Posts Categorized: Reviews

ARC Review: Daring Fate

November 13, 2016 Reviews 0 ★★★★

ARC Review: Daring FateDaring Fate (Silver Tip Pack #1) by Megan Erickson
on November 14th, 2016
Source: Megan Erickson
Also by this author: Strong Signal (Cyberlove, #1), Fast Connection (Cyberlove #2), Overexposed (In Focus, #4)
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four-stars
five-flames

I received this book for free from Megan Erickson in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

We all have tragic backstories in today's world.
I wake up chained to the wall of a dark cell aware of two things: I failed my sister, and I smell my enemy.
When I’m taken to meet Dare, the alpha of the Silver Tip pack, I’m sure I’m about to lose my throat. The last thing I expect is for the Alpha to recognize me as his fated mate. No way is he going to let me go now, and I still have to find a way to rescue my sister.
As I plot my escape to save her, I find that if I leave, Dare could be killed by power-hungry members of his pack. And now he’s more to me than my fated mate—my heart is involved. With time ticking by on my sister’s life, I have to make a choice I never thought I’d face—my sister’s life or my mate’s? That’s if I can survive the undead shifters intent on killing me first...

You guys, this book is amazing. I’m not a huge fan of any paranormal or shapeshifter romances honestly. However, I adore Megan Erickson and I was so excited that she was writing more M/M, so I decided to give it a shot regardless of the genre. Sure enough, Erickson managed to make me actually enjoy this genre. She’s written a beautiful cast of characters and a memorable and intense world. This was definitely outside of my contemporary comfort zone, but I’m glad that I read it. I recommend it if you loved Megan Erickson’s In Focus series or her Strong Signal series with Santino Hassell. Yes, it’s different but it still has Erickson’s signature witty writing and major swoony romance.

I loved Reese from page one. You could tell right away that he was such a strong fighter who didn’t back down for anyone, even for people much larger and stronger than him. He’s feisty and full of sass, which is something that I personally never get tired of seeing in an MC. I also loved how passionate he was about keeping his siblings safe. Reese has been through so much with the loss of his parents at a young age, so his siblings are really all that he has, which I respected. I think that he was a fabulous character and I really enjoyed being inside of his head.

Dare was somewhat difficult to warm up to at first. He was a bit of a controlling asshole at the beginning of the story. Aside from that, he still had such a kind heart and he did everything possible for his pack and also for Reese and his family. So yeah, he did earn more and more swoony points as the book progressed. He is still on the possessive side, but it never seemed like TOO much to me. I felt like Dare and Reese had an equal partnership, Dare wasn’t overly dominant over the entire relationship.

Not going to lie to you guys, there’s a ton of sex in this book. They literally have sex at around the 10% mark, so yeah, there’s not much actual relationship development before the physical side of the relationship begins. For the most part, this didn’t bother me since the scenes were actually so hot and didn’t feel entirely out of character since we knew all the context here. Reese and Dare are True Mates, and Erickson writes that sex is an important part of the actual mating process. Eventually though, they connect on more of a personal level as well, and the love that they have is something that we believe by the end of the story.

So I can’t totally judge on the paranormal aspect since I don’t have ANY adult paranormal romances that I can compare this one to. But I will say that I personally believed that the world building was fascinating. Erickson’s written a complete history about Weres, Noweres, and werewolves that’s so descriptive and never boring. I was truly wrapped up in this dystopian world that she’s created here. I also loved all of the supporting characters and can’t wait for more of their stories in the upcoming books for this refreshing new series.

Daring Fate was one of those books that I was unable to put down once I started reading it. Seriously though, as soon as I received the ARC, I started reading this in the middle of class, then hardly stopped reading throughout the remainder of my day. It’s a fast paced read, that becomes really intense at a certain point. If you read a lot of books in this genre, you’ll probably find the climax to be predictable, but I thought it was action packed and awesome to say the least. At this point, there isn’t anything that Megan Erickson writes that I’m not going to instantly buy and I recommend that you do the same!

four-stars

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ARC Review: One Snowy Night

November 12, 2016 Reviews 1 ★★★

ARC Review: One Snowy NightOne Snowy Night (Heartbreaker Bay, #2.5) by Jill Shalvis
Published by Avon Impulse on November 8th 2016
Pages: 160
Source: Edelweiss
Also by this author: Sweet Little Lies (Heartbreaker Bay, #1), The Trouble with Mistletoe (Heartbreaker Bay, #2), Accidentally on Purpose (Heartbreaker Bay, #3)
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three-stars
New York Times bestselling author Jill Shalvis returns to Heartbreaker Bay with a fun and festive holiday novella!
It’s Christmas Eve and Rory Andrews is desperate to get home to the family she hasn’t seen in years. Problem is, her only ride to Lake Tahoe comes in the form of the annoyingly handsome Max Stranton, and his big, goofy, lovable dog Carl.
Hours stuck in a truck with the dead sexy Max sounds like a fate worse than death (not), but Rory’s out of options. She’s had a crush on Max since high school and she knows he’s attracted to her, too. But they have history… and Max is the only one who knows why it went south.
They’ve done a good job of ignoring their chemistry so far, but a long road trip in a massive blizzard might be just what they need to face their past… and one steamy, snowy night is all it takes to bring Max and Rory together at last.

So One Snowy Night is ridiculously short. Obviously it’s a novella, but the actual story only takes up about 60% of the book, the rest of it is an excerpt for another upcoming Jill Shalvis title. I found that to be a little off putting, I wanted it to be even longer! The length didn’t truly give us enough time to really get into Rory and Max’s romance. I still thought it was an enjoyable and fun short read. It’s something that I’d recommend if you only have a small amount of time and would like to read something mostly light and not completely filled with angst. Though not my favorite, I’m still glad that I read this one.

We’ve learned a lot about Rory in the last book in this series, The Trouble With Mistletoe, since she works for Willa. Rory is a caring woman and I’m glad that she received her own story, even if it was simply a novella. She’s a strong and fascinating character, and I loved learning even more about her background and family. Rory is fun, there’s nothing more to say about it.

What we’ve seen of Max in the past has made me extremely intrigued about him. He works for badass Archer, who’s story we get to read in the next book. It’s clear that he’s intrigued by Rory since he stops by so frequently with his precious dog Carl. However, I was surprised and more than a bit confused by his anger towards Rory considering she did nothing wrong. He didn’t know her whole side of the story, but he still jumped to conclusions nevertheless. In my opinion, it was unnecessary drama. Since it was such a short story, luckily it didn’t last all that long, but I wasn’t a fan of it happening. His attitude in general took away some swoony points for me.

The romance was alright, aside from the drama that I already mentioned it. Based on what we’ve already seen of them, I was certain that Max and Rory would make a solid couple, and I wasn’t totally wrong about that. I just felt like it was imperfect with the ridiculous drama. The few sex scenes that we did see were pretty steamy and romantic. I definitely felt the chemistry between them. I feel like the “I love you” might have happened too quickly. You guys literally just got together and Max has had this terrible grudge for Rory over something that he didn’t know everything about. I get that it was a novella so naturally things moved faster than normal, but I didn’t like it.

This was a sweet romance between two characters that I’ve been curious about for awhile now. Despite my issues with Max, he was still a nice match for Rory. I feel like they were really able to balance each other out. I can’t forget to mention Carl, Max’s adorable dog. I loved him, and I also loved how much Rory obviously loved him. This wasn’t a perfect novella, but it was still an interesting one. I wanted more pages of this and less of a sample for Jill Shalvis’s next book. This was a quick read that I was able to enjoy in just a day.

three-stars

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As Long As You Love Me Review

November 11, 2016 Reviews 0 ★★★★

As Long As You Love Me ReviewAs Long As You Love Me (2B Trilogy, #2) by Ann Aguirre
on September 30th 2014
Pages: 352
Source: Purchased
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four-stars
four-flames
Most people dream about getting out of Sharon, Nebraska, but after three years away, Lauren Barrett is coming home. There are the justifications she gives to everyone else—missing her family, losing her college scholarship. And then there's the reason Lauren can't admit to anyone: Rob Conrad, her best friend's older brother. 
Football prowess and jaw-dropping good looks made Rob a star in high school. Out in the real world, his job and his relationships are going nowhere. He can't pinpoint exactly what's missing until Lauren comes back to town, bringing old feelings and new dreams with her. But he's the guy who women love and leave—not the one who makes them think of forever. 
Though she's terrified of opening up, Lauren's ready to take that chance. Because the only thing more important than figuring out where you truly belong is finding the person you were meant to be with.

I read I Want it That Way months ago, and immediately bought As Long As You Love Me after finishing it. For whatever reason, I put off reading Lauren and Rob’s story. I’m glad that I finally got around to reading it. I might have actually liked it just a little more than the first book, it’s pretty even though. Anyway, the thing that I loved so much about this was how the plot was rather unique and we also saw a different kind of hero and heroine. Rob and Lauren have both decided that college wasn’t for them, for different reasons but they still managed to reach that conclusion eventually. I’m always looking for New Adult stories that aren’t your typical college story with a pure heroine who meets a bad boy who somehow tames him or whatever. Yes, I’m aware that not all books in the genre are like this, but they still have a bad reputation for it nevertheless. Aguirre has written yet another fabulous NA story that I thoroughly enjoyed reading.

Lauren was an interesting character. She’s Nadia’s (MC from the first book) childhood best friend and roommate until she drops out of college and returns back to their hometown. Lauren was definitely smart enough to attend a college, but once she reached a certain point, it became more and more obvious to her that this just wasn’t her thing. She also had strong social anxiety that she did her best to cover up by being a big party girl, but that only lasted her so long before it all became too much. I really related to Lauren and her struggles with anxiety. I became frustrated with her for not facing her problems earlier than she does, but I still understand her reluctance and pain.

Rob was easily the highlight of this book. It honestly breaks my heart that he isn’t a real person. He was the popular football star in high school who got all the girls and had this awesome life. But he also finds that people judge him based on how gorgeous he is, and they believe that he doesn’t have much more to him than simply his looks. He’s found that girls basically use him because of his looks and isn’t the guy that any of them would actually settle down with. Rob was definitely a character who proved that their is a lot more to a character than just being book smart. Rob is ridiculously caring, loving, kind, and extremely swoony. I fell in love with him on page one and he continually proved that he isn’t your typical NA hero in all the best ways.

This book has one of my favorite trope’s: best friend’s brother. Lauren has had this huge crush on Nadia’s brother ever since she was a young girl. But she believes that he’s very much out of her league and has watched helplessly as he’s brought home girlfriend after girlfriend. Much to Lauren’s surprise, she later discovers that Rob has been attracted to her for quite a long time now, but just never acted on it. I like how the relationship between them doesn’t develop too quickly. They slowly start spending more time together when she helps him with his dream of flipping houses and also building furniture. I love that they build a real friendship before starting anything physical. Once they do get physical, the chemistry between them is very real. The sex scenes were steamy, but it wasn’t excessive either.

This was a fabulous book. The only real complaint that I have is the drama that happens at the end that keeps them apart. It absolutely drove me insane that Lauren treated him that way. I know that she was mostly coming from a caring place, but it was over the top and unacceptable to me. I also didn’t understand why Rob just believed everything that she said so easily, I feel like his actions throughout the book showed that he would have typically fought for her and not accepted what she told him. Other than that, the book didn’t have any heavy angst that really bothered me. I found this to be a fascinating story filled with wonderful characters.

four-stars

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Royally Screwed Review

November 4, 2016 Reviews 0 ★★★

Royally Screwed ReviewRoyally Screwed (Royally, #1) by Emma Chase
Published by Everafter Romance on October 18th 2016
Pages: 276
Source: Purchased
Also by this author: Sustained (The Legal Briefs, #2), Sidebarred (The Legal Briefs, #3.5)
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three-stars
Nicholas Arthur Frederick Edward Pembrook, Crowned Prince of Wessco, aka His Royal Hotness, is wickedly charming, devastatingly handsome, and unabashedly arrogant; hard not to be when people are constantly bowing down to you.
Then, one snowy night in Manhattan, the prince meets a dark haired beauty who doesn't bow down. Instead, she throws a pie in his face.
Nicholas wants to find out if she tastes as good as her pie, and this heir apparent is used to getting what he wants.
Dating a prince isn't what waitress Olivia Hammond ever imagined it would be.
There's a disapproving queen, a wildly inappropriate spare heir, relentless paparazzi, and brutal public scrutiny. While they've traded in horse drawn carriages for Rolls Royces, and haven't chopped anyone's head off lately, the royals are far from accepting of this commoner.
But to Olivia, Nicholas is worth it.
Nicholas grew up with the whole world watching, and now Marriage Watch is in full force. In the end, Nicholas has to decide who he is and, more importantly, who he wants to be: a King... or the man who gets to love Olivia forever.

So I recently read my first book from Emma Chase, Sustained, and it was absolutely amazing! I might have set my standards a little high on this one just because I loved that one so much. Anyway, this was still a wonderfully written and laugh out loud funny book. I think part of the reason why I didn’t love it more is I’m not that big of a fan of royal romances for some reason. I know, why would I even bother reading it then? Well, I already know that Emma Chase is a great author so I figured if anyone could make me enjoy these romances, it’d be her, and she definitely did to a degree. I look forward to reading the next couple of books in this series about some of the fascinating side characters. I recommend this if you’re looking for a lighthearted romance with an alpha male and a strong female who isn’t afraid to put him in his place.

For starters, Olivia is a fantastic character. She’s used to taking care of her sister and her mother’s beloved little bakery and coffee shop. Her mother was tragically killed awhile back, and her father is now an alcoholic. Now the bakery is potentially being shut down since Olivia can’t afford to make payments on it. The point is, she’s a survivor. She’s faced great tragedy in her life, but she hasn’t let that defeat her. She keeps going on, and making the best of her circumstances anyway that she can. She’s an interesting character and I enjoyed being inside her head. She’s a fabulous heroine, Chase couldn’t have written her any better.

So on the other side of things, we have Nicholas, who couldn’t be more different from Olivia. He’s a Prince, who’s been used to cameras following him wherever he goes from an extremely young age. Now, he’s being placed under a tremendous amount of pressure due to his grandmother aka the Queen, telling him that he has to get married as soon as possible. She’s giving him five months of freedom so he can pick out his wife, who has to be a royal or a natural born citizen of their country. Like Olivia, Nicholas has been through a lot in his life. He had to deal with the death of his parents when he was only a teen and then forced to pretty much become a man with tons of responsibility right after that. Nicholas is a solid guy. I also enjoyed being inside of his head. He was witty and made me laugh out loud many times. I loved Jake from Sustained more, but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t enjoy Nicholas in a different way.

The romance was a bit cheesy and fast paced in my opinion. It started out with Olivia not taking Nicholas’s crap when he offers to pay her a ton of money just to have sex with him. She obviously is pissed at him for treating her like a prostitute. However, I feel like she still forgives him way too fast. Before you know it, they are going on a date and then all of a sudden they are spending all this time together. It was cheesy at times because of the language in general. Some of it just seemed too cheesy and not something you’d actually say to one another in these situations. I felt like there simply wasn’t enough buildup in their relationship. It all moved at a ridiculously fast paced for me.

All in all, I did really loved Emma Chase’s writing. I can already tell that she’ll likely be an insta-buy author for me in the future. As mentioned earlier, I can’t wait to read Henry’s story then hopefully Ellie and Logan’s story after that. In Royally Screwed, Olivia and Nicholas were both very memorable characters in their own right. I thought that Olivia was such a strong and fierce character. Nicholas wasn’t as spoiled as you might think, he’s actually a caring guy who would do absolutely anything for his little brother. I’m sorry that I didn’t totally love it, but it was still entertaining and fun as a whole.

three-stars

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Bad Romeo & Broken Juliet Reviews

October 31, 2016 Reviews 0 ★★

Bad Romeo & Broken Juliet ReviewsBad Romeo (Starcrossed, #1) by Leisa Rayven
on December 23rd 2014
Pages: 417
Source: Purchased
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two-stars
When Cassie Taylor met Ethan Holt at acting school, sparks flew. She was the good girl actress. He was the bad boy about campus. But one fated casting choice for Romeo and Juliet changed it all. Like the characters they were playing, Cassie and Ethan's romance seemed destined. Until he broke her heart and betrayed her trust. Now the A-list heartthrob is back in her life and turning her world around. One touch at a time.
Cast as romantic leads once again, they're forced to confront raw memories of the heartbreaking lows and pulse-pounding highs of their secret college affair. But they'll also discover that people who rub each other the wrong way often make the best sparks

I had heard a lot of great things about Bad Romeo and Broken Juliet, so I grabbed both of them when they were on sale months ago and finally got around to reading them. Honestly, they weren’t absolutely terrible books, but I didn’t think they were anything special either. I’ve been striking out with a lot of romance novels lately, but the other ones I can’t even finish, so at least I was able to get through these books. They were actually rather entertaining and the author truthfully has a ton of potential. I just wasn’t a fan of the characters at all and wasn’t even rooting for them to end up together until very late in the story.  I might check out what this author writes next, but these books simply didn’t totally work for me and that makes me extremely sad.

Recently, I read and really enjoyed Act Like It, which was a hilarious and charming story that also revolved around two stage actors. So that was partially why I had high hopes for this one as well. Bad Romeo was hard to connect with for me. Though the author has potential, I didn’t like the general style of how it was organized. For example, there’s a lot of flashbacks that reflects on the majority of Cassie and Ethan freshman year at acting school. I didn’t mind that, but it did bother me how these flashbacks would get interrupted by chapters taking place in the present. In my opinion, the story would have worked a lot more smoothly if the flashbacks were a separate book, like a prequel so the whole book takes place in only one tense. I also felt like there could have even been the flashbacks first, then the present. It was just weird and so random how it was written.

Cassie was a fabulous character in the beginning of the flashbacks. She was so witty and hilarious. I laughed out loud several times of just funny little things that she said. She’s extremely feisty and not afraid to tell it like it is. I loved her spirit and her determination to make something of herself. She was a great and relatable character. Later in the story though, I kind of wanted to smack her. When she first meets Ethan, she doesn’t take any crap from him, but she slowly lets him walk over her. I absolutely hated watching this happen. I think that Cassie should have definitely known better and not given him another chance. I get that she’s young and he’s her first boyfriend. I totally would have likely done the same things if I was in her shoes. However, it was just frustrating to me nonetheless.

Ethan was easily why I didn’t like this book the way that I probably should have. I do see his appeal, he’s this dark and broody guy that every girl wants. But he’s seriously messed up. There’s nothing wrong with that, but he’s actions are just beyond awful. Clearly, I really really wanted to slap some sense into this boy. He was a lot more tolerant in the present, but I still found his younger self to be the actual worst. I feel like he’s just such a typical book boyfriend in the poor Edward Cullen or Christian Grey way. He’s damaged in a “hot” way, broody, and unfairly possessive over Cassie. He was ridiculously controlling to say the least. I wasn’t a fan!

In a way, I do get why people like Bad Romeo. But for me, it just wasn’t my kind of story. It was way too typical and not unique for the most part. I felt like the present and past chapters should have been more organized and not so random. I liked Cassie at times, and she’s why I bothered giving this two stars instead of one. Ethan was just your stereotypical romance hero who brought nothing new to the table. Yes, he changed in the present, but that doesn’t make up for the fact that he was a ridiculous douche in the past.

Bad Romeo & Broken Juliet ReviewsBroken Juliet (Starcrossed, #2) by Leisa Rayven
Published by Pan on April 28th 2015
Pages: 336
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two-half-stars
How do you fix a love that’s been broken beyond repair?
For years, Cassie Taylor tried to forget about Ethan Holt. He was the one great love of her life, and when he failed to return her love, a part of her died forever. Or so she thought. Now she and Ethan are sharing a Broadway stage, and he’s determined to win her back. Claiming to be a changed man, he’s finally able to say all the things she needed to hear years ago, but can she believe him? What makes this time different from all his other broken promises?
Ethan knows he can’t change their tumultuous past, but if he’s going to have any chance of being with the woman he loves, he’ll need to convince Cassie that her future belongs with him.
Don’t miss this stunning conclusion to the unforgettable love story that captivated over two million fans online.

So Broken Juliet is basically the same exact story as Bad Romeo. We’re still dealing with a combination of both the past and present in random ways. I don’t think that a second book was honestly needed. There could have been less flashbacks involving Cassie and Ethan’s first year, and more of a combination of all three years. This book was yet another fast read for me. I have to admit that I did enjoy the writing itself, just not the style. There’s not much new to say about this book. I liked it a little bit better just because I felt like Ethan was able to sort of redeem himself.

Cassie has changed a lot in the present. We saw in the first book how closed off and damaged she was. I did feel bad for Cassie, and I do hope that Ethan doesn’t screw up a third time. Cassie was pretty hesitant to get back involved with Ethan, as you might expect since he completely broke her not once but twice. Cassie is still feisty and awesome. I loved her roommate Tristan. I wouldn’t mind seeing him get his own book with a fabulous guy!

As mentioned, Ethan is a lot better in this book. I still don’t totally get why he suddenly decided in the past that leaving was the best thing for Cassie. It just felt like an odd time for him to suddenly wake up and realize that. Anyway, he is a better guy in the present who will do anything to get Cassie back. I think it’s good that he started seeing a therapist, because it’s clear that he had some major things that he needed to work out. He’s still not my favorite book boyfriend, but he’s more tolerable which is a start.

Though it wasn’t needed, this wasn’t a terrible book. I just didn’t really feel like the love story between Cassie and Ethan was all that epic. The love scenes in this one were pretty frequent, most of them happening in the past. I wasn’t bothered by the frequency, I just didn’t completely feel the chemistry in the first place. I hate it when I don’t like books that seem to have a lot of potential. I’m probably going to read more from this author in the future. I’m just disappointed with Bad Romeo and Broken Juliet.

two-stars

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Bad Feminist Review

October 30, 2016 Reviews 0 ★★★★

Bad Feminist ReviewBad Feminist by Roxane Gay
Published by Harper Perennial on August 5th 2014
Pages: 320
Source: Library
Also by this author: Difficult Women
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four-stars
Pink is my favorite color. I used to say my favorite color was black to be cool, but it is pink—all shades of pink. If I have an accessory, it is probably pink. I read Vogue, and I’m not doing it ironically, though it might seem that way. I once live-tweeted the September issue.
In these funny and insightful essays, Roxane Gay takes us through the journey of her evolution as a woman of color while also taking readers on a ride through culture of the last few years and commenting on the state of feminism today. The portrait that emerges is not only one of an incredibly insightful woman continually growing to understand herself and our society, but also one of our culture.
Bad Feminist is a sharp, funny, and spot-on look at the ways in which the culture we consume becomes who we are, and an inspiring call-to-arms of all the ways we still need to do better.

I honestly don’t read a lot of non-fiction books or essay collections. However, I’ve been a fan of Roxane Gay since I read one of her fiction short stories on Rookie Mag years ago. I’ve wanted to read Bad Feminist for awhile, but just now got around to finally reading it. I’m glad that I did because it’s definitely a worthwhile read. Truthfully, I was surprised by how many negative reviews of this book that I read. In my opinion, Gay has done her research on these topics and isn’t afraid to share what she really thinks about pop culture, racism, gender, sexuality, and other topics. Though I know that you might always agree with what she had to say, but I personally was still able to respect her opinions regardless.

I’m not entirely sure how to review this book since it consists of various essays that sorted depending on the topic. While I found most of the essays to be engaging, there were certainly some standouts as well. One of my favorites was “The Trouble with Prince Charming, or He Who Trespassed Against Us.” She talks about how the “princes” in fairy tales and literature are extremely problematic at times. She first talks about Disney princes like Eric from Little Mermaid, Prince Charming from Snow White, and even the Beast from Beauty and the Beast. She makes the point that the female characters have to make some kind of sacrifice in order to be with that prince. Gay then looks at more modern literature like Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey, where both love interests are super possessive and the heroine has to give up a part of herself in able to be with him. It’s definitely a fascinating and truthful take on how popular culture can seriously damage our views on love.

As I stated before, not everyone is going to agree with the TV shows and movies that Gay criticizes. When she’s talking about race, she criticizes ridiculously popular movies like The Help, Django Unchained, 12 Years a Slave, and Tyler Perry’s movies. I’m not going to lie, I personally was a fan of The Help, but I still believe that Gay’s analysis of it was well thought out, and honestly something that I sadly hadn’t considered before. She also analyzes Orange is the New Black, which is a show that I love. Gay wasn’t totally impressed with the first season, and I do agree that it acknowledges that it’s diverse a little too often. But I feel like it was a lot more fleshed out in the following seasons where Piper wasn’t the primary focus. It is a sad truth that the white characters seem to have more of a sexuality than everyone else, with the exception of a few characters.

I could go on and on about each essay written by Roxane Gay, but I’ll just leave it at that. I think that she’s an awesome author and I can’t wait to read more of her works, both fiction and nonfiction. Is this a perfect collection? No, not really, but that isn’t really the point. The point is that this is an honest and compelling work about modern feminism and what exactly it means to different women. This book might not be for everyone, but it’s still an entertaining and well written book that I’m happy that I finally got around to reading.

four-stars

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The Hating Game Review

October 28, 2016 Reviews 0 ★★★★

The Hating Game ReviewThe Hating Game by Sally Thorne
Published by William Morrow Paperbacks on August 9th 2016
Pages: 384
Source: Library
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four-stars
Debut author Sally Thorne bursts on the scene with a hilarious and sexy workplace comedy all about that thin, fine line between hate and love.
Nemesis (n.) 1) An opponent or rival whom a person cannot best or overcome.2) A person’s undoing3) Joshua Templeman
Lucy Hutton has always been certain that the nice girl can get the corner office. She’s charming and accommodating and prides herself on being loved by everyone at Bexley & Gamin. Everyone except for coldly efficient, impeccably attired, physically intimidating Joshua Templeman. And the feeling is mutual.
Trapped in a shared office together 40 (OK, 50 or 60) hours a week, they’ve become entrenched in an addictive, ridiculous never-ending game of one-upmanship. There’s the Staring Game. The Mirror Game. The HR Game. Lucy can’t let Joshua beat her at anything—especially when a huge new promotion goes up for the taking.
If Lucy wins this game, she’ll be Joshua’s boss. If she loses, she’ll resign. So why is she suddenly having steamy dreams about Joshua, and dressing for work like she’s got a hot date? After a perfectly innocent elevator ride ends with an earth shattering kiss, Lucy starts to wonder whether she’s got Joshua Templeman all wrong.
Maybe Lucy Hutton doesn’t hate Joshua Templeman. And maybe, he doesn’t hate her either. Or maybe this is just another game.

The Hating Game is a book that my Goodreads friends seemed to be loving, so I decided to just jump right in and read it. From the first page, I was completely hooked on Joshua and Lucy’s story. Though I should have most definitely been doing my homework and not reading, I simply was unable to put this book down. Anyway, I’m glad that I read this book! I’ve always been a fan of the hate-to-love trope and I’ve never seen a book that absolutely nailed it better than this one did. This is a hilarious, charming, witty, and compelling debut novel that you don’t want to miss out on.

Lucy is seriously my girl! I loved her personality from the beginning. She has such a fiery attitude and I love that she’s never afraid to speak her mind. She basically embodies the whole “though she may be little, she is fierce” quote. Because as the author points out quite frequently, she’s a very small woman in stature, so she makes up for it by having a larger than life personality. I thought her pranks and games with Joshua were laugh out loud hilarious at times. Lucy is just such an intelligent and awesome character. It’s hard to fully explain what’s so great about her, you just have to read it to fully comprehend it all.

Joshua is a character who I do have some conflicting thoughts about. On one hand, I can’t deny the fact that he’s unbelievably swoony. Some of the seemingly little things that he does for Lucy were ridiculously adorable to me for whatever reason. I think this is mostly from the general tension that builds up from the love-hate relationship that they have, but I’ll expand on that in a bit. My conflicting thoughts about Joshua comes from his possessive side. I’m not a fan of alpha males, and I feel like Joshua doesn’t exactly meet the description of one. However, I didn’t like how jealous he got all the time of other guys interacting with Lucy, even when they hated each other. At a point, his jealously and protective nature became a little concerning to me. I still think he’s a solid and swoony book boyfriend, just not my favorite because of that reason.

The romance was easily my favorite part, besides Lucy herself. As mentioned earlier, I haven’t seen the hate-to-love trope done any better than it is with The Hating Game. The tension that’s slowly built up between them is tremendous in every possible way. Even when they supposedly can’t stand each other, you can feel the chemistry between them practically radiating off of each page. It’s one of those incredible and rare romances that you have to read, it’s hard to put it into accurate words. If you’re a fan of this trope and enjoy slow burn romances where they do everything they can to fight their attraction but are naturally unable to, you’ll likely enjoy this story. There aren’t many sex scenes, but trust me when I say that the few included are amazingly well done and just the right amount of steamy!

All in all, I really enjoyed reading this book. From the first page, I could tell that this was something special. While I’m not sure how realistic some of the parts about the publishing house that Joshua and Lucy work at actually is, that isn’t the point. The point is that this is an entertaining and fun read. It’s hard to believe that this is only this author’s debut novel. I can’t to read whatever she writes next! This was a fast paced book that I was able to read in just a matter of hours. Though it’s not a perfect book, it’s still an interesting and unique one.

four-stars

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ARC Review: Interborough

October 24, 2016 Reviews 0 ★★★★

ARC Review: InterboroughInterborough (Five Boroughs, #4) by Santino Hassell
Published by Riptide Publishing on October 24th 2016
Pages: 249
Source: Santino Hassell
Also by this author: Strong Signal (Cyberlove, #1), Fast Connection (Cyberlove #2), Sutphin Boulevard (Five Boroughs, #1), Sunset Park (Five Boroughs, #2), First and First (Five Boroughs, #3)
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four-stars
four-half-flames

I received this book for free from Santino Hassell in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Raymond Rodriguez from a few years ago wouldn’t recognize the guy he is today. He’s left his slacker ways far behind him and is now juggling two jobs and school. But the balancing act doesn’t allow much time for the man he loves.
David is doing his best to be supportive, but problems at work and his own insecurity leave him frustrated—in more ways than the obvious—whenever he goes to bed before Raymond gets home. The heat and affection between them is still there, but they barely have the time or energy to enjoy it. And it doesn’t help that Raymond is still hiding David from his colleagues.
The stress mounts so high that a vacation in paradise is filled with turmoil instead of harmony, and culminates on their return to the five boroughs with broken promises and heartache. They have to figure out how to stop allowing their differences to overshadow their love. It’s the only way they’ll make it to forever.

First things first, Interborough is a continuation of Raymond and David’s story, which began in Sunset Park. As I stated in my review of that book, I think that the two make a surprising couple, but they ultimately make a whole lot of sense. Though they couldn’t be more different, they balance each other out. I was honestly a bit nervous for them to get another book, just because I love them so much and didn’t want them to have to deal with any crazy drama. I should’ve trusted Hassell more, he knows what he’s doing with these characters. Even though the relationship between them isn’t a perfect one, it’s always entertaining. I loved getting to spend more time with these memorable and fun characters. Thank you Santino for giving us more Raymond and David!

In this case, it feels weird going over all the characters again since I already explained most of the details in my review of the second book. However, some things about these characters have in fact changed. Raymond is a lot more overwhelmed with his workload and taking classes than he was before. In the first book, he was a major slacker, but he eventually got it together for David because he wanted to make something of his life. I’m not going to lie, as much as I love Raymond, I wanted to hit him multiple times while reading this. He was blind to a lot of things that he shouldn’t have been, and I didn’t totally respect his decision to stay in the closet. I understand that not everyone can be out, and Raymond is someone that’s only very recently accepted that he’s bisexual, but it was frustrating that he kept doing this even when he knew it was hurting David. Raymond is still a lovable guy and I really felt for him as we realize all the struggles he has to face with the police profiling him just because he’s Latino. All in all, of course I still enjoyed him, he just drove me nuts at times.

Surprisingly, David was the one that I felt a lot of sympathy for at times. When we first met David, it was hard to like him since he was cheating on his boyfriend, but in the second book, we learned that there was a little bit more to the story. Anyway, I ended up liking David more then, and now I have to admit that I love him. Yes, he’s a pretty privileged guy, but he’s not stuck up. David is an intelligent guy who knows what he wants out of life. I felt bad for him because he started doubting himself at certain parts of the book. I just wanted to give him a huge hug. It was definitely weird to be on David’s side when it comes to his issues with Raymond, but I totally was. I’m glad that David continued to grow as a character throughout this story. As a result, it made him all the more likable.

Obviously, the romance here is automatically a bit different considering the relationship is already established. However, they have been having a bit of a dry spell sexually since Raymond has been busy and stressed with balancing work and school. Nevertheless, the sex scenes are still hot and steamy from the beginning. I expect nothing less from this pair since they’ve had such a strong chemistry even long before they first got together. Even though they are already together, they still have quite a bit of drama that threatens the relationship tremendously. Despite all that, I wasn’t worried for a second, it’s clear that these two are meant to be together regardless of whatever might be going on.

David and Raymond have always been my favorite couple out of the three Five Boroughs relationships. They have such a strong connection and bond that’s definitely unbreakable. I’m glad that we got to be inside David and Raymond’s heads one last time.  Santino Hassell has written yet another compelling romance that’s gritty and real. David and Raymond don’t have an easy road ahead of them, but they find a way to get through it all together. I’m so glad that I read this one and I can’t wait for the next book in the series. I’m hoping for possibly Ashton and Clive’s story.

four-stars

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First and First Review

October 23, 2016 Reviews 0 ★★★★

First and First ReviewFirst and First (Five Boroughs, #3) by Santino Hassell
Published by Dreamspinner Press on April 18th 2016
Pages: 244
Source: Purchased
Also by this author: Strong Signal (Cyberlove, #1), Fast Connection (Cyberlove #2), Sutphin Boulevard (Five Boroughs, #1), Sunset Park (Five Boroughs, #2), Interborough (Five Boroughs, #4)
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four-stars
four-half-flames
Caleb Stone was raised on the Upper East Side, where wealth and lineage reigns, and “alternative lifestyles” are hidden. It took him years to come out to his family, but he’s still stuck in the stranglehold of their expectations. Caleb knows he has to build his confidence and shake things up, but he doesn’t know how… until Oliver Buckley enters the picture.
Oli is everything Caleb isn’t—risk-taking, provocative, and fiercely independent. Disowned by his family, Oli has made his own way in the world and is beholden to no one. After a chance encounter on New Year’s Eve, Caleb is smitten.
As Caleb sheds the insecurities that have held him back for years, he makes bold steps toward changing his career and escaping years of sexual repression. But for Caleb to take full control of his life, he has to be brave enough to confront his feelings and trust Oli with his heart.

At this point in my reviews of books by Santino Hassell, I’m just starting to sound super repetitive. Anyway, First and First is another steamy and entertaining M/M book from one of my favorite authors in this genre. I was honestly worried that Caleb’s story would be boring and frankly rather vanilla, but thankfully Oli’s presence made it anything but that. This was definitely a compelling and fast paced read. With some of the other books in this series, particularly the first book, it was a little on the heavier side so I personally wasn’t able to devour it in one sitting. I didn’t have this problem with First and First in the slightest, instead I read it in only hours. It was just the book that I needed at the time.

From what we learned about Caleb in Sunset Park, he seemed rather boring and predictable. However, I was glad to see that he received his own story because he turned out to be much more entertaining than I was expecting. I wouldn’t say that Caleb is my favorite character in this series, but I definitely admit that I enjoyed him and his growth throughout the book. It was great to see him develop more and more as a person as the book progressed. Yes, he’s a rich and super privileged guy, but I appreciated that his personality as a whole showcased more than just that.

Oli is basically the exact opposite of our boy Caleb. Where Caleb is closed off and seemingly cold, Oli is open and extremely friendly. Where Caleb seems vanilla and boring when it comes to his sex life, Oli is bold and up for anything. They are actually a lot like David and Raymond, they seem completely different on paper, but they somehow make sense. Now back to Oli, he’s such a fun and exciting character. I thought that he was so much fun when we were introduced to him in Sunset Park. Though he seems like this fun guy who doesn’t care about much, we learn that there’s a lot more to him than just that, and I loved that about him.

So I mentioned already that the relationship was far from being a boring one. Oli is a sexually adventurous guy to say the least. He isn’t a fan of monogamy like Caleb is, but there’s still something about Caleb that intrigues them from their first hot encounter on New Year’s Eve. I think that Caleb and Oli made a strange but incredible couple. I was a little uneasy about the fact that Oli basically had to change who he was in order to be with Caleb. I mean, it wasn’t totally who he was, but he’d never been a fan of committing to another person, and he makes this clear to Caleb. Towards the end though, he starts to suddenly change his mind and then everything is all happy. I felt like the happy ending happened too quickly. It’s not realistic that someone would change his ways that quickly, it was all too easy to me.

Despite the very minor issues that I had, this was yet another wonderful book from a fabulous author. Seriously though, there isn’t anything that Santino Hassell writes that I won’t read. Caleb and Oli were two characters that I really enjoyed and was able to relate to on some level. Out of the two, Oli is easily my favorite, he’s so full of life and energy. He was a funny and compelling character to read about. Even though my reviews of these books are starting to sound the same, I still have to say that I strongly recommend reading this one and the whole series.

four-stars

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Sunset Park Review

October 22, 2016 Reviews 0 ★★★★

Sunset Park ReviewSunset Park (Five Boroughs, #2) by Santino Hassell
Published by Dreamspinner Press on December 11th 2015
Pages: 230
Source: Purchased
Also by this author: Strong Signal (Cyberlove, #1), Fast Connection (Cyberlove #2), Sutphin Boulevard (Five Boroughs, #1), First and First (Five Boroughs, #3), Interborough (Five Boroughs, #4)
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Goodreads
four-stars
five-flames
Raymond Rodriguez's days of shoving responsibility to the wayside are over. His older brother wants to live with his boyfriend so Raymond has to get his act together and find a place of his own. But when out-and-proud David Butler offers to be his roommate, Raymond agrees for reasons other than needing a place to crash.
David is Raymond’s opposite in almost every way—he’s Connecticut prim and proper while Raymond is a sarcastic longshoreman from Queens—but their friendship is solid. Their closeness surprises everyone as does their not-so-playful flirtation since Raymond has always kept his bicurious side a secret.
Once they’re under the same roof, flirting turns physical, and soon their easy camaraderie is in danger of being lost to frustrating sexual tension and the stark cultural differences that set them apart. Now Raymond not only has to commit to his new independence—he has to commit to his feelings for David or risk losing him for good.

I thought Michael’s brother Raymond was totally hilarious in the last book, so I’m happy that he received his own love story. I first read from this blurb that the romance was between Raymond and David right after I finished reading the first chapter of Sutphin Boulevard, so I thought that they made the WEIRDEST couple. I couldn’t be more wrong, somehow Raymond and David just end up making sense together. Yes, there’s roadblocks in the way here, but it’s worth it in the end. Though I enjoyed the first book, I have to say that I might have liked this one just a little bit more. Nevertheless, Hassell has delivered yet again on a gritty romance filled with memorable characters. I highly recommend it for M/M fans, or new readers of the genre!

Like I said, Raymond was hilarious and entertaining in the last book and I’m glad we get his story here. It was interesting to see Raymond exploring his sexuality, now that he realizes that he’s bisexual. Throughout the story, we watch Raymond deal with his personal problems with what exactly this means and how he wants to go from here. He’s also very insecure when it comes to what other people might think about him, so that comes up again and again in the story. I thought that he was a fabulous character and I really liked him for the most part. He was a lot less frustrating than his brother, that’s for sure!

David was a character that took me a little bit longer to really love. I’m not going to lie, I judged him hard in the first book for cheating on his boyfriend just because he was “boring.” However, we end up seeing a different side to David in this book. Yes, he can be kind of stuck up at times, but Raymond ends up bringing out the best in him. What’s different from this book is that we get both POV’s, and I thought that was a smart move from Hassell. He was able to create two very unique and distinctive voices from these guys who came from completely opposite backgrounds, and make them both extremely relatable. Anyway, I liked knowing what exactly David was thinking, it made me like him so much more. At the end of the day, he’s a smart and interesting guy who is the perfect match for my boy Raymond.

I love that Raymond and David started out as being friends in the first book and at the beginning of this one, before they become roommates. The friendship seemed weird to me at first, but it ultimately ended up working in such a surprising and awesome way. I loved the natural progression of their relationship. There was a gradual and realistic build-up that truly worked. Sutphin Boulevard was totally hot, but I have to admit that Sunset Park might even be a bit hotter! Nope, there aren’t any threesomes in this one, but the heat and passion that exists in every David and Raymond sex scene was scorching hot. There were quite a few sex scenes, and I have no complaints about that at all. Aside from the physical parts, there’s still an emotional depth to the relationship that I absolutely loved. Sorry Nunzio and Michael, David and Raymond are my favorite couple in this series so far.

Santio Hassell has wrote yet another beautiful and complicated love story. Though I thought that the first book was refreshing and incredibly well written, I have to admit that I might just like Sunset Park a bit more than the previous one. I was happy that this book was a lot less dark and depressing than Sutphin Boulevard. I also felt relieved that David and Raymond seemed to get it together much sooner than Michael and Nunzio did. As I’ve already mentioned, this is a wonderful series that I recommend if you’re a fan of the M/M genre, or if you’re new to the genre and looking for an awesome series to start, try these books.

four-stars

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