Book Review

Book Review: Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi

Rating: ☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult contemporary romance
Length: 394 pages
Author: Mary H.K. Choi
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Release Date: March 27th, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

For Penny Lee high school was a total nonevent. Her friends were okay, her grades were fine, and while she somehow managed to land a boyfriend, he doesn’t actually know anything about her. When Penny heads to college in Austin, Texas, to learn how to become a writer, it’s seventy-nine miles and a zillion light years away from everything she can’t wait to leave behind.

Sam’s stuck. Literally, figuratively, emotionally, financially. He works at a café and sleeps there too, on a mattress on the floor of an empty storage room upstairs. He knows that this is the god-awful chapter of his life that will serve as inspiration for when he’s a famous movie director but right this second the seventeen bucks in his checking account and his dying laptop are really testing him.

When Sam and Penny cross paths it’s less meet-cute and more a collision of unbearable awkwardness. Still, they swap numbers and stay in touch—via text—and soon become digitally inseparable, sharing their deepest anxieties and secret dreams without the humiliating weirdness of having to see each other.

DIDN’T JIVE WITH THE WRITING.

That would be my biggest issue. Nothing clicked quite the way I think it was supposed to. I kept reading because I was [mostly] enjoying the story, but things never changed. I thought things would randomly get political or twists would be thrown in that I didn’t think were necessary or helpful to the plot as a whole.

I did enjoy the interactions between Penny and Sam. I thought they were sweet and I love the modern era love story of getting to know each other through texts/phone calls. It was clever that she became his emergency contact. The college age setting was nice too. I wish there were more YA/New adult books set in college. This isn’t a slow-burn romance in anyway though. Mostly infatuation that turns into love all of a sudden.

This book seemed overly dramatic at times. Like it was trying to see how awful things could get before a resolution kind of came about. I don’t mind this usually in books because I understand the flow of the story. This came out a bit jarring and I was upset with how broken these characters were written out. Maybe I thought this was going to have a bit more sunshine.

I also felt like NOTHING HAPPENED. There was some focus on Sam’s documentary and on Penny’s writing class, but I never got to see the end of them? It was annoying to have a bunch of loose threads. I know it wasn’t the main part of the story, but it was definitely discussed more than enough to have needed things tied up.

Having someone as a friend, in whatever capacity that may be, was a great concept for this book though. We all need someone to lean on and I loved seeing Penny and Sam turn towards each other in their times of need.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult contemporary (college age)
  • Language: some throughout
  • Romance: kisses
  • Trigger warnings: alcoholism, page 290 – a moderately detailed rape scene (main character telling her story)

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Book Review

Book Review: The Fallen Kingdom (The Falconer #3) by Elizabeth May

Rating: ☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: YA Fantasy / Sci-fi / Historical fiction
Length: 389 pages
Author: Elizabeth May
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Release Date: June 13th, 2017
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

She’s on borrowed time…and she has only one chance to set things right.

Find life.

Deep in a forest, Aileana Kameron claws her way out of the earth. Back from the dead with no memory of who she is or what has happened to her, the Falconer now possesses even greater otherworldly powers and a ruthless instinct to kill—and the one piece of knowledge that can change everything.

Find Kiaran.

Two fae monarchs, Aithinne and Kadamach, stand on the brink of war, and according to an ancient curse, one must die at the hand of the other or all the worlds will perish. Once, Kadamach was known as Kiaran, and he was mentor, protector, and lover to Aileana. Now, under the grip of the curse, his better nature seems lost forever.

Find the book.

Aileana’s only hope lies in the legendary Book of Remembrance, a book of spells so powerful that it can break the fae curse and even turn back time. But the book has been lost for centuries, and many are looking for it, including its creator, the Morrigan—a faery of terrifying malevolence and cruelty.

Sacrifice everything.

To obtain the book and defeat the Morrigan, Aileana must form an unthinkable alliance, one that challenges every vow she has made to herself—even as the powers that brought her to life are slowly but surely killing her.

LET ME DOWN.

I decided to give this last book a chance to see if the finale would make me satisfied with the series as a whole. I did start off enjoying it and I’m glad there was a happy ending, but the way we got there made me roll my eyes.

Why? THE ORB OF RESURRECTION. My favorite phrase of use when somehow nobody dies because everyone is constantly being brought back to life. That was the entire concept?! Everything put back to the way it was, and I just. UGH. It’s okay to leave things as is. I feel like I wasted time reading these three books to have this type of ending.

Everything started out strong and I was into it. I liked the action and inner dialogue of Aielana coping with the hand she’s been dealt. It was time to finish things and finish them she did.

I did looove the romance between Aielana and Kiaran though. I found it sweet and endearing. There were actual feelings and communication. I liked the bond between them and the hope and courage they gave each other through the tougher moments.

This series took me on a lot of ups and downs and I still wish the ending had come about a bit differently. I loved the fae aspects and the historical fiction vibes. They’re quick reads with good intrigue.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy
  • Language: some
  • Romance: kisses, a few fade to black scenes
  • Violence: battles, swords, physical

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Book Review

Book Review: 10 Blind Dates by Ashley Elston

Rating: ☆☆☆☆  
Audience: Young adult contemporary romance
Length: 336 pages
Author: Ashley Elston
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Release Date: October 1st, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Sophie wants one thing for Christmas-a little freedom from her overprotective parents. So when they decide to spend Christmas in South Louisiana with her very pregnant older sister, Sophie is looking forward to some much needed private (read: make-out) time with her long-term boyfriend, Griffin. Except it turns out that Griffin wants a little freedom from their relationship. Cue devastation.

Heartbroken, Sophie flees to her grandparents’ house, where the rest of her boisterous extended family is gathered for the holiday. That’s when her nonna devises a (not so) brilliant plan: Over the next ten days, Sophie will be set up on ten different blind dates by different family members. Like her sweet cousin Sara, who sets her up with a hot guy at an exclusive underground party. Or her crazy aunt Patrice, who signs Sophie up for a lead role in a living nativity. With a boy who barely reaches her shoulder. And a screaming baby.

When Griffin turns up unexpectedly and begs for a second chance, Sophie feels more confused than ever. Because maybe, just maybe, she’s started to have feelings for someone else . . . Someone who is definitely not available.

This is going to be the worst Christmas break ever… or is it?

DEFINITELY CUTE.

Oh man. Well this was just precious.

I finally had a chance to read this book and I’m so glad I got to! It is the perfect little pick me up type of read when you need something light and fluffy.

The whole dating concept was a bit crazy, totally unwarranted, and the best part of this book. I love how the author was able to create unique dates each time and had unexpected things happen that would make me eyes widen. It took the whole idea of me worrying this would be stagnant away because each date brought another layer to the novel itself.

Sophie’s family ran me ragged sometimes, yet after talking to someone who had a family exactly like this, it made appreciate the scope of it all and the differences all of our families have. They were loud, in everybody’s privacy and quiet moments and they made me laugh and shake my fists in the air. I love that this book wasn’t only about dating, but also about reconnecting with family and enjoying the moments together too.

I really appreciated that the real romance came from someone Sophie genuinely knew and not a full stranger. It was heartfelt and those quiet moments between them made me shout at the book to KISS ALREADY.

This definitely has all of the Christmas vibes. I think I would have loved it even more if I had the chance to read it during the actual holiday season. I definitely recommend adding this to your Christmas TBR.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult contemporary romance
  • Language: a little
  • Romance: some kisses
  • Trigger warning: pre-mature birth

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Book Review

Book Review: The Winner's Kiss (The Winner's Trilogy #3) by Marie Rutkoski

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Fantasy Romance
Length: 484 pages
Author: Marie Rutkoski
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Release Date: March 29th, 2016
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Some kisses come at a price.

War has begun. Arin is in the thick of it with untrustworthy new allies and the empire as his enemy. Though he has convinced himself that he no longer loves Kestrel, Arin hasn’t forgotten her, or how she became exactly the kind of person he has always despised. She cared more for the empire than she did for the lives of innocent people—and certainly more than she did for him.

At least, that’s what he thinks.

In the frozen north, Kestrel is a prisoner in a brutal work camp. As she searches desperately for a way to escape, she wishes Arin could know what she sacrificed for him. She wishes she could make the empire pay for what they’ve done to her.

But no one gets what they want just by wishing.

As the war intensifies, both Kestrel and Arin discover that the world is changing. The East is pitted against the West, and they are caught in between. With so much to lose, can anybody really win?

STILL AMAZING.

This book doesn’t get old.

Nope. After my second read through I will read this series again, I just know it. I love it so.

This is one of those books where I find myself shouting at characters: KISS ALREADY. When it has been held off for 2+ books at this point and you know the love is there and all you need is that last sealing kiss. I get so giddy whenever this happens. AT LAST KESTREL AND ARIN. AT LAST.

The action is full speed ahead in this one y’all. The entire book is basically at the front of a battle and it will keep you busy. My heart would freak out every time I was concerned if someone was actually about to die. Luckily, what needs to happen does and the necessary actions are taken. I love the way the war scenes are written because Rutkoski expertly moves between Arin and Kestrel’s POV as they both show us the sides of battle. I feel like I get the entire scene and their emotions in a perfect combination.

The Winner’s Kiss also has one of the best ways for a villain to go down in any books I’ve read. Kestrel’s mastermind self takes down the Emperor is such a satisfying way. It really brings the entire series together because of the way it has woven throughout all three books. There’s a connection, a point, an actual ending to what’s happening.

Kestrel and Arin are one of my favorite OTP’s and this series needs way more recognition and love (even if it’s older). Definitely one of my favorite YA Fantasy series ever.

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Fantasy Romance
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: kisses, very little detail fade to black scene
  • Violence: war, poison, swords, guns; a bit violent with a lot of battle scenes (full scale warfare)
  • Trigger warnings: drug withdrawal causing memory loss

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Book Review

Book Review: P.S. I Like You by Kasie West

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Contemporary Romance
Length: 330 pages
Author: Kasie West
Publisher: Point
Expected Release Date: July 26th, 2016
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Signed, sealed, delivered…

While spacing out in chemistry class, Lily scribbles some of her favorite song lyrics onto her desk. The next day, she finds that someone has continued the lyrics on the desk and added a message to her. Intrigue!

Soon, Lily and her anonymous pen pal are exchanging full-on letters—sharing secrets, recommending bands, and opening up to each other. Lily realizes she’s kind of falling for this letter writer. Only, who is he? As Lily attempts to unravel the mystery and juggle school, friends, crushes, and her crazy family, she discovers that matters of the heart can’t always be spelled out.

WELL THIS WAS JUST THE FLUFFIEST BOOK.

This became a late night binge read when I was ignoring another book I wasn’t as into. And y’all. I LOVED IT. It totally took me by surprise and made my heart smile.

I love that this had mysterious notes passed in class without knowing who was who. I think it adds such a sweet flair to it all. Writing out your true thoughts and getting to know someone through letter writing. WHAT HAPPENED TO WRITING NOTES. Oh man, I miss those days. Texting has sped everything up.

These characters are in high school, so at times they do seem a bit naive. This never stuck out so much to ruin this book in anyway though. I love that there was some growth and maturity that came by the end. Lily and Cade both had their own personal conflicts that there were able to come together and form solutions.

Cade was so cute. Just, so cute. Lily’s perceived interpretation of him was entirely off and I appreciate her actually being open to getting to know him on a different level and seeing past his walls. The same goes for Cade. He took the time to show and prove to Lily he wasn’t the guy she thought. THEY WERE SO ADORABLE. I’m just happy to be here at this point because this book was all smiles.

I don’t really have a long review to continue with because there’s not much more to say. I thought it was precious and light-hearted. Made me smile and stoked to read some more Kasie West books. I’m happy that I took a second chance on her books because I knew there was one I would connect with and love.

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Contemporary Romance
  • Language: none
  • Romance: some kisses

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Book Review

Book Review: A Heart So Fierce and Broken (Cursebreakers #2) by Brigid Kemmerer

Rating: ☆☆☆
Audience: YA Fantasy
Length: 450 pages
Author: Brigid Kemmerer
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Release Date: January 7th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Find the heir, win the crown.

The curse is finally broken, but Prince Rhen of Emberfall faces darker troubles still. Rumors circulate that he is not the true heir and that forbidden magic has been unleashed in Emberfall. Although Rhen has Harper by his side, his guardsman Grey is missing, leaving more questions than answers.

Win the crown, save the kingdom.

Rumored to be the heir, Grey has been on the run since he destroyed Lilith. He has no desire to challenge Rhen–until Karis Luran once again threatens to take Emberfall by force. Her own daughter Lia Mara sees the flaws in her mother’s violent plan, but can she convince Grey to stand against Rhen, even for the good of Emberfall?

The heart-pounding, compulsively readable saga continues as loyalties are tested and new love blooms in a kingdom on the brink of war.

In the sequel to New York Times bestselling A Curse So Dark and Lonely, Brigid Kemmerer returns to the world of Emberfall in a lush fantasy where friends become foes and love blooms in the darkest of places.

LEFT WANTING.

Well, I made it through this one. And about the only time I really started to feel invested was at about 85% of the way through. Barely anything of note happened up until that point. There was a lot of traveling, a lot of ho-humming, and A LOT of running away from guards.

This book felt like such a middle book that I could easily put it down. It’s way too long for what happened. I think if things were a bit more condensed then everything wouldn’t feel so drawn out. I didn’t need Grey and Lia Mara running around the countryside to get to the heart of the book.

What this book did confirm for me is how much I still don’t like Rhen. I wasn’t into him the first book, and this one didn’t help either. I can’t find anything to connect to him. He’s afraid, rude, rash in decision making and all around awful. I’m even more upset that Harper is being walked all over in this situation. I wish they had been in the book more so that I could further see how that story was progressing behind the scenes.

I’m pretty into Grey and Lia Mara. If I’m being honest, I am a shipper of Grey and Harper. SORRY NOT SORRY. But, Lia Mara is a good heroine too. And at least there was a smooth progression in their relationship and that it never jumped to anything that made me roll my eyes.

I still love Grey. He just has me smitten. I am here for him being King and ruling Emberfall. I am hoping that book three gives me the conclusion I’m craving because the ending of this left me shrugging. The orb of resurrection was alive and well for this book so now I’m wondering what that’s going to do to further the story.

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Fantasy (+romance)
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: some kisses
  • Violence: whipping, swords, animal attacks, physical, knives; not very bloody/gory

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Book Review

Book Review: The Winner's Crime (The Winner's Curse #2) by Marie Rutkoski

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Fantasy Romance
Length: 402 pages
Author: Marie Rutkoski
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Release Date: March 3rd, 2015
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Following your heart can be a crime.

A royal wedding means one celebration after another: balls, fireworks, and revelry until dawn. But to Kestrel it means living in a cage of her own making. As the wedding approaches, she aches to tell Arin the truth about her engagement: that she agreed to marry the crown prince in exchange for Arin’s freedom. But can Kestrel trust Arin? Can she even trust herself?

Kestrel is becoming very good at deception. she’s working as a spy in the court. If caught, she’ll be exposed as a traitor to her country. Yet she can’t help searching for a way to change her ruthless world…and she is close to uncovering a shocking secret.

This dazzling follow-up to The Winner’s Curse reveals the high price of dangerous lies and untrustworthy alliances. The truth will come out, and when it does, Kestrel and Arin will learn just how much their crimes will cost them.

THAT ENDING.

This is my second time reading this series. The first time I read them, I read all three in two days. You want to know why? Because by the time I finished this book I couldn’t handle not waiting another moment to read the last installment. That’s how much I love this series.

One of my favorite romances is in this fantasy. Arin and Kestrel and THE TENSION. I can’t handle the tension. I flip pages at speed waiting and hoping and hurting for them to have a moment alone where Kestrel can explain everything to Arin. This is one of the few times that lack of communication actually benefits the book (for me). Kestrel is doing everything to protect Arin and trying to play both sides of her loyalties to do so.

Kestrel is a fantastic heroine. I want to be her friend. She’s brave, bold, and utterly intelligent. I am again amazed at her ability to politcally maneuver one way, and saving those she loves the other way. Kestrel is constantly using her knowledge to help be the best spy she can be. I love her so much.

Arin is my sweet soul that I just want to hug and explain everything too. He’s so wrapped up in helping his country and making sure Kestrel is okay that it’s swoon-worthy. I love seeing his character grow up too. Arin and Kestrel both have to start being adults way sooner than planned. They make some mistakes and grow over the course of this book especially.

Those last few scenes hurt me to my core. AH. I am so wrapped up in the story at this point that there’s no way to put it down. The betrayal, the misunderstanding, the anger, the love. IT’S ALL THERE. This is the reason I keep coming back to this series.

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Fantasy Romance
  • Language: none
  • Romance: some kisses
  • Violence: poison, knives, swords, animal attacks, physical

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