Net Galley Catch Up

A couple of weeks ago, I logged in to my Net Galley account for the first time in months. I discovered that I am 14 books behind. I have read the books but I didn’t write a review for them to my horror. Especially since a couple of these books ended up being favourites.

This is why it’s important to write my thoughts as soon as I finish reading. Because chances are I will forget all the things about the book. So the conundrum now is that I have to either re-read the books or wing the reviews as they stand. So one of my goals this month is to catch up and send my feedbacks on the books that I’ve long read and finished.

NEGLECTED PILE

I Flipping Love You by Helena Hunting | Rend by Roan Parrish | Better Not Pout by Annabeth Albert | Summoned to the Thirteenth Grave by Darynda Jones | Five Feet Apart Rachael Lippincott, et al.
The Bachelor Contract by Rachel Van Dyken | The Final Score by Jaci Burton | Neanderthal Opens the Door to the Universe by Preston Norton | Wheels Up by Annabeth Albert | Don’t Call Me Cupcake by Tara Sheets
New York, Acutally by Sarah Morgan | Wish You Were Mine by Tara Silvec | Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor | Hello, Sunshine by Leila Howard

I want to clean my Net Galley shelves before the end of the year, so that’s one of my recent goals. Aside from my 2k goal, that is. I feel like I only need to skim through these books to refresh my thoughts.

How about you? Are you up-to-date with your Net Galley requests?

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[759]: Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

Ms. McQuiston’s debut novel comes in heavy with the greatest of praises that it was almost intimidating to pick up. All the reviews so far touched on how ridiculously sweet and fun it was. So because I am but a feeble human, I was unable to ignore the call. 

I mean, how could I? The story in itself combines romance and humour set in the backdrop of America’s quasi-current political climes. We have here the first son of the first woman POTUS initially involved in years of antagonistic rivalry with the English prince culminating in a disastrous scuffle at a well-publicized event. So when both countries’ PR teams decided the only way to clean up the mess was to have them do charitable public events, the two will have no choice but to address the long-standing feud. 

Enemies to lovers is one of my favourite romance tropes. But it only works if the author can pepper the dialogues with witty and funny banter. As well, the chemistry between characters also has to work. Red, White and Royal Blue, thankfully hits all the right notes. Alex and Henry couldn’t be more perfect than if I drew them in my mind and told Ms. McQuiston how I pictured them. 

This book also touched on some social issues plaguing the annals of American politics but only to a lighter degree. I was glad that being a bisexual wasn’t painted in a shade that most bible thumpers only knew how. It’s how I imagined the Americans could be: accepting as to have a woman president, whose ex-husband is a Mexican who is also a sitting Senator. 

Their kids, along with the vice president’s granddaughter, make up the White House Trio; the perfect magnet for young, impressionable voters. The media and the social media, for that matter, follow their lives like the celebrities that they are. When a romance between the first son and the prince of England came to light, their lives and global politics will never be the same. 

So comes the choice between finding their own happiness or potentially ruining the lives of their parents, and in Henry’s case, the throne. 

This book was absolutely amazing, addictive, and an absolute darling. I have read and re-read it many a times since it hit my Kindle. It reminded me of how I felt reading The Hating Game by Sally Thorne. It was just oh so good and my favourite kind of read for the simple reason that made me forget about the weariness of the day. 

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[694]: Eleventh Grave in Moonlight by Darynda Jones

More of the same but a fantastic filler for fans of the series, regardless.


Eleventh Grave in Moonlight
by Darynda Jones

The eleventh sequel to the Charley Davidson series finds our favorite grim reaper living with a newfound reality. That she is a powerful god whose immense power is greater than any god that ever existed makes her question the sanity of anyone who says so. And while she’s contemplating the impossibility of her prowess, I found that at times, I was in a state of disbelief myself as well. Because she doesn’t have full control of her powers yet, she’s hesitant to flex her muscles for fear that she’ll bring forth Armageddon unto mankind.  I mean, she did show some but I think we’ve barely scratched the surface of the scope of her powers. Other than being indestructible, she’s apparently a god-eater. Which means she could potentially retain the powers of the gods she’ll consume (or maybe I’m getting ahead of myself here). Let’s hope we’ll find out in the next few books.

So little Beep is still ensconced under the protection of Charley’s army – both holy and unholy alike. I’m not gonna lie, I wish for more interactions between mom, dad and Beep. I want to read more than just a second-hand account of her growth and development. I mean, if this baby is as powerful as prophesied, I kinda want to see how she grows up. I’m itching to ask Ms. Jones when we can expect the inevitable spin-off. It is, however, so much fun to see Reyes bully Osh since finding out the uncomfortable truth about his future and how it relates to Beep.

 As much as this installment was a load of fun, the overall plot of the series didn’t really move. Aside from the cruel ending that is the precursor to the next book, the entire novel consisted of mini story arcs moving towards an intro to the 12th.  There was a brief but sad story of a toddler who died under a toppled drawers; Ubie being distracted by whatever was bothering him; a creepy stalker stalking Amber, and the emergence of a new character and his role in the life of Reyes’ abductors. (Whom by the way, finally got a somewhat satisfying comeuppance once and for all).

In truth, I was annoyed in some parts of the novel. I hate the unnecessary keeping of secrets as a device to stretch a story arc. It’s like, come on, people. We’ve all been here before. Secrets never end well for everybody involved! Thankfully, they didn’t let it fester for as long as they can. But heck, annoying just the same. Charley also grated on my nerve a little. Sometimes, her off-the-cuff humor was off-putting and not at all funny. I mean it was funny, but it was annoying because I feel like there should be a time for serious business.

Despite all my misgivings, there’s very little that could dissuade me from reading the next installments in this series (and I hope there’ll be lots). I’m a fan and will always be a fan so long as Charley remains the neurotic grim reaper that I’ve come to love, and Reyes remains the smoldering Son of Satan who singes the page whenever he makes an appearance.

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[593]: Hello? by Liza Wiemer

22663633 Hello? by Liza Wiemer
Stand-alone
E-ARC via Net Galley and Spencer Hill Contemporary
Publication Date: November 10, 2015
Young Adult Fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars


One HELLO? can change a life. One HELLO? can save a life.

Tricia: A girl struggling to find her way after her beloved grandma’s death.
Emerson: A guy who lives his life to fulfill promises, real and hypothetical.
Angie: A girl with secrets she can only express through poetry.
Brenda: An actress and screenplay writer afraid to confront her past.
Brian: A potter who sets aside his life for Tricia, to the detriment of both.

Linked and transformed by one phone call, Hello? weaves together these five Wisconsin teens’ stories into a compelling narrative of friendship and family, loss and love, heartbreak and healing, serendipity, and ultimately hope.

Told from all five viewpoints: narration (Tricia), narration (Emerson), free verse poetry (Angie), screenplay format (Brenda), narration and drawings (Brian).


Right from the get-go, this book tested my tolerance level. We see Tricia struggling to cope with the loss of her last living relative. We see her push away the only person who has been with her since day one. At first, I didn’t think I was going to get through it because I’m the type of reader who has a hard time connecting with a grieving, woeful character. But after a few swipe of my Kindle, I was hooked. So engrossed I was that I read this in one sitting. Well, practically.

HELLO FROM THE OTHER SIDE

On the night when Tricia was struggling to claw her way out of the abyss, she unlocked her father’s gun cabinet and decided to end it all. Desperate for a sign or a connection to her loved ones, she called her grandmother’s old cell phone number. Emerson answered. Haltingly, she told him about her state of mind when she called the number. By some divine intervention, Emerson was able to talk her off the ledge – so to speak. It was the life jacket that Tricia needed to save her from drowning.

SIX DEGREES OF SEPARATION

There are three other simultaneous arches seamlessly connected to Tricia’s and Emerson’s stories. There’s Brian, of course. Tricia’s ex who have given it all to her but still couldn’t save their relationship. Then there’s Angie, Emerson’s girlfriend who have lived a double life trying to impress everyone for the wrong reasons. There’s Brenda, Angie’s best friend whose past has pretty much dictated her present and future, but the only way she could be happy is if she’ll confront her demons. All these stories make up the heartfelt brilliance of this book. At first, I was somewhat irritated by the number of points of view being thrown at me. But it didn’t take long for me to realize how vital each and everyone’s perspective were.

IN RETROSPECT

Most of us could learn a thing or two about life and love through this book. Miracles and divine providence may be hard to believe at times, but one should never lose hope. Lize Wiemer crafted a complete story with varying degrees of heartache and optimism. Absolutely love this!

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[569]: Surviving Ice by K.A. Tucker

25110836 GOODREADS SUMMARY
Series: Burying Water, #4
Publication Date: October 27th, 2015
Format: E-ARC via Net Galley
Adult Fiction | Romance | Suspense
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars


Ivy, a talented tattoo artist who spent the early part of her twenties on the move, is finally looking for a place to call home. She thinks she might have found it in San Francisco, but all that changes when she witnesses a terrible crime. She’s ready to pack up her things yet again, when a random encounter with a stranger keeps her in the city, giving her reason to stay after all.

That is, until Ivy discovers that their encounter wasn’t random. Not at all…


I changed my mind. River isn’t the hottest man in this series. It’s actually, Mr. International Man of Mystery himself, Sebastian Riker. I don’t particularly swoon over male characters (not often, anyway), but man, Sebastian is one cool customer. I’ve always been a sucker for secret agents, assassins, Marines and NAVY SEALs and since Sebastian was all of those,  he was an instant hit.  I read this book in one shot. As usual, this instalment was predictably, ho-hum addictive. I sincerely hope this is not the last one, because there’s not a lot of books in this genre that I enjoy.

Surviving Ice takes us to San Francisco, where vagabond, Ivy Lee (bad-ass, kick-ass tattoo artist extraordinaire) decided to plant roots, albeit temporarily, with the man who inspired her to become a tattoo artist. Her uncle has always been more of a father figure for her. Even more so than the one who sired her. When she becomes the lone witness for her uncle’s murder, she also becomes the target of a very dangerous organization. Enter Ice (a.k.a Sebastian), the man who was supposed to find the incriminating evidence his employer was being blackmailed for; and disposed of the person who may or may not know its whereabouts.

Sebastian has always been precise and efficient with his assignments. But after meeting Ivy, unexpected complications stalled him temporarily. Ivy, for her inability to form connections with other human beings, has never felt more tempted to solve the puzzle that is, Sebastian. But that would require her letting someone in her life. I like the inherent chemistry between the two. It felt so natural. The instant connection was so realistic and not at all forced.

One of the best things about Ms. Tucker’s writing is that it flows so effortlessly. She mixes the right amount of heat, adrenaline, and emotions without being superfluous with her plot and characters. It is what makes her stories so easy to read, so much fun and so addictive.

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[561]: The One Thing by Marci Lyn Curtis

18369372 The One Thing by Marci Lyn Curtis
Disney-Hyperion | September 8th, 2015
E-ARC via Net Galley & Disney-Hyperion
Young Adult Fiction
Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars


Maggie Sanders might be blind, but she won’t invite anyone to her pity party. Ever since losing her sight six months ago, Maggie’s rebellious streak has taken on a life of its own, culminating with an elaborate school prank. Maggie called it genius. The judge called it illegal.

Now Maggie has a probation officer. But she isn’t interested in rehabilitation, not when she’s still mourning the loss of her professional-soccer dreams, and furious at her so-called friends, who lost interest in her as soon as she could no longer lead the team to victory.

Then Maggie’s whole world is turned upside down. Somehow, incredibly, she can see again. But only one person: Ben, a precocious ten-year-old unlike anyone she’s ever met. Ben’s life isn’t easy, but he doesn’t see limits, only possibilities. After awhile, Maggie starts to realize that losing her sight doesn’t have to mean losing everything she dreamed of. Even if what she’s currently dreaming of is Mason Milton, the infuriatingly attractive lead singer of Maggie’s new favorite band, who just happens to be Ben’s brother.

But when she learns the real reason she can see Ben, Maggie must find the courage to face a once-unimaginable future… before she loses everything she has grown to love.


It’s tough to review a book that I sort of like and sort of didn’t like. When I can’t reconcile how I really feel for it that I’m left precariously straddling that line. The One Thing could’ve been so good. But I felt that its two major flaws are simply insurmountable that I can’t give it a rating higher than 3 stars.

The summary succinctly gives you the bulk of the plot. Maggie was once a rising soccer star before she went blind. She had meningitis. Ever since then, she’d pretty much shut out the world and wallowed in self-pity and misery. Upon meeting 10-year old, Ben, however, she realizes she can see. But only Ben and his immediate surroundings. Like a halo of light.  Ben, who has been in crutches his whole life because he was born with spina bifida. 

Hanging out with Ben has some benefits, to be sure. For one, he’s funny, smart and the seeing thing is a bonus. Also, Ben’s brother just happens to be the lead singer of her favourite band, Loose Cannons. But Mason Milton wouldn’t give her the time of day. He thinks she’s faking her “blindness”. He thinks she’s taking advantage of his younger brother, and that she’s nothing but a rabid fan who’s using Ben to get to him. He’s wrong, of course. Maggie only ever wanted to feel like normal again and the precocious Ben gives her a semblance of that.

There is a reason why she can only see Ben and not the rest of the world. For Maggie, the gravity of that reason may be just as difficult to accept as the loss of the life she used to have.

I’m the type of reader who accepts any unimaginable scenarios in fiction. I don’t care how far-reaching the plots are. If you make it believable, I’ll read it. After reading this book, I found out that yes, I do have a limit. And Maggie’s ability to see certain people without biological or medical relevance just didn’t cut it.

I also couldn’t buy into the eventual romance between Mason and Maggie. Mason has that arrogance that was not at all endearing, to be honest. I understand that he’s protective of his brother, but his attitude became intolerable too fast. Their relationship just didn’t work for me. I thought they would’ve been better off as friends who had Ben in common. I think the problem is that there wasn’t enough time for their relationship to develop. Maggie spent a lot of time with Ben, dodging her therapist, and harbouring hurt feelings toward her parents. I get so frustrated with people who can’t express their feelings easily. And Maggie did a lot of suppressing hers that it became too much for me at times.

Over all, this book has been getting so much love. I feel like such a schmuck for not loving it just as much. I think that if you can forgive  the things that makes the plot a bit ridiculous, then you might just enjoy this book.

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[494]: When by Victoria Laurie

when GOODREADS SUMMARY
Disney Hyperion | E-ARC via Net Galley
January 13th, 2015
Young Adult | Suspense
Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars


When’s  plot line might be something that most readers will find a bit of a novelty. When in fact, the story of a girl who can read a person’s “expiry date” has been done previously by Rachel Ward. Her Numbers series was a bit more harsh than this one as it dealt with  realistic portrayal of the kind of life for a couple of kids in the foster care system of London.  This novel is slightly less jarring than that.

When is the story of Maddie, a high schooler who only wanted to get through life undetected. But with her uncanny ability of knowing the exact date a person is suppose to die, her classmates had labeled her,  a “freak”. Her mother’s continued descent down the abyss of a bottle has been a direct result of her father’s death in the line of duty.  And with all their money going into her mother’s drinking habit, she’d been forced to use her ability to earn some extra money.

When kids around her started going missing – and worst, started dying – the FBI was quick to focus their attention on her. But when a cheerleader turns up murdered, the investigation quickly shifts to her best friend. Maddie acquires the help of her uncle to prove her friend’s innocence while she begrudgingly tries to work hand in hand with the FBI to find the real killer.

If there’s one thing I can complain about this book is its lack of suspense. Because there were no clear suspects, the readers will miss the response a mystery novel requires for a successful interactive book/reader relationship.  I had no guesses, and no starting point to solve the mystery. While that gives readers the liberty to do their own guesswork, the lack of viable suspects made it look like the killers were chosen at random.

The lack of romance doesn’t bear no relevance in my inability to enjoy this book. In fact, it would’ve been an awkward element if there was one.

Much of the grievances that readers have expressed had to do with unrealistic portrayal of the murder investigation conducted by the FBI.  I didn’t really have a problem with this. A bit of advice, when you read a synopsis and it states something as unrealistic as a person having the ability to tell your exact expiry date, chances are, the author probably have taken artistic/creative liberties over and beyond your expectations. Relinquish your analytic mind and stop looking for something realistic, I say.

This book had such a great foundation. Unfortunately, it couldn’t build any further than what we’re given in the synopsis.

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