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BOOK REVIEW – Good Girl (Love Unexpectedly #2) by Lauren Layne

BOOK REVIEW – Good Girl (Love Unexpectedly #2) by Lauren LayneGood Girl (Love Unexpectedly #2)
by Lauren Layne
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Jenny Dawson moved to Nashville to write music, not get famous. But when her latest record goes double platinum, Jenny’s suddenly one of the town’s biggest stars—and the center of a tabloid scandal connecting her with a pop star she’s barely even met. With paparazzi tracking her every move, Jenny flees to a remote mansion in Louisiana to write her next album. The only hiccup is the unexpected presence of a brooding young caretaker named Noah, whose foul mouth and snap judgments lead to constant bickering—and serious heat.

Noah really should tell Jenny that he’s Preston Noah Maxwell Walcott, the owner of the estate where the feisty country singer has made her spoiled self at home. But the charade gives Noah a much-needed break from his own troubles, and before long, their verbal sparring is indistinguishable from foreplay. But as sizzling nights give way to quiet pillow talk, Noah begins to realize that Jenny’s almost as complicated as he is. To fit into each other’s lives, they’ll need the courage to face their problems together—before the outside world catches up to them.

Prejudices. We all have them.

We can deny it all we want, and perhaps you’re Mère Thérésa, but I’m not free of them. That doesn’t mean that I’m judging people according to them, and I mentally slap myself more often than not, but they exist. I started this novel with a shit tons of them : I’ve read many reviews for Good Girl in the past year and apart from a selected few (yes that’s you Chelsea, yes you were right, alright alright alright), they made me expect an awful male-lead, a doormat heroine and an ill-conceived plot.

So you can imagine my shock when I realized that… It wasn’t what I was getting. Far from it, actually.

Prejudices. Both Noah and Jenny are full of them.

“I deserve nothing less than a slap right now, and I’m well aware of it.”

– Noah Maxwell, ladies and gentlemen!

Seriously though… Noah’s not the Bluebeard I expected? At all? Flawed as hell and absolutely infuriating, sure, prejudiced and sometimes mean-spirited, but that doesn’t mean he’s a complete asshole. God, I’ve read far, far worst and these pricks were competing for the book boyfriend of the year on here. Noah’s not even really mean. The most horrible things come out of his mouth, especially in the beginning, that I’ll gladly admit, but he’s aware that he’s going too far and he apologizes? So? I wouldn’t go as far as saying that he’s my type, but come on now. He calls himself on his shit. How is he different from say, Josh from I’ll Meet You There, who was beloved by so many?

Plus he calls double-standards out, and that’s still way too rare for me so excuse me if I wanted to high-five the guy. He might be kinda hot too, but don’t take my word on it (he totally is).

Also, why nobody told me that Jenny was able to hold her ground? The girl’s no damsel in distress.

“You know that feeling you get sometimes? Well, okay, rarely. That feeling when you meet a stranger’s eyes and something inexplicable and intense sizzles between you?
That’s what happened between me and Noah Maxwell, at least on my end.
And then…
And then he had to go and open his mouth.”

See, to some extent, I understand why many readers dismissed her as a doormat, because she’s easy-going and oddly persistent in her quest to see the good in Noah. Yet she respects herself. She puts a stop to their interactions when he’s being a jerk. She doesn’t let go of her desires, whether sentimental or professional. Why are we so ready to dismiss strength when it’s not expressed in the way patriarchy taught us it should be? There’s endless strength in optimist and kindness, and one does not need to fit a certain mold to be strong, dammit. I love a kickass female-lead as much as the next person, but that does not mean that we don’t need to see different portrayals of women.

“Her gaze narrows slightly, and I expect her to get pissy that I’ve just outed our sexual status in front of Finn, but instead she leads forward, running a nail down the front of my shirt. “I think we’re a little confused about who seduced whom, princess.”

As it is, I could never find in me to despise her. She’s way too likeable for that.

Now, as I’m sure you know, there’s a difference between not hating and loving. There’s nothing groundbreaking in Good Girl and as often with contemporary romances, I have a hard time giving 3+ ratings out because I feel like I’ve already read a version of them a million times already. So, what does it take to go to 4 stars?

1) Hilarious internal monologues and well-written dialogues, which are Lauren Layne‘s biggest strengths – as are her final grand gestures, just admit it already.

2) The dog! I wholeheartedly recommend the dog. Dolly was perfect to diffuse the tension, because how am I supposed to go all angsty-angsty when I’m laughing out loud at the dog’s antics? Huh? More seriously, it’s so rare for a pet to feel like a real character, fleshed-out and not merely a bone thrown here and there. Trust me, you cannot forget that Dolly’s here, all the way, and that was so damn refreshing!

3) The chemistry, and how much the author makes me root for the characters : for a long time, that’s where the story fell short for me. I could feel Noah and Jenny’s attraction, I wasn’t bored, but it was certainly lacking something for me to believe in their connection. I didn’t quite understand what they saw in each other, and during the first half, on that aspect Good Girl missed the mark for me, keeping my rating at a 3 : I enjoyed my read all right, but it wasn’t enough. The sex scenes were hot, the banter was fun, but I wanted more. If Jenny’s life interested me, I sure didn’t care about Noah’s whatsoever, except for his friendship with Finn. It didn’t help that I found the plot points regarding his ex-fiancée completely unnecessary. However, it did get better : I thoroughly enjoyed the last 30% and that’s why I’m rounding up my rating to 4 stars ; both Jenny and Noah took my breath away and made me smile so big I can’t ignore it. I read the last scenes clutching my kindle, grinning like a maniac, and now that’s what I want when I read romance novels.

► I’ll get more of that, now and thank you. Flaws and all.

BOOK REVIEW – Mafiosa (Blood for Blood #3) by Catherine Doyle

BOOK REVIEW – Mafiosa (Blood for Blood #3) by Catherine DoyleMafiosa (Blood for Blood #3)
by Catherine Doyle
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A blood war rages on the streets of Chicago.

Protected by an infamous mafia family, Sophie is living a dangerous lie, pretending to lead a normal life. But the deceit can’t last for ever. Her heart belongs to a killer and Sophie’s the prime target of a rival clan. She’s determined to seek revenge on her mother’s murderers, but can she pay the price – can she be a mafiosa?

The third and final instalment in the explosive YA Blood for Blood series which started with Vendetta and Inferno.

Don’t get me wrong, I would fight tooth and nail for Luca, who was, again, amazing. I don’t think he’s ever disappointed me, and given my usual contempt for this kind of mafia ish male-lead, that’s saying something : he’s respectful, smart, protective in all the ways that count and absolutely adorable. Yet even him couldn’t make me stomach the absolute bullshit that was Mafiosa.

✘ The plot was erratic at best, throwing the most unbelievable twists in our face over and over, and if the whole series has been a rocky challenge to go through, at least it used to kept a semblance of consistence. Not so much in that last installment ; not at all, if I’m being honest. After we hit the 70% mark, nothing made sense anymore, and more and more I found myself side-eyeing the endless drama pilling up. Until then, I had been clutching my kindle and swallowing the distaste I felt for most of the characters, and I did enjoy several scenes (<3). But the nonsensical drama got to me in the end, and spoiled my read.

✘ Sophie’s behavior was so out of character that I’m still debating she’s been cloned, or something, and nine times out of ten I just couldn’t stand being in her head anymore. So much that I had to skim some parts, otherwise I’d have thrown my kindle on the wall. Sure, she did get better in the end, but it hardly lessened my annoyance. Too little, too late. And don’t get me started about the Falcones and the Marinos. I just – no. Their characterization was all over the place and as it was, I couldn’t comprehend their choices and reactions. Honestly, I got the impression that they would do anything, as long as it was convenient for the plot, and to hell with the coherence.

► Ultimately, the scenes that brought the biggest smile on my face – yes, they involved Luca, and yes, I’ll most definitely reread them – were too far in between for me to enjoy my reading experience. I’m not quite regretting reading the series, but god, I’m glad I’m done^^

BOOK REVIEW – Inferno (Blood for Blood #2) by Catherine Doyle

BOOK REVIEW – Inferno (Blood for Blood #2) by Catherine DoyleInferno (Blood for Blood #2)
by Catherine Doyle
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Romeo and Juliet meets The Godfather in the second installment of Catherine Doyle's Blood for Blood series.

Sophie's life has been turned upside-down, and she's determined to set things right. But Nic, the Falcone brother who represents everything she's trying to forget, won't give up on their love - and it's Luca's knife she clutches for comfort. Soon another mafia clan spoils the fragile peace - and with her heart drawn in one direction and her blood in another, Sophie's in deeper than ever.

Don’t be fooled by my positive rating, it only means that I can’t come to terms with giving a low rating to Luca. Luca, who is life and absolutely fabulous, ‘kay? But please keep in mind that this 3 stars rating is nothing more than the average between the 2 stars this mess of a book deserves as a whole and the 5 stars every scene involving Luca earned. Yes he’s that good.

I want to save him from that book. That boy deserves better, okay?

Would I go as far as saying that the series is worth it thanks to him? I WOULD, but my brain might be malfunctioning right now, so, you know, don’t trust me for one second. Also, I skimmed a lot? XD

Now if you would excuse me, I’m gonna read allllll the short stories in Luca’s POV <3

PS. For PROS & CONS, you can refer to my review of the first book, Vendetta. Most of them are the same here, with the very important exception that Nic does get what he deserves (did I say that I despised him very much? Yeah?) and that Luca is way more present (and interesting).

BOOK REVIEW – Vendetta (Blood for Blood #1) by Catherine Doyle

BOOK REVIEW – Vendetta (Blood for Blood #1) by Catherine DoyleVendetta (Blood for Blood #1)
by Catherine Doyle
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When it comes to revenge, love is a dangerous complication.With a fierce rivalry raging between two warring families, falling in love is the deadliest thing Sophie could do. An epic debut set outside modern-day Chicago.

When five brothers move into the abandoned mansion in her neighbourhood, Sophie Gracewell's life changes forever. Irresistibly drawn to bad boy Nicoli, Sophie finds herself falling into a criminal underworld governed by powerful families. As the boys' dark secrets begin to come to light, Sophie is confronted with stinging truths about her own family, too. She must choose between two warring dynasties - the one she was born into, and the one she is falling in love with. When she does, blood will spill and hearts will break.

That’s YA Mafia Romance for you, apparently?!?

I feel like my brain should be washed in bleach after Vendetta but as I’m a silly bitch who love rolling her eyes and giggling stupidly (apparently?!) I will most definitely read the rest, enjoy Luca and stab the puppy smile out of Nic the Creep’s face. This book is trash, though, and does something I hate : it uses an attempted rape to serve the plot.

CONS : TSTL heroine Instalove Bad dialogues Unbelievable Predictable NIC The cheese, the cheese everywhere these boys are just so beautiful, beautiful, beautiful BAHAHAHAHA (yes I’m losing it) Remind me why they care about Sophie oh yes she’s so spechul I’m drowning in snowflakes

PROS : girl friendship + LUCA (I like that he’s not trying to be fed as a good guy like *cough*, and I’m very curious to see what he hides in him hehe – also he does try to tell Sophie to get lost which makes him way more decent than Nic The Creep) + Italian words that make sense + Sometimes Sophie actually thinks and it makes my day + it’s quite addictive, look at me, I should have DNFed on page 10 and I’m probably going to read the sequel XD

TW – Attempted rape, violence because it’s the M A F I A (yeah I’m laughing don’t shoot me)

Oh, and VAFFANCULO, NICOLI! (oops)

BOOK REVIEW – Genesis (Will Trent #3) by Karin Slaughter

BOOK REVIEW – Genesis (Will Trent #3) by Karin SlaughterGenesis (Will Trent)
by Karin Slaughter
Purchase on: Amazon
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This is the third Will Trent novel, from the No. 1 Bestseller.

Three and a half years ago former Grant County medical examiner Sara Linton moved to Atlanta hoping to leave her tragic past behind her. Now working as a doctor in Atlanta's Grady Hospital she is starting to piece her life together. But when a severely wounded young woman is brought in to the emergency room, she finds herself drawn back into a world of violence and terror.

The woman has been hit by a car but, naked and brutalized, it's clear that she has been the prey of a twisted mind. When Special Agent Will Trent of the Criminal Investigation Team returns to the scene of the accident, he stumbles on a torture chamber buried deep beneath the earth. And this hidden house of horror reveals a ghastly truth - Sara's patient is just the first victim of a sick, sadistic killer.

Wrestling the case away from the local police chief, Will and his partner Faith Mitchell find themselves at the centre of a grisly murder hunt. And Sara, Will and Faith - each with their own wounds and their own secrets - are all that stand between a madman and his next crime...

TW – the so-called “hero” is a rapist, and everyone hates women because why the fuck not

Alright. It’s way too late for me to write a 10,000+ review, but I’m so fucking disgusted that I have to talk about it or I’ll never sleep. Let’s go to the point, okay?

So. Genesis. Or Undone, whatever it’s named. I’m so angry I can’t see straight. So, so angry because I’ve been enjoying this series so far, including the beginning of this one, I’ve made excuses for the rampant sexism pouring through every page, and now I’m feeling so sick, I want to unread this book.

The thing is, there’s a tiny limit between picturing realistic, flawed characters and making me loathe every one of them. God, I had hopes for Will!

However, that was before I knew that he was a fucking rapist.

Yes, you heard me. You won’t change my mind with the “Angie is a manipulative bitch” narrative, because you know what? Of course she is, I hate the woman, but that’s very dangerous to draw lines when it comes to rape. There’s NO woman on earth who deserves to be raped. I don’t CARE if the book is telling us that oh, actually, she enjoyed it. SHE SAID STOP. SHE FUCKING SAID STOP. I will NOT feel sorry for Will. Was she on the verge of forcing his hand? YES. Would she have been an awful human being if she had managed to do it? YES. But why would Will be let off the hook? There’s no such thing as “eyes for an eye, and teeth for a tooth” as far as I’m concerned, because then why would I care for him?? Why would I root for him? He’s accountable for his actions all the same, and as much as I liked the guy, now he’s like a itch I want to scratch. GO AWAY.

Things go like this : she’s trying to force his hand and manipulate him, he (understandably!!) tells her to leave. She doesn’t. He then starts pushing her. She fights back. She pushes him on the floor. He holds on and pulls her down with him. He uses his force to keep her under him. And then :

“He grabbed both her hands in one of his, squeezing them together so she couldn’t fight him. Without even thinking, he reached down and ripped away her underwear. Her nails dug into the back of his hand as he slid his fingers inside her.
‘Asshole,” she hissed, but she was so wet Will could barely feel his fingers moving in and out. (…)
‘Stop it,’ she demanded, but she was moving against his hand, tensing with each stroke. He unzipped his pants and pushed himself inside her. She tried to tighten against him, but he pushed harder, forcing her to open up.

In the end, she enjoys it and has an orgasm. I don’t care. The fact that she’s wet, that she has pleasure, doesn’t change a thing, because we really don’t need more scenes like these in medias, scenes in which no means yes. What the hell. Do I really have to explain why? WHY THE FUCK DO WE LET PEOPLE IMPLY THAT THE BOUNDARIES BETWEEN ANGER AND DESIRE ARE SO THIN? They aren’t. Why are we excusing this kind of behavior?

We need to stop dismissing this as ‘rough sex’ : that’s not rough sex, that’s rape.

And THEN the guy dares think,
“He was so sick of this, so sick of the way Angie drove him to extremes”
Oh, no no no, you don’t. You don’t get to feel sorry for yourself and find excuses. Angie is bad news, but she’s also been abused in the past. This doesn’t excuse her behavior, but it doesn’t excuse Will either because guess what, jerk, you are always responsible for your own actions. Again, I hate Angie, but no. No you don’t. Even if she enjoys it after, it doesn’t change a thing. Will is still this guy who forces himself on her and who doesn’t stop when she asks him to and I don’t want to read about that fucking guy.

Yes, she wanted to have sex with him before their argument. But that’s not how consent works. Consent can be withdrawn at ANY moment. That’s sex 101 for crying out loud.

The issue is never addressed after because Will never acknowledges that what he did wasn’t right. The narration implies that it’s all Angie’s fault, and I’m not here for that. Oh no I’m not.

Secondly, what is IT with Faith’s internalized misogyny? Amanda’s? Is there ONE person in that entire book who doesn’t act like a sexist pig? Actually, yes, there’s Will. Right. Too bad he’s our resident’s rapist. I said before that I understood the need to picture a realistic world. But again, you can portray flawed characters without creating a world entirely filled with complete assholes. You can use your narrative to help dismantling stereotypes.

It’s called talent.

Here it was sometimes done, but way too rarely for me. This is rape culture at its finest, where everyone including women think of women as petty bitches. The whole thing felt dehumanizing and that was very lazy storytelling.

Finally : the victims. The way anorexia was handled felt very offensive to me, and I’m not sure why the parallel between their bitchy attitude and their eating disorder was drawn so tightly. I understand that it revolved around the killer’s reasons for choosing them, but it still did not sit well with me.

I just can’t believe no one called Will out on his rape. I’m just – I’m feeling sick and I want to cry.

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