Book Review

Book Review: The Stars We Steal by Alexa Donne

Rating: ☆☆☆
Audience: YA Sci-Fi / Romance / Retelling
Length: 400 pages
Author: Alexa Donne
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Release Date: February 4th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Engagement season is in the air. Eighteen-year-old Princess Leonie “Leo” Kolburg, heir to a faded European spaceship, only has one thing on her mind: which lucky bachelor can save her family from financial ruin?

But when Leo’s childhood friend and first love Elliot returns as the captain of a successful whiskey ship, everything changes. Elliot was the one that got away, the boy Leo’s family deemed to be unsuitable for marriage. Now, he’s the biggest catch of the season and he seems determined to make Leo’s life miserable. But old habits die hard, and as Leo navigates the glittering balls of the Valg Season, she finds herself falling for her first love in a game of love, lies, and past regrets.

NOT WHAT I EXPECTED.

Wow, I was disappointed with this read. It wasn’t the romantic bachelor-esque sci-fi book set in space. It was hardly a romance, and mostly teenagers sitting around talking about their problems while they go on dates. I think this actually needed more romance and less of Leo constantly denying even the smallest interactions.

*sigh*

I liked the main character, Leo. She was stubborn and caring, with a dash of ingenuity. I wish she would have stood up for herself a bit more, but I could at least keep reading this book because I enjoyed her voice.

There was definitely a lot of angst between Leo and Elliot. Not as flirtatious / lovers to enemies to lovers angst as I was hoping. You could feel the connection and chemistry they had though. I liked their interactions and wish they had more quiet romantic moments together! The last few in the closing scenes were tender and sweet and I wanted mooooore.

Side characters were a bit all of the place. I liked the vast majority of them and what they brought to the story. Good friends, siblings, and companions throughout. I could do without Leo’s awful Dad though. Why is there always a parent forcing a teen to marry? You’re the one who messed up? I don’t know, maybe I think this has been over-played one too many times (in YA novels).

The setting was awesome. I loved the idea of all of these people from Earth living in different ships and still following the same kind of dystopian setting of their cultures. If there were even more ships we could have visited and seen it would have been even better. I liked learning the intricacies of each ship, captain, and function as a whole.

At the end there was actually some drama and things happening. I liked that everyone got a happy ending and pieces of the story were wrapped up well for a standalone.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult sci-fi / romance
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: kisses; hints of overnight, but very glossed over with no detail
  • Violence: near drowning

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Book Review

Book Review: Neighbors Like That (A Love Like This #1) by Carina Taylor

Rating: ☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: Contemporary romance
Length: 263 pages
Author: Carina Taylor
Publisher: Self-published
Release Date: December 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

KYLIE

He started our war–I intend to finish it.

Buying a house in the suburbs was supposed to be low stress—my own little haven to decorate and landscape exactly how I want. Instead, I find myself locking my garbage can to keep pests out–pests that are six-foot-one, green-eyed, and far too good-looking.
My trespassing neighbor is rude and entitled. It isn’t long before war is declared, and I find myself stooping to immature pranks.
When trouble lands at my door, my unlikely neighbor starts knocking on my heart. Am I ready to answer?

HAGEN

I will win no matter what it takes.

I moved to this neighborhood for a fresh start. The one thing I’m not looking for is a relationship. So, when I mistakenly assume my neighbor is hitting on me, I lash out at her.
I didn’t mean to start the war, but now she taunts me from across the street. Our harmless pranks have become the highlight of my day. I should stay away–but I can’t. I want to spend more time with her.
When a stalker begins sending Kylie a series of notes, I’m only too willing to help protect her.
Maybe I’m looking for a relationship, after all.

FAIRLY CHARMING.

I decided to give Carina Taylor books another chance, after being disappointed with Christmas Like This, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to read another in this series. Neighbors Like That had some pretty good praise, and here we are! I honestly enjoyed this and it was a super quick read (under 300 pages).

I liked the chemistry between Kylie and Hagen. It was a very literal interpretation of enemies to lovers. A pranking war starts between the two and some hilarity ensues. Creativity was running high as things heated between them. It offered some great banter, close encounters and laughter.

One thing that didn’t quite add up was the attempted kidnapping sub-plot. It felt unnecessarily added to heighten the *drama* of the whole book, but it could have been left out and I would have been happy without it. Hagen had his own backstory and personal issues to deal with and those flowed much better into the story line.

I enjoyed the side characters and how much I could see those types of friends in my own life. They were fun, way too into everyone’s personal lives (but in a charming way) and I thought they were a great addition to Kylie and Hagen’s happenings.

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary romance
  • Language: none
  • Romance: kisses
  • Violence: physical
  • Trigger warnings: attempted kidnapping (with someone being held at gunpoint)

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Book Review

Book Review: More Than We Can Tell (Letters to the Lost #2) by Brigid Kemmerer

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult contemporary romance
Length: 410 pages
Author: Brigid Kemmerer
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Release Date: March 6th, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Rev Fletcher is battling the demons of his past. But with loving adoptive parents by his side, he’s managed to keep them at bay…until he gets a letter from his abusive father and the trauma of his childhood comes hurtling back.

Emma Blue spends her time perfecting the computer game she built from scratch, rather than facing her parents’ crumbling marriage. She can solve any problem with the right code, but when an online troll’s harassment escalates, she’s truly afraid.

When Rev and Emma meet, they both long to lift the burden of their secrets and bond instantly over their shared turmoil. But when their situations turn dangerous, their trust in each other will be tested in ways they never expected. This must-read story will once again have readers falling for Brigid Kemmerer’s emotional storytelling.

FEEL LIKE I’VE BEEN GUT PUNCHED.

This was one of those books where you ask yourself, why did I let it sing for so long on my shelves? I adored it. Even when it hurt my soul.

I loooove Rev and Emma together. They were adorable and so very sweet. Everything was slow and a high school romance that made sense for the story line (which always makes a book ten times better). I like how even when conflict arose there was still a chance for apologies and forgiveness. This all just felt real.

Emma struggled in this book. I went from liking her, to being annoyed, and back and forth. While everything was dramatized, I also could feel how this was a high school girl going through an awful situation (that I’ve dealt with too). So I really couldn’t fault her for her actions, because I also got to see Emma grow and evolve as the book progressed. She wasn’t a perfect character, which made her a great character.

Rev had my heart and soul. I wanted to follow him around and hug him. He needs all the hugs. I loved watching him grow over this book too. He and Emma had great arcs as they grappled with what was before them. Heavy on the drama, yet very easy to be involved and loving the drama.

This book read quickly. I finished this a lot faster than I thought [which was totally fine with me]. The story flowed up and down with a bit of action and quiet moments. I thought the ending wrapped up nicely and I really enjoyed getting to see Declan again.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult contemporary romance
  • Language: a little strong and vulgar
  • Romance: kisses
  • Violence: physical
  • Trigger warnings: cyber bullying, extreme child abuse, PTSD, sexual abuse, attempted kidnapping

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Book Review

Book Review: A Voice in the Wind (Mark of the Lion #1) by Francine Rivers

Rating: ☆☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: Christian Historical fiction / Romance
Length: 544 pages
Author: Francine Rivers
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
Release Date: March 1st, 1993
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

The first book in the bestselling Mark of the Lion series, A Voice in the Wind brings readers back to the first century and introduces them to a character they will never forget—Hadassah. Torn by her love for a handsome aristocrat, this young slave girl clings to her faith in the living God for deliverance from the forces of decadent Rome.

WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO WITH THAT ENDING.

I’ve read some cliffhanger books in my day (looking at you Shadowhunters). I’m generally used to it, can keep my cool. NOT THIS TIME. I sat there gasping and closing my eyes (listening to this as an audio book) with my spouse staring strangely at me wondering what my problem was. TRUST ME, there’s a big problem.

I digress, we’ll move on. Just know, there’s a big cliffhanger at the end.

Anywho, this book started off a bit slow for me. There’s a lot of world building and character structure that goes into setting the scene for the craziness that was Ancient Rome. I love that this Christian historical fiction was set in this time period because it did add to the uniqueness of the category. It’s not often to see so many gladiator battles in this genre.

As I settled into the book I became really involved with quite a few characters lives. Especially Marcus and Hadassah. How could you not?! Watching this doomed relationship even attempt to break soil was tearing at my heart. I felt a lot of the emotions right along side of the characters as they made their destructive choices. Speaking of destructive, I CANNOT EVEN with Julia. How I loathed her so much and it made me like the book more because of my strong emotions. Her awfulness would blow my mind and I think she needs to stay faaaar away. Going back to characters I enjoy, Atretes is now my favorite gladiator. I loved watching how his inner turmoil and struggles affected him. He is a strong and bold man looking for a light at the end of the tunnel that he can’t see, yet.

This story was filled with an intense amount of happenings. Occasionally, I did find it a bit preachy. At other times, I felt like it sang to my soul. There’s a good mix of biblical scriptures and the roughness that was Rome. The writing slowly pulls you in to where you can’t look away as the pages keep flying past. I’m anxiously awaiting reading the next book!

Overall audience notes:

  • Christian Historical fiction / Romance
  • Language: some derogatory and vulgar
  • Romance: kisses/make-outs; mentions of sleeping together and hints at knowing about many partners, etc. but no actual detailed scenes
  • Violence: gladiator battles, starvation, physical beatings, poison, murder, see Trigger warnings
  • Trigger warnings: slavery, extreme starvation, abortion (described in detail), domestic abuse, eating disorder, murder, abandoning a newborn

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