Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Tell Me Something Good by Jamie Wesley (A One-On-One Story, #1)

  • Release Date: August 24th, 2011
  • Pages: 232
  • Genre: Contemporary Romance
  • Series : One-on-One Story #1
  • Publisher: Entangled  ( Lovestruck)
I started reading this in a waiting room and at first I couldn't figure out why I had this book on my Kindle. As I started reading the book it hit me. Before I discovered podcasts I was really into morning radio talks shows. I'd download old episodes from iTunes or play them on a loop on iHeartRadio.

So I guess when I spied this story about  two radio talk show hosts, one a cocky-unbeliever-in-love sports host known as Tate "The Great" Grayson and the other Noelle Butler, a radio relationship psychologist who is an advocate for love, I was all over it.

After sniping back and forth on live radio over marriage and commitment, the station gets the idea to have Tate and Noelle join forces for a few weeks and combine their shows to create The Tate and Noelle Show. As they try to help listeners through the maze  of love, relationship and sports (I guess) will they stumble into a love game of their own ?

 In a book that is based so much on radio the dialogue worked very well. I found myself  in a "topic" blind spot. I was uninterested in the relationship advice stuff, it just read as sort of generic to me.  I also don't follow sports so I was sort of meh on that topic to.

This romance relies heavily on the combination of their shows. It shoves Noelle and Tate into force proximity and the chemistry is great, but a voice in the back of my head was like. This is such a strange idea. I mean I find it really hard to believe a radio station would be like "Yeah, let's combine a relationship talk show with a sports show for two hours."  Like it makes no sense to me. Noelle knows nothing about sports and Tate isn't trained to give advice. Why would they do this ?

This book also spent a lot of time making Tate out to be Mr. Perfect. His only real flaw is that he doesn't believe in love, but we all now how that's going to end so I needed a bit more. It was like layer after layer of "look at what a great catch this guy is".

I'll probably say this a lot on this blog but everything I know about romance novels I learned from reading/listening to Sara Wendell and Smart Bitches, Trashy Books so, I understand the function of money in romanceland; Wealthy characters ensures readers that the happy ending will never be troubled by a bad economy. I get that. But the way money is used at the end of this book seemed way to overdone.

This Entangled Lovestruck didn't exactly strike out for me. It was a fun read on the surface but when I really thought about it, the pieces kind of fell apart. 


Unless I'm missing something I'm not sure why the male on the cover has handcuffs.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

The Year We Fell Down and The Year We Hid Away by Sarina Bowen

  • Release Date: March 24th 2014
  • Series: The Ivy Years #1
  • Genre: New Adult
  • Pages: 268
  • Publisher: Rennie Road Books (self-published)

  • Release Date: June 1st, 2014
  • Series: The Ivy Years
  • Genre: New Adult
  • Pages: 274
  • Publisher: Rennie Road Books (self-published)

The two types of books I've struggled the most with are self-published titles and New Adult . I've read a couple of each and the ones I actually reviewed I couldn't give more than two stars. I'd kind of given up hope, but somehow Sarina Bowen made it work for me.

This is a three book series and I'm reviewing the first two together because they are more interconnected than the third. This series takes place at Harkness College, an ivy league college in Connecticut  that represents  a new start for two female hockey players; Corey Callahan in The Year We Fell Down whose career ending injury left her in a wheelchair and Shannon Ellison in The Year We Hid Away, who changes her name to Scarlet Crowley to escape association with her pedophile father.

The heroes in these two are Adam Hartley and Bridger McCaulley,  who are best friends and play on the Harkness hockey team together. They both struggle with being lower income scholarship students in a school where most people come from money.  The romance in these novels is  slow burning friends-to-lovers kind that feels so realistic.

In the The Year We Fell Down Hartley and Corey are both  stuck in the same disabled dorm;   Corey because she's in a wheelchair and Hartley because  he has a cast up to his thigh. Hartley is kind of bro-y at first but he gets some development later in this book.  It was fun to watch them work together to navigate their disabilities at a college that has so many old buildings with no elevators. Bowen also didn't shy away from some of the less than glamorous parts of being in a wheelchair like bedsores and catheters.

While I liked The Year We Fell Down, I think book two The Year We Hid Away is the better book. There is a much more developed tension because of the self-imposed  pressures Bridger and Scarlet put on themselves to keep secrets. Bridger is secretly keeping his little sister in his dorm room because his mother is a drug addict and Scarlet is keeping her real identity a secret to  disassociate herself with her father, a well known college hockey coach who has been charged with sexual abusing young boys from his foundation. Although I kind of had a hard time believing no one knew who she was,  considering they are all into hockey and the story had been all over the news.

I can only take but so much angst and I'm glad these books didn't just marinate in the angst. The characters are living with their situations instead brooding over them and using them as an excuse to isolate themselves. There is none of that 'stay away from me, I'm dangerous' stuff.

I'm a little sad there isn't much hockey playing in this book, I think it would have been refreshing to see some intense female hockey players. But, Corey is injured (although she does play some mean Water Polo) and Scarlet gives up hockey to go along with her new identity.There is more hocket in the third book, The Understatement of The Year but that one doesn't feature a female lead.

I do have some nitpicks about the writing. The scenes move at such a whiplash pace that  they almost don't connect and the writing could use some editing and some of it was clunky. In the first book I had a really difficult time telling the POVs apart.  Also, both books use the same  Deux ex Machina to resolve any loose ends of the HEA.

I see that  Bowen has an e-book out with Harlequin and I think those will be great, especially with the Harlequin editorial eyes.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Huddle With Me Tonight By Farrah Rochon

  • Release Date: August 24th, 2010
  • Pages: 224
  • Genre: Contemporary Romance
  • Publisher: Kimani Romance ( Harlequin)

Farrah Rochon's Huddle With Me Tonight  is about what happens when book reviewer, Paige Turner, collides with professional football player Torian Smallwood after  she writes a less than glowing review of his debut memoir/cookbook.

Torian  makes the mistake of taking his frustration to the internet, and not just the internet. . . the comment section. Soon all of New York City is in enthralled in the battle between Torian and Paige.

If you've been involved in the book blogging community you know there can be some blogger vs. author drama and  the way Paige and Torian initially interact is how I imagine this kind of drama would really go down. It had everything from responding to negative comments, authors thinking bloggers are attacking them and mixed messages.

What was great about the review that starts this  incident is there is no obvious right or wrong.  I totally understood why Paige didn't like certain parts and I also understood how Torian as a content creator got upset having a book that is so personal be criticized.

I liked Paige's confidence in her opinion and review of the book,  even as things heat up between her and Torian she never took anything she said back and stands by her review.

“I don’t have anything against you,” Paige insisted. “My review was not personal. When I read a book, or see a show, or eat at a restaurant, I have a certain set of criteria in mind, and your book did not live up to those criteria. It’s as simple as that.”

Food and cooking plays a big part in this book as Torian and Page get to know each other. I think Rochon did a good job of writing cooking "scenes" , I liked that she kept it brief and it wasn't like I was reading a cookbook. From what I've read a lot of her other other books feature food and  I wonder if she has like companion recipes ?

By the end of the book the characters are in very different places then when they started. During the course of the book they both come to turning points in their careers where Torian could lose everything and Paige could take the next big step. I would have loved to follow their journey and seen  their development for  100 more pages, but due to the length of the book it was all quickly wrapped up.

I  would have also liked learning more about Paige's past. I also felt like something was happening with Torian's sister and troublesome nephew, but it looks like they have their own book.

I stumbled across Farrah Rochon after hearing her honest and insightful interview on the Dear Bitches, Smart Authors romance podcast , where she gives her  personal experience to the diversity issues in romance and the not so surprising truth about what certain covers can do for a book. It's a great listen and I recommend checking it out here.