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Thursday, January 5, 2017

Audio Review: Hidden Bodies by Caroline Kepnes

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Adult, Review0 Comments

Audio Review: Hidden Bodies by Caroline KepnesHidden Bodies (You, #2) by Caroline Kepnes
on 23 February 2016
Genres: Abduction, Action & Adventure, Adult, Dating & Sex, Death & Dying, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Illnesses & Injuries, Love & Romance, Mystery & Detective, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Suspense
Length: 13 hrs and 3 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: You

Place(s) Traveled To: New York, New York // Little Compton, Rhode Island // Los Angeles, California // Malibu, California // Palm Springs, California // Cabo San Lucas, Mexico // Las Vegas, Nevada // Reno, Nevada

First Line(s): I buy violets for Amy. Not roses. Roses are for people who did something wrong.

Joe is back!

And he’s just as crazy as ever. HIDDEN BODIES is the sequel to Caroline Kepnes’s YOU (my review) which introduces us to Joe, a total sociopath that you just can’t help but love. As a reader, you know that Joe is crazy-pants and that what he is doing is wrong and yet it all seems so logical when you read his thoughts on why he does the things that he does. In HIDDEN BODIES, Joe has moved on to a new relationship “choosing better” as he says with a girl named Amy. As with the previous women that have come into Joe’s orbit Amy is a flawed character and that seems to be what draws Joe to them. Its as if the inevitable betrayal is what drives Joe to choose these women because deep down he really wants to give into his baser instincts of murder.

In HIDDEN BODIES, Amy does a thing that as a reader just makes you gasp as we know what Joe is capable of when he is betrayed. Amy does not. Which makes you feel for Amy but yet at the same time you are also angry at her for not living up to Joe’s expectations. Its really amazing just how much Kepnes’s writing puts the reader on Joe’s side as he’s usually the character we want the hero or heroine of the story to capture and put behind bars. But with YOU and HIDDEN BODIES all you want is for Joe to find peace and happiness. Its a strange feeling to be cheering for the bad guy and yet, how can you not?

HIDDEN BODIES is a fast paced thriller that will keep the reader on the edge of their seat. Santino Fontana returns to narrate the story and he just becomes Joe. Fontana’s is a voice that is going to be hard for me to separate from this character as it just fits Joe so perfectly. Fontana’s narration style just sets the perfect mood for HIDDEN BODIES and makes it so easy to fall for Joe and to want him to come out on top. To find his place in the world and to be happy. Happiness isn’t easy for our Joe, he’s had a hard life, but by the end of HIDDEN BODIES you think that maybe things will turn out ok for him.

HIDDEN BODIES takes the reader to new places and we meet new characters. Some of whom are even worse than Joe. There are lots of ups and downs and twists and turns and where you end up is no where near where you thought you would. I fell for this story and just loved everything about it. I’m in awe of everything that Kepnes managed to do and know that I am going to want to rush out to grab her next book in hopes that its even half as good as this duology. Kepnes is a master of suspense and in defying expectations and this series is one that you must check out if you love a good mystery.

 

 

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 30, 2016

Audio Review: You by Caroline Kepnes

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

You Quote

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

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

irishdarkblue

IR - You

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

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

five-stars
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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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Friday, February 26, 2016

Audio Review: Armada by Ernest Cline

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

Audio Review: Armada by Ernest ClineArmada by Ernest Cline
Narrator: Wil Wheaton
Published by Crown on 14 July 2015
Genres: Abduction, Action & Adventure, Adolescence, Dystopian, Friendship, Sci-Fi, Survival Stories, Suspense, War & Military, Young Adult
Length: 11 hrs and 58 mins
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible.com
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
three-stars

Place(s) Traveled To: Beverton, Oregon // Unknown, Nebraska // Moon Base Alpha

First Line(s): I was staring out of the classroom window daydreaming of adventure when I spotted the flying saucer.

When I went to BEA last spring there were only a couple of books that I needed to get and one of those was ARMADA by Ernest Cline. I loved his first book, READY PLAYER ONE (my review) and was so excited to see what he came up with next. But then I became torn because it was announced that Wil Wheaton would be narrating just as he did with READY PLAYER ONE and I decided to wait until I could get my hands on the audiobook.

The wait for the audio was a great decision because, as always, Wil Wheaton was most excellent in his narration. I just love Wheaton’s reading style and the energy and life that he brings to a story. It especially helped with ARMADA because I found the actually story to be a bit slow and hard to get into. There was a lot of repetition to the story and the story was a little bit too similar to READY PLAYER ONE mixed with ENDER’S GAME mixed with WARGAMES.

Armada Quote

There were no surprises in ARMADA and each big “twist” was just anti-climatic and predictable. The build up was overly drawn out which left very little time for the big climatic battle. Which left the ending something to be desired. If I’d been reading this one in print than I may have DNF’d this one or just ended up skimming to the end to see how it all turned out. The only reason why I didn’t was because of Wil Wheaton.

I’m still a fan of Ernest Cline and I am looking forward to his next book but sadly ARMADA just wasn’t the book for me. The writing was ok it was just the plotting and the pacing and even some of the characters that really didn’t mesh with me.

irishdarkblue

IR - Armada

Add Off to Be the Wizard by Scott Meyer to Goodreads.

Add The End of All Things by John Scalzi to Goodreads.

three-stars
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Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Mini Review: The Glowing Knight by Jodi Meadows

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

Mini Review: The Glowing Knight by Jodi MeadowsThe Glowing Knight by Jodi Meadows
Series: The Orphan Queen,
Also in this series: The Orphan Queen, The Hidden Prince, The Mirror King
Published by Epic Reads on 01 September 2015
Genres: Abduction, Action & Adventure, Assassins, Death & Dying, Emotions & Feelings, Epic Fantasy, Espionage, Friendship, Mystery & Detective, Royalty, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Short Story / Novella, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 58
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
three-half-stars
Also by this author: The Orphan Queen, The Hidden Prince, The Mirror King

Place(s) Traveled To: Skyvale, The Indigo Kingdom

First Line(s): James was down there fighting. I was not. And this was what jealousy felt like.

THE GLOWING KNIGHT is the second prequel novella in Jodi Meadow’s Orphan Queen universe. It is the continuring adventures of Tobiah and James as Tobiah becomes the Black Knife. I loved this early look at James and Tobiah and I totally ship the bromance that is between them. I also love how James and Meredith interact and I would love to see a romance between them but alas fates and kings have different plans for those two. In THE GLOWING KNIGHT we also get a little glimpse at the start of the glowmen and of Wil and her Ospreys. It was a fun look at how things were before the paths of all these characters started to cross years later.

THE GLOWING KNIGHT is a fast read and includes some more preview chapters of THE MIRROR KING (Goodreads), which are totally killer! Its a great little snippet to help tide one over after the crazy ending of THE ORPHAN QUEEN (my review) although its still not enough. It is never enough. I love this world that Meadows has created and I hate it each and every time when I have to say goodbye. This world is so rich and detailed that it almost leaps off the page. I also love these characters and I like these little glimpses into their lives. I love to see the world through Tobiah’s eyes and reading these makes me wish that the main books were dual POV stories as I’d love to know more about his thinking.

 

irishdarkblue

Glowing Knight Quote
three-half-stars
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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Review: Leveled by Jay Crownover

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

Review: Leveled by Jay CrownoverLeveled by Jay Crownover
Series: Saints of Denver,
Also in this series: Charged
Published by William Morrow on 02 November 2015
Genres: Adult, Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, GLBT, Illnesses & Injuries, Love & Romance, New Adult, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Short Story / Novella
Pages: 224
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss, Publicist
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
three-stars
Also by this author: Rule, Jet, Rome, Nash, Better When He's Bad, Rowdy, Asa, Built, Charged

Place(s) Traveled To: Denver, Colorado

First Line(s): Leveled. Laid out. Knocked sideways. Flattened and collapse. Breathless and stunned.

LEVELED by Jay Crownover is a novella that is billed as a bridge between her two series, Marked Men and The Saints of Denver. Although I do think that BUILT makes a better bridge based on how close those main characters were to the characters in Marked Men I just have to shrug and sort of accept this explanation. For when I first learned that Crownover was sticking around Denvery, so to speak, I was hoping that Dom and Lando would get a story. Those who have read the Marked Men books may remember these two, Dom is Royal’s (ASA, my review) good friend and Lando knew Rule’s (RULE, my review) twin brother Remy. (Hmm…Perhaps the bridge comes because RULE was the first book in Marked Men and ASA was the last.) Anywho, Dom and Lando meet when Rule, through Royal, helps get Dom into Lando’s physical therapy program as he’s recovering from an on the job accident. There is instant attraction and angst and heart achy feels that have you flipping the pages to see how things will work out.

As with all novellas, I wish that this one had been longer as I would have loved to have seen more of Lando and Dom’s families in the books. What little we did see had me smiling and wondering just how much better this could have been. I did enjoy this book but just felt that something was missing because we didn’t have a ton of time to develop the relationship between these characters. And then there was the dreaded epilogue. I always say that I won’t read them but then I do and always end up being disappointed and this one was no exception. It was just so vague and abstract and I would have preferred to have more pages of Lando and Dom in the now then in this weird time in the future that really doesn’t add anything to the story.

As a bridge between the two series I don’t really think LEVELED fits as Dom and Lando make such small cameos in each but as an introduction to Crownover’s writing and this world I think that this novella works. Its a quick read and Lando and Dom had some great chemistry. I’m glad I read this book and while I’ll always want more I do hope that we get to see more of this duo in the Saints of Denver series.

irishdarkblue

Leveled Quote
three-stars
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Saturday, August 29, 2015

Review: Play On by Michelle Smith

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Review, Young Adult2 Comments

Review: Play On by Michelle SmithPlay On by Michelle Smith
Series: Lewis Creek,
Also in this series: Game On
Published by Spencer Hill on 21 April 2015
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Friendship, GLBT, Love & Romance, Social Issues, Sports & Athletics, Young Adult
Pages: 258
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars
Also by this author: Game On

Place(s) Traveled To: Lewis Creek, South Carolina //Beaufort, South Carolina

First Line(s): Forget Friday night lights – in Lewis Creek, South Carolina, its baseball or bust three nights a week.

When I first heard of PLAY ON by Michelle Smith I knew that it was a book that I had to read. I am a sucker for a good contemporary romance and the early buzz on this one was high which worried me a bit as well because we all know how hyped up books and I get along. But unlike some of the mega blockbusters out there this was a quiet and steady buzz that really peaked my interest. Then once I picked up PLAY ON I found that I couldn’t put it down. At under 300 pages this was a quick read and a fun way to spend a couple of hours. I liked the world that Smith created and I loved the depth of all of her characters. I also have to admit that I wasn’t prepared for this book to be told in entirely Austin’s POV. I’m used to alternating POVs or a contemporary romance to be told only through the girls eyes so it was kind of refreshing to only see Austin’s side of things.

And oh what a sweetie Austin was! A true southern gentleman through and through who loved his momma and who just dripped southern charm. It was easy to picture someone with a strong southern accent reading this book and I really wish there as an audio version available to do just that. Austin was adorable but not without his flaws. He was sweet and stubborn and like with many other characters I’ve read about there were times when I just wanted to shake him. I loved how he was with Marissa and how they were together as they first became friends and then something a little more than that. I also like how PLAY ON wasn’t just a straight boy meets girl contemporary and how there were deeper issues at play.

Play On Quote

For a small book, PLAY ON contained so much within its pages. Smith crafted an amazing world with an eclectic cast of characters. PLAY ON is  story about baseball and school and depression and friendship. Its about first loves and making mistakes and then learning how to overcome obstacles. Its a book that made me laugh at times but one that also hit me right in the feels. Its a realistic story and I just got lost within its pages. I fell for all of these characters and I’m so happy that we’ll be returning to this world in GAME ON (goodreads) because I hated to let them all go. The summary of this one really doesn’t do it justice for all that there is in this book. Each page reveled something new and that ending…oh it was a good one.

PLAY ON is the sort of book that I’d love to see as a TV Show and its a book that will totally appeal to all those who love and miss Friday Night Lights. This book wasn’t perfect but it hit all the right notes with me at the time that I read it and I’m able to ignore all of its flaws. It gave me those heart achy feelings that I love and stayed with me long after I closed the final page. This is a book that I strongly recommend so if its not on your shelf or ereader yet then you should fix that using the handy dandy links provided above. Then come back here and tell me how much you loved it and how you are longing for Eric’s story too, because really, who doesn’t love a book with a bad boy?

irishdarkblue

IR - Play On

Add First & Then by Emma Mills to Goodreads. (Review coming soon.)

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

four-stars
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