Saturday, October 26, 2013

Blog Tour Stop: 5 Star Review for Now or Never by Jamie Canosa

I was given a copy of Now or Never as an ARC from the lovely Jamie Canosa, and below you will find my review. First off, let me start by saying that you have to read Fight or Flight. If you have, great. If you haven’t, you might want to. 

I read Fight or Flight months ago, and upon finding out that there would be a sequel, I found myself counting down the days until I could see what would happen next with Jay and Em. Because of that, I had extremely high expectations for Now or Never.

Let me be the first to say that Jamie has far exceeded those expectations. Jay and Em met on the streets, homeless runaways trying to keep themselves safe from their haunted pasts. They are immediately drawn to each other and they fall in love (I’m skipping all the really juicy details because I seriously want you to read Fight or Flight and see how amazingly both stories fit together).

How I felt when I finished reading Now or Never. 
NON picks up where FOF ended. Jay and Em are living together, trying to make ends meet, and nothing is much different than when they lived on the streets except for the fact that they’ve got somewhere to call home and at least a little bit of money to keep themselves afloat. It is beautifully written, suspenseful, and led me on an emotional roller coaster that I never wanted to get off of. 

There is so much that I can say about this book, and I honestly don’t want to give anything away. I told myself before I started reading that I would read it with an open mind and try to be impartial about it, even though I was sure I was in love with Jay, and didn’t want my love for him to cloud my judgment (verdict: I’m still very much in love with him). Putting my infatuation with him aside, there was absolutely nothing wrong with this book.

Here's an excerpt: 

"I left knowing what he was. What did I think? He would just stop? I-I didn't even warn anyone." A sob broke free as she buried her face in her hands.

"Shh." Jay slid across the vinyl bench and pulled her into his arms. She went willingly, for which he was undeniably grateful. "You didn't cause this. You didn't cause any of this, Em. You did what you had to do. You escaped. You survived. That's nothing to be ashamed of."

"But I knew she lived next door. I didn't even--"

"No. I didn't think of it either. My first, last, and only thought was and always will be you, Em."

That scene alone gave me chills. 

You know those books where the couple starts off in this honeymoon phase and then shit gets rocky toward the climax?

Now or Never's gorgeous cover! 
NON isn’t that kind of book. Jay and Em are damaged, and heartbreakingly so. The book starts off with Jay having a nightmare, and seriously, the ugly crying started there. I was immediately taken back to the day I read FOF (yes, it was so good, I read it all in a day) and I was in math class, my hand yearning to turn on my Kindle and keep reading. That’s exactly what happened with FOF. I had an exam to take, and all throughout the exam, all I could think about is “What the HELL is going to happen next?” Yes, it’s THAT brilliant.

It ultimately broke my heart that even though things are slightly better, both Jay and Em have some serious shit that they need to work through. They love each other deeply, more deeply than anyone can fathom (*cough* Mason *cough*. Okay, sorry, I actually do like Mason). What’s more, is that although Em is far from a damsel in distress (she’s damaged, but Em is not weak, not by a longshot), all that Jay wants to do is protect her. Not protection in that overbearing fatherly way, but protection in the way that he would do anything to keep from hurting her, or watch her get hurt (Mason is on the receiving end of that anything, ha ha).

Honestly, the only thing that bothered me was the fact that even though Jay and Em love each other, even though they would do anything to protect each other, they can’t see themselves as the wonderfully beautiful human beings that they are, and that is devastating.

What I loved the most though was the extreme difference between FOF and NON. In the first, Jay and Em are virtually on their own (even though there’s an appearance from Al, who I luuurve—Buy Al’s story, Sink or Swim, here) and they have no one that they can trust. In the latter, however, Jay and Em find actual friendship. Mason cares about Em (perhaps more than he should, hence him being on the receiving end of Jay’s anything, which was incredibly hot, by the way). He’s nearly as protective of her as Jay is—however, he’s missing the piece of the puzzle as to why—which is pretty awesome in my book. And then there’s Ashlyn. Oh, man, do I LOVE Ashlyn! She is spunky and awesome and hilarious, and even though she’s big on gossip, she really just wants to be Em’s friend and support her, no strings attached—which is something that Em desperately needs. And even though Jay was being a total asshat for a while—still love you, Jay—Ashlyn wants to be his friend as well. Neither of them has ever had a friend like that, but I think everyone needs a friend like that.

I don’t normally give 5 star reviews. I’m really picky about who I give that 5th star to. And even though I’m in love with Jay, I did my best to be totally and completely impartial, and I am positive that Now or Never is deserving of my 5th star.

Here’s why:
-Jay. I seriously don’t need to say anymore.

-I got irritated with my family members because they were making too much noise while I was trying to read. I legit had to turn up the volume and put my headphones in and drown them out.

-I ugly cried like nobody’s business. I stopped eating my dinner, pushed away from the table, and honestly had my hand to my mouth the entire last few chapters, trying to stifle my sobs as rivers upon rivers of ugly tears streamed down my face. It takes a lot to get that type of reaction out of me, so kudos, Jamie.

-When I realized I was about to get to the end, I almost wanted to stop reading. I didn’t want it to be over. I wanted it to keep going forever and ever until Jay and Em got married and had babies and oh my god it just can’t be over is there another installment coming Jamie because I need another installment my heart couldn’t take it if this was the end so if there’s more to this story please tell me when its coming so I can count down the days. (Yeah, it’s that fucking brilliant).

-I loved Ashlyn and Mason (happy they’re getting their own book, by the way). I honestly believe that the best parts of anyone’s story are the people that they share it with. Ashlyn and Mason were central to this story and honestly, Jay and Em needed them more than they realize.

-Em is a total badass. She thinks she’s weak, she thinks she’s a useless coward (seriously, I kind of want to slap her every time she even thinks this phrase. Like, no, Em. You’re not a useless coward), but she’s not. She’s strong and beautiful and brave and I totally admire her. She’s bent, but she’s not broken. Far from it, my friends.

-I wanted to throw my phone. I seriously contemplated throwing my phone multiple times because this book angered me, then I realized that if I did, it might break, and I wouldn’t be able to keep reading.

-I ugly fucking cried. I cry all the time, over everything. But rarely do I ugly cry. On my list of books I’ve ugly cried reading: My Sister’s Keeper, The Guardian, The Great Gatsby, Les Miserables, The Fault in Our Stars. You see the pattern here? All ah-mazing books. Now or Never is now on that list.

-Jay. Yes I’m repeating this. He’s enough to make me read this again, which I probably will later on today.

So as I end this incredibly long review about how much I loved Now or Never, I’ll leave you all with a few of my most memorable quotes:

-“It is not okay. I know your limits, Em. I understand them. I respect them. And I pushed you too far.” –Jay (seriously, Jay is perfect).

-“Careful. I wouldn’t want to infect you.”
Jay scowled down at her. “When it comes to you, I’m already a goner.”

-“I come bearing pizza. If you don’t let me in, Ash will kick you out.” (Mason)
“It’s true!” Ashlyn’s voice carried from down the hall. “Pizza is the magic word around here. Let the man in.”

-“Maybe simpler isn’t the right word, either. But things were…clearer. I knew exactly where we stood. It was you and me against the world, Jay. And despite those horribly bad odds, we kept coming out on top. Together. We accomplished so much together.” –Em.

-“I’d never had someone waiting for me to come home before. Not ever. That’s when I realized that is what you’d made this place. You’d taken this dank, dilapidated hole in the wall unfit for human occupancy and turned it into a home. My home. Simply because you were there.” –Jay.

-“Slaved over it, huh?” Em eyed the takeout bags in the trash and couldn’t stop the small smile from curving her lips.
“Yeah, well, I drove, and ordered, and lugged it all back here.”-Ash

-She wasn’t a useless coward. Not anymore. She was beautiful. And strong. And brave, dammit. That’s what Jay saw in her. And that was what she needed to see in herself.

-“I’m not weak, either, you son of a bitch.” –Jay.

-“We see each other as whole, and remind each other that those good things are there—inside us—even if we can’t see them ourselves.” –Em.

Now or Never was nothing short of amazing. I'd highly recommend it to anyone who will listen.

Buy Now or Never on Amazon

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Blog Tour Stop: 4.5 Stars for Unspoken Memories by Gabbie S. Duran

Review for Unspoken Memories by Gabbie S. Duran: 4.5  Stars

Here's the synopsis: 
She awoke with no memory of who she was, but one clue will lead her to him… 

Abigail Adams had it all, she's a gorgeous supermodel, has a wealthy fiancé, and a career on the rise. But that quickly changes when she wakes up in the hospital not remembering anything. The only memories she does have are not her own, but of a total stranger. 

When Abigail discovers that her fiancé has been cheating on her, she leaves him and runs to the arms of the one man she is hoping will give her the answers she seeks. 

Matt Garcia is used to playing the field, keeping his heart guarded, but then Abigail Adams unexpectedly shows up at his door hoping he will be the answer she is looking for. Will he finally learn to take a break from his no strings attached lifestyle and show her that she doesn’t need her past, but the future he is willing to offer her? 

With every unspoken memory she regains, will she learn to open up her heart to a total stranger, or will she keep it guarded like he does? 

Unspoken Memories is not your typical story. What immediately hooked me from the very first line was the fact that Abigail Adams, a famous supermodel, does not have any clue who she is. It sounds so cliché, right? Girl loses her memory, girl meets boy, girl and boy fall in love, and then, in a shocking turn of events (insert obvious sarcasm here) girl remembers everything.

Um, nope! This is not that kind of story!

“I can’t leave her, she’s our money ticket!”

That’s what really pulled me in. Abi doesn’t know who’s talking, doesn’t know where she is, but I knew immediately that this line came from someone who was trying desperately to screw her over. What I love is that this book infuriated me.  I went through so many different emotions, but the one I felt the most was fury. I had to stop reading more than once because I would get so angry at Matt, and at Abi, and mostly at Bill. Oh, I hated the shit out of Bill! It takes a lot to anger me—I’m an even-tempered person generally, so anger is a strange emotion—but this book seriously was so good that it evoked even the one emotion I hardly ever feel. 

Abi for some reason, has random memories of a phone number, and this phone number leads her to Matt. Matt is sweet, sexy, and protective, especially since he lost his sister Emily. Even so, though, I constantly found myself wanting to punch him (I can’t have been the only one). But he’s good for Abi, he’s a wonderful friend, so I tolerated him (I grew to love him later). He helps her through her horrible breakup with Bill (the douchebag who called her his “money ticket”) and allows her to move into his house.

Matt’s not my favorite, although he’s high up on the list. The real stars of Unspoken Memories in my opinion were Trey, Kelly, and David. The minor characters, I feel, are what truly made this story spectacular. These people are strangers, yet they take Abi in and support her emotionally when she needs it the most. Trey is hilarious, Kelly is the friend every girl wishes she had, and David is Kelly’s perfect boyfriend who I absolutely swooned over. I don't normally fall in love with minor characters, but Kelly, Trey, and David were so well-developed, caring, and hilarious, that I loved them just as much as I did Abi and Matt.

I’ve given Unspoken Memories four and a half stars, and here’s why:
-It infuriated me. This is important. Not any book can make me angry, so the fact that this one accomplished it puts it high up on my list. I had to put down my phone and stop reading for a while, because I had to step off the roller coaster for a little while and prepare myself for what else was to come. 

-Even though Matt wasn’t exactly my favorite, he redeemed himself nearly every time he called Abi “beautiful” instead of by her real name. Who wouldn’t swoon over that?

-Abi isn’t some damsel in distress. Yes, she comes running to Matt and Trey’s when she breaks up with Bill, but it isn’t because she needs them to save her. It’s because she has nowhere else to go and she feels safe with them. She is perfectly able to handle and take care of herself. I love that Abigail is a strong, independent woman.

-I LOVED Kelly. Seriously, she’s perf.

-Matt gave me whiplash. I couldn’t tell whether he wanted to be with Abi or if he wanted to simply protect her because she reminded him of his sister. He was so hot and cold in the most irritating of ways, but it worked. I loved him anyway.

-Abigail is very outspoken. She speaks her mind and stands up for herself, even though it’s the last thing you’d expect. It was seriously the last thing I expected. Every time she blew up and said a curse word, I seriously thought, “Oh, shit! Someone’s pissed Abi off!” I love her outspoken personality because women are perceived to be these polite, sweet little things, and Abi totally stomps all over that stereotype.

-Matt and Abi are perfect together, even when it seems like they don’t know whether they want each other or not. They are honestly the cutest couple and I kept having to scream “Just KISS already, you idiots!”

-Trey and Matt are so protective of Abi. It’s not in the annoying big brother way, but in the sweetest way, to the point where they’d murder anyone who even thought about hurting her.

There were so many amazing one-liners in Unspoken Memories, so as I end this review, I’ll leave you with some of my favorite quotes:

-Matt is staring at me with his head cocked to the side. “But, why my number?” He points his finger at himself. “I’ve never met you, and I’m pretty sure we don’t run in the same circle.”

-“What!” they both say at the same time with fury. But it’s Matt who says, “I’m going to kill him!” With Trey saying after him, “Not if I kill that fucker first.”

-“I really doubt I’ll want to call your ex-girlfriend when I’m drunk,” I tell him. -Abigail

-“You’re not going anywhere. This is your home now as much as it is mine.” –Matt

-“Here’s a wakeup call for you, Matthew Garcia, it’s going to take a lot more than you calling me beautiful to get in between my legs. Because I’m worth a lot more than a quick fuck!” –Abigail

-“Anyways, who knows if he’s cleaned the table?” –Trey

-"Damn, girl, if that boy doesn’t declare his love for you when he sees you in this dress, I’m going to have to hit him upside the head with that football he throws around.” –Kelly

-“Damn supermodel, Julio is going to be earning his paycheck tonight. You’re going to have men all over you.” –Trey

-“I’ve loved you since that first night you showed up on my doorstep. That night I knew you were mine and I’m never letting you go.” –Matt

Unspoken Memories was an unexpected jewel. I’m very happy to have been able to read it, and am more than happy to recommend it to you all.

Buy Unspoken Memories on Amazon
Buy Unspoken Memories On Barnes and Noble

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Cover Reveal: Now or Never by Jamie Canosa

Jamie Canosa's novel, Fight or Flight was the first non-Harry Potter, non-Nicholas Sparks, non-Sarah Dessen book I read and fell head over heels in love with. Or maybe it was one of her main characters, Jay. In either case, I've counted down the days until I could read the next installment in Jay and Em's story.

Here is the cover for Now or Never, the next installment of Jay and Em's story, which I fell even more in love with! (I say "next" rather than "final" because I'm hoping this isn't the end teehee).

Now, isn't that cover gorgeee? I'm not saying this because I love Jamie (or Jay). I seriously love the cover.

Here's the synopsis: 

To move on,
Leave the past behind,
And build a new life with Jay.

That’s all Em wanted. After everything they’d been through together, they were both overdue their ‘happily ever after’. Too bad the world doesn’t work that way. Memories last longer than dreams and Em’s fears continue to plague her both day and night, interfering with that new life she so desperately craves.

To start over,
Secure a future,
And give Em the life she deserves.

That was Jay’s plan, but the past isn’t done with them, yet. While Em still struggles to overcome the ghosts of her past, Jay is forced to come face to face with his. When the skeletons in his closet step back into the light, Jay must decide what he will do—and what he will sacrifice—to protect Em from them. 

Against all odds, Em and Jay are on the verge of having everything they’ve ever wanted. They’ve fought for it before, but is their love strong enough to endure any more heartache? The time has come for each of them to choose for themselves whether or not they will allow the past to continue to corrupt their future. And, together, they must decide, will it be . . . NOW OR NEVER?

I'd like to mention that I received an ARC of Now or Never, so look for my review of it during the blog tour on October 26th!

Fall in love with Jay and Em, and Buy Fight or Flight Here!