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Tuesday, January 08, 2019

*Grabby Hands* Release & Review - The Wicked King (The Folk of the Air #2) by Holly Black

Image and blurb from Goodreads

Title: The Wicked King
(The Folk of the Air #2)
Author: Holly Black
Category/Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Publication Date: January 8th, 2018
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Adults

You must be strong enough to strike and strike and strike again without tiring.

The first lesson is to make yourself strong.

After the jaw-dropping revelation that Oak is the heir to Faerie, Jude must keep her younger brother safe. To do so, she has bound the wicked king, Cardan, to her, and made herself the power behind the throne. Navigating the constantly shifting political alliances of Faerie would be difficult enough if Cardan were easy to control. But he does everything in his power to humiliate and undermine her even as his fascination with her remains undiminished.

When it becomes all too clear that someone close to Jude means to betray her, threatening her own life and the lives of everyone she loves, Jude must uncover the traitor and fight her own complicated feelings for Cardan to maintain control as a mortal in a Faerie world.

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4.5 “Scheming and Twists in the faerie world” Stars

These first days of 2019 haven’t exactly been the best reading-wise. I’m not saying that because of Wicked King (hello, I’m rating it 4.5 stars), but because Holly Black’s sequel is the first book I’ve managed to finish since the year started.

On one hand, that sucks, because I’ve DNF’d a lot of books already. On the other hand, at least my first read of the year was a great one! For starters, Wicked King is better than Cruel Prince, which was already a good book.

Again, though, the romance (full of sexual tension and hate-me-love-me-can’t-have-me angst) was still a little too on the background for me. I still love Jude and how badass she is; Cardan and how you can never really tell what he’s hiding behind his don’t-give-a-crap attitude; and all the other characters that scheme and twist reality even though they can’t lie. But I wanted more Cardan and Jude. A lot more than the amazing scenes we had between them. That’s my only complaint, to be honest.

The plot was once again full of twists and turns, though Jude seemed to be more on the receiving end of those twists and turns than in Cruel Prince. Still, I love being surprised, and the last part of the book did that to me time and time again. I will say that Jude and Cardan’s choice near the end was a obvious one; one she should’ve come up with before he did and a lot sooner in the book (or so I kept trying to tell her), but I was still surprised by what Cardan did in the last chapter.

Taryn still annoyed me too much—I don’t know why Jude insists on protecting the sister who clearly doesn’t care for her at all. Locke was still useless. Madoc and Jude still reminded me of Olivia and Papa Pope’s troubled complex relationship. So none of those things changed much since the first book.

In a way, Wicked King kept the same elements I noticed in Cruel Prince (both the ones I liked and disliked), but it still read somewhat better than the first title in the series. Maybe it’s because I’m still thinking about that “Tell me you hate me” scene.

*If you liked this review (or not), if you read the book (or not), come say hello and leave your comments bellow.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Review - The Hardest Fall by Ella Maise

Image and blurb from Goodreads
Title: The Hardest Fall
Author: Ella Maise
Publication Date: April 18th, 2018
Category/Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance

The first time you meet someone, you make eye contact. You smile, say hello. Should be simple, if you’re anyone but me. The first time I met Dylan Reed, I found myself making eye contact with a different part of his body. You see, I’m very good at being shy, not to mention extremely well-versed in rambling nonsense and, unfortunately, rather highly skilled at making a fool of myself in front of a guy I’m attracted to.

At the time, I knew nothing about him and thought none of what I said would matter since I’d never speak to him again. Turns out, I was very wrong. He was the star wide receiver of the football team, one of the few players expected to make it into the NFL, and I ended up seeing him all over campus.
I might have also propositioned him, run away from him, attacked him with a cooking utensil…and…uh, maybe I shouldn’t tell you all of it. It’s pretty normal stuff, things you’d expect…from me. Eventually, the time came when I couldn’t hide anymore—not that he’d have let me even if I tried.
Before now, he never knew I was secretly watching him. Now that we see each other every day, he knows when I have a hard time looking away. It doesn’t help that I’m not the most subtle person in the world either.

He smiles at me and tells me he finds me fascinating because of my quirks. I can’t even tell him that I think my heart beats differently whenever he’s around.

He thinks we’re going to be best friends. I think I have a big thing for him, and the more I get to know him, the more I don’t care that I’m not allowed to be his friend, let alone fall for him.

The thing is, that’s exactly what I’m doing—what we’re doing, I think.



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3.5 “New Adult Slow Burn” Stars

Right about when this book came out, I tried reading it, but it might’ve been the wrong time because I didn’t connect with the writing and decided to save it for later. Now, after seeing tons of readers recommending The Hardest Fall for slow burn fans, I gave it another choice and I really enjoyed it.

It’s been a while since the last time I read a romance about college students, and this book had so much of the things I love in NA. The writing wasn’t exactly my favorite, but I loved Dylan and Zoe’s relationship—especially because it was easy to see Dylan’s feelings, and I always LOVE when the hero is the one waiting for the heroine to catch up and admit her feelings for him.

Dylan was an amazing hero. He was alpha, but not an asshole; he was sexy AF and he never made fun of all of Zoe’s quirks or disrespected her in any way. Despite being a football player, he wasn’t portrayed as a man-whore. In fact, he made it clear from the start that he was a one-woman kind of guy and he showed that repeatedly. He adored Zoe and he wasn’t shy about showing anyone he felt that way, which only made him more appealing. I absolutely loved Dylan.

Zoe was also a great character. She was a little much at times, but she had some great moments and her reaction when one of her friends was attacked won me over, because she pushed fear away and was brave enough to protect the person she loved.

Overall, this was a sexy read with a slow burn romance and a book-boyfriend material hero, so I’m happy I didn’t give up on this story.

*If you liked this review (or not), if you read the book (or not), come say hello and leave your comments bellow.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Release & Review - Luna and the Lie by Mariana Zapata

Image and blurb from Goodreads
Title: Luna and the Lie
Author: Mariana Zapata
Publication Date: December 12th, 2018
Category/Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance

The problem with secrets is that they’re too easy to keep collecting.

Luna Allen has done some things she would rather no one ever know about. She also knows that, if she could go back in time, she wouldn’t change a single thing.

With three sisters she loves, a job she (mostly) adores, and a family built up of friends she’s made over the years, Luna figures everything has worked out the way it was supposed to.

But when one of those secrets involves the man who signs her paycheck, she can’t find it in her to regret it. Despite the fact that he’s not the friendliest man in the world. Or the most patient.

Sometimes there are things you’re better off keeping to yourself.

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3.5 “Slooow burn office romance” Stars

I heard MZ was releasing a new book about the time she made an excerpt for Luna and the Lie available. Of course I read that as soon as I found it online and then the waiting began. It was painful, I'll tell you that. Unfortunately for me, the week the book came out life was kicking my ass, so I had to wait until now to read it. The good news is that I enjoyed it, despite it not being my favorite read by MZ, who's one of my favorite romance authors.

The Queen of Slow Burn delivered the kind of romance she's famous for, but Luna and the Lie might've been a LITTLE too slow for me.

Look, I'm not complaining about the formula MZ uses for her books because I'm a HUGE fan and I live for slow burn, but at times it felt like this book was a little too much about Luna and her struggles and a little less about the romance.

On one hand, I loved Luna, so I enjoyed the scenes about her life and her relationship with the side characters. I know she isn't as outspoken as most of MZ's main character, but let's give the girl a break because everything in her life and past was so messed up and she never ran away from dealing with all that mess. She was a strong person, and I admired her for that. 

On the other hand, I thought some of those scenes about Luna and her life could've been replaced with interactions between Luna and Rip, especially because I feel like Rip needed more time to win me over. I love a grumpy hero as much as the next MZ fan, but Rip was a little too alpha at times. Besides, I needed more groveling after what he said to Luna.

So, while I read this pretty fast for a book so long and I was still left wanting more, I can't say it's my favorite MZ book.
*If you liked this review (or not), if you read the book (or not), come say hello and leave your comments bellow.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

*Grabby Hands* Release - The Simple Wild by K.A. Tucker

Image and blurb from Goodreads
Title: The Simple Wild
Author: K.A. Tucker
Publication Date: August 7th, 2018
Category/Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Atria Books

Calla Fletcher wasn't even two when her mother took her and fled the Alaskan wild, unable to handle the isolation of the extreme, rural lifestyle, leaving behind Calla’s father, Wren Fletcher, in the process. Calla never looked back, and at twenty-six, a busy life in Toronto is all she knows. But when Calla learns that Wren’s days may be numbered, she knows that it’s time to make the long trip back to the remote frontier town where she was born.

She braves the roaming wildlife, the odd daylight hours, the exorbitant prices, and even the occasional—dear God—outhouse, all for the chance to connect with her father: a man who, despite his many faults, she can’t help but care for. While she struggles to adjust to this rugged environment, Jonah—the unkempt, obnoxious, and proud Alaskan pilot who helps keep her father’s charter plane company operational—can’t imagine calling anywhere else home. And he’s clearly waiting with one hand on the throttle to fly this city girl back to where she belongs, convinced that she’s too pampered to handle the wild.

Jonah is probably right, but Calla is determined to prove him wrong. Soon, she finds herself forming an unexpected bond with the burly pilot. As his undercurrent of disapproval dwindles, it’s replaced by friendship—or perhaps something deeper? But Calla is not in Alaska to stay and Jonah will never leave. It would be foolish of her to kindle a romance, to take the same path her parents tried—and failed at—years ago. It’s a simple truth that turns out to be not so simple after all.

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4.5  “Two love stories” Stars

Damn. How did I not know about this book before now?

The Simple Wild has quickly earned a place in my "best romance reads of the year" list, and I had the feeling that it'd get a spot after reading the first chapter. Funny enough, the first chapter isn't even about Calla's love story--nope, it's about her parents' tragic love, and that's why I say this is a book about two love stories.

First, let me say part of what kept me turning page after page so fast was that I wanted, NEEDED to know what would happen to Calla's parents. That love story tugged at my heart in a way that was actually painful (and it wasn't even the main love story). But it's not my fault the author decided to bring such angst with those two. I can't resist angst.

Everything was so tragic and messed up. I resented Wren, Calla's dad, for marrying a woman he knew wouldn't adapt to his lifestyle and still wanted to hug him because he loved Susan, Calla's mom, so damn much that he couldn't not marry her and take what little time they had together. Then I resented Susan for making Simon, Calla's stepdad, feel so much like "her second choice" when the man was amazing and so madly in love with her. But then, I wanted to hug her because I can't blame her for loving Wren so much two decades simply couldn't erase that love.

Damn... just thinking about them and how tragic and complicated and messed up the whole thing is makes me want to cry.

I did cry when that thing in the end happened. No spoilers, but it was beautiful and painful and I felt my heart breaking in tiny pieaces.

I was probably more obsessed with Calla's parents love story than anything else, but okay.

Now, Calla's relationship with her father sick father was another gut punch. Someone should've warned me this book would be that painful.

Wren was not an easy man to forgive, considering he was the one who decided to step back and not be in his daughter's life. Sure he later explained why, but it was still no reason to do what he did, so I got Calla's pain. Still, the man was dying and he was really, really good to Calla when she was there with him, so, yeah, again, I both resented and wanted to hug him.

Then comes Calla and Jonah and all the instant hatred and banter that was clearly just amazing chemistry and I'm dying because the romance is also slow burn and they're pranking each other and OMG, they finally kiss!

This book was almost too much. It was also almost a five-star read, if nothing for one little thing: I didn't like how Jonah was obsessed with poking fun at Calla's style and make-up obsession. Look, I'll be the first to say I don't understand how some people choose to wake up hours earlier so they can apply the perfect make up every single day before they step out of the house, but that's not my problem. Nor it's Jonah's, and the way he went about this was annoying and problematic. So, no, Jonah, you don't get to force Calla to wear less make-up just because you want her to by being an ass about it.

So, had that make-up BS not been part of the story, The Simple Wild would've been a five-star read for me, because it gave me two love stories to obsess over and it broke my heart and put it back together with that adorable ending.
*If you liked this review (or not), if you read the book (or not), come say hello and leave your comments bellow.

Friday, December 07, 2018

Release & Review - My Favorite Half-Night Stand by Christina Lauren

Image and blurb from Goodreads
Title: My Favorite Half-Night Stand
Author: Christina Lauren
Publication Date: December 04th, 2018
Publisher: Gallery Books
Category/Genre: Adult Romantic Comedy

By the New York Times bestselling author who “hilariously depicts modern dating” (Us Weekly), My Favorite Half-Night Standis a laugh-out-loud romp through online dating and its many, many fails.

Millie Morris has always been one of the guys. A UC Santa Barbara professor, she’s a female-serial-killer expert who’s quick with a deflection joke and terrible at getting personal. And she, just like her four best guy friends and fellow professors, is perma-single.

So when a routine university function turns into a black tie gala, Mille and her circle make a pact that they’ll join an online dating service to find plus-ones for the event. There’s only one hitch: after making the pact, Millie and one of the guys, Reid Campbell, secretly spend the sexiest half-night of their lives together, but mutually decide the friendship would be better off strictly platonic.

But online dating isn’t for the faint of heart. While the guys are inundated with quality matches and potential dates, Millie’s first profile attempt garners nothing but dick pics and creepers. Enter “Catherine”—Millie’s fictional profile persona, in whose make-believe shoes she can be more vulnerable than she’s ever been in person. Soon “Catherine” and Reid strike up a digital pen-pal-ship...but Millie can’t resist temptation in real life, either. Soon, Millie will have to face her worst fear—intimacy—or risk losing her best friend, forever.

Perfect for fans of Roxanne and She’s the Man, Christina Lauren’s latest romantic comedy is full of mistaken identities, hijinks, and a classic love story with a modern twist. Funny and fresh, you’ll want to swipe right on My Favorite Half-Night Stand.

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3.5 “BFF + TBBT vibes” Stars

I wish I could say I loved this as much as Christina Lauren’s last releases. I didn’t, which is sad, because I’ve become a fan of these two amazing authors and I was dying, I mean DYING to get my hands on a BFF to lovers romance.

For some reason, this book and I didn’t connect on that next level that is necessary for me to really, really love something. Maybe I wasn’t in the right mood to read it (despite anticipating this and a BFF to lovers read for weeks), because when I think about the elements in the story, I truly appreciate them—especially the way the romance developed.

I feel like Christina Lauren added something different to the BFFs that fall in love dynamic by making both Millie and Reid unaware of their feelings for each other for most of the book. It wasn’t the typical “one loves the other and is just waiting for the other to get with the program” dynamic I normally see (and love) in books with this trope. Millie and Reid were surely attracted to each other, but they fell in love slowly and together while navigating the awkwardness that comes with falling for your best friend. That was fresh and interesting take, and I’m mad at myself for not appreciating it as much while reading.

Something else I loved about this book was the group of friends Millie and Reid had. Though I wish their personalities were a little more distinguishing—it took me a while to get who they were as individuals—I got some serious The Big Bang Theory vibe from this group. Was I the only one? And though I know TBBT is problematic, I still enjoyed their dynamic.

Speaking of problematic…Well, part of why I can’t rate this book a little higher was how bothered I was about the fact that Reid seemed to want to push Millie to change and become more open. I didn’t approve of the way he acted toward the end, and it felt a little too much like he was forcing her to talk about things she wasn’t comfortable or ready to talk about. I loved Millie because I identified with her in the sense that I’m also very private and keep my feelings and thoughts inside, so it irked me that Reid reacted the way he did.

 So, while there was tons to like about this book, I feel like I couldn’t connect with the romance in the level I wanted, which makes this my least favorite book of all the amazing stories these two authors have released in the past couple of years.
*If you liked this review (or not), if you read the book (or not), come say hello and leave your comments bellow.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Release & Review - Hunting Annabelle by Wendy Heard

Image and blurb from Goodreads

Title: Hunting Annabelle
Author: Wendy Heard
Publication Date: December 25th, 2018
Publisher: MIRA Books
Category/Genre: Adult Mystery/Thriller

Sean Suh is done with killing. After serving three years in a psychiatric prison, he’s determined to stay away from temptation. But he can't resist Annabelle--beautiful, confident, incandescent Annabelle--who alone can see past the monster to the man inside. The man he's desperately trying to be.

Then Annabelle disappears.

Sean is sure she’s been kidnapped—he witnessed her being taken first hand—but the police are convinced that Sean himself is at the centre of this crime. And he must admit, his illness has caused him to “lose time” before. What if there’s more to what happened than he’s able to remember?

Though haunted by the fear that it might be better for Annabelle if he never finds her, Sean can’t bring himself to let go of her without a fight. To save her, he’ll have to do more than confront his own demons… He'll have to let them loose.

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3.5 “Dexter in the 1980’s” Stars

ARC via NetGalley

Thank you, Harlequin – Mira

This book isn’t coming out until December, but it’s been on my “most anticipated reads for 2018” for a while. I was lucky enough to get to it now and I can tell you, if you’re a fan of Dexter, you’ll probably really enjoy this.

Told from the POV of a killer—no spoilers, since this info is on the blurb—Hunting Annabelle is a psychological thriller filled with twisted and interesting characters, tension and even some moments that made me laugh a little (even though I know I shouldn’t).

The first chapter is so freaking good. It had a lot of mystery involving Sean (what he was/what he had done) and the chemistry between Sean and Annabelle was undeniable. I was so ready to fall madly in love with them and ignore the fact that Sean was a freaking killer. I’d done that with Dexter, so why not again, right?

Well, I did like Sean a lot, but there was a few things that kept this book from reaching first-couple-of-seasons-Dexter level of perfection to me.

First, I went into this under the impression that Sean and Annabelle were a thing. Don’t know why. I just read the blurb that way. So I expected a relationship (old or newish, but still something solid). Problem is, Sean and Annabelle spend so little time together before she’s kidnapped that it was really hard for me to connect with them and Sean’s love for her. Insta-love rarely works for me, and despite the awesome chemistry in the first chapter, this one didn’t. And because I couldn’t connect with “their love”, I ended up questioning a lot of Sean’s later thoughts and actions.

Second thing that didn’t work for me was the big twist. Not that there was anything wrong with the twist per se. It was a good one if you didn’t see it coming. Unfortunately for me, I guessed it on Chapter 4. I can even tell you the exact paragraph that made it all clear for me, because I highlighted it on my Kindle and added a note. Because of that, when the twist was revealed, it ended up having little impact on me.

BUT, big BUT here, the story was still intriguing, so I kept reading. I think what made this book the most interesting was the choice of POV. Being inside Sean’s head was at times confusing (in a good way), entertaining and disturbing. He was going through so much and trying so hard to keep it together, I couldn’t help but root for him. And the times he let go and embraced the darkest parts of him made for some shocking and entertaining scenes. Those were probably the moments I got Dexter-feels the most.

 I love Dexter-feels.

I can’t get into details about the last part of the book (after the reveal) and the ending because of spoilers, but let’s just say those of you who didn’t guess the twist and enjoy messed up characters doing messed up things will enjoy the heck out of some scenes.

Overall, Hunting Annabelle was an interesting read from a debut author that shows promise. The fact that it, at times, reminded me of one of my favorite TV shows only made it better.
*If you liked this review (or not), if you read the book (or not), come say hello and leave your comments bellow.

Thursday, November 01, 2018

*Grabby Hands* Review - Sadie by Courtney Summers

Image and blurb from Goodreads

Title: Sadie
Author: Courtney Summers
Age Category/Genre: Young Adult Mystery
Publication Date: September 4th, 2018
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Sadie hasn't had an easy life. Growing up on her own, she's been raising her sister Mattie in an isolated small town, trying her best to provide a normal life and keep their heads above water.

But when Mattie is found dead, Sadie's entire world crumbles. After a somewhat botched police investigation, Sadie is determined to bring her sister's killer to justice and hits the road following a few meagre clues to find him.

When West McCray—a radio personality working on a segment about small, forgotten towns in America—overhears Sadie's story at a local gas station, he becomes obsessed with finding the missing girl. He starts his own podcast as he tracks Sadie's journey, trying to figure out what happened, hoping to find her before it's too late.

Buy Links: Amazon

4 “Raw + Stellar Audiobook ” Stars

First of all, this audiobook is stellar. I wasn't a big fan of audiobooks, but this one definitely changed my mind and made me eager to listen to more. Here's hoping my next one is just as good.

Second, am I the only one who feels like this is neither YA nor mystery as it's being marketed?

Whatever it is or isn't, this book was still pretty great. Raw, like pretty much everything Courtney Summers writes, it was a story that wasn't the easiest to listen to because of how painful Sadie's entire life had been. For someone so young, she'd gone through so much already, and I couldn't help but feel for her, want to protect her and take her far away from that cruel world. Poor Sadie deserved so much better than what life had given her (and much better than that ending, if I'm being honest).

Dude, that ending...

Aside from the ending, that was a lot to like about the book. The characters weren't as black and white as one might expect with a book with such a serious and troubling theme; Sadie's POV had just the right amount of sarcasm to make her voice stand out; and even though there was little mystery involving the murder and the murderer, Sadie's fate and her path to revenge kept me interested from start to finish.

And I really, really loved how Sadie was portrayed: as someone who was trying SO hard to be strong and dangerous when you could so clearly see how broken she was. I don't love that she was broken, but I loved the contrast and how it made her narrative more powerful.

I initially also liked the podcast chapters, but they lost some of their purpose toward the end. Things got a little repetitive and I couldn't see the point of reliving everything we'd already seen in Sadie's POV.

Overall, though, this is another win when it comes to Courtney Summers' ability to write dark themes, raw feelings and engaging protagonists.

*If you liked this review (or not), if you read the book (or not), come say hello and leave your comments bellow.