Review Books

Queenie by by Candice Carty-Williams


 

Bridget Jones’s Diary meets Americanah in this disarmingly honest, boldly political, and truly inclusive novel that will speak to anyone who has gone looking for love and found something very different in its place.

Queenie Jenkins is a 25-year-old Jamaican British woman living in London, straddling two cultures and slotting neatly into neither. She works at a national newspaper, where she’s constantly forced to compare herself to her white middle class peers. After a messy break up from her long-term white boyfriend, Queenie seeks comfort in all the wrong places…including several hazardous men who do a good job of occupying brain space and a bad job of affirming self-worth.

As Queenie careens from one questionable decision to another, she finds herself wondering, “What are you doing? Why are you doing it? Who do you want to be?”—all of the questions today’s woman must face in a world trying to answer them for her.

With “fresh and honest” (Jojo Moyes) prose, Queenie is a remarkably relatable exploration of what it means to be a modern woman searching for meaning in today’s world.

This book didn’t feel like a Bridget Jones-ish book at all. Queenie Jenkins was one hot mess of a twenty five year old daughter of a Jamaican mother and a British father. It took me almost a week to get through this book as well as a couple of bottles of moscato too.

From the beginning of the book, Queenie starts off in crisis. Queenie’s longtime boyfriend asked her for some space as he wasn’t sure about their relationship which caused Queenie to feel lost. She expressed that she didn’t know who she was without him. Right on the heels of the breakup, Queenie learned that she recently suffered a miscarriage and she just felt apart. In her loneliness and despair, Queenie began making desperate decisions like hook ups with random strangers from dating apps. Queenie has a group of girlfriends “The Corgies” that she shares whats going on with her. The girls party together, have lunch together and have a group chat with amusing banter. Each girlfriend tried in their own way to get Queenie to face her demons.

I have to be honest. This book was difficult for me to enjoy. It dealt with racism, identity crisis, depression, anxiety, dubious consent, sexual promiscuity and the black culture’s dismissal of mental health professionals. Most of this book was just disheartening as Queenie just walked around in a fog of self destructive behavior. I felt bad for her grandmother who was at a lost as to how to help Queenie. She had serious mental health issues and I spent most of the book expecting some really terrible to happen to Queenie.

One of the biggest issues with Queenie, admiration for white men coupled with her disdain for black man and wasn’t really explored. It’s part of her self-loathing behavior and why she let those men treat her so deplorably. But at the same time she is so outraged by the treatment of the black people in who were racially profiled and killed. There were good things about this novel, the cover, the friendships, family relationships and eventual steps to get to the root of her issues. I disliked a lot of things as well. I would recommend it as it was a realistic view of a person in crisis and that there is light at the end of the tunnel when dealing with mental health issues.

Advanced Reading Copy was received from Netgalley

Audiobook, Blogger Themes, Contemporary Romance, Review Books

The Girl He Used to Know by Tracey Garvis Graves


Title: The Girl He Used to Know by Tracey Garvis Graves
Series:
Narrated By:
Release Date: April 2, 2019
Format: Audiobook (4hrs and 59 mins)
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Blurb: Annika (rhymes with Monica) Rose, is an English major at the University of Illinois. Anxious in social situations where she finds most people’s behavior confusing, she’d rather be surrounded by the order and discipline of books or the quiet solitude of playing chess.

Jonathan Hoffman joined the chess club and lost his first game–and his heart–to the shy and awkward, yet brilliant and beautiful Annika. He admires her ability to be true to herself, quirks and all, and accepts the challenges involved in pursuing a relationship with her. Jonathan and Annika bring out the best in each other, finding the confidence and courage within themselves to plan a future together. What follows is a tumultuous yet tender love affair that withstands everything except the unforeseen tragedy that forces them apart, shattering their connection and leaving them to navigate their lives alone.

Now, a decade later, fate reunites Annika and Jonathan in Chicago. She’s living the life she wanted as a librarian. He’s a Wall Street whiz, recovering from a divorce and seeking a fresh start. The attraction and strong feelings they once shared are instantly rekindled, but until they confront the fears and anxieties that drove them apart, their second chance will end before it truly begins.

I am not a big fan of second chance romances but I love this author’s work so I was willing to take a chance on this book.

This novel was written from the perspective of the main characters Annika and Jonathan, and it vacillates from their past to their present. Annika Rose and Jonathan Hoffman met at college at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champagn as members of the chess club. Annika was a shy and socially awkward girl who showed signs of having either Asperger’s Syndrome or Autism. Jonathan was a confident transfer student who wants intrigued with Annika, especially with her chess expertise. Their friendship blossomed into a sweet college romance love and she ended up ghosting him after he graduated.

Ten years later, Annika accidentally ran into Jonathan at the grocery store so she asked him out for coffee. Annika saw this an opportunity to right a wrong from almost a decade ago. The readers get glimpses into the people they were back in college and who Annika and Jonathan are ten years later.
The story moves at an even pace, allowing the reader to get into the characters head and experience their emotions. It was certainly educational for me to see how different and challenging everyday occurrences can be for someone whose brain is wired is different from mine.

Tracey Garvis Gravis did a great job of presenting Annika and Simon without making it overly emotional and sappy. I also loved her addition of Janice, Annika’s roommate in college and current best friend. It was a journey of growth, independence and learning from one’s mistakes. It is also about communicating, understanding and having empathy for others who may not be just like you. It was very subtle the way the author mended something that was thought to be broken a long time ago resulting in a beautiful and more mature love. I enjoy stories where characters evolve and as a reader, I learn something new. I will definitely recommend it to others.

Audiobook, Contemporary Romance, New Adult, Review Books

Fighting for Flight (Fighting #1) by J.B. Salsbury


Fighting for Flight by J.B. Salsbury
My rating: ❤️❤️❤️½
Narrator: Ryan West and Erin Mallon

BLURB: What happens when in order to win, you’re forced to lose?

The only daughter of an infamous Las Vegas pimp, Raven Morretti grew up an outsider. Liberated from the neglectful home of her prostitute mother, she finds solace as a mechanic. With few friends, she’s content with the simple life. Flying under the radar is all she knows, and more than she expects.

Until she catches the eye of local celebrity, UFL playboy Jonah Slade.

Weeks away from his title fight, Jonah is determined to stay focused on everything he’s trained so hard to achieve. Undefeated in the octagon, he’s at the height of his career. But resisting Raven’s effortless allure and uncomplicated nature is a fight he can’t win.

Jonah trades in his bad-boy reputation and puts his heart on the line. But when her father contacts her, setting in motion the ugly truth of her destiny, Jonah must choose. In a high-stakes gamble where love and freedom hang in the balance, a war is waged where the price of losing is a fate worse than death.

Will the hotheaded Jonah be able to restrain his inner fighter to save the woman he loves? Or will Raven be forced into a life she’s been desperate to avoid?


I enjoy this story and will certainly listen to the next book. The main characters were very likable. It was sweet but it lacked a little depth and complexity. I also had to adjust to the narrator’s voice as it was whiny for adult woman.

Raven Moretti was a loner who worked as a mechanic who lived above the garage where she worked. Raven had no meaningful relation with her parents as her father was a feared Las Vegas pimp and her mother was one of his prized hookers. Neither seemed to have much need for familial ties and while her mother raised her, Raven never really felt loved growing up.

When one of the hottest MMA fighters, Jonah Slade “The Assassin”, came to Raven’s garage to get help restoring an antique car, it was an instantaneous attraction.
Raven was a naive virgin who radiated goodness. She was kind and had alley cat she named Dog. Whereas Jonah was a notorious playboy who didn’t bed the same woman twice. That day, he insisted Raven move in his home with him and they became an item. Then the past comes to claim Raven’s future with Jonah.

The story was sweet but painfully predictable. I don’t think its necessary to make a 20 year old loner into a naive, clueless woman. It’s more probable that a daughter of a Las Vegas prostitute and pimp would be street saavy, distrustful or at least cautious and less emotional. But Raven was the opposition. She was disappointingly gullible and helpless. Jonah also went from being a manwhore overnight to wanting to cuddle a virgin he just met with no expectations. It did provide some sweetness to the harsh reality of her father’s cruel plans for her.

Her father Vincent Moretti was a ruthless and sadistic piece of work who clearly lacked a moral bone in his body. The author didn’t really do a good job of developing the antagonist other than just introducing him as the monster of this book. His callous indifference was in direct contrast to the good-heartedness Jonah’s family and the others around couple showed Raven and Jonah. Overall, it was a satisfying read.


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Audiobook, Contemporary Romance, New Adult, Review Books, young adult

The Heartbreakers (The Heartbreakers Chronicles, #1) by Ali Novak


The Heartbreakers (The Heartbreakers Chronicles, #1)The Heartbreakers by Ali Novak
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

BLURB: “When I met Oliver Perry, I had no clue he was the lead singer for The Heartbreakers. And he had no idea that I was the only girl in the world who hated his music.”

Stella will do anything for her sick sister, Cara—even stand in line for an autographed Heartbreakers CD…for four hours. She’s totally winning best birthday gift this year. At least she met a cute boy with soft brown hair and gorgeous blue eyes while getting her caffeine fix. Too bad she’ll never see him again.

Except, Stella’s life has suddenly turned into a cheesy love song. Because Starbucks Boy is Oliver Perry – lead singer for the Heartbreakers. And even after she calls his music crap, Oliver still gives Stella his phone number. And whispers quotes from her favorite Disney movie in her ear. OMG, what is her life?

But how can Stella even think about being with Oliver — dating and laughing and pulling pranks with the band — when her sister could be dying of cancer?

This was a cute story about Family, Health and Personal Growth.
Stella, Drew and Cara are triplets who are close and they feel helpless because Cara isn’t winning her battle with non Hodgkin lymphoma.
When Cara’s favorite boy band “The Heartbreakers” were in town, Stella and Drew decided to get her a signed poster from the band. Stella ended up meeting the lead Singer Oliver on her Starbucks run and they didn’t know each other so they flirted with each other.

It started a romance between Stella and Oliver, it also helped Stella deal with her guilt about Cara’s cancer and begin to make plans that didn’t revolve around her sister’s cancer.

I love that the focus was on family, personal growth, the effect of cancer on the remaining family, the guilt, the fear of not being around in case your sick family member needed you etc.
The romance was a sub plot and it was tastefully done. I really liked this story.

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Audiobook, New Adult, Paranormal Romance, Review Books, Urban Fantasy, Werewolf shifters, young adult

Bitten (Once Bitten, Twice Shy, #1) by Noelle Marie


Bitten (Once Bitten, Twice Shy, #1)Bitten by Noelle Marie
Narrated by: Sarah Mollo-Christensen
Length: 10 hrs and 30 mins
Series: Once Bitten, Twice Shy, Book 1
Release Date: 04-25-17

Blurb:Bastian had to have been the most handsome man that Katherine had ever met. It really was unfortunate that he was also the most stubborn, controlling, downright infuriating jackass she’d ever known as well. Oh, and there was the fact that he was a werewolf – a werewolf who has bitten her.

Sixteen-year-old Katherine Mayes had never believed in mythological creatures like werewolves or mermaids – certainly not those sparkly vampires that her friend Abby was obsessed with. Even when she’s bitten by a massive animal after a reckless night of teenage adventure and her body begins to change in mystifying ways, she can’t force herself to believe in what she’s convinced is impossible. Little does she realize she’s been infected with a disease a little more permanent than the rabies she feels fortunate to have not contracted.

Lycanthropy.

Her fierce denial is soundly shattered, however, when she is simultaneously saved and kidnapped by Bastian and his pack. Forced to leave small town Iowa behind and adjust to their way of life in a hidden society, Katherine must also deal with fighting the pull she feels towards the man – or wolf, rather – who has bitten her and disrupted her life so completely.


If you have watched Episode 1 of Teen Wolf, then you know most of this story verbatim. Katherine was out where she shoukdnky have been, she got bitten by a wolf then her body started changing. She craved raw meat, body temperature was elevated significantly, dense of smell was heightened etc.

Bastian, leader of the wolf pack, comes to guide her through her change. She is resistant at first because the idea of supernaturals is crazy and Bastian is forced to kidnap her and keep her with his pack. A romance begins to develop etc.

The book was poorly written. It was too elementary in wording, predictable, cliche and so formulaic that it felt plagiarized. This is a book one should read before you read Twilight or any more complex PNR. You can’t experience writers like Patricia Briggs or Ilona Andrews and enjoy a book like this because it was sooo basic in plot, grammar and narrative. I can’t even fathom moving on to book 2.

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Audiobook, Dragon Shifter, Paranormal Romance, Review Books, Urban Fantasy

Minimum Wage Magic (DFZ #1) by Rachel Aaron


Minimum Wage Magic (DFZ #1)Minimum Wage Magic by Rachel Aaron
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Blurb: The DFZ, the metropolis formerly known as Detroit, is the world’s most magical city with a population of nine million and zero public safety laws. That’s a lot of mages, cybernetically enhanced chrome heads, and mythical beasties who die, get into debt, and otherwise fail to pay their rent. When they can’t pay their bills, their stuff gets sold to the highest bidder to cover the tab.

That’s when they call me. My name is Opal Yong-ae, and I’m a Cleaner: a freelance mage with an art history degree who’s employed by the DFZ to sort through the mountains of magical junk people leave behind. It’s not a pretty job, or a safe one—there’s a reason I wear bite-proof gloves—but when you’re deep in debt in a lawless city where gods are real, dragons are traffic hazards, and buildings move around on their own, you don’t get to be picky about where your money comes from. You just have to make it work, even when the only thing of value in your latest repossessed apartment is the dead body of the mage who used to live there.

I really liked this spinoff although it felt like a whole new series.
Opal Young-Ae is a cleaner who is trying to survive and maintain her independence by paying her bills on time. Opal stumbled on to a house with a dead man, but his notes indicated that he died protecting a valuable secret.

While it’s set in the DFZ, we don’t get a major crossover with The Heartstriker clan although there was a mention of the dragon who protected the City. Opal lays a foundation for her own journey towards freedom from parental interference just like Julius and she also makes a key ally with another cleaner Nick. I like the subtle attraction the author intimated with Nick and Opal so I look forward to some romance in book 2.

If you loved Heartstriker series, then you will love this one as well because the creative storytelling and plot is the same. The characters are likeable and you want to root for them. Rachel Aaron is quickly becomes an autobuy author for me.
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Audiobook, Paranormal Romance, Review Books, Werewolf shifters

Five Weeks (Seven, #3) by Dannika Dark


Five Weeks by Dannika Dark
Destiny will find you.

Izzy has always loved the freedom and adventure of life on the road, but she’s recently decided to settle down—as much as a rogue wolf can. When her boyfriend gets her a job working at a hot Shifter bar, she runs into the last person on earth she expected to see again.

Jericho isn’t the famous rock star he once was, though he still plays in a local band and loves to party. Beautiful women come and go, but music is his only passion—until a sassy redhead named Isabelle Monroe shows up unexpectedly.

Fate reunites two former friends living with one foot in the present and the other in the past. But will they have a future when one of them is forced to choose between life and death? Old habits die hard, and sometimes the toughest addictions to shake are the ones that control our hearts.

I liked Izzy and her independent streak. It must have been so hard being around Jericho, her best friend and having a front row (pun intended) seat to his self-destructive behavior.

I am shocked that she moved in with such a douche-bag like Hawk, a guy that she knew nothing about, not even his birthday. I felt like she was using him for a place to stay and he knew that so he took liberties and was using/grooming her as well.

Jericho’s brothers and his band mates treated Izzy with disrespect. And how Jericho would say that Izzy was his best friend but believe she would rob him and leave him for dead in the state he was in, just boggles my mind. Wheeler and Denver, while protective of Jericho, didn’t have to treat her in the way they did so I didn’t really care for them in this book. Packs can protect their own without browbeating a lone shifter.

This book had various shifters, bear, eagle, deer etc. I like that we got to see traits of other animals manifest in their human actions. I also liked the bar where Izzy worked. It gave it an MC feel at the same time it had a Rock romance feel.
At the end of the day, Izzy and Jericho made this story entertaining. I do like that they found their way back to each other and that Jericho worked to maintain his sobriety. He sounds like a much better person without the ugly side of his rock star lifestyle.

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