It’s been a long, long two months. With coronavirus spreading like wildfire, I’ve been stuck in the house, which one would normally think lends itself to plenty of time for reading. Ah, yeah, not so much. More than anything, I’ve been too busy working to get much reading done.
I’m still trying to reduce my physical TBR pile, but man, it’s hard to resist the lure of library ebooks. There’s just so many to choose from! Although, I’m sure the same could be said of everything already on my shelves… hmm.
Anyway, here’s what I read in February and March!
(all summaries and covers from Goodreads)
1. Lover Unleashed by JR Ward
Payne, twin sister of Vishous, is cut from the same dark, seductive cloth as her brother. Imprisoned for eons by their mother, the Scribe Virgin, she finally frees herself – only to face a devastating injury.
Manuel Manello, M.D., is drafted by the Brotherhood to save her as only he can – but when the human surgeon and the vampire warrior meet, their two worlds collide in the face of their undeniable passion. With so much working against them, can love prove stronger than the birthright and the biology that separates them?
2 out of 5 stars
Yes, it’s another f*cking JR Ward vampire book!!! Will I ever run out?? Who knows!! These things appear to be infinite!!!
Knocked this one out in a roundtrip train ride from DC to NYC and found myself skimming quite a bit of it. Honestly, the further into this series I read, the more boring and repetitive the writing/plot gets. And there was a whole storyline that had no tie in to the rest of the characters except a very vague thread? I guess I can’t really be surprised considering this is the ninth book in the series; there’s only so original you can be after a point, I suppose.
2. Thirsty by Mia Hopkins
My name is Salvador Rosas. Back in the barrio, my past is written on the walls: ESHB. Short for East Side Hollenbeck, my father’s gang—my gang. Hell, it’s a family tradition, one that sent both my brothers away. They used to call me “Ghost” because I haunted people’s dreams. Now I’ve got nothing going for me except a hipster gringo mentoring me in a new career. An ex-con making craft beer? No mames.
Still, people in this neighborhood look out for one another. That’s how I became Vanessa Velasco’s unwelcome tenant. Chiquita pero picosa. She’s little, but with curves so sweet they’re dangerous. I remember Vanessa from the old days, the straight-A student with big plans. Plans that were derailed by another kid stupid enough to think he was bulletproof. Now Vanessa knows better than to believe in empty promises. There’s fire in her . . . and if I touch her, I might get burned.
I’m trying everything I can to go straight. But when East Side Hollenbeck comes calling, I might have to risk it all to find out if there’s a future for Vanessa and me. Because she’s the only one who can quench my thirst for something real.
2.75 out of 5 stars
Saw this on the front page of my library’s ebook selection and figured, hey, why the heck not give this one a try. I blame the cover and title more than anything. Total thirst trap.
Hm. I don’t quite know how I felt about this one. The POV felt forced for the first half of the book. It took a while for me to even feel slightly connected to Salvador even though this was a first person narrative and we were literally in his head the whole time, but by the 60-70% mark it started to get a little better. Honestly, it took up until that point for something to finally “break” in the narrative and actually start to flow.
I’m not sure I liked the way Spanish was integrated into this. There were a lot of phrases in Spanish immediately followed by an English translation in some form. Not a context clue, just a direct translation. It would happen in dialogue quite often, especially in the first quarter of the book, and it was like people just repeating themselves. In real life, conversation doesn’t typically go that way. It also felt jarring when certain words were just randomly thrown into the middle of sentences. There was no rhyme or reason to it.
I definitely appreciated the fact that this was a story you don’t really see being told realistically in romance. From what I’ve read previously, those gang/mafia romances typically skim over the seedier aspects and never really take on the actual horror that comes along with that kind of life. While this didn’t go into massive detail, it was certainly better at showing the reality of it than others.
So yeah, I’d say I enjoyed it, even though the first 50% of the book was way too slow and there were certain little things that irked me. I still got that happy ending I wanted.
3. Blood Witch by Susan Dennard
Fans of Susan Dennard’s Witchlands series have fallen in love with the Bloodwitch Aeduan. And now, finally, comes his story.
High in a snowy mountain range, a monastery that holds more than just faith clings to the side of a cliff. Below, thwarted by a lake, a bloodthirsty horde of raiders await the coming of winter and the frozen path to destroy the sanctuary and its secrets.
The Bloodwitch Aeduan has teamed up with the Threadwitch Iseult and the magical girl Owl to stop the destruction. But to do so, he must confront his own father, and his past.
4 out of 5 stars
This was MUCH better than book 2. While book 2 felt super transitional (which is understandable, sometimes you gotta take time to build) this one was way more action packed and compelling. It served to remind me of how much I like Dennard’s writing, and now I’m super excited for book 4 (but that means waiting until 2021, wahhh). Also Owl is my child and I love her (and Blueberry).
4. The Glittering Court by Richelle Mead
Big and sweeping, spanning from the refined palaces of Osfrid to the gold dust and untamed forests of Adoria, The Glittering Court tells the story of Adelaide, an Osfridian countess who poses as her servant to escape an arranged marriage and start a new life in Adoria, the New World. But to do that, she must join the Glittering Court.
Both a school and a business venture, the Glittering Court is designed to transform impoverished girls into upper-class ladies who appear destined for powerful and wealthy marriages in the New World. Adelaide naturally excels in her training, and even makes a few friends: the fiery former laundress Tamsin and the beautiful Sirminican refugee Mira. She manages to keep her true identity hidden from all but one: the intriguing Cedric Thorn, son of the wealthy proprietor of the Glittering Court.
When Adelaide discovers that Cedric is hiding a dangerous secret of his own, together they hatch a scheme to make the best of Adelaide’s deception. Complications soon arise—first as they cross the treacherous seas from Osfrid to Adoria, and then when Adelaide catches the attention of a powerful governor.
But no complication will prove quite as daunting as the potent attraction simmering between Adelaide and Cedric. An attraction that, if acted on, would scandalize the Glittering Court and make them both outcasts in wild, vastly uncharted lands…
1.5 out of 5 stars
This was so boring. Tedious. Weirdly pro-colonization. Just a bad retelling of the origins of America. It was like a worse The Selection…… which is saying something, because I didn’t like the Selection. Can’t wait to pawn this one off on my local library.
5. Glitter by Aprilynne Pike
Outside the palace of Versailles, it’s modern day. Inside, the people dress, eat, and act like it’s the eighteenth century—with the added bonus of technology to make court life lavish, privileged, and frivolous. The palace has every indulgence, but for one pretty young thing, it’s about to become a very beautiful prison.
When Danica witnesses an act of murder by the young king, her mother makes a cruel power play . . . blackmailing the king into making Dani his queen. When she turns eighteen, Dani will marry the most ruthless and dangerous man of the court. She has six months to escape her terrifying destiny. Six months to raise enough money to disappear into the real world beyond the palace gates.
Her ticket out? Glitter. A drug so powerful that a tiny pinch mixed into a pot of rouge or lip gloss can make the wearer hopelessly addicted. Addicted to a drug Dani can sell for more money than she ever dreamed.
But in Versailles, secrets are impossible to keep. And the most dangerous secret—falling for a drug dealer outside the palace walls—is one risk she has to take.
2 out of 5 stars
I wanted to like this. I really did. The blurb sounded pretty interesting and I love the aesthetic of eighteenth century Versailles, but this just… wasn’t it. Was it a decent story? Eh, sure. But something about this was just sort of boring. Also the FMC. Girl. Your life is not worth getting a bunch of people hooked on drugs without their consent. What the f*ck.
It was also pretty annoying how this writer could never seem to get royal titles right. Literally on the same page the King is referred to as both His Highness, His Royal Highness, and His Majesty. Last I checked, those were all very different.
So yeah, this was just okay. I won’t be reading the next book in the series, even though this was left on a cliffhanger.
6. The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton
“Gosford Park” meets “Groundhog Day” by way of Agatha Christie – the most inventive story you’ll read this year.
Tonight, Evelyn Hardcastle will be killed… again.
It is meant to be a celebration but it ends in tragedy. As fireworks explode overhead, Evelyn Hardcastle, the young and beautiful daughter of the house, is killed.
But Evelyn will not die just once. Until Aiden – one of the guests summoned to Blackheath for the party – can solve her murder, the day will repeat itself, over and over again. Every time ending with the fateful pistol shot.
The only way to break this cycle is to identify the killer. But each time the day begins again, Aiden wakes in the body of a different guest. And someone is determined to prevent him ever escaping Blackheath…
2 out of 5 stars
Huh. Okay. This one took me a little while to get into, but it eventually (and very slowly) managed to hook me. I was invested enough—well, at least for a while. That said, it took me FOREVER to finish. There was a lot of “get to the pooooooint!!!!” from me throughout this, up until it just wasn’t all that enjoyable of a book anymore. Yes, I finished it, but it was more of a “thank god, finally” kind of thing than me happily turning to the last page, content with the story I read.
7. The Royal Runaway by Lindsay Emory
Princess Theodora Isabella Victoria of Drieden of the Royal House Laurent is so over this princess thing.
After her fiancé jilted her on their wedding day, she’s finally back home after spending four months in exile—aka it’s back to press conferences, public appearances, and putting on a show for the Driedish nation as the perfect princess they expect her to be. But Thea’s sick of duty. After all, that’s what got her into this mess in the first place.
So when she sneaks out of the palace and meets a sexy Scot named Nick in a local bar, she relishes the chance to be a normal woman for a change. But just as she thinks she’s found her Prince Charming for the night, he reveals his intentions are less than honorable: he’s the brother of her former fiancé, a British spy, and he’s not above blackmail. As Thea reluctantly joins forces with Nick to find out what happened the day her fiancé disappeared, together they discover a secret that could destroy a centuries-old monarchy and change life as they know it.
Funny, fast-paced, and full of more twists and turns than the castle Thea lives in, The Royal Runaway is a fresh romantic comedy that will leave you cheering for the modern-day royal who chucks the rulebook aside to create her own happily-ever-after.
3.5 out of 5 stars
Okay, now THIS is what I’m talking about when it comes to the creation of fictional countries and the monarchies that rule them. Just the sheer HISTORY and BACKGROUND that Emory managed to invent and manage to make it feel REAL was wonderful. Spectacular, even. If I was just rating this book based on that, it would have been a 5 out of 5 for me.
Alas, I’m not, and the rest of it fell short for me. I enjoyed the mystery, but the characters were all just sort of flat. I wanted more, and every time I thought we were going to get it, the author pulled back. A little disappointing on that front, but still an entertaining read nonetheless. Better than a lot of the stuff I’ve read lately tbh.
8. On The Edge by Allison van Diepen
From Allison van Diepen, author of Snitch and Street Pharm, comes a sexy, dangerous novel about a teen who witnesses a murder and gets caught up in the seedy world of Miami’s gangs.
Maddie Diaz never should have taken that shortcut through the park. If she hadn’t, she wouldn’t have seen two members of the Reyes gang attacking a homeless man. Now, as the only witness, she knows there’s a target on her back.
But when the Reyes jump her on the street, Maddie is protected by a second gang and their secretive leader, Lobo, who is determined to take down the Reyes himself. Lobo is mysterious and passionate, and Maddie begins to fall for him. But when they live this close to the edge, can their love survive?
3.5 out of 5 stars
I’ve been watching a lot of gang-related TV shows lately, so when I saw this sitting on my shelf, I figured I might as well finally read it and keep with the theme.
This was definitely a little grittier than I was expecting, but I appreciate that it touched on so many important topic. Of course, this was still YA, and it definitely read as such—which isn’t a bad thing. Everything was presented in a way that would be easy for teens to take in, even the ugly parts (like the reality of what gangs and cartels really do). Not to mention a decent dose of romance, which did feel a little insta-love-ish, but I was willing to overlook that. A quick, interesting read nonetheless.
9. Just Friends by Tiffany Pitcock
A new spin on the classic smart-girl-and-bad-boy setup, this witty contemporary romance shows how easily a friendship – even one built on an elaborate lie – can become so much more.
Jenny meets Chance for the very first time when she is assigned as his partner in their Junior Oral Communications class. But after they rescue a doomed assignment with one clever lie, the whole school is suddenly convinced that Little-Miss-Really-Likes-Having-A’s and the most scandalous heartbreaker in school have been best friends forever. It’s amazing how quickly a lie can grow―especially when you really, really want it to be the truth.
With Jenny, Chance can live the normal life he’s always kind of wanted. And with Chance, Jenny can have the exciting teen experiences that TV shows and movies have always promised. Through it all, they hold on to the fact that they are “just friends.” But that might be the biggest lie of all.
1.5 out of 5 stars
Oof. Oof. This was one big cringe-fest from page one. The writing was SO stilted, the characters were cardboard cut-outs, the POVs didn’t work (I could barely tell them apart), and it seemed like the editing was non-existent. So boring, so unnecessarily long, so disappointing.
10. They All Fall Down by Roxanne St. Claire
Every year, the lives of ten girls at Vienna High are transformed.
All because of the list.
Kenzie Summerall can’t imagine how she’s been voted onto a list of the hottest girls in school, but when she lands at number five, her average life becomes dazzling. Doors open to the best parties, new friends surround her, the cutest jock in school is after her.
This is the power of the list. If you’re on it, your life changes.
If you’re on it this year? Your life ends.
The girls on the list have started to die, one by one. Is it a coincidence? A curse? Or is the list in the hands of a killer?
Time is running out for Kenzie, but she’s determined to uncover the deadly secret of the list…before her number’s up.
3 out of 5 stars
This was such a weird concept and I… don’t know if it was pulled off in the best way. Honestly, it was pretty ridiculous. Fun, yes, but something about the tone of the writing didn’t match what was actually going on in the story. It was kind of jarring at times. So yeah, this was entertaining, and even hard to put down at times (mystery does that to me) but there was something just off about it that kept me from enjoying it more and rating it higher.
I have to say, I didn’t really love most of the books I read over the past two months, which is pretty disappointing. Considering I’m probably going to be stuck in the house for all of April (livin’ that lock-down life) I’m really hoping I find something good to read that will distract me from everything going on in the world right now.
Did you read anything good this month? Any suggestions for me? Let me know in the comments!