Friday, December 19, 2014

Review: "Sideswiped" by Lia Riley

It was only meant to last the summer . . . Talia Stolfi has seen more than her share of loss in her twenty-one years. But then fate brought her Bran Lockhart, and her dark world was suddenly and spectacularly illuminated. So if being with Bran means leaving her colorless NorCal life for rugged and wild Australia, then that’s what she’ll do. But as much as Talia longs to give herself over completely to a new beginning, the fears of her past are still lurking in the shadows. Bran Lockhart knows that living without the beautiful girl who stole his heart will be torment, so he’ll take whatever time with her he can. But even though she has packed up her life in California and is back in his arms for the time being, she can’t stay forever. And the remaining time they have together is ticking by way too fast. Though fate seems determined to tear them apart, they won’t give up without a fight—because while time may have limits, their love is infinite . . .

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for allowing me to read and review an ARC of this book!

Bran loves Talia.  Talia loves Bran.  And so they lived happily ever after, right?  Right?!  Wouldn't be much of a book if that's how it went down, and I think it would have been easy for "Sideswiped" to fall victim to the sophomore slump if that's how Lia Riley decided to write it.  Fortunately, this series continues on with the same great writing and realistic characters that I came to love in "Upside Down".

Talia is fortunate to be able to finish her degree in Hobart while Bran works on his  research project, and they are also able to play house together.  While the relationship is still new and there are a few bumps, they quickly get into a rhythm that works for them.  Lurking in the background, however, is the knowledge that Talia's visa will soon run out, and then what?  Not only that, but Talia also realizes that Bran is not completely happy with being stuck in a lab all day - she doesn't want to stifle his passionate spirit.  And not only that, but Talia has the need to go off on her own and spread her wings, too - she needs to see what she can accomplish herself, without riding Bran's coattails.  Bran, meanwhile, comes up with a desperate plan to keep them together, but by holding on so hard, he's inadvertently pushing Talia away.

Ugh, the angst!  I could feel the tension with every page!  Talia and Bran's situation hit quite close to home as I recalled the early stages of my relationship with my husband - newly graduated with no real clue of what I wanted to do with my future, career-wise, but sure that I'd found "the one" I wanted to be with, and knowing somehow that things would work out.  

Talia finally gets to meet Bran's family in "Sideswiped" during the Melbourne Cup, and what a bunch of pompous jerks they are! No wonder Bran wants nothing to do with them!  At least Talia gets an insider's view of what makes Bran tick, and I think it makes her appreciate him all the more.

My one complaint would have to be that there was not much said about Talia's OCD.  It seems like she's been handling her disorder quite well, and while her struggles were mentioned a few times, I thought there would have been more of a focus on that subject.

I'm not sure what else to say except that this, the "Off the Map" series by Lia Riley, is probably my favourite New Adult series of the year, so if you like New Adult and you haven't picked this one up yet, definitely give it a go!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Review: "Dangerous Creatures" by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

A new series returns to the world of Beautiful Creatures. Some loves are cursed...others are dangerous. Ridley Duchannes will be the first to tell you that she's a bad girl. She's Dark. She's a Siren. You can never trust her, or even yourself when she's around. Lucky for her, Wesley "Link" Lincoln can never seem to remember that; quarter Incubus or not, his heart is Mortal when it comes to Ridley. When Link heads to New York City to start a music career, Ridley goes along for the ride-and she has her own reasons. As if leaving small-town Gatlin for the big city, trying to form a band, and surviving life with a partially reformed Siren isn't hard enough already, Link soon learns he has a price on his head that no Caster or Mortal can ever pay. Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, the #1 New York Times bestselling coauthors of Beautiful Creatures, are back and casting another magical spell. Their signature mixture of mystery, suspense, and romance, along with a dash of fun and danger, will pull fans in and leave them begging for more.

Thank you to Little, Brown Books for Young Readers via Netgalley for the free review copy of this book!

Did I like this book?

I don't really know what to say about this book.  I haven't read the "Beautiful Creatures" series, so I had no previous emotional investment in these characters at all- I wonder if that negatively affected my reading experience?  I'm going to say yes.

The book starts off right away with Ridley and Link saying goodbye to the four others of their group.  Immediately I was confused because I didn't know who was what kind of supernatural or what their powers were or anything.  Maybe I should have stopped reading right there, but I persevered, and things eventually became a bit more clear.

Ridley is an interesting character.  She's bitchy and mouthy, but I rather enjoyed her feistiness.  Link, on the other hand, kind of annoyed me. I think he's supposed to come off all funny and sweet, maybe quirky, but I think I would smack him upside the head if I had to put up with him for any length of time.  The real surprise here was Lennox Gates - I kind of liked him and found myself rooting for him from the start, even though he's the villain - or is he?  Anyhow, I kept hoping Ridley would ditch Link and hook up with Lennox, although I don't think that was the authors' intention.  Whatever.  Honestly, my feelings about this love triangle lean heavily towards ambivalence - I don't care too much which guy Ridley ends up with, or even if she ends up with neither of them.  Now if she ended up with both...that could be interesting! But we are talking YA here, so the chances of that happening are pretty slim.

Will you like this book?

I suppose if you've read the "Beautiful Creatures" series and liked it, you might enjoy "Dangerous Creatures" as well.  If you haven't read the first series, however, I wouldn't recommend this one- you'll be as lost as I was.

Will I read more from these authors?

After reading "Dangerous Creatures", I've decided that I'm not interested in reading more of this series or the "Beautiful Creatures" series.  They're just not really my thing. However, I might still be inclined to read books from other series by Garcia or Stohl, depending on if the synopsis intrigues me.  

My rating:

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Review: "Just a Little Crush" by Renita Pizzitola

Good girls stay away from Ryder Briggs . . . or, at least, they try to. In Renita Pizzitola’s emotional novel of heartache and seduction, one college freshman just can’t get enough. Brinley Dawson doesn’t drink, she studies—and despite the accusations of her alcoholic mother, she’s still a virgin. But if Brinley’s life is so put together, why is she freaking out to be going to college with the gorgeous, green-eyed jerk she kissed on a stupid dare in high school? Ryder Briggs can have any girl he wants . . . and the rumors say that he does. So why, after publicly embarrassing Brinley four years ago, is he suddenly acting like he’s interested? Ryder never forgot Brinley. In fact, those perfect seven minutes permanently raised the bar for what a kiss could be. The truth is, Ryder doesn’t dare get too close to anyone. He knows how that worked out for his parents. But when his roommate takes a shot at Brinley, Ryder can’t contain his jealousy. Now he must do the hardest thing he’s ever done: forget about sex and convince Brinley his feelings are real. Brinley isn’t sure whether she believes Ryder, but for the first time, her body isn’t playing by the rules. Then she discovers that she’s an unwilling part of a cruel game, humiliating her all over again—and Ryder might be to blame. Has Brinley’s little crush turned into a huge mistake . . . or has she found the one guy worth trusting with her heart?
Thank you to Netgalley and Loveswept Publishing for the review copy!

This was a nice little book, but overall nothing groundbreaking here.  No glaring errors, it has decent writing and some semi-likeable characters, but again, nothing I haven't seen before, and nothing that will make "Just A Little Crush" stand out from the glut of New Adult titles currently available.

Brinley is the main character and the book is told from her point of view.  She is a bit nerdy, but from what people say to her, we know that she is also pretty/beautiful/hot/sexy/whatever.  But, to keep her from being too perfect, she's got some family issues, she's only got one friend, and she's pretty clueless around guys, so I didn't completely hate her.  Why she doesn't have financial issues is a question I had throughout the book, but who knows, maybe she's got student loans coming out the ying yang.  Doesn't really matter, I guess.

Then there's Ryder Briggs.  Brinley is still kind of hung up on him from high school, even though the only time they had ever interacted was during a game of spin the bottle.  Although Ryder's behaviour after "the kiss" was less than stellar, Brinley can't help but be attracted to him, which is a little weird, but some girls just love them a bad boy I guess!  They end up at the same college and inevitably at the same parties and having some "friends" in common.  Now, Ryder is the stereotypical New Adult bad boy.  He is gorgeous and cocky, has a perfect body that he does absolutely nothing to maintain, is pierced and tattooed, and has a veritable harem following him around.  And of course, he only has eyes for Brinley.  So, although I didn't exactly despise Ryder, I did have a hard time loving him because he's just not unique enough for me.  No swoons, people, not even one!  Even when he was confiding all his deep dark secrets to Brinley, it felt a little forced and cheesy.  Been there, done that, not really buying it anymore!

Despite being filled with cliches, I was pulled in enough to want to keep reading.  The plot had some memorable moments, and there was a bit of a twist near the end that I wasn't expecting.  So, definitely check this one out if the synopsis catches your attention - maybe not the best book in the New Adult genre I've read, but certainly not the worst either.

My rating:

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Review: "The Undiscovered Goddess" by Michelle Colston

Who knew a Cosmo quiz and a bottle of wine could change a woman’s life? Holly, housewife and frazzled mother of three, is determined to discredit the lackluster result of a Cosmo personality quiz. After buying a workbook geared toward helping her find her inner goddess, Holly sets off on a year of self-discovery, journaling through each uncomfortable exercise as she goes.Facing inner demons, yoga, an explosive colon cleanse and REALLY spicy curry, the lessons are hard on her emotions, not to mention her digestive system. But does she succeed in the end? Beyond the superficial, what important lesson does Holly’s inner goddess have the power to teach her…and what can Holly teach you?

My thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for allowing me to read and review an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

As soon as I finished this book, I automatically thought of several women I know who I could recommend it to.  Women who are in the same stage of life as I am, basically.  I think "The Undiscovered Goddess" will really appeal to women who are living the dream life they imagined as a little girl and realizing it's not exactly how they pictured it.

I laughed my arse off with this one, but it also made me evaluate my own life and some of the bad habits I share with Holly.  
For example, Holly started the book off as a pretty heavy drinker.  I like to indulge a bit on the weekend myself, but when does a little indulgence become a problem?  I started to worry a bit about Holly because, honestly, she seemed like she had a wee drinking problem.  Fortunately, through working chapter by chapter through her "Undiscovered Goddess" workbook, this is one of the areas that Holly is able to address and see the truth of.

Holly also has some body image issues, and honestly, who of us doesn't?  She knows she doesn't always make good choices with her diet, and her fitness level is at a zero, but what's a girl to do?  She's got three kids and a husband to take care of, and friendships to maintain - who's got time for eating right and exercising?  Again, taking a good hard look at her life, Holly realizes that by making self-care a priority, she's not being selfish but is instead able to give more back to her family.  When a mother is happy, everyone is happy!

Anyway, I learned a lot from Holly.  I didn't really like her much to begin with, but by the end she was someone I could picture myself being friends with.  I ended up really loving this book!  Highly recommended!

My rating: 4stars

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Review: "Remember When" by T. Torrest

Years before Trip Wiley could be seen on movie screens all over the world, he could be seen sitting in the desk behind me in my high school English class. This was back in 1990, and I cite the year only to avoid dumbfounding you when references to big hair or stretch pants are mentioned. Although, come to think of it, I am from New Jersey, which may serve as explanation enough. We were teenagers then, way back in a time before anyone could even dream he’d turn into the Hollywood commodity that he is today. In case you live under a rock and don't know who Trip Wiley is, just know that these days, he’s the actor found at the top of every casting director’s wish list. He’s incredibly talented and insanely gorgeous, the combination of which has made him very rich, very famous and very desirable. And not just to casting directors, either. I can’t confirm any of the gossip from his early years out in Tinseltown, but based on what I knew of his life before he was famous, I can tell you that the idea of Girls-Throwing-Themselves-At-Trip is not a new concept. I should know. I was one of them. And my life hasn’t been the same since.

My thanks to Netgalley and Smith Publicity for allowing me to read and review an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.

I found this book compulsively readable! Once started, I could not stop!  I think a big part of what drew me in to this book was the time period in which it was set.  I was in high school in the 90's as well, so I really got a kick out of being sent back to that era - such nostalgia!

Layla is a very dynamic character. Through her we get to feel all sorts of things - the pain of being abandoned by her mother, the angst of first (and unrequited) love, unconditional friendship, embarrassment, jealousy...pretty much everything you ever felt when you were "coming of age".  I thought the author did a great job of immersing me into Layla's world, although if I were to offer a criticism here, it would be that there could have been more as far as the background of the secondary characters.  For example, I never had a clear picture of Layla's father, what he did for work or why he didn't mind his daughter going out partying all the time.  I think Layla's brother was mentioned less than five times.  And Cooper?!  One of the best characters in the book and I wasn't let in to any of the meat of Layla's history with him until near the end!  

Part of what I loved about this book was how Layla and Trip started out as friends.  They had so much fun, studying and working a part time job together, before any of the dating mess came into the picture.  Trip was a pretty neat guy, beautiful of course, but also smart and kind.  So many times I end up reading books with cocky a-holes as the main love interest, so Trip was a refreshing change of pace.  Same complaint here, though - I wasn't given enough background.  I'm thinking especially of a scene towards the end of the book where a pretty heavy duty secret is revealed.  It came completely out of left field, and then was simultaneously dropped.  With an issue that big affecting Trip's life, I would have liked to see more build up and more resolution.

I wonder if many readers will be disappointed with the ending of "Remember When".  I wasn't - I think everything about the ending was perfect, and I am absolutely looking forward to reading the next in the series!

My rating:  3.5 stars