Book Review

ARC Book Review: Far From Normal by Becky Wallace

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Contemporary Romance
Length: 240 pages
Author: Becky Wallace
Publisher: Page Street Kids
Release Date: September 22nd, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

From Stealing Home author Becky Wallace comes a Devil Wears Prada-inspired YA romance, in which “normal girl” Maddie must repair the image of Major League Soccer’s bad boy to ace her internship. A perfect read for fans of Morgan Matson and Miranda Kenneally.

Maddie McPherson is sick of Normal—both her hometown of Normal, Illinois and being the ‘normal’ sibling. But when she lands a summer internship with a sports marketing firm, she finally has a chance to crawl out of her genius brother’s shadow. Not to mention, a glowing letter of recommendation could secure her admission to her dream college.

But Maddie’s nickname is “CalaMaddie” for a reason, and when the company tasks her with repairing the image of teen soccer phenom Gabriel Fortunato, she wonders if she’s set herself up for embarrassment. Gabriel is a tabloid magnet, who’s best-known for flubbing Italy’s World Cup hopes. As Maddie works with him to develop “pleasant and friendly” content for social media, she also learns he’s thoughtful, multi-talented, and fiercely loyal—maybe even to a fault. Falling for a footballer is exactly how CalaMaddie would botch this internship, but with the firm pressuring her to get the job done, perhaps her heart is worth risking?

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for an eARC. All opinions are my own!

UTTERLY ADORABLE.

I basically read this in one sitting because of how flippin’ precious it was. I was completely smitten with this book and am going to sing its praises in this review.

Originally concerned about the length (under 300 pages), I didn’t know what to expect for my first book by Wallace. BLOWN AWAY sounds about right now. I found this quick, fast-paced young adult rom-com exactly what I needed at the time and had me grinning and laughing throughout. Don’t let the length deter you, this is an absolute gem.

Madeline was a great main character. She was under some intense pressure from multiple forces in her life and at only 17! I liked the way she handled herself, but also still felt like a teenager. It was a great combination that made me feel for and understand Madeline’s motives.

Now the precious soccer player, Gabe? I am SO HERE FOR bad boys with a heart of gold. I’m easy to please when it comes to books with this nature. Gabe and Madeline’s relationship moved well and the pace was steady and absolutely sweet. I love the little dates they went on and the support they were both giving each other.

I love the Devil Wears Prada aspects and started to see them more after I finished it when I sat there unable to think about anything else. There’s plenty of allusions that are fun and quirky that make me think this should be a movie, and that I also need to re-watch TDWP.

AH. I am just in love with this book. Think its the perfect, sweet, YA rom-com you should definitely read if you’re even the tiny bit curious. I can’t wait to read more books from her!

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Contemporary Romance
  • Language: none
  • Romance: kisses
  • Violence: bike crash

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: The Hunter and the Mage (The Raven and the Dove #2) by Kaitlyn Davis

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Fantasy
Length: 495 pages
Author: Kaitlyn Davis
Publisher: Self-published
Release Date: September 21st, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Return to the world of The Raven and the Dove, where winged people rule the skies, a lost kingdom lives at sea, and two star-crossed lovers hold the fate of each in their palms. Perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas, Sabaa Tahir, and Leigh Bardugo!

A mage written in prophecy…

When Lyana wakes in the Sea of Mist, adventure is the first thing on her mind. But between her unruly new magic and an unyielding young king, the world below comes with more responsibility than she ever dreamed. An entire civilization exists within the fog, and its survival depends entirely on her.

A hunter forged in blood…

Adrift at sea on a ship full of strangers, Rafe fights to cope with his new reality. He’ll do anything to return to the sky and the people he left behind. When a surprising offer comes his way, he instantly accepts, sparing no time to consider the consequences.

Loyalties are tested and an ancient war begins anew…

With rebellion in her heart, Cassi defies her king and befriends the prince she’s been ordered to kill. Oblivious to the threat, Xander welcomes her into his inner circle, determined to rescue his mate. As one works to help and the other to hinder, an ancient enemy stirs, forcing Cassi to choose between trusting the man who broke her heart and turning her back on everything she’s ever known.

Thank you to the author for an eARC. All opinions are my own!

ANOTHER GREAT BOOK.

I just really love this series y’all.

Admittedly yes, there’s some book two syndrome here, but nothing that truly detracted from this well built fantasy. By the time the ending was coming up things were wild and I was asking myself [again] how I was supposed to wait for the next book!

I love all of these characters. They each have a unique voice in their point-of-view chapters and it’s easy to know who’s speaking. Everyone has differing strengths and weakness that shape choices and desires. Even with characters I feel like I shouldn’t love, I find myself cheering on their future character arcs because everyone is that compelling. Lyana, Rafe, Xander, and Cassi all have these amazing and well thought out stories that I am so here for to see how they unfold.

One of my favorite aspects was how the prophecy rolled out. I tend to find these kind of gimmicky, but this was written beautifully. It even surprised me how things were unveiled, who was who, and how it all came about. I’m curious how more of the prophecy will unfold and love where it’s going.

I wish I had a few more romantic interactions (which, we know I’m a sucker for). Characters were more split up and facing their own challenges and I missed some closer interactions. Everything is so magical on screen that I crave more! [And I’m staying away from names since this is a second book and I don’t want to spoil ships/connections/friendships/etc.].

This indie series is magical, action-packed, and definitely one I would recommend picking up!

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: kisses
  • Violence: physical, magical, elemental, natural disasters, weapons

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Book Review

Book Review: Heart of Flames (Crown of Feathers #2) by Nicki Pau Preto

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Fantasy
Length: 640 pages
Author: Nicki Pau Preto
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: February 11th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Veronyka, Tristan, and Sev must stop the advancing empire from destroying the Phoenix Riders in this fiery sequel to Crown of Feathers, which #1 New York Times bestselling author Kendare Blake calls “absolutely unforgettable!”

You are a daughter of queens.

The world is balanced on the edge of a knife, and war is almost certain between the empire and the Phoenix Riders.

Like Nefyra before you, your life will be a trial by fire.

Veronyka finally got her wish to join the Riders, but while she’s supposed to be in training, all she really wants to do is fly out to defend the villages of Pyra from the advancing empire. Tristan has been promoted to Master Rider, but he has very different ideas about the best way to protect their people than his father, the commander. Sev has been sent to spy on the empire, but maintaining his cover may force him to fight on the wrong side of the war. And Veronyka’s sister, Val, is determined to regain the empire she lost—even if it means inciting the war herself.

Such is your inheritance. A name. A legacy. An empire in ruin.

As tensions reach a boiling point, the characters all find themselves drawn together into a fight that will shape the course of the empire—and determine the future of the Phoenix Riders. Each must decide how far they’re willing to go—and what they’re willing to lose in the process.

I pray you are able to pass through the flames.

I LOVE MY SHIPS.

What a good book.

I’ll get the iffy stuff out of the way, this was way too long. Some chapters and POVs really didn’t feel that necessary for most of the story. I found the beginning to drag a lot and was concerned when things would start to pick up. I’m sooooo glad they did, because that ending has me looking for the third book’s release date.

I am loving the relationships in here. Tristan and Veronyka have me feeling ALL THE THINGS. I like how slow and steady they’ve moved and how honest they have been with each other. Their bond is solid and I hope the author is a fan of happy endings or I will be gutted by the time this trilogy wraps up. Sev and Kade are super cute too. Their relationship has also developed at a perfect speed and I adored the little flirtations and shy interactions between them as the story moved. I’ll say it again, I better get happy endings for these four.

One of my favorite pieces of this series is that one of the chapter points-of-view is from the antagonist. Knowing Val’s thoughts and choices is disturbing and fascinating. I hate to love her and love to hate her. Val’s warped sense of self and what she thinks she is owed is a great aspect and counter-balance to Veronyka.

I like the way this story is moving. The way that the politics are starting to play out, there’s been some more skirmishes in the lands and things are starting to pick up. Yes, this definitely had some middle-book syndrome, but if you push through a bit the ending has set up for a fiery conclusion (look, I made a pun).

The magic system in this world is marvelous. I love that there’s bonds between animals and humans. Everything makes sense and as Veronyka learns more about her shadow magic, the more I am understanding everything as well. Veronyka’s character got a lovely arc learning about her magic (and herself) that made me fall in love with her more. I love her fierce and bold nature, but that she also really wants to love and be loved. It’s a good combo (not to mention, I’m totally smitten with Tristan, so for the third time, please give me a happy ending).

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy
  • Language: none
  • Romance: kisses
  • Violence: physical, swords, flaming birds (Phoenixes), poison

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: Well Played (Well Met #2) by Jen DeLuca

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Contemporary Romance
Length: 336 pages
Author: Jen DeLuca
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: September 22nd, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Another laugh-out-loud romantic comedy featuring kilted musicians, Renaissance Faire tavern wenches, and an unlikely love story.

Stacey is jolted when her friends Simon and Emily get engaged. She knew she was putting her life on hold when she stayed in Willow Creek to care for her sick mother, but it’s been years now, and even though Stacey loves spending her summers pouring drinks and flirting with patrons at the local Renaissance Faire, she wants more out of life. Stacey vows to have her life figured out by the time her friends get hitched at Faire next summer. Maybe she’ll even find The One.

When Stacey imagined “The One,” it never occurred to her that her summertime Faire fling, Dex MacLean, might fit the bill. While Dex is easy on the eyes onstage with his band The Dueling Kilts, Stacey has never felt an emotional connection with him. So when she receives a tender email from the typically monosyllabic hunk, she’s not sure what to make of it.

Faire returns to Willow Creek, and Stacey comes face-to-face with the man with whom she’s exchanged hundreds of online messages over the past nine months. To Stacey’s shock, it isn’t Dex—she’s been falling in love with a man she barely knows.

Thank you to Berkley and Netgalley for the eARC. All opinions are my own!

SO SWEET.

I am all over this series by Jen DeLuca. They’re adorable and easy to enjoy and get a few smiles out of me.

In differentiating from Well Met, this book follows Stacey as she goes through a lot of big life decisions. Some cards were handed to her unplanned and now she’s found herself stuck in a slump, wondering what to do next. I struggled with the way Stacey talked about herself at times. I liked that she had a good evolution over the book about finding her way. Learning to take those leaps of faith and following something you know you love.

Okay, Daniel? TOTES ADORBS. I mean, from the get go. Absolutely loved him. So flippin’ cute. He warmed my heart 100x over and was such a match for Stacey. I liked the way the initial conflict (trying to avoid spoilers) happened between them. The communication and understanding that went into seeing both sides of the story really set me up for loving this ship. And this was a continual theme that helped

Another magical setting at a Ren Fest and I am once again wishing I could go to one this year! I love the writing and magic I feel between everyone. Getting to see Simon and Emily again was also absolutely amazing. I did like Well Met more, ONLY because it had more of an enemies to lovers vibe (which is my favorite trope ever). This is more friends to lovers and I found it very sweet watching Daniel and Stacey fall in love.

And low-key, STOKED for the next book in this series and the fact it’s about Mitch and April.

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary romance
  • Language: a little (strong when used)
  • Romance: kisses / make-outs; a full chapter open door scene

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