Book Review: Gemina (The Illuminae Files 02) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Let’s take a break from Fantasia Festival madness and get  a book review in! You may  not need it, but I absolutely do! 😉

Gemina is the sequel of Illuminae, the first book of The Illuminae Files (as you can see in the cover below). I read Illuminae earlier this year and totally loved it. If you want to know why, you can read all about it in my review HERE.

Gemina
(The Illuminae Files 02)
by: Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Gemina

When an elite BeiTech strike team invades the station, Hanna and Nik are thrown together to defend their home. But alien predators are picking off the station residents one by one, and a malfunction in the station’s wormhole means the space-time continuum might be ripped in two before dinner. Soon Hanna and Nik aren’t just fighting for their own survival; the fate of everyone on the Hypatia—and possibly the known universe—is in their hands. – Goodreads

Gemina is an exhilarating ride. A fantastically amazing one. This author duo has truly created a writing style that works truly remarkably. Presenting the story through dossiers and recordings are amazing. In fact, I remembered talking at the end of the review of the first book.avoit how it was hard to make that one into a movie and I was honestly disappointed in that choice. On the contrary, Gemina is so descriptive making everything so vivid that while it will be hard to live up to the images of everyone, with the right director, this one could be a fun ride. It might be because it embraces Die Hard set in a dystopian future in space and adds in am an Alien theme with their creatures. The idea is that they can take the first book to have enough success to get this one made also. I’m a little more excited about the idea.

What works for both of these books is how they choose to lay it out. The different recordings and files give you juat enough to understand what is going on but also leaves gaps and blindspots as to what is going on behind the scene and that creates mystery. Continuing after the first book, this hops onto another space carrier and with new characters, however having still managing to comnect to the characters in the first book. That is important as it gives a continuity to the story. It makes the readers care about this world because the new pair of characters are every bit as intriguing to read as they come to life also, two very different people from the first but still with equally intriguing stories that make them survivors but also human. Hanna and Nik are two acquaintances wrapped up in a lot of stereotypes and prejudices towards each other and grow to see each other more.

Its amazing how the Illuminae Files series has embodied so much. Other than the characters, it definitely feels like there is a lot of unanswered questions. The virus in part one, the creatures in part two, the secret agenda from Beitech: the main question at the end is a lot of why’s. Hopefully we will get the answers soon to pull everything together in the third book.

Overall, I love Gemina. There’s so many great things about it that makes it incredible. Not quite as mindblowing as Illuminae however still very awesome.

All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

We’re somewhat back on track with the Goodreads challenge now. It shows that I’m a book ahead but then I can’t seem to fix the problem that it has the same book twice. Plus, I read a lot of short stories and comics so I’m not sure those really count as one book. Its slightly cheating. Although, with my TBR list somewhat mapped out, I feel like I’m most likely to go over at the current moment. Who knows, right? I could go into one of those lack of motivation phases and just not read for a month. Up next is a book review of All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven. As I read this one, I couldn’t help but compare it to Thirteen Reasons Why, mostly because it also features youth and mental illness and how the two authors took a different angle and built different characters essentially.

Let’s check it out!

All the Bright Places
by: Jennifer Niven

All the Bright Places

Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him. Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death. When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the ‘natural wonders’ of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself – a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.  – Goodreads

Before I start the actual review, I’d like to start with this bit. I’m on record to not have enjoyed Thirteen Reasons Why. You can check out the review HERE.  As I think back to it frequently, its mostly because of Hannah Baker and how I find her a manipulative character in general. I haven’t seen the series and I can’t comment on it if that is what you are basing any opinions on. I always get a little worried when I approach books about mental illness because its a very touchy subject and a lot of people who has these illnesses will become very defensive about it. So I’m going to say that while I didn’t enjoy Thirteen Reasons Why, I appreciate what it was trying to do and the issues it was trying to highlight. If the character resounded more to you, that’s great. I’m happy to hear that it did because it means that someone related to it and it did its job. Now we’re aren’t here to talk about Thirteen Reasons Why but All the Bright Places and with that said, I’d like to highlight why I think this book works better at highlighting youths and mental illness, while trying to bring forth the same issues.

All the Bright Places is about two young ones who meet on the sixth story roof of their school and for their own reasons, they both end up getting off. Who saves the other is unknown at that moment and its with this starting point that this unlikely friendship begins. First off, that descriptions says way too much, making the mystery of the story vanish because its so obvious what will happen. I really dislike stories that make descriptions who say too much. However, All the Bright Places is a page-turner. There is no doubt about it. While primarily their problems and their inner struggles make them intriguing to read, Violet and Theodore are compelling because of that. In many ways, both are learning to live in the present and remember that there is more to life than running away from the past or finding ways to escape the present. Not all people who suffer some form of mental illness can’t be saved, but sometimes, it takes someone with a careful eye to notice these little details and that is exactly what this story highlights, how a lot of people don’t know how to differentiate when someone needs help. They may not reach out or they may not be noticed and sometimes people will just label them with an excuse that describes who they are in an awkward or weird way. And sometimes, mental illness does become the world of the person who lives with it whether they like it or not. I’m speaking of this last part through personal experience of people I know and things that has happened to them and how various parts of how Theodore and Finch’s dialogue resounded to me.

These types of books are very personal experiences in some ways. However, All the Bright Places is very cleverly executed. It creates two characters and uses their search for the natural wonders around them to invoke the sense of discovery and how there is more to see and worth living for regardless of how big or small. It also emphasizes how while part of the fight is with support from others, in many ways, their inner struggles had to be overcame by themselves and with some good professional help. I’m not sure if this is trying to have a social statement about how schools don’t have a good enough psychiatric help or that there are lacking of resources and knowledge of these issues in teenagers. It might even be a statement about how parents (or family in general) sometimes don’t pay as much attention as they should to their children as they deal with their own issues. There might not even be a statement but just that sometimes, a little notice of the details of the people you see day in and out, whether its a friend or family could go a long way. All the Bright Places depicts it well that certain symptoms can be nudged off as a character trait, awkward or odd or just how that person is because its a familiar thing, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t something that can alarm others to give a helpful nudge before its too late.

I’ve went off a tangent now. Overall, All the Bright Places is a great story that does very well in showing how mental illnesses can be misunderstood easily. It serves as a reminder to notice the ones we love more. It also serves to say that sometimes, those with mental illness might not even acknowledge that they have it and don’t know when to seek help and sometimes, there is nothing you can to stop their actions. Whatever it is that you relate to in this story or pick up, its a rather personal experience. In a more objective way, All the Bright Places brings out two characters that are very different and dealing with different issues, living in different realities and create a story where they search for wonders as they both search for the will to keep living and moving forward each day. Who says whom in the beginning, what is the reality of the situation, what are these individuals thinking of, what inner struggles are they truly dealing with, who are they and which part of their personality is because of their mental illnesses; these are all questions that it poses and will be swimming through your mind as you read it. Sometimes, it’ll make you smile a little as the characters find happiness and contentment in what they do and sometimes, you might feel a tug in your heartstrings as they go through their inner battles. Whatever it is, All the Bright Places is a well-executed and well-written young adult novel with compelling characters.

**As an after note, I have read some of the Goodreads reviews on why some people have changed their mind and rated this poorly, which made me think about the characterization of not only Violet and Theodore but also the people around them, I’d like to say that with my experiences, I feel like this book strikes a chord with me and does portray and highlight the mental illness issue very well in these characters. **

Illuminae (The Illuminae Files 01) by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

Its been a long time since I’ve had a book review go up. I’m so sorry! I started about 3 books on my Kindle and just couldn’t get into it. It was time to admit that it is time to pick up one of my physical books and see if it will do better.

Illuminae has had a lot of buzz about its awesomeness. Being not so into Young Adult books and really not much of a sci-fi enthusiast, I still decided to give this a go because I just can’t miss out on what others call awesome and I needed a change in pace. I’ve read books like this before where its comprised of telling a story through reports and such. It is one of my favorite sorts of reading because it does feel really authentic most of the times. World War Z had a similar set-up and Carrie was definitely this type of story except a different genre. Anyways, just when you pick up the book, it looks so intriguing and fun!

Let’s check it out!

Illuminae (The Illuminae Files 01)
by: Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

Illuminae

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do. This afternoon, her planet was invaded. The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit. But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again. – Goodreads

 WOW! I don’t go all googly eyes and crazy about books. Illuminae is definitely something. It is nice to feel the same passion and excitement as others. There is so much creativity in this one and the way it shows off the situation through hacked documents and camera footage and making it authentic and forbidden by striking out sentences and having spaces and having little images created through words and binary numbers is so smart and suitable for a story like this one. It takes us not only in the future of 2575 but a dystopia. We can believe in the Kady and Ezra who has broken up over something that seems so random now. Aren’t most teen break-ups like that? However, life does throw them lemons and that comes in the form of a war that they can’t control and are split up over the two ships that remain. There’s a lot of politics as the captains of the ships have to make difficult decisions. And we see these in memos.

Other than the creative elements of using different mediums to tell their story so we get a pretty good picture of what is going on, it is the progression and pacing of the events that make it so fun. Also, the fact that we are zeroed into various characters more and the story makes the feeling of well-rounded, its easy to forget that other things are happening and then when it does have a reveal, the moments tend to build up in several surprises and twists that truly make this one big. What starts off as a sci-fi, war and dystopian novels quickly turns around and becomes a futuristic “zombie-esque” movie. Somehow revealing that probably makes it worse because that was one of the bigger twists in Illuminae that I embraced and was shocked because I didn’t read any synopsis before jumping in.

In terms of characters, Kady and Ezra are an interesting pair of characters. There’s a clear connection between them and right away for two kids nearing adulthood (aka 18 years old), there is a striped away innocence that we can’t push away. Both of them have their secrets while Kady seems to have something more. As the readers, we get a third person view of reading these reports and we get a clear idea of where everyone stands and how they both feel and what they are going through. Aside from them, perhaps the other character is the all powerful AI called AIDAN who takes on a huge role as it takes control in this 2575 future of almost everything and humans are rendered almost dysfunctional and slow when they lose the power to use it. I won’t tell you why but it brings on a whole new meaning to technology and aritificial intelligence being a double-edged sword.

Illuminae is a book that you jump into to take an adventure. It almost feels like watching a movie and yet, I don’t want this to be adapted into a movie (although its already announced that it will be – of course). There’s something about reading these passages that work so much more than what a movie adaptation can do. The fact that its like we are watching this in third person recap from different footages gives such a nice imaginative journey. It does so much more to what we can see going on. There are twists that can only work because of the between the lines and hidden facts on paper along with the imagery. Illuminae is a must-read. It has been a long time I haven’t felt this excitement for a book before: a pageturner full of thrills and twists and some compelling characters, moral and ethical choices. It is so awesome!

Rambling about adaptations ahead… skip if you’d like

Before I go, I just need to ramble about movie adaptations because both my darling husband and fantastic co-host has heard about it. I’m all for adaptations, heck, I’m starting a freakin’ segment on it, right? However, there are exceptions to the equation. It is why I wish some people would realize why its okay to not adapt every book (or video game) that is popular. The whole execution can be the death of what was a great book: look at I Am Number Four. A great book series that just didn’t take off as a movie which is a shame because it can do so well in the right hands. Another example more along the lines of this one is World War Z which was a great movie but it wasn’t an adaptation or even an inspiration, it was a zombie movie that leeched off the idea of World War Z. The book wasn’t about that: it was about survival and the different citizens and their stories and escape. It wasn’t about almighty Brad Pitt solving the mystery of it all. I liked the movie but calling it an adaptation is just trying to sell it as something it isn’t. To be fair, Carrie did a fairly good job for something with similar structure. There are some great adaptations but with something that works so well, perhaps I’m just not creative enough to see how they can make Illuminae great and I think part of it is how much involvement the authors have in this matter to use their creativity to work it all out. I’m happy that the adaptation will probably get a bigger reach for Illuminae, however, I will try to tuck away the subjective views and wait for the first trailer to see how they approach it all.

Rambling done…

Have you read Illuminae? Are you planning to?

Friends with Partial Benefits (Friends with Benefits #1) by Luke Young

It does feel like forever since I’ve written a book review. Maybe not, the last one was A Good Marriage, I believe. (It’s been really busy…) Either way, I figured after some awesome reading, I’d go for some contemporary book that has been just sitting around in my Kindle for a long time. I have to admit that the reason I’ve been straying away from this one for so long is because the cover kind of makes me laugh a little. While there has been a lot of these sexy novels in my readings in the past year (not erotica because I can’t quite categorize this one in there), there has been some surprises. Some quite pleasant surprises, in fact. So, I really go into these with an open mind and hope to just finish this with a light and fun time. Expect to see some more of this alternating between genres just to keep things interesting for myself.

Let’s check out this first book and I’ll tell you if I’ll consider continuing on with this series!

Friends with Partial Benefits
by: Luke Young

Friends with Partial Benefits

Jillian Grayson is a disillusioned divorcée and best-selling romance novelist who suddenly can’t write a chapter without her hunky male heartthrob suffering ED, an STD, or even worse. Brian Nash is a tennis-obsessed college senior who’s unlucky in love and the roommate and best friend of Jillian’s son, Rob. When Rob brings Brian home for Spring Break, and Brian meets the surprisingly young and tennis passionate Jillian, their shared interest quickly develops into an intense mutual attraction. After nearly giving in to their feelings, they hatch a plan, while under the influence (of something more than just the perfect Miami night), to be Friends With Partial Benefits, complete with rules to define the boundaries. Will the lonely pair continue with this distinctive relationship, actually explore their desires, or discover all of it is a really bad idea? – Goodreads

Friends With Partial Benefits is really not a bad way to start a series. In fact, it redeems itself quite well in finding the balance between being sexy (not erotic) and romantic. Sure, its a little hard to relate because of the age of the character and just how daring she is but a part of books, just like movies, are appealing because they lead us to a experience something exciting and differently from our own reality. Now, don’t get me wrong, there are criticisms. A few of them that drew me away from the immersion however, for the fact that finds a good balance and keeps the style pretty easy to read, if you like this genre, its not a bad read especially since its a legit length for a debut and its free which I always think is a nice and smart way to get audience.

Contemporary romances are so hard to find nowadays where our sex and manhoods are not mentioned. Don’t blame me. That is what these books like to refer to these body parts so just using the lingo to also prevent a ton of odd search terms.  However, what I am getting at is that, while attraction and emphasis on mesmerizing over “manhoods and sexes” seem quite key to having greater attraction, making it seem pretty creepy, there is a nice way of making it about building on that relationship and not hopping on for a ride right away. (Did I just write that? What have I become?) While Friends with Partial Benefits does have its attractive young guy and lovely best friend’s mom, there is still an effort to focus on the development of these relationships despite still adding in the rather fun/funny and to me, a little far-fetched circumstances. However, I do believe far-fetched ideas are acceptable because it is an imaginary story so you can let these fantastical courage happen even if its a little ridiculous. These characters are fun so that is a huge plus.My main issue with this one is really in a bit of clunky writing. The writing style sometimes feels like it doesn’t flow well into the next scene. Especially as it takes on the views of two characters (or maybe three).

I’ve commented in previous reviews of similar genres about these things but I feel that this book is also commendable as a free debut because it is a full size book that sets up the stage for the further sequels and its free to legitimately see if you like the characters to invest into the series. Its characters are pretty fleshed out and even if you don’t continue the series, its not an open ended conclusion but a point in time that can be continued with other life events for these characters. A side note that I have been appreciative of in the past year particularly. Being self-contained is very important and really showing that respecting the reader makes this one even more appealing to myself. Along with the fact that it wasn’t just a thousand sex scenes stringed together. There is an actual story building up in this one as crazy as a lot of the character decisions were.

Friends With Partial Benefits has its issues but it also does have some fun characters and scenes. There is a nice development and foundation built for these characters despite some clunky dialogue and flow problems in the writing. The passionate scenes are done well and seeks to be seductive but never into the full on sexual area. Finding that middle is hard but this one definitely is on the right track. It will be interesting to see where this goes although I have this odd feeling of watching a soap opera at times or potential for it, so for now, I’m putting this one on hold but in consideration to continue on. If this is a genre you enjoy, you might like it.

Sherlock Holmes and the Nine-Sigil Dragon by Tim Symonds

***Thanks very much to the author for reaching out to me to review his newest novel!***

Sherlock Holmes and the Nine-Sigil Dragon
By: Tim Symonds

sherlock holmes and the nine-sigil dragon

It’s the year 1906. Rumours abound that a deadly plot is hatching – not in the fog-ridden back-alleys of London’s Limehouse district or the sinister Devon moors of the Hound of the Baskervilles but in faraway Peking. Holmes’s task – discover whether such a plot exists and if so, foil it. But are the assassins targeting the young and progressive Ch’ing Emperor or his imperious aunt, the fearsome Empress Dowager Cixi? The murder of either could spark a civil war. The fate of China and the interests of Britain’s vast Empire in the Orient could be at stake. Holmes and Watson take up the mission with their customary confidence – until they find they are no longer in the familiar landscapes of Edwardian England. Instead, they tumble into the Alice In Wonderland world of the Forbidden City. – Goodreads

Sherlock Holmes is everywhere now. He has been reinterpreted for the big screen and in television, modernized to the 21st century and even so much time after still capturing the hearts of a lot of readers. It is suffice to say that Arthur Conan Doyle created a beyond iconic character and investigative team with Sherlock and Dr.Watson. I feel that I need to justify that I have ONLY read The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and none of the other stories. I just never got around to it. Especially when it also happens to be the first book review I did here and needs revision so much. To say that I know the Sherlock Holmes character well via literature is a huge stretch but I feel that most of Holmes books are rather case by case so lets just jump right in.

Tim Symonds has written a few of these Sherlock Holmes follow-up novels building his own cases. I have not read them but I do feel it incredibly coincidental that he happens to set me up with this one which is set in China back in the Empress Dowager days. Perfect setting and great use of historic characters. Empress Dowager and the emperor at the time along with her renowned and powerful eunuch and all these colorful characters in history makes for a great story. The mysteries in the Forbidden Palace however for myself was not so well concealed because I did grow up with a lot of this Chinese history material and I had suspected the who quite early in the story.

Sherlock Holmes and the Nine Sigil Dragon however does have a great writing. The more classical English is always fun to read. It is a change in pace (especially for myself) and there are much less frequently used words which may require a dictionary to grasp but the context is always on track. The writing captures what I remember Sherlock and Dr. Watson’s dynamic together. However, the pacing leaves a little to be desired. A strong start is always tricky and yet while I did enjoy the story when it picked up a few chapters in, the trip to China at the start felt a little slow. It might be the process of getting used to reading the most sophisticated writing (which is a high probability).

Going back to the characters, I feel that the need to show the interest in English and how they did speak it broken or not was a little unnecessary. The characters themselves goes without saying that we can assume who they are. Perhaps because I do speak Chinese that it became bothersome to have to read the same words in their romanized Mandarin form while also reading it with the English term. It felt a little like a Chinese lesson. However, it does come into context. Little nitpicks on my part. Also, this world is complicated. The Forbidden City and the ranks and their characters and the traditions and formalities are all depicted quite well. My suggestion to those that plan on reading this: make use of the glossary in the back because it will has a great purpose even to deeper understand what certain things mean.

In fact, even for myself, growing up outside of China, there are little details that I wasn’t aware of or just sometimes slips my mind. In those moments, when the mystery and the investigation starts going more in depth. The pieces start falling together. I always love the deciphering the case and what happens because that is when the details really come together perfectly and the author has done a great job in doing so. The mystery is fun. It uses and respects a lot of the history and the nature of these characters and the complexities behind the walls of Forbidden City and the politics of the entire situation.

Overall, Sherlock Holmes and the Nine-Sigil Dragon is a good read. It dives into Chinese history and enters into the Forbidden City, bringing to life some of the iconic historic people that actually was a big deal. The mystery itself is feasible and the writing is done very well. While, the beginning could have been paced better and there were small things in the charaterization that left a little to be desired, the story works well once it picks up and offers a great mystery to solve.

Fighting Grief (Knockout #1) by Kellie Perkins

The first book of the year usually is what I had to put down during the holidays and didn’t get a chance to wrap up until the last few days. I have some lovely books sent to me lately which I need to read next but before those this one needs to be wrapped up and I had the perfect opportunity to finish it when I was waiting for a software to download and install. Fighting Grief is a first book in a trilogy and while it costs $1.XX on Amazon right now, I did get it when it was a free book back in 2014 or something.

Let’s check it out!

Fighting Grief (Knockout #1)
by: Kellie Perkins

Fighting Grief

Keeva O’Brien has lost all desire to work for a dream that was never really hers. Keeva’s brother, Luke, was the one who wanted her to go to college, the one who wanted her to be something more than he or their parents. Luke raised her, gave up everything to be there for Keeva after their parents died. But when Luke died, Keeva could no longer see the point.  When new bartender, Nash Pierce, begins working at the same restaurant where Keeva works, she has no interest in his charm. All she wants is to forget her grief, to forget that everything that had made her world make sense died in an instant when her brother was killed while fighting for an underground MMA club. Nash is willing to help her do that. – Goodreads

Am I glad that I didn’t read the synopsis on Goodreads before I started this book? If you were to shrink this book into 3 paragraphs, that is generally the version you’d use because its not a synopsis. It highlights almost everything you need to decipher the ending which was obvious from the moment Nash enters the picture, by the way. I’m getting ahead of myself now.

Fighting Grief isn’t a bad novel aside from its painfully obvious situation of who Nash is and what happens to Keeva. In fact, it does itself justice by focusing on the romance and the healing and expanding on getting to somewhat understand the characters a little, while even trickling in with some conversations with supporting characters. All those aspects of Fighting Grief is good. I’d even say that the writing is fun and quick to read while still remembering to never dive into the erotica area and just dabble on the surface of a romance and the connection that Keeva and Nash have for each other. I do think that the writing can be polished a little more but this is the first book I’ve read of Kellie Perkins so I’m sure there is room for much improvement and probably has in the later books.

However, Fighting Grief is a very generic story about tragic loss and the ending is painfully obvious as I mentioned before. In fact, the only reason I did keep reading it unfortunately was to prove myself right or let the book prove me wrong. Plus, I’m not one to start a book and not at least give it a chance to redeem itself. There is merit here and I can see the appeal for some people but for me, it felt a little too obvious. There are coincidences and then there are “coincidences” if you know what I mean. Plus, there are moments when I didn’t really like our main character Keeva. I get that she is grieving but she seems incredibly immature for someone who has been thrown into unfortunate situation since she was young.

Overall, I feel like I already have a general idea where the next two books in the trilogy might go if it is as predictable as this one. While I do wonder how it will all play out, it isn’t quite enough for me to pick up the second book. However, if you want a quick romance read, this might fit the bill.

Never Kiss a Bad Boy by Nora Flite

Remember in the haul post yesterday when I said that I had to get a book because its original trilogy format was changed to just one book and I had to make that purchase, this is said book. It was originally called For the Thrill but now its just called Never Kiss the Bad Boy. If this was the first title I had seen, I would have passed over it but oh well, it is what it is. I don’t like feeling like I didn’t finish a book so it just had to be done.

Let’s check it out!

Never Kiss a Bad Boy
by: Nora Flite

Never Kiss a Bad Boy

Could you fall in love with a killer? How about two?When hiring a hitman, it’s important to remember two rules.
One: Pay in cash.  And two: Don’t sleep with him. –Goodreads

 I’ve reviewed a few erotica novels here this past year. Its definitely a whole different ball park. Before this year, the only erotica I had read was Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy and I think it was before I wrote book reviews here. Suffice to say that erotica is a tricky genre to appreciate. I feel that everyone has a different idea of what they are looking for when they read adult fiction. If you have read some of my previous reviews, I haven’t been particularly happy with them because most of the time, the female character is somewhat unfairly portrayed, making it lack somewhat of the realistic feeling of what I’d like to see. As I mentioned before, I started Never Kiss a Bad Boy when I was reading For The Thrill which is the first book of the trilogy it was before it was put together into one book. While I appreciate the move, I actually had more fun reading For the Thrill in itself than finishing up the entire book. The story took somewhat of a predictable turn by the end but to be fair, I did really enjoy the characters and the fact that it used all three main characters to narrate different chapters so there was a good grasp of who these people were and gave them time to charm the reader and like them even in the most odd way of having this three way relationship. The only complaint I did have with this one is that the incredibly well constructed and extremely steamy sex scenes overpowered the story beneath of finding a killer and seeking revenge which with a better balance would have made this book have much more substance. Don’t get me wrong though. I love steamy sex scenes that don’t make me cringe because they are so fun to read and this one has a ton of them. I just also was intrigued by the story behind it that could have been built a little more if it was for a sex scene every other chapter.

With that said, I need to talk about our characters. The “bad boy” here are actually “bad boys” because it features two ex-hit men who just finished their last job: the calm and calculated Jacob and very social butterfly Kite. Together they make a great team. In fact, they even have a blood brother bond which leads into their last job attracting the attention of Marina who was tracking down the man they killed to find the lead of who murdered her family when she was a little girl. Because of that, she went on a hunt for these hit men to help her. They agree after some manipulation but to their surprise, they start falling for each other. Marina is a tough girl and very focused. Her life is restricted and lonesome (much like Jacob and Kite) because she is haunted by her past and wants to have the revenge in order to hopefully let it go even if it means that she’ll die. She’s extreme that way, but as we learn more about her, you can’t really blame her. Somehow, Marina, Jacob and Kite form a connection. Well, its hard to resist to hot men but Jacob and Kite are portrayed as something more, whether its their mysterious personality or their story, it pulls them all closer together and because of the blood brother bond, Jacob and Kite finally decide that they only way they can be with Marina is having her together and of course she agrees and from there, the story keeps going. Expect lots of threesome steamy sex scenes in this one. The fun part of this book though is that the characters do act a little different from what we’d expect and that gives them a fun element and something to think about because each of them are changing because of meeting the other, whether its Jacob or Kite changing because of Marina or Marina changing because of them. There’s always a question whether there is a bigger hidden agenda that might twist the story around.

Overall, Never Kiss a Bad Boy has a lot of great moments and a pretty nice story and well-built characters. The sex scenes are fun and steamy, but never cringe-worthy (which is actually quite rare) because it builds on the character’s chemistry. While the erotica is done well, the story that drew these characters together gets lost in the romantic story which is a shame because it would have been nice to see a little more of it and explore a little more of what Marina could have achieved in this mix. For what it is, Never Kiss a Bad Boy is pretty good.