Category Archives: Sylvia Day

April 2016 Reads

Took me 11 days into May, but I managed to review every book bar one, of which I only wrote a paragraph (see below).

Francesca Haig: The Map of Bones: 4 stars: Review
Cyn Balog: Dead River: 3 stars
Kelley Armstrong: Forsaken: 3 stars: Review
Meg Cabot: Proposal: 3 stars: Review
Cassie Alexander: Bloodshifted: 4 stars: Review
Sara Zarr: Story of a Girl: 3 stars: Review
Lisa Tucker: The Promised World: 3 stars: Review
Sylvia Day: One with You: 2 stars: Review

DEAD RIVER
CONTENT WARNING: Suicide and suicidal attempts. Grief. Drowning. Murder. I’d forgot this was paranormal, and went in expecting a contemporary thriller. A teen girl hates camping and the outdoors, yet still agrees to on a white water rafting weekend with her boyfriend, her best friend, and a tag-along. It does not go well. She falls out, drowns, but is rescued by a guy who’s…a ghost or something. And there’s this other ghost, and it’s all very confusing and nonsensical. But the only way the girl can access the ghostworld – namely the ghost of her dead mother – is by drowning. Yes, it gets a bit suicidal. The rafting is interesting, and the grief regarding her mother is relatable, but the paranormal element is a fail, and that epilogue is ugh.

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[REVIEW] One with You – Sylvia Day

SPOILER WARNING: This review contains SPOILERS. (This is what you came for…) But if you want a non-spoilery review – 2 stars. Some things I liked; a lot I didn’t.

Sylvia Day
One with You (Crossfire, Book 5)
Macmillan St. Martin’s Griffin (US: 5th April 2016); Penguin (UK: 4th April 2016; AU: 5th April 2016)
Buy (US Kindle Edition) Buy (US Paperback) Buy (UK Kindle Edition) Buy (UK Paperback) Buy (CA Kindle Edition) Buy (CA Paperback) Buy (Worldwide)

CONTENT WARNING: Flashbacks/details of rape and sexual abuse (including that of children), demonising of mental healthcare professionals, ableism/mentalism, fat-phobia.

“Not what you expect. Everything you want.” So says the novel’s ads, but it turns out I’m not the “you” in question. It is what I expected, and not what I wanted. (I hoped Eva and Gideon would break up and never get back together.)

You can so tell the author wrote this book with a TV adaptation in mind. Most characters have their own subplots, but we don’t see them through to conclusion, so they come across as filler. Not really a surprise that this is the longest novel the author’s written – it didn’t need to be.

So much repetition about how much Eva and Gideon love each other, how attractive they find each other. There’s a lot of emphasis on Eva’s chest and posterior. Not just from Gideon’s POV but also Eva’s. Ireland speaks up, too. Though Eva’s “curvy”, we are constantly reminded. There’s fat-phobia here, when at first Eva doesn’t want to be photographed in a bikini after “pigging out” at lunch. (Her words, not mine.) At first I wondered if all the prose about Eva’s body was foreshadowing a maybe-pregnancy (like how I thought all the period talk in a previous episode would lead to; I was wrong), but of course not. Gideon’s not willing to share Eva with anyone, not even a child. Same reason he doesn’t want Eva to hang out with her family and friends.

And for a supposedly “erotic” novel, the shagging is actually…really boring. Except for one scene with brief rimming and thumb play. But kudos to the author: at least she’s given up on the D/s thing she forced into earlier episodes, back when this series was trying to be an up-market FSOG. Sylvia Day even included E. L. James in the dedication or acknowledgements for Bared to You.

So what actually happens here? Eva resigns from her job. Undecided whether to work for Gideon or not, she concentrates on arranging their second wedding. They plan to sell the event photos, and give the money to charity. Only it doesn’t sound charitable if you’re donating the money to your own foundation, just saying.

Eva decides they shouldn’t have sex until the wedding. Gideon says no. Eva says, “You can’t say no.” Gideon says, “You can’t say no.” Those are direct quotes, by the way. Gideon may not be a rapist, but he sure as hell sounds like one. (SPOILER: the chastity vow doesn’t last. And they can’t even spend their bachelor(ette) weekend apart, so Eva flies from Ibiza to Rio after a photo scandal. Melodrama.)

Meanwhile, Eva’s being a pain, getting Cary to schedule appointments for her and use his contacts to get her a custom-made wedding dress. And she does a really irresponsible thing: gifts Gideon a puppy. NO. People, you can’t just gift people with pets if they never showed any interest in wanting one. And if they do want one, take them to a shelter where they can meet a variety of individuals and choose their OWN new best friend, rather than YOU choosing one for them.

Gideon gets back at Eva by gifting a creepy bracelet. It comes in halves, and has to be screwed on with a special screwdriver, which he’s keeping so she can’t remove this…manacle. Because nothing says “I love you” more than “I want to trap you”. *head-desk*

Eva does not have good relationships with other women. Key example: her mother controlled and stalked her, and Eva’s husband controls and stalks her. Mommy issues! Eva also judges a woman for considering abortion, saying she’s just manipulating a guy. And here’s the charming thing she says to Gideon in regards to another woman: “Just imagining you flirting with her, giving her the idea you’d like to screw her, makes me want to break stuff – including her face.” Uh, why not blame HIM instead? Wonder if Eva’s got some internalised misogyny going on.

OK, we have to talk about how this series treats mental healthcare professionals. They’re demonised; the cause of Gideon’s trauma – except for Dr. Petersen, the BEST CHARACTER in Crossfire, the voice of reason who gives good advice. He’s awesome. But it’s uncomfortable that Gideon and Eva keep using the ableist/mentalist terms “crazy”, “nuts”, and “insane”, and no one calls them out on it.

As for the others (I warned you there’d be SPOILERS): Hugh raped Gideon, who was a child. Terry helped cover it up. Anne’s the villain in Crossfire, getting back at Gideon for the shoddy way he treated her. And here’s the MEGA-SPOILER: she hires a patient to shoot Eva. Only Monica is hit instead, and dies.

This is weird, considering an odd subplot is based on Monica, and I waited for Gideon to confront her. That never happens. And though her back-story seems strangely just thrown in at first, it’s actually the most interesting part of the entire novel. Of the entire SERIES. If only we’d had a book all about Monica instead… Anyway, we find out why she’s so obsessed with money.

Gideon plays a major part in both these SPOILERS: he withholds information from Eva. When Monica dies, he doesn’t tell Eva until the next day. (If he’d shagged her before he did that, I would’ve had a temper tantrum. He didn’t, but I’m still pretty angry.) And when he receives the information that the investigation into Monica’s life revealed…he doesn’t tell Eva straight away, either. He’ll tell her “when the time is right”, or some shiz. I also would’ve blown a gasket there, but in the next chapter – the epilogue – he and Eva make plans regarding the care of, and visits to, Eva’s aunt.

And that’s what you missed in One with You.

5th April 2016 Releases

Happy Release Day to:

Jenna Black
Nightstruck
Macmillan Tor Teen (US: 5th April 2016)
Buy (US) Buy (UK) Buy (CA) Buy (Worldwide)

Becket is an ordinary teenage girl, wrestling with the upheaval of her parents’ divorce. A studious high school senior, her biggest problems to date have been choosing which colleges to apply to, living up to her parents’ ambitious expectations for her, and fighting her secret crush on her best friend’s boyfriend. But that all changes on the night she tries to save an innocent life and everything goes horribly wrong. Unbeknownst to her, Becket has been tricked into opening a door between worlds, allowing a dark magic into the mortal world. As the magic trickles in, the city begins to change at night. Strange creatures roam the streets, and inanimate objects come to life, all of them bloodthirsty and terrifying. The city returns to normal when the sun rises in the morning, and no one can capture the strange changes – such as potholes turning into toothy mouths and wires turning into strangling vines – on film, which prompts the government to declare that the city has been infected with some kind of madness and must be quarantined. Meanwhile, venturing out of one’s house at night has become a dangerous proposition, and the moment the sun sets, most of the citizens of the city shut themselves up in their houses and stay there even in the case of dire emergencies. The magic is openly hostile to most mortals, but there are some individuals it seems to covet, trying to lure them out into the night. While Becket struggles to protect her friends and family from predatory creatures of the night, she is constantly tempted to shrug off all her responsibilities and join them. Joining the night world means being free of not just responsibility, but conscience, and it means no longer caring about the fate of others.

Sylvia Day
One with You (Crossfire, Book 5)
Macmillan St. Martin’s Griffin (US: 5th April 2016); Penguin (UK & AU: 5th April 2016)
Buy (US) Buy (UK) Buy (CA) Buy (Worldwide)

Gideon Cross. Falling in love with him was the easiest thing I’ve ever done. It happened instantly. Completely. Irrevocably. Marrying him was a dream come true. Staying married to him is the fight of my life. Love transforms. Ours is both a refuge from the storm and the most violent of tempests. Two damaged souls entwined as one. We have bared our deepest, ugliest secrets to one another. Gideon is the mirror that reflects all my flaws…and all the beauty I couldn’t see. He has given me everything. Now, I must prove I can be the rock, the shelter for him that he is for me. Together, we could stand against those who work so viciously to come between us. But our greatest battle may lie within the very vows that give us strength. Committing to love was only the beginning. Fighting for it will either set us free…or break us apart.

Richelle Mead
The Glittering Court
Penguin Razorbill (US, CA, & AU: 5th April 2016)
Buy (US) Buy (UK) Buy (CA) Buy (Worldwide)

For a select group of girls, the Glittering Court offers a shot at a life they’ve only ever dreamed of, one of luxury, glamour, and leisure. To high-born Adelaide, whose wealthy family is forcing her into a loveless marriage, the Glittering Court represents something else: the chance to chart her own destiny, and adventure in an unspoiled, prosperous new land across the sea. After a chance meeting with the dazzling Cedric Thorn, Adelaide poses as a servant to join the crop of impoverished girls he promises to transform into proper ladies. But her familiarity with upper class life comes with a price: she must hide her identity from her new friends, mysterious refugee Mira and fiery former laundress Tamsin, and most importantly, from Cedric himself – even though she’s falling in love with him. Everything begins to crumble when Cedric discovers Adelaide’s ruse, and she catches the eye of a powerful young governor, who wants her for a wife. She didn’t leave the gilded cage of her old life behind just to become someone else’s property. But nothing is as daunting – or as wonderful – as the potent, forbidden attraction simmering between Adelaide and Cedric. One that, if acted on, would make them both outcasts in a wild, dangerous, uncharted world, and possibly lead them to their deaths.

Danielle Rollins
Burning
Bloomsbury (US: 5th April 2016)
Buy (US) Buy (UK) Buy (CA) Buy (Worldwide)

Tucked away, deep in the woods, Brunesfield Correctional Facility’s cold walls and empty hallways keep dangerous girls away from the world…girls like Angela Davis, whose fate was determined by one bad decision. After a few years in juvie, Angela is finally close to her release, but everything changes the day a new warden with dark plans takes over. Angela knows evil when she sees it, and as strange disappearances and frightening incidents happen more and more frequently, it becomes clear that Brunesfield could be the end of them. Angela and her friends must find a way to get out, but how can they save themselves from very place keeping them locked away?”

April 2016 Releases

Done with March 2016 Releases? Here are April 2016 Releases. For future releases, check Reading Wishlist.

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4 New Covers (Barnes, Day, Kenner, Yovanoff)

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Now Available for US Pre-Order

Megan Abbott: YOU WILL KNOW ME: 26th July 2016: Buy (US)
Josephine Angelini: FIREWALKER (paperback): 6th September 2016: Buy (US)
Josephine Angelini: WITCH’S PYRE: 6th September 2016: Buy (US)
Abigail Barnette: THE BABY: 9th November 2015: Buy (US)
Steve Bein: DISCIPLE OF THE WIND (paperback): 3rd March 2016: Buy (US)
Laura Bickle: NINE OF STARS: 12th Aprill 2016: Buy (US)
Sharon Cameron: ROOK (paperback): 31st May 2016: Buy (US)
Naomi Clark: COLD NIGHT MOON: 14th November 2015: Buy (US)
Andrea Cremer: THE CONJURER’S RIDDLE (paperback): 2nd August 2016: Buy (US)
Sylvia Day: ONE WITH YOU: 5th April 2016: Buy (US)
Erica Hayes: SCARRED: 14th January 2016: Buy (US)
J. Kenner: STARK AFTER DARK: 9th February 2016: Buy (US)
Eileen Rendahl: DREIDELS AND DEMONS: 15th November 2015: Buy (US)
Beth Revis: PAPER HEARTS, VOLUME 2: SOME PUBLISHING ADVICE: 1st December 2015: Buy (US)
Laurie Faria Stolarz: RETURN TO THE DARK HOUSE (paperback): 19th July 2016: Buy (US)
Karri Thompson: ASCENDANCY: 30th November 2015: Buy (US)
Carol Lynch Williams: NEVER SAID (paperback): 16th August 2016: Buy (US)

[REVIEW] Captivated by You – Sylvia Day

Sylvia Day
Captivated by You (Crossfire, Book 4)
Penguin (US, UK, & CA: 18th November 2014; AU: 19th November 2014)
Buy (US Kindle Edition) Buy (US Paperback) Buy (UK Kindle Edition) Buy (UK Paperback) Buy (CA Kindle Edition) Buy (CA Paperback) Buy (Worldwide)

TRIGGER WARNINGS: Rape, sexual abuse, stalking, psychological abuse.
SPOILER WARNINGS: For the series, and this book in particular. But considering there’s not much plot, there’s not much spoiling.

Having grown up reading crime novels, I’m accustomed to the occasional point-of-view from the creepy guy. In the case of Sylvia Day’s Captivated by You, the creepy guy’s POV is every odd-numbered chapter. Yes, half the entire novel is narrated by the creepy guy…who is supposedly the “hero”. And this is supposedly a “romance”.

A common misconception of romance is that it has only one rule: The people in the relationship (commonly a couple, but also with multiple partners) must live happily ever after, or “happy for now”. Fair enough. But to me there’s a second important factor: The reader has to WANT the people in the relationship to live happily ever, or happy for now. If the reader doesn’t care, or would actually prefer the relationship NOT to continue (i.e. the characters would be better off on their own or with other people), the author hasn’t sold the romantic relationship convincingly enough.

Everyone reads subjectively, so what works for some readers may not work for others. But you know which category Gideon Cross and Eva Tramell fall into for me.

I’ve heard the author talk about how the Crossfire concept came along: a statistic regarding abuse survivors; that they often end up in relationships with each other. (As for the rest of the series…if I remember correctly, E. L. James is named in the dedication/acknowledgments for Bared to You. That explains a lot of problematic shiz in this series.)

I’m fed up with this new trend of book summaries written in the first-person and saying pretty much nothing about the plot. (It’s not just this series – I noticed it with J. Kenner’s Stark trilogy, too.) But I guess it’s honest advertising, when you read the novel and realise that there’s not much of a plot.

Let me save you 357 pages: Gideon and Eva’s engagement goes public (even though they’re secretly married), Gideon sees threats to their relationship everywhere, and Gideon keeps everything secret from Eva in order to “protect” her (or some shiz). Meanwhile, Eva realises her true calling: to help abuse survivors. Conveniently, Gideon’s business includes a foundation for that, so he offers Eva’s boss a job with him, hoping Eva will come along.

Eva has put up with a lot of Gideon’s faff, but she finally stands up for herself in this instance, and doesn’t let him off easy for potentially rendering her unemployed. It’s here, in the last third of the book, where the novel actually has a story and Eva asserts herself as being something other than Gideon’s doormat. She actually WANTS independence, including a life outside of Gideon, with HER friends, and work at a business that HE doesn’t own.

Gideon, meanwhile, already has his independence, and seems intent on keeping Eva from hers. And my word, he’s so freaking annoying for most of the book. He’s definitely psychologically abusive (trying to keep her from friends, trying to force her into working for him), and borderline sexually abusive, too (see the bottom half of page 9, and part of Chapter 14).

From page 9:

She stiffened and pushed at me, rejecting me. “Gideon, no…” […]
She struggled and I growled, “Don’t fight me.” […]
“Let me go.” She rolled onto her stomach.
My arms banded around her hips when she tried to crawl away.

Also, Gideon victim-blames Eva’s friend. Megumi was in a bad relationship, got out, and reluctantly returned, hoping the guy had changed. Instead, he becomes more abusive and harassing.

From page 102:

“Sounds like bad judgment all around,” I said. “One of them should’ve known what they were doing.”

From page 103:

“She broke it off, and then took him back. He might not realize she’s serious this time.” […] “I don’t have the whole story…”

Fark you, Gideon.

To his credit, Gideon begins to speak openly with his therapists, and realise that even Eva needs at least some degree of independence. But this comes far too late in the novel. Instead, most of the book is filled with repetitive shiz: “I love you more”, “I need you more”, “you’re the sexiest”, “YOU’re the sexiest”… Those scenes have absolutely no conflict, and don’t move the story forward. They don’t assist with characterisation, either, so they’re purely filler. Speaking of, that karaoke chapter is just terrible. Note: name-checking songs and musicians doesn’t make you cool – it ages your book, and I judge you for your song choices 😉

Gideon and Eva finally realise that a therapist had a point, when he said the couple needs to communicate with each other in ways that aren’t sex. (Sex talk doesn’t count, either.) They need to TALK to each other, WITH each other, ABOUT each other. And LISTEN, instead of just mindlessly reassuring or ignoring. And even their sex is repetitive (minus the swing scene, which needs more explaining). Mind you, the BDSM seems a bit thrown in via checklist, and doesn’t impact the story at all. Even Gideon tying Eva to the elevator handrail was half-heartedly BDSM. (He claims he does it to prevent Eva from touching him because “I’ll lose it,” which seems to suggest he would’ve raped her. So he tied her up “for her own good”, or whatever.)

I intend to read Book 5, Only with You, whenever it may be published. (I imagine it’ll have the same shoddy scheduling as this book – the release date only announced when the manuscript’s sent to the printers. For other authors and novels, their publication dates are announced whilst they’re still revising/copyediting.)

Credit to Sylvia Day: she’s created a series that makes me FEEL. Makes me feel ANGRY, but that’s better than feeling meh about it, right? If you want to yell at characters, you’ve come to the right book.