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April 22, 2014

REVIEW: Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy

Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy
Publisher: HarperCollins/ Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: March 18, 2014
Source: Edelweiss via publisher
Rating: 3/5 stars
Get it: Amazon | B&N
What if you’d been living your life as if you were dying—only to find out that you had your whole future ahead of you?

When sixteen-year-old Alice is diagnosed with leukemia, her prognosis is grim. To maximize the time she does have, she vows to spend her final months righting wrongs—however she sees fit. She convinces her friend Harvey, whom she knows has always had feelings for her, to help her with a crazy bucket list that’s as much about revenge (humiliating her ex-boyfriend and getting back at her arch nemesis) as it is about hope (doing something unexpectedly kind for a stranger and reliving some childhood memories). But just when Alice’s scores are settled, she goes into remission.

Now Alice is forced to face the consequences of all that she’s said and done, as well as her true feelings for Harvey. But has she done irreparable damage to the people around her, and to the one person who matters most?

Julie Murphy’s Side Effects May Vary is a fearless and moving tour de force about love, life, and facing your own mortality.

My Review
I had high hopes for Side Effects May Vary because it had such a promising synopsis. I was expecting something poignant and moving, but I just felt drained and let down. However, it was not without some good points. 

The Bad



Probably anything that had to do with Alice was a bad for me. I could not sympathize or even remotely connect or feel for this girl. Alice tried to be diabolical in her revenge and in her pay back, but she just ended up being mean. I couldn’t like her at all, especially with the way she treated her family and Harvey. Alice wasn’t nice. She had a moment here and there that gave her heart, but her attitude, the way she used Harvey and just how she acted was horrible. She annoyed, angered, and exhausted me to no end. I know that her life was turned upside down when she got diagnosed and she accepted death and then again when she went in remission, but she became careless, heartless, and kind of unhinged. I was mostly tired of the way she reeled in, dropped, used and abused Harvey so easily.

The overall storyline was just meh to me. So much of this book was about Alice it was hard to push aside my dislike for her. The main focus was on her struggle with accepting the fact that she was better after accepting that she was sick and dying. I get it that the transition was hard, especially when Alice had kept secrets and done some pretty bad things to people whether or not they deserved it, was still questionable. Her behavior was eccentric and erratic and she just all over the place. She loved Harvey, but couldn’t tell him or begin to fathom how they could be together. Alice just couldn’t seem to piece her life then to her life now and she rebelled and acted out. When she finally realized her mistakes and wrong doings, for me it was just too little too late. 

The Good



While Alice was the bad for me, Harvey was all the good. He had such a big heart and he loved Alice despite the way she treated him. He saw the goodness in her where even I failed to see it. Harvey was way too forgiving and understanding, but he was more of a person than Alice could have been. I hated that Harvey let Alice use him and walk all over him because he deserved so much more than her. He still let her in when she abandoned him the first time and again the second time. He loved Alice so much that I sometimes hated him for it because he wouldn’t say no to her like he should have. But really, Harvey was so loyal and dependable. He was the one character that showed the most emotion and made me ache and break for him. He made me really proud when he finally stood his ground. Between Harvey and Alice, Harvey will always win out as the better person hands down. 

I actually liked the way Julie Murphy wrote and set this book up. This book was far from being The Fault in Our Stars or my recent favorite cancer book, Maybe One Day and I mean this in a good way because it stood out on its own. Instead of reading about someone dealing with cancer and death, we get the other side of the spectrum of dealing with remission and living. It was rough and I didn’t like Alice, but I thought her story had to be told. I also liked how Alice and Harvey’s perspectives were split from their past to when Alice first got diagnosed and then to the present when she went into remission. I thought it worked really well because I got to see how Harvey was back into Alice’s life and what led Alice to be the way she turned out to be. 



Overall, Side Effects May Vary did manage to grasp my attention and make me fall in love with at least one character. It wasn’t entirely bad and for that I was grateful.

*Thanks to HarperCollins/ Balzer + Bray for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review

April 21, 2014

REVIEW: Fix You by Christine Bell

Fix You by Christine Bell (The McDaniels Brothers #1)
Publication Date: March 27, 2014
Source: Author*
Rating: 4/5 stars
Get it: Amazon | B&N
Olivia Beckett’s once-charmed life is falling apart. Her family is about to lose everything, and she has almost no chance of continuing her college education. She can't even seek solace from her high school sweetheart. He's changed. She doesn't recognize the boy she used to know— his violent behavior is escalating and it scares the hell out of her. Her whole world is crumbling, and she has no one to turn to……

Sebastian “Bash” McDaniels is an up and comer in the boxing world working nights at the local college bar until he can land the fight of his dreams that will get him the hell out of Boston and away from his family's tragic past. He’s weeks from his goal when Olivia Beckett comes tumbling into his life in a flash of silky dark hair and haunted eyes. When he saves her from a potentially brutal beating, they begin to grow close, but Olivia's ex isn’t ready to let her go so easily.

Bash can't bring himself to walk away, but fixing Olivia just might leave him broken…

My thoughts, feelings, and reactions
Fix You by Christine Bell was a short and surely fast paced serial novel. I wasn’t really sure what I was going to get with such a short read, but I loved Bell’s work and she didn’t disappoint me at all!



Characters: Olivia and Bash

Both characters were flawed and so easy to connect with that I had no problem liking them straight away. Bash was running from a bad past towards a better future in boxing while Olivia struggled with her present and unknown future due to her family’s financial issues along with her abusive boyfriend she wishes to be free off. These two are far from perfect or even close to being fixed, but they were both strong as they could be. Bash didn’t have a very privileged life and though he saw himself and Olivia as two broken people, he still didn’t hesitate to help her at that first moment. I liked that he told Olivia what he saw in Andy, but didn’t try to force her to do anything. He allowed her to be the one to see who her boyfriend really was and to take action. Olivia was a sweetheart. She saw the good in Andy even after what he did. She worries about her family even though they don’t want her to be. She was just a good person in and out and I really loved that about her. 



Romance: Sizzling Hot

The first encounter between Bash and Olivia surely made sparks fly! There was some serious intensity and attraction going on right from the get go. The more they were around each other, the more intense it got. They tried to resist each other, but their connection was just so spot on I can’t blame them. They were good together and good for each other. I definitely think their romance needs more development later on, but Bell gave them a solid start.



Storyline: Quick but with Substance

I thought that Fix You was just a taste of something good more to come. Bell dives into who and where Bash and Olivia came from and what exactly their issues were. Both characters don’t fully show their cards, but they show enough vulnerability and care for the trust to build up. There’s a mix of forbidden romance, family problems, and abuse that gets developed here but still leaves you with more questions on whats to come. And although this book is short and the attraction between both characters was nearly instant, I thought it was well written. 



All in all, Christine Bell gave me short spicy novel that packs in the sexiness and left me needing the next book asap! I loved it!

*Thanks to Christine Bell for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review

April 17, 2014

Cover Reveal: INTOXICATED by Monica Murphy

Intoxicated
INTOXICATED by Monica Murphy (Billionaire Bachelors Club #3.5)
Expected Publication Date: June 17, 2014

ABOUT INTOXICATED: 
 New York Times bestselling author Monica Murphy wraps up her sexy Billionaire Bachelors Club series with a wedding to remember. But this time, they’re not bachelors anymore, and the groom … is one of them.

 It’s Gage and Marina’s wedding day, but wedded bliss seems a long way off: Ivy’s just gone into labor. Marina’s missing her matron of honor. And Bryn’s giving Matt the silent treatment.

It’s up to Archer, Gage, and Matt to make sure this day goes off without a hitch. But between brides and babies, there’s the not-so-little issue of the million-dollar bet to attend to. If only they can figure out who won … and who’s paying up. Is everyone a winner? Or will someone leave broke—and brokenhearted?

  Pre-Order Links: AMAZONUS | AMAZON CAN | AMAZON UK | B&N | iTUNES   

  EXCERPT:

 I’m going to have a baby,” Ivy declares as she stops directly in front of me. Well, her belly stopped directly in front of me, the rest of her soon follows. 
Yes, indeed, my wife is definitely going to have a baby. Soon. 
 I’m getting ready—staring at the mirror as I mess with my tie, making sure it’s perfect—when she approaches me. I shoot her a grin, feeling good, feeling on top of my game. Life couldn’t get any better, you know? We’re celebrating today and with good reason. 
 “I know, sexy mama.” I turn away from the mirror and wink at her. “Trust me, I haven’t forgotten that I’m the one who knocked you up.” 
 She stares at me, no reaction to my wink or my words. She usually slaps my ass and kisses me. Says something sarcastic at the very least. But I’m getting nothing. And it’s kind of disconcerting. “Archer. I’m dead serious. I’m going to have the baby.” 
“I know, babe. And I can’t freaking wait.” I study her, noticing that she looks a little pale and her pupils are dilated. Hmm. “You feeling okay?” 
 Rolling her eyes, she rests her hand on top of her protruding stomach, rubbing it absently. Then not so absently. As in, she’s clutching her belly like she’s in pain. “I’m in—” She sucks in a harsh breath, holding it for a few seconds. “—labor, damn it.”

________________________________________________

MonicaMurphypic-250x373ABOUT MONICA MURPHY: New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Monica Murphy is a native Californian who lives in the foothills below Yosemite. A wife and mother of three, she writes New Adult and contemporary romance for Bantam and Avon. She is the author of One Week Girlfriend and Second Chance Boyfriend.  

April 16, 2014

REVIEW: The Shadow Prince by Bree Despain

The Shadow Prince by Bree Despain (Into the Dark #1)
Publisher: Egmont
Publication Date: March 11, 2014
Source: Edelweiss
Rating: 3/5 stars
Get itAmazon | B&N
Haden Lord, the disgraced prince of the Underrealm, has been sent to the mortal world to entice a girl into returning with him to the land of the dead. Posing as a student at Olympus Hills High—a haven for children of the rich and famous—Haden must single out the one girl rumored to be able to restore immortality to his race.

Daphne Raines has dreams much bigger than her tiny southern Utah town, so when her rock star dad suddenly reappears, offering her full tuition to Olympus Hills High’s prestigious music program, she sees an opportunity to catch the break she needs to make it as a singer. But upon moving into her estranged father’s mansion in California, and attending her glamorous new school, Daphne soon realizes she isn’t the only student in Olympus who doesn’t quite belong.

Haden and Daphne—destined for each other—know nothing of the true stakes their fated courtship entails. As war between the gods brews, the teenagers’ lives collide. But Daphne won’t be wooed easily and when it seems their prophesied link could happen, Haden realizes something he never intended—he’s fallen in love. Now to save themselves, Haden and Daphne must rewrite their destinies. But as their destinies change, so do the fates of both their worlds

My Review
I thought The Shadow Prince by Bree Despain was one of those books I desperately wanted to love. And while it wasn’t the best thing out there, I did still like where the book went. 



So let’s talk about the characters first. The Shadow Prince is told between the perspectives of Haden and Daphne. Haden is the underdog so to speak because he had so much to prove and so much to overcome after being stripped of his honor by his own father. He was impulsive, driven by his emotions, but so strong willed. It was clear that his mother raised him with love and good morals, something the Court in the Underrealm thought was unacceptable. I liked Haden because in the beginning he had one thing on his mind, but he grew throughout the book and ended up choosing the right thing rather than the selfish thing. Daphne was just a human girl who wanted to escape her town and dream big as a musician. She also longed for her father’s attention and love. Daphne was a tough, determined girl who was really independent. I liked her too because she was set on chasing her dreams and was adamant about not following after a guy. Although she seemed like an ordinary teenaged girl, she was far from it. She certainly played a bigger role in the book more than I originally thought.

One of the reasons I didn’t give this book a high rating was due to the romance. I thought it fell flat. I was disappointed that the focus was mostly on the romantic development rather than the world building. While both characters did show growth by the end, I wish the focus on their relationship was set aside for the time being. It was a let down because it wasn’t as convincing as I would have liked although there seems to be potential in future books. I felt like Haden and Daphne were better off staying friends in this book. It would have been better if Despain kept the main focus on other important aspects. 



My main problem for the book was probably world building and diving into the storyline itself. It was hard because I was mostly confused about how the Underrealm worked. About 30% into the book was just me struggling to piece stuff together and rereading passages because I couldn’t process a lot of what was going on and why. When I finally got the gist of it, I thought it was pretty cool. The Underrealm had a Court, Elites, Champions and Boons. The Underrealm was more like royalty, with the best of best having all the honor. There was a set way of things in Court and even family and blood will not be given be mercy or any sort. I thought all of this (and more) could have been explained better. You kind of had to just go with the flow until things were explained and that was very hard to do in my opinion. 

While I had trouble with the storyline along the way, I did enjoy the twists that Despain put into it. I had so many questions about Daphne’s involvement about being a Boon and Cipher and how her story collided with Haden’s. All this gets revealed in a surprising way. I knew certain people were involved somehow, I just didn’t know exactly how or why. Seeing how all these things came together was awesome in of itself. 
The mythology and action was also a plus for me. The way Despain incorporated and loosely centered this book on the Hades/Persephone and Orpheus/Eurydice mythology was brilliant. She put a modern and unique twist into it that I certainly have to commend her on. I love Greek mythology and this one was fun and original in every way. The book was not too action packed, but it had the right amount of it. The most interesting aspect had to be the Sky gods and Underlord’s powers.



All in all The Shadow Prince has some serious potential in the long run. I had certain issues with the world building and romance, but Despain created a character driven story that was as developed as it could get without spoiling too much. I’m not quite sure if I’ll continue the series, but it’s all definitely up in the air for me. 


*Thanks to Egmont for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review