Wednesday, June 14, 2017

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon | Review

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon | ReviewWhen Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
Published by Simon Pulse on May 30th 2017
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 380
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
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5 Stars

A laugh-out-loud, heartfelt YA romantic comedy, told in alternating perspectives, about two Indian-American teens whose parents have arranged for them to be married.

Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?

Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.

The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.

When every single one of your bookish friends is raving about a book, you know they can’t all be wrong.  That’s how I felt about When Dimple Met Rishi.  Everybody I know that read it, loved it.  I honestly have not seen one single bad review for it.  In all my years blogging, I feel like I have never seen one book get so much praise.  I obviously had to pick it up to see what all the fuss was about.

When Dimple Met Rishi is like the perfect romantic comedy in book form.  I haven’t been reading much contemporary lately but that’s because I stopped finding books like this one that reminded me of my love for the genre.  This book had everything that made me love contemporary YA novels growing up: romance, friendship, conflicts, confusion, family, and so much more.  Dimple and Rishi are far from perfect and that’s why they are so dang lovable.  And don’t even get me started on their friends and families.  The family dynamics between both the parents and children and the children and siblings may have been my favorite aspect of this book.  So often it seems like family can get overlooked in favor of romantic relationships in books but that’s not the case with When Dimple Met Rishi.  Sandhya Menon perfectly balanced every aspect of this book.

What made the family dynamics so awesome though were the characters.  Dimple and Rishi are obviously the main focus of the story but their story couldn’t have been told without their families and the friends they made at Insomnia Con.  Dimple’s family was very traditional and it was easy to see that her parents wanted a traditional life for her.  The love they had for Dimple was clear but her mom couldn’t see why Dimple wanted something more out of life than marriage and children.  As for Rishi, his parents were of a similar mindset but it wasn’t such an issue because it’s also what Rishi wanted.  From the start it was clear that Dimple and Rishi were looking for different things out of life but that didn’t really stop them from falling for one another.  Also, Celia (Dimple’s roommate) and Ashish (Rishi’s brother) kind of need their own story now.  I want to know more about those two.

As for Dimple and Rishi, they were pretty great.  Dimple was a little hardheaded and she definitely did some stupid stuff but I still adored her.  Rishi was almost too perfect.  He was so incredibly sweet and loving.  He was a total romantic and while his and Dimple’s personalities didn’t seem like they would go well together, they really did.  Rishi brought out a softer side in Dimple and Dimple pushed Rishi to go after what he really wanted in life.

Overall, When Dimple Met Rishi deserves every bit of praise it’s been getting.  Sandhya Menon has set a very high bar for herself but I am sure that whatever she writes next will meet that standard.

What others are saying about When Dimple Met Rishi:

A Reader Of Fictions’ review: “If you’ve been looking forward to this one, you were right to be excited.”

The Book Smugglers’ review: “I can’t entirely express how cute, engaging, funny and heart-warming this novel truly is.”

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Spindle Fire (Spindle Fire #1) by Lexa Hilyer | Review

Spindle Fire (Spindle Fire #1) by Lexa Hilyer | ReviewSpindle Fire (Spindle Fire #1) by Lexa Hillyer
Published by HarperCollins on April 11th 2017
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 351
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
4 Stars

A kingdom burns. A princess sleeps. This is no fairy tale.

It all started with the burning of the spindles.

No.

It all started with a curse…

Half sisters Isabelle and Aurora are polar opposites: Isabelle is the king’s headstrong illegitimate daughter, whose sight was tithed by faeries; Aurora, beautiful and sheltered, was tithed her sense of touch and her voice on the same day. Despite their differences, the sisters have always been extremely close.

And then everything changes, with a single drop of Aurora’s blood—and a sleep so deep it cannot be broken.

As the faerie queen and her army of Vultures prepare to march, Isabelle must race to find a prince who can awaken her sister with the kiss of true love and seal their two kingdoms in an alliance against the queen.

Isabelle crosses land and sea; unearthly, thorny vines rise up the palace walls; and whispers of revolt travel in the ashes on the wind. The kingdom falls to ruin under layers of snow. Meanwhile, Aurora wakes up in a strange and enchanted world, where a mysterious hunter may be the secret to her escape…or the reason for her to stay.

Lexa Hilyer impressed me with her previous novel, Proof of Forever.  Spindle Fire is such a departure from that story though, that I went into this one as if I knew nothing of the author’s work.  To be completely honest, this was one I picked up solely on the appeal of the gorgeous cover.  This was one of those instances where I’m glad I judged a book by it’s cover because the insides matched up quite well with the beautiful outsides.

I read somewhere that Spindle Fire is a retelling of Sleeping Beauty with hints of Alice in Wonderland and that description matched up perfectly with the actual story.  The Sleeping Beauty aspects were quite obvious from the start and did match up quite well with the traditional story.  However, it didn’t take long for things to deviate from that classic and for Lexa Hilyer to really give this story her own spin.  The hints of mystery surrounding both the enchanted world where Aurora has found herself and the world of her home kingdom were intriguing enough to keep any reader guessing.  Little hints regarding the history of both worlds as well as the faeries themselves are dropped throughout the book but only really come to a head at the end.  As for that end, there won’t be a reader out there who isn’t left dying for the sequel, Winter Glass.

While the story is what originally captured my attention, the characters are what kept me coming back for more.  Aurora and Isabelle couldn’t be more different.  The sisters have very little in common except for their love for one another.  That never stopped them from being best friends though.  However, Aurora’s grand ideas for romance started to change things between them.  Aurora was eager to meet her future husband, the Crown Prince of Aubin, a neighboring land.  For Isabelle, this meant her time with her sister was over and her life was going to change irrevocably.  A rift formed between them and before either of them could fix it, the spell took hold of Aurora.  Aurora woke in a strange land and everything about her changed from there.  Everything she thought she knew had to be questioned and she finally had to rely on her own strengths.  As for Isabelle, she always knew her strengths but she hadn’t needed to put them to the test until it was up to her to bring her sister back from the strange sleeping sickness.  Throughout the course of the story, characters such a Gil, William, Heath, Wren, Belcoeur, and Malfleur were introduced and while each one had their own mysteries, most of the questions surrounding them were left unanswered.  I sincerely hope the pasts and futures of all of these characters will be explored in the sequel.

Overall, Spindle Fire sets things up nicely for this series (trilogy? duology?).  April 2018 cannot get here soon enough, in my opinion.  I’ve already become invested in these characters’ stories and I need to know what will become of them!  Fans of fantasy as well as fans of both the original Sleeping Beauty and Alice in Wonderland stories will find something to love in Spindle Fire.  The hints of the familiar are just enough to bring fans to find something completely new to love.

What others are saying about Spindle Fire:

Across the Words’ review: “If you tend to find the story of Sleeping Beauty uninteresting, I think you will appreciate how much more compelling and complex it becomes in Spindle Fire.”

The Story Sanctuary’s review: “I think fans of Forbidden Wish or The School for Good and Evil will find Spindle Fire to be a worthy addition to the genre.”

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
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
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
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
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.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Last Seen Leaving by Caleb Roehrig | Review

Last Seen Leaving by Caleb Roehrig | ReviewLast Seen Leaving by Caleb Roehrig
Published by Feiwel & Friends on October 4th 2016
Genres: Mystery
Pages: 336
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
5 Stars

Flynn's girlfriend has disappeared. How can he uncover her secrets without revealing his own?

Flynn's girlfriend, January, is missing. The cops are asking questions he can't answer, and her friends are telling stories that don't add up. All eyes are on Flynn—as January's boyfriend, he must know something.
But Flynn has a secret of his own. And as he struggles to uncover the truth about January's disappearance, he must also face the truth about himself.

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I have a new favorite mystery.  Last Seen Leaving wasn’t even really on my radar until Angie from Lady Knight Reads told me to pick it up.  I’m so glad I listened to her.  Last Seen Leaving, Caleb Roehrig’s debut novel, is one of those books that I’m going to be pushing on everyone now.

Pros:

  • Flynn: Characters can really break or make a mystery novel.  If your characters are boring and straightforward, you’re going to be able to guess what happened right from the start.  Lucky for readers, there is not a single boring or straightforward character in Last Seen Leaving.  Flynn Doherty, main character and ex-boyfriend of January, is perfection.  I can’t honestly tell you everything it is that I love about him because there is too much.  I went through a myriad of emotions alongside Flynn.  It was so easy to see how much he cared for January and not knowing what happened to her really tore him up.  He was so confused by everything going on in his life.  He had no aspirations towards being a detective but he was unwilling to let January’s disappearance go unsolved.  He was tenacious and rather fierce when it was called for.  He was so loyal and he did not take his friendships lightly.
  • January: You never actually see January except in flashbacks from Flynn’s perspective.  She’s very much a mystery.  Flynn sees her one way and only starts to realize that there was much more to her once she has gone missing.  It’s hard to say what January was really like though because she put on a different face for every person in her life.  I think it’s part of what made her disappearance so intriguing and unsolvable.  Nobody knew the real January except for January.
  • Mystery: Like I said, this is one mystery that I could not solve.  Sure I could figure out little pieces of it but there was always much more to it.  Flynn didn’t really have a clue what he was doing when it came to solving the mystery but he was willing to try anything to find out what happened to January.  Because of that, he tended to stumble upon things that other people overlooked.  He was a little clueless at times and there were times when I wanted to knock some sense into him but he really was a pretty good detective.
  • Romance: The romance in Last Seen Leaving was really very subtle and well done.  Flynn obviously had a lot on his plate with January’s disappearance but he ended up getting help from an unexpected source.  Kaz was a coworker of January’s who really only offered to help Flynn because he considered January a friend.  They got off to a rocky start but Kaz and Flynn were pretty perfect together.  Theirs was not a relationship that just popped up overnight though.  They both had way too much going on to just jump into things and they really didn’t know each other.  I liked seeing them get to know each other and build upon their blossoming friendship.

Overall, Last Seen Leaving is an impressive debut from Caleb Roehrig.  I’m excited to see what is next from him!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Blog Tour: Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland | Review + Favorite Quotes

Blog Tour: Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland | Review + Favorite Quotes

Blog Tour: Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland | Review + Favorite QuotesOur Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland
Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers on October 4th 2016
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 320
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
4 Stars

John Green meets Rainbow Rowell in this irresistible story of first love, broken hearts, and the golden seams that put them back together again.

Henry Page has never been in love. He fancies himself a hopeless romantic, but the slo-mo, heart palpitating, can't-eat-can't-sleep kind of love that he's been hoping for just hasn't been in the cards for him—at least not yet. Instead, he's been happy to focus on his grades, on getting into a semi-decent college and finally becoming editor of his school newspaper.
Then Grace Town walks into his first period class on the third Tuesday of senior year and he knows everything's about to change.

Grace isn't who Henry pictured as his dream girl—she walks with a cane, wears oversized boys' clothes, and rarely seems to shower. But when Grace and Henry are both chosen to edit the school paper, he quickly finds himself falling for her. It's obvious there's something broken about Grace, but it seems to make her even more beautiful to Henry, and he wants nothing more than to help her put the pieces back together again. And yet, this isn't your average story of boy meets girl. Krystal Sutherland's brilliant debut is equal parts wit and heartbreak, a potent reminder of the bittersweet bliss that is first love,

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Ignoring the whole John Green/Rainbow Rowell comparison made in the synopsis, I went into Our Chemical Hearts not really knowing what to expect but with an open mind.  I’m the kind of person who doesn’t necessarily like those comparisons because it can give people unrealistic hopes.  That wasn’t the case with this one because I definitely think that fans of the two authors will enjoy this one though Krystal Sutherland brings her own flair to the story.

Pros:

  • Henry: Henry was a very mixed bag for me.  He had his good parts and his bad but I honestly think that is why he is in the pros column.  He was really well developed as a character.  He’s not your typical boy.  He’s very focused on school, worrying about getting into a good college, and becoming the editor of his school paper to help with that whole good college thing.  He gets the editor position but it’s got a co-editor attached and that’s Grace.  Grace isn’t really his idea (or many people’s) of a dream girl but Henry is very intrigued and quickly becomes quite enmeshed in her life.  Grace has a lot of baggage and Henry finds himself wanting to know everything about Grace and wanting to basically help fix her.  He was a little obsessed with Grace (to me) but you could tell his heart was in the right place so it’s easy to get past that.
  • Realism: This is not your romantic, happy ever after, high school love story.  Hell, I’m not even sure I’d call it a true love story because it focuses on so much more than that.  The romantic feelings that Henry has for Grace were an important part of the story but not the focal point here. Grace and Henry both have their issues and maybe putting them together wasn’t the smartest idea but they were both able to help each other.  I feel like Grace taught Henry a lot and not so much Henry teaching Grace.  However, both Henry and Grace’s stories were really true to life and that’s what I loved about them.

Cons:

  • Grace: While I liked Grace, I didn’t feel like I really knew her.  The hardest thing for me was only ever seeing Grace through Henry’s eyes.  He didn’t always think great things about her and when he did, it was sometimes almost idealistic.  I wanted to know more about Grace from Grace’s perspective.  I feel like there was so much more to her character that I never really got to see.  I just couldn’t see her as a fully formed character while only getting Henry’s thoughts on her.

I also kinda want to add the ending to the cons list but I’m not going to because I think it’s just my thoughts influencing it.  I liked the ending, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not what I had hoped for.  I think it’s a great ending and such a realistic one but boy was that not what I wanted.

Overall, Our Chemical Hearts (I keep wanting to say My Chemical Heart. I’ve got My Chemical Romance on the brain.) is one that I think will really shock readers and make them think.  Like I said before, Rainbow Rowell/John Green fans will find this one right up their alley but I just love what Krystal Sutherland brought to the table.  I can’t wait to see what this Aussie author does next.

Overall reaction:

Be prepared for a little of this or maybe a lot!

What others are saying about Our Chemical Hearts:

Mollie The Reader’s review: “Overall, Our Chemical Hearts was a unique, fast paced and quirky read, I would really recommend this to those that love John Green (to be honest its heaps better than his books oOPS DONT HURT ME) and also to those that love quirky characters with a really deep and meaningful plot.”

The Innocent Smiley’s review: “Although I do believe that fans of John Green would love this, it’s the opposite of a John Green novel. It is everything you expect it not to be.”

Favorite Quotes

While I could go on and on, I really don’t want to overwhelm you, so have just a couple favorite quotes from me!  I wanted to include Henry’s humor since Our Chemical Hearts really isn’t quite as heavy as I made it out to be but I couldn’t pass up the quote about love either.  It’s so gorgeous!

(All quotes are from the ARC and could differ slightly in final versions.)

“You could say I looked something like a male Summer Glau crossed with Severus Snape. Subtract the hook nose, add in some dimples, and hey presto: the perfect recipe for one Henry Issac Page.”

“You know I’ve made it through seventeen years of my life without being peer pressured? My parents warned me about it in elementary school, but I never experienced it. I was starting to believe it was a myth. And, like, it’s a really accurate description of what it is. I’m feeling very pressured by my peer right now.”

The greatest love story ever told doesn’t have to be about two people who spent their whole lives together. It might be about a love that lasted two weeks or two months or two years, but burned brighter and hotter and more brilliantly than any other love before or after. Don’t mourn a failed love; there’s no such thing. All love is equal in the brain.”

Monday, September 12, 2016

99 Days by Katie Cotugno | Review

99 Days by Katie Cotugno | Review99 Days by Katie Cotugno
Published by Balzer + Bray on April 21st 2015
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 384
Format: Hardcover
Source: BEA
Goodreads
2 Stars

Day 1: Julia Donnelly eggs my house my first night back in Star Lake, and that’s how I know everyone still remembers everything—how I destroyed my relationship with Patrick the night everything happened with his brother, Gabe. How I wrecked their whole family. Now I’m serving out my summer like a jail sentence: Just ninety-nine days till I can leave for college, and be done.

Day 4: A nasty note on my windshield makes it clear Julia isn’t finished. I’m expecting a fight when someone taps me on the shoulder, but it’s just Gabe, home from college and actually happy to see me. “For what it’s worth, Molly Barlow,” he says, “I’m really glad you’re back.”

Day 12: Gabe got me to come to this party, and I’m actually having fun. I think he’s about to kiss me—and that’s when I see Patrick. My Patrick, who’s supposed to be clear across the country. My Patrick, who’s never going to forgive me.

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I can’t even begin to tell you how much I wanted to love this book.  Katie Cotugno’s debut novel, How To Love, is on my favorites shelf.  I adored everything about it.  I put off reading 99 Days because I was saving it for a day when I needed a really good book to read.  I definitely set my expectations way too high for this one.

Pros:

  • Pacing: I read this book in just over two sittings.  While there may not have been many things I liked about it, at least I was able to power through it.  It’s an extremely quick read that is paced just right.  The book takes place over 99 days (I bet you never would have guessed that) and those 99 days seem to fly by for both the reader and Molly.  A lot happens throughout the course of the book and I never felt like the story got too slow or lagged.  I also liked that the flashbacks Molly had from her relationship with Patrick were woven into the story.  I feel like it would have bogged things down if the chapters alternated between past and present so I appreciated that.
  • Romance: The romance between Molly and Gabe was super cute and I loved Gabe.  Yes, even at the end when things came out about him, I still liked him.  I felt like he was good to Molly and good for her.  He wasn’t always an angel but he was never really a bad person.  He was sweet and super hung up on Molly.  He made her happy and he looked out for her.  The start to their relationship may not have been the best thing but I didn’t think it was all that bad.  I wanted to see him and Molly get a happy ending together.
  • Characters: 99 Days had a pretty even mix of characters that I loved and characters that I hated.  Gabe was on the list right in the middle since I liked him but had issues with him too.  My list of characters that I loved contained two awesome females, Imogen and Tess.  Imogen was Molly’s friend before everything went down and she would have been Molly’s friend after, if Molly hadn’t run away.  She wasn’t willing to just overlook things when Molly came back but she was willing to move past them and let Molly earn her forgiveness.  Then there was Tess.  Tess was Patrick’s new girlfriend.  She didn’t know Molly before everything happened but she wasn’t willing to judge her without getting to know her.  They became friends and Tess was always there for Molly.  Tess and Imogen knew what it was to be a good friend.

Cons:

  • Characters: The list of characters that I hated makes me want to rant.  Let’s start with Molly.  That girl had some serious issues.  She was so extremely selfish.  I don’t blame her for what she did with Gabe when Patrick broke up with her.  Patrick broke up with her!  They were not together when she slept with his brother.  Yeah, it wasn’t really classy but as I read more about Molly and Gabe, I could see that they really cared for each other and I could get over that.  It was everything else Molly did that bothered me.  She was jealous of Tess even though she was the one who ruined things with Patrick and was dating his brother.  She clearly wanted what she couldn’t have and she was willing to do whatever it took to get it.  She threw Tess under the bus and took what she wanted from Patrick.  She didn’t even think about Gabe while she screwed him over and yet she claimed to be falling in love with him.  Then there was Patrick.  He was a jerk and I honestly couldn’t see what Molly ever saw in him.  He treated her like crap and she kept crawling back to him.  Oh and don’t let me forget Patrick’s twin, Julia.  Julia was supposedly Molly’s best friend but she was the first to slut shame Molly for what she did with Gabe.  I understand that family comes first but that’s no reason to act like Julia did.  And then there is Molly’s mom who was the one who outed Molly’s night with Gabe, not just to Patrick but to the whole world.  Her mom wrote a bestselling novel based on Molly’s love life torn between Patrick and Gabe.  Then she went and told everyone that it was based on her daughter.  Who does that?
  • Cheating: I can sometimes look past cheating in books and still be able to enjoy the book but not this time around.  Molly had no sense of morals when it came to cheating.  She just kept doing it, over and over again.  Sure she’d feel bad about it later but that didn’t do anybody any good then.  Too little, too late.  I don’t want to get into this too much because it is very much a spoiler but just know that it was really bad.
  • Ending: The ending is very similar to Katie Cotugno’s debut, How To Love, in that it’s up in the air.  It’s pretty much up to the reader to decide what comes next for Molly and the boys in her life.  I wanted some concrete answers and I know Katie Cotugno has said there is always the possibility of a sequel but that’s not what I want.  I just want to know exactly how things ended for Molly and all of the Donnellys and it doesn’t look like I’ll get that.

Overall, 99 Days is not one I recommend reading.  Check out Katie Cotugno’s debut, How To Love, for sure, but let’s just pretend like this one didn’t happen.  I’m waiting on her third book so I can see if it will redeem her!

Overall reaction:

What others are saying about 99 Days:

The Perpetual Page-Turner’s review: “While on the surface this book might just seem like a romance with a love triangle between two brothers but it is SO much more than that.”

The Novel Hermit’s review: “99 Days seemed promising at first, but with a snap of a finger, the story turned boring and didn’t really resolve anything.”

Reading Lark’s review: “Overall, I loved watching Molly work through the ghosts of her past and start to make plans for a better future.”

Monday, August 29, 2016

Crow Mountain by Lucy Inglis | Review

Crow Mountain by Lucy Inglis | ReviewCrow Mountain by Lucy Inglis
Published by The Chicken House on May 31st 2016
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 414
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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3 Stars

A sweeping tale of love, legacy, and wilderness set between the present day and 1866 in the dramatic landscape of modern-day and territorial Montana.
While on a trip to Montana with her mom, British teen Hope meets local boy Cal Crow, a ranch hand. Caught in a freak accident, Hope and Cal take shelter in a cabin, where Hope makes a strange discovery in an abandoned diary. More than a hundred years earlier, another British girl -- Emily -- met a similar fate. Her rescuer, a horse trader named Nate. In this wild place, both girls learn what it means to survive and to fall in love, neither knowing that their fates are intimately entwined.

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Historical fiction has always been one of my favorite genres and it’s one that I feel does not get enough love.  I picked up Crow Moutain because it had been so long since I’d read anything historical fiction and this one seemed really unique.  I was definitely right about that.

Pros:

  • Story:  The story was the best thing Crow Mountain had going for it.  I lumped this into the historical fiction genre but it’s not only historical fiction.  The story alternates between present day Montana and 1866/67 Montana.  Since I felt there was more focus on the past than the present, I considered it historical fiction.  You could really classify it as both historical and contemporary. The story follows Hope/Cal in the present and Emily/Nate in the past.  Hope is spending some time in Montana with her mother while she does research on the land.  Cal is the son of the ranch owner they are staying with.  Emily is a young British girl traveling to San Francisco to meet her future husband.  Nate is a former soldier she briefly sees at one of the stops along the way.  When Emily’s coach crashes, Nate is there to rescue her.  However, he doesn’t return her to town so she can be on her way.  Instead he takes her home with him and teaches her the ways of the land.  Hope and Cal’s story is almost identical to Emily and Nate’s.  As Hope reads Emily’s journal she starts to see the similarities between the two stories and wonders if she discovered the journal for a reason.  Cal’s family has been feuding with the Hart family for centuries and it may be up to Emily and Cal to put an end to the feud before it kills any more people.
  • Characters:  To be completely honest, I liked Emily and Nate but Cal and Hope were a bit lacking, in my opinion. I’ll get to that part later though.  Emily and Nate were in an odd situation.  Emily didn’t know her future husband but she assumed she would be fine with him.  She was drawn to Nate from the moment she first saw him but that doesn’t mean she wanted to run away with him.  He essentially kidnapped her.  He didn’t force her to stay with him but he knew there was no way she could leave him.  She would have died in the wilderness on her own.  He used that to his advantage, that’s for sure.  He figured if he bided his time, she’d eventually come to love him.  I wouldn’t normally be okay with a situation like that but Nate was a good guy and he never took advantage of her.  He took care of her and he taught her how to take care of herself.  Emily was pretty helpless at first but Nate didn’t allow that for long.  It was easy to see that Emily really liked learning how to do things for herself.  She didn’t want to have to rely on Nate and eventually, she didn’t have to.
  • Romance: This is definitely one of those slow burn romances.  Emily and Nate are attracted to each other but they don’t act on it.  Rules were very different back in the 1800s and Emily was a proper lady.  She wasn’t sure she’d ever make it back to her fiance but she knew that if she did, she had to be pure.  She wanted to do what was right for her family and she wasn’t willing to risk that even though her feelings for Nate kept growing.  She also didn’t know anything about love or relations between men and women.  She was pretty clueless when it came to that so of course she wasn’t making any moves on Nate.  It was kind of adorable how awkward she was about it all.  As for Hope and Cal, they had a similar attraction but they knew they could act on it if they wanted.  There was an age difference between the two and Cal had lots of secrets from his past but that didn’t really slow them down all that much.  Their relationship moved a little too quickly for my tastes but I blame part of that on their situation.  It forced them to really get to know each other and in a really short period of time.

Cons:

  • Characters: Like I said, Hope and Cal didn’t hold as much appeal to me as Emily and Nate.  Hope was very sheltered and she could come across as kind of snobby.  Cal was blatantly rude to her at times.  While I felt like I could understand both of their issues, I would have been better with it if I felt like I knew them more.  Most of the book was set in the past and I felt like Hope and Cal’s stories sometimes got pushed aside.  I just didn’t feel the same connection to them as I did to Emily and Nate.
  • Ending:  The whole feud with the Hart family was not really explained very well and felt almost like an afterthought.  Everything tied together really nicely at the end but I felt like it just came out of nowhere.  I also felt like it was very rushed and some of the things were just not very believable.  It’s already a pretty long book so I understand why things needed to wrap up quickly but I would have liked a bit more backstory as far as how things got started between the Harts and the Crows.

Overall, Crow Mountain had things that could have been improved upon but was still an enjoyable read.  I loved that Lucy Inglis based a lot of it off of true events.   I’ll have to see what else she has written and look for more historical fiction from her in the future.

Overall reaction:

What others are saying about Crow Mountain:

The Review Diaries’ review: “A surprising read that really crept up on me when I least expected it with a beautiful love story woven through its pages.”

Daisy Chain Book Reviews’ review: “Crow Mountain is far from perfect, but it has drama, a wonderfully unusual setting, and a great story for fans who loved True Grit and The Next Together.”

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston | Review

Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston | ReviewExit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston
Published by Dutton Books for Young Readers on March 15th 2016
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 248
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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5 Stars

Veronica Mars meets William Shakespeare in E.K. Johnston’s latest brave and unforgettable heroine.

Hermione Winters is captain of her cheerleading team, and in tiny Palermo Heights, this doesn’t mean what you think it means. At PHHS, the cheerleaders don't cheer for the sports teams; they are the sports team—the pride and joy of a tiny town. The team's summer training camp is Hermione's last and marks the beginning of the end of…she’s not sure what. She does know this season could make her a legend. But during a camp party, someone slips something in her drink. And it all goes black.

In every class, there's a star cheerleader and a pariah pregnant girl. They're never supposed to be the same person. Hermione struggles to regain the control she's always had and faces a wrenching decision about how to move on. The assault wasn't the beginning of Hermione Winter's story and she's not going to let it be the end. She won’t be anyone’s cautionary tale.

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I finished Exit, Pursued by a Bear a few days ago but I haven’t been able to properly put my thoughts into words.  I still can’t really do that but I’m going to try.

Trigger warning: As noted in the synopsis, this book deals with rape and teen pregnancy.  If those aren’t things you can handle reading about, this book is not for you.

Pros:

  • Characters:  If I had all the time in the world and I thought you guys would read a breakdown of each and every character in this book, I would give you one.  That would take so long though so I’m just going to focus on some of the key players and their strengths and weaknesses.  Hermione is obviously the most important person in Exit, Pursued by a Bear.  She is the captain of her school’s cheerleaders and she is a pretty popular girl at her school.  She’s still very down to earth though.  She knows what people think about cheerleaders and she is there to prove them all wrong. She’s smart and funny and amazingly strong.  She doesn’t just want to be another statistic but she also doesn’t want her rape and pregnancy to define who she becomes.  With the help of her family and friends, she’s willing to do what it takes to get the guy but also move on.  Her family is a huge help but it’s her best friend, Polly, who really helps her through.  Hermione and Polly are best friend goals.  They love and support each other through everything.  When Hermione can’t be strong, she has Polly.  Same goes for Polly.  The two of them love each other unconditionally.  It’s not often you see friendships like theirs portrayed in YA books but I loved seeing it.  And right now I can’t think of his name but I adored Hermione’s psychiatrist.  He was exactly what she needed.  He helped her feel like even though everything was wrong in her life, she wasn’t doing anything wrong and she was on the path to where she needed to be.  You could see that he really wanted to help her.
  • Story: I knew going in that this would be a tough story to read and I was right.  I cried so many times.  I’m glad I read it though.  Not only is Hermione raped, everyone knows about it.  It happens at cheer camp and quickly spreads around school and their small town.  She has no choice but to be faced with peoples’ pity.  She knows that she could let this be the moment that defines who she is or she can find a way to make herself known for something else, something good.  When she finds out she’s pregnant, it makes things even more difficult for her.  She never lets this stop her though.  She still cheers, gets good grades, and focuses on her future.  E.K. Johnston showed a very different side of the story than I ever expected and it showed that a terrible event doesn’t have to be the defining moment of your life.
  • Romance:  I’m just briefly going to mention this because there wasn’t much romance in Exit, Pursued by a Bear.  At the start of the book Hermione is dating fellow cheerleader, Leo, but that doesn’t last and I was happy about that.  They were not good for each other.  After the rape, Hermione is a little hesitant to have anything to do with boys her own age.  She puts up with it for cheerleading but that’s pretty much all she is doing.  However, Dion, a fellow cheerleader, is the only boy who really makes Hermione feel safe and like she might be okay with guys in the future.  Their friendship and possible romance is sweet and perfect for the story.

Overall, Exit, Pursued by a Bear is going to the top of my highly recommended list.  I know my review doesn’t even come close to doing it justice but take my word, you should read it.

Overall reaction:

 

What others are saying about Exit, Pursued by a Bear:

The Book Wars’ review: “In Exit, Pursued by a Bear, we see how the truth loses none of its potency when surrounded by people who are willing to trust in it. Highly, highly recommended!”

Pretty Deadly Reviews’ review: “This is a very different, very uplifting story about a girl coming to terms with being raped, and it is a necessary voice in a world telling girls they don’t own themselves.”

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.”