Thursday, March 31, 2016

Adulthood Is a Myth by Sarah Andersen


Adulthood Is a Myth: A "Sarah's Scribbles" collection by Sarah Andersen

Review by Lauren

source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official SummaryDo you love networking to advance your career? Is adulthood an exciting new challenge for which you feel fully prepared? Ugh. Please go away.

These casually drawn, perfectly on-point comics by the hugely popular young Brooklyn-based artist Sarah Andersen are for the rest of us. They document the wasting of entire beautiful weekends on the internet, the unbearable agony of holding hands on the street with a gorgeous guy, and dreaming all day of getting home and back into pajamas. In other words, the horrors and awkwardnesses of young modern life. Oh and they are totally not autobiographical. At all.


Review: This book is hilarious, and oh so easy to relate too! Seriously, you need this book in your life. It would make a really humorous, tongue-in-cheek graduation gift! This book is full of really cute drawings/comics from Ms. Andersen that perfectly capture the awkward, anxiety-inducing nature of growing up and dealing with life, love, work, and so much more.

It's honestly difficult to really talk about this book without showing you what I mean, so I am going to include some samples of the book that I found online. Of course, all of these comics belong to Andersen, but hopefully they will entice you to grab this book the next time you go book shopping.

This above comic is so easy for me to understand. As a blogger and English major, I feel like I have written communication down pretty well. However, when it comes to speaking out loud, especially in front of a crowd, things can get a bit dicey. I will admit that I have gotten a lot better at this, but it's still pretty frightening for me!


One of the things that I absolutely loved about these little comics is that Andersen is clearly a lover of books. Huzzah! This above comic is surely something we have all done at least once in our life, but who are we kidding? I'm sure we've done it way more than once.

What do you think of this book and the comics I shared? Would you check this out?

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

My Friendship With Oscar Wilde: The Autobiography of Lord Alfred Douglas



My Friendship With Oscar Wilde: The Autobiography of Lord Alfred Douglas 

Review by Lauren

source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official Summary“No other living creature has been treated as I have been treated, and has invoked in vain, as I have done, the law of his country to help him against a conspiracy of persecution and blackmail which has gone on for more than thirty years, and is still going on to this day.” 

So writes Lord Alfred Douglas in his memoir, originally published in 1929, in which he sought to rehabilitate his name and that of Oscar Wilde. 

One of the most notorious celebrities of his day, he was the amanuensis of Oscar Wilde and son of the man who ruined Wilde, Lord Queensbury. Recently the subject of the play ‘The Judas Kiss’, and portrayed in the film ‘Wilde’ by Jude Law, the man nicknamed ‘Bosie’ writes of his life and times, including a prison sentence for libel and the cause of Wilde’s incarceration at a time when homosexuality was an offense. 

Seeing himself as the victim of the Wilde scandal, Lord Alfred married and settled down to life as a poet, writer and magazine editor. 

He went bankrupt in 1913, was prosecuted for libel, notably against Winston Churchill, and spent time in the courts fighting to clear his damaged name. 

In his memoir he offers his own view on the events of the previous sixty years of his life using letters and articles. He also refutes the rumours spread by Wilde himself, including one where he denied receiving any money from his old friend in his final years. 

Almost a century on, and in a world where men can marry whomever they please, the life of Lord Alfred Douglas stands as a history of England before the modern era. 


Review: Man, that summary could be most of the review if I wanted it to be. However, I do recommend you read it if you want a clearer look at when the original autobiography was published and why. Douglas had worked with another writer before this book where he allowed lies about his relationship to Oscar Wilde to be published. This autobiography, on the other hand, is Douglas much older and trying to finally reveal the truth of what he had gone through.

I will admit it's easy to see certain moments in this book as if Douglas is being self-pitying, but at the same time, he has a right to be in certain cases. Wilde told people that Douglas never helped him after he left prison, but Douglas denies this, saying he often gave Wilde money when he could. This book does make it seem as if some of Wilde's others friends used the Wilde name for their own use and that they treated Douglas badly because they blamed him for Wilde's arrest and subsequent incarceration.

I don't know as much about Wilde's history as I would like, but I do find it interesting, and in that, I have always been curious about Lord Alfred Douglas. I was excited that this autobiography had been released to the public again as it does add more to the overall history of the Wilde story. It's a difficult book to explain fully, and it can read a bit like a history textbook at times. Douglas also has a tendency to repeat himself at times, especially because not all of his stories are in direct chronological order. Despite this, I really enjoyed the book and I would recommend it to all those who are interested!

As for the Douglas/Wilde affair, Douglas is never really explicit about anything, but he does essentially admit to engaging in acts that he no longer agrees with later in life. He ends up getting married and becoming Catholic in the future. In the end, it seems that no matter which historical figure you believe or what you think of Douglas as a man, I believe it's obvious to see that Douglas did have problems after getting caught up with Oscar Wilde and this continued for many years to come.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The Ending I Want by Samantha Towle Cover Reveal

Alicia here, with a cover reveal for a book I can't wait to read! Enjoy!

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the ending i want banner


We are so excited to share the cover for THE ENDING I WANT by Samantha Towle. This book releases on May 10th and we can't wait to read another Towle masterpiece!


the ending i want ebook


Synopsis

Taylor Shaw had the perfect life—until she was sixteen. That was when everything changed. From that moment on, life went from bad to worse…to the worst. After recovering from a brain tumor, months later, she suffers the tragic loss of her whole family. Since that fateful day, she’s been coasting through life.

Now, the brain tumor has returned, and Taylor decides she’s had enough. She’s going to take her fate into her own hands. No more hospitals. No more surgeries. No more anything. She’s going to join her family. It’s her decision. What she longs for. The ending she wants.

She just has a list of things to do before she goes. First, go to England. Second, kiss a stranger…
Only, Taylor didn’t expect Liam Hunter, the stranger—with his handsome face, his six-foot-three of gorgeousness, and his oh-so-hot English accent—to change things. To change her. To change the ending she wanted.

What is a girl, who is standing on the edge of nothing, to do when offered the chance of everything?


add-to-goodreads-button

Release Date: May 10, 2016
Cover Designed by: Najla Qamber Designs
Preorder: Not Avaliable yet


AboutTheAuthor 

samantha towle

New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal and international bestselling author Samantha Towle began her first novel in 2008 while on maternity leave. She completed the manuscript five months later and hasn't stopped writing since.

She has written contemporary romances, THE MIGHTY STORM, WETHERING THE STORM, TAMING THE STORM, TROUBLE, REVVED and REVIVED.

She has also written paranormal romances, THE BRINGER and the ALEXANDRA JONES SERIES, all penned to tunes of The Killers, Kings of Leon, Adele, The Doors, Oasis, Fleetwood Mac, and more of her favourite musicians.

A native of Hull and a graduate of Salford University, she lives with her husband, Craig, in East Yorkshire with their son and daughter.




the ending i want full wrap

I love it!

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Album Review: Gwen Stefani "This Is What The Truth Feels Like"


I've been a fan of Gwen Stefani for years now. Growing up, I heard her hit songs in the band No Doubt and then she released her debut solo album, Love Angel Music Baby and I really fell in love. It was full of fun, really unique songs. Therefore, I was very excited for the opportunity to review Stefani's latest solo album, This Is What The Truth Feels Like. While the songs on this album aren't especially unique, they still have a great sound and most important of all, they feel real and personal and that's something I love in an artist's music.

The album starts off well with "Misery." I think it's important for most albums to start with a more upbeat song. It allows the listener to really get into the music and it's a great hook! The second song on the album, "You're My Favorite" really shows that classic Stefani voice. It's got a nice sound, but it's slightly slower, which works! Near the end of the third song, "Where Would I Be?" we get some classic Gwen similar to her "this shit is bananas" catch-phase from her debut album.

Now we've reached the fourth song, which is her second sequel, "Make Me Like You." I read an interview with Gwen and she was asked if this song was about her new romance with Blake Shelton, and she basically said that of course it was, she wasn't trying to hide anything. You can really tell by the lyrics - "I was fine before I met you. I was broken, but fine." It's a good, catchy song, and I love that it's about finding new love after heartbreak.

The following two songs, "Truth" (which is where the album title comes from) and "Used to Love You" both have a nice beat in the background, but they are definitely more emotional. "Truth" focuses on her new relationship again, but "Used to Love You" is about dealing with the fallout of a relationship and how you used to love someone, but now you can't help but hate them for hurting you.



The next song is "Send Me a Picture" and is definitely a fun, sexy type of song for when you're in a relationship and you want your loved one to send you photo updates of where they are and what they are doing. These don't have to be explicit photos of course! Number 8 on the album is "Red Flag." It starts off a bit strange - honestly, the way Gwen is talking makes me think of the song "Japan" by The Lonely Island. It's a good song though - definitely something only Gwen Stefani could really pull off.

Next up is "Asking 4 It" which features Fetty Wapp. Reading the title, it might make you think of something in particular, so I was a bit surprised to hear what the title actually meant. The lyrics go- "Are you sure you want to love me? You're asking for it." I think a lot of us can relate to this song, where we feel like we might not be the most lovable and worthy of a certain person, especially if we have a lot of "baggage" in our past. "Naughty" is a fun, upbeat song. I really liked Gwen's voice in this one! It seems like a good one to sing with a crowd.

Second to last is "Me Without You" and is a great post-relationship song because it's all about how you are okay without that person and you can move on and do better. Finally, we have "Rare" which is a nice song to end the album! The Target album has four extra songs, which I have not listened too, but if they are anything like the rest of the album, I think it would be worth checking out that edition! 

Review by Lauren (album sent for review; all opinions are my own)




Buy Gwen Stefani's Album Now



Track Listing-

1. Misery 
2. You’re My Favorite 
3. Where Would I Be
 4. Make Me Like You 
5. Truth 
6. Used To Love You 
7. Send Me A Picture 
8. Red Flag 
9. Asking For It 
10. Naughty 
11. Me Without You 
12. Rare 

NOTE: There are four bonus tracks on the album available at Target 

13. Rocket Ship (Target Exclusive) 
14. Getting Warmer (Target Exclusive) 
15. Obsessed (Target Exclusive) 
16. Splash (Target Exclusive

The Gwen Stefani site has limited availability of special bundles. The following is a link to purchase bundles if you are interested!:  https://www.gwenstefani.com/store

Follow Links for Gwen:


Disclosure: I participated in this sponsored album review program as a member of One2One Network. I was provided the album to review but all opinions are my own.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Bunbury Music Festival 2016: Meet the Artists


Bunbury Music Festival is fast approaching! It will take place over the weekend of June 3-5 2016 and is in Cincinnati, Ohio. If you live anywhere near the city, you should definitely think about joining in on the fun! I'll be posting things leading up to the festival to get everyone excited, as well as show off some of the acts and fun things you can expect if you attend!

Personally, I am really excited for the following acts:

The Killers- listen now!
X Ambassadors- listen now!
Elle King - listen now!
Haim - listen now!

Okay, I'll admit, I don't know as much of Haim as the other acts I listed, but I plan to listen to more of their stuff to get prepared for the weekend. The official schedule isn't live yet, which means that we don't know who is playing which day and which times, but I'll be sure to share when we finally DO get that information so people can decide if they want to pay for one day or the whole weekend.

One thing I really love about the Bunbury website is that you can click on the artist's picture and be sent to a page with at least one video/audio sample as well as links to check them out further. This is great if you want to know more about an act. For example, as I write this, I'm listening to Haim's "The Wire" and you can too - just go here! I just went in and added links to everyone's names above, in case you want an easy way to check all of them out. I highly recommend X Ambassadors, as they are one of my favorite bands and amazing to see live!

-Lauren

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Collared by Nicole Williams Release Day Blitz

Alicia here, with the release day blitz for Collared. ICYMI, here's my review. Enjoy!

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Buy the Book



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AP - Synopsis.jpg


When a seventeen-year-old girl vanishes,
A community is shaken.
Parents turn desperate.
Friends hold vigils.
And the boy who loves her searches.

When a year goes by,
The community is recovering.
Parents feel hopeless.
Friends feel helpless.
And the boy who loves her continues his search.

When ten years go by,
The community has forgotten.
Parents cling to the past.
Friends move toward the future.
And the boy who loves her . . .
Brings her home.

Jade Childs spent ten years in captivity, but now that she’s back, the real battle for survival begins. The media shadows her. Flashbacks haunt her. Her old life evades her. Her so-called new life rejects her. She spent too many years in the dark to recognize the light. She spent too long repressing her feelings to remember how to express them. She spent a decade abandoning hope and cannot dare letting it back into her life. Jade’s not just defined by what happened to her—she’s collared to it.

When the twenty-seven-year-old woman is found,
A community wants to know the story,
Parents want to forget the story,
Friends want to be a part of the story,
And the man who still loves her faces the greatest challenge yet: letting her go.   



AP- Excerpt.jpg

He exhales like there’s some war being fought inside him. I don’t think he’ll answer. He has a right to keep his secrets—god knows I should be able to empathize with that.
His hand dangling over the steering wheel curls into a fist. “The woman I wanted to spend my life with was gone. I wasn’t in the mood to find a backup.”
My chest does that thing again—contracting like someone just hit me in the ribs with a hammer. When Torrin glances at me, it looks like someone’s swinging a dozen hammers at him too.
I can’t keep looking at him watching me like that. I know we’re feeling the same thing—the ache of what could have been. The pain of accepting it never can be again.
I find myself focusing on the dashboard. I don’t notice it right away, but when I do, I touch the bright coral smear running down the front of it. “You never cleaned it.” I trace my finger down the dried nail polish, reliving the moment like it was happening right now.
“I could never bring myself to.” Torrin’s eyes land on the stain from the bottle I accidently spilled when I was painting my toenails on a drive to the beach. “I couldn’t bring myself to just . . . erase it.”
I don’t know a tear’s slipped out until it falls onto my arm that’s still reaching out, touching the stain. It’s only one tear, no more are coming, but Torrin doesn’t miss it.
He sighs and clenches the steering wheel a little harder. “I’m sorry. I don’t know what to say. How to act around you. I don’t think I’m doing anything right.” His knuckles are white when we exit the freeway. “This is all very surreal. What happened. You being back. I’m totally lost.”
I don’t know why he’s apologizing. The only time I’ve felt like life hasn’t siphoned every last drop of emotion out of me is when I’ve been with him.
“You’re treating me exactly like you used to.” My fingers fall away from the dash. The good memories have turned to painful ones, a spilled bottle of nail polish included. “I’d rather have you act like nothing happened and I’m the same person you remember than have you second-guess everything you say and do.”
           His knuckles loosen around the steering wheel. He rolls his fingers, popping them.
“Just do what comes naturally to you.” I turn in my seat to face him. “I’ll do what comes naturally to me, and maybe things will get easier.”
We’re stopped at the light leading to the zoo, and he looks at me. His forehead is folded into creases. “What comes naturally to me?” He doesn’t pause long enough for me to reply. “I’m not sure that would be helpful to either of us.”
It’s not my chest that hurts when he says that—it’s my stomach. It’s not really pain though—it’s something else. I haven’t felt it in a long time, and I know I shouldn’t feel it right now.
I can’t let that look in his eyes keep doing this to my stomach. I can’t let the way his chest is rising and falling harder now affect mine.
The light changes, thankfully, and his eyes move from me to the road. The air inside the cab takes a while to clear though despite the cracked windows.
“That’s when I started to fall in love with you—after my dad died and you acted the exact same around me. You treated me the same as you had every day before. Still rubbing it in my face when you scored higher on a test. Still knocking on my door and seeing if I wanted to shoot hoops. When everyone was understanding of me wanting to lock myself in my bedroom, you got me to play basketball.” He smiles at the windshield like he’s watching the twelve-year-old versions of us playing a game of Around the World. “You brought me back . . . when everyone else just kind of left me behind.”
I find my eyes drifting back to the nail polish stain. “And when did you finish falling in love with me? When I finally let you win a game of one-on-one? Or was it the night we . . . you know?” Thinking about that night makes me blush. Talking about it makes me shift.
Torrin glances at me for a moment. “I’ll never finish falling in love with you.”


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Nicole Williams is the New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of contemporary and young adult romance, including the Crash and Lost & Found series. Her books have been published by HarperTeen and Simon & Schuster in both domestic and foreign markets, while she continues to self-publish additional titles. She is working on a new YA series with Crown Books (a division of Random House) as well. She loves romance, from the sweet to the steamy, and writes stories about characters in search of their happily even after. She grew up surrounded by books and plans on writing until the day she dies, even if it’s just for her own personal enjoyment. She still buys paperbacks because she’s all nostalgic like that, but her kindle never goes neglected for too long. When not writing, she spends her time with her husband and daughter, and whatever time’s left over she’s forced to fit too many hobbies into too little time.

Nicole is represented by Jane Dystel, of Dystel and Goderich Literary Agency.




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Monday, March 21, 2016

Don't Call Me Alexander Book Review + Vacation Giveaway


 


Put Me In The Story, the #1 personalized books site in the U.S., creates personalized versions of bestselling books and books where you star alongside your favorite characters. Our gifts capture moments that matter and memories that last. With each touching picture and special dedication message, our readers have become our most dynamic characters.

Put Me In The Story inspires a love for reading, across all ages and generations, through the experience of shared, personalized stories. Share a story with your family at www.PutMeInTheStory.com.

one of the famous names Isabella pretends to be
$29.99 personalized book
A Mom’s Choice Award Winner!

In this New York Times bestselling children’s book, your daughter can turn into the imaginative Isabella and explore outstanding women who have changed history! This personalized and heartwarming story will empower your daughter to celebrate her unique personality and imagination. Encouraging your daughter to dream without limits, this is a book to pass down through the generations. Personalize the story with your child’s name and create a special dedication page with a photo and message from you.

$29.99 personalized book

Just how big can YOUR kid dream? In My Name Is Not Alexander, your son becomes the star of an entertaining exploration through history while learning about the great men that helped shape America. This adventure will become a fast favorite! Kickstart your son’s imagination and celebrate his opportunities ahead. Personalize the story with your child’s name and create a special dedication page with a photo and message from you.


My Name is Not Alexander by Jennifer Fosberry

Review by Lauren

Source: copy sent for review; all opinions are my own

Review: First off, I want to remind you to scroll down and enter the fantastic giveaway hosted by Put Me in the Story, titled the Bring History to Life Sweepstakes. These two books - My Name is Not Isabella and My Name is Not Alexander - certainly bring history to life for children! What I love about Put Me in the Story is that they offer you a chance to personalize the book. I chose My Name is Not Alexander and changed the name to my nephew's, which means his name appears on the cover as well as the title page, and of course, it's used a couple times in the book. You can also include a photo of the recipient that appears in the beginning of the book. It's a very nice touch!

As for the actual story, the dad in the book directs his son throughout the day - from getting up, to brushing his teeth, to visiting grandma - but as he does, his son repeatedly announces his name is not what he had previously deemed it to be. Instead, he goes from one famous name to the next, like Thomas Edison and Jackie Robinson. The boy states a bit about each person, and the dad answers back in kind. However, I really loved that the author included photos as well as a paragraph of information on each person named in the back of the book. This is especially good because the boy in the story only ever says the first name, such as "I am Thomas" and not Thomas Edison. This information in the back will allow parents, grandparents, teachers, etc. to really teach  kids about these iconic men in history. 

While the personal aspect of it simply makes it more enjoyable and memorable, I would suggest giving this book a try even in its original form! As for My Name is Not Isabella, the story follows a similar format (though I was not given this one to review) except all of the historical names are women. I included an example above with Marie Curie (this is not how the inside of the book looks - with the facts laid out as such! It's a nice way to share the premise of the book though). 

one of the famous names Alexander pretends to be
Bring History To Life Sweepstakes:

Runs Monday, February 29th through Friday, April 1st

Enter daily for a chance to win a 4 day/3 night trip to Washington, D.C. for a family of 4!

Includes airfare and hotel accommodations.


Participate in the conversation! Share on social media who you think is the most inspiring historical figure with the hashtag #BringHistoryToLife

I do not have any say on who wins this sweepstakes; I am simply spreading the word! I do think it would be an amazing opportunity for the family that wins though! 

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Sunday Post (14): Raising Money for London!


Sunday Post is hosted by Caffeinated Book Reviewer 

Hey everyone, Lauren here! Did you do anything fun for St. Patrick's Day? I don't celebrate in any way, but I did hang out with some friends the night before which was fun. The actual night of I had to work, but it was my final day at my job so it was exciting. It will be weird starting somewhere new on Monday, but I'm ready to move on and do more with my career, especially since I have my Master's now. Plus, I'll be in an academic environment, and I love working at colleges!

London Calling

Anyway, some of you know that I will be visiting London for the first time this coming September. We're making plans and booking all those lovely important things at the moment. It's exciting, especially since I've never left the country before! So yeah, fun stuff. However, I would love to find ways (other than my job, which is still part time) to save money. I've done publicity for authors and smaller businesses before, and I'm happy to do something like that if anyone is interested! I have a website here with more details.

I do have some other "services" if you will that I can offer-

*Research help (working on a book, or other project, and need help finding information? I'm your girl!)

*Party planning (because you probably won't be near enough to meet in person, this is more party planning where I can do research for you. I can find themes, or items you can utilize for those themes. I can look at Pinterest for free printables, find Etsy shops for things you could possibly buy for favors, etc. Anything you need! I have a blog that features some older parties I've done for myself and friends).

*Gift ideas/Planning: I love to find gifts for people, and I always try and look for unique items they would probably never get or even know about. If you have someone you need to get a gift for, get in touch with details about them and I can research possible ideas within a certain price range for you!

None of these have set monetary prices. I'm not looking for anything crazy. I'm just trying to do every little bit from now until September to save up for the trip. All of this money will go straight to my savings and will help with tickets, etc. beforehand and then for use when I'm actually overseas. I'd also love to be able to grab a couple items to give away for all of you lovely readers when I get back!

But yeah, if you are interested in anything above, or have other ways I may be of help, please get in touch: lauren51990 AT aol DOT com (feel free to offer a price point!)

Thanks everyone - feel free to tweet this out!

-Lauren

Back on Let's Get Beyond Tolerance:

Monday, March 7: Cover Art for As I Descended by Robin Talley

Wednesday, March 9: Top M/M Choices for March 2016

Saturday, March 12: Interview with Author Tiffany Rose (who also runs a blog on asexuality)

Tuesday, March 15: Free E-Book: The Foxhole Court by Nora Sakavic

Friday, March 18: Asexual Characters in YA Fiction

Coming Up on Shooting Stars Mag

*a post or two from Alicia
*a review of picture book My Name is Not Alexander (plus details on a vacation giveaway!!!)
*a review of Gwen Stefani's new album
*and lots more!

Friday, March 18, 2016

Collared by Nicole Williams Blog Tour

Alicia here, with the blog tour and a review for Collared. Enjoy!

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AP - Synopsis.jpg


When a seventeen-year-old girl vanishes,
A community is shaken.
Parents turn desperate.
Friends hold vigils.
And the boy who loves her searches.

When a year goes by,
The community is recovering.
Parents feel hopeless.
Friends feel helpless.
And the boy who loves her continues his search.

When ten years go by,
The community has forgotten.
Parents cling to the past.
Friends move toward the future.
And the boy who loves her . . .
Brings her home.

Jade Childs spent ten years in captivity, but now that she’s back, the real battle for survival begins. The media shadows her. Flashbacks haunt her. Her old life evades her. Her so-called new life rejects her. She spent too many years in the dark to recognize the light. She spent too long repressing her feelings to remember how to express them. She spent a decade abandoning hope and cannot dare letting it back into her life. Jade’s not just defined by what happened to her—she’s collared to it.

When the twenty-seven-year-old woman is found,
A community wants to know the story,
Parents want to forget the story,
Friends want to be a part of the story,
And the man who still loves her faces the greatest challenge yet: letting her go.   


AP- Excerpt.jpg

I feel something swirl at my ankle, then it grabs me. I’m sucked under instantly as the undercurrent slams me to the ocean bottom and tumbles me around. It’s happened before, so I don’t panic. I know that once it’s done with me, it will let me go. Once it’s twirled me around a few times, it will leave me alone.
I can feel it starting to lose momentum when two arms brace around me and break me free. When we pop through the surface, Torrin spins me around, terror drawing up his expression.
“Are you okay?” He holds me with one hand, inspecting me with the other like he’s going to find an elbow or organ missing.
I’m totally wet. I feel ocean water draining out of my ears and nose. My hair feels like a cyclone just had its way with it, and I know my skin’s red and blotchy from the sand exfoliation treatment I just received free of charge.
I laugh. This is what alive feels like. I remember.
It’s adrenaline pulsing so hard in my veins they feel about to burst. It’s feelings that twist my stomach into knots. It’s feeling so cold my body goes numb and so attracted to someone my body feels the opposite of numb.
This is it. Living. I can almost feel the blood warm in my veins as it starts to run again.
“Why are you laughing?” Torrin’s face flashes with relief when he sees I’m okay, but he doesn’t let go of me.
On the beach, my parents slowly make their way back to the beach blankets once they’ve seen I’m okay.
“That was fun.” I rub my stomach because it hurts. From the laughter. I’d forgotten stomachs could hurt from laughing.
“Fun? Not my idea of fun.”
I wipe the water from my face and find just as much sand pasted to it. “What’s your idea of fun then?”
Torrin’s still shaking his head when he suddenly shouts, “This!”
He pulls me under the water with him. He lets me go right away, but I don’t want him to. I don’t want him to ever let go.
           I splash him when he resurfaces a few feet away. “Did you just dunk me?”
           He splashes back. “I just did.”
           “You’ve heard of payback, right?” I move a little closer, ignoring the way I can feel my parents watching us from the beach.
           “I’ve heard of it. Not really a big fan though.”
           When I lunge at him and try to knock him under, he’s clearly bracing for it because all I do is smash into him. My wet body against his, our arms tangled together, our faces too close to not be aware of where each other’s mouths are . . .
           “What’s this payback thing again?” He’s practically gloating, so I come at it from a different angle.
           My eyes drop to his mouth and stay there until his lips part from his breaths coming faster. When my hand curves against the side of his face, sweeping down the line of his jaw, I feel his chest moving hard against mine. His arms tangle tighter behind me because I’m slipping through them. When that doesn’t work, he hoists me higher, and his arms form a net beneath my backside.
           I need to clear my head before I can’t remember what I’m doing.
           My eyes lift to his and hold there. When he blinks, a drop of water rolls off his eyelashes. My hand slides lower until my thumb is touching the corner of his mouth.
           “Torrin?” I whisper, my mouth lowering.
           “Yeah?” His voice is rough, coming from low in his throat.
           I move my mouth just outside his ear. “This . . . is . . .”—I burst free of his hold and slide his legs out from beneath him with my foot—“payback!”
           He goes down with a surprised shout and an explosive splash. I’m laughing again, and so is he when he pops his head above the water.
“Well played, Childs.”
           “Thank you very much,” I say with a bow, hoping he can’t see right through me the way I feel he can sometimes.
If he does, he’ll know. He’ll know I would have rather kissed him. I would rather still be kissing him. He’ll know that while I’m content to put most of the past behind me, there’s one part I want to pack and bring with me to the future.
           Him.
           I think he might see it though, because I think I might see it in him too.
The sun catches his eyes just right when he looks at me. “You always had a way of taking the ground right out from beneath me.”

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My Review

Collared is the other book I read this week and this review is another one that needs to remain spoiler free. It doesn't come out until Tuesday, but there is a big twist that must be protected. And this book also made me teary--it was not a good week for my poor, poor emotions. 

I'm just going to start by saying that Collared is the perfect title. There is the very obvious reason, and that would be that Jade has been kidnapped for 10 years, and during that time she wore a collar. But the other great thing is that there is another person that the word collared relates to, and you have no freaking clue about it.

I'd say about 90% of the books I read, I'm able to figure out the twists and plot points pretty freaking early in a book. It's pretty rare that I don't see anything coming. So when this huge twist was dropped, I was beyond shocked. I never saw it coming. The twist is something that no one would ever think of, so major props to Williams' for totally shocking me and being totally unpredictable. 

Jade and Torrin. Torrin just equals the swoons (see next paragraph.). And Jade, wow, she's so freaking strong. This woman is a survivor. This book is all about showing how someone is not a victim, but a survivor. I can't even imagine being kidnapped for 10 years, and then coming home. Leaving as a teenager, but coming back as a teenager stuck in an adults body... man. But Jade perseveres. She's one of the strongest characters I've read about. 

So, the romance. Here's the deal: this book has romance, but it is not a romance book. If you're looking for kissing and sexytimes, this is not the book for you. There is barely, like a teeny tiny bit of that, but that's it. Why, you may be asking yourself. That once again comes back to the twist. I will say that the vagueness almost makes it seem like Torrin is with someone else, but he isn't. There is no cheating or any of that in here. Anyways, the romance is very sweet. I loved how much they still loved each other after all those years apart. And, wow, the level of love Torrin holds for Jade is beyond awe-inspiring. This is a man who never, ever, ever gave up looking for her or gave up his hope that she would be rescued. *swoon* Jade and Torrin are soul mates, and that's that.

One of my least favorite things about Collared is the ending. The book is all about Jade and her healing, so while the book did end at a very appropriate spot, I was not satisfied. I needed to see how she and other people were doing in a couple of years. The ending is very hopeful, but I really needed more. 

Collared is a solid read. If you're looking for a book about a kidnapping victim that doesn't immediately fall into a physically intense, romantic relationship, and that feels really true to what happens to kidnapping victims when they come back, check this one out. 

Overall: 4/5
Cover Comments: Pretty
Source: egalley via publicist

Buy the Book 
Available on March 22!


 Amazon UK  
Nook 
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Nicole Williams is the New York Times and USATODAY bestselling author of contemporary and young adult romance, including the Crash and Lost & Found series. Her books have been published by HarperTeen and Simon & Schuster in both domestic and foreign markets, while she continues to self-publish additional titles. She is working on a new YA series with Crown Books (a division of Random House) as well. She loves romance, from the sweet to the steamy, and writes stories about characters in search of their happily even after. She grew up surrounded by books and plans on writing until the day she dies, even if it’s just for her own personal enjoyment. She still buys paperbacks because she’s all nostalgic like that, but her kindle never goes neglected for too long. When not writing, she spends her time with her husband and daughter, and whatever time’s left over she’s forced to fit too many hobbies into too little time.

Nicole is represented by Jane Dystel, of Dystel and Goderich Literary Agency.



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