Sunday, March 29, 2015

Review–The Duff by Kody Keplinger


The Duff

by Kody Keplinger
Summary: Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper is cynical and loyal, and she doesn’t think she’s the prettiest of her friends by a long shot. She’s also way too smart to fall for the charms of man-slut and slimy school hottie Wesley Rush. In fact, Bianca hates him. And when he nicknames her “the Duff,” she throws her Coke in his face.
But things aren’t so great at home right now, and Bianca is desperate for a distraction. She ends up kissing Wesley. Worse, she likes it. Eager for escape, Bianca throws herself into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with him.

Until it all goes horribly awry. It turns out Wesley isn’t such a bad listener, and his life is pretty screwed up, too. Suddenly Bianca realizes with absolute horror that she’s falling for the guy she thought she hated more than anyone.

Source: I purchased a Kindle copy

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I loved The Duff. I loved Bianca the moment I started reading and realized that her cynical and sarcastic personality rules and isn’t something I see often enough in YA fiction. I bought the book after seeing a movie preview and thinking the same thing about Bianca’s character. I thought she was funny. The title threw me off because I tend to highly dislike characters with self esteem issues in fiction because they are usually overly critical of themselves and tend to tell the reader how many calories they are eating and how it makes them feel. (Can we please have some girls who love themselves, publishing industry?) I knew from the get-go that Bianca’s narration would be tolerable and she wasn’t about to get all angsty about food.

Basically, one of the hottest and biggest playboy from school decided to chat up Bianca and tell her she was The Duff. Designated Ugly Fat Friend. His plan was to chat her up and make a good impression on her hot friends. She was so disgusted, she threw a Coke in his face. Somehow, sometime later, she ended up kissing him and feeling terrible about it. He was such a jerk.

A lot of people hated Bianca, hated the fact that the characters had sex without love/marriage/romance, and hated the fact that Bianca would engage in a physical relationship with Wesley, shut her friends out, and keep her family drama (which was rather alarming) to herself. These are reasons I liked the story. Bianca acted like a teenager probably would. Teens are focused on themselves, the way they feel about things, and are shamed and confused when it comes to adult issues, despite attempting to navigate the adult world. Even adults act like that. We don’t always do the right thing. Sometimes, it works out.

Bianca kissed Wesley because he was honest. She didn’t have to impress him because he was a jerk and she hated him. He was honest about how he felt, which makes things so much easier sometimes. I totally understood why she chose to distract herself with someone like him, just like I knew that he was masking his own insecurities with his promiscuity and cavalier attitude. And when they got close enough to actually realize how much they had in common (like how they coped with things), I was rooting for the two of them so much!

The Duff kind of did what Mean Girls did in regards to names we call each other. Names like Duff, whore, slut, geek, etc were all things we call each other to make ourselves feel better. Despite the negativity and screwed up nature of things in the book, it had such a positive message overall. Some reviewers dislike the fact that Bianca would give anyone the time of day who treated her badly, but I really liked Wesley and I think if he knew how much the word Duff hurt Bianca, he never would have continued to use it as a term of endearment. The book isn’t trying to (nor does I think it even seem like it is) make it seem like having casual sex with someone who treats you like crap is the right thing to do and will work out and turn into love. It’s about figuring out who you are, what you want, and navigating complicated life as a teenager. I loved it.

 I highly recommend The Duff. It’s YA, but definitely mature, as it deals with sex other adult issues. It’s a great read for anyone who enjoys upper YA books that explore growing up, figuring things out, and falling in love. It was a million times better than I ever expected and I didn’t want it to end.


Friday, March 27, 2015

Review–The Darkest Touch (Lords of the Underworld #11) by Gena Showalter

The Darkest Touch (Lords of the Underworld #11)
by Gena Showalter
Summary: From New York Times bestselling author Gena Showalter comes the long-awaited story of Torin, the most dangerous Lord of the Underworld yet…
Fierce immortal warrior. Host to the demon of Disease. Torin’s every touch causes sickness and death—and a worldwide plague. Carnal pleasure is utterly forbidden, and though he has always overcome temptation with an iron will, his control is about to shatter.
She is Keeley Cael. The Red Queen. When the powerful beauty with shocking vulnerabilities escapes from a centuries-long imprisonment, the desire that simmers between her and Torin is scorching. His touch could mean the end for her, but resisting her is the hardest battle he’s ever fought—and the only battle he fears he can’t win.

Source: I purchased a Kindle copy

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The Darkest Touch was absolutely amazing and definitely my favorite in the series so far. I’ve been dying to get Torin’s story, as I think he’s my favorite Lord because he has such a personality. Also, I like to think about each Lord’s demon and figure out what kind of heroine will offset whatever their demon does to them. But Torin’s demon is worse than even Amun or Kane, so I was eager to see what Showalter would do with him. I don’t know what’s been up with Showalter giving us such awesome female leads, but I love it. I really liked Josephina in the last book, but I think Keeley wins as my favorite heroine. She’s fierce, powerful, stubborn, and awesome. I loved her character so much. She was a lot like Anya, but less annoying to me for whatever reason.

My absolute favorite thing about The Darkest Touch is that Keeley was not immune to Torin. I know… that makes no sense. But it just solidifies my love of the series for not taking easy routes and cutting corners and doing the expected. I couldn’t have been alone in thinking that there must have been some random immortal immune to Torin and that would be who he fell for. I should have known that the author would make him work a little harder than that. I could just hug her for giving me so much angst and conflict. The entire novel had my head pounding and my heart racing because there HAD to be some sort of solution and it was killing me seeing them come together after Torin lost his battle of wills only to have her sicken from his touch.

I loved the chemistry between Torin and Keeley and the way they offset each other. I love that, of all the Lords, Torin was the least caveman about things. I think Torin is probably the smartest Lord because he’s not all alpha male all of the time, so I already respect him, but I also loved that he found a girl who challenged him, included him, and made him just a tad caveman possessive about her. It was the perfect balance. I know a lot of people will dislike Keeley (but I’ve practically hated over half of the love interests, so it’s bound to happen) and I know that a lot of people thought Torin and Cameo (yuck) would end up together, but I found the entire relationship with Torin and Keeley to be refreshing.

The rest of the plot was interesting, especially what took place with Cameo on her search for Viola. I am hoping the author makes her a little more interesting, but if there’s a Cameo/Lazarus match up, I hope it isn’t from her POV. I haven’t even heard her voice and she makes me want to bang my head against a wall. But I like Lazarus a lot, so I’m intrigued.

I am intrigued by what is happening with Galen and his obsession with Legion and I’m hoping that he will somehow switch sides again. After getting a glimpse of his POV a few books ago, I have to admit I’m curious about him. What made him switch in the first place? Does he regret his alliance with Rhea? Also, I kind of loved the moment he and Torin had a nonviolent drink together at a bar. It was kind of awesome. I just want to see him hop over to the Lord’s side.

I love the Lords of the Underworld series. I highly recommend it. It blends mythology and other paranormal aspects with romance flawlessly. You can’t really skip books because critical things happen with the overall plots, making the books harder to mix up or forget about, which is my biggest problem with other long paranormal romance series. Even though the main characters are the same type of being, I feel like there is enough crazy mythological beings and conflicts that I’m constantly on my toes and nothing gets old. I can’t wait for more. I binge read so many of the books and I’m so sad I’m caught up with all of them and have to wait for more each year.


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Review–The Darkest Craving (Lords of the Underworld #10) by Gena Showalter


The Darkest Craving (Lords of the Underworld #10)
by Gena Showalter
Summary: New York Times bestselling author Gena Showalter is back with a breathtaking Lords of the Underworld tale about a warrior trapped by darkness and the woman determined to save him
Having endured weeks of torture in the bowels of hell, Kane wants nothing to do with his beautiful rescuer, Josephina Aisling. The half-Fae female threatens to awaken the demon of Disaster inside him—a beast he’s determined to kill, no matter the price.
Josephina is hunted by a brutal enemy—her royal family—and Kane is her only source of protection. He’s also the only male to ever set her aflame, and even he succumbs to the heat. But as they navigate the treacherous world of the Fae, they are forced to make a choice: live apart…or die together.

Source: I purchased a Kindle copy.

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Kane is one of the Lords that I knew next to nothing about, much like Amun. I was interested in seeing his point of view, especially given that there were glimpses of his plight for the past couple of novels. He was hosting the demon of Disaster, which resulted in him getting left behind on missions nearly all of the time. He was a walking disaster, literally destroying everything around him. I feel bad for a few of the Lords and the demons that have to deal with, like Gideon and Torin, but at least they contribute to the team often. I loved seeing a new love interest species, the Fae. There were some encounters and mentions throughout the series, but this was the first time we got to see something up close and deal with their world.

I really liked Josephina and admired her resilience and strength. She was thrown into the pits of hell during Kane’s horrible torture and helped him in exchange for Kane agreeing to kill her. The plot of The Darkest Craving was kind of unique. Not much took place in the regular world and instead shifted into the Fae realm. I liked the change of pace and the way that Josephina didn’t want to be saved. Instead, she hated her circumstances so much she just wanted her life to end so her suffering could end as well. Of course, Kane was smitten and refused to comply. But he had his own share of issues, what with being the future creator of the apocalypse.

Some of the book was kind of tedious and drawn out. I just wanted Kane and Josephina to figure their shit out and I wanted to go back to the other Lords and see what was happening. So much seems to be going wrong! But I loved the book and I loved Kane and Josephina’s story. She is one of my favorite heroines I think because she’s not annoying AT ALL, not weak, and kind of badass. Gena Showalter often picks some pretty unlikable heroines for whatever reason and while she makes them grow on me, it’s rare that I immediately like one of them and I’m surprised that Josephina was so likable to me.

 I definitely recommend the series and this particular installment as well. I love the Lords of the Underworld, the conflicts, mythology, creatures, and issues of the world they live in. I am addicted and I can’t wait to find out what happens next. I can’t wait for Torin’s story next and I’m so glad Kane finally had some happy stuff happen to him after dealing with Disaster forever.


Monday, March 23, 2015

Review–The Darkest Seduction (Lords of the Underworld #9) by Gena Showalter


The Darkest Seduction (Lords of the Underworld #9)

by Gena Showalter

Summary: At long last, New York Times bestselling author Gena Showalter unveils the story of Paris, the darkest and most tormented Lord of the Underworld.
Possessed by the demon of Promiscuity, immortal warrior Paris is irresistibly seductive — but his potent allure comes at a terrible price. Every night he must bed someone new, or weaken and die. And the woman he craves above all others is the one woman he'd thought was forever beyond his reach... until now.
Newly possessed by the demon of Wrath, Sienna Blackstone is racked by a ruthless need to punish those around her. Yet in Paris's arms, the vulnerable beauty finds soul-searing passion and incredible peace. Until a blood feud between ancient enemies heats up.
Will the battle against gods, angels and creatures of the night bind them eternally — or tear them apart?

Source: I purchased a Kindle copy

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The Darkest Seduction was good, despite the fact that I dislike Paris and look forward to his point of view in the series the least. Gena Showalter does a great job of continuing the story in the background while whoever is falling in love does their thing, so I feel like it’s always worth reading even if I’m not enthusiastic about the main character.

 I was so over Paris and his self loathing. I was over the whole Sienna being a ghost thing. But I had to admit I was pretty curious about how their relationship would work and how on earth the author would have them overcome the obstacles she placed in front of them. Of all the possible matches, with the exception of Torin perhaps, Paris and Sienna were pretty much not a doable match. She was dead, he couldn’t commit to anyone.. I mean.. how would this work?

I thought the book did an amazing job of connecting the unlikely pair in a logical way that also helped further the background plot as well. It was well done and not something I could have predicted. I’m continuously amazed by how Gena Showalter backs characters into impossible corners only to come up with a pretty awesome solution without compromising the story or making it seem like an “easy” way out. 

The Darkest Seduction won’t ever be my favorite because I can’t stand Paris and have never liked him, but I like him a little bit now and I’m glad I read it. I recommend the book and the rest of the series. I have no idea what I’m going to do with myself once I get to the end of what’s been published so far… How did I plow through these so fast?! As far as paranormal romance goes, this series is probably the most addicting one I've encountered. While the fact that everyone seems to get matched up can get old, the actual conflict is incredible. New creatures, mythology, and conflicts pop up all of the time, creating a multidimensional plot with intriguing characters and it doesn't feel like I'm getting the same old alpha male/weak female romance like a lot of other PNR series. I am so loving the Lords of the Underworld!


Saturday, March 21, 2015

Review–The Darkest Surrender (Lords of the Underworld #8) by Gena Showalter

The Darkest Surrender (Lords of the Underworld #8)
by Gena Showalter
Summary: Possessed by the demon of Defeat, Strider cannot lose a challenge without suffering unimaginable pain. For him, nothing stands in the way of victory. Until Kaia, an enchanting Harpy, tempts him to the razor's edge of surrender.Known among her people as The Disappointment, Kaia must bring home the gold in the Harpy Games or die. Strider is a distraction she can't afford because he has an agenda of his own-steal first prize, an ancient godly artifact, before the winner can be named. But as the competition heats up, only one prize will matter-the love neither had thought possible...

Source: I purchased a paperback

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The Darkest Surrender was great! I loved the chemistry between Strider and Kaia. As much as I’m enjoying the series, I will admit that the author creates some pretty unlikeable women and I truly like very few of the wives in the series. Kaia, however, was awesome. She was feisty, fierce, and unrelenting. Yet, she had her moments of weakness, often felt like she wasn’t good enough because of the way her race and mother treated her. As a Harpy, she possessed the violent and crazy tendencies (unlike Gwen, the freaking lamest Harpy ever), but I like that she also had her flaws and weaknesses, too. She chased after Strider with a purpose and determination like no other and I loved how they came together.

Strider was a mess. He was all torn apart about Haidee getting together with Amun, but we all knew that it was just because of Defeat and had little do with him actually liking Haidee. He knew he was being a bitch and needed to get away. He liked Kaia, but she already slept with Paris, making her completely off limits in his book. He was the demon who always had to win and he made it a point to never compete with the Lord of Sex. I understood where he was coming from. But we also got a glimpse of Kaia’s feelings, and she already viewed Strider as being stronger, better looking, and all around more amazing than Paris. It was really kind of cute, but the two of them were so freaking stubborn that it was just a giant clashing of wills.

There was so much tension in the book and I feel like it took the longest of all the relationships for the two of them to finally admit that they were made for each other. Kaia basically forced him to be her consort at the Harpy games and Strider pretended to hate it. I loved getting more of a in depth view of Harpies in general (especially since Gwen barely counts as a Harpy and Bianka and Lysander are annoying weird, too). I know Kaia will probably rub some people the wrong way, but she was one of the most level headed heroines in the series so far. I mean, we’ve seen crazy Anya the goddess, na├»ve and annoying Olivia the angel, Gwen the lamest harpy ever, Scarlet the crazy bitch who literally blamed Gideon for not remembering shit that actually never even happened… Kaia was such a refreshing character to me.

I highly recommend the series and I am definitely continuing. I can’t wait to find out what happens next. Paris will get his story next and I’m excited to see what happens to him.


Thursday, March 19, 2015

Review–The Darkest Secret (Lords of the Underworld #7) by Gena Showalter


The Darkest Secret (Lords of the Underworld #7)
by Gena Showalter
Summary: In this sexy new installment of Showalter's bestselling Lords of the Underworld series, the haunted Amun meets a woman who tempts him like no other...
Keeper of the demon of Secrets, Amun can manipulate the darkest thoughts of anyone nearby. But when the immortal warrior is chained and isolated to protect those he loves, death is his only hope of release—until he meets Haidee, a fellow prisoner whose beauty and hidden vulnerability draw him into a reckless test of his loyalty.
Haidee is a demon-assassin, raised to despise Amun's kind. Yet how can she hate the man whose touch sets her aflame? But to save him, she must give herself body and soul...and face the wrath of a powerful adversary sworn to destroy her.

Source: I purchased a paperback

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After feeling a little “meh” reading The Darkest Lie, I wasn’t even sure I was in the mood to continue to series. I continued (mostly because it’s the only book I brought with me on vacation) and I’m really glad I did because The Darkest Secret might actually be my favorite in the series so far. I really really enjoyed it, a thousand times more than I thought I would. We haven’t really gotten much information about Amun up until this point, so I had no idea what to expect. On top of that, I was certain at the end of The Darkest Lie that Strider and Haidee were about to have a thing and I wasn’t really enjoying their chemistry at all. I was kind of shocked all around to not only get to have Amun front and center, but to also have the romance between him and Haidee.

Amun was pretty screwed up after the events in The Darkest Lie and demons had all but taken over his head. Anyone who got close to him started to get a little twitchy and crazy, too, with all the demons trying to influence them. Amun was going mad, unable to control himself, and had to be guarded by Lysander’s angel friends. It was all kind of a mess. Strider locked up Haidee, a Hunter and hater of the Lords, in the cell next to Amun, and he wasn’t worried about Haidee’s well being or the harm in her being placed so close to demon crazed Amun.

Amun didn’t talk because he was afraid he would spill secrets if he opened his mouth. He signed instead and it was virtually his only way to communicate with others. With Haidee, though, he was somehow able to project direct thoughts into her head. She waltzed on into his cell once he “asked” her to do so. He looked A LOT like Haidee’s hunter boyfriend Micah, and that’s who she initially thought he was. No one was really happy about the two being close because Haidee was obviously a threat, but somehow, she was able to calm the demons inside of him, even Secrets, which was a big deal, so the Lords decided she had to stay next to him and keep him sane.

I loved their romance and I loved the way the two of them had to understand each other. Amun was used to always knowing everything about everyone and he couldn’t read Haidee for some reason, aside from bits and pieces of her past. Haidee hated the Lords, but she never really understood that they weren’t really evil, like every other Hunter. The two of them were forced to come together. They also had to venture back down into Hell to save Amun from the demons inside of him, which put a huge strain on their relationship and they encountered some pretty crazy stuff down there.

 As I said, The Darkest Secret was probably my favorite installment so far. It surprised me because I didn’t already know or could predict how things would unfold because Amun was such a vague character who didn’t have a personality I knew anything about yet. I liked Amun way more than I originally expected to. I definitely recommend the series. It can be a little over the top with cavemen alpha male tropes, but I love the Lords and the mythology of the world. I can’t wait to read more!


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Review–The Darkest Lie (Lords of the Underworld #6) by Gena Showalter


The Darkest Lie (Lords of the Underworld #6)
by Gena Showalter
Summary: Forced to his knees in agony whenever he speaks the truth, Gideon can recognize any lie - until he captures Scarlet, a demon-possessed immortal who claims to be his long-lost wife. He doesn't remember the beautiful female, much less wedding - or bedding - her.

Source: I purchased a paperback

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I really love the Lords of the Underworld series and I enjoy getting a close glimpse of each Lord and the women they fall for in each book. Showalter has been teasing us with glimpses of Gideon for the past couple of books and he was rapidly becoming my favorite Lord. Everyone had their demons to deal with, but I feel like Gideon was one of the few who had a demon that ALWAYS affected his life. He couldn’t not lie. Ever. It wasn’t the same as dealing with a demon’s outrages or tendencies. He literally couldn’t carry on a conversation without lying and it frustrated him often.

It took me a really long time to like The Darkest Lie. I hated Scarlet and I hated the fact that she was so mean to him and had this whole history with him that he couldn’t remember. I wanted him to fall for someone new and refreshing. Instead, he had to win her over without remembering his past and try to break down the walls around her heart. I was still enjoying the story and I loved her demon, Nightmares, but I wish she was nicer and easier to deal with in general.

I started to like the book about halfway through when Scarlet’s resolve started to crumble a little bit and once the twist happened and things weren’t what they seemed. I started to like Scarlet a little better and understand her and I actually started to root for them as a couple. Also, I liked the way their demons responded to each other. But, like all of the books in the series, I find myself drawn to another Lord once I get a glimpse of them and I’m anxious to see Torin and Amun have their stories.
I am glad I took a break for a little because reading too many of these books at once gets repetitive and I’ll start thinking too hard about her caveman male leads and dialogue, but it’s nice to dive right back in when the mood strikes and I can’t wait to pick up the next book.

I recommend the series to fans of paranormal romance, mythology, and dark male leads who are complicated.