Review: Red at Night-Katie McGarry

5/5 Stars

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Goodreads/Amazon

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Somewhere right now, a woman’s compassion is improving the quality of life in her community—not only for herself but for those she cares about most.

With each act of kindness, each word of support, she is proving that heroines do exist. And at Harlequin we believe her story should be told!

We solicit nominations of women who have made extraordinary contributions to their communities. With your support, we hope to turn awareness into action, and mobilize others to become engaged and make a difference in their community.

Information detailing how readers can get involved in their own communities in projects related to the award recipients’ chosen causes will be available both in print and on our web site.

The Harlequin More Than Words program is responsible for the administration of Harlequin’s social responsibility initiatives dedicated to the well-being of women.

Mission and Objective:
The Harlequin More Than Words program aims to enhance the well-being of women.

Our goals are to:

  • Raise awareness about worthy causes that are of concern to women
  • Provide financial assistance to these important charities
  • Engage employees, authors and readers and the general public in worthy causes and provide opportunities for them to make a difference

-via More Than Words

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In 2003, Nikki and Tony Berti, co-founded the Goodie Two Shoes Giveaway, a one-day event to provide disadvantaged children with new shoes. They patterned their Giveaway after a similar but much simpler event they volunteered for annually during Tony’s playing days with the NFL’s San Diego Chargers. (1995-1998) Upon Tony’s retirement from the NFL in 2001, they brought the concept home to Las Vegas.

Their Goodie Two Shoes Giveaway garnered tremendous community support and experienced significant growth during the event’s first five years and, in 2007, the Goodie Two Shoes Giveaway officially grew into the Goodie Two Shoes Foundation, a 501c3 charitable organization. In 2008, GTSF began adding additional outreach events to its programming in order to serve 4,000 children annually. And, in 2010, GTSF launched its mobile shoe unit, a 48’ custom shoe-store-on-wheels, which takes GTSF’s year-round programming directly to children in need at their school or referring agency. With this new unit, GTSF has set its sights on serving 10,000 children per year.

What makes GTSF different? Our programming is based on the premise that we don’t just provide a child with a new pair of shoes. We measure their feet on-site to ensure proper fit. We pair them one-on-one with a community volunteer whom takes a special interest and walks them through the process. We make them the center of attention, and we empower them with choice; by giving them the opportunity to select any pair of shoes from our large inventory of high-quality athletic shoes, just like the ones their friends at school are wearing.

In the short-term, GTSF’s programming provides simple necessities in a fun and exciting atmosphere. But long after the recipients outgrow their Goodie Two Shoes of choice, we hope the children remember their positive interaction with a caring community volunteer and the feelings of empowerment that came with making an unrestrained, positive choice and draw on that experience when making decisions in the future.

GTSF serves children age pre-k to 21, referred by schools, social service agencies and other nonprofit organizations dedicated to assisting children in need.

-via Goodie Two Shoes Foundation

I’ve included the info about More than Words and the Goodie Two Shoes Foundation because until I read this book, I had no idea Harlequin did anything like this for charity and no clue that they had goals specifically geared towards helping women through empowerment and the gift of wonderful writers and their stories. I feel like the more we can spread the word about things like this, the better the world will become and awareness is a huge step in that process. More than Words features stories each year for FREE by talented writers and features a specific program or charity that many may not be aware of. It shows us how much of a difference people can make that we may sometimes look over or not notice. In Red at Night, this charity has such a profound, emotionally moving effect on the characters, both to those who directly recieve the shoes and those who are changed by involvement. More than Words is such a beautiful way to use fiction for the good of those in need and is truly inspirational learning about these organizations. The other books featured in this years group are You are Here by Liz Fichera and The Gift of a Good Start by Earl Sewell. Be sure to check out all of the More than Words books, just click on the hyperlinks above for more info.

That being said, I am fairly sure that Red at Night is my favorite Katie McGarry book and that’s really saying something considering just how much I adored her other books. For my reviews on the Pushing the Limits books here are the links:

Plot: Red at Night is about a boy and a girl slowly falling in love.

In Red at Night, Stella and Jonah are total opposites. She’s the girl with purple hair from the wrong part of town. He’s a high school senior who hangs with the cool crowd. Until a car accident leaves him haunted by guilt, and Jonah starts spending time at Stella’s favorite refuge…the local cemetery.

Stella knows she should keep her distance—after all, she spent her girlhood being bullied by Jonah’s friends. Once he’s sorted out his tangled emotions, Jonah won’t have time for her anymore. Too bad she’s already fallen for him.

-via Goodreads

PROS:

  • Stella is a quirky, fireball of a character much like Clementine from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Unafraid to speak her mind, blunt, and totally okay with herself, Stella accepts life as it is and finds beauty in simple things like a great mystery, good books, and daisies. She always has a fun story on hand and brightens the world with her light. People try to bring her down, for someone who has been tormented most of her life, left behind by her father and on the verge of poverty, Stella is incredibly kind and a breath of fresh air. Her honesty is refreshing, her openness will win your heart and make you think. Stella is one of the most powerful characters I’ve come across, she’s got so much heart and enough love to blanket even her oldest enemy with warmth. Stella is sometimes hurt by how her peers treat her and yet she is always able to rise above and get right with herself. She’s insanely strong and courageous. Her association with the Goodie Two Shoes Foundation will simultaneously break your heart and lighten it.
  • One of Katie McGarry’s many talents is crafting characters that struggle with themselves internally and fight to become better human beings, Jonah is another one of her masterpieces. Up until the life-changing moment of witnessing death and being slapped in the face by the horror of a life unlived, Jonah reevaluates everything. For years he’s been silent, witnessing injustices and torment of those less than fortunate by his best friend and never once has he spoken up. When Jonah finally finds his voice it’s a magical, uplifting moment. His passion and determination will leave you breathless with sheer happiness at how far he’s come.
  • The sad parts. Jonah’s tears. His mourning over the images that haunt him, his inability to function as the boy he used to be are enough to swoon over. Stella’s heartache and insecurity over Jonah’s feelings and her ability to get out of her situation are  so easy to relate to. Anyone who is at a transitional phase in their life, who’s looking towards the future and worries about succeeding will identify with Stella’s fear and heartache.
  • The daisy scene. ❤
  • The chemistry between Stella and Jonah is innocent, adorable and all sorts of cute. Their interactions are child-like and full of a wonderful playfullness. There’s some heat there but it’s not the smoldering, sexual tension but something more steady and real.

CONS:

  • The ending was abrupt and resolved too quickly.

If you like any of the following, you’ll enjoy this:

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Happy reading,

-BB

Review: Dirty Blood-Heather Hildenbrand

4/5 Stars

Dirty Blood (Dirty Blood, #1)-Heather Hildenbrand

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It took seeing it-up close and personal-for me to believe. And even now, there were two thoughts that were so clear, they felt branded into my mind: one, Werewolves do exist, and two, I was born to kill them.

***

This heat was delicious and dangerous all at once, and I pressed myself harder against him, not wanting it to end. And already feeling a pang of sadness that it would. 

Plot: After a particularly irritating date with her boyfriend George, Tara storms out of the bar frustrated and sad. She doesn’t want to lose her long friendship with George but she’s fed up with his cockiness and pushing her feelings aside for his dream football career. Tara wants out and told George just as much. Not wanting to beg George for a ride home and unable to find anyone else, Tara decides to take a back alley she typically uses as a shortcut to the bus stop. The darkness has never bothered Tara but that night the hairs on her body stand at attention, goosebumps invade her skin and she can sense something sinister lurking. Tara sees a girl, shaking violently, unsure what to do, she asks if the girl needs help and is greeted by a menacing, hate-filled glare. Before Tara knows what’s happening the girl in front of her shifts into a wolf. Terrified and startled, Tara can’t believe her eyes but she definitely reacts when the wolf pounces. Tara believes she’s going to die when a strange feeling overwhelms her and her body is reacting to the attack with knowledge that she never knew she had. With a sickening crack, the wolf thuds to the ground and changes back into the girl. When another stranger speaks from the alley, Tara is on guard but is momentarily stunned by the warm eyes that meet her gaze. Tara feels an overwhelming urge to reach out and touch this guy in front of her. Even more puzzled, Tara crashes back into reality and starts to hyperventilate. The next thing she knows, she’s waking up in her bed the next day. Tara is convinced it was all a dream until the gorgeous guy from the alley turns up in her bedroom. Thrust into a world she never guessed existed, Tara is bombarded with lies, danger, and secrets that turn her world on its head. Tara learns the politics of the werewolf/Hunter dynamic, the slurs of mixed bloods, and the consequences of an action long ago that will haunt her family ever after.

I killed a girl last night. I did it with my bare hands and an old piece of pipe I found lying next to the dumpster. But that’s not the part that got me. The part that scared me, the part I can’t seem to wrap my head around and still has me reeling, was that when she charged me, her body shifted – and then she was a wolf. All snapping teeth and extended claws. But by the time I stood over her lifeless body, she was a girl again. That’s about the time I went into shock… And that was the moment he showed up.

Now, all I can do is accept the truths that are staring me in the face. One, Werewolves do exist. And Two, I was born to kill them.

-via Goodreads

PROS:

  • Dirty Blood is an action-packed adventure filled with deceit, violence, gore, and wonderful battle scenes. The descriptions of the fighting, the slashing, the suspense is enough to hook you from the get go.
  • The world of the Hunters and the Werewolves is fueled by politics, prejudice, and murder. The sheer ingrained hatred between the two groups, the horror at hybrids or mixed bloods, and the vile plots on the rebels werewolves are ingenious, multi-layered, and meticulously plotted.
  • Tara is a crafty, dirty fighter. She has a brutal, raw talent that comes from fierce determination and a willingness to fight to the death to protect those she cares about. While Tara is sometimes stubborn to a fault, hot-headed, and too confident on occasion, as her power grows, she becomes a powerful, compelling protagonist. Tara leaps before she looks, jumps headfirst into a fight and takes many punches but never gives up. Because she has not grown up in the Hunter/Werewolf world she is able to see things in an unbiased, clearer way that the characters who have been raised on prejudice, this is refreshing and a great parallel to the plot.
  • Fee, Jack, Cord, and the rest of the crew were each vibrant, unique personalities that really represented the colorful variety of people within the Cause. Fee is that calming, warm mother figure that can bake you brownies and take down a monstrous wolf singlehandedly, she’s kind of badass. Jack is that bear-like father-figure, burly and strong, always calculated and brave. For some reason I picture him like the Brawny man 🙂 Cord is that classic, snotty, catty female that you’re not sure about. She comes off as cold and heartless but flashes of her jaded personality suggest that there just might be something great hidden beneath the hard exterior.
  • Wes is frustrating in that glorious, teasing way. He’s flirty, blunt, sarcastic, and loves to push Tara’s buttons much to her chagrin. But his past is a twisted one, full of heartache and overcoming those who would kill him or kick him when he’s down. Labeled as a dirty blood early on Wes must live with his lineage and become a better person because of it. Wes is a leader, wicked fast and deadly in battle, he plans, coordinates strike teams, and uses his heritage for the greater good of the Cause. When he’s not fighting his feelings, he’s sweet, full of heat and smoldering looks.
  • The chemistry between Wes and Tara is a slow burning fire, magnetic but it’s one that builds into a scorching blaze. No matter how they try to resist their connection, it’s there tempting and taunting.

CONS:

  • There were a few typos and some grammatical issues.
  • The final battle scene was a little random. The characters just disappearing from sight in a split second was a bit unbelievable, where did they go?

If you like any of the following, you’ll enjoy this:

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Pleasant reading,

-BB