Saturday, 23 September 2017

REVIEW; Punk 57, by Penelope Douglas


29104680
Rating:

Genre: New-Adult, Romance, Suspense

Recommend: Yes

Standalone

NO SPOILERS!!! 

Summary:

Misha and Ryen were set up as pen-pals in 5th grade, both their teachers believing they were the same gender. Growing up, Ryen gave Misha the best version of herself, as she tried to be better for his sake. Ryen was the only girl that Misha ever cared about. She wrote him letters, nearly 3 for every one he replied to, but she knew he needed her. Her words kept him focused. They don't follow each other online, so to keep that distance in their lives and certain anonymity. But when Misha believes he has met Ryen in real life, he goes above and beyond to meet her. Ryen is unaware Misha has been right in front of her all along. 

My Thoughts:

I've been waiting to read this for so long and I wasn't disappointed. From the beginning I was hooked as we delve into Misha and Ryen's story, told from dual POV. 

Ryen: I really liked her because she truly wasn't perfect, possibly even not a nice character. For once we got a character that wasn't completely naive, innocent, oblivious to their good looks etc. Ryen was a bitch at times, allowing weaker characters to be bullied if it saved herself. Misha didn't like the real Ryen he saw in person, and so chose to torture her instead.  I think there was wonderful character development for Ryen, as she yearned to be the best version of herself that she wrote on paper to Misha and as she grew in real confidence to commit to her moral high ground and defend those in need and put the real bullies back in their place.

Misha: He was a total ass, but mostly for the right reasons. Misha is a musician and Ryen's letters and words act as a huge muse for his work. He meets Ryen on a night out, both unaware of who each other is, but he instantly learns that she is the Ryen behind all of his music. After numerous life changing events, Misha joins the same school as Ryen under the false name of Masen, shielding his identity from Ryen and gradually becoming a staple person in her life. He battles with admitting his real name, but he has other reasons to be in the same town and can't let his true identity be known. As Masen, he treats her like shit, trying to charm her into submission and crack her icy exterior and queen status. All the while Ryen can't help but fall for him as Masen, while feeling guilt about Misha. 

There was a great sub-plot propelling this story all along. We got the main hype about Misha and Ryen's online vs real relationship, but there was also a lot going on in Misha's life that kept the pace tumbling along nicely with a lot of suspense. There's quite a bit revealed about Ryen as she develops along with the story line, and it makes for a very surprising read. 

Overall:

This was a highly addictive read, full of drama and emotion, with an original plot. One of the best books I have read this year as the battle of choosing between who you are and who you want to be is explored in depth. 

Saturday, 16 September 2017

REVIEW; Kaleidoscope Hearts, by Claire Contreras

Rating: 

Genre: New-Adult, Romance,

Recommend: Yes

Standalone

SPOILERS 

Summary:

Elle is trying to move on with her life, following the death of her fiancé. Returning home and moving in to live with her brother, she comes face to face to his best friend, Oliver. 
Elle has always been off limits to Oliver, but when she was younger he broke her heart when he left for college. Elle tried to move on with Wyatt, but realised it was a different type of love, one that wasn't enough. 
Now faced with the opportunity to give Oliver another chance, Elle has to decide if she is ready to move on, and if it can really be with the one who broke her.   

My Thoughts:

I'm a little torn with this as have some mixed feelings about it all. 

Elle: I really liked her and felt a huge amount of sympathy for her. She was tormented by what she should feel following the passing of Wyatt. I really loved how subtly it was portrayed that she did love him, but just not as much as her feelings for Oliver, and how guilty she felt by this. At times, I did want to give her a kick to just jump into things with Oliver, but at the same time could understand her hesitation and fears. It was a great battle between two different loves but also fighting against what society expect you to act like vs your own emotions. She was such a compassionate and kind-hearted soul and it was beautiful watching Oliver draw this out of her.  

Oliver: He was one adamant man! I loved his resolve and how he wouldn't give up on her. Elle was the one person that made Oliver want to be different and she changed him. He wanted her for so long but never could due to her being his best friend's sister. He didn't have the perfect track record but he grew up as he got older and knew what he wanted, so it was interesting seeing his character development from the flashbacks of when they were teenagers. 

3 stars? I liked it, but didn't love it. By the time of writing this I had read a few books in between and honestly, very little of this was memorable. It was a decent cute read but I didn't really care for the relationship between them. There was too much focus on why they couldn't be together and I would have liked more secretive dalliances before they told Vic. 


Overall:

A decent romantic read worth a shot. It's different and is a heartwarming story about two forbidden loves finding their way back together. 

Goodreads 

Saturday, 9 September 2017

REVIEW; Cousins (Cousins #1), by Lisa Lang Blakeney

26222151Rating: 

Genre: New-Adult, Romance

Recommend: Yes

Book 1

NO SPOILERS!!! 

Summary:

Elizabeth is with her boyfriend when thugs break into her room, threaten her boyfriend and beat her up. Tied up with drugs, he very quickly becomes her ex. For her safety, she moves in to live with her Aunt. 
Her cousin Roman comes and goes. The same cousin who used to prank her as kids. Meeting as strangers, the two form a bond on intense chemistry and attraction. When they meet as cousins, they wonder is it too late to ignore all they'd built as strangers. 

My Thoughts:

Firstly, by the time I've gotten around to writing this review (less than a month since reading), I've already forgotten the majority of the book... especially the ending. 

Elizabeth is attacked when with her boyfriend, and for her safety, moves to live with her Aunt. She married and acquired a step-son; Roman. Roman and Elizabeth aren't actually blood related, so it's not as taboo as it all sounds. They met briefly when they were kids, but twenty years on they now meet in a night club and don't recognise each other. When their paths continue to cross, their chemistry is unbelievable, and they begin to act on their mutual attraction.

Roman is a fierce, hot-headed guy who fixes things for a lot of money. His latest venture is to fix up an elite night-club subject to an attack. His latest unprofessional venture is to mind his spoiled cousin, Elizabeth. Roman is fully aware of the effect he has on her, and uses his charm and power to make her squirm and cringe at every possible moment until she gives in to their undeniable chemistry. 

Story: This was a decent story line. The romance is not as taboo as initially considered, so it's not too daring or cringe, but there's still lines to be crossed and rules to be broken that make it somewhat forbidden. The writing level is rather average, making for pretty easy reading. We also got a  dual POV and I didn't like that aspect. I think this would have had a lot more allure and suspense had it just been from Elizabeth's POV, as then there would have been some reader doubt over Roman's intentions instead of finding out everything.

Overall:

It was a decent quick read, but nothing too memorable. Ends on a cliffhanger too, which I didn't really enjoy. 

Saturday, 2 September 2017

REVIEW; Pushing The Limits, by Brooke Cumberland

Rating: 

Genre: New-Adult, Contemporary 

Recommend: Yes

Standalone

NO SPOILERS!!! 

Summary:

Aspen's life changed when her twin committed suicide. Surviving with immense guilt, she turns to art classes as a form of therapy. Morgan moved state to escape heartbreak, and teaches art in the college. Both hurting, the two form a sensitive bond involving a mutual appreciation of art. 
Neither want to cross the lines of student and teacher, but when Aspen has to pose naked, Morgan wonders where the boundaries truly are of their relationship.

My Thoughts:

Firstly, this is a lot more than just a student/teacher romance. 

Aspen is of age and an adult, taking art classes as a form of therapy in dealing with her sister's death, which her parents have forever blamed her for. At a young age, she has suffered and lived well beyond her years, and has now built walls around her heart and emotions to prevent anyone getting close to her again. Through her art, she expresses her grief over Ariel. Most of the time, Aspen is a bright and happy girl, able to joke with her friends and have fun. But in seconds, she can be triggered and have panic attacks.

Morgan has returned to California after he left a few years ago following a heartbreak and a family bereavement. He finds himself as guardian for his 12 year-old niece. Seeing Aspen's portfolio, he is instantly drawn to her work and how evocative her pieces are. He can't imagine how much more Aspen will affect his life in person, far beyond the powers of her art. Throw in his feisty, zestful niece, Morgan realises he has a lot to learn about women.

Immediately Morgan had inappropriate thoughts about Aspen, and I guess this could be taken two ways. Either he was unprofessional from the get go and only had one thing on his mind, or it just portrays how much Aspen affected him from day one. He remained respectful for a considerable length of time, and his compassion and care for Aspen was alluring. 

Forced to acknowledge their limits, they can't help but fall for each other as they spend more time together; bonding over grief and art. Both have their insecurities and concern about allowing anything to develop and their pain about that is palpable. Both have heartbreaking pasts, and they're each other's salvation.  Morgan forces Aspen to acknowledge her pain and trauma, properly mourn her sister's death and let go of her guilt. While Aspen shows Morgan that he can love again. 

We get an insight into their story from both POV's and I really enjoyed that. We got to learn a little about Morgan's past and his struggles following the heart-wrenching start of Ariel's funeral from Aspen's POV. Reading their love unfold from both sides built a complete picture of forgiveness and love.

Overall:

This is an amazing story, pushing far beyond the limits of student & teacher, as two broken souls fight all odds to save each other and give the hope of life again. 

Saturday, 26 August 2017

REVIEW; Roommates With Benefits, by Nicole Williams

Rating: 

Genre: New-Adult, Contemporary 

Recommend: Yes

Standalone

NO SPOILERS!!! 

Summary:

Hayden Hayes is pursuing a modelling career in New York. With only a few dollars to her name, she moves into a tiny apartment, where bedrooms are separated by dividers. Oh, and her roommate is Soren Decker... a guy. 
The two fight over everything, but Soren has her back. As time flies, they both have to acknowledge their mutual attraction. But Soren is fighting for a baseball career and distance threatens their relationship. 

My Thoughts:

I enjoyed this so much. It was such an entertaining and witty read for the most part, with some twists that do pull on the heartstrings a little bit and bring you back down to Earth with a bang. 

Soren and Hayden's relationship at the beginning was hilarious. I really think Nicole Williams portrayed brilliantly what it is like when a girl and guy live together and the little things that annoy a female that males don't even notice. It allowed for some hilarious dialogue and sass. 

Soren was an absolute sweetheart. He has the cocky sense of humour (penthouse view - lol) that although irritates Hayden, you can't help but love. What really made him a concrete good guy in my eyes was the balance of sacrifice. From the beginning he was willing to help Hayden financially, but without straight up telling her and embarrassing her (hurrah for a guy not TELLING a girl he'll take care of her in an arrogant alpha way!) and the subtle gestures he did to help her out while considering Hayden's feelings were amazing. 

At the same time, he had his own career dream and he was ambitious and focused and not willing to just give up on his own dreams because the woman of his life walked through his door. I really, really, loved that. I'm tired of reading stories where a character gives up everything they've ever wanted for the person they love. (I know, that's what love is, but when you're young, you should still keep in mind your own dreams!)  

Hayden was trying to make it in the modelling industry, and still shows her innocent and naive side. Now, I've read a few negative reviews claiming Hayden was so stupid not realising her agent was making advances on her and defending his behaviour. And I'll just respectfully say that those reviewers have clearly never worked under an older male, as a young female, and put up with similar behaviour (perhaps out of naivety) so to not upset the apple cart and not make a who-ha out of minor actions until lines are actually crossed. Nowadays, it is so hard to know what is and is not meant as a joke or crossing boundaries and sometimes girls just suck it up to get where they need to be in their career... and Hayden didn't stand for his advances when he clearly crossed the line... moving on. 

I really applauded her ambition and empathised with her fear about losing Soren. Although a little annoying, her fears were realistic and required to keep the plot active. I would've liked more of an update regarding Hayden's career in modelling... but hey ho. 

Overall:

I'd recommend this to anyone who wants an entertaining, romantic read. A great charming story!

Saturday, 19 August 2017

REVIEW; Fair Game, by Monica Murphy

Rating: 

Genre: New-Adult, Contemporary 

Recommend: Yes

Book 1

NO SPOILERS!!! 

Summary:

Jade's boyfriend bets her at a poker game, in the hopes he can win $50,000. He loses. Jade now owes the arrogant infamous Shepard Prescott. 
He loves watching her squirm and chasing after the one girl who keeps saying 'No'. But as Shep starts to fall for the feisty girl, he has to convince Jade he is no longer playing games and may actually be falling in love with her. 

My Thoughts:

I don't know if I am in a lull in regards to NA Romance novels, as a lot I've read lately I've just been skipping paragraphs and eye-rolling. But then Tijan, Colleen Hoover & Tarryn Fisher can still write words that get inside my heart and my head and keep me awake at night and think

First 50% of this book: It was really good and I actually read it in one sitting as I was so hooked. I feel the start was extremely strong; it begins with the poker game and Jade being part of the bet. The chemistry between Jade and Shep is amazing, their banter hilarious. But honestly, the book fell from there. 

Second 50%: Predictable, boring. Ok, it wasn't bad. But as soon as everything starts up with the two, it just follows the same pattern in 95% of other YA/NA books. There were no twists or aspects that make the book stand out. Once they got together, everything was hunky dory and wonderful together - which, yes, can happen in real life obviously. But it was just boring :( sorry!

All the intimate scenes just felt like repeats, and I ended up skipping a lot of the last few as they added nothing to the overall story and the whole plot of the book felt like a massive shift. Meanwhile, slut shaming galore! So, Jade talks about how her roommate just goes from guy to guy but isn't 'a slut or anything'. Why does that statement have to be added? Just state how Jade and Kelli treat guys differently but stop with the slut shaming in every goddamn NA book! 

Shep: I didn't like him. I liked him for the first chapter, but for the intimate scenes, or when he was trying to charm Jade early on, I just cringed so much at his lines and arrogance. As he fell for Jade, granted, he did improve in respecting her and behaviour and there was a struggle between his old "player" self and trying to be a good boyfriend to Jade. I didn't find his arrogant nature swoon-worthy in the slightest anyway. 

Both main characters, of course, had parental issues!! What NA book would have a main character with a nice family?! But anyway, neither actually acknowledged the issues they had with their parents until it was imperative for the story and keep the plot turning. 

Overall:

I nearly DNF'd, but persevered. Not the best book I've read and a very flat and predictable story line.