Review: Whisper of Sin by Nalini Singh

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Genre: Adult, Paranormal, Romance, Fantasy, Novella
Pages: 88
Series: Psy-Changeling #0.6 
Release Date: September 13, 2012

4 Stars

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Whisper of Sin is a novella-slash-prequel to the Psy-Changeling series. You can read it without having read any of the other books of the series and it gives no spoilers, but I saw a couple of reviews from people who read it that way and didn’t enjoy it as much as those who were familiar with the series. But it’s not that it doesn’t make sense; the book is still entirely cohesive, just not as enjoyable, I guess; which makes sense since it was written as a companion novella for the fans.

Anyway what I’m trying to say is that if you want to read this novella, I think you should read at least the first book of the series, Slave to Sensation, beforehand.

That said, the story follows a human girl who is being targeted by a dangerous gang, and the DarkRiver pack of leopard changelings (i.e. wereleopards) who have claimed the area as their territory, are determined to take the gang out so that they don’t gain power. That includes making sure the girl, Ria, remains unharmed. Emmett is the changeling who’s taken it upon himself to ensure her safety. And if he also plans to seduce and court her in the process, well that’s just an added bonus.

I enjoyed the novella. I’ve read the first four books in the series so I’m not the best source for info on whether new readers would enjoy it. I’m not sure why they wouldn’t, but it may have something to do with the fact that a large part of my enjoyment was because of the familiar faces and the easter eggs. The story, on its own, is good. It’s part romance and part pack and family dynamic, but I guess it may not be enough. For me, everything was great.

The writing and pace are both great, there’s no excessive drama and the characters are likable. The author also does a fairly good job of introducing the world.

One thing I almost didn’t catch, but which was a really nice addition, was about Dorian, a changeling. In the series, he loses his sister to a serial killer before even the start of book 1 (don’t worry, that’s not a spoiler) and he’s angry, upset and feels guilty. Here, that’s yet to happen and we get to see him being happy and flirty. It was really nice to see, but also kind of sad because we might never see him like that again. I’m still glad that the author decided to include that.

Overall, this is a really good novella that’s definitely worth reading.

Review: Off Sides by Sawyer Bennett

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Genre: New Adult, Romance
Pages: 167
Series: Off #1
Release Date: February 21, 2013
Publisher: Big Dog Publishing

2 Stars

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I love words. It’s one of the reasons I love to read. Yes, the stories, the worlds, the characters especially, mean a lot, but without at least a semi-decent prose, all that ain’t gonna mean nothing. So you can imagine my disappointment when a book has all the wrong words. When you can see that the author has a good-ish idea (though not an original one) and has good thoughts, but phrases it all wrong. And here, the writing is unpracticed and the good-ish idea isn’t that good.

The story is about two people from “opposite worlds”. The guy is rich with snobby, usually absent, parents and bratty friends, while the girl is poor with no parents, two jobs, and medical bills to pay off.

Yup, it’s a cliché. But clichés can work if they’re done right. Here, the rich and poor representation is so stereotypical that it’s clearly evident that the author has no real knowledge of either of the perspectives she’s trying to pull off. There’s an added sports thing (guy is a hockey player) that’s nothing more than a Google search to help the stereotype along. It barely has any relevance to the story.

The romance is also bad. I’m not one to put a time stamp on love; I have no issue with two people falling in love in a weekend as long as the author can sell it. If it’s written convincingly, I totally ship it. The relationship in this book isn’t convincing at all. It’s generic rich-boy-meets-poor-girl, where the guy is absolutely fascinated by the girl’s strength, starts to see the world in a different way, blah blah blah… It’s all very eye-roll inducing but I’d like to stress, once again, that if done right, this plot would be fine. Great, even. But… it wasn’t. Hell, even the sex wasn’t hot.

The characters were generic as well. Along with our stereotypical protagonists, we also got the bitchy ex who would do anything to get the guy back, a neglectful father who wasn’t even in the book, and an evil mother who was obsessed with status and had about as much character and motive as the bitchy ex did. Which is to say, none at all.

Then the final third/quarter of the book happened and  it was such a gigantic cringe-fest that the ending came as a relief.

Safe to say, I did not like this novel at all and I don’t recommend it. The writing, while bad, was comprehensible. The book made me smile a couple of time and the beginning gave the illusion that it may be a good read, but that’s all I can muster for positives. I’m not giving up on the author because for some reason I feel like she has potential. But this book was definitely a bust. Fingers crossed for the future reads.

Review: Kings Rising by C.S. Pacat

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Genre: Fantasy, Romance, LGBT
Pages: 352
Series: Captive Prince #3 (Trilogy)
Release Date: February 2, 2016
Publisher: Berkley

Star

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Prince’s Gambit ended at a bit of a cliffy, didn’t it? The Akielons showed up and Damen’s identity was suddenly revealed. Laurent wasn’t present at the time so he didn’t find out but now that his army knows, it’s only a matter of time. Damen has to tell him, and it might ruin all the progress they’ve made.

…Or maybe Laurent already knows. I, for one, was pretty convinced (ever since Captive Prince) that Laurent knew. He’s so clever, how could he not? But sometimes it seemed as if he didn’t. Did he or didn’t he? I’m not telling you. Their relationship is tense either way. Laurent is the Prince of Vere and Damen is the King of Akielos. They both have armies to lead and kingdoms to think about. Thankfully, they also have a common enemy.

The Regent and Kastor are working together and while Kastor is practically a dimwit in comparison, the Regent can create a hoard of problems all on his own. Have I told you that I hate the Regent? Because I really do.

Anyway, Veretians and Akielons form an uneasy alliance and have to learn to see each as people instead of just enemies to kill. This also gives Damen and Laurent a chance to work things out. Whether or not they’re able to do it, that you’ll have to read the book to find out. Just know that they have a lot on their plates, things are difficult, and the author does a brilliant job.

I said in my review for Prince’s Gambit that Damen and Laurent are one of my favourite ships. That still stands, even more so now, to be honest.

This book is well-written, the pace is brilliant, and the plot grips you tight and refuses to let go till the end. Hell, even when it ended, I wanted to keep reading. I wound up rereading a bunch of scenes. Any scene between Damen and Laurent was awesome by default. Then the ones in which they weren’t together were also awesome. On top of that, we get two scenes from Laurent’s perspective! Loved that, though a few more wouldn’t have hurt either.

The ending of the series was perfect. This book is amazing and you should totally read it. In fact, I’m not even sure how you’re even reading this review right now if you haven’t read the book. I could barely wait fifteen minutes. You clearly have a lot more patience than I do. If you’ve read it already, then tell me what you thought.

Review: Prince’s Gambit by C.S. Pacat

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Genre: Fantasy, Romance, LGBT
Pages: 404
Series: Captive Prince #2 (Trilogy)
Release Date: July 7, 2015
Publisher: Penguin Group

Star

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I, once again, made the mistake of reading the sequel before reviewing the book, even though I know better. But after that cliffhanger at the end of this book, what was I supposed to do? How could I be expected to wait until I’d given myself a couple of hours to process and then and another hour to write and post the review? So thanks to my extreme levels of patience, I am now done with the next book as well as a short story that’s set after it.

In the fifteen minutes that I did manage to before starting the next book, I decided on 4 or 4.5 stars (for unknown reasons since I don’t recall any problems I had) and I’m sticking with it.

In Captive Prince, Damen and Laurent met, had some truly horrible experiences (well, mostly Damen had horrible experiences; Laurent was usually the one responsible for them). They hated each other but, somewhere along the way, they started to get along; and by that I mean that they were united by the common goal of trying to defeat the Regent, the man of numerous evil plots who is trying to kill Laurent and has very ill intentions towards Damen’s kingdom. Both Damen and Laurent need to get rid of him and they’re heading off on a journey which is most certainly a trap and is likely to get them killed.

With Captive Prince, it was more about introducing the world and helping our protagonists find a common goal. In this book, it’s about them getting to know one another and getting along for real while they’re on their way to the trap.

We all know that there’s a romance but after the events of book 1, it seems difficult. Damen and Laurent need to respect and care for one another. We need to see them work together, see why they fit, and see that they can have a healthy relationship. And honestly, I can’t say enough about how well their relationship is developed in this book. Both Damen and Laurent have their individual strengths, and together, they make a formidable team. Laurent may not be able to get the best of his uncle (the Regent) on his own (that guy is a despicable, evil mastermind and I fucking hate him) but we see that they may be able to do it together. Damen and Laurent (what’s their ship name?) are now one of my favourite ships.

But even if you ignore the romance, they’re great characters. Especially Laurent. The only reason Laurent has survived so far is because he’s just as clever as the Regent and very adept at the games he plays. I love the political games and power plays in this series. So awesome.

I will admit though, Laurent has a dark side (and I mean very dark). The guy can make a grown man cry using just his words. It’s fantastic, yet kinda scary. I can only hope to be as brilliant as he is at destroying people.

Overall, I loved this novel. I’d say that I can’t wait to read the sequel, but I’ve already read it. For those of you who are a bit sceptical about picking this book up after Captive Prince turned out to be more than a little scandalous, this one is toned down. We already know of the horrors of the world and now we’re diving down deep. It’s very interesting and I urge you to give it a shot. I can’t guarantee you’ll love it but I did, so maybe you will as well.

Review: Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

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Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal
Pages: 390
Series: The Wolves of Mercy Falls #1
Release Date: August 1, 2009
Publisher: Scholastic

2 Stars

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Almost everyone I told about my intention to read this novel told me that it wasn’t good and that I wouldn’t like it. Which, of course, just made me want to read it more because a) I wanted to find out what was so bad, and b) I was hoping that I’d like it anyway.

Alas, all my hopes were crushed when I found myself not liking the book at all. In fact, by the time I got halfway, I was tired and just wanted to stop reading. But I also wanted to write a proper review so I dragged myself forward (you’re welcome) and I almost made it, except I didn’t. Got eighty percent through and then stopped because I couldn’t take it anymore. There was no plot!

Shiver is set in Mercy Falls (*cough* Vampire Diaries *cough*) and is told from the perspectives of two teenagers. One is Grace, a girl who’s obsessed with the wolves that live in the woods behind her house, especially one in particular. The other is Sam, who is said wolf, for a majority of the year anyway. He becomes a boy in the summer because that’s the only time it’s warm enough. Grace and Sam meet and have a nauseating romance. But there’s an obstacle between them and a happily ever after; with every year Sam becomes human for less and less time. Sooner rather than later, he will become a wolf permanently, unless he and Grace can find a way to help him.

Now, you might be thinking that I just wrote a perfectly okay plot even though I’d said there wasn’t one, and I’ll have you know that I meant the state of having a plot relatively. You can only spend so much time thinking (but not doing anything) about Sam’s eventual transformation into a wolf.

Still, every once in a while, you’d think that we were getting a proper story. There was a subplot with a student that got bit, the said student’s sister, and one with a senior member of Sam’s pack, Beck. But none of these things actively affected the protagonists. There was one subplot with a female wolf that did concern them, but it was shoved under the rug because Maggie Stiefvater has yet to master the art of creating tension. We’d be so close to getting something exciting, only to return to our regularly scheduled neglectful parents and gush-fest.

Speaking of the gush-fest. Usually, I’m totally in for a romance with adorable scenes. I love romances. But this was a very prime example of insta-love, if I ever saw one. Grace and Sam shared a mutual obsession with each other (human and wolf); they met, instant connection, and the next think you know, they’re making out and having sleepovers. Twilight had a slower burning romance, for God’s sake.

So thanks to the non-existent development of the relationship, I didn’t give two shits about it. On top of that, they were vomit-inducing even by romance novel standards. The writing was okay but the book was very boring due to the ‘no plot’ situation.

Before I wrap up, telling you not to read this novel, I have one last thing to say. For the longest time, I kept wondering why the wolves didn’t just move to a warmer place. Then I read in a review that there’s a reason for it, which helped me read on. So if you decide to read the book and find yourself annoyed by their inability to see an obvious solution, you will get a reason. Doesn’t mean you should read the book though. That said, I didn’t listen to anyone so I can hardly expect someone else to. For that, good luck!

Us by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy

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Technically, it’s two shirtless dudes, but you get the point.

Genre: Romance, LGBT, New Adult
Pages: 328
Series: Him #2
Release Date: March 8, 2016
Publisher: Rennie Road Books

Star

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I am in a crappy mood today so I apologise in advance for any lack of enthusiasm, though I’m hoping there won’t be any.

Us is the sequel to Him, one that I was very sceptical about because I am not a fan of a perfectly good standalone being dragged into a second book. But when I read all positive review, even from fans who were just as sceptical as me, I knew I had to give it a shot. Also, I just missed Wes and Jamie too much.

The book is set a few months after the end of Him. Jamie and Wes are in relationship land but there are some problems. For one, Jamie is less and less happy about having to keep their relationship a secret and for not getting to spend much time with his boyfriend. He has insecurities. And when one of Wes’s teammates, Blake, moves into their building and takes it upon himself to come knocking at inopportune moments, things kind of explode.

The problem, initially, is lack of communication, but don’t worry, it’s not infuriating and stretched out like it usually is. They’re both aware that there are problems, they just don’t know what to do about them. There’s a lot of stress on their quite-new relationship. Jamie doesn’t liking hiding his sexuality but Wes doesn’t want to come out just yet because he knows that the moment he does, he’ll go from being a great, new hockey player to a gay hockey player. He doesn’t want his sexuality to be more important than his talent and he also doesn’t know how his teammates might react. It’s a difficult situation and about halfway through, something happens that makes things worse.

All that makes the book a little sad. We don’t get many fun moments between Wes and Jamie (bummer) but the sadness is tempered by Blake’s presence. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t like Blake at all in the beginning. He knew little about the concept of privacy and if it were me instead of Wes and Jamie, I would’ve told him to get the fuck out of my apartment. But, you know, politely.

Except he was such a great guy and so funny that it was impossible to hate him. Really big and goofy heart, that one. I loved him almost as much as the sweet moments between Jamie and Wes. Okay no, nothing can ever be as awesome the sweet moments between those two, but Blake came a little close.

I also, once again, really liked the focus on an aspect of an LGBT relationship that’s not been explored as much. This time it was about how sometimes people act as is being gay makes you a different person, or as if a homosexual relationship is so different from a heterosexual one. There was talk about how, on finding out you’re gay, people seem to focus on that as opposed to what you do or the kind of person you are. That was a struggle with Wes and I liked seeing it.

Overall, this was a sadder sequel than I was expecting but a really good one none-the-less. If you’re sceptical about giving the book a shot, I urge you to try. I still can’t say for sure if the sequel was strictly necessary (the first book had a great ending) but it’s not disappointing. Besides, how could you pass up of more Wes and Jamie? I certainly couldn’t.

Review: Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley

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Genre: Young-Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 273
Series: None
Release Date: June 6, 2017
Publisher: Knopf Books

2 Stars

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Majorly unpopular opinion ahead!

From what I’ve heard, it seems that everyone and their mother is in love with this book. It’s so bad (or good; for the book) that while reading, I was constantly wondering if I was somehow reading the wrong book, or maybe just not reading it the right way. I even took a little break to watch some vlogbrothers videos (recent obsession) hoping that they would put me in a good mood and I’d start liking the novel.

The good mood thing worked. But did I start to like the book? Check the rating I’ve given.

I just couldn’t, for the life of me, get over how stupid it was. The protagonist, Rachel, was leaving town with her family. Before she left, she confessed her feelings to her best friend in a letter that she left in his favourite book. For the next few months, Henry wrote her tons of emails and letters, all of which she basically ignored because he didn’t mention Rachel’s letter and what she wrote. She didn’t ask him about the letter herself, just ignored him. And in three years, never once did it occur to her that maybe he didn’t get the fucking letter!

And now that she’s come back (three years later), she’s still mad at him while also trying to cope with the death her brother which occurred ten months ago. Henry just got dumped by his bitch of a girlfriend so he’s very busy pining after her. In all that, the only interesting subplot is that Henry’s family owns a used book store which, due to lack of profits, they might have to sell. Both Henry and Rachel work at the store.

There’s another subplot with Henry’s sister and an anonymous guy she exchanges letters with via the Letter Library in the book store. They’re supposedly falling in love via the letters and there’s this other guy who likes her but she treats him horribly because of the letter dude. With all these storylines, the grieving, the misunderstanding, the romance, the other romance, the two love-triangles, and the store, it’s no wonder that the author didn’t manage to give any of them the attention they needed. It’s a huge mess that I couldn’t wait to be done with.

Also, Henry is a complete and utter moron. From the start of his relationship with Amy (the ex), she only ever came to him when she didn’t have some “better” guy to go to. Then she dumped him and immediately hooked up with someone else. She also humiliated him and never once showed that she cared about him.

It was like (and I can’t not make this comparison) Pip and Estella. Except that Pip had a deeper reason for wanting Estella whereas Henry was just a moron who would not get it. I wanted to hit him on the head. With a brick.

But moving on from the stupid plot and the stupider characters, I didn’t like the writing. There were a few quotable lines which made me think that it was good but the prose had little emotion and next to no imagery. I couldn’t picture anything playing out in my head, nor did I feel a connection to anyone so the entire plot with Rachel’s brother was wasted on me because I couldn’t bring myself to care about either of them; and that’s if it had been done well, which I didn’t think it was.

Overall, hugely disappointed with this novel. It wasn’t even one I was planning to read, not until I saw the rave reviews. If there was one thing I liked, it was the letters that were sprinkled throughout the novel. And like I said, a few quotable lines were there. But other than that, I’m just glad it’s over. Do not recommend.
P.S. It was also very, very predictable.