Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith, Jane Austen, Roberto Parada

Pride and Prejudice and ZombiesPride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’m not sure why, but I was expecting this to be something other than a rewrite of Pride and Prejudice with zombies added. So I was a tad disappointed when I found myself reading the same book I’ve read 30 times over again with minor differences.

This book was fine for what it is. It’s incredibly kitsch, so I don’t expect people who aren’t fans of the original to like it. I had a good time reading it.

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The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things by Ann Aguirre

The Queen of Bright and Shiny ThingsThe Queen of Bright and Shiny Things by Ann Aguirre
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My favorite thing about this was the teenagers acting like teenagers without acting like what adults think teenagers act like. These teenagers had been abused, neglected, and had suffered major trauma, but were trying to be better. They overreacted, they made poor choices, but it wasn’t because they were stupid or weren’t taking things seriously. It was because they’re teenagers. I remember being 16 vividly. I remember how important everything was and how I felt everything as if it was magnified a thousand times. I had my first boyfriend and fell madly in love with him for no reason. Then I got my heart broken as was more sad than I had any real right to be. This book conjured a lot of those feelings for me. I felt like the author did a pretty authentic job of recreating what it feels like to be 16 (at least in my experience). Maybe it’s that I live in a small town too (it’s called “Niceville,” for goodness sake), but I could relate to being able to bike every where and walking around town with friends.

Sage’s thing with cars was so silly that it would have made me want to stab my eyeballs out if not for my brief experimentation with veganism for absolutely no reason when I was 16. When I say no reason, I mean no reason. I had no moral objection to anything. I just thought being a vegan was cool. So I could see why 16 year old Sage would decide cars = bad. Especially with her past negative experiences with them. Sage had several reasons to avoid cars. I had zero reasons to justify being a vegan. I mean, besides being an unbearable idiot.

Additionally, I really liked how fully the author developed her characters. I felt like I had a good idea of who each person was. She really took the time to develop everyone and their relationships with each other. I loved this. The last book I read did an extremely poor job of drawing me into the book’s world so I was very ready to be fully absorbed in the book characters’ lives.

The book was, at times, super cheesy. Shane says himself that he doesn’t know how to be a boyfriend and the romantic things he does for Sage seem to be ripped out of an after school special. The rest of the book was so well done that I could get past it. And to be honest, the cheese sort of fit in with the rest of the book. Teenagers doing what they thing they should be doing because everything is so important and momentous and real to them.

I had 2 main complaints though:
1. Ryan. WTF was the point of this character. He seemed to exist only to be the catalyst to Sage’s transformation. As soon as she meets Shane it’s like the author was like “oh man. I better get this other dude out of the way so he doesn’t cause any drama between Shange.” I get that a lot of the consequences of Ryan’s quasi-removal from the story were essential to the plot and were super interesting to read, but I wish he would have been better incorporated back into the story. They’re BFF’s at the beginning and then all of a sudden (due to something super shitty Ryan does) he’s pretty much exiled from Sage’s life and only allowed back in as a very minor supporting character. I think a lot more could have been done with Ryan in the story. It seemed like a waste.

2. (view spoiler)

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The Secrets We Keep by Trisha Leaver

<a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24688278-the-secrets-we-keep” style=”float: left; padding-right: 20px”><img border=”0″ alt=”The Secrets We Keep” src=”https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1435860959m/24688278.jpg” /></a><a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24688278-the-secrets-we-keep”>The Secrets We Keep</a> by <a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7029937.Trisha_Leaver”>Trisha Leaver</a><br/>
My rating: <a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1259124771″>1 of 5 stars</a><br /><br />
For such a short book, this took me forever to read. Partly because it was just so two dimensional in every single way. Great idea for a novel, but very poor execution. <br><br>I didn’t connect with any of it. I didn’t feel sad when Maddy and Ella get into the accident. I didn’t feel sad when Maddy dies and Ella decides to take over her identity. I didn’t feel anything at all when Ella struggles with her decision. I didn’t hate any of the bad guys. I wasn’t overly absorbed in the story. Nothin’. The author failed to draw me in and make me care. <br><br>The novel basically has no plot. The plot is: Ella and Maddy get into accident. Ella takes over Maddy’s identity. Maddy did something bad. Ella doesn’t want to be Maddy anymore. Even the mystery surrounding the bad thing Maddy did before she died is painfully boring. There’s no giant conspiracy. Ella basically just asks someone what happened and is told. I was expecting this book to at some point have some interesting sub plots- Ella starts dating her old best friend as Maddy and has to come clean OR the bad thing Maddy did before dying has major consequences for Ella OR Maddy’s relationship with her boyfriend was actually abusive or SOMETHING. But it was just Ella grieving in self-destructive ways and nothing exciting ever coming from it. <br><br>I was bored the entire novel. So incredibly bored.
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Sugar Scars by Travis Norwood

Sugar ScarsSugar Scars by Travis Norwood
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Received via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

OY VEY! OK, here’s the takeaway: this is a great idea for a story. I actually enjoyed reading it. The pacing is great. It’s totally original. The world building is superb. Yet, it made me feel kind of icky.

The premise definitely something I haven’t encountered before. I have to give the author props for that. Sugar is in her early twenties and one of the few people who are immune to a virus that has killed all but 1 in 9600 people. The problem is she’s diabetic and has to figure out how to make her own insulin or die after what she’s stockpiled expires.

I’m giving this 2.5 stars (and not rounding up) because of the author’s originality and my overall enjoyment of the story, but I am having to shove a ton of dust and grime under the rug to do so. There are two big things wrong with this book and one of them is gigantic.

1. The character development is somewhat inconsistent and sometimes lacking.

a) Sugar’s voice seemed to shift at about 10% into the book. She all of a sudden goes from authentic young woman to old lady. Examples: “Don’t judge me. I don’t know what kind of society will have formed years from now, if the world is able to recover, or what kind of morals you’ll have when reading this.” and “We made love on the lounge chair out in the open. […] We were utterly, deliciously alone.” All of a sudden Sugar’s narration sounded like things my southern Methodist mom would write if she was trying to write a romance novel.

b) Kyle is way underdeveloped. We’re told Sugar loves him, but we’re never exposed to this process. We don’t know much about Kyle or their relationship. I was annoyed that I wasn’t in on why Sugar liked him.

2. The overall tone of this novel is ignorant and prejudiced. I felt like I was watching Fox News.

a)There is a stupid amount of talk of religion and God. Do I think the question of God’s existence belongs in a post-apocalyptic novel? Absolutely. That’s why I wasn’t super put off by it until it came up for the 10,000th time. I believe in God and I was irritated. I can’t imagine how put off any non-religious readers will be.

b) The author’s views on women and what they think about sex and men are prehistoric. He seemed to have no earthly idea what the average young women actually thinks about sex. I’m just going to leave some quotes here for you to see for yourself.

i) “If I had a future, if there could ever be a future with a man in my life, I wondered how he would react to seeing [my scars] the first time. Men want their women smooth under their touch.” Ok, well there are like 5 women left in Florida so men probably aren’t that picky any more. And that’s not even remotely true anyway. Prior to 1950’s belief, men care about more than a woman’s naked body- not that this book would do anything to convince you of that.
ii) “I wasn’t taking any birth control, and I thought it was the fertile time in my cycle. God or nature had arranged woman’s desire to be strongest when she was primed for making babies, and the night before, I had been very willing.” Just, ick.
iii) “The nakedness of a man to a woman is completely different than a woman’s to a man.” Naked men are just kind of gross, right ladies? Who would ever want to look at a naked man?????? Amiright? *eye roll*
iv) “I decided to play along and lull him into a false sense of security. Men were at their weakest when desire took over.” Men are so dumb. Show a little skin and maybe we can even earn the right to vote!
v) “John had seen all of me, but sometimes getting close to seeing everything was more tantalizing.” Nah.

I’m just going to stop there. I think you get it.

c) Without giving too much away I want to address one more thing. There’s a point in the novel where the protagonist encounters Brazilians. 99% of the Brazilian men (there is literally one man excluded) have rounded up all of the women and children, are raping them, and using them as currency. Because of course everything is A-OK in Tallahassee, FL, AMERICUH. The Americans live in peace and harmony with only one bad guy, but foreigners are evil.

So that’s pretty much it, y’all. I want to reiterate that this book would be a 5-star read without all of the bullshit I pointed out above. It truly is a good story, but there’s a lot of ignorant garbage you have to wade through to be able to enjoy it. If you’re going to read while female or feminist, you really need to strap in because it’s tough to get through. I mean, it’s not overtly homophobic. So I guess that’s something?

I also just want to leave this excerpt from the acknowledgements page here. FOR REASONS.

I am deeply grateful to Orson Scott Card for his patience and guidance. Reading his stories for the past three decades showed me what I wanted to be as a writer. His advice over the past year took my craft to the next level.

Oh.

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Roommates (Roommates, #1) by Erin Leigh, Tara Brown

Roommates (Roommates, #1)Roommates by Erin Leigh
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

There were so many things off about this book. It wasn’t bad, really, but it definitely wasn’t good.

1. SO. MUCH. SLUT-SHAMING. All of the girls who like sex in this book are sluts and whores. To be fair, Brady is called a slut too, but why can’t everyone just like sex? Why do they have to be sluts?

2. Transphobia and homophobia. This was perplexing to me, because there’s a point in the book where the characters are discussing whether someone is gay and one of the minor characters says “not to break up bigot hour.” So apparently the author knew she was writing in these scenes of transphobia and homophobia and chose to do it anyway. Why? I understand trying to write your characters a certain way- you want Brady and his friends to be assholes, but there are so many other ways to make someone an asshole that I don’t think it’s necessary to use something that we’re still struggling with as a society.

3. This book employs my least favorite trope. The “not like other girls” trope.

“Her name is Natalie Banks and we don’t mock her or treat her like a PF, ever. She’s best friends with Sami Ford, obviously, but she’s way cooler than just that. While she’s crazy hot and super fun, she’s also a ninja. She can play NHL 16 better than any of us. She laughs at dirty shit, eats pizza, and not just one slice, drinks beer, and yeah-she’s perfect. If I were you I’d just marry her and end it there. Get it over with. There’s no denying she’s the best chick in the world. She even works and has a degree and takes care of herself. There’s just no fault.”

This is what I want to know: what is so wrong with other women that being “not like other women” has become a good thing? What’s the alternative? Being like a man. OK, that’s fine too. It’s fine to like video games and pizza and to swear, but it’s also fine to like makeup and the color pink and romantic movies. I don’t get why this is a cool, popular, thing. There’s nothing wrong with women. It’s OK to be like other women.

4. This book need an editor. Badly. This book uses the phrase “sew your oats” 6 times. Sew. SEW.

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A Brit on the Side RELEASE DAY BLITZ!!

Ah!!! Good morning, guys! I am SO incredibly excited about Brenda St. John Brown’s newest novel that dropped today! The novel is called a Brit on the Side and it’s ah-maz-ing! If you haven’t already, you can read my full review here or on Goodreads! It’s only $.99 so do yourself a favor and get to one-clicking!

A Brit on the Side_final cover_AMZCover Design: Sarah Hansen/Okay Creations

Release Date: August 15, 2016

 

Synopsis

Bea’s English escape plan:
• Work in a real British castle
• Quality time with bestie
• Figure out what spotted dick really is
• Fall for bestie’s older brother. Hard.

Bea Gillespie would rather do anything than teach summer school math two classrooms down from her ex-fiancé. So when her best friend, Scarlett, invites her to England for the summer to work in her family’s castle-turned-hotel, she jumps at the chance.

Now Bea’s an ocean away from her problems at home, but she’s got a bigger one. A British one. Scarlett’s older brother, Jasper, is at Castle Calder for the summer, too. And he’s as sexy and smart as Bea remembers. Two years ago Jasper came stateside, and he and Bea shared a hot weekend. But that’s all it was — a weekend. One she purposely didn’t tell Scarlett about.

It didn’t feel like much of a secret until now. As Bea falls for Jasper, what started off as a fling begins feeling more and more like the kind of thing you’d gush about to your best friend. If you hadn’t been lying to her all along.

 

Goodreads

 

Purchase Links
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/2aOLVSK

 

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Giveaway

$20 Amazon Gift Card

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/0cba4250292/?

 

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About the Author

I’m a displaced New Yorker living in the UK. I lived in London for nearly six years, but now I’m living in The North, in a tiny English village. There are sheep everywhere! Sheep!! (This is so strange to me I always have to say it twice. With multiple exclamation points.)

My novels are about teens and twenty-somethings kissing. I especially love writing sweet moments that end with a sizzle. For more info on all of my books (including one you can read for FREE), visit my website at http://brendastjohnbrown.com.

I like running and Doritos, not necessarily in that order. I also like libraries, old churches and Paris. One day I’m going to write a novel set in Paris, which will necessitate lots of trips for “research.”

 

Connect with Brenda

Newsletter Link: http://hyperurl.co/bsjb_newsletter

Facebook Author Page: http://bit.ly/29Cvwhx

Facebook Reader Group: http://bit.ly/2agyR6Q

Goodreads Author Page: http://bit.ly/29IWZDe

Twitter: http://bit.ly/29NDAzp

Instagram: http://bit.ly/29JHXb7

Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/29KkvNu

 

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A Brit on the Side by Brenda St. John Brown

A Brit on the Side (Calder Castle #1)A Brit on the Side by Brenda St. John Brown
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Brenda St. John Brown is my FAVORITE. I know I’m going to love anything she writes so I’m always super excited when I see she has a new novel coming out. She never disappoints me and this time wasn’t any different.

A Brit on the Side is a lighter read than what I’m used to from Brenda, but it’s SO incredibly well done. I was totally sucked into Bea’s story from the first page. Bea’s recently broken off an engagement to Theo. Theo’s a great guy, but kind of like vanilla ice cream- delicious, but doesn’t make your heart race. So she’s taken her roommate, Scarlett up on her offer to come work at her family’s castle for the summer. All’s well until she finds out Scarlett’s brother, Jasper, will also be at the castle for the summer. Bea and Jasper shared a steamy weekend, but nothing ever came of it, and Bea regretfully neglected to mention it to Scarlett. Uh oh… The story takes off from there.

What I think Brenda does so well is realistic relationships. She has this amazing ability to write people that you feel like could actually exist. Her characters have realistic conversations and reactions to the events that transpire in her novels. It’s so refreshing. I get so sick of the grand gestures and sappy conversations in a lot of new adult novels. When I open one of Brenda’s novels I know I’m going to get sucked into a world I feel like I could really live in. A world populated by people I think I could tolerate and be friends with in real life. ABotS is no different in this respect.

The author did a great job of giving the characters’ distinct personalities. Obviously Jasper is super swoony, but some of the minor character’s really stood out to me. Scarlett was so well written in the sense that she seemed very difficult and self-centered, but was still likable. I think the early twenties are a tough time for female friendships. Most women are figuring out who they are and what they want during this time in their lives. A lot of the time their relationships with other women become more difficult because everyone is in the middle of being the most selfish they’ll ever be. I think the way Scarlett and Bea were written really walked the line of them being realistically self-centered and also truly caring about each other and the other’s needs and feelings. This relationship was really well done. I also really loved Bea’s relationship with her mother. Bea’s mother is full of cliches and southern advice that I found so realistic that I wonder if Brenda has a southern mother. I do have a southern mother and Mrs. Gillespie was so spot on. She means well and you can tell she loves Bea, but can sometimes really miss the mark with her advice and what she thinks is best for her daughter. I loved this.

The character building here is just really complex. I loved how every character was super nuanced and authentic. Brenda doesn’t use these lazy throw away characters as plot devices like you see in a lot of NA novels. You don’t have “the villain” who is just around to stir up trouble and create conflict. The story is well plotted and well paced and moves along because the author has actually put effort into moving the story forward- not because there’s a character that exists solely to create a conflict arch for our hero and heroine to work through. Additionally, this story is as much a love story between Bea and Jasper as it is a story of growth for Bea. She’s peeled back super slowly over the course of the novel and truly comes into herself. It was really rewarding to read her story and see her not only fall in love with Jasper, but she seems to start to love herself as well.

And finally, I’m going to say what I say at the end of every one of my reviews for this author, the way she resolves conflict just realllllly realllly does it for me. Her characters behave like actual humans to solve their problems and I LOVE it. The main conflict arch isn’t resolved because of some crazy deus ex machina or anything else weird, it’s resolved as if it takes place on Earth. Thank you for this, Brenda. THANK YOU.

In closing, I highly recommend this. It just screams summer read. It’s a perfect beach or vacation book. It isn’t heavy on the angst, but is a super cute love story with a lot of depth. If you’re looking for something to curl up on a beach chair with or sit on your back porch and read with a Coke in your hand, this is your book. I will 100% be pre-ordering this in paperback as soon as its available.

Chasing Spring by R.S. Grey

Chasing SpringChasing Spring by R.S. Grey
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The problem with this book was that it failed to show me the why. Why were Chase and Lilah in love? I realize they were childhood friends and that we were supposed to infer that they’d just known each other so long that love with inevitable, but that’s not how it works. I’ve known my friend, Brice, since I was 3 or 4. He may have literally been my very first friend. We have never ever even been in like with each other, much less love. He’s a great guy, but knowing someone for most of your life does not a soulmate make. I needed to see more interaction between these two characters to make me convinced that they were somehow even friends- flashbacks, present day, something. But the other never provides that. We only get present day, surly Lilah and hero Chase who haven’t been friends for 2 years. Which by the way, I didn’t feel like that conflict was adequately explained either. It was explained, but I didn’t feel connected to the tragedy.

Overall, this was an ok idea that was executed sort of poorly. I failed to connect with any of it, really.

So would I recommend this book? No. Go read With This Heart.

Split Second (Pivot Point, #2) by Kasie West

Split Second (Pivot Point, #2)Split Second by Kasie West
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really, really liked this series. I liked the characters, I liked the story, and I liked the twists. Honestly, I wish I could write a super specific review and tell you all the things I loved about it, but I don’t think I can. I definitely can’t put my finger on why it deserves 5 stars. It probably doesn’t, but I loved it 5 stars worth so that’s what it gets.

The new character additions were pretty cool. I loved Connor and wish he would have been included in the first book as well so I could have gotten to know him better.

The switch from only Addie’s POV in the first book to Addie and Laila’s POV in the second book was a little weird and I felt like there were a lot of sub plots swirling around at one time, but none of that was enough to put me off at all.

I think I really liked how sweet this series was. The overall tone of it was such that I knew I was going to be totally satisfied at the end. I could tell Kasie West was building up to a sweet, happy ending and I didn’t need to have any anxiety about whether or not everything would work out for the characters- I just knew it would.

Pivot Point (Pivot Point, #1) by Kasie West

Pivot Point (Pivot Point, #1)Pivot Point by Kasie West
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Does this book deserve the 5 stars I gave it? Mehhhh. Probably not. There’s a lot wrong with it. Let’s be real, if I was writing a review for an english class the first thing I would point out is the total and complete lack of world building. I mean none. None at all. It sucks. Buttttttt (I feel like I say this all the time) I’m the boss of reviews and I enjoyed the hell out of this so it gets 5 stars.

So yeah, something about this really appealed to me. I’m not sure why I liked it so much. It had a unique premise> I surprisingly didn’t have a hard time keeping the parallel possible paths straight. I found the main character, Addie, super likable. The supporting characters were engaging. And at the end, when Addie had to make her choice, I felt so horrible for her and wanted to reach out and hug her.

So yeah, I liked this 5 stars worth for probably superficial reasons that I can’t totally quantify, but that’s the way it is sometimes.

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