Thursday, December 31, 2015

REVIEW: Full Measures by Rebecca Yarros

Three knocks can change everything…

"She knew. That’s why Mom hadn’t opened the door. She knew he was dead."

Twenty years as an army brat and Ember Howard knew, too. The soldiers at the door meant her dad was never coming home. What she didn’t know was how she would find the strength to singlehandedly care for her crumbling family when her mom falls apart. 

Then Josh Walker enters her life. Hockey star, her new next-door neighbor, and not to mention the most delicious hands that insist on saving her over and over again. He has a way of erasing the pain with a single look, a single touch. As much as she wants to turn off her feelings and endure the heartache on her own, she can’t deny their intense attraction.

Until Josh’s secret shatters their world. And Ember must decide if he’s worth the risk that comes with loving a man who could strip her bare.

Kindle Edition, 374 pages

Published February 10th 2014 by Entangled: Embrace
Source: Purchased
Purchase a copy: Goodreads | Amazon


Shel: I've been meaning to read Full Measures for a while and this weekend offered the perfect opportunity so I snatched; I'm so glad I did. Rebecca Yarros captured the details of living with family in the military in a way that was so authentic and precise that I just knew as a military spouse she'd lived or felt or wondered about some of the things she wrote about.  I think knowing her background definitely enhanced my reading experience and if you haven't read this series yet, maybe knowing that she writes from an experience many of us don't exist in will enhance your reading as well. Court: I thought her knowledge of the military enhanced the story, as well as her obvious understanding of loss. I don't have the former, but definitely the latter was experienced this year so it was nice to find another story that really helped improve the grieving process. I feel better by reading even a fictional outlook because it helps me think at things differently be it memories, or my perception of how other people are perceiving their grief...and how different everyone is with that. It is a tough road when you either want someone to snap out of it, or if one thinks someone isn't showing "enough" of their grief that you're mad at them for that too. Or just mad in general. So, having that in our young character helped me.

Shel: When I think about why I enjoyed this novel so much the first thing that comes to mind is my emotional response. I kept trying to imagine myself in Ember's shoes and her reactions felt so real. She covered a range of emotions from deep sadness to anger to guilt to happiness and her conflict at how she felt at various stages just rang true to me. Ember sometimes felt like she couldn't or shouldn't feel certain things because it wasn't the time or it seemed too soon to feel anything remotely good and she kept trying to feel or do what she thought she was supposed to and I think many of us do that in times of grief...instead of allowing ourselves to do or feel what the emotions, we put on the public face or are the strong one for a family member. When she finally gave in to what her heart and mind was telling her to feel, I felt relief for her. Court: Amen. Ember's journey is tough. She's definitely in the in between or what we know as New Adult phase of her life, because she's still very much close in age to her siblings but moving forward in a way that they aren't yet. So, seeing her try to help her mom, teen sister and kid brother was a good story to start with. Before I knew it half of the book was gone, and they'd gone through so much already. She was trying to find her way in college, but take care of her family too. 

Shel: As much as I liked all of her strength and authenticity, Ember drove me nuts sometimes. She kept denying her emotional response to Josh; she was so stubborn and insistent that she shouldn't be with him and it felt like as soon as they FINALLY started a relationship it stopped. GAHHHH. I had a feeling I knew what his 'secret' was and I was right. But you know what? The aftermath of those revealed secrets was much more painful and extended than I thought it would be and but before I knew it we were at the end and I was breathing easier ( and I'm happy to see the upcoming book in this series will return to Ember and Josh's story). Court: That was so difficult, too. Some things we could see coming a mile away...but the ending didn't feel bad for me. I enjoyed the story when sometimes the characters did things that I knew they were going to go off and do anyways. But, the genuineness and feel good times as they went on with life helped with that. Ember made things hard on herself, but I have to attribute that to her grief as well when she didn't do things that made sense.

Shel: Speaking of Josh--he was interesting. I loved how patient and he was willing to wait for her. I hated how he lied to her and I didn't really appreciate his poor reaction to one incident that involved Riley, especially when he insisted he was allll about her, but I suppose he couldn't be perfect, right? He needed some flaws, right? He had a few, but overall I liked him and I guess I understood why he felt like he had to withhold certain things. I feel like I don't know him well yet but I'm hopeful that their next book will give me more of his story. Court: I KNOW! I felt myself wishing that we had his point of view in several instances, or that "whoa this is too good to be true" right? He was a genuine guy who had some of his own secrets up his sleeve that I ALSO hope to know more about in the future, even in a small way. This is because some of his reputation seemed put on, because that isn't who he is now. So, sometimes that part of him was very hot and cold and didn't really fit the way we saw him be with Ember. True life for a 23 year old in college unattached, I suppose, but I would really like to see him be an adult and not so overshadowed by that if we get more of their story.

Shel: Ember's family was also and asset to this novel and their various subplots really seemed to add to the overall novel. Their actions and reactions to the grief they were feeling seemed so true and raw. Court: Favorite scene stealer for me was Ember's mom, June. Watch out for her. LOVE!

Shel: As I stated earlier, there are other books in this series and I'm definitely looking forward to reading them all. Court: Me too! Why? you ask...well, because it is so wonderful to venture into a new (to me) author that I haven't read before, and enjoy the experience....and more books are already out! So, my snail pace makes it so I don't have to wait for a story about Jagger. We're very excited about it, and would love to know if y'all hit this one up too.

Until next time; happy reading!


This was a freaking fantastic year for romance and it makes me super excited for what's to come in 2016. I'm absolutely certain that many on our list will be on many other blogs as the best of 2015, which says a lot for these novels and writers. We tried to really focus on the ones that made us excited to talk about and share with our readers. If any of these look good to you, click on the image and it'll send you to Amazon for more information.

If you're looking for suspense + romance, try these:

If you like a little laughter with your sexy times, try these:

These will make you swoon:

And these are seriously sexy:

I should probably note that not all of these were released in 2015 but we read them in 2015 so I wanted to put them here in case some of you haven't read them either.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

COVER REVEAL: The Lie by Karina Halle


Their love led to a lie.

Their truth led to the end.

Scottish enigma Brigs McGregor is crawling out from the ashes. After losing his wife and son in a car accident - and, subsequently, his job - he's finally moving forward with his life, securing a prestigious teaching position at the University of London and starting a new chapter in the city. Slowly, but surely, he's pushing past the guilt and putting his tragic past behind him.

Until he sees her.

Natasha Trudeau once loved a man so much she thought she'd die without him. But their love was wrong, doomed from the start, and when their world crashed around them, Natasha was nearly buried in the rubble. It took years of moving on to forget him, and now that she's in London, she's ready to start over again. Until she sees him. Because some loves are too dangerous to ever rekindle. And some loves are too powerful to ignore. Can you ever have a second chance at a love that ruined you? The Lie is a second-chance romance with a dark, forbidden twist.  

iBooks pre-order


Halle HeadshotWith her USA Today Bestselling The Artists Trilogy published by Grand Central Publishing, numerous foreign publication deals, and self-publishing success with her Experiment in Terror series, Vancouver-born Karina Halle is a true example of the term "Hybrid Author." Though her books showcase her love of all things dark, sexy and edgy, she's a closet romantic at heart and strives to give her characters a HEA...whenever possible.

Karina holds a screenwriting degree from Vancouver Film School and a Bachelor of Journalism from TRU. Her travel writing, music reviews/interviews and photography have appeared in publications such as Consequence of Sound, Mxdwn and GoNomad Travel Guides. She currently lives on an island on the coast of British Columbia where she’s preparing for the zombie apocalypse with her fiancĂ© and rescue pup. 


REVIEW + EXCERPT + GIVEAWAY: Built by Jay Crownover

BUILT - Tour Banner

 We are absolutely thrilled to bring you the Review/Excerpt Tour for BUILT by Jay Crownover! BUILT is a Contemporary Romance novel being published by HarperCollins, and it is the 1st full-length novel in The Saints of Denver Series, a spinoff of her New York Times bestselling Marked Men Series. This amazing book releases on January 5th!  

  Studio portrait of young bearded man --- Image by © pinkypills/Corbis

Amazon US ** iBooks ** Barnes & Noble ** Kobo

  BUILT - Tour Teaser 1     

From the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Marked Men books comes an electrifying new spin-off series,Saints of Denver, featuring all the characters fans have been dying to read about.

Sayer Cole and Zeb Fuller couldn’t be more different. She’s country club and fine-dining, he’s cell-block and sawdust. Sayer spends her days in litigation, while Zeb spends his working with his hands. She’s French silk, he’s all denim and flannel. Zeb’s wanted the stunning blonde since the moment he laid eyes on her. It doesn't matter how many smooth moves he makes, the reserved lawyer seems determinedly oblivious to his interest—either that or she doesn't return it. Sayer is certain the rough, hard, hot-as-hell Zeb could never want someone as closed off and restrained as she is, which is a shame because something tells her he might be the guy to finally melt her icy exterior. But just as things start to heat up, Zeb is blindsided by a life altering moment from his past. He needs Sayer’s professional help to right a wrong and to save more than himself. He can’t risk what’s at stake just because his attraction to Sayer feels all consuming. But as these opposites dig in for the fight of their lives, battling together to save a family, the steam created when fire and ice collide can no longer be ignored.  

BUILT - Tour Teaser 2  


Shel: You may know Jay Crownover from her Marked Men series or her Welcome to the Point series. In this new series, Saints of Denver, we get a blend of seeing the characters from Marked Men in the background plus getting to know brand new characters.  Court: Which is great, because we were sad to leave those other peeps behind. So, having a few (even though I haven't read Rowdy me) familiar faces was pleasing to me. 

Shel: As this is the first full length novel in the series, I'm very curious as to what the 'tone' of it will be. Is Built emblematic of the rest? If so, then you can expect the steaminess of the other two series + more character driven (less big action sequences or major angst) + very satisfactory and fleshed out endings. Court: I hope that is true, as I really was expecting the angsty beginnings that was all things Rule (that boy was a mess, wasn't he). Zeb was quite a surprise, as was his story and I was not disappointed by the way he approached his past one single bit. Sayer realllllly had some work cut out for her in that department, but once part of Jay's constant appeal and why we want to read her every book is that she gives us heroines who aren't the one in the relationship who has it all together and that to me is realistic and what I want to read about....a girl just like me just trying to figure it all out and have fun with her guy while doing it.

Shel: In Built equal attention was given to Sayer and Zeb and their internal workings. I got to know them, not so much from their interactions in public or with lots of other characters, but from their ruminations on what was going on in their lives and what they wanted to happen (or not) with their love interest. I'll start with Sayer and say that she was infuriating and impossible and when I wasn't trying to figure her out (I'm still not sure I have) and fuss at her for being so damn stubborn, I really did like her. Her heart was in the right place for everyone ...except herself. She was so insistent that she would be the ruination of others that she consistently iced herself out of anything that felt remotely good. I wanted to shake her and hug her all at the same time. Zeb was ...well...not perfect but pretty darn close. He did so many of the 'right' things. He took responsibility for his actions, he was trying to better himself and others, he didn't give up on Sayer, when many people probably would, and he continued to try to show her all of the good that life had to offer. I liked Zeb a lot--he seemed so warm and caring and like someone you'd want on your side. Court: He did the wrong things for the right reasons...(using a line from Dr. Doom there) and owned up to them without fuss. He kept right on doing it when life comes to try to knock him down again, and it opened up a new part of Zeb that was enjoyable, and a new aspect that I wasn't expecting. Sayer on the other hand starts out as quite an ice queen and it was hard to like her during that time when she was being soooo stubborn. 

Shel: Sayer and Zeb's story wouldn't be complete without Hyde. I thought Jay Crownover did a really great job of capturing a five year old's dialogue and thoughts. As a parent to a six year old, Hyde's character felt pretty accurate; I mention this because sometimes this isn't always the case but this novel nailed it. I enjoyed how Crownover made Hyde a major component of the story of Zeb + Sayer and all of the aspects that pertained to that storyline felt 'right'. I also liked how the secondary characters were included as well--Zeb and Sayer's families and friends fit into their narrative in a way that enhanced their story rather than distract from it. 

Court: Hyde...just in that name (as Jay always nails the names, so hard) was great. His story hopefully brings hope to the entire journey that Zeb, Sayer and Hyde are on, and I was honestly surprised how this one went. External factors on Zeb's part to the other side of the coin on Sayer's really brought the story together, and gave just enough push and pull forces to keep the plot moving, and the sexual tension almost killed me...but oh how sweet the will-they-or-won't-they turned out to be. This book is a solid start to a new series by one of our favorites, so I can't wait for y'all to check it out too. 

Shel: The next book in this series looks like there are going to be some explosive scenes and I honestly cannot wait to read it. Court: Indeed. I can't wait to find out what comes next! 

As though my intense and swirling thoughts had pulled Zeb into the vortex of self-pity I was struggling in, my phone vibrated in my hand with a message from him as I wandered aimlessly through the empty rooms.
              I shivered at the sight of his name and then silently scolded myself for having such a powerful reaction to only his name on the screen. His message was simple but for some reason it felt full of more meaning and emotion than the three words staring up at me indicated.
              Can you talk?
              I bit my lip and decided how to answer. I didn’t talk to my clients after office hours were done for the day and I was already having a really hard time keeping the professional and personal lines clear where he and this case were concerned. I sighed and tapped out:
              I can. Do you want me to call you?
              I had started this process as his friend first and it wasn’t fair to him that my heart was pulling itself apart because of his situation. He was probably nervous and scared about what was coming next week, and I was the only one who could put some of that at ease.
              There wasn’t a response for a long couple of minutes and I hated that all I could do was stare at my phone and pace back and forth while I waited to see what he was going to say. I was acting like a teenager and it was ridiculous. I snorted at myself and was headed into the kitchen to pour myself a glass of wine when the phone rang and made me jump. I wasn’t prepared for him to call me right that moment and had a bout of anxiety about answering the call before I told myself to man up and swiped my finger across the screen.
              “Hey. Everything all right?” I heard a car honk its horn wherever he was calling from, and he mumbled something that wasn’t directed at me before answering.
              “Fuck no.”

And don’t miss the previous novella in The Saints of Denver Series!

LEVELED - cover


Jay Crownover - author pic  About Jay Crownover:

Jay Crownover is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Marked Men and The Point series. Like her characters, she is a big fan of tattoos. She loves music and wishes she could be a rock star, but since she has no aptitude for singing or instrument playing, she'll settle for writing stories with interesting characters that make the reader feel something. She lives in Colorado with her three dogs.        

Website ** Blog ** Facebook ** Twitter

BUILT Goodreads ** Jay Crownover Goodreads

InkSlinger Blogger banner
© Must Read Books or Die. Made with love by The Dutch Lady Designs.