Book Review

Book Review: Defy the Stars (Constellation #1) by Claudia Gray

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Sci-fi + romance
Length: 503 pages
Author: Claudia Gray
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: April 4th, 2017
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

She’s a soldier – Noemi Vidal is willing to risk anything to protect her planet, Genesis, including her own life. To their enemies on Earth, she’s a rebel.

He’s a machine – Abandoned in space for years, utterly alone, Abel’s advanced programming has begun to evolve. He wants only to protect his creator, and to be free. To the people of Genesis, he’s an abomination.

Noemi and Abel are enemies in an interstellar war, forced by chance to work together as they embark on a daring journey through the stars. Their efforts would end the fighting for good, but they’re not without sacrifice. The stakes are even higher than either of them first realized, and the more time they spend together, the more they’re forced to question everything they’d been taught was true.

Fast-paced, romantic, and captivating, Defy The Stars is a story about what it means to be human, about deciding what you truly believe in, and about finding your place in a dangerous world.

OH HI, A NEW FAVORITE SCI-FI.

When a Bookstagram friend shouts that she loves this book, you pick up this book. AND WOW, she was right. I without a doubt would add this to my favorite YA sci-fi lists. It was great. The audio book was fantastic too. Highly recommend listening to it if you get a chance!

It’s hard for me to formulate what I enjoyed, I just know the feeling I had when I finished it was an effervescent excitement to get to the next book. It sparked joy (that means I get to keep it right?) and that’s the best part about reading sometimes.

Totally smitten with this budding romance y’all. This kind of reminded me of LIFEL1K3 by Jay Kristoff with the mechanical robots that essentially have souls. The books are totally different, tiny pieces reminded me of them. Abel and Noemi are PRECIOUS. I love the flawed people that they are. It made me connect with them on many levels. It’s a enemies to lovers slow burn that really grasps you. It doesn’t JUMP to a relationship. This building is only going to get better over the books and I never felt like it was draaaaagging along. Everything flowed as it should which made the romance all the better.

The plot and story itself is fascinating. I loved going to all of the different planets and seeing how people from Earth had colonized and changed them. The universe really seems fast when you have a spaceship to jump through wormholes everywhere. The politics are convoluted in a way that doesn’t leave you with an enigma, just curiosity at how everything will eventually unfold. The wickedness comes from many angles and has created a fast-paced, action filled story that has caused me to pick up book two immediately.

Religion places a bigger role in this than most fantasy books I’ve read. It was interesting to see how Gray wove those details into Noemi’s thoughts and choices. I liked this addition to it because it wasn’t screaming religion, but giving the character depth. This was the life Noemi has been living and she had to learn how her old world and new world fit together.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult dystopian sci-fi
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: some kisses
  • Violence: spaceship battles, physical, explosions

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Book Review

Book Review: The Harvest (Call of the Sirens #1) by K.B. Benson

Rating: ☆☆☆
Audience: YA Fantasy / Paranormal / Mythology
Length: 380 pages
Author: K.B. Benson
Publisher: Undaunted Publishing
Release Date: August 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Sometimes the most beautiful things grow in darkness.

Iris never expected to live her life trapped on land. Nor was she prepared for what she would find there. A siren isn’t supposed to fall in love with her prey.

When Jace moved to Santa Cruz, he never imagined he’d risk his life to protect a monster. He soon finds that ancient myth has become reality. And not every pretty face is what it seems.

After Iris sings her siren’s song to Jace — a hypnotic melody that leads men to death beneath the waves — both of their worlds are turned upside down. Will Iris give in to her bloodlust or will she turn her back on everything she’s ever known?

As the tide runs red with the blood of the Harvest, Iris must choose: save the life of the human boy she loves or sacrifice her chance at humanity forever.

STARTED OFF STRONG.

I wanted to love this more than I did, and it started off pretty strong. I was invested and loving the siren/mermaid vibes (because I’m always here for books about mermaids). This ended up feeling like younger YA trying to be a more mature YA.

The background and plot were interesting. I liked having Iris beached on land and forced to take care of her siren duties. It was a bit murderous and I did like that darker side to the plot. I actually got to see the siren’s in action rather than just hints of what’s happening below the surface.

Jace was definitely my favorite character. He felt natural in the story and was a high school boy in love. Jace and Iris together were pretty cute. I liked getting to follow their relationship [at first]. Where I struggled was with the random “dates” and tangents of them hanging out to make it feel like more was happening. I wish those interactions really held more sway to the overall plot rather than feeling frilly and unnecessary. I thought Jace and Iris had a good relationship overall. The way Jace was written was rather annoying, but in a good way. You could see his obsession with Iris begin to take over his life. I thought his POV chapters were great. Jace was clearly trying to maintain a level head as the pull of Iris and the ocean became stronger.

With all the time spent on trying to force me to love their relationship it really dragged out the story, and that’s where everything started to fall apart for me. This book is nearly 400 pages long, and I’d say 150 of those weren’t wholly necessary. I thought the book was well-written minus the pacing issues.

Overall audience notes:

  • YA paranormal contemporary romance
  • Language: none
  • Romance: some kisses and an intense make-out
  • Violence: sirens attacking humans, drownings

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Top 10 Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: My Spring TBR!

Happy Top Ten Tuesday!

Oh man, I’ve got new releases, great backlist and all the in-between for my Spring TBR. It’s going to be a good season!

Imagine Me (Shatter Me #6) by Tahereh Mafi

AHHHHH WE ARE AT LAST AT THE LAST BOOK. I still don’t know if this series should have been continued, but these books are also addicting so it’s fine. I am excited to know how this will all wrap up!


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

My library hold for this is FINALLY coming through in the next two weeks. I’m going to try listening to it first. I’ve been interested in this because the rave reviews have me convinced I’ll love it.


Lucky Caller by Emma Mills

I saw this on Instagram, thought it sounded like a cute YA contemporary debut. And here we are! My library hold will come through soon and I think I’ll find it as the perfect spring book.


Voyager (Outlander #3) by Diana Gabaldon

I’m almost finished with Dragonfly in Amber, so I KNOW I will read this one in the next month. I’m trying to read one a month (because whoa every single one of these books is massive).


Aurora Burning (The Aurora Cycle #2) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

UH OF COURSE I’M READING THIS THE MOMENT IT IS IN MY HANDS. That’s all the information you need about how much I loved Aurora Rising.


Dark Shores (Dark Skies #2) by Danielle L Jensen

I was very fortunate to receive an ARC of this book, and I am thrilled. I really enjoyed Dark Shores and I’m obsessed with her other duology, The Bridge Kingdom. This is sure to be a great read!


A Murderous Relation (Veronica Speedwell #5) by Deanna Raybourn

At last, I get the ending to this series. AND AT LAST I BETTER GET A HAPPY ENDING.


Of Curses and Kisses (St. Rosetta’s Academy #1) by Sandhya Menon

A denial from Netgalley didn’t deter me from still wanting to read this. My library got it so it’s not waiting in my holds! I loooove a Beauty and the Beast retelling.


The Wall of Winnipeg and Me by Mariana Zapata

It’s time. It’s time for me to read a book from the Queen of the slow-burn romance. This is a mega contemporary and I am mega ready for it.


King of the South (Belgrave Dynasty #1) by Calia Reed

I saw a favorite author of mine recommend this, and after I looked it up I knew I wanted to read it. A historical romance that sounds oh so good.

What books are on your Spring TBR? Do we have any of the same ones? Lets talk in the comments!

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Book Review

Book Review: Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: Historical fiction romance
Length: 368 pages
Author: Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Release Date: October 3rd, 2017
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

New York Times bestselling author Hazel Gaynor has joined with Heather Webb to create this unforgettably romantic novel of the Great War.

August 1914. England is at war. As Evie Elliott watches her brother, Will, and his best friend, Thomas Harding, depart for the front, she believes—as everyone does—that it will be over by Christmas, when the trio plan to celebrate the holiday among the romantic cafes of Paris.

But as history tells us, it all happened so differently…

Evie and Thomas experience a very different war. Frustrated by life as a privileged young lady, Evie longs to play a greater part in the conflict—but how?—and as Thomas struggles with the unimaginable realities of war he also faces personal battles back home where War Office regulations on press reporting cause trouble at his father’s newspaper business. Through their letters, Evie and Thomas share their greatest hopes and fears—and grow ever fonder from afar. Can love flourish amid the horror of the First World War, or will fate intervene?

Christmas 1968. With failing health, Thomas returns to Paris—a cherished packet of letters in hand—determined to lay to rest the ghosts of his past. But one final letter is waiting for him…

I WANT TO TAKE UP LETTER WRITING NOW.

Oooooooh y’all.

A historical fiction romance written in letter format about World War 1.

That should be the only sentence you need because this was emotional and fantastic. I couldn’t put it down and because of the format it’s a VERY quick read. It appeared very well researched and this had me flipping pages faster than I could manage because I needed to know what happened next.

I love the way the love story was written. It was slow and steady and they fell in love over letter writing guys!! HOW ROMANTIC IS THAT? Both of them holding each other up as dark times flowed between them as the horrors of war took over. It was mesmerizing and I went into full panic mode trying to make sure their was a happy ending.

This had great Christmas vibes as they constantly dreamed of having Christmas in Paris together someday when the war was over. Definitely one of my Christmas favorites now. I love the backdrop of World War 1 because I feel that WW2 usually gets all of the historical fiction books/movies. I try to pick up anything that has a different setting because I love seeing authors takes on characters thrown into real history. It’s magical and enchanting and hits you right in the heart.

I feel as if I can gush more, but also can’t find the words because it was just a great book. And sometimes that’s the only sentence a review needs.

Overall audience notes:

  • Historical fiction romance
  • Language: none
  • Romance: kisses
  • Violence: description of war [namely WW1]
  • Trigger warnings: PTSD (described as war nervousness/neurosis because of the time period), depression, suicidal thoughts, loss of loved ones

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Book Review

Book Review: Faking Under the Mistletoe by Ashley Shepherd

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: Contemporary romance
Length: 327 pages
Author: Ashley Shepherd
Publisher: Self-published
Release Date: November 8th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Olivia Langley is the human embodiment of Christmas cheer, and she has absolutely no problem spreading it around for all to hear.

Christmas sweaters? She has twenty. Christmas cookies? She’ll take three dozen. Christmas movies? Yeah, she’s seen them all.

So it’s no surprise when she’s put in charge of Loveridge & McGowan’s holiday festivities. Secret Santas? Yep. Ice skating? Of course. Holiday trivia? Duh. Christmas-themed bar crawl? That’s one big jingle bell hell yes.

Kissing her boss at a Christmas tree lighting in front of his ex-girlfriend? Well… it is the season of giving.

And Olivia does not come with a gift receipt. No exchanges. No returns. No refunds. All sales are final.

In an effort to ungrinch the grinchiest man she’s ever met, Olivia enlists herself, Santa’s Executive Helper, to scheme up a plan that includes sleigh rides, snow days, and one too many mistletoe kisses, which certainly gets Asher’s tinsel in a tangle.

She’s pretty sure that she sleighed this whole fake dating thing.

Well… until she realizes there’s nothing fake about her feelings for Asher, and suddenly tangled tinsel, unsolicited Christmas trees, and celebrity heartthrobs are the least of her worries.

YAAAAAS TO THIS CHRISTMAS CONTEMPORARY.

Kindle unlimited, indie author, bookstagram recommendation FOR. THE. WIN.

No really. A grumpy guy, a effervescent woman, and Christmas? Hit this one out of the ballpark.

I love enemies to lovers and books like this remind me why. I love the juxtaposition between the two of them. The banter was fantastic and didn’t over step that line of actually being mean to each other. I was laughing to myself over some of the scenes in there because they were too humorous not too. This office romance (with a fake girlfriend component) was PRECIOUS.

Asher was such a charming Grinch. Can’t even handle him. He could throw out the sarcasm and grumpiness then turn around and be considerate and kind. I love seeing those layers peel away slowly as he opened up to Olivia.

Olivia had me laughing at her antics and I feel spiritually seen with how much she loves treats. Her extrovert, people pleasing personality that screamed Christmas was fantastic. She went on her own emotional journey [because of some awful people] that shed lighter on tough subject matter. Olivia was a strong heroine that I immensely enjoyed reading about.

This book was romantic and sweet. Full of emotions and tough moments. Love and charismatic characters. All the things. I can’t wait to read more of Shepherd’s books because this was exactly what I was looking for when I tried to find a contemporary Christmas romance.

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary romance [Christmas theme]
  • Language: some strong
  • Romance: kisses, make-outs, one little detailed almost scene, and another little detailed fade out scene
  • Trigger warnings: sexual assault to the MC and mentions and discussions on the man’s behavior with others

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Book Review

Book Review: Fame, Fate and the First Kiss (Love, Life, and the List #2) by Kasie West

Rating: ☆☆☆
Audience: YA contemporary romance
Length: 384 pages
Author: Kasie West
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: February 5th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Fan favorite author Kasie West delivers an effervescent story about chasing your dreams and following your heart, perfect for fans of Jenny Han and Huntley Fitzpatrick.

Lacey Barnes has dreamed of being an actress for as long as she can remember. So when she gets the opportunity to star in a movie alongside one of Hollywood’s hottest actors, she doesn’t hesitate to accept the part.

But Lacey quickly learns that life in the spotlight isn’t as picture perfect as she imagined. She’s having trouble bonding with her costars, her father has hired the definition of a choir boy, Donavan Lake, to tutor her, and somewhere along the way she’s lost her acting mojo. And just when it seems like things couldn’t get any worse, it looks like someone on set is deliberately trying to sabotage her.

As Lacey’s world spins out of control, it feels like the only person she can count on—whether it’s helping her try to unravel the mystery of who is out to get her or snap her out of her acting funk—is Donavan. But what she doesn’t count on is this straight-laced boy becoming another distraction.

With her entire future riding on this movie, Lacey knows she can’t afford to get sidetracked by a crush. But for the first time in her life Lacey wonders if it’s true that the best stories really do happen when you go off script.

CUTE, BUT EH.

This was my first Kasie West book y’all. I feel I could have chosen better. This was a case of an audio book being available and I now realize my mistake. NOT enough to turn me off of picking up another West book, but to be more picky about it.

Audio notes: The narrator was fine, the only thing I didn’t love was that I felt she really played on the younger voice for the MC. Which in turn made me not love her as much. It made Lacy seem really young, rather than almost 18.

This was a cute young adult rom-com. Nothing flashy, nothing crazy, just a simple read. I did enjoy it. I was looking for more though. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but something was missing.

I didn’t love Lacy as an MC. She did get better over time, it took a long time to get there though. Lacy was naive and purposely difficult while also trying to be everyone’s friend. It was an odd combo. I think Donovan in the picture helped her out. I did really love him (as I do usually prefer the book boyfriend). He was sweet, charming, and way more down to earth. I did love that this was a clean and young audience friendly romance. Some tender kisses was all this book needed to be pleasant.

Between each chapter were scenes from the movie Lacy was recording and I thought by the end I would understand why there were there…nope. Purely to add pages in my mind. I didn’t think they added anything other than us knowing what the movie was about, but it never pertained to the story. It would take me out of the real story every time it went to those scenes.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult contemporary romance
  • Language: none
  • Romance: some kisses
  • Trigger warnings: I felt like Lacy had an unhealthy relationship with food, a few sentences in there made me cringe about how she viewed food, this didn’t over take the book in anyway, just something I noticed

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Book Review

Book Review: Happiness for Beginners by Katherine Center

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Contemporary fiction + romance
Length: 320 pages
Author: Katherine Center
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Release Date: March 24th, 2015
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

A year after getting divorced, Helen Carpenter, thirty-two, lets her annoying, ten years younger brother talk her into signing up for a wilderness survival course. It’s supposed to be a chance for her to pull herself together again, but when she discovers that her brother’s even-more-annoying best friend is also coming on the trip, she can’t imagine how it will be anything other than a disaster. Thus begins the strangest adventure of Helen’s well-behaved life: three weeks in the remotest wilderness of a mountain range in Wyoming where she will survive mosquito infestations, a surprise summer blizzard, and a group of sorority girls.

Yet, despite everything, the vast wilderness has a way of making Helen’s own little life seem bigger, too. And, somehow the people who annoy her the most start teaching her the very things she needs to learn. Like how to stand up for herself. And how being scared can make you brave. And how sometimes you just have to get really, really lost before you can even have a hope of being found.

TIME FOR MY OWN HIKING ADVENTURE.

Picked this audio book up on a whim because bookstagram made me do it. I feel when this happens it has really helped me get to read books I normally wouldn’t have scene or had a chance to read. Yay for a backlist winner!

Audio notes: I enjoyed the audio! I wouldn’t say it’s my favorite narrator, but I didn’t mine the way the book was read and was able to listen at an increased speed with no issues.

Back to the book, oh this one hits all the feels. Not only is this a romance, but it’s also about facing trials. Having to conquer some crappy situations, grow from them and letting them go. I liked seeing the inner struggles and the true human sentiments of these difficulties. I felt connected to the main characters, Helen and Jack, and really understood their turmoil. Neither were perfect protagonists and that made this all the better of a book.

The romance was a bit different than usual couples I read about, but the way this was written had me shouting in my head to get together. Why is it different? There’s a 10 year age difference. I don’t have an issue with that, it’s just new to me in books I’ve read! The approach and slow-burn between them was dynamite. This isn’t a super steamy read because the focus is on other matters. Jack and Helen both helped each other through their issues and I was ecstatic to get my happyily ever after.

This definitely reminded me of Wild by Cheryl Strayed. It was a fictional version of that type of adventure novel. How the outdoors awakens an inner part of us. This type of book always makes me want to go on my own kind of wilderness trip to see what things I’d learn.

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary fiction + romance
  • Language: a little
  • Romance: some kisses and make-outs
  • Violence: falling on a broken log
  • Trigger warnings: a few mentions of a past miscarriage (and a small description of the day she lost the baby), loss of a sibling, attempted suicide

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