Review: Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

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Genre: Romance, General Fiction
Pages: 369
Series: Me Before You #1 (can be read as a Standalone)
Release Date: December 31, 2012

5 Stars

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Before I started reading this novel, I’d heard from many people, that it left them an emotional wreck; that they still, after weeks or months, haven’t gotten over it. That didn’t happen with me. But it’s not a bad thing.

One of the protagonists of the novel, Will, is a quadriplegic, meaning he’s paralyzed from the chest down and only has movement in his face and neck, and very little in his hands. Before the accident that caused him to be confined to a wheelchair, he was someone who loved life and often participated in extreme sports. And to go from that to the way he is in the novel… it’s very difficult, to say the least. He doesn’t want this life. And I understood that.

I understood not wanted to be dependant on other people for everything, not wanting to constantly be in pain, not wanting to be hospitalized every few months for one or the other ailment, not wanting to live a life without purpose. I wouldn’t want that life either. And I know some people might object to me saying that, but it’s not really up to them, is it?

And that’s what a lot of the novel is about: life, choices and acceptance. For me, understanding and accepting Will’s predicament was something that made the book just… click, with me. I’m not sure I would have liked it nearly as much if the author hadn’t done such a wonderful job of trying to explain and flesh out the characters.

Let’s take Louisa, for example. She’s the other protagonist and most of the book is from her perspective. She’s a play-it-safe kind of girl. Initially, I found her to be too meek and boring. She didn’t seem to have any aspirations or plans. And, being an INTJ, if there’s one thing you must know about us, we make a lot of plans. So it was difficult for me to connect with her. But again, the author fleshed her out really well and she grew on me, albeit slowly. Her and Will’s interactions were definitely the highlight of the novel.

Me Before You is all about the characters. And they’re all so normal. Honestly, most of them are the kind of people you’d easily meet in your neighbourhood. It was very refreshing to read.

I truly loved the story, the theme, the people and the tone of the novel. There were parts that had me impatient, and this isn’t an example of beautiful prose. But it’s a beautiful story and I really think you should give it a read. It’s thought-provoking and sweet. It’s kind of wonderful, really.

Review: Confess by Colleen Hoover

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Genre: New-Adult, Romance
Pages: 320
Series: None
Release Date: March 10, 2015

4 Stars

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The first time I read this book, it was almost a year ago. And after reading it now and reading my previous review, I find that I disagree with my past self. My past self didn’t like Auburn and saw both her and Owen as weak. She didn’t see their strength but I, my present self, do. I liked the novel better than I did then, something that almost never happens. It makes me feel like I’ve matured in the past year.

Confess is about two people, Auburn and Owen. They both have problems in their lives and they’re both trying to fix things. When Auburn comes across a ‘Help Wanted’ sign posted outside Owen’s art gallery, they both form a connection. But Owen has secrets that may come between Auburn and the life that she’s so desperately trying to have for herself. To be together, they first have to get their lives in order, and they try to help each other do that.

I can’t really tell you about the they help each other with because, in typical Colleen Hoover fashion, they’re a secret. Colleen Hoover loves secrets. I’m pretty sure every book of hers has at least one big one. But that’s beside the point.

The point is, Colleen Hoover is a dramatic writer. With her, it’s all about deliberate glances, little touches, deep breaths, one word said for a hundred words thought. It gives the story intensity. I don’t particularly love or hate it (just stating facts) but it definitely distinguishes her and helps with the romance. Though it can get a bit too dramatic at times. I guess I just want something more out of a love story than “she has a calming presence”. I want to see people get along, communicate using words before they can communicate with stares.

Despite that though, I liked the romance. I liked both the characters as well, unlike the last time. Though Auburn still wasn’t my favourite.

The thing about Auburn, she’s very resilient and has endured a hell of a lot. She’s loving and protective. She just doesn’t do anything. It frustrated me to no end seeing her do nothing and just go with whatever was easy. I know she was in an impossible situation but I hated how she made excuses for why she didn’t act against those who were being dicks. And then seeing her sudden transformation from Helpless Hannah to Daisy Determined… I didn’t entirely buy it. Like, just a pinch.

Owen was great. He was a good and funny guy, he was selfless and not helpless. And I loved that he was past self-hatred. He knew that he was a good guy. There wasn’t a case of “I’m not good enough for her” or “What did I ever do to deserve her?”. He knew he deserved to be happy and that was a breath of fresh air. Though my favourite characters was still Emory, Auburn’s roommate. She’s awesome. You’ll see.

One last things before I conclude; at one point very soon after meeting him, Auburn lets Owen into her apartment. And she says this:

Texas is turning me into a whore.

It bothered me so much. It’s basically slut-shaming, and I don’t like it at all. There were only a couple of instances of it but still, female authors need to be more respectful toward females.

In the end, I noticed and appreciated many thing that I didn’t before (though I did notice the slut-shaming both times) and I liked the novel. If you’re a fan of Colleen Hoover, then you’re probably like this book as well, but even if you’re unfamiliar with her or iffy about her, I still think you should give it a shot. It’s a good read.

Review: Bait & Switch by Kendall Ryan

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Genre: New-Adult, Romance
Pages: 272
Series: Alphas Undone #1 (Can be read as a standalone)
Release Date: February 9, 2016

1.50 Stars

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My God, this book suuucked! I really hope the author never sees this review because it would not make her happy.

The book follows Nolan, an ex-Navy SEAL who, due to his experiences, doesn’t do love or committed relationships. He shares a BDSM relationship with his roommate and they’re both okay with the no-strings arrangement. Until Nolan meets a new girl (who has secrets of her own, and ulterior motives Nolan is unaware of). Lacey is more shy and timid and makes Nolan wonder if he may now want a relationship. But he’s loyal to his roommate who needs him. And that’s the “problem”.

And when I say “problem”, I really mean the quotation marks. Because seriously, Nolan’s big conundrum is that he wants to be with Lacey but because he has to help out his roommate by sleeping with her, and he’s having difficulty making a decision. Yes, his life is so difficult because he has to have kinky sex with his roommate and doesn’t want to hurt her by ending things. My heart bleeds for Nolan’s poor soul.

As for the ‘ulterior motive’ plot, it was so ridiculously obvious (and so bad) that when it was finally “revealed”, I found myself closing my eyes, heaving out a big breath, and questioning my life choices. Like why the hell I put myself through books like this.

Though in my defence, I’ve read a couple other books by Kendall Ryan that were actually good, so I couldn’t have known this one would be an epic disaster.

And if you’re wondering why I even bothered to give it half a star, it’s because there was this one part near the very end about being with someone because you want them and not because you need them. I rarely find that in books, much less in NA romances and was glad to see it. Other than that, there’s nothing this book’s got going for it.

The prose is readable. The pace I don’t give two shits about because the story is to poorly planned and executed. The author didn’t utilize the potential that the plot had, at all. This could have been a good read if there was better attention paid to developing the characters (especially the roommate) and if the ‘ulterior motive’ weren’t so freaking stupid. Like really, it made Lacey look like a complete idiot. Not that she was doing very well before.

You see, when I said the prose was readable, I didn’t mention that Lacey’s perspective sucked. Every time she was thought about Nolan, it felt like she was his shrink. She was constantly trying to figure him out, judge whether he was a good enough person, fix, him, and basically doing a full psych-analysis. And she was a damsel.

So on top of everything else being bad, we also have an idiotic damsel with an inflated sense of self-worth, as a protagonist. I just… I can’t even… There’s no reason for me to recommend that you read this book and I don’t recommend it. At all. I know a lot of people love it but I am very much not one of those people, nor do I get what they saw that I seem to have completely missed. Safe to say, I will be more cautious with Kendall Ryan’s books from now on.

Review: Midnight Captive by Elle Kennedy

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Genre: Romantic Suspense, Adult
Pages: 368
Series: Killer Instincts #6 (Can be read as a standalone but the others are so much better)
Release Date: June 2, 2015

3.5 Stars

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I just can’t do the synopsis things right now. Here’s the GR one:

Former CIA agent Bailey Jones has no room in her life for a reckless, rule-breaking Irishman, and she’s vowed to steer clear of the tempting bad boy who lured her into his bed under false pretenses.
When Sean is implicated in the robbery of a Dublin bank, Bailey knows something isn’t right. So what if she can’t trust him? There’s no way Sean would end up on the wrong side of the law. In fact, he’s stuck in the middle of a dark and dirty conspiracy that could put his twin brother’s life at risk with one wrong move. And Bailey’s life too when she agrees to help.

Onto the review:

This was a quick read for me. Mainly because I just wanted to get it over with since I hadn’t wanted to read it in the first place. And I have a reason for that too.

After the last book, Midnight Action (which I loved), I was very curious regarding a sub-plot, that I was hoping would be in this book, about two sub-characters. The sub-plot was there and I really wanted to know what would happen so I kinda skimmed the book.

I got what I wanted, more frustration in my wait for the book with those sub-characters as protagonists, but I also found out that I hated one of the protagonists of this book. She had one quality that I absolutely loathe. She was a liar. And she didn’t just lie to other people. No, she also lied to herself so that she didn’t feel bad about her shitty behaviour toward the other protagonist. She was a cowardly bitch of a person who kept finding excuses to treat the guy like shit because she couldn’t figure out her own shit.

Safe to say, she annoyed the fuck out of me.

I mean, I understood the reasons she had behind her actions, but that didn’t excuse her behaviour toward him and it certainly didn’t excuse the lies. I hated her.

The other protagonist, Sean, was good. He wasn’t my favourite characters but he was a good guy and a good characters. I liked him fine. I just wish he’d told Bailey to get over herself and take the assumptions she had about the kind of person he was, and fuck off.

But anger at Bailey aside, this book had a good plot, really good sub-plots about two other characters (as I’ve already mentioned). It was a well-written and well-paced novel full of actions and characters that I cared about (except Bailey, of course. Her, I would shoot myself) and was overall not a bad read. I would have liked it better without she-who-caused-me-to-rant.

I recommend reading the other book in the series. They’re better. Then, if you like them, you can try this one.

Review: Midnight Lily by Mia Sheridan

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Genre: New-Adult, Romance
Pages: 242
Series: No
Release Date: March 1, 2016

4 Stars

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On finishing this book, I was so confused. Enough that I kept putting off writing the review. Now, about ten days later, I’ve most likely forgotten half the review-relevant details so I’m going to have to work with what I remember and what I can recall.

The book follows a man named Holden Scott. He is a professional football player who, due to a recent tragedy, had gone off on quite a bender. To help him get himself back together, a friend offers him a remote lodge to relax for a month. There, he meets a beautiful girl. But she only meets him at night and he can never seem to find her himself. He falls in love without knowing if she’s even real.

Which, I have to admit, is mystical and curious and very intriguing. Mia Sheridan writes many unusual stories and she usually manages to pull them off. Like she did this time, but not entirely.

The story was really good, the characters were complex and I loved reading about them. The writing was good, and there was a twist that was freaking awesome. This was a short book and well paced. The part where the book suffered, for me, was how quickly the two protagonists fell in love.

Now, I’m not one to put a time requirement on love. Being someone who believes in true love about as much as faeries, I’m willing to accept two people falling in love in a weekend if the author does it right. And here it wasn’t done right. It seemed as if they had a few conversations and then professed their eternal and undying love for each other. Why couldn’t they have just really liked each other or felt a deep connection. Did it have to be love? Does it always have to be love?

And if you say that it does, then make me believe it. Because I didn’t believe it here.

Other than that, I had some minor issues where things got confusing, but most cleared up and others are for deliberation. Besides, I can’t write those things because they’re spoiler territory. Also, I think there were times when the dialogue became of the people-do-not-talk-like-that-in-read-life variety, but I can’t be sure (curse me, and my procrastination!).

Overall, I liked this book. It was very different from most romances and the ending was refreshing. It was imperfect and surprisingly realistic, which made it hopeful because that’s something that you might actually get. It had a lesson to it, delivered in a strange way. So if you’re up for something a bit weird but a lot interesting, I recommend you give this book a shot.

Review: Madly by Ruthie Knox

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Genre: Adult, Romance
Pages: 273
Series: New York #2, Sequel to About Last Night (Can be read as a standalone)
Release Date: March 14, 2017

4 Stars

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I’ve been waiting for this book to come out for a long time. And not necessarily because of the first book. I liked Truly, but this wait was more due to the author, who I love.

Ruthie Knox has the most brilliant style of prose that I absolutely adore. It’s very clever, involves a lot of reading-between-the-lines, and is such that even the simplest lines carry so much meaning

For example, a line as simple as “Ben wasn’t cooking”, which doesn’t seem like it would mean much at all, in the context, it does. It signifies something that you would know if you’d read the book. And the novel is packed with simple yet meaningful lines. Each sentence is so deliberate, and constructed to insinuate instead of straight up telling us. And it’s so witty, too. I missed the writing style.

As for the book, I really liked it. The main characters is Allie, who follows her mother to New York and sees her flirting with another man in a bar. There she meets Winston (the utter jackass from About Last Night) and involves him in her harebrained scheme to “fix” her family… somehow. She doesn’t actually have much of a plan.

Allie, you see, has a life motto and it’s ‘don’t think’. Personally, the worst motto I’ve ever heard of. And it doesn’t really work. She always manages to mess things up. She does great with her business, but when it comes to her personal life, she’s a runner. She jumps into situations and avoids thinking, and when everything goes to hell, she tries to pretend thing are fine and jumps into other situations hoping everything will just work out anyway. She’s basically a train wreck when it comes to her personal life and she’s also exactly the kind of characters I usually hate.

But I don’t hate her. Partly because she has her heart in the right place and always has good intentions (just little guidance would go so far with her) and partly because Ruthie Knox is just really fricking good at writing messy characters who are somehow not as annoying as they should be.

As for her romantic interest; Winston is very different from who he was in the previous book, in a good way. He’s regretful of his actions, he’s nice, caring, sensible, and exactly right for Allie. Because Allie really needs someone mature in her life who can calm her down in her moments of messy-ness and provide some guidance. She needs someone to balance her crazy side and Winston is it. They work really well together.

My highlight of the book, though, was Ben. I was very suprised by that. But there was this one chapter that I go into detail about, and Ben was in it and he was perfect. Love him and his frowney, intimidating self.

Overall, I really enjoyed the read. The story was great, the prose I loved, and the characters were a lot of fun. I’m looking forward to the last book, Completely.

 

Review: Midnight Action by Elle Kennedy

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Genre: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 368
Series: Killer Instincts #5 (Can be read as standalone, but please don’t do that)
Release Date: November 4, 2014

5 Stars

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It took me a while to get to this book. I read the first four almost one after the other, but with this one, I was wary. You see, the two main characters in the book, both introduced in book 1 and prominent in the series, had expectations to live up to, and they had a history. The latter is more of a personal issue because history often entails backstory/flashbacks, and I’ve mentioned before how I hate those fucking things.

But in this case, they worked. Mainly because Elle Kennedy is awesome. She knows just how much she needs to give the reader and just when. She balances the past and present, the scenes that we need to see, the info we need, all of it, so well. You can tell she knows what she’s doing and it’s brilliant.

Now for the plot of the book: As I said, the protagonists, Jim and Noelle, have a history. And while I can’t tell you what that is, I can say that it’s not particularly good. The both of then hate each other. There are, on every meeting, semi-serious death threats going around, maybe more serious than semi, so it’s quite a surprise when, on being contracted to eliminate Jim, Noelle instead decides to help him find whoever wants him dead. Oh and, did I forgot to mention? Jim is mercenary/super soldier, and Noelle is an assassin.

Now add all of that to the severe amounts of sexual tension between the two, and you have an awesome book. One which I think I’ve already sold. I mean. what else do you need me to say?

The book is very well written, both the characters kick ass, are interesting and likable. I love the story of the novel, the romance, and the revelations. The pace is fantastic and this is, overall, a really good read that you won’t be able to put down. Seriously, I read it in two sittings (food is important, too) and I highly recommend reading this book and others by Elle Kennedy. She’s a great author and this is one of her best book (second best, for me, to be accurate).