Living Out Loud by Staci Hart ~ #BookReview

~Jennifer~ | 3:40 PM | Be the first to comment!

June 18, 2018 

Title: Living Out Loud
Series: Austen #3
Author: Staci Hart
Publication Date: February 1, 2018 
Source: ARC for an honest review 

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N

My Rating:  


Bestselling author Staci Hart brings you another installment of the Austen Series, inspired by the works of Jane Austen, with a heartfelt contemporary retelling of Sense and Sensibility.

When Annie Daschle arrives in New York City, the only thing she can control is her list. 

Not her father’s death or the loss of her home. Not the hole in her heart or the defective valve that’s dictated so much of her life. But she can put pen to paper to make a list of all the ways she can live out loud, just like her dad would have wanted.

See the city from the top of the Empire State Building: Check.
Eat hot dogs on the steps of The Met: Check.
Get a job at Wasted Words: Check.

What wasn’t on her list: Greg Brandon. And just when she thinks she’s figured out where to put him, everything changes. In the span of a few staggering heartbeats, she finds herself her caught in the middle of something she can’t find her way out of, with no clear answers and no rules.

List or no list, she realizes she can’t control anything at all, not even her heart. 

Not the decisions it makes, and not the moment it stops.

Living Out Loud is an emotionally stirring and well written novel. I loved Annie so much! I liked her sisters and the close relationship they have with their mom. They're working through their loss together as a family, and I appreciated that. Also, Annie gets a job at a bookstore, so score! That automatically guarantees I'll read the story.

Greg was amazing

I wasn't happy 60% into the story with the introduction of Will, which ends up creating a lukewarm love triangle between Greg, Annie and Will. I didn't think his character was needed, and he was an unwelcome addition, hence one of the reasons I took a star away in my rating. The story began to lag. 

Another reason I rated this book four stars rather than five is due to Annie's naivety. I get that New York City would be an overwhelming place for someone her age to navigate and feel at home there, but she seemed to have NO qualms when it came to trusting complete strangers. You still have to have your wits about you to keep yourself safe. While I appreciated her positive outlook, I also thought she needed a small dose of reality. 

I wanted more scenes where Greg and Annie are together. Whenever they were talking or near each other, I wanted more. Greg is truly a great love interest to root for.   

Living Out Loud inspired me to begin to truly live rather than to simply drag myself along to exist. The novel tackles grief, family, love and figuring out how to go on after the death of a loved one. I recommend it!    

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Nice Try, Jane Sinner by Lianne Oelke ~ #BookReview @NetGalley

~Jennifer~ | 8:00 AM | | 2 Comments

June 15, 2018

Title: Nice Try, Jane Sinner
Author: Lianne Oelke  
Publisher: Clarion Books 
Publication Date: January 9, 2018 
Source: Publisher via NetGalley

Purchase: Amazon | B&N  

My Rating: 


Recently expelled from high school, Jane Sinner grudgingly enrolls in community college, a situation made slightly more bearable when she joins a student-run reality show. House of Orange is her chance to start over—and maybe even win a car (used, but whatever)—and no one there knows what she did in high school. What more could she want?

Okay, maybe a family that gets why she’d rather turn to Freud than to Jesus. But she’ll settle for using HOO’s growing fanbase, and whatever Intro to Psych can teach her, to prove to the world—or at least viewers of substandard TV—that she has what it takes to win.

Before I get into my review, I want to share a cool thing that happened. For some reason my NetGalley ARC of Nice Try, Jane Sinner wouldn't download. I checked to see if the book was available to borrow through my Overdrive app, but it wasn't! There was an option to recommend they buy it, however, so I clicked the box. A few days later I received an email that the Ohio Digital Library purchased the book and would notify me when I could borrow it. 

Anyway, I wanted to share this experience with you because this is the first time I've received concrete evidence that a library bought a book I recommended, and I'm really happy about it!     

Now on to the review. I loved this book! Nice Try, Jane Sinner takes place in Canada, and it's always a nice change of pace when books are set outside the U.S. 

 After her expulsion from high school, Jane enrolls in community college and finds out a student-run reality show, House of Orange, is going to be filmed there. The show is still looking for participants, so she signs up while fudging a few facts about herself. She doesn't think ahead and by doing this, sets herself up for the possibility that the people around her will find out she lied about her identity. 

I did my best to read Nice Try, Jane Sinner from the POV of a teenager, but here and there my mind would drift to see Jane as I see my own teenage daughter. For instance, Jane has ultra conservative religious parents, and at first it annoyed me that she referred to them as simply "the parents," but I got over it when I remembered that's how I referred to my own parents. 

It was for Jane and her parents to have fundamental misunderstandings of each other. Her parents didn't "get" her intentions and behaviors when, as the reader, I could see where she was coming from thought I didn't always agree with her decisions. They were disappointed she wasn't doing exactly what they expected of her. I was dying to step in and mediate between her and her parents! On the other hand, she has an amazing and close relationship with her younger sister that made me happy to see.    

This is one of the best books I've read tackling teenage depression. As a former teen who suffered from depression, I could relate to Jane and was impressed by how accurately Oelke treated the subject matter. I can't recommend Nice Try, Jane Sinner enough whether you're a teen or an adult.   

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Love Spell by Mia Kerick ~ #BookReview

~Jennifer~ | 3:00 PM | Please comment!

June 14, 2018

Title: Love Spell
Author: Mia Kerick
Publisher: Cool Dudes Publishing 
Release Date: June 1, 2015 
Source: Copy for an honest review via Lola's Blog Tours  

Purchase: Amazon | B&N | Book Depository 

My Rating:  


Strutting his stuff on the catwalk in black patent leather pumps and a snug orange tuxedo as this year's Miss(ter) Harvest Moon feels so very right to Chance Cesar, and yet he knows it should feel so very wrong. 

As far back as he can remember, Chance has been "caught between genders." (It's quite a touchy subject; so don't ask him about it.) However, he does not question his sexual orientation. Chance has no doubt about his gayness - he is very much out of the closet at his rural New Hampshire high school, where the other students avoid the kid they refer to as "girl-boy."

But at the local Harvest Moon Festival, when Chance, the Pumpkin Pageant Queen, meets Jasper Donahue, the Pumpkin Carving King, sparks fly. So Chance sets out, with the help of his BFF, Emily, to make "Jazz" Donahue his man. 

An article in an online women's magazine, "Ten Scientifically Proven Ways to Make a Man Fall in Love with You" (with a bonus love spell thrown in for good measure), becomes the basis of their strategy to capture Jazz's heart. 

Quirky, comical, definitely flamboyant, and with an inner core of poignancy, Love Spell celebrates the diversity of a gender-fluid teen. 

When I started reading Love Spell, I wasn't a fan of Chance's lingo; however, his manner of speech grew on me. To be fair, I'm not a fan of some of the slang used today though I suspect adults felt the same way about it when I was a teenager. 

I really liked that Chance was the main character and not relegated to being somebody's sidekick. He had a lot of exploration ahead of him because not only was he a teenager searching for his identity but also figuring out whether he feels he's male or female. That's a lot to work out, especially during the teenage years which aren't easy to begin with!  

I often wondered about the friendship between Chance and his BFF Emily because it seemed to be a one-way street. He didn't always treat her like a best friend should. Sometimes he mentioned things she said that hurt him without her realizing it. I wish he had addressed that more thoroughly with her, but he never did. 

Chance had an exceptionally difficult time in high school going through emotional changes and though he made a lot of mistakes, I reminded myself he's a teenager and everyone makes mistakes. That's how you grow and learn.

I was rooting for him to just take the direct approach and ask if Jasper (Jazz) was interested in him. I can completely understand why he wouldn't do that with the risk of getting hurt. Seeing how sharp witted and clever Chance is, I couldn't see why he'd be turned down by Jazz unless Jazz wasn't gay. That's where the internet and love spell come into play.  

I took off a star from my rating because I think Chance's parents' lack of concern for him should have been addressed. It's pretty serious if your parents don't care about you, but there wasn't much of a resolution of this by the end of the book. This is what likely makes it a more realistic ending, but I wanted more explanation as to how he felt about it and how he would deal with it.

Overall, Love Spell was a fun story and also included important issues teens face, especially the complicated relationships Chance had with his parents, his friends, and his potential love interest. He's a character you won't forget anytime soon. I read this book a couple of years ago, but I still think of him and his story to this day. Highly recommended! 

Thanks for visiting Donnie Darko Girl!   

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The Girl Who Called the Stars by Heather Hildenbrand ~ Cover Reveal

~Jennifer~ | 9:30 AM | Please comment!

June 12, 2018

Check out this gorgeous cover reveal from Heather Hildenbrand! I'm so in love with it, I can't stop staring at it.

Title: The Girl Who Called The Stars
Author: Heather Hildenbrand
Release Date: 7/18/18


Be very afraid of the Shadows.
I know what I'm not. Human.
I can't remember my life before Earth, but I've grown up hearing the stories of a planet ravaged by war and a people in need of a leader who will bring them out of the darkness. I'm supposed to be their light.
My future terrifies me.
But I'm done waiting to have a real life. If I ever want a chance to live free of the Shadows, I'll need to fight for it because freedom is never free. No matter what galaxy you call home.

Preorder Link: Amazon

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Two Reviews! Slumber Duology ~ Slumber (#1) & Awaken (#2) by Christy Sloat #BookReview

~Jennifer~ | 9:21 PM | Please comment!

May 18, 2018

Title: Slumber
Series: Slumber Duology #1
Author: Christy Sloat
Published: March 10, 2015
Publisher: Anchor Bay 
Source: Purchased 

Purchase: Amazon | B&N

 My Rating:  


Not all princesses get their happily ever after... 

They tell me I killed my boyfriend Phillip in cold blood. I stabbed him twenty one times. I’m only seventeen years old, and I am serving life in Spindle Ridge Asylum for the Criminally Insane. 

I don’t remember killing him, so it’s really hard to believe I’m capable of murder. In fact I don’t remember anything before I came to Spindle Ridge, not even my boyfriend. 

I can only grasp onto my realistic dreams while the madness of the asylum threatens to pull me under. I dream I’m a beautiful princess and there is an evil faerie named Maleficent who is bent on my destruction. The dreams are the closest thing I have to memories of my life, except they aren’t real. 

I’m crazy. I’m not a princess. 

They’re the mad illusions of an irrational teenage girl, right? 
They’ve assigned me a new doctor, and she says I can trust her, and that she’ll help me see the truth of who I really am. 
When she arrived she brought a new patient, Sawyer, who is everything Spindle Ridge isn’t: exciting, mysterious and beautiful. He promises he’s here to rescue me. Trusting either of them frightens me. 

Could it be possible that my dreams are more than just the imaginings of a delusional girl? Could they be truth?

Not only do I love retellings/re-imaginings of stories, fairytale or otherwise, but I'm also drawn to books that take place in a psychiatric hospital as a reader who's interested in psychology. Slumber, the first book in a duology, hit both points for me with its setting and its retelling of Sleeping BeautyI bought both Slumber and its sequel, Awaken, so I could read them back to back. I can't tell you how glad I am to have done that because the ending of the first book left me wanting more. 

When we're introduced to Rory (Aurora), we find out she's living in the Spindle Ridge Asylum for the Criminally Insane for the murder of her boyfriend. The setting had me stoked with this interesting twist on the tale of Sleeping Beauty. Rory is living in abysmal conditions as many novels set in psychiatric hospitals are portrayed, and she isn't sure what's real and what's not. She doesn't remember murdering anyone but accepts it because this is what she has been told. 

The book earned only three stars from me because there was a bit of repetition with Rory during her time in the hospital. Also the story dragged in a few places though it was a quick read overall. I can understand why it would seem her thoughts were repetitive because she's trying to figure out what's going on, but it took me out of the story.

I don't want to say much more about the plot so I don't give anything away. I will say that there's a huge shift in the story about halfway through that was a bit confusing and rushed. There were plot points that would've worked out better if they had been slowed down and expanded upon. 

I do recommend giving Slumber a whirl! The story is exciting with a touch of romance and lots of action and adventure. It's my first read by Christy Sloat, and I'm looking forward to reading more of her work. 

* * Read on for my spoiler free

review of Book 2! * *

Title: Awaken
Series: Slumber Duology #2
Author: Christy Sloat
Published: February 19, 2018
Publisher: CHBB Publishing  
Source: Purchased 

Purchase: Amazon | B&N

My Rating:        


“Happily ever after is hers for the taking.”

Once upon a time I found myself locked away in Spindle Ridge Asylum, punished for a murder I didn’t commit. It was all part of Maleficent’s evil plan. I didn’t remember who I was then … now I do. 

My name is Aurora, and I am the rightful queen of this realm. Armed with my memories, I’m ready to take charge of my kingdom once more. Happily ever after evades me, yet I long to claim it with my true love, Sawyer, beside me. That fairy tale ending seems impossible with him locked in the thralls of a sleeping curse. 

As much as I’d love to sit by his bedside and eagerly await a cure, I must first travel into the terrifying Dark Woods to stop Raven from stripping me of all that is rightfully mine. I am not only a queen, but a warrior who will fight for her kingdom. 

Some may die. Blood will be shed. But when this ending comes, I will settle for nothing less than a blissful ever after.

Awaken is even better than Slumber and exceeded my expectations. I was on the edge of my seat anxiously waiting to see what was going to happen next. Picking up from where the first book left off, this sequel starts off strong and ends strong.  

Rory's character grows into a confident young woman with courage, strength and a taste for revenge against those who have harmed the people she loves. Not only is she concerned about saving her loved ones, she also has an entire kingdom on her shoulders as she takes on her rightful role as Queen. I had to remind myself she's only eighteen, yet she is more mature than many eighteen-year-olds. 

While she is fighting for the man she loves, he isn't her sole focus. She knows how important it is to be a reliable and fair leader to the people in her kingdom. They need her, and I love reading about her! With the fate of so many different characters up in the air, I wasn't sure who would survive and who wouldn't. Like I said earlier, I was on the edge of my seat.     

Awaken is a satisfying conclusion to Rory's story, and I love how everything wraps up. I look forward to reading more of Christy Sloat's work.    

Thanks for visiting Donnie Darko Girl!


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Living Out Loud by Staci Hart ~ Release Day Blast

~Jennifer~ | 4:19 PM | Please comment!

February 3, 2018

LIVING OUT LOUD, the next in Staci Hart's Austen Series, is LIVE! This modern love story is inspired by Jane Austen's Sense & Sensibility  This book will have you smiling and swooning! Hart takes us back to the world of Wasted Words and gives us a love story you will not soon forget!

Title: Living Out Loud 
Author: Staci Hart 
Publication Date: February 1, 2018 
Cover Photo: Perrywinkle Photography 
Cover Design: QuirkyBird Designs 


When Annie Daschle arrives in New York City, the only thing she can control is her list. 

Not her father’s death or the loss of her home. Not the hole in her heart or the defective valve that’s dictated so much of her life. But she can put pen to paper to make a list of all the ways she can live out loud, just like her dad would have wanted.

See the city from the top of the Empire State Building: Check. Eat hot dogs on the steps of The Met: Check. Stand in the middle of Times Square: Check. Get a job at Wasted Words: Check. 

Two things not on her list: Greg Brandon and Will Bailey. And just like that, she finds herself caught in the middle of something she can’t find her way out of, with no clear answers and no rules. 

List or no list, she realizes she can’t control anything at all, not even her heart. 

Not the decisions it makes, and not the moment it stops. 

*Standalone contemporary romance Inspired by Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility.*

Like what you see? Grab your own copy of this beautiful new release today on Amazon in eBook or paperback!

About the Author 

Staci has been a lot of things up to this point in her life -- a graphic designer, an entrepreneur, a seamstress, a clothing and handbag designer, a waitress. Can't forget that. She's also been a mom, with three little girls who are sure to grow up to break a number of hearts. She's been a wife, though she's certainly not the cleanest, or the best cook. She's also super, duper fun at a party, especially if she's been drinking whiskey. When she's not writing, she's reading, sleeping, gaming, or designing graphics.

Amazon | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Website | Newsletter 

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The Steamborn Trilogy by Eric R. Asher ~ #audiobook #bookreview

~Jennifer~ | 2:19 PM | | 2 Comments

January 19, 2018

Title: The Steamborn Trilogy
Series: Steamborn, Books 1-3  
Author: Eric R. Asher
Release Date: October 4, 2017
Narrated by: Saskia Maarleveld 
Length: 27 hrs and 27 mins

Source: Audiobook copy for review  

Purchase: Audible | Amazon | B&N 

My Rating: 

Steamborn (Book 1)

Jacob, a tinker's apprentice, has never backed down from an adventure, but when a swarm of Deadlands creatures shatters the peace of Ancora, he'll face trials the likes of which he has never imagined. Forced out of the Lowlands, Jacob and his friends seek shelter behind the towering walls of the Highlands, only to uncover a terrible darkness at the heart of their city.

Steamforged (Book 2)

There are old wounds in the forgotten places of the world, and some are soaked in blood.

Jacob and his allies flee into the Deadlands after the fall of Ancora. Charles, the enigmatic smith, hopes to find answers in the desert city of Bollwerk that could prevent a war.

Their enemies are many, and here Jacob will learn the cost of life in the Deadlands.

Steamsworn (Book 3)

The world dies in war only to be reborn. It is the way of things, and always will be.

Forged in the Deadlands crucible, and armed with the knowledge of their true enemy, Jacob, Alice, and their allies bring the fight back to Ancora. The wounds cut deep in their darkest hour, but in the end, vengeance will light their path.

NOTE: For my review, I'll first discuss the narration of the entire trilogy, then go into more detail with each novel. 

Narration for the Steamborn Trilogy

The narrator, Saskia Maarleveld, did an amazing job voicing all of the different characters. She has a lovely and pleasant voice to listen to, and her accent is fab! I was impressed with her ability to differentiate the characters so cleanly to where I never had to wonder who was speaking. I'm interested in hearing her also narrate other novels.    

Steamborn (Book 1)

In Steamborn, we're introduced to Jacob, a teenage boy and resident of the city of Ancora who often finds himself in trouble. He's brilliant with gadgets and inventions as an apprentice to his mentor, Charles. While Jacob does have both of his parents, Charles is still like a father figure to him, and I loved their interactions. He is impressed by Jacob's devotion to their inventions and encourages his thoughts and ideas. 

Jacob's friend, Alice, is straight-laced and a rule follower but extremely caring and loyal. I loved their close friendship and the way it blossomed over the course of the story. 

While Steamborn does start a bit slowly, it soon picks up its pace and has a lot going for it. There's giant bugs, steampunk gadgets that are easy to imagine and understand, the struggle between the rich and the poor, and a mystery Jacob discovers about the city he's lived in for his entire life. An excellent start to an excellent trilogy!

Steamforged (Book 2)

Steamforged gives us a look into the world outside of the city of Ancora and into the Deadlands and the city of Bollwerk. Jacob, Alice, Charles and Samuel (a spider knight) travel across the Deadlands to Bollwerk, and new characters are introduced. My favorite new character was Mary, who's not only a strong and independent woman but also an airship captain (go Mary!). I loved her!   

While Steamborn was more introductory, Steamforged brings much needed action and suspense to the trilogy. I looked forward to experiencing the places and people which were talked about in the first book.   

There's tension and I love delving into the differences between the poor and the rich because a lot of those parts of the story seem to parallel what's going on in the real world. I think there's a message in this story about the lengths the rich will go to in order to protect themselves no matter the heavy cost the poor ends up paying. Steamforged gave me a lot to think about with terrific characters and stellar writing. I loved it!  

Steamsworn (Book 3)

Man, Steamsworn hit me hard right in the feels! Asher upped the ante with for his characters with this last installment in the Steamborn trilogy. The book was action packed from beginning to end, and there were moments where I think my heart stopped from being kept in suspense. My emotions were all over the place, and I couldn't believe how much was happening. It wasn't overwhelming at all, so don't worry about that. 

Steamsworn means so much to me because I love the characters fiercely. I feel their feelings and know their thoughts. They've become like real people to me with their hopes and fears. 

This last installment in the trilogy was satisfying, and while I'll miss the characters and their passion to fight for what's right, I'm happy with the way it ended.   

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