both Mia and Adam. They have a banter between them that is part romance and part camaraderie. While you still get the depth of the other characters such as Heath, Kat, and Jordan, you also have them as compliments rather than over powering the narrative, making for a very enjoyable read. Fans of the previous two books will love the consistency of their journey and the dance that they share in figuring out love in all of its facets and forms. Kudos Brenna, this series was one of a kind, filled with smart and edgy characters that I enjoyed following. Out of a possible 5 stars this one gets all 5. Happy Reading!!!!!
I was so intrigued with Adam and Mia’s story that I had to check out the follow-up. So with some trepidation, because I am now invested in these characters I decided to read At Any Turn, book 2 in the Gaming the System series. Let me tell you, Brenna stepped her game up with this one, you are literally learning at the same rate as the characters are getting the experience which makes for such an enjoyable read. The story is told from Adam’s POV, and its refreshing because it keeps the story fresh and it lets you get an idea about some of his feelings from the first installment. Looking through my notes, I tried to figure out what it was that had kept me so engrossed in the story, I would say that its the real world parallels that you can draw from the interactions between Mia and Adam. The story picks up just as Adam is finishing up his ‘vision quest’ to rid himself of his addiction to work. He is still the cocky S.O.B. that you met in At Any Price. I think the difference this time around is that he has come to understand a few things about himself. First, he realized that he has a tendency to keep secrets so that he can orchestrate an outcome that he can live with. The only difference this go round is that Adam, doesn’t totally realize the magnitude to which his need for control can take him. By contrast Mia has a few decisions that she needs to make and her insecurity over her past is still present in specter form in terms of her applying and getting accepted to med school. She still has that dream to be a doctor and the drive within her is still just as strong as it ever was before, if not more so, because you can tell that she has love for Adam, but there are elements of it that she holds back almost as if to keep herself from falling fully into their relationship. I think the echoes of what happened to her mother keep her in a paranoid state for a good deal of this second book.
I love how honest and down to earth Adam was, I would have pegged him as being more self-contained but he came out of his experience in the desert relying heavily on Mia to keep him in check with his addiction issues, not realizing that it was a big mantle to lay at her doorstep and that they still had a ton of growing to do before they could reach their own utopia. A huge theme within the fabric of the storyline was the need for compromise, which was a lesson they both failed at miserably. Adam’s inability to deal with the grief from his sisters death was heightened in its exposure and his desire to not have his feelings laid bare in front of Mia definitely contributed to the ongoing battle of wills between the two of them throughout the book. As their relationship unravels and their individual needs for independence and free will become apparent to them both, the bonus round begins for them and things are stressed to the point of fracture. Without giving too much away, I think they grow up a little bit by the end of the book. Not having actually reached a conclusion about their issues but about how they need to view and react to each other. The candid nature of each of the characters is refreshing. You get a real full picture of how each feels for the other without the back and forth that you can get in some books (i.e.: switching POV to tell the story). I would go into more as I have a couple of pages worth of notes but it wouldn’t be fair for those readers that haven’t yet had a chance to take in the story. I will simply say that its a story that can be appreciated and enjoyed, due to the careful crafting of each of the characters. The fullness of the story is simply a bonus to the equation. Out of a possible 5 stars this one gets all 5.
Oh wait one issue I did have was the hair color issue – WTF!!!! OMG even I hated the hair, I am usually pretty flexible about that stuff, but it irritated me to no end and when I got the answers behind it, I think that might have pissed me off a bit more. Ignore that tangent until after you’ve had a chance to take a read. I hope you enjoy the story and the characters as much as I did. Happy Reading!
Fear is a major suck! That is what I learned about At Any Price by Brenna Aubrey. This is the first installment in a three part series. The story is about Emilia (Mia) a gaming blogger that is disenfranchised with her virginity. Mia has a number of things going on in her life and not the least of which is her need to cover costs for the completion of her medical training. The thing is that she is beyond broke as are most of us. She gets the brilliant idea to auction off her virginity to the highest bidder by way of her blog. By her way of thinking this should be a pretty easy transaction with the right kind of planning and with Heath in her corner she feels pretty confident that she has all the bases covered. The thing is she actually doesn’t and when Adam Drake enters the picture he wastes no time in pointing out the obvious flaws in her plan to her. Through a series of misunderstandings Mia learns way more about herself than she was willing to and the fear that results out of it is starting to cripple her. I have to admit, I was skeptical about her line of thinking myself so I was pleasantly surprised that she was as stubborn as she was. She is a strong woman, literally as her name would imply. She has weathered a number of huge life hurdles in her life, and each time she used the experience to erect a new wall/castle/mote around her heart. So for her to find it again, she has to dig deeper than she ever has before. The story is really entertaining because there are Mia’s life issues that she is trying to learn to live with and deal with and then there are the faults that she finds in Adam that he wasn’t even aware existed before she called him on it. What makes their love story memorable is that its honest. Its the kind of story that could literally happen to anyone. It felt like a really natural progression for the depth of their discoveries even in spite of the fact that they were brought together by a set of ‘sick’ circumstances. The thing that I think readers will take away from it just the same is that when you feel completely paralyzed by fear, the only way to overcome it is to face it head on and learn to trust that everything can work out; even if it doesn’t work out according to your own plans. The story is filled with lots of fun characters and some really interesting places throughout California. There of course are also the blogging and gaming elements that were much appreciated. I am pretty confident that if you are looking for an unusual romance that will steal your heart just a little bit then you will definitely enjoy At Any Price. Out of 5 stars I am giving this one 4. Happy Reading !!!!
I recently finished this title that I came across by L.A. Remenicky. The title was Saving Cassie and its the first book in the Fairfield Corners series. The premise of the story is that a young woman with a hugely traumatic past has to relocate back home after the death of her beloved grandmother. As she leaves the lights of the city of New York where she was recently attacked, she starts to experience some very strange activity in her childhood home. The activity begins to escalate until it becomes a full blown problem complete with paranormal events and small town angst. You are probably wondering what I thought of the installment (insert shoulder shrug here), as a blogger I felt compelled to finish off the story so that I could see if there were any redemptive qualities that I could at least reference. The thing about the story was that it seemed as if it was a great outline for a story without the added layers of depth to the characters, Cassie was sort of a dual personality and some of the things that she did were slightly over the top and while it was in order to stay true to who she was as a person there was an element where some of the things she did or said were just not enough to keep me entertained. The plot was good, it was the reintroduction of paranormal events back to the town of Fairfield Corners, but even there it would have been nice to learn more about the town or to come to understand a bit better the feelings of Cassie. Marie the wife of Cassie’s longtime friend/honorary brother is a very patient woman, because while the things that Cassie does are all about Cassie, they are actually really disrespectful to her friend and his wife, just to get a rise out of him and to make him blush over not really wanting to show public displays of affection. Again, its not a bad story but it would be on a Lifetime spectrum, if you could choose between Lifetime and Oxygen networks the odds of you choosing Lifetime first are minimal at best. Remenicky has the bones for what could be a great story, I think in the end if it were tweaked and developed a bit more, where we could see the layers and depth of the deputy and maybe not introduce such a close childhood friend at the tail end of the book. Possibly try to bring in more disbelief about the presence of the paranormal activity without stating the obvious and avoiding the reuse of certain sentence structures you could definitely have your hands on a book similar to say the almost a witch series. The thing is please do not be discouraged by this, I respect how hard it can be to take all of these great ideas and thoughts and try to translate them into something that a reader can get the full picture of. So if you ever have a bit of time on your hands and wanted to re-work this one, I would be first in line to beta read. Out of a possible 5 stars I am going to give this one 2, but that is only because there were a couple of places where your editor skipped over the right use of tense and it made it harder for me to get through the chapters. Just the same it has great potential. Happy reading!!!!!
I just finished this title, I was hoping for something a bit lighter since I had done back to back drama for a bit, trust me it was worth the read. Calamity Jayne or “Tressa” as she prefers was a super fun read. As her name infers, she gets in to more than a little bit of trouble. The fun part is that her brand of trouble should probably come with some sort of warning label. Readers are going to fall in love with her brand of self-deprecating humor and the follies of her one horse town. Her rivalry with the infuriating Ranger Rick and the high jinx of her Grandma Hannah as well as the Green Hornet himself Joe, Ranger Rick’s lovable Grandpa. These characters bumble around the pages and make for a truly entertaining read. The author even blessed me with being able to stump me on the killer, which, for me is a real rarity. I was close though so it wasn’t a huge margin on that one. It was a great story and you could truly follow along with Tressa as she tries to solve the murder that never was, as most will tell you where there is no body there is no crime, but Tressa seems to be able to ferret out the biggest crimes just by waking up every morning and putting one foot in front of the other. With the Sheriff’s office breathing down her neck, Tressa is in a race to catch the bad guy before she becomes the next one on the chopping block. You are going to fall in love with her, root with her, and on a couple of occasions in the book, want to strangle her yourself. In the end, you will have to love her for her determination if nothing else. Tessa appeals to the underdog in us all, that person that has been overlooked and under appreciated for far too long. The one who if people gave them half a chance could surprise the pants off of you. The story has a heart of its own that is very clear to the reader and makes you want to cheer for Tressas’ tenacity if for nothing else. Out of a possible 5 stars I am giving her all 5. She had me at the opening line. If you haven’t had a chance to check out her antics, take a break and see what she has in store. Happy Reading!!!!!
I recently read A Moment (Moments, Book 1) by Marie Hall. It gave me chills. You have to understand that from the writers perspective, you can have a million emotions flowing between characters and harnessing that so that people can take away the right implications from your words is a challenge in and of itself. Liliana and Ryan have that range of emotion and Marie Hall lays them out in stark detail for her readers. The story begins on a day that is possibly the worst in both of their respective lives. Things are very bleak and there seems to be no relief for two souls that are as damaged as these two people are. Their hurts are evident in their copping mechanisms. For Ryan its losing himself in his fights, for Liliana its losing herself in the carefully constructed routines that she has created. As the unfolds and layers begin to come off it is clear that each of them is dealing with a form of loss that is in some respects bigger than both of them are. For Liliana its the overwhelming feeling of regret at disappointment and having her dreams shattered in such a short span of time. For Ryan his hurts are deeper and they run in long rivulets like a splintered piece of glass throughout his life. Ryan is running out of ways to cope and his demons are becoming larger and bigger than he can fight off. The subject matter is very heavy and yet comes off as very real in the telling. I found myself empathizing with both of them and I honestly felt my heart break a couple of times as they learned to love each other through pride, pain, hurt, and ultimately redemption. The characters in this story are full and rich, each of them has a strong support within the fabric of the story. Especially Javier. There are so many elements to the story that make it a true stand out, because the reward of the ending means even more given what they end up traversing together and apart. As individuals they learn as much as they can about themselves, but I think they grow the most when they are together because they are able to love with minimal expectations. There is a great range of depth within this very rich story. It was truly a page turner. If you haven’t had the opportunity do take a moment to pick this one up, it will not disappoint. Its a very real love story. Out of a possible 5 this story gets all 5. Kudos to the author as this story truly blew me away. Happy Reading!!!!!
I had been putting off reading this installment for some time now. I prefer to be in the right headspace to appreciate a good paranormal book. I find that my reading experience comes off better that way rather than to be in the mood for the more interesting murder mystery that I tend to favor now and then. So I wandered into this book expecting light hearted magic and in a general sense all the fun that wicans get to have while spell casting. Instead, I got a heaping help of cool for my troubles and loved every second of it. The story follows a half-witch, Jade Godfrey. She has a small bakery in a non-descript Vancouver town that does some pretty solid business. She finds herself distracted by a random Vampire that seems to be testing the wards around her shop. Her fears are palpable as the danger starts to ramp up with each new event. Jade has to work harder to figure out why he seems to be there at the shop and her minor investigation yields results she is definitely unprepared to take on. Add to the mix the cupcake descriptions that literally had me reaching for “peanut chews” and as much chocolate as I could consider getting my hands on without it making significant changes to the waistline and this is definitely one that you will want to add to your book queue. The story is mixed with a great cast of characters that compliment Jade perfectly. The town itself is fascinating in its size and yet full of interesting shops and places to go. Jade has a bunch of growing to do despite her age. She hasn’t yet embraced who she is and reconciled that with what she wants to be and that level of conflict shows in her reactions to the various events that start to up-end her life. I enjoyed this story because its format. You get to experience the events just as Jade is going through them, so you aren’t shielded for foresight or foreshadowing, that can tend to come with complex storylines like this one. One of the best parts is that the author doesn’t gift us with all of the keys to the kingdom, so if you want to have real answers like what’s really in the basement, or what is Jade really dealing with here, you’ll get no such answers from this installment alone. The other part that I like is that you are immediately hooked into the honesty that Jade presents, so you are intrigued enough to end the story and pick up the next installment without batting an eyelash. That means something when it comes to stories like this because I have found it to be a readers crossroads of sorts, do you care enough to continue on? Will you be able to walk away feeling like you have drained the story and you feel completely sated with the answers that you received? Often times, I have left whole buckets of information just sitting around because I had lost the attention factor just as the story was getting good. That will not be the case here for the reader, they are going to want to follow through and find out what comes next. They are going to enjoy Jade for her optimism and spunky ways, they are also going to be enamored with the people that she surrounds herself with. Out of a possible 5 stars this title gets 4. Have you had a chance to read this title? What did you think about it? Happy Reading!