Friday, March 31, 2017

Review: Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett

Blurb from Goodreads:
In this delightfully charming teen spin on You’ve Got Mail, the one guy Bailey Rydell can’t stand is actually the boy of her dreams—she just doesn’t know it yet.

Classic movie buff Bailey “Mink” Rydell has spent months crushing on a witty film geek she only knows online by “Alex.” Two coasts separate the teens until Bailey moves in with her dad, who lives in the same California surfing town as her online crush.

Faced with doubts (what if he’s a creep in real life—or worse?), Bailey doesn’t tell Alex she’s moved to his hometown. Or that she’s landed a job at the local tourist-trap museum. Or that she’s being heckled daily by the irritatingly hot museum security guard, Porter Roth—a.k.a. her new arch-nemesis. But life is whole lot messier than the movies, especially when Bailey discovers that tricky fine line between hate, love, and whatever-it-is she’s starting to feel for Porter.

And as the summer months go by, Bailey must choose whether to cling to a dreamy online fantasy in Alex or take a risk on an imperfect reality with Porter. The choice is both simpler and more complicated than she realizes, because Porter Roth is hiding a secret of his own: Porter is Alex…Approximately.
My Review:
I love You've Got Mail so I was pretty excited for this one, and I did enjoy it, but I also felt that his was too similar to other contemporary YA. Nothing about it felt unique and that isn't necessarily a bad thing but I guess I wanted something just a bit . . . more. Don't get me wrong, Bailey was an interesting character.  I liked her style and I understood her reluctance to open up.  But Porter? I didn't get him - he had this double standard with forcing Bailey to open up and then also not telling her the truth when he knew it. It just left a bad taste in my mouth when the conflict erupted in this one (which we all saw coming). This book felt one dimensional to me but it was a fun and fast read when you want a straight up YA contemporary novel. 
Alex, Approximately comes out next week on April 4, 2017, and you can purchase HERE.
He could be any one of these people. 
After all, I don't know what Alex looks like. I don't even know his real name. I mean, we've been talking online for months now, so I know things that matter. He's smart and sweet and funny, and we've both just finished our junior year. We share the same obsession--old movies. We both like being alone.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Mini Reviews: Battle of . . . Corruption + Romance

Blurb from Goodreads:
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of good sense must not mix business with passion.

Like that will keep Tom Yellow Bird from pursuing the woman who shocked his senses at first sight. Yes, the wealthy FBI special agent's job is to work a case involving the Honorable Caroline Jennings. It is his duty to protect the beautiful judge. Yet nothing stops him from acting on the attraction between them. And once he discovers Caroline is pregnant, any good sense he's ever had completely vanishes.

But when a secret Caroline is keeping is finally revealed, will Tom's pride become his ultimate undoing?
My Review:
I rarely meet P&P retellings that I don't have at least moderate affection for but this . . . was not even close to a retelling.  This title is entirely misleading. Putting that aside, this started off pretty good. I had to suspend my disbelief right away because the "investigation" intro corruption didn't seem plausible or well described but the heat was definitely there. Tom Yellow Bird was also a fantastic love interest and had a dash of Darcy. But things went downhill quick - I should have known given how short this novel was but the romance was whirlwind on fast forward with not enough to back it up.  It was always over before it began. This would worked for me with maybe even five more chapters describing a connection. Pride and Pregnancy comes out later this week on April 1, 2017, and you can purchase HERE.
She took a step toward him. It wasn't a big movement, but he felt it down to his toes. That spark that had always existed between them--it was no longer an isolated flash of light in the darkness. It was burning hotter and brighter than anything he'd ever felt before. it lit him up. She lit him up.  
Restrained Under His Duty (Dirty Little Secrets #3) by Stacey Kennedy

Blurb from Goodreads:
An uninhibited politician’s daughter falls for her loyal bodyguard behind closed doors in this scandalous novel from the USA Today bestselling author of Bound Beneath His Pain and Tied to His Betrayal.

As the chief of security for a prominent senator, Ryder Blackwood is stunned when an anonymous source sends him a compromising photo of his boss’s twenty-five-year-old daughter getting down and dirty in an underground sex club. If it gets out, the media firestorm could ruin her father. More troubling for Ryder is how arousing he finds the whole situation. He’s known Hadley Winters since she was a kid. And now she’s the woman in all his most private fantasies.

Wild behavior helps Hadley get through those painful, lonely nights, but she’s been waiting a long time for a man like Ryder to protect her from herself. Ryder is raw. He’s real. And he makes her feel safe. Now that they’ve both become pawns in a blackmailer’s dangerous game, there’s more at stake than her father’s political career. As the intimate threats tear apart a tender new love, Hadley is forced to trust Ryder with her life—and her heart.
I have to admit that I didn't get very far into this one. Honestly, the author kept describing "corruption" but did not seem to know the meaning of the word. Political romance is one of my favorite sub-genres but not even the promise of that could keep me reading this one. If you are just in it for the romance and sex but not more of an explanation or plot, this one might just work for you.. Restrained Under His Duty comes out next week on April 4, 2017and you can purchase HERE.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Review: Royally Roma (The Royals #1) by Teri Wilson

Blurb from Goodreads:
In this charming, modern retelling of the classic Audrey Hepburn film Roman Holiday, a royal prince tries to escape his hectic and rigid life and ends up leading a young graduate student on a chase through the Eternal City.

Julia Costa is too busy trying to complete her PhD while also holding down a full-time job as a private tour guide in Rome to keep up with celebrity gossip. So when she crosses paths with a real, actual prince, she mistakes him for a client and takes him on a daylong tour of the city.

Intrigued by the idea of spending time with someone who obviously has no idea who he is, and delighted at the prospect of a day free of royal obligations, Niccolo La Torre, Crown Prince of Lazaretto, acts on impulse and assumes the role of Julia’s client. He swears to himself that he’ll return to his royal duties after only half a day…but he’s having the time of his life.

Until Julia presents him with the bill. Since he snuck out of the hotel without so much as a dime, he tries to escape, only to discover that she won’t let him out of her sight until he can pay her back. She’s determined to get her money…and perhaps more from the handsome stranger she’s fallen for. 
My Review:
Retellings can be difficult and I have already had a bad experience with a previous Roman Holiday retelling.  That being said, I loved Teri Wilson's P&P retelling, Unleashing Mr. Darcy, so I was excited to read this one. I liked it but it was definitely lacking something and I'm not even sure I can tell you what that is. I think that Julia felt a bit undeveloped to me - we have a sense of her past and why she is a bit mistrustful in general - but I think there could have been more.  As for Nico, he felt fleeting throughout the entire book.  While I got the chemistry between them, I kept wanting something more.  Even though Roman Holiday is, in and of itself, a whirlwind, somehow it didn't work in this modern context, at least for me. I still have high regard for and love this author so I will be reading the next book in this series.  Let's hope it rings true for me!
Royally Roma comes out later this month on March 27, 2017, and you can purchase HERE.  Book 2 of this series, Royally Romanov, comes out in July.
He didn't need a clairvoyant to tell him that this little holiday he'd embarked on would leave a mark. A slow-healing bruise that would leave him tortured and tender. In those melancholy moments, he would need these memories. Recollections of her lips, her smile, the grace with which she moved. Remembrance.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Review: Piper Perish by Kayla Cagan

Blurb from Goodreads:
Piper Perish inhales air and exhales art. The sooner she and her best friends can get out of Houston and get to New York City, the better. Art school has been Piper's dream her whole life, and now that senior year is halfway over, she's never felt more ready. But in the final months before graduation, things are weird with her friends and stressful with three different guys, and Piper's sister's tyrannical mental state seems to thwart every attempt at happiness for the close-knit Perish family. Piper's art just might be enough to get her out. But is she brave enough to seize that power when it means giving up so much? Debut author Kayla Cagan breathes new life into fiction in this dynamic, utterly authentic work featuring interior art from Rookie magazine illustrator Maria Ines Gul. Piper will have readers asking big questions along with her. What is love? What is friendship? What is family? What is home? And who is a person when she's missing any one of these things?
My Review:
This was different but I liked it.  I could understand that it would not work for some readers -- it is very stream of consciousness and told completely in diary entries so if you need a clear plot, it may need be for you-- but I liked it a lot.  Piper Perish was a great character and I thought she seemed very genuine. I wasn't expecting so much family, and particularly sibling, tumult but it felt real. This book raises and addresses some very important issues and I like that nothing was black and white but that it allowed for shades of gray, which felt much more authentic to me.  The illustrations lost a bit in the e-ARC but I bet that a hardcover version of this book would be beautiful!

Piper Perish came out earlier this month on March 8, 2017 and you can purchase HERE. I definitely recommend this one if you like quirky contemporary YA that is told in a bit of a unconventional manner.
I dragged all the way home, knowing nobody could possibly understand an inch of my pain. Nobody. I no longer belonged to Enzo. He no longer belonged to me. And something about dating me had made him choose a boy. It didn't matter if I was pretty or talented or that we had been friends forever. We were ruined. We couldn't even be real friends anymore, which killed the most. He'd lied to me about Philip being at his house. He'd lied to me about being . . . himself. How much more lying was I supposed to take? Real friends were supposed to be honest.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Review: The Outsider by Anthony Franze

Blurb from Goodreads:
A young law clerk finds himself caught in the crosshairs of a serial killer in this breathtaking thriller set in the high-pressure world of the Supreme Court, from renowned lawyer Anthony Franze. 

Things aren’t going well for Grayson Hernandez. He just graduated from a fourth-tier law school, he’s drowning in student debt, and the only job he can find is as a messenger. The position stings the most because it’s at the Supreme Court, where Gray is forced to watch the best and the brightest―the elite group of lawyers who serve as the justices’ law clerks—from the outside.

When Gray intervenes in a violent mugging, he lands in the good graces of the victim: the Chief Justice of the United States. Gray soon finds himself the newest—and unlikeliest—law clerk at the Supreme Court. It’s another world: highbrow debates over justice and the law in the inner sanctum of the nation’s highest court; upscale dinners with his new friends; attention from Lauren Hart, the brilliant and beautiful co-clerk he can’t stop thinking about.

But just as Gray begins to adapt to his new life, the FBI approaches him with unsettling news. The Feds think there’s a killer connected to the Supreme Court. And they want Gray to be their eyes and ears inside One First Street. Little does Gray know that the FBI will soon set its sights on him. 

Racing against the clock in a world cloaked in secrecy, Gray must uncover the truth before the murderer strikes again in this thrilling high-stakes story of power and revenge by Washington, D.C. lawyer-turned-author Anthony Franze. 
My Review:
I am totally biased because I'm an attorney but an accurate legal thriller is so fun!  The Outsider is such a book and I loved the behind the scenes setting at the Supreme Court.  The scenes in the actual Supreme Court were probably my favorite but the thriller/mystery part of this book was pretty satisfying as well.  Gray was an awesome narrator and character - well developed and I liked his struggle with the job but also how he fell into the job. This was a fast and fun read and I hope this author writes more.  Even if you don't necessarily love legal thrillers, if you've ever read something like Kiss the Girls and loved it, this book will intrigue you!  

The Outsider comes out later this month on March 21, 2017 and you can purchase HERE. I definitely recommend this one if you love legal thrillers in the vein of John Grisham or thrillers like the Alex Cross series by James Patterson.  Such a fun read!
Lore had it that when the aging Justice Marshall had fallen ill and was in the hospital, Richard Nixon had asked the doctor for a report on Marshall's condition, not out of concern, but with the hope that the elderly justice was dying so the president could replace him with a more conservative jurist.  The doctor asked Marshall if he could give the president a report. Marshall said he'd love to give Nixon an update, and then took out a pen and wrote not yet! on his chart.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Review: A Colony in a Nation by Christopher L. Hayes

Blurb from Goodreads:
America likes to tell itself that it inhabits a post-racial world, but nearly every empirical measure—wealth, unemployment, incarceration, school segregation—reveals that racial inequality hasn’t improved since 1968. With the clarity and originality that distinguished his prescient bestseller Twilight of the Elites (“a stunning polemic,” said Ta-Nehisi Coates), award-winning journalist Chris Hayes offers a powerful new framework in which to understand our current crisis.

Hayes contends our country has fractured in two: the Colony and the Nation. In the Nation, we venerate the law. In the Colony, we obsess over order; fear trumps civil rights; and aggressive policing resembles occupation. How and why did Americans build a system where conditions in Ferguson and West Baltimore mirror those that sparked the American Revolution?

Blending wide-ranging historical research with political, social, and economic analysis, A Colony in a Nation explains how a Nation founded on justice constructed the Colony—and how it threatens our democracy.
My Review:
This was a fast but explosive read.  I will tell you right now that I am not one to read nonfiction but I watch Chris Hayes' show every day and I was curious about this one.  I'm so glad I read it - it was such a fast and compelling read! It has a simple premise that is that the United States has evolved (in my opinion, wrongfully) into the two different worlds - one a colony and one a nation.  The colony is policed by the nation and in which order drives everything.  My favorite part about this was the discussion of the history of our country such that its formation was based upon protesters and those that didn't want to comply with the governance - it gives me strength and hope for what is going on now and reminds us all to #RESIST.  I definitely recommend this to anyone concerned about policing in our country and the inherent inequality of the same.

A Colony in a Nation comes out later this month on March 21, 2017, and you can purchase HERE. This is my first must-read of 2017!  You can watch Chris Hayes on MSNBC, nightly, at 8 pm EST.
Through our shared cultural inheritance, Americans convert white fear into policy. When the system receives a shock--a crime wave, a terrorist attack--and we must answer the question What is to be done, our collective response is punishment, toughness, and violence. We build a bureaucracy and vocabulary of toughness that then take on their own power, their own gravity and inertia. We then bequeath the institutions of toughness to the next generation of politicians and policy makers, even after the initial problem they were meant to solve has dissipated.
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