Book Review: A Week to Be Wicked by Tessa Dare

A Week to Be Wicked by Tessa Dare Book Review: A Week to Be Wicked by Tessa Dare
Release Date: 03/27/12
Publisher: Avon
Source: Purchased
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Minerva Highwood, one of Spindle Cove’s confirmed spinsters, needs to be in Scotland.

Colin Sandhurst, Lord Payne, a rake of the first order, needs to be…anywhere but Spindle Cove.

These unlikely partners have one week to

• fake an elopement
• convince family and friends they’re in “love”
• outrun armed robbers
• survive their worst nightmares
• travel four hundred miles without killing each other

All while sharing a very small carriage by day and an even smaller bed by night.

What they don’t have time for is their growing attraction. Much less wild passion. And heaven forbid they spend precious hours baring their hearts and souls.

Suddenly one week seems like exactly enough time to find a world of trouble. And maybe…just maybe…love.

Review:
SWOON…AND SWOON AGAIN.

I actually read this for the first time some time last year, but a few days ago I found myself annoyed that I hadn’t read anything in… a while. I ended up browsing through my Kindle, came upon this, and remembered how much I loved it. I decided I would read through parts of it, but then I couldn’t stop…and I read the whole thing again. Guys, this book is the definition of DELIGHTFUL.

Colin and Minerva’s relationship easily had a spark from the very beginning, but being that they’re polar opposites, there were more than a few times they disagreed. Thankfully for me, this meant a lot of bickering and bantering, as well as a palpable growing attraction between them. Their adventures on the road had me laughing as Colin created hilarious backstories for them, some of which definitely backfired on them. I loved as they slowly grew comfortable with each other, building a strong foundation of trust.

Romances always come with some steamy scenes, and I must admit that sometimes I quickly skim through them, because I prefer witty banter over them. However, here…WHOA, TESSA DARE. Way to make me blush!!

Fun banter and great steamy scenes aside, what I loved most about A Week to Be Wicked was how Tessa Dare created such a solid, healthy relationship. I’ve encountered so.much.angst in my historical romance reads, so it was so refreshing to have this be relatively free of complications and drama. Colin and Minerva fit together perfectly and Tessa Dare set the bar very high for all other romances with with this book.

hilarious, sweet, and steamy. insert exclamation points here because GUH, SO GOOD.

Book Review: At Any Turn by Brenna Aubrey

At Any Turn by Brenna Aubrey Book Review: At Any Price (Gaming the System #2) by Brenna Aubrey
Release Date: 4/28/14
Publisher: Silver Griffon Associates
Source: ARC for review
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So You Want to Be a Hero?

Millionaire CEO Adam Drake, overcame a tortured past to build his own gaming empire. He’s in complete control of his life. With his new found love for brilliant geek girl blogger, Mia Strong, the last piece of his life is in place. He’s at the top of his game.

Your Princess Is in Another Castle.

Until suddenly, she withdraws from him, leaving him in the dark. Something tells him she needs help. But she’s too stubborn or scared to ask for it, and the more he tries to take control, the further he pushes her away. He can’t solve this problem by writing a check or a few lines of code.

He’ll have to dig deep and put himself at risk…or risk losing her forever.

Review:
After reading and enjoying At Any Price so much, it was a no brainer that At Any Turn would be top priority on our TBR lists. Although At Any Price would have made a great standalone, Mia and Adam’s story seemed to contain so much more substance from many of our previous NA reads, so who were we to refuse more?! But perhaps sometimes, less is more… While we both continued to enjoy Brenna Aubrey’s writing, At Any Turn definitely took …well, a turn. Here’s a break down:

 

ADAM

Lindsey: Adam was super intriguing to me in At Any Price, and I have to admit that I wasn’t sure how I felt about having this sequel in his POV. Sometimes you don’t want to get in the love interest’s head, you know? It kind of takes away a bit of the appeal and the ~mystery or whatever. That was the case in At Any Turn, but on a way more intense level than I thought it would be. Like don’t get me wrong, Brenna Aubrey did an amazing job at making Adam’s voice completely different from Mia’s, and I seriously felt like I was in a guy’s mind, and I’ll admit it was interesting/eye-opening to be in there. But perhaps I was a bit too overwhelmed by how intense Adam was. At times I actually felt like he was acting like a psycho and even though I could see (or read, rather) his thought process and why/how he would come to a conclusion and/or decision to do something, I wasn’t too much a fan of having to read said thought process. It wasn’t even his sometimes selfishness (which I do think was rooted in how much he cared for Mia), but moreso the fact that it was all just TOO MUCH TO HANDLE.

Steph: I’m always super hesitant about POV changes, but I was glad that this would at least be an actual sequel and not one of those “same story, different take” situations. For some reason, I kept expecting Mia’s POV to pop up every once in a while, but that’s not to say that I thought Adam’s voice was similar to Mia’s — it wasn’t. However, I do think being in Adam’s mindset took away from the charm and allure that I liked of him in At Any Price. So much so, that I thought Adam was pretty…crazy? He was more than a little overbearing, his feelings about Mia came across as obsessive, and I have to say that I was very uncomfortable by the control he wanted to expel over Mia and their relationship. NO BUENO.

MIA

Lindsey: I don’t know if it’s because I wasn’t in Mia’s head for this book, but I felt a little disconnect from her and the character I got to know in At Any Price. Of course she is dealing with some serious stuff which would definitely play a factor in how she acted, but I just wanted to shake her. I could definitely relate with the frustration and lack of control Adam felt over her situation and I seriously just want to know what was going on in her head during all of the events in this book! In a way, it made sense because in the first book you don’t really know what Adam’s thinking, and now that this book is in Adam’s POV, you don’t know what Mia’s thinking… But since we’ve already had an entire book (and a great one, too) in Mia’s POV, I felt like I just couldn’t recognize her at times.I suppose finding out that you _______ and then that you _____ (if you’ve read this book, I’m sure you can fill in those blanks), is more than enough to cause you to ~not be yourself~ so maybe that explains that. 

Steph: I know Mia was hit with some heavy stuff, which definitely explains her decline in confidence, but it was so frustrating to have her crying and being melodramatic in all of her scenes. Yes, Adam took some drastic measures in their relationship, and I don’t blame her at all for taking a few steps back from him, but Mia was definitely withholding some important details, too. Furthermore, she kept going back to him with the intention of ~clearing the air~, and maybe discussing their issues, but it all continued to result in the same vicious, cycle of annoying.

ADAM & MIA

Lindsey: At Any Price was frustrating because of the constant interruptions to Mia and Adam fulfilling the ~auction, but that was in a good way because it built up to every next moment that they were together. With that said, in At Any Turn, it was suuuuper frustrating that they were constantly not in sync with each other. Although Adam and Mia obviously had their burdens (and secrets), it was a little discouraging  how unhappy they were and a lot of why I enjoyed the first book was because they clicked really well. I mean, props to Brenna Aubrey for creating mad angry tension between the two and totally conveying how messed up it was between them, but still… I did miss the Adam and Mia from At Any Price. Even the scenes when they were together–as in together-together, I didn’t find as compelling to read because of all the drama.

Steph: DRAMA DRAMA DRAMA. I enjoyed their relationship in At Any Price, but I have to say that it gave me a huge headache here. Brenna Aubrey can write some good steamy scenes, but those didn’t make up for the fact that there was a major lack of communication between Adam and Mia; it’s clear to me that they’re not in the right place for each other. There were some surprising turn of events towards the end of the book, but it only worries me because these two don’t have a healthy relationship right now, and the addition of these situations only implies more disaster ahead.

OVERALL THOUGHTS

Lindsey: Despite the somewhat disconnect I felt from Mia, how crazy Adam got, and how mentally heavy I found At Any Turn , it was still a compelling read, which I think Brenna Aubrey definitely deserves major credit for. I may be ragey and all “OMG WHY WHAT NO” over those not-so-little plot twists at the end, but there’s no way I’m not reading At Any Moment. I still have hope for Adam and Mia, and hopefully they’re able to overcome it all.

Steph: At Any Turn was a bit of a departure from At Any Price in terms of tone, but I found myself so engrossed in the continuation of Adam and Mia’s story. Was I annoyed and frustrated by the actions of the characters? Definitely. Will I continue one with the series? Without a doubt. While the direction of this installment was different from what I expected, Brenna Aubrey had me hooked on every word and I’m eager to see how she surprises me in the conclusion, At Any Moment.

Mia and Adam: GET YOUR SH*T TOGETHER. Because you’re awesome when you’re not fighting.

Book Review: Flat-Out Celeste by Jessica Park

park-focBook Review: Flat-Out Celeste (Flat-Out Love #2)
Release Date: 22/05/14
Publisher: CreateSpace
Source: Purchased on Kindle
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For high-school senior Celeste Watkins, every day is a brutal test of bravery. And Celeste is scared. Alienated because she’s too smart, her speech too affected, her social skills too far outside the norm, she seems to have no choice but to retreat into isolation.

But college could set her free, right? If she can make it through this grueling senior year, then maybe. If she can just find that one person to throw her a lifeline, then maybe, just maybe.

Justin Milano, a college sophomore with his own set of quirks, could be that person to pull her from a world of solitude. To rescue her—that is, if she’ll let him.

Together, they may work. Together, they may save each other. And together they may also save another couple—two people Celeste knows are absolutely, positively flat-out in love.

Review:

I’m going to admit that I was a tad bit skeptical when I found out that Jessica Park was writing a spin-off/sequel/companion to Flat-Out Love in Celeste’s POV. I absolutely ADORED Flat-Out Love and while I thought Celeste was an interesting, likeable, and funny character, I wasn’t too sure I wanted to read an entire about her. There’s also the fact that she was super young in Flat-Out Love and reading about her as a high school senior with a love interest and all that? Weeeird.

But then right before its release, I decided to read an excerpt Jessica posted just for curiosity’s sake. It featured my favourite Matt, it was hilarious, and I was now intrigued. Later, with a cancelled flight and a four hour wait at the airport, I decided to give it a go. To my surprise, I found myself really enjoying it, and sped through half of the book in one sitting. While it’s true that Flat-Out Celeste may be your typical coming-of-age story where a girl learns to live in and be comfortable in her own skin, I truly think the characters make all the difference here. These were characters I already loved, so it was a definite plus. Their little quirks, what makes them tick, what and who they love… With that said, I shall break down my thoughts on the book by characters. SPOILERS~~~

CELESTE: Celeste was… hilarious. She’s a lot of things, but that’s the word I will choose. As I mentioned, I liked her well enough in Flat-Out Love, but she was just that little kid sister …who was a just a little too attached to her dead brother. Although it was still weird at times to wrap my mind around the fact that she (and everyone else) was older in this novel, she truly became her own person and I really enjoyed reading in her POV, and her story. It was fun to get to see her thought process instead of just reading about what she says or does. It was also a little sad because she fully knew how “abnormal” her behavior was, but we also get to see her come out of her shell, but also to accept herself.

MATT: Mattyyyyyy. He was probably my favourite part of Flat-Out Love. I knew he obviously would make appearances in this novel, but I was so so so delighted to find that he had more than random cameos and that he was actually a really huge element of Celeste’s story. I don’t know if it was possible to adore him more, but I do after this. How much he cared for Celeste just breaks me, and in turn, it was also sweet to see how much Celeste cared for Matt, and how much she appreciated him. It was really precious seeing him through Celeste’s eyes in the older brother role, rather than the love interest as it’d been with Julie. Ahh, he cares for her so damn much and he’s the best. Their brother-sister interactions also had me cracking up. (PS. I would like Flat-Out Matt, part 2 now, please and thank you).

JULIE (BUT REALLY MORE LIKE JULIE/MATT): I was beyond heartbroken to find out that Matt and Julie had broken up. Like SHOCKED TO THE CORE. What? How? WHY? I really liked that Celeste attempted to play matchmaker for them and even though she basically forced them to confront each other and didn’t really think about how much it would bother them… you can’t be mad at her for doing it. The whole proposal thing was a little bit of a shocker as well, and admittedly marriage proposals are something I’m actually not fond of in novels, but I DID NOT EVEN CARE THIS TIME. Tied in with the skydiving facebook chat from Flat-Out Love, the whole thing was dang cheesy, but also lovely. If this was another novel/series, I don’t know how I would feel about using such a massive part of someone else’s story (Julie’s) to be a major scene in a new story (Celeste’s) just because it kind forces the focus away from the ACTUAL story, but 1) Because it’s Matt and Julie, I seem to have made an exception, and 2) Matt is a huge part of Celeste’s life, as was being one of the obstacles to Matt moving to California with Julie, so it wasn’t thaaat far off. Anyway, Matt/Julie: YES. Also to note is how Julie sort of became a surrogate sister to Celeste in Flat-Out Love, so I was glad that they still had that relationship years later, even if Julie wasn’t living in the Watkins house anymore.

JUSTIN: So I have to admit I wasn’t always Justin’s biggest fan. That’s not to say that I didn’t like him because I did! It’s just that personally, he had way too much energy for me and sometimes he was just EXHAUSTING to read because I felt like I was running a mental marathon, much like the ones I imagine he was running in his own mind. As someone who comes into Celeste’s life and changes it for the better, however, I thought he was perfect. His emails were definitely endearing, his little plans for their dates were cute, and he and Celeste were super adorable together. Although he was everywhere and anywhere, he truly did care for Celeste and he always came across as most genuine and really sweet–just in the form of a giant ball of pure energy. It was a good balance.

AND IN THE END… When it comes down to it, I’m super glad that Jessica Park decided to continue on with these characters because yeah, Celeste’s story wasn’t really ~over. In many cases, I seldom enjoy when an already perfect story is re-opened and it turns out the original HEA didn’t last. Like WHEN IS THAT EVER A GOOD IDEA? Thankfully, it worked out here, and it was sewn into another enjoyable, cute, amusing story. I may have enjoyed Flat-Out Love a billion times more, but Flat-Out Celeste was definitely a memorable and sweet contender.

A delightful surprise over how much flat-out love I felt for Flat-Out Celeste.

Ten Classics KT Needs to Read. ASAP.

ttt

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, in which we create top ten lists that involve books.

This week’s TTT is a little embarrassing for moi. I hated reading when I was a kid, and when I was forced to, it was in the hands of the public “god-forbid-we-study-novels-about-or-written-by-women-lest-the-boys-be-turned-off-of-reading” school system, so I have a lot of catching up to do in the classics department.

tttjuly1

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath – I’ve heard that this is the female version of The Catcher in the Rye and I liked that one in high school.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott – This is one that I’m so so embarrassed at not having read yet. I lived off of the movie as a kid (I don’t have a sister so anything with sisters was, still is, my gold) but again, hated reading so that was out.

Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy – I’ve wanted to read this ever since I watched the 2008 BBC movie starring Gemma Arterton.

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Dracula by Bram Stoker – The orig vampire? Yes, please.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley – No excuse for this one. I want to read it at Halloween sometime!

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen – Anything by Jane Austen, really. I KNOW I AM HORRIBLE, I HAVE NOT READ A JANE AUSTEN NOVEL. I’ve started them alll and Mansfield Park was my fave so I want to continue it.

tttjuly102

Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf – I don’t even know what made me obsessed with reading Mrs. Dalloway. I have a friend who has read every classic known to man and I must have found this book on her shelf once and it sounded like a very ‘me’ book.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte – That same friend is OBSESSED with Jane Eyre. I’ve read Wuthering Heights (don’t know why i chose that first over JANE) and enjoyed it and I started JANE in the winter. This is my next classic to tackle.

Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger – Another started-yet-not-finished classic. I picked it up in high school after reading Catcher in the Rye and had to bring it back to the library before I’d finished and I never picked it back up. ONE DAY.

tttjuly103

Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut – I need more Kurt Vonnegut in me life.

Are there any classics that YOU’RE embarrassed to admit not having read yet?

Book Review: Make It Count by Megan Erickson

make it countBook Review: Make It Count by Megan Erickson
Release Date: 6/3/14
Publisher: William Morrow Impulse
Source: Purchased
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Kat Caruso wishes her brain had a return policy, or at least a complaint hot-line. The defective organ is constantly distracted, terrible at statistics, and absolutely flooded with inappropriate thoughts about her boyfriend’s gorgeous best friend, Alec…who just so happens to be her brand new math tutor. Who knew nerd was so hot?

Kat usually goes through tutors like she does boyfriends—both always seem to bail when they realize how hopeless she is. It’s safer for her heart to keep everyone at arm’s reach. But Alec is always stepping just a little too close.

Alec Stone should not be fantasizing about Kat. She’s adorable, unbelievably witty, and completely off limits. He’d never stab his best friend in the back…

But when secrets are revealed, the lines of loyalty are blurred. To make it count, Alec must learn messy human emotions can’t be solved like a trigonometry function. And Kat has to trust Alec may be the first guy to want her for who she is, and not in spite of it.

Review:

First off: For a book with its fair share of steaminess, Make It Count by Megan Erickson was kind of adorable.

Second: Um, can you say ‘price is right?’ Snatching this one up for a mere $1.99 was a no brainer.

There were a lot of things that led to Make It Count achieving the “cute” label from me. First off, I loved the main character Kat and the way her mind worked. It could be a bit zany when she went off into “Kat-land,” but holy wow, was it endearing. I think I giggled out loud at one point. I liked her blase and down to earth attitude about her relationship with her boyfriend.

I adored her sparks with Alec (and their bow-chicka-bow-wow times). Their relationship leapt off the page for me. And Alec himself was– dare I say it?– adorable as well. When it came to him, I liked his sense of wanting to do the right thing by the girl he liked and his best friend, but growing frustrated with said best friend.

Further, I enjoyed how Make It Count also focused not only on Kat and Alec’s relationship with each other, but their personal issues with family and school. It made me appreciate them more as a couple when I understood where they each came from separately.

That being said, while I loved Make It Count by Megan Erickson, I did think that some of the conflicts were a bit contrived. Kat’s boyfriend (well, ex-boyfriend when it really matters) seems to flip-flop on his attitude toward Kat and Alec, and one of the will-they-won’t-they moments near closer to the resolution felt a bit unrealistic.

But I can forgive that because the way that Kat and Alec found their way back to each other was perfect. I have never swooned so hard for text messages.

THE CUTENESS. You can ~count on the fact that I’ll be reading the next book in  Megan Erickson’s Bowler University series!