Monday, August 31, 2015

Review: Beautiful Oblivion by Jamie McGuire

Beautiful Oblivion
(The Maddox Brothers #1)
Publication Date: July 1, 2014
Paperback, 320 pages, Atria Books
Genres: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary

The Beautiful Disaster and Walking Disaster phenomenon continues in the first heart-pounding new adult romance in The Maddox Brothers series.

Fiercely independent Camille "Cami" Camlin gladly moved on from her childhood before it was over. She has held down a job since before she could drive, and moved into her own apartment after her freshman year of college. Now tending bar at The Red Door, Cami doesn’t have time for much else besides work and classes, until a trip to see her boyfriend is cancelled, leaving her with a first weekend off in almost a year.

Trenton Maddox was the king of Eastern State University, dating co-eds before he even graduated high school. His friends wanted to be him, and women wanted to tame him, but after a tragic accident turned his world upside down, Trenton leaves campus to come to grips with the crushing guilt.

Eighteen months later, Trenton is living at home with his widower father, and works full-time at a local tattoo parlor to help with the bills. Just when he thinks his life is returning to normal, he notices Cami sitting alone at a table at The Red.

As the baby sister of four rowdy brothers, Cami believes she’ll have no problem keeping her new friendship with Trenton Maddox strictly platonic. But when a Maddox boy falls in love, he loves forever—even if she is the only reason their already broken family could fall apart.

In the first installment of the Maddox Brothers books, readers can experience the rush of reading Beautiful Disaster for the first time, all over again.

My Review

I have to start out by saying that New Adult books and myself have not meshed well in the past. I typically find them cliché with bad writing and awkward dialog. Thankfully, Jamie McGuire has helped bring back some of my like—I can’t exactly call it love yet—for the genre.

I was hesitant to read this book because I didn’t think I would really care about Travis’ brothers. While I found them fun in the original book, Beautiful Disaster, an entire series based on their love lives didn’t really hold a huge appeal for me. However, once I started reading the series, I couldn’t put it down, but I’ll stick to just reviewing Beautiful Oblivion for now.

The characters of this book were very entertaining. McGuire did a good job of mixing Camille’s personality with Trenton’s. I do wish that she hadn’t used so much slut-shaming, aggressiveness, and other derogatory comments to shape her characters’ personalities. I also wish Trenton and Cami weren’t smokers. I find that extremely unattractive and I almost stopped reading because of that. I’m not sorry to say that smoking is a huge turnoff for me. It’s smelly and it can kill you. After I learned that Trenton was a smoker, it was hard to imagine him as sexy, just because I could smell him in the back of my mind and it made me want to throw up. Thankfully, I was able to move that fact to the back of my mind, but I just wish it wasn’t a part of the story.

I also didn’t like how Cami just let Trenton get away with some pretty sketchy things. She also had to hold him back from fights way too many times. It slows the story down and makes Trent look like a jackass when the protagonist has to hold her boyfriend off from punching the daylights out of someone.

So while the characters weren’t as great as Travis and Abby, the plot of the story was pretty good. I enjoyed reading about a simple love story between two college-age people. I also liked how Trent and Cami had a backstory together. I wish that had been expanded on a little more, though. OH! I almost forgot to mention that twist at the end! I was so surprised! I had to immediately pick up the sequel once I read the last line.

All in all, Beautiful Oblivion is a good start to a good new adult romance series. And praise like that doesn’t come from me very often when it comes to the NA genre.

*Note: I purchased a copy of this book for myself. This in no way affected my opinion/review.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Stacking the Shelves: The Wonky Surprise Birthday Edition

"Stacking the Shelves" is a weekly haul meme that is hosted by Tynga's Reviews. It allows book buyers to share their accumulation of books with the online book-loving community.

It was my birthday last Saturday and my friend ordered me some books. She looked at my Amazon Wish List and then ordered the books off of the used bookstore Thrift Books. She ran into a couple of problems by doing that, some of which she doesn’t even know about. But anywho, these are the ones she got me:

A Legacy of Kings by Eleanor Herman (ARC)
Mothership by Martin Leicht, Isla Neal

So, as you can see, there’s a problem with one of these books. A Legacy of Kings is an ARC that someone sold illegally online. It’s not the pretty hardcover version my friend thought she paid for. It’s also not in “new” condition. The seller seriously lied. I’ve posted some more pics of this below, including how I know this book belonged to someone named Spencer and what date it was obtained:

Additionally, bless my poor friend’s non-bookish soul, she ordered Mothership in hardcover. Now, I don’t want to be that bookish snob, but on my wish list, it’s listed as paperback simply because I already own the book in ebook form and I’ve already read it. I just wanted the pretty paperback edition—the hardcover has a different cover than the paperback, btw. This copy also has that library plastic wrap on it. You know what I’m talking about, right? The stuff librarians wrap books with to keep them from getting damaged?

So, I’m super grateful to her for buying books for me—I can’t wait to read A Legacy of Kings—I just thought it was funny that my friend went out with the idea of saving money by buying on Thrift Books when Amazon was selling the books for probably a lot cheaper and in the correct format. Of course I didn't tell her any of that, except for the ARC thing because she didn't understand why it didn't look like the Amazon edition. But you just have to laugh at the non-bookish people in your lives who try, but just don’t understand the bookish world. :)

What books have you bought/received lately?

Friday, August 28, 2015

Dean Winchester Friday

Dean Winchester (or sometimes Jensen Ackles) Fridays make me a very happy fangirl. You'll see why when you look at the pic.

Not my favorite pic of him, probably because he’s so young looking here, but it’s still cool to look at.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Review: The Closer You Come by Gena Showalter

The Closer You Come
(The Original Heartbreakers #1)
Publication Date: March 31, 2015
MMP, 434 pages, HQN Books
Genres: Adult, Romance, Contemporary

Just released from prison, Jase Hollister has a dark and twisted past. And now, he has only one goal: stay out of trouble. Strawberry Valley, Oklahoma, sounds like the perfect place for him and his two brothers-by-circumstance to settle down and live a nice, simple life. But model citizen isn’t exactly this rugged bachelor’s default setting—especially when it comes to a certain hot-blooded Southern beauty…

Brook Lynn Dillon has always been responsible. Not that it’s done her much good. The down-on-her-luck waitress is broke, single and fun-deprived. Until Jase comes along. He is dangerous, stunningly protective, breathtakingly sexy and as tempting as sin, and the passion sizzling between them is undeniable. But can it melt her resistance? After all, the right kind of trouble might be just what they both need.

My Review

Hot guys, a small town called Strawberry Valley, and a dark secret all roll into one sweet and sexy romance. You can even use all of the reading clichés to describe this book. It’s a page-turner. It’s too good to put down. It’s a compelling read. Believe me, I could go on.

The Closer You Come follows small-town girl Brook Lynn and the new mysterious guy in town, Jase. Brook Lynn isn’t the average female protagonist. She has her own fair share of problems and she won’t let a man tell her what to do without a fight. And Jase has an original and heart-wrenching past that had me fascinated throughout the story. I actually wish there was more information about his past, just because it was so captivating. Once again, Gena Showalter is the master of creating unique character backgrounds that have me flipping pages as fast as my desperate eyes can read. However, the side characters of the book—who will be the main characters in future sequels—didn’t have as much appeal. Perhaps this was simply because the reader isn’t given as much information about these characters and without that look inside the side characters’ heads, they just seem a little too familiar. Hopefully book #2 really delves into the main and the side characters’ backgrounds and creates an even better read.

While the characters of the book were fun, unique, and fantastic in their own right, the plot of the book was just a tad bit predictable. The ending was obvious from the start, not just because this book is a romance novel, but because the climax was easy to distinguish about 20% into the book. The story was entertaining to read regardless of its predictability.

All in all, The Closer You Come is another good addition to Showalter’s long list of good romance books. Picking up the sequel to her new contemporary romance will definitely not be a hardship.

*Note: I received a copy of this book to review via Netgalley. This in no way affected my opinion/review.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday: The White Rose by Amy Ewing

"Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly event, hosted over at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating.

This week, what's really got my pages in a twist is...

The White Rose
(The Lone City #2)
Publication Date: October 6th, 2015
Hardcover, 384 pages, HarperTeen
Genres: YA, Dystopian

Violet is on the run. After the Duchess of the Lake catches Violet with Ash, the hired companion at the Palace of the Lake, Violet has no choice but to escape the Jewel or face certain death. So along with Ash and her best friend, Raven, Violet runs away from her unbearable life of servitude.

But no one said leaving the Jewel would be easy. As they make their way through the circles of the Lone City, Regimentals track their every move, and the trio barely manages to make it out unscathed and into the safe haven they were promised—a mysterious house in the Farm.

But there’s a rebellion brewing, and Violet has found herself in the middle of it. Alongside a new ally, Violet discovers her Auguries are much more powerful than she ever imagined. But is she strong enough to rise up against the Jewel and everything she has ever known?

The White Rose is a raw, captivating sequel to The Jewel that fans won’t be able to put down until the final shocking moments.

My Thoughts

I thought the first book was good, so I’m looking forward to reading book two. Hopefully there’s better character development in this one, though.

What book are you waiting for this Wednesday?

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Craft Project #2: Hogwarts Throw Pillows

Another craft project! My roommate and I wanted some throw pillows for our living room. We couldn’t find any good, nerdy/geeky, and cheap throw pillows, so we made our own.

We bought some cheap 16”x16” pillows from Wal-Mart’s craft section and we found an online store that sold cheap Hogwarts T-shirts. The online store is called Textual Tees and we got six T-shirts for about $50. We each kept one to wear and then used the other four to make our pillows. Then we cut out the correct shapes and sizes of the T-shirts to get what we have here:

I did the Ravenclaw (my Hogwarts House) and the Gryffindor ones. My roommate did the Hufflepuff one (her House) and the Slytherin one.

Here’s a close-up of the Gryffindor and Slytherin pillows, the first two we finished:

I think they turned out pretty good. I’m excited to use them!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Review: Every Last Breath by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Every Last Breath
(The Dark Elements #3)
Publication Date: July 28, 2015
Paperback, 400 pages, Harlequin Teen
Genres: YA, Paranormal

Some loves will last ’til your dying breath

Every choice has consequences—but seventeen-year-old Layla faces tougher choices than most. Light or darkness. Wickedly sexy demon prince Roth, or Zayne, the gorgeous, protective Warden she never thought could be hers. Hardest of all, Layla has to decide which side of herself to trust.

Layla has a new problem, too. A Lilin—the deadliest of demons—has been unleashed, wreaking havoc on those around her…including her best friend. To keep Sam from a fate much, much worse than death, Layla must strike a deal with the enemy while saving her city—and her race—from destruction.

Torn between two worlds and two different boys, Layla has no certainties, least of all survival, especially when an old bargain comes back to haunt them all. But sometimes, when secrets are everywhere and the truth seems unknowable, you have to listen to your heart, pick a side—and then fight like hell…

My Review

JLA… JLA… JLA… What the heck are you doing to me? Your books and my body just make this connection, but then the book ends and I’m left with the expression of an upset monkey on my face. Why must your series end? WHY?

Alright. I’m okay. I’ll be fine. Yeah. Let’s actually get to the review, shall we? We shall.

Of course Layla and Roth are back, and boy do I likey me some Roth. (You can’t see it, but I just licked my lips all seductive-like.) But Layla also has Zayne hopping around too. JLA, I enjoy your love triangles, but sometimes I just want to kill the other guy. Sometimes. Not all the time. Just whenever I feel like he’s encroaching on territory that’s better left to the other guy. You know what I’m sayin’? Anywho, Layla is forced to woman up (YES!) and kick some butt. And I was ready for some butt-kicking. I do however, wish that Roth, Zayne, and every other non-Layla character had more face-time in the novel. I felt like we were in Layla’s head a lot and I felt a little stifled at times.

The plot of the book didn’t blow me away like the first two books had. I knew what was going to happen at the end once I had about 150-ish pages to go and that’s just not cool. I feel like JLA introduces these awesome characters only to leave me with an ending that doesn’t really satisfy. Don’t get me wrong, the ending was good, it was just predictable. I swear all of her non-contemporary books end the same way. If she could just give me something new in combination with her awesome cast of characters, I would be an oh-so-happy fangirl.

All in all, Every Last Breath had romance, action, and some very feisty and fantastic characters. It’s definitely a series ender that you need to read, so go pick it up. 

Oh, and let's not talk about how stupid this cover change is.

**Note: I purchased a copy of this book. This in no way affected my opinion/review.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Which Team Are You? : The Supernatural Sidekicks Edition

I basically just post a book series every week and have people vote on what team they are. I know the YA Sisterhood does the YA Crush Tournament, but I just want to find out how much you guys like one love interest over another, in one series.

Last week's poll was over Team Travis, Trenton, Taylor, Tyler, or Thomas from Jamie McGuire’s books. And it was a tie between Travis and Trenton!

So for this edition of “Which Team Are You?” I’m going to ask you who your pick of hunky (I don’t think this word really applies to these two, but I’ll use it anyway) man-flesh is from the TV show Supernatural.

You can choose from:

1) Castiel

or 2) Crowley

I’m more of a Castiel fan than a Crowley fan, but I do like Crowley. And sometimes Castiel really gets on my nerves (Misha is great, though. I just don’t like Castiel's character arcs). Neither of them are attractive in my opinion, so this is more of a “Which One Do You Like Better?” than a “Which Team Are You?”.  
If you had to choose one, who would it be, and why? If you haven’t watched the show (How is that even possible!?), who do you think sounds more appealing from Supernatural summary below (which tells nothing of either of them. Whoops.):

Two brothers follow their father's footsteps as "hunters" fighting evil supernatural beings of many kinds including monsters, demons, and gods that roam the earth.

Which Team Are You? free polls
***Please note that I stop checking the poll the Friday before the new poll comes out (on Sunday). Also, please only vote once so everyone’s vote counts, unless you need to vote for both guys. I give you permission to do that because sometimes choosing is tough.***

**Also note that these are not my images. I found them online.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Stacking the Shelves: The Gena Showalter Edition

"Stacking the Shelves" is a weekly haul meme that is hosted by Tynga's Reviews. It allows book buyers to share their accumulation of books with the online book-loving community.

I got paid this weekend! So I bought a book. Great logic, right?

The Hotter You Burn by Gena Showalter

I read the first book and enjoyed it, so I thought I’d give the sequel a try. Plus I’m trying to collect all of Gena Showalter’s books. I only have a few more to go!

What books have you bought/received lately?

Friday, August 21, 2015

Dean Winchester Friday

Dean Winchester (or sometimes Jensen Ackles) Fridays make me a very happy fangirl. You'll see why when you look at the pic.

Dean Winchester in prison. He makes orange look really good.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Review: The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

The Wrath and the Dawn
(The Wrath and the Dawn #1)
Publication Date: May 12, 2015
Hardcover, 388 pages, Putnam’s Sons Books
Genres: YA, Fantasy, Fairytale Retelling

Every dawn brings horror to a different family in a land ruled by a killer. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, takes a new bride each night only to have her executed at sunrise. So it is a suspicious surprise when sixteen-year-old Shahrzad volunteers to marry Khalid. But she does so with a clever plan to stay alive and exact revenge on the Caliph for the murder of her best friend and countless other girls. Shazi's wit and will, indeed, get her through to the dawn that no others have seen, but with a catch . . . she’s falling in love with the very boy who killed her dearest friend.

She discovers that the murderous boy-king is not all that he seems and neither are the deaths of so many girls. Shazi is determined to uncover the reason for the murders and to break the cycle once and for all.

My Review

I don’t even know what to say. This book was… This book was incredible? Mind-boggling good? Fantastic? All of the above? Yes. Yes. Yes. And yes.

I was really scared going into this book. The hype was definitely up there and I was worried it was not going to live up to my expectations. I shouldn’t have been worried in any way, shape, or form. The Wrath and the Dawn can definitely hold its own.

The characters of this book are phenomenal! Sharhzad is the perfect blend of feisty, head-strong, awesome, and bold that I love in a YA female lead. She’s able to dish it out with the big boys and give some major third-degree burns while doing so. Basically, she just made me smile. Now Khalid, Khalid is another character I have no words for. If this were real life and he had done the things he’s done, I would hate him. Okay, hate is a strong word. I would loathe him. But this is not real life, this is fiction, and Khalid is a sexy beast. There. I said it. His tortured soul and strength of character just made my heart BOOM BOOM so fast.

The other characters are good too. I liked all of them, even the second part of the love triangle. However, even though I liked Tariq, I do NOT want him to end up with Shazi. It will not happen, Renee. Do you comprehend what I am saying right now? Please do.

Let’s move on from my mini-rant/plead, shall we?

The plot of this book deserves a very strong “A.” I never knew what was going to happen. Which is weird considering it’s supposed to be a retelling, but I’m not complaining. However, because this book is based off of One Thousand and One Nights story, I was expecting that element to continue throughout the story. Again, not complaining, just observing.

The magic of the world and the detail that went into each paragraph, line, and word just made this novel so beautiful. I wish I had time to read it again, but alas, I do not. The only complaint I have about Sharhzad’s story is that I was very confused when I started reading. The first 10 pages or so switch point of views so much and I was trying to get the names and places straight but it was all so confusing. I think that probably wasn’t the best way to start out a fantasy novel.

All in all, I don’t think I can recommend this amazing fantasy novel enough. It has everything a fantasy lover wants: magic, mystery, mayhem, and sexy-times. Believe me, you’ll want to read it, so just go pick it up already.

**Note: I won a copy of this book from the publisher. This in no way affected my opinion/review.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday: Dumplin' by Julie Murphy

"Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly event, hosted over at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating.

This week, what's really got my pages in a twist is...

Publication Date: September 15, 2015
Hardcover, 384 pages, Balzer + Bray
Genres: YA, Contemporary

Self-proclaimed fat girl Willowdean Dickson (dubbed “Dumplin’” by her former beauty queen mom) has always been at home in her own skin. Her thoughts on having the ultimate bikini body? Put a bikini on your body. With her all-American beauty best friend, Ellen, by her side, things have always worked . . . until Will takes a job at Harpy’s, the local fast-food joint. There she meets Private School Bo, a hot former jock. Will isn’t surprised to find herself attracted to Bo. But she is surprised when he seems to like her back.

Instead of finding new heights of self-assurance in her relationship with Bo, Will starts to doubt herself. So she sets out to take back her confidence by doing the most horrifying thing she can imagine: entering the Miss Clover City beauty pageant—along with several other unlikely candidates—to show the world that she deserves to be up there as much as any twiggy girl does. Along the way, she’ll shock the hell out of Clover City—and maybe herself most of all.

With starry Texas nights, red candy suckers, Dolly Parton songs, and a wildly unforgettable heroine— Dumplin’ is guaranteed to steal your heart.

My Thoughts

To be honest, the premise for this book doesn’t intrigue me that much. What does intrigue me is all of the hype for the book.

What book are you waiting for this Wednesday?