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Posts Categorized: 3.5 Stars

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Review: Dance with Me by Heidi Cullinan

Posted by Irish in 3.5 Stars, Adult, Review0 Comments

Review: Dance with Me by Heidi CullinanDance with Me by Heidi Cullinan
Published by Self-Published on 26 July 2011
Genres: Adult, Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, Family, GLBT, Illnesses & Injuries, Love & Romance, Performing Arts, Contemporary Romance
Pages: 418
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
Setting: St Paul, Minnesota (2010)
three-stars
Also by this author: Love Lessons, Fever Pitch, Lonely Hearts, Short Stay, Enjoy the Dance

First Line(s): Ed Maurer tapped his thumb on his steering wheel as he inched through Twin Cities traffic, sloughing off a rough afternoon as he headed to Halcyon Center.

I became a fan of Heidi Cullinan when I read her series Love Lessons, in that series we meet a character named Ed Maurer who is the hero of her book DANCE WITH ME. DANCE WITH ME is a book with a trope that I like, the ol’ hate to love scenario and Ed and Laurie do not get along when we first meet them. Part of the issues between Ed and Laurie is because they don’t talk to each other. Once they do things start to change between them and they grow closer.

DANCE WITH ME is far from perfect and there were a few times where I rolled my eyes and got frustrated with the characters. There were times when the forward progression of the story stalled and Ed and Laurie just seemed to keep circling the same issues…getting and giving the same responses with the same distraction as a way to change one scene to another. Then there was that one scene that had me cringing. I won’t go into full details here but it involved a hot tub and a man that, while not blood related (I don’t think), but who Laurie called Uncle. And just *shudders* it totally took me out of the story and I wish I could scrub it from my brain.

dance-with-me-quote

Overall though I did like DANCE WITH ME. It was a quick read with an interesting cast of characters and enough momentum to the plot to keep me reading until the end. I liked Ed when he was with Laurie and vice versa. They two were opposites sides of the same coin and they brought out the best within each other. They each needed qualities found in the other to bring out things within themselves that they didn’t know they had. I liked how they worked to build a relationship even if they did go in circles at times.

As with most Heidi Cullinan books, the ending was a little too cutsey and too neatly tied up with a bow but I get why she gives the endings she does. They allow each book to be a standalone even as her characters spill out into her other stories. I loved meeting this version of Ed and Laurie which are different than who they are when we meet them later in the Love Lessons series. I like how her characters make these cross overs as it fleshes out the world that Cullinan has created and makes it a little more real. Her stories aren’t perfect but they do make for a good afternoon distraction.

irishdarkblue

ir-dance-with-me

Add Beta Test by Annabeth Albert to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

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

three-stars
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Friday, July 29, 2016

Movie Thoughts: Nerve

Posted by Irish in 3.5 Stars, Movie Thoughts, Rated PG-13, Review0 Comments

NerveTitle: Nerve (Official site)
Tag Line: We dare you
Release Date: 27 Jul 2016
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 96 min
Genres: Adventure | Crime | Mystery| Sci-Fi | Thriller
Series or Standalone: Standalone
Where Seen: Movie Theater (screening)
Production Company: LionsgateAllison Shearmur ProductionsKeep Your HeadSupermarché
Distributed By: Lionsgate
Director(s): Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman
Writers: Jeanne Ryan (novel), Jessica Sharzer (screenplay)
Stars: Emma Roberts (Vee), Dave Franco (Ian), Emily Meade (Sydney), Miles Heizer (Tommy), Kimiko Glenn (Liv), Marc John Jefferies (Wes), Machine Gun Kelly (Ty),  Brian ‘Sene’ Marc (J.P.), Samira Wiley (Hacker Kween), Juliette Lewis (Nancy)

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Earlier this week I had the opportunity to see a screening of the the movie NERVE which is based off of a YA book by Jeanne Ryan. I haven’t read this book so I didn’t know too much about the movie before nerve 4walking into the screening other than what the previews showed. NERVE is shown mostly from the point of Venus, called Vee by friends, who is your stereotypical sheltered good girl who longs to break out of her shell. When her BFF Sydney starts to play the hot new game, NERVE which is a mobile app that dares players to do crazy and outlandish things for cash. The more watchers a player has and the more daring the dare the more money they make as they race to be among the final two to win the game.

I wasn’t a big fan of Sydney as she is that typical faux-BFF that is seen all too often in YA books. Where nerve 3she’s only a friend when the other person does what she’s told and doesn’t outshine her. So when Vee not only joins the game as a player but also starts to gain a following Sydney is not happy. As Vee plays the game she meets up with Ian, a bad boy on a motorcycle, and they pair up to try and gain more followers. Ian helps Vee to break out of her shell and to see just how brave and capable she is but all may not be as it seems. This bad boy comes with some secrets and Vee is the one who ends up facing the consequences.

NERVE is a fast paced movie that provides a good social commentary on the internet and mob mentality. Its so easy to be a watcher and to remain anonymous as you egg others on to do things that nerve 5you probably wouldn’t encourage otherwise. Like to commit acts of theft, kiss a stranger, or moon a crowd during a football game. When you are anonymous, you are removed from events and so have the false sense of security that even though you are watching you aren’t culpable no matter what is going on in front of you. Or in how you might help in bringing certain events into being. The explosion of NERVE’s popularity among Vee and her friends is swift and addictive and like so many things on the internet seems like harmless fun. Things do take a darker turn as the movie progress and its a good reminder that even in real life there is a dark side to the internet and its always best to proceed with caution.

I enjoyed NERVE and I liked how it was shot both from Vee’s POV and from the POV of the watcher. nerve-film-1024As a member of the audience there are times when you are viewing the scenes as if from inside of a computer. You see just how unaware the players sometimes are of the things that are going on around them and how they are always watched even when the player thinks they are alone. As a viewer you also see just how invasive this game goes into each players personal life. Its scary sometimes to think about the access some of the harmless seeming phone apps we use on a daily are but in reality just how much data mining are these apps doing?

I definitely enjoyed NERVE more than I thought I would and I am definitely more curious about the book now and how it compares. I liked Vee and the journey that she takes over the course of this movie. Are things crazy over the top sometimes? Yes. But its a movie and an action one at that so I don’t expect it to be 100% realistic. But at the same time I can see something like NERVE taking a city by storm. I can see kids and adults alike wanting to take part and for these dares to come about. So in that sense the movie does have a realistic vibe to it. Even as everything does get tied up nicely at the end.

My Recommendation: Worth seeing but more of a Netflix night than a night on the town type of movie.

Bechdel Test

 

Does it pass the Bechdel Test?

Also known as the Bechdel–Wallace test, the test is named after the American cartoonist Alison Bechdel, in whose comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For it first appeared in 1985. Bechdel credited the idea to a friend, Liz Wallace, and to the writings of Virginia Woolf. The Bechdel test asks whether a work of fiction features at least two women who talk to each other about something other than a man. The requirement that the two women must be named is sometimes added. Only about half of all films meet these requirements, according to user-edited databases and the media industry press. The test is used as an indicator for the active presence of women in films and other fiction, and to call attention to gender inequality in fiction due to sexism.

NERVE Bedschel Results:

1. Does it have at least two named women? Yes
2. Who talk to each other? Yes
3. About something besides a man? Yes

 

Pass

 

irishdarkblue

three-half-stars
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Thursday, July 28, 2016

Review: Leveling the Field by Megan Erickson

Posted by Irish in 3.5 Stars, Adult, Review0 Comments

Review: Leveling the Field by Megan EricksonLeveling the Field by Megan Erickson
Series: Gamers,
Also in this series: Changing His Game, Playing for Her Heart, Tied to Trouble
Published by Entangled Brazen on 02 May 2016
Genres: Adult, Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, Love & Romance, People of Color, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues
Pages: 162
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
three-half-stars
Also by this author: Trust the Focus, Focus On Me, Make it Count, Changing His Game, Playing for Her Heart, Tied to Trouble, Out of Frame, Strong Signal, Fast Connection

Place(s) Traveled To: Willow Park, Pennsylvania

First Line(s): The guy was late. Lissa Kingsman glanced at the clock on the wall of the office and tried not to look as irritated as she felt.

Ever since we first meet Ethan in Megan Erickson’s PLAYING FOR HER HEART (my reivew). I always love a good tortured hero story and I couldn’t wait to meet the girl who would break Ethan out of his shell. And Lissa did not disappoint. LEVELING THE FIELD is the final book in Erickson’s Gamers series and Ethan is the perfect character to conclude the series. I loved getting to know more about him and I loved watching as Lissa helped to break him out of his self-imposed solitude. Lissa is a fierce, strong heroine who doesn’t put up with any of Ethan’s bullshit and I loved that about her. I also loved her family and so it kind of makes me sad that this series is over because we won’t be able to see more of them, particularly her brother who I just adored. As with the other books in this series, the secondary characters really help to make the story and I loved being able to check in with characters from the previous books.

LEVELING THE FIELD is a short book and I do wish that it had been longer but this story totally sucked me in and kept me up into the wee hours of the night. I liked the tension between Lissa and Ethan and their chemistry but do with that they had more time together to be with each other and not just hooking up. Seemed liked they’d meet up, hook up, get into a fight and then part for a couple of weeks and then repeat. It was frustrating to me because I just wanted them to be together and find that happily ever after that I knew they each deserved. Although Ethan did have a lot of emotional baggage to deal with first and I think that Erickson handled that aspect of the story well. But I do think if could have been better if LEVELING THE FIELD was longer and if maybe Ethan saw a therapist. The man’s issues ran deep and I think that having him talk to a therapist would have been more realistic.

The writing, plot, and pacing in LEVELING THE FIELD is everything that I’ve come to expect in a Megan Erickson book but for me this one didn’t pack the emotional punch as some of her other reads. I think that this story, while dealing with some serious issues, stuck close to the surface and so I didn’t get as emotionally attached as I sometimes do. LEVELING THE FIELD is a good book but its not my favorite of Erickson’s or in this series. But I do think that it is worth the read because Ethan really deserves that happily ever after. I enjoyed LEVELING THE FIELD and I do recommend it I just think that, in this series my heart will always belong to Chad and Owen. <3

irishdarkblue

IR - Leveling the Field

 

Add The Game Plan by Kristen Callihan to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

Add Romancing the Duke by Tessa Dare to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

 

three-half-stars
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Thursday, July 21, 2016

Review: His Royal Secret by Lilah Pace

Posted by Irish in 3.5 Stars, Adult, Review0 Comments

Review: His Royal Secret by Lilah PaceHis Royal Secret by Lilah Pace
Series: His Royal Secret,
Also in this series: His Royal Favorite
Published by Intermix on 19 July 2016
Genres: Adult, Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, Family, GLBT, Love & Romance, Royalty, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues
Pages: 185
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
three-half-stars
Also by this author: His Royal Favorite

Place(s) Traveled To: Jomo Kenyatta, Kenya // Cape Town, South Africa // London, England // Gurness Holm, Scotland (2012)

First Line(s): James’s private landline rang.

When I first heard about HIS ROYAL SECRET by Lilah Pace I thought it was going to be such a me book and so eagerly accepted it for review. Before I picked up HIS ROYAL SECRET I decided to read another book by her, ASKING FOR IT and I was worried as I just couldn’t finish that book. I was wary when I finally picked up HIS ROYAL SECRET but I shouldn’t have been because it was everything that I was hoping it would be. HIS ROYAL SECRET is a short book (185 pgs per Goodreads) and so should have been a quick read but for whatever reason it took me far longer to finish than it should have. And its not for lack of reading because once I started I had a hard time putting this one down.

I am a sucker for royalty stories and secret romances and HIS ROYAL SECRET had both of those tropes in spades. James and Ben have such an intense connection that I was cheering them on throughout the book wanting them to get they HEA that they both so deeply deserved. HIS ROYAL SECRET is also filled with complex and wonderful secondary characters and my main complaint with them was that they weren’t featured enough! I would have loved to see more of the Queen, of Cass, of Indigo, of Roberto, of….well you get the picture. But I also loved all the warm moments between James and Ben and watching them get closer as they carried on their secret romance out of the public eye.

His Royal Secret Quote

HIS ROYAL SECRET had a few ups and downs and it dragged a little in the middle but over all this was a book that kept me invested. I stayed up well well well past my bedtime on a work night in order to finish it. I also liked that HIS ROYAL SECRET has an ending which I wasn’t expecting since there is a direct sequel, HIS ROYAL FAVORITE (Goodreads), so I feared a crazy dramatic cliff hanger that would tear my poor heart in two! So if you decide to not read HIS ROYAL FAVORITE I think you’ll be happy but at the same time I was so glad to have a copy of it because I desperately wanted more of these characters.

This is a book that lived up to my expectations and I know that its one that I plan on recommending to many and one that I will also reread. James and Ben were real and vivid characters and their whole story was plausible. I loved the royal backdrop that this one had and the added complications it gave to James and Ben’s romance. I loved how these two dealt with those pressures, among other issues, and worked together to overcome them. I adored that HIS ROYAL SECRET didn’t have any pointless breakups or unnecessary angst. It was a wonderful heartachy read and I think that you should all rush over to your favorite e-reatailer and pick this one up today!! Go on….go! You won’t regret it.

irishdarkblue

IR - His Royal Secret

 

Add All Note Long by Annabeth Albert to Goodreads. (Review coming soon)

Add Us by Sarina Bowen to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

three-half-stars
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Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Review: Steadfast by Sarina Bowen

Posted by Irish in 3.5 Stars, Adult, Review0 Comments

Review: Steadfast by Sarina BowenSteadfast by Sarina Bowen
Series: True North, Book 2
Also in this series: Bittersweet
Published by Self-Published on 12 July 2016
Genres: Adult, Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Health & Daily Living, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues
Pages: 310
Source: Author
Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
three-half-stars
Also by this author: The Year We Fell Down, The Year We Hid Away, The Understatement of the Year, Blonde Date, The Shameless Hour, Him, The Fifteenth Minute, Coming in from the Cold, Us, Bittersweet, Rookie Move (Brooklyn Bruisers, #1)

Place(s) Traveled To: Colebury, Vermont // Montpelier, Vermont // Tuxbury, Vermont

First Line(s): The last time I drove through Colebury, Vermont I sat behind the wheel of a 1972 Porsche 911 restored to mint condition with a sweet new paint job in Aubergine.

STEADFAST by Sarina Bowen is the second book in her True North series and a companion novel to BITTERSWEET (my review.) Its in BITTERSWEET we first meet Jude and learn a little of his backstory but you don’t get the full details of his past until the start of STEADFAST. All that you really know about Jude is that he’s a recovering drug addict and that he spent the last few years in prison. On the Shipley farm he tries to keep to himself as he isn’t used to letting people get close but if you’ve read BITTERSWEET and have met the Shipley clan than you know that Jude was fighting a losing battle. He needs the Shipley’s because Jude is a man who was made to love people even though he hasn’t had the best of luck in finding the right ones to let in.

The Shipley’s aren’t the only ones that Jude learns to love in STEADFAST but we also meet his high school girlfriend, Sophie. The girl he loved above all other, except for maybe his drugs, and the one who he hurt the most when his world came crumbling down. Which means that STEADFAST has one of my favorite tropes, the second chance at love scenario and I just knew I was going to like it. And like STEADFAST I did, I just didn’t love it and I can’t fully put my finger on why. Because I liked Jude, more than I thought I would even, and I liked Sophie and I liked their story but something just seemed a bit off. Perhaps it just seemed a little too fast and that forgiveness came too quick that it didn’t seem real.

Steadfast Quote

There was also the whole subplot plot that while realistic also didn’t fully mesh well in my brain with the story that I was expecting. That and the ending just felt so rushed. I made a goodreads comment during one scene at the end where things just escalated very quickly that I got reader whiplash and thought to myself, what just happened? The events aren’t things that come from out in left field but I just think that it would have worked better in my brain if there were more words leading up to it. But this is just a me thing I am sure because I am an Angelica and I am never satisfied. I also really want Zach’s story and I think my desire for that may have taken away some of my eagerness for STEADFAST.

Overall though, I did enjoy Jude and Sophie’s story and was happy that they found their HEA at last. I was happy to see how Bowen incorporated the Shipley clan into this book because I loved seeing that whole family again. I liked the journey that Jude took because it wasn’t an easy one and it had its up and downs but it was real and raw and an important story to tell. As with all Bowen’s books, STEADFAST is a quick and engrossing read and it is hard to put down once you start. Bowen has a real gift for writing real relationships and I just love the families that she makes in her books. STEADFAST can be read as a standalone but I think that it works better if you first meet the Shipley’s and learn all of their quirky ways in BITTERSWEET.

irishdarkblue

IR - Steadfast

 

Add Lead by Kylie Scott to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

Add Double Full by Kindle Alexander to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

three-half-stars
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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Audio Review: Winter by Marissa Meyer

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

Audio Review: Winter by Marissa MeyerWinter by Marissa Meyer
Narrator: Rebecca Soler
Series: Lunar Chronicles,
Also in this series: Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, Fairest
Published by Macmillian Audio on 10 November 2015
Genres: Abduction, Action & Adventure, Death & Dying, Dystopian, Emotions & Feelings, Fairy Tales, Folklore, & Legends, Friendship, Futuristic Romance, Illnesses & Injuries, Love & Romance, Politics & Intrigue, Royalty, Sci-Fi, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, War & Military, Young Adult
Length: 23 hrs and 30 mins
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible.com
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
three-half-stars
Also by this author: Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, Fairest, Heartless

Place(s) Traveled To: Atemesia, Luna

First Line(s): Winter’s toes had become ice cubes.

Sometimes I wonder why I acquire a print version of a book because if I start a book (or book series) on audio then I typically like to finish in that format. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that despite my wonderful secret sister giving me a signed copy of WINTER by Marissa Meyer I ended up buying the audio version from audible. WINTER is a long book (824 pgs) and as such the audio seemed to take me forever to get through. For me, I think that WINTER could have done with another round or two of editing as there was a lot of repetition and things that just weren’t really relevant to the story at hand. The bulk of the story also took place over just two days so it just seemed overly drawn out.

I also think that WINTER suffered from too many POVs. I can see if it stuck to the main cast but there were many that were one off and to me that just comes across as lazy story telling. I love multiple perspectives to get a well rounded story, I hate a switch in POV just because it makes something a little easier to tell. My heart also wept for all the mangled science in this book. Oh my poor poor scientific heart and just when I’d become able to ignore (kind of) the antidote/vaccine issue too. But poor science aside, I do think that WINTER was a decent end to a series. There were many a heart achy (because emotions not bad science) that kept me invested in this story and the characters. I also adored Winter and Jacin and was glad to see things from their perspective this time around.

Winter Quote

 

I did have some issues with the narration as it seemed liked it was Rebecca Soler’s first time out of the gate and not the fourth book in a series. Soler would confuse voices that had been around since CINDER and the scene transitions were bad. Which made it difficult to follow along with the story. I often found myself hitting the rewind button to figure out what I’d miss and I’d also consult my physical copy (thank you secret sister!) just to verify what was going on when and who was the main POV at that time. I wouldn’t have thought that WINTER would have been a more polished audio than it was. And while I don’t entirely regret my choice to listen to this one over reading the print there were times I considered switching over before the book was done.

Now that the Lunar Chronicles is over I can say that I am glad that I read the series even if I didn’t fall head over heals in love with it. I do like Meyer’s take on all the different fairy tales and how she set them in a dystopian back drop. It was a fresh take on them and entertaining read. Though I will admit that Cinder wasn’t my favorite character of series and I lean more towards, Winter, Jacin, Cress and Thorne. Those are all characters that I would love to know more about and ones that I hope we’ll see in the anthology STARS ABOVE. Now I just need to find the time to read it and determine if I want to go print or audio. Oh, who am I kidding…I’ll most likely go audio.

irishdarkblue

 

IR - Cinder

 

Add Cinder by Marissa Meyer to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

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

Add Shadow & Bone by Leigh Bardugo to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

three-half-stars
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Thursday, June 16, 2016

Review: Kings Rising by CS Pacat

Posted by Irish in 3.5 Stars, Adult, Review0 Comments

Review: Kings Rising by CS PacatKings Rising by CS Pacat
Series: Captive Prince,
Also in this series: Captive Prince, Prince's Gambit
Published by Berkley Books on 02 February 16
Genres: Abduction, Adult, Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Friends to Lovers, GLBT, Love & Romance, Politics & Intrigue, Romance, Royalty, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, War & Military
Pages: 368
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
three-half-stars

Place(s) Traveled To: Acquitart, Vere // Delpha, Akielos  // Ravenel, Vere // Fortaine, Vere // Kingsmeet, Akielos // Ios, Akielos

First Line(s): ‘Damianos.’ Damen stood at the base of the dais steps as his name spread in tones of shock and disbelief over the courtyard.

I am not entirely sure what to say in this review of KINGS RISING by CS Pacat that hasn’t already been said. How do I add to the gush fest that I wrote of the first two books in this series? How do I accurately sum up just how amazing this whole series was and all the feels it made me feel? There really aren’t words for me to use to fully describe this book or at least none adequate enough as I still have trouble speaking coherently about this book. I picked up KINGS RISING immediately after finishing PRINCE’S GAMBIT (my review) because I couldn’t wait another second before knowing what happened next. Especially with how PRINCE’S GAMBIT ended!! Secrets have been revealed and that is just the start of all the crazy twists and turns in this book.

Damen and Laurent have slowly been coming together and Damen’s secret could be the thing that finally breaks them. The final journey of these two is just so heartachingly good!! There are few couples in the book world that have effected me as much as Damen and Laurent have. Their romance is a slow burn filled with secrets and mistrust and eventually nothing but hope and love. It takes three books to get them there but oh what a journey it was to bring them to those final moments!! The Captive Prince series is such a roller coaster of emotion but oh my stars I would give anything to experience this read for the first time again. There is nothing like that first read where you have no idea what is waiting for you with each turn of the page and Pacat definitely excels at building up the suspense!!

Kings Rising Quote

Oh Pacat does still use her fancy $3 words but I didn’t care about that as much in this book as the others because I kind of thought that KINGS RISING might be the book that would kill me. (Spoiler: it didn’t…but it came close!). KINGS RISING really put my heart through the ringer and despite all my hopes I wasn’t sure that it would end the way I wanted to. This made my read of it complete torture but I wouldn’t change that ride for anything because the emotional investment in a story is part of what I love about reading. I totally lost myself for the hours it took me to read this book. I was Damen and Laurent and all the side characters. I wasn’t in my apartment reading in bed but right there on the battlefield wondering who I could trust and who would betray me next.

While PRINCE’S GAMBIT is probably my favorite in the series KINGS RISING is a close second. I read the two so close together that its hard to separate them at times. All I know is that I went into CAPTIVE PRINCE thinking that I would hate the books and I almost cried when I turned the last page of KINGS RISING because it was over. The end of a series is so hard especially when it was such an emotional read but as I’ve said I wouldn’t trade this journey for anything. If you know me, you know that I don’t gush about a ton of books. I recommend a ton but I’m not a gusher. This series though, this series totally makes me gush, and for that reason alone you should give it a try. I don’t think you’ll regret it. I know I didn’t.

 

 

Kings Rising Thoughts

 

irishdarkblue

IR - Captive Prince

 

Add Captive Prince by C.S. Pacat to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

Add Froi of the Exiles by Melina Marchetta to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

Add The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

Important Note: Even though I compare CAPTIVE PRINCE to YA titles this is not a YA book and contains mature themes. This Irish Recommends is more for the adults who read YA and my blog.

three-half-stars
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Friday, June 3, 2016

Review: Captive Prince by C.S. Pacat

Posted by Irish in 3.5 Stars, Adult, Review0 Comments

Review: Captive Prince by C.S. PacatCaptive Prince by C.S. Pacat
Series: Captive Prince,
Also in this series: Prince's Gambit, Kings Rising
Published by Berkley Books on 07 April 2015
Genres: Abduction, Adult, Death & Dying, Emotions & Feelings, Fantasy, GLBT, Love & Romance, Politics & Intrigue, Royalty, Survival Stories
Pages: 270
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
Also by this author: Prince's Gambit

Place(s) Traveled To: Ios, Akielos // Arles, Vere

First Line(s): Damen came back to himself in stages, his drugged limbs heavy against the silk cushions, the gold cuffs on his wrists like lead weights.

When I first heard about CAPTIVE PRINCE by C.S. Pacat  prior to its release by Berkley Books I didn’t think it was a book for me and so promptly forgot about it. Fast forward to a year later and it seemed like I couldn’t get away from mention of this series in all my social media from a variety of readers. I then decided to look into CAPTIVE PRINCE further and requested a copy from my library to read. Regular readers know that I’m usually really wary of hyped up books and that was the case with CAPTIVE PRINCE and yet its because of the hype that had me curious to know more. The story is told from the POV of Damen who is the Crown Prince of Akielos who is captured and sent into a life of slavery by his own half-brother who has overthrown the kingdom. To increase tensions the place where Damen is sent is to Akielos’s rival nation and he’s given to Prince Laurent, whose older brother Damen killed years earlier during a war between the nations.

Tension abounds in CAPTIVE PRINCE and I have to admit that I was enthralled with this novel. The political intrigue was gripping and tensions were high. I loved Damen’s voice and really felt for the situation that he found himself in. I was also really drawn to Laurent, who reminded me a lot of Gen from Megan Whalen Turner’s Queen’s Thief series. Like Gen, Laurent is always several steps ahead of everyone and is an expert at holding his cards to his chest and in pretending to be something he’s not. I loved how these two interacted together as they started to feel each other out and while there is no real romance in CAPTIVE PRINCE you can see the seeds being set for the romance that is to come. But first both Damen and Laurent must go through some personal journeys and deal with some hard truths before they can get to their HEA.

Captive Prince Quote

Another thing that I liked about CAPTIVE PRINCE was the world building. Pacat created a rich and vibrant world that was easy to visualize throughout the story. I loved how she set up the various kingdoms and how distinct they were. I also liked how vivid the tensions were between Akielos and Vere which were also reflected in the tensions between Damen and Laurent. Although, I will admit that there were some things that happened in the court of Vere that I did not care for. There was a rape culture that existed that just made me uncomfortable and I rushed to get through one scene in particular. I also felt that CAPTIVE PRINCE was well written although Pacat seemed to have a fondness for big fancy words that were often unnecessary where a normal word would do. I pride myself on my vocabulary but there were times that I was glad to be reading CAPTIVE PRINCE on my kindle as it was easy to look some words up.

CAPTIVE PRINCE isn’t a perfect book and its not a book for everyone but I for one enjoyed the story. As I said, I didn’t think that it was going to be for me but in the end I was really glad that I gave it a shot as I really liked the overall story even as there were things here and there that I didn’t not care for. CAPTIVE PRINCE was a book that took me by surprise and then stayed with me long after I turned the last page. Its a compelling read and one where I was glad to have easy access to the second and third books of this series because once I finished CAPTIVE PRINCE I wanted to jump into the other books immediately. This is definitely a book that I’ll be re-reading in the future as I just fell in love with the main characters and their story. And I think that many of you will as well if you just give it a shot.

irishdarkblue

IR - Captive Prince

 

Add Froi of the Exiles by Melina Marchetta to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

Add The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

Important Note: Even though I compare CAPTIVE PRINCE to YA titles this is not a YA book and contains mature themes. This Irish Recommends is more for the adults who read YA and my blog. 

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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Review: Short Stay by Heidi Cullinan

Posted by Irish in 3.5 Stars, Blog Tour, New Adult, Review0 Comments

Review: Short Stay by Heidi CullinanShort Stay by Heidi Cullinan
Series: Love Lessons,
Also in this series: Love Lessons, Fever Pitch, Lonely Hearts
Published by Self-Published on 24 May 2016
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Friendship, GLBT, Illnesses & Injuries, Love & Romance, New Adult, Road Trip, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Short Story / Novella
Pages: 272
Format: eARC
Source: Author
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
three-half-stars
Also by this author: Love Lessons, Fever Pitch, Lonely Hearts, Dance with Me, Enjoy the Dance

Place(s) Traveled To: Chicago, Illinois // Las Vegas, Nevada

First Line(s): Elijah Prince would rather go to a sing-along showing of Frozen dressed as Elsa with a thousand whining children than go to the Acker Annual New Year’s Eve Party.

SHORT STAY is a novella by Heidi Cullinan that is a crossover between her Love Lessons and Special Delivery series. SHORT STAY is told from the POVs of Elijah and Baz from LONELY HEARTS (my review) and picks up not long after that book ends so you’ll definitely want to read that book before seeing where these two end up. SHORT STAY also includes lots of cameo interactions from Cullinan’s Special Delivery series which I had not read prior to reading this novella. So there were times when I was a little lost about which character was with who but overall I was able to make it through more easily than if I’d read the Speical Delivery series and not the Love Lessons.

I enjoyed reading SHORT STAY as I really missed Baz and Elijah but felt that there was a little more telling in this book than showing. The story felt a little more surfacy but it was a worthwhile story to read if you are a fan of these two characters. Even though only a few months have passed since LONELY HEARTS ends and SHORT STAY begins it was nice to see where these two were. I liked seeing how they still struggled a bit settling into their happily ever after but without adding in any unnecessary drama or pointless breakups. Elijah and Baz as still broken but they are much more healed than they were in LONELY HEARTS and by the end of SHORT STAY the reader knows that they are going to mend all their broken bits.

I do wish that there were more Walter and Kelly moments since they traveled to Las Vegas with Baz and Elijah as they almost seemed forgotten about once there in favor of all the Special Delivery characters. A cast that I may have been more excited to see if I knew more about them. Though I do plan on picking up those books as soon as I can just to see where all those characters originated from. Overall though, I did enjoy this story and would recommend it to fans of the series. There are some good heart achy moments and the story flows in a natural and organic way. It was fun revisiting old friends again along with meeting some new people. SHORT STAY is a book that will leave you smiling by the end and those are always the best sort of reads.

 

irishdarkblue

Short Stay Quote
three-half-stars
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Thursday, May 12, 2016

Review: Fever Pitch by Heidi Cullinan

Posted by Irish in 3.5 Stars, New Adult, Review0 Comments

Review: Fever Pitch by Heidi CullinanFever Pitch by Heidi Cullinan
Series: Love Lessons, Book 2
Also in this series: Love Lessons, Lonely Hearts, Short Stay
Published by Samhain Publishing on 30 September 2014
Genres: Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, GLBT, Love & Romance, New Adult, Performing Arts, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues
Pages: 270
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
three-half-stars
Also by this author: Love Lessons, Lonely Hearts, Short Stay, Dance with Me, Enjoy the Dance

Place(s) Traveled To: Oak Grove, Minnesota // Eden Praire, Minnesota // Minneapolis, Minnesota // Anoka, Minnesota // St. Paul, Minnesota // Burnsville, Minnesota

First Line(s): On his eighteenth birthday, Aaron Seavers navigated the sea of college brochures scattered across his comforter, searching for a future capable of pleasing his father without crushing his own soul. He was pretty sure he’d have better luck if he trekked out to the state park and hunted a unicorn.

FEVER PITCH by Heidi Cullinan is the second book in her Love Lessons trilogy and involves characters that we first meet in this book. Although we do get plenty of nice cameos from Walter and Kelly who were the leads in LOVE LESSONS (my review.) What’s nice about FEVER PITCH is that is does read as a stand alone so you don’t need to have read the first book although its nice to do so to fully understand Walter and Kelly. I devoured FEVER PITCH and read it in a single sitting and it totally made my heart ache right from the start. I was hooked from the start from Aaron and Giles’s first meeting to their separation to finding their happily ever after. I loved how Cullinan put her own spin on the standard romance script so that there was no pointless break up and yet still a whole lotta heart ache.

As with most romances, one of the big issues facing our two love birds is a lack of communication. But what does separate Aaron and Giles from the crowd is that they aren’t keeping pointless secrets from each other or making crazy assumptions based on the past and what little information they have on hand. Ok, so that happens a little bit but mostly these two are just too scared to talk to one another as they are afraid of taking the leap and getting hurt. At times it makes you want to shake them both but then its easy to get annoyed when you know what’s inside each of their hearts. What often matters in a contemporary romance is the payoff and FEVER PITCH totally wins at that.

Fever Pitch Quote

I loved Aaron and Giles’s journey. Not only are they college freshman (which comes with its own set of unknowns and anxieties) but they both also have lots of mental baggage to deal with. And its partially this baggage that keeps them apart. What I liked is that they do take the time to eventually form a strong bond and become friends and really learn about each other over the course of this book. Yes, there is some insta-lust as well but its something that totally works for this story and without it then we may not have had their epic romance.

I also really liked the various secondary characters that peppered the pages of FEVER PITCH. They were funny and real and just added a level of realism to the story that sometimes gets lost in books. What I didn’t like was the crazy bit of WTF-ery that happened near the end. It was totally out of left field and didn’t add anything to this story. Although it does set the stage for the third book, LONELY HEARTS (goodreads). WTF-ery aside though I totally enjoyed this book and know it will be one that I will re-read. If you like a good hear achy contemporary romance than look no further and pick up FEVER PITCH today.

irishdarkblue

IR - Fever Pitch

 

Add Love Me Tenor by Annabeth Albert to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

Add Trust the Focus by Megan Erickson to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

 

three-half-stars
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