Today’s Top Ten Tuesday is such a fun topic!

I was really surprised when I checked my Goodreads history to find my ten most-read authors.  I haven’t picked up a book from most of these authors in years, but they still sit at the top of my list.  I remember spending a whole summer powering through Francine Pascal’s Fearless series, and I have so many great memories attached to Tamora Pierce’s books.

Doing this topic has me ready for a re-read in honor of #33 on my 2015 reading challenge: a book from your childhood.

But which one would I pick?

Book review: Fuel the Fire by Krista & Becca Ritchie

Fuel the Fire by Krista & Becca Ritchie
Series: Calloway Sisters #3, Addicted #3.1
Rating: ★★★★★
Links: Amazon • Goodreads
Publication Date: April 2, 2015
Source: Purchased

Protect your family. At all costs.

It’d take the impossible to hurt Connor Cobalt, even for a moment.

Protect your family. At all costs.

At twenty-six, his narcissistic tendencies have made room for the people he loves.

Protect your family. At all costs.

And he loves Rose. But when his love is threatened, when his greatest dreams with her are compromised — what is the cost then?

Protect your family. At all costs.

Love will guide his choices.
For the first time in his life.

I love Rose and Connor. Their relationship has been up at the top of my favorites since I started the Addicted series, and so I was looking forward to reading the next (and, sadly, last) installment of their story.

This will probably come as no surprise to anybody, but it’s been almost two weeks since I finished Fuel the Fire, and I’m still at a loss for what to say. This is a thing that happens to me when I read a book I really like. I can write a full-length novel about how much I hated something, but when I love something, everything comes out a mess.

How can I review the eighth book in a series without spoiling everything? What can I even say about the conclusion of Rose and Connor’s story? I feel like still, after all this time of trying to organize my thoughts, everything is going to come out in a nonsensical blob.

Let’s start with this:

• I loved Fuel the Fire.
• It was not what I expected.
• This is an important book that deals with important things.

I don’t want to spoil the previous seven books for anyone who might stumble upon this review, so I’m going to try to be brief and to the point.

This book is an emotional rollercoaster. Rose and Connor have always been strong. It’s clear that they can make it through anything. (The events of Kiss the Sky made that pretty clear.) But in Fuel the Fire, the strength of their relationship is tested as secrets, manipulations, and past indiscretions are revealed, creating what I think is a nice parallel to Lily’s story.

In Fuel the Fire, Connor and Rose both have to deal with society’s expectations and the fall out from their families (and companies) as a result of the media’s insistence on seeing them fall from grace. It’s strange that this book, about Connor and Rose of all people, would be the most heartbreaking and emotional. I thought Lily and Lo had that covered pretty well.

The book deals with questions of sexuality, affection, keeping up appearances, the power of the media, mental illness, physical illness, and unconditional love. In addition to expanding upon Rose and Connor’s story, it also reveals more about Lily and Lo and Daisy and Ryke. There’s some closure of previous storylines while still leaving plenty open for Long Way Down, which I am eagerly anticipating.

Two weeks later, my heart is still breaking for Connor, but I’m also so proud of him and Rose for how far they’ve come over the course of this series. As always, this series is highly, highly recommended.

It’s been awhile since I reread a book over and over again.  It’s a thing I used to do when I was younger, when I would get fixated on a story and want to live in it forever.

I remember rereading all of Tamora Pierce’s books several times, particularly her Trickster books.

There was also a book, and I wish I remember the name, about a young girl and her first love.  He played the drums and I think they might have been neighbors?  I loved that story so much that I probably checked it out of the library at least five times.

Recently, there haven’t been any stories that I’ve read again and again.  Honestly, my to-read list is so long that I don’t have time for rereads.

I do wish, though, that I could get that feeling back from my childhood, when I would get so caught up in a story that I would check the book out from the library once every couple months.

What are your thoughts?

   Goodreads   Amazon

For my 2015 reading challenge, I’m supposed to read “a popular author’s first book.”  I’ll be honest – I had some trouble finding a popular author.  Because if it’s a popular author that I actually like, I’ve probably already read their first book.  I thought about John Green, Marissa Meyer, Libba Bray, Colleen Hoover.  I thought about Chuck Palahniuk, Meg Cabot, Judy Blume, Tamora Pierce.  I looked through lists of books by Sarah Dessen, J.K. Rowling, Stephanie Perkins, Cassandra Clare. Nothing really spoke to me.

Then, on a whim, I realized I had ordered Wicked Lovely, which just so happens to be Melissa Marr’s first book.  At 30 distinct works and almost 320,000 ratings, I think she qualifies as a popular author.  At least according to Goodreads.  Anyway, on to the review.

Aislinn has always been able to see faeries.  It runs in the family.  And since she was a little girl, her Grams has always reminded her of the rules.  Don’t attract the faeries.  Don’t look at the faeries.  Certainly don’t speak to the faeries.  And Aislinn has always followed these rules… until Keenan, the Summer King, starts courting her, and turns her life upside down.

This book came out when I was in high school.  (I feel really old saying that.)  Back then, the praise was incessant.  "This book is so amazing,“ they said.  "Aislinn is so feisty and awesome,” they said.  "It’s such a great story,“ they said.  I was so excited to read this book, but for some reason, it took me eight years.

And, now that I’ve read it, really none of those things are true.

At best, this story is mediocre.  It’s not well-developed.  The plot just kind of meanders along, dragging around the possibility of romance between Aislinn and her best friend, Seth, while the possibility of Keenan ruining everything never quite goes away.  It’s actually painfully obvious that this is the author’s first book.  That, and the fact that nobody wanted to polish this story to be the gem it could have been – with a little more effort.

I was more or less indifferent to Aislinn and her struggles.  I wasn’t swayed by Keenan’s supposed charms.  (Possibly because the only Keenan I’ve ever known was something of a jerk?  That and shiny, superhumanly beautiful men are not a weakness of mine.)  I saw all the plot twists coming.  Aislinn’s friends and their drinking, drugs, piercings, and sexual exploits didn’t excite me the way they might have when I was 17.  In fact, it kind of made me sad.  Kids throwing their lives away because of too little supervision, and all that.

The thing that got to me the most, I think, was Aislinn’s mortality being casually taken away from her.  Sure, she’s a little miffed, but she basically accepts it without too much of a fight.  She actually accepts most everything without much of a fight.  Oh, my whole life is about to change.  I won’t die.  Okay… if you say so… as long as I can keep Seth…

There’s so little conflict, so little angst, so little of any emotion other than teenage hormones in this book that I had trouble connecting with the characters.  Even when Aislinn panics, thinking she might have unknowingly lost her virginity when drunk on faery wine, there’s a sort of blasé attitude about it, like well, things happen and I’d hoped my first time would be special, but oh well.

All in all, it’s just disappointing, and I wish I’d read the mountain of negative reviews before diving headfirst into this book.  It’s a quick read, but I can’t say that it’s worth the time, and I won’t be reading the rest of the series.

Final rating: ★★☆☆☆

For my 2015 reading challenge, I’m crossing off #15: a popular author’s first book.