August 24, 2016

Review | Best Laid Wedding Plans by Lynette Austin

Review | Best Laid Wedding Plans by Lynette AustinThe Best Laid Wedding Plans by Lynnette Austin
Series: Magnolia Brides, #1
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca, November 2015
Pages: 384
Format: Paperback
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Jenni Beth Beaumont thought she left her broken heart in Chance, Georgia, when she moved away. But when she suddenly inherits her family's beautiful, antebellum home, her dream of turning the residence into a wedding destination calls her back.
Cole Bryson, an architectural salvager and Jenni Beth's former flame, intends to purchase and deconstruct the Beaumont family's down-at-the-heels estate. To his surprise, Jenni Beth is more of a stubborn Southern girl than he thought. Cole will have to use all his sultry, steamy tricks to test more than the resolve of his sexy competition…

I wanted so desperately to love this story. A Southern girl after my own heart, returning home to start a boutique wedding planner service that will save her parents’ estate and hopefully their town. Yet despite his best intentions, Cole Bryson is hell bent on disrupting Jenni’s best laid wedding plans. It sounds almost picturesque, right?

From the first page, the relationship between Jenni Beth and Cole was convulted. Austin threw the reader in without any warning or backstory – it felt like pages were missing from the story, instead of a smooth opening to the characters and their story. The introduction to Jenni Beth, ending her last night as a wedding planner in Savannah, isn’t too bad…until Austin throws in Cole. Then it feels like the narrative is abandoned in favor of setting up a clunky sexual tension between the two.

The odd relationship continues as Jenni Beth heads home, and Cole…follows? He starts to intervene in her life, following her to the bank to “help” with her business loan, then to the quilt shop that’s going under… The lack of character development and the awkward, stilted relationship was the biggest reason I put down Best Laid Wedding Plans after 50 pages.

The other major reason this book is heading back to the library? The horribly awkward Southern cliches that threaded through the dialogue. Instead of feeling welcoming and friendly, they felt awkward, making me more aware than ever I was looking at typeface on a page instead of a story of love. I couldn’t stop seeing them. It was jolting and slightly uncomfortable.

Instead of finding a warm, small-town romance about a wedding planner and the one she let get away, Best Laid Wedding Plans fell flat. It needed a burst of humanity, of character, and a stronger narrative to create the story the title and blurb promised.

 Stars

Posted August 24, 2016 by Ellen in reviews / 0 Comments
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August 22, 2016

Review | The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye

Review | The Crown’s Game by Evelyn SkyeThe Crown's Game by Evelyn Skye
Series: The Crown's Game, #1
, May 2016
Pages: 399
Format: Hardcover
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Vika Andreyeva can summon the snow and turn ash into gold. Nikolai Karimov can see through walls and conjure bridges out of thin air. They are enchanters—the only two in Russia—and with the Ottoman Empire and the Kazakhs threatening, the tsar needs a powerful enchanter by his side.
And so he initiates the Crown’s Game, an ancient duel of magical skill—the greatest test an enchanter will ever know. The victor becomes the Imperial Enchanter and the tsar’s most respected adviser. The defeated is sentenced to death.
Raised on tiny Ovchinin Island her whole life, Vika is eager for the chance to show off her talent in the grand capital of Saint Petersburg. But can she kill another enchanter—even when his magic calls to her like nothing else ever has?
For Nikolai, an orphan, the Crown’s Game is the chance of a lifetime. But his deadly opponent is a force to be reckoned with—beautiful, whip-smart, imaginative—and he can’t stop thinking about her.
And when Pasha, Nikolai’s best friend and heir to the throne, also starts to fall for the mysterious enchantress, Nikolai must defeat the girl they both love…or be killed himself.
As long-buried secrets emerge, threatening the future of the empire, it becomes dangerously clear—the Crown’s Game is not one to lose.

I’ve had my eye out for this book since last November. I fell in love with the cover, the blurb, and after seeing pages of positive GoodReads reviews, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. When it finally arrived at the library last week, I was thrilled.

But as I turned the pages, my thrill turned sour, and at page 54, I marked The Crown’s Game dnf. Why? Well, there were a few reasons:

1. The slow beginning

And when I say the slow beginning, I mean the slooooowwwww beginning. I loved the depth of description when it came to the scenery and magic – Skye’s writing prowess really shows here. But when it came to her two main characters, Nikolai and Vika, Skye fell flat. They had no depth, no vibrancy to them that made me care about them. Granted, I put the book down after only 50 pages, but there should already be a character hook here.

2. This felt a little familiar…

Let’s get this out right now: I am in no way accusing Skye of plagiarism. It was more that The Crown’s Game felt like The Hunger Games set in 1800s Russia with magic instead of arrows.

3. I really hate violence against animals.

It’s one of my major pet peeves in books. Honestly, it may be the one thing that will make me put down a book and never pick it up again. Around page 50, when I was wallowing back and forth on putting this book in my return bag, Nikolai returns home from his first sighting of Vika to find his room filled with wild animals, including a tiger and vipers. His mentor, Galina, tells him he needs to kill them to get used to the sight of blood.

Um.

What? Seriously? Useless killing so he can get used to blood? No.

I liked the premise of The Crown’s Game. I loved the idea of it: a magical test of feats, set in Romanov Russia. I wasn’t too big of a fan of the idea of a love triangle, but I was willing to look past it. But after a slow start, lack of character development, and the out-of-the-blue animal violence? I’m done.

Posted August 22, 2016 by Ellen in reviews / 0 Comments
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August 18, 2016

Review | Marrying Winterborne by Lisa Kleypas

Review | Marrying Winterborne by Lisa KleypasMarrying Winterborne by Lisa Kleypas
Series: The Ravenels, #2
Publisher: Avon, May 2016
Pages: 416
Format: Paperback
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A ruthless tycoon
Savage ambition has brought common-born Rhys Winterborne vast wealth and success. In business and beyond, Rhys gets exactly what he wants. And from the moment he meets the shy, aristocratic Lady Helen Ravenel, he is determined to possess her. If he must take her virtue to ensure she marries him, so much the better…
A sheltered beauty
Helen has had little contact with the glittering, cynical world of London society. Yet Rhys’s determined seduction awakens an intense mutual passion. Helen’s gentle upbringing belies a stubborn conviction that only she can tame her unruly husband. As Rhys’s enemies conspire against them, Helen must trust him with her darkest secret. The risks are unthinkable… the reward, a lifetime of incomparable bliss. And it all begins with…
Marrying Mr. Winterborne

Please don’t hate me for what I’m about to say.

I didn’t love Rhys Winterborne.

know. Since I discovered Kleypas earlier this year (yes, I know, bit late to the party), I’ve fallen head over heels for her heroes, her heroines, her writing, hell, even her covers. But Marrying Winterborne? I couldn’t.

Since Rhys’ awful behavior at the end of Cold-Hearted Rake, I fully expected Helen to leave his sorry behind, well, behind, and find herself a good man. The way he behaves toward Kathleen at the end of the first series installment was so disgusting. But Marrying Winterborne picks up a few short weeks (week?) after, and Helen and Rhys fall back into a torrid affair.

To be fair, there were moments Rhys was heart-stoppingly romantic, and I’d hoped he’d left that nasty, controlling behavior behind. Then he ruined it by saying/doing something that made me want nothing to do with him. I couldn’t shake the feeling of controlling, hard man wrapped up in a layer of romance to make him appealing. The heady dose of possessiveness overwhelmed his character.

I had the same issues with Helen, but in a different way. I didn’t expect her to act as she did throughout the book, which tipped my entire perception of the series on its side. She didn’t develop as a character any further than she had in the first installment, a decision that I think really hurt her.

On the plus side, Kleypas’ writing was fantastic as ever, even as I struggled with her characters. Each scene was beautifully written, stunning, and vibrant. I loved the premise of the story and the ideas behind the characters, but they needed further development (and less aggression on Rhys’ part) to make Marrying Winterborne a winner. I’m not giving up on Kleypas…maybe Rhys just isn’t my style.

3 Stars

Posted August 18, 2016 by Ellen in reviews / 0 Comments
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August 15, 2016

Review | Ladies of Liberty by Cokie Roberts

Review | Ladies of Liberty by Cokie RobertsLadies of Liberty: The Women Who Shaped Our Nation by Cokie Roberts
Publisher: Harper Perennial, March 2009
Pages: 512
Format: Paperback
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In this eye-opening companion volume to her acclaimed history Founding Mothers, number-one New York Times bestselling author and renowned political commentator Cokie Roberts brings to life the extraordinary accomplishments of women who laid the groundwork for a better society. Recounted with insight and humor, and drawing on personal correspondence, private journals, and other primary sources, many of them previously unpublished, here are the fascinating and inspiring true stories of first ladies and freethinkers, educators and explorers. Featuring an exceptional group of women—including Abigail Adams, Dolley Madison, Rebecca Gratz, Louise Livingston, Sacagawea, and others—Ladies of Liberty sheds new light on the generation of heroines, reformers, and visionaries who helped shape our nation, finally giving these extraordinary ladies the recognition they so greatly deserve.

After getting hooked on Hamilton (“Just you wait!”…sorry), I was thrilled to find Cokie Roberts’ history of the ladies of liberty, the women so often overlooked in favor of the famous men in their lives. Roberts take a in-depth looks at the lives and effect of these women, starting shortly after the founding of the nation, bringing life back to these amazing characters in history.

Thanks to Hamilton, I actually had a pretty good handle on the more minor character Roberts delved into and found myself connecting to them more so than others. It was a good segue into what occasionally became an info dump, helping keep the book moving along.

I loved the amount of depth about Aaron Burr, a man I sadly knew very little about, and his daughter Theodosia. Those treason charges? I had no idea about that, but watching it through his and his daughter’s eyes (a person who is essentially an extension of him) was fascinating.

There were other people throughout history I recognized, such as Sacagewa (who I have a whole new respect for), whose stories brought life to Ladies of Liberty. The portrayal of Dolley Madison made me sad I didn’t get to meet her – she sounded like quite the character. The level of detail was fascinating.

However, it did have a downside. Occasionally the narrative was so bogged down by the detail that it felt smarter to skip ahead a few pages and get back to the story. It was hit and miss: half engaging, the other half a bit boring.

I felt like the narration went off on tangents occasionally. There were many stories about women I’ve never heard of (great!), but without the proper set up, their stories didn’t resonate with me (not so great). Sometimes it felt like Roberts found a really great history, and felt she had to stick it in somewhere…ah! Without the proper introduction, these histories fell flat, and I felt more irritated than intrigued.

Overall, a must for American history (or Hamilton) buffs. The level of detail and occasional personal touch Roberts adds in brings the stories to life. Maybe with a little more background, the rest of the stories would have stood out to me as well.

3 Stars

Posted August 15, 2016 by Ellen in reviews / 1 Comment
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August 8, 2016

Review | The Virgin’s Guide to Misbehaving by Jessica Clare

Review | The Virgin’s Guide to Misbehaving by Jessica ClareThe Virgin's Guide to Misbehaving by Jessica Clare
Series: Bluebonnet, #4
Publisher: Berkley, June 2014
Pages: 304
Format: Paperback
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Playing innocent is easy.
After being the quiet, shy girl her whole life, Elise Markham is ready for a mental makeover. She’s done keeping to herself and staying out of trouble—it’s time to break out of her shell and maybe meet someone intriguing in the process. So, on a photography trip to Bluebonnet, she has a whole lot more on her mind than snapping photos, especially when Rome walks into the picture.
Playing dirty is fun.
The newest instructor at Wilderness Survival Expeditions has a colorful past, to say the least. Having come from a family of notorious con artists that destroyed his credit and reputation, all before his eighteenth birthday, Rome just wants a decent job and a quiet life in a town where no one knows his name. He’s exactly the kind of bad boy that an innocent girl like Elise should stay far away from.
But Elise is tired of doing what’s right. She’s ready to throw caution to the wind—and let Rome show her just how exciting being bad can be…

Elise Markham didn’t think the sexy, tattooed Rome noticed her. Why would he? She couldn’t utter a word in his presence without feeling like a fool. Instead, she’s determined to love him from afar…but what she doesn’t know is that the sexy Rome has his eye on her.

A self-made man, Rome has seen the dark and dirty of the world, but pulled himself out of it. He can’t keep his eyes off Elise, but how can he be with her when he can’t shake the shadows?

The Virgin’s Guide to Misbehaving was a hit/miss for me.

The hits:
  • I loved their chemistry. It was so deep and real. Set against their own personal issues, it was astonishing the pages didn’t catch fire.
  • The romance was sweet. I loved Rome’s reference to her as “my girl.” The light possessiveness was lovely in small doses.
  • The continuation of Bluebonnet was great. It was nice to see other characters play small cameos, but not overtake the novel.
The misses:
  • I started to really tire of Rome’s self-deprecating remarks. It soon felt like he couldn’t pay her a compliment without degrading himself, either mentally or out loud. It was hard to cheer for him when he didn’t even cheer for himself.
  • Throughout The Virgin’s Guide, Elise is painfully shy. She has to get drunk on beer to even talk to Rome in the beginning. By the end, she’s the image of confidence. The journey wasn’t there to support this transition and left me feeling like Elise had dual personality disorder instead of character growth.

In the end, The Virgin’s Guide gets a great rating on the steamy scenes, but the lack of character development brought down what would have otherwise been a stellar story. With a little extra oomph for the characters, this would have easily been a five star book.

3 Stars

Posted August 8, 2016 by Ellen in reviews / 0 Comments
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August 7, 2016

Review | The Legend of Lyon Redmond by Julie Anne Long

Review | The Legend of Lyon Redmond by Julie Anne LongThe Legend of Lyon Redmond by Julie Anne Long
Series: Pennyroyal Green, #11
Publisher: Avon, September 2015
Pages: 367
Format: Paperback
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Bound by centuries of bad blood, England's two most powerful families maintain a veneer of civility . . . until the heir to the staggering Redmond fortune disappears, reviving rumors of an ancient curse: a Redmond and an Eversea are destined to fall disastrously in love once per generation.
An Enduring Legend
Rumor has it she broke Lyon Redmond's heart. But while many a man has since wooed the dazzling Olivia Eversea, none has ever won her—which is why jaws drop when she suddenly accepts a viscount's proposal. Now London waits with bated breath for the wedding of a decade . . . and wagers on the return of an heir.
An Eternal Love
It was instant and irresistible, forbidden . . . and unforgettable. And Lyon—now a driven, dangerous, infinitely devastating man—decides it's time for a reckoning. As the day of her wedding races toward them, Lyon and Olivia will decide whether their love is a curse destined to tear their families apart . . . or the stuff of which legends are made.

To say Lyon Redmond has never forgotten Olivia Eversea is an understatement.

After a intense youthful romance, Lyon never recovered from losing her, taking to more nefarious pastimes after he is disowned by his family. Yet when he hears Olivia is to marry, Lyon can’t help himself – he has to see her again.

As Olivia’s wedding approaches, she finds herself tossed back into memories of Lyon, the one she let get away. The back and forth between Lyon and Olivia as well as past and present was a little jolting at first, but slowly created the depth and intensity needed to portray such a volatile relationship.

The Legend of Lyon Redmond isn’t quite the story of long-lost lovers. Instead, it’s about two young people who met their soul mates early in life, but had to go their own ways before they were reunited. I loved that element, loved the tension between them as they rediscovered each other…pretty much loved everything except one thing: how Olivia’s fiancee was treated.

I hated how she left him (really no spoilers in that since the story is titled after Lyon Redmond’s legend, right?). I hated it. It took away from the actually sweet reunion scene between Lyon and Olivia. Her total disregard for the man View Spoiler » seriously pissed me off and blew away any kinship or fondness I had for her.

Despite that, The Legend of Lyon Redmond is a good story…except, it didn’t quite know how to end. I expected the end at least ten pages before it actually came. And the View Spoiler » It felt awkward and disjointed…definitely not the way I wanted to leave Olivia and Lyon.

3 Stars

Posted August 7, 2016 by Ellen in reviews / 0 Comments
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August 5, 2016

Review | Honeymoon Hotel by Hester Browne

Review | Honeymoon Hotel by Hester BrowneHoneymoon Hotel by Hester Browne
Publisher: Gallery Books, September 2014
Pages: 464
Format: Paperback
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A charming novel in the vein of The Wedding Planner featuring an ambitious and by-the-books event planner who finds herself at odds with her new assistant, who happens to be the son of her boss, on the eve of the biggest wedding of her career—from the New York Times bestselling author of The Runaway Princess and the Little Lady Agency series.
The Bonneville Hotel is the best-kept secret in London: its elegant rooms and discreet wood-paneled cocktail lounge were the home-away-from-home for royalty and movie stars alike during the golden age of glamour. Recent years haven’t been kind, but thanks to events manager Rosie, it’s reclaiming some of its old cachet as a wish list wedding venue. While Rosie’s weddings are the ultimate in romance, Rosie herself isn’t; her focus is fixed firmly on the details, not on the dramas. She lives with a professionally furious food critic and works tirelessly toward that coveted promotion. But when the hotel owner appoints his eccentric son Joe to help run Rosie’s department, she’s suddenly butting heads with the free spirit whose predilection for the unconventional threatens to unravel her picture-perfect plans for the most elaborate—not to mention high-profile—wedding the hotel has ever seen, a wedding that could make or break not only the hotel’s reputation, but also Rosie’s career.
From the author whose books are described as “deliciously addictive” (Cosmopolitan), Honeymoon Hotel will reaffirm your belief in happily ever after.

Rosie McDonald isn’t a wedding planner, thank you very much – she’s an events planner. As a longtime employee at the Bonneville Hotel in London, Rosie knows the wedding business from the inside out and she’s determined to make a splash, bringing the old boutique hotel back to the headlines. But when her boss assigns his all-too-realistic son to assist with Rosie’s romantic weddings, she’s in trouble…and not just her career.

I picked Hester Browne’s Honeymoon Hotel up on a whim. As a bride-to-be, anything with “wedding,” “bridal,” or “honeymoon” is guaranteed to make it’s way into my library bag. The blurb looked cute, but I expected to give Browne’s the novel the old college try, and turn it back in, and go on with my life.

Well, that’s not going to happen.

See, I fell in love with Hester’s Rosie. She’s a nose-to-the-grindstone sort of girl that is afraid of change, but won’t back down from a challenge. Combined with her slight anxious tendencies, I felt like I was reading a British version of myself. That’s the magic of Rosie – there’s an element in her that every reader will understand, whether it’s trying to make things work with her (horribly snotty) food critic boyfriend, ignoring her feelings towards Joe, the boss’s son, or sneaking out to the fire escape to sneak chocolate with her best friend.

I loved that Honeymoon Hotel was a story about Rosie, not about romance. Sure, the romance between Joe and Rosie is sweet and surprising, but the narrative doesn’t harp on it. Instead, it’s a story of Rosie growing into herself, of not being afraid of change, and of taking the bull by the horns. That’s the kind of story I can get behind.

Notting Hill meets Bridget Jones in Browne’s Honeymoon Hotel, and I loved it. It’s a sweet rom-com with a heroine you can’t wait to cheer for, and plenty of wedding insight for the brides and wedding fans (you know who you are).

4 Stars

Posted August 5, 2016 by Ellen in reviews / 0 Comments
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August 4, 2016

Review | L is for Lawless by Sue Grafton

Review | L is for Lawless by Sue Grafton"L" is for Lawless by Sue Grafton
Series: Kinsey Millhone, #12
Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks, November 2009
Pages: 352
Format: Paperback
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When Kinsey Millhone's landlord asks her to help deceased World War II vet Johnnie Lee's family find out why the military has no record of his service, she thinks it'll be a cinch. But she is about to meet her match in world-class prevaricators who take her for the ride of her life.
When Lee's apartment in burgled and a man named Ray Rawson, who claims to be an old friend of Lee's, is beaten up, Kinsey soon finds herself on the trail of a pregnant woman with a duffel bag. Soon the intrepid P.I. is following leads halfway across the country and encountering another man from Lee's past—a vengeful psychopath.
Stalked by a new enemy and increasingly suspicious of Rawson—not to mention running out of time and money—now Kinsey must steer a collision course to solve a decades-old mystery that some would like better left unsolved.…

When Kinsey agrees to do a small favor for her landlord, Henry, she thinks it’ll be a small investigation. Well, not even an investigation – more of a research project. When a simple search for a deceased’s military ID turns into a story of cops and robbers, a missing stash of cash and jewels, and a lawless man’s hidden history, Kinsey may finally be in over her head.

Logically, I didn’t expect all of the Kinsey Millhone books to be murder mysteries, but I will admit missing the hunt and drama that accompanies Kinsey’s search for a killer. Instead, L is for Lawless tells the tale of how a seemingly simple quest to give a veteran a military burial turns out to be one of the oddest mysteries Kinsey’s ever unraveled.

To be honest, I’m not sure how I feel about this installment. I appreciated Grafton’s effort to shake it up, but Kinsey’s trek halfway across the country to unravel the truth about the veteran who wasn’t a veteran didn’t do it for me.

Kinsey herself felt disjointed, misplaced. From Dallas onward, it just didn’t feel like Kinsey. The odd situation and race against time didn’t showcase her character – instead, the landscape and weird family dynamics of the minor characters took over Lawless. Consequently, the rest of the story began to fall flat, and I found my mind wandering more often than not.

I would have loved more about Rosie and William’s wedding – the little glimpses Grafton shares were downright hilarious. As two well-loved recurring minor characters, I felt they deserved more of the story’s time.

Maybe L is for Lawless wasn’t a winner for me, but I’ll keep plugging away at the Kinsey’s stories. After loving the first 11 of them, maybe #12 was just a hiccup.

Posted August 4, 2016 by Ellen in reviews / 1 Comment
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July 30, 2016

Review | The One You Want by Gena Showalter

Review | The One You Want by Gena ShowalterThe One You Want by Gena Showalter
Series: The Original Heartbreakers, #0.5
Publisher: Harlequin, March 2015
Pages: 109
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New York Times bestselling author Gena Showalter introduces the Original Heartbreakers—about sexy bad boys each meeting their match—with a special prequel novella!
In small-town Oklahoma, reputation is everything, and Kenna Starr will do anything to overcome hers. The supposed bad girl is determined to walk the straight and narrow, a seemingly impossible task when Tall, Dark and Sexy shows up…
Rich and powerful, Dane Michaelson is every woman's dream. When he returns to Strawberry Valley after a sixteen-year absence, he is unprepared for the redheaded girl he's never been able to forget. She's all woman now—and he's never wanted anyone more. But to have her, he'll have to break through her defenses… and surrender his own.
* First published in the 2014 anthology, All For You.

As this is the first book I’ve marked DNF in a while, I feel it’s only fair to state that The One You Want is the first book in The Original Heartbreakers series I’ve read.

That being said, from the first page, it was borderline ridiculous. We meet Kenna Starr (I couldn’t stop thinking about how it sounded like a stripper name) as she walks into a society party. Her worries about how she’s wearing the same outfit as the wait staff (she normally works with them) wasn’t too bad, but her constant Twitter references in her head drove me insane. I couldn’t get to know her from all the chatter in her brain, a constant trait throughout the novella (well, as far as I got).

Her romantic hero, Dane Michaelson, is an asshole. He won’t let anyone touch him without his permission (yanks his arm back from his date when she tries to) and god forbid you touch his face. I didn’t stick around long enough to see what that was all about. He’s degrading, judgmental, and has few to little redeeming qualities (again, DNF). In the first scene, he displayed his disgust for his date by deciding he was dumping her because she tried to touch his face. Oh yeah. There’s a winner.

There were so many elements in Showalter’s novella that just didn’t make sense, but were thrown in for pop culture effect. I finally threw in the towel when she revealed (for the second time) that she was packing a giant, double-edged sword just in case of zombie attack. Seriously. Where did that come from? Are we Walking Dead addicts? Because there’s no previous reference – just a random conversation with her roommate about how the zombie apocalypse is coming.

Honestly, this was a waste of the $2.99 I spent to buy the ebook. I might try a full novel of Showalter’s but The One You Want was just a disaster.

 Stars

Posted July 30, 2016 by Ellen in reviews / 0 Comments
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July 29, 2016

Review | Daughters of Ruin by K.D. Castner

Review | Daughters of Ruin by K.D. CastnerDaughters of Ruin by K.D. Castner
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books, April 2016
Pages: 320
Format: Hardcover
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Meet rumor with quiet, treason with cunning, and vicious with vicious.
Rhea, Cadis, Suki, and Iren have lived together since they were children. They are called sisters. They are not. They are called equals. They are not. They are princesses. And they are enemies.
A brutal war ravaged their kingdoms, and Rhea’s father was the victor. As a gesture of peace, King Declan brought the daughters of his rivals to live under his protection—and his ever-watchful eye.
For ten years they have trained together as diplomats and warriors, raised to accept their thrones and unite their kingdoms in peace. But there is no peace among sisters, and all plans shatter when the palace is attacked. As their intended future lies in ashes, Rhea, Cadis, Suki, and Iren must decide where their loyalties lie: to their nations, or to each other.
Alliances shift and the consequences are deadly in this stunning fantasy debut from K. D. Castner.

It was the era of the Sister Queens. A promise of peace and prosperity across all nations. Unfortunately, that’s not quite how it works out. Trained as warriors, fighting like enemies, the Daughters of Ruin are holding onto a fragile peace. But when war breaks out among the nations, the sister queens are caught in the middle of the drama – their own, and their nations.

I hate to say it, but I was really disappointed in Daughters of Ruin.

I loved the premise – four women, destroyed by war, brought together to repair the relationships between their nations and create a lasting peace. While I knew it wouldn’t quite work out that way, the vast amount of drama among the girls was so irritating.

Everyone hated Rhea, the daughter of the captor king and creator of the Sister Queens, seemingly just because she was Rhea. Everyone had the hots for the servant guy who helped them train (who was honestly just an arrogant ass). The forced arena battles only served to set the girls farther apart, but provided no other benefit to the story.

Castner rotates point-of-views between the four girls, which is okay – could potentially be fascinating.

  • Rhea’s was a typical narration.
  • Iren’s strangely simple. And brief. All her sentences were like this. Fragmented thoughts. Okay.
  • Cadis’s was strangely violent and rage-filled. But that fit her.
  • Suki’s drove me insane. You see, there were parenthensis (over parenthesis (and even (more (parenthesis (if you can believe it!!!))))). It was irritating. The disruptive narration portrayed the youngest girl as a selfish brat without redeeming qualities, only reinforced by her parenthesis. Please. No more.

The story was far-fetched and a bit ludicrous, especially as the drama ratcheted up near the end. I felt my patience dissipating as plot twist after plot twist was thrown out there. Daughters of Ruin had so much potential, but unfortunately couldn’t live up to it.

 

2 Stars

Posted July 29, 2016 by Ellen in reviews / 0 Comments
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