Tag Archives: 3/5

The Coincidence of Coconut Cake by Amy E. Reichert

The Coincidence of Coconut Cake by Amy E. Reichert
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Links:

Source: purchased for Kindle.

Genre: contemporary romance.

My rating:

Ohh, this is another one of those books. It has a great premise, some fantastic elements, I loved the heroine so much, and it made me hungry because the food descriptions are marvelous, but the whole just didn’t do it for me. This will contain spoilers because I want to talk about it some more, so if you want to read it, please stop reading now. You’ve been warned.

Lou is a small restaurant owner who gets a horrible review after she has a really bad day in life/her kitchen. The person responsible for the bad review – Al – is a nasty food critic who enjoys skewering restaurants and chefs, and takes perverse pleasure in seeing the effect of his words.

Now, Lou is fantastic. She’s warm and hardworking and trusting and a great friend. She’s also a fantastic chef, and I enjoyed her parts of the story so much. But Al…He was just such an asshole. He vents his own frustrations on unsuspecting people, and when he finds out he’s the reason for Lou’s misfortune, he hides behind his pseudonym like the coward that he is. When he didn’t come clean to Lou, I lost all interest in the story. The moment when he stated calculating how he could save his stupid ass and still stay with the woman whose life he ruined, I just sort of skim-read his parts because he annoyed me so much.

And the fact that she forgave him? Nope, sorry. He was so self-assured, so convinced that he was doing the world a favor by being nasty, I couldn’t empathize with him at all. Which is a pity, because I loved so many other things about this story.

The setting, the details of Lou’s life in the restaurant, Lou’s relationships with virtually everyone else…were great, really well-done. This reads more like chick-lit than romance, that’s worth mentioning. The story also dragged a little – I read it on my Kindle, so I don’t have a good sense of how long it was, but it definitely could have been shorter. So yeah. I might look up Reichert’s other books (are there any?) because I liked so much about this one, but I can’t whole-heartedly recommend The Coincidence of Coconut Cake because of the issues I mentioned.

Have you read The Coincidence? What did you think?

Would you forgive the person who ruined your life and lied about it?

I’d love to hear from you! :)

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My Romance Binge Continues

I started this post by writing that I’d been reading lots of romances lately when I realized I ALWAYS read lots of romances, so there’s no point in making an issue out of this. I’m writing mini reviews again so the entire blog doesn’t become one big romance fest, because I am also reading other genres in between. But romance will always be one of my favourite genres!

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Wound Tight (Made in Jersey #4) by Tessa Bailey
Published on December 5th, 2016 by Entangled.

Links: Goodreads.

Source: publisher via NetGalley. Thank you Entangled for providing me with an e-copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Genre: contemporary m/m romance.

My rating:

I have a funny relationship with Tessa Bailey’s books. I really liked some of them, and then I read the third book in this series, Worked Up, and ended up giving it one star, which almost never happens, because the hero was an asshole and a brute (which had nothing to do with his enormous stature but everything to do with the fact that he disrespected the heroine).

However, I’m glad I requested Wound Tight, which is the story of Milo and Renner, because it’s much nicer than the previous one. I enjoyed reading about how these two guys got together, even though they were so completely different and each had his own troubles. I’m also glad there was, for once, no coming-out drama in a gay romance. It’s good to have both kinds of books but most of m/m romance I’ve read has been New Adult, where such topics make more sense than in adult romance.

I think I’ll be reading whatever Bailey comes up next, she’s redeemed herself in my eyes!

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The Trouble With Mistletoe (Heartbreaker Bay #2) by Jill Shalvis
Published in September 2016 by Avon.

Links: Goodreads.

Source: purchased for Kindle.

Genre: contemporary romance .

My rating:

If you’re a fellow romance fan, you’ve probably noticed by now that Jill Shalvis is one of my auto-buy authors and that I usually love everything she writes. Somehow, her Heartbreaker Bay series isn’t working that well for me. Sweet Little Lies, the first of the series, had the problem of the heroine keeping a secret she really should have shared with the hero, but in Trouble, I just didn’t connect with the characters.

There was this artificial barrier between Willa and Keane (they went to high school together), which I thought was blown out of proportion. I mean, everyone does stupid things in high school, so not remembering someone shouldn’t be enough to hold a grudge a decade later, no?

I then also read One Snowy Night, the novella that comes after this one, and I didn’t like it at all. So I’m afraid of what’s happening with my favourite romance books – and hoping that Accidentally on Purpose will fix all that because I’m excited to hear the story of Elle and Archer, who are my favourite characters so far. *crosses fingers*

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Do You Want to Start a Scandal (Spindle Cove #5) by Tessa Dare
by Avon.

Links: Goodreads.

Source: purchased for Kindle.

Genre: historical romance.

My rating:

Tessa Dare is another favourite author of mine. The Spindle Cove series is wonderful – I particularly liked A Week to be Wicked, which remains one of the best historical romances I’ve ever read.

Do You Want to Start a Scandal brings back some of the characters we’ve seen in previous books, and I enjoyed reading about them. It’s a typical Dare book with lots of good banter, great gut-punches, and a perfect comfort read.

I enjoyed Charlotte as a heroine – even though she’s quite young, she’s intelligent and observant, as well as easy to relate to. Piers, however, is sometimes a bit of an ass, especially with his high-handed way of manipulating everyone into doing what he wants them to do. I understood the impulse behind his actions but didn’t necessarily agree with the execution.

All in all, I’ll most definitely be reading whatever Dare writes next, she’s a fantastic romance author.

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Have you read any of these? What did you think?

Which romance author should I look into next?

I’d love to hear from you! :)

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Half Wild by Sally Green

Half Wild (The Half Bad Trilogy #2) by Sally Green
Published in 2015 by Penguin UK.

Links: Goodreads.

Source: borrowed from a friend (paperback).

Genre: urban/paranormal fantasy.

My rating:

After finally meeting his elusive father, Marcus, and receiving the three gifts that confirm him as a full adult witch, Nathan is still on the run. He needs to find his friend Gabriel and rescue Annalise, now a prisoner of the powerful Black witch Mercury. Most of all he needs to learn how to control his Gift – a strange, wild new power that threatens to overwhelm him.Meanwhile, Soul O’Brien has seized control of the Council of White Witches and is expanding his war against Black witches into Europe. In response, an unprecedented alliance has formed between Black and White witches determined to resist him. Drawn into the rebellion by the enigmatic Black witch Van Dal, Nathan finds himself fighting alongside both old friends and old enemies. But can all the rebels be trusted, or is Nathan walking into a trap?

Meanwhile, Soul O’Brien has seized control of the Council of White Witches and is expanding his war against Black witches into Europe. In response, an unprecedented alliance has formed between Black and White witches determined to resist him. Drawn into the rebellion by the enigmatic Black witch Van Dal, Nathan finds himself fighting alongside both old friends and old enemies. But can all the rebels be trusted, or is Nathan walking into a trap?

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This is the review for the second book of the Half Bad series, so there might be some spoilers for the first one. Go read my review of it here if you’re new to this!

I really should binge-read series more. Every time I take too long between sequels, I inevitably forget half of what has happened and then need half the sequel to really get back in the mood again. *sigh* I did read my own review of Half Bad and even resorted to reading the post on Recaptains before I tackled Half Wild, but I still didn’t exactly remember what happened to Nathan and crew.

That said, I enjoyed this book a lot. I mean – is it the most original, wonderful fantasy I’ve ever read? Probably not. But it does explore some interesting themes and the characters are surprisingly well-layered, so I liked it.

The central theme, at least as I saw it, is still this balance (or imbalance, actually) between light and dark, good and bad. Nathan, being a half-code (the son of a white witch and a black witch), is rejected from both communities – from the good and the bad. It’s hard for him to find a place for himself, especially since most of them just value him for his ability to fight. His relationship with his father gets a lot more complicated, as do his friendships with Annalise and Gabriel. Gabriel, especially, was a very interesting character.

I remember Half Bad being pretty brutal at some points and Half Wild isn’t much different – especially as the war against the white witches escalates and the rebels get organised. I wonder how the story will continue after such an ending – and I’m looking forward to reading Half Lost as soon as I can get my hands on a copy.

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Have you read The Half Bad Trilogy? What did you think?

Should I be super excited about book 3?

I’d love to hear from you! 

Let’s be friends: emailbloglovin’twitterinstagramgoodreads.

Recent Romance Reads

Ooh, I love alliteration, sorry. I’ve been reading more romances lately, probably because I need fluffy stories in my life. I am very happy with reading fluff at the moment, though I’m trying to offset it by reading other stuff as well. Just so there’s some balance. Anyway, these are some romances I’ve enjoyed – I can heartily recommend all of them if you need an evening of uncomplicated fun.

what-happens-in-londonWhat Happens in London by Julia Quinn – this is an older title but it’s so good. It was a re-read for me, actually, and I enjoyed it as much as the first time. Harry and Olivia are both intelligent and curious by nature, so their story was a joy to read. I also liked the fact that Harry wasn’t your typical alpha hero, he’s not a rogue or anything, and it’s very refreshing for a historical romance. This is the second part of the series but it definitely can be read separately – I don’t remember a thing about the first book and I had no problem with it. Also, I think it might be one of my favourite Quinn books (if you like historicals and are unfamiliar with Quinn, you should really reassess your priorities). ;) I’d give this one 4/5 stars.

 

Charlie All Nightcharlie-all-night by Jennifer Crusie – despite the horrific cover, this was a fun, fluffy contemporary romance with a bit of a mystery thrown in. I read it because I’ve previously enjoyed Crusie’s Bet Me – and while this one didn’t quite match the fun tone of that great story, I still enjoyed it a lot. I have Becky to thank for pointing me in Crusie’s direction – I think her books are perfect for curling up on the couch when you need some comfort in your life. They’re like the bookish equivalent of good chocolate chip cookies. This one gets 3/5 stars.

 

 

Act Like Itact-like-it by Lucy Parker – this is the most recent title of the three and the one that surprised me the most. Quinn recommended this one recently, she said it was one of her favourite books to re-read and I can definitely see why! It has an enemies-to-lovers plot with a slow-burn romance, which ticks two of my “yes please” boxes. The hero, Richard, is an asshole at first but I thought the transformation/reveal of his true nature was very believable. Lainie is a great heroine and I liked her a lot. The fact that the story is set in London and that both the main characters are theatre actors are just bonus points in its favour. I’m definitely looking out for Parker’s next book! 4/5 stars to this one.

The Goalthe-goal-elle-kennedy by Elle Kennedy – I’ve been waiting for this one and it was pretty good. It’s the last in her Off Campus series that I’ve enjoyed a lot and Tucker’s story was really touching at times. I wished Sabrina would relax a bit and let Tucker help her sooner but we need the drama, of course. Tucker is such a good guy, though! I think he’s my favourite hero of this series. I liked reading about the other “players” but Tucker’s a quiet guy with great manners and a heart of gold. You know I’m partial to good guys. Anyway, the cover is… stunning, if a bit cringe-worthy. I think these covers are the reason I read most of my romances on my Kindle… Also, compared to the other three books of the series, this one features much less hockey! And it definitely should be read last – there’s some overlap of the story. 3/5 stars.

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Have you read any of these? What did you think?

Do you have any fluffy recs for me? 

I’d love to hear from you! :)

Let’s be friends: emailbloglovin’twitterinstagramgoodreads.

Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas

Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass #5) by Sarah J. Maas
Published on September 6, 2016 by Bloomsbury Children's.

Links: Goodreads.

Source: purchased (paperback).

Genre: YA high fantasy.

My rating:

The long path to the throne has only just begun for Aelin Galathynius. Loyalties have been broken and bought, friends have been lost and gained, and those who possess magic find themselves at odds with those don’t.As the kingdoms of Erilea fracture around her, enemies must become allies if

As the kingdoms of Erilea fracture around her, enemies must become allies if Aelin is to keep those she loves from falling to the dark forces poised to claim her world. With war looming on all horizons, the only chance for salvation lies in a desperate quest that may mark the end of everything Aelin holds dear.Aelin’s journey from assassin to queen has entranced millions across the globe, and this fifth installment will leave fans breathless. Will

Aelin’s journey from assassin to queen has entranced millions across the globe, and this fifth installment will leave fans breathless. Will Aelin succeed in keeping her world from splintering, or will it all come crashing down?

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This is the review for the fifth part of the series so you can be sure there will be spoilers for the first four books. You can read my reviews for the previous parts here: 1+2, 3, 4. If you’ve been around here for a while, you’ll know that my relationship with Maas’s books goes up and down. I wasn’t too impressed by Queen of Shadows, so I was curious about Empire of Storms and the direction Maas will take with her story.

After much deliberation, I decided that there will also be SPOILERS FOR THIS BOOK. So if you haven’t read it and hate SERIOUS spoilers, you should quit reading this now. I warned you.

So. Here we are, one book away from finishing this series. We’ve been with Celaena/Aelin for a while now and I know I should be invested in her story and rooting for her but you guys, I don’t like her. She’s obnoxious. She makes me want to slap her face (even if she’d cut my hand of as a result). So her storyline was the one I was least excited to read about. Her inability to share her plans with her closest friends and supporters just came off as incredibly arrogant. And now we’ll spend half the last book trying to save her silly ass.

The fact that she and Rowan finally had sex did nothing to improve this book. I’ve said this before but it has to be said again: Empire of Storms is NOT a young adult novel. The series might have started off as young adult but this just isn’t it anymore. I think I complained about this in my review of Queen of Shadows already but this time, it’s even more obvious. Even if it makes me sound like a prude, my complaint is mostly about the sex, which, by the way, was really awkward. On one hand, you have these spectacular orgasms that defy the elements and shake the world and whatnot, and on the other, the obviously “adult” content is censored so there’s no actual naming of body parts and Aelin is forever “grasping him” in her hands and so on. Also, there was one instance that kind of made me want to throw the book against the wall: “Rowan had healed the bruise on the back of her knuckles from the blow she’d dealt the witch – and she’d thanked him by locking the door to their room and getting on her knees before him. She could still feel his fingers fisted in her hair, still hear his groan-” Yeah. I don’t really like a YA character thanking anyone for anything with a BJ.

I was much happier when the story switched to other characters. I love Manon Blackbeak and her coven, I think their friendships, while based on a strict hierarchy, are pretty great. I still think wyverns would make great pets and I want one. I also enjoyed reading about Elide, I liked how resourceful she was and how stubborn. I think we can expect great things from her. I was surprised, however, that Chaol was not present at all in this book. He’s mentioned, sure, but all we know is that he’s recovering from his injuries and might – at a later point – help Aelin and Dorian. That’s it. He has been successfully erased.

What I didn’t like was the fact that everyone gets paired off in this book. We have Aelin and Rowan (but we knew about that one), Aedion likes the shifter Lysandra, Manon hooks up with Dorian (oh yeah, that was awkward, their half-assed attempt at BDSM, lol), and Elide gets Lorcan, one of Rowan’s fae friends. There’s a very brief mention that Aedion is bisexual, which feels like a poor attempt at having more diverse relationships – but I really missed more info on Manon’s Thirteen, some of whom could have much more interesting sex lives than most of the other characters. There’s this overabundance of alpha males in this series – and there’s a lot said about their past relationships, I think the expression used is that they “gorged on women” at some point, which is just gross. Eh.

You might be wondering at this point why I gave the book three stars/hearts if I disliked it so much. Well, I’d be a liar if I didn’t tell you that I flew through it. It’s nearly 700 pages long and I read it in three days, which is super fast for me these days. Maas writes very readable books, there’s no denying that. I’m also invested enough in her other characters that I want to finish the series to see how their stories end.

I also kind of liked the last twist, Aelin’s backup plan wasn’t half bad (even if she really could have shared it with Rowan and Aedion at least), though I didn’t like all the gods and weird ancestors butting in – it just felt like choices were taken away from characters for no apparent reason. It’s kind of simplistic to say a thing happened “because the gods willed it”, so I hope Maas manages to wrap things up in a more satisfactory manner in the last book.

Oof. Yeah. If you made it this far, kudos to you! :)

zmaj-levo

Have you read Empire of Storms? What did you think?

Do you like the path the series is taking?

I’d love to hear from you! :)

Let’s be friends: emailbloglovin’twitterinstagramgoodreads.

Mad for the Plaid by Karen Hawkins

Mad for the Plaid (The Oxenburg Princes #3) by Karen Hawkins
Published on August 30, 2016 by Pocket Books.

Links: Goodreads.

Source: publisher via NetGalley. Thank you Pocket Books for providing me with an e-copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Genre: historical romance.

My rating:

Nikolai Romanovin, a royal prince of Oxenburg, has travelled to the deepest wilds of Scotland to rescue his grandmother the Grand Duchess, who was abducted while visiting an old friend in the Highlands. Wanting to avoid an international incident, Nik plans to quietly slip into enemy territory disguised as a groom. But his plans go awry when he falls under the cool gray gaze of the laird’s daughter.

Pragmatic and clever, Ailsa MacKenzie has been left in charge of the family estate and her unruly grandmother in her father’s absence. Something about the new groom catches her eyes, and makes her think he’s not who he pretends to be—and even more shockingly, stirs her senses. Is it his obviously educated manners? His arrogant, non-servant-like presence? It’s certainly not his towering, powerful form, or slumberous, inviting green eyes!

After confronting the imposter and learning the truth, Ailsa agrees to help Nik—for she, too, understands difficult relatives and would do anything for family. Soon their secret partnership leads to growing respect, searing kisses, and then something far more perilous. And when their quest turns dangerous, Ailsa and Nik must discover this unknown enemy while facing the dangerous demands of their own unruly hearts.

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I’m a Karen Hawkins fan and though I haven’t reviewed many of her books on the blog (I read most of them before I started blogging, but you can see my thoughts here, here, and here), she’s one author I keep returning to for feel-good romance. Her stories might not be ground-breaking but they always deliver when I’m looking for something sweet and funny and not too angsty (I’ve had it up to here with angsty romances, honestly).

Mad for the Plaid is the third (and last, I think) novel in The Oxenburg Princes series that follows a line of – you guessed it – princes from the imaginary East-European country of Oxenburg, who come to Scotland because of the machinations of their formidable grandmother and fall in love with Scottish ladies. I’ve enjoyed the series a lot, so I was super glad to read the ARC of this one while waiting for my due date to approach.

There’s a small matter of the name of the heroine – my ARC says Ailsa, the Goodreads synopsis says Lyssa, and the NetGalley synopsis sais Mairi. I picked the one that’s closest to me – Ailsa – since it’s the one I read in the book. But if you’re reading this and your version says something else, well, there seems to have been a bit of a misunderstanding. *shrugs*

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I liked Mad for the Plaid. It’s a story of two very different people coming to trust each other while they try to solve a common problem. Nik and Ailsa have completely different opinions on what should be done about it and their stubbornness is probably the biggest hurdle in their relationship.

I enjoyed the slow-burn romance, I never care for insta-love, but I could have done with a bit more fire in both of them, especially Nik. It’s understandable that he keeps his emotions to himself and that he’s more guarded than usual since he’s the crown prince and everyone wants a piece of him (or his power and money), but Ailsa put herself out there, she took a step towards him that he never reciprocated. He was sometimes very adverse to advice and help and there was a lot of talk about how strong a leader he was, yet he didn’t dare lead in his own love life, which is something of a downer.

Ailsa was a capable young woman, so I rooted for her from the beginning. It bothered me a bit that when she spoke of her ambitions and life to Nik, he thought that running her father’s estate was a waste of her life and suggested that she should get married and have children. Um. No. I’m all for romance and marriage and kids (hell, I love all those things, they’re my life), but please don’t talk down to a woman who has been running a whole freaking estate – and quite successfully, too.

I loved the setting, as usual. Hawkins has a way with putting the reader right there in the wilds of Scotland and I always end up wishing I could go camping all around that beautiful country when I read her books. It’s interesting that a lot of her novels involve travel of some sort, I never really thought of that before, but I like this aspect of her writing. So many interesting things can happen while people are on the road!

I’m definitely looking forward to reading her next book, whenever it arrives. A hint at the end of this one makes me wonder whether we’ll be seeing more of the Grand Duchess Natasha and the Oxenburgian court. It wouldn’t be the worst thing, I’d love to hear more about the courtly intrigues. But perhaps staying in Scotland isn’t all that bad, either. :)

srcek

Have you read any of Karen Hawkins’s novels? What did you think?

Do you have any other Highlands romances to recommend (preferably not medieval)?

I’d love to hear from you! :)

Let’s be friends: emailbloglovin’twitterinstagramgoodreads.