Mini Reviews #5 – Wild Aces series by Chanel Cleeton

I started the Wild Aces series on a whim. For some reason I don’t read a ton of military. Honestly I’m not sure why because I love the idea/ concept of them and I have generally loved the ones I have read. Maybe I don’t read a lot of them because they don’t stand out to me? I’m really not sure.  But when I came across the description for Fly With Me and the library happened to have a copy I figured it was meant to be so I started the series and once again I wasn’t disappointed. Did I love all 3 books equally? No. But I really did enjoy all three of them as a whole story putting all the pieces together.

 

Mini Reviews #5 – Wild Aces series by Chanel CleetonFly with Me by Chanel Cleeton
Published by Berkley
on May 3rd 2016
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Amazon, Goodreads

From the author of the Capital Confessions Novels comes the first in the steamy Wild Aces Romance series.

U.S. Air Force fighter pilot Noah Miller—call sign Burn—loves nothing more than flying hard and fast. When he meets a gorgeous and sassy woman while partying in Las Vegas, he immediately locks on to her.

Jordan Callahan owns a thriving clothing boutique, but her love life is far less successful. Her luck changes when six feet, two inches of sexy swagger asks her to dance and turns her world upside down.

One scorching weekend becomes an undeniable chemistry that they can’t leave in Vegas. But the long distance relationship and their different lives threaten to ground their romance. And when the dangers of Noah’s job become all too real, Jordan learns being with a fighter pilot means risking it all for a shot at love…

I am a sucker for a Vegas weekend/one night stand story. I don’t know why, but I love them (especially if there is a drunken marriage, not this book, but in general). So Fly With Me was destined to rate high with me and it did. There was just something about Noah and Jordan’s story and their chemistry. You felt it right away and it never went away. I think about I loved about them the most was how adult they were about everything. They really talked things through and didn’t just fly off the handle. More romance books could use that. But really I loved their story and I loved how it all unfolded in the end.

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Mini Reviews #5 – Wild Aces series by Chanel CleetonInto the Blue by Chanel Cleeton
Published by Berkley
Format: Paperback
Source: Borrowed
Amazon, Goodreads

Eric Jansen—call sign Thor—loves nothing more than pushing his F-16 to the limit. Returning home to South Carolina after a tragic loss, he hopes to fix the mistake he made long ago, when he chose the Air Force over his fiancée.

Becca Madison isn’t quick to welcome Thor back. She can’t forget how he shattered her heart. But Thor won’t give up once he’s set his sights on what he wants—and he wants Becca.

Thor shows Becca that he’s no longer the impulsive boy he used to be, and Becca finds herself irresistibly drawn to him. But will Thor be able to walk away from his dream of flying the F-16 for their love or does his heart belong to the sky?

I wasn’t as in love with Into the Blue as I was with Fly With Me. Don’t get me wrong, I thought it was fun and a good read, but I wasn’t as in love with Eric and Becca’s story. I loved Eric and his story. I loved how he was affected so much by something that happened in Fly With Me. It was Becca that I struggled with. There was something about her that just didn’t make me love her. I did love them together because I do love a good second chance, rekindled relationship story, but something was just a tad off. Still more than just liked it, but I think I just wanted more.

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Mini Reviews #5 – Wild Aces series by Chanel CleetonOn Broken Wings by Chanel Cleeton
Published by Berkley Books
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon, Goodreads

A year after losing her husband, Joker, the squadron commander of the Wild Aces, Dani Peterson gets an offer from his best friend, Alex “Easy” Rogers, to help fix up her house. Dani accepts, and their friendship grows—along with an undeniable attraction.

Racked by guilt for loving his best friend’s widow, Easy’s caught between what he wants and can’t have. Until one night everything changes, and the woman who’s always held his heart ends up in his arms. Yet as Easy leaves for his next deployment, he and Dani are torn between their feelings and their loyalty to Joker’s memory.

But when Dani discovers something that sends them both into a spin, the conflicted lovers must overcome the past to navigate a future together…

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

On Broken Wings was the book I wanted to read most in the Wild Aces series. As soon as I met Easy in Fly With Me and saw the chemistry he had with Dani I wanted to see their story. I knew it wouldn’t be simple based on circumstances, but I really wanted to see what was there for them. On Broken Wings did exactly that and more. I was pretty much an emotional wreck the whole book and I have never been happier. Just thinking about Dani and Easy and their relationship makes me smile and breaks my heart. It was everything I wanted their story to be and so much more. Truthfully I don’t want to say too much because I don’t want to give anything away, but this was by far my favorite of the series.

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Backlog Review: These Broken Stars – Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner (audio)

Backlog Review: These Broken Stars – Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner (audio)These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman, Meagan Spooner
Series: Starbound #1
Published by Disney-Hyperion
on November 11th 2014
Format: Audio
Source: Library
Amazon, Goodreads

It's a night like any other on board the Icarus. Then, catastrophe strikes: the massive luxury spaceliner is yanked out of hyperspace and plummets into the nearest planet. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen survive. And they seem to be alone.

Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver comes from nothing, a young war hero who learned long ago that girls like Lilac are more trouble than they're worth. But with only each other to rely on, Lilac and Tarver must work together, making a tortuous journey across the eerie, deserted terrain to seek help.

Everyone I know has seemed to love this book. Like insanely love it. I had thought about it once or twice as the cover is GORGEOUS, but I always held back as I had read space books before and they aren’t my thing. But once again it was suggested to me right around the time I was looking for a new audio. I decided to take a chance and see what the fuss was about. Sadly, I was right in my initial reaction. Space books just aren’t my thing, or I have yet to find the right one.

These Broken Stars is a very Titanic like story. It is about Tarver, a lower class war hero, and Lilac, the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver and Lilac are traveling on board the Icarus together when there is an accident and the ship is taken out of hyperspace and falls to the nearest planet. Now alone together they must rely on each other not only to survive but to live. But nothing is as they thought and when they start to uncover some truths nothing will even be the same for them again.

This was a strange reading experience for several reasons.  I LOVED the narrators. Their voices were really great at telling the story of survival and love and uncovering truths. I felt like they did a good job of engaging the reader and telling the story of what was happening. I also really loved Tarver and Lilac (plus Lilac LaRoux just sounds AWESOME when you say it out loud). They had that wrong side of the tracks things going on and I loved the push and pull between then. I mean Lilac was so spoiled but she was tougher than anyone gave her credit for. You would think that would make me love the book. That is where the strangeness comes in. As much as I loved the narrators and the characters, I couldn’t stand the setting and the plot.

It was going along okay for a while. I mean I thought it was silly, as I find space books silly, but it was still going okay. And then it took a turn and I was left trying to figure out what the what was happening and why I was still reading. I just didn’t get the need for things to turn the way they did. To me it didn’t fit and from that point on the reading was downhill. I couldn’t come back from that feeling unfortunately and the book suffered because of it.

I guess what I am trying to say is that although I liked the narration and the characters, it just all didn’t work. It wasn’t my kind of book which is okay. I tried it and I finished it. No one says I have to love it. I will say that I would love to listen to another book with these narrators. That is definitely on my list of things to look for.

 

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Review: Crown of Midnight – Sarah J. Maas

I have reviewed this book before in the form of a discussion review. This is my own personal review written directly after reading.

Review: Crown of Midnight – Sarah J. MaasCrown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas
Series: Throne of Glass #2
Published by Bloomsbury Publishing USA
on August 27th 2013
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Amazon, Goodreads

"A line that should never be crossed is about to be breached. It puts this entire castle in jeopardy—and the life of your friend."

From the throne of glass rules a king with a fist of iron and a soul black as pitch. Assassin Celaena Sardothien won a brutal contest to become his Champion. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown. She hides her secret vigilantly; she knows that the man she serves is bent on evil.

Keeping up the deadly charade becomes increasingly difficult when Celaena realizes she is not the only one seeking justice. As she tries to untangle the mysteries buried deep within the glass castle, her closest relationships suffer. It seems no one is above questioning her allegiances—not the Crown Prince Dorian; not Chaol, the Captain of the Guard; not even her best friend, Nehemia, a foreign princess with a rebel heart.

Then one terrible night, the secrets they have all been keeping lead to an unspeakable tragedy. As Celaena's world shatters, she will be forced to give up the very thing most precious to her and decide once and for all where her true loyalties lie...and whom she is ultimately willing to fight for.

Review
Do not finish this book at lunch time and have to go back to work. That is the very first thing I can tell you, the very first thing that comes to mind, when I think of Crown of Midnight because HOLY CRAP!

If I have said it once I have said it a thousand times, I’m not a fantasy reader. I’ve tried it and have been successful a handful of times but unsuccessful just as much. It isn’t my usually jam. But if all fantasy books could be written like Crown of Midnight I would become a convert in a heartbeat. I mean did I say Holy. Crap. yet?? Because…Holy. Crap.

Crown of Midnight is the second book in the Throne of Glass trilogy which features our favorites Celaena, Chaol, Dorian, Nehemia and that adorable dog Fleetfoot. Celaena is now the King’s Champion and with that comes a level of responsibility. Trying to work towards her own freedom and keep the people she has come to care about safe, Celaena is waking a very dangerous line, but a line she sees fit to balance. But as Celaena is far too aware of, not everything is as it seems. And when one single night changes everything for her and those she loves Celaena decides it is time to take no prisoners not matter what the cost to her.

So my summary does the book no justice. I mean how could it when this book is filled with awesome, and awesome that I definitely do not want to give away. There are some major twists and turns, some I saw coming, and some I didn’t, but it is something you need to read for yourself to find out what they are. What I can tell you is that Maas is a genius for getting me to love this series the way she has with her writing, for getting me as invested in these characters the way that she has, and for getting me to want to read anything and everything she writes. And considering if you look at my auto-buy list and see that all the others are just about contemporary authors you’ll truly see what this means.

I could gush and gush and gush. I could tell you how much anxiety I felt reading part of this story. I could tell you about the time I cried on the train reading this book (true story!). But honestly they are just words. All you need to know is that this book does not suffer from second book syndrome. It actually makes the story stronger when all is said and done. In the end you will be clamoring for the final part because Crown of Midnight will get you invested no matter what you tell yourself. A DEFINITE must read series!

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Review: Endless – Kate Brian

Review: Endless – Kate BrianEndless (A Shadowlands Novel) by Kate Brian
Published by Disney-Hyperion
on July 22nd 2014
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Amazon, Goodreads

Rory Miller didn't just fall in love with Tristan Parrish. She fell in love with the idea of forever. He was the one who told her the truth about her existence in Juniper Landing: that her mortal life is over, and she will now spend eternity on the island, helping others in limbo move on.

But like Juniper Landing, a bright island with dark secrets, Tristan is too good to be true. The mysterious, heartbreakingly beautiful boy Rory thought she knew is responsible for unthinkable evil-sending good souls to the Shadowlands in order to get himself a second chance at life on Earth. He has already claimed Rory's friend Aaron and her own father, but when Tristan sends her sister, Darcy, to the Shadowlands, too, Rory decides to take matters into her own hands. She will do anything to save her family, even if it means going to hell and back.

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I really loved the whole concept of The Shadowlands series. Book one blew me away and I really loved book 2. So when book 3 came out I was beyond excited to see how this would all wrap up. The twist and turns in the first book kept me sitting in the end of my seat and I hoped Endless would do. And although it did at times and I think the series wrapped up things nicely, or as nicely as it could, I didn’t love it as much as I hoped.

Endless is really a hard book to review and describe as I don’t want to give anything away for the people that haven’t read the series yet. It does pick up right where the second book, Hereafter, left off. Rory thinks the boy she fell for, Tristan, actually betrayed her and her life is completely upside down. Tristan is on the run and Rory and her friends are trying to find him to get their life back to what it was. Only it may not be so easy. Things keep changing and everything Rory thought she knew is wrong. She’s running out of time and has to decide who to stand by and what matters most to her.

Like I said, I thought Brian wrapped this series up nicely. All three books flowed into each other and the stories entwined and wrapped up at the right places. That is what I liked about the book. It’s usually hard to accomplish this when finishing a series and I think Kate did that. But I also didn’t love how it was done. Rory, a girl I loved in the first book and the second, became annoying to me in the third. Her back and forth between people, her emotions, her actions, everything was so wishy washy. I just wanted her to make up her mind and stick with it. By the end of the book I was completely done with her which made me sad. I also found the pacing a little slower than the other two books. It definitely had its moments where I was on the end of my seat and the mystery kept me guessing for the most part (I sadly figured out what was happening pretty early on), but there was just something missing for me.

All in all I liked Endless and the entire Shadowlands series. It was a unique concept with interesting characters and pretty good writing. It told a story I had never heard and had an air of mystery to it which I liked. It was different and suspenseful at times and kept me wanting to see what happened. If you are looking for something a little different then I say so for it.

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The Dish: Crown of Midnight – Sarah J. Maas

The Dish: Crown of Midnight – Sarah J. MaasCrown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas
Published by Bloomsbury Publishing USA
on August 27th 2013
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Amazon, Goodreads

"A line that should never be crossed is about to be breached.

It puts this entire castle in jeopardy—and the life of your friend."

From the throne of glass rules a king with a fist of iron and a soul black as pitch. Assassin Celaena Sardothien won a brutal contest to become his Champion. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown. She hides her secret vigilantly; she knows that the man she serves is bent on evil.

Keeping up the deadly charade becomes increasingly difficult when Celaena realizes she is not the only one seeking justice. As she tries to untangle the mysteries buried deep within the glass castle, her closest relationships suffer. It seems no one is above questioning her allegiances—not the Crown Prince Dorian; not Chaol, the Captain of the Guard; not even her best friend, Nehemia, a foreign princess with a rebel heart.

Then one terrible night, the secrets they have all been keeping lead to an unspeakable tragedy. As Celaena's world shatters, she will be forced to give up the very thing most precious to her and decide once and for all where her true loyalties lie...and whom she is ultimately willing to fight for.

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Andi: I’m not sure how to even start this chat. I mean what can you really say about Crown of Midnight other than it was amazingly fantastic??!! It broke my heart and made me cry in public, but I LOVED it. What is your initial reaction?

Michelle: Oh man, what part made you cry?  Then again, you probably can’t say without spoiling.  My initial reaction was that this book had a much darker vibe. Even though we saw Celaena in the labor camps and fighting to be the King’s Champion in the first her assassinations and the progression of the King’s desire for world domination was quite a bit of doom and gloom. I thought the magic aspects were infused pretty well though, not too over the top.  What did you think?

A: Yah, I’m not ruining the story for everyone. I’ll tell you on the side what made me cry. HA

I’m not going to lie, the magic part through me off a little bit as I wasn’t 100% expecting it. In the first book it was more contemporary fantasy so when magic was brought it making it even more fantasy I took pause. But I didn’t hate it. I think it worked well for what Maas was trying to do to the story, how she was trying to further the plot. After I got over my initial shock, it worked for me. And made me understand some of Celaena more.

And you are right, it was a darker book. There was a lot more darker themes, but it worked. I think it played a nice juxtaposition to the stronger bound of Celaena and Chaol. A nice mix of the dark and the light, kind of like Celaena herself.

How did you feel about Celaena being somewhat darker in Crown? And her relationships with both Dorian and Chaol? It was quite the shift from the first book in my opinion.

M: Being dark was more of a necessity than anything else. She had so much to hide about herself and her job that lying, cheating and stealing were the only ways to navigate her circumstances. I liked, however, that she wasn’t a victim in this book.  She was far more dominant than in the previous book in the series and didn’t take a bunch of crap from anyone.  The counterpoint to that was the softer side she was able to enjoy in her relationships with Chaol, Dorian and Nehemia. Their interactions were much more softer in tone and gave the book a nice balance. The relationships also did a great job of creating conflict.

Speaking of, which conflict did you find to be the most interesting?

A: 100% all Celaena and Chaol interactions were the top bill for me in terms of conflict. There were a lot of levels to their relationship where it was romantic or not. On the surface they are completely different people that have stood for completely different things their whole lives. It was so interesting to see that relationship have its ups and downs and I think it added a level to the story that was missing in Throne of Glass. It added some depth. Plus it doesn’t hurt that Chaol is one of my favorite characters in the series. HA. But seriously I love how they never backed down from one another and got in each other’s face.

What about you?

M: I agree !One of the best dynamics in the story is the internal battle Choal had related to loyalty. He was constantly in flux between his loyalties to the King and Celaena and was desperate to find a way to be true to both. I’m interested to see how that dynamic progresses in the Heir of Fire; I imagine there will be a great deal given how this book ended.  Though I suspect there will be a real shift in roles for everyone in that installment.

Let’s talk Dorian shall we? I kinda felt like he was wallpaper through most of this book.  He pined for Celaena a lot but only had a few really pertinent moments when he felt like a strong character in his own right. I have to say there was a real missed opportunity with he and Nehemia from the romantic and political perspectives.  Without giving anything away I was sorry to see that potential fizzle out over the course of the book.  How did you find his role?  Satisfying or just meh?

A: He was super meh for me. As I’ve said in my review of Throne of Glass and many times on Twitter I compared Dorian, Chaol and Celaena to Dawson, Pacey and Joey in Dawson’s Creek. There was one season of the show that Dawson was just background and that is how Dorian was in Crown of Midnight. I understood some of it to a degree as Celaena is the focus of the book, but he was written to be more than that in the other book. I know a lot of how he was written was to lead into stuff in Heir of Fire (not to give anything away) but I still would have liked more depth from him. And like you, I would have liked to see something with he and Nehemia.

But really what I liked most in Crown of Midnight was the interwoven relationships and what it all meant to the story. Dorian and Chaol, Celaena and Chaol, Celaena and Dorian, Nehemia and Celaena; each relationship has a purpose to further the story, to add tension, but it wasn’t tension for tension sake. It worked and was one of my favorite parts.

M: Yes! I agree 100% on how the development of the differing relationships contributed to the larger dynamic of the plot.  I didn’t feel as though anything was superfluous or distracting to the story. It all revolved around Celaena and the progression of her story in a way that didn’t take away from it or make the plot so confusing that it was difficult to follow.  Maas did a fantastic job with weaving it all together and creating a really dynamic cast of characters that each played a significant role in a larger story as opposed to smaller roles in their own individual sub-plot.

A: All I know is that I’m excited to see just where this story is going to take us and just how these relationships will survive.

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