Heavily Flawed But Enjoyable: A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J Maas

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Looming war threatens all Feyre holds dear in the third volume of the #1 New York Times bestselling A Court of Thorns and Rosesseries.

Feyre has returned to the Spring Court, determined to gather information on Tamlin’s maneuverings and the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees. But to do so she must play a deadly game of deceit-and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well.

As war bears down upon them all, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords-and hunt for allies in unexpected places.

In this thrilling third book in the #1 New York Times bestselling series from Sarah J. Maas, the earth will be painted red as mighty armies grapple for power over the one thing that could destroy them all.

Source: GoodReads

Note this review contains lots and lots spoilers for the first three books in the series.

This book was the most anticipated follow up to A Court of Mist and Fury.  A book that seems to have very mixed feelings amongst fans of this series-I personally like it, but I can understand why some people might not like it.  Especially, if they favored a particular ship.  For me, upon reread, of the series the twist that was going to happen in the second book was much more obvious than it was first read.  But I can still get how fans of that ship were pissed, but overall I liked the second book better than the first because of the character development that was done (Feyre is a lot more tolerable in that installment than the first).  Not that some of the writing was atrocious.  I literally cringed with some of the descriptions  metaphors that Maas used, but usually I can give purple prose writing a pass if the story is good enough.

At least that was the case in A Court of Mist and Fury, as for the follow up though…

Eh.

I really have mixed feelings about A Court of Wings and Ruin, there were some parts that worked alright.  Some parts that had me rolling my eyes.  And every time there was a sex scene I had to roll my eyes.  xtitndc8wjdnqupxnq

Let’s talk about what worked: the book held my interest.  That’s something.  Especially considering this is a big book at almost 700 pages.  Stuff happens throughout all of it, so that’s good and some of the interactions are nice. Some is the optimum word though because when Rhys and Feyre get too mushy this book turns into fae porn.  It’s that eye roll worthy.

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That’s who bad it is.

It’s probably in part that I hate the whole mate trope.  I know Maas tried to remedy it by saying there was some choice to it-whether or not you accepted the bond-but come on, with the amount of pressure that is given on these characters if they choose not to except the bond you know that there’s going to be some dastardly consequences.

Just going to say it now, poor Elain.

I didn’t get why there was a bond between her and Lucien to be honest about it.  Other than to have a reason for Lucien to not keep being Tamlin bitch-sorry for the grotesque language, but that’s pretty much what he is throughout most of the series.

The other randomness when it came to romantic relationships in this series was Mor.  There was build up between her and Azriel throughout most of the last two books, but because-and this is me totally theorizing on this aspect and it’s ONLY a theory-Maas was called out on the fact that her books lack diversity she decided for Mor to randomly be revealed as bi, with little or no character development to show that she had a preference for women in the past-in fact, she has the character state she tried to hide this aspect of herself by randomly sleeping with men to get away which I guess allowed Maas to get away without having character development.   I would be perfectly fine with this if it wasn’t so random, and if the relationship that had been building up was’t so sweet.  It was way better than Lucien and Elain at least, just saying.  But now knowing that’s not going to be an end game, I’m a little sad.  Especially since it just seems like the ship was thrown away to make Mor into a token character.  Had there been more development with Mor’s sexuality, I think I would’ve enjoyed this plot point better than I did.  As it was, it was more or like Maas was like, “Oh, shit.  They’re right.  I don’t have any diverse characters in this book, what if I make Mor bi.  That will fix it, and I’ll just change this ship with this ship and…I’m a genius”.

I should note though, Mor is not the only diverse character in the book.  There is a minor character that is mentioned to be bi and who is into threesomes and a minor extra whose a lesbian.

Yeah….it was pretty much tokenism.

gnjgblpghtcnsHonestly, if she wanted an actual QUILTBAG relationship that actually worked she should’ve just had Tamlin and Lucien get together already.  I would’ve been behind that, a lot more than I’m behind Lucien and Elain or Tamlin and anyone right now.

Probably my favorite character in this book (really in the series at this point) is Nesta.  I feel like this character remained the truest to what we were presented with in the earlier groups and grew accordingly.  I hope in future installments she’ll be a main character because she’s bad ass, vicious, and I just really like her over all.

So Nesta kept the book from completely falling apart in its later half.

Because God was the later half a bit of a hot mess.  Especially since Tamlin was such a douche canoe throughout the whole book.

It’s odd when I reread the first one, I thought maybe I’l see that Tamlin was a douche canoe from the start and Rhys wouldn’t come off as creepy as he did the first time I read the book.  And yeah, some aspects of that were there.  I mean, he’s practically useless Under the Mountain and once he and Feyre have sex the relationship pretty much falls apart, but he wasn’t near as controlling as he was in the later books or possessive.  And the creepy priestess made no impact on his life in the first one.  Hell, he even tells Feyre to leave in the first book and that she was not forced to stay in their lands.  While Rhys in the first book, I know Maas keeps saying he did what he had to do.  But drugging Feyre was not cool, even if it was to spare her from pain and a lot other shit that went down under the mountain.

And honestly, Rhys made a number of douche canoe decisions in this book that he said needed to happen but really were just made to facilitate drama.  And what he did to Mor….

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Mor really got shafted in this book on so many levels.  It’s like Maas took her hate out for this character in this installment and it just makes me fucking mad.

Is this book a great book, no.  Like the rest of the series, it is heavily flawed but it is an enjoyable read.  It has that crack-ish like quality to it that I see a lot in fan fiction and like fan fiction it suffers from a lot of problems.  While I would say that Feyre has developed over the series and is less of a Mary Sue than the lead character in Throne of Glass, there are still some obvious Sue-isms to her.  While I did like the turn the romance took in book 2, I’m not naive and know that the scenes that were between Rhys and Feyre have a cringe like quality to them.  Especially when Maas decided to bring in the whole mate trope.  Still, it’s a fun series.  And if you can look past the flaws and the ridiculousness of the series, and borderline offensiveness when it comes to how Mor was treated its an okay book.   Not what I hoped for, but it could’ve been much worse.

Overall Rating: A B.

 

Ripped From the Headlines With NA Tropes: 738 Days by Stacey Kade

At fifteen, Amanda Grace was abducted on her way home from school. 738 days later, she escaped. Her 20/20 interview is what everyone remembers—Amanda describing the room where she was kept, the torn poster of TV heartthrob Chase Henry on the wall. It reminded her of home and gave her the strength to keep fighting.

Now, years later, Amanda is struggling to live normally. Her friends have gone on to college, while she battles PTSD. She’s not getting any better, and she fears that if something doesn’t change soon she never will.

Six years ago, Chase Henry defied astronomical odds, won a coveted role on a new TV show, and was elevated to super-stardom. With it, came drugs, alcohol, arrests, and crazy spending sprees. Now he’s sober and a Hollywood pariah, washed up at twenty-four.

To revamp his image, Chase’s publicist comes up with a plan: surprise Amanda Grace with the chance to meet her hero, followed by a visit to the set of Chase’s new movie. The meeting is a disaster, but out of mutual desperation, Amanda and Chase strike a deal. What starts as a simple arrangement, though, rapidly becomes more complicated when they realize they need each other in more ways than one. But when the past resurfaces in a new threat, will they stand together or fall apart?

Source: GoodReads

When I saw the premises for this book I had to have it. It had a bit of rip from the headlines feel to it, i.e. the Cleveland Kidnappings, and add the element of Hollywood and I knew that I was either going to really like this book or not.

In the end, I had a bit of a lukewarm experience. A lot of things worked, but at the same time I wanted more from this book. In a way it suffered from New Adult Syndrome—meaning, instead of having a plot the book mostly focused on the characters lusting after themselves which lead to a sort of rolling your eyes experience.

Although, not too much because even though the plot was sort of meh, I did enjoy the two characters and there was some stuff about this book that really worked.

I really loved the character, Amanda, for instance. I thought she was well formed and I thought the PTSD was pretty realistic for the most part. The first chapter in this book was probably its best chapter. You could really see how broken Amanda was, and I was interested in reading the aftermath that followed. Maybe that was part of my disappointment in what occurred next. The book quickly flashes forward to years later, and while we’re told bits and pieces of what occurred after Amanda was rescued, I really wish we were shown some flashbacks. I share similar thoughts about her actual kidnapping and then subsequent captivity, but I can sort of understand why Kade might not want to show them—since this was Amanda dealing with the aftermath of the kidnapping rather the kidnapping itself.

Though, I was damn curious to know more about Jakes and his motivations besides being a creepy pervert in the vein of Ariel Castro.

While Amanda was very well formed, I was a little meh about Chase at first. I do think in the end Kade did the best she could with the guy, but he wasn’t exactly easy to sympathize with at first.

There were a few things about the plot that had me raise a few questions. Again, the book suffered from New Adult Syndrome and the plot only made an appearance when needed. And I really didn’t feel like there was adequate explanation about some of the characters at the end.

As for the climax, it just felt very Lifetime movie-ish to me.

Again, New Adult Syndrome.

Overall, I could really see 768 Days adapted into a guilty pleasure Lifetime Original Movie. God knows, it had all the right elements and tropes. However, the book itself wasn’t a total flop, it did have great characters. The thing is, this book would’ve been truly spectacular if more time was spent fleshing out their backstories and respective plots rather than focusing on hot they found each other/how sad their respective lives were.

Overall Rating: A B. I liked this one, but it wasn’t as good as I hoped. I don’t have any regrets reading it though, but I really don’t wish that New Adult Syndrome was a thing. It ruins lots of potentially good books.

I Prefer Bad Boy Bands: I Want It That Way by Ann Aguirre

Nadia Conrad has big dreams, and she’s determined to make them come true—for her parents’ sake as well as her own. But between maintaining her college scholarship and working at the local day care to support herself, she barely has time to think, let alone date. Then she moves into a new apartment and meets the taciturn yet irresistible guy in 1B….

Daniel Tyler has grown up too fast. Becoming a single dad at twenty turned his life upside down—and brought him heartache he can’t risk again. Now, as he raises his four-year-old son while balancing a full-time construction management job and night classes, a social life is out of the question. The last thing he wants is for four noisy students to move into the apartment upstairs. But one night, Nadia’s and Ty’s paths cross, and soon they can’t stay away from each other.

The timing is all wrong—but love happens when it happens. And you can’t know what you truly need until you stand to lose it.

Source: GoodReads

I want it that way….

I couldn’t find one with The Backstreet Boys so this is going to have to suffice.

Okay, imagine badly bleached hair.  Guys who shouldn’t be drooled over (but are).  And you have the late 90’s.  I love the title of this New Adult series.  It’s so nostalgic and fun and…that’s about all the nice things I have to say about it.

I am really skeptical about reading New Adult these days, because it’s a genre that just doesn’t work for me.  No matter how many chances I give it.  It’s too formulaic.  However, I was hoping I Want It That Way  (ugh, that song is perpetually stuck in my head now) would be different since it involved a plot device that’s not usually seen in New adult (single dad trope).

Let’s talk about the single dad trope,  it can either be a really good thing or really bad thing.  It just depends on how parenthood is depicted.

If portrayed realistically it can work really well, if glamorized…well, vomit time.

If you haven’t guessed by my tone, this is barf worthy.

Let’s be clear.  I do not have kids, but I have been around them enough to know that those cherubic faces aren’t always going to be innocent and cute.

Example of a child that is not cute.

I Want It That Way, would have you think otherwise.

Also, it really didn’t go into that much detail about how hard it is to be a single parent.  I have worked with several single parents in the past year, and let me tell you their lives  aren’t easy.  Money is very tight, especially when the other parent is not involved at all.   Finding a sitter is not easy either.  And let’s forget that finding a job that works around your child’s day care system isn’t easy.

So, most of them don’t have time to notice and sweet talk the hot coed next door into your bed.

But it’s fiction, MJ…

Yeah, work with child support cases for a year and then tell me it’s fiction.

Whatever.

I think this is one of those cases where real life bias sort of taints the reading experience, though that’s not to give credit to the book.

The New Adult formula is used to its fullest.  Nadia is the non-conventional pretty girl who falls in love with the BMOC.  Introduce half a dozen attractive coeds to have a series (check).  Of course, have them fall into the tropes of the used to be ugly but now gorgeous best friend, the man ho, and the hot token gay guy.  Everyone will get a spinoff save for the hot token gay guy, which is a shame because he’s the only remotely interesting character.

Side Note: New Adult is in desperate need of diversity.

Back to the New Adult cliches.  Nadia pretty girl, friends with lots of pretty people that equal spinoff potential, who is perfect in her classes and intent on paying back her parents for paying her college tuition.

That part made me gag a little bit (I gagged a lot when I tried to read this).

They’re her freaking parents.  Of course, they’re going to help her.  I really hate it when you have these heroines that make it feel like accepting your parents’  help is like taking charity and that you’re a greedy little moocher.  I just wanted to tell little Ms. Perfect off.

But again, digressing.

This book might work for someone else, but it didn’t work for me.  It was too formulaic and it sugar coated issues that should’ve been much more complex and less romantic.  Plus, hot dogs in macaroni and cheese with broccoli-excuse me, but gross.

Overall Rating: DNF.  I’m tempted to not give it a grade because while for me it fails, someone else who likes the tropes could really enjoy it.

There Goes My Theory: Wicked by Jennifer L Armentrout

Things are about to get Wicked in New Orleans.

Twenty-two year old Ivy Morgan isn’t your average college student. She, and others like her, know humans aren’t the only thing trolling the French Quarter for fun… and for food. Her duty to the Order is her life. After all, four years ago, she lost everything at the hands of the creatures she’d sworn to hunt, tearing her world and her heart apart.

Ren Owens is the last person Ivy expected to enter her rigidly controlled life. He’s six feet and three inches of temptation and swoon-inducing charm. With forest-green eyes and a smile that’s surely left a stream of broken hearts in its wake, he has an uncanny, almost unnatural ability to make her yearn for everything he has to offer. But letting him in is as dangerous as hunting the cold-blooded killers stalking the streets. Losing the boy she loved once before had nearly destroyed her, but the sparking tension that grows between them becomes impossible for Ivy to deny. Deep down, she wants… she needs more than what her duty demands of her, what her past has shaped for her.

But as Ivy grows closer to Ren, she realizes she’s not the only one carrying secrets that could shatter the frail bond between them. There’s something he’s not telling her, and one thing is for certain. She’s no longer sure what is more dangerous to her—the ancient beings threatening to take over the town or the man demanding to lay claim to her heart and her soul.

Source: GoodReads

I had a theory that Armentrout’s New Adult books didn’t do it for me because they really didn’t have a plot.  For the most part, I adore her Young Adult paranormal books.  The Dark Elements series is currently one of my top guilty pleasure series.  And I really enjoyed the early Lux books.  So, when she announce she was doing a New Adult paranormal novel, I was more than a little curious.

But when I finished…

Yeah, not that impressed.

I want to say that this book wasn’t completely useless.  It did have a few things going for it.  Like Tink, I enjoyed him even if he was a bit of a trope.  I also enjoyed how the New Orleans setting was woven into the book.  It felt realistic enough, and having been to some of the restaurants that were mentioned in the book I’m going to give it a thumbs up on that.

There were also some decent lines thrown here and there.  Then again, Jennifer always has a talent with banter.  I think it’s probably her strongest suite.  However, sometimes the banter can get a little too much as it did here.

It’s the same with the pop culture references.  I loved them, especially the Harry Potter and Supernatural stuff but it borderline-ed on too much.

Then again, I’m giving that a lot of leeway since this was self pub.

And I have to say for a self pub book, this one was very professional.  And shows how self pub should be written.  Even with all the flaws this book had, it still was something you could very easily see on the shelf at your local bookstore.

So, I give a huge plus for that.

That being said, I did not like Wicked.  Maybe it was because it involved fae.  I am just not a fan of them.  I can read a book about them, but it has to be done in such a way where the world is slowly built and the mythology makes sense.  Here it was more or less a secondary plot.

The main focus was on the romance.

Which I expected, but I really thought the faes causing a potential apocalypse plot would’ve been first and foremost.  But nope.  Most of the novel was focused on Ivy and Ren and getting over Ivy’s big secret-the death of her boyfriend which she sort of caused.

Honestly, I could care less about either Ivy or Ren.  It wasn’t that they were horrible people.  Just dull.  It probably didn’t help that I kept associating Ivy with Poison Ivy-because she looked just like her.  As for the relationship….it really was a bunch of insta love on one part.  And sort of Ivy’s part too.

I get that they’re probably going to deal with issues later on based on that cliffie.

But yeah, I don’t care.

And I think that was the worst thing about Wicked.  I just didn’t care…and to be honest I don’t care enough to finish this series no matter what cliffhanger Armentrout throws at me.

Overall Rating: A solid C.  It’s decently written, the storyline and characters are good enough, but there’s no pop to it.

It is My Mind, BTW: Losing It by Cora Carmack

Sick of being the only virgin among her friends, Bliss Edwards decides the best way to deal with the problem is to lose it as quickly and simply as possible – a one-night stand. But her plan turns out to be anything but simple when she freaks out and leaves a gorgeous guy alone and naked in her bed with an excuse that no one with half-a-brain would ever believe. And as if that weren’t embarrassing enough, when she arrives for her first class of her last college semester, she recognizes her new theatre professor. She’d left him naked in her bed about 8 hours earlier.

Source: GoodReads

First of all that cover.

Yeah, no bueno.

I’m sorry but out of all the stock cover images….

Yeah.

But it’s not time to be shallow even though this book would totally want you to be-shallow that is.  I have to review a book.

Let me say, I should’ve drank when I read this book and wrote the review.  It would’ve made the experience sooo much better.

However, I like to torture myself and keep my liver intact so no booze for MJ.  Instead, you get to deal with the annoyed sober version of me that forced themselves to read about half of this book before finally DNF-ing some book.

I should’ve know based on the summary that this one was going to annoy me.  I mean, it was about some idiot obsessing over their virginity.  Never mind that this is the twenty-first century and most women’s hymens are broken way before they actually have sex (I know, horseback riding causes you to loose your V-Card or at least your hymen).  That aside though, I still read this one mainly because I have been reading a lot of fan fics where with the awful teacher/student relationship and I thought, well, maybe it’s actually more bearable if the book is published.

It’s not.

It’s still creepy.  And I can’t even imagine a hot actor playing Garrick (though I tried imaging a young Cary Elwes-it only worked halfway I still had that creepy cover depiction of Garrick to deal with), so I don’t even get that thrill.

No Garrick’s just creepy.

Really, dude, it didn’t occur to you that dumb as rocks Bliss was a student.

Well, maybe he thought she was too stupid to be a student.

That’s actually logical.

But both of them live in an apartment building that is dominated by students.  It really shouldn’t be difficult for the idiot to put two and two together.

That aside…then there’s Bliss.

Stupid, stupid, Bliss.

Who only adopts a cat to validate a lie.

That’s not cure, in my opinion it’s animal abuse.

But I should probably backup a little bit first? You’re probably like what’s she talking about.

The gist of Bliss’s lies or should I say the gist of this book is that Bliss is obsessed with her virginity.  I don’t lie.  Read the summary.  But somehow or another she always freaks out before she loses her V-card enter the awkward scene about having a cat and having to get one to cover her tracks with Garrick.

Yeah, that’s the sort of stupid stuff that happens in this book.

But it’s a-okay because Bliss is cute and perfect ya’ll.  And like everyone loves her.  And she’s really this great actress even though she doesn’t realize it.  And like she’s such a Sue.

Yes, I said it.

Bliss you are a Mary Sue. You’re pretty and don’t realize it, have multiple hot men in love with you, a perky best friend, and you are oodles and noodles talented.  And guess what? Anyone with a lick of sense hates you.

Yep, I said it.

Of course, no one hates you in your world.

How could they?

You are a special snowflake after all.

To be honest, I might’ve had the stomach to finish this one if I hadn’t read a bad NA book before it.  This is just one of those genres you can only take in small doses.  And even though I want to really enjoy it, I really can’t.

No plot.

Bad characters.

= Negative Review.

Overall Rating: DNF.  I tried, but I couldn’t connect with Miss Mary Sue  Bliss.  And as for Garrick not even imagining him as Wesley can make up for his douchiness.

You’ve Worn Out Your Welcome: Stay With Me by J Lynn (Jennifer L Armentrout)

At 21, Calla hasn’t done a lot of things. She’s never been kissed, never seen the ocean, never gone to an amusement park. But growing up, she witnessed some things no child ever should. She still carries the physical and emotional scars of living with a strung-out mother, Mona—secrets she keeps from everyone, including her close circle of college friends.

But the safe cocoon Calla has carefully built is shattered when she discovers her mom has stolen her college money and run up a huge credit card debt in her name. Now, Calla has to go back to the small town she thought she’d left behind and clean up her mom’s mess again. Of course, when she arrives at her mother’s bar, Mona is nowhere to be found. Instead, six feet of hotness named Jackson James is pouring drinks and keeping the place humming.

Sexy and intense, Jax is in Calla’s business from the moment they meet, giving her a job and helping her search for Mona. And the way he looks at her makes it clear he wants to get horizontal . . . and maybe something more. Before Calla can let him get close, though, she’s got to deal with the pain of the past—and some very bad guys out to mess her up if she doesn’t give them her mom.

Source: GoodReads

After Be With Me I vowed I’d never buy another J Lynn (Jennifer L Armentrout’s New Adult books) again.  They just weren’t really doing it for me.  But hey if the library has a copy and the summary is halfway interesting, I’ll give it a chance.

Result: Better than Be With Me, but the title could’ve been shortened by about two hundred pages and it still probably would’ve been too long.

It took me about a week to read this one.

That’s never a good thing since even when I’m at my most busy I can usually knock back four hundred pages at most in three days.

Ugh, this book.

What I did Like:

  • The Focus on Plot For Once: For once we have a plot and I do think it helped with the story by making me finish it.  And while the plot wasn’t a favorite of mine it had its moments.  Yes, they were overly dramatic and there were points I wanted to be like-come on-but it was at least refreshing to see something happen.
  • Calla: I like the ideal of Calla.  I like that she isn’t traditionally pretty (though save for her scar she is described as being gorgeous).  The idea of someone dealing with physical scars, actually was really a good one because most people aren’t book model perfect.  So, Armentrout I’ll give you that.  Though the execution…we’ll save that for the What I Utterly Despised Section.
  • The Non-College Setting: Glad to see some New Adult happening outside of campus.  I like the bar/small town setting.  Though I felt that Calla seemed a little too much like a fish out of water, despite the fact that she grew up in said town.
  • Cameo Easter Eggs:  I like how there was a cameo of a couple of characters that were non Wait For You universe.  They weren’t Dameon Black, but hey…if you’ve read some of Armentrout’s other books it’s still nice to see nods to the past characters.

What I Sort of Liked

  • Jax: Up until the last hundred pages I liked this guy.  Okay, his devotion to Calla was sort of fast.  But I thought he was sweet.  And I like that he wasn’t a traditional BMOC.  What I didn’t like was how non-challant he was about a clingy ex-girlfriend.  Calla deserved better than that.  Also, man up and tell her the truth about the bar.  It was pretty obvious to me and I don’t even live in your stupid town, dude.
  • The Melodrama: While I always find melodrama entertaining, there’s points I want to say come on.  And this book has it.  To be fair, this J Lynn book uses different types of melodrama than the previous books-there’s no violence towards women in this book.  Just living with a crack head.  And honestly, I thought some of this was ridiculously handled.  Especially the ending.

What I Utterly Despised

  • The Pacing: This book was waaay too long.  I really think it could’ve lost two hundred or so pages and still might’ve been too long.  I felt like there needed to be more to the arc.  But it’s hard to pinpoint just what.  I think it might’ve been that the love story seemed a little unrealistic to me.  While it isn’t exactly insta love, I thought Jax’s attraction to Calla was a little too obvious.  It just really didn’t work for me.  Also, I felt like whenever the book felt like it was too boring Armentrout would randomly throw in some unrealistic event to make me want to read more.  It really didn’t work for me.
  • Calla: While I like the idea of her, I don’t like the execution.  I just wanted this character to be a little more active than passive.  Way too passive for my liking.  And really, why can’t she actually do something more than mope, get someone to rescue her, and lust over Jax.
  • Catch Phrases/Repeated Phrases: Please, stop with the repetitive catch phrases.  It’s like fetch, it’s not catching on with me.  Maybe it works for some people.  But not moi.

Overall Thoughts:

Believe it or not, I did like this one better than Be With Me.  I thought I could buy Jax and Calla a little more than Jase and Teresa.   Not that it’s great.

Laughs.

It was extremely boring for me, but it will have it’s fans.

I don’t regret my decision to only read J Lynn books via the library.  However, the quality of this book has me sort of disappointed. The past few Armentrout books I’ve read (two books in the Dark Elements series and Don’t Look Back) have been fairly decent if not good.  It’s a shame that this one sort of interrupted that trend.

Overall Rating: C.  Good ideas, sloppy execution.

 

Toe Pick: The Edge Series by Jennifer Comeaux

I’m sort of into figure skating-big time.  So, if any book YA, NA, or just plain adult has figure skating involved.  So I couldn’t help but devour this series-even though it has a lot and I mean a lot of flaws.

To be fair to the series though, after the first book I sort of knew what I was dealing with so I sort of just dealt with the flaws.  And while I wouldn’t say that it was a perfect read it was an entertaining binge read.

Where We Meet the World’s Dullest Figure Skater: 

Nineteen-year-old Emily is new to pairs skating, but she and her partner Chris have a big dream-to be the first American team to win Olympic gold. Their young coach Sergei, who left Russia after a mysterious end to his skating career, believes they can break through and make history.

Emily and Chris are on track to be top contenders at the 2002 Winter Games. But when forbidden feelings spark between Emily and Sergei, broken trust and an unexpected enemy threaten to derail Emily’s dreams of gold.

Source: GoodReads

Yeah, Emily is a bit of a dull one.  Though to be fair, she did have a couple of moments.

To be honest, I just wanted to shake her a lot of the time and say grow up.  Especially on the parent front.  But I did enjoy her relationship with Sergei.  They did have chemistry.  And I like that their relationship wasn’t all instantly hot and heavy.  In a weird way, I like the fact that they waited.  Comeaux didn’t make it seem overly preachy and religious.  It was just a simple choice and after Sergei agreed that was that.

Though, I kept waiting them to eventually relent and bone each other.

Because obviously I watch too much daytime television and have not attended mass enough.

The figure skating scenes were done quite well too.  In fact, I’d say this was the strong suit of this series.  All the sequences, the competitions, the coaching, it seemed fairly realistic.  A bit vanilla maybe.  But realistic enough.

What I did have problems with though were the characters.

Emily is a bit of a Mary Sue.  Her mother….God her mother was insufferable.  The sad thing is this installment is the mother character at her best.  She just goes downhill.  I didn’t help that Emily completely let her boss her around when she’s a grown woman.  Have a little backbone, darling.  Mommy shouldn’t have a say in who her twenty-year-old dates.  And for that matter, barge in on her apartment with not even checking with her.

It’s called boundaries.

The side characters also seem remarkably under developed.  I wish that Comeaux would’ve taken more time with Em and Chris’s relationship they are figure skating partners after all.  But you really don’t see Chris, unless there’s a skating competition.

Sergei was relatively interesting.  He had a backstory and I did like that he didn’t pressure Em and in fact pushed her away.  Honestly, he was probably the best character in the book.

In the end, I didn’t love this one or hate it.  I pretty much gave it a middle of the road rating (C+).  While it didn’t thrill me it didn’t have me raging.  If you want a cute skating romance you might give it a try.

The sequels though….

Where I Want Emily to Pick Me Up a Bottle of Vodka from Duty Free so I Can Tolerate her Mother:

Emily’s skating career and personal life have never been more golden. She and her partner Chris have won every competition they’ve entered this season, and she’s found the man of her dreams in her coach Sergei. But when one of the biggest competitions of the year takes Emily and Sergei to Russia, Sergei’s past explodes into the present and makes Emily doubt everything in their future.

Source: GoodReads

Meh.

Besides, expanding on the Sergei backstory this one was really a letdown thanks to Emily and that painted old biddy of a mother of hers.

Oh, and Elena who was borderline slut slammed-thank God, she did not do an actual play on Sergei (I was so betting on it).

You know, this could’ve been an interesting plot to explore, but it was really boring for the most part. Honestly, I can describe the book like this: Emily and Sergei have some cornball cheese scenes, figure skating (which is actually written pretty decently), past secret threatens cornball romance, Emily freaks out, figure skating mishaps, montage time (but without the music), leaves to climactic figure skating scene and romance.

Not at all realistic.

But again, you don’t really read these things for realism.

I think I could’ve handled a lot of this if it hadn’t been for the mother character and for Elena.

At least with Elena, I could sort of understand her emotions.  Though I had a difficult time buying the whole immigration issues for both her and Liza.  But then again, most people aren’t going to have a vein popping after reading this sense they didn’t take immigration law.

They just might have it popping for Elena acting like she stepped out of the cast of Rocky and Bullwinkle.

Once again, the worst character goes to the mother.

God, Emily, tell her off.  Bitch slap her.  Cut her out of your life so she won’t waste page count.  You know what, I’ll fix this for you, I’ll write an erotic fan fic scene between you and Sergei  and send it to her.  I’m sure she’ll have a coronary if I say you did it Turkish style or something that sounds borderline provocative since I doubt the prude knows what Turkish style is (probably thinks Downton Abbey is corrupting the youth). And then she can asks you questions about what Turkish style or whatever I say you and Sergei did.

Yeah…she’s that annoying and asks questions that are that inappropriate.

I feel like the entire plot though was just a waste.  As I said before, completely unrealistic and for Emily to be so willing to be a doormat it just has me wanting to shake her.

Grow up girl.

The skating scenes are probably the only thing that kept this book from getting a big fat F.  D.

Why Does This Even Exist? 

Two friends. Two dreams. One night that changes everything…

Ice dancer Aubrey London scoffs at romance. She’s focused on winning a medal at the upcoming Olympics and uses that as her excuse to avoid serious relationships. But when she and longtime friend Chris Grayden are thrown together by unforeseen circumstances, Aubrey finds herself questioning everything she’s ever known about love, complicating her life both on and off the ice.

Pairs skater Emily Petrov embraces romance. She and her husband Sergei still act like honeymooners two years after their wedding. As Emily’s coach, Sergei provides constant support while she prepares to challenge for gold at the Olympics. But Sergei’s support might not be enough to help Emily overcome the one challenge she never saw coming.

With the Games only weeks away, Emily and Aubrey are on the verge of realizing their dreams. But one snowy, stormy night sets in motion a series of events that will test them in ways they never imagined, giving them more to fight for than Olympic medals.

Source: GoodReads

Fuck.

This one was fuck-tapcular. Once again, the best part was the figure skating.  However, unlike the rest of the books where the figure skating seemed fairly realistic there was a plot point that just had me shaking my head.

Like the rest of the book.

First, let’s talk about the structure of this one.  The first two were purely first person.  Throwing a third person POV in addition to the first at this point of the series seems a little odd and made the story feel disjointed.

I honestly wanted to connect to Aubrey, but I really couldn’t.  Her dark past, well, I get how it could affect her, but it’s none of her damn business.  To hate your mother for the choices she made in her own marriage.

Ugh.

So judgmental these characters, I swear.

Oh, and let’s not forget the queen of judgmental herself…Em’s fucking bitch of a mother.  Yeah, I’m cursing when it comes to this character now.

Yes, I wanted to do something like this to her.

Seriously, you don’t lecture your twenty-four year old married daughter about the appropriate use of birth control and go through her stuff.  This character needs boundaries and fast.

She’s not merely a helicopter mom, she goes way beyond that.

Then there’s the whole plot.  Comeaux just had to go with the whole baby plot.

No, I can’t believe that a women rapidly approaching her second trimester would be able to skate in the Olympics with twins.  If you Google pregnancy you’ll find that the symptoms are double with twins.  So, the mere fact she’s not throwing up on the ice  is rather amazing.

I also have to say I just love how its automatic that they’re keeping the babies.  The babies were conceived at a bad time.  At least there could be some talk about termination, and yes I know they’re married but let’s get real here there are terminations in marriages. It just seemed realistic that this should’ve been discussed.

But of course we’re not even going to go there and we’re just going to skate in the Olympics while three months pregnant with twins.

For reals.

I couldn’t even enjoy the gold medal scene because I just kept thinking how stupid this is.  And to be honest, Em never talked about having kids and is totally okay with the idea.

Why is it so hard to believe a woman might not want babies?  Why do babies automatically equal happy endings?

Sigh…

And I didn’t even enjoy the third person romance like I was hoping.

So yeah, compared to the others this one fail on its face.

While the series technically ends there, Comeaux started a spinoff series which I’m going to review in this binge review as well (because I was ill advised to hit the buy button on my Kindle)

Courtney Stronger Than Emily Till She Gets Her Inner Titty Baby On

Falling hard never felt so good.

Pair skaters Courtney and Mark have one shot left at their Olympic dream. They vow not to let anything get in their way, especially not Josh and Stephanie, the wealthy and talented brother and sister team.

The heart doesn’t always listen to reason, though…

The more time Courtney spends with sweet, shy Josh, the harder she falls for him. But they are on opposite sides of the competition, and their futures are headed in opposite directions. Will their friendship blossom into more or are their paths too different to cross?

Source: GoodReads

The good news: the main character is more developed in this spinoff for the first 3/4s of the book.  I have to say it’s refreshing to read a character who’s not exactly perfect (unlike Emily).

The sad thing: Josh holds nothing to Sergei and has the personality of a dead noodle.

So it’s essentially the inverse of the Sergei and Emily narrative.

I do think that Comeaux has developed as a writer.  The prose was much easier to read in this one.  And as always her figure skating scenes were well written. And I was a little stunned by them.

Character development is still a major weakness of hers though.  As well as melodrama…

That ending.

Man, did it make me hate Courtney who I actually had liked up until that point.

Why did you do that Comeaux?  It made Courtney seem just so childish and then there’s some moments of stupidity I just wanted to hit my head on the desk.

I also wonder how old Courtney is.  Her best friend is a fifteen-year-old and that seems a bit awkward for a twenty something.

The chemistry between Josh and Courtney was luke warm at best.  I didn’t really feel connected to either of them when they were together, and though Courtney’s actual partner might have better chemistry-alas, that was not meant to be.

I think with this one you might want to check it out if you had any old interest in the original (parent) series or are a huge fan of figure skating.

Overall Rating: C+

Overall Thoughts:

These books are quick reads.  Like with Vampire Academy they’re not great literature.  They’re not even on the same caliber as Vampire Academy, but they were still interesting enough for me to pickup.

Grade: C

My Series Resignation: Vampires of Manhattan by Melissa de la Cruz

The Vampires of Manhattan is “hipster horror”–the memorable characters from her Blue Bloods series are older and cooler than before, trying to build “Millennial” lives in the bustle of Manhattan while battling forces of evil and, of course, each other.

Hero of this sexy, paranormal action tale is Oliver Hazard-Perry, former human conduit, and Manhattan’s only human-turned-vampire, now the head of the Blue Bloods Coven. When his all-too-human lover is found murdered on the eve of the coven’s annual Four Hundred Ball–a celebration meant to usher in a new era in vampire society, and to mark the re-unification of the Coven after decades of unrest and decay–Oliver is devastated.

Now, not only is he trying to create a new world order for the immortal elite, he’s the prime suspect and is stalked by the newly installed head of the vampire secret police. Because according to the new rules, vampires who take human life can now be executed. Burned.

How can an immortal sentenced to die fight back? He has to find the killer–and the answers lie deep in vampire lore.

Source: GoodReads

Dear Blue Bloods Series,

I’m sorry I can’t do this anymore.

I read all seven full length books, the half books, even those two rather hellish spinoffs that I’m forced to read in order to understand you.  But I have to stop here with your hipster horror attempt at New Adult.

Though, it’s not adult.  Everyone is in their later twenties or early thirties and acts like they’re about forty.

So no.

Not New Adult since there are no random hookups with the BMOC.

I sort of wish there was though.

Maybe it would’ve made this book more tolerable instead of  hearing just how old thirty is.

Really, most late twenty somethings don’t act that old.

I guess I actually have to talk  about the actual book that did me in.  This one is broken up into three main viewpoints.  Though, we do sort of  have a couple of interludes in a couple of other people’s heads.

I think the best way for me to fully explain to you why I’m breaking up with you is to talk about each of the parts.

A. Ara:

Why is she even in here?

Seriously?

Change her coloring and she’s basically Deming Chen Part II.  In a lot of ways, this really did remind me of a rehash of Misguided Angel, especially Ara’s part.

Though, Deming wasn’t disgusting enough to like smelling like body odor.

Besides, she liked the way she smelled, like sweat and hard work, after spending the last seventy-two hours sitting on her suspect. (1)

Is that suppose to make her endearing?

It doesn’t.

More or less her POV was used to do all the detective work.  Personally, I wish they would’ve stuck us mainly with Kingsley who actually kicks butt.  Ara was just…well, disgusting.

And I really have to wonder how someone who was nicknamed Minty back in grade school can like smelling like sweat and perspiration.

The romance or romances that Ara has our even more ridiculous. Both seem forced.  One for the pure sake of a lame plot point, and the other one because de la Cruz just can’t couple anyone.

I’m sorry book, people who don’t wear deodorant shouldn’t be viewed as attractive.

Sorry.

B. Oliver and Finn:

Snooze fest.

Honestly, I wonder what happened to Ollie.  In the first series, he was probably the most decent character out of the lot of them.  Now though, he’s an asshole just like the rest of them.

It’s sort of ridiculous how he’s not the same character.  I literally groaned when he started inner monologuing it about how he was no longer the nerdy kid and he was now ripped.  Yeah, there was an actual quote that said that don’t believe me.

He’d been a skinny human teenager, but he was almost thirty years old now, and to put it bluntly, he was ripped. (13)

So, needless to say Ollie’s head has grown about three times the size it normally was.

I was almost gleeful when his bimbo girlfriend ruined his life.

God, I hated Finn.

She really is a sad excuse of a Schuyler replacement who just impulsively decides to do something stupid with little to no buildup.  And I can’t help but saying she sort of deserved her fate.

C. Mimi and Kingsley: 

Mingsley is the only reason I really was giving this book a chance.  To be honest, until I heard that Mingsley was going to be in the story I wasn’t going to even bother.  I mean, the whole hipster horror thing in the summary is a bit (a lot ) of a turnoff.

But what did de la Cruz do to my beautiful couple.

She ruined them.

And that ruined us, book series.  It really did.

The characters regressed.  And Mimi was just stupid and sort of sad to read about.

A receptionist.

Seriously, Mimi Freaking Force a reciptionist. No.  Just no.  She should’ve been at least a brassy news anchor if not the star of her reality show or something that had her face in the tabloids every other week.

But no, she’s just doing a job that pays probably $12.00 an hour and is still living in a high dollar neighborhood. And complains about being old even though she’s barely thirty and has those Blue Blood genes.

And Kingsley. Well, I felt bad for him for about 2/3 of the book until he basically cheated on Mimi with an underage girl.

Ew!

But he was lonely…

No.  Fucking excuse.

But he looked seventeen…

Still no fucking excuse.

But he and Mimi had great makeup sex.

That apparently is a fucking excuse in Mimi’s world.

Infidelity is a huge issue in any relationship.  And even though Kingsley doesn’t completely go through with it.  If I was Mimi, I’d not have him in my pants the same night.

This is a character who is suppose to be in control.  Having her just be like oh the sex is good and you’re like forgiven is just sort of sad.

No thank you.

D. The Last (Gimmicky) Chapter:

Well, surprise.  Surprise.  It’s Sky and Jack.  Obviously, there to get you to read the next book.  With just a hint about what’s going on with them to make you want to read it.

Funny, I never saw the two of them as vineyard owners.  Nothing in the previous books indicated to me that this would be the route they’d go.  Of course, that’s what Allegra did.  And I guess Sky is suppose to be a duplicate of Allegra.  But like every other character in this book, the career choice makes no freaking sense.  And I’m sorry, I think tacking the kids thing on and having them leave is just stupid.

You know, if you want them to have kids have them wait.  People can still reproduce in their late twenties/early thirties.

Oh, I forgot, thirty=ancient for de la Cruz.  Not flirty like it was for Jennifer Garner.

Regardless, I really don’t know if I’ll continue.  I think this really is it book.  I mean, I’ve read fan fics that have done better justice to these characters.

So excuse me but I’m out of here.  Going to find myself  a new book romance.

MJ

Another Nauseating NA Book: Be With Me by J Lynn (Jennifer L Armentrout)

 

I officially give up on Jennifer L Armentrout (alias J Lynn) when it comes to New Adult thanks to Be With Me.

This has to be one of the blandest, most contrived NA books I’ve read in awhile.

In general, I find NA books to be bland.  I read them though out of some weird hope that one day one will break out from the norm of the abusive cute coed and BMOC and wow me.

It has not happened yet.

Jennifer L Armentrout is a writer who could’ve made an impact on NA.  I enjoy her early Lux novels and she has some interesting ideas, but her NA books really are lackluster and average to me.  Really, Wait for You is really a derivative of Tamara Webber’s Easy, except that book written better and the character seemed realistic (despite Lucas’s over dramatic backstory).  Frigid, was completely pointless.  Sure, it had a bit more of a plot than Wait for You, but at least Cam and Avery’s relationship was developed unlike Kyler and Sydney’s.

I really didn’t really have a lot of hope for Be With Me, but I did think that maybe, just maybe, Armentrout’s third NA book might be better than the last two.

It was worst.

The leads are insipid.

There’s Teresa who is really just your standard NA girl.  Super skinny, despite eating junk all day, who seems to attract every guy on campus.  Especially the BMOC who just can’t be with her because her past.  Well, in this case both of their past.  Rolls freaking eyes.

I really, really, couldn’t stand our leading man in this one.  The only thing Jase had going for him was his secret, which really had no role whatsoever in this story except for making him broody.

Tess’s backstory was a bore too.  The way it as played out was over dramatic and contrived that…well, General Hospital was more realistic.

That big tragedy on campus had me seething on so many levels.  For one thing, it wasn’t realistic.  I’ve watched enough Sherlock and CSI  to know that cops aren’t that daff.  Okay, more CSI  on that statement since Sherlock would probably say that cops can be idiots.  But still, it was sort of obvious that that character’s fate wasn’t as it seemed.  And based on the circumstances, you’d think the police would conduct a proper investigation.

But you know what Stephenie Meyer.  It’s fiction.

Oh, fuck that.

To be honest, that whole plot point bothered me on so many levels because it involved sensitive subject matter.  Finding out your roommate “hung” herself, does not mean start boinking the object of your lust especially in your brother’s apartment.

Really?  Really?

That disgusting tidbit aside, what really bothered me about this book was how copy/paste it felt.  A lot of these scenes seemed fairly repetitive from Armentrout’s other New Adult and Adult books.  I honestly skim through them because I already know what they’re going to say and they bore me.

Same with the courtship.  You know the characters aren’t going to get together for a hundred or some odd pages even though they are practically together (in an Armentrout book).  I get that this happens in a lot of YA and NA books, but in Armentrout’s case it’s always about ten times worse especially in the NA books.  I mean, seriously a guy brings you cupcakes every day and you don’t think he likes you…

I usually know that when these scenes of OMG sex is so good with him are included that they characters are going to fight and that they’ll make up sooner than later because the great sex was so good that means they were meant to be together.

That and Armentrout will throw some hasty life and death situation in front of them.

At the end of the day, I just really don’t know what to say.  This book isn’t horrific.  I’ve read worse NA books, believe it or not.  But I expect better from an author with Armentrout’s potential.  I really, just really, found this book to be cliche and full of soap opera melodrama.

Overall Rating: Three out of ten (C-).

I’m Not Easy to Please: Easy by Tammara Webber

Easy is one of those new adult books that has received hype filled reviews that I just had to review it, even though NA is a genre that annoys the heck out of me.

Did it live up to it’s hype?

Once again, the answer is yes and no.

If we’re just comparing it to the rest of the substandard genre that in New Adult, it was fantastic.  Unlike most of these romances, there is actually a relationship built between Jacqueline and Lucas.  And Lucas, for the most part, didn’t act like a dickwad (I know, truly amazing for a NA book).  That being said, if you just look at the book as a book it hardly stands out at all.  And I found a few points to bitch at.

Yeah, I know.  I almost always bitch at something.  I’m sorry.  I over analyze things.  It’s one of the many reasons I went to law school besides the fact I like to complain, yell at people, and be viewed as an evil person by the majority of Americans.  Oh, and I’m a Slytherin.

Babbling aside, this book really did have some problems.

The biggest being that Shreveport, Louisiana was described as a romantic getaway.  Um, no.  I went to Shreveport last weekend since my sister was playing a gig there and it sucked.  Save for the fact I won eighty bucks in one of the casinos with a friend.  But that still sucked because we lost eighty bucks as well.  And the only place to halfway eat there is a Krispy Cream Donuts.  And while I like donuts, they don’t make a balance diet and if I don’t eat something with sustenance I get a headache.

Man, I am really off topic in this review.

The point is, it was little fact checking things like this that made me go postal when reading this book.  Another example, Jacqueline was a music major.  Yet she hardly seems to be taking music major classes. And she seems to have a ton of free time.  I know she wasn’t at a conservatory, but even state music programs are grueling programs.  Especially music ed.  The fact that she has time to take an Economics and Art History course during her junior year has me raising my eyebrows.  Though I did love how Webber did mention the fact that you have to sign up for practice times.  That’s true in a lot of schools these days (though most people just end up practicing in their dorm).  I also had to roll my eyes at her transferring so late in the game.  Most people would’ve just waited till they went to grad school to go to a conservatory if they were in her position-it’s cheaper that way too since you don’t have to repeat every course.  Plus, with a state school you’re actually forced to take cores so you get a legitimate degree if you ever decide you hate playing your instrument.

Once again, I’m digressing.  Probably because I could relate to this part and Webber got some facts wrong.

You know, if it were only these two things that bothered me about the book I would’ve given it a higher rating.  I really would’ve.  I’ll be the first to admit that I like to nit pick.  But it wasn’t just minute details about sucky Shreveport and a music education degree that seemed more like a Mrs. degree that had me fuming, it was how the whole rape plot was handled.

Parts of it were handled quite well.  I liked the fact that Webber kept reminding the audience that it was not Jacqueline’s fault what happened to her and anyone else.  But, and it’s a big but, I thought everything was a bit over dramatic.  Take Buck’s character.  Yes, I get he’s a rapist.  But he just seemed to be characterized as a rapist.  There was nothing else behind his motivations-other than he wanted to screw Kennedy one over by screwing Jacqueline.  I honestly would’ve liked to see him more fleshed out.  As much as I hate to say it, rapists  aren’t one dimensional monsters.  And that’s what I think what makes them truly scary, that they have sides of them that you’d think oh this person isn’t the scum of the earth.  Some of the most disgusting people can be charming, but Buck was characterized as being a sex fiend.  Only his fellow frat boys said he was a good old boy.  I just wish Webber would’ve showed that side a little more.

I also thought that Lucas’s whole backstory with the rape was a little too much.  While I get how it tied up everything it just seemed a little too neat-in a grisly type way.  And way too convenient.  But once again, new adult and convenient are synonymous with each other so I can’t complain about that that much.

Though the eyes were rolling, people.

I think the best thing about this book was the relationship between Jacqueline and Lucas.  It wasn’t insta love.  And they didn’t screw each other like bunnies before Christmas and break up like in typical NA fashion.  It seemed realistic enough.  Though it was sort of creepy that Lucas didn’t outright admit he was Landon from the start, but when you’re dealing with the likes of Travis Maddox the guy gets a break.

If your fans of the New Adult genre, by all means give this one a try.  I didn’t find it to be as spectacular as some people described it, but I didn’t outright hate it.  For what it is, it’s pretty decent.

Overall Rating: Six out of ten stars (B-).