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text 2016-08-25 18:44
Waiting for Romeo by Diane Mannino
Waiting for Romeo - Diane Mannino

Tropes: 24

The second book, Waiting for Romeo suffers from the same issues as the first book. A "perfect" heroine. A hero who is barely a character, since his purpose is to tell the heroine how perfect she is, and how she changed his life. It continues with the slut-shaming.It adds some tropes as for the new adult genre, making the story even less original and even more bland. Apart from what mentioned in my review for the first book, this (and the first, too) suffers from uneven pacing (think glacier speed), awkward and lazy writing.

In the second book there is a bit mystery going on, but it's not much of a mystery (I guessed it even in the first book what was to come). Emilia has to face something from her past, but that isn't incorporated into the story until the last 20%, and several things that happened before with other characters are never resolved. The story becomes blander, the characters duller (if possible), and the story never seems to go anywhere, or have any sense of direction.

What I kept thinking while reading the second book was that it should've been one book. The first book barely has a plot, and it moves too slow, and the second is haphazard at best. The author should've written one book: it would've made for a tighter and smoother story and it would've had an actual, solid plot.

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text 2016-08-23 18:30
Running from Romeo by Diane Mannino
Running from Romeo - Diane Mannino

Tropes: 19

Welcome to the newest episode of The Next Been Done Before! Today's episode contains a heroine so beautiful that she can't see it herself even when roughly every guy she meets tells her so. We also have a hero who's most valued characteristic is his piercing eye color and how out of this world handsome he is. For good measure we throw in some deaths in their backgrounds, some martial problems among his or her parents, and something sexual in the past that could cause trauma for one of the main characters (you get two guesses on who!).

Introducing our heroine, Emilia King, a college student who's majoring in Shakespeare. She's perfect. Every guy she meets wants her. They ask her out constantly, and while she claims to not see how beautiful she is and how she doesn't want to go out with them, she never tells them outright no, and then blame them for continuing to ask her out, instead she tells them "some other time" or "not now". You'd think they get the message, but still. She's clumsy.

I am so embarrassed and caught up in the beauty of this man that I blush, trip, and miss the chair.


She's... in denial (given that everyone keeps telling her how beautiful she is).

Who am I kidding? He would never be interested in someone like me. I’m so boring, plain and he’s so…well, out-of-this-world gorgeous.


She's never felt sexual attraction before our hero crosses her path.

This is the first time in my twenty-one years where I’ve ever been interested in a man.


She's different from other girls, because... other girls don't listen to music?

“Most girls are all about Adele. You like the Neon Trees, Mumford and Sons, and the Black Keys. Any other favorites?”


And, of course, she's not like other girls.

“I think it’s safe to say that most girls feel that way, you would be the exception.”

“I suppose I’m not like most girls.”

“Emilia, first of all, no one is perfect. But if anyone is as close to perfection…that would be you.”



Now, for our male lead: Logan Prescott. He's perfect (except for once, and it's only so we'll have a cliffhanger at the end). He, also a college student and a business major, is a rich bachelor who, until meeting Emilia lived only for pleasure.

“You bewitched me. I don’t know how else to explain it. I met you and I realized that only caring about pleasure and instant gratification just made me feel empty, lonely. Does that make sense?”


Add to it, he's out of this world gorgeous (in case you missed the quotes above). Either way, he has a reputation of having multiple sexual partners. A fact that makes him avoid Emilia at first, for her own good, of course. He has the ability to cure Emilia of her nightly terrors by his mere presence after knowing her for roughly two hours. (Noteworthy that years of therapy, support from family and close friends could not manage this.) His most important characteristic, apparently, has nothing to do with his actual personality, though.

"He’s not only drop dead gorgeous but obscenely rich. He’s a keeper, Emilia."


Apart from that, his biggest (and only role) is to tell Emilia that meeting her - not knowing her - changed his life.

“I told you. I was quite careless and out of control for a long time. Meeting you made me want to change. Is that so hard for you to understand?”


By the by, this is also the general plot: Emilia's ability to change Logan's life. Because of this we have her doubting him whenever a woman comes within ten feet of him (which also makes it easy to include some casual slut-shaming). Add in some past trauma - hope you'd already made your guess - she must face it head on by simply being in a relationship with Logan. Which causes her best friend to give contradictory advice more or less all the time. Go out! Don't go out! Live a little! Life will hurt you! And more.

There you have it folks! This was another episode of The Next Been Done Before! 'til next time!

Also, before I forget: Authors, DO NOT use rape for shock value. Do not use it for the sole purpose off getting a (poor excuse for a) cliffhanger. Do not use it as a plot device. Do not "reveal" it on the last page.

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review 2016-07-27 20:05
Finding Dandelion by Lex Martin
Finding Dandelion (Dearest, #2) - Lex Martin

Tropes: 24

“See, there are happily ever afters. Even for assholes like me.”


This quote sums up the entire book. Because, even after everything, the hero is still an asshole.

Finding Dandelion is the second book in the Dearest series, and this time the story focuses on Jax, the heroine from the first book's brother, and Dani, one of the roommates (of the previous heroine's). The second book, much like the first, falls due to its lack of character development and a lack of plot.

Jax meets Dani at a party, unaware that Dani is his sister's new roommate, and Dani is unaware that Jax is her new roommate's brother. Dani, feeling betrayed after her recent breakup decides she's willing to hook up with someone. They see each other at the party and are drawn to each other. When Dani uses Jax to avoid confrotnatoin with her ex, they make out and it soon turns into more. They are interrupted before they go "all the way", and the next time Dani meets Jax, he seems to have no memory of them ever meeting. After hearing Clem, Jax's sister, comment on the girls Jax usually hooks up with, Dani is horrified and doesn't want to be "one of those girls", and says nothing to Jax or Clem. But Jax is attracted to Dani, is intrugied by her, and simply can't get her out of his head. And so their story begin.

Just like the first book, there is basically no plot. It's all focused on how Jax is in constant heat and wants Dani. The other part of the time (Dani's POV) is all about not wanting to be "one of those girls", of still wanting Jax, and not being sure why Jax doesn't appear to remember their night together. It doesn't help that for the first 30% of the book, the author, for some reason, felt the need to rehash part of the first book, with no alteration (apart from being in Jax's and Dani's heads). It adds absolutely nothing to the plot, if anything, it's confusing to the overall story. What did it matter? Why did it matter? It didn't. The story should've started somewhere around the 30% mark, and not sooner. (Of course, the initial meeting could've been there, but it could've replaced the utterly useless prologue this book does have.)

Back to the characters: here's how remembarable they are. I had to look up Dani's name (even though it's hinted at in the title). I had to go through all my updates (and notes) to remember her personality (which she has none). I couldn't even remember what the "big misunderstanding" was. I couldn't remember the part with her mother (which, honestly, is more due to the writing being unable to provoke a single emotion). What my updates (and notes) reminded me was that Dani is a hypocrite. She's sexist. She looks down on women who engages in causal sex.

The girl who grew up watching old Madonna videos wants to embrace my sexual freedom and treat last night cavalierly, but the small part of me who someday wants the house, kids and white picket fence knows what I did last night is not how I’ll achieve those ends.


She's catty. She's jealous. She shames the women who so much as looks at Jax. Of course, she herself is virginal, but the of course changes when she get's a taste of the hero's junk.

That would be the alien who took over my body and turned me into a sex-craved maniac.


Though, even if Dani had been a memorable character, had some personality, the love interest alone is able to drag this book down to one star.

I think if I fuck her, I’ll somehow tarnish her. Because that’s all this’ll be, sex in a dark club, and she’s not the kind of girl I want to use and abuse for one night.


He's lovely, isn't he? Jax is a sexist, misogynist asshole. He admits himself that he's an asshole. He has zero character development. He sexist in the beginning, he's sexist in the end. He shames women in the beginning, he shames them at the end. In his world, there are two types of women: women for sex, and women to marry (kinda).

She’s pretty in a been-there-done-that sort of way.


Women are to use for a man's pleasure. Because girls should learn to please a man in school, whether they want to or not.

Not every girl is good at giving head, but it’s something that should be taught in school along with making pancakes.


The worst part is that there is no reason for Jax to see women this way. Sure, his mother was absent, but he had a sister who was nothing like her mother. He had onegirlfriend in the past who treated him badly. Still, it does not excuse why he'd grow up to view women this way. So, basically, he's just an asshole for no reason. The fact that he uses abuse (see quote above) when thinking about sex says a lot about his view on women (and sex). And, as said, Jax is never called out on it, and he has the same personality throughout the book. Of course, Dani is the exception, the special snowflake that can tame this beast.

Just like in the first book, the friends are not friends. For one thing, we have Jenna (from the first book) spilling secrets all over the place without telling her supposedly best friend. She spills the secret to (practically) a stranger. We have Travis, the stereotypical gay best friend, whose purpose is to push Dani to meet guys.

Basically, this book suffers the same issues the first on did: poor character development, weak plot, sexism, and shaming. The first book I said that the writing was good, decent. In this, there's no emotion provoked by the writing, it's repetitive, and at times awkward.

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review 2016-07-01 10:43
Shadowboxer by Cari Quinn
Shadowboxer - Cari Quinn

New Adult Tropes: 20

“Welcome to this century. Women can do everything men can. Including fight.”


Where to start with Shadowboxer? This book includes so many topics: verbal abuse, domstic abuse, sexual abuse, kidnapping, death of (more than one) family member, prostitution, underground fighting, estranged parents, protecting a younger family member, money troubles, a rich guy feeling sorry for himself, trust issues, slutshaming, misogyny... are you exhausted yet? We'll take it from the start.

Mia is a female underground fighter. She's in it for the money she desperately needs so that she and her younger sister Carly can move away from the city. In the beginning, Mia went into prostitution (oral sex only), but then went into the fighting scene, but is also working at a bar. For months she's been training to set up a fight with the famous underground fighter Tray "Fox" Knox so she can get the money she needs. Tray is the golden boy that got tired of living good life with the money his parents gave him. Tray dropped out of college and went into the underground fighting scene. When a chance meeting have them cross paths, Tray is immediately drawn to Mia in ways he doesn't understand. Mia on the other hand, wants nothing but a fight from Tray. What follows is a long push and pull of Mia wanting Tray, hooking up, and then pushing him away. It goes on for more than half of the book, with little else to add into the plot.

Basically, there's no plot. It's all Mia and her trust issues (which aren't brought up until somewhere around the 40%-60% mark) and Tray endless longing for Mia. This is supposedly a MMA fighter story, but there's almost no fighting going on, only a few mentions of their workouts. There are two big fights looming in the future at the beginning, but neither of them happens. In the end, it's all about their lust for each other. So let's take a look at our main characters. Introducing Mia:

I wasn’t some quivery female caught in the storm of my emotions.


Mia is the heroine with an disdain toward anything female or feminine (which kinda changes once she lets Tray into her life). She's a fighter that can (apparently) take on any fighter, male of female. She comes from a troubled childhood filled with parents dying, and on top of that, she was kidnapped and sexual abused for several months. You'd think this would play a bigger role in this story, but it doesn't (apart from when Tray makes it all about himself). It's brought to light somewhere in the middle of the story, and Mia has two (I think) panic attacks due to memories from her time in captivity. Other than that, it isn't that big a deal, or it doesn't come off as it when in her POV. Once again, New Adult uses sexual abuse as a plot device, and in this case, a backdrop for the romance. It's difficult to care for Mia; she's mean and her (as above mentioned) disdain for female and femininity is cringe worthy.

Now, here's the best of Tray "Fox" Knox:

My knowledge of the thought processes of females was practically nonexistent.

I’d kill for her in reality, maybe because no one else ever had.

“I can deal with Sandra Bullock,” I muttered, grateful that Slater wasn’t around to hear me turn in my man card.


If it's hard to care or like Mia, it's even harder to give a single fuck for Tray. He's the kind of guy that is all don't need my parents or their money, fuck them while still having them pay for his Ivy League college, his apartment, and his new car. Please tell me more about how hard your life is. To be fair, he does come from a family where his father abused (verbally and physically, from what I gather), his mother. And Tray has a policy that a real man never hits a woman. A policy that obviously doesn't apply to his mother, since Tray doesn't really do anything to help his own mother to get out of an abusive relationship. He does however feel the need to protect a female stranger that appears to have been in a fight (Mia) from the second he lays eyes on her. Good guy, right?

Moving on. When he finds out that Mia was kidnapped and sexually abused and later prostituted herself, he somehow makes it all about himself.

How could I be ready to listen to her talk about being hurt? How could I ever let her put her mouth on me and not think she was imagining a money transaction afterward?


Add in the usual, Mia's not like other girls, deserves better than an alley fuck, and the usual "my girl is a special snowflake" mentality, you have Tray. (I'd mention the secondary characters, but they were all flat and boring, they're barely worth mentioning.)

Moving on to the fighting aspect. It's ridiculous. Throughout the book, there's the theme that Mia is the best fighter ever. Tray describes her as tiny, but fit. She's feet shorter than him, and he outweighs her greatly. Yet, she thinks she can take him in a fight. How? No clue. Look, I agree with the initial quote: women can do anything men can, but there are limits. Biologically, men are (generally) stronger, taller, heavier. A trained male fighter will 99% of the time win over a female fighter. That's biology, nothing you can do about it. The last 1% is all about luck and coincidence. Nothing in the story indicates that Mia is delusional otherwise, but this is both delusional, and frankly, a bit suicidal. I believe this story would've done better (on the fighting aspect) if it had focused on the difference between male and female sports, especially society's view on it.

Going back to Mia's past abuse and prostitution. There's a huge gap about how her life after she escpaed her kidnapper/abuser and the present. Why did she enter prostitution? How did she do it? How old was she? How did she reason? Because she had a job (bartender), how bad was it for that she felt the need to prostitute herself? Or was she of the mentality that prostitution is just another job? It's never explained. There's also little time over for dealing with her past abuse, both in the past and in the present. As it is, it reads like it is Tray's magical dick that somehow saves her, which is an angle one should never take in fiction. It is insulting to victims of sexual abuse to keep up this mentality that a man (or woman) can cure you from the trauma by sex. It should be with professional help and support from trusted and loved ones.

Last, apart from all mentioned above, the writing is very amateurish. Tray for example, has two different sides: the one we see in his POV and the one from Mia's. They are at times almost two different people, who speaks and thinks differently. Add in awkward and painful methafors such as this one:

By the time Mia emerged in her sports bra and a pair of tiny bike shorts that made her ass look like a pair of puffed-up marshmallows suspended on two sexy sticks, I was considering a number of sexual harassment suits.


To sum up this book: poor execution and no sensitivity when it comes to heavy topics.

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review 2016-03-22 18:43
Boundless by Cynthia Hand
Boundless - Cynthia Hand

This is like Penryn & the End of Days series all over. Okay, not quite, because I still liked the second book in that series whereas I detested the second on in this series. In both cases though, in the last book, morals were shoved down the reader's throat in a way that the previous books hadn't. Let me explain, but first a quick summary of the last book in the Unearthly series.

In Boundless Clara is back and the (supposed) suspense is trapping up. There's talk about a war. Clara struggles with her feelings for Christian and her own purpose. Angela, in the meanwhile, is acting strange. All in all though, the last book of the series is lacking in suspense (all twists are obvious from the go). It's boring with its predictability. What should've been a big part of this story (the only interesting part) is severed down to around thirty pages.

But that's not what I want to talk about, not really. In book two, the religious aspects were increased, as well as the accompanying morals this brings. Now, before anyone jumps to Christianity's defense, I personally believe everyone is entitled to their own beliefs and I know not all Christians are the same and have the same morals and/or values. That said, in Boundless stereotypical Christian morals are glaringly present. Saving oneself for marriage. A girl having sex for the first time with a fling ends up pregnant. Non-believers are presented as immoral, with tattoos and little clothing. A female angel's purpose in life can be to bear a child. Or, given these quotes:

"You healed him until you passed out, until you stopped breathing yourself for a few seconds, and then Jeffrey thumped him on the chest a few times, gave him a couple of puffs that I’m sure neither of them will ever want to talk about again, and he came back."

“We’re not—” I sigh. “It’s complicated. We don’t want to be together because somebody told us that we have to be.”
“And by ‘somebody’ you mean God, right?”
Of course it sounds insanely arrogant of me, insisting on a relationship on my own terms, when she puts it like that.


Along with some events in the first and second book, it's hard to overlook this. Not to mention that when the ending comes, the heroine relies on, not one, but two male MCs to help her save the day. In the first case, she needs one's strength to find her own. Yeah, not quite a great message to send to young girls. Hey, to be strong you'll need a strong man to help you find your strength. The second time, it's love that saves the day. Meaning that, if the heroine had not loved the male hero, she wouldn't be able to save them. Basically, in the end, the heroine wouldn't actually be able to do something on her own without her two male companions. Given that Clara is described as perfect, doesn't this send quite the message? Even a perfect young woman can't save herself and her friends without help from a man.

A poor ending to what could've been a good trilogy.

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