#ARC Review || Worked Up By Tessa Bailey || Warm and Fuzzy Feelings

Worked Up by Tessa Bailey
ARC via Entangled
This did not influence my review or opinion
Goodreads || Amazon 
Published August 1, 2016

Factory mechanic Duke Crawford just wants to watch SportsCenter in peace. Unfortunately, living with four divorcee sisters doesn’t provide much silence, nor does it change his stance on relationships. But when a fellow commitment-phobe stumbles into his life, getting him good and worked up, he can’t deny his protective instincts.

Samantha Waverly’s brother just put her in an impossible situation. The only way out? Marry huge, gruff, gladiator look-alike Duke—for show, of course. She doesn’t make promises—she knows too well how easily they can be broken—and this is no exception.

As the blistering attraction between them grows, the lines around the no-strings relationship blur. But Duke and Samantha’s marriage is only for show…or is it?

I’m a mood reader, and this book was exactly what I was looking for.
WORKED UP by Tessa Baily caught my eye first on NetGalley, then in the email I received from the publisher offering up a review copy. After reading the summary I was like COME TO MAMA. To put it lightly. I really, really enjoyed this book. That was also put lightly. Then I downloaded it onto my GORGEOUS aqua and purple Kindle and read the author’s note. . .safe to say that’s when I fell in love and decided that I needed all book ever written/ will be written by Tessa Bailey.
I would just like to say ma’am, you’re amazing. You deserve a theme song. I love you.
SO THE BOOK WAS AWESOME. LIKE SUPER CUTE AND INCREDIBLY LAUGHABLE. Duke and Samantha were characters that matched each other’s patters so well. Not like mirror, but as in their personalities complimented the others. I don’t think I’ve read a book with this many puns. It is actually the best thing ever. Duke and Samantha are incredibly well fleshed-out characters. I felt comfortable with them, and like I knew them.
So what is WORKED UP actually about?
Well, Samantha’s in Hook to meet her brother, head of the industry in town, but before she’s able to she runs into Duke. Duke is not the typical romance hero—not in looks (he’s a working guy who isn’t chiseled with a six-pack…. it’s about time), and not in personality. At first. As we get to know him more, we all realize that everyone in the world needs one. Samantha puts it very adequately when she mentions all the buses being packed if people knew that Duke was there. People would indeed flock.
(except for my best friend, who would find him let-me-help-you actions more offensive than anything else, even though she reminds me pretty much To A Tee of Samantha personality-wise)
Back to Duke and Samantha. So Duke is Duke (you’ll have to get to know more about when you read the book; I don’t want to reveal too much!) and Samantha is well…Samantha. They’re both afraid of commitment. Samantha is a children’s book illustrator who dreams of running her own business. She is actually the sweetest.
With the premise of the book—and yes, I’m talking the fake marriage—I expected her to be devious. At least a little bit. But she is actually the nicest human being on the planet. Another reason she compliments gruff yet romantic Duke. (can you hear my dreamy sigh. I heard my dreamy sigh.)
Say no to devious females, yes to a-typical romance heroes, and yes learning how to trust and love and what it means to have someone by your side. WORKED UP is all about getting up and putting yourself back together, and a little bit about figuring out what you really need. The steam fogging up my reading glasses due to the sexual tension radiating off of the two main characters wasn’t bad either.

So if you’re wondering if I could put my feeling for this book into song, well, I can. This book is dancing away with my heart. I recommend buying a copy ASAP. You won’t regret it.

New Favorite || #Review: How to Keep Rolling After a Fall by Karole Cozzo

Amazon || Goodreads
ARC via Andye@ ReadingTeen
August 2, 2016

After a cyber bullying incident turns her life upside down, a handsome wheelchair rugby player shows a former mean girl that everyone deserves a second chance in this swoonworthy new novel from the author of How to Say I Love You Out Loud.

The party was at her house. The photos were posted to her Facebook account. That’s all the evidence anyone needed to condemn Nikki Baylor for a cyberbullying incident that humiliated a classmate and nearly resulted in the girl’s suicide. Now Nikki’s been expelled from her old school, her friends have abandoned her, and even her own parents can’t look her in the eye. With her plans for the future all but destroyed, Nikki resigns herself to being the girl everyone hates – almost as much as she hates herself. But then Nikki meets Pax, a spirited wheelchair rugby player who knows what it’s like when one mistake completely shatters your life. Refusing to judge her because of her past, he shows her that everyone deserves a second chance… and everyone deserves to be loved.

“This boy is one of the only people in the world who still see me as a person” (ARC). 

I really enjoyed this book. Like y’all, I really, really, enjoyed this book. And, to be honest, I’d been putting it off for a little while. Not only because of school work, but because I was becoming less and less interested as time went on. However, once I started this book I really could not stop. It begins with the Nikki running into the brother of the girl whose pictures were leaked, and Pax commenting to her about some aspect of life and the beauty of it. Sort of. He treats her like she’s human, which hasn’t happened for some time (months) and he’s just so stinkin’ sweet. (cue the fan girl squealing because y’all he’s my literal soul mate) This is a story about the other side of bullying, family relationships, and (as cheesy as it sounds) how to keep rolling after a fall.

I could literally fan girl all day long about Pax. Pax is confined to a wheelchair after a car accident. He’s the eternal optimist, generally happy dude. He’s sort of tasked himself with making Nikki see the life after a negative defining moment. He takes her to fairs, and impromptu sushi dates, and tries not to fall in love with her. Because the negative moment doesn’t make her who she is, and he knows that. He works to help he forgive herself, and offer up forgiveness. He is what we call a round character in English class. Fully fleshed out. Capable of knowing and growing and being. Dynamic and lovely.

Nikki, like Pax, is capable of growing and knowing and being. After her fall resulted in a very public form of hate, and a sort of outcast from her family, she’s pretty much done. She’s switched schools, lacking friends, and lacking support from herm om and dad. I felt for her. I felt for her so incredibly much. I’m amazed that I felt for the the capacity that I did, and the Other Side Of The Story was amazing. And important. Because then I got the whole story.

The reader gets to see the how friendships develop, and how life changes, and the depth of human mistakes and insecurities. We get to see how everyone involved turns out, and how not everything ends that way we want it to. But that makes it real and true.

Overall, I really like this book. The plot is centered around the development of Nikki, and the aftermath of the bullying. With the swoon-worthy characters and the great story line, I totally recommend this book.

Serial Killers and Gender Equality and Lada from AND I DARKEN

“I am not something to be kept!”
I don’t like Lada, but I do love her. She’s horrible to her younger brother (who I just plain don’t like) and thinks of herself above all others. She strives for the love of her father, Vlad, until the day he gives her and her brother away to the Ottoman Empire. This female version of Vlad the Impaler is brutal; she’s vicious in a take no prisoner’s persona that made me want to swoon. She’s horrible as a human, by today’s standards. In the 1400-1500s, she’s got the personality that would make any father proud—if not a bit fearful—for a son. 
She’s a daughter.
AND I DARKEN is the tale of Lada’s quest to distinguish between femininity and masculinity. She wants to be a warlord, a prince, the ruler of her people. She wants to dominate the world. Unfortunately, she was born with the wrong body parts. Lada uses her own savagery to make a same for herself and distinguish a place for herself among the men.
While females aren’t quite as brutal as Lada now days in hopes of conquering all of human kind (I mean, females commit only about 11 percent of all murders, and men 98 percent of all mass shooting, as commented on in this Bustle article). One of the bigger myths about serial killers that have persisted through time if that there are only male serial killers. Folks, this is simply not true. The Femme Fatal idea came from somewhere, some person. A woman.
This is one of the reasons why I found Lada, the female version of Vlad the Impaler, such an intriguing notion. Not only is she re-writing a male story, but she’s ingraining the basic struggles of the everyday woman from the 1400-1500s. Men were thought to be superior to women. And Lada challenged all those ideas with a force to be reckoned with. She didn’t flinch at pain, and the loved the idea of brutally taking down her enemy. And all through this, she struggled with the idea of who to love, and how much to love them.
Equality takes many forms, of course. The feminist movement’s birth was in the 50’s, and Roe V. Wade (legalizing abortions, and the right to choose to have one, if the woman so desires) was approved by the Supreme Court in 1973.
Still, people are trying to overturn the ruling that gave women the right to choose, or to choose not. Social justice and equality for all is a hard medicine to swallow across all of time, people. Let’s go back to talking about Lada, the girl of the hour.
Is this not sort of what she fought for? The right to choose her own destiny? To go to war if the wanted to, and if she was more than able to? The right to want who she wanted, and to not feel guilty for doing so? To be recognized for her status as a princess born from death and brutality and not for her vagina?


#ARC Review: A Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet

A Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet
Amazon || Goodreads 
Published August 2, 2016 || Sourcebooks Casablanca
eARC via Netgalley + Publisher

Catalia “Cat” Fisa is a powerful clairvoyant known as the Kingmaker. This smart-mouthed soothsayer has no interest in her powers and would much rather fly under the radar, far from the clutches of her homicidal mother. But when an ambitious warlord captures her, she may not have a choice…

Griffin is intent on bringing peace to his newly conquered realm in the magic-deprived south. When he discovers Cat is the Kingmaker, he abducts her. But Cat will do everything in her power to avoid her dangerous destiny and battle her captor at every turn. Although up for the battle, Griffin would prefer for Cat to help his people willingly, and he’s ready to do whatever it takes to coax her…even if that means falling in love with her.

Once upon a time, in a land overwhelmed by magic and mystic, there was a man and a woman. The woman went by the name of Cat: she has the power to rule the land, even though all she really wants to do is escape her blood-thirsty also magical mother. The man is named Griffin and he just took a kingdom from those with magic in their blood for the first time since anyone can remember. A PROMISE OF FIRE chronicles Cat’s accepting of her magic and Griffin’s first steps as a new royal. He finds her, kidnaps her, and falls in love with her. Cat doesn’t give away her emotions easily however. Chased by dragons, interfering gods, and a warlord who just won’t give up: Cat’s got her hands full.
I like Cat. She’s spunky, abrasive, a little bit shattered, and tells it like she means it. Even after getting kidnapped from the only family whose really loved her she continues to fight (even if some of the decisions are….less than) for her freedom and her safety. I really liked how I got to know her as the book went on instead of an information dump in the beginning. That all being said, I had a bit of an issue with how Griffin handled. Actually I had a bit of an issue with Griffin (not to be confused with his compatriots, who I love with all my being) overall.
It might be the whole kidnapping thing. That sort of set us off on the wrong foot. Or it could be the whole persistence thing. I usually am all for the never-give-up persona, but it just looked weird on Griffin. I wasn’t a fan of his character interactions. For a warlord he seemed to be all bark and no bite. (okay, yes. I read the fight scenes, but some of the other parts…ugh.) I just didn’t find him to be a believable character, even for a fantasy. I love magic and sorcery and strength and dragons and kingdoms being taken over as much as the next girl, but I wanted mooooore.
And I found myself thinking that quite a bit with this book. I really loved the story and I really liked Cat. I liked Griffin’s troop. I just didn’t like him all that much. I wanted to know more about the darker side of the magic-run kingdoms. This really felt like a First Book; it sets the stage for the continuation of the series and give background information. That’s not a bad thing—just not really what I wanted.

Overall, it was a good book. I enjoyed reading it. However, I wanted a more complete book. When I finished, the first thing I thought was ‘that’s it?’ and I don’t think that’s how a book should end emotion-wise.

#BookLook || The Museum of Heartbreak by Meg Leder

the museum of heartbreak

the museum of heartbreak by nobentspines featuring platform ankle booties

My Two Cents

Those boots are a necessity for every closet, I do believe. Like, OMG. All that color means that they have got to go with everything…right? 
About the Book

In this ode to all the things we gain and lose and gain again, seventeen-year-old Penelope Marx curates her own mini-museum to deal with all the heartbreaks of love, friendship, and growing up.
Welcome to the Museum of Heartbreak.
Well, actually, to Penelope Marx’s personal museum. The one she creates after coming face to face with the devastating, lonely-making butt-kicking phenomenon known as heartbreak.
Heartbreak comes in all forms: There’s Keats, the charmingly handsome new guy who couldn’t be more perfect for her. There’s possibly the worst person in the world, Cherisse, whose mission in life is to make Penelope miserable. There’s Penelope’s increasingly distant best friend Audrey. And then there’s Penelope’s other best friend, the equal-parts-infuriating-and-yet-somehow-amazing Eph, who has been all kinds of confusing lately.
But sometimes the biggest heartbreak of all is learning to let go of that wondrous time before you ever knew things could be broken.

I’m Really Sorry I Didn’t Finish That One Series || A Conversation Post

I have a love / hate relationship with series.
Our story goes a little like this: buy the first book (LOVEEEE IT WITH ALL MY SOUL). Next book doesn’t come out for five-odd years later. Forgets what happens in first book and is too lazy to re-read or even look at a book summary for the first book. Love for first book becomes inconsequential and I never finish the series.
Our story could also go a little like this: buy first book (LOOOOOOVE IT WITH ALL THAT I AM). All books are out (AND PROCEEDS TO BUY ALL THE BOOKS). Realizes that there a way more books than I thought there were. Now, this next step goes either one of two ways. One, I read all the books in one sitting, stopping for nothing more than shoving oxygen in my lungs and exhaling carbon dioxide. Or, two, I just stare at all the covers for the next five years because they’re all so dang pretty but I just don’t feel like making that kind of commitment.
I’m a little lazy and a little in love when it comes to books that aren’t stand-alones.
Let me just do a quick list of a few series I haven’t finished. Leave a comment if you recognize any, or if you can add a few of your own to the list!

-The Selection seriesby Kiera Cass-Rosemary Beach seriesby Abbi Glines-Daughters of Smoke and Bone series by Laini Taylor-Shatter Me series by Tahereh Mafi-The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare

It’s not that I don’t want to read the books exactly. I just get distracted. By all the pretty covers. OKAY. This isn’t as weird as it sounds. In series, the covers look alike. I like variation, so while I adore how all the covers look together, I just can’t get myself to get over the covers. When I have the choice between one-of-these-is-not-like-the-others, I’m going to go with that one.
It’s a not-so-awesome idiosyncrasy. Whoops?  

So, tell me, what are some series that you should really probably finish? And do you have any weird idiosyncrasies that make people look at you a little funny? 

A Note on the #BookLooks

Hey babes!

As you may have noticed, the book look posts are looking a bit wonky. Blogger is going though some changes and I’m trying to keep up.

(note on keeping up, I seriously need up update my review archive!)

Stay with me while I update all 90+ posts so that they look all beautiful again. My goal is to get it done before I move out for college in the fall.

Thanks for you understanding + patience!

Review: Bully by Penelope Douglas || Oh, How the Mighty Fall

Bully by Penelope Douglas
Goodreads || Amazon
Published February 18, 2014

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Penelope Douglas delivers an unforgettable New Adult romance that toes the fine line between love and hate…

My name is Tate. He doesn’t call me that, though. He’ll barely refer to me at all, and he’ll hardly ever speak to me.

But he still won’t leave me alone.

We were best friends once. Then he turned on me and made it his mission to ruin my life. I’ve been humiliated, shut out, and gossiped about all through high school. His pranks and rumors got worse as time wore on. I even went to Europe for a year, just to avoid him.

But I’m done hiding from him now, and there’s no way I’ll allow him to ruin another year. He might not have changed, but I have.

It’s time to fight back.

When one brave young woman stands up to her best friend Jared, now tormenter, the consequences go beyond anything either of them ever would have imagined… 

I would not read this review if you haven’t read the book. Or go ahead and read it. Live your best life, babe. 

Curiosity killed the cat. (in this instance, I happen to be that cat)
I’ve been curious about BULLY ever since I saw those hella swoony quotes on pinterest (you know the ones I’m talking about) and when I got some graduation money, I decided to finally buck up and buy it. The anticipation was killing me, so, naturally, I waited a good week before reading the book.
Maybe it was because my expectations were so high (I don’t think so, but maybe). I have so many complaints. However, I’ll start with this: that star is for the girl who survived. Even if I don’t agree with much of what she did when she came back, that star for the book is for her.
I’m just going to note again that there will be spoilers. Mostly because this review is going to be me getting to rant to the world about my anger.
Complain Number One:You fudgeing two-faced cheeseball. I hate you. Like, I really, really hate you. You’re supposed to be Tate’s best friend, K.C. Her supporter, her cheerleader. You’re not supposed to freaking hook up with her bully just because he’s sort of nice to you, and really attractive. You are sure as hell not supposed to indicate that Tate is the problem.
New flash, cheeseball: she is not the problem. He is. And now you are too. Tate may be able to forgive your cheeseballiness, but I read this book like a week ago and I’m still furious. You kept me up at night because I was seething over what a horrible best friend you are, and how I hope that my friends would never just tell me to get over two years of my life where someone I loved and would have done anything for just suddenly turned on me and decided to make it hard for me to freaking get up in the morning.
I think I may actually be angrier at you than I am at Jared. And that, babe, is saying something. And it’s nothing good.
(for those of you wondering, I think of her as Dolores Umbridge)
Complaint Number Two:The slut shaming in this book was ridiculous. Grow the heck up, cheeseballs. Tate, this is where you pissed me the fudge-nuggets off. Everyone around her looked “slutty.” And she’s good with being called a “bitch” because there is honor in that, but there is no honor in being called a “slut”. I don’t know about y’all but I don’t want to be called a bitch, and I don’t want to be called a slut. I don’t want a female who does what she wants with her own freaking body to be degraded.
You shouldn’t either. It’s her body; get the heck over it.
I mean, seriously: stop, sTOP, STOOOOP.
Good lord, y’all. You need Jesus.
Complaint Number Three: Let’s talk about the bullies. Let’s talk about unforgivable. Let’s also, while we are here, talk about the two men who can’t get their heads out of their behinds. AND FINALLY, LET’S TALK ABOUT HOW BULLYING SOMEONE MORE TO GET SOMEONE ELSE TO SNAP OUT OF BULLYING THAT PERSON IS NOT HOW IT FREAKING WORKS, YOU FUDGING CHEESEBALL.
I am angry. Jared and Madoc are best friends. They’re both beautiful on the outside. And for some reason which was never actually explained, the entire school worships the ground these boys walk on. I assume it’s because the world is vain and they are beautiful.
I hate them both, in case y’all haven’t quite gotten that yet. They’re bullies. When Tate goes to the races with K.C. and Jared has her race for him in a tie-breaker and she wins, Madoc decides that she is worth his time. (this make me want to bash his face in, but I’m not a violent person so I just stared angrily at my Kindle) He reveals reason for his bullying (see above, all caps and light blue) like this just makes everything okay and now things are freaking roses. Tate forgives him too easily. Or maybe I’m just fantastic at holding grudges. *shrugs*
Then there’s Jared. Later in the book he reveals what changed over the summer. Let me just say one thing: what pain you feel does not equate to you hurting someone who loves you—to hurting anyone. I’m sorry what happened to him did (I am) but that is not an excuse. The moments Tate stood behind her anger, or decided to just let it all go and move on, I was cheering. But, when she erred on the side of being friends with the people who hurt her, I just can’t stand behind that.
He asked once if he really had lost her, said she was always his and that he was always hers. I wanted to tell him that yes, you freaking lost her. Your actions have consequences.You messed up more than you can possibly imagine. You turned into a monster and scarred the person who loved you until she could not recognize herself, or you, in the mirror. So yes, you lost her. That fear Jared had should have stayed with him. It should have been more than a regret: it should have been a memory.

Obviously this is not what happened. This is why I am angry.

That Time Where I Realized the Extent I Adore Cultures || The Wrath and The Dawn

Persian Food Edition

While all the Twitter ARC Drama happened the other day I decided to stick my head in the sand (or rather The Wrath and The Dawn) and keep on keeping on rather than get involved. The arguments been said a thousand times, and yet this still seems to be a reoccurring thing. Before I get into the actual meat of the post let me say this: there is a freaking reason that publishers put NOT FOR SALE/RESALE on the cover, the spine, the back, and inside ARCs. How about we not sell them, not horde them, and just not generally do mean, stupid things? Yeah? How does that sound?
Now that I’ve addressed that let’s talk about Persian food. Specifically, the food as noted in The Wrath and the Dawn:

I’m not the only one who thinks that this sounds absolutely divine, right? Yogurt + cucumbers? Lamb + dates? Berries + roasted tomatoes? This literally makes me want to put a chef had on and get cooking. Also buy jewels and scarves and maybe take a trip to a desert and ride a camel. 
Here’s the thing about culture for me; if it builds the world in the story adequately, then it can give that book a three-star rating. Easy-peasy. 
I don’t love either The Wrath and The Dawn or The Star-Touched Queen. Both are set in the Middle East. A culture that I’m a bit obsessed with (especially food + clothing +story-wise). However, I adore the book A Thousand Nights. Also set in the Middle East, and like both tWatD and tSTQ, has remunerates of 1001 Nights and BlueBeard. 
*Le Major Sigh* Faves. 
Anyways, the food in culture-driven stories is important to me. I like food. 
Besides the decadent food as shown in the picture above, the book also talks about lavash. It’s a flatbread of sorts. But…crisper? However you wish to describe it, I’m making it next week once I have a bit more time on my hands to work with trial and error and don’t feel quite as my-eyes-are-on-fire / ah-allergies-halp. 
I’ll definitely post picture of my success/failure to Twitter, and possibly to the blog. 
If you want to try the recipie too it looks super easy (of course I said that about biscotti too, and that was a hella hot mess) just tag me in the twitter photos so I can see your results. We’ll compare notes!
Bonus ||
Okay so here I am reading The Wrath and The Dawn all innocent-like when I stumble upon words I don’t know and they’re italicized so I’m like YAY NEW FOREIGN WORDS MUST LOOK UP NOW. So I do. 
The words in question were delam and joonam

#BookLook || Exit: Pursued by a Bear by E. K. Johnston

book look: EXIT

My Two Cents

The matching bralette and the heels. Need I say more? I’m in love, like a head over heels / can’t sleep love, with that darling powder blue.

I feel like I should be sipping tea in a color like that.

I also don’t think I have any of that color in my closet currently. Obviously I need to fix that, like, last year.

About the Book

Goodreads || Amazon

Veronica Mars meets William Shakespeare in E.K. Johnston’s latest brave and unforgettable heroine. 

Hermione Winters is captain of her cheerleading team, and in tiny Palermo Heights, this doesn’t mean what you think it means. At PHHS, the cheerleaders don’t cheer for the sports teams; they are the sports team—the pride and joy of a tiny town. The team’s summer training camp is Hermione’s last and marks the beginning of the end of…she’s not sure what. She does know this season could make her a legend. But during a camp party, someone slips something in her drink. And it all goes black.

In every class, there’s a star cheerleader and a pariah pregnant girl. They’re never supposed to be the same person. Hermione struggles to regain the control she’s always had and faces a wrenching decision about how to move on. The assault wasn’t the beginning of Hermione Winter’s story and she’s not going to let it be the end. She won’t be anyone’s cautionary tale.