Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Hard Ever After (A Hard Ink Novella) by Laura Kaye

Review and Character Study Playlist

When I heard that Laura Kaye was taking votes on which Hard Ink couple should get a wedding novella, my heart was so very happy!  These characters certainly deserved a HEA after what they went through and Nick and Becca's wedding was a "must attend" event of the spring. I originally read the entire Hard Ink series over the course of a week while attending a conference for my day job in Vegas.  Every evening I would think, “Should I stay in and read more Hard Ink, or explore Vegas?”.  Not gonna lie, many times I choose Hard Ink (don’t worry though, I’ll be visiting/exploring Vegas again soon for the RT Convention in April).

Hard Ever After was, overall, a really satisfying end cap to the series.  We got to visit the characters again and see how their lives were progressing.  Characters shared big news from their lives and we got to see the boys and gals kick some ass again.  My only real complaint about the book was that we didn’t get to see Easy and Jenna more.  Theirs was the only HEA that seemed slightly tentative after the series finished and some sort of commitment or closer look at their relationship would have made Hard Ever After a perfect end-cap novella for me.

In honor of the Hard Ink series and Laura Kaye’s paperback release of Hard Ever After, I’ve put together a character study playlist that has one song representing each of the Hard Ink crew.  Nick, Becca, Shane, Sara, Easy, Jenna, Derek, Emilie, Jeremy, Charlie, Beckett and Kat are all here!  Do you agree with my choices? Just a Note: Derek’s choice, "Brown Eyed Girl", really comes straight from Hard to Come By.  I loved the scene where Derek and Emilie are dancing out by the water ;)

Nick: "Never Gonna Leave This Bed"-Maroon 5
Becca: "Here Comes The Sun"-The Beatles
Shane: "Gimme Shelter"-The Rolling Stones 
Sara: "Bleeding Love"-Leona Lewis
Easy: "Chasing Cars"-Snow Patrol
Jenna: "Sugar, You"-Oh Honey
Derek: "Brown Eyed Girl"-Van Morrison
Emilie: "Today’s the Day"-P!nk
Jeremy: "Can’t Stop"-Red Hot Chili Peppers
Charlie: "Home"-Michael Buble
Beckett: "Feeling This"-blink-182
Kat: "Ex’s & Oh’s"-Elle King

I rate this book:
What did you think of Hard Ever After? Are there any songs that remind you of Nick, Becca, the Hard Ink Crew and their HEAs?

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Tycoon by Joanna Shupe

{I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.}

Review and Curated Soundtrack

Tycoon is a prequel novella to the new Knickerbocker Club series by Joanna Shupe. The series is set during the Gilded Age in the late 1800’s and revolves around a group of New York industrialists (that are extremely powerful and wealthy). Tycoon primarily takes place in a private rail car after Clara coerces Ted into sharing his accommodations with her. Ted, recognizing that Clara is in trouble, sets off to figure out what Clara is hiding. Chaos assuredly ensues.

I really enjoyed Tycoon (like really, really enjoyed Tycoon). I found Clara to be competent and clever, Ted to be generous and charming, the plot to be thoroughly intriguing and the setting to be entertaining. It was easy to get lost in this novella and I’m finding myself interested in reading more about the time period, the music, the rail cars and the Knickerbocker Club world. The next book comes out in a few months and it’s already on my radar for later this Spring.

Although there was no music mentioned in Tycoon and I’m unable to find reference to any music on the trains of the Gilded Age, Ted would certainly have been exposed to a lot of music due to his occupation and place in society. During the Gilded Age, music appreciation was just beginning to rise. The wealthy went and saw the opera (which Ted actually mentions at the end of the book) with some frequency and music was openly enjoyed and discussed within “high society”. As such, I’ve created my Tycoon Curated Soundtrack based on what Ted and Clara may have heard at the opera after their wedding and throughout their HEA. I really found it immensely enjoyable to look up information on the Metropolitan Opera during the late 1800's. There are an abundance of resources regarding music in this time period and the pictures and descriptions of the Metropolitan Opera building are just stunning. All of the operas in the playlist were actually performed at the Metropolitan Opera or another New York venue during the Gilded Age!

I rate this book:

What did you think of Tycoon? Are there any songs that remind you of Ted, Clara and their HEA?

Monday, February 22, 2016

You and Only You by Sharon Sala

{I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.}

Review and Character Study Playlist

I’m not sure how I feel about this book. It was a quick read certainly, it had all the elements of a romance and the characters were likeable enough, but some things about it just didn’t do it for me. The infidelity, the rape and need for LilyAnne to lose weight in order to be “worthy”, all of those things seemed to overshadow the cute, somewhat unpredictable relationship between Mike and LilyAnne.

I almost didn’t finish this book it rubbed me the wrong way so much in the initial four chapters. However, once I stuck it out through chapter four the rest of the book seemed like a much easier read since LilyAnne wasn’t so down on herself and weight. Those first four chapters though...they were tough for me. Even pushing through to further on in the book, the acknowledgement by LilyAnne and Mike that there was even a relationship there was very late the book. The read may have gotten easier but it wasn’t much more exciting. Not enough love, not enough attraction and not enough sexual tension for me.

The curated soundtrack I created for this book has two songs for Mike, two songs for LilyAnne and two for their HEA. Most of the songs center around the fact that Mike wants LilyAnne without her knowing ("Layla", "Shiver" and "One Call Away") and that they finally become more than just friends ("Realize", "Whenever I Call You "Friend" and "In My Life").

I rate this book:
What did you think of You and Only You? Are there any songs that remind you of Mike, LilyAnne and their HEA?

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Starlight Magic (Northstar Holidays #2) by Suzie O'Connell

Review and Curated Soundtrack

I’m not typically one of those people who looks for signs or messages for the universe. However, it was almost impossible to not be that person as I read Starlight Magic. You see when I began to write this blog I had a few books and accompanying playlists already stored up in my head and typed up informally in my email. Starlight Magic was the first book I read with the intention of curating an accompanying soundtrack based on the book. Starlight Magic seriously delivered on the playlist front! Suzie O’Connell not only explored a few of Celeste’s musical tastes in a scene of the book she also wove music into a few different scenes. Thank you Universe and Suzie O’Connell!

Can I also mention that Suzie is wonderful at interacting with her readers online? Her Facebook page is hopping and she is very transparent about what’s coming up for her readers. She does giveaways, polls and answers fan’s questions with a candor that is hard to find in an author’s presence online.

As for the book itself, I always enjoy reading Suzie’s work. Northstar is one of my favorite small towns to read about and even as the small town trend seems to be fading, I know I’ll be revisiting Northstar for years to come. I was happy to see Shannon, Ty and even Pat make appearances in the book! Celeste and Brodie’s story is one of healing, mutual trust and love after tragedy done with a, somewhat, unique spin. Also, how cute is Brendan!?!

I rate this book:
What did you think of Starlight Magic? Are there any songs that remind you of Brodie, Celeste and their HEA?