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I think I’m probably the only person in the world who read Faking It without reading Losing It. I’m here to tell you that it works: we’re provided with plenty of background information, and I never felt like I was in the dark.

I accidentally bought this one when I got a sale alert. I didn’t realize it was the second in a series, but I figured since it features different characters, I wouldn’t be missing too much. Anyway, I’m glad that I read it. I finished it in just a couple hours on a day off. It’s my first book by Cora Carmack, and I can definitely call myself a fan of hers now!

In Faking It, musician Max is at a coffee shop with her new boyfriend Mace when she gets a call from her parents. They’re in town! They want to meet her and her boyfriend in five minutes! Oh no! Max has kept up a conservative charade around her uptight parents for years. They don’t know about her tattoos, her piercings, or the fact that she’s currently dating a less-than-desirable character. She can hide her tattoos and piercings with no problem, but what about the boyfriend? She sends Mace home and propositions a studious-looking guy at a nearby table. Pretend to be her boyfriend for a day. How hard can that be?

It turns out that Cade is getting his MFA in theatre. He’s the perfect man for the job. Max refers to him as “Golden Boy” because he’s just so perfect. He’s her parents’ dream, and things couldn’t be going any better. Even Max finds herself developing a serious attraction to him. The problem: can their fake relationship survive their very real connection?

I loved this book so much, but it also frustrated me to no end. One of my least favorite things in a romance is when the characters are clearly perfect for each other, but they find stupid, petty things to get in the way of their happiness.

That’s exactly what happens in this book.

As Max says, “I push people away.”
As Cade says, “I let people go.”

When Cade and Max are together, everything is perfect. He pushes her to be a better person, to stand up for herself, to face her fears. She makes him a little more of a risk taker, inspires him to focus a little less on perfection.

And their chemistry. Their chemistry is amazing. Are all of Cora Carmack’s books like this? I might have to go on a shopping spree…

Overall, this book was great. I probably would have rated it five stars if not for the several frustrating scenes where they separate. Definitely recommended for fans of new adult and romance.

Final rating: ★★★★☆

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March 2016

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You may remember A Study in Charlotte because it appeared on a previous list of mine regarding most anticipated releases for the first part of 2016.  Well, it’s still on my list, and it’s finally coming out next month!

Kindred Spirits is being released as part of World Book Day UK, but I’m hoping that it will be made available somehow throughout the rest of the world.  I’ve read everything Rainbow Rowell has published, and I don’t want to miss this one!

   Goodreads   Amazon

As with many of my romance reads recently, I got this one free on Amazon.  I was unaware that it’s part of a series, but I think it does just fine as a standalone.

In this story, Isabelle has just liberated herself from her cheating, controlling, stifling boyfriend.  Over the years, he’s not only controlled everything she does, but he’s also taken control of her bank accounts and assets.  As she drives away from the house they’d shared, she’s surprised (but not really) that she’s pulled over and arrested for driving a stolen vehicle.  Luckily, her longtime attraction-from-afar Gabriel is there to save the day, being the brother of the police officer who arrested her.  Gabe helps explain the misunderstanding, and once the charges are dropped, offers Isabelle a safe place to stay while she sorts out her life.

Soooo sweet, right?

Not really.

You see, Isabelle has just gotten out of the most awful, suffocating relationship you could possibly imagine.  Lance was everything you don’t look for in a man, and I had trouble understanding why Isabelle was with him to begin with.  But, setting that aside for a moment, it’s clear that she needs some time to herself to think.  In fact, she herself says this on multiple occasions.

But then she does the complete opposite, hopping into his guest bedroom, jumping into a relationship with him, letting him do the same thing Lance had done.

Yes, Lance was a villain.  But I am not so clear on the idea that Gabe isn’t.  Gabe is a man who obsessed over Isabelle from afar.  Even when he had other women on his arm, he thought about her.  She’s the only woman who can complete him.  Look at the description – “Gabe yearns to possess Isabelle.”  And Isabelle, despite everything she just went through, goes for this.  From one stifling relationship to another.

And who even is Isabelle?  She has no real personality traits aside from submission.  Her single hobby is her former job: interior design.  But is she even good at that?  She’s given one opportunity to show her stuff, and abandons it at the prospect of having sex with Gabe.  There’s nothing to her as a character, and so I found it very hard to sympathize with her.

The relationship between the two is not believable when it starts, and it’s still not believable when the book ends.  I’m not a huge fan of instalove in any case, but it was completely overdone here.  They’re both with other people as the book begins, but like 15% in and they’re going to die if they’re not together.

In short: I didn’t feel the connection.  I didn’t like the characters.  There wasn’t really a plot aside from Gabe and Isabelle trying to have as much sex as possible.

This book isn’t bad, but it’s far from great.

Final rating: 

★★☆☆☆

I’m abandoning the idea of carefully planning out what I’m going to read.  It always fails.  I only ended up reading one of the books I listed on my last book queue, so here we have three books I’ve currently checked out from the library.  Three books that I will almost certainly finish.  (Three books that it would be really unusual for me not to finish.)  Three very different books.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown // Outsider in the White House // Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares

What are you planning on reading next?

Happy Top Ten Tuesday!  Today’s topic is ten books I enjoyed recently that weren’t my typical genre or were out of my comfort zone.  I make no secret of the fact that I typically read young adult and new adult.  I don’t deviate from that very much, and I’m fine with that.  But sometimes, be it for a reading challenge or because somebody gives me a book I wouldn’t normally read, I do step out of my comfort zone.  It doesn’t happen too often (so I went back a little over a year for some of these) but I do usually end up really enjoying these books.

– I read Persepolis for my 2015 reading challenge.  The topic?  A banned book.  I don’t often read issue-heavy books.  I don’t often read graphic novels.  I’m not super into history.  But I loved this book.
– Interpreter of Maladies was also for my reading challenge. Topic: a Pulitzer Prize winner.  Not my normal cup of tea, but I really enjoyed this one.  I knew when the first short story made me start sobbing that I was in for a wild ride.

Pretending to Dance is a book I picked up from Netgalley, mostly because I know Diane Chamberlain is a very good author, although I don’t often read adult fiction.  It was so good.

The Perfect Son was my choice one month from Kindle First.  Again, adult fiction doesn’t usually do it for me, but that was really well-written and kept me engaged throughout.
– Seventh Heaven was the final book on this list that I bought specifically for my reading challenge.  Topic: a book that came out the year you were born.  It was magical.

– I’ve owned The Bell Jar for years, and only picked it up for my Killing the TBR challenge.  I was really surprised at how much I liked it.
– The only reason I binged on Peter F. Hamilton novels is because I got approved for The Abyss Beyond Dreams on Netgalley.  None of his books are my usual interest, but I got really, really into them and enjoyed myself so much.

The Golden Compass 

 – The Subtle Knife
The Amber Spyglass

These three were also part of my Killing the TBR challenge.  I’ve owned them since I was a child but had never read them.  I don’t often read books featuring young children, but I was pleasantly surprised by how much I cared about these kids.

Have you been pleasantly surprised by anything you’ve read recently?  Do you find that you enjoy books that push you out of your comfort zone?

   Goodreads   Amazon

I have been waiting for Armada for what seems like forever. I got Ready Player One for Christmas in 2014 and absolutely loved it. Devoured it, even. I’d been meaning to buy Armada for myself for months (it was on pretty much all of my most anticipated lists throughout the year), so I was thrilled when I got it for Christmas in 2015. I had some other books to finish up first, but started it just as soon as I could.

Now, the first thing you need to know about Armada is that it’s not Ready Player One. It’s just not. It’s sort of similar, what with the nerdy main character, the constant pop culture references, and the overall feel of the writing, but if you’re expecting the same kind of magical experience (assuming you loved Ready Player One as much as I did), you’re going to be disappointed.

This is a different sort of book.

In it, Zack Lightman is obsessed with Armada, an online multiplayer video game that simulates battle against an alien invasion. He’s so obsessed that he’s not even really surprised when he starts hallucinating the aliens’ battle ships in his everyday life. Time to take a break from Armada, he thinks. But then one of the ships lands, and he’s recruited for the Earth Defense Alliance, the same government organization featured in his video games. It turns out that the EDA has been monitoring high scores from their video games, which were specifically developed with the goal of training ordinary citizens in combat.

It’s all a little unreal, but it’s a fun ride.

The book starts off a little slow, held up by a slew of incessant pop culture references. This is unsurprising after their prominent place in the plot of RPO, but it was a little much, even for a pop culture fanatic like myself. The book references a lot of 80’s movies, and, as a whole, definitely gives off an 80’s sci-fi movie vibe.

The plot itself is kind of weak, and the answers to the questions are not logical whatsoever. But that’s okay – because even Zack mentions this as he’s learning what’s happening. Don’t take it too seriously and you’ll probably enjoy it.

Final rating: 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4.

For my 2016 reading challenge, I’m crossing off #20: a science fiction book.