Excuse my dust while I do a little remodeling!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Review: Made for You by Melissa Marr


20419003When Eva Tilling wakes up in the hospital, she’s confused—who in her sleepy little North Carolina town could have hit her with their car? And why? But before she can consider the question, she finds that she’s awoken with a strange new skill: the ability to foresee people’s deaths when they touch her. While she is recovering from the hit-and-run, Nate, an old flame, reappears, and the two must traverse their rocky past as they figure out how to use Eva’s power to keep her friends—and themselves—alive. But while Eva and Nate grow closer, the killer grows increasingly frantic in his attempt to get to Eva.

For the first time, New York Times bestselling author Melissa Marr has applied her extraordinary talent to contemporary realism. Chilling twists, unrequited obsession, and high-stakes romance drive this Gothic, racy thriller—a story of small-town oppression and salvation. Melissa’s fans, and every YA reader, will find its wild ride enthralling. ~ Goodreads

Source: Finished copy provided for my honest review

Review: I read Marr’s Wicked Lovely years ago. While I loved the writing, I stopped right there because that series was about the fae and love triangles – not my thing. I’ve always wanted to give her books another shot though and Made for You was a good fit for me.

Made for You is told in three alternating POV’s. Eva, the main protagonist and target of a serial killer, Grace, Eva’s best friend, and Judge (his true identity is a mystery), the killer.

Eva is from a wealthy, influential, southern family. She has the perfect boyfriend and reigns supreme as queen bee at school. What’s nice is that she’s a benevolent leader. She follows the southern code of politeness and tries not to make waves for her family's reputation but she’s not a mean girl. I really liked her loyalty and maturity. People just follow her because of who who is, not because she’s trying to control anyone. Her friendship with Grace was also nice to read about from both sides. Grace adds an interesting counterpoint to Eva, providing a better picture for what’s really going on.

Some people have called Eva shallow following her accident because she focuses on her looks. But I can’t think of too many young girls (or women for that matter) who wouldn’t be concerned when their face is scarred from injury, especially in a school where perfection is so valued. And it’s not like her world comes crashing to a halt because she doesn’t think she’s pretty. She’s just nervous about being seen at first. She’s still a strong, kind girl.

Her relationship with her parents was something that really irritated me at first and came off a little cliché but took a really interesting and welcome turn.

The romance was oh so nice. Eva and Nate have a past as (estranged) best friends so it gives them a good foundation for you to believe in them as a couple. I do wish Nate and Eva had more time to have the discussions needed to really develop this romance a little more. It is sweet, complex and hopeful though.

I am not a fan of villain pov’s. They rarely add anything to the story and are pretty much just a catalyst to facilitate the romance. Not only that, even though any murderer is scary, they tend to be of the mustache twirling, lay out the whole plan and you know he’s going down variety. There is no real tension. I typically skim these parts just so I have an idea of what’s going on but focus on the main characters instead. In this book Judge is a truly creepy individual. His motivations, actions and close proximity to Eva and her friends is chilling. Of course his theories and reasons are insanity but this is how stalkers/killers justify their actions.

I’m not sure how I feel about Eva’s ability to predict future deaths. It was written very well and facilitates the plot, so like the serial killer pov, it’s not just for filler but it fizzles out in the end. Eva is so smart, practical and cautious trying to learn what this power is and how it can help find the killer and then all of a sudden goes off half baked, putting herself and Nate in danger.  (mild spoiler ahead)


It’s difficult to write a mystery/thriller/romance while still developing the relationships with friends/parents and adding in a paranormal twist. It wasn’t perfect but I think Marr did an excellent job balancing it all while keeping me at the edge of my seat. I actually had nightmares from this book for two nights in a row. I don’t scare easily but serial killers freak me out.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Monday, September 15, 2014

I liked it but…mini reviews: A Forbidden Rumspringa, The Write Stuff, Priya in Heels, Dangerous Territory

While I enjoyed the following books - a few little quirks stopped me short of loving them. I would recommend them all with a few reservations.

***


22913988When two young Amish men find love, will they risk losing everything?
In a world where every detail of life—down to the width of a hat brim—is dictated by God and the all-powerful rules of the community, two men dare to imagine a different way. At 18, Isaac Byler knows little outside the strict Amish settlement of Zebulon, Minnesota, where there is no rumspringa for exploration beyond the boundaries of their insular world. Isaac knows he’ll have to officially join the church and find a wife before too long, but he yearns for something else—something he can’t name.

Dark tragedy has left carpenter David Lantz alone to support his mother and sisters, and he can’t put off joining the church any longer. But when he takes on Isaac as an apprentice, their attraction grows amid the sweat and sawdust. David shares his sinful secrets, and he and Isaac struggle to reconcile their shocking desires with their commitment to faith, family and community.

Now that they’ve found each other, are they willing to lose it all?

Note: Contains explicit sexual situations and graphic language. This is not an inspirational/Christian romance ~ Goodreads

My thoughts: I love a good forbidden romance and I can’t think of anything more forbidden than a gay, Amish romance. I loved the couple, the exploration and questioning of religion and the sense of choosing duty to family vs. love (the whole thing was heartbreaking from all sides) but I also was a little turned off by how negatively the Amish were portrayed (although this was a particularly strict & real Amish group) and how certain resolutions seemed to conveniently present themselves at just the right time.

***


22920825Twenty-two-year-old historical romance writer Nicole Blake, or N.S. Blake to her readers, hasn't taken an official poll, mind you, but she is convinced she may be the only romance author on the planet who is still a card-carrying member of the virgin club.Not that she hasn't tried to end her membership. Life just keeps finding pesky ways to interfere. With no prospects on the horizon, Nicole begins to feel like the closest she will ever get to experiencing a man is within her own stories.

Opportunity presents itself in the form of hot-as-sin-on-a-lollipop-stick bartender/premed student Alec Petropoulos, who agrees to be the cover model for her upcoming book. Sparks fly instantly between them, and Nicole begins to entertain the possibility that she's finally found the right guy to hand over her tattered V-card. Alec has all the makings for a perfect one-night-stand candidate except, much to Nicole's surprise, he seems to be the only man in existence not interested in bagging a virgin.

Stuck between a rock and a stubborn male, what's a virgin to do? Seduce him, of course. How hard could it be? If it works for the characters in her stories, why wouldn't it work for her? After all, what happens under the cover…stays under the cover. ~ Goodreads

My thoughts: This is a super cute take on the trying to lose the v-card trope. Indie author Nicole falls for her smoking hot cover model Alec. And who wouldn’t! Nicole, is bumbling, shy and adorably normal. Although it’s explained, I wasn’t 100% buying Alec’s reason for his aversion to virgins (aversion to virgins – hehe…but I digress) I get it but any random hook-up could cause a similar problem.

There is a lot of page time given to the indie author experience. Attending cons, handing out swag, hosting blog tours, beta readers. I don’t know – it felt odd to me. But in a *wink* *nod*, insular kind of way I guess. Like the book was written for indie authors and bloggers. Not bad – just odd.

Although Nicole gained confidence over time, I wish she still wasn’t so dependent on others at the end. But still – overall a really fun book.

***


22739062A new adult title from Entangled’s Embrace imprint…

Love doesn’t conquer all…does it?

Priyanka Patel is the epitome of an obedient daughter. She’s finishing up her medical residency at one of Houston’s busiest emergency departments, and has agreed—albeit reluctantly—to marry the man her family has chosen for her. The only thing that can derail the “perfect” life laid out before her is the sexy musician down the hall who wants into her life…and into her bed.

Tyler O’Connor has been infatuated with Priya since she treated his sprained ankle in the ER, and after saving her from a brutal attack, he can't get her out of his head. When Priya puts her family's wishes before their relationship, agreeing to an arranged marriage with another man, Tyler is devastated.

But love is fierce and unreasonable and clashes with the carefully sculpted life her parents want for her. Is going after her heart such a big deal, or will it truly unravel Priya’s world? ~ Goodreads

(Source: received from the publisher for my honest review)

My thoughts: I loved how this book started out. Priya and Tyler meet cute when he hurts his ankle and she treats him in the ER. He actually lives in the same building as her (unbeknownst to Priya) & has been crushing on her hardcore. He’s all in and it was adorable. However, Priya is conflicted between her Indian culture, an arranged marriage and loving Tyler.

I enjoyed the portrayal of Indian customs and the respect paid to Priya’s beliefs. While all of Pryia's friends are Indian and have a sense of obligation to culture, they don't all live the same way. It wasn't cookie cutter, which was nice.

By the end though, I was emotionally drained and wasn't sure if I even liked anyone anymore. There’s some major drama that causes a lot of pain & heartache in the family. I get it but I was angry at how infantile everyone was acting. Every time Priya and Tyler fight he calls her a whore and says he’s going to hook up with his ex. He was so damn cute in the beginning and then turned into a douche bag. I enjoyed the end – but getting Tyler’s pov would have gone a long way to helping me see how much he really did to get back into Priya and her families good graces. The family…why bother? They were all jerks. Customs or not.

And Priya – she was literally going to die from heartbreak. Like – she just couldn’t function at all – throw away your career – and die. Cute premise – I liked it overall & I would still recommend it but I had quite a few hell no – grrr moments.

***


20694657A SEXY STRANGER

Flirting with danger is reporter Grace Grainger’s modus operandi. But she’s learned the hard way not to grow attached to the soldiers she’s embedded with in Afghanistan. To escape from her pain and loneliness, she fantasizes about the hot night she spent with a gorgeous stranger three years before in D.C. Grace never thought she’d see him again—let alone need him to rescue her . . .

AN EXPLOSIVE NIGHT

Air Force Master Sergeant Josh Travers knows journalists are nothing but trouble. So when he has to risk his team’s lives to save some reporter who’s been separated from her patrol, he’s not happy—until he recognizes her stunning eyes and delicious curves. Josh has never wanted a woman like he wants Grace. He needs her—even in an Afghan cave with a sandstorm and enemy troops closing in. This might be the end for both of them—or one hell of a beginning. ~ Goodreads

(Source: received from the publisher for my honest review)

My thoughts: Not bad. I loved all the military jargon and background more than the romance though. That part was done really well.

I really wish this was a full length story. The author did a good job introducing the characters and romance but the sexual tension and resolution felt a little off (Having sex in a cave or a small village while the Taliban might show up at any second isn't exactly an aphrodisiac for me lol) & rushed.

Despite the few flaws, I found it to be quite enjoyable and I'll be picking up the full length novel when it releases.

Note: Dangerous Territory was a novella that acts as an introduction to the upcoming Alpha Ops series.