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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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Friday, April 1, 2016

Review: Bloodlines by Richelle Mead

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

Review: Bloodlines by Richelle MeadBloodlines by Richelle Mead
Series: Bloodlines,
Published by Razorbill on 23 August 2011
Genres: Abduction, Action & Adventure, Adolescence, Friendship, Mystery & Detective, Paranormal, Royalty, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 421
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
three-stars
Also by this author: Spirit Bound, Last Sacrifice

Place(s) Traveled To: Palm Springs, California

First Line(s): I couldn’t breathe.

BLOODLINES is the first book in Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy spinoff series and focuses on alchemist Sydney who we meet in those books. As the events in this book directly relate to how LAST SACRIFICE (my review) ends I strongly suggest that you read the Vampire Academy books before moving on to BLOODLINES. In the Vampire Academy books I wasn’t a huge fan of Syndney so I wasn’t sure how much I would enjoy a series that revolved around her and so was a little reluctant in picking these books up. But friends I know and trust say that this series is better than Vampire Academy so I thought why not take the plunge now that I’ve finally finished VA and this series is fully available in stores.

As a first book in a series, even a spinoff series, I found BLOODLINES to be really slow. It took a bit to find its groove even though there were many returning characters from the Vampire Academy books. There were also some new ones introduced and they were complete douche nozzles and I just wanted to set fire to those pages. Like for real, Sydney’s dad and the ‘golden boy’ Keith were terrible terrible characters who frustrated me so much that I almost DNF’d this book because of them. I don’t expect all characters to be likeable but my stars at least have some potential for redemption! But its really had to come back from being an asshole so I think we are stuck with them as they are. *le sigh*

Bloodlines Quote

There were many things in BLOODLINES that I found really predictable and so when the big reveals happened I was left underwhelmed. I also thought that the main plot lines/mysteries were very anticlimatic in how they were wrapped up and dealt with. So much time was spent on the tattoos that these normal teenagers were getting and then instead of a bang it was all resolved in a wee little poof. Not even a poof….more of a puh. And then the story dragged on longer than I expected it to with other big moments that really weren’t ending in what I think was supposed to be a mic drop moment but left me going…eh, why do I care?

The main bright light in this book was Adrian, I adored him as always and I kind of hate how he’s tied to Jill. That kind of squicks me out a bit since there is such an age and personality difference between them. I also really liked how Adrian and Sydney interacted with each other. She added some grounding that he needed and he made her character a lot less annoying that she’d been in previous books. I do also think it helped a bit that we got this story from her POV but she’s still not a favorite character of mine. Nor is BLOODLINES a favorite book that I’ve read. I was left underwhelmed and I don’t know when or even if I’ll continue with this series.

 

irishdarkblue

IR - Bloodlines

Add Some Girls Bite by Chloe Neill to Goodreads.

Add City of Bones by Cassandra Clare to Goodreads.

three-stars
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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Review: Nothing Like Paris by Amy Jo Cousins

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nothing Like Paris Quote

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

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

 

 

irishdarkblue

IR - Nothing Like Paris

 

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

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

three-stars
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Monday, March 28, 2016

Review: Bookishly Ever After by Isabel Bandeira

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bookishly Ever After Quote

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

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

 

irishdarkblue

IR - Bookishly Ever After

 

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

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

three-stars
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Friday, March 25, 2016

Review: Missing Dixie by Casey Quinn

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

Review: Missing Dixie by Casey QuinnMissing Dixie by Casey Quinn
Series: Neon Dreams,
Also in this series: Leaving Amarillo, Loving Dallas
Published by William Morrow on 27 October 2015
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Friends to Lovers, Friendship, Love & Romance, Music & Musicians, New Adult, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance
Pages: 304
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
three-stars
Also by this author: Leaving Amarillo, Loving Dallas

Place(s) Traveled To: Amarillo, Texas

First Line(s): “I need a Michelob light, two jack and cokes, a bourbon on the rocks, and a Sex on the Beach,” a waitress named Kimberly calls to me over the crowded bar.

To be honest, I’m not entirely sure why I continued this series all the way to its bitter end. Perhaps because my copy of MISSING DIXIE was a review book because I’m not entire sure that I cared if she and Gavin ever found their Happily Ever After. Especially when I stop and really think about this book and realize that if the two of them just talked to each on page one then the entire 300 page story could have been avoided. Now remember kids, this is 300 pages on top of a whole other book so don’t go picking this one up thinking its a standalone. You really need to read the first half of the story, LEAVING AMARILLO (my review), to get the full scope of what the heck is going on and just how frustrating these two characters are.

There really isn’t much that happens in MISSING DIXIE that couldn’t have happened in LEAVING AMARILLO. Sure some editing would have come into play but there would have been a more cohesive story that didn’t feel like it was overly drawn out. Because seriously, how often can two people angst about not being with the other person and mope about as they refuse to talk to each other. I did like Dixie a little better in this book, she was less of a doormat but still allowed herself to be emotionally manipulated more often than not by those around her. Especially Gavin who would need her desperately one moment then refuse to talk to her the next saying they could never be. Oy, talk about running hot and cold!

Missing Dixie Quote

As with the previous books, there are no shades of gray in this world. Everything is either black or white and there is no compromise. So Dixie can either act as a foster mother to a needy boy or she could have a music career as there is no way for a musician to ever possibly be a parent. *insert eyeroll here* The whole story line with Liam left me feeling a bit cold and disconnected because it just didn’t fit in the context of this book and the story of Gavin and Dixie. It was just one more thing that was put in MISSING DIXIE to draw out this story when everything should have been resolved in LEAVING AMARILLO.

I also felt that the ending of MISSING DIXIE was rushed and tied up a little too neatly. After how slow the story was getting up to that point it was all wham bam thank you ma’am this book is done. If the pacing was better than maybe I would have liked MISSING DIXIE more than I did. It wasn’t terrible but its not a book that I’ll be rushing to recommend to folks either. Though at least in MISSING DIXIE, Casey Quinn did add in Gavin’s POV to help offset the angst of Dixie. Not that Gavin didn’t have angst of his own but it was nice to see things through his eyes. It made things a little more clear when you got both sides of the story. Overall, not bad but not totally great either.

 

irishdarkblue

IR - Leaving Amarillo

Add Make it Count by Megan Erickson to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

Add All Lined Up by Cora Carmack to Goodreads. (Click here for my reivew.)

three-stars
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Thursday, March 24, 2016

Review: Full Domain by Kindle Alexander

Posted by Irish in 3.5 Stars, Adult, Review0 Comments

Review: Full Domain by Kindle AlexanderFull Domain by Kindle Alexander
Series: Nice Guys,
Also in this series: Double Full, Full Disclosure
Published by Self-Published on 12 January 2016
Genres: Adult, Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, Friendship, GLBT, Love & Romance, Mystery & Detective, Police or Firemen, Social Issues
Pages: 434
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
three-half-stars
Also by this author: Double Full, Full Disclosure

Place(s) Traveled To: Atlanta, Georgia // Washington DC // Midlothian, Texas // Dallas, Texas // Kauai, Hawaii // San Antonio, Texas

First Line(s): “Man, this is turning into one suck-ass day,” Aaron mumbled quietly to no one in particular as he edged his way through the overcrowded and lengthy terminals of the Atlanta International Airport.

What’s a girl to do when she’s invested herself in a trilogy and book three comes out just as you finish book two? Well, you buy that book and immediately start reading it of course! Who cares about all the other books you have to read when there is a mystery resolution that needs to be had! Such is the case with me and FULL DOMAIN by Kindle Alexander. It is also FULL DOMAIN that had me looking into reading the previous books in this series as well so I just *had* to read it. I really enjoyed meeting Kreed and Aaron in the previous book, FULL DISCLOSURE (my review), and was looking forward to how their story would play out.

While I didn’t like FULL DOMAIN as much as I liked FULL DISCLOSURE I still enjoyed this one a lot. I did think that the overall mystery of the series wrapped up a little fast and was a little anti-climatic considering that it took three books to get here. This made the ending drag a bit as it was wrapping up Kreed and Aaron’s story there was no tension or drama that I’d come to expect from this series. I also wasn’t a fan of the Mitch POV chapters. I get that Kindle Alexander loves this character but there was no need to have POV chapters in this book just as there was no need to have his POV in DOUBLE FULL (my review). I adored Mitch, I did, but this wasn’t his story so it was more of a distraction than anything else because all I wanted was more Kreed and Aaraon.

Full Domain Quote

I did really enjoy the characters of Kreed and Aaron though wish there was some sort of explanation of Kreed’s name origin. Especially since his brother had such a normal one but even with the odd name of Kreed it really did fit his character. I also thought that Kreed and Aaron fit well together too even though they were total opposites. They meshed well together as a couple and I loved their push and pull as they worked through their feelings. These boys had some serious chemistry and I just loved their journey to a HEA. But if I am totally honest then I should admit that of the three couples in this series, Mitch and Cody, are my favorites.

FULL DOMAIN was a fun read for me and one that I don’t regret ignoring my other books to get to. I know if I’d tried to read something else before this than that book would have suffered. This series started off rocky but once it found its stride I was totally hooked! FULL DISCLOSURE and FULL DOMAIN both left me wanting more of this world and these characters so I liked the authors note at the end that we would be seeing more of them in future books. I love when an author uses the same universe for their stories and allow cameos to happen. FULL DOMAIN isn’t perfect but it was just what I needed at the time and I can see myself re-reading it in the future. Its a good romance and one that I think you will enjoy if your tastes in any way line up with mine.

irishdarkblue IR - Full Domain

 

Add Strong Signal by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell to Goodreads (Review coming soon, See my Instagram snapshot thoughts here)

Add Status Update by Annabeth Albert to Goodreads. (Click here for my review)

three-half-stars
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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Review: Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

Posted by Irish in 3 Stars, Review, Young Adult2 Comments

Review: Passenger by Alexandra BrackenPassenger by Alexandra Bracken
Series: Passenger,
Published by Disney-Hyperion on 05 January 2016
Genres: Abduction, Action & Adventure, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Fantasy, Love & Romance, People & Places, Romance, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Suspense, Young Adult
Pages: 496
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
three-stars

Place(s) Traveled To: Bhutan (1910) // New York, New York (1776, 2015) // The Atlantic (1776) // London, England (1940) // Angkor, Cambodia (1685) // Paris, France (1880) // Damascus, Syria (1599) // Palmyra, Syria (1599)

First Line(s): As they ascended, retreating farther from the winding trails that marked the way to nearby villages, the world opened to him in its purest form: silent, ancient, mysterious.

You may have heard of PASSENGER by Alexandra Bracken as it gotten a lot of hype in and around the blogging community. I am always wary of hyped up reads but I loved Bracken’s BRIGHTLY WOVEN (my review) and while I still need to read DARKEST MINDS I was curious about this one. The basic plot of PASSENGER involves time travel and that is one of my favorites in books so I was eager to see Bracken’s taken on it along with how she wove in the history of the various time periods. Sadly, for me, PASSENGER didn’t live up to my expectations. I found it to be very slow and it took me forever to get through it. I found it likeable enough when I was reading it but it was really easy to put down. And once I put it down there was nothing driving me to pick it back up again.

With the exception of Nicolas and Etta all the characters were pretty one dimensional especially the big bad and I just found it really hard to care about Etta’s mission. The rules of the world also seemed to be pretty fluid even though they were supposed to be set though maybe that was just a result of my reading an ARC as opposed to the finished book. I often found myself rolling my eyes at the cliches in this book and there is this one moment when Nicolas and Etta are discussing the future and I wanted to throw my book across the room at what Etta revealed as important. That in her time she and Nicolas would be able to kiss as a way to show how far things had come from his time period when you’d think the fact that there is an African-American President might be a stronger indication of progress.

Passenger Quote

The ending of PASSENGER is also a bit of a cliff hanger but by that point in the story I was rolling my eyes more that I was gasping in shock. I found much of the book to be slow and predictable and I was just happy for it to be over. I thought that events at the end were rushed in comparison to the rest of the book. I also found the story to be overly descriptive on matters that had no importance and then very cryptic on things that were. It was a very uneven story telling and while it was prettily written there was nothing about PASSENGER that wowed me as I longed to be wowed.

Even with all the pretty words that filled PASSENGER the world building wasn’t really there and I just didn’t really see the point of it all. PASSENGER isn’t a bad book but its just not a book that will stay with me nor is it a story that I will re-read. At this moment in time I’m unsure if I want to devote the time and energy it would take in order to read its conclusion, WAYFARER, when it comes out next year. If I do it will be something that I borrow from a friend as I don’t know if I’d be able to read it in time from the library. Although maybe WAYFARER will surprise me and be a faster read than PASSENGER was.

 

irishdarkblue

IR - Passenger

Add Waterfall by Lisa T. Bergren to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

Add Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

three-stars
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