Wednesday, October 30, 2013

ARC Review: Down on Love by Jayne Denker

The blurb as seen on Goodreads:
Release Date: November 21, 2013
Publisher: Kensington
274 Pages

When it comes to love, she's a professional skeptic. Is it too late for a career change?

If there's one thing Georgiana Down is an expert in, it's bad relationships. That's what inspired her blog, Down on Love, where she gives snarky advice--usually along the lines of "dump him." In fact, George is abstaining from men all together. At least that's the plan--until she makes a trip back to her tiny hometown in the Catskills, where meddling is an art form. . .

George loves helping out with her new baby niece, but she's counting the days until she returns to Boston. Then she runs into Casey Bowen, her high school crush. The boy she once loved is now a handsome grown man--and suddenly George needs a little advice of her own. She's in the right place, because when she drunk posts on her blog, everyone in Marsden has something to say about George and Casey. It's like high school all over again--but maybe this time she'll get things right.

What happens when a lover is scored? She turns to the internet to blog about it, of course. And that's exactly what Georgiana Down did. Her blog, Down on Love, started as an outlet for venting about her loser of an ex, but has turned into an advice blog of sorts. When Georgiana (George to her friends) gets called back to her hometown to help out her sister's family, she runs into Casey Bowen, her high school crush and old feelings resurface.

The love story between George and Casey was at times adorable. They had witty banter and played off of each other nicely. I liked them together - but separately was another story.

I adored Casey. He was smart, funny, charming, and admitted when he made mistakes. He admitted to George that he screwed up in the past, but he wants a chance to make up for it - to make it up to her. I also liked how much he loved his hometown. He went to college after high school, took a job in London, but ultimately realized his love was restoring his family farm into a tourist stop.

On the other hand, I did not really like George. I get that she had been hurt in the past, and yes, that does affect how you view future relationships, but George let it control her every move and though. Years ago, Casey kissed George at a high school party then he immediately freaked and left. George continues to hold this against him even though he's apologized and told her the reason why he left. Casey is constantly putting himself out there to prove his feelings for her, and all George does is whine and complain and tell him to go date his ex-girlfriend (to which she gets upset when she thinks he does). Ultimately I wanted Casey to not end up with her because she was so immature.

Then there was George's sister, Sera. While I loved her wife, Jax, Sera was another story. What exactly was her point here? Oh yes, to be that annoyingly rude sister. Obviously, because it wasn't like she was actually a mom to her daughter. The minute George arrived back home, Sera just handed off her baby. Feedings, diaper changes, naps, middle of the night wake up calls, everything George did. Then Sera had the nerve to get mad when her daughter reached for her aunt instead of her mother. Umm, maybe because you weren't acting like one?

The author did a great job of showing off the perks of living in a small town, however, it soon turned into Gilmore Girls x1000 with everyone assuming your business is theirs and they have a say in who you marry. There were times I enjoyed the town and times I wanted to pull my hair out and shout "MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS!".

 Also, was there a reason that the female protagonist had a masculine name while the male protagonist had a feminine name? This did nothing for me expect to make me cringe every time I read George. Because while Casey is a fine name for either boy or girl, the name George is not very flattering on a female and it definitely took me out of the book a few times.

Overall, I enjoyed the writing and Denker has a way with male/female banter that had me laughing out loud at many scenes. But I feel like in a romance novel, I should root for the couple to be together, and I just didn't feel it here.
I received an e-copy of this novel from the publisher for my honest opinion and review via Netgalley.

ARC Review: Roman Holiday 1: Chained by Ruthie Knox

The blurb as seen on Goodreads:
Release Date: November 11, 2013
Publisher: Loveswept
40 Pages

Meet Ashley and Roman—complete opposites who can’t hide their attraction—in Episode 1 of Ruthie Knox’s eBook original serial, Roman Holiday.

Ashley Bowman is having a bad week. Reeling from the death of her beloved grandmother, she returns to the Florida Keys only to learn that a heartless Miami developer has gotten hold of the crappy vacation rentals she calls home. Ashley has one day to clear out before Roman Díaz destroys the only place in the world that matters to her. Chaining herself to a palm tree in the bulldozers’ path seems like a good way to stop him . . . until she realizes she should’ve brought food and water. And pants. Also, it would help if the evil developer weren’t so ridiculously hot.

The last thing Roman Díaz needs is some sun-kissed blond protester getting her picture in the newspaper and messing up his plans. He bought the property fair and square, and the resort he wants to build on the site is the key to realizing his highest ambitions. But when a hurricane blows through, Roman has to hustle Ashley to safety if he wants to protect his reputation—and that means giving in to her unreasonable demands.

Roman needs to learn a little compassion, and Ashley’s decided to teach it to him . . . even if she has to drag him all over the Eastern Seaboard to do it.

I honestly would read anything that Ruthie Knox writes. She always brings to life stories that are sexy, have great humor and even more heart. What else could you ask for in a romance novel? I wasn't sure what to expect from Roman Holiday 1: Chained as I've never read a serialized novel before, but I was pleasantly surprised. This will draw readers in and leave them excited, and intrigued enough to look forward to the next installment.

After Ashley Bowman learns that her grandmother died and sold the one place she felt happiest, she makes her way to the Florida Keys to stop the demolition herself. When her efforts to work with the developer go unanswered, Ashley does what any desperate woman would do and chains herself to a palm tree to keep the house from being demolished. Too bad she didn't bring food or water, or put on some pants over her bikini. On the other side of this is Roman Díaz, a up-and-coming developer. The last thing he needs is Ashley getting in the way of this demolition that will make or break his career, and soon-to-be marriage. The events that follow as these two butt heads will be the adventure of a life time, for the characters and the reader.

This was a super fast read. It took me less than an hour to finish it--of course, it was only part of the story. Still, like the other Knox books that I've read, I was immediately sucked into Roman Holiday 1: Chained. The plot moves at a steady pace, and the author gives the reader plenty of time to get to know the character without rushing through to get to the plot. That's something I really appreciate. This is a great setup for the rest of the story, and does well at intriguing enough to make the audience want to know what happens next.

These characters, again like all of Knox's characters, are fantastic. Ashley is hilariously crude and sassy. I loved meeting her. I can't wait to learn more about her, and her past as the journey continues. Her spitfire attitude reminded me a lot of myself. Though she doesn't make the wisest choices, she has good intentions. Roman is also very interesting. Though we don't know as much about him as we do Ashley, I already adore him. He has this heavy armor put up, and I look forward to watching Ashley rip it off.

I highly recommend this for contemporary romance fans, who don't mind that this adventure comes in pieces. We've only been given a taste, and already it is obvious that this is going to be a sizzling story. Ruthie Knox definitely knows what she's doing! I'm already chomping at the bit for more. 
I received an e-copy of this novel from the publisher for my honest opinion and review via Netgalley.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

ARC Review: The Outside (The Hallowed Ones #2) by Laura Bickle

The blurb as seen on Goodreads:
Release Date: September 3, 2013
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
320 Pages

One girl. One road. One chance to save what remains…

After a plague of vampires is unleashed in the world, Katie is kicked out of her Amish community for her refusal to adhere to the new rules of survival. Now in exile, she enters an outside world of unspeakable violence with only her two “English” friends and a horse by her side. Together they seek answers and other survivors—but each sunset brings the threat of vampire attack, and each sunrise the threat of starvation.

And yet through this darkness come the shining ones: luminescent men and women with the power to deflect vampires and survive the night. But can these new people be trusted, and are they even people at all?

In this edge-of-your-seat thriller, it’s up to one Amish girl to save her family, her community, and the boy she loves . . . but what will she be asked to leave behind in return?

While The Outside didn't quite live up to its prequel, The Hallowed Ones, it isn't a stretch to say that Laura Bickle is one amazing storyteller. That's also not to say that I didn't enjoy The Outside. It's a fantastic novel, for sure. The author has taken a leap and given a classic story a phenomenal twist. I never expected to like this series as much as I have. This book, this series really, is a horror fan's dream with its suspense, action and originality.

Katie is no longer protected by the safety of her Amish home. She's been banned for trying to help an outsider as the world around their tiny community was crumbling after a vampire plague. Now she's fighting the darkness of the outside with only her dear Alex, their friend, Ginger and her trusted horse. When all seems to be lost, they come across a miracle that might just save them all--if they can get people to believe in the unknown.

These character. Golly gee. I just love them. I adore their strength and loyalty and how hard they love. I also like that Katie is honest with herself. She admits that she would've followed the path of her people had the apocalypse not occurred. She doesn't delusion herself with false truths. And Alex? I swoon so hard for the smart guys. He is so good for Katie, even if they have their struggles. I even liked the minor characters.

This book is just so dang good. The plot isn't fast-paced, but it isn't so slow that you can't enjoy the story. There is so much packed into three-hundred pages, but it fits together wonderfully. Nothing felt like too much or too little. Readers will feel so much over the expanse of The Outside. Bickle makes us fear the unknown, teaches us to cherish those we care about and love them even when they are gone. I found this novel to be surprisingly emotional, and I loved every minute of it.

I love the way this novel ended. Not everything is perfect, but the characters have moved forward and are finding a way to live. I'm so impressed by this series, and I'm sad that there won't be more, but Laura Bickle has definitely become an author to watch for me. I can't wait to see what she comes up with next!
I received an e-copy of this novel from the publisher for my honest opinion and review via Netgalley.

Friday, October 25, 2013

ARC Review: Finding It (Losing It #3) by Cora Carmack

The blurb as seen on Goodreads:
Release Date: October 15, 2013
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
304 Pages

Sometimes you have to lose yourself to find where you truly belong...

Most girls would kill to spend months traveling around Europe after college graduation with no responsibility, no parents, and no-limit credit cards. Kelsey Summers is no exception. She's having the time of her life . . . or that's what she keeps telling herself.

It's a lonely business trying to find out who you are, especially when you're afraid you won't like what you discover. No amount of drinking or dancing can chase away Kelsey's loneliness, but maybe Jackson Hunt can. After a few chance meetings, he convinces her to take a journey of adventure instead of alcohol. With each new city and experience, Kelsey's mind becomes a little clearer and her heart a little less hers. Jackson helps her unravel her own dreams and desires. But the more she learns about herself, the more Kelsey realizes how little she knows about Jackson.

Man, I am so bummed. After reading and enjoying Cora Carmack's first two novels in the Losing It series, I was expecting to adore the characters and plot of Finding It. I hate to say that for me, book three did not live up to the first two books and their characters. While I loved the awkward Bliss, and the adorable (and surprisingly sexy) Cade, I was unable to form any attachment to Kelsey.

Kelsey is traveling across Europe, living in drinks, pleasure and sexy men. Spending her daddy's money comes easily, but nothing can erase her childhood traumas and the loneliness she feels. When she meets the sexy, albeit mysterious "Hunt," she begins to realize that she was looking for adventure in all the wrong places and that sometimes you need to just stop and smell the roses. But the secret he's keeping may just bring her newfound happiness crumbling down.

Firstly, I could not connect with the main character, Kelsey. Her backstory is extremely sad, but I think a lot more could've been done with it to make for a fuller story and the ending--where nothing was truly resolved for her--really ticked me off. I wanted to see a hash out between Kelsey and her parents, but instead was extremely disappointed by the direction the author took. That's not to say that the direction the author took is unrealistic, it is, but it left me unsettled. Kelsey, as a character, never had my full attention either. She frustrated me constantly with her immaturity. She's selfish, and bratty. I could not get on board with this protagonist, besides in a few scenes where she really stuck it to Hunt. 

Secondly, it took forever to figure out these characters and most of their actions still have me scratching my head. The end of the book came before any kind of connection was formed, so I spent almost the entire novel with no interest in what happened to them. It took most of the story to learn anything about their backgrounds, and what we do learn felt very… forced. I had trouble lending my emotions to these characters, and that made Finding It very difficult to read.

Thirdly, I did not find Hunt swoony, rather the opposite. He annoyed me to my wits end because the author tried to make him so perfectly flawed. Something about him just nigged at me. There were several times when I wanted to smack this almost "holier-than-thou" attitude out of him. I did not understand why Kelsey was immediately so attracted to him. Plus his "secret" was obvious from the get go--and that did not help the book at all.

I liked the idea of this story, but I think the execution and characterizations were off. It didn't sit well for me, and I'm extremely disappointed because I loved the author's previous works. Will I read more of Carmack's work? Most likely. I think she writes a very entertaining story. Finding It just wasn't for me.
I received an e-copy of this novel from the publisher for my honest opinion and review via Edelweiss.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

ARC Review: The Iron Traitor (The Iron Fey: Call of the Forgotten #2) by Julie Kagawa

The blurb as seen on Goodreads:
Release Date: October 29, 2013
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
304 Pages

In the real world, when you vanish into thin air for a week, people tend to notice.

After his unexpected journey into the lands of the fey, Ethan Chase just wants to get back to normal. Well, as "normal" as you can be when you see faeries every day of your life. Suddenly the former loner with the bad reputation has someone to try for-his girlfriend, Kenzie. Never mind that he's forbidden to see her again.

But when your name is Ethan Chase and your sister is one of the most powerful faeries in the Nevernever, "normal" simply isn't to be. For Ethan's nephew, Keirran, is missing, and may be on the verge of doing something unthinkable in the name of saving his own love. Something that will fracture the human and faery worlds forever, and give rise to the dangerous fey known as the Forgotten. As Ethan's and Keirran's fates entwine and Keirran slips further into darkness, Ethan's next choice may decide the fate of them all.

Poor Ethan Chase. All he wanted was to be rid of the Sight and the Fey world, but once again, he finds himself sucked back into the Nevernever, surrounded by those that he hates all in the name of family. At the end of the Lost Prince, we learned about the Forgotten – the fey who time has forgotten and have since started to fade from existence. However, instead of fading, this group of Forgotten have taken to draining Fey of their glamour in order to survive. Ethan and his half-fey/half-human cousin, Keirran, put a stop to this, but at what cost?

In the Iron Traitor, Keirran, is missing. Ethan journeys back into fairyland with Kenzie to look for his cousin. Along the way, he gets help from our good ole friend, Grimalkin (who I absolutely love). Turns out Keirran is on a mission – a mission to save the Summer Fey that he is in love with. Ethan and Kenzie join Keirran on his quest and this is where everything goes wrong.

For those of you who have read Iron Prophecy understand why Keirran and Ethan should have never met in the first place. It is in this book that we finally realize why. 

I just adore Kagawa’s writing. This world is so full of life, so unbelievably real that you cannot help but feel the emotions along with Ethan as he struggles with himself and with his family. Kagawa has creted characters that jump off the page at you and refuse to be ignored, and I am glad that we’re still seeing the old favorites from the Iron Fey series. Puck and Ash have one of my favorite bromances of all time and I just squeal with delight when they make appearances in this series. And I have a newfound love for Razor – that damned little gremlin has weaseled his way into my heart.

But I’m not going to lie, I think my heart belongs with Keirran. I know there is something so broken and wrong with him (especially after that ending!!), but I can’t help it. There is something about him that draws me in. But that boy is pure trouble. His mind is so far twisted that I do not know how he can come back from the ending.

And speaking of ending… umm, excuse me, Julie, but what was that?? How can you just leave it there?? Nothing about that is okay. And I don’t wait very well…

I received an e-copy of this novel for my honest opinion and review from the publisher via Netgalley.

ARC Review: Keeping Her (Losing It #1.5) by Cora Carmack

The blurb as seen on Goodreads:
Release Date: August 13, 2013
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
100 Pages

Garrick Taylor and Bliss Edwards managed to find their happily-ever-after despite a rather . . . ahem . . . complicated start. By comparison, meeting the parents should be an absolute breeze, right?

But from the moment the pair lands in London, new snags just keep cropping up: a disapproving mother-in-law-to-be, more than one (mostly) minor mishap, and the realization that perhaps they aren't quite as ready for their future as they thought.

As it turns out, the only thing harder than finding love is keeping it.

Keeping Her was exactly what I needed after the end of Losing It. I'm a big fan of epilogues, and insight into the future lives of characters I know and love. That is exactly how I would describe Keeping It. It's short, sweet and reminds you why you love these two so much. 

Garrick and Bliss are getting married, but before that can happen, it's time to meet the in-laws. As if going to England and being introduced to your fiancee's parents isn't stressful enough. Add in exes, job offers, and a bunch of other mishaps and Garrick and Bliss' trip will turn into one they won't soon forget.

This is a very fast-paced story. It gets straight to the point with a romantic tale that is anything but perfect (because really, who has the perfect relationship?). Keeping Her is a quick read that will have you hooked from start-to-finish. I know that personally, I only planned on reading a chapter or two before I went to bed and ended up reading the entire story. I'm so glad that I did though because it helped me fall asleep with a smile on my face (and gave me dreams about my future hubs, Garrett Hedlund).

I love these characters--especially Garrick. It was so nice to be in their minds again. And we not only rejoin Bliss, but we get part of this story from Garrick's point-of-view as well! That was great, and I only wish we had been given more. I wasn't sure how the rest of the minor characters would work for me, but they tied in very well with the story, and I even found myself wishing we could see more of Garrick's mother.

This isn't very angsty, and it isn't extremely original, but it is a great read for anyone who is wondering what's to come for Garrick and Bliss. Keeping Her is an adorable view into the progressing relationship we were introduced to in Losing It. It's hard to say good-bye to these characters as they are ones that I can relate to (on that super awkward, college relationship level).

If you haven't read this series, I would highly recommend it. The Losing It series is one of the few New Adult romances that I've been able to read and love. Keeping Her  is a great little taste of this "world" that will hopefully last us until the third book in the series is released (Finding It aka Kelsey's story--I cannot wait!).
I received an e-copy of this novel from the publisher for my honest opinion and review via Edelweiss.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

ARC Review: The Waking Dark by Robin Wasserman

The blurb as seen on Goodreads:
Release Date: September 10, 2013
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Children
464 Pages

They called it the killing day. Twelve people dead, all in the space of a few hours. Five murderers: neighbors, relatives, friends. All of them so normal. All of them seemingly harmless. All of them now dead by their own hand . . . except one. And that one has no answers to offer the shattered town. She doesn't even know why she killed—or whether she'll do it again.

Something is waking in the sleepy town of Oleander's, Kansas—something dark and hungry that lives in the flat earth and the open sky, in the vengeful hearts of upstanding citizens. As the town begins its descent into blood and madness, five survivors of the killing day are the only ones who can stop Oleander from destroying itself. Jule, the outsider at war with the world; West, the golden boy at war with himself; Daniel, desperate for a different life; Cass, who's not sure she deserves a life at all; and Ellie, who believes in sacrifice, fate, and in evil. Ellie, who always goes too far. They have nothing in common. They have nothing left to lose. And they have no way out. Which means they have no choice but to stand and fight, to face the darkness in their town—and in themselves.

I'm not really sure why I thought I should pick this up. I had received some great feedback friends saying that Robin Wasserman was The Shiz. I can definitely see why they believe so, but reading The Waking Dark did absolutely nothing for me. The horror genre is not a favorite of mine, and I rarely pick those books up (unless they have zombies in them) because I've never really enjoyed them. Sadly, I didn't enjoy The Waking Dark either. I put down the book frustrated, annoyed and utterly dissatisfied.

Oleandar, Kansas was once a sleepy town, where everybody knew everybody and nothing really happened. Until "the killing day" when people are murdered one after another in different places across town all in a few hours. Only one of the murderers is still alive, and she says she doesn't remember and now she is locked away from the town and people she grew up with. What the people of Oleandar don't know is that this is only the beginning; something is now haunting the town--blood-thirsty and dangerous, no one is safe.

This book is filled to the brim with horror. From the very beginning, we witness death after death after death. There's no happy ending in sight and the romance is dismal (I know; what a vain thing to think about, but love me some romance). This novel is extremely graphic, and while I usually have no problem with gore, it did not sit well with me. I wanted to love this book, but it just wasn't for me.

Wasserman's prose is phenomenal though. It's dark, and creepy. She couldn't have matched the tone of the novel any better than she did. I can completely understand why people love her work. She is a brilliant storyteller, and has produced a truly haunting read in The Waking Dark. I would love to see what else she can do (if she can do it with a slightly happier ending… please?).

The plot made me squirm. The overzealous religious characters made me extremely uncomfortable. I'm not a religious person, nor do I really enjoying read about religion so I struggled a lot with that side of the story. That and the insane political aspects of the story, and the scientific elements left a sour taste in my mouth. Rather than entertain, these parts of The Waking Dark made me very uncomfortable.

We get a glimpse into many lives in this novel, and I found that while I was intrigued by all of the character, but for some reason, we didn't click. I felt horrible for (most of) them. Wasserman really puts her characters through the ringer. But I was oddly detached as the book progressed. The characters I really liked either died, or acted out in some way that ended with me disliking them. Either way, this story and it's characters did not work for me as well as they did for many of my Goodreads friends.

While I didn't connect with this novel, I would definitely give her work another shot. I'm extremely curious about The Book of Blood and Shadow, which released last year. I hope I will enjoy that one more than I enjoyed The Waking Dark. It seems to have a bit more of a focus on romance (again, vain), and if the author uses this wonderful prose in that novel as well, I believe that I will really like it.
I received an e-copy of this novel from the publisher for my honest opinion and review via Netgalley.
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