REVIEW - ASA by Jay Crownover

Asa (Marked Men #6)
by Jay Crownover
Publisher - HarperCollins
Release Date - April 21st 2015
Buy - Amazon | Book Depository

Jay Crownover’s New York Times and USA Today bestselling Marked Men series continues with the much anticipated story of southern charmer and certified criminal Asa Cross.

Starting over in Denver with a whole new circle of friends and family, Asa Cross struggles with being the man he knows everyone wants him to be and the man he knows he really is. A leopard doesn’t it change its spots and Asa has always been a predator. He doesn’t want to hurt those who love and rely on him, especially one luscious arresting cop who suddenly seems to be interested in him for far more than his penchant for breaking the law. But letting go of old habits is hard, and it’s easy to hit bottom when it’s the place you know best.

Royal Hastings is quickly learning what the bottom looks like after a tragic situation at work threatens not only her career but her partner’s life. As a woman who has only ever had a few real friends she’s trying to muddle through her confusion and devastation all alone. Except she can’t stop thinking about the sexy southern bartender she locked up. Crushing on Asa is the last thing she needs but his allure is too strong to resist. His long criminal record can only hurt her already shaky career and chasing after a guy who has no respect for the law or himself can only end in heartbreak.

A longtime criminal and a cop together just seems so wrong . . . but for Asa and Royal, being wrong together is the only right choice to make.
By now you all know how much I love this series. Starting in the middle of the series was probably one of my best decisions when it came to the Marked Men. Shortly after reading authors by the likes of E L James, Sylvia Day and Cora Carmack, I needed a new NA fix and this has quenched my fantasies and hot tattooed men it is sadly time for the Marked Men to draw to close, closing off with a character with far more bad in his life than good... Asa Cross.

Asa Cross, hasn't had the best start in life, far from it. In and out of trouble, Asa essentially was a con artist in his youth and looking for a way in to get the most dosh. He would use his body and his whits to get what we wanted. He wasn't a nice person that's for sure and one I hoped that side of him wouldn't return in his story. When Asa came out of a coma not too long ago, he thought it was his time and he could finally leave people that he has hurt the most, especially his sister Ayden. But clearly someone had other intentions and now he feels that is living his life in repentance. Ever since then, people, his friends, his boss have been giving him a chance to live that life that he should deserve, even though he won't take it.

We first meet Asa in Rome, he is hired as a bartender to help out in the bar. Since then he has tried to keep himself straight, for his sister but also to show Rome what he can really achieve. Asa is trying to prove himself. But also create himself a life within the Marked Men family. Asa is a stubborn git and you can't deny that sometimes that is a attractive quality in Jay's style of writing. Sometimes I felt that he has suffered a lot, but then I felt he deserved it at the same time. I want to feel for Asa and the majority of the time of the novel I did. I think it was the undercurrent of uncertainty and the darkness that surrounds him that I questioned that. In a way though I can understand him a lot more that way too. Asa is so much more than his past, and it was about bloody time he realised it because he is a swell guy, he is caring, courageous, he is a savour. He sees right through people and he wants to save them, including a red headed cop, Royal Hastings.

Royal Hastings certainly has a unique personality and being a cop she is undoubtedly a bad-ass in this book. She is fun, a bit bonkers but she fast becomes a character that you learn to really love.  Royal has some issues to deal with herself. Royal's police partner, became seriously injured in a shoot out and if it wasn't for her, taking the shooter down, then he wouldn't be alive. But her partner, also happens to be her best friend and she thinks she failed him. Whilst I can understand what a horrific ordeal she went through, at times I felt that she was being just a bit too selfish for her own good. Royal's issues boil down to the fact that she has always followed her partner to the police academy and never done anything for herself. She needed to stand on her own two feet and that is what she was certainly doing to get one southern bartender interested in her. 

Royal has a history with Asa, she arrested him and she knows how bad he is. But that doesn't stop the resistance she has towards him. She knows he can change. Finally when she believes in someone whether they have a record or not, thankfully this time she doesn't let it stop here. Undoubtedly together, they are passionate, addicted to each and so very very right for each other. Two damaged people together as one. The downfall in their relationship was that Asa really didn't give himself a chance and he was pushing Royal away constantly, it actually became a little tedious in places, I'll admit. But issues aside, they both gave themselves something they haven't ever found in a long time, commitment, love and a fiery passion that will never burn out. 

In most of Jay's novels, that's the message in all her Marked Men, it doesn't matter if you have a flaw in you, you are beautiful in your own way and that is what we fall for. Asa is the last book in the series so Jay had to tie up the men's stories in one neat bow. It was beautiful to see that it wasn't always focused on the two main characters but on continuing the lives of her previous prodigies, we see some get married, some having a family. Giving each of them a happily ever after. This series has grown strength to strength in each man she has explored with their pasts and their futures but you will be glad to know that there will be a spin-off series focusing more on the secondary characters of each of the novels. So technically it may be the end of the Marked Men series, but a start for another family to begin their journey in The Saint of Denver

Rating - 4

REVIEW - SOMETHING REAL by Heather Demetrios

Something Real
by Heather Demetrios
Publisher - Henry Hold BYR
Release Date - February 4th 2014
Buy - Amazon | Book Depository

There’s nothing real about reality TV.

Seventeen-year-old Bonnie™ Baker has grown up on TV—she and her twelve siblings are the stars of one-time hit reality show Baker’s Dozen. Since the show’s cancellation and the scandal surrounding it, Bonnie™ has tried to live a normal life, under the radar and out of the spotlight. But it’s about to fall apart…because Baker’s Dozen is going back on the air. Bonnie™’s mom and the show’s producers won’t let her quit and soon the life she has so carefully built for herself, with real friends (and maybe even a real boyfriend), is in danger of being destroyed by the show. Bonnie™ needs to do something drastic if her life is ever going to be her own—even if it means being more exposed than ever before.
I've never really read a book based on reality TV shows especially that of a young adult novel. I'd like to say the last one I really read and is also a key element of the novel was 1984 by George Orwell as part of my dissertation. That seems like a long time ago. Granted I've never been much of a classic reader either but the whole camera following you around purpose sparked an emotional if not erratic response out me, thinking why on earth would you subject yourself or have a world built of prying eyes. When I saw that Something Real was going to be my next club read, I jumped at the chance to read it and see that the emotions that welled out of me where ones of love and inspiration of people that Heather created.

Based in a world that very few of us really know we see into the life of a girl, whose life has been shamed in front of a camera since she was a baby. You see the happiness and the ugliness of someone with such vibrancy dulled in comparison behind a lens. This girl is no different from anyone else, her name is Chloe but her stage name is Bonnie Baker. Bakers Dozen, a TV show best known in the states about a family of a dozen children who's life is recorded day in day out of the life they lead. Bonnie Baker is the star of the show, when she little, her mum could really only have her, Lexie and Benton and due to complications. These three kids were the originals stars, but now more have joined the family. Once the show ended seven seasons into the show, it was time for a reality check and one Chloe fully intended to embrace. She changed her, her identity really as she didn't want to be that person behind a camera, I mean who could really blame her. Chloe has never had a real life, a childhood, it was full nannies and homeschooling and peeing little toms on the studio set. So when her mum finally decides, or more forces on the kids that Bakers Dozen is returning once again. Thus ending her dream and enter the nightmare. 

Chloe has finally managed to build a life for herself outside of the show. Her identity is completely unknown to the school and even to her best friends, she is invisible to the naked eye for once. Like any normal teenager you want to revise, pass your exams with flying colours, have crush on a boy and also have him ask to you to prom. His name is Patrick, Patrick Sheldon. It's just bad luck that when they start getting to know each other that the Baker Dozen returns to live TV. She is afraid of the consequences and the media getting their grubby hands into something that is hers to have and hold, that isn't for the public eye. Can't she have anything in her life that is sacred to her. Patrick is completely unfazed by Chloe's status in the world and on TV. But her certainly doesn't want to give up on her either. That is what is so lovable about his characters, you fall hard for the boy who is going to love and protect her. I can imagine him saying, "I'll save you" but that is the humour and comedy that Heather really entwines with characters. Their romance throughout the book hits some walls but they jump over them, it's a romance that I felt connected too on a deep level myself, Patrick for me was just the perfect boy for Chloe and also for me. hehe. You can't do anything apart from fall head over heels in love with him.
“Hate is a lot like love. It's warm and fills you up until every part of you is tingling to release it.”
Her family was a beautiful and ugly affair, do not get me started on her mother. God I really wanted to bash her head against the wall. That is why I wanted to throw the book in the first place. Clearly being a celebrity really does strip the good out of you, all you see is this shell of person, twisted and cold. Especially in front of the camera. Mix her mum and the director of the show and you for yourself a time bomb for Chloe and for yourself. The one genuine character in the family is Benton Baker. He is the truest soul in the book and one that can know your deepest, darkest feelings and secrets just with a glance. He is pure ball of light and he just melt s your heart. What I also came across was that this was classed a LGBT novel, which in all fairness I haven't really read that many but I was surprised that it made me love it even more. 

Something Real was a passionate book for me. Like I said it can drive you up the wall with anger. and annoyance. It's a book you want to throw at the wall because of such a diverse plotline that it is. It confronts the audience from indulging them in a literary version of Big Brother. But forces you to realise the reality of how a camera can corrupt yourself and ruin your life from such an early age. I'm elated to say that Chloe came out of it with a much more stronger approach to her life as well as a new start... 

Rating - 5


Hi Everyone and welcome to my post of the All Played Out blog tour. As you know I read and reviewed the first book All Lined Up, which I thought was a average read to the start of the series. But I continued on with....Book 3. They all can be read in a standalone capacity and I enjoyed that a lot more. This one is by far my favourite of the series. Today my post is my review and an excerpt of the book. Don't forget to read on as there is a giveaway too so be sure to enter to win a signed set of the Rusk series. Before I start my review here is a little more on ALL PLAYED OUT...

All Played Out (Rusk University #3)
by Cora Carmack
Publisher - William Morrow & Company
Release Date - May 12th 2015
Buy - Amazon | Book Depository

First person in her family to go to college? CHECK.
Straight A’s? CHECK.
On track to graduate early? CHECK.
Social life? …..yeah, about that….

With just a few weeks until she graduates, Antonella DeLuca’s beginning to worry that maybe she hasn’t had the full college experience. (Okay... Scratch that. She knows she hasn't had the full college experience).

So Nell does what a smart, dedicated girl like herself does best. She makes a "to do" list of normal college activities.

Item #1? Hook up with a jock.

Rusk University wide receiver Mateo Torres practically wrote the playbook for normal college living. When he’s not on the field, he excels at partying, girls, and more partying. As long as he keeps things light and easy, it's impossible to get hurt... again. But something about the quiet, shy, sexy-as-hell Nell gets under his skin, and when he learns about her list, he makes it his mission to help her complete it.

Torres is the definition of confident (And sexy. And wild), and he opens up a side of Nell that she's never known. But as they begin to check off each crazy, exciting, normal item, Nell finds that her frivolous list leads to something more serious than she bargained for. And while Torres is used to taking risks on the field, he has to decide if he's willing to take the chance when it's more than just a game.

Together they will have to decide if what they have is just part of the experiment or a chance at something real.
Em's TOP 5 Checklist of ALL PLAYED OUT 

#1 - Character Connection on a deeper level: Antonella (love that name) very much reminded me of Cora's MC in Losing It, Bliss. They both had such authenticity to their characters that I just feel in love with her. I loved her wild streak which she obtained from her Nell's To Do List at the beginning of her perspective. It was a way for to really connect with the other side of college life, for her to get her full experience before she graduated earlier than other people.

#2 - 'Hook up with a Jock': I hate the term 'jock' don't you?! I found that as you progress through the story, Mateo is nothing like that, far from it. Whilst at first I did think he was a bit of a tool, comparing his previous love Lina, to Ness. Which was the first step into using someone and I felt he was betraying Ness at the same time too, she deserved more than that. But I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt, which I was indeed right to give as he was by far the hottest guy of the Rusk series so far... But there was such a slow burn of hooking up that it was both steamy and cruel at the same time. That's one thing I adore about Cora's writing, it's written to keep you hooked and you will certainly need to fan yourself every once in a while.

#3 - Steamy Romance: My oh my! What a build-up it was...the more times Ness and Mateo checked something of her list, the more heated it would get. Each would get more kinky, but they grew closer together as well, both physically and mentally. It's as if underneath both of their skins, their personalities were tuned together from the beginning. They were able to  The approach to their relationship was unique and also strangely familiar at the same time.

#4 - Family of Secondary Characters: Like many of Cora's books, she doesn't just let one book end without inviting her previous characters into the next book. That's what I love about her work, she brings out the best in her books when she incorporates all her writing prodigies. We see them as they are but from a different perspective, we see them move on through Rusk and through life. A Family of characters. Much like Jay Crownover's Marked Men series.  I met Dallas and Carson once again and for inquiring minds they are as just as in love, probably more so in front of their as All Lined Up. We also see Dylan and Silas which I can only assume are the stars of All Broke Down the sequel. Now after reading this novel I want to know what happened to Stella and how her story will continue.

#5 - Wonderfully Written: Written through dual perspective you really get to see both characters in their own spotlight as well as together. You get to look into their heads, and what Cora does is make you want to fight for the characters, you feel very emotionally involved. I can't fault her writing. She has created something totally different from her Losing It series but this is the book I was waiting for in this series. This was were my expectations exceeded that from her first book that I felt a little disappointed by. This one is a page turner, with all the romantic feels, first-bumps, and toe-curling effects to the novel. It's unputtdownable. 

Rating - 5/5 - Well what other rating could I give if Cora Carmack, checked all of my book items....

Please Read On for an Excerpt and Giveaway!!!!

BOUT OF BOOKS 13 - Goals and Updates

Bout of Books

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, May 11th and runs through Sunday, May 17th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 13 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team

It's that time of the year again...I am a recent joiner of the #boutofbooks challenge and the last time I participated it was a huge success for me and really loved it. I managed to read far more than I would usually in a week. I thoroughly enjoyed talking with other members and updating my progress as well as seeing other people joining in on the fun. Now like all readers its choosing what book to read, do I go ARCs which I have quite a lot of, or my TBR which again is ever-growing. Sadly lol. So I've decided to mix it up a bit and this is a potential list of books that I will likely pick from this week.

 18048577 23561166
Monday - 
Asa by Jay Crownover -
Pages read 50
Tuesday -
Asa by Jay Crownover -
Pages read up to 159
*Sadly not having that much time to read this week.*
Wednesday - 
Asa by Jay Crownover
Pages read up to 211
*I will finish this book tomorrow...I will!*

As you can see a lot of contemporary but that is in the mood I'm in right now. Three of them are ARCs and the rest TBR. I will be reading Asa with Donna from Book Passion For Life and Every Last Word later in the week with Jasprit from The Reader's Den. So it's going to be a good week. I hope this bout of books is going to be a success as the previous ones, my hours have been increased as of this week so time may be limited this week sadly. I will be updating this post daily as well my Instagram and Twitter so be sure to head on over. 

Are you joining Bout of Books? Have you read any of these books? Let me know and link me up. 

REVIEW - ALL LINED UP by Cora Carmack

All Lined Up (Rusk University #1)
by Cora Carmack
Publisher - HarperCollins 
Release Date - May 13th 2014
Buy - Amazon | Book Depository

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Cora Carmack follows up her trio of hits—Losing It, Faking It, and Finding It—with this thrilling first novel in an explosive series bursting with the Texas flavor, edge, and steamy romance of Friday Night Lights.

In Texas, two things are cherished above all else—football and gossip. My life has always been ruled by both.

Dallas Cole loathes football. That's what happens when you spend your whole childhood coming in second to a sport. College is her time to step out of the bleachers, and put the playing field (and the players) in her past.

But life doesn't always go as planned. As if going to the same college as her football star ex wasn’t bad enough, her father, a Texas high school coaching phenom, has decided to make the jump to college ball… as the new head coach at Rusk University. Dallas finds herself in the shadows of her father and football all over again.

Carson McClain is determined to go from second-string quarterback to the starting line-up. He needs the scholarship and the future that football provides. But when a beautiful redhead literally falls into his life, his focus is more than tested. It's obliterated.

Dallas doesn't know Carson is on the team. Carson doesn't know that Dallas is his new coach's daughter.

And neither of them know how to walk away from the attraction they feel.
I've loved Cora's work from the beginning. Losing It is one of my all time favourite NA books it was heartfelt and honest. Oh and Garrick well, enough said really. When All Lined Up was free on iBooks and Kindle I couldn't resist having it...If I'm at all honest, it doesn't live up to my expectations from her first series but it was still a very enjoyable read.

Taken from a dual perspective we have Dallas Cole, passionate contemporary dancer and enthusiast living under the shadow of her father, Coach Cole, Rusk's own coach at the uni that Dallas is studying at. She is sick and tired living within a few yards of her father, when he won't accept her for who she is and unable to leave the nest as it were. Her father tends to put football first and his daughter second. It probably doesn't help that that ex was a quarterback in his team and the only reason was because her father was his coach. Now she is done hooking up with the jock completely. So she says...

When she goes to a frat party like a 'normal' college girl and her roommate Stella forces her to go she faces both her ex and Carson, this would be our second POV of the novel. Sitting alone under a tree, (Oh how romantic the setting is) totally demoralised by the party and couldn't care less about getting to know his so called teammates. It suddenly gets interesting when a girl, nonetheless, Dallas, is standing, on a balcony screaming her lungs in anger and frustration... I don't think you could start off a friendship in a more dramatic way as that. They certainly get off to very fast track as soon they meet. For Dallas this is very unusual in her character and for Carson, he is unsure how to proceed with Dallas on this level of intimacy. 

Dallas, is headstrong, brutally honest which is refreshing and unique quality to have in a girl of her age and stature at Rusk. But she is also in my eyes quite a weak character as she lets her feelings control her when it comes to both her father and Carson. Dallas is unable to come to terms with her downfalls but also her own beliefs too. She is too drawn to the prospect of failure of her herself and what people think around her. I know for a fact that she wants to go to New York or San Francisco to study Dance, I know she wants to leave her father's side and be on her own two feet. But she is under the commands of a football coach and has very little choice in her wants and desires. 

On the other hand, you have Carson, similar in strength to Dallas but his weakness is balance, balancing his life and his football scholarship. His training is detrimental to getting his scholarship, working his way up, showing the coach that he can do it! Carson is on a one track road and his entire focus is one football. Don't get me wrong I love a guy who is committed to his work and his passions but their is a point where you need to let your hair down completely even just escaping into something that isn't running or weights. Both Dallas and Carson, have similar yet different aspects of their personalities that they need to grow on, I guess they balance each other out in their own ways. What it lacked was that you didn't see their personalities grow together, you don't that magical spark or build up beneath the lust. I have nothing against their characters but I think both of them together could be developed and thought out just a little more thoroughly. It had elements of insta-love connection which I hate to admit. 

Whilst I very much enjoyed another new series my Miss Carmack, I felt that's all that was, an average start to a New Adult series. I did anticipate something more from the characters and possibly the plotline a little. It could potentially have been a great read but it doesn't deter me from continuing this series and her work. 

Rating - 3.5

#FantasyIRL tag: AN EMBER IN THE ASHES by Sabaa Tahir

Hi Everyone! Today I have a different post for you all about An Ember in the Ashes. I've heard so much about this book and a lot of people around the blog have certainly said this is one of their most anticipated reads of 2015. I have to say I haven't really read much about it, but when the very publishers asked if I wanted a copy I couldn't pass up the opportunity. As part of the package, Harper Voyager set us a challenge to join the #FantasyIRL tag where we asked ourselves the questions on the cards and maybe it will open up a wider conversation about power, freedom, control and destiny and how they affect us. But here is a little bit more about the book.

An Ember in the Ashes
by Sabaa Tahir
Publisher - Harper Voyager
Release Date - June 4th 2015
Buy - Amazon | Book Depository

Set in a terrifyingly brutal Rome-like world, An Ember in the Ashes is an epic fantasy debut about an orphan fighting for her family and a soldier fighting for his freedom. It’s a story that’s literally burning to be told.

What if you were the spark that could ignite a revolution?

For years Laia has lived in fear. Fear of the Empire, fear of the Martials, fear of truly living at all. Born as a Scholar, she’s never had much of a choice.

For Elias it’s the opposite. He has seen too much on his path to becoming a Mask, one of the Empire’s elite soldiers. With the Masks’ help the Empire has conquered a continent and enslaved thousands, all in the name of power.

When Laia’s brother is taken she must force herself to help the Resistance, the only people who have a chance of saving him. She must spy on the Commandant, ruthless overseer of Blackcliff Academy. Blackcliff is the training ground for Masks and the very place that Elias is planning to escape. If he succeeds, he will be named deserter. If found, the punishment will be death.

But once Laia and Elias meet, they will find that their destinies are intertwined and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

In the ashes of a broken world one person can make a difference. One voice in the dark can be heard. The price of freedom is always high and this time that price might demand everything, even life itself.

Displaying EMBER postcards.jpg Displaying EMBER postcards2.jpg
POWER. We all feel powerless sometimes. Have you ever fought against someone in a powerful position and stood up for yourself - if so, how did you do it? What advice would you give to someone in a similar position?
If I'm honest, I really haven't fought against someone in a powerful position. But if I were to give some advice I would say; Be true to yourself and your opinions, don't be afraid to express them at all. That being well, it can be incredibly tough and courageous to stand up to someone like this. But don't give up either....

Displaying EMBER postcards3.jpg Displaying EMBER postcards4.jpg
FREEDOM. Modern life often means doing things we don't want to do (as in fantasy). What do you do to keep yourself feeling positive during a difficult day? Are there any songs/places/people that make you feel happy?
There is always a time when we have a difficult day, I've had a load of those sadly. To keep myself feeling positive I do have a couple of things; I have a 'Happy' playlist on my iPod that I like to switch on loud and read to fully escape the atmosphere even if it is for an hour on my break. That usually lets me recoup myself. Another is that I think of a very special person in my life. It corny I know, but he really makes me so happy and just thinking about him, makes my world a brighter, glowy and the happiest place I could be. 

Displaying EMBER postcards5.jpg Displaying EMBER postcards6.jpg
CONTROL. We all have moments where we feel out of control of our own lives. What helps your regain control? Have you ever been a victim of peer pressure, or felt pushed into doing something you don't necessarily agree with? What advice would you give someone in a similar situation?
When I think I'm being pushed to my limit, I find that my control is pretty good but I have a tenancy to let things build inside of me which doesn't really help. I tend to do the classic, Count to 10 or 100 depending on the situation. But it can also show on my face rather than the use of my words, emotions can get the better of me sometimes. I was given this advice and I recommend it; give them dumb insolence, then you will slowly try to regain your composure when faced in that predicament. 

Displaying EMBER postcards7.jpg Displaying EMBER postcards8.jpg
DESTINY. Do you believe that everything happens for a reason and your destiny is laid out for you? What do you think you can do to change your own destiny? What makes you happiest now - and how does it differ from what made you happiest this time last year?
I do believe in destiny and indeed fate too. I've always believed that things happen for a reason and I believe it for a good reason as it's happened to me. If you want to take another path then that's up to you because I think that your destiny will follow you wherever you will go and will help in the process. Maybe that'a bit far-fetched but I guess this is what I feel in me. What is making me happy is that everything in my life couldn't be better, my job, my family, my relationship and my blog. Everything changed nearly a year ago and now I feel that everything is just fitting together nicely and I couldn't be happier.

So there you have it, I've completed my challenge of the #FantasyIRL tag. Now it's your turn... I know a lot of you are a tag-free zone so some of you may not do it, but I'm challenging you to be a part of this. Answer each of these questions in your own post or vlog to join in on the conversation that is #AnEmberintheAshes