Thursday, July 31, 2014

Breathe, Annie, Breathe by Miranda Kenneally

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Annie hates running. No matter how far she jogs, she can’t escape the guilt that if she hadn’t broken up with Kyle, he might still be alive. So to honor his memory, she starts preparing for the marathon he intended to race.

But the training is even more grueling than Annie could have imagined. Despite her coaching, she’s at war with her body, her mind—and her heart. With every mile that athletic Jeremiah cheers her on, she grows more conflicted. She wants to run into his arms…and sprint in the opposite direction. For Annie, opening up to love again may be even more of a challenge than crossing the finish line.











I was so excited to pick this up from the library but did so without realizing that it was the fifth book in the Hundred Oaks series. I don’t know how that fact escaped me. So I just left it on my shelf staring at me, not willing to return it yet but also hesitant about reading a book out of order.  At 6 o’clock one morning when I just couldn’t sleep any more, I gave in. You see, I couldn’t knock this book out of my mind and it’s been that way since I saw the cover and read that excerpt. I grabbed my favourite blanket, propped myself on the couch and finished it in three hours.

I found myself wrapped up in Annie’s story immediately. Having run in the past, though not recently, I was fascinated by her decision to run a marathon and how she described her training. She’s still processing the loss of her boyfriend and rebuilding a life for herself. Doing this is her way to make Kyle’s own dream of running  a marathon come true.  It also keeps him close to her.  As I read on, I also felt like it was personal atonement for her for the things that did go wrong between them shortly before his death.  Her heart is a wreck just as much as her body is going through the grueling training. Despite the heavy discipline and the hours she spends between training, working and school, this single-minded focus is what is holding her together.

She’s thrown off when Jeremiah comes into the picture. It’s the first time she finds herself attracted to someone since Kyle and she feels a little guilt, as if she’s being untrue to his memory. But she knows life goes on and she has to go on with it. Still she won’t let her new friendship or attraction to Jeremiah mess with her end goal.  That being said, there’s also something refreshing about being in his company. Annie feels the pressure and loss most around people who knew Kyle and knew them as a couple. Hanging out with Jeremiah and his family is like finding an emotional sanctuary.

As these two draw closer, Annie learns that Jeremiah has his own quirks that he’s trying to work on. The question is can she handle a friendship with him knowing that there are certain things he needs in his life? It means they both have to learn to let go, have trust and embrace risks. This is the hurdle that Annie has to jump over in order to move on.

Breathe, Annie, Breathe is worthy of all the praise. It’s written so beautifully and the emotional moments are not sappy but are treated with sensitivity.  I also enjoyed the silly banter between Jeremiah and Annie. They are a good match for each other but it takes a while to get there. Any initial concerns I had about reading this series out of order has been dashed and I'll happily catch up on Kenneally's other books.

 ~ Bel


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (114)


Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that highlights future releases that we are excitedly anticipating.



Tell Me Again How a Crush Should FeelBy Sarah Farizan
Publication Date: October 7, 2014

High-school junior Leila has made it most of the way through Armstead Academy without having a crush on anyone, which is something of a relief. Her Persian heritage already makes her different from her classmates; if word got out that she liked girls, life would be twice as hard. But when a sophisticated, beautiful new girl, Saskia, shows up, Leila starts to take risks she never thought she would, especially when it looks as if the attraction between them is mutual. Struggling to sort out her growing feelings and Saskia s confusing signals, Leila confides in her old friend, Lisa, and grows closer to her fellow drama tech-crew members, especially Tomas, whose comments about his own sexuality are frank, funny, wise, and sometimes painful. Gradually, Leila begins to see that almost all her classmates are more complicated than they first appear to be, and many are keeping fascinating secrets of their own.




Even in ParadiseBy Chelsey Philpot
Publication Date: October 14, 2014

When Julia Buchanan enrolls at St. Anne’s at the beginning of junior year, Charlotte Ryder already knows all about the former senator’s daughter. Most people do... or think they do.

Charlotte certainly never expects she’ll be Julia’s friend. But almost immediately, she is drawn into the larger than-life-new girl’s world—a world of midnight rendezvous, dazzling parties, palatial vacation homes, and fizzy champagne cocktails. And then Charlotte meets, and begins falling for, Julia’s handsome older brother, Sebastian.

But behind her self-assured smiles and toasts to the future, Charlotte soon realizes that Julia is still suffering from a tragedy. A tragedy that the Buchanan family has kept hidden … until now.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Lead (Stage Dive #3) by Kylie Scott (Excerpt & A Freaking Awesome Giveaway Too!)





Stay up all night with the sexy rockers in Stage Dive, the epic New Adult series from New York Times bestselling author Kylie Scott, author of Lick and Play.

As the lead singer of Stage Dive, Jimmy is used to getting whatever he wants, whenever he wants it, whether it's booze, drugs, or women. However, when a PR disaster serves as a wake-up call about his life and lands him in rehab, he finds himself with Lena, a new assistant to keep him out of trouble.  

Lena's not willing to take any crap from the sexy rocker and is determined to keep their relationship completely professional, despite their sizzling chemistry. But when Jimmy pushes her too far and Lena leaves, he realizes that he may just have lost the best thing that ever happened to him.




Amazon // B&N // iTunes




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The Stage Dive series by Kylie Scott:



Lick (Stage Dive #1): Amazon / B&N / Goodreads

Play (Stage Dive #2): Amazon / B&N / Goodreads

Deep (Stage Dive #4) available on January 6th, 2015: Amazon / B&N /Goodreads


Review

* * * *



After ascending to hilarious highs in Play, it's time to get sober in Lead. Lena, who we met in the previous book, is hired to be Jimmy’s sobriety companion. Yes, the lead singer of the biggest band in the world needs a "babysitter" to make sure he doesn’t fall back into old addiction habits so that means being in close quarters with him at all hours, all day, every day.

Jimmy begrudgingly agrees to it. It’s not exactly what Lena had in mind either but since she’s still floundering after leaving home a year ago, she takes the job offer. As with the heroines in the previous two Stage Dive books, Lena is another strong female entering into the macho world of the Ferris brothers. She is so not intimidated by Jimmy at all. He can grunt his answers and be as anti-social as he wants to be but he doesn’t scare her off.

After a day that includes an emotional farewell and a particularly nasty and public encounter with another family member, Lena sees a whole new side to Jimmy that is otherwise kept very private. This is the Jimmy that is beyond reach.  And this is the Jimmy that she starts to have feelings for.  I have to say, Lena’s developing and inconvenient crush on him is adorable and funny.  Jimmy is so clueless that he doesn’t even pick up on it, at least not initially. However, anyone of us who has ever gone through that can recognize all the things that Lena is going through from the unintentional stares to the runaway thoughts turned fantasies. The boundaries start to get blurred and Lena knows that she’s falling for someone who is emotionally unavailable and incapable of the kind of intimacy that she wants. Let's not fail to remember that he is her boss too. Talk about complicated!

I appreciated that Lena is honest with herself.  She’s a big girl, she knows where this could lead and she’s prepared to deal with the consequences of her decisions, stupid as they could turn out to be. But she’s willing to take the risk to a certain extent. Jimmy on the other hand vacillates between wanting Lena to get her own life and wanting her to himself. Yes, there’s some jealousy and yes this big guy is in total denial about it. And when he suggests some utterly nonsensical ways for her to get over her crush on him (based on some silly magazine article) things naturally get heated up. People it’s hysterical and it’s made even more so because Jimmy is not only stubborn but also not very good with words. It still doesn’t stop Lena from mouthing off at him and falling deeper for him. As their relationship goes from professional to bizarre to hysterical to uneasy, he continues to be mostly grumpy and distant.  

One thing I like about the Stage Dive series is that all the heroines that have been introduced so far are impressive, independent women. They’re unapologetic about who they are and they don’t dwell on what they may be lacking. It’s refreshing. When it comes to relationships, these women aren’t necessarily interested in changing the guys who come into their lives. If anything, these women bring out the better versions of these hard rocking, hard living guys. Lena is no exception. She’s a phenomenal foil to Jimmy’s moodiness. She cares for him deeply and her relentless encouragement of him to push past his barriers slowly chip away at his gruff demeanor. Lots of stuff broken, hearts included in the process but since when has love ever been easy?

Lead has solidified my author crush on Kylie Scott. I don't know how but she once again manages to create a mini-universe within the Stage Dive family. Lena and Jimmy have their own unique story to tell independent of the others but it's still about a tight-knit family. They all gather around when needed and of course, Mal, that dear sweet clown is there to deliver extra laughs. 

And before I forget, I'd also like to thank whoever it is who's responsible for these freaking hot covers. Hot musicians and tattoos - an irresistible and dangerous combo! Look at these covers and discuss ...




They're just lovely, aren't they? So if you're into broody lead singers who will rock your world and wicked sharp heroines who are their match, Lead is a sure bet! And now that we've met David, Mal and Jimmy, I CANNOT wait to find out Ben's story in Deep :-)

In the meantime, check out the a delicious excerpt from the book and learn more about the awesome Stage Dive series and the incredible Kylie Scott!

~ Bel


Excerpt


“Lena, you seen my old black Led Zep shirt?”

“Nope.”

“You sure?” His brows became one dark cranky line. The scratches on his face were healing well, thank goodness. Though it didn’t reduce my desire to throttle his mother on a daily basis.

“Yes. I haven’t seen it.”

Can’t find it anywhere…”

“And this is a surprise, how?” I slipped my hands into my back jean’s pockets. “Jimmy, you own more clothing than Cher, Brittney, and Elvis, put together. Things are bound to go missing.”

“Sure you haven’t seen it?”

“For goodness sake, what do you think, Jimmy? That I stole it to sleep in or something?” I laughed bitterly. Sure as hell, the truth deserved a good mocking. I’d sunk so despicably low.

I hadn’t even meant to steal the stupid thing, but the shirt had been mixed up with my laundry a few days ago. It’d been the first top I laid my hand on after stepping out of the shower, ready to go to bed. Without thought, I’d put it on and it’d been so soft, the scent of him lingering beneath the laundry detergent. Every night since, I’d found myself in it come bedtime. My shame knew no limits. And no, I still hadn’t quit. The words still hadn’t come even close to leaving my mouth.

He frowned. “No.”

“That I have some deep secret longing to feel close to you resulting in my stealing your shirt like some creepy perv?”

“Course I don’t fucking think that,” he replied crankily, reaching up to grip the top of the doorframe. All of his bulging muscles stretched the arms of his white T-shirt in the nicest way. It was all I could do not to start drooling, my heart beat taking up residence somewhere down between my thighs. And who could blame it? Not me. Maybe if I got laid, this would go away and things would return to normal. It’d seemed safer to avoid rubbing up against any men just in case I got carried away and started dating again. This new situation, however, changed everything.

“Well, of course not! That would be crazy.” And wasn’t that the god’s honest truth? Cray-zeee. Lock me up and throw away the key because it wasn’t like I didn’t know better.

“Just can’t figure out where the hell it could be.”

Angels couldn’t have smiled as innocently. They might have tried, but they would have failed, the dirty-mouthed, winged, little liars. “Jimmy, I don’t know where it is. But I’ll look around for it later, okay?”

“Yeah,” he said, and then added as an afterthought, “and stop looking at me weird.”


“I’m not!”


About Kylie Scott:

Kylie is a long time fan of romance, rock music, and B-grade horror films. Based in Queensland, Australia with her two children and one delightful husband, she reads, writes and never dithers around on the internet.






Giveaway


So here's that freaking awesome giveaway we promised... Go forth and enter avid readers! Good luck!






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Unstoppable by Shannon Richard - Launch Day Blitz with Review, Excerpt & Giveaway




About UNSTOPPABLE
Some things you don't dare let go . . .
Melanie O'Bryan knows life is too short to be afraid of taking chances. And former Air Force sergeant Bennett Hart is certainly worth taking a chance on. He's agreed to help her students with a school project, but she's hoping the handsome handyman will offer her a whole lot more. Yet despite his heated glances and teasing touches, Mel senses there's something holding him back . . . Bennett Hart is grateful to be alive and back home in Mirabelle, Florida. Peaceful and uncomplicated-that's all he's looking for. Until a spunky, sexy-as-hell teacher turns his life upside down. After one smoldering kiss, Bennett feels like he's falling without a parachute. But with memories of his past threatening to resurface, he'll have to decide whether to keep playing it safe, or take the biggest risk of all. 





About Shannon Richard

Shannon Richard grew up in the Florida Panhandle as the baby sister of two overly protective but loving brothers. She was raised by a more than somewhat eccentric mother, a self-proclaimed vocabularist who showed her how to get lost in a book and a father who passed on his love for coffee and really loud music. She graduated from Florida State University with a BA in English Literature and still lives in Tallahassee where she battles everyday life with writing, reading, and a rant every once in a while. Okay, so the rants might happen on a regular basis. She's still waiting for her Southern, scruffy, Mr. Darcy, and in the meantime writes love stories to indulge her overactive imagination. Oh, and she's a pretty big fan of the whimsy.

WEB   FACEBOOK    TWITTER





Excerpt - The First Kiss

Oh God, who was she kidding? She’d never felt this way about any man before. Bennett was…well, infuriating to start with, but he was brave, smart, kind, funny, intense. There was nothing like having his full attention focused on her. He gave her way more than butterflies. It was like eagles were flapping around in her stomach whenever he was around. There were no flutters. They were freaking tidal waves.

Yeah, getting over Bennett was going to be way easier said than done.

Mel headed toward the supply closet at the back of her classroom where she locked up her purse in a filling cabinet. She grabbed the key and unlocked the top drawer, pulled out her purse, and slammed the drawer shut. When she turned around Bennett was standing in the doorway. Filling it completely. Mel stopped short and stared at him. His eyes were focused on her, the determination in them making all of the thoughts vacate her brain.

“I can’t leave you alone.” He came into the room and shut the door behind him. “And I’m not playing games.” He crossed the small space. “Or at least I’m not trying to.” He shook his head. “I think about you all the time.” He stopped in front of her, took the purse out of her hands, and put it on top of the filing cabinet. Then he reached up and touched her cheek. His fingers fanned out as he pushed his hand to the back of her head and tilted her face up.

Holy hell, what is happening?

She looked into his eyes, and her knees went just a little bit weak. She reached back and planted her hands against the wall, trying to find some balance, something to keep her upright, because she really didn’t want to miss this.

“Because I am interested in you, Mel.” He cupped her face with his other hand and ran his thumb across her lower lip. “Very interested.” He leaned forward and pressed his mouth to hers.

The kiss was soft and gentle at first, just his lips against hers. He took another step into her, pushing her back. When she hit the wall she gasped, and Bennett took advantage of her open mouth. He sucked her bottom lip into his mouth, and she couldn’t stop the moan that escaped her throat.

She plastered herself up against him, against every inch of his hard body. Her arms wound around his shoulders; her hands skittered up the back of his head. She opened her mouth further and his tongue touched hers. Bennett groaned as their tongues began a thorough exploration of each other’s mouths.

His hands were at the back of her head, his fingers deftly pulling out the pins that held up her bun. And then he was unwinding her hair, his hands plunging deep into her unruly curls.

“I’ve wanted to do this for so long,” he said against her mouth. “These curls of yours drive me out of my mind.”

“What stopped you?” She nipped at his lower lip.

“Pure stupidity,” he said, as he claimed her mouth again.

Holy cow, can this man kiss. I feel it everywhere, and do I mean everywhere! He had her toes curling in her shoes, all manner of body parts tingling where they were pushed up against his, and his hands were magic in her hair. One of his hands drifted down to her side. He touched her hip for a second before his hand slid to the small of her back. He held her to him, but really, she wasn’t going anywhere.

“Mel,” a voice called out from her classroom. “Are you here?”

There were only a few things that could bring Mel back to reality with the snap of a finger. The sound of her little brother’s voice was definitely one of them.

“Oh crap, it’s Hamilton,” Mel gasped, pulling back. Bennett’s hand was behind her head, and it prevented her from hitting the wall. “I’ll be right out!” she answered Hamilton, unable to completely cover up the breathy edge to her voice.

Bennett nodded. He let go of her reluctantly, and took a step back. “You’re going to have to give me a minute before I can go out there,” he said, clearing his throat uncomfortably.

“Oh,” she said, nodding. “Um, okay.”

Actually, she was going to need a minute, too. She knew her hair was everywhere, and she had a feeling Bennett’s scruffy jaw had left its fair share of marks on her face. Not to mention her thoroughly swollen lips.

Soooo worth it.


Nat's Review

Bennett really is Mel’s hero.  Mel was shot when she inadvertently walked into a robbery in progress and Bennett was suddenly there to help her.  He visited her in the hospital regularly.  He helped her recover at home.  Then after the recovery, he stuck around to share carry-out and his favorite TV shows on DVD.  Needless to say, they became close friends.  But Mel wants more.  She’s been interested in Bennett long before the shooting.  His constant attention and their growing friendship have only succeeded in making her crush stronger. 

Bennet is what I like to call a “slow starter.”  He obviously has a thing for Mel.  But he doesn’t realize it.  It takes a while for Bennett to really figure out anything when it comes to feelings and relationships.  Actually it doesn’t take a while.  It takes forever.  He insists they are just friends even though he is now spending more time with her than his own friends.  When he finally realizes that he likes her and wants to start dating, he dives right in.  But then begins the painstaking yet amusing process of him realizing the next step in their relation.  Five billion years after Mel and all their friends have already figured it out.

I might make fun of Bennett but the fact is I absolutely adored him.  He tries so hard and succeeds almost every time.  And Mel is absolutely lovely.  She is one my favorite types of heroines; patient, nurturing, funny and sexy.  Together, these two have an amazingly fiery and sexy relationship. 

Unlike my usual fare, Unstoppable only contains a smidge of angst and temporary heartbreak.  This story is full of sexy happiness and good times.  I can’t recommend this one enough if you enjoy contemporary romance.

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On the Fence by Kasie West

On the Fence* * * ½   

She's a tomboy. He's the boy next door…

Charlie Reynolds can outrun, outscore, and outwit every boy she knows. But when it comes to being a girl, Charlie doesn't know the first thing about anything. So when she starts working at a chichi boutique to pay off a speeding ticket, she finds herself in a strange new world. To cope with the stress of her new reality, Charlie takes to spending nights chatting with her neighbor Braden through the fence between their yards. As she grows to depend on their nightly Fence Chats, she realizes she's got a bigger problem than speeding tickets-she's falling for Braden. She knows what it means to go for the win, but if spilling her secret means losing him for good, the stakes just got too high.

Fun, original, and endearing, 
On the Fence is a romantic comedy about finding yourself and finding love where you least expect.





Review:

Charlie Reynolds isn’t prepared for the consequences when her police officer father comes home with a copy of her latest speeding ticket. Charlie is paying for this ticket and she’s going to have to find a job to do so.   Her half-hearted attempt at a job search lands her a job working for a small clothing boutique.  The new job comes with a lot of changes – including new clothes and makeup.  Those are changes that make tomboy Charlie uncomfortable.  They are also changes that Charlie will do anything to hide from her over protective dad and brothers. 

Charlie has been content with being one of the guys.  She takes quite a bit of pride in the fact that she can keep up with her three brothers and their friends.  But this new job is introducing her to a new part of her life.  One that she has no idea how to merge with her current life.  Added to the emotional chaos is her growing attraction to her neighbor and brother’s best friend, Braden.  Their late night chats over the fence have been the highlight of her summer.  But she’s convinced he doesn’t return her feelings and isn’t willing to risk what they already have.

I love a good boy next door story and Braden was a perfect boy next door.  I would actually put him in the “forever boy” category.  And we all know how much I love my “forever boys.”  I also loved the Reynolds boys.  Both dad and sons.  They are ridiculously overprotective but at the same time they love her so much I couldn’t help but shake my head and smile.

And I adored Charlie.  Not because she was a tomboy that played every sport and breathed baseball.   Although that WAS cool.  It was the fact that her insecurities were so identifiable.  Haven’t we ALL been there.  As the reader we are all thinking how obvious it is that Braden has a thing for Charlie.  But, I can say from experience, sometimes we just don’t have enough confidence in ourselves to see what is so obvious to others.  And, boy, is Charlie lacking confidence.  That is her main internal struggle in this story and many will identify with it.

On the Fence is engaging and light.  If you are looking for a sweet teen romance then I recommend you add this title to your summer reading list.

Nat

Monday, July 28, 2014

A Peek In The BiblioBin #109



Welcome to our Stacking the Shelves post! Stacking the Shelves (or as we like to call it, A Peek in the BiblioBin) has been created by the lovely ladies at Tynga's Reviews.

Stacking the Shelves is a way for bloggers to share what books they have won, received for review, bought from the bookstore, borrowed from the library or friend, etc.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Play (Stage Dive #2) by Kylie Scott

* * * * 



Kylie Scott returns with the highly anticipated follow-up to international bestseller Lick.

Mal Ericson, drummer for the world famous rock band Stage Dive, needs to clean up his image fast—at least for a little while. Having a good girl on his arm should do the job just fine. Mal doesn’t plan on this temporary fix becoming permanent, but he didn’t count on finding the one right girl. Anne Rollins never thought she’d ever meet the rock god who plastered her teenage bedroom walls—especially not under these circumstances. Anne has money problems. Big  ones. But being paid to play the pretend girlfriend to a wild life-of-the-party drummer couldn’t end well. No matter how hot he is. Or could it?


Kylie Scott made a fan out of me with Lick, the first in the Stage Dive series.  The chemistry that she brought to David and Ev’s relationship was ridiculously fantastic in its intensity. In Play, she does the same thing though a different kind of chemistry and a whole lot of hilarity.

Mal Erickson, hottie drummer extraordinaire is essentially the class clown. He’s the funny guy who can crack a joke in a millisecond, diffuse a tense moment and just reduce anyone into fits of giggles. He’s the guy who enjoys baiting people and riling them up. Hmmm… kind of reminds me of my hubby.  Anne comes into his life one night at a party after mutual friends convince her to join them in an effort to cheer her up. You see, earlier she came home to an empty apartment, her deadbeat roommate having moved out without so much as a warning or even repaying the money Anne had loaned her. At the party, Anne seeks out a quiet spot to have a conversation with her friend Reece, who is also her boss at the bookstore. He also happens to be the object of her unrequited love. She doesn’t realize that Mal is in the background listening in on her end of the phone conversation. So their initial meeting is a little awkward and Mal is of course, mischievous.

Later that night he announces they’re destined to be together and they’re moving in. He’s obviously drunk and Anne has no idea what to do with him. There’s no way he could possibly be serious. Oh just wait. The next day, there he is all moved in. In her apartment. This is for real! Apparently, he feels that they can each benefit from this arrangement. She wouldn’t have to worry about rent and for some reason that he refuses to divulge, he needs someone to be his pretend girlfriend. Anne ends up going with it. Who knows it could be fun plus she's curious about Mal.  

Okay, this whole setup is outlandish but I’m not reading this for a heavy dose of reality.  I knew I'd be in for a fun read and I was honest to goodness laughing my behind off! I mean the kind of laughing where your entire body is shaking. Mal is so comical. He’s like a goofy puppy dog wanting to be played with and adored. Lucky Anne gets to deal with this hyper, dramatic manchild and she deftly holds her own. Their conversations and quips are spot on. The timing just perfect. She handles whatever is thrown at her like a champ and she dishes back. So much about their whole setup seems implausible but they somehow get each other and they click.  

As with these things, there is obviously something going on with Mal below the surface. He just refuses to talk about it.  At some point, Mal can no longer keep up appearances. He eventually confides in Anne. When that happens, Anne's heart goes out to him. Using her screwed up family as an example to help Mal open up, she can perhaps sort herself out too. 

By the way, these two together are as hot as hell! Even when they’re baiting each other it’s sexy and fun. My favourite scene involves the crashing of a bed and that ludicrous banter leading up to it. I’m not telling you, you’ll just have to read it for yourself.

In between all the sexy stuff and funny jokes, what's troubling Mal also affects the rest of the band. When that all comes to light, it’s wonderful to see the entire band rally around each other. This is a family and they stick together no matter what. So it’s nice for Anne, who has always had to fix things herself, to see this, experience it and be embraced into this family. It’s also nice for her to finally be appreciated by someone who actually sees her instead of her being taken for granted.

Play is awesome. Lick was intense and complicated and Play does have some of that. While Mal may drive a lot of the action, it's Anne's impressive acceptance of his craziness and how unique their relationship is that makes the story special. And because Kylie Scott does such a bang up job of creating distinct personas for her characters, Play is exciting, heartwarming, adventurous and no lie, laugh-out-loud funny!

~ Bel


* The review for Lead (Stage Dive #3) will be posted on its release day, Tuesday, July 29