Saturday, April 25, 2015

Review - Beautiful Stranger (Beautiful Bastard #2) by Christina Lauren


 
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Beautiful Stranger (Beautiful Bastard #2)

by Christina Lauren
 
Summary: Escaping a cheating ex, finance whiz Sara Dillon’s moved to New York City and is looking for excitement and passion without a lot of strings attached. So meeting the irresistible, sexy Brit at a dance club should have meant nothing more than a night’s fun. But the manner—and speed—with which he melts her inhibitions turns him from a one-time hookup and into her Beautiful Stranger.
The whole city knows that Max Stella loves women, not that he’s ever found one he particularly wants to keep around. Despite pulling in plenty with his Wall Street bad boy charm, it’s not until Sara—and the wild photos she lets him take of her—that he starts wondering if there’s someone for him outside of the bedroom.
Hooking up in places where anybody could catch them, the only thing scarier for Sara than getting caught in public is having Max get too close in private.


Source: I purchased a Kindle copy

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Review:

I liked Max a lot. He was nonchalant, nice, and refreshing. I kind of hate stuffy billionaires and I have no idea why I keep picking up these terrible books, but Max didn’t fit the stuffy billionaire mold quite like the other leading guys of this genre.

I like books like these to have a good storyline, but what I liked about Beautiful Bastard was that it was to the point. I think Beautiful Stranger had a great plot and I liked the chemistry between Max and Sara, but it started to get redundant. I don’t know.

I’m starting to think that I should just stop reading these types of books. Max was cool, his relationship was Sara was all taboo and the stuff of fantasies, what with the photos and the sex near/in public and I get that a lot of people have these fantasies. But to build an actual romance around it just gets dumb to me. There’s always unnecessary conflict and miscommunication and I’m not impressed when I know that they will fall in love, have a fight, and then get back together.

When it comes to this type of fiction, I read the first books and that’s it. Maybe my problem stems from the fact that this isn’t the first and it’s essentially the same type of story as all of the others, as the first book, with different characters and fetishes.

Don’t take my word for it. I have no business reading these kinds of books. I like steamy romance, but I just can’t do the unnecessary conflicts and the jumping into bed and falling in love kind of storylines without any substance.

3%2520star

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As with Bared to You, if I were to compare this to Fifty Shades, it would have 5 stars. These types of books aren’t good, but at least these are fairly well written and not annoying. I maintain that Fifty Shades is the worst. I have no idea why similar books keep popping up left and right, and while that’s aggravating, I am also glad because all of them are a million times better than Fifty Shades. If people are reading smut, they deserve for it to be written better.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Review–Bared to You (Crossfire #1) by Sylvia Day



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Bared to You (Crossfire #1)
 
by Sylvia Day
 
Summary: Gideon Cross came into my life like lightning in the darkness… He was beautiful and brilliant, jagged and white-hot. I was drawn to him as I’d never been to anything or anyone in my life. I craved his touch like a drug, even knowing it would weaken me. I was flawed and damaged, and he opened those cracks in me so easily…
Gideon knew. He had demons of his own. And we would become the mirrors that reflected each other’s most private wounds…and desires.The bonds of his love transformed me, even as i prayed that the torment of our pasts didn't tear us apart...


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Source: I purchased a Kindle copy

Review:

Bared to You is very much like 50 Shades in all of the ways that people will like (if you’re into that sort of thing) without so many of the things that make 50 Shades the worst book on the planet. Bared to You is another billionaire suit-and-tie romance with dark edges and a ton of sex, but without the lip biting idiocy of Anastasia Steele and terrible writing. For what it is, Bared to You wasn’t badly written at all. Yes, there are moments where the plot makes no sense, but I find that with ANY rich guy and plain girl romance these days and I don’t think people read these in order to have their brains exposed to rich storytelling. I think most people lean towards historical and paranormal romance for that.

I actually liked Eva for much of the book because she actually said no, had no problems walking away from Gideon multiple times, and wasn’t afraid to tell him that she wasn’t a tool to be used. At the beginning, Eva shocked me by being so adamant about not sleeping with someone she was so incredibly attracted to. I’m used to my heroines in these books turning into puddles that still somehow bite their lips.

I liked Gideon, too. Sure, he was all polished and perfect, but as soon as Eva walked out on him, he wasn’t afraid to be sensitive and emotional and beg her for another chance and apologize for fucking up. I’m used to the billionaires being gigantic assholes nearly all of the novel, so that was a nice change of pace.

Honestly, despite the fast paced, jumping-into-bed, lust = love kind of plot, Bared to You was kind of refreshing at first. But then the constant issues started. Jealousy, sexual abuse, miscommunication, unnecessary drama, other women, etc.. it was so much in a very short amount of time. Towards the end, I started to feel like they needed to just get over themselves. Eva once impressed me by walking away, but then that became her thing and then Gideon kept getting all upset about how he fucked up again and they both just got on my nerves.

I think if you read these books often and like them, Bared to You is one of the better ones. But as good as it was, it wasn’t good enough to redeem the genre.


3%2520star
 
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If I were to compare this to Fifty Shades, it would have 5 stars. These types of books aren’t good, but at least these are fairly well written and not annoying. I maintain that Fifty Shades is the worst. I have no idea why similar books keep popping up left and right, and while that’s aggravating, I am also glad because all of them are a million times better than Fifty Shades. If people are reading smut, they deserve for the smut to be written better.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Review–Salem Falls by Jodi Picoult

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Salem Falls

by Jodi Picoult
 
Summary: Love can redeem a man...but secrets and lies can condemn him.
A handsome stranger comes to the sleepy New England town of Salem Falls in hopes of burying his past: Once a teacher at a girls' prep school, Jack St. Bride was destroyed when a student's crush sparked a powder keg of accusation. Now, washing dishes for Addie Peabody at the Do-Or-Diner, he slips quietly into his new routine, and Addie finds this unassuming man fitting easily inside her heart. But amid the rustic calm of Salem Falls, a quartet of teenage girls harbor dark secrets -- and they maliciously target Jack with a shattering allegation. Now, at the center of a modern-day witch hunt, Jack is forced once again to proclaim his innocence: to a town searching for answers, to a justice system where truth becomes a slippery concept written in shades of gray, and to the woman who has come to love him.


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Source: I purchased a paperback

Review:

I think I would have given Salem Falls 5 stars if I hadn’t read it right after The Pact. I did, so all I have done is compare them and come to the conclusion that Jodi Picoult novels leave me feeling vaguely frustrated and empty for some reason. I don’t know if it’s the way the story is told or what. She’s a great author and her books are thought provoking and captivating, but I hate certain aspects of them, I guess.

Salem Falls is told from multiple points of view and takes place after Jack was released from jail. Some sections go back to the past before he was convicted so that we get an overall picture of what happened. Jack and Addie immediately fall into a relationship, despite the fact that he never told her what happened. And before he could really say anything, people in town found out about his prior conviction and started harassing him. And one of particularly bad night, he ended up where he was in the first place, accused of sexual assault.

I didn’t like Jack. I understood he was innocent (at least of the first accusation). I understood he was a teacher at an all girl’s school and things happened that he couldn’t get out of. But he was an idiot. He didn’t successfully distance himself like any male teacher should have known to do. And when he realized his student had a crush, he should have taken better measures to distance himself before something bad happened. It was frustrating. And then to have him end up in the wrong place at the wrong time in Salem Falls just made me want the jury to convict him so he’d never wind up in trouble again. If people in town are actively harassing you about a sexual assault conviction, you should probably not get drunk and wander around aimlessly. I just wanted to punch him for being so stupid. Even his interactions with Gillian, where she was actively coming on to him in public, he should have told someone in the diner about so that if she did it again, someone would think to notice. A man who spend 8 months in jail should have known the power in having people on your side. I thought he might have been guilty, but then I thought there was no way. I didn’t know. I mean, what are the odds that another teenager girl would lie about it? This can’t be a real thing that happens to one person all of the time. I mean, is he somehow godlike in the looks department? Seriously.

I didn’t like Jack and Addie’s relationship. It felt physical to me. It happened really fast. And I don’t feel like they shared enough information and talked enough to have fallen in love so quickly. It became clear once Jack was accused of yet another sexual assault and Addie questioned his innocence that they obviously didn’t know each other very well. The synopsis made it seem like they had a real connection and relationship and I never really got that from them.

Despite my feelings of Jack or Addie, I enjoyed the novel. I liked that Jordan McAfee had a role in the story because I liked him in The Pact, too. His relationship with his son was great, too. I enjoyed his private investigator and getting more of their story. It was clear that the teenage girls in the story had their own problems and Gillian was a trouble maker. I liked unraveling that particular mystery. They dabbled in the occult, claiming to be Wiccans, but no one besides the occult store owner really knew about it. The trial and gathering of evidence was interesting to read about and I never knew what the jury would decide. For much of the story, I even wondered if Jack was guilty. I liked not knowing and being pushed and pulled in multiple directions.

While I enjoyed the mystery, the trial, and not really knowing what happened, it bothers me often that Picoult doesn’t give readers the truth, especially not right away. It would be easier to root for the defense or the prosecution if I knew who was right. But then again, I know that she writes her books that way for a reason. Almost every courtroom drama has a right and wrong side. Real life, however, is different. We don’t know. We throw our eggs into the basket that makes the most sense for us, but we could be wrong. I like the challenge, but it was frustrating and unfulfilling sometimes. However, Salem Falls was much more satisfying than The Pact to me because we eventually got to the bottom of the mystery.

 I enjoyed Salem Falls and will certainly read more of Picoult in the future. However, it’s clear that it’s NOT a good idea to read them back to back, so I’m taking a bit of a break. I’m shocked that it took me so long to finally read her books. I always assumed she was some chick lit author who wrote light romances with suspense or mystery added in. She writes great fiction that is thought provoking, complicating, and moving.

 4%2520star 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Review–The Pact: A Love Story by Jodi Picoult


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The Pact: A Love Story
 
by Jodi Picoult
 
Summary: For eighteen years the Hartes and the Golds have lived next door to each other, sharing everything from Chinese food to chicken pox to carpool duty-- they've grown so close it seems they have always been a part of each other's lives. Parents and children alike have been best friends, so it's no surprise that in high school Chris and Emily's friendship blossoms into something more. They've been soul mates since they were born.
So when midnight calls from the hospital come in, no one is ready for the appalling truth: Emily is dead at seventeen from a gunshot wound to the head. There's a single unspent bullet in the gun that Chris took from his father's cabinet-- a bullet that Chris tells police he intended for himself. But a local detective has doubts about the suicide pact that Chris has described.


Source: I purchased a paperback

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Review:

I’ve only read one other Jodi Picoult novel and I enjoyed it, finding it much better written than the light chick-lit I was expecting. So I brought home a stack of her books from the used bookstore that sounded promising and started with The Pact.

The Pact was a good story, but not the story I wanted or expected. I know that sounds strange. I feel conflicted, frustrated, and empty after reading it because, while it gave me a story full of secrets and drama, it left so many doors unopened. Chris and Emily had been together since childhood and when she was found shot in the head, Chris blamed it on a suicide pact. Later, he was tried for murder. The story was told in the present with bits and pieces from before the murder/suicide, along with bits from the past when Chris and Emily were kids.

 I felt like I got a decent glimpse of the parents as they forged their friendships and had Chris and Emily. I felt like I got a pretty good account of what was happening with Chris in the present. But aside from those two storylines, I felt like the rest of the story was full of holes and blind spots and I wasn’t given enough information. The book was written in third person and featured nearly all of the characters, but I never got inside everyone’s heads and the storyline called for a more introspective narrative.

The relationships and friendships in the story were crazy and twisted. Chris and Emily were a strange couple because they had hardly any memories apart from each other. Chris went from viewing her as a sister type to seeing her as a woman and fell madly in love. For Emily, things were a bit different, but I know she felt connected to Chris on a deep level. While everyone else saw a mature and perfect couple, I felt like they were terrible and thrown together by circumstance. It’s not like they could part and ever get away from each other. They’d disappoint so many people. And that fact had to be part of Emily’s problem. It almost felt like they were one giant family up until Emily died.

Mostly, Emily annoyed me. I never understood why she wanted to kill herself. There were things that happened to her that had something to do with her not liking her life, but I feel like she either came from a family that communicated enough for her to have told someone at one point or she would have acted less well adjusted and her family would have noticed. I just never bought that no one except Chris knew about it or weren’t surprised. I can’t believe that the nurse wouldn’t have asked more questions after her reaction at the clinic, either, to uncover Emily’s state of mind. Emily’s character frustrated me so much and I don’t know if I have a legitimate complaint about her character or if I just hate that she died and never got any help or closure or anything.

I feel torn because the novel rings true in many ways. We don’t know the motivations of people around us. People change in an instant. We don’t know the truth. We pick sides without really knowing the whole story. These are all things that happened in the novel. And I enjoy it when books don’t necessarily wrap up stories in one nice and neat bow, so I’m not sure why I’m vaguely frustrated by the story.

I think my frustrations are the same frustrations I have with young, terrible love. The adult in me wants to scream at Emily and slap Chris for not saying anything or doing anything and for not thinking about the consequences of his actions. It makes no sense! But I think The Pact is a love story in the same way that Romeo and Juliet is.. which is to say, it's not, really. It's a cautionary tale about the issues with young people, serious issues, and glorified view of suicide. It's immature. I wanted the author to fix the problems or at least shine some light on the issues at the end and I think that's why I was frustrated. She didn't do those things. But here I am writing my review a week later and still struggling and thinking about the issues, which means that it must have been pretty thought provoking and moving.

I definitely recommend reading it. It was thought provoking, descriptive, and engrossing. I plan to read more of her books, as I enjoy her writing style.

 4%2520star

Friday, April 17, 2015

Feature and Follow Friday




Here is €/£/$100,000. Buy something. Anything at all! What would be the first thing you choose, and why?

I would probably pay off my last remaining debts, build a new long range rifle with my husband, and buy lots of bookshelves and books to go on them. 

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Review–Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks

Safe Haven media tie-in

Safe Haven
 
by Nicholas Sparks
 
Summary: Love hurts. There is nothing as painful as heartbreak. But in order to learn to love again, you must learn to trust again.
When a mysterious young woman named Katie appears in the small North Carolina town of Southport, her sudden arrival raises questions about her past. Beautiful yet self-effacing, Katie seems determined to avoid forming personal ties until a series of events draws her into two reluctant relationships: one with Alex, a widowed store owner with a kind heart and two young children; and another with her plainspoken single neighbor, Jo. Despite her reservations, Katie slowly begins to let down her guard, putting down roots in the close-knit community and becoming increasingly attached to Alex and his family.
But even as Katie begins to fall in love, she struggles with the dark secret that still haunts and terrifies her . . . a past that set her on a fearful, shattering journey across the country, to the sheltered oasis of Southport. With Jo’s empathic and stubborn support, Katie eventually realizes that she must choose between a life of transient safety and one of riskier rewards . . . and that in the darkest hour, love is the only true safe haven.


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Source: I purchased a paperback

Review:

Nicholas Sparks is not my go to author typically. While I’ve enjoyed a few of his books, I’m typically mildly disappointed by the writing and overall execution of the story. Most of the time, I prefer the movie to the book. So I’m surprised by how much I enjoyed Safe Haven, even after seeing parts of the movie and totally spoiling the biggest twist for myself.

Safe Haven was great! It was pretty well written. It didn’t take long to get into the groove of the characters and understand who they were and what their motivations were. I liked Katie a lot and admired her for being so independent and brave. I thought Alex was a relaxed, laid back, and all around wonderful guy. He did a lot of things with his kids and his love of his setting made me appreciate the town of Southport. Watching Katie and Alex reluctantly fall for each other was sweet.

The romantic story in Safe Haven was captivating and wonderful, but it was not all there was to the story. In Safe Haven, Nicholas Sparks attempted something I’ve rarely seen from his novels. He created somewhat of a suspense situation by giving us the point of view of the person from Katie’s past. What he did with the character was awesome. Not only was on the edge of my seat towards the end of the novel, but his point of view was incredibly captivating. I loved the short and choppy thought processes he had as he struggled to merge the person he thought he was and who he thought Katie was with the person his anger created of both himself and Katie.

Nicholas Sparks often writes inspirational and spiritual romances. His frequent references to God and Christian principles can add a lot to his stories, but aren’t the things I necessarily look for and I find that his books can be a little strangely preachy as a result. So I was totally floored by the way he created a type of bad guy/villain who took Christian principles and Bible verses and twisted them in his screwed up mind to justify the way he acted and felt about certain behaviors. It was certainly not something I was expecting, but I really enjoyed the perspective. I thought it was refreshing and unique for Sparks to have a character who claimed to be a man of God and yet didn’t quite understand that his actions were the opposite of what any religious person would consider godly. I guess I just thought he’d always stick to the good stuff and I’m shocked and a bit impressed that he decided to take a different route.

There was a twist at the end that I enjoyed. I knew it was coming because I saw the end of the movie. I missed the beginning of the movie, so I was eager to see how the book would handle the situation and how it would do the twist. Some readers disliked the twist, but I enjoyed it and the letter at the end of the book and the movie made me tear up a little. The twist isn’t anything I believe could really happen, but I appreciate the whole full circle aspect of it and I thought it really brought the story together quite well. I recommend reading Safe Haven, even if you’re like me and don’t typically pick Nicholas Sparks books up to read. He has a few really good ones and this is one of them!

4%2520star

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Review–Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2) by Sarah J. Maas

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Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2)

by Sarah J. Maas
 
Summary: "A line that should never be crossed is about to be breached.
It puts this entire castle in jeopardy—and the life of your friend."

From the throne of glass rules a king with a fist of iron and a soul as black as pitch. Assassin Celaena Sardothien won a brutal contest to become his Champion. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown. She hides her secret vigilantly; she knows that the man she serves is bent on evil.
Keeping up the deadly charade becomes increasingly difficult when Celaena realizes she is not the only one seeking justice. As she tries to untangle the mysteries buried deep within the glass castle, her closest relationships suffer. It seems no one is above questioning her allegiances—not the Crown Prince Dorian; not Chaol, the Captain of the Guard; not even her best friend, Nehemia, a foreign princess with a rebel heart.
Then one terrible night, the secrets they have all been keeping lead to an unspeakable tragedy. As Celaena's world shatters, she will be forced to give up the very thing most precious to her and decide once and for all where her true loyalties lie...and whom she is ultimately willing to fight for.


Source: I purchased a Kindle copy

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Review:

Crown of Midnight was a spectacular sequel to Throne of Glass. It was even better than the first book as a lot of the mysteries of the world in the first book were unraveled. Celaena was no longer fighting for her place and her life, but balancing on a thin line trying to be the person she wanted to be while also doing the duties of the King’s Champion. Fortunately, she was the kind of person who could be brutal and terrifying when she needed to be.

Love, rebellion, duty, honor, magic, history, secrets, trust…. Celaena was in between two worlds and two missions: the king’s missions and those of Queen Elena. She attempted to figure out what Elena wanted her to do by questioning those she was sent to kill, speaking to a figure in the secret tunnels, visiting the library, and confiding in Princess Nehemia.

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Crown of Midnight was amazing and it had me on a roller coaster of emotions. So much happened and the fate of just about every character is hanging in the balance. Many secrets were uncovered and many impossibilities are now possible. It’s hard to talk about how I feel without spoiling moments!

I highly recommend the series and I thought the sequel was even better than the first book, which is always a good sign. I’m going to wait to read Heir of Fire because the next book comes out in the fall, but it’s going to be hard to wait to read either of them. I am enjoying the series and it is one of those I wish I’d bought in hardcover because I’d love to see them on my shelf!

 5%2520star 








Monday, April 13, 2015

Review–Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1) by Sarah J. Maas

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Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1)

by Sarah J. Maas
 
Summary: In a land without magic, where the king rules with an iron hand, an assassin is summoned to the castle. She comes not to kill the king, but to win her freedom. If she defeats twenty-three killers, thieves, and warriors in a competition, she is released from prison to serve as the king's champion. Her name is Celaena Sardothien.
The Crown Prince will provoke her. The Captain of the Guard will protect her. But something evil dwells in the castle of glass--and it's there to kill. When her competitors start dying one by one, Celaena's fight for freedom becomes a fight for survival, and a desperate quest to root out the evil before it destroys her world.


Source: I purchased a Kindle copy.

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Review:

Wow. Throne of Glass was awesome! It was the perfect book to reel me back into YA fantasy after finishing Red Queen and it definitely lived up to the hype and deserves to be recommended as often as I see. I loved it.

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Celaena was such a great character. She was fierce, scary, and also soft when she needed to be. She paid attention to so many details, but it was obvious that if her emotions were triggered, she could either make mistakes and be defeated or be so completely propelled by rage she was unstoppable. I liked her personality so much. She was fast friends with the princess of Elywe and wasn’t afraid to protect those she cared about. The only person who never saw her fierce opinions was the King and that was because there was something terrifying about him and she wanted him only to see her obey.

I liked Chaol, the Captain of the Guard, immediately. The Crown Prince, Dorian, slowly grew on me. Both men had honor and respected Celaena immensely. I enjoyed their interactions with her and the few passages from their perspective when I got to see how Celaena looked to them. Dorian got the most attention, but something about Chaol made me root for him the entire time. I hate to make it sound like there is a love triangle, but I think that this particular situation is one that even the haters of love triangles will appreciate.

 I liked that Throne of Glass didn’t contain one villain. Bad guys were everywhere. Celaena couldn’t trust anyone and it was a good thing she knew it. There were competitors in the competition who were terrible, but there was something about the world in general and the way that the King ruled that made me wonder what else there was to fear. The world is intriguing. While the novel was filled with conflict and resolution, there is still so much left to be resolved and figured out.

 I will definitely continue the series and I’m excited to find out what happens next! I highly recommend Throne of Glass. There’s a reason so many people have recommended it to me!

    5%2520star