Book Review

Monthly Reading Wrap-Up: July 2020

REVIVAL.

I have come back from the depths of morning sickness + reading slump to read EIGHTEEN books for July! And I even had some five stars and some really great four stars and this sentence is running on because I’m so relieved to have some “normalcy” right now.

Below are my reads! I read lots of ARCs this month that will have reviews soon and I recommend all of them for your TBR!

Favorites: Clap When You Land, The Empire of Gold, and Far From Normal
Least Favorites: Once More Upon a Time, What I Like About You, and Unravel the Dusk

  • [ARC] Where Dreams Descend (Kingdom of Cards #1) by Janella Angeles – (☆☆☆☆)
  • Clap When You Land by Elizaveth Acevedo – (☆☆☆☆☆)
  • [ARC] Miracle Creek Christmas by Krista Jensen – (☆☆☆☆)
  • The Happy Ever After Playlist (The Friend Zone #2) by Abby Jimenez – (☆☆☆☆)
  • [ARC] Fable (Fable #1) by Adrienne Young – (☆☆☆☆)
  • Once More Upon a Time by Roshani Chokshi – (☆☆☆)
  • [ARC] Well Played (Well Met #2) by Jen DeLuca – (☆☆☆☆)
  • The Wall of Winnipeg and Me by Mariana Zapata – (☆☆☆☆)
  • The Empire of Gold (The Daevabad Trilogy #3) by S.A. Chakraborty – (☆☆☆☆☆)
  • Not Like the Movies (Waiting for Tom Hanks #2) by Kerry Winfrey – (☆☆☆ 1/2)
  • What I Like About You by Marisa Kanter – (☆☆☆)
  • [ARC] The Hunter and the Mage (The Raven and the Dove #2) by Kaitlyn Davis – (☆☆☆☆)
  • Unravel the Dusk (The Blood of the Stars #2) by Elizabeth Lim – (☆☆☆ 1/2)
  • [ARC] Far From Normal by Becky Wallace – (☆☆☆☆☆)
  • Party of Two (The Wedding Date #5) by Jasmine Guillory – (☆☆☆☆)
  • The Distance Between Us by Kasie West – (☆☆☆☆)
  • The Match (It Happened in Charleston #1) by Sarah Adams – (☆☆☆ 1/2)
  • A Song of Wraiths and Ruin (A Song of Wraiths and Ruin #1) by Roseanna A. Brown – (☆☆☆☆)

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Book Review

Book Review: Of Curses and Kisses (St. Rosetta's Academy #1) by Sandhya Menon

Rating: ☆☆
Audience: YA Romance / Retelling
Length: 384 pages
Author: Sandhya Menon
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: February 18th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

The first novel in a series set at an elite international boarding school, that’s a contemporary spin on Beauty and the Beast.

Will the princess save the beast?

For Princess Jaya Rao, nothing is more important than family. When the loathsome Emerson clan steps up their centuries-old feud to target Jaya’s little sister, nothing will keep Jaya from exacting her revenge. Then Jaya finds out she’ll be attending the same elite boarding school as Grey Emerson, and it feels like the opportunity of a lifetime. She knows what she must do: Make Grey fall in love with her and break his heart. But much to Jaya’s annoyance, Grey’s brooding demeanor and lupine blue eyes have drawn her in. There’s simply no way she and her sworn enemy could find their fairy-tale ending…right?

His Lordship Grey Emerson is a misanthrope. Thanks to an ancient curse by a Rao matriarch, Grey knows he’s doomed once he turns eighteen. Sequestered away in the mountains at St. Rosetta’s International Academy, he’s lived an isolated existence—until Jaya Rao bursts into his life, but he can’t shake the feeling that she’s hiding something. Something that might just have to do with the rose-shaped ruby pendant around her neck…

As the stars conspire to keep them apart, Jaya and Grey grapple with questions of love, loyalty, and whether it’s possible to write your own happy ending.

NOT FOR ME.

With a heavy heart, I have to say, this is the worst Beauty and the Beast retelling that I’ve read so far. And oh, how I wanted to love it (even had requested it on Netgalley), but it was not meant to be. I fortunately read it through the library, and sent it back as soon as I could.

My big issue that I could not get past? Jaya, the main character. I did not like her demeanor, attitude, naivete, anything. I thought she was completely wrapped up in this revenge plot idea against Grey, when from moments of meeting it was abundantly clear that he wasn’t involved. The way she treated her sister wasn’t the best, even if it came from a place of protectiveness, it did not read that way. I was hoping that all of this would change by the end, and while it did maybe a little, I was already over it at that point.

Grey was my favorite. He was broody and was beast-like as he should be. I enjoyed how he grew and adapted over the book. I liked his character most. Pretty sure he and Isha (Jaya’s sister) were the only ones I did like reading about.

And the reveal at the end about what the rose really meant? Fell completely flat. Not as high stakes as I thought it should be (and would have upped the ante).

I’m keeping this short, no need for a long review, this just did not work out for me.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult retelling (Beauty and the Beast)
  • Language: a little strong language
  • Romance: kisses

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Book Review

Book Review: Chain of Gold (The Last Hours #1) by Cassandra Clare

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Urban Fantasy
Length: 624 pages
Author: Cassandra Clare
Publisher: McElderberry Books
Release Date: March 3rd, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Chain of Gold is the first novel in a new trilogy that stars the Shadowhunters of Edwardian London.

Welcome to Edwardian London, a time of electric lights and long shadows, the celebration of artistic beauty and the wild pursuit of pleasure, with demons waiting in the dark. For years there has been peace in the Shadowhunter world. James and Lucie Herondale, children of the famous Will and Tessa, have grown up in an idyll with their loving friends and family, listening to stories of good defeating evil and love conquering all. But everything changes when the Blackthorn and Carstairs families come to London…and so does a remorseless and inescapable plague.

James Herondale longs for a great love, and thinks he has found it in the beautiful, mysterious Grace Blackthorn. Cordelia Carstairs is desperate to become a hero, save her family from ruin, and keep her secret love for James hidden. When disaster strikes the Shadowhunters, James, Cordelia and their friends are plunged into a wild adventure which will reveal dark and incredible powers, and the true cruel price of being a hero…and falling in love.

OH THE TRAGEDY.

Let’s be honest, Cassandra Clare is fantastic at weaving high drama, high tragedy filled love stories. AND I CAN’T HELP BUT BE INVOLVED. So involved. That’s how this book snuck a four star rating out of me. I love how hopeless everything gets, and then how Clare gives me that happy ending I crave by the time the series wraps up. It’s addicting, so here I am again, reading another Shadowhunter series.

James and Cordelia. OH MY GOODNESS YES. I knew Will’s offspring would give me another guy to swoon over. I love the burgeoning sparks and the fact that a new plot/trope was added in that I haven’t seen before in these books? It really brought this up for me. I wanted to see some fresh things and got them.

I liked the plot and how everything flowed. Once again, I felt that things were luckily a bit different than others. This has peaked my interest. The combination of warlock blood, princes of hell, necromancy and ghosts have set up a series that I’m glad I decided to read.

Good news first: I looooove all the main characters: Cordelia, James, Matthew, Lucy, Jesse, Alastair, Thomas, Christopher, Anna…and I know I probably forgot someone because I’m going from memory. Which leads me to my other issue, the vast amount of characters. I had to resort to pulling up a family tree just to keep things kind of straight in my head. I appreciate a story with a great cast, but this is pushing my limits for keeping track of everyone. I can’t wait to learn more back stories and see more ships form!

And I feel inclined to say that there was plenty of Will and Tessa (and Jem) sightings that made my heart so happy. That was my initial inclination to pick up this book because I missed them so much. They were in the background more, of course, but were added in enough to make me smile.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult urban fantasy
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: kisses, intense make-outs; one no detail fade to black scene (between Will and Tessa)
  • Violence: demon battles, physical, fires, magic, near drownings

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Book Review

Book Review: Lucky Caller by Emma Mills

Rating: ☆☆
Audience: YA Contemporary
Length: 336 pages
Author: Emma Mills
Publisher: Henry Holt & Company
Release Date: January 14th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

When Nina decides to take a radio broadcasting class her senior year, she expects it to be a walk in the park. Instead, it’s a complete disaster.

The members of Nina’s haphazardly formed radio team have approximately nothing in common. And to maximize the awkwardness her group includes Jamie, a childhood friend she’d hoped to basically avoid for the rest of her life.

The show is a mess, internet rumors threaten to bring the wrath of two fandoms down on their heads, and to top it all off Nina’s family is on the brink of some major upheaval.

Everything feels like it’s spiraling out of control―but maybe control is overrated?

With the warmth, wit, intimate friendships, and heart-melting romance she brings to all her books, Emma Mills crafts a story about believing in yourself, owning your mistakes, and trusting in human connection in Lucky Caller.

NOT FEELING LUCKY.

This book let me down in a big way. It’s been awhile since I gave a two-star review because I had a hard time finding things I enjoyed about it. Lucky Caller was overall nothing I expected, and nothing I wanted.

Everything was cringe worthy, awkward, and stilted. The main character, her love interest, side characters, the plot, everything. I don’t feel like anything flowed that well and was extremely choppy. I’m usually a fan of short chapters. These chapters felt like each one was only ONE tiny scene and it was weird. Granted, it made for a very quick read (of which I was happy for), but that’s it.

There was also a portion of the book dedicated to a made-up kids game that Nina, Jamie and her sisters used to play together. I didn’t care one moment about this. I felt it brought it down and made it more juvenile. The background story as to why Nina and Jamie were continually so awkward could have been written out differently.

I don’t really want to raze on this more, it just wasn’t a match for me this time. Which I’m sad about because this gorgeous cover and cute synopsis had dragged me in.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult contemporary romance
  • Language: a little
  • Romance: kisses

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