Mini-Reviews: Second Chances and Split Personalities

mini-reviews-romance

One was a disappointment, and the other was pretty good. The common factor? They were all romantic reads! (And rather cheap via Amazon Kindle).


Fire in You
Author: Jennifer L Armentrout
Series: Wait for You #6
Release Date: November 28, 2016
Publisher: Self-published
Get it Here: Only $3.99 on Amazon Kindle!

TL;DR: The hero’s a fool and didn’t redeem himself in any way; heroine had great character development though.

Synopsis:

From the # 1 New York Times and International bestselling author, Jennifer L. Armentrout writing as J.Lynn, comes a richly moving story about heartbreak and guilt, second chances and hope. Full of familiar, fan-favorite characters and no two people more deserving of a happy ending, Fire In You will burn bright beyond the last page…

Jillian Lima’s whole world was destroyed in a span of a few hours. The same night her childhood love, Brock ‘the Beast’ Mitchell, broke her heart, her life was irrevocably altered by the hand of a stranger with a gun. It takes six years to slowly glue together the shattered pieces of her life, but Jillian is finally ready to stop existing in a past full of pain and regret. She takes a job at her father’s martial arts Academy and she’s going out on her first date since a failed relationship that was more yuck than yum. Jillian is determined to start living.

She just never expected Brock to be a part of her life again. But he’s firmly back in her life before she knows it, and not only is he older, he’s impossibly more handsome, more teasing and more everything. And when he sees Jillian, he’s no longer capable of thinking of her as the little girl who was his shadow growing up or the daughter of the man who gave him a second chance at life. He sees the woman who’d always been there for him, the one person who believed in him no matter what.

Brock knows she’s the one he should’ve made his, and what begins as a tentative friendship quickly turns to red-hot chemistry that sparks a flame that burns brighter than lust. Falling for Brock again risks more than her heart, because when the past sorrow-filled and guilt-ridden past resurfaces, and a web of lies threatens to rip them apart, the fallout could lay waste to everything they’ve fought to build together, and destroy the dreams of those they care most about.

One-Way-Or-An-Author-Review

2.5 -> 2 stars

I’ve been avoiding this series a bit, just because the first book was extremely boring and predictable. There’s something about Jennifer L Armentrout’s writing that I enjoy reading mindlessly, but we don’t click enough for me to love them. It’s probably the fact that be it New Adult or Young Adult, nothing I get out of her writing is new. Anyways, while Fire in You had the best character development I’ve seen so far, I was kind of disappointed by the romance. I think the main thing was the hero, Brock, who came off as distant even through the dialogue. What he did was pretty unforgivable, and none of his actions particularly redeemed him in any way. I love second chance stories, which this one was supposed to be (which is why I picked it up) but man, after all of Jillian’s inner growth, I still think she settled for less.

Basically what happens is that Jillian has always love Brock since childhood, but he tried not to love her like that since they were supposed to have a sibling relationship (which is a flimsy excuse but okay). At one point he even talks about how she was his mentor’s daughter, and how that would be wrong… But when they do get together, her whole family is supportive? I don’t see why that is a valid excuse. Not only that, he comes out as totally heartless in some areas, especially dealing with his ex-fiance. Every time he does one of those teasing grins or amused chuckles by how much the heroine has changed, I wanted to punch him. Yeah, no thanks to you. A lot of what he did for the heroine had no reason other than guilt pretty much… And while he did pursue her, I thought it definitely did not make up for how he ignored her in the past. And his reasoning for why that happened? Something along the lines of “I don’t know…” NO okay that is not how you redeem a hero. If you’re going to try to get this guy to understand all the pain the heroine has gone through, do it through more meaningful actions and dialogue rather than sex scenes. I couldn’t even enjoy them (smh) because Brock disappointed me so much. It was rather nice, however, to see Jillian’s growth from an introvert to someone with hidden fire in her to stand up for herself. My only regret is that she couldn’t have done more on that front with Brock.

“Because from the moment I decided to take the job at the Lima Academy, I’d been changing. Even before that. The process had been slow and painful at times, but the realization that I wanted to live differently, wanted to take more risks and experience life, had started before Brock reappeared. His presence had aided in the process, but it hadn’t been him.
It had been me.”

I’m sure J. Lynn/Armentrout’s fans will love this one. But her books honestly offer me mindless reads for an hour or two of escape from reality. Unfortunately, this one had me completely unsatisfied with that ridiculous denouement/resolution. No, you don’t throw in the L-word and make it all better. I felt as if Brock never redeemed himself and despite all of Jillian’s growth, she shouldn’t have settled for less. goDDAMN IT FREAKING BROCK DOESN’T DESERVE HER. Ugh. These stars are for character growth. Shake my head at the romance.

One-Way-Or-An-Author-2star

Split
Author: JB Salisbury
Release Date: November 28, 2016
Publisher: Self-published
Get it Here: Only $3.99 on Amazon Kindle!

TL;DR: A+ points for diverse factors, and overall a very sweet and spicy love story.

Synopsis:

JB Salsbury is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who has captivated readers around the world. Her unforgettable new novel is a story of romance and suspense, with a twist no one will see coming . . .

What do you do when you wake up with no memory of what you did last night?

Lucas spent the first half of his life protecting himself from others, but now his own mind is his biggest enemy. He doesn’t know what happens when the blackouts overtake him, but he can recall the feelings–the rage, the confusion, the fear. Thankfully the quiet life he’s found in Payson, Arizona has kept the darkness at bay. Until his boss’s estranged daughter shows up in town, asking questions she shouldn’t and sparking a desire Lucas can’t control. Getting close to Shyann is the best thing that’s ever happened to him, but when his blackouts return, unleashing the truth he’s battled so long to hide, he may just lose her forever . . .

One-Way-Or-An-Author-Review

3.5 -> 3 stars

This book came to be a surprise for me, and a delightful one at that. It wasn’t perfect by all means, but I really like the way the author tied everything together and the exploration of dissociative identity disorder, which the hero has in the story – but only within the bounds of the relationship. I thought that there were other things she could have touched upon to give a more accurate portrayal of this disorder, but all in all the romance was particularly sweet as we see Shyann fall in love with both personalities of Lucas.

Basically what happens is that Shyann is pretty estranged with her father but goes to work under him after her career as a reporter falls through. So she’s back in her country town after spending some years as a city girl, and she’s bound to see some growth and change as she mends her relationship with her father. She meets this guy named Lucas who is working for her father as well and develops an interest in his soft-spoken and passive ways. He’s quiet, almost innocent, and just when she wants to take their relationship a step farther… he totally changes on her. Then we get to meet Gage, his split personality, who comes out as a way to shield the softer side of Lucas. He’s rough, aggressive, and basically the total opposite, personality-wise, of Lucas. We find out that Lucas/Gage has had a traumatic past, which may catch up to him during his time in this small town of Arizona. All the while, Shyann is trying to get both Lucas and Gage to trust her and tries to build a relationship off of that. I do like her tenacity and the attraction between her and both personalities is very easy to see. I’m not too much of a fan of Gage because he does some pretty crappy things to Shyann while trying to push her away (and hide his feelings), but I do like the addition of his personality. I felt as if dealing with his disorder was a bit unrealistic, though. I get that the power of love will go through some things, and the epilogue is especially satisfying. But I’m a bit disappointed we didn’t get to see Lucas going into therapy or at least seeking it as a way to help cope or start treatments. I mean, yes, having a strong girlfriend will help out mentally but I also believe that therapy may help in other ways, in regards to coping for both him and the couple as a whole. It’s a very rose-tinted view of the disorder and felt more like romanticizing it – and Lucas – as a “damaged hero” than fully exploring the facets of the disorder. Even so, I do think the author did a pretty good job in wrapping it off within the bounds of Shyann and Lucas’s romantic relationship.

“‘I know things won’t always be easy, but I don’t want to change you. I love the way you are, everything about the way you are and you’re who I want.You’ve never given yourself the freedom to just be. You don’t have to hide who you are anymore, Lucas. Ever again. Especially not from me.’”

Both sweet at times, and spicy with steamy scenes, Split immediately grabs your attention with the blurb and you can’t help but stay and read through it all. It’s not perfect by any means, but the heroine’s spunk and the obstacles that get torn down in the couple’s relationship was very satisfying to read about. There’s a great, in-depth exploration of both characters that just made their romance even sweeter to read.

One-Way-Or-An-Author-2star

Book Review: Downed by Jen Frederick (Gridiron #3)

Downed
Author: Jen Frederick
Series: Gridiron #3
Release Date: December 1, 2016
Publisher: Self-Published
Get it Here: Only $3.99 on Amazon Kindle!

Synopsis:

He’s the guy no one likes…

Despite winning two national championships, JR “Ace” Anderson was sent packing from his old school after losing the trust of his coach. At Southern U, he has a second chance to prove that his college legacy isn’t endless debauchery and selfishness. But his reputation precedes him, and his teammates offer a chilly welcome in the locker room. The one person who is willing to accept him is the very woman he should stay away from—his new coach’s daughter.

She’s the girl everyone loves…

Bryant Johnson’s only goal in life is to make others happy, even at her own expense. One look at her father’s new star quarterback, and she knows that Ace is her next project. With a reputation for being a “jerk whisperer”, Bryant has spent her last three years at college reforming sorry behavior and turning bad boys into the best boyfriends ever. In Ace, though, she’s met with surly resistance and a sizzling attraction she doesn’t expect. Fixing this wounded warrior will be her biggest challenge yet. Not falling for him will be even harder.

Between her big heart and his damaged one, a battle is ensuing. In this game of love, every defense will crumble.

One-Way-Or-An-Author-Review

I’ve been following this series since the first book Sacked and have thoroughly enjoyed all the books, even though I’m not the biggest football fan. The teamwork and camaraderie between players is a great add-on to the central romance that happens between the characters in these books. Downed is my favorite of the series so far! There’s something about a story of redemption or reformation that just makes me sigh in happiness. I love the exploration of Ace’s past and how Bryant dealt with her grief for her sister. I think that their characters were much more easy to empathize with than the previous couples, which made their relationship very sweet and easy to read and enjoy.

We begin the book with a sex scene – gasp! But this isn’t really a steamy one, nor is it some random chick/dude. It’s between the main couple! While Ace is trying to have a sexual escape, Bryant’s thinking of how he’s her next project to reform. It’s actually pretty hilarious. They don’t exactly finish the deed but it definitely sets the stage for what comes next. Bryant somehow pulls Ace into a relationship so she can change him from being an asshole to an angel (or something like that). Hilarity ensues.

Ace was transferred from his previous school and has a bunch of problems on his plate. One would be the relationship with his d-bag father, the lack of teamwork with him and the other boys on the team, and the way he treated his best friend Lucy (who was the main character in the first book Sacked). He was a total ass in front of her and took her for granted, which made his a pretty unsavory character in the previous books. But Frederick does a wonderful job in redeeming him and changing the way he viewed his life, especially pertaining to girls. It was so nice the obvious progression from the ostracized one on the team to being a part of their family.

“What I didn’t realize was how much more I’d gain from transferring here. It wasn’t just another championship. It wasn’t the revenge component of defeating the team that had rejected me. It’s that I found a new family – a team that really embraced me, in large part, because I embraced them.”

Ever since the death of Bryant’s older sister due to a man fooling around with her feelings, Bryant’s been taking up “projects” to try to help fix other guys so they don’t break another girl’s heart, like what happened with her sister. But behind all that she does and all the people she helps, she doesn’t let other people help her. That’s caused an emotional barrier to form for her, which is why she finds herself at odds when she starts falling in love with her “project.” She sees Ace’s insecurities and empathizes with him. They build each other up, and her support for Ace also helps him start letting go of his doubts.

“‘Futures are unknowable and uncertainty can be scary as hell. It’s why we’re better together.’”

Ugh this story was just so sweet, as well as the previous books in this series. It was one of my first NA books and I’m so glad I picked it up. Jen Frederick writes such quirky characters and adorable romances; they always leave me smiling and with a full heart. And not to mention those SPICY scenes – yum! Trust me, they’re not all like the unsatisfying scene that the book starts out with (lol). Readers looking for an extremely comfy romance with friendship and family added in definitely need to pick up this series. If you’re a fan of football, that’s also a super plus!

One-Way-Or-An-Author-4star

Hiatus: Quick Update and Apologies

Sorry guys for not being active recently. I’ve been reading comments and loving them, but I got back from a Model UN conference recently and have been busy since last weekend.

More importantly, *sighs*, I got into an accident and suffice it to say, it feels like my life became one of those serious Young Adult contemporaries where characters learn a tremendous lesson. It’s been a rough weekend and it will be a rough week and my mind is definitely not on books or blogging. In fact, I picked up a book yesterday to pass the time (as some of this situation is out of my hands now) and felt sick to my stomach. I’m leaving for an impromptu hiatus, but I’ll be missing your voices. I won’t be opening Twitter as well for a while so apologies for not replying.

Hope you guys have a good week. I don’t know how long this will last, but hopefully I’ll be back soon.

Thanks.

One-Way-Or-An-Author-Signature

ARC Review: Sad Perfect by Stephanie Elliot

I read about 50 pages into this book and stumbled upon a disturbing review about it, as well as the possible effects it would have on potential readers. With that, I’m not wasting anymore time on this harmful, damaging book.

I originally requested this because it seemed like a hopeful story of a mental illness that is newly discovered, offering insight on eating disorders and how to get treatment. From my reading experience, the narrator – using a second person POV – is talking about girl-on-girl hate and insta-love, fantasizing about a boy’s veins and how romantic he is after meeting him once. After reading a review from a reader with an eating disorder, my thoughts were solidified. This book is hurtful and unhealthy, especially towards a potential teen reader who has an eating disorder. Given the fact that the 4 and 5 stars are from readers who haven’t experienced what Pea, the main character, has, I urge you to pay attention to the readers who have experienced an eating disorder and depression, including the malignant representation it has in this book. Continue reading

Be On The Lookout! | Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde

be-on-the-lookout

Be On the Lookout! is a feature highlighting special books that I’m trying to convince people to preorder, add to their TBR, or just be on the lookout for. It’s mainly a way for me to fangirl about the merits of a book outside a review, and hopefully make more readers aware of books that are not to be missed!

If you like comic conventions, TV shows, video games, anime and manga, or any other fandom-related subjects, then don’t miss out on this one. Queens of Geek hits bookstores on March 14, 2017 under SwoonReads, and it’s a delightful combination of charming and inspiring. There were so many moments where my heart was thoroughly tugged – be it with empathy or happiness.

One of my favorite parts of this book is that it takes place in a convention setting, with extremely relatable characters. Even though it’s in the span of only a couple of days, the characters all have history that are discussed, which make their relationship progression quite believable. I think the thing that resonates the most with me for this book is just how down-to-earth Charlie and Taylor’s narratives are. Every time Taylor posted something on Tumblr, I could see myself posting a reflection or rant or comment to the interwebs through Tumblr as well. Seeing the characters fangirl/boy over beloved shows was amazing to see, as well as the course of emotions that the characters go through in the story – from hurt to excitement to hope, every one of them left a mark in my own emotions. Continue reading

ARC Review: The Valiant by Lesley Livingston

The Valiant
Author: Lesley Livingston
Release Date: February 14, 2017
Publisher: Razorbill
Get it Here: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

Synopsis:
The youngest daughter of a proud Celtic king, Fallon has always lived in the shadow of her older sister Sorcha’s legendary reputation as a warrior. But when Fallon was a young child, the armies of Julius Caesar invaded the island of Britain and her beloved older sister was killed in battle.On the eve of her seventeenth birthday, Fallon is excited to follow in her sister’s footsteps and earn her rightful place in her father’s royal war band. But she never gets the chance. Instead, Fallon is captured by a band of ruthless brigands who sell her to an exclusive training school for female gladiators—and its most influential patron is none other than Julius Caesar himself. In a cruel twist of fate, Fallon’s worst enemy, the man who destroyed her family, might be her only hope of survival.Now, Fallon must overcome vicious rivalries, chilling threats and the dangerous attention of Caesar himself to survive the deadly fights that take place both in and out of the arena—and claim her place in history among the Valiant.

One-Way-Or-An-Author-Review

Thank you Penguin for the review copy!

This book was like a gladiator’s war cry: brash, bold, and brilliant. Within less than 300 pages, readers go on a tantalizing adventure in Roman history full of sisterhood, action, betrayal, and romance. Fallon’s irresistible character made The Valiant extremely hard to put down. Although her progression from prejudiced princess to dangerous gladiator is the focal point of the book, the friendships and lessons she learned on the journey is something not to be missed.

“‘Are you a weapon or target?’ Sorcha had asked. ‘Choose, Fallon!’”

Continue reading

Fanart Friday #6: A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi Character Art + Phone Wallpapers

acow-fanart-friday

Fanart Friday is a feature to showcase art for books I’ve highly enjoyed recently. Usually they’re for fave characters that I can’t help but want to bring to life through my art!

I’m finally done and ready to share my character art for this gorgeous book! Stay tuned on the blog for my review of A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi, which comes out March 28, 2017 from St. Martin’s Griffin. Suffice it to say, I absolutely adored it – possibly even more than The Star-Touched Queen, which is a companion book to this one. We may or may not get some familiar characters, but throughout it all Chokshi maintains her lush writing and vibrant characters.

A Crown of Wishes (The Star-Touched Queen, #2)A Crown of Wishes
Author: Roshani Chokshi
+Add to Goodreads

Gauri, the princess of Bharata, has been taken as a prisoner of war by her kingdom’s enemies. Faced with a future of exile and scorn, Gauri has nothing left to lose. Hope unexpectedly comes in the form of Vikram, the cunning prince of a neighboring land and her sworn enemy kingdom. Unsatisfied with becoming a mere puppet king, Vikram offers Gauri a chance to win back her kingdom in exchange for her battle prowess. Together, they’ll have to set aside their differences and team up to win the Tournament of Wishes—a competition held in a mythical city where the Lord of Wealth promises a wish to the victor.

Reaching the tournament is just the beginning. Once they arrive, danger takes on new shapes: poisonous courtesans and mischievous story birds, a feast of fears and twisted fairy revels.

Every which way they turn new trials will test their wit and strength. But what Gauri and Vikram will soon discover is that there’s nothing more dangerous than what they most desire.

Continue reading

What Happens When You Make Me The Enemy? | Discussion

discussionn-graphic

I guess this isn’t directed towards any book in particular, but the trend of books from loooong ago up to now, in the present day.

I’ve always been a proponent of diverse casts, whether it’s from sexuality to ethnicity in books, but what happens when authors make diverse characters the enemy? Or what about this: POC as the enemy for the white-casted main characters that the book follows? I’ve seen this in highly controversial books in the last year, but I hadn’t truly experienced it until recently. What I want to point out in this post isn’t just how bad or negative it is (those are just adjectives that barely cover the surface of things), but the emotion behind it. How would you feel if your culture was made the enemy of all-things-white? How would you feel if your already marginalized voice was made the enemy of the predominant race in a society that is still subject to racism, despite half a century since attaining equal rights? Continue reading

ARC Review: Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller

Daughter of the Pirate King
Author: Tricia Levenseller
Series: First book
Release Date: February 28, 2016
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Get it Here: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

Synopsis:

A 17-year-old pirate captain intentionally allows herself to get captured by enemy pirates in this thrilling YA adventure.

If you want something done right . . .

When the ruthless pirate king learns of a legendary treasure map hidden on an enemy ship, his daughter, Alosa, knows there’s only one pirate for the job—herself. Leaving behind her beloved ship and crew, Alosa deliberately facilitates her own kidnapping to ensure her passage on the ship, confident in her ability to overcome any obstacle. After all, who’s going to suspect a seventeen-year-old girl locked in a cell? Then she meets the (surprisingly perceptive and unfairly attractive) first mate, Riden, who is charged with finding out all her secrets. Now it’s down to a battle of wits and will . . . . Can Alosa find the map and escape before Riden figures out her plan?

Debut author Tricia Levenseller blends action, adventure, romance, and a little bit of magic into a thrilling YA pirate tale.

One-Way-Or-An-Author-Review

Are you ready to go on an adventure with the daughter of the pirate king? She may be a looker, but she’s also highly skilled in combat and manipulation. She can be crass yet has class. She’s ready to do whatever she needs to do to get what she wants. And best of all, we’re reading from her first person narration in this quick and spicy read. Daughter of the Pirate King is extremely fun, has cool twists, and a scorching romance featuring pirates that have no mercy. I absolutely adored reading from Alosa’s point of view. She was a super refreshing character who has an armor of steel and yet is vulnerable in some places. It only takes a cunning pirate to poke at those spots.

Continue reading