3.5 This was definitely one of her cuter romances, to the point that I wish it hadn't been a novella. I would have really liked to see this relationshi3.5 This was definitely one of her cuter romances, to the point that I wish it hadn't been a novella. I would have really liked to see this relationship be a slow-burn, and build some anticipation....more
I enjoy Noelle Adams as a fun diversion, but sometimes it feels like she's phoning it in. Things are a little too easy and too simple, and I would likI enjoy Noelle Adams as a fun diversion, but sometimes it feels like she's phoning it in. Things are a little too easy and too simple, and I would like some more genuine conflict and lingering tension in her stories in general. That said, this was cute, quick and fun, as all of her books generally are....more
As I'd mentioned in my rewind, I have a feeling that people are going to end up at opposite ends of the like/dislike spectrum when it comes to thi3.75
As I'd mentioned in my rewind, I have a feeling that people are going to end up at opposite ends of the like/dislike spectrum when it comes to this book -- I don't think there will be a lot of middle ground, and it certainly won't be the book for everyone. I, myself, wasn't entirely convinced in the beginning, because I didn't really love the main character, which made me feel a little disconnected from the story, which can then translate to indifference, which is the death-knell of any book. I read something recently about "unlikable" characters that's been bothering me a bit (among other things that I read in the piece, and it's something I want to address in the coming days, because I have things to say), so I want to clarify by this that I don't think you need to have a lovable, huggable main character for a book to be successful, and unlikable can mean a lot of things; some use it to mean poorly written/realized, but when I use it, I'm almost always going to mean, kind of an ass. Zoe's kind of an ass. Her boyfriend is most definitely an ass. Rocher, yep, he's an ass, too. (I like Agathe, though. She gets a pass.) So it's a book peopled with characters that don't necessarily make you love them or root for them, which can leave people feeling ambiguous (or disconnected, as I said), and that's why I think it may be divisive and cause some irritated reactions.
But a book with unlikable characters is still capable of being successful, and developing a rich, interesting world -- plenty of classics and acclaimed books have unlikable characters; some unlikable characters inexplicably become fan-favorites -- so I'm always willing to go with it and see how things turn out, especially when it's as quick a read as this. And fortunately, though I was so hesitant with Zoe in the beginning, and found her to be a bit bratty, the story remains engaging and interesting, and has a streak of honesty (ironic, amidst the dishonesty at the heart of the book) that kept me entertained and pulled along, and I'm glad of that. Because for all that the characters are kinda d-bags, it all became more amusing for me as it went on, all the way up to the twist at the end, which I won't spoil, other than to say, that's another thing that might irritate people, but I found it oddly delightful. It was an absurd little bit of poetic justice that, even though heavy-handed, was so darkly humorous and fitting that I couldn't help but be tickled by it.
I found the simple style and muted colors of the art expressive and charming, and the clean understatedness really worked well with the story. Again, that may not be to everyone's taste, but stylistically, it was distinct and I felt it suited the story, and added to the overall feel. So all in all, there are certainly "outs" to the story -- there are things across the board that may make some readers check out and not like it. But there are plenty of "ins" too, and the expressiveness and personality of the story, characters and style, combined with the poetic justice and humor of the end work together to make it something I actually quite enjoyed, and would recommend -- for the right reader.
2.5, right in the middle of the road. I don't even know why I can't stay away from Noelle Adams/Claire Kent books, but at this point, it's just a give2.5, right in the middle of the road. I don't even know why I can't stay away from Noelle Adams/Claire Kent books, but at this point, it's just a given. I can't quit them....more
Like my thoughts on Beastkeeper, this is an interesting one for me: on one level, I really like it, and on another, I have some pretty major issues wiLike my thoughts on Beastkeeper, this is an interesting one for me: on one level, I really like it, and on another, I have some pretty major issues with it. We'll start with the things I liked:
This is a retelling of The Princess & the Pea set in a crime family, about a girl with a rare disease that makes her incredibly delicate, and that is kinda genius. The Princess & the Pea can be a kind of problematic story, and it's certainly always been one that required a HUGE suspension of disbelief: there's a girl who's so fragile, a single pea under a massive stack of mattresses (which somehow don't just squish the pea into oblivion) causes her massive discomfort; this is somehow a desirable trait... It's one of the more odd fairy tales out there (though by no means the oddest). Both the affliction that Penelope has, and her status as a result among the various crime Families, really works to tie in the retelling aspects and make it actually believable. There are a lot of clever nods to the story, most of which subtle enough to be unobtrusive, but well-developed enough to add that extra layer.
(And then some are more over-the-top, like one of the male leads, a "prince" of a rival Family, whose name is Ming, but she calls him Char, so he is literally Prince CharMing, and it's so cutesy and on the nose that I simultaneously chuckled and gagged a little...)
The crime family aspect, and even some of the general plot, hit some of the same notes as the Birthright series, which I love. Penny isn't cold like Anya, though, so it's like getting the plot elements -- crime family, questions of legalization, constant danger, grief for those lost -- but filtered through a completely different character. This may be a comparison that will be lost on those who haven't read All These Things I've Done and the rest, and it may even be personal to me entirely, but I think if you like any of the things I mentioned, either here, just now, or in any of my reviews for the Birthright series, then you may like this as well.
And speaking of grief, it does that extremely well. I wasn't expecting it, and I didn't feel that I was particularly emotionally invested (and also, I saw some of the grief coming), and yet it still hit me like a punch to the gut. I barely knew the characters at the point that things start to unravel, and yet I felt their pain, and I felt for them. The core characters, those affected, said things and did things in their grief that felt so real to me that I grieved -- it all felt very real, and it reminded me of my own moments of grief and loss, of witnessing the grief of those I care about, in a really visceral way. I'm honestly still a little amazed at how real the pain felt at times, and how well it was carried through the story
Sometimes everything was far too easy. Penny spends her life being coddled and living in a perpetual state of fear for her life, essentially, so that even though you know she wants to break out a bit and experience life, it's still jarring when Penny's finally off-estate and running for her life, health at a near all-time low, and acting rather recklessly, frankly. I mean, I love the subplot of her finding her independence and her voice, and proving to herself (and everyone else) that she's more capable than the china doll they treat her as. But it goes beyond that simple desire to live life, into basically flouting all the rules she's ever known -- which yes, I get, is often a teenager/independence thing... But when you're on the run for your life, could easily DIE, even just left to your own devices, I'd think you'd be a little bit more careful, no matter how much you hate that word...
To also be seemingly already in love with someone she's always known, to then be so immediately and obsessively drawn to someone new, whom she's just met, who she knows nothing about and who followed her home and she keeps finding waiting outside her apartment (keep in mind: she's in hiding, so people watching her apt should set off MAJOR warning bells...) -- it all starts to get a little TSTL, which is a term I hate, but come on now! And even though I pegged who this new guy was immediately, and I understand the need to work him in somehow, I have to say, I didn't love the way it played out. Though it ended up kinda endearing, it took me time to wrap my head around, and it was time that I felt like it should have taken Penny. It happened to fast to feel like there was any real basis for it; it reads as a flight of fancy, on both their parts. Forced love-triangles aren't my thing; nor are ultra-convenient coincidences. And to accomodate this new player in town, it has to throw other things into chaos, which is also something I saw coming a mile away, and also didn't like how that played out. Again, it felt shallow and somewhat baseless, and for a story that started strong and was reminding me of a fast favorite, it sure didn't end that way. The shift was so dramatic that I almost stopped reading.
In the end, I did enjoy myself, and am even curious enough to see how it plays out, that I'll likely read the next book -- eventually. I think plenty of readers will be able to get lost in and enjoy this, though, and if you are a lover of fairy tale retellings, it's worth it if only for the clever (and actually pretty solid) spin on The Princess & the Pea. But it is a mixed bag, and if some of these things are pet peeves of yours, know that going in, because this may not be the book for you....more
2.5 I don't know why, don't bother asking. It was free on Amazon, and it was late and I didn't want to get out of bed to find the book I should have b2.5 I don't know why, don't bother asking. It was free on Amazon, and it was late and I didn't want to get out of bed to find the book I should have been reading, so I told myself that the idea of modern-day mail order brides could be interesting (and it was youtube-based, btw, and not email), so despite the fact that the cover is pretty meh, I thought I'd give it a try. It was fine, mostly forgettable, completely unbelievable, and why does everybody gotta go preggers-crazy in romances these days? But yeah, quick and free, and fairly painless....more
This popped up in my feed one night from someone commenting on another's review, and because I'm fascinated by the recent trend in "Billionaire" ev2.5
This popped up in my feed one night from someone commenting on another's review, and because I'm fascinated by the recent trend in "Billionaire" everything (like, seriously. Scroll through the indie romances and they're all Billionaire something or other), I thought it'd amuse me for a time. And it did. Eventually. Most of the time, I just found it horribly tacky. The book opens with a soldier's death, and yet that never stops people from being tacky at his funeral, at his family home, at the family business... And by people, I mostly mean his "devoted" brother, Carter, but not just Carter. These characters are gross, and beyond the parental figures (Carter's parents, Gwen's foster father, and Gwen herself), I found them fairly unlikable a majority of the time (and sometimes downright repugnant). I kept hanging on in the hopes that the ship would right itself (and because it was super quick anyway), and eventually, mostly, I think it did - but it could have done with a lot more time in the end of the story for me to believe in the development and personality shifts of the characters.
But if this is your type of book and you can look past the tackiness, there are worse ways to waste 99¢, I'm sure, and it does have its moments of being effecting. It's worth it for Gwen's character, at least. (But if you're going in looking for abundant sexytimes, skip it. Tension, yes, but beyond that, not so much...)...more
Since I liked the Claire Kent works, I thought I'd give her other penname a try, and this was the first I stumbled across. Meh. In the beginning, it wSince I liked the Claire Kent works, I thought I'd give her other penname a try, and this was the first I stumbled across. Meh. In the beginning, it was a flat out NO. Really, really rough. It did get better, but didn't hold a candle to the character development or the chemistry of Escorted, or even Nameless....more