ARC review: 27 Hours by Tristina Wright

27 Hours by Tristina Wright
Series: The Nightside Saga #1
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: AmazonTBDGoodreads
Publication Date: October 3, 2017
Source: ARC via Netgalley

Rumor Mora fears two things: hellhounds too strong for him to kill, and failure. Jude Welton has two dreams: for humans to stop killing monsters, and for his strange abilities to vanish.

But in no reality should a boy raised to love monsters fall for a boy raised to kill them.

Nyx Llorca keeps two secrets: the moon speaks to her, and she’s in love with Dahlia, her best friend. Braeden Tennant wants two things: to get out from his mother’s shadow, and to unlearn Epsilon’s darkest secret.

They’ll both have to commit treason to find the truth.

During one twenty-seven-hour night, if they can’t stop the war between the colonies and the monsters from becoming a war of extinction, the things they wish for will never come true, and the things they fear will be all that’s left.

27 Hours is a sweeping, thrilling story featuring a stellar cast of queer teenagers battling to save their homes and possibly every human on Sahara as the clock ticks down to zero.

Centuries in the future, the colonization of a distant moon has led to war with the chimera, an indigenous species.  The chimera see the humans as parasitic invaders while the colonists believe that the chimera are a violent, bloodthirsty, savage race of monsters.  A small group of teenagers may be the only ones who have what it takes to bring the war to an end.

Enough people have gone over the plot and the writing style, so I don’t really feel like I need to do that in my review.  I’ve also seen a ton of conflicting reviews of this book, so how about an interview-style review?

Was this the best book of 2017?
No.

Was this the worst book of 2017, like OMG how did it get published?
Also no.

Is this basically Tumblr: The Novel?
Yes, most definitely.

Is there a really diverse cast of characters?
In some ways, yes.  In other ways, not really.  All of the major characters are LGBT.  There are also a number of POC, but the various cultures from Earth have kind of blended together in this futuristic society, so race doesn’t play a big role in the book.

Was it sometimes a struggle to keep reading this book?
Yes, but I think that’s mostly related to other things going on in my life.  It’s no fault of the book.

Did I consider DNFing?
No, I was too invested in Rumor/Jude.

Would I read the sequel?
Maybe?  I’m honestly not sure that a sequel is really necessary.

Was there sometimes too much going on?
Yes, for sure.  Sometimes I’d get distracted while reading and have no idea what was going on.  After going back and re-reading, I’d find that approximately eighteen things had happened over the last two pages.  The pacing could be off sometimes, but it wasn’t a bad book.

Why did I give this book four stars?
Because three wasn’t enough and five was too many.  I’m not even being sassy – that’s my subjective opinion.  I appreciate what Wright tried to do here and while I don’t think that she’s written the next Hunger Games or Harry Potter, I think she’s written a book that will resonate with a lot of kids and may be some much-needed representation for teenagers who identify as gay, bisexual, transgender, or asexual.

I received a free ARC of 27 Hours from the publisher (via Netgalley) in exchange for my honest review.

ARC review: Break of Day by Andie J. Christopher

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After being dumped by her fiance, a stodgy accountant who accused her of not being “not exciting,” Carla Hernandez needed to get away.  Her great aunt’s house in Havana, Cuba was the obvious destination.  Once there, Carla would be able to sort herself out and help out Tia Lola, a woman who’s always understood Carla even when the rest of her family didn’t.

Carla didn’t count on big, burly Jonah Kane’s presence.  The heat level between Carla and her ex-fiance was negligible at best and Carla doesn’t expect to be quite so affected by Jonah.  Too bad Jonah thinks that Carla’s nothing more than a spoiled little princess…

I first heard about Break of Day upon learning that I’d somehow subscribed to Andie J. Christopher’s mailing list. This isn’t particularly unusual for me.  In any given day, I probably get twenty to thirty emails from various authors, some that I know, some that I don’t.  I always read them, though, and this one from Andie included the first chapter of this book. I read it as I was getting ready for work, and I was hooked.  I was still thinking about tiny spitfire Carla and Jonah, the gruff photojournalist who towered over her when I got home from work and logged onto Netgalley.  The book was hours away from being archived, but I requested it anyway.  Miraculously, I got an email the next morning that I’d been approved.

Break of Day is exactly what I expected from that preview.  It’s hot.  It’s sexy.  It’s fast-paced.  I loved both characters just as much as I thought I would.  There’s some angst here, but nothing too crazy.  I never wanted to rip my hair out, which is a definite plus for me.  I was a little apprehensive about the accidental baby aspect of the book (not a spoiler – it’s in the blurb!) but I think that it was handled really well.

Break of Day is the third book in Andie J. Christopher’s One Night in South Beach series.  I haven’t read the first two, and it’s not necessary to understand the plot or the characters, but I definitely plan on going back and seeing what I missed.

Final rating: ★★★★☆

I received a free ARC of Break of Day from the publisher (via Netgalley) in exchange for my honest review.

ARC review: Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe by Melissa de la Cruz

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In this gender-swapped retelling of Jane Austen’s classic romance, Darcy Fitzwilliam is a 29-year-old hedge fund manager.  Luke Bennet is her neighbor and fierce childhood rival.  To all outward appearances, Darcy and Luke have hated each other for years.  Back home after an eight-year absence, Darcy and Luke share a heated (albeit drunken) kiss under the mistletoe at her family’s annual Christmas party.  Unfortunately, their pride and a number of circumstances well within their control conspire to keep them apart.

I haven’t read a lot of books by Melissa de la Cruz, but I did really enjoy her YA retelling of Alexander Hamilton’s love life, Alex & Eliza.  While I felt like that retelling was really well-written, well-researched, and generally well-done, I didn’t get the same feeling here.  It’s been a good decade since I last read Pride and Prejudice, but I do not remember Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet being quite this petty.  Let me get into this in more detail.

Darcy is, at 29 years old, a self-made multimillionaire.  Though she comes from a very wealthy family, her father cut her off when she didn’t want to marry the man of his choosing.  Darcy is an intelligent, beautiful, confident woman who absolutely crumbles to pieces when Luke accuses her of being self-centered.  To prove him wrong, she buys his brothers’ way out of juvie – which, to me, just reinforces the fact that she only does good deeds when she gets something out of it.

I think it’s also important to mention the “other woman” / “other man” aspect of this story.  Early reviews are only just starting to roll in, but I haven’t seen this come up yet.  Both Darcy and Luke are in on-again-off-again relationships when they begin their series of mistletoe kisses.  They both further commit to these relationships to – what – really prove to each other that the kisses meant nothing?  It’s so contrived.  Not only are they dating other people, but then they throw themselves into those relationships with such fervor that it’s not fair to anybody.  They get zero sympathy from me.

The story is cute and easy to read – I read the majority of it in one sitting, stopping only because it was nearly midnight and I couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer – but overall, disappointing.  I don’t think that this retelling contributed much to the original story, and while the gender swap is a nice twist on the idea, the sheer pettiness of these characters made it hard to love.

Final rating: ★★☆☆☆

I received a free ARC of Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe from the publisher (via Netgalley) in exchange for my honest review.

Let’s talk about: Reading on vacation

I don’t go on a lot of trips, but when I do, I’m a pretty laid back vacationer.  I’m not the kind of person that needs to plan out every second of every day.  (That totally stresses me out and defeats the purpose of a vacation, in my very humble opinion.)  I’m more of a “let’s do something fun and then go relax at the hotel for a couple hours” kind of person.

That means that I get a lot of reading time, and honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

When I went to Scotland two years ago, I took a pile of books with me. People would’ve thought I was crazy.  I’m sure some people might have said some things like, “Is this girl going on a vacation or is she starting her own library?”  But hey, it’s okay.  Let them talk!

The trip to Scotland was one of my favorite vacations ever, but you know what?  The hotel that promised wifi only had wifi in the lobby.  Which was in a separate building about five minutes from our room.  Even then, access was spotty as hundreds of businessmen hurriedly attempted to check their email and Skype their bosses at the same time.  (I tagged along to my boyfriend’s work conference.)

And you want to know why this didn’t bother me?  BECAUSE I BROUGHT A WHOLE STACK OF BOOKS WITH ME, THAT’S WHY.  I blew through all of my books before I even got to the airport for my flight home.  (And the flight was cancelled, so I found even more reading time in the endless hours of waiting to be rerouted home.)  But that was okay, too, because I brought my Nook as a backup.

So when somebody says to me that I should leave my books at home, I’ll always politely decline.  But then we get to the question of which books to bring.

That’s where the trouble starts.

💙 Do I bring a whole series that I’ve been meaning to read?  But what if I’m not really into it?
💙 Do I bring one or two really long books? But then won’t I just be tempted to stay inside and not do anything?
💙 Do I bring a bunch of short, fluffy books?  But what happens when I want something with a little more substance?
💙 Do I bring my entire library with me?  Just kidding, the plane wouldn’t even be able to take off.

What I usually end up doing is bringing a variety of books that I’ve picked at random (plus my Kindle).  I’ve always got a few ARCs with me, but I’ll throw in a book that’s been hanging out on my TBR for ages.  A cute romantic comedy.  Maybe some dystopian fantasy.  A book that’s sure to rip my heart out and leave me in tears.  A wide variety for any mood that I could possibly be in.  And then, of course, my Kindle, which holds at least a hundred books that I’ll get to eventually.

What books do you take on vacation?  Do you have some kind of plan in place, or do you throw in whatever looks good?

ARC review: Lucas by Sawyer Bennett

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Sparks fly when hockey hotshot Lucas Fournier and museum curator Stephanie Frazier meet at a fancy gala.  A night of unbridled passion turns into something more when the condom breaks and suddenly, Steph and Luc share a connection for the rest of their lives.  The only problem – aside from the obvious – is that Steph doesn’t do commitment.  Can Luc push through her walls and get her to accept the love he wants to give her?

I’ve picked up some Sawyer Bennett books over the years, but they’re just gathering virtual dust on my Kindle shelf.  I know that Sawyer Bennett is a pretty big author in the romance genre, so I was excited to be approved for this ARC on Netgalley.  Unfortunately, aside from the rather heated beginning, this book fell flat for me.

First of all, at least half of the blame lies on me.  I really, really dislike the “surprise baby” trope, and somehow missed that in the blurb.  And this book is really, really focused on the baby aspect.  It’s not that I dislike kids (I love babies) or that kids in my romance novels bother me (they don’t).  I think it’s more that I read romance to escape from my daily life, and the reminder that something as simple as a condom breaking could change my life forever just does not relax me one bit.

Honestly, this book stressed me out.

Now, Luc seemed like a great guy.  I appreciated how open, honest, and straightforward he was.  Stephanie, on the other hand, totally rubbed me the wrong way.  I get that she had a bad childhood, but her whole standoffish vibe and refusal to let Luc in grated on my nerves.

Throughout the book, Luc constantly tries to break down Steph’s walls, and she will not let him in.  When Luc confronts her, there’s this whole attitude of “you can’t upset a pregnant woman” that really bothered me – let me tell you, I am of a certain age where literally everybody I know is having children.  I have had five coworkers give birth to seven children over the last two years.  Relatives and friends have also had babies.  You can upset a pregnant woman.  I mean, obviously, don’t try to stress her out, but absolutely call her out if she’s acting like an idiot!  And Stephanie acted like an idiot throughout a good 75% of this book.

There’s this one conversation which basically goes like this:

Luc: Could you please open up a bit?  I feel like I hardly know you.
Steph: Um, excuse you, I had a bad childhood and I am literally pregnant right now?
Luc: Yeah, but maybe you could like… talk to me?
Steph: HOW DARE YOU ACCUSE ME OF NOT TALKING TO YOU WHEN I HAVE ACTUALLY SHARED VERY MINIMAL FACTS ABOUT MY LIFE!
Luc: But… like… I want to know more.
Steph: This is why I don’t date. I’d rather be single.  You are so mean.
Luc: Okay.  I am legitimately sorry and I can’t believe I actually asked you a question while you’re pregnant with my child.  Carry on.

Yes, there are also scenes where Luc acts like a total jerk, but it’s not completely unwarranted.  There’s always something leading up to it.  His actions never come out of the blue and are, while possibly poorly worded, legitimate responses to Steph’s actions. All Steph does is sit around and complain about how nobody could ever love her when she has a man she even admits is perfect sitting down next to her, trying to love her despite her reluctance.

Anyway.  Can we move on to the plot?  Or, rather, the lack of plot?  Because this book is mostly just gratuitous sex tied together with a very flimsy plot of a) a surprise baby, b) Steph’s familial issues, and c) Steph’s job prospects.  All in all, not a lot of plot for a book that’s ~300 pages.  And, the thing is, the sex scenes aren’t that great.  Sure, the first one is pretty hot, but then they start getting repetitive and I found myself skimming them.

Serious question: Do actual adults in actual relationships really spend this much time having sex?  I mean, I get that it happens when you’re in your first real “adult” relationship, no longer living with your parents, trying to assert your independence or whatever.  But do actual adults really have sex marathons that last for four days? If so, how is that even pleasant? How does your body handle that? Do you really have nothing better to do?

The majority of the book revolves around the fact that Steph is pregnant, and actual pregnant women comment on the fact that they’re pregnant less than Steph does.  Actual women that I know with hyperemesis gravidarum, who are hospitalized for their condition, talk about throwing up less than Steph does.  (I hope that super graphic vomit scene is cut out of the final version of the book because it was absolutely disgusting and does not belong in a romance novel.)

There were a few things within the story itself that rubbed me the wrong way.  I’m just going to break this part up into bullet points:

  • The former curator’s “scandal.”  I’m not going to delve into any spoilers about what happened, but suffice it to say that I don’t really and truly understand what the scandal was.  As long as they’re not hurting anybody, what people do in the privacy of their own home or outside of office hours should have no bearing on their position at work.
  • The old-fashioned OB-GYN. I work in a medical office, so I’m really sensitive to the portrayal of doctors in fiction.  Steph’s OB is completely unprofessional, like to the level where I’m not sure how he’s still practicing.  He makes snide comments about “I didn’t realize you were married” (I didn’t realize that babies couldn’t be conceived without a ring on the finger) and “Stephanie is probably going to want you to leave the room now” (maybe let her make her own decisions).
  • The stripper. Honestly, she came out of left field and gave off these clear “I’m only here as a plot device” vibes – obviously, since we never saw or heard from her again.
  • Simone and Van. The problem I had with these two is that I cared about them more than Steph and Luc.  I saw their relationship coming from a mile away and, at Simone’s first appearance, made a note about how I was sure that she was just there to set up the next romance in the series, and, lo and behold
  • The name dropping. Lucas is #8 in a series, and though it supposedly functions as a standalone, I felt like I was missing quite a bit by not already knowing these characters. There are comments throughout about how X and Y got married or are expecting and there was a clear implication that this should mean something to me, but it just didn’t.

One thing I do really have to commend the publisher on is finding a cover model that actually looks like the description from the book. The last two books I read with faces on the cover looked nothing like the description of the hero, so this was a welcome change.

I guess, all in all, I was disappointed with Lucas.  I wanted to like it a lot more than I did, but it’s not necessarily a bad book if you’re into this kind of story. I can’t see myself going back to read the previous seven books in the series, but I’m still planning to read the Sawyer Bennett books that I already own.

Final rating: ★★☆☆☆

I received a free ARC of Lucas from the publisher (via Netgalley) in exchange for my honest opinion.