Source: Bought from Amazon


The Hating Game by Sally Thorne | Book Review

November 9, 2017 Adult Fiction, Book Review 4 ★★★★★

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne | Book ReviewThe Hating Game by Sally Thorne
Published by William Morrow on August 9, 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 384
Format: eBook
Source: Bought from Amazon
Amazon Add to Goodreads
5 Stars
Nemesis (n.)
1) An opponent or rival whom a person cannot best or overcome;
2) A person’s undoing;
3) Joshua Templeman.


Lucy Hutton and Joshua Templeman hate each other. Not dislike. Not begrudgingly tolerate. Hate. And they have no problem displaying their feelings through a series of ritualistic passive aggressive maneuvers as they sit across from each other, executive assistants to co-CEOs of a publishing company. Lucy can’t understand Joshua’s joyless, uptight, meticulous approach to his job. Joshua is clearly baffled by Lucy’s overly bright clothes, quirkiness, and Pollyanna attitude.

Now up for the same promotion, their battle of wills has come to a head and Lucy refuses to back down when their latest game could cost her her dream job…But the tension between Lucy and Joshua has also reached its boiling point, and Lucy is discovering that maybe she doesn’t hate Joshua. And maybe, he doesn’t hate her either. Or maybe this is just another game.

You. Guys. I didn’t think I’d like The Hating Game, and I actually had it on my “possibly” shelf on Goodreads for a long time because I didn’t believe anyone when they said it was amazing. I finally bit the bullet and read it and then wanted to go yell at everyone for not working harder to talk me into reading it because IT’S PERFECTION. I don’t even know how to talk about it because I loved everything. There is not one thing I don’t love about the book except for the fact that it ended. And that it’s not a movie. And that I’ve already read it because I wish I could read it for the first time again. Should I stop my review right here? Probably. But I won’t. As always, my main points are bolded.

1. The banter. I love the flirty back and forth between Lucy and Joshua so much that I want to go get a job in an office with a desk next to a swoony guy so I can recreate it myself. It’s so inappropriate for an office setting, but that made it so much better.

2. Hate to love is my favorite. The hate these two share for one another is practically a character in this book. So. Much. Hate. But, like they say, there’s a fine line between love and hate. And oh my GOSH do these two dance around that line. They cross it, run far away from it, and press their noses up against it.

3. The chemistry. You guys, THE CHEMISTRY. Everything was bubbling and fizzing and threatening to boil over at a moment’s notice and I was on. board.

4. I can’t even with Josh. He’s mysterious and quirky and swoony and perfect. He’s intense and broody and I’m melting all over again just trying to describe him. You can’t even describe him. It’s like Sally Thorne pulled him from the dream space in my head where guys that don’t actually exist live.

5. One word: Elevator. If you’ve read this, you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t read this, do it. You want to know what I’m talking about.

6. Lucy gets sick and Josh is THERE. Seriously, this was my favorite part of the book. So much talking and learning and bonding and I swooned so many times that I thought maybe I had caught Lucy’s bug.

7. I need a few drops of Lucy added to my personality. She takes no crap. And she has so much self-confidence.

8. Were there other characters in this book? I think so… but I seriously don’t even care about them.

9. Sally is a genius.

10. I’ve never finished a book before and then immediately wanted to flip to page 1 and start over again. AHHHHHH. I refrained, but I’ll probably read this at least once a year for the rest of forever.

So… Have I convinced you to read this yet? If not, you’re kind of a lost cause, I think. I LOVE this book, and I hope Sally writes a million more like it.


A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas | Book Review

September 27, 2017 Book Review, Young Adult 0 ★★★★★

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas | Book ReviewA Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas
Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses #2
Also in this series: A Court of Thorns and Roses
Published by Bloomsbury Children's on May 3, 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Fantasy & Magic, Romance
Pages: 626
Format: Hardcover
Source: Bought from Amazon
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5 Stars
Feyre survived Amarantha's clutches to return to the Spring Court—but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can't forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin's people.

Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms—and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future—and the future of a world cleaved in two.

So… I have been struggling and struggling with how to review A Court of Mist and Fury since I read it almost a year ago. I almost considered not reviewing it at all because it seemed so overwhelming to me. It’s a huge book, filled with so many things that I loved so much that writing down all my feelings and thoughts seems impossible. BUT… I want to be able to look back and remember how I felt, so this “review” is really just for me. It’s an unorganized list of feelings and impressions and fangirliness. As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. Everything that happened in ACOTAR that I thought I loved so much was replaced and/or outdone by everything that happened in this book. For example, I was totally on team Tamlin… until I wasn’t. The book starts out with a very emotionally destroyed, almost traumatized Feyre, and Tamlin sucked so bad. I literally hated him within the first few pages. How the crap did this even happen? I LOVED him! But Rhysand… *swoon* He made me fall in love with him even more, even though I hated his villainous ways in ACOTAR. He’s still his normal mischievous, cunning, slippery self, but he’s also passionate and tender and so caring and protective of those he holds dear. I was sold. My loyalties were flipped on a dime. I had no idea I was capable of loving Rhys, but now I can’t imagine feeling any differently. That’s what this book did to me!!

2. The reason Feyre and Rhys fall in love is super sweet and magical, at least in my opinion. I thought Tamlin and Feyre were meant to be, but these two are on a completely different level.

3. The romance… I just can’t. It was everything I hoped for and more. I love so many romantic passages and quotes, but here are some of my favorites:

“I am broken and healing, but every piece of my heart belong to you.”

“I heard every word between you. I knew you could take care of yourself, and yet … ” He went back to his pie, swallowing a bite before continuing. “And yet I found myself deciding that if you took his hand, I would find a way to live with it. It would be your choice.”
I sipped from my wine. “And if he had grabbed me?”
There was nothing but uncompromising will in his eyes. “Then I would have torn apart the world to get you back.”

“I was his and he was mine, and we were the beginning and middle and end. We were a song that had been sung from the very first ember of light in the world.”

4. There is so much emotion in A Court of Mist and Fury. There’s so many feelings, and I felt them right along with the characters. Feyre has been through a lot, if you’ll remember the end of ACOTAR and the whole Amarantha debacle. She’s very delicate and is having to recover from the trauma and abuse she went through. I related to her a lot, and found it refreshing that she didn’t just jump right back into her hardened, brave, strong self. I liked seeing the impact those prior events had on her. Even strong people have to process the bad in life. The author could have had them all recover during the break between books and then come back and show us strong characters. Tamlin is struggling, Rhys is struggling, others are struggling. Life is hard for these characters and I liked being able to witness it instead of hear about it after the fact.

5. I LOVED The Night Court and the secret, beautiful city of Velaris. The setting was just so pretty and magical. I also loved the people there, and all the new characters I got to meet.

6. The writing was wonderful. I love all the details and the feelings that Maas put into words.

7. This is the first time I have felt that the second book was better than the first. I never thought I’d see the day!

Basically… read it. Read. It. A Court of Mist and Fury was my hands down my favorite book of 2016, and I’m actually considering a re-read which I rarely ever do. Do yourself a favor and et invested in this series.


Till Death by Jennifer L. Armentrout | Book Review

August 10, 2017 Adult Fiction, Book Review 2 ★★★★★

Till Death by Jennifer L. Armentrout | Book ReviewTill Death by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Published by William Morrow on February 28, 2017
Genres: Mystery, Romance, Romantic Suspense, Suspense, Thriller
Pages: 400
Format: eBook
Source: Bought from Amazon
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5 Stars
In New York Times bestselling author Jennifer L. Armentrout’s gripping new novel, a young woman comes home to reclaim her life—even as a murderer plots to end it. . .

It’s been ten years since Sasha Keaton left her West Virginia hometown . . . since she escaped the twisted serial killer known as the Groom. Returning to help run her family inn means being whole again, except for one missing piece. The piece that falls into place when Sasha’s threatened—and FBI agent Cole Landis vows to protect her the way he couldn’t a decade ago.

First one woman disappears; then another, and all the while, disturbing calling cards are left for the sole survivor of the Groom’s reign of terror. Cole’s never forgiven himself for not being there when Sasha was taken, but he intends to make up for it now . . . because under the quirky sexiness Cole first fell for is a steely strength that only makes him love Sasha more.

But someone is watching. Waiting. And Sasha’s first mistake could be her last.

I really, really love romantic suspense and was looking for a great one to read on my cruise a few months ago. Problem is, I’m pretty picky. I don’t like romantic suspense that’s super gory, erotic, or paranormal. I don’t feel like I’m asking for too much here, but apparently romantic suspense isn’t romantic enough if the love interest isn’t a werewolf trying not to eat the beautiful lady. Anyway… I LOVED Till Death. It’s my new favorite romantic suspense, and I’ve been scouring the Internet to try and find other titles like it. As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. It’s super scary and creepy and ominous without being over the top and unrealistic. I’ve been reading a lot of mysteries this summer, and they’ve been pretty disappointing as a whole just because they totally would not happen in real life. This would!

2. The characters are so well developed, and I loved them all. Sasha is so strong and well adjusted after suffering at the hands of the Groom. She was the only one of his victims to escape, so obviously she’s resourceful, thinks well under pressure, and is driven to do what needs to be done. I really loved reading about her past and how she recovered and moved on from it. I also liked her best friend Miranda and her mom a lot. And Cole… the sexy FBI agent… I love this man.

3. The story has so many layers and characters that are intertwined. And it’s such a complex plot! I could not read fast enough.

4. I loved the setting. The inn is super cute on the surface, but it just feels unsafe and creepy underneath. The perfect setting for a mystery.

5. I had no idea who the Groom was until we were told. I was completely taken aback by who the culprit was. And that’s all I will say because I don’t want to spoil it.

All in all, this is the book that I will use to judge all other romantic suspense. And honestly, I haven’t found anything that has even come close yet. All those 1-star reviews I’ve been posting recently? Yeah, those were my attempts. I hope Jennifer Armentrout writes more books like this one! She’s got a knack for the genre!


The Witness by Nora Roberts | Book Review

August 7, 2017 Adult Fiction, Book Review 3

The Witness by Nora Roberts | Book ReviewThe Witness by Nora Roberts
Published by Penguin on April 17, 2012
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary Romance, Romance, Romantic Suspense
Pages: 492
Format: eBook
Source: Bought from Amazon
Amazon Add to Goodreads
1 Stars
Daughter of a controlling mother, Elizabeth finally let loose one night, drinking at a nightclub and allowing a strange man’s seductive Russian accent lure her to a house on Lake Shore Drive. The events that followed changed her life forever.

Twelve years later, the woman known as Abigail Lowery lives on the outskirts of a small town in the Ozarks. A freelance programmer, she designs sophisticated security  systems—and supplements her own security with a fierce dog and an assortment of firearms. She keeps to herself, saying little, revealing nothing. But Abigail’s reserve only intrigues police chief Brooks Gleason. Her logical mind, her secretive nature, and her unromantic viewpoints leave him fascinated but frustrated. He suspects that Abigail needs protection from something—and that her elaborate defenses hide a story that must be revealed.

With a quirky, unforgettable heroine and a pulse-pounding plotline, Nora Roberts presents a riveting new read that cements her place as today’s most reliably entertaining thriller
author—and will leave people hungering for more.

All I can really say about this book is, “Well… crap.” I love romantic suspense, and I’ve been really hunting for good titles all summer. I found a list of the best romantic suspense books, and this one was rated pretty highly and voted on by like 78 people. It’s got a 4.18 star rating average on Goodreads, with over 49,000 ratings, so I thought I was golden! But guys. This is not romantic suspense! It was hardly romantic, and it was not at all suspenseful. It was a huge disappointment. As always, my main points are bolded.

1. Things start out very interesting, and I was definitely intrigued. The book begins with Elizabeth rebelling against her mother and making huge changes to her life. She cuts her hair, gets a new wardrobe, decides to change her educational and career path, and uses her own homemade fake ID to get into a very exclusive nightclub owned by some very dangerous men. These men set their sights on Liz and her friend, lure them back to an isolated home on the water, and all Hell breaks loose. Liz barely survives, gets put into witness protection, and all Hell breaks loose again. This girl has some pretty terrible luck.

2. Then… we shoot to 12 years later. And I realize rather quickly that I do not like Liz, now Abigail, at ALL. She’s very smart and independent, which is great. But she has no personality. She has isolated herself ever since the events of her youth, and she does not know how to socialize. She has no sense of humor, no emotions, no feelings. She’s very analytical and scientific about things that are neither. And of course I can understand this, given everything she has been through, but she just was not an interesting character to read about at all. I could not connect with her in any sort of way.

3. Brooks is a horrible main character/love interest. Of all the people to un-isolate yourself for and try to connect with, Abigail chose HIM!? Is she just trying to make her life suck more? He pursued and bugged her so much, pushing himself into her life when she so clearly had no interest in having him there. It bothered me so much that he refused to take no for an answer. And then when she wouldn’t let him in, he went and started researching her to try and figure out what she was hiding. Because there just HAD to be a reason for her to not want him around other than he fact that he sucks, right? Because what woman wouldn’t want him?

Brooks is also incredibly condescending and chauvinistic. For example, there is one moment when he pulls Abigail to her feet and demands respect. Then, he tells her she’s insulting him for being concerned that he might not love her if he knew the truth about her past. This woman does not know how to love, she has never been loved or loved anyone in her life and he was SO rude in the face of her legitimate concerns. When she said she was sorry, he said, “Good. You should be.” Then he “yanked” her in for a kiss. In what universe is this romantic? He also has a super dirty mouth and treats Abigail with such clear disrespect. She is his possession. I mean, for goodness SAKES. How many times did I read him refer to Abigail out loud as “my lady”, “my woman”, “my girl”. Grrr!

4. Insta-love. On steroids. You’ve got this awful, pushy man pursuing an extreme recluse who has like a million guns within her reach at all times and a dog that sounds about as big and fierce as a direwolf, yet… she has almost no issue with inviting him in to her place for food and wine and sex. Like… what is happening?? All Abigail’s credibility of being smart and protective of herself went right out the window when she became putty in his hands after a couple days of being talked into not pushing him away. I really felt like Brooks saw Abigail as a challenge to be conquered. A Game to be won. And instead of trying to win the game herself, she just threw in the towel because he’s a big strong man who says nice things to her. UGH.

5. It was SO BORING. By 50%, nothing had happened. There were just so many needless details, many of which were repeated over and over again. Something happens to Brooks at work, we read all about it, and then we read all about it again when he goes home and tells Abigail. We read every. Grueling. Detail again. This book is way too long. For this reason. Just tell the story and get it over with.

6. The writing was annoyingly choppy. It was filled with sentences much like: “Abigail went to the computer, checked her email.” Or “Brooks got in his car, turned it on.” Like, where are the nice, flowing sentences? I almost quit after the first few pages when I saw how often this was happening, but then it got better. And then it got worse. So the author isn’t even being consistent here!

7. The entire story was just so thin. Abigail had been keeping tabs on the bad guys during the last 12 years and anonymously feeding info about them to the FBI to try and take down their crime ring. Finally, she decides she needs to not be anonymous anymore and then everything seamlessly works out. There’s no crazy climax, no suspenseful moment at the end. Just court appearances. Can you hear my eyes rolling? I’m so annoyed I hung in there in the hopes of getting a great moment and it was just easy. I mean, I dealt with pages and pages of hearing the same mindless info about what it’s like to be a police captain. I got to read about everything that happened to Brooks when it happened and then again when he told Abigail about it. But I couldn’t get a satisfying ending as a reward for hanging in there?

So, I guess I’ve got a pretty unpopular opinion here, but I just don’t see any redeeming qualities about this book. The plot was thin, the story was implausible, the characters were awful, and the writing was crappy. Why didn’t I DNF? I’m wondering the same thing. And honestly, I have no idea. It probably had something to do with the fact that it’s NORA ROBERTS and I was giving her too much credit.


Stars Above by Marissa Meyer | Book Review

July 11, 2017 Book Review, Young Adult 1 ★★★★★

Stars Above by Marissa Meyer | Book ReviewStars Above by Marissa Meyer
Series: The Lunar Chronicles #4.5
Also in this series: Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, Fairest, Winter
Published by Feiwel and Friends on February 2, 2016
Genres: Dystopia, Retelling, Romance, Science Fiction
Pages: 369
Format: Hardcover
Source: Bought from Amazon
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5 Stars
The enchantment continues....

The universe of the Lunar Chronicles holds stories—and secrets—that are wondrous, vicious, and romantic. How did Cinder first arrive in New Beijing? How did the brooding soldier Wolf transform from young man to killer? When did Princess Winter and the palace guard Jacin realize their destinies?

With nine stories—five of which have never before been published—and an exclusive never-before-seen excerpt from Marissa Meyer’s upcoming novel, Heartless, about the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland, Stars Above is essential for fans of the bestselling and beloved Lunar Chronicles.
--
The Little Android: A retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid,” set in the world of The Lunar Chronicles.
Glitches: In this prequel to Cinder, we see the results of the plague play out, and the emotional toll it takes on Cinder. Something that may, or may not, be a glitch….
The Queen’s Army: In this prequel to Scarlet, we’re introduced to the army Queen Levana is building, and one soldier in particular who will do anything to keep from becoming the monster they want him to be.
Carswell’s Guide to Being Lucky: Thirteen-year-old Carswell Thorne has big plans involving a Rampion spaceship and a no-return trip out of Los Angeles.
The Keeper: A prequel to the Lunar Chronicles, showing a young Scarlet and how Princess Selene came into the care of Michelle Benoit.
After Sunshine Passes By: In this prequel to Cress, we see how a nine-year-old Cress ended up alone on a satellite, spying on Earth for Luna.
The Princess and the Guard: In this prequel to Winter, we see a game called The Princess.
The Mechanic: In this prequel to Cinder, we see Kai and Cinder’s first meeting from Kai’s perspective.
Something Old, Something New: In this epilogue to Winter, friends gather for the wedding of the century...

I’ve never been a huge fan of the novellas that accompany full length novels. I rarely, rarely read them unless I love the world and the characters so much that I absolutely cannot let a story of theirs go unread. This was the case for Stars Above. I love The Lunar Chronicles so much that I wanted to know everything about everyone in them. The more info, the better! I knew about all the novellas as they were released, and I even got some of them on Kindle. I was never full motivated to read them, though, until I found out they were all being released together in a hardback bundle. It was then that I knew things were getting serious. I was also super heartbroken that the series was ending, so having another set of stories to anticipate helped me recover after finishing Winter, which I loved so much. Some of these stories really shine, whereas others were just ok for me.

My favorite story was Something Old, Something New, which is the epilogue to Winter. There’s a wedding of one of my favorite couples from the series, and oh the feels. I loved it. I also liked seeing Cinder and Kai’s first meeting in The Mechanic. And I love Thorne so much, so obviously I loved seeing a teenaged Thorne dream of his future in Carswell’s Guide to Being Lucky. Oh, and I loved The Keeper! I loved learning about Cinder’s and Scarlet’s beginnings and Michelle’s part in all this. Several of the stories were quite sad, including Glitches and The Queen’s Army. They always say that heroes gain heroism by channeling their heartbreaking pasts, and that is clearly evident through these stories.

Really, I just loved the small snapshots into the pasts and side stories of the characters I’ve grown to love so much. This entire book, but mostly the epilogue, was a really special way to say goodbye to my favorite crew in the sky. I finished the series in January of last year, and read this book last summer, but I still can’t stop thinking about and missing these crazies and their shenanigans and intense love for one another. I think I need to re-read the entire series soon. I need to go back to the happy place that is the universe of the Lunar Chronicles.

How do you feel about companion novellas in series like this one?
If you’ve read these ones, which was your favorite?


Beautiful Storm by Barbara Freethy | DNF Book Thoughts

May 23, 2017 Adult Fiction, Book Review 2 DNF

Beautiful Storm by Barbara Freethy | DNF Book ThoughtsBeautiful Storm by Barbara Freethy
Series: Lightning Strikes #1
Published by Hyde Street Press on October 1, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary Romance, Mystery, Romance, Romantic Suspense, Suspense
Pages: 321
Format: eBook
Source: Bought from Amazon
Amazon Add to Goodreads
DNF Stars
When her father's plane mysteriously disappeared in the middle of an electrical storm, Alicia Monroe became obsessed with lightning. Now a news photographer in Miami, Alicia covers local stories by day and chases storms at night. In a flash of lightning, she sees what appears to be a murder, but when she gets to the scene, there is no body, only a military tag belonging to Liliana Valdez, a woman who has been missing for over a year. While the police use the tag to jumpstart their stalled investigation, Alicia sets off on her own to find the missing woman. Her search takes her into the heart of Miami's Cuban-American community where she meets the attractive but brooding Michael Cordero, who has his own demons to vanquish. Soon Alicia and Michael are not just trying to save Liliana's life but also their own, as someone will do anything to protect a dark secret…

So… There are TONS of Barbara Freethy books out there and I’ve always been intrigued. Many of the story lines sound good, and I’ve collected her titles as I’ve seen them show up for free on Amazon. I had a hankering for a little romantic suspense and was eager to finally see if Freethy is an author for me. And… nope. She’s not.

The mysticism of the lightning was just a bit too over the top for me. The lightning calls Alicia to it because it wants to show her something? No… And I did not like the relationship between the two main characters. Plus, how dumb is Alicia? Michael is a person of interest in this case. He’s a suspect with a troubled past and a reputation. She has known him for a few hours and all of a sudden wants to shove herself into his life and his family to try and find his missing friend. She FLIES with him to Texas and stays in an ADJOINING ROOM after knowing him for like 12 hours. WHAT. She also has no problems at all voicing her opinions to his family and his friend’s family about things she has no right knowing about, much less has the ability to know about. She’s been a part of this case for a few HOURS and does not know anyone involved. They have been grieving and searching for MONTHS and have known the missing person and the people involved for lifetimes. So all because Alicia found a military ID in a park, she knows everything about the case? There was also some major instalove/lust going on that I was not on board with.

The dialogue was cringeworthy. Almost everything anyone said to anyone included their name. It kind of went like this:

“Alicia, aren’t you happy we know each other?”
“Yes, Michael, I am.”
“Mother, are you happy that Michael and I know each other?”
“Yes, Alicia, I am.”
“Oh, Alicia, I am so glad that your mother is happy we know each other.”
“I am too, Michael.”

Like… I went through and started counting the number of names used in the dialogue on each page and it was just awful! That’s not how people talk to one another, and I felt like the author legitimately thought that we were too dumb to follow the dialogue on our own so she used all the names to try and make sure we knew who was talking to whom.

The mystery itself was very boring and slow and I started skimming because I was mildly curious about what happened. But by about 60% my curiosity has been killed and I threw in the towel.

So basically, this was a complete and total flop. It was horrible. Maybe now I know why Freethy books are in abundance and I can almost always find one for free or very cheap… At least now I know.


Beauty & the Beast by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont | Book Review

March 12, 2017 Book Review, Classy Considerations 2

Beauty & the Beast by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont | Book ReviewBeauty and the Beast by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont
Genres: Classic, Fairy Tale
Pages: 34
Format: eBook
Source: Bought from Amazon
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Beauty and the Beast is a traditional fairy tale. Its first published version was written by French author Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve in the middle 18th century. It was a novel-length story intended for adult readers and addressing the issues of the marriage system of the day in which women had no right to choose their husband or to refuse to marry.

The best-known version of the tale appeared sixteen years later. Jeanne-Marie Le Prince de Beaumont simplified and shortened the Villeneuve’s work and published it in a magazine for young ladies. The new abridged version became more successful, and Madame de Beaumont is regarded now as the author of the classic story.

What better way to kick off A Week of Beauty and the Beast in honor of the upcoming release of Disney’s live action version of the story than to start at the very beginning with the 18th Century original tale? I’ve lived my life loving the animated Disney movie, so I was excited to read the story that inspired it all. My copy of this story is illustrated by Walter Crane, and it looks like an illuminated manuscript. Each page of text is framed by roses and leaves, and the periodic full-page illustrations are very detailed.

 

This version, while different from the Disney movie we all love, is still quite magical. Beauty’s father has lost everything he has to pirates. One day he learns that one of his ships has been recovered and journeys to town to claim what’s rightfully his. Before he leaves he asks each of his daughters what they would like him to bring back for them. All Beauty wants is a rose. So, father sets out on his journey only to find that his partners have divvied up all his possessions because they thought he was dead. He heads back home, depressed, defeated, and even more broke than he was before he left. He presses on through the cold, winter night and falls ill. He ends up in the beast’s castle, where he is nursed back to health. As he leaves the castle for home, he picks a single rose for Beauty. This makes the beast very mad and he tells the old man that unless one of his daughters volunteers to live in the castle forever, the beast will kill him. When father returns home, of course Beauty volunteers because it was her silly request of a rose that got her father into trouble in the first place. Beauty lives with the beast and dreams of a handsome prince each night, who tells her to look past outside appearances and save him from his plight. Each day the beast proclaims his love for her and proposes marriage. For some reason, Beauty cannot make the connection and is convinced that a handsome prince is imprisoned somewhere in the castle. Oh, he is… He just might not be where she expects to find him.

Looking past outward appearances is a very common theme throughout this book, and I find it to be a timely message given today’s expectations of what a person must look like in order to be worthwhile or successful or loved. However, it does bother me that there’s a double standard. Beauty is noted as being beautiful–the most beautiful person in her family. The beast falls in love with her, but we are led to believe it’s because she’s beautiful. We’re basically being told here that women should look past outward appearances and love unattractive men, but men can still require the highest of standards. Of course, this story was written in the 1750s. We’ve come a long way since then, but there is still this “women must look like this” stipulation today that I hope dies out with other things from the 1750’s. Like Smallpox. And dying of pneumonia.

The writing is very antiquated and simplistic, but I loved reading the original story and comparing it to all the versions I’ve read and seen since then! I highly suggest you snag the free ebook and give this a read if you’re a fan of today’s Beauty and the Beast.


The Christmas Cabin by J.L. Jarvis | Book Review

December 21, 2016 Adult Fiction, Book Review 1 ★★★★

The Christmas Cabin by J.L. Jarvis | Book ReviewThe Christmas Cabin by J.L. Jarvis
Published by Bookbinder Press on November 1, 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary Romance, Holiday, Romance
Pages: 206
Format: eBook
Source: Bought from Amazon
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4 Stars
Lawyer Abbie Harper rents a cabin for her own perfect Christmas. On Christmas Eve, she leaves the stress of her New York job and drives to the mountains, settling in for seven glorious days of peace on earth and good will toward men—so long as they steer clear of her.

Forest Ranger Jack Whelan is no good at relationships. He manages just fine by holding fast to one rule: Don’t let anyone get close. Then Abbie Harper rents his cabin. As a light snow falls, the furnace breaks down, and Jack is called in for repairs. When the storm picks up, they’re stranded together, turning their ordered lives upside down like a snow globe.

Two snowbound strangers who think they know what they want will find out what they need—at The Christmas Cabin.

I don’t know why, but I LOVE stories that include two people being snowbound together in some remote location. I love it even more if it takes place during Christmas. Abbie’s job is taking over her life, so she decides to rent a cabin in the mountains to get away from it all. She brings enough food, Christmas movies, and an ereader full of good books (my kind of girl) with the plan of relaxing and enjoying the snow and scenic views. When she arrives she finds that the heat is not working and has to contact the owner of the cabin (multiple times) to come fix it. What starts out as a strictly business-type relationship quickly gets friendly as the snow falls and Jack is unable to leave the cabin. He takes the couch, she the bed, and the magic begins.

I liked both characters a lot, but Jack was definitely my favorite. He’s sweet, gentlemanly, giving (he saves people for a living), and romantic. Abbie is quirky enough to grab a tree branch from outside, stick it in a jar of water, and use it as her Christmas tree. She’s got this terribly irrational fear of dogs (the coyote howls in the distance render her practically immovable), but Jack is understanding and accommodating. He brings her earplugs, the cutie, and then freaks out when he knocks on the door and she doesn’t answer. Surely she must be dead. They form this really sweet, caring relationship that I just loved. And YAY all sexytimes happen behind doors, which I really appreciate in a Christmas romance.

I loved the writing. The author wrote some amazingly festive and beautiful Christmas scenes, and really got me into the Christmas spirit. I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a quick, happy holiday romance!


Under the Mistletoe by Jill Shalvis | Book Review

December 13, 2016 Adult Fiction, Book Review 0 ★★★★½

Under the Mistletoe by Jill Shalvis | Book ReviewUnder the Mistletoe by Jill Shalvis
Series: Lucky Harbor #6.5
Published by Forever Yours on December 4, 2012
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary Romance, Holiday, Romance
Pages: 80
Format: eARC
Source: Bought from Amazon
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4.5 Stars
JUST ONE MORE KISS

There's no place like home for the holidays. And the Lucky Harbor Bed & Breakfast is bursting with festive lights and good cheer. But for Mia, Christmas is turning out to be anything other than merry and bright. Her recent break-up with her boyfriend Nick has made her return bittersweet. But then a surprise arrives, when Nick follows her to town bearing gifts-and asking for forgiveness.

Nick grew up without a family of his own so he's overwhelmed by the love that Mia receives from all her relatives, gathered together to celebrate the season. Under their watchful eyes, Nick finds earning back her trust the hardest thing he's ever had to do. If he succeeds, he will receive the greatest gift of all, Mia's love for a lifetime.

Can you believe this is my first Jill Shalvis book? I own SO many of her titles, but this is the first one I’ve read and I really loved it! It’s short and romantic… just what I need during this time of year when I want quick doses of Christmas cheer.

While this book can stand on its own, it takes place after the 6th book in the Lucky Harbor series. As much as I enjoyed it I’m pretty sure I would have loved it even more if I had read the first 6 books in the series already. I wasn’t confused or anything, and everything made sense… but it’s kind of like coming in to the school year mid-way through after all the friendships and routines have been set. I felt like I should have known these people better. The good thing, though, is that I love Lucky Harbor and I’m even more eager to begin the series! This was a great way for me to see if I like Jill’s writing, characters, setting, and swoons… and I do!

I really liked Mia and Nick together… even though I didn’t like Nick in the beginning. When he turns up in Lucky Harbor to win her back, though, I couldn’t help but smile and watch him try. There were some funny moments, deep moments, and downright romantic moments all wrapped up with a festive bow on top. I won’t say anything more because this book is a tiny little thing and I don’t want to ruin it. If you’re looking for a sweet christmas story, a continuance of the Lucky Harbor series, or even an easy book to commit to in order to decide if Jill Shalvis is an author for you (like I did), this is a really great book to pick up! And even though it’s a really short story, it felt complete and fully developed to me. A very enjoyable read!


Once Upon a Winter’s Eve by Tessa Dare | Book Review

December 11, 2016 Adult Fiction, Book Review 1 ★★★★

Once Upon a Winter’s Eve by Tessa Dare | Book ReviewOnce Upon a Winter's Eve by Tessa Dare
Series: Spindle Cover #1.5
Genres: Historical Romance, Holiday, Romance
Pages: 113
Format: eBook
Source: Bought from Amazon
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4 Stars
Some wallflowers bloom at night…

Violet is a quiet girl. She speaks six languages, but seldom raises her voice. The gentlemen aren’t beating down her door.

Until the night of the Spindle Cove Christmas ball, when a mysterious stranger crashes into the ballroom and collapses at Violet’s feet. He’s wet, chilled, bleeding, and speaking in an unfamiliar tongue.

Only Violet understands him. And she knows he’s not what he seems.

She has one night to draw forth the secrets of this dangerously handsome rogue. Is he a smuggler? A fugitive? An enemy spy? She needs answers by sunrise, but her captive would rather seduce than confess. To learn his secrets, Violet must reveal hers—and open herself to adventure, passion, and the unthinkable… Love.

A Christmas ball crasher! Guys, I love Tessa Dare’s stories. They are always so unique and swoony, and this one doesn’t disappoint at all. I’ve always been the quiet, bookish wallflower type, which is why I loved Violet Winterbottom in A Night to Surrender (review coming in January). Now I love her even more! She’s smart and sassy and sweet. She’s also assertive and strong. She’s been through a LOT. I loved the mysterious injured man, and who he became to Violet. Boy, was his entrance memorable the way he stumbled into the ball injured and delirious and fell on her lap. The mystery and conspiracy surrounding him were super intriguing, and I really enjoyed getting to know him. He doesn’t speak English, so Violet’s language expertise brings them together as she tries to figure out who he is. I don’t want to spoil anything, so I’ll just say… he’s not who he first appears to be.

I think I liked this story more than the one in A Night to Surrender! I wish it were longer because I really connected with these characters and the story. I hope to see more of them in the next Spindle Cove novel so I can see what they’re up to. Definitely read this book if you plan to stick with Spindle Cove or if you’re looking for a quick romance (it can stand on its own but there’s a cameo of the characters we met in the first book so that’s fun!). Sometimes novellas feel rushed or incomplete, but this one didn’t! I loved it!