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review 2016-07-30 18:07
Kissing Madeline by Lex Martin
Kissing Madeline (Dearest, #3) - Lex Martin

Third book in the Dearest series, Kissing Madeline reads like a mash-up of the two first books. There's the bland heroine, the duchy hero, a plot revoling around sex, a mystery that is no mystery at all, some casual sexism and slutshaming, but let's take it from the start.

Madeline, the heroine, walks in on her boyfriend sleeping with another woman. Madeline breaks it off and decides to focus (even more) on her job. When she moves in with Sheri, she is now the neighbour of Daren, a Heisman trophy winner. They've met before thanks to mutual friends. Sheri suggest Madeleine should go out with Daren.

“At least let me introduce you two before some slussy gets her hooks into him.”

Instead, Madeline (literally) runs into Daren during one of her work outs. With Madeline not wanting a relationship, she and Daren soon decides on a friends with benefits relationship, but maybe one of them, or both even, wants more.

This story is basically about Maddie and Daren hooking up while wanting more. There is no plot. Well, there is some stuff on Maddie's work, but it's so insignificant in the long run, and around 80% there is (again, like in the first book) a poor attempt at mystery. It doesn't help that both Maddie and Daren are such boring characters. He's somewhere in the middle between the previous two heroes in this series: a bit douchey an casually sexist, Gavin, and all out sexist misogynist, Jax. Daren falls right in the middle. His character had so much potential: he has a connection to Clem form the first book, in the fact that he cheated on her in high school, and for the past years have been dating a woman that has, by all means, treated him badly. Instead he's another in a long line of poorly developed new adult heroes. He says/thinks things like:

"I’m fine with needing to convince you that you like when I touch you."

He’s been bitchy all week, and I’ve been tempted to ask if he needs tampons.

And Maddie is definitely not a fuck-and-forget kind of girl.

You know, usual new adult hero bullshit.

This book had potential. It could've explored the sexism Maddie has to put up with at her job (it could've explored the way female journalists/tv-presenters are treated), Daren coming to terms with his past and the moral struggles, it could've explored the friends with benefits better. It could've done so much more, much better. Instead it remains in the land of typical new adult, filled with weak plots, sexism, unhealthy relationships and heroes, the virginal heroine and the negative look upon sexuality.

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review 2016-06-20 15:24
Tailspin by Raquel Valldeperas
Tailspin - Raquel Valldeperas


That's the best word to describe Tailspin. Like it's succeedor,Toxic, it's never quite clear what kind of story it wants to be. A heartfelt story about loss or a about a young man having to shoulder his parents' place when they die in an accident or a romance between a young man and a troubled young woman.

Tailspin is the story told from Nathan's POV, and the reader learns more about how his parents died, what happened within his family upon this loss, and how Nathan life was after it. Much like the first book, it's a little of all the above mentioned, but it's not enough of any of them for it to be compelling. The story is still perfectly fine (as I said in my review of Toxic, with all themes dealt with sensitivity. But it still lacks any depth in the characters' development and the plot. Add in that many of the chapters are retelling of exact scenes, just from Nathan's POV. This is rarely - if ever - interesting as the reader has already seen this scene, knows where it's going. Shortly: the tension is gone.

It's said this book can be read as a standalone, and I agree, but it's not in the book's favor. Without reading the first book there's a good chance the reader won't understand Lo, the heroine. It's clear she's an addict, but it's hard to get a grip on her as a character, as a person, so it's even more difficult to care for her. Which is exactly how Nathan came off in the first book. And perhaps here is the issue, the character development suffers from the rough transitions and (what felt like it) skipped scenes that would add another layer to the story, and the characters.

Undecided. Undecided in what the story wanted to accomplish with its plot and characters.

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review 2016-03-20 18:07
Hallowed by Cynthia Hand
Hallowed - Cynthia Hand
“Our purpose on this earth is not one single event, an accomplishment we can check off a list. There is no test. No passing or failing. There's only us, each moment shaping who we are, into what we will become.”

Unearthly didn't impress me, but I like to give series the benefit of the doubt, meaning I read the second book even if the first one wasn't all that. Sometimes that is a good gamble, sometimes not. Hallowed falls into the later category. It keeps the dullness from Unearthly, the lack of action and suspense and adds in religion. Neither was a good thing.

Hallowed takes up almost exactly where Unearthly ended. Like the first book, this one drags for a long time before anything significant to the overall story happens. In the meanwhile, the aspect of religion increases. For me, this was a bad thing. Because the parts of Christianity that is used for world building is severely lacking and doesn't really make sense at times. There are myths supposed to explain the world, but it misses the mark.

But they never truly belonged on earth, and their children lived a long time and kept multiplying, until there were more Nephilim than humans on the earth. Which became a problem.

Why? Why is that a bad thing? Because God wanted a world populated only by humans? Did the Nephilims run havoc? Suffice to say, the world building isn't working in this series.

To be fair, my biggest issue with this book is one conversation in particular, which ruined the entire book.

“Rape is not a Black Wing’s style. They prefer seduction. They want to win you over to their side.”
“What about Angela’s mom?” I point out. “She was raped.”
“Yes, so she says.”

Yup, the mom is actually accusing a grown woman of pretending being raped, and then told that story to her child. No one questions this. No one mentions this again. We - the readers - are supposed to wave this off as if it's nothing. Sorry, can't do that. There's no excuse for this.

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review 2016-03-17 16:42
Unearthly by Cynthia Hand
Unearthly - Cynthia Hand
“I didn’t ever think you were a freak. I think . . . I thought you were magic or something. I thought that you were too perfect to be real.”

Some of my friends say that the toughest reviews to write are the ones for books they loved. Another group of friends says it's the ones they hated. For me, it's the one in the middle. Books that are neither bad nor great, but the once that, once you've finished them, leaves you feeling nothing, more or less. Unearthly is one of those books.

Clara, we learn, is part angel. Because of this she has apurpose in life. She learns what it is by visions, each a fragment of what she's supposed to do. For years she's seen herself in a forest fire, heading toward a young man facing away from her. Then she learns where her vision takes place. A town in Wyoming. As expected, Clara, her mother, and her brother moves there so she can fulfill her purpose. Soon she meets the guy from her visions, Christian, a student at the high school Clara has enrolled at. But meeting him doesn't make her purpose any clearer.

Unearthly is, for a great part of the book, like any contemporary YA romance. Girl moves to new town, tries to fit in and make friends, finds herself crushing on a guy (who of course has a girlfriend that must be a bitch, or something close to it). It's mindlessly dull. Add that Clara is essentially perfect in every singe way. Her most common complaint is that, when her mother dyed her hair to cover up the glowing it does at times, it turns out a bad shade of orange. Such hardship. Everything Clara tries, she excels at (which is a treat shared by all part-angels.) This in particular makes it a difficulty to connect to her character. That and the fact that her voice isn't quite as engaging as you'd wish for.

Still, there's nothing necessarily wrong with any of this. The story moves, albeit a bit slow, along. We learn a little more about what it means to be part-angel. Again, though, it's not quite enough. The world building doesn't measure up, and what little there is, the reader is supposed to swallow up whole without questioning the details. Mostly, it's based on Christian myths/stories about angels.

In the end, Unearthly is a little too tame. Clara's tame personality isn't engaging enough and the plot never reaches a powerful climax. Still, there is absolutely nothing wrong or bad about Unearthly. It's a perfectly fine YA paranormal book. Maybe it's just me, getting older and wanting my paranormal/fantasy gritter and with a darker touch to it.

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review 2016-03-13 19:14
Masquerade by Nyrae Dawn
Masquerade - Nyrae Dawn

photo da3b031d345be1fa23a11bdd86be7717_zps5qkubftf.png
Tropes: 13

Bee is so different from any girl I know, that even something as simple as rolling her eyes is too ordinary for her.

Masquerade, is without a doubt, the weakest book in this series. This story deals with Maddox and Bee. The former is the brother of the heroine in the second book. Maddox is haunted by his family's past with his father's killing a boy and his mother loathing her daughter. Maddox is full of guilt for the part he believes he plays in how everything played out, and his current goal is to make sure their mother doesn't hurt his sister (emotionally). Bee is a bit lost too. Her past involves a kidnapping and now having returned to her biological parents. Both Maddox and Bee are reluctant to let people into their lives, but after a night together their paths starts to cross.

It was the second books biggest issue, and it's the same here: the pasts of the main characters aren't handled with sensitivity, and instead of exploring the psychological consequences and dealing with them, it's another case of letting love save the day. When they meet, Bee and Maddox immediately sense in each other that the other is suffering from some dark past. Why? No idea, but they do. Which is what the rest of their relationship will be based on as they grow closer. There's nothing beyond that to connect these characters, and this is not enough explain their attraction to each other when they usually are so keen on pushing people away.

In terms of plot, there is none. And if there ever was one, it got lost in bad writing. Because that's what's most memorable about this book; how bad the writing was. It's full of repetition, of awkward phrasings, uneven pacing, and some grammatical errors. With all the strange writing going on, it's hard to connect to either the characters or the story.

And, since this is New Adult, let's not forget this particular part.

It’s not that I’ve slept with a ton of guys. But I’ve never been an angel either. It’s not something that has ever bothered me but I don’t want Maddox to think I sleep around. Why does it matter? There’s nothing wrong with safely enjoying my sexuality.
“It’s like you said the first night, there’s nothing wrong with a woman knowing what she wants. And I can tell you’re not the type of person to sleep with everyone you meet.”

Bee is right; there is nothing wrong with enjoying her sexuality. Which is why her, a confident woman, thinking like this is just awkward. It just enforces the notion that women should be ashamed for having sex, which theyshould not. Honestly, I wished that particular paragraph should've been edited out, because it changed Bee's entire character (for the worse). And then we have Maddox reaction. It shouldn't matter if she did sleep with every person she met. So yeah, this kinda ruined his character too. These two paragraphs did a fine job changing the main characters' personas quickly.

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