Friday, 29 August 2014

Eden by Janelle Stalder (Eden #1)

Genres: Young Adult, High Fantasy, Adventure
Publication Date: September 20th 2011
POV: Alternating - Third-person, Past tense
My Rating: 3 out of 5

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Trapped within the cruel world of hormones and bullies, fifteen-year-old Aiden is convinced life has more to offer him. His instincts are proven correct on the night he is awakened by a voice calling to him from outside his window. As he sleepily peers into his yard, his eyes slowly focus on a woman who says she is there to take him to Eden. Aiden is about to fulfill the life purpose he never knew he had.

It is in Eden, a land on the brink of war, where Aiden will finally learn to trust himself and those around him. Accompanied by Wolf, his sidekick Logan, and the beautiful archer, Elisa, Aiden is soon thrust into a battle to save Eden. Meanwhile Elisa, the only girl in the King’s Army, is in the midst of her own struggles. Betrothed to a man she has no intention of marrying, Elisa is caught between the need to prove herself and her desire for true happiness. And now that she has met Aiden, she is more confused than ever.

In this action-packed fantasy tale, romance, adventure, and intrigue surround Aiden as he learns just what he is capable of when he discovers confidence and courage.

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Eden is told from the alternating POV of Aiden and Elisa, two young soldiers in training in the southern army; Rose, a young girl who is captured by the invading northern army; and Jameson, the southern king, or High King. This story had a lot of potential. I was interested by the idea of Eden, and I really enjoyed Aiden's character and I love saviour type characters. It had a lot of ingredients for a great fantasy.

Unfortunately it was unfulfilled. Aiden remains the best character, but his saviour status was rushed, the whole story taking place over two weeks. He is only 15 and he leads a battle against two powerful potential kings, with only two weeks training under his belt? It was just too much for the limits of my imagination.

The only other character that was even remotely interesting to me was Elisa, but I still feel like I hardly know her, which is surprising considering that she was a POV character. But she mostly just described things and didn't think about her feelings much. She had potential, being such a kick-ass character, but it is as of yet, unfulfilled. I guess I also kind of liked Jameson. He was different, for a king.

And romance? There was fuck all! There were just the barest of hints, and I wasn't even sure which way the hints were pointing. Wolf and Aiden both like Elisa, but Elisa and Wolf can't seem to stand each other. Their friend Logan seems to think it means that they are in love and just don't know it. And I get that sometimes people just have that kind of tension, that you can tell is just going to explode into sex, if they weren't 15. But not Elisa and Wolf. I just didn't get any of those vibes from them. It felt like honest hate. And Wolf is fucking annoying anyway. Asshole. But speaking of having sex at 15, all of Aiden's friends were shocked when they found out he was a virgin. WTF? Bunch of sluts.

Anyways. Elisa and Aiden got along well but they were just kind of stuck somewhere in between comfortable girl/guy friends and something more, and they didn't seem to know which way to lean. I also didn't like how the bad guys were humanized. I can't accept characters that rape and pillage no matter how nice their manners.

The action and adventure in this book were gripping enough for me to enjoy the experience, and the world was new and interesting. And despite everything, Aiden was a great young hero. But I will not be continuing this series. The first book works well enough as a stand alone.

"I've never met a girl like you. You're absolutely fearless to me, and you handle situations like they're nothing. You have no reservations when approaching difficult scenarios. Its amazing."

Monday, 18 August 2014

Friday Night Alibi by Cassie Mae

Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publication Date: July 29th 2013
POV: Female - First-person, Present tense
My Rating: 4 out of 5

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In the wealthy town of Sundale, Kelli Pinkins has hatched the perfect plan to capitalize on her sweet reputation. For a generous fee, she will be every trust-fund baby’s dream: a Friday-night alibi, the “girlfriend” or “BFF” that parents dream about. With college approaching in the fall, Kelli’s services are in demand more than ever, which means that her social life is nonexistent. But Kelli is A-okay with that. She’s raking in cash for school. Besides, relationships are tricky, and sometimes very messy. She’d rather be at home on Xbox LIVE, anyway. Then the unexpected happens: She meets college stud Chase Maroney.

Chase isn’t like the preppy, privileged guys Kelli usually meets in Sundale. For starters, he’s twentysomething, always wears black., and he shoots back one-liners as fast as she can dish them out. But Kelli’s attempts to drive Chase away falter when she realizes that he treats her like he really knows her, like he cares about knowing her. When Kelli finally gives in to the delicious kiss she’s been fighting for so long, she faces a tough decision: make Chase a real-life boyfriend and risk her heart... or keep her clients and lose her first true love.

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It took a while for this one to grow on me, but in the end I really loved it. I enjoyed the whole scenario with Kelli's alibis. It was an interesting and unique story. I also really liked Kelli and felt a lot of sympathy for her. Her parents were ridiculous and she had been alone for so long, she turned to drastic measures to find a place for herself in her stuck-up town. She was also really fun, and I really loved Sades. They were a cute BFF pair.

I had trouble getting pulled into this story because I really didn't like Chase for the longest time. Kelli kept going on and on about how he was a perv and really egocentric. I thought she was sort of exaggerating that, but I did find him super annoying and lame and immature. It probably took me until about 70% before he started growing on me, and a good portion of my feelings for him are pity.

I feel like we never really got to know him well enough, just like Kelli kept pointing out. They just made out all the time, and in the end when Kelli finally decides she wants more, she asks him about his brother, but nothing else. I still feel like we didn't get to know him enough to really be able to understand his behaviour. He was so annoying in the beginning and it doesn't make sense to me now. But they were still super cute and I loved seeing them together eventually. I loved how he was so head over heels for Kelli. Even in his super awkwardness, he was kind of cute, in a way.

As with Switched, this felt like a YA, not an NA. The characters just didn't seem to be on the maturity level of NA characters, and it didn't cover anything that needs the NA label. But overall I was very happy with this book. I enjoyed reading it from the beginning even when I wasnt 100% invested in the characters yet. It was still funny and had a super cute ending so it gets my seal of approval.

"He's not saying anything, but in a way, he's saying everything. That he's in just as ΓΌbergooby love as I am."

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Bloodraven by P.L. Nunn

Genres: Adult, High Fantasy, Romance
Publication Date: August 21st 2007
POV: Alternating - Third-person, Past tense
Smut-O-Meter: 10 out of 10
My Rating: 4 out of 5
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A son of a forest dwelling people, Yhalen knows little of the world outside the ancestral forest, until he is captured by a band of ogres on a slave-taking mission. Only grim tales of the barbaric giants had reached the forest, but Yhalen soon learns that even the darkest fireside story only hinted at the brutality of these Northern warriors. He discovers the meaning of true fear at their hands, and only the awakening of ancient magic saves him from destruction.

Surviving ogre viciousness, he finds himself given to Bloodraven, the half ogre, half human war leader as a slave. Yhalen, refusing to bend, soon pays the price for offending prickly ogre pride.

But Bloodraven is no mindless, violent ogrish beast. Bloodraven has an agenda and Yhalen finds himself drawn in the wake into human and ogre politics, into bloodshed and cruelty and into the forbidden magic that is damnation in the eyes of his own people, but which might mean the difference between death and salvation.

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This was my second attempt at M/M and in some ways it was better, and in others it was worse. I really enjoyed the story and world building in this one a lot more. The worlds of both Ydregi and Ogres was laid out smoothly and I had no trouble adapting to the new setting of the book and the new people. I would like to visit the world again.

I really enjoyed Bloodraven's character and have always been fascinated by 'love my captor' stories. And this one had a double twist to it, being both high fantasy and M/M, so it was an exciting new experience for me. I have only ever read contemporary M/F 'love my captor' stories before. I enjoy the moral ambiguity that inevitably comes with loving someone who has kidnapped or enslaved you, but that is what usually happens. And I did love Bloodraven. I loved that odd balance he had between treating Yhalen like a slave, and completely cherishing him. I wouldn't have thought it possible, but somehow he did it. He could refer to Yhalen as "my little human" and it feels like her is saying both "I own you," and "You own my heart". 

But it never quite came to that, and that is my biggest complaint about this book. There were never any declarations of love. Not even close. Yhalen and Bloodraven never discussed their feelings, not even in their own thoughts, and it is never clear what they really wanted from each other besides sex. The strongest words either of them ever used was when Yhalen admits only to himself that he has "affection" for Bloodraven. Affection. Damned Elinor Dashwood! And that was practically at the end!

I definitely feel that Yhalen and Bloodraven made a great pair, and it is clear that all that Bloodraven went through and sacrificed for Yhalen is not just due to pride for his possessions. But the serious lack of any sentiment in this book was definitely felt by me. My only other complaint is what happened between Yhalen and Elvardo. I really did not like that at all. It was pretty dubious consent, but I still feel like Yhalen betrayed Bloodraven and I hold it against him a bit. Nonetheless, I really enjoyed Yhalen and Bloodraven, not only their unique relationship, but their chemistry. This was my first M/M erotica and it was pretty steamy. Although I wouldn't call it BDSM. Sex usually hurt for Yhalen, but it was not intentional. I wish I could live in this story a little longer.

"He wondered dismally when his heart had been so thoroughly lost to an enemy."

Note: I have heard a lot of people say that the cover for this initially turned them off from reading it, but they are glad that they eventually gave it a chance anyway. Its also not the first time I have heard this, as a lot of people complain about the covers by Jet Mykles as well. Call me crazy, but I find that I actually like the cover.

Monday, 11 August 2014

The Real Thing by Cassie Mae

Genres: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publication Date: August 19th 2014
POV: Alternating - First-person, Present tense
Smut-O-Meter: 5 out of 10
My Rating: 5 out of 5
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In this electrifying novel from New Adult sensation Cassie Mae, two close friends surprise themselves by shifting from platonic love to sexual attraction.

Eric Matua has one friend—his best friend and childhood sweetheart, who needs a place to stay for the summer. Mia Johnson has thousands of friends—who live in her computer. Along with her email chats and Facebook notifications, Mia also devours romance novels, spending countless hours with fictional characters, dreaming of her own Romeo to sweep her off her feet. When she starts receiving supersweet messages from a stranger who thinks she’s someone else, Mia begins to believe that real love is possible outside her virtual world.

When the two friends become roommates, Mia finds herself falling harder than she ever thought she could. But Eric keeps his desires locked away, unsure of himself and his ability to give his best friend what she deserves in a boyfriend. As her advances are continually spurned, Mia splits her time between Eric and her computer. But she soon realizes she’s about to lose the only real thing she’s ever had.

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I think I can solidly say that this is now my second favourite Cassie Mae book after Reasons I Fell for the Funny Fat Friend. I know that I have said that about every one of her books I have read since, but that only means that her books keep getting better and better! I still have 2 unread published books by her. Well, 3 when counting Unexpectedly You. I really need to get to them now! 

I think there were two major things that made me love this book so much. 1) Eric. :) 2) Mia. Haha, but I will get into more detail than that. 

“I want you to love me with all of you.”

Eric is just so amazing! He is so sweet and vulnerable but he didn't put up with shit. I can't say that he is my fave Cassie Mae hero because that is like trying to pick a favourite flavour of ice cream. :P But let's just say that he is tied for first with like 5 others. Although what he went through in high school, specifically with Ali, breaks my heart, it makes me love him more because he is surviving, even if it is hard sometimes. And the fact that he thinks his panic attacks make him weak just breaks my heart all over again. Gosh, I want an Eric Teddy that I can hug all day!

Mia was so relatable. Not only because she reads a lot, but because she lives on the internet and goes to all the same websites I do. Facebook, Goodreads, Pinterest, Amazon, etc. I can understand her passion for it. I always have my phone with me. Even if I am home and I go from one room to another, I take my phone with me. I know it can be bad, but I don't think I am quite as bad as Mia, because I would never text and drive. And the first day that she saw Eric again after 3 years, she got lost in a book and ignored him for hours. I felt really bad for him. But it doesn't make her a bad person. She was actually a lot of fun, and she was really nice. She was a super affectionate person and the best friend Eric could ask for. I felt so happy that Eric had her in high school. Despite whatever else he may have been dealing with, I hope that he knew that Mia always loved him, even if he thought it was just as a friend in the beginning.
 
I never used to read a lot of contemporary romance. Reasons I Fell for the Funny Fat Friend was the first one I read and really loved. I am starting to learn my dos and don'ts of the genre. The things I like, the things I avoid. And I prefer more mature contemps. NA or adult, so I enjoyed the maturity level in this. I haven't read Friday Night Alibi and I didn't enjoy Switched, so this is sort of my first Cassie Mae NA, and I definitely hope to see more. And I have always had a soft spot for the 'friends to lovers' stories since that was my story, but I think this one reminded me the most of myself and my husband. I saw myself in Mia, and a bit of him in Eric, so I couldn't help but feel like this story was real. I got so attached and felt so vulnerable while reading it. Eric and Mia are my new friends. :)

“I can't tell if I hear your heart beating, or if it's mine."
"Aren't they the same thing?”

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Incendiary by Carole Cummings (Wolf's-Own #4)

Genres: Adult, High Fantasy, Romance
Publication Date: June 17th 2012
POV: Alternating- Third-person, Past tense
Smut-O-Meter: 5 out of 10
My Rating: 4 out of 5

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Fen Jacin-rei finds himself again on the run after discovering the reality of what he is and why the gods won t let him go. His one source of support, Kamen Malick, is suddenly unavailable, and now hounded and chased by ghosts who want to drive him into insanity and keep him there, Fen will have to face life all alone.

Or maybe not. Old enemies and new allies seek to control Fen, now known as Kamen s Untouchable. It s going to take everything Fen s got to figure out who he can trust and who he should fear. It might take more than what Fen s got to discern who is even real.

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I really enjoyed this series, although I still never fully understood what was going on. The world building was too sloppy and the story too vast for me to grasp. There was endless mythology that was not given proper introduction. I think this series would benefit from some massive editing. The writing and grammar is fine, but it needs some serious restructuring. Although I absolutely adore the characters, especially Fen. 

Fen totally won me over from the first chapter of Ghost, but he just kept getting better and better. I started out in awe of him and his abilities. His composure, the dedication he put into everything he did. But as we got to know him more and more I saw his pain, his guilt, his strength and loyalty. Goodness, how could anyone not fall in love with him, who has every reason to fall apart, but who held on to every inch, fought with every breath?

Malick grew on me and I loved him almost as much as Fen by the end, although it took awhile. I never disliked him though. I mostly love his interactions with Fen. He is the only one giving Fen what he has always deserved. The loyalty, love, and dedication that he had always shown to others but had never received himself. Until Malick. I have to love Malick for that. He loves without reservation and no one has ever deserved it more than Fen.

I just wish that this series had focused more on the romance, since I couldn't get into the story that much. I wanted more of Fen and Malick, but unfortunately their relationship kept getting drawn out. I understand it would be difficult for Fen to make any lasting decisions in the state of mind he had been in. But in the end, although they are together, Fen still didn't really seem to know what he felt for Malick, and that was a bit disappointing to me. But Malick was absolutely lost in Fen since book 1. I love the love that Malick had for Fen. That is the kind of love I always look for in my books. My heart clenches and my stomach flutters just thinking about it. But it wasn't as satisfying as it would have been if it had been fully returned. But I will remember Fen forever.

“Yeah, you're fucked up, baby." He smiled a little and kissed Fen again. "'S part of what I love about you.”

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