Review: Royally Matched by Emma Chase

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I might have allowed the cover had I liked the book (it’s not a terrible cover) but since I didn’t, you get the usual.

Genre: New-Adult, Romance
Pages: 276
Series: Royally #2 (Can be read as Standalone)
Release Date: February 21, 2017
Publisher: Everafter Romance

2 Stars

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BEWARE OF VERY LONG REVIEW

Right after I finished reading, I was beyond pissed off. The review would honestly have just been a really angry, and long, rant. Thankfully, I rarely review books right after I finish reading them, and it was night so I went to sleep. Fortunately, in the morning, I was in a much better mood. Unfortunately, that better mood did not make the book better.

The story is a about Prince Henry, soon to be the king of the small kingdom of Wessco. Henry’s a wild child and, until recently, was second-in-line to the throne. Then his brother kind of… quit, and he was it. His grandmother, also the Queen, sent him away to get himself sorted and prepared, thinking some time alone would help him. Instead, Henry decided that it would be a good idea to hold a royal version of The Bachelor. During the show, he meets Sarah, a shy and sweet girl, and… you know what happens. It’s a romance novel.

Now that I’ve gotten that out-of-the-way. I’m going to take apart various aspects of the book, one by one. Don’t worry, some good parts will be sprinkled in as well.

Lets start with Henry. I thought he was a douche some of the time. He also whined and made horrible decisions. Thankfully, he didn’t claim to be any better and I was willing to overlook his douchiness because the whole point of the book was for him to change and become someone who could rule a kingdom. Where thing went wrong is that barely any part of the novel was actually concerned with his improvement. It was all about the love story, which wasn’t good.

We were told that Henry’s liked how pure (I’ll get to that one later) and innocent and good Sarah was, and Sarah liked that Henry was bold and took risks while she herself wouldn’t even read a book that seemed too strange because *gasp* what if she didn’t like it? I get the two reasons but we need more than that. Most of the conversations and relationship building happened off-page and it was mostly just him wanting to bone her. Then she wanted to bone him too. So they fucked and their was a stupid conflict (get to that one later as well) and they had to get their shit together again. On top of that, Sarah was boring and I hated her narrative.

Henry’s was great. He was funny and entertaining to read about and we got many great lines from him. But not Sarah, and not because of the boring but because she’s an avid reader and Emma Chase managed to completely screw up a reader’s perspective. Yes, reader read a lot and know a lot of characters. Yes, we after think about them. But we don’t try to channel or compare ourselves to a different character three times an hour! Our thought process is not “I am such a [insert character name] and need to be more like [insert different character name].”

And we got another case of snobby-reader. I just don’t understand why modern writers insist on making their character only read, or love, classics. I mean, is it so important to you that your characters only likes the “good” books like every other snob out there and treat all other novels as guilty pleasures? And then you proceed to reference Fifty Shades twice… It’s like you want me to not like your book.

Sarah aside, lets talk about the “later” topics. The “pure” thing. There’s a line:

For reasons I can’t put my finger on, the fact that this pure, unadulterated lass believes it—that she believes in me—makes me think that the day could come when I believe it too.

Honestly, I thought we’d moved past the ‘virgins are better’ thing. And then to find something like this in a book by an author that I really like… When are people going to stop with the slut-shaming? While there’s nothing wrong with being a virgin, could you please stop putting so much stock in an intact hymen. Being a virgin doesn’t make you pure or innocent any more than having sex makes you clever or savvy, or a slut. Your ability to blush isn’t linked to you hymen, get that through you head people.

And before I spend more time on that (this review is getting quite long as it is) let’s get to the stupid conflict (very quickly). Basically, it was stupid. The author needed a conflict near the end of the book and she chose the worst possible type, misunderstanding and miscommunication. I shouldn’t have been surprise because Emma Chase is also the person who wrote Twisted (award for ‘worst plot ever’ goes too…) but I still was.

Lastly, the missed opportunity. I’ve read Royally Screwed so I know that Henry’s brother, Nicholas, is a good character and any focus on the relationship between the two brothers would be a strong point of the novel. This knowledge was proved by the fact that one conversations between Nicholas and the Queen (Henry was eavesdropping) had more depth than rest of the book combined. So the fact that Nicholas didn’t show up after that one scene, until the epilogue, was very bad choice. This relationship could have saved the book like the Queen’s presence could have. But neither of them were there for long and what could have been a great journey for Henry as a character became just a bad romance.

Overall, I’ve trashed the book a whole lot  there was just too much wrong there  so now I’ll say a few positive things. I really did like Henry’s perspective, the book is well-written (objectively), there were many funny and some cute scenes and the moments with Nicholas and the Queen shone. That doesn’t mean I think you should read the book, but I had to mention this stuff.

While writing this though, I remembered another negative and since I’ve already gone on so long… one more paragraph couldn’t hurt.

There was a scene in which Sarah said some harsh things to Henry, things he didn’t deserve. He obviously was unhappy with that. But instead of going from there, the author wrote Henry doing something stupid right after so that the blame could be shifted to him and he’d have to make some grand apology. And it’s just that this kind of thing has happened one too many times in a novel. Female MC screws up, then male MC screws up right after so she doesn’t have to apologise. Stop doing that! Each person needs to be responsible for his, or her, actions! Just because the book is for a female audience doesn’t mean women can’t screw up and then not have to make up for it. Just… stop. Just like I’m stopping the review. Right… NOW!

Review: This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

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Genre: Young-Adult, Fantasy, Dystopian, Paranormal
Pages: 464
Series: Monsters of Verity #1 (Duology)
Release Date: July 5, 2016
Publisher: Greenwillow Books

4 Stars

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I have recently become a huge fan of Victoria Schwab (aka V.E. Schwab), so I had certain expectation when it came to this novel. And I have to say, it didn’t disappoint.

Before I start the review, I just wanna get it out there that there’s no romance in this novel. The author said this very specifically before the release because usually, even when the romance isn’t the main plot, it’s still there. In this case, there is none of it. And while I love romances, it’s kinda refreshing to go into a YA novel knowing there will be no romantic arc. I liked it.

That aside, it took some time to really get into the book. There was a new setting, two protagonist, the history of the city and the country, as well as explaining how the monsters worked. The first quarter, for me, was slow going. I wasn’t invested in the characters yet and the world was unveiling slowly. I had to push those chapters. But after that, things went smoothly.

The city of Verity is like Gotham. There’s a lot of crime. But instead of Batman saving the day, the crimes of the people manifested into literal monsters. Like, you kill someone and few hours later, a monster pops up at the scene of the crime.

Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to the divided city of Verity. August is a monster who wants to be human. He wants to help his father protect innocent people. Kate wants to be just like her father, who lets monsters roam free and makes people pay (money; no blood or revenge plots) for his protection against them. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives.

And yeah, I took some of the synopsis from Goodreads. I tried to make it short but this is about as short as it gets. It’s a unique world.

Now that I’ve gotten that out-of-the-way… I love the book. After getting through the difficult chunk in the beginning, I couldn’t put it down. The world is endlessly fascinating, thanks to Schwab distributing information throughout the novel instead of writing a bunch of exposition scenes.

Kate and August are both very different, and their contrasting personalities pull you in. And then seeing them both grow keeps you hooked. August needs to learn to accept himself as a monster and Kate needs to realize that maybe wanting to be just like her father is not the best idea. And seeing their relationship develop is the best. August is a good, but he’s also a monster; Kate is human, but her father is an evil maniac. Safe to say, trust does not come easy.

The book is beautifully written, has a great plot, great world-building, awesome characters and is one that I hundred percent recommend. I’m quite excited to read the sequel, Our Dark Duet (which came out today!). You should definitely give this one a read.

Review: The Love Interest by Cale Dietrich

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Genre: Young-Adult, Contemporary, Romance, LGBT
Pages: 384
Series: None
Release Date: May 16, 2017
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

3 Stars

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This book is set our world, but it features a secret organization that trains teenagers (since they’re little kids) to be Love Interests. Each person that’s likely to be important in the future is given two Love Interests, one Nice, and one Bad, boy. Caden and Dylan are sent to win the heart of Juliet. The one who loses will die. They’re both very determined to stay alive but things take a complicated turn when they start to fall for each other.

And I just want to take a moment, before I have to get into the review part, to appreciate how cool this synopsis is. I mean… just… I loved this book before I even read it, that’s how much I adore the premise. And for about two-thirds of the novel, things were going good.

I loved the premise, like I said, and the way the author played with the various YA tropes. For example, Dylan is the “tortured-soul Bad” and they have set pieces for situation where girl gets attacked by thugs and the boy comes in as the knight-in-shining-armour or for when the girl meets the boy for the first time, where she stumbles, falling into the boy’s arms. It’s all so awesome. And we finally find out why so many boys in YA novels have green eyes! They’re probably all Love Interests whose eye colours have been altered.

The pace of the book, for the most part, is good and so is the writing. Where the pace falls short is toward the end when things happen way too fast and easily.

The writing falters at the same moment or, to be exacts, in scenes involving action. Normal conversation or internal contemplation scenes are fine, but when we need a scene packed with emotion or one that demands a sense of danger or urgency, it falls flat. That was the reason the end of the novel was a big disappointment. I was tempted to cut the book some slack because it’s very difficult to find a standalone of this variety, but I couldn’t do that. Technicalities are important.

If you’re going to base a novel on an organisation, then you need to flesh out the details and working of said organization. And if you’re going to show this organisation to be so difficult to defeat, them it can’t be so freaking easy to break in to! You need to show danger and you need to show us how and why this organization has been functioning without a hitch for centuries. On top of that, the ending was so dissatisfactory and… convenient. Some of the character motivations were also unexplained, and side characters were not given the time they should have.

Then the epilogue happened, which did nothing to tell us of the consequences and aftermath of the ending and… things fell apart. There was too much that couldn’t be overlooked.

In the end, this is a novel that had a lot of potential and could have easily become a favourite, but due to the poor execution of many of the crucial aspects, it did not. I still think it’s worth a read for the good parts but you shouldn’t expect much or take it too seriously.

Review: History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera

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Genre: Young-Adult, Contemporary, LGBT
Pages: 320
Series: None
Release Date: January 17, 2017
Publisher: Soho Teen

5 Stars

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Griffin just lost his best friend, Theo. His best friend who used to be his boyfriend until they broke up right before Theo left for college. His best friend who he was hoping would be his boyfriend once again, forever. Griffin devastated and feels like his entire world just shifted. On top of that, Jackson, Theo’s college boyfriend seems to be the only one who truly gets how he feels. So despite not liking the idea, maybe they can both help each other out?

And in between them trying to deal with their grief and working through their differences, we get to read about Griffin and Theo’s relationship and what happened between them via backstory chapters.

The format of the novel is one chapter in the present and one set in the past, and I’ll be honest with you, had I known about the backstory chapters, I might not have read the book anytime soon because, as you may know if you’ve been following my reviews, I hate those fucking things. I remember when I read Where She Went and skimmed over half of the backstory chapters because I just didn’t think they were necessary.

All that aside, I’m glad I didn’t know because I didn’t mind the backstory. It was helped by the fact that we needed those chapters to get to know things better, and to give more significance to current events. And that they were short and provided some relief from the heavy theme. Still, was one needed after every chapter?

As for the story, it was really good. I’ve heard many great things about Adam Silvera and now I get why. He’s written a wonderfully emotional novel with just enough moments of lightness to not turn it into a tear-fest. He’s also given us some beautifully flawed characters that are very likable and very human. They’re ones you can definitely relate to. You feel for them in their sadness and in their happiness. You understand their mistakes and you root for them.

If there’s one character that I’m a bit unhappy with, it’s Theo. Both Griffin and Jackson made mistakes, but I think Theo screwed up the worst, with both of them, and I’m not one to let him get away with it just because he’s dead. But at the same time, we only know about him from Griffin’s perspective and don’t know his side. Maybe he wanted to make things right. We’ll never know.

The other three characters, I loved. And yeah, there are three. There’s Wade as well. He was, I think, the most well-organised of them all and he was great. He was a friend of both Griffin and Theo.

Overall, I initially planned to give the novel 4 stars but since I can’t come up with a single reason as to why, I’m changing it to 5. This is a brilliant novel and I very much recommend it. In the end, I’ll leave you with a few lines from the last page, that I loved. They’re not spoilery, I promise (unless you count Griffin not dying a spoiler. Then… oops!).

There’s nothing wrong with someone’s saving my life, I’ve realized, especially when I can’t trust myself to get the job done right. People need people. That’s that.

“People need people”, it’s such a simple thing and yet realized by so few. Stop being ashamed of needing, or accepting, help. It’s a sign of strength, not weakness.

Review: Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare

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Genre: Young-Adult, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal
Pages: 720
Series: The Dark Artifices #2
Release Date: May 23, 2017

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I so badly wanted to be on top of things when it came to this book. It got delivered on 24th, in the evening; I started it on 25th, in the morning, and finished it on 26th, at night. The plan was to have the review up on the 27th. But that last chapter… For two days, I couldn’t even think about it without getting very, very sad, and I kept putting off the review. Now it’s been two weeks, and enough is enough. I’m doing this.

Lord of Shadows starts off just a few weeks after the end of Lady Midnight. Emma found out why parabatai can’t be in a romantic relationship (apparently they both go crazy and kill everyone) so to make Jules hate her, she asked Mark if he would be in a fake relationship with her. He agreed, even though she didn’t tell him why. Malcolm, the evil dick, is dead but there seems to be a disturbance in the force regarding Annabel. Maybe she’s coming back to life. On top of that, there’s some very shady stuff going on with the demons and the faeries. The Unseelie king is misbehaving and the peeps over at the LA institute need to sort that shit out. And there we have our plot.

But… this plot doesn’t immediately come into play. Cassie Clare is known for her love-triangles (including the only good love-triangle in existence), her angst and the misunderstandings she creates. We get a lot of that here as well. But it’s not unbearable like it usually is with other books/authors because she creates the most wonderful characters and reading about them is always a joy.

So even though the story’s pace isn’t the best due to it being interspersed with angst, it’s never boring because we have the characters. In the first book, I loved everyone expect Mark and Emma, whom I was unsure about. I like Emma now, which is a big surprise because after the stunt she pulled at the end of LM, I thought I would hate her forever. But she was miserable and very much full of guilt so I’m good with her. Believe it or not, self-loathing over your shitting choices goes a long a way with me when it comes to forgiveness.

That’s not to say that I didn’t still want her to just fucking talk to Jules about what she found out. That never changed. As for Mark, I still don’t know what to do with him.

The other characters, I still love, especially Jules. His scheming and manipulative genius is an honest-to-God turn-on. Though at times he kinda scares me. And after what happens at the end of the book… it was a huge turning point for him. I have no clue what’s gonna happen to him. He could go the evil overlord direction for all I know! Though I don’t think even Cassie is that mean.

Speaking of characters though, there was one that stood out for me because of her arc. Diana Wrayburn. We were told in book 1 that there was a reason she couldn’t become the head of the institute. And we find out what that reason is. Believe me, you will not see it coming.  It made me love Cassie even more.  And on top of that, she had a romantic arc as well, which was equal parts cute and hysterical, as you’ll see.

Diana’s storyline was the highlight of the novel for me. But I liked the other plotlines as well, and there were quite a few. There was the one with the council and their endlessly stupid laws, the Emma and Jules relationship, the Christina, Mark and Kieran complication, the Centurions, and the Ty, Livvy and Kit dynamic. There’s also something going on with Dru that I think has something to do with setting up The Wicked Powers, which, if you don’t know, is the concluding series of The Shadowhunter Chronicles and starts 3-4 years after The Dark Artifices.

Overall, this books was a lot better than I expected it to be, though I’m not sure why I expected it to be bad, and was a great sequel. No Second Book Syndrome was found, and while I’d like to say I’m excited for book 3, I can’t say that because I’m still just processing what happens in the last chapter. I have no intention of even thinking about the series until the next book comes out (in two freaking years!).

ARC Review: Hearts on Air by L.H. Cosway

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Genre: New-Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: TBA (But probably 300-400 pages)
Series: Hearts #6 (Can be read as Standalone)
Release Date: June 8, 2017
Publisher: WordSmith Publicity

4 Stars

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Hearts on Air was one of my most anticipated releases of the year. I’ve been looking forward to it ever since I read Hearts of Blue, the fourth book in the series and the one that introduced the protagonists of this novel.

Reya is a musician. A few years ago, she met the very charismatic and very wild Trevor Cross. They instantly became best friends but Reya wanted more than just friendship. Trev didn’t feel the same way and, when he got the chance to be in a TV show and live his dream, they drifted apart. Now, two years after his big break, Trevor wants another chance with Reya, but he’ll have to work to ensure that she can truly rely on him.

Trevor, you see, was revealed to have ADHD, but due to his poor upbringing and life of crime, it went undiagnosed. He’s worked hard on being more in control of his life and he wants to prove to Reya that he’s not the impulsive and reckless boy she knew.

Right from the beginning, those of us who’ve read the other two books that feature him, can feel the difference in him. It’s still not easy for him. Some days are harder than others and he has to constantly work on not giving into his impulses, but he tries very hard. I truly admired him for that and I’m very happy that L.H. Cosway decided to tell this story and the way she decided to tell it. The focus on his ADHD and how hard it can be, it was great. I’ve always liked Trevor but even if I hadn’t, he would have won me over in this novel.

Reya is a very likable characters as well. She’s been hurt by Trev and she’s not sure if she should trust him again, but she still cares about him as her friend. She and Trev have great chemistry and I was totally rooting for them.

The romance in the novel is very cute and also heartwarming. L.H. Cosway is very good at what she does. The thing that did bother me was the blame factor. Trevor was too busy in his new life and didn’t manage to stay in contact as well as he should have. He screwed up and that’s highlighted in the book. But what about Reya’s screw up? What about the fact that she let her insecurities get the best of her and stopped trying with Trev? Trev messed up, but so did Reya. And I don’t like that, in the novel, the blame is one-sided. It’s unfair and it irked me.

In the end though, I really liked the book and the way it connected to all the others. This is the last book in the Hearts series and I’m happy with the way things concluded while also being bummed about the series ending (I wanted a book with Lola, a character from Hearts of Fire). This is a great book and totally worth checking out. But you should also consider reading the other installments, especially King of Hearts, which will always be my favourite of the series.

Review: Him By Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy

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Genre: New Adult, M-M Romance, Contemporary
Pages: 360
Series: Him #1 (Can be read as standalone)
Release Date: July 28, 2015

5 Stars

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I’m going to be reviewing in a hurry for this one because there’s a sequel that follows the same characters (even though this was a complete novel) and I want to know what it’s about and if it’s one that I’ll be reading. But I’m not allowed to read anything about that novel before I review this one. So here goes nothing…

This is the story of Jamie and Ryan. They were best friends for six years, meeting every year at a hockey camp, until something happened which crossed the line of ‘just friends’. This caused Ryan, who was in love with his straight best friend, Jamie, to cut him out of his life. Now, four years later, they meet again at a tournament. Ryan is still hung up on Jamie, who may not be as straight as they’d assumed.

Obviously, sparks fly and all that. There’s a lot of flirting and a lot of (HOT!) sex. But what’s surprising is that there’s also a whole lot of friendship; because Wes (aka Ryan) and Jamie were friends first and foremost. And that friendship meant a lot to them both.

So even as we venture into the realm of romance, there are many fun times when they both just joke around and connect. They love, trust, and care about each other, and it’s absolutely wonderful to see their relationship. Jamie, Wes and their relationship were the highlight of the novel, as they should be, and consistently engaging. I was very invested in them. That’s actually one of the reasons I’m so wary about the sequel. This is such a complete and finished story for me, and I’m not sure I want to risk ruining the perfect way things are at the end.

That aside, the writing was great, as I’ve come to expect from Elle Kennedy. And I think I might have to check out more stuff by Sarina Bowen as well. The story was brilliant. This isn’t a small book (took me 7 hours) but it’s all worth it.

Another thing I loved was how the LGBT angle was handled. We’ve seen many books about the struggles of coming out but this was a different take. It delved into acceptance of oneself and the long term backlash of what happens after you come out. Even if you’re accepted by your friends, there are so many situations when you have to be careful, when you might feel unsafe from those who “disagree” with your sexuality. It’s a very mature take. Neither Jamie nor Wes are kids. Their worries extend to how their professional lives will be impacted. I loved the direction the authors chose and how they represented it.

Overall, this is a wonderful, enjoyable, heart-warming and just… an awesome book. I highly, highly recommend reading it.