July 25, 2014

Random Ramblings: Stock Image Overuse

I didn't immediately register this drastic overuse of the same stock images over and over through the book world. But then I accidentally stumbled over yet another book with the same models on the cover and it was the last straw. I went to investigate and I wish I hadn't.

I am talking about the couple that's most commonly known for their appearance on J L Armentrout's books. I mean these two terribly photogenic people.

Well known, we've all seen them. And I get that they appear on the covers of the same series. Makes total sense, they must be related to the main heroes of the story. That's all fine and dandy. But then this happened.

Okay, I may be wrong, but these two (or at least the man) seem the same people. The same two models from JLA's books. It'd be okay as well, as the poses are different and all, and unless you're really looking you might even miss it. Then I found this.

I mean... Bloody effin hell. First of all, how many of these images are there? A billion? And second, are they all free? Or do graphic designers get a package in the mail? Is there a contract for romance genre and these two? I am confused here... Never ever in my bookish years have I seen more of the same on the cover as these two. It's a tad disturbing. And yes, there's also a naked version.

How did I find all of these? First of all I wasn't even looking for one, but then I started to after accidentally finding a less known novel with the same people on the cover. I went to investigate and I opened one of JLA's books on Goodreads which is where I got Glines in 'Readers Also Enjoyed' section. Opening Glines' book, the rest followed the same way. You open one and you get them all the rest. I didn't even paste all of them here. It's not about genre anymore, it's about the people on the cover. That's how GR is referring new reads in this case. It's weird.

Am I the only one disturbed over this? It's one thing to have a trend and put glistening hunks and kilted men on 1/3 of all covers in existence, but this is a whole new level of mental. Are they really the only two that have good enough pictures for book covers? What the heck is going on?

Is there another case of this you might know of?

Freebie Friday

Today's Freebie Friday free Kindle e-books are

July 24, 2014

Book review: Skin of the Wolf

Thank you Penguin - Blue Rider Press for NetGalley ARC!

Goodreads synopsis
In Sam Cabot’s exhilarating new novel, a vicious murder in Sotheby’s begins a series of inexplicable events surrounding an Iroquois ritual mask—and a secret that could unleash the most terrifying chaos and destruction the world has ever seen.

Father Thomas Kelly, art historian Livia Pietro, and scholar Spencer George shared shocking, life-changing events in Blood of the Lamb; in that thriller, Father Kelly learned of the existence of the Noantri—a community of vampires—and that Livia and Spencer were among them. Now, a year later, all three are together again in New York City where Livia is attending a conference on Native American art. But when Spencer is attacked in Central Park by a wolf, the trio are thrown deep into a world where money, Native American lore, and the doctrines of the Catholic Church collide, revealing an alarming secret: the wolf is a Shapeshifter. He is searching for a sacred Iroquois mask with power that, badly wielded, could destroy millions of lives. But as they enter the search for the mask, the three narrowly escape becoming the Shapeshifter’s prey. Will they be able to prevent catastrophe from rising with the next full moon?

In Skin of the Wolf, Sam Cabot weaves riveting suspense into a world that blends historical fact with his signature all-encompassing alternate reality. It is a heart-stopping novel in which the Noantri discover they aren't the only humans set apart by their natures: there are Others.

I love the cover of this book, it's what made me ask for it in the first place. So cool, scary, sinister in a way. I was in love. The synopsis sounds great as well, very Dan Brown-ish. And it's about Native American tribes which (not counting Twilight because ew) I never read before about. Should be an amazing book!
Should be. I'm not saying it was bad, but it could be better. It's not exactly as I imagined it would be. I read the synopsis, or rather skimmed it, months ago, so I forgot slightly what it will be about. The vampires shocked me a little, but they were a cool kind of vamps so it was all okay. Eventually, I wrapped my head around this weird collection of characters - shapeshifters, vampires, and a priest. Sounds like a joke.
The story itself is very quickly paced, sometimes too much so, and I felt hurried through it. I wished it was slower, taking it all with a nice stride so I could slowly begin to understand everything that was happening. It was too fast and too many things/people happened too soon. It was a sensory overload. It did read nicely enough though, and pretty fast, too.
Generally, it was pretty interesting. I wish I knew to read the first book before this one. It doesn't officially say it's part of a series but it constantly refers to the other novel, Blood of the Lamb, published before this one, so I wished I knew what it was all about. I also wished it had a bit more background on Native Tribes because to someone that's not familiar with these (I never knew there were so many around NY even!) at all a little background could help understand the book so much better.
It's obvious it was written by academic people because it has big words, is very topical, and sometimes lack the flow of a fiction book. Sometimes it felt more coarse and awkward, not exactly as a book should be. It was nice and fluid but not Dan-Brown-fluid. It was more factual in a way that fiction usually is.
It was pretty typical at times - femme fatale smart hot scientists, expensive tastes, awfully convenient and so on, but I still enjoyed it. I love Dan Brown's works so this was something along those lines so I was able to enjoy it. It's got a topic I never read about before, and that really drew me in. I felt like the supernatural part with vampires maybe spoiled it a little, and I could do with just the folklore and shapeshifters. It kept reminding me of Twilight all the time, which is not really the books' fault but it did spoil my reading experience. It was much better done than Twilight so points to that.
It got a bit boring in the middle, but it picked up nicely towards the end. Finishing the book was pretty eventful and explained a lot. It had a nice twist I didn't see coming, but the absolute ending was over the top. Sugary sweet, Hollywood-like... Could be done without. Generally, it was an enjoyable read.

A good read!

Harry Potter Moment of the Week

This is a meme hosted by Leah at Uncorked Thoughts. The aim of this meme is to share with fellow bloggers a character, spell, chapter, object or quote from the books/films/J. K. Rowling herself or anything Potter related!

Best 'Ron Moment'

I love Ron, he's my favorite in the books. He's level, he's funny, and he's loyal despite Harry being weird and mean sometimes, and he was always there, battling almost all the same demons as Harry did. I think he had some amazing moments like the chess game in Philosopher's Stone, the bravery he portrayed through all the books, the whole destroying of the horcrux... He had flaws but don't we all? Still, even though all his heroics are admirable, I think his best moment was being

drunk on love potion

Granted, he nearly died from the whole affair but I found it super hilarious! The movies did the thing justice when it came adapting it to the screen, as well. It was really funny and it made me laugh while the rest of the world was burning down around them.

July 22, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Characters I Would Want With Me On A Deserted Island

Ideally, I'd pick ten hot book dudes and build me a harem, but let's be real and realize we need to eat and so on. I need some handy suckers on my team so let's get down to it.

1. Hermione Granger (Harry Potter)
I'd like to know what to do in case of emergency, what plants to eat, what animals are dangerous etc. I have no doubt Hermione would be well read on these things and would be a great vault of knowledge and safety tips. She's also a witch so that's always a plus. I hope she'd remember that bag of hers...

2. Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games)
I doubt Hermione's too fond of hunting so Katniss would help us catch our dinner, warn us if someone's coming etc., even though we'd probably be safe with Hermione's spells. She'd maybe even teach us to hunt and so on, always helpful.

3. Peeta Mellark (The Hunger Games)
We'll need bread with that rabbit stew. Seriously. But also, he's calm, calculating, and pretty good at camouflage. And he's hot so he's totally in immediately. 

4. and 5. Weasley twins (Harry Potter)
Evening entertainment. And by that I mean jokes and tricks and the sort! Mostly

6. Avry of Kazan (Healer series)
We could absolutely do with a healer among ourselves. You never know what might happen, and even though Hermione probably knows how to help, and Katniss wrapped up a wound or two, a proper healer with some magic of her own would be great!

7. Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles)
Whatever made us end up on that island, maybe Cinder could fix. Crashed plane, maybe a ship. Hopefully, she'd be able to get us off the island as soon as possible. Unless we had too much fun with them Weasleys...

8. Celaena Sardothien (Throne of Glass)
We don't need an army to protect us if we have Celaena. She'd sort any attackers right up. I'd absolutely sleep like dead if she were guarding my back.

9. Mila (Mila 2.0)
Mila's like a back-up to Celaena. Together, they'd be unstoppable and would totally level down the island if needs be. Can you say badass? 

... maybe Arya and Brienne could join that club, too.

10. Percy Jackson (Percy Jackson and the Olympians)
In case Cinder failed or had no resources, maybe Percy could get us a deal with his father to get us out of wherever we managed to end up.

This weekly meme is from The Broke and the Bookish.

July 20, 2014

Book review: The Good Girl

Thank you Harlequin for physical ARC!

Goodreads synopsis
"I've been following her for the past few days. I know where she buys her groceries, where she has her dry cleaning done, where she works. I don't know the color of her eyes or what they look like when she's scared. But I will."

Born to a prominent Chicago judge and his stifled socialite wife, Mia Dennett moves against the grain as a young inner-city art teacher. One night, Mia enters a bar to meet her on-again, off-again boyfriend. But when he doesn't show, she unwisely leaves with an enigmatic stranger. With his smooth moves and modest wit, at first Colin Thatcher seems like a safe one-night stand. But following Colin home will turn out to be the worst mistake of Mia's life.

Colin's job was to abduct Mia as part of a wild extortion plot and deliver her to his employers. But the plan takes an unexpected turn when Colin suddenly decides to hide Mia in a secluded cabin in rural Minnesota, evading the police and his deadly superiors. Mia's mother, Eve, and detective Gabe Hoffman will stop at nothing to find them, but no one could have predicted the emotional entanglements that eventually cause this family's world to shatter.

An addictively suspenseful and tautly written thriller, The Good Girl is a compulsive debut that reveals how even in the perfect family, nothing is as it seems…

(possible SPOILERS!)
I have been really looking forward to starting this book since I got it at London Book Fair. It sounds so good, so creepy, and mysterious, I was starting it rather excitedly, and with high expectations, too. I was hoping the book wouldn't let me down but the start of the novel was really promising.
It had a first-person narration but between more than one person, and it was really engaging this way because we got to see the emotions and thoughts of the characters, and it felt really intimate and so much more real than if this was a detached third person telling. 
I was engaged very early on because of the mysteriousness. I had no real idea what happened exactly, even though the plot was pretty clear. It had something that kept me reading and kept me wanting to know more. It was revealing its secrets slowly which made it a sort of tense read, a teasing one.
As much as I was totally into the book early on because I liked the past-present narrative that went back and forth between before and after the event, so it was like two stories that came into one towards the end, that was not enough. I never read anything like it and it was interesting to read a book like that, but as much as I enjoyed that, the book got boring super fast. About a third in, even less, I was bored. Towards the end, I was pissed.
I didn't care for the abductor's POV, his reasons for actions were absolutely silly and the book lost it's spine in a way because it was all so insubstantial. His story was short and told in these 'cut' sentences, and it was nice to see that POVs were not similar to one another (so the storytelling was pretty diverse) it annoyed me. He was crude and snappy and repetitive and had no idea what the hell he was doing. His actions felt forced, meek, and I was having a real trouble reading his parts. Plus he was so changeable from someone really unpleasant to someone caring it was making me see red.
Characters in general were terribly stereotypical and annoying. The poor thug, the rich deviant girl, the distant father, the sappy trophy-wife mother, the Italian-background cop, down to inability to cook and sloppy sandwiches at work. Yawn. There was also some nice white-safe-black-unsafe stereotypes over parts of Chicago. I get this is often a reality but so many stereotypes in one place could only make a satire, but this book was totally serious. So many stereotypes, so little depth, and so many predictable outcomes on all occasions were driving me up the wall. 
The story itself was just bad. The kidnapper has a change of heart and becomes love interest. Are you for real!? I get Mia's fate would probably be worse if she had a different kidnapper, but just because someone kidnapped you then changed his mind so your pretty face doesn't get hurt you don't just start loving the thug! She was pretty, so was he, and since he had no fucking plans for the girl whatsoever, why not just fall in love in three months? He threatened her, yelled at her, tied her up, but because he got her pills (while she got sick because of him) it made him a hero. You don't make a 'we' dream life in Italy with your kidnapper. It's not Stockholm syndrome when you have hots for some creep for three months. I strongly felt here the term was just thrown around to justify the romance and I found it wrong. He may have had good intentions to start the criminal life but that doesn't excuse his actions and makes him romantic. I hate romanticized crime and abuse.
So when you have a weak plot and terrible characters you cannot help but almost hate, the good writing gets lost in the mess. I enjoyed the style, and the jumping between past and present, but that did not help the otherwise 'watery' story.
I had such high hopes for this book but was let down terribly. I could not like this story no matter what. I kept reading to see what it'll happen and it just got worse and worse. The love, the obvious outcomes, just everything. Huge let down. Not to mention it was not scary at all despite the tense start. This is not a thriller. It's a messed up romance book. The ending was a bit shocking but not something to make up for the rest.
At the end of the day, the cons outnumber the pros by far and I could not like the book even though on some level, I could understand the happenings. It just wasn't right for me.

Generous two stars.

July 19, 2014

HPM: Why it's okay to be BOTH an adult and a Harry Potter fan

This post is part of Harry Potter Month event. Harry Potter Month is a blogger event put together by Faith from Student Spyglass for the month of July. For more information visit her blog.

Why it's okay to be BOTH an adult and a Harry Potter fan

I used to hide the fact I was a Harry Potter fan as a kid, except from the one girl that told me about it and was even more into it than I was. She was the safe one, the one I geeked out about it with. Others were just a bunch of Muggles that always poked fun. So I kept it to myself and never brought it up, and even when someone else did I kept my opinion to myself. 

Mind you, we were kids. When you're twelve, you have a whole bunch of problems as it is. You might be short or fat or have glasses or your teeth are all over the place so people make fun. Or you have a stupid name nobody ever heard before so you get your portion there (thanks, mom). But if you like Harry Potter instead of sneaking into the adult section in the library, you're also a dork.

My friend and I never told people we went on RPG forums that were Potter-themed, that we signed up for virtual Hogwarts school and attended it for years. We never told anyone we dressed up and played HP at home or that we played HP video games. It's like we were separate from ourselves. We were the 'school' us and 'home' us. The school us were above anything weird but home us were total Potterheads.

And it was even worse because we had no support at home. We didn't exactly get told to not read the books but bringing Potter up made my parents roll their eyes. It's not any better now when they had time to listen to me for over 13 years. It's still something that makes my parents shake their heads, roll their eyes and ask me "Still liking that, are you?" like it's a fashion fad that would go away when I grow out of my Potter onesie. That onesie grows with me okay you Muggles? Get over it.

I never fully embraced Potter until high school where I realized I don't give a crap what people think of me or my Potter love. Some of my mates read the books, some only saw the films. They said it was all good and okay, but not worth rereading and rewatching. Fine, that's your opinion. I loved it and told people about it when they asked. I got a few weird looks but we had some general geeks in class loving LotR and such as well so I didn't stand out as much. Then, I guess I was still old enough to like the books as they were still coming out. The last couple were out then and the movies were a big hit so it was fine. I didn't read much during HS but Potter stayed with me even when I forgot all about other books.

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