Noelle Adams is steadily going downhill for me. She's had some really fun stories with strong characters, both as Noelle and as her other pen name, ClNoelle Adams is steadily going downhill for me. She's had some really fun stories with strong characters, both as Noelle and as her other pen name, Claire Kent, but she's gotten into a rut of super quick cookie-cutter novellas that are underdeveloped in plot, tone, and (her usual strong point) character. Only a few days after reading this one, and I'm struggling to remember what it was even about -- other than that I found it pretty uninspired and insipid. I have a few more of hers that I'll likely work my way through (they're my cheap/free go-to when I don't know what to read, or want something quick between books), but honestly, if I don't see her moving away from exceedingly short books with ridiculously compressed timelines (one week, one night), I'll likely be giving up on her entirely. ...more
2.5, maybe. The characters were by and large obnoxious, and most of the dialogue and internal monologues (which is most of the book), were cheesy and2.5, maybe. The characters were by and large obnoxious, and most of the dialogue and internal monologues (which is most of the book), were cheesy and amateurish. I've never read Samantha Chase, but I expect more of Noelle Adams, at least as far as enjoyable characters go -- even if the plots are often throwaway fluff. But eh, at least it was free....more
Say "kitchen witch" and I'm there. (Especially when said kitchen witch tells me, personally, that I should eat nasturtiums, which I love...) There's jSay "kitchen witch" and I'm there. (Especially when said kitchen witch tells me, personally, that I should eat nasturtiums, which I love...) There's just something so. . . charming and quirky and endearing in stories around the theme of kitchen witchery, and this was no exception. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, it's like magical realism's more universally palatable cousin (and we all know how I feel about magical realism). Think Practical Magic. Just Say Yes is the even more palatable cousin, actually – the kitchen witchiness is subtle, never beating you over the head with quikry magicfulness, which I imagine many people will appreciate.
If you’ve been around for awhile, or follow my Austen event, you’ll probably already be aware that I tend to find Goodnight’s stories equal parts cute, funny, and sexy; they never fail to win me over and put a smile on my face. This was fun and funny and quirky and cute, as expected. There's charm and warmth to her characters, always balanced by a sharp, incisive humor, coated in a veneer of light sarcasm (never bitter or obnoxious, just witty). She seems to do well at fleshing out her casts, too, with great side/peripheral characters that you always want to see more of (which means you’re seeing just the right amount of them – always leave ‘em wanting more, and all that). There’s a great mother/daughter relationship, and other friend and family relationships and interactions that help ground the story and build it up nicely. There were times I questioned Max, the male lead, and whether he’d really be so gung-ho about all of the goings on, and the way Jade consistently pushes him away, but I still think it worked – and frankly, maybe that's my own biases clouding my perception of him. But it was never enough to thrust me out of the story or make me dislike either of the romantic leads, or their relationship.
Speaking of the relationship, which is kind of a central focus in a romance, this one was sexy and fast-building in a way that could go really wrong and feel like it’s fleeting and meaningless, but it managed to keep from going off the rails into cheesy territory. It's – for the most part – believable, and there seems like a solid-enough foundation and chemistry for it to go somewhere after the book has run its course. Goodnight wisely tests the romance and characters, beyond that initial getting-together/will-they-won’t-they. She gives them obstacles, and opportunities to grow stronger together, which is something that really elevates a romance novel for me. It takes it out of the realm of quick fluff, and makes it that much more believable. On top of all that, there’s a good streak of nerdery that pop culture/nerdom fans will appreciate. All in all, I’m glad to hear there's more in the series AND I totally want there to be an offshoot business, with recipes and label designs and all of it.
This one is a mixed bag; there are times where the things I love about Adams' writing shine through, and plenty of other times where it feels like sheThis one is a mixed bag; there are times where the things I love about Adams' writing shine through, and plenty of other times where it feels like she's phoning it in....more
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
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
I've mentioned a few times that I've been in a strange reading funk for months now, where I'm really struggling to concentrate on what I'm reading, anI've mentioned a few times that I've been in a strange reading funk for months now, where I'm really struggling to concentrate on what I'm reading, and stick to one book. It's a pretty serious case of Ooh, Shiny Syndrome, so even when I've been really enjoying a book, I've found myself setting it down in favor of giving something else a try (and then liking that, too, and yet putting it down for something shiny, in its turn). It's like some weird avid reader's-version of an auto-immune disease: my TBR is attacking itself*... Though there has been the oddbook that has broken through this happy-reader's malaise, they've been few and far between, and for the love of all things bookishly holy, praise pen-and-ink, this was one of them.
I fell into this story, face-first and whole-heartedly. It's likely a case of the right book at the right time, and who knows how I'd feel about it years down the line, but right now, it gave me exactly what I needed; I'd read it before falling asleep at night, and pick it up again first thing in the morning. The story and the writing flow beautifully, and it has a cast and world I connected to and wanted to explore. I liked basically all of the characters (good, bad, and indifferent), and how they interacted with each other, and I liked that in nearly all of them, there was gray area to explore. They very rarely fall into the trap of being perfect (and perfectly boring), and characters that you think are probably going to stay one dimensional don't —they are explored and become dynamic as Feyre herself grows and learns more about herself and how to let people in and see them for who they really are. I'm VERY eager to see what becomes of some characters in particular, in future books (Rhys, and surprisingly, Nesta, spring to mind), and I may have already begun calculating the days until ARCs of book 2 are likely to become available...
That's not to say it's wholly without flaws (is there such a thing?); it's a little too on the nose where the curse is concerned, for instance. It's all laid out very specifically, which makes it seem contrived (and also makes me question the relationship more than I'd have liked to), and I find that in general, curses and prophesies that are a little more ambiguous in their terms tend to lead to more nuance and interesting interpretations, and more general believability, when they come into play. But things like this (which were minimal and infrequent, honestly), are very much outweighed by the things this book got right. To that end, I love love love LOVE how sexuality is dealt with in this. I always hesitate to talk about presentations of sex being "empowering" because it can sometimes sound belittling and just sort... I don't know, of over the top, I guess? But I really can't think of a better descriptor for Feyre's relationship with sex, and Maas' presentation of it. Feyre is fully comfortable with herself, sexually, and the entire approoach is very mature and thought out without taking away any of the sizzle — and sizzle it does, in doses, but without every sliding into being cheesy or tawdry. The relationship is built believably, and Feyre's sexuality is natural and VERY well done, feminist in the best way. I was consistently happy with how the entire thing played out, and how much agency Feyre has (another buzzword I hesitate to use), especially in a storyline such as this one. I really have to tip my hat (fun point of fact, I am actually wearing a hat right now) to Maas for this.
I thought the fairy tale inspiration was nicely handled, too. It's there, with lots of little easter eggs for those who are looking, but it's not heavy-handed, and doesn't overpower the story. It remains its own thing, a complete fantasy novel on its own, but with a sort of comfortingly familiar feel to it, as a result of being a retelling. Overall, there's really good balance to the story, both as something complete of itself, and as part of something larger; A Court of Thorns and Roses has a good story arc all its own, but also good build up for what's in store for the rest of the series. It left me satisfied, but also wanting more, which is exactly what a book should do — it's basically just well done and thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish, and I'm eager to see where it goes!
*I should not have to clarify this, but it's the internet, so I feel like I'm probably going to have to: This is a silly, hyperblic comparison, some may even go so far as to call it a joke, and no it is not meant to make light of those who have autoimmune diseases. Or those who've literally had their to-be-read piles turn on them and attack them. [moment of silence] Many papercuts were had that day. ...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
I'm determined to finish this series, but let's face it, they're really all the same book, retold and retold and retold... Makes for good procrastinatiI'm determined to finish this series, but let's face it, they're really all the same book, retold and retold and retold... Makes for good procrastination fodder, though....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
You ever have those late nights where you can’t sleep and you find yourself being sucked down the rabbit hole? No, I don’t want to say sucked. EverythYou ever have those late nights where you can’t sleep and you find yourself being sucked down the rabbit hole? No, I don’t want to say sucked. Everything sounds dirty now... Where you find yourself making bad decisions...Like buying crap from infomercials. Texting people you shouldn’t text. Reading bad books because the reviews crack you up... I found myself reading reviews of this, and then I found myself reading a few pages, just to see, and then a few hours later, I found myself ending the book and saying, Well - that was...that.
Here's the thing: this is not great writing. I doubt this is up for debate. It has a strong tendency towards cheesiness, and some of the euphemisms are pretty cringe-worthy. BUT it's actually sort of hilarious. And not in the, this book is crap, unintentional way. Clayton - and her desperate-for-an-O main character - are genuinely funny. As silly as it all is, it's engaging. So while it may not be great writing, it is good storytelling. So now, at 4am, feeling like my eyeballs are going to dry up and roll out of my head, as silly and cheesy as it could sometimes be, I don't find myself regretting falling down this particular rabbit hole. It was worth it for the surprising laughs and fun voice.
So. That happened.
[Also, for those of you put off by the fact that it started as Twilight fanfic, I can honestly say - don't be. These characters and their plots had to have similarities in name only, because nothing here really resembles Twilight. I'm not saying there's no resemblance, because I guess it peeks through a teensy bit now and again, but really - I could not have bore the last few hours if it had been Bella moaning about her lost O and Edward being a control freak. I really think Twilight must have just been a jumping off point to get Clayton writing, because this isn't a Twilight regurgitation with the, ahem, banging of walls...] ...more
You never really know what to expect when you go into a collection like this. Well, I mean you know one thingto expect, but as for the quality of theYou never really know what to expect when you go into a collection like this. Well, I mean you know one thing to expect, but as for the quality of the actual storytelling, it's a gamble. Fortunately this was a gamble that paid off, because I found myself consistently surprised with the quality of the stories. Yes, each one revolves around some sort of otherworldly/supernatural (smutty) relationship, but for the most part, it seems like all of the authors chose to focus on layering their stories and injecting as much depth and interestingness to the stories and characters.
A lot of people are put off by short stories, I think (and this used to be true of me) because they don't connect - there's just not enough time, not enough text, and so things end up falling a little flat for them emotionally. Many times a reader will say of a short story, 'It was good but I wish it was full-length' or 'There just wasn't enough' ... they are left unsatisfied, feeling as if they've just begun when it ends. But there are a good number of stories in here that I actually found myself connecting to, sometimes rather quickly, and I have to praise that. One in particular, "Cover him with Darkness" by Janine Ashbless, I found very intriguing and perfectly complete as a short story - I didn't want anything else from it. I just thought it was really well done, well-suited to the format, and intriguing. The same is true of "Painted" by Anna Meadows and "Dolly" by Charlotte Stein. All 3 of these stories are completely different with a different feel, but they all had a completeness to them, and a story I loved following.
One other thing I found interesting and a little unexpected was that the stories that most appealed to me and felt the most interesting and complete (and the least cheesy) were the ones that didn't have to do with vampires or weres. It's not necessarily that the vamp/were stories were bad, necessarily, but with few exceptions, I found myself caring about them less. I did really enjoy editor Mitzi Szereto's "The Blood Moon Kiss" which is one of the vamp stories, and is a fun, somewhat tongue in cheek take on vampire culture and a certain popular television show. But the standouts for me were the unexpected ones: artworks come to life, little wax voodoo dolls that could have been very creepy but were somehow sweet, fallen angels or gods or god-knows-what - there was a nice spread of creativity and world-building throughout the collection that I really appreciated.
The only real drawbacks for me were just things that aren't to my taste. Romances and dynamics that just don't appeal to me. (I'm sorry, but I am just not a fan of complete submission, of anyone, to anyone. Collars and cages - aaaand I'm out.) But this I think was actually probably a good thing in its own way because it shows that there really is a little something for everyone.
I think the foreward from Kelley Armstrong (yes, that Kelley Armstrong) was a nice surprise that really seemed to get at the heart of the collection and the somewhat gothic feel of the whole thing. These stories are about atmosphere and Otherness, and amping up the latant sexual tension of the gothic classics into something more palpable. Really well done.
[Side note: If you're wondering if you want to venture to read a book labeled 'paranormal erotica romance', I would employ the cock-test I used in my review of and Falling, Fly sometime back: how do you feel about the word 'cock'? If you just cringed, skip this. If you sat up straighter and said 'where?' go out and grab a copy.]...more