“Unbeautiful”

So this one.

This one, I stumbled on.

This one, I fully expected to quit halfway through.

This one, took me a long time to get over.

 

Unbeautiful by Jessica Sorenson is a two part series (Part 2 is Untamed) that follows a girl named Emery, and a boy named Ryler.

Emery, for as long as she can remember, has had the most perfectly structured life.  School is top priority, as well as looking the part of the head cheerleader, dating the perfect guy, and always completing her studies. But at night, when she should be having family meals and gossiping with her friends, her world turns dark.  Shackled to her bed at night as punishment for questioning the way her town behaves after sunset, dark figures standing watching her sleep, bars put on her windows so she can never dare sneak out again, even having grown up with this treatment, Emery knows it’s wrong.  She plans and schemes on how she’s going to make her escape, because there is only one shot at it.

 

Ryler has had the world against him since birth.  A mom who didn’t want him, a dad who was apathetic, then foster parents who were only in it to collect checks and have human punching bags, Ryler ends up in juvie for two years for protecting a foster sibling from a grown man who used Rylers angry past against him, scaring Ryler so badly his vocal cords no longer work. After juvie, Ryler has no where to go but with his bio dad, who uses him to settle gambling debts. Unfortunately, Ryler can’t actually help get money, so it becomes his life the mobsters want.  On the run, the FBI take notice and recruit Ryler for their own reasons, to become an informant to take down the main mobster.

 

After Emery makes her escape, she ends up renting the apartment above Ryler. Both full of secrets, they become close fast, realizing they both needed a connection to each other.  But can they keep a budding relationship alive when so many secrets are between them?

Emery’s parents are threatening to take her back home.  Ryler’s life is on the line with every lie he tells in his double life.  Emery’s every move is still being manipulated by her family, and now she’s having hallucinations.  Ryler is falling for the quiet girl in the apartment above his, but how can he allow her into his life when there’s danger around every corner?

This book, the whole series, will keep you, not just on the edge of your seat, but will also keep you feeling absolutely unsettled and off kilter.  There are some slow parts to it, but by paying attention to these parts, everything will click. Not only are there parts of the story that will be made more available to you, but it will also keep you in the zone of where this author needs you, once all is revealed at the end.

***I got this book on Amazon kindle in a bundle set, containing both Unbeautiful and Untamed.

Throne of Glass

This is the first book in a series of the same name.  If you do not want to oblige yourself to a series that’s set to last a few more years, I suggest you leave this one be.

Celaena Sardothien has endured a year in the salt mines of Endovier, at the hands of a King who has orchestrated the fall of many kingdoms and lands, including Celaena’s own city.

As a well known assassin, imagine her surprise when the Captain of the King’s Guard, a man named Chaol, comes to collect her from the mines, only to plant her in front of none other than the prince to the King of Adarlan, the son of the very man that put her in the salt mines and slaughtered her own people.

The prince, a raven haired, arrogant, beautiful man by the name of Dorian, has a proposition for Celaena.  His father has decided he needed a Champion.  Someone to do his dirty work for him. In order to find this Champion, the king has decided to host a competition.  In order to annoy his father in the way only a son knows how, the prince has decided that none other than the Assassin of Adarlan will be his pawn in the competition.  He was not expecting, nor were the guards around him, to find out the assassin was a 17 year old girl, malnourished and beaten from the mines.

Celaena, with her honed senses only slightly dulled by the year in the darkness of the mines, finds this her only hope of ever coming out of the situation alive.  She’s then faced with the dilemma, does she work for the king who killed her people, and so many other innocents, or does she stay in the mines to die like the rest?

She chooses freedom, even if that freedom comes with a different type of shackles. So now she must find her strength again, because there are a handful of other competitors that would love to watch her die.  She must find out how far her hypocrisy will stretch when it comes to the king and his son. She must also decide what she is willing to do for her freedom.

She finds herself befriending the people of her enemy, realizing that they may not all be bad.  She, and everyone around her, are bundled in their own secrets.  Once bonds start forming, secrets start slowly trickling out, and they all begin to realize that none of them are who they appear to be.

This story, and the entire series, is a showcase of how we evolve to be either our own worse enemies, or our own warriors.

This book effectively weaves real world issues with the fantasy of elves, royalty, magic, and relationships.  No one is who they appear to be.  Everyone has a secret. And allies and enemies never end up on the side they began on.

I’ve recommended this series to everyone that asks for a good series to get invested into.  The whole thing starts with a smart ass, sassy assassin who walks you through the different techniques it takes to kill a man, only out for herself and so immersed in her own lies, she sometimes forgets who she started her life out as, only to end up unearthing, not only her own past, but the lies and masks of everyone around her, for better or worse.  The characters in this series are so multi-faceted, and have so many dimensions, they feel like real people.  At times you wonder if these aren’t long lost figures that have drifted to the fringe of our consciousness, brought to real life by Sarah Maas.  There’s witty banter, there’s touching scenes, there’s heart wrenching moments and there’s feel good interactions.  This series has it all and it’s not done yet.

Ready Player One

Okay, so yes, I’m a little late this particular bandwagon.

My brother told me about this book months ago, so I, naturally, procrastinated getting it, because that’s just what I do.

But holy freaking frick, y’all.  Once I finally cracked it open (so to speak) I couldn’t put it away.

If you enjoy massive amounts of ’80’s references, if you like the thought of living in a virtual reality, or if you like watching the underdog take on The Man, then this is definitely the companion for you!

This story starts on the edge of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, mere decades in the future.  We follow the narrative of a Wade Watts, a teenager growing up in “the stacks”, which are common by this time.  The Stacks are exactly what they sound like, mobiles homes and even vans, stacked one on top the other, in badly built scaffold like structures.  Both parents are dead and he must survive while living with his aunt and multiple other people in one tiny, cramped trailer house, while also scheming ways to stay connected to the OASIS.

The OASIS, the Ontologically Anthropocentric Sensory Immersive Simulation, is basically a virtual reality world. If you have access to WiFi, you can get into OASIS.  Like our main man Wade, you can go to public school in the OASIS, you can go on “quests”, and if you have money, you can visit other worlds with in the OASIS.  Any type of world you can imagine, they have it.  As with any type of interactive games, you have an avatar and a screen name.

What makes this story so much fun, it the fact that we do not know any more than the main character.

The creator of the OASIS has passed away.  From what we can glean from in between the lines, we can assume this man, James Halliday, was somewhere on the autistic spectrum.  We know he had no heirs.  He had no wife or husband. He was isolated and had only one good friend.

Before passing away, Halliday created an Easter Egg somewhere in the OASIS. In his video that launched on the day he died, he explains the rules and clues to find this egg.  Anyone who has ever done quests, either on home console games or in online interactive games, knows all about Easter Eggs and the adventures to find them.  Halliday even added extra motivation to find his Easter Egg. Whoever finds the Easter Egg, wins his OASIS empire and massive amounts of wealth.

Obviously, most people would love to have this type of power and wealth. The poor kid living in The Stacks in Oklahoma, the mid-20’s trying to make ends meet, and also the mighty corporations who want to monopolize this new way of living.

Halliday goes on to explain that the players must find three different keys, to open three different doors, that will all give clue to send you to the Easter Egg.  Whoever first gets this Easter Egg, wins the empire.

So that’s the premise of the story.  Poor kid does his very best to survive in absolute poverty, has to get creative to even finish his high school diploma, let alone find an Easter Egg that could hand his billions and an entire online Empire, while outrunning the corporations who want nothing more than to take over every single facet on the virtual world.  So where does the 1980’s come in? Well, Halliday grew up in the 1980’s, and has always expressed his love for everything from John Hughes movies to Atari and one of the first Apple computers. Riddled through out this story is every song you loved from the era, clothing styles that take you back, movies and tv shows you almost forgot about, and technology that paved the way for us to have what we have today.

My only complaint with this story is the amount of descriptive writing involved.  Just like some Anne Rice books, I don’t need to know what color the flowers are on the wallpaper unless it’s pertinent to the story.  There are some places where the majority of the chapter is simply description or explanative words.  Yes I understand Ernest Cline needs his audience to understand this world that came from his head. But I feel there is a certain amount of trust you should give your readers to be able to intelligently infer certain aspects.

BUT, if you can’t stand the thought of reading all this yourself, you can always get the audiobook. Bonus to this? It’s read by Will Wheton.  You’re welcome.

“How To Date a Douchebag”

Yep, you totally read the title correctly.

“How to Date a Douchebag” by Sara Ney.

In case the title didn’t tip you off, if you’re easily offended…..At All……just walk away from this series.  The entire bit of it.  Seriously.

 

If, however, you understand character development and have a wicked sense of humor, please, pull up a comfy chair, and listen to what I have to say about this amaze-balls book I just read in record time.

From the first “*eye roll*” in the dedication section, to the very last at the ending of this book, Sara Ney takes up through the minds of two very lost individuals.

Oddly, the majority of the story takes place in a campus library.  I know, right? But come on, it’s college.  Everyone ends up there eventually, why not have a hot librarian fantasy or two?

Our two main peeps are Jameson, a ballet flat and pearls kind of girl.  She owns cardigans in every flavor, likes puffy coats, black framed glasses and studying over socializing.  It’s hinted through out the book that she once was a little more wild, but when she left for college, she stuck to the straight and narrow. The other is Sabastion “Oz” Osbourne.  He’s a wrestler on his way to the Olympics, known for panty-dropping, partying, and acting as though he owns the world, while hiding the fact that he’s angry over a sexual assault situation that happened with his sister, poor as a begger, and is known to have a feeling or two.

When Oz’s friends see Jameson studying alone, what else would they do but place a bet that the uptight princess would sneer at Oz for daring to breath the air around her. Oz, the cocksure asshole that he is, bets he can get her to kiss him.  One, because she’s a challenge (told you it gets a little offensive), and two, because he’s dead broke and needs the money. He’s just full of shock when, not only does she agree to kiss him, for half the profit of course, but that it makes his heart pitter patter and his dick twitch like he’s 12 years old discovering porn for the first time.

What follows is the typical couples dance when neither wants to admit to their feelings, or let anyone else know they have feelings at all.

So the final questions become, will Jameson take a chance on a man who is loud and proud about one night stands and who’s never made a commitment in his life? Will Oz realize his own shortcomings when it comes to matters of the heart, and what’s really important to him in his life?

This book is steamy, near X rated, offensively sarcastic in all the right ways.  It’ll hook you from the beginning and make you fall for these characters like they’re your new best friends, and you just *have* to know where they all end up.how to date a douchebag2

What Age Comes Enlightenment?

*Squeezes bridge of nose between thumb and forefinger*
*Shakes head almost imperceptibly*
*Drops hand and raised head, nostrils flared and eyes bright with determination*
*Takes a deep breath*

I DO NOT CARE IF A MAN FINALLY REALIZES HOW HIS ACTIONS AND WORDS ARE HARMFUL TO ALL WOMEN, ALL BECAUSE HE WATCHED HIS DAUGHTER DEAL WITH DAILY SEXUAL HARASSMENT

I DO NOT CARE THAT IT TAKES A MIDDLE AGED WHITE WOMAN FINALLY ADMIT TO THE RAMPANT RACISM IN THIS COUNTRY, ONLY AFTER SEEING IT WITH HER OWN EYES

I DO NOT CARE THAT A PARENT ONLY RECOGNIZES ALL LGBTQ HAVE MOST OF SOCIETY TO FEAR BY JUST BEING THEMSELVES BECAUSE THEIR SON, WHO HAS BEEN BULLIED MOST OF HIS SCHOOL LIFE, FINALLY ADMITTED HE WAS GAY

I DO NOT CARE HOW A PERSON IS FINALLY ABLE TO SEE HOW OUR SOCIETY FAILS ITS MOST VULNERABLE.  I DO NOT CARE IF THEY MUST EXPERIENCE IT THEMSELVES IN ORDER TO BELIEVE US.

I WILL NOT SILENCE SOMEONE’S VOICE, WHO’S RISES WITH MY OWN ALL BECAUSE I DON’T HAPPEN TO LIKE THEY DIDN’T BELIEVE ME BEFORE

STOP SILENCING OUR ALLIES BECAUSE THEY DIDN’T REACH ENLIGHTENMENT THE WAY YOU THINK THEY SHOULD HAVE

Oh Tijan, my Tijan…

Oh, Tijan.

No, not the village.

The author!! The amazing, beautiful story-teller that I willingly sold my soul to for every last book she has written.

She’s one of those authors you just circle back around to, no matter how far you’ve moved away from her.  Her books are captivating and gut-wrenchingly real.  There are scenes that feel so visceral that you may have to set the book aside for a moment…but you always pick it right back up because you just *have* to know what happens next.

I recently started the “Fallen Crest” series again.  When I was wracking my brain, going through the massive catalogue of books I’d read in my brain, this series floated to the top.  I remember the intensity but goofy Logan.  The almost broodish behavior of Mason. But Samantha…I couldn’t pin her down for some reason.  I remember she went through some shit.  I remember I connected with her character on a lot of levels.  I remember thinking she was weak, when she tried to project that she was tough.  But I couldn’t remember where she ended up and whether she found her strength or not.

So, of course, I tracked it down in my iBooks library and began reading again.

This series starts off with “Fallen Crest High”.  We meet our main character, Samantha.  From the get-go, we know she is not the kind of girl to put up with a lot of shit.  She tolerates a lot, but has a few internal lines that she doesn’t allow anyone to cross, even friends she’s had for years.  There’s also a sense of enclosure.  With in the thought process we can witness inside her mind, there’s a sense of being trapped.  Every interaction is surrounded by walls Samantha sets up, refusing to budge for anyone or anything.  The only time she seems to let any of her walls down is when she runs, sometimes for hours on end, and only then to let herself go numb.

We also meet Mason and Logan Kade, two of the town’s celebrities, known for going through women like water and brawls like breakfast cereal.  The girls all want them and the boys just want close to them.  Our first meeting of the brothers shows them almost getting jumped, and instead setting the other guy’s cars on fire.  We also find out through Samantha….her mom just left her dad…for Big Daddy Kade.  Which means those two hunkalicious, intense, probably really crazy juvenile delinquents,   will soon be her step-brothers.

Once Samantha, or Sam as she prefers, and her mother Anelise move into the Kade mansion, the real intensity starts.  There’s open hostility towards her mom (which she tries to care about, but just can’t), absolute disdain for her (when they even acknowledge she’s in the room), AND THEN…..

Sizzling, visceral attraction.  Sam realizes Mason has set his eyes on her, which also means his protection reaches her, even from the walking mental illness that is her mother and the seemingly total abandonment that is her father.

There are more fights than one can count in one book, let alone the whole series.  Some of them make you beam with pride for the strides these characters take for the sake of family.  Other’s make you cringe and have your heart pounding for fear.

Though not to this degree, these books remind me exactly how high school really is.  The dirty, seedy underbelly no one puts in the yearbooks, or talk about in the power point presentations.

Everyone has an agenda.  Everyone has an angle.  Your family will leave you blind sided and bleeding while the people you least expect are the ones to pick you up and hold you until you can mend back together.  Your friends will be the ones to silently slip the knife in, and twist it as they smile, and your enemies are the ones giving you the noble heads up for the betrayal around the corner.

The absolute bones of this series is what the meaning of family really is.

Family is not always blood

Family does not betray you.

Family will always fight you when you are wrong.

Family will always back you up, even while telling you it’s the wrong choice.

Family is usually who you least expect it to be.

But more importantly, family does not keep secrets.

And secrets there are a-plenty in this series.

With so many strong characters and strong personalities showcased, it’s a given there will be tons of conflict and struggle for alpha.  There are also a lot of side stories that Tijan later fleshes out.  There is no stone unturned in this series, or any of her series that I’ve found so far.  Every book she writes has an addictive intensity to it, keeping you constantly needing the next fix.  Her characters are real, the situations are bizarre enough to make total sense in this fucked up world, and the fight for family gives it the feel good that makes you smile.  If you have days on end to dedicate to the best ride of your life, Tijan is your girl.

Lily-R. M. Walker

Ah, reverse harems.  These, my friends, are my absolute favorite stories.

 

My obsessions with reverse harems started, of course, with C. L. Stone and the Ghost Bird series.  Then I went on to enjoy the as of yet to be concluded Scarab Beetle series.  Now, it’s something I actively seek out in looking for new books/series.

 

I know this type of story is not for everyone, and that’s okay.  That’s perfectly fine.  But please, don’t be that shitty person who calls it names, puts down people in polyamorous relationships, or acts closed minded about these types of books.  It’s 2017.  Grow up a little.

 

Now that that’s out of the way, let talk about this series!  So far there are two book in the series, with a third working title already revealed.

The first book in the series is “Lily”.  We meet our main girl, Lily, as she enters another new school.  Through her inner monologue we learn that she has moved at least once a year, never making real friends or really having any type of relationship outside the one she has with her mom.

Lily is immediately drawn to a group of four boys.  These boys are good looking, funny, yet also seems to be on the fringe of the school social scene.  They are a tight knit group that other’s are jealous of, so of course, it being high school and all, they have to make fun of them and call them “freaks”.

Lily is immediately let into the group when they approach her, and she has a seizure in front of them, and the entire school.  Seizures are not uncommon for her, and are in fact a contributing factor to her not making any lasting relationships.  What is strange, however, it how the seizures change since moving to the new locations and meeting the boys.  What starts out as a seizure with strange noises and motions of color, begins to suddenly become people and scenes.

Lily and her boys are thrown into chaos where they must learn to rely on each other and their own instincts.  With Fae, witches, seers, and Councils formerly thought to be disbanded, everyone has a secret to hide and eventually it all comes to light.

I immensely enjoyed the first book, was mildly impressed with the second, and biting my nails waiting for the third.  While the main female character seems to have a lot of weakness showcased, relying time after time for the boys to save her or fix her issues, I really feel like the third book will be when we see what kind of badass she can be.  The cards seem to be all out on the table, and now it’s just waiting to see what she will do with it all.

 

 

Keatyn Chronicles

I stumbled upon this book series a few years ago while looking for free books in iBooks.  This way of finding new series is, obviously, very hit and miss.  Sometimes I get books that are hard to finish, sometimes they capture me, but the feeling is fleeting.  Then other times, I spend way more than budgeted buying the entire series with in a week and being irritated when I have to put the books down and do, you know, adult stuff, or whatever.

This series….oh man, oh man, it grabbed my by the brain and the heart and drug me along for the best ride I had been on in a while.

The original series has seven books.  If you feel like you’ve just had enough after the seven books (which I doubt, but whatever), you *can* stop there and be (mostly) satisfied with the way things end.  I was not. I cannot express how happy I was when I went back to read this series again, for old time’s sake, and saw there are even more additions in a spin-off series, staring all the favorite characters, and then some!! I might have actually squealed.

Okay, fine. I squealed.

So what about this book is oh, so ah-mazing? Freaking everything!

The first book starts by introducing us to the life and times of one Miss Keatyn Douglas.  Her mom is a famous actress who got her start in a campy slasher movie.  Her step-dad, and father of her little sisters, is a famous actor in action movies, and a well known lover (think George Clooney, but younger). Her best friends are everything from Queen Bee’s to child movie stars to chill surfers.  From the very beginning we get to see Keatyn’s weakness….her inability to figure out where she fits in.  She loves the spotlight and all things Free People and Vuitton.  She also loves waking up at sunset and showing the local boys how to shred a wave. She likes being popular, but hates the meaness involved.

Through all this, she hides her desire to act. Through this weakness of not wanting to embarrass her mom or step-dad, a stalker finds his way in.

And then shit gets really real.

Keatyn has to make a decision that doesn’t only change her path in life, but also the lives of everyone around her, including her adorable little sisters, who have become the target in a sick game her stalker is now creating.

This story successfully weaves the reader through high school drama, what it means to be true to yourself, and whether chance or fate has a say in where we end up.  Every subject matter important to a young adult is discussed or touched on in one way or the other, and the bottom line is always, be yourself and be happy.

This series is one I have read more than once, and I fully intend to read it a hundred times more.

Bookish Questions, Pt. 2

6. What book/s can you not live without? Weelllll, we’ve recently established I love HP and C L Stone, so those books, of course.  But I must admit I also quite like Throne of Glass. Oh, have I mentioned that? My bad.  I know a lot of people answer things like Shakespeare, or some such similar…and truth be told, I love the classics.  But I also recognize, a lot of what I read now is retelling, or modern telling, of those same classics. That’s why they are classics to begin with.  Delving into human psyche, revealing things we really want but don’t want to say or admit, revenge and betrayal and loyalty…

7. What  book/s that you rave about? So, if I love a book, or can’t live without it, I’m going to rave about it….next!

8. An author/s that you dislike/hate?  I, uh, well…..um.  I haven’t found one I hate, unless it would be Hitler for “Mein Kampf”…but even that has historical significance that we absolutely cannot ignore.  Every author has a story to tell.  Maybe some can’t tell it as well as others, or maybe their story telling doesn’t mesh well with my story listening.  But to say I dislike or hate an author? I’ve not found one yet, because all stories have significance in my opinion.

9. An author/s you like/love?  Well, J. K. Rowling, of course.  Then C L Stone, obviously.  Sarah J Maas.  I do love a Shakespearian story.  Also, George Orwell had it going on. If I continue, this list is going to be a mile long…

10. What popular books do you just hate?  I tried Vampire Academy.  I really did.  I read the first 3 books. It’s a “No”, from me.  I also tried the “House of Night” series. My mom recommended them as they are set in our neck of the woods, and well, no one sets anything in Oklahoma unless they are just passing through, so I thought, “Why not?”. Yep, also a “No” from me.  I couldn’t get past how the kids spoke to each other.  I may be in my 30’s, (mid 20’s when I tried reading them), but I do at least know that is not how teenagers speak.  I was offended for the generation below mine. Also, of course, “Twilight”…..I’m sensing a theme here.  I’m very particular about my vampire novels, apparently.    Also, John Greene books.  But not because they are bad, they so are not.  But ugly crying on me is worse than you’ve ever seen on anyone, and he makes me ugly cry every. Friggin. Time.

“Bookish Questions”

Whilst scrolling through Tumblr, I found a post called “Bookish Questions”.  There is something about questions posed that I cannot leave undone. I figured I would break this up in a few different posts, so no one post would be very long.  I have a tendency to babble and go off on tangents, so this seemed the safest route to take…

Here we go:

  1. “What/Who got you into reading?”  Excellent first question! We start at the beginning! I was often that child found alone on the play ground, not exactly fitting in with peers.  I was the youngest in my family, so I had more in common with those older than me.  Can you believe no one in my grade even knew what a Vulcan was?!  So, once I discovered reading, I was immediately addicted.  I can honestly say, I am a success story for Book-It.
  2. “Your first favorite book”…I so wish I could remember the name of it.  The plot line followed a young girl who was haunted by a ghost girl.  This ghost got up to all kinds on shenanigans, including stripping down to her undies in the front yard, making the human girl giggle when she was suppose to be in trouble, thus causing her to get an even harsher punishment.  It was such a cute story with a good lesson about choosing people in our lives that are good for us, not just fun, but I have lost the title or author in my memory since I read it in second grade, roughly 24 years ago. So if you know what that book is called, I would LOVE to know.  My second favorite was “Trouble with Trolls”.  Looking back, I sense a theme in my likes when it comes to literature…
  3. “Your current favorite books” Yikes, that ‘s a tough one.  My go-to is Harry Potter, hands down.  But barring that, I am also quite addicted to the Throne of Glass series.  Also, the Ghost Bird series…and Scarab Beetle….I’m currently reading “Jewel”….gah! See? It’s too hard! Have me solve algebra, instead! Standard of deviations, or something!!
  4. “Favorite book of all time?” Yeah, we just had this discussion.  There isn’t just one.  I can narrow the genre down to paranormal, though. That’s something, right?
  5. “Least favorite book of all time?” Damn, shit just got real.  There have been a few books where I’ve had to pry my eyes open and force myself to finish.  I end up cranky and unsatisfied.  Then there are the books that I just cannot make myself finish.  They are few and far between, because Momma didn’t raise no quitter.  One that comes to mind is “Coexist”, this book about fairies and humans and I don’t know what else. I got maybe a quarter of the way in and just couldn’t find it plausible.  Another was “Valentine’s Day Sucks”.  The concept was so freaking cool. But the delivery was so freaking flat, if I’d had a paper copy, I probably would’ve thrown it. It just wasn’t satisfying enough to close the damn tab to minimize the tiny book.

Well, that’s all for today.  The post was longer than I had wanted, but I’ve come to accept that’s just who I am. Til next time, nerds.