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Sunday, March 12, 2017

Review ~ Elemental Secrets by Elle Middaugh



Elemental Secrets 
Elle Middaugh 
(The Essential Elements, #1) 
Publication date: February 27th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult

Valerie Moore was a beautiful, headstrong girl with below-average social skills and above-average anxiety (including a flair for over-analyzing).

With her mother long deceased, and her father recently deployed, she ends up being sent to live with her eccentric aunt in a tiny town nestled in the mountains of Pennsylvania. But, being a Navy brat had made her into a bit of a loner, and making friends certainly wasn’t her strongest suit. As if the life of a typical teen wasn’t hard enough.

But Valerie soon discovers she’s not a typical teenager. Not by a long shot.

SECRETS are revealed…

…About her family, about her newfound friends and relationships, and about her whole world… Things that have been kept from her for her entire life…

But the biggest secret of all is revealed when Valerie discovers that she has Elemental powers, and a chain of inexplicable and irrevocable events unleashes throughout the little town…


BUY NOW ON

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This ebook was sent to me free in exchange for an honest review... 

I'm giving Elemental Secrets a solid four stars. It was a great start to what I hope will be a really good series... but there were some things I didn't like. Firstly, what I enjoyed...

I really liked the world building in this book, something that has been sadly missing in the last few fantasy books I've read.  I liked the deep history that is hinted at in this book, though I hope the next few books build on that and give more details about elementals and their history. I also liked the magic and the imagery. Middaugh did a fantastic job setting each scene and drawing me in... as if I was watching a movie. While I normally hate when I can predict how certain mysteries unfold and how they end, Middaugh kept me wondering just enough that while I did predict many things correctly, I was in no way bored... it was still very interesting and immersive. 

Ok... now what I didn't enjoy... I wasn't crazy about many of these characters, but I hope they improve over the series. Valerie, though she comes off as very independent and a marcher of her own drum in the beginning, quickly becomes a little too vapid, self-absorbed, and attention seeking in my opinion. But there are other times that she seems quite selfless, so I dunno... it was like she absorbed the personalities of those around her. When she was around Holden and his friends, she was very much the typical preppy, shallow teen. But in her scenes with Cade and her aunt, she was more grounded, more like the person I thought she was at the beginning. I didn't quite like that pendulum... it was a little distracting. Unless of course she literally is absorbing the personalities of those around her... like maybe somehow she absorbs Holden's careless air, Cade's grounded Earth, and Chase's passionate fire... in which case, that would be really cool... but that is never mentioned here. It is kinda the feeling I was getting though... I just found it weird that she has this strong attraction to, so far, an elemental of three elements.... and her personality changes in subtle ways depending on who she's with, reflecting the difference in her attraction to them (Holden lifts her and makes her feel like she's flying - hence her carelessness when she's with him, Cade makes her feel grounded and true, and Chase seems to set her on fire). I thought that maybe there was something there. It just seems like too much of a coincidence. Is she going to be attracted to a water elemental too? To complete the circle? 

I also hated that I didn't like Cade past the first couple chapters. He had such great potential but quickly became a jerk. And I really would have liked to have more Chase... but I'm fairly certain we'll see more of him in the next given what happened in this. 

Overall, four stars. As I said, it was a solid start and I hope the next couple books either stay at this level or get even better!

~*~



Elle Middaugh is a newly published author, born in the sticks outside of Clearfield, Pennsylvania. After moving around the east coast a number of times, she now lives in her hometown with her husband and three children.

Reading has been a favorite past time since Elementary School and choose-your-own-adventure books. Writing has been her dream since Middle School when she first began penning her own material. Being published is the most awesome achievement in her writing career so far, but she hopes for more exciting landmarks and stepping stones in the future!

She’s a proud Navy wife; a frazzle-brained mother; a homebody who dislikes cleaning; a fan of tennis, and fitness in general; a lover of hot tea, mountain dew, and all things fiction; and she’s a bigger My Little Pony fan than her children.



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Thursday, March 2, 2017

REVIEW ~ The Theory of Deviance by Rebecca Grace Allen


The Theory of Deviance by Rebecca Grace Allen
Series: The Portland Rebels #3
Published by Samhain Publishing on August 2, 2016
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Erotica, LGBTQ, Ménage, New Adult

Deviance is unacceptable. It’s taboo. And it’s the one thing he’s always wanted.

Painful shyness isn’t the only reason Mikey Pelletier is a twenty-five-year-old virgin. Between working for his parents and volunteering at his church, he neither has the time nor the inclination to admit his bisexuality to the world—or to himself.

A visit from Krissy Porter will hopefully fix everything. After three months of chatting with her, Mikey’s got one carefully planned week to win her heart and lose his V-card. He’s hoping he can pull it off, even with her roommate along for the ride.

Krissy has been drawn to Mikey for a while. He’s so easygoing, she thinks he could be the calm in her storm. But there’s an extra complication when she comes to visit: her friend-with-benefits, “hetero-flexible” roommate, Rafe.

During a week of revelations, intimacy, and kink, Krissy and Rafe become the angel and devil on Mikey’s shoulders, tempting him in different directions. And all three of them discover that a week of pure deviance can lead to the most uncontrollable emotion of all: love.

Warning: This book contains innocent board game-playing that takes a sexy turn, use of recreational substances, back-door action, and some smokin’ hot threesomes. Plus, scenes of inner-demon slaying. Fans and tissues advised.

Goodreads: 

Google Play: http://bit.ly/1LVgIvI

THERE'S A PLAYLIST!! And it's AMAZING! Go Listen! - 


Received free e-copy in exchange for an honest review. 
Actual rating - 4.5

I REALLY enjoyed this book, I can't say it's my favorite of the series - though I like the themes in this one perhaps a little more - because the other two books had more romance in them, but I still found this thoroughly enjoyable... and once again, I love that the story, like the first two, is built around a central scientific theme, a sociological theme to be exact... the Theory of Deviance, the act of nonconformity... being an individual, being true to one's self and the rejection of the uniform, traditional ideals of society. I think it's really cool and interesting how Allen weaves these scientific themes and methodologies into this series. It's really very fascinating and I come away from it with a bit more knowledge and an interest in learning more about them and how they relate so much to their story and it's characters, which is awesome!

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While I did find it somewhat lacking in the romance department, the slow build, there were many, MANY aspects that I really enjoyed. 

For one, I like that this was bisexual menage rather than a love triangle where I always feel like someone gets left out... I love this kind of menage because the love goes in all directions. I loved the diversity in the LGBT characters... Mikey and Rafe were at different points in their journey of self-acceptance, and though they had similar roots (the struggle and questioning of religion, the nonsupportive family), one far more extreme than the other, I like that they took different branching paths. I really like that as a bisexual woman, it made ME question and explore things I have gone through. I would like to see Allen write more LGBT and/or menage romance to see where she can take it, what new realities she can explore. 

I loved the religious themes and struggles. While Rafe could not hold onto his faith AND find self-acceptance and love - as I couldn't - and that he had to let go of what was basically poison to him personally, Mikey fought to hold on to his faith, fought to find a way to balance them. And I like that it SEEMS that both characters are accepting of the other's choices... Mikey doesn't try to force Rafe into rediscovering his faith, and Rafe doesn't badger Mikey about his beyond that initial shock and struggle. 

I liked that this book delved into mental health and what it's like living with Bipolar disorder, the way it takes over the mind and sometimes no amount of wishful thinking can stop an episode... it takes lots of support and strength to get a handle on. While I have mental health issues, I don't personally struggle with a bipolar disorder... but I have family members who do and I found Krissy's struggle to be quite similar to the experiences my family has talked about, the struggle you face when your own mind is your worst enemy. Honestly, it's quite similar to my own struggle with depression and anxiety. So I quite liked that Allen wasn't afraid to delve into this subject... and she did it without sort of romanticizing mental illness, which I think some people have a tendency to do. 

Finally, I like that there was a light amount of angst. Though I do find myself in the mood for angst at times, that's not what I wanted out of this book, so I'm glad that it was kept at a minimum... especially when each character was dealing with their own internal angst and struggles... the last thing it needed was a whole lot of relationship angst tacked on. 

~*~

So, yeah, while I do wish there had been a bit more slow-burn romance, that Allen would have really delved into these characters getting to know one another, there were so many redeeming themes that I just loved! Honestly, this book could have been twice it's size and I would have still loved reading it! :)


Rebecca Grace Allen writes kinky new adult and hot contemporary BDSM romance. She holds a
Bachelor of Arts in English with a double concentration in Creative Writing and Literary Comparison, as well as a Master of Science in Elementary Education, both of which seemed like good ideas at the time. After stumbling through careers in entertainment, publishing, law and teaching, she's returned to her first love: writing. A self-admitted caffeine addict and gym rat, she currently lives in upstate New York with her husband, two parakeets, and a cat with a very unusual foot fetish.



More from the Portland Rebels Series        

The Duality Principle 
The Portland Rebels Book 1
Blurb:
Sometimes A + B = O. Yes. Oh, yes. Just like that.

Gabriella Evans’s life exists in terms of logic and definitions. She’s holed up in Portland, Maine, for the summer to work on her PhD thesis, but something is screwing up her concentration: the rumble of a motorcycle every time the embodiment of her rough-and-tumble fantasies rides down her street.

When her best friend talks her into a blind date, she finds herself out with the opposite of her fantasy. He’s polite and well-mannered, yet something behind his crisply tailored shirt doesn’t add up—a rebellious gleam in his eye that piques her curiosity.

Orphaned at fifteen, Connor Starks has finally put the years of failing grades, breaking laws and breaking hearts behind him. The only holdover? His penchant for getting down and dirty in public places. But Gabriella makes him want to prove he’s become a better man.

Nothing intrigues Gabriella more than a problem she can’t solve. But the more Connor tries to bury his past, the more determined she is to uncover it. And what she finds makes all her trusty logic begin to fail her…

Warning: This book contains a summer romance, dirty talk, dockside kissing, motorcycles and tattoos. Features a rebellious nerdy girl with an appetite for outdoor sex and light spanking, and a bad boy who’s turned good…or at least he’s trying.

Goodreads: 

Buy Links: 
Amazon Kindle: http://amzn.to/1LVhZmH
Google Play: http://bit.ly/1VQAvyG

The Hierarchy of Needs
Portland Rebels Book 2

Blurb:

Jamie Matthews is stuck in a rut. After hitting a wall with her dream career, she’s back in her hometown, living a life as monotonous as swimming laps in the neighborhood pool.

Being surrounded by her perfect brothers is a painful reminder of her failure to launch. The last bonfire of the summer is an ideal way to let off steam, especially when she runs into Dean Trescott, the playboy friend she had one hot-as-hell night with back in high school.

Since the day Dean met Jamie, he’s loved her beauty, talent, and smile that lit up the whole damn block. But dating isn’t an option. She has a bright future ahead of her, and he refuses to chain her to his—helping run the family business that’s barely staying afloat.

A “what-happens-in-Vegas” weekend was supposed to get their craving for each other out of their systems. But neither counted on the past repeating itself, drawing them together in even hotter and dirtier ways and dangling the possibility they might both be able to get exactly what they need…

Warning: A friends-to-lovers twice over story that contains some hot ’n’ heavy kissing in the waves, hair pulling, and a man who knows how to use his hands. It may also feature a few practical jokes—only the fun kind, of course.

Goodreads:

Buy Links:
Amazon Kindle: http://amzn.to/1qciHlq
Google Play: http://bit.ly/25t8RvY