Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Review: Checkmate: This is Reckless (Drew & Courtney, #1) by Kennedy Fox

Checkmate: This is Reckless (Drew & Courtney, #1) of the Checkmate Duet Series by Kennedy Fox 

Publishing Date: February 7, 2017
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Pages: 402
Contemporary Romance

The Premise from the Author: "Are you ready to play the game? Drew Fisher is the type of guy every girl wants. Noble police officer by day, charming prince by night. He has no idea the effect he has on women, especially me--his little sister's best friend. I'm the blonde Southern belle who lives up to the cliché, except I have my own quirks. I'm smart as a whip, can change my own oil, and recite The Pledge of Allegiance backward, but he doesn't see that girl. It'd be easier to forget him if he wasn't my roommate and if the first thing I saw in the morning wasn't his shirtless body covered in tattoos. I've crushed on him since the day we met, but he's made it perfectly clear where we stand. Just friends. I know I need to move on and accept that his feelings will never be mutual, but every day he smiles at me, I'm left dreaming of what if. He has girl issues, and I've got a crush I can't deny. We're friends, but I want more. One drunken hookup leaves us with much more than a platonic friendship. Pretending it never happened proves to be more difficult than anticipated. A crazy ex-girlfriend, a dangerous war of stolen glances, and passionate kisses leads to the most reckless battle yet. I won't be a pawn in his game, but I'll play by his rules if it will show him I'm the one worth breaking them for. Checkmate, Prince Charming" (Fox).

*Recommend for ages 18+ due to sexual content and adult language.* **This is book 1 of 2 in the Checkmate Duet Series--a friends to lovers romance. Highly recommended to read the Checkmate Duet, This is War and This is Love first, but not necessary. This can read as a standalone duet.**

My overall thoughts and review: I am seriously falling in love with Kennedy Fox books. This one is definitely up there as one of my favorites now. It follows Courtney (Viola's bestfriend who is known for her blueberry muffins, LOL I was craving blueberry muffins the entire time reading this) and Drew (Viola's brother). They became roommates after Travis and Viola got together and Courtney has always had a thing for Drew. Unfortunately "Mia Effin Montgomery" complicates things and she was seriously a psychopath that added some drama to the mix. It is pitched as a friends to romance story and I'm seriously a sucker for those. I think personally, good relationships are first built on good friendships and I really liked seeing that develop with Drew & Courtney. You get to see other couples interacting like Viola & Travis, which was nice if you as a reader came to this book after reading their duet. It was like a continuation of their story since their wedding takes place in the book and their honeymoon. You also get to see Courtney and Drew with Viola & Travis' kids: Ginny and James, which was really cute so a huge factor of family. I really liked that KF touched on Drew's worklife - the dangers of being a policeman, working with his partner Logan (AHH!).You see the risks of it really towards the end of the book. A huge step in their relationship was when Drew visited Courtney's family with her and it was really sweet. He got to see her upbringing and meet her family (she has four brothers who clearly love her!) Some of my favorite swoonworthy moments include: their texting which is adorable and just how Drew falls so hard for her. Again, I love that they were friends first which makes their relationship all the more special. They also have traditions together like drinks on Ladies Night, and watching two films on Halloween (so cute)! Like the previous Duet series, this first book does end on a cliffhanger and had me raging, so I really hope my OTP #Drewtney are ok in the next book or else I will not be pleased. I just really love both as characters. Courtney, like Viola, is incredibly strong and independent and when she loves, she loves hard.  Drew was frustrating in the beginning not seeing Mia for the manipulative person she was, really grows as an individual. He loves hard as well, but he just stands up for himself and takes such good care of Courtney and his sister, Viola.Overall, I absolutely loved this book. I didn't think I'd be swooning over Viola's brother tbh (especially after Travis King lololol), but goodness, I love this couple so much and I can't wait to see their relationship grow even further in the next book.

My rating of the book: ✮✮✮✮✮ (5/5 stars)

Available for purchase at:
KennedyFoxBooks, Kobo Books, Amazon, Kindle, and Book Depository (Free Worldwide Shipping)

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Review: Shade the Changing Girl Vol. 1: Earth Girl Made Easy by Cecil Castellucci

Shade the Changing Girl Vol. 1: Earth Girl Made Easy by Cecil Castellucci, Marley Zarcone, Ande Parks, Ryan Kelly, & Kelly Fitzpatrick. 

Publishing Date: July 18, 2017
Publisher: DC Comics / Young Animal
Pages: 144

The Premise from the Publisher: "Far away on the planet Meta, Loma's going nowhere fast. She's dropped out of school, dumped her boyfriend and is bored out of her mind. She longs to feel things. That's where her idol, the lunatic poet Rac Shade, and his infamous madness coat come in. Loma steals the garment and makes a break across galaxies to take up residence in a new body: Earth girl Megan Boyer. Surely everything will be better on this passionate, primitive planet with a dash of madness on her side and this human girl's easy life. Only now that she's here, Loma discovers being a teenaged Earth girl comes with its own challenges and Earth may not be everything she thought it'd be. Megan Boyer was a bully who everyone was glad was almost dead, and now Loma has to survive high school and navigate the consequences of the life she didn't live with the ever-growing and uncontrollable madness at her side. Not to mention that there are people back on her homeworld who might just want Shade's coat back" (DC).

"SHADE, THE CHANGING GIRL is a part of DC's Young Animal--a four-book grassroots mature-reader imprint, creatively spearheaded by Gerard Way, bridging the gap between the DC Universe and Vertigo, and focusing on the juxtaposition between visual and thematic storytelling" (DC).

My overall thoughts and review: I'm not familiar with the previous presentation of Shade, so I went into this graphic novel with no prior history. Apparently, previously, Shade was the Changing Man and in Castellucci's iteration, Shade is re-imagined as a teenage girl. It was quite confusing when it first started off because Shade steals this coat that allows her to travel across galaxies and take residence in a new body. Shade chooses the body of Megan Boyer, who is brain dead but miraculously wakes up. The reader soon learns that Megan was actually a horrible bully and now Shade is facing those consequences. She is trying to learn about what really happened the night of Megan's accident that landed her in a coma, how she was on the swim team, and who her true friends are. The art can be quite beautiful at times but I'm not a big fan of the art style to begin with. I found it really confusing to follow at times and that really slowed down my entire reading process for this graphic novel. The flip flop between earth and Shade's planet back home was incredibly confusing and it didn't take until the second issue/chapter to really learn about the jacket and how Shade stole it. The collected series, which follows issues #1-6, does resolve the mystery of the Megan arc somewhat (but what really happened that night and who did it?!?) and it appears that Shade is trying to make amends for what Megan had done which is nice since its technically not her mess to clean up. But it was incredibly unbelievable how other humans just simply accepted that Shade was now an alien in Megan's body (her parents for example) and it was hard to distinguish memories at times. Overall, I really tried to enjoy this read, but with the art style really not hooking me and the narrative confusing me more than ever, I don't think I'll continue on with this series.

My rating of the book: ✮✮ (2/5 stars)

Available for purchase at:

Disclaimer: An advanced reader's copy of the book was provided by Penguin Random House Canada in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Review: Sparrow by L.J. Shen

Sparrow by L.J. Shen

Publishing Date: March 1, 2016
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services LLC
Pages: 310

The Premise from the Author: "Troy Brennan. Every Southie in Boston knows that name. The son of a dead mobster. The heart-throb with steel-blue eyes. "The Fixer" who can make or break you in this city. Oh, and my new husband. Sparrow Raynes. That's me. No one seemed to remember my name up until he barged into my life. But then he caged me. Kidnapped me. And killed every chance I had to run away from the place where we grew up. Put simply, Troy Brennan clipped my wings. I have dreams, big ones, but I doubt he'll ever let me chase them. I have no idea why he decided to take me as his wife. But I do know this: pissing off this man will not do me any good. At all" (Shen).

My overall thoughts and review: So I first started my love with L.J. Shen's writing with her book Vicious, I absolutely loved it and I'm slowly working my way through her backlist. I always have such a hard time writing reviews for books I really love because I feel like all I say is, it's good, it's good, it's good. But I really want to write a review promoting L.J. Shen's books because she is slowly becoming one of my favorite romance authors ever. I'm going to slowly write reviews for all of her books, and this one is one that I've read recently and literally devoured in a day. I had a day off and spent the entire day in bed reading this. I could not put it down and when it ended, I was pretty sad that there wasn't more. There is something about her writing that is so captivating and I'm immediately drawn into the world and the characters. The story of Sparrow has the premise of an arranged marriage between a mob boss' son. Sparrow is forced into marrying Troy, who she barely knows and has only heard some rumors about. Those rumors she heard also weren't really good and they were about Troy murdering some people. Immediately, Troy is definitely a hard-to-love character, but you can't help falling for him. Everything he even says to Sparrow, makes you as the reader, fall for him. He is so mysterious, charming, and cutthroat. He doesn't make excuses and gets right to the point which I like. I also really liked how Sparrow was because she was his equal. She didn't stand for any of his crap, and anything that he dished out to her, she was able to throw it right back. They had a slow-burn romance that I am a big fan of. I love seeing relationships develop and do a complete 180 and surprise the reader. I absolutely loved watching their story unfold and how much of their relationship began with their family and their mistakes. I will say that this story does not get a full five stars from me simply because of some questionable things that happened with Troy and also with another character, Catalina (who I absolutely hated!). Some things simply didn't sit well with me, regardless of technicalities (Sparrow and Troy weren't a 'real' couple yet, but still). Besides that, I really enjoyed this read and it is my second favorite of her books after Vicious. There are so many layers to Troy & Sparrow, and I loved that it was more than simply a relationship between a girl and a mobster's son. Shen does an amazing job at world building and making sure that her characters actually live in the narrative as opposed to simply relying on dialogue. I was definitely surprised to with a few revelations so the story is always keeping you on your toes. If you haven't been introduced to L.J. Shen yet, what are you waiting for? She mixes romance perfectly with crime and suspense.

My rating of the book: ✮✮✮✮ (4/5 stars)

Available for purchase at:
Amazon, Kindle, and Book Depository (Free Worldwide Shipping)

Links for L.J. Shen: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram 

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Review: Checkmate: This is Love (Travis & Viola, #2) by Kennedy Fox

Checkmate: This is Love (Travis & Viola, #2 of the Checkmate Duet Series) by Kennedy Fox 

Publishing Date: November 30, 2016
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Pages: 432
Contemporary Romance

The Premise from the Author: "Viola Fisher is the epitome of perfection. She despises my one-night stands and mocks my less-than-classy habits. She’s smart, beautiful, and too good to be true. And I want her. If she were anyone else, I’d have made my move years ago, but considering she’s my best friend’s little sister, she’s always been off-limits. Not to mention how much she loathes my very existence. Hating me is her religion, but needing her is mine. Her sexy curves and filthy smart mouth make me want her even more, and I’m more determined than ever to change her mind. I’ll prove I’m done playing games. But until then, we’ll continue to play by her rules. Viola Fisher may have won the battle, but the war isn’t over yet. Checkmate, princess" (Fox).

*Recommend for ages 18+ due to sexual content and adult language.* **This is Love is book #2 in the Checkmate Duet series. You must read This is War first.**

My overall thoughts and review: So I'm starting to learn that KF likes to end books on cliffhangers which leave you wanting the next book immediately. This is Love takes place right after This is War, so after Travis' accident with Mia. Gosh, if you didn't hate Mia before, you will really hate her in this book. She just loves stirring up trouble for the sake of it. Viola tries her very best to trust Travis and it was incredibly frustrating when he didn't just say what happened and what didn't right from the beginning. You also see more of how Drew is being treated by Mia which is incredibly frustrating, but it's a nice set-up for the next duet of books. In terms of Travis and Viola... you can see they still had their banter this book but the strong all-consuming-rage they had before definitely simmered down, so it was nice to see them just be them. There was still some really intense sexy moments because it is team #Traviola of course, but you also got to see some really sweet moments too. You got to see a lot more of their past again and things do get complicated when Mia finally ~tells~ Drew her messed up version of what happened. Drew also learns about Viola & Travis in the process which doesn't really end well. A big thing happens that separates them and instead of having them just sit and wallow over not being together, you really see both Travis and Viola step up in this moment. Travis finally stands up for himself at work and refuses to take anymore crap that he's had to, and Viola really shines at her new internship job. The best thing about this moment in the book was that they stood as their own individual characters that as a reader you come to love and admire for their strength, and when they worked out their differences and came together, it was really quite sweet. I'm glad things wrapped up nicely for the both of them. Once again, Kennedy Fox includes all the amazing Harry Potter references which makes my heart so, so, happy. It was equal parts sexy and sweet and I definitely can't wait to read the next few books in this series. I love Fox's writing already! They bring together strong and sassy female leads with sweet counterparts, a good dose of drama (MIA EFFIN MONTGOMERY), and a well-rounded aspect of family and friendship. KF are quickly becoming my favorite romance writing duo! ;)

My rating of the book: ✮✮✮✮ (4/5 stars)

Available for purchase at:
KennedyFoxBooksKobo BooksAmazonKindle, and Book Depository (Free Worldwide Shipping)

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Review: Checkmate: This is War (Travis & Viola, #1) by Kennedy Fox

Checkmate: This is War (Travis & Viola, #1 of the Checkmate Duet Series) by Kennedy Fox 

Publishing Date: September 18, 2016
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Pages: 414
Contemporary Romance

The Premise from the Author: "*An enemies to lovers romance* Travis King is the worst kind of asshole. He taunts me for being a good girl and mocks my high standards. He’s cruel, crass, and has enough confidence to last two lifetimes. And I hate him. It wouldn’t matter so much if he were avoidable. But considering he’s my older brother’s best friend and roommate, I see him more than I’d ever want to. His sculpted abs and gorgeous eyes are a waste on such an egotistical man, which makes me hate him even more. Even though I’ve had a crush on him since I was ten, the feelings weren’t mutual and he’s always made that very clear. He’s always loved getting under my skin and one night against my better judgment, I let him in my bed.  I’ve succumbed to his manwhore ways, but that doesn’t change a thing. Because the King is about to get played at his own game—and lose. Checkmate" (Fox).

*Recommend for ages 18+ due to sexual content and adult language.*

My overall thoughts and review: I kept seeing Kennedy Fox books all over my instagram feed and fellow blogger Amanda at Brains, Books, and Brawn is a big fan of the books so I decided to check them out. Kennedy Fox is a writing duo and this is their debut series. I love how close they are in terms of publication date so you don't have to wait incredibly long for the next book in the series. And similar to Christina Lauren, the characters have a group of friends and that is explored in the other books in the series. This duet of Travis & Viola has the premise of a enemies to lover romance, so hate to love trope. I'm sometimes into that and I'm sometimes not. If they can convince me by the end of the book that the guy is redeemable, I'm all for it. So that's what happened in this case ;) When you first meet Travis, he is hooking up with the daughter of the CEO of his company, so immediately, he feels like a player and just the way he spoke about women in general was a bit of a turn off. We learn that Travis & Viola have a history, and Travis is Drew's (Viola's older brother) bestfriend. So obviously them getting together would be problematic. They hate each other and they are known to spew hate at one another, but there's clearly some underlying sexual tension between the two of them. In flashbacks, we learn that Travis befriended Viola when they were younger until something happens that makes Viola hate him. They are forced to spend a week together at Travis & Drew's home and things start to heat up. Of course a hookup isn't simply a hookup and there's years of pent-up emotions and feelings. Things get complicated when they don't properly communicate with one another, and Drew's girlfriend, Mia, is an absolutely train-wreck that complicates things even further. The first book ends on a major cliffhanger but what I really enjoyed was how much I grew to really like Travis towards the end of the book. I loved both characters. Viola is a strong and independent character who puts her career first, and can definitely hold her own against Travis, but we also see Travis be more than the persona he gives off, as he comes to terms with his feelings for Viola, and seeing him handle his work life. Travis King truly treats Viola like his queen, and you can really see how much he loves her. This book has some pretty sexy and swoony moments and there were so many Harry Potter references that made my heart happy. I immediately jumped into the next book after this (review to come shortly). If you are a fan of swoony and steamy romance with strong and sassy female leads, this is definitely the series for you!

My rating of the book: ✮✮✮✮ (4/5 stars)

Available for purchase at:
KennedyFoxBooksKobo Books, Amazon, Kindle, and Book Depository (Free Worldwide Shipping)

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Review: History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera

History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera

Publishing Date: January 17, 2017
Publisher: Soho Press
Pages: 304
Young Adult Contemporary

The Premise from the Publisher: "When Griffin’s first love and ex-boyfriend, Theo, dies in a drowning accident, his universe implodes. Even though Theo had moved to California for college and started seeing Jackson, Griffin never doubted Theo would come back to him when the time was right. But now, the future he’s been imagining for himself has gone far off course. To make things worse, the only person who truly understands his heartache is Jackson. But no matter how much they open up to each other, Griffin’s downward spiral continues. He’s losing himself in his obsessive compulsions and destructive choices, and the secrets he’s been keeping are tearing him apart. If Griffin is ever to rebuild his future, he must first confront his history, every last heartbreaking piece in the puzzle of his life" (Soho Press).

My overall thoughts and review: This was my first Adam Silvera book, and I decided to go with the Audible version. Well done, Tom Picasso, for bringing the characters of Griffin, Theo, Jackson, and Wade to life for me. I just knew from the premise that I was getting into a book that did not have a happy ending, since it begins with Theo's death. I definitely got emotional a few moments listening to this book, so prepare yourself for the feels. Griffin, Theo, and Wade, were a trio of friends, and things got a bit complicated when Theo and Griffin confessed their love to each other and started dating. They were each other's first loves, and things got complicated when Theo was accepted early into university. They broke up, and thinking they both would be endgame, things didn't seem that bad, until Theo met Jackson. The story is told from two perspectives: present time & history. We slowly learn about Griffin and his relationships, while simultaneously seeing him deal with grief and mourning the death of Theo. Things get complicated when Griffin decides to befriend Jackson, because he wants to learn the truth of what really happened that day that Theo drowned. He also feels like he can ~be~ with Theo by learning about their experiences. At the same time, Griffin is also dealing with the fact that he has compulsions which lead to dangerous and destructive choices. His family is so incredibly supportive. I especially loved his father's loyalty to him. Even though Griffin does agree to get help and go to therapy towards the end of the book and work through his compulsions, I felt like this component could've been explored a bit further in the book. I would've liked to learn more about Griffin's recovery. His destructive choices were questionable and I found it really difficult at times to feel empathy for him, but it just shows that everyone deals with grief in their own way. I also really liked the friendship dynamic with Wade and just how there was a lot of friendship themes going on (Jackson also had his own problems with his friends). It really stresses the importance of friendship during dark times. The book did take a few twists that I did not expect, so kudos to Silvera for surprising me there! I really enjoyed the book and I felt genuine concern for these characters. I got to see them at their best moments and worst moments and I loved how authentic the entire story felt when it comes to death and mourning. I also really liked all the nerdy references throughout the book like Harry Potter & Star Wars. Overall, this is a lovely story about falling in love for the first time, coming out, and dealing with the loss of a loved one. I am already anticipating Silvera's next book They Both Die At End and I can just sense from the title of that one that it will once again bring all the feels!

My rating of the book: ✮✮✮✮ (4/5 stars)

Available for purchase at:
Chapters/IndigoAudibleKobo BooksAmazon and Book Depository (Free Worldwide Shipping)

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Blog Tour: Wesley James Ruined My Life by Jennifer Honeybourn - Review and Author Q&A

Wesley James Ruined My Life by Jennifer Honeybourn

Publishing Date: July 18, 2017
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Pages: 256
Young Adult Contemporary

The Premise from the Publisher: "Quinn is having a rough summer. Her beloved grandmother has been put into a nursing home, her dad's gambling addiction has flared back up, and now her worst enemy is back in town: Wesley James, former childhood friend and life ruiner. So when Wesley is hired to work with her at Tudor Tymes, a medieval England-themed restaurant, the last thing Quinn's going to do is forgive and forget. She's determined to remove him from her life and even the score for once and for all-by getting him fired. But getting rid of Wesley isn't as easy as she'd hoped. When Quinn finds herself falling for him, she has to decide what she wants more: to get even, or to get the boy" (Swoon Reads).

My overall thoughts and review: I first heard about this book at the Raincoast Preview and we got to hear Jennifer talk about her book a bit. I was immediately interested because I loved the idea of working at a medieval English-themed restaurant, and I love ~enemies~ to lovers narratives. I will say that you don't learn how Wesley ruined her life (according to her) immediately, so the pacing of that was a bit interesting. I liked how there was build up for it and it was revealed at a good moment in the text. Also back to the setting: Tudor Tymes is basically Medieval Times and I'm not going to lie, I had a desire to go to Medieval Times the entire time I was reading this. Quinn's big obsession with all things England and her desire to work hard and save up for a trip to England stems from her relationship with her Gran. I really appreciated learning about the moments they shared together. For example, when Quinn spoke about them staying up to watch the royal wedding together, it definitely reminded me of my relationship with my mom and aunt. Wesley also had a relationship with Quinn's grandma and they kept in touch, so it was nice learning how big of a role Gran had in both their lives. Other family members included, Quinn's father and he has a gambling problem. I know that it was more about Quinn & Wesley, but I would've liked to see that addressed a bit more. Especially how to handle that since it just seemed like he was ~getting better~ but then not. I also didn't really enjoy the introduction of Wesley's girlfriend, Jolie,  which was definitely strange and came out of no where. I feel like the book could've worked fine without that added drama. Quinn was definitely frustrating at moments putting so much emphasis on what Wesley did, but I'm glad that Wesley persevered through for the sake of their friendship. He's such a dorky character and I have to say he is definitely my favorite from the book. Overall, I really enjoyed this book and I'm glad the cover choice of the food truck finally made sense towards the end of the book. I was so confused from the get-go going how does food trucks fit with Tudor Tymes (LOL). I would highly recommend this adorable, summer read to anyone who is a fan of Stephanie Perkins and Rainbow Rowell. Honeybourn writes similarly to them with strong female protagonists, a swoony romantic interest, with the perfect amount of family and friendship themes included. I can't wait to see what she writes next!

My rating of the book: ✮✮✮✮ (4/5 stars)

Available for purchase at:
Chapters/Indigo, Kobo Books, Amazon, and Book Depository (Free Worldwide Shipping)

Author Question and Answer
1. Which character are you most like? Quinn or Wesley?
I am definitely more like Quinn. She and I share some similar personality traits, although I’d like to think that I don’t hold a grudge as long as she does. And I wouldn’t plot to actually get someone fired. I did give her my love of London and I was also close with my grandmother.

I wish I was more like Wesley, however — laid back, lets things roll off his shoulders, doesn’t really stress about much. I aspire to be more like him. 
Links for Jennifer: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram 

Thank you so much, Jennifer, for taking the time to answer my question. I definitely feel more like Quinn as well! Be sure to check out the other stops on the blog tour to check out more awesome reviews of this book and to see what other questions other bloggers have asked Jennifer. 

Disclaimer: An advanced reader's copy of the book was provided by Raincoast Books for participation in the book tour. All opinions of the book are my own.