[762]: The Mister by E.L. James

The Mister by E.L James | April 16th, 2019

Rating: 1 out of 5 Stars

Le sigh.

I’m glad I didn’t buy a copy, to be honest. I borrowed the audio from my library. I didn’t have any expectations when I added it on my TBR. But I certainly didn’t expect to be bored out of my wits. Full disclosure, I got up to chapter 19 before I quit. Yes, I gave it the benefit of the doubt before I realize the novel would not improve, nor would the story go faster than the molasses-in-winter pace it had going on.

I don’t think it’s a big secret that my guilty pleasure is reading about billionaires and the virgins they attract into their lairs. Based on Ms. James’ earlier successful novels, she knows a thing or two about this trope. I think that’s why I had a hard time saying no, to be perfectly honest. However, this was a snoozefest. And the characters lack, well, characterizations – personalities, if I may.

I think she really tried, though. In this book, we have a photographer, Earl, DJ, and model to replace Christian Grey. His name is Maxim Trevelyan. So instead of a billionaire extraordinaire, our hero is someone that she tried to add some depth. Unfortunately, no amount of versatility could save our poor Maxim. He, like, Christian Grey only thinks about the woman in his periphery. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but at this point in my reading life, I just can’t be bothered. I need something more in my hero.

Let’s talk about our virgin. Oh man, she could’ve saved this travesty. She’s an Albanian who was a victim of human trafficking. But then her story got convoluted with the addition of an abusive fiancĂ©. I wish she’d picked one character plotline and went with it. I mean, did she run away from the fiance? Or did she run away for a better life? It would’ve been interesting to see her plight as someone who got away from those who attempted to sell her. As it was, that point of her characterization was not fully explored.

As a reader, it’s frustrating when an author can’t find a way to remove themselves from the shadow of their previously successful novel. When Ms. James was a fanfiction writer, I was one of her legion of fans who thought she was the bees’ knees and looked forward to reading best selling novels she’d write. This is just her second endeavour, if you think about it. Here’s hoping she’ll get better at it. 🙂

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[744]: Girl in Snow by Danya Kukafka

A sparsely told tale of murder in the eyes of three dissimilar narrators.


Girl in Snow
by Danya Kukafka

Girl in Snow tells a detailed story of a murdered teen who didn’t lack for friends and enemies. Though the author didn’t necessarily focus on solving the case, per se. It was more an account of her life through the eyes of three unrelated narrators.

Unfortunately, I was wholly removed from the story. The writing lacked a certain quality that evokes empathy or enthusiasm to see through the ending. I’ve never read something like this before, where the main character is dead and the story backhandedly revolves around her but because the narrator isn’t her, it really wasn’t.

There are three narrators that are directly and indirectly related to Lucinda Hayes: there’s Cameron Whitely who had this obsession about her. He’d been caught stalking her a number of times and yet the author wouldn’t be so lazy as to pin the murder unto him. There’s the token girl who hated her very existence simply because they were friends before but since Lucinda belonged in the popular crowd, their friendship suffered until they could no longer stand each other’s presence. And then there’s the investigator solving the case. His only relation to Lucinda’s case was through Cameron. Officer Russ used to be Cameron’s father’s partner in the force until his involvement in a case led to his ruin.

In truth, I had a hard time unpacking this book. There were threads in the story that I struggle to unravel, leading to my disinterest in the story. The characters left me cold, and the writing, beautiful though as they may be, was just unattainably circuitous. The author offered a few red herrings, for sure. But because of the narrators’ respective stories, I got easily distracted and eventually lost interest.

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Morsels [17]: Nothing Good Can Come From This

26409580 GOODREADS SUMMARY
Series: Prisoners of Peace, #2
Margaret K. McElderry Books | September 20th, 2016
Source: ARC paperback from Simon & Schuster
Young Adult | Science Fiction
Rating: DNF


I’ve not DNF’d a book in a long time because I didn’t believe in the practice. I believe that I’m doing a disservice to the authors who worked hard at their craft. But after a considerable time, I’ve also learned that I cannot, in good conscience, allow my TBR pile to grow bigger because I’m stuck reading a book for weeks at a time. Such is the case with The Swan Riders.

I read The Scorpion Rules a month or so ago because I got this sequel for review. And while I struggled with that book as well, I somehow managed to get through it just fine. It wasn’t the most amazing thing I’ve read but it was passable, at least. I had hoped that The Swan Riders will redeem it all for me, though. I rooted for it to get better. But after a few weeks of trudging along, I could no longer do it.

I had an overwhelming feeling of apathy with this book. It was unbelievably slow, sterile, and clinical. Greta as a human left me cold. Greta as an AI left me feeling hopeless. I just didn’t have it in me to be gracious and patient. I was bored and wishing I was reading something else. And it wouldn’t be fair if I couldn’t give it the attention it deserves. I had to abandon this one.


29965776 GOODREADS SUMMARY
Series: Mister, #2
Self Published | June 22nd, 2016
Source: Bought
Erotica | Adult Fiction
Rating: 1 out of 5 Stars


This book made me rage. Romanticizing rape is never okay. And if you tell me that “fantasy rape” is not romanticizing rape, don’t. You’re wasting your breath.

“Mr. Romantic isn’t as dark as some of my characters. James Fenici is dark. Merc is dark. Hell, I think Ford is probably darker than Mr. Romantic. So that’s why there’s no trigger warning in my blurb. This isn’t a dark book and if you think it is, you missed the point.” (from the page, End of Book Shit).

The author writes that readers who will find this book to be dark will have more than likely missed the point entirely.  And I’m okay with that. I don’t care if your book is something that’s not written with my taste in mind. What I care about is the level of patronizing superiority to assume that you know what would and wouldn’t set your readers off.   I’ve read some pretty fucked up Erotica in my life but nothing could ever be this level of fucked up. The man, “Mr. Romantic”, likes to exercise his dominance with fantasy rape. He’s physically and verbally abusive. And yet, the author decided not to put a trigger warning on her blurb, because, like she said, this is not dark. But who are you to decide?

Mr. Romantic has no redeeming qualities whatsoever. He grated on my nerves from the get go. I enjoy dominant characters from time to time, but I was not ready for this man. Ivy Rockwell is the fly trapped in his web. And if there’s anything I hate more than asshole characters it’s the doormat heroines that plays opposite them.

 

 

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[665]: Burn Down the Night by Molly O’Keefe

27970260 Burn Down the Night by Molly O’Keefe
Series: Everything I Left Unsaid, #3
Loveswept | August 9, 2016
Adult Fiction | Romance | Suspense
Rating: 1 out of 5 Stars


The only thing that matters to me is rescuing my sister from the drug-cooking cult that once enslaved us both. I’ve run cons my whole life, and I’ll use my body to get whatever I need. Max Daniels is the last connection I have to that world, the one person reckless enough to get involved. Besides, now that his brothers have turned on him, he needs me too.

The deal was supposed to be simple: a place to hide in exchange for rescuing my sister. Now he’s my prisoner. Totally at my mercy. But I’m the one captivated. Enthralled. Doing everything he asks of me until I’m not sure who’s in control.

We both crave the heat. The more it hurts, the better. But what if Max wants a different life now, to leave the game . . . to love me? I thought I knew better than to get burned. Now I’m in too deep to pull away. And the crazy thing is . . . I don’t want to.


It is with my utmost and heartfelt regret that I’m writing this review. If I’m being honest, my real feelings go deeper than dislike. I had so many problems with this installment – mostly centered on the major characters. Frankly, they did some things that I didn’t agree with and the stuff they pulled on each other was despicable. Regardless of how the story went and no matter how satisfying that ending was, I couldn’t get past my initial revulsion. This is why I’m not cut out for angst or anything resembling dark erotic tales. It reminded me of how I felt about Tiffany Reisz’ The Original Sinners novels and A.N. Roquelaure’s Sleeping Beauty series. My curiosity got the better of me on that one.

In case you’re not familiar with this series, the second book ended with Max and Joan/Olivia on the run from the MC gang that Max used to lead. Having barely escaped death, Joan drove to Florida where she knew her aunt would be able to fix  the bloodied and beaten Max. Her plan of rescuing her sister from the hands of a sadistic drug lord was temporarily on hold – at least until Max recovers from his wounds. But Max was bent on revenge so Joan had to literally handcuff him to make sure he doesn’t escape. This did not bode well with Max. Thus begins the agony of watching a twisted foreplay before my eyes. While some would find it erotic, I found it painful to read. They were borderline abusive and toxic; so much so that it made me feel uncomfortable.

There was also a scene that I couldn’t bear to read. I’d rather not say what it was, but I wasn’t a fan. I skimmed that part mostly because I really hated it. At that point, I debated whether or not I should continue. Truth be told, I haven’t DNF’d a book in a couple of years, so I was not about to let this book change that. I persevered but my face had a permanent grimace the whole time I was reading it. Personal feelings aside, Molly O’Keefe captured Max and Joan in all their broken glory. They’re both determined, albeit, self-destructive; guilt-ridden but their hearts are in the right place – at least when it comes to protecting their families. It takes patience to be able to endure them, and unfortunately, they caught me at a time when I was feeling a bit less generous.

Despite my abhorrence to this book, I’m very excited to read the next one which is, hopefully, Tiffany and Blake’s story. From what I’ve read so far, these two are a ticking time bomb. Everything I Left Unsaid is, arguably one of the best NA series out there. I hope this review will not deter you from reading the books because you would be missing out on stories that are true, gritty, and heartbreaking.

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[575]: Alex by Sawyer Bennett

21794306 Alex by Sawyer Bennett
Series: Cold Fury, #1
Loveswept | October 14th, 2014
Kindle Edition
Adult Fiction | Romance
Rating: 1 out 5 Stars


Hockey star Alexander Crossman has a reputation as a cold-hearted player on and off the rink. Pushed into the sport by an alcoholic father, Alex isn’t afraid to give fans the proverbial middle finger, relishing his role as the MVP they love to hate. Management, however, isn’t so amused. Now Alex has a choice: fix his public image through community service or ride the bench. But Alex refuses to be molded into the Carolina Cold Fury poster boy . . . not even by a tempting redhead with killer curves.

As a social worker, Sutton Price is accustomed to difficult people–like Alex, who’s been assigned to help her create a drug-abuse awareness program for at-risk youth as part of the team’s effort to clean up his image. What she doesn’t expect is the arrogant smirk from his perfect lips to stir her most heated fantasies. But Sutton isn’t one to cross professional boundaries–and besides, Alex doesn’t do relationships . . . or does he? The more she sees behind Alex’s bad-boy facade, the more Sutton craves the man she uncovers.”


As a Canadian, being a hockey enthusiast/fan is as natural as futbol is to South Americans. So it is only logical that reading romance novels starring hockey players would be instinctual for someone like me. And you know what? You would be right to assume so. In my defence, I enjoy any books about athletes. My favourite ones are football players (not to be confused with soccer players…mind you, soccer players are hot, too. But, I digress). I’ve heard of the name, Sawyer Bennett floating around the blogosphere. But I’ve just not really made a concerted effort to check out her work. So when I saw this book on sale over at Audible, I didn’t hesitate to download it right away. Unfortunately, this book and I didn’t really get on as good as I would like.

FIVE FOR FIGHTING

Alex is a household name in the NHL. He’s a skilled player on ice who never even had to try. Because of this, he’s loved and hated by his peers and fans alike. He goes through the motions; he’s uninspired and he makes it a point to antagonize his coaches, his teammates, the team owners and the fans. After another one of his antics, the owners have had enough. They ordered him to a community service of sorts. Fail, and he’ll be suspended and get fined. Hockey is all he’s ever known. If he lost his career, he’ll have nothing.

Enter Sutton Price. The poor social worker who has to endure a difficult task. Through her, Alex hopes to change his image. Sutton is used to handling difficult people. But one look at Alex and she knew she was in trouble. Despite knowing how bad it would be to cross professional lines, she can’t deny their inherent mutual attraction towards the other. Layer by layer, she sees the past that made Alex who he is now. And since she’s a sucker for hopeless cases, she knew that resistance is futile.

OFF SIDE

I have a huge thing for bad boys in books. But the badass-ness has to come as easily as breathing. I don’t like manufactured bad boys.  Alex is the kind of character who was unfortunate enough to made into a bad boy that didn’t feel as natural as say, Martin Sandeke. Gratuitous cussing does not a bad boy make. Perma-scowl does not make you a candidate for the next Mr. Darcy.  There was just something really off about the kind of tortured character Ms. Bennett conjured up for me. And unfortunately, it’s one of the primary reason why I didn’t enjoy this book.

The project that they were supposed to work on together didn’t really happen, to be honest. There was no image facelift here. So he made a speech in front of a gymnasium full of high school kids, but I don’t think it made a difference considering there was no media attention to the kind of good deeds he was doing – admirable though as it was. Besides, the bad boy thing was so superficial, y’all. I mean, he wasn’t going around getting into bar fights and taking enhancement drugs. He wasn’t caught beating on a girlfriend in an elevator (Ray Rice). Or carrying around a concealed weapon (Plaxico Burress). Or worst, killing someone (Aaron Hernandez)! So he wasn’t friendly with his teammates. So he ignores the accolades he so rightfully deserves. So the freaking what?! That’s not really a bad boy thing. That’s just him being an introvert.

And as far as Sutton Price goes, I’m not really a fan of timid characters. She’s so…er…rice cake. She’s bland and one-dimensional.

OVERTIME

In some ways I think Sutton and Alex are perfect for each other. Because only Sutton can put up with the kind of unpredictability and instability Alex go through sometimes. There was no chemistry between these two. I didn’t buy into their relationship from the get-go. I don’t know if I’ll be continuing on with this series, to be honest. The next book is about Garett. From what I’ve read about him, he’s the easy-going version of Alex. So not really my type.

 

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[528]: The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord

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GOODREADS SUMMARY | Bloomsbury | Hardcover, 384 pp. | March 31st, 2015 | Young Adult Fiction | Romance | Rating: 1 out of 5 Stars


When a book gets a 1-star rating on the blog, it generally means that I had to physically force myself to finish it, and that I was close to abandoning ship. I also had to take breaks from it because it was either, really awful or boring as f*ck (pardon my language). Well, this was a combination of all three.

I’m obviously at odds with everyone who read this book. One paltry star for an author that I’ve considered  money in her genre? Say it ain’t so! But yeah. Here’s where we’re at. This was the most boring thing I’ve ever read in a long time. What happened to the gritty  writing of Open Road Summer? While I agree that these are two different story lines altogether, I have to say that I don’t even recognize the writing. Plebeian, pedestrian, dull are just three of the words that come to mind when I think about this book.

Nothing ever happened. It was an endless banal account of Paige Hancock’s life. She has the personality of an unsalted rice cake and when she started becoming interesting, she was all over the place. She’s convinced that Ryan is the next best thing since sliced bread, but it didn’t take a long time before she realizes his cousin is more worth it. She tells me she’s grieving over her boyfriend who drowned and died, but she herself couldn’t even bring herself to feel that she should be grieving. In fact, she feels guilty when people felt sorry for her. Sometimes, she’ll talk about how they weren’t even together long enough to warrant the sympathy afforded to grieving widows, only to turn around and fall apart when something reminds her of Aaron. Sorry. But, make up your mind, will ya? I mean, you were together for two months. I get it. Death is hard, especially if the deceased was close to you, but come on, now. Tell me something endearing about Aaron so I can convince myself that you’re not being over dramatic. I apologize for being cold and callous, but Paige has the flare for the dramatics.

Case in point: Her parents were previously divorced. But now, they’re dating each other. You’d think Paige will be over the moon with this news?  Noooo. She doesn’t think they should be together. Because they were apparently awful together. Whatever. Why can’t you just be happy for them?I don’t know. She might’ve caught at a time when I’m all out of empathy.

There really isn’t much to talk about this book. It’s pages upon pages of kids basically just being high school kids. The thing that disappointed me the most is that I thought Emery Lord is beyond using fillers. Because once you get your characters involved in a rousing game of Spin the Bottle/Eleven Minutes in Heaven, you know you’ve run out of things to write about. Which is sad, because this is only her second book. Before reading this, I was convinced that Emery Lord is well on her way to usurping Sarah Dessen as the big thing in contemporary fiction. This book, however, tells me that she’s got a few thousand miles to go yet.

On a side note: I really love this picture. Shame, the book was awful.

 

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