Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Royally Screwed

Book: Royally Screwed
Series: Royally #1
Author: Emma Chase

Nicholas Arthur Frederick Edward Pembrook, Crowned Prince of Wessco, aka “His Royal Hotness,” is wickedly charming, devastatingly handsome, and unabashedly arrogant―hard not to be when people are constantly bowing down to you.

Then, one snowy night in Manhattan, the prince meets a dark haired beauty who doesn’t bow down. Instead, she throws a pie in his face.

Nicholas wants to find out if she tastes as good as her pie, and this heir apparent is used to getting what he wants.

Dating a prince isn’t what waitress Olivia Hammond ever imagined it would be.
There’s a disapproving queen, a wildly inappropriate spare heir, relentless paparazzi, and brutal public scrutiny. While they’ve traded in horse drawn carriages for Rolls Royces and haven’t chopped anyone’s head off lately―the royals are far from accepting of this commoner.

But to Olivia―Nicholas is worth it.

Nicholas grew up with the whole world watching, and now Marriage Watch is in full force. In the end, Nicholas has to decide who he is and, more importantly, who he wants to be: a King... or the man who gets to love Olivia forever.-Goodreads

Review: Warning, unpopular review!

I love Emma Chase and fully expected to love this Cinderella re-telling (albeit, I was hoping for a sexier, funnier version). What I got was...a predicable love story with boring main characters that failed make me chuckle even once. The book started strong and I loved how Olivia, a 20-something woman busting her tail in her family's coffee shop and Nicholas, a 27-year old prince (or a fake country in the UK) met. He was drunk and rude and she tossed a pie in his face. Unfortunately, there was no cat and mouse with them or sexual tension build up-it was an almost immediate "he's hot/she's hot" let's get it on type of situation. Olivia was also a complete doormat-at one point she hears Nicholas say some extremely crass things about her and she forgives him almost immediately, which was unbelievable. 

Now, the positive. Chase did create some strong side characters. I really liked Olivia's little sister and Nic's younger brother, Prince Henry. The next book in this series is Henry so while I didn't particularly enjoy this, I will be reading the next one and I have high hopes it will be funny. 

*I cannot help mentioning that one of the characters has sisters named Bippity, Boppity and Boo.  While the reason is explained..I just did not find this funny in the least. 

Grade: 2/5

Secret Sins

Book: Secret Sins
Author: CD Reiss

Her name is Cinnamon. Cin for short. Band mates Strat and Indy don’t know anything about her except she’s smart as hell and sexy as heaven. They can’t agree who gets her, so they do the only thing two best friends could do. They declare her off limits to both of them.

Margie, AKA Cinnamon-you-can-call-me-Cin, has a thing or two to tell these guys. Nobody “gets” her. She’ll let them know which one she wants when she can decide between them. Until then, their little pledges and promises aren’t her problem.

Her family is her problem. Her friends. And the world-famous blues rocker who has her cornered. He’s her problem too.

This may be one problem she can’t fix without some help. -Goodreads

Review: If you are a fan of erotic romance and haven't read CD Reiss-please do yourself a favor and try one of her books. Her stories are not just about sex. She has a talent for crafting interesting, multi-dimensional characters and stories. She has been exploring the Drazen family for awhile now (there are 3 complete series for Jonathon, Fiona and Theresa) and this is a stand-alone for the oldest sister, Margie.  

Told in alternating timelines, we follow Margie as a teenager who finds herself involved with best friends and band mates, and present day Margie, a young attorney who reunites with one of the guys. While the 'big reveal' was easy to spot early on, it didn't diminish the read in any way. Margie is a feisty, take-charge personality and I loved everything except the ending. The book ended abruptly with little closure. And as this is a standalone, there isn't going to be more to the story. Boo!

Grade: 4/5

Nefertiti's Heart

Book: Nefertiti's Heart
Series: The Artifact Hunters #1
Author: A.W. Exley

Cara Devon has always suffered curiosity and impetuousness, but tangling with a serial killer might cure that. Permanently.

London, 1861. Impoverished noble Cara has a simple mission after the strange death of her father - sell off his damned collection of priceless artifacts. Her plan goes awry when aristocratic beauties start dying of broken hearts, an eight inch long brass key hammered through their chests. A killer hunts amongst the nobility, searching for a regal beauty and an ancient Egyptian relic rumoured to hold the key to immortality.
Her Majesty's Enforcers are in pursuit of the murderer and they see a connection between the gruesome deaths and Cara. So does she, somewhere in London her father hid Nefertiti's Heart, a fist sized diamond with strange mechanical workings. Adding further complication to her life, notorious crime lord, Viscount Nathaniel Lyons is relentless in his desire to lay his hands on Cara and the priceless artifact. If only she could figure out his motive.

Self-preservation fuels Cara's search for the gem. In a society where everyone wears a mask to hide their true intent, she needs to figure out who to trust, before she makes a fatal mistake. -Goodreads

Review: Interesting story-I was in labor two months ago and decided to start this book (after the epidural had kicked in lol). So, I will remember this book as long as I live! I really liked the heroine, Cara Devon. She has a traumatic backstory and is a sympathetic character. She's also strong, witty and self reliant. I loved the murder mystery surrounding the Egyptian 'Nefertiti's Heart.' There was too much focus on the romance between Cara and Nathaniel (and I couldn't help feeling his pursuit of her was creepy given her background), but otherwise I enjoyed this. I will definitely continue with the series. 

Grade: 3/5

The Faerie War

Book: The Faerie War
Series: Creepy Hollow #3
Author: Rachel Morgan

Violet Fairdale is in big trouble. Her home is gone, her beloved forest lies in ruins, the guy she gave her heart to has deserted her—and she doesn’t remember any of it. The powerful Lord Draven is taking over, brainwashing guardians into fighting for him. No one is safe from the evil spreading throughout the fae world.

As alliances are forged between the remaining free fae, Vi struggles to reclaim her identity and figure out where she belongs in this new world. When someone from her past shows up, life gets even more complicated. He brings with him a long-forgotten weapon and an ancient prophecy that places Vi at the center of the fight against Draven. With the future of the fae world at stake, can Vi carry out the prophecy’s instructions before it’s too late? -Goodreads

Review: Book 1 in this series was good and book 2 was even better. While this book started off very strong, the plot was unable to hold my interest. Violet is a strong, kick ass heroine in the first installments and this time around-she has no memories for the majority of the book. She bonds with new characters who I frankly didn't care much about. And Draven...while it was explained how he became so powerful, I had a hard time believing it. I wish there had been some chapters from his point of view. Once again, I did enjoy the ending with a scene from Ryn's point of view. 

Overall-my least favorite of the series, but I overall enjoyed this world. I will definitely read more from Rachel Morgan. 

Grade: 2/5

The Faerie Prince

Book: The Faerie Prince
Series: Creepy Hollow #2
Author: Rachel Morgan

Guardian trainee Violet Fairdale is just weeks away from one of the most important occasions of her life: graduation. After messing up big time by bringing a human into the fae realm, Vi needs to step up her game and forget about Nate if she hopes to graduate as the top guardian of her year. Everything would be fine if she wasn’t forced to partner with Ryn, her ex-friend, ex-enemy, current ‘sort of friend’. They might be trying to patch up their relationship, but does she really want to spend a week undercover with him for their final assignment? On top of that, the possibly insane Unseelie Prince is still on the loose, free to ‘collect’ as many specially talented faeries as he can find—and Vi is still at the top of his list. Add in faerie queens, enchanted storms, complicated not-just-friends feelings, and a murder within the Guild itself, and graduation is about to become the least of Vi’s problems.-Goodreads
Review: I really enjoyed this one. It was fast paced and I love the dynamic of Violet and Ryn. I also like how the author adds a chapter in at the end that tells a scene from Ryn's point of view. Pure fun!

Grade: 4/5

My Lady Jane

Book: My Lady Jane
Author: Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows

The comical, fantastical, romantical, (not) entirely true story of Lady Jane Grey. In My Lady Jane, coauthors Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows have created a one-of-a-kind fantasy in the tradition of The Princess Bride, featuring a reluctant king, an even more reluctant queen, a noble steed, and only a passing resemblance to actual history—because sometimes history needs a little help.

At sixteen, Lady Jane Grey is about to be married off to a stranger and caught up in a conspiracy to rob her cousin, King Edward, of his throne. But those trifling problems aren’t for Jane to worry about. Jane is about to become the Queen of England.-Goodreads

Review: If you are looking for a cute and quirky historical tale with a supernatural flare, this book might be for you. Keep in mind that it is not historically accurate but the authors have fun with the narrative. My only disappointment with this is that I didn't laugh or even chuckle when reading it. Overall, cute read. 

Grade: 3/5

Wednesday, November 2, 2016


Book: Tease
Author: Amanda Maciel

Emma Putnam is dead, and it's all Sara Wharton's fault. At least, that's what everyone seems to think. Sara, along with her best friend and three other classmates, has been criminally charged for the bullying and harassment that led to Emma's shocking suicide. Now Sara is the one who's ostracized, already guilty according to her peers, the community, and the media. In the summer before her senior year, in between meetings with lawyers and a court-recommended therapist, Sara is forced to reflect on the events that brought her to this moment—and ultimately consider her own role in an undeniable tragedy. And she'll have to find a way to move forward, even when it feels like her own life is over.-Goodreads

Review:  Bri is the most popular girl in school and Sara is her faithful friend. Bri feels threatened by Emma, the pretty new girl who is hooking up with a lot of different guys, and starts bullying her. Sara quickly joins in on the bullying when Emma goes after her boyfriend. Things spiral out of control and Emma commits suicide. Bri, Sara and a few others are charged for their actions. 

Tease is written in two timelines, both from the POV of Sara. In the older timeframe, she is Bri's dutiful minion with little to no backbone. She willingly does Bri's bidding and it's sad at how she allows herself to get caught up in things. Readers (at least me) are left with a sense that without Bri, she would not have acted in such a malicious manner. In the present timeline, Sara is meeting with her attorneys on her case. Make no mistake-she is not a repentant defendant. If anything, she feels like the victim here. She didn't kill Emma, Emma killed herself. And the bullying? Well, Emma was asking for it after all. And she and Bri were just playing jokes on her, she didn't have to take it so seriously. 

This book's strength is that there are no good and bad characters. Every character (including Bri and Emma) have flaws and reasons for why they behave certain ways. It is difficult to sympathize with our narrator, Sara for most of the book.  I wanted to yell at her repeatedly (make your own decisions! Think about what you are doing!). 

Overall-this was not a pleasurable read per say, but very relevant and thought provoking given the anti-bullying campaigns going on in almost every school across the country. And the sad fact that there are still teens killing themselves over this kind of abuse.  

Grade: 4/5

The Hating Game

Book: The Hating Game
Author: Sally Thorne

Nemesis (n.) 1) An opponent or rival whom a person cannot best or overcome.
2) A person’s undoing
3) Joshua Templeman

Lucy Hutton has always been certain that the nice girl can get the corner office. She’s charming and accommodating and prides herself on being loved by everyone at Bexley & Gamin. Everyone except for coldly efficient, impeccably attired, physically intimidating Joshua Templeman. And the feeling is mutual.

Trapped in a shared office together 40 (OK, 50 or 60) hours a week, they’ve become entrenched in an addictive, ridiculous never-ending game of one-upmanship. There’s the Staring Game. The Mirror Game. The HR Game. Lucy can’t let Joshua beat her at anything—especially when a huge new promotion goes up for the taking.

If Lucy wins this game, she’ll be Joshua’s boss. If she loses, she’ll resign. So why is she suddenly having steamy dreams about Joshua, and dressing for work like she’s got a hot date? After a perfectly innocent elevator ride ends with an earth shattering kiss, Lucy starts to wonder whether she’s got Joshua Templeman all wrong.

Maybe Lucy Hutton doesn’t hate Joshua Templeman. And maybe, he doesn’t hate her either. Or maybe this is just another game. -Goodreads

Review:  Love. Love. LOVE! How much did I love this book? I stayed up late to finish this-which is something you DON'T DO when you have a five-week old infant. This is the story of Lucy and Joshua, executive assistants to co-CEO's of a publishing company. The book is written from Lucy's perspective and she is simply put-very funny. I chuckled throughout the entire book. Yes, it's predictable but it's so much fun. A fantastic debut for Sally Thorne. If you like chick lit or romance, read this. You won't be disappointed. 

Here is an exchange I enjoyed:

“Super. Gonna go get coffee. Can I get you some tea?” He has his heavy black mug in his hand. I hate his mug.

I look down; my hand is already holding my red polka-dot mug. He’d spit in anything he made me. Does he think I’m crazy? “I think I’ll join you.”

We march purposefully toward the kitchen with identical footfalls, left, right, left, right, like prosecutors walking toward the camera in the opening credits of Law & Order. It requires me to almost double my stride. Colleagues break off conversations and look at us with speculative expressions. Joshua and I look at each other and bare our teeth. Time to act civil. Like executives.

Grade: 5/5

Before We Were Strangers

Book: Before We Were Strangers
Author: Renee Carlind

To the Green-eyed Lovebird:

We met fifteen years ago, almost to the day, when I moved my stuff into the NYU dorm room next to yours at Senior House.

You called us fast friends. I like to think it was more.

We lived on nothing but the excitement of finding ourselves through music (you were obsessed with Jeff Buckley), photography (I couldn’t stop taking pictures of you), hanging out in Washington Square Park, and all the weird things we did to make money. I learned more about myself that year than any other.

Yet, somehow, it all fell apart. We lost touch the summer after graduation when I went to South America to work for National Geographic. When I came back, you were gone. A part of me still wonders if I pushed you too hard after the wedding…

I didn’t see you again until a month ago. It was a Wednesday. You were rocking back on your heels, balancing on that thick yellow line that runs along the subway platform, waiting for the F train. I didn’t know it was you until it was too late, and then you were gone. Again. You said my name; I saw it on your lips. I tried to will the train to stop, just so I could say hello.

After seeing you, all of the youthful feelings and memories came flooding back to me, and now I’ve spent the better part of a month wondering what your life is like. I might be totally out of my mind, but would you like to get a drink with me and catch up on the last decade and a half?

M -Goodreads

Review: This book started off GREAT. Matt, a divorced National Geographic photographer in his mid-30s, sees his old college girlfriend (they lost touch years before) on a moving subway train. Unable to find her on social media, he places an ad in a local paper where people try to lost connections.

Told in alternating narratives and timelines, we meet Matt and Grace at NYU while they build a friendship that eventually blossoms into more and Matt and Grace in present time trying to create a new normal with each other as adults. I really enjoyed their college timeline. I felt their relationship was very real and sweet. The book wasn't as interesting in the present day timeframe and while I really liked Grace, I was not a fan of Matt. I really did not like how he responded to Grace's "surprise" and I was waiting for him to call out his ex-wife for her actions...and I was not satisfied with how he addressed that. 

Overall, I liked it. 

Grade: 3/5

It Ends With Us

Book: It Ends With Us
Author: Colleen Hoover

Lily hasn't always had it easy, but that's never stopped her from working hard for the life she wants. She's come a long way from the small town in Maine where she grew up - she graduated from college, moved to Boston, and started her own business. So when she feels a spark with a gorgeous neurosurgeon named Ryle Kincaid, everything in Lily's life suddenly seems almost too good to be true.

Ryle is assertive, stubborn, and maybe even a little arrogant. He's also sensitive, brilliant, and has a total soft spot for Lily, but Ryle's complete aversion to relationships is disturbing.

As questions about her new relationship overwhelm her, so do thoughts of Atlas Corrigan - her first love and a link to the past she left behind. He was her kindred spirit, her protector. When Atlas suddenly reappears, everything Lily has built with Ryle is threatened.

With this bold and deeply personal novel, Colleen Hoover delivers a heart-wrenching story that breaks exciting new ground for her as a writer. It Ends With Us is an unforgettable tale of love that comes at the ultimate price.

This book contains graphic scenes and very sensitive subject matter.-Goodreads

Review: This is a difficult book to review. On one hand, it's Colleen Hoover-which means it's a page turner and something you want to finish in one reading session. Her books are rarely straight up romances or love stories, there is some other element that drives an emotional punch. This book was no exception. It deals with an important issue that affects a lot of families and for that, I give her a lot of credit. 

I wish I could join in the other glowing 5 star reviews (seriously, my entire Goodreads feed is 5 star reviews for this book) but while I found it very "readable" and think it brings visibility to an important issue, there was something lacking. I expect to finish a Colleen Hoover book in tears with a book hangover but I finished this and literally picked up another book almost immediately. I never fully bought into the relationship of Lily and Ryle (side note-has anyone heard this name before?). Everything was extremely rushed. They barely saw each other for the first several months of their relationship as she was building her business (she buys a building for a floral business with no business plan outlined..but of course it becomes a huge success) and he's in his final year of surgical residency. Before we know it they are married. The course they take was sad but not surprising. 

The strongest part of this book were the journal entries from Lily, which gives insight into her home life as a teenager and her friendship with Altas (another unique name). I found teenage Lily far more developed as a character than adult Lily. Her homelife was tragic and heartbreaking. 

Overall-not my favorite Hoover book (I love the Hopeless series) but I still liked it. 

Grade: 3/5

The Lost Girls

Book: The Lost Girls
Author: Heather Young

In the summer of 1935, six-year-old Emily Evans vanishes from her family’s vacation home on a remote Minnesota lake. Her disappearance destroys her mother, who spends the rest of her life at the lake house, hoping in vain that her favorite daughter will walk out of the woods. Emily’s two older sisters stay, too, each keeping her own private, decades-long vigil for the lost child.

Sixty years later Lucy, the quiet and watchful middle sister, lives in the lake house alone. Before she dies, she writes the story of that devastating summer in a notebook that she leaves, along with the house, to the only person to whom it might matter: her grandniece, Justine.

For Justine, the lake house offers a chance to escape her manipulative boyfriend and give her daughters the stable home she never had. But it’s not the sanctuary she hoped for. The long Minnesota winter has begun. The house is cold and dilapidated, the frozen lake is silent and forbidding, and her only neighbor is a strange old man who seems to know more than he’s telling about the summer of 1935.

Soon Justine’s troubled oldest daughter becomes obsessed with Emily’s disappearance, her mother arrives with designs on her inheritance, and the man she left behind launches a dangerous plan to get her back. In a house steeped in the sorrows of the women who came before her, Justine must overcome their tragic legacy if she hopes to save herself and her children.-Goodreads

Review: Told in alternating timelines, The Lost Girls follows Justine in present day and Lucy in 1935. Justine is a single mother of two girls who has left her controlling boyfriend and takes her children to her great-aunt's Minnesota lake house, which she recently inherited. In 1935, Lucy (Justine's great aunt) details her summer vacation at the lake house, leading up to Emily's (her 6-year old sister) disappearance. 

I'm normally a huge fan of alternating narratives although when there are two distinct time frames, one is typically more enjoyable than the other. In this case...nothing really worked for me. I didn't care for either narrator and both story lines were extremely boring. I think this was well written and the last third of the book certainly picked up the pace, but it was a slow burn that never sparked. 

Grade: 2/5