Smoke Signals

Smoke SignalsSmoke Signals by Catherine Gayle
Series: Tulsa Thunderbirds #2
Published by Night Shift Publishing on 2015-10-22
Genres: Action, Contemporary, Romance, Sports
Pages: 326
Source: author | eARC

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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ARCREVIEW HEARTBREAKING PAGETURNER ROMANCE SWOON TEARJERKER

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From the back cover...

Desperation changes a person. Leads them to do things they never would have dreamed.

Thanks to his mother, Ray “Razor” Chambers knows what desperation can lead a person to do. But as a defenseman for the Tulsa Thunderbirds, those days are long in the past for both of them. His best buddy is about to get hitched in Vegas when a woman whose eyes are filled with an all-too-familiar haunted look approaches Razor. She makes him a proposition, and he knows he’s witnessing yet another act borne of desperation.

Viktoriya Dubrovskaya knows all about desperation, too. She came to America to study ballet and escape a fate no one should have to bear. She can never go home again. She’s broke and broken, not to mention in survival mode. Viktoriya turned to the only help offered, but in the end it stripped her of everything she was and all she wanted. Now she’s out of time, money, and options…until she sees Razor.

There’s no chance he’ll take her up on what she’s offering, but he suggests a counter-proposal—one involving a ring, a green card, and the chance to reclaim her body. It’s an opportunity she can’t pass up, but for Viktoriya and Razor, learning to live together as husband and wife is as foreign as interpreting Smoke Signals. And where there’s smoke, there’s usually fire.

My Review

Smoke Signals is the second book in the Tulsa Thunderbirds series, a spinoff and companion series to Catherine Gayle’s fantastic Portland Storm series.  And like all of the books in these two series, this novel combines love, steamy romance, hockey, and real life issues that hit hard.

I love hockey and I love novels about hockey.  And I have no small amount of love for the attention to detail that Catherine puts into the hockey aspects of the book, making it not only absorbing for long-time fans like myself, but putting in just enough explanation into her writing to make it easy for hockey noobs to understand, too.  But as much as I love the hockey, it is the characters and their stories that really make the difference.  The characters are so real, so well-developed, that you truly become connected to their stories.

This book revolves around Ray “Razor” Chambers, who we originally meet in the Portland Storms series.  When he goes to Vegas for his best friend Bab’s wedding to his long-time love Katie, he expects only to be there for that important day and to see old friends.  What he doesn’t expect is that is entire life will change.  But change is what happens when he meets the gogeous Viktoriya Dubrovskya.  Gorgeous, a porn star, and one of the most broken women he has ever met.  And his only mission from that moment is to protect her and to help her, no matter what she or anyone else says about it.

Like all of these books, Smoke Signals is raw and emotional and Catherine doesn’t shy away from real issues and real problems.  This is probably one of the more graphic novels in the series and that is less about the steamy factor and more about the very real issues that Viktoriya goes through over the course of the story.  I found it hard to read at moments, but that wasn’t because of the book itself or how it was written.  It was because it was just difficult to imagine the kind of hell that human beings can put each other through and the circumstances that put people into the positions they find themselves.  The author has a knack for finding these issues and highlighting them through her characters in a way that may make you uncomfortable and emotionally raw, but also in ways that truly make you think.

Rating Report
Plot
five-stars
Characters
five-stars
Writing
five-stars
Pacing
five-stars
Cover
five-stars
Overall: 5

About Catherine Gayle

Catherine Gayle is a bestselling author of Regency-set historical romance and contemporary hockey romance with a New Adult feel. She’s a transplanted Texan living in North Carolina with two extremely spoiled felines. In her spare time, she watches way too much hockey and reality TV, plans fun things to do for the Nephew Monster’s next visit, and performs experiments in the kitchen which are rarely toxic.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

Juniors

JuniorsJuniors by Kaui Hart Hemmings
Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books on 2015-09-22
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 320
Source: Penguin First to Read | eARC

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from Penguin First to Read in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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ARCREVIEW ISNTA ROMANCE ya

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From the back cover...

Lea Lane has lived in between all her life.

Part Hawaiian, part Mainlander. Perpetual new girl at school. Hanging in the shadow of her actress mother’s spotlight. And now: new resident of the prominent West family’s guest cottage.

Bracing herself for the embarrassment of being her classmates’ latest charity case, Lea is surprised when she starts becoming friends with Will and Whitney West instead—or in the case of gorgeous, unattainable Will, possibly even more than friends. And despite their differences, Whitney and Lea have a lot in common: both are navigating a tangled web of relationships, past disappointments and future hopes. As things heat up with Will, and her friendship with Whitney deepens, Lea has to decide how much she's willing to change in order to fit into their world.

Lea Lane has lived in between all her life. But it isn’t until her junior year that she learns how to do it on her own terms.

My Review

I loved everything about this book!  The setting, the story line, the characters… all of it!

I originally picked this book because I have a soft spot for all things Hawaiian.  I lived there 18 years ago and I am about to move back, so I love to read about the place I love so much.  As a Hawaiian herself, the author shows a little of the Hawaii that exists away from the tourists, and that is the Hawaii that I love so much.

But even aside from all of that, the story line is wonderful.  Lea is the epitome of Every Girl.  Her mom is a minor actress and that has meant a lot of moves, a lot of first days as the new girl.  It has also meant spending a lot of time in her mother’s shadow,  She is brilliant, but a bit isolated from her peers and unsure of herself socially.  She also has a keen sense of who people are at the core, but even for her, that sense can fail her.

Her mother and she have recently moved back to Kailua and soon her mother’s friends have invited them to live in the guest house on their property.  It is an invitation into a whole new world, and while it has its perks, Lea clearly feels out of place.  And that is why I loved her character.  Even exposed to all of the wealth, she remained true to herself.  She unexpectedly becomes close to both the son and the daughter of her mother’s friends and even as she is becoming a part of that world, she still refuses to become anything other than who she is.  And I loved that.

While Lea is the focus of the story, the supporting characters are just as important as she is.  Danny, her childhood best friend from short trips to the islands, is her rock now that she is living in Hawaii full-time.  He is the bridge between the world she has always known, the Lea she has always been, and this new world she is experiencing for the first time.  Whitney is the daughter living in the main house and she is nothing like Lea thought.  Will, her brother, is also different than what she had once thought.  Those two characters really set forth the meaning of the Tolkein poem “all that is gold does not glitter.”  These characters are ones that are easily identifiable in one way or another an that drew me into the story.

This is a story about friendships, relationships, and staying true to yourself.  It is about hard choices and doing what is right no matter what the consequences.  It is a story that goes beneath the surface and shows that things are not always as they seem to be.  It is a beautiful story with fantastic characters.

Rating Report
Plot
four-stars
Characters
five-stars
Writing
four-stars
Pacing
four-stars
Cover
five-stars
Overall: 4.4

About Kaui Hart Hemmings

Kaui Hart Hemmings has degrees from Colorado College, Sarah Lawrence, and she was a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University. Her first novel, a New York Times bestseller, THE DESCENDANTS, has been published in twenty-two other countries and is now an Oscar-winning film directed by Alexander Payne and starring George Clooney. Her new novel, The POSSIBILITIES, is an Oprah and People magazine “must read” and has been optioned by Jason Reitman. Her debut YA novel, JUNIORS, comes out in September 2015. She lives in Hawaii.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

The Summer Marked

The Summer MarkedThe Summer Marked by Rebekah L. Purdy
Series: The Winter People #2
Published by Entangled Teen on 2015-09-22
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 304
Source: NetGalley | eARC

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Buy/Shelve it: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo| Shelfari | LibraryThing | BookLikes | Goodreads

ARCREVIEW fantasy ROMANCE ya

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From the back cover...

The sequel to the chilling Winter People returns to the world of Faerie, and is a romantic and enchanting follow-up.

Salome left humankind behind to be with her boyfriend, Gareth, in the Kingdom of Summer. But now forces of darkness are rising. Her happily-ever-after is coming apart, and the Kingdom is on the brink of war.

Newly-single Kadie Byers is on her way home for Thanksgiving, imagining a visit filled with hot chocolate, a hot guy for a little rebound action, and some girl time with her bestie, Salome. Except she receives a message from Salome with two important words: PLEASE HURRY.

When Kadie rushes to help Salome, she’s ripped from the human world and pulled into the kingdoms of Faerie, where she's shocked to learn that Salome's monsters are real, and that she's now at the mercy of one extremely vengeful Winter Queen...

Now both Salome and Kadie must find a way to survive the deadly chaos...or lose themselves to Winter's deadly, icy grasp.

My Review

I truly enjoy this series!  I loved The Winter People and I love this sequel just as much!  The author creates characters that are so complex and so realistic.  Even as dark as the story is, it is beautiful with its weaving of our own reality and the dark reality of the Fae world.  It is a far cry from the Disneyfied version of faeries and that is something I look for in fae novels.

The Summer Marked picks up not long after The Winter People ends.  Salome, Gareth, and Nevin have returned to the Fae realm and it quickly becomes obvious that it is not going to be the eternal bliss that Salome had believed it would be.  This is compounded by the fact that she is struggling to find her place as a transplanted human in a faerie world that most don’t even believe exists.  I love the mythology that the author uses to build her world and the unique ways in which she uses it.  The realm was traditionally ruled by a single monarch that came from one of the four courts:  Summer, Winter, Spring, Autumn.  The idea is that a rotating court of control keeps power in check.  However, things happened in the past that took down three of the four courts and now the last, Summer, is in danger.  And it is this history that comes back and threatens to ruin the Fae world.

Many of the characters from the first novel are back in this one, with some surprising twists that truly change everything.  I love that Salome grows in this book, coming into her own and not just being there because of love.  She takes on the problems of the Summer court and makes them her own in surprising ways.  She is faced with decisions that no one should have to make, but she makes them.  Even as things seem to be happening to her, unexplainable things, she puts aside her worries in order to be there for her new people.  There is a strength in her character that is beautifully written and rather inspiring.

This installment is told from the alternating points of view of Salome and her best friend Kadie.  It is almost as much Kadie’s book as it is Salome’s.  Kadie is the epitome of a complex character.  It is difficult to get a true reading on her and that is why she is such a realistic character, even in a supernatural world.  In realitty there is really no black and white in humanity and Kadie’s character embodies this.

There are themes of love and forgiveness, trust and betrayal, sacrifice and second chances,  I loved that the strongest theme was that of sacrifice for the greater good, the selflessness that a decision like that requires.  This is an important message and it was clear without being at all “preachy.”

Rating Report
Plot
five-stars
Characters
five-stars
Writing
five-stars
Pacing
five-stars
Cover
five-stars
Overall: 5

About Rebekah L. Purdy

I was born and raised in Michigan (just look for the giant mitten on the map—it’ll likely throw a snowball at you). I spent most of my time in Michigan, but while in the army got to call KS, SC, MO, and CA home for awhile as well.

As a kid my family moved around a lot. Try spending both your freshman and senior years at new schools (yeah, loads of fun). I could’ve changed my name to “new girl”.

I love writing for teens because those are the years I remember falling in love with most of my favorite books. Some of the authors I couldn’t put down were L.J. Smith, Christopher Pike, R.L. Stine, Richie Tankersley Cusick, Joan Lowery Nixon, Lois Duncan, amongst several others.

My husband and I have a large family. There are six kids total! So we have LOTS of fun on vacations (although hours on the road, cooped up in the Expedition is kind of stressful—although we pass the time with MAD LIBS and hoping no one gets carsick).

Reading this book contributed to these challenges: