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Thursday, July 28, 2016

Review: Leveling the Field by Megan Erickson

Posted by Irish in 3.5 Stars, Adult, Review0 Comments

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

Place(s) Traveled To: Willow Park, Pennsylvania

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

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

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

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

irishdarkblue

IR - Leveling the Field

 

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

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

 

three-half-stars
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Thursday, 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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Saturday, May 14, 2016

Blog Tour Review: Summer Days & Summer Nights Ed. By Stephanie Perkins

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

Blog Tour Review: Summer Days & Summer Nights Ed. By Stephanie PerkinsSummer Days and Summer Nights by Brandy Colbert, Cassandra Clare, Francesca Lia Block, Jennifer E. Smith, Jon Skovron, Leigh Bardugo, Lev Grossman, Libba Bray, Nina LaCour, Stephanie Perkins, Tim Federle, Veronica Roth
Published by St Martin's Griffin on 17 May 2016
Genres: Adolescence, Anthology, Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Demons, Family, Friendship, Girls & Women, GLBT, Love & Romance, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Short Story / Novella, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 400
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
three-stars
Also by this author: The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, This is What Happy Looks Like, The Geography of You and Me, The Raven Princess, Shadow & Bone, Six of Crows, Anna and the French Kiss, Lola and the Boy Next Door, Isla and the Happily Ever After

Greetings and Salutations Internet!

Today I am going to talk about the anthology SUMMER DAYS AND SUMMER NIGHTS which was edited by Stephanie Perkins. SUMMER DAYS AND SUMMER NIGHTS is a collection of twelve stories from various authors in the YA world that all embody the lazy crazy days of summer. This review will be set up a little differently from my regular reviews as it won’t be one long rambling post of my thoughts. Instead I broke things down by each story in the collection and shared my thoughts on each after I read them.

HEAD, SCALES, TONGUE, TAIL by Leigh Bardugo

Place(s) Traveled: New York, New York (1986) // Little Spindle, New York

First Line(s): There were a lot of stories about Annalee Saperstein and why she came to Little Spindle, but Gracie’s favorite was the heat wave.

Rating: 3 stars

This was an odd little story but one that reads like an updated version of a hodpge of different myths. Its a short story (duh) but there is so much included in it. It spans a few years and there is a lot of character growth and development and even some heart-achy feels.

Beach scene with striped towel, sunglasses, flip flops, seashell and starfish laid on old weathered blue wood decking.  Space for copy.

THE END OF LOVE by Nina LaCour

Place(s) Traveled: Berkeley, California // Muir Beach, California

First Line(s): I don’t realize how early I am until I open the door.

Rating: 3 stars

I liked this story and the voice of the main character, Flora. She was sweet and filled with a sadness that just lept off the page. This is a girl who is going through a lot and doesn’t quiet know how to process it all. For this entire story I just wanted to give her a hug and tell her its ok to just cry it out. I liked the other characters in this story as well, with the exception of Flora’s parents who were such selfish asshats! My big complaint with THE END OF LOVE is that if felt unfinished as if there is still a lot more story to tell and more to explore and I’d have liked to see this one as a full length story.

Beach scene with striped towel, sunglasses, flip flops, seashell and starfish laid on old weathered blue wood decking.  Space for copy.

LAST STAND AT THE CINEGOR by Libba Bray

Place(s) Traveled: Deadwood, Texas

First Line(s): On the last night of the Cinegore, the sky looked like it needed to call in sick, all yellow-green going dark around the edges like an infected cut, a summer storm heading in hard.

Rating: 2.5 stars

I liked the start of this one and thought that it would be a fun start to a summer romance. But then things took a crazy turn for the weird with the appearance of demons. Yes, demon demons and I guess it was supposed to turn spooky horror story but it just made me go…huh? Even with demons it might still have ended up a good story but it just sort of fizzled out and the ending just leaves you scratching your head.  It was rushed and just fell flat. Not a fan of this one.

Beach scene with striped towel, sunglasses, flip flops, seashell and starfish laid on old weathered blue wood decking.  Space for copy.

SICK PLEASURES by Francesa Lia Block

Place(s) Traveled: Los Angeles, California // Studio City, California // Calabasas, California // Camarillo, California

First Line(s): It was the first night of summer vacation when my friends M and L and I piled into J’s VW Bug and drove to Phases, the teen dance club deep in the San Fernando Valley, to escape sorrow and find the thing that we were looking for.

Rating: 1 star

Not a fan of this one at all. I hated how much distance there was between the narrator of the story and the reader. Its like you are trying to watch something from very far off. There was little to no emotion in this story either. No real purpose. Just words on a page that didn’t amount to much of anything at all. Just a sense of sadness and bitterness and I could have done without reading this one.

Beach scene with striped towel, sunglasses, flip flops, seashell and starfish laid on old weathered blue wood decking.  Space for copy.

IN NINETY MINUTES, TURN NORTH by Stephanie Perkins

Place(s) Traveled: Burnsville, North Carolina

First Line(s): Marigold hated this time of year.

Rating: 4 stars

Oh how this story hurt my heart!! Perkins brings back characters that she first introduced in her winter anthology and I just loved what she did with this story. I liked how Perkins wove in Marigold and North’s history without making the story one big flashback. Instead, it only made this story all the more heartbreaking. I totally teared up while reading this one and just loved all the feels that it made me feel. I really want a full length book of Marigold and North. Of all the stories in this anthology I think that this one will be my favorite.

Beach scene with striped towel, sunglasses, flip flops, seashell and starfish laid on old weathered blue wood decking.  Space for copy.

SOUVENIRS by Tim Federle

Place(s) Traveled: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

First Line(s): Maybe I’ve been reading too much Charles Dickens recently, but today doesn’t seem dreary enough for a break up, you know?

Rating: 4 stars

This was another bittersweet story and I loved the progression of it. It felt like a complete story but I would have loved to have more words. I really liked Matty’s voice and would love to see what becomes of him after this story ends. SOUVENIRS made my heart ache and I was sad to see this one end.

Beach scene with striped towel, sunglasses, flip flops, seashell and starfish laid on old weathered blue wood decking.  Space for copy.

INERTIA by Veronica Roth

Place(s) Traveled: Unknown, USA

First Line(s): “There must have been some kind of mistake,” I said.

Rating: 3 stars

What is with the heartbreaking way these stories are going?!? This one started out a bit choppy and rough but my heart was totally invested by the end. I wasn’t a fan of how cryptic it was at first but the end does make up for the beginning. I liked the characters and I liked the story I just didn’t like it as much as I did some of the others in this anthology.

Beach scene with striped towel, sunglasses, flip flops, seashell and starfish laid on old weathered blue wood decking.  Space for copy.

LOVE IS THE LAST RESORT by Jon Skovron

Place(s) Traveled: Unknown, USA

First Line(s): Dear reader, I want to assure you that this is not a story about love or romance, regardless of what you may have read on the cover.

Rating: 1 star

I was not a fan of this one. It wasn’t a bad story but I hated how it was written!! The prose was stifling and I felt like I might drown in it. It was a poor written 19th century novel and the words totally drowned out the meaning behind them. I really didn’t care about any of these characters and if this was any long than it had been it would have been a DNF.

Beach scene with striped towel, sunglasses, flip flops, seashell and starfish laid on old weathered blue wood decking.  Space for copy.

GOOD LUCK AND FAREWELL by Brandy Colbert

Place(s) Traveled: Chicago, Illinois // Andersonville, Illinois

First Line(s): Audrey and I are lounging on the sandy banks of Foster Avenue Beach when she tells me she’s going to San Francisco.

Rating: 3 stars

This is another so-so story in the collection. I didn’t really feel the chemistry between Rashida and Pierre and their story felt a little forced. I would have liked to have seen more of them actually talking and interacting and it just felt rushed.

Beach scene with striped towel, sunglasses, flip flops, seashell and starfish laid on old weathered blue wood decking.  Space for copy.

BRAND NEW ATTRACTION by Cassandra Clare

Place(s) Traveled: Unknown, USA

First Line(s): It was a dark carnival.

Rating: 3 stars

Another story with demons. Like the first one it just doesn’t seem to fit with this anthology. It was weird and choppy and another one where I really didn’t care for the characters. Events were rushed and feelings felt very surfacy and I was just glad to have it over because it was just weird.

Beach scene with striped towel, sunglasses, flip flops, seashell and starfish laid on old weathered blue wood decking.  Space for copy.

A THOUSAND WAYS THIS COULD ALL GO WRONG by Jennifer E. Smith

Place(s) Traveled: Unknown, Illinois

First Line(s): When I spot him at the other end of the grocery aisle, I freeze.

Rating: 4 stars

I was ready for another disappointing read after the previous few stories but in the end this one is among my favorites. This is the sort of story I was expecting this whole anthology to be. Fun, contemporary romances that make your heart ache and bring a smile to your face. I smiled a lot while reading this one and its another story that I wish had been a full length book. I really enjoyed this characters and hated to say goodbye to them.

Beach scene with striped towel, sunglasses, flip flops, seashell and starfish laid on old weathered blue wood decking.  Space for copy.

THE MAP OF TINY PERFECT THINGS by Lev Grossman

Place(s) Traveled: Lexington, Massachusetts

First Line(s): It was August 4th, and I guess it already had been for a while.

Rating: 3 stars

Another so-so story rounds out this anthology. It wasn’t bad but it just seemed to be missing that little something special that makes my heart ache. There wasn’t a lot of depth to it or character development and it just sort of blends in with the other stories in the anthology.

Beach scene with striped towel, sunglasses, flip flops, seashell and starfish laid on old weathered blue wood decking.  Space for copy.

 

OVERALL THOUGHTS

SUMMER DAYS AND SUMMER NIGHTS, like most anthologies, is a mixed bag of stories. I was expecting for there to be a bit more cohesion in this collection and so was surprised at the addition of things (ie demons) into the mix. Those odd ball stories took me out of these worlds and made it hard to pick the book up. There were only a handful of stories that I felt compelled to read and ones that I will probably re-read again. But there is nothing particularly wow inducing for me in SUMMER DAYS AND SUMMER NIGHTS and I was left a little more disappointed than not. I just expected more from it than what I got and so that makes me more disappointed than I might otherwise have been as my expectations were so high. On the plus note, there is definitely something for everyone in this collection.

OVERALL RATING: 3 stars

 

irishdarkblue

three-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, 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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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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Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Review: Love Me Tenor by Annabeth Albert

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

Review: Love Me Tenor by Annabeth AlbertLove Me Tenor by Annabeth Albert
Series: Perfect Harmony, Book 2
Also in this series: Treble Maker
Published by Kensington on 16 February 2016
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Diseases, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Friendship, GLBT, Illnesses & Injuries, Love & Romance, Music & Musicians, New Adult, People of Color, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues
Pages: 266
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars
Also by this author: Treble Maker, Status Update, Beta Test, Off Base (Out of Uniform, #1)

Place(s) Traveled To: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada // Kitsilano, British Columbia, Canada // Granville Island, British Columbia, Canada // Seattle, Washington // Tacoma, Washington // Olympia, Washington // Washington DC

First Line(s): The heater was broken again.

LOVE ME TENOR is the second book in Annabeth Albert’s Perfect Harmony series which began with TREBLE MAKER (my review.) LOVE ME TENOR follows Trevor who we first meet in TREBLE MAKER and who I didn’t get the swoony boy feels from in that book. But oh how Trevor gave all the swoons when it came to his own story! Like Lucas, Trevor was raised in a very conservative household but unlike Lucas Trevor’s family wasn’t nearly as accepting leaving Trevor homeless and penniless. So getting a call to be on a second reality show that includes room and board was like a sign from the heavens. The catch? He has to pretend to be a couple with Jalen a broody worldy jock-like guy.

Trevor and Jalen aren’t quite oil and water but they don’t get off on the best foot as each makes assumptions on the other. However, as they get to know each other better and as they deal with the over the top antics of the other two guys in their group. LOVE ME TENOR is a book that gave me all of the feels. I fell hard for Trevor and Jalen and their story just made my heart ache. Which, as many of you know, is something I just love in a story.

Love Me Tenor Quote

LOVE ME TENOR is highly readable and I found it really hard to put down. If I’m honest (and you know I always am) I’ll confess that I read this one in a day and I hated for it to end. With LOVE ME TENOR I think its safe to say that I am a total fangirl of Annabeth Albert and I want more books from her. You can be sure I’ll be checking out her backlist titles in the future but I definately want more books in the Perfect Harmony and Gaymers series because…THE FEELS!!!

One thing that I liked about LOVE ME TENOR was how that it was more than just a romance. Yes, there was the reality show aspect of it but there was also the deeper story lines involving Trevor and Jalen’s backstories. LOVE ME TENOR is a book that has depth as well as heart and its one that I can’t recommend enough. While I would have liked to have some cameos from Lucas and Cody I was pretty happy with how things played out. And I know that LOVE ME TENOR is a book that I will re-read a time or two or three in the future. So do yourself a favor and pick this one up today!

 

irishdarkblue

IR - Love Me Tenor

Special thanks to Annabeth Albert for her read-a-like recommendations!

Add Fever Pitch by Heidi Cullinan to Goodreads.

Add Calling the Show by JA Rock to Goodreads.

four-stars
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Monday, November 16, 2015

Review: Just Visiting by Dahlia Adler

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

Review: Just Visiting by Dahlia AdlerJust Visiting by Dahlia Adler
Published by Spencer Hill on 17 November 2015
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Friendship, Girls & Women, Love & Romance, People of Color, Road Trip, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 348
Format: eARC
Source: Author
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars
Also by this author: Behind the Scenes

Place(s) Traveled To: Charytan, Kansas // Lawrence, Kansas // Various Unnamed Places, Kansas

First Line(s): There comes a crossroads in every great friendship in which one of you has to tell the other a painful, ugly truth.

Its no secret that I love a good road trip book and so when I heard about JUST VISITING by Dahlia Adler I knew that I had to read it. JUST VISITING is the story of Reagan and Vic who are best friends and seniors in high school. Since they met, two years before the start of the book, all they’ve talked about is going off to college and leaving their small town. They have a plan and they are counting down the days until graduation when they can start the next stage in their life. JUST VISITING shows Reagan and Vic heading off to various colleges that while still in their home state are far enough from home to offer a whole new start. Along the way though they learn that maybe all their carefully laid plans may not be what is the best thing after all.

I loved the friendship in JUST VISITING. Reagan and Vic were so real and you feel their bond. They aren’t perfect and they get into fights but they make up, they apologize and move on. There is no fake-BFF syndrome to be found in this story so when they hit a rough patch your heart breaks for them. Just as when Reagan and Vic start to realize that their paths might not be going in the same direction your heart aches for this bump in the road. But at the same time you know that these girls are going to be ok. They are in it for the long haul and they will be stronger because of it. Part of what I love about JUST VISITING is how Adler shows that its ok to change your plans even though you were certain that they were set in stone. That the world won’t end because you decide that may this college over that one is really the right one for you. That life is about making choices and finding your path and that even if you make a wrong turn you can always find your way back to where you were meant to be.

Just Visiting Quote

There is more to JUST VISITING though than just the friendship although that is the main story line. There is also a romance and family drama. Oh is there family drama. And then there is this whole random story line about why Reagan is a bit of a social outcast in her small town and that just bugged me throughout the book. I get that small towns can hold a grudge but this just seemed so extreme and just took me out of the story. Just as the over emphasis on race and the huge chip on Vic’s shoulders. I loved how there was a lot of diversity in this story but Vic just seemed to hate on everyone and make such snap, harsh judgement on what people were thinking before they even spoke because she was Mexican. Those moments often had me sighing a bit and seemed a little out of character for Vic who was always so happy and looking on the bright side of life. In my opinion, the judgementalness would have seemed more in character for Reagan over Vic.

My issues aside, I did love Reagan and Vic and I also adored the character of Dev. Oh he annoyed me at times but then so did Reagan and Vic. The annoyances are part of what made all these characters seem so very real. There were times when JUST VISITING was a bit hard to like but that was partly because the book was so real. JUST VISITING is a fun read but it does deal with real world issues. There are times when JUST VISITING is very raw and powerful and its definitely a book worth reading. JUST VISITING is also one of those rare unicorn books where the epilogue did not suck. Its an epilogue with substance and I liked it. Though I do feel like there could have been another chapter or two between where the book ends and where the epilogue begins. It just felt like something was missing between the two and I just wish that gap had been filled. But overall, I was very happy with JUST VISITING and its a book that you should have on your shelf.

irishdarkblue

IR - Just Visiting

Add Open Road Summer by Emery Lord 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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Saturday, July 25, 2015

Review: The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

Posted by Irish in 2 Stars, Review, Young Adult1 Comment

Review: The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee AhdiehThe Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
Series: The Wrath and the Dawn,
Published by Putnam Juvenile on 12 May 2015
Genres: Adaptation, Arabian, Assassins, Death & Dying, Fairy Tales, Folklore, & Legends, Fantasy, Friendship, Love & Romance, People & Places, People of Color, Romance, Royalty, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 388
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
two-stars

Place(s) Traveled to: Khorasan – Rey // Taleqan

First Line(s): It would not be a welcome dawn.

THE WRATH AND THE DAWN is the debut novel of Renne Ahdieh and is a retelling of the 1001 Nights fairy tale. The main character and POV of the story is Shahrzad, called Shazi by friends, which occasional head jumps in Khalid, and who ever else is convenient to get a point across. I do not mind dual or even multiple POV stories but when you jump into someones perspective only once and for a paragraph or two before jumping back into someone else just to get a quick point across? Well, that annoys me. To me that’s lazy story telling as the author couldn’t figure out to get that one little snippet out so (s)he cheats a little with a quick head jump. I know that for most this is a non-issue but its something that has always bothered me in books and makes my eye a little twitchy.

Overall, I mostly liked how THE WRATH AND THE DAWN was written although towards the end the prose and the drawn out story was getting to me. There were also times when it felt like important scenes had been cut from the plot narrative. Where important keys to the overall story arc were discussed. Then later on we’d be dropped in the middle of the woods without a way to read the map. Leaving a trail of cryptic notes on the path. But being cryptic does not make for a good mystery…it only creates a frustrated reader. And I was very very frustrated by the end of this book. The plot and the characters just really got under my skin and not in a good way.

The Wrath & The Dawn Quote

Shazi was a spoiled brat and I have no idea when two guys were in love with her. This aspect of the story was also way to love triangly for me. I get that she was mostly insta-lusting for Khalid, a man she’s supposed to hate but falls for in a blink, but she does waffle a little when her childhood love Tariq shows up on the scene. I do admire that she stays true to her but as a result this sends Tariq into a spurned lover fit that sets of a chain of events that is just…not good. All in the name of the so called love his holds for Shazi. Oh what fools these mortals be an all that. Then you have Despira, who was just crass and inconsistent in character although I did like how she’d call Shazi on her bratty ways. What I didn’t like was that while the 1001 Nights tale seemed to fairly well researched Despira got basic things about Ancient Greece and its beliefs wrong. Using the word Hades to refer to a Hell and reference a heaven. If you know anything about Greek Mythology then you know that Hades is a person, Elysium would be the equivalent to heaven, and Tartarus the equivalent of hell.

THE WRATH AND THE DAWN was also a pretty slow read for me as nothing happens in this book until about 70% into the story. I get that THE WRATH AND THE DAWN is the first book in a series and that there is some set up involved but this was just overly drawn out. Only to lead to a quick flash in the pan climatic moment and then curtains closed with a cliff hanger. And not a very good one as the story is quickly fading from my mind. This does not bode well for me when it comes to picking up the second book in this series. Also, I just don’t care very much about these characters at all, with the exception of Khlaid, but there were times when I wanted to shake him as well. So much of this book hinges on people keeping secrets and not communication anything to anyone. This leads to miscommunications and rash decisions and a frustrated reader. The plot was a bit of muddled mess and just too much of the story was missing for it to be a cohesive story.

THE WRATH AND THE DAWN is just another YA Fantasy that I am the odd man out on. For despite its billing, I just don’t get much of a fantasy vibe off this one at all. Yes there is a curse but its only alluded to in cryptic ways and you really don’t learn much about it at all. I love a good fantasy but its just so hard to find that in YA today. At least it is for me as everyone seems to love this story and they fall into the hype of it. But as of writing this I think I’m done with this series and will wait until Renee Ahdieh writes something new. Perhaps I’ll like her next series better than this one as there are some strong solid lines within this book. Just not enough of them to keep me from banging my head against the wall in frustration.

See my Goodreads updates here.

 

irishdarkblue

People who liked this book better than I did:

Love is Not a Triangle – “I felt Shazi’s determination at the start of the book, and then her confusion as her heart begins to change and she is torn between two very different ideals. But even that struggle Shazi faces straight on with determination and without unnecessary angst.”

Effortlessly Reading – “The Wrath and the Dawn has this deep addictive quality to it. Right after I finished The Wrath and the Dawn, I immediately wanted to reread it again, to enjoy Renee’s writing and characters all over again, and promptly did just that.”

The Eater of Books – “The fantasy is stunning, and the world-building is so well-written. There is magic and lore and curses and swords and assassins and basically my favorite kind of fantasy.”

 

IR - Wrath and the Dawn

 

Add Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

Add The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski to Goodreads. (Click here for my review)

two-stars
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Sunday, April 26, 2015

Review: The Shameless Hour by Sarina Bowen

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, New Adult, Review1 Comment

Review: The Shameless Hour by Sarina BowenThe Shameless Hour by Sarina Bowen
Series: The Ivy Years,
Also in this series: The Year We Fell Down, The Year We Hid Away, The Understatement of the Year, Blonde Date, The Fifteenth Minute
Published by Self-Published on 14 April 2015
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, Friendship, Girls & Women, Love & Romance, New Adult, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Sports & Athletics
Pages: 317
Format: eBook
Source: Author
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars
Also by this author: The Year We Fell Down, The Year We Hid Away, The Understatement of the Year, Blonde Date, Him, The Fifteenth Minute, Coming in from the Cold, Us, Bittersweet, Steadfast, Rookie Move (Brooklyn Bruisers, #1)

Place(s) Traveled To: Etna, Connecticut // New York, New York

First Line(s): It had been two hours since I blew out twenty candles on the cake Ma made for me, but my ass was still parked at Restaurante Tipico.

The Shameless Hour by Sarina Bowen is the fourth book in her Ivy Years series and is Bella’s story. Bella is a well known secondary character in the series and you learn a bit more about her in The Understatement of the Year (my review) and I was really excited when I heard that she was finally getting her own book. Bella’s love interest is Rafe, a quiet guy who lives in her building and who is an acquaintance of Bella’s. After a bad night for them both they end up sleeping together which is no big deal for Bella but is huge for Rafe because he was a virgin and while he wasn’t saving himself for marriage he would have preferred to be in a more committed relationship. There are then awkward moments between the two as they both misunderstand the other until something happens that shakes Bella to the core and brings her and Rafe closer together.

Oh how my heart ached for Bella in this book and I thought that Rafe was the perfect boy for her. They are both flawed but together they make this perfect whole, that is when they aren’t totally misunderstanding each other. But unlike most books where misunderstandings lead to breakups as the people involved never talk Bella and Rafe only end up closer together. Yes, there are things between them that aren’t said right away but when details are revealed they listen and grow more and more in like with each other. They may have started as casual acquaintances with a one-night stand but over time they become friends and then fall in love.

Shameless Hour Quote

There were a few things that I didn’t like though, like how Bella was sometimes so stubborn that she wouldn’t really listen to Rafe was saying but I loved how he kept trying. Or that there weren’t enough cameos from Graham and Rikker because those two!!  Though I did like the addition of, Lianne, the semi-reclusive neighbor of Bella and who becomes a really good friend to her when Bella allows her to be. Because Bella, for all her spunk and brash behavior has a habit of never letting anyone get to close to her. She’s flirty and fun but she doesn’t get real until life really forces her to take a hard look at herself and she allows herself to trust and let people in. And in the end she’s still flirty, sassy and brash but she’s also so much more because she has people beside her holding her up when she needs it.

If you like new adult romance then I would highly recommend Sarina Bowen’s The Ivy Years series, they are books that just keep getting better with each one. I loved seeing Bella in flashes over the previous books but it wasn’t until The Shameless Hour that you really get to know her in all her complexity. I loved Rafe and I adored the two of them together. This was a real heart-achy book and I hope that we get to see more of these two in the next book in the series because I do hate saying goodbye to them. Though I am sure that this is a couple that I’ll re-visit every so often with a re-read and so even though the story is over it doesn’t really end.

irishdarkblue

IR - Shameless Hour

 

Add Raw Blue by Kirsty Eagar to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

Add Easy by Tammara Webber to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

four-stars
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