Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Review: Hell Without You by Ranae Rose

Goodreads description: Time changes everything, except what’s meant to be. Seven years is a long time – long enough to transform Clementine from a small-town teenager with a broken heart into a woman ready to take on the world, but not long enough to make her forget about the man she was never supposed to see again. A temporary return to tiny Willow Heights thrusts her back into Donovan’s life and home, unearthing heartbreak and obsession that have stood the test of time. He left seven years ago too, for war and other things Clementine can only imagine. Coming back to the town where he grew up in the shadow of poverty and drug addiction makes no sense, and neither do Clementine’s feelings for him. He could never forgive her for leaving, could he? Even if she had no choice. Now, she has the freedom to choose … and so does he. Every day in Willow Heights makes it clearer: all he ever really wanted was her, and nothing will change that. Not even a taste of the hell that drove them apart in the first place.
Thank you to NetGalley for giving me a review copy of this novel.  

So I'm just going to jump in here, because the synopsis above tells pretty much the whole book right there.  Things I liked:  Um, not much, to tell the truth.  I guess things started out okay, the pace was good, and the characters seemed to have a lot of chemistry.  The naked sleepwalking was different!  But everything started heading downhill from there.

The entire read after the first few chapters was really boring to me.  There were so many words and phrases repeated throughout.  For example, the words "seven years" were used 59 times.  Yeah, really, I think I got it after the first ten, they've been apart for SEVEN YEARS.  How many?  Magic number 7!  No, wait, how many?  Let's hear it again.  SEVEN YEARS.

Total overkill on the descriptions of Donovan - his body, his eyes, his coloring, etc.  I like a hot book boyfriend as much as the next girl, but there are ways to describe him without resorting to the same old, same old.  In contrast, I don't really remember anything about Clementine.  Probably the most interesting thing about her is her name.

Which brings me to their lives while they were apart, for SEVEN YEARS!  We know that Donovan went to Iraq, and that he must have PTSD because of all the naked sleepwalking, but it's cured rather conveniently as long as Clementine sleeps with him.  Really?  I don't know, seems a bit oversimplified to me.  He has one, maybe two friends, and doesn't mention any contact with his siblings.  Seems like he's been pining away for Clementine those whole SEVEN YEARS!  Pretty sad, don't you think?

And Clementine?  In those SEVEN YEARS, she made one friend and earned her graduate degree.  I'm not making light of her degree or anything, but the one friend?  Also pretty sad in my opinion.

What about the sex?  Well, there were two things that bothered me about the sex.  One, they never once discussed any possible relationships with other people during those SEVEN YEARS.  Were they both celibate the entire time?  I highly doubt it.  What about STD's?  No concern.  The other thing that bothered me was the amount of gratuitous sex.  I'm okay with a lot of sex in a book if it's done right, but there needs to be a time and place for everything, and in this book, the timing was usually wrong.  For example, a major traumatic event happens (no spoiler here) and then they go home and have sex.  It seemed not to fit.

The plot dragged a lot, and then everything was wrapped up very conveniently in the end.  A little too conveniently for my taste.  It's too bad - I think with a bit of work, this book could have been a lot better.

My rating:

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Review: Escaping Reality by Lisa Renee Jones

Goodreads description:  Infinite possibilities….  Infinite passion….. Infinite danger…. His touch spirals through me, warm and sweet, wicked and hot. I shouldn’t trust him. I shouldn’t tell him my secrets. But how do I not when he is the reason I breathe? He is what I need. At the young age of eighteen, tragedy and a dark secret force Lara to flee all she has known and loves to start a new life. Now years later, with a new identity as Amy, she’s finally dared to believe she is forgotten–even if she cannot forget. But just when she lets down her guard, the ghosts of her past are quick to punish her, forcing her back on the run. On a plane, struggling to face the devastation of losing everything again and starting over, Amy meets Liam Stone, a darkly entrancing recluse billionaire, who is also a brilliant, and famous, prodigy architect. A man who knows what he wants and goes after it. And what he wants is Amy. Refusing to take “no” as an answer, he sweeps her into a passionate affair, pushing her to her erotic limits. He wants to possess her. He makes her want to be possessed. Liam demands everything from her, accepting nothing less. But what if she is too devastated by tragedy to know when he wants more than she should give? And what if there is more to Liam than meets the eyes?
All right, let me tell you about how I came across this book, because I think it's kind of funny!  

I had just opened up an account with NetGalley, and was thinking that I would never get approved for any books, when lo and behold, an email appeared in my inbox, touting three New Adult novels in the "Read Now" category.  Really?!  I didn't even know about the Read Now books!!!  So I booted on over to NetGalley and downloaded all three books then and there.

Out of my three new books, Escaping Reality had the most interesting cover and synopsis, so that's where I started.  The pace in the beginning was great, and the story had me intrigued, but because it was in PDF format, which is a bit more tedious to read on my Kobo, I took a break and read the other two books.  One was okay, and the other was pretty good, but the reason I mention this is because they both had quite a few typos.  

When I came back to Escaping Reality, I noticed that there weren't any typos, which was a refreshing change!  I thought, "Wow, for a first-time author, the writing is very well done!"  (Remember this for later!)  On the other hand, the plot took a weird turn.  It reminded me of a...well, soft-core porn, to be honest.  No plot, just sex.  Here's this woman, Amy, on the run for her life, and she's ready to jump in the sack with a guy she just met on a plane?  I almost gave up reading right then, but then I reread the title - ah, Escaping Reality!  Maybe it's SUPPOSED to be unrealistic!!!  I get it now!  All right, carry on.

Two of the most annoying things now started to become apparent.  First, the repetitive writing.  Oh. My. God.  This is my impersonation of Amy:  "I should not be attracted to this man, but this man makes me feel like no man ever has.  I don't know what it is about this man that makes me feel this way.  What is it about this man?  I wish I could be with this man, but I can't be with this man the way I want to be.  This man this and this man that, ad nauseam!"  Obviously I'm not quoting, but that's how I remember it.  Ugh, reading "this book" was so painful!  

The second most annoying thing?  Amy.  She didn't know her ass from her elbow, and what was she scared of?  Good question!  Nowhere in the 68% of the book I actually read  was there any reason to believe she was in danger.  No near misses, no stalker sightings, no crank calls, nothing!  All the reader knows is that her family is dead, but were they murdered?  Were they in an accident?  Did they just fall off the face of the earth?  Amy had a lot of internal monologue alluding to this incredible danger, but as far as I could tell, it was all talk.  

Oh wait.  I forgot a third annoying thing.  Liam.  Now you know a book is bad when you don't like the female lead, or the male lead.  He was just sooooooo over the top in every way, I almost gagged.  Enough of these young billionaire geniuses, already!  Who are authors basing these guys on?  Bill Gates?  Because he's the only billionaire genius I can think of, but the way every second book features one of them, you'd think they were falling out of the sky! 

Meanwhile, as I was browsing the book aisle at the grocery store, I came across a book with a beautiful cover and an interesting synopsis by... you guessed it!  Lisa Renee Jones!  So she's NOT a first time author!  Well then, how does junk like this get published?  No. Idea.  Then again, I've seen a lot of 5 star reviews for this book, so maybe I'm the idiot.

If you're thinking you might want to read this book,  I'm going to try to change your mind in one paragraph, simply because I care about you.  After 200 some odd pages, this is what happened - and trust me, I'm not spoiling anything.  Amy leaves a party to move to a new city with a new identity.  She meets a guy on the plane.  She has sex with him.  He buys her a cell phone.  They argue about the cell phone.  She brings the cell phone back to the store.  He finds her at the store and they argue some more.  He convinces her to keep the phone.  They go to dinner.  They have sex.  200 frickin' pages of tiny print and THAT'S. ALL. THAT. HAPPENED!!!  So maybe things pick up, but by that point, I really didn't give a shit.  

My rating:  

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases in the world of books.

This is my first time participating in a meme of any kind, and of course, my first time participating in "Waiting on Wednesday".  I am such a virgin that I had to look up the word meme, and I still don't really get it!  But here goes, I'll try my best.

I am eagerly anticipating.... Allegiant, by Veronica Roth.

Okay, yeah, I know it's already out, but I don't have a copy yet and I'm not even finished reading Insurgent.  But still, it's the book I'm MOST excited about this week!  How about you?  If you happen to stumble along this blog, you may see that I am a little low on followers (did I mention that I'm new at this?) so please leave me a comment - it would absolutely make my day!!!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Review: A White Room by Stephanie Carroll

Goodreads Description:
 At the close of the Victorian Era, society still expected middle-class women to be “the angels of the house,” even as a select few strived to become something more. In this time of change, Emeline Evans dreamed of becoming a nurse. But when her father dies unexpectedly, Emeline sacrifices her ambitions and rescues her family from destitution by marrying John Dorr, a reserved lawyer who can provide for her family.

John moves Emeline to the remote Missouri town of Labellum and into an unusual house where her sorrow and uneasiness edge toward madness. Furniture twists and turns before her eyes, people stare out at her from empty rooms, and the house itself conspires against her. The doctor diagnoses hysteria, but the treatment merely reinforces the house’s grip on her mind. 

Emeline only finds solace after pursuing an opportunity to serve the poor as an unlicensed nurse. Yet in order to bring comfort to the needy she must secretly defy her husband, whose employer viciously hunts down and prosecutes unlicensed practitioners. Although women are no longer burned at the stake in 1900, disobedience is a symptom of psychological defect, and hysterical women must be controlled. 

A novel of madness and secrets, A White Room presents a fantastical glimpse into the forgotten cult of domesticity, where one’s own home could become a prison and a woman has to be willing to risk everything to be free.
I am going to find this book very difficult to rate.  The problem is that the novel is really well-written, and there's not really anything I can pinpoint as being wrong, but at the same time, I had an extremely hard time getting through it.  I used to read historical fiction all the time, especially in high school, but maybe I'm just not feeling the love for this genre anymore.  I'm more into the "wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am" type of books these days - short, and with not a lot of brain power or commitment involved!  

But, enough about all that.  Let's talk characters.  Emeline, the narrator, is a young woman whose father dies a very painful death.  On top of all this, Emeline's father has left the family heavily indebted, so Emeline decides to plead with her father's colleague in hopes that he and his wife will allow her to marry their son.  Sooooo not the way things were done in those days, but Emeline must swallow her pride and do what's best for her family.  By marrying John Dorr, she relieves the financial strain on everyone else, and that is only the first of the sacrifices Emeline must make.  So, you can see that Emeline is a brave young woman.  She is also very intelligent, and learned, having gone to college for a short while.  We come to see some drastic changes and growth in Emeline throughout the course of the book.  She starts off quite naive and prejudiced, but comes to see that class and social status do not necessarily determine a person's worth.  She is eventually able to make friends and help people in her new town, although not easily and not without a lot of deception.  There is also some question as to Emeline's sanity.  I am going to diagnose her myself with paranoid schizophrenia, but all the reader really gets to know is that Emeline sees and hears things that aren't really happening.  Very creepy, but also really cool!  I love it when a character goes a little bit psycho!

The rest of the cast of characters is very much secondary to Emeline.  There's the law partner and his wife, the town doctor and his wife, and the sheriff and his wife, along with the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker and their wives - okay, just kidding about those last three!  My point is that the other characters are not all that memorable.  Some are snooty, some are kind, and some are misunderstood. The only really memorable character is Lottie, Emeline's hired servant, who Emeline eventually comes to befriend and rely on. But Emeline is definitely the star of the show in A White Room.

Why is this book called A White Room?  Good question, and after reading the whole entire book, I still don't really know the answer.  Like I said before, maybe this just isn't my genre, but I really didn't get the symbolism.  Ooops!  

What else can I tell ya?  There's a great conflict in the last 50 pages or so that kept me reading today, and it shows a lot what society was like in the early 1900's.  Think Anne of Green Gables, but with more scandalous scandals! 

My Rating:   

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Review: Buried Secrets by Emme Rollins

Goodreads description:

Should some secrets remain buried? Dusty has always been a hothead, far more impulsive than her twin, Nick, the calm, cool and collected one of the pair. But Nick is dead, found murdered in their local cemetery, and Dusty simply can’t rest until she finds out who–or what–has killed her brother. Sure the local authorities aren’t being straight with her–or anyone else–about what’s been going on in their little upper Michigan town, Dusty delays going off to college for a semester, defying her father and stepmother and taking a job in the local bar to start doing some digging. Her focus soon fixes on Shane, her brother’s best friend and the town bad boy. The tension and rivalry between Dusty and Shane has always been palpable and sparks fly as the two collide. Dusty finds herself sinking in deeper with Shane and the mystery of what happened to her brother–and a lengthening list of victims–grows even stranger. When everything comes to a head, Dusty focuses on one thing: What happened the night her brother was killed in the cemetery? She’s sure Shane is keeping a secret and she’s determined to find out what it is, one way or another.
Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a review copy of this book!

Well, there were quite a few things I liked about Buried Secrets, and a few things I didn't like or thought could have been done a bit better, so maybe I'll break it down like that.

Things I liked:

First of all, I really liked how Emme Rollins was able to write about Dusty's grief - it seemed very real and believable to me.  I also really enjoyed the development of Dusty's relationship with Shane.  Some people like the friends-before-lovers set-up, but this is more like enemies-before-lovers!  Again, it's written in a way that the reader can believe is true, when so often in New Adult books, characters will just jump in the sack with no real build-up or reason behind the attraction.  Trust me when I say that this aspect of the book is well done.

Shane is a great character, being both funny and cute, but also smarter than Dusty had ever given him credit for.  Dusty's a bit of a tomboy, and I like that about her, but I think she would be hard to get to know or be around for any length of time.  In other words, I probably wouldn't choose her for a bestie!  But hey, to each his own.

The secrets alluded to in the title, when revealed, were surprising to me!  Maybe I'm just not great at guessing these "buried secrets", maybe other readers won't be surprised at all, but I was totally caught off guard!  Throughout, the book had a real sense of creepiness to it, where I didn't know who was to be trusted.  Who, or what, killed Nick?  I was kept wondering all the way through.

Things that were kind of...meh:

Okay, not really sure how to write any of this without giving away big spoilers, but I'll do my best.

Do you ever watch a horror or suspense movie and find yourself yelling at the characters, saying things like, "You idiot, don't do that!!!  You're so stupid!  Run, scream, etc, etc."  Well, I do, and I felt that way a few times during this book.  Not enough to throw it at a wall or anything, but still.  Those moments, definitely not highlights.

There's a part where Shane takes Dusty to his hideaway, a place only he and Nick have ever been to.  And it's just too amazing, to the point where I was thinking, "Nope, totally unbelievable, there's no way he could have that kind of a set up, not at 18 years of age."  Actually, a bit of background on how Shane's family obtained all this land would have been nice, especially since I got the impression that Shane's family were a bunch of deadbeats!

And then there's the sex.  I don't know how things are done these days, but in the '80's, when I was in junior high, we learned all about what would happen if you had sex without protection.  There was even an episode of Degrassi Junior High that we all had to watch, where Spike gets pregnant.  Maybe Shane and Dusty didn't have "Family Life" as part of their curriculum, but even so, I just don't believe that two modern characters would take a major step like that without even discussing protection or possible consequences.

As for the killer?  Well, I'm not really sure what I think about that.  I'll just say that the whole wrap-up was a bit weird for my taste.

My Rating:

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Review: Saving Wishes by G.J. Walker-Smith

From Goodreads:

For Charli Blake, being seventeen is a tough gig.

She's been branded a troublemaker, her reputation is in tatters and she's stuck in Pipers Cove, a speck of a town on the coast of Tasmania.

Thankfully, it's temporary. Her lifelong dream of travelling the world is just months away from becoming reality. All she has to do is ride out the last few months of high school, which is easier said than done thanks to a trio of mean girls known as The Beautifuls.

When Adam D├ęcarie arrives in town, all the way from New York, life takes an unexpected turn. His arrival sets off a chain of events that alters her life forever, convincing her of one thing. Fate brought him to her.

Saving Wishes is the story of a girl who doesn't quite fit the life she's living, and the boy who helps her realise why.

I.  Loved.  This.  Book.  I read it quite a while ago, but for some reason didn't finish a review.  I always find it harder to review a book I love than a book I hate.  Weird, eh?  Anyhoo, I thought I'd better come back and finish this review for NetGalley before they stop giving me free books (gasp!), and also because it is the best NetGalley book I've read so far.  It kind of deserves some love!

So, first of all, great setting.  No, I take that back.  Frickin' awesome location!!!  I'm so jealous that my husband has traveled to Tasmania, and I haven't.  And who's the displaced Aussie, here?  Yeah, me!  So now I really HAVE to go there after reading this book - I've totally moved it to the top of my bucket list!  If you're looking to escape the mundane locales of most books of this genre, then pick up Saving Wishes ASAP.

Next, characters.  Charli is truly lovable, in spite of her flaws, and she has many.  Maybe it's because of these flaws that I loved her so much.  Even though she's got a roof over her head, a caring brother as her guardian, and a great best friend, you can't help but feel she's been dealt the short end of the stick.  She's an orphan - well, dad is not in the picture, but he may as well be dead, as far as she's concerned - she's never even met the guy!  Mother's been dead since she was three.  She's a lousy student.  And the whole town treats her like crap for something that she really should not be made to feel ashamed of.  Her self-esteem is pretty much at rock bottom.  All she wants is to turn 18 so she can get the heck out of Dodge and never look back!

But, she believes in magic, and fate, and that's why when Adam Decarie arrives in Piper's Cove to visit his cousin, Charli freaks out just a bit.  He's beautiful, and nice, and smart, and wealthy...perfect, really.  Even though it seems as if fate has brought Adam to her, Charli pushes him away hard!  After a while, though, Charli realizes that they are meant to be together, and she holds on for dear life.  

I can't really say much more about the plot without spoiling everything, but I will say that if you're thinking this sounds like a typical YA novel, you'd be totally, completely wrong.  There are twists and turns you would never expect!  And the ending...well, some people may not like it, but I thought it was completely realistic.  I've been in a similar situation, and my relationship could have easily gone the same way.  'Nuff said on that!

My one criticism is that the two male characters had such similar names, Adam and Alex.  I kept having to reread sections here and there because they didn't make sense:  "What?  Oh wait, that was Adam that said that, not Alex!" or vice versa.  But other than that, this book was as close to perfection as a contemporary YA novel can be!

My rating:
This book is free over at Kobo and Amazon!!!  Yee-haw!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Review: Broken Beauty by Chloe Adams

From Goodreads:

**Contains graphic content and the sensitive topic of rape and its aftermath. Not intended for teens under the age of 18.**

Sometimes bad things happen to beautiful people.

When socialite party girl Mia Abbott-Renou wakes up in a garden she has little recall of the previous night -- except that she is naked...hurt...terrified. Not only has she been raped, but she knows one of her assailants: the son of a wealthy politician who happens to be her own father’s political ally.

Mia wants and needs justice. Except this privileged boy has an alibi and her father forbids her from going to the police. It’s a critical election year, one that his party might lose if his image as a doting father is soured due to Mia being labeled a lush or worse, promiscuous.

Devastated at not having the support of her family, Mia finds herself in a tug-of-war with her conscience over what to do, especially since she can’t remember exactly what happened that night. Worse, the men who attacked her have hurt several other girls, and Mia may be the key to stopping them.

Mia tries to forget, until the unthinkable happens, and she’s left reeling once again, faced with a new challenge that will force her to take more control of her life.

Originally published in October 2012 as "No Way Back" by Chloe Adams
Thank you to NetGalley  for allowing me to read this novella in exchange for an honest review.

This novella is a quick read, and focuses on Mia's point of view. Mia attended a party she wasn't supposed to be at, drank a bit much, accepted a drugged drink from a family acquaintance, and ended up getting brutally raped. The reader is drawn in immediately by Mia's circumstances, and from the party, we accompany her to the ER and experience her fear and panic at being examined. The only people she feels she can trust are the two police officers who came to her rescue, and her best friend, Ari.

Things continue to get more complicated. Her father, being a political figure with an image to uphold and an election in the near future to win, is completely absent from Mia's hospital room. Her mother is in rehab, and also unavailable to comfort Mia. Instead, Mia is stuck with a lawyer and a publicist, both of whom wish to keep this tragic event as quiet as possible. Mia believes she knows who raped her, but because she was drugged and can't remember everything clearly, her lawyer convinces her that she should not name the rapist. We follow Mia as she hides in her closet and speaks at a press conference, among other struggles to regain her life. The appeal of this book is really in how the author is able to make the reader feel that we are living Mia's life and struggles right along with her. I think that just about any reader will be able to sympathize with Mia, and upon reaching the end of this first installment of the Broken Beauty series, be eager to see what happens next. I know I am!