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Source: Library

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Review: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Posted by Irish in 3 Stars, Adult, Review0 Comments

Review: The Girl on the Train by Paula HawkinsThe Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
Published by Riverhead Books on 13 January 2015
Genres: Abduction, Adult, Contemporary (No Romance Focus), Death & Dying, Mystery & Detective, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Suspense
Pages: 336
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
three-stars

Place(s) Traveled To: London, England // Ashbury, England // Whitny, England // Train between Ashbury & London (2012, 2013)

First Line(s): There is a pile of clothing on the side of the train tracks.

THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN by Paula Hawkins isn’t my typical book these days as I do lean more towards the YA but I do love a good mystery. So when I heard that THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN was going to be a movie and all the love for the story I thought that I would give it a try. I was initially intrigued by the story and found it to be very readable and I thought that I was in for a really good book. Then the middle happened and the book just lost all of its steam. It started to drag and I found myself not wanting to pick it up. That coupled with how easy it was to predict turned a story that was filled with promise to one that was just meh by the end.

At first I felt sympathy for the various POV characters but that too fizzled out over the course of the book. They were all flawed and that added realism to them but there was nothing to redeem them. Rachel starts off as a character that you think you can be friends with. But then as the layers are pulled back she just becomes pathetic and so very hard to like. By the end of THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN I really didn’t care what had happened to the missing girl and kind of wish that all the characters would be killed off.

THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN was a readable story but it wasn’t an enjoyable on for me. I figured it all out before the 50% mark so there were no great reveals and part of me wishes I’d just skipped to the end to verify before DNFing the story. I don’t get the hype for it and as such I am not sure if I’ll watch the movie. I like my mysteries to be engaging and filled with some sort of action but all I got from THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN was a static story that never really went anywhere.

 

Add Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn to Goodreads.

Add In the Woods by Tana French to Goodreads.

 

three-stars
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Friday, June 24, 2016

Review: In Her Defense by Juliana Keyes

Posted by Irish in 3 Stars, Adult, Review0 Comments

Review: In Her Defense by Juliana KeyesIn Her Defense by Juliana Keyes
Series: Time Served, Book 2
Published by Carina Press on 05 Sept 2015
Genres: Adult, Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Love & Romance
Pages: 272
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
three-stars

Place(s) Traveled To: Chicago, Illinois // Los Angeles, California

First Line(s): Whoever said it was lonely at the top was wrong.

At first glance, IN HER DEFENSE by Juliana Keyes seemed like it would be the perfect book for me. Strong, intelligent heroine meets her match in a techy guy who helps her to unwind. Caitlin is a high powered attorney who is an uber control freak with a huge chip on her shoulder and she’s one of the most unlikable heroines that I’ve ever read. She is mean to everyone and seems to love looking down her nose at people, including our hero who has the misfortune to have to shut off all her corporate access when she makes a mistake is forced to take a vacation. First off, I think the whole scenario is completely unrealistic and I don’t think that she’d be punished to the extent she was in the real world when she’s one of the firms top lawyers. Though, I do know, that in the real world she’d delegate some of these more menial tasks to underlings and so such a thing wouldn’t have happened.

But we aren’t in the real world. We’re in a romance novel so I can accept a certain level of unrealisticness. But I just couldn’t get behind Caitlin as there was nothing redeemable about her. She did go through some character growth throughout the book and I liked her by the end but it was a definite struggle and I almost DNF’d the book a few times because I couldn’t stand her. I did like Eli, at first, but it seemed the better being human that Caitlin got the worse he became. He was such an asshole by the end that I really didn’t want these two to be together. They just didn’t seem to mesh, at all. It also didn’t help that most of their issues resulted from a failure to communicate and how they over-reacted as a result from misconceptions.

About the only thing that IN HER DEFENSE had going for it was that it was a quick read. Buy oy…it was a struggle. The writing was decent enough and I will probably check out Keyes’s other books but I just couldn’t really get over how poorly written these characters were. They were mismatched and lacked chemistry and everything just seemed so forced. IN HER DEFENSE was a book that just wasn’t for me but I do know many people who loved it so definitely give it a try if you like a beauty meets the beast story, where the beast in this case was Caitlin.

irishdarkblue

IR - In Her Defense

Add Down for the Count by Christine Bell to Goodreads. (Review coming soon)

Add Playing to Close by Kat Latham to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

three-stars
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Friday, June 17, 2016

Review: Act Like It by Lucy Parker

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Adult, Review0 Comments

Review: Act Like It by Lucy ParkerAct Like It Published by Carina Press on 30 Nov 2015
Genres: Adult, Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, Love & Romance, Performing Arts
Pages: 199
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
four-stars

Place(s) Traveled To: London, England // Upper Bidford, England

First Line(s): Almost every night, between nine and ten past, Lainie Graham passionately kissed her ex-boyfriend. She was then gruesomely dead by ten o’clock, stabbed through the neck by a jealous rival.

I forget who first told me to read ACT LIKE IT by Lucy Parker but I do know that I saw mention of the book on Twitter (or was it Instagram?). But when I read the synopsis I knew that I had to check this book out as it contained a few of my favorite tropes and had the added bonus of being set in one of my favorite cities, London. ACT LIKE IT focuses on Lainie Graham and Richard Troy who are co-staring in a London play. Lainie is new(ish) to the stage but Richard is a well know star and he’s having a bit of a PR problem. The theatre company then decides it’d be a grand idea if Richard and Lainie pretend to date saying it’ll be a win-win for all. Richard’s image is improved by Lainie’s good girl influence, she becomes more well known, and the theatre sells seats. What could go wrong?

Initially, Lainie and Richard do not like each other. But the sparks totally fly off the page between them. They have a chemistry that can’t be denied and I loved watching their journey. ACT LIKE IT is a total emotional roller coaster that had me laughing one moment and near tears as my heart broke in the next. This book was a total heartachey read and I devoured it! Once I started reading it I couldn’t stop until I hit the last page and then I was sad because it was over. The feelings ACT LIKE IT made me feel were raw and real and *sighs* just so very wonderful!!

Act Like It Quote

 

I loved Parker’s writing style and I am sad that she’s a debut author because I can’t bounce over and read a huge back list of titles. Instead I have to wait with eager anticipation for her next book, PRETTY FACE, which is expected out later this Fall. I also loved how this book was set in a theatre and how Richard was this grumpy gus of an actor who comes around as he falls for Lainie. I do so adore my grumpy heroes especially those that resist falling in love because it makes their fall so much sweeter. And another thing I loved about ACT LIKE IT…no pointless breakup!! As per the romance book trope there is drama, angst and a parting of the ways and while I hated that there was a parting it was real, hard on the heart, and I loved how Lainie and Richard reacted.

ACT LIKE IT is one of those books I wish I could read again for the first time. Its a book that I know I’ll re-read and love every time. Its just a fun filled story and such a quick read that its sure to delight all the romance book readers who read my blog. It is filled with strong, smart characters with witty dialogue along with with sexy moments that positively sizzle off the page. As I’ve said there is a ton of chemistry and great banter between Lainie and Richard and they are a couple that readers are bound to love. For me, ACT LIKE IT, hit all the right notes at just the right time and just by writing this review I already want to pick this one up for a re-read. Its just that fun and enjoyable. So do yourself a favor and buy this one today!

 

irishdarkblue

IR - Act Like It 

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

Add Accidentally Married on Purpose to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

four-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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Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Review: Prince’s Gambit by C.S. Pacat

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Adult, Review0 Comments

Review: Prince’s Gambit by C.S. PacatPrince's Gambit by C.S. Pacat
Series: Captive Prince, Book 2
Also in this series: Captive Prince, Kings Rising
Published by Berkley Books on 07 July 2015
Genres: Abduction, Adult, Emotions & Feelings, Fantasy, Friends to Lovers, Friendship, GLBT, Love & Romance, People & Places, Politics & Intrigue, Road Trip, Romance, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, War & Military
Pages: 404
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars
Also by this author: Captive Prince

Place(s) Traveled To: Chastillion, Vere // Fortain, Vere // Acquitart, Vere // Delpha, Akielos  // Ravenel, Vere // Marlas, Vere

First Line(s): The shadows were long with sunset when they rode up, and the horizon was red.

After finishing CAPTIVE PRINCE by C.S. Pacat (my review) I couldn’t get the story out of my head so had to get my hands on the second book in the series, PRINCE’S GAMBIT. PRINCE’S GAMBIT picks up right where CAPTIVE PRINCE ends and is filled with even more tension and political intrigue. It’s also in PRINCE’s GAMBIT where the romance between Laurent and Damen really starts to heat up. Though this series is still what I’d call a slow burn in the romance department. There are no grand declarations in this book but lots of forays into what is to come and of course drama and tension. But not crazy over the top drama or angst. Everything about PRINCE’S GAMBIT is real, raw and organic and I just couldn’t put this book down!! I loved the push and pull between Damen and Laurent as they worked together against the Regent and also worked toward forging a bond.

In CAPTIVE PRINCE, you learn that Laurent has essentially been on his own and had to keep his own council since the day that his father and older brother were killed. He doesn’t trust easily and there are still so many secrets between Laurent and Damen so you know that shit is about to get real before these two can find a happily ever after. As I mentioned about, the tension is off the hook in PRINCE’S GAMBIT and I just couldn’t stop turning the pages to see what would happen next. The political intrigue that is the baseline of the story really hits its stride as events that were started in CAPTIVE PRINCE start to unfold. Laurent, as usual, always seems to be several steps ahead of the rest and yet there are still some things that take him by surprise which makes for much edge of your seat reading.

Prince's Gambit Quote

I totally fell in love with this story and liked it even more than CAPTIVE PRINCE. I stayed up late to read it with my heart racing for much of the last half of the book. Not that this book has a ton of crazy action to it, because it doesn’t, but the political drama and of course the growing relationship between Laurent and Damen really sucks the reader in. Although, the super big fancy words that Pacat is so found of did distract a bit from the story. Using words like expostulation in place of protest just seemed so unnecessary and while I do hate when books are dumbed down there is such a thing as trying to hard to sound smart. I think that this series could have stood just as strong with words more commonly used than some of the word choices that Pacat makes.

Overall though, I loved PRINCE’S GAMBIT and found it even more compelling that CAPTIVE PRINCE. I was hooked from word one and am so glad that I decided to give this series a shot. Its such a heart achy read and has defied all of my expectations. Its so rare for a hyped up book to live up to the hype for me and this series is one of those few that make the cut. When I finished PRINCE’S GAMBIT I was DYING for KINGS RISING because I just couldn’t wait to see how the series ended. This is definitely one series where you’ll want to have access to all the books before starting because the cliff hangers between each are killer!!

 

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.

four-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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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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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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Monday, May 9, 2016

Review: Pairing Off by Elizabeth Harmon

Posted by Irish in 3 Stars, Adult, Review0 Comments

Review: Pairing Off by Elizabeth HarmonPairing Off by Elizabeth Harmon
Series: Red Hot Russians,
Published by Carina Press on 02 February 2015
Genres: Adult, Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Love & Romance, People & Places, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Sports & Athletics
Pages: 250
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
three-stars

Place(s) Traveled To: Amsterdam, Netherlands // Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada // Moscow, Russia // Lake Shosha, Russia // Lake Placid, New York // Saint Petersburg, Russia // Sweetspire, Georgia

First Line(s): They spilled out of the Mellow Yellow, loud and laughing.

I always enjoy a good sports themed romance and so was excited to stumble on PAIRING OFF by Elizabeth Harmon as it involves pairs figure skating. Growing up I’d watch figure skating competitions all the time and so was eager to get a wee glimpse into this world. Add that to the Russian setting and I thought that this was a book that I’d really love. In the end though, PAIRING OFF was just a so-so read for me and it failed to live up to my expectations. I liked the main characters, Anton and Carrie, well enough but there wasn’t a ton of spark between them. Not to mention that for a good 60% of the story Anton had a girlfriend!! Then the last 40% is them faking a relationship until its no long fake and just no no no!

Of the two leads, I liked Anton better than Carrie though he stayed in his relationship far longer than her should have since he was attracted to Carrie and didn’t seem to care for his GF all that much. Carrie on the other hand was a bit spineless and often annoying. She never defended herself when the scandal happened and just seemed to let people walk all over her. Granted when you learn of her terrible parents you can kind of understand why and she does go through some character growth just not enough.

Pairing Off Quote

I also think that these too spent too much time thinking about an event that happened seven years previously and not enough time actually talking about the now. And as I mentioned above there wasn’t a ton of chemistry between them. There wasn’t anything about their story that had me longing for them to get together. In fact, I spent much of book yelling at Carrie to grow a backbone and for Anton to break up with his toxic girlfriend. I think I only managed to finish this one because it was so short a read and I did like the ice skating part of it.

Overall though, PAIRING OFF was just a meh read for me and I am not sure if I’ll read the others in the series. Especially since the premise of book 2 seems like its the heros job to break the heroine and her fiance up…on reality tv. Um….no thank you! So while this series may not be for me I did like Harmon’s writing and do think that I’ll keep an eye on her to see what she write next. I just hope she moves away from these cheating story lines and just sticks with two characters falling in love and not have anyone potentially get hurt in the process.

 

irishdarkblue

IR - Pairing Off

 

Add Playing It Close by Kat Latham to Goodreads. (Click here for my review)

Add Saving Maverick by Debra Elisa to Goodreads. (Review coming soon)

three-stars
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Friday, April 29, 2016

Review: Last First Kiss by Lia Riley

Posted by Irish in 3 Stars, Adult, Review0 Comments

Review: Last First Kiss by Lia RileyLast First Kiss by Lia Riley
Series: Brightwater,
Published by Avon on 23 June 2015
Genres: Adult, Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Love & Romance, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance
Pages: 352
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
three-stars

Place(s) Traveled To: Brightwater, California

First Line(s): Dear readers, There were so many sweet by worried comments following my divorce announcement.

LAST FIRST KISS by Lia Riley is the first book in a new series that is set in the small town of Brightwater, California. This book involves Annie Carson who has returned home for the first time since high school graduation to heal from her divorce and to prepare the family farm for sale. While home she meets back up with Sawyer, who is her neighbor, her first love, and also her family’s enemy. The two families have been feuding since before most people can remember and so that doesn’t make things easy for this Romeo and Juliet couple. Especially since Sawyer is a big part of why Annie left home in the first place.

When Annie lived in Brightwater she was a bit of a wild child and often the source of town gossip but over the years she’s grown up, married, had a child, and started a popular mommy’s blog to chronicle her perfect life. Only her life isn’t perfect and she’s struggling to keep it all together. She most definitely doesn’t need the added complication of Sawyer coming back into her life and she struggles with him wanting to start fresh.

Last First Kiss Quote

I liked the chemistry between Sawyer and Annie and I adored how Sawyer interacted with Annie’s son. I often don’t like kids in books and LAST FIRST KISS wasn’t an exception to this but it could have been worse. I did think that LAST FIRST KISS was a bit more awkward than it should have been. The dialogue scenes were a bit cringe worthy at times and it didn’t feel like real people were talking.

In terms of steaminess, LAST FIRST KISS is a bit cool and vanilla and there was a crazy escalation to the HEA which ended up being overly cutesy for my tastes. I also thought that all the blog entries were a distraction and I could have done without them. I think by the end of the book I started to skip them all together. Overall, LAST FIRST KISS was just a meh read for me and while I’ll probably read the other books in the series I don’t think I’ll be rushing out to do so.

irishdarkblue

IR - Last First Kiss

 

Add Catching Cameron by Julie Brannagh to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

Add Imaginary Lines by Allison Parr to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

three-stars
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