Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Undeniable by Madeline Sheehan

I went to Boston for the Boston Author Event, and while waiting in the frigid cold, I was told by 3 separate people to read Undeniable. I was only told it was about bikers, and all 3 said it with a smirk. To really grasp how naive I was, I didn't find out until I got home that the author was in Boston for this event.

So my ignorance about the plot was a blessing in disguise. Had I known it was going to start the way it did, I might have passed on it. The first couple of chapters really had me cringing at my eReader, but I soon realized that those questionable moments were necessary to make the rest of the story believable. If the story is a house, then those moments were a very solid foundation. If you live in Canada, it would be the kind of foundation that Mike Holmes would be very proud of.

I believe that the worst insult to a writer is for the reader to feel indifferent after they finish the book. It could mean indifference towards certain characters or the story as a whole. In either case, it's not good. If you love/hate something, it means that it was worth having an opinion about. To love something is great, but sometimes to hate something speaks greater volumes about the author's ability to suck the reader in to the story and keep them enthralled. So when I say I HATED Frankie, it's meant with extreme flattery.

Frankie was probably the kid that lit things on fire as a toddler, and started killing the neighbourhood cats by the time he was ten. As I kept reading, I was so disturbed by this nut job. Frankie would have been the ideal candidate for a nature/nurture debate. Though we don't get many details about his early childhood, it didn't come as a surprise when he finally lost his shit. As it was nearing that horrible part in the book, all I could think was 'if he's going to do what I think he's going to do, then Kevin Spacey's character from Seven has nothing on him'. I became so infuriated when I realized that smashing my ereader wouldn't get rid of him. 'Busting a cap in his ass would solve this' was my next thought.

Though Frankie is a major part of the story, it really is about Eva and Deuce. Both of whom I could have driven over countless times during numerous scenes (for some reason, this book made me want to inflict severe violence on almost every character). It seemed like just when the reader got the smallest glimmer of hope, one of these morons goes and destroys it. And just so they can drive the point home, they take a figurative bulldozer over all that crap, making it seems almost impossible for any sort of reconciliation.

This book got under my skin and I absolutely loved it. It's the best kind of itch that you can scratch (hey! I meant by reading it several times a week!). There are vomit-inducing scenes, but there are also moments of hilarity. Those were the ones I used to get my heartbeat back to normal. So you can really understand that this is now one of my favourite stories, I picked Montana to go into the Final Four in the NCAA. They lost in the first round, but just selecting them in my bracket had me diving for my eReader.

I can't wait for Canada Post to deliver the paperback - because it's one of those books that I NEED in more than one format.

I guess if you haven't read it, this is making you scratch your head. If you are considering reading it, be warned: it's not sunshine and rainbows. It's exceptionally raw, and at moments extremely disturbing, but it has such an underlying intensity that you just can't put it down. The story gets away with things that only a book based on these exact characters can.

Monday, 25 March 2013

Flat-Out Matt (ARC) by Jessica Park

This post contains a SPOILER so please stop reading NOW if you don’t want to find out what it is.

Last chance – you were warned!

Last night, I noticed a Facebook post by the amazing Jessica Park saying she was ready to vomit at the thought of hitting the “publish” button for Flat-Out Matt. I was fortunate enough to read the ARC, and suddenly I got scared. This story needs to be published. I’d normally write my thoughts on this story, but I think times like these require words of encouragement.

Just as they were about to jump, Matt asked Julie if she was scared.

“Yes! Yes, I’m scared!”

“I’ve got you!”

Then they jumped.

Ms. Park - if Julie can jump, you can push the button. You need to trust us readers to be your Matt (not in an inappropriate way or anything). We’ve got you. We won’t let anything happen to you or this story. We fell in love with Matt when we saw him through Julie’s eyes and we adore him for everything he is. You wrote Flat-Out Matt with such exquisite detail and the world needs to read your words. Matt went from being an incredibly sexy geek, to a heart-stopping-babies-will-be-named-after-him character who can hold his own with all the tattooed bad-boys, lovable rockers, and delicious bikers.

You did that! So embrace your awesomeness and hit the button!

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Walking Disaster (ARC) by Jamie McGuire

Walking Disaster (ARC) by +Jamie McGuire  – Atria Books (2013)

I think I have to mention that this book is not available to the masses until April. I received the ARC from the publisher. I was not asked to review it, nor was it given to me in favour of a good review. The following opinions are mine, and mine only. If you know me, you know I love to read; it consumes me.

Can you love someone too much?
Travis Maddox learned two things from his mother before she died: Love hard. Fight harder.
In Walking Disaster, the life of Travis is full of fast women, underground gambling, and violence. But just when he thinks he is invincible, Abby Abernathy brings him to his knees.
Every story has two sides. In Beautiful Disaster, Abby had her say. Now it's time to see the story through Travis's eyes.

I’m embarrassed to say that I lost count of how many times I’ve read Beautiful Disaster. The 10th time was in early September of 2012 shortly after the paperback was released to the masses, but that’s where I lost track. This is my ‘go-to’ book; when I have nothing else to read; when I need a pick-me-up; when I’m restless and knowing that only thing that can settle me is the story of Abby and Travis. This is the book I read after having finished a disappointing novel. I use it as a reminder of how a great story should be written. I know how the book ends, but it never fails me to pull me out of a rut. When I finish it yet again, calm settles over me.

I placed Beautiful Disaster on pedestal. It’s actually on a pedestal which itself is on a pedestal. It’s the story that all others are compared to, and only a few can measure up to. I admit that the idea of Walking Disaster petrified me. I actually prayed to the book-gods because the last thing I wanted was for this book to be inferior.

Ms. McGuire did good – real good. I waited with bated breath to hear the story from Travis’ point of view and the book did nothing but deliver and live up to my incredibly sky-high expectations.

The thing that stuck me the most was how much my heart broke for Travis. In Beautiful Disaster, you saw Abby try to deal with her ever-conflicted emotions, but in Walking Disaster, you see how her ignorance of it all unravels Travis. It makes him vulnerable and brings to light some of his own underlying insecurities. I always suspected that there was more to him than just a bad-ass fighter with serious temper issues, but in this book, you understand they ‘why’ behind every punch. And can this boy love! You see it in Beautiful Disaster, but it’s nothing compared to the all-consuming, gut-wrenching way it comes across in Walking Disaster.

There are moments in this book that had me freaking out, clapping my hands, and squealing like a teeny-bopper meeting their favourite boy-band. I loved everything about this book; the scenes with the Maddox brothers; the heartfelt conversations between Jim and Travis; the fighting. I even loved all the heartbreak. It seemed much more real living it through Travis eyes.

When I finished the book and turned off my eReader, I felt hollow. The ending did justice and provided an incredible closure to all the die-hard Abby and Travis enthusiast, but I will forever want more. I could read about their story until they are in their 90s and living in an old-age home.

After the first initial 'oh my god I have an ARC of Walking Disaster' read, I read both books side-by-side. Both POVs work together so beautifully ( saw that?!) and are crucial to the story as a whole. I’m not an authority in the publishing world, nor do I have any credentials that would force you to listen to me. But what I do have is an undying love for books, and I would put all of them on the line to make sure that people read the entire story of Abby and Travis.

Something else to know – I have 4 copies of the paperback waiting to be shipped by I think any dedicated reader needs a reading copy, a ‘lending copy’, a back-up copy, and one to get signed by the author if the opportunity arises. I have to get a couple more, as I’ve been requested to take them to my best-friend in Estonia. This does not include the eBook which is also on pre-order, and the audio book which I will also buy.  My point: the love of all things Travis and Abby eliminates all rational thought and behaviour. It cannot be helped.

Reaper's Property by Joanna Wylde

This book was recommended to me by an agent, after I begged for good reading material (I was in a slump!). I really haven’t had a chance to update my reviews for my recent reads, but this is the one I'll start the 'updating' process with. This was my first foray into 'biker bad-boys' and I really (REALLY) liked it.

The characters were a bit grittier than what I’m used to, but I have to admit that I loved them. I get that Horse was written as the ultimate bad-ass, but there was something truly endearing about him when he had anything to do with Marie. I found myself cringing at some of the descriptive dialogue but I realize that it was necessary for this story. I think if the author had been more subdued in her writing, the characters would not have been believable.

My life is on the complete opposite end of the spectrum from these characters. I can’t vouch for anything to do with biker clubs so I won’t even try. To that point though, there was something extremely relatable to the story. Regardless of what one might say, I think all women want to be taken care of, though at times, Horse takes it to the extreme. Personally, I’m all for a great love story, but what I really appreciated that Horse didn’t turn into a wuss the moment he got together with Marie. This might not seem like a big thing, but I believe if an author is only working towards the HEA, they don’t always honor the characters that they put all this effort into developing. In this case, Horse stayed true to his first ‘family’ but found a way to incorporate the woman he loved into it.

I read this book in a frenzy, but I was aware enough to know that I’d read it again.

Friday, 15 March 2013

'Twas the night before Boston...

...and all through the house, the boy was asleep and I on the couch. What I should be doing is laundry and packing but I work better under tight deadlines. In all honesty, where is the excitement if you are not running around the house, knowing that if you even try to look for that must-pack item, you'll miss the plane?

Sometime in January, I went on +Simon & Schuster and noticed that Colleen Hoover was going to Boston in March. At this point, I was hooked on anything and everything to do with her, +Jamie McGuire , Tammara Webber, +Abbi Glines, and +Katja Millay.

Funny enough, my husband sent me to the Texas book signing. Ms. Hoover was going to be there with +Jamie McGuire and Tammara Webber - it was like having all the best days of my life mushed into one. To give credit where credit is due, I can honestly say that I would have never been introduced to any of these superb authors and their books if I had never read Beautiful Disaster.
I think going to Texas started something. When I saw BookBash, I called my younger sisters telling them that even if I have to pay for their airfare, we are going to Orlando. Turns out, Colleen Hoover, Tammara Webber, and +Jamie McGuire will be there as well. Nothing like owning 2 sets of autographed books. to make for an amazing 2013.

At BookBash I would finally get to meet +Katja Millay, +Abbi Glines, S.C. Stephens, +K.A. Tucker, +Tina Reber, and +Rebecca Donovan. Now don't get me wrong - there are other authors going to Orlando that I'm dying to meet, but these nine authors have been responsible for some of my seriously sleepless nights. This is where I try to stress that I do have a life and I'm not crazy. Because I'm not.

The decision to go to the Boston Author Event was a last-minute thing. I messaged +Jessica Park  asking why she wasn't going to the BookBash event in June. She had a conflict and told me I should come to Boston. My plane ticket and hotel were book within 36 hours of that conversation, but if my husband asks, I waited until after I spoke to him.

So I'm going to Boston to meet Jessica Park because she won't be at BookBash. And because I have a massive book-crush on Matt, which I need to thank her for.

And as of late today I decided I was going to send my best-friend-in-the-entire-world Reckless (S.C. Stephens) for her birthday. She lives in Estonia, and is obsessed. This works out perfect, because I just happen to have two copies and one will be snail-mailed to her next week.