Tag: Penguin

Review: Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin

Posted June 11, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Ayesha at Last by Uzma JalaluddinReviewer: Rowena
Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin
Publisher: Penguin, Berkley
Publication Date: June 4, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 368
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2019 GoodReads Challenge, Rowena's 2019 New to Me Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars

A modern-day Muslim Pride and Prejudice for a new generation of love.

Ayesha Shamsi has a lot going on. Her dreams of being a poet have been set aside for a teaching job so she can pay off her debts to her wealthy uncle. She lives with her boisterous Muslim family and is always being reminded that her flighty younger cousin, Hafsa, is close to rejecting her one hundredth marriage proposal. Though Ayesha is lonely, she doesn't want an arranged marriage. Then she meets Khalid who is just as smart and handsome as he is conservative and judgmental. She is irritatingly attracted to someone who looks down on her choices and dresses like he belongs in the seventh century.

Ayesha is torn between how she feels about the straightforward Khalid and the unsettling new gossip she hears about his family. Looking into the rumors, she finds she has to deal with not only what she discovers about Khalid, but also the truth she realizes about herself.

I picked this book up for review because I’ve heard so many good things about it around blog-land. Lots of bloggers loved this one so I knew that I would be reading it. I’m so happy to report that I agree with all of the other reviews out there. This was a charming P&P retelling even though it’s not a clear P&P retelling until you get almost to the end. Still, I was charmed from beginning to end and am definitely interested in reading more from Jalaluddin. She’s got a nice writing style that kept me involved in what was going on in the story and I appreciated her efforts.

Ayesha and Khalil were great. Their romance developed slowly with them getting to know each other but there was so much else going on in this book that I thought Jalaluddin did a great job of bringing everything together. I really liked that Jalaluddin didn’t waste words on stuff that didn’t matter. Everything and everyone had a purpose and the way that Ayesha and Khalil came together was pretty great. They were really put through the wringer but that made their coming together in the end so much more impactful. I mean, there were times when I was a little frustrated with both of them but for the most part, I was rooting for them to get their shit together and come together already.

They were also a great Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett pairing. I had a lot of the same frustrations with Ayesha’s character as I had with Elizabeth’s character in P&P. I saw a lot of Darcy in Khalil and seriously, the same issues I had with P&P were issues that I had here. There were times in P&P where I thought Elizabeth wasn’t remorseful enough when she was in the wrong where Darcy was concerned and I experienced that same thing here with Ayesha. Sure, I loved her as a character in the end but there were times when I wanted to wring her neck because I felt that Khalil was a lot more remorseful and showed a lot more growth than she did. Still, Uzma Jalaluddin did a great job of turning things around for the two of these guys and honestly, she brought out a lot of feels in me so I know that I’ll be thinking about this book for a while still.

This was a good one so I definitely recommend it for those of you guys looking for a diverse P&P retelling with a charming cast and a refreshing writing style that I ate right up with each page turned. Good stuff.

Final Grade

4 out of 5

four-stars


Tagged: , , , , , ,

Review: Hot to the Touch by Jaci Burton

Posted May 29, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Hot to the Touch by Jaci BurtonReviewer: Rowena
Hot to the Touch by Jaci Burton
Series: Brotherhood by Fire #1
Publisher: Penguin, Berkley
Publication Date: May 7, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 336
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2019 GoodReads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Love burns white-hot in this first scorching romance in an all-new trilogy about a family of firefighters from the New York Times bestselling author of the Play-by-Play novels and the Hope series.

Firefighter Jackson Donovan doesn't look back—as a rule. So when his past comes roaring back to life in the form of not-so-damsel-in-distress Becks Benning, the last thing he wants to do is relive old times. No matter how tempting she makes it seem...

Now thanks to his two interfering brothers, Becks is living with them while she looks for a new place and tries to pick up the pieces of her tattoo business that went up in flames. Which means a grown up, smokin' hot Becks is in his house, sharing meals, and digging up old wounds. And despite his better judgement, the more time he spends with this smart, artistic, incredible woman the more he wants her in his bed—and his future.

Becks always had it bad for Jackson. Unfortunately for her, not much has changed—he's still honorable, hard-working, sexy as sin—and closed off. But there's more than one way to get to a man's heart and if Jackson doesn't want to recall old memories, she'll just have to help him make new ones. Because now that she's found Jackson again, she's not letting him go.

Hot to the Touch is the first book in Jaci Burton’s Brotherhood by Fire series. This series follows a brotherhood of firefighters and this book kicks off with three homeless kids who get caught in a house fire and the firefighter that saves them from the fire and then adopts them, making them a family. Jackson Donovan is the oldest of the trio and this is his story.

Jackson, Kal, and Rafe have come a long way from their lives on the streets. They’re all employed, have a roof over their heads and they have a family now. They’re one of the lucky ones, considering where they came from. The past is something that Jackson tries not to think about, in his head the past is better left in the past so when a fire rescue brings him into contact with Becks, someone they all knew from the streets, the last thing Jackson wants, is to help her get back on her feet. She’s a part of the past and Jackson just doesn’t look back, for anyone or for anything. His hesitation and attitude toward Becks when she first comes to stay with them is a lot of the reason that I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I thought I would. I just didn’t understand it, didn’t care for his attitude and this part of the story moved really slow for me.

Becks had a huge crush on Jackson when they were kids and living on the street. When they disappeared all those years ago, Becks and the rest of their street living squad wondered what happened to them so running into them all these years later, finding out that they are alive and well made Becks happy. She was glad to see her friends in a better place and she was also grateful when Kal and Rafe offered their place for her to crash at while she figures out her next step with her home and business burning down. The last thing Becks wants to do is get in the way at her new temporary home but no matter what she does to pull her weight, Jackson takes offense to it and makes living with them a lot harder for Becks…and honestly, I just didn’t get it.

The chemistry between Jackson and Becks is there but it took a while for me to get over how annoyed I was with Jackson for being such a dickhead to Becks. He’s got the hots for her but he treated her like shit and I wanted to knee him in the balls at every turn. I will say that eventually, the story picks up and my annoyance with Jackson goes away because in the end, I did like him and I was happy when him and Becks finally get to their happy ending. Jaci Burton created a world with a cast of characters that I’m interested in getting to know in upcoming books. I’m a fan of cops and firefighters and all other emergency responders so I’m really looking forward to the rest of this series. I think my issues with this book stemmed from the hero’s treatment of the heroine and how not much happened in the beginning of this book but once the romance picks up, the story picks up and I ended up liking it.

Final Grade

3.25 out of 5

three-half-stars


Tagged: , , , , , , ,

Review: Frost Burned by Patricia Briggs

Posted May 17, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: Frost Burned by Patricia BriggsReviewer: Rowena
Frost Burned by Patricia Briggs
Series: Mercy Thompson #7
Also in this series: Frost Burned , Night Broken, Shifting Shadows, Blood Bound, Fire Touched, Silence Fallen , Moon Called, Blood Bound , Iron Kissed, Bone Crossed , River Marked , Storm Cursed
Publisher: Penguin, Ace
Publication Date: March 5, 2013
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating
Genres: Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 342
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Patricia Briggs's novel River Marked was praised as "an urban fantasy where our everyday world is believably twisted into the world of fey, werewolves, vampires, and myths made real." Now Mercy Thompson faces a shapeshifter's biggest fear as the realm she has embraced is thrown into chaos...

Mercy Thompson's life has undergone a seismic change. Becoming the mate of Adam Hauptman - the charismatic Alpha of the local werewolf pack - has made her a stepmother to his daughter Jesse, a relationship that brings moments of blissful normalcy to Mercy's life. But on the edges of humanity, a minor mishap on an ordinary day can turn into so much more...

After an accident in bumper-to-bumper traffic, Mercy and Jesse can't reach Adam - or anyone else in the pack for that matter. They've all been abducted.

Through their mating bond, all Mercy knows is that Adam is angry and in pain. But she fears Adam's disappearance may be related to the political battle the werewolves have been fighting to gain acceptance from the public - and that he and the pack are in serious danger. Outmatched and on her own, Mercy may be forced to seek assistance from any ally she can get, no matter how unlikely.

Frost Burned is the seventh book in the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs and it was another captivating story about the crazy shit that happens on the daily in Mercy Thompson’s life.

This book jumps off right at the beginning. Mercy is out shopping with her step-daughter Jesse when they get into a car accident. The accident delays them and that probably saved their lives because Mercy can feel that something isn’t right at home (through the pack bonds), before they can go home and find out what’s going on, they’re intercepted at Mercy’s shop by Ben and Gabriel, Ben is pack and Gabriel is Jesse’s friend who lives at Mercy’s old place. Adam and the rest of the pack were taken by some mysterious bad guy and Mercy scrambles to find out what happened, who is behind this and protect those that weren’t abducted but are still pack in her eyes.

I’m really enjoying how this series has made me love the heck out of every single character. Even when I’m super angry at someone in the pack for the way that they view and treat Mercy, they’re pack so when the chips are down, I’d still have their back and I think Briggs does a great job of making everyone family because it’s the same way with Mercy. Mercy’s pack goes far beyond just Adam’s pack. She’s got vampires, humans, and fae in her pack on top of all the werewolves and they’d do anything for her the same way that she’d do anything for them. I dig that so much.

This is also the book where we finally get Adam’s POV and I was so here for that. I also really like seeing how far Adam and Mercy have come from the first book. Their relationship is a huge part of why I enjoy this series so much. I adore both of them on their own but together? Together, they’re magic to me. Mercy didn’t completely overhaul her personality to be with Adam and it’s the same with Adam. I love that they have accepted each other as they are and they’re working to figure out how to be together with all of the shenanigans that are thrown their way.

This was another great story in Mercy’s world and though it wasn’t my favorite of the bunch that I’ve read so far, it was still solid storytelling on Briggs part and I’m pretty excited for the rest of the books. I definitely recommend.

Final Grade

4 out of 5

Mercy Thompson

four-stars


Tagged: , , , , , , ,

Joint Review: The Bride Test by Helen Hoang

Posted May 2, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 2 Comments

Joint Review: The Bride Test by Helen HoangReviewer: Holly & Rowena
The Bride Test by Helen Hoang
Series: The Kiss Quotient #2
Also in this series: The Kiss Quotient (The Kiss Quotient, #1)
Publisher: Penguin, Berkley
Publication Date: May 7, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 320
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Holly's 2019 GoodReads Challenge, Rowena's 2019 GoodReads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: five-stars

Khai Diep has no feelings. Well, he feels irritation when people move his things or contentment when ledgers balance down to the penny, but not big, important emotions—like grief. And love. He thinks he’s defective. His family knows better—that his autism means he just processes emotions differently. When he steadfastly avoids relationships, his mother takes matters into her own hands and returns to Vietnam to find him the perfect bride.

As a mixed-race girl living in the slums of Ho Chi Minh City, Esme Tran has always felt out of place. When the opportunity arises to come to America and meet a potential husband, she can’t turn it down, thinking this could be the break her family needs. Seducing Khai, however, doesn’t go as planned. Esme’s lessons in love seem to be working…but only on herself. She’s hopelessly smitten with a man who’s convinced he can never return her affection.

With Esme’s time in the United States dwindling, Khai is forced to understand he’s been wrong all along. And there’s more than one way to love.

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang (Holly’s Review, Rowena’s Review) was one of our favorite reads of 2018, and Rowena and I were so excited when we got The Bride Test, the second book in the series. The Bride Test follows Khai Diep. Khai is mentioned in TKQ, though I don’t think we ever met him on page. Michael, the hero from TKQ, and Khai are cousins.

Khai Diep is autistic, and as such doesn’t feel things the same way others do. To him, this means he can’t love, but his family knows better. After waiting years for him to find someone, his mother finally gives up on him doing it himself and goes to Vietnam to find a bride for him.

Esme Tran is cleaning the bathroom in the hotel where his mom is conducting wife interviews when they meet. His mom decides she’s the perfect person for Khai and offers her a deal – spend the summer in America trying to get Khai to marry her, and she can work in her restaurant and make some extra money. Esme doesn’t really know what to expect from Khai, but he’s so much more than she bargained for.

Holly: I have to be honest. I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about a “mail-order bride” story. But it was so much more than that. I loved Esme’s personal journey almost more than the romance, I think.

Rowena: Yeah, I didn’t expect to like this one nearly as much as I did. I wasn’t excited to read a mail-order bride romance either but Helen Hoang did her thing. I really enjoyed Khai’s romance though I did have issues with certain things where Esme was concerned. I thought it took her wayyyyy too long to tell Khai the truth about EVERYTHING. I mean, she had so many opportunities to come clean with Khai and she didn’t. But other than that, this one was a solid read.

Holly: I don’t know why she didn’t come clean, either. That was the only part that really bothered me. She had things to tell him and she shouldn’t have waited as long as she did.

Rowena: Yeah, my issue with that is because sure, she knew that he didn’t want kids (at least according to his Mom) but after she knew that she wasn’t going to accept his marriage proposal, that should have been the time that she came clean about everything. About why she was sent there, about who was waiting for her back home, all of that. She was quick to come clean about that stuff with Quan but not Khai? I wasn’t a fan of that.

Holly: Yes, exactly. She should have told him. I do think she was more comfortable telling Quan because she didn’t really care what he thought of her, whereas she was afraid of what Khai would say. But still, she should have fessed up. I’d have liked to see more with Khai and Jade, too.

Holly: Speaking of things that needed to be said ….he never told her about his money? WTF?

Rowena: With Khai not telling her about his money, I chalked that up to his autism. He didn’t think the same way that everyone else did and he really didn’t think about his money at all. That was evident with the way that he chose to live his life. It wasn’t something that he was intentionally keeping from her so it didn’t bother me that it was never addressed.

Holly: No, you aren’t wrong about that part. I honestly wasn’t bothered about it for all the reasons you stated, until the very end when he thinks that thing about how he still hasn’t told her. Like, before that it wasn’t deliberate. After that, it was.

From the epilogue:

He’d already put Esme and Jade in his will, though they didn’t know—about the will itself or all the money they’d be inheriting from him because he had no idea what to do with it. That stuff wasn’t important.

So, maybe it was just that he never thought about it. But I’m surprised no one else mentioned it to her.

Still, I really liked how Esme was with Khai. She just let him be who he was, but found ways to keep him thinking about her. I also liked her personal growth and how she was determined to find a way to do it on her own. Her inner strength and determination really stood out, and I loved how she grew into her own powers as the novel went on.

Rowena: I liked how Khai adapted to being with her. He showed a lot of growth himself and I enjoyed seeing him come into his feelings for Esme. The way that she ended up in his bed, the way that did things that bothered him but he just kept right on taking it because in small ways, he enjoyed them.

Holly: Khai did show a lot of growth. Man, my heart hurt for him. But girl, when he basically wham, bam thank you-ma’am’d her? I wanted to beat him over the head with something. I know he didn’t realize what he was doing, but I was still low key pissed at him. I loved that the first time wasn’t all perfect for them both, though.

Rowena: The only thing that made me want to smack him upside his head was how he kept insisting that he didn’t have it in him to love anyone, let alone Esme. Even after Quan explains what he was feeling and how he was acting after their break up, Khai kept insisting that Quan was wrong. I was like, boy…if you don’t knock that shit off.

Holly: Honestly, I blame his aunts for all that nonsense. Because they’re the ones who were like “What’s wrong with you”. But I kind of blame Quan, Michael and his mom, too. Once they realized how he thought he couldn’t love, they should have explained it better. View Spoiler »

Rowena: View Spoiler » Still, there was a lot to love in this one. I loved Khai’s family, I loved little Jade and the way that she loved her Mom big time. I liked that Esme made moves for herself and I really liked the epilogue.

Holly: I was kind of bothered about how she made him wait to get married. I’m not sure why, though. I think it’s because it didn’t feel authentic to her character, or his. The whole book they were sort of working toward that, and they loved each other. So making him wait seemed…strange to me. I don’t know. I have to think about it a little more.

Rowena: I will say that as much as I enjoyed both Khai and the romance, I’m super excited about Quan…I need more Quan!

Holly: I love Quan, too. I hope we get his book next.

Rowena: This book gets a 4.25 out of 5 from me. What about you?

Holly: For all my complaints, I really did love the book. I was fully invested in them both from page one, and I read it in a single sitting. I got teary eyed a couple times and laughed out loud several others. Hoang did it again.

I’m giving it 4.25 as well.

Final Grades

Holly: 4.25 out of 5
Rowena: 4.25 out of 5

The Kiss Quotient

Untitled Book #3

four-stars


Tagged: , , , , , , , ,

Featured Review: Magic Burns by Ilona Andrews

Posted April 26, 2019 by Casee in Reviews | 1 Comment

Featured Review: Magic Burns by Ilona AndrewsReviewer: Casee, Holly, & Rowena
Magic Burns by Ilona Andrews
Series: Kate Daniels #2
Also in this series: Magic Shifts, Magic Shifts, Magic Binds, Magic Bites, Magic Strikes, Iron and Magic, Magic Triumphs, Magic Bites, Magic Bleeds , Magic Strikes , Magic Slays , Gunmetal Magic , Magic Rises
Publisher: Penguin, Berkley
Publication Date: April 1, 2008
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 260
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Casee's 2019 GoodReads Challenge, Holly's 2019 GoodReads Challenge, Rowena's 2019 GoodReads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-half-stars

Down in Atlanta, tempers – and temperatures – are about to flare…

As a mercenary who cleans up after magic gone wrong, Kate Daniels has seen her share of occupational hazards. Normally, waves of paranormal energy ebb and flow across Atlanta like a tide. But once every seven years, a flare comes, a time when magic runs rampant. Now Kate’s going to have to deal with problems on a much bigger scale: a divine one.

When Kate sets out to retrieve a set of stolen maps for the Pack, Atlanta’s paramilitary clan of shapeshifters, she quickly realizes much more at stake. During a flare, gods and goddesses can manifest – and battle for power. The stolen maps are only the opening gambit in an epic tug-of-war between two gods hoping for rebirth. And if Kate can’t stop the cataclysmic showdown, the city may not survive…

Casee: This is the second book in the Kate Daniels series. What did you two think? I thought it was loads better than Magic Bites. While I was listening to Magic Burns, I was pretty happy that we got the information dump in the first book. It was easy to get into this book and understand what was happening.

Holly: This book is loads better than Magic Bites. I’m so glad you two continued on with the series because it’s so freaking good.

Rowena: I liked this book way more than I liked Magic Bites, too. I’m also glad that I slogged through all of that information dumping from Magic Bites because it made jumping into this one a lot easier. It took me a long ass time to read this book though but that was due to my reading slump and had nothing to do with my enjoyment of this book.

Casee: Kate did get annoying in this book. She’s a martyr.

Holly: I don’t think Kate is a martyr so much as she takes on responsibility for everyone. Calling her a martyr implies she wallows in her misery, and I don’t think that’s the case. Still, I agree that she can be annoying. It’s frustrating when she takes everything on herself.

Rowena: I don’t think Kate is a martyr either. I agree with Holly that she just takes responsibility for everyone. I do like that she’s loyal as shit and that she has a great moral compass. I loved that she won’t save herself at the expense of anyone and because of that, I let all of the things that make her annoying slide.

Casee: I agree with both of you. Martyr was a poor choice of words. She just feels like she’s responsible for everyone. Kate wants to save everyone, even at her own expense. It’s admirable and annoying at the same time.

Holly: I love the world, and how magic comes and goes.

Rowena: I really like how messed up this world is. Magic flares be fucking shit up and it cracks me up that Kate can’t drive a car, make a phone call when magic gets in the way. I loved seeing Derek again, gosh what a good character he is. I love how loyal he is to Kate and how much he seems to care about her too. I also really liked seeing Kate bond with Julie. I loved when she referred to Julie as her kid.

Holly: I Love what a badass Kate is. When she was fighting in that last battle scene? Damn.

Rowena: Yes, I love how Kate will fight to the death to protect those she holds close to her. I’m really curious to see how everyone is going to react when they find out what she is, especially Curran.

Also, things are heating up with Curran and I’m so freaking here for it. When she comes home and he’s sitting on her couch, waiting to welcome her home and made her coffee?? Gah. I’m a sucker for that shit and I need more!

Casee: I love, love, love Curran. I love how the relationship between the two of them is evolving. Andrews is extraordinary at getting Curran’s emotions across the page, even though this series is strictly from Kate’s POV. You never wonder what he’s thinking because the series is so well written.

Holly: I love how she and Curran circle each other, and how well she takes care of the people she loves. I can’t wait for you guys to finish the series. I’m all aflutter with anticipation.

Rowena: Curran wasn’t my favorite person in Magic Bites, I actually didn’t care for him all that much but that’s not the case anymore. Seeing him circle Kate, trying to wear her down is just fantastic. I’m going to laugh so much when Kate finally says, “Please” and “Thank you”. LMAO!

Casee: I also really enjoy the humor in these books. This series can be rather dark, so the humor really breaks things up. I really enjoyed the interaction between Kate and the guy that kept stealing the maps.

Rowena: Bran kept stealing the maps and I really liked the way that Andrews wrote his character. He was annoying and I wasn’t expecting to like him or even be as affected as I was when he left, but I was. I loved the interactions between him and Kate and I loved how Kate made sure that he would be remembered by the witches. So good.

Casee: I wasn’t expecting Bran to be as likable as he was. Kate’s reaction at the end of the book just slayed me. I do love that Kate will do anything for the people she feels are hers to protect, even as she did get somewhat annoying. How can you not like loyalty and love like that? I couldn’t wait for Curran to find out what she is. That scene won’t disappoint.

Holly: I agree that Bran started out annoying, but really grew on me. I loved how his relationship with Kate developed. I think she saw a lot of herself in him. Prior to Julie, Derek and Andrea (and of course Curran) coming into her life, she was on the path to loneliness, too.

Casee: Are you going to continue to read the series, Wena?

Rowena: Heck yes!

Holly: Woot! I’m so glad you plan to continue.

Rowena: This book gets a 4.25 out of 5 from me. What about you guys?

Holly: I think this gets 3.75 from me. I like it, but it isn’t one of the best in the series.

Casee: It gets a 4 from me. I really enjoyed getting immersed in this world.

Final Grades

Casee: 4 out of 5
Holly: 3.75-4 out of 5
Rowena: 4.25 out of 5

Kate Daniels


four-stars


Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , ,