Thursday, April 13, 2017

Manwhore +1 (Manwhore #2) by Katy Evans | Review

Manwhore +1 (Manwhore #2)  by Katy Evans | ReviewManwhore +1 (Manwhore, #2) by Katy Evans
Series: Manwhore #2
Published by Gallery Books on July 7th 2015
Genres: Romance
Pages: 336
Format: ebook
Source: Bought
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3 Stars

Billionaire playboy? Check. Ruthless businessman? Check. Absolutely sinful? Check.

Malcolm Saint was an assignment. A story. A beautiful, difficult man I was supposed to uncover for a racy exposé.

I intended to reveal him, his secrets, his lifestyle—not let him reveal me. But my head was overtaken by my heart and suddenly nothing could stop me from falling. I fell for him, and I fell hard.

Malcolm Saint is absolute Sin, and I've become a hopeless Sinner.

Now that the assignment is over, Saint wants something from me--something unexpected--and I want this wicked playboy's heart. But how can I prove to the man who trusts no one that I’m worthy of becoming his plus one?

I was not kidding when I said I would be binge reading this series.  As I write this review for book 2, I’m currently starting book 5.  If that doesn’t tell you all you need to know about these books, I guess I can elaborate a bit.

SPOILERS IF YOU HAVE NOT READ BOOK 1!

Manwhore +1 picks up right after the cliffhanger ending of Manwhore.  Saint and Rachel are not in a good place.  I was surprised by the amount of single Rachel we get at the beginning of the book.  Saint is someone who values loyalty and trust above all else and Rachel destroyed that between them.  He’s not going to give that up because of one letter she writes to try to fix her colossal mistake.  While that may not make for the best romance, it certainly made for a great slow burn that had me wondering what would happen between the two that I came to know and love from book 1.

Beginning of the book Rachel was a bit too mopey for my tastes but once she decided that she was no longer willing to take no for an answer, she grew on me.  She began to have this take charge attitude and the girl went for what she wanted.  Yeah, I know you’re not supposed to go for someone who tells you they don’t want you but in this case you could tell he was lying so it was all good.  At one point she did have to get a little tipsy to tell Saint everything she felt but I can’t blame her for that.  He wasn’t exactly opening up and making it comfortable for her.  I feel like Rachel really started to shine in Manwhore +1 which is something I felt was missing a bit in Manwhore.  As for Saint, he was pretty flawless.  Yes, he kinda held a grudge against Rachel for what she did but what she did was pretty terrible.  I was nervous he was going to keep bringing it up at every step of their relationship but he seemed to move past it eventually.  I guess the only bad thing I would even have to say about Saint is that he might have been a little too perfect.

The romance really ramped up in this one.  I loved seeing them build their relationship back up and the actual sexytimes got to be a little much for me.  I don’t think I’ve ever said this about a book but I wanted more substance rather than all the sex.  It just seemed like that was their way of resolving everything.  While you could see that they were good for each other, I wanted more proof of that in the form of talking and connecting in other ways.  That’s not to say that the sexytimes weren’t extremely sexy though.

Overall, Manwhore +1 ties things up nicely and if you don’t like the ending of this one, there is even a novella that follows it, giving readers everything they could want for their favorite couple.  (I know because I’ve already read it and will be reviewing it shortly.)

Monday, April 10, 2017

Manwhore (Manwhore #1) by Katy Evans | Review

Manwhore (Manwhore #1) by Katy Evans | ReviewManwhore (Manwhore, #1) by Katy Evans
Series: Manwhore #1
Published by Gallery Books on March 24th 2015
Genres: Romance
Pages: 357
Format: ebook
Source: Bought
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4 Stars

Is it possible to expose Chicago’s hottest player—without getting played?

This is the story I've been waiting for all my life, and its name is Malcolm Kyle Preston Logan Saint. Don’t be fooled by that last name though. There’s nothing holy about the man except the hell his parties raise. The hottest entrepreneur Chicago has ever known, he’s a man’s man with too much money to spend and too many women vying for his attention.

Mysterious. Privileged. Legendary. His entire life he’s been surrounded by the press as they dig for tidbits to see if his fairytale life is for real or all mirrors and social media lies. Since he hit the scene, his secrets have been his and his alone to keep. And that’s where I come in.

Assigned to investigate Saint and reveal his elusive personality, I’m determined to make him the story that will change my career.

But I never imagined he would change my life. Bit by bit, I start to wonder if I'm the one discovering him...or if he's uncovering me.

What happens when the man they call Saint, makes you want to sin?

I’m gonna be totally honest and say that I did not have high hopes for Manwhore.  I’ve attempted to read a couple of Katy Evans’ books now and I DNF’d one and hated the other.  I thought maybe this just wasn’t an author for me but since I heard such great things about Manwhore, I thought I’d give her another shot.  While I certainly had some issues with Manwhore, I found myself pulled into the story and I’m glad I gave it a chance.

I was a little put off by the whole idea of the story with this one.  Rachel is tasked with uncovering all of Malcolm Saint’s secrets and exposing them to the world.  To do that, her boss suggests she gets close to him and get him to want her.  Now, admittedly, she doesn’t tell Rachel to get involved with the man but she implies it when she tells Rachel that she got the story because she was the only single woman at the magazine.  Rachel had no qualms with the idea of the expose on Saint until she started to get to know him.  I’m sorry but shouldn’t you have issues exposing someone’s secrets to the world, no matter who the person is? I was really not impressed with Rachel’s morals when it came to the whole article on Saint.

Rachel was, otherwise, a pretty easy to like girl.  She was very down to earth and she seemed like a pretty smart girl aside from this one assignment.  She had some solid friendships and her relationship with her mom was, while not very visible, apparently pretty great.  She didn’t have a male figure in her life growing up and so she seemed to cling to Saint for that reason, among others.  He made her feel safe and that wasn’t something she felt very often.  With her dad dying through violent means at such a young age, it shaped Rachel’s ideas of safety and it made her very vocal about preventing violence in Chicago.  I really did enjoy that side of her and wouldn’t mind seeing more of her ideas and development of that side of her in the second book.  I also look forward to seeing more about Gina in the following books.  She got under my skin pretty early on with this story but I do want to know more about her.  She was so against the idea of Saint that she wasn’t willing to give him any kind of chance with Rachel and she was actually downright rude to Rachel when she found out about their relationship.  I didn’t appreciate how she had to compare every man to her scumbag of an ex.  One broken heart didn’t seem like enough to warrant her hatred of the whole male species.

As for Saint, I can’t do justice to that man.  Sure, he’s a player and a womanizer but he seemed to make that very clear to every woman that got involved with him.  They sought him out for his body, his money, his fame, or other similar reasons.  They all knew what they were getting when they got in bed with him so I didn’t see any reason why he should be hated for that.  Once he started opening up to Rachel, he actually showed that he was a wonderful guy, he was just very closed off.  His family relationships weren’t great and he was very isolated for a good portion of his life.  He decided he didn’t like that and from that point on he made sure he was always surrounded by people.  Rachel’s expose couldn’t have had much meat to it because Saint didn’t have dark secrets, he just liked his privacy.

The ending totally threw me for a loop because I went into this one not realizing there would be a sequel.  My bad.  It is a bit of a cliffhanger but luckily the series is complete so you can do what I’m doing and just binge read them back to back.  I look forward to seeing what becomes of Rachel and Malcolm’s relationship in book 2 and learning more about all the characters!

Overall, Manwhore certainly could have used some improvements but it’s quite an enjoyable romance that will definitely leave you wanting more of Rachel and Malcolm.  I’m glad I didn’t completely write off Katy Evans.

Monday, August 22, 2016

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne | Review

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne | ReviewThe Hating Game by Sally Thorne
Published by William Morrow Paperbacks on August 9th 2016
Genres: Romance
Pages: 384
Format: ebook
Source: Bought
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4 Stars

Nemesis (n.)
1) An opponent or rival whom a person cannot best or overcome.
2) A person’s undoing
3) Joshua Templeman

Lucy Hutton has always been certain that the nice girl can get the corner office. She’s charming and accommodating and prides herself on being loved by everyone at Bexley & Gamin. Everyone except for coldly efficient, impeccably attired, physically intimidating Joshua Templeman. And the feeling is mutual.

Trapped in a shared office together 40 (OK, 50 or 60) hours a week, they’ve become entrenched in an addictive, ridiculous never-ending game of one-upmanship. There’s the Staring Game. The Mirror Game. The HR Game. Lucy can’t let Joshua beat her at anything—especially when a huge new promotion goes up for the taking.

If Lucy wins this game, she’ll be Joshua’s boss. If she loses, she’ll resign. So why is she suddenly having steamy dreams about Joshua, and dressing for work like she’s got a hot date? After a perfectly innocent elevator ride ends with an earth shattering kiss, Lucy starts to wonder whether she’s got Joshua Templeman all wrong.

Maybe Lucy Hutton doesn’t hate Joshua Templeman. And maybe, he doesn’t hate her either. Or maybe this is just another game.

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The Hating Game, Sally Thorne’s debut novel, has been generating a lot of buzz lately.  I kept seeing it mentioned on my Twitter feed so I decided to check it out.  It’s not my typical read but I ended up loving it and I’m glad I branched out a bit for this one.

Pros:

  • Characters:  Lucy and Joshua are the main characters here and honestly, there weren’t really any other characters I cared that much about.  It’s not that the others characters sucked, it’s just that Lucy and Josh really took the spotlight and their story was the one I really cared about.  Lucy seemed really carefree at first.  She was a total sweetheart but also a little bit of a pushover.  She let people (other than Josh) walk all over her.  She wanted everyone to like her and she put her own needs second because of that.  She was lonely and homesick and totally overworked.  She just hid it really well.  Josh was an ass and it was pretty easy to see that it was because he had feelings for Lucy.  I admit, I didn’t care much for Josh’s approach.  He was just another person who didn’t treat Lucy right.  Everything made more sense once more of his story came out but I still didn’t approve of his mean streak towards her.  However, that’s not to say that I didn’t still like him because I totally did.
  • Banter: Josh and Lucy may not have been nice to each other and I may have had some issues with how they treated one another but the banter between them was too perfect.  Josh may have been mean but Lucy could hold her own against him.  She always had a sassy comeback for anything he may have said.  Even as their relationship changed, the banter never did.  It was easy to see from the start that they had chemistry but it really showed when they were going back and forth in a battle of wits.  They were pretty evenly matched.
  • Romance:  I’m torn here because for a while it seemed like nothing happened but I also liked that Sally Thorne took the time to build up to their relationship.  I don’t think I would have found it as easy to believe if it just popped up at the very start of the book.  The build up was one of the best parts.  However, the sexual tension between Josh and Lucy had me wanting to shove them together from the very start.  It was just so easy to see that they needed to get together!  And boy did they ever.  If I thought they had chemistry when they were just bickering, it was 10 times better when they finally got together.

Cons:

  • There wasn’t really anything I absolutely hated about this book.  All my problems with it were already mentioned.  Yes, Josh was kind of jerk.  The secondary characters were a little non-existent and I couldn’t find much to make me care about them.  These were all little things though and they didn’t detract much from my enjoyment of the book.

Overall, The Hating Game really did impress me.  Josh and Lucy are right up there with some of my favorite couples.  I’m quite eager to see what Sally Thorne is going to do next.

Overall reaction:

What others are saying about The Hating Game:

Harlequin Junkie’s review: “The Hating Game turned out to be quite a lovely adventure.”

Book Thingo’s review: “I’m not yet convinced this book is a keeper for me, but it gets pretty damn close.”

Monday, May 30, 2016

One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid | Review

One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid | ReviewOne True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Published by Washington Square Press on June 7th 2016
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 352
Format: ARC
Source: PLA
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5 Stars

From the author of Maybe in Another Life—named a People Magazine pick and a "Best Book of the Summer" by Glamour and USA TODAY—comes a breathtaking new love story about a woman unexpectedly forced to choose between the husband she has long thought dead and the fiancé who has finally brought her back to life.

In her twenties, Emma Blair marries her high school sweetheart, Jesse. They build a life for themselves, far away from the expectations of their parents and the people of their hometown in Massachusetts. They travel the world together, living life to the fullest and seizing every opportunity for adventure.

On their first wedding anniversary, Jesse is on a helicopter over the Pacific when it goes missing. Just like that, Jesse is gone forever.

Emma quits her job and moves home in an effort to put her life back together. Years later, now in her thirties, Emma runs into an old friend, Sam, and finds herself falling in love again. When Emma and Sam get engaged, it feels like Emma’s second chance at happiness.

That is, until Jesse is found. He’s alive, and he’s been trying all these years to come home to her. With a husband and a fiancé, Emma has to now figure out who she is and what she wants, while trying to protect the ones she loves.

Who is her one true love? What does it mean to love truly?

Emma knows she has to listen to her heart. She’s just not sure what it’s saying.

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One True Loves was my first Taylor Jenkins Reid book and I’m glad I started with it.  While I don’t doubt her other books are fabulous, this one was right up my alley and completely blew me away.  I had some high expectations (some blogger friends of mine rave about her books) but not only did she meet them, she surpassed them.

Pros:

  • The story: I was hooked on One True Loves from the moment I read the synopsis.  A woman’s husband goes missing for years, she falls in love and gets engaged to someone else, her husband returns from the dead throwing a wrench in her life.  I wasn’t sure where things were going to go after he returned and I worried things would become a little stagnant but that was so not the case.  While there wasn’t much action, Emma’s dilemma was so interesting and so complicated that I couldn’t stop reading.
  • The romance: It’s hard to say which romance in Emma’s life was more appealing to me.  Both men were great for Emma but in very different ways.  Emma and Jesse fell in love as teenagers and explored the world together.  They had a wonderful relationship that had it’s flaws but overall was very successful.  Emma and Sam met when they were teenagers but didn’t develop a romantic relationship until after Jesse was gone.  Sam was a total sweetheart and, I must admit, definitely my type of guy.  Emma and Sam had a much more mature relationship with a more settled down lifestyle.  Sam and Jesse were very different guys but they both worked for Emma in different ways.
  • The storytelling style: I’m not sure how I really expected Taylor Jenkins Reid to tell Emma’s story but I was surprised by how she did it.  One True Loves starts with Emma and Sam at dinner with her family and Emma gets the call about Jesse being alive.  Then it goes back to high school when Jesse and Emma first met and how they fell in love.  After that it jumps ahead to Emma losing Jesse and eventually finding love with Sam.  Finally, it goes back to the present and shows what happens when Jesse comes home and how Emma decides what she’s going to do now that she has both a husband and a fiance.   I was worried with all the jumping around but it worked and I managed to keep up with Emma’s story no matter what was happening.
  • The writing: I was extremely moved, not just by Emma’s story, but by Taylor Jenkins Reid’s writing.  I admit that I don’t typically read chick lit and when I do, I’m not really in it for wonderful writing.  However, that is what I got from One True Loves.  While her writing is not wordy or heavy, Taylor Jenkins Reid still manages to convey a powerful message throughout the book.  One True Loves is a book I could easily flip through and find tons of quotes that really make you think.  Sure it’s a book that will ultimately leave you with a smile on your face but that’s not all it has to offer.

Overall, One True Loves has been added to my favorites shelf and I’m now going to hunt down the rest of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s books.  Fans of the chick lit genre will fall in love with this one.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Beast (Black Dagger Brotherhood #14) by J.R. Ward | Review

The Beast (Black Dagger Brotherhood #14) by J.R. Ward | ReviewThe Beast (Black Dagger Brotherhood, #14) by J.R. Ward
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood #14
Published by NAL on April 5th 2016
Pages: 508
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
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3 Stars

Nothing is as it used to be for the Black Dagger Brotherhood. After avoiding war with the Shadows, alliances have shifted and lines have been drawn. The slayers of the Lessening Society are stronger than ever, preying on human weakness to acquire more money, more weapons, more power. But as the Brotherhood readies for an all-out attack on them, one of their own fights a battle within himself…

For Rhage, the Brother with the biggest appetites, but also the biggest heart, life was supposed to be perfect—or at the very least, perfectly enjoyable. Mary, his beloved shellan, is by his side and his King and his brothers are thriving. But Rhage can’t understand—or control—the panic and insecurity that plague him…

And that terrifies him—as well as distances him from his mate. After suffering mortal injury in battle, Rhage must reassess his priorities—and the answer, when it comes to him, rocks his world...and Mary’s. But Mary is on a journey of her own, one that will either bring them closer together or cause a split that neither will recover from...

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By book 14, you’d think I’d be over a series but that is so not the case with the Black Dagger Brotherhood books.  J.R. Ward still manages to surprise me with the twists and turns she keeps throwing in her books.

Fair warning: review is spoiler free if you’ve read the first 13 books.  Otherwise, I make no promises.

Pros:

  • Story: Things seem to be moving along with the Lessening Society again.  The Beast starts off with a huge battle and things seem like they are finally back on track with the war between the Black Dagger Brotherhood and the Lessening Society.  I admit, it’s a little frustrating because this war has been going on for 14 books and it doesn’t seem like it’s gone very far so it was good to see such a huge, impactful battle in The Beast.
  • Romance: Rhage and Mary have always been one of my favorite couples (let’s be real, it’s mainly because of Rhage) so I was a little nervous about the story coming back to them and threatening their relationship.  While it definitely puts things up in the air for them, it really shows that they have a strong relationship no matter what they go through and believe me, they go through a lot.  Rhage and Mary don’t have a perfect relationship and they never have.  They went through a lot to get their happy ending and yeah, J.R. Ward kind of throws everything up in the air with The Beast, but she definitely knew what she was doing.
  • Characters: I’m still totally in love with all the original characters and I love that J.R. Ward is revisiting some of their stories but I also really like that she still manages to introduce new ones and tie all their stories together.  There is one particular character that is introduced pretty early on in The Beast who didn’t make sense to the story for quite some time.  When things started to fall into place though, I couldn’t believe where things were going.  It’s hard to believe that I can still be so surprised by J.R. Ward’s books but she manages to throw in some amazing twists that I never see coming.

Cons:

  • Rhage and Mary: I had some serious issues with Rhage and Mary at times throughout The Beast.  Take the very first scene, for instance.  I’m not going to spoil anything but Rhage does something so incredibly stupid and doesn’t even have a very good reason for it.  He acts reckless and it really made me mad.  Then there was Mary.  Mary was so obsessed with Bitty (a child that Rhage and the brothers rescued in a previous book from her abusive father) that she loses sight of so many other things, including Rhage.  Those two had some things they needed to work out and they did not make me happy while they were working them out.  And also, they were pretty cheesy at times which is not something I ever expected from them and I didn’t care much for it.

Overall, The Beast is a solid addition to the Black Dagger Brotherhood series and really sets things up for the next book and the next step in the war with the Lessening Society.  I’m looking forward to seeing what happens in book 15, especially with Xcor and Layla.

What others are saying about The Beast:

  • Smexybooks’ review: “To be honest, I wasn’t that excited for a second Rhage book, but I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this one.”
  • Vilma’s Book Blog’s review: “Life and death, marriage and love, sacrifices and surprises—J.R. Ward stirs things up in this intimate, evocative next chapter in the Black Dagger Brotherhood.”
  • Total Book Geek’s review: “Once again The Beast was amazingly written, and I love how well all the story-lines mix together.”
Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Ride Hard (Raven Riders #1) by Laura Kaye | Review

Ride Hard (Raven Riders #1) by Laura Kaye | ReviewRide Hard (Raven Riders, #1) by Laura Kaye
Series: Raven Riders #1
Published by Avon on April 26th 2016
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 320
Format: ARC
Source: PLA
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2 Stars

Brotherhood. Club. Family.

They live and ride by their own rules.

These are the Raven Riders . . .

Raven Riders Motorcycle Club President Dare Kenyon rides hard and values loyalty above all else. He’ll do anything to protect the brotherhood of bikers—the only family he’s got—as well as those who can’t defend themselves. So when mistrustful Haven Randall lands on the club’s doorstep scared that she’s being hunted, Dare takes her in, swears to keep her safe, and pushes to learn the secrets overshadowing her pretty smile.

Haven fled from years of abuse at the hands of her criminal father and is suspicious of any man’s promises, including those of the darkly sexy and overwhelmingly intense Ravens’ leader. But as the powerful attraction between them flares to life, Dare pushes her boundaries and tempts her to want things she never thought she could.

The past never dies without a fight, but Dare Kenyon’s never backed down before . . .

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I’m still asking myself why I actually finished this book.  I’ve gotten better at DNF’ing things and Ride Hard is definitely one I should have just given up on.

Pros:

  • The writing:  The writing was not terrible.  It wasn’t anything fabulous but it gives me enough hope that maybe some of Laura Kaye’s other books might be better for me to read.  It was a simple style of writing that lent itself to the story very well.  It had good pacing and helped move things along, even when the story itself seemed to be plodding along.

Cons:

  • The story:  The story was unrealistic and dragged along so much.  There was so much build up and not nearly enough action.  I get that it’s a romance novel but I expected so much more.  The book could have been 100 pages shorter if things just moved along a little faster.
  • The dialogue: I’m not sure I’ve ever read anything cheesier than the dialogue between the two romantic interests in Ride Hard.  Also, Dare was supposed to be this badass president of a motorcycle club and half the things he said to Haven made me laugh how cheesy they were.  I just couldn’t take him seriously as a badass after saying those things.
  • The romance: I know it’s a romance novel but there was just too much!  It was pretty repetitive, actually.  I also didn’t really get why they liked each other that much.  They had similar pasts but it didn’t seem like they actually shared a lot of interests or had that much in common.  It mainly seemed like physical attraction.
  • The characters: The characters really didn’t stand out to me and I could not have cared less about what happened to them.  None of them were well developed and they were just not memorable.  Normally in books like this I become attracted enough to the stories of the side characters to continue the series so I can see what happens to them.  That was not the case with Ride Hard and I will not be continuing this series.

I’m just gonna stop now because it’s only going to get worse from here.  Needless to say, I don’t recommend Ride Hard though, like I said, I may check out another of Laura Kaye’s books to see if it’s any better.  I’m normally a romance fan and I love books about motorcycle clubs so this one really let me down.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Blood Kiss (Black Dagger Legacy #1) by J.R. Ward | Review

Blood Kiss (Black Dagger Legacy #1) by J.R. Ward | ReviewBlood Kiss (Black Dagger Legacy, #1) by J.R. Ward
Series: Black Dagger Legacy #1
Published by Signet on December 1st 2015
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 397
Format: ebook
Source: Bought
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4 Stars

The legacy of the Black Dagger Brotherhood continues in a spin-off series from the #1 New York Times bestselling author…

Paradise, blooded daughter of the king’s First Advisor, is ready to break free from the restrictive life of an aristocratic female. Her strategy? Join the Black Dagger Brotherhood’s training center program and learn to fight for herself, think for herself…be herself. It’s a good plan, until everything goes wrong. The schooling is unfathomably difficult, the other recruits feel more like enemies than allies, and it’s very clear that the Brother in charge, Butch O’Neal, a.k.a. the Dhestroyer, is having serious problems in his own life.

And that’s before she falls in love with a fellow classmate. Craeg, a common civilian, is nothing her father would ever want for her, but everything she could ask for in a male. As an act of violence threatens to tear apart the entire program, and the erotic pull between them grows irresistible, Paradise is tested in ways she never anticipated—and left wondering whether she’s strong enough to claim her own power…on the field, and off.

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I admit I wasn’t sure that I wanted to start this series.  While I love the Black Dagger Brotherhood series, I’m already 14 books in with that one and I have a feeling the Black Dagger Legacy series will be just as long.  I don’t normally get into series that go on that long but I really liked Paradise and Craeg from The Shadows so I wanted to continue their story.  I’m happy I chose to start this series and I plan on keeping up with it as the rest of the books come out.  I don’t know why I’m surprised that J.R. Ward  has hooked me once again.

Pros:

  • Story: The story hooked me from page one.  I loved the idea of having some new members trained to join in on the Black Dagger Brotherhood’s fight against the Lessening Society.  I also loved the idea of seeing what goes into the training required to be a fighter with the Black Dagger Brotherhood.  While this was a huge part of the story, it wasn’t the whole story.  J.R. Ward is a master at weaving together multiple stories and she did a great job with everything that was included in Blood Kiss.  Craeg and Paradise’s story takes center stage and much of their story involves the training program but they aren’t the only two who have a role in Blood Kiss.  Marissa and Butch’s story is brought back to front and center when a severely wounded female is found outside Safe Place.  The mystery surrounding her circumstances not only brings in the new trainees but also brings to light some issues that Marissa and Butch have been having with their relationship.  There is so much going on in the story that you will not be able to stop reading.
  • Characters: I loved being introduced to so many new characters while still showing us all the original characters we’ve come to love from the original series.  Weaving together both Craeg and Paradise’s story with Butch and Marissa’s really worked for Blood Kiss. I didn’t feel like it was one of the original books but we still got to see glimpses of everyone else.  The trainees were a varied mix of people that I grew to love over the course of the book.  Paradise was raised to be part of the upper class but that’s not what she wanted out of her life and she was willing to do whatever it took to change her circumstances.  Craeg was a bit broody and mysterious but his story really broke my heart.  Axe, Peyton, Novo, Anslam, and the other trainee whose name I cannot remember were developed only briefly in Blood Kiss but I look forward to finding out more about all of them in the future books.
  • Pacing: While I love the original series, I felt like Blood Kiss had a bit better pacing than that series.  Things took off from page one and didn’t slow down even once.  There is no such thing as a short J.R. Ward book (which I’m perfectly happy with) but this one read a lot faster than the Black Dagger Brotherhood books and it seemed like a much shorter book.  I honestly can’t say exactly what caused that but I think readers will find that this one is actually a surprisingly quick read.

Cons:

  • Romance: While I loved Craeg and Paradise as separate characters, I wasn’t all that impressed with them as a couple.  Things between them were very back and forth and Craeg’s reactions a lot of the time got on my nerves.  Paradise was part of the trainee group because of her own merits and strengths but Craeg still looked at her like she was fragile.  He couldn’t see how he would be good for her and he kept pushing her away because of that, no matter what Paradise wanted.  Their relationship also seemed to be very physical and I would have liked to see more of the emotional side of things.

This doesn’t affect my review in any way but I felt like I should throw this out there.  If you haven’t read the original Black Dagger Brotherhood series, you can still read Blood Kiss.  You also don’t really need to read Blood Kiss to continue with the Black Dagger Brotherhood series.  However, I think both series’ offer more information to readers and I’d highly recommend reading both of them and reading them as they come out.  I plan on staying up to date with both series so that I don’t miss out on anything but that might just be due to my obsession with this series and all things J.R. Ward.

Overall, Blood Kiss will definitely appeal to fans of the Black Dagger Brotherhood series and if you’ve been on the fence, I suggest checking it out.  Also, if you’ve been thinking about starting the Black Dagger Brotherhood series but are intimidated by how many books there are, you could always start with Blood Kiss and see how you feel about things before starting the other series.  I guess, what I’m saying is, check out Blood Kiss if you’re a fan of the paranormal.  I can’t get enough of these vampires.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Roses and Rot by Kat Howard | Review

Roses and Rot by Kat Howard | ReviewRoses and Rot by Kat Howard
Published by Saga Press on May 17th 2016
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 336
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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4 Stars

Imogen and her sister Marin have escaped their cruel mother to attend a prestigious artists’ retreat, but soon learn that living in a fairy tale requires sacrifices, be it art or love in this haunting debut fantasy novel from “a remarkable young writer” (Neil Gaiman).

What would you sacrifice in the name of success? How much does an artist need to give up to create great art?

Imogen has grown up reading fairy tales about mothers who die and make way for cruel stepmothers. As a child, she used to lie in bed wishing that her life would become one of these tragic fairy tales because she couldn’t imagine how a stepmother could be worse than her mother now. As adults, Imogen and her sister Marin are accepted to an elite post-grad arts program—Imogen as a writer and Marin as a dancer. Soon enough, though, they realize that there’s more to the school than meets the eye. Imogen might be living in the fairy tale she’s dreamed about as a child, but it’s one that will pit her against Marin if she decides to escape her past to find her heart’s desire.

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Kat Howard’s debut novel landed on my doorstep one afternoon and, after reading the blurb from Neil Gaiman, I decided I’d give it a shot.  Roses and Rot is unlike anything I’ve ever read and seriously impressed me.

Pros:

  • The writing: Kat Howard’s writing is by far the best thing this book has going for it.  Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of good things about Roses and Rot but the writing just stands out.  It’s so atmospheric and haunting and will have you stopping to savor it as you read the book.  I really can’t do justice to how gorgeous it is.  I marked so many quotes and I don’t typically mark any.
  • The sibling bond: Marin and Imogen have an odd relationship.  They were close growing up but grew apart when Imogen left for boarding school.  Now they are both at the same art program and it’s sister against sister for an amazing opportunity that could make all their dreams come true.  While it doesn’t seem to affect their relationship at first, things quickly come to a head and secret feelings start pouring out.  I loved that they had a close relationship but they could still fight.  Their bond was stronger than it first appeared and I’m not sure about Marin but Imogen was willing to do anything for her sister.
  • The setting: I don’t want to give a whole lot away but Melete wasn’t the only place the book was set.  Melete, however, sounded spectacular.  Everything was so detailed that I felt like I was there with Imogen.  The houses, the moat, the rose garden, the river, nothing was left unexplained and I could picture every stunning image in my head.  And like I said, Melete wasn’t the only setting for the book and the other main focal point of the book was also pretty spectacular in a very haunting way.
  • The friendships: Imogen and Marin went to Melete already having each other to rely on but everyone else was an outsider.  That didn’t stop them from forming some rather unlikely bonds.  Helena and Ariel were their other roommates and while it seemed like they didn’t have a whole lot in common with each other, they made up a pretty great foursome.  Ariel was outgoing and fun while Helena was more moody and introverted.  They all brought out different sides of each other and I liked the friendships they formed.

Cons:

  • The romance: Imogen and Evan start a romance relatively early on in the book and it seems to come out of nowhere.  They clearly are physically attracted to each other and they can appreciate each other’s talent but they didn’t seem to have much more in common.  Most of their interactions were physical in nature and they really just didn’t seem to be able to sustain more than a physical relationship.
  • The pacing: Roses & Rot is not an easy book to get into.  It takes quite some time for things to really take off.  While I was intrigued with the story, it wasn’t enough to really capture my attention and hold it.  I had to push myself through the first 50 pages or so until things really started going somewhere.  Even then it’s not a fast-paced book.  Just know that you won’t be able to really rush through this one and I honestly don’t think you should. It’s definitely a book to take your time with and really think about.

Overall, I clearly have much more good to say about Roses and Rot than bad.  While it is classified as an adult novel, I think it holds great crossover appeal for older young adult readers.  I look forward to seeing what Kat Howard does next and I highly recommend checking this one out.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller | Review

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller | ReviewThe Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
Published by Bloomsbury Publishing on September 20th 2011
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 384
Format: ebook
Source: Bought
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5 Stars

Greece in the age of heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the court of King Peleus and his perfect son Achilles. Despite their difference, Achilles befriends the shamed prince, and as they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine, their bond blossoms into something deeper - despite the displeasure of Achilles' mother Thetis, a cruel sea goddess. But when word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, Achilles must go to war in distant Troy and fulfill his destiny. Torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus goes with him, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they hold dear.

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The Song of Achilles wasn’t even on my TBR until about a month ago.  I saw Nikki from There Were Books Involved reading it and after seeing her reactions to it, I added it to the TBR.  I didn’t think I’d get around to reading it for a while but I decided to just throw it on my November TBR and see what happened.  I couldn’t resist it for too long and it was definitely a good life choice to read it.  The Song of Achilles made the history nerd in me very happy.  Madeline Miller did a wonderful job with this retelling of the story of Patroclus and Achilles.

Like I already mentioned, I’m a history nerd.  I’m minoring in history and I only just recently took a class on mythology so the story of Achilles was not new to me.  Heck, even the story of Patroclus and Achilles wasn’t new to me.  That didn’t matter though because Madeline Miller took this age old tale and made it all her own.  She has a way with words that completely blew me away.  I’m not always a fan of writers that are really wordy but in this case it just works.  The writing only made this gorgeous story better.

I truly don’t even know what to say at this point.  The Song of Achilles broke me.  I knew this story, I knew what was going to happen, I knew exactly how it would end.  That did not matter one bit!  Patroclus and Achilles came to life through Madeline Miller’s words.  They were more than just the things they became known for.  Patroclus was always in the background of the story but that’s because he chose to be there.  He didn’t need to be the center of attention, he just needed to be the center of Achilles’ attention.  As for Achilles, he was more than just the son of a goddess or the hero he came to be known as.  He never wanted any of that.  He just wanted to be loved by his people and by Patroclus.  The development of their friendship and their romance was just beautiful.

Overall, I just want you to read The Song of Achilles.  I can’t even begin to put into words the beauty of this book.  It’s something you have to experience for yourself and I suggest you do that.

What others are saying about The Song of Achilles:

There Were Books Involved’s review: “If you are at all into Greek mythology/The Iliad or historical fiction (despite its mythological elements, itdoes almost read like historical fiction), if you like a good tragic romance, and/or if you just need a good cry, pick up this book.”

Angieville’s review: “What an exquisite agony reading The Song of Achilles was.”

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Vicious (Vicious #1) by V.E. Schwab | Review

Vicious (Vicious #1) by V.E. Schwab | ReviewVicious (Vicious, #1) by V.E. Schwab, Victoria Schwab
Series: Vicious #1
Published by Tor on September 24th 2013
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 364
Format: ARC
Source: BEA
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5 Stars

Victor and Eli started out as college roommates—brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong. Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl whose reserved nature obscures a stunning ability.

Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find—aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will. Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the archnemeses have set a course for revenge—but who will be left alive at the end?

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I’ve been a fan of Victoria Schwab’s since I read her debut, The Near Witch.  Her writing style just spoke to me and seriously impressed me.  I admit that I haven’t stayed up to date with all her new releases but I am trying to work on that and I figured Vicious would be the perfect place to start.  This is her first book writing as V.E. Schwab for adult readers and I loved it as much as I thought I would.

Victor and Eli’s stories fascinated me from the first page.  The prologue just grabbed me and did not let go.  I knew from the synopsis that Victor and Eli used to be friends but that’s about all I knew until I started reading.  From the prologue, you know that that is no longer the case.  Instead of the best friends that they used to be, now Eli and Victor are sworn enemies.  They have vowed to kill each other and they will do whatever it takes, including putting innocent others in the line of fire.

It’s hard to tell at first glance who is the typical “villain.”  Victor definitely has a darker side and he’s spent some time in prison that’s only made that dark side more prominent.  Eli, on the other hand, gets away with pretty much anything and, at first glance, appears to be a great guy.  In this case, appearances are definitely deceiving.  However, Victor and Eli do have something in common and it’s that one thing that tore apart their friendship.  Both Victor and Eli are ExtraOrdinaries (EOs) with special powers that came to them after some experimenting while they were in college (not that kind of college experimenting!).  Each person who is gifted with these abilities is given a unique power that some don’t even know they have.  Victor and Eli definitely know that they have these powers and both of them are searching for others like them, for very different reasons.

Victor may appear to be the bad guy but he has friends from his time in prison and one that he’s just met.  Sydney and Mitch don’t know everything about Victor but they know they are drawn to him and that they can trust him.  Sydney is a young girl who has a very special ability of her own and it’s that ability that makes Eli want to kill her very much.  Mitch was drawn to Victor from the moment he saw him in prison.  They didn’t start out as friends exactly but they do seem to be some sort of friends now.  Victor himself was a very confusing guy.  Like I said, he doesn’t exactly appear to be a good guy and his actions would sometimes appear to be not so great but he’s not like Eli.  Eli’s goal in life is to rid the world of the EOs (excluding himself) and he’s willing to do some pretty outrageous things to achieve that goal.  Eli was just nuts.  Clearly he wasn’t all right to begin with but the gift of his powers really screwed him up.  There was really nothing that endeared him to me and I really wanted to see Victor succeed in getting his revenge against Eli.

The story itself was a little slow but the writing made up for that.  Victoria Schwab just has a way with words that means she could write practically anything and make it come to life.  Vicious is a story that worked perfectly with the way she writes.  It’s dark and slightly creepy and just plain awesome.  And while some of the story might be a little slow, by the end, everything has built up and it’s impossible to stop reading!

Overall, Vicious is another stunner from V.E. Schwab.  If you’re looking to maybe check out something other than YA, this is a great place to start.  I think it can also definitely be enjoyed by YA readers even though it is a little bit more mature.  I just have to recommend it because, in my eyes, V.E. Schwab can do no wrong.

What others are saying about Vicious:

There Were Books Involved’s review: “Here’s what you need to know: READ VICIOUS.”

The Blank Page’s review: “Despite a couple of places where I had to suspend my disbelief farther than I would have liked, Vicious quickly grew into its place as one of the best books I’ve read this year.”