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review 2015-12-17 22:56
The Arrangement
The Arrangement - Thayer King

I take points away for what is essentially a set up that doesn't feel very credible. But overall this was a quick, fun read.

Ari and Ash are friends who have known each other forever but have Ari has kept firmly Ash in the friendzone despite Ash's broad hints he'd completely like to do her.

Ari's boyfriend dumped her for her scheming cousin and the two cheaters plan to announce their engagement at Ari's family's big ass family reunion.

Asher's father is running for Governor and Ash has a bit of a bad boy rep. He's basically a player.

Ari is not looking forward to being the recipient of pity looks at the reunion plus dealing with her cousin's smugface.

Ash needs some rep rehab ASAP!

Hey. let's get married! Temporarily! And, what the heck, let's have lots of sex too!

So they do.

What really saves this book for me is the ridiculous chemistry between Ari and Ash. And actually I liked Ash's not-so-hidden long-time devotion to Ari.

Ari loses a few of those points for being so blind and obstinate at times.

And Good lord, the amount of enabling Ari gives to her best friend Erika re: her crush of Ash is rather dumb. Erika is not only Ari's best friend but she is married to Ash's best friend. However she has always had a thing... supposedly nostalgic... for Ash. It is one thing to have a benign crush on a hot guy, even if you are married. But Erika's "crush" is a little more proactive than that -- she actually attempts to sabotage any hint of non-platonic relationship between Ari and Ash . Rather than being disturbed by this, the other three seem to be rather indulgent about her feels. Yeah, no. I'd be like 'Bitch, you're married. Deal with your inappropriate feelings in a more appropriate way."

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review 2015-12-17 22:50
At Blade's Edge
At Blade's Edge (Goddess With a Blade) - Lauren Dane

The second book Blade to the Keep - Lauren Dane  remains my favorite of the series so far, but this one is a great rebound after what I felt was a weaker third book.

In this one, we are in the aftermath of Rowan having killed the evil Vampire Witch Goddess Enyo who left Rowan for dead at the end on the second book. But in hunting down and eradicating Enyo ((in the 3rd book  Blade on the Hunt (Goddess With a Blade Book 3) - Lauren Dane) , Rowan has discovered a rot deep in the Hunter Corp, the company that has been like a family to her and that has held her loyalty for years. The corruption has bummed her to the point where she is seriously thinking about leaving the company.

Now she is married to Hot ( but stuffily British) Vampire Clive, is settled in London to meet his parents, and also gearing up to formally solemnify their union with her father as is required by the Vampire Nation. So she is at a bit of a crossroads. She wants to root out the corruption in the Hunter Corp, kill the traitors, and make a final decision on her future with the company.

This was fun and a little less frenetic than the previous book. I liked Rowan in this one. She is just realizing what it means to be married and is starting to adjust a bit into her new role as wife, while still remaining laser focused on her mission to expose and kill the conspirators in the Corp. But Rowan is still Rowan -- mouthy, snarky and ready to cut someone's throat in a quick minute just cuz she's cranky like that.

Clive, even though he is suave and awesome, is also shown to be trying to fit into his role as Rowan's husband and what that really means on a day-to-day basis now that it is a reality. Being who they are and what they represent is bigger than just a being in love with each other. Their union brings huge political baggage (and rewards) that affect Hunter, Humans and the Vampire Nation. On a shallow note, he reminds me of a supernatural, upperclass British, more reserved version of Roarke from JD Robb's In Death series.

We meet his parents and his mother is .... interesting. I won't say more because part of the enjoyment of the book is discovering his mother.

A new character is introduced who feels like she is going to take up permanent (or long term) residency in the series. I rather liked her.

David and Alice, Rowan and Clive's super-efficient assistants remain their normal bad ass selves.

The book deepens the overall story arc of some shadowy group trying to destabilize the treaty that has kept the peace between Hunters & Vamps that we first get a hint of with The BloodFront group and Enyo earlier. But whoever is involved is even more in the shadows and has raised the stakes for Rowan personally. The book ends on a very shocking , abrupt and rather brutal note.

Very much looking forward to seeing what comes next.

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review 2015-11-01 22:21
Cree
CREE - LaShawn Vasser,Melissa S. Harrison

This is a new-to-me author who, on the basis of this book, I will look for more of her work.

In this book the couple is already married and very much in love.  So where is the conflict?  Well distance for one.  Cree is at their hometown in a southern a small town working three jobs to help put Cam through school, while he is in New York pursuing medical school.  That sort of monetary stress is difficult enough but when you add in a long distance marriage, well it amplifies.

I also liked the other, more ephemeral stresses... over the years more than miles have distanced them.  Cam has assimilated into New York culture and seems to be moving forward in life while Cree is slowly coming to the dawning realization that life might be passing her by.  I thought there were a lot of nice character beats, especially from Cree's perspective.  She comes to several realizations about herself and her marriage which I thought were realized in a nicely organic way.  The author did a good job of making us feel Cree's insecurities and her disconnectedness from Cam.  It wasn't some big dramatic thing but rather cumulative thing.

Also, to the author's credit, she didn't pull any cheap stunts.  The conflicts to the marriage were internal mostly.  There were some external stresses but this was primarily a book about them as people.

Since the book is really mostly Cree's perspective it is very easy to sympathize with her.  There were one or two moments you wanted to smack Cam, but on the whole he was a decent guy who was devoted to his wife but she was sometimes as much of a stranger to him as he was to her.  The difference is Cree confronts it and Cam just wants everything to be ok and doesn't understand why it just isn't.

There is an incident that brings a lot of things to a head.  I felt very bad for both of the characters in the aftermath, but liked where the story went later.

If I had a criticism of the book I would say that I thought Cree negative feelings & misgivings about New York became a bit of a self fulfilling prophecy.  She was dead set against being there so she didn't even try to make a life there.  She realized that everything about her was too closely defined to her marriage, but if there was one place where you could potentially find something for yourself it is New York. I think the book would have been stronger if those scenes were expanded and maybe showed Cree getting more comfortable & starting to appreciate the opportunities available to her before the incident occurs that sends her back home.  I think the impact would have been greater.

Also I thought Cree & Cam's -- reconnection -- felt rushed.  I think it would have benefited from more page space.  The pacing of the book felt like we took time with Cree's realization that her relationship with Cam and with herself had changed, but the "fix" in the end felt too quick.

I thought the writing was strong and flowed easily.  I was very quickly immersed and invested in this relationship.

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review 2014-10-10 09:37
Refreshing and not only because it's set on tropical islands
Jala's Mask - Mike Grinti,Rachel Grinti

Just one glance at the cover of Jala’s Mask hints that this book will not be the usual fantasy novel. Cover gives us tropical tribe vibe and no medieval looking castle, metal armor or swords in sight. And, trust me, the cover does not make empty promises.

 

Set on a group of tropical islands, Jala’s Mask stands out in a row of boring same-old fantasy novels. The people of Five-and-One Islands are fierce and reminded me of Ironborns from A Song Of Ice And Fire. They are pirates who attack ships and coastal towns for loot. To them, this is not regarded as stealing, it’s the way of life.

 

But while Ironborns are all stone and rigid rules, culture Mike and Rachel Grinti invented is full of colors, exotic birds, dances by the fire and interesting customs. And don’t get me started about ships! Five-and-One islanders grow their ships out of corals… I won’t talk about the details, because I want for you to experience all the fun of this new culture by yourself.

 

Jala’s Mask is centered mostly on Jala, a young girl from noble family raised with a hope that she will be a queen one day. And, surprise, surprise young king Azi picks her (although maybe not for the expected reasons). Jala dreamed to be a queen ever since she was a little girl. But will reality fulfill her expectations? When she needs to act will she do what is good for her family, her people or hide in the corner?

She hated that, hated feeling confused and hurt and lost. Better to just jump in and hope everything worked out. Well, maybe not always better. But easier.

Jala’s decisions might not be always be right, but they are never boring. She is not afraid to try. She proves that she is strong and resourceful woman.

 

A lot of other characters seem pale and shallow compared to Jala, even her husband King Azi. I would have loved to find out more about them. For example, her father was most intriguing character. But since this book is a standalone fantasy novel (a rare beast indeed) I will not complain… much.

 

The only other person who stood out for me, beside Jala is her childhood best friend Marjani. This is awesome for so many reasons. First because strong female friendships without malice are rare in books. Second because Marjani is kinda having a crush on Jala. LGBT theme is handled extremely well and feels like part of normal live on the islands. Same sex marriages are nothing uncommon.

 

In The End…

When you are bored with fantasy novels with medieval vibe, Jala’s Mask will be a quick break from the usual. Lovely tropical islands and their charming inhabitants will be like a breath of fresh air. And since it’s a standalone, you don’t need to worry about a sequel. Although there is a chance you will keep an eye out for next book by Mike & Rachel Grinti.

 

Recommended if you like fantasy novels with dark-skined characters, island setting, pirates, royals, conspiracies, …

 

Disclaimer: I received this ebook from publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Source: www.bookwormdreams.com/book-review-jalas-mask-by-mike-grinti-rachel-grinti-2
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review 2014-08-27 11:08
This retelling of Beauty and Beast was not up to my taste
Beauty's Beast - Amanda Ashley

Beauty and The Beast is my favorite Disney cartoon. Grumpy heroes are always so cute and Beast won my heart when he gave a library as a gift to Belle. So, whenever I stumble upon the retelling of this tale I am excited because I hope it will have that same spark, that same magic that will make me hum:
Tale as old as time, song as old as rhyme…

On the surface Beauty’s Beast is a perfect retelling of the famous fairytale. Eric is cursed by a witch to slowly transform into the beast.
To fulfill a promise to his dead father and not die without an heir, he gets married to a young girl Kristine who is sentenced for murder. Kristine is so grateful to Eric for saving her from the death sentence and she tries to be a good wife to him. Slowly they fall in love…

What can go wrong? A lot of things:

1.) Since Eric is bent on having an heir pronto, he immediately starts to have sex every night with Kristine. She dutifully and silently lies. At the beginning a lot of times it’s bordering with rape for me.

2.) Descriptions of sex had a lot of archaic descriptions that belong to vintage historical romance novels.
"Desire rose within him, a desire to bury himself within her."
"Her womanly scent rose up to tantalize him, stirring his blood, his desire."
A lot of times I was not sure if Ashley Adams wrote about sex or farming.
"He would go to her tonight and plant his seed within her. If there was any mercy in the world, his seed would take root and he could leave here, leave her."

These two facts made my reading of Beauty’s Beast a boring and irritating task. I kept on reading hoping for some glorious moment that will make all my suffering worthwhile. For a glimpse of true Beauty and The Beast magic to appear. But it never happened.

There were a lot of things that could have won me over:
1. Eric’s fear about losing his humanity as the transformation to beast happens. Fear that he will lose his memories…
2. A lot of my favorite romantic scenes from Beauty and The Beast cartoon were recreated: he saving her from the wolves, she nursing his wounds, …
3. Paranormal elements in story, with witches and wizards and magic. Things go crazy & exciting as the conclusion is near…

But no. All Beauty’s Beast succeeded is to make me gnash my teeth and yell in my mind.
- At Kristine for being submissive, for not standing up for herself from the start.
- At Eric for sleeping with her and enjoying it, although he was conscious she didn’t want it.
- At Amanda Ashley for the outdated writing style.

At the end all I can say is – well at least it is over. But I don’t think I will have enough courage to brave another book by Amanda Ashley again.

Recommended only for fans of bodice ripper historical romance novels who don’t mind that there are witches and other magic in the story. This Beauty and The Beast retelling is not for all fairy tale lovers. Approach with caution.

Disclaimer: I received this ebook from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Source: www.bookwormdreams.com/book-review-beautys-beast-by-amanda-ashley
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