The Collectors’ Society

The Collectors’ Society by Heather Lyons

3.5 Binary stars

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“In pages we find worlds. In words, we find life.”

Do you think you know your literary characters? You might not know them as well as you thought.

Locked up in an asylum in Victorian London, Alice is hiding many secrets about her past. Upon a visit from a stranger with a mission, Alice is thrust into modern day New York City with a new purpose in her life. You see, Timelines were created out of our beloved books and tales, and the characters in them brought to life. They can travel in and out of them, and many choose to remain in the modern world as a part of the Collectors’ Society. I won’t get into it too much, but basically the Timelines existence is in peril, and Alice has been drafted into the fight to help save them, so that her Wonderland can be saved before it is deleted forever.

I really loved the concept of this book. I loved the world building. I loved the idea that the novels we read are only one side of the story and the authors’ perception of the events in them. And we all know that perception doesn’t mean truth. Heather Lyons in my opinion is a master at taking well known characters (or in the Deep End of the Sea’s case, mythological characters) and making them her own with their own new personalities.

“Sometimes our pasts are chains we cannot let go of, even if the key is in our hands. They define us in ways we resent, and yet they are somewhat precious, too. Because, logically, we understand that our pasts have made us who we are.”

Alice is incredibly secretive, even keeping secrets from the reader, which at times was infuriating as I was left a bit confused. All events and most secrets did reveal themselves, but mostly near the end of the book. The addition of Mary Lennox was a personal favorite of mine as The Secret Garden is a book I grew up on. And the choice Ms. Lyons made in making her into the nice bitchy girl was a wonderful touch.

Ladies, I am in the minority on the character of Finn. I didn’t care all too much for him. It may sound bad but Finn was too good of a guy, like too good to exist kind of a hero. He literally was perfect, the entire book. Handsome, fit, sensitive, caring, kind, loving. Maybe I’m just reading too much Alpha male’s in my books, but I wanted a little more from him. I honestly could not see how he fell for Alice when she exposed so little of herself to him.

The White King on the other hand, I want a prequel book in Wonderland so we can get his story with Alice! I was honestly rooting for the White King more than I was for Finn! A doomed romance where two people love each other but cannot be together? His passion and despair were so strong, I felt more emotion in the scenes with him and Alice than the ones she had with Finn. So I know it’ll never be, but I’m on Team White King. I shall make buttons and everything.

“Your destiny is not in Wonderland, no matter how much we may wish differently.”

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, but at some points it was slow and a little bit confusing. I feel if more of the backstory behind Alice’s life hadn’t been kept a secret for so long, I would have understood her and her actions a lot more earlier on. I also went into this thinking it was a standalone, but after reading the ending I think there is more to come.

drink me

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Captivated by You

Captivated by You (Crossfire #4) by Sylvia Day

1.5 Procrastination Killer stars

Okay, it takes A LOT for me to give a book anything less than 3 stars. Seriously, go to my Goodreads profile and look at my stats. It’s a rare thing for me. I was literally choosing to write papers for graduate school over reading this book. I finished a damn 20+ page paper in 2 days because I was avoiding reading this book.

My biggest issue with the book? I was bored. That’s right, BORED!

****WARNING, THERE BE SPOILERS AHEAD!!!!!!!!****

Gideon and Eva were boring! I still kind of can’t wrap my mind around this. After the whole not a trilogy controversy after the last book, I was willing to give this one a chance. But nothing happened in this book. Honestly the only real plot development was Gideon’s stepfather finding out about the abuse, the job issue and Cary telling Trey about the baby. THAT’S IT IN 350+ PAGES. So needless to say I am off Team 5 Books.

Will I read the next book? Probably. I’ve invested this much time into the series. Will I buy it like I bought this one? Hell, no. I’ll be getting it from my local library.

Before Jamaica Lane

Before Jamaica Lane (On Dublin Street #3) by Samantha Young

**5 stars!**

“You’ll end up living a lonely life if you’re waiting around for perfect.”

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So, it’s no secret that I absolutely adore Samantha Young’s books. There seems to be the perfect balance of angst, happy, and emotional in her writing formula that just works for me as a reader. Ever since I read On Dublin Street, I’ve been not so subtlety shoving her books down my friends’ throats for them to read.

Before Jamaica Lane is the story of library assistant, Olivia and her best guy friend Nate, who embark on a series of flirting lessons in order for Olivia to gain more confidence around the other sex. We’ve heard this story before, right? WRONG! Ms. Young did a wonderful job with an old story line and making it into something uniquely her own.

“I want to be someone’s big love, Dad. I think I deserve to have the man I love love me back just as much.”

Olivia is a heroine to stand by; she’s loyal to her friends and family, not quick to judge anyone, and very endearingly hopeless when it comes to men (at the beginning of the book at least). I loved the development of her character throughout the book from a semi-meek girl, into a woman who finally accepts herself for what she is: a confident, attractive and smart woman with a lot to offer.

I’m not one for dual perspectives, but I really did find myself wishing as a reader that we could see Nate’s point of view, as he could be so hard to read sometimes. And here is a segment from the main summary of the book as proof that I’m not spoiling anything, “But then Nate’s past and commitment issues rear their ugly heads, and Olivia is left broken-hearted.” Even without the summary giving this away, it was fairly obvious that Nate had many issues due to his tragic past and he would end up hurting Olivia. The scene in which this happens had me in knots and I felt like I was going to puke (not really, but you know what I mean). I kept returning to it as I continued reading because I felt I gained more insight to the story. So if only for that scene alone, I bow down to Ms. Young. You like to play with reader’s heartstrings like they’re a bloody violin. Bravo!

 Most authors neglect to have the party at fault grovel enough to make up for past wrongs. Nate more than made up for it to Olivia, and in return Olivia didn’t give into Nate so easily, thank god. One of my favorite quotes from the book:

“I thought I could do it. I thought I could lie to the both of us. But seeing you on the street last week with that guy and the little girl… It was a glimpse into the future. It didn’t hit me until right in that moment that walking away from you, from us, meant having to watch you be with someone else, have kids with someone else… Christ Liv, I couldn’t breathe.”

One thing that stood out to me in this book and On Dublin Street was how well Ms. Young wrote as an American. I am convinced that she’s lived in the states, despite being from the UK because she does such a wonderful job writing as an American that it’s believable in the books. I know what you’re thinking, there aren’t that many differences between Americans and the Scottish, but it’s the small things that make up one’s culture. Like how Olivia calls shotgun and the Scots have no idea what she meant. Plus the American slang/idioms used throughout the entire book. Masterfully done.

“I didn’t just want Nate to love me. I wanted him to love me the way I loved him. The kind of love that’s so big it would last beyond a lifetime.”

So now that I’m done gushing over Ms. Young and her book, I highly recommend this series to anyone. This book technically could be read out of order, but I wouldn’t recommend it. Start with the first book and make your way down. Plus, I am extremely excited for the next book about Hannah and Marco, an intriguing romance that began to develop in Down London Road.

“I never meant to fall in love with you. But I did. I felt it the first night I made love to you. I tried to walk away then because I’ve never felt so lost and yet so fucking found as I felt that night.”

***Note, I originally wrote and published this review in January of 2014 on Goodreads, just adding it to the blog now***

Love, in Spanish

Love, in Spanish (Love, In English #2) by Karina Halle

4 “Oh Mateo” stars

““Our love is permanent and she is stardust in my hands.”

When I read Love in English I thought that it had ended perfectly. When I saw there was a book from Mateo’s POV I thought it would be his perspective of LIE, until Ms. Halle assured the readers it wasn’t a repeat but a separate story. And since I basically trust Ms. Halle because she’s never let me down before I dived into this book, and boy was I glad I did.

Vera and Mateo are back together despite all of the odds against them at the end of the previous book. But they don’t have their happily ever after yet. Both Mateo and Vera have to face off against the paparazzi, the judgement of other people in their lives, angry ex-spouses, and possible deportation.

The thing I loved most about this book was that the love Vera and Mateo have for each other is supportive . Vera supports Mateo in his actions, encouraging him to take on a new challenge. Mateo supports Vera in her endeavors to discover who she is, whether it be a girl who works in an office, a student, or his future wife. Both Mateo and Vera want what’s best for the other person, and that’s what true love is folks. If someone loves you, they will support and guide you and not hinder your progress.

This was a thoughtful, sweet and insightful addition to the Love in English series (volumes?), and I highly encourage you to read this one if you are a fan of the first book.

Magic Bleeds

Magic Bleeds (Kate Daniels #4) by Ilona Andrews

4.5 stars!

“I can’t give you the white picket fence, and if I did, you’d set it on fire.”

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I’m a giant fan of urban fantasy. I read all kinds of genres of books, but when I read urban fantasy I get a feeling of being at home. The Ilona Andrews writing team created a universe where when I’m having a bad day or want to have a good time, I can open a paperback, and escape there effortlessly and happily. And that’s exactly what I did with this book. I recently had some crap come up in my personal life, and when I had the chance I transported myself into this world of mercenaries and werebeasts and didn’t want to come back out. So massive kudos to the authors, you did your job right.

In magic flare zone Atlanta, Kate Daniels is stood up. That’s right, she cooked the Beast Lord Curran dinner, and he never showed. Flash forward about a month or so and the two are at each others’ throats. On top of this, there’s a strange shaman who keeps showing up in bars and casinos and trying to magic blast the place with plague and disease. It’s not long before Kate gets called onto the case, and when she does she finds she might be more connected to it than she expected.

This was the best book of this series for me so far. The plot was thrilling, the banter was witty and humorous, and I couldn’t put the darn book down even when my eyelids were slowly closing due to a need for sleep.

My favorite part of the book? The pranks Kate and Curran were playing on each other. When she covered his bed in catnip and he glued her ass to her office chair? Priceless. The addition of the attack poodle to Kate’s daily life only made the story more entertaining.

“….I think a dog is a great idea. I just never pictured you with a mutant poodle.”
“He isn’t a poodle. He’s a Doberman mix.”
“Aha. Keep telling yourself that.”

Also, another reason why this book was awesome? It’s the hook up book! Yes, the Kate and Curran relationship finally comes to a explosive collision in this book and it was all it was cracked up to be.

“I miss you. I worry about you. I worry something stupid will happen and I won’t be there and you’ll be gone. I worry we won’t ever get a chance and it’s driving me out of my skull.”

This was also the book where I finally stopped skimming when it came to the plot. By this I mean the underlying issue or mystery. As much as I love the other books and their stories, there were points when I skimmed. That didn’t really happen in this book. All of Kate’s investigations had me utterly enthralled, and the parts with Kate and Erra was like watching an interrogation between a smart ass and a sociopath (it would make great television, just saying).

And that ending? When they finally got to flip it and Kate took care of Curran when he was injured? Heartwarming. It gave the viewer a small glimpse of what Curran goes through when Kate was injured or sick.

“You don’t pick the family you’re born into. You pick the one you make. I already chose my mate and glued her ass to the chair to make sure she knew it.”

Injustice: Gods Among Us, Vol. 1

Injustice: Gods Among Us, Vol. 1 by Tom Taylor

4.5 stars 

I’ve been trying to broaden my reading horizons lately and have always been interested in graphic novels and superheroes. I didn’t know where to start, so I asked the lovely Kat Stark for some recs and this was one of them.

Injustice is one of the most interesting plots I’ve read this year! Basically one of the members of the Justice League (to remain unnamed) experiences a personal tragedy, and over time begins to evolve into the villain he always sought to destroy.

I picked this book up and literally could not put it down until the end. There were quite a few superhero references that went over my head, because I could not recognize the characters by sight. But I was able to deduce most of the relationships and such fairly easily.

One of my favorite aspects of this book was the relationship between Harley Quinn and Green Arrow, with banter between them causing me to literally smile every single time I saw them on the page. The pony and mustache jokes were also very much appreciated. I also enjoyed learning more about The Flash and Wonder Woman, two superheroes I’ve never given much attention to before.

I was a bit confused on some aspects, whether or not they were always a plot, or just specific to this timeline. I was scratching my head at some parts from my own verse ignorance, and this is why I didn’t give it a perfect 5 star rating.
For example, has Wonder Woman always had the hots for Superman? And Batman has children? And who was the ocean guy? B/c at first I thought he was Aquaman, but I couldn’t really tell….

Overall I thought this was an amazing story and am eager to see where the story leads. Unfortunately my local library doesn’t have a copy, so it may be a while before I read the next one.

***Thanks again for the rec Kat!***

Exquisite

 

Exquisite by Ella Frank

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What. The Hell. Was that?

Let me start off by saying I am an Ella Frank fan. I absolutely LOVE her books Try and Take and gave them both 5 stars. I recommend them to people all the time because of the characters, the plot, the steam, the angst.
^^^All of that was missing in this book. So Ella, if you ever see this, please ignore and know that I do love other books by you, this one just was not for me.

This book has so many 4 and 5 star reviews, I’m actually bewildered that I didn’t like it.

I rarely, if ever, give 1 star reviews, but this book is getting a rage rant. So fans of the book steer clear. Other readers, even though I hated this book I encourage you to read this author’s M/M series because it’s absolutely fantastic. Just skip this book.

The Plot:

Lena is an uptight doctor with issues. Mason is a hot restaurant owner with swag (yes I used swag in a sentence). When they first meet, she’s a bitch and he’s a dick, and yet they are both oh so attracted to each other. Here is where the whiplash montage of dating failures and success occurs.

****WARNING, THERE BE SPOILERS AHEAD!!!! DO NOT READ IF YOU DO NOT WISH TO BE SPOILED!!!!****
Cue spoiler rant:

Lena is such a bitch. I never, not once felt sorry for her at any point in the book after the prologue. The fact that Mason went after her just points to the myriad of personal issues he’s toting along. So despite this, there is a huge amount of instalust between the two of them (something else I hate).

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So despite hating each other, the two decide to go out on a date at 7% into the book. I was sitting here like this:
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So then begins the flirting stage which, as another reviewer once so eloquently put it (that’s you Kat Stark!), made my lady boner shrink up. I mean, I was reading lines like this one:

“I want to unravel that hair and wrap it around my cock and stroke myself with it”

OMG GROSS. Dude, no way. If he asked me to do that, I’d ask him to buy me cleansing hair products. Ugh.

Anyways, there’s a shower and tub masturbation scene that gave me more secondhand embarrassment than the scene in Dirty Dancing when Baby danced with Johnny for the first time. And believe me, that’s painful.

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Near 61% of the way in the book became so damn cheesy, which is something I loathe in my romance. I still haven’t connected to either of these characters at this point, and I honestly don’t see the connection between the two of them.

And then, at 68%, my hatred for Lena was cemented. Lena goes to visit a baby/toddler dying of a combo of leukemia and pneumonia and the entire time she was thinking “I wonder what he meant when he gave me the key to his place?”
Are you fucking kidding me? This child is DYING and it’s the saddest thing I can think of and you are contemplating what getting a copy of his key meant? DIE BITCH DIE!!!

So basically by 70% or so when his mom dies and Mason freaks out on Lena and starts drinking, I was just done. DONE DONE DONE. And then he gets mad at her for something that in my opinion, was doctor/patient confidentiality and dumps her? They fucking deserve each other.

This book made me want to invest in brain bleach.

Anyways, all drama and no angst. Not my cup of tea.

By the way, this was a buddy read with the lovely Jasmine, who was basically amazing/awesome/fantastic and willingly listened to all my rants and let me be a crazy person without actually feeling like one. Sorry I picked a bad book girlie!

Magic Burns

Magic Burns (Kate Daniels #2) by Ilona Andrews

4.5 “I’m really starting to love this series” stars

“You don’t cause problems. You cause catastrophes.”

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While investigating a mysterious bowman who killed her mark, mercenary Kate Daniels finds herself in the custody of a pre-teen girl. Turns out the young street girl has some magical powers, the kind of powers that 1 in 10,000 people get and there are creatures coming after her. Kate must go to the last person she wants help from, Curran, and together they fight to help the girl.

Another great installment in this series. The plot thickens with this book but we still have some questions left unanswered. Such as:
-What exactly is Kate?
-Who is Roland?
-What interest does Curran have in Kate?

My favorite part of this book was the interactions between Kate and Curran. Their banter is so much fun to read and I am dying for the two of them to admit they have the hots for each other.

“Not only will you sleep with me, but you will say ‘please.'”
I stared at him, shocked.
The smile widened. “You will say ‘please’ before and ‘thank you’ after.”
Nervous laughter bubbled up. “You’ve gone insane. All that peroxide in your hair finally did your brain in, Goldilocks.”

Ilona Andrews writing duo has done it again and marked a winner in my book. The world building and character development are awesome, and that’s all I ask for in urban fantasy. Well, those two things and the hopes of romance.

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Short review from me, because I’m dying to get to the third book. I keep hearing rumors about a hot tub scene 😉

Magic Bites

Magic Bites (Kate Daniels #1) by Ilona Andrews

4.5 stars

“What kind of woman greets the Beast Lord with ‘here, kitty, kitty’?”

The best kind of woman! To say I enjoyed this book was a serious understatement. But I get ahead of myself.

Kate Daniels is a mercenary who cleans up paranormal messes. When she gets news that her mentor, and last connection to any family she has, is murdered, Kate takes on the case. She is thrown into the world of Shapeshifters, Vampires and the People, and must make ruthless decisions in order to find the killer.

I didn’t know what to expect going into this book. I’ve been a long time fan of urban fantasy/paranormal romance and have been searching for a series to fill in the gap of series I have finished by authors such as Kim Harrison, Patricia Briggs and Kelley Armstrong. It wasn’t until recently that I had even heard of Ilona Andrews, and that was through reviews I’d seen here on Goodreads from reviewers like Jessica (Rabid Reads), Lola, and Sharon is an Emotional Book Junkie (so thank you ladies!)

“I gave him my best cryptic smile. He did not fall down to his feet, kiss my shoes, and promise me the world. I must be getting rusty.”

I absolutely love the character of Kate. She’s not your typical heroine, she’s a smart ass, a fighter, a mercenary and yet so emotionally vulnerable at the same time. The 260 pages or so of this first book was not enough time with her, and I look forward to reading her development in the other installments.

“You know anything about investigative work?”
“Sure. Annoy the people involved until the guilt party tries to make you go away.”

The world building style reminded me a bit of Harrison’s Rachel Morgan series, in that Andrews threw you into this new world with little to no explanations as to how it came to be, and as a reader you were on your own. I personally like that because to me, the reader is as smart as you make them . Many authors assume their reader needs to be lead on a leash through their worlds and that’s not always the case. Ilona Andrews gave the reader the chance to use their intelligence and I greatly appreciated it.

Curran. That Beast Lord. I already am Team Curran but it’s just book 1, so I shall see. There wasn’t exactly a romance between Kate and Curran, but there is a tangible sexual tension that made me giggle and smile whenever they had scenes together in the book. Plus, he’s an alpha male, and I love the alpha males.

Another character I loved was Nick, the Crusader, but more because he reminded me a lot of Captain America’s Winter Soldier. I think he’ll have a great character arc.

Enough rambling on my part. This was a fantastic book and you should read it.

Addicted After All

Addicted After All by Krista and Becca Ritchie

4.5 Lilo stars!! 

“No sad endings, love. Those aren’t meant for us.”

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In Lily and Lo’s final installment, the couple faces new challenges while still coping with their addictions. Lily’s hormones are crazy out of whack with her pregnancy, making her sex addiction a daily battle. Lo struggles with the idea that he might not make a good father. Everyone in the group struggles with awful teenage neighbors who make it their mission to torment them for their faults. Do Lily and Lo have what it takes to make it past these things and more?

“Our lives are meteor showers on rewind. I don’t think we even knew what we’d be once we pieced ourselves back.”

I thought that this story was the perfect end for Lily and Lo’s story. Lily and Lo have fought so hard for everything that they had and they deserve all of the happiness the world can give them.

There was a lot happening with the other two couples that I wanted more detail about, but I trust that those answers will reveal themselves in the final two books.

Some of my favorite moments from the book:
-Connor and Lo in Mexico
-Rose’s cat and the baby crying sound on the cell phone.
-Lily’s confrontation with her mother, the most emotional part of the book for me.
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I have nothing but love for this series, and I’m sad to see the final books coming out. At least there is a spin-off series about the kids!!!

“Sometimes the person we think we’ll become is the person we already are, and the person we truly become is the person we least expect.”

PS: Was able to obtain my own wampa hat while reading the book. I wore the hat while reading the last 30% of the book. It’s really warm and comfy.

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