Half Truths by Claire Contreras

4.5 STARS

Release Date: October 21, 2019

SYNOPSIS: You’ve heard of these groups – the secretive ones that only the crème de la crème are invited into, the ones outsiders speculate about for centuries – I’m the second in my family invited to attend, but to them, I’m fresh meat. New blood. New money, too. They think they’ll elbow past me, that I’m here for their amusement, for them to walk all over, they’ll find out soon enough that I’m not. I may look like one of them, with my designer bags and clothes straight from the Parisian runways, but I’m not. I’m here for answers, to take revenge for blood spilled on their centuries-old Persian rugs.

I transferred here in search for answers about what happened to my older brother, who hightailed out of here, and my friend who seemingly disappeared into thin air. I certainly wasn’t here for the attention of the star hockey player, regardless of how much he willed my eyes his way. I wasn’t here for his scrutiny or his judgment or to read into his mysterious aura. I was here for the society, because only they held the answers I needed. That was, until I found out that in order to get those answers, I needed to to go through him. He’s saying if I want in, I have to play by their rules, follow their lead. It’s a game I’m willing to play. I may be the second person I know of to be invited into their society, but I’ll be the first to make it out intact.

REVIEW: Wow. I don’t even know how to start because I am a jumble of feelings. I still don’t even know how I feel and I finished it 10 days ago. This book pulled me right in and I could not have put it down even if I wanted to. Seriously, I had no idea how much I would enjoy this book, and it really wasn’t like anything I’ve read in a long time.

Claire Contreras spun a mysterious story that had me guessing at every turn, and I am damn impressed. I’m also kicking myself for waiting so long to pick this one up. I enjoyed each and every twisted turn. This is romantic suspense at its best and I lived for Mae and Fitz’s interactions throughout the story. It’s really interesting that I felt there was a lot of depth to this story, and yet I feel like I only got the smallest taste of this fascinating world Contreras had built. I sincerely cannot recommend this book enough and CANNOT wait for book two: Twisted Circles!

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Justified by Jay Crownover

5 STARS!

Release Date: June 25, 2019

Publisher: Forever (Grand Central Publishing)

SYNOPSIS

The New York Times bestselling author of the Marked Men series delivers a romance about a rugged Texas sheriff who must protect the woman who was once his sworn enemy…

Case Lawton comes from a family of criminals. So as the sheriff of Loveless, Texas, he’s determined to do everything by the book–until he’s called to Aspen Barlow’s office after a so-called break-in. The last thing he wants to do is help the woman who cost him custody of his son. But Aspen isn’t the heartless lawyer Case remembers, and he starts to question his long-held grudge…

Aspen is scared for her life, and Case is her last hope for protection. But to get him on her side, she’ll have to reveal the painful truth from all those years ago. Now, as they work together to track down a dangerous criminal, Case and Aspen learn to trust each other. And as the threats escalate, it becomes clear there’s a thin line between love and hate… because there’s nothing Case wouldn’t do to keep her safe.

REVIEW

While I figured I would like this book, I was pleasantly surprised at just was a great romantic suspense this really was. It also made me mad that I hadn’t read the prequel novella, Unbroken–which is now on my TBR! This story really showcased the why behind the character’s actions that often go unseen. As human beings, I believe that many of us assume the reasoning behind others’ actions, and often time incorrectly. Justified showed the real and lasting impact of problematic assumptions, which I deeply appreciated.

I also found all of the characters to be very enjoyable. Aspen is just so sweet and strong. I just felt that when she did stand up for what she wanted, she came across as not only powerful, but so caring. She was dealt a crap hand, and yet she perseveres. Case is a stubborn man with a heart of gold. He is so blinded by his own hardships he fails to see the bigger picture. You may think that would make him less endearing, but you’d be wrong! He is fighting his demons, caring for his town, and finding the truth–which makes for a great growth arc. Not to mention his relationship with his son Hayes pulls at all the heart strings. I loved Hayes so much, and I hope we eventually get his story (possibly with a girl that doesn’t really fit in in Loveless, Texas). Lastly, let’s not forget that Case has some awesome siblings! His brother Crew’s story is the novella I mentioned earlier, and I’m really hoping we get Kody’s story in the next book. I’m assuming there will be lots of Hill (the hot lawman) and Shot (the hot motorcycle gang leader), which should make for one hell of a story!

Thank you so much to Forever Publishing for the eARC in exchange for an honest review!

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Girl at the Grave by Teri Bailey Black

4 STARS!

The general plot of this book really intrigued me, as I love a good murder mystery. Valentine, the main character, lives her life in the shadow of her mother’s crime of murder over a decade ago. When new murders begin, she is of course the prime suspect. Oh, and let’s not forget the love triangle, which is making her life even more difficult! The historical setting, in the late 1800s, really interested me, because it played a part in how the story progressed and its characters reacted. I was also thoroughly impressed by the fact that I had no idea who the killer was! Not to mention the feminist themes that were thrown in. I really did enjoy this book. The only reason I wouldn’t give it five stars, is because of the readability. I felt like the book was going to wrap up, and then some other big event would happen. It seemed like some of the events could have been cut out, and the book would have been just as good. It was like there was just too much going on in the later part of the book, and I started to wonder if it would ever end. Overall, I enjoyed the story, and the happy ending was a pleasure.

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Counselor Considerations contain SPOILERS.

Do not read further if you don’t want to PLOT SPOILERS!

School Counselor Considerations:

Social/Emotional: Family: Mother put to death for murder, father travels for work, parents die Social: Judged for mother’s crime, strong friendships with males that are interested in more than friendship

College/Career: Desire to go to college, desire to work with change agents after high school, career planning

Academic: Valedictorian, Importance of high school and college, desire to be at school

 

Stephanie Garber – Legendary Launch Party

THIS LAUNCH PARTY WAS AMAZING!!

First of all, I loved Legendary, so I was already beyond excited for this event. And then when I got to the event (two hours early), they were setting up and my excitement just flew to the next level.

The setup:

 

Then Stephanie started handing out goodies and announced the games had begun, and I was just in heaven. Not to mention that the Starbucks inside the Roseville Barnes and Noble made a Legendary inspired drink! And this was all before Stephanie even started talking about her amazing book.

The Starbucks Drink:

The Discussion Starts:

 

Stephanie was in conversation with Kristin Dwyer (an aspiring writer and Adrienne Young’s critique partner), and she did a wonderful job. She asked great questions, made a few fun jokes, and wore black for our new book boyfriend Dante.

 

They talked about the evolution of Legendary, which was scrapped multiple times, and had multiple endings. Stephanie also spoke about how her writing is really influenced by music, and that her Tella inspiration started with Taylor Swift songs, but changed to Bishop Briggs songs, which makes since after you read Legendary! Someone asked her what she would do if she could go into the world of Caraval, and she said she would find Legend. Kristin said she would find Dante. Let’s talk about that after you read the book!

While Stephanie couldn’t give details, Caraval is being optioned to become a movie! Also, there will be a third book in the series, Finale!  Which I am beyond thankful for, because the ending of Legendary almost ruined me. I need resolution NOW!

Also, Stephanie is the SWEETEST ever, and it was such a pleasure to meet her. I definitely found a new auto-buy author!

What goodies were handed out:

Red Caraval Bag

Caraval Map Coloring Poster with Colored Pencils

Legendary Chocolates and Bookmark

The Games & Prizes:

Tell the woman in the top hat that Legend sent you (it was Stephanie’s mom, how sweet is that?) and receive a sticker that is good for one mask.

Find one of the Golden Crowns hidden throughout the Barnes and Noble Bookstore, and pick a mystery foreign edition book!

YES, I did get both, and I’m not convinced I could win Caraval.