"I spent my life folded between the pages of books." -Tahereh Mafi

Some of my reviews are normal non-spoilery reviews. But some of reviews contain lots and lots of spoilers to help you (and me!) remember what happened when the next book in the series finally comes out. Both review types are clearly marked.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Wide Awake by Shelly Crane

This review is spoiler free!!

DNF @ 29%

So boring. Emma wakes from a 6-month coma with amnesia. She doesn't seem at all curious about her life and instead spends her time pining away for her hot physical therapist, Mason.

The main problem I had with this book were the plot holes. Emma would reference something that had never actually been mentioned or she'd figure something out with absolutely no clues, simply because it was convenient. For example, Mason starts to ignore her, but shes not concerned, because she's magically figured out the reason why (but fails to share that information with the reader!). She assumes he's dating her counselor, which he doesn't deny, but then she magically figures out that's not true out of nowhere. 

I stopped right before she leaves the hospital, so I imagine later in the book she finds out more about her life pre-coma. But it just bugged me that she seemed so indifferent about it while in the hospital. Admittedly, it seems like pre-coma Emma was a bitch, but you'd still think she'd be a bit curious. For example, her mom brings her cell phone and some personal belongings to the hospital for her and all we get out of it is that she still likes lipgloss. Okay...there's nothing else interesting?? No texts on the phone? My phone contains my entire life - if I couldn't remember said life anymore, I'd be checking out that phone!

This book isn't awful, but it's just too boring to continue. 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Love by Numbers by Sara Donovan

This review is spoiler free!!

The beginning of this book is very boring and made me remember how happy I am that I do not, nor will I ever, work in an office. So much of the first book takes place at April's work and it is so boring. She's in HR, her crush is in sales. Ugh. Most people probably won't find this nearly as off-putting as I did, but I just really hate business and I generally find business people and their business-speak incredibly annoying.

April has had this huge crush on coworker Ryan for years. Ryan was my first problem in this book. He was just kind of a douche. Seriously, the first thing she ever hears him say is: "Hopefully the cheergirls will be on soon." Oh yes, because guys who objectify women are so attractive. And I could have gotten over that comment if he had gotten better or more interesting, but no, not really.

April invites Ryan out to drinks one night and he ends up hooking up with her roommate Holly. She's crushed. Even though when Holly asks if April likes Ryan, she lies and says no. Seriously? 

That's when April decides, with the help of her college psychology course, that she's addicted to love. And the treatment is to gain control over her feelings of love by making herself fall in love with her best friend Nathan. Because risking a 10 or so year friendship is an awesome idea. 

My second problem in this book is April herself. I just cannot identify with her. I love my husband, but I've never really cared about love as a concept - definitely not enough that I would tell myself I was in love with a man I had a 5 minute conversation with years ago. She is desperate to be in a relationship. When things don't work with Ryan, she immediately has to force a relationship with Nathan. And if that doesn't work out, then maybe she'll try to date her neighbor. Ugh! How about you just go out, have a one-night stand, and then enjoy being with yourself?? 

My third problem with the book is the ending. I won't go into it more than that because spoilers, but I was not satisfied with the way it ended. 

Monday, June 16, 2014

The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey

This review is spoiler free!!

I'm just not sure what to think about this one... The first quarter of the book was absolutely amazing! I'm not going to give much away about it because I think the beauty of the beginning of this book is that you really don't know what the hell is going on.

But then the middle part of the book was just...boring. Typical post-apocalyptic plot. Which was especially disappointing because the beginning was so awesome. The beginning focused mostly on Melanie, who was the most interesting and well-developed character in this book. In the middle we branched out to get perspectives from the other characters. And the other characters were just kinda boring. And I had a hard time emotionally connected to any of the characters besides Melanie. I think the 3rd person POV was to blame there, but also the writing mostly focused on actions and rarely on emotions. I like a little more emotion in my books.

But then the end! Wow, the end was amazing and not at all what I expected and just totally different from any post-apoc book I've read! I thought about giving up on this book around halfway through, but now I'm glad I stuck with it!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Bloodlines by Richelle Mead

This review is spoiler free!!

Fantastic. Not quite as amazing as Vampire Academy, but I think that's really because Sydney's great, but she's not as awesome as Rose (who the hell could be??). The bonus is lots of Adrian, which is wonderful. 

My one big problem with the book? It's a small scene, but it still bugs the crap out of me. Sydney's getting fitted for her school uniform is so upset that she's given a size 4 instead of the 2 she usually wears. Really? Is this the type of crap that should be in a young adult novel? Teenage girls are already given enough pressure to fit into societal norms that we have to make them feel bad about being a size 4?? I was hoping it would be dealt with but there are only a few little lines from Adrian about how she needs to eat more.

The Professional by Kresley Cole

This review is spoiler free!!

Okay, so this is not the kind of book that I would usually read: there's no evil government, there's no apocalypse, there's no vampires, there's nothing supernatural at all! This is just straight up erotica. With a lot of kink. But it's Kresley Cole and she's awesome so I had to give it a shot. Bottom line: if all erotica was this awesome, I'd read a lot more of it! 

First of all, the main character, Natalie, is getting her PhD in history with an emphasis in gender and sexuality. I'm getting my PhD in political science with an emphasis in the politics of sexuality. So I automatically love her. Oh and she's a self-proclaimed feminist, who's having some problems reconciling that with her new found desire for bdsm.
"It doesn't seem very progressive of me to get off on what we did. He ordered me around and basically trussed me up like a Thanksgiving turkey.""Visual, Nat, visual. Now my fap, fap, fap fodder is no more. Anyway, I'm of the feminist school of thought that says 'If mama like, then mama fucking do.' Correct me if I'm wrong, but you are too."I sighed. "I am."
And while she enjoys Sevastyan bossing her around in the bedroom, she refuses to allow it in any other aspect of their lives.

She has a hilarious bff who she still manages to keep in contact with even though her everything is being turned upside down and she's whisked halfway across the world. And there's absolutely no slut-shaming. Even though Natalie is a virgin (ugh, I know!), she doesn't judge her best friend Jess for being <i>very</i> sexually active.
"Seriously, you have no idea how much your situation is affecting me I've been stress-eating my way across Greece."I frowned. "You don't stress-eat-""Cock, Natalie. I was stress-eating cock. There, you made me say it, happy now?""Opa!"
You go Jess! 

The plot is there. It's believable enough I suppose. But, this is erotica - the plot is not the point. If you're looking for some well-written smut, this is it!

If I Stay by Gayle Forman

This review is spoiler free!!

This was a good, quick read. Mia is in a car accident and essentially has an out of body experience. She then has to decide whether she should try to stay alive or if she should go. Her family died in the car accident, so it's understandable that she'd want to just go. She was close to her family, as we see through flashbacks. 

Most of the book is flashbacks. The flashbacks are where you learn about Mia, about her family, about her best friend Kim, about her boyfriend Adam. Most of the flashbacks are sweet and somewhat emotional. But they can be a bit scattered - jumping around from a month ago, to a year ago, to 10 years ago. 

For such an emotional concept, the book didn't make me feel a lot of emotion. Books make me cry easily. The saddest thing about this book was the concept, but the actual content didn't make me too emotional. This was good, but not great. 

Ashen Winter by Mike Mullin

This review is spoiler free!!

I love Darla and I love their relationship. She's smart and strong but she has some vulnerabilities as well. Their relationship just gets stronger and more real. They aren't together because it's the end of the world and there aren't many other options out there. 

As much as I love them together and as painful as it was for them to be apart, it was nice to see Alex surviving the world on his own. He's grown so much since the beginning of the series and it's good to see that he can survive on his own. 

I also love the research and thought the author put into this world. I can still get into a book when an author fails to do this, but I still really appreciate it when they do. He didn't just do his research on the effects of a super-volcano, but on other stuff as well. The conditions in the refugee camps that FEMA sets up are horrible - they're basically there to keep the people in the Midwest from trying to get to the (somewhat) better conditions in the East. I'm an optimist when it comes to government - I believe that the government does have the power to solve some problems. But it's believable that the government wouldn't be able to fix this and I think FEMA has demonstrated in the past that they're not the best at emergency management. So it makes sense that the FEMA camps are awful. And even more that they would be run by a private organization. Just one more argument against privatization.

Ashfall by Mike Mullin

This review is spoiler free!!

A believable apocalypse and it seems like the author actually did his homework to make it somewhat accurate. Some parts were a little boring, but things picked up around halfway through. I also liked how there's a good mix between bad people and good people. So many apocalyptic books/movies assume that everyone will turn evil when the apocalypse happens and I just don't buy that. Lots of people in this book and good and try to help others. And some people are bad and hurt others. 

The Camelot Code by Mari Mancusi

This review is spoiler free!!

This book is ridiculous! In the best way possible!! I love Mari Mancusi books because they're so fun and adorable and ridiculous! 

This story is told from 4 different perspectives (but all 3rd person POV). First we have Sophie, aka Lady Bella, who spends most of her time playing a Camelot based mmorpg with her best friend Stu and another guy named Melvin. Stu, aka Lord Vanquish, has a secret crush on Sophie and even with all the drama and danger happening, is generally more worried about asking her to the upcoming school dance. Then there's Arthur. He's not king yet, he hasn't pulled the sword from the stone, he knows nothing about his destiny. He dreams of being a knight and being able to marry his best friend Guinevere. And Guinevere, who's...well, she's there.

Guin accidentally drops a super important magical scabbard into the Well of Dreams, transporting it to the 21st century. Without this scabbard, history will be horribly changed. So Merlin enlists the help of Sophie to find it, transporting her back in time.
"How familiar are you with Arthurian legend?" he asked her as he led her back into his office.""I'm a level seventy-nine Camelot's Honor druid. What do you think?"

Merlin, by the way, is actually Melvin, the random guy her and Stu have been playing Camelot's Honor with for years. Of course. Because of course he's been able to hook up an internet connect in Medieval times. Hey, just go with it!
"It's good to meet you in real life at last. I'm Merlin," he said, holding out a hand." Though you might better know me as Melvin-Oh-One, your super leet healer from Camelot's Honor."

In the meantime, Arthur tries to go after the scabbard, transporting himself to the 21st century. Now Merlin needs someone to stand in for Arthur, otherwise who will pull the sword from the stone and become High King?? Sophie offers up Stu and Merlin transports him to the past as well. 
Merlin ran a wrinkled hand through his shock of white hair. "Well, you know that sword in the stone quest you wanted me to run your character through?" he asked. "What if we...well...what if we did a real-life run-through? It won't level you, of course. But it would definitely save my life. Not to mention the future of the world."

While Stu is pretending to be Arthur, Sophie goes back to the future to convince Arthur to go back. Which is a lot harder than it sounds. The 21st century is pretty awesome to poor kid from Medieval England. 
Arthur stared at him in disbelief. "Everyone's equal here?" he repeated, not sure if he was understanding right. "I mean, even the serfs?""Sure. Even those of us who surf," Tristan agreed.

The time travel stuff in this book doesn't make a lot of sense, but that's okay with me. This book isn't hard sci-fi and doesn't try to be. This book is just plain fun - I giggled repeatedly! There's plenty of geeky references to Star Wars and Back to the Future and such. And the budding romance between Sophie and Stu is just plain sweet. I love how adorably geeky both of them are. 

The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith

This review is spoiler free!!

This book was just plain cute! A quick, easy, sweet ya romance. It's not super deep. Or even super believable. But it is cute. 

Both characters were likable and easy to identify with. While they're apart, their stories focus a lot on their families, which was great. Owen's mom died recently and I really liked his story with his dad as they're both dealing with their grief and what life is supposed to look like after that kind of tragedy. 

Owen and Lucy are apart a large part of the book. It's difficult to have a believable romance story about a couple that has spent so little time together. 

Outshine by Nola Decker

This review is spoiler free!!

This is an enjoyable, light-hearted book. I really liked the characters in this book. Gabe is a human lie-detector and Jessa has super-human strength. I wasn't sure about Gabe at first. His brother goes missing and he's happy about it. I love my little sister so I thought that obviously Gabe is a douche. Well, turns out his brother is pretty awful. Like really awful. 
I reminded myself I shouldn't feel happy that my brother was missing. Even though yesterday he glued all the pages of my math book together. And, last week he poisoned my fish, spilled gasoline on my favorite sweatshirt, and made a crowd laugh by ramming my head into the rear end of the stone mascot outside the gym.
And he gets even worse when we actually meet him. So I think Gabe was probably pretty justified in not wanting him back. As a human lie-detector, Gabe has a heightened sense of morality and Jessa's is...well, a little under-developed. With her super strength, she kinda enjoys violence a bit too much. So they compliment each other well. 

The plot doesn't make a whole lot of sense and isn't very scientifically sound. But I'm okay with that. But if you're the type that needs everything to be well-explained, then this might not be your book. But it is fun and the characters are interesting and the romance is pretty sweet. 

Tristant and Elijah by Jennifer Lavoie

This review is spoiler free!!

This book is adorable. Tristant has had a crush on his seemingly straight classmate Elijah for years. When Elijah visits him at work one day, they discover a mysterious old letter in his great-great uncle's book. Together they attempt to uncover what it's all about.

I love Trisant.

Attending parties had always been awkward for me, and this one was no exception. When the music blared loud enough to vibrate the windows, did you knock or just walk in? What if you didn't know the person well? And then there was the matter of once you actually got inside the house: everyone stared at you, trying to figure out who you were and what you were doing there.
Very relatable. But he's also very dense. It takes him forever to figure out that Elijah isn't so straight. Even after Elijah kisses him, he still doesn't think he's gay. Really, dude?

There's basically two stories in this book - the romance between Trisant and Elijah (and Elijah gradually coming out of the closet) and the romance between Tristant's great-great uncle Glenn and his classmate Jesse, told through Uncle Glenn's journal. The differences between their situations are illustrated beautifully. Obviously being gay wasn't so accepted in 1909. I've done a lot of research on gay history (for my dissertation and also just because it's super interesting). It was nice to read a book that acknowledges the immense progress that's been made in the last century. While Elijah is scared to come out, he doesn't have to worry that coming out will mean being thrown in jail.

How awful to have lived back then. Today was bad enough, with queer teens getting ridiculed every day. But at least we could be out, and most of didn't have to give a shit what others thought about us if we didn't want to. But Uncle Glenn...

Monday, June 2, 2014

The King by J.R. Ward

This post contains lots of spoilers!!

So this book is mostly about Wrath and Beth having a baby. Beth really wants one; Wrath doesn't. But drama happens and they end up with a son (named Wrath, or LW) and they're both super happy. Yay! 

The glymera, at Xcor's urging, attempt to dethrone Wrath because any child he has with Beth wouldn't be 100% vampire. They're able to work their way around it by dissolving their mating and going through with a human wedding instead. Through all the drama in the book, Wrath finally comes to terms with being king. He appoints Abalone, an honorable member of the Council who's father helped his own father, to be his chief cleric. Abalone gets him in touch with commoners to help instead of messing with the glymera. At the end of the book, Wrath dissolved the monarchy and the Council (take that glymera bastards!) and makes it a democracy instead. And then tears up the dissolution of his and Beth's mating. But of course he's unanimously elected to a life term as king. Yay!

But of course, so much other stuff happens that's unfinished in this book. So many storylines in this series to keep track of!!

Xcor and Layla: Xcor makes a legal attempt to dethrone Wrath. Layla is upset. She meets with him and tells him that he can have her as long as he stops going after Wrath. He agrees. His right-hand man Throe is not so pleased. There are very few bits with the two of them in this book so things progress very slowly. I like Xcor more and more. I mean, I don't like that he's trying to mess with Wrath, but he seems like he's going to keep getting more interesting.

Trez (and iAm) and Selena: Trez is into Selena, but he doesn't think he's worthy. Apparently she's into him as well. But she has some sort of disease - not sure what, but she's going to die and soon. Of course she doesn't tell Trez this but she decides she'd like to lose her virginity before she dies. They have sex, but Trez stops once he realizes she's a virgin. He then tells her that he's have sex with thousands of human women and that he's a pimp (as part of his gig running the nightclub). Her response is silence. 

I love iAm! We got to see a bit from his perspective in this book, but I want more!! He did reveal to Beth that he's a virgin because he's been too busy keeping his brother safe to have time for females. By the end of the book they may have found a solution so that Trez doesn't have to return to the s'Hibe. Apparently the queen is pregnant - if she has a daughter, that daughter might be the heir instead of the one that Trez is promised to in which case he will no longer be needed. They made a deal with the Queen's executioner s'Ex (yes, that's his fucking name. sigh) - he leaves them alone for a bit and they give him their apartment and women to have sex with.

Assail and Sola: I almost liked Assail after this book. But he's still an effing drug dealer who's supplying the lessers with drugs so they can make money which they'll use to go after vampires. Not cool dude. In the beginning of the book, Sola has been kidnapped by Benloise, Caldwell's drug king. She is barely able to escape, but does right as Assail shows up to save her. He takes her home with him, where he's also brought her grandmother to keep her safe. Sola really likes Assail and he really likes her, but Sola is determined to get out of the life after what just happened to her. And Assail plans on becoming the new Caldwell drug king since he killed Benloise. So Sola and her grandmother (who is freaking adorable and totally Team Assail) leave to her safe house in Florida. Oh, and she still has no idea that he's a freaking vampire.