Publisher: Entangled Publishing (Embrace)

Game On by Lynn Stevens

Game On by Lynn StevensGame On by Lynn Stevens
Published by Entangled Publishing (Embrace) on September 18th 2017
Pages: 293
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one-star

Olivia Dawson doesn’t make mistakes. Unless those mistakes are a tall, broad-shouldered, cocky baseball player named Devon Miller. Devon and Olivia have been competing in their engineering classes since freshman year, and he seems to want nothing more than to get under her skin and shake her confidence. Unless you count that one time when he got under more than just her skin…

Now, they’re pitted against each other for a coveted internship that could open tons of doors for each of them. Only one of them can win. And they’re both ready to fight dirty if they need to.

Could Devon be playing for more than just his own gain—could he be after her heart?

Olivia is about to find out.

Game on.

‘Game On’ is a step back for me into New Adult, or rather, a college-age sports romance and after reading a few more ‘adult-ish’ books, took a wee bit of mental adjustment. Normally the transition is typically near-seamless, particularly if the plot and characters are stellar and there isn’t a huge step back in maturity levels. With the rivals to lovers trope in play here, ‘Game On’ sounded like something I could dig into.

But what I hadn’t counted on—which made me decidedly lukewarm—was Olivia Dawson’s past one-night stand with baseball player Devon Miller that happened when she was with another guy, who later broke up with her after she confessed that affair. It’s admittedly in the past and considered ‘just a mistake’ under the influence of alcohol, though that didn’t give me the best impression of her, not when she continued being judgemental, pugnacious and just an all-round pain in the arse after all this time.

That she nevertheless ends up with Devon—the guy she cheated with—while having a relationship somehow made light of that remorse. Cheating isn’t my thing (neither do I get off on it, though lately I find myself getting increasingly intolerant of it) and that tanked the book for me early on, as it tainted my whole impression of Olivia. With the entire story in her POV as well, ‘Game On’ was quite a let down from the start, especially when I found myself unable to take anymore of Olivia and gave up midway.

Obviously this series just isn’t for me—my preference rearing its head again quite strongly here—but as I’ve said before, it’s probably someone else’s cup of tea.

one-star

Drift by Amy Murray

Drift by Amy MurrayDrift by Amy Murray
Published by Entangled Publishing (Embrace) on August 28th 2017
Pages: 331
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one-star

I’m not crazy. My mother may have died with everyone believing she was insane, but I refuse to accept that as my fate. Even if I am recalling memories about a life I never lived. A life that includes the mysterious James—a guy I’ve only just met, but feel as if I’ve known all my life. The memories are coming hard and fast, and I’m falling down a rabbit hole with consequences that far exceed anything I could have ever imagined. And now, someone is trying to kill me.

Someone from my past who knows about my visions and is looking for something he believes I took from him. All I have to do is figure out how these memories relate to the present and maybe I’ll survive to live another day.

Maybe…

The blurb intrigued me from the start and I thought I was going to be pulled into a New Adult book that crosses several genres into suspense the paranormal. And ‘Drift’ does in fact, defy categorisation in a sense and its uniqueness stood out from the start when there is the eerie sense that there’s nothing right with the world as Abigail knows it when her supernatural abilities to ‘drift’ into her past lives start to show up.

But the more I read on, the harder a time I had getting into this, not least because the frequent jumps between the present and an unknown time when Abigail and James were fleeing something or someone weren’t exactly demarcated properly, either by paragraphs or by italics. Admittedly this might be a formatting issue, but it left me confused nonetheless.

For the longest time, I couldn’t really figure out what was going on and my own state of disorientation only grew when things happened without sufficient explanation of the paranormal happenings for both James and Abigail. The characters themselves were confused and flailing to understand what was going on with themselves, save for the ominous confirmation that it will end in tragedy and regret. What isn’t clear is the time periods in which Abigail’s and James’s ‘past lives’ take place and while some partial revelations come through another character, it’s clear that the pieces wouldn’t fall into place right up until the end.

I couldn’t finish ‘Drift’ in the end, just as it was shaping out to be a complicated love triangle with past lives affecting the present. I’d struggled through it for several days, unable to get fully into it, despite the initial excitement that I had about this…and finally decided that this just wasn’t a book for me.

one-star

The Heartbeat Hypothesis by Lindsey Frydman

The Heartbeat Hypothesis by Lindsey FrydmanThe Heartbeat Hypothesis by Lindsey Frydman
Published by Entangled Publishing on March 20th 2017
Pages: 221
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two-stars

Audra Madison simply wanted to walk in the shoes of Emily Cavanaugh, a free-spirited teenager who died too young. After all, Audra wasn’t supposed to be here.
Thanks to Emily, Audra has a second chance at life. She’s doing all the things that seemed impossible just two years ago: Go to college. Date. Stargaze in the Rocky Mountains. Maybe get a tattoo. You know, live.
Jake Cavanaugh, a photographer with mysterious, brooding gray eyes, agrees to help chronicle her newfound experiences. She makes him laugh, one of the only people who can these days. As they delve into each other’s pasts – and secrets – the closer they become.
But she’s guarded and feels like she can’t trust anyone, including herself. And he’s struggling with the fact that his beloved sister’s heart beats inside her.

Reading ‘The Heartbeat Hypothesis’ is like hearing a new voice that speaks out for teenage angst that’s fully captured in its powerful, moody glory. But the subjects that Lindsey Frydman deals with here are difficult, heavy and weighed down with the solemnity of death, life and deception.

Here, high school melodrama is eschewed in favour of melancholic episodes, wistful photographing of lonely landscapes and soulful conversations as teenagers live through and attempt to define how cosmic justice (if I could ever find a better term) has played a role in their lives. It’s more than a search for identity now; their questions turn into a search for the reasons for living (deep, angsty stuff) as the beginning chapters made me hold my breath in anticipation of how things would develop between a girl who has been given a new lease of life with the heart of a dead girl and her brother who clearly hadn’t yet sorted out his grief.

Both Jake and Audra are damaged in their own ways and while I liked them to begin with, I think I couldn’t understand the tangent the story took towards the end. I couldn’t understand, least of all, why Audra suddenly poked her nose into Jake’s business when she had no right to, leaving us with a so-called mystery that would never be solved. In fact, by the time I was through the last quarter, nothing seemed to fall into place except that after a string of tragedies, Jake and Audra kind of thought they could still belong to each other. Frydman’s nuanced writing draws out Audra’s emotions perfectly, yet only her motivations and sense of purpose are made clear. On the other hand, Jake himself and his family remained as frustratingly obscure as ever, without any light shed on the events a few years earlier that I’d frankly expected.

Consequently, if I was overwhelmed in the beginning, I finished the story more bewildered than satisfied, wondering if there was some chunk of the book that I’d actually missed.

two-stars

The Rule Maker by Jennifer Blackwood

The Rule Maker by Jennifer BlackwoodThe Rule Maker by Jennifer Blackwood
Series: The Rule Breakers, #2
Published by Entangled Publishing (Embrace) on January 16th 2017
Pages: 280
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four-stars

Ten Steps to Surviving a New Job:
1. Don’t sleep with the client. It’ll get you fired. (Sounds easy enough.)
2. Don’t blink when new client turns out to be former one-night stand.
3. Don’t call same client a jerk for never texting you back.
4. Don’t believe client when he says he really, really wanted to call.
5. Remember, the client is always right—so you can’t junk punch him when he demands new design after new design.
6. Ignore accelerated heartbeat every time sexy client walks into room.
7. Definitely ignore client’s large hands. They just mean he wears big gloves.
8. Don’t let client’s charm wear you down. Be strong.
9. Whatever you do, don’t fall for the client. You’ll lose more than your job—maybe even your heart.
10. If all else fails, see rule number one again.

‘The Rule Breakers’ series has loads going for it: the funnies, the comedic timing and a very timely reminder that the flimic romantic comedy can indeed translate very well into the written form when put in the right hands. Just like its predecessor, the blurb was already intriguing but I hadn’t realised it was Lainey’s friend Zoey who was going to have her turn in the limelight in this one with Ryder Covington, a one-night stand turned client until I saw the first chapter.

It’s not to say that Zoey and Ryder aren’t stereotypes, because to some extent they are: the superstar snowboarder using the excuse of travelling to keep his one-night stands going vs the woman who got angry when he left (because it was the best sex ever) and then realising that they can mean more to each other under different circumstances. Both Zoey and Ryder do teeter on the edge of irrational at times, though I do recognise that those form part of Jennifer Blackwood’s trademark humour that sometimes straddles satire/parody. Throw in difficult relatives, an angry roommate who is still sucking in her own HEA and Blackwood has got women’s night pat down.

By and large however, ‘The Rule Maker’ is quite a witty (and dare I say ‘sparkling’?) take on contemporary romance; it’s pacey, light-hearted and generally filled with little hilarious moments that I’m almost convinced I can see this happening on the big screen. There’s just a slight bit of angst and a point where the laughs stop and though the conflict and subsequent resolution felt a little rushed for me, the HEA after the grovelling is expected but always welcome.

four-stars

The Rule Book by Jennifer Blackwood

The Rule Book by Jennifer BlackwoodThe Rule Book by Jennifer Blackwood
Series: The Rule Breakers, #1
Published by Entangled Publishing (Embrace) on May 9th 2016
Pages: 290
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four-stars

Starr Media Second-Assistant Survival Guide1. Don't call your hot boss the antichrist to his face. 2. Don't stare at hot boss's, um, package or his full sleeve of tattoos. (No. Really. Stop!) 3. Don't get on the malicious first assistant's bad side.4. Don't forget to memorize the 300-page employee manual.5. If you value your cashmere, steer clear of boss’s dog.6. Boss’s dimples are lust-inducing. Do. Not. Give. In. 7. “The elevator ate your clothes” is not a valid excuse for showing up to important meetings half dressed. 8. Don't break seven of the rules within the first week of employment if you, ya know, are in dire need of money to support your sick mom.9. Whatever you do, don’t fall for the boss. See rule eight about sick mom.10. Never forget the rules.

‘The Rule Book’ is definitely one of the more enjoyable reads I’ve had in a while, worthy of all the crazy (if not always realistic) antics of a typical romantic comedy.


Cleverly written with shades of Bridget Jones klutziness in it, I liked the humour, the absolutely believable lead characters, and even the antagonists because they didn’t magically turn into honey and lovingkindness. My only quibble – which I’ve surprised even myself by saying – is the sudden but very surprising slam of the bedroom door in my face after all the build-up and the fantasising that got me hot and bothered.

four-stars