Book Review: Her Tom, Her Lover

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Title: Her Tom, Her Lover

Author: Nicole Hofbrauhaus

Genre: Erotica, Romance, Fantasy, Novella

Rating: 2 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

First she gets dumped and then she can’t even get laid, but a curvy girl’s luck is about to change when she has a paranormal encounter with the cat shifter God of love.

He is a divine alpha beast, wild in bed, and powerful. His only weakness are her plump curves, which drive him crazy with desire. Is she voluptuous enough, sexy enough, to please an ancient god?

After a day like she had, she never thought she would have a chance to mate with a super-hot ancient werecat shifter god!

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I came about this book in a rather unexpected way. I don’t have a problem with erotic fiction, but I tend to avoid it because more often than not, the writing is more trashy than erotic—particularly in shorter stories. So, as you can imagine, I was a little surprised to get an e-mail from Amazon saying that some random user I didn’t know had gifted me Her Tom, Her Lover. I shrugged, accepted the challenge to read through this novella (despite my misgivings… I am a book reviewer after all) and dug in. I really wish I hadn’t.

The novella started off all right. My original impression of the narrative was that it was written in an above-average manner. It wasn’t great, but it was easy to follow along with and somewhat engaging. That didn’t last long. The story was littered with typos, bad dialogue, and crass sex scenes that made the overall effect more of a comedy than an erotic novel. The author switched the gender of the god Bast, and basically had him sexually assault the main character. I’m sorry, but penetration of any kind without consent (specifically if she’s outright fighting it) is a form of rape. Period. The world building was non-existent. For heaven’s sake, a God that’s been around for thousands of years called a TV “the magic box”.

By the end of the story I could only shake my head. It was awful. It wasn’t sexy or erotic. The actions of “Bast” concerning the main character were in poor taste, and overall, I found the story insulting to me, as a woman. The only reason this book got 2 stars instead of 1 is because I finished reading it.

Book Review: Graduation Day

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Title: Graduation Day [The Testing 3]

Author: Joelle Charbonneau

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopian

Rating: 3 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

She wants to put an end to the Testing
In a scarred and brutal future, The United Commonwealth teeters on the brink of all-out civil war. The rebel resistance plots against a government that rules with cruelty and cunning. Gifted student and Testing survivor, Cia Vale, vows to fight.

But she can’t do it alone.
This is the chance to lead that Cia has trained for – but who will follow? Plunging through layers of danger and deception, Cia must risk the lives of those she loves–and gamble on the loyalty of her lethal classmates.

Who can Cia trust?
The stakes are higher than ever-lives of promise cut short or fulfilled; a future ruled by fear or hope–in the electrifying conclusion to Joelle Charbonneau’s epic Testing trilogy. Ready or not…it’s Graduation Day.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

What can I say about this book that wasn’t said with the previous two? Not a lot. As always, the main character, Cia, is a brilliant young lady with a strong moral compass (or she was, but we’ll get to that). As far as the technical side of things go, the writing was spot-on. There were no noticeable grammar, spelling, or punctuation mistakes, and the narrative moved at a decent pace (although things were a bit slower in this third installment to the Testing series).

To be honest, I liked the book… I love the series… but this wasn’t the strongest edition to the trilogy. The pace was quite a bit slower this time around and there were a few instances were Cia was so overwhelmed with what was going on around her that her brilliance got a little lost. She made a lot of stupid mistakes in this book. She made some moral choices that probably could have been handled better, and she put her trust in people she probably shouldn’t have. That doesn’t make me love Cia any less as a heroine, but it did make it harder to enjoy her story. I couldn’t help but feel that the core of her character got a little lost.

Also, I’d like to point out that up until the very end of this series (and though I didn’t notice it until I looked back at the series as a whole) a lot of world building was left out. It is never explained why the testing process is so harsh or why it was allowed to continue on in this manner. Life isn’t great in Cia’s world, but I didn’t see anything truly startling (past part of the first book) that indicated any reason why the Testing needed to be as harsh as it was. The world building felt a little empty by the end of the trilogy, and I really wish the author would have delved further into it. There was also a lack of cohesiveness about it. For instance, the characters have all kinds of tiny technology that is being used to track them throughout the series, yet basic infrastructure in the cities is falling apart. The whole place, even the school, is a crumbling mess. Where is this technology coming from? The world Cia lives in feels so insular when you get down to it. Every book in the series is basically the same process of Cia being tested and throw together with the same rag-tag group of kids (though their allegiances are all over the place.. you never know how to trust). The settings are small and confined.

Another gripe I had with this book in particular, is that the ending didn’t feel finished. The accomplishments Cia and her friends made in this series were small, and we don’t see a lot of pay off (outside of them staying alive). We don’t have a chance to see the government be overturned, or the testing truly stopped. We don’t really get to see Cia go home to her family. It feels like there should be another book… and there isn’t.

Overall, I did enjoy the book. I love Cia as a character, and I was interested to see the new ways she was challenged throughout the series, but if you’re looking for a satisfying conclusion, or a fast-paced battle of intelligence and will (as with the previous two books) you’re probably going to be disappointed. In my opinion, this is probably the weakest link in the Testing series.

Book Review: Independent Study

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Title: Independent Study [The Testing 2]

Author: Joelle Charbonneau

Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Science Fiction

Rating: 4 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Cia Vale survived The Testing, as has Tomas, the boy she loves, and they have both gained admission to the University. She has a promising future as a leader of the United Commonwealth and no memory of her bloody testing experience, thanks to a government-sanctioned memory wipe. Cia should be happy but  is plagued by doubts about the past and future. Determined to find the truth, she embarks on a path of study forbidden by the government delving  into the Commonwealth’s darkest secrets. What she finds is the brutal reality lurking behind the friendly faces of her classmates and the unbearable realization that leaders chosen to protect us can be our greatest enemy.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I have mixed feelings towards this series. I very nearly gave this five stars because I love Cia so much as a main character. She’s an intelligent, heady character (which I’m partial to), and despite being firmly in the YA genre, she doesn’t make a lot of dumb mistakes. It’s a bit of a breath of fresh air from a lot of the YA I’ve been privileged enough to read. The Narrative is clean and well-written, with a lack of any huge errors in the spelling, grammar, and pace.  I also love how despite the brilliance of Cia, the author doesn’t force things to go her way… quite the opposite—life is very difficult for Cia. I was sucked into the story by her constant struggle.

This edition to the series was a bit of a step back from what I’d come to expect. The first book spent a lot of time immersing the reader into Cia’s struggle as she got a glimpse of how truly terrible her government is. I’m not sure what I was expecting to happen when she passed the test, but I certainly didn’t expect her to be pushed farther into testing. The second book was much like the first. The students are thrown into a cycle of testing where they are in constant danger… and while there are a few intelligence-related puzzles, I think in Independent Study, the tests lean more towards the athletic and quick puzzle-solving skills.

Now, what I didn’t enjoy was the cast of characters. I’m not saying they weren’t well written—most of them were—but I had this impending doom sensation through most of the book. It wasn’t easy to tell who’s side the characters were on. I didn’t trust them—any of them. On one hand, that’s awesome! Cia felt the same way… but it would have been nice to have a breather every now and then.

Overall, I enjoyed the book, but I did feel it was a little too similar to the first in the series. It felt like I was going through the same journey all over again, except Cia didn’t remember that we’d done this all before. It would have been nice to have a change in main plot in one way or another, but that didn’t keep me from thoroughly enjoying the book. If you like YA Dystopian books, you may really enjoy this series. I do recommend it.

As Summer Draws To An End…

Hello ladies and gentlemen of blogland! Wow, it’s been awhile since I’ve updated, but I promise I haven’t forgotten about you. As predicted, summer was a hectic season for me. There were family logistics, jobs, health, Disney World plans… and as if that weren’t enough, I decided “Spring Cleaning” pertained to all of summer, and went spastic on my house. My kitchen has been spotless for WEEKS. It’s a new thing. I also got it in my head somewhere along the line that instead of feeding my family out of boxes, I was going to start cooking every meal from scratch. What started as a 2 week experiment became a summer-long life-style change. (Unfortunately this lead to way more dishes needing to be washed too. bleh!) I also decided, after stepping onto a scale one day and realizing it was time to do something about my health, that I was going to start trying to eat healthier and exercise more (as I used to do but gave up because I’m lazy). I’m happy to report that I’m down 10 inches and 12 lbs in the past three weeks, but it’s definitely a process I’m still getting used to.

Obviously, life has been very busy the past few months, and I didn’t have a lot of time to read books let alone write reviews – especially with my family home for the summer on top of all the other things I’d taken on. (Did I mention I also crocheted a king-sized blanket? No?) Whew! Now that summer is winding down though, I’m ready to hop back into doing reviews on a bi-weekly basis. I’ve gotten a few reviews saved up and ready to go starting August 25th (which by the way, is also my birthday!), so keep your eyes peeled for the new posts coming up.  I hope everyone has had a spectacular summer! I used to think summer meant vacation…. I’m starting to think the school year seemed less chaotic.

Book Review: Reached

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Title: Reached [Matched 3]

Author: Ally Condie

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Romance, Dystopian

Rating: 3 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

After leaving Society to desperately seek The Rising, and each other, Cassia and Ky have found what they were looking for, but at the cost of losing each other yet again. Cassia is assigned undercover in Central city, Ky outside the borders, an airship pilot with Indie. Xander is a medic, with a secret. All too soon, everything shifts again.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I’d expected. I loved the first book, and I loved the second book nearly as much, but by the time I got around to the end of the trilogy… I think I was just over it. Technically speaking, the story is well written. There weren’t a lot of grammar, spelling, or punctuation errors. The writing was clear and easy to read—but the pace in this book was slow. It felt as if a ton of tension had been built up going into this book for how the characters may defeat the society, and I guess I expected that to happen—I wanted the characters I’d grown to love to step up, throw off the shackles of the Society, and break it all apart.

That both is, and isn’t what happened. The story didn’t feel personal to the characters. Cassia, Ky, and Xander (and Indie, who I still don’t care for) seemed like Pawns for the pilot. They were shuffled around to different cities, the narrative kept switching POV’s, and I guess in the end… it felt like the story went from being Cassia’s personal struggle, to an aerial view of this jumbled mess of Society and the resistance. It was boring. Ky, Cassia, and Xander waffled on their romances. Most characters outside the main three only had cameos. It just didn’t hold my interest.

This wasn’t a bad book. The author stayed true to the quality of her writing, the story sped off in a logical direction… it should have been another 5 star novel—but I think the author pulled too far back. I didn’t feel connected to the characters this time around. Instead, I was annoyed at their wishy-washy attitudes towards their friends and their mission. The main trio barely spent any time together at all. I didn’t care what was happening, I just wanted the book to end.

Overall? It was “Meh.” I’m glad I read it because I finally got to see the end to the story and find out what happened to Cassie and Ky… but by the same token, I wasn’t impressed with what I was presented. Had this been the first book in the series, I probably would have put it down and not picked it back up. Would I recommend it? If you’ve read the previous two books, sure. If you haven’t? Skip this one.