Tag: 1.5 Reviews

Review: The Kissing Game by Marie Harte

Posted February 19, 2020 by Rowena in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: The Kissing Game by Marie HarteReviewer: Rowena
The Kissing Game by Marie Harte
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: February 4, 2020
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Point-of-View: Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 320
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2020 Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
one-half-stars

"I bet you a kiss you can't resist me."

Game on.

Rena Jackson is ready. She's worked her tail off to open up her own hair salon, and she's almost ready to quit her job at the dive bar. Rena's also a diehard romantic, and she's had her eye on bar regular Axel Heller for a while. He's got that tall-dark-and-handsome thing going big time. Problem is, he's got that buttoned-up Germanic ice man thing going as well. With Valentine's Day just around the corner, Rena's about ready to give up on Axel and find her own Mr. Right.

At six foot six, Axel knows he intimidates most people. He's been crushing on the gorgeous waitress for months. But the muscled mechanic is no romantic, and his heart is buried so deep, he has no idea how to show Rena what he feels. He knows he's way out of his depth and she's slipping away. So, he makes one crazy, desperate play...

I’ve never read anything by Marie Harte before and I’ll admit that what initially piqued my interest with this book was that cartoon cover. I’m a fan of these cutesy, cartoon covers because they make me picture the cutesy story that I expect to get when I pick one up. I’m starting to think that these cartoony covers are the exact opposite of what I should expect to get. This one sounded like a super cute story that would be a light and fluffy read but right from the very beginning, what I thought I was getting, wasn’t what I felt was coming. I kept reading, thinking that maybe it’ll get better and unfortunately, it never did. Sure, there were some moments throughout the book that had me laughing and some characters that I was genuinely interested in but for the most part, I was like…nah.

Axel Heller has had a giant crush on Rena Jackson but he’s never made his move. She’s been patient with him but the longer he waits to get at her, the more sure Rena is that he’s never going to make his move so she needs to move on. She’s leaving her bartending job to open her own hair salon and when Axel gets into a bar fight at her going away party, she’s not surprised but she’s also determined to move on. When Axel receives some much-needed advice, he decides that it’s now or never. Now, a huge part of the reason that I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I thought I would is that I couldn’t connect with either the hero or the heroine. I thought that as the story progressed, I would understand their thought processes and I would start to connect with them but I don’t know if it was Harte’s writing style or if was the fact that the characters of color didn’t come off as authentic to me but whatever it was, I put this book down and just did feel much of anything and that bummed me out.

I love romance novels of all kinds. I love the light and fluffy ones, the dark and twisted ones, even the suspenseful ones but what I like about those stories is that I know what I’m getting when I go into them. The HEA is a given but you can tell by the covers just what you’re going to get and I thought the cover for this one didn’t fit with the kind of story that I was expecting. This wasn’t the light and fluffy romance that I was expecting. It was a diverse romance that was written by an author who was not diverse. I found myself frustrated with the characters, with the romance, and with the writing style. I kept reading to see if I’d ever warm up to Axel and to Rena and while I did end up liking Rena, I never warmed up to Axel. There was a lot of nothing going on. I couldn’t really tell what the conflict was because the conflict was pretty weak. I didn’t feel like there was anything to carry the characters or even develop them. So my enjoyment really suffered because of all of those things. On top of those things, I also thought that there were a lot of characters to keep track of. Sure, I enjoyed some of them but for the most part, not having read any of these characters books (I didn’t even know that this book was part of a series), I had no clue who they were and didn’t even know that I was supposed to care about them.

So yeah, I went into this book expecting one thing but didn’t get it and I didn’t really connect with the main characters or anything that they were going through so all in all, this book just wasn’t for me.

Final Grade

Grade: 1.5 out of 5

one-half-stars


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Review: First Contact by Kat Green

Posted October 11, 2019 by Holly in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: First Contact by Kat GreenReviewer: Holly
First Contact by Kat Green, Kat de Falla
Narrator: Kate Tyler
Series: Haunts For Sale #1
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Publication Date: August 11, 2014
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible Escape
Point-of-View: First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Length: 5 hours and 25 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Holly's 2019 GoodReads Challenge, Holly's 2019 New to Me Challenge, New to Me Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
one-half-stars
Series Rating: two-stars

Sloane Osborne is a paranormal realtor in the business of selling haunted houses but, in truth, she’s only searching for one ghost. And her time is running out. It’s the 366th day after her fiancé’s death. Michael used to like putting things off for “a year and a day”—so tonight’s the night. Sloane will do anything to make contact with him before the clock strikes midnight. When she gets a call to check out a home in Waukesha, Wisconsin, it’s the last place she thinks Michael would contact her. Sloane is dead wrong.

I really liked the premise of this story. A paranormal real estate agent who checks to make sure haunted houses are safe to live in before she sells them? One who is looking for a chance to contact her dead fiance just one more time? I’m here for that. Unfortunately, it wasn’t well executed. I found this on the Audible Escape package. The narrator was okay. I liked some of the voices she used for the characters, but I don’t think she put a lot of emotion into the story. Things that should have been sad, or scary, came across as kind of flat. She was also very slow. I generally listen at 1.85x speed, but I ended up bumping this one to 2.10x speed.

Sloane Osborne was on her way to pick up her marriage license with fiance Michael when they got into a car accident and Michael was killed. He always joked that everything would happen in “A Year and a Day”. For the past year, she’s been working as a Paranormal Real Estate agent. She sells haunted houses, but first she makes sure they’re safe to live in (that the ghosts aren’t evil or angry). She’s also been searching for Michael’s ghost. It’s been exactly a year and a day since the accident, so Sloane is convinced she’ll be able to finally make contact with him tonight. She got a tip about a house in Wisconsin that’s up for sale, so that’s where she heads. It turns out the house is very haunted, and she’s able to make first contact with spirits..and Michael is one of them.

More often than not Sloane was TSTL (too stupid to live). Her dead fiance’s best friend, Jonah, is a cold case investigator with the FBI, and also a strong medium. She used to hunt ghosts with him until her fiance died and she retreated into herself. She called him once she made first contact with the spirits in a house in Wisconsin, because she suspected girls had been murdered there. He asked her to wait for him before venturing back into the house, or speaking to anyone about her suspicions. She thinks to herself, “I should wait..but I’m not going to.” She also thinks to herself several times that she’s in over her head, yet she still continues on her merry way. It was no surprise to me when she ended up trapped in a hole in the floor for her stupidity.

The villains were easily picked out from the first, and honestly they were both such dumb-asses I’m surprised they got away with anything as long as they did. The only reason I kept reading was because I was interested in the ghosts themselves. I was hoping we’d see more of their backgrounds and they’d be a bigger focus of the story. Sadly, that wasn’t the case. It mostly focused on Sloane and she bumbled her way into danger.

There were also a lot of inconsistencies in the story. Michael, the dead fiance, was a paragon of male worthiness and nothing could ever live up to his memory..except he sounded like a controlling asshole a lot of the time and she even thinks to herself at one point that things may not have worked with them long-term after all. Except, wait, he was the LOVE OF HER LIFE. She was a paranormal real estate agent and, according to her, the market was hot and a lot of people wanted to buy haunted houses. Yet she hadn’t made a single sale yet and was on the brink of starving and being homeless. Things like that really pulled me out of the story and kind of drove me crazy.

I did really like Jonah, however. He kind of made the story for me, though he spent more time off page than on. Although the premise is interesting, I don’t believe I’ll continue on with the series. Watching Sloane stumble around and make dumb decisions mostly just gave me a headache.

Rating: 1.5 out of 5

Haunts for Sale

one-half-stars


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Review: Heidi’s Guide to Four Letter Words by Tara Sivec

Posted September 17, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 3 Comments

Review: Heidi’s Guide to Four Letter Words by Tara SivecReviewer: Rowena
Heidi's Guide to Four Letter Words by Tara Sivec
Narrator: Andi Arndt
Publisher: Audible Original
Publication Date: September 3, 2019
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible Escape
Point-of-View: First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Add It: Goodreads
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one-half-stars

Listening Length: 6 hours and 15 minutes

Cowritten by USA Today best-selling author Tara Sivec and award-winning narrator Andi Arndt, a hysterically funny, heartfelt romance about starting over and taking chances.

Nothing good ever comes from drinking a box of wine alone. So when I decided to entertain my drunken self by setting up some hand-me-down podcasting equipment and reading the steamy parts from romance novels, I never thought anyone would actually listen. The fact that I admitted my huge crush on my sexy next door neighbor made the whole thing even more mortifying. But sometimes life surprises you, and that’s how my podcast, Heidi’s Discount Erotica, was born.

Now I, Heidi Larsen, a sweet former kindergarten teacher in Waconia, Minnesota, lead a scandalous double life reading erotic novels to the listening world. And with each episode, I find myself embracing my new alter ego more and more. Now I’m starting to feel more comfortable in my own skin and do things I never would have dreamed of - like kissing my neighbor.

Look out, Waconia, because Heidi’s on the loose! She’s in your ears, in your hearts, and down your pants...wait, that didn’t sound as good as it did in my head. Well, you get the picture, don’tcha know!

I haven’t read anything by Tara Sivec, and I’ve heard a lot of good things about her so when this book came up for review, I jumped on it. This looked like a cute story and I was looking forward to diving right in. Unfortunately, I didn’t connect with the heroine at all and she frustrated me from beginning to end and my enjoyment of the story itself suffered because of it.

So this book follows Heidi Larsen as she fumbles her way through a giant crush on her neighbor, a new job at an audiobook studio, and her life in general. She’s led a pretty sheltered life and as someone, who led a pretty sheltered life my damn self, I could not connect with Heidi at all. Her immaturity, her constant struggle with talking to her crush, and just everything about her, annoyed me. I didn’t find her cute as her crush did and I for damn sure didn’t find her little quirks, funny or endearing. I’m sure that if I were a younger woman, that I would probably relate more to Heidi, but I guess I’m at the “GET OFF MY LAWN” stage in my life because listening to Heidi struggle to say the words “dick” and “pussy” out loud and then struggle to string two sentences along to her next-door neighbor and love interest, made me want to yell at her to spit it out already! Also? What’s wrong with Lularoe dresses? Why didn’t she think those dresses were cool or cute? They’re comfy AF and cute to boot, so there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Wear your loud dresses proud, Heidi. Own your dresses!

I will say that this was a really easy listen. Sure, I didn’t really care for Heidi’s character and thought that it took entirely too long for her to really grow into being comfortable saying naughty words and being able to have a normal conversation with Brent, but it was still really easy to listen to this book. Andi Arndt did a great job of narrating this story and if not for her storytelling, I probably would have quit this book long before it ended. I also really liked Heidi’s friends and her family. I thought it was sweet that her Dad kept showing up and fixing things around the house for her and once she and Brent started having sex, I thought that was pretty steamy. I just wanted to like Heidi since she was the main character and I was disappointed that I just didn’t.

Final Grade

1.5 out of 5

one-half-stars


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Featured Review: Waiting for Tom Hanks by Kerry Winfrey

Posted June 26, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Featured Review: Waiting for Tom Hanks by Kerry WinfreyReviewer: Casee, Holly, and Rowena
Waiting for Tom Hanks by Kerry Winfrey
Publisher: Penguin, Berkley
Publication Date: June 11, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 320
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Casee's 2019 GoodReads Challenge, Holly's 2019 GoodReads Challenge, Holly's 2019 New to Me Challenge, Rowena's 2019 GoodReads Challenge, Rowena's 2019 New to Me Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
two-stars

Can a romcom-obssessed romantic finally experience the meet-cute she always dreamed of or will reality never compare to fiction, in this charming debut adult novel from Kerry Winfrey.

Annie is twenty-seven years old, single, and obsessed with romantic comedies (she and her mother watched them religiously before her mom died). Her dating life is limited by the expectations she’s formed from these movies. She is not as open to new experiences as she might be, because she’s waiting for her Tom Hanks–i.e., a guy she’ll find in the perfect, meet-cute romantic comedy way. When Annie does finally meet her perfect match, it’s not quite in the way she expected, and she’s forced to reckon with the walls she’s built around herself over the years.

Warning: This review contains spoilers. They’re marked behind a spoiler tag, but read on at your own risk.

Annie is an aspiring screenwriter who is obsessed with RomComs. She’s waiting for her Tom Hanks – the embodiment of all her girlhood fantasies. When she’s offered the job as assistant to the director on the set of a movie being filmed in her hometown – a RomCom no less – she wonders if this will finally be her chance to meet the man of her dreams.

Except, it’s Drew Danforth who she sees most often. He’s the lead of the movie and a total jerk. She doesn’t like him..yet she can’t stop thinking about him. Too bad for him she’s waiting for her perfect man..and he’s no Tom Hanks.

Holly: When I read the blurb for this book, I thought it sounded like the perfect, lighthearted summer read. While it was definitely lighthearted, the heroine drove me crazy. She jumped to conclusions and, in general, acted like a jerk for the entire book. I really loved her uncle and her best friend, but she rubbed me the wrong way from the beginning. I have no idea what the hero saw in her or why he kept pursuing her.

Casee: I wasn’t excited to read this book at all. I’m not a huge fan of rom coms in general, so the blurb didn’t interest me. Then I picked it up. I was actually interested for the first chapter or so. Then I realized how horrible the heroine was. She was stuck in the past and waiting for a man that only exists in the movies. She’s an intelligent woman, but so freaking stupid.

Rowena: Yeah, I wanted to read this book because it sounded cute and lighthearted and I’m pretty obsessed with RomComs myself. Too bad I wanted to burn shit down while reading this book. Actually, mostly I just wanted to pull Annie’s hair because holy shit, I thought she was so freaking dumb. I hated the way that she treated Drew throughout the entire book. From beginning to end, she was a bitch to him and like Holly, I had no freaking clue what the hell Drew saw in her.

The thing that drove me up the wall was the thing that drew me to the story in the first place. Annie’s obsession with RomComs. But the lengths that she went with her RomCom obsession was just flat out dumb. When she said, “Chloe! He.Has.A.Houseboat.” I wanted to smack the shit out of her. I stuck with the book because I thought for sure, Annie would grow up and she would learn her lesson and she’d stop being so freaking dumb but nope. In the end, I still didn’t like her and was it just me or did Annie never apologize for the texting fiasco? In a meaningful way?

Holly: Her obsession with RomComs was definitely unhealthy. The way she held up every man to this ridiculous standard set by fictional characters was out of control. If she’d shown some growth, apologized like an adult, realized what she did was wrong..anything..I might have been able to forgive her. But from page 1 to the very last, she was the same.

View Spoiler »

 

Casee: View Spoiler »

Rowena: View Spoiler »

Throughout the book, I couldn’t connect with her as a character because I did not like the way she treated Drew. She treated him like he wasn’t a man but some other world being that wasn’t human. He didn’t have the same kinds of feelings because he was rich and he was a celebrity so he couldn’t possibly be hurt by the shitty way she was around him. That bothered me because it didn’t make me believe in what they were building between them. Even when she got to know him and should have known better, she treated him like he couldn’t have emotions because he had millions of dollars to comfort him. A lot of shit rubbed me the wrong way and it ruined what I hoped would have been a fun read.

Holly: Oh, and this:

It’s McDonald’s. Drew Danforth, star of screens both large and small, takes me to the home of the McNugget. “This is a joke, right?” I ask as I stare up at the golden arches, but he’s out of the car before he even hears me. Of course, when Drew has a chance to go somewhere good—to take me, someone who rarely goes to fancy restaurants, to a nice place—he decides it would be oh-so-funny to visit a fast-food joint.

The sheer entitlement of this statement kills me. The director of the film suggests they go out together because Drew needs to get out. He basically orders her to go. This is their first time spending time together outside of the set, and she’s FORCED into it by her boss. Yet she gets pissed because “He has millions so he should have taken me somewhere better”. HE DIDN’T INVITE YOU ON A DATE! HIS DIRECTOR MADE HIM GO. Jesus.

Rowena: This is me, reading through both of your thoughts.

Casee: Burn shit down indeed.

Holly: Something else that really bothered me was the lack of diversity in this book. The characters have a full-on conversation about the lack of diversity in RomComs and how the director of the movie wanted to change that, but the only POC in the entire book is talked about once or twice? She’s the co-star of the movie, yet she had zero page time and neither did anyone else of color?!? It made no sense.

Rowena: I completely agree with Holly about the lack of diversity in this one. It’s brought up as part of the reason they were filming a diverse RomCom but everyone in this book, that had actual page time, were lily-white as can be. Like, why bother at all?

Casee: Another thing I didn’t care for was that Annie turned over her screenplay before telling Chloe that it was based on her life. That was pretty fucked. Annie was just a crappy person all the way around.

Rowena: Yeah, I thought Annie turning over her screenplay about Nick and Chloe BEFORE telling her best friend about it was pretty creepy and by that point, I wasn’t surprised that Annie would do something like that to a loved one. I didn’t like her in the beginning and even in the end, I didn’t like her so that about sums up this book for me. There were parts of the book that I liked (mostly Chloe and the Uncle) but for the most part, I didn’t like this one.

Casee: My favorite character was Chloe. I just adored her. She tried to get Annie to see reason throughout the whole book, while she herself was so adorably clueless. But she was real, she could see that Annie was living in la-la-land. Too bad Annie couldn’t see it herself. Then, when she did find her dream man, the one that checked off all her romcom boxes, there were no sparks. WTAF.

Holly: I really liked Chloe. She was so down-to-earth. I definitely wanted more from her. I also really liked Annie’s uncle. He was hilarious.

Casee: This book just wasn’t for me. I’m curious about Chloe and Nick’s book, but not enough to read it. I can certainly imagine Chloe’s character being ruined or completely changed from this book. I really don’t want to see that happen.

Rowena: I’m curious about Nick and Chloe’s book too but I don’t know that I’d actually read it. I’d be scared that the Chloe I loved from this book would turn into an Annie and I don’t know that it’s a risk I’m willing to take.

Holly: I’m too scared to read Chloe’s book. I don’t even understand why she was friends with Annie. Every good friendship is filled with give and take. Sometimes you give, sometimes you take. It seemed to me all Annie did was take. Chloe could do better.

Casee: I would give this book a 2 out of 5.

Rowena: I would give this book a 2 out of 5.

Holly: I’m giving this 1.5 out of 5. I liked Drew, Chloe and Annie’s Uncle, but the fact that the book revolved around Annie killed it for me.

Final Grades

Casee: 2 out of 5
Holly: 1.5 out of 5
Rowena: 2 out of 5

two-stars


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Review: xo, Zach by Kendall Ryan

Posted March 27, 2019 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: xo, Zach by Kendall RyanReviewer: Holly
xo, Zach by Kendall Ryan
Narrator: Andi Arndt, Sebastian York
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: January 23, 2018
Format: Audiobook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Genres: Contemporary Romance, New Adult
Pages: 334
Length: 5 hours and 51 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Holly's 2019 GoodReads Challenge, Holly's 2019 New to Me Challenge, New to Me Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
one-half-stars

The first time we met was at a party.

Your ex arrived to show off the person he'd left you for last month, and you asked me to pretend to be your date.

I was more than happy to help. You were attractive, smart and witty--and that kiss we shared? It left me wanting you for days.

The second time we met was in my office on campus where we were both surprised to discover you were the new master’s degree student in poetry that I would be working with. You promised to be professional. I did no such thing.

The late nights and intense study sessions spent alongside you majorly throw me off my game. I want you, and I fight with myself daily over this fact.

I know I'm crass, that my sexual innuendos and dirty mouth annoy you, but I live for those two bright spots of color in your cheeks. If that's the only reaction I can get out of you, I'll gladly take it.

You hate Mondays so every Monday I slip an anonymous poem into your bag and your smile gets me through the week.

I think I'm falling for you, and I know it's wrong. I know that I'm only supposed to be the adviser to your program and nothing more, but here's the thing. I think you're falling for me too.

xo, Zach

Audible was a having a 2 for 1 Credit sale and this book was on the list of available options, so I decided to give it a try. This is my first book by Kendall Ryan. I love Andy Arndt and Sebastian York as narrators, they’re wonderful. As soon as I saw their names listed I knew I had to get this.

Poppy, who is recently single, goes to a party with a friend and sees her ex with another woman. In a moment of panic she approaches a stranger and asks him to pose as her date. They end up having a great conversation and sharing a really hot kiss. He asks for her number, but she isn’t quite ready to commit to seeing him again. She tells him if it’s meant to be they’ll find each other. She’s feeling really great about it until she meets with her new adviser Monday morning and it’s Zach, the really great kisser from the party.

Zach wants Poppy. He wants to get her in bed, yes, but he genuinely likes her and thinks they could have something special. He’s almost 30. Ready to settle down and looking for something long term. But he also has a potty mouth and doesn’t always remember to spell out what he’s thinking. This makes Poppy hesitate to start anything with, even though he’s all in.

I really liked Zach. He was sweet and caring, despite his potty mouth. The poems he wrote Poppy were cute and I liked that he wanted her for more than just her body. The first couple chapters had a lot of humor. I actually laughed out loud a couple times. Then things went downhill. There were a lot of things that bothered me after the first quarter.

1) Zach is Poppy’s adviser. She told him she wasn’t interested in a relationship and he pursued it anyway. They eventually had a discussion about how she was safe with him and their professional relationship would never be affected by personal stuff, but it came too little, too late. He was already creepily aggressive a couple times prior to that.

2) Poppy. I hated her. She started out funny and sweet, but by the third chapter she was already getting on my nerves. View Spoiler » It was the way she threw it up as a road block for their relationship (internally) that bugged me.

Plus, she blew really hot and cold with Zach. She kept leading him on. She would flirt with him, kiss him, let him go down on her, then bail. The next day she rejects him and makes it clear she wants nothing but a student/adviser relationship with him, then she throws a fit because he goes on a date with someone else and purposely flirts with someone, because “screw it”!?!? She doesn’t want him, but no one else can have him either? She’s mad he’s with someone else after she rejected him repeatedly, but it’s okay for her to flirt with someone else? She makes it clear she’s not comfortable being in a relationship with him because he’s her adviser, then kisses him?

More than that, it was the immaturity of her actions. She literally ducked into bathrooms and ran around corners to avoid him. She was 24, not 14. The longer the story went on the more angry at her I became. Every time she let him kiss her or go down on her then disappeared, my blood pressure rose.

4) Poppy’s friends were pretty awful. The minute they gave out her personal information to Zach – with her sitting right there telling them not to – they lost me. With friends like that who needs creepy enemies?

Although there were couple things I liked, they didn’t make up for the rest. Between this and Rowena’s experience with Baby Daddy, I don’t think I’ll be trying another Kendall Ryan book.

1.5 out of 5

one-half-stars


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