Friday, February 16, 2018

Review: Smut by Karina Halle

29381926
Stand Alone
Format: ebook
Rating: 3 Stars
How I Got It: Borrowed from the Library (Overdrive)
Genre: New Adult
Publisher: Self-Published

Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads

All Blake Crawford wants is to pass his creative writing course, get his university degree, and take over his dad’s ailing family business. What Amanda Newland wants is to graduate at the top of her class, as well as finally finish her novel and prove to her family that writing is a respectful career.

What Blake and Amanda don’t want is to be paired up with each other for their final project, but that’s exactly what they both get when they’re forced to collaborate on a writing piece. Since Amanda thinks Blake is a pushy asshole (with a panty-melting smirk and British accent) and Blake thinks Amanda has a stick up her ass (though it’s a brilliant ass), they fight tooth and nail until they discover they write well together. They also may find each other really attractive, but that’s neither here nor there.

When their writing project turns out to be a success, the two of them decide to start up a secret partnership using a pen name, infiltrating the self-publishing market in the lucrative genre of erotica. Naturally, with so much heat and passion between the pages, it’s not long before their dirty words become a dirty reality. Sure, they still fight a lot, but at least there’s make-up sex now.

But even as they start to fall hard for each other, will their burgeoning relationship survive if their scandalous secret is exposed? Or are happily-ever-afters just a work of fiction? 

Review

Perhaps I shouldn't review this. I'm just not sure I can be clear on my thoughts. 

What the heck?! That's never stopped me before.

I did enjoy this story. It kept me entertained and the characters were pretty interesting. I was glad to have two POVs. Also, Ms. Halle didn't particularly rely on the conflict of not talking to each other. These are adults-they should be able to use your words-and Blake and Amanda do.

But there was too much sex. I have no issue with sex scenes, but they have to contribute to the plot/characterization otherwise I end up skimming them.

The characters were fine, but they weren't quite as deep/developed as they could have been. Like I'm not sure I know more than a handful of basic things about them.

I did appreciate that this took place in Canada and it makes me want to go to the West Coast of Canada because I've never been.

Thanks for reading!

Holly

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Review: Remembrance by Meg Cabot

25573701
Series: Mediator Book #7
Format: Trade Paperback
Pages: 388
Rating: 4 Stars
How I Got It: Christmas Gift
Genre: Romance, Mystery
Publisher: Harper Collins

Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads

You can take the boy out of the darkness. But you can’t take the darkness out of the boy.

All Susannah Simon wants is to make a good impression at her first job since graduating from college (and since becoming engaged to Dr. Jesse de Silva). But when she’s hired as a guidance counselor at her alma mater, she stumbles across a decade-old murder, and soon ancient history isn’t all that’s coming back to haunt her. Old ghosts as well as new ones are coming out of the woodwork, some to test her, some to vex her, and it isn’t only because she’s a mediator, gifted with second sight. 

What happens when old ghosts come back to haunt you?

If you’re a mediator, you might have to kick a little ass.

From a sophomore haunted by the murderous specter of a child to ghosts of a very different kind—including Paul Slater, Suze’s ex, who shows up to make a bargain Suze is certain must have come from the Devil himself—Suze isn’t sure she’ll make it through the semester, let alone to her wedding night. Suze is used to striking first and asking questions later. But what happens when ghosts from her past—including one she found nearly impossible to resist—strike first?

Review

I enjoyed the original series and this was a good addition. It was a little more adult which felt more real for Suze-especially her language. And it was interesting to see how Jesse's values and religion impacts their relationship.

The mystery/ghost story was a real adventure. It started as a traditional one for these books, but then it got deeper. And it felt much more serious then the others.

Of course I love Suze and Jesse. It's nice to see their relationship grow. Although there could've been less Suze keeping things from Jesse as a source of conflict. She should know better than that at this point.

I could've done without Paul because he sucks, but it was a great book other than that.

Trigger Warning for child abuse. It was handled tastefully but is still there.

Thanks for reading!

Holly

Monday, February 12, 2018

Review: Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

23734628
Stand Alone 
Format: Hardcover
Pages:522
Rating: 2 Stars
How I Got It: Christmas Gift
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads

Simon Snow is the worst chosen one who’s ever been chosen.

That’s what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he’s probably right.

Half the time, Simon can’t even make his wand work, and the other half, he sets something on fire. His mentor’s avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there’s a magic-eating monster running around wearing Simon’s face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here—it’s their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon’s infuriating nemesis didn’t even bother to show up.

Carry On is a ghost story, a love story, a mystery and a melodrama. It has just as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story—but far, far more monsters.

Review

Maybe I shouldn't write this review. But I feel I need to so I can move on.

I didn't hate this book-it was just incredibly disappointing. And I've enjoyed the other Rainbow Rowell books I've read.

This was agonizingly slow. And the characters weren't particularly interesting. It probably doesn't help that this is the conclusion to a "series" so there's a lot of backstory/world building missing.

I almost DNF'd this so many times. And it would probably have been a 1 star read (which I don't think I've ever done), but the last 50 pages got excited. So, I bumped it up for that. 

Thanks for reading!

Holly

Friday, February 9, 2018

Review: The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

28473477

Stand Alone
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 291
Rating: 5 Stars
How I Got It: Purchased
Genre: Children's Fiction, Classic 
Publisher: Barnes and Noble

Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads

On the grounds of Misselthwaite, her Uncle Archibald's estate near the Yorkshire moors, nine-year-old Mary Lennox finds a walled-in garden that has been locked securely for years. With the help of Dickon Sowerby, a young local boy who can charm animals, Mary cultivates the garden, an experiences that both improves her health and raises her spirits. Ultimately, the secret garden proves beneficial not only to Mary, but to her sickly cousin Colin. Nurtured with love and tenderness, the secret garden proves it has the power to heal the heart. First published in 1911, Frances Hodgson Burnett's The Secret Garden is a much-loved classic of children's literature. This illustrated edition, with full-colour plates by Charles Robinson, features an elegant bonded-leather binding, a satin-ribbon bookmark, distinctive gilded edging, and decorative endpapers. Decorative, durable, and collectible, it's a book that will be cherished by readers of all ages.

Review

It only took 2 years to complete this re-read. That has nothing to do with the quality of this story though. 

I've lost count of the number of times I've read this. It's a beautiful story and a fabulous example of what children's fiction can be. The writing is beautiful, but easy to read. She is able to bring the world alive.

And Mary is my soul sister. I identify with her in so many ways. Lennox in my handles comes from her last name. She's a great character for kids to see. She works through her anger and contrariness is helpful to see. And Dickon is such a sweetheart. Plus, this book is the reason I have an interest in India and Indian culture.

This will always be one of my favorite books. I want a secret garden some day. And if I have kids, this will be in my hospital bag so it can be the first book I read to them.

Now, I may need to watch the 1993 film adaptation because it's my favorite.

Thanks for reading!

Holly

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Review: Take the Key and Lock Her Up by Ally Carter

30254923
Series: Embassy Row Book #3
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 327
Rating: 5 Stars
How I Got It: Gift for Christmas
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Scholastic Inc.
Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads

Centuries ago, the royal family of Adria was killed…or so everyone thought.

Now Grace Blakely knows the truth: There was one survivor, and that survivor’s blood runs through her veins. This simple fact could cause a revolution—which is why some people will stop at nothing to keep it from coming to light.

There is only one way for Grace to save herself, save her family, and save the boy she loves. She must outmaneuver her foes, cut through the web of lies that has surrounded her for years, and go back to the source of all her troubles, despite the risk.

If she wins, she will inherit a throne.

And if she loses, she will inherit the fate of all the dead princesses who came before her.
Review

Holy crap!!! This is the best book in this series and I've read this year. I'm kind of still recovering. I've enjoyed every Ally Carter book I've read, but this was her best work.

I was constantly on edge of my seat and trying to figure out what was happening next. The story was fast-paced and gave me everything I needed-even the things I didn't know I needed.

Grace was wonderful and really grew up throughout this story. I think it will be interesting to re-read know that I know what happens. I'm curious to see her development and any foreshadowing there is earlier in the series.

Thanks for reading!
Holly

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Top 10 Tuesday: Books That Have Been on My TBR the Longest

Top 10 Tuesday was created by the Broke and the Bookish. You can find more information here.

It is now run by That Artsy Reader Girl which you can find here.

I feel like I have to do this topic, because it can be a reality check. For the last couple of years I've really focused on my TBR and have unhauled books. Part of that is trying to get rid of books I've had for years and never picked up.

It's a little shameful, but I've had some of these books since college. To put that in perspective, I graduated in 2011. And there is one from high school.

I'm going to try and put these in order from oldest-to-newest, but I'm sure it's not completely accurate. The first one is definitely the oldest one from my senior year of high school (2007). That's over a decade! 🙀

The Princess Bride
21787

Blood of the Fold
43892

Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister
18943

The Glamorous Double Life of Isabel Bookbinder
6310524

Law of the Garbage Truck
8387710

If you Give a Girl a Viscount
10695787

Sexiest Vampire Alive
10428848

Glitter Baby
1924491

One Night in Scotland
7775733

Good in Bed
14748

Thanks for reading!
Holly

Monday, February 5, 2018

January Wrap-Up (2018)

I have read so much this month-16 books. It doesn't even feel real. I have been watching less TV/YouTube which probably helped.

And I passed my first certification exam for my new job. That was a real stressor and I'm glad I'm one step closer to being done with that.

The books I read were pretty varied and there were a couple audio books. Generally, they were quality reads, too. A couple were disappointing because one of them was my first read of the year.  But the month mostly picked up after that.

Here's the list of books I read and my ratings.

Ignite 2 Stars
22845021

Pipe Dreams-5 Stars
30627346

Love in the Afternoon-4 Stars
7491418

All Fall Down-4 Stars
22571275

Before the Fall: Arrival-4 Stars
24722065

Defying the Nazis-3 Stars
35162496

Blood Fury-4 Stars
34885344

Snow Like Ashes-3 Stars
20799220

The Proposal-3 Stars
27412183

The Chosen-4 Stars
29863848

See How They Run-4 Stars
https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1431015777l/24644814.jpg

One Dance with a Duke-4 Stars
6809488

Take the Key and Lock Her Up-5 Stars
30254923

The Secret Garden-5 Stars
28473477

Stalin's Englishman-3 Stars
28220812

Carry On-2 Stars
23734628

What did you read this month?

Thanks for reading!
Holly