Thursday, December 21, 2017

Shut Up and Kiss Me by Christie Craig | Book Review

Shut Up and Kiss Me by Christie Craig
First Published: 2010
Adult, Romance
Welcome to Precious, Texas, where fistfights serve as dinner theater and fire ants rain from the sky. The locals are very friendly, if a bit eccentric. No pictures please, or you may find yourself a guest of the county morgue.
Photojournalist Shala Winters already had her hands full bringing tourism to this backward, podunk town, but her job just got tougher. Pictures can say a thousand words, and one of Shala's is screaming bloody murder. Now she has to entrust a macho, infuriating lawman with her life -- but she'll never trust him with her heart.
Trusted or not, Sky Gomez isn't about to let a killer get his hands on Shala's Nikon -- or any of her more comely assets, for that matter. Her mouth might move faster than a Piney Woods roadrunner, but all he can think about is how good it must taste...and how she'll never escape true love.
Sometimes, you get a book on Kindle because it's free, and you're not sure if you're going to like it--the cover is bland, or you've never heard of the author before--but you still read it. And end up really, really enjoying it. Shut Up and Kiss Me is one of those reads for me.

Now, the summary on GR is really misleading. Shut Up and Kiss Me doesn't follow one couple, but three. So I'm gonna recap that for a second.

The first story is Shala and Sky's. Shala is a photographer who comes to Precious, Texas to help boost tourism in an effort to save the town. But not everyone wants her there, and Sky, as the chief of police, agrees to look out for her just in case. Which is good, because someone would stop at nothing to get Shala's camera... Could she have, somewhere, at some point, inadvertently took a photo of something she shouldn't have?...

As far as main couples go I really liked these two. I found Shala to be easy to relate to; she was smart but cute, funny but (when she wants to be) flirty, and easily flustered but emotionally hardened by her difficult past. She fits really well with Sky, despite the rocky beginning, since he is a natural protector, strong in body and mind, but also vulnerable. And like her, he has a rough past that he rises above.  

And of course, they were also HOT together (side note: I'm curious where the steamy parts would rank if I read this now, as a far more... ahem... seasoned... romance reader...).

The second story is Redfoot's, Sky's adoptive father, who has a relationship with his neighbor. Only she wants them to keep it a secret. Tension builds and the question becomes not should they come out to their families, but can they even remain together?... 

I did love Redfoot. He was a lot of fun to read of, while simultaneously dishing some elderly wisdom to everyone else. And his story was quite unique since old people don't get love stories often, which is a shame really. Life and love don't end at 40, nor do physical needs just... disappear completely.

And the third story is that of Maria, Sky's adoptive sister. Maria is dating Matt, but she suspects he might be cheating on her. It's just her luck that amidst this inner turmoil returns Jose, her adoptive brother, and past flame. Maria has things she has to tell both men if she ever wants to move on with her life and relationships. But can she bring herself to do it?...

Maria's storyline wasn't my favorite by a long shot. She didn't really leave much of an impression on me, for better or worse. She was just... there. Ditto on Jose and Matt, who each received the personality depth of a log. Jose was comic relief. Matt was the sweet boyfriend. This is where their traits end, really. I feel like Craig could've done a lot more with these people, if I were honest. As it stands, I kind of feel like you could cut the whole thing and the novel wouldn't be worse off. 

Craigs seems to specialize mostly in slapstick, and while I am not the biggest fan of that type of humor, other parts of the story covered for it; there were a lot of genuinely funny moments that required no manhood to be bitten by fire ants, a lot of cute, enough steam, and even some heart-wrenching moments, all wrapped up on witty dialogue and character chemistry.

Although, I will definitely admit that the whole hitman subplot was subpar. It was loosely used to bring Shala and Sky together and then barely utilized, with the few bits surrounding it lacking in action and excitement.

My other big critique is that the ending of the novel kind of promises a continuation, yet it doesn't appear like we're ever going to get one. At this point, I probably won't read it even if it came out (it's been five years and I can barely remember this one), but still... sucks for everyone who loves this novel.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

To Kill a Warlock by H.P. Mallory | Rant Review

To Kill a Warlock by H.P. Mallory
First Published: 2010
Adult, Urban Fantasy
The murder of a dark arts warlock. A shape-shifting, ravenous creature on the loose. A devilishly handsome stranger sent to investigate. Sometimes working law enforcement for the Netherworld is a real bitch.
Dulcie O’Neil is a fairy. And not the type to frolic in gardens. She’s a Regulator—a law-enforcement agent who monitors the creatures of the Netherworld to keep them from wreaking havoc in the mortal world. When a warlock is murdered and Dulcie was the last person to see him alive, she must uncover the truth before she’s either deported back to the Netherworld, or she becomes the next victim.
Enter Knight Vander, a sinfully attractive investigator sent from the Netherworld to work the case with Dulcie. Between battling her attraction to her self-appointed partner, keeping a sadomasochistic demon in check, and fending off the advances of a sexy and powerful vampire, Dulcie’s got her hands full. As the body count increases, Dulcie finds herself battling dark magic, reconnoitering in S&M clubs and suffering the greatest of all betrayals.
You know those books that make you scratch your head at all the reviews and high ratings they have and wonder if you've read the same book? Perhaps someone trolled you and gave you a fake copy? Because there is no way all these people love this book if they read the same version you did? Yeah... this is one of those books.

When I got this book I was extremely excited - I had seen how highly rated Mallory's books came, and I was on an urban fantasy kind of kick so she was definitely on my authors-to-read list. And I was doubly excited to have the opportunity to read one of her books for free on kindle. I distinctively remember the squeal I let out, even now, five years later.

Unfortunately, all those fuzzy feelings died a quick death. May they rest in peace.

I simply couldn't stand the writing. I wish I could tell you what it was about it that gave me such a visceral reaction; the kind of response that makes you wince and grit your teeth and hope the torture would be over soon. Rare is the book that makes me feel this way, so in its own way, this read was very special to me.

Not to mention, this book had a lot of repetitions. That's a particular pet peeve of mine. And you know how sometimes when you're in a group and someone laughs at his own joke and everyone just stares at him because it wasn't all that funny and he says "get it? get it?". Well... that's how I felt about all the parts in this book that were obviously meant to make me laugh. They didn't.

Maybe if the characters were compelling the story would've been saved for me, but they simply weren't. I didn't like Dulcie's character at all. She is frankly quite the slut. I'm definitely okay with characters sleeping around when they're not in a relationship and women being secure in their sexuality, but I draw the line at leading several men on. At the same time. It just grates on my nerves. You can do all those things without hurting others in the process.

I mean, the book literally ends with several loose ends--and at least three guys--open and unanswered, with Dulcie having two upcoming dates (with two different guys) and receiving a cute present from a third. (On a completely unrelated note - Knight is an incredibly stupid name for a character, and should be reserved to comic books if at all...)

And the bad guy was so obvious I simply had to sigh when he was revealed. I kind of had some hope Mallory will pull the rug from under my feet or something and at least give me a good twist or two. But nope.

During the entire time I was reading this book, the question "why the heck am I reading this book?" kept popping into my mind, flashing in colorful, glaring lights, demanding some sort of answer from me. Since I had none, I didn't give it any. If it was Present Me who was reading this novel, I would have DNFed it at around 20% if I were nice, but Past Me was a little more particular about dropping books, so she used all the willpower she had to finish it as quickly as she could so she could move on to greener pastures...

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Dancing With the Devil by Keri Arthur | Rant Review [Spoilers]

Dancing With the Devil by Keri Arthur
First Published: 2008
Adult, Fantasy
Private Investigator Nikki James grew up on the tough streets of Lyndhurst and believes there's nothing left to surprise her. All that changes the night she follows teenager Monica Trevgard into the shadows-and becomes a pawn caught in a war between two very different men. One fills her mind with his madness, the other pushes his way into her life-and her heart. Nikki knows how dangerous love can be, but if she wants to survive, she must place her trust in a man who could easily destroy her.
Michael Kelly has come to Lyndhurst determined to end the war between himself and another brother of the night. For 300 years he has existed in life's shadows, gradually learning to control the life from death cravings of a vampire. Nikki not only breaches his formidable barriers with her psychic abilities, but makes Michael believe he may finally have found a woman strong enough to walk by his side and ease the loneliness in his heart. But will his love be enough to protect her from a madman hell-bent on revenge? Or will it drive her into his enemy's deadly trap?
Only together can they overcome the evil threatening to destroy them both. But the secrets they keep from each other might prove to be the greatest threat of all.
Good God this book was boring.
Seriously, I did not expect this. The "heroes" kept getting into traps, nearly dying, failing and in pain. Rinse and repeat. It got old real quick. Even scenes one would normally classify as action scenes were dull and dry without an ounce of soul.

And let's just take a second to lament how dumb someone has to be to fall into traps over and over and over again. At a certain point, couldn't you try to put a trap of your own? Or do something, anything, to counter attack?? Seriously, it's been 5 years since I read this book and I am still angry about it...

Now, on top of all this, a lot of parts made absolutely no freaking sense. Michael, who is the male protagonist, literally found the whereabouts of villainous-dude Jasper about half a dozen times throughout the book. But then, those scenes ended in fade-to-blacks paired with some inane notion like "it's time for the hunter to become the hunted"... which never played out. The next time we see our "heroes", nothing has changed and Jasper is still at large. Why is this even in the story?

Then, there was the Case of the Vanishing Injuries. These guys... they get hurt. Often. Like, hit by a car kind of hurt. And then... it's mentioned maybe once, and is forgotten until the next time they get injured. That's not how these things work, book!

But at the end of the day, it was the characters that made this book suck ass. More specifically... it was Nikki. I disliked how scared she was, all the time. It's human to be afraid, but having that be your one single emotion is just frustrating. But I could deal with that. I could even kind-of-maybe-sort-of deal with her utter uselessness, even though it's one of my pet peeves in books, especially when the girl is so heavily gifted. Like, you've got everything working for you to be a key character in the story, and instead, you are just a damsel in distress.

But I only started actually hating her later in the story. On the one hand, she did not want Michael to go and on the other she was so darn annoying, refusing to trust him because of something someone else did, being anti-vampires in general, accusing Michael of dumb things and just looking for something wrong about him. And then, when he does leave, she regrets it. Girl, you deserve to have your ass deserted and left to fend for yourself. Yes, you will die within a minute because you are that useless but at this point, I don't even give a fuck.

Now, clearly, considering the former paragraph... I wasn't a huge fan of the romance. It wasn't very believable, at any case. I have no idea why this two fell for each other. I mean, why would anyone fall for Nikki??? And naturally, the "I love you"s came out of nowhere. Because that's the kind of novel this is...

One of the most disappointing things about this novel was actually the writing. I had been excited to read a Keri Arthur novel when I picked this up. I heard a lot about them, after all. Sadly, I was very underwhelmed by it. There was just nothing about it, and as I said before - boring as hell.

Okay, wait, time for a positive thing about this novel!... It ended and I was able to move on to better reads. LOL. 

Friday, December 15, 2017

Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr | Book Review

Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr
First Published: 2007
Young Adult, Fantasy
Rule #3: Don't stare at invisible faeries.
Aislinn has always seen faeries. Powerful and dangerous, they walk hidden in the mortal world. Aislinn fears their cruelty - especially if they learn of her Sight - and wishes she were as blind to their presence as other teens.
Rule #2: Don't speak to invisible faeries.
Now faeries are stalking her. One of them, Keenan, who is equal parts terrifying and alluring, is trying to talk to her, asking questions Aislinn is afraid to answer.
Rule #1: Don't ever attract their attention.
But it's too late. Keenan is the Summer King, who has sought his queen for nine centuries. Without her, summer itself will perish. He is determined that Aislinn will become the Summer Queen at any cost — regardless of her plans or desires.
Suddenly none of the rules that have kept Aislinn safe are working anymore, and everything is on the line: her freedom; her best friend, Seth; her life; everything.
Faery intrigue, mortal love, and the clash of ancient rules and modern expectations swirl together in Melissa Marr's stunning twenty-first-century faery tale.
Wicked Lovely is one of those novels I need to re-read ASAP and continue with the series, because I read this one back in 2012, and has owned it for years before that, and while I remember really enjoying this dark fairy-tale I don't remember enough to be able to move on to book two without the re-read.

It's interesting how strongly I remember liking it, when I had an extremely hard time getting into it at first. I started this book three times before finally moving past chapter three. There was just... something there that wasn't clicking at first. This book is lucky that back then I was far more stubborn about leaving books unfinished, because had it happened today I would've never went back to it. Three strikes and you're out and all that jazz. But, that wasn't the case, and I did go back to it. And then scratched my head wondering why on earth did I have so much trouble with it to begin with?

The world Marr creates in Wicked Lovely was breathtaking and beautiful... despite the ugliness of it, if that makes any sense. It's unique and extraordinary. When I think of that looming re-read (I am going to do that sometime in 2018), the thing I am most excited about is re-familiarizing myself with this world.

And in that world exists Aislinn. No idea if I'm pronouncing that one correctly. Aislinn is a normal teenage girl with slightly... unusual... worries. And by "unusual", I mean of the supernatural verity. Specifically, faeries. Even more specifically; seeing faeries. That's not supposed to happen. Honestly, I don't remember much of this character, and my old review speaks of the fact nothing of her really caught my attention since I just said: "I liked her". That doesn't mean I didn't like her, only that I really need that re-read if I want to recall anything about this main character lol.

Seth is Ash's best friend and the only one she feels safe around. Boy, did I adore this guy. He is sweet, caring and protective. And he does all that while looking like a badass in piercings (which are not really my thing, but when a nice guy wears them I'm okay with it haha).

Donia is The Winter Girl, and parts of the story are told of her POV. She is one of the faeries stalking Ash and I remember really liking her and loving watching the story through her eyes.

Keenan is the other fairy stalking Ash, and this is one character I was just kind of... meh about. I didn't hate him, but then I didn't like him. Like Donia, parts of the story are told from his POV.

Now, the main romance in the novel is between Ash and Seth. And it is one sexy romance! I was honestly so happy both with the fact that there wasn't really a love triangle AND that Seth is the romantic interest because this book made me believe he and Ash belong together! And afraid to read the next books because what if Marr does something to my babies??? 

Another relationship explored in the book is the one between Keenan and Donia. That was intriguing and still full of possibilities...

All of these things accumulate to the ending, which was a mixed bag for me. Some things were darn right underwhelming, considering all the hype the story builds around them. And some things were extremely shocking and subverted any expectation I had! And that makes me very curious to read the next books, even if it seems otherwise considering the 5 years hiatus I put this series on...

Friday, August 11, 2017

Tempting Danger by Eileen Wilks | A Combination of All My Favorite Series!

Tempting Danger by Eileen Wilks
First Published: 2004
Adult, Urban Fantasy
National bestselling author Eileen Wilks draws readers into a bold new world where the magical and mundane co-exist in an uneasy alliance--and a cop balanced on her own knife-edged struggle is their only hope against a cold-blooded killer.
Lily Yu is a San Diego police detective investigating a series of grisly murders that appear to be the work of a werewolf. To hunt down the killer, she must infiltrate the clans. Only one man can help her--a were named Rule Turner, a prince of the lupi, whose charismatic presence disturbs Lily. Rule has his own reasons for helping the investigation--reasons he doesn't want to share with Lily. Logic and honor demand she keep her distance, but the attraction between them is immediate and devastating-and beyond human reason. Now, in a race to fend off evil, Lily finds herself in uncharted territory, tested as never before, and at her back a man who she's not sure she can trust.
Once upon a time, a young girl by the name of Nitzan added a book by the name of Tempting Danger to her To Be Read list. And promptly forgot she ever did, or why. Years passed, and she saw the book discounted on the wonderful land of Kindle. She did not get it then, for the cover was not captivating enough. But the gods had other plans for Nitzan.

They urged her to organize her TBR and reduce it. And so, she stumbled upon the book again. Confused--why had she added it?--she read the synopsis and realized that it sounds just like the book for her. Hastily she returned to the land of kindle and got it.

Becuase it was simply meant to be.

It was obvious by the third chapter - Tempting Danger is a wonderful mix of some of my all time favorite series while not being a copy of those series, by no stretch of the imagination, it's simply something that makes me think of these things I love but is great on its own. So if you like the urban fantasies Kate Daniels and Mercy Thompson series, or the mystery In Death series, this book is THE one for you.

But let's get a little more in depth into this book review/recommendation. There are a few things I can tell you so you could make an informed decision whether to read this or not.

If you like your heroines kick-ass, determined, pragmatic, dry witted and very passionate about their job, you will love our main character Lily Yu. She's a young homicide detective who takes no one's shit. She is extremely intelligent, capable and rational. And her job means the world to her. Which is why she didn't count on any of this happening to her, but there you have it. Sometimes, shit happens. And when it does, you just have to deal with it.

If you like your heroes to be charming, confident and utterly devoted to their better half even when they never expected to love someone, you will love Rule. I know I did. Rule is basically a werewolf prince. So that means he is handsome as all get out, rich (kind of) and, naturally, has no shortage of women flock to him. Normally, that would make for a certain type of hero. BUT RULE IS NO JERK!

I know, I know, this is utterly shocking. I was blown-away, too! But this guy is just a sweetheart, even before he falls for the seasoned detective. And after he does... let's just say, he is the perfect blend of Alpha and devotion. Very rarely do I find a book boyfriend who is so inherently alpha, but uses barely any high handed maneuvers (though for no lack of worry and protectiveness) and listens to what his partner actually has to say... and agrees when she's right. Be ready to swoon boys, gals, and nonbinary pals! (Someone here may have been watching too much Thomas Sanders as she was typing this review...)

Now, clearly, I highly recommend the characters. But do I recommend the romance? I think it's fairly obvious I do. The romance hits both parties hard and unexpectedly, and there is the whole "soul mates" part of it. But unlike many novels that use this as a device to excuse insta love and forgo showing the reader the two are meant to be together, Wilks uses this as the catalyst to their falling in love process beginning.

Rule and Lily are forced together by an otherworldly being. Now they have to decide if they even like each other. Spoiler alert: yeah, they do. It's all so organic in the way they react to their predicament. They don't fall in love over night, but over time, forced to spend time together and eventually open up to each other, finding comfort in one another. IT'S GLORIOUS AF, OKAY?!

In fact, the romance is probably my favorite part of this novel, because it is the crux of it without overwhelming the story and plot.

Now, let's talk about the world, especially because I talked about Mercy Thompson and Kate Daniels before. You can definitely see some similarities, especially in the uneasy truce and bigotry between the human world and magical beings, but Wilks created a really intriguing beast with the way she blends those and adds the layer of realms with different rules and creations into the mix.

I can't wait to read more of this series, and I say that as someone who already read the next book just 'cause she couldn't help herself lol

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Maggie Stiefvater | Authors Who Win the Cover Lottery #1

A new segment here on the blog that will spotlight gorgeous covers and the authors who nail them repeatedly. 

Take a moment. Breath these cover in. Let their beauty cure all your ills. Imagine yourself stroking and hugging them close. Then marvel at how damn lucky can one author be to win the cover lottery again, and again, and again!

I don't know if it's because Maggie is an artist, or if she even has a say in her books' covers, but damn. Even her earlier works, like Lament and Ballad, or the anthologies she's in like The Curiosities and The Anatomy of Curiosity have really pleasing covers.

But I chose to focus on the eight above.

The Shiver series is the earliest of the ones displayed, and I have to admit I like all the iterations of this series. The ones I put above are the original ones, which I think are the best. I like the simplicity of them, the branches, and the way you suddenly see the wolf there. The new covers follow a similar theme, but I don't like how the color just overtakes everything. I feel like the white works a lot better.

The next covers are of the raven cycle. God almighty, I think those are the most gorgeous covers EVER. Seriously they are at the top of the top of my favorite list. It starts all the way with the first book, The Raven Boys with the cool raven made of brush strokes and the red beating heart, The Dream Thieves with my hubby Ronan so beautifully drawn atop it, Blue Lily, Lily Blue which fights with The Raven King for my favorite of the favorites. Both of them utilize the gorgeous brush strokes, and create such beautiful drawings I CAN'T EVEN THEY ARE SO PRETTY!!!

And then there is the newest addition, All the Crooked Saints. Another pretty one that uses the theme of branches and flowers. It's just SO PLEASENT to look at. Seriously. The colors beautifully mash, the typography and the way the veins climb through it and AHHH I want it already just so I could stare at it all day.

Another cover that I debated putting in but eventually decided against (since the original one is pretty ugly) is the second hardcover version of The Scorpio Races and the second paperback version.  Again, both are so nice to look at.

By the way, I love how Maggie's covers often utilize the white and blank spaces. It makes the actual illustration POP out.

*I link to the amazon buying options where they exist, or to the GR page if you can't buy it anymore.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Naked in Death by J.D. Robb | The Start of an Incredible Series!

First Published: 1995
Paperback & Kindle
Adult, Mystery
In a world of danger and deception, she walks the line--between seductive passion and scandalous murder... Eve Dallas is a New York police lieutenant hunting for a ruthless killer. In over ten years on the force, she's seen it all--and knows her survival depends on her instincts. And she's going against every warning telling her not to get involved with Roarke, an Irish billionaire--and a suspect in Eve's murder investigation. But passion and seduction have rules of their own, and it's up to Eve to take a chance in the arms of a man she knows nothing about--except the addictive hunger of needing his touch.
I first read Naked in Death about five years ago. I'm not ashamed to admit - it was love at first read. These characters and the world they live in completely captured my heart and soul in just a few pages. It felt like watching one of the detective shows I love, only more satisfying because the romance is an integral part of it, but I didn't have to wait five seasons for it to happen nor did it take over the story and overshadow the case. You know how hard that is to balance?!

Wait, wait, I'm getting waaaaay ahead of myself, aren't I?

Meet Eve Dallas, a seasoned detective in futuristic New York. She is a snarky, dry homicide cop with so much heart it's crazy, even though she tries to pretend otherwise. There is nothing more important to her than bringing justice to the victims, and her personal life is a constant casualty due to it.

Here is a tough, badass woman, who cares. And we can already tell the source of that huge heart lies in her childhood. I remember the curiosity eating at me the first time I read this novel, wanting to hear more details even though I could tell it would be awful.

A prostitute is dead. This specific prostitute is also the grandaughter of a senator. And more pressing--the killer left a jarring note saying she is only the first of six. Now it's a race against time to find the culprit before he kills more people, and bring justice to the murdered.

Now, as far as mysteries go, this is a decent one. It's pretty hard to read at times, you might guess at the identity of the killer before Eve does (I did), and I will warn you you will be nauseated by the whole affair. This is not a bad thing.

But I think the importance of this case is not necessarily about the mystery itself, not in the grand scheme of the In Death world. There is a reason Robb decides to start with this specific case, and not a case five years prior or something like that (Eve has been a detective for quite a while). That's because this is the case that will change her life. This is the case where she meets Roarke.
“You know, Roarke, you’re kind of cute.”
Who is Roarke? Billionaire tech god, this guy is everything. Handsome, rich, funny and smart, he is the ultimate book boyfriend. Especially because of how hard he falls for the hard boiled detective (despite a sketchy past of his own) and how well he comes to understand her.

Guys, these two are at the TOP of my OTP list, and it starts right here. I had forgotten how completely J.D. Robb manages to make you ship these two from their very first scene together. There is just such incredible chemistry between them, and they fit like two pieces of a puzzle. You want them together.

Seriously, these guys are my crack. I have read almost 20 books in this series and they never, never fail to capture my heart and soul.

If you love mysteries with a dash of romance, compelling characters and great side story lines, pick up this fantastic series!

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Existence by Abbi Glines / The First Book I Ever HATED

Existence by Abbi Glines
First Published: 2004
Young Adult, Paranormal Romance
What happens when you're stalked by Death? You fall in love with him, of course.
Pagan Moore doesn't cheat Death, but instead, falls in love with him.
Seventeen year old Pagan Moore has seen souls her entire life. Once she realized the strangers she often saw walking through walls were not visible to anyone else, she started ignoring them. If she didn't let them know she could see them, then they left her alone. Until she stepped out of her car the first day of school and saw an incredibly sexy guy lounging on a picnic table, watching her with an amused smirk on his face. Problem is, she knows he's dead.
Not only does he not go away when she ignores him, but he does something none of the others have ever done. He speaks. Pagan is fascinated by the soul. What she doesn't realize is that her appointed time to die is drawing near and the wickedly beautiful soul she is falling in love with is not a soul at all.
He is Death and he's about to break all the rules.
Once upon a time, all the way back in 2012, I heard about Existence by Abbi Glines. Wherever I looked, people loved it. So, naturally I thought I would love it too. Oh boy, how wrong I was. This was the book that introduced me to the concept of hating a book. HATING. I guess we all have that one. This was mine.

The crux of the problem was Pagan, the main character. She is such an awful main character, her ridiculous name the least of her problems.

First of all, she's a user. She is in love with a guy name Dank (no joke), and yet she dates this other guy named Leif (again, I swear to god these are their names). So, in my book, that makes her shady af. But if that's not bad enough, she is also a stinking  c h e a t e r  okay?? She kissed another guy while having a boyfriend.

Second, she has a fierce case of the Bella Syndrome, which is when a girl is sooooo in love with a guy that when he leaves she breaks into tiny little pieces and can't live anymore. That's pathetic. Girls are stronger than that, dammit!

So I was already hating on her when the book decided to declare her "soul" beautiful. Oh, and on top of that, she's brave and strong. Ehhh, hello? Who is this Pagan you're talking about and can we have this book be about her instead? I feel like that'd be a much better read than this pathetic mess!

Now, I'm sure you won't be surprised when I say I hated the romance. I kind of hinted toward that already, but let's go into details. For one thing, it's freaking insta love. Like, couldn't you have at least given me a satisfying relationship to hold on??? There is no why, when or how to it. She sees him and BAM she's in love.

But it wasn't even a healthy love. He became the entire reason for her existence. That's not good, y'all!!

But then, to top that off you have Dank. This guy, okay? It's supposed to be impossible for him to fall in love with a human, because reasons. Ergo, the person that makes him fall in love should be super smart, and good, and all around amazing. Well, Pagan's special alright... (e)special(ly) annoying. I guess some guys find that attractive?

The accumulation of all these annoying things is the showdown. Or whatever the hell that was.

SPOILER So, there is the whole self sacrifice deal so Dank could live. But twist! It doesn't work like that so instead she must be brave and live so that his sacrifice wouldn't be for nothing. Ahhh, but gotcha! Choosing to live without the meaning of your existence is actually the biggest sacrifice of all, and oh, how brave and strong you are Pagan to endure it. Your reward.... huzzah, he's alive! END SPOILER

When do I get to shoot myself?? Seriously, what is this crap and why do people love this?

The single endurable thing about this whole mess is the last line. The last line. It made me consider for a millisecond reading the next book before I caught myself and burst out laughing.

As for the writing... It was okay. Yeah, that's the best I've got. I often felt like Glines dragged things way too long, and occasionally the speech was completely fake and unnatural. So, yeah, I wasn't super impressed ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Now, I would like to backtrack a little bit. I do think that my disappointment could've been less severe if the summary didn't reveal what Dank was, and instead we had to discover it with Pagan. It could've at least given some mystery to the whole thing.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Where Have I Been... and Am I coming Back?

Hello hello hello!!

How are everyone? For the past few months I've been pretty inactive, mostly active in the deal area of this blog, but I wanted to give you an update in case you were worried about my status.

My biggest passion in life has always, always, been writing stories. It has been my dream and life goal since I was seven years old. I used to write every day, all day, until I was about eighteen, when I went to collage for script writing.

There, ironically enough, I stopped writing. There was something so depressing and life sucking in that program that made me completely lose my muse. For five years. Those five years were, instead, filled with reading many different books.

Earlier this year, I found my groove again. I started writing again. But something had to give. And that something had to be.... reading. And this is, ultimately, a review blog. So, unfortunately, this blog was hurt the most by this.

That being said, I am starting to find more balance, and in order to have a more balanced diet, I intend to read and review four books per month (at least), and write four non review posts of any kind.

Now, what else have I been doing? 

1. Exercising! Unbelievably enough, I have started a regime of walks and jogs in order to live a healthier life & lose some of the weight I've gained since starting my job. It's a lot of weight lol

2. Watching drama. I kind of got sucked into that world while focusing on my writing. It's easier to just invest 45 minutes to an hour in an episode one in a while than a book. I tend to lose myself while I'm reading.

3. Gif-ing! I don't know how it happened, but I started gifing the shows I'm watching. It's becoming a real sickness!!

What about you guys? What have you been doing this past few months? Read anything good you can recommend for my 4 books a month?

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Nancy Drew: Ghost Dogs of Moon Lake | Game Review

Hello my friends, it has been a long long time since I have last posted on this blog. Mostly because I have not been reading at all but focusing on my new novel. I'm too scared that other books' writing style may affect my story to read anything while writing this, so this is a somewhat blessed hiatus.

Anyways, it's not as if I am not doing fun things. I am watching anime, drama and playing games, anything that doesn't involve reading words. And as part of this, I have played Ghost Dogs of Moon Lake today.
For those of you who don't know, the Nancy Drew games are a series of games where you play as Nancy Drew, young sleuth, who must solve the mysteries she keeps finding herself in before they kill her! Nancy is always a fun character to play as; she is smart, sharp and sassy, and she bows down to no one!

In this mystery, You, as Nancy, must pick up the cold trail left by a notorious gangster who once lived in the lakeside cabin recently purchased by Nancy’s friend. Are the ghostly legends true, or is there a flesh and blood answer to the dogs’ haunting howls?

These games are the definition of Nostalgia for me. I played them as a child with my cousins, who lived in America and whom I only saw in the summers. They introduced me to these games and helped me understand the English in them until I was thirsty to play on my own and continued with them at home. Ever since then, I have played all the Nancy Drew games that have come out to date.

Ghost Dogs of Moon Lake was one of those my cousins lent me and I accidently on purpose never gave back.  It was one of my favorites growing up, especially since it had dogs in it, and I love me a good doggie!
Playing it again, I have to say you can definitely see how far this game-series have gone. New games are far more exciting and action packed, and the puzzles are harder and more prominent, but there is something very fun about going back in time as well. It was very calming and relaxing it its own way. 

It's funny for me to play this now; it took me barely two hours to get through this entire game, when as a child I worked on it for about a week. It seems silly that those riddles were ever hard for me, but there you go. I'm going to take this as a positive confirmation that I have grown smarter over the years haha

The only thing lacking was the actual villain. I actually remembered who it was and searched for clues throughout the game, but there weren't almost any. It was a bit disappointing to realize there was no build up for this mystery, and I look forward to seeing how the other games fare in this department as I play through them!

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Let's Be Honest... Who Do You Write For?

This is a post a long time in the making. Which makes sense considering I haven't written a proper, pure discussion post in a long while now, as I've been slumping pretty hard blog-wise. But every time I thought to myself "what post should I write next?" THIS is what came immediately to mind;

Who do I write for?

This blog is not very popular. In a lot of ways, perhaps in all the ways that matter as an online blog, it's not a success. I'm hesitant to say it is a "failure", but that is perhaps the most accurate description. No doubt a huge part of that is my fault, as I post irregularly at best and not at all at worst.

The facts remain that my average comment number on any given post is a huge zero and I only have about one reader who comments regularly (hey Stephanie! *waves*). It's nothing like my very first blog in 2012, where I got between three and five comments a post. I thought that was lame back there and was disappointed by it. I find that ironically hilarious.

That old blog closed because of the same thing that is happening now; irregular posting schedule, low interactive-ness, etc etc. But whereas I had so many thoughts of closing down the blog back then, of moving on, I do not have those same thoughts now.

For all the disappointment of getting no reads, and the huge slump of not reviewing many of the books I read... I've never thought about stopping reviewing books on this blog. This made me wonder... who, exactly, do I write for? What has changed since 2014?

Any reviewer who tells you they are not writing for others to read is lying. If we weren't writing for you to read it, we would do so on a personal journal that no one ever has to see. If I didn't want you to read this very post, I wouldn't have put it online where it's available to y'all.

We all wish and hope others will read and enjoy what we're putting out there. It's part of the magic of reviewing and this whole community in general. Where fandoms have fanart and fanfiction, the Bookish Fandom has reviews and discussion posts and tags.

And yet, I find myself replying to the aforementioned question with...

I am writing for myself.

Now, don't be thinking it's an altruistic desire... because it's not that at all. If anything, this is as selfish as I can possibly be. I am putting this content out there for the chance someone could enjoy it and maybe even validate me and my opinion a little bit (hey, I'm just a human), but the content itself is written for me.

Because it gives me something incredible. It gives me a shortened re-reading experience... without ever cracking the book open.

Do you have any idea how many times in the past I have encountered a book, or a movie, or an anime, or a show, that I have read/watched... and yet I can't remember anything about it? There is nothing more frustrating to me than looking at a cover or a title and drawing blanks despite knowing without a shadow of a doubt that I have spent time in this world.

It bothers me on such a personal, deep level.

But you know what happens when I have written a review on whatever it was? the words on the page trigger a slew of memories. I am suddenly able to put myself where I was when I read, what I read, what I thought, where before there was nothing. I am able to relive the emotions and have a shortened re-experience with the novel.

Be it good or bad, I am able to remember.

I love this. I love doing this and being able to recall what a book made me think and feel because of the words I put down on it in a review.

So I'm not going to stop this blog, even if I write barely five posts a month, on a good month. Because at the end of the day, while it's online so other people could read and enjoy it when I can just have a notebook for all those thoughts (although, let's be honest, at this point this blog is dead enough to be considered a personal notebook), I still write for myself. For that ability to re-read the novel through my review. And if I could maybe make some else feel emotions through this, all the better :)

Side note: if you're looking for more consistent content from me, friend or follow me on GR. There are a lot of thoughts that don't appear on this blog simply because I don't put unedited reviews on here. On GR, though, I puke all my thoughts straight after finishing a novel and then later edit them for the blog. So it's a lot more consistent, if also a lot messier.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Pillowtalk by Cassie Mae | ARC Review

Pillowtalk by Cassie Mae
First Published: 2017
I received an arc from NetgGlley in exchange for my honest review! 
Adult, Romance
In this heartfelt romance from the author of the All About Love series, two people who thought they’d given up on passion turn to each other for emotional support—and maybe something a little more physical.
Kennedy Walters has had a tough year. Now she’s come to the lakeside town of Lyra Valley to finally say goodbye to the memory of her first love. But while she’s staying at his sister’s B&B, Kennedy is shocked to find herself undeniably drawn to a handsome local heartthrob—especially since she isn’t sure if she’s ready to move on.
Aaron Sheppard returned to Lyra Valley because he was fed up with the big city and everything it didn’t have to offer—like the beautiful, down-to-earth girl staying at the B&B. Aaron’s enjoying a little flirtation until he realizes that she’s Kennedy Walters, the girl who was dating his best friend. But after a power outage strands them together, Aaron and Kennedy wind up sharing some intimate conversation. And over the course of a night that neither will ever forget, they learn just how compatible they could be—if only they knew how to let go and fall into each other’s arms.
If you're looking for a simply sweet romantic story about love and loss and love again, this one is for you. Cassie Mae is a master at crafting lovely love stories that can warm your heart and make you smile, without having to relay on drama to carry the story along.

In this one, she delves into the realities of prematurely losing a loved one and coming to terms with the fact that you are allowed to feel joy and love again. That moving on does not mean forgetting, nor does it negates the love you felt for that person.

And she shows this dilemma, this inner conflict very well through both our heroine and our hero.

Sweet, gentle Kennedy has just lost Jared a year ago, but his death feels as fresh today as it felt the day he passed and the silence that accompanies her whenever she attempts to talk to him a stark reminder of her loneliness.

Quiet, thoughtful Aaron has lost Jared years before his actual passing, but his pain--and guilt-- is just as strong as Kennedy's, if not stronger. His fallout with Jared and his inability to breach the gap before his passing haunts him. Their lost friendship and the lost chances were heartbreaking to read off.

These two people, haunted by the same person, meet at his hometown and in a course of a week come together, find solace and a sense of peace within each other. But they shouldn't, should they? Not with Jared's ghost hanging around them.

Cassie Mae does a really good job in making you forget these people only know each other for a week because she spends so much time letting us sink into their conversations and their meet ups. She deftly crafts this relationship, this falling in love, through conversations and looks and smiles, that make you feel as if it has been much longer. When the characters themselves wonder at the short while they've known each other, I was shocked to realize it hadn't been months.

That being said, I didn't connect to this one as much as I normally do with Mae's stories, because of my personal belief system and by no fault of this novel, because I truly believe this novel will connect to and move many a heart.

But while I definitely bought Aaron and Kennedy's romance, I didn't buy quite as easily their healing process. I felt like these people have hurt for so long, and their love for Jared was so alive, that their actual healing came much too fast for me. On a personal level, this is something I don't believe. I think it's a much longer process, and I always struggle with love being shown as this magic cure.

But this is, again, such a personal matter, and I highly recommend reading this novel or any other novel by Mae (Reasons I Fell For the Funny Fat Friend and Doing It For Love my current faves) to experience the joy her writings can bring.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

A Magical, Awe Inspiring Tale | On The Island by Tracey Garvis Graves #MustRead

On the Island by Tracey Garvis Graves
First Published: 2011
Adult, Romance
When thirty-year-old English teacher Anna Emerson is offered a job tutoring T.J. Callahan at his family's summer rental in the Maldives, she accepts without hesitation; a working vacation on a tropical island trumps the library any day.
T.J. Callahan has no desire to leave town, not that anyone asked him. He's almost seventeen and if having cancer wasn't bad enough, now he has to spend his first summer in remission with his family - and a stack of overdue assignments -- instead of his friends.

Anna and T.J. are en route to join T.J.'s family in the Maldives when the pilot of their seaplane suffers a fatal heart attack and crash-lands in the Indian Ocean. Adrift in shark-infested waters, their life jackets keep them afloat until they make it to the shore of an uninhabited island. Now Anna and T.J. just want to survive and they must work together to obtain water, food, fire, and shelter.
Their basic needs might be met but as the days turn to weeks, and then months, the castaways encounter plenty of other obstacles, including violent tropical storms, the many dangers lurking in the sea, and the possibility that T.J.'s cancer could return. As T.J. celebrates yet another birthday on the island, Anna begins to wonder if the biggest challenge of all might be living with a boy who is gradually becoming a man.
When I first read On the Island, I couldn't stop thinking about it for months. I talked about it non-stop, recommended it to whoever agreed to listen--and some who didn't. I was captured by this story in a way that happens rarely. It even haunted my dreams.

And for a long while after, I wanted to re-read it. But I was also afraid. Afraid this novel, which I remember in my head as total perfection, would fail to bring forth the same feelings in me a second time.

Can someone please hit me over the head with a club forever, ever doubting this magical adventure? Finally re-reading it as I've always wanted to do, I was swept in this storm of emotions once again; fear, exhilaration, awe, disbelief. And so, so much wonder and love.

Anna and T.J go through a harrowing experience, and yet everything that happens on the island--and especially between them--is just magical. It almost feels like a fairy-tale. A really realistic one with some totally heartbreaking moments, but a fairy-tale nonetheless.

And those heartbreaking moments... boy, what heartbreak. But it's the type of heartbreak I recommend. The kind that makes you cry, but also mends something in your heart as you do so.

Anna and T.J's journey takes four and a half years. Four and a half years filled with craziness and danger that brings the two very slowly together. Four years of having no one else to rely on but each other.

Four and a half years to prove that love has no boundaries or rules or conventions. 

T.J starts the journey an almost seventeen years old boy who had just survived a near death experience. This already puts him ahead of his years in behavior and thought process. Being faced with mortality so early in life does that to a guy. So he's adaptable. He is ready to face whatever may come his way, even if it means finding ways to survive a freakin' plane crash and an uninhabited island.

But through the course of the novel, he evolves and grows into a man. And the overwhelming, astonishing part of all this is that you can see it happen right in front of you. He becomes the rock that holds him and Anna encored, and not the other way around. And... he's a swoon-worthy rock. Yes, I went there.

As for Anna, she is a balanced combination of strong and weak. She cries and gets scared easily, but she will still fight for her life and T.J's with a fierce determination. She is a caretaker, through and through.

And the two of them fit. They balance and center each other. They are each other's reason for fighting, for never giving up. It sure as hell didn't start romantic for them, but developed slowly into friendship and then to more in a way so natural it was obvious it was meant to be. Almost as if the whole plane crash was god's way to bring these two together.

The island forged an unbreakable bond between these two. Made them see the best and worst of each other in a way no one has or will see. Made them know each other from the inside out. You can't escape such an ordeal without it leaving a mark. And Anna and T.J's mark is... love.

Now, I'm sure there are those of you who are like "wait, isn't he 17 and she's, like, 31 or something?" Yes, dear reader, they are. And you know what? it doesn't fucking matter. When I first read this novel, I felt like the first thing I had to do was defend the age gap between our lovely main characters. I had to first tell people how adult T.J is mentally, how it grows naturally and yada yada yada. The best defense is offense, right?

Well, fuck that. This book needs no defending from me--it does its own defending well enough on its own. If my adamant love towards this novel doesn't tell you enough on the heavy themes and subjects it tackles so incredibly, nothing I say will.

As for everyone else... do yourselves a service and READ THIS BOOK.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake by Sarah MacLean | Book Review

Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake by Sarah MacLean
First Published: 2010
Paperback & Kindle
Adult, Historical Romance
A lady does not smoke cheroot. She does not ride astride. She does not fence or attend duels. She does not fire a pistol, and she never gambles at a gentlemen's club.
Lady Calpurnia Hartwell has always followed the rules, rules that have left her unmarried—and more than a little unsatisfied. And so she's vowed to break the rules and live the life of pleasure she's been missing.
But to dance every dance, to steal a midnight kiss—to do those things, Callie will need a willing partner. Someone who knows everything about rule-breaking. Someone like Gabriel St. John, the Marquess of Ralston—charming and devastatingly handsome, his wicked reputation matched only by his sinful smile.
If she's not careful, she'll break the most important rule of all—the one that says that pleasure-seekers should never fall hopelessly, desperately in love.
When I re-read Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake at the beginning of 2017, I thought I'll just take my old review of this novel, clean it up a little and compare my original thoughts to this re-read and viola, I'll have a ready post. Kind of like instant noodles.

So imagine my absolute surprise (and a bit of horror) to discover I had never reviewed this novel. Impossible! I thought to myself. How could I have never reviewed THE novel that made me fall madly in love with historical? There had to be a mistake. Only there wasn't one. Cue face palm and desk bang.

I will attempt to write a satisfactory review for this wonderful novel, that managed to tug at my every heartstring without seeming to be anything special at all at first glance.

The thing, or rather person, who alleviated this novel to me and made it one of the measuring scales for all other heroines after it is the main character, Callie Hartwell. Callie is me. She is the girl who reads a lot and isn't terribly beautiful and fantasizes about the day someone will think her beautiful. Someone will think her special. Someone will notice the woman she is and how much she has to offer. I felt her insecurity and her fear in me, like they were my own emotions

But unlike me, once she realizes that by all accounts, she is never going to get that--that she is far too old (in Victorian area times) and far too "boring" for anyone... well, she might as well have some fun. Do all the things she never let herself do. Be daring and brave... so that if no one else can call her interesting--she will always know that she is.

Callie Hartwell decides to become a doer. To say fuck you to all of the rules that have gotten her diddly squat and do something exciting.

And this is where Callie Hartwell stole my heart. Because she makes me think that if she can do it, all wrapped up in a society that doesn't think a woman can do anything, then so can I. I can be brave. I can be daring. I can do anything I've always dreamed of.

I cannot even begin to explain how powerful of a feeling this character gives me.

When I first read about her, I was a coward, connected to Callie by what might be. Today, I'm a lot more outspoken and unafraid, and a part of me things this is because of the seed of courage Callie installed in me. That voice in your head saying yes you can. If that's not something incredible to say about any novel, I don't know what is. 

Now, after I prattled on and on about Callie, a bit about her choice in men. And what a yummy choice it is. Gabriel is that rake we love to read of so much - the one who is the most eligible bachelor of the ton, but also the one most rumored about. But there is more to Gabriel than that - he appreciates family above all, his bond to his twin is irrevocable, he is a responsible marquess if nothing else, and he has a dry sense of humor. My favorite kind.

Now, Gabriel must act at least somewhat reputable, bringing a bastard sister into the sharp folds of the ton, and who better teach her the ways than the one female he knows who doesn't have a blemish to her name; Callie.

So what if they met when she came to ask him for a kiss, in his bedroom, in the depth of the night. So what if he can't seem to stop thinking about her. So what if she thrills and scares him all at the same time. So what... 

Their romance is scorching hot, people. You will need to fan yourself, repeatedly. You will also scream at them to do it already because god darn it, they are making you uncomfortable with all this sexual tension!

And can I also get a hallelujah for this couple talking to each other, and not letting any stupid misunderstandings come between them for more than a day? I mean, seriously, some book couples make it seem like "communication" is a crude word!!!

If I haven't made myself clear with this gashing (and highly personal) review... go read this novel if you like historical romances, or romances in general. I mean do it now. Go on... scoot!

(BTW - I literally read this two months ago and writing this review made me desperately want to pick up this novel again like, right now. What is my life.)

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The Heiress Effect by Courtney Milan | Book Review

The Heiress Effect by Courtney Milan
First Published: 2013
Adult, Historical Romance
Miss Jane Fairfield can’t do anything right. When she’s in company, she always says the wrong thing—and rather too much of it. No matter how costly they are, her gowns fall on the unfortunate side of fashion. Even her immense dowry can’t save her from being an object of derision.
And that’s precisely what she wants. She’ll do anything, even risk humiliation, if it means she can stay unmarried and keep her sister safe.
Mr. Oliver Marshall has to do everything right. He’s the bastard son of a duke, raised in humble circumstances—and he intends to give voice and power to the common people. If he makes one false step, he’ll never get the chance to accomplish anything. He doesn’t need to come to the rescue of the wrong woman. He certainly doesn’t need to fall in love with her. But there’s something about the lovely, courageous Jane that he can’t resist…even though it could mean the ruin of them both.
Whenever I am in need of a historical that will go deep and deal with difficult issues, I pick one of Milan's novels. She is one of those very rare authors that are unafraid to examine the unfairness of Victorian times and the position they often put women in, and she does so beautifully through mature and beautiful relationships that celebrate women, and men, and the love between them.

The Heiress Effect is no different. In it, Milan explores what a woman might do when she is put in a position where her marriage will leave her sister to harm, and what a woman who has money can afford to do in those times where women were supposed to be breathing decorations to highlight a man's success.

As always, Jane is a pristine example of Milan's heroines - smart, funny and unconventional. Jane always puts herself last, and I loved her outrageous fashion style and unwavering loyalty to her sister. In the end, it is Jane who is the strongest and bravest character in this novel. Far braver than Oliver.

But that doesn't mean I didn't like Oliver, because I adored him. Conflicted between his dreams and the way Jane could hinder them if he gives in to their attraction, but also unable not to appreciate the clever girl and her methods. His weary humor blended well with Jane's, and there wasn't anyone happier in the room when he finally said a metaphorical "screw it" to the world!

Together, these two had mad chemistry and their banter was just delightful to read. They fit, in a way that makes it natural for them to end up together. I never doubted, you guys!

The one side character that I just have to mention is Emily, Jane's sister. Emily does not know fear, and she is not going to let society and their ridiculous (yet well meaning) deeming of her "un-whole" just because she has some non life threatening seizures stop her from living life, no matter how hard they might try. And what a life she chooses to live... filled with love (to the beautiful Anjan, no less) and laughter and spunk! Rock on, girl!

Friday, March 10, 2017

The Governess Affair by Courtney Milan | Spoiler Book Review

The Governess Affair by Courtney Milan
First Published: 2012
Adult, historical romance
Hugo Marshall earned the nickname "the Wolf of Clermont" for his ruthless ambition--a characteristic that has served him well, elevating the coal miner's son to the right hand man of a duke. When he's ordered to get rid of a pestering governess by fair means or foul, it's just another day at work.
But after everything Miss Serena Barton has been through at the hands of his employer, she is determined to make him pay. She won't let anyone stop her--not even the man that all of London fears. They might call Hugo Marshall the Wolf of Clermont, but even wolves can be brought to heel...
Courtney Milan is one of those rare historical authors who is unafraid to tackle serious issues in her historicals. Most of the historicals I read are fun and games -- and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. I adore those books and gobble them up like candy. But sometimes, you want something deeper.

And Milan is the author for those times.

All of her heroine are strong and brave, and shine like a bright light in spite--and definitely because--of the times they live in, which don't nurture any of their many qualities... in women. And they have pasts. Pasts that have shaped and made them into what they are today.

As for Milan's heroes, they are the rare brand of historical heroes that are simply good people. They treat their women with respect, even before they fall in love. They put them first... eventually. They are in awe of their female partners, which is something that I simply delight in seeing.

And this prequel novella is not any different in those regards.

Now, I've contemplated writing a non spoilery review, but that will force me to cut off this review here and leave me unable to talk about all the things I want to talk about in regards to this short novella, and that is so not my M.O.

So from this point on... SPOILERS!!!

Monday, March 6, 2017

The Rose & The Dagger by Renee Ahdieh | Book Review

The Rose & The Dagger by Renee Ahdieh
First Published: 2016
Young Adult, romance
I am surrounded on all sides by a desert. A guest, in a prison of sand and sun. My family is here. And I do not know whom I can trust.

In a land on the brink of war, Shahrzad has been torn from the love of her husband Khalid, the Caliph of Khorasan. She once believed him a monster, but his secrets revealed a man tormented by guilt and a powerful curse-one that might keep them apart forever. Reunited with her family, who have taken refuge with enemies of Khalid, and Tariq, her childhood sweetheart, she should be happy. But Tariq now commands forces set on destroying Khalid's empire. Shahrzad is almost a prisoner caught between loyalties to people she loves. But she refuses to be a pawn and devises a plan.
While her father, Jahandar, continues to play with magical forces he doesn't yet understand, Shahrzad tries to uncover powers that may lie dormant within her. With the help of a tattered old carpet and a tempestuous but sage young man, Shahrzad will attempt to break the curse and reunite with her one true love.
Reading this book was an absolute joy, and a wonderful finale to Shazi and Khalid's story. It's been a long time since I breathed such a satisfied sigh at the end of a series. Although... I don't feel like we are nearly done with this world. There are so many aspects and stories left to explore that I am filled with hope that Ahdieh will expand on this world and give me more!

The Wrath & The Dawn ended on a somewhat dire note for our heroine, so I was a bit worried for Shazi, but it seems like I forgot who I was dealing with here. Shazi is as strong and stubborn as ever, and a mere curse is not going to be what stops her from helping her loved ones! 

Now Khalid... if you had told me last week that I would fall head over heels in love with a murdering king, I would have laughed in your face. Joke's on me, because I fell, and fell hard. This guy is so precious and needs to be protected and loved openly and freely to heal his broken soul! Luckily, Shazi is very open to doing exactly that.

Together, these two are #relationshipgoals. Seriously, they just... understand each other. There is no unnecessary trust issues or misunderstandings between them. They don't rely on words to send their message across. And they would never, ever do anything to hurt the other... even emotionally. And if that means forgiving your wife's ex... so be it.

Speaking of said ex... I finally love the guy! Tariq had to work in order to win me over, but I'm happy with the outcome. A guy I didn't have to work hard to love? Tariq's bestie, Rahim! He's a total book-boyfriend, and an instant fave with his laid back and funny commentary, combined with his unwavering loyalty. The way he was with Irsa? Total perfection!

On the point of Irsa, what a pleasant surprise she was! As different from her older sister as the sea is to the dessert, yet just as fierce and formidable in her own way. She both delighted me and broke my heart, and I cannot express how happy I am that this series dishes out so many incredible female characters.

The one thing I was really kind of bummed about with this novel is Jalal and Despina. I left The Wrath & the Dawn looking forward to seeing more of these two, especially in regards to their relationship, because I shipped it way before I knew she was pregnant with his baby. And then you go and give me a book with nearly no Despina or Jalal (who is a favorite on par with Rahim)??

And to add insult to injury, you put Jalal and Khalid at odds because of it? Bringing my two favorite cousins to blows?? STOP MESSING WITH MY BROTP, WORLD!

I highly, highly recommend this novel to anyone who loves beautiful storytelling and stories.