18.4.18

Review: Blood & Lace by Trinity Scott



Blood & Lace (A Dark Net Novel, #1) by Trinity Scott
Release Date: March 26, 2018
Publisher: Pocket Star
Genre: Adult, Romance
Source: ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review
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A Boston crime reporter teams up with a hot FBI agent to find her missing sister but the closer they work together, the harder it becomes to keep their relationship strictly professional in this steamy and suspenseful romance.

Chloe Sterling needs a break. A relentless crime reporter for The Boston Times, she’s dedicated her entire life to the pursuit of the truth no matter the cost. But when she gets suspended for bending the rules one time too many, she decides to take a much-needed vacation and visit her twin sister Eden in Los Angeles.

But when Chloe arrives and finds her sister missing, her reporter’s intuition kicks in. Although local law enforcement believes she’s run off with an ex-boyfriend, Chloe knows better: something is seriously wrong and if the cops aren’t going to find Eden, Chloe’s going to do it herself.

That’s when Special Agent Gage Pierce steps in.

A programmer who singlehandedly stopped the largest human trafficking ring known to date, Gage’s expertise is just what Chloe needs to track down her sister. But since he plays the strong and silent type, Chloe finds herself putting just as much effort into cracking him as she does into cracking the case. As the two work together and get closer to finding Eden, their feelings for each other intensify. With the clock ticking and time running out, will Chloe and Gage be able to rescue Eden in time and also continue their blossoming affair? Or is it lights out forever?

Review:

I've been dying to read Blood & Lace ever since I read the synopsis. It was giving me major Criminal Minds vibes, and that's something I can never resist. 

The result? Intense, dark, and romantic, Blood & Lace delivered the exciting thriller I had anticipated. 

What I Liked: 

1. The Mystery - As soon as Chloe arrives in LA, you can tell that something is amiss. There's a definite chill in the air, a sense of eeriness that quickly envelopes you. Chloe soon discovers that her sister is missing and she knows deep down it's not by choice. There had to have been foul play, there's no question about it. The only problem? No one will believe her. Trinity delivered a twisty, heart stopping mystery here. There were so many times that I thought I had everything figured out only to be proven wrong. I also enjoyed that we were in the dark just as much as Chloe was. She had no idea what her sister had been up to - that she had been turning to work outside of modeling - so to uncover those clues and secrets right along with her was exciting to say the least. 

2. The Romance - There's attraction in the air as soon Chloe and Gage meet; however, both know that it isn't the time or the place for it. I enjoyed the will-they-or-won't they aspect of their relationship. There were so many times I thought they would finally give in, finally take that one last step; however, even though it took some time and a heck of a lot frustration on their part, I enjoyed the build up. I liked seeing them swift from unlikely partners to friends to something more. It added an extra layer to their relationship. 

3. The Number of Suspects - It seemed like everywhere Chloe and Gage turned their was a new shady person to be found. I found the suspects to be interesting. For instance, the promiscuous photographer? Did he truly have a quick, no-feelings-hurt fling with Chloe's sister? Or was there more drama to be found? Or the producer...he seemed to have a motive as well. 

4. The Characters - Chloe and Gage were easy to like. Chloe was calm and cautious yet she had an intense amount of determination to her. My heart broke for her the longer her sister went missing. You could tell it was eating her up, especially knowing that there had to be foul play involved, and I also liked that Trinity took us through the many emotions of a loved one's disappearance. The dread, the questioning, the regret - all were expressed and greatly added to the narrative. Gage, on the other hand, is the reluctant good guy. He knows he should help Chloe, but he also feels that getting too close to her will cause him nothing but trouble. I loved how protective he was of Chloe, but I also liked that he gave her space, allowing her to make her own choices as long as they weren't too dangerous. 

What I Didn't Like 

1. Mixed Pacing - Occasionally this book lost its steam. It would be going good for a while, and then suddenly, it would become slightly boring. Usually, it recovered quickly, but there were certain times where I came close to losing interest. 

2. The Ending - There was A LOT going on in that last chapter. I knew that it was setting up for the next book, but at the same time I was wishing it would slow down a little bit. There wasn't a lot of time to process one big revelation before the next one was dropped. 

Overall, Blood & Lace is perfect for fans of romantic suspense. I look forward to seeing what Trinity has in store for us next. 

3.5 stars!! 

16.4.18

Review: Zombie Abbey by Lauren Baratz-Logsted


Zombie Abbey by Lauren Baratz-Logsted
Release Date: April 3, 2018
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Genre: Young Adult, Historical
Source: ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review
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1920, England

And the three teenage Clarke sisters thought what they'd wear to dinner was their biggest problem…

Lady Kate, the entitled eldest.
Lady Grace, lost in the middle and wishing she were braver.
Lady Lizzy, so endlessly sunny, it's easy to underestimate her.

Then there's Will Harvey, the proud, to-die-for―and possibly die with!―stable boy; Daniel Murray, the resourceful second footman with a secret; Raymond Allen, the unfortunate-looking young duke; and Fanny Rogers, the unsinkable kitchen maid.

Upstairs! Downstairs! Toss in some farmers and villagers!

None of them ever expected to work together for any reason.

But none of them had ever seen anything like this.

Review:

Lauren Baratz-Logsted's books are typically very hit-or-miss for me. Sometimes I enjoy them while other times they simple aren't my cup of tea. I couldn't resist Zombie Abbey, however, as I wanted to see what a zombie flavored Downtown Abbey book would be like. 

As it turns out, I was pleasantly surprised. It was a quirky read, relying on early dramatics, humor, and zombie gore to drive the story forward. 

Zombie Abbey contains a surplus of perspectives - the sisters, the suitors, the staff, even the animals! It was interesting, and it tended to keep me on my toes. I never was quite sure who was going to be next! Some characters I liked better than others. The sisters, for instance, were an incredibly mixed bag. Kate, the eldest, was insufferable in most respects. I couldn't believe how selfish as well as entitled she acted, but I did enjoy seeing what would come out of her mouth next - it kept becoming more and more outlandish! Grace, the middle child, was my second favorite character. She was the complete opposite of Kate - kind and selfless. I enjoyed seeing her unexpected friendship with one of Kate's suitors unfold. Lizzy, the youngest, was by far my favorite. In some ways, she's the black sheep of her family - no one truly understands her and they also underestimate her. However, as the book progresses, she becomes the unexpected hero. I loved seeing her take on a bigger role, and I was cheering her on the whole way - I wanted her to prove her family (especially Kate!) wrong. The male suitors also provided laughs as well as heart. I appreciated how different they were. Also, Will Harvey? I. LOVED. him. 

The plot in this reminded me slightly of Scary Movie. People keep dying and/or disappearing, but no one really wanted to take it seriously.  They were too worried about their own lives! The Clarke family chalks it up to the villagers overacting - how can someone who is dead possibly come back to life? However, as the novel continues and the zombies get closer, the Clark family and their guests start to see just how serious it is. There were so many times at which I wanted to yell "Take it more seriously, it's not a joke," as I couldn't believe they just didn't have a care in the world, continuing on with their parties and hunting even though multiple people were missing. It was nutty!I also appreciated that no one was ever "safe;" there were some exciting twists that happened as the death total kept rising. I liked the little romances that popped up. None were incredibly well developed, but they still added a fun, romantic quality to the book. 

Now for the few problems I had with Zombie Abbey. For one, I wish it was more developed. I had so many questions about the zombies, the unexpected cousin, etc. I wanted to know where the zombies had originated from and whether or not they were only in their area or others. Secondly, the transitions between POVs was sometimes choppy. A couple of times it took me a few seconds to realize who was talking, because it jumped so quickly. Last, I wish the ending had more resolution. In some respects, I did think it fit the story well, but as someone who loves resolution, I wish there had been more to it. 

Regardless, Zombie Abbey is an eccentric little book. I'll be honest: it's not going to be for everyone; however, I think it will find its place with readers who love an interesting take on historical fiction (think My Lady Jane). 

3.5 stars!! 

14.4.18

Review: As She Fades by Abbi Glines


As She Fades by Abbi Glines
Release Date: April 3, 2018 
Publisher:  Feiwel & Friends
Genre: YA, Contemporary 
Source: ARC provided by publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review
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From the #1 New York Times- and USA Today-bestselling author of the Rosemary Beach and The Vincent Boys series, Abbi Glines delivers another smoldering, compulsively readable YA romance with As She Fades.

On the night of her high school graduation, Vale McKinley and her boyfriend Crawford are in a terrible car accident that leaves Crawford in a coma. They were supposed to spend the summer planning for college, for a bright future full of possibility. Together. Instead, Vale spends long days in the hospital, hoping Crawford will awaken.

Slate Allen, a college friend of Vale’s brother, has been visiting his dying uncle at the same hospital. When he and Vale meet, she can’t deny the flutter of an illicit attraction. She tries to ignore her feelings, but she's not immune to Slate's charm. Slowly, they form a cautious friendship.

Then, Crawford wakes up . . . with no memory of Vale or their relationship. Heartbroken, Vale opts to leave for college and move on with her life. Except now, she’s in Slate’s territory, and their story is about to take a very strange turn.

Glines’ millions of fans will adore As She Fades, a novel as romantic as it is full of twists and unexpected turns.

Review:

Abbi Glines is one of my guilty pleasure authors. Her books are fun, fast paced, and incredibly romantic, and I devour them as quickly as I would a box of my favorite chocolates. Her Rosemary Beach series is actually one of the only series I've read from start-to-finish. Therefore, when my wish for As She Fades, Abbi's latest YA, was granted on Netgalley, I was beyond excited. It was the best pre-Valentine's gift ever, and despite the April release date I dove right in.

The verdict? I'm torn. On one side, I did enjoy As She Fades. It was sweet as well as romantic, and I enjoyed following the characters on their journey. On the other side, however, it wasn't nearly as attention grabbing or well done as Abbi's Sea Breeze or Rosemary Beach series. The romance wasn't nearly as swoony and the hero wasn't as drool-worthy as past ones.

I liked Vale. She's a quiet, go-with-the-flow kind of girl. She's sweet, passionate, and caring, especially when it comes to taking care of Crawford. Not many people would sit by a loved one's bedside day after day with no progress, but Val never wavers. I felt that showed how selfless she was; however, at the same time, I could understand why her parents and brothers weren't the happiest about it. Yes, she should be able to grieve and visit, but she shouldn't put her life on hold, especially when she was given a second chance. Over the course of the book, I hoped she would give in to her family's wishes. I also enjoyed seeing Vale's bounds with her brothers. They added an extra layer to the book. 

Now for the two love interests: Crawford and Slate. 

I'll admit it: I never liked Crawford all that much. There was something about him that just didn't sit right for me from the get-go. From Vale's memories he seemed very controlling as well as selfish, and some parts of me couldn't quite understand why Vale would be so willing to give up her life to be by his side. I think in some ways their relationship was based more on convenience and routine than on deep love and commitment. Plus it was easy to see how that romance was going to end as soon as Slate entered the picture. Both of which affected my overall feelings toward the book and its plot. Don't get me wrong, I give Vale props for helping and being there but how could I be 100% behind her choices and decisions when the big "love" wasn't all that likable or even believable? 

Slate, on the other hand, I did like. He's the typical Glines hero - a bad boy on the path to redemption. He's had a questionable past, especially when it comes to his girls. However, he also has a surprisingly soft side. His relationship with his uncle warmed my heart and broke it all at the same time, and I liked how he was with Vale - so willing to be there for her but also not being scared to voice his opinions, no matter how unpopular they may be. My only problem here? I could never truly feel the spark between him and Vale. Yes, I liked them together, but their romance never came to life. I wanted more of a Rush & Blair feel here. 

The plot in As She Fades builds slowly. The first chunk mainly focuses on Vale's visits to the hospital, and in some respects that got old fast. I wanted more action. The middle part brought more action and adventure. I enjoyed the college setting as well as seeing Vale thrive in a new setting. Then came the twist. I won't go too deep into it, because I don't want to spoil anything. I will say, though, that I could see it coming so when it finally did I wasn't all that surprised. Additionally, I felt like it once again altered the pace. Suddenly, things slowed down, and what bothered me the most was all that development and growth that occurs was seemingly gone. It made me wonder what the point was. 

Last but not least: the writing. There was so much telling rather than showing, and it drove me slightly crazy at times. Some of the scenes, especially at the beginning were tough to get through. It was very I did this, then I did that, and then I felt that. 

Overall, As She Fades is a solid three star read. As a long-term fan of Glines, I'm glad I gave it a try. There are some redeeming qualities. However, for readers who haven't read anything by Glines before, I would suggest reading The Vincent Boys, Rosemary Beach or Sea Breeze series instead.  I feel that they're stronger books. 


3 stars!!
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