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Monday, May 30, 2016

Audio Review: You by Caroline Kepnes

Posted by Irish in 5 Stars, Adult, Audiobook, Review0 Comments

Audio Review: You by Caroline KepnesYou by Caroline Kepnes
Narrator: Santino Fontana
Series: You,
Also in this series: Hidden Bodies (You, #2)
Published by Simon & Schuster Audio on 30 Sept 2014
Genres: Abduction, Adult, Contemporary (No Romance Focus), Dating & Sex, Death & Dying, Emotions & Feelings, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Suspense, Thrillers
Length: 11 hrs and 6 mins
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible.com
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
five-stars
Also by this author: Hidden Bodies (You, #2)

Place(s) Traveled To: New York, New York // Bridgeport, Connecticut // Little Compton, Rhode Island // Fall River, Massachusetts

First Line(s): You walk into the bookstore and you keep your hand on the door to make sure it doesn’t slam.

 

My first thought upon finishing YOU by Caroline Kepnes was “what the heck did I just read?” but more than that I was lost in just how good it was. YOU is supremely well written and takes a character, in this case Joe Goldberg, who is a terrible terrible person and makes you LIKE him. Not just that but you kind of sympathize with him and understand why he is doing what he is doing. Which is a total mind fuck since Joe is a deranged stalker who kills people and so shouldn’t be a sympathetic character. From the moment that I started YOU on audio I was enthralled. Santino Fontana *is* Joe Goldberg and he totally brings this character and this world to life. I can’t imagine experiencing this book in any other format than the audio because Fontana is just such a great narrator. He gave me chills and he made me like Joe. Again, Joe is not a character to like so its slightly disturbing and part of what makes YOU such a good book.

I know that YOU isn’t a book that is for everyone and I think that a reader will either love it or hate it. I don’t think that there is any shades of grey with this one. Because Joe is crazy. There is no way around it but the people that he meets aren’t the best either. Not that any of them deserve their fate but when you see them through Joe’s eyes and hear his thoughts you can believe his rationale as it works for him. Even as you sit on the edge of your seat begging the other person to make a different choice since you know what Joe has planned if they make the wrong one. Before I read YOU I really didn’t think it would be a book that I would like but after…well…after I found it hard to leave Kepne’s world behind because she is just so talented and her words so powerful that I wanted the story to last.

You Quote

If you like thrillers and audiobooks that I strongly recommend that you experience YOU in that format. I think that the spoken word is just so powerful at times and with Fontana as the narrator it almost feels like you are sitting across form Joe listening to him tell his story. Which is terrifying since, as I’ve said, he’s a crazy stalker who kills people and not the sort of person that you ever want to cross paths with. Joe is a total sociopath and I just bow down to Kepnes in her characterization of this character. Joe is just so real that you really think he’s in the room with you as this book progresses whispering in your ear and sending chills down your spine. The images that Kepnes’s words evoke are so vivid that if I closed my eyes I could picture each and every one.

YOU was a fantastic listening experience and one that I wish I could experience again for the first time. This is seriously one of my favorite reads of the year and I like it more the more I think back on it. YOU is the sort of book that stays with you long after you read it and is a really hard experience to describe to others. I could not stop listening to this book and think its unlike any other story out there. Its totally riveting and I really can’t wait to see what Kepnes comes up with next. If you haven’t experienced this book yet then you need to move it up your TBR pile. I don’t think that you’ll be disappointed!!

irishdarkblue

IR - You

Add Stolen by Lucy Christopher to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

As of this posting, there is only one book that I can think of that makes a good read-a-like for YOU. If I think of something later then I will update this post. Or if you know of I good read-a-like then let me know in the comments and I’ll credit you and link back to your review!

five-stars
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Friday, May 27, 2016

Review: Shades of Earth by Beth Revis

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

Review: Shades of Earth by Beth RevisShades of Earth by Beth Revis
Series: Across the Universe,
Published by Razorbill on 15 January 2013
Genres: Abduction, Death & Dying, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Futuristic Romance, Love & Romance, Sci-Fi, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, War & Military, Young Adult
Pages: 369
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
three-stars
Also by this author: Violent Ends

Place(s) Traveled To: Centauri Earth

First Line(s): “Wait,” I say, my heart clenching.

SHADES OF EARTH is the thrilling conclusion to Beth Revis’s Across the Universe trilogy. Its a book that has been living on Mt TBR for way longer than it should have been but better late than never, right? As always, I enjoyed Revis’s writing style. She has a gift of world building and writing engaging prose that keeps the reader engaged and wanted more. Like all the books in the series its a quick read but its one that I didn’t enjoy as much as the others in the series. I think that’s because in SHADES OF EARTH Revis introduces a love triangle and I am so not a fan of love triangles. Granted this one is minor in comparison to others I’ve read but its still a nuisance because I have loved how the relationship between Amy and Elder has progressed over the course of these three books.

I also really didn’t like Amy’s father. My stars he was such an asshole! I hated how he wouldn’t listen to Amy or Elder despite all the knowledge and experience that they had gained about the Godspeed, the people on it and the planet they landed on. I didn’t like how her father kept trying to make things be how they would have been back on Earth and how he couldn’t seem to accept the changes that had happened over the course of the journey while he and the other Earthens were asleep. Although he did remind me a bit of the adults on the CW show The 100 when the ARC first crashed back on Earth and how they wanted to keep treating Clark and company as the children they wanted them to be and now as the capable adults circumstances forced them to be.

Shades of Earth Quote

SHADES OF EARTH also introduced a bit of WTF-ery into the story and so it lost me a bit there near the end. Overall though I was satisfied how this series finished up but I do think that Revis stretched believably a little too far with some of the choices that she made. Though things could defiantly have gone far far worse so I have grown to accept and care for on how Revis decided to end things as she did.  As I said above Revis can write and she brings that gift of words throughout this entire series and I am glad that I finally picked SHADES OF EARTH up in order to finish it.

If you like sci-fi adventure stories that contain a little romance and mystery then you should probably pick up Revis’s Across the Universe series. Its a fast paced series and one that I don’t think that people talk about enough. I’m glad to have read it and my only real regret is that I didn’t get to SHADES OF EARTH sooner than I did. But then again I do so hate when a series ends so that probably didn’t help matters. But you, dear reader, may not have that problem. So go forth and grab these three great reads today!

irishdarkblue

IR - Shades of Earth

Add Across the Universe by Beth Revis to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

Add For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

Add Illuminae by Jay Kristoff and Aime Kaufman to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

three-stars
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Thursday, May 26, 2016

Review: Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Adult, Review1 Comment

Review: Alexander Hamilton by Ron ChernowAlexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow
on 29 March 2005
Pages: 818
Format: Paperback
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
four-stars

Like so many other people I know, I have fallen down the Hamilton Musical rabbit hole. I have become a bit obsessed with listening to the soundtrack and its not uncommon for me to use lyrics in my every day conversations. With this, I’ve had a renewed interest in reading non-fiction. I used to read a lot more non-fiction books than I do now and I do miss it. I miss learning things but non-fiction reads often take longer to get through and I’m so busy that I often pass them over in favor of lighter reads. But once I started to listen to the Hamilton soundtrack I became more interested in learning more about the man that inspired it. This led me to picking up Ron Chernow’s biography ALEXANDER HAMILTON as it was the source material for the show.

ALEXANDER HAMILTON is a *BIG* book and I admit to being intimidated by it as the print is also small. So I decided to tackle this one in small chunks at a time and I was very glad that I did. I really enjoyed learning more about this founding father as I really don’t remember much of him from when I was learning about American history in school. All I could really recall was that he was a founding father, he was never a president, and he was on the $10 bill because he helped found the financial system. After reading ALEXANDER HAMILTON, I learned that he did just so much more. Its a bit intimidating when you think about just how much he did in such a short amount of time and here I am thankful I managed to make it through the day without spilling coffee on myself.

I will admit though there there was a huge chunk in the middle of ALEXANDER HAMILTON that went over my head and bored me. Those were the sections where Chernow covered Hamilton’s financial plan and covered in detail all that he did to set up the banking system, stock market, and so much more. It was dry and my brain doesn’t naturally gravitate to numbers and such so the book lost me a bit there. But I do know that so much of what we know of modern American banking and government wouldn’t exist as we know it if it wasn’t for Hamilton’s influence. Hamilton was a genius and a visionary and we are so lucky to have had him on our side during the revolution.

What I loved about this book was learning all the personal details of Hamilton’s life. I was happy/sad to learn all the details that Lin-Manuel Miranda changed to make the musical flow better. I also may have cried when I got near the end of this tome. The musical has effected me on such an emotional level that its hard not to get teary eyed when it comes to reading about Phillip’s death and then Hamilton’s. I think this may be the first time that a non-fiction read has effected me this much. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. If you are a fan of the musical, or even of history, then ALEXANDER HAMILTON is a book that you should pick up. Its informative and important and gripping in many ways. Reading ALEXANDER HAMILTON has also renewed my interest in reading non-fiction and now I want to read more about our founding fathers to see how other biographers portray Hamilton and how their subjects contrast to how Chernow wrote about them. When I was reading the book I was lost in Hamilton’s life and at the end I was so glad to have invested the time to read it.

irishdarkblue Hamilton Quote
four-stars
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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Audio Review: Love, Lucas by Chantele Sedgwick

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

Audio Review: Love, Lucas by Chantele SedgwickLove, Lucas by Chantele Sedgwick
Narrator: Allison McLemore
Published by Audible Studios on 17 July 2015
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Death & Dying, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Friendship, Love & Romance, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Young Adult
Length: 6 hrs and 47 mins
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible.com
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
three-stars

Place(s) Traveled To: Unnamed, Utah // Huntington Beach, California

First Line(s): Everyone tells me funerals help with the grieving process, but I think those people are full of crap.

LOVE, LUCAS by Chantele Sedgwick is a book that I picked up on a whim one day while browsing Barnes and Noble where it then promptly sat on my shelf for a bit. Then one day later on I was browsing Audible looking for a new book to listen to and noticed that they had LOVE, LUCAS so I decided to use one of my credits to download a copy. From a listening point of view I really enjoyed this one. This was the first time that I think I’ve listened to Allison McLemore and I thought that she did a good job bringing Oakley and the rest of these characters to life. From a wishlist standpoint I do wish that there was a male narrator to read the letters written for Oakley by her brother Lucas but overall I really liked how this one play out. I also found myself listening to LOVE LUCAS whenever I could and managed to get through it in just a few days time.

The plot of LOVE LUCAS though is where things kind of go sideways for me. LOVE LUCAS is one of those books that reminds me a lot of an ABC Family (sorry Freeform) or Lifetime movie. Which doesn’t make it bad but it doesn’t make it great either and yet there is something addictive about it. Oakley annoyed me as she was just filled with so much angst. I get that she was grieving so I can give her a little bit of leeway but it just got to be a bit much for me over the course of the story. However, I don’t think that this will bother others as much. I also think that if I’d read my print version of this book that her angst wouldn’t have seemed as great. There is just something about listening to a book that really highlights the words in a story. As a reader, your forced to slow down and to really pay attention as to what is being said. So little things can something become bigger than what they really are.

Love Lucas Quote

I enjoyed the plot of LOVE LUCAS and liked how Oakley worked through her grief. Although the timing seemed off on some things. I also found LOVE, LUCAS to be repetitive, always giving same info several times but treating as if it was first time we’d heard it. I get some repetition in a book but this just seemed excessive. But again this could just be more noticeable (re: annoying) to me because I listened to the story instead of reading it. Like I said above though, I really did like this audiobook and would recommend it in that format but if your book pet peeves are similar to mine then maybe try it in print as these things might be more muted.

LOVE, LUCAS is a quick read. I got lost in the story when I was listening to it and I do plan on reading more from Sedgwick. This is a book that reminded me in a lot of ways of TWENTY BOY SUMMER and I think that while it has sad undertones is a book that makes for a good summer time read. LOVE, LUCAS is a book that isn’t really about grief but rather how does one move on from losing someone you love so much. Its a bittersweet journey but its ones that I am glad that I took with Oakley.

irishdarkblue

IR - Love Lucas

Add Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

Add Hold Still by Nina LaCour to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

three-stars
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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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Monday, May 23, 2016

Review: Lonely Hearts by Heidi Cullinan

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

Review: Lonely Hearts by Heidi CullinanLonely Hearts by Heidi Cullinan
Series: Love Lessons,
Also in this series: Love Lessons, Fever Pitch, Short Stay
Published by Samhain Publishing on 11 Aug 2015
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Friendship, GLBT, Health & Daily Living, Illnesses & Injuries, Love & Romance, Music & Musicians, New Adult, Performing Arts, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance
Pages: 355
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
four-stars
Also by this author: Love Lessons, Fever Pitch, Short Stay, Dance with Me, Enjoy the Dance

Place(s) Traveled To: Saint Paul, Minnesota // Chicago, Illinois // Minneapolis, Minnesota

First Line(s): As far as Elijah Prince was concerned, gay weddings could choke on their own cheery goddamned glitter and die.

LONELY HEARTS is the third and final book in Heidi Cullinans Love Lessons series and follows two characters that we’ve met in previous books, Baz and Elijah. LONELY HEARTS picks up not long after FEVER PITCH (my review) ends and it deals with a lot of the fall out from that book. Of the three books in this series, I think that LONELY HEARTS is my favorite. This is a series that just keeps getting better with each book and LONELY HEARTS is sure to make readers feel ALL THE FEELS. At least, it did for me. I just loved Baz and Elijah and the growth that they both go through over the course of the story. These two are both broken in different ways and I just liked how they both helped each other to heal.

There are times that I felt that LONELY HEARTS was a bit surfacy and even a little cutesey near the end but overall I just fell head over heels for the story and found it really hard to put down. Overall though, LONELY HEARTS is a bit deeper and grittier than the previous books and that is due in part because the demons that Baz and Elijah are fighting are bigger. Elijah had such a screwed up upbringing and at the end of FEVER PITCH he’s left adrift and seemingly alone. But fortunately for him, he had Aaron for a roommate and Aaron isn’t about to let Elijah disappear into himself. Between Aaron and Baz and the rest of the gang Elijah really comes into the person that he was always meant to be. He’s not perfectly in his happy place by the end but he’s definitely on his way there.

Lonely Hearts Quote

Baz too is dealing with issues and I really liked how Elijah accepted his medical issues and also helped him to deal with them. Baz was injured badly in an accident years before LONELY HEARTS begins and so some of the affectations that you see in FEVER PITCH are really much needed shields that he’s put into place to help him lead as normal a life as possible. Baz is also pretty adrift at the start of the book unsure where to go especially with most of his friends having recently graduated. So it helps him to have a project (if you will) in Elijah as it helps to give him purpose. And through that he also stumbles onto a path that will give him a life after graduation because that’s not something he can put off forever.

I just loved how Baz and Elijah interacted throughout the entire story. Oh they had their ups and downs but overall they were just perfectly matched. They made my heart ache and had me turning the pages as fast as I could just to see how their story would end. But at the same time I hated to hit that last page because I didn’t want to say goodbye to them. This is one of those stories that I wish was longer, more drawn out, because then I could stay with these characters longer. Saying goodbye is the hardest part with a book series and that is so very true with this one. If you like a heart achy romance then you should definitely give this series a try!!

 

irishdarkblue

Lonely Hearts Quote

 

Add Strong Signal by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell to Goodreads. (Click here for my review)

Add With This Heart by R.S. Grey to Goodreads. (Click here for my review)

four-stars
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Friday, May 20, 2016

Review: The Revolution of Ivy by Amy Engel

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

Review: The Revolution of Ivy by Amy EngelThe Revolution of Ivy by Amy Engel
Series: The Book of Ivy, Book 2
Also in this series: The Book of Ivy
Published by Entangled Teen on 03 Nov 2015
Genres: Action & Adventure, Dystopian, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Friendship, Futuristic Romance, Health & Daily Living, Love & Romance, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 290
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
three-stars
Also by this author: The Book of Ivy

Place(s) Traveled To: Unknown, America // Westfall, Unknown

First Line(s): No one survives beyond the fence.

THE REVOLUTION OF IVY is the final book in Amy Engel’s Book of Ivy duology. It picks up right where THE BOOK OF IVY (my review) leaves off and jumps right into the story. I really enjoyed THE BOOK OF IVY and its sequel continues in the same addictive voice although I did find Ivy a bit more annoying in this book than the first. It just seemed that in THE REVOLUTION OF IVY that she was much more whiny and less sure of herself. Granted when you are thrust out into an unknown world with little means to survive I can understand her hesitations, to a point. What I didn’t get were her interactions with Mark, a known killer, and how she continually let him berate her and convince her that her crimes were just as bad as his and so she must keep his secrets. When all Ivy’s crime really was, was to be born a Westfall and how she married a Lattimer.

THE REVOLUTION OF IVY, like its predecessor, is a quick brain candy sort of read. Its engrossing even though it remains a bit short on details when it comes to the building of the world. Most of the characters remain two dimensional and are forgotten almost as soon as they leave the page but there are a few that do stand out. Most notably is Bishop, who I liked more and more with each interaction with him. Bishop is a good balance for Ivy as she tends to be all over the map in this book while he remains a strong and steady force. Bishop is the sort of book boyfriend that you really want to know. After all, how many people do you know would leave the protected walls of their village just to find you?

Revolution of Ivy Quote

 

The middle of THE REVOLUTION OF IVY was a bit slow at times as not much happened. There was lots of waiting about as Ivy tried to figure out who she was in this new world and just how Bishop fit into it all. Then there were all the things that she left behind and the role she played in events that were still in motion. This resulted in a crazy rushed ending that left me a little unsatisfied as it just lacked something. I think it just all comes back to the fact that while Engel writes pretty prose she tends to put much weight and meaning into the words. This makes the book sound bad, which is wasn’t, its just more of a surface sort of read than anything too deep.

I enjoyed THE REVOLUTION OF IVY and thought that it was a fitting end to the duology as any more books would have just dragged things out unnecessarily. For all of Ivy’s annoyances she is a character that I will miss along with Bishop and some of the new characters that we meet in this book. I like Engel’s writing style and know that I will be reading more of her in the future. While I can’t recommend this duology to hard core dystopian fans I think those that are interested in stepping foot into this genre will like it. I also think that this series would make good beach/vacation reads as they don’t take a whole lot of thought to read. Its a fun series not an amazing one.

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.)

three-stars
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Thursday, May 19, 2016

Review: Beta Test by Annabeth Alberts

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

Review: Beta Test by Annabeth AlbertsBeta Test by Annabeth Albert
Series: Gaymers, Book 2
Also in this series: Status Update
Published by Carina Press on 30 May 2016
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Friendship, GLBT, Love & Romance, New Adult, People of Color, Road Trip, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues
Pages: 178
Format: eARC
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
four-stars
Also by this author: Treble Maker, Status Update, Love Me Tenor, Off Base (Out of Uniform, #1)

Place(s) Traveled To: Santa Monica, California // Los Angeles, California // Seattle, Washington // Weed, California // Eugene, Oregon // Glendale, California // Pasadena, California // Unknown, New Jersey

First Line(s): Tristan read the manual.

In BETA TEST, the newest book in Annabeth Alberts Gaymers series, Ravi and Tristan are co-workers and the total opposite of the other. Where Ravi is bold and fearless surrounded by chaos and people Tristan is muted and more focus on his lists and spreadsheets than the world around him. But despite how different they are Ravi and Tristan are drawn to each other time and time again. While there are times that their differences cause conflict, especially as they wage an inner war trying to deny the attraction, they compliment each other. They just need to find some common ground and stop letting their differences get in the way of all that makes these two perfect for each other.

The conflict between Ravi and Tristan in BETA TEST is such an epic journey (both literal and internal) that its sure to delight many a reader. For BETA TEST includes one of my favorite tropes….a road trip. Oh how real people become when they find themselves trapped in such close quarters for days on end. You can’t hid and you can’t just walk away (at least not easily) and at the end you’ll either be really close to the person in the car with you or never want to speak to them again. Luckily for us, Tristan and Ravi, find their way to each other. They learn to admire the difference they see in the other, to compliment it, and are just so tender with each other at times they just make your heart melt.

Beta Test Quote

There is definite conflict between the two men and as with 99.9% of romances, Ravi and Tristan go through a separation as real world difficulties throw some stumbling blocks on the path to their happily ever after. But all the pain of that is worth it for that super delightful ending. And, as a reader, you just know that Ravi and Tristan come out stronger for those road bumps which help build the foundation of their forever love. BETA TEST is a slow build romance and I just loved reading how these two came together. I do love a slow build as those sort of romances seem to burn brighter by the time the last page is turned.

BETA TEST is a quick read and its so easy to get lost within its pages. Its not perfect, the ending seemed a little rushed and I would have liked a few more pages to really round things out a bit. But overall, BETA TEST hit all the right notes for me. It made my heart ache and made me sigh with happiness as Ravi and Tristan worked through all their issues in order to find love and happiness in each other. Its a sweet romance and I think that if your reading tastes in any way align with mine that I think you’ll like this one.

irishdarkblue

IR - Beta Test

 

Add Tied to Trouble by Megan Erickson to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

Add Love Lessons by Heidi Cullinan to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

four-stars
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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Audio Review: Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

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

Audio Review: Carry On by Rainbow RowellCarry On by Rainbow Rowell
Narrator: Euan Morton
Published by Macmillian Audio on 06 Oct 2016
Genres: Abduction, Adolescence, Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, Fantasy, Friendship, Love & Romance, Mystery & Detective, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Witches & Wizards, Young Adult
Length: 13 hrs and 42 mins
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible.com
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
three-stars
Also by this author: Fangirl

Place(s) Traveled To: Hampshire, England // London, England // Watford, England

First Line(s): I walk to the bus station by myself.

When talking with my friends after reading Rainbow Rowell’s FANGIRL (my review) it seems like I am one of the few that actually liked the little excerpts from Cath’s fan fiction story called Carry On. So when I heard that she was turning that into a book I was excited. Until I was not. CARRY ON is the name of Cath’s fan fiction but for this story its presented as the very last Simon Snow story and as such, I feel, as though it should have been titled something along the lines of Simon Snow and the <<blah blah blah>>. Although that may have been too close to HARRY POTTER which the Simon Snow story is clearly a  spoof of. Title aside though I still had some excitement but it all sort of fizzled by the time I had this very large book in my hands.

CARRY ON started off really really slow for me and I wasn’t a fan of the fact that they didn’t use a female narrator for the female POV chapters. Euon Morton does a fair enough job overall as the narrator but as with all male narrators female voices aren’t where he excels. I did like his vocal choices for Simon and Baz but the rest? Not as much. Speaking of Baz, this is a character that takes his own sweet time in showing up in the story. Things in CARRY ON do pick up a bit when he does but its still kind of a hot mess with little to no direction. There isn’t a whole ton of plot and the whole book is just sort of ramshackled together and I found myself rolling my eyes. A lot.

Carry On Quote

CARRY ON is also billed as this great M/M Romance and it fails there too because for a lot of the book Simon has a girlfriend. Then when he decides he likes Baz it just never feels real. Simon is such a surfacy 2D character that its hard to believe any of the emotions that he’s supposed to be feeling. And for a book that is a romance there should be more push/pull/something that happens between the characters. But with CARRY ON this doesn’t really develop until a good three quarters of the way through the book and then it just falls flat. A lot of this I think is due to the poor writing and the very mediocre narrator that was Simon Snow. I think if Baz had been telling CARRY ON I may have liked it a little more. Maybe.

From a fantasy standpoint, CARRY ON only barely squeeks by. Its just cobbled together with a bunch of tropes and its so very predictable. I guessed all the big twists very very early on and as such just sort of rolled my eyes at the attempted mic drop moments. I also felt that at times the POV just shifted way too rapidly that I almost got whiplash. I also didn’t get why certain characters were in the story at all since they did nothing to move the plot along and just bogged down the story. In the end, I was pretty disappointed with CARRY ON as I just expected so much more from this story. I think in the future I’ll still to Rowell’s contemporary works and turn to others when I am looking for a fantasy read.

 

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IR - Carry On

 

Add Wizard’s Hall by Jane Yolen to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

Add The Spirit Thief by Rachel Aaron to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

 

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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Picked up on a Whim

Posted by Irish in Top Ten Tuesday5 Comments

Graphic made by David at From My Bookshelf

Graphic made by David at From My Bookshelf

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish this weeks topic is all about those books that we buy that we really didn’t plan on buying. Maybe it was because of the cover or the synopsis or because the friend you were will pushed it into your hands and said BUY THIS BOOK! Here are the last ten random books that I purchased with no plan. (Links go to Goodreads.)

1. Dan vs. Nature by Don Calame – Dan Weekes has two dreams in life: to become a famous graphic novelist and to one day muster the courage to ask Erin Reilly out on a date. Dan’s mom, however, has just one goal: to date every man in the state of California until she finally finds her Prince Charming.

When Dan comes home to find a Hugh Jackman look-alike in his kitchen, he’s prepared to write off this mountain-man-slash-dentist as another soon-to-be-ex. But then his mom drops a bomb: she and Hugh—er, Hank—are engaged, and she’s sending her “two favorite men” on a survivalist camping trip in the wilds of Idaho to “bond.”

But Dan knows that it’s only a matter of time till Hank shows his true—flawed—colors, so together with his nerdy, germophobe best friend, Charlie, Dan launches Operation Torment Crusade—a series of increasingly gross and embarrassing pranks they’ll pull on Hank until he breaks like a twig. But the boys didn’t count on a hot girl joining their trip or a man-hungry bear stalking their every move. How can Dan possibly scare off Hank when his very survival now depends on him?

2. Down for the Count by Christine Bell – Truth or dare…or TKO?

When Lacey Garrity finds her groom in flagrante delicto in the reception hall closet with her bridesmaid, she’s saved by her best friend’s older brother—childhood tormentor, crush, and boxing bad boy Galen Thomas. Galen’s solution is both exciting and dangerous. What better way to forget the mess of her life than go on her honeymoon with a hot guy who can’t promise anything beyond today?

Galen had been counting on Lacey’s wedding to put her out of reach—and out of his mind—once and for all, but their steamy Puerto Rican escape is testing all his boundaries. Now that Lacey’s embracing her inner bad girl, Galen is tempted to throw in the towel and claim her for himself. But with the biggest fight of his career on the line and an important business merger threatening to derail Lacey’s resolve, their romance might be down for the count before it even begins.

3. Lumberjanes Volume 3: A Terrible Plan – This New York Times Bestselling series continues with Jo, April, Mal, Molly, and Ripley as they take on everything that goes bump in the night. From scary stories to magical portals that lead to a land untouched by time, it’s definitely not your average summer. (Lumberjanes #9-12)

4. Sutphin Boulevard by Santino Hassell – Michael Rodriguez and Nunzio Medici have been friends for two decades. From escaping their dysfunctional families in the working-class neighborhood of South Jamaica, Queens to teaching in one of the city’s most queer friendly schools in Brooklyn, the two men have shared everything. Or so they thought until a sweltering night of dancing leads to an unexpected encounter that forever changes their friendship.

Now, casual touches and lingering looks are packed with sexual tension, and Michael can’t forget the feel of his best friend’s hands on him. Once problems rear up at work and home, Michael finds himself seeking constant escape in the effortless intimacy and mind-blowing sex he has with Nunzio. But things don’t stay easy for long.

When Michael’s world begins to crumble in a sea of tragedy and complications, he knows he has to make a choice: find solace in a path of self-destruction or accept the love of the man who has been by his side for twenty years.

5. Alex by Sawyer Bennett – Hockey star Alexander Crossman has a reputation as a cold-hearted player on and off the rink. Pushed into the sport by an alcoholic father, Alex isn’t afraid to give fans the proverbial middle finger, relishing his role as the MVP they love to hate. Management, however, isn’t so amused. Now Alex has a choice: fix his public image through community service or ride the bench. But Alex refuses to be molded into the Carolina Cold Fury poster boy . . . not even by a tempting redhead with killer curves.

As a social worker, Sutton Price is accustomed to difficult people–like Alex, who’s been assigned to help her create a drug-abuse awareness program for at-risk youth as part of the team’s effort to clean up his image. What she doesn’t expect is the arrogant smirk from his perfect lips to stir her most heated fantasies. But Sutton isn’t one to cross professional boundaries–and besides, Alex doesn’t do relationships . . . or does he? The more she sees behind Alex’s bad-boy facade, the more Sutton craves the man she uncovers.”

6. Hidden Bodies by Caroline Kepnes – Joe Goldberg is no stranger to hiding bodies. In the past ten years, this thirty-something has buried four of them, collateral damage in his quest for love. Now he’s heading west to Los Angeles, the city of second chances, determined to put his past behind him.

In Hollywood, Joe blends in effortlessly with the other young upstarts. He eats guac, works in a bookstore, and flirts with a journalist neighbor. But while others seem fixated on their own reflections, Joe can’t stop looking over his shoulder. The problem with hidden bodies is that they don’t always stay that way. They re-emerge, like dark thoughts, multiplying and threatening to destroy what Joe wants most: true love. And when he finds it in a darkened room in Soho House, he’s more desperate than ever to keep his secrets buried. He doesn’t want to hurt his new girlfriend—he wants to be with her forever. But if she ever finds out what he’s done, he may not have a choice…

7. Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh – This is a book I wrote. Because I wrote it, I had to figure out what to put on the back cover to explain what it is. I tried to write a long, third-person summary that would imply how great the book is and also sound vaguely authoritative–like maybe someone who isn’t me wrote it–but I soon discovered that I’m not sneaky enough to pull it off convincingly. So I decided to just make a list of things that are in the book:

Pictures
Words
Stories about things that happened to me
Stories about things that happened to other people because of me
Eight billion dollars*
Stories about dogs
The secret to eternal happiness*

*These are lies. Perhaps I have underestimated my sneakiness!

8. Hamilton the Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda – Lin-Manuel Miranda’s groundbreaking musical Hamilton is as revolutionary as its subject, the poor kid from the Caribbean who fought the British, defended the Constitution, and helped to found the United States. Fusing hip-hop, pop, R&B, and the best traditions of theater, this once-in-a-generation show broadens the sound of Broadway, reveals the storytelling power of rap, and claims our country’s origins for a diverse new generation.

HAMILTON: THE REVOLUTION gives readers an unprecedented view of both revolutions, from the only two writers able to provide it. Miranda, along with Jeremy McCarter, a cultural critic and theater artist who was involved in the project from its earliest stages–“since before this was even a show,” according to Miranda–traces its development from an improbable perfor­mance at the White House to its landmark opening night on Broadway six years later. In addition, Miranda has written more than 200 funny, revealing footnotes for his award-winning libretto, the full text of which is published here.

Their account features photos by the renowned Frank Ockenfels and veteran Broadway photographer, Joan Marcus; exclusive looks at notebooks and emails; interviews with Questlove, Stephen Sond­heim, leading political commentators, and more than 50 people involved with the production; and multiple appearances by Presi­dent Obama himself. The book does more than tell the surprising story of how a Broadway musical became a national phenomenon: It demonstrates that America has always been renewed by the brash upstarts and brilliant outsiders, the men and women who don’t throw away their shot.

9. Ruthless by Michelle St. James – Two years out of college, Angelica Bondesan spends her time working as a barista, keeping in touch with her prodigal brother, and trying to figure out how to bridge the gap with her father, a wealthy real estate developer.

But all of that changes the night she’s kidnapped. Thrown into a windowless room, Angelica is positive there’s been some kind of mistake — until she meets Nico Vitale.

Gorgeous and frightening, Nico became the boss of New York City’s Vitale crime family after the execution style murder of his parents two years earlier. Since then he’s turned the old-school mob into a sleek, modern army of ruthless men who understand that physical violence — while always an option — isn’t the only way to get what you want.

Now Angel is forced to face the truth;

Her father is not the man she believed him to be.

Nico Vitale is dangerous, possibly lethal.

She is falling in love with Nico Vitale.

10. Lafayette in the Somewhat United States by Sarah Vowell – From the bestselling author of Assassination Vacation andUnfamiliar Fishes, a humorous and insightful account of the Revolutionary War hero Marquis de Lafayette–the one Frenchman we could all agree on–and an insightful portrait of a nation’s idealism and its reality.

On August 16, 1824, an elderly French gentlemen sailed into New York Harbor and giddy Americans were there to welcome him. Or, rather, to welcome him back. It had been thirty years since the Revolutionary War hero the Marquis de Lafayette had last set foot in the United States, and he was so beloved that 80,000 people showed up to cheer for him. The entire population of New York at the time was 120,000.

Lafayette’s arrival in 1824 coincided with one of the most contentious presidential elections in American history, Congress had just fought its first epic battle over slavery, and the threat of a Civil War loomed. But Lafayette, belonging to neither North nor South, to no political party or faction, was a walking, talking reminder of the sacrifices and bravery of the revolutionary generation and what they wanted this country to be. His return was not just a reunion with his beloved Americans, it was a reunion for Americans with their own astonishing singular past.

Lafayette in the Somewhat United States is a humorous and insightful portrait of the famed Frenchman, the impact he had on our young country, and his ongoing relationship with some of the instrumental Americans of the time, including George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, and many more.

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