Book review: Hooked by Christine Manzari

Hooked by Christine Manzari
Series: Hearts of Stone #1
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: AmazonGoodreads
Publication Date: February 3, 2015
Source: Freebie

If you ask the confident and snarky skater girl, and she’s in the mood to share, she’ll tell you her name is Cat. She might even tell you that she’s hooked on graffiti, 80s movies, and having fun—the riskier the better. Cat will share a good time with you, but she won’t ever trust you enough to share her heart. It’s protected by secrets and she’d like to keep it that way.

Cat knows one thing for certain: Love isn’t really her thing.

If you ask the confident and rich pretty boy, he might tell you his name is Huck. He might even tell you he loves a challenge and is used to getting his way. He won’t tell you that his life is a mess because he risked his heart by trusting the wrong girl. Huck is ready for a change, he just wasn’t ready to get hooked on someone like Cat.

Huck knows one thing for certain: Love hasn’t done him any favors, but Cat just might be worth the risk.

Cat and Huck think a one-night stand seems harmless, but when all the little secrets they didn’t share turn out to be toxic truths, they realize how easily a one-night stand (or a few) could ruin everything.

The thing is, you can be ruined in more than one way. Once you’re HOOKED, what wouldn’t you risk for the chance at more?

This book was such a pleasant surprise!  I’ve had it on my Kindle for months and I’m so glad that I finally decided to read it.

Cat is a tattooed graphic designer from Venice Beach who enjoys skateboarding and graffiti.  She doesn’t do relationships, and she doesn’t talk about her personal life.  Hanging out at the beach with her best friend one night, she notices a that a guy who is way too attractive for his own good can’t seem to take his eyes off her.  The guy turns out to be Huck, an all-American pretty boy who couldn’t be further from Cat’s usual type.  You might say that Cat isn’t Huck’s usual type either, but something draws them together.  Turns out they’re great together, but all of those personal things that Cat refused to talk about end up creating problem after problem after problem in their relationship.

Cat was so stubborn, so opposed to opening up to Huck, that she both intentionally and unintentionally sabotaged their relationship.  Usually, this would annoy me, but in this book, it didn’t.

I think the main reason that I wasn’t annoyed by all of the drama and angst was that it actually fit Cat’s character.  This is a girl who doesn’t do relationships.  She doesn’t trust people.  So, despite her relationship with Huck being nothing less than amazing, she’s quick to doubt it.  When she finds out that Huck’s not exactly a stranger, she runs away.  When things start happening in her personal life that she can’t control, she runs away.  This wasn’t angst for angst’s sake.  This was a normal reaction for the character.

I loved the writing style.  Everything flowed so nicely, from the descriptions to the dialogue.  Steamy scenes, funny scenes, and touching scenes were all equally well-written, which was a nice surprise.  I will definitely keep an eye out for other books by Christine Manzari!

Book review: Chasing Beautiful by Pamela Ann

Chasing Beautiful by Pamela Ann
Series: Chasing #1
Rating: ★☆☆☆☆
Links: AmazonGoodreads
Publication Date: October 27, 2012
Source: Freebie

What would you do if you had two hot men fight over you?

Sienna Richards decided to study and pursue her dreams in London. Life was starting to look up when out of nowhere, her boyfriend Kyle Matthews decided to end things. She vowed never to love again. But what she didn’t see coming was the revelation of feelings her friend Blake had in store for her.

Blake Knightly a handsome British mogul-in-training and a good friend who’s been lusting after her since they met or Kyle–childhood best friend, high school sweetheart, and her first love–but broke her heart.

This is Sienna’s journey in finding herself and learning about forgiveness, heartaches and most of all, love.

Recently, I’ve been trying to catch up on all of the freebies I’ve downloaded since signing up for BookBub emails.  It’s a lot.  Some of them have been really good.  Others… not so much.  I’ve definitely learned that I need to look through the reviews before just blindly following the average Goodreads rating.  Because this book has a 3.96 average, and it is horrendous.

Seriously.  I can’t even remember the last time that I read something so awful.

(There will be some spoilers in this review.)

Sienna is one of those stereotypical new adult heroines who doesn’t realize two major things:

1. That she’s beautiful, and
2. That all the hot boys are falling all over her.

This on its own is usually enough to make me roll my eyes and heavily sigh in frustration, but here, it just keeps getting worse.

Because not only is Sienna absolutely oblivious to the fact that her best friend, who she’s been pining over for years, is 100% in love with her, she also doesn’t understand anything about anything.  She is the most clueless, oblivious, nonsensical heroine I’ve read about in years.

Take this as an example.  Not a spoiler because it is one of the book’s opening scenes:

Sienna finds out that while she was at school in London, her longtime boyfriend Kyle (who is back in the States) has cheated on her.  She was with him forever, so she needs some closure before she can wrap up that chapter in her life.  She hops on the soonest plane back to California and confronts him at a party.  A party that he’s attending with his new girlfriend.  They have a confrontation and end up having some super hot sex while at said party.  That he’s attending with his new girlfriend.  That he already cheated on Sienna with.  Do you see how screwed up this is?

Sienna’s just a wreck and heads right back to London because it’s just really that easy to find spur-of-the-moment transatlantic flights.  (Last year my flight back to NJ from Scotland was cancelled while I was in line for my boarding pass.  I ended up having to take a flight on a different day, to a different state, on a different airline, with a layover in London.  That’s right, I could not even get a flight to the correct state on short notice.  I had to take a train the rest of the way home.  How do these characters just miraculously find flights whenever it suits them?)

She falls right into her BFF Blake’s arms, because even though Blake is a notorious womanizer, he was only doing it to distract himself from how much he wanted Sienna.  SO ROMANTIC.  But Blake wants a relationship with her, and won’t have sex with her unless she agrees to give him her heart.  Poor Sienna is just so horny.  She doesn’t want to give Blake her heart.  Why can’t they just have sex like normal people?!?!  Life is so hard.

Just as things begin heating up with Sienna and Blake, Kyle’s mother shows up in Sienna’s London apartment.  Kyle’s life has gotten out of control ever since he cheated.  He’s drinking and doing drugs and passing out in bathrooms and oh my lord, it’s so bad.  The only person who can save him is Sienna, so Kyle will move to London to be closer to her.

Such an incredible idea!  It’s obvious that rehab would be over-the-top in this situation.  Clearly, the ex-girlfriend and her magic vagina can just get him back on the straight and narrow.

Now we have a clearly established love triangle between Sienna, Blake, and Kyle.  Everybody’s just so hot.  That’s the only characteristics they have, by the way.  Nobody really has a personality.  They’re just hot.

Did I like Blake?  No.

Did I like Kyle?  No.

Did I even like Sienna?  No.

Every character in this book is awful, but I really think that Blake was the worst.  Yes, her supposedly perfect BFF is worse than the longtime boyfriend who cheated on her.

I know!  I can’t believe it either.

But Blake is so manipulative, so childish, that I just became infuriated whenever he was talking.  How he thinks he has any moral ground to stand on at any point in this book is absolutely ridiculous.

There are spoilers here, don’t click if you’re planning to read this book!

The whole time that Blake has been wooing Sienna, demanding that she not so much as speak with Kyle, he was engaged to someone else.  What kind of manipulative jerk is he?  What kind of crazy, weird, obsessive stalker seduces his best friend, insists that she cut off contact with her ex, while all that time being engaged to someone else?

Even if the rest of the book would’ve been amazing, I would’ve taken this book down to one star just for that.  That’s not cool.  That’s not romantic.  That’s just gross and awful.



Top Ten Tuesday: Ten things that books have made me want to do

Happy Top Ten Tuesday!  Today’s topic is ten things that books have made me want to do.  This is both easy and hard because I often get inspired by books, but trying to come up with ten things off the top of my head is a little challenging.  So here are ten things that recent reads have made me want to do.  After I post this, I’ll probably think of ten more that would have been better!

  1. Go to a music festival!  It’s not like I’ve never been to a music festival before.  I’ve probably attended Summerfest at least ten times.  I went to Bamboozle back in 2009.  I also did Shadow of the City in 2015 and Global Citizen in 2014.  (I’m not sure if those last two count.)  But I’d love to do the whole festival experience, where you go with your close friends and hang out and meet people and have tons of fun while listening to amazing bands. (insp: Seven Ways to Lose Your Heart)
  2. Go on a road trip!  While I’ve driven cross-country four times, I can’t say I’ve ever been on a road trip.  Every time has just been for the straight purpose of getting from Point A to Point B.  I’ve never driven around with friends for fun, stopping along the way to see the sights and getting into shenanigans. (insp: Seven Ways to Lose Your Heart)
  3. Reconnect with old friends!  I’m really bad at keeping up friendships when I don’t see you every day.  It’s not that I want to.  It’s just that life happens, and all of a sudden it’s been six months since we’ve spoken and it makes me feel absolutely awful.  I would love to reconnect with old friends that I haven’t seen in years. (insp: Seven Ways to Lose Your Heart)
  4. Hang out with my favorite band!  I’ve fallen into the deep, dark abyss of watching Youtube videos of my favorite bands being awesome and hilarious.  Right now I’m kind of obsessing over twenty one pilots.  I think we could easily be BFFs.  We just need to meet first.  (insp: More Than Music)
  5. Go back and visit my home state of Wisconsin!  I left Wisconsin without a second thought when I was 22 years old.  I didn’t think there was really anything there for me anymore, and I had this mentality that I was young and free and why not move 1,000 miles away.  Four years later, I miss it.  I miss it a lot.  I miss my family and my old friends (see #3) and how there’s always something to do there.  I’d move back in a heartbeat.  (insp: Arrows)
  6. Have a big family!  I’m an only child.  I grew up with a lot of cousins and a lot of neighbors around my age, but I never had that sibling experience.  I don’t want that for my future children.  I want them to have best friends who will be there no matter what.  Confidants.  Protectors.  I know it’s not all sunshine and rainbows with siblings (one of my best friends growing up was one of seven), but when I read books about big families, it makes me want that.  (insp: Some Kind of Perfect)
  7. Hang out in some libraries!  Why does the best stuff always happen in libraries?  I mean, seriously.  In the books I read, people are always meeting rockstars and new best friends and the coolest people ever when they go to the library.  I’d like to get in on that action, please. (insp: Taught)
  8. Get crafty!  Sometimes I can be crafty.  I love to sew, especially baby stuff.  I can make a great bib, burp cloth, or baby blanket.  Sometimes I wish that I were crafty in other ways, though.  Like maybe if I could paint, or build things, or have a sense of creativity that’s more than just following patterns.  That would be nice. (insp: Kaleidoscope Hearts)
  9. Go to the Strand bookstore in NYC! In all the times I’ve been to the city, I’ve never seen 18 miles of books in one place.  How fun would that be?  I just feel like I would be among my people, the ones who understand exactly how I feel about reading.  Who wants to go with me?  (insp: Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares)
  10. Start a club!  Have you ever noticed how twenty-somethings in books are always members of some sort of club?  There are knitting clubs and book clubs and all kinds of other clubs that are escaping me right now. I would love to have a club where I meet up with my friends and discuss something that we all have in common.  A book club would be the obvious choice, but I’m open to other topics too.  (insp: Neanderthal Seeks Human)

What have books inspired you to do?

Book review: Taught by B.B. Hamel

Taught by B.B. Hamel
Series: City’s Secrets #2.5
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: AmazonGoodreads
Publication Date: April 2015
Source: Freebie


I didn’t ask to have my heart broken, but whatever. All I had to do was quit my job and start over. Which is how I ended up teaching college classes by day and playing in my band by night. Nothing is going to break me again. Nothing is going to distract me from my goals. Not even some sexy young college girl.

But when I get locked in a stairwell with the hottest librarian I’ve ever met, I need to choose. Do I want to keep moving forward, or do I want to see what’s underneath her cool exterior?


I don’t need to fall for anyone. I’ve got enough stress in my life. Between class, work, and pressure from my family, I have enough to deal with. Which is why I don’t know what to do when I catch some hot professor using a Staff Only room as his personal library. I should follow the rules, but something about him makes me want to throw them all away. Turns out, he plays in a band, and they’re actually pretty good. So when he wants me, I’m not sure what to do.

Give in to sweet temptation, or stay true to my path?

This title contains mature content (explicit sexual situations and mature language), and is recommended for audiences 18+. 

Taught is a standalone novella of 30,000 words.

I received a free copy of Taught when I signed up for author B.B. Hamel’s mailing list.  It’s the third book of hers that I’ve read, and I really enjoyed it.  This short little novella is part of her City’s Secrets series, which I have not read, and did not need to read to understand what was going on.

Jim is an adjunct professor at Temple University.  He teaches music theory by day, and at night he plays with his band and reads sci-fi novels.  He usually reads in the same quiet room at the library and is surprised when an employee comes in one night telling him he’s not allowed to be there.

The employee is Emma, a pre-med student who Jim is instantly attracted to.  Emma, however, isn’t too convinced about Jim.  She can’t decide what to think about him, his rumpled khakis, and the fact that he’s hiding in a staff-only room while reading one of her favorite books.

As luck would have it, the elevators break at the library and Emma and Jim get stuck in the stairwell together, where the find that they have a lot in common.  Their relationship is slow, sweet, and most of all, believable.  I loved that Jim wasn’t a commanding alpha and Emma wasn’t a swoony child.

This was very different from the other two books I’ve read by this author, which was a nice change of pace.  Because Jim is a professor and Emma is a student (although not his student), there is a little bit of a forbidden vibe.  Just enough to make it interesting.

I would love to read more about Jim and Emma!  I can’t wait to read more of Hamel’s work.

Book review: Something Great by M. Clarke

Goodreads   Amazon

Okay, let’s talk about Something Great.

First of all, I have not been so tempted to DNF in ages.  I slogged through the beginning of this book, highlighting sentence after sentence, paragraph after paragraph, phrase after phrase that was either (1) cringeworthy, (2) awkwardly written, (3) incorrectly written, or (4) just awful.

But actually, let’s wrap up the plot here for a second.

Jeanella Mefferd (who literally has the worst name ever) is a shy, career-oriented woman who has never really felt any feels whatsoever.  She interviews for her dream job at Knight Magazine and happens to see the same hottie everywhere she goes.  He makes her feel all the feels.  But alas, Jeanella (who for some reason goes by Jenna?) is dating Luke, a stuffy carpet salesman or something.  I don’t even know.  Even she doesn’t like him.

The mysterious hottie turns out to be Maxwell Knight, son of the very Mr. Knight who owns the company.  Max relentlessly pursues Jenna, following her around, getting her address from the company database, finagling travel arrangements, calling her to his office for “meetings.” And why? Jenna has the all the personality of a doorknob!  I guess she’s supposed to be pretty or something, I don’t know.  But Max is obsessed with her from the first time he sees her.

And Jenna’s no better.  Despite having an entire prologue dedicated to how broken she is from her ex-boyfriend cheating on her, and how she can never trust a man again, and whatever… she continues dating Luke even as she realizes that she has zero feelings for him, and all the feels she’s ever felt in her entire life are for Max.  But she doesn’t want to hurt Luke, so she’d rather string him along as she tries to decide whether dating the owner’s son is worth it.

Of course, we all know who she chooses, and then it’s just cringy sex scene followed by cringy sex scene followed by more cringy sex scenes.  Followed by some drama and more cringy sex.

This book is so overly dramatic and awful.  Anyway.  I think I’ve successfully described the sheer horror that is this book’s plot.

Onto the writing.

Clarke feels that her character has to be quirky, so Jeanella/Jenna is allergic to alcohol.  Not only is she allergic to alcohol, but she feels the need to describe for us exactly when happens when our precious special snowflake is exposed:

“I was allergic to alcohol – so I took a sip of my soda instead.  When I did drink, which was rare, I would have a strong urge to urinate, and my whole body literally from head to toe would turn red like I had a bad sunburn.”

I thought, okay, this is fine.  I mean, doesn’t alcohol make everybody have to pee? But whatever.  I would avoid alcohol too if it made me turn red from head to toe.


Jenna drinks alcohol ALL THE TIME.  One glass of wine and she’s collapsed on the floor, burning up and hallucinating.  Her friends are like, “OH ALCOHOL, HERE’S SOME MORE EVEN THOUGH YOU’RE ALLERGIC!!!”  One thing I will say about Max that worked in his favor was him NOT giving alcohol to Jenna.  He also didn’t take advantage of her upon finding her passed out drunk after two drinks.

“No, no, no.  You can’t touch me and I can’t touch you.  You don’t know how badly I want to take you right here and now, but it would be wrong, wrong by you, plus you have no idea of half of what I’m saying to you.” – Max, when Jenna tries to seduce him while drunk.

Poor writing, but still.  Way to be a gentleman, Max.

Enough about the alcohol.  Onto the apples.

Wait, what?  Yes, apples.  There is an entire two paragraph soliloquy on apples on page 27.  Followed by Jenna’s commentary on eating said apple throughout the next several pages.

“With the first bite, the juice streamed down my chin.  With a crunch, my teeth pulled the meat off, and I savored the taste.  “Mmm, good.”

“For a second I had forgotten about my date, and I stared at my half-eaten apple.”

“Becky handed my apple back to me, tugged me into the bathroom, and started to fuss with my face and hair.”

“Needing free hands, I bit the apple to hold it in place.”

“I turned to face Becky as I took the last bite of the apple.”

There are literally FOUR PAGES dedicated to Jenna eating this apple.  Enough with the apples.

This book needed an editor.

Jenna and Max hang out almost exclusively at the Cafe Express.  Which honestly sounds like either an airport kiosk or the worst restaurant ever.  I’m also not convinced about their food because Max is able to manipulate a Rice Krispy treat into a heart using only one hand inside a paper bag, not even looking.  I mean, that does not sound like the most quality food.

And yes, the heart-shaped Rice Krispy treats, much like the apple, are discussed to death.  I can never eat a Rice Krispy treat again.  This book has ruined them for me.

Clarke uses every cliche in the book to move her plot along.

✓ Jenna calls Luke by the wrong name, leading into a conversation about ending things.

✓ When Jenna and Max travel for work, their rooms have an adjoining door.

✓ “It’s our policy to check in on sick employees” as an excuse for breaking into Jenna’s apartment when she’s ill.

I mean, those are only three off the top of my head, but I don’t really want to spend much more time on this book than I already have.

It’s abundantly clear from the way that the sex scenes are written that Clarke wasn’t really comfortable writing them.  I’m not entirely sure why she felt the need to write this book if she’s uncomfortable with sex scenes, but it happened and now I’m going to talk about it.  So with that said, let’s get down and dirty with these characters.

I have never read a sex scene that was so cold and clinical as the first time that Jenna and Max are together.

“When his lips found my panties, he used his teeth to move them aside and teased my clitoris with his tongue.  ‘Max,’ I exploded.”

“’Do you want me?’ Max asked, teasing me with his erection grazing the entrance to my vagina.”

“’We don’t have to. We can just taste each other,’ he said, placing his hand where his penis was.”

Okay, so there has to be a middle ground when it comes to sex terms.

I am the type of reader that cringes when I see terms like “love cave” or “throbbing stick” or whatever in romance novels.  I am also the type of reader than cringes when “clitoris,” “penis,” and “vagina” are all used within the same two paragraphs.  There are other words that you can use.  I’m really sorry, but “then he put his penis in my vagina” is not sexy.

Granted, it does get better as the book continues, but it was never enough for me to lose myself in their story.

Oh, and lest I forget and spare you probably the best line of the book, here it is now:

“’Babe, it’s past midnight.’

‘What?’ I got to Max’s at eight.

‘We’ve been doing it…I mean…that long…I didn’t…’”

Excuse me while I die of laughter.  They had sex for four hours.  FOUR HOURS.  I feel like this book was written by a teenage boy who doesn’t really understand how sex works.  Meanwhile, I’m sitting here thinking about how sore poor Jenna would be the next day… and those Viagra commercials about the dangers of prolonged erections.

I’m going to wrap this up and just say that Something Great is not a book that I would consider great, not by any stretch of the imagination.  If you’re looking for something to entertain you, go ahead.  If you’re looking for the steamy read promised by the blurb, look somewhere else.

Final rating: ★☆☆☆☆