Saturday, December 20, 2014

Review–Tampa by Alissa Nutting


by Alissa Nutting
Summary: Celeste Price is an eighth-grade English teacher in suburban Tampa. She's undeniably attractive. She drives a red Corvette with tinted windows. Her husband, Ford, is rich, square-jawed, and devoted to her.
But Celeste's devotion lies elsewhere. She has a singular sexual obsession—fourteen-year-old boys. Celeste pursues her craving with sociopathic meticulousness and forethought; her sole purpose in becoming a teacher is to fulfill her passion and provide her access to her compulsion. As the novel opens, fall semester at Jefferson Jr. High is beginning.
In mere weeks, Celeste has chosen and lured the lusciously naive Jack Patrick into her web. Jack is enthralled and in awe of his teacher, and, most important, willing to accept Celeste's terms for a secret relationship—car rides after school; rendezvous at Jack's house while his single father works late; body-slamming encounters in Celeste's empty classroom between periods.
Ever mindful of the danger—the perpetual risk of exposure, Jack's father's own attraction to her, and the ticking clock as Jack leaves innocent boyhood behind—the hyperbolically insatiable Celeste bypasses each hurdle with swift thinking and shameless determination, even when the solutions involve greater misdeeds than the affair itself. In slaking her sexual thirst, Celeste Price is remorseless and deviously free of hesitation, a monstress driven by pure motivation. She deceives everyone, and cares nothing for anyone or anything but her own pleasure.
With crackling, rampantly unadulterated prose, Tampa is a grand, uncompromising, seriocomic examination of want and a scorching literary debut.

Source: I purchased a Kindle copy. 

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Hmm. How do I talk about this book?

If you can make it through the beginning of the book, you’ll probably be able to get through the rest of it. Maybe.

See, the thing is.. I’m not easily offended, grossed out, horrified, or taken aback. Throw the most grotesque prose at me and I’m loving it.

But Tampa was almost too much.

It didn’t just push the limits of my comfort zone, it repeatedly punched my comfort zone in the face and I could either adapt and continue reading or stop, utterly horrified. I opted to continue. It was often hard to do so. Parts of the novel are so detailed and vulgar, actively describing the act of sex. That's nothing new to readers of any kind of dertailed romance novel or erotica, but it's not something you often experience with literary fiction and it's definitely NEVER involving an adult with a child. So, it's obviously not comfortable at all.

Tampa took you into the mind of Celeste, a 26 year old beautiful middle school teacher who lusts after her students. I knew what the book was about when I started reading, but I don’t think I was prepared for Celeste. She didn’t lust after teen boys in the way that I was expecting. I guess I expected her to be unhappy in her marriage and go after some guys who gave her attention and weren’t super young or boyish. But I was wrong. Celeste was literally obsessed with her sick desires and addicted to it. She broke every stereotype you could have ever had about women who sleep with underage kids. We've all heard about things like that happening, but I think most of us probably thought there was always some reason, some emotional reason, and we never really associate it with the same type of illness and wrongness that we do with adult males sleeping with underage kids.

Reading Tampa took me into her sick thoughts and shocked me absolutely. I was not expecting that. I almost put it down because, while I was flying through the pages, I was disgusted by every action, every thought she had, and the way she obsessed. How could I possibly enjoy reading this? It tested my limits. But it was well written and Celeste’s obsession had a certain pull to it. Would she find a boy? Would she succeed in her quest to bed him? Would she get caught? What would happen? I was intrigued.  Tampa was horrifying, sick, and was remarkable in the sense that it displayed the mind of a pedophile so well. Never in a million years would I have expected the narrator to have thought those terrible thoughts, been so driven, and so vulgar.

It was ground breaking and I was shocked at the way it handed and the attitudes of the characters in the book. It brings up some very interesting points about beauty and gender and the way we view pretty women and what we will let them get away with. I even admit that had Tampa been about a male teacher lusting after female students, I would have probably thrown it across the room out of disgust and I don’t think it would have ever been published in the first place. I also admit that when I first started, I never expected a woman to be quite so vulgar and crave so many lurid things and be vocal about those cravings. But that’s how we look at the issue of sex in general and I think that’s partly the point and why Tampa was so incredibly vulgar. While I get that Tampa was vulgar to make a point, I also think it's ridiculous that it was allowed to be when that would never be allowed had Celeste been a male character. I also feel like some of the obsession was over the top and unbelievable, but then I wonder if that's because of my preconceived notions are about women and sex. Is my brain telling me that women can't be vulgar and obsessed with sex or is that really not so far off with sex criminals? Part of Tampa's allure and success is because it makes you ask those kinds of questions and second guess yourself.

I would not recommend this book to anyone, but that is simply because I don’t want to put myself in a place where I’m telling someone to read something that will so completely push their boundaries. That is uncomfortable. Books like these are read on your own and are books that you’ve picked up yourself and essentially only have yourself to blame when it punches you in the face. I’m still disturbed by it, but I’m glad I read it and I love the questions it forces you to ask. Part of me wonders if the book really had to be so in your face and shocking, though. Could it have made similar points without going through Celeste’s detailed fantasies AND actions? Could it have just been a little less… OMG/TMI? And half of me says yes and the other half disagrees.


Friday, December 19, 2014

Review - The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf

The Weight of Silence
by Heather Gudenkauf

Summary: It happens quietly one August morning. As dawn's shimmering light drenches the humid Iowa air, two families awaken to find their little girls have gone missing in the night.
Seven-year-old Calli Clark is sweet, gentle, a dreamer who suffers from selective mutism brought on by tragedy that pulled her deep into silence as a toddler.
Calli's mother, Antonia, tried to be the best mother she could within the confines of marriage to a mostly absent, often angry husband. Now, though she denies that her husband could be involved in the possible abductions, she fears her decision to stay in her marriage has cost her more than her daughter's voice.
Petra Gregory is Calli's best friend, her soul mate and her voice. But neither Petra nor Calli has been heard from since their disappearance was discovered. Desperate to find his child, Martin Gregory is forced to confront a side of himself he did not know existed beneath his intellectual, professorial demeanor.
Now these families are tied by the question of what happened to their children. And the answer is trapped in the silence of unspoken family secrets.

Source: I purchased a paperback from a used book store.

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The Weight of Silence was an interesting book. It was about two young girls who went missing one morning. Their disappearance, the backstory, and the search for them essentially unraveled a ton of secrets and connections between the families and townspeople involved.  

I was captivated by the characters and I kept turning the pages, eager to see what secrets would appear next. Not all was what it appeared to be. Calli was mute, but no one could figure out why. Petra was her best friend. Calli’s father was an alcoholic, her mother had some sort of past connection to another person in town and it was just a big giant mess from there. I loved it!  

I love books that take small town characters and pretenses and blow holes in the sweet and perfect exterior that the town and the people living in them hide behind. The Weight of Silence did a good job at exposing some of the characters and showing how seemingly unrelated events mattered in the grand scheme of things.  

The Weight of Silence was a quick read for me and I loved the way it all ended. It was enjoyable and I definitely recommend it to fans of contemporary fiction. It wasn’t quite as hard hitting or shocking as I initially expected, but I found that I enjoyed reading it, went through it pretty quickly, and liked it overall, so I would recommend it.


Thursday, December 18, 2014

Review–The Darkest Whisper (Lords of the Underworld #4) by Gena Showalter


The Darkest Whisper (Lords of the Underworld #4)
by Gena Showalter
Summary: New York Times bestselling sensation Gena Showalter returns with her long-awaited next installment of the Lords of the Underworld series…
He is the keeper of Doubt and his entire world’s about to be rocked.
Bound by the demon of Doubt, Sabin unintentionally destroys even the most confident of lovers. So the immortal warrior spends his time on the battlefield instead of the bedroom, victory his only concern…until he meets Gwendolyn the Timid. One taste of the beautiful redhead, and he craves more.
Gwen, an immortal herself, always thought she’d fall for a kind human who wouldn’t rouse her darker side. But when Sabin frees her from prison, battling their enemies for the claim to Pandora’s box turns out to be nothing compared to the battle Sabin and Gwen will wage against love…

Source: I purchased a Kindle copy.

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I really like the Lords of the Underworld series. I stopped reading after the first three because the pairing up of all of the warriors was getting kind of old, but it wasn’t long before the mood struck me and I picked up book four. 

The Darkest Whisper was about Sabin, the keeper of Doubt. I liked him and I thought his demon was interesting. It was certainly less volatile than the other guys, but more sinister in many ways because it isn’t obvious and in your face. How would a woman ever get used to or be okay with the voice of Doubt creeping into her thoughts, telling her she isn’t good enough? My favorite part about these books is seeing what kind of woman handles the demon inside of the warriors. They all handle it in different ways and I was intrigued by who would steal Sabin’s heart.

Gwen was initially unlikeable and way too timid. How would a timid girl who already second guesses herself ever be a good match for doubt? This was where Showalter surprised me. I loved the way Gwen’s backstory, personality, and history came about. Gwen was far from human and learning to control and embrace her Harpy was what ultimately made her a good fit for Sabin. I loved watching the two of them fall in love and fight together and they may be my favorite couple yet.

I know I’m not alone in being incredibly intrigued by Gideon. He was initially annoying and I would’ve said without a doubt he was the worst and most useless character, but that was before Showalter let me glimpse inside of his head. I want to know more about him and I hope he will eventually be paired up with someone who will fit well with him. I was also intrigued by Torin, Paris, and Aeron. Obviously, there are some things happening with all three of them that will probably be crucial to the plot some later time. Their storylines are interesting.

 I think this is my favorite paranormal romance series. I’m usually not as intrigued and I don’t want to keep reading a series where each person gets their love story because it gets old and the overall plot doesn’t develop enough. But I’m loving the overall plot of Lords of the Underworld, the side plots of the other characters, as well as the romantic plot and pairing of one lord with some person who challenges and completes him. I highly recommend the series. I don’t think it should be a binge read, though, because it will get old. I like that I’ve decided to break it up and read one in between other books because it gives me something to go back to.


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Review–Silence (Hush, Hush #3) by Becca Fitzpatrick

Silence (Hush, Hush #3)
by Becca Fitzpatrick
Nora Grey can't remember the past five months of her life. After the initial shock of waking up in a cemetery and being told that she has been missing for weeks - with no one knowing where she was or who she was with - she tried to get her life back on track. Go to school, hang out with her best friend, Vee, and dodge mom's creepy new boyfriend.
But there is this voice in the back of her head, an idea that she can almost reach out and touch. Visions of angel wings and unearthly creatures that have nothing to do with the life she knows.
And this unshakable feeling that a part of her is missing.
Then Nora crosses paths with a sexy stranger, whom she feels a mesmerizing connection to. He seems to hold all the answers...and her heart. Every minute she spends with him grows more and more intense until she realizes she could be falling in love. Again.

Source: I purchased a Kindle copy.

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I have a love/hate relationship with this series. If you’re this far in the series, you can’t possibly expect the plot to ever make sense, Nora’s mom to ever really be a part of her life, or Nora to ever make logical decisions. I mean, we’ve all made it this far. We are reading this because it’s like watching a train wreck. I’ve got my popcorn, let’s see what Patch and Nora can get into next.
But, oh, how I love the drama. Nora lost her memory, is sleeping with the enemy (or her mom is, anyway), fell in love with Patch all over again, and found herself in the middle of terrible fallen angel conflict.

Are we not going to talk about Patch’s lack of ability to feel? Is that just not ever going to be a thing? No? Okay. Well I’ll just pretend he’s enjoying this. It was a little cringe-worthy waiting on Nora to relearn what we already knew. But it happened pretty fast and it gave her an excuse to be stupid and make bad decisions (like she needed one).

There’s something a little addicting about Nora and Patch, though, so I loved seeing them come together. While Nora still had a bit of second guessing/trust/relationship issues, she calmed down a lot from the previous book and I felt like I got to see them explore their relationship a little bit more.

I continue to recommend the series if a quick, terribly YA paranormal book sounds like it will curb your craving. It’s fun to read and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. I think I’m going to stop here because I really just don’t care about what happens anymore and I’d rather not spend 9 bucks to find out. But I may change my mind!


Sunday, December 14, 2014

Review–Crescendo (Hush, Hush #2) by Becca Fitzpatrick

Crescendo (Hush, Hush #2)
by Becca Fitzpatrick
Summary: Nora Grey's life is still far from perfect. Surviving an attempt on her life wasn't pleasant, but at least she got a guardian angel out of it. A mysterious, magnetic, gorgeous guardian angel. But despite his role in her life, Patch has been acting anything but angelic. He's more elusive than ever (if that's possible) and what's worse, he seems to be spending time with Nora's archenemy, Marcie Millar.
Nora would have hardly noticed Scott Parnell, an old family friend who has moved back to town, if Patch hadn't been acting so distant. Even with Scott's totally infuriating attitude, Nora finds herself drawn to him - despite her lingering feelings that he is hiding something.
If that weren't enough, Nora is haunted by images of her murdered father, and comes to question whether her Nephilim bloodline has anything to do with his death. Desperate to figure out what happened, she puts herself in increasingly dangerous situations to get the answer. But maybe some things are better left buried, because the truth could destroy everything - and everyone - she trusts.

Source: I purchased a Kindle copy.

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Crescendo was basically an insane roller coaster ride of emotions and angel craziness. I loved it, despite it being incredibly ridiculous almost the entire time.

Nora was a basket case. The problem when you fall head over heels for someone you know absolutely nothing about is that you know absolutely nothing about them. So, yeah, you don’t trust them very much. And the second Patch did anything weird or didn’t react in the way that Nora expected, she flipped the F out, went all crazy and yelled at him, and then second guessed all of her reactions. It was insane. But totally believable. Of course Nora would assume the worst. She’s a teenager and completely in love with a mysterious stranger and knows NOTHING about him.

So just when I was rolling my eyes and tempted to reach into the story to smack her upside the head, Patch started doing/saying some things that totally made Nora’s previously insane accusations kind of valid and then even I didn’t know if I could trust Patch. Even if he wasn’t doing anything wrong, why isn’t he explaining himself. Actually, WHY ISN’T ANYONE EXPLAINING ANYTHING. OH. MY. GOD. CAN WE JUST ALL HAVE A SIT DOWN DISCUSSION BECAUSE I CAN’T EVEN AND THINGS ARE GETTING INSANE! Aagh.

That was me for the entire book. I had to keep reading because I had no idea what would happen next. Was Nora being crazy? Was Patch not all that into her? Was it a little bit of both? Why is this other person involved? Alright, NOW I feel like he can’t possibly have any good excuses. But maybe he does. *throws hands in the air*

I mean, look at my status updates.


The end was interesting. Kind of predictable, but at that point I really didn’t know. It could have gone either way and I was basically suspecting everyone that Nora interacted with on a regular or even irregular basis. Including Patch.

Needless to say, Crescendo was fun to read, kind of stressful, and definitely satisfied my need for terrible YA romance. It is the series to read when you’re craving nothing but emotional nonsense and intriguing fallen angels.


Friday, December 12, 2014

Review–Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick


Hush, Hush (Hush, Hush #1)
by Becca Fitzpatrick

Romance was not part of Nora Grey's plan. She's never been particularly attracted to the boys at her school, no matter how hard her best friend, Vee, pushes them at her. Not until Patch comes along. With his easy smile and eyes that seem to see inside her, Patch draws Nora to him against her better judgment.
But after a series of terrifying encounters, Nora's not sure whom to trust. Patch seems to be everywhere she is and seems to know more about her than her closest friends. She can't decide whether she should fall into his arms or run and hide. And when she tries to seek some answers, she finds herself near a truth that is way more unsettling than anything Patch makes her feel.
For she is right in the middle of an ancient battle between the immortal and those that have fallen - and, when it comes to choosing sides, the wrong choice will cost Nora her life.

Source: I purchased a Kindle copy.

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I was definitely in the mood for a terrible YA romance, one of those guilty pleasure girl meets boy kind of paranormal romances. I wasn’t looking for earth shattering literature, just something fun, dark, and intriguing. Hush, Hush definitely fit the bill. I’ve had the book on my Kindle for what seems like 2 years. I’ve been meaning to read it and have been waiting to be in THIS mood. I wish I would have picked it up a long time ago.

I really enjoyed Hush, Hush. I liked Patch and how mysterious and intriguing he was. I liked Nora because she was quiet, smart, but demanded to know more. She sort of fought her own feelings instead of tumbling into them like a lot of YA romance heroines. I liked Nora’s best friend because she was crazy, loud, and kind of ridiculous. I think serious heroines need some comic relief and I definitely knew Patch wouldn’t be providing that.

Hush, Hush had it’s own problems with the leaps in logic, like Nora being a complete idiot despite the fact that she isn’t an idiot, the adults in the novel being strangely absent for important things, the involvement of police with insanely unbelievable dialogue, plot holes, insta-love/insta-attraction… but I mean, it IS a novel about a fallen angel who is attending high school. I wasn’t expecting to read a book where things had to make that much sense. I just kind of went with the flow.

I wish I would have read this instead of Fallen because it seems a lot less ridiculous than that series so far. I guess time will tell. But I definitely bought the second book.

I recommend it to anyone who is in the same kind of mood, but not to anyone who is looking for their next best-book-of-the-year kind of read.


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Review–The Darkest Passion (Lords of the Underworld #5) by Gena Showalter


The Darkest Passion (Lords of the Underworld #5)

by Gena Showalter

Summary: For weeks, the immortal warrior Aeron has sensed an invisible female presence. An angel-demon-assassin has been sent to kill him. Or has she? Olivia claims she fell from the heavens, giving up immortality because she couldn't bear to harm him. But trusting - and falling for - Olivia will endanger them all. So how has this mortal with the huge blue eyes already unleashed Aeron's darkest passion?
With an enemy hot on his trail and his faithful demon companion determined to remove Olivia from his life, Aeron is trapped between duty and consuming desire. Worse still, a new executioner has been sent to do the job Olivia wouldn't...

Source: I purchased a Kindle copy

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I am definitely enjoying the Lords of the Underworld series and I catch myself one-clicking the next book after a couple of days because I can’t wait to find out what happens next. But I will say that The Darkest Passion was not my favorite by any means. I liked Aeron in the first book, but he slowly became a character I didn’t care much about and I think Legion is stupid and annoying and I’m not really sure why anyone put up with her in the first place.

I was hoping this would be the story that would sway me the other way and make me love Aeron once I finally got a chance to get into his head. Sadly, I don’t like Aeron any more after reading this book. I didn’t like Oliva because she was terribly na├»ve and it got on my nerves a bit. I guess I just didn’t buy the whole premise of her watching him, assigned to kill him, and liking him so much she’d fall and choose that over her life in Heaven. Also, I’m not sure I really like the whole Heaven thing, either and what that added bit does to the Greek mythological beings I’ve already been introduced to.

I loved the other characters still and I enjoyed getting more of a glimpse into the mind of Gideon. I realize now that his lack of ability to tell the truth CAN be annoying when he’s trying to have a serious conversation. I’m not sure if I’m eager to see what happens with his story now that I’m fairly certain I’ve been introduced to the girl that he’s supposed to be with, but I’m sure Showalter will surprise me in some ways. I am happy to have read another book in the series and get new information, but I didn’t really care for the main characters and their love story as much as I’d hoped I would.

I recommend the series and the events in this book matter to the overall plot, so it’s definitely worth reading, but I wouldn’t go into it expecting it to top her other books in the series so far.