Gabe and Lea are the only ones that don’t see that they belong together. A Little Something Different is interestingly told from fourteen different poGabe and Lea are the only ones that don’t see that they belong together. A Little Something Different is interestingly told from fourteen different points of view of everyone around them, including a squirrel and a bench. Yes, you read that right. Gabe is terribly shy despite the fact that he does in fact like Lea and Lea, try as she might, she can’t seem to get through to him. Does he just not like her? Does he have a girlfriend? Is he gay? Oh the mental drama we subject ourselves to when trying to determine if a crush likes us back.
The most unique aspect about this book is the style of writing. While it wasn’t my favorite at first and the quirky few (namely the squirrel and bench) did seem rather odd, it definitely grew on me. I don’t know about you, but I’m a total people watcher, and it was pretty adorable how so many people took an interest in Gabe and Lea and their seemingly inevitable relationship. Even Victor, the moody kid in their Creative Writing class, couldn’t resist taking an interest in their shenanigans:
“...you two assholes are the most annoyingly cute thing I’ve ever seen. I’m annoyed at myself for even using the word ‘cute’. I feel sick to my stomach over using that word.”
If you were wondering, I’m a total Victor.
So while it was all cute and fluffy fun, there were some downsides that I can’t help but mention. I did wish that Gabe and Lea’s points of view were also included in the mix because while we do get a feel for their thoughts via their friends, it would have been better to have it firsthand. Another thing is I honestly couldn’t see why everyone thought Lea and Gabe were perfect for each other, especially with all the one-sided conversations Lea had with him where he literally said nothing. This happened for MONTHS. There’s shy (and yes, I get it that he was dealing with other issues as well) but after a point I wondered why Lea seriously even bothered. Their interactions with one another gave the story a very adolescent feel and when suddenly they’re at a party getting drunk it kind of threw me for a bit. And then there was the unnecessary lady-bashing when everyone thought Gabe liked this other girl in their Creative Writing class:
“There really is no point,” Lea says. “Even if he does like girls, he’s totally into this girl Hillary in creative writing.” “Sounds like Hillary is a skank queen of Cockblock-ville.”
But despite Victor and I’s shared moodiness, I still found myself charmed by this simple and sweet tale. It’s definitely one to save for when you’re in need of some serious fluff....more
‘It did not matter that this world was far from as simple as she might have thought. And it absolutely did not matter that heMy rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
‘It did not matter that this world was far from as simple as she might have thought. And it absolutely did not matter that her heart was… mis-behaving. She had come to the palace with a clear purpose. The Caliph of Horasan had to die.’
Shahrzad, sixteen years old, has been battling with her grief since her best friend was murdered by her husband, Khalid Ibn al-Rashid, Caliph of Khorasan. For reasons unknown, he takes a bride each night only to have her killed in the morning. When Shahrzad actually volunteers to marry him, her family and childhood sweetheart, Tariq, are devastated. To everyone’s surprise, she survives the dawn and begins to put her plan into action: to find the weakness of the Caliph of Khorasan that will help her to avenge her murdered best friend. She begins to realize though that his only weakness is Shahrzad herself.
Reading has been a bit of a struggle for me lately and I tentatively started this one not expecting to be able to stick with it. I also had some serious doubts that it would end up being something that lived up to the hype for me, especially after recently reading another super-hyped story that ended up being major disappointment for me. Imagine my surprise when I couldn’t stop flipping the pages, couldn’t stop wondering what was going to happen next, and couldn’t keep the ridiculous grin off my face watching all the emotions unfold. Oh man, the feels. They got me. For the most part, the story is told from the point of view of Shahrzad, however, we’re also given scenes through the eyes of Khalid and Tariq. All three points of view intertwine to form a most enthralling tale.
“As silver-tongued as a viper.” He laughed. “Tell me, my lady, do you ever miss a moment to strike?” Shahrzad smiled, and it was brilliant and biting, all at once. “I fear that would be unwise, my lord. Especially in a den of snakes.”
I loved Shahrzad. She was wonderfully snarky and witty and courageous and bold. The addition in her story to being a prowess at the bow and arrow only sealed the deal to my love of her. I had my doubts at first that the story could pull off credibly Shahrzad falling in love with Khalid. I mean come on, she married her best friends murderer with the intent to kill thim herself. How possibly couldhat be turned around legitimately? Well, I’m happy to say that it was done extremely well and I was completely sold. The passion between those two… that’s where that perma-grin I mentioned comes into play.
‘Her lips were hers one moment. And then they were his. The taste of him on her tongue was like sunwarmed honey. Like cool water sliding down her parched throat. Like the promise of all her tomorrows in a single sigh. When she wound her fingers in his hair to draw her body against his, he stilled for breath, and she knew, as he knew, that they were lost. Lost forever. In this kiss. This kiss that would change everything.’
This could have easily been insta-love, but instead it was a beautiful, slow and steady build up of honest emotion. It was a lovely thing to witness and I couldn’t tear my eyes away. Khalid even won me over at the same time. His pain and grief over what he felt he had to do, was his own personal suffering and it showed. I loved his own path to self-realization and how he became more confident in his roles and the decisions he had to make rather than sitting back and accepting his lot in life. I can’t wait to see how that continues in the next installment.
I had massive love for this book but there were a few aspects that could have made this better for me. First, I wanted to know more about Shahrzad’s family, especially her father, and there seems no doubt we’ll find out more in The Rose and the Dagger. The magical aspects of the novel were incredibly interesting and while I wished there was more of it, I appreciated the subtlety of it all. Second, Tariq’s character was a major low point and I disliked his point of view sections even if I can understand how necessary they were to see things from that aspect, to learn what all was being set in motion. Tariq is Shahrzad’s childhood sweeheart and while I get the whole “do whatever it takes to protect her” he got a bit manic about it, especially once he started realizing she was changing her mind about Khalid. He jumped to the conclusion that something was being done to her to make her change her typically immutable mind, which I get, but could have ultimately done without. Essentially I just wanted more kissy scenes. All the kissy scenes and all the swoons, please.
The Wrath and the Dawn is a wistful re-imagining of Arabian Nights with a forbidden romance that will leave you completely enchanted. I’m both eager and dreading the concluding story, The Rose and the Dagger, and desperately wishing for a satisfying ending that won’t leave my heart in tatters.
I received this book free from First to Read Program in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review....more
Lou owns a small French restaurant named Luella’s in the heart of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She’s engaged to be married, however, she tries to surprise hiLou owns a small French restaurant named Luella’s in the heart of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She’s engaged to be married, however, she tries to surprise him with a coconut cake for his birthday only to find a woman in his apartment. In lingerie. She doesn’t take the news well and the restaurant suffers from it that night, which also happens to be the night the local food critic visits Luella’s.
Her little restaurant begins a downward spiral after his scathing review but things are starting to look up when she meets someone new. Al is from the UK and has yet to be shown around Milwaukee so Lou agrees to be his guide. She takes him to see everything from the best restaurants to museums and festivals. They begin to fall for each other during their non-dates realizing just how much they have in common, but neither of them know that Al was the food critic that caused Lou to lose her restaurant.
The Coincidence of Coconut Cake is a delightful, lighthearted romance story that is also a love story to delicious foods and the city of Milwaukee. The food descriptions had me re-declaring my love for food. And also making a raid on my kitchen. And maybe planning a trip to Milwaukee to see all these wonderful sounding sights for myself.
‘He started with the much hailed cheese curds, hot and oozing a little of the white cheddar; the outside was crispy and salty when he bit. A string of cheese dangled from his mouth to his hand as he pulled the cheese from his lips.’
‘Ingredients in baking were mixed in a specific way to create a specific result; a lot like relationships. If people didn’t blend well together, you’d never get the outcome you wanted.’
The requisite drama in this one was palpable and while it all came to a predictable resolution this was still a completely satisfying story. There’s something about the components of a basic foodie fiction book that I can’t help but fall in love with. Delicious food descriptions + quirky characters + adorable romances = me, head over heels. And The Coincidence of Coconut Cake has all the right ingredients.
P.S. There’s even a delicious coconut cake recipe in the back pages that I can’t wait to try myself.
I received this book free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review....more
An Ember in the Ashes was one of my most anticipated of the year. I knew very little about it going in, only that it's a fantasy inspired by ancient RAn Ember in the Ashes was one of my most anticipated of the year. I knew very little about it going in, only that it's a fantasy inspired by ancient Rome (Gladiator, anyone?) and there was already extensive praise from many bloggers. I'm sad to say that I not only found this extremely tedious but shockingly uninteresting based on the seemingly exciting subject matter.
'You will burn, for you are an ember in the ashes. That is your destiny.'
In this world, the Martials rule the Empire and have done so for the last 500 years since they defeated the Scholars. Laia and her brother live with their grandparents after both their mother and father were killed for being a part of the Scholar Resistance. When her brother becomes privy to secrets the Martials would prefer to keep safe, they send Masks, elite soldiers, to capture him. Laia manages to escape but the guilt she bears for running instead of trying to save her brother eats her alive. When she seeks out the Resistance in order to ask for their help in saving her brother, she finds herself agreeing to become a slave, in exchange for their help, and signed up for a job that no one has survived: spying on the terrifying Commandant of Blackcliff Military Academy.
Elias is a soldier in training at Blackcliff Military Academy but has dreams of one day escaping from the vows he made and from his mother, the Commandant. Just when he thinks his plans are secure and he'll be able to consider himself free, he is named an Aspirant, a candidate for the throne if he can beat out the three other competitors in the Trials. He has no desire to rule, however, refusing to compete is a death sentence. When Elias and Laia meet, even though they should be enemies, they both recognize that they share a common goal to one day become truly free.
I had to line it all out again because even just that snippet has me dumbfounded that it managed to be so dull. First and foremost in a fantasy world for me is the focus on world-building. The previously mentioned Roman inspiration is apparent and fairly detailed, but while this is also meant to be a fantasy that's where the world-building got real choppy. There were fantasy creatures that we're told were beings in stories the characters learned when they were children and they basically came out of nowhere with no explanation. Some fed off Laia's sadness but the fact that she was able to see them was apparently rare but it was never mentioned again. It just wasn't logical to me.
Next up in my list of letdowns: the characters. The chapters alternate between Elias and Laia's points of view and these are the most inexplicably dull characters, ever. Absolutely nothing they did was ever any interest to me. The fact that Laia was constantly being abused throughout the entirety of the book should have at least drawn a modicum of sympathy from me but for some reason there was none. Their obligatory romance also completely lacked any sort of passion which made me care even less for the duo if that was even possible. There is also somewhat of a love triangle (with a dude with red hair and freckles -- in Rome? Yeah, think on that one for a sec.) and I didn't like him any better. There was literally nothing I enjoyed about this one, honestly. The only reason it's not getting one star is because it wasn't horrible it just wasn't compelling at all. I found myself reading the last 7% of the story, one of the main characters is facing certain death (although let's face it, something miraculous always happens to save the day so I wasn't too concerned), bombs are going off, the crowd is in chaos... *yawn* hey, I need to organize my filing cabinet. No exaggeration. It took me a full two days to finish the last 10%. I really should have just quit but there's always that inkling of hope where you think something amazing is going to happen at the end to turn it all around. (view spoiler)[It doesn't. (hide spoiler)]
No, what we do get for the majority of this unreasonably long book is a lot of violence and bloodshed, primarily towards the female slave who is always either cowering in fear from threats, being whipped, fighting off rape, etc. I understand that this is all possibly meant to show how a slave lived in ancient times but there's violence and then there's gratuitous. I felt that line was crossed often. There were few redeemable females in the whole of this book. The Commander was sadistic and whipped her slaves for being a few minutes late with tea and even had another of her slaves EYEBALL ripped out when they were only five years old. She's a real peach. I loved the concept of Helene, the sole female Mask in her class, but instead of remaining that badass, empowered female she morphed overnight into this simpering fool when she falls for Elias. The jealous aspect was something I really could have done without. I did enjoy the scenes with Cook in it (another slave) and Izzi was tenacious despite the threat of violence as well so there's that at least.
The plot moved at a snails pace. Much of the story is spent with Elias undergoing the trials and Laia trying to survive while still attempting to figure out how to save her brother. The ending is one I pretty much saw coming but still managed to feel so very staged and engineered and just blah. Nothing was really resolved despite my understanding that this was meant to be a standalone. I've heard differing opinions on this though. Apparently it could be a series if the publisher opts to pick up other installments? But based on that ending it wasn't close to being resolved. I can't say I'm interested enough in picking up any future installments even if they do happen.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Yes, throw a fit because your new husband is the fucking worst and you never should have married him because he's only willing to take a month off forYes, throw a fit because your new husband is the fucking worst and you never should have married him because he's only willing to take a month off for a honeymoon instead of the year you wanted. Gawd. Becky is a complete and utter nightmare....more