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…

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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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Book Review: Heartless

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Synopsis:

Long before she was the terror of Wonderland, she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love. Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next queen.

Then Cath meets Jest, the handsome and mysterious court joker. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the king and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into an intense, secret courtship. Cath is determined to define her own destiny and fall in love on her terms. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.

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Review

Full disclosure, my knowledge about Alice in Wonderland is very limited. It’s so limited that for some reason I got it in my head that the Queen of Hearts and the Red Queen were the same person, which confused me a bit while I was reading. In case you thought the same I’m here to tell you they’re two different people. My point is, I didn’t love this novel but I think that might be because a lot of the references to the original novel by Lewis Carroll went over my head.

For instance, I never knew the riddle, “Why is a raven like a writing desk,” came from Alice in Wonderland. I just thought it was a popular riddle until I read this book. So with that in mind please note that while I didn’t particularly love this novel that doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t but here’s why I personally didn’t enjoy it.

First, I found Cath to be particularly infuriating. I hate indecisive characters and Cath didn’t make any real decisions until about two thirds into the novel. Also, while I realize the King of Hearts was purposefully made to be stupid and irritating I found him too irritating and every time he appeared I wanted to skim through those scenes. The only characters I truly loved in this novel were Jest and Hatta. I especially liked Hatta because I found his back story to be very interesting and he was pretty snarky, which I loved.

Otherwise though, almost every character drove me crazy. Cath’s mother was particularly annoying and while her father wasn’t as bad he was also pretty bad. Cath’s friend and maid was okay but the fact that I can’t even remember her name is a clear indication that she wasn’t all that memorable (I looked it up; it’s Mary Ann).

Also, one character, Jack, was extremely annoying and rude to Cath and that’s never explained. I thought it might be because he’s like a childish boy who had a crush on her so he treated her poorly but it was never said. He was just irritating for no reason. It was so strange!

Overall, this is definitely a novel I won’t be rereading however I almost want to make this a buy just because the cover is so incredibly gorgeous. But alas, not even the cover could save this one for me. I loved The Lunar Chronicles and had high hopes for Marissa Meyer’s follow up to the series but unfortunately Heartless was sorely disappointing.

Stars:

2-stars

Favorite Quote:

“Sometimes your heart is the only thing worth listening to.”

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Book Review: Wayfarer

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Synopsis:

Etta Spencer didn’t know she was a traveler until the day she emerged both miles and years from her home. Now, robbed of the powerful object that was her only hope of saving her mother, Etta finds herself stranded once more, cut off from Nicholas-the eighteenth century privateer she loves-and her natural time.

When Etta inadvertently stumbles into the heart of the Thorns, the renegade travelers who stole the astrolabe from her, she vows to finish what she started and destroy the astrolabe once and for all. Instead, she’s blindsided by a bombshell revelation from their leader, Henry Hemlock: he is her father. Suddenly questioning everything she’s been fighting for, Etta must choose a path, one that could transform her future.

Still devastated by Etta’s disappearance, Nicholas has enlisted the unlikely help of Sophia Ironwood and a cheeky mercenary-for-hire to track both her and the missing astrolabe down. But as the tremors of change to the timeline grow stronger and the stakes for recovering the astrolabe mount, they discover an ancient power far more frightening than the rival travelers currently locked in a battle for control. . . a power that threatens to eradicate the timeline altogether.

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Review

*Warning: There will be minimal spoilers about Passenger in this review. Read at your own risk.*

I had high hopes for Wayfarer but ultimately I didn’t love it as much as I thought I would. My biggest complaint about Passenger was the lack of action and excitement but at the start of Wayfarer I was excited and sucked in. Etta and Nicholas were separated because a shift in the timeline and although I loved their romance it was great to see them off doing their own things and having to fend for themselves. However, as the story went on my excitement fizzled out and I was just wishing for this book to get to the point already. I wasn’t sure what the point was but I just couldn’t find it in me to care about these characters or their mission. I just wasn’t hooked.

That being said, I did enjoy learning more about the history of the travelers and Etta’s parents. At the end of Passengers I didn’t like Etta’s mom Rose and although I still don’t love her I feel like I at least understand her a bit more (even though there’s still some loose ends I have questions about). Similarly, this novel introduced a couple of new characters that I really liked and I definitely enjoyed Sophia much more in this book than I did in Passenger.

Also, while I didn’t find the plot all that attention grabbing I did think the writing of Wayfarer was incredibly beautiful and I took down so many favorite lines because I liked so many. Alexandra Bracken is an incredible writer, I just don’t think this book was for me. All the long descriptions about the places and the explanations about time travel made me want to skim but obviously these were necessary parts of the book.

Therefore, in case of Wayfarer I think it’s more of “it’s not you, it’s me” situation. I just couldn’t get into it and I was glad when I was finally done.

Stars:

3 stars

Favorite Line:

“It is no shameful thing to be beaten when outnumbered, not when you were brave enough to try. Nor is a scar or injury something to despair over, for it is a mark that you were strong enough to survive.”

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Book Review: Passenger

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Synopsis:

In one devastating night, violin prodigy Etta Spencer loses everything she knows and loves. Thrust into an unfamiliar world by a stranger with a dangerous agenda, Etta is certain of only one thing: she has traveled not just miles, but years from home. And she’s inherited a legacy she knows nothing about from a family whose existence she’s never heard of. Until now.

Nicholas Carter is content with his life at sea, free from the Ironwoods-a powerful family in the Colonies-and the servitude he’s known at their hands. But with the arrival of an unusual passenger on his ship comes the insistent pull of the past that he can’t escape and the family that won’t let him go so easily. Now the Ironwoods are searching for a stolen object of untold value, one they believe only Etta, his passenger, can find. In order to protect her, Nick must ensure she brings it back to them-whether she wants to or not.

Together, Etta and Nicholas embark on a perilous journey across centuries and continents, piecing together clues left behind by the traveler who will do anything to keep the object out of the Ironwoods’ grasp. But as they get closer to the truth of their search, and the deadly game the Ironwoods are playing, treacherous forces threaten to separate Etta not only from Nicholas but from her path home forever.

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Review

I was excited to hear about this series because I loved The Darkest Minds trilogy but then I heard mixed reviews, making me hesitant to pick this book up. I’ve had this book since I got it signed by Alexandra Bracken at BookCon in May of last year and in an effort to actually read all the books I own this year I decided to give it a try.

The novel is told in alternating third person POVs of both Etta and Nicholas. First of all, I love Nicholas for a multitude of reasons. I liked him as a character and a person and he totally made me swoon. Moreover, I truly appreciated how Bracken handled his character. Nicholas is half Black, living in the late 1700s. His mother was a slave and while of course people of color continue to face discrimination today, Nicholas has never seen a world where African-American’s are just defined as slaves or free. This was a perfect contrast to Etta who’s white and lives in the present day.

I really liked how Bracken handled the differences in Etta’s and Nicholas’ viewpoints as well as the acknowledgement of privilege. This contrast was also interesting to see in terms of Etta and Sophia, who has never known a time where a woman has rights and can work for herself. While Nicholas is cast aside by Grandfather Ironwood (who’s the absolute worst) because of the color of his skin, Sophia is never given a seat at the table because she’s the “wrong” gender.

Although I really did enjoy these ideas that Bracken brings up in this novel, I just wasn’t that interested in the plot. It wasn’t until very near the end where I finally felt like I was on edge of my seat and things were finally getting interesting. Prior to that, I kept waiting for something exciting to happen and the novel just didn’t give it to me. My favorite moments were the romance between Nicholas and Etta but besides that I just wasn’t that intrigued by what was happening.

So overall I’d say this novel was just okay. I liked the racial and gender issues that Bracken brings up in the novel and thought she handled those really well, but the plot just didn’t excite me enough to say this is a buy. That being said, I’m thoroughly enjoying the sequel at the moment so if you’re willing to push through Passenger like I did, Wayfarer totally makes it worth it.

Stars:

3 stars

Favorite Line:

“It matters not who you love, but only the quality of such a love. A flower is no less beautiful because it does not bloom in the expected form. Because it lasts an hour, and not days.”

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