Don't Believe the Hype

A bookworm's random ramblings and fangirling about all of her favourite things!

RUSH: New York City (City Lights #3) by Emma Scott [Book Review]

11128103_382034741989183_6216671756365095440_oIf you’re on the East Coast and are currently being bombarded with bucket loads of rain, this is the perfect time to curl with a mug of your favorite hot concoction and an amazing book. With that being said, please continue reading this post!

I’ve been on a literary high. Going from one amazing story to the next, all 4 to 5 star reads. However, few books have stood out or lingered in my head like Emma Scott’s RUSH: New York City. I was drawn to the blurb because it felt reminiscent of another one of my top 2015 reads Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. Composing this blog post makes me want to re-read just so I can experience the awesomeness all over again. I stumbled upon this literary gem in one of my Goodreads groups as a read it/review it opportunity and continue to be thankful for the exposure to new authors that readers get when taking a chance on indie books. The neat thing about discovering an author this way is that in the event they get picked up by a publishing house, you get to share in their excitement and get a sense of being there first to celebrate their success and support their future work. I’ve seen it happen and wish the very best to the hugely talented, Emma Scott. Check out the blurb and my review below. Grab your copy from Amazon because you won’t want to miss one of the best books of 2015.


11742672_402877723238218_1090320450354419592_nTo be blind is not miserable; not to be able to bear blindness, that is miserable. –John Milton

Charlotte Conroy, Juilliard-trained violinist, was on the cusp of greatness when tragedy swooped down on dark wings, crushing her hopes and breaking her heart. The music that used to sing in her soul has grown quiet, and she feels on the verge of setting down her violin for good. To pay the bills, she accepts a job as a personal assistant to a bitter, angry young man who’s been disabled by a horrific accident …

11048642_402411329951524_4042940788655469558_nNoah Lake was an extreme sport athlete, journalist and photographer. He roamed the world in search of his next adrenaline high, until a cliff-dive left him in a coma. He awakes to find his career gone, his dreams shattered to pieces, his world an endless blackness that will never lift.

Charlotte begins to see that beneath Noah’s angry, brittle exterior is a young man in a pain. She is determined to show him that his life isn’t over, that he has so much to live for, never dreaming that she would become the only light in his darkness, or that he would help her find the music in hers.

The life he knew is over. The life she wants is just out of reach.
Together, they must face their fears and rediscover what it means to really live.


5 You, Not Me Stars!

Ever wondered what might have been if Me Before You, though agonizingly beautiful, had unfolded differently? Emma Scott gives readers a devastating yet uplifting tale of second chances and learning to live while you’re alive.

11212767_402410903284900_7566204540434730710_nNoah Lake, extreme sports journalist and enthusiast, went from embracing breath-taking scenery that served as backdrops to the heady rush his exciting career provided to shutting the world out in the blink of an eye. A terribly timed decision sent his career and life nose diving straight into a dark abyss with no sight of a silver lining. Unwilling to let go of the past, he becomes consumed by hatred. Refusing to accept his reality, time passes offering no clarity to what his next step should be. Like an uncalibrated compass, with no sense of direction, Noah has ceased living and simply exists.  Little did he know that the melodious and kind voice that called him a prick would become the sun amongst his darkened sky.

11541987_397068800485777_6548693258349548431_nCharlotte Conroy, Juilliard trained violin virtuoso, lost the spark that ignited her music. She didn’t just play an instrument, she became the vessel through which consuming emotion would pour out. At 22, tragedy and betrayal has robbed her of that loving feeling. Living from paycheck to paycheck, she lives to make ends meet until she receives an offer she simply can’t refuse. Assisting Noah Lake won’t be easy but she’s willing to grin and bear it while doing the best she can. As Charlotte’s tender heart and pure soul shine through her actions, emotions that Noah had once buried are stirred.

Meant to live for more than his self-imposed exile and life altering limitation, Noah starts to see that being blind doesn’t have to define who you are. Together, Noah and Charlotte must overcome obstacles to truly have a shot at love. Only then can she reconnect with the music she’d once lost and with it paint a vivid picture of what their future holds.

11407068_396509477208376_4194573098745269017_nRush: New York City is my first reading experience with author Emma Scott and I absolutely loved it. From the very first line, I was captivated by the colorful writing style that places the reader on a high octane roller coaster ride. Told from alternating POVs and set in my beloved NYC, this book was everything I hoped for and so much more. The emotions flowed from every page and made me root for the unlikely duo to resurface victorious both individually and as a pair. I urge fans of Me Before You to take a chance on this beautiful story with a HEA that will leave you in happy tears. I look forward to reading more from this author.


I write romances with flawed characters (not just the heroes, but flawed, real women too), in as real a setting as I can make, but with big smooshy, over-the-top HEAs. I believe in diversity, open-mindedness, and inclusion. I like sweetness mixed with steam, love conquering all, and above all, hope.

I live and work in the Bay Area, California with my (patient) husband and two sweet little girls.

Feel free to like her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter, Amazon and Goodreads. To purchase a copy of RUSH: New York City click here. Seriously drop what you’re doing and read this book, you won’t regret it!

[Media & Info Source: Facebook and Amazon]


Before We Were Strangers: A Love Story by Renée Carlino (Book Review) #WCW

1973849_1067868119895631_4451969014918304387_oI am officially in a relationship with Renée Carlino’s writing. Thanks to a recommendation from a fellow book buddy, I requested a copy of Before We Were Strangers: A Love Story from NetGalley and Atria was gracious enough to grant me an ARC. 3% into the book and I am quickly falling in love with not only the characters and narrative style but with New York City (again). I may not be a native New Yorker but having lived here for the majority of my life, I’ve eagerly embraced it as my own and find it fascinating when it serves as a backdrop to a beautiful story. Renée Carlino not only did it justice, it reacquainted me with its charm and allure that attracts so many and keeps others coming back for more. Matt and Grace’s experience are a perfect example of the magic and idiosyncrasies that make New York such a vivid character in a story you won’t soon forget. If you’ve never heard of this amazing writer, I urge you to grab your copy like yesterday (Amazon). If you read anything this summer or this year for that matter, let this be your one great literary escapade. Check out the blurb and my review below.

11855739_1153974821284960_6400798514417118930_nTHE BLURB

From the USA TODAY bestselling author of Sweet Thing and Nowhere But Here comes a love story about a Craigslist “missed connection” post that gives two people a second chance at love fifteen years after they were separated in New York City.

To the Green-eyed Lovebird:

We met fifteen years ago, almost to the day, when I moved my stuff into the NYU dorm room next to yours at Senior House.

You called us fast friends. I like to think it was more.

We lived on nothing but the excitement of finding ourselves through music (you were obsessed with Jeff Buckley), photography (I couldn’t stop taking pictures of you), hanging out in Washington Square Park, and all the weird things we did to make money. I learned more about myself that year than any other.

Yet, somehow, it all fell apart. We lost touch the summer after graduation when I went to South America to work for National Geographic. When I came back, you were gone. A part of me still wonders if I pushed you too hard after the wedding…

I didn’t see you again until a month ago. It was a Wednesday. You were rocking back on your heels, balancing on that thick yellow line that runs along the subway platform, waiting for the F train. I didn’t know it was you until it was too late, and then you were gone. Again. You said my name; I saw it on your lips. I tried to will the train to stop, just so I could say hello.

After seeing you, all of the youthful feelings and memories came flooding back to me, and now I’ve spent the better part of a month wondering what your life is like. I might be totally out of my mind, but would you like to get a drink with me and catch up on the last decade and a half?



11836761_445450415615760_7779408677156499565_nInfinity and Beyond, You Complete Me Stars!

Renée Carlino has gained a fan. Before We Were Strangers is easily one of my top books of this year and I would gladly shout it from the mountain tops. The blurb had me at hello and the story gutted me completely in the best possible way. Laced with a heavy dose of nostalgia, the narrative makes you long for a time when simplicity seemed to be the key to happiness.

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” – John Lennon

thAt 36, Matthias Shore leads a successful professional life. Having been awarded the Pulitzer Prize in photography and working at National Geographic while getting to see the world hardly seems worth it without being able to share it with a certain Green-Eyed Lovebird. In true Ron Livingston style circa Office Space, Matt has had enough of his current situation and yearns for change, preferably one that will not include working in the same building as his cheating and very pregnant ex-wife and her new husband. The ghost of his past and object of his affection materializes feet away after a decade and a half on a crowded NYC subway platform.

“If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with.” -Billy Preston

th-1Grace Porter stands on a NYC subway platform awaiting her train. Always listening to the music of the lively city, naturally she rocks on her feet feeling the pulse of the concrete jungle. Having carried on for years in a fog-like state, she’s settled on a steady life rhythm until her favorite blast from the past is staring awe-stricken from the other side of the closing doors. In a city with millions of people and without any contact information, fate finds a way to reunite the estranged pair for one last trip down memory lane.

Speed walking, pay phones and actually engaging in conversation with others without the use of social media are seemingly archaic concepts that come alive and transport us to a time of what might have been where we relive the unconventional yet unforgettable love story of Matt and Grace.

In this day and age where we’re so technologically connected yet less in touch with each other, Before We Were Strangers reminds us that although life doesn’t often unfold the way we would prefer, love will always find a way. And sometimes missed connections and second chances make for a perfect HEA.



Renée Carlino is a screenwriter and bestselling author of romantic women’s novels. She lives in Southern California with her husband, two sons, and their sweet dog June. When she’s not at the beach with her boys or working on her next project, she likes to spend her time reading, going to concerts, and eating dark chocolate.

For more information about Renée Carlino’s other works and future projects, make sure to check out the links to her social media platforms on her author page.

[Media Source: Atria Indie Authors, Renee Carlino and]

Lie To You (Forbidden Trilogy #2) by J.C. Valentine (Book Review)

Lie to You Cover 1Identical twin brothers, check. Lustful encounters that will make you blush and then some, check. Beautiful girl caught in the middle of a Bermuda Triangle of secrets, check. A few months ago I reviewed Dance for Me by author J.C. Valentine, the first book in the Fobidden Trilogy and I loved it. Many readers are opposed to cliffhangers but some of the ones I’ve come across have been the icing on the cake that makes the book that much more memorable (e.g. RAW by Belle Aurora and Amber to Ashes by Gail McHugh). The revelation at the conclusion of Dance for Me had me longing for the next book. Luckily, I was provided with an ARC of Lie to You in exchange for an honest review. Check out the blurb and my thoughts below.


I thought he was the one. I thought we were headed someplace great. I didn’t know anything.

TakeMy mystery man is no longer such a mystery. He’s still commanding and headstrong, playing my body and mind like an instrument, but I’m finding there are layers to him I never could have dreamed. What I’ve learned since that fateful night in his apartment has me reeling. Now, though, the truth has taken a backstage to other, more pressing matters.

While I struggle to make a choice that will determine the direction of my future, lies that I thought had been carefully hidden away are coming to light. My head is such a mess I don’t know what’s up or down anymore. Will I be able to sort it all out, or will the life I’ve worked so hard to build come crashing down in a pile of secrets and lies?


*ARC generously provided by author in exchange for an honest review*

Lie To You Rebel Ransom TeaserLie to You picks up where Dance for Me left off, with Josephine in both emotional and mental turmoil. Faced with the uncertainty of what her next move should be, she decides to steer clear of double trouble until the dust settles. However, Ransom and Rebel, two unyielding alpha males will stop at nothing to claim Joe.

Is it possible to dislike the male lead, or in this case both? What originally drew me in to both men was no longer alluring. Given Joe’s circumstances and choices between judgmental jerk and arrogant bastard, I would have seen myself right into Brody’s welcoming arms. The heart wants what it wants, and sadly Brody isn’t it. This is not a typical love triangle by any means and every bit the antithesis. Unhappy with our heroine’s choices I reluctantly followed Joe down her self-imposed rabbit hole. What ensues is a roller coaster ride that will give you whiplash and leave your head spinning.

Lie To You TeaserHaving lost the order in her carefully balanced life, secrets are revealed that serve to further complicate Joe’s existence. Her friendships are in peril and her heart’s in a perpetual state of vulnerability. Choosing her lover Goldilocks style, trying out one bed and then the other for the right fit, Joe finally picks one Mr. Scott. How can you truly be certain if you’ve chosen correctly when you hardly know a person? Slowly but surely the reader is given glimpses into a man who has more to offer than a great body and fantastic sexual ministrations. When things seem to start looking up, a not so past flame threatens to destroy their kindling trust.

As much as I enjoy J.C. Valentine’s writing, this installment of the Forbidden series fell a bit short for me. I couldn’t sympathize with Joe and found it hard to connect with either Mr. Scott. There were scenes that almost set my phone on fire and I learned to never sit at the dinner table flanked by two hot men. I want to explore more about both men and learn what makes them who they are. Are either really worthy of Joe? And more importantly, will she ever reach a point where she’s happily fulfilled in life. Caught in the eye of the storm, I am curious to know how this turbulent tale will end.


To purchase your copy of Lie to You from Amazon, click here. To connect with J.C. Valentine and stalk her upcoming projects or browse her other titles, visit her website or author page on Amazon and Goodreads.

Media Source [J.C. Valentine’s Facebook Page]

Chasing River by K.A. Tucker (Book Review)

Chasing+River+final+coverI love Atria. Being a newbie to NetGalley, I’ve been fortunate enough to have access to some great titles by amazing authors. Discovering authors is always fun and thanks to Atria approving my request to read/review Chasing River I am now a fan of K.A. Tucker. Now I’m kicking myself for not having met her this past May at BookCon in NYC. This extremely talented lady who keeps company of the likes of Abbi Glines and Colleen Hoover, was two feet away from me and I sadly had no book for her to scribble on for me. At the time I hadn’t experienced any of her works but I hope to one day get her autograph on the book that made me join her fandom. Check out the blurb and my review below. To purchase your copy of this author’s most recent release (out today) from Amazon, click here.


Armed with two years’ worth of savings and the need to experience life outside the bubble of her Oregon small town, twenty-five-year old Amber Welles is prepared for anything. Except dying in Dublin. Had it not been for the bravery of a stranger, she might have. But he takes off before she has the chance to offer her gratitude.

Twenty-four-year-old River Delaney is rattled. No one was supposed to get hurt. But then that American tourist showed up. He couldn’t let her die, but he also couldn’t risk being identified at the scene—so, he ran. Back to his everyday life of running his family’s pub. Only, everyday life is getting more and more complicated, thanks to his brother, Aengus, and his criminal associations. When the American girl tracks River down, he quickly realizes how much he likes her, how wrong she is for him. And how dangerous it is to have her around. Chasing her off would be the smart move.


Maybe it’s because he saved her life, or maybe it’s because he’s completely different from everything she’s left behind, but Amber finds herself chasing after River Delaney. Amber isn’t the kind of girl to chase after anyone.

And River isn’t the kind of guy she’d want to catch.


ARC provided by Atria Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

4.5 Charmingly Torrid Stars!

11350598_432225813604887_654155204965839412_nChasing River is an enchantingly refreshing change of pace from the usual sexed up reads. While I enjoy my fair share of angst and lust, there comes a time when you need something butterflies-in-your-stomach inducing that will leave you smiling long after you’ve reluctantly finished all of its words. K.A. Tucker delivers a riveting tale of self discovery and the revelation that love can come about from close encounters of the unexpected and life-altering kind.

Amber Welles is a 25 year old nurse looking to escape her secure bubble of Sisters, Oregon if only for a few months to fulfill her coveted dream of traveling the world (or as much as her savings will allow). Armed with a carefully concocted itinerary and a bucket list of sorts, she finds herself thrust into a wild and dangerous adventure in picturesque Ireland.

10403543_432225143604954_727083011201932539_nHaving endured less than thrilling relationships, she not only finds love but it literally knocks her off her feet and unconscious. What better way to come to your senses than under a dashing Irish fella with green beguiling eyes? chasing him. River Delaney is one of three brothers, running the family pub with younger brother Rowen and maintaining its legacy is no easy task but one they wholeheartedly enjoy. Aengus Delaney, the eldest and self appointed black sheep is loyal to a fault but constantly mixed-up in shady IRA activities. As fate would have it, these four lives would be forever changed as a result of an event that set off a pivotal chain reaction.

10561691_432224570271678_6825638182843579309_nIs it possible to find your soul mate in someone you just met? How far would you go to keep them safe? Secrets will be revealed and familial bonds tested all for a shot at love.

Picture Eat Pray Love meets Leap Year with a healthy dose of Irish history and folklore and you can begin to loosely form a picture of the adventure you embark on in this beautifully written tale.

To check out more of K.A. Tucker’s works and upcoming projects feel free to connect with her via her author page.

Media Source: [K.A. Tucker (Author) Facebook and Atria Indie Authors]

Leah Raeder, Bookgasm Queen

Unteachable Old CoverI’m back! And so is the extremely talented  USA Today bestselling New Adult author, Leah Raeder. Armed with another thought-provoking dark and sexy read that will leave your head spinning and craving for more of her words. Black Iris was released on April 28th to much anticipation from the literary community and I had the pleasure to read it prior to its release. Ms. Raeder burst onto the literary scene with her debut novel Unteachable back in 2013 as an indie author and was later signed in a two book deal by traditional publisher, Atria Books a division of Simon and Schuster. Unteachable is an exquisitely written novel about the taboo topic of teacher-student romance that read like a swelling symphony with a crescendo leading up to a beautiful disaster. Known for her “lyrical prose”, Raeder tackles challenging topics and delivers them with such finesse that you can’t help but embrace her story telling style. Check out the blurbs for Unteachable and Black Iris along with my review.

Unteachable Cover


BLURB: Maise O’Malley just turned eighteen, but she’s felt like a grown-up her entire life. The summer before senior year, she has plans: get into a great film school, convince her mom to go into rehab, and absolutely do not, under any circumstances, screw up her own future.

But life has a way of throwing her plans into free-fall.

When Maise meets Evan at a carnival one night, their chemistry is immediate, intense, and short-lived. Which is exactly how she likes it: no strings. But afterward, she can’t get Evan out of her head. He’s taught her that a hookup can be something more. It can be an unexpected connection with someone who truly understands her. Someone who sees beyond her bravado to the scared but strong girl inside.

That someone turns out to be her new film class teacher, Mr. Evan Wilke.

Maise and Evan resolve to keep their hands off each other, but the attraction is too much to bear. Together, they’re real and genuine; apart, they’re just actors playing their parts for everyone else. And their masks are slipping. People start to notice. Rumors fly. When the truth comes to light in a shocking way, they may learn they were just playing parts for each other, too.

Smart, sexy, and provocative, Unteachable is about what happens when a love story goes off-script.

You can purchase your copy here.

10292339_939746629371745_2548950619358588870_nBLACK IRIS

BLURB: The next dark and sexy romantic suspense novel from the USA Today bestselling author of Unteachable

It only took one moment of weakness for Laney Keating’s world to fall apart. One stupid gesture for a hopeless crush. Then the rumors began. Slut, they called her. Queer. Psycho. Mentally ill, messed up, so messed up even her own mother decided she wasn’t worth sticking around for.

If Laney could erase that whole year, she would. College is her chance to start with a clean slate.

She’s not looking for new friends, but they find her: charming, handsome Armin, the only guy patient enough to work through her thorny defenses—and fiery, filterless Blythe, the bad girl and partner in crime who has thorns of her own.

But Laney knows nothing good ever lasts. When a ghost from her past resurfaces—the bully who broke her down completely—she decides it’s time to live up to her own legend. And Armin and Blythe are going to help.

Which was the plan all along.

Because the rumors are true. Every single one. And Laney is going to show them just how true.

She’s going to show them all.

You can purchase your copy here.


ARC provided by Atria Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

*4.5 “Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive” Stars*

Black Iris, Leah Raeder’s follow-up to her exquisitely written debut novel Unteachable , is literary wordgasm. It is a string of dreamlike whimsical metaphors woven within a tale of deceit, lust, love and revenge. Told in a Memento style narrative, events from the previous and current year create a tapestry of sweet chaos that comes full circle in a bright and colorful way.

Delaney Keating is not your typical angst-ridden teenager with a drug problem. Sure, both prescription drugs and illegal narcotics are often abused by hormone raging curious teens looking to experiment and flirt with the ludicrous ideal of “live fast die young” they seem too eager to embrace…not her. Laney takes it up several notches by breaking away from the crowd and standing her ground, refusing to bow down. 11167674_969021929777548_8242727895612009483_nBorn into a family with a mentally ill mother suffering from bipolar disorder, the roller coaster of insanity she’s endured throughout her formative years have only served to show what her future might hold. Convinced that she carries her mother’s darkness inside, the only thing that keeps her semi grounded is her younger brother Donnie. He’s her sunlight at the end of the hell hole and silver lining. It’s tough to be positive when you’re your mother’s daughter, her black iris. Armed with self medicating heady pill cocktails, she’s a girl with a plan, an obsession and the grit to see it through with a little help from her friends.

Enter Armin Farhoudi and Blythe McKinley, her beautiful friends and chess pieces in a twisted game they unknowingly play. Armin with his handsome face and caring ways is for all intents and purposes her savior. Blythe on the other hand, with her soft skin and wickedness is like a siren call to her body and soul. Together they form a love triangle with more sharp edges than love. th

Everyone plays a part in her master plan to bring down those who have judged or ridiculed her for staying true to herself. She’s not someone you can label or bully into joining the Rainbow Alliance. Laney is neither bi nor gay but a in a class of her own…quantum.

The story of Delaney Keating is one that will resonate with many readers. The universal concept of sexuality is addressed in a way that will make you reflect on societal views of gender roles and how not everyone can fit the cookie cutter preset molds. Living in a world where the masses are instilled a herd mentality and taught to fear and even hate what we don’t understand; Black Iris delves into a girl’s struggle that others have experienced. What happens when someone is pushed so close to the edge that they welcome the descent into madness? She’ll show them.

My-Burberry-Campaign-ON-EMBARGO-UNTIL-2-SEPTEMBER-20142-701x165 Feel free to stalk Leah on FacebookInstagramGoodreads and her Author Page.

[Media Source: Leah Raeder’s Facebook Page, and]

Dance for Me by J.C. Valentine (Book Review)

T84HaFdoFCX9AHF5bMon9a0tu4DC-I-oUzZ_bU3ZrXmn77p_u0dRYkVqWdWSR3sDJg1aYwIt’s been a while since I’ve signed up to read/review a book and it’s even sweeter when you’re approached to do so. Such was the case for J.C. Valentine’s newest release titled Dance for Me. Having read and reviewed three of her previous titles in her Night Calls series, That First Kiss, Surrender to Love and Trust, I jumped at the opportunity to get lost in another one of her wildly entertaining creations. For more information on J.C. Valentine, feel free to stalk her on Facebook, Amazon, Author Page or Goodreads. To 1-Click your copy from Amazon, click here. Check out the blurb and my review below.

11133935_826040100776817_122767866542441467_oBLURB: WARNING: Dance for Me is the first book in a trilogy and ends with a cliffhanger. Due to mature material, it is recommended for ages 17+.

What if the person who stole your heart wasn’t who you thought they were?

When my parents passed away, I grew up fast. Learning to stand on my own two feet has been a challenge, but I’m making it… my way. I make no apologies for the path I’ve chosen. My choices have served me well, but no one knows the real me.

Except one man.

He’s a mystery to me. He’s controlling, demanding, and he has me wrapped around his little finger. Anything he wants, I’ll give it to him. The hours we share together aren’t about love. It’s just sex. Hot, dirty, passionate sex. It was never supposed to be anything more than that.

Until everything changed.

Now, I’m more confused than ever. The more I learn about him, the less I seem to understand. What I do know is that I’m falling, and I have the feeling when I land, it’s going to hurt.



*ARC generously provided by author in exchange for an honest review*

*4 Night & Day Stars*

I’ve never been a fan of cliffhangers but recently discovered that when tastefully done and paired with great writing, it can turn out to be pretty amazing.

Josephine Hart has led a trying life since the loss of her parents, but she makes no excuses for her circumstances and rather takes life as it comes. A senior in college, she supports herself by dancing at a gentlemen’s club where she exercises complete control over her attentive audience, especially Him. Always observing from a darkened corner, this beautiful mystery man takes what he wants and gives her feelings she previously never entertained.

Careful not to mix business with pleasure, Joe compartmentalizes her life into work and school. Going to such measures as preferring low lighting during her performances in order to maintain a certain anonymity save someone from recognizing her outside of the club, friends included. Her so-called carefully orchestrated life becomes a whirlwind of erotic encounters bordering on dangerous and perhaps something more.

As if that wasn’t enough, her first day of Art Class takes an interesting turn once she lays eyes on Professor Scott. Gorgeous, with unforgettable piercing onyx eyes reminiscent of a certain mystery man that commands full attention, she can’t help but oscillate between thinking life is playing a cruel joke on her and making lemonade with the forbidden fruit so blatantly being offered. She’s always kept her guard up in regards to intimacy but after having the crème de la crème, right or wrong as it may be…she’s can’t deny being hot for teacher. With his Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde routine, it’s tough to know which way is up or down and get a feel for where they stand at times, but being apart is out of the question. Unfortunately, things are not always what they seem and something more lurks beneath the surface of their fragile relationship.

The electricity between Joe and Prof. Scott is tangible in every page and takes the reader for a wild ride of unexpected twists and turns that will leave you breathless and hungry for more of these great characters. I happen to be a sucker for books that involve dance and when I was offered the opportunity to review this title, I didn’t hesitate because J.C. Valentine’s writing style is a mixture of fun and sexy that always puts a smile on my face


[Media Source: J.C. Valentine’s Facebook, Tumblr]

Hillsong – Let Hope Rise + Touch the Sky

TB2S3THM.472093.1Happy Easter! What do Jay-Z, Nicki Minaj and Broadway’s hit show RENT have in common? The answer to this random question is director, Michael John Warren. Since making his directorial debut with Jay-Z’s 2004 documentary Fade to Black, his work has involved music themed projects among other things. Most recently, he collaborated with the Australian Christian band Hillsong UNITED, in a documentary that places a genuine spotlight on their rise to fame. With an ever-growing fan base, they’re kind of a huge deal in the Christian community and their music is known around the world. Hillsong-Let Hope Rise captures the magnitude of influence that their worship songs have and how that came to be. For more information on the movie due out September 30th, 2015, click here.

The mutumblr_meihl7bo2t1qzkfujo1_500sic of Hillsong is so popular it is estimated that on any given Sunday, more than 50 million churchgoers around the world are singing their songs. Routinely performing to sold-out stadiums, the 11-member band, led by Joel Houston, are all volunteers or employees of Hillsong Church, founded by Joel’s parents, Brian and Bobbie HoustonTheir mission — without exaggeration – is to make music to save souls. They are trying to get people to discover Jesus. That’s probably the most righteous reason to make music. Whether you’re religious or not, it’s hard to look at that and not feel good about it. []

Check out the film trailer below and the first single “Touch the Sky” (not to be confused with Kanye’s song) from their upcoming album Empires.

1971491_1693480684212111_308943466_n[Media Source:,,]

Take Back Home by Jon R. (Book Review)

giphyLast year, I had the pleasure and privilege of serving as a beta reader to not just any author but a friend working on his debut novel. On February 28th of this year he bravely hit publish on Amazon and became my first real author friend. Even though it’s a not a romance novel, Take Back Home is a well written and incredibly thought-provoking drama that will keep you on the edge of your seat. I urge you to check out this quick read (137 pages) currently on sale for only 99 pennies! Better yet, you can read it for FREE if you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited. Go forth and 1-click like yesterday…here! Check out the blurb and my review which also happens to be the foreword.

newcoverBLURB: The first book from a new author comes a non-traditionally written, thought provoking story set upon the backdrop of true events, that offers and explores an idea to a major, modern day problem.

A man faces conviction of a crime in one of the most publicly covered and well known trials in years. He fights for the safety of the people yet is accused of making it worse. There is a waging war on gun violence and how to handle it. He proposes a way although while his goals are righteous, his means are described as controversial.

All across America, mass shootings and massacres constantly inundate the news faster than you can finish mourning the last one. Innocent people are dying by ruthless, absent minded domestic terrorists. People are increasingly pushing for stricter gun regulations and laws and ultimately better overall safety. Debates about gun control are heated and are one of the most controversial topics in years. One side imposes the 2nd amendment with the right to bear arms and the other side proposes stricter laws and banishment of guns.

This ordinary man full of unordinary ideas succeeded in finding a middle ground by starting a new organization. It’s much like a neighborhood watch, but where its reach extends far beyond just your own community. Through it he found a way to help give civilians and innocents back the peace of mind that is currently held by fear of simply allowing themselves or their children to leave the house. Citizens deserve the right to be able to protect themselves, their friends and family and their way of life. Police can’t be everywhere but citizens are. Members act as extra eyes and ears to police yet are prepared for the deadliest of situations. Armed with pistols loaded with the safer, less than lethal ammunition, they increase the chances of someone being in the right place at the right time to help defend against another unpredictable attack. This organization has come to be known as the Civilian Protection Association of America, or more commonly referred to as the CPAA.

Just a bit over a year after its initial start, disaster strikes this once optimistic plan. Can the man that started it all, who now stands on trial facing the end of the CPAA prove his innocence or has his judgment been clouded and blinded him to the truth?



*** I had the privilege of beta-reading this book ***

Take Back Home is a thought-provoking novelization of a highly controversial issue. The topic of gun control is one that has been brought to the forefront over the last decade due to an increasing occurrence of tragic events. Various settings have witnessed attacks by unstable individuals. Institutions of higher learning, a movie theater and even an elementary school have all been targets of such individuals, which leads us to think that we are not safe anywhere.

However worrisome, some believe that the answer to violent outbreaks would be to further restrict gun control laws, while others feel that in doing so would result in violation of their constitutional rights. The latter is the view taken by the protagonist who faces some pretty serious accusations and possible charges as a result of an initiative he created in order to not only protect himself but his own community. The Civilian Protection Association was founded by a man with a goal to do his part in diffusing a foreseeable threat in the hopes of preventing another tragedy. Those who shared his vision were welcome to join his organization while abiding by a set of guidelines and undergoing security measures. On paper and in theory the neighborhood watch like group sounded like an initiative in the right direction, until it all went wrong.

Author Jon R. strips the reader of literary distractions often used to connect to characters, such as names and descriptions, and by doing so conveyed more directly the book’s message. Left with the meat and bones of the story, the reader is able to become fully immersed in the protagonist’s saga. Supported by true events, the story takes on a type of pseudo non-fiction feel that makes you reflect and question your stand on gun control laws. The issue is neither a black nor white one, but rather shades of gray. This book perfectly portrays what happens when even the strictest precautions and guidelines can’t protect us from unknown variables that further complicate our chaotic world.

A refreshingly eye-opening reading experience, Take Back Home, will keep you on the edge of your seat in the best possible way and leave you wanting more. If you’re a fan of Law & Order style crime dramas, then this uniquely written book is for you.


Take Back Home is the author’s first book with hopefully more to come. He grew up and lived in the hustle and bustle of Long Island, New York for the first 25 years of his life until 2010 when he married and moved to the much more relaxing state of North Carolina. Writing was always a large part of him, even if he didn’t realize it until relatively recently, whether it’s on various online forums, excelling at school writing assignments or creating stories for his animated work in college. His creativity stems from a life with an artistic background. Much like anyone else, he wishes for the world to be more civilized and enjoyable for all. He is full of ideas and loves to improve things, and (un)fortunately the world has plenty wrong to offer. Besides having a talent for viewing things with an independent perspective, he demonstrates a strong objective outlook on life. With this he aspires to be able to contribute some good to the world in order to help make it a better place. If there is one thing he hopes for people to take away from his work is to learn to keep an open mind.

Feel free to stalk Jon R. on GoodReads and Amazon. Hurry and grab your copy of Take Back Home today before the price goes up very soon! Click here!

Either Side of Midnight by Tori de Clare (Book Review)

11038485_400952213417661_4108179993151941989_n Earlier this week I was pleasantly surprised by an email from the lovely author, Tori de Clare. Having read and reviewed her novel ‘Either Side of Midnight’ over a year ago, I was excited to hear that she would be releasing a sequel on April 7th titled, ‘The Darkness Visible’. It’s not every day that I come across a new author that really shakes me up and gives me a massive book hangover that leaves characters lingering in my head long after I finish reading. I am happy to share that this brilliant novel is completely FREE on Amazon for the next few hours. I urge you to grab it! Click here. Check out the blurb and my review below.



When nineteen-year-old Naomi Stone is snatched from her husband at knife-point on the night of their wedding and taken to a deserted cemetery, she knows her life is finished. Drugged and disoriented, she loses consciousness as she lies in an open grave with a gun to her head. But the following day, she mysteriously awakes to find herself unharmed and secured to a bed. She’s in a beautiful bedroom in a secluded cottage in open countryside. Only one person knows she’s there – the man in the balaclava who’s holding her, feeding her, revealing nothing. Naomi senses the unfolding of a plan. She should be on honeymoon in the Caribbean. Instead, she’s trapped with an emotionless psycho with no hope of escape . . . And his voice is chillingly familiar.
Who is he? What does he want? What’s happened to her husband? Where is she? Will anyone find her before it’s too late?



Verdict: 4.5 Brilliant Mind-bending Stars!

Either Side of Midnight is instant insanity, an intricately worked and woven plot that comes together perfectly. Written in a way that goes back and forth between Liberty (past) and Captivity (present), I found it brilliant and intriguing. At first I was fascinated with Captivity but quickly grew to love the Liberty aspect which gave the background story on Naomi’s family and the way her and Nathan’s relationship quickly progressed.

What should have been Naomi’s happiest day of her life and most memorable evening quickly turned dreadfully traumatizing. While trying to retrieve her trademark keepsake necklace from the car outside her hotel, she’s abducted by a masked man. The events that follow are quite intense and edge of your seat thrilling. Worst of all, her masked man’s voice sounds vaguely familiar. The week that follows consists of her fantasizing of escape plans from her chained captivity in a beautiful home in the English countryside.

Naomi Hamilton is a 19 year old privileged pianist who enrolls into a prestigious music academy, solely to please her mother (Camilla). Straight-laced and forever the good twin, she’s too afraid to go against her mother’s wishes out of fear of disappointing her. Her sister Annie is a rebel and everything Naomi wishes she could be. Wild and free, she lives her life to please no one but herself, regardless of whether or not she has her parents’ approval. While at a school function, Naomi meets Nathan Stone, the embodiment of the man of her dreams and 7 years her senior. She quickly becomes smitten and lost in all things and thoughts of the charming devil in disguise. Ignoring her mother’s warning to end things with Nathan…fast forward a few months later and we have wedding bells followed by a kidnapping that same night.

Ironically enough, Naomi started out like a stone, rough around the edges, but with the right amount of pressure…turned into a pretty spectacular shiny rock. In the beginning she was rather infuriating with her naïveté, then again…present me with my dream guy and I’d be losing sleep and drooling over him too. So what if he was 7 years her senior, so was Christian Grey and that turned out pretty great. Unfortunately, Nathaniel Stone is far from our dear Mr. Grey. About a quarter into the book I was ready to crawl into my phone and slap some sense into Naomi. I don’t care how swoon-worthy the guy is; if he’s professing his love for you on the second date…you should definitely run for the fricken hills!

Nathaniel Stone is a 25 year old beautiful compulsive liar with a gambling problem. He owes money to everyone including the mob and has been concocting a twisted plan to cut ties and gain freedom along with a small fortune. He preys on Naomi’s insecurities and kind hearted nature to ensnare her in his ploy without any care for the lives he’ll destroy. Nobody, not even his own family is safe from his maniacal ways; he even goes as far as demonizing his brother (Schizophrenic Dan) and parents.

I may have fallen in love with Tori de Clare’s writing style. Each character was very well developed and written in such a way that gave them their own unique tone and voice. I especially enjoyed reading about Camilla Hamilton, she was my favorite character. I loved her inherently British snooty-pinky-up tone. What can I say, mother knows best.

This book was the equivalent of a literary treat that I devoured and I can’t wait for my next fix. The ending wrapped everything up nicely but left me wanting more!


Be on the lookout for the next title ‘The Darkness Visible’, releasing next month (April 7th). For more information on Tori de Clare, stalk her social media pages on Facebook, Goodreads and Amazon.


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Rincon Criollo: A Taste of Cuban Paradise

slide1Today, my beach body was put on hold thanks to the delicious cuisine served at the Cuban hot spot, Rincon Criollo Restaurant. Located in Corona Queens, it boasts a family friendly atmosphere that is evident as soon as you step inside the cozy eatery. The employees welcome you with smiles and authentic Cuban accents, which was music to my ears, after all this is New York…not Miami. The décor adds character to the already Latin feel with pictures of some of Cuba’s greatest icons ranging from musicians such as Celia Cruz and Benny Moré to literary hero Don Jose Martí. Open seven days a week from 12pm to 10pm, Rincon Criollo is constantly booming with clientele waiting to get their fix of Cuban paradise. The wait although lengthy is definitely worth the great attention from the wait staff and the even better quality of the menu items. Everything from the appetizers to the entrees have a home cooked taste that could lead to a food induced coma in the best possible way. Not sure where to go to celebrate your next birthday? look no further than Rincon Criollo, where the lame birthday shouting from chain restaurants is replaced with an over the top and refreshingly festive rendition of happy birthday. Featured on Food Network’s ‘Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives’, host Guy Fieri got a first hand look at the preparation of a Cuban staple, picadillo. If you can’t make it to Queens, rest assure and be on the lookout for the grand opening of a Huntington, Long Island location in the Spring of 2015. To check out the menu and location, click here.

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