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Thursday, April 28, 2016

Blog Tour Review: Wonder Woman at Super Hero High by Lisa Yee

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Blog Tour, Middle Grade, Review0 Comments

Blog Tour Review: Wonder Woman at Super Hero High by Lisa YeeWonder Woman at Super Hero High by Lisa Yee
Series: DC Super Hero Girls, Book 1
Published by Random House Books for Young Readers on 01 March 2016
Genres: Action & Adventure, Adolescence, Contemporary (No Romance Focus), Fairy Tales, Folklore, & Legends, Fantasy, Friendship, Middle Grade, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance
Reading Challenges: 2016 Reading Challenge
Pages: 240
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
AmazonBarnes & NobleThe Book DepositoryGoodreads
four-stars

Place(s) Traveled To: Metropolis // Paradise Island

First Line(s): It was barely the third week of school, and already someone had been expelled.

WONDER WOMAN AT SUPER HERO HIGH by Lisa Yee is the start of a new middle grade series set at the fictional Super Hero High in Metropolis. This is the school where all the young super heroes go to learn how to use their powers and how to be a super hero. Or maybe not as not all those who go to this school have good intentions in mind. Wonder Woman is a total fish out of water when she starts at Super Hero High having been home schooled and fairly sheltered on Paradise Island by her mother. She knows of the outside world but she misses a lot of social queues and doesn’t always get the joke. She’s a very literal girl and so this makes her a tad bit socially awkward and that is part of what makes Wonder Woman, or Wondy as she begins to be called, a relatable character.

Going to a new school is always hard be it a transfer in, a move from home school to public, or even going from middle school to high school. Its easy to get overwhelmed at times or to sign up for too much. Not to mention all the pitfalls of making new friends (or enemies as the case may be) along with being part of the social media generation. Wondy learns all of these things, often at a comical expense throughout the course of WONDER WOMAN. Her roommate runs HQTV (aka Harley Quinn TV YouTube channel) and so often captures Wondy’s mishaps along with her fellow students much to Wondy’s embarrassment but its something she learns to deal with and become aware of. To think before she acts because you never know who may be watching and to learn to accept that she can’t be perfect all of the time.

Wondy is a bit naive at times and that wasn’t always the easiest things for me to read as an adult but I think that this is something that will really help her appeal to a younger reader.  Wondy is also filled with so much heart and dedication to do well and to be the best friend she can be. She’s the sort of girl who wants to be the best at everything and to win all the awards but she’s also humble enough to know when to share the spotlight with someone else. Even if doing so means sacrificing something else.

There were times when WONDER WOMAN made me laugh at loud, usually at something Harley Quinn said, and times where it made me cringe. I loved all the various characters that were incorporated into this story along with the superhero triathalon. I liked how this was a girl power dominated story in a universe that is typically overshadowed by boys. I thought that the mystery element was a little weak, choppy and highly underdeveloped but that is probably not something that will bother younger readers. But will also help in teaching them the impoartance of making assumptions and why that isn’t always a good thing. There are a lot of great teachable moments in WONDER WOMAN and its a book that I look forward to sharing with my niece as I think she’ll like it a lot.

irishdarkblue

IR - Wonder Woman

 

Add Cinderella Stays Late by Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams to Goodreads (Click here for my review)

Add Gotham Academy Volume 1 by Becky Cloonan to Goodreads.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Review: The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

Posted by Irish in 3 Stars, Audiobook, Review, Young Adult0 Comments

Review: The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae CarsonThe Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson
Series: Fire and Thorns, Book 1
Published by Harper Audio on 24 July 2012
Genres: Abduction, Action & Adventure, Assassins, Death & Dying, Espionage, Friendship, Love & Romance, People of Color, Romance, Royalty, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, War & Military, Young Adult
Reading Challenges: 2016 Reading Challenge
Narrator: Jennifer Ikeda
Length: 12 hrs and 9 mins
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
AmazonAudibleBarnes & NobleThe Book DepositoryGoodreads
two-stars

Place(s) Traveled To: Amalur, Orovalle // Brisadulce, Joya D’Arena // Basajuan, Joya D’Arena // Rebel Camp, Joya D’Arena // Great Desert, Joya D’Arena // Oasis, Joya D’Arena

First Line(s): Prayer candles flicker in my bedroom.

THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS by Rae Carson first came to my attention back in 2011 when I received an ARC of it. At the time it sounded interesting but I wasn’t sure it was for me so I put it on my shelf as a maybe someday read. Time passed and I never really forgot about the book as so many people kept recommending it to me. Telling me I had to read THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS as it was so so good and as a lover of fantasy I needed to experience the story. So after many attempts I finally did. And I wish I hadn’t. I just had so very many issues with this book that I’m not entirely sure I’ll be able to capture them fully here.

First, my biggest issues with THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS was all the body shamming that occurred. Elisa was contantly told she was fat and as a result wasn’t pretty and would be useless if she didn’t carry the godstone. Not only were the outside comments terrible but her own internal ones were worse. She was so self-depreciating that it made me cringe. Then, she gets kidnapped and loses all her excess weight and all of a sudden is smart and beautiful and everyone flocks to her. She has value and is fierce and no….just no!!! Before she lost weight she’s considered to be naive and after she is this smart warlord who is a great leader. And I just hated how all of Elisa’s character growth came because she lost the weight not not because of who she was. And even though she does become skinny, Elisa maintains a very low self-esteem and low body image of herself and she never really grows or changes in that perspective.

Girl of Fire and Thorns Quote

The other part of THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS that drove me batty was all the talk about food and religion. If Elisa wasn’t thinking about food then she was either eating food or yearning for food. And if none of those were happening than she or others were talking about food. The few times when food wasn’t the main topic things moved to religion. So much religious talk. I get that religion was a big deal in this world but it was forced down a readers throat at every turn of the page. There are ways to be a religious and spiritual story with out forcing it and this would have been a grand lesson for THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS to learn.

The whole plot was pretty non-existant and the writing tended to make my eye twitch. I swear the word grin was horribly overused along with smile and every variation that you can think of of those words. They would be used several times on the page and even a time or two in the same sentence. For a kidnapped naive princess turn warlord general trying to stop an invasion there was an awful lot of grinning. You’d think there would be more suspense involved but there never was. But in the end there wasn’t a whole ton that happened and what did occurred mostly off the page.

And finally, I was promised a great romance. But there really was none. Elisa was married at the start of the book and then her marriage was kept secret from her husband who kept a mistress. Elisa then started to fall for one of the rebels but that didn’t progress far and ended badly. When I started to read THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS I had lots of people make comments to me about a character named Hector and how swoon worthy he was. But he was barely in the book at all. THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS is a book that I felt I wasted my time reading. It just annoyed me from start to finish and I’m going to have to think long and hard before I decide if I should continue on with this series or not.

Read my Goodreads updates here.

 

irishdarkblue

People who liked this book better than I did

Two Chicks on Books – “I really loved the characters she created Elisa is weak at first but she learns quickly and finds her inner strength. The king is likable enough and I absolutely loved his guard Hector (more of him in book 2 please Rae). The rest of the characters each have strong personalities and I can tell you some you will fall in love with and some you will detest from the moment you meet them.”

Book Smugglers – [Elisa]’s not a perfect heroine or a Mary Sue, for all that she’s God’s Chosen, but she finds a way to take on the innumerable challenges thrown in her path with a kind of calm grace and growing sense of confidence and self-respect.

Tripping Over Books – “I have to also take a minute to say that THINGS happen in THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS that almost never happen in YA books. I’ll tell you this: as an avid reader of ADULT fantasy, I wasn’t unfamiliar with the twists. They still hurt like burning, but in a devastatingly good way, and I give Rae Carson incredible props for going there. TWICE.”

 

IR - Girl of Fire and Thorns

Special thanks to Jaime of Two Chicks on Books for today’s recommendation suggestions!!

Add Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder to Goodreads. (Click here for Jaime’s thoughts / Click here for my review)

Add Defy by Sara B. Larson to Goodreads. (Click here for Jaime’s review)

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Monday, April 25, 2016

Review: The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich

Posted by Irish in 3 Stars, Review, Young Adult0 Comments

Review: The Dead House by Dawn KurtagichThe Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich
Published by Little Brown Books for Young Readers on 15 Sept 2015
Genres: Contemporary (No Romance Focus), Death & Dying, Friendship, Mystery & Detective, Suspense, Thrillers, Young Adult
Reading Challenges: 2015 Reading Challenge
Pages: 400
Format: ARC
Source: Book Expo (BEA-ALA-et al)
AmazonAudibleBarnes & NobleThe Book DepositoryGoodreads
three-stars

Place(s) Traveled To: Somerset, England

First Line(s): I curse anyone who reads this book. If you touch it, hell will be waiting. Screw you. Happy reading.

THE DEAD HOUSE by Dawn Kurtagich is the a YA debut murder mystery story. Its told using mixed media or “found” documents after there is a fire at a boarding school that resulted in the deaths of a couple of students and another,Carly, to disappear without a trace. Twenty years after the events in question Carly’s diary is found and that is the main source material used to tell this story. The reader quickly learns that Carly isn’t your average teenager. Because at night she’s no longer Carly and she becomes Kaitlyn. The two girls, though they share a body, are two very different people and they lead two very different lives and yet they somehow manage to coexist. It is never clear throughout the telling of THE DEAD HOUSE which personality is the original and which is the alter.

THE DEAD HOUSE is a quick read because of its format and I thought that the story was well written and engaging as I was reading it. However, the more time that passes between my reading of the book the more story itself fades into the background. When I finished THE DEAD HOUSE I wasn’t sure what to make of the story and now a few months later I am still unsure of it. There didn’t seem to be much in the way of resolution and it felt a little open ended as if there might be a sequel at some point in the future. I also expected THE DEAD HOUSE to be a creepier story than it was and maybe the audio version incorporates the creep factor in better. Though I’m not sure how well this mixed media style would work in audio form.

The Dead House Quote

Overall, I was left a little underwhelmed with THE DEAD HOUSE. It was interesting and yet at the same time its also forgettable. I feel like I’m missing something when I see all the rave reviews of this story. Because for me there wasn’t a whole ton of substance. We got the facts and nothing but and we never really got a solution to the mystery at large. Who was Carly/Kaitlyn really? Where did she go after the fire? Or was she a victim that was never found? In the end I was left with more questions than answers so was left thinking that the whole story was just average.

Other than the main mystery of the fire, there are several other things going on from potential paranormal aspects to cults and mysterious events that happened years before the fire. There is a lot of detail given and yet not a lot at the same time. THE DEAD HOUSE is a weird little novel that I liked but didn’t love and maybe it is one that I should re-read to see if its one of those stories that makes more sense the more its read. Although, I really don’t have a whole heck of a lot of desire to re-read this one. THE DEAD HOUSE wasn’t a bad book but it wasn’t what I was expecting either and so maybe that’s part of where my disappointment comes in. If you liked mixed media and ghost stories then maybe you’ll like this one too.

irishdarkblue

IR - Dead House

Add The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall by Katie Alender to Goodreads.

Add Daughters Unto Devils by Amy Lukavics to Goodreads.

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Friday, April 22, 2016

Review: Love Lessons by Heidi Cullinan

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, New Adult, Review0 Comments

Review: Love Lessons by Heidi CullinanLove Lessons by Heidi Cullinan
Series: Love Lessons, Book 1
Published by Samhain Publishing on 01 Oct 2013
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, GLBT, Love & Romance, New Adult, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues
Reading Challenges: 2016 Reading Challenge
Pages: 379
Format: eBook
Source: Library
AmazonAudibleBarnes & NobleThe Book DepositoryGoodreads
four-stars

Place(s) Traveled To: Danby, Illinois // Northbrook, Illinois // Chicago, Illinois // St Louis, Missouri // Minneapolis, Minnesota // Windom, Minnesota

First Line(s): Freshman orientation at Hope University was an all-you-can-eat buffet, and Walter Lucas planned to gorge himself.

I first learned of the Love Lessons series by Heidi Cullinan when Annabeth Albert recommended the second book in the series, FEVER PITCH, as a read-a-like to her LOVE ME TENOR (my review). Even with companion series I do like to read books in order so I was really glad to see that book 1 in the series, LOVE LESSONS, was available in my libraries digital catalog and I didn’t hesitate to request it. This one started off a bit rocky for me as I just wasn’t sure about this school that Walter and Kelly go to which seemed more like a cult than a college. But before I knew it the clock was reading 4am and I was reading the last sentence. I totally got sucked into this one and totally fell head over heels for Walter and Kelly.

LOVE LESSONS wasn’t a perfect book and I hated that it included the trope/cliche/whatever you want to call it issue that everyone has sex and high school and so an 18 year old virgin is “like a unicorn.” I know many who didn’t have sex until college or even after and its NBD it just has to be right for the person not that it happens by a certain age. And when you are from a small town in the midwest and not-quite-out yet its totally understandable that Kelly hasn’t had sex yet. Plus, I really Kelly’s small town charm and his desire to be in love before taking that step. Oh Kelly, such a sweet sweet boy he was and such a perfect counter for playboy Walter.

Love Lessons Quote

And Walter, oh how that boy hurt my heart. Such a broken soul at times and I loved his character ARC over the course of this story. LOVE LESSONS is a book where I’d say that love at first sight happened but its also a slow burn novel as both the love interests take their time in getting romantic and so really get to know each other first. Walter and Kelly are tossed together unexpectedly and I love how they both try to make the best out of a bad situation. I adored how Walter looked out for Kelly first as a friend and then as a boyfriend. These two totally made my heart ache and I just couldn’t get enough of their story.

Heidi Cullinan wrote a beautiful story with a plot that was more than just boy meets boy and they live happily ever after. There is a bigger story contained within the love story in LOVE LESSONS and it just really shows these characters at their best, and even at their worst. Walter and Kelly have their ups and downs but in the end everything is wrapped up nicely. Although the ending was a little too cutesy for me and I may have rolled my eyes a wee bit it didn’t take away from my overall love of the story. I walked into LOVE LESSONS with no real expectations and I walked out with a need for more books by Heidi Cullinan. She’s definitely an author I’m going to read more of and think that you should too.

 

Mini-Review: FROZEN HEART – FREE NOVELLA/EPILOGUE for LOVE LESSONS

FROZEN HEART is a free novella that can be found on Heifi Cullinan website (link above). Its a slight continuation of the ending of LOVE LESSONS and it fit my need for more after finishing that book. Though its also something I wish I hadn’t read after I read it. LOVE LESSONS was such a smoothly written story that it was disappointing to see how choppy FROZEN HEART was. The story was jumpy and all over the place and just a wee bit creepy. Kelly’s love of Disney is cute in LOVE LESSONS but the level it goes to here? Well, lets just say I didn’t need to know that. So while I want everyone to read LOVE LESSONS I think that most should keep this little short and I’ll pretend that it doesn’t exist.

irishdarkblue

IR - Love Lessons

 

Add Status Update by Annabeth Albert to Goodreads. (Click here for my review)

Add Understatement of the Year by Sarina Bowen to Goodreads. (Click here for my review)

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Thursday, April 21, 2016

Review: The Book of Ivy by Amy Engel

Posted by Irish in 3.5 Stars, Review, Young Adult0 Comments

Review: The Book of Ivy by Amy EngelThe Book of Ivy by Amy Engel
Series: The Book of Ivy, Book 1
Published by Entangled Teen on 04 Nov 2014
Genres: Adolescence, Dating & Sex, Dystopian, Emotions & Feelings, Espionage, Family, Friendship, Futuristic Romance, Love & Romance, Politics & Intrigue, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Young Adult
Reading Challenges: 2015 Reading Challenge
Pages: 282
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
AmazonAudibleBarnes & NobleThe Book DepositoryGoodreads
three-half-stars

Place(s) Traveled To: Westfall, Unknown

First Line(s): No one wears white wedding dresses anymore.

THE BOOK OF IVY by Amy Engel is one of those books that I hadn’t heard much about until I recieved an ARC of its sequel THE REVOLUTION OF IVY (goodreads). It was also around that time that talk about BOOK OF IVY started to appear in my social media streams and while I haven’t been much into dystopian reads of late I decided to give this one a chance. Like most YA dystopians THE BOOK OF IVY is very thin on details. There isn’t a whole lot of world building or history given to why the world is how it is. As a reader you are immediately thrust into the every life of this society that has formed in the bones of the former United States and its up to the reader to figure out what’s going on.

At first, I thought THE BOOK OF IVY was going to be a standard ‘girls are only good for making babies’ sort of story which is all too common a theme in YA dystopia and so I was hesitant on the story. But then there was just something about this one that really lulled me into its pages. Amy Engel’s writing is seductive even as it doesn’t have a ton of substance behind the words. I found myself engrossed in Ivy’s story and found this book really hard to put down. I liked her struggle between what she had been raised to do and what she wanted to do. And most of all I liked Bishop.

Book of Ivy Quote

Bishop is one of those book boyfriends that I’m surprised I don’t hear much about. He’s smart and funny and he appreciates Ivy for who she is. He doesn’t have lofty expectations of her nor does he expect her to be a simpering housewife with him the general of the household. He’s sweet and caring and the sort of character that you really wish you could meet in real life. He’s the bright light in an otherwise cliched and fairly typical YA dystopian novel.

THE BOOK OF IVY is what I’d call a brain candy read and would be perfect for a day at the beach. It doesn’t take a lot of thought and makes for a good distraction. Its a really fast read with a likable main character even though it does lack for a bit of a plot. As I said the writing is seductive so while you are reading the story its easy to forgive its flaws and just get lost in the nuances and flow of the words. THE BOOK OF IVY is one that I think would be great on audio with the right narrator as it really is a lyrical story. I was invested enough in Ivy’s story to read the sequel but its not a series that will win any awards. If you like YA dystopian then you’ll probably enjoy THE BOOK OF IVY. I also think those new to dystopia will enjoy it as well.

irishdarkblue

IR - Book of Ivy

 

Add Matched by Ally Condie to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

Add The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Review: Strong Signal by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Adult, Review1 Comment

Review: Strong Signal by Megan Erickson and Santino HassellStrong Signal by Megan Erickson, Santino Hassell
Series: Cyberlove, Book 1
Published by Self-Published on 15 Feb 2016
Genres: Adult, Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Friendship, GLBT, Health & Daily Living, Illnesses & Injuries, Love & Romance, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, War & Military
Reading Challenges: 2016 Reading Challenge
Pages: 235
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
AmazonBarnes & NobleGoodreads
four-stars

Place(s) Traveled To: Unnamed, Afghanistan // Philadelphia, Pennsylvania // Rickston, Pennsylvania // Peoria, Illinois

First Line(s): There’s only one thief in the Army, and everyone else is just trying to get their shit back.

Recently I’ve been on a contemporary romance kick, especially contemporary MM romance, and also blitzing through most of Megan Erickson’s catalog of works. So I was very excited to see that she co-wrote STRONG SIGNAL an MM romance with Santino Hassell. I pre-ordered this baby as soon as I was able and began to read it the moment it was available. I had initially intended to alternate between STRONG SIGNAL and other read but once I started this book I couldn’t put it down and was up late as I couldn’t stop reading. I just loved the story of Kai and Garrett and thought that they had some amazing chemistry. I loved how their story developed and how they really got to know each other by talking on line. I adored their meet cute and well just everything about them!

I liked how accepting that Kai and Garrett were of each other and of their issues. On one hand, I do think that Garrett enabled Kai a bit too much but on the other it was really nice to see that Garrett never tried to cure Kai of his agoraphobia. Garrett accepted him for who he was and would have made things work as he knew that any changes made had to come from Kai in order for their to be any success. I loved how these two characters really supported one another and how they both became better people for the meeting. And oh how they both made my heart ache!!!

Strong Signal Quote

I loved how Kai and Garrett really talked to each other and oh how their separation slayed me!! No pointless breakups here just the realities of life that are sometimes hard to overcome. STRONG SIGNAL is as real as it gets for a book that still remains on the page. I know there are times when I don’t like too much reality in my books, especially the romances, but it worked so well in STRONG SIGNAL and I really wouldn’t change much at all about this story. Well, other than the need for the two leads to have to separate in the first place but that is all part of the romance formula so its needed. Plus, its sometimes takes a parting for characters to really know just how much the other person means to them.

STRONG SIGNAL was well plotted and well written and I am looking forward to the next book in the series, FAST CONNECTION (Goodreads), which will be out later this year. FAST CONNECTION will involve, Dominic Costigan, who we meet here in STRONG SIGNAL and its his character that may have annoyed me the most in this book. He was just mentioned and used way too much. While I’m curious on his story, Costigan was just too much of a distraction in STRONG SIGNAL and wish he’d been edited down a bit more. But other than that I did adore STRONG SIGNAL. Its a fresh, fun, heart achy story that I think will appeal to many a romance reader. Just be warned…you may needed a lot of coffee the day after starting this one as it really is hard to put down.

irishdarkblue

IR - Strong Signal

Add There You Stand by Christina Lee to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

Add Lonely Hearts by Heidi Cullinan to Goodreads. (Review Coming Soon.)

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Monday, April 18, 2016

Review: Dirty by Kylie Scott

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Adult, Review0 Comments

Review: Dirty by Kylie ScottDirty by Kylie Scott
(Website, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads)
Series: Dive Bar, Book 1
Published by St Martin's Griffin on 19 April 2016
Genres: Adult, Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Girls & Women, Love & Romance, Music & Musicians
Reading Challenges: 2016 Reading Challenge
Pages: 288
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
AmazonAudibleBarnes & NobleThe Book DepositoryGoodreads
four-stars

Place(s) Traveled To: Coeur d”Alene, Idaho

First Line(s): Fuck. I stared at my cell phone, mouth slack in horror.

DIRTY by Kylie Scott is the first book in her new series which is a spin off of her Stage Dive series which I devoured last year and has one of my favorite meet cutes in a book. The chemistry between Vaughan and Lydia is immediate and I just loved reading their story. We first met Vaughan in the Stage Dive series as a member of another band and things are changing for him in DIRTY. His future is up in the air and the last thing he needs is for a woman in a wedding dress to break into his childhood home. But sometimes, just sometimes, the expected things in life end up being just the things you need. Vaughan and Lydia are both at a crossroads at the start of this book unsure where their path will go and by the end the reader is just a puddle of mush because it was just that good of a journey.

While DIRTY is a spin off of another series there isn’t that much cross over between the two and so it can be read independently. This also means that there is a whole new cast of characters that we get to know. They range from the douchbaggery to ones that you know you are going to love and hope that they get their own books. The secondary characters in DIRTY really add a lot of humor and depth to the story and I loved meeting them all and seeing how they fit in Lydia and Vaughan’s story. Not to mention the most excellent dialogue between Lydia and Vaughan…oh how I loved their banter and I often found myself laughing as I read this book.

Dirty Quote

I found it really hard to put DIRTY down once I picked it up and simply flew through the story. I loved every moment of it and found it realistic and fun and it gave me all the heartachy feels that I love. I do think that for all its build up that the ending was a bit rushed. I wish that DIRTY had been just a little longer to give the ending a bit more cohesiveness. Though I do appreciate how there was no pointless breakup in this story. Yes the characters have a conflict and separation (because really when don’t they in a romance book?) but its realistic and heartbreaking and also necessary to get that HEA conclusion that we readers long for.

If you are a fan of Kylie Scott then you are going to love DIRTY and if you’ve never read her before then this is a great book to start with. I’m eagerly awaiting the next book in the series, TWIST, and can’t wait to see who will be featured in that story. I hated leaving this world so its wonderful to know that I’ll be able to get back to it again soon as the series continues. I also still want to set fire to one of the characters (ok maybe two) cars but I trust that my girl Lydia will enact her revenge on them by finding a happiness that they can’t even begin to imagine. Lydia is fierce and I think she’ll be as loved by readers as she is by Vaughan and you won’t want to miss meeting them both.

 

irishdarkblue

IR - Dirty

Add Built by Jay Crownover to Goodreads. (Click here for my review & an excerpt.)

Add Listen to Me by Kristen Proby to Goodreads.

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Friday, April 15, 2016

Review: Finding Perfect by Kendra C. Highley

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Review, Young Adult0 Comments

Review: Finding Perfect by Kendra C. HighleyFinding Perfect by Kendra C. Highley
Published by Entangled Crush on 14 Sept 2015
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Friendship, Love & Romance, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Young Adult
Reading Challenges: 2015 Reading Challenge
Pages: 199
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
AmazonBarnes & NobleThe Book DepositoryGoodreads
four-stars

Place(s) Traveled To: Alderwood, Texas // Dallas, Texas

First Line(s): “All in all,” Mr Granger said, ” the scores on the midterm were pretty good, so I didn’t feel the need to grade on a curve.”

Sometimes when you pick up a book its not the right time and so you may not like it as much and others its that perfect moment to read the book so just leaves with all those happy heart achy feels. Such was the case with me and FINDING PERFECT by Kendra C. Highley. If I’d read this in a different time and place I may not enjoyed it as much as I did but as it was I was totally swept away in the story and feel head over heals for it. Granted, there were things that I epicaly despised like Paige’s mother who was super duper awful. I hated the pressure that Paige’s parents put on her and how they told her that there would be time for fun later and now was the time to work work work! So much pressure that she’d freak out over a grade that was anything less than an A and even an A wasn’t acceptable as it wasn’t an A+.

While I agree that teens should have a focus on school and grades, I don’t think that it should take up all of their time. Balance is needed in order to live a rich and full life. Especially when you are 17. There is plenty of time to work and be serious and the longer you put off having a life the less likely you are to actually have one. Its so much harder to be free when you have a job and a house and bills to worry about. To put so much pressure on a girl at 17 is just a recipe for said girl to self destruct and burn out long before she’s an adult.

Finding Perfect Quote

But what I did love was the relationship between Paige and Ben. Oh there were times I wanted to shake them both because a big part of the plot centered around a failure to communicate (and we all know how that trope annoys me) but I loved them when they were together. They had great chemistry and banter and complemented each other so well. I liked the people that they were when then were around each other and its Paige and Ben that totally made FINDING PERFECT for me. I also adored the character of Zoey, Paige’s BFF, because she was a true BFF. She was there to support Paige when she needed it and tell her the truth when she needed that as well. No frenemy here.

The best way for me to describe the plot of FINDING PERFECT is to relate it to a 90s rom-com. The plot is a little hokey at times and the ending was super cutesy and too neatly tied up. But it was everything that you’d expect from a 90s romantic comedy. FINDING PERFECT has its ups and downs and its far from a perfect book but it made my heart ache and it hit all the right note with me. So because of that I really fell for this story. I hated to hit the last page and to leave this world and its characters. I’m hoping that Highley decides to write some companion stories so that we can see more of Paige and Ben and see where they end up after The End. For me, FINDING PERFECT was a story that I got lost in. It was a quick read and exactly what I needed. If you are a lover of 90s rom-coms and contemporary YA then you should totally give FINDING PERFECT a shot.

irishdarkblue

IR - Finding Perfect

 

Add The Natural History of Us by Rachel Harris to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

Add Defending Taylor by Miranda Kenneally to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

 

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Thursday, April 14, 2016

Review: Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers

Posted by Irish in 3 Stars, Review, Young Adult0 Comments

Review: Dark Triumph by Robin LaFeversDark Triumph by Robin LaFevers
Series: His Fair Assassin, Book 2
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on 02 April 2013
Genres: Action & Adventure, Assassins, Death & Dying, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Friendship, Historical, Historical Romance, Illnesses & Injuries, Love & Romance, Politics & Intrigue, Road Trip, War & Military, Young Adult
Reading Challenges: 2015 Reading Challenge
Pages: 385
Format: Paperback
Source: Gift, Publisher
AmazonAudibleBarnes & NobleThe Book DepositoryGoodreads
three-stars

Place(s) Traveled To: Nantes, Brittany/France // Rennes, France // Morlaix, France //Tonquedec, France (1489)

First Line(s): I did not arrive at the convent of Saint Mortain some green stripling.

When GRAVE MERCY by Robin LaFevers (my review) came out back in 2012 I devoured it. While I was wary at first I totally fell under the spell of these Medieval assassin nuns. I then later received an ARC of DARK TRIUMPH and my first thought was to pick it up immediately and read it but it was far out from publication date and so I put it aside. And there it sat on a shelf until last year when a friend and I made a pact to do a co-read of it. DARK TRIUMPH picks up right around when GRAVE MERCY ends but switches POV from Ismae to Sybella. Sybella was an interesting character in GRAVE MERCY so I was looking forward to her story. However, I didn’t quite fall for DARK TRIUMPH as deeply as I did with GRAVE MERCY and I think that’s due in part to the POV change.

I just didn’t find Sybella to be as likable as Ismae nor was she as nuanced a character. Yes, Sybella was a strong heroine that overcame a pretty shitty upbringing but I just didn’t care about her the same way that I did Ismae. I also really didn’t buy the romance in this story. There was just so little development in that area that I just didn’t feel any chemistry when Sybella and Beast finally declared their love for each other. Though I really did like Beast, he was an bright and entertaining light throughout the story. I liked the camaraderie that he and Sybella shared but there just wasn’t enough of them together for them to form that much needed spark.

Dark Triumph Quote

But what bothered me the most about DARK TRIUMPH was how repetitive it was. I get that some recap is needed to refresh fans from what happened in GRAVE MERCY but Sybella just kept thinking the same thoughts over and over again. So much so that there was very little in the way of plot development in DARK TRIUMPH. This book was all hurry up and wait and there was very little action. It was very much a middle book in a series and was more filler and fluff than anything of substance. As such I found this one really easy to put down and stay down while I was reading.

When I did pick it up I was I found myself in the story but I had to force myself to pick it up each day. And I did that mostly so that I could finish around the same time as my friend. There were times where I was tempted to skip over parts and I feel that if I had done so then I wouldn’t have missed very much at all. Most of the action/plot that happens in DARK TRIUMPH comes at the end. The rest is just waiting around for something to happen. There were just so many missed opportunities in DARK TRIUMPH that just left this one lacking for me. As such, while I do plan to finish the series at some point, I don’t have the burning need to rush out and see how it all ends. What say you readers, does the HIS FAIR ASSASSIN trilogy end with a bang or a fizzle? Leave a comment or catch me on social media and let me know if I should prioritize MORTAL HEART or not.

irishdarkblue

IR - Grave Mercy

Add Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

Add Scarlet by AC Gaughen to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

Add Finnikin of the Rock to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

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Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Blog Tour Excerpt: Getting it Back by Elizabeth Harmon

Posted by Irish in Blog Tour, Contest, Excerpt0 Comments

Blog Tour Excerpt: Getting it Back by Elizabeth Harmon

GETTING IT BACK
Red Hot Russians #3
Elizabeth Harmon
Released April 4th, 2016
Carina Press
In this second-chance romance, a former top men’s figure skating champion is willing to risk everything for a comeback–except a new start with his long lost love.
An unexpected phone call from the man who broke her heart offers Amy Shepherd an opportunity to return to the work she loves, training elite figure skaters. Except it’s just one figure skater: Him. Can she finally forgive and forget?
Figure skater Mikhail “Misha” Zaikov once had it all: medals, money and the adoration of millions. But a devastating injury put an end to his career and his romance, leaving him with nothing but regret over what could have been. His last chance to re-join the world’s top skaters is now. And there’s only one person who can help him: Her.
On Russia’s unyielding ice, Misha must reclaim what he’s lost while facing off against a talented young rival and risking further injury. But Amy soon discovers Misha’s much bigger challenges lurk off the ice. And she’s determined to keep Misha whole and
healthy, even if doing so ends his shot at the gold.

Excerpt.

The next morning, Amy awoke first. Misha lay beside her in bed, still sleeping. He’d brought over clothes last night. His toothbrush was in the bathroom cabinet. This was just like back in Ohio, only better. Misha was no longer searching for direction. He knew what he wanted, and they were working together to help him achieve it. But she couldn’t deny that she was nervous about what would happen today, when he returned to training on the ice.

            She got out of bed, and changed into her running clothes, put coffee on, then returned to wake Misha. “Hey,” she sat on the edge of the bed and gently shook his shoulder. “Time for our run.”

            “Nyet,” he said in a sleepy voice, and reached for her.

            “You agreed to it last night. Nothing too strenuous, just enough to get your heart pumping and muscles working.”

            “Don’t need running to make my heart pump,” he pulled her down onto the bed, cupping her butt through her black running tights. “As for muscles…maybe we can stay in and work this big stiff one?”

            She laughed and squirmed away. “Nice try, but that muscle’s getting plenty of exercise. Rise and shine, big guy.”

            She threw back the blankets, leaving him no choice but to fumble around for his pants. She waited outside and he joined her a few minutes later. They took off at an easy pace, following the path behind the center’s main buildings, then out around the pond and back. Nothing too strenuous, just as she’d promised. Their lungs filled with clean fresh air, the morning mist was cool on their skin. They returned to the guesthouse and she bent over her knees, breathing out cold air. Misha did the same. He straightened easily. “How is your back,” she said.

            “Perfect. No pain at all.”

            “And the rest of you? Knees? Head?”

            “Knees are fine, and my head is in good place, too. Thanks to you, Amy the tiger.”

            She grinned, and stood on tiptoe to kiss him. “Ready to get back on the ice?”

            “Can’t wait,” he said decisively.

             “You’re going to be great.”

            He brushed a kiss across her lips. “For you, I will be.”


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Elizabeth Harmon loves to read and write romances with a dash of different.
 
A graduate of the University of Illinois, she has worked in advertising, community journalism and as a freelance magazine writer. She feels incredibly blessed to have a career that allows her to spend her days imagining “what if?” and a loving family that keeps her grounded in the real world.  Her debut novel, Pairing Off is a 2016 RITA Award Finalist.
 
An adventurous cook, vintage home enthusiast, occasional actress, and entry-level figure skater, Elizabeth makes her home in the Midwest, where life is good, but the sports teams aren’t. She loves to hang out on her front porch, or at her favorite local establishments, enjoy good food and wine, and talk writing with anyone who will listen.

 

 
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