Monday, July 30, 2012

"Good For You" by Tammara Webber (originally written June 15, 2012)

4.5 stars

I didn’t read the first two books in the series (“Between the Lines” and “Where You Are”) because I hate, hate, HATE love triangles and I wasn’t interested in the whole Reid-Emma-Graham drama. But I thought that a story about Reid after he “lost” to Graham sounded like a potentially good story. Apart from that I have a weakness for the popular-guy-good-girl-storylines.

And Reid is extremely popular. He’s a Hollywood star, legendary womanizer and known to find trouble wherever he goes. That’s the reason he and Dori meet in the first place. He has drunkenly driven his car into a house front and the following court order was for him to help with the rebuilding of the house – a project that Dori is in charge of.

I didn’t like Reid in the beginning, mainly because he was acting like an arrogant jerk. Even though I gave him some slack for at least being honest about it and for the fact that he is a Hollywood star and a bit of his arrogance might be founded. When people are constantly telling you how great you are it’s only logical. But still, it doesn’t change the fact that his behavior left a lot to wish for.
He’s well aware that Dori is a “good girl”, she takes love seriously and stays true to her values. But still he’s going after her because he likes the challenge, while still hooking up with other girls. Call me stuck-up, but that’s one of the meanest things a guy can do in a situation like that.
But for me as well as Reid there was a big turning point in this story. I’m not even sure when it happened, but suddenly I felt like he showed some genuine interest in her, like it suddenly became more than just the thrill of the chase.
After that the book turned more beautiful with every page. The way Reid tried (and succeeded) to become a better and more deserving person for Dori’s and – what’s even more important – his own sake, was touching and so wildly romantic that at times I had problems to control my inner fangirl. I felt like squealing happily more than once and I don’t do that, ever!

I had some problems with the writing style at first. The story is told from ever changing POVs (Reid’s and Dori’s), there were parts of the book where every third page was told from a different person’s POV. It made it hard for me to really get into the story and made me feel a bit restless, but once I got used it I wouldn’t have wanted to change it for the world. They were both ruthlessly honest with themselves, so the insights we got into both of their feelings were extremely valuable for the development of the story.

The only thing I REALLY didn’t like was the whole story arc with her older sister.
***Mild SPOILER***
Maybe the author thought that making Dori’s sister and best friend fall into a coma that left her as an unresponsive invalid for the rest of her life was important for the development of the story and Dori’s and Reid’s relationship, but if you use a character like that to generate some drama (which I hate in the first place), why do you have to make her find the love of her life just before the accident? The whole thing was so heartbreaking I actually had tears in my eyes and more than a few of them were out of anger. That part of the story was completely unnecessary!

Apart from that I couldn’t have been more delighted with the story. Dori’s and Reid’s relationship developed with a natural pace and I could understand all of their actions and decisions. They didn’t mindlessly rush into anything, but at the same time there was a pull between them that made it almost impossible for them to stay apart.
This was a beautiful and touching book about growing up, showing strength in the face of disaster and staying true to yourself through all of it.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Love Triangle Thing (Rant Alert!)

Love Triangles. Where to start? Well, I guess the best thing would be to start by saying that I really, really don't like them. But a lot of readers do or I guess the whole love triangle theme wouldn't be so prominent in romance novels. And that's totally okay. Everyone should be able to read what he/she wants to read.
But that's just the thing - I don't want to read about them and lately I get the feeling that they are getting to be the norm, especially in the Young Adult section. Every other book I pick up seems to involve a love triangle and it's really starting to get on my nerves. But the thing that really bothers me is that in a lot of cases there's not even a warning in the synopsis of the book. If authors and publishers (I guess this is mostly the publishers fault, since authors don't really have a say in it) want to release books with love triangles they should at least have the courtesy to warn readers like me so I can avoid those particular books. Being taken by suprise by a love triangle (although that happens less and less, since I'm starting to expect them everywhere) is a terrible feeling that, for the most part, ruins the whole book for me.

Here's my problem with love triangles. I like to read positive and happy love stories. I like to read about a woman and a man (a boy and a girl) getting to know, TRUST and love each other. Call me naive, but I want to read about true love and Happily-Ever-Afters. What I absolutely don't want to read about is cheating, deception and heartbreak. And for me love triangles are a form of cheating (and there's always lying and heartbreak). Sometimes it's actual cheating, sometimes it's just in the head or the pre-phase of it. But a person that is in love with/considers both love interest at the same time is a person I can't trust as a reader and that's an awful feeling.
I like to feel a connection to the characters I read about and I just can't understand "fickleness" like that. It makes me angry and wary. Maybe it's because I know that I would feel absolutely horrible if I were on the receiving end of an unsure relationship like that, but whatever origin my aversion has, it's there.

So the thing I want to know from you is, do you like to read about love triangles? If you do, could you name a few reasons for it and try to explain their appeal? If you don't, what are the things that bother you about love triangles?
I would really like to try to understand the pro side as well, so if you have some input, please, share!

Monday, July 23, 2012

"Tangle Of Need" by Nalini Singh (originally written May 29, 2012)

This is the first of my older reviews that I'll post on this blog, so I thought starting with a book from my favorite author would be a good idea. I edited the review a bit, so this isn't the original, but the updated version of it.

5+ stars

Story (part of the synopsis from Goodreads):

Adria, wolf changeling and resilient soldier, has made a break with the past--one as unpredictable in love as it was in war. Now comes a new territory, and a devastating new complication: Riaz, a SnowDancer lieutenant already sworn to a desperate woman who belongs to another.
For Riaz, the primal attraction he feels for Adria is a staggering betrayal. For Adria, his dangerous lone-wolf appeal is beyond sexual. It consumes her. It terrifies her. It threatens to undermine everything she has built of her new life. But fighting their wild compulsion toward one another proves a losing battle.

Before I start with my actual review let me just tell you about my thoughts and expectations BEFORE I started reading "Tangle of Need":
  • I really didn't like Adria. She seemed overbearing, cold and bitter and even though I tried to tell myself that being in a BAD relationship could do that to you I just couldn't shake my feelings of dislike towards her.
  • I was completely convinced that the fact that Riaz had already found his mate, but couldn't be with her would ruin the love story in "Tangle of Need". There are just some things that absolutely don't work for me in romance books and a man who wants another woman while having a relationship (or even just sex) with someone else is one of them.
  • There was just no way any story could measure up to the standard Nalini Singh set for herself after writing a book as perfect as "Kiss of Snow". It's just not possible.
But since Nalini Singh is one of my favorite authors and I just had to know what happened next in the Psy/Changeling-series I bought a copy as soon as it came out. Of course.

These were my thoughts AFTER I finished "Tangle of Need":
  • Nalini Singh is a genius and I'll never ever doubt her again!
I can't even describe how much I loved this book. It did definitely measure up to "Kiss of Snow". I was so convinced that the mass of issues and prior bad experienced that Riaz and Adria dragged into their relationship would make it impossible for me to fully enjoy their love story. But while there were some painful moments, their individual and shared developments were utterly satisfying and heart-warming. Unbelievable but true, this was a truly happy story. I found myself smiling throughout this whole book and at the end I almost cried some happy tears. But since I'm made of harder stuff than that I didn't. Of course. I just had something in my eye.
Riaz is just as adorable (in a very feral way) as all her other heroes and even though I had my reservations about Adria I couldn't hold on to them for more than 20 pages. She's such a strong and affectionate person despite the things she has gone through. I respected her for her courage and was amazed by the way she handled Riaz's dominant and instinctive antics.

What made me almost as happy was the fact that we got to read a lot about the Arrows (especially Aden and Vasic), as well as Kaleb. For the first time I had a feeling that I actually got a glimpse at the person behind the icy exterior of the teleporter, while Kaleb is still as big a mystery as he was before, but let me just say, after reading the last chapter of the book I simply can't wait for his book. The fact that I have to wait at least until next year is driving me crazy!

Other than that I was delighted that Nalini Singh gave all of the Snow Dancers, as well as some of the Dark River cats some page time in "Tangle of Need". Especially Hawke and Sienna have been featured generously and I'm happy to announce that they are just as great as the were in "Kiss of Snow". Prepare yourself for some delicious scenes.
So logically the focus of the book wasn't entirely on Adria and Riaz, it was more like a book about the whole Snow Dancer pack. I didn't have a problem with that, since I love to read about characters from previous books, as well as get to know the rest of the pack a little bit better. In my opinion Nalini Singh still did a fabulous job of highlighting Adria and Riaz's relationship.

If you haven't already ordered the book you should do it now. I mean it, do it right this second because this is a story that you just don't want to miss! :D 

So, have you read the book or something else by Nalini Singh? Did you love it as much as I did? If you haven't yet read something by the author, what's keeping you from it? ;]

Sunday, July 22, 2012

My 5 star reviews

Since I haven't read too many new great books in the last few weeks and I realized that the reviews on this blog are mostly of just okay books, I decided that I will post some of my older reviews of books I loved. I want you to be able to read about the awesome books I've read and although I hope that some books like that will come my way soon, I still don't want to make you wait too long.
Which is why I will regularly update this page with the reviews I've written in the past. I'll post the first one tomorrow, so look forward to it! :]

I hope some great books will come your way.

Best wishes,

"So Into You" by Cecilia Gray

4 stars

"Jane Austen always felt out of her element. Her stories are about characters bound by the situations they are in - until they're finally set free. You... me... haven't you always felt you didn't fit in anyplace else? Until you came here? Aren't you finally free?

Ellie's in trouble. Big trouble. Her parents want to leave for Guatemala and they want to take her with them, but Ellie doesn't want to leave the Acedemy. She doesn't want to leave her friends and she especially doesn't want to leave funny, cute Edward. Because Ellie is sure that he cares for her just as much as she cares for him, right? RIGHT?

With "So Into You" Cecilia Gray was at a disatvantage from the start. The reason for that is the fact that I just don't like "Sense and Sensibility" very much. It's the mother of all love-triangles and God knows I hate those with a passion. "So Into You" is the second book in the "Jane Austen Acedemy" series and a modern retelling of my least favorite Austen novel. But I loved "Fall For You", book one of the series, so I just had to read "SIY" as soon as I got my fingers on it.
And Cecilia Gray did the unthinkable, she did what Jane Austen was unable to do - she made me enjoy the plot of "Sense and Sensibility".
I'm not quite sure how she did it, but a big part of it was definitely her loving way of presenting her characters. None of them are perfect, some are arrogant, oblivious, or completely unable to make a decision (hello there, Edward), some are even downright obnoxious. But there's something charming about every single one of them. Gray's characters are so full of life, hope and dreams, it's a pleasure to read about them, even if they do something stupid or something I don't agree with.

Ellie and Edward were the perfect example for that. I wanted to shake them throughout 50% of the book, but at the same time it was so much fun to watch them stumble along. They had to overcome some serious obstacles, but you just knew how much they cared for each other and I was sure that things would turn out to be okay (you will do so as well, even if you don't know how "Sense and Sensibility" ends).

I just wish the ending would have been longer. The entire book is full of high-drama and there were only so few pages where everything was finally right. I felt like Ellie and Edward deserved a bit more happy times together, but I was satisfied with the way the drama was resolved, so I'm not too upset about the abrupt ending.
And of course there were minor things I had some trouble with, but that mostly had to do with the love triangle (but for once it didn't annoy me too much) and the undecisiveness of one male who should not be named.

If you enjoyed "Fall For You" or "Sense and Sensibility" you will do the same with this installment of the series. "So Into You" is a cute and quick read and not just for fans of Jane Austen.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

"At Last" by Jill Shalvis

 4 stars

"There were certain things she knew for sure. When in doubt, eat chocolate. When stressed, eat chocolate. When in doubt AND stressed, eat chocolate. Especially when that doubt and stress were related to a man and her feelings for said man."

Amy Michaels came to Lucky Harbor to find peace and maybe hope. It worked for her grandmother many years ago, so why shouldn't it work for her as well? What Amy hasn't been looking for was Matt aka "Ranger Hot Buns". He's trouble and that's the last thing she needs. But then she has never been especially good at making the right choices...

If you read and loved the other books in the Lucky Harbor series then you will love "At Last" as well. Jill Shalvis came up with another sexy, funny and at times heart-warming story, that will brighten your day just a little bit more.
For the most part this book was very drama-free (not boring, though), if a bit predictable. That's not a bad thing, I'm just saying that it pretty much follows the path of the other books in the series.
Still not a bad thing because if there's one thing Jill Shalvis is especially good at then it's creating crazy chemistry between her main characters. The attraction between Amy and Matt was off the charts and I had a lot of fun watching those two resist falling in love with each other. And resist they did, let me tell you that. They both had a rough past that made them more than a little bit suspicious of trust and love, so the story of the book basically revolves around them overcoming those fears and learning to trust each other.
I think Jill Shalvis did a good job. She constructed a solid story, believable background stories and I never felt like she was stringing them along just to lenghten her book. The developments all felt very natural, even though I wish the author would take a bit more time to let her characters jump into bed with each other. I like it when an author uses a slow (even very slow) buildup, but everyone who read one of Shalvis's books before knows they won't get one of those.

There was a little sub-plot about a troubled teenager that I thought was very well done as well. The portrait of the defiant, lost girl felt realistic and I was rooting for her from the beginning.

A predictable, but nevertheless good and fast read that made me exited for the next book in the series "Forever A Day", Josh and Grace's story.