Friday, July 31, 2015

Book Review: Racing The Sun by Karina Halle

From Goodreads:

From the New York Times bestselling author of Where Sea Meets Sky comes a new adult novel about a young woman who becomes a nanny in Capri and falls for her charges’ bad-boy brother.

It’s time for twenty-four-year-old Amber MacLean to face the music. After a frivolous six months of backpacking through New Zealand, Australia, and Southeast Asia, she finds herself broke on the Mediterranean without enough money for a plane ticket home to California. There are worse places to be stuck than the gorgeous coastline of southern Italy, but the only job she manages to secure involves teaching English to two of the brattiest children she’s ever met.

It doesn’t help that the children are under the care of their brooding older brother, Italian ex-motorcycle racer Desiderio Larosa. Darkly handsome and oh-so-mysterious, Derio tests Amber’s patience and will at every turn—not to mention her hormones.

But when her position as teacher turns into one as full-time nanny at the crumbling old villa, Amber finds herself growing closer to the enigmatic recluse and soon has to choose between the safety of her life back in the States and the uncertainty of Derio’s closely guarded heart.

My review:

5 "Now That's How You Do New Adult" Stars!

We briefly met Amber in Where Sea Meets Sky, and now it's her time to shine. I would never have guessed that the shy, quiet girl trekking around the world in WSMS would be such a strong, brave and admirable character! You do not need to read Where Sea Meets Sky to read this book. 

A moth has passed already. Suddenly, the last thing I want to do is leave.

With two months left on her visa and no money for a plane ticket home, 24 year old American Amber McLean takes up a job as an English teacher for a difficult set of twins on the island of Capri, Italy. After the tragic death of their parents, the twins are left in the care of their 29 year old brother, Derio. Derio is agonizingly handsome man, but his brooding and reclusive nature picks at Amber's already-stretched patience. 
When unexpected circumstances throw Amber into the role of full-time nanny, she's swept off into a slow building romance with the damaged ex-motercyle racer. With deportation threatening as the weeks go by, Amber and Derio must find a way to make it work, or give it all up.

I'm falling in love with him. Every second, every minute, every day. It's terrifying but it's real. It's the worst of my fears with the best of my dreams. And beneath it all is the inevitable crash. Because at the end of the day, whether I love him or he loves me, only one fact remains.
I can't stay here. 

It's no secret I'm a huge fan of Karina Halle, but I was really disappointed with the book that sparked this spin-off, Where Sea Meets Sky. Where Sea Meets Sky was a weak, rather flat novel with an overused ending and apathetic characters. Needless to say, I was so hesitant to see where Racing The Sun would take me. I shouldn't have worried. This book was a beautiful, smart romance with a fantastic heroine, beautifully descriptive writing, and enough Italian flair to make me want to hop on the next plane to Italy and just stay there forever.

"I'm pretty sure I'm just a person composed of nothing more than good intentions and bad habits."

Amber was an incredible heroine. She was smart, surprisingly level-headed, mature, honest, and so relatable. The depth of the care she develops for the twins was fascinating to see in such a young woman, especially with children she has no relation to. 
She felt like she could just come right off the page, she was so realistic. The bravery she takes on her completely new tasks with, and her honesty with how well she feels she's managing, was astounding. I want her for a friend! I don't often connect with the female protagonists, especially in new adult, but Amber was a blindingly bright exception. 

I love him more and more each day, even though he's not here, but I can't let him be my everything.

By the end of the book she has the healthiest outlook on love and her relationship with Derio that I've ever read from a NA book, and I applaud Karina Halle for creating such a fantastic role model. 

"I need to kiss you," 
He says, and it's the smartest thing he's said all day. 

Derio was harder for me to connect with, and I was iffy about him for the first 1/4 or so of the book, but after all was said and done I really enjoyed his character. He's a young guy with siblings young enough to be his children, and he wasn't at all prepared to take on guardianship. The way he steps up to the plate in some aspects but struggled with others felt potently real, and by the end of the story he had earned my respect. Stepping back from being so much on Amber's side, he became much easier to understand, and forgive, as the story concluded. The poor guy has been through a lot. 
That's not to say he isn't a jackass, because goddamn, I wanted to smack him upside the head in nearly every chapter. He's standoffish, self-centered, stubborn as hell, can't learn a lesson on the first go, and had instances of insane selfishness. Good thing he's so dreamy, eh? And oh man, can that man  charm a woman. Sometimes the way he spoke had me sighing like a besotted schoolgirl. 

"You are good for me, Amber. You bring things to the surface but you do not run away. I have not had someone care for me the way you do in a very long time."

Amber and Derio were perfect for each other, and perfect together. Their chemistry was off the charts, their sex life scorching, and Amber had such a way with Derio's temperament. They perfectly complimented and balanced each other out. 

"All of you is perfect."
"I'm not, I'm -"
"Amber. Your body, every part of you, is perfect to me. What does it matter what anyone else thinks?"

The side characters were all well developed, and I loved being with Derio's family!

More than all that though was the absolutely gorgeous way that everything was described. I've never been to Capri (yet...;)), and until I read this I don't even remember seeing pictures of the place. Reading Halle's words painted a picture so vivid it felt like I was right there with the characters. It isn't often I read a story where I can practically see, hear, touch and smell everything the characters are going though. It was stunning, and I now have the worst case of wanderlust imaginable. 

"You know, sometimes I feel so trapped. So lost and alone. And then I look at you and I feel found. Does that make sense?"

There comes a point in the last quarter of the book where I started to get really fearful of this book ending up with the same ending as the first book in this standalone series, or similar to the way Halle's first contemporary (Love, In English - fantastic 6 star read!) ended, but I was so thankful that wasn't the case. 

"Your imagination both frightens and intrigues me."

The story is just predictable enough to give you a sense of security for the couple, with enough twists and turns to keep you completely sucked into the world and waiting with bated breath for what happens next. I devoured it in less than a day.

"You erase my fears. You give me life from all the death."

Overall, Racing The Sun is a stunning book of love, travel, and taking risks. I highly recommend it, and it proudly resides on my favorites shelf.


Rating: 5 stars
Genre: New adult, contemporary romance
POV: 1st person, single perspective
Steam/sexual content: Deliciously steamy, fairly descriptive sex
Warnings: None, aside from: be prepared to swoon!
Series: Where Sea Meets Sky #2, standalone series
Cliffhanger: No
HEA: Yes
My own copy

- The Bibliophile Babe 

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Seven Deadly Sins Tag

Hello, everyone!

I saw Falconer's Library post this tag, and thought it looked like a really fun (and easy...alway's a bonus with a busy work schedule) post. Feel free to do your own, if you'd like!

1. Greed
What is your most inexpensive book? Your most expensive?

My most inexpensive book of late was Breakable by Tammara Webber (this is Lucas' POV of Easy, and while it doesn't seem to live up to the first book, it was too cheap to pass up). Snagged it on Book Outlet for $1.99. 

My most expensive...god, I don't know. I'm cheap, and I read a lot of indie authors. Those traits don't combine for a super-spender on a single book. I guess I'll go with Top Secret Twenty-One by Janet Evanovitch (will that girl hurry up and pick Ranger?!). I bought it when it came out last year for around $22 or so.

2. Wrath
What author do you have a love/hate relationship with?

Darynda Jones, author of the Charley Davidson series. I've read most of those books as well as the first in her YA series, and while they're addictive and quick, easy reads, I'm often frustrated at the not-exactly-dimwitted-but-close-enough heroines. 
Jennifer L. Armentrout is another. Really fast, engaging books that have lazy writing, cookie cutter protagonists and lots of love triangles. 

3. Gluttony
What book have you devoured over and over again without shame?

4. Sloth
What book have you neglected to read due to laziness? 

Losing Hope  by Colleen Hoover. Hopeless has been the only CoHo book I really didn't like, so I've been neglecting to read this companion novel. I did order it for $2.99 at Book Outlet, so that should be here soon. Maybe if it's on my physical TBR I'll get my ass into gear.

5. Pride
What book do you talk about most in order to sound like an intellectual reader?

I don't have one. I read for pleasure and specific knowledge, not to sound like a haughty brainiac. I'd much rather have someone passionately tell me why they loved a specific book, rather than boast about how intelligent they are for reading something they probably disliked.

6. Lust
What attributes do you find attractive in a male character?

It's not secret that I am hopelessly in love with so many fictional men, and I could write an entire post just on my book boyfriends. Physically, I'm all about the tall, dark and handsome guy. I don't think I can ever remember being attracted to a blond male in real life, but sometimes I break that rule for my literary guys. ;) Lighter eyes, scruffy or clean shaven (NO BEARDS!! NEVER EVER EVER!), and a lean but strong build is a bonus. Yum.

I like it when the guy is funny and can take a joke. I can't stand the always brooding, only half smiling and never laughing men. Ugh. Just stop it. Lighten up and get over yourself. 
I like to see him protective without being overbearing or ignoring the heroine's wishes, and I'm not going to lie: a little possessiveness can be scorching hot, but only in small doses with good reason. Otherwise, he just looks like an asshole.
I want to see him acknowledge his issues and try to better himself, but not wallow in self pity. 
I want to see him gorgeously sexual, but not a man whore. 
I love it when he accepts his girl for who she is, both physically and mentally. Jericho Barrons (Fever series - Karen Marie Moning), Dex Foray (Experiment in Terror series - Karina Halle), Jay Fields (Six of Hearts - L.H. Cosway) and Gilbert Blythe (Anne of Green Gables series - L.M. Montgomery) all come to mind with that.

I want to see him intelligent without being snobbish. I want to see him kind. I want to see him active and outdoorsy, and if he's a reader, a dog lover,  or can cook? Whoops, now my panties are on the floor. *fans self* I also want to see him passionate. There is nothing more attractive than passion. 
Huge bonus points if he's best friends with his girl. That gets me every time.

I'd like the above in this package (haha...package), please. Or, you know, pretty much any of the guys on Dirty Girl Romance's Pinterest board for Male Castings: Dark Hair. Seriously, go look. There's also one for light hair for the blondie lovers among us. 

7. Envy
What book would you most like to receive as a gift?

A signed and personalized copy of Ashes to Ashes by Karina Halle. I'd love the person forever if I got that.

- The Bibliophile Babe 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking The Spine. It's a chance for us to freak out share our most anticipated upcoming releases.

August 4th

It’s all Ryden’s fault. If he hadn’t gotten Meg pregnant, she would have never stopped her chemo treatments and would still be alive. Instead, he’s failing fatherhood one dirty diaper at a time. And it’s not like he’s had time to grieve while struggling to care for their infant daughter, start his senior year, and earn the soccer scholarship he needs to go to college.

The one person who makes Ryden feel like his old self is Joni. She’s fun and energetic—and doesn’t know he has a baby. But the more time they spend together, the harder it becomes to keep his two worlds separate. Finding one of Meg’s journals only stirs up old emotions, and Ryden’s convinced Meg left other notebooks for him to find, some message to help his new life make sense. But how is he going to have a future if he can’t let go of the past? 

Last I heard, sometime in August (one of my most anticipated!)


My name is Calla Price and I’m broken. 

My pieces are all around me, floating on the wind, even as I desperately try to grasp them. 

Who is dead? Alive? Insane?

What is the truth?

I don’t know. 

I do know this: The darkness is strangling me. With every breath, I choke on another lie.  

My mind has protected me, but that shield will soon be lowered. 

All will be revealed. 
Every answer to every question. 

It’s all been leading to this. 

Don’t be afraid. 
Be terrified.

September 29th

When Delilah Marlow visits a famous traveling carnival, Metzger's Menagerie, she is an ordinary woman in a not-quite-ordinary world. But under the macabre circus black-top, she discovers a fierce, sharp-clawed creature lurking just beneath her human veneer. Captured and put on exhibition, Delilah in her black swan burlesque costume is stripped of her worldly possessions, including her own name, as she's forced to "perform" in town after town. 

But there is breathtaking beauty behind the seamy and grotesque reality of the carnival. Gallagher, her handler, is as kind as he is cryptic and strong. The other "attractions"—mermaids, minotaurs, gryphons and kelpies—are strange, yes, but they share a bond forged by the brutal realities of captivity. And as Delilah struggles for her freedom, and for her fellow menagerie, she'll discover a strength and a purpose she never knew existed. 

Renowned author Rachel Vincent weaves an intoxicating blend of carnival magic and startling humanity in this intricately woven and powerful tale. 

Monday, July 27, 2015

Reading Slump No More!

Hey, guys!

Since early June or so, I've been in the worst reading slump. Nothing was holding my attention, it took me days to finish a single book, and I hadn't read a 5 star worthy read since I didn't know when. I'm so happy to report that that is gone! The book that kicked it was The Stars Never Rise by Rachel Vincent. It seems like an author I like, a fast paced setting, an anticipated release and an unusual take on paranormal is just what I needed to get back into reading.

Last Sunday I finished Bad Romeo instead of shelving it as a DNF, and I suddenly wanted to do nothing but read. I'm back to being able to get lost in a book, reading lightning fast, and I had both a 4  star and a 5 star read. Yay!

I finished 8 books last week. Six physical books, two eBooks, six full length novels, one short little story and a fairly short, smutty anthology. I'd been trying to finish Bad Romeo for weeks, but the rest were completed within a day or so. This was with a very full work schedule, too! Pretty happy with myself, in case you couldn't tell. :D

Here's what I finished. Reviews will be coming for all of these over the next week or two, and one has already been posted and is linked below.

Add to Goodreads

I was not bested! 2 stars.

Add to Goodreads

2 stars. My review is here.

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3 stars
Add to Goodreads

This just might have been the dirtiest, smuttiest book I've read all year, and that's saying something because I read a lot  of book porn.
3-3.5 stars, still deciding.

Add to Goodreads

Part one, very short. An okay 2.5 stars.

Add to Goodreads

5 stars! Beautifully done novel. 

Add to Goodreads

A fair smut collection. I liked the second book best, though the third was admittedly hot. 3 stars.

Add to Goodreads

Not Cosway's strongest novel or my favorite in the series, but I still thoroughly enjoyed it! 4 stars.

Have you read anything good lately?

- The Bibliophile Babe

Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Sunday Post/It's Monday, What Are You Reading + Cover Reveal! Hearts of Blue by L.H. Cosway

Hey, y'all!

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news. A post to recap the past week, showcase books and things we have received and share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead. It's Monday, What Are You Reading is a fun weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey where we share what we've read and reviewed over the past week and what we plan to read next.

Last Week's Recap

Coming Up:

Reading Slump No More!
Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Characters Who Are Fellow Book Nerds
Mini Book Reviews - Death and The Girl Next Door, Bad Romeo, and The Dirty Anthology 
Book Review - Priest by Sierra Simone 
Book Haul, Baby!

Recently Finished:
I finished 8 (yes, 8!) books since last Sunday's post, but this was the one I finished yesterday. Full list will be in tomorrow's post.

Currently Reading:

What Will I Read Next?
No idea! I have around 40 books on my physical TBR, and 6 or so sitting in my Kindle, so who knows.

I am so excited to be joining in the cover reveal for L.H. Cosway's upcoming book, Hearts of Blue!


She upholds the law. He breaks it.
Two blue hearts, both alike in bravery
In not-so-fair London, where we lay our scene
From gun crime to petty theft
Where family is blood and survival makes hands unclean
In this place, we find two hearts who should be foes
And yet, amidst the turmoil their love still grows
Misadventure abounds and the divide will bring them strife
But with luck, death doesn’t always mean an end to life

Hearts of Blue is a standalone contemporary romance that tells the story of star-crossed lovers Karla Sheehan and Lee Cross, a police constable and the thief who steals her heart.

Release Date: November 2015

Books in the Series
Six of Hearts

Hearts of Fire

King of Hearts

About the Author

L.H. Cosway has a BA in English Literature and Greek and Roman Civilisation, and an MA in Postcolonial Literature. She lives in Dublin city. Her inspiration to write comes from music. Her favourite things in life include writing stories, vintage clothing, dark cabaret music, food, musical comedy, and of course, books.

She thinks that imperfect people are the most interesting kind. They tell the best stories.


Friday, July 24, 2015

Book Review - Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGurie

From Goodreads:

The new Abby Abernathy is a good girl. She doesn’t drink or swear, and she has the appropriate number of cardigans in her wardrobe. Abby believes she has enough distance from the darkness of her past, but when she arrives at college with her best friend, her path to a new beginning is quickly challenged by Eastern University's Walking One-Night Stand. 

Travis Maddox, lean, cut, and covered in tattoos, is exactly what Abby needs—and wants—to avoid. He spends his nights winning money in a floating fight ring, and his days as the ultimate college campus charmer. Intrigued by Abby’s resistance to his appeal, Travis tricks her into his daily life with a simple bet. If he loses, he must remain abstinent for a month. If Abby loses, she must live in Travis’s apartment for the same amount of time. Either way, Travis has no idea that he has met his match

My Review:

Well. That was a train wreck of epic proportions. I'm usually not one to bitch about unhealthy relationships in books, because come on, it's fiction and I have better things to scrutinize in a book than the romance. However, this book should've been titled: The Idiot's Guide to An Unhealthy Relationship.

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For the most part, my issues were entirely with the plot and characters and not the author herself.  The writing was absorbing, and very easy to read. That's my extent of positives for Beautiful Disaster, though. 

Meet Abby Abernathy. She's a good girl with a "dark past" that isn't really that dark, spends all of her time chasing after the latest hottie but is of course a virgin, has a bi-polar best friend (not really, but that bitch gave me whiplash with her mood swings), the most important thing to her is what other people think, and somehow has no job, shitty parents, and can still afford to blow all her money on manicures and clothes. Whatever happened to the broke college student?

Abby might just be the most wishy-washy, idiot protagonist I've ever read. And I read Twilight! She was stupid, shallow, selfish, and had no self respect. She constantly bounced around on her feelings for Travis, and couldn't stay true to her only smart choice of dumping his ass.
She had all this angst and inner turmoil and all that jazz, and when we finally figure out just what her deal is, the only thing I could think was "That's what you're flipping out over? Seriously, is that all?".
I couldn't stand her, although she had a compelling voice for me to be able to suffer through her thoughts for so many pages.

Travis. Wow. Well, he doesn't claim to be anything besides royally fucked up, and at least that's an honest assessment.
Is it crass if I say I don't buy his excuse for being so messed up? Yes, it's an awful situation, but the level of control he allowed it to have over him was excessive.

Speaking of control....Travis is the worst kind of control freak: physically strong, mentally weak, and seriously insecure.
He throws temper tantrums worse than a 5 year old's, so much so that he's throwing things, smashing stereos, and kicking down doors. He absolutely cannot handle when something doesn't go his way, and if Abby steps out of his perceived lines, all hell breaks loose.
He physically removed her from dancing with someone (when they weren't even together!), ignored her struggles and protests, and humiliated her in front of their peers. On more than one occasion he physically restrains her from leaving, and he's constantly manipulating her to stay with him. It was appalling. That's not love. It's not romance. It's co-dependency, disrespect, and obsession.

I was so dubious with the amount of violence Travis inflicts on anyone and everyone. How is this kid not in jail for the kind of assaults he regularly commits? Must be okay though, because everyone he beat up "deserved it".

I was most annoyed when Travis bought Abby a dog, while she's living in the dorms and without consulting her first. I'm sorry, but as an avid dog lover, that kind of irresponsibility grates on my nerves. They didn't research the breed at all, didn't discus it, had nothing prepared, ect. Oy vey, it gave me an eye twitch.

I didn't like anyone but the gay friend and the snarky roommate in this story. I guess Shep was tolerable sometimes, too, but everyone else? Nope. Just nope.

The pacing was weird for me. It felt like the book could've either started wrapping up or ended at more than one spot, and the last quarter of the book was a bit choppy.

I will say that McGurie's writing style reminds me a lot of Colleen Hoover, one of my favorite authors. It's so absorbing and easy to read, and the books go by lightning fast. I finished this in less than a day, and it didn't feel like the 350 or so pages it is. I'll read more of her work to get a feel for her stories, but right now my expectations aren't high.

Overall, Beautiful Disaster is just that: an obsessive, controlling, irrational disaster. However, I devoured it. If you want to read it, I'll pass you my popcorn so you have something to munch one while the train wreck unfolds.

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Rating: 2 stars
Genre: New adult, contemporary romance
POV: 1st person, single perspective 
Steam/sexual content: Moderate steam, mild sex scenes
Warning: Violence
Series: Beautiful, #1
HEA: Yes
Cliffhanger: No
My own copy

- The Bibliophile Babe