Book Review: Seriously… I’m Kidding

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Synopsis:

Seriously… I’m Kidding is a lively, hilarious, and often sweetly poignant look at the life of the much-loved entertainer as she opens up about her personal life, her talk show, and joining the judges table of American Idol.

Purchase From:

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Review

According to Goodreads, I started this book in September 2016. As much as I love Ellen this book just didn’t hook me and it was a book I definitely didn’t have a problem putting down, multiple times. Even so, Ellen’s wit and natural humor definitely made me laugh a few times and I highly recommend listening to the audiobook, rather than just reading the book.

One of my favorite parts about listening to this book five years after it was first published is remembering all the things Ellen has done and been through. She discusses her coming out and her brief stint as an American Idol judge, which I totally forgot about. She also jokes about her frustration with Pixar making sequels to just about every movie except Finding Nemo, which was extra funny now that the sequel has been made (and was very good).

Ellen also dropped some words of wisdom and advice that were so ridiculous I couldn’t help but laugh out loud, even while I was doing a run. This book just reminded me how incredibly kind and amazing Ellen is and I was happy to learn a little bit more about her by listening to this audiobook. I just wouldn’t listen to it again.

Borrow or Buy: Borrow

Stars:

3 stars

Favorite Line:

“When you take risks you learn that there will be times when you succeed and there will be times when you fail, and both are equally important.”

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Book Review: The Rose & the Dagger

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Synopsis:

In a land on the brink of war, Shahrzad has been torn from the love of her husband Khalid, the Caliph of Khorasan. She once believed him a monster, but his secrets revealed a man tormented by guilt and a powerful curse—one that might keep them apart forever. Reunited with her family, who have taken refuge with enemies of Khalid, and Tariq, her childhood sweetheart, she should be happy. But Tariq now commands forces set on destroying Khalid’s empire. Shahrzad is almost a prisoner caught between loyalties to people she loves. But she refuses to be a pawn and devises a plan.

While her father, Jahandar, continues to play with magical forces he doesn’t yet understand, Shahrzad tries to uncover powers that may lie dormant within her. With the help of a tattered old carpet and a tempestuous but sage young man, Shahrzad will attempt to break the curse and reunite with her one true love.

Purchase From:

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Review

*Warning: There will be spoilers from The Wrath & the Dawn in this read. Read at your own risk!*

I wanted to love this duology but overall it was overhyped to me. The first book got better, so I was able to look past my issues with it but The Rose and the Dagger was just such a huge disappointment.

This novel pretty much begins where the first book left off. Shazi now has to figure out how she can break the curse on her husband, Khalid, so they can be together. However, she, along with her family, are now living in the desert with Khalid’s enemies, which includes Shazi’s first love, Tariq. Needless to say, the situation is complicated.

My biggest issue with this book was how big magic ended up coming to play in the story. In the first novel, Shazi and her father’s ability with magic was briefly mentioned but not in such a way that I thought it would be such a huge part of solving basically every issue in this novel. The magic that basically took over the story just seemed like such a cop out to me, especially with the introduction of Artan, a skilled magician, and his whole backstory.

Don’t get me wrong, I liked Artan has a character but we just met him and all of sudden he becomes this big player in the story. His addition to the story, along with Shazi’s magical carpet, changed this series from A Thousand Nights retelling to an Aladdin retelling and I didn’t really like the shift.

Additionally, how the issue of the curse was resolved just seemed very anticlimactic to me. The curse was made out to be the worst possible thing every so I was expecting something crazy to happen and I just kind of felt meh when everything was resolved. I’m not sure what I was expecting but it wasn’t that. I felt that way about pretty much all the conflicts in this book. I just expected the stakes to feel higher or something crazier to go down and it didn’t play out that way.

There were some deaths that did shock me so that was a nice surprise. This book really dragged for me and I didn’t start getting into until the last 100 pages when there was more action and everything starts coming together. Even so, I just did not love this novel overall.

My favorite part about this novel was probably seeing more of Irsa and her relationship with Rahim. Besides that though, I was majorly disappointed with how this story played out and I thought about not finishing it multiple times but decided to push through since I was doing a buddy read.

Unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll be reading more of Renée Ahdieh’s books. I didn’t love this duology and most of the issues I had with it were the same issues I had with Flame in the Mist. I just found that in her storytelling she doesn’t explain things. She throws out these ideas and solutions and you’re just supposed to be like, “Yeah sure that makes sense,” when it actually does not, in fact, back sense. It drove me crazy with this book as it did with her others.

However, I will say she definitely knows how to write romance and that’s what kept these books interesting for me. If you’ve read The Rose and the Dagger let me know your thoughts about it below!

Borrow or Buy: Borrow

Stars:

3 stars

Favorite Line:

“True strength isn’t about sovereignty. It’s about knowing when you need help and having the courage to accept it.”

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Book Review: Trusting You & Other Lies

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Synopsis:

Phoenix can’t imagine anything worse than being shipped off to family summer camp. Her parents have been fighting for the past two years—do they seriously think being crammed in a cabin with Phoenix and her little brother, Harry, will make things better?

On top of that, Phoenix is stuck training with Callum—the head counselor who is seriously cute but a complete know-it-all. His hot-cold attitude means he’s impossible to figure out—and even harder to rely on. But despite her better judgment, Phoenix is attracted to Callum. And he’s promising Phoenix a summer she’ll never forget. Can she trust him? Or is this just another lie?

Purchase From:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

Review

*I received a free advanced reader’s copy of this book from First in Line and B-Fest. This did not influence my review of this book in anyway. This is an honest review of the novel as I saw it. This novel was released on June 20.*

It’s officially summer, which means it’s time to pull out those contemporaries and get into a summer time vibe and Trusting You & Other Lies is the perfect book for that. Set at a family summer camp that was giving me serious Dirty Dancing vibes (the original, not the remake), we find Phoenix, her little brother, Harry, and their parents trying to pretend their family is way more functional than it actually is.

Phoenix is pissed at her parents because they’re in dire financial straits, but rather than tell Phoenix and Harry the truth they’ve been hiding it, though Phoenix has discovered their dirty little secret. Of course, rather than confront them she decides to be passive aggressive and has decided from the get go that she will not like this camp she’s being forced to attend.

Of course, that’s when Callum steps in. Callum is cute, mysterious, and everything you’re looking for in a summer fling. While Callum trains Phoenix to be a counselor it becomes more and more obvious that there’s an attraction between them, but Phoenix has serious trust issues, and not just because of her parents; her ex cheated on her right before she went to camp. As Phoenix tries to figure out her feelings for Callum (and his feelings for her), she also has to decide if she’s willing to forgive the ones who’ve betrayed her trust and learn to trust again.

While there were definitely some cute and swoonworthy scenes in this novel, I wasn’t all that impressed with Phoenix and Callum’s romance. Honestly, I wasn’t a big fan of Phoenix or Callum. They both annoyed me a lot throughout the novel and I just wanted to shake them and ask, “Why are you like this?” Harry was honestly my favorite character.

I was also kind of annoyed about some things that were mentioned and then never explained, mainly about Callum’s brother. I know Callum’s supposed to be mysterious but he’d just drop these tiny bombshells about his brother and then never say another else about it, which I found so irritating.

Besides that though, this was a decent romance and it was a pretty quick read. I probably wouldn’t read again but I didn’t hate it. Basically, it was meh.

Borrow or Buy: Borrow

Stars:

3 stars

Favorite Line:

“You are the porterhouse [steak]. The best. All those other girls, any other girl, they’re packing popcorn.”

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Book Review: Cheater

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Synopsis:

Lucas Thorn wasn’t born a cheater. All it took was a single moment—say, a certain disastrous incident on the night before his wedding—and boom. Reputation destroyed forever and always. So now he owns it. He has a lady friend for every night of the week (except Sundays—God’s day and all), and his rules are simple: No commitments. No exceptions.

But a certain smart-mouthed, strawberry blonde vixen is about to blow that all to hell.

Avery Black has never forgiven Lucas for cheating on her sister. And suddenly being forced to work with him is pretty much a nightmare on steroids. Of course, it does afford her the opportunity to make his life as difficult as possible. But no good revenge scheme comes without payback. Because he didn’t become the Lucas Thorn without learning a few things about women.

Now Avery’s lust for vengeance has turned into, well, lust. And if Lucas stops cheating, it’s definitely not because he’s falling in love…

Purchase From:

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Review

First, the synopsis of this novel led me to believe this would be an office type of romance situation in which the protagonists hate each other but they clearly also have chemistry and by having to work together sparks fly and they end up together. This was not that kind of book. Instead, I got a “let’s pretend we’re in a relationship for some reason and then while we’re pretending we realize it’s real” kind of story, which is not what I signed up for.

My biggest issue with this isn’t even that the plot was so very different than what I was led to believe, it was how the book got to this point. This is a bit spoilery but it happens early on in the novel and I’ll try to keep it as vague as possible.

Basically, Avery ends up sleeping over at Lucas’ apartment because she was drunk and his sister came over and thought that Avery and Lucas hooked up. Rather than just tell Lucas’ sister the truth, Avery decided it’d be better to pretend that they were actually dating and were in a serious committed relationship. Honestly, this was so ridiculous and only got more ridiculous when Lucas’ sister than told his mother about it and again, rather than just tell her the truth, he then played along with it until suddenly every one in Avery and Lucas’ families believed they were in a committed relationship.

Also, Lucas and Avery decided to continue the lie simply because they wanted their mothers to become friends again since they’d stopped talking after Lucas cheated on Avery’s sister Kayla with her other sister Brooke. Because somehow no one was upset that Lucas was now dating yet another sister of his ex-fiancé. Sure.

Truly, I thought the whole plot of this novel was outrageous and the only thing that saved it for me was that Lucas and Avery were pretty funny. The novel is told in their alternating POVs and there were a few lines that did make me laugh out loud. Plus, the two did have chemistry, which was nice.

Still, overall I thought this novel was sub par at best. I also didn’t understand this idea that Lucas was a “cheater.” Yes, he cheated in the past and in that way he was a cheater but him sleeping with different women every day of the week doesn’t make him a cheater. All of these women knew he wasn’t dating just them and agreed to it therefore I’m confused as to how what he was doing was considered cheating. It’s called being in an open relationship or just having multiple partners.

As long as everyone is involved is aware it’s not cheating and I hated that this book basically makes it seem like dating multiple people at once is problematic or being polyamorous is wrong. It’s not and this book shouldn’t promote this idea that it is. This idea that Lucas was a cheater was repeatedly hammered on throughout the novel, hence the title, and it thoroughly annoyed me all the way through.

So if you couldn’t already tell I didn’t love this book and I definitely will not be reading the sequel/companion novel. If you haven’t read this book, I definitely don’t recommend it but if you have read it let me know what you think.

Also, I’m currently running a giveaway on my Instagram. You can check it out here.

Borrow or Buy: Borrow it.

Stars:

2 stars

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ARC Book Review: Flame in the Mist

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Synopsis:

The daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has long known her place—she may be an accomplished alchemist, whose cunning rivals that of her brother Kenshin, but because she is not a boy, her future has always been out of her hands. At just seventeen years old, Mariko is promised to Minamoto Raiden, the son of the emperor’s favorite consort—a political marriage that will elevate her family’s standing. But en route to the imperial city of Inako, Mariko narrowly escapes a bloody ambush by a dangerous gang of bandits known as the Black Clan, who she learns has been hired to kill her before she reaches the palace.

Dressed as a peasant boy, Mariko sets out to infiltrate the Black Clan and track down those responsible for the target on her back. Once she’s within their ranks, though, Mariko finds for the first time she’s appreciated for her intellect and abilities. She even finds herself falling in love—a love that will force her to question everything she’s ever known about her family, her purpose, and her deepest desires.

Purchase From:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

Review

*I received a free advanced reader’s copy of this book from First in Line and B-Fest. This did not influence my review of this book in anyway. This is an honest review of the novel as I saw it. This novel will be released on May 16, 2017.*

I didn’t know this was a Mulan retelling until someone on Instagram said it was and that made me feel so much better because my first thought while reading was, “Is this supposed to be like Mulan or are the similarities just an unfortunate coincidence?” Once I knew it was a retelling I was more comfortable with the similarities between the plots and I also liked how much Renée Ahdieh also changed it for her own story.

The first noticeable difference is this novel takes place in feudal Japan not Han China. However, there’s also a lot of other differences. I’d say the only real similarities is that Mariko disguises herself as a man and she develops romantic feelings for one of the men she ends up working alongside. Otherwise the stories are actually very different.

Mariko ends up disguising herself as a means of survival. Walking around in the jungle is never a good idea. Walking around in the jungle as a woman is an even a worse idea. It’s unfortunate but it’s also true. So Mariko takes on a new (male) identity and heads on a mission to find the Black Clan who she believes is responsible for trying to kill her and killing all those that were with her.

She of course finds them and figures out a way to weasel into their group. It’s not easy and she quickly realizes that while she’s smart in a lot of way, she’s not exactly “street smart.” Still, while working with the Black Clan she begins to make friends and even finds some romance.

Besides Mariko, the story also follows other characters. Told in the third person the story switches around a bit to Mariko’s brother, Kenshin, the Emperor, and members of the Black Clan. The jump in perspectives was nice because at points I found Mariko’s story to be a bit slow. I wanted action and she’s a planner, which is fine I just wasn’t really interested in all her plotting.

There’s also a great deal of mystery and magic in this novel and while I think the mystery did it’s job in making me want to know more it also left me thoroughly confused. Mainly, I was very confused by the ending and I’m not sure that I’m supposed to be. This book is the first in the series so obviously the cliff hanger sets up the next novel but I think the ending of this book was a plot twist that I somehow missed. I don’t want to spoil it so I’ll just say that the ending left me feeling unsatisfied, not entirely eager to continue on with the series but also curious to know what happens next.

Another issue I had with the novel was the romance. I won’t say who it’s with because one thing I did like about this novel was I wasn’t entirely sure at first who Mariko’s romance would be with. Not to say it took me by surprise when it happened but there’s definitely a few twists that I was definitely surprised by and liked a lot. What I didn’t enjoy was the ease in which the conflict between Mariko and her love interest was resolved. It just seemed way too easy to me. It was like there was this huge betrayal and then a few chapters it was like, “Never mind, we’re good.” I didn’t get it all and it didn’t sit right with me.

Besides that though, I did really love the romance. It made me swoon, which sounds cheesy to say but it’s true. Plus, I just really liked the relationship between them. Mariko spent her whole life feeling less than just because she was a woman and with the Black Clan and her love interest she began to realize that being a woman wasn’t a weakness or a fault, it was just who she was. I absolutely loved that and I loved that overall message of the book.

For that alone I really did enjoy this novel. Would I read it again? I’m not sure. Still, I think you should give this book a try. It’s really interesting and like I said, the romance is fantastic.

Borrow or Buy: Borrow.

Stars:

3 stars

Favorite Line:

“You are first and foremost a person. A reckless, foolish person, but a person nonetheless. If I ever say you are not permitted to do something, rest assured that the last reason I would ever say so would be because you are a girl.”

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Book Review: The Opposite of Loneliness

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Synopsis:

An affecting and hope-filled posthumous collection of essays and stories from the talented young Yale graduate whose title essay captured the world’s attention in 2012 and turned her into an icon for her generation.

Marina Keegan’s star was on the rise when she graduated magna cum laude from Yale in May 2012. She had a play that was to be produced at the New York International Fringe Festival and a job waiting for her at the New Yorker. Tragically, five days after graduation, Marina died in a car crash.

As her family, friends, and classmates, deep in grief, joined to create a memorial service for Marina, her unforgettable last essay for the Yale Daily News, “The Opposite of Loneliness,” went viral, receiving more than 1.4 million hits. She had struck a chord.

Even though she was just twenty-two when she died, Marina left behind a rich, expansive trove of prose that, like her title essay, captures the hope, uncertainty, and possibility of her generation. The Opposite of Loneliness is an assem­blage of Marina’s essays and stories that, like The Last Lecture, articulates the universal struggle that all of us face as we figure out what we aspire to be and how we can harness our talents to make an impact on the world.

Purchase From:

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Review

While I don’t think I’d ever read this book again (hence why it’s a borrow) I found this book to be interesting. Overall, I liked Marina Keegan and was both impressed and jealous of how great of a writer she was at her age, which made it even more heartbreaking that she lost her life before she really got to reach the level of success I’m sure she would’ve found.

I’d never read “The Opposite of Loneliness” but I vaguely remember hearing about Keegan’s passing and seeing the essay being shared on social media. Reading the essay now as someone who graduated college two years ago and preparing to enter grad school, it hit me hard and made me think, which is probably why it went viral. It’s well written just like pretty much everything else Keegan wrote that was included in this book.

Though there were some essays I certainly skimmed and a few short stories that I just couldn’t get into, with every piece I recognized how good they were. Maybe the story about the exterminator wasn’t my cup of tea but while it was non-fiction Keegan made it feel like an interesting (albeit kind of gross) story. Similarly, while I was confused by how some of her short stories ended they also left me wanting to read more because I liked the characters.

I say this all to say that don’t let my decision to never purchase this book dissuade you. This book was pretty great and it’s sad that Keegan didn’t get a chance to see how her writing touched so many people.

Stars:

3 stars

Favorite Line:

“I want to devote my life to the things that I love. I want to create something lasting that I’m really proud of.”

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Book Review: Roomie Wars

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Synopsis:

Zoey

Turning thirty is overrated. Who said you had to be married with a fabulous career and three kids? I had a great life. Single, freedom to do whatever I please, and best of all, stay home on a Friday night in my sweats, eating pizza while listening to the best of the ’80s.

I’m fine.

Drew

When a woman says she’s fine, she’s not fine. Zoey had it all. Stunning looks, ambition, the whole package. Then he fucked her up. He broke her.

And now I’m left picking up the pieces…again.

Zoey Richards, strong-willed and driven, settled on the geeky struggling med student to share her apartment with, not the perfect-in-every-way stud who would just distract her and undoubtedly break her heart.

When her ex comes back into the picture, Zoey seeks revenge and enlists her roommate’s help. All Zoey and Drew need to do is pretend to be a couple for one night. But one night can change everything. Refusing to break their “roomie code,” and in an effort to deny their feelings for each other, a war erupts between Zoey and Drew.

She lives in the past; he, for the future. If opposites attract, will these two gamble their friendship for a chance at love?

Purchase From:

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Review

I’m officially taking a break from erotica. All these books are starting to sound the same to me, which is why this book was particularly disappointing. At the start Drew is actually an average guy who’s a little chubby and is nervous around Zoey, who’s interviewing him to become her roommate. I thought this was cute and endearing and was ready to read a story where the guy isn’t some chiseled muscle man but is actually your average every day Joe. I should’ve known better (especially because of the cover; duh).

After the prologue the book jumps forward four years and Drew is now a health nut with a hot bod and now Zoe’s gained some weight and has become a slob because a terrible boyfriend she had that broke her heart. How stereotypical. If this didn’t already annoy me, Zoe and Drew’s personalities definitely did.

The book is told in alternating point of views and I didn’t find myself relating to Zoe nor did I find Drew particularly swoon worthy. Moreover, I found their jump from just roommates to something more strange because of how it played out. The synopsis makes it sound like it’s the return of her ex that sparks these feelings between Zoe and Drew but that’s not the case, it happens prior to that. I don’t want to spoil it so I’ll just say I found Drew’s quick flip to suddenly realizing he liked Zoe a bit unrealistic. Then again this is fiction so I guess I can allow that.

What really bothered me was Zoe and Drew’s relationship after they realized they had feelings for each other. It became this strange back and forth where they both knew they had feelings for each other but then for some reason or another they decided not to pursue those feelings. I think I would’ve been okay with this if it didn’t take them literal years to finally get together. Literally, the last quarter of the book starts jumping around in time from months to years before you finally get the happy ending you expect from a romance novel and by then the ending seemed strange because after all they went through it then just took one small move from Zoe for them to finally be together. Thus begging the question, why fill these last 20 pages with a will they/won’t they saga that came from left field?

Overall, I obviously detested this novel. However, if you’re looking for a quick romance novel that you don’t have to think too hard about Roomie Wars is a decent choice. There’s a bit of smut and Drew and Zoe’s flirtation was fun at times but overall they’re indecision and the strange way their love story played out ruined this book for me. Definitely a borrow, although I was able to buy this book for free so if you’re curious I’m sure you can get for free on Kindle as well.

Stars:

2-stars

Favorite Quote:

“I like you just the way you are, Zoey Richards. Don’t change for anyone.”

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