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review 2018-03-13 05:37
Review for Knox (Out of the Cage #3) by Lane Hart
Knox (Out of the Cage #3) - Lane Hart

What an adorable, sensitive, dork Knox turned out to be! I’ve read all three books in the series and I can’t really say he’s my favorite but he is definitely the sweetheart of the three!

In this third and final installment we get to know more about Knox and how he ended up at the house with the other kids. His backstory was not as tragic as the other’s however I think it made him more endearing and sweet. The romantic story actually takes place parallel to the two previous books so I definitely recommend reading them before jumping to this one.


I’m not really sure how to feel about Jade. There were some issues with her character that just didn’t click with me. Some of the things she did and said felt out of sync with the woman she was supposed to be. Nevertheless, the attachment she and Knox formed felt genuine and honest, so even if it all started as insta-lust, by the end of the book I could definitely tell there would be much love and respect between them.


***** This book contains what I consider a very graphic description of non-consensual sex, which in my book means rape, so heads up. *****


I received this book at no cost to me and I volunteered to read it; this is my honest opinion and given without any influence by the author or publisher.

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review 2018-03-11 18:28
A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole
A Princess in Theory: Reluctant Royals - Alyssa Cole

Naledi (Ledi) Smith has been on her own for most of her life, bounced around in foster care after her parents were killed in a car crash. Now she's a grad student with multiple jobs and a supposedly upcoming epidemiology internship that she still hasn't been contacted about. The spam emails she keeps getting that say she's betrothed to a Prince Thabiso from some country called Thesolo do not amuse her.

As it turns out, the emails aren't spam. Prince Thabiso has been looking for his betrothed for years. He hopes to find her and either bring her back to Thesolo or finally convince himself that they aren't soulmates the way he'd been told as a child they were. His assistant, Likotsi, tracks her down, but their first meeting doesn't go anything like Thabiso expected it would. Ledi mistakes him for a new waiter named Jamal, and rather than clear up the misunderstanding, Thabiso decides to just go with it. He'll get to see how Ledi behaves around him when she's unaware that he's royalty, and being a waiter can't be that hard, right? (Ha!)

I pre-ordered this because both the cover and publisher's description made it look cute and fun. A contemporary romance in which an ordinary woman learns she's actually a princess sounded like it'd be right up my alley.

The setup was excellent, and the sample "spam" emails made me laugh. I loved Ledi, who was afraid to let her guard down and who worked so hard and was still worried that none of it would be enough. She relaxed her guard around Thabiso a bit more quickly than I would have expected, although that could have been due to the way he subconsciously reminded her of things from her childhood.

Plus, Thabiso had some great moments. He listened to and remembered the things she said. Because he knew she was always taking care of herself and everyone else, he tried to set up times that were solely about her and taking care of her. The bit with the grilled cheese sandwiches was cute (although the way the next chapter started made me think he'd accidentally burned the apartment down).

I winced every time he put off telling Ledi the truth, although I could usually understand his reasons for doing so. There was one scene that really bothered me, though. He arrived at Ledi's apartment, fully intending to tell her the truth, only to have her start kissing him. He wasn't so overwhelmed by her kisses that he couldn't think - he actually did slow things down enough that he could have stopped everything and told her right then. Instead, they had sex, he worried that she'd call him Jamal, and he figured he'd tell her sometime after they were done. It made it seem like he cared more about having sex than he did about Ledi.

This part upset me so much that I spent the rest of the book mentally rewriting it. I came up with a couple alternatives that would have still led to Ledi being hurt and angry enough for the rest of the book to happen, but would have made Thabiso a little less horrible. Unfortunately, the scene happened the way it happened. Cole dealt with it by having Thabiso make Ledi an offer she couldn't refuse, something that would force her to spend enough time with him that she'd eventually soften towards him and forgive him. She did, of course, and I could understand why, for the most part. Unfortunately, I never quite forgave him.

Although I was upset with Thabiso in the second half of the book, I still really loved the "royal life" scenes. Ledi's trip to the airport, in particular, was great. I loved her meetings with family members - I wonder if Nya will ever get her own book? - and I was glad that Thabiso defended Ledi whenever his mother started to act horrible.

For the most part, this was a really good book. It would have been an excellent one if it hadn't been for the last "trying (but not really) to tell her the truth" scene, which unfortunately slightly soured the rest of the book. Oh, and one little slightly spoiler-y complaint: why did Ledi, who should have known better,

keep taking pills without ever once asking (or even wondering) what was in them?

(spoiler show)

I'm going to wait and see what reviews say about the next book before deciding whether to get it. I'm iffy about Portia, Ledi's friend and the next book's heroine. Almost every time Portia was mentioned, Ledi worried about the amount she drank and whether spending time with her would mean more work and anxiety than relaxation. A Princess in Theory ended with her in therapy and hopefully drinking less, but I'm still wary. Meanwhile, I'm crossing my fingers for a future book starring Likotsi, Thabiso's well-dressed lesbian assistant.


(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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review 2018-02-25 19:14
I Am Here! (manga, vol. 1) by Ema Toyama, translated by Joshua Weeks
I Am Here! Omnibus Vol. 01 - 遠山 えま,Ema Tōyama

This is actually an omnibus collection of the first three volumes of the series. Hikage Sumino is an eighth grader who'd like nothing more than to have friends like other people do. Unfortunately for her, she's practically invisible. Even when people notice that she's in the room, they soon forget she's there. It isn't just people her own age who don't see her - adults constantly forget she exists too. She's been left behind on field trip days, ignored in restaurants, and even hit by someone on a moped when she tried to help a cat. The only times she seems to truly exist are when she's taking care of the sunflower she's been growing and when she's blogging. She has two regular commenters who encourage her: Black Rabbit and Mega Pig.

When two of the school's most popular boys, Hinata and Teru, talk to her, it starts to look like maybe Hikage can finally have her time in the sun. First, however, she must struggle against her own introversion and low self-esteem, as well as jealous classmates.

I might have liked this a lot more if I weren't a longtime manga reader. As it was, I could think of several series this reminded me of, and most of those were better. The one that came foremost to my mind, for example, was Kimi ni Todoke, which had a more believable setup and more enjoyable heroine. Toyama pushed Hikage's invisibility a bit too hard and ended up making it seem almost like some kind of unfortunate superpower. People literally didn't see her, or forgot she was there even if she was within view. Only Hinata and Teru were exempt from her powers, at least until Toyama decided that it was necessary for some of Hikage's female classmates to hate her.

The bit with the jealous girl was cliched but not necessarily bad, although, again, I preferred the similar storyline in Kimi ni Todoke because of the way it tied in with the main character's first female friendships. In this series, Hikage just went from no real-life friends to actually talking to someone for the first time and almost immediately getting dumped on by jealous girls. The scene where everyone

suddenly stood by her when she finally defended herself

(spoiler show)

was nice, but felt a bit forced.

The way the volume ended indicated that the second and final omnibus will deal with the identity of Hikage's "anonymous" online friends. Since they're almost certainly

Hinata and Teru

(spoiler show)

, I'm more interested in finding out how Hikage reacts and how they learned that "Sunflower" was Hikage. I somehow doubt that Toyama will ever explain how, out of all the blogs in existence, they became commenters on a supposedly anonymous blog written by

one of their classmates

(spoiler show)


I got the feeling that Toyama didn't have much of a concept of just how big the Internet is. The first volume of the series was originally published in 2007, so it isn't like this was written in the early days of blogging and the Internet. Toyama also didn't always think through how certain scenes were supposed to work. For example, if

Hinata was Black Rabbit, how did he comment on Hikage's blog minutes/seconds before knocking on her door? The characters in this series only had flip phones. Was it possible to use flip phones to comment on blogs? (I only ever used mine as a phone and an alarm clock, so maybe that was a function I didn't know about.)

(spoiler show)

Although this was pretty mediocre, it did remind me of my first blog, which I started back when I was in the midst of my post-grad school job hunt. It wasn't a good time in my life, and my blog was meant to serve as both a way to keep track of what I was doing to make myself a better job candidate and as an emotional outlet. In real life, I talked to maybe a handful of people a week, my parents and my supervisor and coworkers at my part-time job, and the longer I went without being able to give them good news about my job hunt the worse I felt. Unfortunately, I also felt like I couldn't talk about most of what I was feeling. My blog gave me a place where I could vent a little without worrying that I was upsetting anyone around me.

Amazingly, I got several frequent commenters and, as far as I can remember, every single one of them was kind and supportive. If you were one of the commenters on my first blog, I'd like to take this opportunity to thank you. You all helped me so much.


There are various author sidebars, plus two pages of extra comics that take a humorous look at Hikage's invisibility. The sidebars reveal that Toyama had similar issues with going so unnoticed at her school that her own classmates didn't know who she was, although she admits that it wasn't on the same level as Hikage's invisibility.


(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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review 2018-02-24 22:56
Forbidden Song (Hearts of Metal Book 5) by Brooklyn Ann
Forbidden Song (Hearts of Metal Book 5) - Brooklyn Museum

This is the fifth book in the Hearts of Metal series but I promise it can definitely be read as a standalone. I know this because I’ve only read the previous book yet I never felt lost. 
I love how the author was able to weave so many characters into one book without making it feel convoluted. All of them felt true to their nature, including “slutty” Cliff, who can still be a jerk at times but now that we start seeing things from his POV it’s impossible not to have feelings for the guy. Christine’s independent spirit causes more trouble than not but even so she was a lovable character because it was not mischief what drove her but an honest will to live her own life. 

I felt this book centered more around the dynamics of the band’s members and their personal struggles, but even so it did not lack in the romance department. Christine and Cliff’s relationship may take a backseat at times but it’s always present throughout the book. Their emotions are all palpable and when they were together it was all but fire on the pages! The mix of drama and funny, laugh-out-loud moments made this book pretty enjoyable. And the fact that we get to visit with all of the other bands, including Rage of Angels (from the Bride of Prophecies series) makes it a memorable one as well. In short, I think this story is the perfect tease because if anyone picks this one up before the previous books in the series will want to get them all and start reading them asap. 

***I received this book at no cost to me and I volunteered to read it; this is my honest opinion and given without any influence by the author or publisher.***

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review 2018-02-24 22:52
No Earls Allowed (The Survivors #2) by Shana Galen~ 4 of 5 stars
No Earls Allowed (The Survivors) - Shana Galen

Neil is sent on a new mission: bring Lady Juliana back home after she’s spent months away taking care of orphan children. What was supposed to be an in-and-out kind of mission turned out to be the life changing event that neither Neil nor Lady Juliana had planned on. 

The story was a riot and a half. Neil is the kind of man that may seem reserved but in reality is pretty laid-back. I liked that he knew what to do, when to do it, and best way to go about facing a new challenge. Even though Juliana was pretty inexperienced in everything she set her mind to, she was no simpleton and faced everything with as much mettle as she could muster.

The plot itself was unpredictable and unique. I mean, I don't think I've read about ladies accepting rats for pets of their children (ee-ew, eewww, EEEWWWW!). The children were sweet and good-natured, even those that rebelled and may had caused some trouble because of their circumstances showed great character. I for one don't like reading much about children but when they are written with as much heart and wit then I will take them any time! Juliana and Neil simmered in passion for each other but didn't take their relationship to the next level until they knew for sure that's what they both wanted. And when it happened it was sublime, real, and oh, so sweet. I always complain about authors creating this far-fetched, earth-shattering event when the couple makes love for the first time because although nice to read, is it really like that in real life? I thought the author did a great job here giving me a more realistic, couple-in-love moment. 
I also loved that all the survivors made an appearance. We dug farther into the lives of some of them and we get to see more of Ewan, my boyfriend from the first book-- I mean the hero from the first book in the series. The story had a villain that didn't get to play much of a villain however his presence gave the survivors plenty to do and caused Juliana lots of headaches and heartaches. If anything I would have liked Juliana's growth to be more palpable but it was more on paper than in her character. All in all it was a great read that left me wanting more. 

** I was gifted a copy of this book and I volunteered to read it; this is my honest opinion and given without any influence by the author or publisher. **

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