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review SPOILER ALERT! 2015-10-05 01:35
Some "kinky fuckery" here, mixed with some crappy writing and an irresponsible omission.
A Marriage of Inconvenience (The Attic Series) (Volume 1) - Elise Hepner

So a friend of mine on facebook (who shall remain nameless, mostly because I haven't told her yet that she owes me $2.95 for the cost of this book) shared a truly excellent book ad the other day.  There was a beautiful shot of a man's arm in a french-cuffed white shirt, a heroine named Izobel, and a quote that was straight out of "Alpha/Dom speeches 101".  It had me.  And when my friend said she'd had a look at the sample and it was promising, that was all it took for me.  CLICK. 


And two hours later?  I'm done the book, I'm annoyed, borderline offended, and thinking that was $2.95 and two hours of my life I'll never get back. 


This should have been good.  Elise Hepner has taken two of my favourite tropes (marriage of convenience and best friends boinking) and mashed them up with a measure of kink thrown in for good measure.  Pretty standard for a contemporary romance these days, and I was looking forward to reading what this author's take on these standards would be.             


What I got was a disjointed, choppy, cheat of a story, with two-dimensional characters and flat dialogue.  The entire premise of the book was based on a need for the marriage in the first place, and 3/4 of the way through the book the premise is erased - just like that - and never mentioned again.  Not only that, but an icky, almost offensive connection between BDSM and the hero witnessing his mother's murder that had me thinking someone needed to take Bash to a psychologist, and quick.


Izzy and Bash have been friends forever (except for that time between middle school and high school that they weren't, and really who cares, but the author thought we should so she stuck in a weird flashback to start her story) and apparently Izzy is in love with Bash.  Don't know why really, even with all the telling the author does.  I never got the connection between them, never saw the foundation for what was to come. 


Somehow we are able to determine that Izzy's mom has cancer, is quite ill, and is in hospital having chemo.  Also somehow, through the garbled conversations and inner-voice meanderings of these two, we are told that Bash and Izzy have decided somehow to get married to make her happy before she dies. They share a couple of heated kisses at the hospital and somehow there is a wedding ceremony.


The wedding night doesn't happen, as Bash takes off from the romantic, rose-petal-strewn hotel suite and goes to some Dom/Sub club called The Attic where Izzy catches up with him in a "scene".  Then the book got weird.  For me, anyway.


There are flashbacks to Bash's mom's death - at the hands of a boyfriend who beat her for his own pleasure - which has somehow molded Bash's sexual proclivities.  This was where things got creepy for me.  I don't mind a little bit of BDSM in my books;  I've read that stupid 50 Shades, and virtually every contemporary you pick up nowadays has a hero who likes a bit of rough play.  What I DON'T like is when the hero is described as having a "not-so-secret love of BDSM", but his behaviour as portrayed by the author is closer to that of a sadist.  He considers himself a monster, and tells Izzy so. 


It just got worse for me after that.  Their first sexual encounter is rough, and Bash spanks the shit out of her.  For a first-timer, I found it a teeensy bit hard to believe that all it took for her was a bottle of champagne and a couple of hours surfing bondage porn on the internet to discover that she was really a sub and wanted to be bruised during sex.


And when he takes her to the club where they ARE the scene?  That was where the author lost me.  He puts her head in a STOCK for crissakes, flogs her, puts on nipple clamps and yanks on the chains, has some big-time anal involving a dildo (after never even having TALKED about that type of sex), drips hot wax all over her and jerks off onto her back. That's pretty serious for only her second time having that type of sex.  And also?  No mention of a safe word.  At any time.


Now, I'm not much of a serious student of BDSM but I've learned a couple of things since "the book that shall remain nameless" came out:


1)            BDSM seems to be all about the sub's pleasure.  The dom gets pleasure from giving pleasure to the sub, the sub relinquishes all control to the dom. Of course, that's pretty simplistic as I believe there is a lot of stuff about control, blurring the line between pain and pleasure, anticipation and most of all TRUST involved in that type of thing.  None of that was done here.  Bash seemed to have a need to cause pain (for some unclear, creepy, psychologically-fucked-up reason) and Izzy seemed to think that she would endure whatever she needed to because she loved him (and OH! she discovers that she likes it.)


2)            YOU NEED TO HAVE A SAFE WORD.  If I've got my head and wrists in a fucking stock, you've put clamps on my nipples and decide to splash melted wax on me, you better fucking believe there should be a word for me to scream at you to let you know I've had enough.  I would have thought this was basic, and I'm surprised that an author of erotica would overlook this.  It's irresponsible, IMHO.


There were other problems I had with the book as well - in addition to the bait-and-switch with her mother's illness (aw shucks! They switched the biopsies! I'm really fine and not dying and probably didn't need all the chemo I just had!)  Bash is referred to as a workoholic by Izzy. Um, doing what? Don't think he went in to work during the entire span of the book. He drives an expensive car, and dresses well, but doesn't every contemp romance dude? And what does she do? Details, that's what was missing.  Substance, depth,  character, emotions.  Wasn't feeling it.


As a matter of fact, I wasn't feeling anything by the end other than somewhat annoyed.  And wondering if I actually did practice BDSM, how PO'd I would be at the portrayal of my "likes" in the bedroom being linked in a novel to a boy watching his mother being beaten to death by a sadist because it pleased him.  I also wondered if Jenny Trout has read this - and what she would have to say if she did.


Can't recommend this one.  I didn't buy the romance, I didn't buy the characters, and I sure a s*** didn't buy the dom/sub aspect (although what I will say is that those scenes contained the best writing in the novel). And where was the frigging SAFE WORD????


1 1/2 stars, rounded up.

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review 2014-03-28 20:59
Attack on Titan Vol. 2
Attack on Titan, Volume 2 - Hajime Isayama

Mikasa and Eren have already moved into a high ranking of favorite characters, bestest best friends, ultimate badasses, and my darling babies you touch them and you die.

Mikasa's backstory (my fave part) is heart-wrenching but the scarf, while also likely to break your heart into a bunch of tiny little pieces, will simultaneously make you shriek a small shriek of joy. You'll see.

Still not a huge fan of the art, especially since a good number of the action scenes are nearly impossible to tell what's actually going on. Me and my sister were reading it together and we'd get to the action scenes and squint, comment "There's something actiony going on here. Some blood, guts, gore, movement, swinging, oooh, Mikasa, scribbles," etc. I vastly prefer the art from Full Metal Alchemist but then again, that art style wouldn't work for Attack on Titan. Still...



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review 2013-12-27 16:41
Damn you ending for not letting this book be the best thing ever
Cruel Beauty - Rosamund Hodge

I do like a wife with a little malice in her heart.


I was really excited to read this book because it would be my first Beauty and the Beast retelling. It did not disappoint. In fact it was wonderful and would have easily been one of my favorites of the year had it not ended the way it did.


Now I am a huge Disney fan. I love my princesses and I love my fairy tales and I love my HEAs but this book is so different from a typical Disney movie yet it manages to maintain that magical atmosphere that fills you with joy and makes you want to sing.  


This is a story about a girl upon who the fate of a kingdom depends. A girl who has been raised to know she will die. A girl who has been raised to kill a beast.


Nyx is the female lead I’ve been looking for a long long time. She is real. She is not portrayed as some sort of hero even though that is kind of what she is. She is not a nice girl who is excited about giving up her life to save the kingdom. Hell she wants to live. She hates her sister (while simultaneously loving her) because she gets to live while Nyx has to sacrifice her life. Her sister is the loved daughter, the naïve sheltered one while she is the one whose aunt gave her advice on how to have sex with her soon to be husband. She hates her father but she still wishes that he felt some regret for what he was condemning her to. She has ‘poison’ in her heart. She isn’t a sweet girl, she can be cruel, she is clever and will use your weaknesses against you if it'll help her but in spite of this she is still capable of being nice. Underneath all her bavardo she IS a girl who is scared, a girl who doesn’t want to die, a girl who wants to be loved even though she isn’t perfect.


Ignifex was incredibly charming. You cannot help but fall for him, even when he is the enemy. I think what’s most interesting about him is that he can charm your pants off even when he is not actually a good guy. He never actually acts in a way that would label him an asshole though, he is just, a mystery. How do you define evil? What he does makes him a bad guy but are the people who come asking him for favors any better themselves?  People, who are selfish, people who think they deserve the best of everything. These aren’t innocent people who go to him asking for favors, so is he evil for making them suffer? Or is he not?


The romance between the two is swoon worthy. The Disney fan in me had tears in her eyes half the time. They accept each other for who they are, they don’t expect the other to change. It takes a while for them to get there but they do, they do get there and it’s worth the journey.


Cruel Beauty is a refreshingly original novel. It takes two of my favorite ‘genres’, fairy tale retellings and mythology, (I have many..eek) and mashes them together. It does that really well too. The world building is magnificent. It has a certain magical feel to it but it is also dark, in a way that sometimes gives you goosebumps. Add to that the elements from greek mythology and you have a winner.


There was a certain twist that I am sure everyone will see coming. The problem with the said twist is that it is poorly executed. Very poorly. I wouldn’t even mind the obviousness had it actually made sense when it happened.


Which brings me to the ending. The ending did not work at all.  It left me confused and I didn’t get the kind of closure I had sought. I expected a completely different ending. I WANTED a different ending. Because the ending we got kind of took away from both Nyx and Ignifex’s personality. It changed them into something they weren’t, they were no longer the characters I fell in love with. The ending was too perfect. Too sugar sweet. With such a great main character, you don’t actually want that kind of ending because it takes away what you love most about her. I pretty much refused to acknowledge that ending, I mentally re-wrote one. Yes that is how much I didn't like the ending. I guess this was mostly a 'it's me not you' thing and I am sure other people won't have the same problems I did (except Khanh, but I already ranted about it to her so I didn't turn into a rage beast thanks to her). 


Despite everything, I’ll have to say, this was one hell of a retelling and I recommend it to everyone. It has a strong female lead, a male character you can actually see yourself loving and a wonderful relationship. Plus the love child of a fairy tale retelling and Greek mythology is bound to be awesome. 


This review has also been posted on Tangled in Pages
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review 2013-12-20 15:15
Derp. This was not good. This made me angry. I NO LIKEY
The Sweet Gum Tree - Katherine Allred

So after a lot of thinking, I realized I really couldn't overlook the little things that bugged me so the rating won't go up. I am too lazy to write a review so I'll sum up why this book didn't work for me in the spoiler tags below.

Hello people reading this. This is why I think this book was a mess.

-Spouse cheating on chick with her best friend
Let's start with that. I don't understand how this woman can overlook that so quickly. Oh she bore with you through your shit. What I don't understand is how she could look you in the eye when she was sleeping with your husband behind your back. 

-She makes excuses for her best friend
Let me tell you something honey. She is not your friend if she couldn't man up enough to tell you how she felt. Hell we both know you would have filed for divorce because you didn't care about your marriage anyway. I am sure she knew that too so why didn't she just fucking tell you? Huh? Yeah that's a sign of a bloody good friend. Stop making excuses. What she did was not right. She also goes on to say that her friend was the only innocent one in all of these? I may be wrong but infidelity isn't actually a good thing and both parties are GUILTY! NO ONE IS FUCKING INNOCENT.

-She makes excuses for Hugh
So what if you were a horrible person to live with. You told him right off the bat you didn't really love him and after losing your child you were miserable. Woo hoo. Now if he was so miserable he could have just fucking asked for a divorce instead of ruining 15 years of both of your lives. You don't get to make excuses for him. It doesn't matter if you're unhappy or not, you don't cheat and if you do at least be man enough to tell the woman. She deserves that much doesn't she? Obviously she doesn't. 

-Hugh is made out to be a good guy in the end
Excuse me? Not only did this guy cheat on his wife, he also cheated on the woman he claimed to love with various other women to prove a fucking point. Please get out of my sight. You mister do NOT deserve a HEA. You deserve to be miserable for the rest of your life. And please don't throw the 'his mommy ruled his life' shit at me. He is a big boy, he can make his own choices and he did.

-Everything wraps up way too nicely
Everyone gets a HEA wooo let's parteh.
Her parents get back together, Aunt Darla gets together with Bowie, Cody gets together with Lindsey, She gets back together with Nick and Jenna and Hugh are going to end up together obviously. So sweet. I'll let you know when I give two shits. 

Aside from all that I just wanted to mention an incident that happened in part 1. So basically when Nick stopped talking to her she thought it would be a good idea to get drunk and go to a party with her cousins who only a while ago were looking at her funny. When some random dude starts trying to get her into a car, she realizes something is wrong but when her knight in shining armour shows up, she kind of just tells him everything is all right and that he should go. Dumb ass chick.

I give up, I cannot remember why I liked this book in the first place.

I mean the second part was a lot better than the first part but nothing can change my mind. 

(spoiler show)


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review 2013-12-03 19:29
Shiloh never disappoints.
Stolen - Shiloh Walker

** It's been 2 weeks since I've read this book


Shiloh Walker's books remain full of awesome. I have yet to read one that I didn't enjoy. I've been having a little trouble lately finding a romantic suspense that actually satisfies my expectations but Shiloh kind of knows exactly what I want from a good book. It helps that there is a second chance romance in this one. I am a sucker for those.


The book starts of nicely, not making us wait for the good stuff. We meet our main characters, feel the sexual tension between them and learn that someone has stolen Shay's secret identity as an author.


Shay has a traumatic past that keeps her up at night and prevents her from trust people. She can barely survive with her sanity intact. The scars of what happened to her run deep (mentally and physically) and she doesn't want to burden anyone else with that knowledge. And to a certain extent she is right to do that, judging by Elliot's reaction, I can definitely see why she kept that knowledge to herself.


However, this woman who has been emotionally, mentally and physically traumatized is NOT weak. She is not the kind of person to wait for someone to come around and rescue her. She takes matters in her hands. She takes action. She is strong and has a lot of will power and is overall a very likable female lead.


Elliot. Elliot is perfect. Yes perfect is not a term I use a lot (okay maybe I lie) but he is the perfect guy for Shay. He had the guts to break up with a woman he loved because he knew she would never trust him, to stay around and hope for something that wouldn't happen wouldn't be fair to him and he realized that. Not a lot of people would. They would hold on to the scraps of a failing relationship (because let’s face it, a relationship that is not built on trust, is going to fail, even if the people happen to love each other).  But I like how he never pushed her to tell him, not when they were dating and not in the present. He waited for her to trust him enough to tell him. What I also liked was his patience with her. Even when Shay tells him what happened, he realizes he needs to go slow with her, be gentle. I realize this makes Shay sound like a fragile porcelain doll but she isn't one. She has a backbone and a strong will power. She doesn't want to remain powerless when it comes to the past, she wants to be able to overcome her nightmares and asks Elliot for his help. 


The mystery/suspense was everything I ever wanted from a romantic suspense. I don't like the twists you find in this genre, they are predictable and it always seems as though the author is trying hard to make it interesting. It didn't happen with Stolen though, the person behind everything that had been happening was not predictable but it hadn't come out of nowhere, the author gave us enough clues to figure it out for ourselves if we had tried (and I even came sort of close). 


The romance as you can obviously tell was great. It wasn't angst filled or even dramatic; in fact they resolve their issues very early on in the book. They don't try to hide their feelings. They talk. They communicate. Which is why they make a great couple. 


The book is well paced, full of suspense and keeps you on the edge. It's was a fun read and incredibly refreshing.

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