Low Over High by J.A. DeRouen

LOW OVER HIGH

“Love changes over time. The edges may dull, the butterflies hibernate… but sometimes, the best things sharpen and flourish as years pass.”

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One of the best things about Goodreads is that I have discovered a lot of new authors and new books which made me wonder what kind of rock I’ve been hiding under to have not heard of them before.

Low over High started a bit slow for my taste and I was prepared for the overly used high school drama. But I was in for a good surprise. Marlo or Low is a delight to read about. She’s not a damsel in distress given her unconventional childhood. She doesn’t play the martyr but she’s a believer and an all around strong go getter.

And then she meets Ever. Troubled, angsty broody Ever. It was ire at first sight and the antagonism between the two is palpable. I love how they transitioned from disliking each other to being acquaintances, to being friends and to finding love and peace in each other.

But everything was temporary. Ever’s troubles were bigger than him and what they have. In the process, Marlo had to pay the price. I love how age appropriate their reactions and actions were. Though, I do not agree to a lot of what they did, I feel like given the messy and troubled mind of the youth, their actions can be deemed acceptable.

Also, I felt unsatisfied with a lot of things in this story. I kind of wanted to know more about Charlotte, Delilah and Jeb. I wanted to see more of Low’s dynamics with her mother. I felt like some very important parts of the story were just laid out in passing to focus more on the romance aspect.

The ending was realistic but it was a bit unfulfilling for me. I wanted more! It was not the ending I would like and I hope that the next book will give me (and these two) the conclusion that they deserve.

3.5 STARS

Stars - 4


Review Headings -  Blurb

I fancy myself a purveyor of truth, a sifter of lies, a cutter of bullshit. It’s not a gift, but rather, all skill, honed to a razor’s edge after one too many trips down the rabbit hole.

Some may dismiss my talent as misplaced and misguided cynicism, but they’d be wrong. Cliches about hope and faith in mankind are concocted unicorn farts, an effort to keep the dreamers dreaming. Experiences don’t lie—people do.

While I’m not proud of the circumstances that led me to this way of thinking, I respect the journey. The road to enlightenment can be dark and foreboding, but the destination makes it all worthwhile.

But funny thing about the past—it’s a defiant child refusing to stay in time out. No matter how deeply buried, it can always pop up when least expected, and sink its fucking claws into the flesh of your heart. No, not my heart—I no longer have one. I foolishly gave it away years ago, but I still feel the ripping in my chest as I fist the crumpled note left on my porch.

I’ve avoided this day, ran from it, for the past eight years.
And still we meet again.

But to truly understand … to feel my dread and fear my future as I do, it’s important to know what happened in my past.

Or who…

My name is Marlo Rivers, and this is my story of corrupted love.

 

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180 Seconds by Jessica Park

180 SECONDS

“We are engaged in a form of intimacy that scares the absolute hell out of me. It’s as if there is a weight on my chest that I want to shove off, and I’ve never been this terrified before.
Or this whole and hopeful and connected.
My body starts to tremble. I want more of what I’m feeling, and I also want none of it.”

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It’s imperative to say that this is my first ever read from Jessica Park and in just one book, she was able to make me rethink about some of my opinions about some very important things.

Not really a fan of insta-love and insta-connection, 180 seconds made me reconsider my stand on this and the possibility of this happening in real life. I can tolerate instant connections so long as it is cleverly written but with this book – I not only tolerated it, I embraced it.

I love how this story just flows and grows. Initially, I was a bit hesitant to continue because our main character, Allison, sounds a lot like a main character in one of the books I recently read and did not fully support. Broken, flawed, difficult past – I felt that she will be predictable. However, I was surprised by how different she is. Her character was not stagnant. She knew she has issues, she acknowledged them and worked on them. Then there’s Esben. I cannot begin to explain how special he is and I feel like he will be one of those main characters who will stay with me for a long, long time.

I appreciate the idea of performing social experiments and using social media to promote kindness and hope. I enjoyed how relatable this story is and I am grateful for the kind of hope it gave me. At the same time, I admired the author for being realistic enough to also show the negative side of social media and the monsters that lurk in the background.

This book is spectacularly written. The pacing is perfect, I felt that it was neither slow nor being rushed making it all the more believable for me.

180 seconds may have been the push Allison needed to evaluate her beliefs and her life. But for me, this book is a catalyst of hope and making me believe that though a lot of days may be bleak, there’s still so much goodness and positivity to look forward to. There may be parts in the story where my heart broke (Damn 70%) but I understand and can accept it as well.  I know how pivotal certain events play in our MC’s life and I like how the author was very delicate and sensitive in writing those scenes.

This book is for those readers who would like to feel good, escape harsh reality for a short while, doesn’t mind a few tears and just need more positivity to boost their day. I didn’t really read the blurb but after finishing, I realized that I needed this kind of read now. So thank you Jessica for giving me Allison, Esben, Steffi, Kerry and Simon.

And though this is just my first read from this author, I am quite positive that this won’t be the last.

5 #THISKISSTHISKISS STARS!

Stars - 5


Review Headings -  Blurb

Some people live their entire lives without changing their perspective. For Allison Dennis, all it takes is 180 seconds…

After a life spent bouncing from one foster home to the next, Allison is determined to keep others at arm’s length. Adopted at sixteen, she knows better than to believe in the permanence of anything. But as she begins her third year in college, she finds it increasingly difficult to disappear into the white noise pouring from her earbuds.

One unsuspecting afternoon, Allison is roped into a social experiment just off campus. Suddenly, she finds herself in front of a crowd, forced to interact with a complete stranger for 180 seconds. Neither she, nor Esben Baylor, the dreamy social media star seated opposite her, is prepared for the outcome.

When time is called, the intensity of the experience overwhelms Allison and Esben in a way that unnerves and electrifies them both. With a push from her oldest friend, Allison embarks on a journey to find out if what she and Esben shared is the real thing—and if she can finally trust in herself, in others, and in love.

The Gravity of Us by Brittainy C. Cherry

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“The woman who felt everything leaned in closer to the man who felt nothing at all. For a split second in time, I felt a little of her pain while she encountered my coldness, and neither one of us seemed to mind.” 

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Wow.

Can I just end this review at that because “WOW”.

Brittainy, you never fail to amaze me and pull my emotions out of me. It says a lot because I’ve been reading NA and contemporary and romance for so long that sometimes, all these plot twists, all these characters just get lost in a blur but you, YOU managed to craft story after story about friendship and honest to goodness love.

I cannot stress how important it is for me to feel connected to the characters because I’m that kind of reader who cannot fully appreciate a book despite superb writing and editing if I cannot really connect to any of the characters in any way. I don’t need to go through what the characters go through to have that relatability factor. I just need to really understand them and be one with them and I guess that’s a gift that not all authors can possess.

The author’s writing has amazed me since the first book from her that I have read and she continues to wow me book after book. This story is fresh and pure. It’s not the love story of a hot guy and gorgeous female who fell in love at first glance then proceeded to having intense, steamy sex. This story is beyond that. It’s a story of souls finding their way to each other. It’s a story of loyalty, family and diversity. It’s about acceptance and love and acknowledging what your heart is trying to tell you.

What’s amazing is that the storyline is not at all new. I feel like the strength of this novel lies on how much depth and humanity was seen and felt from our characters. The author was able to create different personalities without going overboard. We have seen how they were at the start of the story and witnessed their growth as the story goes on. And I’m not just talking about our main characters, Graham and Lucille. I felt equally invested in our side characters and I could definitely see myself reading spin offs based on them. I mean, seriously, it has become quite a trend already and Brittainy doing it would just be fantastic given how well written and developed her characters are. 

In a short period of time, Brittainy C. Cherry and her stories really grew on me. And you know what, Maktub.

Stars - 5


Review Headings -  Blurb

Graham Russell and I weren’t made for one another.

I was driven by emotion; he was apathetic. I dreamed while he lived in nightmares. I cried when he had no tears to shed.

Despite his frozen heart and my readiness to run, we sometimes shared seconds. Seconds when our eyes locked and we saw each other’s secrets. Seconds when his lips tasted my fears, and I breathed in his pains. Seconds when we both imagined what it would be like to love one another.

Those seconds left us floating, but when reality knocked us sideways, gravity forced us to descend.

Graham Russell wasn’t a man who knew how to love, and I wasn’t a woman who knew how to either. Yet if I had the chance to fall again, I’d fall with him forever.

Even if we were destined to crash against solid ground.

 

 

The Silent Waters by Brittainy C. Cherry

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“The world keeps spinning because your heartbeats exist”

*Better late than never review*

This book is one big story comprised of little moments sewn together. Brittainy Cherry is fast becoming one of my favorite authors given that this is only my second read from her.The Silent Waters.jpg

When you read a story and it touches your soul, you WILL know.

This is one of those stories wherein I have absolutely no clue as to how things will play out. I fell in love with Maggie and Brooks as kids and even more as they grew. I admire how Cherry’s plots are unlike any other, how she digs in deeper and really finds that connection to her readers.

She creates characters which are not perfect. She creates characters you can relate to, characters who are flawed that you will sometimes find bits and pieces of yourself in them. 

She reinvents flaws and make them strengths and to date, I have to say that creating characters who seem real to me will always be one of her greatest strength as an author.

It also seems like friendship and family are dominant themes in her stories. This one in particular spans years and it started during our main characters’ childhood to being young adults to adulthood. I love how the story evolved, how the characters grew and I felt myself growing with them. I can’t say a lot about the story without giving much away. What’s important for you to know is that this is superbly written, thoughtfully structured with the minor characters providing great support to the main characters. How all the characters grew and matured with time is just exceptional. Each one affects the other and the main strength of this story is in the depth of our characters. 

Books like this is one of the reasons I read – to feel, to think and to learn to appreciate even the tiniest moments. 

4.5 STARS!

Stars - 5


Review Headings -  Blurb

Moments.

Our lives are a collection of moments. Some utterly painful and full of yesterday’s hurts. Some beautifully hopeful and full of tomorrow’s promises.

I’ve had many moments in my lifetime, moments that changed me, challenged me. Moments that scared me and engulfed me. However, the biggest ones—the most heartbreaking and breathtaking ones—all included him.

I was ten years old when I lost my voice. A piece of me was stolen away, and the only person who could truly hear my silence was Brooks Griffin. He was the light during my dark days, the promise of tomorrow, until tragedy found him. Tragedy that eventually drowned him in a sea of memories.

This is the story of a boy and girl who loved each other, but didn’t love themselves. A story of life and death. Of love and broken promises.

Of moments.

 

Mischief in Miami by Nicole Williams

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“Life’s a sequence of gambles. You’re going to win some. You’re going to lose some. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t play the game.”

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Well, this is quite the surprise.

I have read Collared by Nicole Williams before and I LIKED it enough. I came across this series in my search for my next read after a fantasy binge and the plot intrigued me. I started this first book right away and boy, I was really fascinated.

Given the premise, the storyline could be a bit messy but I liked how the author gave life and justification to the Eves. In the simplest of terms, Eves are women who work for other women to help them get out of a marriage with a big fortune in their pockets. Eves are actually homewreckers hired by the wives to get out of their marriages with their cheating husbands.

The writing is good though it feels detached at times due to the main character’s sole narrative. However, I feel like it was a reflection of the main character’s personality. All work, no attachments. She felt impersonal, unreal and void of emotions. Her mindset is on finishing an Errand (how they refer to a job or an assignment) without any strings attached.

If you’re looking for romance or a bad boy turned good kind of story, I’m afraid that this might not be the one for you. This is a woman who consciously enters and wreaks havoc in a marriage. You might not like her, you might not understand her but in a way, I kind of understand why she does what she does. And  surprisingly, I found myself rooting for her.

We get a glimpse of Sienna and her life as an Eve in this first book. However, just when we start to understand them and their way of living, that ending kind of rocked the boat when we were given a sneak preview that these Eves also has their pasts and history. With that cliffhanger, I will surely dive into the next book. Who is that guy and why was Sienna affected by him so much?

This book is a short, fast paced read that’s not only good for killing time but also if you’re looking for a different kind of reading flavor.  

3.5 STARS

Stars - 4


Review Headings - Blurb

Seduction. Infidelity. Blackmail. Scandal. It can all be bought for the right price and for Sienna Stevens, business is good.

Because she’s in the business of Great Exploitations.

She’s an Eve, a member of a secret society of women contracted by the wives of wealthy, powerful men for one reason and one reason only: to seduce their husbands. To ensure their pre-nuptial agreement will be null and void thanks to a little loophole known as the Infidelity Clause. To ensure that those wives don’t find themselves on the other side of a divorce without a penny to their name.

When it comes to the Eves, Sienna’s one of the best because she follows the number one rule of the Eves to the letter: don’t let it get personal.

When the job file of her wealthiest client yet falls into her lap, Sienna realizes that this case could be the one that’s impossible to detach herself from. The payout would lead to her independence, but will the cost be too high in the end?

Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas

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“The rest of the world quieted into nothing. In that moment, after ten long years, Celaena looked at Chaol and realised she was home.”

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Throne of Glass ended spectacularly that I just cannot resist diving into the second book immediately. I was intrigued, I was supremely curious. What happens to Celaena now? What happens to my ship? *wink wink*

Crown of Midnight offers a multitude of events that I just cannot find the right words to describe the awesomeness packed in this story. I did not linger on a single emotion because I found myself on highs and lows. It’s too early to tell but this can be my favorite among the series. (But that’s still open for re-negotiation. AS OF WRITING, I JUST FINISHED Qos AND CoM STILL REMAINS TO BE MY FAVORITE)

In terms of character development, I am glad that I was able to see a softer (if you could call it that) side to the bratty and hard headed assassin. I felt her opening up slowly, shedding layers of her solid core. I felt like I enjoyed this version of Celaena better that the one in TOG. The hyped up assassin I was looking for is here! After this book, everything made sense! I understood the entitlement, why she can be bratty and arrogant and stubborn. It all made perfect sense.

On the other hand, I couldn’t be happier for my ship. Love triangle, you said???? I’m sorry but my ship seems winning on this one although I have to admit that Dorian was a big surprise in this book. Initially, he felt like an obstacle to me but eventually, I enjoyed how he is being shaped as his own character and being made to fully stand on his own. 

It’s not just Dorian alone but all the other characters we get to know more of are ever changing and growing. I feel like we are slowly being made to see just how HUGE this series can be with all the plot twists, all the backstories, all the complex, multilayered characters we encountered.

Crown of Midnight is emotional as it is shocking, it’s twisted as it is satisfying.

I just don’t know if I can find the appropriate words for this book. Seriously, it feels like this made up for all the small flaws in Throne of Glass. I feel like Maas gave us a taste of what she can offer with Throne of Glass then gave us the main, delicious course in Crown of Midnight. This book had me on edge since I cannot imagine how it would end. With all the complexities, all the turns and twists and the madness and chaos – I did not dare hope for a positive ending.

BUT THAT ENDING POSITIVELY SHOOK ME! That was an ending I did not see coming. 

5 STARS!

Stars - 5


Review Headings - BlurbFrom the throne of glass rules a king with a fist of iron and a soul as black as pitch. Assassin Celaena Sardothien won a brutal contest to become his Champion. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown. She hides her secret vigilantly; she knows that the man she serves is bent on evil.

Keeping up the deadly charade becomes increasingly difficult when Celaena realizes she is not the only one seeking justice. As she tries to untangle the mysteries buried deep within the glass castle, her closest relationships suffer. It seems no one is above questioning her allegiances—not the Crown Prince Dorian; not Chaol, the Captain of the Guard; not even her best friend, Nehemia, a foreign princess with a rebel heart.

Then one terrible night, the secrets they have all been keeping lead to an unspeakable tragedy. As Celaena’s world shatters, she will be forced to give up the very thing most precious to her and decide once and for all where her true loyalties lie… and whom she is ultimately willing to fight for.

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

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“It is the family you make, not the one you are born into, that matters.”

A Court of Wings and Ruin

*POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD. READ AT YOUR OWN RISK*

Finishing ACOMAF gave me such an undescribable high and after reading ACOWAR…..well, I feel kind of sad writing this review.

I was late to join the Maas bandwagon and my first taste of her writing was with A Court of Thorns and Roses (which made me realize that I haven’t written a review for ACOTAR and ACOMAF yet!!). This was a year ago and I became one among the many impatiently waiting for this third book.

ACOMAF ended in a tense cliffhanger, with a promise of suspense, manipulation and a lot of high intensity. To my dismay, the first few chapters fell short for me. It was mostly Feyre’s rants and pining and I didn’t get the force and excitement I was expecting.  


PACE: The first half was slow for me. Boy, do I have a problem with the pacing. If this was the first book in a series, I would have put it down already. It was slow, sluggish and Feyre’s sole narrative can get tiring. It was narrative after narrative, only picking up when something remotely exciting happens. At Review Headings - Thoughts and Feelsabout 60 percent, I realized that the only reason I’m still sticking around is because I’m already invested in the characters from the first two books. I was hoping that the remaining 40 percent will redeem the monotony I felt in more than half of the book but I feel like I should not go through roughly 400++ pages of flatness before finally getting to a really good part.

There were parts which for me were repetitive and I feel that this could be a couple hundred pages less than its current length.


POV: This is one of those books where in I wish I was getting multiple POVs. It would have provided so much clarity, so much more information and so much more feels I was yearning for. There were scenes wherein I felt like something exciting would happen but we would never know since we can only see through Feyre. Our side characters are deep, complex and dynamic and I would have loved to see through their eyes and understand through their thoughts.

Through the whole book, I felt that much needed longing for a multiple POV the most during the battle scene. I wish I could have seen the battle from Cassian, or Azriel’s eyes. I would have also liked to get a glimpse on the minds of the other High Lords. Instead, we saw the battle unfold from a mere onlooker.


BATTLE SCENE: ACOMAF’s battle scene shouts EPIC and that set my standards pretty high. I was expecting the same intense, edge of my seat feels with ACOWAR but it didn’t come close. I feel like all these powers and strength were just left there and not utilized. Also, where were Feyre’s water wolves?


MORE QUESTIONS: This book ended with more questions than when I started. I feel like a lot of the plot twists are placed there to propel for the next books to come. Let’s start with the obvious ones:

MOR – I have such high regard for the LGBTQ community but I feel like Mor’s admission was somehow forced. I don’t know why, but it just doesn’t feel believable. I felt like it was made to happen for mere representation without foundation from the first two books. 

LUCIEN – he was a presence during the first half then he ran off to play hero to locate a missing queen and ended up missing the rest of the story. Seriously, what is up with that? No one even kept tabs on him or thought to wonder how he is. One moment he’s here, the next day he’s gone resurfacing only in those last few chapters. Also, that reveal about his lineage was most likely to pave way for another book because that’s a twist that wasn’t even fully acknowledged.

NESTA/ELAIN: These two ladies have so much potential to be amazing. There’s this buildup regarding their powers which in the end were not even given much attention. I thought that their use of powers will make a sort of debut during the war but there was none of that. Elain can be cute but her character can easily be overshadowed by the other strong characters surrounding her. On the contrary, Nesta is too strong and stubborn that I wonder if she even feels at all. There are moments when I get to peek at her humanity, at her heart – but those are fleeting, minute moments and as much as I understand her backsground – this girl seriously needs to face and understand her emotions about Feyre, about Cassian, about her new life in general. 

I still have a lot on my list but writing them would be too rant-y already. 


THE GOOD: I have to say that I cannot stay away from this book mainly because of the characters. I love this crew so much and feel like they could have been made more amazing. There’s a lot of potential left for them to develop. I like how these characters were individualized but I feel like their growth was rushed and very little development happened in such few chapters left.

These characters are broken and discovering themselves everyday as they try to heal. I love how the other ships are given focus as well but like what I mentioned earlier, I wish it could have been from their POV for a more in depth understanding of their characters. Cassian and Azriel will always be favorites of mine. Despite the mating, I really get excited everytime Azriel will have an interaction with Elain. Also, was it just me or did you get a vibe that Nesta could be Cassian’s mate? 

Another plus point for me would be the meeting wherein I was able to get a glimpse of all the other courts and the personalities behind them. Also, I didn’t expect that I would have this kind of attachment and longing for the Bone Carver, the Weaver and the Suriel. It’s amazing how all these characters came together and banded for one common goal to fight in this very GOT-like battle.  

There were also strong messages being delivered like forgiveness, hope, survival, family, redemption and unity. It’s a strong book actually but I felt all these immensely ONLY in the latter third part of the story. There were other scenes and references I really liked such as the library and the reason why it was built, seeing Cassian in his element, Amren and Varian, Tamlin and Jurian, Miryam and Drakon, the other High Lords, the three ships, Vassa and my favorite, Rhysand’s speech.  


LASTLY, WHAT’S WITH ALL THE PURRING??? Jurian purred. Ianthe purred. Feyre purred. Rhys purred. Cassian purred. The Carver purred. Helion purred. And dear God, even the Cauldron purred. I can’t even describe how unsettling that can be.

WILL I CONTINUE WITH THE SERIES? Yes, if only to get the answers to the questions left. It was a good ending, not so epic but still enjoyable. I’m still deciding if it was me, the book or the extremely high expectations I set after ACOMAF. 

3 STARS TO RATTLE.

Stars - 3


A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES SERIES IN A GLANCE

A Court of Thorns and Roses – 4 STARS

A Court of Mist and Fury – 5 STARS

A Court of Wings and Ruin – 3 STARS

OVERALL: 4 STARS

4 star rating


 

Review Headings - Blurb

Feyre has returned to the Spring Court, determined to gather information on Tamlin’s maneuverings and the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees. But to do so she must play a deadly game of deceit-and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well.

As war bears down upon them all, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords-and hunt for allies in unexpected places.

Ten Below Zero by Whitney Barbetti

“I so desperately wanted to be his gravity, to hold him on this earth and keep him from leaving me.”

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What prompted me to read this book is the number of readers with like interests and genres loving this and being the stalkerish bish that I am, I decided to read it once and for all.

I started it.

I finished it.

That’s it.

I wish I’m not writing this review right now but I’m never one to beat around the bush so here goes.

The premise is intriguing and right up my alley. Broken souls, scarred humans ~ finding friendship and love in such an unlikely place and time. It’s supposedly made for readers to feel all the broken feels but to me, it just fell flat.

I found no love for Parker. I tried, I really tried to work around her character, see beyond her flaws but I just can’t connect with her. She’s rude and detached and it was only on the very last pages that I glimpsed warmth and emotions from her. Speaking of rude, the “rude thing” banter between the two of them was sort of cute at first but got old real fast. I’m not sure if it was meant to showcase more of Parker’s character and personality but there was one scene when she was acting as a decoy which felt unnecessary to me. 

On the other hand, I know Everett was supposed to be another tortured soul I should empathize with but with his POV lacking, I just can’t get into his head. I am like only half-heartedly with him. There were times when he starts to grow on me but no, not going there.

Despite my issues with the characters, there were also things about this book that I really liked. First, I love the message that it’s trying to convey – fighting for your happiness and fighting for your life. This book is basically is basically the voice of two numb souls who had their second chance at life and love. Second, I did enjoyed the twist, well not really a twist but a semblance of explanation to some questions I had along the way and also, that ending basically salvaged what I thought has been a weary read.

PLUS, you cannot ignore all the quotable quotes scattered all throughout the story. I lost count how many I have marked. 

Another thing I’d like to point out is that I felt like while reading, I was subconsciously comparing it to another book with quite a similar theme and premise – The Edge of Never, if you’re curious and just so you know, I loved the hell out of that book.

I’m not particularly sure how I felt about the writing – some parts were good, some felt a bit choppy. I didn’t love it as much as I hoped I would and had the urge to put it down a number of times. The ending was better than the entire story. The last few pages were so emotion filled and just raw and powerful. I wish that I felt just as strongly while reading the whole book. I know A LOT of people who loved this but maybe this is not the book for me. I did enjoy reading it but I was more of an audience looking in rather than being one and connecting to the story. 

Stars - 3


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Hearts in Darkness by Laura Kaye

“Sometimes distance was easier than acting, or explaining.”

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I didn’t realize that I was reading a novella until I was done with it. Initially, I was having mixed emotions since I am not a huge fan of instalove. But for a quick read, it was …… okay.

This is a charming short story about Makenna and Caden and one fateful day trapped in the elevator. With only each other and the darkness keeping them company, they started opening up to each other, breaking down barriers bit by bit. This is a very fast, and I emphasize on FAST, strangers to lovers type of story.

Commercial: Am I the only one who thought of The Voice while reading this?

To those of you unfamiliar with The Voice, it is an international reality television singing competition   wherein the blind auditions have the judges/coaches facing away from the artists. With this, they will only be judging them based on their voices alone.

The HID plot is a lot like that. Trapped in a pitch black elevator, without any idea when they will be let out, Makenna and Caden had to lean onto each other for support. It was a sweet survival mode as they traded stories, backgrounds and even food and water. They found companionship and attraction in a very unlikely situation.

Personally, I found the story to be cute and fun but truly unrealistic. I was detached from the main characters from start to finish. I mean, I could understand some of the things that happened in the elevator but the rest that followed felt a bit too much. It’s entertaining at best but the insta-lust meter is just blaring. I felt like majority of the story was more on sexual and less on plot and emotions.

The writing is okay though I was a bit distracted with the sudden shifts in POV. I would suddenly get lost as to whose voice I was already reading but I quickly recovered. If you’re looking to pass time, a bit bored maybe or if you’re looking for a quick steamy fix – then this one might do.

Heads up: I am still curious as to what happens to them and their relationship (seeing as they professed love right away. Um okay.) as they discover more about each other, see each other in the light of day and tackle more day to day dilemmas without the bubble of an elevator. With that said, I am definitely not closing my doors on the next book.

2.5 STARS

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Sugar Free by Sawyer Bennett

“What you and I have, Sela…no one will ever comprehend it. No one will ever come in between it. But it’s real and it’s ours and I’m never letting it go.”

sugar-free

I had so much hope and anticipation for this third and final book in the Super Bowl series and I am extremely pleased to say that it exceeded my expectations and I didn’t realize I was holding my breath until that very last page. Damn that ending girllllllllllllllllll.

This series went from a steamy romance with a touch of darkness to a highly suspenseful read. I was amazed that a lot of different elements came into play in this third book, making me fully realize the talent that Sawyer Bennet has.

As always, Beck is just amazing. There’s no other word for him except that. Hell, I could look up all the synonyms in the thesaurus for “amazing” and it would boil down to him being exceptional.  He is anything and everything and I would keep him if I could. I’m also thrilled that this third book showcased Beck in different sides and emotions- we got to taste a more intimate (personal, not sexual as we had loads and loads of that already. LOL) and deeper Beck, and see him for his heart and soul. Every time a layer of a certain character is peeled off, I can’t help but cheer the author on because I know that great effort was exerted in crafting a well-developed lead. Well done SB, I wanna hug you so tight just for Beck alone.  

I wish I could say the same for Sela though. If you have been following my reviews, you know that I had mixed feelings for her in the first book, which was changed in the second book and now in this third book, I could just gouge her eyeballs out. Okay, not all the time. But there were moments when this girl can seriously be annoying and if I could silence some of her book parts out, I totally would.

Not all characters can be awesome to a T but even if I couldn’t care less for Sela, it’s the other way around for the secondary characters. I love and adore how the secondary characters built our main characters up. They were not just random voices in the background. They play pivotal roles to the story too. William (and Maria), Caroline and Ally as well as Dennis are beautifully individualized and showed big personalities throughout the story and even my irritation with Sela could not dampen my love for them. I found that scenes with them are some of my favorite.

This story is best read when your mind is blank and away from interruption because it is highly addicting and truth be told, you just won’t be able to put it down. Every chapter break was just another big tease and the suspense and intense buildup right off the bat was heavy. I can tell exactly which parts prompted me to put the book down for a few minutes because it was already tension filled. Granted, we already know the culprits, we know what happened but what we do not know is how all these things will play out. And in the grand scheme of things, despite Sela being Sela, I really wanted our main characters to be happy and to redeem themselves. I wanted Sela to just go find her closure and peace of mind. I wanted Beck to have the family life that he missed out on. 

I felt a lot in this book. I felt them through our characters and I really applaud Bennett for not leaving any loose ends, for having all questions answered and basically for making me an exceptionally pleased reader right at this moment, despite the stress I endured while reading, because really, trying to wrap my head around what was happening was nerve-wracking but in a delicious way only us readers could understand.  

Plus, that little cameo of the Filipino judge made me do a little happy dance. It is oh so very rare when Filipinos are given much importance in a character assignment. Usually, the Pinoy/Pinay is a maid, an illegal or a social outcast. To have a Pinoy given a character of social importance made me cheering all the more.  

There was a point when I kind of hated Bennett for all the cliffhangers because that is just plain torture. In a reader’s active imagination, so many things can happen and so many theories can build up just as soon as the book ends. Imagine my frustration at the cliffy that is Sugar Rush. However, I have to say that with the Epilogue and how the story ended (I have to admit I was freaking out at 91% because only a few pages were left and I still had like a bucket of questions left unanswered), Sawyer Bennett, you are more than forgiven.

4.75 SUGAR STARS.

(I just have to take .25 off for the number of times Sela drove me nuts)

Stars - 5

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Check my review for SUGAR DADDY

Check my review for SUGAR RUSH

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