REVIEW – Black Box by Cassia Leo

Black Box

Title – Black Box
Author – Cassia Leo
Publication Date – March 10, 2014

Black Box

Synopsis

Mikki and Crush have crossed paths twice before, but they’ve never met. Their first encounter changed Mikki’s life forever, but their second meeting left them both scarred from a violent attack.

Three years after the attack, Mikki and Crush both book a flight to Los Angeles to escape the memories of the past and expectations of their families. Crush plans to record a song he wrote for a girl he doesn’t even know: Black Box. He’s never felt his life had any purpose, until he meets Mikki in Terminal B.

When Mikki and Crush cross paths for the third time in Terminal B, neither has any idea who the other person is; until they slowly piece together their history and realize fate has more in store for them than just another love story.

Review

Black Box was one of the most emotionally taxing, gut-wrenching stories I have ever read. As heavy as the material was, the book was beautifully written and incredibly gripping. It left me questioning fate and luck and how much control we have. Furthermore, it had such a compelling connection with music – which is something I totally relate to. Black Box ultimately touched me in ways that I didn’t think a book could!

“Fate is for fairy tales. It’s a romantic notion. Luck is what happens when you’re in the right place at the right time…with the right person.”

Black Box is the journey of Crush and Mikki – and boy is it a rocky one. These two have been inexplicably intertwined even before they knew it. They’ve helped save each other from numerous pit-bottom times in their lives. Black Box allows them to reaffirm a bond and leads them on a continuation of their paths – but now they walk it together. There were times where it was a story within a story – but it just worked so well for the overall tone of the book. Crush and Mikki each learn to enjoy and appreciate life again, but only with the help of each other. It was a heartbreaking, poignant tale that tugged on every single heart string I have.

“Fate can save you and it can kill you. Either way, fate binds us through an invisible web of circumstances. Change one undesirable fate and another desirable fate is cancelled out.”

I also loved the incorporation of music because it helped to carry a tone for each chapter. I’m a person who lives through music so having that extra component made the book that much more special for me. Learning the story of the Black Box and then seeing how it was relevant to their own story was one of my favorite parts. Something about this book just resonated deep within my bones and I have a feeling it will be a while before I am able to let it go. I highly recommend this book, but be warned that there are some pretty big triggers present. If you can get past that though, it’s a powerful read with a strong message – one of hope and faith and luck. It’s a journey of perseverance and love – and a lesson that sometimes, we just need a friend.

Rating
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RELEASE DAY BLITZ – Forever Ours by Cassia Leo

forever-ours

Title – Forever Ours
Author – Cassia Leo
Publication Date – May 25, 2014
Series – Shattered Hearts, #1

forever-ours

Synopsis

Sometimes, it takes more than love to mend a shattered heart.

After eight years of being tossed around from one home to another, never forming any meaningful friendships o bonds with her foster families, Claire’s caseworker gives her an ultimatum: Behave or your next home will be a halfway house.

When fifteen-year-old Claire arrives at the home of Jackie Knight and meets Jackie’s fifteen-year-old son, tattooed guitarist Chris, she fears she’ll be seeing the inside of that halfway house soon. But Chris isn’t like any other guy Claire has ever encountered and he soon gains her trust through his music and unwavering patience.

Claire has finally found her forever home and she and Chris soon find themselves falling in love.

But Chris’s dreams of musical stardom and Claire’s need for a stable home soon put their love in jeopardy. Chris struggles deeply with his plans for the future, entirely reluctant to leave Claire behind; until Claire does something that may break their love — and the only home she’s comes to know — forever.

Review

I was one of the readers who discovered the Shattered Hearts series before the idea of a prequel existed so when Cassia announced she would be giving us one, I was incredibly thrilled. These are characters that I would be happy never having to say goodbye to. To be honest, I was always on the fence of which “team” I was on and who I wanted Claire to end up with. I loved both guys pretty equally and for different reasons, therefore wanting her to clone herself and end up with both of them. Alas, that didn’t happen (insert sad face). While I was satisfied with how the trilogy ended, I have to say that with this addition to the series, I was even happier.

“I want to occupy the space inside you until you don’t know the difference between my heartbeat and yours. I want to be your everything.”

Forever Ours is a short prequel novel that presents us with how Claire and Chris met, as well as the development of their relationship. It chronicles from shortly before she was placed in the Knight household, up to the beginning of the Relentless book. While I think it provided something different for me as an existing reader to the series, I believe that both new and old readers alike will fall in love with these characters and their love story.

“‘Forever yours.’ He rests his hand over my heart. ‘Forever mine.’ I place my hand on his chest. ‘Forever Ours.'”

I really enjoyed getting to see the ins and outs of Chris & Claire’s established relationship when they were younger. Being able to see how they fell in love and all the little things that made them special to each other provided so much insight into Claire’s heart. The time span of the book does jump quite a bit due to the several year span of their relationship together being covered. However, I never felt like I was missing any key points or moments. If anything, I felt like there were previous holes being filled. The characters are written remarkably well and it’s such a beautiful story that they have. I hope that new readers will read this book with an urgency to continue on, and I hope that existing readers will find what Claire loves so much about Chris, and vice versa. I absolutely can’t wait to see how Cassia finishes this series!

Rating
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Excerpt

Chapter Eleven
Chris
Forever Addicted
I tumble out of bed and drag myself out of my bedroom and into the hallway. When I push open the bathroom door, my eyes widen at what I’ve stumbled upon. Claire is standing next to the toilet, holding her new cell phone over the toilet bowl. Her lips are pressed together in a hard line across her delicate face.
“What the fuck?” is the first thing that slips out of my mouth.
“I don’t want this thing anymore.”
“Please don’t drop it in the toilet.”
“What is the point of having a cell phone if you never answer it?”
Oh, shit. She’s had this phone two months and it’s turned her into a crazy person. I don’t dare say this out loud, but I’m beginning to wish I’d gotten her something else for her birthday.
If I don’t call her back within a few minutes, she accuses me of playing games. If she doesn’t call me back right away, it’s because she was busy. I don’t think she even realizes how insane this sounds.
“What do you want me to do? Just tell me what you want and I’ll do it.” I inch closer to her and she smiles when she realizes she has my attention. “You want me to promise I’ll never wait more than five minutes to call you back? Would that make you happy?”
She loses the smile and purses her lips. “This phone has turned me into an addict. I look at it every two minutes to check for missed calls and texts from you. It’s sick!”
I reach for her wrist and slowly move my hand down until the phone is in my hand. I place it gently on the bathroom counter, then I look her in the eyes.
“Babe, you’re not addicted to your phone. You’re addicted to me.”
“Shut up!” she smacks my chest and I try not to laugh too loud.
I wrap my arms around her waist and pull her against me. She’s breathing hard as my lips hover over hers. “Don’t you have to get ready for school?”
“It’s a late day. I don’t have to be at school for two and a half hours.”
I smile. It actually makes me happy that I can’t remember what day is a late day anymore since I quit school. The only regret I have about quitting school is that Claire is alone now. With Jake and Rachel graduated, and Tristan hanging out with his new girlfriend, Ashley, Claire says she spends most of her time outside of class reading.
“Good, ‘cause I have plans for you…. I gonna text you for two hours straight.”
“You’re such a jerk!”
She tries to push me away and I lean in to kiss her. At first she closes her mouth, but she laughs when I plant a loud kiss on her cheek. And I seize the opportunity to kiss her hard.
Seconds later, we’re lying on my bed, the sheets bunched up beneath her and my hand easing down her waist to her hip. She grabs my hand to stop me and I smile as I move my hand up. I trail my lips over her smooth jaw and plant a soft kiss on her neck. I hear a sniffing noise and I quickly pull my head back, afraid she’s crying.
“Oh, my God. You smell so good,” she says, leaning forward so she can sniff my shoulder.
“Really?”
She grabs fistfuls of my T-shirt and brings them to her nose as she inhales. “Yes! Is that some kind of cologne or something?”
“No, it’s laundry soap and you use the same one.”
“No, it has to be something else.”
I reach up and lightly drag my fingertip across her jawline. “Yeah, it’s laundry soap and my pheromones, which you obviously can’t get enough of. Addict.”
“Shut up.”
“What? There’s nothing wrong with that. I can’t get enough of your scent either.” I bury my face in the crook of her neck and she lets out a soft gasp when I lick her skin. “You smell sweet and salty at the same time, like raspberries with a hint of the beach. It’s fucking intoxicating.”
“Really?” she breathes. “That’s what I smell like to you?”
I nuzzle my nose against the sensitive spot behind her ear and she giggles softly. “See what you do to me? I can’t get enough of you.”
I kiss her neck and her skin is so soft, I want to devour her. But I respect her boundaries. So minutes later, we’re on my bike on the way to drop her off at school.  As usual, she plants a kiss on the front of my helmet, leaving a kiss mark on the glass. Then she bats my hand away when I try to grab her ass as she walks away.
Something about this feels too perfect. I keep waiting for my mom to tell me that Claire’s being moved to another foster home. Or that my mom will find out about us and Claire’s caseworker will have her removed from our home.
Something bad is coming. It could be next week or next year. All I know is that this can’t continue the way it has. It’s too perfect. Nothing in my life has ever been this good or easy.

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Relentless (Shattered Hearts #2)

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 Pieces of You (Shattered Hearts #3)

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Bring Me Home (Shattered Hearts #4)

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Abandon (Shattered Hearts #5)

Abandon

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Chasing Abby (Shattered Hearts #6)

chasing-abby

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Ripped (Shattered Hearts #7)

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Author Bio

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Cassia Leo grew up in California and has lived in three different countries. She loves to travel and her dream is to one day score a record deal based on her awesome shower singing skills. She is the author of the Shattered Hearts series (Relentless, Pieces of You, Bring Me Home) and the Luke and Chase series.

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REVIEW – Abandon by Cassia Leo

Abandon

Title – Abandon
Author – Cassia Leo
Publication Date – January 27, 2014
Series – Shattered Hearts Series #5, Spinoff

Abandon

Synopsis

This gritty spin-off of the New York Times bestselling Shattered Hearts Series follows mysterious and sexy Tristan as he attempts to abandon his demons in the name of love.

A steady stream of meaningless sex is all Tristan has left when he discovers the grandmother who raised him is dying and his best friend is getting married. He is lost; and the dark secrets in his past keep coming back to remind him of this.

Until Tristan has an idea that will change his life and fulfill his dying grandmother’s wishes: Abandon his playboy ways and settle down.

And who better to do it with than Senia, the girl who has occupied his thoughts since their scorching hot tryst in the back of his sports car. The girl who makes him laugh and feel like a kid again.

But when his world begins to crumble around him, the pain Tristan is hiding finds its way to the surface. Will Tristan finally learn to trust again? Or will he abandon Senia when she needs him the most?

Review

Once again, Cassia Leo has taken us on a beautiful journey where you can’t help but fall in love and feel for the characters that she gives to you. Abandon is one of those experiences that has you clutching your chest one moment and cursing out the characters the next. I really think my heart palpitated in some parts! It made me sneak into my daughter’s bedroom and kiss her goodnight again as more of Tristan’s past was revealed. Most of all though, it gives you an overwhelming sense of compassion.

Nobody should go through the things that Tristan went through, yet somehow it just made him stronger. It gave him a sense of loyalty to his true family. I love that. I was raised by my sister from the time I was twelve because my parents essentially abandoned me so I felt an immediate connection and bond with this character. The fierce protectiveness he has for Molly would probably make me ignore every single of one his bad habits/traits. Of course, that also leaves me rooting for him in all situations – even when he’s being a jackass! I loved seeing Tristan’s transformation and realizing that he needed to grow up.

That epilogue was so incredibly perfect. I couldn’t have asked for anything better. The book is amazing and definitely should be read, but especially that last paragraph. That epiphany is a lesson that every human being should learn. Thank you Cassia for giving us yet another book boyfriend to fall in love with!

Review
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Check out the Rest of the Shattered Hearts Series!

Forever Ours (Shattered Hearts #1)

forever-ours

Read our Review HERE
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Relentless (Shattered Hearts #2)

relentless

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 Pieces of You (Shattered Hearts #3)

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Bring Me Home (Shattered Hearts #4)

bring-me-home

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Chasing Abby (Shattered Hearts #6)

chasing-abby

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Ripped (Shattered Hearts #7)

Ripped

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