Review: By Your Side by Kasie West

by your sideBy Your Side
by Kasie West
January 31st 2017
Harper Teen
Paperback
346 pages
Contemporary / Young Adult / Romance

Synopsis
When Autumn Collins finds herself accidentally locked in the library for an entire weekend, she doesn’t think things could get any worse. But that’s before she realizes that Dax Miller is locked in with her. Autumn doesn’t know much about Dax except that he’s trouble. Between the rumors about the fight he was in (and that brief stint in juvie that followed it) and his reputation as a loner, he’s not exactly the ideal person to be stuck with. Still, she just keeps reminding herself that it is only a matter of time before Jeff, her almost-boyfriend, realizes he left her in the library and comes to rescue her.
Only he doesn’t come. No one does.
Instead it becomes clear that Autumn is going to have to spend the next couple of days living off vending-machine food and making conversation with a boy who clearly wants nothing to do with her. Except there is more to Dax than meets the eye. As he and Autumn first grudgingly, and then not so grudgingly, open up to each other, Autumn is struck by their surprising connection. But can their feelings for each other survive once the weekend is over and Autumn’s old life, and old love interest, threaten to pull her from Dax’s side?

Rating: C – Okayed

It took some effort to actually come up with things that I did like on this book. Not that this book is horrible. It’s just a little too bland for me.

What I Liked

The anxiety disorder. It’s good that this was given a highlight on this book. In fact, I do think this was given more emphasis than the actual romance.

A light read. Overall, it’s a light, fluffy, romance contemporary. In other words, it’s an easy read which is totally fine but it fell short on the romance. That can be a good thing if you’re the type that prefers the subtle love in the air and not the cheesy stuff.

The library setting. My second favorite place in the world! Next to my bed obviously. Woot! Woot! On the same note, it’s just hard to believe that they got stuck in a freaking library. Like how? Usually, someone checks the entire place before locking down and like, there’s no way they couldn’t have found the public computers or the landline phones. I mean – emergency exits exist for a reason, don’t they? I was literally shaking my head the entire time.

What I Didn’t Like

Dull. I’ll say it again. If I was asked to describe this book, I would say drab. Boring. Lackluster.

Dax. I couldn’t read his character. What was really his impression of her? Does he really like her? How is he really as a person? Maybe he was just written to be that way – a little off, mysterious loner.

Autumn. This is just a personal perspective but I do hate it when people play with other people’s emotions. Maybe it wasn’t Autumn’s intention but it felt like along those months she was on and off flirting with Jeff, teasing him, she could’ve already ended things with him. Knowing that she couldn’t handle her disorder and her feelings for him weren’t even that strong enough. For me, that’s being hoggish. And for what? A cheap shot for a love triangle?

The underdeveloped plot. The snowed-in trope is nothing new. After all, it’s the easiest way to trap two individuals into isolation. There’s just so many things that could’ve happened while Dax and Autumn were having their own little world to themselves. The plot could totally use some work.

By Your Side is definitely not Kasie West’s best work.

Review: Lost Girl by Chanda Hahn

lost-girlLost Girl
by Chanda Hahn
Neverwood Chronicles #1
December 13th 2016
Paperback
320 pages
Fantasy / Retellings / Young Adult / Romance

Synopsis
Wendy doesn’t remember anything about Neverland—or the experiments done on her there as a child. Seven years later, all she wants is a normal life, but shape-shifting shadows plague her dreams and turn her life into a waking nightmare. When the shadows attack at a football game and a boy disappears right in front of her, she realizes these wraith-like shadows are real. They’re not just haunting—they’re hunting.
A mysterious boy named Peter, his foul-mouthed sidekick, and a band of misfit boys intervene before Wendy faces a similar fate. But can they trust Wendy enough to take her to Neverwood Academy and reveal all of their hidden secrets when she’s hiding a secret of her own, or will the dreaded Red Skulls find her and drag her back to Neverland?

Rating: C – Okayed

What I Liked

A different twist. This is quite a twist from the old Peter Pan story I knew and loved. I got to give Lost Girl some props for that.

The romance. Weird – I know – but I’m shipping Peter and Wendy. There’s someone on the side but I won’t get ahead of myself and call him the love triangle.

A little The Mortal Instruments vibe. Neverwood instantly reminded me of the New York Institute and Peter was somehow playing the Jace. Maybe that’s another reason why I started liking the teenage Peter. I kinda like this new character to him.

What I Didn’t Like

The end. The ending is such a cliffhanger. I hate it because it felt like the whole story is back to square one.

The sequel. I hate to say this but I think it’s pointless for me to read the next book in the series. You’ve fooled me once. I can’t let you fool me twice. That’s coming from someone who isn’t a big fan of retellings.

Reachin’. The synopsis is really something. But for me, the plot is just so much of a reach into the YA genre. Making the characters suddenly teenagers is just ‘meh’. This would’ve been a more appropriate read for the younger adolescents instead.

To fans of retellings, Lost Girl should be the next read for you. I know there’s a whole lot of Peter Pan retellings out there but I quite think this one is one of a kind.

Review: Poison’s Kiss by Breeana Shields

poisons-kissPoison’s Kiss
by Breeana Shields
Poison’s Kiss series #1
January 10th 2017
Random House Books for Young Readers
Paperback
304 pages
Fantasy / Young Adult / Mythology / High Fantasy

Synopsis
Marinda has kissed dozens of boys. They all die afterward. It’s a miserable life, but being a visha kanya—a poison maiden—is what she was created to do. Marinda serves the Raja by dispatching his enemies with only her lips as a weapon.
Until now, the men she was ordered to kiss have been strangers, enemies of the kingdom. Then she receives orders to kiss Deven, a boy she knows too well to be convinced he needs to die. She begins to question who she’s really working for. And that is a thread that, once pulled, will unravel more than she can afford to lose.

Rating: B+ – Loved

I don’t really know a lot of things about India or its culture except for the basic stuff taught in my world geography class back in high school. What I do know though is that I really enjoyed reading this book.

What I Liked

Page-turner. You will not be able to put this book down. You’ll enjoy this book so much that you’ll read it in one sitting – or maybe two like I did.

The plot twists. Emphasis on the second ‘s’ on that word. This book is really an engaging read particularly halfway through the book, it’s suddenly a surge of plot twist after plot twist after plot twist.

The romantic interest. I love Deven. He’s giving me the nice guy vibe and you can’t just hate guys like him. He’s seriously the kind of guy that you would bring home to your parents to meet. He’s that nice.

Predictable but not quite. That’s what I like about this whole book. It’s like you can make absurd predictions but end up getting them right anyways. Well, that was what I did and ha! I was correct on the most parts and boy, I don’t feel pissed at all.

Good writing. I really think the writing is good. Especially when the author started describing these mouthwatering food. She left me craving and hungry. I’m not just sure about the world- building, though. It felt like just modern-day India to me – not that I’ve been to India anyways.

What I Didn’t Like

The not a total badass character. The main character, Marinda, who is a visha kanya aka a poison maiden is basically a female assassin. Poison is her main weapon. That’s what makes her lethal but still, my impression of her is that she’s not really that deadly. In fact, it weirded me out when she kept on mentioning that she’s an assassin. But that’s probably because I see an assassin as the full-package killer deal: someone with kickass fighting skills, tricky mind and a real strong personality, someone who makes cautious decisions and actions. Highlight on that last part btw.

A little slow. The beginning is a snore. I wasn’t really hooked in the beginning. That’s why it took me a couple of nights to finish this because I almost lost interest reading it on the first night. But exactly midway, things started happening and got more exciting.

Not a stand-alone. If this was a stand-alone, I would’ve given this a higher rating like an A- or even an A+. That is only if everything was summed up in just one novel.

Now, I’ll have to wait for the sequel.

Review: Nuts by Alice Clayton

nutsNuts
by Alice Clayton
Hudson Valley series #1
October 20th 2015
Gallery Books
Paperback
308 pages
Romance / Contemporary / Chick Lit

Synopsis
After losing almost all of her clients in one fell swoop following an accident involving whipped cream, private chef to Hollywood’s elite Roxie Callahan gets a call from her flighty mother, saying she’s needed home in upstate New York to run the family diner. Once she’s back in the Hudson Valley, local organic farmer Leo delivers Roxie a lovely bunch of walnuts, and soon sparks—and clothing—begin to fly. Leo believes that everything worth doing is worth doing slowly…and how! But will Roxie stay upstate, or will the lure of West Coast redemption tempt her back to Tinseltown?

Rating: A- – Obsessed

Alice Clayton did it again! She is now officially my top auto-buy author when it comes to contemporary romance reads.

What I Liked

The chemistry. I adore the main characters, Roxie Callahan and Leo Maxwell. Their chemistry is electric. I got zapped real quick. I was all in filled with giddiness and I loved it. I love them! Insta-love is a quite no-show here but insta-attraction as always is present. I love how their small talks turned into conversations then into something more – a summer fling to be specific.

Roxie. Roxie is a strong, independent woman. Her character is what I look most forward to in contemporary reads. I can relate to her in some sense which may also be the reason why I like her so much. She was this small town girl living in the big city who’s currently struggling and quite clueless on which step she should be making next to follow her dreams. In fact, she hasn’t even planned out her dreams.

Leo. Leo is a great man. He’s responsible, charming, humble and hardworking farmer and that’s what makes me adore him so much. Did I even mention that he has luscious, green eyes and a hot bod but those are just minor details, right – or not?Seriously, I can date this man for real. I want a Leo for myself!

Food porn. ’Nuff said. Don’t read this book to look for that other kind of porn. Read this book for the food. I’m telling you. Nuts will make you crave for nuts. And I’m talking about Leo’s nuts – real nuts you can actually eat (don’t let your dirty mind wander too much).

The LOL moments. There’s a bunch of funny and sexy scenes but there’s this one particular scene that really stood out for me. It made me cringe for two different reasons. First, I felt embarrassed to death for Roxie. Second, I just found the whole thing funny as hell.

What I Didn’t Like

Nothing major. I know what I’m about to say is really unnecessary but I’m going to mention it anyways. Wallbanger is still better than Nuts. That’s me comparing the first two books in both series. One thing for sure is that I’ll grab the next book in this series. Maybe then, I can really choose between the two series by comparing which story would really progress better. On the side note, I would’ve preferred if Wallbanger was standalone.

Just to be fair, I just want to say that if you don’t really get what’s with contemporary romcom reads and Alice Clayton’s ‘wonders’ then probably it’s just because you don’t find her humor funny or maybe you’re just not into contemporary romance reads in general. It really happens and it’s okay.

This book is overloaded with something sweet, sexy and funny in just one whole mixture. That’s what makes Nuts one hell of a treat.

Review: November 9 by Colleen Hoover

november 9November 9
by Colleen Hoover
November 10th 2015
Atria Books
Paperback
310 pages
New Adult / Romance / Contemporary

Synopsis
This is a love story between a guy (me) and a girl (Fallon).
I think.
Can it even be considered a love story if it doesn’t end with love?
Mysteries end when the mystery is solved.
Biographies end when the life story has been told.
Love stories should end with love, right?
Maybe I’m wrong, then. Maybe this isn’t a love story. If you ask me…I’d say this might even be considered a tragedy.
Whatever it is—however it ends—I promised I would tell it. So without further ado.
Once upon a time…I met a girl.
THE girl.

Rating: B- – Liked

After reading November 9, I will never question Colleen Hoover’s writing again. I still believe she’s a brilliant writer or rather storyteller. I’ll hand down give her that but she’s still not on my must-read authors.

What I Liked

The plot. The story of Fallon and Ben is quite amazing.  In all honesty, November 9 is an epitome of a contemporary romance. I’m not sure if my readers have noticed but I love contemporary reads. Overall, the plot sits well with me if only the details were left out. In fact, I am in love with the idea of November 9, that one special day out of a whole year for that one special person – although insta-love leaves a bad taste in my mouth, too. The whole concept was enough to capture my curiosity making me grab the book in an instant. I just really have some issues with the characters – like how I felt for Ugly Love’s characters too – and the plot twists.

The quotes. This novel is overflowing in quotable quotes – as if Hoover was trying to spoon feed me with life lessons. Well, I gladly opened my lips, ate the words and digested every letter. How I wish the characters learned from these words though. It would’ve helped their development.

What I Didn’t Like

Fallon. My level of distraught for the main characters is out of this world. I feel like Fallon has a mild case of beauty dysmorphia. I would have understood where she was coming from for she lost almost everything including her life but her way of thinking for me was just wrong. It was deliberate and of course, I knew that but there’s something that doesn’t sit well with me. She was a girl with a superficial and self-centered way of looking at herself which might have rooted from her dad’s upbringing and her previous career as a teen star. It showed how shallow and obsessed she was with her looks. To tell the truth, I felt quite uncomfortable and somehow a bit offended reading her first chapters. Fallon had a way of making me feel as if being ugly is the worst thing that can happen in a person’s life. I have my own set of flaws and have times when my self-esteem isn’t that incredible, and this novel brought me back to the times I am overthinking and uncomfortable with own skin. Her outlook in physical beauty and her “struggle” to improve her own self-esteem didn’t leave an inspirational message to me.

Ben. Ben was way worse than Fallon. My first impression of him was he’s an eavesdropper. The worst kind at that. He felt he needed to butt in some family’s or girl’s business. Next, he’s a pervert. I mean, if I was Fallon, I would’ve called him out for sexual harassment. Although I know that might have been called overreacting, my point is Fallon should’ve reacted something instead of standing still with her eyes closed doing nothing in that one instance. But damn she did nothing because she was obsessing of how he was making her feel, she was overthinking of herself or just the fact that he was a ‘definitely cute’ guy feeding her with ‘inspirational’ words or ‘compliments’ (man, she was like a girl hungry for a guy’s attention). He had this tendency to be controlling and demanding. If a guy pushed me to do things that I wouldn’t have wanted for myself to do on the very first day we met, well let’s say he would’ve gone out dateless. To tell the truth I really do have a bunch of issues with Ben and Fallon. To wrap up my feelings for them, let’s say I was really beyond annoyed. But I’m flashing a quick double thumbs up for Amber and Glenn. They were the cutest couple in this novel.

The plot twists. The plot twists were twisted – see what I just did there? – twisted in ways I perceived them almost as mockery. I wasn’t able to predict what was happening particularly with Ben. My prediction was way more realistic but maybe not worse (I’ll admit, I thought he was a druggie or a pusher who had been in and out of rehab). Given that I wasn’t able to predict some things about Ben, it doesn’t imply that I believe that the plot was very carefully planned and thought of. For some reason, I think it wasn’t. The coincidences in the novel were just so unbelievable.

Dragging read. I believe that dragging the whole story was really unnecessary. There were twists and turns here and there and they weren’t really that good because I felt they were absurd, may be illogical and just plain ridiculous to some point. I just felt like the five years could’ve been three. But I still enjoyed reading the novel anyways.

I believe a lot of readers can go past the issues I personally had with this book because Colleen Hoover’s storytelling makes up for what I think was lacking in the whole novel. I still recommend November 9 to readers, particularly to CoHo’s fans.