Under My Skin

Under My SkinUnder My Skin by Shawntelle Madison
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

ARC provided by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Add this to your TBRs now because this may be the next big thing.

Give me the next book now!!!!

Under My Skin is definitely one of the most inventive, dynamic, and fast paced dystopian novels I have ever read. The characters are awesome, the world building is great, and the will keep you hooked until the very last page. Is it as good as The Hunger Games or the first installment in the Divergent trilogy? Almost, but not quite. It misses that mark because while I LOVED (x 8 million) this book and think it’s a fantastic start to a series that I will pre-order and stand by the mailbox on release day for it under explains certain elements and seems to only touch on things that should be explored more deeply.

Tate and Quinn’s friendship seems to come out of no where. I totally disagree with the claims of insta-love, completely, but I think their friendship would have seemed more natural to the reader had the author made the reader more aware of Quinn’s presence in the story before he was on Team Tate. She does briefly mention him, but doesn’t give the reader the impression that he’s to be a main character and this kind of gave me whiplash when he was finally inserted into the story in such a vital way.

A lot of the major “story elements” (this is what I’m going to call them to avoid spoilers) are not explained until almost 80% into the story. This would have been totally fine except we are not given any indication that it’s going to be explained at all. Tate never says, “but I don’t even know what that is!” or “What’s happening to me?! How did this happen?!” She just seems to accept nuclear bomb information about her ordeal without asking any additional questions. She also doesn’t seek out any additional knowledge from people around her that she’s beginning to trust. So throughout the first 75% of the novel I was thinking that the author just didn’t want to do the work to come up with explanations for the major story elements and the reader was supposed to just accept it. I was elated to finally get some info at 80%, but it was a little too late in the story without some prior indication that it was coming.

I loved Tate. She’s a nearly perfect female heroine. She’s strong, but not overtly so. She’s kind, cares about her family, doesn’t hate other women for no reason. She’s smart and resourceful. She’s compassionate. The author did a great job with her characterization. Shes the full package. You’ll love her too!

Again, this book is absolutely fantastic and the issues I had with it are not enough to keep me from telling every person I know and meet how much I think they should read it. There were so many twists and turns in it (I audibly gasped several times!) that I wanted to read the entire thing in one sitting (damn you, responsibilities!). If you’re a fan of the genre (or not), read this book!

After the Rain

After the RainAfter the Rain by Renée Carlino

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Well this sits firmly on my “worst books ever” shelf. I hated it. I’m quite shocked that this came from Carlino because while I do think that the quality of her novels have declined since Sweet Thing, all have been enjoyable even if I did have some peeves. After the Rain was awful. I’m not quite sure how, after being in such a rut, that I didn’t DNF it.

The amount of melodrama in this novel is threat level Charlie and all of it is either caused by or made unbearable by Ava. Ava is awful. She was written to have no self-worth, no will to live, to be extremely depressed, to talk like a robot, and to be extremely unreasonable. Throughout the entire book I was trying to kill her with my mind.

Nate started off as an interesting character. I remember thinking that I liked him, but as soon as he got interested in Ava (for no apparent reason) he became a cheesy pushover who seemed to live only to serve her. It was such a turn off. Ava would over-react, act like an idiot, refuse to talk to him, and he would drive across the country to make it better. He was constantly catering to her and trying way to hard to make her feel better. It made me feel gross. He became desperate for Ava’a attention and it made me extremely aggravated.

The sex scenes were not hot. Ava’s mental state made it really hard for me to even read these. She was so fragile and such a shell of a person that it felt wrong for them to be having sex. I am not under any circumstances making any claims of rape, but it felt inappropriate and franking kind of predatory for Nate to be physically intimate with her. She was just so messed up in the head that it seemed like Nate should have been trying to take care of her in other ways. I think the author did attempt to write this, but I think the novel would have been better served if there was no sex between Nate and Ava until the end of the story. It was just creepy to me the way it was written. Regardless of all of that, it wasn’t even hot.

This is the end of the spoiler free portion of my free. I HAVE to tell you guys all of the dumb shit that happens in this book because I don’t think the above explains how awful the novel truly is, but before I do that I have one word of advice to those of you who still may want to read it (it’s $7.99 on Amazon!!! Expensive for an eBook!):

If you’re still reading, here’s a list of spoilery things that happen (in order) to really drive it home: Continue reading

The Duet – Release Day Blitz

Title: The Duet
Author: R.S. Grey
Release Date: Nov 8, 2014
Find on
Goodreads

When 27-year-old pop sensation Brooklyn Heart steps in front of a microphone, her love songs enchant audiences worldwide. But when it comes to her own love life, the only spell she’s under is a dry one.

So when her label slots her for a Grammy performance with the sexy and soulful Jason Monroe, she can’t help but entertain certain fantasies… those in which her G-string gets more play than her guitars'.

Only one problem. Jason is a lyrical lone wolf that isn’t happy about sharing the stage—nor his ranch — with the sassy singer. But while it may seem like a song entitled ‘Jason Monroe Is an Arrogant Ho’ basically writes itself, their label and their millions of fans are expecting recording gold…

They’re expecting The Duet.

The Duet will be priced at $2.99 for two days post-release, then the price will bump to $3.99!

The M Lounge was the hippest and most discreet club in LA. If there was any hope of me locking down a one-night stand, M Lounge was the place to go.

“I can’t drink much tonight because I have that meeting with my record label in the morning,” I warned as we passed through the back entrance to the club and headed up a set of stairs that were used exclusively for the VIP level. Fun fact: one time I was going up those stairs when P. Diddy was coming down, and he totally touched my ass. Allegedly.

“Just to clarify: if you’re begging me for tequila shots at midnight, threatening to kill my first born if I don’t give them to you, I should still tell you no?” Cammie asked, just to ensure the boundaries were set. Better safe than sorry.

“That was one time and it was in Cabo,” I protested. “What else are you supposed to do in Cabo other than challenge a mariachi band to a tequila shot contest until the lead singer passes out beside a donkey?”

Cammie held up her hands and started listing off items. “I dunno— enjoy the beach, check out the museums and the culture—”

“That was a rhetorical question,” I interrupted as we made it to the top of the stairs.

As if by magic, the black curtain in front of us swept to the side, opening up an entire room of drunken debauchery before us. In one corner, a celebrity who shall remain nameless (we’ll call her Nennifer Janiston) was sucking face with a sexy man, and across the room two of the funniest women in comedy were doing body shots off of a waiter from the club.

“Welcome to the behind the scenes of Hollywood,” I whispered to Cammie.

 

I am a lover of books, chocolate, reality TV, black labs, and cold weather. Seriously, if I had it my way, I would be curled up on the couch with all of those things… everyday.

I live in Texas where I spend my free time writing and reading. My favorite authors include Mindy Kaling & Jonathan Safran Foer. I'm a comedy geek and love all things "funny". Women like Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Mindy Kaling are definitely the biggest inspirations for my writing, though I think my work tends to skew a bit smuttier than theirs.

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The Duet – Review

The DuetThe Duet by R.S. Grey
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

ARC provided by RS Grey in exchange for an honest review.

I’m kind of bummed about this one guys. I have loved every one of RS Grey’s novels, but I only kind of enjoyed this one *hides*!

Brooklyn Heart’s record label is forcing her to write a duet with Jason Monroe. So it’s off to Montana to write on Jason’s ranch. Neither Brooklyn nor Jason are super into collaborating, but Jason seems to have trouble even acting civil. Obviously, this is a romance… So you know the rest.

The novel has a lot going for it. Gorgeous cover, unique take on an old idea, hot male love interest, sassy heroine, and a generally OK plot, but there are several big issues that kept me from really enjoying it.

1. The book was boring as all get out for the first 40%. I trudged through it. Up until that point- Brooklyn had boring sex, she called her sister, she meddled, she went to a meeting, she got on a plane. That’s about it. Then, at 50-69% little more happened, but it was still kind of boring. I wasn’t even into the sex scenes. They were super flat. Where’s the sizzle the author wrote in Stealing Wilder? The sex was super vanilla. Nothing really all that interesting happened until about 70% into the novel. Additionally, I found Brooklyn’s inner-monologue to be very grating- which is OK. I don’t necessarily have to like the main character to like the book- but Brooklyn reminded me of a high school kid who thinks she’s too cool for school.

2. The whole “Brooklyn meddles in Cammie’s life by trying to get her to talk to Grayson” drove me fracking insane. It was painfully obvious that the author was trying to set up a sequel, but it was just too much. The overt hints to something going on with Cammie and Grayson became really over the top. I get it… The next book is about them.

3. Here’s the big reason why I couldn’t get into this: the characterization was non-existent. It took about 60% in until I felt like I knew Brooklyn enough to get behind her. Unfortunately, she is the only character who wasn’t written completely two dimensionally. For almost the entire book, Jason Monroe is a total mystery. We know nearly nothing about him- and it doesn’t seem like Brooklyn does either. She thinks he’s hot and talented, but he’s a total mystery. I didn’t believe in their romance because it was like Brooklyn was trying to date a cardboard cut out. At about 85% in we get this giant info dump in the form of a phone call from a supporting character (this seemed to be her only purpose in the novel) that’s supposed to make Jason relate-able, but it was too little too late. Who was Jason Monroe? I have no idea and I hate that I have no idea.

Of the supporting characters I did like Cammie and Logan. Cammie was well-written and I think her personality was well established. I’ll read the subsequent novel because Grey did do a good job of making Cammie come to life. Logan was a cute addition and I would have liked to see more of him.

LuAnn was given a brief shot of life in the beginning of the novel. The author obviously intended her to be a sassy older woman, but that sassiness was quickly lost after her introduction to Brooklyn and she became a background character who seemed to lack a purpose and a personality. Derek… What was even the point of him? At all. I have no idea why he was included in the story.

I don’t know. I wanted to like this novel because it’s such a fresh idea for a story, but the lack to depth to the characters didn’t allow me to. So I give this 2.5 stars (rounded up to 3) because of the unique story idea, the gorgeous cover, and the fact that I found it mildly enjoyable. I’ve loved all of Grey’s books up until this point, but unfortunately this one didn’t blow my skirt up.

Ugly Love

Ugly LoveUgly Love by Colleen Hoover
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this book, but I gave it 3 stars because having a bunch of sex cannot convince me that 2 people belong together. Miles’s flashbacks failed to convince me of his love for Rachel (they kissed a lot? Ok, cool. So that equals love, right?) and his present failed to convince me that he and Tate had anything in common besides sexual compatibility and the same interior design taste.

I hated both of these characters. I don’t believe that Mile’s past gave him an excuse to act like a total dick to everyone. Tate was a total doormat and should have told him not to let the door hit him in the ass on the way out a trillion times. Grow a spine, Tate!

Tate was the worst. People like her can’t exist in real life, right? If so, I don’t want to live on this planet anymore. Most of her inner dialogue is just her waxing poetic about how great all the words that come out of his mouth are. Real quote from actual book:

I wonder if his voice could make me love the word [ox]. “Say the word ox. Just say it.” “Ox,” he says, with slight hesitation. I smile. I love the word ox. It’s my new favorite word.

And Tate is liquid and other things are like liquid thirteen times. I counted. That is a literal number. And not literal as in figurative (I can’t believe they put that in the dictionary. Those Webster people are assholes).

Mile invades a lot. Whatever the fuck that means. “He’s looking straight at me. Invading me.” or “Miles is in my mouth. He’s invading me again.” I cannot roll my eyes hard enough at this. He “invades” her fourteen times. So that’s cool. All fourteen times failed to convince me that that actually means anything though.

I just can’t get over how weak Tate was. From the beginning she should have run far away from Miles. Because he’s fracking crazy and just flat out mean. Miles needed to get over himself the entire book. Miles will come to Tate for sex and she’ll be like “I know this is wrong and he’s using me, but I don’t know how to tell him no.” Yes, you do, but you are an idiot.

Overall, this is an entertaining read as long as your expectations aren’t too sky high and you have a high tolerance for incredible stupidity.

Yes Please

Yes PleaseYes Please by Amy Poehler
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Bossypants or Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? this is not. Those books are hilarious. They had me laughing so hard my abs hurt. I giggled a couple of times while reading Yes Please, but overall, this book is more memoir and advice than anything else.

Amy Poehler didn’t seem to write this book to entertain. She wrote it as if she’s your cool “aunt” you only see every once in a while who has a cool job like tour manager or flight attendant and thinks that since she’s had so many unique experiences that it’s her duty to tell you what she knows- whether you asked her to or not.

The book is very preachy- as if Poehler thinks she’s an expert on life- but it is a memoir, so it was kind of expected that she’d sound off on what she’s learned. I just kind of expected it to be funnier.

But you’ll notice I did give this 4 stars because regardless of whether or not it was what I was expecting, it was an enjoyable read. Amy Poehler comes off as wonderful and down to earth. Her views on womanhood, careers, and motherhood are insightful and kind. She’s the type of woman who probably isn’t talking shit about you after you leave the room. Probably.

Read this book, but don’t expect to find it in the humor section with Bossypants and Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?. Poehler, Kaling, and Fey are the trifecta of female comedy, but Poehler’s book isn’t really all that funny.