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The Book of Ivy by Amy Engel

The Book of Ivy by Amy EngelThe Book of Ivy by Amy Engel
Published by Entangled Teen on November 4th 2014
Genres: Young Adult, Family, Love & Romance
Pages: 282

Lately, I have been a bit weary of hype. Hype can be a great thing because it enables you to find books you would otherwise never have picked up. However, it can also take the fun out of reading because you practically already know everything about a book before you’ve even read the first page. This is why I decided to pick up The Book of Ivy, which I really hadn’t heard that much about previously. In this case, the decision paid of. I really enjoyed this novel; it was a very short, quick read.

The Book of Ivy is a dystopian novel that takes place in the future after the United States has been destroyed by a nuclear war. Most people were completely wiped out and there was only a small population left. These people came together to establish a new “nation” but there were two rival sides: the Westfalls and the Lattimers. The Lattimers won and now, fifty years later, peace and control is maintained by marrying the daughters of the losing side to the sons of the winning group.
The story follows Ivy Westfall, who is forced to marry Bishop Lattimer at the age of sixteen. What nobody outside of Ivy’s family knows however, is that Ivy is on a mission to kill Bishop in order to restore the Westfall family to power.

My feelings for this book are bit all over the place so let’s break it down, shall we?

World building:

The world building is definitely the weakest part of the novel. It was meager at best. We got practically no explanations for what happened to the world. Although politics are the central issue in the novel, they were very simplified and not exploited. Having said that though, I was surprised by how little I actually cared about the lack of world building. This is very unusual for me, as I am world building freak; it’s part of why I love fantasy so much. Somehow, I found myself enjoying the story and not dwelling too much on the fact that nothing was really explained.


I mostly really enjoyed the main characters, even though I did have a few problems with both of them.

Ivy was a very relatable and likeable protagonist. She is very compassionate and outspoken yet also impulsive which gets her into trouble. At times I did find Ivy a tad annoying, simply because she kept repeating the same thoughts over and over again in her head and her impulsiveness seemed quite reckless. Her character development was very typical for a dystopian: girl starts questioning and reevaluating her beliefs and realizes that some of the things she’s been taught her entire life are in fact incorrect or exaggerated. In that, she appeared a little indecisive and there were times where I just wanted to shake her. However, considering the fact that she was only sixteen and had been sheltered her entire life, she was a very realistic character and I found myself rooting for her. I could really feel how torn she was between the loyalty to her family and her budding feelings towards Bishop.

In my opinion (and I’m sure some of you will agree with me) there is a big difference between the bookish boyfriends we love to swoon over in our favorite books and the ones we would actually like to date in real life. Many brooding, dark bad boys might be amazing to read about, but if they were real I would probably steer clear. Bishop, however, is the opposite. He is literally the PERFECT guy in every way, everything anyone could ever want in a boyfriend. He is very kind and handsome, trusting and considerate, intelligent and selfless.

“I want to be someone strong and brave enough to make hard choices. But I want to be fair and loving enough to make the right ones.”

And that’s where the problem lies: as much as I loved Bishop, I don’t like characters that don’t have flaws. Not just out of principle, but because they are kind of…bland, dull. He was adorable but not interesting.

Plot & Romance:

The book of Ivy is essentially a love story. Yes, there are political and ideological elements involved but at its core it’s a novel about two star-crossed lovers. The plot wasn’t particularly thrilling but it did keep my attention throughout and the ending was very unexpected. I’m definitely curious to know what happens in the second installment since it’s going to have a very different premise than the first one!

I really enjoyed the romance, it was very cute and there was no insta-love or love triangle. Hallelujah! Some readers might consider their relationship too sweet (I sure thought I would) but honestly, I found myself completely engaged. The one thing I didn’t like was a certain cliché towards the end (I’m not going to spoil), which made me question what exactly Bishop saw in Ivy.

Themes & Writing:

This book does attempt to make people think. It asks some difficult questions with no right or wrong answers. Which side should Ivy chose? What is the morally correct thing to do? Can there be a positive outcome?

I also appreciated that the novel explored sexism and the role of women in society.

“I’m not sure how we got to this place, where a girl’s only value is in what kind of marriage she has, how capable she is of keeping a man happy.”

It’s still an issue and an important thing to talk about.

The writing was very simple yet gripping and fluid. Nothing special but definitely serviceable.


I really enjoyed The Book of Ivy but it didn’t blow me away. It’s not a very original story, nothing I haven’t read before, however, the execution is well done and it was a very quick and engaging read. I recommend it if you like dystopians with a heavy emphasis on romance. I will be picking up book two.

One StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star

Posted on Friday, July 3rd, 2015 - filed under 2015, 4 Teacups, Chantal, Dystopian, Review, Young Adult .
Attraction: Elements of Chemistry #1 by Penny Reid

Attraction: Elements of Chemistry #1 by Penny ReidAttraction: Elements of Chemistry, part 1 (Hypothesis Series, #1.1) by Penny Reid
Series: Elements of Chemistry #1
Published by Smashwords Edition on April 6th 2015
Genres: Love & Romance

One week.
Private beach.
Invisible girl.
Jerk-faced bully.
What’s the worst that could happen?

Kaitlyn Parker has no problem being the invisible girl, which is why she finds herself hiding in various cabinets and closets all over her college campus. Despite her best efforts, she can’t escape the notice of Martin Sandeke—bad boy, jerkface bully, and the universe’s hottest, wealthiest, and most unobtainable bachelor—who also happens to be Kaitlyn’s chemistry lab partner.

Kaitlyn might be the only girl who isn’t interested in exploiting his stunning rower’s build, chiseled features, and family's billionaire fortune. Kaitlyn wants Martin for his brain, specifically to tabulate findings of trace elements in surface water.

When Kaitlyn saves Martin from a nefarious plot, Martin uses the opportunity to push Kaitlyn out of her comfort zone: spring break, one week, house parties, bathing suits, and suntan lotion. Can she overcome her aversion to being noticed? Will he be able grow beyond his self-centered nature? Or, despite their obvious chemistry, will Martin be the one to drive Kaitlyn into the science cabinet of obscurity for good?

I thought this would be an average New Adult opposites attract story but it surpassed my expectations in every way. It’s extremely rare that I give five stars to a novella. That’s mainly because the short length doesn’t allow an author to sufficiently develop characters with whom I can connect. Novellas also tend to suffer from rushed or disjointed narratives. Such isn’t the case with Elements of Chemistry.

This is the first book I’ve read by Penny Reid and I love her fluid writing style. The plot is simple but unpredictable and the pacing is well executed. The chemistry between Kaitlyn and Martin is almost tangible. All the characters are extremely interesting; however, what made this an above average read for me is my adoration for Kaitlyn. What a quirky, honest, insecure, brilliant, sweet girl – with an excellent vocabulary. And she’s flipping hilarious. A huge chunk of my book is highlighted with her priceless quotes.

“I was starting to understand why the blood of a thousand virgins had been sacrificed at his altar of sexual prowess.”

Be warned. This book ends on a huge cliffy. Heat is the next book in the Elements of Chemistry series.

One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

Posted on Tuesday, June 30th, 2015 - filed under 2015, 5 Teacups, Angela, Contemporary, New Adult, Review, Romance .
Days of Love and Blood by R.S. Carter

Days of Love and Blood by R.S. CarterDays of Love and Blood by R.S. Carter
Published by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform on January 21st 2013
Pages: 252
Buy on Amazon

A post-apocalyptic zombie book for women.
Without the zombies.
Worse than zombies.
The Demon Virus spreads worldwide in a matter of days leaving nothing but a few uninfected people in its path along with disease-riddled survivors who possess homicidal tendencies.
Carson drives across the country, back to her parents’ farm, with her son Ronan to begin a new life in a post-apocalyptic world. There she discovers more uninfected people like herself and attempts to build new relationships after the devastating loss of her husband.
Two men distract Carson from her grief, each possessing different characteristics that she found, loved and needed in her husband. Cooper has a bad attitude but gives Carson the space she needs with his self-sufficient, independent ways. Ben panders after her but exhibits a kindness she appreciates. Neither of them embody all of which she lost in her husband’s death.
The need for human interaction intertwines with the daily struggle of tribulation, remorse and adjustment, revolving around the constant battles between the uninfected and the last remaining homicidal maniacs.
Days of Love and Blood is a story which examines the bonds created between people in times of change with an unexpected shocking end that will have you questioning your own threshold for pain.

Out of pity for how the rest of this is going to go, I’m going to start this off with a positive – the only positive.

Days of Love and Blood has an interesting take on zombies. That may not work for zombie purists, but I’m no purist. The zombs in this book aren’t your typical zombs. They’re still alive, for one, and they’re raging mad. They’re actually referred to as “homicidals” and that pretty much speaks for itself. This means you still get zombie-ish feels, what with the chasing and the killing, but it’s not really a zombie book. I like that aspect, though. The homicidals are truly that and they’re pretty scary. And that’s it. That’s the only positive.

I wish I was exaggerating.

Thing is, you could have the best premise and characters in all the land, but if your writing sucks, your book sucks. That’s not to say that this had the best characters, because they also sucked. I know what you’re thinking. “But Jenny, aren’t you being a little harsh?” No. Someone has to say it, dammit, because if you look at all the reviews on GR and Amazon, you see nothing but high praise. It boggles my mind. It’ll boggle yours, too, in a few minutes. All I can surmise is that the author has lots of loyal friends.

I could sit here and type a rant a mile long about the triteness of the story, the flat characters, the TSTL Mary Sue MC, the ridiculous dialogue, the improbable situations, and the bland love triangle that is probably the only thing that makes the author think this is a “post-apocalyptic zombie book for women,” but I won’t. Instead, I’m going to let this book review itself.

First up – the repetition. (All bold emphasis mine.)

It was a good thing I stopped when I did last night. I might have driven right by our street. I had no idea we were this close when I stopped last night.


For the next three hours, we dragged the bodies and limbs to a few cleared areas where we could burn the bodies.

Next up – everything happens DIRECTLY.

…large field that emptied directly into the backside of downtown…

…my weight directly behind the blade’s edge…

…I stood directly in front of him…

…pushed the tips of my blades directly through the faces of my two closest attackers.

…took a seat directly on the grass nearby.

…it would fall down directly behind that lone tree.

…where I knew the home improvement store stood, directly off the interstate.

…impaled the other directly behind him.

…catching the homicidal directly under the chin.

If it doesn’t happen directly, it definitely happens SUDDENLY.

…side road suddenly appeared out of the darkness.

Ritchie suddenly appeared in my thoughts…

I suddenly remembered the danger…

I inhaled suddenly

suddenly I had a giant herd running straight in my direction.

Ivy’s face suddenly morphed.

I turned the light off and it was as if we were suddenly cast into night time.

Sunlight suddenly broke through…

suddenly I realized the stupidity of what I had done.

Two thoughts suddenly converged and smashed through my daydreams, flinging my eyes open with their awful truths…

…weeks of solitude suddenly brought back wild instincts.

I suddenly remembered the camp we passed the day before.

Suddenly it dawned on me what they meant.

I suddenly laughed at my own odd sense of humor.

Suddenly there were ten or more beastly dogs…

suddenly widened his eyes…

It was suddenly like I found my twin.

Guilt suddenly overwhelmed me.

Suddenly moving on. I don’t even know how to intro the following quotes, so just brace yourself.

A young man with streaks of bloody tears on his cheeks had left his feet and was in midair, bringing down a pickaxe in my direction. He let out a warrior’s cry before I maneuvered out of his path and jabbed my sword through his neck with my right hand as he flew by. Never leave your feet, fool.

Days of Blood and Love by R.S. Carter

“It’s okay, Mommy.”
Those two words made my lips purse and nose crinkle…

Days of Blood and Love by R.S. Carter

…while hanging my clothes to dry I smelled the wonderful flavors of food being cooked wafting around me.

That writing is clunky as fuck, bro.

Sunlight suddenly broke through and streamed in from the other side without blinding me. It came in faintly, through the bending branches and around the tiny leaves, casting small pools of brilliance around me which moved back and forth as the wind gently caressed the thin limbs. The ground around us sparkled with dazzling brilliance and a deep sigh was caught in my neck as I choked back one sudden thought.

“Without blinding me.” lololol I hate when I choke on thoughts.

The white dandelion milk oozed from the miniscule crevices created as I wrapped the stalk around my finger.

That’s infection.

I sat down in the chair and buried my face into my knees.

Days of Blood and Love by R.S. Carter

Every so often he would kiss me deeply, only for a few seconds, and then pull back. I held his gaze and accepted every touch of his tongue.

Days of Blood and Love by R.S. Carter

My hands slid up his arms and underneath the sleeves. I could feel his desire burning behind the depths of his eye.

LOOL. His EYE. I sincerely hope that’s not a typo, because it’s amazing.

Each time his grip tightened it felt like he was biting my skin with his fingers.


I ended the call before Mom could finish and glimpsed Ritchie standing there, cradling me with his eyes.

Days of Blood and Love by R.S. Carter

Do you hear that? That’s the sound of all your “but, Jenny’s” falling upon my deaf ears. No. Just no. There’s bad writing and then there’s painfully bad writing. No need to wonder what category this one falls under.

One Star

Posted on Saturday, June 27th, 2015 - filed under 1 Teacup, 2015, Horror, JennyJen, Review .
Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman

Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne BlankmanPrisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 401
Buy on Amazon

Sigh. Another well loved book that I just didn’t connect to the way I would have liked.

This book had GREAT potential, the premise was really intriguing and different from anything I’ve read before. Unfortunately, Prisoner of Night and Fog just did not work for me.

The novel takes place in Munich in the early 1930’s during Hitler’s rise to power. It’s told from the point of view of the seventeen-year-old German girl Gretchen Müller, who basically grew up in the NSDAP with Adolf Hitler – or “uncle Dolf” as she calls him – as her father figure. Gretchen is one of Hitler’s favorites because her father died saving his life during the Beer Hall Putsch a couple of years earlier. Real historical figures are introduced as well as fictional ones to create the main plot and mystery aspect of the novel.

Clearly, this has the possibility to be a wonderful story because not only do we have the fascinating historical setting – a time full of inner turmoil, political instability and economic crisis – but we also have so much potential for character development, as Gretchen slowly realizes the truth about Hitler and his party and starts questioning her own beliefs.

The novel had three strong points in its favor:

1) The realism. This book was very well researched and the author clearly had a good grasp of the time period. The story definitely felt very believable. Having said that though, I wouldn’t have been able to tell if there were historical inaccuracies because although I do have quite a lot of general knowledge, small details would easily have passed me by.
2) The way Hitler and his people were portrayed. The author really showed us Hitler’s psychopathic nature well and I was absolutely terrified of Reinhard. This is definitely a book with despicable (and frightening), complex villains.
3) Gretchen as the protagonist. Gretchen was far from one of my favorite female characters but I did quite like her and didn’t find her all too frustrating. I liked the fact that she wanted to be a doctor and go to university and didn’t let other people decide her life for her, like it was often custom for the women of the time. She was brave and definitely came into her own throughout the novel.

Unfortunately, I really struggled with the other elements of the story.

My main issue was the way the novel was written. There was so much info-dumping and the author failed to interweave historical facts and events with the plot in an elegant manner. Most of the time I honestly felt like I was reading a history book or a Hitler biography. The novel just wasn’t engaging at all and I found myself bored for most of it, trying to remain focused on the main plot line. It seemed like an endless recounting of historical facts and figures instead of an actual establishment of atmosphere. It felt like the author was trying too hard to show me all of her extensive research but didn’t give enough care to character interactions.

The plot itself was quite weak. The mystery aspect was very predictable and there wasn’t enough of anything else for me to be engrossed. Many of the side characters started to blend together in my mind and at times I struggled to hold them apart. They were figures, not people.

Then there was the romance, which, frankly, I didn’t enjoy at all. I didn’t feel any connection or chemistry between the two main characters. Their romance seemed very stiff and completely out of place. I think the book would have benefited had the romance just been exchanged with a friendship.

I was also bothered by the female friendship. I thought Eva was portrayed in a very condescending manner and I hated that we were yet again confronted with the one-dimensional female best friend whose only purpose seemed to be the demonstration of how special Gretchen was in comparison.

There were also some mistakes in regards to the use of the German language (e.g. it’s “Münchner” not “Münchener” and “Heil Hitler” not “Heils Hitler” etc.) but that won’t bother the majority of the readers.

I understand why so many people love this book and are captured by the historical setting. If you are fascinated by this time period you may still really like Prisoner of Night and Fog, but I just didn’t enjoy it and can thus not recommend it. I won’t be picking up the sequel.

One StarOne StarHalf a Star

Posted on Thursday, June 25th, 2015 - filed under 2 Teacups, 2015, Chantal, Historical, Review, Young Adult .
The Five Stages of Falling in Love by Rachel Higginson

The Five Stages of Falling in Love by Rachel HigginsonThe Five Stages of Falling in Love by Rachel Higginson
Published by Createspace on January 27th 2015
Genres: Death & Dying, Family, Love & Romance
Pages: 286

Elizabeth Carlson is living in the pits of hell- also known as grief. Her husband of eight years, the father of her four children and the love of her life, died from cancer. Grady’s prognosis was grim, even from the start, but Liz never gave up hope he would survive. How could she, when he was everything to her? Six months later, she is trying to pick up the pieces of her shattered life and get the kids to school on time. Both seem impossible. Everything seems impossible these days. When Ben Tyler moves in next door, she is drowning in sorrow and pain, her children are acting out, and the house is falling apart. She has no time for curious new friends or unwanted help, but Ben gives her both. And he doesn’t just want to help her with yard work or cleaning the gutters. Ben wants more from Liz. More than she’s capable of ever giving again. As Liz mourns her dead husband and works her way through the five stages of grief, she finds there’s more of her heart to give than she thought possible. And as new love takes hold, she peels away the guilt and heartache, and discovers there’s more to life than death.

This story is not about me falling in love. This story is about me learning to live again after love left my life.

This book was a nice surprise. I expected a book that deals with the five stages of grieving to be gut wrenching so I’d put off reading it until a day when I was in the mood for a good cry and when I was stocked up on Puffs Plus. Undoubtedly, there are many sad times but he first chapter was the only one I thought was truly heartbreaking (okay, and maybe another towards the end). Those occasions are outweighed by many uplifting moments throughout the book.

It’s the story of Liz, a mom of four young children, who is struggling to hold it together and simply make it through each day six months after the death of her husband, Grady. She is consumed with grief and completely overwhelmed with the responsibility of raising her children alone. Simple tasks like getting the kids to school on time and remembering to take out the garbage have become monumental. Ben moves next door and instantly irritates her. Little by little however, Ben’s acts of kindness wear down Liz’s defenses. The two develop a close friendship but eventually Ben wants more from their relationship. Can Liz ever allow herself to experience love or even happiness with another man again?

Liz is a character I could easily identify with. She isn’t the perfect mom. Her kids are late to school all the time, her son misses soccer practice, she’s horrible at helping with math homework, and her daughter is a discipline problem. Although she might want to have a pity party, she shows up for her kids and makes the effort to do better each day. Yes, she’s flawed but she’s a good mom and I admired her tremendously. Her kids are loved and they love her in return.

I loved Ben! He’s just a genuinely nice guy. I adored how gentle he is with Liz’s emotions and how willing he is to take what pieces of her affections she’s able to give at her pace. My ovaries practically ached reading about Ben interacting with Liz’s kids. They were clearly meant to be a family. The only thing holding them back was Liz.

On the downside, I felt the pacing dragged in places. And although Liz’s grief was understandable, her proclamations of love for her deceased husband seemed repetitive: Grady is the love of my life; I will never love Ben like Grady; we can never have what Grady and I had. It still wound up being enjoyable and heartwarming.

I recommend this book for those who appreciate a sweet, thoughtful and mature love story.

One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

Posted on Wednesday, June 24th, 2015 - filed under 2015, 4 Teacups, Angela, Contemporary, Review, Romance .
Delicate Monsters by Stephanie Kuehn

Delicate Monsters by Stephanie KuehnDelicate Monsters by Stephanie Kuehn
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on June 9th 2015
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 240

When nearly killing a classmate gets seventeen-year-old Sadie Su kicked out of her third boarding school in four years, she returns to her family’s California vineyard estate. Here, she’s meant to stay out of trouble. Here, she’s meant to do a lot of things. But it’s hard. She’s bored. And when Sadie’s bored, the only thing she likes is trouble.

Emerson Tate’s a poor boy living in a rich town, with his widowed mother and strange, haunted little brother. All he wants his senior year is to play basketball and make something happen with the girl of his dreams. That’s why Emerson’s not happy Sadie’s back. An old childhood friend, she knows his worst secrets. The things he longs to forget. The things she won’t ever let him.

Haunted is a good word for fifteen-year-old Miles Tate. Miles can see the future, after all. And he knows his vision of tragic violence at his school will come true, because his visions always do. That’s what he tells the new girl in town. The one who listens to him. The one who recognizes the darkness in his past.

But can Miles stop the violence? Or has the future already been written? Maybe tragedy is his destiny. Maybe it’s all of theirs.

“Being strong doesn’t necessarily mean not being scared.”

Stephanie Kuehn, dear readers, is crazy–in an awesome crazy-brilliant kind of way. She doesn’t shy away from all the nitty gritty scenes–on the contrary, she even dives into them further. She’ll make you feel squeamish about the book’s graphic details in the way that she isn’t at all squeamish to write about as an author. That takes serious skill, my friends.

If I had to describe this book in just a single word, it would definitely be maddening. I could say it’s dark, scary, or maybe even just fuck (because I’m eloquent like that), but maddening seems to be the perfect term for me. The things that happened in this book made me a bit paranoid, see. It’ll just mess with your brain and make you think things like:

Who can I trust?
Is s/he telling the truth?
What the heck is going to happen next?!

This is probably because the book’s narrated by THREE unreliable main characters. All three of them have incredibly different, easy-to-differentiate personalities, and you’re never sure of what their true intentions really are.

“Disturbed. I’m a disturbed person. That’s what I am.”

These characters think dark things, and they are dark characters. You’re going to bite your nails and shudder with every move they make, and every line they speak.

“Nothing’s wrong with being bad. It’s like being honest or crying at the end of a sad movie. Sometimes it just happens.”

This book’s also incredibly HONEST. It tackled bullying, fetishes, mental illness, suicide–all of those things that happen in real life that some authors don’t want to delve into. But Kuehn did it, and she did it well. Fabulously, even.

And that ending, y’all! I was not expecting it at all (but it’s the PERFECT ending). There wasn’t a particular moment where I went, “Holy shit!”–it was more of a gradual change for me. I slowly realized things as the characters did, and my eyes were extremely wide by the time the book ended.

The only reason, really, that I didn’t give this book a higher rating was because of the writing style. It was so hard for me to get into, and I have to admit that my eyelids drooped a few times while reading. A friend of mine told me that it’s just because I was a Kuehn virgin before Delicate Monsters popped my cherry, so maybe it’s just an “it’s not you, it’s me” thing.

Overall, I still highly recommend this book if you want to get into the dirty world of Sadie, Miles and Emerson, and to see the world in a different light… *insert an evil laugh here*

One StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star

Posted on Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015 - filed under 3 Teacups, Aimee, Contemporary, Mystery/Thriller, Review, Young Adult .
The Offer by Karina Halle

The Offer by Karina HalleThe Offer by Karina Halle
on June 12th 2015
Genres: Love & Romance

She thinks he's an arrogant playboy. He thinks she's an uptight prude. But he's about to make her an offer she can't refuse. Nicola Price used to have it all – a great career, the perfect boyfriend, an excessive shoe collection and an apartment in one of San Francisco’s best neighborhoods. But when she gets knocked up and her asshat boyfriend leaves her high and dry, Nicola’s perfectly crafted world comes tumbling down. And stays that way. Now, Nicola is the proud single mom to a five-year old daughter and living a giant lie. She can barely afford their ghetto apartment and all the men she dates run when they hear she comes with a child. She’s struggling and scared – and nowhere near where she thought she’d be at age thirty-one. Her saving grace comes in the form of a tall, handsome and wealthy Scotsman Bram McGregor, the older brother of her friend Linden. Bram understands a thing or two about pride, so when tragic circumstances place Nicola at rock bottom, he offers them a place to live in the apartment complex he owns. It’s pretty much the perfect deal, so as long as she doesn’t mind living beside Bram, a man that, despite his generosity, seems to antagonize her at every turn.But nothing in life is free and as Nicola gets her feet back on the ground, she discovers that the enigmatic playboy may end up costing her more than she thought. She might just lose her heart. Those McGregor brothers are nothing but trouble...

Although it can be read as a standalone, The Offer is a spin-off of Karina Halle’s popular The Pact. I was less than impressed with The Pact, but I wanted to give this book a chance because a romance about a single mom in her thirties sounded interesting. There aren’t nearly enough good love stories featuring characters thirty and older. Plus, the cover looks really cool. Sadly, I’m more enthusiastic about the cover than I am about the actual book. It really is so very pretty.

We were introduced to Nicola Price and Bram McGregor in The Pact. Nicola is Stephanie’s best friend and Bram is Linden’s brother. Nicola is raising her five-year-old daughter, Ava, alone after her baby daddy decided he couldn’t handle being a father anymore. Bram is known for being a carefree Scottish manwhore. He’s T-r-o-u-b-l-e. He tries to hook up with Nicola at Stephanie and Linden’s wedding but when she tells him she has to get home to her daughter he quickly finds someone else to shag… in the bushes… which Nicola sees. Ouch. Now Nicola wants nothing to do with Bram and she makes no effort to hide her disdain for him whenever they are around each other. Bram sees her as a challenge to be conquered.

Nicola is already struggling to make ends meet when she’s fired from her job. Circumstances become even more dire and Bram offers to let Nicola and Ava move into the apartment complex he owns. And here began my exercise in frustration. Nicola has no job, she can barely pay the rent in her crappy one bedroom ghetto apartment, and she has a child to support. Yet when Bram says she can stay in a two bedroom apartment in a nice part of town rent-free until she can find a job, she says she has to “think about it”? What the hell?!

She has a friend who owns a bar but she doesn’t want to ask him for a job because she’s too proud. Nicola also has a father who can help her financially but she refuses to ask for his assistance. Why? You guessed it. She’s too proud. I am a mom. I may be too proud to ask for help for myself but there is nothing I wouldn’t do for my kids, including swallowing my pride to ask a parent for help. When she decides to move into Bram’s vacant apartment, she’s barely gracious. She seems almost resentful of his generosity. I simply could not relate to this woman.

As for Bram, he makes this grand charitable gesture but spends most of the time being intentionally lewd and baiting Nicola at every turn. I couldn’t figure out where he was coming from and I wasn’t feeling the chemistry between the two of them. The writing didn’t help turn up the sexual heat.

I grab her roughly and with a grunt, flip her over my shoulder, like a caveman would, like a hunter would bring home a meal, and take her into the bedroom where I throw her on the bed.

Is this Animal Planet? Somehow Bram wins over the prickly Nicola but at times I felt like he suffered from multiple personality disorder. He could be so sweet one moment and an arrogant ass the next.

“There’s no time for foreplay,” I warn her gruffly as I get on the bed and crawl toward her, my thick shaft bobbing between us. “But I’ll get you wet all the same.”

Apparently Bram is secretly Captain of the S.S. Douche Canoe.

Did anything work? Well, when they finally get their act together the story is kind of sweet. I liked the little family memories they create. The Ikea story is freaking hilarious! While I never did care for Nicola I did eventually warm to Bram. My favorite character though, hands down, is Ava. That little girl stole my heart.

The basic structure for most romance novels is the same: boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy wins girl back, and they both live happily ever after. So I’m not spoiling anything when I say that I was just waiting for Bram to screw up. The unexpected plot twist was a nice touch; however, the easy way in which the conflict was resolved in a single chapter was unsatisfying. Like wanting a four-course dinner and getting some tapas instead.

Maybe it’s because I remember having my own heart broken but I like seeing a hero really have to grovel to get his woman back.

If you liked The Pact then you will probably enjoy this book. If you didn’t then you aren’t missing much by passing on it – just take a moment to admire the pretty cover.

One StarOne StarHalf a Star

Posted on Sunday, June 21st, 2015 - filed under 2 Teacups, 2015, Angela, Contemporary, Review, Romance .
Daughter of Deep Silence by Carrie Ryan

Daughter of Deep Silence by Carrie RyanDaughter of Deep Silence by Carrie Ryan
Published by Dutton Books for Young Readers on May 26th 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Action & Adventure, Survival Stories, Love & Romance, Social Issues, Death & Dying, Family, Orphans & Foster Homes
Pages: 375
Buy on Amazon

I’m the daughter of murdered parents.I’m the friend of a dead girl.I’m the lover of my enemy.And I will have my revenge.   In the wake of the devastating destruction of the luxury yacht Persephone, just three souls remain to tell its story—and two of them are lying. Only Frances Mace knows the terrifying truth, and she’ll stop at nothing to avenge the murders of everyone she held dear. Even if it means taking down the boy she loves and possibly losing herself in the process.   Sharp and incisive, Daughter of Deep Silence by bestselling author Carrie Ryan is a deliciously smart revenge thriller that examines perceptions of identity, love, and the lengths to which one girl is willing to go when she thinks she has nothing to lose.

Daughter of Deep Silence demonstrates how an author can tell you one thing, but show something completely different.

It demonstrates how a narrator can take centre stage, metaphorically throw her hands in the air and declare herself an unlikable and complex character hell-bent on revenge, but never give any indication that she’s anything more than an incompetent fool who lusts after a boy she believes is involved in her parents’ deaths.

People love them these days: the unlikable narrators. The complex individuals. The revenge-seekers. From Kill Bill to The Count of Monte Cristo to Black Iris, we just love it when an author can take a character we shouldn’t love and peel back the layers of their mind until we understand them and sympathize with them. I’ve given books high ratings for having such characters.

BUT sometimes, often in YA, authors cheat. They give us fake unlikable narrators that actually – when you take a closer look – never do or think anything the average person wouldn’t. Oh, you don’t care if the people involved in your loved ones’ deaths die? Well, whoop-de-doo, neither would fucking I. Oh, you harbor feelings of resentment towards the people that ruined your whole life? Goddamn, you must be evil.

It’s bullshit. Frances can say whatever the hell she wants about being all broody and vengeful but, in reality, all she wants is to get together with Grey – the guy who at best is covering up a mass homicide, at worst actually helped cause it. In fact, I felt the book breezed over the events of her parents’ deaths without emotion; the real feelings being reserved for when she’s in Grey’s sexy arms.

The book opens with Frances being rescued after spending seven days adrift at sea, following an armed attack on the Persephone in which her parents were killed. The only other survivors – Grey and his father – lie to the press and say it was a rogue wave that brought down the boat. Her friend Libby died on the raft before they were rescued and Libby’s father is the only one who will believe Frances’ story. So he encourages Frances to pretend to be Libby (coincidentally, they look alike), in order to avoid people coming after her. Four years later, Frances – “Libby” – returns for revenge. Or so she says.

Let’s look at the reality.

Frances says:
“Everything about me is perfected and polished, and thoroughly, thoroughly Libby.”

The reality: The very first time she really needs to pretend to be Libby, she calls Libby’s dad “Cecil”.
“The whole point of hosting this thing is because the Senator supported Cecil’s efforts along the coast.”
Shepherd stares at me for a long moment. “So you call him Cecil now?”

So you’ve perfected the art of being Libby but – oops! – you can’t even remember to call her dad “Dad”?

Frances says:
“The only brightness in the black I’d plunged myself into.
Another, darker word followed quickly after.

The reality:
“But there’s another part of me that only cares that, after all these years, I’m finally in his arms again.”

Frances says:
“Rage is a powerful emotion. Strong enough not just to burn away the pain but also sear back the whispering tendrils of fear.”

The reality:
“Yet, somehow, this is the situation I’ve found myself in. Desperate for him to continue loving the girl I used to be.”

And don’t even get me started on that part where she goes out alone at night to meet up with a guy she believes to be involved in a mass homicide. Shepherd expresses concern for her safety and she’s like “I’m badass, whatever.”

Revenge? Yeah, right. This is another angsty love story with a stupid heroine.

One Star

Posted on Saturday, June 20th, 2015 - filed under 1 Teacup, 2015, Emily, Mystery/Thriller, Review, Young Adult .
Stolen Songbird by Danielle L. Jensen

Stolen Songbird (The Malediction Trilogy, #1)Stolen Songbird by Danielle L. Jensen
My rating: 4 of 5 teacups

“I think it is our nature to believe evil always has an ugly face,” he said, ignoring my question. “Beauty is supposed to be good and kind, and to discover it otherwise is like a betrayal of trust. A violation of the nature of things.”

Without a doubt, Stolen Songbird is one of the better YA fantasy books I’ve read in a while. The novel follows a well known YA storyline but manages to make it its own, to make it appear fresh. It’s a book full of magic, political intrigue, strange creatures and coupled with Jensen’s lovely writing, I believe it will be a real hit for many fantasy lovers.

The story follows Cécile, a young girl who has grown up on a farm and plans to leave her small village for the city to follow in her mother’s footsteps and become a successful opera singer. But her plans are ruined when she is kidnapped on her way home and is brought to Trollus, the mythical troll city lying below a mountain. She learns that the trolls have purchased her to marry off to Tristan, a prince of Trollus and heir to the throne, in order to fulfill an ancient prophesy.

The novel was well-paced and had me at the edge of my seat pretty much throughout. The strong air of imprisonment really added to the story and enforced the sense of danger and suspense.

I loved the setting. Trollus is situated in a cave below a collapsed mountain and the descriptions are glorious. They are never too long and always compliment the story, without ever overpowering it. The author manages to make the city seem both incredibly opulent and desolate at the same time.


The characters in this book were pure awesomeness.

Cécile was the best, I loved her. She is fierce, intelligent, level-headed and brave, while still having a kind and compassionate heart. Best of all, was how she accepted her fate. She is truly and deeply angry for being kidnapped and expresses it too (I didn’t get any sense of Stockholm syndrome), but doesn’t waste her time lying around doing nothing and being helpless. Instead, she decides to seek as much knowledge as she possibly can and overcomes her prejudices in the process. Even though she is such a great person, she also has her flaws. She really messes things up a few times but I could easily forgive her because she admits that she was wrong and learns from her mistakes.

Tristan, oh Tristan. What a swoon-worthy male character he is. When he was first introduced I was ready to roll my eyes. Another brooding, conceited and spoiled prince, I thought. Fortunately, I was wrong to judge so soon. He may seem quite ruthless and selfish at the start but it soon turns out that appearances can deceive. He is in fact very strong-minded and caring and has good reasons why he acts the way he does. He has trust issues and is very hesitant to form a bond with Cécile but soon realizes that in order for them to survive and help others, he must learn to overcome his inner demons. Oh, and he is also very sarcastic and made me laugh many times.

The secondary characters were very enjoyable as well. Marc, the twins, Cécil’s maids, and even Anaïs were all well-developed and endearing.


The moment I realized what bonding meant, I was worried because the risk of insta-love just seemed significantly higher. But rest assured, there is no insta-love, instead you will find a beautiful slow-burning romance (my favorite kind!) that will melt your heart. I appreciated how realistic the relationship between Cécile and Tristan was, full of trust issues and miscommunication that made complete sense in the context. Seeing their feelings gradually grow was wonderful. Also, the romance didn’t overwhelm the rest of the plot; it isn’t romance novel.

A few other things that stood out to me:

- The lack of a love triangle (yes guys, it’s possible, hurray!)
- One of my most hated fantasy book tropes is the phenomenon of “the chosen one”. Cécile is supposed to be the savior of Trollus, the one who will finally free the trolls after decades of imprisonment. Except, she fails, which is a bad for the trolls and awesome for me.
- I liked the French twist. It didn’t really add to the story to be honest, but it was nice to hear some French all the same.

Things I wasn’t sold on (aka why I didn’t give this book 5 teacups):

- The beauty issue: So, I’m feeling very conflicted about this point. On the one hand, making Tristan and the majority of the other trolls beautiful, human-looking creatures with sparkling grey eyes makes sense, because it plays with people’s preconceived notions of trolls and can thus be considered original. How will Cécile know who to trust if they all have such pretty faces, right? BUT, I still didn’t like it very much, because what exactly makes them so different from humans besides magic?
- The fact that singing really wasn’t relevant to the story. It’s not like this is a problem per se, but I just felt like it was a missed opportunity. Was I the only one hoping for a really cool magic system that used song and voice in some way? Or that the curse had something to do with her ability to sing? (Granted, maybe singing will be more of plot point in the second book but if this is the case, there really wasn’t much foreshadowing here.)
- Towards the end, I thought there were certain inconsistencies in the characters and I didn’t completely agree with the choices they made.
- The trolls’ misogynistic world-view didn’t make sense. If a person’s value (or troll’s, I guess) hinges on the amount of magic in their blood and not family or gender, then why are women still seen as inferior?

Overall though, I thought this was an excellent book and I highly recommend it if you are looking for a strong YA fantasy novel!

View all my reviews

Posted on Saturday, June 20th, 2015 - filed under 2015, 4 Teacups, Chantal, Fantasy, Review, Young Adult .
Falling Fast by Tina Wainscott

Falling Fast (Falling Fast, #1)Falling Fast by Tina Wainscott

Publication Date: June 16, 2015

My rating: 2 of 5 teacups

I typically read a book in about two days. The fact that it took me four days to finish this book is a reflection of the incredibly slow pacing. The basis for this second chance love story is heartwarming; however, the execution is flawed. Right from the beginning Mia forgives Raleigh for his part in the car accident that left her disfigured. Placing this so early in the story leaves nowhere for the plot to go. Raleigh finds it difficult to belief that he’s worthy of absolution, despite Mia’s continued reassurances to the contrary, and it grew rather tiresome.

There’s very little conflict and what there is feels drawn out. The author throws in a little drama at the 75% mark but it isn’t enough to salvage the story.

For my tastes, alternating point of view stories written in the third person are a hard sell unless extremely well executed. Unfortunately with the cliché writing style this book just didn’t resonate with me.

**ARC kindly provided in exchange for an honest review.**

Posted on Friday, June 19th, 2015 - filed under 2 Teacups, 2015, Angela, Contemporary, New Adult Experiment, Review, Romance .
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Hi! I'm Emily May but feel free to call me Emily. I'm a nerdy, book-loving Politics graduate from the North of England.

Hey there! I'm Brandi; I'm a Navy veteran, Army wife, mother, feminist and book lover! My favorite genre would have to be paranormal-romance, but any fiction is game really.

Hi! My name is Angela and I’m from the USA. I live in Baltimore, Maryland, with my husband and three teenage daughters. I’m positively addicted to romance and most of the sub-genres.

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Howdy, it's Aimee! I'm a sarcastic teen bookworm and lover of the written word. You'd often find my nose deep in a young adult novel of any genre from realistic fiction to weird-ass fantasy--I'd like to say that my reading tastes are diverse.

Hey. I'm typically known as JennyJen, but Jenny will do. I'm a 30-something book geek. I live about an hour outside of NYC in The United States of 'Murica. My fave genres include horror, sci-fi, and fantasy, for the most part.

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