Review: Undaunted by Ronnie Douglas

I’ll let you in on a little secret. Ronnie Douglas is actually Melissa Marr! Yes, THAT Melissa Marr, the bestselling YA author.

Undaunted (Knights in Black Leather, #1)

Title: Undaunted (Knights in Black Leather #1)
Author: Ronnie Douglas
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Date of Publication: September 15, 2015

Being fearless has never looked so good . . .

Aubrey Evans needs to get her life back on track after her father is indicted for embezzlement. All she has to do to hightail it out of small-town Tennessee is save up money for college tuition and steer clear of hard-muscled boys on motorcycles. Yet there’s no ignoring someone like Zion. A knight in black leather, Zion looks like every bad idea she’s been told to avoid, but she can’t resist him. Whenever she’s in trouble, he’s there. Appealing as his rough exterior may be, it’s the protective, principled man beneath who tempts her like crazy.

Zion knows Aubrey doesn’t intend to stick around. She claims to want only friendship, but he senses there’s a naughty girl hiding on the inside—one whose intense desires match his own. For now, he’ll be patient and play by her rules. But he knows it’s just a matter of time before he weakens her resolve.

As they join forces to figure out who’s behind a local crime spree, it’s clear that the danger goes deeper than Aubrey guessed. And when she needs someone tall, dark, and undaunted to keep her safe, Zion intends to be there—now and always.

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My Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Thank you to William Morrow Paperback for the review copy! Having received one did not affect my views of the novel.

Sigh. I know nothing about motorcycle clubs so I was interested in reading this one to hopefully learn a thing or two. On that front, I did achieve that goal as I know A LOT MORE about motorcycle clubs and how they operate from reading this. But on the other hand, I didn’t particularly like the story the information went along with…

Aubrey, twenty years old, moved to Tennessee from Portland, Oregon, after her father was charged of embezzlement. That’s also when her parents decided to have a divorce and forgetting they actually have a daughter. With her college fund went kaput, she has no choice but to leave her beloved Reed College and stay with her grandma. No problem with the company, she loves and idolizes her Granda Maureen. But here comes the problem of earning money to continue her studies. So she takes a job at the local motorcycle club bar, where Killer, the guy who saved her from a douchenozzle son of the useless sheriff at the town fair, spends most of his time. Killer, real name Zion, is the right-hand of the president of the Wolves, the local motorcycle club. They’re attracted to each other but given how possessive the Wolves are, it’s a rule in the bar for barmaids not to date the members.

Aubrey and Zion were attracted to each other right from the get-go but they can’t date so that’s capital-C Conflict for you. It doesn’t help that Zion’s cousin, who’s not a Wolf, is into Aubrey as well. There’s also a bit of a mystery thrown in because break-ins kept on happening in the senior neighborhood and no one knows who’s doing it.

At best, I knew this was going to be a three-star read after a chapter. It’s just that, I didn’t feel any connection with any of the characters. I wished that it would change but my indifference remained all throughout the entirety of the novel. Sure, Zion was sweet and a bit swoonworthy but I didn’t go gaga over him. Sure, he was dangerous but I didn’t feel that. To me, he’s this super sweet guy who can completely restrain himself, which was very impressive. He asks Aubrey what she likes and wants and doesn’t push her. So it’s like, I kept being told that Zion is ~dangerous~ when I don’t see it. Sure, at some point, he confesses that he already used his gun and he did some illegal things but nowhere did I see anything that made me fear Zion. I know, he’s the love interest but characterizations must have evidence.

Still, I was enjoying the novel and was so sure that I’d give it three stars. But then, Aubrey started irritating me and I began to notice and nitpick A LOT. First, all the non-drama with Noah. Aubrey being so indecisive and unfair. I mean, I’m also an indecisive person but gah, she quite possibly loves Zion then she dates Noah because she doesn’t have feelings for him and she needs safe. But then, she always said that she doesn’t date and so WHY IS SHE DOING THIS? I couldn’t figure out her thought process. So it felt like the author was just creating conflicts to fill the pages.

Next, she tells Zion that she can’t be with him because he’s a criminal and she can’t be with one after her father’s embezzling indictment. Okay, I understand that. So Zion does everything to try and leave his family AKA the Wolves and then she just gives up at the first sign of an obstacle! It felt like Zion was the only one doing something to make them work. He talked to his boss so she can date Aubrey even though she’s still a barmaid at the bar. I didn’t feel like Aubrey truly loved Zion because I didn’t see any action of hers done out of love.

I have lots of other issues with the novel but probably the final straw was how easily the resolution at the end was made. We’ve all been building up to this and then it just becomes resolved right away. O-KAY. Then, the final FINAL straw was that HEA right after the quick resolution. *facepalm*

Oh, and don’t get me started on the random Zion chapters! The novel was mostly told in Aubrey’s first-person perspective then there were two or three random chapters where it’s Zion’s third-person perspective. WHAT GIVES? It was so jarring.

I wouldn’t give up on Ronnie Douglas just yet because she did create these interesting secondary characters, Zion’s cousin Noah and Aubrey’s friend Ellen. I’m sure the next novel is about them because they had a past. WHAT?!?!?! IT’S NOT ABOUT THEM?!?!?! Okay, I’m fine with Ellen-Alamo but HUHUHU, I was wishing that there’d be a second-chance romance with Ellen and Noah. OH WELL.

Anyway, I’m not ruling out Ronnie Douglas’ future works since I found her writing okay. I just had problems with the other aspects of the novel, hence, the two stars.

About Ronnie Douglas

Also writes as Melissa Marr.


Reading in Fast Forward

Who among here would admit to skimming a book just to be done with it? To wanting to know how a book ends even though something is bothering or annoying you? Whether it’s because of too-flowery-bordering-on-pretentious prose or characters you want to strangle with dental floss or plot as ridiculous as sea lions wearing elf costumes (that sounds cute), come on, speak up! Because I do. I am a badge-wearing member of Team Skimming. Because who wants to sit through the B-plots or the cardboard cutout characters that make you want to gouge your eyes out, right? But I do something a bit weirder. I actually skim books I enjoy. Books I can’t put down. Books that leave me at the edge of my seat.

You see, I love anticipating. Spoilers make me giddy. Just the thought of something happening brings such immense joy to me. And when I actually do get to that glorious moment I’ve been building up in my mind and it delivers? Beware of my total brain meltdown and my constant yapping. You may argue that knowing what happens next dilutes the surprise. I do agree with you, when it comes to mysteries and thrillers. You may argue that building up a moment or a twist or an event in my brain will just end to disappointment. It usually does. But that’s the beauty of my system. I already know what happens so the author can amaze me by HOW it happens.

Ready Player OneI don’t even make a conscious decision to skim. Take for example Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. The pages were flying by, I was reading so fast. Then it started. I was so invested and curious that my eyes just skimmed and found the things and events I needed to know. After spazzing and breathing in deeply to calm myself down, I went back to where I was reading and reveled in the fact and read in peace that what I wanted to happen happened.

Yes, it took me quite some time to finish Ready Player One but it was all worth it. I skimmed every few pages, with every single adventure Wade Watts faced. I couldn’t stop doing it, I just had to know if he was safe, if everyone is safe, if everything is exciting. Then I went back to where I was and read it properly. It sounds insane and stupid but I truly love doing this. When I read the parts I missed properly, I get to focus on the prose and the characters, without all the worrying. With adventure-packed tales of explosions and hacking and all things exciting, the plot can be so enthralling that you get swept up in its fast pace, not noticing oddities and discrepancies or that glaring loophole in the science. You just want to get to the thrill, to the big finish, to the largest explosion or maybe the Bollywood dance. With my method, I get to enjoy and pay attention to every detail. Well, at least I think so.

Open Road Summer

This needing to know happens with books in series too. I ship hard, you’d think it was my existence on the line like if my grandmother and grandfather hadn’t met in an alternate universe. If my ship is in danger and I am not sure what is the endgame, it’s likely that I haven’t read the next book or the last book in that series. I don’t know if I can ever read Requiem by Lauren Oliver because I just want to live in my Julian bubble in Pandemonium. After a year-long wait, I could not not skim P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han because the need to see my ship sailing was of paramount importance. Emery Lord’s Open Road Summer took me a long time to finish because I still skimmed and relived the glorious moments with Matt Finch even though I was supposedly doing my proper read.

I don’t know what spurred me to start skimming books I am quite loving. Like I said, it was not a conscious decision on my part. I just noticed that I kept on doing it. I don’t even pick genres! Be it for the sci-fi fairytale retelling that is Cinder by Marissa Meyer or the futuristic tale of a world with alternate history Plus One by Elizabeth Fama or the contemporary romance Whatever Life Throws at You by Julie Cross, if I like it, I skim it.

But never ever tell me a spoiler for a thriller or a mystery. I will gut you.

Review: Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING is out this week and I implore you to go and read it. J’adore!

Title: Everything, Everything
Author: Nicola Yoon
Publisher: Delacorte BFYR
Date of Publication: September 1, 2015

This innovative, heartfelt debut novel tells the story of a girl who’s literally allergic to the outside world. When a new family moves in next door, she begins a complicated romance that challenges everything she’s ever known. The narrative unfolds via vignettes, diary entries, texts, charts, lists, illustrations, and more.

My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.

But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.

Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.

Purchase from Amazon | B&N | The Book Depository


My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Thank you to Random House Kids for the review copy! Having received one did not affect my views of the novel.

Everything about this book was adorable! Yeah, I couldn’t stop myself from saying everything. But it holds true though, because this book is just A-D-O-R-A-B-L-E.

I got this book Friday and the first thing I noticed is WHAT A PRETTY COVER LET ME CUDDLE IT. You have to see it in the flesh. The colors and the illustrations, just, *moony eyes*. Then, I started it first thing Saturday and I didn’t stop reading. While I was out commuting, doing the grocery, I read EVERYWHERE. I couldn’t stop. Madeline’s voice got to me right away and I couldn’t let her go until I know her story. What she has to say. It was so damn readable!

Madeline has SCID, which is more commonly known as the bubble baby disease, where everything and anything could trigger an allergy attack that can make her sick or even kill her. With that, she has lived her eighteen years inside her house, being homeschooled via online classes, reading books, and is actually happy and content. Sure, she’d still want to get cured if only it were possible, but alas, she doesn’t think of nonexistent cures as it would only make her miserable. I love how positive Madeline was but still having yearning thoughts for the Outside (as she calls it) once in a while. She’s resigned to her fate but is dealing with the cards she’s been dealt as positively as she can.

She’s close with her mom, a doctor, and her personal nurse Carla. These are the only two people Madeline see and talk to personally and rely on. Carla’s Mexican and I love how she’s so warm. And perfect for Madeline. As for Madeline’s mom, I like how they play Fonetik Skrabl which is basically scrabble but not caring about spelling. Just the sound. So cute and yay for a young adult who doesn’t hate parental figures! Madeline’s mom is a bit on the scale of anxious and very worried for Madeline so it all balances out.

One day, a moving truck of a family of four comes and Madeline gets  neighbors. Specifically, a neighbor who’s a boy. Of the same age. Named Olly. Who wears all black, does parkour, and definitely took Madeline’s breath away the first time she saw him.

Thus begins the adorable. Madeline and Olly get to know each other and I love love love reading their chats! Olly’s a cynic but isn’t that cynical as he would like to think. He’s random, he’s kinetic, he’s spontaneous, he’s movement. Madeline has been living her life as if in stasis, every day is the same as any other day. It was so obvious she’ll fall in love with Olly. And I was right alongside her.

Olly was perfect and maybe I have a beef with that? I wish we got to know Olly more. Aside from having an abusive father and being sweet and  – did I say perfect already?- magnetic, I wanted more! Nevertheless, GUYS, Olly just made me squeal so hard. Dolphin squeals were heard all over our house because HE SAYS JUST THE PERFECT THINGS AND I AM LEFT UNDONE. It is also Madeline’s first time to fall in love so IT’S SO EXCITING! AND FRESH! And generally swoontastic.

But do you know what made me instantly click and understand Maddy (as Olly now calls her) even more? That moment where she said her favorite book is The Little Prince. Because it changes meaning every single time. I thought, AM I HER? This is the exact reason why I love The Little Prince and why it’s my favorite book OF ALL TIME. I think that single tidbit about Madeline made it for me. Made me understand her and of course, root for her, like nothing else.

She also loves and cries every time she reads Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes and GUYS GUYS GUYS. Is Nicola Yoon writing about me??? That book wrecked me and I can never re-read it again because I cannot go through that again.

Aside from my deep connections with the books featured in Everything, Everything, it also took me by surprise. If you think this is just a story of a girl falling in love for the first time even if it could kill her, it’s not. It’s more than that and the third act of the novel made me !!!!OKAY!!!! I DID NOT EXPECT THAT MUCH AMAZE. While I do wish the resolution at the end wasn’t as quick and a bit swept-under-the-rug, I still certainly approve of the ending. Specifically Maddy and Olly’s last scene. It was very reminiscent of Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares (not its ending but a scene in it), which you must know I also adore (every single letter of it).

Oh, oh, before I forget, diversity! Madeline’s mother is Japanese American and her father’s African American. So she’s of mixed race, with dark skin and curly hair. As I previously stated, Carla’s Mexican.

Lastly, the illustrations! I love the format of the book, in the form of diary entries, email screenshots, the illustrations (made by the author’s husband LOVE THEM ALL), chats, and everything.

Everything, Everything is a novel full of heart and this heart is what kept this book beating and resonating among readers. I highly recommend you to pick this one up and join me in reveling living your life, taking risks, and loving. J’adore!

About Nicola Yoon

Nicola Yoon grew up in Jamaica (the island) and Brooklyn (part of Long Island). She currently resides in Los Angeles, CA with her husband and daughter, both of whom she loves beyond all reason. Everything, Everything is her first novel.

Review: Like It Never Happened by Emily Adrian

Like It Never Happened
Title: Like It Never Happened
Author: Emily Adrian
Publisher: Dial Books
Date of Publication: June 2, 2015

Stereotypes, sexuality, and destructive rumors collide in this smart YA novel for fans of Sara Zarr’s Story of a Girl, Siobhan Vivian’s The List, and E. Lockhart’s The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks.

When Rebecca Rivers lands the lead in her school’s production of The Crucible, she gets to change roles in real life, too. She casts off her old reputation, grows close with her four rowdy cast-mates, and kisses the extremely handsome Charlie Lamb onstage. Even Mr. McFadden, the play’s critical director, can find no fault with Rebecca.

Though “The Essential Five” vow never to date each other, Rebecca can’t help her feelings for Charlie, leaving her both conflicted and lovestruck. But the on and off-stage drama of the cast is eclipsed by a life-altering accusation that threatens to destroy everything…even if some of it is just make believe.

Purchase from Amazon | B&N | The Book Depository

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Thank you to TFBBC and Penguin Random House for the review copy! Having received one did not affect my views of the novel.
I had no idea this book even existed until I saw Christina’s praises for it. Then I noticed that the reviews for Like It Never Happened were generally positive and I vowed I’d read this one day. So when the opportunity to join the blog tour came around, I jumped at it.
And thank the book gods I did because, whoa.
Whatever you think Like It Never Happened is about, you’re probably wrong. Because it seemed like it just chronicles Rebecca’s life, with a focus on The Essential Five, her theatre best friends. We have the oh-so-handsome and charming overachiever that is Charlie, who Rebecca crushes on hard. However, The Essential Five vowed not to date each other, to avoid personal drama onstage.
So obviously, I thought that the novel would be about Rebecca and Charlie’s secret relationship, juggling high school,  a bit of family drama, a crush on a teacher, and a play. HOW WRONG I WAS. Sure, it was about those things but it was also about more. So much more than that. Those plot arcs only scratch the surface of what is such a realistic narrative of the teenage experience. And it’s not shallow too. I wouldn’t have expected Like It Never Happened to delve at topics I won’t disclose because SPOILERS! Okay, fine, for example, rumors and how it can really ruin the high school experience (and your whole being and how you perceive yourself and your character and BASICALLY EVERYTHING). Gender/sexual preference, marriage, love, growing up, boundaries, and just so much more. WHO WOULD HAVE THOUGHT?
I loved how I basically knew nothing of the plot but I had these hunches and while I was right about some of them, I still was surprised by some. And while Like It Never Happened isn’t exactly a mystery, the sheer readability of the story Emily Adrian crafted just kept on propelling me to read on and know the full grasp of the story. I got so curious where the story’s going that I just wanted to get there.
Not to say that all I wanted was to reach the end. I also enjoyed my time reading Like It Never Happened because Rebecca’s voice, while not one that will go down the books as one of my favorites, was engaging and rang true to me. Her concerns, her motivation, how her mind works, it was familiar yet still sounded refreshing.
Plus, THEATRE! And their drama!
Just trust me that the less you know about the story, the better. It’s the good kind of not knowing. Let Emily Adrian take you for a ride with Like It Never Happened. I was just there for the ride and what a ride it was!
About Emily Adrian
Emily Adrian was born in 1989 in the suburbs of Portland, Oregon. After graduating from Portland State University, she moved to Toronto, Ontario, where she worked as a receptionist while secretly writing books.
Emily currently lives in Toronto with her husband and their dog named Hank. Like It Never Happened is her debut novel.