[661]: Air Awakens by Elise Kova

23127048 Silver Wing Press | August 27th, 2015
Series: Air Awakens, #1
Paperback, 377 pp.
New Adult | Fantasy
Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars


A library apprentice, a sorcerer prince, and an unbreakable magic bond…

The Solaris Empire is one conquest away from uniting the continent, and the rare elemental magic sleeping in seventeen-year-old library apprentice Vhalla Yarl could shift the tides of war.

Vhalla has always been taught to fear the Tower of Sorcerers, a mysterious magic society, and has been happy in her quiet world of books. But after she unknowingly saves the life of one of the most powerful sorcerers of them all—the Crown Prince Aldrik—she finds herself enticed into his world. Now she must decide her future: Embrace her sorcery and leave the life she’s known, or eradicate her magic and remain as she’s always been. And with powerful forces lurking in the shadows, Vhalla’s indecision could cost her more than she ever imagined.


I wish I can join in the furor left in the wake of this little indie book. For the record, I like the idea of an apprentice slowly coming to terms with her supposed powerful magic. But I was frustrated with Vhalla. She was stubborn in such a way that she refused to embrace her powers. Nothing wrong with grandstanding as long as you have the balls to back it up. In the end, it wasn’t all the root cause of why I didn’t quite enjoy this book. At times, I wanted to shriek in frustration because for all the talks of her being the most powerful and rare, I never saw it. The readers was only given a second-hand account of it. She was always unaware of what she was doing when she was unleashing her power. It was very irritating.

What the heck is a Windwalker, anyway?

What is her power? It annoys me that after finishing the first book, I still hadn’t a clue as to what she can do. Can she fly? Can she summon wind? I wish that I didn’t have to read the next set of books to learn the scope and breadth of her power. If I’d learned of what she can do in Air Awakens, I’d be one-clicking the entire series faster than you can say, next! 

Technicalities

The pacing didn’t bother me either way. The lack of consistency wasn’t as annoying as I’d expected it to be. This is one of those times when I wasn’t interested in what happened to the characters or the story either way. I was going through the motions and was just racing to get to the end. Which is a clear indication that it was all over before the crying! I kind of knew how it would end but that didn’t stave off my frustration somehow. As far as series opening goes, this was the kind of introduction that I wasn’t a fan of. Because instead of whetting my appetite for the rest of the books, it incited a general lack of interest.

In Retrospect

Three stars for world-building and plot; and for a slow-burn romance that I could’ve enjoyed reading come to a fruition. Overall, this is not the fantasy I was looking for. Sorry.

 

 

 

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[658]: 738 Days by Stacey Kade

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Forge Books | July 7th, 2016 | 4 out of 5 Stars


738 Days, for the most part, is a stereotypical new adult novel: girl and boy with broken pasts save each other from their own demons. It also has one of those impossible romances: celebrity actor falls in love with a commoner. And yet, even with these clichèd tropes, I ended up enjoying this book. At 432 pages, it’s also a bit heftier than your average romance novels. But you’ll never notice the pages flipping by because you’re so ensconced in Amanda Grace’s and Chase Henry’s plights.

The beginning of the novel was a little tough to get through. We see Amanda Grace in captivity, beaten and bloody, and talking to an imaginary Chase Henry in her head. He was the voice she clung to in her months of torture. He was the one that told her to hold on and had kept her fighting through darkness and hopelessness. They’d never met. He was an actor in a show that her sister loved. But he was the face that kept her going in that dark basement where her captor had kept her. Years after she was freed, she’s in a different prison that she’s created for herself: anxiety and fear. At twenty years old, she has no life to speak of. Her family life is in shambles and some days, she can’t even bear the thought of leaving her house. So when Chase Henry shows up at her place of employment, her reaction was severe and instantaneous. She ran away.

Chase Henry’s career has taken a nose dive over the years after a few bad decisions. Given the chance to save what’s left of it, he’ll grab at any opportunity that comes his way. Even if it would mean playing a small part in an indie film and taking advantage of his hero status to a girl whom he indirectly saved all those years ago. But upon meeting Amanda Grace, he saw himself for what he was: an opportunistic leech ready to put another person through what was the most traumatic memories of her life if only to garner a spotlight in the media once again.

 738 Days is a story about redemption and courage. And while Chase’s reasons for helping Amanda Grace was selfish in the beginning, he immediately saw that he was well on his way to repeating the same mistakes he did in the past. Courage comes in many forms. For Amanda Grace, it was being with Chase even if it brings about many memories of her time chained to the wall in the basement of her captor. It was putting herself back in the spotlight again and unearthing all the things she wished she could forget. In a way, it was also admitting her role in the demise of her crumbling family relationships. It hasn’t been easy for her, and no one could blame her. She was only 15 when she was abducted – hard to recover from that.

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[644]: The Law of Moses by Amy Harmon

23252517 The Law of Moses by Amy Harmon
Series: The Law of Moses, #1
November 27th, 2014 | Self-Published
Adult Fiction | Romance
Rating: 2 out of 5 Stars


Someone found him in a laundry basket at the Quick Wash, wrapped in a towel, a few hours old and close to death. They called him Baby Moses when they shared his story on the ten o’clock news – the little baby left in a basket at a dingy Laundromat, born to a crack addict and expected to have all sorts of problems. I imagined the crack baby, Moses, having a giant crack that ran down his body, like he’d been broken at birth. I knew that wasn’t what the term meant, but the image stuck in my mind. Maybe the fact that he was broken drew me to him from the start.

It all happened before I was born, and by the time I met Moses and my mom told me all about him, the story was old news and nobody wanted anything to do with him. People love babies, even sick babies. Even crack babies. But babies grow up to be kids, and kids grow up to be teenagers. Nobody wants a messed up teenager.

And Moses was messed up. Moses was a law unto himself. But he was also strange and exotic and beautiful. To be with him would change my life in ways I could never have imagined. Maybe I should have stayed away. Maybe I should have listened. My mother warned me. Even Moses warned me. But I didn’t stay away.

And so begins a story of pain and promise, of heartache and healing, of life and death. A story of before and after, of new beginnings and never-endings. But most of all…a love story.


Part romance, part paranormal, The Law of Moses is one of those books that had a great start but slowly and eventually disintegrated as the story progresses. I’m  a sucker for stories of people who didn’t have a very good luck in life, and Moses’ beginnings were exactly that. I like seeing them overcome all the obstacles that life threw their way, and grow into a different (better?) versions of themselves.  Unfortunately, this book got too long for my taste.

baby in a basket

He was abandoned by his mother when he was an infant –  in a basket, no less. So his upbringing pretty much consisted of being passed around to relatives and foster homes. Amidst all that, there was at least one constant figure in his life that he could call home –  Gigi’s or his grandmother. And in that same neighborhood where she lives was Georgia.

Georgia has always held a strange fascination with Moses. But I don’t even know if you would call theirs a romance. It seemed one-sided from the very start. I’ve never been a fan of characters who treat another character horribly “for their own good”. It seems like a shitty excuse for treating them like crap. Ultimately, it’s one of the reasons that I was not a fan of Moses.

chasing Moses

One of the things I don’t like in romance novels is when girls chase after boys. But in some ways, I understand why Georgia refused to give up on him. She’s got a big heart; genetically programmed to care for someone who’s had a rough life. Georgia is just inherently good. She eventually grew a spine, but only after she’s learned her lessons the hard way.

he sees dead people

Moses is an artist whose work is inspired by restless ghosts with unfinished business. He sees them, but they don’t talk to him. They send messages to their loved ones through Moses’ art. I quite liked reading this aspect of the story even though it kinda spoiled the second half of the story for me. In a way, it’s precognitive of the reason for his reappearance in Georgia’s life several years later. So, yeah.  It was spoiler-y of sorts.

in retrospect

I listened to this in audio a week or so ago. Like I said, it started out good then the plot became sluggish and muddled. I felt like the crimes that had happened throughout the book were so sporadic that it didn’t make sense when it was eventually solved. It was like an addendum instead of being a part of a seamless story. The book went on too long as well. I grew bored midway and had to resist DNF’ing. I think there’s a lot of people who would enjoy this. The romance was good in some parts, but I didn’t like the characters.

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[603]: The Dirty Secret by Kira A. Gold

28277395 The Dirty Secret by Kira A. Gold
Carina Press | E-Arc via Net Galley
March 28th, 2016
Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars


From the Desk of Donna Edith…

My services are unconventional. My clients come to me with needs and I match them to other clients with needs of their own…

Promising young architect Killian Fitzroy: Driven, clever, eager to prove himself. Starved for sex, though he’s come to me for professional assistance, not personal. Needs: Someone unique, creative and fast. An artist with a feminine perspective to breathe life into a house he’s built.

Aspiring scenic designer Vessa Ratham: Sensuous, spontaneous, but secretive. Recently returned to Vermont armed with an art degree that qualifies her for little more than waiting tables. Needs: An opportunity to shine.

Yes, Killian and Vessa will satisfy each other nicely—in more ways than one.


This is one for the ages, folks. I don’t usually give out five stars that easily, but I felt like this book deserved it. There are so many reasons and, or criteria as to why a book warrants a high rating. But for me, I simply go by how much enjoyment I derived from it. And this book is pure fun. Plus, I may be a little jealous of the author’s writing.

THE MATCHMAKER

Donna Edith is a matchmaker. Though you probably shouldn’t say that to her face if you ever want to hire her services. Because that’s far from what she does. Her company places people with the right employers. It just so happens that this woman has a knack for giving them what they need when they need it the most. Though in the case of her two clients, they didn’t even know what they needed when they each decided to avail of her services.

THE ARCHITECT

Killian Fitzroy is a man on the verge of greatness. He’s a brilliant architect well on his way to success. But he is a man starved for relationships – sex, in particular. With the long hours that he puts in and the demands of a job that he loves (on most days), he doesn’t have the time to make real connections.

THE DESIGNER

Fresh off graduation, Vessa Ratham moved back to Vermont to be closer to her family. Without any real experience as a designer, she needed  actual clients to start her portfolio. With Donna Edith’s help, she was seduced by a house and a man – both in need of her personal touch.

Truth be told, had I not been familiar with the author, I’d have bypassed this book in a heartbeat. After all, the matchmaking romances I’ve read in my lifetime is simply too many to count. I have not read a book by this author. I did, however, read her fanfiction work. At the time, I was already in awe of her writing. There is something magical, lyrical and beautiful about how she strung her words together. She writes pretty prose that are far from pretentious. It feels natural and easy. She gives her characters personalities that are unique that you’d think they are made from a form of magic. Vessa is a strong character who picks and chooses her battles. She’s determined and headstrong; vulnerable and courageous. It’s difficult to explain. The secondary characters were also far from ordinary. There’s her stoner friend who was far more aware than any lucid person you’d know; her landlord who shares her love for antiquities and interesting things; and Killian’s friends who made his lonely existence a bit more tolerable before he met Vessa.

But if there’s one thing I can complain about is the wild designs Vessa came up with. I’m not going to lie, I could not imagine myself living in that house because damn. I don’t deal with brightly painted, wildly decorated rooms. I just can’t. I’m a huge follower of the minimalist movement, so the very idea of living in a house where a room is decorated with red walls and Chinese lanterns makes me want to break out in hives.

I love that this book is pure romance. It’s relatively angst-free, unlike most NA romances nowadays. If you’re a fan of NA, chick lit and contemporary romance, Kira Gold is an author to watch.

 

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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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[542]: Elements of Chemistry by Penny Reid

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GOODREADS SUMMARY | June 1st, 2015 | Adult Fiction | Romance | Serial, books 1-3 | Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars


Let me just start by saying that these books were amazing. My experience with New Adult books isn’t all that exemplary, so when I find out worth talking about, you can guarantee it’s a big deal. Though in that same reasoning, you can also keep my inexperience in mind and take this review with a grain of salt.

In My Own Words

It’s a story about a self-appointed nerd recluse who has the most adorable tendency to hide in closets. And no, I’m not talking about proverbial ones. She literally hides in closets whenever she’s about to be confronted with uncomfortable situations. Lately, it’s her lab partner, Martin Sedeke. Rich, handsome, and has a notorious reputation for being a love ’em and leave ’em kind of guy.

Admittedly, Martin may rub some of you the wrong way. After all, his characterization doesn’t leave much to the imagination. He is every bit the standard in most of the romance novels we’ve all been served up since the dawn of time. However, Martin actually got under my skin. Sometimes, like a sliver; often, like the prick of a heroin-loaded needle. Yep. He was addictive, and he will surprise you in the end.

Kaitlyn Parker is hardly chopped liver. She just hasn’t found her groove yet. She comes from a family considered to be American royalty: her mom is a senator, her dad is the dean of Medicine, and her grandfather was an astronaut who once walked on the moon.

She’s sarcastic, intelligent, and funny. Beautiful, curvaceous, sexy (she just needs to clean the mirror so she can see her reflection, that’s all). Now, I typically hate characters who play the false humility at all times. You know the type: those who can’t see past their own insecurities and the thick layer of their apparent plain-ness. But for some reason, Kaitlyn did not annoy me as much. She has such an abundance of personality that nullified her one pesky character flaw. She is a combination of spunk, sweet timidity, and sass.

The romance is off the Scoville chart. One that was consistently intense all through the novel. I look forward to each and every single one of their trysts, combats, and detente. Last word of advice, ever since reading this completed serial, I’ve read most of Penny Reid’s books. Trust me when I say, she’s not one of those one trick ponies. This author knows a thing or two about…stuff. She’s got an impressive repertoire of sassy characters and bits of knowledge about anything under the sun (bit coins, e-security, Philosophy, and knitting. Knitting!). If my review helps convince you to check her out, I suggest you start with this one.

 

 

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[529]: Some Kind of Normal by Juliana Stone

23413920-1 GOODREADS SUMMARY
Sourcebooks Fire | Net Galley
May 5th, 2015
New Adult Romance
Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars


I have  read a few of Ms. Stone’s books. There was even a time when I went on a bender and read a couple of her series back to back to back. For the most part, she writes some pretty fantastic romantic tropes; with characters that linger in the back of your mind long after you’re done. Some Kind of Normal, while acceptable enough by this genre’s standards, lacked the addictive quality her other books have, in my opinion. Most importantly, it felt like she held herself back that it deterred me from fully enjoying this book. While that may be understandable considering the genre she was writing from, I found it difficult to separate what I’ve come to know from her adult books to her latest attempt at New Adult.

It wasn’t all that bad, mind you. I do like that Everly didn’t suffer some form of physical/psychological trauma in the past – which is a glaring characteristic of a character in NA books. I can’t say the same for Trevor though. But the truth of the matter is, New Adult books are formulaic. You can pretty much expect the things that happened to happen. And while most NA go full bore on the intimate scenes, I can tell that she held herself in check. This one doesn’t even have any. So perhaps, I’m jumping the gun by labelling this one a New Adult book.

They do have their own issues though. Trevor suffered a brain trauma from an accident that hinders him from playing the guitar like he used to. Which is a big deal for him because Music is his life. Without it, his dream of following his best friend to New York to play is pretty much out of the question. Everly, on the other hand, is evidently dealing with some family problems. Her father is hiding a secret that she accidentally stumbled upon. So she knows her parents’ marriage is on the rocks. On top of that, she got saddled with tutoring a jock for the summer.

Trevor is a pretty charming fellow; while Everly has the reputation as the ice queen in school. It’s both a curse and a blessing being the pastor’s daughter. It doesn’t take long for their relationship to develop. It’s not that big of a deal, though. I encountered some characterization problems, but not too terribly. In the end, I feel like if you read one NA book, you’ve read them all.

This book is about a couple of people who had to learn to accept what their own “normal” should be. While it may seem like an uphill climb, it’s not entirely impossible. Juliana Stone perfectly captured the essence of what it’s like for a person to accept their lot in life no matter how hard it may seem at first. Sometimes, it takes another person dealing with some hard realities of their own to guide you along the way.

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[496]: Hero by Samantha Young

hero GOODREADS SUMMARY
NAL | Kindle Edition, 404 pp.
Publication Date: February 3rd, 2015
ADULT FICTION | Romance
Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars


A dead spark plug.

I wanted to jump-start my NA appetite again by reading a novel written by someone I’m familiar with. And while I enjoyed some aspects of this book, I felt that it wasn’t as strong as her previous work.  Particularly when she switched focus from Alex’s family troubles to Caine’s past. The less than smooth transition jarred me a little, and I can’t find anything remotely remarkable about her characters if you stand them up beside every other characters you’ve ever read from this sub-genre. Unfortunately, this book did very little to inspire me to read more in this brand new thing you kids love reading these days.

The plot twist from the left field.

Sometimes, it is best to give your readers bits of hints to your character’s  background; not so much to prepare them, but just so when the revelation comes, it is not so surprising. So surprising, in fact, that it almost looks like the element was an addendum; an afterthought that didn’t belong there in the first place.

I’m really bored now.

If you are a regular reader of New Adult romances, this book should be a good addition to your collection. It follows the formula of every single book you’ve ever read from this sub-genre.  I am, however, a sporadic reader of this new thing. So it’s not saying a lot when I got bored 5 chapters in. I already had an inkling where the story was going (apart from the exorcist-head-turn-twist of Caine’s past).

I fall asleep during sex…in books.

However,  all is not lost. The characters have believable chemistry even though they started off on the wrong foot. I enjoyed their banter, and Alex was a fun smart ass. Caine was intense – in a Christian Grey kind of way, but without the flogger. The sex was…well, here’s the thing. Nowadays, sex scenes in literature bore me. I tend to  gloss over those especially while in the throes of a ho-hum book. I can’t recall the reading on the heat gauge during their coital unions, but if that’s your thing, you might want to check out another person’s review.

I need to move on now…

I don’t know. Perhaps I’m not cut out for these type of books. I should just wave the white flag already and stick to what I like. Otherwise, I’m seeing a lot of mediocre reads in my future.

 

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