Monday, 29 September 2014

The Understatement of the Year By Sarina Bowen

This was the perfect balance that left me incomplete. Usually, I either get stories of characters wide open and out of the closet and others where characters accept that they are gay and try to find ways to get out of said closet. This go, we had an open gay who wasn't ready and one who can't say the word. No. He isn't mute.

Graham is so deep in the closet that you might need a 100ft rope to get him out. His theories were half sad and half hilarious because of the details placed in every day things like the colour of his sheets o.O

I can't imagine anyone putting in the time and logic that Graham used to keep that closet door close but it made for an interesting story to get the views of a self-loathing gay. It also gave the story another mystery because you leave not knowing if it was the traumatic event as a teen or society's views that made him a paranoid alcoholic for the most part of this story.

Then we have Rikker, who should be the paranoid drunk, but instead is the poster boy for 'gay but manly all the same'. He isn't shopping, sipping cosmos and  gossiping. You just don't need glaringly obvious reminders that he's gay. It's who he is. He was funny, scratch that, he was hilarious! He took everything in stride and flipped Big-D's comments when necessary.

I hate spoilers and I hope this isn't one for someone, but you really do wait until the very end for any revealing scenes. Then, I was left with so much unsaid and unresolved that I wonder if I got the complete novel and if perchance, book 4 will answer some of the questions I now have.

M/M romance novels normally carry the hot and angry sex scenes but this is 'The Ivy Years' series, so blow by blow sex scenes were bypassed for a steamy build up and a little cuddling after.

This novel was the most hockey based novel in the series, but I still didn't feel overwhelmed, so that's a plus. Unfortunately, due to Graham's phobia of his sexual orientation and all the time spent on the ice, we hardly spent any personal time with Rikker and Graham as a couple.

Sometimes, the story even dragged because we were stuck in the back and forth that is Graham's mind. Then came the really fast crescendo that began and ended before we could blink. I am now anxious to know what happens next and it's not even me being greedy, it's just that a whole new world now awaits.

Sarina Bowen has never been afraid to tackle major issues and this was no different. There is more to this novel than "coming out" and I think that's why the end left me feeling incomplete. There were also a few more grammatical errors than I am used to from a Sarina Bowen novel but I'll just chalk that up to it being an ARC. A purchased copy should have less grammatical errors. I hope.

Still, it wasn't enough to deter me and my interest was captured and held until the end. There is drama, lessons, fun, friendship, first love and acceptance all wrapped in two Harkness Hockey jackets.

Cracks in the Armor By Helena Hunting

I realize that all the novellas in this series is based on Sarah and Chris and it's probably because Tenley and Hayden's story have concluded but I am now interested in these two, especially after reading that novella.

I love how it's not insta love and they still have issues to work through even though they really are on the same page. It reminds me of every day life and the uncertainty we carry in relationships.

I am still not fully knowledgeable about either characters past but I assume we will be getting a full length novel some time soon? If not, then I guess this is a waste.

Chris seems to always be seeking approval, so I would really love to know why and Sarah is independent but dependent. They both seem to clash on paper but they seem so right together. They understand each other though they are uncertain where each other priorities lie.

I might not know much about their background but what I do know is that Chris is a sweetheart and Sarah is really a softy under all that armour. They are the perfect oxymoron and I really hope we'll get more on them, because though this was nice, sweet and to the point, it's too short to make a full assessment.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Inked Armour By Helena Hunting

I handle this series like a sitcom. I never expect it to end so I just wait for this season's climax and wonder what's gonna happen with the new season. Unfortunately, I think this series has ended o.O

I figure based on the novellas that Chris and Sarah are next but I am so much more invested and interested in Tenley and Hayden as a couple and as individuals. I also felt like while we focused on Hayden, there were a few unanswered questions from Tenley's past. Namely Trey.

Despite that, this novel continued with good dialogue, progression and story line. It held closure and promise but lacked much explosive moments that matches that of a good series closing. It was just like the endings before but without the obvious cliffhanger. Then again, I am hoping I am wrong and another novel is in the works :)

You were shown the different transitions between Hayden and Tenley's relationship and personal life. I found that I preferred Hayden's POV, which remained real, raw and true. His lack of filter and honesty continued to add substance and entertainment value.

Tenley got a little lost as the novel progressed, while we focused on Hayden and his demons and she became his anchor. She was stronger than before but somewhere along the line, the cupcake themed elements began to annoy me as they grew in frequency. I am actually shocked that she did everything with them but open a store.

As other cliches go, I saw a few miles away and already knew the answer to many questions, but it was still interesting to see them play out and I would trade all the detailed sex scenes for more time spent solving Hayden's parents murder or Tenley and Hayden's combined PTSDs.

The characters and story line have developed steadily throughout the series and this time was no different. There different proclivities changed as we progressed and it was good to have the tattoo as a symbolic tool of progression. It was continuously weaved into the story and conversations and in the end, we got to see all the changes that led to the perfectly balanced masterpiece.

This novel was good at closing old wounds and though it didn't bring the high drama and explosive moments that I normally look for with the closure of a series, it kept me intrigued, engaged, entertained and included in the story line from beginning to end.

I only have a novella left to read but I am glad I was in a book slump and unearthed this series on my kindle. It is memorable, well written and riddled with substance and as much reality as is possible. It truly is about ink and armour.

I also don't know where they found that embodiment of everything Hayden for the cover, but he really nailed the point home and I found myself staring at him sometimes too :)

Friday, 26 September 2014

Between the Cracks By Helena Hunting

I find that the prequels for this series are always thorough and detailed in their small time frames. For 50 pages, this was a well written summary or the present and future as it relates to Tenley, Hayden, Chris and Sarah's stories. While we didn't venture much into 'Clipped Wings',we got a segue to what happens after Tenley's departure and a preview of those decisions in 'Inked Armour'.

We got an idea of where Tenley is from and her growth since she moved to Chicago. Some of these things aren't obvious though and you would need to take the time to review her reactions and decisions when she return to Arden Hills.

The thing about 'Between the Cracks' though is that it wasn't Tenley and Hayden overload. It wasn't even told in any of their POVs. It was all Chris looking in and showing us a different side to Hayden, Tenley, Sarah and Trey.

It's very short, to the point where I can imagine it being a nuisance if you were reading it before the entire series was released.

It's packed like a 100 page novella with drama and more. It actually has a story line and progression, despite the speed. It's got me pumped and ready to see what becomes of all the characters with the beginning of 'Inked Armour'.

To top it all off, it's currently FREE on Amazon :)

Clipped Wings By Helena Hunting

I love it when a book meets my expectations and 'Clipped Wings' surely didn't disappoint after my 'Cupcakes and Ink' high. It was perfectly paced, concise and detailed in showcasing the similar struggles and insecurities between Tenley and Hayden. It's very rare that you see the main love interest fighting the same battles and reservations. Their realistic approach of just keeping it a secret made for an interesting and captivating story.

I loved the individualistic elements of this novel. You got to know, appreciate and understand all the characters. I can distinguish everyone and their proclivities and what's better is that I love them all in their roles. No one deviates and I actually like that even in the end there was uncertainty. It wasn't stretched across novels for sales alone, it's a story that needs depth and time and I find that the progression was perfectly timed and the ending left me comforted but wanting.

I know I appreciate a novel for it's content when I rush through the sex. Not that it's bad sex, but I crave the conversations and story line, more than I do the intimacy. I love the moments spent learning about Tenley and Hayden; getting updates on her tattoo and everything else spinning around them as a couple and as individuals.

Tenley piqued my interest as the novel began and immediately drew my interest to the staff of Inked Armor. She started as skittish but bold, then as the novel progressed, you unlock more of her personality. It's like your dating Hayden and Tenley as you spend the time knowing, opening and understanding their relationship, as if it's your own.

I had previously stated that Hayden reminds me of Rule from 'Rule' by Jay Crownover and suggested that he might be better. I was right and wrong. Though there are similarities that glaringly remind me of 'The Marked Men' series, Hayden is much more complicated, dramatic and intricate of a character and the Inked Armor crew take damaged to a next level.

There is sex and more sex for the sex fiends who might be interested in this novel but it's sparse in description and lack the BDSM touch that's present in most romance novels these days. Still, I am wired after reading this novel and I can't wait to get to see what's next after that ending.

I have never read a Helena Hunting novel before this week but I am glad I reached for this series in my book stump. It was well researched, executed and summarized. I was hooked from beginning to end and there was never a dull moment between the Inked Armor and Serendipity crew. Hayden's lack of a filter helped some too :)

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Cupcakes and Ink By Helena Hunting

Ok. So I have been in a book slump and decided that I would troll through my kindle library among the many novels that I have and never read. I passed by 'Clipped Wings' and remember all the excitement when this was released, so I decided to start with 'Cupcakes and Ink', then work my way through the series. I am happy I did :)

This series so far reminds me of 'Rule' by Jay Crownover and Hayden might just be a little hotter and better! Sorry Rule :)

I haven't been this excited about a novel in a while so I have rather high hopes for this series.

I only know the basics but I know that the Hayden and Tenley combo should be a knock out! Tenley intrigues me because despite her weird past times and feelings, she remains skittish and I love that she keep a level head, even when she wants to dive in head first. Her fascination with body mod is another element to be added to the clue of who she is and what she is running from or to.

Hayden has zero filter both orally and physically. He makes me laugh in and out of his POV and I can't wait to get up close and personal with the rest of the cast. Cassie is a hoot and the dealings of "The Dollhouse" have my interest piqued.

It might be a story line that we've read before but I love the kick off and can't wait to get deeper in cupcakes and ink :)

Brutal Precious By Sara Wolf

I'm ready to sell the rights for this novel to Disney but I guess I don't even have that right ... *_*  Oh well.

I think I was over this series by book 2 but I didn't remember, so I was excited for book 3. Isis was still crazy without explanation and made friends easily. As for Jack, I don't even know where to start with him. He was absent but present and there were times when I wondered why he was even needed in this story, except for the need to have a hero.

Every spy (yes spy),college and high school 90s drama tv show that Disney ever produced is displayed in this novel, with a splash of XXX.

Still, I liked the opening. It was a detailed summary of everyone's decisions and paths following Sophia's death, in a compact Isis playback. After that though, I scrambled to find relevance and meaning within the story line. If I didn't know, now I do. YA is not for me :(

I understand the need for Isis level of maturity, as she wouldn't instantly change by going to college, but by the end of the novel, I still missed the substance and maturity in her character.

Jack's presence wasn't felt in this novel and found that I didn't mind her with Kieran. I barely saw any of his icy demeanor that I came to love and his side of the story was rather uneventful and corny. Honestly, we could have done without his POV and story line. Believe me when I say that I was just as shocked as you were or will be to find out Jack's decision and line of work following Sophia's death.

This story was all over the place and though it had a focus, it slipped passed me completely! It was knowing without understanding. Apart from Isis and Jack, there was a slew of new characters but none memorable. I once again contribute this to the fact that this novel lacked a strong story line and the best parts were the beginning and end summaries. Literally.

I was kept interested enough though to read through most of the story in a couple hours. It remained engaging, thanks to Isis personality and all the past issues that got some light.

This could have made for a good, college based romance, especially coming off the previous novel and the directions everyone went at the beginning. It's a good enough novel but I find that it's too YA for my taste and crazy Isis got annoying eventually.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Collin By Sandi Lynn

'Collin' was an easy going story with a host of serious issues and the most fleeting and fairy tale solutions. My ongoing issue with Sandi Lynn novels, is how she always take serious issues and spend as little time on them then throw money at the problem and give us a happy ending.

Hailey, despite her faults, was treated like that crazy stalker chick from 'Forever Black' and Amelia moved from self righteous, to brave, to annoying and then right back to self righteous.

The first 30% of the story was told so fast and I just wanted to slow it down. It was nice there for a while, as I guess and spell who would steal his heart and that pizza girl freaked me out while making me die with laughter (it really does sound better abbreviated).

Anyhoo ... Collin is the fun, alcoholic of the family, even if no one wants to acknowledge it, but the boy is two shots away from being Ellery's dad. I am sure he would have liver failure if he got his heart broken again. Yes, his story isn't told to completion in this novel and I look forward to the repercussions in the upcoming novel.

Though I am glad for the diversity in using another love interest, even if breaks from the keep it all in the family thing they usually have going, Amelia takes some getting used to. I don't understand or connect with any of the characters at the end of this novel because it feels like I was being read a statement instead of partaking in a story. Maybe it's the tone, progression or modern day Saints that was portrayed, but I didn't believe or connect with the characters and their different stories. Connor, Ellery and Julia included. I even forgot about Peyton, Henry and James. They were so faded and uninteresting.

We even lost a main character in this novel and it didn't impact me the way it should have. It wasn't sad, reflective or contemplative. It just happened and we moved on. As for Amelia and her host of issues, I think it needed the same amount of time and dedication that this death warranted, in order to make an impact within the story.

You might read my review and think that I hate this novel but I didn't. I quite enjoyed it and read it in one day with little breaks. I think if you are looking for a quick, easy read with not much complexity, then this is it.

It not only gives you updates from the past but it shows everyone's future and allows you to reconnect with all the characters that we loved from this series. The focus was broader than Collin and Amelia, so though they got lost as a couple and individuals, I still had a good time keeping up with the Black's and their host of friends and acquaintances.

On the Record By K.A. Linde

First, let me start off by saying what a sexy cover this is and I think that even if this story turned out to be crap, atleast the cover was good eye candy. Now on to the story ...

Why must K.A. Linde write these realistic, fairy tales and then drop us like a hot patty at the end? I will admit I had my moments where I wondered where the hell is she going now but just as I am literally standing in the kitchen, unable to go and have a shower because my kindle reads 98%, she drops a bomb and exits until November?! Do you know how far November is?? Sighz.

It's safe to say that I loved it. I'll get angry, disagree and swear off reading another K.A. Linde novel but I never do. I believe she writes some of the most controversial stories and she does it in a way that feels all too real and relateable, while still giving you as happy as an ending, that she can muster out of the mess she creates.

Hayden dominated this novel but it was hard to lose yourself in their love because I kept having the lingering feeling that it wouldn't last. Though he was made to look like a monster at one point, for the most part, he was the perfect replacement and it was good to see that he was human, as he did what anyone else in his position, who was angry and hurting would do. We are jealous and vindictive creatures, so his actions, though harsh, is no surprise. It made me respect the author for being able to comfortably take this step and knowing the outcome.

There were moments when I couldn't understand or tolerate Liz. She annoyed me to no end and had me wondering what every one saw in her but the girl has spirit and drive. Ply her with alcohol and she's your #1! She is strange but relateable. Her reservations came off as a fairy tale but when she broke out of her shell she made me laugh until I snort and she is the only person in this novel who can make you see Brady Maxwell the man and not Brady Maxwell the politician. I really don't think anyone sees him the way she does and his last chapter moments at the end of these novels always take off that edge that his character carries.

There is sex but it's pretty tame and so much was going on that I preferred conversations as oppose to the bedroom actions. The politics was once again done tastefully and reflected someone who understood politics and wasn't just basing a story around the regular affairs. I love a well thought out and executed novel and K.A. Linde didn't disappoint.

'On the record' is split into two parts and you will have to read both to appreciate and understand this novel. I know there will be another Hayden vs Brady battle after this one but I find that the further we go, the more our perceptions of the characters change. This novel is more than Liz and Brady as a couple and I like that everyone is growing and getting their time in the sun.

It took some time and a few good scenes to develop some mystery and intrigue but in the end, it left me yearning for more and jonesing for an ARC for 'For the Record'. This was a brilliantly written and executed political drama and I can't wait for it's conclusion.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Promised By Jodi Ellen Malpas

Let's remove the fact that I spent the better part of the last 4 weeks planning a 5K. When I did get the time, today included, I settled down and tried to read 'One Night: Promised'. At one point, I thought to review 'This man' to find similarities in the writing styles, because I don't wanna believe that this was a JEM novel. What happened? Am I really in the minority here?

'One Night: Promised' did nothing for me as novel neither did Olivia and Miller as characters or as a couple. I was bored and struggled to get to the end. By the time I got to the end, I wanted answers but the story still didn't increase it's pace or my interest. There were so many unnecessary conversations and the continuous loop of pimps and prostitutes did nothing for the story line. Actually, there is no story line. It read like and unedited manuscript and it's more than my expectations. This was just bad, especially for an author of this caliber.

I understand Olivia's character was to be flat, boring and careful in the initial stages but even when she got out of her shell, with little difficulty might I add, she did nothing for me as an individual. I know her struggles, but she remains a contradiction to her brief time in the underworld and her lack of faculties around Miller reminds me of a bad 90's romance novel.

Miller doesn't intrigue me unless he's shifting cutlery and ironing suits in his office. There were Miller moments that had me chuckling, but for the most part, he came off as cheesy and from another century. Though he did teach me something valuable about wines, that I will take into consideration.

There was so much pointless and talkative sex! I hate when people have full on conversations during sex. It can't possibly be that nice if you find the time to speak this much -_-

For a period of time, I found myself more interested in Ben and Greg's story, than I was Miller and Olivia's. I actually wondered if we could get theirs instead, as the main story lacked real drama or clarity and where "wow factor" is concerned, that could use some work. There are pieces, they're just not cohesive.

The main story line/occupation in this story is not dramatic and the reveal left me wanting more. For a moment, I thought Miller was a mob boss, then a DOM, only to find out his real occupation and then the story ends. Will I read the next? Yes. Would I judge Ms. Malpas based on this novel? No. I just wish book 2 is better because I hold Jodi Ellen Malpas to a standard, after all, I get all my Brit romance from her, but this wasn't her best work and I struggled to understand and appreciate the story line and the characters.