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Genre: People of Color

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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Friday, July 8, 2016

Audio Review: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

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

Audio Review: Six of Crows by Leigh BardugoSix of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Narrator: Brandon Rubin, David LeDoux, Elizabeth Evans, Jay Snyder, Lauren Fortgang, Roger Clark, Tristan Morris
Series: Six of Crows,
Published by Brilliance Audio on 29 Sept 2015
Genres: Abduction, Action & Adventure, Assassins, Death & Dying, Diseases, Emotions & Feelings, Epic Fantasy, Espionage, Friendship, Health & Daily Living, Illnesses & Injuries, Mystery & Detective, People of Color, Politics & Intrigue, Road Trip, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Suspense, Witches & Wizards, Young Adult
Length: 15 hrs and 9 mins
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible.com
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
four-stars
Also by this author: Shadow & Bone, Summer Days and Summer Nights

Place(s) Traveled To: Ketterdam, Kerch // Dierholm, Fjerda

First Line(s): Joost had two problems: the moon and his mustache.

Narrators: Jay Snyder (Matthias), David LeDoux (Kaz), Brandon Rubin (Jesper), Lauren Fortgang (Inej), Roger Clark (Pekka), Elizabeth Evans (Nina), and Tristan Morris (Joost)

Confession time, although this won’t come as a surprise to some, but I did not like SHADOW & BONE (my review). It was such a struggle to get through and I just couldn’t be bothered with the other books in that series. So when I heard that Leigh Bardugo’s next series was also set in the Grisha universe I wasn’t sure if I would read SIX OF CROWS. But I was curious and so I kept sussing out what people thought about it and then when I was looking for a new audiobook it just up and stumbled into my basket. The SIX OF CROWS audio is a full cast recording and uses different narrators for each POV. I was intrigued by this and it wasn’t long before the story grabbed a hold of me in a way that SHADOW & BONE never did.

Curiosity

I’ll admit SIX OF CROWS did start a little slow but it wasn’t long before I was engrossed in the story. I loved how all the different narrators approached this story and the life that they gave to these characters. Each narrator really helped bring out the personality of the characters, not just the one of the POV they were acting out but all the characters that they voiced. It was interesting to see how the narrators saw the others in this motley crew and I never had any issues figuring out who was who. I also found it  very help to listen to the audio as I’m sure I’d have stumbled over many of the names and words used in this book.

Six of Crows Quote

At its heart SIX OF CROWS is a heist story and if you like a good heist story then you will like this book. There is intrigue and betrayal and a whole lot of shenanigans. But its also a story of friendship, of family, and of finding oneself despite all of the odds. Its a coming of age story and its even a love story on some levels. There really is something for everyone in SIX OF CROWS and its fast paced enough to keep the reader on the edge of their seat. I know that I spent every free moment I could listening to this audio because once I became invested in this story I couldn’t stop listening. I just wanted to know more and when I hit the end I was bereft because it was over.

Another thing I like about SIX OF CROWS is that it has an ending. Oh there are still things that are left to be done and even a wee cliff hanger but you know were most of the players stand and you see the set up for things that will happen in CROOKED KINGDOM. But best of all, its not predictable. I have no idea where this story is going I just have my hopes and my fears on what Bardugo is going to go. SIX OF CROWS is an intricately woven story and I h ave no doubts that CROOKED KINGDOM is going to be the same. There are twists and turns around every corner and a whole lot of heartache and shenanigans ahead.

I did not expect to like SIX OF CROWS as much as I did. I wasn’t even sure that I would read it. But I am so very very glad that I did because I was so engrossed in this story. For me, its a whole different style and delivery than SHADOW & BONE. The characters have more depth and they are smart and feisty and while flawed they aren’t broken. Bardugo weaves in the history of the Grisha world and the backstorys of this crews expertly in the story that there are no slow info dump moments. SIX OF CROWS is definitely a story that can be read independently of SHADOW & BONE. So if you haven’t gotten around to reading that one yet, or if you are like me and you didn’t like it all that much I would say that you can easily pick this one up and know what is going on with the world and not be lost.

thumbs up

irishdarkblue

IR - Six of Crows

Add The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

Add Heist Society by Ally Carter to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

four-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, 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
Narrator: Jennifer Ikeda
Series: Fire and Thorns,
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
Length: 12 hrs and 9 mins
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
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)

two-stars
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Thursday, April 7, 2016

Review: Out of Frame by Megan Erickson

Posted by Irish in 3 Stars, New Adult, Review0 Comments

Review: Out of Frame by Megan EricksonOut of Frame by Megan Erickson
Series: In Focus,
Also in this series: Trust the Focus, Focus On Me
Published by Intermix on 15 March 2016
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, Friendship, Love & Romance, Movie Stars, New Adult, People & Places, People of Color, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues
Pages: 202
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
three-stars
Also by this author: Trust the Focus, Focus On Me, Make it Count, Changing His Game, Playing for Her Heart, Tied to Trouble, Strong Signal, Fast Connection, Leveling the Field

Place(s) Traveled To: Plymouth, North Carolina // Atlantic Ocean // Fort Lauderdale, Florida

First Line(s): I wanted to pretend I was Kate Winslet, gazing at the large cruise ship from under the wide brim of my black-and-white hat.

OUT OF FRAME by Megan Erickson is the newest book in her In Focus series which feature new adult LGBT characters. The main character in OUT OF FRAME, Quinn, is BFFs with Colin Hartman’s sister and you may remember him from FOCUS ON ME (my review). I like how Erickson’s books, at least with this series, all have characters that are loosely connected but that the story can be read as a standalone if the reader wants to do so. Another thing I like about Erickson’s In Focus series is that they have all been road trip books and while OUT OF FRAME is set on a cruise ship it still fits that bill. And you know how I love my road trip books. OUT OF FRAME was an anticipated title for me this year so I may have rushed through what I was reading and pushed my TBR pile aside to get to it. But while I liked OUT OF FRAME, I didn’t love it as much as the previous books.

For me, the romance just progressed too slowly. Quinn and JR have just a limited time together while on this cruise ship so while I’m glad that Erickson didn’t rush them into anything it just left me unsatisfied. There really wasn’t time in this story for a relationship between Quinn and JR to be realistic and there wasn’t a ton of character development. All in all Quinn and JR may have had 2 days to be together with the rest of the short cruise feeling each other out and getting to know who they were. Quinn may have though he knew JR as JR was on a reality show but that isn’t really who he is. So I just didn’t buy that they fell in love that quickly which left me a little disappointed in the ending. I get that love at first sight can happen but this one just left me feeling a bit meh.

Out of Frame Quote

I also found the secondary characters in OUT OF FRAME to be a distraction. Not in a bad way but they often seemed more lively, fun and interesting than the two main characters. I wanted to know more about all of JR’s cast mates and more about Jess as well. While I did like how these secondary cast members fleshed out the story and brought it to life I shouldn’t want to know more about them than I do the main characters. I guess that Quinn and JR were just a little two-dimensional for me and they fell a bit flat that I was so easily distracted away from their story.

OUT OF FRAME isn’t a bad book but it is defiantly not my favorite in the series nor is it my favorite new adult or LGBT read. Its a good book to read to while away a few hours and perfect to bring with you to the beach. Its an uncomplicated story with a happily ever after and sometimes thats really all you need in a book. I am also glad that I read it as I did get to meet Liam who I adored and who will be getting his own book this fall with OVEREXPOSED which promises to be a bit of an emotional read.

irishdarkblue

IR - Out of Frame

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

Add Out of Play by Nyrae Dawn and Jolene Perry to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

three-stars
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Monday, April 4, 2016

Review: Revived by Samantha Towle

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Adult, Review0 Comments

Review: Revived by Samantha TowleRevived by Samantha Towle
Series: Revved, Book 2
Also in this series: Revved
Published by Self-Published on 12 July 2015
Genres: Adult, Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Friendship, Illnesses & Injuries, Love & Romance, People & Places, People of Color, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Sports & Athletics
Pages: 312
Format: Paperback
Source: Gift
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars
Also by this author: Revved

Place(s) Traveled To: Manchester, England // Sao Paulo, Brazil // London, England // Banbury, England // Northampton, England // Budapest, Hungary // Stavelot, Belgium // Monza, Italy // Yas Island, Abu Dhabi

First Line: Two pink lines.

REVIVED by Samantha Towle is the companion book to REVVED (my review) and stars a character that we briefly meet in that book, playboy racer Leandro Silva. Leandro is a rival of Carrick in REVVED but after an incident that happens at the end of that book the two end up becoming really close friends which means several cameos. Leandro’s lady love is a woman named India who is a therapist, a single mum of a teenager and a brother whom I adored. I’m usually not a fan of kids in books but I did like India’s son and how he interacted with all the characters, especially Leandro. Leandro meets India because she is his therapist (*scandalous*) as he deals with some residual PTSD. There is an instant attraction between them but they keep things professional as any sort of relationship is verboten.

I liked how in REVIVED, India and Leandro built up a solid friendship during their therapy sessions and how once they both realized that their feelings were too strong to ignore they broke off the professional portion of it. Giving the formulaic breakup in a romance a whole new twist. They also didn’t become an item right away and spent several months apart as India was afraid that he liked her because she helped heal him and he was respecting her wishes. (Oh sweet, adorable Leandro how I loved you!) Leandro is by far a favorite character of mine even if I didn’t find REVIVED as addicting to read as REVVED. And I think that was because of India and some of the things that happened because of her job. For while a relationship between them is not allowed when they are therapist/patient if that relationship is severed and enough time has passed then they can embark on a romantic path without risk of India losing her licence. At least, here in the US, as I did ask a therapist friend of mine.

Revived Quote

Even though there were things in REVIVED that bugged me, overall, I did like this story. I loved Leandro’s and India’s relationship and thought they had some pretty solid chemistry. I loved how Leandro reacted with pretty much everyone and I just adored this bad boy that was a bit meh on in REVVED. I liked who he became around India and I liked who she became around him. I enjoyed how he interacted with her son and acted as a father figure for in addition to his Uncle Kit. REVIVED was a fast read and I was sad when it was over. I liked this world that Towle created and have missed it since I finished this story.

If you like sexy, redeemable bad boys and the smart sassy women who love them then I think that you’ll like REVIVED. This book can be read separately form REVVED but I think knowing REVVED and Carrick only adds to this book. While REVIVED isn’t a perfect book its makes for a great beach/escapist read. I enjoyed this world and the characters and hope that Towle will write other books with some of the secondary characters. I’d love to see Kit get a happily ever after along with some of the others. Definitely worth picking up.

irishdarkblue

IR - Revived

 

Add Flat Out Sexy by Erin McCarthy to Goodreads.

Add Play by Play by Jaci Burton to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

four-stars
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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Review: Nothing Like Paris by Amy Jo Cousins

Posted by Irish in 3 Stars, New Adult, Review0 Comments

Review: Nothing Like Paris by Amy Jo CousinsNothing Like Paris by Amy Jo Cousins
Series: Bend or Break, Book 2
Also in this series: Off Campus
Published by Samhain Publishing on 03 March 2015
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, Friends to Lovers, Friendship, GLBT, Love & Romance, New Adult, People of Color, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues
Pages: 249
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
three-stars
Also by this author: Off Campus

Place(s) Traveled To: Colchester Falls, Iowa // Carlisle, Massachusetts

First Line(s): The girl whose nonstop monologue about intersectionality and film had kept him company for eleven hundred miles – from the East Coast all the way to the cornfields of Iowa – kicked him to the vurb in the pre-dawn hours, duffel bag at his feet, banjo case strapped across his back.

NOTHING LIKE PARIS is the second book in Amy Jo Cousins’s Bend or Break series and stars a secondary character from the first book, Jake. Jake was a bit of a bully in the last book and despite the reasons he thought he had the school has a low tolerance for bullies and he’s put on probation and might be kicked out. As a result he heads back to the small town where he is from feeling as though all his hopes and dreams are over and not sure where he will go from there. When he returns home he runs into his old boyfriend, Miguel. The two have some issues to work out but from the moment that their paths cross again there is chemistry. For the most part I liked their relationship and story better than OFF CAMPUS (my review) but I still had some issues with it.

Most especially with all the derogatory comments about Community Colleges. Miguel is a small business owner taking classes to get a degree and Jake kind of shits all over that. Jake thinks it would be better for Miguel to go to his big fancy school and that it was the only way for Miguel to live his dreams. But it seemed like Miguel was living his dream and that the only thing that was missing was someone to love and share that with. It seriously went up my butt sideways though all the horrible comments made on Community Colleges. Community Colleges can make for a great stepping stone to a four year college and they have some tougher and more challenging curriculums than some four year universities. Credits and that Associates degree are also transferable so I hated the implication that NOTHING LIKE PARIS gave that they weren’t, that the time Miguel spent at a Community College was wasted and he’d have to start from scratch at a four year university if he transferred to one. *hulk smash*

Nothing Like Paris Quote

My issues with how Cousins deals with Community Colleges aside, and when I strip away my ragey feelings, I did enjoy NOTHING LIKE PARIS. I have always had a soft spot for second chance romance stories and NOTHING LIKE PARIS did hit all the right notes there. I loved traveling though Jake and Miguel’s journey as their story made my heart ache. I was cheering for them all the way through to their happily ever after. Though I do wish that there had been a little bit more from that ending which felt a little inconclusive to me. Although maybe we’ll get mentions of Jake and Miguel in other books in this series so I’ll have to read them to find out.

I don’t think that NOTHING LIKE PARIS will ever be a total fan favorite for me but it was a quick read and kept me entertained on the plane ride home from Greece. Its a good brain candy sort of read that would make a good beach or crappy weather read. I liked how Cousins redeemed Jake from the first book and how he made amends for his actions. I always do enjoy a good redemption story because the characters are always so much stronger in the end. I enjoyed the bond that regrew between Miguel and Jake and they are characters that I will miss now that their book is over so I do hope that we see them again, some how, as the series progresses.

 

 

irishdarkblue

IR - Nothing Like Paris

 

Add Focus on Me by Megan Erickson to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

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

three-stars
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Monday, March 28, 2016

Review: Bookishly Ever After by Isabel Bandeira

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

Review: Bookishly Ever After by Isabel BandeiraBookishly Ever After by Isabel Bandeira
Series: Ever After,
Published by Spencer Hill on 19 January 2016
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Family, Friendship, Love & Romance, People of Color, Young Adult
Pages: 378
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
three-stars

Place(s) Traveled To: Lambertfield, New Jersey // Pine Barrons, New Jersey // Boston,

First Line(s): I rocked forward, balancing my book on my knees and tried to ignore the yelling and chatter around me.

BOOKISHLY EVER AFTER by Isabel Bandeira is a book that had me written all over it and I was very excited to receive a review copy of it. For me, this was a short read and I read it on the plane on the way home from visiting a friend in Michigan. It kept me awake and entertained but it was also kind of forgettable. This is the sort of book that I’m wishing I’d read on my ereader or when connected to wifi because I have no notes for it and only a few dog-eared pages (*gasps…I know!!*) to make things of interest in the story. I do recall that there were things that I liked out the main character, Phoebe, but there were things I didn’t like about her either.

Phoebe is the sort of girl that most bookish souls can relate to (and maybe even were in their high school days) she’d rather read at lunch than discuss fashion trends or gossip. Her idea of a fun day is to go to a book signing at the mall over shopping at the mall. That’s not to say she’s a total geek, because she’s not, she just isn’t always into the same things as her friends are. Her friends, for the most part, accept this side of Phoebe and let her live in her books but also make sure she gets out and enjoys the life of your average teenage. I did like the friendship aspect of this book and thought that Phoebe and her friends were solid and realistic and no frenemies in sight.

Bookishly Ever After Quote

Where Phoebe got on my nerves was with how actively she seemed to avoid the realization that a boy she liked actually liked her back. Despite all evidence to the contrary, and even with her friends shooting her therories down, she had blinders on when it came to Dev. As such, this girl ran so hot and cold when it came to him that it was frustrating to watch and I don’t blame Dev for how he acted at times. Dating is hard enough without adding mental obstacles to the whole ordeal…especially in the shark infested waters that is high school! I often wanted to reach into this book and give Phoebe a good shake because she was just so over the top clueless.

On the whole BOOKISHLY EVER AFTER isn’t a bad book. Its cute and fun but it is forgettable. This isn’t a book that I’ll reach for when my brain can’t handle words but yet wants words because I’m not entirely sure that it will stick in my brain for the long term. Its a clean book (from what I recall) and good for a younger teen but older teens may not like it as much as there is little in the way of drama. Which isn’t always a bad thing but sometimes you just want something more in a story. Perhaps it just wasn’t the time or place for me to read this book. Depending on its plot, I may check out the sequel but if its more Phoebe cluelessness and a breaking up of the HEA then I will probably give it a pass. I like HEAs and even though HS relationships rarely last forever I do like ending a book with happy characters.

 

irishdarkblue

IR - Bookishly Ever After

 

Add On the Fence by Kasie West to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

Add The Art of Lainey by Paula Stokes to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

three-stars
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Thursday, March 17, 2016

Audio Review: Serpentine by Cindy Pon

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

Audio Review: Serpentine by Cindy PonSerpentine by Cindy Pon
Narrator: Emily Woo Zeller
Series: ,
Published by Audible Studios on 29 December 2015
Genres: Abduction, Action & Adventure, Asian Mythology, Death & Dying, Demons, Epic Fantasy, Fairy Tales, Folklore, & Legends, Friendship, Ghosts & the Undead, Girls & Women, Love & Romance, People & Places, People of Color, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Young Adult
Length: 7 hrs and 54 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: Silver Phoenix, Fury of the Phoenix, Blue Skies

Place(s) Traveled To: Kingdom of Xia

First Line(s): The mountain was still shrouded in mist.

SERPENTINE by Cindy Pon was one of my most anticipated reads for 2015 as I adored her two other books SILVER PHOENIX (my review) and FURY OF THE PHOENIX (my review). As such I think that I fell victim to my own hype. SERPENTINE is set in the same world as the PHOENIX books but its a whole new story with a whole new cast of characters and can be read completely separate from the first books. The biggest difference between the two series is that Skybright is no Ai Ling. I adored Ai Ling so and I think part of me kept hoping that Sky would be a lot like her. This was a totally unfair comparison to make but I couldn’t seem to stop myself from doing so.

Perhaps part of my issues with SERPENTINE was the fact that I listened to it on audio. The narrator, Emily Woo Zeller, is a very good narrator but she read slowly. Which made the book progress slowly for me. I didn’t have that burning need to stay in the car as I’ve had with some audios as there wasn’t a whole ton of action going on or urgency in the narration. Where I was so super grateful to the audiobook version of SERPENTINE was with pronunciations. There is just so much that I would have totally bungled if left to my own reading devices.

Serpentine Quote

SERPENTINE is filled with rich details and mythology and I really wanted to love it but there was just something about the story that didn’t connect with me. Despite all the detail I’m not entirely sure that I got the whole story and felt a bit lost at times with what was happening the world. Or why I should care about these various characters. This could also be a result of the slow narration where I can’t say with 100% certainty that I didn’t zone out during my listen. Zeller has such a soothing and even toned voice that I found it to be quite relaxing.

Even though I didn’t love SERPENTINE I am still curious to see where things are going. I want to learn more about Sky’s origins and what the deal with with Stone. I want her to find her HEA with Kai-Son and for Zhen Ji to find her happiness as well. SERPENTINE is an interesting read and I think there is a lot of potential to the world and the characters. I just need to make sure that I am in the right mind frame for its sequel and to loosen up my expectations because SERPENTINE is its own book and story and I need to separate it from the PHOENIX books.

 

irishdarkblue

IR - Serpentine

Add The Star Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi to Goodreads.

Add Hunter by Mercedes Lackey to Goodreads.

three-stars
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Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Review: In Real Life by Jessica Love

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

Review: In Real Life by Jessica LoveIn Real Life by Jessica Love
Published by St Martin's Griffin on 01 March 2016
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Family, Friends to Lovers, Friendship, Girls & Women, Love & Romance, Music & Musicians, People & Places, People of Color, Road Trip, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Young Adult
Pages: 240
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars

Place(s) Traveled To:  Unknown, California // Las Vegas, Nevada // Henderson, Nevada // Fontana, California // Primm Nevada

First Line(s): My best friend and I have never met.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I picked up IN REAL LIFE by Jessica Love other than it sounded like a really cute story. After reading the first chapter I was hooked and didn’t want to put this book down. I loved Hannah’s voice and I loved her relationship with her sister Grace and her BFF Lo. Together they were fun and adorable and I wanted to be in the car with them as they road tripped it to Las Vegas. Their relationship isn’t perfect and there where times I wanted to shake Lo and Grace for their behavior, especially towards Hannah, but overall I loved their dynamic because it was real. Friends and siblings aren’t always going to get along and there are times when you are shitty to each other but that the love that binds them isn’t there. Love does a great job highlighting all these various shades of the friend and sibling relationship.

Love also does an amazing job with Hannah. As I said above, I loved her voice. She’s smart and pretty and awkward and all the things that so many people will be able to relate to. She makes a crazy decision to finally meet her BFF Nick, who she might also love, and jumps in whole heartedly even though she isn’t entirely sure what she’ll find at the end. I loved how Grace and Lo supported and encouraged her in this as Hannah was a little too straight-edged at times but that is in part because of her upbringing as a Korean-American and in part because her sister and Lo do enough crazy and they need Hannah to help ground them.

In Real Life Quote

 

IN REAL LIFE is a quick read and one that made my heart ache. Oh how I hated some of the things that happened because I wanted Nick and Hannah to meet and admit that they’d fallen madly in love. But then, if that was the story then it’d be pretty boring and I’d have very differently feelings. Instead, IN REAL LIFE has some secrets and twists and turns and heart ache as these characters all do and say things that makes you want to shake them. As a reader, I became totally invested in this story and felt so many feels. And even though there were times I wanted to shake Nick or Hannah or Lo or Grace I also adored all of these characters. I wanted everyone to find their Happily Ever Afters and I hated for IN REAL LIFE to end. Seriously, I need more words!!

For me, IN REAL LIFE is very much like ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS only instead of a boarding school in France there is a road trip and Las Vegas….though each book has the Eiffel Tower so see, the same! lol Hannah and Nick face many of the same obstacles as Anna and Etienne. Hannah and Anna are both girls out of their element and so a little shy and don’t want to take risks for fear of change. But they are both brave and while it takes time they each make a leap in order to take charge of their happiness. I think that Anna and Hannah would be good friends.

I picked up IN REAL LIFE expecting a cute story and I got that and so much more. I loved this book and I know that its one that I am going to be re-reading. Its a wonderful story and if you trust me at all then you are going to want to have a copy of it on your shelf.

irishdarkblue

IR - In Real Life

Click here to add Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

Click here to add PS I Like You by Kasie West to Goodreads. (Review coming soon.)

four-stars
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