I’ve been waiting for literally years for both The Boy Most Likely To and Lair of Dreams to come out.  I can’t believe that they’re coming out within a week of each other… finally!  I’m going to be in Scotland when Lair of Dreams comes out, and I’m actually debating having it shipped to my hotel, or just adventuring out to the nearest bookstore to buy it while I’m there.  Would that make me a crazy bookaholic?

As for Never Always Sometimes, I’ve seen a lot of advance praise for it, and even though it’s hard to trust that, I am looking forward to its release.  Will I buy it on its release date?  Probably not, but I do hope to read it soon.

What books are you looking forward to in August?

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It’s the end of an era.  Lily and Lo’s era, to be specific.  After five books and over 2000 pages, their story is complete.

I’m going to be honest here for a second and say that, of all the couples that the Ritchie sisters have created, Lily and Lo are my least favorite.  Their relationship is just so intense, and their codependency is just so unhealthy that it’s almost exhausting to read about them.  But, despite this, I was really just hoping for them to make some progress.  To get their happily ever after.

Did it happen?  It’s hard to say.

While sobriety is still a daily struggle for Lo, it’s no longer going to break him.  Though he was terrified to have children, afraid that he would irreparably harm his offspring, fatherhood seems to agree with him.  He’s come a long way from the guy we met in Addicted to You.  Lily, on the other hand, seems to have taken a step back from her previous progress.  Of course, her child is her number one priority, but she’s still compulsive, still insatiable, still absolutely addicted.  I just wish she’d been able to make as much progress as Lo.

I really wanted to love this book, as I’ve loved so many of the books revolving around the Calloway sisters, but honestly, it felt a little drawn out to me.  So much happened in Addicted to You, Ricochet, and Addicted for Now that I expected the same for the rest of the series.  I was disappointed with Thrive, and now I’m disappointed with Addicted After All.  I mean, don’t get me wrong – the writing is great.  It’s entertaining and engaging and you don’t want to stop living in this world… but not that much of any substance actually happens.  Unfortunately, there’s a lot of unrealistic fluff and very little real plot aside from the babies.

Let’s break this thing down:

The Hale Co. CEO Competition was ridiculous.  Please, tell me in what universe a board would even entertain the idea of placing a wild eighteen-year-old former model with no training, no education, and no relevant life experience in charge of a multi-billion dollar company.  Probably the same universe in which they would entertain a shy, awkward twenty-something who frequently forgets to eat, sleep, bathe, and even leave the house in favor of sex.  Who, by the way, also has no relevant training, education, or life experience.  It’s clear that the competition was really between Lo and Ryke, and I was left feeling that it was all a trick by Jonathan to get Lo to step up.  I’m not sure whether this was the impression I was supposed to get, or just my brain’s way of justifying this nonsense.

The Teenage Terrors subplot continued for far too long, with far too dramatic of a conclusion.  In the real world, the police would have been called before this nonsense escalated the way it did, regardless of the victims’ desire to keep a low profile, stay out of the media, or whatever ridiculous, half-hearted excuse they offered for continuing to put up with these hellions.  I halfway expected that the Ritchie sisters were going to announce a new ten book series featuring these children, which is the only way I can justify them spending so much time developing this storyline.  (As a side note, I do know that Garrison is featured in a web series.  However, I expected more than this given how much of the book was dedicated to him and his friends.)

Jonathan’s Illness made me cringe.  Of course a lifelong alcoholic would have liver problems, but all I felt for this plot was that it was an excuse for Ryke to speak with his father again.  It was something to make everyone feel bad for big, bad Jonathan.  An excuse for him to step down as Hale Co. CEO (see above) and make way for that new plot.

I guess one of my biggest problems with this installment is that, much more than in the previous ones, everything felt conveniently contrived to set up other storylines.  And having just finished Fuel the Fire, I know that some of what happens in this book sets the stage for what happens to Connor and Rose in the next book.

I saw a reviewer say that she felt the Ritchie sisters had abandoned Lily and Lo in favor of the side characters.  I have to agree.  I’ve been nothing but impressed with the spin-off novels, and, while I’ll read anything these twins write, I haven’t been too thrilled with the end of Lily and Lo’s story.  Maybe I too have abandoned them in favor of their siblings.

Overall though, this book was a nice way to end Lily and Lo’s story.  It tied up most of their loose ends while still leaving the story open for future Calloway Sisters books.  I think it says a lot about the author(s) when I have this many criticisms about the book but still end up giving it a three-star review.  Krista and Becca Ritchie are talented writers, and despite not being thrilled with this particular book, I’m still eagerly anticipating their next few releases.

Final rating: ★★★☆☆

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday features a topic close to my heart: fellow book nerds.  I feel sudden camaraderie with any character who loves books as much as I do, so here’s a list of ten off the top of my head:

  1. AJ Fikry: main protagonist of The Storied Life of AJ Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin; owns a bookstore.
  2. Rosie Bloom: heroine of The Virgin Romance Novelist by Meghan Quinn; is such a fan of romance novels that she attempts to write them, despite having no romantic experience of her own.
  3. Liesel Meminger: main character of The Book Thief by Markus Zusak; turns to books to help her make it through WWII.
  4. Matilda: Of course!  The title character of Matilda by Roald Dahl; a little girl who can’t get enough books, even when her parents discourage her voracious reading habits.
  5. Echo: main character in The Girl At Midnight by Melissa Grey; a child who feels so at home when reading that she makes her home in a library.
  6. Cath Avery: main protagonist of Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell; loves the fictional world of Simon Snow so much that she writes her own fanfiction.
  7. Lily Calloway, and…
  8. Loren Hale: both of the Addicted series by Krista and Becca Ritchie; both characters are such fans of comic books that Lo starts his own publishing company and Lily opens her own hybrid comic book store/cafe.
  9. Katy Swartz: female protagonist of the Lux series by Jennifer L. Armentrout; loves reading just about as much as I do.
  10. Hermione Granger: of Harry Potter fame; is the quintessential book nerd that no list should be without.

Did I forget any of your favorite book nerds?

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I’ve never felt so bad about giving a three-star review – because this is the Ritchie sisters, and I love everything they write. This book is amazing, and I would have adored it if I hadn’t already read Kiss the Sky and Hothouse Flower. Because, as much as I love these authors, Thrive doesn’t have enough new material to warrant 400+ pages.

I went into Thrive knowing that it occurs during the same time period as Kiss the Sky and Hothouse Flower, the first two books in the Calloway Sisters spin-off series. I thought it might focus more on what was going on in Lily and Lo’s life while Lily’s sisters were dealing with their own stuff, but it’s really more like Lily and Lo’s reaction to the events of the other books. Sure, it gives a little background into why Lo was so adamantly against Ryke and Daisy’s relationship, or what Lily was thinking during the filming, but it’s still the same events from the previous books.

The writing is great and the story is good – if you haven’t already read Kiss the Sky and Hothouse Flower. Unless you’re a die-hard fan of the Ritchie sisters, you can probably skip Thrive in favor of the more exciting spin-off novels. 

Final rating: ★★★☆☆

 

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Room 702 is the story of Emma, a Spanish accountant, who has somewhat of a one night stand with John Davies, a famous British actor.  Not usually one to swoon at the sight of a celebrity, Emma is surprised when she not only feels attracted to John, but also feels that the two of them share an instant connection.  She can’t stop thinking about him after their night together, but it’s hard to build a lasting relationship with someone whose work keeps him away for months at a time.

Honestly, this is an enjoyable book, but it’s nothing new.  Every conversation, every plot line, every character quirk has been done to death.  The entire book is cliche after cliche – which isn’t automatically a bad thing.  The writing was lively enough to keep me going, but I still had the whole book figured out by approximately page 30.

The biggest thing for me was probably the characters and the strong dislike that I felt for most of them.  Nobody was particularly likable, including the two main characters.  Emma’s incessant whining, complaining, and clinginess was exhausting.  John was a jerk, regardless of his charismatic jokes or generous gifts.  Emma’s friends were offensive and annoying, and Emma’s mother was obviously written to be hated – only tolerable in the presence of small children.  The only character I found remotely likable (and even he had to grow on me) was Leo, a mutual friend of Emma and John.

But even though I disliked the characters and could predict literally everything that happened, I still more or less enjoyed this book.  I feel that the quality of the translation was a big reason for this.  As someone with a degree in both Spanish and Linguistics, who has done translations for fun and for grades, I have to give this translator a big pat on the back for avoiding all the telltale signs of a translated work.

Final rating: somewhere between 2.5 and 3 stars

Room 702 is currently available to Read Now on Netgalley.  Goodreads also has 20 copies available in a giveaway that closes on August 18.

For my 2015 reading challenge, I’m crossing off #44: a book that was originally written in another language.

Things in my life have been a little crazy lately, and I’ve missed not one, but TWO Top Ten Tuesdays this month.  I am a big fan of the themes that I missed, so I’m posting one today and one on Friday to catch up.

The theme for July 14 was “Last Ten Books That Came Into My Possession.”

  1. Room 702 || Paloma Aínsa
  2. My Sister’s Secret || Tracy Buchanan
  3. The Selection || Kiera Cass
  4. Wicked Lovely || Melissa Marr
  5. Crooked Little Lies || Barbara Taylor Sissel
  6. Quirks & Kinks || Laurel Ulen Curtis
  7. Saving Grace || Jane Green
  8. Fuel the Fire || Krista & Becca Ritchie
  9. Addicted After All || Krista & Becca Ritchie
  10. Thrive || Krista & Becca Ritchie

Have you picked up any good books recently?  What was your last book purchase?

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Take the Fall follows Rowan and Seth as they reunite after seven years apart. At just seventeen years old, Seth helped to shoulder the blame for a crime he had nothing to do with.  Because of his clean record, he was sentenced to a short stint in prison, followed by several years of service in the Marines.  Feeling that his life was ruined, and bitter that he chose to take the fall for his best friend, Rowan’s brother Jase, Seth shut Rowan out of his life.  The two grew up apart, but never stopped thinking about what might have been.

The biggest problem I had with Take the Fall was the backstory.  I’m sorry, but what exactly happened?  I felt like I was watching a blurry, choppy montage as I read the flashbacks.  A flash of a gun.  Someone screams.  Did anybody get hurt?  Suddenly Seth and Jase are in prison.  Surely there had to have been a trial. I thought they were at a crowded racetrack – did nobody call Seth out and say that he wasn’t involved?

Why exactly did Seth shut Rowan out?  He made the stupid decision to take the blame so that Jase would get a lighter sentence – which doesn’t make sense at all.  Because if two people are found guilty of the same crime, obviously they split the sentence, right?  I’m not sure if Valentine knows anything about the legal system, because that made zero sense.

I didn’t feel the love between Seth and Rowan.  In fact, I mostly felt hatred and a weird kind of obsession.  Seth was creepily forceful, which inexplicably turned Rowan on.  Every time.

His free hand wraps around the base of my neck, pulling me closer.
“You can’t just show up and bully me into—”
“Shut up, Rowan.” Then he kisses me. 

If I had to deal with the business then that meant I had to deal with Rowan.  She would be forced to be in my presence.

Overall, I just didn’t find anything that happened – not one single line – believable.  Highly disappointing, but not the worst book I’ve read in recent memory.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the free copy.

Final rating:

★★☆☆☆