Review Archive

I’ve been a book reviewer over at All About Romance for over a year now. The following are the reviews I’ve contributed.

Grade Title Author Book Type Sensuality Published Reviewed Reviewer
D- Straddling the Line Jaci Burton Contemp Hot 07/2014 07/28/2014 Haley
A- Suddenly Last Summer Sarah Morgan Contemp Warm 07/2014 06/27/2014 Haley
C Hope Ignites Jaci Burton Contemp Hot 04/2014 06/26/2014 Haley
C- Shadow Spell Nora Roberts Contemp Warm 04/2014 05/12/2014 Haley
C Teach Me A Lesson Jasmine Haynes Ero Rom Burning 04/2014 04/16/2014 Haley
C+ The Wife He Always Wanted Cheryl Ann Smith Eur Hist Warm 09/2013 03/27/2014 Haley
C+ Melting the Ice Jaci Burton Contemp Burning 02/2014 03/19/2014 Haley
D- The Pirate Bride Sandra Hill Viking Hot 12/2013 03/14/2014 Haley
C The House on Main Street Shirlee McCoy Contemp Kisses 11/2013 03/12/2014 Haley
B- Wildest Dreams Toni Blake Contemp Hot 12/2013 01/24/2014 Haley
D Candlelight Christmas Susan Wiggs Contemp Kisses 11/2013 01/08/2014 Haley
B+ Searching for Someday Jennifer Probst Contemp Hot 11/2013 12/23/2013 Haley
C Hope Flames Jaci Burton Contemp Hot 01/2014 12/16/2013 Haley
A Finding It Cora Carmack New Adult Subtle 10/2013 12/04/2013 Haley
B+ Sleigh Bells in the Snow Sarah Morgan Contemp Warm 11/2013 11/25/2013 Haley
C- A Song at Twilight Pamela Sherwood Eur Hist Subtle 10/2013 11/21/2013 Haley
A- The Naughty Corner Jasmine Haynes Ero Rom Burning 10/2013 11/01/2013 Haley
C+ Dark Witch Nora Roberts Paranormal Warm 11/2013 10/28/2013 Haley
F My Favorite Mistake Chelsea M. Cameron New Adult Warm 2013 09/27/2013 Haley
C+ Lost to the Desert Warrior Sarah Morgan Series Hot 09/2013 09/11/2013 Haley
Grade Title Author Book Type Sensuality Published Reviewed Reviewer
C I Only Have Eyes for You Bella Andre Contemp Hot 09/2013 08/26/2013 Haley
B The Marriage Merger Jennifer Probst Contemp Hot 08/2013 08/19/2013 Haley
B To Sin With a Viking Michelle Willingham Viking Hot 08/2013 08/06/2013 Haley
C- Honey Pie Donna Kauffman Contemp Warm 05/2013 07/25/2013 Haley
C Three Little Words Susan Mallery Contemp Hot 08/2013 07/22/2013 Haley
B+ Siege and Storm Leigh Bardugo YA Subtle 06/2013 07/12/2013 Haley
A Carolina Girl Virigina Kantra Contemp Warm 06/2013 07/01/2013 Haley
C+ Nautier and Wilder Anthology Rom Susp Hot 04/2013 06/20/2013 Haley
B The Look of Love Bella Andre Contemp Hot 06/2013 06/14/2013 Haley
D A Witch’s Handbook of Kisses and
Curses
Molly Harper Paranormal Subtle 06/2013 05/24/2013 Haley
B+ Half Moon Hill Toni Blake Contemp Hot 05/2013 05/17/2013 Haley
C+ True Erin McCarthy Contemp Warm 05/2013 05/09/2013 Haley

Terrible, Terrible Book

My Favorite Mistake (My Favorite Mistake, #1)My Favorite Mistake by Chelsea M. Cameron
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

My Favorite Mistake
Chelsea M. Cameron
September 2013 (revised edition)
Contemporary
Harlequin HQN
$11.95
400 pages
ISBN 10 – 0373778295
Part of a series
Grade: F
Sensuality: Warm

I can describe the plot of all New Adult novels to you in one paragraph. Tattooed bad boy meets virginal college girl. There is sexual tension during all of their highly contrived run-ins but each of their troubled pasts keep them apart. Their otherwise pointless friends push them together until they give in, do the deed, and decide to be together forever. The end. There, now I have saved you from reading this terribly written, derivative book. You’re welcome.

I wish I were exaggerating in that description of the New Adult genre, but I’m really not. Granted, some of the books handle this very cliché plot better than others. While I personally despised Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire and True by Erin McCarthy, I enjoyed both of Cora Carmack’s books. Sadly, My Favorite Mistake begins so much like Beautiful Disaster that there was no real hope for it.

The award for the least likeable female lead in a book I’ve read this year goes to Taylor. She is bratty, rude, and constantly insults people. How such an unpleasant person manages to have friends at all is beyond me. The first time she meets Hunter she punches with pretty much no provocation. Cameron tries to play it off like this is some sign that she’s a tough chick who takes care of herself, but really she is just awful. Of course, she’s a virgin who has pretty much never had a boyfriend or any sexual involvement with anyone. Her cold, obnoxious personality is supposed to be explained by an incident that happened in her past, an incident that the author takes probably 300 pages to reveal. So we get the majority of the book listening to Taylor attack Hunter for no good reason.

Meet Hunter, the bad boy who talks only in sexual innuendos yet never manages to be sexy. Despite Taylor constantly insulting him, I never really saw what was supposed to be wrong with Hunter. He comes off kind of obnoxious with all the poorly written double entendres, but other than that he’s an okay guy. Well, actually he’s a tremendous guy in most ways. He’s a super genius who never studies, he can cook like a world-class chef, knows how to play virtually any song every written on the guitar by command, sings like an angel, gives multiple orgasms, and is filthy rich. Yet, in spite of all these characteristics, he still isn’t impressive or interesting as a romantic lead. I felt like the author was trying too hard to make us like him. Don’t even get me started on his song writing. I am not a big fan of song lyrics being thrown into a book, but if it is a couple lines from a popular song I can forgive it. When there are whole pages of original song writing from the author, it makes me cringe. Cameron may have not realized that the reader has no clue what the melody to the song is and thus and whole page of a song reads like awkward, elementary school poetry.

The premise, oh my, the premise. This may be the most unlikely set up for a romance I have ever encountered in a contemporary romance. Basically, Hunter is assigned to be the fourth roommate to Taylor and her two female friends and actually has to share a room with Taylor. I do not think there is a university out there that permits housing that randomly assigns guys and girls to sleep a few feet apart and then specifically denies the girl’s request to change because the guy hasn’t sexually harassed her. Seriously, there has to have been some better method of having these two around each other that Cameron could’ve come up with if she had thought about it for more than a minute. Also, Hunter agrees to leave if Taylor can either convince him that she loves or hates him. What? What does that have to do with anything? Taylor actually takes him up on this offer like it is somehow a legitimate agreement between two people rather than blathering nonsense to set up the love/hate relationship.

The only thing that actually keeps these two apart is each of their big secrets . These secrets are so big and so secretive, that they need to be mentioned constantly. Seriously, they’re secrets and they’re big, and they can’t be revealed until you’ve trudged your way through hundreds and hundreds of pages about cooking meals and hanging out with friends. By the time Cameron finally got around to the big reveal, I hated both characters so much I could not have cared less what happened to them.

As with all New Adult books, our leads have to have a couple totally pointless friends and roommates hanging around to drink with that will constantly say how the two main characters should end up together. Taylor’s friends were so forgettable that I couldn’t even tell you their names. They were void of any definable traits or character development. The only purpose of having them around was to frequently state how Taylor should date Hunter, to give sex advice, and to do stupid things like buy sombreros for the taco dinner Hunter is fixing.

While I could probably go on for ten more paragraphs about the things I couldn’t stand about this book (the terrible nicknames, confusing storylines, uneven characterization, consistently poor writing), I’ll mention one last pet peeve. While I am someone who uses really salty language in day-to-day life, and have no problem with it in TV or movies, there was too much in this book. I think that, if an author is going to have a character swear, they are making a really deliberate choice. Cuss words just have so much more of an impact in writing. Cameron’s characters swear constantly, as if she as just trying to force the idea that they’re college kids. While it may be realistic speech, it reads awkwardly. Plus, when they weren’t swearing, the dialogue is really silly. They dichotomy didn’t work. When your character drops the f-bomb constantly but also says “making whoopee”, “man parts”, “down there”, and even made up words like “gi-huge-ic”, they sound like an idiot.

The version I read, that has just been rereleased, is considered to be a revised version of the original book that was released in 2012. This one was so terrible I would hate to experience what it was like before revisions. If you are interested in the New Adult genre, I would recommend trying Losing It or Faking It by Cora Carmack. Just avoid this book. It is so not worth the time it takes to read all 400 pages. There is no need to waste your time on absolute drivel.

Review written for www.likesbooks.com

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You’re the One That I Want

I wanted to share some recommended summer reading. These are books I have read and enjoyed and, although they’re good for all times of the year, summer is as good a time as any to read them.

Must Have Summer Reads:

One of my favorite, sweet romances. The Irish setting is just lovely.

 

A fresh, original version of a classic tale. Plus I met the author and she was a sweetheart

Typically considered an all-time favorite romance by many. Cute story that I read on vacation a few years ago.

Tear jerker. Seriously.

1920’s New Orleans, feminism, ghosts, and a timeless love story.

Southern-fried magical realism. One of my all time favorites

Recently read this and loved it so much I started gathering up the author’s backlist.

I want to crawl inside this book and live there. Prague makes for such a fantastic setting.

Class Orientation

I just wanted to say that I’ll be doing the Summer Lovin’ Read-a-Thon from Read-a-Thon Central and Reviewing Wonderland (which has the most gorgeous blog design, so jealous).

The Read-a-Thon runs July1-7. I’m just starting today so my goal is going to be a little less than some.

Goals:

Finish Honey Pie by Donna Kauffman and Lips Touch: Three Times by Laini Taylor.

Make significant progress on Daily Life of the Pagan Celts and Priestess of the Forest.

Things I’m Obsessed With Right Now

1. The Mindy Project. 

I am all about this show right now. Danny and Mindy are my favorite TV non-couple since the days before Jim and Pam got together on The Office. My coworker and I loved the last episode so much we relived it about five times at work today.

2. Erin McCarthy Novels

McCarthy is one of my favorite romance novelists. I have read a lot of her work but recently I’ve been going back to see what of her old books I haven’t read yet. She writes funny, sweet, sexy romance. Fantastic!

3. Chocolate! 

There are no words for how much I have been craving chocolate lately. Thank goodness for Skinny Cow.

4. My Squishy-Soft Brooks Farm Yarn

I started a bias knit shawl from some of the yarn I got at DFW Fiber Fest. I haven’t posted a picture of the yarn yet but it is this soft, variegated pink that makes me think of Mentos Fruit Chews. I’ll post a picture of the shawl-in-progress soon.

5. Game of Thrones Memes

Not the show or books themselves, specifically memes. I’ve watched every episode of Game of Thrones but I can’t seem to get into it. I’m not big on high fantasy, so I think that’s the issue. I really want to like it though, so I keep forcing myself to watch. What I do love, are the silly memes that come out.

Houston, We Have a Problem by Erin McCarthy

Houston, We Have A ProblemHouston, We Have A Problem by Erin McCarthy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve been watching The Mindy Project lately and I’m totally crushing on the character of Danny Castellano. So reading a book about a stoic, sexy doctor made me think of him. I couldn’t help picturing Danny as Dr. Houston Hayes from this novel. With that said, I really loved this story. It was short, sweet, and sexy; exactly what you expect from Erin McCarthy. The storyline was really cute and I liked both main characters. McCarthy has a skill for writing romance that is both sexy and funny – like this one.

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True by Erin McCarthy

TrueTrue by Erin McCarthy

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Rory Macintosh and Tyler Mann are opposites; she’s the awkward, premed student who wants to be a coroner and he’s the tattooed, bad boy. When they meet through Rory’s roommate, opposites attract.
Tyler takes in interest in Rory after he rescues her from the groping hands of their druggie friend, and learns that Rory is a virgin. From there, he seems to deem himself her protector, even showing up at her place the next day to help nurse her through her hangover. His interest in her continues when they decide to help tutor each other and, eventually, their romance starts to blossom.
This story started strong. I liked tough-guy Tyler coming to Rory’s rescue and her learning that he has a heart of gold. Tyler comes from a terrible home life that is the total opposite of Rory’s. His mother is a drug addict that is cruel to her children and Rory steps in to help out with Tyler’s younger brothers. Seeing Tyler practically raising his siblings, one of which has Down’s Syndrome, was probably the best part of the book.
Sadly, that is where things fell off. I found the secondary characters, Rory’s roommates Kylie and Jessica, annoying. I think they were drunk or high in every single scene. In fact, Rory meets Tyler because he is sleeping with Jessica. Both girls came off as ditzy and promiscuous and I couldn’t understand why Rory hung around with them when she had been described so differently. Additionally, the girls mention at one point that they paid Tyler to take Rory’s virginity. This plot point was a non-starter. Rory is briefly sad and avoids Tyler for a few days, then she goes on like normal and all is completely forgiven after Tyler quickly says sorry.
The book is written in very short scenes and frequently changes location and time. It was surprisingly bothersome because you never got much substance in a given scene before the book moved on. The middle of the book drags on with repetitive scenes of Tyler and Rory hanging out, people partying, and most males in the book acting brutish.
The conflict of the book revolved around Rory’s father disapproving of the relationship and legal trouble with Tyler’s mom. Neither point was very fleshed out and they were resolved very quickly. The ending of the book was very abrupt and seemed to attempt to quickly tie off the loose ends. It ended up feeling very unsatisfactory.
Possibly the most refreshing thing about this story was the age of the characters. Rory and Tyler are college students and are 20 and 22, respectively. After the first chapter, I almost expected the story to jump ahead ten years because it is so rare to have such young leads in a contemporary romance.
I think that True had a lot of potential, but fell short. There wasn’t enough believable conflict to carry the middle of the story and a lot of the references to Tyler’s prior promiscuity, with Rory’s best friend even, made him a lot less likeable. This was a disappointing read from Erin McCarthy who, otherwise, is a fantastic addition to the romance genre.
Advanced copy provided by Penguin Group through NetGalley.

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