Review for The Warrior (Dante Walker #3) by Victoria Scott

The Warrior by Victoria Scott

TITLE: The Warrior
SERIES: Dante Walker #3
AUTHOR: Victoria Scott
PUBLISHER: Entangled Teen
PAGES: 352 pages
FORMAT: E-ARC / Paperback
SOURCE: NetGalley / Purchased
RATING: 1 bow

Before we get started on the actual review, I have something to say. First, this is the first book in a while that has actually inspired me to sit down and write and it’s obviously for all the wrong reasons. However, I have already tried writing a positive review to renew my review-writing passions and it didn’t work, so maybe it’s time to try the opposite. That being said, THIS REVIEW WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS. Also, given the one-star rating, it should be apparent that I did not enjoy this book, but in case there is any doubt, I didn’t, so this isn’t going to be me being positive about how you could like it. This is going to be me being real about how I felt. Victoria, if you ever stumble upon this, don’t read it. Seriously, just skip it. I love you and I loved Fire & Flood, but Dante Walker just rubbed me the wrong way.

Summary from GoodReads:

War between heaven and hell is coming, but Dante Walker makes it look damn good.

Dante’s girlfriend, Charlie, is fated to save the world. And Aspen, the girl who feels like a sister, is an ordained soldier. In order to help both fulfill their destiny and win the war, Dante must complete liberator training at the Hive, rescue Aspen from hell, and uncover a message hidden on an ancient scroll.

Dante is built for battle, but even he can’t handle the nightmares where spiders crawl from Aspen’s eyes, or the look on Charlie’s face that foretells of devastation. To make matters worse, the enemy seizes every opportunity to break inside the Hive and cripple the liberators. But the day of reckoning is fast approaching, and to stand victorious, Dante will have to embrace something inside himself he never has before—faith.

Let’s take a trip down memory lane, shall we? Back at the beginning of 2013, there was a book that was EVERYWHERE on the blogosphere. It was getting so much love and people were ecstatic over the Daemon Black-esque character that had emerged in YA. The Collector by Victoria Scott was all anyone could talk about. Dante Walker was the new badass that absolutely everyone as in love with. So when I saw it up on NetGalley, I knew I had to read it. I got approved and started reading it immediately. I am always in need of more Daemon Black style awesome, ALWAYS. But I quickly realized that Dante Walker was nothing like my dear Daemon. Dante Walker got on my nerves. Dante Walker was a jackass. I couldn’t really understand the appeal, but I kept reading. I have a difficult time DNF-ing books, so I pushed through. I ended up enjoying it enough to give it 4 stars. I never did understand the magical Dante Walker appeal, but to each his own. I should have stopped there and left well enough alone, but I like to think that authors expound on what I like and get rid of what I don’t further down in the series. So I read book 2….and I don’t love it. What irked me about Dante in the first book just gets worse in it. He’s cocky and mean and immature. He is supposed to be a demon from hell and yet the boy uses no swear words. He uses the fill-in, politically correct versions. Nothing can kill my love quicker. He has no redeeming qualities to me. Then I see book 3 is up for review and think “well, maybe this will be a big finale and things will be better” and I get it. Judging by the fact that it took me over a year to get around to start reading it and over a month to complete it, you can guess how that went. So, here are my thoughts!

As I said, Dante Walker is not the character for me. Everything the guy did just had me rolling my eyes at his antics. I didn’t find him endearing or amusing and I had enough of his shit pretty early on in book 1, so you can imagine how annoyed I was with him by the end of book 3. The boy just doesn’t know when to quit. He just keeps on and on like a moron.

The rest of the cast isn’t much better. Charlie is too much of a goodie-goodie for me to really love and the remaining liberators and collectors are all respective jackasses. And most of the die, so don’t get attached. Max, one of the few characters I enjoyed dies. Of course, Dante, Charlie, and Aspen come through fine…ish. Annabelle doesn’t die, but I found her survival unbelievable. During the epic end battle, she is apparently pregnant (WHEN THE FUCK DID THAT HAPPEN?!?!?) and she gets stabbed in the stomach, but somehow both her and baby survive.
Suits WHAT gif
I’m sorry, but you get gutted and YOU are lucky to survive. There is no way in hell that the fetus in your womb comes out unharmed as well. I’m sorry, I know this is a fantasy type thing, but I call BULLSHIT.

I think, beyond Dante being annoying, that was my biggest problem here. It all felt like bullshit. You are going to war with the collectors on the fate of Earth. Either the Collectors win and demons are set free to torment human kind or you win and it starts the Trelevator, a hundred years of peace. So the collectors have a massive army of sirens and quite a few collectors on their side. You have less than 50 people and over half of them are humans who have only had a few days worth of fighting training?
Veronica Mars headtilt gif
You expect to win like that? I knew from the moment the war really started that I’d have a hard time buying into them winning. And the way they win was very dues ex machina. Dante just asks for help and God gives it. Simple as that. I’m not the religious type to begin with so I have many a problem with that scenario, but on a strictly fictional level, couldn’t you think of anything better? You back Dante into a corner and then BOOM, God empowers him and he wins the thing? LAME.

Dante also just seemed too involved in EVERYTHING. I get it, okay? He is the golden boy. Even though Charlie is supposed to be the savoir, it’s played out a lot like he is a bit as well, because nothing happens without a little of Dante’s input. There is unlocking the scroll and creating a battle plan and recruiting Lincoln and training and actually interpreting the scroll and a million other tiny things. Are there not a bunch of other people involved? Can we not let them take on some of the workload? If Dante is a star player, we don’t want him exhausted before the big battle do we?

Another little thing? If you are going to shorten someones name into a nickname, can we please be consistent and use the same spelling? Don’t shorten Kraven into Crave please. At least make it Krave. There is no reason to change that consonant because they make the same sound.

Basically, this got on my nerves…a lot. In order to complete it, I had to read it in small bursts of a chapter or two at a time because that is all of Dante’s nonsense I could take in one sitting. I did want to see how it all wrap up, but it was so unbelievable for me that I find myself to be wholly unsatisfied. My advice to you? Go with your gut feeling on this. If you really enjoyed both The Collector and The Liberator, then you’ll enjoy this as well. If either of those annoyed you at all? Steer clear, because this will too.

****Thank you to Entangled Teen for providing me with an eARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review****

1 bow
Tabitha's signature

Review for Flat-Out Celeste (Flat-Out Love #2) by Jessica Park

Flat-Out Celeste by Jessica Park

TITLE: Flat-Out Celeste
SERIES: Flat-Out Love #2
AUTHOR: Jessica Park
NARRATOR: Tavia Gilbert
PUBLICATION DATE: May 22, 2014 / January 28, 2015
PUBLISHER: Independent / Flat Finn, Inc
PAGES: 336 pages / 8 hours 43 minutes
FORMAT: Audiobook
SOURCE: Review copy via Wordsmith Publicity
RATING: 5 bows

Celeste Watkins finds high school to be the most trying part of her life. Every day she is surrounded by people who don’t know her and don’t really care to. She is surrounded by people who don’t really care about getting a education as much as they care about getting through this phase. The fact that she speaks a little differently and has very little social finesse doesn’t help matters any. She is certain that if she can just make it to college, everything will be different. Kids in college are more educational focused, right? Then a chance encounter with a college sophomore offers up a bit of hope. Justin Milano is just as odd as she is and with each responded email, he pulls her a little more out of her solitude. Together they might be able to save not only each other, but two other people who mean the world to Celeste.

I loved Celeste immediately. She’s so smart and dedicated and I can definitely relate to the low people skills dilemma, though maybe not on such an extreme level. Beyond being majorly intelligent, Celeste is also sweet and kind and more lonely than she’d care to admit. Her little quirks are what quickly endeared me to her. I love her aversion to contractions and the love of research. It’s really hard not to empathize with her in many moments because she is forced to keep up a charade of being socially accepted at school to prevent her parents and brother from worrying over her, but she’s really an outcast. Who wants to be friends with the girl who throws off the grading curve? The one who does so ridiculously well on the class presentations that no one else will even come close to that level of success? No one and therein lies the problem. Once she receives that first email from Justin, watching her banter back and forth and attempt to ease some of his obvious distress for how his emails are turning out, I feel a bit in love with this girl. She’s awesome, just as she is, and the thought that the world wants her to change infuriates me.

I was head over heels for Justin almost immediately. He’s the perfect match for Celeste. He’s a better at interacting with people, but he’s over-energized and that leads to many an awkward moment. He’s smart and so very sweet. He goes out of his way to make her feel comfortable and she does the same for him. There is a great scene with spilled sodas that just melted my heart. Just trust me on this, k? He’s awesome.

This is one of those novels that you read (or listen to, in my case) and absolutely adore but can’t seem to articulate why exactly you love it. It’s intelligent and witty and cute and emotional and heart-breaking and all the feels! Portraying a character like Celeste is a very thin line to walk and Park pulls it off flawlessly. From the moment I started listening, I was hooked. I wanted more of Celeste and Matty and Justin and the whole world Park has created for us. I have not yet read Flat-Out Love or Flat-Out Matt yet, but I desperately want to at this point. This novel can definitely stand on it’s own, but I think the ending will have a bit more meaning for those who read the previous novels. It was still sob-inducingly romantic from my perspective, so I can’t imagine how much more powerful I would have felt if I was even more attached to Matt and Julie.

Speaking of Matt, can I have a brother who is so devoted to me? I mean, seriously, this guy goes through hell to make Celeste’s life more bearable and I love him for it. He’s a big part of why I want to read FOL. I’m even more excited now that I know exactly how his relationship with Julie will end up.

I had relatively high expectations when I started this. I have heard/read great things about this series (and about Park’s writing in general) and I was dying to see what all the fuss was about. I can honestly say I wasn’t disappointed. This novel is one I will be recommending to everyone I know because it’s perfect, absolutely perfect. I wish I could lay it out in more detail for you than that, but I just can’t. If you like contemporary YA romances with a touch of heart-break and an ending so imperfectly perfect that it makes you cry, then this is what you want to pick up.

Audio notes:
Tavia Gilbert was the perfect Celeste. I’m just a little worried about how I’ll react to her in other novels because she just seems so perfectly Celeste that I might have trouble believing her as anyone else. I hope that isn’t the case because she’s pretty awesome. She has a great voice with good pronunciation and timing. She gives you just enough time to absorb what she has laid before you before continuing on with the story without being overly slow. I know Audible allows you to speed up or slow down your narrator but I just don’t like to do that. I like to listen at the pace the narrator sets. I also think the narrator feels a bit choppy when using those features so I avoid them. Regardless, Tavia was great and I’ll definitely be checking out more of her work in the future!

****Thank you to Wordsmith Publicity and Jessica Park for providing me with an audio copy in exchange for an honest review****

5 bows
Tabitha's signature

Review for Mine To Spell (Mine #2) by Janeal Falor

Mine To Spell by Janeal Falor

TITLE: Mine To Spell
SERIES: Mine #2
AUTHOR: Janeal Falor
NARRATOR: Caitlin Kelly
PUBLICATION DATE: May 5, 2014 / December 15, 2014
PUBLISHER: Chardonian Press / Audible Studios
PAGES: 339 pages / 9 hours and 12 minutes
FORMAT: Ebook / Audiobook
SOURCE: Via Author / Purchased
RATING: 4 bows

Cynthia has a secret that she has hid from everyone she knows. Despite the fact that they were taught from birth that it is impossible for women to do magic, she can do it. She is fascinated by the colored spells even as she quivers away from her father’s hexes. Now that Serena has won the right to be independent, Cynthia is finally free of her father’s hexes. That freedom doesn’t last because soon she must be sold off the a warlock, put in the exact situation that she just came out of. Though she willing enters into this arrangement to protect her sisters, she soon learns that this will either be the best decision she has ever made or the worst. You’ll have to read to find out which!

I’ll be honest here. I did not like Cynthia in You Are Mine. I found her annoying and more than a little infuriating. How can you be boy-crazy in a world where men actively abuse women and are applauded for it? Where women are mere objects to be used and abused? We finally see behind the mask here and it was a bit more understandable why she put on that facade. How else would she learn about magic? What else could she say? “Oh, I don’t care about the boys, I just want to study that spell so I can emulate it”? That would not have worked out well. She would have been killed. With that insight, it was easy to be more sympathetic towards her. She still irked me somewhat, with immature behavior at times and a lack of ability to plan ahead. Pretty early on she finds herself stranded in town with no money and no food. That could have easily been prevented with a little forethought, but that isn’t how Cynthia works. It ends up working out well and she is just a teenager, so I tried not to fault her too terribly for that. Despite her faults, she is strong and brave and smart.

I feel like talking about the other characters is a bit of a spoilery thing to do. The official synopsis of this doesn’t really hint at how this whole thing it going to turn out, so I’m trying to keep quiet. I will say that I like the love interest a good bit. I will also say that we get a good deal of Serena and Zade and even a bit of Katherine. I also liked seeing the rest of the siblings and the new characters.

Things really heat up here, with Cynthia trying to show her family that she can do magic without revealing her secret to too many people. If the council finds out, they will kill her. But Cynthia’s family needs to know that women can do magic and Cynthia needs to share the burden of her secret with someone. The world needs to know to, but she must wait for the opportune moment to reveal that. She keeps trying to improve her spelling abilities and watching her train with a certain someone was enrapturing. Falor nailed that will they or won’t they chemistry perfectly.

The one big failing here is the appearance of a cliffhanger. You Are Mine wraps up pretty well, with everything taken care of. A few loose strands hang and obvious the whole set free the woman movement is far from finished, but Serena was free and her family was safe and things were looking up. That isn’t what you get here. I won’t say exactly what happens, but again, cliffhanger ahead. That always irks me when the first book in a series lulls you into a false sense of security because you assume if the author was nice enough to wrap things up for us there, they will continue to do so with the rest of the series. Then you read book two and are slammed with an unresolved ending. It’s almost like you can hear the author cackling (because what other way would you describe it?) at that shocked look on your face and you’re need to know more.

Beyond the cliffhanger, this was a very entertaining story and I loved seeing yet another different perspective. I want to get another angle on this. Can we see one from a male point of view? Maybe not Zade (because really, that would cause way too much swooning), but someone like him? OOOO…or that guy Zade’s sister has at thing for? That would be awesome. Or Zade’s sister herself could be interesting. Either way, I’m excited to see where this series goes!

Audio notes:
I feel rather ambivalent about Caitlin Kelly’s narrative abilities. She wasn’t bad, but she wasn’t great either. She walked that mediocre line pretty tightly. She’s has decent pacing and varies her voice a little for different characters, but has nowhere near the mastery I’m used too. ::coughs:: MacLeod Andrews ::coughs:: I will definitely check out more of her stuff in the future to see if she improves, but she’s isn’t someone I’m going to go out of my way to listen to.

****Thank you to Janeal Falor for providing me with a digital copy in exchange for an honest review****

5 bows
Tabitha's signature

Review for Biggest Flirts (Superlatives #1) by Jennifer Echols

Biggest Flirts by Jennifer Echols

TITLE: Biggest Flirts
SERIES: Superlatives #1
AUTHOR: Jennifer Echols
PUBLISHER: Simon Pulse
PAGES: 336 pages
SOURCE: Publisher via Edelweiss
RATING: 4 bows

Tia is just looking for a senior year of fun. She’s a perfect flirt and has a hard-earned reputation as a party girl. She isn’t looking for anything serious as she has seen where that could lead to and wants no part of it. The first order of business on this year’s list of guys to fool around with is Will. Will, however, is looking for something serious. He is a stand-up guy and doesn’t much go for the love ’em and leave ’em hookups. When Tia refused to date him, he looks elsewhere, putting Tia in an awful position. Does she want him for herself enough to get over her fears or will she let him go and move on?

Tia was a character I instantly loved. Though I don’t have much in common with her, I love that a character like her has finally made her way into YA literature. She’s smart and confident and not a virgin. She’s the heroine who is okay with noncommittal hookups and is terrified of a relationship. For all intents and purposes, she is the typical YA male. I loved the role reversal. I loved that she wasn’t looking for more, that she was scared of more. She has good reason to be, seeing how her sisters lives have turned out. I also love that she hides her amazing drummer skills. She intentionally misses a beat or two so she isn’t the lead drummer and doesn’t have to tackle those responsibilities. She doesn’t want this. She is scared she’ll suck at them. I love that she is confident and not at the same time. I just love her.

Will is adorable in his attentions to persuade her into a relationship. Their friendship/whatever the hell it really is, is the stuff dreams are made of. I loved them together from the start. He’s so sweet, even from the start that I couldn’t help but love him. I’m a sucker for a sweetheart. He does what he can to help Tia, even when she’s being a bitch. He doesn’t take it all lying down, though, standing up when he thinks it’s appropriate and sometimes even when it’s not.
It feels so good to read another great Jennifer Echols story. I was a bit worried after I read her adult contemporary romance and didn’t love it. It wasn’t terrible, but it didn’t come close to the awesomeness that she portrays in her YA’s and I thought maybe she was losing her touch. But this proves that is not the case. Maybe I’m just not a fan of normal contemporary romance or maybe that was a fluke, but either way, this novel was fantastic.
9th Doctor Fantastic Gif

(Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)

The writing is great, the story is interesting, and all the characters felt very well rounded. My only issue was that Tia and Will play the break up and get back together game a bunch. That always irritates me. Tia has her reasons for shying away from commitment, but it doesn’t make it any less annoying for me. Either you like him enough to get over it or you don’t, but pick one.

What you really need to know is that this novel has everything you’d expect from Jennifer Echols. It’s witty, it’s funny, it’s sweet. It’s the perfect combination of heart-warming and heart-breaking. It’s the perfect contemporary YA romance that breaks the tradition of virginity = good, smart girl. Tia is flirty and fun and not ashamed of how active (or inactive) her sex life may be. She’s a great role model for teens, in my humble opinion.

****Thank you to Simon Pulse for providing me with an eARC via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review****

4 bows
Tabitha's signature

Review for After Breakable (Contours Of The Heart #2) by Tammara Webber

Breakable by Tammara Webber

TITLE: Breakable
SERIES: Contours Of The Heart #2
AUTHOR: Tammara Webber
PUBLISHER: Penguin Berkley
PAGES: 368 pages
SOURCE: Purchased
RATING: 4 bows

Landon Lucas Maxfield lost everything as a child. His mother was brutally murdered while his father was out of town and he can’t help but blame himself for it. If only he could have freed himself from his bindings. He has finally gotten his life together, going to a good school, living with family friends, and has met a girl that just might change everything. Can he keep it up or will his new life crumble like his old one did.

I have been avoiding this review for quite a while. I am not a pre-order person. I know pre-ordering a book helps the sales and promotions and that is awesome, but I typically just wait for the book to release and then pick it up somewhere. This, however, was an exception. I pre-ordered this book months in advance and I waited impatiently for it to show up on my doorstep. This is Lucas’ story. LUCAS. I loved Easy. I loved Easy so much that I couldn’t imagine this novel being anything but perfect. I devoured this thing as soon as it arrived. I ignored the books I was supposed to be reading to lose myself in Lucas’ head. And that is why I’ve been avoiding it. While reading, I loved it. I adore Lucas and his perspective and I couldn’t get enough. Now, trying to think up what to say here, I’m not so sure. Was it as great as I wanted it to be? And within lies the rub. I don’t want to say anything about this that detracts from it’s awesome. I wanted to be in Lucas’ head desperately while and after reading Easy. I can’t fault Webber for giving me what I want, right?

We finally get to see through Lucas’ eyes in this novel. It’s everything I imagined it to be and more (and maybe less). It felt like an honest look into his head, not hiding or leaving out things that the reader might not like. I know going in, I knew it was him and Jacqueline against the world, so it was difficult for me to read scenes where he was crazy about a different girl. I think that was my biggest issue. As much as I wanted to know more about his past and his teenage years, I found myself not caring about him. Every time we switched perspectives, I had a huge urge to skip over his youthful indiscretions back to the next chapter about college Lucas and his journey with Jacqueline. I applaud Webber for trying to add something different. We have gotten too many novels that just tell the exact same story as the previous one through a new perspective. That’s what we really want, but at the same time, it is a bit dull to rehash the same events, even in someone else’s head. So I get what she was trying to do and I loved seeing his past and history, but I just didn’t care. Teenage Lucas got on my nerves. Teenage Lucas irritated me. I get that it’s his past and it shaped him into the guy I love, but I didn’t like him as a character.

Jacqueline is obviously the same character we had in Easy. Nothing about her has changed. She’s smart and tough and so very vulnerable. So I have nothing new to say about her. If you want her story, read Easy.

My problem is, as I touched on above, this is told in alternating chapters. We get a bit from Lucas retelling Easy and then a bit from his past and then more from Easy and more of his past and so on and so forth. I don’t know if it would have worked better if it was told in a more linear fashion, because like I said, teenage Lucas irritated me. I wasn’t really his biggest fan. I can say that I found myself skimming the “Landon” chapters to get to more Lucas.

For me, the Lucas chapters are just as swoon-worthy as he was in Easy. I’ve read several reviews talking about how he is a creeper in this and it’s ruins Easy for them, but I whole-heartedly disagree. I don’t find him creepy in this. It’s not like he is actually stalking Jacqueline. He just observes her while in class and if/when he sees her on campus. I don’t see a problem with that. Now if he was actively following her around and saving her trash, that would be creepy and I would have problems, but who hasn’t paid attention to a crush? If there is someone in one of your classes that catches your attention, aren’t you likely to watch them? Sneak glances and notice them if you see them elsewhere? Aren’t you likely to pay a bit more attention to them?

If you are a fan of Easy, I think you’ll love this. If you haven’t yet read Easy, I think you should do that first. I think it’s written in a way that you can understand it if you haven’t read Easy, but I don’t think you’ll love it as much if you read out of order. Seeing through Lucas’ eyes is truly a treat and despite my issues, I do recommend this. I think it is a highly enjoyable read and I can’t wait to see what else Webber has in store for us (in this fictional world or any other).

4 bows
Tabitha's signature

Review for The Secrets Of Lily Graves by Sarah Strohmeyer

The Secrets Of Lily Graves by Sarah Strohmeyer

TITLE: The Secrets Of Lily Graves
AUTHOR: Sarah Strohmeyer
PUBLISHER: Balzar + Bray
PAGES: 304 pages
SOURCE: Publisher via Edelweiss / Freebie shelf at Malaprops
RATING: 3 bows

Lily Graves comes from a family of morticians. She has spent her life around dead bodies and the process of fixing them up for funerals. So when Erin Donohue, the school’s perfect class president shows up died, she’s not so sure what she knows anymore. First everyone suspects Erin’s boyfriend Matt for the murder and then all eyes are on Lily people learn that Matt & Lily had a secret friendship that Erin was none too pleased about. One thing is for sure, Erin’s killer is still at large and it’s up to Lily to figure out who before the murder gets pinned on her.

Lily was an interesting character. I didn’t fall head over heels in love with her, but I also didn’t find her annoying. She is hard not to sympathize with when it seems like the entire town is out to get her. Even her own family members don’t protect her the way they should (in my opinion, anyway). My feelings were about the same for Matt. Though he does some questionable things, he seems like a good enough guy and I liked him enough to root for his and Lily’s success.

I’ve been avoiding this review since the moment I finished reading the novel. You see, I loved How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True and I was overjoyed to see Strohmeyer coming out with a new novel. Even better, she going in a new direction with they whole murder/mystery thing. Awesome, I can’t wait! Even starting it, I found it highly enjoyable. It was witty and addictive in that sleep is not important anymore way.

Why, then, does it only get three stars? That would be because of the ending. It felt so rushed and unfinished that I can’t possibly give it a higher rating. It’s like Sarah was writing and having a good time and then she got to page 250 or so and remembered that the book was only supposed to be 300 or so pages long. Whoops! Better wrap this up quickly! It’s a problem I’m seeing a lot lately, and not just in YA. In this particular case, the killer(s) and the motive didn’t make much sense. The big bad, maybe, but the sidekick really threw me for a loop. I’m sure that was the point, to give us a villain we weren’t expecting. The problem with that is the more you think about it, the less it makes sense. Why would this particular person do it? I realize we get a half-assed reason, but that just didn’t fit for me.

What it always comes down to for me is the ending, and this one failed pretty epically. I’m not saying that it should be changed, but maybe give us more about why this particular person felt the need to take things this far. To now only assist in the act but to frame our Lily. That seems spiteful in a way I can’t believe without a little more context. So all you need to know is that it’s a great little story with a somewhat inconclusive ending. If that doesn’t bother you, than you’ll love it. If it does, then you’ll probably have mixed emotions.

****Thank you to Balzar + Bray for providing me with an eARC via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review****

3 bows
Tabitha's signature

Review for Dangerous Creatures (Dangerous Creatures #1) by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

Dangerous Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

TITLE: Dangerous Creatures
SERIES: Dangerous Creatures #1
AUTHOR: Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
PUBLISHER: Little, Brown Books For Young Readers
PAGES: 368 pages
SOURCE: Publisher via NetGalley
RATING: 2 bows

Ridley Duchannes is a bad girl, the absolute worst. A siren with enough juice to persuade anyone to do as she bids, she’s out for her own. But after losing a poker game, she’s in a world of shit and she can’t seem to get out on her own. Wesley “Link” Lincoln just wants to make it big in the big bad city. Off to New York to start a new band (or join a band) on his way to fame and success. Link, though, is a southern gentleman at heart and he also really wants to be with Ridley. Can the two love birds make it work or are they going to crash and burn in NYC?

I’ve been avoiding writing this particular review because I have only negative things to say. I hate writing negative reviews on books I got just to review. X_X I might as well get it over with, right? Ridley and Link are just the same as they have always been, but we get a few new cast members here. I honestly won’t go into details about them because I didn’t love any of them and that’s part of where this series failed as a spin-off. With Beautiful Creatures (and it sequels) I loved most of the characters and generally wanted their success and happiness. Here I was pretty ambivalent about the new people. Hell, I was even a bit ambivalent about Ridley herself. Her determination to remain a “bad” girl and the idea that it was all she was capable of doing drove me fucking nuts. She refuses to even try to be better. And we all know she is capable of more, but she is just so damn stubborn. It really made me sad because I loved Rid in Beautiful Creatures & Beautiful Darkness.

The only cast member I really loved was Link. Sweet, devoted Link. He should irritate me. He’s a pretty stereotypical southern boy, but he’s got so much charm that it just works somehow. That’s probably why I was still rooting for the Rid/Link duo, because I wanted to see him happy. But we don’t get that here. This veers straight into love triangle (square) land, with both Ridley and Link finding new love interests, but somehow still being interested in each other. It was a bit confusing because it was clear they were both moving on and then the thing at the end? WTF?

Another issue for me was this was exceedingly boring. I know I received an eARC for review, but I just couldn’t get through it. I ended up getting an audiobook copy and listening to it almost entirely that way. Even with audio, it was a struggle to get through. I didn’t care about the characters. Without a connection to them, it is hard to muster up emotions about their journey.

Then there is the villian. I won’t say who he is, but I’ll give you a hint. It’s the same one as the previous books, which was another problem for me. How many fucking times do we need to kill this guy?!? And then there is the horrid cliffhanger ending that you don’t see coming. You don’t see it coming because when it ends, the audiobook still has well over an hour of time left (which is obnoxiously filled with excepts from Kami’s & Margaret’s other books). But the thing is over and it is a cliffhanger from hell and I wanted to punch my computer when it happened.

I know I am OCD about finishing series, especially ones that I once loved, but I don’t know that I will read any more of these books. Things for me starting going downhill in Beautiful Chaos and they have just kept rolling downwards. This was no improvement. I wouldn’t say it’s a bad story, but I’ve come to expect more out of Ridley and she just doesn’t delivery. Maybe you’ll love it to bits, but it just pissed me off.

****Thank you to Little, Brown Books For Young Readers for providing me with an eARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review****

2 bows
Tabitha's signature

Review for Tease (The Ivy Chronicles #2) by Sophie Jordan

Tease by Sophie Jordan

TITLE: Tease
SERIES: The Ivy Chronicles #2
AUTHOR: Sophie Jordan
PUBLISHER: William Morrow
PAGES: 320 pages
SOURCE: Publisher via Edelweiss / Freebie shelf at Malaprops
RATING: 3 bows

Emerson is that girl who never has a problem getting a guy. She uses them and leaves them wanting more. She’s the flirt, the party-girl, with no intention of changing. Then she meets Shaw, a man who seems to see right through her. He won’t settle for the flirty exterior, instead demanding the whole girl and bringing up memories she thought she’d buried.

This review is a bit difficult for me to write. The first novel in this series had a few minor issues, but I still thoroughly enjoyed it. This, however, had more issues. The main one being I didn’t care for the lead characters. Emerson especially annoyed me. Shaw was spot-on when he calls her a tease because that is exactly what she is. She’s a character I don’t understand in the least. She’s a virgin who hooks up with guys for the thrill of it and when she gets invited to the Kink Club, I can’t see why she goes. The name and rumors surrounding the club leave no possible confusion on what it’s about and its obvious that people there will expect sex. SO WHY THE FUCK DID YOU GO IF YOU HAVE NO INTENTION OF GOING THAT FAR? I can (sorta) see how you can hook up with guys without going that far but how can you go to a sex club with no intention of having sex? Are you a fucking moron? Apparently so. Then she gets mad at Shaw for jumping in and saving her. She also tries to play that spoiled little rich girl with a daddy who doesn’t really care card and that irritated me as well. From the few encounters we see with her father, she doesn’t try to make him understand or see her, she just goes along with what he wants, so how the hell would he know that she’s unhappy? Parents aren’t mind-readers!

Shaw was a little better, but I still didn’t swoon over him. Alpha males, even ones that claim they aren’t, don’t really work for me. From the moment he meets Emerson, he tries to tell her what to do and how to do it, dragging her away from the Kink Club house immediately. Yes, she really wanted to leave, but he had no way to know that with any kind of certainty! He just wasn’t my kind of guy. He kinda repents at the end and apologizes, but it doesn’t make it acceptable to me.

As much as I wanted to love this as much as I’ve loved Jordan’s previous works, I just couldn’t get into it like I did with Foreplay. I’ve mentioned numerous times that I need character driven stories. I have to care about the character’s to really enjoy a novel and I was a bit ambivalent towards these two at best. And the storyline was predictable. I know, it’s a New Adult romance novel and that demands a certain level of predictability, but this was a bit too predictable. There was no mystery at all, no moments where I was worried that maybe they wouldn’t work it out.

Maybe I’m just wearing out the NA genre to the point I’m getting sick of it, but I just didn’t love this one like I thought I would. I didn’t hate it either, it just was in that awkward middle ground. I am super-excited for the next one because it looks like Logan will finally get his own novel and I love him to bits, even if he is a man-whore from hell. Hopefully this book is just suffering from that dreaded middle book syndrome that I have never seen in a NA before but plagues YA!

****Thank you to William Morrow for providing me with an eARC via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review****

3 bows
Tabitha's signature

Review for Obsession (Drawn #2 – Aaron) by Lilliana Anderson

Obsesseion by Lilliana Anderson

TITLE: Obsession (Aaron)
SERIES: Drawn #2
AUTHOR: Lilliana Anderson
PUBLISHER: Independent
PAGES: 300 pages
SOURCE: From author
RATING: 4 bows

At the end of Drawn, our lovely author left us with a massive cliffhanger. Now she gives us a choice, which hero do you want Etta to end up with? If you choose Aaron, then this is the story for you. If you prefer Damien, then you need Redemption. In Drawn, we follow Etta’s relationship with Damien and his obsessive need to keep her close. Now, he’s in prison for started a pub brawl that landed several people in the hospital and Etta is trying to rebuild her life and learn to be a mother. She can see know that what she had with Damien wasn’t love, it was nothing like the feels she now has for Aaron and when Damien shows up at her doorstep, she wants nothing to do with him…..but will he allow her to make that choice?

While I didn’t love Etta in the first novel, here I really connected with her. She is doing her best to move on and build a life with Aaron, though she doesn’t want to tie in down in her drama initially. She doesn’t have many options left in her life except to try and be the best parent she can and be grateful for all of Aaron’s help. He literally swoops in and saves the day, helping her with everything she needs while not pushing for the relationship he really wants. She really shows a lot of growth here, coming to terms with the relationship she had with Damien and realizing that it wasn’t really a relationship at all, just an affair with a man who would let her know him as well as she wanted. We also get to see her devotion to Evie, who is the cutest little girl ever. In my head, she was more or less a black-haired version of little Anna in Frozen. I loved watching her stand strong against her pull towards Damien because we know it will never work.

Then we have Aaron, my beautiful sweet Aaron. The man has the patience of a saint, not only waiting for Etta throughout the Damien episode but also waiting during her pregnancy and after Evie is born and just waiting in general for her to make a move. He was prepared to move on with his life and let her go, if it was what she wanted. Thankfully, it’s not. This time around, she wants him as much as he wants her and they are magical together. They have that perfect relationship we all dream about, with love and trust and complete devotion to each other. The way he is so head-over-heels for Evie as well just had me falling for him all the more. It takes a strong man to love his enemy’s child as his own.

Then we have Damien. I was never a Damien fan, but I almost feel sorry for him here. In Redemption, we see him really put an effort into improving himself and getting well enough to really win Henrietta back. After watching him really put some effort into it, it was very sad to watch him spiral out of control here. I feel like his life in Redemption was the best possible scenario and this was the worst, but the more likely of the two to occur. The odds of Damien getting Jordy (or someone like him) as his cellmate were much higher than him getting Keith (who was in cellmate in Redemption). Without Keith’s presence encouraging him to improve, he worsens because a violent prison life is likely to have that effect. Why would he change when his ways make him the top dog in this life? And while fighting to stay safe in jail, he’s obsession with Etta only worsens. I don’t think I would ever want him to win Etta back because I don’t believe that would ever really work, but I would have liked to see him get a happy-ish ending. Maybe not a wife and kids, but just a life solidly on the redemption path. The thing he does at the end broke my heart a little. It doesn’t redeem him completely but it’s hard not to let it bring out more emotion.

I really think that Redemption was the fairy-tale ending, with everyone getting to ride off into the sunset with their happily ever after (Damien with Etta and Aaron finding love with someone new) and this is the realistic path. Under that logic, I should really like Redemption more because I’m a big (HUGE) fan of the happily ever afters, but I really don’t think it would have worked. I don’t think Etta would really be capable of forgiving Damien and moving on with a life with him after everything he has done. The way this story works out was a much more depressing ending. Aaron & Etta (and Evie) do get to live happily ever after, but Damien’s fate isn’t very happy…which is why this gets four bows instead of 5. I kinda felt like that was how this was going to end. Once Damien shows up at Etta’s house, this is the only real logical way the story could play out, but I kept that hope alive that maybe it would turn out differently.

In the end, I like this story better than Redemption and even more than Drawn, but it wasn’t perfect. I loved the idea that we get to pick who she ends up with and that they aren’t just the same story with different endings. I love the idea that different choices set you down different paths. For anyone else out there like me who wants to read both novels, you will get a bit of repeated material at the beginning. The start off the same, with very minor differences, but once you hit the halfway mark, things go drastically different as we see how those choices effect their lives. I also love the idea that the two novels present together with regards to Etta. If you read both, you can clearly see that, whether she admits it or not, her desire for Damien is completely within her control because she gives in to it in Redemption but fights it here. That simple choice, give in or fight, changes everything. I have wholly enjoyed this journey and encourage everyone to give it a shot. How can you not want to read a novel where you have the power to choose who Etta will end up with?!?!

****Thank you to Lilliana Anderson for providing me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review****

4 bows
Tabitha's signature

Review for Redemption (Drawn #2 – Damien) by Lilliana Anderson

Redemption by Lilliana Anderson

TITLE: Redemption (Damien)
SERIES: Drawn #2
AUTHOR: Lilliana Anderson
PUBLISHER: Independent
PAGES: 300 pages
SOURCE: From author
RATING: 4 bows

For those of you who read Drawn, you know we were left with a massive cliffhanger. Who will Etta choose? Well the beauty of this series is that we get to choose. We get a different sequel for each guy with completely different events. This is Damien’s book. Damien has spent the past three years in prison for the fight he caused the day Etta left him for good. A fight that landed a dozen people in the hospital. He knows he fucked up, but he is more determined than ever that when he is released, he’ll find her and make it right. Etta is trying to make things work with Aaron. She knows he is a good man and he’s always been there for her, but part of here still craves Damien. Can she continue to fight her desire for him when they come face to face or will she give in?

Okay, before I say anything, I need to tell you that I am wholly biased. I am Team Aaron and at no point have I considered jumping sides. Anderson stated at the beginning of this that she meant to make Damien un-redeemable and though she tries to fix it here, she did that jobs too well. For me, Damien is beyond salvation. I’m sure he deserves a happy life, but he needs to find it elsewhere. Even with him on his best behavior, I didn’t want Etta anywhere near him. Some things cannot be undone, you know? With that being said, here’s my take.

I had a rocky relationship with Etta in book one. I liked her but Damien makes her stupid and I hate girls like that. I hate girls who allow men to rule their lives and dictate their worlds. We’ve all met that girl who only ever talks about her boyfriend. No matter what topic you try to introduce to steer the conversation elsewhere, it always ends with “well he says blah blah blah.” Etta turned into that girl in Drawn and I was hoping to see her come out of it here, with the prolonged absence from him. She both does and doesn’t. She moves on some but still longs for him even though he was a controlling assface to her. And the minute he shows up showing the least bit of improvement, she more or less jumps in the sack with him. Which perturbed me. You have a child to consider now and him saying he’s changed doesn’t prove shit. You cannot have that around your child. For me, she just forgives him way too easily. They go through the semblance of a trial where they are separated and work towards making a better relationship. She seems a bit selfish here. I understand to an extent that she has still never really been on her own and made her own decisions but when she chooses to move away from Aaron, essentially cutting her ties with him, I saw red. This amazing man helped you when no one else would have and he has stood by you throughout your bullshit and loved your child as his own and THIS is show you repay him? There are not words for my feelings on that subject.

Damien himself was much improved here. He’s medicated to help his obsessions and manic behavior, but it’s not enough to make up for past mistakes. I understand psychological disorders have a great effect on people, but I don’t understand how people can ignore them to such an extent or refuse to seek help because of bad side effects. Do you not realizes that there are hundreds of medications for bipolar or mania or whatever disease you have and the side effects vary depending on what and how much you are taking? If one doesn’t work, try another! I like that he does see the light and realize he needs help, but I think Etta should be lost to him. He fucked up beyond recovery, cut your losses and move on. If you are very lucky, she’ll let you see your kid but that’s as much as you can get.

The plot and writing and pacing of this are as good as the previous book. It’s everything I was expecting in a sequel, with a story enthralling enough to compel me to finish it in a single day which is a feat for me. I will say that Lilliana has an amazing way of making you care for the characters you don’t even like. I really despise Damien and yet I found myself sympathizing with the selfish asshat. That was both amazing and infuriating because I didn’t want to sympathize with him. I wanted my hatred to prevail. Even though I’m 100% Team Aaron, this book made me wish just the tinniest bit that there was some hope for Damien.

All you really need to know is that if you are Team Damien, you’ll love this. You get to see him redeem himself in a lot of ways and attempt to earn Etta’s trust. He actually has a swoon-worthy side when he wants to and I can sorta see the attraction. If you are Team Aaron, then you’ll be angry at the way Etta treats him much of the time, but he gets his happy ending here…even if it wasn’t the one I was wishing for. Now I’m off to read the ending I was wishing for. Aaron, here I come!

****Thank you to Lilliana Anderson for providing me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review****

Tabitha's signature