Jan 16, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish Resolutions/Goals!

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Artsy Reader Girl in which we create bookish lists about everything from our favorite characters to love triangles and everything in between!
This Week's Topic: Bookish Resolutions/Goals!

A new year means it's time to set some new goals for ourselves, and today's post is no exception! Here, we're going to be sharing our top ten goals in terms of reading and blogging for 2018.

10. Finishing editing the first draft of my manuscript. No explanation needed here. I just need to pick up the pen and get slashing!

9. Visit my local library again. Being away at college means that I can't take out books from the library (and our college library is only filled with research books, no fiction), so most of what I'm reading is either self-bought or sent to me by publishers. While these books are still awesome, I'd love to go back to being at my library 2-3 times a week over the summer and when I'm home, because taking out books from there was always one of my favorite pastimes, and I've grown to miss it.

8. Read some more NA books. I will always be a huge and undyingly loyal fan of YA Lit, but I've read some NA books from time to time that I've really enjoyed so I'd like to also really explore that more!

7. Expand my genre-reading a little bit. Anyone that knows me knows that I'm a huge fan of contemporary romance and I don't branch out much beyond the contemporary setting, so I'd like to try to pick up some books outside of that genre this year and hopefully enjoy them!

6. Create some sort of 2018 blogging award. This has been on our mind here at The Book Bratz for awhile, but we'd really like to host some sort of blogger award here where everyone can nominate some of their favorite bloggers for all sorts of categories, as a fun little way to give back and say thank you and show some appreciation for members of the blogging community. Comment down below to share your thoughts on the idea -- we're still feeling it out!

5. Host more giveaways on the blog. We may be broke but that doesn't mean we don't want to treat you guys every now and then!

4. Read more 2018 debut authors! I feel like I blame everything on college, but it really is the reason that I haven't been as up-to-date with debut authors as I should be, and I want to make up for that this year.

3. Finally unclog my list of backlisted books. There are so many books from 2017 and prior that I have on my TBR that I never got around to reading because I was always reading upcoming/2018 releases for the blog, so one of my goals is to finally sit down and read all of those.

2. Complete my Goodreads goal of 60 books! I used to be able to read 100+ books in a year back in high school, but college has made that a pretty big challenge. This past year I managed to read 57 books, so I upped my goal to 60 this year and will make it higher if it proves to be a bit too easy -- but here's to hoping I reach it!

1. Get better on commenting back on other blogs. Life is just so busy that we sometimes don't have the time, but I'd really like to make a greater effort to read the bookish posts/reviews of you guys more! ReadWriteLove28's #Commenting365 Challenge is also proving to be super helpful with this!

So these are my top ten bookish goals for 2018 -- what are yours? Leave a comment down below and let me know, and best of luck on achieving them! You can do this!

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Jan 14, 2018

Review: The Temptation of Adam by Dave Connis

Title: The Temptation of Adam
Author: Dave Connis
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Rating: 3/5 Stars
Hardcover, 224 Pages
Published November 2017

Summary: Adam Hawthorne is fine. Yeah, his mother left, his older sister went with her, and his dad would rather read Nicholas Sparks novels than talk to him. And yeah, he spends his nights watching self-curated porn video playlists. But Adam is fine. When a family friend discovers Adam’s porn addiction, he’s forced to join an addiction support group: the self-proclaimed Knights of Vice. He goes because he has to, but the honesty of the Knights starts to slip past his defenses. Combine that with his sister’s out-of-the-blue return and the attention of a girl he meets in an AA meeting, and all the work Adam has put into being fine begins to unravel. Now Adam has to face the causes and effects of his addiction, before he loses his new friends, his prodigal sister, and his almost semi-sort-of girlfriend.

I received a copy of this book from Dave Connis's agent, Eric Smith, who is perhaps one of the best literary agents in the book/blogging community right now, and he is SO incredibly generous to bloggers all of of the time, and it's thanks to him that I get to read so many exciting, incredible books! Of course, The Temptation of Adam is no different. So without further ado, let's get into the review!

So as the summary explains, Adam is a teenage boy with a porn addiction. To make matters worse, he does something apparently so horrible that he finds himself almost expelled from school. So, as a method of coping (and not getting expelled), Adam finds himself at a support group called the Knights of Vice, talking through his problems and addictions with peers that have some problems of their own. The only issue? Adam isn't willing to admit that he has a problem. On top of that, he's struggling to accept the divorce of his parents and the disappearance of his sister. So, needless to say, his life is pretty difficult. But then Adam finds himself bonding with people he never expected to and uncovering secrets about one old man that he thought he had so figured out, and these discoveries lead them on a journey with both adventure and tragedy in the hopes of finding what they are searching for.

My favorite part about this book was definitely the Knights of Vice. They were such a unique group that all had so many different issues, and I feel like Connis made it very realistic to have some people openly acknowledging their flaws while some were more reserved and in denial. I feel like creating a support group where everyone just immediately opens up and admits their flaws isn't entirely realistic, and Connis seems to be aware of that, based on how he created the Knights of Vice with all of their differing personalities and attitudes. 

As for my favorite character in the book, Addy was the one that I constantly found myself relating to, laughing with, and just generally enjoying the most. She was such a good big sister to Adam even when he could be downright rotten to her, and seeing the strength of their bond among all of the other tragedies going on in his life was, to be totally stereotypical here, a shining beacon of hope. That was definitely a relationship in the book that I really enjoyed seeing.

However, there were just a few things about this book that I wasn't super keen on. One was more of a picky issue than anything else, but there were a lot of obvious typos in this book. It just took me out of the story a lot and was a bit distracting. For example, there was one line in the book that said "What are you up too?" and I did a double-take because it caught my eye almost immediately. I totally understand typos appearing in ARCs because those are unfinished copies, but this is a finished copy of the book with at least 7-8 obvious, eye-catching typos that distracted me a bit from the narrative. But like I said, that's more of a pickiness issue than anything else.

The character in this book that I absolutely could not stand at all was Dez, from the start of the book to the end, and it made some aspects of this book really frustrating for me. She was so hot and cold, which you find out makes a lot more sense in the end, but just as a person I didn't like her very much. (Minor spoilers here, please skip to the next paragraph if you haven't read the book yet!) Adam eventually comes forward and confronts her about a lot of the stuff that frustrates me in the end, but she still doesn't seem to change much. Their entire relationship seemed weird from the start, clicking and beginning almost immediately from the minute he sees her at the diner. It just felt a bit forced to me. And then throughout the rest of the book she is always switching between emotions and saying she loves Adam and then saying they can't ever be together and things just seem to always be her way or the highway and... *sigh* it just got really frustrating, and I don't know what Connis's intention was with the reader liking or disliking Dez, but I really disliked her a lot.

The other complaints I had about this book were pretty minor but still frustrating nonetheless. For starters, I know that Adam had a serious issue that he needed to face, but sometimes the way he talked (or thought internally) about women just made me feel a bit...weird, I guess? I really wasn't a fan of that. And other than that, I feel like the issue that led Adam to being suspended wasn't revealed to us until very late in the book, definitely past the middle point. So as a reader it was frustrating to have the event alluded to without any context so many times throughout the book and being kept totally in the dark for so long. Did he kill someone? Sexually assault them? Cheat on a test? I had absolutely no idea what Adam could've done (especially since he made it so clear so many times that it wasn't related to porn) to land him in so much trouble to be suspended for such a long time, and after awhile it got a bit frustrating not to know.

However, even though I wasn't a big fan of this book, I still enjoyed reading it and I liked it. It took me through the story of an addict struggling to admit his problem while also dealing with other drama and breakdowns in his everyday life. The writing style as a whole was good, and I was interested in the book to the point that I managed to read 200+ pages in one day, so that's always a good sign! And like I always say, just because a book isn't totally my cup of tea doesn't mean it can't be yours. :)

Overall, The Temptation of Adam is a book that takes you on a roller coaster of emotion and I enjoyed reading it. If you're looking for some humor, adventure, and even a little bit of mystery and the fighting of vice, this is the book for you!

Jan 13, 2018

Guest Review: The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

Title: The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue
Author: Mackenzi Lee
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Hardcover, 513 Pages
Published June 2017

Summary: Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men. But as Monty embarks on his Grand Tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy. Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.

Today on the blog we have a guest review from Ashleigh over at For The Love of Books! She was kind enough to stop by and review Gentleman's Guide and share her thoughts on it, and we couldn't be more excited to have her here as one of our first guest reviews ever! So without further ado, let's get into it!

OH MY WORD, MY HEART! This book has literally stolen my heart and I’m not even being melodramatic. I have so many things I could say about this book that I could be here writing this all day. I actually finished this book in the middle of October, but I haven’t posted a review yet as I don’t think my review would ever do justice to how good this book actually is.
In other words, I abso-bloody-lutely loved it (you’ll know this reference if you’ve already read it). I genuinely haven’t enjoyed a book as much as The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue (GGTVAV) in years. Before I started listening to this audiobook, I was stuck in a major reading slump. It’s ignited my love for reading again, which I am so happy about.
I hadn’t heard of this book until I began blogging. It was our first Great Bloggers Book of the Month (you can find a link to our Twitter Page here: ), so I thought I’d give it a go. Once I read the synopses I knew it would be a book that was right up my street. I signed up for audible and decided it would be the first book I’d purchase, and I’m so glad I did.
Not only was the book brilliant, but I don’t think a better person could have been chosen to narrate it on Audible. If you’re not familiar with the audiobook version, the person who narrates it is Christian Coulson. I recognised his voice straight away, but couldn’t pin point where I’d heard it before. I then did a bit of research and realised that he plays Tom Riddle in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
This didn’t distract me from the book however. His voice acting was brilliant and he gave each character a completely different, distinctive voice which was so helpful.
Before listening to GGTVAV, I hadn’t listened to an audiobook for years as I thought that the voice differentiation would be non existent and the book would be difficult to follow because of this, but that wasn’t the case at all. The only negative thing I would say about the audiobook is that Coulson was fairly good at doing the different European accents, but if I’m being brutally honest his accents did slip at times.
The other gripe I have with listening to an audiobook is not having any control over how quickly/slowly the book is read. If I was reading the novel myself I probably would have finished it at a quicker speed, but it was nice that it didn’t feel rushed.
I started to listen to GGTVAV when I was on the bus and after only a couple of minutes, I was howling with laughter. It got to the point where I had a few funny looks thrown my way because of it too. I thought that Mackenzi’s use of humour throughout book was brilliant.
The book as a whole was everything I wanted it be and more. It made me happy, sad, shocked, angry, tearful – basically all of the emotions. I absolutely loved the three main characters, Monty, Percy and Felicity. I think that Felicity is my new favourite name, it’s so pretty. I thoroughly enjoyed following them on their adventure and tour around Europe.
I will be honest and say that Monty did frustrate me a lot, especially with some of the things he said AND didn’t say for that matter! Sometimes his actions were so reckless I wanted to just take him by the shoulders, softly shake him and say what are you doing?! But, even though he’s a seemingly arrogant, self obsessed character, deep down he’s so endearing and kind. I loved watching his character blossom into his true feelings and shape his identity. I also loved how Percy’s quiet and reserved personality complimented Monty’s perfectly.
Not only is this a great book of adventure and love, it also integrates important topics into the plot, such as racism, sexism, feminism, sexuality and illness. Including these sensitive topics was a bold move by Mackenzi, but she tackles them brilliantly in my opinion. It’s great that she included a bisexual character too. As this is a popular book it’s great to see Bi-visibility being explored and celebrated – yay! 
The only thing I would say about GGTVAV that I had a slight gripe with was the language used. Sometimes it did feel slightly overwritten and melodramatic. BUT, this is perfectly in keeping with Monty’s character and if the language was less fluffy. I don’t think I would have enjoyed the book as much. You really get a sense of Monty’s character from it.
I think Mackenzi Lee is an absolutely brilliant writer, who has taken the time to study the genre and the historical period in which she writes about thoroughly. Although I cannot comment on the written grammar, punctuation and spelling as I have an audiobook, it sounded pretty spot on to me!

Final thoughts: So. How can my review of GGTVAV do it justice? Well, it simply can’t in my opinion. I can’t explain how much I genuinely loved this book. It was a book I didn’t realise I needed until it was over. I would read a whole series based on these characters, and I can’t wait to read the book about Felicity when it’s released.
Mackenzi Lee has quickly become one of my favourite authors and GGTVAV is definitely the best book I’ve read in the past 5 years, maybe longer. Bold statement I know – but it’s true. It pulled me out of my post-uni reading slump, which lasted for over a year, and has sparked my true love for reading again, which I’m so grateful for.
I would definitely recommend this book to readers, especially if you enjoy YA books. I loved the representation of LGBTQIA+ characters and how important topics that are still a problem in today’s society are reflected in this book.
If you get the chance to listen to the audio version of this book I would strongly suggest it!

Fancast: If this book ever gets made into a film, I think that Sam Claflin would make a perfect Monty. I don’t know why, but it was him who I imagined as Percy while listening to the book!

We'd like to once again thank Ashleigh for stopping by The Book Bratz today to post this guest review. You can read the original review over on her blog by clicking HERE!

** Psst! Interested in guest reviewing on The Book Bratz? Shoot us an email at thebookbratz@gmail.com or DM us on Twitter (@thebookbratz) and we'd love to have you!