19 June 2018

Barbed Wire Heart // A Surprising Read That Was Filled With Women Kicking Some Ass

Barbed Wire Heart
Published: 6th March 2018

Source: Netgalley

Genre: Mystery, Thriller

My Rating:
Never cut the drugs-leave them pure.
Guns are meant to be shot-keep them loaded.
Family is everything-betray them and die.

Harley McKenna is the only child of North County's biggest criminal. Duke McKenna's run more guns, cooked more meth, and killed more men than anyone around. Harley's been working for him since she was sixteen-collecting debts, sweet-talking her way out of trouble, and dreading the day he'd deem her ready to rule the rural drug empire he's built.

Her time's run out. The Springfields, her family's biggest rivals, are moving in. Years ago, they were responsible for her mother's death, and now they're coming for Duke's only weak spot: his daughter.
With a bloody turf war threatening to consume North County, Harley is forced to confront the truth: that her father's violent world will destroy her. Duke's raised her to be deadly-he never counted on her being disloyal. But if Harley wants to survive and protect the people she loves, she's got to take out Duke's operation and the Springfields.

Blowing up meth labs is dangerous business, and getting caught will be the end of her, but Harley has one advantage: She is her father's daughter. And McKennas always win.

From a powerful new voice in suspense fiction comes the unforgettable story of a young woman facing the most difficult choice of her life: family or freedom.
I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Wow. Just wow. I did not expect what I got from this book. I was expecting a thriller which seemed set to take a dark turn but instead got given an awesome feminist read. It was a book filled with strong female characters and was realistic in showing women’s struggles in society both getting respect from one another when they aren’t from the right background but also getting respect from the men in their lives too. It was an amazing read which was wholly realistic of society today but also happened to have a really good mystery/thriller element to it too.

I admit I wasn't completely certain about this book when I first started reading. The characters weren't exactly the most likeable and I was questioning the actions of a lot of people and why I should care for their story. But this book was written with flashbacks to past events interspersed throughout the current day storyline and those small snippets really drew me in and made me care for the characters, especially as it was told from Harley’s perspective and so the characters she cared about (even if she grew to understand they weren’t good people) were also the people I cared about in a twisted way.

Harley is a girl who has been raised to be suspicious of everyone, trust no one and expect to forge a brutal path through life. Very few are truly close to her and she prefers it that way because too many people close to her just means she has more weaknesses. Like I said, it's kind of brutal. Her dad is Duke McKenna and he rules North County with an iron fist. He's fought dirty to get that power and control the area and he is not a man to cross. But that's exactly what Harley is doing; she is slowly dismantling his power base. I will reveal no more than that to avoid spoilers but hot damn did I cheer Harley on, especially as you see more and more flashbacks to the past seeing the way he raised her. He was in no way a soft and caring parent, but you can tell there was love there but as you see the extremes of her childhood you begin to understand why Harley has been driven to the extremes and forced to betray a man she both loves and hates.

Tess Sharpe skilfully crafts a story filled with characters you really shouldn't like but as you see Harley's own memories of her past and upbringing I found myself feeling for Duke. Even though the man raised his daughter in questionable ways (testing her by kidnapping her and forcing her to shoot a deer? He's kind of a dick) but Duke did it because he loved Harley in his own messed up way and she loved him all the same. Despite him being a villain in many people's stories he also had some vaguely good points, he'd just twisted himself up a bit. And then there were good people interspersed throughout who proved that North County wasn't a truly awful place to be and helped explain why Harley loved it there.

More than crafting likeable flawed characters, though, Tess Sharpe crafts plenty of strong female characters which make this such an amazing feminist read. These women have struggled and they don’t have life easy, but it’s realistic, especially in a struggling small town. Some of the women were on Harley's side and others weren't but they were all strong and, despite having men in their lives bringing them down or holding them back, they were powerful. From Mo, the woman Harley trusted to keep the Rubies (the girls who get safe haven in a motel owned by Harley. A refuge for women from abusive homes or for those who are addicted and struggling to get clean) safe. Mo was trusted to keep these vulnerable women safe and help them move forward and she was amazing at it. There was Harley's best friend, Brooke, who went through some awful things but same out of it strong with a friend she would do anything for and would do anything for her. She was from the good side of town who looked down on the rubies but she didn't. She was awesome. It was amazing to read a see women fighting and holding positions of power in a county overrun with men who thought they knew what was best and what was best was brutality and power and women were weak and to stay at home. This is especially obvious towards the end of the book where you will be cheering the women on because damn are they amazing. Just trust me on this one.

It was such a good book and it went in a direction I did not expect. I enjoyed every page and only wish I'd gotten around to reading it sooner.

Have you read this book? What were your thoughts? Have you read anything else by Tess Sharpe?

12 June 2018

Strange the Dreamer // An Enchanting Read and The Vaguest Review For It

Published: 28th March 2017

Source: Purchased

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

My Rating:
The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around—and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance or lose his dream forever.

What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?

The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries—including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo’s dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? And if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?

Welcome to Weep.
I decided to begin the week with a none romance related review. I’ve been sat on this one for a couple of weeks so I needed to post it. I want you guys to know how much I loved this book and I honestly wasn’t sure I would.

I have frequently claimed Laini Taylor as a favourite author of mine so when I heard she had a new book coming out I was excited to read. When the release was pushed back and it was revealed to be a duology my excitement didn't wain at all, I still knew I would preorder as soon as it came available. I was there preordering so I could have those blue sprayed edges and pretty signed page within it. I didn't care about cost because I needed that book on my shelves and in my hands. When it finally arrived I was excited… but it was a weekday and I didn't fancy carting around a heavy hardcover on my commute so I waited to read. Then I saw the reviews slowly coming out for it and avoided spoilers at all costs, but then I saw a small snippet of a thought from a reader whose opinions I trust… and it wasn't wholly positive like I had expected and then I became wary. When I get wary I get hesitant to read, thinking up excuses until a gorgeous book gets left to gather dust on my shelf for no other reason than someone didn’t say wholly positive things about a book so I question if I’ll be the same. Hype is a dangerous beast and many a book has fallen from my TBR because of it.  Sadly, this book almost fell victim to such things.

It took me over a year to finally get to reading this book and it was only with the announcement about the next book having sprayed edges on the first print run which motivated me to finally pick this book up off of the shelf. I chose a sunny Sunday to begin reading and it took me over a week to finish (which in my bookish world is an extremely long time). I wasn't immediately hooked from the first page, but Lazlo Strange charmed me with his story and his dreams. He was not the typical hero, he was quiet and forgotten about and if he hadn't have been as brave as he was he would have spent his whole life stuck in the shadows of a library underappreciated and not knowing all of his potential. Instead, he ran off and risked everything for even the smallest chance of pursuing his dream and visiting a place he had only dreamt about. He charmed me slowly and then I was hooked. I wanted to learn the mystery of Weep and I wanted to see what he would discover. I knew he was going to have a major role to play (why else would he be an MC) but I don’t think I expected how big a role he would play, I don’t think he realised it either and that’s what made him charming. He wasn’t full of himself and frequently doubted himself and his abilities and what role he could possibly play but he was just excited to be involved in an adventure he has always dreamt about.

I don't want to reveal too much of the book in this review, I think I enjoyed not knowing what to expect when I picked this up. Sure, it meant I was uncertain and nervous, but it also meant I was slowly swept away by the story. I may not have rushed through it and devoured it in hours, but I enjoyed slowly getting lost within the pages and enjoying the magical and intense world within its pages and it's meant I've had no choice but to preorder the next book. I wasn't certain I was excited about this being a duology, but I think it's needed. There will be a very clear divide between this story and the next I think. There is a clear before and after and I can't wait to see what the after brings. I want only good things to happen but I can see a struggle to come and I can't wait to read it (and this time I might actually read upon release). This does mean this is probably the vaguest review ever but I don’t even care, I adored this book and all you need to know is that Lazlo is a precious cinnamon roll to good for this world. What else is there to know?

Have you read Strange the Dreamer? What did you think and are you excited for the next release?

05 June 2018

A Personal Challenge // AAR Top 100 Romances

A Personal Challenge
Anyone who has stopped by of later will have heard the continual complaints of my reading slump. It’s an ongoing issue, I don’t know why I’m not wanting to read as much or why I can’t settle on a good book but I just can’t. I’m trying to reign in my spending habits to counter it but I am sad about it because I want to be reading and it’s seriously impacting my wish to blog because when I blog I remember how much I’m not reading.

Anyway, because I’m not reading as much I’ve felt a bit lost on how to decide what to read next. Then Twitter started popping up with various things about the AAR Top 100 Romances. Now, I didn’t know what AAR was or anything, but boy did I want to know what the top 100 romances were going to be so I used a little Google-fu and discovered not only the list but also what on Earth it even was.

AAR stands for All About Romance, and as per their about page the site was established way book in 1996 (was the internet even a thing back then, my computer time at that age was limited to Acorn computers (of which there was one per classroom) and then there was the seminal MS Paint (which I feel like might have been later than that, but we all remember scribble monsters and the fill tool, right?) but anyway, All About Romance has history is what I’m saying. They seem to organise a vote every few years to discover the Top 100 Romances and that’s pretty damn cool. I figured, why not see how many of the Top 100 I’d read, for research purposes and what better way to get back into reading than procrastinating, right?

Anyway, they conveniently had a list of all the romances (in alphabetical order) so I was looking through but then I got the bright idea to put it into a nice spreadsheet, make it way easier to collate together what I have read/haven’t and also which ones I own and just haven’t got to reading yet. I had already read a respectable 30 of them and I’ve DNF-ed Jane Eyre so many times it’s getting a little ridiculous now. I am never going to like that book, why can’t I just accept it? But anyway, I was like a third through the list already and there was about a dozen more I had available to me to read so I figured why not and try to conquer the Top 100?
2018-05-31 (2)
And thus this post was born, me and my little spreadsheet are on a mission to read (or DNF) and maybe even review all of these books. I have already read two more and I’m contemplating a third. It’s in no way helping me conquer my TBR pile of books but I’m enjoying myself.

I will say a few things about this list. I am aware and have had it pointed out to me, that this list is not filled with the most current reads and whilst a few of these may be old favourites in the romance world, they probably do not all age well. Hell, one of my reads has already raised some questions about consent and I know I may experience this again. I know there are a couple of my own favourites on the list, but I am prepared for questionable romance in here as well. Also… it’s historical heavy and this may be down to the audience voting on this one, but it’s something I am obviously aware of this, this is still a list limited by the audience voting for it. And the most key thing I recognise about this list? There is very little diversity on the list either. It’s a reflection of the publishing world in general and that doesn’t make it okay, but I do not fault the voters or AAR for the lack of diversity but instead see it as another sad reminder that the romance world needs to do better at making their published work more diverse, there are writers out there and publishers need to do more to find them.

But I’ll get off my soapbox now and get back to being excited about my own personal romance reading challenge. I may not get through all 100 but right now it’s making me excited to pick up a book and that’s an achievement in itself. I am going tot ry and have regular reviews up from this list and maybe a couple of discussions of things I think of while I power through but who doesn't like a good Summer project?

Have any of you checked out the list? Is one of your favourites on there or are there books I’d be better off avoiding? I know there’ll be a few I don’t like but got to give them a shot, right?

02 June 2018

Monthly Wrap Up // May 2018

Monthly Wrap Up_zpshjihxrbe.png
Hi all and welcome to the end of May/start of June. I know, my grand plans for the month were shattered because I am lazy and did not blog as much as I definitely should. I haven;t read as many blog posts as I should. I haven’t read as much books as I wanted to. Basically, I’ve slacked a lot but whatever. I had fun while I was doing it.

Since I’ve not given you guys my weekly update I figure this will be the update for the month. What have I been up to? Honestly… not a whole lot. I went to Birmingham Pride with some friends from work and it was certainly an experience. We missed a lot of the parade because crowds are totally not my thing but I saw pictures afterwards and it looks like a missed a whole heap of fun. Instead, I spent that time drinking a couple of cocktails to prepare me to be plunged into large crowds of drunk people. The day wasn’t everything I expected but it was still really fun. I went on waltzers and fair rides and had a few drinks and it was great. I spent most of the day there before trekking home on the train at about 9ish. No late night for me, there were too many people for me to relax fully which sucks.

Erm… apart from that I honestly haven’t done a whole lot of late. Not anything that stands out, I’m going to see Taylor Swift this June so I’m kind of saving for that and also planning for going on holiday in September. I’m also on a  campaign to convince my friend to go to a festival with me because I figure this is a thing I need to do before I turn 30. I figure we go big or go home and do something like Glastonbury but we’ll see. my wish to go to a festival would be surprising to most considering I am not a fan of camping but these are the things you have to do to try new things.

On to books and blogging?

Can’t Stop Listening

What If This Is All The Love You Ever Get? // Snow Patrol
Dammit // Jesse Daniel Smith
Delicate // James Bay (I really like covers, okay?)
Hunger // Florence + the Machine

May Reads

Shelter in PlaceAftermathChasing TruthHiding LiesOne Night Wife29748925A Hunger Like No Other
No separation into ratings this month. I’ve not read enough to really justify the extra work. I think my favourite books of this month were One Night Wife and Strange the Dreamer, both very different books. I’m still stuck in a slump and no matter how many new books I get I just can’t figure out what I want to be reading. The eternal curse of a reader, right? It does mean I’ve vowed no more ARCs for a while. I can’t cope with the added stress putting me off reading.

May Posts

And there is my May. It’s less than most months but I won’t be sorry for it (I’m a little bit sorry) but sometimes less is more and all that. I have got a couple of posts all planned out. And maybe a couple of reviews I’ve put off writing, but whenever I do that I forget what I thought about the book a couple of hours late. Damn that book amnesia.

What have you been up to? Anything exciting happen in May or are you like me and have been a bit boring?

30 May 2018

Bite Sized Books // Two New Books From Some of My Favourite Authors

Bite Sized Books_zpsszuklfto.png
Today I have a review for two books from authors whose books I have loved. They are authors who have placed themselves firmly on the favourites list in the past couple of years and who happen to have books coming out around the same time as each other. They are two very different books but they are both firmly in the romance category and so they’re getting reviewed together an you lot can’t stop me.

Making Up
Published: 28th May 2018
Source: Netgalley/Purchased
Genre: Romance, Contemporary
My Rating:
Author of Act Like It and Pretty Face Lucy Parker returns readers to the West End, where it’s fireworks onstage and off in a sexy enemies-to-lovers showdown.

Once upon a time, circus artist Trix Lane was the best around. Her spark vanished with her confidence, though, and reclaiming either has proved…difficult. So when the star of The Festival of Masks is nixed and Trix is unexpectedly thrust into the spotlight, it’s exactly the push she needs. But the joy over her sudden elevation in status is cut short by a new hire on the makeup team.

Leo Magasiva: disgraced wizard of special effects. He of the beautiful voice and impressive beard. Complete dickhead and—in an unexpected twist—an enragingly good kisser.

To Leo, something about Trix is…different. Lovely. Beautiful, even though the pint-size, pink-haired former bane of his existence still spends most of her waking hours working to annoy him. They’ve barely been able to spend two minutes together for years, and now he can’t get enough of her. On stage. At home. In his bed.
When it comes to commitment, Trix has been there, done that, never wants to do it again. Leo’s this close to the job of a lifetime, which would take him away from London—and from Trix. Their past is a constant barrier between them.

It seems hopeless.
Utterly impossible.
And yet…
I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

I have adored Lucy Parker’s London Celebrities series thus far. Considering, until now, there have been just two books released in this series that could seem like a ridiculous claim, but I’ve read those two books several times already and they are firmly in the favourites category. It’s safe to say I knew I needed to read this book as soon as I heard about it so you can imagine my squeal of joy when I got approved for it on Netgalley. I downloaded the eARC so fast and started reading practically immediately.

It’s safe to say my expectations were high for this book and I already had my own idea of where this book would go based upon my glimpses of both Trixie and Leo in the previous book. Lucy Parker blew all those expectations and preconceptions out of the water. I was in no way prepared for the book I got and I’m pretty glad for it. One of my grumbles when I first began reading Pretty Face, the previous book in this series, is that I’d been concerned it was going to be similar to the first book simply because the tone felt similar and there were similarities to be seen in the romance between those characters. It was a superficial similarity, which I soon realised as I got beyond the first couple of chapters, but it was one of my initial thoughts as I was reading. I didn’t have that concern when reading this one. Making UP has a different tone and a different kind of romance. It was a second chance romance and it was so very enjoyable to read.

Trixie is a circus artist with pink hair and a whole heap of personality. Anyone who has read Pretty Face will know is she’s coming out the other side of an extremely toxic relationship and her entire sense of self has been shaken by that relationship. This is the aftermath of all of that and she is slowly adjusting to the after and learning who she is once more on the back of that. She doesn’t have anytime for Leo Magasiva, with whom she has a whole heap of history she doesn’t want to get into and she most certainly doesn’t want to be working with him. He doesn’t have quite the same problems with her, but that’s an element of their relationship which I will not reveal in this review.

I wasn’t certain how I felt about Trix and Leo together. We only had a small glimpse of solemn Leo in Pretty Face, and there was certainly no hint of their past in that book. And Trix is coming out of coming, but even so she was a live wire and a bundle of energy and I’ve heard of opposites attract but I was going to take some convincing to believe them together. Turns out, I was totally wrong to have doubts. There were hidden depths to both of them and exploring their past was just the best. I mean, there were sparks flying off the page when they were together and I as time progressed I was rooting for them to sort their shit out and just get together. And the epilogue near enough killed me. Seriously, the epilogue is one of my favourites I#ve read because it felt real.

Definitely another book added to the favourites list and it surprised me. Second chance romance can be really hit or miss for me. I sometimes find myself rolling my eyes because even though we’re told it’s a second chance romance it comes across a bit insta-lovey because I don’t believe their history, this time that didn’t happen at all. I will be rereading soon with it’s release.

One Night Wife
Published: 28th May 2018
Source: Netgalley
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
My Rating:
Finley Cartwright is the queen of lost causes. That’s why she’s standing on a barstool trying to convince Friday night drinkers to donate money to her failing charity. Hitting on the guy on the next stool wasn’t part of her plan. Still, hot but grumpy venture capitalist Caleb Sherwood might just be her ticket to success.

Professional grifter and modern-day Robin Hood, Cal Sherwood is looking for a partner for a long con. Sexy Fin, doing her best Marilyn Monroe act for her cause, has the necessary qualifications. By the time he cuts her free, her charity would be thriving, and she’d have helped him charm billions out of arrogant, gullible marks to fund his social justice causes.

But just when he thinks he’s about to pull off the best con ever, his feisty new partner gets the upper hand.
I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

As I said, these two books are pretty different apart from the romance aspect. This is Ainslie Paton’s newest release and I just know she’s been marketing it as a Robin Hood style romance all about social justice and that’s pretty damn accurate. As soon as I saw it included con artists I was intrigued (I like books about con artists, there’s something about it… don’t know what) and then she said it was a fake relationship book and I was like sold, take my money.

This book was such a fun read. I mean, it was funny and just a joy to read, I cared about Finley from the start. Sure, she acted a little impulsively and didn’t think things through but she cared so damned much about her charity and even though people had put her down as flakey and she never finishes anything but she just hasn’t gotten the chance to find her passion. So when she stumbles upon con man extraordinaire (and the Robin Hood of this tale) at a bar while she’s trying to pick up donations and then bumps into her ex. Turns out the pair have all the chemistry and should totally be together. Me and Fin were on the same page… Cal, not so much. He leaps to helping her con some donations and using her to help hi perform his own cons. That did bug me a little.

I know, I’m reading a romance, I know they’ll get it on eventually but the characters aren’t aware of their romance novel situation so obviously act accordingly. That meant that Cal stayed wanting to keep things strictly professional to further the con and also planned to keep Fin in the dark about his family (because conning is obviously a family business) which seemed a bit harsh to me because she didn’t even realise that what she was doing to garner donations (like ridiculous donations to do a whole heap of good) were done using a very mild form of con to get people’s interest. Now, I’m not hating on Cal, he was head of the little con game he and his family did and they did it all for the greater good. Sure, they were all getting rich from it (I know, doesn’t sound great when I put it like that) but by making themselves rich they ran in the circles of uber rich who did terrible things and never gave money back, instead Cal comes along, takes all their money and sends it off to charities to do good because these rich douches weren’t smart enough to do it themselves. I can’t fault Cal, his heart was in the right place at least and I totally agreed with why he was doing these things. I just wish he had used his words a bit more and he could have saved everyone a little bit of heartbreak.

Look, this is a story that is all about showing up rich folks and demonstrating that there are a lot of awful people in the world and there are plenty of over privileged folks. You will be cheering on Cal with his schemes, these rich folks deserve everything they get. And you’ll be cheering for Cal to remove his head from his ass and admit he’s got a good thing right in front of him in the form of Fin and they should just get it together already.

This is probably a terrible review for a book I really enjoyed but all the best reviews are a little bit terrible (mine are, anyway) so take that as a sign you should check it out. I’d only read Ainslie Paton’s Stubborn Hearts series before this but she can most definitely write all the good stuff, not just one series. Check this out if you want to read a little social justice with your romance and want to feel inspired to give to even more charities.

And there were two reviews for books from some of my favourite authors. Have you two read either of these, weren’t they awesome?

15 May 2018

Bite Sized Books // A Teenage Con Artist Mystery I Really Enjoyed

Bite Sized Books_zpsszuklfto.png
Before we start with the bite sized reviews I will say this is a review of a series there will be spoilers involved but only in the review for the second book (I hope).

Chasing Truth
Published: 27th September 2016
Source: Bought/Free
Genre: Young Adult, Mystery, Romance, Contemporary
My Rating:
At Holden Prep, the rich and powerful rule the school—and they’ll do just about anything to keep their dirty little secrets hidden.

When former con artist Eleanor Ames’s homecoming date commits suicide, she’s positive there’s something more going on. The more questions she asks, though, the more she crosses paths with Miles Beckett. He’s sexy, mysterious, arrogant…and he’s asking all the same questions.

Eleanor might not trust him—she doesn’t even like him—but they can’t keep their hands off of each other. Fighting the infuriating attraction is almost as hard as ignoring the fact that Miles isn’t telling her the truth…and that there’s a good chance he thinks she’s the killer.
I picked this book up for like 3 reasons.

1. I saw Sam post a positive review so I added to the old TBR.
2. There was a Veronica Mars comparison and I am a sucker for all thing VMars related.
3. It was going free for Kindle

I'm glad these things happened to get me to read, though, because it was damn fun. I do love a good mystery and although this one I figured out before the end there was still little things in there to keep me guessing.

I admit I was put off by the rich, private school setting for the book. I’ve read books where rich kids are just shown as the stereotypical over privileged, spoilt children and they are utterly unlikable. They aren’t given further personality or developed, thankfully that wasn’t the case here. Sure, there were characters who I didn’t like, but there was more depth to most of them and I knew a little about them to understand why they were or weren’t likeable. I think Ellie was one of the few not rich characters, I would have liked a couple more scholarship kids or something.

I was a little confused when I first began reading, while the set up to the story was happening. It felt like I was thrown right in there and was really lost about Eleanor’s past and her family and figuring out what was happening with her school. I had a vague idea of the premise but everything was mysterious, I figured out later the mystery surrounding Ellie’s past was probably intentional, but when I started reading I didn’t realise that so I just felt like I was missing something. Once it got going, though, I really got invested in the story to figure out both Ellie’s past but also what happened to Simon. I only wish we got to meet Simon because I didn’t really care about his death all that much and I felt like I probably should have.

Something that really sucked me in was the relationship between Ellie and Miles. They were both so fun together, Ellie all about bending the rules to get her way and Miles was strict black and white, following the rules. They were both so good together, though, with their banter and the fact they had such strong connection from the start. I loved slowly learning more about Miles and even though I did roll my eyes at pretty much all of this backstory because that was ridiculous, but I wanted a ridiculous book, so what did I expect? I did enjoy the one-upmanship happening between Miles and Ellie throughout. I was definitely reading for them and they are half the reason I'll read the next one too.

As a whole, there were flaws to this but I enjoyed myself and didn't want to stop reading. Considering I have had such a hard time reading lately I will not grumble about a couple of flaws but instead, celebrate a book I didn't want to put down.

Published: 17th April 2018
Source: Bought
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Mystery
My Rating:
Fans of Veronica Mars or Ally Carter will love the snarky, whip-smart former con artist Eleanor, in this sequel to Chasing Truth.

At Holden Prep, dirty little secrets always have a way of coming to the surface.

Eleanor Ames has never been what she seems. Average high school student on the outside, but reformed con artist trying to break free of her past on the inside. When Eleanor receives startling news about someone from her previous criminal life, plans for a new operation coinciding with her school’s upcoming field trip quickly consume her.

But operations rarely go according to plan. And this is one her irresistible teen FBI agent boyfriend, Miles, would never approve of.

Now, more than just Ellie’s reputation is at stake. If she fails, it could be her life.
I'm conflicted on this one. As you can tell from my review for the first book, I really enjoyed it. Sure, it had flaws and issues but as a whole, it was a brilliant read and I couldn’t wait to start reading it. It began quite slowly, and I was a little confused about where it was going. Much like I felt in the first book really, but once it got going I was pretty invested.

I’d been so excited to read this because I was totally invested in the relationship between Miles and Ellie. It looked like they were set to have a cute and bantery relationship so you can imagine my shock by his absence at the start of the book. I was once more reading for the mystery surrounding him. I didn’t understand why he went off the grid and when we learn why I didn’t totally believe it. I won’t spoil anything but his story in this book definitely involves a bit more suspension of disbelief. Just putting that out there. I didn’t get the cute, bantery relationship I had hoped for. There were still good moments but there was another story central to this book.

This book focused a lot more on Ellie’s past and her family. Her entire family are cons, including some ‘cousins’ and ‘uncles’ which probably aren’t related to her by blood. She is trying to redeem herself for her past actions and rectify things when it comes to her family. This book focuses on her relationship with her dad, which is rocky at best. I hadn’t understood her dislike for her dad in the first book and I’d hoped to have that clarified a little with this one but it really wasn’t. All I know is she has issues, which might have centred around her sister, but it really wasn’t clear, but I didn’t get why it was so extreme. I just didn’t get it. I actually really liked her family and would have loved learning more about all of them. You could Ellie cared about all of them in her own way.

One thing I did like about this book was the fact that characters who came across as spoiled rich kids got to come into their own and actually became real people. For me the character who really shone was Dominic. He got to grow into his own and we caught glimpses of his family and it turns out he was actually a really cool guy. The only thing which would have made me happier is if he had been honest with those around him about who he was. He was obviously a lot smarter and more caring than he was given credit for. I hated when Ellie talked down to him because he was totally badass and where more capable than he was given credit for. If there gets to be another book I want more of him, he was my favourite this time around.

I struggled with this book a bit. I found the mystery side a little ridiculous again, I just couldn’t believe Miles’s parents would be down for everything he did, it seemed too farfetched, not when they both seemed so caring and no caring parent would let Miles do what he was doing. I also felt like the story surrounding Ellie’s family was quite weak because I didn’t get her motivation for past actions when it came to them. I think if I’d binge read this one as I originally planned I may not have had so many questions and doubts. I did enjoy it, though. It was a fun read that involves you not overthinking things. I just hope there’s another book because I still have unanswered questions.

If you’ve read The Naturals series by Jennifer Lynn Barnes then I definitely think this is a series for you. Have you read this, what did you think? And what fun mystery series have you read and would recommend?

13 May 2018

Sunday Summary // 13.05.2018

Sunday Summary
Hi all. You might have noticed my frazzled state this week. This week was the week I vowed to get back into blogging and I became determined to kick my slumps butt. I didn’t totally succeed but I am getting back into the rhythm of blogging. I just need to remember how on earth I got organised in the first place because I am most definitely not keeping track of things at the moment.

I won’t bother trying to fill you all in on my life since my last proper Sunday post because I would be talking for hours. I have spent a lot of time with friends and making plans. A couple of my friends have had big life changes recently and it’s meant I’ve been seeing them a bit more. It’s been great, though, I think I hadn’t realised how little I’d seen them until I was making all these plans with them and that is totally awesome.

Like I said, this was the week of getting organised. Or, more the weekend of getting organised. I was determined this would be the weekend where I get my head on straight and sort out those little things I’ve been putting off. I have been suffering along with flat pillows and kept saying I was going to get new ones since I keep waking up with an achy back and shoulders but I finally bought new ones. Not tested them out yet but they definitely feel like I’ll sink into them. I also vowed to finally sort out the things I gained from my nan’s house. I had old books and random board games and just random stuff which I gained from her home which hadn’t found a place in my own home yet so I finally sorted those out. And I hung the pictures which I have been sat on my floor for far too long. I think I might have managed to get vaguely organised. I plan to get organised with blogging and blog related things over Sunday and next week. I want to have a mental plan for when and what I’m doing like I used to so fingers crossed for me guys.

I’ve hinted at work stuff before and there is still work stuff going on. I won’t talk about the bad, my friends and co-workers get enough of that from me so I won’t talk your ears off too, but my options are being considered. I am finding there are a few folks at work who are becoming good friends, though. We had an office party a few weeks back now and we all had a great time before heading out to a club after. There are was the usual drama from folks going out drinking but it was a great laugh and I got to know a couple of people way better for it. Who knew they were so fun? I am actually making plans to go to Birmingham Pride with a couple of folks from work this year. I’ve never been before but I’ve been told it’s a great day, they have food and drink on and there are various artists there. I think it’ll be different, at least, and I am all about doing different things.

What I’ve Been Reading

Shelter in PlaceAftermathChasing TruthHiding Lies
I’m not gonna do all the books since my last Sunday Summary post, you can see what I’ve read lately in my wrap up post. I have been in quite a slump so this is two weeks worth of books. I just don’t know what I want to read at the moment. Shelter in Place was a decent read, it had its problems but I did enjoy it. Aftermath was also a decent read and Kelley Armstrong always writes books which I enjoy but it also wasn’t love. I got Chasing Truth for free and I am so glad I did because that book was really fun. Definite love with that one, once I got used to the writing style, anyway. I immediately bought Hiding Lies when I finished and although that one hasn’t hooked me that’s more because I got sucked into fanfiction for a while and that’s all I wanted to read. Hopefully, I’ll finish that soon.

New To Me

Stillhouse LakeKillman CreekLucy in the SkySecret StarWrittin in RedThe Accidental HoneymoonBayou BornThe Ones Who Got AwayBayou MoonI Knew You Were TroubleBrooklynaireA Duke in Shining ArmourThe Prince Who Loved Me
So this is a months worth of new books and I admit it does demonstrate how much of a problem I have. In my defence, most of these were bought with a gift card. Actually, I think all but 5 of them were. Does that make it better? Probably not, oh well.
Grey SisterFrom Twinkle With LoveBarbed Wire HeartMelt for YouNowhere Else But HereOne Night WifeFrom Duke Till DawnHot AssetSpinning SilverAce of ShadesFinal Draft
And these are all the ARCs since last time I checked in. Maybe you can appreciate why I’m so frazzled when you see all these glorious books to read and me stuck in a reading slump. I am so excited for so many of them. maybe I’ll become a recluse for a while and catch up.
The NightingaleThe White Queen
And finally, I won a competition a little while back by Rachel over at Confessions of a Book Geek. One of my friends has been on at me to read The White Queen for a while and The Nightingale has been on my radar for a while so I am so very excited to start both of them.

And that is my bookish update. What have you been reading lately? Have I missed anything important while I’ve been gone?

10 May 2018

My Blogging Problems // Losing Track of Reviews

My Blogging Problems
Guys, I seriously feel like I’m losing my head. I know I’ve been very sporadic with my blogging of late but even so, I just can’t keep track of things.
This, in fact, isn’t even the post I intended to write when I sat down in front of my laptop. I was going to play review catch up tonight and then sort out a few discussion and tag posts for my blog (because this place is beginning to look neglected) but then I realised I had no clue which books I had and hadn’t reviewed on my blog. One book I had three separate drafts written up for reviewing it and none of them had the same things on there! I even thought I’d reviewed a book but hadn't and started to draft up ideas for another which I reviewed a couple of weeks ago. It’s a serious case of where is my mind?
And thus this post was born as I question whether or not anyone else finds themselves losing track of blog related things? I know half my issue is that I have been away, I’m not following my old mental blogging schedule so I’m left questioning what day it is. Also, I’ve stopped using my bullet journal because I’ve simply not been sat down for five minutes a day to fill it in and that used to help me plan out my days and my blog. I simply don’t know what I have and haven’t reviewed because of it, I used to have a lovely little list that helped me out. Instead, I am left staring at my Goodreads read shelf hoping I’ll remember if my little Goodreads review has been adapted and posted on my blog. Don’t even get me started on Amazon reviews.

Do you lose track of the books you have and haven’t reviewed as well? I want to know how you keep track of the books you’ve reviewed on your blog. Do you even bother? I mean, I’ve done a couple of rereads and I don’t know if I’ve reviewed those before and I know I can search my blog but I want an easier way to know if I’ve reviewed it before. It’s bugging me. I am not traditionally organised and tidy (seriously, I am a bombs gone off, organised chaos kind of girl) but usually I can remember the important things (like what books I’ve got left to review) but currently I feel like Velma when she loses her glasses, my brain is gone and I don’t know what’s going on.

Give me all the blogging organisation tips and make me feel less lost and confused, please? How do you keep track of your books? I want to know your secrets!